Saturday Open Thread

The Friends of Distinction are an American vocal group best known for their late 1960s hits, “Grazing in the Grass“, “Love or Let Me Be Lonely“, and “Going in Circles“. Founded by Harry Elston and Floyd Butler, The Friends of Distinction also included Jessica Cleavesand Barbara Jean Love (plus Charlene Gibson, who replaced Love during her pregnancy).

Elston and Butler’s involvement in music entailed several groups, including the Hi-Fis, Ray Charles‘ backing band. The Hi-Fis also included Lamont McLemore and Marilyn McCoo, who would go on to be members of The 5th Dimension. When the group disbanded in 1966, Elston and Butler recruited Cleaves and Love for a new band; initially, Elston came up with the name Distinctive Friends, but Love suggested reversing the words to Friends of Distinction.

About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
This entry was posted in Current Events, Love, Music, Open Thread, Politics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

96 Responses to Saturday Open Thread

  1. creolechild says:

    ~BREAKING NEWS~ You’re going to love this!

    These all-too-rare moments are damned gratifying, aren’t they?

    In a swift affirmation of Arizona’s fast growing and powerful new political movement, Secretary of State Ken Bennett notified Gov. Jan Brewer that the once seemingly invincible architect of the state’s controversial SB 1070 “papers please” immigration law has officially been recalled. Bennett confirmed that the recall petitions delivered by the Citizens for a Better Arizona “exceeds the minimum signatures required by the Arizona Constitution.”

    “Let’s make no mistake about it,” said Randy Parraz, co-founder of the Citizens for a Better Arizona. “Russell Pearce has been recalled.”

    According to Bennett’s statement, Pearce has two options: Resign from office within five business days, or become a candidate in the recall election. Either way, Pearce becomes the first state senate president in recent memory to be recalled in the nation.

    “No one expected this or picked up on this political earthquake,” said Parraz, one of the main organizers behind the extraordinary grassroots campaign, which electrified a bipartisan effort in Pearce’s Mesa district. Parraz credited a “dramatic shift” over the past six months due to Pearce’s often extremist leadership in state senate.

    “We had people pouring into the office,” Parraz said, citing the role of Republicans, Democrats and Independents in the door-to-door canvassing initiative, “and they told us: Russell Pearce is too extreme for our district and state.”


  2. rikyrah says:

    Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Celebrates 100 Years

    By: Erin E. Evans | Posted: July 9, 2011

    Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. is celebrating its centennial in Indianapolis this weekend, where it was founded in January 1911 at Indiana University Bloomington.

    Dwayne Murray, polemarch of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., tells Michel Martin of NPR’s Tell Me More:

    Oh, I see a wonderful century. You know, I think for Kappa Alpha Psi, our history is beautiful, but the future will be so much brighter. For example, we are moving our organization not only being a social entity, but now to make sure that we are part of the entire community service of this nation. Kappa Alpha Psi just recently raised over $1.4 million for St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital.

    We’re currently in a program to raise a million dollars for Piney Woods Country Life School, one of the last remaining African-American boarding schools. There are many things that Kappa men can do and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to be a part of second century Kappa.

  3. Ametia says:

    House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) abandoned efforts Saturday night to reach a comprehesive debt-reduction deal, telling President Obama that a mid-size package was the only politically possible alternative to avoid a first-ever default on the nation’s mounting national debt.

  4. rikyrah says:

    9 Jul 2011 07:12 PM
    Pay The Gay Away

    by Chris Bodenner

    Mariah Blake builds the case against the Bachmann family business:

    “That’s a false statement,” [Marcus Bachmann] replied when the Minneapolis City Pages asked if his clinic tried to cure gays. And until now there was no firm evidence to back these allegations up. But information obtained by The Nation suggests that Bachmann & Associates therapists do, in fact, try to change sexual orientation. It also sheds new light on the Bachmanns’ embrace of the controversial ex-gay movement and related psychological approaches, which portray homosexuality as a disease to be rooted out.

    Some of the most potent material was provided by Truth Wins Out, a gay rights group that opposes the ex-gay movement.

    … [Activist John] Becker’s therapist (another of Marcus Bachmann’s employees) repeatedly assured him that homosexuality could be overcome. “At the core value…in terms of how God created us, we’re all heterosexual,” he explained, according to the footage. “God has created you for heterosexuality.” The therapist also mined Becker’s personal history for traumatic experiences that might have turned him gay. To curb Becker’s gay impulses, the therapist urged him to pray and read Scripture and suggested Becker “develop” his masculinity. He also encouraged him to find a “heterosexual guy” to act as act as an AA-type sponsor.

    Igor Volskly adds another data point:

    In 2004, as ex-gay proponents “Love Won Out” prepared to hold their annual conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota for those “struggling with unwanted homosexuality,” [Michele] Bachmann not only lent a quote for the group’s press release but also “opened the conference [pdf] with a greeting and blessing.”

  5. rikyrah says:

    For My Brother, It Was Rocket Science
    His childhood dream of becoming an astronaut led him to launch rockets into space.

    By: Richard T. Watkins | Posted: July 9, 2011 at 12:34 AM

    The final space shuttle launch this week takes me back to a time when my brother Charles turned our attic into a spaceship where the neighborhood kids would play astronaut. The captain would sit at an old school desk, steering a course through the front window, a portal to outer space and endless adventure. The slanted walls were crammed with every solar system map, dial and gadget that could be ordered with cereal-box tops.

    Charles was usually the commander on these flights of fantasy, and he ruled the cabin with the seriousness of Captain Kirk at the helm of the Starship Enterprise. As space cadets, we were expected to recline against the wall and distort our faces to simulate the effect of g-forces upon takeoff. Thereafter, we were generally expected to follow the captain’s orders.

    Those were the days before video games. The cabin of our attic spaceship was a treasure trove of playthings gained from promotions targeting kids. Kellogg’s Pep cereal supplied us with Tom Corbett Space Cadet Goggles with special X-ray vision. TV’s Captain Midnight provided Secret Squadron Decoder Badges that allowed us to send coded messages. Boys’ Life magazine chipped in an assortment of military chevrons and badges that we used to designate rank. Ovaltine malted milk mix gave us deeds to 1-square-inch parcels of land in Alaska that we repurposed to represent real estate on the moon.

    The truth is, until President John F. Kennedy made his famous speech in 1961 promising to put a man on the moon, America’s manned space program was pretty much a figment of the imaginations of kids and sci-fi-movie makers. Today the U.S. celebrates 50 years of manned space flight. And humans haven’t only walked on the moon — they have lived continuously at the International Space Station for the past 10 years.

    The year after Kennedy made his speech, he recommended an Air Force test pilot, Capt. Edward Dwight, to be the first black candidate for astronaut training. But Dwight’s ascension into space never materialized. He never got beamed up.

    It wasn’t until 1967 that Jet magazine announced that Maj. Robert Lawrence of the Air Force had the right stuff to become an astronaut. Tragically, Lawrence was killed in the crash of an F-104 Starfighter jet during a training mission with a student pilot.

    The first black man to actually make it into space was Arnaldo Méndez, a Cuban who took the trip aboard a Russian Soyuz in 1980. The U.S. was determined not to be outdone. NASA had three African-American astronauts ready to go: Col. Guion S. Bluford, Col. Frederick D. Gregory and scientist Ronald E. McNair.

    Bluford was the first African American to go where none had gone before — into outer space. As a youngster, he built model airplanes much as my brother did. Mostly, my brother assembled cool plastic fighter jets with swept-back wings and intimidating names like the F-101 Voodoo, the F-102 Delta Dagger and the F-105 Thunder Chief.

    While Bluford was a young pilot climbing into cockpits on his way to becoming an astronaut, my brother Charles was a young engineer with a slide rule on his way to becoming a rocket scientist. For nearly a decade he toiled in the New Mexico desert working on rocket and missile projects so secret that he is still not allowed to talk about them.

  6. rikyrah says:

    I’m just gonna say it . Black folks like myself continue to tell ignorant White folks…

    ” one day you’re gonna roll upon the wrong one”

    Abbey rolled up on the wrong one.

    somebody better tell them – turn the other cheek died April 4, 1968.


    Skinhead white supremacist beat unconscious after duel with African American boxer

    Submitted by Anissa Ford on 2011-07-09

    Boxer Marlon Baker, 46-years-old and African American, was in an Idaho bar Sunday night (July 3) when a white supremacist skinhead wanted to start something.

    The skinhead, Daren C. Abbey told Baker to get out of the club because blacks weren’t allowed there. Abbey has nazi swastikas and tattoos with racist symbols all over his upper body.

    Baker, who was sporting a tee-shirt that read “Spokane Boxing Club Champion” on the back of it made his way out of the bar. Only to be followed by Abbey.

    Baker left the bar because he didn’t want a confrontation. None of the reports describing the incident say if Baker or Abbey were accompanied by others.

    Abbey made a few more racial slurs outside of the bar and pushed Baker. In turn, Baker punched Abbey in the face once knocking him out cold. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that Abbey was arrested and booked on battery charges and felony malicious harassment once he regained consciousness.

    Both sheriff deputies and an ambulance responded to the waterfront incident.

    Abbey’s arrest photo is taken with the right side of his face as well as his nose taped neatly in a white bandage. In the mugshot, Abbey’s nostril is stuffed with cotton, presumably to keep blood from gushing out of his nose. He was treated for a possible broken nose after he was booked.

    The incident took place in Bayview, Idaho. Abbey was described by Idaho sheriff law enforcement as a white supremacist with numerous tattoos, at least three Nazi swastikas, and other racist symbols on his arms, neck and torso.

    In recent years, skinhead attacks in the United States have been leveled at Native Americans, Latinos and Arabs. In addition to random violence, skinhead gang members rob and steal from homeowners.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Saturday, July 9, 2011
    No Dealing On The Debt Ceiling, Part 31
    Posted by Zandar

    Ahh, the Debt Ceiling battle. You know something’s up when Orange Julius has gone right back to his position from early this year, which is “If we don’t raise the debt ceiling and America defaults, it’ll be catastrophic for the economy.”

    In a political role reversal Friday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) warned that Congress risks severely harming the economy and exacerbating the unemployment crisis if it fails to raise the national debt ceiling in the next four weeks.
    “While some think we can go past August 2nd, I frankly think it puts us in an awful lot of jeopardy, and puts our economy in jeopardy, risking even more jobs,” Boehner told reporters at his weekly Capitol briefing.

    So what’s his game? Why the reversal? Republicans have not only spent months trying to convince Americans of the fallacy that federal government spending should operate exactly like an American family’s finances (“macroeconomics at the highest level should work exactly like microeconomics at the smallest” which is patently ridiculous) but they’ve been adding that the country can default on its debt and miss a payment without any real world consequences, either.

    I’ve said for months now that the consequences of a default would be to cause interest rates to double or triple from their current position. The cost of borrowing gobs of money would skyrocket, and Wall Street has been happily borrowing gobs of money at ridiculously low interest rates for a couple of years now. They’re having a great time doing it, too. Corporate profits are up sharply. Stockholders are generally happy. CEOs are raking in the cash. For Wall Street especially, they’ve got all kinds of cash to play Big Casino games with the economy just like they were during all of the last decade. A default would mean the end of the gravy train.

    The Crazy Tea Party wing and the Greedy Evil Corporate wing of the GOP are now in open conflict. Eric Cantor, Michele Bachmann, Jim DeMint, Rick Santorum and the rest may be taking orders from the former, but Orange Julius is taking his orders from the latter, and they want this debt ceiling default nonsense gone. Yes, the Tea Party types have been shrieking that raising the debt ceiling will be done over their politically dead bodies, but the guys with the gold-plated toilets and the billion-dollar hedge fund manager incomes figure they’re in charge of the Republicans, and Orange Julius here proves it.

    Oh yes, the Tea Party will threaten to remove Boehner from power, just like they did in December when President Obama pulled a fast one over on them. He’s not going anywhere. Not unless the voters across the river from me in the tony Cincy suburbs north of the 275 loop suddenly develop souls. I said long ago that the GOP would never be allowed to blow up the bond markets. This complete reversal proves the moneyed interests are now playing hardball and want a deal ironed out now. Orange Julius has been given his marching orders.

    The only question at this point is what the details of the deal are. But it’s happening and soon.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Saturday, July 9, 2011
    More On The Most Spiked Story This Year
    Posted by Zandar
    There’s been very little said about the biggest domestic terror story of the year: the white supremacist movement in the Pacific Northwest, its connections to a bomb planted at the Spokane, Washington MLK Day parade in January, and what it really means in an America with a black President. There’s been little to no information to report about suspect Kevin William Harpham, but after six months the legal defense for Harpham is beginning to firm up.

    Kevin Harpham’s attorneys wrote late last month that none of the four definitions of a “weapon of mass destruction” in federal law referenced an “improvised explosive device.”

    “Mr. Harpham’s preparation for trial, including his consultation with potential expert witnesses and confrontation of government witnesses will differ, depending on what legal definition of ‘weapon of mass destruction’ forms the basis of the indictment,” Kimberly A. Deate and Kailey E. Moran wrote on Harpham’s behalf. “Clarification of this issue will also ultimately be necessary for the formulation of jury instructions.”

    In a motion this week, federal prosecutors responded to a request for a bill of particulars by attorneys for Harpham. The Justice Department’s lawyers said that under federal law a weapon of mass destruction is a destructive device, which is defined as an explosive, incendiary or poison gas bomb, grenade, rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces, missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce or mine.

    In other words, his lawyers aren’t going for the defense that Harpham wasn’t trying to kill black celebrants at a parade to honor the nation’s most famous civil rights leader, but that the device he was using to try to kill people didn’t have enough bang to be considered a weapon of mass destruction. That’s what his lawyers are saying.

    Awesome. Maybe David Duke should make a statement on Harpham’s behalf as part of his Presidential campaign.

  9. creolechild says:

    Recently, discussion was held about ways to share information and let people know about other blogs that are out there. Through the efforts of Deaniac at The People’s View here is the jump off–which hopefully will become a regular feature. Thank you, Deaniac, and BRAVO!

    Here we go, the first edition of the Pragmatic Progressive linky goodness on TPV.

    * Chipsticks at The Obama Diary is wondering what’s up with all these Professional Left detractors of President Obama being former (?) Republicans.

    * Dennis G. over at Balloon Juice explains how the grifters are working to spread lies about President Obama and entitlement benefits in order to cash in.

    * Blackwaterdog at her blog The Only Adult in the Room has the President’s statement on the US recognition of the world’s newest independent country, South Sudan, complete with pictures that show the hope in the birth of a nation.

    * Zander at the Angry Black Lady Chronicles has a piece on how it’s Speaker Boehner that is caving and changing his tune on the debt ceiling. Hmm, I thought it was President Obama that was caving in? That’s what the Professional Left keeps telling me!

    * Smartypants at Smartypants (newest addition our blogroll!) covers Nate Silver’s analysis on ideological alignments of the political parties.

    * Miranda at W.E.E. See You has the video of Rev. Sharpton discussing Republican disenfranchisement of minority voters on MSNBC.

    For today, I will leave it at that. Of course, feel free to share articles you find interesting in the comments. And now, a word about getting the word out for the pragmatic progressive blogging community.

    Spreading the Word

    If you read progressive blogs that are actually working to advocate for accomplishments and not just screaming – that is, if you are reading PragProg blogs, please help spread the message. Share the articles you like – through social networks, through email, through whatever means you can. It’s easy to do. Most blogs these days come with ready-made ways to share. Twitter and Facebook are of course the two most frequent mediums of sharing, but they are not the only ones. The People’s View, for example comes with the share button up top along with Facebook, Twitter and Google +1 buttons. Use those buttons. Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, Stumbleupon, even email. If you point your mouse to the orange “+” button, you will see a myriad of other share options open up, in case you use/prefer any of those other services. Other blogs have the same type of sharing options. Look for them and use them.

    You can also add sharing options to your browser. There are many tools to do so; one of my favorites is Shareaholic. To use it, just go to and click on the “Shareaholic for your browser” button.

    Sharing is the only way we can break through and get noticed. We don’t have people on TV amplifying our message. We don’t have the media or the Professional Left because, frankly, we are an antidote to their revenue generating model of hair-on-fire, scream-and-moan, reality-free “journalism.” So if you want others to read what you like, don’t assume they will just find their way. Tell them. Share us.

  10. rikyrah says:

    Political Animal
    July 09, 2011 10:30 AM The Poseur

    By Steve Benen

    Soon after the June job numbers were released, Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney issued a statement predictably condemning President Obama and his team. “With their cavalier attitude about the economy, the White House has turned the audacity of hope into the audacity of indifference,” Romney said.

    It was an absurd line, but it was also consistent with the recent themes Romney has embraced with both arms. As the former governor sees it, people are struggling and Romney’s the one who cares most about their plight.

    Frank Rich’s first piece for New York magazine ran this week, and it’s principally focused on criticizing the Obama administration for not going after Wall Street nearly aggressively enough. But the piece also featured a fascinating condemnation of Mitt Romney, described as a “poseur,” and whose attempts at claiming credibility on unemployment are truly laughable.

    No one doubts that Romney is a shape-shifter par excellence, whether on abortion, health care, cap and trade, or the Detroit bailout (which he predicted would speed GM and Chrysler to their doom). In his last presidential run, he was caught fabricating both his prowess as a hunter and a nonexistent civil-rights march starring his father and Martin Luther King. But to masquerade as a latter-day FDR is a new high in chutzpah even by his standards. […]

    It’s a record Romney perennially tries to cover up. It may have cost him his Senate race against Ted Kennedy in 1994. In that campaign, Romney was stalked by a “Truth Squad” of striking workers from a Marion, Indiana, paper plant who had lost jobs, wages, health care, and pensions after Ampad, a Bain subsidiary, took control. Ampad eventually went bankrupt, but Bain walked away with $100 million for its $5 million investment. It was an all-too-typical Romney story, which is why Mike Huckabee could nail him with his memorable 2008 wisecrack: “I want to be a president who reminds you of the guy you work with, not the guy who laid you off.” Stephen Colbert recently topped Huckabee, portraying Romney as a cross between Gordon Gekko and Jack Kevorkian because of the profitable mercy killings of companies in Bain’s care. When Romney was governor, his record was no better. A Northeastern University analysis of his term (2003-6) found that Massachusetts was one of only two states to have no growth in their labor forces. The other was Louisiana, which happened to have an excuse named Katrina.

    That Romney thinks he can pass himself off as the working stiff’s savior and Obama as the second coming of the out-of-touch patrician George H.W. Bush of 1992 truly turns reality on its head.

    When pressed, Romney generally cites his success with the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 as evidence of his ability to create jobs. What he neglects to mention is that Romney created jobs by hiring lobbyists to get more taxpayer money for the winter games. Indeed, the anti-spending conservative received more federal funding for his Olympics than any in U.S. history.

    OK, so Romney didn’t create a lot of jobs with the Olympics. And in the private sector, Romney slashed American jobs as if his career depended on it — because it did.

    Complicating matters, during Romney’s only service in public office, his state’s record on job creation was “one of the worst in the country.” How bad was it? During his tenure, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 states in jobs growth.

    Despite all of this, Romney has decided to not only build his entire campaign around the jobs issue, but also position himself as a champion of the unemployed. I assume that the only reason Democrats aren’t incessantly labeling Romney as “the anti-jobs candidate” is that they’re waiting to bury him with his record in the general election.

    As a purely political matter, unemployment is a key obstacle for the president’s re-election. Is Obama lucky enough to have Republicans nominate the candidate whose weakest issue is jobs?

  11. creolechild says:

    Thank you, Zander!

    There’s been very little said about the biggest domestic terror story of the year: the white supremacist movement in the Pacific Northwest, its connections to a bomb planted at the Spokane, Washington MLK Day parade in January, and what it really means in an America with a black President. There’s been little to no information to report about suspect Kevin William Harpham, but after six months the legal defense for Harpham is beginning to firm up.

    Kevin Harpham’s attorneys wrote late last month that none of the four definitions of a “weapon of mass destruction” in federal law referenced an “improvised explosive device.”

    “Mr. Harpham’s preparation for trial, including his consultation with potential expert witnesses and confrontation of government witnesses will differ, depending on what legal definition of ‘weapon of mass destruction’ forms the basis of the indictment,” Kimberly A. Deate and Kailey E. Moran wrote on Harpham’s behalf. “Clarification of this issue will also ultimately be necessary for the formulation of jury instructions.”

    In a motion this week, federal prosecutors responded to a request for a bill of particulars by attorneys for Harpham. The Justice Department’s lawyers said that under federal law a weapon of mass destruction is a destructive device, which is defined as an explosive, incendiary or poison gas bomb, grenade, rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces, missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce or mine.

    In other words, his lawyers aren’t going for the defense that Harpham wasn’t trying to kill black celebrants at a parade to honor the nation’s most famous civil rights leader, but that the device he was using to try to kill people didn’t have enough bang to be considered a weapon of mass destruction. That’s what his lawyers are saying.

    Awesome. Maybe David Duke should make a statement on Harpham’s behalf as part of his Presidential campaign.

  12. creolechild says:

    Thank you, asiangrrlMN and Angry Black Lady Chronicles!

    Hello, Bitchez. I’ve been off the grid for a bit, and I’ve missed you guys. However, I’ve been doing my part in securing our country’s borders. How? By strengthening relations between us and our neighbors to the north*. It’s hard work, but someone has to do it. I stayed away from the intertubez for the most part, so while I knew the basics of what was happening in politics, I didn’t know many of the details. Oddly enough (or not so oddly), I didn’t miss it at all. When you’re absorbed in politics on a daily basis, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that people in the real world, for the most part, don’t give a fuck about the minutiae that we political junkies pour over. Mostly, they care about a sucky economy, an anemic job-growth situation, plunging or stagnant housing markets, and not knowing how they are going to feed their family on a daily basis.

    It’s frustrating because it’s pretty obvious to those of us who follow politics that the Republicans are in a ‘burn everything to the ground’ mode in order to hew to their political ideology. We’ve seen the Republicans thin their party over the past decade or so** until there’s nothing left but pure eau de batshitcraziness left. It used to be that a Republican president could actually raise taxes (cough, cough, Ronald Reagan, the GOP hero raised taxes, as did the first Bush) because that was what was best for the country. Now, the Republicans pledge allegiance to the Taxpayer Protection Pledge of Grover Norquist that vows to never ever ever raise taxes. Ever. Under any circumstances. ’Coz taxes are bad and evil and shit like that. So, read his lips: No new taxes. How well did that work out for Bush I? So now we have the debt ceiling crisis bullshit where once again the Republicans hold the country hostage as they demand a getaway car, eleven-billionty dollars in untraceable cash, and a large supreme pizza with everything on it.

    I didn’t want to get back into politics after my vacay away. I get depressed reading all the shit and thinking about how fucked up our system is. I thought, what’s the point of being so immersed and riding through all the ups and downs? Why not just contribute monetarily and vote straight Dem for the rest of my life? The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind–er, rather, I can’t walk away from politics because it’s in my blood. And so, I’m dipping my toes back into the pool of politics, and I’m going to focus more on local politics because it’s a sad state of political affairs in my home state. I have never followed local politics too closely (more painful than following national politics), but that’s going to change for this upcoming campaign season.

  13. rikyrah says:

    Shame on them
    The Republicans are playing a cynical political game with hugely high economic stakes

    IN THREE weeks, if there is no political deal, the American government will go into default. Not, one must pray, on its sovereign debt. But the country will have to stop paying someone: perhaps pensioners, or government suppliers, or soldiers. That would be damaging enough at a time of economic fragility. And the longer such a default went on, the greater the risk of provoking a genuine bond crisis would become.

    There is no good economic reason why this should be happening. America’s net indebtedness is a perfectly affordable 65% of GDP, and throughout the past three years of recession and tepid recovery investors have been more than happy to go on lending to the federal government. The current problems, rather, are political. Under America’s elaborate separation of powers, Congress must authorise any extension of the debt ceiling, which now stands at $14.3 trillion. Back in May the government bumped up against that limit, but various accounting dodges have been used to keep funds flowing. It is now reckoned that these wheezes will be exhausted by August 2nd.

    The House of Representatives, under Republican control as a result of last November’s mid-term elections, has balked at passing the necessary bill. That is perfectly reasonable: until recently the Republicans had been exercising their clear electoral mandate to hold the government of Barack Obama to account, insisting that they will not permit a higher debt ceiling until agreement is reached on wrenching cuts to public spending. Until they started to play hardball in this way, Mr Obama had been deplorably insouciant about the medium-term picture, repeatedly failing in his budgets and his state-of-the-union speeches to offer any path to a sustainable deficit. Under heavy Republican pressure, he has been forced to rethink.

    The sticking-point is not on the spending side. It is because the vast majority of Republicans, driven on by the wilder-eyed members of their party and the cacophony of conservative media, are clinging to the position that not a single cent of deficit reduction must come from a higher tax take. This is economically illiterate and disgracefully cynical.

    A gamble where you bet your country’s good name

    This newspaper has a strong dislike of big government; we have long argued that the main way to right America’s finances is through spending cuts. But you cannot get there without any tax rises. In Britain, for instance, the coalition government aims to tame its deficit with a 3:1 ratio of cuts to hikes. America’s tax take is at its lowest level for decades: even Ronald Reagan raised taxes when he needed to do so.

    And the closer you look, the more unprincipled the Republicans look. Earlier this year House Republicans produced a report noting that an 85%-15% split between spending cuts and tax rises was the average for successful fiscal consolidations, according to historical evidence. The White House is offering an 83%-17% split (hardly a huge distance) and a promise that none of the revenue increase will come from higher marginal rates, only from eliminating loopholes. If the Republicans were real tax reformers, they would seize this offer.

    Both parties have in recent months been guilty of fiscal recklessness. Right now, though, the blame falls clearly on the Republicans. Independent voters should take note.

  14. Ametia says:

    9 July 2011 Last updated at 12:38 ET
    South Sudan’s flag raised at independence ceremony

    Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have watched the raising of the new country’s flag at an independence ceremony in the capital, Juba.

    Salva Kiir signed the constitution and took his oath of office in front of the jubilant crowds, becoming president of the world’s newest nation.

    Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir and UN chief Ban Ki-moon were among dignitaries watching the events.

    Sudan earlier became the first state to officially recognise its new neighbour.

    The world’s newest nation was born at midnight local South Sudanese time (2100 GMT), the climax of a process made possible by the 2005 peace deal that ended a long civil war.

    The south’s independence follows decades of conflict with the north in which some 1.5 million people died.

  15. Ametia says:

    Classic Oprah, right here:

  16. creolechild says:

    Egyptians are preparing for another million-man march on Friday to press for their unfulfilled demands, five months after the country’s historic revolution. People plan to stage a sit-in in the capital Cairo’s Liberation Square to urge the country’s military rulers to end corruption and accelerate the pace of promised democratic reforms, Reuters reported.

    The bursting outrage of Egyptians has emerged following a number of recent events in the African nation, including excessive use of force by police to suppress protests and the release of some officers charged with killing demonstrators.

    On 27-28 June, security forces resorted to violence against families that gathered in Liberation Square to commemorate the death of their loved ones. On Thursday, a court in the city of Alexandria dismissed an appeal by the public prosecutor against the bailed release of seven police officers who face charges of killing protestors during the 18-day revolution. The next hearing for the accused officers is scheduled to be held on September 14.

    Many Egyptians also want an end to trials of civilians in military courts and demand that those found guilty of corruption be brought to justice. “The law is above everyone, and justice has to prevail on all people, young or old,” said Mahmoud Ghzolan, a spokesman for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, one of the major political parties in the country.

    The Cairo-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information has said more than 10,000 civilians have been sentenced in military courts since Egypt’s uprising began in late January.
    Amnesty International has stated that Egypt’s military trials are unfair, against international law, and destroy the criminal justice system.

    Several Egyptian rights groups have sued the head of the armed forces for the recent trial of a female in a military court, saying she was tortured and was forced to undergo a virginity test.
    She was one of the 17 female demonstrators that were arrested on March 9 in Liberation Square.

    Egyptians have also demanded the immediate trial of former president Hosni Mubarak who is due to attend a hearing on August 3 on charges of ordering the killing of protesters as well as abusing his power.


  17. creolechild says:

    I’m thinking this guy has the IQ of a tree stump.

    A staffer in the Flagstaff office of Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) who used his Twitter account to trumpet the downfall of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) resigned Friday after Roll Call discovered violent messages he tweeted.

    Roll Call learned on Friday that Blake Schritter, a caseworker and office manager in one of Gosar’s district offices, had posted messages about drunken exploits and his desire to gun down professors and postal workers, all the while working in the district that borders that of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was the victim of an assassination attempt in January.

    “I can’t believe how unprofessional liberal professors can be. I’m sitting here, cleaning my gun, thinking…this is a classroom!!!” Schritter, a graduate student in Northern Arizona University’s criminology program who also graduated from the school’s criminal justice program, posted on June 23.

    On June 2 he tweeted: “The line at the post office is moving at a glacial pace. I’m ready to open fire with a handgun to get some damn service!”

    Schritter, who answered the phone at Gosar’s Flagstaff office on Friday, first denied ownership of the account.

    His Twitter account, posted under the moniker “drunkenbs,” disappeared after Roll Call contacted Gosar’s office for a response. A Gosar spokesperson confirmed on Friday that Schritter was no longer working for the Congressman.

  18. creolechild says:

    Thank you, BlueStateMan and Planet POV!

    The depths to which our “4th Estate” has sunk is the result of a deliberate plan to obscure the differences between contrived drama and reality and it will be very difficult to turn around now that several generations have already been indoctrinated.

    After the so-called “Liberal Press” had successfully caused the resignation of Richard Nixon and the imprisonment of many of his Administration, the right-wing knew that it had to make changes.

    Did the disgraced GOP see the error of their ways and try to conduct themselves as honest lawmakers , trying to help govern in the spirit of compromise and genuine debate?

    Are you fucking KIDDING me???.

    They decided to just call their friends occupying the boardrooms of America (and elsewhere), get a few financial syndicates together and buy most of the corporations that owned news operations and then control them to the extent that zero “negative” news exposing their criminality would reach the mass market, and only their particular political propaganda would be presented.

    The “privatization” of truth.

    They then hired the first of their “beards”, a vapid, 3rd rate actor named Ronald Reagan who did what he was told, and, in one of his first acts as President, canceled the “Fairness Doctrine” (which mandated that those who broadcast editorials while leasing parts of the public airwaves allot equal editorial time to the Public who OWNS those airwaves so as to express opposing viewpoints) the last vestiges of a truly free, independent press was sent into oblivion…giving only those with lots of money a forum in which to spread their lies… at the same time silencing the views of all others.


    It’s worse now than ever… even more reason to fight with everything we have… for without honest information, we are lost.… and it never ceases to amaze me that so many rightwingers feel that an education is somehow a “liability”, that being an “intellectual” or an “academic” is somehow a “fault”. That to be honored as part of an “elite” group of achievers somehow makes one worthy of contempt. These are not pejoratives. These are things to take great pride in.

    What I find even more disturbing is that these very same semi-literates insist on controlling the schools in what all evidence points to is a deliberate move to dumb our Nation down even more than it has already been (if that is even possible), not only intellectually but morally as well. An uneducated populace is easiest to control.

    We must no longer allow the thugs and the haters, those who conjure the pounding of jackbooted lockstep with every utterance to hijack the language and sciences.. our history (warts and all) and the arts… just as they have our culture.. a slimy, cynical tactic used by those craving despotic power who once, and still do, sport virtual armbands to try to lull the masses into thinking that they are somehow in danger by those who have dared read a book.
    Filling them with ignorance, with fear, with hatred.

    Be proud of the hard work you took to get an education, & in your trying to apply it to help better your Country.

    Take pride in being a Liberal!

    “Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear.”

    ~~ Wm. Gladstone

  19. creolechild says:

    New York City will open its clerk’s offices on Sunday, July 24, to allow same-sex couples to wed on the first day the state’s gay marriage bill goes into effect, officials said this week. Although clerk’s offices in the five boroughs are normally closed on weekends, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that for this momentous occasion, they will open.

    “This is a historic moment for New York, a moment many couples have waited years and even decades to see — and we are not going to make them wait one day longer than they have to,” Bloomberg stated.

    Despite a bureaucratic gaffe on the first day marriage license applications became available, whereby applications still used the terms ‘bride’ and ‘groom,’ the city clerk’s offices have been largely accommodating to the influx of same-sex couples looking to wed.

    For instance, while state law generally requires couples to wait 24 hours after receiving a marriage license before they can wed, on July 24 state judges will volunteer to perform ceremonies and review requests for waivers of the 24-hour waiting period, according to the mayor’s office.

    Additionally, the New York City clerk’s offices will be open two hours later than usual for the first five weekdays after the bill goes into effect.


  20. creolechild says:

    Public interest groups and at least one FCC commissioner cheered on Thursday after a federal appeals court threw out part of the agency’s media cross-ownership rules that relaxed restrictions on owning a newspaper and TV station in the same market. The ruling was a blow to some of the nation’s largest media companies, including News Corp. (NSDQ: NWS), CBS (NYSE: CBS), Tribune, and Gannett (NYSE: GCI). It was also yet another rebuke for the FCC, which has suffered a strong of legal defeats in recent years.

    Although the U.S. Court of Appeals panel in Philadelphia upheld most of the FCC’s 2008 media ownership order, it objected on procedural grounds to the rule relaxing cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in local markets. The panel said the FCC failed to meet notice and comment requirements mandated by federal law.

    The decision was a rejection of former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s 2007 effort to soften media ownership restrictions that had been in place for over three decades. It’s the second time the court has stymied the FCC on this issue: in 2004, the court rejected then-Chairman Michael Powell’s media-ownership plan, also designed to relax the rules.

    The appeals court left most of the other rules contained in the 2008 order intact, including restrictions on the number of TV and radio stations one company can own in a given market. The panel also admonished the FCC for failing to put enough analysis into a rule designed to promote broadcast ownership by women and minorities.

    The FCC’s attempt to relax the local market ownership restrictions has been fiercely opposed by public interest groups such as the Media Access Project and Free Press, both of which praised the decision as a victory for consumers and a defeat for proponents of media consolidation.


  21. Ametia says:

    Van Jones: Budget Talks Are Stuck Because ‘A Small Number Of Extremists Hijacked The Base’
    by Frances Martel | 12:48 pm, July 9th, 2011

    As the budget talks continue in Congress, Democrats and Republicans resume negotiations on whether increasing taxes or cutting spending (or what combination of both) would work best. But progress is slow, and on The Last Word yesterday, Van Jones blamed “a very small number of extremists” on the right who refuse to raise taxes, even when Ronald Reagan would.
    Jones visited Thomas Roberts (sitting in for Lawrence O’Donnell) to weigh in on the debt ceiling talks, and argued that raising taxes was the only way to ensure that the budget would be reasonably balanced. He noted that even the architect of Reaganomics suggested raising taxes, but “Washington, D.C. is so far off the rails” that only electing new leaders would fix the problem. “You talk to ordinary people, they’re not talking about the debt ceiling– they’re talking about these veterans coming home to no jobs, no hope,” Jones argued.

    Jones and Roberts also discussed a comment Rep. Michele Bachmann made about a worse economy potentially being better for Republicans, which Jones found “awful.” Thomas noted that it was likely that “the worse the economy is under President Obama, the better the chances a Republican will beat him,” but that didn’t justify the comment to Jones. “The only people who should be qualified to serve in our country at any level– at the dog catcher level– should say they’ve put the welfare of ordinary Americans before any political ambitions,” he concluded.

    The segment via MSNBC below:

    • creolechild says:

      The argument by the conservatives that tax increases take money out of the economy is absurd. The debate that tax cuts create jobs by allowing the wealthy to keep more of their money is even more disillusioned. The simple point is tax increases simply increase revenue to the federal government, but the federal government doesn’t SIT on that money. They either pay workers or invest that money in infrastructure. The money that is spent to invest in our national or local infrastructure goes directly to private companies most of the time. I speak from personal experience on this issue.

      The government taxes a business in city (X) one dollar, that city then hires a private company to build a road or fix a light. That private company then gives me, the employee, that dollar that was paid in taxes by that business in city (X). I then take that dollar and buy a soda from the business that was originally taxed and they deposit that dollar in the local bank, who then loans that dollar out to another business or person. See the money flow?

      The conservative model is to reduce taxes. This allows that original business to keep that dollar in profit. The company doesn’t hire anybody new, because demand is down. That dollar is not put into the local economy. It is withdrawn in dividend payments to investors and CEO salaries who then sit on it because, as history explains, the wealthy CAN NOT spend all of their money. Banks and very large businesses are currently stifling the economy and money flow because they are sitting on the profits, rather than hiring or reinvesting in their business.


    • Ametia says:

      Thank you, Van Jones. This is how you deal with IGNORAMOUSES.

  22. creolechild says:

    STOCKHOLM — An international team of surgeons have successfully carried out the world’s first transplant of a synthetic windpipe, the Swedish hospital where the groundbreaking operation took place said Thursday. On June 9, a 36-year-old man suffering from late stage tracheal cancer, received a new trachea, or windpipe, made from a synthetic scaffold and covered with his own stem cells, the Karolinska University Hospital in the Stockholm suburb of Huddinge said in a statement. The so-called regenerative medical procedure could, according to the hospital, revolutionise the field of trachea transplants, making them far more accessible.

    “Transplantations of tissue engineered windpipes with synthetic scaffolds in combination with the patient’s own stem cells as a standard procedure means that patients will not have to wait for a suitable donor organ,” it pointed out.

    This would be especially beneficial to children, “since the availability of donor tracheas is much lower than for adult patients,” it said, stressing that having quick access to operations would in turn give patients a greater chance of recovery.

    The transplant team was led by professor Paolo Macciarini of Karolinska and included professor Alexander Seifalian of the University College London, who designed and built the artificial windpipe.


  23. creolechild says:

    Come on, Michele. Come … on…

    Baratunde, your witness: I saw this headline about Bachmann signing some pledge calling for the ban of pornography. I thought, “Well, she just lost half her base.” Then I read the complete pledge and found that it is full of far more disturbing amazing language than just the porn reference.

    For example, it binds the signer to oppose Sharia Law, because you know, that’s a huge threat in America right now. I recalled that I stopped buying hot dogs from the halal food cart outside my office because it always came with a side of Sharia Law, and don’t you just hate when Sharia Law spills all over your shoes? It’s so irritating!

    The pledge also refers to something it calls “the intimate innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy.” This is the pledge-writers’ way of saying “children.” The “intimate fruit of conjugal intimacy” sounds like something an alien race studying humanity might say because where they come from, there is no such thing as sex. Here on planet Earth, we do have sex, and lots of it. Sometimes sex results in “children,” which is a word we have, also here on Earth.

    The pledge was drafted by a group calling itself, “THE FAMiLY LEADER.” Yes, they purposefully do not capitalize the “i” in the name, which is infuriating on a whole different level.

    But dude… what about the slavery part? What about THAT???

    This pledge (PDF) is titled, “THE MARRIAGE VOW: A Declaration of Dependence Upon MARRIAGE and FAMiLY.” See, they did the thing with the “i” again. These are extraordinarily annoying people. To their partial credit, their pledge opens by acknowledging that one cannot claim to defend marriage without focusing on the high divorce rate, broken families, infidelity and other challenges (besides THE GAYS) “threatening” traditional marriage. Not everything they write is batshit crazy, just most of it. To their discredit, the first bullet point is:

    Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.

    Oh for Chrissakes. Really? Sigh…


  24. creolechild says:

    This morning, Speaker Boehner shockingly claimed “Republicans are focused on jobs…”

    Focused? Really? Here are two numbers he should give a second look:

    185: Days GOP has been in the majority without bringing a single jobs bill to the floor.

    10: Number of votes on job-creation measures Democrats have forced this year–Republicans have voted “no” each time.

    Instead of pushing their plan to end Medicare in order to give tax breaks to Big Oil, it’s time for Republicans to start adhering to their own rhetoric and join Democrats in focusing on America’s top priority: job creation.

  25. creolechild says:

    Thank you, Leader’s Press Shop and The Gavel!

    Talk about out of touch with the American people. The GOP has been in charge for 185 days and still hasn’t passed a single jobs bill. So what do they have slated for first thing next week? A bill that would not only roll back bipartisan energy efficiency standards but would cost American consumers $12 billion in savings per year, when fully implemented.


    Climate Progress: In a move that could be called anything but conservative, Republican lawmakers are set to bring a bill to the House floor next week that will repeal state and municipal rights to set efficiency standards for light bulbs. The bill would unravel a piece of federal legislation that was strongly supported by light bulb manufacturers and has spurred innovation in the lighting industry…

    The bill, sponsored by Texas Republican Joe Barton, would strip away any “federal, state or local requirement or standard regarding energy efficient lighting” that uses light bulbs containing mercury. In other words, all compact fluorescent bulbs…

    “When this bill was passed, it was passed by people who knew how to make light bulbs,” says Randall Moorhead, vice president of government affairs at Philips, a leading light bulb producer.
    “Everyone supported it. And since then, it’s created more choice for consumers – we have two incandescent bulbs on the market that weren’t there before.”…

    “We support the notion that efficiency is a desirable thing, and this type of standard has been a part of our body politic for a long time,” says Moorhead of Philips. “The reality is, consumers will see no difference at all. The only difference they’ll see is lower energy bills because we’re creating more efficient incandescent bulbs.”…

    If just a third of the 4.4 billion medium screw-based light sockets around the country were replaced with new, efficient incandescent light bulbs, one third with compact fluorescents and one third with LED bulbs, the annual savings could be more than $12 billion a year, says Moorhead.
    “The economics work out extremely well for the consumer,” he explains.


  26. creolechild says:

    The U.S. House voted 236-184 this morning in favor of an amendment sponsored by Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) to the Defense Appropriations bill that bars the use of funds to implement training on the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law for chaplains. The amendment was introduced in response to an April memorandum from the Navy Chief of Chaplains (subsequently withdrawn for further review) that correctly concluded that the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act does not bar a chaplain from voluntarily officiating at a lawful marriage of a same-sex couple, even at a Department of Defense facility.

    In floor debate on the amendment yesterday evening, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) elicited from Rep. Huelskamp that he had not even seen the DADT repeal curriculum itself and had only requested a copy from Defense Department officials that day – the same day he filed his amendment. Transcript of the amendment debate:


  27. creolechild says:

    PHOENIX — The sponsor of Arizona’s controversial immigration law faces a recall election after opponents collected more than 10,000 voter signatures. County Elections Director Karen Osborne says her office is certifying that the petitions have 10,365 valid signatures of voters from state Sen. Russell Pearce’s legislative district. They needed 7,756 signatures to force a recall election.


    Pearce, a Republican from Mesa, is best known for sponsoring immigration measures including the 2010 enforcement law known as SB1070. A judge has placed key provisions of that measure on hold while they’re challenged in court.

  28. creolechild says:

    This year, we’ve been inundated with news of states stripping collective bargaining rights, slashing unemployment benefits, and generally reducing workers’ rights. Connecticut, however, is bucking the trend.

    Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat, announced on Tuesday that Connecticut will be the first state in the nation to mandate paid sick leave for employees. Malloy’s bill says companies with 50 or more employees have to allow workers to accumulate an hour of sick leave per 40 hours worked, and the bill is expected to impact as many as 300,000 workers in Connecticut.


  29. creolechild says:

    After last week’s breakthrough in mitigating the damage of the drug war–the U.S. Sentencing Commission offered an estimated 12,000 people incarcerated on crack charges a chance at a sentence reduction–advocates stressed that it’s still up to Congress to eliminate the crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity altogether and to create more lasting prison reform.

    The lack of reform isn’t due to a lack of bills, however. There are many ideas already in the congressional hopper, they just can’t get any attention from legislators. Here are five prison reform bills that were introduced in the last six months, but haven’t yet made it out of committee.

    H.R. 223: Federal Prison Bureau Nonviolent Offender Relief Act of 2011 Introduced in January by Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson-Lee, H.R. 223 is a bill intended to get inmates who meet specific criteria out of jail sooner. Under the act, prisoners who have served half of their sentences would be released if they a) are at least 45 years old, b) have never been convicted of a violent crime, and c) haven’t broken any prison rules by engaging in…


  30. creolechild says:

    Yesterday, our own Adele Stan reported on the growing phone-hacking and corruption scandal engulfing the Rupert Murdoch owned paper the News of the World.

    The outcry in Britain, not to mention the Scotland Yard investigation, has grown so intense that the paper will soon be shuttered permanently.

    Today, one more small piece of news on this continuing story: one of the editors, Clive Goodman, who formerly headed up the paper’s “royals” section has been arrested and is now being held for questioning.

  31. creolechild says:

    South Sudanese celebrated the birth of their nation on Saturday following a vote for independence by southerners under the terms of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of war.

    The new state has its capital in Juba and was officially recognized on Friday by the government of Sudan, based in Khartoum, hours before the formal split took place.

    Officials said the birth of the new nation would take place at midnight between July 8 and 9, although a formal independence ceremony was due to be held later on Saturday.

    According to the official program, a formal Proclamation of the Independence of South Sudan will be read out by southern parliament speaker James Wani Igga at 11:45 a.m. (4:45 a.m. EDT). Minutes later Sudan’s national flag will be lowered and the new flag of South Sudan will be raised.

  32. Ametia says:

    Hat tip-BWD-TOAITR

    America’s debt
    Shame on them
    The Republicans are playing a cynical political game with hugely high economic stakes
    Jul 7th 2011 | from the print edition


    This newspaper has a strong dislike of big government; we have long argued that the main way to right America’s finances is through spending cuts. But you cannot get there without any tax rises. In Britain, for instance, the coalition government aims to tame its deficit with a 3:1 ratio of cuts to hikes. America’s tax take is at its lowest level for decades: even Ronald Reagan raised taxes when he needed to do so.

    And the closer you look, the more unprincipled the Republicans look. Earlier this year House Republicans produced a report noting that an 85%-15% split between spending cuts and tax rises was the average for successful fiscal consolidations, according to historical evidence. The White House is offering an 83%-17% split (hardly a huge distance) and a promise that none of the revenue increase will come from higher marginal rates, only from eliminating loopholes. If the Republicans were real tax reformers, they would seize this offer.

    Both parties have in recent months been guilty of fiscal recklessness. Right now, though, the blame falls clearly on the Republicans. Independent voters should take note.

  33. creolechild says:

    Rep. Sheila Jackson (D-TX) accused Republicans of using scare tactics in negotiations over the budget and raising the federal debt ceiling.

    “You can’t go home without constituents asking you about the debt ceiling,” she said at a press conference early Thursday morning. “To my Republican friends, stop scaring the American people. Stop using the tactics of intimidation. That’s what’s going on.”

    The press conference was held to unveil a letter sent to President Barack Obama by twenty-four members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). The letter demands that any final budget deal create significant revenue and avoid cuts to social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

    “The middle class has experienced enough pain during the last three years,” the letter states. “Republicans are willing to inflict even more. We will not join them.”

  34. creolechild says:

    Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer continued on Friday to press Exxon Mobil over an oil spill into the Yellowstone River and threatened to take the company to court as clean-up continued a week after the leak. Schweitzer has been increasingly critical of Exxon in the days since one of its pipelines burst on July 1, spilling what the company estimates was up to 42,000 gallons of oil into the river.

    “We’re going to hold them liable in court,” Schweitzer told reporters following a public meeting in Billings, the Big Sky state’s largest city.

    Montana formally opened a state office in Billings on Friday to address residents’ health and environmental concerns in the aftermath of the spill, a day after Schweitzer withdrew the state from a joint command team over what he said was the company’s failure to provide information.

    The Democratic governor has sent a letter to Exxon asking the oil giant to spell out the chemical characteristics of crude that flowed through the pipeline, which was buried in the Yellowstone River streambed. Schweitzer, a trained soil scientist, urged Montana residents to document damage and collect soil and water samples in containers that officials have provided them.


  35. creolechild says:

    When I had my miscarriage, I had to go in to have a D&C performed in order to remove the fetus, which had died weeks earlier. Many women find themselves in the same situation either due to missed miscarriages, or incomplete miscarriages where they have retained bits of the products of conception.

    If doctors no longer learn how to perform a D&C, what exactly are women in that situation to do?

    Well, nothing, if Pro-Life Wisconsin has its way. They are currently filing a lawsuit demanding that the University of Wisconsin’s medical department stop teaching its med students how to perform “abortions,” claiming it violates a funding ban on state dollars going to abortion. The school currently sends students on a rotation through the local Planned Parenthood in order to not be accused of performing abortions on site.


  36. creolechild says:

    On the internet, as elsewhere, information is money, and information is power. So why have we given it away so lightly?

    Something extraordinary has taken place over the last few years. Voluntarily, and without coercion or, indeed, payment, internet users have handed over vast amounts of highly personal data – their preferences, where they live, who their friends are and what they do – to private companies, whose primary goal is to profit from that data. And every day, we hand over more, willingly.

    On Facebook, we think we are sharing only with our friends the information – the news, the messages, the photos – that we place on “our” pages. But thanks to Facebook’s confusing privacy settings, users are propelled to default and “recommended” settings that make public almost everything – and in so doing, also permit Facebook to make use of your information. Yet more obscure are the complicated and multi-caveated user and privacy agreements most never bother to read. It is only here that Facebook admits that the content (your “intellectual property”) belongs to the company. They own it; once it’s on the site, you don’t.

    Google’s professed aim, apart from its famous motto to “do no evil”, is to organise and share all the world’s information. Less loudly avowed is its parallel objective: to make large amounts of money from that venture. This is not a cynical view: profit is – and must be – the goal of all share-held enterprises. If Google did not promise good returns to its shareholders, its share price would collapse and it would cease to exist. (Facebook has not yet been floated on the stock market; it is widely assumed that it soon will be, for perhaps $50bn.)


  37. creolechild says:

    There are few signs that Minnesota’s state government shutdown — now dragging on into its second week — will let up anytime soon.

    So a nonpartisan panel has offered an alternative, hoping cooler heads will prevail.
    The panel — composed of former Vice President Walter Mondale, former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson and other business leaders and academics — believes that “everyone in Minnesota needs to contribute to the budget solution,” according to a budget blueprint released Friday.

    The proposal states that both increased revenue and spending cuts should be part of an eventual budget deal, by a ratio of about 70 percent spending cuts to 30 percent revenue increases. And finally, the state’s spending “should focus on growing the Minnesota economy,” although specific cuts aren’t yet mentioned.

    Minnesota faces a $5 billion projected budget deficit. So to close that gap, the proposal lays out the following specifics: cut state spending by $3.6 billion and increase state revenues $1.4 billion. The increased revenue comes from areas such as a tobacco tax increase of $1.29 per pack and an alcohol tax increase, among other areas.


  38. creolechild says:

    Women are losing jobs and men are finding them. Thank God we’re back to the Godly order of things, right?

    The sluggish recovery from the Great Recession has been better for men than for women. From the end of the recession in June 2009 through May 2011, men gained 768,000 jobs and lowered their unemployment rate by 1.1 percentage points to 9.5%.1 Women, by contrast, lost 218,000 jobs during the same period, and their unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 8.5%, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

    These post-recession employment trends are a sharp turnabout from the gender patterns that prevailed during the recession itself, when men lost more than twice as many jobs as women. Men accounted for 5.4 million, or 71%, of the 7.5 million jobs that disappeared from the U.S. economy from December 2007 through June 2009.

    Employment trends during the recovery have favored men over women in all but one of the 16 major sectors of the economy identified in this report. In five sectors, notably in retail trade, men have gained jobs while women have lost them. In five other sectors, including education and health services and professional and business services, men gained jobs at a
    faster rate than women. And in an additional five sectors, such as construction and local governments, men lost jobs at a slower rate than women. The sole exception to these patterns is state government, a sector of the economy in which women have added jobs during the recovery while men have lost them.

    But since we have so many Republican governors who are firing state workers, I’m sure we’ll get those numbers in line with the rest of them. Progress!

    Women are losing jobs and men are finding them. Thank God we’re back to the Godly order of things, right?

    The sluggish recovery from the Great Recession has been better for men than for women. From the end of the recession in June 2009 through May 2011, men gained 768,000 jobs and lowered their unemployment rate by 1.1 percentage points to 9.5%.1 Women, by contrast, lost 218,000 jobs during the same period, and their unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 8.5%, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

    These post-recession employment trends are a sharp turnabout from the gender patterns that prevailed during the recession itself, when men lost more than twice as many jobs as women. Men accounted for 5.4 million, or 71%, of the 7.5 million jobs that disappeared from the U.S. economy from December 2007 through June 2009.

    Employment trends during the recovery have favored men over women in all but one of the 16 major sectors of the economy identified in this report. In five sectors, notably in retail trade, men have gained jobs while women have lost them. In five other sectors, including education and health services and professional and business services, men gained jobs at a
    faster rate than women. And in an additional five sectors, such as construction and local governments, men lost jobs at a slower rate than women. The sole exception to these patterns is state government, a sector of the economy in which women have added jobs during the recovery while men have lost them.

    But since we have so many Republican governors who are firing state workers, I’m sure we’ll get those numbers in line with the rest of them. Progress!

  39. creolechild says:

    Where Do We Stack Up?

    A new study by the international business school INSEAD rates the US 7th in the world in “innovation”, behind Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, Hong Kong, Finland and Denmark.

  40. creolechild says:

    An undercover investigation from a staff member of the organization Truth Wins Out has revealed that the clinic run by Dr. Marcus Bachmann, husband of Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, is providing discredited “ex-gay” reparative therapy. Dr. Marcus Bachmann has been under intense scrutiny in recent weeks, after a ThinkProgress report documenting his past comments referring to gays as ”barbarians” and an NBC News report that revealed Bachmann and Associates had taken $137,000 in federal Medicaid funds over the past five years despite Michele Bachmann’s strident anti-government stance. John Becker of Truth Wins Out, who went undercover at Bachmann & Associates, writes:

    Based on my experiences at Bachmann & Associates, there can no longer be any doubt that Marcus Bachmann’s state- and federally-funded clinic endorses and practices reparative therapy aimed at changing a gay person’s sexual orientation, despite the fact that such “therapy” is widely discredited by the scientific and medical communities. It’s time for Michele and Marcus Bachmann to stop denying, dodging, and stonewalling. They owe it to all Americans to provide a full and honest explanation for their embrace of these dangerous and fraudulent practices.

    The scrutiny of the Bachmanns’ extreme anti-gay views has only increased in the past 24 hours, following Bachmann’s decision to sign an extreme anti-gay, anti-Muslim pledge put forward a key Iowa group, the Iowa FAMiLY Leader.

  41. creolechild says:

    The Pentagon announced Friday that it is suspending its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of banning openly gay servicemen and women.

    The Army Times reports that the Department of Defense will comply with a Ninth Circuit ruling earlier this week that ordered the military to halt the policy.

    A memo obtained by Fox5 Atlanta, issued by the U.S. Undersecretary Of Defense For Personnel And Readiness, orders military leaders to comply with the ruling, and says that the Department of Defense will begin to “process applicants for enlistment or appointment without regard to sexual orientation.”

    “It remains the policy of the Department of Defense not to ask Service members or applicants about their sexual orientation, to treat all members with dignity and respect, and to ensure maintenance of good order and discipline,” the memo said.

    The announcement came after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier in the week ordered the federal government to stop enforcing DADT, citing the government’s recent opposition to policies like DOMA that discriminate based on sexuality.

    In October a lower court ruled that DADT is unconstitutional, but after Congress in December voted to repeal the policy, the Ninth Circuit granted the government a stay so it could be repealed according to the military’s own timeframe. The court lifted the stay on Wednesday.

    The policy will be formally repealed 60 days after top military officials “certify” that it won’t affect military readiness.

  42. creolechild says:

    THIS needs to be said; let the chips fall where they may. Thank you Marion and Planet POV!

    I’m not a great fan of Cynthia Boaz, but I’ll give her fair due. She’s written a cracking piece which you can see on’s website, entiled “14 Propaganda Techniques that Fox ‘News’ Uses to Brainwash Americans.”

    It’s a pretty inclusive article, but she should have added how elements of the Right, specifically the Tea Party, borrowed principles and techniques from Saul Alinsky and used them to their advantage -the organising and the targeting of communities and people within these communities in order to grow a movement from within. This whole current Republican Party borrowed a lot of organisational methods from the old communist party, in point of fact.

    As much as they like to invoke his sainted memory, the Republican Party is not the party of Reagan. These people are the grandchildren of Barry Goldwater and direct lineal descendents from the Birchers of the Fifties and Sixties. The Birchers borrowed a lot of organisational practice from the communist party, from the era when the communists were trying to infiltrate the union movement.

    It was from the old communist handbooks that the Birchers learned to infiltrate the lowliest organisations, mingle with the hoi polloi in order that they might see and accept them as people much like themselves (which they were), and then move onto something bigger and better. Start with the PTA, move onto the Town Council, run for Mayor, County Supervisors, State General Assembly etc etc. This might take time, but these people, unlike a lot of people today, understood that incremental change is change that lasts.

    Thus, when the Democratic party, under the urbane and suave leadership of Gary Hart and co, newly-minted voters from affluent, professional, white-collard middle class homes, people with no emotional or traditional connection either to the working class or the labor movement, kicked the working class of the rural South, Midwest and other areas of the country to the political curb, the “family values” Republicans, many of whom were people these folks had known all their lives, were there to pick them up, dust them off and turn them in direction Right. Even though a lot of this effort took 30 years to achieve.

    Cynthia’s right to emphasize the fear tactics and brainwashing used by Fox News and the Right, in general, in order to keep their vast demographic so pulverised with fear that they’re basically infantilised – hey, it’s always easier to control scared children – and it’s fair to say that a lot of this necessity on behalf of the Right’s public voice arose after 9/11, when we were all pretty much scared cackless. It’s pretty accurate to say that whilst George Bush and Co mananged to keep the country in a heightened state of fear over the spectre of Osama bin Ladin for 8 years, that fear now has been handed on by the Right to focus on the figure of the President, himself.

    I’ll grant you, for forty years, the Right has systematically demonised the Left to the point that the Left accommodated the Right and abandoned the use of the word “liberal” as a pejorative – instead, reinventing itself under the guise of “Progressive.”

    We watched the Republicans throw various dirty bits at Bill Clinton, mostly in the shapely shapes of women coming out of the woodwork to tell about his sexual exploits. He was also labelled a cocaine trafficker and a murderer. And now we’ve seen the Right vilify and seek to delegitimise Barack Obama in a myriad of ways which are just as bad, and worse, than the way Clinton was morphed into Public Enemy Number One, by the GOP.

    He’s been called a Kenyan, a Mau-mau, a socialist, a communist, a Marxist and a Nazi. He’s been accused of being a curious Manchurian candidate, smuggled as a baby into the country by his mother and raised and groomed for the highest office in the Land. Some on the Right have characterised him as an uppity thug; one even called him a liar to his face. He’s been accused of wanting to establish death panels, in order to determine who might live and who might die under his Healthcare program. All of this has been force-fed various tranches of the public to the point that they are convinced and nothing and no information could persuade them that they’ve been fed a tissue of lies. And that’s just from the Right.

    Because as the Right has borrowed extensively from the Left in order to beat them at their own game, so the Left is borrowing from the Right and – for some reason – undermining this Administration. Let me show you how, using some of Cynthia’s listed propaganda techniques.

    1. Panic Mongering. This goes one step beyond simple fear mongering. With panic mongering, there is never a break from the fear. The idea is to terrify and terrorize the audience during every waking moment. From Muslims to swine flu to recession to homosexuals to immigrants to the rapture itself, the belief over at Fox seems to be that if your fight-or-flight reflexes aren’t activated, you aren’t alive. This of course raises the question: why terrorize your own audience? Because it is the fastest way to bypasses the rational brain. In other words, when people are afraid, they don’t think rationally. And when they can’t think rationally, they’ll believe anything. Do the Left indulge in this? Quite frankly, yes. Not to the extent that the Right do, but it’s there in the Leftwing media, on the web and certainly on MSNBC.

    The most obvious proponents of this technique are FireDogLake’s Jane Hamsher and Bold Progressives’ Adam Green. Green is a particularly bad with this technique. If you’re on his e-mail list or even on Jane’s, you’ve probably received e-mails from them, telling you in breathless terms, urgent terms that time’s running out for this cause or that cause, the latest dastardly deed of betrayal that Barack Obama’s about to level on Left. Cleverly inserted inside these fear e-missives is the kind request that if the recipient just clicks on a link to sign a petition and donate at least $5.00 to the cause au courant, of course, Jane or Adam or whoever will be able to fight just that much more securely to ensure that your rights are preserved.

    Green’s most recent cause celebre has been haranguing people that the President is about to axe not just Medicare, in cahoots with Paul Ryan’s budget plan, but also Social Security Insurance. If you cast your mind back to April when the President gave his George Washington University speech – the one where he handed Paul Ryan his ass on a platter – I’ll let Joy Reid of The Reid Report, also – like Green – an MSNBC political contributor, tell you
    how Green man-managed this issue:-

    Nobody knows what the president is going to say at 1:35 this afternoon about entitlements. The stories flying around the Beltway about what Obama will announce, including the speculation that he will embrace the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles “cat food” commission, are jsut that: speculation. The White House often releases embargoed previews of the president’s speeches. I’m on that media list. They didn’t do it this time, and have made it clear they won’t. (Thanks for leaking those prior embargoed speeches, National Journal…)

    Green is probably on those lists too. In other words, he has no more idea what the president is going to say than I do. The president may very well go all Simpson-Bowles on us, and if he does, it will be worth debating how smart that is. But at this stage, no one knows.

    But that didn’t stop the “bold progressive” from releasing a dramatic email this morning, quoting a bunch of disillusioned Obama voters who can’t believe he’s selling out Medicare and Medicaid, which they know because … well they just know he’s gonna do it and they can’t BELIEVE it…! And asking the recipient to sign their petition demanding the president not “sell out,” the way they already know he will. From the in-box:


    Urgent! The White House announced that in a big speech today, President Obama will do what no Republican President has been able to do: Put Medicare and Medicaid on the table for potential cuts.

    Many former Obama volunteers, donors, and voters are deeply disappointed. A Democratic Congressman said on MSNBC on Monday that Obama needs to “act like a Democrat.”

    Will you sign this urgent pledge, which we’ll deliver to the Obama campaign?

    “President Obama: If you cut Medicare and Medicaid benefits for me, my parents, my grandparents, or families like mine, don’t ask for a penny of my money or an hour of my time in 2012. I’m going to focus on electing bold progressive candidates — not Democrats who help Republicans make harmful cuts.” Click here to sign.

    Below are some amazing notes from Obama volunteers who worked passionately for the President in 2008. Many people still want to believe in President Obama. But the White House needs to understand that their actions now will have real consequences for 2012. The level of grassroots enthusiasm will be determined by whether the President fights for bold progressive change — and takes cuts that hurt grandparents, the disabled, and kids firmly off the table.

    The White House will absolutely be watching the progress of this petition. And we’ll deliver the pledge signatures to the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago. Please sign today — then, pass it to others who worked to elect President Obama in 2008.

    Thanks for being a bold progressive.

    – Adam Green, Stephanie Taylor, Jason Rosenbaum, Keauna Gregory, and the PCCC team.

    Now, the beauty part of this, beside the fact that when you go to the petition, the CONTRIBUTE button is nicely highlighted in red, is that no matter what Obama says today, it works out for PCCC. If he fails to “sell out” Medicare and Medicaid, PCCC will claim credit for making him change a speech that I’m pretty sure was written before they started their online petition drive – much the way they claimed the credit for the popular revolution in Wisconsin. Then they’ll raise money on their “win” in turning the feckless president around, and Green will go on Lawrence’s “Last Word” show to skewer Obama for having to be forced to change his ways when he promised to govern as a liberal.

    I received one of these e-mailed screeds from Green, because I used to be on his mailing list too, but that one jumped the shark for me, for exactly the reason Joy outlined: No one knew what the President was going to say. And know what? The only mention made of Medicare or Social Security was in direct opposition to what Ryan proposed to do, but since the President gave that address 24 hours after Green sent out his desperately urgent e-mail, enough people had sent their five-dollar donations to Bold Progressives, that Green had garnered a cool $300K in less than 24 hours, and he bragged about it.

    Nice work, if you can get it. For a grifter. And isn’t that just a little bit illegal? Still, MSNBC, who leans forward, continuously brings Green to the table and identifies him as a political contributor. Here’s the rub. Green is a graduate of my alma mater, the University of Virginia. We have a stringent Honor Code which precludes any student lying, cheating or stealing. If Green had tried some of the tactics he’s so successful in trying now as a student, he’d be ordered to leave the University within 24 hours … basically for lying, cheating and stealing. He probably studied under Larry Sabato, but I know Larry, and I don’t imagine Larry would have either encouraged or condoned a scam piece like this. Still, some people have more money than common sense. Let’s plough on.

    2. Character Assassination/Ad Hominem. Fox does not like to waste time debating the idea. Instead, they prefer a quicker route to dispensing with their opponents: go after the person’s credibility, motives, intelligence, character, or, if necessary, sanity. No category of character assassination is off the table and no offense is beneath them. Fox and like-minded media figures also use ad hominem attacks not just against individuals, but entire categories of people in an effort to discredit the ideas of every person who is seen to fall into that category, e.g. “liberals,” “hippies,” “progressives” etc. This form of argument – if it can be called that – leaves no room for genuine debate over ideas, so by definition, it is undemocratic. Not to mention just plain crass.

    Once again, people on the Left have engaged in this technique – most often against the Right; and though it might make me a hypocrite, I’ve no problem with “my” side giving back to the Right just as good as they give us; but MSNBC – Lean Forward MSNBC – engages in this as much against the President as against the Rightwing. And so do many of the celebrity talking heads, especially against the viewing/listening/reading public who happen to disagree with their particular assessment of the President.

    Weeks before he was sacked from MSNBC, Keith Olbermann embarked on a scurrilous “Special Comment” against the myth these celebrity talking heads and several members of Congress from safe, affluent districts, had been pushing about the President “caving” on extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Never mind the fact that thiscompromise secured notable benefits for the unemployed, the poor and the working poor, the President should have walked on the discussions and allowed the tax cuts to expire. (And sacrificed the repeal of DADT and the passing of SMART and the First Responders’ legislation). Ne’mind all that. Keith’s special comment wantonly labelled the President a “quisling,” which is the worst sort of traitor, and likened him to a Nazi appeaser.

    That same week, appearing on Fareed Zakaria’s Sunday program, Bill Maher – not to be undone – promptly declared the President a “pussy.” He recently reiterated that once again a week ago on his program.

    Meanwhile, we’ve seen Hamsher and her cronies on the FDL site refer to the President as “the Affirmative Action President,” “Bugaloo Bush,” and even “the house nigger.”

    It’s not just the President for whom they’re aiming. Olbermann and Joan Walsh, inveterate Twitterers, regularly engage in punching down at followers from the Left who disagree with their opinions. Olbermann’s favourite tack is to address these people as “morons.” Joan tells people to “get help” or she opines that their lives must suck (to be so stupid as to dare disagree with someone so far elevated by appearances on television that they must know the subject about which they discourse).

    In fact, quite recently, Joan reckoned that anyone who vigorously defended the President was actually a GOP troll, most likely paid by Andrew Breitbart, and that these people would do more damage to Barack Obama than anyone else.

    Pardon me, but I was raised a Democrat, by parents who’d voted Democratic since Roosevelt and beyond. I was raised to support the party, especially if there were a Democrat in the White House. Criticize the President, yes, that goes without saying; but wantonly and in the fashion of the radical chic the way this President has been criticized for absolutely everything, by the Right as well as the Left, it goes without saying that his supporters are many things, but not underminers.

    And it’s these selfsame supporters who’ve been labelled “Obamabots” by those morally superior purists who follow every word, deed and thought of the likes of Hamsher and Green as truth, when – in fact – like many on the Right, including Hamsher’s political bedfellow, Grover Norquist – they’re pushing the propaganda technique of the Big Lie to the fullest.

    3. Projection/Flipping. This one is frustrating for the viewer who is trying to actually follow the argument. It involves taking whatever underhanded tactic you’re using and then accusing your opponent of doing it to you first. We see this frequently in the immigration discussion, where anti-racists are accused of racism, or in the climate change debate, where those who argue for human causes of the phenomenon are accused of not having science or facts on their side. It’s often called upon when the media host finds themselves on the ropes in the debate.

    This is something the Left doesn’t like to here, but it’s there and it needs addressing: racism. On the Left, the tack has been rather like the old Fawlty Towers episode about German guests in the hotel: Whatever you do, don’t mention the war.

    In this case, it’s whatever you do, don’t bring race into it, even when it’s really all about race. How could it not be about race, when we have the first African American President in the White House? No, he doesn’t have to bring it up, anymore than I would have expected Hillary Clinton to have played the gender card, had she won (and which Sarah Palin does remorselessly and without compunction); but some of the remarks and the attitudes emanating from certain quarters on the Left have had a particular whiff of subtle racism about them.

    Walsh, two months ago, uttered an inadvertantly racist remark in a Twitter feed, and had her posterior portion served up to her on a platter by several African American bloggers, articulate and intelligent people who were offended. Did she apologise for the way she worded her sentence? No. Show remorse? Never.

    Some of these remarks have been foolishly inane, like Chris Matthews getting over-excited and blurting out that he sometimes forgets Obama is a black man. Others are blatantly ignorant and provocative, such as Bill Maher’s referring to the President as “President Sanford and Son” or wondering why we didn’t elect a “real” black man, one who embodied all the characteristics Bill ascribes to ghetto gangstas, including carrying a gun concealed on his person.

    But if anyone points these items out or questions the appearance of racists attitudes on the Left, the argument is turned around to imply that the person introducing the subject is, themselves, a racist.

    I’m a white woman from the South. I grew up just when segregation was ending and integration was the norm. I lived through the high age of deliberate Affirmative Action in the Seventies. I’ve seen kneejerk liberals welcome minority employees into the fold and then proceed to patronise and raise the performance standard as an excuse to tut and to criticize. People like me just don’t hear dog whistles, we see the mutts being herded across wide expanses of fields.

    Nobody likes to be called a racist, but more and more African Americans are recognising the subtle form of patronising racism amongst the Progressive Left and are calling them out about it – whether it be Cornel West and his personal vendetta against the President in implying that Obama inherited too many white traits from his Kansan mother, to Joan Walsh’s ladylike vapours at the thought that African American supporters of the President would dispute that people of Joan’s ilk make up the Democratic base. (They don’t.)

    4. Rewriting History. This is another way of saying that propagandists make the facts fit their worldview. The Downing Street Memos on the Iraq war were a classic example of this on a massive scale, but it happens daily and over smaller issues as well. A recent case in point is Palin’s mangling of the Paul Revere ride, which Fox reporters have bent over backward to validate. Why lie about the historical facts, even when they can be demonstrated to be false? Well, because dogmatic minds actually find it easier to reject reality than to update their viewpoints. They will literally rewrite history if it serves their interests. And they’ll often speak with such authority that the casual viewer will be tempted to question what they knew as fact.

    Yes, sorry to say the Left is guilty of this as well. Not on such a grandiose scale as we’ve seen on the Right, with Palin’s version of Paul Revere’s ride or Bachmann’s making John Quincy Adams one of the Founding Fathers when he was still wet behind the ears, and their respective supporters scurrying onto Wikipedia in an effort, actually, to rewrite events, themselves. And not with the odious David Barton pushing his revisionist history of the United States as a nation founded on a vision from God. But our side does its fair share of rewriting history.

    Here are some facts we rather conveniently ignore about our various saints:

    * Theodore Roosevelt, founder of the Progressives, was a Republican. He coined the phrase “bully pulpit,” but it didn’t mean what we interpret it to mean today. In Roosevelt’s time, “bully” was slang for “great” or “good.” So when he described the Presidency as a “bully pulpit,” he really meant it was a great platform by which to communicate and not one by which a leader could forcibly impose his will upon Congress or the public.
    * Woodrow Wilson, whom the Righwing revile and whom the Leftwing revere, was a notorious racist. Fact.
    * FDR was a pragmantist, more at home in the world of industrialists and finaciers. His best friend was Bernard Baruch. Once he’d got his social justice schemes in place, he dropped the Progressive Midwest Democrats and joined up with industrialists to promote production for what he perceived to be the upcoming war. He interned the Niseii, not because he wanted to, but because the public demanded it. He interned them in concentration camps. That’s right. He tried to stack the Surpreme Court and got smacked by Congress. He wasn’t afraid to send in National Guard troops to bust union strikers during the war and argued heavily with John Lewis of the CIO about unionising WPA jobs to the extent that Lewis endorsed Wendell Wilkie in 1940.
    * LBJ went from hero to zero in two years. Whilst he was an effective Senate Majority Leader, he wasn’t that successful a President. He managed to sign the Civil Rights Act, but was helpless against the onslaught of white backlash that erupted in the North. He lied about the Bay of Tonkin disaster in order to get us more heavily involved in Viet Nam. Until his dying day, he never ceased to refer to a person of African American heritage by anything other than the awful n-word.
    * Barack Obama did not run as a Progressive, but as a Centre-Left pragmatist, who never advocated single-payer health insurance or, really, a public option. He always said he’d bring down action in Iraq, whilst concentrating on upping the ante in Afghanistan.
    * John Edwards, prior to 2008, was a triangular Clintonian Democrat. He only decided to run as a Progressive in order to hit Hillary Clinton from the Left in the primary campaign of 2008. He has never and still doesn’t approve of same sex marriage.

    5. Scapegoating/Othering. This works best when people feel insecure or scared. It’s technically a form of both fear mongering and diversion, but it is so pervasive that it deserves its own category. The simple idea is that if you can find a group to blame for social or economic problems, you can then go on to a) justify violence/dehumanization of them, and b) subvert responsibility for any harm that may befall them as a result.

    This is a regular tactic of the Hamsher Firebaggers as well as Queen Ratfucker Arianna Huffington. If it’s Wednesday and the economy’s bad, blame the President or one of his advisors, usually Tim Geithner. Huffington pushed the big lie last year that Geithner was viciously opposed to Elizabeth Warren being appointed to head of the Credit Protection Agency. The other big lie she promoted up to and including the eve of the Midterm election, was that the President “just wasn’t that into the Middle Classes” – as if she were such an expert on the middle class, itself.

    But she’s still out there, still commanding the media attention of the sociopath she is and still being identified as a Progressive voice, even though she’s now a part of the corporate Kochmeister social swirl. MSNBC and Bill Maher treat her like a goddess when she’s more like a gorgon. Why?

    6. Conflating Violence With Power and Opposition to Violence With Weakness. This is more of what I’d call a “meta-frame” (a deeply held belief) than a media technique, but it is manifested in the ways news is reported constantly. For example, terms like “show of strength” are often used to describe acts of repression, such as those by the Iranian regime against the protesters in the summer of 2009. There are several concerning consequences of this form of conflation. First, it has the potential to make people feel falsely emboldened by shows of force – it can turn wars into sporting events. Secondly, especially in the context of American politics, displays of violence – whether manifested in war or debates about the Second Amendment – are seen as noble and (in an especially surreal irony) moral. Violence become synonymous with power, patriotism and piety.

    Whilst the Left in no way identifies with violence in the way the Right does, there is, with this Presidency, a penchant of people on the Left to use various epithets and phrases that, unconsciously, have a pejorative historical value when applied to this seminal Presidency.

    I’ve noted before that Bill Maher regularly refers to Obama as a “pussy.” He has also stated that the President was weak, without spine and not a leader in the least. So have many other people from the Left. It doesn’t matter that each time these accusations get bandied about, the President proves there’s more than one side to strength than swaggering like Bush or chest-beating, which is what people like Maher with Big Daddy issues seem to expect from this President. They long for the stereotypical angry Black Panther of a man, and the moment the President loses his temper, which is always done in a calm, cool and rationally cold sort of way, they either go running for cover or they whine some more that this isn’t enough.

    There’s such a sort of strength as quiet strength from within. As far as throwing temper tantrums, my Sicilian grandmother always used to remind me that “revenge is a dish that’s best eaten cold.”

    7. Bullying. This is a favorite technique of several Fox commentators. That it continues to be employed demonstrates that it seems to have some efficacy. Bullying and yelling works best on people who come to the conversation with a lack of confidence, either in themselves or their grasp of the subject being discussed. The bully exploits this lack of confidence by berating the guest into submission or compliance. Often, less self-possessed people will feel shame and anxiety when being berated and the quickest way to end the immediate discomfort is to cede authority to the bully. The bully is then able to interpret that as a “win.”

    I think we saw a fair amount of this recently, especially at NetRoots Nation 11, when Lt Dan Choi, the latest Hamsher tool, ostentatiously confronted the bisexual OFA volunteer in a humiliating fashion for all to see. It happens when someone disagrees online with the Alpha man likes of Glenn Greenwald, David Sirota or John Aravosis (he, who’s pronounced on Twitter that “all blacks are insane”). It occurs in the commentary sections from The Daily Kos toHuffington Post to Salon, where people name-call and bait others. It happens on phone-ins from the Right and from the Left, and it’s inexcusable.

    8. Confusion. As with the preceding technique, this one works best on an audience that is less confident and self-possessed. The idea is to deliberately confuse the argument, but insist that the logic is airtight and imply that anyone who disagrees is either too dumb or too fanatical to follow along. Less independent minds will interpret the confusion technique as a form of sophisticated thinking, thereby giving the user’s claims veracity in the viewer’s mind.

    Favourite tactic of Glenn Greenwald and Keith Olbermann. When in doubt, tell the person who disagrees with you how stupid they are and that they simply cannot follow your logic. Greenwald’s a particularly bad sock puppet, who trolls websites where he’s mentioned, often under the guise of someone else, to bait and bother.

    9. Populism. This is especially popular in election years. The speakers identifies themselves as one of “the people” and the target of their ire as an enemy of the people. The opponent is always “elitist” or a “bureaucrat” or a “government insider” or some other category that is not the people. The idea is to make the opponent harder to relate to and harder to empathize with. It often goes hand in hand with scapegoating. A common logical fallacy with populism bias when used by the right is that accused “elitists” are almost always liberals – a category of political actors who, by definition, advocate for non-elite groups.

    The extreme Left, the Progressives, do this in reverse. Yes, we know the Rightwing is suspicious of anything smacking of elitism – Northeastern or Coastal liberals educated, often privately, but having degrees, if not from Ivy League institutions, then mostly from well-established institutes of higher education.

    Make no mistake. This is a divide and conquer technique employed by the Rightwing. The Rightwing wants an uneducated or undereducated populace, poor and unsuspecting,whilst at the same time, suspicious of anything redolent of sophistry. It’s to the advantage of the Republicans and their corporate Kochmeisters that there be an underclass of peasants, for lack of a better word, willing to work for whatever rate of pay offered, under the belief that their employer would look after their interests better than any union could ever seek to do. Suck the workers in and entertain them on a diet of Rightwing and religious talk radio pumped through the tannoy daily from dawn until dusk of the working day.

    But instead of reaching out to these people, instead of trying to dispel the notion that the Left is the Devil in disguise and out to ruin their way of life as they know it, we ridicule them. David Carr did as much last week on Real Time with Bill Maher when he referred to inhabitants of Kansas and Missouri as having sloping foreheads, indicating low intellect.

    Well, Mr Carr, time was, Missouri and Kansas were blue states. And Virginia. And North Carolina. And Montana. And the Dakotas. And Texas, for that matter. These people need to see and hear people, from our side, who sound and act like them, not to deride or denigrate them, but to convince them that the real party fighting for their interests is actually the Democratic party. Or, at least, it should be.

    10. Invoking the Christian God. This is similar to othering and populism. With morality politics, the idea is to declare yourself and your allies as patriots, Christians and “real Americans” (those are inseparable categories in this line of thinking) and anyone who challenges them as not. Basically, God loves Fox and Republicans and America. And hates taxes and anyone who doesn’t love those other three things. Because the speaker has been benedicted by God to speak on behalf of all Americans, any challenge is perceived as immoral. It’s a cheap and easy technique used by all totalitarian entities from states to cults.

    Again, the Left does this in reverse, and it does no one any good. Just recently, the Rightwing came out with a new meme to push in the run-up to the next election: Liberals hate God.
    That’s it. We hate God. Not only are they painting us as weeping-Nellie atheists in a culture war, but we’re the enemies because we are perceived to hate God. I can’t possibly think where they got that idea. Oh, wait … once again, maybe Bill Maher comes into the equation.

    Look, I’m a non-believer, but I know that our country was founded on the principle of having the freedom to wo[r]ship, or not to worship, as one chooses. And I know that most of the Founding Fathers were elite members of the ruling aristocracy, educated during the Enlightenment, and that most were probably Deists. Thomas Jefferson not only had a copy of the Koran, he even edited his own Bible to suit his own tastes.

    I also know that most non-believers are found on the cultural Left – with the exception of S E Cupp and Karl Rove (and Cupp is suspect, whilst Rove flipflops on his atheism depending on the audience). But I hate proselytisers of any stripe, and I abhor the raving atheist who propagates his opinion that anyone who believes is demented as much as I abhor the fundamentalist who exorts me to repent or burn in hell. Whatever floats your boat, the Left is supposed to be the side demonstrating tolerance here. Deriding anyone’s religious beliefs is as bad as dismissing anyone’s lack of belief.

    11. Saturation. There are three components to effective saturation: being repetitive, being ubiquitous and being consistent. The message must be repeated cover and over, it must be everywhere and it must be shared across commentators: e.g. “Saddam has WMD.” Veracity and hard data have no relationship to the efficacy of saturation. There is a psychological effect of being exposed to the same message over and over, regardless of whether it’s true or if it even makes sense, e.g., “Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States.” If something is said enough times, by enough people, many will come to accept it as truth. Another example is Fox’s own slogan of “Fair and Balanced.” Do we do this? Yes, we do. How about endless, endless repetition of the fact that:-

    * The President is weak
    * The President is a corporate tool of Wall Street
    * The President just isn’t into you
    * The President is just like Bush
    * The President isn’t a good negotiator
    * The President caved
    * The President caved
    * The President caved
    * The President caved

    Get the picture? There are people out there right now on our side, who won’t believe anything else, other than the most pejorative talking points about this President; and some of them are people who should know better.

    13. Guilt by Association. This is a favorite of Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart, both of whom have used it to decimate the careers and lives of many good people. Here’s how it works: if your cousin’s college roommate’s uncle’s ex-wife attended a dinner party back in 1984 with Gorbachev’s niece’s ex-boyfriend’s sister, then you, by extension are a communist set on destroying America. Period.

    You know, the old Blue Dogs have taken some knocking in the past three years. So much so to the extent, that I had a very unwise sould from the Commonwealth of Virginia tell me that she was glad a Tea Partier had unseated Rick Boucher, an established, moderate Democrat of 30 years’ standing in the midterm elections. If you’re going to vote for a Blue Dog, she reckoned, you may as well vote Republican.

    Rick Boucher was not Ben Nelson or Joe Manchin. He was a loyal Democrat who voted with the party, but because he was centrist and veered centre-Right, he was deemed a Blue Dog, and therefore, unworthy of serving, even if that meant losing a Democratic seat in the House of Representatives.

    The Hamsherites think that way too. In fact, they’ve put together a group who are looking to find someone either to primary the President in 2012 or to run a third party candidate; and you know what? They don’t give a rat’s ass that such a tactic would literally hand the White House front door key to a President Bachmann or Perry or Pawlenty, because they reckon that the Democratic party needs a shakedown like this to reform along more Progressive lines. After all, a Presidential term is only four years, right? Wrong.

    The last time a serving Democratic President was primaried, we got 12 years of Republican rule – those 12 years which set us firmly on the road to hell from which we’re desperately trying to find an exit. Peeps, this current Republican party isn’t the party of the smiling Gipper. It’s people are, at best, Goldwater’s grandchildren; at worst, they’re the natural successors to the Koch-funded John Birch Society. They’re Dominionists, intent on turning this country into a Christian theocracy. They come with Ayn Rand in one hand and thumping a Bible against their hip with the other. They want to control women’s reproductive rights, ditch the Department of Education and public schools and live by states and property rights. This is back to the future, big time! Anytime we label any Democrat pejoratively, we lessen the strength of the Democratic party.

    Cynthia Boaz listed 14 different propaganda tactics employed by Fox and the Right to brainwash people. The Left, aided and abetted by MSNBC and other entities, is guilty of following 12 of those 14 propaganda techniques, albeit modifying them to suit their own agenda. But the difference is that the Right is using those techniques in order to demonise the opposition – us – whilst we on the Left, some of us, at least, use these techniques less effectively against the Right, but – perversely – more effectively against ourselves.

    Admittedly, the plebescite of the Left is often led by the short and curlies by professional hacks who masquerade as Leftwing pundits – Huffington comes to mind, and she’s anything but. Yet consider that Hamsher owns a public relations firm who represents and advises Republican candidates, that Greenwald has been connected with the Cato Institute and the Koch brothers and that several of these celebrity talking heads have a past history of being neocon Republicans, themselves. Even Bill Maher, who repeatedly and incorrectly labels himself a Progressive, is far too cosy with the likes of Darrell Issa and Andrew Breitbart.

    So going into the 2012 election and aiming for a Democratic President securing a second term, all we seem to have managed to do is create a house divided against itself, whose foundations, the base, are anything but strong. And, please, don’t patronise me by pushing the old chestnut of the President abandoning his base. His base abandoned him the minute they ceded their capacity for critical thinking to those who profit from dividing and conquering. Or maybe it’s just more comfortable being morally right in Opposition with no responsibility to govern?

  43. Ametia says:

    Hat Tip RonnieB @ JJP!

    Where is the Diversity in Network News?
    Tuesday, June 21, 2011
    (Posted by: Aprill Turner

    The following is an open letter to network executives and editors from the President of the National Association of Black Journalists, Kathy Times on the lack of diversity in news.

    Dear Network Executives and Editors:

    As Scott Pelley replaces Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News and Glenn Beck prepares to leave Fox News Channel, a question looms. Where is the diversity?

    People of color comprise more than a third of the U.S. population. The 2010 Census shows the minority population is growing from coast to coast, and the majority of children in the U.S. will be minorities by 2050. So, there’s a strong case to be made that news media is running in the wrong direction of its audience.

    The Big 3 networks and cable news channels have undergone a series of rare changes behind the desk. While the replacements are all seasoned journalists, what is glaringly missing in the flurry of changes is the failure to elevate African Americans to any of these positions.

    The National Association of Black Journalists finds this troubling – particularly since there are dynamic African Americans poised to ascend to these coveted positions. For nearly four decades, NABJ has worked tirelessly as advocates for diversity, calling out those guilty of maintaining the “status quo.”

    As America inches toward a world that is more black and brown, corporations are adjusting their cultures to embrace diversity because they know it makes good business sense. But too many network executives are ignoring this reality.

    Russ Mitchell of CBS News, Lester Holt of NBC News, and CNN’s T. J. Holmes are weekend warriors who possess charisma, journalistic heft, and the handsome qualities to front a prime-time show. Mitchell’s poise and professional bearing as he commandeered the historic announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death surely put to rest any doubt about his prime-time readiness. Holt has been the go-to guy as a substitute for vacationing “stars,” but his primary shift is the weekend.

    While we are encouraged by Ann Curry’s promotion as co-anchor of the Today Show and Natalie Morales’ selection as the news reader, NABJ still has serious concerns about a lack of diversity during prime time. Robin Roberts is a veteran on Good Morning America. MSNBC’s Tamron Hall and CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux have their own slots, but not in prime time.

    On the print side, NABJ applauded The New York Times for its recent decision to promote an African American, Dean Baquet, to managing editor of news. Unfortunately, black editors are becoming an “endangered species” in the midst of layoffs. For example, daily newspapers in Houston and Savannah have staffs that are disproportionately white. Yet, the communities they serve are overwhelmingly of color. The Houston Chronicle does not have a single black metro editor deciding what gets covered on a daily basis.


    The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) reports that the percentage of African-American, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American journalists continues to decline in U.S. newsrooms for the third consecutive year. Astoundingly, there were “929 fewer black journalists in the 2010 survey than were recorded in 2001,” a drop of 31.5 percent.

    This horrifying report strongly suggests that the perspective and unique insight that black journalists, in particular, and minority journalists, in general, bring to their newsrooms and communities are being marginalized and devalued – and, by default, so is the paying readership.

    While the recession and digital revolution can be attributed to some of the dip, NABJ believes that the downsizing decisions should be proportionate to the populations served by each newspaper.

    THIS: As you buck the trend, newspaper bundles get thinner; the network viewership tics downward; advertisers abandon you, and readers increasingly turn to other outlets, online destinations and bloggers for news and information.

    Because some news organizations don’t “get it,” NABJ will continue to push for diversity and accountability. Failing to respond to your entire audience will be at your own peril and will most certainly threaten your ultimate survival.

    Kathy Y. Times

  44. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone; Happy Saturday!

    Loving Friends of Distinction, SG2.

Leave a Reply