Serendipity SOUL | Monday Open Thread | Phyllis Hyman Week

Happy MUN-dane, Everybody!

This week 3 Chics is featuring the incomparable songstress Ms. Phyllis Hyman.  Enjoy.

Wiki: Phyllis Linda Hyman (July 6, 1949 – June 30, 1995) was an American soul singer and actress.

Phyllis Hyman was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and grew up in the St. Clair Village, the South Hills section of Pittsburgh. Born to an an African American mother and Italian father,she was the eldest of 7 children and a third cousin of Earle Hyman. After leaving Pittsburgh, her music training started with a scholarship to a music school. On graduation, she performed on a national tour with the group New Direction in 1971. After the group disbanded, she joined All the People and worked with another local group, The Hondo Beat. At this time, she appeared in the film Lenny (1974). She also did a two-year stint leading a band called Phyllis Hyman and the P/H Factor. Hyman was discovered in 1975 by internationally known pop artist and music industry veteran Sid Maurer, and former Epic Records promoter Fred Frank, and signed to their Roadshow Records/Desert Moon imprint.

Hyman moved to New York City to work on her reputation. She did background vocals on Jon Lucien‘s Premonition and worked in clubs. It was during one of these performances that she was spotted by Norman Connors, who offered her a spot as a vocalist on his album, You Are My Starship (1976). The duo scored on the R&B charts with a remake of The Stylistics‘ “Betcha by Golly Wow!“.

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152 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Monday Open Thread | Phyllis Hyman Week

  1. Ametia says:

    Last Word- Breakdown of Obama’s strategy
    Monday July 11, 2011 10:23 PM EDT

  2. rikyrah says:

    I just saw a promo for a new DALLAS on TNT?


  3. Chuck Todd: Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin Couldn’t Win GOP Nomination (VIDEO)

    NBC’s chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd told David Gregory that Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin could “never” win the Republican nomination.

    Todd was speaking on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.” Palin is the subject of a lengthy cover story in the latest issue of “Newsweek.” The tagline on the cover reads, “I Can Win.”

    Not so fast, said Todd.

    “It feels like she is simply trying to go out on her own terms,” he said, adding that Palin’s message seemed to be, “I could win, but I don’t need it.”

    Todd’s co-panelist Eugene Robinson agreed, saying Palin was more of a “gadfly” than a serious contender.

    “Look, Rush Limbaugh is an incredibly influential figure in the Republican Party, and he could never win the Republican nomination,” Todd cut in. “I think that’s where Sarah Palin’s coming … look at her numbers among Republicans. She doesn’t have the support among Republicans to win this nomination.”

  4. rikyrah says:

    Senator Marco Rubio’s Brother in Law: A Convicted Drug Trafficker

    Channel: Politics

    Senator Marco Rubio has provided generous details about his family, expressing time and again during his successful 2009 U.S. senate campaign that he was proud of his parents’ efforts to build a better future for their four children in this country.

    But there is one family episode that the Senator does not want to talk about. Univision Investiga has learned that in 1987, Rubio’s older sister Barbara was caught up in the year’s most significant antinarcotics operation in South Florida.

    According to public records, federal prosecutors in Miami ordered the seizure of the home where Barbara Rubio lived with her husband Orlando Cicilia. Prosecutors suspected the home was being used for activities that violated drug laws. Another property owned by the couple, located in what today is an office building, was also subject to seizure for the same reason.

    Barbara Rubio was not arrested or indicted. Cicilia was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana belonging to a crime ring implicated in the death and dismemberment of a federal informant, as well as the bribing of several Miami police officers.

    At the time, Marco Rubio, just 16 years old, was a student at South Miami High.

    Univision asked the Senator how this epsiode affected his family and what type of relationship he had with his convicted brother-in-law. Rubio’s spokesperson, who did not deny any of the information uncovered by Univision Investiga, said he considered the issue a private family matter.

    “Quite simply, the pursuit of this story and the targeting of the Senator’s relatives, who are private citizens, is outrageous,” said Alex Burgos in a letter to Univision CEO Randy Falco seeking to kill the story. “They do not hold public office and are unrelated in every way to his service in the United States Senate.”

    Burgos added, “When Senator Rubio’s sister’s husband was a younger man 25 years ago, it is a fact that he made many mistakes. He and his family have paid the price for them…This is not news. This is tabloid journalism.”

    According to federal documents and press coverage of the trial, Cicilia was identified as a second-level member of a drug trafficking outfit led by Mario Tabraue, a Cuban American known for keeping an extensive collection of exotic animals in his home.

    Before being indicted, Cicilia earned a living in the exotic fish and bird trade. In 1980, he married Barbara Rubio in Nevada, where the Senator’s parents lived at the time. Mario, the Senator’s father, worked at Sam’s Town Hotel in Las Vegas and Oria, Rubio’s mother, was a maid at Imperial Palace.In 1985 the family moved to Miami, a city plagued by drug related crime. Drama struck the Rubio family just two years later when Cicilia was arrested as part of a larger raid dubbed “Operation Cobra.” News of the arrests occupied the front pages of the city’s newspapers.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Barrett denounces GOP redistricting plan

    By Steve Schultze of the Journal Sentinel

    Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on Monday denounced a Republican redistricting plan, saying it would weaken Milwaukee and strengthen Republican-dominated suburbs outside Milwaukee County.

    “This county loses enormous power” under the GOP plan introduced Friday afternoon, Barrett said, through combining bits of Milwaukee districts with suburban districts. That would shift the “political center of gravity” to the suburbs, he said.

    Barrett said the weekend timing of the release was aimed at bypassing deep public scrutiny.

    In an interview and during an appearance before Milwaukee County municipal leaders, Barrett called for a bipartisan effort to defeat the plan.

    “Unless there’s pushback by the public and the media . . . the whole goal is to jam this through in a week,” said Barrett, who has called for reforming the once-a-decade redistricting process by turning it over to an appointed commission. The state Legislature has the job now by law, but the last three redistricting plans were decided in federal court because the Legislature and governors couldn’t agree on a plan.

    The new GOP redistricting plan is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday and could be acted on as early as July 19. What’s different this year from previous decennial redistricting efforts is that the GOP controls both houses of the Legislature and the governor.

    Also in the past, state redistricting plans weren’t crafted until after municipal and county political boundaries were already redrawn to take into account population shifts, Barrett noted. The new state plan, however, could be passed far earlier than usual, short-circuiting or messing up the municipal redistricting effort, he said.

    For example, if the Republican plan is approved, some wards in the city of Milwaukee would be divided among three different legislative districts. That would create a major headache for city election officials and confusion for voters, said Barrett.

    “That creates havoc with the logistics of running elections,” he said.

    Republican leaders in the Legislature have said they plan to introduce a separate bill to change the order of redistricting to redo local aldermanic and county board lines after the legislative remap is completed. That could render moot the redistricting efforts of Milwaukee and other municipalities, Barrett said. He approved a city redistricting plan Friday.

    The early state move on redistricting showed the Republicans were promptly fulfilling a constitutional requirement, according to a statement from Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and his brother, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald.

    Barrett told members of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council – composed of mayors and village president of Milwaukee County’s 19 municipalities – that regardless of political persuasion “all local officials should be offended by” the Republican redistricting plan.

    Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor said shifting power away from Milwaukee County – “the economic engine of southeast Wisconsin” – through redistricting would be “the worst thing that could happen.”

    “People are just sick to death of all the gamesmanship going on,” said Taylor, the chairman of the council. “We need to start talking with one voice.”

  6. rikyrah says:

    July 11, 2011 10:00 AM
    Stand for Children Founder Brags About What His Group Did To Teachers Unions
    By Susie Madrak

    f you’re a teacher, or know one, you need to see this so you get a handle on what’s being planned for every state.

    There was a sudden influx of cash into Stand for Children in Illinois while this little scenario was going on.

    Stand for Children also supported Senate Bill 1 in Indiana and raised out-of-state money to support candidates in Denver-area elections. The right-wing Walton Foundation made grants in 2010 of $200,000 to Stand for Children in Colorado and $1.38 million to the Stand for Children Leadership Center. The Walton Foundation’s total for “Education Reform Grants” was $157 million in 2010 alone.

    These corporate right-wing and allegedly-liberal hedge fund education hobbyists (Bloomberg’s daughter and Steve Jobs’ wife, in addition to all the Wall St. types) are all over the place, like kudzu. Their actions are sneaky, undemocratic and harmful to children, because parents and teachers get no real say and there’s no research that supports what they do. Oh, and they want to break the seniority protections of every last teachers union. So pay attention! Fortunately, they were nowhere as successful* in Illinois as Edelman brags.

    Note: Since this video went viral, Jonah Edelman has apologized:

    As Lisa Guisbond said, “this is an amazing video [Ed. note: Video is originally from Fred Klonsky’s blog] from the Aspen Ideas Festival in which Stand For Children’s Jonah Edelman (yes, son of Marian Wright Edelman) explains how he, with the support of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Arne Duncan’s senior advisor Jo Anderson (former Executive Director of the IEA) outfoxed the CTU, the IFT and the IEA’s Ken Swanson and Audrey Soglin into agreeing to Senate Bill 7.”

    For those who still believe that there is any way to trust, negotiate with, compromise with, or have any dealings with Ed Deform in any way that does not demand complete capitulation to the ed deformers, watch this video. Play it at your next union meeting, share it with the world.

    We do know some of what goes on at the Aspen Ideas Festival besides getting a chance to smell and touch sewer rats like Rupert Murdoch. Here is a great example of massive ego mixed with manipulative glee that was posted and quickly pulled from the Aspen site, but not before Fred Klonsky captured a copy for the world to see and hear.

    In this Machiavellian masterpiece, we see Jonah Edelman of Stand for Children infamy (list of donors here) describe in great detail how great wads of hedge-fund and other corporate cash came to bear on the last legislative election in Illinois, how all the best lobbyists were bought up by Deform (including minority ones), how unions were outspent and how politicians followed the money, how teacher unions were lured to the table and how they were totally manhandled by the best lawyers and negotiators that money can buy, how union leaders became complicit, scared, weak, groveling.

    Hear how Karen Lewis, head of Chicago Teachers Union was made a fool of, how she gave up the right to strike with less than a 75% strike vote (something that has never happened, as Jonah notes). Hear how Lewis gave the Deformer lawyers free rein to work out the details on a terrible agreement. As Jonah swaggers, “We got to decide all the fine print.” In those details is the insurance needed to impose the same IMPACT teacher eval plan that DC has.

    Jersey Jazzman offers his take.

    *Edelman completely exaggerates the changes in the new pension program. It’s nothing like what Wisconsin, Ohio, or New Jersey have done. In fact, most of what he claims credit for has been in the works for several years. Guess he needs to convince those donors to keep on giving — and keep those lobbyists employed!

  7. rikyrah says:

    As British cellphone hacking scandal widens, Murdoch’s bid for BSkyB hits new snag

    Reports say that Prince Charles and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown were among those whose cellphones were targeted by newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch. Meanwhile, Murdoch’s bid to take over satellite broadcaster BSkyB faces months of delay after the government refers the matter to antitrust regulators.

    By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times

    July 12, 2011
    Reporting from London—

    Embattled media magnate Rupert Murdoch’s bid for control of Britain’s biggest satellite broadcaster ran into further trouble Monday, even as new reports surfaced that a former prime minister and senior members of the royal family were possible targets of a phone-hacking campaign by journalists’

    Murdoch’s long-running attempt to add satellite TV company BSkyB to his News Corp. media conglomerate faces several months of delay after the British government decided to refer the $12-billion bid to regulators charged with determining whether allowing ownership by Murdoch would violate anti-monopoly rules.

    The move was triggered by News Corp.’s withdrawal of its pledge to spin off the Sky News channel from BSkyB as a condition for acquiring the satellite broadcaster. News Corp. said Monday that it was scrapping its promise because it was confident that media competition would not be compromised if it held on to Sky News as part of a takeover.

    The government has been under heavy pressure to put off a decision on the bid since the hacking scandal escalated dramatically last week, as a result of allegations that the Murdoch-owned News of the World tabloid broke into the cellphones of a kidnapped schoolgirl and the families of fallen soldiers in addition to the phones of celebrities and politicians.

    More than 100,000 people have sent messages to officials opposing the BSkyB takeover bid. On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg became the highest-ranking member of the government to call on Murdoch, who is in London to deal with the scandal, to withdraw News Corp.’s bid for BSkyB altogether.

    “Look how people feel about this,” Clegg said, urging Murdoch to “do the decent and sensible thing and reconsider.”

    Also Monday, the Guardian newspaper reported that Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, and his wife, Camilla, may have been targeted by the News of the World’s cellphone hackers. Charles’ sons, William and Harry, were already known to be victims of phone hacking; the tabloid’s royal-family reporter was jailed in 2007 for illegally intercepting voicemails left by the two younger princes for their aides.

    In addition, the BBC said that a police officer on the royal family’s security team is suspected of having accepted bribes from the News of the World in exchange for the phone numbers of members of the royal household, including Queen Elizabeth II, and their entourage.

    And former Prime Minister Gordon Brown is now alleging that journalists from the Sunday Times and the Sun, both Murdoch-owned newspapers, not only tried to hack into his voicemails but also attempted to gain access to his family’s financial and medical details by impersonating him in phone calls to banks and other institutions.

    The spiraling allegations deal another blow to Murdoch and News Corp. To limit the damage, News Corp.’s British subsidiary, News International, took the drastic step last week of closing the News of the World.,0,6572109.story

  8. creolechild says:

    Thank you, Deaniac, for writing this very informative article which debunks Eric Cantor’s L.I.E.S.

    I don’t know what else to call him. What else would you call a man who has survived an existential question six times in less than 10 years? Why, yes, Eric Cantor did that. You see, this existential question is raising the debt limit.

    Amid ongoing negotiations with President Obama over raising the debt ceiling, House Republican leaders responded to Obama’s call Monday for compromise by saying that their openness to raising the debt ceiling at all is sacrifice enough.

    “A vote to increase the debt limit in this country is an existential question for a fiscal conservative,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Monday. “These votes aren’t easy. …What I don’t think that the White House understands is how difficult it is for fiscal conservatives to say they’re going to vote for a debt ceiling increase.”

    Yes, indeed. A vote to increase the debt ceiling is an existential question for a fiscal conservative like Mr. Cantor. You vote for a debt limit increase and your very existence as a fiscal conservative is threatened. And Superman Cantor has faced that threat six times in less than 10 years and survived!

    Five of those times Think Progress noted:

    June 2002: Congress approves a $450 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $6.4 trillion. McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor vote “yea”, Kyl votes “nay.”

    May 2003: Congress approves a $900 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $7.384 trillion. All four approve.

    November 2004: Congress approves an $800 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.1 trillion. All four approve.

    March 2006: Congress approves a $781 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.965 trillion. All four approve.

    September 2007: Congress approves an $850 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $9.815 trillion. All four approve.

    And then in October of 2008, Eric Cantor voted YEA on TARP, which also raised the debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion.

    That’s six times in less 10 years, if arithmetic is any measure. In less than a decade Superman Cantor faced his “existential question” six times and six times, he emerged from the rubble of fiscal conservatism. I am speechless. I am not worthy.

    Or, I guess he might just be a drama queen. Or a crybaby. I guess this is what happens when President Obama tightens the knot around the Republican bluff on fiscal responsibility and puts the nail on the coffin on the canard that the GOP is or ever was serious about deficit reduction. Heh.

    And uh, this just for kicks: I just noticed a Google ad where Ron Paul is cracking the whip on Speaker Boehner for “betrayal.” Ahahahaha. This is so sweet to watch!


    Maybe the Republicans will learn now the price of letting whackjobs take over and run their party. Too much to hope for? Ah, maybe. But for now, pass the popcorn!

  9. rikyrah says:

    July 11, 2011 11:00 AM
    Republicans Try to Gut Medicaid as Studies Show Its Success
    By Jon Perr
    As the debate over health care reform heated up in the fall of 2009, Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander called Medicaid “a medical ghetto” that “none of us, or any of our families, would ever want to be a part of for our health care.” As it turns out, Alexander and his GOP colleagues were as wrong as they were cynical. A breakthrough study by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) reveals that Medicaid recipients have far greater access to doctors, live healthier lives and enjoy more financial stability than those who must go without. Nevertheless, 98% of Congressional Republicans voted to gut Medicaid spending by over $1 trillion in the next decade and with it, add up to 44 million people to the ranks of the uninsured.

    Currently, the $300 billion Medicaid program serves roughly 60 million Americans. On average, the federal government picks up 57% of the tab, with poorer states like Mississippi and Alabama getting 75% of the funding from Washington. Medicaid not only pays for a third of nursing home care in the United States; it covers a third of all childbirths. (In Texas, the figure is one-half.) As with Medicare, Medicaid provides insurance for substantially less than private insurers (27% less for children, 20% for adults.) Still, the likes of Senator Alexander and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) suggested that it is better to be uninsured than on Medicaid.

    Not according to the NBER. The same nonpartisan group that determines the official beginning and end of recessions, NBER found, as Harvard researcher and former member of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers Katherine Baicker put it, “Medicaid matters.”

    The NBER study avoided the pitfalls of past studies by examining the case of Oregon. After Oregon in 2008 established a lottery to add 10,000 people to it limited Medicaid rolls, the NBER team interview 6,000 of the lucky ones and 6,000 of the 90,000 who lost out. The results were striking:

    We find that in this first year, the treatment group had substantively and statistically significantly higher health care utilization (including primary and preventive care as well as hospitalizations), lower out-of-pocket medical expenditures and medical debt (including fewer bills sent to collection), and better self-reported physical and mental health than the control group.

    The New York Times provided some of the details of the Medicaid success story:

    Those with Medicaid were 35 percent more likely to go to a clinic or see a doctor, 15 percent more likely to use prescription drugs and 30 percent more likely to be admitted to a hospital. Researchers were unable to detect a change in emergency room use.

    Women with insurance were 60 percent more likely to have mammograms, and those with insurance were 20 percent more likely to have their cholesterol checked. They were 70 percent more likely to have a particular clinic or office for medical care and 55 percent more likely to have a doctor whom they usually saw.

    The insured also felt better: the likelihood that they said their health was good or excellent increased by 25 percent, and they were 40 percent less likely to say that their health had worsened in the past year than those without insurance.

    As Ezra Klein of the Washington Post summed up the findings, “knowing that Medicaid matters is good, but we already sort of knew that.” But back in Washington, in response to that self-evident truth, Democrats and Republicans have drawn contradictory lessons and offered diametrically opposed plans for the future.

    By extending Medicaid coverage to families earning up to 133% of the poverty level, starting in 2014 the Affordable Care Act passed by Democrats in Congress will bring insurance to millions more Americans. A March study by the Commonwealth Fund revealed that revealed that when fully implemented, the ACA will bring relief to “nearly all of the 52 million working-age adults who were without health insurance for a time in 2010.”

    Not if the Republicans get their way.

    With the passage of the Ryan 2012 budget proposal, Republicans voted to slash Medicaid funding by $1 trillion over 10 years while sending the remaining dollars as block grants to the states. As it turns out, that gambit would not only repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act law, but guarantee than millions of low income Americans are deprived of health care.

  10. rikyrah says:

    CREW Calls On Congress To Investigate News Corp. After Phone Hacking Scandal

    The watchdog group Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is calling on Congress to investigate Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. for evidence that the company’s sprawling phone hacking scandal reached the United States.

    CREW’s letter to Congress follows allegations that the company’s now defunct News Of The World tabloid hacked into the phones of murder victims and terrorism victims, and even several prominent British politicians like former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

    CREW sent a letter Monday to Sens. John Rockefeller (D-WV) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Henry Waxman (D-CA), who are all ranking members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, respectively. The group asked that Congress investigate allegations whether in addition to its actions in the U.K., News Of The World hacked the voicemails of 9/11 victims.

    According to the U.K.’s Daily Mirror, a former New York City police officer who works as a private investigator claimed that News Of The World reporters contacted him to get phone records of dead victims of September 11 for the days leading up to the attacks. “[The investigator’s] presumption was that they wanted the information so they could hack into the ­relevant voicemails, just like it has been shown they have done in the U.K.,” a Mirror source said.

    “Congress should immediately investigate whether and to what extent News Of The World journalists hacked or attempted to hack the voicemails of American terrorist victims, politicians, and celebrities,” CREW’s letter said, “as well as whether journalists working for any other News Corporation media outlet in the United States engaged in such tactics.”

    News Corp. owns Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post in the United States.

    News Of The World published its last edition on Sunday, after public outrage over revelations about a widespread hacking scheme by the paper. In one case, in 2002 reporters for the paper hacked into the cell phone of a 13-year old girl who had been kidnapped and murdered, and listened to and deleted voicemails left for her by family members from when she was still missing.

    New allegations Monday suggest that these tactics were also used by other news outlets under News International, the U.K. arm of News Corp — including The Sun and The Sunday Times.

    The Guardian reported that over a period of ten years, journalists from News International targeted former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, “attempting to access his voicemail and obtaining information from his bank account and legal file as well as his family’s medical records.” Read the full report here.

    Several Scotland Yard police officers have also been accused of taking bribes from News Of The World reporters.

  11. rikyrah says:

    A Look at the President’s Press Conference

    by BooMan
    Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 02:43:35 PM EST

    I am going to highlight and discuss a few things from the president’s press conference today. To start, let’s look at his bottom line. First, the president made this remark: “I will not sign a 30-day or a 60-day or a 90-day extension.” He’s referring to the debt limit. Then he had this exchange:

    Q Do you see any path to a deal if they don’t budge on taxes?

    THE PRESIDENT: I do not see a path to a deal if they don’t budge, period. I mean, if the basic proposition is “it’s my way or the highway,” then we’re probably not going to get something done because we’ve got divided government. We’ve got Democrats controlling the Senate; we probably are going to need Democratic votes in the House for any package that could possibly pass. And so if, in fact, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are sincere — and I believe they are — that they don’t want to see the U.S. government default, then they’re going to have to compromise just like Democrats are going to have to compromise; just like I have shown myself willing to compromise.

    Now, let’s be frank. There are Blue Dogs in the House who might be willing to sign off on cuts to Social Security or Medicare and Medicaid, but not unless they get something on the revenue side in return. And to get more mainstream Democrats to consider such cuts, the Republicans will have to considerably sweeten the deal beyond what they’re offering now. The same can be said about the Senate, which is still under nominal Democratic control. The president sees the same thing that I’ve been seeing. Boehner either fails to produce any bill to increase the debt limit, presents a bill that fails, or he caves in and presents a bill that is almost universally acceptable to Democrats and a small handful of responsible Republicans. Those are his options. The only other option is to ram home some piece of crap bill with majority-Republican support and then fix it in Conference Committee with the Senate to be something that can pass both houses of Congress and that the president will sign. He may try the last option out of sheer desperation and in an effort to buy time. He can’t afford to simply fail to pass anything.

    Now, moving on, what I am going to do here is splice together some fragments from different parts of the press conference. What I want to show is that the president wants to do more stimulus, but he can’t do it in the current political environment. He feels that he must tackle the deficit in order to pivot to jobs. Early on in the press conference he noted that the deal he is offering is not what he wants.

    With respect to a balanced package, is the package that we’re talking about exactly what I would want? No. I might want more revenues and fewer cuts to programs that benefit middle-class families that are trying to send their kids to college, or benefit all of us because we’re investing more in medical research.

    So I make no claims that somehow the position that Speaker Boehner and I discussed reflects 100 percent of what I want. But that’s the point. My point is, is that I’m willing to move in their direction in order to get something done. And that’s what compromise entails. We have a system of government in which everybody has got to give a little bit.

    Later on, he answered a question from Sam Stein about why he would cut spending and touch Social Security when the former will exacerbate unemployment and the latter doesn’t impact the deficit. The president defended the Recovery Act as effective Keynesian economics, noting that states are now laying off teachers, cops, and firefighters because they have no more stimulus money. But then he said this

    So my strong preference would be for us to figure out ways that we can continue to provide help across the board. But I’m operating within some political constraints here, because whatever I do has to go through the House of Representatives.

    What that means then is, is that among the options that are available to us is, for example, the payroll tax cut, which might not be exactly the kind of program that I would design in order to boost employment but does make a difference because it puts money in the pockets of people who are then spending it at businesses, large and small. That gives them more customers, increases demand, and it gives businesses a greater incentive to hire. And that would be, for example, a component of this overall package.

    This answer should be instructive to a lot of progressive critics. The complete answer demonstrates that Obama would strongly prefer to provide more stimulus to the economy. He made the exact kind of intellectual defense of Keynesian economics that everyone from Krugman to Atrios has been begging him to make. But he can’t get the money to do it, and he’s not going to beat a dead horse. He has no choice but to move on and try other things. And he makes this even more clear in his last answer of the day.

    We are now in a situation where because the economy has moved slower than we wanted, because of the deficits and debt that result from the recession and the crisis, that taking a approach that costs trillions of dollars is not an option. We don’t have that kind of money right now.

    What we can do is to solve this underlying debt and deficit problem for a long period of time so that then we can get back to having a conversation about, all right, since we now have solved this problem, that’s not — no longer what’s hampering economic growth, that’s not feeding business and uncertainty, everybody feels that the ground is stable under our feet, are there some strategies that we could pursue that would really focus on some targeted job growth — infrastructure being a primary example.

    I mean, the infrastructure bank that we’ve proposed is relatively small. But could we imagine a project where we’re rebuilding roads and bridges and ports and schools and broadband lines and smart grids, and taking all those construction workers and putting them to work right now? I can imagine a very aggressive program like that that I think the American people would rally around and would be good for the economy not just next year or the year after, but for the next 20 or 30 years.

    But we can’t even have that conversation if people feel as if we don’t have our fiscal house in order. So the idea here is let’s act now. Let’s get this problem off the table. And then with some firm footing, with a solid fiscal situation, we will then be in a position to make the kind of investments that I think are going to be necessary to win the future.

    Now, Obama is pretty explicitly embracing some right-wing frames about what’s hampering the economy here, but there’s a greater point. He’s saying 1) that he can’t invest trillions to get the economy moving again, and 2) that he can’t even have a conversation about stimulating the economy because of the debt-gorilla in the middle of the room. To be clear, it’s obvious from his earlier answers that he would strongly prefer to do more stimulus. Whether the money’s not there because we can’t afford it or because Congress won’t give it to him is immaterial, as the result is the same. It’s not an option.

    There’s a problem with his reasoning here, and naturally everyone leapt on it immediately, including me. The Republicans aren’t going to stop complaining about taxes, debt, and deficits no matter what happens. We could be running a surplus and they’d still be complaining about government spending and taxes (see 2000). But, in fairness, the president is right that the 2010 midterms created a mandate for House Republicans to attack the deficit and the size of government. He has found himself blocked from taking any action unless and until he acknowledges that mandate. He can ignore it as a trumped up crisis, but he can’t move on to other things if he ignores it.

    So, here we are. The president is making some tough decisions, and he’s still faced with nothing but intransigence.

  12. rikyrah says:

    Arizona lawmaker points loaded gun at reporter’s chest

    A freshman Arizona state Senator may be in need of some gun safety lessons.

    Richard Ruelas, a reporter for The Arizona Republic, found himself staring down the barrel of Republican state Sen. Lori Klein’s raspberry-pink firearm during a recent interview at the Capitol.

    “Oh, it’s so cute,” Klein said of the .380 Ruger that she carries in purse at all times.

    While the loaded pistol had no safety and the laser pointer was centered on the reporter’s chest, Klein explained that there was no need to worry.

    “I just didn’t have my hand on the trigger,” she said.

    Just two days after a gunman in Tucson killed six and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Klein surprised security guards by first trying to bring the firearm onto the Senate floor.

    “They said, ‘You can’t go in.’ I said, ‘Oh, yeah, I can. I have a right to carry,'” Klein recalled.
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    In March, the freshman state senator found herself in hot water again for reading a letter on the Senate floor that claimed Hispanic students “hate America” and only want to become “gang members and gangsters.”

  13. rikyrah says:

    Lawrence O’Donnell is cracking me up tonight – talking about the debt ceiling and Orange Julius.

    O’Donnell about POTUS – ‘This is a work of strategic brilliance’.


  14. creolechild says:

    Here we go..Phyllis (RIP) and Angie Bofill clowning around and jamming at the Blue Note. This is what you SANGIN’…

    Most people are aware that Phyllis has been deceased for several years now. Unfortunately tragedy struck Angela Bofill who has had two strokes over the past several years BUT she’s on the road to recovery…Thank you, Relentless, for uploading this to YouTube!

  15. Will someone tell me what Dylan Ratigan meant by stating to Keli Goff that President Obama is pretending to be somebody he’s not? And why did she allow him to get away with it?

    • Ametia says:

      That douche bag Dylan means POTUS is not acting like the little boy he called him last year; remember?

      • Ametia says:

        Ratigan’s a conservative. MSNBC has jumped shark with these white hateful frat boys.

      • Dylan Ratgian:President Obama is pretending to be somebody he’s not.

        Translation: Barack Obama is sitting in the White House pretending he’s President of the United States!

      • Ametia says:

        Translation: Barack Hussein Obama is somebody I’M NOT, (POTUS) and i soooo wanted to be.

        OR: “That negro’s president; and I’M NOT!! He’s not supposed to be POTUS before me; I’m WHITE!!!!!! I could go on and on. bottom line. Dylan Ratigan cannot accept the black man as president, so he along with the rest of his ilk try to diminish him and deny Barack Hussein Obama the rightfult title of PRESIDENT.

        Get over it BITCHES!

    • creolechild says:

      Metia~ the bobbling heads on TV and elsewhere are 1.) feeling mighty insecure because the POTUS has proved to them that he knows what he’s doing; 2.) they’re attempting to provide cover for the GOP by throwing up as many distractions as possible…hence they’ll be spewing garbage like this from now until the president leaves office, 3.) they’ve been shown to be irrelevant and biased for not accurately informing the public about current issues, and 4.) this is an attempt to create controversy which will, in turn, generate more viewers to their sad-azz shows to see what they going to say next and/or to generate clicks (read: ad revenues) at their websites.

      We’ve seen this strategy played out over and over and over….

  16. rikyrah says:

    July 11, 2011 4:30 PM

    Cantor conspicuous confusion over compromise

    All of the relevant players in D.C. want to raise the debt ceiling and prevent a crisis. President Obama is urging Republicans to compromise: Democrats will accept a lot of cuts if Republicans accept a little revenue.

    Today, the oft-confused House Majority Leader tried to argue that Republicans have already made all the concessions they should be expected to make: they’re willing to raise the debt ceiling after Dems pay the ransom.

    Amid ongoing negotiations with President Obama over raising the debt ceiling, House Republican leaders responded to Obama’s call Monday for compromise by saying that their openness to raising the debt ceiling at all is sacrifice enough.

    “A vote to increase the debt limit in this country is an existential question for a fiscal conservative,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Monday. “These votes aren’t easy. …What I don’t think that the White House understands is how difficult it is for fiscal conservatives to say they’re going to vote for a debt ceiling increase.”

    Cantor added that his party’s concession is “the fact that we are voting — the fact that we are even discussing voting for a debt ceiling increase.”

    And with this, the House Majority Leader has slipped into true madness.

    First, characterizing a willingness to raise the debt ceiling as some kind of enormous sacrifice is insane. We’re talking about paying a bill for money we’ve already spent. Cantor wants the political world to understand that his party sees this as an “existential” problem? Maybe he can start by explaining why Republicans had no qualms about voting to raise the debt ceiling seven out of the eight years Bush was in office.

    Maybe it only became “an existential problem” after a Democrat got elected? Or more likely, Eric Cantor’s conspicuous unintelligence is catching up with him. When he’s personally voting routinely to raise the debt ceiling, it’s not controversial. When he doesn’t feel like letting America pay its bills, then the rest of the world just doesn’t understand what a burden it is for Republicans to meet their legal, moral, and economic obligations.

    But just as importantly, Cantor is turning the very notion of what a compromise is on its ear.

    Democratic and Republican leaders agree that the debt ceiling has to be raised; it’s not optional. Once that’s established, the question then becomes what it will take to get reluctant lawmakers to do what they have to do.

    On the debt ceiling, Dems are willing to accept a trade-off — they’ll accept spending cuts in exchange for at least a little new revenue. That, to them, seems fair. Indeed, it’s probably too fair — in the last 80 years, no party has ever had to pay a ransom to get a party to do their duty.

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

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

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

  17. rikyrah says:

    I’ll say it:



    Bachmann Responds To Slavery Controversy With Another Slavery Analogy
    In their apparent effort to ban pornography, GOP presidential frontrunner Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN) and competitor Rick Santorum simultaneously signed a pledge declaring that African-American children had better family structures under slavery than under President Obama. After furious backlash from the African-American community, the FAMiLY LEADER stripped the “misconstrued” language from the pledge. The language, however, was the first bullet point in the pledge’s preamble when the candidates signed. Failing to explain why he supported such a statement in the first place, Santorum’s campaign simply stated he “believed it was the right thing for the Iowa Family Leader to remove the language.”

    But Bachmann apparently has an affinity for slavery references. First intimating that Bachmann somehow missed the slavery passage and signed only the 14-point, gay-bashing, anti-porn vow, Bachmann’s campaign later offered what it apparently thinks is a more appropriate slavery metaphor:

    Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart, who confirmed the Minnesota congresswoman signed the pledge, said Sunday “In no uncertain terms, Congresswoman Bachmann believe[s] that slavery was horrible and economic enslavement is also horrible.”

    As Forbes’ Osha Gray Davidson notes, it appears that Bachmann has “reduced the horrors of historical slavery to a talking point on her presidential quest.” Apparently, the slavery analogies are a frequent stop on her political path:

    – Health Reform: In a 2009 speech in Colorado, Bachmann railed against health care reform. “What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass.” Claiming that many Americans already pay half their income to taxes, she said, “This is slavery…It’s nothing more than slavery.”
    – National Debt: In January, Bachmann offered her now infamous take on American colonial history in which she declared that the Founding Fathers “worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.” Bachmann then framed her speech as an argument against the “slavery” of the national debt. “It is a slavery, it is a slavery that is a bondage to debt and a bondage to decline,” she said. “It is a subservience of a sovereign people to a failed, self-selected elite.”

    Before launching into the national debt comparison, Bachmann prefaced the analogy with, “The media might twist what I’m about to say but it doesn’t bother me at all. Because it is a slavery.” Most Americans who possess a cursory understanding of life under slavery can say that whatever “it” Bachmann is pointing to, it most certainly is not slavery.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Inflammatory Social Conservative Pledge Trips Up GOP Contenders

    Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are taking heat for signing onto a group’s pledge suggesting African-American families were better off in some ways under slavery.

    The two most prominent social conservatives in the 2012 field signed onto “The Marriage Vow – A Declaration of Dependence upon Marriage and Family,” by The Family Leader, a Christian group. According to the pledge, “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.”

    Everyone involved has since distanced themselves from the statement.The Family Leader said the slavery language could be “misconstrued” and removed it, Santorum praised their decision (while urging more Republicans to sign the pledge), and Bachmann reiterated her strong support for the 13th Amendment.

    “In no uncertain terms, Congresswoman Bachmann believes that slavery was horrible and economic enslavement is also horrible,” spokeswoman Alice Stewart told CNN.

    The group’s claim wasn’t only offensive, it was also inaccurate. Forbes’ Osha Gray Davidson notes that it relies on a study that doesn’t even have data past 1880 and whose author completely disagrees with the group’s conclusion.

  19. Sarah Palin call President Obama as a ‘sugar daddy’ who has ‘run out of sugar’.

    Sarah Palin call President Obama as a ‘sugar daddy’ who has ‘run out of sugar’.Sarah Palin has weighed into the increasingly fractious debate on the deficit reduction deal, condemning President Obama as a ‘sugar daddy’ who has ‘run out of sugar’.

    She launched a scathing attack on Mr Obama, condemning the country’s ‘dangerously unsustainable debt’ and waxing lyrical about her time as governor of Alaska.

    Her comments came as senior Republicans warned that the Democrats’ insistence on tax hikes is killing the deal on debt.

    Just hours before a crucial White House summit tonight on whether to raise the debt ceiling, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said a deal between the two parties on the deficit may be dead, as his party is reluctant to accept tax increases in exchange for major spending cuts.

    His comments were echoed by Senator Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, who told CBS in the last few days Mr Obama has ‘seemed to open up to the possibility of long-term debt fix, but it looks like now that that’s fallen apart based on demands for higher taxes.’

    But Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged Republicans they ‘should not walk away now from trying to do something good for the country’, warning it would be ‘catastrophic’ for the economy if the government defaults on its obligations on August 2.

  20. creolechild says:

    Time Warner, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Cablevision Systems all said Thursday that they were implementing a series of “best practices” recommendations that would see the connections of subscribers accused of copyright violations slowed down or even temporarily blocked if the alleged offenses continue.

    The adoption of these policies, proposed by The Center for Copyright Information represents another brick in the entertainment industry’s firewall against online piracy and a significant defeat for Internet freedom advocates.

    Unlike European “three strikes” policies which sever a user’s Internet connection after their third alleged copyright offense, U.S. providers will not permanently disconnect anyone. Instead, a series of “mitigation measures” will be implemented to repeatedly notify the user in the event of a copyright infringement allegation.

    After three notifications via email, Internet service providers (ISPs) may begin to throttle a user’s bandwidth, significantly slowing down their access speeds. ISPs may also block all the user’s traffic and redirect any attempt to access websites to a “landing page” that forces the subscriber to acknowledge potential “consequences” for sharing files online. Service to the broader Web would not be restored until the user responds.

    The ISPs promised that at no point would any subscriber’s access be completely cut off unless ordered by a court, and no “blacklists” of repeat offenders are to be maintained. [HA-HA…RIGHT!]


    • creolechild says:

      Anywho…this is a re-post which pertains to media ownership. The FCC allowed these rules to lapse, which in turn allowed *fraudsters* like Rupert Murdoch to buy up and consolidate various forms of media outlets, giving us the abomination known as Faux Noise.

      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.


      • creolechild says:

        Oops…sorry about that!

      • creolechild says:

        Now, we’ll examine the reasons why the FCC should rein in media conglomeration…

        Some nations can influence and control their media greatly. In addition, powerful corporations also have enormous influence on mainstream media.

        In some places major multinational corporations own media stations and outlets. Often, many media institutions survive on advertising fees, which can lead to the media outlet being influenced by various corporate interests. Other times, the ownership interests may affect what is and is not covered. Stories can end up being biased or omitted so as not to offend advertisers or owners. The ability for citizens to make informed decisions is crucial for a free and functioning democracy but now becomes threatened by such concentration in ownership.

        The idea of corporate media itself may not be a bad thing, for it can foster healthy competition and provide a check against governments. However, the concern is when there is a concentration of ownership due to the risk of increased economic and political influence that can itself be unaccountable.

      • creolechild says:


      • creolechild says:

        There are more clips on Youtube; at least that’s what some people say…

      • Ametia says:

        Oh, we’re quite clear on what FOX TV is all about.

      • creolechild says:

        Somewhere in the videos that are posted, can’t remember which one, t former employees states on camera that they believe they were watched and their conversations recorded. This documentary was filmed in 2003-2004, so I think Murdoch & Co. were probably involved in the same activities here as in London. Wouldn’t put it past him…

  21. creolechild says:

    The Rockefellers, ever since the days of old John D., have enjoyed the great outdoors. They also seem to have figured out how to make that great outdoors pay. Over the past decade, new Environmental Working Group data show, Manhattan mega millionaire and John D. great-grandson Mark Rockefeller has pocketed nearly $330,000 in federal subsidies for not farming an Idaho property billed as “one of the world’s premier fly-fishing retreats.” That’s much more than half the $500,000 in federal funding that food banks in North Idaho may shortly lose to federal budget cuts. Why aren’t taxpayer groups that claim to worry about waste, Idaho social worker leader Delmar Stone wondered last week, “investigating the obscene loopholes and taxpayer giveaways to the super-rich?”

    No one knows right now if James Palmer, the chief financial officer at defense contractor Northrop Grumman, is collecting any tax dollars for not farming fly-fishing retreats. But we do know, thanks to eagle-eyed researchers at, that Palmer is pocketing $750,000 in cash from Northrop Grumman to offset the cost of his upcoming personal move from Los Angeles to Northern Virginia. Northrop Grumman is shifting its entire corporate headquarters this summer to the burbs of Washington, DC, to get closer to the company’s biggest customer, the Pentagon. Courtesy of that Pentagon — and US taxpayers — Palmer last year took home $11.4 million, over double the median pay in 2010 for Fortune 500 CFOs. To help foot the bill for his moving expenses, Northrop Grumman is lopping 60 jobs off its 360-employee headquarters staff . . .

    Has Polo Ralph Lauren, the pretentiously casual clothing company, suddenly seen the light on CEO pay? That may seem the case — at first glance. The firm has slashed its perks outlay for CEO Ralph Lauren by a hefty $344,000. From now on, the company disclosed last month, chief exec Lauren will get no more than $200,000 a year in free personal travel on the firm’s private jet. But Lauren may not notice the cutback. The company has actually increased his overall pay, by over $2 million, to $29.7 million. Also in line for hefty fiscal 2011 paychecks: Ralph’s brother Jerome, the firm’s exec vp for menswear design, at $2.6 million and Ralph’s son David, the firm’s exec vp for global advertising, at $1.6 million. Why be so generous to Jerome and David? The Polo Ralph Lauren board probably wants to make sure the pair don’t jump at some rival’s better offer . . .


  22. Ametia says:

    July 10, 2011 10:39 PM\
    Texas woman gives birth to 16-lb., 1-oz. boy

    CBS News) Before Texas native Janet Johnson had a baby shower recently, she had been told by her doctors that her soon-to-arrive son would be big. So, she told her friends “to not get any newborn stuff,” reports CBS affiliate KYTX-TV.

    Little did she know how right she was. On Sunday, Janet gave birth to a 16-pound boy, named JaMichael Brown.

    “When they pulled the baby out, they could tell that he was huge,” Janet told KYTX. “And then they weighed him.”

    JaMichael may be the biggest baby ever born in a state known for going big, and the average size of a newborn is around 7 and a half pounds. Not only did JaMichael weigh in at 16 pounds and one ounce, but he was two feet long.

    Janet was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during her pregnancy, which may have contributed to JaMichael’s size, reports KYTX

    “It’s a beautiful baby, but for health reasons we’d rather not see a baby this large. They can have a little harder time maintaining their blood sugar,” said nurse Mary Beth Smith, who helped deliver the baby.


  23. creolechild says:

    Last week, Laura Adiele appeared on MSNBC to detail her humiliating experience with the TSA in Seattle on June 30, during which agents demanded to inspect her hair because it was “poofy”—even after she’d gone through a full body scanner. They allegedly laughed at her, as well, leading Adiele to compare their actions to times people have called her hair “Aunt Jemima” like, and other racist slurs. During the search, she says, an African American flight attendant approached her and said she’d had similar experiences, and that she felt Adiele should report it.


  24. creolechild says:

    Michelle, Michelle, Michelle…what are we going to do with you?!! (Other than making sure you’re not elected.)

    Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), a 2012 GOP presidential hopeful, has continually touted her time as a “federal tax attorney” to bolster her economic credentials. “I’m a former federal tax litigation attorney. My husband and I started a successful company. We’re business people. We’re job creators,” Bachmann has said.

    But as National Journal noted, Bachmann leaves out a key part of the story — her job was to sue taxpayers on behalf of the United States government:

    You’ll never guess what Michele Bachmann, the rabble-rousing, tax-reviling, government-bashing idol of America’s tea party movement, used to do for a living. Sue tax scofflaws for the Internal Revenue Service.

    As she flexes her credentials as a Republican presidential candidate in a field of former governors and corporate executives, Bachmann is more likely to describe herself as a “former federal tax litigation attorney’’—as she did in her first nationally televised debate—than as a three-term member of Congress. But she rarely, if ever, mentions the one and only employer of her legal services: the U.S. Department of Treasury.

    During an interview with the conservative publication Newsmax, Bachmann derided the IRS as “the most heartless organization that anyone knows of.” At other times, she has called the IRS a “new social welfare agency,” that will have “the right to confiscate our tax refunds.” But an Associated Press report during Bachmann’s 2006 Congressional campaign “cited Bachmann’s (now-defunct) web site,, where she said she was proud of her work for the Treasury Department.”

    Bachmann has also used the IRS as a whipping boy during her crusade against the Affordable Care Act, falsely claiming that the ACA would empower IRS agents to enforce the law. called this claim “flat-out wrong.”

    Bachmann is taking a rabidly anti-tax position during the campaign, saying that she favors the highly regressive Fair tax (even as she advocates for a tax plan that would raise taxes on low- and and middle-income households). And once upon a time, she helped the government agency that she now ceaselessly attacks collect the very taxes she now rails against.

    • Ametia says:

      Another reason this woman will never smell the fresh herbs and veggies in the White House garden, let alone the fine leather seat in teh Oval Office.

  25. creolechild says:

    For the first time in history, an openly lesbian member of the military will serve as a member of the West Point U.S. Military Academy’s Board of Visitors, which advises the President. Brenda “Sue” Fulton, 52, was recently appointed by President Barack Obama to the Board to assist with transitioning to compliance with the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) repeal.

    Fulton, who made history at West Point in 1980 as part of the first graduating class to include women, is the executive director and co-founder of Knights Out, an organization of LGBT West Point graduates and supporters, and a founding member of OutServe, a support group for involuntarily closeted military personnel. She did not come out until 1993 after rising to the rank of captain in the Army. She was honorably discharged after revealing her sexual orientation.

    DADT policy prevented openly gay citizens from attending West Point or from serving in any branch of the military. Fulton will help work West Point out of DADT restrictions, which were recently relaxed under the Obama Administration.

    In an interview following her appointment, Fulton asserted that the repeal of DADT should be “easy,” as ideas and attitudes about homosexuality in the military are evolving.

    West Point’s inclusion of minority candidates is evolving, also. Over a quarter of the current Class of 2015 cadets are minorities, including 132 African-Americans, the highest number in West Point’s history. It took a long time, though, to get to that number considering that the first African-American cadet at West Point, James Webster Smith, was admitted in 1870.

  26. creolechild says:

    This is the last person who should be advocating cuts to ANYTHING that has to do with education. This coming from a FORMER senator who had a gigantic “math fail” during a recent interview…Pffffftt What we definitely don’t need in this country is an increase in the number of…how should I say this…”uninformed” (read: stupid) people in this country.

    Presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) called for reductions in federal funding for higher education Wednesday, saying that support should be transferred to states instead. The Daily Iowan, the University of Iowa’s student newspaper, reports:

    Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said Wednesday that the federal government should reduce higher-education funding and leave that support to states.

    Speaking to Kirkwood Community College officials and eastern Iowa business leaders on the Kirkwood campus on the fourth day of a tour around the state, the GOP presidential nomination-hopeful said colleges ought to partner with local businesses to prep grads for the workforce.

    Santorum is apparently ignoring the reality facing many states, which have reduced funding for state colleges and universities in the face of growing budget deficits. In California, for example, legislators slashed millions of dollars from the University of California and California State systems, forcing those schools to raise tuition. As Washington Monthly noted today, public universities in 11 states saw their states reduce support by more than 5 percent this year.

    While Santorum wants federal benefit reductions, tuition is skyrocketing across the country, and the amount of student debt accrued during a four-year degree program continues to increase. At Penn State University, Santorum’s alma mater, the average graduate in the class of 2007 left the university with more than $26,000 in debt.

    Cutting federal support for public colleges and universities may sound like a good idea in Santorum’s small government world, but those cuts will inevitably get passed down to states — and, more importantly, to students — who are already falling behind an increasingly expensive higher education system.

    • Ametia says:

      How much longer will Americans be subjected to these vile and ignorant folks? Lemme guess; as long as ignorant folks keep voting for’em. Santorum doesn’t even take the time to read racist pledges evoking slavery and two family households as a good thing back in dem good olde days.

      MORE PROOF that white privilege got him and that witch Bachmann through college.

  27. creolechild says:

    Instead of high-fiving each other for their success in thwarting the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Israeli officials should be throwing overboard the propaganda hacks who catapulted the flotilla into headline news for weeks and left Israel smelling like rotten fish.

    Last year, when the Israeli military killed nine aboard the Turkish ship, the incident made waves around the world. But in previous years, the same international coalition had sent boats to Gaza five times, successfully reaching their destination with a symbolic shipment of humanitarian aid. No blood, no military interception, no story. That’s why the advice of many of Israel’s best buddies, including the lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), was to just ignore the flotilla.

    But no, the Israeli government refused to listen and instead announced with great bravado that it was prepared to stop the flotilla with lethal force – including snipers and attack dogs. Smelling blood, the media frenzy began. Before even leaving home, passengers were besieged with press calls inquiring why we were willing to risk our lives and giving us a chance to talk about the plight of the people of Gaza. Worse yet, from the Israeli government perspective, mainstream media began bombarding us with requests to come along. With space for only ten media on our boat, we ended up choosing reps from CNN, CBS, Al Jazeera, AP, The Nation and Democracy Now!. Other boats in the flotilla also started scrambling to accommodate more press. Thanks to Israel, we were guaranteed that no matter what happened, the whole world would be watching.

    The Israeli government’s next blunder was a doozy. It sent a letter to foreign journalists warning them that if they participated in the flotilla, they would be denied entry into Israel for ten years and their equipment would be impounded. The outcry from journalists and media organizations worldwide was immediate. Israel’s Foreign Press Association said the threat “sends a chilling message to the international media and raises serious questions about Israel’s commitment to freedom of the press.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to rescind the decision, blaming it on his underlings.


  28. creolechild says:

    When he’s not repeatedly—and incorrectly—blaming President Obama for making the economic recession “worse” and “last longer,” GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is trumpeting his own job-creating bona fides. He explains that the jobless rate in Massachusetts, where he served as governor from 2003 to 2007, declined by nearly one percent during his time in office, from 5.6 to 4.7 percent. “The governor before me lost jobs; the governor after me has lost jobs; we actually created jobs,” he said recently.

    But as the Los Angeles Times reports today, Romney’s job-creation record is not at all as he portrays it. In fact, when Romney ran Massachusetts, the Bay State’s job creation rate ranked dead last in the nation. And the percentage increase in jobs under Romney earned Massachusetts the ranking of 47th in the nation. Only Michigan, Ohio, and Louisiana were worse, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Even the dip in Massachusetts’ unemployment rate turns out to not reflect Romney’s deft economic leadership but rather an exodus of workers out of the state during his tenure—222,000 of them in a four-year period ending in July 2006, according to researchers at Northeastern University.

    Granted, Romney did inherit a troubled state economy from his predecessor, and he did manage to close a $2-billion budget deficit his first year in the governor’s mansion. So what happened with jobs? Massachusetts politicos blame Romney’s eye for national politics on his muddled jobs record, the Times notes:


  29. rikyrah says:

    Obama: Time To ‘Pull Off The Bandaid, Eat Our Peas’ In Debt Talks
    President Obama tried to use the bully pulpit to pressure Congressional leaders to wrest free of some of their ideological binds and come together to hammer out a long-term debt deal, warning both sides he would not accept a temporary 30- to 60-day stop-gap fix.

    “I have been hearing from our Republican friends that it’s a moral imperative for us to tackle our debates and deficits in a serious way,” Obama told reporters at a briefing Monday. “So what I’ve said to them is let’s go. It is possible for us to construct a package to involve both parties to take on their sacred cows.”

    [TPM SLIDESHOW: Battle Over The Budget At The White House]

    “We might as well do it now, pull off the band aid, eat our peas,” Obama said.

    With the clock ticking down for both sides to reach a deal on raising the debt-ceiling, Obama is urging Republicans to back away from their insistence on no new tax increases and Democrats from refusing to agree to seismic changes to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

    Obama urged Republicans and Democrats to return to the White House at 2 p.m. Monday afternoon more willing to compromise.

    “I think it would give the American people enormous confidence that this town can actually do something one in a while,” Obama said.

  30. rikyrah says:

    Wife: Fatal punch at Vegas casino was self-defense
    Associated Press

    LAS VEGAS (AP) – The wife of a Florida high school football coach being held on a murder charge said Friday her husband was defending himself when he threw a single punch that authorities say killed a Utah man in a Las Vegas Strip casino.

    Benjamin Hawkins, 37, pleaded not guilty Friday during a brief appearance before a Las Vegas judge. The judge scheduled a Tuesday bail hearing and set a July 21 date to hear evidence in the early Wednesday slaying of John Massie, 46, of Roy, Utah.

    “It just looked like he wouldn’t leave my husband alone,” Leticia Hawkins, 35, a banker from Gainesville, Fla., told The Associated Press outside the courtroom. “My husband was defending himself.”

    Defense attorney Jack Buchanan told AP he wanted to review security videotapes that police say clearly show the confrontation between Benjamin Hawkins and Massey after the two exited a men’s restroom at O’Sheas Las Vegas Casino, along with the single punch that felled Massie.

    Benjamin Hawkins told police that Massie made a comment about a “black man in a yellow shirt” in the restroom. He also said he told Massie to shut up before the two men squared off in a food court area of the hard-partying, Irish-themed casino that lures pedestrian traffic on a block including the Harrah’s, Flamingo and Caesars Palace resorts.

    Hawkins is black. Massie was white. Efforts to reach Massie family members in Utah were not immediately successful.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Murdoch’s hacking woes grow; 9/11 victims eyed?
    Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is under increasing pressure this week to repent in more glorious fashion for the misdeeds of his News of the World tabloid, even after sacrificing the century-and-a-half-old paper to try and sweep the mess away from his empire of newspapers and television networks.

    The phone-hacking scandal jumped across the Atlantic, meanwhile, with a report from rival tabloid the Mirror that journalists from the News of the World tried to pay a former New York City police officer for the personal information of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack.

    The Mirror quoted an unnamed source as saying the also-unnamed ex-cop, who currently works as a private investigator, was asked for phone numbers of victims who died in the World Trade Center.

    Murdoch UK TV takeover bid delayed amid scandal

    “His presumption was that they wanted the information so they could hack into the relevant voicemails, just like it has been shown they have done in the UK,” the Mirror quoted its source as saying.

    According to the report, which could not be corroborated, the PI turned down the alleged request from the British reporters, recognizing, “how insensitive such research would be, and how bad it would look.”

  32. rikyrah says:

    The News Of The World Scandal Could Cost Rupert Murdoch His FCC Licenses
    July 10, 2011
    By Jason Easley

    On ABC’s This Week it was discussed that The News Of The World scandal could force Rupert Murdoch and News Corp to fight to keep their FCC licenses in the US.

    Here is the round table discussion from ABC’s This Week:

    Steve Brill said, “There is an issue here in the United States…News Corp has a lot of FCC licenses there’s still a clause in the federal communications law that requires that you have to be of good character to have such a license, and I was reading last night just in the approval that they gave Comcast to take over NBC, there was actually some guy who challenged the character of Comcast because when they installed a cable system somewhere they had hurt his building, and didn’t pay for it and this became a big legal proceeding, action. So here I am reasonably certain that someone, maybe someone from the political left or whoever is going to make a big deal of whether they are fit to have their FCC licenses under the current management.”

    Michael Wolff added, “But it’s not a matter just of a broad generalized anti-Murdoch notion of fitness, let’s remember what we have here. Forget, this is on one hand not about journalism at all. What it is about is a set of crimes. I mean, they literally committed crime after crime after crime. So it is going to come back to who knew what and who knew it when.”

    There is a lot riding globally on the findings of the News Of The World investigation. If Murdoch’s son James who runs News Corp faces criminal charges related to growing scandal, it is almost certain that News Corp’s FCC licenses will be challenged

  33. rikyrah says:

    St. Paul businesses failing in wake of Minn. gov’t. shutdown
    By Gus Lubin

    Downtown St. Paul is suffering the Keynesian multiplier in reverse (via @obsoletedogma).

    Beyond the 22,000 public sector workers who are out of work during government shutdown, businesses that depend on government traffic have cut hours and laid off workers, according to the Star Tribune:

    Matt Kramer, president of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, estimates the shutdown has taken about 3,000 state workers away from downtown. Businesses can probably endure for a week or two, but anything longer is concerning, he said.

    “It’s really important to remember that we have a very fragile economic recovery,” Kramer said. “If you’re a small retail operation … people would be amazed how thin the margins are. If your business goes down 30 percent, you’re going to have to make some significant adjustments on the spot.”

    Mai Nguyen of Mai Village (pictured) reports around 75 lunch customers, down from 175 before the shutdown.

    Alinda Saurez of Pickerman’s Soup and Sandwiches says: “I don’t know even if we’re going to make it for rent next month.”

  34. rikyrah says:

    Rick Scott and Unemployment

    I’m not surprised at the support I read and hear for Gov. Rick Scott, but I am disheartened because it bodes ill for this state.

    I would like to relate a few experiences with people who support the sort of things that “Pink Slip Rick” Scott has done and is trying to do.

    Last year I graduated with my M.A. A little over a week after that, I mentioned that I had graduated and was looking for a job.

    The person said to me “McDonald’s and Burger King are hiring. If you aren’t willing to work for them, you are just not willing to work.” He was serious. He also knew that I have a disability that precludes that sort of work. That doesn’t matter to him.

    I had another tea party supporter rant at me when I was in school. He accused me of blowing money he paid in taxes, although I have student loans hanging over my head. As far as he was concerned, if you couldn’t pay out-of-pocket for your education, you didn’t belong there.

    Another person insisted that no matter how much pain you feel, you can still work. “You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it.” That person also pushed me to take manual-labor jobs in spite of my physical limitations and degree.

    These are the sort of things I hear when I go around Republicans and tea party people. You probably have heard much the same. Think about this when you vote.

    By the way, I still haven’t found a job, in spite of looking for more than a year. I lay that at the feet of Rick Scott, the Republicans and the tea party (and their backers).


  35. creolechild says:

    The United States is holding back some military aid to Pakistan, President Barack Obama’s chief of staff confirmed on Sunday, after a New York Times report said $800 million was being withheld.

    “They’ve taken some steps that have given us reason to pause on some of the aid which we’re giving to the military, and we’re trying to work through that,” William Daley told ABC’s “This Week With Christiane Amanpour.”

    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had warned last month that the United States could slow down US military aid to Pakistan unless it took unspecified steps to help the United States.

    The United States is holding back some military aid to Pakistan, President Barack Obama’s chief of staff confirmed on Sunday, after a New York Times report said $800 million was being withheld.

    “They’ve taken some steps that have given us reason to pause on some of the aid which we’re giving to the military, and we’re trying to work through that,” William Daley told ABC’s “This Week With Christiane Amanpour.”

    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had warned last month that the United States could slow down US military aid to Pakistan unless it took unspecified steps to help the United States.

    [Click on link to view video is CNN, broadcast Sunday, July 10, 2011.

  36. rikyrah says:

    Murdoch’s Company Improperly Targeted PM Gordon Brown, Could Face Criminal Prosecution In U.S.
    Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has become the latest known victim of extra-legal information gathering orchestrated by U.K. newspapers owned by NewsCorp Chairman Rupert Murdoch. The quickly developing scandal has moved far beyond the now-defunct News of the World, with the U.K’s Guardian reporting that journalists from across the News International newspaper group, owned by NewsCorp, “repeatedly targeted” the liberal Brown for more than 10 years while he served as Chancellor of the Exchequer and then Prime Minister.

    Con-men and private investigators working for the papers, including the Sunday Times — the most reputable publication of the group — appear to have illegally gleaned banking, phone, and other records about Brown, including medical data on his infant son, the Guardian reports:

    • Scotland Yard has discovered references to both Brown and his wife, Sarah, in paperwork seized from Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who specialised in phone hacking for the News of the World;

    • Abbey National bank found evidence suggesting that a “blagger” acting for the Sunday Times on six occasions posed as Brown and gained details from his account;

    • Brown’s London lawyers, Allen & Overy, were tricked into handing over details from his file by a conman working for the Sunday Times;

    • Details from his infant son’s medical records were obtained by the Sun, who published a story about the child’s serious illness.

    Brown joins other members of his Labour Party, members of the royal family, victims of terrorism, murder, and their family members in being targeted with shady or allegedly illegal practices by the newspapers. Journalist Carl Bernstein, whose investigation into the Watergate break in helped bring down President Nixon, has dubbed the rapidly expanding scandal “Murdoch’s Watergate.”

    Much of the scandal has focused on Rebekah Brooks, the CEO of News International, who was previously editor of the News of the World and the Sun. It was Brooks who contacted the Browns in 2006 to tell them that she had obtained — likely in violation of privacy rules– records showing that their four-month-old son Fraser was suffering from cystic fibrosis.

    But while victims have demanded that Rebekah Brooks resign, Murdoch has given her an “extraordinary show of support,” taking her to dinner yesterday and saying she is his “top priority.”

    But Murdoch may soon have bigger problems on his hands. Legal experts told the AP today that his company could face criminal prosecution in the U.S. for his U.K. papers’ alleged bribery of British police officers, which would be a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). According to the the Department of Justice, “The FCPA prohibits payments made in order to assist the firm in obtaining or retaining business.” Thus the papers’ use of bribery to obtain information which helped sell newspapers could fall under the act’s purview. And even though the bribery occurred entirely in Britian, NewsCorp is an American company, incorporated in Delaware, and held accountable for its foreign subsidiary’s actions. Even if the corporation wasn’t directly involved in bribery, it could be found in violation of the law for turning a “blind eye.”

    The legal experts told the AP they would be surprised if the Securities and Exchange Commission and the DoJ have not already opened investigations into the matter and said the decision to shutter News of the World was potentially an attempt to limit Murdoch and NewsCorp’s legal exposure.

    NewsCorp is also the parent company of the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, which have largely ignored the scandal.

    [updated] The Guardian reports that a “powerful group of News Corp’s shareholders” have accused Rupert Murdoch of “rampant nepotism” and treating his media empire like a “family candy jar.” The shareholder group, which includes banks and pension funds and is led by the Amalgamated Bank, added that was “inconceivable” that Murdoch was completely unaware of systematic phone hacking at the News of the World and other newspapers. [/updated]

  37. rikyrah says:

    GOP Congressman Ditches Social Security Privatization Bill
    A new attempt by House GOP members to partially privatize Social Security hit a snag as one of the bill’s supporters ditched the group over concerns the legislation had become politically toxic.

    Led by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), a handful of House Republicans have been pushing legislation that would create a voluntary, privatized version of the program. But a spokesman for seven-term Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) told the Omaha World-Herald this week that he no longer wanted to be a part of the effort.

    “Congressman Terry recognizes something must be done to address entitlement reform,” spokesman Charles Isom said in a statement. “While he feels this bill does not weaken Social Security, the suggestion by some that this bill is a step toward ‘privatization’ does not help move the conversation forward. As such he has taken his name off of the bill.”

    Despite its relatively small number of supporters, Democrats had highlighted the bill since its introduction last month and linked it to the House GOP’s efforts to cut and privatize Medicare.

    “When will House Republicans learn? After their vote to end Medicare was soundly rejected by the American people, they’ve shifted to Plan B: privatize Social Security,” DCCC chair Steve Israel said in a statement at the time. “Seniors who have paid into Social Security through a lifetime of hard work shouldn’t end up in a risky privatization scheme to gamble their retirement on Wall Street. The public has rejected this kind of Social Security privatization in the past and will again.”

    Unlike the Medicare proposal, which passed with the backing of nearly the entire caucus, the Social Security bill has only five co-sponsor with Terry out. House Republicans conspicuously left changes to Social Security out of their budget this year and the party has been wary of privatization since President Bush’s failed attempt to remake the program in 2005.

  38. creolechild says:

    It appears that a large wave of immigration to the U.S. which began in the 1990s has now come to an end. The share of the population represented by non-citizens dropped by 5 percent between 2005 and 2009 (the last year for which data are available).

    The fall-off in unauthorized immigration is even more pronounced. Last year, the Washington Post reported that while “an average of 850,000 people a year entered the United States without authorization” in the first half of the decade, “as the economy plunged into recession between 2007 and 2009, that number fell to 300,000.”


    Immigration from Mexico – which provided the largest number of immigrants to the U.S. during this latest wave – has all but dried up. Douglas S. Massey, co-director of the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton, told the New York Times that fewer Mexicans want to migrate northward today than at any time since at least the 1950s. “No one wants to hear it, but the flow has already stopped,” Massey told the Times, referring to illegal entries. “For the first time in 60 years, the net traffic has gone to zero and is probably a little bit negative.”

    A common misperception that helps fuel hostility toward immigrants is that there is a never-ending pool of people dying to come here and if we don’t hold the line we’ll be overrun. The reality is that we have always had a modest flow of new immigrants punctuated by large but finite spikes from one country or another. Individuals have all sorts of reasons for emigrating, but when large numbers migrate from a single country or region, it’s always been in response to some kind of shock in their country of origin, be it civil strife or pestilence or drought or war or economic collapse or natural disaster. That’s true whether we’re talking about the Irish fleeing the Great Potato Famine, Russian Jews fleeing the pogroms or Vietnamese boat people fleeing war in Southeast Asia. The Wikipedia entry for Swedish emigration to America explains why their numbers peaked just after the Civil War:


  39. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    July 11, 2011 12:40 PM

    ‘Fiscal conservatism’ in need of a reevaluation

    By Steve Benen
    Based on nothing but my own social interactions, I know a lot of folks who describe themselves as “fiscally conservative but socially liberal.” When pressed a little further, a picture comes together: they support gay rights and have no interest in banning abortion, but are generally uncomfortable with large deficits and the perceptions of excessive debt.

    With this in mind, Republicans love to describe themselves as “fiscal conservatives,” which satisfies their base and is intended to appeal to swing voters. What’s more, the media loves to play along.

    But if the phrase is going to have any meaning, it’s worth appreciating the fact that there’s nothing in contemporary Republican politics that’s fiscally conservative.

    In the Bush era, Republicans believed in passing tax cuts without paying for them, expanding government without paying for it, and going to war without paying for it. When asked, these “fiscally conservative” Republicans admit that they saw the entire eight years as a period in which it was “standard practice not to pay for things.”

    In the Obama era, as Adam Serwer explained this morning, Republicans are even further from the “fiscally conservative” label they (and too many reporters) claim the GOP deserves.

    The GOP of today isn’t so much committed to not running a deficit as it is to cutting the social safety net, which is why the debt ceiling talks are stalling over tax increases. It’s a miracle of messaging that Republicans have managed to persuade reporters to continue referring to them as “fiscal conservatives,” since the label implies a level of responsibility that the GOP simply hasn’t shown. Republicans refuse to raise taxes at all despite the fact that rates are at historically low levels. […]

    Now, I’m not one to find the label “fiscal conservative” particularly impressive since I think there are times the government needs to run a deficit. But to the extent there’s someone operating with a “fiscal conservative” viewpoint in these negotiations, it’s the president. That’s much to the chagrin of liberals, who argue correctly that the last thing the country’s anemic recovery needs is more cuts to government spending. But if we are going to continue to use terms like “fiscal conservative,” we should be clearer about what they actually mean.

    Quite right. For good or ill, President Obama is taking fiscal conservatism very seriously right now. After the short-term Recovery Act, the White House has insisted every new initiative be fully paid for, and as of last week, it’s the president and his team who’ve even offered Republicans a massive debt-reduction plan.

    Which, of course, the GOP has no interest in pursuing.

    The sooner reporters stop pretending Republicans are the “fiscally conservative” ones, the better.

  40. rikyrah says:

    Rupert Murdoch Still Hasn’t Apologized to Murdered Girl’s Family

    Jeff Neumann —A lawyer representing the family of Milly Dowler — the murdered 13-year-old girl whose phone was hacked by Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World — told CNN that the girl’s family haven’t received so much as a “sorry” from the big man. The lawyer, Mark Lewis, said the Dowler family was upset by the “self-congratulatory” final issue of the paper. He added, “The front cover would have been so much better if it said ‘sorry.'” So demanding! Rupe’s putting all this mess behind him, and he already did the honorable thing by folding the paper. The scandal’s over, people.

  41. creolechild says:

    One American’s tax subsidy (or loophole) is another American’s tax burden. Take the money out of the middle-class taxpayers’ pockets and put it into the super wealthy hands of the oil companies or hedge fund managers, for example.

    In essence, people of limited means who work by the hour are paying higher taxes in order to make wealthy people wealthier. Why? Because someone has to pay taxes for the services provided by the government.


    So, you and I are taxed at a higher rate than hedge fund managers for their personal gain on behalf of customers. Middle-income earners are subsidizing billionaires.

    Of course, taxpayers also subsidize oil companies that have been making record profits, including ExxonMobil, which recorded the highest corporate quarterly profit in history awhile back. As the Center for American Progress reports, the middle class is paying indirect taxes to the oil companies: “In effect, U.S. taxpayers wrote a collective $7 billion bonus check to the oil industry when they filed their taxes last month [for 2010].”

    Mainstream media euphemistically calls these taxpayer-subsidized profits by hedge fund managers and oil companies “loopholes.” That’s like a pickpocket saying that he didn’t steal a wallet, it just jumped into his hand.

  42. rikyrah says:

    Boehner Abandons Grand Bargain, Can’t Sway Caucus on Taxes

    Does anything matter to Republicans more than protecting tax cuts for the very wealthy? Developments of the last 18 hours suggest very strongly that the answer is no.

    As you have probably heard by now, House Speaker John Boehner on Saturday evening informed President Obama that he was no longer interested in pursuing a “grand bargain” on deficit reduction. It was a major turning point in the debate. For the past week, Obama has made clear that he hoped to use ongoing negotiations over the debt ceiling to put in place a massive, potentially historic deal to reorder the nation’s spending priorities – a deal that would reduce deficits by as much as $4 trillion cumulatively over the next decade.

    Boehner indicated that he shared that goal. And the deal, if completed, was likely to reflect Republican priorities far more than Democratic ones. Although Obama has insisted he wants a “balanced” approach to reducing the deficit, the deal was likely to involve far more in spending reductions than in new revenue.

    To achieve this deal, Democrats had indicated a significant and serious willingness to sacrifice their own goals and their own constituencies. Reductions in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security were all on the table – not to mention reductions in discretionary spending that would have seriously weakened, if not crippled, government programs on which poor people, in particular, depend. President Obama had made it clear he was willing to accept such cuts, if it meant putting together a far-reaching package. More liberal Democrats were more skeptical, but rhetoric from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, among others, made it clear they were willing to entertain most of these ideas, depending on their structure and what Republicans were offering in return.

    But that last part proved to be the problem. Such a large deal would have required Republicans to agree to new revenue, in some form. And at least some of that money would have come from higher taxes (in terms of total collections, if not rates) on the very wealthy. Boehner hinted that might be acceptable, as part of a compromise. New York Times columnist David Brooks urged Republicans to go along, calling the still-lopsided proposal “the deal of the century.”

    But other Republican leaders, like Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and certain conservative agitators, like the writers of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, made very clear they disagreed. No matter how big the Democratic concessions, no matter how risky the prospect of postponing a deal on the debt ceiling, they were not willing to embrace a package that meant higher taxes, particularly taxes on the wealthy. And according to reports in this morning’s papers, those voices finally prevailed.

  43. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 09:29 AM ET, 07/11/2011
    The humbling of John Boehner
    By Ezra Klein

    The more I hear about the breakdown of the debt deal, the more this seems to have been a straightforward humbling of John Boehner. Here’s how a Democratic aide described the talks to Politico’s Mike Allen:

    A number of folks in the room were struck by the fact that Cantor did virtually all of the talking for House Republicans, while Boehner basically just sat there.
    Think that’s just Democratic spin? Here’s how a top Republican lawmaker described it to John Bresnahan, Jonathan Allen and Jake Sherman:

    “It’s crazy to think the speaker was considering a trillion [dollars] in tax increases. After all, we’re the anti-tax party,” said one veteran Republican lawmaker close to leadership. “Cantor brought him, the economy and our party back from the abyss. Cantor is strengthened, clearly. And it’s another example of the speaker almost slipping beyond the will of the GOP conference.”

  44. rikyrah says:

    July 11, 2011 1:20 PM

    The incredible shrinking Speaker, cont’d

    As recently as Friday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was on the same page as President Obama, at least far as debt-reduction targets go. Both wanted a plan with $4 trillion in savings; both eyed a “grand bargain” that would include new revenue; and both believed they could convince enough members of their respective parties to get on board once the deal was done.

    By at least one account, the Speaker was “enthusiastically” endorsing the notion of a grand bargain and told his Republican colleagues that this is why he wanted to be Speaker in the first place.

    Boehner, humiliated, reversed course on Saturday night, after learning that his own caucus refused to follow his lead. How bad is it? This bad.

    “It’s crazy to think the speaker was considering a trillion [dollars] in tax increases. After all, we’re the anti-tax party,” said one veteran Republican lawmaker close to leadership. “Cantor brought him, the economy and our party back from the abyss. Cantor is strengthened, clearly. And it’s another example of the speaker almost slipping beyond the will of the GOP conference.”

    Note, that’s not a quote from a Democrat trying to drive a wedge between the House Speaker and his caucus; that’s a quote from a long-time Republican member of Congress who’s “close” to the GOP leadership.

    By another account, when the 10 participants in the talks reconvened yesterday at the White House, Boehner “basically just sat there,” and let House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) do all the talking.

    That’s probably as it should be. It’s Cantor, after all, who’s less willing to strike deals and more ideologically in line with the right-wing House caucus.

    It almost certainly didn’t help that President Obama praised Boehner for his good-faith efforts at a press conference this morning — praise that will be perceived as weakness and appeasement by House Republicans.

    The next question, though, is what the consequences will be for the Speaker’s weakness. It’s hard to imagine the GOP forcing him out, but it’s equally hard to imagine the party putting up with his recent willingness to find common ground and compromise.

    Either way, Boehner’s influence appears to be evaporating quickly. Under the circumstances, I’m not even sure why he should be negotiating on behalf of his caucus.

    As we talked about over the weekend, the Speaker of the House is arguably one of the most powerful offices in the government, at least in theory. It’s supposed to be within Boehner’s power to simply tell his caucus what they have a responsibility to do, and demand their fealty.

    But a leader with no followers is, by definition, weak. Boehner may be the Speaker, but as he’s quickly realizing, he’s taking the orders, not giving them.

    In the asylum known as the House of Representatives, is there any doubt as to the inmates’ power?

  45. rikyrah says:

    The Poor Work Without A Net
    by Patrick Appel

    A construction worker was recently arrested for trying to cash a check the bank mistakenly thought was a forgery. The man ended up sending a few days in jail, which lead to him losing his car and job. The lesson Chait draws:

    [M]iddle-class people enjoy all sorts of protections against misfortune. For poor people, a single thing going wrong can lead to a life-altering spiral — they lack the social and financial resources to overcome one problem, so a flat tire become a late day at work which becomes a lost job, an overcharge fee busts a checking account, which in turn becomes a ruined credit rating.

  46. rikyrah says:

    Moderates Are Bold (and Radicals Are Timid)
    by Jonathan Rauch

    The papers are full of tick-tocks on the collapse of the Boehner-Obama grand budget bargain. Here’s the Post…and the Times. What has happened here is sad but not surprising.

    Boehner wanted to do something big, a $4 trillion dollar deal which would include both tax increases (presented as tax reforms) and reductions in entitlements (Social Security and Medicare). But his caucus wouldn’t support it. They will not vote for anything which includes higher taxes, on the simple, if absurd, principle that any given level of taxation is already too high. This is completely consistent with what Tea Party activists have told me again and again: there is no reduction in spending, however large or significant, which is worth any increase in taxes.

    A grand bargain would serve the country well. The alternative, a series of stop-and-go incremental deficit reduction packages, each accompanied by bloody political combat, is not as good. And note, please, that failure to do the deal carries a price, which is to re-electrify the third rail of entitlement cuts.

    Back in the mid-1980s, some Republican Senators, led by Bob Dole, tried to strike a grand bargain in which Social Security would get chopped. Instead of grabbing the opportunity, President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill, a liberal Democrat, put a knife in Dole’s back by agreeing to a smaller deal in which Social Security was off limits and the deficit can was kicked down the road. That brought a sigh of relief to incumbents in both parties, but Social Security has remained off limits ever since.

    Fast forward to right now. Democrats want tax increases, Republicans want Medicare cuts. The two sides can trade hostages, neutralizing their best attack ads in exchange for a big whack at the deficit. Or they can shoot their hostages, hammer each other in 2012 for raising taxes and killing grandma, and risk spiralling debt. They’re doing the latter. The risk is that the 2012 campaign will put Medicare off limits for years. Call your office, Sen. Dole.

    I think blame rests primarily with the Republican side, because I think that a critical mass of congressional Democrats would have squawked and squirmed but would, in the end, have voted for a grand bargain—whereas Tea Partyized Republicans just would not. But let’s not kid ourselves: what we’re seeing here is a result of the systematic underrepresentation of moderates in both parties, because moderates are the constituency for a hostage trade: they would rather solve the problem than stay pure and score political points. If you want bold solutions, vote for the least radical candidate in your party’s congressional primary next year

  47. rikyrah says:

    Why The GOP Should Take The Deal
    by Patrick Appel

    Ezra Klein explains why the debt ceiling talks stalled. He suspects “Republicans might come to regret rejecting Boehner’s deal”:

    Few noticed that his framework for new revenues was comprehensive tax reform — which would preempt the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. In other words, he was finishing the tax debate during the debt-ceiling debate, when Republicans have most of the leverage, rather than letting it drift linger into 2012, when the Bush tax cuts are set to expire and Democrats will have most of the leverage. If Republicans could’ve agreed with Democrats this year, taxes would have gone up by $1 trillion. If they can’t agree with Democrats next year, they’ll go up by $4 trillion. And Republicans had a better hand this year than they will next year. I expect they’ll come to wish they’d played it.

  48. rikyrah says:

    The President’s Reasonable Position
    by BooMan
    Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 12:37:07 PM EST

    I watched the President’s press conference. He seems a little tired, but his performance was nonetheless masterful from a purely political perspective. He’s definitely positioned himself perfectly to rebuff all contradiction. Sure, progressives might be asking why he’s even talking about deficit reduction when unemployment is over nine percent. They don’t understand why Social Security has to take any hit whatsover, and they’re not eager to make any cuts to Medicare or Medicaid. But Republicans have been left with no argument. The president is saying, “Okay, you think that we’ll improve the economy and create jobs by getting our fiscal situation under control? I’m willing to try your solution. Let’s go.” And the Republicans don’t want to attempt the one solution they’ve been offering because it will require very rich people to make some sacrifices.
    To get an idea of how dysfunctional the Republican Party has become, the president is offering a deal that almost every single progressive in the country hopes the Republicans will reject. And, yet, the Republicans are rejecting the deal. This is a sweet deal for Republicans. It contains a lot more cuts than new revenues. That alone should make it attractive to conservatives. But it also comes with a promise to do tax reform, which should result in significant savings for most Republican voters. It comes with cuts to entitlements, which is something Democrats really hate doing, especially now because it mutes their criticism of the Ryan Plan. It’s an approach that, on the whole, represents the conservative alternative to Keynesian economics, thus validating their ideology.

    Despite all of this, the Republicans seem incapable of saying ‘yes.’

    I’m not happy with the Republicans, but I’m also not thrilled with the president. His politics are pitch-perfect. I’ll give him that. And I guess that’s probably the most I can hope for right now. But Social Security should not be part of this deal just because he wants to throw all hard votes together and get them done all at once.

    I understand what he’s saying. He’s arguing that he wants to take all the Republican talking points and deal with them. Cut the deficit. Control spending. Tackle entitlements. And then once all that is addressed we can move on to talking sensibly about politics and make sane investments.

    It would be interesting to see what the Republicans would complain about if this grand deal went through, but it’s delusional to think they’d stop bitching about taxes, entitlements, and deficits. Other than God, guns, gays, and embryos, those are the only things they know how to talk about.

    In any case, if Boehner can’t deliver the votes, we’re still screwed. I hope he values the health of the country more than his leadership position, but I doubt it.

  49. The 2 faced (DINO)Democrats in name only need to GO. We need to VOTE their asses out and elect Dems who are going to support this President’s agenda. Enough of these straddling the fence mofos!

    • Agreed but this is so hard to do in red states like AZ where the Repugnants have a death grip on us. I worked my butt off here for some good Dems in 2010 and they all lost, including one who was a conservative Dem.

      This is a hard uphill struggle. I won’t quit but it is hard.

  50. rikyrah says:

    July 11, 2011
    Slash Medicare, Shield Millionaires
    Sniveled a Mitch McConnell spokesman:

    [I]t’s baffling that the president and his party continue to insist on massive tax hikes in the middle of a jobs crisis while refusing to take significant action on spending reductions at a time of record deficits.

    I ran this through the Snivelo-Reconciler 2000 and out popped: It’s baffling only to the enormously befuddled that the president and his party continue to insist on massive tax hikes, which are neither massive nor even hikes, in the middle of a jobs crisis that we created while refusing to take significant action on spending reductions, assuming we ignore those couple of trillions here and there, at a time of record deficits, which we created just as cretinously as we did the jobs crisis.

    After reading that this morning I next encountered Ross Douthat, who less snivels than smirks:

    Obama’s political team wants to use the leverage provided by those cra-a-a-zy Tea Partiers to make Democrats live with bigger spending cuts than they normally would support. Why? Because the more conservative-seeming the final deal, the better for the president’s re-election effort.

    Douthat’s declaration squares broadly with conventional political theory — it is generally advisable to run center to center-right in a national election — yet the details of the current predicament defy the conventional. “T]he more conservative-seeming the final deal, the better for the president’s re-election effort” — ?

    Taking Douthat at his word, the above passage would mean that Obama should for instance caress the Ryan plan, which would go one comparative better and represent the most conservative-seeming of a final deal. According to the Douthat theory Obama should, as well, eschew even whispers of eliminating certain tax spending or the eventual repeal of Bush’s upper-end tax cuts.

    The lethal weakness of Douthat’s conventionality is that it slams into the superior conventional theory of running in alignment with contemporary public opinion — which happens to overwhelmingly detest the conservative-seeming Medicare “fix,” while overwhelmingly supporting the repeal of Bush’s upper-end tax cuts. What’s more, poll after poll shows minuscule concern with deficits, in relation to job creation.

    For now, the status quo of negotiations-deadlock is the best political (not to mention policy) deal for Democrats and the nation. As Douthat’s paper reports:

    Democrats say that because of Mr. Boehner’s retreat, they will now be able to portray Republicans as refusing major Democratic concessions on spending in order to protect tax breaks for big businesses and rich Americans.

    Should Democrats hold firm, the looming advent of a debt crisis could force a clean vote on the ceiling; a debt crisis itself would force one. Without ever having to disclose any specific “concessions on spending” — since no specifics were ever nailed down — Democrats would be free to campaign on Republicans’ catastrophic brinkmanship and a slogan of, “The Republican Plan: Slash Medicare, Shield Millionaires.”

  51. rikyrah says:

    July 11, 2011
    From here on out: ‘horsehead negotiating’
    The Post’s Fred Hiatt observes “three potential strategies” for Obama:

    One is to join Nancy Pelosi and go for broke on “Mediscare”: Accuse the Republicans of getting ready to wheel every granny out of every nursing home and otherwise threaten civilization as we know it.

    A second would be to end up with Mediscare but first appear open to compromise, to appeal to independents, while assuming there can be no grand bargain with Republicans.

    The third is to go for something real: a long-term debt reduction plan that would increase revenue, begin to control entitlements without threatening granny and reassure financial markets that the American political system can get its act together when push comes to shove.

    Obama, at first, previewed the first, but fleetingly. The second, many of us presume, is his working strategy, principally because the inescapable reality of Hiatt’s concluding phrase in the second strategy precludes the third: “there can be no grand bargain with Republicans.”

    To Beltway journalists, a “grand bargain” allures by mere virtue of its grandness. The terminology is lofty, its aspiration noble, the general idea appeals to one’s higher appreciation of accommodating universalities. Oh, if only we could have Grand Bargains today as we did in the glossier days of yore: you know, like the Grand Bargains of 1820 or 1850 — utter calamities in the long haul.

    I shall continue to protest that any grand bargain with the contemporary GOP would hatch with a deadly ulceration: they are corrupt brokers, they’ve no honor, and they’re hellbent on total war. Permitting them any lebensraum now with a rescue oxygen tank will only guarantee that they’ll return stronger and even more destructively determined.

    In this debt crisis the political gods have graced Obama with the opportunity for a final showdown. He’s already brilliantly displayed his willingness to compromise; hence independents should be happy. Now he should go for the kill, the horse’s head in the bed — the president should not ask twice for a favor.

  52. Ametia says:

  53. Ametia says:

    Chery Contee of JJP gets a shout out in the NYT

    July 8, 2011, 7:49 pm
    Just Sign Here


    But enough pornography: many found much else to fume about in the content of the pledge. Of particular note was this passage, featured at the very top of the document: “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.”

    This did not escape the attention or wrath of Cheryl Contee, a k a Jill Tubman, at Jack and Jill Politics, who wrote: “Given that families were broken up regularly for sales during slavery and that rape by masters was pretty common, this could not be more offensive. I mean, putting aside the statistics on this, which are likely off-base, I could not be more angry. When will Republicans inquire with actual Black people whether or not we’re O.K. with invoking slavery to score cheap political points? It has to stop. It is the opposite of persuasive and is another reason Republicans repel us. It’s hard to believe that Michele Bachmann would be foolish enough to sign this pledge.”

    • I saw that! Jill made a kick ass thread! And it’s still rolling. Black folks are livid about Bachmann having the audacity to reduce slavery to a fking cheap ass talking point!

      Folks heads exploded!

  54. Ametia,

    I’m loving Phyllis Hyman today! Good choice! Thank you!

    • Ametia says:

      Thank you, SG2. She’s one of my favorites. I saw Phyllis decades ago in concert with Al Jaraue. She’s one of a kind.

    • creolechild says:

      Good afternoon, y’all! I agree with SG2. Clicking on this site and seeing Phyllis’ face made my heart smile.

      Of course, the daily music selections are excellent too. I can’t recall whether I’ve said that before (I hope I did~) Both of you have great taste which is exhibited in the music that you spotlight–which never fails to trigger fond memories from back in the day!

  55. Ametia says:

    Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has accused journalists from across Rupert Murdoch’s News International media group of trying to illegally obtain private medical information about his family, details of his bank accounts and his phone messages, a source close to Brown told CNN.
    Monday’s allegation broadens a scandal that brought down Murdoch’s News of the World newspaper.
    Journalists from The Sun, Murdoch’s daily British tabloid, obtained details about Brown’s seriously ill son and published a story about him, while people working for the upmarket Murdoch Sunday Times tricked Brown’s accountants into handing over financial details, the former prime minister alleges.
    News International did not immediately respond to the allegations.

  56. Truth Wins Out Infiltrates Marcus Bachmann’s “Ex-Gay” Clinic

    “I Received ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy at Marcus Bachmann’s Clinic”
    Truth Wins Out (TWO) Exclusive Investigative Report by John M. Becker
    The date was Thursday, June 30, 2011. I turned on the television and listened half-heartedly to the commercials as I busied about doing other things. All of a sudden I heard a voice saying, “Over the past few days, NBC News has learned how Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and her family have benefited from the very government programs she denounces.”

    At the mention of Bachmann’s name I stopped what I was doing and looked up. The speaker was the Rev. Al Sharpton, who was guest hosting The Ed Show. Rev. Sharpton continued talking about the counseling clinic run by Bachmann’s husband: “As the Minnesota Independent reports, the clinic has been previously accused of engaging in reparative therapy, or treatment aimed at changing one’s sexual orientation. Dr. Marcus Bachmann denies this…”

    I chuckled when Rev. Sharpton said this. He won’t be able to deny it for much longer, I thought. After all, I was watching this broadcast from a basement in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, having spent the previous eight days undercover in the Twin Cities receiving reparative therapy sessions at Marcus Bachmann’s clinic.

    The organization I work for, Truth Wins Out (TWO), fights anti-LGBT religious extremism and the “ex-gay” myth. We’d been receiving questions about the Bachmann clinic and reparative therapy for months, and they only grew more intense after the June 13 GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire. Like everyone else, we were aware of the rumors and that no one had yet been able to independently verify them. TWO Executive Director Wayne Besen decided that we were going to obtain that verification: I was to go undercover to Bachmann & Associates in Lake Elmo, MN posing as someone seeking counseling for homosexuality, schedule as many appointments as I could, and document what went on during my appointments with hidden cameras.

    When I called Bachmann & Associates to schedule my initial appointment, I told the receptionist who answered the phone that I was struggling with homosexuality. She referred me to Timothy Wiertzema, a counselor at the clinic, and scheduled me for a June 23 appointment.

    I decided that the wisest course of action was to make my story fit as closely as possible to my own experience. Of course I’d have to embellish a bit and make a few things up, but it stood to reason that the closer the story I told was to the truth, the easier it would be for me to keep track of what I had said. After all, I was once a deeply-closeted teenage Catholic boy awakening to my own sexual orientation, terrified of what it might mean, too ashamed to tell anyone, and desperate to change it by any means necessary; although those memories are now far behind me, it was surprisingly easy to bring them back and put myself in a similar mental and emotional place. Still, I’d never done anything like this before. As the date of my departure grew nearer, my excitement and nervousness mounted. Could I pull it off? Would the cameras be well-hidden enough? Would they figure out what I was up to? What would we find? I packed my bags, made my social network profiles unsearchable, bid adieu to Michael, my husband of more than five years, and boarded a flight to Minneapolis to find out.

    Preparing for my first visit was a surreal experience. I couldn’t pay by check since my checks had my name, my husband’s name, and a Vermont address. This meant I would be paying with cash and opening my wallet before each appointment, so I realized I’d have to go through my wallet and remove or hide anything that would invite suspicion. My Human Rights Campaign credit card had to go, lest anyone recognize that organization’s ubiquitous logo. I left our ACLU membership card behind as well. I also hid my out-of-state debit card and library card, and took the photo of Michael and me out of my wallet along with the copy of our marriage certificate that I always keep close. Despite the hot and humid Minnesota weather, I wore long pants to conceal a tattoo on my ankle of a pink triangle, the badge of gay prisoners in Nazi concentration camps and a symbol of the struggle for LGBT equality. At the last minute, in the parking lot, I remembered that Michael’s picture was set as the background image on my phone, so I hurriedly changed it. Finally, I took a deep breath and slipped off my wedding ring, placing it in a plastic bag inside my satchel, right next to one of the hidden cameras. My identity as a proud, openly gay, happily married LGBT rights activist was totally erased. I was ready.


    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.

  57. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    July 11, 2011 9:25 AM

    Anti-stimulative policies to intensify

    By Steve Benen

    Towards the end of the year, a whole lot of Americans are going to start losing their buying power, which necessarily means less economic activity and a weaker overall economy.

    An extraordinary amount of personal income is coming directly from the government.

    Close to $2 of every $10 that went into Americans’ wallets last year were payments like jobless benefits, food stamps, Social Security and disability, according to an analysis by Moody’s Analytics. In states hit hard by the downturn, like Arizona, Florida, Michigan and Ohio, residents derived even more of their income from the government.

    By the end of this year, however, many of those dollars are going to disappear, with the expiration of extended benefits intended to help people cope with the lingering effects of the recession. Moody’s Analytics estimates $37 billion will be drained from the nation’s pocketbooks this year.

    So, to review, the economy is already weak. Since the rules of supply and demand still exist, economic conditions improve when more people have more money to spend. Later this year, millions of Americans will have less money to spend, hurting economic demand when we need more demand, taking money out of the economy when we need to put more money into the economy.

    “If we don’t get more job growth and gains in wages and salaries, then consumers just aren’t going to have the firepower to spend, and the economy is going to weaken,” said Mark Zandi, Moody’s Analytics chief economist.

    This problem, of course, is easily preventable. Congress can extend these payments — jobless aid, food stamps, etc. — that would benefit the individuals and their families, while also helping the larger economy. But Congress can’t do this, because Republicans don’t want to.

    This comes up quite a bit doesn’t it? It would help the economy if Congress extended these benefits, but Republicans refuse.

    It would help the economy if Congress invested in infrastructure, but Republicans are against this, too.

    It would help the economy if Congress sent aid to states to prevent public-sector layoffs, but Republicans are against this, too.

    It would probably help the economy if there were another payroll tax cut, but Republicans are against this, too.

    It would help the economy if the Federal Reserve pumped more money into the economy, but Republicans are against this, too.

    It would have helped the economy if Congress extended the TANF Emergency Fund last year, but Republicans killed it.

    One might start to wonder if maybe helping the economy isn’t really the GOP’s top goal.

    Every day, the right cries, “We have to move away from efforts to stimulate the economy, and begin to embrace austerity measures.”

    If only conservatives realized they’re already getting their way.

  58. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    July 11, 2011 8:00 AM

    Inching closer to an easily-avoidable crisis

    By Steve Benen
    When President Obama hosted congressional leaders last Thursday for debt-reduction talks, he told participants they would reconvene mid-day Sunday. Obama encouraged the participants to dress casually because they were “going to be there a while.”

    The thinking, four days, was that the negotiations would be advancing towards a resolution, and the leaders could start ironing out details during Sunday’s session. What’s actually transpired is the exact opposite.

    The night before Sunday’s meeting, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was forced to concede that his own party refused to go along with his ambitious, and fairly comprehensive, $4 trillion goal. By the time participants convened yesterday, they talked for 75 minutes, made no meaningful progress at all, and left.

    There’s ample evidence that, with the crisis point quickly approaching, congressional Republicans are actually getting worse.

    A Republican official familiar with the negotiations said Mr. Boehner “would only discuss new revenues if they came from economic growth and tax reform instead of tax increases.” And he insisted on a “trigger” that would set off deep spending cuts and other measures if the tax changes were not implemented before the end of 2011.

    Mr. Boehner and the White House, Democratic officials said, also disagreed over the scope of cuts to entitlement programs, with the speaker demanding deeper cuts in Medicare and Medicaid than the administration was willing to accept.

    The Republicans’ line has been that they’re not only choosing to set the goal (trillions in savings), they’re also demanding 100% of what they want to reach that goal (spending cuts with no new revenue). What about the possibility of leaving tax rates intact and generating new revenue through scrapping tax expenditures? The GOP line, as of yesterday, is that this is unacceptable, too.

    Republicans, led by Mr. Cantor, rejected proposals to close loopholes or other tax breaks for owners of corporate jets, oil and gas companies and hedge funds. They said these measures, which would have raised about $130 billion, amounted to tax increases. The administration has also proposed limiting deductions for high wage-earners, which the White House says would raise $290 billion. But there is little support for that in Congress. And if there are no tax measures in the deal, the leaders say, they will not be able to corral enough Democratic votes to pass it.

    In case it’s not obvious, let’s note two broader truths. The first is that Republicans don’t really give a damn about debt reduction. They care about taxes and shielding the wealthy from having to pay a little more. The parties, then, are talking past one another — Dems think they’re involved in a good-faith effort to reduce the budget shortfall with a sensible, balanced approach to bring the budget closer to balance. Republicans think they’re involved in an effort to cut spending — not because of the deficit, but because it’s what they like to do anyway — and protect tax giveaways.

    It’s hard enough to reach an agreement when the parties pursue the same goal. In this process, Democrats and Republicans aren’t even having the same conversation.

    The second is that Republicans, as is their new nature, simply can’t bring themselves to even consider compromise. Americans elected a Democratic president, a Democratic Senate, and a Republican House. Given these circumstances, GOP leaders are absolutely convinced that the only fair resolution is that Republicans get everything they want, and Dems simply go along. And if Dems balk, Republicans will crash the economy on purpose.

    It’s nothing short of insane.

    Talks will resume today, and are scheduled to continue, literally every day, until there’s an agreement.

  59. rikyrah says:

    July 11, 2011 8:40 AM

    ‘Nobody is talking about not raising the debt ceiling’

    By Steve Benen

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” talking to guest host Bret Baier about the debt-reduction talks. The Republican senator made a couple of comments that stood out.

    BAIER: I mean, for people out there — I mean, do you believe [the economy is] in serious jeopardy if the debt ceiling is not raise August 2nd?

    MCCONNELL: Nobody is talking about not raising the debt ceiling. I haven’t heard that discuss by anybody.

    BAIER: Some are.

    MCCONNELL: Not in the Congress. Yes, nobody is talking about doing that. We’re talking about trying —

    BAIER: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has said, “Don’t them fool you that the economy is going to collapse.”

    MCCONNELL: We’re talking about using this request that the president made of us to raise the debt ceiling as an opportunity to do something really significant for the country about spending and about debt. And that, of course, would also be good for the economy.

    Several times in the interview, McConnell said the Obama administration “requested” that Congress raise the debt ceiling, which is almost amusing. For the Republican senator, it’s as if Congress is being asked to do the White House a favor, and lawmakers have to decide whether to lend the president a hand. In reality, of course, that’s absurd — this is a routine step the federal government simply has to take. Whether the Treasury Department filed a pro-forma request is irrelevant, and trying to blame the administration for wanting to pay our bills is ridiculous.

    Probably more important, though, is McConnell’s assertion that “nobody is talking about not raising the debt ceiling.” The GOP leader said no one in Congress is pushing such a line, only to be reminded that members of his own party have done just that, forcing McConnell to change the subject.

    But “nobody is talking about not raising the debt ceiling” certainly sounds as if McConnell believes his party isn’t inclined to metaphorically shoot the hostage. Indeed, the GOP leader seemed to be suggesting that default isn’t a viable scenario.

    The problem, of course, is that it’s rather difficult to know whether McConnell is telling the truth. If he is, then the doomsday scenario isn’t really on the table, Republicans don’t really intend to crash the economy on purpose if they fail to get their way, and GOP leverage in these talks isn’t quite as obvious as it appears. (Leverage comes from the belief that Republicans really are just crazy enough to deliberately destroy the global economy.)

    If McConnell isn’t telling the truth, and he has no qualms about appearing on Fox News and lying shamelessly, then nothing has changed and the proverbial hostage remains very much in jeopardy.

    Which is it? I haven’t the foggiest idea. If McConnell inadvertently slipped yesterday and accidentally told the truth, then when push comes to shove, Republicans won’t really hurt us all on purpose. If McConnell was fibbing, and he considers failure an option, we have a great deal to worry about.

  60. rikyrah says:

    July 09, 2011
    The entertaining Rick Perry
    I enjoyed this item, from April 28, 2009, from the Dallas Morning News:

    [Gov. Rick] Perry said Monday that he’s never been for big government or excessive spending, something that he says has marked the start of Obama’s presidency … “They pour your tax dollars into every problem imaginable,” Perry said …


    Last year, when the economy was headed toward disaster, Perry, as head of the Republican Governors Association, asked Congress to pass an economic recovery package.

    But by that I’m sure he meant one of those cost-free economic recovery packages.

    Even more enjoyable, however, was the courage displayed by this Texas governor in stating so bluntly that he opposed excessive spending. Most politicians, year after year, election after election, when asked “Do you support excessive spending?” heave an “Absolutely” or simple “Yes” in peremptory response. But not Rick Perry. No, he opposes it. He opposed it then, and he opposes it now.

    So if you’re one of those GOP voters yet dissatisfied with your party’s 2012 presidential offerings — although that remains a predicament that baffles us more than you, what with Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and other illustrious Stone Agers in the running — please entertain the thought of the entertaining Mr. Perry. He’s creatively consistent, miraculously frugal and boldly straightforward.

  61. rikyrah says:

    July 10, 2011
    The cosmically stupid
    Speaking of the galactically stupid …

    House Republicans — nominally under the pinball leadership of John Boehner but spiritually infused into the demonic void of Eric Cantor’s soullessness — just achieved a magnitude of stupidity that is downright cosmic.

    Had they called President Obama’s bluff — i.e., had they exchanged a few modest tax hikes (the mother lode of which is already slated) for what they could have poundingly demagogued, in a 2010 redux, as Obama’s entitlements-slashing — they could have neutralized Democrats’ D-Day assault on the Ryan plan, fortified their House majority prospects for 2013, added to their counterparts’ numbers in the Senate, and even severely undermined the president’s reelection odds.

    But the heretical bugaboo of fiscal sophistication sent them scattering like roaches for what they mistakenly believe is political safety. They returned Obama’s gift unopened, which, as I and others have speculated, was likely what Obama anticipated:

    The White House has to know that any such deal along any such outlines is not only a long-term political loser, but a strong, short-term political improbability…. [T]hough few compromises have ever been grander in scope than this reported proposal, even fewer have been as politically weak. Hence Obama could get electoral credit for merely proposing, while all along deeply suspecting — indeed praying — that it’s going nowhere.

    To the Washington Post, a White House official unleashed the opening salvo:

    Message-wise, we can go to town on them. We weren’t for raising any taxes that weren’t on well-off people and special interests. So it’s going to be very clear that they walked away from a larger deal over their sacred cow of tax relief for the rich.

    Like Reagan, Obama has always been fortunate in his enemies — from Alan Keyes to Hillary Clinton to John McCain & Lunacy Inc. — and in Cantor, Tea Party & Friends, the president has stumbled across a propitious coven of assclowns so outrageously ideological, so struggling-economy-offsetting, as to suspect a magnificent deus ex machina presence.

  62. rikyrah says:

    July 10, 2011
    I trust the professional left, progressive activists, online doomsayers and cable thunderers will now graciously retract their riveting denunciations of Obama’s negotiating skills.

    It’s true that Obama’s larger compromise gamble was riddled with peril — there was always the slim, and grim, chance that House Republicans would smile and bellow a big “Thanks!” — but he weighed the odds and bet that the GOP would resist the internal sin of ideological impiety.

    He bet right. And that’s all that counts.

  63. rikyrah says:

    July 10, 2011
    Intellect vs. Ideology
    You are free to take all of this for what it’s worth, which is to say, what comforts you.

    Prior to the first A-bomb test, physicists calculated a small but very real risk that such a nuclear chain-explosion might ignite a global, atmospheric conflagration. Given the perceived necessity of the Bomb, they took that mathematical chance. They won, so to speak. When Gen. MacArthur proposed a near-impossible landing at Inchon, the Joint Chiefs were pretty sure that he had lost his mind. In longer order they were right, but as far as Inchon went, they were dead wrong. MacArthur “lucked out.” With John Kennedy’s quarantine of Cuba, he risked a thermonuclear confrontation with the Soviets. The Soviets blinked; Kennedy’s bet paid off.

    On the other hand Hitler waged that he could knock out Stalin’s Russia with a repeat performance of the blitzkrieg, leaving Britain with no option but to sue for peace. He lost. Ronald Reagan understood the macroeconomic imbecility of Laffer’s curve, but he gambled that things would work out in reality, as they did so nicely on paper. He lost. And George W. Bush bet on the ludicrous prediction of happy Iraqis welcoming American invaders — all with little to no fallout. He lost.

    It’s too soon to say, but someday the GOP’s “blink” of 9 July 2011 may rank among the greatest of historic turning points. For Obama there inhered an immense element of calculated risk — effectively the end of his presidency had Republicans taken advantage of what meager IQ they have left — they declined, so Obama won; for Republicans there loomed the party-determining fork of Reason or Ideology — and in choosing the latter, they lost.

    I invite you to take another look at the first two sets of scenarios and decide for yourself those in which intellect vs. wishfulness played the larger role. Then look again at the third. There is at times a certain blurring, but most anyone would agree that studied intellect in general has trumped wishful thinking; and I’d further argue that, throughout history, a devotion to ideology — a system of thought saturated by wishfulness — has virtually dictated the losing side.

    And just how will Republicans play out the debt-ceiling denouement? Again ideologically, or so it now seems clear, which again tips their hand, which means the intellectual Obama retains even better odds of total victory in this total war.

  64. rikyrah says:

    thank you for remembering the great Phyllis Hyman

  65. rikyrah says:

    Slavery Didn’t Create Strong Families
    by BooMan
    Sun Jul 10th, 2011 at 10:48:56 PM EST

    I’m not an expert on the black family. I have haven’t studied the institution of slavery in any academic sense. I can’t speak authoritatively about what it was like to be a father or a mother and a slave. I don’t know how often fathers and mothers had a marriage ceremony in their church, or how frequently they managed to remain together long enough to raise their children. But I do know that slave states did not recognize any marriage between slaves. Slaves were property and could not legally enter into contracts. Their children did not belong to them in any legal sense. And white slaveowners were under no obligation to keep families together.
    Now, it’s true that a troublingly small percentage of black kids growing up today enjoy the security and stability of being raised by both of their biological parents. How does the percentage compare to the black kids of the 1860’s in, say, Virginia? I really don’t know the answer to that question. But, first of all, we need to be careful to remember that we’re comparing apples to oranges here.

    Even in 1860 in Virginia, a black father and mother who had been married in their church and we’re living together with their children, were not “raising” their children in the common meaning of that term. Their child answered to different masters. And they, or their child, could be sold to another owner at a moment’s notice.

    I think black slaves developed a different sense of family in response to their lack of security and stability. So, once freed from slavery, they didn’t immediately copy white people’s way of doing things.

    It’s hard to say how much today’s family situation in the black community owes to the legacy of slavery. I’ll leave that to people with more knowledge on these matters.

    I’ll just say that things are not worse today than they were under slavery. It might suck to be raised by a single parent. It might be kind of lame to have your grandmother or your great aunt serve in place of your Mom and Dad, but at least they aren’t under constant threat of rape.

    Now, there’s this idea that strong belief in Christianity makes families stronger. And most black slaves were pretty strong Christians. So, you know, they must have had really strong families. But you can’t have a strong family unless the law respects your family and will help you keep it together. If your Dad can be traded away like some common athlete and your mom can become the forced concubine of some bored slaveowner’s son, then there’s not much in the way of family. Hell, no matter how well your parents are raising you, it won’t mean a thing if you get shipped off to some plantation in Georgia and never get to see them again.

    So, maybe strong Christian values have helped blacks build and sustain strong families in the time since slavery ended. It’s possible. Maybe it is even likely. And maybe a lack of strong faith has contributed to a weakening of the black family over the last half century. Again, I’ll defer to people who actually study these matters. But, even if this were all to be true, it’s nonsense to suggest that black families were stronger under slavery than they are today.

    And, I don’t want to pick on Christianity, but the slaveowners used Scripture to justify the institution of slavery, and slavery made families weak. So, it’s a little simplistic to say that simply believing that Jesus was the Son of God and that divorce is wrong is going to automatically make families stronger. In the context of slavery, this was obviously not the case.

    • Ametia says:

      Yes, Booman, slavery didn’t make familes stronger, What SLAVERY illustrated to our society is that a RACE (WHITE) of people were vilie, vicious, cruel, and SOULESS enough to think they were HUMANLY superior over another RACE (BLACKS) they raped, pilaged, stole, lied, cheated, and mrudered them in an attempt to justify this illusional white superiority.

      • X’s 10

        Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

        My father was a white man. He was admitted to be such by all I ever heard speak of my parentage. The opinion was also whispered that my master was my father; but of the correctness of this opinion, I know nothing; the means of knowing was withheld from me. My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant–before I knew her as my mother. It is a common custom, in the part of Maryland from which I ran away, to part children from their mothers at a very early age. Frequently, before the child has reached its twelfth month, its mother is taken from it, and hired out on some farm a considerable distance off, and the child is placed under the care of an old woman, too old for field labor. For what this separation is done, I do not know, unless it be to hinder the development of the child’s affection toward its mother, and to blunt and destroy the natural affection of the mother for the child. This is the inevitable result.

        I never saw my mother, to know her as such, more than four or five times in my life; and each of these times was very short in duration, and at night. She was hired by a Mr. Stewart, who lived about twelve miles from my home. She made her journeys to see me in the night, travelling the whole distance on foot, after the performance of her day’s work. She was a field hand, and a whipping is the penalty of not being in the field at sunrise, unless a slave has special permission from his or her master to the contrary–a permission which they seldom get, and one that gives to him that gives it the proud name of being a kind master. I do not recollect of ever seeing my mother by the light of day. She was with me in the night. She would lie down with me, and get me to sleep, but long before I waked she was gone. Very little communication ever took place between us. Death soon ended what little we could have while she lived, and with it her hardships and suffering. She died when I was about seven years old, on one of my master’s farms…

      • Ametia says:

        Thank you, SG2. Come correct; or don’t come the fuck with it.

      • Just so heart wrenching! It rips the heart right out & shreds it to pieces!… Walking 12 miles *in the pitch black night” one way just to lay down beside her son.

    • Thanks, Booman! I’m glad that so many are pushing back on this piece of egregious dreck and Bachmann should be pilloried and shamed that she endorsed this piece of crap.

      My Dad was a self avowed agnostic and Marxist who despised all religions. He often said: “Too many people have died, been maimed, tortured and enslaved in the name of some person’s god. Religion is the opiate for people and an excuse for them to do unto others that which they would never want done to themselves!”

      If Jesus were alive today, I think he would call people like Bachmann and these other so called “Christians” people to be “vomited from his mouth.”

      • Oh but Jesus is alive, Aquagranny, and his Spirit lives in me. And according to scripture,”these so called christians” are a stink to his nostrils!

      • I don’t know how to reply to you SG2 because there is no ‘reply’ button after your post but I wanted you to know that my post meant no disrespect to good Christian people. I am UU and I won’t call myself Christian but I am spiritual and I do believe in “that which is greater than ourselves” which I don’t put a name to. I just call this being Spirit and the essence of that Spirit does live in each and everyone of us.

        I think sometimes Spirit must weep when people do the ugly.

      • Aquagranny, I know you didn’t mean any disrespect.

  66. Ametia says:

    CHECK OUT PBO’s Presser here at 11:00 am EDT.10 AM CT

  67. Ametia says:

    Carl Bernstein: Murdoch’s Watergate? -This Is “THE BEGINNING-NOT THE END-OF THE SEISMIC EVENT”

    Murdoch’s Watergate?

    His anything-goes approach has spread through journalism like a contagion. Now it threatens to undermine the influence he so covets.
    by Carl Bernstein
    July 11, 2011

    The empire is shaking, and there’s no telling when it will stop. My conversations with British journalists and politicians—all of them insistent on speaking anonymously to protect themselves from retribution by the still-enormously powerful mogul—make evident that the shuttering of News of the World, and the official inquiries announced by the British government, are the beginning, not the end, of the seismic event.

    News International, the British arm of Murdoch’s media empire, “has always worked on the principle of omertà: ‘Do not say anything to anybody outside the family, and we will look after you,’” notes a former Murdoch editor who knows the system well. “Now they are hanging people out to dry. The moment you do that, the omertà is gone, and people are going to talk. It looks like a circular firing squad.” … As one of his former top executives—once a close aide—told me, “This scandal and all its implications could not have happened anywhere else. Only in Murdoch’s orbit. The hacking at News of the World was done on an industrial scale. More than anyone, Murdoch invented and established this culture in the newsroom, where you do whatever it takes to get the story, take no prisoners, destroy the competition, and the end will justify the means.”

    “In the end, what you sow is what you reap,” said this same executive. “Now Murdoch is a victim of the culture that he created. It is a logical conclusion, and it is his people at the top who encouraged lawbreaking and hacking phones and condoned it.”


    Investigators are already assembling voluminous records that demonstrate the systemic lawbreaking at News of the World, and Scotland Yard seems to believe what was happening in the newsroom was endemic at the highest levels at the paper and evident within the corporate structure. Checks have been found showing tens of thousands of dollars of payments at a time.


    VERY revealing:….

  68. Ametia says:


  69. Ametia says:

    Gaddafi regime ‘in talks with France’

    Saif al-Islam’s comments came a few hours after French defence minister said the rebels should negotiate with Tripoli.

    interview published on Monday.

    “The truth is that we are negotiating with France and not with the rebels,” the Algerian El Khabar newspaper quoted Saif al-Islam as saying from Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

    A spokesman for the French foreign ministry denied the government was in direct talks with Gaddafi but said “we pass [the Libyan regime] messages in liaison” with the rebels and other allied countries.

    “These messages are simple and without ambiguity: Any political solution must begin with Gaddafi’s withdrawal from power and abandonment of any political role,” said spokesman Bernard Valero.

    The opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) said it would not negotiate with Gaddafi until he stepped down from power. A spokesman said the Council believed Saif al-Islam was bluffing in order to harm relationships between the NTC and France.

    But the French defence minister said on Monday that it was time for the rebel Council to come to the negotiating table with Gaddafi’s administration.

    “Our envoy to [Nicolas] Sarkozy said that the French president was very clear and told him ‘We created the [rebel] council, and without our support, and money, and our weapons, the council would have never existed’,” the newspaper quoted Saif al-Islam as saying.

    “France said: ‘When we reach an agreement with [Tripoli], we will force the council to cease fire’,” the newspaper quoted Gaddafi’s son as saying.

    ‘Another title for Gaddafi’

    Longuet said the rebels should not wait for Gaddafi’s defeat, while signalling Paris’s objective was still that the Libyan leader must eventually leave power.

  70. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone! :-)

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