Serendipity SOUL | Tuesday Open Thread | Phyllis Hyman Week

 Hi Beautiful people.  Phyllis Hyman week continues at 3 Chics.

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146 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Tuesday Open Thread | Phyllis Hyman Week

  1. rikyrah says:

    Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 05:42 PM PDT
    Townhall in Conservative Country-Obama said the magic words+*

    So I was sitting in my front room catching up on my reading and I get a phone call to take part in a Town Hall with my House Representative(Jeff Fortenberry-Rep, 1st district,Nebraska). Except for the city of Lincoln, this is a pretty conservative district-the last time it went Democratic was 1964. I say this because these weren’t liberals storming a town hall: we were called and am guessing it was just people on landlines. So I thought it would be interesting to see what people had to say about recent events. And I signed up to ask one too.

    Boy, did he get an earful.

    The first caller was really upset after hearing Obama said if there was no deal, Social Security checks wouldn’t go out. This affected both sets of her in-laws and both were panicked-one set of them planning to move in with her and her husband. She wanted something done immediately. People needed to compromise.

    Caller two was worried about his stocks and bonds tanking and said Republicans weren’t voted in to screw with people and not make deals.

    Next caller talked about how Republicans never seemed to be willing to work with the other side and pointed out that Ben Nelson(borderline Democrat) voted for Republican stuff many times(way too many IMO) and why couldn’t the Republicans stand up to their party poobahs.

    To his credit, Representative Fortenberry didn’t directly criticize Obama-just kept saying he hoped something could be worked out and his preference would be to cut spending. He tried to reassure people that he didn’t think it would come to Social Security checks not going out. He said he was sorry “that” even went out….sure he was pissed about Obama even answering the CBS question.

    Next caller sounded quasi-tea bagger. He said we spend a ton of money protecting the Korean border, why couldn’t we protect ours. Don’t know if the dude meant the US border or Nebraska’s which last time I checked wasn’t under any kind of threat. Then he said federal salaries should be sacrificed first and not SS benefits. Not sure how the benefits would go out if federal employee were furloughed.

    Back to more questions about Social Security and Medicare….everyone seems to know about this which you wouldn’t guess since these were random calls. I was on over a half hour and he still didn’t get to my question-which was “When are the Republicans going to introduce a jobs bill?” And I would have complained about Social Security too.

    If my rep is getting that kind of reaction from people called during their dinner hour, I’m wondering what people in less conservative districts are hearing.

  2. rikyrah says:

    Rupert Murdoch facing BSkyB defeat as parties unite in call to drop takeover

    David Cameron backs Labour motion urging Murdoch to withdraw £8bn takeover bid in wake of phone-hacking scandal

    Rupert Murdoch will today face the humiliation of the Commons issuing a unanimous all-party call for his scandal-ridden News Corporation to withdraw its £8bn bid for BSkyB, the great commercial prize he has been pursuing to cement his dominance of the British media landscape.

    In an extraordinary volte-face, David Cameron will disown the media tycoon by leading his party through the lobbies to urge him to drop the bid. Murdoch can defy parliament and press ahead with the bid, prompting a Competition Commission inquiry, but he risks finding himself ostracised by a political class that once scrambled to bend to his wishes

    Cameron will also announce today that a judge is to oversee a full-blown inquiry into phone hacking, and that a panel will examine the future regulation of the media. The judge – who will be named today – will lead the main inquiry into the hacking allegations, which is expected to be modelled on the Hutton inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly in 2003.

    It is understood that the inquiry will also examine the relationships between police and the press, and politicians and the press. The inquiry will not sit in public until the criminal investigation has completed its course.

    Yesterday, in the latest of a series of strategic coups that has left Downing Street looking flat-footed, Labour leader Ed Miliband tabled a Commons motion for debate urging News Corporation to withdraw the bid “in the public interest”.

    With the Liberal Democrats certain to back Labour’s simple motion, the prime minister took the rare and possibly legally questionable step of rowing in behind the opposition, even though only the day before Downing Street insisted he and the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, must remain impartial on the takeover.

    Miliband will lead the debate and will argue that the bid has to be withdrawn at least until police and judicial investigations into phone hacking and police bribery at News International have been completed. That could be in 2014.

    Cameron’s spokesman said it was for News Corp to decide how to respond to the vote, but added: “We would always expect people to take seriously what parliament says.”

    A spokesman for the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said the vote represents “an extraordinary unified statement of the will of the people. It is unimaginable that any public corporation or public figure will want to ignore such a strong statement by the legislature of this country.”

    Clegg first called for Murdoch to withdraw the bid on Monday, when Cameron had also said he thought Murdoch’s priority should be to sort out malpractices in his company rather than trying to clinch what could eventually be a takeover costing roughly $15bn (£9.4bn).

    First indications suggested the News Corp chairman will ignore the vote in parliament, and will turn down an invitation to give evidence to the culture select committee next Tuesday. James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks have also been asked to attend. The pressure remains on other News Corp executives, with Murdoch’s closest adviser Les Hinton flying into the UK yesterday.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Mitch McConnell Surrenders

    If you watched The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell last night, you saw President Obama’s masterful political genius in the debt ceiling negotiations. The President has rope-a-doped the Republicans in a position that it’s Speaker Boehner who’s had to admit that not raising the debt ceiling is not an option. By insisting on a $4 trillion debt reduction package with about $1 trillion in revenue increases (by, say, eliminating corporate jet tax breaks and making the wealthy pay a fair share after 2013), the President exposed that the GOP is not serious about deficit reduction.

    As the President continued to tighten that rope, Mitch McConnell became today’s white-flag-waiver in chief. He proposed giving the President the power to raise the debt ceiling, without needing Congressional approval, if he accompanies the requests to raise the debt limit with equivalent spending reductions. And, he is expiring that authority at the end of President Obama’s first term.

    Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., offered a new plan to allow the president to demand up to $2.4 trillion in new borrowing authority by the summer of next year in three separate submissions.

    Those increases in the so-called debt limit would automatically take effect unless both the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic Senate enact legislation specifically disapproving it.

    Obama would be able to veto such legislation. […]

    The Republican plan would require that Obama submit spending cuts along with his borrowing requests. But unlike the increase in the debt limit, they wouldn’t automatically take effect.

    Oh, and by the way, Boehner’s office sounded pretty sympathetic to this position, and even “raising the debt limit at all is an existential question but I did it six times in the last 10 years anyway” Cantor thinks it could be helpful. Not that the President is ready to loose the knot yet, but if Congress does do this, it is potentially monumental, and I am going to explain why.

    But let’s digest what this means first. With it, Congress would cede complete power to the president, only for the next year and a half, to raise the debt limit. Since the President would be able to veto any Congressional resolution of disapproval, if one were to even pass – which is an impossibility in and of itself given the Democratic Senate – it leaves Republicans with zero leverage to force anything in terms of cuts. Obama could easily propose deeper cuts than Republicans would like in Defense (contracting), propose to reduce spending by let’s say, closing Gitmo, and by eliminating direct cash subsidies to Agribusiness, for example – which would be a spending cut, literally speaking, and not eliminating any tax loopholes.

    Congress would of course in turn have veto power over the cuts the President might propose, as those would not automatically take effect (but the debt ceiling will). But as Lawrence O’Donnell reminded us last night, the President’s (and Democrat’s) initial negotiating position was….wait for it, wait for it…. a clean increase in the debt limit without coupling it with anything else at all. McConnell basically just surrendered that position, even if we assume that all the spending cuts proposed by the President will fail to pass Congress, thanks to Republican obstructionism. Once again, the President got a Republican to propose exactly what he wanted in the first place.

    There is also added benefits of this. Even if Obama accepts McConnell’s “solution,” there is no reason to think that the President is giving up on reforming the tax code, as well as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. But the difference is that now, he will get to do it free from the threat of a default, and thus much more on his/Democratic terms (such as doing more payment related reforms in Medicare and Medicaid, and perhaps even raising other dedicated revenue for it, and social security reform with above-poverty minimum benefits and raising the cap in exchange for small COLA calculation adjustments for the upper income earning seniors). The President is already making the Republicans look like morons on their own turf, with the debt limit vote hanging over. What do you think will happen when he is free from that restraint, and takes the case to the American people that we need to close corporate tax havens and make the Hedge Fund managers pay their fair share so that our social safety net and public investments can be sustained?

    McConnell didn’t just fold like a cheap wallet, he just proposed giving President Obama more credibility, more leverage and a sounder footing to do all of those reforms.

    Yeah, that’s exactly what’s making the Tea Party heads explode as well. That is why conservatives are hopping mad. They know exactly which way things are headed. They know who’s winning, and it ain’t their guys. They know, as well as Boehner, McConnell, Cantor and the rest of the Republican blowhards on Capitol Hill. They know the President is kicking their proverbial butts, and eating their proverbial lunch. Aww, poor bastards.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011
    Pelosi on Obama
    Today Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held a news conference on the debt ceiling negotiations with the Democratic women members of Congress.

    When asked about whether she was surprised or disappointed in how President Obama has handled the negotiations, here’s what she said:

    I think the President has done an excellent job in leading the debate as we go forward to reach an agreement on the debt.

    I’ve told the Members this morning at the Caucus, I wish they could be in the room to hear how values-based the President’s statements have been on this subject. We couldn’t be, I couldn’t be prouder of his leadership.

    And since you brought up the President, I want to speak to that issue for a moment. I think that this Administration has done more to listen to Members of Congress in a bipartisan way than anything I have seen before. When, for I think, 10 meetings of at least 2 hours each, the Vice President of the United States sat at the table, listened with respect and openness, to the suggestions of Democrats and Republicans, alike. This President, Thursday, Sunday, Monday and now Tuesday we’ll go back, has sat in that room fully prepared, knowledgeable about the issue to the minutest detail, but with a big vision about the future for our country, and has listened to what the Republicans have had to say. This is highly unusual.

    Yep Ms. Speaker, that’s the President and Vice President we’ve all come to know and respect.

  5. This really is a ‘must read’ over at TPV about the debt ceiling negotiations. Deaniac is great!

  6. rikyrah says:

    Rupert Murdoch Is Bleeding Cash Trying To Save Plummeting News Corp
    July 12, 2011
    By Sarah Jones

    Rupert Murdoch Bleeding Cash To Save Plummeting News Corp Stock

    MPs have invited the beleaguered News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch in for a one-off chat before a committee next week to discuss the phone hacking scandal. They’re not sure if he will grace them with his presence. Murdoch is rather preoccupied by News Corp plummeting yesterday as investors fled the struggling stock, fearing the BSkyB deal was dead in the water.

    The House of Commons clearly does not think a Murdoch takeover of Sky is in the public interest and is asking for Murdoch to withdraw his bid until the criminal investigations are complete. Credit Suisse giving the deal a ten percent chance in light of the snow-balling corruption charges surrounding NOTW and now NC. Things are so touchy that Murdoch bought back 5 billion dollars of News Corp stock in an attempt to soothe jittery investors.

    The Guardian explains:

    News Corp has announced plans to buy back $5bn (£3.2bn) of its shares in an attempt to halt the slide in value of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

    The growing phone hacking scandal has sent News Corp’s shares down 13% since the story first broke. The share price collapse had wiped more than $5bn off the market value of News Corp. The drop was most painfully felt by the Murdoch family, which with a 39.7% shareholding, saw its paper fortune reduced by more than $2bn.

    News Corp shares opened up 3% in New York at $16.57 after the buyback, which trebled News Corp’s earlier commitment to buy $1.8bn worth of shares, was announced.

    The buyback comes the day after News Corp triggered a delay to its plan to buy the 61% of BSkyB it does not already own. The proposed takeover of Sky will be significantly delayed by a Competition Commission investigation into the proposed deal.

    Late last night, Scotland Yard’s reason for bungling the initial investigations into the phone hacking scandal and corruption was exposed by the New York Times as it was revealed that several of the lead investigators were hacked and their personal details leaked to other press outlets, causing one to step down.

    “Shortly after Scotland Yard began its initial criminal inquiry of phone hacking by The News of the World in 2006, five senior police investigators discovered that their own cellphone messages had been targeted by the tabloid and had most likely been listened to….’If it is true that police officers knew their phones had been hacked, it is a serious matter that requires immediate investigation,’ said John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, which investigated phone hacking. ‘It would be shocking.’”

    Just this morning, we learned that the Wall Street Journal has been implicated in the growing scandal. Les Hinton, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, also oversaw News of the World during the time of wide spread phone hacking. Media Matters wrote, “Worse, Hinton oversaw an internal investigation into the matter that James Murdoch now acknowledges ‘wrongly maintained that these issues were confined to one reporter.’”

    That makes the Murdoch scandal an American problem, as if we didn’t already know that after the allegations of hacking 9/11 victims’ phones were revealed late Sunday night. That revelation triggered a response from CREW, who called for the House and Senate to investigate whether journalists working for News International (owned by News Corp) hacked into Americans’ phones.

    Only 170 out of the 4,000 known victims of phone hacking have been contacted thus far.

    Murdoch has already had to spend billions in order to prop up tumbling News Corp stock, but financial experts say he has enough cash on hand to go through with his BSkyB takeover plan. It’s too early in the game to see if the Facebook and Twitter boycott campaign planned against News Corp and News International will have any impact on the share prices, but if it is as effective as the boycott on Glenn Beck’s advertisers, it will most certainly send a message that could well further depress share values. With the delay of the Sky Broadcasting takeover, there is still time for a boycott to have an impact on News Corp’s financial health.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Obama Uses Social Security To Tighten Noose Around The GOP’s Neck
    July 12, 2011
    By Jason Easley

    The fractured and fragmented GOP is watching the debt ceiling fight blow up in their faces, then like clockwork Obama dropped the Social Security bomb on them.

    Here is the video of Obama talking Social Security checks in a CBS Evening News interview:

    Obama told Scott Pelley, “I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.” The Social Security attack is always effective for Democrats, but this one is a mushroom cloud because of the Republican support for killing Medicare. America’s seniors were already upset with the GOP over Medicare, so imagine what is going to happen if they don’t get their Social Security checks on August 3?

    The Republican caucus is fractured. Mitch McConnell is trying to defuse the crisis with an odd little plan that would give Obama the power to raise the debt limit in three phases, but at each phase he would face a non-binding potential 2/3 vote of disapproval in the Congress. John Boehner is “pissed.” Eric Cantor’s private feud with Boehner is inching closer to open warfare, Mitch McConnell has knifed Cantor in the back with his plan, and the topper is the release of secret memo from Cantor that lays out how much of Medicare/Medicaid he is dreaming of cutting.

    By getting out ahead of Republicans and sending the message that he wants America’s vets and seniors to get their checks but he can’t guarantee it, Obama is winning the message war. The president has zero incentive to compromise right now. Republicans gambled on a hard line strategy in these negotiations, and it is backfiring.

    Instead of backing off, Obama is turning up the heat. The default will appeal to the GOP base, but the leadership knows that this is a disaster waiting to happen. Eric Cantor and others are still waiting for Obama to cave, and that could be a huge mistake. Many House Republicans don’t seem to understand that they are in a position of weakness here.

    It was the Republicans who fashioned this debt ceiling noose and placed it around their own necks. What they never counted on was Barack Obama’s willingness to be their hangman.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Rep. Paul Says McConnell Plan Is Dead On Arrival

    Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) just announced he’s foregoing a run for re-eleection to focus full-time on his long-shot run for the GOP nomination so maybe he’s feeling a little emboldened. Then again, Paul is rarely afraid to state it like is.

    Paul was the only GOP House member TPM found Tuesday afternoon willing to take a firm stand against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) plan to hand the White House full authority to raise the debt ceiling with Congress only able to disapprove with a two-thirds vote. Conservative groups, Tea Party members outside Congress and activists are reportedly incensed over McConell’s fall back plan.

    “I wouldn’t like that,” Paul told TPM. “Congress should assume responsibility for itself” and figure out a way to cut spending.

    Paul also dismissed talk that McConnell’s lead trial balloon has undercut Republicans position in the debt talks.

    “I don’t think it has much effect,” Paul said. “If it were [Speaker John] Boehner, it would have been a different story because we have the majority” in the House.

    Michele Bachmann, a competitor for the GOP primary, declined to comment on the plan.

    Other Republican lawmakers were hesitant to offer up an opinion or criticize the Senate GOP leader, although one acknowledged concern in the GOP conference that the McConnell plan undercuts their footing in the negotiations even though the lawmaker noted that he didn’t think it was “well-informed concern.”

    Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) declined to comment on the specifics of McConnell’s plan, but said that he opposed any type of deal that promises cuts for more than a year because such a proposal would be hypothetical an unenforceable. Instead, Gohmert wants any grand or smaller bargain to include a Balanced Budget Amendment.

    Gohmert also charged President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner with having the power not to declare a default on the nation’s borrowing if they want to.

    “There is no risk to default if Geithner and Obama don’t want to,” he said.

    Other prominent conservative members of the GOP conference responded by blaming Obama for forcing McConnell to come up with the last-ditch strategy.

    “It’s a sad day when you have to force the President of the United States to lead,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-GA).

    Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said Obama “owns” the debt problem because of his spending decisions on the stimulus plans and bank bailouts and should be coming to Congress and asking Republicans what they need to get a debt deal to pass that chamber.

    “He’s telling us to eat our peas but the fact is that he is President and his economic policies and spending created this mountain of debt … he owns the problem,” Pence told TPM.

  9. rikyrah says:

    Lawrence is going in on the pray-the-gay away hubby of crazy ass Bachmann

  10. rikyrah says:

    Class Warfare Boomerangs on the GOP

    — By Kevin Drum
    | Tue Jul. 12, 2011 3:00 PM PDT

    When I came in from lunch and read about Mitch McConnell’s debt ceiling proposal, my jaw dropped. The cynicism of the thing was enough to leave my tongue hanging out of my mouth the entire time I was writing the post below. So that’s all I wrote about.

    But I suppose there’s a bigger picture here than just McConnell’s cynicism. And the bigger picture, obviously, is that McConnell wouldn’t have proposed giving Obama his debt ceiling increase with only political strings attached unless he was convinced that Republicans were losing the PR battle for a more comprehensive deal. And since the only real stumbling block to a comprehensive deal was Obama’s insistence on revenue increases, McConnell must have felt that they were losing the PR battle even there. After years of owning the tax issue, this must have come as something of a tectonic shock.

    Which is…..interesting. Obviously, Obama has been positioning himself all along as the reasonable, centrist guy, willing to agree to trillions in spending cuts as long as Republicans are willing to close a few modest tax loopholes. Last week Republicans derided Obama’s repeated focus on tax breaks for corporate jets as class warfare etc., but you know what? It must have been working.
    Somewhere down in the bowels of the GOP’s polling operation, they must have discovered that the public was buying Obama’s pitch that “the wealthy need to pitch in too.”

    Which, in a way, isn’t surprising. Raising taxes on the rich has always polled well, and Republicans may have recently figured out that this support was more than just theoretical. Eventually Obama would have made his detailed proposals public, and apparently McConnell had started to realize that shutting down the government over tax breaks for hedge fund billionaires and shorter depreciation schedules for corporate jet owners was really, really, not going to go down well, even among Republicans. So he pushed the eject button and tried to bail out.

  11. rikyrah says:

    July 12, 2011
    Mitch loses it

    It pains to relate that Mitch McConnell’s condition has advanced from the ethically corrupt to the psychiatrically suspect. One can on occasion cut deals with political degenerates, a Washington community which Mitch, to be sure, didn’t found, but has toasted and hosted for years. Now? It seems the poor man is just bonkers.

  12. rikyrah says:

    July 12, 2011
    Put your money on Obama

    Should the debt-limit absurdity “escalate into a full-blown crisis,” the NY Times’ Matt Bai chooses Obama as the political winner. I couldn’t agree more:

    Presidents always seem bigger and more commanding than members of Congress. Even a beaten-down president tends to be more compelling than some guy who needs to wear a lapel pin just to make sure he can ride the right elevator…. Working in Mr. Obama’s favor, too, is that he seems now to understand this power dynamic and how to use it.

    Bai enumerates several reasons for Obama’s political advantage — all convincing — but it’s this last that convinced me, displayed again just yesterday, more than any others.

    At his press conference, Obama presented a greater self-assurance than I had witnessed before. It helps of course that in this fight he is swinging from the superior negotiating position — the deficit hysterics among the routinely hysterical GOP dropped clean cold with the vapors when Obama out-hystericized them with a $4 trillion figure, impossible to achieve without revenue increases — but on Monday he radiated a confidence in himself that only grows with the job. He owned that briefing room.

    Also helpful is that Obama is nudging back into campaign mode; he’s a natural politician who does his best work, in terms of public relations, when he possesses pragmatic reason to appear more political — i.e., less compromising. The activist left agitated throughout President Obama’s first two years for such “perpetual campaign” behavior, even though an emphasis on intransigence would have forever stalled the actual progress achieved, which, given Obama’s essentially conservative Congress, was monumental.

    Additionally, and unlike the lapel-pin boys, in the debt-ceiling affair President Obama can order up a pulpit, with national coverage, from which he can preach and bellow to millions. Or, if you prefer the pugalisitc metaphor, he’s got the second-rate has-beens on the ropes and he’s pummeling them at will … and their blood is a beautiful sight.

  13. rikyrah says:

    Lawrence is cracking me up. it’s another keeper.

    • Ametia says:

      Our power’s been out most of the evening. It came back on just around the time LO was interviewing Carl Bernstein. He let Carl have the last word, though on his smackdown of Newsweek last night. carl chastised LO for going after the entire magazine.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Mitch McConnell Tries to Save the Day

    by BooMan
    Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 05:07:58 PM EST
    I am kicking myself that I didn’t see this coming. Of course, it might not work either, so I can’t be blamed for not seeing the outlines of the capitulation. Here’s what I knew. I knew that Boehner wants to raise the debt limit but he can’t get enough votes from his own party to accomplish this. I knew that he’d have to go to the Democrats for votes, and that he might discover that he needed more Democratic votes than Republican ones. His problem? Passing a Democrat-majority bill would probably cost him his Speakership.

    So, Mitch McConnell came to the rescue by openly signaling the Republicans’ willingness to capitulate. It’s a pretty ingenious plan. The Republicans will give away their ability to hold the economy hostage in exchange for the right to bitch about the debt limit two more times before election day 2012. The Tea Partiers are furious.

    The president offered them a sweet deal and they turned it down and then said, “Mr. President, why don’t you take this gun we’ve been holding to the economy’s head. We’re too irresponsible to keep it.”

    It works out great for the GOP. They don’t have to break any promises about raising taxes. They can continue to grouse about the deficit. They can vote against lifting the debt limit three times without it actually preventing the debt limit from going up. It’s the perfect cop-out.

    And, if it passes, it will pass the exact way I predicted: with mostly Democratic votes.

    But I don’t know if it will pass. The House Republicans haven’t signed off on the plan, and the president wants the debt limit off his plate, not the subject of constant debate between now and his reelection day.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Lawrence is at it again tonight


  16. rikyrah says:

    Why Is John Boehner Still In the Room?

    Jonathan Chait
    July 12, 2011 | 12:20 pm

    Ever since the 2010 elections, I’ve been saying that John Boehner’s speakership was living on borrowed time. At some point the compromises he’d have to make to avoid political overreach would make him break faith with the maximalist demands of the House GOP caucus. I suppose there’s an alternative scenario, which could last for some period of time, in which Boehner keeps his title but simply lacks any authority:

    The House majority leader’s voice was heard most often in Sunday night and Monday afternoon debt-limit negotiations at the White House. It has been loud in opposition to changes in tax policy to add new revenue. And some Republicans said it sounds more in tune with the sentiment of the House GOP majority than Speaker John Boehner’s voice….

    “It looks like he’s maybe listening to the rank and file a little bit more closely,” Rep. Raul Labrador, an Idaho Republican with strong tea party credentials, told POLITICO’s Arena on Monday. “He understands what the rank and file want.”

    There’s a lot of intrigue going on behind the scenes, but this seems like a straightforward situation. Boehner and President Obama had a bunch of meetings and came to an agreement on what to do. Then Boehner discovered he can’t sell the deal to his members, because in a sense he does not represent his members.

    There are a several interesting ramifications here. One is that Obama’s approach was self-defeating. Obama figured he could sit down with the Republican leadership, reason together about the future of the deficit, and persuade his partner to drop his most unreasonable positions (i.e., “we don’t have a revenue problem”) and adopt a compromise. He may have succeeded in talking sense to Boehner, but in so doing, he rendered Boehner unfit to represent the House Republicans. If you have a grounded understanding of the fiscal picture — i.e., there’s no politically plausible way to educe the long-term deficit without increasing revenue at least some — then by definition, you do not represent the views of most House Republicans.

    A second ramification is that the turmoil (or, at minimum, uncertainty) within the Republican leadership is occurring at a pretty scary time. The parties have locked themselves into a position where major policy changes must be agreed to in order to forestall potential economic disaster. It’s not a good time for the hostage-taking party to begin eyeing each other nervously.

    But the simplest and most immediate ramification is that Boehner seems to have made himself useless to Obama. If Boehner needs to go to Cantor to approve any agreement, why is Obama dealing with Boehner at all? Boehner right now is Junior Soprano, permitted to keep his title while Tony actually runs the family. If I’m Obama in the next round of negotiations, I’m looking at Boehner and thiking, “Why are you in this room?”

  17. rikyrah says:

    Robocalls spam WI Democrats, telling them not to vote in recall elections

    Today marks Wisconsin’s recall election, and polls are expected to be crowded all day. The unusual nature of the election — after all, it’s not often that voters are riled up enough to draw up a petition to recall their lawmakers — has confused some about procedure, and the robocalls that some in Wisconsin are reporting receiving are certainly not helping.

    Local news blog WI Voices reported that registered Democrats have been receiving recorded calls, claiming to be from a Right to Life group. The recorded call instructs them that they don’t need to go to the polling place to vote, saying, “You don’t need to worry. Your absentee ballot is in the mail.”

    Today is the last day polling places will be open for the Democratic primary, however, so absentee ballots that have not reached their intended recipients, or completed absentee ballots that are put in the mail today will not be counted.

    “This robocall is illegal activity and election fraud at its worst,” WI Voices wrote. They note that the calls have been coming from phone number 703-410-3201, and warn to look out for 703 area codes.

    Another Wisconsin blog, Blue Cheddar, pointed out that googling that same number brings up online complaints from people getting robocalls from “Joe the Plumber” telling them to support Scott Walker last March.

  18. rikyrah says:

    July 11, 2011 09:00 PM
    Al Sharpton Knocks Down Rep. Tom Graves ‘Tea Party’ Talking Points
    By Heather

    Cenk Uygur had better not stay on vacation for too much longer or he might find his job in jeopardy from the Rev. Al Sharpton who’s been filling in for him for the last week or so. Sharpton has shown himself to be more than willing to go head to head with these right-wing conservative House members over the last week and this Monday’s interview with Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) and self proclaimed astroturf “tea party” member was no exception.

    I wish more people would give these people the same treatment every time they came on the air and maybe they’d decide doing television interviews wasn’t such a good idea any more, but I don’t have any hope of that happening any time soon.

    Sharpton started out with hitting him for his uber-patriotic nonsense of claiming to “love America” and asking him if he also loved actual Americans like seniors on Social Security and working people who need Medicaid. Sharpton summed that up nicely when he said to Graves “I appreciate you loving America, but do you love Americans that have to survive in America?”

    Graves comeback to that was to say that Sharpton had probably never been to a tea party rally, but a lot of them are on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and pretended that their policies are actually going to preserve our social safety nets rather than destroy them and that their new slogan of “cut, cap and balance” was just common sense that most Americans should agree with.

    Sharpton countered Graves by showing him some of what’s posted on his own web site where he says no way in hell should the Republicans be compromising with President Obama on anything.

    You know, when we hear the word “compromise” on Capitol Hill, that’s what got us into this mess over the last several decades, and it’s been Republican and Democrat. This is no time to compromise.

    After Graves responded that Republicans should not be compromising, Sharpton asked him why he thought most seniors in the “tea party” who are on Social Security would object to things like taking away the tax breaks for those with corporate jets.

    Graves tried to change the subject to President Obama, which Sharpton stopped him cold on and brought the conversation right back to him defending tax cuts for the rich.

    Graves countered by saying he was one of the few Republicans who voted against corporate loopholes that Sharpton was addressing and Sharpton asked him if he really was against those things, why doesn’t he ask his party to agree to include them in the debt ceiling talks going on right now.

    Graves retreated to asking Sharpton if he’d be in support of Republicans and their ridiculous balanced budget amendment and Sharpton put that right back in his face with former Reagan advisor Bruce Bartlett’s statement on the subject, and I’ll add, they left the last line out in the interview but I’m going to include it here.

    In short, this is quite possibly the stupidest constitutional amendment I think I have ever seen. It looks like it was drafted by a couple of interns on the back of a napkin. Every senator cosponsoring this POS should be ashamed of themselves.

    Graves tried to turn it around to President Obama again saying “so Barack Obama is following the advice of the Reagan administration now? Is that what you’re telling me?”

    Sharpton again didn’t let him get away with trying to deflect the conversation away from himself and onto the Obama administration, and told him no, this is what Al Sharpton is asking you. After that Graves was forced to admit that yes, he supports the amendment.

    Sharpton wrapped it up with driving home the fact that Graves claims he’s for cutting corporate welfare, but doesn’t support it being part of these debt ceiling negotiations and pinned him down on his doublespeak. In the end all he could resort to is to claim that going after those loopholes really isn’t going to make a dent in the budget, so naturally they should just be ignored right now.

    Sharpton then showed him a graph of just how much money in the budget would be saved if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire and here’s how the segment wound up.

    SHARPTON: The bigger issue is, well I can show you (crosstalk) if you let the Buch tax cuts expire now, you have a huge amount of money to work with. But again, it’s not what you say, and there’s the graph right there, $424 billion you cut into if you let the tax cuts just expire.

    But Congressman, what I’m saying is, is I’m a preacher.

    GRAVES: You’re a preacher.

    SHARPTON: I know the difference between talking the talk, walking the walk. You claim you voted for it, but you don’t want to walk with it. Because you have an opportunity right now, on national T.V. to say to your party and to your Speaker, put it on the table! I voted against it. That’s what I’m telling everybody.

    GRAVES: I want on the table and what I’ve made clear is, cut the deficit now, cap the spending and balance the budget. That’s the answer to the deficit crisis and the debt crisis we have in this nation. And if we’re to preserve America and our future, it’s going to take big, bold proposals. That is big. Compromise and deals, that is not big. (crosstalk)

    SHARPTON: And also we cannot ever talk about dealing with the rich and the corporate jets, but grandma and working people, you, are, expendable.

    GRAVES: As long as you are on the air, there will be a lot of talk about it.

    SHARPTON: Thank you for your time this evening.

    GRAVES: Thank you Al.

    I don’t think we’re going to see Graves come on the air with Sharpton any time again soon and I’ll just echo his words, thank you Al.

  19. rikyrah says:

    GOP Presidential Field Not On Board With McConnell’s Escape Plan

    The 2012 Republican presidential candidates are starting to weigh in on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) plan to hand the White House authority over the debt ceiling and so far the reviews are not good.

    Asked by TPM for their take, Mitt Romney’s campaign e-mailed to “reiterate” the candidate’s demands for a debt limit deal.

    “Mitt Romney does not believe the federal debt limit should be raised without tying it to spending cuts, budget caps and a balanced budget amendment,” spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.

    On Twitter, Newt Gingrich threw caution to the wind and accused McConnell of selling out conservatives.

    “McConnell’s plan is an irresponsible surrender to big government, big deficits and continued overspending. I oppose it,” he wrote.

    In an ironic twist, reports indicate that McConnell’s office is modeling their plan after the 1996 Congressional Review Act, which House and Senate Republicans attached to a $600 billion debt ceiling increase back when Gingrich was Speaker. The legislation allowed Congress to pass resolutions disapproving of agency rules that the White House could then veto, but did not affect presidential authority over the debt limit.

  20. rikyrah says:

    “Confessions of An ‘Obamabot’” – Leisa Simone

    By stopthemadness on July 11th, 2011

    Over the years, I’ve been called a liberal as if it’s an insult. I’ve also been called a libtard, a Dumbocrat, a hippie, a socialist, a tree-hugger, a bleeding heart, a gay-lover, etc. And I’ve embraced each one. All these were directed at me from people on the right.

    Now I find out that I’m an Obamabot. That’s someone who defends the current President of the United States, OUR president of OUR country. But this time, it comes from the left.

    I embrace that word, too. But let’s examine what this “mean-spirited” insult actually means.

    An Obamabot is someone who may disagree with some of the decisions our president has made, but at the same time, knows and understands why they were made. And we support him for them.

    An Obamabot is someone who remembers how the president extended the Bush tax cuts to protect the unemployed from the GOP. Look it up.

    An Obamabot remembers the hysteria from the left in April over the rumors that the president would defund Planned Parenthood as the GOP was demanding before they’d agree to stopping a government shutdown. An Obambot remembers those two words the president said to Boehner that finally put the issue to rest as Boehner demanded funds to Planned Parenthood cease: “Nope. Zero.” And Boehner was forced to back down. Look it up.

    An Obamabot is perfectly aware of the president’s very long list of achievements and lauds him for them. And damn if we’re aren’t proud to say he’s our president. Look them up.

    We also know a president can’t create jobs. That’s the responsibility of Congress, including a House that has struck down every, single job creation bill put before it and has yet to propose one of their own. Look it up.

    I’ve been been asked about these issues over and over. These and Gitmo and Libya and why we’re still in Iraq and Afghanistan and why the president hasn’t helped the black community as if they’re some kind of segregated society and dozens of other things.

    And this proud Obamabot has something to say after explaining all these things over and over and then over again: do some of your own research! And keep in the back of your mind that Barack Obama was a known centrist long before 2008. He was never a liberal. I knew that when I voted for him. Why have so many others forgot? Or did they just assume he was a liberal because of his skin color and never bothered to check? That type of bigoted ignorance is not his fault.

    Why do so many complain that the president managed to get affordable healthcare passed while not closing Gitmo? Had the opposite happened, I have a feeling these same complainers would be whining about not having universal healthcare while he concentrated on closing Gitmo. As for federal marriage equality RIGHT NOW, are you kidding me? With a GOP-led House?

    A robot is something that obeys commands. It moves in the directions it’s ordered. It has no ability to think and is incapable of locomotion on its own. All movement is automatic. Whatever “emotions” it displays are actually extensions of its controller’s emotions. If the controller says “Jump”, it doesn’t ask “How high?” It asks nothing. It just jumps to the height it’s programmed to reach.

    An Obamabot thinks for itself. It’s intelligent and informed enough to look deeply at a situation and – while it may not agree with the outcome – it knows why that outcome was reached. It has knowledge on its side.

    So to all the robots out there who let the media contort them and push them down a right-angled cattle chute as that same media uses terms such as “unnamed sources” and “our experts”, I ask them to take a long, hard look at themselves. They’ve forgot the past. They’re not doing their own research. They’re not thinking with an open and unbiased mind.

    If any of that sounds familiar, it’s because – as we all know — that’s how the Tea Party works.

    And feel free to call me an Obamabot. I now consider it a compliment.

    -Leisa Simone, who’s looking forward to even more hopey-changey

  21. creolechild says:

    Thank you, Fierce Advocate and Deaniac from The People’s View!

    Deaniac is right. Thing is, the Republicans are going to get a rude surprise when business behemoths like Wal Mart end up donating to the President’s re-election campaign rather than their Mondale of the moment. Business people aren’t stupid-they don’t want Michelle Bachmann or Mr. Magic Underpants as President. Besides, we all know that this budget deal will go the President’s way once he gets out the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and waves it around while the GOP’s Wall Street masters breathe down Boehner and Cantor’s neck. This will not end well for the GOP-and in 2012, President Obama can say: “Who wanted to bring down our economy for their ideology? Who wanted us to default on our bills? The deadbeats in the GOP, that’s who!”

  22. rikyrah says:

    July 12, 2011 4:50 PM

    McConnell’s ‘contingency plan’, cont’d

    By Steve Benen

    Following up on the last post, the details of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) contingency plan for the debt ceiling are still coming together. At this point, I’m still not sure what to make of it, except to marvel at its Rube Goldberg complexity.(If Republicans simply took five minutes to pass a clean bill, the way they did seven times in eight years when Bush was in office, it’d save everyone a lot of headaches.)

    A couple of things seem clear at this point. The first is that McConnell realized the talks were going nowhere — Democrats would continue to ask Republicans to compromise and the GOP would continue to refuse. That doesn’t only lead to a catastrophic outcome, it also makes Republicans look ridiculous. He needed a safety valve to get out of this — one that wouldn’t need new revenue — and this new plan fits the bill.

    The second is that McConnell cares far more about politics and process than policy outcomes. His new scheme is cowardly and kind of pathetic to the extent that it shifts power away from Congress, but it will force a whole lot of votes on the debt, which the Minority Leader hopes will make Democrats feel uncomfortable. If a proposal leads to votes that can be used in attack ads, Mitch McConnell is necessarily pleased. If the proposal allows Republicans to vote against debt ceiling extensions without crashing the economy, he’s even more pleased.

    It’s the practical details of the process that I’m still fuzzy on. Greg Sargent reported:

    [A]s McConnell said today, you would need two-thirds of both Houses of Congress to block Obama’s requests for the debt ceiling hikes. If the House and Senate did pass resolutions of disapproval, Obama would presumably veto them — requiring two thirds of both Houses to override the vetoes. […]

    At bottom, McConnell’s proposal is the latest GOP line on the debt ceiling — it’s Obama’s problem, not ours — taken to its logical and legislative conclusion.

    Right. When John Boehner said earlier that the entire crisis isn’t his “problem,” the Speaker was probably being literal, or at least aspirational.

    The one question I can’t find a solid answer to is what, if anything, would be cut and by how much. The Hill reported the administration would be required to “suggest spending cuts” to accompany three separate requests to raise the debt ceiling, “but would not require such cuts.” Obama could not, under this scenario, recommend new revenue.

    If that’s right, then McConnell seems to be blinking awfully hard.

    In other words, in this little scenario, President Obama would have to offer proposals for spending cuts, with no corresponding measures to raise revenue. But it also appears that these proposed cuts from the White House need not even be serious — Obama could present plans he doesn’t take especially seriously, with the full expectation that Congress could and probably would reject them.

    It would make the process needlessly ugly and stupid, but McConnell’s plan would seem to allow for a debt-ceiling increase with no guarantee of any spending cuts at all. Republicans would get a bunch of chances to grandstand, and rant and rave about Democrats, while putting all of the onus on the White House, but that’s not much. Republicans were going to grandstand, rant, rave, and point fingers anyway.

  23. rikyrah says:

    July 12, 2011 3:55 PM

    McConnell’s ‘contingency plan’

    By Steve Benen

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was on “Fox News Sunday” over the weekend, and guest host Bret Baier asked what happens if debt-reduction talks fail. McConnell largely dodged the question, saying he’d have “more to say about that” later.

    Baier followed up, asking “Is there a contingency plan?” McConnell replied, “There’s always a contingency plan.” Asked what such a plan might look like, the senator added, “I’ll let you know.”

    Well, apparently he’s letting us know.

    Desperate to get out of the political box they helped to create, Senate Republicans are actively pursuing a new plan under which the debt ceiling would grow in three increments over the remainder of this Congress unless lawmakers approve a veto-proof resolution of disapproval.

    In effect lawmakers would be surrendering the very power of approval that the GOP has used to force the debt crisis now. But by taking the disapproval route, Republicans can shift the onus more onto the White House and Democrats since a two-thirds majority will be needed to stop any increase that President Barack Obama requests.

    How this will sit with House Republicans is unclear. But it offers an escape valve for those in the Senate GOP who fear that if the current crisis persists they will be forced to accept some tax revenue increases as part of any settlement.

    So, what does this mean, exactly? It struck me as a bad sign that I asked a few folks on the Hill to help walk me through this, and their explanations were far from identical.

    As best as I can tell, McConnell’s proposed scenario, which would avoid default, is an elaborate scheme to pass the buck. President Obama could raise the debt ceiling, effectively on his own, with McConnell setting up a series of votes going into the 2012 election intended to put Democratic lawmakers on the spot. (McConnell’s top goal, other than defeating the president, is becoming Majority Leader in the next Congress. If he can make vulnerable Dems cast awkward votes, McConnell will do this as often as humanly possible.)

    Brian Beutler unwraps the proposed solution.

    The plan would require Congress to pass a bill allowing Obama to raise the debt limit on his own contingent on him taking a series of steps: Obama would have to notify Congress of his intent to raise the debt limit — a high-sign to Congress that would be subject to an official censure known as a “resolution of disapproval,” and which Obama could veto. If he vetoed the resolution, and if Congress sustained the veto, then Obama would also have to outline a series of hypothetical spending cuts he’d make, equal to the amount of new debt authority he gives himself.

    McConnell proposes extending this process in three tranches, to force Obama to request more borrowing authority, and to force debt limit votes in Congress, repeatedly through election season. […]

    The legislation would not give Obama unilateral authority to cut spending or reduce deficits. And as such, it represents a big policy cave by Republicans, who’ve long insisted that they will not raise the debt limit without enacting entitlement cuts, long-sought by the conservative movement, on a bipartisan basis. But, if Dems buy into this option, it will keep the potent debt issue alive, and central to politics, for much of this election season.

    Garance Franke-Ruta described this as “one of the clearest statements of legislative cowardice I’ve ever seen.”

    The right, meanwhile, doesn’t seem fond of the idea — Erick Erickson is equated McConnell with “Pontius Pilate” and said it’s time to “burn” the Senate Minority Leader “in effigy.”

  24. creolechild says:

    Many high school students use Twitter and other social networking sites, procrastinating writing the dreaded college admissions and scholarship essays. Now, however, some administrators have started testing students’ social media skills, and a lot can ride on those 140 characters.

    USA Today reported that the University of Iowa is asking prospective students applying to their Tippie MBA program to submit their best tweet in place of a second essay. The winning tweet will receive more than $37,000 — a scholarship for a year’s tuition at the school.

    Applicants’ tweets should answer the prompt — “What makes you an exceptional Tippie MBA candidate and full-time MBA hire? Creativity encouraged!” — in 140 characters or less.


  25. creolechild says:

    Cenk Uygur had better not stay on vacation for too much longer or he might find his job in jeopardy from the Rev. Al Sharpton who’s been filling in for him for the last week or so. Sharpton has shown himself to be more than willing to go head to head with these right-wing conservative House members over the last week and this Monday’s interview with Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) and self proclaimed astroturf “tea party” member was no exception.

    I wish more people would give these people the same treatment every time they came on the air and maybe they’d decide doing television interviews wasn’t such a good idea any more, but I don’t have any hope of that happening any time soon.

    Sharpton started out with hitting him for his uber-patriotic nonsense of claiming to “love America” and asking him if he also loved actual Americans like seniors on Social Security and working people who need Medicaid. Sharpton summed that up nicely when he said to Graves “I appreciate you loving America, but do you love Americans that have to survive in America?”

    Graves comeback to that was to say that Sharpton had probably never been to a tea party rally, but a lot of them are on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and pretended that their policies are actually going to preserve our social safety nets rather than destroy them and that their new slogan of “cut, cap and balance” was just common sense that most Americans should agree with.

    Sharpton countered Graves by showing him some of what’s posted on his own web site where he says no way in hell should the Republicans be compromising with President Obama on anything.


    • I hope the good Reverend Al’s ratings have gone through the roof. I’ve been trying to watch him every night. I sent MSNBC two emails saying they should keep him. Cenk is such a twisted, petty, little self-serving jerk.

    • Did they try to ‘unlatino’ him too while they were at. These jerks make me want to just pound my head on the desk, so I can enjoy how good it feels when I stop.

  26. creolechild says:

    It’s not like they’re celebrating, but feeling more positive is half the battle. Now if we can only get the rest of the demographics to feel the same.

    Americans 55 and older are more likely to be worried or even angry about the state of their finances than they were before the recession, but a poll being released today shows their confidence is making a rebound.

    Thirty-nine percent of respondents to the poll by Harris Interactive said they are “worried” about their financial situation, up from 28 percent prior to the economic downturn. The number is down significantly, however, from 51 percent “at the lowest point of the recession.”

    There was a similar curve in responses when asked whether they are “angry” or “secure” about personal finances. And 60 percent said they are “hopeful,” compared with 62 percent pre-recession and 50 percent at its nadir.

  27. creolechild says:

    I heard two different talking heads yesterday say that President Obama had a report from the deficit commission that he didn’t follow. Dean Baker explains why that’s a crock:

    I know we are not supposed to say “lie” in Washington, but this is really get tiresome. There was no report from President Obama’s deficit commission. The rules under which the commission could issue a report were very clear. It had to have the support of 14 of the 18 members in a vote that took place by December 1, 2010. There was no vote taken by that date, although 12 of the 18 members did indicate their support for a report produced by the commission co-chairs, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, on December 2.

    This means that there was no commission report. Therefore, when Dan Balz tells Washington Post readers about the recommendations of the deficit commission, he either has no clue what he is talking about or he is deliberately deceiving Washington Post readers. If he wants to be honest, he is welcome to refer to it as a report of the co-chairs and to even point out that the report had support of 12 of the 18 commissioners, but it is simply not accurate to describe it as a report of the commission.

    Btw, the headline of the piece describes the failure to reach agreement on a big deficit reduction package as a “lost opportunity.” Those reading through the piece would find that one element of this lost opportunity is the failure to raise the age of eligibility for Medicare. Wow, just think, if only Speaker Boehner and President Obama could have gotten their act together people aged 65 and 66 could now be paying for their own health care. We’re all really going to regret this lost opportunity.

  28. Mitch McConnell Offers Alternative Debt Ceiling Plan

    WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) floated a novel way out of default Tuesday, suggesting that Congress give up its power to raise the debt ceiling, and instead effectively transfer that authority — and the political pain that comes with it — to the White House for the remainder of Obama’s current term.

    With eight days until the administration-imposed deadline to reach a deal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters he had no plans to “trash” McConnell’s plan and would give it a close look.

    Under current law, Congress raises the debt ceiling, which allows the Treasury Department to issue more bonds to pay off debts and fund projects that Congress has already authorized. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize or appropriate new spending, but merely settles old bills.

    Under McConnell’s plan, which he called his “last-choice option,” the White House would request an increase in the debt ceiling and Congress could only block that request with a veto-proof super majority — effectively ceding control over the debt limit to the White House. A super majority would likely be difficult to amass, especially when neither party’s leadership genuinely wants the nation to default.

    McConnell said he believes the votes exist in the Senate to pass a bill that would establish such a debt-ceiling regime. If House Democrats went along, fewer than 25 Republican House votes would be needed to make the bill law. How congressional leadership could marshal those votes, however, remains a mystery.

    The novelty of McConnell’s plan made those on Capitol Hill more pessimistic, moving genuine fears of default from the fringe to closer to center stage.

    “This is not my first choice,” McConnell said at a press conference Tuesday.”I had hoped all year long that the opportunity presented by his request to raise the debt ceiling would generate a bipartisan agreement that would begin to get our house in order reducing spending.”

  29. creolechild says:

    Nearly nine years ago, the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis challenged the Drug Enforcement Administration’s classification of marijuana as a schedule I drug, asking them to reschedule cannabis as a schedule III, IV or V drug instead. In other words, they wanted it downgraded in federal eyes. On Friday, they got their answer: no thanks.

    In a little-noticed ruling in Friday’s federal register, the Drug Enforcement Administration denies the request to downgrade marijuana’s classification. It was the third time that DEA has responded to petitions to reschedule the drug (one in 1992 and once in 2001), DEA spokeswoman Barbara Carreno told TPM.

    Under the Controlled Substances Act, there are five categories for drugs — from schedule I to schedule V. The federal government bans doctors from writing prescriptions for schedule I drugs like marijuana and imposes production quotas.

    The petitioners wanted cannabis to be moved out of the schedule one category, arguing it has an accepted medical use in the United States; that it is safe under medical supervision; that it had a lower abuse potential and dependence liability than other schedule I or II drugs.

    In a 122-page response that was published in the Federal Register on Friday, the DEA and other government agencies explain why they think marijuana should stay in its current classification.


  30. creolechild says:

    Crossposted from Tikkun Daily

    Across California, 6,600 prisoners have joined in the hunger strike that began July 1 with prisoners held in security housing units, a sanitary term for solitary confinement, inside Pelican Bay State Prison refusing food and issuing demands that include adequate food and nutrition, an end to group punishment and abuse, as well as compliance with the 2006 Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons recommendations on ending solitary confinement practices. On the outside, demonstrators and coalitions have shown their solidarity with the prisoners through rallies in various cities, online petitions and calls to action. So far, the California Department of Corrections and “Rehabilitation” (CDCR) has refused to negotiate or show any signs of addressing prisoners’ demands.

    I wrote about the start of the Pelican Bay Prison hunger strike in a July 2 posting; in the meantime, solidarity with prisoners has expanded both inside and outside the prison. There are ways to get involved and express solidarity: call the CDCR or your elected officials and urge them to honor the prisoners’ demands. You can also tell them you are a person of faith and why you support human rights and true justice for all people. (Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity, the coalition of organizations outside of prison speaking on behalf of and supporting the striking prisoners, even has a sample script and list of phone numbers to make it easy for you to do yourself and share with friends.)

    While many people of faith reject the death penalty, solidarity with prisoners has been a difficult pill to swallow for many people of faith on the outside, particularly those of us who believe ourselves to be personally disconnected from the prison system or not “having friends who are felons.” Similarly, we may have thought at some point that having solidarity with prisoners is to turn our backs on victims of violence. There are facts and statistics that can help us deal with this discomfort. For instance, prison sentencing for nonviolent crimes has expanded heavily in just the past few decades. Also, solitary confinement has been practiced under the auspices of deterring violence inside prison, not because of original crimes committed outside (and that method has its fill of unjust procedures, like the debriefing rule, which the hunger strike and the video linked below help to illuminate). Still, something stops a large number of us from saying “yes” to solidarity with prisoners and no to solitary confinement. Luckily, many of us rely on traditions and sources of moral wisdom, which for centuries, have called for human dignity, liberation and freeing the captive.


  31. creolechild says:

    At an Iowa campaign stop, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) offered a truly bizarre explanation for an even more bizarre proposal — Congress should simply forbid the Supreme Court to hear cases he doesn’t want them to hear because there is no Supreme Court in the Constitution:

    GINGRICH: In the American system, if you read the Constitution correctly — this is why I wrote “A Nation Like No Other” — if you read the Federalist Papers correctly, the fact is the Congress can pass a law and can limit the Court’s jurisdiction. It’s written directly in the Constitution. The Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton promises, I think it’s Number 78, that the judiciary branch is the weakest of the three branches. There is no Supreme Court in the American Constitution. There’s the court which is the Supreme of the judicial branch, but it’s not supreme over the legislative and executive branch. We now have this entire national elite that wants us to believe that any five lawyers are a Constitutional convention. That is profoundly un-American and profoundly wrong.


  32. creolechild says:

    Today is the day when Wisconsin districts will vote for faux Democrats or real ones. By that, I mean that the first round of recall elections is today, but instead of voting for the recall, voters will be voting in a primary to see whether a real Democrat or a Tea Party Republican in Democrats’ clothing is running in their district.

    Uppity Wisconsin:

    You’ve probably seen the right-wing spin coming out of the right wing media and talkers in the recall elections – you know the drill, massive amounts of union money coming in to the state, all the protesters are out of state bussed in people, the people of Wisconsin stand behind Republican politics, political coverage is slanted by the left-wing media, ad infinitum. Most of this is either untrue or a careful spinning of the facts. What’s even more amazing is that the GOP keeps accusing the lefties of the very things that they themselves keep doing, and in blatant form.

    Let’s take a look at an interesting campaign floating around our state. In today’s Plum Line, Greg Sargent reports on the latest bit of out-of-state GOP sleazery. Flyers have been floating around the district of troubled recall candidate Randy Hopper (R – wherever the heck he’s sleeping tonight) that indicate how desperate the GOP has become over that recall election. You may remember the story of how the GOP ran “fake” Democratic candidates to force primaries in the recall districts – but that these were only “protest” candidates? Apparently they’re now trying to actually campaign for the fake candidates. In Hopper’s district the fake democrat is 81 year old John Buckstaff, who is running in the primary against Jessica King, deupty Mayor of Oshkosh. These flyers are actually pretending that Buckstaff is a real candidate, and that he provides a genuine choice against King.

    So to make this as simple as possible, here’s what’s going on. Wisconsin has open primaries, so Koch & Co have put up fake Dems so that Republicans can come and vote for them in order to knock out the real Democrat. Nice, huh?


  33. creolechild says:

    I’m not sure if this has been posted here already…

    Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty broke Ronald Reagan’s “Eleventh Commandment” Sunday by attacking another Republican. Pawlenty told NBC’s David Gregory that fellow Minnesotan and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has had a “nonexistent” record of accomplishments during her time in Congress.

    “She’s beating you in the polls, she’s got more traction coming out of that recent debate and in Iowa,” Gregory noted. “You’re a nice guy, you say you’re not going to, you know, speak disrespectfully of a fellow Minnesotan. But this is about, again, distinguishing yourself from others in the field. What makes you different than Congresswoman Bachmann?”

    “Well, I like Congresswoman Bachmann,” Pawlenty admitted. “I’ve campaigned for her, I respect her. But her record of accomplishment in Congress is nonexistent. It’s nonexistent. And so we’re not looking for folks who, you know, just have speech capabilities, we’re looking for people who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting and drive it to conclusion. I’ve done that, she hasn’t.”

    “Do you think she’s too controversial? She has said on this program and elsewhere that this is a gangster government. She thinks the president has un-American views. Do you think that reflects a temperament that’s not suitable for the presidency?” Gregory asked.

    “Well, everybody’s got different rhetoric that they use,” Pawlenty explained. “The federal government’s out of control. Let’s face it, it’s plain for everybody to see. So whether you call it a gangster government, out of control, reckless, irresponsible…”

    “You think those are all the same things?” Gregory pressed.

    “Well, they’re similar. But, you know, I’ve used similar terms,” the former Minnesota governor said.

  34. creolechild says:

    Hard to believe that a woman that so promotes “armed and dangerous” and other violent imagery is such a wuss. Via The Miami Herald. With a penchant for tough talk and polarizing positions, Republican presidential contender Michele Bachmann is a magnet for controversy — and there’s a trail of police reports to prove it.

    She and her staff over the years have requested police protection or investigations when her house was egged; when protesters threw glitter on her or held up critical signs; when her campaign yard signs were stolen; when a man wrote an email perceived as a threat; and when she screamed that two women were holding her hostage “against my will” in a city hall restroom.

    The series of police reports from the Stillwater Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota show a side of a candidate rarely seen on the campaign trail, where Bachmann has described herself as having a “titanium spine.”


    But those who have been a target of her calling the cops say Bachmann doesn’t walk the talk.

    “She seems paranoid,” said Brad Trandem, a Lakeland, Minn. resident who excoriated Bachmann in an email this year, only to face investigators. “She does all this criticism of other people’s lives and talks about how people should be ‘armed and dangerous.’ But then someone says something critical about her and she calls the police.”


    • creolechild says:

      A new poll, commissioned by The Iowa Republican, shows Michele Bachmann leading among Republicans in the key first caucus state, with the insurgent Tea Partier edging out national frontrunner Mitt Romney.

      The numbers: Bachmann 25%, Romney 21%, Pawlenty 9%, Cain 9%, Paul 6%, Gingrich 4%, Santorum 2%, and Huntsman 1%.

      The poll was conducted by Voter/Consumer Research, a Republican firm headed up by Jan van Lohuizen, who was previously President George W. Bush’s pollster for primaries. The survey of 500 likely caucus-goers was conducted from June 26-30, and has a ±4.4% margin of error.


    • She needs to borrow our ding dong state Senator Lori Klein’s little pink gun. This is an accessory no lady should leave home with out.

      Ridiculous bat guano crazy, ignorant…….

  35. creolechild says:

    President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday that France would withdraw a quarter of its 4,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year, becoming the latest NATO power to downsize its combat mission in the war-torn country.

    The French leader announced the withdrawal after jetting in on a surprise visit to meet troops stationed in Sarobi district, northeast of Kabul, and to be briefed on progress against the Taliban by a French general. “It’s necessary to end the war,” Sarkozy told journalists at the base. “There was never a question of keeping troops in Afghanistan indefinitely.”

    France has around 4,000 troops deployed in the country, mostly in Sarobi, Kabul, and in northeastern Kapisa province. “We will withdraw a quarter of our troops, that’s to say 1,000 men, by the end of 2012,” he said. Those remaining in Afghanistan will be concentrated in Kapisa, where they have been deployed since 2008.

    The partial drawdown follows similar announcements by Britain and the United States, as Western leaders look to a final deadline of the end of 2014 to extract all combat troops from an increasingly deadly and costly conflict.


  36. creolechild says:

    Crossroads GPS, the shadowy outside spending group connected to Karl Rove, has rolled out the latest installment of its multi-million dollar ad blitz, unveiling a television campaign attacking five Democratic senators.

    The group, which announced a $20 million ad campaign focused on spending and the national debt last month, spent $5 million on the first phase of the campaign last month; now it’s dropping $7 million on ads targeting Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Bill Nelson of Florida, and Jon Tester of Montana (via The Ticket).

    The ads attack the lawmakers for voting for “sky-rocking debt, the failed stimulus, and Obamacare.”


  37. creolechild says:

    Mother Jones illustrator Zina Saunders creates editorial animations riffing on the political news and current events of the week. This week’s animation focuses on the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on generic-drug warnings. Last month, in a 5-4 decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the conservative majority on the court ruled that the manufacturers of generic drugs cannot be sued for failing to update drug warning labels to reflect newly discovered dangers and side effects. (Name-brand drug manufacturers are liable for failing to update warnings and can be held accountable for it in court).

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the dissenters, said, “As a result of today’s decision, whether a consumer harmed by inadequate warnings can obtain relief turns solely on the happenstance of whether her pharmacist filled her prescription with a brand-name or generic drug.”


  38. creolechild says:

    In a bold response to the recent oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and Yellowstone River, House Republicans are marking up a FY 2012 appropriations bill today that would cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency to 1999 levels, slash the agency’s oil spill prevention budget, and fail to provide additional resources for Deepwater Horizon victims.

    Below is a brief summary of the funding levels set by the GOP majority in the Interior & Environment Appropriations bill report language for FY12:

    Don’t Protect Kids — Protect BP: “The Committee’s recommended level also does not provide additional resources for the air toxic monitoring at schools or for the Deepwater Horizon litigation.” (page 62)

    Slash The Oil Spill Prevention Budget, But Call It A ‘Priority’: “The Committee has not provided an additional $5,100,000 and 16 FTE requested for increased facility inspections under the latest SPCC [Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure] rule, but recognizes these activities will be a priority within base funds.” (Pg. 76)

    Ignore Cancer Risk Of Arsenic: “The Committee directs that no further action be taken to post EPA’s 2010 draft cancer assessment of inorganic arsenic as final or for the use of any risk values from this assessment in federal regulatory or permitting decisions pending the completion of the NAS study.” [The National Academy of Sciences study referred to could take more than a year to complete.] (pg. 60)

    The budget also rolls back the EPA to the Bush years — the George H. W. Bush years, that is.


  39. creolechild says:

    If you’ve had that pleasure of spending time in our nation’s capitol this week, you feel me: It’s really gross out there. The local weather report on Monday said it hit 95 degrees, but that it felt like 105—though I really didn’t need a meteorologist to tell me that. Today’s forecast says it will be 103 degrees and feel like 110. So it wasn’t a big surprise that the Weather Channel just named the Washington, DC one of the six hottest cities.

    The story links to another from meteorologist Jonathan Erdman Sr. that I missed a few weeks ago; it highlights the fact that heat is the biggest cause of weather-related deaths in the US. Last month posted a chart from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showing that the US was on pace for record for the number and cost of extreme weather events. There have been 575 deaths from this year’s weather events, most of them from the tornadoes in the Southeast and Midwest. But heat still kills more people in the US in an average year—claiming more than 1,500 lives.


    We’ve had a pretty hot summer, to say the least. I’m supposed to include the obligatory line that any given day or weather event can’t be directly attributed to climate change, that it’s the long-term trends that matter, blah blah blah. But if you care to listen to climate scientists, we’re in for a whole lot more days of skyrocketing heat in the future, not to mention heat-related deaths. So maybe this should serve as a good reminder that climate change has deadly consequences—even if the law-making residents of DC haven’t been feeling particularly inspired to deal with that subject of late.


  40. creolechild says:

    A Manhattan judge has thrown out a lawsuit from a retired firefighter who sued to block construction on the proposed Park51 Islamic Center near Ground Zero, but the conservative group that represented him says it will appeal the decision.

    The New York Times reported that Justice Paul G. Feinman of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan ruled on Friday that retired firefighter Timothy Brown is “an individual with a strong interest in preservation of the building,” but lacks legal standing to challenge construction of the Islamic Center.

    The American Center for Law and Justice and Brown filed in January for an injunction against the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s decision to not to grant the building landmark status, which would have stopped the center from being built.


  41. rikyrah says:

    July 12, 2011 2:45 PM

    Desperate McConnell, Boehner forced to lash out

    By Steve Benen

    These are the efforts of politicians worried about being blamed.

    The top two Republicans in Congress sought Tuesday to put the onus on President Barack Obama for failure to resolve a fight over how to increase the government’s borrowing authority. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said a deal with Obama is “probably unattainable” and House Speaker John Boehner said the specter of default is “his problem.”

    The unusually blunt and combative language came just hours ahead of another White House meeting aimed at finding an accommodation on a package of spending cuts to accompany an increase the debt limit.

    At the surface, the increasingly-foolish rhetoric is impossible to take seriously. But just below the surface, it seems pretty obvious that the rhetorical escalation is the result of a deliberate GOP strategy. It’s not complicated — these guys are scrambling because fear they’re losing the public relations fight.

    And they’re almost certainly correct.

    Adam Serwer wasn’t commenting specifically on the GOP leaders’ comments, but his piece this morning about the bigger picture rings true.

    Republicans are furious because President Obama’s gambit — to make himself look like the “adult in the room” by offering Republicans a disastrous but sweeping debt reduction deal that would combine tax increases with cuts to the social safety net — appears to be working. It’s working in the sense that it has revealed for all to see that Republicans aren’t really interested in cutting the debt.

    It’s really not even close. On the one hand we have President Obama, who proven himself eager (perhaps too much so) to compromise, ready to make concessions that anger his base, prepared to pursue $4 trillion in debt reduction, and even willing to make risky changes to entitlement programs. When the president told reporters yesterday he’s “bent over backwards to work with the Republicans,” no one anywhere suggested he was wrong.

    On the other hand, we have congressional Republicans, who’ve taken the debt limit hostage for the first time in American history, are threatening to crash the economy on purpose, want less debt reduction than the White House, and refuse to compromise on anything.

    It’s precisely why David Brooks wrote last week, “If the debt ceiling talks fail, independents voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern. And they will be right.”

    Today’s hysterical cries from Boehner and McConnell, then, were about desperation — they fear this entire fiasco is falling on their shoulders, probably because it is.

  42. creolechild says:

    Hit the Republicans with a club, and they at least get the message.

    The Republican National Committee this afternoon sent out a fundraising email featuring Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), who chairs the House budget committee. He is the infamous author of the Ryan budget adopted by the House GOP that would end Medicare as a guaranteed benefit. Since the House Republicans passed his budget in April, the Democrats have been bashing GOPers for trying to destroy Medicare-as-we-know-it, and, according to the polls, the Ds seem to have have public sentiment on their side in this fight. So Ryan’s proposal to cut Medicare and Medicaid are hardly good selling points for the party.

    The Republican money-grubbers obviously know that. In this fundraising email, which was signed by Ryan, guess which words do not appear even once: “Medicare,” “Medicaid,” and “health care.”

    In the note, Ryan excoriates Washington for spending and borrowing and claims, “our most cherished freedoms and values are under attack like never before by our own government.” He boasts that the Republican Party “has a plan to put America back on the path to prosperity.” But he’s a bit short on the details, saying nothing about his proposal to turn Medicare into essentially a privatized system controlled by insurance companies.

    “America is not down and out,” Ryan writes. “We have a few problems, but we can fix them with the right solutions.” He’s just not going to remind potentiation donors of the specifics of these solutions.

  43. rikyrah says:

    Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 09:23 AM PDT.

    Say It Loud: “Current GOP Leaders Voted 19 Times To Increase Debt Limit By $4 Trillion”

    How about this for messaging and I think Think Progress nailed it on the money:

    At the beginning of the Bush presidency, the United States debt limit was $5.95 trillion. Despite promises that he would pay off the debt in 10 years, Bush increased the debt to $9.815 trillion by the end of his term, with plenty of help from the four Republicans currently holding Congressional leadership positions: Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl. ThinkProgress compiled a breakdown of the five debt limit increases that took place during the Bush presidency and how the four Republican leaders voted:
    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.$4-Trillion?via=siderec

  44. creolechild says:

    Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) is organizing a giant prayer-fest to help tackle the nation’s problems, but some of its celebrated participants have unusual ideas about exactly what’s wrong in America today. For example: mass pagan worship of the demonic Statue of Liberty.

    The website for Perry’s “The Response” lists Dr. John Benefiel of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network prominently on its website as one of the event’s endorsers, but Benefiel’s vision of America is one that excludes Lady Liberty and her evil, secular, French Freemason agenda. Right Wing Watch recently posted video of a Benefiel sermon in which he condemned the famed Statue of Liberty, one of the nation’s most beloved icons and a symbol of hope to incoming immigrants for over a century, as a “demonic idol” and “false goddess” sent to turn Americans away from God.

  45. rikyrah says:

    The Consequences Of Colorism

    by Chris Bodenner

    Researchers at Villanova have determined that darker-skinned African-American women receive harsher prison sentences and serve more time than their lighter-skinned counterparts:

    [R]esearchers say this is the first study to look at how colorism affects black women and how long they may spend in jail. Part of the reason may simply come down to how pretty jurors consider a defendant to be, and that being light-skinned and thin (also a factor studied in the research) are seen as more attractive, says Lance Hannon, co-author of the Villanova study.

    Racism gets all the headlines, but colorism is just as real and impacting, Hannon explains. How “white” someone is perceived matters. “Colorism is clearly not taken as seriously or is not publicly discussed as much as racism, and yet these effects are pretty strong and the evidence is pretty strong,” he says. “It’s a very real problem, and people need to pay attention to it more.

    On that note, be on the lookout for Dark Girls, a forthcoming documentary that explores the “deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color particularly dark skinned women, outside of and within the Black American culture.”

  46. BREAKING: McConnell Opens the Escape Hatch

    We’re just getting the first word on this. So the details may be subject to clarification. But Senate Minority Leader has just suggested the GOP will give President Obama his debt limit increase without any spending cuts with a legislative maneuver that in essence allows Republicans to say it’s all Obama’s fault.

    If that sounds bizarre, well, it is pretty bizarre. But that’s what he said. More in a moment.

    • OMG! These mentally challenged individuals spin faster than a whirling top. However, I really don’t think that kite’s going to fly. The Repugnants really need to finally graduate kindergarten and move on to first grade.

  47. creolechild says:

    Happy now, GOP/Tea Party?

    For the first time in public, President Obama has warned that crucial benefits for retirees, veterans, and disabled people might not go out early next month if Republicans don’t relent in the debt limit fight.

    “This is not just a matter of Social Security checks,” Obama told CBS News in an interview that will air Tuesday night. “These are veteran’s checks, these are folks on disability and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out each month. I can not guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”

    If you were wondering when President Obama would clarify the stakes and increase the pressure on Republicans to drop their ideological rigidity, consider it upped. When asked about Obama’s comments during his Tuesday briefing with reporters, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has talked about this issue before and described the kinds of decisions of which government services to pay for as being “kind of a Sophie’s choice decision.”

    “We no longer have authority to borrow money, if we do not raise the debt ceiling,” he said. “That fact is one of the reasons we must take action. If we lose authority to borrow money…that would entail a kind of Sophie’s choice decision and that will entail deciding what bills you can pay.”

  48. rikyrah says:

    July 12, 2011 1:10 PM

    Boehner: avoidable economic crash isn’t my problem

    By Steve Benen

    The correlation is probably not a coincidence: the more House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) loses control of his caucus, the more he loses his cool.

    Burned by the fact that their prescription for reducing the deficit and increasing the national borrowing limit either can’t pass in Congress or doesn’t cut spending enough to warrant, in their minds, a significant debt ceiling hike, House Republicans returned to the Capitol Tuesday to ratchet up their demands, and shirk responsibility for avoiding default.

    “Where’s the President’s plan?” asked House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) at a press stakeout after a GOP caucus meeting. “When’s he going to lay his cards on the table? This debt limit increase is his problem.”

    Just so we’re clear, in three weeks, the United States will exhaust its ability to pay its bills. The economy will deteriorate and millions of Americans will suffer. John Boehner knows all of this — he’s never even tried to deny the severity of the consequences — and has the ability to prevent it. Indeed, by most measures, he has a legal obligation to protect the full faith and credit of the United States.

    But as of today, with the crisis quickly approaching, the Speaker of the House, one of the most powerful officeholders in our system of government, has decided this isn’t his “problem.”

    Remember, Republicans still believe they have the high ground on patriotism.

    Also note the trajectory of Boehner’s descent into madness. Here’s Boehner in November 2010:

    I’ve made it pretty clear to [my caucus] that as we get into next year, it’s pretty clear that Congress is going to have to deal with [the debt limit]. We’re going to have to deal with it as adults. Whether we like it or not, the federal government has obligations and we have obligations on our part.”

    And here’s Boehner in December 2010:

    We’ll have to find a way to help educate members and help people understand the serious problem that would exist if we didn’t do it.”

    Here’s Boehner in January 2011:

    “[A debt-ceiling default] would be a financial disaster, not only for us, but for the worldwide economy. I don’t think it’s a question that’s even on the table.”

    And in case this wasn’t enough, Greg Sargent reminds us that as recently as mid-May, Boehner conceded on national television that raising the debt limit is the “obligation” of both parties, it’s “necessary” for policy reasons, and failure to do so risks “the end of our economy.”

    Yet, despite all of this, the Speaker now believes this crisis isn’t his “problem.”

    He knows better. We know he knows better. And if the political establishment lets him get away with this garbage, it will only encourage more of this criminal stupidity until our economy crashes in 21 days.

  49. creolechild says:


    Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME) said she will not support any debt deal that includes cuts to the two social safety net programs, citing “strong bipartisan support.” “There are solvency problems with both programs. They have to be addressed but not as part of the debt reduction talks,” Snowe told the Bangor Daily News. It’s unclear how she would square that position with her support for a balanced budget amendment. But Snowe added, “There are a lot of tax credits that are not needed and should be repealed” — a position with which Maine’s other Republican senator, Susan Collins, agreed. “We spend billions of dollars a year in subsidies that go to some very wealthy corporate farmers,” Collins said.

    There’s a lot of craziness infecting our political system since this debt ceiling kabuki dance began and now Snowe adds her voice to the debate. At least she’s on the right side of it even if her purposes are self serving or don’t match up with some of her other positions.


  50. rikyrah says:

    Bloomberg, IMF – Make deal on debt ceiling now
    by Steven D
    Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 01:14:41 PM EST

    That’s Mayor Bloomberg of New York City talking, and if he’s talking I can only assume that his friends on Wall Street have asked him to go public:

    WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg Tuesday said political leaders in Washington shouldn’t tie an increase in the federal debt ceiling to a broader budget deal, warning that there could be “catastrophic” consequences if Congress misses an Aug. 2 deadline.

    “America’s good name and credit are just too important to be held hostage to Washington gridlock,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

    Bloomberg went on to say that the economy of New York City would be damaged by a failure to raise the federal debt ceiling, which is an understatement.

    Why is the pressure from the financial industry on Congress and the President to raise the debt ceiling being ratcheted up now? Why are we hearing the sounds of panic from the head of the US Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Bloomberg. Supposedly we have until August 2, 2012 before we reach the ability fund the government. I suggest that the answer to that question doesn’t just relate to the inability of John “It’s not my problem” Boehner” to make a deal that his caucus will support:

    Where’s the President’s plan?” asked House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) at a press stakeout after a GOP caucus meeting. “When’s he going to lay his cards on the table? This debt limit increase is his problem.”
    He and other caucus leaders answered President Obama’s demand that the GOP figure out a way to raise the debt limit through 2012 by offering to toss non-starter Republican wish-list items back into the negotiating mix.

    “Real controls like a Balanced Budget Amendment,” Boehner suggested, referring to a Republican-authored Constitutional ban on incurring budget deficits that would make raising taxes functionally impossible, and thus require filleting entitlement programs.

    No, the reason the Street is getting more than anxious at the current state of affairs, and why Tom Donahue and Mayor Bloomberg are speaking out publicly probably has more to do with this deadline imposed by Moody’s warning issued earlier this month regarding the US debt:

    Moody’s Investors Service said it will put the U.S. government’s Aaa credit rating under review for a downgrade unless there’s progress on increasing the debt limit by mid-July.
    “The heightened polarization over the debt limit has increased the odds of a short-lived default,” New York-based Moody’s said in a statement today. “If this situation remains unchanged in coming weeks, Moody’s will place the rating under review.”

    It’s 3 days from July 15th, which by my account is mid-July. No progress is being made that we know of, and Boehner is already looking like a rat that has chosen to abandon ship rather than the Speaker of the House, the second most powerful political figure in America.

    If Moody’s downgrades the US credit rating on its debt as they said they would back on July 2nd, or even announces that they have taken the issue under review, I figure we are days away, not weeks, from a collapse of the stock markets, and the subsequent movement of capital into commodities like oil, gold, etc. or into other currencies other than the US dollar. Time to avoid a financial meltdown of unknown proportions is rapidly running out. Even the IMF Chief is running around with her hair on fire:

    Christine Lagarde, the first woman to head the lending institution, said in an interview broadcast Sunday that it would cause interest rates to rise and stock markets to fall. That would threaten an important IMF goal, which is preserving stability in the world economy, she said. […]
    “If you draw out the entire scenario of default, yes, of course, you have all of that — interest hikes, stock markets taking a huge hit and real nasty consequences, not just for the United States, but for the entire global economy, because the U.S. is such a big player and matters so much for other countries,” she said.

    Really “nasty consequences.” That’s the IMF chief’s words, not mine. Still, I agree with her. I sure hope we are both wrong.

  51. rikyrah says:

    hint – all your dumbass old folks who voted Tea Party in 2010, cause you were gonna punish the Negro in the White House..

    Karma is a wicked bitch


    Political AnimalBlog
    July 12, 2011 2:00 PM

    No deal, no checks

    By Steve Benen
    President Obama spoke today with CBS News’ Scott Pelley, and not surprisingly, the anchor asked about some of the consequences in the event Congress chooses not to raise the debt ceiling.

    PELLEY: “Can you tell the folks at home that the Social Security checks are going to go out on August the 3rd. There are about $20 billion worth of Social Security checks that have to go out the day after the government is supposedly going to go into default.”

    OBAMA: “Well this is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans’ checks; these are folks on disability and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out.”

    PELLEY: “Can you guarantee as President those checks will go out on August the 3rd?”

    OBAMA: “I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd, if we haven’t resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”

    This has caused a bit of a stir, but it isn’t exactly new. Two weeks ago, USA Today ran a good piece explaining that failure on Capitol Hill would put “Social Security payments to millions of retirees and people with disabilities” in jeopardy.

    It shows that in August, the government could not afford to meet 44% of its obligations. Since the $134 billion deficit for that month couldn’t be covered with more borrowing, programs would have to be cut.

    If Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, payments to defense contractors and interest payments on Treasury bonds were exempt, that would be all the government could afford for the month. No money for troops or veterans. No tax refunds. No food stamps or welfare. No federal salaries or benefits.

    Want to protect the social safety net? That would be possible — but only if Treasury stopped paying defense contractors, jeopardizing national security. Plus virtually every federal agency and employee.

    Of course the president can’t guarantee checks will go out on schedule; Republicans will have blocked the government’s ability to pay its bills.

    This whole mess could go away with five minutes worth of work, but it’s a crisis Republicans brought upon us voluntarily, and apparently don’t want to resolve.

  52. rikyrah says:

    Proud of Being Ignorant
    By Ta-Nehisi Coates

    This is the dumbest story ever written in all of human history

    First lady Michelle Obama ordered a whopper of a meal at the newly opened Washington diner Shake Shack during lunch on Monday.

    A Washington Post journalist on the scene confirmed the first lady, who’s made a cause out of child nutrition, ordered a ShackBurger, fries, chocolate shake and a Diet Coke while the street and sidewalk in front of the usually-packed Shake Shack were closed by security during her visit. According to nutritional information on Shake Shack’s Web site, the meal amounted to 1,700 calories.

    Note that this was under “Politics and Policy.” It’s as if the purveyors of Beltway-ism and fen-fen joined forces and hatched a diabolical plot.

    Adam expounds:

    Yes, this is incredibly dumb–but it’s a symptom of a journalistic culture that values catching a political figure in an act of hypocrisy far more valuable than evaluating the impact of their actual political views. The former, as Jay Rosen might put it, allows the reporter to maintain “innocence” because they’re attacking a pol for a nonideological sin, while dealing with the facts of policymaking might actually force a reporter into “taking a side” on whose version of reality more closely resembles planet Earth.

    The worst part is there no actual hypocrisy. It’s just Colbert’s truthiness plus a dash of “gotcha.”

  53. rikyrah says:

    Cantor: Taxing The Rich Is Off The Table, But Making Students Pay More Immediately Is Fine

    One of the major demands that almost all congressional Republicans have made about deficit reduction is that wealthier americans and large corporations shouldn’t have to pay any more in taxes. “The House has taken a firm position against anything having to do with increasing taxes or raising tax rates,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) at the onset of negotiations over the budget deficit in May.

    Yet as the Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz reports, one group that Cantor is apparently fine with making pay more is American college students. Cantor, at the White House for budget negotiations, apparently proposed that students who take out student loans should immediately start paying interest, rather than getting to make payments after graduation:

    As Monday’s White House budget talks got down to the nitty-gritty, Eric Cantor proposed a series of spending cuts, one of them aimed squarely at college students. The House majority leader, who did most of the talking for the Republican side, said those taking out student loans should start paying interest right away, rather than being able to defer payments until after graduation. It is a big-ticket item that would save $40 billion over 10 years.

    According to Kurtz, Obama rejected Cantor’s proposal out of hand, saying that he didn’t want to “screw students.” Cantor’s proposal comes at a time when American students are already overwhelmed by student loan debt. In 2008, the average debt that a college student graduated with was a whopping $23,000. American students continue to pay more than most of their developed world neighbors for a college education, and Cantor apparently wants to make it even more difficult for them while not touching the richest Americans.

  54. President Obama awards Sergeant First Class Leroy Arthur Petry, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor

    July 12, 2011 2:15 PM EDT

  55. rikyrah says:

    Pledge This
    by John Cole

    Huntsman tells DeMint to pound salt:

    Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who would like to be the Republican nominee in the White House race, said Tuesday he’s not about to sign the spending limit pledge that a South Carolina senator has turned into a threshold test for 2012 presidential hopefuls seeking his support.

    Sen. Jim DeMint, a tea party favorite whose endorsement would be influential in the first-in-the-South primary here, has pointedly noted Huntsman and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann have not signed on. Huntsman told reporters at a campaign stop that he told DeMint he’s against pledges like that. The pledge says spending cuts are needed to lower the deficit and capped to balance the budget while Congress and the states approve a constitutional amendment requiring balanced budgets.

    “I don’t sign pledges—other than the Pledge of Allegiance and a pledge to my wife,” Huntsman said. He says he told DeMint “You just have to understand that’s where I come down.

    What is it with Republicans and pledges and oaths? Remember the GOP loyalty oaths in the last election? Do they just lack the spine to stick to their convictions, or do they just spew so much bullshit that they need the oaths to remind them what they believe?

    And here is a question for the “moderate” Republicans and the independents out there- every Republican that stands a chance of winning has signed on to every single batshit crazy pledge they’ve been pressured to utter. How can you even for a second claim that any of them are less crazy than the other- I don’t care if you think you are voting for a moderate conservative, you vote Republican, you get tea party policies.

  56. rikyrah says:

    Hoyer To GOP: Drop The Brinksmanship Or Dems Won’t Help You Raise Debt Limit

    The vote counter for House Democrats says Republicans shouldn’t expect any Democratic votes for raising the debt limit unless they relent on their demand for deep program cuts and their refusal to consider any new tax revenues.

    “I think if what the Republicans do is try to hold hostage the creditworthiness of the United States of America so that they can slash programs that are critically important to the American people and to stabilizing and growing the economy…they ought not to expect us to support that,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters at his weekly briefing Tuesday.

    Hoyer has acknowledged recently, and repeated today, that Republicans need Democratic votes to help the country avoid a default. Scores of House GOP members have pledged to vote against lifting the debt ceiling under all feasible circumstances, and that means preventing a default on the debt will require a bipartisan agreement.

    But top Republicans say their key concession in these talks is their willingness to consider raising the debt limit at all. An angry Hoyer took explicit exception to this line.

    “Almost every honest economist and observer points out that the debt that we are confronting has largely been incurred under Republican administrations,” Hoyer said, before recounting all recent instances in which House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) voted to increase the debt limit without bellyaching.

    “Mr. Boehner voted “aye” to extend the debt on February 8, 1996, on March 12, 1996, March 29, 1996, August 5, 1997, June 28, 2002, November 19, 2004, March 20, 2006, and October 3, 2008,” Hoyer said. “Mr. Cantor voted to increase the national debt [limit] on June 28, 2002, when Mr. Bush was President, on November 19, 2004, when Mr. Bush was President, on March 20, 2006, when Mr. Bush was President, and October 3, the last time he did it, when Mr. Bush was President…. For Mr. Cantor to say that it was a major concession by the Republicans to sit down at the table to discuss getting to an agreement is an extraordinary comment to be made in a democracy.”

  57. The lack of job creation is no accident. The regressive­s plotted this and implemente­d massive moves toward the present debt crisis over 30 years of deceit, perfidy, and calumny.

    They planned to deliberate­ly bankrupt the US government in order to weaken and fundamenta­lly alter it. They want to destroy all social programs and anything that is government­al help to individual citizens, whom they see as their serfs and servants.

    They may have succeeded.

    Apparently though, their greed has blinded them to the fact that they have now already won their war on the rest of us by other means entirely. The Citizens United ruling has delivered the US to the corporate powers, and they will now seek to control and use the government for their own continued enrichment and power over the lives of ordinary people.


  58. rikyrah says:

    Is That All You Got?
    Give me a minute to sketch out for you the current state of negotiations on raising the debt ceiling, courtesy of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who spoke yesterday with our Brian Beutler. It’s worth your while.

    Republicans are insisting that any deal must include spending cuts equal to the additional borrowing authority they grant in raising the debt ceiling. How much is that in dollars? Well, it depends on how much you raise the debt limit.

    President Obama wants to raise the debt ceiling enough to give the federal government breathing room into 2013, that way he doesn’t have to face this issue again before the 2012 election. When you do the math, or more precisely when the budget wizards do the math, it turns out you need about a little more than $2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling to last until 2013. So that’s how much in spending cuts Republicans are demanding: a bit north of $2 trillion.

    With me so far? Good, because here’s the rich, hair-pulling, you-got-to-be-kidding-me part:

    When the parties sat down yesterday at the White House for another round of hashing out a deal, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) laid out the spending cuts House Republicans hammered out in earlier failed talks with Vice President Joe Biden aimed at a grand bargain on the long-term budget. Now set aside that there’s an open question as to whether Democrats ever did or ever would agree to those cuts Cantor laid out. And set aside that the deal Cantor is proposing doesn’t offer any compromise to Democrats on the tax side (it’s still spending cuts only).

    Set all that aside and guess what?

    Cantor’s own numbers don’t add up to $2 trillion!

    Let me say that again.

    Cantor was unable to put on the negotiating table a list of $2 trillion in spending cuts Republicans would propose that have any chance of passing.

    That about sums up where we are at this stage of this ridiculous Kabuki theater. Republicans are taking the country to the brink of default demanding spending cuts that will signify their commitment to fiscal responsibility, smaller government and austerity — but for reasons that are political in the macro and micro sense, they can’t come up with a list of cuts that actually gets the job done. It’s not that they can’t do the math. Believe me.

    So the question today for House Republicans and everyone else involved in these so-called negotiations — the questions our reporters will be asking — is why can’t they come up with $2 trillion in spending cuts. And if they can, show them to us.

  59. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    July 12, 2011 11:25 AM

    Hatch falls in a ditch, keeps digging

    By Steve Benen
    Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has invested a surprising amount of time and energy lately complaining about taxes. That wouldn’t be surprising — Republicans complain about taxes a lot — except Hatch’s concern is that he wants more lower- and middle-income earners to pay more income taxes.

    He repeated the argument last week, and pushed it once again yesterday on the Senate floor.

    “It touched a nerve because last week after I raised this issue on the Senate floor, MSNBC and the liberal blogosphere — presumably armed with the talking points from the Senate Democrat war room — went ballistic suggesting that I wanted to balance the budget by raising taxes on the poor,” Hatch said.

    “I’m not surprised, but this completely misses my point and the point, and the point is this: no matter what these Democrats tell you, the wealthy and middle class are already shouldering around 100 percent of the nation’s tax burden, and 51 percent pay absolutely nothing in income taxes,” Hatch said.

    “Keep in mind, I don’t believe we should tax the truly poor, but now that’s up to 51 percent in just over two years of this administration — people who don’t pay income taxes,” Hatch said. “Are they all truly poor? I don’t know. All I know is that it doesn’t sound right that the majority of people — the majority of tax units — in this country do not pay income taxes, and the minority has to carry the burden.”

    As part of a joke I didn’t get, Hatch delivered his little harangue next to a photo of Thurston Howell III from Gilligan’s Island.

    There’s quite a bit wrong with this, but let’s note that Hatch believes his critics have “completely missed” his point. Actually, Hatch’s point is hard to miss: most Americans don’t make enough money to be eligible to pay income taxes. The senior senator from Utah thinks this “doesn’t sound right,” and wants to see it corrected.

    “The point” isn’t exactly subtle — lower- and middle-income families should get a tax increase under Hatch’s vision, so those with more wealth can be relieved of their “burden.”

    In case anyone’s forgotten, the relevant details matters here: millions of Americans may be exempt from income taxes, but they still pay sales taxes, state taxes, local taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare/Medicaid taxes, and in many instances, property taxes.

    It’s not as if these folks are getting away with something — the existing tax structure leaves them out of the income tax system because they don’t make enough money to qualify.

    Hatch thinks that’s unacceptable and wants these folks to pay more. Good luck with that, Orrin.

  60. rikyrah says:

    We’re Headed Over a Cliff
    by BooMan
    Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 11:58:04 AM EST

    We’re starting to see articles about the rivalry between Speaker John Boehner and his Number Two, Eric Cantor. I get that Majority Leader Cantor has aspirations to hold the Speaker’s gavel some day. But I think there is less here than meets the eye. I don’t think Cantor is really more conservative than Boehner. What he’s doing is pandering to the craziest elements of his party. Obviously, if he positions himself to the right of the Speaker, he’s going to be more popular in the caucus. On most issues, this Bad Cop/Good Cop routine can work quite well for the Republicans. But on the debt limit it has created a crisis. What Boehner needs is for Cantor to talk some sense to the Tea Partiers, but Cantor is doing the opposite. This leaves Boehner with few options. As Dana Milbank notes, the Speaker may need nearly 100 Democrats to vote to raise the debt limit in order for it to pass. How he is supposed to get them?

    Boehner gave a weak smile as he approached the lectern for his hastily arranged news conference Wednesday afternoon. He did not dispute an estimate presented to him by Fox News’s Chad Pergram that 80 to 120 House Republicans — a third to half his caucus — would oppose an increase in the debt limit with or without a tax increase. And he declined a request to name a concession his own side could support.
    “I agree with the president that we cannot allow our nation to default on our debt,” he said. “But to prevent a default, a bill must pass the Congress, and a bill that doesn’t meet these tests” — that is, a bill with a tax increase — “can’t pass the House of Representatives.”

    Normally, a speaker would twist arms until he won support for the grand bargain he had negotiated. But in this House Republican caucus, leaders are followers.

    Boehner can afford to lose 22 Republican votes. After that, he must pick up one Democrat for every additional GOP defection. If he loses 80 Republicans, he’ll need 58 Democrats, if he loses 120 Republicans, he’ll need 98 Democrats. Instead of preparing his caucus for reality, he’s letting Eric Cantor do all the talking in the negotiations with the White House.

    So, I guess the only thing left to talk about is how we all get rich off everyone else’s misery. Where should we put our money?

  61. rikyrah says:

    CIA Left Kids Unvaccinated
    by BooMan
    Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 10:30:48 AM EST

    I expect the CIA to be somewhat dastardly. That’s part of what they are there for. I understand why they wanted to find some clever way to extract DNA from someone in the Abbottabad compound where they suspected Usama Bin-Laden was hiding. I also understand that their options for obtaining a DNA sample were limited. So, creating a free vaccination program was pretty clever. However, they crossed a line with me when they didn’t follow through with the full vaccination regimen.

    As part of extensive preparations for the raid that killed Bin Laden in May, CIA agents recruited a senior Pakistani doctor to organise the vaccine drive in Abbottabad, even starting the “project” in a poorer part of town to make it look more authentic, according to Pakistani and US officials and local residents.
    The doctor, Shakil Afridi, has since been arrested by the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) for co-operating with American intelligence agents…

    …In March health workers administered the vaccine in a poor neighbourhood on the edge of Abbottabad called Nawa Sher. The hepatitis B vaccine is usually given in three doses, the second a month after the first. But in April, instead of administering the second dose in Nawa Sher, the doctor returned to Abbottabad and moved the nurses on to Bilal Town, the suburb where Bin Laden lived.

    This was a brilliantly conceived plan, but there are kids in Nawa Sher who didn’t get their second and third hepatitis B vaccination shots. I am not cool with that. It may sound like nitpicking considering the remarkable achievement the CIA pulled off here, but it’s still morally wrong to fail to follow through on the vaccinations. If they needed more nurses to do the job, they should have hired them.

    Meanwhile, relations with Pakistan have deteriorated to the point that the administration has rescinded $800 million in military aid.

  62. rikyrah says:

    July 12, 2011
    They’re over there, Paul
    The leading presidential candidate among Iowa’s imbecile bloc has, in a kind of perverted Krugmanesque way, nothing to offer but real-world solutions to real-world crises.

    Michele Bachmann is, naturally, opposed to raising that silly old debt ceiling, since the government, as we all know, can easily pay its bills with only a fraction of its usual income. But wait. There is an exception to Bachmann’s peculiar, individual mandate. She would vote for raising the ceiling, but …

    they would have to defund Obamacare.

    Observed The Hill: “Of course, that’s an incredibly unlikely proposition, and Bachmann acknowledged as much” in a Fox News interview.

    But at least she’s out there, fighting the witless fight, proposing the preposterously unachievable, casting her piercing light on the utterly pointless and further lobotomizing the electorate.

    American democracy, the contemporary GOP, the morons: Paul Krugman’s they.

  63. rikyrah says:

    REVEALED: Cantor’s Secret Memo For $350bn In Cuts
    A Democratic source passes along a memo listing cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that House Majority Leader (R-VA) proposed at a contentious White House debt limit meeting on Monday.

    The cuts themselves were first identified by a bipartisan working group of legislators led by Vice President Joe Biden as cuts that could garner bipartisan support — contingent on the assumption that Republicans agree to put new tax revenue of some kind on the table.

    President Obama reportedly rejected this proposal on the grounds that the GOP has refused anything other than revenue-neutral deficit reduction. A Cantor spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

    Though the memo lacks key details about many of the cuts, it contains enough to show where, exactly, Republicans hope to achieve savings. Its largest single source of savings — $100 billion worth — comes from what the memo terms “Medicaid FMAP Reform,” or matching funds to state governments for providing Medicaid services.

    It calls for up to $53 billion in savings from instituting new cost-sharing protocols for so-called Medigap policies — supplemental insurance sold to Medicare beneficiaries to cover the cost of services not covered, or partially covered by Medicare. Specifically, it would institute a $530 out-of-pocket premium for certain Medigap plans. It also calls for over $80 billion in additional cost-shifting for home health coverage, and for medical and prescription drug coverage.

  64. rikyrah says:

    Obama asks to borrow Rockwell painting
    Posted by Sebastian Smee July 6, 2011 09:32 AM

    In the art world, people habitually conflate artistic conservatism with political conservatism, and – flipping the terms – artistic originality with political progressivism.

    It’s an understandable impulse, since no-one can deny that the fields of art and politics overlap.

    But there are those who would like them to be perfectly congruent, and they are often dismayed and confused when told that, say, their favorite avant-garde artist was adamantly against the idea of a social safety net (Francis Bacon), that the 20th century’s most protean artistic inventor was an apologist for Stalin (Pablo Picasso), that their favorite Impressionists were vilely anti-Semitic (Degas and Renoir) or that America’s cheesiest, most jingoistic propagandist was also a champion of Civil Rights

    That would be Norman Rockwell (though, of course, he was much more than a cheesy propagandist).

    The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge has just announced that President Obama has asked it if the White House can borrow one of its most treasured paintings, Rockwell’s “The Problem We All Live With,” to mark the 50th Anniversary of Ruby Bridges’s momentous walk to school, which marked the beginning of the racial integration of the William Frantz Public School in New Orleans on November 14, 1960.

    Rockwell’s painting was made for the cover of the January 14, 1964, issue of “Look” magazine. It’s one of his most powerful, courageous, and ardent pictures.

    The museum has agreed, of course, to the request. The painting will be on display at the White House until October 31

  65. rikyrah says:

    Could the Real Michelle Obama Have Become First Lady
    From Betty Ford to Obama, why Fun First Ladies Have a Tough Time

    By: Keli Goff | (Add to your loop)
    Mon, 07/11/2011 – 2:00pm

    Lots and lots of sweater sets. A look that screams, “I bake cookies and want to give you a hug.” Even her eyebrows—which had been deemed too intimidating—were transformed, all to make her more First Lady friendly. (The ridiculous lengths that campaigns go through to make candidate families “look presidential” is one of the many topics I tackle in The GQ Candidate.)

    Howard Dean’s wife Judy, faced criticism for having the temerity to want to continue practicing medicine full-time, whether her husband was elected president or not, while Senators Bob and Elizabeth Dole faced skepticism during his presidential run over the fact that their marriage produced no children—the perception being that his Mrs. was too busy climbing the career ladder to have them. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    Unless of course you want to become First Lady.

    The fact that Cheri Daniels felt that a country that has elected plenty of men with colorful personal lives (to put it mildly), was not ready to consider a woman for First Lady who has had one, is a sad statement on where we are today. Even sadder is the fact that I believe that Ms. Daniels is right. America’s not ready.

    We weren’t ready for Betty Ford either. Lucky for her—and us—that her husband became president by default, sparing her the scrutiny of what would have likely been a tough first presidential campaign. And giving us one of the most spirited First Ladies ever, who has probably had one of the most enduring legacies of any First Lady ever.

    In addition to helping to remove some of the stigma around breast cancer, she also helped remove the stigma and secrecy around addiction. Her namesake substance abuse center, has saved countless lives. (Upon learning of Ford’s passing singer Stevie Nicks said that if she hadn’t met the First Lady while she was undergoing treatment years ago, she would be dead.) Then of course there was her free spirit, that included dancing on her husband’s desk in the Oval Office.

    It’s not hard to see why her husband fell in love with her, and America did too. Here’s hoping one day we will get to a place where women like her are perceived as assets—not liabilities—on the campaign trail.


    • Ametia says:

      WUH? HUH?
      1. The “Real Michelle Obama? as opposed to whom exactly, Keli? Quit pushing the fake FLOUTS bullshit, lady. Our First Lady is FOR REAL.

      2. WTF does Michelle Obama have to do with Betty Ford?

      3. Quit trying to appease your white corporate masters.

      4. Check your weave, Keli Goff; me thinks it’s waaaaaaaaaaaaaay tooo tight!

      • I could smack the living shit out of Keli Goff. She was with this bullshit on the Dylan Ratigan Monday show and allowed Dylan Ratigan to say President Obama is pretending to be somebody he’s not. Keli Goff just sit there and giggled her silly ass off. Stoopid ass heffa!

      • rikyrah says:

        thank you. she gets on my last Black nerve

    • That Goff woman can bite me! Michelle is the most genuine human being and beloved First Lady in my lifetime. You never have to wonder if if is “just putting it on” She is caring, compassionate and interested in the people she meets. She is ‘real.’

  66. rikyrah says:

    CNN: Murdoch and son summoned to testify on hacking scandal

    Rupert Murdoch and his son, James, have been summoned to appear before a parliamentary committee next week to answer questions regarding the phone-hacking scandal by their newspapers that has engulfed Britain, The Guardian reports.

    The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has also called Rebekah Brooks, the CEO of News International, the British arm of the Murdoch media empire.

    Brooks was editor of the News of the World at the time of the phone-hacking incidents, but has denied any knowledge of them.

    NI says in a statement that “senior executives” of Murdoch’s British newspaper company “will cooperate,” but did not specify names, The Guardian reports. Rupert Murdoch is chairman and CEO of News Corp., and James, 38, is chairman of News International.

    The Australian-born Rupert Murdoch, who is a naturalized American citizen, arrived in Britain this week as the scandal continue to grow, prompting the company to close down the 1689-year-old News of the World tabloid.

  67. rikyrah says:

    Targeting Politicians
    by John Cole

    Things get worse and worse in the Murdoch hacking scandal every day:

    Journalists from across News International repeatedly targeted the 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.

    There is also evidence that a private investigator used a serving police officer to trawl the police national computer for information about him. That investigator also targeted another Labour MP who was the subject of hostile inquiries by the News of the World, but it is not confirmed whether News International was specifically involved in trawling police computers for information on Brown.

    Separately, Brown’s tax paperwork was taken from his accountant’s office apparently by hacking into the firm’s computer. This was passed to another newspaper.

    Brown was targeted during a period of more than 10 years, both as chancellor of the exchequer and as prime minister. Some of the activity clearly was illegal. Other incidents breached his privacy but not the law. An investigation by the Guardian has found that:

    • Scotland Yard has discovered references to 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.

    • 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.

  68. Ametia says:


  69. Boehner: ‘This Debt Limit Increase Is Obama’s Problem’

    Burned by the fact that their prescription for reducing the deficit and increasing the national borrowing limit either can’t pass in Congress or doesn’t cut spending enough to warrant, in their minds, a significant debt ceiling hike, House Republicans returned to the Capitol Tuesday to ratchet up their demands, and shirk responsibility for avoiding default.

    “Where’s the President’s plan?” asked House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) at a press stakeout after a GOP caucus meeting. “When’s he going to lay his cards on the table? This debt limit increase is his problem.”

    He and other caucus leaders answered President Obama’s demand that the GOP figure out a way to raise the debt limit through 2012 by offering to toss non-starter Republican wish-list items back into the negotiating mix.

    “Real controls like a Balanced Budget Amendment,” Boehner suggested, referring to a Republican-authored Constitutional ban on incurring budget deficits that would make raising taxes functionally impossible, and thus require filleting entitlement programs.

    “You need to put back on the table some of the items that [you] took off early on,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), vice-chair of the House GOP caucus. Those items include the same Balanced Budget Amendment, as well as a full repeal of the health care law, which, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would increase deficits by hundreds of billions of dollars.

    Republican and Democratic leaders will return to the White House Tuesday afternoon — but they’re still miles from a deal that can pass the Congress, and sidestep a debt default, which becomes a real risk in just three weeks.

  70. Ametia says:

    NewsWeek is run by another Brit, remember, Tina Brown from the Daily Beast. She like Murdock push the tabloid slime, because they think Americans love it, and they’re right. The low information voters and ignoramouses do.

  71. REVEALED: Cantor’s Secret Memo For $350bn In Cuts

    A Democratic source passes along a memo listing cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that House Majority Leader (R-VA) proposed at a contentious White House debt limit meeting on Monday.

    The cuts themselves were first identified by a bipartisan working group of legislators led by Vice President Joe Biden as cuts that could garner bipartisan support — contingent on the assumption that Republicans agree to put new tax revenue of some kind on the table.

    President Obama reportedly rejected this proposal on the grounds that the GOP has refused anything other than revenue-neutral deficit reduction. A Cantor spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

    Though the memo lacks key details about many of the cuts, it contains enough to show where, exactly, Republicans hope to achieve savings. Its largest single source of savings — $100 billion worth — comes from what the memo terms “Medicaid FMAP Reform,” or matching funds to state governments for providing Medicaid services.

    It calls for up to $53 billion in savings from instituting new cost-sharing protocols for so-called Medigap policies — supplemental insurance sold to Medicare beneficiaries to cover the cost of services not covered, or partially covered by Medicare. Specifically, it would institute a $530 out-of-pocket premium for certain Medigap plans. It also calls for over $80 billion in additional cost-shifting for home health coverage, and for medical and prescription drug coverage.

  72. McConnell blasts Obama over debt talks

    If you’re looking for more evidence of the partisan divisions in the ongoing debt talks, look no further than this morning’s Senate floor speech from Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

    As President Obama prepares to meet at 3:45 p.m. with congressional leaders, McConnell said the White House plan for reducing federal debt has tax hikes that are all too real and budget cuts that are largely illusory.

    “In my view the President has presented us with three choices,” McConnell said. “Smoke and mirrors, tax hikes, or default.”

    “Republicans choose none of the above,” McConnell said. “I had hoped to do good; but I refuse to do harm.”

    Obama will presumably provide a response when he sits down with CBS News anchor Scott Pelley to be broadcast this evening.

    At a news conference yesterday, Obama said he has “bent over backwards” to work with Republicans on a debt reduction deal that makes real cuts, including changes to Social Security and Medicare; in return, Republicans must sign off of new government revenues via the elimination of certain tax breaks for the wealthy.

    “I do not see a path to a deal if they don’t budge, period,” Obama said. “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.”

    The negotiations are designed to find a way to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and avoid a government default on its bill.

    Republicans, including those who run the U.S. House, say they won’t vote for a debt ceiling without offsetting budget cuts.

    Obama and the Democrats say any debt reduction must be “balances,” including new revenues from the elimination of unfair tax breaks.

    The president said he will meet with congressional leaders every day until a deal is reached — but given the increasingly harsh rhetoric, it’s hard to see what the meetings are accomplishing.

    At one point, McConnell said: “I have little question that as long as this President is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable.”

  73. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    July 12, 2011 8:50 AM

    Resolving the debt-ceiling dispute in five minutes

    By Steve Benen
    Three weeks from today, the United States will have exhausted all of its remaining options and will lose its ability to pay the nation’s bills. Raising the debt ceiling would fix the problem entirely, but congressional Republicans don’t want to and aren’t willing to compromise.

    With just 21 days to go, this is starting to look a bit like a car accelerating towards a cliff with no guard rail. GOP leaders say they’d like to avoid the disaster, but don’t like any of the proposed options.

    But let’s not forget a simple truth: in this little metaphor, the brake works fine. Policymakers simply have to muster the will step on it.

    A lot of crises are extremely difficult to resolve. This isn’t one of them. The threat of an economic collapse could be eliminated entirely in five minutes — all Congress has to do is raise the debt ceiling, just as previous Congresses have done dozens of times for decades.

    Rachel Maddow noted last night that since the Kennedy presidency, lawmakers from both parties have voted to raise the debt ceiling 74 times. During the Bush presidency, Republicans did it seven times. The current GOP leadership in Washington has voted to raise the debt limit 19 times. (Sorry, Eric Cantor, it’s too late to pretend like this is some sort of gift to Democrats.)

    Mitch Daniels, the conservative Republican Indiana governor and former Bush budget director, explained that “a responsible government” must routinely raise the debt ceiling. “This ought to be treated as the housekeeping matter it is,” Daniels said. Ronald Reagan warned that failure to raise the debt limit would lead to consequences too “awesome to contemplate.”

    As Matt Yglesias explained yesterday, one effortless vote makes the entire problem disappear.

    Surveying the scene, perhaps everyone should take a deep breath and recall the traditional way the country has avoided default when the debt ceiling needs raising: Congress raises the debt ceiling.

    It’s that simple. The same kind of “clean” debt ceiling increase that’s passed repeatedly over the past 100 years will allow the country to avoid default without tax increases, without defense cuts, and without slashing entitlement spending. Education will be spared. So will transportation, health care, farm subsidies, and everything else. The interest rates investors are charging the American government to buy our debt are extremely low right now. The world economy is suffering from an excessive demand for American debt, not by reluctance to lend. All we need to do to keep our finances flowing is to raise the statutory debt ceiling…. Right now, though, the only crisis we face is an entirely self-created one.

    GOP leaders insist they can’t do this because their political philosophy won’t let them. This might be slightly less laughable if they hadn’t already raised the debt ceiling — many times and without conditions — just a few years ago.

    Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any potential crisis that’s so serious and yet so easy to resolve. Indeed, by some measures, the 14th Amendment actually compels Congress to act, suggesting policymakers have a constitutional obligation to protect the full faith and credit of the United States.

    This entire dispute can end in five minutes, at which point, the parties can go back to arguing. But Republicans don’t care. It’s the greatest scandal Americans haven’t heard much about.

    • These amoebic scum are just like wounded scorpions who are stinging themselves to death. Now that PBO has told the blue hairs, many of who live in Sun City AZ, (figging assholes) that their SS checks and military retirement may not go out on Aug 3, we will see just how much longer this caca will go on.

      • Now that PBO has told the blue hairs, many of who live in Sun City AZ, (figging assholes) that their SS checks and military retirement may not go out on Aug 3, we will see just how much longer this caca will go on.


        Let the howling begin…

  74. rikyrah says:

    Political Negotiation is Hard and Puzzling
    by mistermix

    Today it’s being reported that Obama offered up raising the Medicare eligibility age as part of a package deal on the debt ceiling. As ABL posted below, this could be an extremely smart example of offering a sacrifice you know the other side won’t take to get some credibility and to put Boehner in a box. It could just be an example of Obama’s raging corporatism. Perhaps Obama thinks he needs to show extreme flexibility because the “both sides do it” media won’t recognize that Democrats are the reasonable ones in this negotiation unless it’s jammed down their throats. Or maybe raising the Medicare age to 67 is a giant slice of nothingburger, since everyone who can’t afford insurance will be subsidized once HCR kicks in.

    You know what? I have no fucking clue. I don’t know how much of the “Pelosi will stop this” drama is a reflection of a real break between Pelosi and the White House, and how much of it is political theater designed to show the Republicans that they can’t take House Democrats’ votes on the debt ceiling for granted. I don’t know if Obama’s “wait until the last minute” negotiating strategy indicates weakness, vacillation and indecision, or if it is a reflection of his cool character and ability to let his opponents burn out before he enters the fray.

    All I know is that we wouldn’t be having this absolutely goddam tedious and infuriating discussion about one of the longest hostage dramas in history if more Democrats had come out to vote in 2010. Whatever evil a Democratic Congress would have perpetrated at the behest of their corporate masters, I know with great certainty that they wouldn’t be risking a financial disaster by holding up the debt ceiling vote as we hurtle towards the second dip of the Great Recession.

  75. rikyrah says:

    July 12, 2011 8:00 AM

    When ‘inflexible’ loses all meaning

    By Steve Benen

    The headline on the top political Associated Press article this morning reads, “Obama, Republicans trapped by inflexible rhetoric.” Seriously. That’s what it says. In fact, the story tells readers in the first paragraph that President Obama and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are both “seemingly trapped in inflexible bargaining positions.”

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but let’s pause to think about this for a moment. GOP leaders are saying they want a deal that’s 100% in their favor. If they don’t get what they want, Republicans might crash the economy on purpose. As the process unfolds and the deadline draws closer, the GOP line is hardening and becoming more extreme.

    In contrast, we have the Obama White House, which is prepared to accept all kinds of concessions to make Republicans happy. But because he’s urging lawmakers on both sides to be flexible and remain open to compromise, President Obama, we’re told, is taking an “inflexible” bargaining position.

    It’s not just the AP — NPR had a report yesterday that told listeners that the left and right are both to blame for this mess.

    This is, of course, one of the unwritten establishment rules of the American political discourse: it doesn’t matter if one side is actually more responsible for a problem in reality; both sides must share the blame at all times.

    Eugene Robinson is right to lament the “reflexive tendency to see equivalence where none exists.”

    The truth is that Democrats have made clear they are open to a compromise deal on budget cuts and revenue increases. Republicans have made clear they are not.

    Put another way, Democrats reacted to the “grand bargain” proposed by President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner by squawking, complaining and highlighting elements they didn’t like. This is known throughout the world as the way to begin a process of negotiation.

    Republicans, by contrast, answered with a definitive “no” and then covered their ears. Given the looming Aug. 2 deadline for default if the debt ceiling is not raised, the proper term for this approach is blackmail. […]

    Republicans are taking the position that not a cent of new revenue can be raised, no matter the euphemism. Some Democrats, yes, are being scratchy and cantankerous. But Republicans are refusing to negotiate at all. That’s not the same thing.

    The assumption among many has been that Republicans would get the blame in the event of a man-made catastrophe because, you know, they’d deserve it. But the AP and NPR reports are a reminder that the public often believes what the establishment media tells them to believe, and in case there were any doubts, the public would be told that “both sides” were “inflexible.”

    That makes shining a bright light of reality all the more important. Dems are not only willing to accept a compromise, reducing the debt through a combination of spending cuts and new revenue, they’re even willing to tilt this deal heavily in the GOP’s favor, with far more cuts than revenue. Republicans, as of this morning, aren’t willing to accept a compromise at all. Period.

    There need not always be a pox on both houses. Sometimes, only one deserves it.

  76. rikyrah says:

    by Kay

    I’m completely fascinated by the rampant criminality within the Murdoch empire, and I think this is a good, brief summation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a law I had never heard of prior to two days ago:

    The scandal embroiling the empire of media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News International might extend from London to Washington, legal experts not personally involved in the unfolding matter said Monday.

    The potential liability flows from journalists at individual newspapers, such as the recently defunct News of the World, to its parent, News International, to its parent, News Corp., which is a publicly held company in the United States.

    If true, that might violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which Koehler described as “a U.S. law that generally prohibits the payment of money or anything of value to a foreign official for a business purpose.

    And, with that, look who’s back in the news:

    Still, as things now stand, the nearly 4,000 miles that separate Washington from London won’t put off U.S. investigators. “Of the 10 largest fines in FCPA history, eight have been against foreign companies,” Tillen said.
    But that may change. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, has criticized the act as putting U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage and held hearings last month intended to water it down, A spokeswoman for Sensenbrenner provided CNN with a statement Monday from the congressman.
    “I plan to introduce a bill that would reform the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and bring it up-to-date with the changing world,” Sensenbrenner said in the statement. “We need to bring clarity to what is and what is not illegal. My intent is to make sure that the stop signs and red lights are clearly visible for American companies doing commerce internationally.
    “Right now, there is confusion regarding who qualifies as a foreign official. Foreign law enforcement officers are clearly foreign officials and it is absolutely absurd to imply that any changes to the FCPA would change that status or permit U.S. businesses to bribe policemen,” he added.

    Touchy, touchy. Mr. Sensenbrenner is a little irritable, I guess.

    I’d just like to add that it is in keeping with conservative dogma that Sensenbrenner is busy watering down a law that has been used successfully to sanction white collar criminals, so we shouldn’t draw any conclusions. As you know, nothing and no one may get in the way of powerful people making a buck, ever, off of anything, because they’re job creators.

  77. rikyrah says:

    Monday, July 11, 2011Conciliatory rhetoric as ruthless strategy: Debt ceiling version

    Anyone who has been reading here for a while now knows that one of my favorite characterizations of President Obama’s style comes from what Jonathan Chait called conciliatory rhetoric as ruthless strategy. In describing what that means, Chait draws on an article about Obama’s theory of change written by Mark Schmitt.

    One way to deal with that kind of bad-faith opposition is to draw the person in, treat them as if they were operating in good faith, and draw them into a conversation about how they actually would solve the problem. If they have nothing, it shows. And that’s not a tactic of bipartisan Washington idealists — it’s a hard-nosed tactic of community organizers, who are acutely aware of power and conflict.

    As Chait says:

    This apparent paradox is one reason Obama’s political identity has eluded easy definition. On the one hand, you have a disciple of the radical community organizer Saul Alinsky turned ruthless Chicago politician. On the other hand, there is the conciliatory post-partisan idealist. The mistake here is in thinking of these two notions as opposing poles. In reality it’s all the same thing. Obama’s defining political trait is the belief that conciliatory rhetoric is a ruthless strategy.

    The beauty of this kind of strategy is that it sets up a win/win for the one who uses it…either those operating in bad faith join attempts to solve the problem or they are shown to have nothing.

    I think we’ve all seen this strategy used by President Obama over the last few days. At today’s press conference, in talking about deficit reduction, he said this:

    I might add it is the primary solution that the Republicans have offered when it comes to jobs. They keep on going out there and saying, “Mr. President, what are you doing about jobs?” And when you ask them, well, what would you do? “We’ve got to get government spending under control and we’ve got to get our deficits under control.” So I say, okay, let’s go. Where are they? I mean, this is what they claim would be the single biggest boost to business certainty and confidence. So what’s the holdup?

    When the poutragers criticize President Obama’s attempts at bipartisanship and suggest that he is naive in thinking he can pull it off, what they miss is that its only the initial offer that is directed at attaining bipartisan solutions. If they don’t accept the offer, the play becomes for public opinion – demonstrating for all the world to see that there’s only one adult in the room.
    Posted by Smartypants at 4:10 PM

  78. Ametia says:

    Don’t blame ‘both sides’ for debt impasse
    By Eugene Robinson, Published: July 11
    Washington has many lazy habits, and one of the worst is a reflexive tendency to see equivalence where none exists. Hence the nonsense, being peddled by politicians and commentators who should know better, that “both sides” are equally at fault in the deadlocked talks over the debt ceiling.

    This is patently false. The truth is that Democrats have made clear they are open to a compromise deal on budget cuts and revenue increases. Republicans have made clear they are not.

    Put another way, Democrats reacted to the “grand bargain” proposed by President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner by squawking, complaining and highlighting elements they didn’t like. This is known throughout the world as the way to begin a process of negotiation.

    Republicans, by contrast, answered with a definitive “no” and then covered their ears. Given the looming Aug. 2 deadline for default if the debt ceiling is not raised, the proper term for this approach is blackmail.

  79. rikyrah says:

    Mon Jul 11, 2011 at 06:15 PM PDT
    Conrad proposes significant defense cuts+*

    by Joan McCarter

    Sen. Kent Conrad’s deficit peacockery seems to be stemmed by his impending retirement. He is proposing a 50/50 split between cuts and revenues on the 2012 budget. The details of that budget are leaking out, and it is reported to contain cuts of $800 billion from defense.

    Overall security spending is cut by $886 billion in the budget which Senate leadership is still mulling making public. Under law the Senate was to have agreed on a budget by April 15.

    This compares to $178 billion in security cuts in the House-passed budget resolution, only $78 billion of which is not reinvested in the defense budget. President Obama in his April deficit reduction framework called for $400 billion in security cuts over 12 years….

    The budget ends Bush era tax rates for families making over $1 million per year and for individuals making over $500,000 per year. It also recommends ending tax expenditures but leaves it up to the Senate Finance Committee to decide which tax breaks to end, including the popular home mortgage interest deduction.

    The budget cuts $350 billion from domestic programs over ten years and counts $600 billion from reduced interest on the national debt.

    Medicare and Medicaid would sustain $80 billion in cuts, while Social Security is left out of the mix. Depending on where those $80 billion came from in those programs, the trade-off for $800 billion in defense make them relatively palatable. In the current negotiating climate, however, don’t expect a proposal as sane as this one to gain much traction.

  80. rikyrah says:

    Mon Jul 11, 2011 at 07:00 PM PDT
    Paul Ryan’s dinner companions, not the $350 wine, are the story+*

    by Laura Clawson

    The fact that Paul Ryan and two dinner companions were spotted ordering two $350 bottles of wine at Washington, D.C.’s Bistro Bis the other night has made a bit of a splash. After all, here’s the guy preaching massive austerity for the rest of us doing anything but practicing austerity in his own life.

    But it’s not clear what’s supposed to be surprising about that. Isn’t that sort of the great American story, circa 2011?

    His dinner companions, though, are a little more interesting. Again, not necessarily surprising, but if you want to see the Republican policy world in a nutshell, this is it. TPM has identified them:

    Both men have doctorate degrees in economics and are well-known in the conservative media world as die-hard proponents of the free market’s ability to right itself without government bailouts when the crisis hit in late 2008.

    [Cliff] Asness, who ordered the wine and who, according to Feinberg was the one who said “Fuck her,” is better known as a high-profile hedge fund manager. Asness founded and runs AQR Capital, which manages an estimated $26 billion in a variety of traditional products and hedge funds, and his life story has been the subject of numerous books and articles about the rise and fall of Wall Street. He’s also grabbed headlines for being one of the most voluble opponents of President Obama’s economic policies.


    [John] Cochrane, the other, more tempered dinner companion, is the AQR Capital Management Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago, an apparent tip of the hat to the contributions Asness’ AQR Capital Management has made to the Booth School of Business there.

    Matt Yglesias looks at one of Cochrane’s pet theories, “a novel model of fiscal and monetary policy in a recession that has the convenient property of affirming all of Rep Ryan’s political views,” and argues that:

    you might be a freshwater economist if you think it makes sense to reassure us that a deflationary spiral is impossible because your model says so even though deflationary spirals do, in fact, occur in human history. To me, a model that denies the possibility of something happening that does, in fact, happen indicates that you’re working with a flawed model.

    Hedge fund billionaires make giant contributions to elite universities and get like-minded professors hired to named chairs. (The Koch brothers have been doing this with a vengeance.) Together, they influence politicians, who set the economic agenda in Congress and to a great extent in the media. That is how it works, how our public discourse on the economy is shaped, and it starts with money.

    Again, this is not shocking, but the very baldness of what’s we’re seeing in this particular case is a helpful reminder of the myriad ways money buys access. It’s not just campaign contributions or even the promise of high-paying jobs to politicians who’ve left office. Money buys experts. It buys credentials like named chairs for the experts you, as a billionaire, want to be influential. And then you and your pet expert go to a nice dinner and drink $350 bottles of wine with a high-profile member of Congress and when he cites the ideas you were pushing, he’s not citing some self-interested hedge fund guy, he’s citing a University of Chicago economics professor.,-not-the-$350-wine,-are-the-story?via=blog_1

  81. rikyrah says:

    When S’Mores Aren’t Enough: The New Economics of Summer Camp

    Published: July 9, 2011

    MICKEY BLACK, in khaki shorts and a polo shirt, is pacing the crossroads at Pine Forest Camp.

    Up to the flagpole, down the hill to the dining hall. Up to the basketball court, down to the infirmary.

    On this cloudless late June morning, here amid the knotty pine bungalows and the electric campfire, Mr. Black is anxious.

    He has the right: about 450 children — the happy and the homesick, the coiffed and the bed-headed, the hearty and the stuffy-nosed and the (God forbid) contagious — are about to descend on him.

    And those campers, for better and worse, are Mr. Black’s customers, the under-10s and tweens and teens who will determine whether his multimillion-dollar-a-year enterprise prospers or, like so many others, struggles to survive.

    Pine Forest Camp is about to open for the summer.

    “This is the lonely, awkward time for a camp director,” Mr. Black says, as he awaits 18 busloads of campers from Philadelphia, Manhattan, New Jersey and beyond. Somewhere a woodpecker rat-a-tat-tats. A lawnmower executes a figure-eight.

    The campers are due here in the Pocono Mountains in two hours. First impressions — an enthusiastic welcome from a counselor, say, or an unhappy bus ride — often determine whether a child goes home happy or disappointed, Mr. Black says. And that, in turn, can determine whether that camper, that customer, ever comes back.

    The pressure is on as never before. The tight economy has made private traditional sleep-away camps like Pine Forest seem even more of a luxury, even for many upper-middle-class families who have sent their children to such programs for generations. All the usual business headaches — personnel, logistics, marketing, customer service — matter more than ever.

    But beyond the slack economy is a profound change in the business of summer camp. As in just about every industry, slick, nimble upstarts are muscling in on the establishment. These newcomers hold out 21st-century promises: We can groom the modern organization kid, hone lacrosse skills, improve algebra, pad the high-school résumé.

    No more the quaint summer idyll of lake and volleyball and s’mores. Today, former Brazilian pros coach soccer camp, Oscar winners officiate at film camp, computer game developers teach tech camp — all the better, the pitches go, to get Holly or Howie into Harvard, or at least to sharpen their skills.

    All this at a time when the Pine Forests of the world are being squeezed on all sides. High or rising prices for basic items like food and gasoline are pinching profit margins. It is, industry analysts say, a matter of survival of the fittest.

    Mr. Black, a lone figure in a temporarily unpopulated landscape, is waiting by the flagpole on this morning, the last Saturday in June, when the walkie-talkie on his belt crackles.

    It’s the front office: traffic police in Manhattan are threatening to arrest the driver of a Pine Forest bus who has parked near the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It seems that the location is a no-standing zone.

    Mr. Black foresees a big fine. Worse, he worries that the campers may get off to a bad start.

    “I don’t even care about the money,” he says. “I just want to get them out of there.”

    WHEN Mickey Black’s grandfather, Hughie, opened Pine Forest in 1931, a two-month summer session here cost $85, about $1,264 in today’s dollars. The Black family’s camp survived the Great Depression and World War II, polio scares and hurricanes, Vietnam and Woodstock, its own Great Dining Hall Fire of 1984, 9/11 and now the Great Recession.

    But in an age of hyperparenting, Facebook and Twitter, texting and sexting, running a traditional camp is far more complicated and expensive than it used to be.

    This year, a seven-week session at Pine Forest costs $9,700, a big-ticket price for a rustic canoe-and-campfire experience. (Some camps charge even more.)

    And many parents, Mr. Black says, want something more for their money. They want their children to come home with a better tennis serve, say, or a stronger backstroke, or perhaps a better technique for making chocolate soufflé.

  82. rikyrah says:

    8 July 2011 Last updated at 13:20 ET

    Phone hacking: The main players

    More than 4,000 people have been indentified as potential victims of phone hacking at the News of the World. Explore the pictures below to see those touched by the scandal. For more detailed information, see our full table.

    Key figures

    The News of the World (NoW) was part of Rupert Murdoch’s News International newspaper group – itself the UK arm of the media mogul’s News Corporation global empire. Former NoW editor Rebekah Brooks is its current chief executive. On 8 July, another ex-NoW editor, Andy Coulson, was arrested and later bailed in connection with the hacking allegations. Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire has served a prison sentence for his part in the scandal.


    Ex-NoW royal editor Clive Goodman was jailed in 2007 for intercepting messages, while NoW journalists Ian Edmondson, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup, along with Press Association reporter Laura Elston, have been arrested and bailed in connection with the hacking claims. Alex Marunchak denies receiving unlawfully obtained material. Other NoW journalists, Sean Hoare and Paul McMullan, have spoken about hacking at the paper.

    Victims and alleged victims
    Members of the public

    It was the claims that the NoW hacked into the phones of those affected by crime, the families of 7/7 victims and the relatives of the armed forces that led the government to announce a public inquiry. Among those believed to have been targeted are murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, the parents of Soham girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman and the spokesman for missing Madeleine McCann’s family

  83. rikyrah says:

    New Hampshire Defunds Planned Parenthood, Tells Women: If You Want To Party, ‘Don’t Ask Me To Pay For It’

    By Igor Volsky on Jul 11, 2011 at 9:02 am

    “Planned Parenthood has stopped providing birth control pills and other contraception in New Hampshire after the state’s executive council rejected up to $1.8 million in funding for the group” because it also provides privately-funded abortions. After losing its contract — which paid for education, distributing contraception, and the testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections — the centers have “turned away 20 to 30 patients a day who have arrived to refill their birth control prescriptions”:

    Last year, Planned Parenthood provided contraception for 13,242 patients in New Hampshire, [CEO of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Steve]Trombley said. The organization also provided 6,112 breast exams, 5,548 screenings for cervical cancer and 18,858 tests for sexually transmitted infections. If the contract is not renewed, Planned Parenthood will drastically reduce its services, Trombley said. The organization employs 80 people in New Hampshire. […]

    Stephanie Hiltunen, a 26-year-old who lives in Hanover, said she picked up a monthlong supply of birth control last Thursday, the day before the center stopped dispensing it. But future refills will require an inconvenient trip to Enfield, she said. Hiltunen said she would like to have a child but cannot afford it, and she worries there will be a public cost if contraception is inaccessible to low-income women.

    “If they can’t afford to have a baby, then we’ll be paying for them in the long run,” she said.

    Some women have told the center that the will likely “stop taking birth control because they cannot afford the higher prices charged by pharmacies” and an estimated 70 percent don’t have insurance to cover the prescriptions.

    New Hampshire’s Council rejected the contract in a 3-2 vote, arguing that taxpayers should not fund abortions or so-called irresponsible behavior. “I am opposed to abortion,” said Raymond Wieczorek, a council member who voted against the contract. “I am opposed to providing condoms to someone. If you want to have a party, have a party, but don’t ask me to pay for it.”

    • What about women who use birth control meds to balance their hormones or even out their cycles or who should not get pregnant for health reasons?

      I marched in a few “Take Back the Night” walks to protest rape and abuse of women. We really need to have some real militant “Take back our Bodies” marches. I’m so sick of these pendejos crawling right up women’s vaginas.

  84. rikyrah says:

    Pro-Voucher Tea Party Group Admits It Wants To ‘Shut Down Public Schools And Have Private Schools Only’

    By Zaid Jilani on Jul 11, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    As ThinkProgress has documented, a tightly-knit group of right-wing Political Action Committees (PACs) and corporate foundations have unleashed an assault on public education, pushing school voucher schemes nationwide that would funnell taxpayer dollars away from public schools and toward private schools instead. In doing so, many of these voucher advocates claim they simply want to expand school choice and improve the quality of education for all.

    Yet one group that has been influential in the school voucher push — the Independence Hall Tea Party, which has run a major PAC that operates in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania — is finally admitting that its true goal is to abolish public education.

    In a series of e-mails and interviews, Teri Adams, the president of the Independence Hall Tea Party Association, explains that her organization is involved in its voucher advocacy because it believes “public schools should go away.” Adams said that their ultimate goal is to “shut down public schools and have private schools only“:

    “We think public schools should go away,’’ says Teri Adams, the head of the Independence Hall Tea Party and a leading advocate — both in New Jersey and Pennsylvania — of passage of school voucher bills. The tea party operates in those two states and Delaware. They should “go away,” she says, because “they are hurting our children.’’ […] Adams says the current voucher program “discriminates” against wealthier students by providing public subsidies only to inner-city children in allegedly failing schools. Her group’s e-mails pushing vouchers caught the attention of James Kovalcin of South Brunswick, a retired public school teacher who asked Adams for clarification. She responded via email: “Our ultimate goal is to shut down public schools and have private schools only, eventually returning responsibility for payment to parents and private charities. It’s going to happen piecemeal and not overnight. It took us years to get into this mess and it’s going to take years to get out of it.”

    “It’s refreshing to see a vouchers promoter who is honest about her real intent — to destroy public education,” responded Julia Rubin, a spokeswoman for Save Our Schools, a New Jersey organization that is opposing the voucher push in the state. “Fortunately, most New Jersey residents understand how devastating vouchers would be for our excellent public schools.

  85. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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