Sunday Open Thread

Edwin Hawkins (born 18 August 1943, Oakland, California) is a Grammy Award-winning American gospel and R&B musician, pianist, choir master, composer and arranger. He is one of the originators of the urban contemporary gospel sound. He (and the Edwin Hawkins Singers) are best known for his arrangement of “Oh Happy Day” (1968–69), which was included on the Songs of the Century list. The Edwin Hawkins Singers made a second foray into the charts a year later, backing folk singer Melanie on “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)“.

At the age of seven Hawkins was already the keyboardist to accompany the family’s gospel choir. Together with Betty Watson, he was the co-founder of the Northern California State Youth Choir of the Church of God in Christ, which included almost 50 members.[1] This ensemble recorded its first album Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord at the Ephesian Church of God in Christ in Berkeley, California, hoping to sell 500 copies. “Oh Happy Day” was just one of the eight songs on the album.

About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
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80 Responses to Sunday Open Thread

  1. Jon Huntsman Says “Guilty as Charged” to Ending Medicare as We Know It

  2. ThinkProgress: WSJ editorial reveals it’s unable to transcend the scandal, functioning as propaganda outlet for News Corp

  3. Breaking News: President Obama making personal announcement in Rose Garden tomorrow afternoon – NBC News

  4. Sen. Dick Durbin Calls for Congressional and FBI Investigations Into Rupert Murdoch

    Let the hammer fall..

  5. It’s hotter than hell’s door hinges here….

  6. Ametia says:

    DealBook Portraits: Elizabeth Warren

    Once a Wall Street lawyer, Elizabeth Warren was selected by President Obama to set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She talks about her work to organize the bureau amid heavy opposition

  7. Ametia says:

    Ousted Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak has lapsed into a coma after months of ill health, his attorney and a hospital official said Sunday.
    The 83-year-old ex-ruler fell into a coma around noon (6 a.m. ET), Mubarak lawyer Farid El Deeb told CNN. Hospital officials initially denied the report to Egypt’s state-run Nile TV, but Mohamed Fathalla, the head of the Sharm el-Sheikh facility where Mubarak was being held, confirmed Mubarak’s condition Sunday evening.
    Mubarak faces trial in August on charges of ordering police to kill anti-government protesters during the uprising that forced him from office in February. He faces a possible death sentence if convicted.
    He was hospitalized after suffering heart palpitations in April and has been struggling with complications from stomach cancer, his family lawyer said in June.
    Mubarak stepped down February 11 after an 18-day uprising during which pro-democracy protesters dem anded a change in government and reforms. Egypt is now ruled by a military council and a caretaker Cabinet, which has promised reform and new elections.
    Mubarak’s sons, Gama and Alaa, also face corruption charges.

  8. rikyrah says:

    found this quote about the Murdoch scandal over at Balloon Juice:

    Love this quote from Wolcott:

    If the fall of the house of Murdoch is a tragedy, it’s the feel-good tragedy of the century.

  9. rikyrah says:

    Rupert Murdoch’s empire must be dismantled – Ed Miliband

    Labour leader urges for new media ownership rules saying News Corporation chief has too much power in the UK

    Ed Miliband has demanded the breakup of Rupert Murdoch’s UK media empire in a dramatic intervention in the row over phone hacking.

    In an exclusive interview with the Observer, the Labour leader calls for cross-party agreement on new media ownership laws that would cut Murdoch’s current market share, arguing that he has “too much power over British public life”.

    Miliband says that the abandonment by News International of its bid for BSkyB, the resignation of its chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, and the closure of the News of the World are insufficient to restore trust and reassure the public.

    The Labour leader argues that current media ownership rules are outdated, describing them as “analogue rules for a digital age” that do not take into account the advent of mass digital and satellite broadcasting.

    “I think that we’ve got to look at the situation whereby one person can own more than 20% of the newspaper market, the Sky platform and Sky News,” Miliband said. “I think it’s unhealthy because that amount of power in one person’s hands has clearly led to abuses of power within his organisation. If you want to minimise the abuses of power then that kind of concentration of power is frankly quite dangerous.”

    The move takes Miliband’s campaign against the abuse of media power to new heights after a fortnight in which he has reinvigorated his own leadership by leading the attack on the Murdoch empire. While he insisted that the recently announced inquiries should take their course, the Labour leader said he hoped the main parties could agree on a common approach.

    His latest intervention, as a poll on Saturday night showed his personal rating up seven points on a month ago, comes ahead of what promises to be a dramatic appearance by Rupert Murdoch, his son James, the chief executive of News Corporation Europe and Asia, and Brooks before the Commons culture, media and sport committee.

    Committee members preparing to grill the trio are to be given legal advice on the morning of the hearing on how far they can push the News Corp boss and his son for answers. The committee’s chairman, the Tory MP John Whittingdale, has asked for details of their lines of questioning to avoid duplication.

    News Corp is understood to be concerned that the committee will set a trap by asking questions the Murdochs are unable to answer due to the continuing criminal investigations and are taking advice on how to avoid yet another public relations disaster as the company attempts to rebuild its reputation.

    Further pressure was piled on Murdoch after the Liberal Democrats wrote to the media regulator, Ofcom, urging it to launch an investigation that could see his holding company, News Corp, forced to sell its stake in satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

    The Broadcasting Act places a duty on the regulator to consider “any relevant conduct of those who manage and control such a licence”.

    Although News Corp, whose News International subsidiary owned the News of the World, has only a minority 39% share in BSkyB, the Lib Dems argue the company is “strongly placed materially to influence the policy and strategic direction of BSkyB”, suggesting the regulator is duty bound to investigate.

  10. rikyrah says:

    Bachmann Preemptively Ditches Her Church To Avoid Association With Its Radical Views

    By Marie Diamond on Jul 16, 2011 at 8:04 am

    GOP presidential contender Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and her husband Marcus preemptively left their church of more than ten years just weeks before she announced her candidacy to avoid association with its extremist views. Salem Lutheran Church in Stillwater, Minnesota, has faced criticism this week for its anti-Catholic views, including preaching that the Pope is the Antichrist.

    Bachmann has long been a favorite of religious conservatives for her outspoken views on her faith, but her decision to sever ties with her church for the sake of her presidential campaign is surprising many:

    According to CNN, the church that Michele Bachmann and her husband Marcus had attended for more than a decade, Salem Lutheran in Stillwater, Minn., granted the couple’s request to be released from their membership last month, a week after Bachmann told a national audience that she would run for the Republican presidential nomination.

    The Bachmanns had approached their pastor and verbally made the request “a few weeks before the church council granted the request,” said Joel Hochmuth, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the governing body for the church.

    Bachmann had apparently been distancing herself from the church for some time. Hochmuth said the couple had not been worshiping with the congregation in more than two years.

    “We identify the Antichrist as the Papacy,” the denomination’s website says. “This is an historical judgment based on Scripture.” Bachmann has been questioned about her church’s beliefs for years and denounced their anti-Catholicism when she was running for Congress in 2006.

    “It’s abhorrent, it’s religious bigotry,” Bachmann said then. “I love Catholics, I’m a Christian, and my church does not believe that the pope is the antichrist, that’s absolutely false.” She remained a member of the church for years after, but as Bachmann’s political ambitions got bigger, she began to distance herself. When she decided to run for president, Bachmann seemed to realize she could no longer belong to an organization that formally endorses intolerance.

    The highly convenient timing of the move clearly indicates this was a shrewd political calculation on Bachmann’s part. It remains to be seen how religious “values voters” will feel about the candidate choosing political opportunism over her church. On the campaign trail Bachmann frequently invokes her faith and proudly speaks about coming to Christ at the age of 16.

    CNN notes that Salem Lutheran Church still maintains some ties with the Bachmann family. “It lists a Christian counseling center operated by Bachmann’s husband on its website under special member services for confidential counseling.”

    Bachmann must still account for her ongoing connection with other radical preachers and churches, especially Bradlee Dean of the notoriously anti-gay You Can Run But You Can’t Hide ministry. Dean has been described as “Bachmann’s Jeremiah Wright,” and has repeatedly called for gays and lesbians to be put in prison and has said executing gays is “moral.”

  11. rikyrah says:

    The Ben Bradlee of Phone Hacking
    ‘Guardian’ editor Alan Rusbridger wouldn’t let investigation die
    By Dylan Byers

    Rupert Murdoch has met his match.

    For years now, the News Corp. head has seemed bulletproof, or at least Teflon-coated; scandal has seemingly slid right off him. But suddenly the ongoing furor over phone hacking in the U.K. has put his media empire in real peril. His News of the World has been closed down. His $12 billion deal to take over all of British Sky Broadcasting has been scrapped. Some of his closest associates—even his son James—are at serious risk. And none of that would have happened were it not for the fierce, dogged persistence of Alan Rusbridger and The Guardian, the newspaper he runs.

    Rusbridger has been at The Guardian for decades;

    And he’s had plenty of success in that time. (Rusbridger and The Guardian have, for instance, played a pivotal role in the Wikileaks saga.) But none of it compares to this. By the time the dust settles, the paper may well have brought down, virtually single-handedly, not just a media giant but an entire government. But this moment in the sun for Rusbridger and The Guardian comes at a time when the paper itself is facing an uncertain future. A trust that has kept the paper alive is drying up, the parent company’s losses totaled $53 million last year alone, and layoffs are imminent. But as his recent coup shows, though the walls may sometimes be crumbling around him, Rusbridger is committed to forging ahead, to pursuing major investigations even when no one else is paying attention.

    “I had lots of conversations with people who appeared not to want to listen to what we were saying, including the future Prime Minister [David Cameron],” Rusbridger said. “That went for the police, that went for the MPs, it went for the regulator, and it went for other journalists. So we said, ‘If we’re going to do this, we’re going to have to do it alone.’”

    Like many of his employees, Rusbridger is practically a lifelong Guardian man. He joined the paper as a reporter in 1979 and has been there ever since. “Alan has spent almost all of his professional life at The Guardian, and has been editor for 16 years,” New York Times executive editor Bill Keller observed in an email to Adweek, “which means it is Alan’s Guardian in a sense that few other papers are creatures of their editor.”

    That’s true. But if you had to pick a man for this role from Central Casting, you almost certainly wouldn’t pick Rusbridger. Ben Bradlee, The Washington Post editor who ran that other legendary investigation once upon a time, was a man who looked the part—the kind of man who, his own reporters once said, would “grind his cigarettes out in a demitasse cup during a formal dinner party.” Rusbridger, 57, is different—he looks more like Harry Potter’s lonely uncle than the kind of man capable of bringing down Rupert Murdoch.

    But he was willing to stick with the phone hacking scandal even when it seemed like no one outside The Guardian cared at all. All told, the paper has been on this story for five years now. Though it looks like a wise investment in retrospect, those were five years during which Rusbridger was sacrificing not only money but the time and efforts of some of his best reporters for a story that could very well have gone nowhere.

    “As an organization, you have to have the patience to let a story unfold at its own pace,” Rusbridger says. “Investigations are not over in a day. You have to build incrementally, story by story, fact by fact. You have to have the patience to stick with a story even if it’s taking a very long time and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.”

    Beyond patience, Rusbridger has an almost religious commitment to progressive, investigative reporting. (Last year, he left the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee when the Press Complaints Commission’s investigation into phone hacking at News of the World proved to be, in his words, “worse than pointless.”) Despite the “low-level anxiety” that he admits comes with standing up to a media baron like Murdoch, he says he had no doubts about the story’s eventual success.

    “The moment we knew about the James Murdoch hush money payment in July 2009,” he said, “and people then started piling in with their own civil actions, we thought, ‘Even if other journalists are not going to take this very seriously, initially, the process of the law will unravel this case.’ So I always knew it was going to unravel entirely; it was just a case of what the time scale was.”

    It was a risky move because time is not on The Guardian’s side right now. The Scott Trust, which has funded the paper since 1936, is running out. Last year, anticipating that the fund will go dry “in three to five years,” The Guardian announced that it was adopting a “digital-first strategy.” The plan calls for digital revenues to nearly double by 2016, from £47 million to £91 million. It also calls for a dramatic reduction in staff.

    “We’ve been very frank about the money worries we have, which aren’t life-threatening, but make us a bit anxious because of all the things that we see happening to all newspapers,” Rusbridger said. “But it’s a very solid organization, with more than £1 billion of reserves, or value, behind it. So there’s no threat to it; it’s just we have to be realistic about the speed at which we change.”

    Keller characterizes The Guardian’s position more harshly. “Print circulation is declining,” he said. “You have seen, no doubt, that they are headed for ‘significant’ layoffs, from a staff that is not all that big to begin with. And their hopes of compensating with online revenue are still just that, hopes.”

  12. rikyrah says:

    The Murdoch Maelstrom Comes West
    Did News Corp. properties break any U.S. laws? By Brian Braiker

    Editors at the New York Post pulled junior staffers into two closed-door meetings on Tuesday and told them, “We have to be on our P’s and Q’s and not engage in any kind of obvious, unethical journalistic things,” according to a source close to the Post.

    Which is perhaps to be expected. As the British phone hacking scandal that has brought Rupert Murdoch’s media empire to its knees continues to engulf the embattled mogul and his U.K. company, one question is riveting American media watchers and lawmakers: What, exactly, went down in Murdoch’s U.S. newsrooms?

  13. creolechild says:

    Here’s Jon B and Tupac. Have a great Sunday everyone!

  14. creolechild says:

    Remember this?

  15. creolechild says:

    Here’s Mike Phillips with Will You Stick With With Me…

  16. creolechild says:

    Let Me Break It Down To You…Vertical Hold.

  17. creolechild says:

    Here’s Tyrese, singing Lately.

  18. creolechild says:

    How about some music? This should wake y’all up…

  19. creolechild says:

    It’s official. The Wall Street Journal has been Fox-ified. It took Rupert Murdoch only three and a half years to get there, starting with the moment he acquired the paper from the dysfunctional Bancroft family in December 2007, a purchase that was completed after he vowed to protect The Journal’s editorial integrity and agreed to a (toothless) board that was supposed to make sure he kept that promise.

    Fat chance of that. Within five months, Murdoch had fired the editor and installed his close friend Robert Thomson, fresh from a stint Fox-ifying The Times of London. The new publisher was Leslie Hinton, former boss of the division that published Murdoch’s British newspapers, including The News of the World. (He resigned on Friday.) Soon came the changes, swift and sure: shorter articles, less depth, an increased emphasis on politics and, weirdly, sometimes surprisingly unsophisticated coverage of business.

    Along with the transformation of a great paper into a mediocre one came a change that was both more subtle and more insidious. The political articles grew more and more slanted toward the Republican party line. The Journal sometimes took to using the word “Democrat” as an adjective instead of a noun, a usage favored by the right wing. In her book, “War at The Wall Street Journal,” Sarah Ellison recounts how editors inserted the phrase “assault on business” in an article about corporate taxes under President Obama. The Journal was turned into a propaganda vehicle for its owner’s conservative views. That’s half the definition of Fox-ification.


    ….The two most obvious questions — When did Murdoch first learn of the phone hacking at The News of the World? And when did he learn that reporters were bribing police officers for information? — went unasked. The Journal reporter had either been told not to ask those questions, or instinctively knew that he shouldn’t. It is hard to know which is worse. The dwindling handful of great journalists who remain at the paper — Mark Maremont, Alan Murray and Alix Freedman among them — must be hanging their heads in shame.

    To tell you the truth, I’m hanging my head in shame too. Four years ago, when Murdoch was battling recalcitrant members of the Bancroft family to gain control of The Journal, which he had long lusted after and which he viewed as the vehicle that would finally allow him to go
    head-to-head against The New York Times, I wrote several columns saying that he would be a better owner than the Bancrofts.


  20. creolechild says:

    While Americans Go Hungry, Sarah Palin Spends $14,000 on Stickers for Bus


    According to a list of itemized expenditures filed by SarahPAC to the Federal Elections Committee and published Thursday, Palin’s committee spent nearly $14,000 on the “bus wrap,” according to the Washington Post. In case you didn’t get that due to spitting your Starbucks latte across the computer screen, Sarah Palin squandered $14,000 to essentially pimp out an RV and make it look like a 10 year old school girl’s bookbinder on wheels–all for the exhilaration of trying to best her evil, dumber twin, Michele Bachmann, as well as to steal attention from the REAL Republican presidential candidates. After all, she’s been pimping out America for the past three years.

    So while Americans are diving into dumpsters to feed their families; while citizens with advanced college degrees either remain unemployed or work at Taco Bell; while seniors are being told that they have to sacrifice their medicare in order to make rich people even richer and to keep war profiteers at Halliburton happy as two (or is it three?) pointless wars rage on; and while young women seeking birth control so as to prevent unnecessary economic burdens are being casted aside, the quitting, American history butchering grifter from Alaska is spending $14,000 on crappy stickers in a transparently vain effort to keep her ego relevant as her Reality TV star status is rapidly falling.


  21. creolechild says:

    The bad news just keeps on coming for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose bid for the Republican presidential nomination has become an instant classic for train wreck aficionados.

    The AP reports Gingrich’s campaign is more than $1 million in debt, already. Here’s the breakdown from the AP, which got a look at Gingrich’s financials:

    The former House speaker’s campaign raised $2.1 million since he got into the race earlier this year. But he spent $1.8 million, and listed $1.03 million in debt, including more than $100,000 in legal fees. Gingrich listed $322,222 cash on hand.

    Gingrich is struggling in polls, struggling with keeping staff, struggling with message and, it seems, now he’s struggling with money.


  22. creolechild says:

    The official unemployment rate is 9.2 percent, with 14.1 million people officially unemployed. Adding in underemployed and discouraged workers raises the unemployment rate to 16.2 percent, and 6.3 million people have been out of work for six months or more. There are 4.7 job seekers for every job.

    In that context, the National Employment Law Project’s finding widespread discrimination against unemployed jobseekers is especially troubling:

    NELP’s snapshot of jobs postings identified more than 150 ads that included exclusions based on current employment status, including 125 ads that identified specific companies by name. The overwhelming majority of the offending ads required that applicants “must be currently employed.” and accounted for more than 75 percent of the exclusionary ads NELP identified. Staffing firms were prominently represented among those companies identified with the practice of excluding unemployed job seekers, accounting for about half of all the postings.

    Significantly, the fact that NELP’s relatively limited research yielded such a broad cross-section of exclusionary ads—with postings for jobs throughout the United States, by small, medium and large employers, for white collar, blue collar, and service sector jobs, at virtually every skill level—suggests that the practice of excluding unemployed job seekers could be far more extensive than depicted in this limited sample.

    Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Hank Johnson (D-GA) have introduced the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 in the House: The Fair Employment Opportunity Act will prevent employers and employment agencies from refusing to consider or offer employment to someone who is unemployed, or including language in any job advertisements or postings that states unemployed individuals are not qualified….


    Read more:

  23. rikyrah says:

    Yes, I’ll dare call it treason
    The Republican Party no longer has its country’s best interests at heart – and Americans suffer as a result.
    Once upon a time, in a land that now seems to have been populated by tooth fairies and unicorns, there was a political party that had a set of core beliefs to which they actually adhered.

    Among them was that actually balancing the budget, as opposed to just talking about it, was sacrosanct. Slow change, while necessary, had to be balanced against the traditions of the United States, ones that had mostly served us well over two centuries.

    Foreign military adventures should be limited to our national security interests. And one of the single most important components of diplomacy was protecting the economic interests not only of an elite few, but of the great many Americans who toiled in our factories and fields.

    This party was known as the Republican Party, and while one might have disagreed with them on their policy prescriptions to cure any particular US ill, one could at least see some logic in their beliefs and understand that they – with some obvious exceptions from time to time (ahem, Joseph McCarthy, ahem) – were doing what they thought was right for the United States of America.

    Today, this once respectable organization has turned into nothing so much as a collective id the size of a David Vitter Pampers shopping spree. When facing changes to this nation that make them uncomfortable, they choose national hate. When facing ideological worship versus the greatness of the US, the former always wins the day. When facing a choice of what is good for the US or their personal bank accounts, they inevitably go with the latter.

    Every. Single. Time.

    In simple terms: We, the people of the United States, are the maid. The GOP is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Any questions?

    The one caveat is that it’s not Republicans, so much as the forces of the anti-American, gun-toting, religious and corporate Right that have taken over the GOP who are responsible for papa’s brand new bag. The Right is Darth Sidious to the GOP’s Anakin Skywalker, Angelina Jolie to foreign-born children.

    And yes, sadly, the Dark Lord has also sunk his hooks into quite a few in the Democratic Party, just somewhat less in number and relevance.

    Charter members of this anti-American Right include the National Rifle Association, whose executive vice president-cum-Waldo impersonator, Wayne LaPierre, pushes new and more deadly weaponry into the hands of American criminals and terrorists without a first thought of the common good of his country. Giddily referring to US law enforcement agents as “jack-booted thugs”, and using fear of a black president to encourage the militia mentality among his most deranged (and armed) followers, his reign at the NRA has facilitated their retreat into revolutionary rhetoric, which has included plans by associated paramilitary groups to kill police officers and government officials.

    Not so good for the US, but great for selling weapons to support LaPierre’s $1.27m salary, as well as NRA board members who earn a paycheck by owning companies that pay their bonuses based on firearm sales.

    It also includes the “pro-business” Right’s support for finishing a four-decade quest to hollow out US manufacturing and destroy what was once, as succinctly put by polymath and top-rated progressive radio host Thom Hartmann, “the American way of life”. A few elite moneymen get rich, while the United States’ ability to create things that don’t come with fries or an apple pie, once a source of great pride to, you know, Americans, has gone off clubbing with Casey Anthony.

    No political will to fix US infrastructure

    Last week, China broke the record for the longest sea bridge in the world with the opening of the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge. Quite symbolically, it passed Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, which had previously held the record.

    You’d think that this, in and of itself, would pain those on the Republican Right and their friends among the Blue Dog Democrats, “patriots” who never hesitate to tout American greatness. But for some reason – perhaps campaign contributions make a soothing bubble bath? – their refusal to fund the slightest hint of improvement or addition to US infrastructure is allowing it to collapse quicker than John Boehner at an all-you-can-drink Margarita marathon at Bahama Mama’s.

    We used to make big things in the US, often with direct government investment. Whether it was the federal highway system, the Sears Tower, or the Golden Gate Bridge – these were not small undertakings. It was a proven method of creating jobs and wealth, as well as a source of national pride.

    These days, it’s the historical blindness and hatred of any spending contained in a philosophy that underpins simplistic calls for “austerity”. Contained in budgets written by small-minded men such as Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, it has seen corporate cybernetic organisms posing as legislators do what once would have been unthinkable: pave the way for Chinese exceptionalism.

    US slipping in quality-of-life indicators

    Yet perhaps right-wingers’ work to undermine America is nowhere as evident as it is in the everyday indicators of how we are doing as a country. Whether it is the World Health Organization’s ranking the US in 37th place, our impressive 33rd place in children’s ability to navigate math and science, or 39th place in our environmental quality (we’re still two spots ahead of Cuba!), I simply don’t understand how one can claim to love the US and blithely ignore or work to exacerbate these indicators by gutting government every day.

    But then again, what should we expect from a movement whose leaders, such as that dimwitted dolt known as Texas Governor Rick Perry, openly discuss secession? Or, as I pointed out in last week’s column, the blood diamond-accruing conman Pat Robertson, who has wished Sodom-like destruction on the United States, because gay couples in New York now have the right to marry?

    Secession? Destruction? There used to be a term to describe people who wished these tragedies would befall their own country. Today that term is “Republican presidential candidate”, whether from the recent past (Robertson in 1988) and potentially – God help us – the future (Perry in 2012).

    Lest one think this list is biased, I have not even gone into the details of the outing of an undercover CIA agent (see Karl Rove) or the Right’s current crusade to make the US default on its debt (and Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s incentive to profit off of this, as he has shorted US treasury bonds in his personal investment portfolio).

    Humorist and writer Leo Rosten once said that “a conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they’re dead”. Today, however, the love for radicals and radicalism is alive and kicking on the Right, and sadly for the US, it doesn’t seem ready to die anytime soon.

  24. creolechild says:

    “Here is a brief video clip from my recent appearance at a fundraiser for Community Change, in Boston. I am discussing the recent Newsweek cover story about the recession and “beached white males,” and the way the authors missed the real story. It’s not that white men are the hardest hit in this recession–they aren’t by a long shot–but because of privilege and entitlement, they have had the hardest time coping with the exigencies of an imploding economy…sadly, instead of using the experience to foment solidarity with folks of color, many are missing the
    larger lessons…” –

  25. rikyrah says:

    Political Animal
    July 17, 2011 10:15 AM

    Where things stand

    By Steve Benen

    On Friday morning, President Obama told reporters that he’d urged congressional leader to identify a plan on how to proceed on the debt limit “over the next 24 to 36 hours.”

    As is now clear, that deadline, like all of the previous deadlines, has come and gone. Republican leaders have been in contact with White House officials and Democratic leaders — House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesperson told reporters yesterday that “meetings have been occurring” — but meaningful progress is elusive.

    That said, it’d be an exaggeration to say everyone has returned to their respective corners. I’m not sure what more there is to talk about, but as the pressure increases and the deadline craws closer, at least there’s a flurry of activity.

    Following President Barack Obama’s meeting Thursday with congressional leaders, “activity and progress” has been made in deficit discussions, White House budget director Jack Lew said Sunday.

    Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Lew said congressional leaders are engaged in “substantial conversations to make sure that as a minimum” they raise the debt limit and establish committees to find spending cuts.

    “Quite a bit has been going on since the meeting,” Lew said, adding that it’s “not insignificant” that leaders understand that the debt limit needs to be extended on Aug. 2.

    The Washington Post, meanwhile, reports the ambitious “Grand Bargain” still has its champions, even if no one thinks it can happen before the debt-ceiling deadline. The idea, apparently, is to draw up a blueprint, “possibly by the end of the year,” once the current crisis is resolved (if the current crisis is resolved).

    I’m sure the main players in this process know far more about the intricacies of these talks than I do, but from my limited vantage point, I’m at a loss to understand how anyone actually hopes to achieve such a compromise in this Congress. It’s not as if House Republicans are suddenly going to become reasonable later this year.

    In the meantime, in the very short term, John Podesta believes the McConnell/Reid “Plan B” compromise is probably the only way to prevent a disaster. Given Podesta’s knowledge of the White House’s thinking, I’m inclined to believe him.

  26. creolechild says:

    Hit by the country’s economic slow-down, a majority of Americans do not plan to travel this summer, and most of those who will won’t be going far from home, according to a new poll. Over a third, or 34 percent, of people surveyed in a Marist poll said that they had changed their travel plans to save money. The telephone survey also showed that 55 percent of American adults won’t be booking any summer vacation plans at all, compared to 52 percent in the summer of 2010.

    “We’re continuing to see the effects of the economic slump on people’s vacation plans” said Dr. Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College poll. “People are reacting to the downturn and adjusting their vacation plans accordingly.” Of the 45 percent who do plan to travel, 41 percent said they were planning multiple short weekend trips, compared to 35 percent who wanted to go on at least one long trip.


  27. rikyrah says:

    July 17, 2011 10:40 AM

    Lindsey Graham: ‘We’re becoming Greece’

    By Steve Benen

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) appeared on CNN this morning, pushing the “Cut, Cap and Balance” approach debt reduction, the most right-wing approach possible. White House budget director Jack Lew had already explained that the plan would require brutal reductions to Medicare and Social Security, deeper than even Paul Ryan’s radical budget plan.

    Graham, whom the media establishment likes to pretend is a moderate, said he doesn’t care.

    Graham, in turn, said that the real threat to the nation is the burden of unsustainable debt.

    “What is calamitous is the path we’re on as a nation,” he said. “We’re becoming Greece.”

    New rule: every time a confused Republican lawmakers compare the United States’ fiscal conditions to that of Greece, an angel loses its wings.

    Look, the very idea is just crazy. The U.S. has extremely low interest rates and foreign investor are happy to loan us money; Greece has extremely high interest rates and no one is eager to loan the country money. The U.S. has our own currency; Greece has the Euro. We have a great credit rating (for now); Greece as an awful credit rating. We have a manageable debt; Greece has a debt crisis. We’re a large country with an enormous economy; Greece is a small country with a small economy. We have one of the world’s most stable systems of government (at least until six months ago); Greece’s government structure is a little shaky.

    For an elected American senator — and media darling — to tell a national television audience that the United States is “becoming Greece” is a clear signal: Lindsey Graham is not to be taken seriously on these issues.

    If Graham sincerely believes his own rhetoric, he has no idea what he’s talking about. If Graham is just playing some kind of cynical game, he’s a hack.

    And just as an aside, it’s awfully amusing to hear Republicans whine incessantly for weeks about “scare tactics,” only to run to the cameras to cry that the United States is turning into Greece. If GOP officials want to engage in demagoguery, they shouldn’t complain about demagoguery. And if they are going to go down this road, Republicans should at least try not to lie so shamelessly.

  28. creolechild says:

    Relatives and supporters of the thousands of reported hunger striking California prisoners warn that some inmates are “getting sicker and weaker, with some nearing severe dehydration”, according to Southern California Public Radio. The inmates began refusing food on July 1 to protest overcrowding and harsh conditions inside the state’s prisons. Prison authorities insist that no prisoners are in immediate medical crisis.

    The hunger strike is centered around the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay Prison, but has spread to a number of other prisons in the California corrections system. The Ocean Bay Rag blog reports that participants in the strike have rejected a vaguely worded offer by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) that promised to “effect a comprehensive assessment of its existing policy and procedure”, but did not guarantee that any action would be taken to affect changes in the system.

    The strikers, some of whom have reportedly lost up to 30 pounds in the two weeks since the strike began, have stuck to their original list of five demands. They have requested a ban on the controversial practice of “group discipline”, whereby entire groups are punished for the actions of one individual. They have asked for abolition of a policy called “debriefing” where former gang members are pressured to inform on other gang members and a re-evaluation of the criteria the state uses to determine whether an inmate is involved with gangs. And finally they have demanded adequate food as well as appropriate rehabilitative programs.


  29. creolechild says:

    Thank you, EricB!

    Krugman on the Republican Debt Ceiling Suicide Squad that controls the House.

    Why, yes, it has. But this isn’t something that just happened, it’s the culmination of a process that has been going on for decades. Anyone surprised by the extremism and irresponsibility now on display either hasn’t been paying attention, or has been deliberately turning a blind eye.

    And may I say to those suddenly agonizing over the mental health of one of our two major parties: People like you bear some responsibility for that party’s current state.

    He’s really talking about David Brooks, who about a week ago, wrote a column that said that the Republican Party may no longer exist as a coherent alternative governing model but as a gang of crazies hell bent on ripping apart anything that Democrats and Democratic voters like.

    First off, let’s just simply get out of the way that both of them are correct. The Republican Party has ceased to be a political party pushing forward an alternative governing model and has become nothing more than a gang of crazies hell bent on ripping to shreds anything that Democrats and Democratic voters like. The problem is that the GOP has been this way for quite some time and people like Brooks, who gets regularly linked to by progressive/liberal/Democratic/real centrist social media friends of mine, are guilty of providing cover to it.


    The response of the media in this state has been to enable it, and this cross across the political spectrum. We’ve talked here on this site about the David Broderism of political journalism, where both sides are always held equally guilty and no matter if one side is simply advocating something utterly insane both sides are expecting to come to the table in good faith and be willing to bargain. Somewhere in there, no matter if you feel the most likely compromise is not in the state’s best interests, is something called centrism which is supposed to be the first and most important goal of the political system. Somewhere down the line, you get to where a political system actually serves its citizens competently and efficiently.

    Practitioners of this sort of thing are just as guilty as Brooks of enabling fanatics to grab the reins of power, because they’ve pretended over the years, even as the GOP has become more extremist and far more to the right of where any logical concensus could be formed on how to govern, that it hasn’t happened.


  30. rikyrah says:

    Finding the Sweet-Spot

    by BooMan
    Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 09:44:30 AM EST
    If I were the editor of this Reid Wilson piece, I would have asked for at least one original quote on the record. Nevertheless, its reporting is decent and its analysis is correct.

    Privately, House Republicans have been driving home the message that a failure to increase the debt ceiling would be a disaster. Sources said Boehner has been “aggressive,” in one aide’s words, in articulating the need to reach a deal.

    In a presentation to the House Republican Conference on Friday, Jay Powell, a former Under Secretary at the Treasury Department under George H.W. Bush and a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center, laid out just what would happen if a deal isn’t reached.

    Time is winding down before the U.S. reaches the limits of its deficit spending. For Republican leadership, the goals in the critical week ahead will not only be to reach a compromise with the White House, but to lay the groundwork so that their own members accept the eventual deal. Given the reluctance of the membership itself to go along, and the pressure emanating from outside activists, it’s less clear whether it will be harder to reach agreement with Obama or with the new class in town.

    What’s missing is the arithmetic. We need to know the size of the Michele Bachmann contingent. In other words, how many House Republicans are actually going to vote against raising the debt ceiling as a matter of principle, regardless of the nature of the deal, the consequences for the country, and for the global economy? Several dozen have pledged to do so. This article paints the House leadership’s problem as exclusively one of trying to convert their own members. But it is likely that their problem is more difficult than that. They have 240 members in the House and need a majority of the 433 sitting members (217) to vote to give the president the authority to raise the debt ceiling. Once the infrastructure is in place, the House Republicans will be free to vote against actually raising it. If the Michele Bachmann contingent exceeds 23 members, they will need votes from Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats. And, regardless of how the numbers shake out in their own caucus, they have to deal with the Senate, which the Democrats nominally control.

    For the president, who has insisted that there be debt reduction in this deal that includes some tax revenue, his leverage comes from the lack of unity among House Republicans. Boehner has a hard enough time convincing his own caucus to raise the debt ceiling without having to try to get them to agree to some tax increases.

    He will hold some symbolic votes next week that will demonstrate what the House would do if it had the power to act alone. But, his real negotiations will be with Pelosi. Unless Boehner can convert more than a dozen members who have pledged not to raise the debt ceiling under any obtainable circumstances, he’s going to have to appease Pelosi to get the votes he needs to avoid a catastrophe.

    Pelosi’s leverage is somewhat limited, however, as she doesn’t want to take on blame for a failure to pass something before the August 2nd deadline. It’s a perception game. Boehner has to pass something. If he can’t, he’ll take most of the blame, even if it fails in part because the Democrats wouldn’t agree to the deal. The Republicans hold the majority, and it is their responsibility to get something done.

    It is right here at the end-game where the Democrats can press their advantage to get revenue. Managed properly, that is exactly what will happen. The trick is to find the sweet-spot that extracts the most ransom for Democratic votes without making a deal impossible for Boehner to sell. In theory, Boehner could pass something with as few as 25 Republican votes. In reality, he could never find 25 members to agree to stick their neck out like that.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Hollywood stars open wallets for Obama
    By MACKENZIE WEINGER | 7/16/11 2:54 PM EDT Updated: 7/17/11 9:28 AM EDT

    President Barack Obama’s latest fundraising report resembles an A-list of Hollywood stars, with donations from some of the top celebrities in the entertainment industry.

    Among the more than 550,000 donors to the president’s 2012 reelection bid were big-name movie stars including actors George Clooney, Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, Michael Keaton, Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, also gave to the 2012 campaign, according to the latest Federal Election Commission report. Jennifer Garner and Gwyneth Paltrow both contributed under their married names —Affleck and Martin, respectively.

    “30 Rock” actor Alec Baldwin, who has often toyed with a potential political run, also shelled out cash for Obama’s second-quarter fundraising haul. And several other TV actors — such as “Monk”’s Tony Shalhoub, “Glee”’s Jane Lynch, “24”’s president Dennis Haysbert and sci-fi stars Scott Bakula and Richard Dean Anderson — joined Baldwin in contributing to the president’s reelection bid.

    Comedians Will Ferrell, Carl Reiner and “The Simpsons”’s Yeardley Smith also doled out money for Obama, whose campaign attracted a record-breaking $86 million in donations.

    According to the July quarterly report, the president’s reelection campaign raised $47 million, while the Democratic National Committee raised $38 million through Obama’s joint committee.

    About 40 percent of the president’s record-breaking take came from big-money bundlers, according to a POLITICO analysis of donors listed on Obama’s campaign web site. Among those bundlers were top Hollywood insiders Andy Spahn, Ari Emanuel and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

    Spahn — an entertainment consultant who was appointed in 2008 to the President’s Commission on Arts and Humanities —brought in over $500,000 in the last quarter. Katzenberg, a Hollywood mogul and DreamWorks Animation CEO, also appears in the group of bundlers who’ve raised over $500,000.

    Emanuel, who served as the inspiration for “Entourage”’s movie agent Ari Gold, raised between $50,000-$100,000 for his brother Rahm’s former boss.

    Obama’s campaign also pulled in a number of other actors and familiar faces, such as Vanessa Williams, Anthony Edwards of “ER”, “Star Trek”’s John Cho, “House”’s Jennifer Morrison, “Cougar Town”’s Christa Miller, Brenda Strong of “Desperate Housewives” and Wayne Wilderson, the actor who portrays the grapes in Fruit of the Loom commercials.

    Read more:

  32. creolechild says:

    Hailing a shocking new study on birth defects related to mountaintop removal mining in central Appalachia as a historic shift and emergency clarion call in the long-time campaign to abolish the devastating strip-mining practice, internationally acclaimed coalfield leaders Maria Gunnoe, Bo Webb and Mickey McCoy, among others who live directly below the lethal fallout of mining operations, have issued a new appeal to all Appalachian and national civil rights and environmental organizations engaged in or fundraising for efforts in coalfield advocacy to join together and demand an immediate moratorium on all mountaintop removal mining operations until the federal government can effectively mitigate a spiraling humanitarian crisis.

    A national petition campaign, Stand With Appalachia, has also been launched by to join forces with the Appalachian activists’ “MTR Moratorium Now” campaign.

    “Appalachian communities beneath and near mountaintop operations are facing an unacceptable health crisis,” 2010 Purpose Prize-winner Bo Webb declared. “In spite of the growing scientific evidence connecting mountaintop removal to the demise of human health, the US Congress refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of this problem. That has to change. People all around us of all ages are dying of cancer. This health study proves that we do not have time to waste debating this issue in Congress any longer.”


  33. creolechild says:

    GOP presidential contender Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and her husband Marcus preemptively left their church of more than ten years just weeks before she announced her candidacy to avoid association with its extremist views. Salem Lutheran Church in Stillwater, Minnesota, has faced criticism this week for its anti-Catholic views, including preaching that the Pope is the Antichrist.

    Bachmann has long been a favorite of religious conservatives for her outspoken views on her faith, but her decision to sever ties with her church for the sake of her presidential campaign is surprising many:

    According to CNN, the church that Michele Bachmann and her husband Marcus had attended for more than a decade, Salem Lutheran in Stillwater, Minn., granted the couple’s request to be released from their membership last month, a week after Bachmann told a national audience that she would run for the Republican presidential nomination.

    The Bachmanns had approached their pastor and verbally made the request “a few weeks before the church council granted the request,” said Joel Hochmuth, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the governing body for the church.

    Bachmann had apparently been distancing herself from the church for some time. Hochmuth said the couple had not been worshiping with the congregation in more than two years.


  34. rikyrah says:

    Swimming Laps Around the Stereotypes
    CALIFORNIA With each graceful stroke through the water, the sinewy teen leaves one of the nation’s lingering stereotypes farther behind in his wake.

    A fierce competitor, 13-year-old Piankhi Gibson is making waves as an African American swimmer in an arena long dominated by white athletes.

    In the largely solitary sport, black swimmers are still isolated. But that doesn’t bother Gibson.

    He ignores black friends who mock his skimpy swimsuit and white competitors who insist he doesn’t belong, including one recently in San Luis Obispo who challenged him: “What are you doing here? Why don’t you go back to Oakland?”

    Gibson finds peace in the water: “Swimming isn’t the same as land sports. You have to use different parts of your mind and body. I like how you feel weightless in the water.”

    Gibson and 26 other black teens will compete today and Sunday in a Washington, D.C., swim meet for minority athletes designed to draw more participation. The Black Star Line All-Star Swim Team � African Americans chosen from Bay Area swim clubs � is one of only a handful of predominantly black teams in the nation.

    Gibson’s prowess in the pool comes despite a long-standing challenge in most black communities: the lack of opportunities for many aspiring athletes to perform an elegant butterfly, back kick or breaststroke at the competitive level.

    Citing cultural and economic barriers that have excluded minorities, USA Swimming, the sport’s sanctioning body, created a diversity task force in 2004 to attract more minorities into competitive waters. Of the organization’s 280,000 members nationwide, less than 1% are African American and even fewer are Latino.

    “That’s a significant difference from the nation’s ethnic makeup,” said Pat Hogan, club development director for USA Swimming, who sits on the task force. “By 2050, only 50% of the U.S. population will be white. Swimming needs to reflect that. But there are cultural walls to break through.”

    Although Eastern cities such as Washington, Philadelphia and Atlanta have predominantly black clubs, such groups are rare elsewhere. In Los Angeles, African Americans comprise only 5% of the swimmers on the 38 teams in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

    Started in 1987, this weekend’s Black History Invitational Swim Meet in Washington is among several intended to encourage competitive black swimmers to reach the sport’s highest ranks. But many of the finest black athletes are lured away from swimming and into sports that come with the potential for high incomes.

    Few black swimmers have competed on the U.S. Olympic team. Anthony Irvin, from the Los Angeles area, captured a gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle at the 2000 Sydney Games. Four years later, Maritza Correia of Valrico, Fla., won a silver in the 400-meter relay in Athens.

    Competitive swimming, experts say, still lacks a Tiger Woods or Arthur Ashe to provide the boost those African American athletes gave to golf and tennis. There are other barriers as well: Black high school swimmers often lack year-round access to pools or the money to hire private coaches.

    “People of color are swimming,” said Patrick Escobar, vice president of the Amateur Athletic Foundation in Los Angeles and a USA Swimming diversity task force member. “The question is: How do we get kids who learn to swim in inner-city pools to commit to training and participation that leads to rising to a higher level?”

    The Black Star Line All-Star swimmers are one answer. The club was founded by Anyika Nkululeko, a San Jose social worker and father of eight who watched his daughter, Nkosazana, compete in a sport that attracted few other African American swimmers.

    He knows one reason why: Blacks have not always been welcomed at pools. “My parents come from Mississippi, back when blacks were only allowed to swim in creeks,” he said. “African Americans have historically been denied access to pools. Somewhere, that idea has stuck with many of us and we have stayed away.”

    After taking only two swimmers to the 19th Black History Invitational in the nation’s capital last year, Nkululeko vowed to return with a competitive team. He put the word out, attracting three black swim coaches and more than two dozen African American swimmers between the ages of 7 and 17.

    Wearing red caps and goggles, team members practiced recently at an Oakland public pool, their parents looking on intently. Coach Aquil Rasheed attributed the team’s success to swimmers � and parents.

    “They’re making sure their child stays committed,” he said. “Swimming is not pushed in our community. These people are moving against the current.”

    Parent Ron Chism has heard the rumors about why more blacks don’t swim � that boys disdain the sport’s tiny bathing suit and that girls don’t want to get their hair wet. One man Chism met outside a dive shop in Monterey offered an even more preposterous theory.

    “He said blacks are heavy-boned with dense muscle, so they don’t float,” Chism said. “It’s garbage. But even a lot of blacks believe it � because it’s all they’ve heard.”

    For years, Chism has managed a pool in San Francisco, where he has coached, taught classes and developed programs. All three of his sons � ages 9, 10 and 12 � are Black Star Line All-Star members. “Every kid should know how to swim,” he said. “It’s beyond mere competition. It’s a life skill.”

    A few years ago, Chism attended the black swim meet in Washington. “I saw hundreds of skilled black swimmers in one pool,” he said. “It was the first time I’d seen that in more than 30 years around the water. It was very emotional for me.”

  35. rikyrah says:

    Murdoch’s Watergate?
    His anything-goes approach has spread through journalism like a contagion. Now it threatens to undermine the influence he so covets.

    The hacking scandal currently shaking Rupert Murdoch’s empire will surprise only those who have willfully blinded themselves to that empire’s pernicious influence on journalism in the English-speaking world. Too many of us have winked in amusement at the salaciousness without considering the larger corruption of journalism and politics promulgated by Murdoch Culture on both sides of the Atlantic.

    The facts of the case are astonishing in their scope. Thousands of private phone messages hacked, presumably by people affiliated with the Murdoch-owned News of the World newspaper, with the violated parties ranging from Prince William and actor Hugh Grant to murder victims and families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The arrest of Andy Coulson, former press chief to Prime Minister David Cameron, for his role in the scandal during his tenure as the paper’s editor. The arrest (for the second time) of Clive Goodman, the paper’s former royals editor. The shocking July 7 announcement that the paper would cease publication three days later, putting hundreds of employees out of work. Murdoch’s bid to acquire full control of cable-news company BSkyB placed in jeopardy. Allegations of bribery, wiretapping, and other forms of lawbreaking—not to mention the charge that emails were deleted by the millions in order to thwart Scotland Yard’s investigation.

    All of this surrounding a man and a media empire with no serious rivals for political influence in Britain—especially, but not exclusively, among the conservative Tories who currently run the country. Almost every prime minister since the Harold Wilson era of the 1960s and ’70s has paid obeisance to Murdoch and his unmatched power. When Murdoch threw his annual London summer party for the United Kingdom’s political, journalistic, and social elite at the Orangery in Kensington Gardens on June 16, Prime Minister Cameron and his wife, Sam, were there, as were Labour leader Ed Miliband and assorted other cabinet ministers.

    Murdoch associates, present and former—and his biographers—have said that one of his greatest long-term ambitions has been to replicate that political and cultural power in the United States. For a long time his vehicle was the New York Post—not profitable, but useful for increasing his eminence and working a wholesale change not only in American journalism but in the broader culture as well. Page Six, emblematic in its carelessness about accuracy or truth or context—but oh-so-readable—became the model for the gossipization of an American press previously resistant to even considering publishing its like. (Murdoch accomplished a similar debasement of the airwaves in the 1990s with the—tame by today’s far-lower standards—tabloid television show A Current Affair.)

    Then came the unfair and imbalanced politicized “news” of the Fox News Channel—showing (again) Murdoch’s genius at building an empire on the basis of an ever-descending lowest journalistic denominator. It, too, rests on a foundation that has little or nothing to do with the best traditions and values of real reporting and responsible journalism: the best obtainable version of the truth. In place of this journalistic ideal, the enduring Murdoch ethic substitutes gossip, sensationalism, and manufactured controversy.

  36. creolechild says:

    GOP Presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty has been all over the place when it comes to his position on raising the nation’s debt ceiling. He has said that failing to raise the debt ceiling would be good for the economy, endorsed Republican attempts to raise it only as long as cockamamie budget plans are attached, but then refused to rule out raising it were he to become President.

    However, Pawlenty’s debt ceiling fickleness reached new heights today during an interview with CNBC. Literally twenty seconds after telling CNBC’s Steve Leisman that “I wish they wouldn’t raise” the debt ceiling, Pawlenty said that the debt ceiling does, in fact, have to be raised:

    LEISMAN: So you favor default by the United States? Is that what you’re saying? Under any circumstances you would not raise the debt ceiling without sufficient spending cuts?

    PAWLENTY: They’ve already gone through the debt ceiling, they went through it in May, so I’m saying I wish they wouldn’t raise it, but if they’re going to raise it, at least get some structural reform and improvement so we’re on a better trajectory going forward.

    LEISMAN: But Governor, hold on the other side here. Are you saying you are willing to accept default and/or breaching the debt ceiling in the absence of sufficient spending cuts?

    PAWLENTY: No, I think they’re going to have to raise the debt ceiling, but what I’m saying is if they do that, as they do that, they should get some structural reform.


  37. rikyrah says:

    Union Workers Replaced With Prison Labor Under Scott Walker’s Collective Bargaining Law

    By Alex Seitz-Wald on Jul 6, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    While Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) law dismantling collective bargaining rights has harmed teachers, nurses, and other civil servants, it’s helping a different group in Wisconsinites — inmates. Prisoners are now taking up jobs that used to be held by unionized workers in some parts of the state.

    As the Madison Capital Times reports, “Besides losing their right to negotiate over the percentage of their paycheck that will go toward health care and retirement, unions also lost the ability to claim work as a ‘union-only’ job, opening the door for private workers and evidently even inmates to step in and take their place.” Inmates are not paid for their work, but may receive time off of their sentences.

    The law went into effect last week, and Racine County is already using inmates to do landscaping, painting, and another basic maintenance around the county that was previously done by county workers. The union had successfully sued to stop the country from using prison labor for these jobs last year, but with Walker’s new law, they have no recourse. Watch a report from Fox6 in Green Bay:

  38. rikyrah says:

    BBA: Speaker Boehner & GOP Push Trojan Horse to End Medicare
    Posted on July 13, 2011 by Karina

    Americans didn’t get fooled the first time Republicans passed their budget to end Medicare and they sure won’t be snookered by the latest plan by the Republicans to abolish Medicare–it’s nothing more than a Trojan Horse for their reckless budget.

    Last night on FOX, Speaker Boehner reiterated the GOP’s commitment to ending Medicare saying a so-called ‘balanced budget amendment’ (or BBA) should be part of any debt ceiling negotiations with the White House.

    Ranking Member on the Budget Committee, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, explains what the BBA would do:

    The balanced budget constitutional amendment (H. J. Res. 1) recently approved by the Judiciary Committee is a masquerade designed to foster the policy choices of the Republican budget: to end the Medicare guarantee for seniors and slash vital services while providing tax breaks for the wealthy. This balanced budget amendment would have dire consequences on the economy, on Medicare and other government guarantees to our citizens, and on Congress’s ability to respond to changing needs.

    Read the full report on the amendment from the Budget Committee»

    Today, a large group of national organizations representing millions of Americans released a letter in strong opposition explaining:

    In short, this amendment is a recipe for making recessions more frequent, longer, and deeper, while requiring severe cuts that would harshly affect seniors, children, veterans, people with disabilities, homeland security activities, public safety, environmental protection, education and medical research. It would almost certainly necessitate massive cuts to vital programs including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits and other programs, and, as noted, lead to even deeper cuts than the House-passed budget.

    Read the full letter»

    Risking the economy, jobs and the future of the middle class and seniors in order to push an ideological agenda Americans have rejected is wrong.

  39. rikyrah says:

    hate to say this on a Sunday, but it has to be said.


    Rebekah Brooks Arrested in Hacking Scandal
    Latest casualty in spreading scandal

    Disgraced former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks has been arrested, reports Sky News, the latest casualty in the burgeoning phone hacking scandal that brought down News of the World. Brooks, 43, went by appointment to a London police station, where she is being held on charges of corruption and conspiring to intercept communications. The former NotW editor confirms that she’s “assisting the police with their inquiries,” reports the AP. She’s the 10th person charged. Brooks resigned her job Friday; she’s due to speak to Parliament on Tuesday.

  40. creolechild says:

    Thank you, GottaLaff!

    Today’s Quickie:

    Here is a headline I found at The Hill that sums up the Republicans in one sentence:

    GOP leaders ignore Obama’s 36-hour deadline for a debt plan.

    By blatantly ignoring President Obama, the GOP “leaders” turned their backs on America, slapped the rest of us in the face, acted like unbelievably contemptible little spoiled brats, and continued to play a dangerous game of chicken with our already lousy economy.

    But at least they try to pass all kinds of anti-abortion laws. USA! USA!

    That was today’s Quickie. Will you still respect me in the morning?

  41. creolechild says:

    Sen. Alberta Darling is in a dead heat with her Democratic challenger in next month’s recall election, according to a new poll released by the Democratic party.

    Darling (R-River Hills) slightly trailed her challenger Rep. Sandy Pasch (D-Whitefish Bay), who had 47% of likely voters to Darling 46%, a difference that was within the poll’s margin of error.

    The poll done for Democrats by the Mellman Group showed that Pasch has closed the gap between her and Darling from another survey done in May that showed Darling with a 9 percentage point lead. The poll surveyed 350 likely voters and was done on July 13 and 14. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

    The recall was sought against Darling and five other Republican senators for their votes supporting Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation eliminating most collective bargaining for public workers. The election will be held on Aug. 9. Democrats are seeking to pick up three seats in that election and win back control of the state Senate, which Republicans currently control 19-14.

    John Hogan, who is managing Senate Republicans’ recall efforts, called the survey a “partisan poll done by a known Democratic polling firm.” […]

  42. creolechild says:

    ‘Gosh, she’s sooo heavy!’ is not really an exclamation you want to hear uttered by someone as they lift your child onto their lap. Especially if that someone is loved and respected by your child and in a position to influence her. And when you are a fat mother, and a feminist, and that person is a relative (whom you love, but don’t always understand), it makes for a pretty tense moment. Which is fucked up, I realise, because my kid is heavy, and remarking on it shouldn’t be any different to remarking on her eye colour. But it is.


    Opportunities for bonus misogyny aside, childhood obesity is a juicy story, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to conveniently forget the facts. In Australia at least, rates of ‘childhood obesity’ have plateaued and we’ve known that for a few years now. On the other hand, rates of body dissatisfaction and unhealthy behaviours like yo-yo dieting are increasing in young people. But it’s far easier to scapegoat parents — most often mothers who are more typically charged with cooking and shopping — than to consider some of the nuance here. There is a strong case to make for changing the story from one about ‘childhood obesity’ to one about ‘childhood poverty’ (because yeah, fat kids can be undernourished kids) but that would involve facing up to some ugly social inequality and who wants to hear about food deserts when we could see a glossy grab about how Happy Meals are killing our children, amirite?


    Whatever your beliefs about fat and health (and hey, I know you’ve got ‘em), you’ve got to acknowledge that stigma is harmful. There is no value from a health-promotion perspective in further stigmatising fat people, and certainly not fat children. Most people can’t self-loathe their way to permanent thinness (and certainly not to good health). Fat hate won’t amount to a positive contribution to society, no matter how many ‘reality’ TV shows imply otherwise.

    My kid is three years old and she’s already learning what it means to have a heavy body in the midst of ‘obesity’ panic. You cannot tell me that’s for her own good.

  43. creolechild says:

    A group of voting rights organizations are asking the Justice Department not to clear a Florida law which places restrictions on third-party voter registration efforts and shortens the early voting period. Florida’s HB 1355 institutes a “panoply of burdensome and wholly unnecessary restrictions on the opportunity and ability of individual citizens and grassroots organizations to conduct voter registration drives,” the group wrote to the DOJ.

    Parts of Florida are covered by section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states to have changes to their voting process approved by the Justice Department. Claiming the restrictive measures are discriminatory, the groups want the feds to step in.

    “The available data indicate that these changes will disproportionately and negatively impact the voting rights of minority citizens in the covered counties,” wrote the group, which consists of The League of Women Voters of Florida, the Brennan Center for Justice, Democracia USA and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

    As we told you earlier, the League of Women Voters has killed its long-running voter registration program because of the penalties imposed on third-party groups who don’t turn in new voter registration forms within 48 hours. They say the law puts their volunteers at a “grave disadvantage.”


  44. creolechild says:

    If the Federal Election Commission manages to rise the challenge, Mitt Romney’s campaign could be forced to answer some tough questions about its fundraising strategy. On Thursday, the Alabama Democratic Party joined a complaint against Romney filed with the Federal Election Commission, alleging that the former Massachusetts governor sidestepped campaign fundraising rules to funnel $1.5 million from his state-level political actions committees to Free and Strong America, his national PAC.


    As my colleague Andy Kroll explained this week, national candidates often use money raised by their state-level PACs to court potential allies in key primary states. Romney’s PACs, for example, distributed some $400,000 in campaign contributions in 25 different states in 2009 and 2010, including $62,000 to now-Govenrors Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) and $30,000 to Terry Branstad (R-Iowa), both of whom won their races. Romney’s largesse, along with Haley and Branstad’s victories, gave him a pair of powerful potential backers leading into next year’s presidential race.

    Harnessing state PACs in this way falls in line with Federal Election Commission rules. Shifting money from state PACS to a national PAC is kosher, as long as the candidate in question—Romney—hasn’t already announced his intention to run for president. If a candidate wants to run for national office, he first has to cut ties with his state-level PACs.

    But the complaint, originally filed by the New Hampshire Democratic Party, alleges that Romney failed to cut those ties before forming his exploratory committee. In essence, the complaint claims, Romney used his state PACs as “shell operations” to fund a possible presidential campaign before officially declaring his candidacy—a potential breach of FEC rules, according to The Washington Post.


  45. creolechild says:

    Thank you, AdLib and Planet POV for staying on top of this!

    “See, it’s the highest honor they can give you. It means you belong to a family and crew. It means that nobody can fuck around with you. It also means you could fuck around with anybody just as long as they aren’t also a member. It’s like a license to steal. It’s a license to do anything.”
    Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) in “Goodfellas”

    Many Americans have thought, “What Fox News does should be illegal,” but the recent revelations in the UK about the Murdoch Family seem to unequivocally prove that it’s parent company, News Corp International, is in fact a criminal operation. Does the thug fall far from the “family” tree? Murdoch may not even admit the existence of a News Corp Mafia, he may explain to those he “puts a hit” on, “It’s nuthin’ personal, it’s just business,” but to any citizen of any nation that wishes to preserve their democracy, it’s pretty damn personal.

    The fingers of the Murdoch Family reach directly into government and those in power, into 10 Downing Street and under Bush, into the White House. In the UK, they were considered both by themselves and their critics, kingmakers who dare not be crossed if one seeks to win political office. In the US, they were involved in decisions made by the Bush Administration such as going to war in Iraq and they even played a key role in declaring Bush President over Gore despite final election results not being determined (and eventually showing Gore won).

    Add to that their attempt this cycle to play kingmaker/queenmaker by having under contract and promoting nearly all of the potential 2012 GOP candidates for the presidency they could envision (Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum). It was their blatant goal to have influence and control over the 2012 Presidential election and hopefully its President…you know, just like most “news” organizations attempt.

    From all that’s been exposed in the UK, News Corp International appears to be a de facto criminal operation. According to reports, they conceived of, ran and financed an ongoing series of crimes to gain profit and power, just like all organized crime groups. They appear to have hired and paid criminals to perform crimes on their behalf, acting as gangsters with known criminals on their payroll. It appears that they either bought off Scotland Yard policeman to look the other way or used their criminal operation to spy on them and extort them to do so. They even succeeded in getting the original Scotland Yard investigation into their criminal phone hacking operation to be dropped, likely by using their powers of bribery or intimidation.


  46. creolechild says:

    The plight of millions of drought-stricken people across the Horn of Africa is set to worsen, with rains expected only later in the year and harvests months away, a top UN official warned Saturday. Scanty or failed rainfall in the region over the past two years has already forced thousands of Somalis to flee the country and ruined the livelihoods of millions in parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

    “We are possibly seeing a perfect storm in the coming months … We are going to do everything we can to ameliorate it,” UNICEF director Anthony Lake told AFP as he left for a trip to a drought-hit northern Kenya region. “We are scaling up in every way we can … It is very bad now. There will be no major harvests until some time next year. The next six months are going to be very tough,” added Lake.

    The UNICEF chief will tour Turkana, one of Kenya’s badly-affected regions where malnutrition rates have increased to 37 percent, compared to 15 percent in 2010, according to the aid organisation Oxfam. Kenya is also home to the world’s biggest refugee camp, where hundreds of thousands of Somalis have sought refuge from relentless conflict back home and thousands more are arriving daily due to the current drought.


  47. creolechild says:

    LONDON — British actor Jude Law is suing The Sun for allegedly hacking his phone, both sides revealed Friday, in what is thought to be the first such legal action against Rupert Murdoch’s best-selling daily tabloid. The paper’s parent company, News International, dismissed it as a “deeply cynical” attempt to draw The Sun into the scandal which has engulfed Murdoch’s media empire and forced the closure of its sister paper, the News of the World.

    Law was already suing the News of the World over phone hacking, and his former girlfriend, actress Sienna Miller, won an apology and £100,000 in damages and legal costs from the Sunday tabloid. News International said that Law, the Oscar-nominated star of “Cold Mountain” and “Sherlock Holmes”, had launched action alleging that four Sun articles in 2005 and 2006 were based on information taken from his voicemails.


  48. creolechild says:

    GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — Israeli aircraft struck Gaza overnight for the fourth time in as many days, wounding a militant who was about to fire a rocket, Palestinian security sources said on Saturday. The Palestinian was admitted to hospital but his injuries were not life-threatening, the sources said. An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed that an air strike had targeted a Palestinian. The raid was followed by the firing of two rockets from Gaza into Israel, neither of which caused casualties or damage, she added.

    There has been a sharp increase in rocket fire by Gaza militants in recent days, ending two months of relative calm in which just two rockets were fired into Israel in two months. Armed forces chief of staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz convened a meeting on Friday with regional commander for Gaza Brigadier General Tal Russo, air force chief Major General Ido Nehustan and military intelligence chief Major General Aviv Kochavi to discuss a response, Israeli media reported.

    Israel has launched a series of air strikes in retaliation for the rocket fire. On Thursday night, Israeli jets struck three targets in Gaza, moderately wounding four Palestinians, security and medical officials said. On Wednesday night, Israeli aircraft targeted three tunnels, two used for smuggling in southern Gaza and one “used for terrorist activity” in the north of the Palestinian territory. Two Palestinians were listed as missing after one of the tunnels collapsed in the raid, and the body of one of them has been recovered, medics said. The fate of the other man is still unknown.

    On Tuesday, Israeli air raids hit what the military called two “weapons manufacturing sites” in northern Gaza. Palestinian medical sources said one woman was moderately injured. In April, tensions rose after an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza hit an Israeli school bus, killing a teenager.
    Israel responded with a series of air strikes that killed at least 19 Palestinians in the deadliest violence since Israel’s devastating 22-day assault on Gaza in 2008-2009. The violence raised fears of another similar offensive, but on April 10 Gaza’s Hamas rulers declared a return to the truce that ended Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in January 2009.

  49. creolechild says:

    This week, both the Los Angeles Times and The Nation put the spotlight on a little-known but influential conservative nonprofit that creates “model” state legislation that often make its way into law. The organization has helped craft some of the most controversial—and industry-friendly—legislation of recent years.

    The American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, crafted a model resolution for states calling the EPA’s attempts to regulate greenhouse gasses a “trainwreck” and asking Congress to slow or stop the regulations, the Times reported. A press release on ALEC’s site says that at least 13 other states have passed resolutions based on their model language. ALEC was also involved in the writing of Arizona’s new immigration law, which gave police officers broad powers to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.

    Brought into being by a legendary conservative who also founded the well-known Heritage Foundation, ALEC has been around since the early 1970s. It calls itself a “policy making program that unites members of the public and private sectors in a dynamic partnership” based on “Jeffersonian principles.” Critics say it has devolved into a pay-for-play operation, where state legislators and their families get to go on industry-funded junkets and major corporations get to ghostwrite model laws and pass them on to receptive politicians.

    In a multipart report this week, the Nation profiled ALEC’s influence on state legislation related to privatization and anti-union efforts, fighting Obama’s health care reform, privatizing public education and enacting voter ID laws, which critics say are designed to disenfranchise voters who are more likely to vote Democratic. The Nation also provides a deeper look at the financial and ideological links between the Koch brothers and ALEC.


    Read more:

  50. Ametia says:

    Historic African-American church faces foreclosure
    By Jodie Tillman, John Barry, John Martin, Times Staff Writers
    In Print: Saturday, July 16, 2011

    TAMPA — A 105-year-old African-American church could lose its historic Oregon Avenue home and a hoped-for new campus off Interstate 4 after defaulting on a $1.1 million loan.

    Leaders at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church say they are confident they will work out a deal with Fifth Third Bank before that happens. A foreclosure auction scheduled for Monday has been canceled.

    New Salem’s minister since 2004 is the Rev. Henry J. Lyons, the former president of the National Baptist Convention USA. Lyons was convicted in 1999 of swindling the organization out of millions.

    But church trustees say they, not Lyons, made the decisions that led to the current difficulties.

  51. creolechild says:

    A poll released Thursday shows half of Wisconsin residents approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing, nearly unchanged from a year ago amid an ongoing stalemate over the national debt crisis and after the recent killing of Osama bin Laden.

    The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Badger Poll offers a glimpse at how residents in one of the most polarized states in the U.S. are leaning as Obama heads toward his re-election campaign in 2012. Wisconsin, which has 10 electoral votes, has been divided in recent months over Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining proposal, which generated massive protests and prompted historic recall efforts against nine state senators.

    The poll showed Obama’s approval rating at 50 percent, nearly identical to the 49 percent approval a year ago. Of Democrats polled, 81 percent approved of job performance. Only 6 percent of Republicans backed him.


    Thursday’s poll followed one released Wednesday that showed some troubling signs for the state’s Republicans, with 59 percent of survey respondents saying they disapproved of Walker’s job as governor. Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said he thought Obama’s approval rating put him in a “pretty good place” given how politically divided the state is.|mostcom

  52. creolechild says:

    An anti-gay rights group is furious at New York Republican lawmakers for helping to legalize same sex marriage in the state.

    A fundraising letter from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) announced that the group plans multiple rallies in New York to begin a campaign to repeal marriage equality, which was signed into law by Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on June 24.

    The group also launched an attack on Republicans who helped pass the law, saying that they “sold out the party’s base, the party’s principles, and the timeless institution of marriage.”

    “The fight to take back New York begins,” NOM president Brian Brown declared. “Now it gets serious. Now, it’s also a fight to take back the Republican Party from the forces who wish to abandon marriage: the so-called new ‘pro-equality Republicans.'”


  53. creolechild says:

    In keeping with our current preoccupation with taxes, the deficit and spending, I thought I would run an address President Franklin Roosevelt gave while campaigning for re-election in 1936. Seems the subject of taxes has been with us for a very-very long time. And it also seems the ones doing the most complaining haven’t changed very much in the past 200 or so years.
    Comforting, I suppose. But you’d think by now it would get a little tired.

    In 1936 though, FDR had a few choice words nestled in what has become a timeless address.

    President Roosevelt: “In 1776 the fight was for Democracy in Taxation. In 1936 there is still the fight. Mister Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said ‘taxes are the prices we pay for civilized society’. One sure way to determine the social conscience of a government is to examine the way taxes are collected and how they are spent. And one sure way to determine the social conscience of an individual is to get his tax reaction. Taxes, after all are the dues we pay for the privilege of membership in an organized society. And as society becomes more civilized government, national and state and local, is called on to assume more obligations to its citizens. The privileges of membership in a civilized society are vastly increased in modern times. But I am afraid we still have many who still do not recognize their advantages and want to avoid paying their dues.”

    Tax breaks for the wealthy were a concept well in place by the time Hoover was President.

    FDR: “To divide fairly among the people the obligation to pay for these benefits has been a major part of our struggle to maintain Democracy in America. Ever since 1776, that struggle has been between two forces; on the one hand there has been a vast majority of citizens who believe the benefits of democracy should be extended and who are willing to pay their fair share to extend them. And on the other hand, there has been a small but powerful group which has fought the extension of these benefits because they did not want to pay a fair share of their cost. That was the lineup in seventeen hundred and seventy-six and it’s the lineup today. And I am confident that once more, in nineteen thirty-six democracy in taxation will win. Here is my principle, and I think it’s yours too; Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.”

    So hearing this now and knowing it was from the dim-distant past of 1936, it makes the current situation and posturing that much more absurd. Unfortunately if it were only absurd it would be laughed off. But it has become deadly serious business in the ensuing years….

  54. Ametia says:

    Hat tip BWD from HuffPo

    Why We Need President Obama — A Critical Moment
    Posted: 7/16/11 01:25 PM ET

    One of the virtues of being on the liberal side of politics is that total obedience isn’t required. There are no hidden agendas. Ideology doesn’t lead to unreason. In a political climate where it feels as if the inmates are running the asylum — as in the current Republican threat to default on America’s debt — the prevailing sanity of President Obama is something that others and I have taken for granted.

    We cannot afford that luxury any more, I’m afraid.

    For many reasons, this is the moment when loyalty is going to count the most. That’s a hard sentence to write. Liberal politics is based on a non-regimented, all-inclusive approach to democracy. Freedom of thought is paramount. But certain harsh realities must be faced. For thirty years and more, the progressive tradition has been severely undermined, dating back to Nixon’s “Southern strategy” (coddle the racists) and Ronald Reagan’s smiling reactionary agenda (AIDS victims deserve what they get), through the first President Bush’s Willie Horton strategy (another boost for racism) and the second President Bush’s deceptive “compassionate conservatism.”,b=facebook

  55. Man Arrested For Alleged Death Threats Against Sen. Barbara Boxer

    RAFAEL, Calif. — Authorities say a Northern California man has been arrested on suspicion of making death threats against Sen. Barbara Boxer.

    San Rafael police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher says Kevin Joseph O’Connell was arrested Saturday and is jailed on $500,000 bail.

    Rohrbacher says the 47-year-old O’Connell was arrested near his home in San Rafael and is scheduled for arraignment Tuesday. It was not clear if he had hired an attorney.

    Police say they received reports this week that the threatening messages were left on voicemail at Boxer’s office, and they identified the caller as O’Connell. Rohrbacher says police worked with the FBI on the case, but made the arrest themselves and are pursuing state charges.

    She says policy prevents her from saying whether O’Connell has a police record or previous contact with authorities.


    SALT LAKE CITY, July 16 (Reuters) – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose moves to curb state workers’ bargaining power brought massive protests, said this weekend he made mistakes but defended the policy steps of his rocky first term.

    The fractious debate over the union measures propelled Wisconsin to the front of a wider national political battle over benefits and bargaining rights for public sector employees and triggered the biggest opposition demonstrations in the state since the Vietnam War.

    Aside from criticism by those who thought Walker was unfairly undercutting state worker rights, he and his fellow Republicans came under fire for tactics seen by some as bullying and not allowing for sufficient debate or possible compromise.

    “The mistake I made early on is, I looked at it almost like the head of a small business: identify a problem, identify a solution and go out and do it,” Walker told Reuters at the National Governor’s Association meeting in Salt Lake City.

    “I don’t think we built enough of a political case, so we let … the national organizations come in and define the debate while we were busy just getting the job done,” he said.

    Walker has argued the state’s agreements with public sector workers were unaffordable, and said his moves had helped prevent layoffs of middle-class workers.

    Groups from outside Wisconsin lent support to both sides of the controversy, and are providing funding to recall elections sparked by the political sparring.

    Six Republican senators who supported the anti-union measure, and three Democrats who opposed it, will be forced to defend their seats in August elections after recall petitions were signed by thousands of disgruntled voters.

    Democrats say they will also seek to recall Walker, who was elected last fall and can’t be removed until he has served a year in office, in 2012.

    If Democrats gain just three of the seats at stake in the special summer elections, they will take control of the upper house and have a better chance at thwarting Walker’s far-reaching legislative agenda, which includes measures to trim government spending and programs.

    However, Republicans will continue to have a majority in the lower house, or Assembly.

    “If the Republican candidates are outspent two to one, it’s pretty difficult,” Walker said of the recall effort.

    “Conversely, if things end up being relatively even and the message gets out,” the party will have a better chance of prevailing, he said.

    Walker said he did not plan to campaign in the contested districts.

    As for his own political prospects, Walker said many Midwestern governors are also suffering low poll numbers, and each of them will be judged on whether voters see improvement in the economy.

  57. Good Morning 3 Chics, Friends, & Visitors!

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