Friday Open Thread

Brick is a former American band that created a successful merger of funk and jazz in the 1970s. Their most popular single was “Dazz“, (#3 U.S. Pop, #1 U.S. R&B, #36 UK Singles Chart[1]) which was released in 1976.

Brick was formed in Atlanta, Georgia in 1972 from members of two bands – one disco and the other jazz. They coined their own term for disco-jazz, “dazz”. They released their first single “Music Matic” on Main Street Records in 1976, before signing to the independently distributed Bang Records. Their next single, “Dazz“, (#3 Pop, #1 R&B) was released in 1976. The band continued to record for Bang records until 1982. Other hits followed: “That’s What It’s All About” (R&B #48) and “Dusic” (#18 Pop, #2 R&B) in 1977, and “Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody” (#92 Pop, #7 R&B) in 1978. Their last Top Ten R&B hit was “Sweat (Til You Get Wet)” in 1981.

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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111 Responses to Friday Open Thread

  1. @pfeiffer44:President Obama to make statement in WH briefing Room re: Deficit Talks at 6 PM Eastern

  2. Ametia says:

    President Barack Obama has certified that the U.S. military is prepared to accept openly gay and lesbian service members, and that doing so will not harm military readiness, according to the White House.
    It was also certified by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.
    Under a bill passed last year that set up a process for repealing the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, all three men needed to sign the certification.
    A 60-day waiting period will now begin before the repeal is fully implemented.
    Watch live coverage now on

  3. rikyrah says:

    July 22, 2011 2:55 PM

    It’s tough to negotiate with crazy

    By Steve Benen
    Politics isn’t supposed to be quite this difficult. It’s not like the parties have never sat down to negotiate a debt-reduction plan before. It’s happened plenty of times, and while agreements have never been easy, they’ve at least been possible.

    But the equation changes when one of the major political parties, especially when it controls one of the relevant institutions, abandons any sense of reason. Jonathan Bernstein had a piece on this today, but it’s a point that’s been circulating for a while.

    One really, really important point to remember about House Republicans right now: There’s a very good chance that a whole bunch of them just have no idea what they’re doing. […]

    [H]ow do you negotiate with people who just have no idea what they’re talking about? Here’s another example, from the NYT write-up of the party-line vote against [Cut, Cap, and Balance]: “[T]he outcome was a foregone conclusion and leaders of both parties said the Senate needed to dismiss the House plan to show Republicans that the proposal was dead.”

    This is just depressing if true; it implies that an unspecified number of rank-and-file Republicans are, I don’t know how else to put it, either too detached from reality or too stupid or too incompetent to know that CCB was DOA without actually seeing the Senate results.

    Right. In this case, Jonathan is referring to Republicans who don’t understand the basics of how a bill becomes a law. His piece on this highlighted a GOP House member, who’s likely to run for the Senate next year, who doesn’t seem to realize what it means when the Senate “tables” a bill.

    But this keeps coming up because congressional Republicans don’t seem to understand, well, much of anything.

    One Republican lawmaker appeared on national television this week, and was asked to defend his pro-default approach to governing. He replied, “I don’t trust the words of any source.”

    Another GOP lawmaker said a few days ago that our national credit rating will get better if we fail to raise the debt ceiling. Another Republican House member argued that if the government raises revenue, it will make the debt worse, because taxes lead to “fewer revenue dollars.”

    Common norms suggest we’re supposed to simply acknowledge that the parties have sincere, philosophical differences. But eventually, I’d love to see the political world come to terms with the fact that Republicans aren’t just being right-wing; they’re also being dumb. I know that’s impolite. I also know it’s justified.

    As Time reported this week, “Democrats are clearly baffled by the challenge of persuading opponents who not only have a different set of priorities, but a different set of facts. ‘There’s a question about how much the facts matter to them,’ says a Democratic official. ‘And I don’t know what to do about that.’”

    Jonathan asked how any is supposed to negotiate with people who have no idea what they’re talking about. I wish I had a good answer to that. I suspect the only solution is to ask Americans to stop electing radical, conspicuously unintelligent candidates to positions of power and influence. Indeed, as our current fiasco continues to unfold, Americans would ideally realize that their 2010 votes (or lack thereof) created this mess in the first place.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    July 22, 2011 12:35 PM

    CC&B dies a quick death in the Senate

    By Steve Benen
    Senate Democrats explained quite a while ago that the “Cut, Cap, and Balance Act,” the patently absurd House GOP budget plan, had no chance of passing the upper chamber. But House Republicans needed to get this out of their system, and test to see just how far they could get with this ridiculous measure.

    The GOP got its answer this morning.

    The Senate on Friday rejected a House plan to substantially cut government spending and raise the federal debt limit contingent on a balanced budget proposal, leaving Congress up in the air about how to resolve its impasse over the federal debt ceiling and avoid a government default.

    It wasn’t a straight up-or-down vote on the House plan itself, but rather, a vote on whether to table the GOP bill. The final tally was 51 to 46, with exactly zero members crossing party lines. Some Republicans tried to put a positive spin on the five-vote margin, but no one should be fooled — CC&B would need 14 additional votes to break a filibuster and 21 additional votes to approve a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.

    This little right-wing fantasy, in other words, is finished, at least for this Congress.

    Now what? The plan was to get the ball rolling in the Senate with the McConnell/Reid back-up plan. That’s apparently not going to happen — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this morning that he would simply wait to see the results of the negotiations between President Obama and Speaker Boehner. Whereas Reid expected the Senate to work all weekend to advance the emergency “Plan B” fall-back option, those plans have been scrapped, too — the Senate, like the House, will take the weekend off, and hope for the best.

    “The path to avert default now runs through the House of Representatives,” Reid said.

    If those words strike you as ominous, you and I are on the same page.

  5. Ametia says:

    The great state of Maryland and my birthplace….

    Martin O’Malley Says He’ll Sponsor Gay Marriage Bill
    By Carlos Santoscoy
    Published: July 22, 2011

    Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley on Friday announced he will sponsor a gay marriage bill in the next regular session of the General Assembly in January.

    The governor made his remarks at a 2PM press conferences in Annapolis.

    “Marylanders of all walks of life want the same thing – for their children to live in a loving, stable, committed home – protected under the law,” he tweeted to his more than 8,500 followers.

  6. Obama’s Approval Rating Appears Stable Despite Economy

    WASHINGTON — In spite of 9.2 percent unemployment and overall “satisfaction” with the state of the country at a two-year low, Americans continue to give President Obama higher approval ratings than experts would predict based on the economic climate.

    The latest Gallup poll marks a 43 percent approval rating and a 49 percent disapproval rating for President Obama. A newly released CNN poll has the president’s approval rating at 45 percent with a 54 percent disapproval rating.

    While those approval numbers are nothing to brag about, they are surprisingly high given the state of the economy, according to Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport.

    “Based on where every president has been, his approval rating now is higher than we would predict it would be based on satisfaction [with how the country is doing],” Newport told reporters Tuesday at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

    Gallup finds the economy continues to the be most important issue for Americans, and in a recent Quinnipiac poll only 38 percent of Americans approved of the way the President is handling the economy. The Quinnipiac poll also found that only 27 percent were satisfied with the direction of the country.

  7. Think Progress:

    Pelosi: Boehner can’t possibly think GOP’s “cut and paste” bill is serious

  8. The Washington Post:

    BREAKING: Boehner tells lawmakers debt deal could hit House floor by Wednesday

  9. creolechild says:


  10. creolechild says:

    Michele Bachmann’s Child Army

    In November 2008, Michele Bachmann was in trouble. The incumbent Minnesota congresswoman was facing a Democratic wave and the backlash from comments she made questioning Barack Obama’s patriotism, and polls showed her neck-and-neck with her challenger, former state transportation commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg. But at the last minute, some unlikely reinforcements arrived to give Bachmann a boost: kids.

    Over the last week of the campaign, nearly six-dozen home-schooled students, some flown in from out of state, joined the Bachmann campaign, knocking on doors, sending out mailers, and making thousands of phone calls. The kids, all between the ages of 12 and 19, were members of GenJ Student Action Team, part of a national organization called Generation Joshua, which trains home-schooled students to become political activists. When the votes were counted, Bachmann held on to her seat in a squeaker—and she credited her child army with pushing her over to the top. “We often hear that there aren’t young people in the Republican Party,” she said in her victory speech. “I’m here to tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

    Now, as Bachmann sets her sights on the Republican presidential nomination, that same youth brigade could be her secret weapon. Over the last decade, Bachmann, who home-schooled her five biological children, has developed strong ties to state and national home-school organizations. In March, she joined fellow presidential candidates Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and businessman Herman Cain at a conference organized by the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators (NICHE) in Des Moines. And in 2009, she addressed Generation Joshua’s national iGovern conference in Washington, DC. Bachmann’s love for home-school organizations is far from unrequited. The Home School Legal Defense Association PAC, a spinoff of Generation Joshua’s parent organization, donated $3,250 to her reelection effort in 2008 and contributed cash and manpower to her successful congressional campaigns in 2006 and 2010.


  11. creolechild says:

    Chart of the Day: The Shortcut From K Street to Capitol Hill
    How lobbyists become congressional aides and former members of Congress become lobbyists.

    It’s like the Capitol Hill version of the circle of life: As a new Congress is seated, incoming members hire lobbyists to work in their offices, while outgoing members consider their next career move—which often means becoming a lobbyist. This pattern has played out for years, but as a recent report from the Center For Responsive Politcs details, the revolving door between K Street and the Hill is spinning faster than ever. In the 2009-2010 session of Congress, 60 former lobbyists were hired to fill key staff positions; in the current session, more than twice the number ex-lobbyists have been hired.

    [Click on link to view statistics/pie graphs.]

    Data compliled by Remapping Debate shows that 1 in 7 current congressional chiefs of staff are former lobbyists. Meanwhile, nearly a third of members of Congress who left office earlier this year have joined lobbying firms. So far, they’re underperforming: Since 1998, nearly 80 percent of former members of Congress have done some work as lobbyists.

  12. creolechild says:

    Chart of the Day: Manufacturing Back on Top

    This chart, inspired by Larry Summers, comes from Felix Salmon. It basically shows the relative valuation of tech companies vs. industrial companies. For the first time in two decades (and possibly the first time ever), the PE ratio of tech companies is lower than the PE ratio of industrial companies. In other words, given a choice between a tech company with earnings of $1 billion and an industrial company with earnings of $1 billion, investors today would pay a higher price for the industrial company. Generally speaking, this means that investors think the industrial company has better long-term growth prospects than the tech company.

    [Click on link to view graph.]

    So why has this happened? I can take a few guesses:

    * The ratio was fairly flat from 2004 until 2009 and then nosedived. For some reason, the recession had a bigger impact on tech companies than industrial companies.

    * Older tech companies, like Microsoft, aren’t high flyers anymore, and new tech companies haven’t gone public in big numbers. If tech companies like Facebook and Twitter were holding IPOs in normal numbers, average tech valuation would be higher.

    * Investors are still nervous about the dotcom bust and are afraid it could happen again.

    * Most of the manufacturing sectors that were in danger of losing their business to overseas competitors have already been decimated. The ones that are left are pretty healthy and unlikely to fall prey to competition from China or Malaysia.

    I suspect the real answer is something else, but I don’t know what it is. In any case, I’d like to see this chart decomposed so it’s more obvious why these relative valuations have changed. Has it mostly been because tech PEs have gone down or because industrial PEs have gone up?

  13. @LiberalJaxx:Sen Coburn on CSPAN is admitting to the fact that they need to lose the battle w/Norquist. Wtf? A republican w/some sense?

    • Ametia says:

      Tom “fuck the black farmers” Coburn knows the GOP is sunk. He ain’t tryna sink to the bottom with this debt ceiling thang.

  14. rikyrah says:

    July 22, 2011 2:00 PM

    The easiest, most effective way to resolve the crisis

    By Steve Benen
    Someone asked me the other day when President Obama doesn’t just ask for a clean debt-ceiling bill, instead of engaging in these mind-numbing negotiations. The truth is, he has asked for a clean bill, repeatedly. It didn’t get much attention at the time — the White House pushed for this in March and April — but the request was certainly made.

    The problem is, it fell flat very quickly. In late May, House Republicans brought a clean debt-ceiling bill to House floor for the express purpose of watching it fail. The point was to let a right-wing caucus thump its chest, telling the White House that the hostage strategy — give GOP lawmakers sweeping cuts or they’ll cause crash the economy on purpose — wouldn’t go away.

    Regardless, from time to time, it’s worth noting that as crises go, there’s never been an easier dispute to solve. ThinkProgress mentioned today:

    Here’s a brilliant plan to end debt ceiling crisis and save the world economy: Raise the debt ceiling.

    No one even likes to talk about this. The New York Times ran a lengthy item this week, featuring eight separate scenarios to resolve this fiasco, and a clean bill didn’t even make the list.

    Let’s set the record straight anyway, in case anyone’s forgotten. Congress could, today, pass a clean bill that raises the debt ceiling. It would immediately end the crisis, reassure investors and markets around the world, and clear the way for Democrats and Republicans to go right back to fighting again. The whole process would take a few minutes. It’s no different than having a car headed for a cliff, only to have the driver realize the brake works. All he has to do is step on it.

    Since 1939, Congress has raised the debt limit 89 times. That’s not a typo. The issue has come up 89 times, and in 89 instances, Congress passed a clean bill. In fact, in two-thirds of these instances, there was a Republican president, and no one ever used the vote as leverage for a reward.

    During the Bush presidency, Republicans raised the debt ceiling, without strings or preconditions, seven times. The current GOP leadership in Washington has voted to raise the debt limit 19 times.Bush’s former budget director said this “ought to be treated as the housekeeping matter it is.”

    But we’ve now reached the point at which routine housekeeping, which didn’t even give conservative Republicans a second thought as recently as 2008, is considered beyond the pale. This is madness.

    One effortless vote makes the entire problem disappear. I can’t think of any potential crisis that’s so serious and yet so easy to resolve. But this isn’t even a possibility because the Republican Party has lost its mind.

  15. creolechild says:

    Tim Wise discusses institutional racism. HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS~

    • Ametia says:

      While Tim Wise speaks so much truth. He’s preaching to the choir where the majority of black folks are concerned. If he reaches any one other than POC, this means white folks, then his preaching will not have been in vain.

      I wonder if Tim Wise is ever invited to speak in front of ALL WHITE audiences. Because I know for a fact, that many white folks aint trying to hear nothing about no RACISM.

      Folks like Rev. Al would be called an instigator if he were to go on tours with this same message. And I’m sure, Wise is not without his detractors.

      But kudos to him for bringing the message.

      • As my friend Vette would say…Up in here…Up in here!

        Check Mark

      • creolechild says:

        Metia~ just saw your comment. It’s my understanding that he takes this message to predominantly white audiences across the country. But he also speaks to audiences comprised of POC. He was working with Angela Davis at one point on issues related to high incarceration of POC. Long story short, he takes the message where it needs to be heard the most….

      • Thanks, CC! I have been waiting to see his take on the debt ceiling debate.

      • creolechild says:

        My apologies for flooding the thread with videos. But I thought you’d like to hear what Tim Wise has to say on that subject…

  16. creolechild says:

    21st-Century Slaves: How Corporations Exploit Prison Labor
    In the eyes of the corporation, inmate labor is a brilliant strategy in the eternal quest to maximize profit.

    There is one group of American workers so disenfranchised that corporations are able to get away with paying them wages that rival those of third-world sweatshops. These laborers have been legally stripped of their political, economic and social rights and ultimately relegated to second-class citizens. They are banned from unionizing, violently silenced from speaking out and forced to work for little to no wages. This marginalization renders them practically invisible, as they are kept hidden from society with no available recourse to improve their circumstances or change their plight. They are the 2.3 million American prisoners locked behind bars where we cannot see or hear them. And they are modern-day slaves of the 21st century.

    Incarceration Nation – It’s no secret that America imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in history. With just 5 percent of the world’s population, the US currently holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. In 2008, over 2.3 million Americans were in prison or jail, with one of every 48 working-age men behind bars. That doesn’t include the tens of thousands of detained undocumented immigrants facing deportation, prisoners awaiting sentencing, or juveniles caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline. Perhaps it’s reassuring to some that the US still holds the number one title in at least one arena, but needless to say the hyper-incarceration plaguing America has had a damaging effect on society at large.

    According to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), US prison rates are not just excessive in comparison to the rest of the world, they are also substantially higher than our own longstanding history. The study finds that incarceration rates between 1880 and 1970 ranged from about 100 to 200 prisoners per 100,000 people. After 1980, the inmate population began to grow much more rapidly than the overall population and the rate climbed from about 220 in 1980 to 458 in 1990, 683 in 2000, and 753 in 2008.

    The costs of this incarceration industry are far from evenly distributed, with the impact of excessive incarceration falling predominantly on African-American communities. Although black people make up just 13 percent of the overall population, they account for 40 percent of US prisoners. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), black males are incarcerated at a rate more than 6.5 times that of white males and 2.5 that of Hispanic males and black females are incarcerated at approximately three times the rate of white females and twice that of Hispanic females.


    Read more:

  17. creolechild says:

    Sen. Coburn: Gang Of Six Budget Cuts Will Only Hurt Those ‘Sucking Off’ Programs

    This week, the so-called Gang of Six — composed of Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Kent Conrad (D-ND) — released the outline of a plan that would reduce deficits by about $3.7 trillion over the next 10 years, with about $3 trillion of that coming from spending cuts. The plan closely mirrors that of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission.

    The plan includes many odious measures, including changes to Social Security that would cut benefits by $1,300 per year. It would institute caps on discretionary spending through 2015, and lays out the amount by which individual agencies need to reduce their budgets (without identifying particular programs). But according to Coburn, it doesn’t really matter which programs get cut, because, as he told Al-Jazeera English, it’s only people who are “sucking off the program” that are going to feel any change:

    COBURN: The point is where’s the efficiency in that? The actual service going to people isn’t going to decline, the people sucking off the program are going to be the ones that lose.
    [Click on link to view video.]


  18. @Breaking News:Gunman dressed as policeman has attacked Labour Party youth camp on island just outside Oslo, Oslo journalist tells BBC

  19. Mark Knoller: Pres Obama said he talked to his lawyers and “they are not persuade (the 14th amendment) is a winning argument” on the debt limit.

  20. creolechild says:

    Time for some music? Here’s Blackstreet singing Don’t leave me…

  21. creolechild says:

    Pride and Prejudice
    A selection of ’70s ads depicting African-Americans. —Hank Willis Thomas

    “Unbranded” is a series of images taken from magazine advertisements targeting a black audience or featuring black subjects, which I digitally manipulated and appropriated. In this work-in-progress project that will ultimately span from 1969 through the present, I have removed all aspects of advertising information, e.g., text, logos, in order to reveal what is being sold. Nothing more has been altered. I believe that in part, advertising’s success rests on its ability to reinforce generalizations around race, gender, and ethnicity that can be entertaining, sometimes true, and sometimes horrifying, but which at a core level are a reflection of the way a culture views itself or aspirations. By “Unbranding” advertisements I can literally expose what Roland Barthes refers to as “what-goes-without-saying” in ads, and hopefully encourage viewers to look harder and think deeper about the empire of signs that have become second nature to our experience of life in the modern world.

  22. @MWJ1231:Democratic Lawmakers Wear Buttons Showing Solidarity With Debbie Wasserman Schultz

  23. creolechild says:


    Senate security will use Internet data mining to identify lawmaker threats

    The Senate will conduct data mining of the Internet to identify potential threats against lawmakers, as well as offer Secret Service-led security training sessions for congressional staff.
    The plans come in the wake of January’s shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). “After the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, [the] media did a very good job of saying, ‘They found this, they found this, they found this,’” Senate Sergeant at Arms Terry Gainer said. “I and others have been saying, ‘Are we missing something that would be a pointer as to people who are in need of intervention?’”

    He said his office will issue a contract by July to perform data mining of the Internet and social networking sites in an effort to identify and assess threats before they become an issue. The data mining will be driven by keywords, including lawmakers’ names, and also by threatening terms such as “kill,” “slash” and “shoot.” Asked at what point comments would require further attention, Gainer said it would be depend on the situation.

    “It is not illegal to say, ‘I wish he was dead.’ It’s not illegal to say, per se, ‘I wish someone would put a bullet through his head,’” he said. But “we do have ongoing threats against members, so I might say, ‘OK, if there’s a couple of threats against this member and the member’s going to go a particular area and have a large public forum on a controversial subject, maybe I’ll data mine that and see who’s saying what.’” Flagged comments would then be assessed by forensic psychologists or experienced staff to determine if intervention is required.

    “I can knock on the door and the person could say, ‘I don’t want to talk to you,’ or wherever it might lead in a normal police conversation. But I believe our obligation is to try to connect the dots … before something happens rather than after it happens,” Gainer said. “But the number of dots and the significance of them, that’s the complicated part we’re all trying to figure out.” One potential hurdle is the sheer amount of data resulting from broad keyword searches and how to properly analyze that data to determine true threats.


  24. creolechild says:

    Get Used to New Weather Extremes

    We’re seeing records fall in all directions this year—wettest, driest, warmest, coldest, snowiest, stormiest, fieriest—across the globe. In the US alone, in the month of July alone, 1,079 total heat records have been broken or tied. That’s 559 broken, 520 tied…so far. The map below, generated today at NOAA’s US Records page, shows how records have fallen nationwide, including in Alaska and Hawaii.

    [Click on link to view map.]

    In fact, every state except Delaware has broken heat records so far this month. In Iowa yesterday, the heat index exceeded 130°F/54.4°C—an extremely rare occurrence in this part of the world. According to Jeff Masters, writing at his Wunderblog, the only place where a 130°F heat index is common is along the shores of the Red Sea in the Middle East. However, Delaware won’t dodge the heat bullet much longer. Its own records will likely tumble hard later this week.

    [Click on link to view map.]

    The image above shows the predicted maximum heat index (combined heat and humidity) for July 22. Parts of all but 3 states—Idaho, Oregon, and Washington—are predicted to exceed 100°F/37.7°C. Delaware—in scary yellow—is predicted to rise above 115°F/46.1°C. Ricky Rood points out in his Weather Underground blog that much of July’s heat in the US is compounded by extremely high humidity. And much of the extreme humidity this year is fueled by the extreme floods and saturated soils still plaguing the Midwest.


    Read more:

  25. creolechild says:

    Ron Paul: DC Miser, Galveston Porkmeister

    Welcome to the heart of the congressman’s Texas district, where federal spending has quadrupled since 1999. on a gritty street in Galveston, Texas, a few blocks from the Gulf of Mexico, stands a prime example of the largesse of Republican Rep. Ron Paul. Workers here are putting the finishing touches on a new home, one of about 180 that will be built, at taxpayer’s expense, for residents who lost their abodes to Hurricane Ike back in 2008. The money for this project came from a federal Community Development Block Grant that the libertarian-leaning congressman helped direct to Galveston, the seat of Galveston County, and the most populous part of Paul’s district. “Federal dollars are key,” city spokeswoman Alicia Cahill tells me as a trailer arrives with boxes of new appliances. “Not only to help rebuild these homes, but also for so many infrastructure projects.”

    As a libertarian, Paul says he opposes federal disaster relief, but one of Paul’s staffers told me that his office has shepherded hundreds of FEMA claims, ensured the reconstruction of the county’s seawall, and won federal funding for an extensive beach nourishment project. Indeed, between 1999 and 2009 (the most recent year available), federal spending in Galveston County quadrupled to more than $4 billion. In 2009, the county received $14,707 per resident, topping average per capita federal spending in 46 of the 50 states. Paul earmarked some $60 million for projects in and around the city that year.

    These local projects illustrate a central irony of Ron Paul’s career: Even as the 12-term congressman has become the Cassandra of governmental overreach, he has enabled a deepening dependence on the federal government at home. Paul, who last week announced that he will retire at the end of 2012, will on one hand be remembered as “Dr. No,” the politician who always voted “nay” on new spending, and on the other, as “a politician like all the rest,” as Galveston GOP precinct chair Josh Daniels described him to me last week, noting that Paul’s Janus-faced approach to federal spending “just doesn’t sit well with me.”


  26. creolechild says:


    Has California’s Prison Hunger Strike Really Ended?

    On Thursday, prison officials announced an end to the three week old hunger strike that began at Pelican Bay State Prison. Yet prison advocates claim that those reports have yet to be confirmed. The statement that the hunger strike had ended came Thursday morning from Corrections Secretary Matthew Cole. The strike began on July 1 at Pelican Bay, California’s maximum security prison and soon spread to other prisons throughout the state and country. As Jorge Rivas wrote earlier this week, prison officials had been closely monitoring 49 inmates who had each lost at least ten pounds.

    But Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, a group that’s been advocating on behalf of the inmates since the mass action began, cautions against jumping to conclusions. “This statement has yet to be validated by a single external source,” the group said about prison officials’ announcement that the strike had ended. “Until we receive real confirmation from prisoners and the appointed mediation team, now is not the time to let up our pressure.”…

  27. rikyrah says:

    dude, we have a deficit because of 3 things:

    1. 2 wars OFF THE BOOKS

    2. Medicare part d


    And, your Orange Ass voted for ALL OF IT.


    Political AnimalBlog

    July 22, 2011 11:15 AM

    Boehner feeling the heat

    By Steve Benen

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) held a press conference this morning, and was peppered with questions about the debt-ceiling process. He didn’t offer much in the way of substance, but the Speaker did raise his voice before storming off.

    We have a spending problem! Somebody’s gotta get serious about cutting spending! Our friends across the aisle aren’t at all serious about doing what the American people are demanding: spend less. Bye!”

    I can understand why Boehner is starting to lose his cool a bit. His caucus is poised to crash the economy and his job is likely on the line. But just for the heck of it, let’s take a moment to fact-check this.

    First, we don’t really have a “spending problem.” We have what grown-ups and people who are good at arithmetic like to call a “revenue problem.” In fact, federal revenues have dropped to 15% — a 50-year low — and is a driving factor behind the deficit Republicans created and now pretend to care about.

    Second, the “American people” are really “demanding” that policymakers spend less. What they’re actually demanding is a balanced approach that cuts spending and increases revenue. We know this to be true, because the American people have been asked about this many, many times.

    Here’s a chart I put together that even House Republicans should be able to understand.

    And third, “somebody’s gotta get serious about cutting spending”? Actually, somebody’s gotta get serious about raising the debt ceiling so the nation can pay its bills.

    As one prominent official recently explained, failure on this issue “would be a financial disaster, not only for us, but for the worldwide economy. I don’t think it’s a question that’s even on the table.”

    The official, of course, was John Boehner.

  28. creolechild says:

    Amusement Park Tells Lesbian To Remove Gay Marriage Shirt

    “This is a family park,” said Dollywood amusement park employee to Olivier Odom after he asked her to remove her sarcastic “Marriage is so Gay” t-shirt, according to Knoxville, Tennessee’s WBIR. Apparently, the Dollywood gatekeeper did not realize that marriage – and families – can very well be gay. Odom, at Dollywood with her wife Jennifer Tiptin, was married last year.

    Dollywood asserts it is their policy for gatekeepers to make decisions and enforce the dress code for patrons, but Odom and Tiptin say they were singled-out. “It was just this one guy who picked out this one t-shirt, when there were rebel flags and offensive tatoos there,” said Tiptin to WBIR.
    Odom, who did not want to create a scene in front of her friends’ children, also at the park, went through with the park’s instructions to turn her “offensive” shirt inside out.

    She did, however, write this letter:

    “To ensure that your customers are not treated this way in the future, I would like to see Dollywood: implement policies that are inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people; conduct staff sensitivity training; and issue a public statement indicating that the park is inclusive of all families.”

    As hearings began today to replace the Defense of Marriage Act with the Respect for Marriage Act, Dollywood may have to brace itself for more “Marriage is so Gay” t-shirts and, quite possible, gay marriage.


    • Ametia says:

      I wonder how if/how Dolly Parton is responding to this charge. She certainly never struck me as someone who’d support this kind of treatment.

  29. creolechild says:

    New Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Support Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

    Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is open for business and despite its main creator, Elizabeth Warren, prevented from heading it, the Bureau still enjoys a 74% support from Americans. President Obama appointed Ohio Attorney General, Richard Cordray amid threats that Senate Republicans would not approve anyone to head the Bureau, lest their demands be met. However, a new poll from Center For Responsible Lending (pdf) shows that across partisan lines, Americans support financial reform in some form and want the consumer protection that the CFPB specifically offers. Also today, the House is scheduled to vote on a GOP backed measure that would lessen the influence of the Bureau by replacing a director with a board of directors.

    Some key findings from the Center For Responsible Lending poll:

    Likely voters, including majorities of Independents, Democrats, and Republicans, favor the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform law by a 5 to 1 margin (71% vs. 14%).

    Presented with information about challenges in Congress to the law, almost two-thirds (63%) believe that policymakers should allow the law to be fully implemented.

    Three-quarters (74%) of voters support the existence of a single entity with the mission of protecting consumers from deceptive practices.

    Voters also voice overwhelming support for the following consumer protection functions of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau: Requiring clearer explanations of rates and fees, restricting lenders from offering loans with risky or confusing features, and banning incentives to mortgage brokers to put homeowners into higher rate mortgages than they qualify for.

    Three-quarters (73%) of voters want to see federal oversight of financial companies that previously lacked national oversight, including mortgage brokers, payday lenders, and companies offering pre-paid debit cards.


    • Ametia says:

      Pray tell why would the majority of Americans support a FINANCIAL consumer protection agency, SINCE WALL STREET robbed us blind.

  30. creolechild says:

    Yes, I’ll Dare Call It Treason

    ~snip~ [Click on link to view video.]

    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 campaign bank accounts, they inevitably go with the latter.

    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…. 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.


  31. creolechild says:

    Guess who blinked…and it wasn’t President Obama!!!

    Norquist: Letting tax cuts expire does not violate anti-tax pledge

    A loophole in Americans for Tax Reform’s anti-tax pledge may give the 235 House Republicans and 41 Senate Republicans who signed it a way to raise revenues without breaking the rules. Pledge author Grover Norquist told The Washington Post editorial board that allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire would not violate the vow. “Not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase,” Norquist said. “So it doesn’t violate the pledge?” the editorial board asked. “We wouldn’t hold it that way,” he replied.

    In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Jansing Thursday, Norquist was clear that Americans for Tax Reform would oppose letting tax cuts expire even if that would not technically violate the pledge. “It clearly would be a dramatic increase on taxes,” Norquist said. “How you get into CBO scoring and technicalities is a different issue in terms of taxes lapsing.”

    “So many of the Republicans who have signed this pledge have said they cannot break it, that their constituents expect them to keep this pledge,” Jansing noted. “If they voted — if it’s okay to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, does it break the pledge or are you giving them an out?”

    “There’s certain things you could do technically and not violate the pledge but the general public would clearly understand is a tax increase. So I can be clear, Americans for Tax Reform would oppose any effort to weaken, reduce or not continue the 2001-2003 Bush tax cuts, and any changes of taxes should be kept separate from the budget deal,” he explained.

    The White House was already suggesting that Norquist’s comments to the Post could give House Republicans room to negotiate in debt ceiling talks. “Norquist’s comments in the @washingtonpost are v. significant in the deficit talks. Are most House GOPers to the right of Grover on taxes?” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted.

  32. Ametia says:

    Norwegian state broadcaster NRK says at least one person has died after a huge explosion rocked the center of the capital, Oslo. Dozens more are being treated in hospitals, NRK said, and all roads leading to the center of Oslo have been blocked.
    Windows in several buildings had been blown out, and people were in the street bleeding, NRK said on its website.
    There are conflicting reports about whether a second blast followed the first, which occurred mid-afternoon

  33. Ametia says:

    The Senate votes 51 to 46 to table the “cut, cap and balance” bill passed earlier this week by the House, which would have imposed strict caps on all future federal spending while making it significantly tougher to raise taxes.
    The House passed the measure on Tuesday, mostly along party lines. President Barack Obama said he would veto such a measure, favored by hard-line conservative, and Democrats in the Senate had said they would kill it if it passes the House.

  34. creolechild says:

    Surprise! The American Mainstream Is Not Where the GOP Wants It to Be

    For the better part of the year, congressional Republicans were able to argue, accurately, that Americans opposed raising the debt ceiling. It was arguably the only honest claim the GOP made in this debate: poll after poll showed public opposition to doing the right thing. There was ample evidence that the public had no idea what the debt ceiling is, or what the consequences would be if it weren’t raised, but at least on the surface, far-right Republicans could credibly claim some public backing for their reckless tack. With this in mind, it’s worth appreciating the extent to which the winds have shifted very quickly. Consider the results of the new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

    More than eight in 10 — including 80 percent of Republicans — say there would be serious harm to the U.S. economy if the government could not continue to borrow money to fund its operations and pay its debts after Aug. 2.

    Nearly as many — more than three-quarters — say the financial reputation of the United States would be severely undermined if the government’s borrowing power dried up. Six in 10 say such an event would deeply hurt their own financial situations.

    The same poll found that a majority of Republican voters believe their own party should be more willing to compromise — and that most self-identified Republicans support new revenue as part of a larger debt-reduction plan. Congressional Republicans, in other words, haven’t even convinced their own supporters. Also consider the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, which found that a plurality of Americans — for the first time — actually wants Congress to increase the debt ceiling. Also note the speech with which this turned around: in April, a tiny 16% minority was on board with doing the right thing. Three months later, that total has more than doubled and is now a plurality.

    And this comes on the heels of the latest results from Gallup that showed, contra John McCain’s absurd boast, that Americans are desperate to see the parties to compromise and strike a deal, even if they don’t agree with all of its provisions.


  35. creolechild says:

    ANIMATION: The 400 Wealthiest Americans Could Pay Off Everyone’s Student Loans

    As the government moves into the final days of negotiations over the debt ceiling — negotiations most likely to be concluded by a budget deal that will do significant harm to the poor, the working class and middle class Americans throughout the country — it seemed worthwhile to revisit the bizarreness of the Republicans’ refusal to consider tax hikes on the wealthy of any sort, while the accumulation of wealth at the very top of America’s economic ladder continues to reach staggering levels.

    Forbes Magazine’s annual listing of the 400 richest Americans, as well as the news that student loans in this country are likely to total $1 trillion this year, gave ThinkProgress a practical example on which to base an animated infographic. Watch it:

    Thank you, Jeff Spross and Think Progress!

  36. Le Chele says:

    SouthernGirl, you killing me with this music!!!

    What you should do about Somalia:

    • Morning, Le Chele! What you say about “Push Push”? SG2 loves the old school. We were shaking it down! :)

    • My nephew & his wife adoped a beautiful little girl from Somalia when she was six years old. She was sick and had to have immediate surgery after she arrived here. She couldn’t speak English, cried from loneliness for her family, didn’t like American food, but with much love and care from my nephew and his wife, she has grown up to be a fine young woman and is now in Art School. My nephew and his wife love her so much. She is the apple of their eye!

  37. creolechild says:

    Leahy stands by piracy bill, says First Amendment doesn’t protect thieves

    Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Monday promised he will soon unveil a new version of his controversial bill to combat online piracy. Leahy’s Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) passed in a committee vote last year despite a small but vocal opposition concerned the bill would allow the Justice Department to infringe on freedom of speech. Leahy promised to introduce a new version of the bill soon that would take into account First Amendment concerns, but was adamant copyright violators are not protected by the Constitution. “There’s no First Amendment right that protects thieves. It protects speech,” Leahy said when questioned about free speech concerns with the bill.

    The Obama administration has stepped up enforcement actions against sites that link to or provide pirated and counterfeit content in recent months, mostly through domain seizures carried out by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Critics have argued DHS does not allow owners adequate recourse before their sites are seized. Leahy said his staff is working with DOJ to ensure there is adequate judicial review in the bill for sites taken down by mistake to challenge the action.


  38. creolechild says:

    Republicans Approve Regulation-Blocking Coal Bill on ALEC’s Wish List

    High-resolution aerial survey photograph of the fly-ash sludge spill that resulted in December 2008 when a dike failed at the Kingston, Tennessee, power plant. Over a billion gallons of toxic sludge flowed into the Clinch and Emory rivers. The facility is operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Environmentalists have asked the EPA to regulate coal ash since the disaster. (Photo: Tennessee Valley Authority / SkyTruth)

    House Republicans who have received hefty campaign contributions from coal and electric power companies approved coal legislation supported by the industry and super-lobby group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to approve legislation on July 13 that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating toxic coal ash wastes from electric power plants and delay the implementation of air quality rules. The Republican-controlled House is expected to pass the bills.

    Rep. David McKinley (R-West Virginia) introduced the bill that would block the EPA from regulating coal ash powder and sludge as a hazardous waste and give state agencies authority to further loosen regulations. McKinley’s bill would please members of ALEC, the super-lobby group funded by Peabody Coal, Koch Industries, and others that promotes conservative agendas by supplying state legislators with model bills and resolutions. Last week, the Center for Media and Democracy released 800 pieces of ALEC model legislation, including a resolution opposing any federal regulation of coal ash waste.

    Environmentalists have asked the EPA to regulate coal ash since the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) disaster. In late 2008, a massive coal ash reservoir in Harriman, Tennessee, burst open and spilled more than one billion gallons of heavy-metal laden coal sludge across 300 acres of waterways and private property. The EPA has since made two proposals to regulate coal ash disposal and storage and the first proposal would regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste. Coal ash is currently considered a municipal solid waste, just like batteries, refrigerators, paint, and other types of household trash.


  39. Think Progress:

    Video from the scene of Oslo explosion:

  40. creolechild says:

    EXCLUSIVE: The Deficit Is Not Default of Obama

    Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” gave debtors’ prison a bad rap. Too bad. I’d say that locking away GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a penitentiary for deadbeats seems like a darn good idea. Let’s talk about how we ended up in this pickle, bucking up against the “debt ceiling.” From 2001 to 2008, a Republican president took an annual surplus of $86 billion left for him by Bill Clinton and ran up the budget deficit to over half a trillion in a year ($642 billion in 2008). Altogether, George W. Bush blew up the national debt by over $3 TRILLION – then left the bills to Barack Obama.

    For eight years, Bush spent like a drunk monkey. The world was the GOP’s Bergdorf and they had our credit card. If there was a shiny, new war on the shelf, they just had to have it: Iraq, Afghanistan, and let’s not forget the Fantasy Wars, the half a trillion dollars a year on fancy-ass weapons for a war that won’t happen. (Example: the Virginia Class submarine. (The V-class was designed to attack Soviet subs. There are no more Soviet subs, but Bush ordered three dozen anyway – at $1.8 billion each.)

    And tax cuts? Don’t get me started! The Bush administration acted just like Sarah Palin when she was set loose in that Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis – grabbing whatever she could carry because Sarah could put it on someone else’s account. The GOP’s fattened frat boys feasted – but when the waiter arrived with the bill, the belching rich kids looked around, pointed at some poor schmuck sweeping the floor, Mr. John Q. Veteran, and said, “THAT GUY will pay.” By the way: Congressman Cantor, the guy leading the Republicans’ refusal to lift the debt ceiling, voted for the V-class sub as well as Bush’s bogus scavenger hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But now Cantor doesn’t want to pay the bill.


    • Ametia says:

      This cannot be repeated ENOUGH. 8 years of Bush, 3 wars, and tax cuts destroyed AMERICA’S ECONOMY. And now the Black guys left trying to clean up shit.

  41. Talking Points Memo:

    BREAKING: A photo of the aftermath of the explosion in Oslo:

  42. Reuters reports an explosion has blown out most of the windows of the Norwegian prime minister’s office building.

  43. @scyeatts: Grover Norquist’s Culture of Corruption | The Nation

  44. Grover Norquist’s Dirty Secrets

    @IbisFlight Grover Norquist has many secrets. Here’s another one of Grover Norquist’s Dirty Secrets. Grover Norquist was on the Islamic payroll before and after the carnage of September 11. Gaffney revealed Norquist’s close ties to Abdurahman Alamoudi, who is now serving twenty-three years in prison for financing jihad activity. In 2000, Alamoudi said at a rally, “I have been labeled by the media in New York to be a supporter of Hamas. Anybody support Hamas here? … Hear that, Bill Clinton? We are all supporters of Hamas. I wished they added that I am also a supporter of Hezb’allah.” Alamoudi was at that time head of the now-defunct “moderate” group known as American Muslim Council (AMC), and he was active in other Muslim groups in the U.S. that showed sympathy to or support for jihadists. And Alamoudi, according to Gaffney, gave $50,000 to the lobbying group Janus-Merritt Strategies, which Norquist co-founded.

    Alamoudi’s money bought influence. Gaffney wrote in 2003: “It seems unlikely that even in Alamoudi’s wildest dreams he could have imagined the extent of the access, influence and legitimacy the American Muslim Council and allied Islamist organizations would be able to secure in Republican circles, thanks to the investment they began in 1998 in a relationship with Norquist.”:

  45. Ametia says:

    President Obama: Go ‘big’ on debt deal
    USA TODAY-7-22-11
    by President Obama

    For years now, America has been spending more money than we take in. The result is that we have too much debt on our nation’s credit card — debt that will ultimately weaken our economy, lead to higher interest rates for all Americans, and leave us unable to invest in things like education, or protect vital programs like Medicare.

    Read the rest here:

  46. Ametia says:

    11:00 am EDT- President Obama participates in a Town Hall on the on-going efforts to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction College Park—Ritchie Coliseum, University of Maryland

    Watch it live here:

  47. creolechild says:

    This president, and his administration, are corporatists, right? Right? Bought and paid for by the wealthy? Right? Evidence indicates otherwise…

    WASHINGTON — The US Justice Department Thursday charged three former Credit Suisse bankers and a Swiss trust company founder with helping wealthy Americans evade US taxes by keeping money in secret Swiss bank accounts. The indictment did not mention Credit Suisse by name, since it was the individual bankers, not the bank itself, who were indicted.

    But Credit Suisse announced last week that it was the target of a US Justice Department investigation, which is typically a prelude to an indictment, and media reports indicate that Credit Suisse is the bank in question. Those charged are Markus Walder, the former head of Credit Suisse’s North America Offshore Banking, Susanne D. Ruegg Meier, a former manager at the bank, Andreas Bachmann, a former banker at a Credit Suisse subsidiary, and Josef Dorig, the founder of a Swiss trust company.

    According to the indictment, the four bankers “engaged in illegal cross-border banking that was designed to assist US customers evade their income taxes by opening and maintaining secret bank accounts at the bank and other Swiss banks.” The US Justice Department, which announced the charges, said that as of late 2008, the bank maintained thousands of secret accounts for US customers with as much as $3 billion in total assets under management.


    • creolechild says:

      Here’s supporting documentation, or facts, which support the efforts of the current administration to address the problem of offshore tax havens. No posturing, not widely reported, just quietly and effectively GETTING IT DONE…

      Prepared Remarks of IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman before the 23RD Annual Institute on Current Issues in International Taxation, Washington, DC
      IR-2010-122, Dec. 9, 2010


      During my tenure as Commissioner, I have made cracking down on offshore tax abuse a major priority. I believe our approach follows a natural course…cleaning up the abuses of the past and then mining and leveraging the data we receive to mount a greater attack on the abuse. A perfect example is our Voluntary Disclosure Program and our work on UBS. We had approximately 15,000 voluntary disclosures from individuals who came in before the special VDP program ended last year. And since the special program closed, we have received an additional 3,000 voluntary disclosures from individuals with bank accounts from around the world.

      Collecting additional revenue for past misdeeds – as important as that may be – is not the only important consideration here. It is equally important that we are bringing 18,000 U.S. taxpayers, and counting, back into the system…back into compliance… so they properly report and pay their taxes for years to come.

      Most of you know that a few weeks ago the IRS withdrew the John Doe Summons in the UBS matter. We did so due to our success in obtaining the account holder information we sought through the summons and obtained under the August 2009 agreement with the Swiss government and UBS. We’re closing the chapter on the UBS affair, but as we do so, let’s make sure we see it within a larger context.

      As I have said from the beginning, this was never about one country or one bank. The John Doe Summons was just one piece of a much larger effort underway here at the IRS on international tax compliance issues that is producing real results for U.S. taxpayers. I can’t say this enough: When people cheat on their taxes, the vast majority of honest U.S. taxpayers suffer the consequences and have to make up the difference.

      The VDP and UBS matters are significant, but there is obviously more to come. We have been scouring the vast quantity of data we received from the VDP applicants and from other sources. Although more data mining is still to be done, this information has already proved invaluable in supplementing and corroborating prior leads, as well as developing new leads, involving numerous banks, advisors and promoters from around the world, including Asia and the Middle East.


      Read more:,,id=232223,00.html

  48. Ametia says:

    Justice Department Prepares Subpoenas in News Corp. Inquiry

    The U.S. Justice Department is preparing subpoenas as part of preliminary investigations into News Corp. relating to alleged foreign bribery and alleged hacking of voicemail of Sept. 11 victims, according to a government official.

    The issuance of such subpoenas, which would broadly seek relevant information from the company, requires approval by senior Justice Department leadership, which hasn’t yet happened, the person said.

    The issuance of subpoenas would represent an escalation of scrutiny on the New York-based media company. While the company has sought to isolate the legal problems in the U.K., it has been bracing for increased scrutiny from both the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to people familiar with the company’s strategy.

    Read more:

  49. creolechild says:

    Wall Street has deployed an army of lobbyists to try to whittle away as much of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill as possible, spending $242.2 million on 712 hired guns to press their message on Capitol Hill since the beginning of 2010, according to a new report by Public Citizen.
    The 30 most politically active business and financial industry organizations also ponied up $15.6 million in federal political contributions during the same time period. The entities with the deepest pockets include: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Bankers Association, the Financial Services Roundtable, MetLife, Goldman Sachs, to name just a few.

    Why lay out so much cash to influence Washington in the months leading up to the first anniversary of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law? Some of Wall Street’s biggest firms are gunning for a rule specifically designed to address one the main causes of the financial meltdown: exorbitant incentive-based executive compensation packages.

    The rule broadly bans “excessive” compensation, defined as compensation that is
    “unreasonable or disproportionate to the services performed,” and also prohibits compensation that would “encourage inappropriate risks” by the financial institution. In addition, for financial institutions with $50 billion or more in assets, at least 50 percent of incentive compensation must be deferred for three years and the company’s board must identify individuals who could expose the institution to major losses and ensure their pay packages do not create incentives for excessive risk-taking. The proposal identifies multiple ways companies could structure compensations to balance risks and rewards in incentive pay, but does not require the use of any particular method other than the deferred incentive pay for executives at the very largest financial institutions

    But one of the most basic aspects of the rule, which requires companies to disclose the pay ratio of their rank-and-file employees to their executives (excluding the CEO) to federal agencies, is what has Wall Street lobbyists in a dither. The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced its intention to issue regulations implementing this pay-ratio disclosure requirement in the fall of 2011, spurring the mad lobbying rush.


  50. creolechild says:

    Today’s Quickie:

    Welcome to the tea party era.

    Via Taegan, in part:

    Now it’s just sharp elbows, and instead of having a caucus where you sit down and say, “What are you going to do for your country?” you sit figuring out how to screw the other side.”

    – Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY), quoted by Time…

    That’s what “negotiations” have come down to: screwing the other side. Good faith? Bah! Compromise? Humbug! Doing what’s good for the country? Yeah right. Winning at all costs? Priceless.

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

    Thank you, GottaLaff and Taegen!

  51. creolechild says:

    Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Dies Today

    It’s over. On Friday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Joint Chiefs of Staff will announce that they’re ready to integrate openly gay and lesbian Americans into the armed forces, paving the way for President Obama to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell once and for all.

    Since last December, when Obama and the lame-duck Democratic Congress passed legislation to repeal DADT, the ball’s been in the Pentagon’s court: the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs were tasked with studying the effects of DADT repeal and certifying to the president that yes, it could be done. Once that was to happen, the president could certify their results, and 60 days later, uniformed service would be open to all. “The troops and their commanders are ready. Our nation’s top military leaders have testified that commanders see no significant challenges ahead,” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the anti-discrimination Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said in a statement Thursday night. “The official certification to Congress that the armed forces are prepared for the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ should go to Capitol Hill tomorrow with the President’s signature.”


  52. creolechild says:

    It appears that some people equate issues of life–and death–with a reality show…

    ATLANTA (Reuters) – Georgia officials on Thursday continued to fight a rare order allowing the execution of a man convicted in a triple killing to be videotaped. Andrew Grant DeYoung, 37, is set to be put to death by lethal injection at 7 p.m. for fatally stabbing his parents and his 14-year-old sister in their suburban Atlanta home in 1993. The execution initially was scheduled for Wednesday night, but the Georgia Department of Corrections postponed it for unspecified reasons.

    DeYoung’s execution could be the first one videotaped in the U.S. since 1992, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. A judge this week ordered the videotaping of DeYoung’s lethal injection after lawyers for another death row inmate raised concerns about Georgia’s lethal injection process. The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the order, citing procedural errors in the state’s appeal. Early on Thursday, the state asked the original judge to reconsider her order.

    In their motion, Georgia attorneys said videotaping would interfere with security measures surrounding the execution. The state also took issue with the judge’s decision to allow experts to be present during the execution to witness DeYoung’s “physiological responses” to the drugs, saying the order conflicts with state law regarding who may witness an execution. Attorneys for death row inmates have argued that pentobarbital, one of the three drugs Georgia uses in lethal injections, causes “needless suffering.”


  53. creolechild says:

    TUNIS — Hundreds of Tunisians rallied in the capital Thursday, denouncing the “violence and chaos” that persist six months after the toppling of authoritarian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
    The protesters marched for three kilometres (two miles) to the central Pasteur square, closely watched by police, while chanting “Yes to unity”, AFP reporters witnessed.

    The group had responded to a call to protest by eight political parties, which did not include the Islamist Ennhda group. The protesters denounced the Rally for Constitutional Democracy party of Ben Ali, which was banned after his demise but whose members they suspect of trying to exert behind-the-scenes influence.

    “No to regression, no to fanaticism,” they chanted outside a mosque as the faithful emerged from their afternoon prayers. A wave of protests by young Tunisians demanding more freedom and jobs led to the shock January ouster of Ben Ali, who had ruled the country for more than two decades with an iron fist. The revolt tipped the first domino of the Arab Spring still raging across the region but demonstrations have continued in Tunisia, where many have complained over the slow pace and depth of reform. A series of incidents — demonstrations against the government and attacks against police stations — left one dead and several wounded over the weekend.


  54. creolechild says:

    Congress, FCC hit brakes on T-Mobile, AT&T merger

    AT&T’s proposed merger with T-Mobile USA, once seen as inevitable, hit some significant speed bumps this week. Industry observers say the headwinds do not mean that the merger won’t ultimately win regulatory approval, but the company is going to have to prove to Congress and to regulators that consumers won’t suffer under the deal.

    One expert predicted that AT&T will redouble its efforts to get the merger approved. “AT&T has a $3 billion payback to T-Mobile if this deal doesn’t go [through], so they have every motivation to make this happen,” said Rob Frieden, a professor of telecommunications and law at Penn State University. “If anything this motivates AT&T to double and redouble its outreach and its lobbying.”

    The $39 billion acquisition met resistance in Congress for the first time this week when Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust subpanel, urged regulators to block it. “Approval of this acquisition would also reverse the historic triumph of competition policy of three decades ago — the breaking up of the AT&T phone monopoly into numerous competitors, unleashing an explosion of innovation that led to such technologies as cell phones and the Internet,” Kohl wrote in a seven-page letter laying out his opposition. The bad news for the company continued late Wednesday when the Federal Communications Commission stopped the clock on its review of the merger. The agency is waiting on AT&T to provide additional economic and engineering analysis of the potential benefits from combining the companies.


  55. creolechild says:

    Transportation Secretary LaHood: FAA Shutdown Would Result In ‘Immediate Furlough’ Of 4,000 Workers | The shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration that will occur Friday night if Congress does not reach a deal to extend its authorization would result in the “immediate furlough” of 4,000 workers, bring a halt to $2.5 billion in airport construction projects, and cost the government about $200 million a week in lost airline ticket taxes, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said on a conference call Thursday. Previously, FAA reauthorization has sailed through Congress 20 times, but Republicans have ground the process to a halt with the inclusion of an anti-union measure this year. LaHood called on Congress to pass a clean re-authorization bill — preferably to cover the next five to six years, he said — before the FAA shuts down at close of business tomorrow. “This is just not the right way to run America’s aviation system,” LaHood said.

  56. creolechild says:

    The country is inching ever closer to embracing a religiously infused political agenda. The list of candidates who claim to have been chosen by God to run for office is as distressingly robust as it is absurd. “I am a Christian” begins many a conservative pronouncement, as if their religious predilection would direct their views towards goals that would change the course of history. This could actually happen if more reasonable actors on the political stage fail to pay attention to the impending disaster inherent in the conflation of religion and politics.

    If our founders hadn’t been concerned that a particular religious view would become intertwined in our political apparatus they wouldn’t have included a constitutional proviso stating unambiguously that no religious test should ever be required for office-holders. Strangely, the most vociferous supporters of the Constitution are the very people who trumpet Christian values as the basis for making sound political choices.

    An intellectual approach to problem-solving is rarely activated in the partisan world right-wing activists have created for the rest of us. Mindless bromides substitute for meaningful dialogue and we find ourselves adrift in waves of oblique references that mirror the convoluted approach many lawmakers undertake to stifle true debate and keep their issues in the forefront whether or not they are relevant in any specific context. The Washington Monthly, 7/15 speaks to this matter – – “The principal concern should be over whether the public is forced to endure pain in order to satisfy the ideological whims of madmen who don’t belong in public office but who wield enormous power over our collective future.”


  57. Now I know how you all do this. You just stay up way late. So, I may be the first post of this new day since it is just about midnight for me. Would it be impolite of me to say that I would really like a good cup of tea. I do like coffee but not first thing in the morning. ♥

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