Wednesday Open Thread

Albert Greene (born April 13, 1946),[1] better known as Al Green, is an American gospel and soul music singer. He reached the peak of his popularity in the 1970s, with hit singles such as “You Oughta Be With Me”, “I’m Still In Love With You”, “Love and Happiness”, and “Let’s Stay Together”.[2] In 2005, Rolling Stone named him #65 in their list of the ‘100 Greatest Artists of All Time’. The nomination, written by Justin Timberlake, stated that “people are born to do certain things, and Al was born to make us smile.”[3] The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Green in 1995, referring to him as “one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music.” Green has sold more than 20 million records.[2]

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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59 Responses to Wednesday Open Thread

  1. Ametia says:

    Mike Dyson is hosting the Ed Show tonight. UGGGGGGGGGH Bill Maher is on bashing the POTUS.

  2. rikyrah says:

    would appreciate a link to an embeddable video of the President’s fundraiser tonight.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Kenwood community looks for answers in murder spike
    Residents say violence ‘rare’ in neighborhood Obama calls home

    By Serena Maria Daniels and Jeremy Gorner, Tribune reporters

    9:39 p.m. CDT, August 2, 2011
    Residents are up in arms about a spurt of violence in the Kenwood and Hyde Park communities, not far from where Secret Service agents keep President Barack Obama’s stately residence tightly guarded with concrete barriers.

    Nearly 150 people packed a recent Chicago Police Board meeting to hear a response to the violence, which includes four slayings in a little more than three months — all within about a mile of the president’s home on a block of million-dollar brick mansions.

    “I’m not going to let my daughters grow up and become immune to the sound of gunshots,” Ghian Foreman, himself a Kenwood resident and a member of the Police Board, said at the meeting as his voice cracked with emotion and he fought back tears.

    The Chicago Police Department’s No. 2 official blamed the recent violence on warring between two “wannabe” gangs.

    In the most recent slaying, Tony McCoy, the son of a popular Chicago Park District mentor who organized violence prevention activities in addition to basketball tournaments, was gunned down in broad daylight less than three weeks ago. Although police said they believe the recent violence was gang-related, McCoy’s parents are adamant their son was not a gang member.

    On that Saturday afternoon, McCoy’s mother, Sandra Jefferson, had watched in horror for more than two hours as her son’s lifeless body lay on a Kenwood driveway near his home that stifling summer day as police scoured the scene for evidence.

    In an interview last week, Jefferson said she insisted on a curfew for her son even though he was 20 — 11:30 p.m. on weekdays and 12:30 a.m. on weekends.

    “I used to text him if he wasn’t here and tell him to come home,” Jefferson said while sitting on a bench in Kenwood Park, where her son often played sports growing up. “I expected him to come in that door, and even though it was embarrassing for him, he would do it.”

    Usually few spectators attend meetings of the Police Board, whose responsibilities deal mostly with the discipline of officers. But dozens of residents from Kenwood and surrounding neighborhoods Hyde Park and Bronzeville saw it as a chance to talk to police brass about the violence, crowding into the meeting room at police headquarters last month.

    Over the course of two hours, residents shouted questions at officials about the violence.

    “Never before have we seen the tragedies that have occurred over the last few months,” Ogi Eggleston, a lifelong resident of Hyde Park, said as he read from a letter before receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. “The rare sound of gunfire has become commonplace.”

    Eggleston read off the names of eight victims who have died since April from gun violence — one victim accidentally shot himself, while four of the slayings took place in Kenwood and Hyde Park, including one just a couple of blocks from Obama’s Georgian-style home.

    While the other three slayings occurred in areas where violence is more prevalent, they have reinforced area residents’ perceptions that their quality of life is being threatened.

    Until the recent wave in violence, the last slaying in Kenwood had been in December 2009, when a 79-year-old man was killed in a parking lot.

    A combined three slayings took place in Kenwood and Hyde Park in both 2008 and 2009, and none occurred in 2010, according to a Tribune review of police statistics.

    First Deputy Superintendent Al Wysinger, the department’s No. 2 official, who attended the meeting, blamed the recent violence on a dispute between what he described as wannabe gangs — Young Money and 46 Terror Town.

    “We’re dealing with a bunch of youth that want to be gang members,” said Wysinger, who vowed to keep a close eye on the progress of the investigations.

    But many of the residents at the meeting seemed incredulous at police officials’ answers to their questions. Some audibly scoffed at certain responses.

    “He was dancing around some of the questions,” Javin Foreman, a younger brother of the board member who also attended the meeting, said of one police official. “I want to see some sort of plan of action.”,0,7084877.story

  4. rikyrah says:

    since I know a lot of people eat ground turkey instead if ground beef


    Cargill recalls 36 million pounds of turkey over Salmonella

    Cargill has begun the recall of 36 million pounds of ground turkey tied to a California death from Salmonella, Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation announced on Wednesday.

    Cargill Value Added Meats Retail, a business unit of Wichita, Kansas-based Cargill, announced an immediate voluntary recall of the fresh and frozen ground turkey products due to possible contamination from Salmonella Heidelberg.

    Given our concern for what has happened, and our desire to do what is right for our consumers and customers, we are voluntarily removing our ground turkey products from the marketplace,” said Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill’s turkey processing business, adding that there is no conclusive answer on the source of the contamination.

    Cargill is initiating the recall as a result of its internal investigation, that of the United States Food and Drug Administration Inspection Services, and an August 1 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a recent outbreak of illnesses from the Salmonella strain, according to Cargill.

    Cargill owns four turkey processing facilities in the U.S. but only its Springdale, Arkansas location is involved in the recall.,0,7138746.story

  5. rikyrah says:

    How the GOP lost on the debt deal

    By Daniel Markovits

    August 2, 2011, 7:10 p.m.
    The chorus of liberal lament began even before the details of the deal to raise the debt ceiling were known. Rep. Raul Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive caucus, complained that the deal “trades peoples’ livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals.” Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times, called the deal a policy “catastrophe” and “an abject surrender on the part of the president.”

    In the bigger picture, however, the debt deal represents a substantial success for President Obama and the Democrats. It does indeed impose cuts that will slow the economic recovery and unjustly burden working Americans. But the deal is much nearer an affirmation of the president’s core commitments than a surrender. Moreover, the deal that the president got is much, much less bad, from the progressive point of view, than a coldly rational observer would have predicted. The reason the president beat the odds is simple: The Republicans blinked.

    Begin by reviewing some basic facts. The need to raise the debt ceiling made the default position, well … default. To avoid default required a deal. And under our system of checks and balances, a deal required the president and both houses of Congress to say yes. To block a rise in the debt ceiling and trigger default, one party need control only the House or, given the filibuster rule, just a substantial minority in the Senate. And the Republicans — until now the party of no — have both.

    Next, consider some basic negotiation theory. Every negotiator begins by looking to what is inelegantly called the BATNA, or Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. No one will rationally accept a deal that is worse than his BATNA. That’s why the party that can do well without a deal almost always does better with a deal.

    Now apply these considerations to the debt ceiling debate.

    Obama and the Democrats made it clear that default would be catastrophic. They believe, as a matter of economic fact, that default would have sent the economy back into recession and possibly depression. And they believe, as a matter of moral principle, that such a downturn would inflict wanton cruelty on hardworking Americans. The Democrats’ BATNA was not much of an option.

    Congressional Republicans, especially the House “tea party” types who are commonly said to be calling the Republican shots, were in a different position. Republican economists ranging from the Cato Institute’s John Tamny to Christian evangelical Gary North have long argued that default would not be that big a deal. And the House Republicans’ moral position, as their nearly unanimous support for the Cut, Cap and Balance Act made clear, approves a draconian roll-back of the core entitlements — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — that drive the debate on the national debt.

    Because the United States is constitutionally required to honor its debts, cuts following a failure to raise the debt ceiling would have fallen on these programs. And so the Republicans’ BATNA fell strikingly near their ideal policy. On the issue of default, in other words, the tea party and its fellow travelers had very little to lose.

    Given this posture, and given the tea partyers’ apparent commitment to ideological purity over electability, basic negotiation theory predicts that only deals close to the Republican negotiating position — the position embodied in Cut, Cap and Balance — would ever be made. The most that the Republicans should have agreed to is a short-term stop-gap rise in the debt ceiling, insisting on some cuts in social spending now while retaining all of their leverage for demanding deep, structural cuts in a subsequent negotiation in the fall.

    The deal that was struck is dramatically — shockingly — better from the Democrats’ point of view.

    The deal eliminates the leverage created by another imminent default until after the next election, where it will be exercised by new and possibly differently constituted players.

    And today’s Republicans have not gotten much for giving up their leverage; certainly nothing close to what they asked for in Cut, Cap and Balance. The current deal cuts social programs rather than raising revenue, to be sure. But while the cuts are significant and will hurt, they leave the basic core of the American social safety net intact. And the bipartisan committee charged with negotiating a grander bargain in the fall is free to revisit the possibility of new taxes. In addition, it will take up the orthodox anti-tax position (represented by the balanced budget amendment) in a manner guaranteed to be purely symbolic.

    Perhaps most important, this week’s debt deal does nothing to change the fact that the George W. Bush tax cuts will expire at the end of 2012. Obama and congressional Democrats will be able to bargain for increased taxes on the wealthy, in a situation in which they have much less to lose.

    The radicals in the Republican Party dragged the country to the edge of a cliff, but they failed to push us off; and they were even forced, at the last moment, to pull back.

    Progressives have reason to lament the incremental cuts in the deal. But that which does not kill a social contract may make it stronger. And neither progressives nor the country should lose sight of the fact that the core institutions of ours — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — have all been reaffirmed.,0,2334100.story

  6. rikyrah says:

    RNC Accuses President Obama … Of Fundraising

    RNC chair Reince Priebus is raining on President Obama’s 50th birthday fundraiser in Chicago, saying the president is too focused on campaigning.

    “I suppose the White House thinks he should stick to the job he really likes, raising money from fat cat donors, while the rest of America struggles with trying to make ends meet,” Priebus said in a call with reporters on Wednesday.

    The messenger for the attack was a bit odd given that the RNC’s primary duty is fundraising for Republican campaigns. In Priebus’ case, he campaigned for the job specifically based on his ability to reel in big-money donors that had left during Michael Steele’s tenure. “We will work to regain the confidence of our donor base and I will personally call our major donors to ask them to rejoin our efforts at the RNC,” he wrote in a letter to committee members last year.

    Priebus was asked by a reporter on Wednesday’s call why Obama’s fundraising crossed the line.

    “I think it’s another case of this president’s rhetoric not matching his deeds,” Priebus replied. “He’s tried all week to try this spin that now the White House is pivoting to jobs, which they’ve tried many times before, and the first job Obama is interested in saving is his own.”

  7. rikyrah says:

    Paul Ryan To Dems: Show Us Your Budget…No, The Other One!

    Before yesterday, Republicans on Capitol Hill liked to feign anger about Senate Democrats’ failure to pass a budget in over two years.

    Now that the debt limit deal is done — and it’s essentially a 10-year budget, with the force of law — Republicans are…still attacking Democrats for…not passing a budget!

    Here’s Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) — the GOP’s top budget guy — in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:

    “[T]he president still hasn’t shown us his cards. He still hasn’t put forward a credible plan to tackle the threat of ever-rising spending and debt, and his evasiveness is emblematic of the party he leads…. Meanwhile, it has been over two years since the Democrat-controlled Senate passed any budget at all. This is a historic failure to fulfill one of the most basic responsibilities of governing.”

    For starters, President Obama proposed a budget in February, as required by law. As is often the case, Congress had its own ideas. The Senate, controlled by Democrats, sat on their hands and the House, under Ryan’s guidance, passed a budget that phases out Medicare. During the debt limit fight, Dems’ budget guy Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) finally drafted one. None of these had, or could have, the force of law — they were blueprints for other policy. Since then both the House and Senate passed, and President Obama signed, the debt limit deal. For better or worse, they all own it, and it is, in effect, a legally-binding budget bill. It lays out spending limits, and calls for further austerity in the months ahead.

    But since it’s not technically a “budget resolution” like the Ryan plan Republicans voted for, the GOP’s going to keep poking Dems for this. And the reason is clear: they want Dems to put themselves just as far out on a limb endorsing controversial Medicare cuts, in part so they can neutralize the damage they did to themselves.

    It may work, and it may not. A newly created deficit committee will soon tackle entitlement reform, and if their final report includes benefit cuts, and Dems vote for it, we’ll be back, in tennis terms, at love-love.

  8. President Obama speaks live from his birthday event in Chicago

  9. rikyrah says:

    Steve King: Covering Birth Control Will Make Us ‘A Dying Civilization’

    Rep. Steve King (R-IA) thinks it’s “Orwellian” that the federal government would require health insurance providers to cover birth control, and that if left unchecked the policy could allow the U.S. to become “a dying civilization.”

    On Monday the Obama Administration announced that insurers will soon be required to cover birth control, among other services, with no co-pays. All of the services were described by the Obama Administration as “preventive health services,” based on recommendations from the independent, nonprofit Institute of Medicine.

    King objected to this policy on the House floor on Monday night, saying that it is simply government overreach and part of Obama’s plan for socialized medicine: “We have people that are single, we have people that are past reproductive age, we have priests that are celibate. All of them, paying insurance premiums that cover contraceptives so that somebody else doesn’t have to pay the full fare of that?”

    King particularly took offense to the “preventative” part of the language: “And they’ve called it preventative medicine. Preventative medicine. Well if you applied that preventative medicine universally what you end up with is, you’ve prevented a generation. Preventing babies from being born is not medicine.”

    “That’s not constructive to our culture and our civilization,” King said. “If we let our birth rate get down below the replacement rate we’re a dying civilization.”

    He later added: “Now none of us would have health to care about if they prevented us, would they Mr. Speaker? That is just it is bizarre, it’s Orwellian.”

  10. rikyrah says:

    Dr. Boyce Watkins; WVON Fires Host, Thanks To Financial Pressure from McDonald’s…

    I’ve never met Lenny McAllister, a former host on WVON 1690 in Chicago. The only thing I know is that Lenny is a Republican (which I am not), and that WVON was once my favorite radio station in the entire country. The station, in my mind, has always represented the essence and history of the South Side of Chicago, a place that is near and dear to my heart.

    The other thing I know about Lenny is that he was fired from WVON apparently for helping another black man in need. My head cocked to the side when I heard about Lenny’s dismissal, in large part because it is uncharacteristic of a station that stands for civil rights to so readily violate the rights of a fellow African American. But as usual, when one wants to find the root of unethical behavior, you only need to follow the money.

    One of Lenny’s mentees was a 21-year old student at Chicago State University. The young man was working as a night manager at a local McDonald’s in order to support his girlfriend and their 6-day old son. He was an outstanding member of the school’s ROTC and set to be deployed to the Middle East later that year.

    Unfortunately, the student’s son died in early July. McAllister claims that the young man then called his boss, Keith Allen, to ask him if he could take the day off to make funeral arrangements for his child. The owner then allegedly told the young man that he would be fired if he didn’t come to work. So, the young man did what most of us would do – he spent the day with his grieving girlfriend and planned to bury his child.

    McAllister tried to help the boy by going to the airwaves and calling for his listeners to boycott Allen’s McDonald’s franchises. Allen apparently owns five McDonald’s restaurants in the area, and McAllister felt that the community should take a “holiday” away from the businesses owned by a black man who would fire a brother who’d just experienced such a tragic loss.

    According to McAllister: ”If this was a white business owner and a black college student, you’d all be marching down Martin Luther King Drive (in Chicago) singing, ‘We Shall Overcome.’ Well, this is a black business owner and a black college student willing to serve our country and care for his family. What are you going to do about it?”

    When listeners were responding to McAllister’s on-air call for a boycott (the local NAACP chapter also supported it), that’s when things got interesting. WVON reportedly received a call from a representative of BMOA (the Black McDonald’s Owners of America), who threatened to pull all advertising away from WVON if the boycott were not called off.

    McAllister raised enough money in donations to pay for the funeral for his mentee’s son and he promptly ended the boycott. After wining a hard fought battle on behalf of another brother, McAllister was allegedly fired from WVON the following day (he was told that his position was “under review” – translation: ”We’re trying to find a reason to get rid of you“).

    The story of Lenny McAllister makes me want to put on my Finance Professor hat for just a second. As I’ve reiterated in the past, money is powerful, like a drug. A drug can either heal you and make you strong, or it can turn you into an addict. One of the great challenges of the financially-starved, yet exceedingly materialistic African American community is that we’ve become convinced that financial gain is an excuse for almost any egregious and unethical decision we might make: The NAACP finds it acceptable to take money from a bank (Wells Fargo) accused of Predatory Lending, BET’s quest for corporate sponsorship makes them an accomplice to the promotion of some of the most damaging psychological poison in our society, and now a storied station like WVON runs away from doing the right thing because a wealthy corporation has basically extorted their commitment to civil rights.

    Let’s be clear: Mr. Allen was wrong to fire this young man in light of his family’s condition. Allen likely did not anticipate that Mr. McAllister would stand up for the young man in the way that he did. Once McAllister did the right thing by supporting the young man (which any decent black man would do), Allen simply tried to raise the stakes by resorting to the massive economic power of the McDonald’s corporation. At the end, WVON feels that it has no choice but to buckle – whether we’re talking about actual drugs on the street or the powerful drug of money, an addict always folds to the pusher.

    Well, the community doesn’t have to buckle and I would define this situation to be a moment of truth. The boycott started by Mr. McAllister against Mr. Allen’s restaurants should be continued by all of those in the Chicago community who believe in the importance of doing what is right. We’re not all part of the vast corporate puppetry controlled by McDonald’s and WVON can’t fire us all. Based on the facts that that have been presented to me, the moral high ground is clear: firing this young man in the midst of such a horrific tragedy is simply unconscionable, and no amount of money should make us believe otherwise.

  11. Ametia says:

    ALEC was behind multiple bills in the last Minnesota legislative session
    By Jon Collins | 08.03.11 | 3:35 pm |

    A national nonprofit that’s drawn criticism for allowing corporations to write legislation directly with state lawmakers can be traced to bills introduced in Minnesota last session, including language that would shield large corporations from consumer lawsuits and undermine greenhouse gas reduction goals.

    The bills were revealed as Common Cause released a report on the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is financially supported by corporations like Koch Industries and Wal-Mart. At regular conferences, including one going on in New Orleans right now, these corporations draft corporate-friendly legislation that is approved by state legislators on legislative task forces and then introduced at state capitols across the country without disclosure that the business interests wrote them.

    “The work of ALEC shows how the Minnesota capitol is governed by corporate lobbyists instead of main street voters,” said Mike Dean, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota. “Dozens of corporations are investing millions of dollars to write business-friendly legislation that is being passed into law without public knowledge and often at the expense of the public interest.”

    Common Cause Minnesota found a number of recent Minnesota bills that mirrored ALEC counterparts:

    •Voter Restrictions: (HF 89, SF 479) Bill that critics say would suppress voter turnout. ALEC legislation.
    •Taxation of Moist Snuff Tobacco: (HF 1079) This bill, created by tobacco companies, would create a tax break for moist tobacco. ALEC legislation.
    •Cheeseburger Bill: (HF 264, SF 160) This bill partially shields large food companies from consumer lawsuits. ALEC connection from Inside ALEC magazine.
    •End Greenhouse Gas Emission Goals (HF 509) This bill opposes efforts to restrict the emission of greenhouse gases. ALEC legislation.
    The ALEC conference in New Orleans this week includes workshops about pension reform, privatization of Medicaid and the benefits of C02 (in a global warming context).

  12. Ametia says:

    Posted at 02:17 PM ET, 08/03/2011
    Debt drama over, Obama treats staff to lunch on Capitol Hill
    By David Nakamura

    A day after signing the $2.4 trillion deficit reduction package into law, President Obama took his budget staff out to celebrate — with a lunch at Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill. The restaurant is owned by Spike Mendelsohn, who appeared on the TV cooking show “Top Chef.”

    The aides included Jack Lew, the budget director; Rob Nabors, director of legislative affairs; Ann DeParle, deputy chief of staff for policy; Bruce Reed, chief of staff to Vice President Biden; and Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council.

    Obama seemed in good spirits, announcing to the cashier that he would treat not just for his staff’s lunch but also for the meal of a woman standing next to them in line.

    “It smells good,” he said told customers on the second floor, according to a press pool report distributed to reporters. “Michelle eats here all the time, but I don’t get out.”

    • U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd R) eats a hamburger and fries with members of his staff who have been working on resolving the debt ceiling issue, at the Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill in Washington, August 3, 2011. With Obama are (L-R) Office of Management and Budget Director Jack lew, Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling, Director of Legislative Affairs Rob Nabors and Chief of Staff of the Vice President, Bruce Reed.

    • President Barack Obama waits to order lunch at Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011.

    • A customer (R) reacts as U.S. President Barack Obama offers to pay for her lunch as he orders his own at the Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill in Washington, August 3, 2011. Obama ate lunch at the restaurant with members of his staff (not pictured) who, for the past months have been working at resolving the debt ceiling issue.

  13. rikyrah says:

    Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 11:10 AM PDT.

    No one wants to go to Rick Perry’s Christianist party

    Maybe he should rethink that whole “running for president” thing.
    Earlier this year, the Texas Governor called on Christians across the U.S. to come to Houston for a prayer event aimed at bringing God’s help to a “nation in crisis.”
    Organizers of the religious gathering, dubbed “The Response,” say only 8,000 people have registered on-line to attend this Saturday’s event at Houston’s Reliant Stadium, a venue with a seating capacity of 71,000.

    Eric Bearse, a “Response” spokesman and former speech-writer for the potential GOP presidential candidate, says attendance numbers are a non-issue.

    “Not concerned whatsoever. We think it will be a powerful event whether it is 8,000 or 50,000. The only people concerned about numbers are press,” Bearse said.

    Well, yeah. If no one shows up to your (heavily promoted) party, then it says quite a bit about you. Like you suck and no one likes you, even if you fancy yourself to be a prophet.

    CAVUTO: You have kind of like the Chris Christie phenomenon: very popular outside your state, still popular but not nearly as popular within your state. There are even Tea Party groups within your state who like you but don’t love you. […] What do you say?
    PERRY: I say that a prophet is generally not loved in their hometown. That’s both Biblical and practical.

    Poor Perry. All that’s missing is a cross and some nails.


  14. rikyrah says:

    August 03, 2011 12:35 PM

    Becoming the target of international mockery

    By Steve Benen

    Even before the debt-ceiling agreement was approved, the United States’ reputation, which had been improving in recent years, was suffering a major, self-inflicted blow. The Republican-imposed breakdown of our political process “eroded America’s already diminishing aura” among “foreign leaders and in global markets.”

    Apparently, having a large group of American officials willing to gamble our economy, our reputation, and our credibility, as part of an ideological game, suggested to the world that the trustworthiness of the United States is a thing of the past.

    The deal, of course, was adopted yesterday, but international mockery continues. Thanks to unhinged Republican antics, Joshua Keating reports that the world has been laughing at us.

    Chinese state-sponsored media is characterizing the United States as “an unruly, wayward child.” Russian media is saying its national problems are bad, but at least they’re not Americans. In India, people are being told that the United States “cannot be counted on when the tough decisions are being made.” A British newspaper explained, “[A]s long as a generation of Republican politicians feel entitled to hold a gun to the head of the credit of America to secure their political ends — disaster will never be far away.”

    Keating also noted, “You know you’re in trouble when even the losers start picking on you.”

    Piling on, the debt-ridden economies of Europe — the so-called “PIGS” — have responded to the United States’ near failure to get its fiscal house in order. The Greek broadsheet Ekathimerini writes that the United States today “displays all the signs of decadence that condemned all previous superpowers: Stability and prosperity allowed small groups to gather disproportionate power, and they then forced the state to serve their interests at the expense of those of society as a whole.” Much like Greece, the editors write, the United States is now “paying the price of complacency.”

    The Irish may still love Barack Obama but Lara Marlowe, Washington correspondent for the Irish Times, writes that despite the deal, “the damage to Obama’s reputation and to faith in the ability of the US to lead a global economic recovery may be irreparable”. Bemoaning the U.S. president’s failure to stand-up to the Tea Party, Marlowe writes that “as the country surveyed the smouldering detritus of the debt crisis yesterday, the Tea Party stood triumphant in the ashes.”

    In Spain, where recent street protests over high unemployment recently brought the government to a standstill, El País argues that, “The United States is now in the same basic trap as the Old Continent,” forced to enact harsh austerity measures in order to reduce the deficit, but hampering economic growth in the process. The deal “transmits the message that the policies proposed by the radical core of the Republican Party, the Tea Party, will be an obstacle for crisis management in Washington,” the editors conclude.

    There’s some irony to this. The right has been obsessed for some time with the notion of “American exceptionalism,” and yet, these same conservatives have been eager to make the United States an international laughingstock.

    As we talked about the other day, I don’t know if Republican lawmakers are aware of any of this. Worse, I also don’t know if they care. But American leadership on the global stage rests on certain pillars that took generations to build and strengthen — credibility, reliability, stability, the integrity of our institutions, sound judgment. The Republican Party severely undermined these pillars in the Bush era, most notably in areas of foreign policy and the use of military force. The Republican Party has now severely undermined them again.

    The world has been watching and thanks to GOP madness, the sanity of the world’s greatest superpower is very much in doubt.

    In politics, disputes come and go. Some missteps, however, are difficult to forgive.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    August 03, 2011 2:40 PM

    A ‘thoughtful’ bad idea is sill a bad idea

    By Steve Benen
    As regular readers know, I tend to think of the Balanced Budget Amendment as one of the worst ideas in the history of bad ideas. That congressional Republicans managed to create a BBA this year that was even worse than the previous version is a testament to their creativity.

    What sensible policymakers should be doing is dismissing this “pathetic joke” of a proposal as quickly as possible. Trying to create a more “thoughtful” version is a step in the wrong direction.

    Enter Sen. Mark Udall, the centrist Democrat from Colorado, who has introduced an amendment proposal and said Tuesday that Democratic leaders have chosen his legislation to be considered in the fall.

    President Obama and other senior Democrats have opposed any balanced-budget amendment, but the idea is popular with many voters — particularly independents, who are growing more fiscally conservative. […]

    Udall’s amendment has a couple of provisions that might win over some Democrats. It creates a “Social Security lockbox” (with apologies to Al Gore and his Saturday Night Live impersonator) that his office says would “protect the revenue and outlays of Social Security from any balanced budget requirement.” And it prohibits Congress from providing income tax breaks for people earning over $1 million a year unless the country is enjoying budget surpluses.

    “What I’m proposing is the most responsible, thoughtful, and workable balanced budget amendment,” Udall said.

    I’m sure Udall means well, but a more “thoughtful” version of a bad idea is sill a bad idea.

    In addition to all of the usual reasons a BBA is a tragic mistake — reasons that apply to Udall’s measure and the Republican versions alike — it’s worth reemphasizing a couple of related points.

    First, the whole idea of the BBA is a cheap cop-out. Policymakers who want to balance the budget can put together a plan to balance the budget. It’s hard work, of course, and would require sacrifice and compromise, but those who take this goal seriously can put in the effort and craft a plan.

    But they really don’t want to. Instead of drafting a plan to balance the budget, BBA proponents want a constitutional gimmick that will mandate a policy goal they can’t figure out how to accomplish on their own. That’s not responsible policymaking; that’s the opposite.

    And in case this isn’t already obvious, even the point of this endeavor is misguided. Sometimes, running deficits is the smart, responsible thing to do, and to assume that the budget should always be balanced is fundamentally misguided.

    There’s no way to put lipstick on this pig. Any version of the Balanced Budget Amendment is just a horrible idea. Well-intentioned policymakers who want to lower the deficit should focus less on constitutional gimmicks and more on economic growth and fiscal responsibility.

  16. rikyrah says:

    On Peter Daou’s Analysis
    by BooMan
    Wed Aug 3rd, 2011 at 01:25:34 PM EST

    I agree with a lot of Peter Daou’s analysis. I especially agree on three points. First, the culture of Washington DC is absolutely toxic and really does resemble a bad movie about high school. Second, the political Establishment, including the Democratic Establishment, is not in tune with progressive politics. Third, if we’re ever going to stop losing ground to the radical right, the Democratic Establishment is going to have to learn to work with the activist base. Where I have a problem with Daou’s take on things is that he places all the blame for this less-than-ideal relationship on the Democratic Establishment and he gives the progressive blogosphere a complete pass.
    Daou quotes Kevin Drum making sense.

    Conservatives have just flat out won this debate in recent decades, and until that changes we’re not going to be able to make much progress.
    This is why I blame the broad liberal community for our failures, not just President Obama. My biggest beef with Obama is the same one I had three years ago, namely that he’s never really even tried to move public opinion in a specifically progressive direction. But that hardly even matters unless all the rest of us have laid the groundwork. And we haven’t. Wonks, hacks, activists, all of us. We just haven’t persuaded the public to support our vision of government. Until we do, the tea party tendency will always be more powerful than we are.

    But Daou rejects this blame, arguing that the problem is that the Democratic Establishment is responsible for our failures because they don’t work with their activist base. Daou offers up a fantasy alternate universe for our consideration:

    Imagine a scenario where Democrats, instead of marginalizing the netroots, treated them with the same awe and respect the tea Party engenders on the GOP side. Imagine an Obama presidency where the health care debate started with a fierce fight for single-payer; where Gitmo had been closed; where gay rights were unequivocally supported; where Bush and Cheney were investigated for sanctioning torture; where climate change was a top priority; where Bush’s civil liberties violations were prosecuted rather than reinforced; where the Bush tax cuts expired; where the stimulus was much bigger; where programs for the poor, for research, jobs, infrastructure, science, education, were enhanced at the expense of war and profits for the wealthy; where the Republican assault on women’s rights was met with furious resistance. I could go on and on.
    In short, imagine an America where the Democratic establishment loudly proclaimed that they were unshakable champions of core progressive values and that they would work hand in hand with their base to convince America that their ideas were superior to the right’s.

    Of course, that’s a fantasy. The unwillingness of Democratic leaders and strategists to do anything remotely close to that has virtually guaranteed that the triangle isn’t formed on the left.

    The first problem with this list is that Daou is asking us to imagine a Washington DC in which the Republicans have no power. The second problem is that the list is typical of the laziest kinds of criticisms the progressive left launches at the president. Let’s start at the top. The administration is supposed to treat the netroots with awe and respect? What if I asked Peter Daou to treat the office of the president with awe and respect? How would he respond to that? How would he respond if the White House press secretary spent every day issuing statements about how Peter Daou is useless and spineless and secretly a Republican? I point this out to highlight the silliness of asking for awe and respect from people you dump on for a living. There has to be some level of mutual respect to form a healthy relationship, and I agree we need to create a healthy relationship.

    Now, let’s get into the meat of Daou’s list, starting with single-payer health care. There were eight serious candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2008, and seven of them had health care plans that did not include single-payer. The exception was Dennis Kucinich, whose candidacy was basically based on keeping single-payer in the conversation. There are think tanks all over the capital that have been drafting health care reform proposals ever since HillaryCare failed to even get a vote. The entire premise of their efforts for fifteen years was that single-payer could never pass through the Senate. They were not incorrect in that assessment. The reason Obama didn’t run on single-payer is that no one would have taken him seriously and he wouldn’t have won the nomination. Kucinich took on the job of trying to keep the issue in the conversation, the rest of the candidates wanted to win and also to be able to deliver on their promises.

    As for Gitmo, no one had the president’s back on Gitmo. No one. He made the effort. His erstwhile political allies ran for the hills.

    On gay rights, the president has delivered and delivered and delivered. At this point, it is almost grotesque to continue to complain about the president’s record because it isn’t unequivocal enough.

    I agree with Daou about the failure to hold Bush officials, and some military and intelligence officials responsible for the crimes of the Bush administration. I’d add banksters to the mix. But we should also acknowledge the high price he would have paid for doing so. Still, I think this is a fair criticism.

    Obama traded an extension of unemployment benefits, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, an overhaul of the food safety system, and the passage of the START treaty for a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts. Is there something wrong with that trade?

    We can keep having a debate over the size of the stimulus, but it should be obvious by now that the president’s advisers misjudged how big the hole was that they needed to fill. His advisers have also explained ad nauseum that there was a limit to how much money they could push into the system. The hole was bigger than our ability, politically or pragmatically, to fill it.

    As for the war on women’s rights, the president has appointed two pro-choice women to the Supreme Court. He just announced that health care plans need to provide a range of free services for women. This is the greatest advance for women’s health since Roe v. Wade.

    I mention all this to highlight the ungrateful and uncharitable nature of much of the pervasive progressive complaints we see repeated every day. I don’t know if you are familiar with Daou’s Triangle theory (you can read about it here and here). Basically, it’s about creating a counterweight to the right that can influence the media’s coverage of politics.

    If the White House and Democratic leadership were in sync with the activist left rather than insulting them at every opportunity, the media would follow and the triangle would form.

    I’ve already covered the irony of complaining about insults from people you insult for a living. But there’s something else wrong with this picture. Probably several things. First off, progressives can’t or won’t behave like Tea Partiers. Progressives are not the vanguard of a populist movement. We’re a combination of the poor, the powerless, the discriminated against, on the one hand, and the highly educated, science-minded, secular-oriented, intelligentsia on the other. Throw in the unionized working class and you have the progressive movement. Most of our opinion leaders are from the intelligentsia-wing of the party. A very high percentage of progressive bloggers have advanced degrees. We’re not about to take up pitchforks or start carrying firearms to political rallies, and we’re too committed to reason to resort to lies and distortions as matter of strategy or policy.

    Another problem, it seems to me, is that the progressive blogosphere arose as an opponent of both the media and the political establishments, and we seem ill-suited and incapable of forming a partnership with power. Policies we opposed under Bush, we still oppose under Obama. Perhaps, we’re quieter in our criticisms, but we’re unwilling to just get on board and support whatever the Democratic Party or the White House wants to do. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just something we need to acknowledge. Because we’re different from conservatives, we can’t be expected to behave like them.

    If what we need is a true counter to the pull of the Tea Partiers, the progressive blogosphere isn’t the right place to look.

    But we can have a more productive relationship with the Establishment Left. It would start by getting clear where the line is between advocacy for issues and protecting our political position in Washington. We know we cannot afford to lose the presidential election in 2012. We could improve things considerably if we reserved our attacks on our own political leaders for areas where they at least have the freedom of acting otherwise. That would be a good start.

  17. rikyrah says:

    August 03, 2011
    A special session — now
    Fine work, boys and girls of the illustrious 112th Congress. You spent months squawking and ballistically howling about a non-emergency issue of your own hysterical fabrication, with which you prodded the nation close to banana republic status. Then, having subdued your mythological monster by making the fundamentals even worse, you reward yourselves with … a month’s vacation — one untidy consequence of which actually does convert us into a banana republic.

    Which is to say, you left your posts a trifle early, thus “idl[ing] tens of thousands of construction workers on airport projects around the country” and leaving the FAA to ask

    dozens of airport inspectors … to work without pay and to charge their government travel expenses to their personal credit cards to keep airports operating safely.

    So the world’s one remaining superpower — an economic colossus unprecedented in global history — now operates its air transportation system like the East St. Louis police department, which is sort of literally self-financing, with officers having purchased out of their own pockets their patrol-car radios, tires, and such.

    Meanwhile, boys and girls of the illustrious 112th Congress, there remains another untidy consequence of your vacationing employment, which is the chronic absence of others’. That 9.2-percent thing holds, and throughout the next couple of years it’s likely to get worse, in part because of your tangible slaying of a notional monster.

    Which leads to a suggestion, for an audience of one.

    No objective analyst would argue that President Obama escaped political injury throughout the bloody course of, and now the dazed aftermath of, the debt-ceiling fraud. And no objective analyst would argue that some extraordinary degree of presidential reset is unnecessary. And what better timing than — now; specifically, later this week, when more horrible job numbers come tumbling in.

    The president could call a special session of Congress; he could tell it Members they must struggle their way through the idle construction projects at their local airport and return posthaste to Washington to begin resolving the real crisis: the jobs crisis.

    He could tell Republicans to answer their own question: “Where are the jobs?” He could remind them of the 2009 stimulus package they watered down, which brought us to this keenly regrettable point, and he could further concede that another but genuine stimulus package — though such would be his preferred option — is off the Republicans’ table (along with every other intelligent idea that has ever addressed any troublesome occasion).

    He could also tell them that his hands have been tied: that he signed their cretinous, fiscally constraining legislation only so that the nation would be spared instant banana republicanism. So the ball, as they say, is in their court. It’s up to them. They can undo their recent imbecility, so that further stimulus becomes feasible; they can slap a one-time surcharge on the wealthiest among us, to finance a jobs program; they can extend the payroll tax cuts and federal unemployment benefits. For that matter they can go to hell, for all the president cares — but meet they will; there shall be no vacationing while millions haven’t that paid chance.

    Would there be more than a dollop of political theatrics in all this? — and a huge serving of the politically impossible? Of course. But therein lies the politically pragmatic point: Republicans’ deafening protests about convening to create jobs might well be the final straw on the breaking back of the wholly disgusted body politic.

    And that’s when political pragmatism begins to convert to pragmatic policy — next year, bye-bye Republicans, hello genuine relief.

  18. rikyrah says:

    James Earl Jones, Oprah to Get Oscars
    Winfrey receiving statuette for humanitarian work

    Awards season is a long way off, but three Oscar winners have already been announced. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted to give statuettes to Oprah Winfrey, James Earl Jones, and makeup artist Dick Smith, reports E! Online. Winfrey will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her philanthropic work, while Jones and Smith will receive honorary awards for their outstanding careers.

    The trio will receive their Oscars at the 3rd Annual Governors Awards in November. Of the three, only Smith has won an Oscar before, for the make-up in 1984’s Amadeus. Jones—who has appeared in more than 50 films and is probably best known as the voice of Darth Vader—was nominated for Best Actor for his role in 1971’s The Great White Hope. Winfrey earned a Best Supporting Actress nod in 1985 for The Color Purple.

  19. rikyrah says:

    New Ultimate Spider-Man Succeeds Peter Parker
    Miles Morales is half-black, half-Hispanic American

    Peter Parker is dead and gone, but Spider-Man is still slinging webs and fighting crime. And it’s not just a new teenager climbing Manhattan buildings, it’s an entirely new crime-fighter, from the color of his suit to the complexion of his skin. Meet Miles Morales, a half-black, half-Hispanic American teenager who, inspired to do good after the death of Parker at the hands of the Green Goblin, takes flight and has his first fight in the pages of Marvel Comics’ “Ultimate Fallout” No. 4, in comic shops today. This Ultimates imprint is separate from Marvel’s bigger universe, where Parker is alive and well.

    “He’s younger than Peter Parker, he’s coming from a completely different background, a completely different world view,” says Ultimate writer Brian Michael Bendis. “It’s Peter Parker’s death that inspires this kid to step up.” Bendis said his decision on who would replace Parker was made before actor Donald Glover’s efforts to be considered for next year’s Spider-Man film went viral. But he says that when he saw Glover wearing Spider-Man pajamas on Community, he knew he was on the right track. Making Spider-Man a black character is not a publicity effort, it’s reflective of an industry keeping pace with modern society, adds Marvel’s editor-in-chief.

  20. rikyrah says:

    Fox & Friends Blasts Obama For Ramadan Proclamation: ‘Why Isn’t There An Outreach To The Christian World’
    By Tanya Somanader on Aug 3, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Monday marked the start of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for those of the Islamic faith. To recognize the occasion, President Obama issued a simple statement that read, “Times like this remind us of the lesson of all great faiths, including Islam — that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. In that spirit, I wish Muslims around the world a blessed month, and I look forward to again hosting an iftar dinner here at the White House. Ramadan Kareem.”

    This, of course, also provided Fox & Friends hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, and Peter Johnson Jr. another example of Obama’s mythical war on Easter. Noting that Obama didn’t issue a proclamation for that Christian holiday, Carlson wasted no time in finding a way to raise the show’s well-worn concern over Obama’s religious beliefs: “Some people are saying is this an outreach to the Muslim world and why isn’t there an outreach to the Christian world.”

    CARLSON: Some people said that they might have an issue with the fact that he didn’t issue a proclamation for Easter. So some people are saying is this an outreach to the Muslim world and why isn’t there an outreach to the Christian world.”

    DOOCY: Of course the White House does historically have White House Easter Egg Roll, but they didn’t issue a proclamation they did for Ramadan just now…I think he did mention briefly in his weekend address that weekend Easter — in passing — but still, nothing big. It is Christianity’s holiest, most sacred holiday.

    JOHNSON: I think the coming Easter you’ll see a statement coming out of the White House.

    DOOCY: Oh during the election year?

    JOHNSON: Clearly, it was a terrible terrible error.

    Watch it:

    While the hosts do point out that previous presidents issued proclamations and hosted iftar (fast-breaking) dinners, it seems they only reserve their anti-Easter proclamation for Obama. After all, former President George W. Bush never actually issued an official proclamation on the holiday. Nor did Presidents George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan. As for Ramadan, it was President George W. Bush who started the tradition of iftar dinners at the White House, hosting eight during his presidency.

    But despite the fact that Obama hosted an Easter prayer breakfast, attended a Christian church service, hosts the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, decorates a White House Christmas tree, and delivers a Christmas address each year, the Fox and Friends hosts must insist that a released statement is proof of his proclivity for Islam at the expense of Christianity.

  21. rikyrah says:

    Aviation workers deal with politics-induced furloughs
    Some 4,000 furloughed aviation workers are the latest casualty of political infighting in Washington.

    Families used to making $75,000 a year are filing for unemployment benefits and worrying how to make mortgage, car and student loan payments, furloughed workers say.

    “It really is scary,” said Michael MacDonald, a 54-year-old Federal Aviation Administration engineer who lives outside of Boston. “For one week, you think OK, we can handle one week. But now the reality is starting to set in — this is going to take six weeks or more.”

    The FAA has been partially shut down for more than a week, with only air traffic controllers, mechanics and those integral to keeping planes flying safely on the job.

    The plight of 4,000 FAA workers has been overshadowed by greater commotion over raising the debt limit and spending cuts. But lawmakers have also been at odds over approving a routine stop-gap funding measure for the agency.

    With the House adjourned, the funding impasse will likely grind on for FAA employees who are feeling the pinch of a lack of paycheck, not to mention perks such as like 401(k) retirement benefit contributions.

    MacDonald works on updating communications systems for the FAA. He’s worried about paying his mortgage, car loans and college tuition for his two kids. He filed for unemployment benefits last week and has been urging his colleagues to do the same.

    “I’ve never been in this situation before,” said MacDonald, a 20-year veteran of the FAA.

    While many employees, especially single parents, are terrified of spiraling into debt, other FAA workers say they’re just furious that they’ve become the victims of partisan wrangling in Washington.

    “For this to be about something so petty, it’s ridiculous. And terribly arrogant and totally uncaring,” said Steve Alexander, 59, who lives near Sanford, N.C.

  22. rikyrah says:

    Obama to head out on Midwest “listening” tour on jobs
    President Barack Obama will take a three-day bus tour through the American Midwest this month to hear people’s concerns about the economy and talk about measures to boost growth and job creation.

    White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president would be on the road between August 15 and August 17 “listening and addressing these very important issues,” but declined to provide further details at this stage.

    Obama Tuesday urged Congress to extend the payroll tax cut and emergency unemployment benefits, due to expire at the end of this year, and said he would be talking about other ideas to lift the economy in the weeks ahead.

    Obama made his remarks during a statement heralding a deal to lift the country’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling that will cut the deficit by $2.1 trillion over 10 years. This removed the immediate risk of default, but potentially limits the scope for additional government spending to encourage more hiring.

  23. rikyrah says:

    Obama’s not ‘your boy’ he’s our president
    By Goldie Taylor

    8:36 AM on 08/03/2011

    Who you calling a boy?

    If we didn’t hear him right the first time, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan said it again. He repeatedly referred to President Barack Obama as a “boy” on national television.

    Without so much as a whiff of hesitation, and even after being admonished by none other than Reverend Al Sharpton, Buchanan refused to apologize or even acknowledge his mistake. Instead, he answered Sharpton’s instant rebuke with a laugh. In fact, he chuckled. And then he said it again.

    Not only is President Obama hours away from his 50th birthday, he is today, and will be tomorrow, president of these United States — still the most economically and politically powerful democracy in the world. While we do not always agree with his policy positions and even take issue with his politics, he is the president — our president. Duly elected by voters from sea to shining sea in 2008, he now calls 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home.

    But it would not matter if he lived in a tony, gated suburb, in a card box under a bridge or off of MLK Drive. He still is a man. A grown man.

    Who you calling a boy?

    If we didn’t hear him right the first time, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan said it again. He repeatedly referred to President Barack Obama as a “boy” on national television.

    Without so much as a whiff of hesitation, and even after being admonished by none other than Reverend Al Sharpton, Buchanan refused to apologize or even acknowledge his mistake. Instead, he answered Sharpton’s instant rebuke with a laugh. In fact, he chuckled. And then he said it again.

    Not only is President Obama hours away from his 50th birthday, he is today, and will be tomorrow, president of these United States — still the most economically and politically powerful democracy in the world. While we do not always agree with his policy positions and even take issue with his politics, he is the president — our president. Duly elected by voters from sea to shining sea in 2008, he now calls 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home.

    But it would not matter if he lived in a tony, gated suburb, in a card box under a bridge or off of MLK Drive. He still is a man. A grown man.

  24. rikyrah says:

    August 03, 2011 1:25 PM

    Cause for concern

    By Steve Benen
    When Wall Street rang the opening bell last Monday — literally just nine days ago — both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 stood at nearly three-year highs. I wrote, “Republicans will likely wipe out those gains very quickly.” Regrettably, that’s what has happened — in the last 12 days, the Dow has lost about a thousand points.

    The market and the economy are not, of course, synonymous. When Wall Street soars, it doesn’t mean the rest of us are in great shape, and when it slumps, it doesn’t mean we’re necessarily in trouble.

    But the market slide does point to growing anxiety about the nation’s economic health. Here, for example, is Lawrence Summers, President Obama’s former chief economist.

    With growth at less than 1 percent in the first half of this year, the economy is effectively at a stall and facing the prospects of shocks from a European financial crisis that is decidedly not under control, spikes in oil prices and declines in business and household confidence. The indicators suggest that the economy has at least a 1-in-3 chance of falling back into recession if nothing new is done to raise demand and spur growth.

    Some are giving us worse odds.

    This economy is really balanced on the edge,” Harvard University economics professor Martin Feldstein, a member of the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research, said yesterday in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Surveillance Midday” with Tom Keene. “There’s now a 50 percent chance that we could slide into a new recession. Nothing has given us much growth.”

    This isn’t going to help

    The number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms rose to a 16-month high in July as sectors which had been seeing fairly few layoffs unexpectedly bled jobs, a report on Wednesday showed.

    There’s a lot of talk about 1937, too

    “Unless we are missing something the US is one false move away from a recession,” says Jim Reid, strategist at Deutsche Bank, who has warned the US could be approaching a “1937 moment” — when authorities removed post-Depression stimuli from still-fragile markets and triggered another recession.

    Just to flesh this out a little further, after Democrats ended the Great Depression and helped get the economy back on track in the mid-1930s, FDR was under enormous pressure to curtail public investments and focus on deficit reduction. In 1937, at the demands of Republicans, the president relented, took the foot off the gas, and started cutting back. The nation immediately slipped backwards — the assumption from the right that that the economy was healthy enough to grow on its own, without government backing, was wrong, and Roosevelt made a mistake in going along. The United States slipped badly until the biggest stimulus project of all time: World War II.

    If the debt-reduction agreement approved yesterday made you think of 1937, you’re not alone.

    Relevant historical parallels aside, we appear to be in a very precarious position — exacerbated by the Republicans deliberate debt-ceiling crisis — and anxiety and perceptions have the potential to make matters worse. Democrats would likely jump at the chance to make public investments to prevent a downturn, but Republicans consider the very idea out of the question. The Fed could consider additional steps, but it probably won’t.

    The public, meanwhile, not only elected an anti-jobs House majority, but actively opposes the very idea of creating jobs through public investments, convinced that “stimulus” is a dirty word. And the American media is focused almost exclusively on the deficit, thanks to a “Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop” that has drowned out any talk of what really matters.

    It doesn’t have to be this way, and we know what we should do. The country needs the wisdom and courage to do the right thing, but as of today, with the recovery faltering, the right thing isn’t even on the table.

    It’s cause for concern.

  25. rikyrah says:

    Steve Benen, Political AnimalBlog
    August 03, 2011 1:50 PM

    Mitch McConnell, hostage taker

    This quote from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been making the rounds today, and with good reason. It’s interesting from a variety of angles

    After [the debt-ceiling fight] was all over, Obama seemed to speak for revolted Americans — the kind of people who always want a new Washington — when he described the government as “dysfunctional.”

    But at the Capitol, behind the four doors and the three receptionists and the police guard, McConnell said he could imagine doing this again.

    “I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting,” he said. “Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming. And it focuses the Congress on something that must be done.”

    Let’s unpack this a bit.

    First, after this brutal fiasco undermined the economy and made the United States an international laughingstock, the leading Senate Republican fully expects to do this again. McConnell believes his party has “learned” the value in pursuing this, regardless of the consequences. I wonder if voters might want to consider this before the 2012 elections.

    Second, it’s a little surprising to hear him concede that “most” Republicans didn’t think the hostage should be shot. If that’s true, maybe next time, Democrats shouldn’t pay the ransom?

    And third, note that McConnell was quite candid in his choice of words. It’s not just Democrats talking about Republicans taking “hostages” and demanding “ransoms”; here’s the leading Senate Republican using the exact same language. In other words, Mitch McConnell admitted, out loud and on the record, that his party took the full faith and credit of the United States hostage, demanded a ransom, and they fully intend to do it again.

    Given all of this, it’s rather bizarre for Republicans to complain about being equated with terrorists. As Dave Weigel noted yesterday, “If you don’t want your opponent to label you a hostage-taker, here’s an idea: Don’t take hostages.”

  26. Ametia says:

    Told y’all

    MSNBC’s Phil Griffin: ‘We’re Beginning To Chip Away At Fox News’
    by Mark Joyella | 7:55 am, August 3rd, 2011
    At the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills Tuesday, MSNBC president Phil Griffin said his network showed signs of strength over the last year–even outperforming cable news leader Fox News Channel in specific hours on specific days. “It just gives you an indication of where we’re going,” Griffin was quoted by The Hollywood Reporter. “For the first time we’re beginning to chip away at Fox News Channel.”

    The just-released ratings for July don’t show much “chipping away,” however, in terms of overall strength by FNC–and in the continued closeness of the fight between MSNBC and CNN. In terms of content, Griffin continued to describe MSNBC as a “progressive alternative” to Fox, but said there is no comparison between the two networks:

    “I don’t see an equivalency between us and Fox News,” said Griffin. “There are no talking points. We don’t sit around and discuss how we’re going to cover any particular issue. That is something that you have to take account of when you compare the two of us. I just don’t see the same equivalency. I do say that we have a progressive attitude.”


  27. rikyrah says:

    Of Tar Babies And Presidents: The Racist Strategy To Demean Obama

    In nearly every country on Earth citizens of most nations feel a sense of unity borne of nationalism that transcends religious bigotry and racial differences, and it is crucial to a country’s survival during times of conflict and prosperity. After the terror attacks on 9/11, the sense of unity felt by nearly all Americans was reminiscent of the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor that marked America’s entry into World War II. Today, there is no unity of will to move the country forward and in an effort to keep the country divided, Republicans have used every means possible including fear of immigrants, Islam, and especially an African-American sitting in the Oval Office. It does not matter if President Obama’s detractors questioned his birthplace, religion, or patriotism, the basis has always been one of race and it informs just how little America has really progressed in its 200-plus years of existence.

    On January 1, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed 3.1 million slaves and it started the long arduous journey toward true equality for African-Americans that has never materialized to this day. If fact, Lincoln’s proclamation did very little to change racial prejudice against African-Americans and it continued unabated until the Civil Rights movement. Even after the Civil Rights Act in 1964 outlawed racial discrimination and segregation of African-Americans, the bigotry and racial prejudice continues. The lesson is that there is no way to legislate racial bigotry out of the population despite the best intentions of well-meaning lawmakers. By now, it is well-publicized that Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) said dealing with President Obama in the debt ceiling negotiations was “like touching a tar baby,” and his comment has caused outrage from Democrats and decent human beings that led him to apologize to the president. Lamborn sent a personal letter to President Obama “apologizing for using a term some find insensitive,” and although there is no way of knowing if Lamborn’s apology was sincere or not, the wording suggests he is not really sorry for the remark, but sorry he was caught on tape

    Whether Lamborn knows it or not, the term “tar baby” is a derogatory remark that most Americans find insensitive regardless if it was accidental or not. Lamborn claimed he should have used the term quagmire, but he did not and there is a simple reason; he is a racist. It does not matter what word he said he should have used because the first word that popped into his bigoted mind was a substitute for the word nigger. It flowed so easily for Lamborn that he probably never realized he used it because his mouth said exactly what was in his mind. There is no doubt that Lamborn or his kind would never use that term for a white man regardless the contentiousness of negotiations. He may have called a white president a jerk, an asshole, or a dirt bag, but he would never call them a tar baby.

    As soon as Barack Obama won the election in 2008, bigots in the Republican Party began making snide, racist remarks meant to demean the president and it has continued without pause. During the healthcare reform debates, teabaggers and Republicans accused the president of stealing white Americans’ money to pay for “his homies” health insurance. When the Democratic representatives marched to the capital to vote on the health law, protestors threw racial epithets at Black representatives. On various conservative websites, racists posted photos depicting the President as an African tribal chief or medicine man. When the president instructed the DEA to back off medical marijuana users, the chatter was that he was repaying the “bros” in the ghetto for their votes. The racial hatred for the president is not really the issue, but defines the sentiment of the country.

    Within a day of the president taking office, Mitch McConnell stated that Republicans highest priority was making President Obama a one term president. McConnell has repeated the comment in spite of the president’s policies that can best be described as Centrist for working with the business community, Wall Street, Insurance Industry, and the banking industry. President Obama has presided over the lowest tax rates in over 60 years and has been strong on defense but he still gets criticism as being un-American. Un-American is just code for African-American and it explains the birther movement meant to delegitimize the president as wrong, foreign, or not like us. In other words; not white.

  28. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    August 03, 2011 11:25 AM

    Bring on the party switchers

    By Steve Benen
    Political AnimalBlog
    August 03, 2011 11:25 AM

    Bring on the party switchers

    By Steve Benen

    Facebook Twitter Digg Reddit StumbleUpon Delicious

    This story out of Florida obviously only involves one person, and there’s no evidence that it’s part of a larger trend, but I kind of wonder why it doesn’t happen more often.

    Saying the Republican Party has left her and is now owned by ideologues, former GOP state Sen. Nancy Argenziano says she will run for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat.

    Argenziano will seek the District 2 seat in North Florida now held by freshman Republican Steve Southerland, who unseated longtime Democrat Allen Boyd in November 2010.

    In a prepared statement Monday, Argenziano likened herself to a Ronald Reagan Republican.

    “The current iteration of the party abandoned real Republican principles long ago to cater to ideologues and corporations — the Koch entities, most notably — whose interests lie in the profiteering of America and the sacking of the middle class,” Argenziano, 56, wrote in a letter announcing her candidacy.

    “Current Republican leaders have neither patience with nor allowance for honest elected officials, and they demand that members of the various legislatures — who, after all, have sworn to uphold the Constitution — instead just follow the hijacked party line and shut up.”

    In general, when a party becomes radicalized and strays too far from a sensible American mainstream, only a couple of factors motivate the party to become less extreme. The first is losing elections. This didn’t have much of an effect on Republicans, who were beaten badly in 2006 and 2008, only to become an even more right-wing party.

    The second is losing members who’ve grown disgusted by the party’s radicalism. This happened a bit over the last couple of years — Specter and Crist come to mind — but it wasn’t enough to shake up the GOP. On the contrary, it only seemed to satisfy those Republicans who want die-hard, uncompromising Republicans in their midst — and no one else.

    The more Republicans say, “That’s it, the party has gone too far and I’m leaving,” the stronger the incentive the GOP will have to come to its senses.

  29. rikyrah says:

    thank you for this series on Al ‘ HOT GRITS’ Greene :)

  30. rikyrah says:

    Your Liberal Media
    by BooMan
    Wed Aug 3rd, 2011 at 09:46:49 AM EST

    Can you believe that Jonah Goldberg is concerned about the tone? I’d like to tell Jonah Goldberg what I think about the “liberal media.” I think you can see liberal media if you watch Democracy Now with Amy Goodman. You used to see liberal media for an hour on Friday night when Bill Moyers had a show on PBS. I think it’s fair to say that MSNBC has a liberal nighttime lineup. If you want to find any other liberal media on your teevee, you’re going to have to start surfing the local programming channels because Donna Brazille and James Carville don’t count. Or, you can pay some extra money to get the cable company to turn on Current TV, where Keith Olbermann currently toils in anonymity. We have nothing to compare to Fox News.
    You can tell me that that’s because no one wants to watch liberal television, and maybe that’s true in relative terms. That doesn’t do much for the argument that the broadcast media has a liberal bias, though, does it? And speaking of broadcast, no one is stupid enough to argue that radio has a liberal bias. So, that leaves print journalism. And, here, people like Jonah Goldberg can at least make a plausible argument that liberals outnumber conservatives. But it’s worth noting that even ostensibly liberal newspapers like the Washington Post have three times as many conservative columnists as they have liberals. The Wall Street Journal is now owned by Rupert Murdoch. So, we’re left looking for liberal bias at the New York Times, but the Times is much more representative of the mainstream Democratic Party than its left-wing.

    I think Republicans are simply wrong about there being a liberal bias in the media. Ninety-eight percent of the news people consume is created by huge corporations that have interests very much in conflict with liberals. If a liberal shrieker can make them some money, they’ll tolerate him or her for a while, but eventually they’ll have a little talk about what it means to work for the Establishment (see Phil Donahue, Ashley Banfield, Keith Olbermann, Cenk Uygur). Glenn Beck can tell you that there are limits on the right, as well.

    What I think Goldberg means when he talks about liberal bias in the media (at least, when he’s being sincere) is that most reporters are not conservative in their personal lives. They went to college and learned about evolution and plate tectonics and economics and history, and they tend not to think magically about things like what will reduce unwanted pregnancies or whether or not the Book of Genesis is literally true. They think climate science skeptics are morons because reporters tend to defer to scientists on scientific questions, instead of Exxon’s astroturfed “experts.” If the definition of a liberal is that they’re not an evangelical Christian, then yes, we have a liberal media. But that’s the problem. We used to have conservatives in this country who didn’t believe six impossible things before breakfast. We no longer do.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Posted by Leo Soderman on 8/01/11 • Categorized as News,Opinion

    Congress finally has a deal on the table that may pass. The House passed it Monday evening with a vote expected to be held in the Senate mid-day on Tuesday. And that vote is also expected to be successful in passing the debt ceiling deal. So, who won? Who lost? Is it a massive cave by the President and Democrats? Or is there something more to it?

    In looking at the deal, folks on the left are acting outraged. Medicare takes some cuts, there’s no revenue component, it looks like the Republicans got everything they wanted. Indeed, Speaker of the House John Boehner says he “got 98 percent of what I wanted”. But did he?

    Here’s some of the details that say he might have some ‘splaining to do later:

    Democrats are upset that the deal does not include increasing revenues. But that’s not accurate. In fact, it virtually guarantees a revenue increase by the end of 2012. And Boehner knows it.

    Here’s how it works: Part of the deficit reduction estimates used to sell this deal to the Republicans count on Congressional Budget Office estimates. Those estimates set a baseline. All reductions have to come from that baseline and if any additional spending is to be made, offsetting cuts must also be enacted.

    Here’s where it gets interesting. The CBO baseline already assumes that the Bush Era tax cuts will expire at the end of 2012. The spending levels for 2013 include the additional revenue from those cuts expiring. If Republicans want to extend those tax cuts (which are considered spending), they will have to make cuts to the budget to offset every penny. They won’t have the political control needed to do that before the end of 2012, even if the President loses his office and they take control of the Senate, as the cuts expire in 2012, and a new administration and Congress would not be seated until January 2013.

    So, unless Republicans want to try to pass an extension along with offsetting cuts during an election year, those cuts will expire. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already said he will not allow the issue to come to a vote, and the President has vowed he will veto it. So if Republicans want to extend those cuts, they will have to come up with $4T in spending cuts to offset the tax cuts. To make it more difficult still, the deal makes it clear that those cuts must come in a 50/50 ratio between defense and non-defense spending, with Social Security, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, civilian and military retirement off the table. Medicare cuts would only come from the provider side, not the individual.

    Now, take that in for a minute. If Republicans want to extend the tax cuts, they will need to cut an equal amount out of spending, with half of that coming from defense spending. Half. This is in addition to the $350B that are already being cut as part of this deal. To get their tax cuts, Republicans would have to slash another $2T from defense spending. They would have to justify slashing the defense budget for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans. And with all the social programs off the table, where will they find the other $2T?

    The plain fact is, they can’t. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he won’t let it come to a vote, and the President says he would veto any extension. But the key issue is – they don’t need to. In fact, all they have to do is make sure to speak loudly if/when Republicans try to extend any tax cuts, and frame it as cutting the military. It’s a pretty clear cut distinction and attacks the entire ethos of Republicans as deficit hawks and military backers. In the meantime, if the Republicans can’t find the cuts, the cuts expire, and revenue increases.

    Now, Boehner has played this deal as one that does not allow “tax increases”. He had to for it to pass. But the safe bet is that most of the Republicans who voted for this did not realize that the baseline includes the additional revenue from the expiration of the Bush era tax cuts, and that extending them is not counted as raising taxes, but rather, as increasing spending. And that will require hugely Draconian cuts in the areas Republicans are most loathe to touch.

    An interesting battle will start next year. It will begin to pit the military industrial complex against the bankers and million/billionaires. If the rich guys want to keep their tax cuts, 50% of it will come from military spending – contractors. That’s a big lobby to fight against. It will be fascinating to see how the spin starts to work there, as Republicans find their corporate benefactors are suddenly pitted against each other, and the American people get to see where the loyalties really lie.

    Medicare and Social Programs
    There has been a bit of moaning that this deal touches Medicare. But again, the details are important. The area touched here has nothing to do with individuals. It’s all on the provider side.

    To be sure, this could have an effect on individuals, as providers may decide they don’t want to deal with Medicare if reimbursements are reduced, and this could reduce choice. But on the subscriber side, nothing changes. More importantly, the subscriber side is sequestered from further cuts, as are Medicaid and Social Security in their entirety.

    Again, this is really a trap for the Republicans. With all of those areas off the table, where will they find cuts? And remember, they still need to cut an equal amount from defense as they do for anything else. Social programs are a large part of the budget. When you take them off the table, you remove major sources of budget reduction. Which means that cuts to other areas will have to be massive to have a chance at making a difference. So Republicans will have to sell Draconian slashes to areas such as education to be able to find enough budget to cut.

    But here’s a kicker – $1.5T in cuts and additional revenue must be defined and sent to Congress for ratification before the end of 2011. So, while Boehner is claiming no raising of taxes, with this deal he has put Republicans further behind the 8-ball. If they do not pass a package that features all of these cuts, an automatic trigger is reached, and an addition $500B is immediately cut from defense, and additional cuts would be made to infrastructure and other programs. That’s in addition to the $350B already cut as part of the deal.

    Why does this leave Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is a tough spot? Because they must pass $1.3T in cuts before the end of the year to avoid the automatic trigger. They don’t want to be seen as cutting military spending (although that is likely where a lot will come from anyway). And because they insisted that the decrease in spending from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan not be counted as spending reduction, they’ve removed that ploy from the table as well. If they are unwilling to compromise, they will be facing massive additional cuts to the military. And all while not touching sacred social programs. That’s a hell of a corner to be painted into.

    So, What Did It Accomplish?
    A whole bunch. Pell Grants have actually been increased. The default scenario has been averted until at least 2013 with a debt ceiling raise. It did not require the passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment. And the cuts that are included are backloaded, meaning that they come further down the line, when the economy is (hopefully) on a better footing.

    Sure the President is taking heat on this now. But the focus can now be on jobs (on which there has not been a single piece of legislation), and Republicans who are gloating now may not be so cheerful when it comes time to make the cuts they demanded.

  32. rikyrah says:

    Mitt’s Magical Misery Tour: Romney’s Top 5 Depressing Campaign Moments
    Mitt Romney’s jobs-focused message has proven effective thus far, helping him solidify his frontrunner position in the GOP primary while the other candidates are still caught up in the day-to-day chaos of the campaign. But it’s also among the more depressing campaigns in recent memory, relying on a constant stream of hard-times imagery ranging from foreclosed homes to unemployed workers (metaphorically) lying down in the road waiting to be run over. The latest campaign video, on joblessness in Chicago, is even timed to kill the mood at President Obama’s birthday party.

    Is it a dark theme for dark times or just gratuitous misery? Either way, make sure you’re far from any sharp objects or ledges before you look at the following lowlights.

    1. The Mall Of The Damned

    Mitt’s trip last week to sunny California included a stop at abandoned shopping mall Valley Plaza in North Hollywood, where he blamed the weak economy for shutting down plans to develop the place. But locals traced the mall’s problems back much further — it was badly damaged in the 1994 Northridge quake then was hit by one of the most violent attempted robberies in American history in 1997. Not only that, the latest plan to develop the place was squashed when a max Romney donor foreclosed on the place. The company is now hoping to reverse the shopping center’s hard luck streak with a proposal of their own soon.

    2. Bumps In The Road

    Romney jumped on a comment by Obama about “bumps in the road” to recovery in order to accuse the White House of insensitivity to the unemployed. To hammer the point home, the campaign cut this disturbing web ad featuring struggling Americans lying down on a dusty Nevada road waiting to be run over by the oncoming economy. Romney undercut the ad’s dead-serious tone that week by joking that he’s also unemployed (with $200 million), but the video certainly is unsettling on its own merits.

    3. Following Obama’s Trail Of Despair

    Looking to showcase unemployment in Pennsylvania, the ex-governor spoke in front of a closed-down metal works factory in Allentown that Obama had visited in 2009. Former Governor Ed Rendell (D) slammed the move as a “cheap shot,” noting that Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was significantly better than the national average and that the stimulus saved a disproportionate number of steel jobs in particular. The appearance became best known for Romney’s odd quote that he had never said Obama made the recession “worse,” a claim that was the centerpiece of his campaign. He quickly walked it back. The event also produced another ultra-tragic web video, as seen below.

  33. rikyrah says:

    Desperate for clarity, and a simple factual statement, perhaps Americans can turn to judiciary
    by Kay

    Conservatives and media promoted three big lies about the health care law. The law included death panels, it funded abortions, and it was a government takeover of the health care system. All three lies were used very effectively in the 2010 midterm elections.

    A plain reading of the statute, without spin or attenuated slippery-slope reasoning revealed all three assertions as lies, but it seemed no one was willing to simply state what was in the law, and what wasn’t.

    A federal judge in Ohio said Monday that the Affordable Care Act does not provide for taxpayer funding for abortion. The statement was the cornerstone of the judge’s ruling to allow a defamation lawsuit brought against the Susan B. Anthony List by a former congressman to move forward.

    Former Ohio Representative Steve Driehaus sued the SBA List for defamation of character during the 2010 election cycle, when the anti-abortion group ran an ad campaign on the premise that Driehaus had voted for a bill “that includes taxpayer funding for abortion,” in reference to Driehaus’s vote in favor of the ACA. Driehaus, an anti-abortion Democrat, had initially filed a complaint with the Ohio Election Commission over a billboard that said he’d voted for “taxpayer funding for abortion.” The OEC found probable cause that the statement was false, and the SBA List filed a complaint in federal court that its ads were based on the group’s own interpretation of the law. The billboard was taken down but radio ads and flyers against Driehaus continued, according to court documents. Driehaus then countersued SBA List for defamation. SBA List is ready to go to trial, stands by its statements and said the ruling “chills free speech.” “Steve Driehaus’s constituents saw the truth about his pro-abortion record and made their voices heard on Election Day,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Their conclusion — that Steve Driehaus voted for a bill allowing taxpayer funding of abortion — is backed by every major pro-life organization in the country along with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Congressional Research Service and other nonpartisan organizations. The SBA List will continue to defend its actions, the voters and the right to criticize our elected officials.”

    Driehaus lost the election but Judge Timothy Black stated in a decision that the defamation lawsuit could move forward because “the express language of the PPACA does not provide for taxpayer funded abortion. That is a fact and it is clear on its face.” SBA List’s request for summary judgment on the case was denied.

    That is a fact and it is clear on its face.

    Now, why was that so hard? Why did it have to get to a judge?

  34. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    August 03, 2011 8:00 AM

    Setting up the Super Committee

    By Steve Benen
    Before the Senate had even voted to approve the debt-ceiling agreement, the relevant DC players were already hard at work on the next phase: the Super Committee. Congressional leaders from both parties and both chambers have two weeks to select members for the panel, so attention has turned not only to who’ll get the nod, but the strategy behind the selections.

    ith the immediate crisis averted, Obama and congressional leaders quickly turned their attention to the next front in the war over the federal budget: a new legislative committee that will have the job of developing a broader plan to control the government’s debt.

    The bipartisan panel, to be named this month, is likely to confront the same ideological divide that caused an almost crippling impasse in the debt-limit debate. Republican leaders are warning that they will not include anyone on the panel who is willing to raise taxes, prompting Democrats to threaten a hard line against cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits.

    The Republican line to Dems, in effect, is pretty straightforward: “We’ll name far-right members who’ll demand another cuts-only package; you should name moderates who’ll help us do this.”

    Democrats, still unhappy with the debt deal reached this week, feel as if they have no choice but to respond to the GOP tack in kind. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), for example, told the Washington Post he would like to “put people on it who are willing to do entitlement cuts” and “people with open minds,” but with Republicans already rejecting compromise, before the panel even exists, the GOP line “makes it pretty hard for me.”

    I hope folks are ready to live with those triggers included in the deal, because the likelihood of the Super Committee reaching some kind of consensus that can (a) be approved by a majority of its members; (b) pass the House and Senate; and (c) earn President Obama’s signature, is already extremely low.

    In case this isn’t obvious, the whole point of the 12-member bipartisan panel is to shape a plan for the next round of debt reduction. Their task is to find between $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion in savings, with an eye on taxes and entitlements.

    Dems believe they have the stronger political hand — increased revenue is popular; cuts to Social Security and Medicare aren’t popular at all — but Republican leaders have already said they intend to reject plans with new revenue and expect all (or nearly all) of the savings to come from cuts.

    This, in turn, Democrats leaders and their allies to push back in the other direction. Indeed, Greg Sargent noted yesterday some would like to see Dems appoint committee members who will reject any cuts to Medicare or Social Security benefits.

    So how can liberals ensure that Dems do that? One idea making the rounds, which was first floated by Think Progress, is to demand that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid — who each appoint three members to the committee — pledge to only appoint people who will vow to hold the line on core liberal priorities.

    At her presser today, Nancy Pelosi was asked by a reporter if she would do that, and she came close to endorsing the idea. Asked if she would “require” that her appointees to the committee draw a bright line protecting Medicare, Pelosi replied that protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits is a “priority” for Democrats.

    Given the events of the last couple of weeks, Dems are arguably even more inclined to play hardball, since Republicans were so irresponsible during the debt-ceiling fight. It’s not as if the GOP created an atmosphere of goodwill and cooperation. And with Republicans already taking an antagonistic attitude about the next round of talks that haven’t even started, Democrats would be fools not to approach the next phase with confrontation in mind.

  35. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    August 03, 2011 8:35 AM

    No recess appointments for you

    By Steve Benen
    House and Senate members quickly left town yesterday, starting a month-long recess that will keep lawmakers out of DC until after Labor Day. Under the circumstances, though, “recess” is probably the wrong word to use.

    If this were a literal congressional recess, President Obama would have the option of making recess appointments, and given the number of executive branch and judicial vacancies created by Senate Republican obstructionism, the White House would have ample motivation to put this presidential power to good use.

    That’s why GOP lawmakers have ensured their recess isn’t a real recess.

    Following the House, the Senate will hold a series of “pro forma” sessions over the next month, effectively blocking President Barack Obama from making any appointments during Congress’ August recess.

    That means Obama won’t be able to seat his pick to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, whose nomination Republicans have vowed to oppose until Obama makes changes watering down the agency’s authority.

    After passing the debt limit legislation on Monday, House leaders announced they would hold pro forma sessions through August, a procedural move that forced the Senate to follow suit. The Constitution requires that for either chamber to take more than a three-day break, the other chamber must give its approval.

    Every Tuesday and Friday for the rest of the month, someone will show up in the House and Senate chambers, bang a gavel, look around, and then go home. Republicans believe this is necessary, of course, to prevent the president from filling vacancies that need to be filled with qualified officials who’d be confirmed if given up-or-down votes.

    Also note, congressional Republicans are determined to prevent President Obama from being able to exercise this power for the indefinite future, regardless of the seriousness of the vacancies or the extent of the Senate GOP’s obstructionism.

    The White House has been under a fair amount of pressure from the left for months to make as many recess appointments as possible. It’s unclear whether the West Wing is inclined to use the president’s prerogative or not, but so long as these Republican tactics continue, it’s largely a moot point — Obama can’t make recess appointments if there’s no recess.

    Postscript: Back in June, Jonathan Bernstein made the case that Dems may have some legal options, albeit unpredictable ones, for circumventing the GOP’s recess blockade. It’s worth checking out.

  36. rikyrah says:

    Know Your Enemies
    by BooMan
    Tue Aug 2nd, 2011 at 09:49:20 PM EST

    Here we go again. Robert Reich is making good points again, but also misfiring. This is a problem with blame assignment. Before I even look at Reich’s argument, let me clear one thing up from the start. How can the federal government create jobs? It can put more money in people’s pockets so that they’ll spend it on stuff and increase demand. It can give out contracts for people to do work. It can create tax incentives for companies to buy equipment or hire more workers this year rather than next. That’s about it. And what do all those things have in common?
    They cost money. They lower revenues. They increase our debt and deficit, at least in the short term.

    You know what else they have in common? The Republicans are opposed to doing any of them. Okay, they’ll consider cutting taxes, but only for people who don’t need tax cuts and who wouldn’t spend the money. They would not allow an extension of the payroll tax holiday in the debt ceiling bill, for example. And they opposed extending unemployment benefits, which is the single most efficient way we know of to stimulate the economy because all of that money gets spent almost immediately.

    So, the problem we have is that even though we know how to use the federal government to stimulate the economy, we are not allowed to use any of those tools. Period.

    That’s the problem. It’s not a problem that the president created. It’s a problem created by a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. It’s a problem exacerbated by the 60-vote rule in the Senate. The problem is that the Republicans are crazy, ruthlessly partisan, and too powerful in our system right now for anyone to overcome their effective veto power.

    So, Reich’s correct that nothing can be done to improve the economy, but he’s wrong to attack the president over it, because you can replace the president with Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Al Gore, or Bernie Sanders and it isn’t going to make a lick of difference. The problem is the Republicans. And, no, it isn’t because the public is deluded into thinking the Republicans are right about anything. The problem is that they were deluded about that last November. The public didn’t appreciate the Ryan Plan. And they didn’t appreciate the hostage situation over the debt ceiling. But we’re stuck with these assholes. The solution is to get rid of the assholes. That doesn’t get easier when smart liberals like Robert Reich spend equal time undermining faith in the president and taking it to the real culprits.

    The debt ceiling compromise didn’t hamstring the president’s ability to tackle joblessness. The Republicans hamstrung his ability to do that. The president is weak because our constitutional system makes him weak if the opposition party is united and crazy and bent on destroying his career. So, how is it in our interest to play up and even exaggerate his weakness? Why tell people that things would be different if only he banged the table or made a speech or called people names? It wouldn’t be different. He’s dealing with a party that put out the Ryan Plan as if it wouldn’t be instant poison and political suicide. They have no sense of self-preservation. If they did, they would have cut Bush loose or reined him in long before 2006 rolled around.

    Meanwhile, the president churns along vastly improving women’s health and establishing new gasoline efficiency standards, to little appreciation or applause.

    I’ll tell you what the president doesn’t need. He doesn’t need liberals nipping at his heels over shit he can’t control. Go ahead. Make the case for Keynesian economics. Lord knows, someone needs to talk some sense around here. But stop asking the president to do things he can’t do and blaming him for not spending all his time asking for things that will be simply and flatly denied.

    It’s not only tiresome, it’s destructive.

  37. Ametia says:

    President Obama Headed to Chicago for Birthday-Themed Fundraiser
    August 03, 2011 6:00 AM

    ABC News’ Devin Dwyer (@devindwyer) and Mary Bruce (@marykbruce) report: President Obama turns 50 tomorrow, but that isn’t stopping him from celebrating early.

    Fresh off a bruising debt ceiling debate, and an announcement that the administration is pivoting back to a focus on jobs, Obama heads to his hometown Chicago tonight for a birthday-themed fundraiser at the historic Aragon Ballroom.

    Organizers expect a crowd of roughly 1000 supporters, who each paid between $50 and $35,800 to attend. The money flows to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account for Obama’s re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

    Guests will be entertained with performances by Chicago-native musicians Jennifer Hudson, Herbie Hancock and the rock group OK Go.

    The president will also address the crowd around 8:15 pm ET, but will likely not be catching the musical show, a campaign aide said.

    Before the speech, Obama plans to hold an exclusive, live-stream video teleconference with thousands of volunteers celebrating his birthday at one of 11,000 grassroots meetings across the country.

    After his address at the Aragon, aides say, he will meet privately with a smaller group of VIP attendees, between 80 and 100, before returning to Washington for the night.

    Republicans have unleashed a barrage of criticism against the president for making the trip, accusing him of hypocrisy during tough economic times.

    “With 9.2 percent unemployment, he could work on creating jobs, but I suppose the White House is thinking he should stick to the part of his job he really likes,” said RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski in an email statement.

    GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney also took a swipe at Obama for the trip, publishing an online video Tuesday that highlights a spike in Chicago’s unemployment rate and falling housing prices over the past three years.

    Administration officials have dismissed the criticism.

    “I think what the American people want to see is for us to move this [debt] debate behind us and move forward,” said senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett when asked Monday about the propriety of the trip on MSNBC. “The president’s number one focus is jobs, jumpstarting our economy. He’s going to be looking forward to traveling around the country and having that conversation.”

  38. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everybody! Happy HUMP day! :-)

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