Friday 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.
This entry was posted in Current Events, Music, Open Thread, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

105 Responses to Friday Open Thread

  1. Breaking News:

    S& P Cuts US Credit Rating Down to AA+

  2. Ametia says:

    BREAKING: White House challenges S&P credit downgrade
    By: CNN Wire Staff

    Washington (CNN) – The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s served notice Friday afternoon that it planned to downgrade the U.S. government’s AAA credit rating, but was reconsidering doing so after the administration challenged its analysis, a senior Obama administration official told CNN.

  3. Ametia says:

    Can you see POTUS dancing to the Electric Slide?

  4. Joe Lieberman Says U.S. Should Cut Social Security To Pay For Fighting ‘The Islamist Extremists’

    This past April, right-wing war hawk John Bolton suggested during an interview on Fox News that the United States should cut Social Security and Medicare to finance the defense budget.

    During debate over the debt deal today on the Senate floor, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) appeared to endorse this call. Lieberman explained that he is working with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) on a Social Security spending reduction plan and that “we can’t protect these entitlements and also have the national defense…to protect us…with Islamist extremists”:

    LIEBERMAN: I want to indicate today to my colleagues that Senator Coburn and I are working again on a bipartisan proposal to secure Social Security over the long term, we hope to have that done in time. To also forward to the special committee for their consideration. So, bottom line, we can’t protect these entitlements and also have the national defense we need to protect us in a dangerous world while we’re at war with Islamist extremists who attacked us on 9/11 and will be for a long time to come.

  5. Ametia says:

    ABC News reports: “A government official tells ABC News that the federal government is expecting and preparing for bond rating agency Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the rating of US debt from its current AAA value.” Among the reasons cited will be “Republicans saying that they refuse to accept any tax increases as part of a larger deal.”

  6. Ametia says:

    Why John Boehner keeps pushing a Balanced Budget Amendment that will never happen
    By Jonathan Bernstein

    If you want further proof that John Boehner is one smart politician, go no further than his latest attempt to steer Members of the Republican conference on to ground that is as safe as possible — for John Boehner.

    The New York Times reports that Boehner sent Republicans home for the August recess with instructions talk up a Balance Budget Amendment. The BBA, of course, has no chance of becoming law — it has no chance of passing Congress by Constitutionally-mandated supermajorities.

    So why is Boehner doing this? Easy — because it has no chance of ever becoming law.

    The biggest threat to Boehner’s position with House Republicans is that he’ll have to cut deals with Barack Obama and the Democrats and trade away core conservative priorities, getting himself accused by Tea Partiers and other conservatives of selling out. But with the BBA there’s no danger of that. There’s no deal to be cut. If it can’t pass, then there’s no need to negotiate, and no need to cut a deal. But as long as conservatives are focused on the illusion that a BBA can happen — and are focusing their energies on selling it to constituents — then they won’t be demanding substantive gains that might have a chance of passing via deals cut deals with Senate Dems and the President. (Examples: More spending cuts, rollbacks of environmental and other regulations, etc, etc.) Deal-cutting with Dems and the President puts Boehner on treacherous terrain with conservatives.

    There’s another reason Boehner is better off with conservatives focused on a BBA rather than on spending cuts that can actually happen: Specific spending cuts are actually unpopular, even among Republicans. Each round of spending cuts makes the next one that much harder to do without slicing into things that important Republican constituencies really don’t want to cut. Even most conservatives are much more interested in cutting spending in the abstract rather than actually cutting specific, popular programs.

    So the longer Boehner can keep conservatives distracted with symbolic crusades like that over the BBA, the less time he has to spend cutting actual programs that Republicans like; the less time he has to spend making deals with the Kenyan in the White House. That means a conservative insurrection is less likely — and that he’s safer in his job.

  7. U.S. Expecting To Be Downgraded By Standard And Poor’s: ABC Report

    The U.S. government reportedly expects the rating of U.S. debt to be downgraded by credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s, according to ABC News. U.S. debt currently holds a triple-A credit rating, the highest possible.

    On Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed an agreement to raise the debt ceiling of the U.S., after a political dispute that lasted for months.

  8. Ametia says:

    LOL Rev Al playing Schoolhouse Rock in a segment on how the GOP are re-writing lasw and passing bills for corporations.

  9. creolechild says:

    GOP Chairman Mica Forces Furlough Of Thousands Of Workers, Then Plays Victim: ‘I’ve Had A Brutal Week’ – By Pat Garofalo

    The 13-day shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration finally came to an end today, which will allow thousands of furloughed federal employees and tens of thousands of construction workers to get back on the job on Monday. House Republicans refused to reauthorize the FAA without including an anti-union provision that would make it harder for workers at airlines and railroads to unionize (a measure sought desperately by, among others, Delta Airlines). Airline inspectors were forced to work without pay during the shutdown.

    House Transportation Committee John Mica (R-FL) has been at the forefront of the FAA debacle, advancing the GOP’s anti-union demands (on behalf of his biggest donors) and then adding cuts in subsidies to rural airports to the FAA bill that he admitted were only meant to tweak Democratic senators. But while he’s been more than willing to hold thousands of jobs hostage, Mica evidently can’t handle a little criticism about his role in the matter, as he whined to the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank about having a “brutal week.” “People don’t have to be so personal,” he added:

    “I’ve had a brutal week, getting beat up by everybody,” Mica told me, minutes after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a deal that would end the shutdown and avoid the cuts to regional air service that Mica wanted. “I didn’t know it would cause this much consternation,” Mica said. “Now I’ve just got to get the broom and the shovel and clean up the mess.” Switching metaphors, he said he wanted “to unclog the toilet, but it backed up. So I don’t know what to do, what to say.” […] “People don’t have to get so personal,” he said with a sigh. “A lot of people hate me now and think I’m the worst thing in the world for what I did.” It’s “this sort of gotcha,” he said, “that’s changed the dynamics of people working more effectively together.”

    I think the 4,000 FAA employees and 70,000 construction workers who were put out of work this week — and who may not receive back pay — actually had a rougher week than Mica. While he seemed to express “remorse” about the shutdown when speaking to Milbank, Mica today seemed to threaten shutting down the FAA again if Senate Democrats are unwilling to go along with his demands.

  10. creolechild says:

    HRC HBCU Program

    The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program educates and organizes students, faculty and administrators at HBCU campuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues specific to each institution’s needs. It opens campus-wide debate on LGBT issues, often for the first time. And it trains students to build viable student-led LGBT-friendly organizations on campus.

    This special outreach program was launched in 2002 by HRC in the wake of a swell of violence against LGBT students at HBCUs. Since then, the program has grown dramatically into an education, training and networking effort focusing on empowering, inspiring and educating LGBT HBCU students and their allies.

    Read more:

  11. creolechild says:

    D.C. Superior Court Receives Second LGBT Associate Judge
    By Ty Cobb

    On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously consented to confirm Jennifer Di Toro to serve as an Associate Judge on the D.C. Superior Court. Di Toro is the first married LGBT individual with children to be confirmed by the Senate to serve on the judiciary. She serves as a role model for all LGBT youth aspiring to have families and professional success.

    Di Toro is the second openly-LGBT individual to be confirmed to the D.C. Superior Court by the Senate. In April of 2010, Marisa Demeo joined the D.C. Superior Court as the first confirmed LGBT judicial appointee of the Obama Administration.

    Di Toro is the third confirmed LGBT appointment to the judiciary during the Obama Administration, behind Demeo and Paul Oetken, who was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York last month. Currently, five other judicial nominees, Alison Nathan, Ed DuMont, Michael Fitzgerald, Albert Lauber, and Judge Joe Gale, are pending approval by the senate.

  12. creolechild says:

    President Bans Entry into U.S. of LGBT Human Rights Violators
    By Ty Cobb

    On August 4th, President Obama issued a proclamation suspending entry into the United States of any persons who have participated in serious human rights violations abroad, including human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This proclamation gives the Secretary of State discretion to determine who will be deemed to have committed serious human rights violations that preclude entry into the U.S. Implementation of the proclamation by the Secretary of State must be done in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security. This proclamation is a commendable endeavor by the President to prevent those who have violated the human rights of LGBT people from entering our country and spreading their hatred and intolerance across our soil. We urge Secretaries Clinton and Napolitano to move swiftly to implement this proclamation.

  13. rikyrah says:

    August 05, 2011 3:05 PM

    Cantor already opposes extended jobless aid

    By Steve Benen

    White House officials are reportedly putting together a series of measures, all of which have traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, intended to help make a modest difference in creating jobs. Near the top of the list: extending unemployment benefits that are set to expire in December.

    As Tanya Somanader reports, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is already against the idea. Indeed, CNBC host Jim Kramer interviewed Cantor this morning, and the host assumed that Cantor support extending unemployment benefits “given the chaotic situation.” The far-right Virginian set him straight.

    “Jim, the most important thing we can do for somebody who’s unemployed is to see if we can get them a job. I mean, that’s what needs to be the focus. For too long in Washington now we’ve been worried about pumping up the stimulus moneys and pumping up unemployment benefits and to a certain extent you have states for which you can get unemployment for almost two years and I think those people on unemployment benefits would rather have a job. So that’s where our focus needs to be.”

    Cantor didn’t definitely rule out the idea, which suggests to me congressional Republicans will — you guessed it — hold an extension hostage until Democrats make some kind of major concession in order to help those struggling most.

    Paul Krugman had a column a while back that Cantor may want to consider (that is, if he were really interested in the best policy outcome).

    When the economy is booming, and lack of sufficient willing workers is limiting growth, generous unemployment benefits may keep employment lower than it would have been otherwise. But as you may have noticed, right now the economy isn’t booming — again, there are five unemployed workers for every job opening. Cutting off benefits to the unemployed will make them even more desperate for work — but they can’t take jobs that aren’t there.

    Wait: there’s more. One main reason there aren’t enough jobs right now is weak consumer demand. Helping the unemployed, by putting money in the pockets of people who badly need it, helps support consumer spending. That’s why the Congressional Budget Office rates aid to the unemployed as a highly cost-effective form of economic stimulus. And unlike, say, large infrastructure projects, aid to the unemployed creates jobs quickly — while allowing that aid to lapse, which is what is happening right now, is a recipe for even weaker job growth, not in the distant future but over the next few months.

    Krugman wrote that a year ago, and fortunately, benefits were extended a few months later. With Cantor and his cohorts now in the House majority, the jobless probably won’t be as fortunate this time.

    The basic concept here is quite simple: unemployment benefits are good for the economy. People who receive the aid aren’t sticking it in some money-market fund; they’re spending it and doing so immediately because it’s their main source of income. This injects demand and capital into the economy quickly, helping the beneficiaries and the rest of us.

    It’s hard to say whether Cantor can’t understand this or chooses not to. Either way, if this basic part of the Obama agenda can’t even get GOP support, the rest of the White House ideas don’t stand much of a chance.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Scott Walker Cuts State Health Services, Then Rejects Health Reform’s Public Health Grants
    By Igor Volsky on Aug 5, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) has rejected more than $9 million in grants from the Affordable Care Act that would have “focused on fighting drug and alcohol abuse; assessing health impacts of public policies; and signing up state residents who qualify for state health programs.” State health commissioners are outraged by the move, pointing out that the state is turning away money “at a time when there is a proliferation of illicit drugs and documentation of binge drinking and drunken driving in the state.” “Wisconsin would put its head in the virtual sand and not go after this funding,” Bevan Baker, commissioner of health for the City of Milwaukee said.

    Walker’s administration claims the grants “duplicated existing efforts,” despite making significant cuts to health care programs in the state’s recently-passed state budget. Walker slashed $500 million from Department of Health Services and instituted a $1.6 billion reduction in public school funding.

    In fact, some of the budget cuts specifically targeted drug and alcohol prevention programs in schools, while others will allow the health department’s secretary, Dennis Smith, “sole authority to make cuts to whatever programs he likes — or doesn’t like.” Smith hasn’t yet offered a finished proposal, but wouldn’t rule out cuts to addiction services.

    Wisconsin is also near the very bottom of states for public health funding, ranking 49th in the nation for state funding of prevention services per capita.

  15. rikyrah says:

    August 05, 2011 4:00 PM

    Hannity’s unique understanding of ‘women’s health’

    By Steve Benen

    Fox News’ Sean Hannity had a pretty remarkable segment last night, covering the Obama administration’s recent decision to have insurance plans cover contraception — without a co-pay — under preventive care. Hannity, of course, isn’t fond of the idea.

    But that’s not the interesting part. What I found amazing was Hannity explaining his perspective on this in some detail.

    The host asked Fox News legal analyst Jehmu Greene, for example, how the administration arrived at this position. She said, “Well, a panel of scientists…” at which point Hannity interrupted. “I don’t care about the scientists,” he said.

    No, of course not.

    Greene added that opponents of abortion rights “should be celebrating this decision,” since it will prevent unwanted pregnancies. Hannity wasn’t persuaded.

    “Look into the camera and tell the American people we are going to be $25 trillion in debt. Now if you want to make the choice to takeoff one article of clothing the next one, the next one, and have sex…. Go get your own birth control. I shouldn’t have to pay for it.”

    Greene, to her credit, pressed further, explaining that “unintended pregnancies in America cost us up to $11 billion a year,” and this modest step in support of women’s health will make a big difference.

    To which Hannity replied, “It is not about women’s health, it is about birth control.”

    The self-defeating qualities of the sentence eluded him.

    Later in the segment, the host stressed the notion that if people want to use birth control, it shouldn’t be covered as part of preventive services provided for free. After all, Hannity said, “Why can’t they take responsibility for their own life?”

    This prompted Greene to ask a good question: “But why should we pay for a man’s Viagra?”

    Hannity replied, “Because that actually is a medical problem versus a choice to have sex.”

    Wow. I mean, really. How does one even respond to that?

  16. Le Chele says:

    Finally killing black people doesn’t mean automatic acquittal.

    • The police were savages gunning down innocent unarmed Katrina victims in the back. Ronald Madison had mental disabilities and was shot in the back. For the love of God, how was he a threat? Everyone of these savages need to pay with their own lives for what they did! Life sentences is too good for them…just execute them! Ronald Madison’s blood demand justice to be paid!

  17. creolechild says:

    Democrats, It’s Time To Stop Bashing President Obama
    By Fran Joy

    How about a different strategy like support???

    I don’t believe in bashing President Obama in the media because it only hurts him, the party and the country in the long run. Let your voices be heard but direct them to him and not those who will use it against him. I respect Bill Maher because he says what’s on his mind and he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. But he’s been from the beginning highly critical of Obama and it’s made a big difference in the President’s base of support. One of the major things the GOP, including the Tea Party, has going for them in terms of power is, that they stick together no matter what.

    They stuck together even when it meant taking down the world economy. We have a decent, intelligent man of integrity in the White House and he often gets criticized for being so. He’s been called weak and too nice and told that he caves all the time. Has anyone ever assessed what he’s truly up against? Has anyone ever wondered what information he has access to that we don’t? It would be enough to be a Democratic president in these difficult times, but to be an African American president has been deemed as something downright evil by the GOP!

    No one has wanted to really address the obvious racism that’s been taking place since the President took office. Everyone downplays it, including President Barack Obama himself. The death threats alone must be awful. My point is, the reason they were able to hold a gun to his head in this congressional made debt crisis is because the DEMS and Independents stayed home at the midterms, or were unenthusiastic about their support or were in hard times struggling and scared so they voted for these Tea Party nutbags and bigots that are now holding our livelihood hostage.


    We gave President Obama 2 years to work miracles and then came the disastrous midterm elections, the results of which we are living under today. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. First it was the Blue Dog DEMS who refused to go along with the President because they were GOP in disguise by the way they refused to support him. With healthcare reform they had difficulty sticking together, and the President tried to make it bipartisan but he couldn’t. Now the GOP controls the House, several states and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has been bought and paid for based on its conservative majority including Clarence Thomas who should be impeached for being a puppet to the good old Corp boys and his Tea Party wife. So now the GOP has changed a lot of laws and rules of the game because the DEMs gave up too early on our President.

    Don’t under estimate Barack Obama. His strategies may not make sense but they’re usually long term when they seem like a short term fix, and they’re based on goals for the people rather than not. And whenever he comes through on anything, memory loss sets in on America because the GOP starts tearing him down the same day. And he tries to position himself to get to a certain place where he truly can make a difference. This is not an easy task for a man who has to fight his own party, the typical GOP, the Extremist Tea Party, Corporate America, the billionaires, the worldwide terrorists, inflation, joblessness, the global economy, RACISM, multiple wars, fellow African American, and even his own birth right and faith as a human being. No other President has had as much on his plate without the simple common decency of support and respect.


    People, we own the numbers. We are 300 million plus strong and our voices can be heard loud and clear. I respect Wisconsin immensely because they have buyer’s remorse and they’re doing something about it called RECALL elections. When a Democratic president’s hands are tied, it’s up to the people to be heard and bring him the support he needs. Corporate sponsors need to be hit where they care the most and that’s at their bottom lines. We need nonviolent protests on Washington and major boycotts across this country state to state. We don’t have the billionaire benefactors but we do have the numbers. Let’s use them. It’s now blatant what the GOP is doing to this country and it has absolutely nothing to do with JOBS! I love tea, but Wake up America and smell the COFFEE! Don’t sink into depression. Stand up for Democracy! Let’s give a dedicated effort to support our President to bring the change he promised!


  18. creolechild says:

    Just a little reminder…Thank you Extreme Liberal!

    Blame The Victim – Our Economy Shouldn’t Have Worn That Short Skirt And Low Cut Blouse!

    The first thing I want to say with regards to the apparent deal that was struck between the hostage takers and those representing the victims is that any “liberal” pundit or blogger who encouraged voters to stay home in 2010 – SHUT THE FUCK UP! I don’t even want to hear your fucking whining. It is your fault that the goddamn Republicans were given the power to fuck us all over so much.

    The next thing I want to say is THANK YOU PRESIDENT OBAMA for taking on the toughest job in the world in 2008. It’s a thankless job trying to clean up after the biggest fucking failure of a president we’ve ever had in George W. Bush. But of course no one could have imagined that the Republicans would throw every obstacle they could find in your path, including the kitchen sink.

    For people like Paul Krugman who characterize every compromise with the hostage takers, the terrorist Republicans, the obstinate children in the Tea Party as a “cave-in” — grow the fuck up already. Wipe off your snotty nose, suck it up and help us fight those motherfuckers in 2012. If you don’t wake up and realize that Republicans are playing you like a cheap fiddle, you don’t deserve to represent liberals. We don’t need crying, whining babies, we need people who will stand up and fight. Now pull up your Underoos and get to work.

    For the general public who hasn’t paid attention, let me break down what just happened for you.

    * Republicans created this crisis by demanding massive spending cuts to programs primarily for poor people — OR ELSE — they would wreck the economy for everyone.

    * Republicans began their propaganda campaign to attempt to blame the national debt on President Obama and the Democrats, when we all know that the Republicans spent like drunken sailors and gave massive tax breaks to the top 1% of the population during President George W. Bush’s term.

    * The Professional Left in their immaturity and “emoprog-ness” began weeping into their Kool-aid and wetting themselves because it became clear that they weren’t going to get their utopian, idealistic way…they ended up prostrate on the floor, kicking and screaming and acting like fucking children.

    * President Obama in an effort to stave off a complete meltdown of our economy kept his cool and pushed for a compromise — a deal with those devils to prevent the impending doom.

    * Many of these Republicans hostage takers voted for every damn penny that President Bush spent on two unnecessary – off budget wars, the unfunded Medicare Part D and the unpaid-for trillions in tax cuts to the wealthiest 1% who haven’t invested a fucking penny of that money in America, but are hiding it overseas where they don’t have to pay any goddamn taxes on it — thanks to President Bush.

    * So President Obama, being the president of all people and a responsible, sane person — continued to try to reach a deal to simply prevent us from plunging into another recession and possibly a depression. A compromise had to be reached, there was no other option. It didn’t have to be this way either. In 2010, Tea Party Republicans were sent to Washington in large part because of an effort by people like Ed Schultz, Arianna Huffington and others to suppress Democratic voters. They, of course, are the loudest voices whining about having to deal with those assholes AND IT IS THEIR OWN FUCKING FAULT that we are in this mess.

    * And now we have wasted almost the entire summer dealing with this Republican created crisis – this hostage taking. And not only did they distract everyone from the real problems we are facing like joblessness, but they also succeeded in getting the whiny “emoprogs” to lose their shit about it. All in all, the Republicans had a great summer at the expense of the rest of us.

    The reaction from many on the Professional Left is to blame the victim. President Obama had to deal with an unprecedented hostage situation that has never occurred in the history of our country, yet some of these people want to blame him for HAVING to compromise with these hostage takers. They all lament the fact that President Obama dealt with the GOP, yet not one of them offered a solution that would get us out of this hostage situation; not one idea about how we realistically get out of the mess.

    I know the whining and crying is just beginning on the left, so I’m preparing myself for it. I’ve already heard and seen the whiners push the idea of fucking it all up even worse by running someone in a primary against President Obama. It doesn’t surprise me, these people are just as stupid as the Tea Party – they are just sipping lattes instead of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

    UPDATED: No offense to either latte or PBR drinkers, I like a good latte myself…now PBR, not so much. But hey, whatever gets you a buzz. :)

  19. creolechild says:

    Gun Scare at Virginia Tech, Scene of 2007 Massacre
    2011-08-05 04:35

    Authorities issue a lockdown on Thursday at the campus of Virginia Tech, after a man suspected of carrying a gun was seen on campus. The school was the site of a 2007 mass shooting that killed 32 people. An alert on the school’s Web site read: “Person with a gun reported near Dietrick (dining hall). Stay inside. Secure doors. Emergency personnel responding. Call 911 for help.”

    A subsequent crime alert said three youths attending a camp on campus reported seeing a white man who appeared to have a gun covered with a white cloth. crime alert reads: “Officers responded immediately to the area but found no one matching the description.”
    Activity at the school grinds to a halt after the lockdown. The school is currently being used to house dozens of academic and sports camps for children over the summer vacation. The crime alert describes the suspect as 6 feet tall with light brown hair, wearing a blue and white striped shirt, gray shorts and brown sandals.

    Virginia Tech was criticized for not reacting quickly enough when gunman Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people on campus in April 2007. They responded quickly this time – after sending out an initial warning on the Web site, the school continued to update people on campus. An FBI spokeswoman says they are aware of the reported incident and agents are already on the scene.

  20. creolechild says:

    U.N. Scientific Report Slams Shell for Nigeria Oil Pollution
    2011-08-05 04:38

    It clings to the vegetation, coats the waterways and in some parts just gushes brazenly into the swamp. This is the legacy of more than 50 years of oil drilling in Nigeria. A U.N. report released on Thursday is placing the blame for this ecological disaster on Royal Dutch Shell and the Nigerian government. The report calls for the world’s largest ever oil clean-up operation, with an initial price tag of one billion dollars.

    Audrey Gaughran of Amnesty International says the report is welcome news and that the scientific findings confirm what many locals have suspected for a long time. “So this exposure of Shell’s failure to clean up is extremely serious, because Shell’s often maintained that it operates to best international standards; that is totally debunked by this report.”

    Another finding of the report is that area’s groundwater and not just its lakes and streams are completely polluted. Audrey Gaughran, Global Thematic Programme, Amnesty International:
    ”The human impact is that people are drinking polluted water, growing crops on polluted land, breathing polluted air, their health is at risk. They’re trying to fish in polluted water – if they can find fish – which becomes increasingly difficult. So, the cumulative impact of this – and this has been going on for 50 years in the Delta – this is incredibly serious, and hopefully this U.N. report, because it’s science-based and peer reviewed science, will move the debate forward and move us towards actually dealing with the problem in the Delta.” Environmental experts predict it could take up to 30 years to clean up pollution in the Niger Delta.

  21. creolechild says:

    Financial Operator of Mexican Drug Cartel Arrested
    2011-08-04 07:32

    On Wednesday the Mexican army announced the capture of one of the main financial operators in the country for the powerful Zetas drug cartel, a splinter group now battling the Gulf cartel.
    Colonel Ricardo Trevilla, Army Spokesman: “Quintanilla Soriano kept a close relationship with the main leaders of this criminal structure, Heriberto Lazcano and Miguel Angel Trevino. And before being the main financial operator within this criminal organization he was the main accountant in different states, where Los Zetas has presence, mainly in Veracruz, San Luis Potosi and Coahuila.”

    The army said they arrested Quintanilla Soriano and his assistant on Tuesday in the city of Saltillo in Coahuila state. Both men were armed at the time of their arrest. Colonel Ricardo Trevilla, Army Spokesman: “The arrested were found in a building they used as a safe house. We seized two rifles, a gun, four vehicles, communications equipment and miscellaneous documents from them.” Troops said Quintanilla Soriano frequently traveled to Monterrey, Saltillo and Monclova to coordinate accounting aspects and pay off authorities at the service of the cartel.

    More than 42,000 people have died in Mexico over the past four years since President Felipe Calderon cracked down on powerful drug cartels.

  22. creolechild says:

    State declines to request or back $9 million in health grants
    By Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel

    Madison – Gov. Scott Walker’s health secretary has declined to make or back applications for federal public health grants that could have totaled more than $9 million over the next five years.
    Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith hasn’t signed onto grants that would have focused on fighting drug and alcohol abuse; assessing health impacts of public policies; and signing up state residents who qualify for state health programs, officials at the agency and other health groups said. The changes reflect a marked difference in the way the new Republican administration approaches questions of public health and federal grants compared with the administration of former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.

    The disclosures by the state Department of Health Services come after the Walker administration reversed an earlier rejection by Smith and backed grants totaling roughly $30 million over five years for public health initiatives to stop smoking, reduce obesity and promote healthier lifestyles.
    Bevan Baker, commissioner of health for the City of Milwaukee, said he was particularly surprised that the Walker administration would not support applications for two federal grants together worth up to $8.6 million over five years for fighting alcohol and drug abuse.

    “I, for the life of me, cannot understand why at a time when there is a proliferation of illicit drugs and documentation of binge drinking and drunken driving in the state . . . Wisconsin would put its head in the virtual sand and not go after this funding,” Baker said, adding that Wisconsin is already near the bottom of states for public health funding. Approval from the state Department of Health Services – even for separate groups – is needed to apply for some federal health grants and in other cases simply helps an application’s chances.


  23. creolechild says:

    Walker On The Recalls: ‘If Given The Facts They’re Going To Make Good Decisions’
    By: Eric Kleefeld

    This Tuesday six state Senate recalls will be held in Wisconsin against Republican incumbents, launched in a backlash against Gov. Scott Walker’s policies against public employee unions, with the potential for control of the chamber to flip to the Democrats. And for his part, WisPolitics reports, Walker now says that result is “out of our hands” and with the voters.

    “I believe if given the facts they’re going to make good decisions,” Walker told reporters, after a ceremony opening the State Fair in Milwaukee. “Sometimes they’re going to be decisions that side with me, sometimes they’re going to be with others, but I’m going to respect their decision.”

    However, Walker stood by his predictions that voters would realize the benefits of his legislation: “I think slowly they will see, and overall the school programs have gotten better.”

  24. creolechild says:

    Cantor Opposes Extending Unemployment Benefits: We Need To Stop ‘Pumping Up’ Jobless Americans – By Tanya Somanader

    The unemployment rate inched downwards to 9.1 percent today, with private sector jobs increasing by 154,000. While a slight improvement, these better-than-expected figures provide little comfort to the 14 million Americans who are unemployed. 44.4 percent of the unemployed have been out of work for six months or more. For these Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, the federal unemployment benefits program provides much needed financial support. Every dollar the federal government spends in federal unemployment generates two dollars of economic growth. These benefits, however, are set to expire at the end of the year.

    In response to today’s jobs report, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) declared that “unemployment is far too high” and that Congress “must push pro-growth policies to get back on track.” Noting Cantor’s apparent concern as “spot on,”, CNBC host Jim Kramer told Cantor that obviously, “you’re for extending unemployment benefits given the chaotic situation.” Cantor’s response? Nope, because “for too long in Washington now we’ve been worried about pumping up the stimulus moneys and pumping up unemployment benefits”:

    Cantor declared that “the most important thing we can do for somebody who’s unemployed is to see if we can get them a job” and declared that the only way unemployment benefits could be extended is if “we find commensurate cuts somewhere else”:


  25. creolechild says:

    Wisconsin Expanding DMV Services For Voter-ID, After Complaints About Closures
    Eric Kleefeld

    The state of Wisconsin’s recently passed Voter ID law will now result in an increased cost to the state, as Department of Motor Vehicles offices are expanded in order to accommodate the increased demand for photo identification cards. The Wisconsin State Journal reports that state Secretary of Transportation Mark Gottlieb announced the expansion on Thursday, which will leave all current DMV offices still open, increase the total number of offices from 88 to 92, and increase total office hours across the state by about 32,000 per year.

    The change is expected to cost $6 million in the first year, and $4 million for each additional year going forward. This new plan came in the wake of objections to the DOT’s original plan from last month, which called for cutbacks that would close 16 offices, while simultaneously expanding office hours elsewhere. At the time, Democrats alleged that the proposal had unfairly targeted Democratic areas, which would have made it more difficult for residents there to obtain identification and be able to vote. “We listened to the concerns of legislators and others impacted by the potential changes,” said Gottlieb.

  26. creolechild says:

    Jury Finds 5 New Orleans Police Guilty In Katrina Shootings Case

    NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – A federal jury found four New Orleans police officers guilty on Friday in connection to the shooting deaths of civilians in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and a subsequent cover-up. The jury stopped short of calling the shootings murder, declining to convict on accusations that the killings were intentional.

    The officers faced up to 25 counts each for their role in the September 4, 2005 shooting that left two dead and four others seriously injured. A fifth officer, who was not accused of firing at the civilians, was convicted of helping the others cover it up.

  27. creolechild says:

    Here’s En Vogue, singing Giving Him Something He Can Feel.

  28. creolechild says:

    Here’s the Rude Boys & Gerald Levert, singing Written All Over Your Face.

  29. creolechild says:

    Here’s Al B Sure, singing Night & Day.

  30. creolechild says:

    Here’s the Mary Jane Girls, singing All Night Long.

  31. creolechild says:

    Time for a break.. Here’s Zapp & Roger with More Bounce to the Ounce.

  32. creolechild says:

    How Change Happens: A Threefold Strategy
    by: David Korten


    Social systems self-organize around ideas and relationships. They are living, complex, dynamic, and constantly evolving as they and their members learn from shared experience.
    The organism, not the machine, provides the appropriate metaphor. The relevant knowledge resides not with outside experts but with the people who populate the system. The challenge for those who strive to be agents of transformational change is to help members of their group, community, or society recognize, organize, and use that knowledge in ever more effective ways. Through the dynamics of societal scale social learning processes, people innovate, create, and learn to relate in new ways that enhance their shared well-being. Individual learning translates into community learning that translates into species learning.

    The overall process has three primary elements that frame a powerful societal-scale change strategy.

    1. Change the defining stories of the mainstream culture. My previous New Economy 2.0 blog made the case that “Every Great Social Movement” begins with an idea carried forward through conversations that challenge and ultimately displace a prevailing cultural story. The civil rights movement is changing the cultural story on race. The women’s movement is changing the story on gender. The environmental movement is changing the story on the human relationship to nature. Through public presentations, books, magazines, talk shows, and the Internet’s many communications tools, millions of people are now spreading stories of the possibilities of a New Economy.

    2. Create a new economic reality from the bottom up. Many of those who have been inspired by some aspect of the New Economy story are already engaged in initiatives that are building the foundation of strong local living economies. They are establishing and supporting locally owned human-scale businesses and family farms that create regional self-reliance in food, energy, and other basic essentials. They are moving their money to local banks and credit unions, retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency, and changing land-use policies to favor compact communities, reduce auto dependence, and reclaim agricultural and forest lands. By creating a new reality on the ground their actions open opportunities for new personal choices, demonstrate the possibilities of the new story, and build a base for effective political action.

    3. Change the rules to support the values and institutions of the emergent new reality. The rules put in place by Wall Street lobbyists put the economic rights of global financiers and corporations ahead of the economic rights of ordinary people, place-based communities, and even nations. As we change the story and build appropriate institutions from the bottom up, we gain the political traction needed to change the rules to support democratic self-determination at the lowest feasible level of systems organization.


    Read more:

  33. creolechild says:

    U.S. economy adds 117,000 jobs in July
    By Reuters

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. job growth accelerated more than expected in July as private employers stepped up hiring, a development that could ease fears the economy was sliding into a fresh recession. U.S. payrolls increased 117,000, the Labor Department said on Friday, above market expectations for an 85,000 gain. The unemployment rate dipped to 9.1 percent from 9.2 percent in June, but this was mostly the result of people leaving the labor force. The payrolls count for May and June was revised to show 56,000 more jobs added than previously reported
    The report was the first encouraging piece of economic data in some time.

    Fears that U.S. economy might be sliding back into recession, coupled with Europe’s inability to tame its spreading debt crisis have roiled global financial markets. Economists see the odds of a recession as high as 40 percent. U.S. stocks on Thursday suffered their worst sell-off in two years. Top policymakers at the Federal Reserve will sift through the report when they meet on Tuesday but are not expected to announce any new measures to support the sputtering recovery.
    The U.S. central bank has cut interest rates to zero and spent $2.3 trillion on bonds. Policy makers have said they want to see how the economy fares before taking any further action.


  34. creolechild says:

    Former Swiss banker charged with hiding $215 million for U.S. taxpayers
    By Agence France-Presse

    A former UBS banker has been charged for conspiring to hide more than $215 million for US taxpaying clients in undeclared Swiss accounts. Gian Gisler allegedly opened and managed more than 60 hidden accounts on behalf of over 38 US taxpaying clients, the Justice Department said.
    Beginning in the mid-1990s, Gisler was a client adviser at UBS until late 2008, when a US investigation into UBS became public and he then began working for a Swiss asset management firm, according to prosecutors.

    They also said Gisler took money from clients who wanted their funds to remain undeclared and provided it to other UBS clients so that no cash crossed the border. If convicted of conspiracy, Gisler, who currently lives in Zurich, Switzerland, could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. In 2009, UBS admitted to US tax fraud and identified some 300 clients suspected of tax fraud to authorities.

  35. BREAKING NEWS: Jury convicts 5 police officers in post-Katrina shootings

    NEW ORLEANS — A federal jury on Friday convicted five current or former police officers in the deadly shootings on a New Orleans bridge after Hurricane Katrina.

    All five officers were convicted of charges stemming from the cover-up of the shootings. The four who had been charged with civil rights violations in the shootings were convicted on all counts.

    However, the jury didn’t find that Brisette or Faulcon’s shootings amounted to murder.
    Prosecutors contended during the five-week federal trial that officers shot unarmed people without justification and without warning, killing two and wounding four others on Sept. 4, 2005, then embarked on a cover-up involving made-up witnesses, falsified reports and a planted gun.

    Defense attorneys countered that the officers were returning fire and reasonably believed their lives were in danger as they rushed to respond to another officer’s distress call less than a week after Katrina struck.

    Convicted were former officer Robert Faulcon, Sgts. Robert Gisevius and Kenneth Bowen, Officer Anthony Villavaso and retired Sgt. Arthur Kaufman. Faulcon, Gisevius, Bowen and Villavaso were convicted in the shootings and with taking part in the alleged cover-up. Kaufman, who investigated the shootings, was charged only in the alleged cover-up.

  36. creolechild says:

    Republicans Hope America Develops Stockholm Syndrome by 2012
    By Rmuse

    A century ago, a leader could claim to speak for the entire country and if the speaker was trustworthy, their word could be taken for the truth. In the modern era of perpetual polling and up-to-the-minute news reporting, a leader can still claim to speak for all Americans but their assertions can be checked for veracity within one news cycle or sooner if one has access to the Internet. There are some leaders in Congress who claim to speak for the American people, but if they are members of the Republican Party, it is a relatively safe bet that they are being deceitful. However, when a Republican leader in the Senate claims the American people agree with the GOP’s handling of the debt ceiling negotiations and their refusal to allow revenue increases, it is most certainly an abject lie.

    The liar in question is Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and as usual, he fails to remember that every statement a politician makes can be checked for veracity in a matter of minutes. McConnell was speaking about the debt ceiling negotiations with President Obama and the coming battle of more spending cuts when he said, “The American people agreed with us on the nature of the problem. They know the government didn’t accumulate $14.3 trillion in debt because it didn’t tax enough.” McConnell repeated his assertion again when talking about next year’s debt ceiling debate where he again repeated himself saying, “Republicans only control one half of one third of the federal government, but the American people agree with us.” So McConnell either believes his own fallacy or he is engaging in the Adolf Hitler’s tried-and-true tactic of repeating a lie often until people believe it as fact.

    Apparently, McConnell thinks the American people agreed with Republicans holding the economy hostage to avoid tax increases on the wealthiest Americans. Political observers had been saying for weeks that Republicans were holding the economy hostage and McConnell finally admitted that was the case when he said, “I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming.” It is not often that a criminal admits their deviant activity, but with vile Republicans, there is nothing too obscene to admit. What is most disgusting though is that McConnell thinks Americans agree with his Republican Party cohorts and approve of their willingness to ruin the economy to save their wealthy donors from a tax increase. Sadly, McConnell said he can imagine holding the economy hostage again when the debt limit increase comes up again.


  37. creolechild says:

    Syrian troops fire on protesters, killing 8
    By: Bassem Mroue

    BEIRUT -Security forces opened fire on protesters, killing at least eight, as tens of thousands poured into streets across Syria on Friday, chanting for the fall of President Bashar Assad and defying a fierce military siege of Hama, where tanks shelled residential districts around dawn. The six-day-old assault on Hama, which has killed at least 100 people, seemed to do little to intimidate protesters, though the marches were somewhat smaller than previous Fridays, perhaps in part because this was the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.

    Protests spread from the capital, Damascus, to the southern province of Daraa and to Deir al-Zour in the east. Other demonstrations were reported in Homs in the center and in Qamishli, near the Turkish border. “Hama, we are with you until death,” a crowd marching through Damascus’ central neighborhood of Midan shouted, clapping their hands as they chanted, “We don’t want you Bashar” and “Bashar Leave,” according to amateur videos from Friday posted on line by activists. In another district of the capital, Qadam, protesters carried a banner reading, “Bashar is slaughtering the people and the international community is silent.”

    Security forces opened fire with live ammunition and tear gas in several cities, activists said. At least six people were killed in the Damascus suburb of Arbeen, said rights activists Mustafa Osso, while the Local Coordination Committees, a group that tracks protests said seven people were killed there. LCC added that another person was killed in the central city of Homs. Osso said three people were killed in the Damascus suburbs of Madaya and Kanker.


  38. creolechild says:

    GM Reclaims Crown as No.1 Global Car Company
    By Douglas McIntyre

    Toyota (TM) took the spot as the world’s No.1 car company in 2009, replacing GM (GM) which held the honor for decades. Now, GM has taken the position back based on its data from the first half and numbers from Toyota and VW. VW actually claimed the second spot and pushed Toyota into third. It has been a long road for GM but there’s definitely much to cheer about these days. Sales in China are the major catalyst of the GM recovery. The U.S. manufacturer sold 1.27 million cars and light trucks in the world’s largest auto market during the first half.

    GM’s fortunes bottomed when it filed for Chapter 11 in mid-2009. Forty days later, it emerged from bankruptcy, aided by U.S. government funds and cleansed of many of its balance sheet obligations. GM still had to rebuild sales which it lost during most of the last decade. It did so with new models, many for the U.S. market. And, it became the top car company in China, often tied with VW for that lead.

  39. creolechild says:

    Confidential Memo: Walmart Sales in Trouble
    By Douglas McIntyre

    A confidential memo obtained by Bloomberg reveals some big concerns at Walmart (WMT) — its U.S. sales, particularly at stores open at least a year, are in big trouble. “Those Wal-Mart stores had 82.8 million fewer visits through the first five months of the company’s fiscal year than a year earlier, says the memo,” Bloomberg reports. It’s the latest in a long list of bad news for the domestic chain. It is also a challenge to CEO Michael Duke, who has led the retail giant since early 2009 and S Robson Walton, the chairman of the board. Walton represents the interests of the retailer’s founding family which holds the controlling share block in the company.

    Walmart cannot be a success without an upward movement in the revenue of its flagship division. Walmart’s U.S. sales were flat in the last quarter, according to its 10-Q. Revenue for the division in the latest period was $62.6 billion. compared to the year-ago period when the revenue was $62.3 billion. That amounts to roughly two-thirds of all Walmart’s revenue. Overseas sales are rising, and reached $27.9 billion last quarter, but that growth has slowed in recent quarters.

    Walmart said same-store sales dropped 1.1% in the last quarter, blaming high gasoline and food prices. The same cannot be said for rivals. Same-store sales at Target (TGT), for instance, rose 4.5% in June and are higher by 2.7% year-to-date. Results have worn on Walmart’s share price. During the last two years it is down 3%, under-performing Target and the S&P 500. The leaked memo will certainly put more pressure on CEO Duke. It has been hard to make a argument that his tenure has been successful and that argument has become even more difficult lately.

    See full article from DailyFinance:

  40. creolechild says:

    Benjamin Netanhayu reportedly relents on 1967 borders
    By ELIAS GROLL | 8/1/11 5:13 PM EDT Updated: 8/2/11 4:17 PM EDT

    President Barack Obama has wrung a big concession from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has essentially agreed to accept the 1967 borders as a starting point for peace talks with the Palestinians, according to an Israeli TV report on Monday.

    The decision by Netanyahu represents a dramatic policy shift for the Israeli prime minister who was incensed in May when Obama publicly proposed that the 1967 borders be the basis for negotiations with the Palestinians. Obama’s position was seen by many as a sharp departure from longstanding U.S. policy, although the White House insisted it was not. According to the report by Israel’s Channel 2 televion, Netanyahu has agreed to consider beginning negotiations that would include land swaps by both sides on the condition that the Palestinians drop a bid to be recognized as an independent state by the U. N. General Assembly next month.

    “We are willing in a framework of restarting the peace talks to accept a proposal that would contain elements that would be difficult for Israel and we would find very difficult to endorse,” an anonymous Israeli official told the AP. On Tuesday, Netanyahu told the Israeli Parliamnent’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that a document in progress laying out his position is based on the second of two speeches delivered by Obama in May.


    Read more:

  41. creolechild says:


    Piers Morgan Asked To Return To Britain To Answer Phone Hacking Allegations

    LONDON — British lawmakers say CNN interviewer Piers Morgan should return to Britain to answer allegations that the newspaper group he worked for hacked the voicemail of Paul McCartney’s ex-wife.

    From 1995 to 2004, Morgan edited the Daily Mirror tabloid, part of the Trinity Mirror PLC group. McCartney’s ex-wife Heather Mills has accused a reporter working for Trinity Mirror of intercepting her voicemail messages in 2001, but has not specified which newspaper.


  42. creolechild says:

    Florida accepts Affordable Care Act funds for abstinence-only education
    By Ashley Lopez

    Despite turning down money for state programs because of their disagreement with federal health care reform, Florida officials accepted more than $2.5 million made available by the Affordable Care Act to fund its abstinence-only sex education grant program.


    Read more:

  43. creolechild says:

    Payback Time: Wisconsin Progressives & Labor Ready For Recall Elections
    By Roger Bybee

    [The following article first appeared at Working In These Times, the labor blog of In These Times magazine….]

    Heading toward eight remaining recall elections, Wisconsin labor and Democrats gained critical momentum on July 19 as they scored an overwhelming 66-31 percent victory in Green Bay against GOP efforts to punish Democratic State Sen. Dave Hansen, a friend of labor. The remaining elections—called for after the GOP stripped public employees of virtually all bargaining rights this winter and activists occupied the Madison Capitol in protest—will be held August 9 (when six Republicans are up) and August 16 (when two other Democrats face recall efforts).

    Over the past two months, Republicans’ claims to be guided solely by budgetary concerns and taxpayer needs have been tainted by their participation in a set of undemocratic measures, including partisan gerrymandering of state legislative districts, and what Common Cause of Wisconsin director Jay Heck called “the most restrictive, blatantly partisan and ill-conceived voter identification legislation in the nation” (details on these measures below).


  44. creolechild says:

    Obama Plans Job-Focused Bus Tour
    By Loop 21

    Now that President Obama has signed the bill to raise the country’s debt ceiling, he is making plans for the rest of the month. Obama is planing a bus tour of the Midwest in mid-August, which will focus on jobs and the economy.

    The tour comes after Obama’s job approval rating sank to 40% last week in Gallup’s daily tracking poll.

    The White House has not yet announced which cities Obama will visit.

  45. creolechild says:

    If You Own An Xbox — Or An Air Conditioner — Can You Still Be Considered Poor?
    By Rae Gomes

    Poverty is one of the least flashy issues in political discourse, but it seems to be getting a renewed focus–at least in some circles. Unfortunately, President Obama’s attempt to focus on the 30 million Americans living in poverty through anti-poverty initiatives got trampled on by Republicans. While the legislation approaches its second stage of voting, there’s little hope that, even if the measures get approved, they would have much of an impact. Despite that disappointment, two different outlets have recently investigated the changing face of America’s poor — and only one gets it right.

    The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, released a report called “Redefining Poverty.” It starts off with a simplistic focus on the material wealth of most Americans, saying they live in relative luxury and that even through Americans’ own understanding of poverty (homelessness, hungry people wandering the streets as reported by another survey in the foundation’s report), the number of the actual poor are far less than the US Census Bureau would have us believe. Using graphs and illustrations from 2005, the Heritage Foundation’s report seeks to prove that ownership of modern amenities such as cable TV, Xboxes, microwaves and air conditioners is reason to believe that “living standards [of the poor] are far different from the images of dire deprivation promoted by activists and the mainstream media.”


  46. creolechild says:

    Microsoft Still Crying The Blues Over So-Called Lack of Skilled Americans When They Just Want Younger, Cheaper Foreign Workers – By Susie Madrak

    Anyone who’s ever worked in IT knows tons of skilled, experienced and unemployed programmers who can’t find work – while companies are crying they can’t fill jobs. This has been going on for a really long time, and during a time when American jobs are so badly needed, politicians shouldn’t be helping them with this shell game:

    What IT labor shortage? That’s what reps for unemployed programmers and other IT workers are asking in response to Microsoft’s claim that it needs to import more foreign help because the United States isn’t producing enough individuals with the high-tech skills it needs. Workers’ advocates say that if big tech companies are having a tough time finding qualified employees it’s only because they are limiting their searches to younger, less expensive workers. “Experienced IT workers who are over 40 years old have a hard time even getting noticed by companies like Microsoft,” said Rennie Sawade, communications director for WashTech, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America. “They’re really after the younger, more inexpensive workers.”

    Sawade also rejects claims by Microsoft and other high-tech employers that more experienced IT workers are not getting hired because they lack skills in hot new areas like cloud and mobility. “I doubt the ones they are bringing over on H-1B visas necessarily have those skills. They give them a three-week crash course and then call them a Java programmer.” Sawade’s comments come on the heels of controversial testimony that Microsoft senior counsel Brad Smith gave last month before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on immigration, refugees, and border security. Smith said the software maker has thousands of open positions going unfilled. “Filling our talent need remains a serious challenge,” said Smith. As of May, Microsoft had 4,551 job openings–including 2,629 computer science positions–but it’s taking the company up to 65 days on average to find qualified workers for open spots, Smith said.

    Smith argued that, until more Americans are available to fill high-tech jobs, U.S. immigration policies need to be relaxed to make it easier for companies like Microsoft to import workers from tech hot spots like India and China to fill the gap. “Our continued ability to help fuel the American economy depends heavily on continued access to the best possible talent. This cannot be achieved, and certainly not in the near term, exclusively through educational improvements to ‘skill up’ the American workforce.”

  47. creolechild says:

    Cut Budgets to Kill Jobs’ – And 4 More GOP Schemes to Rig the 2012 Election
    By: Stacie B.

    If you can see through the bull, you already know one of America’s most immediate problems is high unemployment – not “out of control” government spending. But many in Congress aren’t interested in creating jobs. No, Republicans have drug out the debt limit debate for weeks, pretending to battle over “spending sprees” and Obama’s “tax obsession” to disguise the fact that the GOP is busy cutting jobs – the exact opposite of saving the economy. The GOP is betting that if unemployment stays high, recovery stalls and we risk default, they’ll have an easier time booting Obama out of the White House, doing away with the biggest obstacle they face in their quest to:

    * Unravel Medicare,
    * Repeal environmental standards,
    * Eliminate consumer protections, and
    * Enact even deeper tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.


    The current debt limit showdown has proved the theory: Republicans are willing to refuse reasonable compromises and deliberately undermine credit ratings, economic confidence and job growth in order to defeat Obama. The editor of Red State magazine tweeted on July 15 that House Republicans were passing around this piece in a “closed door” meeting. This is what it advises: “It is you and not Obama who hold most of the cards. Obama has a legacy to worry about. Should the U.S. lose its bond rating, it will be called the ‘Obama Depression.’ Congress does not get pinned with this stuff.”

    In other words: “Push the nation to the brink of economic collapse. If we default, Obama will be blamed to Republicans’ political advantage.” If right wingers will broadcast this type of strategy out in the open, it should make you wonder what they are scheming about behind closed doors.


  48. rikyrah says:

    Making an end run around Justice
    .OUR OPINION: A quick switch to review Florida’s new election law adds to voters’ cynicism
    By The Miami Herald Editorial

    If Gov. Rick Scott and his administration are so convinced that major changes to election laws indeed will eliminate voter fraud (or the potential of it) — not merely make voting difficult for minority and poor people — he’d seek an imprimatur of fairness from the federal Department of Justice.

    What could be better proof than an OK from an agency perceived by his administration to be in thrall to the political opposition?

    Instead, Gov. Scott’s appointed secretary of state, Kurt Browning, is making an end run around Justice and seeking “preclearance” on those changes from the federal district court in Washington. The 1965 Voting Rights Act provides for preclearance from Justice or from the federal court for changes in states and counties with a history of discrimination. Justice usually is the venue for preclearance, and Mr. Browning first applied to Justice.

    Now, Mr. Browning says, rather snidely, that he wanted to move preclearance to the court to eliminate “the risk of a ruling impacted by outside influence” from Justice and to be “assured of a neutral evaluation based on the facts.”

    In other words, a Department of Justice headed by an Obama appointee would be less “neutral” than a federal court with many appointees from Republican presidents.

    This is odd because Justice, under either party, has rarely rejected changes in election laws, according to a 40-year review by the Commission on Civil Rights in 2006. Under President Obama, Justice has precleared laws deemed restrictive by opponents. Further, challengers to voting laws have found little joy at the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Opponents of Florida’s new law say the real motive is to make voting more difficult, especially for people new to voting, those who move frequently and those who have difficulty getting to the polls — people who are younger or poorer or likely to be minority. People suspected of being (gasp) Democrats.

    The new provisions include a shortening of the time to two days from 10 that volunteer groups have to turn in voter registration applications, a shortening of time for validity of signatures on constitutional-amendment petition drives to two years from four, a decrease in days for early voting to eight days from 14 but with longer hours, and a provision requiring voters who change their addresses at the polls to cast only provisional ballots.

    Never did the Legislature hear strong evidence of actual voter fraud and had to fall back on arguing about the “potential.” Never has it really addressed actual scandals like those in Miami-Dade County of dead people and nursing home residents suffering from dementia “voting” by absentee ballots.

    The League of Women Voters is so infuriated by the prospect of fines for its volunteers who don’t meet the two-day paperwork deadline that that it no longer will set up its card tables at shopping malls.

    Howard Simon of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida notes that 54 percent of African Americans voted early in 2008. Further, he notes that almost 50 percent of provisional ballots never are counted.

    Awaiting preclearance are five of Florida’s 67 counties. They are Collier (the Naples area), Hendry inland of Collier, Hillsborough (the Tampa area), Hardee to the northwest of Hillsborough, and Monroe (the Florida Keys and part of the Everglades).

    If Gov. Scott et al have better political ideas, they should not be ashamed to test those ideas among all voters. The cynicism behind the new law — and this end run around Justice — says they merely want the approbation of the chosen few.

    Read more:

  49. rikyrah says:

    The summer of Obama’s discontent
    August has historically been a treacherous month for the president. But Obama can own this month, this year, and next, if he regains the fierce urgency of now
    posted on August 4, 2011, at 4:32 PM

    For Barack Obama, August has long been the cruelest month.

    In August of 2007, with Hillary Clinton all but universally seen as securely ahead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Obama had to face down grumbling from his supporters that the campaign had to get more aggressive — or it might simply fade away. Obama stood the ground of his strategy, carried Iowa, and was on his way to the nomination.

    Two years later, months after the passage of the stimulus bill that prevented a descent into depression, and with Congress apparently ready to pass health care reform in the fall, August of 2009 was the time when town halls convulsed into near riots and the Tea Party moved from the cranky edge of American public life toward dominance in the Republican Party. Obama stayed his course and finally won health reform the following spring, but what was left of the president’s vision of bipartisanship shriveled as the aisle he aspired to reach across became a chasm.

  50. rikyrah says:

    Earnings Influenced by Race, Gender, Degree
    Posted by: Louis Lavelle on August 5, 2011

    Want to make a lot of money at your job? It’s no secret that it helps to be white, male and have at least a bachelor’s degree. But a new study suggests just how big an advantage that is.

    The study by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University examines what a college degree is worth, and reiterates what many already know about the impact of higher education on lifetime earnings. But it also sheds new light on the disparity in earnings among different ethnicities and genders that hold the same degree.

    What’s not surprising is that the higher the level of education, the greater the paycheck—MBAs and other graduate degrees fetch a premium in the job market over workers with bachelor’s degrees, and those with a bachelor’s out-earn those with a high school diploma. But here are some things that were surprising:

    Not surprising: Women earn less than men.

    Surprising: Over the course of a lifetime, a woman with a bachelor’s degree earns about the same as a man with some college education, about $1.9 million. A woman with a doctorate earns nearly $2.9 million, slightly more than a man…with a bachelor’s degree ($2.6 million).

    Women with professional degrees earn $1 million less over a lifetime than men with the same degree. And to earn the same as a man with a doctorate? You’d have to be a man with a doctorate.

    Anthony Carnevale, director of the center, said he didn’t have a reason for the difference in earnings, but said the differences existed even when controlling for occupation and education and considering only full-time, full-year work. He said it was comforting to see women responding by seeking more education at higher rates of men.

    Not surprising: African-Americans and Latinos earn less than whites, even when educational attainment is the same.

    Surprising: African-Americans and Latinos with master’s degrees have lower lifetime earnings than whites with bachelor’s degrees. Carnevale said the situation was worse because these minority groups are not seeking degrees beyond a bachelor’s at the same rates as whites.

    Not surprising: Employees with master’s degrees make more money than those with a bachelor’s degree.

    Surprising (or maybe not): The lifetime earnings of MBAs are the greatest of all the master’s degrees and the MBA has the greatest earnings leap from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s.

    “In the case of business administration, get an MBA. Don’t listen to what anyone else says,” Carnevale said.

    The pool of MBAs may be crowded, he said, but better to be in that pool than in the pool of bachelor’s degree holders.

  51. rikyrah says:

    Inside Obama’s 50th-birthday party

    By JENNIFER EPSTEIN | 8/5/11 7:43 AM EDT
    Rapper Jay-Z, actor Tom Hanks and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were among those who joined President Barack Obama’s longtime friends to celebrate his 50th birthday with a barbeque bash at the White House.

    After sending the White House press corps home early at 4 p.m., the president welcomed politicos, celebrities, donors and close friends for dinner in the Rose Garden and music in the East Room, including a medley by Stevie Wonder that ended in “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” according to Friday’s POLITICO Playbook.

    The evening began with chicken, ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta and salad in the Rose Garden, and then four kinds of pie: apple, peach, huckleberry and cherry. At the end of the dinner, irst lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha presented the president with a cake before the party moved indoors.

    In the East Room, performers included R&B singer Ledisi, jazz musician Herbie Hancock and Wonder. The president encouraged everyone to dance — and they did. Lots of kids were on hand and they stole the show as they danced in the center of the East Room.

    Celebrities at the party included Jay-Z, Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, basketball stars Charles Barkley and Grant Hill, comedian Chris Rock, actor Hill Harper and Oprah Winfrey’s best friend, Gayle King. (Last year, Obama celebrated his birthday with a small dinner with friends, including Winfrey, while his wife and kids were on vacation.)

    Also attending were cabinet members such as Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

    From Capitol Hill: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul, Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Former DNC chairman and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine — now a Senate candidate — was there, as was Patrick Gaspard, the DNC’s executive director. Al Sharpton and UBS Investment Bank President Robert Wolf also were in attendance.

    Many White House and campaign staffers — past and present — were on hand, including former chief of staff and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and his successor Bill Daley, former press secretary Robert Gibbs, advisers Valerie Jarrett, David Plouffe and David Axelrod. Anita Dunn and Bob Bauer, Denis McDonough, Michael Strautmanis, Pete Rouse, Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco, Tina Tchen, White House chef Sam Kass, Julianna Smoot, Marty Nesbitt, Eric Whitaker, Linda Douglass also were among those who attended.

    Obama also had other friends from Chicago and law school join in at the party

    Read more:

  52. rikyrah says:

    Is This Appropriate?
    by BooMan
    Fri Aug 5th, 2011 at 09:48:52 AM EST

    I think this should really be a lot more controversial than it appears to be:

    [Texas Governor] Rick Perry will host his much-buzzed about Christian prayer-fest “The Response” in Houston on Saturday, where participants will ask for divine help to overcome America’s myriad problems.
    “A historic crisis facing our nation and threatening our future demands a historic response from the church,” Perry said in a video recorded to promote the event. “We must, as a people, return to the faith and hope of our fathers. The ancient paths of great men were blazed in prayer – the humility of the truly great men of history was revealed in their recognition of the power and might of Jesus to save all who call on His great name.”

    He’s a sitting governor, and he’s leading a revival prayer meeting for followers of Jesus Christ in goddamned Reliant Stadium, the home of the Houston Texans. If that sounds like the plot of a Vonnegut or Vidal book to you, you’re not alone. That’s especially true because Gov. Rick Perry is seriously considering entering the presidential contest. He’ll be the Prayer Candidate. But only Christian prayer counts for him.

  53. rikyrah says:

    August 05, 2011 10:00 AM

    Reinforcing fears over Boehner’s illiteracy

    By Steve Benen

    In early May 2010, the single best jobs report in more than four years was released. The private sector added nearly a quarter-million jobs and the overall economy added over 450,000 jobs. It was, at the time, the best economic news Americans had received in a long while.

    John Boehner was inexplicably outraged, calling the good news “disappointing news,” adding that the big jump in job creation was “a harsh reminder that families and small businesses continue to ask ‘where are the jobs?’”

    Even by GOP standards, this was bizarre. It was as if the Republican leader wrote a condemnation before the job numbers were even released, and didn’t feel the need to adjust it after the report was released.

    This morning, Boehner did it again.

    Today’s unemployment report is more proof that all of the Washington spending, taxing, and regulating is devastating our economy. While the American people are asking ‘where are the jobs?’ the Democrats running Washington are determined to punish small businesses with higher taxes and more red tape….

    Does the Speaker actually expect anyone to take this seriously? Or did his press flacks, who assume the public will fall for anything, write this yesterday?

    The new jobs report shows the private sector continuing to grow, but the public sector continues to shed tens of thousands of jobs every month. “Washington spending … is devastating our economy”? Government spending cuts have led to massive layoffs, serving as an anti-stimulus dragging down the larger economy. How in the world could a sane person believe more spending is undermining the economy when we’re spending less and losing jobs as a consequence?

    Here are a few questions some enterprising reporter might want to ask the House Speaker at his next press availability: “You said Washington spending is ‘devastating our economy.’ What does that even mean? And where is this Washington spending you keep referencing? And if spending cuts had led to fewer jobs, by what reasoning would more spending cuts lead to more jobs?”

  54. Ametia says:

    August 4, 2011
    Republicans Set Sights on Balanced Budget Amendment
    By JENNIFER STEINHAUER$SmB8coOtPd&om_rid=DRaeQf&pagewanted=print

    WASHINGTON — House Republicans, feeling they have scored significant fiscal victories, are moving on to an even bigger challenge: persuading voters, state legislatures and Democrats to alter the Constitution with a balanced budget amendment.

    In a meeting with his conference on Monday, Speaker John A. Boehner told members that the best thing they could do during the August recess was to sell their constituents on the idea that the amendment — which essentially stipulates that government cannot spend more than it takes in — is necessary and good.

    Republican leaders on the Hill have pivoted from railing against Democrats about tax increases to pressing for the amendment, which would require the acquiescence of two-thirds of each chamber of Congress, and three-quarters of state legislatures. They point out that such a measure passed the House in 1995, but then failed in the Senate by a single vote.

    And if Congress passes a proposed amendment, it bypasses the president, going straight to the states, where 26 legislatures are dominated by Republicans.

    Getting Democrats to agree to such a measure now is likely to be an uphill battle. President Obama has previously rejected the idea of a balanced budget amendment. And, after the nasty debt-ceiling duel with Republicans, which left the country a cat’s whisker from default, most Congressional Democrats are bruised and cranky, with little incentive to work with the other side.

    Further, of the roughly 10 bills filed by House Republicans to create such an amendment, most contain provisions, like setting a high bar for votes on future debt-ceiling increases, that few Democrats in either chamber would abide. The nation’s fiscal situation is far worse than in the 1990s, when a balanced budget would have required much less drastic cutting than what would be required today.

    Opponents argue that an amendment could hamstring the government at times that it needs to run deficits, comparing it, for example, to a situation in which families would be forbidden to get mortgages to buy homes. Most of the versions being proposed this year in the House and Senate do contain a provision that the amendment would be waived when the country is in a declared time of war.

    But for Democrats seeking to redefine themselves as careful fiscal stewards on the cusp of the 2012 campaign, the idea of a balanced budget amendment free of hard-line provisions is not an impossible sell. Several Senate Democrats have said in the past that they support such an amendment, and Senator Mark Udall of Colorado has already put forth his own measure.

    “I think it is definitely achievable,” said Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, Republican of Virginia, who has offered two balanced budget amendments, one far more conservative than the other. “I have been talking to dozens of Democrats in the House about this, and there is a tremendous amount of interest in this issue.”

    Under the agreement to lift the debt ceiling approved by Congress and signed by President Obama this week, a second, $1.5 trillion increase is contingent upon either the adoption of deficit reductions recommended by a new Congressional “super committee” or Congressional passage of a balanced budget amendment. If neither is done, large cuts to military spending and some social programs would automatically be made. Nearly every state has some form of balanced budget provision, though most are more flexible than those proposed for the federal government.

    “It is almost so institutionalized now, though there is a variance in stringency,” said Brian Sigritz, the director of state fiscal studies for the National Association of State Budget Officers.

    In the House, the two measures that have gained the most traction are Mr. Goodlatte’s, which prohibit outlays exceeding total receipts for that fiscal year, other than interest payments, unless Congress says otherwise in a three-fifths vote of each chamber.

    The more conservative version would require a two-thirds majority in the House and the Senate to raise taxes and a spending cap of 18 percent of the gross domestic product, unless two-thirds of each chamber of Congress provides for a specific increase above this amount. The measures require a three-fifths roll call vote in each chamber to increase the public debt limit.

  55. rikyrah says:

    Wisconsin Dems Attack Tea Partier For Outsourcing
    Here’s a tip for the tea party Republican attempting to win a general election: don’t let Democrats find out you employed Chinese labor to publish your books about American heroism.

    Such is the fate of Kim Simac, a tea party leader founder and Republican party choice to win the Wisconsin state Senate recall election against incumbent Democratic Sen. Jim Holperin. Simac was last seen scrubbing the web of her past writings comparing the public schools to Nazi Germany.

    Now she’s stuck having to explain away why her uber-patriotic children’s books are published in China.

    Last week, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel told the story:

    [Simac] wrote a children’s book called “American Soldier Proud and Free” in 2007. She refers to the 32-page book – in which a kid details his love of God and country in an extended poem – occasionally on the campaign trail…the self-published book indicates it was “printed in China.” The same is true of her second book, “Girls Play Hockey Too!”Simac’s campaign told the Journal-Sentinel that the publisher she used, RR Donnelley made the decision to publish the books in China, and she had no choice in the matter.

    Cue the Democratic backlash. We Are Wisconsin, a labor-backed PAC playing in the recalls with the hopes of flipping the Wisconsin Senate from Republican to Democratic control, rolled out Kathleen Marsh, a author and publisher who had her last book printed right in Simac’s hometown of Eagle River, WI.

    Marsh makes a compelling case that Simac could’ve found an American printer if she wanted, suggesting that Simac went with Chinese printing — as so many children’s book authors these days do, she told TPM — to save money.

    Simac’s books are also published by Nordskog, a California company that specializes in Christian books.

    The impact of where Simac’s books are published plays well to the progressives and labor-focused activists lined up against her. Whether or not it makes a big impact with voters remains to be seen.

  56. rikyrah says:

    August 05, 2011
    Embracing disillusionment
    My disillusionment with the world began on the day of my birth, when I failed to hear my mother’s obstetrician announce, “Congratulations, it’s a boy … Mrs. Rockefeller.” It persisted throughout my abbreviated public school career, the authorities of which permanently yet rather needlessly expelled my incorrigible shadow only a few days into my sophomore year; needlessly, I repeat, for my principal crime against the education bureaucracy was that of chronic truancy. My disillusionment carried over into my undergraduate days; rather, it was reinforced in my studies of history and political science, particularly by one professorial curmudgeon, who regularly enlightened us all by ridiculing enlightenment and praising disillusionment: e.g., he delighted in pronouncing happy laws such as those called “sunshine” to be absolute buncombe.

    From The Hill:

    [A] group of six GOP senators requested that the supercommittee meetings not take place “behind closed doors”….

    [Their] letter asks that Reid and McConnell … see that all meetings of the deficit-reduction committee “are done in a transparent manner through advanced public notification, public attendance and live television broadcasts.”

    … thus providing the illusion of openness and transparency and a bright light cast upon the otherwise dark maneuverings of professional pols.

    So you see, I no longer suffer from disillusionment. For I have learned to embrace it, as reality.

  57. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    August 05, 2011 8:00 AM

    GOP public support drops like the stock market

    By Steve Benen
    Congress wasn’t popular when Republicans shut down the government in the mid-90s. It wasn’t popular when Republicans impeached President Clinton. It wasn’t popular when the economy crashed in 2008.

    But it hasn’t been this unpopular in my lifetime.

    The debate over raising the debt ceiling, which brought the nation to the brink of default, has sent disapproval of Congress to its highest level on record and left most Americans saying that creating jobs should now take priority over cutting spending, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

    A record 82 percent of Americans now disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job — the most since The Times first began asking the question in 1977, and even more than after another political stalemate led to a shutdown of the federal government in 1995.

    The poll, conducted after the debt-ceiling agreement was signed into law, shows that the deal hasn’t gone over well with the public, and voters blame Republicans for the fiasco. Asked, “Who do you blame more for the difficulties in reaching an agreement on the debt ceiling?” a 47% plurality pointed the finger at the GOP, while 29% blamed the president and congressional Democrats.

    As has been the case in all recent polls, no one in Washington enjoys broad support right now. But it’s Republicans who are hemorrhaging public support. In fact, despite Americans’ frustrations — about everything — President Obama’s approval rating in this new poll actually inched a little higher since June, reaching 48%.

    The so-called Tea Party “movement” isn’t faring nearly as well — a 40% plurality has an unfavorable opinion of Tea Partiers, a new high, while a 43% plurality believes the “movement” has too much influence over the Republican Party, up from 27% a few months ago.

    But the results that should matter most to policymakers are right here:

    “Which of these should be the higher priority for the nation right now: cutting government spending or creating jobs?”

    Cutting spending: 29%
    Creating jobs: 62%

    It’s not just that Republicans are unpopular; and it’s not just that the mainstream believes Republicans are too focused on playing politics and too unwilling to compromise. The real issue here is that the entire Republican agenda in Washington is based on a specific goal — which happens to be the opposite of what voters want.

    If congressional GOP leaders really wanted to improve their standing and improve their chances of keeping their jobs next year, they’d call the West Wing this morning and offer to work on an expansive jobs bill.

    That won’t happen, of course, since it would betray everything Republicans believe and hold dear, but GOP leaders should nevertheless realize the course they’re on isn’t doing them any favors politically.

  58. rikyrah says:

    Obama as Chess Master: ‘Think of Him as Bobby Fischer’

    I’ve published a series of harsh assessments of the savvy and game plan that the Obama Administration brought to the debt-ceiling fight. For a change of tone, here is a reader’s argument today that such judgments are both hasty and unfair. In fact, by this view, we’re watching a master vision unfold.

    Worth considering in full. Some alternative views soon — I’ll save them for later because this is long enough as is and deserves its own space. The reader writes:

    It’s pretty clear to me that Obama is the chessmaster. Stop looking at this politically – let’s look at policy. Obama has been a master of accomplishing things, even with the Tea Party Terrorists hell bent on shutting down the government and ruining the full faith and credit of the United States.

    Look at this from liberal,conservative, and moderate perspectives.

    Liberals: Obama will end two wars, ended DADT, created the CFPA, got $20b from BP in the face of strong opposition, saved Detroit, signed New START, and enacted universal healthcare – the defining goal of the liberal movement.

    For conservatives: he finished the job successfully in two wars, sustainably entered Libya while ensuring our allies took the heavy burden, okayed two risky operations -one that killed pirates and the other killing Osama – and just did more to stabilize long term deficits than anyone since Ike.

    And for moderates: he spearheaded the most successful education initiative since WWII with Race-to-the-Top, ended too big to fail with Dodd-Frank, boosted exports with free-trade agreements, advocated and done more for infrastructure than anybody since Ike, increased technological funding, including for NASA (while it may be an ill-defined future, it’s at least sustainable now), and gave birth to the space industry – in short, strengthened the long term economic outlook for this country. His only failure is a biggie – the stimulus. It was too small, and gave to businesses who invested in capital improvements rather than employment. And frankly, it failed.

    Let’s also look at the policy critiques he faces from the left – no public option, no carbon tax or anything on climate change, no immigration reform, didn’t close Guantanomo, and the Bush tax cuts. He sacrificed the public option to pass universal health care as a whole. Think of him as Bobby Fischer – he sacrificed the queen to win the greatest game.

    As far as the carbon tax and immigration, he tried and failed. It happens sometimes – but there really wasn’t much room for him to move any further to the left after Obamacare. And let’s face it, if he had moved any further to the right, liberals would have been pissed. He tried like the Dickens on Guantanomo, but by that time the Tea Party made it seem crazy to build a mosque in NY (cause God forbid the 1st Amendment be observed), and the liberal movement didn’t exactly come out to support him on that. And then finally, the Bush tax cuts – another major piece sacrificed. And in return, he got New START, strengthened the FDA, gave health insurance to 9/11 responders, signed an important Civil Rights legislation for black farmers, and ended DADT.

    Granted, there are more critiques from the conservative side of the house, and less to be happy about. But after the latest economic crisis that conservatives have created, I have a hard time taking them seriously. And for those who say “then why should Obama have caved?” Did he really cave? He cut the long term deficit (which he’s wanted to do since sitting in the Senate), and has now put Republicans in a position where they need to come to the table or see their core values demolished. It’s either tax cuts or the end of the world’s greatest military. Does anybody really think Republicans won’t deal? Even if they don’t, it’s a pretty easy for Obama to make the case that the Republicans have been taken over by “Tea Party Terrorists,” who he tried to negotiate with in good faith. From a political and a policy standpoint, he’s pushed the Republicans so far to the right that they are called terrorists without humor by the national media.

    How has he pushed them to the right? By taking the center.

    Which is why there is a ton that moderates can be proud of him for. By putting this nation’s economy on a stronger footing for the long term than it has been since LBJ, he’s taken full control of the center – and is there anything more important in a chess game? He’s made tough decisions on popular programs, faced backlash, but all in all, invested in our long term future.

    Even if politically he’s toast because of playing the long-game economically to the detriment of the short-game, his policies will not die overnight. The republican party may take back the White House, and even gain full control of the Congress – but there is no chance they take a super-majority in the Senate. And then, what can they do? Cut NASA, or kill the private space industry? Further ruin our nation’s infrastructure? (It’s already collapsing, literally). Good luck repealing Obamacare. Good luck re-instating DADT. Good luck sending troops back to Afghanistan and Iraq. They could ruin the repaired relationships with our allies. Even the Tea Party isn’t dumb enough to sabotage our free-trade agreements.

    His policies will last, and that’s because they’ve been moderate. But that moderation also means they’ve engendered backlash on both sides. That moderation also means they’re going to be tough to get rid of. And the only thing left for him on the moderate side of the house are immigration reform, and finishing the job on education and infrastructure. Big tasks, no doubt (but tasks I also doubt anybody but Obama can accomplish). And I will not underrate his poor form on the short-term economy – that may cost him a second term, and is the most important problem facing America today.

    But overall, he’s already the most accomplished president since FDR – and in only 3 years. And like FDR, his policies will be tough to get rid of. Barack Obama may lose the presidency, but as the Tea Party moves to the right, he has taken the center for the Democrats, and makes his policies that much harder to erase.

    Stop thinking about 2012. In 2020, it’ll be obvious – Barack Obama gave Bobby Fischer a run for his money as the greatest of chessmasters.

  59. rikyrah says:

    Mudfight Update: Some Got Dirtier Than Others
    by mistermix

    The post-debt ceiling polling is brutal for Congress, Republicans and the Tea Party:

    Republicans in Congress shoulder more of the blame for the difficulties in reaching a debt-ceiling agreement than President Obama and the Democrats, the poll found.

    The Republicans compromised too little, a majority of those polled said. All told, 72 percent disapproved of the way Republicans in Congress handled the negotiations, while 66 percent disapproved of the way Democrats in Congress handled negotiations.

    The Tea Party is viewed favorably by a mere 20% of the population, with 43% saying that the Tea Party has too much influence on the Republican party. Obama’s handling of the hostage negotiation is about evenly split (47% approved, 46% disapproved).

    With a stable of candidates kissing Tea Party ass, the Republicans are positioning themselves to lose a Presidential election that would otherwise be winnable considering the wretched state of the economy. The more Obama can hang the Tea Party and Congressional obstruction around Republicans’ necks, the more likely he is to win, with the added bonus of some coattails in the House and Senate.

  60. rikyrah says:

    U.S. Payrolls Rose in July; Jobless Rate at 9.1%

    Employers added more jobs than forecast in July, the jobless rate fell and wages climbed, easing concern the U.S. economy is grinding to a halt.

    Payrolls rose by 117,000 workers after a 46,000 increase in June that was more than originally estimated, Labor Department data showed today in Washington. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey called for a July gain of 85,000. The jobless rate dropped to 9.1 percent as more Americans left the labor force, while average hourly earnings climbed 0.4 percent.

    Job gains may need to accelerate further to bolster consumer spending, which rose last quarter at the slowest pace in two years. Weaker growth puts more pressure on Federal Reserve policy makers meeting next week to try to steer the world’s largest economy away from another recession at a time when inflation is also accelerating.

    “The labor market, despite some gains, remains in a rather fragile state,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York, said before the report. Rupkey projected payrolls would increase by 130,000. “Businesses remain cautious and it will take a number of years before the unemployment rate gets back to pre-recession levels. The anxiety level is high and risks of a slowdown are everywhere.”

  61. Ametia says:

    The U.S. job market strengthened in July, a welcome piece of good news that sharply contrasted with Thursday’s sell off on Wall Street and readings pointing toward an economic slowdown.
    Employers added 117,000 jobs last month, well above the 18,000 jobs added in June, the government reported Friday.

    After a shockingly weak jobs number the previous month and a spate of other negative economic readings that followed, many economists had been bracing for the worst from Friday’s report.
    Trading in U.S. stock futures, which point to the direction stocks will take when regular trading begins at 9:30 a.m. ET, surged after the report was released.

Leave a Reply