Serendipity SOUL | Wednesday Open Thread

Happy Hump Day, Everyone!  Hope you are enjoying Tracy Chapman week.



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

59 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Wednesday Open Thread

  1. Pingback: Afternoon Open Thread - Jack & Jill Politics

  2. Ametia says:

    Things None of Us Need to Give a Shit About (Republican Presidential Nomination Edition):

    Time away from bloggery can be clarifying for one’s brain. And time away from home, out in the natural world, away from the myriad bullshit that passes for “news,” can kick you in the head. The Rude Pundit just spent the last two weeks whitewater rafting and hiking in Colorado and just relaxing by a lake in the Cascades in Washington. And, even if he wasn’t completely disconnected, he felt distanced from it all. Now, he’s been looking over the news websites and briefly watching the news networks and taking in all the coverage of the presidential campaign and he came to the conclusion: who the fuck cares?

    1. Who the fuck cares whether or not Sarah Palin is running for president? It’s over. She’s done. All it would mean is that she’s trying to suck the last drops of cash out of PalinCorp before that pipe goes dry and she and her inbred hillbilly family live out the rest of their lives as a horrible reality show before Todd commits suicide.

    2. Who the fuck cares what kind of backwards ass country shitkicker stuff Rick Perry says? He’s a dumbass hick from the barren wastelands of west Texas. Of course he’s gonna say stupid shit. It’s what he’s hardwired to do. And because we’ve fetishized dumbass hicks in this country as having some kind of wisdom, people lap it up like dogs on cat turds. No, he’s an idiot. He needs to be treated like an idiot. And anyone who supports him needs to be dunce-capped and beaten in the streets.

    3. Who the fuck cares about demented, uber-Christian, Jesus ball-licking Michele Bachmann? Just…who the fuck cares?

    The entire Republican nomination has already devolved into bullshit like who hates evolution and who wants to take health care away from old people, who loves Jesus and who really, really loves Jesus. The whole degrading affair is less an absurd circus than a version of “The Aristocrats” that ends up with all of us covered in blood and piss.

    Could we just get to the Mitt Romney nomination already?

    Note: Yes, Ron Paul exists.

  3. Ametia says:

    Steve Jobs Resigns as CEO of Apple

    Apple’s Board of Directors today announced that Steve Jobs has resigned as Chief Executive Officer, and the Board has named Tim Cook, previously Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, as the company’s new CEO. Jobs has been elected Chairman of the Board and Cook will join the Board, effective immediately.

    “Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company,” said Art Levinson, Chairman of Genentech, on behalf of Apple’s Board. “Steve has made countless contributions to Apple’s success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple’s immensely creative employees and world class executive team. In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration.”

    “The Board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO,” added Levinson. “Tim’s 13 years of service to Apple have been marked by outstanding performance, and he has demonstrated remarkable talent and sound judgment in everything he does.”

    Jobs submitted his resignation to the Board today and strongly recommended that the Board implement its succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO.

    Read more:

  4. Ametia says:

    LOL Maddow is jonesing on the many name spellings of Moammar’s last name. May I buy a vowel please?

  5. rikyrah says:

    Marco Rubio: Medicare, Social Security ‘Weakened Us As People,’ Made Us Lazy

    By Igor Volsky on Aug 24, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Potential vice president running mate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) dismissed the importance of programs like Medicare and Social Security during a speech at the Reagan Presidential Library this afternoon, arguing that the initiatives “weakened us as people”:

    These programs actually weakened us as a people. You see, almost forever, it was institutions in society that assumed the role of taking care of one another. If someone was sick in your family, you took care of them. If a neighbor met misfortune, you took care of them. You saved for your retirement and your future because you had to. We took these things upon ourselves in our communities, our families, and our homes, and our churches and our synagogues. But all that changed when the government began to assume those responsibilities. All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government’s job.

    Watch it:

    Americans may have certainly taken care of each other in the absence of formalized access to affordable health care, but that support did little to drastically ameliorate the fears and anxieties of seniors. As Ted Marmor explains in The Politics of Medicare, “The biggest fears included not being able to pay for care and risking turning to children or siblings for help, or it meant relying on the charitable attitude of the doctor or hospital. Most profoundly, it was the sense that illness or injury — bad enough themselves — could be disastrous for family finances unless you were lucky enough to have retiree coverage from a union or government plan.”

    Indeed, prior to Medicare’s enactment in 1965, “about one-half of America’s seniors did not have hospital insurance,” “more than one in four elderly were estimated to go without medical care due to cost concerns,” and one in three seniors were living in poverty. Today, nearly all seniors have access to affordable health care and only about 14 percent of seniors are below the poverty line.

    • Ametia says:

      This MOFO, RIGHT CHERE…. Rubio is an anchor baby and a TOOL for the tool party. Don’t think these crackas wouldn’t turn on your Cuban ass; and they wouldn’t bat an eye, if you didn’t parrot this bullshit.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Tea Partier Tells Rep. Lujan, Life-Long American, To ‘Get Out Of Politics And Make Room For An American’

    By Travis Waldron on Aug 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    The Tea Party continues to claim that racism, ethnocentrism, and xenophobia are not driving forces in its movement, but the actions of its members continues to belie those claims. Many of the movement’s causes have targeted Latinos — advocating for harsh immigration laws, referring to them as “anchor babies” and “welfare queens,” urging followers to attack Latinos, and fighting to rewrite the 14th amendment to remove its guarantee of birthright citizenship.

    Tuesday in New Mexico, the strains of racism and ethnocentrism that exist in the Tea Party movement emerged again. As Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) prepared to tour a nonprofit organization in Farmington, he was met by a dozen Tea Party protesters, one of whom asserted that Lujan was not an American. The Farmington Daily Times reports:

    Darrel Clark of Farmington said he came for “a chance to see the elusive representative.”

    “He needs to get out of politics and make room for an American,” Clark said.

    Luján is a lifelong New Mexican. Clark later explained that he meant an “American patriot.”

    Though Clark did not elaborate on what he meant by “American patriot,” it’s not hard to understand his implication.

    Lujan, however, was born in Santa Fe, has lived in the U.S. all his life, and is the son of a public school administrator and the speaker of New Mexico’s state House of Representatives. According to the Daily Times, Lujan took the protests and their insults “in stride.” “It’s important that we get out to visit our constituency,” Luján said. “We think that’s important, and we’ll continue to do that.”

  7. rikyrah says:

    Axelrod Says ‘Pure Politics’ May Undermine Economic Stimulus

    President Barack Obama’s upcoming job stimulus plan and proposals to curb the national debt are endangered by politics, said David Axelrod, campaign strategist for the president’s re-election effort.

    The failure to reach bipartisan consensus is due to “pure politics,” Axelrod said in an interview that aired yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Republican strategists such as Karl Rove countered on other news shows that Obama’s policies are falling short and jeopardizing his chances of winning a second term.

    “The only thing that keeps us from acting on many of these things is pure politics,” Axelrod said. “The fact that we can’t agree to extend a payroll tax cut for working Americans is bewildering to me, and the only explanation is politics.”

    Obama plans to announce steps next month to stimulate the economy as U.S. unemployment measures 9.1 percent and banks including Citigroup Inc. (C) have lowered economic growth forecasts for next year.

    The economy is sputtering three years into Obama’s term in part because of tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush and the cost of two wars that began during the Republican’s administration, said Axelrod.

    Lowering the unemployment rate has eluded Obama because his efforts to stimulate growth continue to falter, said Karl Rove, the former top strategist to Bush.

    “His policies have utterly failed,” Rove said of Obama yesterday on the “Fox News Sunday” program.
    Bad Policy

    Obama’s re-election is at risk because of growing voter disenfranchisement, Ed Gillespie, a former Republican national committee chairman, said yesterday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

    “The biggest threat to his re-election is the growing sense that this president may be in over his head,” said Gillespie. “You’re starting to see that take root with voters, especially independent voters.”

    Obama “can complain about bad luck. The reality is it’s bad policy,” he said.

    The president’s job approval rating was 40 percent in a Gallup daily tracking poll taken Aug. 14-16 after earlier hitting 39 percent, the lowest since he took office. Congressional approval was at 13 percent, tying an all-time low, in a Gallup Aug. 11-14 poll.

    Still, Obama’s re-election effort raised more than $86 million in the quarter ending June 30, eclipsing the combined haul of the 2012 Republican field.

  8. rikyrah says:

    The World’s Most Powerful Couples

    Who says opposites attract? Sometimes shared career paths create lasting marriages and stronger foundations for power.

    On the Forbes list of the world’s 100 most powerful women, we rank women based on the money they control, the scope of their constituencies and their impact on the global conversation. This year, several of our leading ladies belong to prominent power pairs, and many ruling couples ascended to the tops of the same industry.

    As president and first lady of the largest economy in the world and the third-largest country by population, Barack and Michelle Obama top the list of the world’s most powerful couples. Michelle–named the globe’s eighth most powerful woman by Forbes this year—doesn’t just sit in the White House. She leads the Let’s Move campaign to tackle childhood obesity and has made official trips to Africa, India, Latin American and the U.K. Not to mention, her fashion choices alone have contributed $2.7 billion to the retail sector, according to the Harvard Business Review.

    • Ametia says:

      THIS: As president and first lady of the largest economy in the world and the third-largest country by population, Barack and Michelle Obama top the list of the worlds most powerful couples.”

      NUFF SAID…

  9. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    August 24, 2011 2:55 PM

    For now, a new GOP frontrunner

    By Steve Benen

    Facebook Twitter Digg Reddit StumbleUpon Delicious

    This afternoon, Gallup released its new national poll, showing support from the GOP presidential candidates among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Here are top four candidates:

    1. Rick Perry — 29% (up from 18% in July)
    2. Mitt Romney — 17% (down from 23%)
    3. Ron Paul — 13% (up from 10%)
    4. Michele Bachmann — 10% (down from 13%)

    All of the other candidates are below 5%. Herman Cain’s support has slipped badly from the early summer, as has Newt Gingrich’s. Jon Huntsman remains wildly popular with the D.C. media, but he’s still running a distant eighth among GOP voters nationwide, and his support is down to just 1%.

    All of the usual caveats, of course, still apply, most notably the fact that it’s still pretty early. If memory serves, at this point in 2007, Hillary Clinton had a big lead among national Democrats, and Fred Thompson looked pretty strong that summer, too. A lot can happen in five months.

    Having said that, we can draw a few conclusions about where things currently stand. For example, the GOP’s rank-and-file voters apparently didn’t much mind Rick Perry’s awkward first week as a presidential candidate. His strange antics may have generated scorn from liberal, East-coast elites like me, but Republicans liked what they saw.

    Indeed, between the Gallup poll and Perry’s lead in Iowa, it looks like Rick Perry is arguably the new GOP frontrunner, at least for now.

    It’s also worth noting that Bachmann appears to be going in the wrong direction. This isn’t terribly surprising — her shtick wears thin pretty quickly — but she benefited from positioning herself as the main far-right alternative to Romney for the Republican base and Tea Party crowd. Now, with Perry in the race, those voters don’t need her anymore.

    Not only has Bachmann slipped to fourth nationally, but even in Iowa, where she appeared to be the frontrunner after the recent Ames Straw Poll, the Minnesota congresswoman has not only slipped to third, she’s also seen her unfavorability numbers jump considerably.

    Obviously, conditions can still change, but while the Republican race looked like a three-way contest a couple of weeks ago (Perry vs. Romney vs. Bachmann), it’s now easier to imagine a two-person horse-race (Perry vs. Romney) going forward.

  10. Ametia says:

    The Teen Suicide Epidemic in Michele Bachmann’s District
    Mon Jul. 25, 2011 3:00 AM PDT

    The first was TJ. Then came Samantha, Aaron, Nick, and Kevin. Over the past two years, a total of nine teenagers have committed suicide in a Minnesota school district represented by Rep. Michele Bachmann—the latest in May—and many more students have attempted to take their lives. State public health officials have labeled the area a “suicide contagion area” because of the unusually high death rate.

    Some of the victims were gay, or perceived to be by their classmates, and many were reportedly bullied. And the anti-gay activists who are some of the congresswoman’s closest allies stand accused of blocking an effective response to the crisis and fostering a climate of intolerance that allowed bullying to flourish. Bachmann, meanwhile, has been uncharacteristically silent on the tragic deaths that have roiled her district—including the high school that she attended.

    Bachmann, who began her political career as an education activist, has described gay rights as an “earthquake issue,” and she and her allies have made public schools the front lines of their fight against the “homosexual agenda.” They have opposed efforts in the state to promote tolerance for gays and lesbians in the classroom, seeing such initiatives as a way of allowing gays to recruit impressionable youths into an unhealthy and un-Christian lifestyle.

    • rikyrah says:

      saw a segment on this, and it broke my heart, when they had a parent on whose child had killed themselves -she said ‘ maybe if I hadn’t of moved here, my child would still be alive’.

      broke my heart.

  11. rikyrah says:

    Straight to your heart like a hippie punch
    by Big Baby DougJ

    There are those who say that it is simplistic to assume that Perry will beat Romney because Perry pisses off liberals more than Romney does. Let’s review the events of the past few weeks: Perry accused Ben Bernanke of treason, denied that global warming was happening, spoke out in favor of creationism, and look what happened (warning: Newsmax link, via Steve M.):

    A new poll shows Texas Gov. Rick Perry with a double-digit lead nationally over the current 2012 frontrunner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

    The poll, which will be released Wednesday by Public Policy Polling (PPP), is not being detailed in advance, the New York Post reported. But PPP’s Director Tom Jensen confirmed Perry’s double-digit advantage to the Post.

    Rick perry takes lead over romneyIt will be the second poll of Republican primary voters by the Democratically-aligned polling company to show Perry with a lead nationally since the three-term Texas governor entered the contest.

    A Rasmussen Reports national poll out Aug. 16 showed Perry leading Romney by 11 points, 29 percent to 18 percent.

    Six months til Iowa, Giuliani led at this point too, blah blah blah. I don’t see how Romney survives without going native, and I don’t see how an awkward mild-mannered investment banker can go native in this environment.

  12. rikyrah says:

    Obama’s True Claim to Fame
    Aug 23, 2011 11:31 PM EDT

    Yes, the economic recovery is too slow. But events in Libya suggest that this may be a truly great foreign-policy president in the making. Michael Tomasky on what Obama’s doing right.

    Barack Obama hasn’t been much of a domestic-policy president from nearly anyone’s point of view. And it’s a little hard to picture how he might ever be seen as such—that is to say, even if he’s reelected, he’ll probably have a Republican House or Senate (or both) that will thwart him at every turn, so the best he’ll be able to say is that he presided over a slow and very difficult economic recovery, which presumably will finally happen by January 2017. But foreign policy could be a completely different story. Here one can see how he might become not just a good but a great foreign-policy president.

    Yes, of course, let’s stipulate: the war isn’t actually, you know, over. And even after it is, Libya could descend into chaos or extremism or both (although it is heartening to read that the National Transitional Council, the recognized new governing body, apparently has detailed governance plans in place). So could Egypt, and Tunisia, and so on and so on. Lots of things could, can, and undoubtedly will go wrong. Let’s also stipulate that Obama did not drape himself only in glory on Libya. The administration’s statement in June that the conflict wasn’t under the purview of the War Powers Act because bombing didn’t constitute “hostilities” was ridiculous. And many critics reasonably felt back in March that Obama was a little slow to pull the trigger on the intervention (I didn’t share that view).

    All that said, the administration has already handled a lot of these changes well (and in the face of absolutely constant know-it-all criticism). One of the best things an American administration can do when big changes are afoot somewhere in the world is stay out of the way and not act as if we can will an outcome just because we’re America. We have a group in this country that likes to will outcomes, and their track record demonstrates that that doesn’t work so well (unless you think, apropos Iraq, that eight years and more than 100,000 lives later defines “well”). Obama has been more in the mold of George H.W. Bush and his secretary of state, Jim Baker, when the Eastern bloc was throwing off Moscow’s shackles. Offer encouragement and stability, give a few speeches about freedom, but otherwise let them do their own work.

    Obama took a lot of stick for not being more forceful on Egypt in February, but he was right to be cautious—there were lots of stakeholders involved, and sorry, but the president of the United States just can’t say every sweet thing romantics would like him to say. He then, as noted, took heat for moving too slowly on Libya, but here again he was correct. The nature of the Libyan regime is not a direct national-security issue, so there absolutely had to be a specific trigger to justify acting. That trigger was Gaddafi’s threatened assault on Benghazi.

    That was completely the right thing to do. It was as textbook a fulfillment of “R2P,” or “responsibility to protect,” as one could imagine. The subsequent bombing campaign took longer than advertised, but it has apparently done the job, quickly and with far smaller loss of life (including zero U.S. deaths) than if we’d followed John McCain and Lindsey Graham’s advice and gone in with ground troops.

  13. rikyrah says:

    The Evangelicals Engaged In Spiritual Warfare

    An emerging Christian movement that seeks to take dominion over politics, business and culture in preparation for the end times and the return of Jesus, is becoming more of a presence in American politics. The leaders are considered apostles and prophets, gifted by God for this role.

    The international “apostolic and prophetic” movement has been dubbed by its leading American architect, C. Peter Wagner, as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Although the movement is larger than the network organized by Wagner — and not all members describe themselves as part of Wagner’s NAR — the so-called apostles and prophets of the movement have identifiable ideology that separates them from other evangelicals.

    Two ministries in the movement planned and orchestrated Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s recent prayer rally, where apostles and prophets from around the nation spoke or appeared onstage. The event was patterned after The Call, held at locations around the globe and led by Lou Engle, who has served in the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders of the NAR. Other NAR apostles endorsed Perry’s event, including two who lead a 50-state “prayer warrior” network. Thomas Muthee, the Kenyan pastor who anointed Sarah Palin at the Wasilla Assembly of God Church in 2005, while praying for Jesus to protect her from the spirit of witchcraft, is also part of this movement.

    On Wednesday’s Fresh Air, Rachel Tabachnick, who researches the political impact of the religious right, joins Terry Gross for a discussion about the growing movement and its influence and connections in the political world.

    Tabachnick says the movement currently works with a variety of politicians and has a presence in all 50 states. It also has very strong opinions about the direction it wants the country to take. For the past several years, she says, the NAR has run a campaign to reclaim what it calls the “seven mountains of culture” from demonic influence. The “mountains” are arts and entertainment; business; family; government; media; religion; and education.

    “They teach quite literally that these ‘mountains’ have fallen under the control of demonic influences in society,” says Tabachnick. “And therefore, they must reclaim them for God in order to bring about the kingdom of God on Earth. … The apostles teach what’s called ‘strategic level spiritual warfare’ [because they believe that the] reason why there is sin and corruption and poverty on the Earth is because the Earth is controlled by a hierarchy of demons under the authority of Satan. So they teach not just evangelizing souls one by one, as we’re accustomed to hearing about. They teach that they will go into a geographic region or a people group and conduct spiritual-warfare activities in order to remove the demons from the entire population. This is what they’re doing that’s quite fundamentally different than other evangelical groups.”

    • Ametia says:

      Waiting for the END TIMES for Perry & Bachmann…

    • We can’t minimize the danger from these people. I’ve been watching groups like this for years. They are extremists in their beliefs and they have been insinuating themselves into politics and other areas from lowest levels to highest. Just, imho, these people are not real Christians but something else entirely.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Perry Vaults Into Lead For GOP Nomination In Two National Polls

    Former Mass. Governor Mitt Romney has been the frontrunner in most national polls of the GOP primary over the last year, and the general punditry considered it his nomination to lose, at least at first. And while it’s still early, new polling released on Wednesday shows his unchallenged time at the head of the pack may be over.

    A new national Gallup poll of GOP and GOP-leaning voters show’s Romney, who had more than a quarter of the total vote in Gallup’s June numbers in the same poll, has fallen to 17 percent, while newly minted candidate Tex. Gov. Rick Perry surges to 29 percent and the lead. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) considered a top contender, falls to fourth with 10 percent, behind Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) at 13 percent. The rest of the field is in single digits.

    Public Policy Polling (D) also came out with a national poll of GOP voters on Wednesday, which showed similar results. In that survey, Perry leads with 33 percent in the field of announced candidates, followed by Romney at 20 percent and Bachmann at 16. The rest of the field in that poll were also in single digits.

    Both polls showed Perry’s favorability ratings are very high among Republican primary voters. Gallup recently published “positive intensity scores” on the GOP field (a metric that measures strong favorability against strong unfavorability), which shows Perry as the highest rated of the GOP major contenders, although less known. In the PPP poll, Perry registered a 64 percent favorablility rating against 17 unfavorable, a number that reflected another PPP poll released Tuesday of Iowa GOP voters.

    The Gallup poll included live telephone interviews conducted from August 17th to 21st with Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, and has a sampling error of four percent. The PPP national poll used 663 automated interviews conducted from August 18th to the 21st with GOP voters, and has a sampling error of 3.8 percent.

  15. rikyrah says:

    August 24, 2011 12:35 PM

    On executions, Perry has no rival

    By Steve Benen

    For those voters who consider support for the death penalty their top issue, the presidential race isn’t even a contest. When it comes to U.S. officials killing U.S. citizens, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is in a league of his own.

    In his nearly 11 years as chief executive, Perry, now running for the GOP presidential nomination, has overseen more executions than any governor in modern history: 234 and counting. That’s more than the combined total in next two states — Oklahoma and Virginia — since the death penalty was restored 35 years ago.

    The number is partly explained by sheer longevity at the helm of a huge state that has mastered the complicated legal maze of carrying out capital punishment.

    But Perry has hardly shrunk from the task…. He vetoed a bill that would have spared the mentally retarded and sharply criticized a Supreme Court ruling that juveniles were not eligible for death.

    It’s hard to say how this will perceived by voters or whether it will matter at all in an electoral context, but when it comes to Perry’s record, one execution in particular is likely to stand out.

    In 2004, there’s reason to believe Texas may have executed an innocent man when it put Cameron Todd Willingham to death. When Willingham was convicted, prosecutors relied heavily on an “expert” who testified on the origins of a fire that killed Willingham’s daughters, and said Willingham was responsible. The problem, we now know, is that the “expert” apparently didn’t know what he was talking about.

    But that’s only part of the story. As those familiar with the Willingham story likely remember, the Texas Forensic Science Commission, created to consider the competence of those who offer forensic testimony, hired an actual arson expert, to consider the evidence and report on his findings. He was scheduled to discuss what he found in early October 2009.

    Rick Perry, who was governor when the state killed Willingham, was apparently afraid of what the truth might show. In the 11th hour, the governor started firing members of the Forensic Science Commission, ensuring that the panel couldn’t hold a meeting to discuss the case.

    Even for Perry, this was brazen. He was so panicky that the facts would show Texas killed an innocent man, he went to ridiculous lengths to prevent the truth from coming out. Nearly two years later, the facts still haven’t been presented.

    As this relates to the governor’s presidential campaign, the next question is whether voters will care. During last year’s GOP gubernatorial primary, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) thought Perry might be vulnerable on this point. Her campaign posed the issue to a Texas focus group, which included one Republican who said, “It takes balls to execute an innocent man.”

    Whether voters elsewhere consider the issue the same way remains to be seen.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Study: White Scientists More Likely To Receive Grants Than Black Scientists

    | Black scientists are about one-third less likely to receive a National Institutes of Health grant than white scientists, a new study finds. “For every 100 applications submitted by white scientists, 29 were awarded grants. For every 100 applications from black scientists, 16 were financed.” The New York Times adds that “members of other races and ethnic groups, including Hispanics, do not appear to run into the same difficulties. Asians were somewhat less successful, but the gap disappeared when foreign-born scientists — who may have difficulty with English in writing successful grants — were excluded.”

  17. rikyrah says:

    Town Hall Crowd Jeers Rep. Chabot For Voting To Strip Planned Parenthood Funding
    By Scott Keyes on Aug 24, 2011 at 9:08 am

    ThinkProgress filed this report from a town hall in Cincinnati, OH.

    During a town hall meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio yesterday, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) faced stiff resistance from constituents over his opposition to federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

    After a citizen asked the congressman why he stood “against funding Planned Parenthood when public funds are not used for abortion,” Chabot argued that the money was fungible so he opposed funding because “they are the largest abortion provider in the United States.” This response brought loud jeers and shouts of “no!” from the audience. When Chabot later accused Planned Parenthood of using federal funds for abortion, one constituent asked, “Do you have any proof of that happening?” Chabot declined to respond.

    MODERATOR: Why do you stand against funding Planned Parenthood when public funds are not used for abortion and Planned Parenthood is so important to poor women’s health care?

    CHABOT: Relative to Planned Parenthood, they are the largest abortion provider in the United States.

    AUDIENCE: No! No! No!

    CHABOT: Well, they are. […] But the folks in Congress, like myself, who happen to be pro-life, aren’t satisfied because we know money is fungible and you can take out of one pot and use it, you don’t have to provide the same costs out of that particular pot.

    CONSTITUENT: Do you have any proof of that happening?

    CHABOT: [Silence] Next question.

    Watch it:

    By Chabot’s logic, Congress ought to strip federal funding for any religious organizations that receive federal funds to finance their charitable and social work because “money is fungible.” Yet it’s difficult to imagine Republicans will use the same standard to target groups like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops any time soon.

    Still, the questioner makes an important point that ought not be missed in the discussion: Planned Parenthood is vitally important to women’s health care, especially poor women. Despite Sen. Jon Kyl’s (R-AZ) assertion that abortion is “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does,” in fact, it accounts for just 3 percent of their services. The other 97 percent includes such procedures as breast cancer exams, STI testing, and cervical cancer screening.

    Yet if Chabot and Republicans in Congress had their way, Planned Parenthood would lose $330 million in federal funding that would otherwise be used to provide critical medical services to women across the country.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Jeb Bush warns 2012ers on hitting Obama

    By DAN HIRSCHHORN | 8/23/11 5:36 PM EDT
    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush warned the Republican presidential hopefuls against ideological intransigence and knee-jerk opposition to President Barack Obama on Tuesday, saying they risk turning off middle-of-the-road voters.

    Asked by Fox News host Neil Cavuto if some Republicans go too far in their criticism of Obama, Bush said flatly, “I do. I think when you start ascribing bad motives to the guy, that’s wrong. It turns off people who want solutions.

    It’s fine to criticize him, that’s politics,” said Bush, the younger brother of former President George W. Bush, who again reiterated that he won’t run for president himself. “But just to stop there isn’t enough. You have to win with ideas, you have to win with policies. … He’s made a situation that was bad worse. He’s deserving of criticism for that. He’s not deserving of criticism for the common cold on up.”

    “If you’re a conservative, you have to persuade. You can’t just be against the president,” he added.

    Breaking with the GOP field, Bush said he’d be willing to accept new revenues as part of a deficit-reduction package.

    “I think the problems are so severe in this country that leadership is required to find common ground and solutions,” he said.

    But he pushed back against billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s suggestion that taxes be raised on the rich.

    Read more:

  19. rikyrah says:

    August 24, 2011 1:15 PM

    New York GOPer wants to limit 9/11 health bill

    By Steve Benen

    With Anthony Weiner having resigned, there’s a congressional special election coming up in New York’s 9th district. Democrats were feeling pretty comfortable about the contest until a Siena poll showed Democrat David Weprin leading Republican Bob Turner by just six points, 48% to 42%.

    We’ll know soon enough whether the race is as close as advertised, but with just three weeks to go before the election, we’re getting a good look at the guy Republicans nominated.

    A couple of weeks ago, Turner began running ugly attack ads, targeting Weprin for supporting Muslim Americans’ rights to build a community center in lower Manhattan. This week, Turner inexplicably is going after the Zadroga law.

    The GOP hopeful running for ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat says the $4.3 billion Zadroga 9/11 health law is too broad — and shouldn’t cover volunteers sickened at Ground Zero. […]

    Some $1.5 billion of the Zadroga package is set aside to monitor the health of rescue and cleanup crews. It also bankrolls the treatment for Ground Zero workers, volunteers and residents who became ill from breathing in twin tower toxins.

    The remaining $2.78 billion is set aside to compensate the families of those killed and the injured, including responders and volunteers – and nearby residents and office workers in an area south of Chambers St.

    “I think it is a little too broad,” Turner said.

    Turner said he supports the law, but just belives Democrats went too far in providing assistance to those who got sick at Ground Zero.

    Who should be left out? In Turner’s mind, volunteers who showed up to help, and are now feeling ill effects, shouldn’t be covered by the Zadroga measure.

    I’m not a New Yorker, but I’m hard pressed to imagine this is going to win Turner a lot of votes.

    John Feal, a former construction supervisor who was seriously injured at Ground Zero, told the New York Daily News, “That day [9/11], and for months after, there were no uniforms. Volunteers worked next to rescue crews for weeks…. For Bob Turner to turn his back on those New Yorkers, but use images of the burning towers in campaign ads — a circus monkey can out-politic Bob Turner, he’s an embarrassment to the Republican Party.”

    Election Day is Sept. 13.

  20. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    August 24, 2011 1:55 PM

    Perry equates homosexuality with alcoholism

    By Steve Benen

    The book Rick Perry wrote less than a year ago has proven to be a valuable source of information about the governor’s worldview, but as Time’s Mark Benjamin notes today, “Fed Up!” wasn’t Perry’s first work as a published author.

    [I]n a little-noticed passage in his first book, “On My Honor,” an encomium on the Boy Scouts published in 2008, Perry also drew a parallel between homosexuality and alcoholism. “Even if an alcoholic is powerless over alcohol once it enters his body, he still makes a choice to drink,” he wrote. “And, even if someone is attracted to a person of the same sex, he or she still makes a choice to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same gender.”

    In “On My Honor,” Perry also punted on the exact origins of homosexuality. He wrote that he is “no expert on the ‘nature versus nurture’ debate,” but that gays should simply choose abstinence. Perry’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether he maintains this view.

    Drawing a parallel between homosexuality and alcoholism is offensive enough, but I’m especially impressed by Perry’s assertion that gays should choose abstinence. In other words, as far as this Republican presidential candidate is concerned, gay people just shouldn’t have sex — ever. They should simply “make a choice” not to “engage in sexual activity.”

    If, on the Crazy-O-Meter, Michele Bachmann calling homosexuality “part of Satan” registers as a 10, Perry’s published argument has to be at least a 9.5.

    Greg Sargent asked, “[S]eriously: Does the Rick Perry campaign have any strategy at all to deal with the fact that a whole host of extreme views that almost certainly render him unelectable in a general election are right there in black and white, right under his own byline?”

    I really doubt it. Team Perry has tried to argue that Perry’s published sentiments are “not meant to reflect the governor’s current views,” but given that both books were published quite recently — one in 2008, the other in 2010 — the campaign may need a more persuasive line. I haven’t a clue what that line might be.

  21. rikyrah says:

    August 24, 2011 9:20 AM

    Boehner touts economic survey that rejects GOP line

    By Steve Benen

    House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office seemed awfully excited this week about a report from the National Association of Business Economists. Boehner’s press release proclaimed:

    A majority of economists surveyed believe spending cuts are the key to reducing the federal deficit — not job-crushing tax hikes. […]

    The report … reflects the sentiment of the American people who oppose tax hikes “in a big way,” according to US News. Republicans are listening.

    I can’t say whether Republicans are listening, but they certainly don’t appear to be reading.

    Let’s set the record straight. For one thing, arguing that the public opposes any and all tax increases is demonstrably ridiculous. For months, dozens of independent national polls have shown strong public support for tax hikes on the wealthy. Indeed, the demand for higher taxes is bipartisan and consistent. Boehner can pretend reality doesn’t exist, but it doesn’t change the facts.

    But more important is the report from the National Association of Business Economists that the Speaker’s office is so excited about. Does it show that most economists want spending cuts, “not job-crushing tax hikes”? Actually, no, it doesn’t.

    Jim Tankersley took a closer look at the NABE survey.

    A wide majority of respondents believe the federal government should reduce its budget deficit with a combination of spending cuts and, at least in small part, tax increases.

    Only 12 percent said the deficit should be reduced “only with spending cuts.” […]

    So, in total, nearly 88 percent of working business economists disagreed with the House GOP mantra that, as Boehner’s office put it in Monday’s press release, “spending cuts are the key to reducing the federal deficit – not job-crushing tax hikes.”

    Most Americans want a balanced approach to debt reduction, which would include revenue and cuts, and most economists agree. Boehner’s office, in print, argued the exact opposite.

    Either the Speaker’s office is touting a survey it didn’t read, or Boehner’s aides are deliberately trying to deceive reporters and the public. I’m leaning towards the latter — the NABE announcement said in the headline that economists “favor a ‘balanced’ approach that mixes spending cuts with revenue increases.” Even House Republican aides would have found this hard to miss.

    Regardless, for Boehner to brag about a survey that shows economists opposed to his own tax policy is kind of hilarious.

  22. rikyrah says:

    Perry Camp: Repealing 16th Amendment And Instituting National Sales Tax Probably Ain’t Gonna Happen
    Brian Beutler | August 24

    Figuring out Rick Perry’s current position on the 16th Amendment and the so-called Fair Tax is the parlor game of the moment in politics. See Greg Sargent here, and CBS here. His campaign released a recent statement suggesting that though Perry backs the “Fair Tax” option in his book, altering the Constitution and implementing an actual national consumption tax is probably too heavy a lift.

    “The 16th Amendment instituting a federal income tax starting at one percent has exploded into onerous, complex and confusing tax rates and rules for American workers over the last century,” reads a statement from Perry spokesman Mark Miner. “The need for job creation in the wake of the explosion of federal debt and costly entitlement programs, mean the best course of action in the near future is a simpler, flatter and broader tax system that unleashes production, creates jobs, and creates more taxpayers. We can’t undo more than 70 years of progressive taxation and worsening debt obligations overnight.”

    Emphasis added. This brings Perry closely in line with the rest of the GOP presidential field. In his book he advocated either a flat tax — as opposed to a flatter tax code — or the 16th-repeal/Fair Tax option.

    When reporting this story, I asked Miner whether Perry had a preference between the two based either on the substantive merits, or the political feasibility of the proposals. His statement doesn’t answer the question explicitly, but the implication is clear: Perry wants to do what he can for now, save the truly dramatic stuff for later.

    This reflects a common tension between ideology and governing, but it’s worth pointing out that Perry hasn’t abandoned his quest for the holy grail — much like a liberal who would prefer single payer health care to ObamaCare, but will accept the latter for the time being.

  23. rikyrah says:

    NYPD, a Domestic CIA
    by BooMan
    Wed Aug 24th, 2011 at 10:56:49 AM EST

    The Associated Press has done some real shoe-leather reporting in the NYPD’s Intelligence Division. It’s a very long article that raises a great many questions. Some of the issues don’t concern me very much. I don’t think the counterterrorism cooperation with the CIA has crossed any meaningful lines, for example, although someone probably ought to codify the payroll issues. I also have no problem with an aggressive program of informant recruitment. I am a little more concerned about jurisdictional issues, but that gets into a broader issue I’ll get to in a moment.
    The most obvious problem is the NYPD’s use of mosque-crawlers. It sounds like they have infiltrated every mosque within 100 miles of New York City, and they don’t wait for evidence of a threat. This goes beyond what the FBI feels is legal, and the FBI will not accept leads developed from the NYPD’s mosque-crawlers. The NYPD also uses crawlers in cafes and coffee shops, which strikes me as questionable, but not quite as stark as indiscriminately interfering with Muslims’ First Amendment right to practice their religion.

    The second most obvious problem is that no one wants to know what the NYPD is doing. The City Council has never held hearings. Congress gives them a free hand. It appears to me that there is a silent consensus among elected officials that they want the NYPD to do whatever it takes to keep New York City safe, and they do not want the responsibility of holding them to some legal or constitutional standard.

    According the the AP’s reporting, the NYPD brought a senior CIA official in to run their Intelligence Division in early 2002, and he set the department up to work like the CIA.

    David Cohen arrived at the New York Police Department in January 2002, just weeks after the last fires had been extinguished at the debris field that had been the twin towers. A retired 35-year veteran of the CIA, Cohen became the police department’s first civilian intelligence chief.
    Cohen had an exceptional career at the CIA, rising to lead both the agency’s analytical and operational divisions. He also was an extraordinarily divisive figure, a man whose sharp tongue and supreme confidence in his own abilities gave him a reputation as arrogant. Cohen’s tenure as head of CIA operations, the nation’s top spy, was so contentious that in 1997, The New York Times editorial page took the unusual step of calling for his ouster.

    He had no police experience. He had never defended a city from an attack. But New York wasn’t looking for a cop.

    “Post-9/11, we needed someone in there who knew how to really gather intelligence,” said John Cutter, a retired NYPD official who served as one of Cohen’s top uniformed officers.

    At the time, the intelligence division was best known for driving dignitaries around the city. Cohen envisioned a unit that would analyze intelligence, run undercover operations and cultivate a network of informants. In short, he wanted New York to have its own version of the CIA…

    “It’s like starting the CIA over in the post-9/11 world,” Cohen said in “Protecting the City,” a laudatory 2009 book about the NYPD. “What would you do if you could begin it all over again? Hah. This is what you would do.”

    This is rather obviously problematic. If we wanted CIA-style tactics used on our own citizens, we wouldn’t ban the CIA from operating domestically. If we wanted the FBI to behave this way, we wouldn’t have the rules and regulations for how FBI operates.

    I hope this article isn’t forgotten by the time Congress gets back from its recess. What I think is needed is a real reassessment of how we want to handle domestic security for New York, and for the whole country, too. There are too many blurry lines right now. The NYPD is probably far more capable than the FBI in doing domestic security within the city because of their diverse and indigenous workforce. But maybe the NYPD Intelligence Division’s expertise should be folded into the FBI. The CIA’s role should be defined, too. And Congress needs to provide more specific guidance about what is and is not permissible surveillance.

    Protecting New York City is a daunting challenge, and I think we all want to be aggressive. But we can’t have the NYPD running rogue operations with no oversight whatsoever. If it wasn’t a problem, the AP wouldn’t have had so much cooperation in their reporting. After the trauma of 9/11, it’s understandable that the country went a little insane for a while and the people responsible for protecting us went overboard. I think that the 10-year anniversary is a good time to begin cleaning things up organizationally and constitutionally. The Intelligence Committees in Congress should get to work in September on a solution to this mess.

  24. rikyrah says:

    Why The Race Needs Rick

    by Zoë Pollock

    John Heilemann spots an upside to Perry’s entry:

    What was needed … was a clear contest between the Establishment and tea-vangelical wings of the party. … What [Perry] brings to the race is a welcome clarity, and the prospect of a kind of challenge to Romney that has been lacking until now. How Romney handles that challenge will tell us all we need to know about him. And how the Republican electorate ultimately judges them will tell us everything we need to know about the party.

    And, on cue, Perry surges ahead in Iowa. Alex Roarty and Beth Reinhard shed light on Romney’s hands-off approach:

    Directly engaging Perry would turn the campaign into a two-candidate race at the expense of Rep. Michele Bachmann. Right now, the Minnesota lawmaker is positioned to take many social conservative and evangelical votes away from Perry. … If Bachmann fades, however, it would force Romney’s campaign to directly engage Perry on substantive policy differences, and there aren’t many clear lines of attack that would appeal to conservatives. Raising questions about the high percentage of Texans without health insurance, for instance, won’t resonate in a Republican primary.

  25. Ametia says:

    Dozens of foreign journalists trapped in one of Tripoli’s most glittering hotels for five days walked free Wednesday, ending what some were beginning to fear was a hostage situation.
    CNN Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance called the experience a “nightmare” and “very frightening” after he got out.
    He said the journalists had been held “by crazy gunmen” waving Gadhafi flags and brandishing automatic weapons.
    Meanwhile, embattled pro-Moammar Gadhafi forces toughed it out on Wednesday, striking back at Libyan rebels in several volatile pockets across Tripoli. Gadhafi’s whereabouts remain unknown

  26. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    August 24, 2011 10:45 AM

    How best to ‘pull us out of this hole’

    By Steve Benen

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said this week that when it comes to the economy and the experts, “Republicans are listening.” If that’s true, Republicans are hearing lots of suggestions about boosting the economy with additional stimulus.

    Take Republican Bill Gross and Democrat Mohamed El-Erian, the chief investment officers of the giant bond fund Pimco, for example. Both support long-term debt reduction, including entitlement curbs, but both also believe “the government needs to arrest America’s dangerous economic slide.”

    In fact, their prescriptions are more aggressive than any the White House has proposed or appears to be contemplating for President Obama’s planned speech in September. Among them: direct federal hiring to reduce unemployment and increase lagging demand.

    Mr. Gross, a billionaire acclaimed for his early warnings that the dot-com and subprime mortgage bubbles would burst, said, “Capitalism in its raw form can’t pull us out of this hole.”

    If it feels like this sentiment keeps coming up, that’s because it does. Economists and the financial industry want policymakers to boost the economy. Wells Fargo lowered its growth projections last week, and said conditions will get worse “without policy intervention.” The conservative Financial Times argued this week, “In broad terms, the needed elements are plain: further short-term stimulus combined with credible longer-term fiscal restraint.”

    The pushback against the Republican austerity agenda is arguably even more intense. Jamison Foser explained this week

    J.P. Morgan says “fiscal tightening” will worsen the “negative feedback loop” hindering economic growth. Greg Ip notes, “A shift toward fiscal and monetary austerity in the United States in 1937 helped prolong the depression. Fiscal tightening helped push Japan back into recession in 1997.” Jared Bernstein argues for more stimulus. Larry Summers, too. Bruce Bartlett, a policy advisor to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp, writes, “the important thing is for policy makers to stop obsessing about debt and focus instead on raising aggregate demand.”

    And this doesn’t even include warnings from the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office that aggressive spending cuts would weaken an already fragile economy.

    It’s against this backdrop that House Republicans believe “every economist” agrees the GOP is on the right track.

    “Republicans are listening”? Listening to whom, exactly?

  27. rikyrah says:

    August 24, 2011 11:25 AM

    When schools are forced to rely on sheep

    By Steve Benen

    Facebook Twitter Digg Reddit StumbleUpon Delicious

    ThinkProgress flags an odd story out of Pennsylvania, where Republican officials have already slashed education funding. In one area, cash-strapped schools are now using sheep, instead of lawnmowers, for lawn care.

    Rather than spend money on cutting grass, the Carlisle School District has brought in 7 Romney sheep to tend the fields. “They’ve done a good job so far,” says Superintendent John Friend.

    The sheep come free of charge, since they belong to the principal of the middle school. Friend estimates that they will save the district about $15,000 this year in mowing costs.

    You know, nothing says “21st century global superpower” like schools turning to sheep because they can’t afford lawnmowers.

    I often think about a story President Obama told a while back, after he returned from a trip to East Asia. He shared an anecdote about a luncheon he attended with the president of South Korea.

    I was interested in education policy — they’ve grown enormously over the last 40 years. And I asked him, what are the biggest challenges in your education policy? He said, ‘The biggest challenge that I have is that my parents are too demanding.’ He said, ‘Even if somebody is dirt poor, they are insisting that their kids are getting the best education.’ He said, ‘I’ve had to import thousands of foreign teachers because they’re all insisting that Korean children have to learn English in elementary school.’ That was the biggest education challenge that he had, was an insistence, a demand from parents for excellence in the schools.

    “And the same thing was true when I went to China. I was talking to the mayor of Shanghai, and I asked him about how he was doing recruiting teachers, given that they’ve got 25 million people in this one city. He said, ‘We don’t have problems recruiting teachers because teaching is so revered and the pay scales for teachers are actually comparable to doctors and other professions. ‘

    “That gives you a sense of what’s happening around the world. There is a hunger for knowledge, an insistence on excellence, a reverence for science and math and technology and learning. That used to be what we were about.”

    And here in the U.S. of A., Republican officials are slashing education funding and schools are turning to sheep.

    Winning the future? Not so much.

  28. rikyrah says:

    Couldn’t Happen to A More Deserving Vampire Squid
    by Anne Laurie

    Per commentor Argive, the Guardian reports that “Goldman Sachs [is] braced for legal battles over financial crisis“:

    Goldman Sachs, the embattled investment bank, will face an array of legal claims focusing on its conduct during the financial crisis, one of Wall Street’s most feared lawyers warned last night.

    The prediction of an escalation in cases is being made by Jake Zamansky, the US attorney nicknamed “Jaws” who spearheaded the successful pursuit of the investment banks after the dotcom crash. It follows a move by Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, to hire Reid Weingarten, one of America’s top criminal defence lawyers, to help him address claims that the bank misled clients in the run-up to the financial crisis and, afterwards, Congress.

    “I consider this to be a very significant event. For Lloyd Blankfein to be hiring a top criminal lawyer indicates that there may be allegations of wrongdoing forthcoming from the Department of Justice [DoJ],” Zamansky said. “Investors are asking why there have been no criminal cases against Goldman Sachs or any investment bank arising from the financial crisis. This may be a sign of more cases to come. It may be the beginning of a series of cases against Wall Street firms”. […]

    Shares in Goldman fell in late trading on Monday after Weingarten’s appointment emerged – shedding 4.7% to $104.25, their lowest level since April 2009.They had dropped again on Tuesday.

    Blankfein turned to the high profile lawyer after the DoJ began investigating the way Goldman sold subprime mortgages – the toxic investments that triggered the credit crunch. The banker has also been accused of misleading a Senate committee – a claim that is emphatically denied by Goldman. Blankfein has not been charged with any offence. Goldman itself was charged in April 2010 with defrauding investors of more than $1bn (£606m), and later paid a $550m fine. In June, the bank was served with a subpoena by the Manhattan prosecutor…

    NYMag takes the blog equivalent of a victory lap:

    “Nervous? What would I be nervous about?” Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein echoed in June, when we asked him if he was worried about the possibility that his firm might face criminal charges for its mortgage-backed securities activities. “I’m not worried that there’s any criminal activity,” said Blankfein. Nor was he concerned that he, personally, would be sent to “pound me in the ass prison,” as a source of Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi colorfully put it. “Do I think I’m going to be convicted of a crime? No,” he continued, a bit crossly. “I don’t think anyone really thinks I missold CDOs in mortgage desk and picked up the phone and called people and did that, so.” But it was such an odd time, we said to him. People were so angry. Wasn’t he worried about being made an example of?

    “No,” he said again. “If I were that cynical about America, then I’d feel nervous,” he continued. “Do you think that could happen? You think you could be innocent and victimized for nothing? Well that’s a sad statement. You should check yourself, then.” (Yes, he said “check yourself.” Remember, Blankfein is one with the pop culture.)

    But as it turns out, at the time of our interview Blankfein may have already retained criminal-defense attorney Reid Weingarten, after the Senate referred Carl Levin’s report on the financial crisis to the Justice Department. When the news broke on Monday evening that Blankfein had hired Weingarten, who previously defended the embattled executives of WorldCom, Tyco, and Enron, Goldman shares plunged more than 5 percent….

  29. rikyrah says:

    August 24, 2011 8:40 AM

    The GOP demand for higher middle-class taxes

    By Steve Benen

    President Obama has been increasingly vocal in recent months about his support for an extension of the payroll tax break approved late last year, hoping that it would help boost economic demand. Congressional Republicans have also been increasingly vocal about their opposition — in effect, the GOP is pushing for a middle-class tax increase to kick in early next year.

    I argued the other day that Republicans are probably bluffing — they want the same cut as Obama, but will only approve it if they can trade it for something else. I was promptly told by a variety of people that I’m wrong, and that the GOP is genuinely hostile to any tax breaks that don’t benefit the wealthy almost exclusively. I’m beginning to think those who called me out on this have a compelling point.

    Harold Meyerson has a good take today on the larger context.

    America’s presumably anti-tax party wants to raise your taxes. Come January, the Republicans plan to raise the taxes of anyone who earns $50,000 a year by $1,000, and anyone who makes $100,000 by $2,000.

    Their tax hike doesn’t apply to income from investments. It doesn’t apply to any wage income in excess of $106,800 a year. It’s the payroll tax that they want to raise — to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent of your paycheck, a level established for one year in December’s budget deal at Democrats’ insistence. Unlike the capital gains tax, or the low tax rates for the rich included in the Bush tax cuts, or the carried interest tax for hedge fund operators (which is just 15 percent), the payroll tax chiefly hits the middle class and the working poor.

    And when taxes come chiefly from the middle class and the poor, all those anti-tax right-wingers have no problem raising them.

    The debate is pretty striking. The same Republicans who’ve fought tooth and nail for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, without even trying to pay for them, are balking at keeping a middle-class break in place. Indeed, the same Republicans who themselves advocated for the payroll tax break are now saying deficit reduction is more important than middle-class workers having a little more money in their paychecks.

    James Fallows added yesterday, “I had thought that Republican absolutism about taxes, while harmful to the country and out of sync with even the party’s own Reaganesque past, at least had the zealot’s virtue of consistency. Now we see that it can be set aside when it applies to poorer people, and when setting it aside would put maximum drag on the economy as a whole.”

    It’s against this backdrop that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) publishes op-eds accusing the Obama administration of having a “pro-tax agenda.” The irony is rich.

    Given all of this, Democrats are starting to look at this issue as a valuable political opportunity. In fact, Sam Stein reported yesterday that the Democratic National Committee intends to make the payroll tax cut a key issue in the coming months, intended to put Republicans on the defensive and highlight the GOP’s antipathy towards the middle class.

    If for no other reason, the political dynamic seems likely to push Republicans to cave on this, even if they oppose the policy. After all, do they really want to let Obama become the champion of middle-class tax cuts, while the GOP gets branded as the party that raised taxes on working people during a weak economy?

  30. rikyrah says:

    August 24, 2011 8:00 AM

    The politics of an earthquake

    By Steve Benen

    By the close of business yesterday, several conservative voices were pretty worked up about President Obama’s response to the mid-Atlantic earthquake yesterday. In fact, much of the right at least pretended to be outraged.

    For the record, the president was briefed on the developments during his vacation, and was available to act if needed.

    President Barack Obama was just starting a round of golf when the East Coast earthquake rattled the ground around him.

    He put the foursome on hold and, within the hour, was on the telephone and getting updates on the temblor’s aftermath from top aides, the White House said. Told there had been no major damage reported, Obama resumed one of his favorite pastimes and stayed at the public Farm Neck Golf Club for several more hours. […]

    The White House said he asked for regular earthquake reports. He also was updated on Hurricane Irene.

    So, there was an earthquake. The president was made aware of it. There was no serious damage, no casualties, nothing for emergency response teams to do, and nothing for Obama to do. He was kept apprised and went about his afternoon. I don’t know why this is supposed to be interesting.

    I realize conservatives are a creative bunch, and can manufacture outrage out of whole cloth, but even for the right, making a fuss about this is just childish. Indeed, at a certain level, it’s counter-productive — shouldn’t the right be more selective, going on the attack when Obama actually messes up, so it would have a greater impact?

    In the case of the earthquake, if there’d been an actual disaster, and Obama sat around reading a children’s book while Americans were dying, I could see conservatives getting upset. If Obama had been told a month ago that a serious disaster was poised to happen, and he told the geologists, “All right, you’ve covered your ass now” before ignoring the warnings, the right would have plenty of room for criticism.

    But this is weak tea. When pundits are reduced to wanting to see the president “pretend to do something,” you know the discourse has badly gone off the rails.

    Indeed, if we’re going to have a substantive discussion about politics, policy, and natural disasters, perhaps the better place to start would be with Republican efforts to cut funding for the U.S. Geological Survey, which monitors earthquakes, and mocking investments in studying seismic activities.

    Given the circumstances, this seems far more interesting

    • Ametia says:

      THIS: “Indeed, if we’re going to have a substantive discussion about politics, policy, and natural disasters, perhaps the better place to start would be with Republican efforts to cut funding for the U.S. Geological Survey, which monitors earthquakes, and mocking investments in studying seismic activities.”

      Everything is about power with the GOP; nothing substantive. Just jump on the pettiest of bullshit narratives to divert attention away from their ineptness.

  31. rikyrah says:

    The GOP Wants to Raise Your Taxes”
    by Anne Laurie

    Harold Meyerson, bless him, is shrill. The WaPo’s only non-Villager columnist has the perfect short-form payroll-tax summary to email your low-information-voter acquaintances and family members:

    America’s presumably anti-tax party wants to raise your taxes. Come January, the Republicans plan to raise the taxes of anyone who earns $50,000 a year by $1,000, and anyone who makes $100,000 by $2,000.

    Their tax hike doesn’t apply to income from investments. It doesn’t apply to any wage income in excess of $106,800 a year. It’s the payroll tax that they want to raise — to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent of your paycheck, a level established for one year in December’s budget deal at Democrats’ insistence. Unlike the capital gains tax, or the low tax rates for the rich included in the Bush tax cuts, or the carried interest tax for hedge fund operators (which is just 15 percent), the payroll tax chiefly hits the middle class and the working poor…

    Republicans like to complain that Democrats practice “class warfare” and “the politics of division,” as House GOP leader Eric Cantor argued on this page Monday. What the Republicans’ position on the payroll tax makes high-definitionally clear is their own class warfare on working- and middle-class Americans. Their double standard couldn’t be more obvious: Tax cuts for the wealthy are sacrosanct; tax cuts for everyone else don’t really matter. Norquist, Cantor, Ryan, Camp, the Journal editorialists and the whole Republican crew give hypocrisy a bad name.

  32. rikyrah says:

    Economists: GOP Cites Deeply Flawed CBS Report To Blame Debt On Obama

    Top Republicans couldn’t be happier with a Monday CBS News report logging the growth in the national debt under President Obama.

    The debt was $10.626 trillion on the day Mr. Obama took office. The latest calculation from Treasury shows the debt has now hit $14.639 trillion.
    It’s the most rapid increase in the debt under any U.S. president.

    The national debt increased $4.9 trillion during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush. The debt now is rising at a pace to surpass that amount during Mr. Obama’s four-year term.

    But this is politically powerful only because it’s equally analytically flawed.

    It ignores key facts about the nature of government debt. For instance the nominal size of the debt isn’t important except as compared to the concurrent size of the economy — the debt-to-GDP ratio. Additionally, if growth of debt over time is what you’re interested in, then the key question is percent-growth, not nominal growth.

    Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy Research — who tracks economic illiteracy in the media — explained these and other problems.

    “First off, if you want to be at all serious you’d be looking at debt to GDP ratios,” he told TPM. “Obviously debt to GDP did rise very rapidly [in Obama’s first years], so that probably is true.” If, however, you look at the more accurate figure — percentage point change in the debt to GDP ratio — Obama’s not doing so poorly compared to Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Bush II, all of whom presided over large percentage point increases in the country’s debt to GDP ratio.

    But the biggest problem, according to Baker, is that the report treats as a partisan issue the question of what caused the growth in debt. From CBS:

    Mr. Obama blames policies inherited from his predecessor’s administration for the soaring debt. He singles out:

    * “two wars we didn’t pay for”
    * “a prescription drug program for seniors…we didn’t pay for.”
    * “tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 that were not paid for.”

    He goes on to blame the recession, and its resulting decrease in tax revenue on businesses, for making fewer sales, and more employees being laid off. He says the recession also resulted in more government spending due to increased unemployment insurance payments, subsidies to farms and funding of infrastructure programs that were part of his stimulus program.

    “It’s acting like Obama’s sort of pulling this out of the hat,” Baker said. “That’s not an arguable point. It is the recession.” And Obama inherited the structural deficits as well. To claim that’s debatable is like saying Obama “blames” darkness on the night.

    Jim Horney, who heads up the fiscal policy shop at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, backed this up with figures (PDF). “In January 2009, under the Congressional Budget Office’s projections that assumed a continuation of then-current policies (2001 and 2003 tax cuts extended, etc.), the debt held by the public was projected to increase by more than $2.3 trillion and gross debt was projected to increase by about $2.7 trillion,” Horney told TPM.

    So, whether you look at debt held by the public or gross debt, the deficits projected under CBO’s economic forecast in January 2009 and the assumption of no change in policies in place when Obama took office account for about 2/3 of the increase in debt. And a substantial part of the increase above what CBO projected in January 2009 is due to the economic downturn being significantly worse than CBO projected in January 2009 (although CBO has estimated that the policies that were adopted after January 2009 – [the stimulus bill, etc.] – actually improved the economy relative to what would have happened without any change in policies).

    Obama more directly owns relatively small chunks — attributable largely to the stimulus, the tax deal and arguably his continuation of the wars. But the vast bulk was baked into the cake when he took office.

    On top of this, the CBS report compares Obama to George W. Bush, who inherited two very different economies and budgets. Bush inherited a surplus, and, soon after his inauguration, a recession, which he used as an excuse to enact massive, long-term tax cuts that ate into the deficit long after those recessions were over, into Obama’s term. Obama inherited a record deficit in 2009, with an economy in complete free fall.

    There are smaller problems with the report, too. Both Baker and Horney note that the more appropriate measure of debt is not the gross debt — i.e. the sum of debts government owes to both creditors and to itself — but simply the former. This is better known as debt held by the public, and it excludes debt owed to Social Security.

    “Since the President was inaugurated, debt held by the public has increased just under $3.7 trillion (note, that in this case, using debt held by the public does not dramatically change the story – but it is the right number to use),” Horney notes.

    That won’t stop partisans from trumpeting misreported bad news, but it’s always worth keeping in mind.

  33. rikyrah says:

    August 24, 2011
    It’s the demographics, stupid
    Rick Perry may be wowing the Fed-haters and science-loathers and soaring to the top of the pseudoconservative madness charts, but he’s underimpressing and flatlining elsewhere. That’s the finding, anyway, from Public Policy Polling, which shows him losing nationally to Obama by 6 points (roughly commensurate with McCain’s 2008 loss). Even more delicious: “independents view [Perry] negatively already by an almost 2:1 margin, 29/55.” Ouch.

    Against Romney, it’s a tie. Yes, yes, it’s way early and all that, but considering the 9-percent-plus unemployment rate, to find a sitting black Democratic president evenly matched with the opposition’s nominal frontrunner — a (or rather another) self-professed job-creator extraordinaire — is rather astonishing.

    What’s more, one sees beyond the GOP’s present predicaments and beholds its gloomy future:

    One big reason Obama’s doing pretty well in these match ups is the Hispanic vote. Exit polls in 2008 showed him winning it by a 36 point margin over McCain but he builds on that in all of these match ups with a 37 point advantage over Romney at 66-29, a 46 point one over Perry at 72-26…. This is a good example of what Republican strategist Mike Murphy has described as the economics vs. demographics tension for next year’s election. The economy could sink Obama but at the same time an ever growing expanding Hispanic vote that he wins by a huge margin could be enough to let him eek out a second term.

  34. rikyrah says:

    August 23, 2011
    The goddamn nerve
    Brian Hook, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and adviser to Tim Pawlenty’s campaign(!), previews the universal party line on Libya and President Obama:

    We need to hold Obama responsible for a Libya policy that not only weakened NATO but prolonged the war and the bloodshed.

    Anyone who knows anything about the history of the greatest alliance ever conceived — WWII’s Allied command — also knows it was a hornet’s nest of petty jealousies, enormous egos and persistently competing national demands, some of which may even have prolonged the war and its bloodshed; all of which Dwight D. Eisenhower somehow held together for the ultimate and greater good.

    It wasn’t perfect. Oh, and scarcely a Republican pol of that era had the goddamn nerve to publicly criticize any of it

  35. rikyrah says:

    August 23, 2011
    The secularists are being mean again
    Michael Gerson, the WaPo columnist who was President W.’s chief fiction writer, is acutely distressed to find that the new, religious, far right of the Republican Party — the Tea Party — is nothing more than the old, religious, far right of the Republican Party. He’s distressed because the immense embarrassment of those evangelical crackpots of political yesteryear had largely been swept from the public arena by the rise of the fiscally obsessed — again, the Tea Party. But alas, that rise was no ideological divergence; only a mutation. Or a ruse, if you will.

    Gerson does his speechwriting best to obfuscate (Lordy lord, how that must take him back to his creative days in the Bush White House). He scoffs: “Now the heroes of the Tea Party movement, it turns out, are also closet theocrats.” Then he scoffs some more, principally noting the fiery, ungodly, unquestionably biased findings of Newsweek’s Michelle Goldberg and Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker (the mere mention of that publication should explain all for the True Believers, on both sides).

    What Gerson neglects to reference, however, is the solid, social science research of David Campbell and Robert Putnam, published recently in the NY Times:

    Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.

    Gerson’s final scoff is at secularists, those poor intellectuals who dare to deploy only their known intellects.

    [S]ecularism shows a remarkable lack of self-consciousness. Like any ideology, this one has philosophic roots that are subject to argument. Yet secularists often assume their view is the definition of neutrality and thus deserves a privileged public place. The argument that religion is fundamentally illiberal thus provides an excuse to treat it illiberally.

    We are first rather shocked to learn that secularism is an “ideology.” But no matter, the shock doesn’t last, because the label is little more than table-table humbug. We then learn that we not only “assume [our] view is the definition of neutrality,” but that it “deserves a privileged public place.” Now that, I confess, upsets me. It upsets because here I sit, the very model of neutrality, snug in a privileged place, and I don’t even know what in hell Gerson is talking about. What a waste of privilege.

    Finally we come to what really bugs Gerson: Because we — the secular enemy — dismiss ancient mythologies as guidebooks to good governance, we are snobs and cruel elitists and insufferable asses. In short, we’re constitutional republicans, just as the U.S. Constitution advises.

    Gerson himself concedes that “religion is fundamentally illiberal.” Yet that we’re glad to suffer and suffer silently as long as religion remains fundamentally private.

    As for Gerson’s charge that secularists treat religionists “illiberally,” I would point him to law professor Paul Horwitz’s 5 August op-ed. In effect what Gerson demands is a double standard, and, writes Horwitz, it “needs to end. If religion can’t be forbidden in our public debates, even for elected officials, neither should it be immune from public criticism.”

    And public criticism, I would add, gets rough. Just ask the secularists, who since the Age of McCarthy have been vilified and denounced by quaint religionists as godless, unAmerican garbage.

  36. Ametia says:

    New Control Over Privacy on FacebookBy SOMINI SENGUPTA
    Published: August 23, 2011

    Privacy worries have bedeviled Facebook since its early days, from the introduction of the endless scroll of data known as the news feed to, most recently, the use of facial recognition technology to identify people in photographs.

    At the nub of all those worries, of course, is how much people share on Facebook, with whom and — perhaps most important — how well they understand the potential consequences.

    The company has struggled to find a balance between giving users too little control over privacy and giving them too much, for fear they won’t share much at all. Seeking a happy medium, Facebook announced changes on Tuesday that it says will help users get a grip on what they share.

    When the changes are introduced on Thursday, every time Facebook users add a picture, comment or any other content to their profile pages, they can specify who can see it: all of their so-called Facebook friends, a specific group of friends, or everyone who has access to the Internet. These will be indicated by icons that replace the current, more complicated padlock menu.

    Read on:

  37. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

  38. Ametia says:

    RECAP of EAST COAST Eathquake

    5.8 Virginia earthquake shakes East Coast, rattles residents
    By Joel Achenbach, Published: August 23

    A rare, powerful 5.8-magnitude earthquake rattled the eastern third of the United States on Tuesday afternoon, damaging older buildings, shutting down much of the nation’s capital and unnerving tens of millions of people from New England to the Carolinas.

    It was not a killer quake, nor even a particularly injurious one. But if it didn’t add up to a natural disaster, it was still a startling geological event, the strongest East Coast tremor in 67 years, and it effectively blew up the workday in Washington

  39. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everybody! 3 Chics is reposing the deets here from the blog sidebar for your perusal.

    How To Donate To 3 Chics Own SouthernGirl2′ s Fire Relief Fund
    SG2, aka SouthernGirl2 suffered a house fire on August 12, 2011, and lost everything.

    Many of you have asked how you can help. Thank you for your prayers and support!

    A benefit account has been set up as follows:

    Fayetteville Bank
    c/o Darden Family Benefit Account
    PO Box 9
    Fayetteville, TX 78940
    PH: 979-378-4261

    *Ask to speak with Megan Cooper, Account Manager

Leave a Reply