Serendipity SOUL | Sunday Open Thread

Happy Sunday, Everybody.  This week 3 Chics is featuring the music of George Michael.

George Michael (born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (Greek: Γεώργιος Κυριάκος Παναγιώτου); on 25 June 1963) is an English musician, singer-songwriter and record producer who rose to fame in the 1980s when he formed the pop duo Wham! along with his school friend Andrew Ridgeley. His first solo single, “Careless Whisper” was released when he was still in the duo and sold about six million copies worldwide.[2]

As one of the world’s best-selling music artists, Michael has sold over 100 million albums worldwide as of 2010.[3][4] His 1987 debut solo album, Faith, has sold over 25 million copies worldwide and made several records and achievements in the United States.[5] Michael has garnered seven number one singles in the UK, and eight number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked Michael the 40th most successful artist on the “The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists“.[6]

Michael has won numerous music awards throughout his 30 year career, including three Brit Awards—winning Best British Male twice, four MTV Video Music Awards, four Ivor Novello Awards, three American Music Awards, and two Grammy Awards from eight nominations.[7][8]

In 2004, Radio Academy named Michael as the most played artist on British radio between the period of 1984–2004.[9] The documentary A Different Story was released in 2005; it covered his personal life and professional career.[10] In 2006, George Michael announced his first tour in 15 years. 25 Live tour was a massive, worldwide undertaking by Michael that spanned three individual tours over the course of three years (2006, 2007, and 2008).[11]

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45 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Sunday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    August 28, 2011
    Bachmann’s bridge

    Some critics are decrying Michele Bachmann’s advocacy of a federally subsidized, $690-million four-lane bridge from Stillwater, Minn. — population 20,000 — to the unincorporated township of Houlton, Wisconsin — with, and this is no typo, “a population density of 0.00 people per sq. mile” — as hypocrisy. I must object. It’s not hypocrisy. It’s groundbreaking stupidity.

    For my money (which it is, as well as yours), the project itself is defensible, literally a mere 1/1,000th of Minnesota’s bridge construction/repair needs. Build away. Minnesota’s Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken support it, as does Wisconsin’s Senator Herb Kohl, and his Republican colleague, Ron Johnson. They, along with Michele Bachmann, are only doing their jobs: gunning for as many federal quail as a sorryass federal budget will release. Hypocrisy? Merely another word for “politics.”

    Bachmann’s timing, however, leaves much to amusement. To be scurrying from Iowa to South Carolina to Iowa to South Carolina — the four corners of real America — in a denunciation-tour of the dystopian evils of, say, new or passable bridges, courtesy federal tax dollars, is inexpressibly imbecilic. Even for Michele Bachmann.

  2. rikyrah says:

    August 27, 2011
    Continuing fallout

    The ignominious Munich debt-ceiling accord is proving relentless in its fallout. From Pew Research:

    There … has been a substantial erosion of Obama’s leadership image. Since May … the percentage viewing Obama as a strong leader has declined from 58% to 49%.

    That’s the overall picture, but neither have independents — those mushy middlers who reportedly prefer virtually any compromise over rational governance — been impressed:

    Today, more say Obama is not a strong leader than say he is (51% vs. 44%); in May, that balance was reversed (52% strong leader, 41% not strong).

    The undeniable variable in these downward shifts was of course the debt deal, or rather the White House’s steady retreats and incremental surrenders leading up to the debt deal. They took a devastating toll on the all-important intangibility of presidential image.

    We’d all like to forget the whole wretched, bloody affair; the problem is, the electorate hasn’t. The debt negotiations have left an ugly and noticeable scar.

    All of which reinforces the political thesis that in next month’s economic proposals, President Obama — in what you might call Watershed II, the sequel — should go big. He simply will not erode or erase the ill-destined numbers above by serving up a platter of weak remedies and half measures. No American electorate will ever uniformly agree on the wisdom of any set of bold economic proposals, yet a significant — and what’s better, an expanding — proportion will recognize and duly admire that inestimable quality of presidential leadership that went into it.

    Immediately to follow, naturally, would be a marketing blitzkrieg of press conferences and national touring, which just as naturally would sell nothing to do-nothing congressional Republicans. Whether Obama’s proposals are big and bold, or small and meek, they’ll go nowhere. So be it. Of that, too, voters will take note. Yet they might as well take note of presidential boldness — not presidential meekness — denied.

  3. rikyrah says:

    The NYTimes did a story on Crazy Crook Darryl Issa, and they whined that the NYTimes did him wrong.

    here is the NYTimes’ response.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 12:03 PM PDT
    Bachmann Gives Away the GOP Game on Health Care+*

    Over the past week, Republican White House hopeful Michele Bachmann unleashed a tidal wave of campaign promises aimed at washing away the American social contract. After pledging to get gas under $2 a gallon, Bachmann announced she would make the U.S. the “king daddy dog” of energy by shutting down the EPA. And while Rep. Bachmann suggested she’d reduce the minimum wage, she promised that President Bachmann “would turn things around within one economic quarter, in part by cutting corporate taxes and eliminating capital gains and inheritance taxes.”

    But Bachmann’s most telling moment was her warning that failure to repeal the 2010 health care reform law would mean conservatives couldn’t “ever again…elect as president a Republican.” With that, Michele Bachmann became just the latest Republican to admit her party isn’t afraid that health care reform will fail, but that it will succeed.

    This week, Bachmann announced “We plan to unveil a formal health care plan in the coming weeks and boasted that she was “the tip of the spear fighting against the implementation of ObamaCare in the United States Congress,” As CNN reported, Bachmann explained why at a campaign event in South Carolina (around the 1:41:00 mark in the video):

    Bachmann stressed the need to repeal President Obama’s health care reform law, or so-called Obamacare, before it “metastasizes” like a cancer and “we will not be able to get rid of it.”

    “You can’t put socialized medicine into a country and think that ever again you can elect a Republican as president – or a conservative or even a tea partier as president – and think that somehow we’re going to get back to limited government,” Bachmann said. “It won’t happen because socialized medicine is the definition of big government.”

    Put another way, Michele Bachmann isn’t really concerned about a “government takeover of health care”, “rationing”, “the doctor-patient relationship” or mythical “death panels,” but that an American public grateful for access to health care could provide Democrats with an enduring majority.

    • Ametia says:

      Yes, this crazy ass bitch and the rest of the baggers want Americans, poor, sick, angry, just so they can blame it on PBO, and regain power in the WH.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Why We’re Moving Back South
    For black Northerners, the reverse migration makes economic — and emotional — sense.

    By: Mary C. Curtis | Posted: August 23, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    Thomas Clark was one of those committed New Yorkers. “For me it was the whole urban dynamic of being in a big city, being in the financial center of the world,” said the former New York state banking official and onetime president and CEO of Carver Federal Savings Bank. Commuting into Manhattan from his White Plains, N.Y., home, the self-described “little guy from Lackawanna, N.Y.,” took advantage of every social and cultural opportunity and “exposure to so many different people.”

    Now, Clark is content with a few visits back a year. Drawn by the cost of living, quality of life and the weather, the 67-year-old Clark moved to Charlotte, N.C., when he retired in November 2008. He’s not alone. “Most of the people I’m meeting are from somewhere else,” he said.

    Clark is part of what is being called the “reverse migration” of African Americans from the North to the South, a trend that was starkly reflected in the 2010 U.S. Census data. According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, between 2000 and 2009, most of the big metro areas with the largest growth in the African-American population were in the South. “Economic progress, cultural ties and an emerging black middle class have driven greater numbers of blacks to prosperous Southern metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Raleigh,” according to analysis by William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, with losses in states such as Illinois and Michigan.

    Of course, African Americans aren’t the only ones heading south. But this trend is a definite shift in the pattern for most of the 20th century, when, from World War I to the 1970s, African Americans left the South for the North, Midwest and West in search of economic opportunity and a relief from racial violence and discrimination. The period is detailed in Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.

    It could be the story of Clark’s family. His mother was born in Abbeville, S.C., and lived in Atlanta before migrating to Lackawanna when she was a teenager. His father found work in the city’s steel mills as a crane operator, and other family members followed.

    Clark discovered Charlotte in the 1990s during visits to his mother, who had moved there. He got to know the city through her eyes, and was impressed with the medical care she received before her death in 2008.

    Like other transplants, Clark has realized that you don’t have to give up New York-style amenities. He is active in church and community, serving on the board of the Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, which this season is offering such fare as Clybourne Park, a Pulitzer Prize-winning response to Lorraine Hansberry’s Raisin in the Sun, and the set-in-a-barbershop Cuttin’ Up, from Charles Randolph-Wright, who has never lost touch with his own York, S.C., hometown, despite show-business success. Clark uses his new Southern base to explore “all the rich black history” in the region, from the Outer Banks to New Orleans.

    With Charlotte’s yearly CIAA basketball tournament, a centennial celebration of native-son artist Romare Bearden and preparations for the 2012 Democratic National Convention under way, Clark said he doesn’t have to sell the city’s attraction to friends. That’s not to ignore the economic downturn that has hit the city’s financial institutions and the unemployment rate that is still higher for African Americans in the region.

    “Racial progress has been made,” he said, though “that’s not to say the South still doesn’t have a long ways to go. But in certain respects, the South is ahead of the North.” (Charlotte and South Carolina’s capital city of Columbia are both led by African-American mayors.)

  6. rikyrah says:

    The Power of Pronouns
    Published: August 26, 2011

    When President Obama addressed the nation after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May, some conservative reactions to his rhetoric were all too predictable. On ­National Review Online, Victor Davis Hanson highlighted the 15 times that Obama used “I,” “me” or “my” in the 1,400-word speech, and asserted that “these first-person pronouns . . . reflect a now well-known Obama trait of personalizing the presidency.” A few weeks later, when Obama gave a speech at the C.I.A.’s headquarters in Langley, Va., the Drudge Report offered the headline, “I ME MINE: Obama praises C.I.A. for bin Laden raid — while saying ‘I’ 35 times.”

    This “well-known Obama trait” has come up again and again in criticisms from the right — George Will has said that Obama is “inordinately fond of the first-person singular pronoun,” while Charles Krauthammer has written of the president’s “spectacularly promiscuous use of the word ‘I.’ ”

    Regrettably, none of these pundits have bothered to look into how Obama might compare with his predecessors. But this kind of comparative word-counting is right up the alley of James W. Pennebaker, a social psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin. Toward the end of his penetrating new book, “The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us,” Pennebaker crunches the numbers on presidential press conferences since Truman and finds that “Obama has distinguished himself as the lowest I-word user of any of the modern presidents.” If anything, Obama has shown a disdain for the first-person singular during his administration.

    “Why,” Pennebaker wonders, “do very smart people think just the opposite?” He chalks it up the selective way we process information: “If we think that someone is arrogant, our brains will be searching for evidence to confirm our beliefs.” If we’re predisposed to look for clues that Obama is all about “me me me,” then every “me” he utters takes on outsize importance in our impressionistic view of his speechifying.

    But even more counterintuitively, Pennebaker argues that Obama isn’t somehow being humble or insecure in his low frequency of first-person pronouns; in fact, his language use reveals him to be quite self-­confident. Speakers displaying self-­assurance have a lower frequency of I-words, even though most people would assume the opposite. So the knock on Obama may indicate that listeners can properly discern his self-confidence (along with what Pennebaker calls his “emotional distance”) but then attribute this quality to precisely the wrong details of his speaking.

    Little wonder that Pennebaker’s “primary rule of word counting” is “Don’t trust your instincts.” Mere mortals, as opposed to infallible computers, are woefully bad at keeping track of the ebb and flow of words, especially the tiny, stealthy ones that most interest Pennebaker. Those are the “style” or “function” words, which, along with pronouns, include articles, prepositions, auxiliary verbs and conjunctions — all of the connective tissue of language. We’re reasonably good at picking up on “content words”: nouns, action verbs, adjectives and adverbs. But “function words are almost impossible to hear,” Pennebaker warns, “and your stereotypes about how they work may well be wrong.” (Quizzes at Pennebaker’s Web site allow readers to demonstrate just how wrong we usually get things.)

    The under-the-radar sneakiness of function words actually makes them uniquely suited to Pennebaker’s wide-ranging research goals, which focus on uncovering traces of our social identity and individual psyche in everyday language use. It also helps that these little words make up a vast majority of the most common words in the language, which means that Pennebaker and his colleagues can collect them in large enough numbers to support statistical analysis of a whole variety of texts, from Twitter posts to despairing poetry.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Watched Angels and Demons. While I enjoy Dan Brown’s books, I am totally convinced that his books should be HBO/Showtime mini-series.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Exploiting Dr. King’s Legacy to Serve the Small Purpose of the Elitist Professional Left

    It seems that the elitists on the Professional Left will not leave any stone unturned to take shots at President Obama, even if that stone happens to be engraved with the likeness of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prof. Cornel West, of race-baiting and anti-semitism fame, just could not stop himself from penning an op-ed in the New York Times exploiting Dr. King’s legacy to bash the President and to say that Dr. King weeps from his grave because of President Obama.

    The age of Obama has fallen tragically short of fulfilling King’s prophetic legacy. Instead of articulating a radical democratic vision and fighting for homeowners, workers and poor people in the form of mortgage relief, jobs and investment in education, infrastructure and housing, the administration gave us bailouts for banks, record profits for Wall Street and giant budget cuts on the backs of the vulnerable.

    Nice to see a so-called advocate for the poor just skip right over health care – the number one cause of bankruptcy and the least affordable for working and poor Americans. Nice to see that the President’s expansion of SCHIP to an additional 4 million poor children doesn’t even register with this elitist professor. Nice to see this advocate for the poor and the working class ignore the largest expansion of Medicaid ever through health reform. Nice to see this poor-man’s-advocate wannabe not once think of the $11 billion expansion of community health centers – where the poor disproportionately obtain health care. Nice to see Cornel West, judge of all things pro-poor and pro-working class, whistle right past health reform that will result in the largest expansion of public responsibility and the first public subsidies for those who cannot afford it on their own to obtain health insurance.

    And I suppose poor seniors – for whom the elimination of copays for preventive services under Medicare is a lifesaver, as far as Cornel West is concerned, can go suck a thumb. Poor seniors getting help from the collapsing and the eventual closure of the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit donut hole? Screw you, says Cornell West. Same for poor women who happen to have insurance, whose insurance is now required to cover birth control for free as preventive care.

    Nice, also, I guess, to see the elite, cushy rich professor ignore the $4.5 billion increase in federal funding for school lunches for children from low-income families – the first increase since 1973 – and still pretend to be an advocate for the poor with a straight face. This “poverty tour” West and Smiley took, one would think they would come across a few families whose children were getting school meals, whose parents were able to take better care of themselves through Medicare, and so forth. Apparently, the only thing their “poverty tour” accomplished was the further impoverishment of their quality of discourse.

    Just what type “radical democratic” vision should President Obama articulate? What the hell does that even mean? Dr. West doesn’t tell us. As West rams through his loud whining about how the President is not doing anything about workers and poor people and jobs and education and infrastructure, the President has done an extraordinary amount just on those fronts. Let’s lay out a few more things that we have not already seen above (all of these related to jobs):

    For workers: President Obama has extended unemployment benefits to 99 weeks to help out of work Americans have a little safety net while they look for jobs in the tough job market. The President’s Recovery Act has saved or created 3 million jobs. The rescue of the auto industry that the President did almost single-handedly saved another 1 million jobs.

    For workers and the poor: The President instituted the first reduction in the tax burden on the working poor in a long, long time in the form of the payroll tax cut. Wealthy, Ivy-league elitists like Cornel West may not realize the importance of this relief at a crucial time, but maybe he should go ask the average American family who has $3,000 extra to buy groceries for their home and shoes for their kids.

    Investments in education: President Obama signed into law the biggest expansion of Pell Grants ever, and has protected it entirely from the budget negotiations. As part of the health care reconciliation bill, President Obama cut the banks out of the process of issuing federal student loans and used that money to increase actual student loans.

    Infrastructure: Whether or not you think it was “big enough” the Recovery Act was the largest federal investment in America’s infrastructure since Eisenhower and the interstate highway system. A total of $103 billion was invested in infrastructure through the ARRA, including nearly $50 billion on transportation and $10 billion on broadband and technology infrastructure.

    Green Jobs: Not only has the Recovery Act saved jobs, it has sparked off a revolution in electric vehicle technology and thus in that industry. Combine that with the recent stunning accomplishment by the President to nearly double the nation’s fuel efficiency standards to 54.5 mpg by 2025 along with the first ever fuel efficiency standards for trucks and other commercial vehicles, these are the next industry of jobs, and President Obama is smart enough to get us ahead on this. And it’s not just me saying this: the Natural Resources Defense Council agrees.

    Housing: HAMP has not been as successful as it was intended, but it was for the lack of cooperation from the banks. And right now, the administration is trying to negotiate a legal settlement that will mandate for the banks to have to offer loan modifications to homeowners, and it’s your pals, Prof. West, that is trying to stop it by all means necessary.

    The “bailout” West so abhors for the banks – and really, no one has a reason to like the fact that it helped the same financial institutions that were responsible for the economic calamity – was not in fact there in order to help the banks, though it did. A complete collapse of the financial system – which would have been the case if we let the banks go under and which was brought on by the successive policies of deregulation of the financial industry (through both Republican and Democratic administrations prior) – would zero out the retirement savings of many more (people have their retirements invested in, you know, Wall Street), resulted in many more job losses, and relegated many more to destitution.

  9. rikyrah says:

    You do know that the latest line from the right-wing and the media is that the Government was ‘OVERPREPARED’.


    W-T-F IS THAT?

    I looked at how POTUS organized those in the government whose jobs it is to help during this time…and they did their jobs.

    yes, incredible..they did their fucking jobs, and that’s called OVERPREPARED?


    something else about Irene, POTUS and government preparedness.


    that they’d be able to use this against the President. that they could have one of those Republican right-wing Governors to criticize POTUS and make an issue of it.

    I haven’t seen it posted anywhere else, but on The Obama Diary…a very smart poster remarked that POTUS was so smart, doing a teleconference with EVERY GOVERNOR THAT COULD BE EFFECTED BY IRENE.

    WHILE he had them ON CAMERA, he asked them DIRECTLY, was there ANYTHING that they wanted that had not been done by the Federal Government?

    got those bitches ON TAPE saying, ‘ we have everything we need, Mr. President’.


    • Ametia says:

      Screw the media.

      It’s the moving the old goalpost for the black president, don’tcha know!

      LOL President Obama is showing America what it looks, smells, feels like to serve the American PEOPLE. Of course folks aren’t used to competence and intelligence, since Bush nd his minions DUMBED-DOWN Americans.

  10. rikyrah says:

    Irene VS Katrina: The Contrasting Ideologies of Obama and Bush
    August 28, 2011
    By Sarah Jones

    Over 70,000 New Yorkers are without power, 320,322 on Long Island and over 400,000 in New Jersey, but Hurricane Irene downgraded to a tropical storm and the damage was less than it could have been had her winds not dissipated substantially. But even with the luck of a weakened storm, there are still the inevitable problems of surge and flood water and the storm isn’t done with us yet.

    While some pundits are busy pontificating this morning that government officials overreacted to Hurricane Irene, in reality we can’t know what a hurricane is going to do until it’s too late to react, thus it’s necessary to prepare for the worse case scenario. Yesterday President Obama went to FEMA himself to make sure all precautions were being taken. This FEMA under Obama has gotten good marks in their reaction to various disasters. This is the kind of leadership Americans deserve in a President.

    Republicans hate of “big” government and their mismanagement of it makes this clear. Back in October of 2005, Salon wrote of FEMA under Bush:

    By contrast, its performance during Katrina is almost universally acknowledged to have been abysmally poor. At first, FEMA’s post-Katrina failure appears baffling: What happened to the once-great FEMA? But George Haddow, who served as the deputy chief of staff at FEMA under James Lee Witt, Bill Clinton’s FEMA director, thinks that FEMA’s current flaws are all too understandable — and are a direct consequence of the Bush administration’s decision to pull the federal government out of the natural disaster-relief business and turn over more power to state and local officials.

    Indeed, the White House’s new response to the political disaster prompted by Katrina — one in which officials are attempting to blame authorities in Louisiana, rather than in Washington, for the slow aid — underscores the Bush philosophy. According to Haddow, instead of working with local officials to try to minimize the impacts of an impending storm, the White House has decided its best strategy is to keep its distance from people on the ground. That way if anything goes wrong, the White House can “attack, attack, attack.”

    The failures of “states rights” and “state authority” in the case of Katrina are obvious, post-disaster. When states like Chicago offered massive help to FEMA for New Orleans in the days leading up to Katrina, they were all but ignored. FEMA under Bush was having no part in coordinating between states or upper management of a national government. The Republican laissez-faire approach doomed victims of Katrina to tragic levels. But what has been missed in the aftermath of Katrina is an honest assessment of the Republican ideology that led to the disastrous response.

    We haven’t heard Republicans denounce their approach or examine the obvious flaw in their ideology as implemented by Bush, but rather blame the local government for the national government’s failure. When that fails, they allow Americans to paint Bush as incompetent. And while Bush was incompetent, his incompetence was far too often related directly to the ideology of small government Republicans still cling to. When that doesn’t work, they accuse anyone attempting to have a discussion of the ideological implications behind Bush’s response to Katrina of playing the “blame” game.

    These are all tactics designed to stop the conversation, because while it’s unfair to hold a President responsible for natural disasters, it is not unfair to hold them responsible for their response to those disasters. And while many things went wrong in Katrina that were not under Bush’s control, our national government did fail to coordinate the response effort. This is a fact and a direct result of Republican ideology regarding “big government” as implemented under Bush.

    In reaction to the obvious failure of that ideology when it comes to national disaster, Republicans rebranded their ideology under the Tea Party. But beneath the cries for a balanced budget, we have the same old tired talking points and the same failure to follow the thread of the ideology to the root of the problem.

    Like all ideologies, the conservative ideology of fiscal conservatism has much to recommend it when implemented by sane, non-extremists. But when demagogues implement any ideology to the extreme, as we saw in Katrina, the inherent flaws in that ideology will be laid bare. And the Republican Party is once again offering no sane, balanced approaches to central government but instead, in reaction to Bush’s obvious failures, they’ve doubled down on the crazy as evidenced in their front-running candidates for their Presidential nomination in 2012.

    Natural disasters like Irene and Katrina allow us to see ideology in action. President Obama left his vacation early, flew back to DC, coordinated with FEMA and state governments to prepare in advance for what appeared to be an exceptionally threatening hurricane. His ideology is one of practical, reasonable and prompt response in an attempt to mitigate the damage and save American lives.

    Some may say that the government under Obama over-reacted, but had the hurricane not down-graded, and had he not responded as he did, where would we be then?

    Part of being responsible is preparing in advance for trouble. Good leadership involves watching over the various agencies and states from a national level, making sure they are coordinating and getting what they need to respond appropriately.

    President Obama’s ideology of pragmatism and preparedness have been proven effective time and time again. So instead of discussing his ideology or the success of said ideology, Republicans and conservatives will continue to move the goal post and turn the conversation into something that can distract people from the underlying ideological differences in Obama v Bush. In this case, one of the arguments they’re pulling out is that Obama only prepared in order to avoid being labeled a bad leader like Bush was post-Katrina. That argument is a fallacy because they don’t know why Obama made the decisions he did (they obviously haven’t read his books where he explains exactly what his beliefs about government are). And it’s further a failure because it moves the goal post from the end result of the ideology to one of motives.

    When they have nothing else, they impugn motives. Frankly, I could care less why a President does something effective that protects American lives, so long as they do it. But the truth is that Obama’s response is an inherent part of his belief system that government has a role to play in the lives of Americans; and one of its roles is to protect the citizens and implement the resources necessary to do so.

    Katrina v Irene reveals a lot about the underlying ideological differences of conservative Republicans v liberal Democrats. And while even the left often says Obama is not a liberal, in fact he is quite liberal when it comes to the essence of liberalism — and that is, the importance of a central government for the citizens.

    When Republicans smear big government, they are smearing a government that believes it has a role to play in the lives of citizens. They are smearing a government that will coordinate with FEMA and various states, and this is the truth they don’t want you to notice today. As with all ideology, a government so big that it infringes on citizens rights also has its failings. But our government was set up to avoid ideological extremism for precisely these reasons.

    Knowing their ideology was a massive failure on Wall Street and in response to Katrina — as well as in their decision to invade Iraq, Republicans are left with no choice but to continue to move the goal post and never have an honest discussion about their ideology as implemented by Bush. Their intellectual dishonesty is one reason why they can’t credit President Obama with getting Osama, his Libya response or now his response to Irene. Republicans can’t afford to have an honest discussion about ideology, so they dress up screaming Medicare recipients and put on a Big Show about not raising Americas debt ceiling without balancing the deficit.

    In reality, they also screwed up the deficit under Bush and failed to even put the two wars on the budget. The massive failures of intellectual and even ideological honesty of the modern day Republican Party mean that we the people cannot be allowed to dialogue among ourselves and discuss our differences of opinion with civility; otherwise, the Republican Party might just be busted. When you predicate your success on selling a lie, you are left with no choice but corporate funded faux grassroots movements to put on the Big Show of distraction.

    The truth is in the aftermath of Irene. The truth is in the response to crises. Americans do need a central government with the power and the desire to use that office to work with states and federal government to help the American people when disaster strikes. That is, in fact, one of the cited roles for our central government.

    What Republicans most dislike about President Obama is that he continues to make a convincing argument for liberal philosophy through his actions.

  11. rikyrah says:

    Battle for New Orleans, 6 Years After Katrina
    Political power has shifted to whites, but blacks have not given up their struggle for a voice — and justice.

    By: Jordan Flaherty | Posted: August 27, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    As this weekend’s storm has reminded us, hurricanes can be a threat to U.S. cities on the East Coast as well the Gulf. But the vast changes that have taken place in New Orleans since Katrina have had little to do with weather, and everything to do with political struggles. Six years after the federal levees failed and 80 percent of the city was flooded, New Orleans has lost 80,000 jobs and 110,000 residents. It is a whiter and wealthier city, with tourist areas well-maintained while communities like the Lower Ninth Ward remain devastated. Beyond the statistics, it is still a much-contested city.

    Politics continue to shape how the changes to New Orleans are viewed. For some, the city is a crime scene of corporate profiteering and the mass displacement of African Americans and working poor; for others it’s an example of bold public sector reforms, taken in the aftermath of a natural disaster, that have led the way for other cities.

    In the wake of Katrina, New Orleans saw the rise of a new class of citizens. They self-identify as YURPs — Young Urban Rebuilding Professionals — and they work in architecture, urban planning, education and related fields. While the city was still mostly empty, they spoke of a freedom to experiment, unfettered by the barriers of bureaucratic red tape and public comment. Working with local and national political and business leaders, they made rapid changes in the city’s education system, public housing and nonprofit sector.

    Along the way, the face of elected government changed in the city and state. Among the offices that switched from black to white were mayor, police chief, district attorney and representatives on the school board and city council, which both switched to white majorities for the first time in a generation. Louisiana also transformed from a state with several statewide elected Democrats to having only one — Sen. Mary Landrieu.

    While black community leaders have said that the displacement after the storm has robbed African Americans of their civic representation, another narrative has also taken shape. Many in the media and business elite have said that a new political class — which happens to be mostly white — is reshaping the politics of the city into a post-racial era. “Our efforts are changing old ways of thinking,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu, shortly after he was elected in 2010. After accusing his critics of being stuck in the past, Landrieu — who was the first mayor in modern memory elected with the support of a majority of both black and white voters – added, “We’re going to rediscipline ourselves in this city.”

  12. Ametia says:

    LOL Here’s a repost of another stumped chump who can’t take the heat from constituents:

  13. rikyrah says:

    N.H. GOP chair says group offers money to quit
    08/23/2011 5:17 PM

    By Shira Schoenberg, Globe Correspondent

    New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Jack Kimball said today that the Republican Governors Association agreed to donate money to the state GOP – if Kimball resigns his seat.

    The association denied the charge.

    The conservative blog GraniteGrok first reported that the RGA agreed to donate $100,000 to the New Hampshire Republican Party to help with state races, if Kimball resigns. The blog said the Republican members of the federal delegation – US Representatives Charlie Bass and Frank Guinta, and US Senator Kelly Ayotte – would give additional money to the state party.

    “The contents in that piece are accurate,” Kimball told the Globe today in an interview, after pointing the blog post out to a reporter. “It’s very sad.”

    Mike Schrimpf, spokesman for association, responded in an email, “The RGA knows the value of strong state parties and believes it is important for the New Hampshire GOP to be running at full strength in 2012. Recent news reports about the RGA’s commitment to New Hampshire are wrong.”

    Representatives of Bass, Guinta and Ayotte did not return calls.

    As the Globe reported earlier, Kimball has been under pressure from leading Republicans to step down because of lackluster fund-raising, personnel issues, and recent special election defeats.

    Kimball said he learned of the deal from the Republican Governors Association on Friday, when he met with House Speaker William O’Brien. O’Brien was tasked by the federal delegation with urging Kimball to resign, said the chairman and other Republicans.

    O’Brien, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment.

  14. rikyrah says:


    Michelle Obama on a Mission: Impact America
    Tonight, 7:30 PM EST – BET

    • Ametia says:

      Thank you. I’ve missed FLOTUS’ presence. It’s much needed against the echo chamber of the Palins and Bachmans, Perry, Romney clowns.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Right Wing Tries New Tactic To Soften Bush’s Katrina Debacle: Say Obama’s Leadership On Irene Is Just For Show

    By Brad Johnson on Aug 28, 2011 at 9:33 am

    With the threat of Hurricane Irene to millions of Americans from the Carolinas to New England, President Barack Obama has been doing the job he was hired for, overseeing and directing the coordinated response of federal, state, and local government to minimize the loss of life and property from this monstrous storm.

    On Saturday, Obama chaired a meeting at the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA’s Washington headquarters, and “convened a conference call with members of his senior emergency response team including Vice President Joe Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, among others.” He also “heard updates on Saturday from governors and emergency management officials in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.”

    Right-wing pundits lashed out at Obama, bizarrely claiming that the President of the United States is engaged in a political campaign when he commands the executive branch’s response to Hurricane Irene:

    “How to Politicize a Hurricane,” Koch Industries lawyer John Hinderaker cried, saying Obama “posed for a photo-op today, pretending to have something to do with the potentially-severe weather event.”

    Scared Monkeys: “The President left the friendly confines of “Life styles of the Rich & Famous to try and act presidential. However, it seems like more of a shameless photo-op.”

    “Fearless Leader “Takes Charge” At Hurricane Command Center…” Weasel Zippers writes. “More like a pathetic photo-op.”

    Six years after the Bush administration’s criminal failure to protect the citizens of the Gulf Coast from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, American conservatives are still reeling. One of the prime tenets of the American right — that everyday Americans don’t ever need a strong federal government — was belied by the tragedy of Katrina. Bush put FEMA under the control of an Arabian horse commissioner, Michael “Heckuva Job” Brown, eviscerating the crucial agency and demoralizing its proud public servants. Instead of responding to the warnings of National Weather Service officials or to reports of levee failures and mass suffering, Bush spent five days on photo ops like cutting a birthday cake with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and playing a guitar with country singer Mark Wills, and going to political events to promote Medicare Part D.

    Before this year’s billion-dollar climate disasters struck across the nation, Obama rebuilt the tattered Federal Emergency Management Agency into a shining example of how our government serves the Constitutional mandate to protect the public welfare in times of need. Not every president plays guitar and eats cake when the safety of Americans is threatened.

    • Ametia says:

      THIS: “Before this year’s billion-dollar climate disasters struck across the nation, Obama rebuilt the tattered Federal Emergency Management Agency into a shining example of how our government serves the Constitutional mandate to protect the public welfare in times of need. Not every president plays guitar and eats cake when the safety of Americans is threatened.



  16. rikyrah says:

    Obama as Hardheaded Liberal
    Aug 26, 2011 8:02 PM EDT
    The president was accused of neglecting alliances and ceding too much ground to allies in Libya, but this week’s successes in Tripoli prove he’s heir to Roosevelt and Truman.

    Critics of President Obama are always banging on about his commitment to America’s alliance system. Yet the success of the NATO operation in Libya is the latest evidence of the effectiveness of his alliance approach.

    It is true that during his campaign for president, Obama de-emphasized the role of alliances. He did not always draw bright lines between allies and other states. Instead he bracketed alliances with other, less intimate relationships, writing of his intention to rebuild “alliances, partnerships and institutions.” As the first president to come of age politically after the end of the Cold War, Obama did not seem to view alliances as special.

    Republican provocateur John Bolton even claimed that Obama had “a post-alliance policy.”

    However, President Obama has turned out to be much more alliance-friendly than candidate Obama. The “special relationship” with Britain has cooled somewhat, and he has reached out to new powers such as Indonesia. Yet despite the attacks of his critics, Obama’s approach to alliances sits squarely in the tradition established by his predecessors Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

    Conservative commentators have mocked Obama’s belief in the efficacy of international rules. Obama wrote in The Audacity of Hope that “nobody benefits more than we do from the observance of the international ‘rules of the road.’” Many of these rules were established by Roosevelt and Truman, who believed that a rule-based system amplified U.S. power rather than constraining it. And it was the propensity of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia to break international rules and agreements that hardened those two presidents’ determination to contain and defeat them.

    In the Middle East, Obama has been criticized for walking away from America’s long-term friend President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, a step that worried officials in countries from Saudi Arabia to Israel. In fact, Obama’s response to the Arab Spring, though initially uncertain and clumsy, came to be characterized by a blend of caution and hardheaded liberalism. He now places a lesser premium than most of his recent predecessors did on the stability provided by Middle East allies, and a greater premium on their people’s right to democracy. But some of those allies can no longer provide stability anyway.

    In the Egypt case, Obama is said to be insufficiently committed to allies. In the Libyan case, the opposite charge is leveled: that he ceded too much ground to allies, by allowing Britain, France, and other NATO allies to take the lead. Yet it would have been risky for the United States to lead another major military operation in the Middle East when it is already fighting two bloody wars nearby. It is especially galling when former officials of the Bush administration, which mismanaged the Afghanistan War, initiated the wrong-headed Iraq War, and blew out the Federal budget, refuse to acknowledge their own responsibility for the constraints that have limited America’s role in the Libya operation.

    Viewing Libya another way, Obama has revived an old American tradition—exemplified by FDR’s foreign policy in the early stages of World War II—of using European allies as proxies to wage war when the United States is unable to take the leading position.

    • Ametia says:

      Hurricane Irene coverage has taken preceedence over events in Libya. 3 Chics knows PBO has another major foreign policy achievement what has transpired this past week in Libya.

  17. rikyrah says:

    It’s been said before but GOP hates America

    by Steven D
    Sun Aug 28th, 2011 at 12:32:14 PM EST

    The Republicans in Congress really just don’t want to do anything to help our government work to solve problems for people. They;d rather kill the country than see Obama (a fairly conservative President by any measure) re-elected. Here is just one more little bit of evidence:

    WASHINGTON — Freshman Rep. Jeff Denham, a Republican from Atwater, Calif., will briefly sit in a very special chair Tuesday for a several-minute skirmish in a long-running war.

    By presiding over a ridiculously short House session, Denham is helping his fellow Republicans block President Barack Obama from making appointments while Congress is in recess. […]

    The whole maneuver won’t take long. The House wrapped up its Aug. 19 session in under seven minutes. On Aug. 16, the Congressional Record shows, the House session lasted four minutes. “It could last four minutes,” Denham’s press secretary, Allie Brandenburger, said Monday, “but those four minutes are critical for the next four years. … Rep. Denham believes we must do all we can to stop these recess appointments.”

    All this to stop Obama from making recess appointments, But didn’t other Congresses stop Presidents from making recess appointments. Not like the Republicans have:

    President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, made 139 recess appointments during his eight years in office, according to the Congressional Research Service. President George W. Bush, a Republican, made 171 recess appointments.

    Bush, for instance, used his recess appointment powers to name a member of the Federal Election Commission, a deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration and an ambassador to the United Nations.

    “This post is too important to leave vacant any longer,” Bush said in August 2005, when he named John Bolton to the U.N. post.

    In March 2010, Obama named 15 recess appointments, including a member of the National Labor Relations Board who was being blocked by Senate Republicans. Obama noted that the appointees, who included California’s former secretary of education, Alan Bersin, had been waiting an average of 214 days for their confirmation votes.

    Whatever it takes to make people suffer more and the government run worse while Obama is President, the Republicans will do. Bet on it.

    This week, Peter Diamond withdrew his nomination to serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Though he was a recent recipient of a Nobel Prize in economics, Republicans in the Senate blocked Diamond’s nomination because he was “an old-fashioned, big government Keynesian,” in the words of Senator Richard Shelby. A few weeks ago, Goodwin Liu withdrew his nomination to a federal appeals court after Republican senators refused him a vote, possibly because he testified for Democrats during the Samuel Alito confirmation hearings.

    This is part of a larger confirmation crisis in the Senate: Republicans have blocked 223 of President Obama’s 1,132 executive and judicial appointees—over 20 percent. Republican senators have enforced a strict sixty-vote threshold for most nominations, and sometimes holds are placed on nominees anyhow. This hobbles crucial federal agencies and is yet another successful prong of the Republican war against effective government.

    The times they are a changing. Check below the fold for critical appointments the Republicans are holding up:

    (1) Jim Cole is already serving in the No. 2 spot at the Department of Justice after President Obama gave him a recess appointment last year, because Senate Republicans held up his nomination. He can serve only through the end of this calendar year, however, and last month Senate majority leader Harry Reid tried once again to confirm Cole permanently. He came up eleven votes short, with every Republican except Senator Richard Lugar voting against confirmation. Cole’s sin, according to Republican senators, is that he supports all available tools for prosecuting terrorists—including federal trials.

    (2) After months of lockstep Republican opposition in the Senate, Joseph Smith withdrew his nomination to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency in January. FHFA oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Obama has not named another appointment following Smith’s withdrawal. According to the Wall Street Journal, Republicans opposed the nomination because they “feared Mr. Smith would heighten pressure on Fannie and Freddie to slash mortgage balances for troubled homeowners.”

    (3) The US Fish and Wildlife Service has no permanent director, though Obama nominated Dan Ashe to lead the bureau months ago. But Sen. David Vitter put a hold on Ashe and said he’d keep it there until the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement issued fifteen offshore oil drilling permits. (BOEMRE, like Fish and Wildlife, is overseen by the Interior Department). The fifteenth permit was issued last week and Vitter withdrew his hold—but Senator Mike Lee is going to place a hold on Ashe over the Interior Department’s “wild lands” policy, which protects unused land from energy exploration.

    (4) The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms hasn’t had a director since 2006 because the National Rifle Association has pressured senators to hold up every single nomination—even those by George W. Bush. Obama nominated Andrew Traver, a Navy veteran and longtime ATF special agent, to head the agency last year. But the NRA immediately came out against Traver because they connected him to promotion of “a variety of gun control schemes.” That might seem like natural experience for someone who hopes to lead a large federal agency charged with cracking down on illegal gun violence and trafficking, but apparently Republicans disagree—Traver’s nomination has been languishing in the Senate for months.

    (5) Obama nominated John Bryson to lead the Commerce Department last week, and Republicans are already preparing for war on his nomination. Bryson helped start the National Resources Defense Council—or if you prefer the words of Senator James Inhofe, Bryson is “the founder of a radical environmental organization.” Inhofe has pledged to “work actively to defeat his nomination.” Other Republicans say they won’t vote to confirm Bryson until the Obama administration agrees to three free-trade agreements without including labor and environmental protections.

    (6) Anybody who heads the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Senate Republicans took their obstruction to new levels last month, when forty-four senators signed a pre-emptive letter to President Obama saying they would oppose anyone that he nominated to lead the CFPB. Republicans are demanding a long list of changes that would reduce the agency’s power, including the creation of a five-member commission to run the CFPB instead of a single director. It’s a new low—Republicans aren’t just blocking the nomination of a particular person, but the existence of their intended position.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Perry’s Base or Onward Christian Warriors

    by Steven D
    Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 10:45:41 AM EST

    Ho hum, another terrorist real Christian takes the fight to peaceful Muslims who helped police uncover a suspected Christmas tree bombing plot the enemy, and the local authorities Big Guvmint charge him with the crime persecute and victimize him for firebombing a mosque doing his patriotic duty resisting the Obama led jihad against America:

    A 24-year-old Oregon man — who told police that he was a “Christian warrior” — has been charged with a hate crime for allegedly firebombing a mosque last November. Cody Crawford faces 10 to 30 years if convicted of firebombing the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center, which is about 200 feet from his house. Although his DNA has been connected to the crime scene, Crawford has maintained that he’s “100 percent innocent.”

    In an unrelated incident, Crawford had ranted to police about Muslims, according to court documents.

    “You look like Obama,” he said to a McMinnville officer in December. “You are a Muslim like him. Jihad goes both ways. Christians can jihad too.”

    The documents reveal that Crawford also told authorities that “only Christians could understand him, that he was a Christian warrior that they were persecuting.”

    I’m sure he has a defense fund to which you could contribute to save him for his persecutors. Damn shame I didn’t bother to look for it. I’d call the Perry campaign and ask them what they think of this upstanding young man. After all, it’s what Fox News does.

  19. rikyrah says:

    August 28, 2011 10:00 AM
    Reeling al Qaeda loses another top leader

    By Steve Benen

    To put it mildly, al Qaeda has been on quite a losing streak recently.

    A drone operated by the Central Intelligence Agency killed Al Qaeda’s second-ranking figure in the mountains of Pakistan on Monday, American and Pakistani officials said Saturday, further damaging a terrorism network that appears significantly weakened since the death of Osama bin Laden in May.

    An American official said that the drone strike killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who in the last year had taken over as Al Qaeda’s top operational planner. Mr. Rahman was in frequent contact with Bin Laden in the months before the terrorist leader was killed on May 2 by a Navy Seals team, intelligence officials have said.

    American officials described Mr. Rahman’s death as particularly significant as compared with other high-ranking Qaeda operatives who have been killed, because he was one of a new generation of leaders that the network hoped would assume greater control after Bin Laden’s death.

    Rahman was frequently in close contact with bin Laden, serving as the leading liaison between the terrorist leader and al Qaeda affiliates. When U.S. forces killed bin Laden, and Ayman al-Zawahri took his place, Rahman was elevated to the #2 slot.

    He didn’t quite make it four months in the position.

    A U.S. official told the New York Times, “Atiyah was at the top of Al Qaeda’s trusted core. His combination of background, experience and abilities are unique in Al Qaeda — without question, they will not be easily replaced.”

    This only serves to reinforce the perception that al Qaeda is struggling badly. Under the Obama administration, U.S. forces have now killed bin Laden, Rahman, al Qaeda financial chief Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri, and al Qaeda spiritual leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, among others.

    What’s more, the underlying point of al Qaeda’s message throughout the Middle East — that terrorism and anti-Western violence are the only means towards social progress — has been proven false by the Arab Spring and the change that’s come in Egypt and elsewhere. It also comes as al Qaeda’s fundraising efforts, thought to be thriving a half-decade ago, are reportedly struggling badly.

    And this is just al Qaeda; under the Obama administration, the counter-terrorism successes go even further. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s top military commander, was captured. High-profile terrorists have been killed — Hakimullah Mehsud, Baitullah Mehsud, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan — while many more have been arrested — Najibullah Zazi, Talib Islam, and Hosam Maher Husein Smadi.

    I’m sure Rudy Giuliani and Liz Cheney will be along any minute now to tell us how all of these developments are evidence of Obama administration weakness.

    This is not to say the larger terrorist threats against the West are gone; they’re not. But al Qaeda appears to be reeling, and the terrorist threat appears to be significantly reduced. This larger trend is clearly heartening.

  20. rikyrah says:

    BREAKING: Perry Says He Hasn’t ‘Backed Off Anything’ In His Book, Still Thinks Social Security Is Unconstitutional

    By Scott Keyes on Aug 27, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    During a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa today, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) reaffirmed all the views expressed in his book Fed Up!, including that Social Security is unconstitutional, despite previous attempts by his campaign staff to walk back the candidate’s words.

    In Perry’s book, released just nine months ago, he writes on page 48 that Social Security is “by far the best example” of a program “violently tossing aside any respect for our founding principles.” On page 50, he goes on to say that we have Social Security “at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government.”

    Last week, Communications Director Ray Sullivan tried to limit the damage from Perry’s book by saying that its contents were, as the Wall Street Journal writes, “not meant to reflect the governor’s current views on how to fix” Social Security.

    ThinkProgress asked Perry today whether, in light of his campaign’s statements, states rights supporters should be worried that his views on Social Security have shifted now that he’s running for president. Perry dismissed his Communications Director’s comments, declaring “I haven’t backed off anything in my book. Read the book again, get it right.”

    KEYES: But should states-rights supporters be worried that, as governor you said that Social Security is not something that falls in the purview of the federal government, but in your campaign, have backed off that?

    PERRY: I haven’t backed off anything in my book. Read the book again, get it right. Next question.

  21. rikyrah says:

    August 26, 2011 11:10 AM You Think Obama’s Been a Bad President? Prove It

    By Jonathan Alter

    Tell me again why Barack Obama has been such a bad president? I’m not talking here about him as a tactician and communicator. We can agree that he has played some bad poker with Congress. And let’s stipulate that at the moment he’s falling short in the intangibles of leadership.

    I’m thinking instead of that opening sequence in the show “Mission Impossible,” the one where Jim Phelps, played by Peter Graves, gets his instructions.

    Your mission, Jim (and readers named something else), should you decide to accept it, is to identify where Obama has been a poor decision-maker. What, specifically, has he done wrong on policy? What, specifically, would you have done differently to create jobs? And what can any of the current Republican candidates offer that would be an improvement on the employment front?

    I’m not interested in hearing ad hominem attacks or about your generalized “disappointment.”

    I want to know, on a substantive basis, why you think he deserves to be in a dead heat with Mitt Romney and Rick Perry and only a few points ahead of Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann in a new Gallup Poll. Is it just that any president — regardless of circumstances and party — who presides over 9 percent unemployment deserves to lose?
    Left, Right, Center

    Every day you’re pummeling him from the right, left and middle. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham even attacked the president for letting Libyan rebels take Tripoli instead of burying Muammar Qaddafi under American bombs months ago. Here we have the best possible result — the high probability of regime change for about one-thousandth of the cost of getting rid of Saddam Hussein and no bad feelings from the locals — and Obama gets savaged anyway.

    Like everyone else, I’ve got my list of Obama mistakes, from failing to break up the banks in early 2009 to neglecting to force a vote on ending the Bush tax cuts when the Democrats still controlled Congress. He shouldn’t have raised hopes with “Recovery Summer” and “Winning the Future” until the economy was more durable. I could go on.

    But do these miscalculations really mean it’s time for him to go?

    Most of the bad feeling goes back to the first year or so of the Obama presidency. And in hindsight, those decisions really weren’t so bad. To prove my point, let’s review a few areas where he supposedly messed up.
    A Few Rebuttals

    From the left: “He should have pushed for a much bigger stimulus in 2009.”

    That’s the view of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, now gospel among liberals. It’s true economically but bears no relationship to the political truth of that period. Consider that in December 2008, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a hardcore liberal Democrat, proposed a $165 billion stimulus and said he would be ecstatic if it went to $300 billion. President- elect Obama wanted to go over $1 trillion but was told by House Democrats that it absolutely wouldn’t pass. In exchange for the votes of three Republicans in the Senate he needed for passage, Obama reduced the stimulus to $787 billion, which was still almost five times Rendell’s number and the largest amount that was politically possible.

    From the right: “The stimulus and bailouts failed.”

    When Obama took office, the economy was losing about 750,000 jobs a month and heading for another Great Depression. The recession ended (at least for a while) and we now are adding several thousand jobs a month — anemic growth, but an awful lot better than the alternative. How did that happen? Luck?
    Fed, Stimulus, TARP

    All the bellyaching ignores that the Federal Reserve’s emergency policies stabilized the financial system, and that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the stimulus increased economic growth and saved or created millions of jobs. According to the Treasury Department, taxpayers will end up actually making money on the bank bailouts under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which Obama inherited from the previous administration.

    The Republican alternative for job creation wasn’t tax cuts (the stimulus contained almost $300 billion in tax cuts) but deficit reduction and rolling back regulation. I’ve yet to see a single economist convincingly argue how either would have reversed the catastrophic job losses.

    From all sides: “He took his eye off jobs by pushing health care.”

    Not really. Health care consumed enormous time and political capital in late 2009 and early 2010. But with the stimulus new and still being absorbed (with remarkably little scandal) into the American economy, it’s not as if health care distracted the president from another jobs program in that period. Sure, he should have rhetorically “pivoted to jobs” earlier, but substantively it wouldn’t have made much difference. And Republicans have offered no evidence for their claim that the Affordable Care Act (which includes tax credits for small businesses) has contributed to current levels of unemployment. How could it? The program hasn’t even fully begun yet.

    The all-purpose explanation from the business community is “uncertainty.” We’re told that people, and enterprises, won’t invest because they aren’t sure about future taxes. This is a crock. “People invest to make money,” the noted lefty socialist Warren E. Buffett recently wrote in the New York Times, “and potential taxes have never scared them off.”

    Again, from all sides: “He looked weak during the debt- limit debate.”

    Yep. And if you were president and a group of extremists was pointing a gun at the head of the American economy, what would you have done? Invoking the 14th Amendment sounded satisfying, but a constitutional crisis layered on top of a debt-limit crisis would have been a fiasco, and probably would have ensured default as world markets spent months wondering who in the U.S. had the authority to pay our bills.
    Be Specific

    Elections involving incumbents are inevitably hire/fire decisions. With foreign policy mostly off the table, hiring a Republican means buying his or her jobs plan. Firing Obama means rejecting where he has come down on big decisions. He and Romney will unveil their jobs plans in September. In the meantime, I’d like to hear from Democrats, Republicans and especially independents who voted for Obama the last time but have given up on him now. Why?

    Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is to be specific and rational, not vague and visceral.

  22. rikyrah says:

    August 28, 2011 10:45 AM Ron Paul doubles down, rejects FEMA

    By Steve Benen

    Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul raised a few eyebrows on Friday when he said he saw no need for FEMA to respond to any natural disaster, including Hurricane Irene. “We should be like 1900,” Paul said, adding that emergency response efforts should “coordinated voluntarily with the states.”

    By any sane standard, this was absurd rhetoric for anyone, but it’s especially offensive coming from a federal lawmaker and White House hopeful. Paul, however, doubled down this morning.

    As Hurricane Irene rampaged up the East Coast Sunday, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul blasted the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge of handling the damages caused by the pounding rain, flash floods and high-speed winds.

    “It’s a system of bureaucratic central economic planning, which is a fallacy that is deeply flawed,” the Texas congressman said on “Fox News Sunday.” “FEMA has been around since 1978. It has one of the worst reputations for a bureaucracy ever.”

    Paul added that he would oppose funding FEMA’s emergency response efforts.

    Let’s note a couple of things. First, Paul’s opposition to the “fallacy” of a federal response is fundamentally at odds with reality. As we talked about the other day, voluntary coordination among states is a recipe for one outcome: failure. Cash-strapped states barely have the resources for schools and law enforcement; the notion that they’ll be able to prepare and respond to a natural disaster, and rebuild in its wake, without any federal role whatsoever, is ridiculous.

    Indeed, Galveston, Texas, which is in Paul’s congressional district, is home to the most brutal natural disaster in American history — a hurricane killed at least 6,000 people in a few hours. There was no FEMA to help before or after the crisis. It’s not exactly a model of how we should be operating now.

    But just as important, I’m struck by Paul’s notion that FEMA has “one of the worst reputations for a bureaucracy ever.” That’s plainly false. FEMA is an efficient, effective agency that’s proven itself very capable of providing much-needed assistance to hard-hit areas. It occasionally has faltered, but the larger administrative context always matters.

    As Kevin Drum explained a few months ago, “Under Bush Sr., FEMA sucked. Under Clinton, FEMA was rehabilitated and turned into a superstar agency. Under Bush Jr., FEMA sucked again. Under Obama, FEMA’s doing great and responding quickly. I know, I know, we’re not supposed to politicize natural disasters. Not when that politicization makes Republicans look bad, anyway. So I’ll just let you draw your own conclusions from these four data points.”

    Update: On “Meet the Press” this morning, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said, “This is a much better FEMA than the olden days. They have been with us since day one…. Craig Fugate and the people at FEMA, Secretary Napolitano and President Obama — they have been excellent.”

  23. rikyrah says:

    Obama administration held training exercise for NYC hurricane

    If the possibility of escaping from New York seems like something only for Hollywood to you, you probably do not work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    In May 2009, the Obama administration conducted a simulation exercise around the possibility of a Category 3 hurricane hitting New York City, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Friday.

    The National Level Exercise, as it is known, was part of a coordinated effort by federal officials to prepare for a variety of disaster scenarios, including one very similar to what is likely to take place this weekend. President Obama himself participated in the exercise, one of the first of its kind by the new administration.

    “The federal government’s preparation for this storm didn’t just begin as the clouds started to gather and form a tropical depression,” Earnest told reporters traveling with President Obama to Martha’s Vineyard.

    “The federal government and this administration in particular is constantly exercising and preparing and testing and evaluating our readiness for situations like this,” he said.

    Earnest went on to underscore the position that officials are not “starting from scratch,” when it comes to preparations for Hurricane Irene, and reminded reporters that Mr. Obama received an in-person briefing in the White House Situation Room on the first day of the 2011 hurricane season.

  24. rikyrah says:

    48 Years Later, Republicans Are Still Trying To Kill Martin Luther King’s Dream
    August 28, 2011
    By Rmuse

    Today is the 48th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech and to commemorate the occasion, a statue is being dedicated to arguably one of the most important men in recent American history. The statue was unveiled last week in Washington D.C., and it is remarkable because it is the first memorial on the National Mall to honor a man of color and stands alone as the only one not dedicated to a past president or fallen solider. The statue has engendered some criticism for different reasons, but they are primarily petty complaints resulting from differing opinions that are purely subjective.

    Some critics claim the Chines artist, Lei Yixin made Dr. King’s likeness appear too Oriental and too forceful looking with his arms folded across his chest. Others complained that Dr. King would be upset that the artist who crafted the statue was from a Communist country. Subjectivity is always a problem for artists, but Dr. King’s son said his father would be proud of the statue and that he is being honored in such high fashion. It is impossible to know exactly what he would think of his memorial or the statue, but a more important question is; what would Dr. King think of America 48 years after he gave his inspiring and hope-filled speech?

    There can be little doubt that Dr. King would be proud that America elected an African-American president, or that there are men and women of color serving in Congress. He would also be proud that in many areas of the country, children of all colors attend the same schools and universities as their white counterparts. Even though it took acts of Congress to force white supremacists in Southern states to integrate schools and a Civil Rights Act to guarantee that all Americans enjoy the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution, Dr. King would certainly be dismayed at the continuing suppression of minorities regardless of color.

    In many Republican-controlled states, voter suppression laws will make it nearly impossible for minority voters to have their voices heard. Obviously, if minorities and the poor predominately voted for Republican candidates, the voter suppression laws would never exist. Dr. King would have condemned as inherently racist the defunding of ACORN that was based on a racist’s fabricated videotape even though investigations proved ACORN was innocent of any malfeasance. ACORN primarily helped minority voters register and cast ballots and receive assistance for a variety of enterprises. Dr. King would also be angered that Andrew Breitbart manipulated taped remarks of Shirley Sherrod to portray her as a racist against white people and led to her dismissal. Those two instances are representative of overt attempts by Republicans to oppress people of color, and although they are despicable, there are troubling signs that Republicans are on a rampage to oppress poor people of color on a much grander scale that would sadden and anger King.

    The Affordable Care Act Democrats passed to provide inexpensive healthcare to 30-40 million uninsured Americans would help the working poor and minorities who are fortunate if they can feed and clothe their families, but Republicans and teabaggers violently opposed the law. In fact, even though Republicans promised creating jobs was their highest priority in the 112th Congress, their first order of business was voting to repeal the law. Why? Because Republicans feel that in America, healthcare is a privilege reserved for those who can afford exorbitant premiums and if millions of poor minorities have to suffer sickness and eventual death, then so be it. No doubt, Dr. King’s dream did not include depriving our most vulnerable citizens of the basic right to good health. The Republican cuts to Medicaid are also aimed at poor people of color who use it as a last resort for their children who wallow in poverty through no fault of their own. In fact, Dr. King would be appalled that in the richest country in the world, over 31 million children live in poverty while the GOP hands Americans’ tax dollars over to the wealthy, their corporations, and the oil industry.

    All of the Draconian spending cuts Republicans have made over the past seven months have primarily been aimed at the poor. Cutting aid programs for poor mothers who depend on the WIC program for food and healthcare do not affect upper-middle class or rich Americans, and the savings from the cuts are used to fund tax cuts for the wealthy as well as subsidies for the oil industry. In Texas, Governor Rick Perry funneled aid for poor disabled children into the bank accounts of his wealthy friends in an act of Christian charity that would cause his lord and savior Jesus Christ to retch in disgust. Perry is not the only Republican guilty of stealing from poor and minority children, but he is the most visible at the moment. Careful examination of Republican leaders in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey and Indiana would expose more Republican-inspired theft from the poor to feed the rich.

    Dr. King may have reason to celebrate the progress people of color have made over the past 48 years, and there has been progress, but there are more reasons for him to be saddened that all Americans are not afforded equal rights and equal opportunities to succeed and prosper. Now that Republicans have begun assailing middle-class Americans, there is finally beginning to be an outcry against their largesse benefiting the wealthy, but it is sad that the middle class was silent until their wealth was threatened before they expressed outrage. Dr. King may have wondered why any decent American could sit silently while the poor and people of color were being deprived basic human rights; the answer is certainly selfishness and greed. There have always been humanitarians in America who worked tirelessly for people of color and the poor, but it took the prospect of losing their wealth for the majority of middle-class Americans to rise up and speak out against conservative’s continued preference for the wealthy.

    So today as millions of Americans reflect on Dr. King and the anniversary of his beautiful speech that envisioned all Americans having the same rights and opportunities to succeed and prosper, maybe his words will provoke more Americans to work to make his dream a reality. Because although there is an African-American president and people of color serving in Congress, there are still millions of Americans who barely subsist from day-to-day and conditions are getting worse thanks to Republicans who are more concerned with enriching the wealthy off the backs of the poor.

    Dr. King is not here to champion the cause of equality for all Americans, but there are millions of Americans who can advocate for those least able to speak up for themselves. Republicans have abject contempt for all Americans who are not wealthy, but their focus has been primarily to punish poor people by cutting aid they desperately need and suppressing their right to vote to change their lot in life. Instead of reflecting on Dr. King’s speech today, consider what actions to take to make that dream become a reality, because now that Republicans have turned their attention to the middle-class, it is just a matter of time before 95% of Americans join poor people of color being oppressed and treated as second-class citizens. It is a sad commentary, but that is the America Republicans have created and if all Americans had really shared Dr. King’s dream from the beginning, it is possible that we would not find ourselves on the brink of total oligarchy. Dr. King’s dream of an equal America has turned into a nightmare and the fault lies with Republicans and every American who was satisfied that as long as they prospered, poor people of color could continue wallowing in poverty. Dr. King would say; shame on America.

  25. rikyrah says:

    Warren Buffett Stinks up the Billionaires’ Garden Party
    August 27, 2011
    By D. L. MacKenzie

    Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has been preaching higher taxes for the extraordinarily well-to-do for more than a decade, but his August 15th Wall Street Journal op-ed was apparently the last straw for some of his pampered fellows in the velvet pantaloon club. Buffett had the temerity to remind us once again that despite his extraordinary wealth and income, he pays a lower percentage of his income in taxes than ordinary working class Americans. He asked Congress to finally stop “coddling billionaires” and make them pay their fair share, a vulgar indiscretion prompting a fusillade of grunting protests from the ivory towers of Koch Industries to the grimy corridors of the right wing blogosphere.

    Perhaps Buffett felt his status as an incontestably successful capitalist hero might insulate him in some way and grant him the leeway to make such scandalously true statements. As only Nixon could go to China, perhaps Buffett feels only he can broach the topic of simple fairness without being branded a communist. If the past is any indication, Buffett simply didn’t give a damn and merely gave us a piece of his mind.

    Victor Hugo observed that “an invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.” Undaunted by the long odds, Heritage Foundation blogger and sycophant to the mighty Lachlan Markay has thrown down the gauntlet. In a single preposterous post, Markay has managed to sum up with extravagant credulity the right’s utterly vacuous response to Buffett’s commonsense remarks. To the compelling man-bites-dog Buffett story, he responds with dog-licks-self stories, quoting both former American Express CEO Harvey Golub and right wing hero Charles Koch of Koch Industries in two utterly ineffective retorts to Buffett. Markay then weaves Golub and Koch’s pompous, self-absorbed burbling into his own trite and irrelevant tract on the virtues of the free market.

    Harvey Golub is a pretty rich dude, rich enough that everyone with an ounce of self-preservation knows to call him “former American Express CEO Harvey Golub” instead of “former Chairman of the Board at the Campbell Soup Company Harvey Golub,” or heaven forbid, “former Chairman of the Board at AIG Harvey Golub.” These days, he sits on the executive committee of the right wing think tank the American Enterprise Institute, and though his tenure at American Express ended some ten years ago, Markay reverently flashes Golub’s AMEX Black Card before quoting from his unfathomably outlandish remarks published in the Wall Street Journal.

    “Governments have an obligation to spend our tax money on programs that work,” says Golub in a transparent bid to seem reasonable, and then, “they fail at this fundamental task.” Really? Does our government really fail to spend money on programs that work? According to Golub, the answer is yes. All government spending amounts to waste, fraud, and meticulous abuse of the public trust. Nothing works. To prove his point, Golub then rattles off a series of loaded questions calculated to create the impression that our government exists only to squander our hard-earned money on one brazen boondoggle after another. “Do we really need dozens of retraining programs with no measure of performance or results?” he asks rhetorically. “Why do we spend billions on trains that no one will ride?” And so on. It’s hard to know where to begin in unraveling Golub’s farcical diatribe because each loaded question twists reality with a different false presupposition, but let’s look at one in detail:

    “Why do we keep post offices open in places no one lives?”

    Harvey, I hate to fart in your limo, but the short answer is “we don’t.” The Postal Service has proposed closing some 3,600 post offices in a draconian cost-cutting measure, but there isn’t a single one located in a “place where no one lives.” Even the smallest post office in the nation, a 56 square foot (no, that’s not a typo) former irrigation pipe shed situated at the edge of the Everglades in the tiny town of Ochopee, Florida serves eleven postal customers. At 12 by 20 feet, the North Hoosick post office in upstate New York is variously reported as the second- and third-smallest in the nation. The North Hoosick post office houses 124 P. O. boxes, 110 of which are in use by postal customers. Evidently someone lives there. Not any billionaires, mind you. Nobody important like Harvey Golub. Just a bunch of nobodies who can damn well drive an extra three miles on icy rural roads to a neighboring town’s post office to help shave a billionth of a percent off the Post Office’s budget, which incidentally will reduce federal spending by precisely zero dollars and zero cents.

    After cataloging such imaginary extravagances, and anguishing about poor people who “pay no income taxes at all,” Golub has his John Galt moment, challenging Congress thus: “Before you ‘ask’ for more tax money from me and others, raise the $2.2 trillion you already collect each year more fairly and spend it more wisely. Then you’ll need less of my money.” Voila! Raise taxes on the poor and end all waste, so Golub can take it with him. After all, it’s a matter of fairness, right? Convinced? Didn’t think so.

    Markay then calls his next witness, the execrable Charles Koch, who dazzles with his own fabulously absurd testimony:

  26. rikyrah says:

    Chain of Lies: The Resurrection of Email Slander Against Michelle Obama
    August 20, 2011
    By Sarah Jones

    Another lie, resurrected by the Right. Yes, it’s election time which means your inbox will soon be full of those charming chain emails conservatives are so fond of sending, but so incapable of fact-checking themselves.

    Today, I got the Michelle Obama salary chain of lies from 2009. They don’t even feel it necessary to find new lies, apparently. Just this past week, they rolled out the stale, debunked, and ignored “Reverend Wright” and “pallin’ around” and “He doesn’t love his country” again, even though he is…..President. The President who got Osama. Clearly the epistemic closure of Fox News is impacting their messaging ability.

    When I have time, I compose a rebuttal email, which I send using the “Reply ALL” button. I have a friend who always adds in one stray person from his address book for good measure, to show the conservatives up for their tactics. It seems these conservatives have no shame, for never once have I had one of them reply back to me to apologize for slander or wasting my time.

    Some of them are even business associates of mine who have sent me the chain of lies. On these occasions, after having my request to be taken off their list ignored, I have cc’d our other colleagues in my reply to subsequent emails. After I’ve spent my time debunking a chain of lies and sending it on, only to be told the same lie again by the same person, I realized the time for good social graces was over.

    It’s important to shun and shame such tactics when they are done deliberately, and with knowledge of the lie. My thinking is that if they feel these lies are worth forwarding to recipients who have explicitly asked to be removed from their list, then they must want to own those lies in a public forum. So be it, as I have a memory like an elephant. Another ways of accomplishing this is to post the rebuttal on Facebook, addressing the email sender in public. If enough people did this, conservatives might bother to factcheck these chains of lies before they passed them on.

    Today I was sent the “Michelle Obama’s 300,000 salary and earmarks” scandal email. Sadly for the sender, I had some free time. My reply:

  27. Ametia says:

    Attention Governor Perry: Evolution is a fact

    Q. Texas governor and GOP candidate Rick Perry, at a campaign event this week, told a boy that evolution is ”just a theory” with “gaps” and that in Texas they teach “both creationism and evolution.” Perry later added “God is how we got here.” According to a 2009 Gallup study , only 38 percent of Americans say they believe in evolution. If a majority of Americans are skeptical or unsure about evolution, should schools teach it as a mere “theory”? Why is evolution so threatening to religion?

    A. There is nothing unusual about Governor Rick Perry. Uneducated fools can be found in every country and every period of history, and they are not unknown in high office. What is unusual about today’s Republican party (I disavow the ridiculous ‘GOP’ nickname, because the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has lately forfeited all claim to be considered ‘grand’) is this: In any other party and in any other country, an individual may occasionally rise to the top in spite of being an uneducated ignoramus. In today’s Republican Party ‘in spite of’ is not the phrase we need. Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job.

    Read on:

  28. Ametia says:

    Pew: Half of US adults now use social networks
    Half of all American adults are now on social networks, slightly more than a year ago, and use among Baby Boomers is growing, according to a new study.

    Half of all American adults are now on social networks, slightly more than a year ago, and use among Baby Boomers is growing, according to a new study.

    A report released Friday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that, of the U.S. adults who use the Internet, nearly two-thirds use social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.

    Among Baby Boomers aged 50 to 64, 32 percent said they use a social networking site on a typical day. That’s up sharply from 20 percent a year ago.

    Seniors also are testing the waters of social networking, said Mary Madden, co-author of the report.

    “The graying of social networking sites continues, but the oldest users are still far less likely to be making regular use of these tools,” she said
    Online social networks are most popular with young adults and women, and the “power users” of the social Web are women aged 18 to 29, the report found. Of this group, 89 percent use social networks and 69 percent do so on an average day.

    The report found “no significant differences” in use of social networks based on race, ethnicity, household income, education level or whether people live in urban, rural or suburban areas.

    Pew also asked respondents to describe their social networking experience in one word. The most common word, by far, was “good.”

    The survey was conducted April 26 to May 22 among 2,277 adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

  29. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone.

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