Serendipity SOUL | Monday Open Thread

Happy MUN-dane, Everyone!  It’s Geroge Michael week at 3 Chics.  Shout out to SG2; WE LOVE & MISS YOU!

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86 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Monday Open Thread

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

  2. rikyrah says:

    Media Alert: POTUS will be on The Tom Joyner Morning Show tomorrow.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 02:31 PM PDT
    Perry seals travel and expense records until after November election+*

    by Jed Lewison

    Rick Perry is currently embroiled in a legal battle to block the public from viewing his travel and expense records, but The Washington Post notes that everything from July of this year forward will remain under seal until after the November 2012 election:

    In the meantime, during a special session that ended July 1, the Texas Legislature, at Perry’s urging, added language to a school finance bill that will seal the governor’s travel records for 18 months — until after the 2012 presidential election. The measure would cover the records going forward, not those in the past, which have been the subject of the court fight.

    One Republican legislator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the governor as “extremely concerned” about keeping his records sealed, and said Perry was actively lobbying key legislators to get it passed in the waning days of the special session. The legislator said Perry’s wife, Anita, also was pressing legislators on the issue.

    That’s probably the first time Rick Perry has every given a damn about a school funding bill, but given that his travel and expense records probably include more examples of things like this …

    …the governor’s critics contend that it has as much to do with politics as safety — especially after the embarrassment for Perry when taxpayers learned that they had been paying for scuba gear and golf cart rentals for officers who accompanied Perry and his wife to the Bahamas in 2004.

    … and this …

    In 2009, Perry traveled to Israel where he was given the “Defender of Jerusalem” award. According to a local television report, he and his wife flew first class at more than $5,000 per ticket, paid for by an energy company financier. Four security detail officers also went on the five-day trip at a cost of more than $70,000 to taxpayers. The expenses included $17,000 for rooms at the King David Hotel, nearly $13,000 for food and more than 350 hours in overtime pay.

    … you can understand why he’d want to keep them out of the public eye. On the other hand, it’s hard to understand why the tea partiers who are his biggest fans don’t seem to give a damn about his use of public resources for private gain.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Are government contractors immune from Snyder’s ‘shared sacrifice’?
    Workers asked for cuts while contractors collect big

    Though Michigan’s Republican leadership has focused on reducing the costs associated with state employees — just yesterday passing a law that requires them to pay more for health insurance — the bulk of state spending goes to businesses and so far they are not being asked to share in the sacrifice.

    A report put together by the unions that represent state workers says that while the state has sharply reduced its workforce and cut benefits, it has not cut back on the tens of millions it spends on third-party contractors that are often out of state companies.

    Using data from the Office of State Employer, the unions determined that in the first half of this year, $5.4 billion or 26 percent of all spending was on private contracts while $2.1 billion or 10 percent was spent on state employees.

    The governor has demanded $145 million in concessions from state employees, but union groups say they are unwilling to accept further cuts before the administration acts to reign in spending on contracts.

    “If you took ten percent of the service contracts existing it would represent over 100 million dollar in savings,” said Ken Moore, president of the Michigan State Employees Association, “yet the administration chooses not to look into it.”

    The governor is not considering action on service contracts, Moore said, and has even pulled back on oversight authority.

    The Office of State Employer confirmed that the Snyder administration has rescinded a Granholm-era executive order that directed it to try to negotiate savings with contractors.

    State employees say that there is no effective oversight mechanism for contracts and departments often end up paying for services that could be done more cheaply by state workers.

    Contractors often fail to account for some expenses in their initial bids and services grow more expensive over time.

    Lawmakers don’t understand the contracting process, labor groups say, and because many contracts extend for several years, it’s difficult for term-limited legislators to get a grip on problem contracts.

    At a meeting with union groups in Traverse City last week, House Appropriations Committee member Rep. Greg McMaster (R-Kewadin) listened as local employees of the Depts. of Human Services and Corrections detailed wasteful state spending on foster care placement and prisoner rehabilitation services and promised to look into the matter.

    “There should be nobody that should be left out when it comes to cuts,” McMaster said. “There is a lot of mismanagement that needs to be brought to light.”

    McMaster said that his initial idea of how to address problem contracts was to add staff to the office of Auditor General but that this idea was shot down by colleagues who said the budget would not allow for new hiring.

    The Office of Auditor General has authority to audit all spending on contracts but has has itself suffered cuts that limit its ability to monitor contractor performance.

    A review of the effectiveness and efficiency of contracts would be extremely labor intensive said Scott Strong, deputy auditor general.

    In the 2005-2006 fiscal year the Auditor General did a report on contracting for information technology services and found that the state had paid hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns, Strong said, but the department was never able to follow-up to see how the responsible parties responded to the audit.

    “When you think about it in terms of our audit responsibilities,” Strong said, “the state spends 40 billion a year and we are responsible to do the annual financial audit for the state, then we have to do all of the audits mandated by the federal government and then with what’s left we do performance audits. As we lose people we do fewer and fewer performance audits.”

    “A few years ago slightly more than 50 percent of our resources were used on performance audits,” he said. “Last year we were down to 35 percent.”

  5. rikyrah says:

    Report: Tax breaks bankrupted Michigan unemployment fund
    By Ed Brayton | 08.29.11 | 7:40 am

    A new report by the National Employment Law Project says that the bankruptcy of Michigan’s unemployment insurance fund can be blamed on a series of ill-advised tax breaks given to employers starting in the 1990s.

    Noting that the state has borrowed $3.2 billion from the federal government to keep the unemployment insurance fund solvent over the last few years and that the state must make a $117 million payment on those loans by the end of September, the report says:

    Michigan’s most recent round of benefit cutting began in March 2011, when Michigan lawmakers enacted legislation to reduce UI benefits by six weeks (from a maximum of 26 weeks to 20 weeks for a regular state claim). This change will take effect for new UI claims filed after January 15, 2012. New bills (House Bills 4781 and 4782) will further reduce UI payments for low- and moderate-wage employees through an across-the-board benefit cut while excluding more workers from UI eligibility. These benefit-cutting bills moved out of a House committee in June and can move toward passage at any point after the legislature returns from its 2011 summer legislative recess.

    Those who would further erode Michigan’s UI program fail to acknowledge that today’s financing problems are rooted in a history of irresponsible employer UI tax breaks starting in the 1990s. And, proponents of UI cuts wrongly promise that today’s benefit cuts will result in significant reductions in future UI payroll tax increases on Michigan employers. In fact, there is no reasonable hope that significant payroll tax savings will arise from UI benefit cuts, because we simply cannot cut UI benefits enough to avoid years of future UI tax increases on Michigan employers.

    As we explain in this paper, six weeks fewer benefits for state UI claimants in 2012 will have an immediate impact on unemployed workers and Michigan’s economy. Unfortunately, benefit cuts will do little to lower upcoming federal interest payments and nothing to stop future federal UI tax payroll increases on Michigan’s employers. In short, you cannot get substantial UI payroll tax relief by cutting UI benefits in Michigan. After years of worsening UI solvency and ill-conceived legislation “protecting” employers from modest tax increases, Michigan’s UI insolvency has reached the point at which employers are going to pay higher UI taxes. In short, rather than considering futile benefit cuts as a response to UI insolvency, Michigan should face the reality that higher UI taxes are the main ingredient of any path to solvency.

    The report notes that Michigan’s UI fund has not been in compliance with standard solvency criteria since the 1970s, leaving the state unprepared for major economic downturns that require having funds built up for the additional unemployment insurance that needs to be paid out during recessions.

    The report also notes that Michigan has the lowest taxable wage base for figuring unemployment insurance taxes, leaving that fund insolvent in times of economic duress.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Two-thirds of Americans agree with feds’ birth control decision
    By Ashley Lopez | 08.29.11 | 5:34 pm

    According to a recent Kaiser Health Tracking Poll conducted by Public Opinion and Survey Research Program, 66 percent of Americans agree with the federal government’s recent decision to include birth control in its list of preventative services.

    The Department of Health and Human services recently included contraception in a list of preventive care under the Affordable Care Act. Because of this decision, women will have their birth control covered by their insurance without co-payments.

    The recent poll finds that “two-thirds of Americans (66%) say they support the recent decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to require health insurance plans to pay for the full cost of birth control and other preventive services for women under the new law, and 24 percent of the public oppose the decision.”

    The Catholic Church has been the most outspoken opponent of the decision. Catholic hospitals, Catholic Bishops and Catholic medical providers have expressed their disapproval. Catholic groups claim that the federal agency’s provision allowing religious institutions that offer insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraception services is “too limited.”

  7. rikyrah says:

    90% of Republicans Say They Won’t Support Sarah Palin
    August 29, 2011
    By Jason Easley

    As Sarah Palin gets set to head to Iowa this weekend, and new CNN poll released today found that only 10% of Republicans would support a Sarah Palin 2012 candidacy.

    The CNN poll revealed that Rick Perry now has all of the Republican momentum. He now has a 14 point lead over Mitt Romney (32%-18%). Michele Bachmann has settled in at 12% support, and the rest of the declared field is mired in single digits.

    The dynamics of the race didn’t change when Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani were added to the mix. With Palin in the race, Perry still led Romney by a nearly 2 to 1 margin (27%-14%). Sarah Palin would replace Bachmann in third at 10%, and the Minnesota congresswoman would fall to fourth at 9%. Third place sounds like an okay debut for Palin, but she has lost 3% of Republican support in a bit more than a month, while at the same time, Rick Perry has gained 13 points.

    The most interesting element of the CNN poll is that it provides some insight into who Sarah Palin’s supporters are. Sarah Palin is third with Republican women at 13%. She is ahead of Bachmann by 3, but trails Rick Perry by 10 and Mitt Romney by 2. Palin only gets 8% support with men, and 10% support with whites. Palin attracted 14% of the support of people age 50-64, but she still trailed Rick Perry by 20 points with her age group. Oddly, Sarah Palin only attracted 2% of Republican seniors, while Rick Perry attracted 26% and Mitt Romney got 20%.

    Sarah Palin got 14% of the support of those Republicans who make under $50,000, and 10% of the support of those who make over $50,000. Palin’s was supported by 16% of those who didn’t attend college. She trailed Perry by six points with non-college grads. Palin only drew 8% of the support of conservatives, and trailed Rick Perry by 18 points (31%-13%) in her best region, the South.

    Sarah Palin doesn’t lead any of the Republican field with any demographic or region. The only thing that Sarah Palin would accomplish if she entered the race would be to weaken Michele Bachmann. These are the facts, yet no one should be surprised if the cable news networks (I’m looking at you CNN) fire up the hype machine and start playing the will she or won’t she game. It will be Labor Day weekend, and the cable news networks will need something to fill up the 24/7 news cycle with. It won’t matter to them if the story of a potential Sarah Palin candidacy is completely preposterous. They’ll run with it anyway.

    67% of voters already said that they would never vote for Sarah Palin, and now 90% of Republicans aren’t going to support her. Sarah Palin’s Iowa teabagapoolza can’t change the fact that 90% of Republicans will never go along with the idea of a President Palin.

    Republicans may love Rick Perry, and they just aren’t that into Sarah Palin.

  8. Ametia says:

    rikryrah, try this link; there are a host of MSNBC videos with Rev. Al and voter suppression. Let me know if these work for you.

  9. rikyrah says:

    Nebraska AG Jon Bruning’s Land Deal With Student Loan Execs Under Scrutiny

    As he gears up his Senate run, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) is drawing heavy attention in the local press for his business dealings.

    Last week the Omaha World-Herald dug into Bruning’s finances, noting that he owns stakes in various businesses ranging from $12 million to $61 million in total value, while also owing high debt between $10 and $35 million to fund his investments, all accrued during a career as a public servant. Now, Democrats are pouncing on a follow-up story about a real estate deal he cut with the help of executives from a student loan company that he crossed paths with as attorney general.

    In 2008, Bruning joined two executives from the company, Nelnet, to purchase a $675,000 lake house. But only a year earlier, he was embroiled in a controversy surrounding the same company when he waived a $1 million settlement with Nelnet over improper business practices. After critics pointed out that Nelnet execs had showered him with $16,000 in donations, he backed off the move.

    “To me, it’s incredibly tone deaf,” Paul Johnson, campaign manager for Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), whose seat Bruning is running for, told the World-Herald.

    Bruning told the paper he has been friends with the executives in question for years and there is no conflict of interest since the company is not under investigation.

  10. Ametia says:

    rikyrah did you see this video?

  11. rikyrah says:

    NYC Kills $27M Education Deal With News Corp Over Phone Hacking

    New York City ditched a $27 million education contract with News Corp subsidiary Wireless Generation, citing the ongoing investigations into the phone hacking allegations related to News Corp’s now-defunct News Of The World tabloid.

    State Controller Thomas DiNapoli rejected the Education Department’s contract with the company, the New York Daily News reports, which would have paid $27 million to create software to track test scores. The funding would have come out of the state’s $700 million “Race to the Top” education funds, but DiNapoli’s office said that there were concerns about News Corp’s “incomplete record” and about the ongoing scandal.

    “In light of the significant ongoing investigations and continuing revelations with respect to News Corp., we are returning the contract with Wireless Generation unapproved,” wrote DiNapoli’s office of the decision.

    In another potential setback for the Murdoch owned company, Britain’s Labour party is working to prevent News Corp from renewing its bid for British Sky Broadcasting, or BSkyB, Britain’s main satellite network. News Corp withdrew a $12 billion bid for control of the network back in July, at the height of the outrage over the News Of The World scandal. The company still owns a 39% stake in BSkyB, but the Labour party is working to prevent it from acquiring full ownership.

  12. rikyrah says:

    DOJ Has More Questions About South Carolina’s Voter ID Law
    Ryan J. Reilly | August 29, 2011, 6:40PM

    The Justice Department wants more information about South Carolina’s new voter ID law, which was signed by Gov. Nikki Haley (R) in May.

    Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, South Carolina is required to have changes to the state’s voting laws precleared by federal authorities or by a federal court to insure they’re not discriminatory.

    A letter from the Voting Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division asks South Carolina for more information about their voter ID law and lays out eight questions about how it will be implemented.

    The law requires voters to show a driver’s license, military identification or passport as well as their voter registration card at the polls. Monday marked the end of the 60-day review period for the new law.

    A coalition of voting rights groups wrote the Justice Department earlier this month to ask it to oppose South Carolina’s law.

    “South Carolina clearly has not satisfied its burden in showing that its photo voter identification law is neither retrogressive nor discriminatory in its purpose,” they wrote.

    On Friday, the state Senate’s Democratic caucus filed an official objection to the law with the Justice Department.

    “This is just wrong,” said state Sen. Gerald Malloy. “With all the problems we have in this state relating to the economy, and we end up having a partisan bill that would disenfranchise poor and primarily African-American voters — this is not where we want our state to go.”

    Haley has insisted the law isn’t meant to discriminate against any group and that showing a photo ID at the polls is common sense.

    “If you can show a picture to buy Sudafed, if you can show a picture to get on an airplane, you should be able to show a picture to make sure that we do what is incredibly inherent in our freedoms and that is the ability to vote,” Haley said.

    That’s a talking point that Democrats have been pushing back against in recent months.

    “You wanna know something? Getting a video from Blockbuster is not a constitutional right. Getting liquor from the liquor store is not a constitutional right,” Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) said at at news conference on Capitol Hill in July.

    South Carolina is one of several states which passed or considered voter ID laws this year. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 14 states currently have photo voter ID laws. In 2011, legislation was proposed in 20 states which did not have voter ID laws and 14 of 27 states that already had non-photo ID laws considered legislation to require photo ID.

  13. rikyrah says:

    I’m Totally Fine With Ignoring Ron Paul
    By Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Aug 29 2011, 11:00 AM ET

    It’s always bugged me that Ron Paul was allowed to basically pull a “Wasn’t Me” after a trove of bigoted literature was found bearing his name. Whatever.

    This sort of insanity is enough for me:

    “I live on the Gulf Coast. We put up with hurricanes all the time. In 1900, before FEMA, the local people rebuilt the city, built a seawall, and they survived without FEMA,” Paul told NBC.

    A catastrophic storm hit Galveston in 1900, killing thousands.


    The dead bodies were so numerous that burying them all was not possible. The dead were initially weighted down and dumped at sea, but when the gulf currents washed many of the bodies back onto the beach, a new solution was needed.

    Funeral pyres were set up wherever the dead were found and burned for weeks after the storm. The authorities passed out free whiskey to sustain the distraught men conscripted for the gruesome work of collecting and burning the dead.

    More people were killed in this single storm than the total of those killed in all the tropical cyclones that have struck the United States since. This count is greater than 300 cyclones, as of 2009. The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 remains the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

    There’s likely some critique to be made about why Jon Huntsman is getting coverage despite anemic poll numbers. Clearly Huntsman fits into a certain kind of conservative institutional ism that media enjoys (Cut the deficit. Don’t bash the gays. Don’t talk about abortion and poor people.)

    But the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. Ron Paul’s thoughts on FEMA, like his thoughts on black people, are the spoutings of a nihilistic reactionary. Having a critique of Libya isn’t enough.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Disappointed That Irene Wasn’t Katrina, The Right Slips Back Into Obama Derangement
    August 29, 2011
    By Jason Easley

    The disappointment that Hurricane Irene wasn’t disaster of Katrinaesque proportions which they can blame Obama for is palpable in right wing circles today.

    The right had been hoping beyond hope that Hurricane Irene would come through for them, and that they would finally have a natural disaster that they could label Obama’s Katrina. They thought the BP oil spill was it, but Obama was competent and let them down. The right wakes up Monday morning to hurricane that let them down, and a president that was on top of the situation.

    What’s a semi-lucid Obama hater to do?

    If the facts don’t justify an attack on Obama, make up some new ones that do.

    Hence, we have today’s right wing talking point. Obama is going to use Irene as an excuse for the economy. The excuse talking point began taking root before Irene even hit.

    Here is Stuart Varney on Fox Business on WEDNESDAY claiming that Obama will use the hurricane as an excuse to spend:

    Varney said, “The President wants to spend government money to stimulate the economy. This would be an excuse. I hate to call it an excuse, but that’s what it amounts to.”

    Today on Fox and Friends Steve Doocy claimed that Obama is going to use the hurricane as an excuse:

    Here’s Varney again saying that the storm is going to slow the economy down a bit. Steve Doocy replied with, “That means the president will be using it as an excuse.”

    Here is Rush Limbaugh today using the excuse talking point:

    Limbaugh said, “I’ll guarantee you Obama was hoping this was going to be a disaster as another excuse for his failing economy. If he’s out there blaming tsunamis, if he’s blaming earthquakes and whatever other national, natural disaster there are. I mean this one. I mean this one made to order, but this one didn’t measure up.”

    What Rush Limbaugh really meant: I am disappointed today that Irene wasn’t a huge disaster that I could use to bash Obama with. I had my script all written up, but that stupid storm let me down. Lucky for me, the talking point that Obama is turning Irene into an excuse for the economy is already out there, so I’ll just run with that.

    The poor right got their hopes for epic death and destruction on Obama’s watch, and as Limbaugh said, Irene just didn’t measure up. There are no statements from Obama blaming Irene for the economy but this has not stopped the most deranged of the Obama haters from assuming that there will be. The right wing media hates this president so much that they were hoping that he would fail their country in a time of disaster. They were rooting against the President of the United States. They were dreaming that a massive storm would hit, and Obama would bungle the whole thing, just like George W. Bush did.

    The word excuse has become a right wing talking point to try to drive home the message that Obama is weak president who relies on excuses because he can’t get things done. It is part of the political strategy to paint this president as a weak Democrat. Republicans obstruct and hostage take, then when nothing gets done they attack Obama as a weak president who can’t get results.

    The Obamaly deranged were praying to their evangelical whites only Jesus that in the face of crisis Obama would fail, and when he didn’t, their hatred for the man and his presidency grew exponentially. It is that hatred that fuels the creation of myths like Obama is going to blame Irene for the economy.

    It is the same hatred that has caused these former self labeled patriots to despise their own country to such a degree that they plot and act to ensure its failure. If you see an ODS (Obama Derangement Sufferer) today, (You’ll be able to spot them quickly by the depressed look on their face), give them a hug, and tell them not to despair, because they will have a whole second Obama term to keep rooting against this president and their own country.

    • Ametia says:

      LMBAO @ THIS: It is the same hatred that has caused these former self labeled patriots to despise their own country to such a degree that they plot and act to ensure its failure. If you see an ODS (Obama Derangement Sufferer) today, (Youll be able to spot them quickly by the depressed look on their face), give them a hug, and tell them not to despair, because they will have a whole second Obama term to keep rooting against this president and their own country.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Federal Judge Blocks Alabama’s Immigration Law
    Jillian Rayfield | August 29, 2011, 3:51PM

    A federal judge has issued a temporary injunction against Alabama’s controversial immigration crackdown, ruling that she needed more time to determine whether the law is constitutional. The law had been scheduled to go into effect on September 1st.

    U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Blackburn ruled Monday that the law will not go into effect Thursday, but she will rule on the merits of the law by September 29th.

    “In entering this motion the court specifically notes it is in no way addressing the merits of the motions,” Blackburn wrote.

    The law would, among other things, made it a crime for an illegal immigrant to be in the state, and additionally would criminalize hiring or renting property to illegal immigrants. The Department of Justice sued to block the law, arguing that it interferes with federal immigration policies and is therefore unconstitutional.

    Blackburn said in a hearing last week that “there are a lot of problems with this statute” and that it could lead to a number of unlawful arrest suits, though she added that she had not yet made up her mind about its constitutionality.

    Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R), who signed the law on June 9, said in a statement Monday: “I look forward to the Judge ruling on the merits. We have long needed a tough law against illegal immigration in this state, and we now have one. I will continue to fight at every turn to defend this law against any and all challenges.”

  16. rikyrah says:

    Compromise: A Dirty Word No More. Or How Obama is Winning the Messaging War on the Budget

    There are tons of complaints – some of it legitimate – about the Obama administration’s messaging apparatus. But at least in one instance if you want to win a messaging battle, look at what President Obama is doing. Not because President Obama is some sort of a miracle worker, but because what he’s doing is working. Compromise, a dirty word to both ideological extremes, has suddenly become buzzword among voters – and guess what? Voters want policy makers to compromise. MSNBC reports on a new AP poll that finds Congress’ disapproval rating at a sky-high 87%, and their approval rating down to 12% – i.e. it’s down to paid staff and family members and not even all of them at that – also finds this from voter interviews:

    “I guess I long for the day back in the ’70s and ’80s when we could disagree but we could get a compromise worked out,” said Republican Scott MacGregor, 45, a Windsor, Conn., police detective. “I don’t think there’s any compromise anymore.” […]

    “They’re so committed to their personal ways, and party’s way, that they are having a hard time finding a middle road,” Republican Frank Chase, 77, a military retiree from Hopkinton, Mass., said of both sides.

    When Republican voters are openly telling pollsters that policy makers in Washington need to get off their ideological line-drawing-in-the-sand and start compromising, you know that the message in favor of compromise and against a stagnant, deadlocked, dysfunctional government is winning. It’s winning, remarkably, despite 24-hour “news” channels competing on “format purity” and ideological Internet media on both sides attempting to make ‘compromise’ a four letter word.

    More importantly, the ideological houses of cards are being broken down as Americans start to pay attention to governing rather than just politicking. President Obama, throughout the debt limit debate (and before that the tax-cut and unemployement-benefits deal) constantly sought to do exactly that. Americans may have voted for divided government, but they did not vote for a dysfunctional one, he kept reminding us. He challenged members of his own party and the Republicans to step away from ideological line drawing and embrace compromise instead.

    If the goal for progressives is to win as much tax revenue as possible, this poll reveals that the President’s framing has succeeded at moving the country exactly in that direction.

    Usually, when Congressional approval is down, political scientists put a big caveat on it: people love to hate Congress as an institution, but most people still like their own member of Congress. That’s how in an institution generally unloved by Americans, the vast majority of members still win re-election even in “wave” election years. Well, that institutional ridicule might actually turn out to be headaches for incumbents now:

    The poll finds more people are down on their own member of Congress, not just the institution, an unusual finding in surveys and one bound to make incumbents particularly nervous. […]

    Among [independent voters], 65 percent say they want their own House representative tossed out in 2012, compared with 53 percent of respondents generally.

    A majority of Americans, and almost two-thirds of independents want their own members of Congress to be given the boot. Combine this with the finding in the poll that the Tea Party has declined to a 25% approval rating less than a year after their ranks swelled to a Republican majority in the House, and you can get an idea about which members of Congress the independents are aiming their votes against: Republicans.

    Not only have people moved to favor compromise over gridlock and governing over ideological head-butting, they have also significantly warmed to the idea of tax revenue increases as not just a significant part – people were always in favor of a balanced approach – but as the focal point.

    Since then, more Democrats and independents have shifted toward taxes as a means of balancing the budget, while Republican views on the question have not moved, according to the poll. Half of Democrats polled said raising taxes should be the focus over cutting services, up 10 percentage points from March. Independents showed a clear preference for cutting services over raising taxes in March, 64 percent to 28 percent. Now, only 42 percent of independents say focus on cutting services while 37 percent say increase taxes, according to the poll.

    In other words, the gap went from from a whopping two-to-one independent preference to make cuts the focal point in March to now being statistically evenly split. What’s more, nearly 6 in 10 Americans now take it for granted that taxes will have to be raised in order to bring us back to fiscal health. Argue, if you must, that the President did not do enough (or anything) to persuade the American people to bring them to the side of raising revenue, but the numbers tell a different story.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Political Animal
    August 29, 2011 4:35 PM
    Douthat, Perry, Bachmann, and the theocratic threat

    By Steve Benen

    Ross Douthat’s NYT column raises an interesting point today about the possibility of overreacting to politicians and their religious affiliations. There’s a kernel of truth here, but the argument ultimately falls short for important reasons.

    Douthat’s larger point, at first blush, seems fairly compelling. He notes that George W. Bush’s ties to various religious extremists didn’t amount to much, which seems to cast doubts on theocratic fears about Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and their associations with various fringe, religious radicals. Douthat therefore dismisses concerns about the Republican candidates and efforts to link them to “scary-sounding political theologies like ‘Dominionism’ and ‘Christian Reconstructionism.’”

    The columnist goes on to offers some suggests to those of us who take these religio-political connections seriously. Douthat raises several points, but this is the heart of the case:

    First, conservative Christianity is a large and complicated world, and like other such worlds — the realm of the secular intelligentsia very much included — it has various centers and various fringes, which overlap in complicated ways. Sometimes teasing out these connections tells us something meaningful and interesting. But it’s easy to succumb to a paranoid six-degrees-of-separation game, in which the most radical figure in a particular community is always the most important one, or the most extreme passage in a particular writer’s work always defines his real-world influence.

    Second, journalists should avoid double standards. If you roll your eyes when conservatives trumpet Barack Obama’s links to Chicago socialists and academic radicals, you probably shouldn’t leap to the conclusion that Bachmann’s more outre law school influences prove she’s a budding Torquemada. If you didn’t spend the Jeremiah Wright controversy searching works of black liberation theology for inflammatory evidence of what Obama “really” believed, you probably shouldn’t obsess over the supposed links between Rick Perry and R. J. Rushdoony, the Christian Reconstructionist guru.

    It’s worth appreciating the extent to which Douthat’s argument paints only part of a larger picture.

    First, “Dominionism” and “Christian Reconstructionism” aren’t just “scary-sounding political theologies”; they’re genuinely scary political theologies. Without delving into these worldviews in too much detail — at least not in this post — these are off-the-charts radical ideologies that would effectively establish Christian theocracies, in the United States, based on the right’s interpretation of Scripture.

    Second, I’m very much inclined to agree with Douthat about the futility of playing a “six-degrees-of-separation game,” but what about when there’s one degree of separation? When it comes to Perry’s associations, for example, there are some really far-out-there religious extremists he not only knows, but who the governor directly associates himself with. Is it unreasonable for those who take the First Amendment seriously to question the propriety of these close relationships? Given the direct ties, is it unfair to ask Perry to address these relationships in some detail? Of course not.

    But Douthat’s case seems especially weak when he brings in Obama comparisons. As he sees it, if Obama’s connection to Jeremiah Wright were unimportant, so, too, are Perry’s and Bachmann’s more controversial associates. The problem here is that Douthat himself said Obama’s ties to Wright were very important, making it a convenient time for him to dismiss the guilt-by-association game. The columnist’s argument starts to look like, “It would be wrong for the left to do what I did three years ago.”

    For that matter, we have public records of public officials to consider. As Jon Chait explained, “The real problem with the right-wing obsession with Obama’s ‘real’ roots is that they do not reflect in any way upon Obama’s public record. Obama is a mainstream Democrat, surrounded by Clinton-era veterans, and pursuing roughly the same policies that Bill Clinton would be pursuing if he were president under current circumstances. Bachmann and (to a slightly lesser extent) Perry are at the forefront of a movement to redefine their party’s ideology in far more radical hues. Their ideological and theological roots offer useful clues to figuring out this new direction. It’s clearly not completely separate from their policies. Bachmann is running around saying that natural disasters are God’s message to cut spending. It’s not a reach to tie her program to her theology. She does it herself constantly.”

  18. rikyrah says:

    need help. How can I get copies of embeddable Rev. Al videos.
    I’m watching an excellent segment on the GOP assault on Voting Rights.

    anyone who can leave me a link to the clip, I appreciate it.

    thank you in advance.

  19. Hola, SG2! I am thinking of you and your family every day. My heart to your heart. I miss you ♥

  20. Ametia says:

    Posted at 11:55 AM ET, 08/29/2011
    Princeton’s Alan Krueger nominated as Council of Economic Advisers chairman
    By David Nakamura

    President Obama on Monday nominated Princeton professor Alan Krueger as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, as the administration gears up for a fall fight with Republicans over how to create jobs and reduce the deficit.

    If confirmed, Krueger, a labor economist who served as assistant secretary for economic policy and chief economist in the Treasury Department from 2009-2010, would replace Austan Goolsbee, who left the White House for a teaching job at the University of Chicago.

    The appointment comes at a critical time for the administration. Obama said he will deliver a speech next week in which he will propose new ideas for creating jobs, with the unemployment rate at 9.1 percent. On Monday, Obama called growing the economy “our great ongoing challenge as a nation.”

    While announcing Krueger’s nomination during a brief Rose Garden appearance, Obama said: “I will be laying out a series of steps that Congress can take immediately to put more money in the pockets of working families and middle-class families, to make it easier for small businesses to hire people, to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation’s roads and railways and airports and all the other measures that can help to grow this economy.

    “These are bipartisan ideas that ought to be the kind of proposals that everybody can get behind, no matter what your political affiliation might be.”

    Krueger is the Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton and founding director of the Princeton University Survey Research Center. He has a long paper trail of academic papers.

    “Alan brings a wealth of experience to the job,” Obama said. “He’s one of the nation’s leading economists. For more than two decades he’s studied and developed economic policy both inside and outside of government. In the first two years of this administration, as we were dealing with the effects of a complex and fast-moving financial crisis, a crisis that threatened a second Great Depression, Alan’s counsel as chief economist at the Treasury Department proved invaluable.”

  21. rikyrah says:

    August 29, 2011 3:25 PM

    Trying to save public-sector jobs

    By Steve Benen

    Want to hear about a great jobs bill that Republicans won’t even consider? Here’s a good one.

    A top House Democrat introduced legislation Friday designed to help state and local governments retain and rehire workers amid the country’s lingering jobs crisis.

    Sponsored by Rep. George Miller (Calif.), senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, the proposal would pump billions of dollars into local communities in order to stanch the hemorrhaging of government jobs that’s been the trend throughout the year. […]

    Miller’s proposal provides roughly $37.5 billion for local governments, and an additional $24 billion for states to pay teachers, policemen and firefighters. The funds, to be allocated over a two-year span, are designed to preclude future layoffs — or even allow the rehiring of fired workers — as governments grapple with budget troubles in the down economy.

    This is the kind of legislation that’s far too sensible to succeed.

    While some congressional Republicans are convinced that public-sector employment is booming, reality points in the opposite direction. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Nicholas Johnson recently explained, “Since August 2008, state and local governments have slashed 611,000 positions, and the cuts have been getting worse — 340,000 of those jobs were lost in the last 12 months. July was the ninth consecutive month, and the 29th out of the last 35, in which total state and local employment shrank.”

    Layoffs at the state and local level were mitigated in 2009 by the Recovery Act, which saved thousands of jobs that would have otherwise been eliminated. Those funds have since been exhausted, and the public sector is back to making severe layoffs. This serves as a significant — and easily preventable — drag on the economy. It’s why David Leonhardt recently described as “an unforced economic error” — with all of the problems we can’t control, this is one problem we know exactly how to prevent.

    Miller intends to address the problem by simply saving the jobs. Instead of allowing states to lay off thousands of teachers, police officers, and firefighters, Congress would provide the resources to prevent them.

    And this effort won’t even get out of committee because Republican ideology dictates that public-sector job losses are actually good for us. Indeed, under the GOP economic model, the public sector is supposed to lose jobs, and as part of the party’s austerity agenda, this is a problem that must get worse on purpose.

    Still, kudos to George Miller for at least identifying the root of the problem and offering the right solution.

    • Why can’t the GOP just eat worms and die!

      Sorry, Mamma, I will go confess and ask forgiveness for this wish but if you were still here I think you would say the same. These people are just evil.

  22. Le Chele says:

    We cannot continue to ignore the plight of black women!

  23. rikyrah says:

    August 29, 2011
    Perry’s S.S. problem
    How could Rick Perry’s ultrarightism on Social Security possibly hurt him in the GOP’s ultraright primaries? The Romney organization, via the Post’s Marc Thiessen, provides the answer:

    Romney’s campaign will argue that Perry is against the very idea of Social Security and Medicare, and that he will use Perry’s book to scare seniors in early-primary states with large retiree populations, such as Florida and South Carolina.

    It seems to me that Perry has overplayed his (right) hand. Of course Mitt Romney could be wrong, but so far, he’s not panicking. I would think the polling on this would be devastating to Perry. Even W. got burned on it.

  24. rikyrah says:

    Tea Party Express Kicks Off Bus Tour To ‘Reclaim America’

    Fresh off conservative criticism of President Obama’s Midwest bus tour, the Tea Party Express is kicking its own tires. Leading up to the CNN/Tea Party Express Republican presidential debate Sept. 10, the tea party group on Saturday launched a bus tour in Napa, California.

    “We want Washington to live within its means, just like we do,” Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer told Reuters. “We’re in an economic downfall. Meanwhile, politicians are busy attending cocktail parties instead of focusing on the issues.”

    Hmm, that does make Napa an interesting choice to kick off the tour, doesn’t it? Regardless, the bus tour is expecting to make stops in 29 cities across the country, ending up in Tampa, Florida.

    The tour’s message is familiar: “Reclaiming America.” And event-goers can likely be seen sporting the usual tea party swag. Don Bahl, an attendee at the Napa rally, sported a dunce cap that read, “I voted 4 Obama,” CNN reports. “I was promised hope and change,” he told CNN. “All I got was despair and a little change in my pocket.”

    But the event was not without its detractors. A few dozen protesters showed up, according to CNN, chanting, “Hey ho, hey ho, the tea party has got to go.” As TPM reported Monday, the tea party’s unfavorability is up in a new Associated Press poll.

    Regardless of the tour’s success, the co-sponsored debate on CNN promises to be quite the show.

  25. rikyrah says:

    August 29, 2011 2:40 PM

    Note to candidates: don’t parse ‘quadruple’

    By Steve Benen

    Mitt Romney’s Republican presidential campaign ran into a little trouble last week after reports that he’s expanding his oceanfront mansion in Southern California. Romney’s existing 3,000-square-foot luxury home will be bulldozed and replaced with an 11,000-square-foot mansion.

    Don’t worry, the existing pool and spa on the property will remain intact.

    Even some Republicans said Romney’s remodeling plans are politically tone-deaf, and quadrupling the size of an oceanfront mansion during a presidential campaign seems odd. Romney told Joe McQuaid, however, that the media has misstated some details — it all depends on how one defines “quadruple.”

    He may be making progress on the stiffness. And the times I have seen him deal with hecklers, he has been pleasant, but persistent. He makes no bones about making a lot of money in the private sector.

    Still, I asked him, why give the media and political foes raw meat right now by filing for permits to tear down a La Jolla, Calif., beach house and quadruple its size? That was the wire story we had run the day before, and it was all over the Internet.

    It’s not accurate, Romney said, simply. The application he made, two years ago, was to double the living space by turning one story into two.

    Apparently, the project only becomes an 11,000-square-foot mansion if one includes the basement and garage. If not, Romney’s really only doubling the size of the home.

    And why don’t the basement and garage count? I don’t know, but apparently that’s the new spin.

    Again, just to be clear about this, there are obviously more important issues in this presidential race. What’s more, Romney made an enormous amount of money breaking up companies and laying off thousands of American workers, so it stands to reason that he’ll have the resources to purchase a luxurious residence (or in his case, several). I don’t begrudge him for doing so. Indeed, the fact that Romney is investing heavily in a home renovation project should probably be encouraged — the stimulus is good for the economy.

    But there is a political context to all of this, and the story steps on his larger message. As we talked about last week, Romney is effectively arguing, “The president is out of touch with the public’s needs during these difficult economic times. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go look at the plans to quadruple the size of my beach-front mansion in Southern California, before I leave for some Martha’s Vineyard fundraisers. Oh, and did you hear my joke about being unemployed?”

    In case anyone’s curious, in addition to the $12 million oceanfront residence, Romney also has a $10 million home in New Hampshire and a townhouse in Belmont, Mass. There’s also the nearby mansion, where one of Romney’s sons lives, and where Romney was registered to vote as recently as last year.

    There was also the $5 million ski-house in an exclusive area in Utah, but he sold it last year.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 10:52 AM PDT.

    Mitt Romney says he’s doubling, not quadrupling, size of beachfront vacation home

    +*by Hunter

    Via Politico, Mitt Romney clarifies the size of his new beachfront vacation house:
    Still, I asked him, why give the media and political foes raw meat right now by filing for permits to tear down a La Jolla, Calif., beach house and quadruple its size? That was the wire story we had run the day before, and it was all over the Internet.
    It’s not accurate, Romney said, simply. The application he made, two years ago, was to double the living space by turning one story into two. The “quadrupling’’ was a measurement of added nonliving space, including a basement and garage.

    That sounds more reasonable, I said. Had he issued a statement to that effect?

    He shrugged his shoulders with a “why bother?’’ look.

    Since I’m sure a majority of our readers have never heard of the place before, La Jolla is a very wealthy beachfront enclave just north of San Diego. Think Beverly Hills, but overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The land is worth more than any individual house, and so like other places along the California coast, it’s not uncommon for the wealthy to buy beachfront or ocean-view houses, even ones in excellent condition, simply to tear them down and build bigger or better ones on the property.

    So what Romney’s doing isn’t terribly unusual, for the super-rich. I think it speaks volumes about how the lifestyles of the wealthy compare to the rest of us: how many people reading this could afford to buy a beachfront property in one of the most affluent enclaves in the county, tear it down, and build a new house twice as large or four times as large? Now imagine doing all that just for an (additional!) vacation house!

    I am a bit happy to see Republicans being pedantic about math, however, even if it’s only to argue what living space means. Sure, it’s a quadrupling of space when you count things like garages, basements and the like, but please—that would be gauche! I assure you, that basement will only be used to store now-abandoned political opinions and the like: think of it less as “living space” and more “well-appointed issue crypt.”

    Meh, whatever. Romney has proven to have spotty political instincts at best, and reminding people that you’re “unemployed” while buying a multimillion dollar house you’re going to tear down to put your new beachside California vacation home seems a little awkward. If the rest of you unemployed people have to vacation in beachfront homes that are just a little to small for you, Mitt Romney feels your pa—well, no, no he doesn’t.

    .,-not-quadrupling,-size-of-beachfront-vacation home?via=blog_1

  27. rikyrah says:

    Texas Gov. Perry became a millionaire while serving in office

    By Aman Batheja
    The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
    Since his first race for office more than a quarter-century ago, Gov. Rick Perry has emphasized his roots as a rural farmer.

    Yet Perry’s bank account no longer reflects those humble beginnings as his bottom line has soared in recent years, records show, thanks largely to a handful of real estate deals that critics allege were achieved through the presidential candidates’ political connections.

    In just about every campaign Perry has run since 1989, allegations of his using his position for financial gain have come up. It’s an issue that Perry long ago accepted would linger as long as he remains in the public eye.

    “I’ve been in politics long enough to know that this is just a part of doing business,” Perry told the Star-Telegram in 1998. “I know full well, as my wife knows, that our private lives, particularly on the financial side, becomes fair game.”

    While much of the scrutiny has focused on land deals Perry made while a statewide official, “real estate investor” doesn’t properly capture all of his recent financial activity, just as “farmer” is too simple a description of Perry’s earlier years.

    Perry’s financial records were obtained via online databases from the Houston Chronicle and Texas Tribune and through the Texas Ethics Commission.

    When he became the state representative from Haskell in 1985, the married father of two was far from living high on the hog. The earliest federal tax return Perry has released dates to 1987, when the couple reported total income of $45,224.

    Perry drew a $7,200 annual salary from his public job. In Austin, he roomed with two other lawmakers to save money. Anita Perry worked as a nurse and took in less than $8,000 a year between 1987 and 1990.

    Like many other Texas farmers, Perry benefited from federal agriculture subsidies. Between 1987 and 1998, he received over $80,000 from such programs. Along with their own farm, Perry and his father, Ray Perry, also worked several hundred leased acres. Even then, Perry was moving beyond his agrarian upbringing. With his father or on his own, Perry had financial stakes in gas wells as well as real estate. Through his wife, the couple had a small investment in a local bakery. During that period, Perry also worked as a pilot.

    In 1983, Perry was named to the Haskell National Bank board of directors and maintained an advisory role there until 1996. Over most of that period, the bank paid him $700 to $3,500 a year, according to available tax returns. Bank President Andrew Gannaway recalled Perry attending the board’s meetings.

    “I think I would say the board felt like his contributions were valuable to the bank, as were the other members’,” Gannaway said.

    Although his real estate successes were years off, Perry’s interest in the field started earlier. Then-Gov. Bill Clements appointed him to the advisory committee of Texas A&M University’s Real Estate Center in 1981. Perry also became, but never worked as, a licensed Realtor.

    When he ran for agriculture commissioner in 1989, Perry got an early taste of how his finances would be put under a microscope. Incumbent Jim Hightower’s campaign accused Perry of greedily billing the state tens of thousands of dollars for the cost of flying himself on state business. In 1989, Perry’s reimbursements made up over half of the private aircraft mileage reimbursed in the Texas House.

    Defeating Hightower changed Perry’s life dramatically. His public salary as agriculture commissioner was over $70,000. His wife stopped working as a nurse. The family sold their home in Haskell and moved to Austin.

    Read more:

  28. rikyrah says:

    Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 08:24 AM PDT.

    Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did

    by HamdenRice .

    This will be a very short diary. It will not contain any links or any scholarly references. It is about a very narrow topic, from a very personal, subjective perspective.

    The topic at hand is what Martin Luther King actually did, what it was that he actually accomplished.

    The reason I’m posting this is because there were dueling diaries over the weekend about Dr. King’s legacy, and there is a diary up now (not on the rec list but on the recent list) entitled, “Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream Not Yet Realized.” I’m sure the diarist means well as did the others. But what most people who reference Dr. King seem not to know is how Dr. King actually changed the subjective experience of life in the United States for African Americans. And yeah, I said for African Americans, not for Americans, because his main impact was his effect on the lives of African Americans, not on Americans in general. His main impact was not to make white people nicer or fairer. That’s why some of us who are African Americans get a bit possessive about his legacy. Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy, despite what our civil religion tells us, is not color blind.

    I remember that many years ago, when I was a smart ass home from first year of college, I was standing in the kitchen arguing with my father. My head was full of newly discovered political ideologies and black nationalism, and I had just read the Autobiography of Malcolm X, probably for the second time.

    A bit of context. My father was from a background, which if we were talking about Europe or Latin America, we would call, “peasant” origin, although he had risen solidly into the working-middle class. He was from rural Virginia and his parents had been tobacco farmers. I spent two weeks or so every summer on the farm of my grandmother and step grandfather. They had no running water, no gas, a wood burning stove, no bathtubs or toilets but an outhouse, pot belly stoves for heat in the winter, a giant wood pile, a smoke house where hams and bacon hung, chickens, pigs, semi wild housecats that lived outdoors, no tractor or car, but an old plow horse and plows and other horse drawn implements, and electricity only after I was about 8 years old. The area did not have high schools for blacks and my father went as far as the seventh grade in a one room schoolhouse. All four of his grandparents, whom he had known as a child, had been born slaves. It was mainly because of World War II and urbanization that my father left that life.

    They lived in a valley or hollow or “holler” in which all the landowners and tenants were black. In the morning if you wanted to talk to cousin Taft, you would walk down to behind the outhouse and yell across the valley, “Heeeyyyy Taaaaft,” and you could seem him far, far in the distance, come out of his cabin and yell back.

    On the one hand, this was a pleasant situation because they lived in isolation from white people. On the other hand, they did have to leave the valley to go to town where all the rigid rules of Jim Crow applied. By the time I was little, my people had been in this country for six generations (going back, according to oral rendering of our genealogy, to Africa Jones and Mama Suki), much more under slavery than under freedom, and all of it under some form of racial terrorism, which had inculcated many humiliating behavior patterns.

    Anyway that’s background. I think we were kind of typical as African Americans in the pre Civil Rights era went.

    So anyway, I was having this argument with my father about Martin Luther King and how his message was too conservative compared to Malcolm X’s message. My father got really angry at me. It wasn’t that he disliked Malcolm X, but his point was that Malcolm X hadn’t accomplished anything as Dr. King had.

    I was kind of sarcastic and asked something like, so what did Martin Luther King accomplish other than giving his “I have a dream speech.”

    Before I tell you what my father told me, I want to digress. Because at this point in our amnesiac national existence, my question pretty much reflects the national civic religion view of what Dr. King accomplished. He gave this great speech. Or some people say, “he marched.” I was so angry at Mrs. Clinton during the primaries when she said that Dr. King marched, but it was LBJ who delivered the Civil Rights Act.

    At this point, I would like to remind everyone exactly what Martin Luther King did, and it wasn’t that he “marched” or gave a great speech.

    My father told me with a sort of cold fury, “Dr. King ended the terrorism of living in the south.”

    Please let this sink and and take my word and the word of my late father on this. If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don’t know what my father was talking about.

    But this is what the great Dr. Martin Luther King accomplished. Not that he marched, nor that he gave speeches.

    He ended the terror of living as a black person, especially in the south.

    I’m guessing that most of you, especially those having come fresh from seeing “The Help,” may not understand what this was all about. But living in the south (and in parts of the mid west and in many ghettos of the north) was living under terrorism.

    It wasn’t that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn’t sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus.

    You really must disabuse yourself of this idea. Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement decided to use to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth’s.

    It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them. You all know about lynching. But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment.

    This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running. It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people.

    White people also occasionally tried black people, especially black men, for crimes for which they could not conceivably be guilty. With the willing participation of white women, they often accused black men of “assault,” which could be anything from rape to not taking off one’s hat, to “reckless eyeballing.”

    This is going to sound awful and perhaps a stain on my late father’s memory, but when I was little, before the civil rights movement, my father taught me many, many humiliating practices in order to prevent the random, terroristic, berserk behavior of white people. The one I remember most is that when walking down the street in New York City side by side, hand in hand with my hero-father, if a white woman approached on the same sidewalk, I was to take off my hat and walk behind my father, because he had been taught in the south that black males for some reason were supposed to walk single file in the presence of any white lady.

    This was just one of many humiliating practices we were taught to prevent white people from going berserk.

    I remember a huge family reunion one August with my aunts and uncles and cousins gathered around my grandparent’s vast breakfast table laden with food from the farm, and the state troopers drove up to the house with a car full of rifles and shotguns, and everyone went kind of weirdly blank. They put on the masks that black people used back then to not provoke white berserkness. My strong, valiant, self educated, articulate uncles, whom I adored, became shuffling, Step-N-Fetchits to avoid provoking the white men. Fortunately the troopers were only looking for an escaped convict. Afterward, the women, my aunts, were furious at the humiliating performance of the men, and said so, something that even a child could understand.

    This is the climate of fear that Dr. King ended.

    • opulent says:

      The stain of racism terrorism leaves deeply etched scars in black souls. There is nothing more terrifying to a child than to see their adult male protector tremble and shuffle.

      Just makes me cry, reading this.

  29. rikyrah says:

    The Next Confirmation Battle
    by John Cole

    According to the Times:

    Alan B. Krueger, a Princeton University professor who recently served as chief economist for the United States Treasury, was tapped on Monday by President Obama to head the Council of Economic Advisers.

    Dr. Krueger, 50, was probably chosen in part for his award-winning research on the job market, an asset at a time when the country is suffering from the worst unemployment in a generation.

    In remarks in the White House Rose Garden on Monday, President Obama called Dr. Krueger “one of the nation’s leading economists” and cited the professor’s record on economic policy work “both inside and outside of government.”

    He is perhaps best known for his research on the minimum wage, in which he used an experiment to determine that raising the minimum wage did not reduce employment. But he has also written, both in his academic work and for the general interest press, about education, happiness, income distribution, social insurance, regulation, terrorism, rock concerts and the environment, among many other subjects. (His non-academic work has included stints as a contributor to the Sunday Business section and the Economix blog of The New York Times.)

    Dr. Krueger is considered a liberal-moderate economist, but has supporters on both sides of the aisle. Greg Mankiw, a Harvard economist who served as the chairman of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, endorsed the forthcoming announcement Monday as “an excellent choice by President Obama.”

    Given that Dr. Krueger has already been approved once by the Senate — for his Treasury position — the White House appeared to be hoping that he would sail through a Congressional approval process that has been otherwise contentious for most of the administration’s appointees. He would replace Austan Goolsbee, who left the administration earlier this month.

    Seems like a solid pick. You have to love the childish innocence of the White House- sure, a guy known for his work on the minimum wage will just sail through the Senate! I’m betting 51-49, with Manchin, Nelson, and the other blue dogs voting against.

  30. rikyrah says:

    This is Why People Hate Congress
    by BooMan
    Mon Aug 29th, 2011 at 01:45:32 PM EST

    Once Labor Day is over and Congress is reconvened, the president is going to unleash an ambitious economic program aimed at reducing unemployment. We don’t know what the details will be, yet, by Congress is going to have to react to it and take some kind of action. However, the Republican leadership of the House has already mapped out their agenda for the fall, and it’s filled with nothing but anti-labor and anti-environmental legislation that will never pass the Senate or escape the president’s veto-pen even if it did.

    House Republicans are planning votes for almost every week this fall in an effort to repeal environmental and labor requirements on business that they say have hampered job growth.
    With everyone from President Obama to his Republican challengers in the 2012 campaign focusing on ways to spur economic growth, House Republicans will roll out plans Monday to fight regulations from the National Labor Relations Board, pollution rules handed down by the Environmental Protection Agency and regulations that affect health plans for small businesses. In addition, the lawmakers plan to urge a 20 percent tax deduction for small businesses.

    I don’t know how stupid the Republicans think the American people are, but no one reasonably expects a Democratic Senate or a Democratic administration to buy into a jobs program based on weakening unions and poisoning the environment. It’s more bad faith time-wasting, and it’s precisely why this is the most unpopular Congress in living memory.

    The Republicans need to stop fostering the delusion among their base that owning the House means that you get to pass your agenda. It gives you a seat at the table, not an excuse to do absolutely nothing but pose and posture. There are some things that both sides should be able to agree to, including some compromises on orthodoxy, to create some damn jobs. Wasting weeks of debate on bills that are going nowhere and accomplishing nothing is going to push Congressional approval levels below ten percent.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Kevin Held: Worst Person in the World
    by BooMan
    Mon Aug 29th, 2011 at 01:14:08 PM EST

    I’m pretty sure that Kevin Held is the worst person in the world. You’ll have to read the article to get the full flavor, but this guy set up a charity in 2003 to raise funds to make an enormous multiple football-field size quilt made up of king size sheets. It was supposed to be a 9/11 memorial. He succeeded in raising over $700,000 but he did not succeed in creating the quilt. Instead, he just paid himself and his brothers.

    The $713,000 that Held raised from students, school fundraising campaigns, T-shirt sales and other donations is gone. More than $270,000 of that went to Held and family members, records show.
    In a July interview, Held said he hoped to finish the quilt in a few months. But he changed his mind a few weeks after the AP began asking questions, abruptly shutting the project because of “tough economic times.”

    Held has done an impressive job raising money, persuading students to hold “penny drives” and police officers to buy T-shirts promoting the quilt for $20 or more. But he’s spent a lot in doing so.

    Since 2004, Held paid himself $175,000 in salary, health insurance, other benefits and a weekly car allowance he received for most of that time. He’s owed another $63,820 in deferred salary, according to the charity’s most recent tax filing. Held argues that he’s actually owed closer to $420,000, because he was supposed to receive $60,000 annually since 2003, and has received far less.

    He told the AP in July that more than $50,000 paid in 2005 to satisfy a loan never reported by the charity went to his mother to repay “an accumulation of a bunch of small loans.” But when pressed last week – after the AP pointed out that his mother died that year – Held said he paid himself more than $45,000 to repay the loan. He said he couldn’t explain the other $5,000 without researching it.

    He said he paid another $12,000 to his brothers, Dave and John, as consulting fees.

    Held also charged the charity more than $37,000 for office rent, utilities and other related expenses, according to the group’s tax forms. But the addresses reported by the charity for most years were Held’s home and private mail boxes at PostNet and UPS stores in Arizona and south Texas.

    Held said he received much of the office payments to cover the cost of working out of his home.

    Held spent more than $170,000 on travel since 2004 to promote the quilt. He rarely traveled without his two Alaskan Malamute dogs, one at 120 pounds and the other 200 pounds. He also listed $36,691 in credit card and bank charges since 2005 and $10,460 for an expense listed as “petty” in 2009.

    “I loved going out and traveling,” he said. “I loved going to the police departments.”

    I’d say that he should be making at least one more visit to a police station. Here’s the best part.

    Still, he’s come a long way since serving a few days in a Tampa jail in 1993 for misdemeanor theft and battery. With his wife, he’s moving into a $660,000, five-bedroom house overlooking a lake in Chandler, Ariz…
    …He insists he has accounted for every dime spent by the charity, even if he can’t justify all the expenses.

    “It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person,” Held said. “It just means I made a mistake.”

    So far, he’s gotten away with it. The article details several other 9/11 charity scams. It makes you wonder why anyone plays by the rules.

  32. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    August 29, 2011 2:00 PM

    Cantor: no emergency disaster relief without cuts

    By Steve Benen

    I’m well aware of the political norms that say it’s wrong to question the motives of those you disagree with. We’re not supposed to make disagreements personal, and we’re not supposed to accuse officials of being bad people.

    I’ll bite my tongue, then, and just say that the Republican approach to disaster relief is morally reprehensible.

    If you can’t watch clips online, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared on Fox News this morning to confirm what he and his office have been saying all along: Republicans won’t allow emergency aid in the wake of Hurricane Irene unless Democrats meet GOP demands: dollar-for-dollar spending cuts elsewhere.

    In the interview, the dimwitted Majority Leader tried to make this sound like common sense — instead of an unprecedented move. Remember, no modern Congress, regardless of which party was in the majority, has ever demanded offsets in response to American natural disaster, not even Tom DeLay’s.

    Cantor also said House Republicans have “already” dealt with this by approving $1 billion in disaster aid in May, paying for it by cutting funds for a renewable energy program. Whether the Majority Leader understands what he’s saying or not is unclear, but the costs associated with the weekend’s hurricane will far exceed $1 billion.

    Let’s also not lose sight of the larger context here. As far as Eric Cantor is concerned, launching wars in Iraq and Afghanistan do not need to be paid for. Tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires do not need to be paid for. Bailing out Wall Street does not need to be paid for. But when American communities are struck by a natural disaster, all of a sudden, House Republicans discover a new standard: if Democrats want to help affected areas, the GOP has some demands that must be met.

    And in case this story isn’t quite mind-numbing enough, also note that FEMA has been forced to temporarily suspend “some payments to rebuild roads, schools and other structures destroyed during spring tornadoes in Joplin, Mo., and Southern states and other recent natural disasters” in order to respond to Hurricane Irene.

    That this is happening in the wealthiest nation in the world, simply because the Republican Party has been taken over by charlatans and fools, is a national disgrace.

    For all of our differences over party, ideology, and creed, we know that when disaster strikes and our neighbors face a genuine emergency, America responds. We don’t ask what’s in it for us; we don’t weigh the political considerations; we don’t pause to ponder the larger ideological implications.

    We act. It’s who we are; it’s what we do.

    Or it was, right up until Americans elected a radicalized House majority.

  33. rikyrah says:

    Cantor: No Disaster Relief Funding For Hurricane Irene Without Budget Cuts
    By Alex Seitz-Wald on Aug 29, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene this weekend, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) today stood by his call that no more money be allocated for disaster relief unless it is offset by spending cuts elsewhere. The Washington Post reported this morning that FEMA will need more money than it currently has to deal with the storm’s aftermath and is already diverting funds from other recent disasters to deal with the hurricane, but Cantor’s comments suggest Republicans won’t authorize more funds without a fight.

    Cantor took the position following the tornadoes that devastated Joplin, Missouri and elsewhere in the spring and summer, and after last week’s earthquake, the epicenter for which was in his district, but the hurricane’s level of destruction is far beyond that of those disasters. Still, Cantor told Fox News that while “we’re going to find the money,” “we’re just going to need to make sure that there are savings elsewhere to do so.”

    Watch it:

    Cantor referred a bill the Republican-controlled House passed that approves $1 billion in disaster relief, which was financed by a $1.5 billion cut from loan program to encourage the production of fuel-efficient vehicles. But the need in the wake of the hurricane will likely greatly surpass $1 billion, and that spending package was supposed to be used for tornado recovery efforts, for which several hundred million dollars has already been outlayed.

  34. rikyrah says:

    Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 06:23 AM PDT.

    Republicans trying to rewrite history on Medicare voteby Joan McCarter .
    If you’re brazen enough, and lie often enough with a straight enough face, you can get away with just about anything. If you’re a Republican, anyway. It worked for them in 2010, when they lied about the “billions cut from Medicare” by the Affordable Care Act. They thought that lie will continue to work for them, as they kept up the drumbeat earlier this year that it’s really the Democrats who cut Medicare.
    Now they’re doubling down on rewriting that history, trying to pretend that almost every congressional Republican did not vote to end Medicare when they voted for the budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan. Oh, and Democrats are meanies for talking about it

    Republicans are accusing Democrats of using “scare tactics” to convince Americans the GOP wants an end to Medicare and Social Security.
    In the party’s weekly radio address, Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada says both parties should come together to fix those programs, overhaul the nation’s tax code and pass pro-growth policies to right the economy.

    “Let’s stop the lies about who wants to end Medicare or eliminate Social Security and fix both programs now,” Heller says. “If some in Washington would stop campaigning long enough to do their jobs, we could fix both and ensure their existence for generations to come.”

    One could see how Heller, in particular, would want to rewrite that history. He has the distinction of being the only member of Congress who voted for it twice, both in the House and Senate. When he took both those votes, he said he was “proud” to have done so. Now he just wants all his constituents to forget it, apparently.

    No matter how they try to spin it, they voted to kill Medicare and they’re still running from that vote. In addition to proving that he’s a craven hypocrite, Heller just proved that Medicare remains an extremely potent issue for Democrats. A potent issue, that is, as long as Democrats fight to keep it, without benefits cuts.


  35. rikyrah says:

    Lean Times for the Banks
    by John Cole

    I know you will attack me for being simplistic, but these people make me want to vomit:

    Battered by a weak economy, the nation’s biggest banks are cutting jobs, consolidating businesses and scrambling for new sources of income in anticipation of a fundamentally altered financial landscape requiring leaner operations.

    Bank executives and analysts had expected a temporary drop in profits in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. But a deeper jolt did not materialize as trillions of dollars in federal aid helped prop up the banks and revive the industry.

    Now, however, as government lifelines fade and a second recession seems increasingly possible, banks are finding growth constrained. They are bracing for a slowdown in lending and trading, with higher fees for consumers as well as lower investment returns amid tighter regulations. Profits and revenues are slipping to the levels of 2004 and 2005, before the housing bubble.

    “People heard all these things before, but the reality of seeing the numbers is finally sinking in,” said John Chrin, a former JPMorgan Chase investment banker and executive in residence at Lehigh University’s business school. “It’s hard to imagine big institutions achieving their precrisis profitability levels, and even the community and regional banks are faced with the same problems.”

    A new wave of layoffs is emblematic of this shift as nearly every major bank undertakes a cost-cutting initiative, some with names like Project Compass. UBS has announced 3,500 layoffs, 5 percent of its staff, and Citigroup is quietly cutting dozens of traders. Bank of America could cut as many as 10,000 jobs, or 3.5 percent of its work force. ABN Amro, Barclays, Bank of New York Mellon, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Lloyds, State Street and Wells Fargo have in recent months all announced plans to cut jobs — tens of thousands all told.

    Even as they cut payrolls, banks are exploring ways to generate revenue that could translate to higher costs for consumers. Among the possibilities are new fees for automatic deductions from checking accounts that pay utility and cable bills, according to people involved in the discussions

    So basically, while the rest of us have been mired in a deep recession since 2008, the banksters that were the cause of this mess have been shielded from feeling any pain. They were shielded by you and me- we gave them big heaps of cash, the Fed gave them trillions in loans, and the party continued on well into the morning hours, and they kept living the high-life, issuing billions in bonuses and whining about the Kenyan Socialist Muslim in snotty open letters and on the Fox Business Channel. Now, though, they are running out of blow, it’s 8 am, and the dealer is out of what they need. So the cold hard reality of the economic slowdown they created is starting to sink in. Rather than revert to the behavior that banks traditionally engaged in until we decided as a nation that what we should do is turn banking and finance into speculative physics, a high stakes roulette with the best and brightest minds becoming quantitative analysts dreaming up new derivatives and other bullshit, they are going to look to new revenue streams.

    And where will those new revenue streams come from? You and me, of course. And in the process, they will kill innovative new things, like automatic bill payment. How many of you are going to keep using automated billpay if the banks are charging you five bucks a pop?

    Assholes. “The reality is sinking in…” Reality is 9% unemployment, wrecked retirements, and wrecked lives, you ponces.

  36. rikyrah says:

    The GOP’s Mythical Jobs Agenda
    By Guest Blogger on Aug 26, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    This is the House Republican’s idea of a “jobs agenda”? They must be joking. In fact, the policy platform outlined by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) offers a laundry list of half-baked policies that are resounding jobs killers. That’s because, across the board, the Republican “jobs agenda” reduces demand, undermines middle class families, blocks development of renewable energy industries, and recreates the possibility of future financial crises.

    The Republican budget plan, for instance, is the most complete articulation of the GOP’s flawed strategy for job creation and economic growth. Passed by the House on a party-line vote in April, it was rejected by the Senate. But the plan still illustrates core party principles that voters should know are at stake in the 2012 elections. The Republican budget:

    •Ends Medicare as we know it, kicking low income and middle class retirees into the Kafkaesque and inefficient private insurance market.
    •Tears gaping holes in public investments in education and lifelong learning, efficiency enhancing infrastructure and energy modernization, and science research and technological R&D that create jobs today, “crowd-in” private investment, and provide a foundation for long-run sustained economic growth.
    •Offers tax cuts to U.S. billionaires paid for by raising taxes on the middle class and shredding social protections for those hit hardest by the economic downturn, the most efficient policies to boost jobs and economic growth in the short-term.
    All told, the Republican budget would kill an estimated 1 million jobs.

    The budget, however, wasn’t the only indication of the GOP’s priorities. The Republican “jobs agenda” presents a litany of bills that in fact provide explicit subsidies for corporate oil, coal, and gas producers. Those subsidies, and the stranglehold big oil, coal, and gas companies have on national energy policy, are blocking the development of a fledgling advanced technology manufacturing industry that will create jobs right here in the United States: the renewable energy industry. While the rest of the world, including China, is fighting to develop a future based on renewable energy, the Republican “jobs agenda” would keep the U.S. mired in early 20th century technology.

    But perhaps no policy is a bigger jobs-and-growth killer than the unregulated financial predation and speculation that created the housing bubble, financial crisis, and economic weakness the U.S. economy now faces. But the Republican “jobs agenda” works tirelessly to recreate the financial policy conditions that created those crises in the first place. On the GOP’s agenda are plans to:

    •Gut consumer financial protections put into law by the July 2010 Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed with only one Republican House member dissenting
    •Gut funding from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission — the regulatory body charged to make sure that derivatives and futures speculation does not metastasize as a “financial weapon of mass destruction,” derailing the U.S. economy.
    Need I say more? Republicans have no job creation agenda.

  37. rikyrah says:

    Dear Rep. Barbara Lee, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Can We Talk?
    By Joan Ruaiz, on August 18th, 2011

    As a constituent who resides in your district, I just want to weigh in on the hatred and political divisiveness that I hear and read about on the news and on the Internet. There are forces working very hard at making sure that President Obama is defeated in 2012. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they took an oath or signed a pledge to that effect.

    The newest political strategy is to turn the African-American community against the first black president. The idea is to get black folks to scream at the President and to threaten to withhold our support come November 2012. Due to the very high unemployment rate in the black community, this could be an easy sell. The well-paid professional propagandists don’t ask African-Americans to lay the blame for the lack of employment at the feet of the business world (which is hoarding up a couple of trillions in their rainy-day fund), or to consider the fact that governors everywhere are cutting down on the public sector workforce (comprised of large numbers of black Americans per capita), or to holler at the Republican-dominated House, which has blocked most of the job-creating programs introduced by Democrats. Instead, they want us to aim our fire solely at our President and to blame him for 30 years of white men’s policies.

    Now, I have already informed myself on what this President has done to help the American population in general, and African-Americans in particular.

    Considering 2.7 years as the current timetable of his accomplishments, I would note that President Obama has reformed the health care system, which will provide subsidies for lower-income individuals who may not currently be covered (many who are AA), and also provides funding for badly needed community clinics, while doing away with pre-existing condition restrictions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease, all ailments suffered in alarming rates by members of the black community.

    In addition, women will soon get birth control free of charge if insured, which means that women who were previously going to Planned Parenthood – because, even with insurance, they couldn’t afford the price of contraceptives – won’t need to anymore. This leaves women who are uninsured more resources to get birth control via Planned Parenthood. Plus, the stimulus saved the biggest health care provider to the black community, the various state Medicaid programs. As well, the President closed the Medicare donut hole in prescription drugs, reduced seniors’ prescription prices by 50% through the use of generic drugs, and sent $250 payments to seniors to make up to the lack of a COLA increase for two years now.

    Further, the President literally, by his lonesome, saved the auto industry (while being criticized for it all the while), and in so doing saved many jobs held by African-Americans in the Midwest. No less, the Cash for Clunkers program provided needed cash to those with clunkers permanently parked or about to stop running.

    Benefiting young people who are attempting to afford rising college tuition, President Obama increased Pell grants, supported funding community colleges at unprecedented levels, and reformed the private student loan programs to eliminate the middleman, thereby reducing loan interest rates. He also revamped the actual repayment of loan programs, reducing them to not more than 10% of income, while providing incentives to those who would choose community service careers. His credit card reform bill stopped the predatory practice of credit card companies gifting young people with the ability to ruin their credit at an early age (something that hits our community harder than most). He is also cracking down on for-profit educational enterprises, some of which charge outrageous fees for inferior post-secondary education. These same young people are now able to stay insured under their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26, whether they are enrolled in school part-time, full-time or not at all.

    For the younger children, President Obama is responsible for signing a bill insuring healthier meals are served in our nation’s public schools, thereby addressing the issue of childhood obesity, a subject that affects more children in the African-American community than in others. Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign is also addressing this serious issue. And we shouldn’t forget that early in his term, President Obama provided healthcare to 11 million additional children via the CHIP program previously vetoed by President Bush.


    Now, that is not to say there is not much more to do, because of course there certainly is, and another four years would be a good start. But no president has ever been perfect, and this one should not be exempted from that rule. But I’m puzzled as to why some would want to believe that the majority of a particular minority group, who stood by FDR even as FDR basically cut them out of the new Social Security program as a compromise with Southern Democrats to get the bill passed, and who idolized JFK without gaining the rights that they were fighting for at the time, and who supported Bill Clinton, who gutted welfare, signed NAFTA, and then lied about having sex with “that” woman, would now be encouraged to drop their support of a black president who has done what I have listed in such a short time amidst political provocateurs and opportunists throwing rocks at him from the Left and the Right. It makes no common sense to me. In fact, it only tells me that we must insure that our community is well informed, so that we all hold steadfast, even as the most spoiled and entitled in this nation attempt to hoodwink us into believing that somehow we are worse off with this president than we have been with any other.

    The Obama presidency is not about him, nor is it about black people. His presidency is about good common-sense governance for all Americans, while dealing with incredible odds and looking hateful enemies in the eye. Every day they conjure up ways to destroy this nation, just to say it happened on his watch. My bumper sticker statements are that ObamaCares, while Republicans won’t, and we shouldn’t turn our backs on him, we should cover his.

  38. rikyrah says:

    August 29, 2011 10:40 AM

    Perry defends book, slams Social Security

    By Steve Benen

    Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry has a record of intense opposition to Social Security. The Texas governor has not only dismissed the bedrock program as a “Ponzi scheme,” he even wrote in his book that Social Security is unconstitutional. Given the program’s popularity, this would appear to be a political problem for the apparent GOP frontrunner.

    Indeed, two weeks ago, asked about his antipathy towards Social Security, Perry stuffed food in his mouth so he wouldn’t have to answer the question. Around the same time, Perry’s campaign said the candidate no longer stands behind the book he published just nine months ago.

    Maybe Perry would try to move away from his stated radicalism? Apparently not — the Texas governor has doubled down.

    Republican presidential contender and Texas Gov. Rick Perry continued his criticisms of Social Security calling the program a “monstrous lie” reports the Houston Chronicle.

    “It is a Ponzi scheme for these young people. The idea that they’re working and paying into Social Security today, that the current program is going to be there for them, is a lie,” Perry said at a campaign stop in Ottumwa, Iowa. “It is a monstrous lie on this generation, and we can’t do that to them.”

    Perry also said Social Security is “was a retirement program,” but now “it’s turned into a tax.”

    And what about his right-wing book, which makes the case against Social Security, but which Perry’s campaign backed away from two weeks ago? Perry insisted yesterday at a campaign stop in Iowa, “I haven’t backed off anything in my book. Read the book again.”

    In case this isn’t already obvious, Perry is positioning himself well outside the American mainstream. It’s going to impress the Republican Party’s far-right base, but it won’t impress anyone else.

  39. rikyrah says:

    K-Thug Finds an Acorn
    by BooMan
    Mon Aug 29th, 2011 at 10:59:33 AM EST

    K-Thug finds an acorn:

    Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.

    I don’t know. I think we just experienced eight years of this kind of rule, and I was terrified the entire goddamn time. It took years off my life. It radicalized me. It literally changed my life and all my priorities. It was a thing I felt compelled to fight every single day. That didn’t change for me when we won back the House and Senate, and it didn’t change for me when we won back the White House. Why? Because I know that one of these years, these yahoos will gain total control of our government unless we have people willing to fight them every single day.

    I think Krugman knows this, and I think he does his part. But I also think he employs his own form of magical thinking a lot of the time. Namely, he acts like the world will conform to what reason dictates and that rational decisions will be made if only someone makes a rational argument. No. This is a knife-fight. Reason plays a part, but it isn’t decisive.

  40. rikyrah says:

    Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill To Lift The Payroll Tax Cap, Ensuring Full Social Security Funding For Nearly 75 Years
    By Zaid Jilani on Aug 25, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was a featured speaker at the United Steel Workers 2011 conference in Las Vegas.

    Sanders focused much of his speech on the Social Security system, blasting suggestions by Democrats and Republicans alike that, for example, we should adjust the cost of living adjustment to cut Social Security payments to working class Americans or raise the retirement age. “When [Social Security] was developed, 50 percent of seniors lived in poverty. Today, poverty among seniors is too high, but that number is ten percent. Social Security has done exactly what it was designed to do!” he thundered, defending the program. Watch it:

    Today, Sanders announced that he will introduce legislation that would strengthen Social Security without cutting benefits to any of its beneficiaries. Sanders’ legislation would eliminate the income cap that currently exists in the payroll tax that does not tax income above $106,800:

    To keep Social Security strong for another 75 years, Sanders’ legislation would apply the same payroll tax already paid by more than nine out of 10 Americans to those with incomes over $250,000 a year. […] Under Sanders’ legislation, Social Security benefits would be untouched. The system would be fully funded by making the wealthiest Americans pay the same payroll tax already assessed on those with incomes up to $106,800 a year.

    Sanders points out that President Obama himself endorsed this idea on the campaign trail in 2008. “What we need to do is to raise the cap on the payroll tax so that wealthy individuals are paying a little bit more into the system. Right now, somebody like Warren Buffet pays a fraction of 1 percent of his income in payroll tax, whereas the majority…pays payroll tax on 100 percent of their income. I’ve said that was not fair,” said Obama during the campaign.

    The Social Security system is currently fully funded until 2037. Lifting the payroll tax cap would virtually eliminate funding shortfalls the program would experience over the next 75 years.

  41. rikyrah says:

    Bachmann’s Mainstream Lunacy
    by BooMan
    Mon Aug 29th, 2011 at 09:32:06 AM EST

    Michele Bachmann thinks that God sent us an earthquake and a hurricane to tell Congress that we’re Taxed Enough Already and we need to realize that our federal government is on a “morbid obesity diet.” That’s kind of funny because I was thinking that God decided to do what Congress refuses to do and create some construction jobs. I guess Michele and I just have different ways of reading the tea leaves.
    I kid.

    Bachmann was talking to a Tampa, Florida megachurch audience, so they are probably accustomed to hearing that God is actively intervening in our national affairs. Normally, these messages occur when God has witnessed too much sodomy, but apparently social issues are taking second place to fiscal concerns in this election cycle.

    Here’s what Bachmann actually said:

    “I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”

    It’s less offensive than Jerry Falwell’s take on 9/11, but it isn’t different in kind. I admit that is it highly unusual to have a large earthquake on the east coast or to have a hurricane ravage the Mid-Atlantic and New England. But, just because something is highly unusual doesn’t mean that God is trying to talk to us. Remember, God is all-powerful. If he wants to talk to us he can speak directly to us from the clouds and tell us exactly what our budget priorities should be, down to the last subclause. He has no reason to risk being misinterpreted and no compelling reason to rely solely on cryptic communications.

    Steve Benen thinks that Bachmann’s comments should be treated as so scandalous that the press ought to declare her candidacy all but over. But to attack Bachmann’s reasoning is to attack the magical thinking behind it, not just her particular interpretation of that magical thinking. And the press is not going to do that. In this country, magical thinking is the norm, and only a fool would run for office by making a frontal attack on the idea that God might send cryptic messages in the form of extreme weather events.

    “What is God trying to tell us?” is probably the most commonly asked question in America, and the press isn’t going to declare the question out of bounds.

  42. rikyrah says:

    Real America Wants To Take Us Back to Heck of A Job, Brownie

    The Competent One updated us on the Irene situation Sunday:

    First, let me say that this is a storm that has claimed lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who’ve lost loved ones and those whose lives have been affected by the storm. You need to know that America will be with you in your hour of need.

    While the storm has weakened as it moves north, it remains a dangerous storm that continues to produce heavy rains. One of our chief concerns before Irene made landfall was the possibility of significant flooding and widespread power outages. And we’ve been getting reports of just that from our state and local partners. Many Americans are still at serious risk of power outages and flooding, which could get worse in the coming days as rivers swell past their banks.

    So I want people to understand that this is not over. Response and recovery efforts will be an ongoing operation, and I urge Americans in affected areas to continue to listen for the guidance and direction of their state and local officials.

    Before the storm made landfall, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA worked very closely with our state and local partners, as well as volunteer organizations, to pre-position supplies and teams of first responders along the hurricane’s projected track. And the American Red Cross opened shelters in communities across the region. I want to thank those Americans for their work over the past several days, which has saved lives and property up and down the East Coast.

    Clearly, it’s best for Obama to stop being competent immediately so’s he can be a gen-u-whine brownie instead of a good for everything suck up.

    Also, you hurricanes are on notice – stop giving Obama opportunities to show Americans how it can be done. Stop playing political games, hurricanes! You know God only wants you to destroy the poor people.

    Lastly, for you Luntzian learners, it’s best to pat your party on the back in public to big display (see: Mission Accomplished banner), especially when you are not doing a good job. This is not political posturing, it’s patriotism.

    “Real America” wants to take us back to the Great Days of heck of a job, Brownie. See you in small government Hell

  43. rikyrah says:

    All I say is…


    the political ads write themselves:


    Perry Says Social Security Is No Longer A ‘Retirement Program’ But Simply A ‘Tax’
    By Scott Keyes on Aug 29, 2011 at 9:30 am

    During a campaign stop in Ottumwa, Iowa this past weekend, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) continued his assault on Social Security, saying it was no longer a “retirement program” but has just “turned into a tax.”

    Perry is certainly no fan of Social Security. In his November 2010 book Fed Up!, he wrote that the program “toss[es] aside any respect for our founding principles.” Social Security exists, according to Perry, “at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government.” With views like these, it’s hardly surprising that Perry believes Social Security is unconstitutional.

    Speaking at an Ottumwa coffee shop on Saturday, Perry redoubled his attack on Social Security. When a conservative voter asked Perry why the current administration was promoting Social Security as an entitlement program — a view that all but the most right-wing people hold — the Texas governor went a step further. Perry told the woman Social Security “was a retirement program” when it began, but “it’s turned into a tax now.”

    QUESTIONER: This administration is promoting Social Security as an entitlement program.

    PERRY: Who’s that?

    QUESTIONER: The current administration. Especially lately I’ve noticed on TV that’s what they’re promoting it as. The question is, that what it originally started out to be is not an entitlement program, Americans who are working, putting money into it…

    PERRY: It was a retirement program, and actually it’s turned into a tax now.

    Watch it:

    Perry went on to tell the crowd that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme” and a “monstrous lie.” Watch video of the exchange here.

    Of course, Perry completely ignores that Social Security has been, arguably, the most important social program that the country has implemented, causing poverty amongst seniors to plummet. Without Social Security benefits, almost half of Americans over the age of 65 would be living in poverty; with Social Security, fewer than 10 percent of seniors are actually living below the poverty line. Social Security is especially important for Hispanic, African-American, and female retirees.

    Later that day, ThinkProgress asked Perry if conservatives should be worried that he’s tempering his hardline views on Social Security now that he’s running for president. Perry replied that he hasn’t “backed off anything” in his book, despite efforts from his campaign to walk back the governor’s view that Social Security is unconstitutional.

    A recent Pew Research Center poll found that three in five Americans don’t want to see Social Security benefits cut, including a plurality of Republicans.

  44. rikyrah says:

    Tea Party Unfavorability Jumps In New AP Poll

    It seems that the Tea Party’s governing style, most clearly on display during the debt ceiling fight in Congress, has taken a toll on Americans’ view of the movement. Polls have been showing a drop in its approval, and a new AP/GfK poll shows that its unfavorable rating has seen a sharp rise. 46 percent of those surveyed said they have a negative view of the Tea Party movement, versus 28 who say they view it favorably.

    The last time the AP conducted a national poll on Americans’ favorability of Tea Partiers was in their pre-governing period: throughout 2010 the conservative movement was viewed slightly unfavorably but the splits were close. In June of 2010 it even earned a positive rating, with 33 percent of over 1,000 adults surveyed finding the movement favorable against 30 percent. In the last AP rating, taken Nov. 3-8, 2010, directly after the 2010 election, the split stood at a slim negative rating of 32 percent favorable against 36 unfavorable.

    The jump of ten points in the negative number is all in the “very unfavorable” category. In November of 2010 there were 22 percent who viewed the Tea Party that way, which has jumped to 32 percent. The “somewhat unfavorable” number remains unchanged in the last nine months, steady at 14 percent.

    It’s also worth noting that congressional approval as a whole is extremely low in the new AP poll, even by its own standards. It now stands at 12 percent approval versus 87 percent disapproval, a dip from the previous low over the last two years of 22 approval against 76 percent disapproval in March of 2010. This reflects other Congressional lows seen in the Gallup and CBS/NYT polling since they broke for the August recess.

  45. rikyrah says:

    Court Rules Republicans Who Confiscate Cameras At Town Halls Are Violating 1st Amendment

    According to a recent Federal Appeals court ruling, Republican members of Congress who confiscate citizens’ cell phones or cameras and do not allow filming at town halls are violating their constituents First Amendment rights.

    One of the ways that unpopular House Republicans have been trying to dodge the wrath of their angry constituents during the August recess is to not allow filming at their town halls. Last week, Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio directed on duty police officers to confiscate the cameras of citizens who tried to film his responses at a recent town hall. Chabot justified this behavior as necessary for the protection of his constituents, but a Federal Court ruling on Friday makes it clear that the Republicans who engaging in this behavior are violating the First Amendment rights of their constituents.

    The case brought before the court involved a man in Boston who was arrested for filming the police with his cell phone while they were making a separate arrest of a young man in public. The man who did the filming with his cell phone filed suit alleging that his First and Fourth Amendment rights had been violated. The district court ruled in favor of the person who filmed the arrest, and the state appealed.

    The judge ruled,

    It is firmly established that the First Amendment’s aegis extends further than the text’s proscription on laws “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” and encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information.

    As the Supreme Court has observed, “the First Amendment goes beyond protection of the press and the self-expression of individuals to prohibit government from limiting the stock of information from which members of the public may draw.” First Nat’l Bank v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765, 783 (1978); see also Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557, 564 (1969) (“It is . . .well established that the Constitution protects the right to receive information and ideas.”). An important corollary to this interest in protecting the stock of public information is that “[t]here is an undoubted right to gather news ‘from any source by means within the law.’” Houchins v. KQED, Inc., 438 U.S. 1, 11 (1978) (quoting Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665, 681-82 (1972)).

    The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles. Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting “the free discussion of governmental affairs.” Mills v. Alabama, 384 U.S. 214, 218 (1966).

    Moreover, as the Court has noted, “[f]reedom of expression has particular significance with respect to government because ‘[i]t is here that the state has a special incentive to repress opposition and often wields a more effective power of suppression.’” First Nat’l Bank, 435 U.S. at 777 n.11 (alteration in original) (quoting Thomas Emerson, Toward a General Theory of the First Amendment 9 (1966)).

    The court found that people have the First Amendment right to film government officials in public while they are carrying out their duties. In fact, this right is necessary in our democracy to counteract attempts by those who have power to suppress the rights of citizens. The act of not allowing the public to film the carrying out of congressional duties in public is an act of First Amendment suppression.

  46. rikyrah says:

    Labor Council In Wisconsin Tells GOPers To Stay Away From Local Labor Day Parade
    It seems not even the annual Labor Day parades are immune from partisan polarization in Wisconsin, in the wake of the political battles over Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union legislation. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Republican politicians in the Wausau area have been told to stay away from this year’s parade.

    “Usually they’ve been in the parade, but it seems like they only want to stand with us one day a year, and the other 364 days they don’t really care,” said Randy Radtke, president of the Marathon County Central Labor Council, which organizes the parade.

    The Journal Sentinel reports:

    In a statement, Radtke added that the parade is intended to celebrate working men and women and what the labor movement has given them: weekends, a 40-hour workweek, child labor protection and a safe working environment.

    “It should come as no surprise that organizers choose not to invite elected officials who have openly attacked worker’s rights or stood idly by while their political party fought to strip public workers of their right to collectively bargain,” Radtke said.

  47. dannie22 says:

    hello everyone

  48. rikyrah says:

    House GOP revs up a repeal, reduce and rein-in agenda for the fall

    By Paul Kane, Published: August 28
    House Republicans are planning votes for almost every week this fall in an effort to repeal environmental and labor requirements on business that they say have hampered job growth.

    With everyone from President Obama to his Republican challengers in the 2012 campaign focusing on ways to spur economic growth, House Republicans will roll out plans Monday to fight regulations from the National Labor Relations Board, pollution rules handed down by the Environmental Protection Agency and regulations that affect health plans for small businesses. In addition, the lawmakers plan to urge a 20 percent tax deduction for small businesses.

    It is essential that the House continue our focus on the jobs crisis,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) wrote in a memo to be sent to GOP lawmakers Monday.

    The push for a jobs agenda comes as Obama, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and others plan to present their own jobs agendas just after Labor Day.

    In mid-August, shortly after lawmakers agreed on a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, just 13 percent of voters in a Gallup poll approved of the job Congress was doing, a record low.

    Some Republican strategists have been warning party leaders that the focus on cutting spending is not resonating with independent voters who are most concerned about a sagging economy and an unemployment rate that has exceeded 9 percent for more than two years.

    The effort to cut regulations, which House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) alerted Obama to in a letter on Friday, is likely to meet stiff resistance from the Democrat-controlled Senate. And liberal activists have accused Republicans of exaggerating the impact the rules have on job growth and discounting their health benefits.

    “They save lives and reduce illness. Less pollution, for instance, means fewer cases of asthma and lung disease. Having safer toys on store shelves means fewer children dying after choking on small parts,” said Public Citizen, a liberal watchdog group.

    In Wyoming last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the tools to boost an economic recovery are “outside the province of the central bank,” suggesting that Congress and Obama must find the right mix of fiscal policy.

    In his letter, Boehner asked the president to report “all pending and planned rulemakings” that would have an impact of more than $1 billion on the economy.

    The Cantor memo provided additional details on the regulatory focus. The week of Sept. 12, House Republicans will try to overrule an NLRB ruling that restricts Boeing’s effort to transfer an assembly line from Washington state to South Carolina. Business leaders accuse the Obama administration of interfering to try to help their labor allies, because South Carolina is a right-to-work state with fewer unions. Labor leaders say the aerospace company is seeking a spot for cheaper labor.

    The next month or so will focus on EPA regulations. House Republicans would pull back an effort to regulate coal ash in mining-heavy states that they say would hinder concrete production and cost more than 100,000 jobs. Through the fall and winter, Cantor said, the caucus will vote on at least 10 regulations that committee chairmen have identified as “costly bureaucratic handcuffs that Washington has imposed upon business.”

    The result of these votes is likely to mirror failed efforts this year to repeal landmark legislation that was approved during Obama’s first two years in office — his health-care law and the Dodd-Frank consumer protection bill — but it will provide a framework for Republicans to highlight a jobs agenda. Also, leaders have pushed several of their freshmen lawmakers to advance the anti-regulation bills, providing the newcomers with a chance to tout proposals that could resonate with voters in their districts.

    This is at least the second such push for a jobs agenda by House Republicans this year, the most recent occurring in late May, when Boehner and Cantor packaged several old proposals to rein in regulations and reduce corporate taxes. That effort stalled and the rest of the summer was consumed by the debt-ceiling standoff.

  49. rikyrah says:

    How Rick Perry Created His State’s $27 Billion Budget CrisisBy Lou Dubose, The Washington Spectator

    27 August 11

    He Was Warned

    “As of this moment, this legislation is a staggering $23 billion short of the funds needed to pay for the promised property tax cuts over the next five years…. These are conservative estimates.”
    – Texas Comptroller Carole Strayhorn, warning Gov. Rick Perry about his 2006 tax reform proposal

    N HIS STATE OF THE STATE SPEECH in February, Rick Perry described the $27 billion budget shortfall confronting the Texas Legislature.

    Now, the mainstream media and big government interest groups are doing their best to convince us that we’re facing a budget Armageddon,” Perry said. “Texans don’t believe it and they shouldn’t because it’s not true.”

    The $27 billion equaled 15 percent of the $182 billion biennial budget the Legislature had passed two years earlier. If not Armageddon, an apocalyptic loss of revenue in a low-tax state that provides bare-bones public services.

    Perry’s statement was even more remarkable because most of the budget shortfall was a consequence of a business-tax bill he pushed through the Legislature in a special session five years earlier.

    With Perry running for president on a record of fiscal responsibility (and job creation, discussed later in this article), it’s important to understand the consequences of his 2006 “business margins tax” – and to ask if the governor knew that the tax reform he proposed would undermine the state’s budgets in the years that followed.

    First, some background. Texas is one of nine states with no income tax. It relies on property taxes to pay for public services – notably, to pay for public education, which consumes the lion’s share of property taxes.

    Because there is no income tax, property taxes are high. In 2006, Perry called a special session to address property taxes. With no income tax, there are no easy fixes. Yet Perry found one. A business-margins tax he said would provide enough revenue to allow for reductions in property taxes.

    It was evident at the time that the new tax would not deliver what the governor promised. The state comptroller, Carole Strayhorn, had her staff run the numbers on Perry’s tax-reform proposal.

    “In 2007,” she wrote in a letter to Perry, “your plan is $3.4 billion short; in 2009, it is $5.4 billion short; in 2010 it is $4.9 billion short, and in 2011 it is $5 billion short. These are conservative estimates.”

    The comptroller warned that “no economic miracle will close the gap your plan creates. Even if every dollar of the current [2006] $8.2 billion surplus was poured into the plan, it would not cover the plan’s cost for more than two years, 2007 and 2008. The gap is going to continue to grow year by year.” The shortfall the bill created could only be closed by tax increases, the comptroller warned, “or massive cuts in essential public services – like public education.”

    “It was not only Ms. Strayhorn’s letter,” Houston Democratic Rep. Scott Hochberg told me. “Every official document predicting the state’s financial crisis at the time predicted exactly what happened.”

    Hochberg, the Legislature’s resident authority on public-education finance, also warned Perry that the tax bill he was promoting would not produce the revenue he promised.

    “I asked the governor about this in a small meeting amongst legislators,” Hochberg said. “His answer to me, I remember it as clear as day, was ‘Scott, use your common sense. Don’t you know that when we cut property taxes we will see such an economic boom that you will never even notice the drop in revenue?'”

    Perry’s response to the Democratic legislator was candid – and newsworthy. Perry admitted that he knew that the tax reform he proposed would result in a “drop in revenue.”

    Perry was not alone in that knowledge.

    Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst told San Antonio Express-News re-porter Garry Scharrer this past January that he, too, knew the new tax wouldn’t deliver what it promised:

    “Dewhurst now says that he knew that revenue projections from the revised business franchise tax ‘were inflated’ and told Senate members in closed-door caucus meetings at the time that the business tax would not perform as advertised ‘and that we were going to create a structural funding deficit in state government.’ But Dewhurst said he also believed at the time that ‘we would grow out of it by now.'”

    A state senator told me last month that Republican leaders in the Senate knew the tax they were supporting wouldn’t provide adequate revenue, and the “grow out of it” trope was their answer to questions from skeptics.

    “They knew their projections were bullshit,” the senator said. “When you questioned them about it, they’d say ‘we’ll grow out of it.'”

    That’s the story. The state’s Republican governor and lieutenant governor knowingly created a budget crisis.

  50. rikyrah says:

    Winger Melodrama posing as Serious Newspaper Opinion Column on Michelle Obama
    Posted on Sunday, August 28, 2011, 5:45 pm by Paddy

    Geez Louise, what a crock. The only reason I opened a Washington Times Opinion column was because of the title-

    Why so glum, Michelle?

    Now, I’m not going to link to the Washington Times, so if you want to read the whole thing, Google the headline or the author’s name (Joseph Curl). First paragraph he muses on the idea that FLOTUS is not happy being FLOTUS, not happy being “second fiddle” to POTUS, and just generally not happy in her marriage. His clues? She went to see her brother (On the taxpayers dime!) and that she went to Martha’s Vineyard a few hours before her husband (On the taxpayer’s dime!). Ahem, not really that unusual of b.s. for a winger, so….. then you get to the kicker paragraphs.

    Imagine the following words being spoken by your favorite melodramatic actor, complete with breast clutching and pausing for emphasis. (I like to hear Roddy McDowell, Fright Night era.)

    Then, we see the pictures. First, a shot of an unsmiling Michelle in the presidential limousine. Next to her, in the shadows, a grim husband. Unseen in the photo are the daughters, who sit across from her. But Michelle is tuned out: She’s plugged into an iPod, neither willing nor able to listen to anyone.

    Then, another photo. Mrs. Obama was going to stay on Martha’s Vineyard when her husband returned Saturday ahead of the hurricane, but White House aides quickly nixed the idea. Upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, about to descend the stairs on her private 747, she could not have looked more grim. Her husband — the president — didn’t look too happy, either.

    You okay? Need some smelling salts? Now go look at the pictures, I’ll wait. Very first one looks to me like Michelle is smiling. Gosh, imagine that. Notice the tweet in the middle of the post-

    Could it be that is the reason they’re not holding hands and skipping all the way home? They look like any family returning after vacation, glad to be there but sorry the vacation is over. Oh, there’s some more blather about how FLOTUS has traveled so much, and how “maybe she’s past trying — or caring.”

    Very hard to believe he got paid for this Enquirer** Weekly World News quality blather.

  51. rikyrah says:

    Democracy On Their Terms: Republicans Lock Down Town Halls To Stifle Critics

    In 2009, the current Republican Congressional majority rode into power on a wave of voter frustration voiced through organized protest at town halls. So it’s perhaps out of fear that the same thing will happen to their majority in 2012 that Republicans found new and novel ways to stifle the voices of constituents who might criticize them.

    All across the country, Republican members of Congress have done their best to duck their critics this August, traditionally the month when town halls can become heated and policy agendas shifted. But with congressional and Republican approval ratings way, way down, it seems the GOP is preoccupied with quieting those who might criticize them over facing the music back home.

    In Florida, Rep. Daniel Webster (R) distributed a sort of blacklist of local activists that aimed to tear down those who might criticize him at his town hall meetings. The tone of the list was almost comically paranoid, with photos next to big warnings that activists once worked for the “Barak [sic] Obama Presidential Campaign” in 2008.

    In Ohio, Rep. Steve Chabot (R) ordered police on scene at one of his August town halls to confiscate the video cameras of progressives in attendance, a step up from his overall ban on constituent cameras in his meetings that he’s had in place “since at least June,” according the the Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel.

    Back when things were really hot for Democrats during the health care debate, some Democrats tried this kind of thing. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) once publicly overruled his staff when they tried to keep news cameras out of one of his town halls in August, 2009. And as the Los Angeles Times reports, at least one prominent Democrat is limiting her exposure to crowds this August:

    Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi also took a less unpredictable approach. She toured female-owned small businesses in San Francisco, took questions at a Bay Area job fair and is speaking at events across the country this month.That’s the easiest way to avoid town hall criticism, of course: not to have a town hall at all. And that’s exactly what Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) — who is a prime target for progressive and Democratic protesters — has done. Instead of public, open meetings, Ryan opted for visits with civic groups that charged the public admission to attend.

    Gabriela Schneider, communications director for the Sunlight Foundation — a non-partisan group focused on government transparency — says the decision by members of Congress to flee their critics this August is bad for democracy.

    “What’s so dangerous that they have to ban cameras?” she said. “The members of congress are reneging now on their responsibility to hear from their constituents. that’s why they go home.”

    Schneider called the push to corral critics and deny them access to their members of Congress “something new” and “a disturbing trend.” She also suggested members congress could boost their declining approval ratings by facing their critics. That may seem counter-intuitive, but Schneider said Americans expect a dialogue with their politicians. When they don’t get it, they can turn on their leaders.

    “They want access to members of Congress,” she said. “The don’t want just the big corporations to have access.”

  52. rikyrah says:

    Michele Bachmann says she’d consider Everglades drilling
    Posted on Sunday, August 28, 2011, 6:59 pm by Paddy

    Oh my god. Oh my holy crap sundae with an creationism cherry on top. What kind of twisted mind would think that drilling in the Everglades is even in the realm of rational thought? The Everglades has more than 67 endangered species living there. What a sick woman. Let’s hope there are no “experts” that she can find that will be bribed convinced to okay such a hideous plan.

    SARASOTA, Fla. — Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said Sunday that she would consider oil and natural gas drilling in the Everglades if it can be done without harming the environment.

    Bachman said the United States needs to tap into all of its energy resources no matter where they exist if it can be done responsibly.

    “The United States needs to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy and more dependent upon American resourcefulness. Whether that is in the Everglades, or whether that is in the eastern Gulf region, or whether that’s in North Dakota, we need to go where the energy is,” she said. “Of course it needs to be done responsibly. If we can’t responsibly access energy in the Everglades then we shouldn’t do it.”

    In 2002, the federal government at the urging of President George W. Bush bought back oil and gas drilling rights in the Everglades for $120 million. Bachmann, who wants to get rid of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, said she would rely on experts to determine whether drilling can be done without harming the environment.

  53. rikyrah says:

    In 2012, the issue won’t just be the economy
    Deepak Chopra

    SFGate August 26, 2011 03:09 PM

    President Barack Obama is already pulling a bit of a hat trick, managing to sustain higher popularity than either George Bush or Ronald Reagan when they were stuck in economic doldrums. The bad economy pulls down his ratings on job performance, and this reflects the frustration of the public and widespread discouragement about the future. With the Republican House effectively blocking any potential stimulus, and the entire Republican Party bent on being the party of “No” –after all, it swept them into office last November, even if the country as a whole was damaged—many commentators have jumped on a new bandwagon.

    Whereas the presidential prospects for the Republicans looked dim a few months ago, now we are told that the party is energized, thinks it can beat Obama and only needs a stand-up candidate. With the recession nowhere near a robust turn-around, the President looks vulnerable to any serious challenge. So the conventional wisdom holds.

    I doubt it.

    The pundits have left leadership out of the equation, and specifically, they’ve ignored what a leader needs to do. Angry on the left are calling for Obama to pull a Gary Cooper in “High Noon” and run the bad guys out of town by standing up to them. But real leaders aren’t sheriffs, and the right wing doesn’t see itself as bad guys.

    From the beginning of his administration, facing very tough times ahead, Obama has seen, quite rightly, that a leader fulfills the needs of his followers. There are three needs that serve as the foundation of a healthy society, as they do for a healthy individual.

    1. Security: The country needs to be free of anxiety, with a sense that normal life isn’t overshadowed by threats. It’s been ten years since 9/11, a massive cause for insecurity, and fear has doubled because of the economy. The President has consistently refused to give in to anxiety, maintaining that with the right stimulus packages, jobs programs, government support of failing sectors in the economy, reduction in foreclosures, and alert monetary policy, we will emerge from this recession stronger than ever

    Let’s leave aside whether people actually feel more secure. Obviously there is pessimism and real hurt in the land. The critical question for the 2012 election is how well the Republicans are doing about this primary need for security. Their tactic, continued from the Bush era, is to increase our nervousness. The sky is always falling down on the right wing. An endemic problem like the national debt is blown up into a three-alarm fire right this minute. Not a single Republican, with the possible exception of Mitt Romney, offers a reassuring tone, and if the American public allows this lack to sink in, it will count.
    2. Achievement: Life needs to be productive, with a sense of meaning and accomplishment. For decades American achievement was a given; we led the world in accomplishments on all fronts, and American exceptionalism was recognized globally. Now the trend is against us. The rise of China and India, the loss of manufacturing at home, a sudden drop into permanent unemployment for millions of minority and older workers—all these factors make the public feel that the country isn’t moving in the right direction.

    Obama has been fulfilling this need by rooting for the American spirit (as every President must, some with greater or lesser success), promising a better future, and offering economic stimulus and jobs programs. He constantly points to a new future of innovation, restored infrastructure, stronger research and development and renewable energy. He doesn’t attack globalism but faces the fact that global competition means that change must come to America.

    Read more:

    • Ametia says:

      I saw Depak a few months ago, when he was visiting the Twin Cities. He definitely has a pulse on America’s psyche and spiritual maturity. I 100% agree with Chopra that the economy isn’t number one for Obama. You just can’t pick one thing and say, that’s it!

      The polls, media hype predicting the economy will be Obama’s saving grace is a meme they have been pushing since 2008, before his inauguration in 2009. they have been pumping it harder since 2010, and simultaneously watching the GOP OBSTRUCTIONISM on all fronts with jobs, raising debt ceiling, paying taxes, adnauseum.

      It’s a concerted effort to try and bring down PBO, but it will NOT work.

  54. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    August 29, 2011 8:35 AM

    Bachmann sees Irene as divine message on spending

    By Steve Benen
    Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann campaigned in Florida yesterday, attending services at a Baptist megachurch near Tampa. Afterwards, the right-wing lawmaker offered a rather unique perspective on the weekend’s weather developments. (via Jay Bookman)

    She hailed the tea party as being common-sense Americans who understand government shouldn’t spend more than it takes in, know they’re taxed enough already and want government to abide by the Constitution.

    “I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending

    I realize there are conservatives in evangelical circles with whom this message will resonate, but under sensible political norms, this should probably be a career-killer for a national political figure.

    Consider exactly what she’s saying here. A major storm swept through the East coast over the weekend, causing at least 20 deaths across eight states. Michele Bachmann, a member of Congress and a leading presidential candidate, believes the hurricane was a message from God? And that the deadly storm has something to do with Bachmann’s opposition to federal spending? And that God is somehow aligned with Tea Partiers’ agenda?

    This is just madness. Chris Wallace may be concerned that Bachmann is a “flake,” but anyone who thinks the federal budget prompted God to send a hurricane that killed 20 Americans has issues that far exceed flakiness.

    If the megachurch’s pastor had said the same thing, I’d think he was a nut. But the standards for Bachmann are much higher, since she’s an elected federal official who’s inexplicably seeking the presidency.

    If Bachmann is very lucky, her remarks will go largely unnoticed by the national media because the focus remains on the hurricane and its aftermath. But if reporters pick up on this, Bachmann’s reported remarks should effectively ruin her political ambitions.

    • Ametia says:

      “If Bachmann is very lucky, her remarks will go largely unnoticed by the national media because the focus remains on the hurricane and its aftermath. But if reporters pick up on this, Bachmann’s reported remarks should effectively ruin her political ambitions.”

      NOT! CNN Ali Velshi and the two bimbos this morning were saying Bachmann was just kidding, Even citing how the crowd was laughing with her. SMGDH

      so don’t look for CNN to call out this batshyt crazy statement by Bachmann.

  55. rikyrah says:

    Why Republicans Might Demand Hurricane Relief Be Paid For With More Program Cuts
    Brian Beutler | August 29, 2011, 6:15AM

    When a massive tornado obliterated the town of Joplin, Missouri earlier this year, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told reporters that if the disaster ultimately required the government to step in and provide aid, it would have to be offset by cutting spending on other federal programs.

    “If there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental,” he said, using the anodyne language of budget policy.

    Three months later, when a modest earthquake struck the town of Mineral, Virginia in his own district, and caused minor, but widespread damage along the eastern seaboard, Cantor upheld the standard. Congress, he said, “will find the monies” to help victims, but that “those monies will be offset with appropriate savings or cost-cutting elsewhere.”

    Now, in the wake of Hurricane Irene — a much costlier natural disaster — Cantor may make the same demand, which could touch off a bitter fight on Capitol Hill.

    “We aren’t going to speculate on damage before it happens, period,” his staff told me Thursday when I asked about the impending storm. “But, as you know, Eric has consistently said that additional funds for federal disaster relief ought to be offset with spending cuts.”

    This is a big problem. The budget is already stretched very thin, and even Cantor has asked his members not to provoke another fight about cutting spending beyond its already agreed-upon levels. And if clean-up costs reach into the billions, paying for it by cutting spending will damage other important services, despite the fact that the usual standard is to not use natural disasters as political bargaining chips.

    Three things are going on here by my count. First, Republicans have learned an obvious lesson since they retook the House — that they can control the agenda in Washington, and put popular government programs under attack, if and only if they have some leverage over Democrats to play along. The government shutdown fight in April was their first victory. The debt limit showdown was their piece de resistance.

    Second, there are political pitfalls to this approach, particularly when it requires Republicans to publicly stake out specific positions. Cutting government spending might focus group well, but privatizing Medicare does not, as Republicans learned quite painfully earlier this year. This augurs for slashing spending in nebulous ways — capping discretionary spending, and spreading the cuts out across myriad federal programs; or promising to “find monies” in the budget to offset new expenses. Death by a thousand, invisible cuts.

    Third, the right flank of the Republican party expects no less. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina devastated southern Louisiana, Cantor’s predecessor, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) claimed Republicans had pared discretionary spending back enough that federal aid could be financed with new debt. He came under attack from members of his own party and quickly reversed himself. Looks like Cantor learned his lesson.

    But it’s a difficult line to walk. Part of what made Republican victories in the shutdown and debt limit fights plausible was a logical veneer that doesn’t exist here. “We spend too much money on government programs,” Republicans basically argued, “so we won’t fund the government unless we impose discipline.” Another line was, in effect: “The national debt has skyrocketed, so we won’t allow the government to incur more of it unless steps are taken to hold down its growth.” When you drilled into these arguments, they crumbled, but at a glance they were quite plausible.

    That’s not the case after a natural disaster. And if there’s a loud cry for federal aid once the damage is assessed, Cantor’s position will probably prove unsustainable.

  56. rikyrah says:

    Monday Morning Open Thread
    by Anne Laurie

    Maureen Dowd, self-appointed Queen Bee Mean Girl of the Villagers’ lunchroom, is the perfect reviewer for Darth Cheney’s new book:

    Vice’s new memoir, “In My Time,” veers unpleasantly between spin, insisting he was always right, and score-settling, insisting that anyone who opposed him was wrong.

    His knife-in-her-teeth daughter, Elizabeth Cheney, helped write the book. The second most famous Liz & Dick combo do such an excellent job of cherry-picking the facts, it makes the cherry-picking on the Iraq war intelligence seem picayune…

    Vice gleefully predicted that his memoir would have “heads exploding all over Washington.” But his book is a bore. He doesn’t even mention how in high school he used to hold the water buckets to douse the fiery batons of his girlfriend Lynne, champion twirler.

    At least Rummy’s memoir showed some temperament. And George Tenet’s was the primal scream of a bootlicker caught out.

    Cheney takes himself so seriously, flogging his cherished self-image as a rugged outdoorsman from Wyoming (even though he shot his Texas hunting partner in the face) and a vice president who was the only thing standing between America and its enemies.

    He acts like he is America. But America didn’t like Dick Cheney.

    Say what you will about Joe Biden, at least he has an ethos a pulse.

  57. rikyrah says:

    Wanker of the Day: George Will
    by BooMan
    Sun Aug 28th, 2011 at 09:42:39 PM EST

    I’m not reading Dick Cheney’s new memoir (I’m not paying for it, anyway) but I know from George Will that the 565- page book contains no apologies for anything. My first thought is that, at 565 pages, no conservatives are going to read it either. If there’s one thing the health care debate taught me, it’s that the Republicans do not like to read anything longer than three pages. George Will thinks the former vice-president should apologize for sending our country to war under false pretenses. This is a small degree of progress. This isn’t some b.s. about ‘everyone thought he had W.M.D.’ as if that were the reason we invaded Iraq. This is much closer to the ‘Cheney Lied, People Died’ truth of the matter.

    “The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason [for invading Iraq],” [Paul] Wolfowitz was quoted as saying in a Pentagon transcript of an interview with Vanity Fair.

    The truth is that Dick Cheney convinced George W. Bush that Saddam Hussein had to go. I don’t think Dubya needed a whole lot of convincing. Those two made that one simple decision and then ran into the problem that they had no legal basis for waging a war of aggression. No legal basis meant no allies. The “reasonable” people in the Bush administration were successful in driving this point home, with a healthy assist from the Blair Government in London. Cheney counseled ignoring the United Nations and eschewing any allies. We didn’t need any excuses to kick some ass. Bush finally ruled against him and agreed that we would need some justification beyond hurt pride to invade a large oil-rich nation on the other side of the world. This is when everyone got together and decided to say that Saddam had a buttload of weapons of mass destruction and no qualms about handing them out to al-Qaeda. The Big Lie used to sell the war wasn’t a lie Dick Cheney originally wanted to tell. He just wanted to say Saddam Hussein was directly implicated in the 9/11 attacks, continued to mean to do us harm, and be done with it. George Will was perfectly willing to go along with that.

    GEORGE WILL (ABC 10/28/01): The administration knows he’s vowed, Hussein has vowed revenge, he has anthrax, he loves biological weapons, he has terrorist training camps, including 747’s to practice on…

    It was Cheney (and/or Cheney’s guys) who told George Will all that baloney. Did he buy it because he believed it (useful idiot) or because he’s a witting agent (as guilty as anyone)? I don’t know. All I know is that now he wants an apology.

    WILL: Five hundred and sixty five pages and a simple apology would have been in order in some of them. Which is to say, the great fact of those eight years is we went to war—big war, costly war—under false pretenses. And…to write a memoir in which you say essentially nothing seriously went wrong…if I wrote a memoir of my last week, I would have things to apologize for.

    George Will is right. He has plenty to apologize for. One of those things is acting like we’re stupid and irresponsible for not believing a word Dick Cheney has to say. How many people have died and how much money has been burned because Dick Cheney convinced the president that we had to do yet another land invasion in Asia? George Will should contemplate the magnitude of this error and compare it to the kind of small-ball bullshit he dedicates most of time to complaining about. He should also do a personal inventory over what mistakes he’s made and start making some amends. Dick Cheney made him look bad. He can start by apologizing to America for parroting Cheney’s talking points.

    • Ametia says:

      THIS: George Will should contemplate the magnitude of this error and compare it to the kind of small-ball bullshit he dedicates most of time to complaining about. He should also do a personal inventory over what mistakes he’s made and start making some amends. Dick Cheney made him look bad. He can start by apologizing to America for parroting Cheney’s talking points.

      Trust that Will, the useful GOP tool hasn’t learned anything from 2001. Not if he and the rest of the media are propping up gun-toting, bible-thumping Rick Perry or that batshty crazy Michele Bachmann.

  58. Ametia says:

    Beyonce Pregnant, Flaunts Baby Bump On VMA Red Carpet (PHOTOS)

    Yes, Lady B is with child and looking absolutely glowing. Bey just stepped out on the VMA red carpet in a chic orange sheath and posed cradling her new baby bump…

    … and if we had any doubts, MTV confirmed the news: MTV tweeted, “OMG Beyonce just made a huge announcement on the #vma carpet! #baby!!!!!” and posted a Twitpic with the evidence.

    Beyonce’s pregnancy confirmed by her reps to This will be Beyonce’s first child with hubby Jay-Z.

    See pics of the gorgeous mom-to-be below!

  59. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everybody! :-)

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