Happy HUMP day, Everyone! Let’s whip it up and help President Obama get that JOBLESS “MONKEY” off America’s back.
**The president will be joined in the Rose Garden by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Operation Officer David Chavern and workers who would be affected if Congress doesn’t act, a White House official said. Watch it live, 10:35 a.m. EDT/9:35 am CT here.
refresher on what happens when PBO addresses GOP
News Alert: Obama to address joint session of Congress on Sept. 8
August 31, 2011 9:35:01 PM
President Obama will address a joint session of Congress on Sept. 8 to lay out his plan for jobs and the economy, the White House announced Wednesday night. The date is one day later than the president requested earlier Wednesday, but that date conflicted with a scheduled debate of Republican presidential candidates, drawing objections from GOP lawmakers. House Speaker John A. Boehner responded by suggesting that Obama come to Capitol Hill on Thursday night, a date that now puts the president up against the first game of the NFL season.
For more information, visit washingtonpost.com
Rick Perry’s Do-Nothing Platform
Wed Aug 31st, 2011 at 05:07:24 PM EST
The Texas Tribune reviews Rick Perry’s book Fed Up! so you don’t have to read it yourself. It appears to me that Mr. Perry is a socially-conservative libertarian of the worst sort. He wants the federal government to do practically nothing and the federal courts to shut their collective pie holes. Yet, he’s concerned about cuts in defense spending; he wants the government investigating every failed pregnancy in the country; and he thinks Texas should be able put people on trial for sodomy.
If you’re polling the issues, Mr. Perry seems to be on the minority side of pretty much everything. He dislikes everything that the government does that people value and respect, and he supports the kinds of things people don’t want the government doing, like inspecting their underpants.
Ask him how he’ll protect Social Security and Medicare and he’ll tell you that he’ll dissolve those programs and leave it to the states to provide for the dignity of the elderly.
Ask him how he’ll improve schools and he’ll tell you that he’ll get the federal government out of your business and leave it to local governments to worry about education.
Ask him how he’ll prevent another financial catastrophe on Wall Street and he’ll tell you that he’ll get the federal government off Wall Street’s back, and then he’ll blame Fannie and Freddie for making loans to black people.
Ask him if CEO-pay is too high and he’ll say it’s none of our business.
Ask him about climate change and he’ll say it’s a scam carried out by unethical intellectuals.
I don’t think a majority of the people support any of these positions.
He’s going to run on a platform of ‘Elect me and I’ll do nothing except spend money on bombs and miscarriage investigations.”
Doesn’t strike me as a winner.
Watching Last Word. Some dude is predicting PBO 2012 winner.
ugust 31, 2011 3:55 PM
‘There is one president’
By Steve Benen
The media is making quite a fuss over the fact that President Obama intends to deliver his speech on the economy to a joint session of Congress at the same time as a debate for Republican presidential candidates. Today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney fielded questions from reporters who wanted to know if the president is trying to step on the GOP field’s toes.
“No, of course not. There were a lot of considerations that once you decide you want to do a speech to Congress, and you have to deal with congressional schedules and there are many other factors here. And obviously one debate of many that’s on one channel of many was not enough reason not to have the speech at the time that we decided to have it.
“[T]here are a lot of factors that go into scheduling a speech before Congress, a joint session speech. And again, you can never find a perfect time. There are major events that occur on television. There are other issues that you have to deal with, as well as congressional scheduling and the President’s scheduling. So as I just noted, there are many channels, there are many opportunities for people to watch the President, and obviously, an opportunity for people to watch the debate. The network involved here can decide how it wants to deal.”
“There’s one president,” Carney added. “There’s 20-some odd debates.”
Also of note from today’s briefing, Carney reminded reporters, “In normal times, the proposals [the president will put] forward next week would gain substantial, broad bipartisan support, especially in an economic situation like we face now.”
It’s helpful to remind the political world from time to time that our current circumstances — i.e., with a radicalized Republican Party running the House of Representatives — are anything but “normal.”
Pressed on fiscal considerations, the press secretary also noted that everything in the president’s agenda will be “absolutely paid for.” That’s a little disappointing — there’s free money sitting on the table — but not terribly surprising.
And in the “Worst Question” category, a reporter asked Carney, “Any concern of potentially upsetting Nancy Reagan by stepping on this?”
You see, next week’s Republican debate will be at the Reagan Library in California, so apparently the White House is supposed to be concerned about whether the president’s speech about the economy is going to hurt the former First Lady’s feelings.
For what it’s worth, rumor has it this afternoon that NBC will shift the timing of the debate so that it airs after the national address.
August 31, 2011 4:40 PM
Boehner to POTUS: How about Thursday?
By Steve Benen
A president can’t just tell Congress he or she wants to deliver a speech to a joint session; a president has to be invited. It is, after all, a separate branch. So when President Obama said today he intends to deliver his big economic speech to Congress next week, he was, in effect, asking for an invitation.
It’s generally just a formality. After all, what’s Congress going to say, “No”?
As it turns out, in an unusual response, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sent a letter of his own to the White House today. Apparently, Boehner doesn’t like Wednesday, and wants Obama to go with Thursday instead. Here’s the complete text of Speaker’s letter.
Dear Mr. President:
Thanks you for your letter requesting time to address a Joint Session of Congress next week. I agree that creating a better environment for job creation must be our most urgent priority. For months, the House has been implementing an agenda designed to reduce economic uncertainty, remove unnecessary government barriers to private-sector job creation, and help small businesses, and we welcome the opportunity to hear your latest proposals.
As your spokesperson today said, there are considerations about the Congressional calendar that must be made prior to scheduling such an extraordinary event. As you know, the House of Representatives and Senate are each required to adopt a Concurrent Resolution to allow for a Joint Session of Congress to receive the President. And as the Majority Leader announced more than a month ago, the Hose will not be in session until Wednesday, September 7, with votes at 6:30 that evening. With the significant amount of time — typically more than three hours — that is required to allow for a security sweep of the House Chamber before receiving a President, it is my recommendation that your address be held on the following evening, when we can ensure there will be more parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks. As such, on behalf of the bipartisan leadership and membership of both the House and Senate, I respectfully invite you to address a Joint Session of Congress on Thursday, September 8, 2011 in the House Chamber, at a time that works best for your schedule.
We look forward to hearing your ideas and working together to solve America’s jobs crisis.
Picking dates is, of course, pretty tricky, and it’s worth noting that the NFL season opener is Thursday, September 8. I would imagine the White House was cognizant of this when picking Wednesday.
I suppose it’s worth noting that Boehner didn’t exactly rule out the president’s request, but he did “recommend” the day after, and extended the formal invitation for the Speaker’s preferred day.
This only helps capture the larger farce: the parties are so far apart, they can’t even agree on when to schedule a speech. It’s not exactly a good sign.
I haven’t the foggiest idea what happens next, and/or whether Boehner is just trying to throw his weight around a bit. Will the White House say, “Thanks for the recommendation, but we want Wednesday”? And then what?
And if Obama accepts Thursday, will Boehner change his mind again and say, “You know what? Let’s make it Friday”?
For that matter, has there ever been an instance in which a president requested a joint session and the Speaker of the House replied, “Pick a different day”?
SMGDH Unfuckingbelievable. Hold the meeting with Dem senators and FUCK the GOP
Things You Didn’t Know Existed
J.C. Penney’s ‘Too Pretty To Do Homework’ T-Shirt Is Too Stupid for Words
By Jen Doll Wed., Aug. 31 2011 at 11:05 AM
J.C. Penney is now selling a T-shirt for girls aged 7 to 16 that says, unabashedly, across its front: “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.” Its sale price ($9.99 down from the original $16.99) seems to indicate that people may be too smart to buy into such girl-undermining messaging. The sales pitch with the tee reads, “Who has time for homework when there’s a new Justin Bieber album out? She’ll love this tee that’s just as cute and sassy as she is.”
J.C. Penney is not known for being all that in touch or with it, but this seems particularly egregious and Internet-rage worthy — and, as such, people are taking to Twitter to express their disgust. There’s an online petition against it circulating, too — currently it has 685 signatures.
My o My! You have been busy bees since i last checked in. This is fabulous.
I am lovin the Dennis K. controversy. Maybe we can get rid of that sucker for good.
This should kill his shot at grabbing a seat in the Seattle area. Thank someone for taking care of this.
I will call the bank and make a small donation. Times are a bit tough, but I want SG to know how special she is and how great your site is. huggggggggiiiiiiieeeeee!
Kucinich can’t help himself. To bad he only bit into that olive pit, huh.
As to sG2. She’s grateful to be alive and so appreciative for all the outporuing of love and support. So thank you, Dorothy.
Angelou Says MLK Memorial Change Makes Him Look Like “Arrogant Twit”
Last-second tweak forced designers to paraphrase civil rights icon’s “drum major” quote.
By Josh Voorhees | Posted Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, at 10:45 AM EDT
Maya Angelou has a beef with the designers of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. She says that a decision to paraphrase one of the two quotes that appear on the statue makes the civil rights icon look like “an arrogant twit.”
King delivered the full quote in question on Feb, 1968, two months before he was assassinated. “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice,” King told the congregation at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. “Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”
A late design change to the new monument that swapped the location of that quote with the other on the 30-foot-tall granite statue, however, forced the famous lines to be shortened to fit on the statue’s north side, the Washington Post reports. The inscription reads only: I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.
“The quote makes Dr. Martin Luther King look like an arrogant twit,” Angelou said Tuesday. “He was anything but that. He was far too profound a man for that four-letter word to apply.”
Angelou said that the paraphrase “minimizes the man” and “makes him seem like an egotist,” and that it should be changed to put it into context. “The ‘if’ clause that is left out is salient,” she said. “Leaving it out changes the meaning completely.”
The inscription on the statue’s south face reads: Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope. That line was originally planned for the north face of the statue, but was moved to the south side because it is the main theme of the memorial and designers wanted it to be on the side that visitors see first.
The memorial’s executive architect, Ed Jackson Jr., said that he ran the decision by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, as well as other historical advisers, and that no one had a problem with it.
“I think it’s rather small of folks to pick at things,” he told the Post. “This has been going on for 14 years, and all of them have had plenty of time to add their thoughts and ideas.”
Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to China, Mongolia and Japan in August 2011 was part of the administration’s dedicated effort to renew and intensify the U.S. role in Asia.
From establishing new channels of communication with Chinese leaders, to praising Mongolia’s 22 years of democracy, to expressing continued support for the recovery of longtime ally, and friend, Japan, the trip was a reflection of our belief that the U.S. is a Pacific power whose interests are inextricably linked with Asia’s economic security and political order.
Check out the video here:
on the floor of the intelligence chief’s office (in Libya) lay an envelope addressed to Gaddafi’s son Saif Al-Islam. Inside, I found what appears to be a summary of a conversation between US congressman Denis Kucinich, who publicly opposed US policy on Libya, and an intermediary for the Libyan leader’s son.
It details a request by the congressman for information he needed to lobby American lawmakers to suspend their support for the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) and to put an end to NATO airstrikes. According to the document, Kucinich wanted evidence of corruption within the NTC and, like his fellow countryman Welch, any possible links within rebel ranks to al-Qaeda.
The document also lists specific information needed to defend Saif Al-Islam, who is currently on the International Criminal Court’s most wanted list…..
Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 07:35 AM PDT.
Lawrence Wilkerson: Cheney fears “Someone is going to Pinochet him”
He’s developed an angst and almost a protective cover, and now he fears being tried as a war criminal so he uses such terminology as ‘exploding heads all over Washington’ because that’s the way someone who’s decided he’s not going to be prosecuted acts: boldly, let’s get out in front of everybody, let’s act like we are not concerned and so forth when in fact they are covering up their own fear that somebody will Pinochet him,” Wilkerson said alluding to the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested for war crimes.
That would be Augusto Pinochet, who spent the last years of his life under house arrest and died with 300 charges pending against him.
Wilkerson also says this:
“I can’t speak to the psychosomatic or the genetic problems with heart attacks or whatever, but I can speak to power,” Wilkerson said. “He wanted desperately to be president of the United States … he knew the Texas governor was not steeped in anything but baseball, so he knew he was going to be president and I think he got his dream. He was president for all practical purposes for the first term of the Bush administration.”
31 Aug 2011 02:18 PM
Mitt Romney Is Bad At Politics
by Maisie Allison
Jonathan Last counters Douthat, insisting that Romney is simply a “non-starter as a political commodity” because he has no core supporters.[rikyrah-haven’t I been saying over and over that the ONLY thing people are committed to when it comes to Mittens is that his checks clear?]
Relatedly, he’s not particularly good at winning elections:
[Romney has] a 17-year career average of 5-18. I don’t think you could find any other figure in politics who has run this far below the Mendoza line and still managed to get taken seriously as a presidential candidate. In fact, the only reason Romney gets taken seriously is his money. Strip away the $500M treasure room and the willingness to blow large chunks of his kids’ inheritance, and he’s Ron Paul without the ideological moorings and grassroots support.
Referring to Romney’s putative strategy against Perry, Scott Galupo adds:
You can practically hear the clanging and buzzing of Romney Robotic Manipulation technology…As in 2008, when he tried and failed to outflank Sen. John McCain’s right, Romney appears to think that he can run like a literary composite character. Yes, Rick Perry is eminently vulnerable to a Medi-scare campaign. And, at least among the conservative base, it would appear that Perry is disturbingly pragmatic when it comes to immigration. But, at this point in the history of U.S politics, it would be a highly unusual creature who could launch both attacks simultaneously.
August 31, 2011 12:35 PM
Obama to go big with jobs agenda
By Steve Benen
When it comes to President Obama’s new economic plan, to be unveiled next week, the three main questions are pretty straightforward: (1) what’s in it; (2) how much good will it do; and (3) what will Congress do to it.
But I’ve been curious about one other thing: where’s he going to deliver it?
The president has some options here. He could go with another White House address, maybe from the Oval Office. He could speak at a university or maybe a small business that benefited from the Recovery Act. I thought he might go with a town-hall meeting in a key swing state.
The location of the speech would send a signal about what to expect from the speech, and the significance the White House places in the speech. This announcement, then, tells us quite a bit.
President Obama has asked for a joint session of Congress on Sept. 7 to present his plan for jobs.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, Obama said it is his intention to “lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy.”
The letter to congressional leaders read as follows:
“Our Nation faces unprecedented economic challenges, and millions of hardworking Americans continue to look for jobs. As I have traveled across our country this summer and spoken with our fellow Americans, I have heard a consistent message: Washington needs to put aside politics and start making decisions based on what is best for our country and not what is best for each of our parties in order to grow the economy and create jobs. We must answer this call.
“Therefore, I respectfully request the opportunity to address a Joint Session of Congress on September 7, 2011, at 8:00 p.m. It is my intention to lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work, and putting more money in the paychecks of the Middle Class and working Americans, while still reducing our deficit and getting our fiscal house in order. It is our responsibility to find bipartisan solutions to help grow our economy, and if we are willing to put country before party, I am confident we can do just that. Thank you for your consideration.”
As settings go, this is in the swing-for-the-fences category. Presidential speeches to joint sessions of Congress are not for routine issues. And if Obama intended to aim low with his plan, throwing out a few tax credits and warmed-over ideas, he would not pick this venue*.
Put another way, major addresses before a joint session is no place for a timid economic plan. With that in mind, the president appears ready to go big, and I’m glad.
In the larger political context, it’s probably worth noting that a Republican presidential debate is scheduled for the same evening. I rather doubt the White House cared, but it should offer an interesting contrast.
LOL I’m going to pop plenty of popcorn for this show. POTUS addresses joint session the same night of the GOP debates. BWA HAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Secret files: US officials aided Gaddafi
Al Jazeera uncovers evidence that influential Americans tried to help the now-deposed Libyan leader cling to power.
The destruction by NATO airstrikes of Libya’s intelligence headquarters at the heart of Tripoli has transformed the once-feared building into a symbol of how Gaddafi’s regime has been all but toppled.
Guarding the compound are dozens of armed rebel fighters, some of them told me their friends and families went missing as a direct result of “intelligence” gathered by those who worked in the building.
It’s fair to assume that among the rubble and ransacked offices, are some of the darkest, deepest secrets of Gaddafi’s regime. I’m looking for files entitled “Lockerbie” or “IRA”, but the place is a mess.
I’m taken to the office of Abdullah Alsinnousi, head of Libya’s intelligence service and one of the Gaddafi regime’s most notorious and feared strong men.
Scattered on his desk are dozens of documents branded “top secret”, but the rebels accompanying me aren’t keen on me taking anything away. I find a folder titled “Moussa Al Sadr”, who was the founder of the Amal movement, the other main Shia party in Lebanon, who went missing in Libya over 30 years ago. Within seconds, the folder is taken by my minder who said none of these documents can leave the compound.
In the room adjacent to Sinnousi’s office is a bedroom with an ensuite bathroom kitted with a plush jacuzzi, an indication of the lush lifestyle led by the heads of the former regime. Sprawled on the bed a rebel fighter was taking an afternoon nap. The scene is almost surreal. “Gosh, how times change,” I whispered.
Communication with US officials
I managed to smuggle away some documents, among them some that indicate the Gaddafi regime, despite its constant anti-American rhetoric – maintained direct communications with influential figures in the US.
I found what appeared to be the minutes of a meeting between senior Libyan officials – Abubakr Alzleitny and Mohammed Ahmed Ismail – and David Welch, former assistant secretary of state under George W Bush. Welch was the man who brokered the deal to restore diplomatic relations between the US and Libya in 2008.
Welch now works for Bechtel, a multinational American company with billion-dollar construction deals across the Middle East. The documents record that, on August 2, 2011, David Welch met with Gaddafi’s officials at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo, just a few blocks from the US embassy.
During that meeting Welch advised Gaddafi’s team on how to win the propaganda war, suggesting several “confidence-building measures”, according to the documents. The documents appear to indicate that an influential US political personality was advising Gaddafi on how to beat the US and NATO.
Minutes of this meeting record his advice on how to undermine Libya’s rebel movement, with the potential assistance of foreign intelligence agencies, including Israel.
The documents read: “Any information related to al-Qaeda or other terrorist extremist organisations should be found and given to the American administration but only via the intelligence agencies of either Israel, Egypt, Morroco, or Jordan… America will listen to them… It’s better to receive this information as if it originated from those countries…”.
The papers also document Welch advising the Gaddafi’s regime to take advantage of the current unrest in Syria. The documents held this passage: “The importance of taking advantage of the Syrian situation particularly regarding the double-standard policy adopted by Washington… the Syrians were never your friends and you would loose nothing from exploiting the situation there in order to embarrass the West.”
found this comment over at The Obama Diary
Laughed at Gawker’s take on the timing of Obama speech: “Obama Goes Mean Girls On GOP Field” and saying to the whiners, “Have fun with your little JV debate club, bitches.”
August 31, 2011 1:55 PM
Cantor faces pushback on disaster aid callousness
By Steve Benen
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has been quite candid about his position on emergency disaster assistance: if Democrats want to help communities hit by a natural disaster, Republicans will block the aid unless accept comparable spending cuts.
There’s no shortage of problems here. For example, Republicans never felt the need to pay for wars or bailouts, but now they’re applying a new standard to storm-ravaged American communities. For that matter, Republicans never even applied this standard to natural disaster victims before President Obama took office. It doesn’t help that Eric Cantor personally sought federal aid for his own district after previous storms without regard for offsets.
Yesterday, Cantor faced some pushback from a high-profile ally: his own state’s conservative governor.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, breaking with fellow Republican Cantor, on Tuesday suggested that deficit-spending concerns should not be a factor as Congress and the Federal Emergency Management Agency respond to Hurricane Irene.
“My concern is that we help people in need,” McDonnell said during his monthly radio show. “For the FEMA money that’s going to flow, it’s up to them on how they get it. I don’t think it’s the time to get into that [deficit] debate.”
Before Irene hit, McDonnell had requested emergency help from FEMA in 10 districts, including Cantor’s. All the requests were granted.
We also learned today that Cantor was given a chance during the Bush era to vote for offsetting the costs of disaster relief — but Cantor voted against the same approach that he’s now pushing.
Paul Krugman, meanwhile, takes a look at Cantor’s demands and explains “just how bad an idea this is in terms of basic economics.” Krugman concludes, “[B]asic, regular economics says that Cantor isn’t making sense.”
For what it’s worth, Cantor has been rather firm on this, even repeating his demands on national television on Monday morning, but yesterday, his office hedged a bit, and the Majority Leader’s staff “suggested it was possible that disaster funds would not be offset.”
If Cantor backs down on this after taking a hard line, it’d be quite a development. Of course, if Cantor doesn’t back down, he runs the risk of looking like a monster, unconcerned with Americans’ suffering.
House Republican Bill Cuts Hurricane Monitoring Funds That Help Save Millions Of Dollars
By Pat Garofalo on Aug 30, 2011 at 11:50 am
In the wake of Hurricane Irene, which caused billions of dollars in damages up and down the U.S.’s eastern seaboard, House Republicans are callously claiming that any aid to victims of the disaster needs to be offset by budget cuts elsewhere. The savings favored by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) would come from cuts to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and first responders.
However, if House Republicans get their way, not only will recovering from the effects of Hurricane Irene be more difficult, but so will monitoring incoming hurricanes in general. As the Associated Press noted, the House Appropriations Committee has approved cuts to funding for “hurricane hunters” — military planes that fly into hurricanes in order to measure and track them:
Hurricane hunters – which are flying into Irene’s eye to feed forecasters vital information about the storm – could face big funding cuts under a budget proposal moving through the U.S. House.
Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat from Florida, wrote House Speaker John Boehner on Friday asking for a reversal of proposed cuts to the program under a bill that passed the Appropriations Committee. She said if the cuts go through, it would amount to a 40 percent drop in funding for hurricane hunter flights out of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. […]
Hurricane hunter planes fly directly into the storm to measure wind speed, barometric pressure and other data that the National Hurricane Center then uses to formulate its forecasts.
The cuts passed by the Appropriations Committee would take funding for these flights down from $29 million to $17 million, despite the fact that the flights help save a substantial amount of money.
Due to data from the hurricane monitoring flights, forecasts are 30 percent more accurate. Since it costs $1 million per coastal mile for evacuation and preparation when a storm approaches, every mile that is not evacuated yields substantial savings for taxpayers. Estimates put the savings due to monitoring flights at $100-$150 million per storm, far outstripping the $29 million budget dedicated to the hurricane hunters.
“[The] hurricane hunter program is worth its weight in gold,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). “They have gotten such accuracy in prediction, not only the strength of a hurricane but exactly its track. You cut back on those kinds of expenses, and that is really cutting off your nose to spite your face.” “These are very significant cuts. It would be a harmful step backward, just when hurricane predictions are improving,” added Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), who has pledged to propose an amendment restoring the cut funds when the GOP’s appropriations bill comes to the House floor.
Constituent Challenges Rep. Randy Hultgren On Citizens United; Hultgren Now Says He Wants Campaign Disclosure
By Lee Fang on Aug 31, 2011 at 11:25 am
Freshman Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) faced another testy town hall this week from upset constituents. At an event in Yorkville, Illinois, Hultgren was asked about his position on the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, and if he agreed with the legal doctrine that equates corporations with private individuals. Hultgren dodged the question mostly, and inaccurately claimed that there is “full disclosure” for donors to corporate-financed political spending groups:
CONSTITUENT: With Citizens United, where corporations give unlimited, undisclosed campaign contributions for political causes, political candidates and the Supreme Court ruled that Citizens United more or less said that corporations are considered an individual. And I’m just really concerned that special interest groups and lobbyists are running Washington and have the power to buy people. Its really a bad ruling, I’m really upset with it. […] Do you consider a corporation an individual?
HULTGREN: Uh, that’s a good question. Again with the Supreme Court decision I think, could be wrong, that there’s still full disclosure of who is giving the money–
AUDIENCE: No! […]
HULTGREN: I think the company still has to disclosure, we’ll take a look at it. […] What I have supported is full disclosure.
Hultgren says he supports full disclosure, but he remained quiet when an avalanche of secret corporate money elected him to Congress last year. Two powerful secret money groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Future Fund, ran ad campaigns against his opponent, incumbent Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL). Both the Chamber and AFF have refused to reveal their sources of money. The Chamber has acknowledged, following a ThinkProgress investigation, that it solicits foreign money into the same legal entity used to run partisan attack ads. (HT: Progressive Fox)
A Week After Hinting He May Raise Capital Gains Tax, Huntsman Proposes Eliminating It Altogether
By Travis Waldron on Aug 31, 2011 at 11:59 am
Last week, Republican presidential candidate and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) signaled in an interview with PBS NewsHour that as president, he would ask the wealthiest Americans to share in the sacrifice needed to reduce the nation’s debt and deficits. The next day, in an interview with Bloomberg’s editorial board, Huntsman hinted that he would consider treating taxes on capital gains and carried interest as regular income, two de facto tax increases that would primarily affect Wall Street investors, hedge fund managers, and those in the private equity industry. Sixty-eight percent of capital gains taxes are paid by the top 1 percent of American earners.
Just hours later, Huntsman campaign spokesman Tim Miller walked back those comments, saying Huntsman “does not support any policy that would increase the capital gains or carried interest rates.” Now, less than a week after the original comments, Huntsman has proposed a tax plan that would eliminate the capital gains tax altogether, Reuters columnist James Pethokoukis reports:
Huntsman says he would do the following:
1) Eliminate all deductions and credits in favor of three drastically lower rates of 8%, 14% and 23%.
2) Eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax.
3) Eliminate taxes on capital gains and dividends in order to eliminate the double taxation on investment.
4) Reduce the corporate rate from 35% To 25%. Huntsman would also shift to a territorial tax system and implement a tax holiday for the repatriation of foreign earnings.
The conservative argument against treating the capital gains tax as income is that it would discourage investment and slow economic growth, though as former White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities have noted, there is little evidence to back up those claims. Warren Buffett discredits the argument totally, saying he has “yet to see anyone…shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain,” even when capital gains tax rates were nearly 40 percent in the 1970s.
Taxing capital gains as normal income, as Huntsman seemed to support Friday, could bring in $38 billion in additional government revenue. By gutting the capital gains tax the way he has now proposed to do, Huntsman has effectively moved from asking the rich to share in the sacrifice to providing Wall Street bankers and corporations with humongous tax handouts, ensuring that once again, the only Americans Republicans are asking to sacrifice are those who can afford it least.
the GOP is bitching about the President’s address to Congress.
HA HA HA HA HA HA
I’m stocking up on the popcorn! LOL
August 31, 2011
Rick Perry and High Philosophy
Dana Milbank finds the fortitude to struggle through Rick Perry’s 2008 book, On My Honor: A Personal Compendium of Contemporary Ignorance and Religious Bigotry. (OK, I invented the subtitle — superfluously.) Notes Milbank:
Among the things Perry “deems” harmful: universities (students “have been taught that corporations are evil, religion is the opiate of the masses, and morality is relative”….
It is self-evident that some corporations are, and morality is, but I’d like to specially pause for Perry’s conventional distortion of Karl Marx’s observation — “religion is the opiate of the masses” — which habitually is loosely quoted, as well as quoted out of context. Here’s the German philosopher’s more complete, original version:
Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.
If one reads Marx widely, or merely skims his writings, the realization that he was a far better sociologist than economist rapidly sinks in. His insights into 19th-century Europe’s social tumult are often stunning in their originality and brilliant in composition — especially when juxtaposed with the sonorously dry economics of Das Kapital, which even Fidel Castro once confessed he was unable to finish. The above passage, though, beautifully mixes both disciplines. And in it, Marx is clearly sympathetic to religion as both an “expression” and “protest” of “real [economic] distress.” His was no high-handed denunciation of the masses’ ignorance; it was a recognition of real, material human needs, which were ignored by government authorities and complicitly sanctioned by finely robed sorcerers.
Implicit — to me — in Marx’s observation is that with socioeconomic justice could come a sensible return of, should we continue the metaphor, opium usage. His marvelous construct — “The demand to give up the illusion about [the people’s] condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions” — can be read in a way in which “illusion” refers only to the illusory here and now; which is to say that Marx, in this passage, anyway, does not deny at least the possibility of the metaphysical there and later. He’s merely saying that in conditions of vast socioeconomic inequality, the most fundamental precept of most organized religions (an afterlife) is a cruel co-conspirator of secular oppression.
Whatever. All I do know about a possible afterlife is this: If I ever slip into one and hear a “debate” between Karl Marx and Rick Perry, I’ll know I’m in heaven.
Commentary: Democrats need to stand up to tea party
By Leonard Pitts Jr. | The Miami Herald
I am pleased to report the sighting of an artifact so rarely seen among Democrats that it has become the stuff of legend and conjecture, like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. It is called a spine.
Said spine was briefly glimpsed a little over a week ago at a “jobs summit” in Inglewood, Calif. in the person of Rep. Maxine Waters. “I’m not afraid of anybody,” the California Democrat said. “. . . And as far as I’m concerned, the ‘tea party’ can go straight to Hell.”
Her words left the Tea Party Patriots sputtering about the need to play nice. “The president and all leaders of the Democratic Party, who have called for civility in the past, are neglecting to censure their own,” the group said, according to The Washington Post. “Is civility only required from their opponents?” Which is funnier than a Bill Cosby monologue, coming from the folks who turned town hall meetings into verbal brawls and threw rocks through windows because they opposed health care reform.
I intend no blanket lionization here of Rep. Waters, who is the object of a protracted ethics probe and whom I have for years privately dubbed “Mad Max,” in both consternation and admiration of her feistiness. Moreover, as hypocritical and self-serving as the Tea Party Patriots’ statement is, it is also correct: telling people to go to hell is about as uncivil as it gets. I could never, in ordinary times, applaud such conduct.
But no one will ever mistake these for ordinary times.
These are, rather, times in which the nation’s civic dialogue, the ordinary political business of give and take, has been made hostage to the whims of a loud, incoherent minority that has used its very extremism as a weapon. Seventy percent of us, according to a Gallup poll, think both tax increases and spending cuts ought to be used to reduce the budget deficit. That reasonable, balanced approach was not a part of the debt ceiling deal because the tea party threatened, credibly, to push the nation into default rather than allow it.
Republicans have been shamefully complaisant toward this behavior, unable to produce a stateswoman — or man — willing to stand up for the simple idea that one should put national welfare above ideological purity.
Democrats have been their usual hapless, communicatively-challenged selves, the congressional equivalent of the kid in school who walks around all day with “Kick Me” taped to his back, then wonders why people keep kicking him.
The need of a viable third party has seldom been more apparent. What is lost here, though, is not simply points for a given party but, rather, our very ability to compromise which is, after all, the soul of politics. Nor, obviously, will Waters’ intemperate remark do anything to bring that ability back.
But it does acknowledge a reality President Obama refuses to accept: Compromise requires a partner. When the other party’s bottom line is that you fail, when that is the opponent’s prime directive, the most important item on their agenda, then you lack both that partner and any basis for negotiation.
To put that another way: after you have reasoned with the bully, bargained with the bully, tried to appease the bully, sometimes the only remaining option is to punch the bully in the nose. That’s what Maxine Waters just did. Good for her.
Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/08/30/122398/commentary-democrats-need-to-stand.html#ixzz1Wd4iZEJb
Corporations to finance Michigan schools restructuring
By Eartha Jane Melzer | 08.31.11 | 11:27 am
Corporations will help the state pay a $1.6 million four-year compensation package for the head of the newly created statewide district for failing schools.
The Detroit News reports that former Kansas City School Superintendent John Covington has signed a contract with the Michigan Education Achievement System that includes a $175,000 signing bonus and a beginning salary of $225,000.
Sara Wurfel, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Snyder, said Covington would be paid with funding from a nonprofit. “Dr. Covington’s salary will be covered through a 501c(3) entity with a mix of public dollars coupled with primarily foundation, individual and corporate donations,” she said.
Mlive reports that the Education Achievement System board hired Covington without considering other candidates.
The Kansas City Star slammed Convington for looking for a new job without letting anyone know.
With the school year so new and plans just launched to expand a new learning approach in 10 schools, a departure now could distract teachers and jeopardize the district’s chances at remaining accredited.
Covington’s unwillingness to resolve differences offers a poor lesson for students and shows disrespect for a community that has wholeheartedly supported him in his short tenure.
His hasty departure should alarm his next employer
Warren Buffett’s Widening Rift With Republicans
QBy Andrew Frye – Aug 30, 2011 8:31 AM CT
Warren Buffett, the self-made billionaire and son of a former Republican congressman, has widened the rift with his father’s party by pressing for tax increases on the wealthy and reinforcing ties with President Barack Obama.
Buffett endured scorn from Republicans this month after he called the Tea Party approach to budget talks “insane” and proposed raising $500 billion by taxing the richest Americans. Buffett, chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), was cited as an exemplar by Obama at least three times since July.
“Whenever Buffett says something, you can almost put money on the fact that within the next 48 hours, Obama’s going to use the phrase, ‘My good friend Warren Buffett says blah, blah, blah,’” said David Rolfe, chief investment officer of Berkshire shareholder Wedgewood Partners Inc. “If you’re going to tread into those waters, you need to expect the brickbats.”
Buffett’s criticism contrasts with praise he offered in the last decade to former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the political appointees of former President George W. Bush. The Tea Party movement, which made gains in last year’s elections, was faulted by Buffett for silencing other Republican voices. Buffett plans to hold a Sept. 30 fundraiser in New York City for Obama’s re-election bid, Democratic officials said.
“He crossed the line from being an observer to being more of a participant,” said Jeff Matthews, author of “Secrets in Plain Sight: Business and Investing Secrets of Warren Buffett.” That, “to a lot of people seemed kind of weird and prompted a hostile reaction.”
By Devin Dwyer
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Aug 31, 2011 10:19am
Biden: Obama Has ‘Backbone Like a Ramrod’
Republican presidential contenders have hammered President Obama this week as a cautious and ineffectual world leader, insisting that he lacks — in the words of Michele Bachmann — a “titanium spine.”
But Vice President Joe Biden proved Tuesday he won’t let the attacks go unanswered, telling a crowd of campaign donors in Tulsa, Okla., that the president has “a backbone like a ramrod.”
“Presidential elections are about strength and character,” Biden said, according to press pool reports. “It’s the one race that’s measured different than any other in American politics. It comes down, in relative terms, to has the most strength and the most character.
“People knew Barack was really bright, they knew Barack was straight, they knew Barack was a different kind of politician. What they didn’t know was just how strong he was,” he said. “Republicans spent a lot of time trying to tag him as a follower, not a leader. Well, he’s put that to bed.”
Biden cited Obama’s gutsy decision to order a covert raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani compound as proof the president is a strong commander in chief. And he said Obama’s role in the debt ceiling debate was equally strong, brokering a deal with Republican leadership that ultimately fell to Tea Party intransigence.
“This is going to be the clearest-cut election,” Biden said. “This is going to be the clearest choice of where we want to be. These guys have laid it out where they want us to be. And we’re going to debate it. We’re not going to debate just in terms of, you know, a 30-second political ad. Paul Ryan laid out their budget. Their budget, over the next decade, eviscerates — eliminates — Medicare. They say it’s a voucher system. I call that eliminating it.”
Biden made the remarks at a private fundraiser at the Tulsa home of Dr. Stephen Adelson. Donations benefitted the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account that funnels money to Obama’s reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Federal Judge Restores Kansas Planned Parenthood Funds
| In another legal victory for Planned Parenthood, yesterday a federal judge ordered that Kansas restore federal family planning funds to the organization while the case is being appealed. Planned Parenthood said it would be forced to shut down its clinic in Hayes on Friday unless it learned this week when it would start receiving its share of federal funds again. On Aug. 1, the same judge, Thomas Marten, temporarily blocked Kansas from enforcing a budget provision stripping Planned Parenthood of much of its funding. However, the state did not release the money. Planned Parenthood also said that without the funding, its Wichita clinic would not be able to continue offering discounted services to low-income patients.
found this over at The Obama Diary:
August 31, 2011 at 10:05 am
This is in response to Proud of Obama’s comment and question on the “Wednesday” Thread.
Proud’s comment & question: Hey, TOD family. So I watched Morning Joke so I could harass them with tweets and there was a lot of conversation about how bad Rick Perry is. Donny Deutsch was on and he said he feels in his gut that something ugly and personal is going to come out about Perry. Joke was all over Perry’s letter to Hillary praising her health care efforts and about Perry having been a democrat. Sounded like the know this idiot cannot win in a general so they are trying to derail him now for Romney. We need to keep our sights turned on the plastic man Romney who is just as horrible as Perry. He just doesn’t have the accent.
What do you guys think?
Hey Proud I’m 100% with you. Rick Perry can do bad on his own, but there seems to be a concerted effort especially on Morning Joe to demolish him. I watch Morning Joe because that show sets up the talking points the repubs use all day. That show tells one a lot about the other side. It’s clear that even though they don’t particularly like Romney – they like Christie, Jeb Bush, and heck even Paul Ryan – they’re swallowing their disgust that he’s a Mormon, he’s charismatically anemic and doing all they can to make sure he ends up the eventual nominee. They way they ragged on Perry; espcially Joe was funny and yet disturbing. Joe lambasted him for not being a true conservative just a southern democrat who fled to the other side of the aisle for poltical reasons. He also lambasted Perry for writing a letter in 1993 that praised Hillary Clinton and her healthcare bill. When Donny Deustch (another rich white liberal with a blame President Obama complex because he’s took weak, he lacks a backbone, yadi yada yah) said that he feels something ugly, naughty, and personal is going to come out about Perry, I was like dude cool it; you’re sounding really sinister.
We really have to keep our eyes on Romney because the way he gets promoted on all these news channels is disturbing. They way they try to make Romney sound credible, sane, reasonable, a true visionary leader, someone who understands business and the economy like the back of his hand, someone who understands foreign policy is ridiuculous to people like us who know the real Romney and his so called business background, but to the average voter he sounds like the best thing since sliced bread. They showed a clip of Romney’s speech at the VFW and it reminded me of the Deepak Chopra article Chipsticks put up; where Deepak said that one of the differences between President Obama and the other side was that the other side preached fear, fear, and more fear. In his speech, Romney talked ad nauseam about himself. It was all Me, Me, Me. Then he went on to tell the Veterans that they should be very afraid of how America looks under President Obama. How on the foreign front we’re politically and militarily weak. That China, Russia, Japan, Germany and other countries are steadily rising up against us and we’re weak because all President Obama does is embark on apology tour after apology tour. He then said that even the Taliban, Al Quaeda, and Jihadists aren’t scared of America and that we’re forever in danger from the above mentioned countries and from terrorists. That we’re sitting ducks. Really??!!! Seriously?!!! The Morning Joe crew just nodded their head as if to say yep he’s 100% right. He’d make a better Commander-In-Chief and we’d be safer under him. They didn’t point out that under the Obama Administration, the above mentioned terrorist factions are more fractured and scattered than ever. That under the Obama Administration, we’ve eliminated more terrorist members and terrorist cells. That under the Obama Administration, OBL was eliminated, another terrorist who was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list was killed in Somalia, that the number two al Quaeda leader was killed in Pakistan. Nooooo they all peddled the meme that Romney was what we needed.
So yeah Proud, I totally understand what you mean when you say we have to keep our eyes on Romney and most especially on the GOP run media because they way they peddle him, you’d think he was Superman or something.
Saw it; and keep an eye on Huntsman too.
August 31, 2011 11:20 AM
Hey look, free money
By Steve Benen
With the yield dropping below zero on U.S. Treasury debt, it doesn’t really cost the federal government anything to borrow money. Sure, we have to pay the money back eventually, but as Ezra Klein explained very well yesterday, as a practical matter, the United States is being offered “free money.”
To put it mildly, this realization offers an extraordinary opportunity for federal officials to make necessary investments at a very low cost. We haven’t seen in a chance like this in a long while, and we won’t see it again anytime soon.
Usually, the U.S. government has to pay quite a bit to borrow money. In January 2003, for instance, the interest rate on a seven-year Treasury was about 3.6 percent, which gave investors a yield of more than two percent after accounting for inflation. Right now, the interest rate is 1.52 percent, or minus-0.34 percent after accounting for inflation.
Here’s what this means: If we can think of any investments we can make over the next seven years that have a return of zero percent — yes, you read that right — or more, it would be foolish not to borrow this money and make them.
The case is even stronger with investments we know we will need to make over the next decade. The economy will get better, and as it gets better, the cost of borrowing will rise. The longer we wait, in other words, the more expensive those investments will become.
In a sane political environment, this would be perceived as extraordinarily news. Indeed, policymakers should be pinching themselves with the good fortune — they know the nation has important investments to make; they know they’d prefer to keep borrowing costs to a minimum; and they know they’re effectively being offered free money. Washington can use that free money to create jobs and improve crumbling infrastructure, with the satisfaction of knowing it’s never been more cost effective to do so.
And yet, this won’t happen, for the same reason worthwhile measures nearly always don’t happen — Republicans have a direct role in the policymaking process, and their philosophy tells them public investments are “bad.” What matters, the GOP says, isn’t putting free money to good use, investing resources we’re going to have to spend eventually anyway; what matters is tackling the fiscal mess Republicans are largely responsible for creating.
And why does the GOP believe deficit reduction matters? Because their ideology tells them larger deficits lead to higher interest rates, which hold back the economy. This might be slight more coherent if interest rates weren’t below zero.
This is why we can’t have nice things.
August 31, 2011 10:10 AM
Romney, feeling the heat, makes time for the right
By Steve Benen
Sen. Jim DeMint (R), arguably the Senate’s most right-wing member, recently announced he will host a Labor Day event in his native South Carolina for all the leading Republican presidential candidates. It’s effectively a cattle call with one of Congress’ most influential far-right powerbrokers. Mitt Romney, whom DeMint endorsed in 2008, declined the invitation.
Around the same time, the Tea Party Express said it hoped Romney would participate in an event in New Hampshire, also on Labor Day. Romney remained uncommitted.
But all of a sudden, there are four national polls showing the former Massachusetts governor has ceded the frontrunner slot to Rick Perry, and wouldn’t you know it, Romney’s schedule has suddenly become far more flexible.
On Tuesday, Romney’s campaign announced that he would headline a tea party event in New Hampshire on Labor Day. Hours later, the campaign moved that event to Sunday in a different location and announced that he would attend a Labor Day forum in South Carolina hosted by tea party original Sen. Jim DeMint, an invitation Romney had previously turned down.
Perry is a favorite of the tea party, and those insurgent voters see Romney as a more establishment candidate.
The Romney campaign denied he decided to attend the DeMint event because of Perry’s strong poll numbers.
Perish the thought. This is just an example of a GOP presidential candidate who didn’t have time for his party’s right-wing base, and then suddenly changing his mind when the polls turned against him. It’s all just a remarkable coincidence that Romney’s availability happened to loosen up immediately after several polls showed he’s no longer the frontrunner.
In the bigger picture, it’s likely Romney hoped to keep his distance from folks like DeMint and the Tea Party Express as part of a general election strategy — he’s the electable mainstream candidate, not that guy pandering to extremists. And before Rick Perry got in the race, the strategy seemed plausible.
But that phase of the race is over. Now, “For some undefined but Texas governor-sized-and-shaped reason, Mitt Romney is suddenly very interested in attending tea party events.”
I can’t help but wonder, though, whether the outreach will make any difference. Romney is, after all, a former pro-choice governor who supported gay rights, gun control, immigration reform, and combating climate change, who distanced himself from Reagan, attended Planned Parenthood fundraisers, and helped create the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act.
Romney looks rather weak crawling to the far-right base for support. He may look even weaker if they reject him.
VIDEO: Rick Perry Flip Flops On Medicare, Claims He ‘Never Said It Was Unconstitutional’
By Scott Keyes on Aug 29, 2011 at 9:50 am
When Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) released his book Fed Up! in late 2010, one of his main critiques was that, over the past 50 years, the federal government has misconstrued the Constitution to establish “the massive programs of Medicare and Medicaid.” Now that he’s running for president, Perry is trying to sing a different tune on Medicare.
In an interview with the Daily Beast’s Andrew Romano, Perry explained why he thinks Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional:
I don’t think our founding fathers when they were putting the term “general welfare” in there were thinking about a federally operated program of pensions nor a federally operated program of health care. What they clearly said was that those were issues that the states need to address. Not the federal government. I stand very clear on that.
Yesterday, at a Polk County GOP fundraiser, the Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs asked Perry to further explain why he believes Medicare is unconstitutional. In a moment of amnesia, the Texas governor declared, “I never said it was unconstitutional.” Perry went on to state, “[t]hose that have said that I said [Medicare and Social Security are] unconstitutional, I’m going to have them read the book.”
JACOBS: You talked about Social Security, can you clarify why you think Medicare is unconstitutional?
PERRY: I never said it was unconstitutional.
JACOBS: Okay, so clarify your position on Medicare.
PERRY: I look at Medicare just like I look at Social Security. They’re programs that aren’t working and we ought to have a national conversation about it. Those that have said that I said they’re unconstitutional, I’m going to have them read the book. That’s not what I said. I said that we need to have a conversation, how are we going to have programs that actually work.
In Fed Up!, Perry explains on page 51 how Medicare is a misreading of the Commerce Clause. On page 48, he calls Social Security “by far the best example” of a program that “violently toss[es] aside any respect for our founding principles.” And on page 50, he says that we have Social Security “at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government.”
For Perry to claim that he “never said” Medicare and Social Security are unconstitutional is either a blatant flip-flop or a significant case of amnesia. In either case, with statements like these, one has to ask: has Rick Perry read his own book?
August 25, 2011, 5:52 pm Surgeon General Calls for Health Over Hair
By ANAHAD O’CONNOR
The United States surgeon general has a new message for American women: It is O.K. to have a bad hair day.
As the country’s leading spokespeople on public health, surgeons general often weigh in on issues of national importance like tobacco and disease prevention. But when the current surgeon general, Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, visited a trade show in Atlanta this month, it was to talk about what has become something of a pet cause: Too many women forgoing exercise because they’re worried it will ruin their hair.
“Oftentimes you get women saying, ‘I can’t exercise today because I don’t want to sweat my hair back or get my hair wet,’ ” she said in an interview. “When you’re starting to exercise, you look for reasons not to, and sometimes the hair is one of those reasons.”
The problem, Dr. Benjamin said, is that many women — particularly black women, like herself — invest considerable amounts of time and money in chemical relaxers and other treatments that transform naturally tight curls into silky, straight locks. Moisture and motion can quickly undo those efforts, with the result that many women end up avoiding physical activity altogether.
The trade show where she spoke, the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show, draws 60,000 hairstylists, including those who specialize in the styling needs of black women.
“I hate to use the word ‘excuse,’ but that’s one of them,” said Dr. Benjamin, the founder of a rural health clinic in Bayou La Batre, Ala., on the Gulf Coast. “We want to encourage people, and also give women the ability to look good and feel good and to be empowered about their own health.”
As the titular head of the Public Health Service, the surgeon general holds a largely ceremonial post, but it is not without its outspoken leaders and controversies. Dr. C. Everett Koop helped shift the debate over AIDS in the 1980s to respect for infected patients. A decade later Dr. Joycelyn Elders came under fire for broaching the topic of teaching about masturbation.
Today, some question Dr. Benjamin’s focus on such a “niche” issue.
“The role of the surgeon general is traditionally, and appropriately, to take on big issues,” said Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank. “I don’t know whether the surgeon general’s role is to engage in smaller issues like this. It strikes me as bizarre.”
Medical experts also note that grooming is only one of the many obstacles that can stand in the way of the treadmill. Juggling the demands of family, children and work — issues that transcend race — can make an hour of cardio seem like a luxury, and by the end of the day, “many women are just plain exhausted,” said Dr. Pamela Peeke, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and a spokeswoman for the American College of Sports Medicine. “I hear it from my patients all the time.”
But Dr. Benjamin and other researchers say that removing any barrier to physical activity is crucial to the health of American women, and in particular black women, a group that has a higher rate of obesity than any other demographic. According to government figures, nearly 50 percent of black women over age 20 are overweight or obese, compared with 33 percent of white women and 43 percent of Hispanic women.
When researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina sampled 103 black women from the area, they found that about a third exercised less because they were concerned it would jeopardize their hair. Of those women, 88 percent did not meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for physical activity, which is 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week, or about 20 minutes a day.
Dr. Amy McMichael, a professor of dermatology who led the study, said she had noticed over the years that some of her overweight patients would mention their hair when explaining why the gym was off-limits.
“Being an African-American woman myself,” she said, “I have to go through those same trials and tribulations when I exercise, so I started to realize that this is probably a barrier for many women.”
Dr. Benjamin, whose mother was a hairstylist, has visited the Bronner Bros. show two years in a row. She notes that studies have shown that black men and women are more likely to see a doctor and pay attention to their health when prodded by their barbers and hairdressers and that they see hairstylists as health ambassadors of sorts.
“When they have that customer in their chair they build up a rapport with them, they build up a trust,” she said. “We want them talking about health issues.”
Since being confirmed as surgeon general, Dr. Benjamin has begun new fitness initiatives, released a report on tobacco smoke and unveiled a new icon to replace the food pyramid. But it is her unusual stance on hair and health that is likely to garner the most attention.
Bachmann Tells Southern Voters She’ll Support Legislation To Stop The ‘Anchor Baby’ Problem
By Marie Diamond on Aug 30, 2011 at 3:00 pm
Late last week at a campaign stop in South Carolina, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) revived a debunked conservative talking point about so-called “anchor babies” — a derogatory term for the American-born children of undocumented immigrants who are full citizens under the 14th Amendment.
But Bachmann, who professes to revere the Constitution, suggested that these American citizens with foreign parents are somehow here “illegally” and that the “anchor baby” problem should be dealt with through legislation:
Bachmann, who was also asked about her position on illegal immigration, told the audience she thinks it is possible through legislation to stop the “anchor baby” problem of children born to mothers living illegally in the United States. When that happens she said, “A whole new set of implications arise for the United States. I do not believe that the American taxpayer should be paying benefits to people who are in the United States illegally.”
Presumably the legislative remedy Bachmann is referring to is the Birthright Citizenship Act, an unconstitutional bill that Bachmann co-sponsored in the previous Congress. The 14th Amendment provides that “[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States . . . are citizens of the United States,” with a narrow exception for children of ambassadors and other people who aren’t subject to U.S. law. Bachmann’s bill openly defies this constitutional guarantee by declaring that the children of undocumented immigrants no longer enjoy birthright citizenship.
Additionally, there is, in fact, no “anchor baby” problem. The term reflects conservative paranoia that women come from different countries and intentionally give birth in the United States to try to “anchor” themselves in this country. As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) once put it, “People come here to have babies. They come here to drop a child. It’s called ‘drop and leave.’”
As many experts have pointed out, this is a baseless and senseless concern — only 9 percent of undocumented immigrants had children shortly after arriving, and undocumented parents with American children have no easier path to citizenship and are still subject to forced deportation. That’s a pretty flimsy anchor.
Nevertheless, conservatives are going to extraordinary lengths to punish undocumented immigrants through harsh legislation. Bachmann appeared at the event with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) and Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC), two conservatives who the Washington Post points out have been able to use their own race as a cover to go after immigrants while avoiding accusations of racism.
The Rick Perry Primer
Perry Lifetime Contributors by economic sector:
House is in session for minutes a day, to thwart Obama
Freshman Rep. Jeff Denham, a Republican from Atwater, Calif., will briefly sit in a very special chair Tuesday for a several-minute skirmish in a long-running war.
By presiding over a ridiculously short House session, Denham is helping his fellow Republicans block President Barack Obama from making appointments while Congress is in recess. It’s a bipartisan tactic, as are the recess appointments it’s designed to frustrate.
“Stopping the president from bypassing the constitutional screening process and making a unilateral appointment is one way that I can ensure … accountability to the people of California,” Denham declared Monday.
To do so, Denham will gavel in a new House session at 10 a.m. For the moment, he will be called House speaker pro tempore. Since he will probably be the only House member in the chamber, Denham will recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The House chaplain will say a short prayer. A brief announcement may be made.
Then, Denham will bang the gavel bringing the session to an end. Just by holding the session, Congress isn’t considered to be in recess. No recess means no recess appointment.
The whole maneuver won’t take long. The House wrapped up its Aug. 19 session in under seven minutes. On Aug. 16, the Congressional Record shows, the House session lasted four minutes.
“It could last four minutes,” Denham’s press secretary, Allie Brandenburger, said Monday, “but those four minutes are critical for the next four years. … Rep. Denham believes we must do all we can to stop these recess appointments.”
Denham was already on the East Coast Monday, making the quick trip to Capitol Hill relatively painless. By Tuesday afternoon, he’s scheduled to be flying west so he can throw out the first pitch at a 7:05 p.m. Modesto Nuts baseball game Tuesday night.
Denham is playing his role in an old fight in which the parties keep switching sides depending on the offices they control.
The Constitution grants the president the power to appoint judges, ambassadors and other personnel when Congress is in recess. The recess appointees claim their positions without Senate confirmation, and can serve until the Congress adjourns. At most, this means two years.
President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, made 139 recess appointments during his eight years in office, according to the Congressional Research Service. President George W. Bush, a Republican, made 171 recess appointments.
Bush, for instance, used his recess appointment powers to name a member of the Federal Election Commission, a deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration and an ambassador to the United Nations.
Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/08/22/121595/california-lawmaker-will-wield.html#ixzz1WcMYwYga
Christine O’Donnell Re-Invited To Iowa Tea Party Rally Featuring Sarah Palin
According to a chagrined tea party leader, Christine O’Donnell will once again be a belle at the movement’s ball for Sarah Palin this weekend.
The Delaware News-Journal reports the Iowa-based Tea Party of America re-invited O’Donnell to speak at its Saturday event in Indianola, Iowa after booting her from the list of speakers.
On Twitter late Tuesday, O’Donnell wrote she has “humbly re-accepted the re-invitation.”
What happened? From the News-Journal:
“We panicked,” said Ken Crow, president and co-founder of Tea Party of America.
After news spread across the Internet that O’Donnell had been dumped by the same tea party movement that catapulted her to victory last September over Rep. Mike Castle in the GOP Delaware Senate primary, tea party leaders had a change of heart and re-invited O’Donnell.
“We’re making room for her,” Crow told The News Journal late Tuesday. “We welcome her and look forward to hearing her speech.”
“We’re grass-roots people,” Crow explained to the paper. “We’re
not professional political operatives.”
August 31, 2011 8:35 AM
Optimism vs. pessimism
By Steve Benen
Several months ago, Politico noted that many Republican voters, especially in the activist base who’ll help choose the GOP presidential nominee, “have a dark, foreboding feeling that America is in decline.” Leading Republican candidates are keenly aware of these attitudes, and will be eager to speak to these voters’ sense of dread, “tailoring their rhetoric to tap into a fear that is apocalyptic in tone.”
That was in March. Nearly six months later, the GOP field has no use for hope, and has decided to push a message of dread and dismay.
Looking for a bit of optimism about the future? Hoping for a quick psychological pick-me-up amid the economic downturn?
Don’t tune in to the Republican presidential candidates.
As they reach for the sharpest contrast they can find with President Obama, the Republican presidential hopefuls are sounding anything but hopeful. On the trail, they are painting an increasingly gloomy picture of the nation they want to lead.
I haven’t the foggiest idea how this resonates with the American mainstream. On the one hand, the public is frustrated and in a deeply sour mood. It’s not unreasonable to think miserable voters might connect well with candidates who speak of nothing but misery. When folks are depressed, do they want to hear about optimism and sunshine?
On the other, it seems at least as likely the public may not want to hear would-be leaders wallowing in despair. As the NYT’s Michael Shear noted in his piece, “Too much talk about gloom and doom could turn off voters who are tired of feeling worried…. It’s easy to fill a stadium full of excited supporters with a rallying cry that suggests things will get better. Wooing supporters with depressing news is a tougher sell.”
This could prove to be an interesting angle to the 2012 race.
Whenever this subject comes up, the conventional wisdom generally tells us we’re supposed to think of Ronald Reagan, since “optimism” was a key element of his appeal. It was fundamental, we’re told, to understanding his entire persona — the former president had an infectious, unyielding optimism.
I tend to think much of this is just hype and p.r., but the myth has endured to the point that it shapes coverage of presidential campaigns. The media scrutinizes contenders based on their capacity to be the “optimistic” candidate.
And campaigns take this seriously, too. In 2004, one of the first big general-election ad buys from the Bush/Cheney camp was for an ad that quoted the then-president saying, “I’m optimistic about America because I believe in the people of America.” A voice over said John Kerry was “talking about the Great Depression. One thing’s sure — pessimism never created a job.”
I wouldn’t be surprised if President Obama tried to take advantage of this, too. In his debt-reduction speech in April, he took on Paul Ryan’s House Republican budget plan from a variety of directions, but he specifically noted, “I believe [the Republican plan] paints a vision of our future that is deeply pessimistic.”
It’s a compelling charge. Not only are Republicans miserable about the present, they’re also presenting a dour vision of the future, with the elderly, low-income families, students, small businesses, and struggling communities all left to fend for themselves.
Republicans, in other words, aren’t merely wrong. They’re also lacking in optimism and a can-do spirit. Or to borrow some cliches, Obama still believes, “Yes, we can,” while his GOP detractors still want Americans to accept, “No, we can’t.”
If an underlying theme of the 2012 race is optimism vs. pessimism, I suspect President Obama would welcome the campaign dynamic.
Obama Pushes Back Against GOP On Regulatory Costs
Susan Crabtree | August 30, 2011, 12:42PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday pushed back against GOP charges that he is saddling the nation with costly and overly burdensome regulations. In fact, Obama argued, he has led the way in trying to reduce the federal government’s regulatory costs on individuals and businesses across the country.
In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Obama said his efforts to reduce the government’s regulatory burden will save $10 billion over the next five years, adding that he hopes to find billions more in additional savings. Earlier this year, Obama issued an executive order imposing a series of requirements designed to reduce burdens and costs and called for a government-wide review of rules now on the books.
“A mere fraction of the initiatives described in the plans will save more than $10 billion over the next five years,” Obama wrote. “As progress continues, we expect to be able to deliver savings far in excess of that figure.”
But Boehner has taken issue with the net impact of Obama’s anti-regulatory push, arguing that the administration has at least 219 planned regulations in the works.
“I was startled to learn that the EPA estimates that at least one of its proposed rules will cost our economy as much as $90 billion per year,” Boehner wrote Obama in a letter late last week. “The administration has not disclosed how many of the other 218 planned rules will cost more than $1 billion, nor identified these rules.”
Boehner’s letter also asked the administration to provide Congress with a list of all newly proposed regulations with a projected economic impact of at least $1 billion.
“This information is of great relevance to the American people, who face so much uncertainty about these new regulatory costs,” Boehner wrote.
After highlighting his efforts to ease government regulations, Obama listed seven new regulations that would each cost the U.S. economy more than $1 billion a year, but cautioned that they were still under review and he and his staff will “give careful consideration” to cost-savings.
Of the seven, Obama said, four are proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules and three are Department of Transportation rules. The proposed EPA regulation to which Boehner referred is a pending air-quality standard decision.
During the Bush administration, the EPA’s decision to lower the ozone standard faced severe criticism from environmentalists and liberal activists who argued the weaker regulation would pose a risk to human health. Last year the EPA said it would revisit the issue, but the Obama administration has already missed multiple deadlines to change the standard, and amid an ongoing economic crisis, faces intense pressure from business organizations to leave it alone — at least for now.
The EPA has tried to offset the costs of the stricter ozone standard by offering other, more incremental rule changes aimed at saving money, including more dependence on electronic communications rather than paper, which would save roughly $126 million each year.
August 31, 2011 8:00 AM
The right call on mandatory sonograms
By Steve Benen
One of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) top policy priorities of the year ran into trouble yesterday, when a federal judge found most of it unacceptable.
A federal judge on Tuesday blocked key provisions of Texas’ new law requiring a doctor to perform a sonogram before an abortion, ruling the measure violates the free speech rights of both doctors and patients.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks upheld the requirement that sonograms be performed, but struck down the provisions requiring doctors to describe the images to their patients and requiring women to hear the descriptions.
The law is an example of Big Government Conservatism at its most offensive. To hear Republicans tell it, the GOP’s line on health care is straightforward: the party wants government to steer clear of the doctor-patient relationship, and certainly has no use for bureaucrats making medical decisions and imposing care instructions based on some kind of ideological agenda. For that matter, it’s important, Republicans say, for politicians to appreciate growing health care costs, and not mandate unnecessary medical procedures.
The Republicans’ sonogram measure in Texas ignores all of those principles, forcing government into the examination room and empowering state officials to make a medical decision, while imposing care instructions based on an ideological agenda.
Indeed, under this Texas law, women would not only have to receive a sonogram whether it’s medically necessary or not, but medical professionals would be forced to tell their patients, against their will, what Republican policymakers want the patients to hear. Doctors who refused could face criminal penalties and the revocation of their medical license.
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit, and yesterday, Judge Sparks blocked most of the law. He noted, among other things, that the state cannot compel physicians to “advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen.”
The court ruling will, of course, be appealed. In the meantime, though, it’s a victory for reproductive rights and a legal setback for the Republican presidential frontrunner.
Sweet New Machine
Tue Aug 30th, 2011 at 11:36:00 PM EST
So, I finally received my hurricane-delayed MacBook Air today. Thank you all very much for your contributions. You’ve made me very happy and CabinGirl very jealous. She even waged a Facebook campaign to have this computer turned over to her for her enjoyment. It’s a really nice piece of equipment. I particularly like the backlit keyboard and faster internet loading time. It’s super lightweight and slick looking. And you can run Apps on it, which might or might not turn out to be a timesink for me. They actually gave me $100 worth of free Apps just to try to get me hooked. What’s the difference between Apple and a crack dealer?
There’s only one problem. I can’t really find anything I want to write about at the moment. Do I really want to grab at Politico’s bait and explain to them that Rick Perry doesn’t inspire panic on the left? He’s extremely radical. That’s precisely why he isn’t too awe-inspiring. The Republicans haven’t produced a plausible president. If this were 2004, it would be like Joe Lieberman was the great hope of the Washington Establishment but that he was struggling to match Maxine Waters’s level of support and trailing Dennis Kucinich badly. I don’t think the Bush/Cheney campaign would have been very worried, even with 9% unemployment.
Is it fair to compare Rick Perry to Dennis Kucinich? On one level it’s not. Perry’s experience as the chief executive of Texas probably trumps Kucinich’s experience as the Mayor of Cleveland. But if you want a candidate who holds positions that are considered out of the mainstream and on the far side of their party’s wing, Perry and Kucinich match up quite nicely. On most issues, I happen to agree with Kucinich, but I also recognize that the country isn’t very liberal and if I wanted to govern America, I’d have to moderate my platform. Rick Perry doesn’t realize that the country isn’t all that conservative and that they won’t elect some bum who thinks their Social Security check is evidence of a crime against the Constitution.
They call Social Security the Third Rail of American politics for a reason. Anyone who touches it is immediately burned to a crisp. That’s why Bush got nowhere when he tried to privatize the program in 2005. He’d destroyed any mandate he had for a second term before Hurricane Katrina put the nails in his coffin. But Rick Perry isn’t just saying he wants to change how the program is designed. He’s saying that the program should be destroyed because it is against the law. He says the same for Medicare. Serious candidates who expect to win don’t espouse views that the American people will reject out of hand and with extreme prejudice. If George McGovern was the candidate of Amnesty, Abortion, and Acid, then Perry is going to be the candidate of Abortion, Austerity, and Automatic Weapons.
A vanishingly small percentage of the public agrees with his extreme positions on religion, entitlements, or federalism. On religion, for example, a study by Profs. David Campbell and Robert Putnam recently found that the country is increasingly uneasy with the Christian Right.
So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.
More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.
This inclination among the Tea Party faithful to mix religion and politics explains their support for Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. Their appeal to Tea Partiers lies less in what they say about the budget or taxes, and more in their overt use of religious language and imagery, including Mrs. Bachmann’s lengthy prayers at campaign stops and Mr. Perry’s prayer rally in Houston.
Yet it is precisely this infusion of religion into politics that most Americans increasingly oppose. While over the last five years Americans have become slightly more conservative economically, they have swung even further in opposition to mingling religion and politics. It thus makes sense that the Tea Party ranks alongside the Christian Right in unpopularity.
Add to this the the obvious way in which Rick Perry’s speech, style, and swagger call to mind the utterly clueless and disastrous presidency of Bush, and you have the perfect candidate for Obama.
Perry’s positions and persona do unite the left in opposition, but that’s only icing on the cake.
Did I say I didn’t want to write about this? Well, with the sweet new machine, I had to write about something.
August 30, 2011 04:00 PM
Longer Skirts and No Coffeemakers: How Gov. Scott Walker Wants WI School Boards to Save Money
By Susie Madrak
Instead of union contracts, Wisconsin teachers now have to abide by local handbooks suggested by Gov. Scott Walker. What does refusing to allow workers to help a sick colleague or longer skirts have to do with saving money? And just listen to the nasty wingnuts in the audience at the New Berlin school board meeting. Via the Blue Cheddar blog:
The “tools” Walker has handed to local governments are supposedly meant to help cut costs. However the changes to the New Berlin school workplace approved August 29 don’t look like mere cost-savings to me. New Berlin Education Association President Diane Lazewski agrees in MJS: “I would be surprised to see any other handbook as punitive as ours,” I should note that all details aren’t available until 9/8 and changes occur 10/1 according to a document from the blog Teachers Against Walker
Update: This 51 page Draft of School District of New Berlin Employee Handbook – Parts A and B states that it goes into effect 9/1/11
A few of the changes:
–A ‘sick bank’ which allows teachers to donate sickleave to seriously ill colleagues will be eliminated.
–No set pay for overtime; only stipends
–Elementary teachers work an added 205 hours without added pay.
–Secondary teachers work an added 95 hours without added pay.
and there are odd restrictions such as
–Dress Code: Skirts below knee, no sweatshirts, no jeans, no large logos, no open shirts, etc. and
–The loss of all microwaves, refrigerators, and coffeemakers.
I called a young teacher, E., from Racine just before the meeting. E. said New Berlin’s handbook is the worst of a new crop of handbooks he’s seen. Handbooks now serve in lieu of contracts for public school employees where contracts have expired.
E. says: “This turns back the clock. It keeps teachers on call until 5PM for I.E.P meetings (Individualized Education Programs). This is eating into the time of people. Making them do more work for less money”. More details are HERE.
E. pointed out that clearly not all school boards are heavy-handed. The Shorewood School Board has opted for a collaborative approach to its handbook.
I gathered through tweets the meeting attracted 500-600 people, with incoming drivers having to park very far away. At the very beginning of the meeting, the board met privately for a time, sending complaints of undemocratic process and even illegal meeting practices through social media [claims I have not checked into.] I got conflicting reports on the composition of the crowd. A MJS reporter tweeted that there was a 50% pro-handbook and 50% anti-handbook audience.
A mass of anti-teacher residents booed and catcalled the teachers and their allies while they gave public testimony. And I’ve now seen three reports via social media that candy pacifiers were used to taunt teachers – supposedly an idea of the Queen of mean radio ranters, Vicki McKenna.* According to WEAC, at least 3 other right wing tak radio personalities called for citizens to oppose teachers: Belling, Wagner & Charlie Sykes.
He’s being so polite. He’s a Nobel Prize Winner. I still remember watching some of his confirmation hearings, and seeing the GOP idiots thinking they could intellectually ‘ hang’ with him, spouting their bullshyt. it’s ok, Secretary Chu, we understand…
you don’t get how they could be such complete fucking idiots.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu: ‘It Saddens Me’ That Political Leaders Don’t Understand Climate Science
By Stephen Lacey on Aug 30, 2011 at 4:17 pm
In order to be a viable Republican presidential candidate in 2012, denying the science of climate change is a must. With all the leading candidates attacking basic science in varying degrees, it’s not a surprise that our Nobel-Prize-winning Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, believes science education should be one of the nation’s top priorities.
In a speech this morning at the National Clean Energy Summit, Chu outlined three major policy needs to “move aggressively” to develop clean energy — with science and energy education being on the top of his wish list.
Although climate change did not actually come up in his speech, Chu spoke to Climate Progress afterward and lamented the manufactured political “debate” over climate change, saying that “it saddens me. And I think as a scientist you have to re-double your efforts.”
Steering clear of anything political when asked whether the GOP’s anti-science platform scared him, Chu simply used the opportunity to explain the basic physics of climate change, adding “it’s not rocket science.”
America, Chu says, is the only place in the world where there’s an actual “debate” over climate science. He blamed the confused political situation largely on the fossil fuel industry, which, he says, has been effective in sowing doubt and “who have an interest in seeing that action isn’t taken. This reminds me exactly of what we saw in the tobacco industry.”
His remarks came from separate audio and video interviews at the National Clean Energy Summit.
It doesn’t take an accomplished physicist and Nobel Prize winner to notice that something is wrong. But at a time when uttering the word “climate” in Washington is anathema, it’s a good thing we have someone leading the Energy Department who isn’t afraid to talk about the issue.
Gaspard reaches out
Obama team summons blacks
By THRUSH & WILLIAMS | 08/30/11 10:10 AM Updated: 08/30/11 10:30 AM
Here’s a nugget from today’s story on President Obama’s relationship with black leaders:
Hoping to head off the dispute before it becomes a larger 2012 headache, Obama and his team are ramping up outreach efforts. On Monday Democratic National Committee executive director Patrick Gaspard and Obama 2012 official Michael Blake convened a meeting and conference that included Roland Martin, veteran operative Donna Brazile, Urban League President Marc Morial a representative for the NAACP’s Ben Jealous and Hilary Shelton of the group’s D.C office.
And the president will address the mid-September Congressional Black Caucus Foundation conference, a person familiar with the situation told POLITICO.
Constituents Chide Freshman Rep. Herrera Beutler For Holding Zero Town Halls During August Recess
By Travis Waldron on Aug 30, 2011 at 7:30 pm
Freshman Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) has decided against holding public town halls during the August recess, instead choosing to hold community meetings at coffee shops throughout the district. The coffee meetings, however, have not been publicly listed on Herrera Beutler’s Congressional web site, nor has the schedule been made available for the press.
Herrera Beutler’s office claims five meetings have been held but that they aren’t listed publicly because “a coffee shop can only accommodate so many people.” But Herrera Beutler’s constituents are upset that she isn’t holding public town halls, The Columbian reports:
“I’d love to talk to her about the debt limit,” said Jan Watson, a high school teacher in Rochester. “I’d like to have her listen to people. In a town hall, when somebody asks a question and the person responds, you can get a real good fact check by the groans. That gives a real indication that your comment isn’t quite right or isn’t reflecting the community.”
Watson said she encourages her students to attend politicians’ town hall meetings so they can experience democracy up close.
“The real underlying reason this congressional district has not seen public meetings is that the congresswoman is aware enough of the real world to understand that Congress, in general, is not held in high esteem,” said Tom Shofner of Kalama in an email. “If we add to that her allegiance to the far right, … she just doesn’t feel at home any more in this area, I think.”
The only other meetings Herrera Beutler has held are telephone town halls, but constituents are not invited to call in to those. Instead, they receive a phone call on their home phones asking if they have a question. “If you are home and pick up the phone, you can participate,” Herrera Beutler’s spokesperson said. The representative, however, provides no notice for when the calls may come.
Herrera Beutler isn’t the only member of Congress to avoid town halls during recess, particularly as Republicans seek to avoid answering for the political brinksmanship that nearly caused the country’s default and led to a downgrade of America’s credit rating. Representatives have avoided scheduling events, only to relent under protest from constituents, while others have charged attendees to ask questions, banned recording devices, and put constituents who have asked questions before on a watch list.
Herrera Butler has only held two town halls since taking office in January, but her campaign assured The Columbian that more were coming. But as of the article’s publication, no future events have been scheduled.
GOP are CHICKENS. Rep Beutler does not want to be held accountable for holding an elected office and not serving contituents as he promised. Folks are beginning to wake up and smell the stench of these LIARS, CROOKS, AND THEIVES.
Hurricane Cost Seen as Ranking Among Top Ten
By MICHAEL COOPER
Published: August 30, 2011
Hurricane Irene will most likely prove to be one of the 10 costliest catastrophes in the nation’s history, and analysts said that much of the damage might not be covered by insurance because it was caused not by winds but by flooding, which is excluded from many standard policies.
Industry estimates put the cost of the storm at $7 billion to $10 billion, largely because the hurricane pummeled an unusually wide area of the East Coast. Beyond deadly flooding that caused havoc in upstate New York and Vermont, the hurricane flooded cotton and tobacco crops in North Carolina, temporarily halted shellfish harvesting in Chesapeake Bay, sapped power and kept commuters from their jobs in the New York metropolitan area and pushed tourists off Atlantic beaches in the peak of summer.
Andre Carson: Tea party wants blacks ‘hanging on a tree’
By JAKE SHERMAN | 8/31/11 7:50 AM EDT
A top lawmaker in the Congressional Black Caucus says tea partiers on Capitol Hill would like to see African Americans hanging from trees and accuses the movement of wishing for a return to the Jim Crow era.
Rep. Andre Carson, a Democrat from Indiana who serves as the CBC’s chief vote counter, said at a CBC event in Miami that some in Congress would “love to see us as second-class citizens” and “some of them in Congress right now of this tea party movement would love to see you and me…hanging on a tree.”
Carson also said the tea party is stopping change in Congress, likening it to “the effort that we’re seeing of Jim Crow.”
The explosive comments, caught on tape, were uploaded on the internet Tuesday, and Carson’s office stood by the remarks. Jason Tomcsi, Carson’s spokesman, said the comment was “in response to frustration voiced by many in Miami and in his home district in Indianapolis regarding Congress’ inability to bolster the economy.” Tomcsi, in an email, wrote that “the congressman used strong language because the Tea Party agenda jeopardizes our most vulnerable and leaves them without the ability to improve their economic standing.
“The Tea Party is protecting its millionaire and oil company friends while gutting critical services that they know protect the livelihood of African-Americans, as well as Latinos and other disadvantaged minorities,” Tomcsi wrote. “We are talking about child nutrition, job creation, job training, housing assistance, and Head Start, and that is just the beginning. A child without basic nutrition, secure housing, and quality education has no real chance at a meaningful and productive life.”
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0811/62396.html#ixzz1WbvJ04bb
Obama picks Atlantan to lead Southern region campaign
By Associated Press
For the AJC
The man who orchestrated Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s campaign has been tapped to help President Barack Obama win the South in 2012.
A spokesman for Obama for America says Tharon Johnson has joined the campaign as the southern regional director and will be “a key part to building the organization” in the area.
Obama did not win Georgia in 2008, and the only southern states he did win were Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.
Johnson, who ran Reed’s 2009 campaign and later served as his senior adviser, also spearheaded campaigns for former Georgia Labor Commissioner Mike Thurmond and U.S. Reps. John Barrow and John Lewis. He later worked for both congressmen.
Johnson was raised in Athens and is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University.
In January, Johnson resigned as senior adviser to Reed to accept a position as a partner for Piedmont Public Affairs, one of Georgia’s leading government affairs firms. There, he lobbied on local and state governmental issues. He was hired by Georgia’s supermarket lobby to represent it during this year’s legislative debate over the bill to authorize Sunday alcohol sales referendums.
Johnson recently joined McKenna Long as a senior adviser.
Reposted from Tuesday Open Thread from SG2:
I want to thank everyone for your thoughts, prayers, words of encouragement, love and donations during my major crisis. Much love to my darling friends Ametia, RIkyrah, Myth and my 3chics family for your love and support. Ametia, your a very precious gift from God! I am so lucky that God allowed our paths to cross. The same for Myth and Rikyrah as well! I am so grateful to Aquagranny and CC, Dorothy, Dannie, GGail, Majii and others for helping out Ametia while I pull my life together! Thank you guys from the bottom of my heart! RIkyrah, I cannot begin to tell you what a joy it was to hear your sweet voice on my voice mail! RIkyrah has the most soft spoken voice ever! It brings tears to my eyes speaking about the outpouring of love from you wonderful people! I am so lucky to have met you all! It will be awhile before I can get things back on track. To my darling, CC…I am still reminding myself, behind every dark cloud is sunshine! Much love to Ametia and her wonderful husband! I am going to leave you guys with this….The scripture says when you find a friend, you have found a good thing! SG2 have found a good thing! I am so lucky!
Tell, SG that I’m praying for her and that I plan to send her something myself, but that I can’t until the around the middle of Sept. Nevertheless, let her know that I haven’t forgotten about her and I pray that all she has lost is returned to her twofold.
Pelosi: “Imagine. Imagine that they are protecting tax cuts for the top 2%, but it’s really more, higher than that, lower than that, I mean, a higher percentage of people excluded from who they are looking out for, and it’s a stunning thing, because it’s a few people amassing money that doesn’t really make a difference in their quality of life. I decided what it was about them is this, this is my theory, what more do they want? They have a number of homes, the bigger the yacht, da da da da da, the taller the mast, the whole thing, they have museum quality art, and I decided, if in fact they are advocating for this, which I’m not sure they are, I think Republicans just like to have that position. They want immortality. ”
“They want so much money that their names are all, for prestige they could never get any other way, they could buy with endless money. Because what else could you possibly want? That you would say ‘I want this at the expense of the middle class, of our democracy, of fairness, of clean air, clean water, food safety, public education and the rest of it, clean air, clean water, food safety, reform on Wall Street, protection for citizens, you name it, forget about it. They are de-funding every initiative in that regard, you wonder, do their children breathe air, do they drink water, why do they not care? But they don’t. But they don’t. ”
” When we won the election in 06’, and we came in, the first day, in the first 100 hours we raised the minimum wage. It was the first time the minimum wage was raised in eleven years. I bring that up for this reason, it wasn’t kept down because people just, you know, small businesses said ‘I can’t afford”, it was kept down for a purpose, it was kept down for the purpose that people would not be able to live on that, they’d have to borrow, against home equity loans, against their mortgages, there this and that, they’d have to live on credit cards, and what are they doing when they do that, their paying fees to the banks, their paying fees to them, so it’s a contrived dependence on private credit for millions, tens of millions of working people in our country, and who they are is who they bring to that table, protect the tax breaks for the wealthiest people in our country, do not allow wages to rise with productivity, keep people dependent on paying fees to banks for the use of their own money, for the use of their own money. So this is as progressive a fight as we have ever been in.”
CRASH & BURN MOFO
Rick Perry, by the book
By Ruth Marcus, Published: August 30
Rick Perry is no George W. Bush: This is not a compliment.
Perry’s 2010 Tea Party-steeped manifesto, “Fed Up!,” makes George Bush look like George McGovern. Perry has said he wasn’t planning to run for president when he wrote the book, and it shows:
●The Texas governor floats the notion of repealing the 16th Amendment, which authorized the federal income tax. Perry describes the amendment as “the great milestone on the road to serfdom” because it “was the birth of wealth redistribution in the United States.”
Raise your hand if you believe, as Perry suggests, that it is wrong to ask the wealthiest to pay a greater share of their income than the poor.
●He lambastes the 17th Amendment, which instituted direct election of senators, as a misguided “blow to the ability of states to exert influence on the federal government” that “traded structural difficulties and some local corruption for a much larger and dangerous form of corruption.”
Minorities become a majority in Washington region
By Carol Morello and Ted Mellnik, Published: August 30
Washington is among eight big-city metropolitan regions in which minorities became a majority in the past decade, according to a new analysis of census data showing white population declines in many of the largest metro areas.
Along with Washington, the regions surrounding New York, San Diego, Las Vegas and Memphis have become majority-minority since 2000. Non-Hispanic whites are a minority in 22 of the country’s 100-biggest urban areas.
The white population shrank in raw numbers in 42 of those big-city regions. But every large metro area showed a decline in the percentage of whites.
The shifts reflect the aging of the white population as more people get beyond their childbearing years and the relative youth of the Hispanic and Asian populations fueling most of the growth.
“What’s happened is pivotal,” said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution who conducted the analysis. “Large metropolitan areas will be the laboratories for change. The measures they take to help minorities assimilate and become part of the labor force will be studied by other parts of the country that are whiter and haven’t been touched as much by the change.”
Good Morning, Everyone! :-)
Good Morning, Everyone :)