Serendipity SOUL | Saturday Open Thread

Happy Saturday!  It’s Whitney Houston week.  Enjoy  Rminder:  PBO speaks in Columbus, Ohio today.  WHERE ARE THE JOBS, SPEAKER BOEHNER?

Whitney Elizabeth Houston (born August 9, 1963) is an American R&B/pop singer, actress, motion picture producer, and former fashion model. Houston is the most awarded female act of all time, according to Guinness World Records,[3] and her list of awards include 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010. Houston is also one of the world’s best-selling music artists, having sold over 170 million albums and singles worldwide.[4][5]

Inspired by several prominent soul singers in her extended family, including mother Cissy Houston and cousins Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick, as well as her godmother, Aretha Franklin, Houston began singing with New Jersey church’s junior gospel choir at age 11.[6] After she began performing alongside her mother in night clubs in the New York City area, she was discovered by Arista Records label head Clive Davis. As of 2011, Houston has released seven studio albums and three movie soundtrack albums, all of which have diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold certification.

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31 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Saturday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Why ‘Infrastructure’ Should Be Sexy: Lessons from Uganda, Russia, and China
    By James Fallows

    Sep 9 2011, 8:42 PM ET
    I mentioned yesterday that the passage I liked best from Obama’s “pass the jobs bill / pass it right away” speech was his discourse on “infrastructure.” Yes, that most boring of words, which applies to all the equipment and investment that collectively distinguish first- from third-world countries.

    A reader who has traveled in Africa sends this note:

    If I had the power to snap my fingers and immediately grant every young person in “red state” America a week’s vacation in Uganda, I would do it.

    [After a trip there] my wife and our two teenage children and I came back “changed” in many ways and one of the most significant ways was that we no longer take for granted the vast and complex “infrastructure” of our own country.

    Particularly with younger voters, Obama and the Democrats would be wise over the next 14 months to continually “re-educate” these voters about the national educational, transportation, scientific and social research, health, safety, energy, communication, natural and wildlife preservation, legal, social justice, national security, law enforcement, etc. “infrastructures” that are all so crucial to the individual prosperity and opportunity available, however unevenly, to all the citizens, of this great country.<<

    We usually hear this message in the form of “Holy Moley, look what the Chinese are doing!” It’s also worth considering it in the grimmer version of “here is how it looks if you just let everything run down.” (Or, for most Westerners who have actually spent time in China, “here is how it looks if you let the smokestacks belch out full blast, and can’t keep toxic chemicals out of the water or the food supply.” At right, scene from Inner Mongolia, as described here.)

    Further on the theme of letting things run down, here is a message from another reader about the terrible (and not yet fully explained) crash that killed all members of the Russian Lokomotiv hockey team this week. Emphasis added

    While reading an AP article on the tragic crash of a Russian airliner carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team, I zeroed in on the part speculating that the crash may have been caused by technical problems.

    “The cause of Wednesday’s crash was not immediately apparent, but Russian news agencies cited unnamed local officials as saying it may have been due to technical problems. The plane was built in 1993 and belonged to a small Moscow-based Yak Service company.

    In recent years, Russia and the other former Soviet republics have had some of the world’s worst air traffic safety records. Experts blame the poor safety record on the age of the aircraft, weak government controls, poor pilot training and a cost-cutting mentality.”

    I’ve read enough of your articles to know that it’s way too early to jump to conclusions about the cause of this crash, but if Russia does have a poor record on flight safety due to lax regulations, it kind of makes you wonder if this is where we are heading in the U.S., particularly on the cost-cutting mentality.

    I’m able to put up with the TSA, cramped cabins, poor service, extra fees, lack of food and etc. that has become the hallmark of modern commercial air travel, knowing that airlines (and our government) wouldn’t skimp on safety.

    However, with congressional budget fights over FAA funding and with intense pressure on airlines to be profitable, should we be concerned about the potential Russification of system?

    It is worth remembering and re-emphasizing: the kinds of investments Obama was talking about constitute real wealth for a country, and their lack means real squalor, even though they are “public” wealth rather than belonging to anyone in particular. An obvious point but one now often unmentioned or overlooked.

  2. rikyrah says:

    September 10, 2011
    Tomorrow’s ‘re-wallowing’

    Dick Cavett:

    Have you, perchance, decided — as I have — not to spend the weekend re-wallowing in 9/11 with the media?

    Yes I have, Mr. Cavett, and not merely perchance.

    Mine is a powerful aversion to rank opportunism and camouflaged incompetence. You note that “the worst feature of this relentlessly repeated carnival of bitter sights and memories is that it glamorizes the terrorists” — that “they must enjoy tuning into our festival of their spectacular accomplishments.” I, however, reserve “the worst” for what you find secondarily offensive: “allowing Saint Rudolph … to trumpet once again his self-inflated heroism on that nightmare day.”

    Which, I see in the network lineups, he will do again tomorrow on both “Face the Nation” and “Fox News Sunday.” Joining him on these retch-worthy occasions will be Donald Rumsfeld, a stupendous swindler whose pre/post/contemporaneous-9/11 thinking is and shall forever be stuck in the 12th century.

    The networks will devote reels of footage to W.’s standing on rubble, vowing virtuous revenge. Given far less coverage, if any, will be of the Bush administration’s consistently pornographic response to 9/11: its fecklessness in Afghanistan; its butchery of Iraq; its drainage of the public treasury; its clandestine unconstitutionalism; and perhaps worst of all, its permanent stain of torture, plastered on America’s honor.

    The tragic depths of 9/11 itself will always be not altogether fathomable. The terrorist mind is both frighteningly psychotic and immensely rational, which almost guarantees a befuddled response to it. Yet ours was almost equally psychotic while being significantly less rational. And that, of course, only deepened the tragedy of 9/11 — much of which, on its 10th anniversary, will be swept aside.

  3. rikyrah says:

    A State by State Look at the American Jobs Act
    Posted by Mori Rothman on September 09, 2011 at 05:13 PM EDT

  4. rikyrah says:

    How Michelle Obama learned to love tennis

    September 9, 2011 10:36PM

    First lady Michelle Obama exercises a lot to stay in shape, but her main sport is tennis, a game she is passing on to daughters Sasha and Malia. During a visit to New York on Friday to promote her “Let’s Move” anti-obesity program at the U.S. Open, Mrs. Obama talked about how she came to love the game, even though there were not a lot of tennis courts in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood where she was raised.

    Said Mrs. Obama, “Now, I’m probably like the average kid. I didn’t — I grew up in the city, on the South Side. And there were not a lot of tennis courts around. So I really didn’t get exposure to the sport until after law school, when I just sort of picked it up and started playing with some friends. And it’s the kind of sport that you just develop a passion for. And I’m not really good or anything like that — that’s the beauty of tennis. You don’t have to be good to enjoy it, because I love the game and my skills are very questionable.

    “But that’s one of the reasons why I introduced the sport to my kids early on, because it’s the kind of thing that — it’s great for kids because it gets you moving. It keeps you focused. You’ve got to move your muscles. You’ve got to be quick. You’ve got to be strong. Gets those arm muscles going, gets your heart pumping. But it’s a sport you can do forever. I mean, that’s one of the beauties. I know people in their 90s that are still playing tennis, and I want to be one of those people. I want my daughters to be some of those people. And I want all kids around the country to have access to opportunities and to get some exposure to sports like tennis so that you guys figure out what your loves are.” Lynn Sweet

  5. rikyrah says:

    Teachers’ union chief: Emanuel ‘exploded’
    Published: Sept. 10, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    The head of the Chicago teachers union says Mayor Rahm Emanuel cursed at her during a discussion of a longer school day, a sign of how emotional the issue is.

    Union President Karen Lewis told the Chicago Sun-Times about the meeting several weeks ago as Education Secretary Arne Duncan ended a “Back To School” bus tour of the Midwest in Chicago. Duncan, at a meeting Friday with teachers and officials, supported higher salaries for teachers, the Sun-Times said.

    “I think we need to double salaries for teachers. We need to start them at a much higher level,” Duncan said.

    Lewis said in her meeting with Emanuel the mayor described lengthening the day as a safety issue, not an education one, telling her children should not be on the streets in mid-afternoon. When she accused him of using schools to “warehouse” children, she said, he “exploded,” saying “f— you, Lewis.”

    Read more:

  6. rikyrah says:

    The Shakedown at the King Monument
    The builders of the memorial paid almost $800,000 to the King family to use his words and pictures.

    By: Charles E. Cobb Jr. | Posted: September 6, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    The builders of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial at the National Mall had to pay $761,160 for the right to use King’s words and images, according to financial documents obtained by the Associated Press. The money went to Intellectual Properties Management Inc. — a foundation controlled by King’s youngest son, Dexter. Another $71,000 was paid out in a “management fee” to the family estate back in 2003.

    I hope I’m not the only one who found the opening of this monument soured by what could be considered extortion. In any case, I’m especially ticked off, perhaps because I was an activist and organizer in the Southern freedom movement of the 1960s.

    I cannot know this for sure, of course, but I doubt that the family of the murdered John F. Kennedy would charge a fee to a group organizing to place a memorial to him on the National Mall. As historian and King biographer David Garrow told the AP, “I don’t think the Jefferson family, the Lincoln family [or] any other group of family ancestors has been paid a licensing fee for a memorial in Washington.”

    I agree with Garrow that King himself would be “absolutely scandalized” by this kind of pimping of his life and work. When it comes to King’s books or published essays, no one would quarrel with the ownership rights of his descendants. But public speeches? His image? His name?

    The use of King in a celebratory, nonprofit manner as we see on the Mall? There is perhaps some gray area in the use of his image — for example, the minting of King “silver” dollars that we see advertised for sale on late-night television. But the memorial hardly falls into this category.

    When work on the monument began in 2009, Intellectual Properties Management explained its fee as compensation for contributions to the King Center in Atlanta that might be lost in the fundraising process for the monument: “Many individuals believe all King fundraising initiatives are interrelated and don’t donate to the King Center, thinking they have already supported it by donating to the memorial.”

    Although the National Park Service said that, to its knowledge, no one had ever before charged such a fee, Harry E. Johnson Sr., president and CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, said the fees were not a burden (out of $120 million raised) and that the foundation has a good relationship with the King family. “We just want to build the memorial,” said Johnson, a Houston lawyer. “The memorial we are building will be the people’s memorial and will belong to the people of the United States.”

    The King children have long tried to make a buck off their martyred dad, demanding money even when his name is invoked in celebration. In the 1990s, the King children sued USA Today and CBS News for broadcasting their father’s “I Have a Dream Speech” without payment. They won; a court declared the speech a “performance” and, thus, subject to copyright laws.

    I will not denounce the trivializing of King’s remarks that this decision reflects, but I must note that the King children have sold the right to use that speech in commercials to Alcatel, a French telecommunications giant.

    In case you’re wondering how that speech could be used, the answer is found in the tagline to the commercial, after a shot of King at the Lincoln Memorial in which the March on Washington crowd has been electronically removed: “Before you can inspire, before you can touch, you must first connect. And the company that connects more of the world is Alcatel, a leader in communication networks.”

    In 1999 the Library of Congress was set to purchase King’s papers for an unprecedented $20 million; King’s family demanded that they retain copyright control, and the library had to reject that requirement. When King’s nephew Isaac Newton Farris was CEO of the King Center, he demanded payment from a small company that put King and President Obama together on a T-shirt. Farris is now the president of King’s old organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

    More than once, the King children have fought among themselves. In July 2008, Martin Luther King III and Bernice King filed a lawsuit against Dexter King, accusing him of improperly taking money from the estate of their late mother and transferring it to the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. Inc., of which Dexter serves as president. It was settled out of court in October 2009.,1&wpisrc=obnetwork

  7. Rikyrah

    The bank sent me your precious letter. ***tears*** You are so sweet & so kind! Thank you for everything from the bottom of my heart. I cannot express enough in words how grateful I am. And thank you for what you do for 3 Chics. You’re as loyal as they come. 3 Chics is so lucky!

  8. rikyrah says:

    Eric Cantor Offsets Disaster Relief With a 40% Cut To First Responders
    September 10, 2011
    By Jason Easley

    As expected, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is set to demand spending cuts in exchange for disaster relief. The surprise is that he wants to cut the budget for training and equipping first responders by 40%.

    Politico reported that Cantor is going to demand more “spending offsets” in exchange for disaster relief,

    But a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) signaled late Friday that the GOP is likely to insist on offsets for the $500 million in emergency funds Obama requested for 2011, while dealing with the 2012 funds under a new set of rules agreed to as part of the August debt accord.

    “The House has passed $1 billion in disaster relief funds that is fully offset, which we will look to move as quickly as possible,” she said. “There will be no delay in meeting the president’s request and providing people the aid they need.”

    Think Progress noted that cuts that Cantor is eyeing come in the form of additional slashes to the Homeland Security budget for training and equipping first responders. Cantor wants an additional 40% cut, on top of the 19% hit that the first responder budget already took this year. Rep. Cantor wants to make sure that in the event of a disaster or terrorist attack America has fewer first responders, and that the remaining first responders do not have the equipment that they need.

    The hypocrisy is that Cantor and his fellow Republicans never demanded spending offsets during the Bush administration. In 2004, George W. Bush pushed for a 10% increase in the Homeland Security budget, and as a member of the House majority, Eric Cantor did not oppose the additional funding. In 2003, Cantor supported an additional $78 billion in “emergency” war spending for Iraq and Afghanistan with no spending offsets required.

    Eric Cantor never asked for dollar for dollar cuts to pay for the Homeland Security budget and two wars, but yet he is demanding dollar for dollar spending cuts for disaster relief and FEMA. The fact that he is cutting first responders demonstrates that these cuts aren’t about spending.

    This isn’t even about small government. In the past many of the slashes to the budget for training first responders were in the form of grants to state and local governments to train first responders. Ideologically, Cantor’s position is that there should be no federal involvement in disaster relief and first responders, but what he looking to slash are programs that benefit state and local preparedness.

    Majority Leader Cantor and his office don’t want the American people to know that they are eyeing up gutting the funding for training and equipping first responders. This is why they publicly will only refer to the cuts as spending offsets. They don’t want to tell the American people that spending offsets is really code for slashing the budget for training and equipping first responders.

    Republicans talk a good game about protecting the American people, but when it comes to actually following through, the Cantor and the GOP slip back into their de facto motto of Politics First.

  9. rikyrah says:

    The American Jobs Act Highlights The Difference Between The Two Parties
    September 10, 2011
    By Paul Yeager

    President Obama laid out a specific and detailed jobs bill, the American Jobs Act, that would not add a dime to the national debt and would immediately help the unemployed, the poor, and the middle class, along with giving a laundry list of tax deductions to job-creating small companies to promote hiring.

    And it’s all doomed because of four key words that will stop even modest approval for the intractable Republicans: asking large corporation and the rich to “pay their fair share.”

    That will, undoubtedly, be the reason that the bill is destined to die on the vine, but it is a good example of the difference between the parties.

    Obama, and presumably the majority of Democrats, support (based on the President’s speech):

    Extending unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed
    Extending payroll tax cuts to the poor and middle class
    Providing tax incentives for small businesses to hire the long-term unemployed
    Providing tax incentives for small businesses to hire veterans
    Provide a summer jobs program for students
    Rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure of the nation
    Build a fuel-efficient mass transit system
    Put more teachers back in the classrooms
    Invest in school buildings

    Republicans stand for:

    Keeping loopholes open in the tax code that effectively allows the rich and large corporations to pay an inordinately small amount of taxes
    Further lowering taxes for the rich and large corporations
    De-funding social security, Medicare, and Medicaid

    The Republican protests will be framed as taxing the job creators, too much government intervention, and adding to the national debt; however, it all comes down to those four little words.

    We need to remember a few words of own, with elections fast approaching: What do you believe in?

  10. rikyrah says:

    GOP Reps. Dismiss Tax Cut For Working Americans In Favor Of Giveaways To Corporations

    By Alex Seitz-Wald on Sep 9, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Despite their professed devotion to tax cuts, a surprising number of Republican lawmakers are less than thrilled with President Obama’s proposed extension of temporary cuts to the payroll tax as part of his jobs package unveiled last night. While the tax holiday for middle- and working-class Americans is one of the most effective ways to stimulate the economy via tax policy, these conservative lawmakers prefer tax breaks go to those who need them least: corporations and the wealthy.

    For instance, Tea Party firebrand Rep. Allen West (R-FL) rejected a payroll tax holiday completely on Fox Business last night, saying it has already been tried and that we should “cut this corporate tax rate” instead. Also on Fox Business, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) said he had a problem with the payroll tax holiday because it goes to “people who are already working.” But in the next breath, Gingrey called instead for a tax break for corporations who have kept money overseas. Watch it:

    These supply-side tax cuts do little to help the economy or create jobs, as has been shown time and again, because wealthy people tend to save extra money instead of spend it. When Congress passed a tax repatriation holiday in 2004, as Gingrey wishes they would again, it had none of the intended employment benefits. Corporations merely pocketed their low-taxed repatriated billions and subsequently laid off thousands of workers.

    Corporations are not lacking cash, thus, a tax cut, which is aimed at freeing up more money to allow them to expand their workforce, would do little help unemployment. In fact, companies are sitting on trillions in cash, yet are still refusing to hire, as this CNN chart demonstrates:

    A payroll tax holiday is clearly an idea that should appeal to Republicans, who claim that cutting taxes and regulations is the only path to economic prosperity. But as they have repeatedly demonstrated in their opposition to payroll tax holidays, it is only a certain type of tax cut they are really interested in — those for the wealthy and corporations, not the middle- and working-class Americans who are the primary beneficiaries of the payroll tax holiday.

    This morning, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, dismissed the payroll tax holiday as an act of “class warfare.” He seems to be proving himself correct.

  11. rikyrah says:

    The GOP and Their Job Creators Personify Einstein’s Definition Of Insanity
    September 10, 2011
    By Rmuse

    There are myriad manifestations of insanity and although there are no single recognized or consistent causes, it is generally accepted that environment, genetics, and childhood abuse all are contributing factors. Most people have their own definition of insanity whether they are psychological experts or average citizens, and even brilliant minds weigh in on the subject occasionally. On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cited Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity and whether he knew it or not, the Kentucky Republican described the GOP’s behavior over the last ten years. McConnell was speaking about the White House plans to jump start job creation and as usual, he proffered the same lame diatribe Republicans have parroted for over two years. Ironically, his speech was titled, “We can’t afford to make the same mistake twice.” Indeed.

    McConnell said that Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity is, “to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result,” and although McConnell was referring to President Obama’s job creation and stimulus spending plan, he inadvertently described the Republicans’ narrative of cut corporate taxes, eliminate regulations, and cut spending and the deficit. McConnell said government had to get out of the way of the “job creators,” and that helping unemployed Americans “means being as bold about liberating job creators as the administration’s been about shackling them.” He also said the president blamed “natural disasters, his political adversaries, and his predecessor” for the economy and lack of jobs, but that Republicans would not rubber-stamp his proposal because that is what “Democratic majorities did during the President’s first two years in office. And look where that got us.”

    There are several reasons to take issue with Mitch McConnell’s statements, but first it is important to revisit Einstein’s definition of insanity. McConnell mentioned doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results as being insane. Republicans are still arguing that Obama has regulated and taxed “job creators” to the point they are not hiring new employees. During Bush’s presidency, Republican majorities began their tax cuts and deregulation agenda in 2001, and for the next eight years, barely a million jobs were created and the nation’s debt skyrocketed. Republicans deregulated the financial industry and caused a world-wide economic meltdown that still affects every country on Earth, and the wealthy’s tax cuts are adding to America’s deficit. Republicans began preaching a return to Bush-Republican economic policies as soon as President Obama took office because they claimed tax cuts and deregulation were necessary to give job creators the tools they need to help the economy. According to Einstein’s definition, McConnell and Republicans are the epitome of insanity for attempting to repeat their failed economic policies they know will not create jobs. McConnell is insane.

    Speaker John Boehner, another insane Republican, said that, “Private-sector job growth continues to be undermined by the triple threat of higher taxes, more failed ‘stimulus’ spending, and excessive federal regulations. Together, these Washington policies have created a fog of uncertainty that’s left small businesses unable to hire and American families worried about the future.” Republicans may get away with their rhetoric with Fox News’ viewers and dyed-in-the-wool conservatives, but business owners are not as easily fooled.

    In a McClatchy survey of small business owners, respondents said regulations and taxes are not the reason they are not hiring or expanding. Instead, they cited “the lack of regulation in mortgage lending as a principal cause of the financial crisis that brought about the Great Recession and its grim aftermath.” None of the business owners cited regulations as having any negative impact on their businesses. What they did cite was the lack of spending by consumers and none complained of high taxes. As far as the stimulus, several respondents pointed to the 2009 Recovery Act (stimulus), which Republicans unanimously opposed, as helping to boost their businesses. A common remark was that the stimulus “allowed those folks to spend and have money and pay for the essentials.” The predominant remark and most obvious reason businesses are not hiring is that there is a simple lack of customers, and an oft-heard reason for not hiring is that “the business climate is so shaky that I would not want to undergo any expansion or outlay capital,” because Americans are not purchasing anything without jobs.

    However, Republicans are not apt to listen to real private-sector job creators or economic experts who have said the stimulus created jobs that in turn increased consumer spending that helped the economy. McConnell and Boehner can continue their lies about regulations and taxes preventing private-sector hiring, but a nearly universal complaint is that companies are sitting on large inventories and until consumers start spending again, they cannot begin hiring or expanding. It is simply too much supply and not enough demand that prevents hiring; not burdensome regulations or high taxes as Republicans claim.

    Republicans are insane to return to Bush-era economic policies as if this time deregulation and tax cuts will create jobs. It is as insane as GOP claims that spending cuts and reducing the nation’s debt will create jobs, and yet they repeat those lies as much as their deregulation and tax-cut memes. If America has learned anything about Republican economic policies, it is that they do not, have not, and will not help the economy or create jobs. America has tried Republicans’ economic policies for ten years and they have failed every possible test. There were 1.1 million jobs created in 2010, but they were the result of President Obama’s stimulus and not deregulation and tax cuts. Besides the million-plus jobs created, America’s auto industry was saved from extinction and for the first time in 9 years, America’s crumbling infrastructure got some much needed improvements.

    Republicans assailed the president’s jobs plan before he even gave the speech and instead of offering any new ideas, they propose returning to failed policies that set the economy back at least a decade. As McConnell said, making the same mistake over and over again and expecting different results is insane. For the first time in his career, Mitch McConnell is correct; repeating Republicans’ failed economic policies and expecting a different result is insane. Hopefully, the American people will send Republicans strong signals that the country cannot afford to repeat one more day of their failed economic policies. Americans may not be the smartest people on the planet, but for the most part, they are not nearly as insane as Mitch McConnell or his Republican cohorts.

  12. rikyrah says:

    Obama Takes It To The People; Eric Cantor Whines
    By karoli

    President Obama is taking the American Jobs Act (AJA) on the road to the people with whom it will resonate most: the currently unemployed; young people in college facing a slow jobs market; and veterans back home looking for work. He is at his best in this environment. It’s what I wish he would have done more of during the horrid debt-ceiling debate. He’s not out there peddling high hopes, either.

    After a month of brutal town halls where people were so angry at their Republican tea party representatives in Congress that some actually cancelled town halls, the President is speaking their language and it’s worrisome to the obstructionist Republicans.

    Here’s the transcript of his closer in Richmond, Virginia. It wasn’t an accident that his first stop was Eric Cantor’s district:

    So I’m asking all of you to lift up your voices, not just here in Richmond — anybody watching, listening, following online — I want you to call, I want you to email, I want you to tweet — (laughter) — I want you to fax, I want you to visit, I want you to Facebook, send a carrier pigeon — (laughter.) I want you to tell your congressperson, the time for gridlock and games is over. The time for action is now. The time to create jobs is now. (Applause.)

    Pass this bill. If you want construction workers on the worksite — pass this bill. (Applause.) If you want teachers in the classroom — pass this bill. (Applause.) You want small business owners to hire new people — pass this bill. (Applause.) If you want veterans to get their fair share of opportunity that they helped create — pass this bill. (Applause.) If you want a tax break — pass this bill. (Applause.)

    Prove you will fight as hard for tax cuts for workers and middle-class people as you do for oil companies and rich folks. Pass this bill. (Applause.) Let’s get something done. (Applause.)

    The next election is 14 months away. We cannot wait. The American people do not have the luxury of waiting another 14 months for some action. Some of you are living paycheck to paycheck, week to week, day by day. Now is not the time for people in Washington to be worrying about their jobs. It’s time for them to be worrying about your jobs. (Applause.) Now is the time to put Americans back to work. Now is the time to act. (Applause.)

    We are not a people that just look and watch and wait to see what happens. We’re Americans. We make things happen. (Applause.) We’re tougher than these times. We are bigger than the smallness of our politics. We are patriots and we are pioneers, and innovators and entrepreneurs, who through individual effort and through a common commitment to one another will build an economy that is once again the engine and the envy of the world. (Applause.) And we will write our own destiny.

    It’s within our power. But we’ve got to seize the moment. So let’s just shake off all the naysaying and the anxiety and the hand-wringing. Enough of that. Let’s get to work. (Applause.) Let’s show the world once again why America is the greatest nation on Earth.

    Thank you, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.) God bless America. (Applause.)

    There is nothing more critical to the successful outcome of this legislation than us, and not only because we hope representatives have at least a small clue about what their job is. The reason the tea party got any traction during the health care debate was because they showed up. They tweeted, facebooked, made stupid signs and showed up.

    Eric Cantor is afraid we will, too. Via Daily Kos, Eric Cantor’s whine:

    This is my objection to the message that was delivered tonight. The message was: either accept my package as it is, or I will take it to the American people. I would say that that’s the wrong approach. What we’re here to do is try to transcend differences, not let them get in the way in the areas we can make progress on.

    Interesting choice of words there. The wrong approach is to take it to the people, why? And then to follow that up with transcending differences being a product of NOT taking it to the people? Cantor knows just like the rest of us know that when this plan is taken to the people they’re going to like it and support it. There won’t be any differences with them, only with Cantor’s Koch party keepers.

    Oh, and then there was this from Cantor, after the Richmond speech:

    How perfectly Republican. Claim an “all or nothing” strategy is terrible because that’s the strategy he and his merry band of ugly men have been taking since this President took office. It’s so cynical it burns.

    This is a perfect example of President Obama’s 2008 message: We are the change. Not him. Us. I think we ought to take it to the streets and tell every elected official in this country that we can’t wait any longer for them to do what they were hired to do. Jobs, and jobs now.

    Does this mean I believe in unicorns and a cowed GOP? No, of course I don’t. But President Obama appears to have listened to the criticisms we’ve all made about how we don’t want compromise, we want action. And if we want action, I submit we have to get out there and make them hear us instead of letting the tea party have all the attention. They should pass this bill now.

  13. rikyrah says:

    September 10, 2011 08:00 AM
    What Herman Cain Isn’t Going To Tell You About Chile’s Privatized Pensions
    By Susie Madrak

    My chiropractor is a nice guy – a Republican, but open-minded. But because he’s so busy, he doesn’t know that much about what’s going on (like the majority of Americans). I think he’s fairly representative of the interested but under-informed voter.

    Anyway, he asked me if I’d seen the Republican presidential debate; he wanted to know what I thought. “If I were a Republican? The only one I’d consider voting for is Huntsman,” I said. “But of course you have to be a nut to win the Republican primaries.”

    “I thought Herman Cain seemed pretty smart. He was talking about making Social Security like the Chilean model,” he said. “What do you know about that?”

    “Oh, jeebus,” I said. “The Chilean model. The same one that right-wingers have been trying to shove down our throats for 30 years.” (This was all mumbled, since I was face down on his table at the time.)

    “First of all, it was a mess. It was imposed by Pinochet under his military dictatorship, and the generals revolted. They insisted they get to keep the old plan, and they did. Second, a lot of people didn’t get anywhere near the money they actually needed to retire, but the administrators made a fortune.”

    I didn’t even get into the meat of it. Chileans were charged exorbitant fees (15 to 20 percent for all costs) in order to choose which pension fund association in which to invest. Depending on which risk level they choose, they’re equivalent to our mutual funds, IRAs or CDs; by law, they have to have a minimum return. From Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries, March/April 1998:

    There are currently 13 privately run AFP’s authorized to manage a private pension fund covering a group of workers. The original 12 in 1981 grew to 22 in 1993, but competition caused this to fall to 13. Investments now totaling around $30 billion are regulated by law, and about 28 percent is currently invested in equities, 42 percent in government bonds, 30 percent in Chilean financial institutions and companies, and a small amount in foreign securities.

    So it’s not like you get to watch CNBC all day and make a killing in the stock market — you’re limited to the official funds, and they all have roughly the same investments. And it’s a much better deal for someone with a big paycheck. (IIRC, a big shortfall was caused by the fact that women, especially poor women, dropped out of the job market to raise children or take care of a sick relative. So when it came time to retire, they had very little money from which to draw. They since added a minimum benefit — gee, sounds almost like their original Social Security program!)

    The article goes on to warn about the private plans being pushed by Republicans at the time:

    In the event of a stock calamity in the fashion of 1929, the privatization groups tell us that the government, not they, will assume the responsibility of payments to retirees of specified minimum amounts. This will, of course, require that federal borrowing be repaid by the public. In addition, the purchasing power of retirees will be cut at a bad time for the economy. Workers in desperate need because of lost jobs or pay cuts cannot be expected to take kindly to a sharp reduction in their nest eggs and will likely make demands on the government for restitution.

    Opportunities for fraud: The financial media have stories practically every day about scams being perpetrated on even highly sophisticated investors. Will the scamming of workers and their beneficiaries become a major growth industry? The lesson from Chile may well be summed up in two words: Caveat emptor.

    The big hero of the latest right-wing push is Jose Piñera, former secretary of labor and social security and the architect of this pension plan. Would you be surprised to hear that he now draws wingnut welfare as a senior fellow at the Cato Institute? Of course not. Piñera founded “The International Center for Pension Reform” in order to promote the Chilean model everywhere else. I occasionally see him on my teevee. What I don’t usually hear him acknowledge is that in 2008, the Chilean plan started moving back toward more government oversight and control.

    But you won’t hear many Bobbleheads talking about that. It might ruin the free market fairy tale.

  14. rikyrah says:

    September 10, 2011 8:50 AM If they had it to do over again

    By Steve Benen

    The flap over the scheduling of President Obama’s jobs speech has largely faded from view, but my friend Elon Green emailed yesterday with an interesting question: did Republicans screw this up?

    “I wonder, does the GOP regret forcing the WH to move the date of Obama’s speech? Just imagine if he’d given it the night of the GOP debate. The next day, he’d be splitting the news cycle with Perry and Romney. Now, of course, he’s monopolizing it to the point where even a possible attack on NY isn’t crowding him out.”

    The more I think about this, the more I think Elon has raised a good point.

    When the White House requested Wednesday night for the jobs speech, the House Republican leadership came up with a bizarre rationale for a delay: there would have to be a lengthy security sweep of the House chamber, and some votes were scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. As it turns out, those votes were two symbolic measures: allowing the Capitol Grounds to be used for a Special Olympics torch run and congratulating a Little League World Series team from North Carolina. These votes, obviously, could have been scheduled anytime.

    Of course, we know why GOP leaders wanted the president to move his speech: it was going to conflict with the debate for the Republican presidential candidates. The White House didn’t care, so it accepted Thursday.

    But consider Elon’s point: if Obama and the GOP candidates had shared the night, they would have shared the coverage and next-day chatter. Instead, yesterday’s coverage was all about Obama, the American Jobs Act, and the president taking his case on the road with a speech in Richmond. Wouldn’t Republicans have been better off sharing the spotlight?

    One could make the argument that Perry, Romney, et al, would have looked even worse had they shared the night with President Obama — he looked big; they looked small. But the truth is, they looked small anyway. Indeed, the eventual contrast wasn’t exactly helpful to the GOP — on Wednesday night, the Republican frontrunner heard applause for executing people; on Thursday night, the president heard applause for demanding job creation.

    If they had it to do over again, would Boehner & Co. have taken the White House’s original offer? I bet they would.

  15. rikyrah says:

    September 10, 2011 10:35 AM ‘
    Structurally deficient’

    By Steve Benen

    Early on in his jobs speech to Congress this week, President Obama made the case for infrastructure. “Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us a economic superpower,” Obama said, adding, “And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads? At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America?”

    To drive the point home, the president noted some specific examples: “There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work. There’s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America.”

    Hmm, Ohio and Kentucky. Why do those states seem familiar? Perhaps because they’re home to the two most powerful Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill. This may have been a coincidence — Obama have just been referring to an area where repairs are sorely needed — and it may have been an attempt to remind GOP leaders that this is an issue that should matter to them, because it sure matters to their constituents.

    With this in mind, Travis Waldron and Tanya Somanader had a good piece yesterday, noting that Republicans traditionally supported needed infrastructure improvements, and relied on Bureau of Transportation Statistics to show that Republicans still should.

    [The] Republican leadership has continually blocked efforts by Obama and Congressional Democrats to invest in infrastructure improvements, and as a result, bridges and roadways in their states are crumbling. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, about 12 percent of the nation’s bridges are considered “structurally deficient,” the same rating given to the Minneapolis bridge that collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people. Roughly another 12 percent are considered “functionally obsolete.”

    In four of the five states represented by Republican congressional leadership, the rate of structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges outpaces the national average.

    In John Boehner’s home state of Ohio, 27% of the bridges are either “structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.” In Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky, it’s 34%. California, home to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, has a whopping 976 structurally deficient bridges — and 24 of them are in McCarthy’s district.

    Since early 2009, Republican opposition to infrastructure investments has been unyielding. In some cases, we’ve even seen GOP leaders denounce projects they used to support. It’s hard to say what’s motivating the opposition — maybe Republicans believe the public investments will do too much to help the economy? — but at a practical level, it doesn’t much matter. Our crumbling infrastructure needs attention, and GOP officials generally don’t seem to care. There’s free money sitting on the table, ready to be put to good use, Republicans don’t care about that, either.

    Perhaps pointing to the problems in their own states and districts will help change their minds? Or is saying no to Obama even more important than improving structurally deficient infrastructure for their own constituents?

    Postscript: On a related note, Kevin Drum had a compelling piece this week on his trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, inteded “to make us into a first-world country again.” Good stuff.

    Second Update: Reader F.B. reminds me there’s a strong argument that infrastructure investment, right now as opposed to years from now, is the fiscally responsible thing to do.

  16. rikyrah says:

    September 10, 2011 11:15 AM Putting the ‘Outside Game’ to the test

    By Steve Benen
    After President Obama’s jobs speech on Thursday night, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said, “The message [from the president] was: either accept my package as it is, or I will take it to the American people. I would say that that’s the wrong approach.” By some assessments, this made it seem as if the GOP leader is worried, at least a little, about the president taking his message to the electorate.

    With this in mind, Cantor probably won’t care for this news at all.

    President Obama will continue to promote his jobs bill this week, following up on Friday’s visit to Virginia with stops in Ohio on Tuesday and North Carolina on Wednesday.

    Obama is seeking to build momentum for the jobs plan he presented to Congress on Thursday night, which includes tax cuts, new spending measures and an extension of federal unemployment benefits.

    The promotional tour has implications for the president’s reelection campaign, since all three states are likely key swing states in 2012. All three went to Obama in 2008.

    Obama may soon after head to Colorado, another swing state he carried three years ago.

    It’s hard to miss the 2012 subtext with these scheduled appearances, but there’s more going on here than just campaign-related stops in key battleground states.

    For one thing, Obama is entirely serious about rallying the public, leveraging voter support to try to give the economy a desperately-needed boost. For the first time in a long time, the White House has something specific it can urge Americans to fight for, and the president appears eager to make his pitch and urge the public to follow.

    For another, Obama is also showing the follow-through that the left has demanded, and which has occasionally been lacking. The Americans Jobs Act is a long-shot anyway given Congress’ makeup, and if the president is going to change the landscape, he’s going to have to make a sustained effort. Scheduling a joint session speech, followed by at least three or four big events in key states suggests the White House is fully invested in this push. That’s a good thing.

    Jonathan Cohn calls this “the outside game.”

    …Obama has at least given the public a clear sense of who stands for what. And make no mistake: That’s a worthwhile endeavor. The approaching presidential election will offer voters stark choices about the country’s future. The best thing Obama can do – not only for the sake of his own candidacy but for the sake of the public discourse – is to make sure the voters understand those choices.

    But it will take more than one speech. It will take a sustained campaign – one Obama cannot wage alone, but one only he can lead. As a senior Democrat on Capitol Hill told TNR last night, “It was a strong speech. It’s what comes next that matters. Will he stay tough and keep hammering the Republicans, or will he go back to staying ‘above the fray’ “?

    It appears “what comes next” is the most forceful White House offensive of 2011. Whether this moves a single vote on Capitol Hill remains to be seen, but it’s a campaign worth waging — not just because of an election that’s 14 months away, but because strong public demand for an ambitious jobs bill improves the odds of it actually passing.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Coming Together, Coming Apart

    by BooMan
    Sat Sep 10th, 2011 at 01:21:23 PM EST
    Living, as I do, in the progressive online community, I am always wallowing in the internal divisions of the Democratic Party. Yet, patching up the left for next year’s election cycle should be relatively easy. It’s nothing compared to the divisions that are emerging on the right. The most obvious difference is that the Dems already have their presidential candidate. The Republicans don’t, and they’re deeply dissatisfied with their choices. But there are other divisions, as well. The GOP can’t decide how to react to the president’s jobs bill. The presidential candidates are totally dismissive, but the Congressional leaders want to reach some compromise. Yet, tick down the items in the bill and you’ll find the Republicans divided on those, too. Should there be an extension of the payroll tax holiday? Opinions differ. Meanwhile, the Democrats are united behind passing the whole bill.

    Things are unlikely to improve for the Republicans on the unity front. They desperately want a presidential candidate who can plausibly run on repealing the Affordable Care Act, but that bill is based on Mitt Romney’s health reforms from when he governed Massachusetts. The Republicans definitely do not want to spend the fall of 2012 trying to defend Rick Perry’s position on Social Security. So, where does that leave them? No one in the third-tier of candidates stands a chance. Santorum? Gingrich? Cain? Paul? Bachmann? Thaddeus McCotter? Huntsman?

    At least Huntsman would have a puncher’s chance in the general election, but the rest of them are a bad joke.

    We’ve been on the defensive for so long that it’s hard to recognize immediately that the tide has come in and is now going out. It’s time to roll-up the Republicans and demolish their lines.

  18. dannie22 says:

    good afternoon everyone

  19. Ametia says:

    G.O.P. Is Cautious in Jobs ResponseBy JENNIFER STEINHAUER
    Published: September 9, 2011

    WASHINGTON — Armed with worrisome poll data and seeking to maintain the legislative upper hand, Congressional Republicans who have spent the balance of the year pouring buckets of criticism on the Obama administration are shifting to a more restrained approach as they ponder how to respond to the president’s jobs plan.

    Back from a summer break in their districts — where they faced constituents howling about Washington bickering and intransigence — Republicans on Friday left the door open to several elements of the president’s $447 billion jobs package of tax cuts and spending programs, even those that just five weeks ago were met with vehement opposition.

    The abrupt change in tone and substance after months of searing budget fights that turned off a watching public suggested that Republicans on Capitol Hill were anxious about entering the 2012 races with a reputation more for confrontation than compromise.

    “People expect results, and they’re very frustrated that they are not seeing that coming out of Washington,” Representative Charles Boustany Jr., Republican of Louisiana, said in an interview. “That implies that we have to have some compromise, some area where we agree that we’re going to move things forward for the better.”

    Speaker John A. Boehner and Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia are also taking a more conciliatory approach than in previous fiscal battles, when both men essentially declared war on the administration’s policies. “We are going to work together,” Mr. Cantor said, adding, “I think it’s time to build consensus here.”

  20. Ametia says:

    Obama jobs plan heartens frustrated blacks
    By The Associated Press
    Published: September 10, 2011

    President Barack Obama’s jobs pitch is already playing well with blacks, who had grown plenty irked with him over what they perceived as his indifference to their needs.

    A day after Obama laid out before Congress his plan to kick-start job growth, many blacks hoped it would translate into reduced misery for them over the coming months. While the country’s unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent, black unemployment has hit 16.7 percent, the highest since 1984. Unemployment among male blacks is at 18 percent, and black teens are unemployed at a rate of 46.5 percent.

    The early signs of their reaction were positive.

    Social media sites were abuzz with highlights from the president’s plan. Amid the comments were excited responses to the proposal, especially from the black community. Twitter was full of similar bursts of excitement over the plan, with some black Tweeters defending the president and applauding his message. One user tweeted: “Taking a sharp tone `cause the NumbersDontLie! Pass this bill and put America back to work.”

    Prominent African-Americans like Kenneth Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express and Michael Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia, quickly applauded the plan. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., has been one of the most vocal advocates for dealing more effectively with black unemployment, but she was enthusiastic.

    For the president, it was a welcome change in tone after a steady drumbeat of criticism from members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who held their own job fairs and town hall meetings while protesting that Obama’s jobs tour across America last month bypassed black communities.

    The caucus’ urban blitz cleared a path for the country’s first black president to act, Waters said.

    “I can see that our handprint is all over it,” Waters said of Obama’s plan. “We upped the ante a little bit by pushing, being a bit more vocal. This was not done in a way to threaten the president but to make it easier for him. We think we helped him to be able to formulate a response.”

    The jobs plan was praised by Ralph Everett, president and chief executive of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a nonpartisan black think tank.

    Although the president did not specifically mention high unemployment among blacks, black people “are sophisticated enough to understand” how their communities will benefit, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Friday.

    “Obviously there is a debate raging, saying that we should come out and say this expressly for the black and Latino community,” Kirk said. “But this president got elected spectacularly on his premise that we are not a black America, a brown America, a white America. We are one America.”

    The White House moved quickly to capitalize politically on the good will, emailing an extraordinary blast of supportive statements from elected officials, union leaders and interest groups within minutes after Obama spoke Thursday night.

    On Friday, while the president pushed his American Jobs Act in Richmond, Va., his aides promoted targeted relief to Hispanics, teachers, police officers, construction workers, small businesses and others.

    Administration officials said the plan would extend unemployment benefits and provide support for 1.4 million blacks who have been unemployed six months or longer. It also would provide summer and subsidized jobs for youth, help boost the paychecks of 20 million black workers through an extension and expansion of the payroll tax, and benefit, in some way, more than 100,000 black-owned small businesses.

    “With over 16 percent of African-Americans out of work and over 1 million African-Americans out of work over six months, I think the president believes this is a serious problem and the onus is on us to do everything we can to tackle this,” Danielle Gray, deputy director of the National Economic Council, told reporters.

    White House adviser Valerie Jarrett promoted Obama’s plan on Steve Harvey’s syndicated morning radio show, saying it would help “every part of our country, but particularly those who are the most vulnerable, who have been struggling the hardest, who have been trying to make ends meet and all they need is a little help from their government.”

    A factor in the early enthusiasm in Obama’s plan with blacks is that most accept that, as the country’s first black president, there are limits to what he can do about their specific problems — especially as he heads into the 2012 campaign.

    “Do I think he’s doing everything he can? Yes, of course,” said Tonia Thomas, 44, a divorced Atlanta mother who was unemployed for more than a year before taking a $30,000 pay cut to work as a hotel clerk. “A lot of what’s going on is being used to exclude people of color in general. I don’t know what he can do.”

    The president has to be careful in targeting his efforts, some say.

    “The more he talks about race, the more votes he loses,” said Randall Kennedy, author of a new book exploring racial politics and the Obama presidency. “Barack Obama had to overcome his blackness to become president … and he’s going to have to overcome it to be re-elected.”

    Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, an Obama supporter who engaged in damage control for the president this week, said black Americans “need to burst this false notion” that the president should put black unemployment on par with overall unemployment.

    “If leaders in our community want to push him to lay out a black agenda, I believe that will end up disserving the black community and help elect people who certainly don’t have a past history about caring about the interests of the African-American community,” Reed said after Obama’s speech. “This debate is weakening the president and puts him in a political position where he has to do something to confirm his blackness.”


  21. 3 CHICS!

    I was reading a comment left by NMP on JJP & it warmed my heart. NMP wrote she was inspired by my resilience to bounce back after the tragedy in my life. But the truth is she has encouraged & inspired Me! All of you have! You have been so kind & generous with your love & support. I cannot say thank you enough! It is the Spirit of God that lives in you and moved all of you to reach out in love and compassion. It’s the most amazing thing I have ever seen from people I have never laid eyes on. It brings me to tears. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Thank you everyone who have helped out Ametia in keeping 3 Chics going while I get my life back on track. You all are jewels!

  22. Good Morning, 3 Chics, Friends & Visitors!

    Happy Saturday!

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