Serendipity SOUL | Friday Open Thread

Happy FRY-day, Everybody!  Topping off Whitney Houston week with this classic:

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47 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Friday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Can I just LOL and go hmmmmmmmmm


    Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 08:20 AM PDT
    Scott Walker retains lawyers, stays silent in FBI corruption probe+*

    by Chris Bowers

    Amidst the ongoing federal investigation that seems to be targeting one or more of his former top aides during his time as Milwaukee County Executive, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is staying silent:

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker kept his distance Thursday from an investigation into one of his top agency officials, staying silent despite calls from his opponents to say what he knows about why FBI agents raided her home a day earlier.

    Agents raided the home of Cynthia Archer, who held a top spot in Walker’s office when he served as Milwaukee County executive and followed Walker to work in state government after last November’s election.

    While he is staying silent, Walker has retained legal consul in regards to corruption charges for nearly a year now:

    The governor’s campaign retained former U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic after it received a subpoena for campaign emails shortly before last year’s November election. His campaign has paid nearly $60,000 to Biskupic’s firm, Michael Best & Friedrich, in the first half of the year.

    The targets, and details, of the investigation still remain murky. What information is available is based on anonymous leaks. Unsurprisingly, the former aide to Walker whose home was raided by the FBI has gone public saying that she has done nothing wrong and that she does not know what the investigation is about.

    It is entirely possible she is telling the truth. Still, this investigation has the potential for explosive revelations, and as such bears continued watching.,-stays-silent-in-FBI-corruption-probe?via=blog_1

  2. rikyrah says:

    I just gotta say it..

    Black folk can’t get people to put money into local credit unions that would support the community, but a DOPEHEAD can get 100 million in a phony bank.



    Denny Ray Hardin, Kansas City Man, Convicted Of Running Fake Bank (VIDEO)

    Homemade Banker Convicted of Fraud

    The Huffington Post
    First Posted: 9/16/11 04:46 PM ET Updated: 9/16/11 05:23 PM ET

    Money doesn’t grow on trees and you can’t print it on your computer either.

    That’s the lesson Danny Ray Hardin, 52, learned Wednesday in Kansas City where he was convicted of selling $100 million in phony Treasury notes through his worthless personal bank, The Kansas City Star reported.

    Hardin sold more than 2,000 promissory notes that he falsely claimed were backed by the U.S. Treasury to unsuspecting customers over the Internet, The Star said.

    The so-called Private Bank of Danny Ray Hardin charged a fee for the transactions, which Hardin pocketed to buy a house and pay off his student loans, according to The Kansas City Business Journal.

    The multiple counts of creating fictitious obligations and mail fraud could send Hardin to jail for at least 20 years, the Business Journal said.

    The felon is no stranger to hard times. A profile in The Pitch said Hardin was formerly addicted to crack, destitute and set up for a drug bust that put him behind bars for 120 days.

    Denny Ray Hardin, 52, of Kansas city was found guilty of multiple federal fraud charges, including issuing $100 million in worthless financial documents, on Wednesday, the Kansas City Star reported.

    After getting clean, Pitch reported that he set up the fake bank to make up the money he’d lost following the arrest on drugs charges.|main5|dl18|sec1_lnk2|96302

  3. Ametia says:

    011 Fall TV Preview: Full coverage
    Bunnies, babies and broads: What is TV trying to tell us about women?

    “Whitney,” a much-promoted Thursday sitcom on NBC — created by and starring 29-year-old Whitney Cummings, who grew up in the Washington area and made her reputation with vicious comedy roast appearances — struggles to present us with a likeable loudmouth and mostly fails to endear us to the character. Like comedian Sarah Silverman before her, Cummings tantalizes us with the notion of fearless and bawdy humor, free of the usual rhetoric of gender. It seeks to make obnoxiousness part of the cliche. Dragged to a wedding in the first episode (where she eventually consoles herself with that modern girl’s best friend, the gourmet cupcake), Whitney gains a fuller awareness that she and her long-term boyfriend remain proudly unmarried but nevertheless bored with one another in the bedroom, and so on.

    On today’s sitcoms, the undercurrent of an imaginary gender war has broken banks and become a flood, dismantling social norms only to reconstruct them more rigidly in the last few moments of an episode. To further blur the role reversals, one of Whitney’s equally brash friends must mount a defense for wearing pants to the wedding, which goes like this: “Get off my [testicles],” she says, which is ironic/funny because she has none.

    One show, apparently, cannot quite contain all of the vagina-related humor Cummings has to offer, which is why she co-created “2 Broke Girls,” which will air on CBS. Here, a disgraced debutante and an angry hipster become unlikely friends while working at a Brooklyn diner. Both shows act as a sort of epilogue to the mid-century women suffered in the era of “The Playboy Club” and “Pan Am”: Whitney and the two broke girls could be the granddaughters of the bunnies and stewardesses, but I doubt the older generation would be all that impressed with what they call progress.

  4. rikyrah says:

    September 16, 2011 3:35 PM

    Cracks in the wall on revenue

    By Steve Benen

    The Republican line on taxes is entirely straightforward, at least in the abstract: no one should raise taxes on anyone, by any amount, at any time, for any reason. Increasingly, leading GOP officials are considering an exception when it comes to raising income taxes on the middle class, but in general, the anti-tax message is unshakable.

    The American mainstream generally doesn’t agree. Polls frequently show strong and consistent support for increased taxes on the wealthy, and the elimination of tax breaks for the oil industry. Would public sentiment force Republicans to reevaluate their position?

    Maybe. Jamison Foser flagged this item from freshman Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) yesterday.

    Hanna said he is open to discussing certain revenue-raising items. While he believes there should be no additional taxes on small businesses, he is willing to talk about higher tax rates for those making more than $1 million.

    “I think if you want to go to people who literally make a million dollars or literally make a billion dollars, that’s a conversation I’m personally willing to talk about. But I don’t think you change it for small business. You need to let them keep their capital,” he said.

    To be sure, this isn’t exactly the progressive line, per se, but it’s still an example of a House Republican — a freshman, no less — willing to consider tax increases on millionaires and billionaires.

    I admittedly set the bar for progress pretty low, but I’m inclined to find this at least mildly encouraging.

    Also note the larger trend. Last month, four far-right House Republicans participated in a joint town-hall meeting in a very conservative area. Three of the four said they’re open to additional revenue, and one said he wouldn’t rule out tax increases on those earning over $700,000 a year.

    A week later, Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) was badgered by constituents at a town-hall meeting on the need to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations, and reluctantly said he’s open to ending oil-company subsidies and closing tax loopholes. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), confronted by 200 angry constituents the same week, said the same thing.

    Even House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in his big speech yesterday, said, “Yes, tax reform should include closing loopholes — not for purposes of bringing more money to the government, but because it’s the right thing to do.”

    I don’t much care about his motivations; the point is he’s now open to some revenue.

    To be sure, part of the problem here is that members aren’t afraid to lie. Boehner was recently pressed on national television about billions of dollars in tax subsidies to the oil industry, and he said he’s open to eliminating them. Soon after, Boehner admitted he didn’t mean what he said, arguing he felt justified lying because he considered the question a “trap.”

    In other words, House Republicans don’t always mind saying things about taxes and revenue that aren’t true.

    But if these guys are sincere, there’s room for at least a hint of optimism. If Dems can put the GOP from “no revenue” to “OK, maybe some revenue” it’s evidence of some progress.

  5. Ametia says:

    The Republican Weapon of Mass Cynicism
    Robert ReichNationofChange / Op-EdPublished:
    Friday 16 September 2011

    According to the latest ABC New/Washington Post poll, 77 percent of Americans say they “feel things have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track” in this country. That’s the highest percentage since January, 2009.

    No surprise. The economy is almost as rotten now as it was two years ago. And, yes, this poses a huge risk to President Obama’s reelection, as it does to congressional Democrats.

    But the truly remarkable thing is how little faith Americans have in government to set things right. This cynicism poses an even bigger challenge to Obama and the Democrats – and perhaps to all of us.

    When I worked in Robert Kennedy’s senate office in the summer of 1967, America also seemed off track. Our inner cities were burning. The Vietnam War was escalating.

    Yet most Americans still held government in high regard. A whopping 66 percent of the public told pollsters that year that they trusted government to do the right thing all or most of the time.

    Now 30 percent of Americans say they trust government to do the right thing.

    What’s responsible for this erosion? Not the Great Recession or the government’s response to it. Most of the decline in public trust occurred years before.

  6. rikyrah says:

    September 16, 2011 2:45 PM

    Ford supported the industry rescue, too

    By Steve Benen

    Apparently, a Ford commercial is causing a bit of a stir in political circles today.

    This Ford ad’s been out for a while, but Paul Bedard blogs about it anew and gets some Drudge attention. In the ad, a Real Live Customer says he bought a Ford because “I wasn’t going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government. I was going to buy from a manufacturer that’s standing on their own: win, lose, or draw. That’s what America is about is taking the chance to succeed and understanding when you fail that you gotta’ pick yourself up and go back to work.”

    The ad’s actually completely unsurprising…. [S]tarting in 2010, Ford has been trading on the no-bailouts stuff.

    That’s fine. When it comes to enhancing one’s brand, a company’s gotta do what a company’s gotta do. If “we didn’t get bailed out” works for Ford, then it’s going to be part of the auto manufacturer’s marketing strategy.

    But let’s not leave some of the relevant details out of the discussion. Even if we ignore the various tax incentives from the Obama administration that Ford made good use of, it’s worth remembering that in 2009, Ford was an enthusiastic supporter of the Obama administration’s industry-rescue policy.

    It’s true that Ford wasn’t directly part of the rescue, but the company’s executives have said many times the “bailout” was vital to the success of the American automotive industry.

    About a year ago, for example, Ford CEO Alan Mullaly explained, “The government’s intervention was absolutely key to helping create a chance for GM and Chrysler going forward. That’s why I testified on behalf of GM and Chrysler, as you know. The reason we did was that we believed — like two presidents [Bush and Obama] — that if GM and Chrysler would have gone into freefall bankruptcy, they would have taken the supply base down and taken the industry down plus maybe turned the U.S. recession into a depression.”

    This isn’t complicated. Ford didn’t get federal funds, but the company, like its American rivals, was struggling badly when the economy crashed. If GM and Chrysler had collapsed, there’s little doubt that Ford wouldn’t have had the suppliers it needed to survive. Ford’s executives have already acknowledged this; it’s not exactly a contentious point.

    Something to keep in mind the next time the right touts Ford’s latest anti-bailout commercial.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Robert Shrum The Democrats’ self-defeating crybaby chorus
    After a special election loss in New York City, many on the Left are boneheadedly fleeing Obama — just when they should be rallying to his side
    posted on September 16, 2011, at 7:58 AM

    Before the month came thumping in on elephant feet, I wrote that each August since 2007 had marked a cruel passage for Barack Obama and suggested how he might turn the ides this year. It was not to be, and maybe never will be. The month actually culminated — and confirmed its unhappy course — on September 13, when a machine-ordained Democratic candidate lost the New York City congressional seat of the deflated Anthony Weiner to a Republican tea merchant.

    The GOP reaction was predictable: This was a referendum on Obama and a portent of doom in 2012. After all, here was the first Republican elected from this district since 1923. (Actually, that’s a sloppy factoid, echoed in the media, to make it easy to blame Obama first; it’s a fact in the Brooklyn rump of the district, but not in Queens, the district’s predominant swath, where Forest Hills and other neighborhoods sent Republican Seymour Halpern to Congress in the 1960s and 1970s.)

    Al Smith, the master of the sidewalks of New York, in a characteristic phrase, might have called the Democrat in this special election “a bum.” At the least, David Weprin was a bumbler. He confidently offered up a figure on the national debt; he was off by 10 trillion (with a ‘T’) dollars. He skipped out of a debate, citing the threat of Hurricane Irene; the storm had already passed. He didn’t go on the attack until it was too late; he never brought Gov. Andrew Cuomo into a district where he is overwhelmingly popular.

    Weprin fled any identification with the president after former New York Mayor Ed Koch urged voters to retaliate against Obama’s Mideast policy by rallying to the Right. Koch, whom I was proud to help defeat for re-election in 1989, has a record of exploiting ethnic tensions and turning on his own party. He race-baited Jesse Jackson in the 1988 presidential primary — and in the past, he’s endorsed Rudolph Giuliani, the state’s last Republican senator (Alfonse D’Amato), and George W. Bush.

    Never mind that Weprin is an Orthodox Jew, an undeviating rubber stamp for Israeli policies, with relatives living in that country. And never mind that Obama’s position is the same as Bush’s, Bill Clinton’s, and the peace deal Israel offered in 2000 and 2001 — a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders with agreed land swaps. And never mind that as Israel’s self-ordained champion, Koch in reality endangers the increasingly isolated Jewish state with his knee-jerk support of a Netanyahu regime that subordinates the strategic imperatives of national survival to the political survival of his own extremist-infested coalition. To cite Abba Eban’s famous phrase, it’s now Netanyahu who “never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity” — say, to avert a dangerous break with Turkey — and there are “friends” of Israel like Koch who are there with him every lurch of the way.

    Koch undoubtedly hurt Weprin; but there’s little doubt that other, stronger Democrats — including former District Attorney and Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman — would have won anyway. But Democratic bosses outsmarted, or more accurately, out-dumbed themselves by ruling out a primary in favor of picking a patsy who would compliantly disappear after redistricting eliminated one of New York City’s congressional seats. They got the patsy they wanted, only he inconveniently disappeared 14 months early.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    September 16, 2011 1:10 PM

    When health care reform isn’t an abstraction

    By Steve Benen

    The Des Moines Register had an interesting piece yesterday on a local family who, through hardship, have discovered some of the virtues of the Affordable Care Act.

    The story focuses on a young woman who contracted a rare fungal infection in her lungs, which nearly killed her. Her husband has been on unpaid leave in order to tend to his wife’s needs, and “has been able to do a lot of thinking” while at her bedside.

    [Ross Daniels has thought about] what would have happened if portions of the new federal health care law had not been in place. His wife’s insurance had a million dollar lifetime cap on benefits. Her current expenses have already exceeded that. One medication — a potent antifungal agent — costs $1,600 a dose. Without the protection against lifetime limits the new law provides, they would have had to declare bankruptcy.

    That law, derisively dubbed “Obamacare” by the president’s opponents, has been portrayed as the essence of evil among Republican presidential candidates. At a tea party-sponsored debate this week, front-runners Rick Perry and Mitt Romney vowed to sign executive orders exempting states from enforcing it. Michele Bachmann bragged of working for its repeal in Congress.

    Those attitudes confound Daniels, who says, “It is hard for us to believe that so many of the GOP candidates would have us go back to a time where an illness like this would have forced us, or any other family for that matter, into bankruptcy.” He’s also grateful for the law’s protection against insurance companies denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

    I’ve long hoped that this would establish a strong base of support for the Affordable Care Act over the long run. When individuals and families are confronted with slick attack ads from professional conservative liars, it’s only natural for them to skeptical about the merit of the law. It’s a big shift and change can be scary.

    But when confronted with a health care emergency, folks aren’t thinking about the latest Republican talking points; they’re thinking about their family’s needs. And in the case of this family in Des Moines, it was the dreaded “Obamacare” that protected their interests in a way the previous, dysfunctional system — the ones Republicans are desperate to return to — would not.

    In time, I suspect, more and more Americans will have real-world experiences with the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, and those folks will discover that the far-right repeal effort isn’t such a good idea after all.

    For the record, the young woman who nearly died is, after more than five weeks on a ventilator, finally able to breathe on her own, and no longer requires dialysis. Her medical bills will not force her family into bankruptcy.

  9. rikyrah says:

    September 16, 2011 1:50 PM

    Those 219 regulations Boehner doesn’t like

    By Steve Benen

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made a very specific claim in his economic speech yesterday, much of which was devoted to touting deregulation.

    “At this moment,” the Ohio Republican said, “the Executive Branch has 219 new rules in the works that will cost our economy at least $100 million. That means under the current Washington agenda, our economy is poised to take a hit from the government of at least $100 million — 219 times.”

    Glenn Kessler did a nice job scrutinizing the claim, and getting to the bottom of the figure Boehner is so fond of.

    The federal government is required to identify regulations that could have an economic impact of more than $100 million, but people frequently misunderstand what that means. It does not necessarily mean $100 million in costs; in fact, it can also mean more than a $100 million in benefits.

    The Congressional Research Service earlier this year made this clear when it examined the 100 major regulatory rules issued in 2010. The report — which is actually posted on the speaker’s Web site — found that 37 of the 100 rules were deemed “major” because they involved the transfer of federal funds to recipients (such as grants, food stamps, or crop payments). In most cases, this meant more money in people’s pockets, not costs to businesses. (There were another nine rules that decreased transfer payments.)

    Six of the rules were labeled major because they triggered economic activity by consumers; these all had to do with hunting seasons and bag limits for certain types of migratory birds. Four other rules established new fees (such as increased costs for passports) to fund government operations; others were considered “major” for a variety of reasons.

    Finally, 39 of the 100 rules were expected to have either $100 million in annual compliance costs, $100 million in annual benefits, or both. In some cases, the ranges were so large that it was difficult to conclude whether the result was a positive or negative benefit. But in 14 cases, the lowest estimate of the benefits exceeded the highest estimate of the costs.

    As for the specific 219 figure, apparently some Bush administration veteran found a wish list from the Office of Management and Budget website, listing 219 possible new regs. Most of them will never make it through the regulatory review process, and many of the proposed new rules wouldn’t affect the economy in the short run at all.

    So, when Boehner claims the economy is “poised to take a hit from the government of at least $100 million, 219 times,” everything about the argument is plainly false.

    This was a speech delivered by Washington’s most powerful Republican, and it was a carefully-crafted argument. The larger pitch was economically illiterate anyway, but in this case, we’re talking about the Speaker just making up facts, pointing to regulations that, according to materials posted on Boehner’s own website, will help the economy. The Speaker was pointing to rules that have the opposite effect of what he claimed.

    Anyone who assumes John Boehner knows what he’s talking about is making a mistake.

  10. Ametia says:

    Scott Walker’s Job Creators Cost Wisconsin 2300 Jobs In a Single Month
    By Sarah Jones
    September 16, 2011

    How’s that war against the public sector going for the uneducated Thug King of Wisconsin? Not so great. Remember how Governor Scott Walker justified giving public works to the Koch brothers, giving $2.3 billion in new tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy, while cutting the pay of teachers and union members because it would “create jobs”? Oh, and let’s not forget the hundreds of thousands of union members whose rights were torn away from them in an illegal session in the name of “shared sacrifices”. The job-creators excuse is getting stale and growing increasingly transparent over time.

    So far, that little meme is an epic fail. In one month, Walker has cost Wisconsin 2,300 jobs, 800 of them from the private sector and unemployment rose this month to 7.9 percent. To put this in perspective, the Republicans claim Obama is a failure because there was an overall zero job growth last month for the country. However, when we parsed those numbers, we found that under Obama, we had private sector job growth that was zeroed out by public sector job losses, due in large part to Republican job killing measures of the public sector in numerous Republican led states.

    So, zero job growth is an epic fail, but 2,300 jobs lost is a success.

    Are you with me? It’s called spin. Walker’s administration is trying to claim that overall, they are doing better than the nation. But that might be because as Wisc Politics notes, “(T)he state’s unemployment rate had been holding steady or falling for much of the two years preceding his taking office.” Remember, contrary to what Walker the financial genius told everyone, the state wasn’t actually in financial dire straights; they actually had a surplus when Walker took over. A surplus that even his tax breaks couldn’t bust. They had a hundred million dollars plus of surplus when Walker went after the poor, the elderly, the disabled and the working class. They did have a legitimate problem with their Medicaid program, but they had a surplus.

    One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross released the following statement:

    “Another month, another rise in the unemployment rate under Gov. Scott Walker. Given that the Republican legislature gave Gov. Walker all the tax breaks for corporations, all the tax breaks for the wealthy, all the power grabs and privatization and all the dismantling of voter rights and workers’ rights he demanded, it is time for them to admit their way is a failure. Complete and total. We need to immediately scrap what they have done, erase it from the statutes and invest in the people of Wisconsin so that the people of Wisconsin have a fighting chance at undoing the historic economic damage the corporate menace which put Scott Walker into the Governor’s mansion caused. If Gov. Walker’s schemes were going to work, we would have seen some glimmer of hope by now as we pass nine months of this administration.”

  11. Ametia says:

    Cable News Debate Coverage Is Hurting Democracy
    Posted on 09/16/2011 at 12:17 pm by Bob Cesca
    (My latest column for the Huffington Post)

    Chuck Todd likes to occasionally refer to the political press as “the refs.” While at first glance it appears to suffice, it’s actually just another bad euphemism in a growing list of hackish politics-as-sports metaphors intended to deflect criticism and exculpate the news media when it clearly fails to effectively hold accountable our elected officials. I’m not sure if Todd and the others realize that “the refs” both diminishes the role of the press and abrogates its responsibility to the public.

    Whether it’s print or broadcast news, the press is the only industry specifically named in the Bill of Rights, preserving for history the founding mandate that the press remain independent and unconstrained as a means of checking government power. Consequently, an unrivaled degree of integrity is required to fulfill that mandate. The ability to remain objectively segregated from political influence and coercion, not to mention the whimsy of the public, isn’t an easy task, but, in deference to its inclusion in the Constitution, a degree of professional discipline beyond what’s found in other professions is crucial in order to adequately serve democracy.

    Perhaps it’s an overly idealistic expectation, but, in pursuit of the truth and with the goal of informing the public, journalists, editors and reporters ought to make decisions in spite of and divorced from what happens to be popular with readers and advertisers. Unfortunately, ratings, ad revenue and acquiescence to conservative misinformation appear to be dictating what’s aired.

    Put another way, if the framers of the Constitution had watched CNN’s Tea Party Republican debate Monday night, they might have reconsidered their priorities. I’m not sure if “Congress shall make no laws abridging the freedom of games shows” would have made the cut at the convention.

    And that’s exactly what CNN put on the other night. A game show. The cable news media has gone from simply cracking gaming and sports metaphors to actually becoming a game, with politicians as the contestants and a rotating guest panel of snickering propagandists and “analysts” as the judges. The only difference is that contestants on traditional game shows are held accountable when they answer incorrectly — they’re penalized monetarily or eliminated from the game altogether. But our cable news game show hosts just move on to the next question, so, in this regard, Wink Martindale might be a tougher moderator than Wolf Blitzer.

  12. Ametia says:

    and we have this Clintonite, SKELETOR MOFO RIGHT CHERE:

    • Ametia, Skeletor/Carville is the epitome of the word “panic.” Remember how he prematurely and frantically chastised President Obama over the Gulf Oil spill, calling him “naive” in his handling of the situation in the early days of the spill? Well, we all know how that scenario played out. Not only did the President use patience and wisdom in his federal response to the months-long disaster, but he also successfully negotiated a deal that garnered millions of guaranteed dollars from BP for the people of the Gulf area affected by the spill that they never would have gotten otherwise.

      • Oh, I forgot to say that I just don’t listen to that guy–Carville.

      • Ametia says:

        Hi NCW; good to see you. Uggh, I’ll never forget all the screeching Skeletor did during the oil speill. “Obama betta get down HEE-YA!” He’s an outsider as far as I’m concerned. He Paul Begalia & CO. all Clintonistas, who are still bitter Hillary lost, and are not a part of the WH scene.

  13. rikyrah says:

    Job killers
    by Big Baby DougJ

    It’s not just that Republicans oppose the traditional fiscal remedies that western countries used from the Great Depression until about two years ago, they also want to kill successful jobs programs that already exist:

    House Republicans rolled out their plan to fund disaster relief in Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) district, but at the cost of almost half of remaining loans set aside to help the American auto industry.


    Democrats and an auto industry expert warn the funds Cantor picked to pay for disaster aid is currently supporting a successful program that has pulled manufacturing jobs back from other countries and helped keep the industry alive around the eastern Midwest. Taking the money away would jeopardize that program.

    [….]One of the direct results was that Ford quit manufacturing their Ford Focus in Mexico.

    “All of the Focus production is now here in Michigan,” Hill said. “Nissan is building their Leaf in Tennessee. I don’t think that program would’ve happened in the United States if it weren’t for this type of money.”

    This is a program that literally on-shored jobs. Eric Cantor wants to end it to get money for a disaster that occurred in his own district. To be clear, I support the disaster spending, but stealing the money for it from an unusually successful jobs program is simply insane.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    September 16, 2011 10:00 AM

    Trying to close ranks on the American Jobs Act

    By Steve Benen

    With antsy congressional Democrats unsure about supporting the American Jobs Act, the New York Times editorial board has some good advice for the party: “Americans need Democrats to step up now.”

    For Mr. Obama to win public support for this effort, Americans need to see him attack the Republicans’ opposition and to forcefully get his party in line.

    Some Democrats oppose the jobs bill for its apparent connection to the stimulus law from 2009, which Republicans lambasted on their way to victories in the midterm elections in 2010. The problem with the stimulus bill is not that it did not work. The problem is that neither the administration nor Congressional Democrats ever persuasively used the evidence of its positive effect on jobs, as documented by the Congressional Budget Office and in private economic analyses.

    The last thing Democrats should do now is repeat that mistake, cowing in the face of Republican tirades against government help.

    For what it’s worth, the White House is not blind to the caucus’ restlessness. Some senior administration officials, including, David Plouffe, a senior adviser to President Obama, spent an hour and a half yesterday with Senate Democrats, answering questions and responding to concerns. Plouffe conceded that support is not unanimous, but said “the vast majority of them are excited” about the American Jobs Act.

    Indeed, several Democratic leaders spent much of the afternoon downplaying talk of intra-party divisions. Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters, “[W]e’re on the same page and we’re on the same team.” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-N.Y.) said Democratic support would pass the bill if gets to the floor.

    On the other side of the Capitol, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said around the same time, “Our caucus is very unified in support of the American Jobs Act and the fact that it is paid for. It may differ with some provisions within it, or the pay-fors, but they do not differ in the fact that we must get behind it.”

    Behind the scenes, various congressional Democratic offices let it be known that the talk of divisions within the party had been overstated by the media.

    As for the White House, the fact that they’re investing time in trying to shore up support on the Hill is evidence of a West Wing committed a sustained process. It led Jonathan Cohn to note, “Obama’s performance over the summer — and, to some extent, from the beginning of his presidency — has frustrated and depressed supporters, who wanted him to be more aggressive. Well, now he’s being more aggressive. Are they making phone calls and emails to Congress? Are they getting involved in campaigns?”

    Those are good questions. The answers may help dictate the outcome of the fight.

  15. rikyrah says:

    September 16, 2011 10:40 AM

    Overdue questions about Bachmann’s ‘judgment and maturity’

    By Steve Benen

    Michele Bachmann, who’s seen support for her presidential campaign slip badly over the last several weeks, finally thought she’d found a winning issue against Rick Perry, the rival who’s taken so much of her backing. At this week’s debate, the right-wing Minnesotan slammed the Texas governor for providing a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to girls in state schools.

    It was a clean hit on an issue that could conceivably resonate with Republican voters. But Bachmann couldn’t leave well enough alone — she soon after claimed that the HPV vaccine can lead to mental retardation in girls, a claim with no foundation in reality. The congresswoman then repeated the claim in two more interviews.

    Suddenly, the discussion was no longer over Perry’s vaccine policy, but over Bachmann’s penchant for saying ridiculous things in public.

    As experts quickly pointed out, there is no evidence whatsoever linking the vaccine to mental retardation — and Mrs. Bachmann ended up shifting the focus off Mr. Perry and on to her long-running penchant for exaggeration.

    It is a pattern her current and former aides know well — her tendency to let her passion for an issue overwhelm a sober look at the facts, resulting in indefensible remarks that, in a presidential primary race, are raising questions about her judgment and maturity. […]

    People close to the campaign … spoke of their frustration that Mrs. Bachmann, who entered the race with a reputation for making unsupportable statements on cable television, has not found the discipline to win credibility with major Republican donors and influential referees in the conservative news media.

    For anyone who’s paid any attention to Bachmann’s career, those questions are long overdue. When she was little more than a go-to clown — a politician the cable-show bookers could count on to say strange things on national television — concerns about her connection to reality didn’t seem especially important to the political mainstream. But with a national spotlight shining on her presidential campaign, it’s dawning on some folks to stop and say, “Wait, she appears to be a crazy person.”

    And the more Bachmann stays in the spotlight, the more people realize she just makes stuff up — all of the time, on a wide variety of issues. There are, of course, competing explanations for this. I’d argue that Bachmann just comes up with bizarre gibberish because she’s unhinged, driven to madness by a twisted ideology. Bachmann supporters insist she’s “unscripted” and driven by passion for the subject matter, leading her to take occasional liberties with reality.

    Either way, the explanation is less significant than the conclusion: much of Bachmann’s arguments are simply and objectively nonsensical.

    While this isn’t new to many of us, the vaccine story appears to be uniquely damaging, in part because she was perceived as faltering anyway, making the controversy a poorly-timed setback. Jim Dyke, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee unaffiliated with any candidate, said, “This is the nail in the coffin in her campaign.”

    That may sound excessive, but just over the last few days, Bachmann’s anti-vaccine comments have come under fire from, among others, Rush Limbaugh, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, Bachmann’s former campaign manager, and the American Association of Pediatrics.

    It’s not just a tough mistake to recover from; it’s a tough mistake that reinforces the worst fears people had about her.

  16. rikyrah says:

    September 16, 2011 11:25 AM

    Living in fear

    By Steve Benen

    Voters in and around Atlanta are currently considering a light-rail plan linking the city to nearby suburbs. It’s the kind of infrastructure plan many American cities have taken up over the years, and there’s nothing especially remarkable about this one.

    Except, that is, what the Georgia Tea Party is arguing in trying to kill the plan. Tim Murphy flags a quote from the conservative group’s chairman, who’s warning against terrorist attacks.

    “If anyone doesn’t believe me — England and Spain. Now, if we have a more decentralized mass transit system using buses, if the terrorists blow up a single bus, we can work around that. When they blow up a rail, that just brings the system to a grinding halt. So how much security are we going to have on this rail system, and how much will it cost?”

    I can think of all kinds of reasons rail projects like these are worthwhile. They create jobs; they relieve overcrowded highways; they’re good for the environment; etc. These investments aren’t cheap, necessarily, but the benefits easily outweigh the costs.

    But for local Tea Partiers, if Atlanta light rail might become a terrorist target, then Atlanta light rail is probably a mistake. As Murphy put it, the Georgia Tea Party chair is arguing that “because terrorists fantasize about blowing up American infrastructure, we should avoid spending any money on infrastructure.”

    By that reasoning, we should consider every location known to have been targeted by terrorists — skyscrapers, stadiums, military bases, courthouses, airports — and avoid making these investments, too.

    Or maybe we should consider ignoring Tea Partiers’ concerns, making needed investments, and not living in fear.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Family sues after Oak Park won’t let boy enroll in school
    BY NATASHA KORECKI Federal Courts Reporter
    September 16, 2011 2:18AM

    School was supposed to start last week for Nehemiah Edwards — whose parents say lives in Oak Park. But the 13-year-old boy wasn’t allowed to attend classes until this past Wednesday, more than a week later.

    He wasn’t allowed to enroll in the school where he attended summer school, his parents said, because Oak Park Elementary School District 97 officials doubt the family even lives in the west suburban village.

    The family says they are stunned he was been denied admission to the district. They filed a lawsuit in federal court earlier this week, charging the boy was wrongly thrown out of school — in part because he is black.

    He was only allowed to return to school after the suit was filed, his family’s attorney charges.

    “Something went tragically wrong,” attorney Christopher Cooper said. “The school district didn’t correct its behavior until after a lawsuit was filed.”

    School district spokesman Chris Jasculca declined to discuss the situation, saying he could not comment on pending litigation. But he said the district, over the past five months, sought to verify the residency of its more than 5,600 students from 3,600 families.

    “We undertook this process … to ensure that we are operating in accordance with state law and, equally important, upholding our promise and responsibility to the citizens of Oak Park that their taxpayer dollars will be used to provide the children of this community with a high-quality education,” Jasculca said.

    The district, which borders the West Side of Chicago, has long grappled with residency issues.

    Last year, a letter was sent to parents that said students need to bring in records showing they were truly Oak Park residents or they would not be allowed to attend school.

    “Any child for whom this process is not completed will be withdrawn from District 97,” the notice warned.

    The family says they have lived on the 600 block of South Humphrey for the past 7 years. They say Nehemiah and his older siblings have attended Oak Park public schools without a problem. Nehemiah now attends Hillside Academy in nearby Hillside because it has a “special curriculum” the boy needs; by law, District 97 covers the cost.

    The boy’s mother, Yatrice, said she submitted four documents to the district in August to prove the family’s residency: a voter registration card, insurance card, driver’s license and a bank statement, according to a sworn affidavit filed with the complaint. The district then asked for a lease, the family says, because records showed the home was partly owned by Anthony Edwards, the boy’s father, and partly by his business partner.

    Although family members say they weren’t renting the home, the district said they needed to provide a lease document, the suit claims. The district also claimed the father no longer lived in the home on Humphrey, the suit claims.

    So they drew up a lease showing they lived in the home and rented from the partner. They also submitted a rent receipt, a ComEd bill, a jury duty notice and bank document showing the mortgage.

    Yatrice Edwards said a district employee laughed at her when she dropped off the documents. The district “has harassed them and humiliated them and has been relentless in its position that the family does not live in Oak Park,” the suit claims.

    Earlier this month, a district employee left a voicemail telling the family not to enroll the boy.

    “We are not convinced that you and your family are residents of Oak Park at the present time,” the voicemail stated, according to the suit. “… Your child will not be admitted into school.’’

    The suit charges that part of the reason the district has acted so aggressively is because of race.

    “Their son Nehemiah is being denied a public education in part, because he is black,” the complaint says.

    Cooper said the family believes the district thought they could push them around because they’re minorities.

    “The school district … went overboard,” Cooper said. “It sent investigators to their house to snoop. A public school district has a responsibility to act reasonably. [But] that’s the question, did the [district] act reasonably? And it didn’t.”

    Even though the boy has been allowed to return to school, the suit charges harassment and says the boy’s constitutional right to an education was violated. The suit seeks in excess of $30,000 in damages.

    “I don’t think the school district should get off the hook by simply allowing entry when the lawsuit [was] filed,” Cooper said.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Main Content
    Rick Perry’s governing style: Secrecy over straight talk?

    By KENNETH P. VOGEL & BEN SMITH | 9/15/11 2:31 PM EDT Updated: 9/15/11 7:26 PM EDT
    Gov. Rick Perry’s straight talk may have made him an instant star of the Republican presidential field, but even some of his supporters say his frank one-liners don’t reflect his governing style in Texas, where Perry has been criticized as one of the most secretive governors in the country.

    At home, Perry has fought for years to keep even mundane details of his schedule, spending and decision-making away from reporters and the public.

    He faces pending lawsuits over his office’s refusal to release travel records and a clemency review for a since-executed inmate. He’s under pressure from open government advocates to release his full schedule. And in response to a once-lonely quest by a Wisconsin blogger, Perry’s office has temporarily stopped its practice of deleting emails after a week.

    And late last week, his team quietly finalized the settlement of an ethics complaint that accused his campaign of hiding how hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions were spent at his taxpayer-funded mansion on flowers, food, drinks and party supplies.

    “When you bring it all together and you look at each of those, then you wonder about transparency, and I can understand why people would raise their eyebrows, but any of those individually, I have never found to be an issue,” said Florence Shapiro, a Republican Texas state senator and supporter of Perry’s presidential bid. “I haven’t found transparency either to be something the governor is an advocate for, nor have I ever found him to be opposed to it.”

    With voters outside of Texas eager to learn more about the presidential contender, Perry’s secretive streak is frustrating efforts to examine his home-state record and leaving him vulnerable to suggestions – like those that he’s previously leveled against his own rivals – that maybe he’s hiding something.

    Nothing could be further from the truth, said Catherine Frazier, a Perry campaign spokeswoman who until recently had worked for Perry in the governor’s office.

    “Gov. Perry has always been a strong supporter of government transparency, a priority that he will carry with him to the White House if elected,” Frazier told POLITICO. She asserted her boss “has led by example on this front,” partly by putting the governor’s office budget online “so that citizens can clearly and easily see how their tax dollars are being spent.”

    Frazier did not answer a question about whether Perry would try to implement an email deletion policy as president, but she did cite a 2009 report from open government groups that named Texas the top state for putting public records online. Perry’s 2010 reelection campaign also touted the study on a transparency section of its website, which boasted Perry “has made spending transparency a plank of his budget reform agenda.”

    But Ken Bunting, the executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, which participated in the coalition that produced the study, said: “If Gov. Perry takes credit for that (ranking), I would say that’s a little bit of stretch.”

    The digital information framework in Texas owes at least as much to the state’s aggressive press corps and public interest lobbying community, Bunting said.

    He also questioned how faithfully Texas adheres to its transparency policies, citing a 2007 report that gave Texas a failing grade of 53 out of 100 on fulfilling public information requests, though that still placed it in the middle of all states.

    “Every politician is for transparency,” said Bunting, a former Austin bureau chief for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, before Perry’s governorship. “But, when you get down to an issue where they want to keep a secret or not disclose something about their personal dealings to the rest of the world because they think it’s private, their actions do not compare to their rhetoric

    Read more:

  19. Ametia says:

    High court blocks Houston killer’s execution
    Justices may review racial angle

    Updated 11:52 p.m., Thursday, September 15, 2011

    HUNTSVILLE — The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday issued a stay of execution for Houston killer Duane Buck in a case that drew arguments that his punishment might have been tainted by racial testimony.

    The high court stayed his execution pending a decision on whether to review his case.

    The decision came about 7:30 p.m. approximately 90 minutes after Buck was to have been executed. He was waiting in a holding cell next to the state’s death chamber.

    Minutes after being given the news, Buck began to pray.

    “Praise the Lord,” he said. “God is worthy of praise. God’s mercy trumps judgment. I feel good.”

    In a Thursday morning filing to the high court, Texas Defender Service lawyers argued Buck’s death sentence violated equal protection, due process and 8th Amendment guarantees under the Constitution.

    Buck was sentenced to die for the July 1995 shooting deaths of his former girlfriend, Debra Gardner, and her friend, Kenneth Butler. Buck also shot his sister, Phyllis Taylor, in the chest at point-blank range, but the woman recovered and later became an advocate for saving his life.

    The legal fight for Buck’s life centered on a 2000 assertion by then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn that Buck’s case was among six capital trials that might have been tainted by racial testimony from psychologist Walter Quijano.

    The other five killers all received new federal court-ordered punishment hearings in which they again were sentenced to death. But Buck, whose case still was at the state level at the time of Cornyn’s pronouncement, never had his sentencing reconsidered.

  20. Ametia says:

    U.S. Postal Service plans to close hundreds of facilities to save money
    By Ed O’Keefe, The U.S. Postal Service has yet another plan to save money — but it might make snail mail even slower.

    The mail delivery service — facing mounting financial losses that may top $10 billion by month’s end — announced plans Thursday to close hundreds of facilities that sort the mail as part of a four-year effort to cut $20 billion, slash hundreds of thousands of jobs and permanently reshape itself as a leaner organization.

    “The sobering reality is that first-class mail volume lost will not return,” said USPS Chief Operating Officer Megan J. Brennan. “People are communicating and paying bills electronically, and we project a continued decline.”

    In the past decade, deliveries of first-class mail — the most popular and profitable mode — have plummeted by nearly 50 percent.

    Postal officials said Thursday that they no longer need a coast-to-coast delivery network originally established to process first-class mail overnight, preparing envelopes, catalogs and packages that travel only a few ZIP codes away for delivery the next morning.

  21. Ametia says:

    Justice Ginsburg calls for equality for gays

    (09-15) 21:20 PDT SAN FRANCISCO — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking to law students in San Francisco, called Thursday for equality for gays and lesbians and said the court should return to a 1972 ruling that halted executions nationwide.

    “We should not be stopped from pursuing whatever talent God has given us simply because we are of a certain race, a certain religion, a certain national origin, a certain gender or gender preference,” Ginsburg said at UC Hastings College of the Law.

    The court has adopted constitutional barriers against discrimination based on all those categories except sexual orientation. It could confront that issue in one of several cases now pending in lower courts, including a challenge to California’s ban on same-sex marriage that is awaiting review by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

    The justices struck down state laws against gay and lesbian sexual activity in 2003 without deciding how to review other laws that treat people differently based on sexual orientation. Referring to that case, Ginsburg said the court “recognized that consensual relations between two people do no harm to anyone and cannot be subject to government prohibitions.”

    Read more:

  22. Ametia says:

    How to Talk About Solyndra
    —By Kevin Drum
    | Fri Sep. 16, 2011 2:55 AM PDT

    You’ve probably heard of Solyndra by now, right? It’s the solar power company that got $500 million in Recovery Act loans from the Department of Energy and then went belly up a couple of weeks ago.

    Conservatives have been trying to paint this as a big scandal of some kind, despite the fact that: the company had plenty of private investors too; it’s the only DOE loan that has failed so far; and there’s no real evidence that anyone in the White House did anything worse than push OMB to speed up their decision-making process a bit in 2009. Stephen Lacey has the full timeline here.

    But I think Dave Roberts probably has the bigger picture right:

    Watching this unfold over the last week, I keep thinking back to “Climategate.” When it first broke back in late 2009, lefties and bloggers and Dem lawmakers just ignored it, because it was obviously dumb. This left the field entirely open to a massive attack from the right, coordinated among ideological media, staffers, lobbyists, and pols. When the left finally stirred itself to action, all that emerged were a bunch of long, boring investigations into the details and good-faith efforts to be fair about how both sides a point. By the time five separate investigations had cleared the scientists of all wrongdoing, the damage was done. Now we’re seeing the same script play out again.

  23. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 08:32 AM ET, 09/16/2011 The Morning Plum
    By Greg Sargent

    * Who will step up and help Obama push his jobs bill? My pick for read of the morning is Jonathan Cohn’s look at the utter lack of establishment voices — business leaders, fiscal hawk types — who are willing to raise their voices on behalf of the American Jobs Act. There’s broad consensus among economists and analysts that a mix of short term stimulus spending and long-term deficit reduction is the way out — that the policy response simply must be reoriented towards jobs-creation in the near term.

    No mystery here: That approach happens to be the one championed by Obama. He’s out there pushing for it, with a visit set for next week to a crumbling bridge in John Boehner’s district. But where is everyone else? Cohn:

    The other source of pressure should be the establishment — in particular, the media and business establishments. The broad, although hardly universal, consensus in both worlds is that this country needs a short burst of stimulus spending, to boost growth, followed by a lengthy dose of steady deficit reduction, in order to bring the budget into balance. It’s the approach both Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve, and Doug Elmendorf, head of the Congressional Budget Office, have implicitly endorsed in the last few weeks.
    But where are the coalitions of business leaders, whose livelihoods depend on growth, clamoring for this? And where are all the fiscal scolds, whom Obama has tried so hard to please by demanding (unlike the previous administration) that Congress pay for new initiatives and that long-term deficit reduction remain a goal? By refusing to engage more forcefully, and more pointedly, they empower and reward the Republicans who brazenly risked the nation’s credit rating — and who refuse to contemplate tax increases, making deficit reduction impossible as a practical matter

  24. rikyrah says:

    September 16, 2011 9:35 AM

    Congress reaching new depths in unpopularity

    By Steve Benen

    Wow, that is one unpopular Congress.

    Congress faces historically low approval ratings as it wades into the debate over the $447 billion jobs package proposed by President Obama, with just 12 percent of Americans now approving of the way Congress is handling its job, matching its all-time low, recorded in October 2008 at the height of the economic crisis, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. […]

    Only 6 percent of registered voters say that most members of Congress have earned re-election, while 84 percent say it’s time to give someone new a chance, a historic low for the New York Times/CBS poll.

    Now, I suspect some on the right might suggest Congress is widely hated, but there’s no reason to necessarily assume that’s a reflection on Republicans or their agenda. It’s a fair point. Democrats are ostensibly in the majority in the Senate, after all.

    But while we wait for some of the details of the NYT/CBS poll, it looks like the GOP is feeling the brunt of the public backlash against Congress. Support for congressional Democrats is nine points higher than support for congressional Republicans, 28% to 19%. Obviously, Dems aren’t exactly winning any popularity contests, but if GOP officials believe they’re impressing the public with their post-midterm “leadership,” they’re delusional.

    The Times piece didn’t mention President Obama’s approval rating, but I’d guess it’s well over triple the support Congress enjoys.

    The depths of public attitudes towards Congress could, in theory, have some political consequences. President Obama, for example, may start running against the do-nothing institution, trying to shift public blame in a more constructive direction.

    Of course, if congressional Republicans, perhaps even motivated by self-interest, wanted to boost the institution’s approval rating, they could do so rather easily — they could work with Democrats on a jobs bill, among other things. It would work wonders for their poll numbers.

    But we know that won’t happen. The GOP’s far-right base wouldn’t tolerate it; Republicans wouldn’t risk boosting the president’s standing; conservatives don’t understand the basics of economics anyway; and since the GOP wants to undermine Americans’ confidence in public institutions anyway, it’s inclined to reject job-creation efforts to advance the larger goal of pushing voters to give up on Washington altogether.

    Still, less than a year after the Republicans’ “wave” 2010 midterms, nothing says “buyers’ remorse” like a 12% approval rating.

    • Ametia says:

      Charlie Rangel is on MSNBC supporting the AJA bill. the heat is on the CBC and congress to support the president and this jobs bill.

      • thorsaurus says:

        Good morning and good friday,Ametia. I know this is pretty vague, but I was still half asleep here on the West Coast. On what would have been about 8:00 am here so 11:00 EST on msnbc, the announcer said that the AJA is facing opposition in Congress from both Republican’ts (duh) and Democrats. He never said who on the Democratic side, of course. Are there Dems coming out against it? I haven’t seen it. Do you know of any? Or is he just throwing crap out there.

    • Ametia says:

      Hi thorsaurus. Yes, you’ve got Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu, the ususal blue dog suspsects, and soe in the CBC saying it’s too much, not enough, blah, blah, blah. SMGDH Get on board Dems and get this jobs bill passed!

      • Hee, hee. Pushback from grassroots folks is making those CBC cry babies and other less-than-enthusiastic supporters of President Obama start to feel the heat. Plus, those congresscriters whose seats are up for grabs in the 2012 election know whose coattail they’ll have to ride on if they hope to return to Capitol Hill. They better start speaking up and speaking out in support of the President’s Jobs Bill. Their “base” is not accepting any less than full support of the bill.

  25. rikyrah says:

    Obama Gets It. Do His Followers?

    A week after introducing his jobs proposal, President Obama has hit a few obstacles. Republican leaders are criticizing the proposal more loudly than before. A failed green energy investment has much of Washington thinking scandal. And the polls still look pretty grim.

    So what’s Obama doing now? Exactly what he was doing before: Campaigning loudly, and insistently, for the jobs bill.

    That’s a really good thing – although he’s going to need some help. And he’s going to need it soon.

    The speech Obama gave last Thursday was everything it needed to be. It was bold, with Obama using it to introduce a jobs program large enough, and sufficiently well designed, to reduce unemployment. And it was straightforward. Obama made it clear he wanted action, now – repeating the phrase “pass this bill” over and over again.

    But Obama (almost) always gives good speeches. The most important, and most unexpected, development was what Obama did after the speech. He went on the road, conveying the same message, in Richmond, Virginia and then Columbus, Ohio – not coincidentally, near the home districts of Eric Cantor and John Boehner, number two and number one leader in the House Republican caucus. Speeches can’t alter the public debate. But sustained, focused campaigns can. That’s how one begins.

    And it’s still going. Next week Obama returns to Ohio for yet another speech – this time in front of a bridge. And it’s not just any old bridge. It’s the Brent Spence Bridge, a high-traffic, double-decker span linking Ohio and Kentucky. Officials have declared it “functionally obsolete,” making it a perfect illustration of the need for infrastructure investment. Oh, and did you notice the location? Steve Benen did:

    …that the bridge starts in Ohio’s 8th congressional district (home to House Speaker John Boehner) and ends in Kentucky (home to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell) makes it a nearly perfect example. By making infrastructure investments — investments that used to enjoy bipartisan support before the GOP slipped into madness — the Obama administration can repair the Brent Spence Bridge, putting locals back to work, and improving local transportation and commercial needs.
    More impressive still was the aggressive posture the administration maintained, almost without exception, for the week. On several occasions, reporters asked the president’s surrogates whether he would sign portions of the bill. They refused the rhetorical bait, and said only he wanted the whole bill to pass – and to pass now. Of course, Obama would sign portions of the bill. And he would compromise too. I’m virtually certain of that. But it appears he and his advisors believe they gain nothing by conceding ground now.

    But it won’t be enough. The only hope for getting something through Congress — or making an effective political statement, if the Republicans block action – is to apply pressure. And that pressure needs to come from at least two other places.

    One is the grassroots. Obama’s performance over the summer – and, to some extent, from the beginning of his presidency – has frustrated and depressed supporters, who wanted him to be more aggressive. Well, now he’s being more aggressive. Are they making phone calls and emails to Congress? Are they getting involved in campaigns? As Greg Sargent notes, has gotten behind the effort (being led by Senator Jeff Merkley) to tie the super-committee effort to job growth. That’s a good start — but only a start.

    The other source of pressure should be the establishment – in particular, the media and business establishments. The broad, although hardly universal, consensus in both worlds is that this country needs a short burst of stimulus spending, to boost growth, followed by a lengthy dose of steady deficit reduction, in order to bring the budget into balance. It’s the approach both Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve, and Doug Elmendorf, head of the Congressional Budget Office, have implicitly endorsed in the last few weeks.

    But where are the coalitions of business leaders, whose livelihoods depend on growth, clamoring for this? And where are all the fiscal scolds, whom Obama has tried so hard to please by demanding (unlike the previous administration) that Congress pay for new initiatives and that long-term deficit reduction remain a goal? By refusing to engage more forcefully, and more pointedly, they empower and reward the Republicans who brazenly risked the nation’s credit rating — and who refuse to contemplate tax increases, making deficit reduction impossible as a practical matter.

    Maybe all of these people will speak out soon. Or maybe they’ve started to speak out already, and I haven’t noticed it. This much I know: Obama is doing his part to focus the debate on jobs, to pass legislation that can boost the economy, and to frame a clear political choice for the voters. In short, he’s leading. But even the best leaders need help from some followers.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Friday, September 16, 2011
    The Keystone To The 2012 Election
    Posted by Zandar

    In a rare admission of logic, GOP Rep. Pete Sessions is far more worried that the Dems will bring the noise to Pennsylvania’s suburban swing districts and cause more serious damage to the GOP political power in the House than the Republicans would gain under the state GOP’s electoral college split scheme

    Keystone GOP leaders want the battleground state, which has gone Democratic in the past five presidential elections, to divvy up its 20 votes in the Electoral College according to the winner of each congressional district, rather than the winner-take-all system used by all but two states. In theory, it could allow Republicans to win the majority of Pennsylvania electoral votes even if they lose the popular vote. That’s because many of Pennsylvania’s rural congressional districts are heavily Republican.

    The problem: Since statewide vote totals would no longer matter, Republicans worry Democrats will move campaign efforts out of safe Democratic districts in urban population centers and into the more moderate suburbs. That could put extra heat on GOP House candidates.

    “This proposal will have a minimal effect on the presidential race at the expense of negatively altering the political landscape for Republicans in Pennsylvania’s House races,” said Mr. Sessions, a Texan who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee.

    On one hand, seeing this in the WSJ made me smile. TP vs DC Conserva-schism time.

    On the other hand, the protesting by Sessions and some PA Republicans in those swing districts seems hollow to the point of being self-serving fantastical crap. Specifically, it seems designed to blunt Democratic party criticism of the GOP’s proposed move as a naked power grab.

    On the gripping hand, I’ve been saying all along that Republicans are winning because they are gathering power at the state level and redistricting Democrats out of existence, leaving a majority of districts as suburban and exurban safe GOP zones and forcing all the state’s Dems into one or two minority-majority districts that are 90% blue. Sessions’ concerns do reflect the downside of that strategy that some of those new GOP districts are stretched thin. Only so many Tea Party bigots to go around, you know.

    We’ll see how this works out.

  27. rikyrah says:

    September 16, 2011 8:00 AM

    After flurry of Senate action, now what?

    By Steve Benen

    It’s been a while since Congress passed legislation of note, so it’s worth pausing to consider the flurry of activity on the Senate floor yesterday, some of which was positive and some of which pointed towards more gridlock.

    First, the good news. A month after a partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, caused by House Republican intransigence, we were on track for another, even more serious FAA shutdown this week. There was bipartisan support for a spending measure to fund both the FAA and federal highway projects, but one senator, Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn (R), stood in the way. If Coburn succeeded, up to 80,000 workers would be forced from their jobs as early as tomorrow.

    Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.

    The Senate on Thursday approved legislation that extends taxes funding the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through January, and extends taxes funding federal highway spending through March.

    The bill passed the House with ease on Tuesday and won Senate approval in a 92-6 vote. The bill was announced on Monday as the result of an agreement between House and Senate leaders, and was seen as high-priority because FAA funding will expire on Friday without reauthorization

    Coburn’s problem was language in the bill that requires some transportation funds to be spent on bike paths, trees along roadways, and infrastructure to direct storm runoff. The far-right Oklahoman said the funding shouldn’t carry such directives, and was willing to kill the entire bill over this. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Jim Inhofe (Okla.), the chair and ranking member on the Environment and Public Works Committee, convinced Coburn reforms were on the way that would give states added flexibility, so Coburn backed down. Here’s the roll call on the final vote.

    The bill has already passed the House and President Obama will sign it today.

    The other Senate vote is a little more complicated. By a 62-to-37 margin, members agreed to direct $6.9 billion in funding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster relief.

    Reid’s plan stands in contrast to one put forward by House Republicans, which would provide for another $1 billion in the current fiscal year, and another $2.65 billion in the next fiscal year for FEMA. But House Democrats today were already signaling disagreement with that plan, partly because they want more funding and partly because they disagree with the GOP offsets.

    Senate acceptance of Reid’s amendment means the two chambers will likely have to sort out their differences on how exactly to boost FEMA funding. The House GOP proposal has not been approved yet, but is part of the continuing resolution introduced this week that would fund the federal government through Nov. 18.

    Under the Senate’s approach, disaster relief is treated the way Congress has always treated it — as an emergency, without offsets. House Republicans say that’s not good enough, and insist on slashing funding for a job-creating Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program to help pay for the emergency aid.

    If the House GOP ignores the Senate’s FEMA bill, and tries to short change FEMA through the House Republicans’ continuing resolution, we may be looking at another shutdown showdown.

    I’d note for context that this process really shouldn’t be quite this difficult, but it’s what American voters asked for when they went to the polls in November 2010.

  28. rikyrah says:

    September 16, 2011 8:40 AM
    Boehner’s wrong answers to the wrong questions
    By Steve Benen

    Politics in the United States would be vastly easier if Democrats and Republicans shared a common reality.

    Let’s take economic policy. Under an ideal scenario, policymakers, regardless of party or ideology, would recognize the fact that there’s a problem, diagnose the cause of the problem, and then fight like hell over the best solution to the problem. All available evidence tells, for example, that the U.S. economy lacks demand. At this point, common sense tells us that Democrats and Republicans can and should bicker, argue, and debate over how to increase demand, thereby boosting the economy and creating jobs.

    But this can’t happen because there is no shared reality, and GOP officials don’t see the same problems everyone else sees.

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) delivered a speech in DC yesterday, intended as something of a bookend to President Obama’s joint-session speech last week. The point of Boehner’s remarks was to diagnose the problem and point towards a solution. But what quickly became apparent is the fact that Boehner, who’s struggled with economic illiteracy in the past, is looking through a prism that badly skews the basics of reality.

    As Ezra Klein noted yesterday, the House Speaker “never mentioned Wall Street, or foreclosures. There was no talk of consumer debt or weak demand. Nothing about underwater homeowners or European crises.” In Boehner’s strange world, the federal government is simply standing in the economy’s way. That’s it. That’s the whole scope of the problem. Full stop.

    For lack of a better word, this is just dumb. It’s a conclusion based on nothing but ideological wishes and a partisan agenda that’s wholly unrelated to actual economic circumstances.

    Consider this gem:

    “In New York City back in May, I warned that if we don’t take action soon, the markets will do it for us. Last month, the markets took action, in the form of a downgrade and the possibility of future downgrades that caused the markets to tumble.”

    None of this makes any sense. The downgrade was almost entirely Boehner’s fault, and the drop in the major Wall Street indexes had nothing to do with S&P’s opinions about American politics. Indeed, global investors have generally ignored the downgrade of U.S. debt as irrelevant. In Boehner’s reality, the way to prove Republicans right is to make up nonsense.

    Or how about this one from the same speech:

    “[I]f you talk to anybody outside of Washington who has to meet a payroll, they’ll tell you that out-of-control spending in Washington is one of the things that concerns them the most about our future. […]

    “Job creators in America are essentially on strike. The problem is not confusion about the policies — the problem is the policies.”

    This is just gibberish masquerading as an economic assessment. Small business owners “outside of Washington” freely admit they need more customers. More demand would mean more workers and more growth. In Boehner’s reality, the private sector is collectively engaged in some kind of political protest against public investments. No sane person could possibly believe this.

    And perhaps most memorably, the Speaker told his audience, “[I]f we want to create a better environment for job creation, politicians of all stripes can leave the ‘my way or the highway’ philosophy behind.” In the exact same speech, Boehner declared, “Tax increases … are not a viable option for the Joint Committee.”

    What about future prospects? The Speaker argued, “Private-sector job creators of all sizes have been … hurt by a government that offers short-term gimmicks rather than fundamental reforms that will encourage long-term economic growth…. Gimmicks, however, are unacceptable. As I told the president’s economic team during the debt limit negotiations: we’re just not doing that anymore.”

    In Boehner’s mind, even trying to lower unemployment is a bad idea, since any initiative constitutes an “unacceptable gimmick.”

    I’d find it much easier to take John Boehner’s wrong answers if he could at least ask the right questions. That, alas, is asking too much of the leader of a radicalized House GOP caucus.

  29. rikyrah says:

    Yee-Haw! More Hostage Taking!
    by Steven D
    Fri Sep 16th, 2011 at 06:48:36 AM EST

    This time the Republicans in Congress may shut down the government over disaster relief funding. Ain’t that just grand?

    In a Thursday letter, over 50 House Republicans, led by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), pushed Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to make steep cuts to discretionary spending in the next fiscal year, reneging on the agreement the parties struck to resolve the debt limit standoff. That legislation set a cap on discretionary spending at $1.043 trillion and both Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) are committed to funding the government at that level for the coming year.
    But many House conservatives want to go lower, and if they defect then House Democrats will have to pitch in to make sure it passes and avert a shut down.

    There’s just one problem.

    The House’s funding legislation (known as a ‘continuing resolution’) provides what Democrats and even some Republicans say is insufficient money for disaster relief. On top of that, the GOP offset that money by slashing over a billion dollars from a program meant to encourage hybrid-vehicle development. […]

    At [House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s] weekly Capitol briefing Thursday she warned, “I have two concerns about the continuing resolution. One is that we are setting, I think, a dangerous–and I use that word purposefully–a dangerous precedent by saying that our disaster assistance must be offset. This has never been. It would be a dangerous precedent to set. [Second] I am particularly concerned about the particular offset they have because it is about the future…. I think it is a very bad choice, as do my members.”

    Jeff Flake? You can’t make this stuff up, though I wish it was April Fool’s day. Then again, with the Teahadists in the House of Representatives every day is a Fool’s Day. Meanwhile over 40 representatives from the states needing disaster relief called on Congressional leaders not to play politics with the funding for disaster relief and to pass a clean bill ASAP. From The Hill:

    A bipartisan group of House legislators representing districts hit by Hurricane Irene called on Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to approve additional relief funding.
    The bipartisan Hurricane Irene Coalition, convened by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), sent a letter to the two House leaders urging them to provide additional funding for areas ravaged by the August hurricane.

    “As members of the Hurricane Irene Coalition, we respectfully request your leadership in ensuring FEMA and the other federal agencies involved in the relief and recovery efforts have the funds necessary to fulfill their mission in response to Hurricane Irene,” the letter states.

    “While our constituents are working to get back on their feet, they cannot do it alone,” the letter continues. “Please provide funding that ensures the swift recovery of the families, farms, business in our districts.” […]

    Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.) said that the aid should not be contingent on the budget.

    Welch said the coalition did not have a specific number in mind.

    “None of us know what the exact right number is,” Welch said. “And I think our position is: Let our governors get the best assessment, let FEMA get the best assessment and then our job is to get that amount of money and not a dollar more than is necessary but not dollar less than is legitimate back to our constituents. That’s the bottom line.”

    I wonder which letter Boehner is going to pay more attention to? I know, that’s a trick question.

  30. rikyrah says:

    Wanker of the Day: David Brooks
    by BooMan
    Fri Sep 16th, 2011 at 08:02:35 AM EST

    I read David Brooks so you don’t have to. In today’s offering, he regales us with a very boring and dubious-sounding story about how it took eight years for some committee in Israel to write ‘part’ of the curriculum for their high schools. By the time they were done, all the members of the Ministry of Education were dead had lost interest and the curriculum was never implemented. There might be a point to telling us about this absurdly slow performance except that it was completely typical.

    Kahneman then asked the most experienced among them how long such work took other curriculum committees. The gentleman pointed out that roughly 40 percent of the committees never finished their work at all.
    But what about those that did finish? The gentleman reported that he had never seen a committee finish in less than seven years and never in more than 10.

    I’ll leave it to you to explain why Israeli committees need the better half of a decade to do anything. Even the sloth-like Max Baucus’s Finance Committee needed less than a year to write their portion of the Affordable Care Act.

    Brooks pivots off these observations to argue that the U.S. government has been operating under fallacious assumptions about its own ability to fix the global economic slump. The problem isn’t divided government preventing the full implementation of the desired remedy. No, the problem is that the world is too complex for mere mortals to control.

    The Democrats, besotted by the myth that the New Deal ended the Great Depression, have consistently overestimated their ability to turn the economy around. They regard the Greek crackup as a freakish, unlucky break, even though this sort of thing is a typical feature of a financial crisis.

    I wonder if tsunamis and nuclear accidents are also typical features of financial crises. I wonder if Brooks is aware that the Great Depression and the Great Recession were not typical financial crises. But, I digress. It’s the lack of self-conscious irony in Brooks’s conclusion that really caught me eye.

    Over the past decades, Americans have developed an absurd view of the power of government. Many voters seem to think that government has the power to protect them from the consequences of their sins. Then they get angry and cynical when it turns out that it can’t.

    It may be true that the people have developed an absurd view of the power of government to protect them, but the government was quite capable of protecting the banksters from the consequences of their sins. I’d argue that that’s where Brooks should look for the origins of people’s anger and cynicism. Propping up the banks was a necessary evil. We needed to get them lending again. But that didn’t mean that a lot of people shouldn’t have gone to prison. And it didn’t mean that they should have been allowed to carry on much as they had before. There are some good reforms in the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, but it didn’t do enough to create accountability or to alleviate people’s cynicism.

    And, really what is Brooks’s point? That planning is futile?

  31. rikyrah says:

    Good MOrning, Everyone at 3CHICS!!

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