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Tue Sep 27, 2011 at 03:26 PM PDT
Gov. Walker’s dismantling of Wisconsin’s Public Education System+*
Rep. Peter Barca is the Wisconsin Assembly Democrats Leader
Gov. Walker went to yesterday’s Education Summit in New York City with the hope that he would be able to continue to paint a rosy picture about public education in Wisconsin. Thanks to the efforts of concerned Wisconsin bloggers like Sun Prairie resident Heather DuBois Bourenane and others on Twitter, NBC’s Brian Williams was forced to ask Gov. Walker tough questions about why his rhetoric doesn’t match the reality of education in Wisconsin.
As pointed out by Heather’s open letter, the facts show that Gov. Walker’s budget is balanced on the backs of schoolchildren with $1.6 billion in public education reductions. In fact, his cuts are so large, Wisconsin now leads the nation in state cuts to education, according to a non-partisan group’s study of 24 states that track education funding budget data.
Gov. Walker responded by saying that when Wisconsin’s schoolchildren returned to the classroom on September 1st, “schools were the same or better.”
That simply isn’t true. Thanks to Gov. Walker’s deep cuts, school districts across the state are laying off staff, cutting programs and activities, increasing class sizes and even raising local property taxes.
According to a Capital Times survey, 65% of respondents said their districts will have less staff, 27% of respondents will have fewer programs or activities, and 32% of the respondents reported that class sizes will be larger.
Teacher retirements are also skyrocketing thanks to Gov. Walker’s budget filled with massive tax giveaways to special interests, including taxpayer-supported private voucher schools, at the expense of public education. According to the Associated Press, 4,935 Wisconsin school district employees have retired, up from 2,527 teacher retirements in all of 2010 and 2,417 in 2009.
I do not tweet, but wanted to pass this onto those who do:
Imani Perry and Sophia Nelson have latched onto the POTUS using slippers is somehow denigrating.
Pragmatic Obots Unite! has done an article tonight researching that, yes, the President did indeed tell WHITE FOLKS to kick off those slippers.
Here is the article link
About Those Bedroom Slippers….
Since President Obama’s speech at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Dinner on Saturday, some Black folks have complained about this particular line in his speech:
Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes.
Some Black folks claimed the President’s use of the word “slippers” contained “coded language” and racial connotations. Here’s what Imani Perry, Professor at thePrinceton Center for African American Studies tweeted on the subject:
Anthea Butler, associate professor of religion at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote the following in her article, “Obama’s Preaching Doesn’t Reach”:
While my Twitter feed was filled with happiness about the president finally “speaking the truth,” I was perturbed by his rhetorical delivery and statements like “taking off your slippers.” Seriously. Has the president ever asked a white Democratic audience to “take off your slippers?”
Why yes, Prof. Butler. Yes, he has.
On Sept. 14th, in Raleigh, NC, President Obama said the following:
Now is the time to act. We are not people who just watch things happening. We make things happen. (Applause.) We’re Americans. We are tougher than the hand that we’ve been dealt. We’re bigger than the politics we’ve been putting up with. We’re patriots and pioneers and innovators and entrepreneurs. Through individual effort, but also through a commitment to one another, we have built an economy that is the engine and the envy of the world. We’re not going to stop now. The time for hand-wringing is over. The time for moping around — we’ve got to kick off our bedroom slippers and put on our marching shoes. We’ve got to get to work. (Applause.)
Anyone of the Obot twitter fam that hasn’t been blocked by @imaniperry and @sophiaRedefined, please tweet both of them with this information. Both of them have been pushing this hard.
rikyrah~ good looking out! That’s a great find. Thank you for that. I hope the Twitter brigade, and others, will make it go viral to push back against “The president is disrespecting black people” meme that’s circulating the blogsphere.
Obama Calls It A Badge Of Honor To Be A Class Warrior Against The GOP
By Jason Easley
September 27, 2011
We’re not doing this to punish success. This is the land of opportunity. What’s great about our country is our enduring belief that anyone can make it and everyone should try. But what’s also an American idea is that those of us who have done well should pay our fair share to contribute to the upkeep of the nation that made our success possible. None of us got here on our own. We got here because others invested in us. We need to make sure this generation of students can go to college on student aid or scholarships, like I did. We need to make sure we keep investing in the kind of government research that helped create the internet, which countless private sector companies then used to create tens of millions of jobs. And I think most wealthy Americans would agree with that.
Of course, the Republicans in Congress call this class warfare. Well you know what? If asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or teacher makes me a warrior for the working class, I’ll wear that charge as a badge of honor. Because the only class warfare I’ve seen is the battle that’s been waged against the middle class in this country for a decade.
Chris Christie To The Rescue!
Why does the Christie boosterism continue? Yesterday was close to unbearable. Nate Silver has a theory:
One way to view the 2012 campaign is as an effort by the Republican Party to identify a viable, electable alternative to Mr. Romney. With other candidates, like Mr. Perry, potentially failing on the electability front, it is easy to see Mr. Christie’s appeal. The fact that Mr. Christie’s ideology is somewhat amorphous — without, like Mr. Romney’s, seeming slippery — is a potential sign of strength, an indication that he may have the persuasive abilities to rally the party behind him, while also appealing to general election voters.
Larison is puzzled by elite dissatisfaction with Romney. I am a little as well. He’s been the best debater and the best campaigner so far. He has executive experience. He’s from a blue state. He ran last time. He’s got the money. Could it be they worry that Mormonism really could depress the Christianist base a little? Or that Romey would be so weak a president vis-a-vis his party he couldn’t truly govern effectively? Since the GOP elites seem to have stopped caring about government a long time ago, I suspect it’s the sectarian prejudice that’s gnawing at them. Hey: feed the tiger and you have to ride it. A political party not based on religious dogma would not have this problem.
September 27, 2011 01:25 PM
Dr. Cornel West Tells Martin Bashir President Obama Should Apologize To His Critics
On Martin Bashir’s show today, Dr. Cornel West took aim at President Obama’s speech to the Congressional Black Caucus. At one point West said the President should apologize to critics like Tavis Smiley and himself, because they are speaking out of love for African-Americans and poor people, something he doesn’t believe President Obama is doing.
Their discussion led off with Martin Bashir asking Dr. West point-blank whether or not he was hurt when he wasn’t contacted by the White House after doing campaign events for then-Senator Obama. Here is his response:
OBAMA: Look, the other thing I don’t want you to just kind of slip in there is this notion that African-American leaders of late have been critical. There have been a handful of African-American leaders who have been critical. They were critical when I was running for President. There’s always going to be somebody who’s critical of the President of the United States. That’s my job, in part, particularly when the economy is going as badly as it is right now. People are going to have concerns and they should.
BASHIR: Dr. West, you opposed him in terms of policy, in terms of economics. But were you also hurt personally, because as I understand it, you kept calling him in the early stages of his Presidency. You said you prayed for him, prayed for him on the telephone —
WEST: Oh, absolutely —
BASHIR: But he didn’t return your calls. Did that hurt?
WEST: Well, no I think the only thing we do — we just wanted a ‘thank you’ after 65 events. That’s not a petty thing. It’s personal, but I take these kind of things quite seriously in terms of the sacrifice one makes. But keep in mind —
BASHIR: So you were hurt.
They then transition into the discussion about the Congressional Black Caucus speech (transcript clip at the end of this post for reference).
WEST: Well, I was hurt only in the sense when you do sixty-five events and there’s no thank-you, there’s no gratitude, it says something about the person, you see what I mean? And not only that but when you look at the speech that he gave at the, uh, the Congressional Black Caucus, you know, offensive, condescending, insulting, disrespectful — stop
BASHIR/WEST: Stop grumbling, stop complaining, stop crying
WEST: I said to myself Oh my God, can you imagine him saying that to Wall Street people, saying that to the Catholics, saying that to the gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, saying that to the Jewish brothers and sisters? Something hit me so deeply in terms of this sense that he can somehow say what he wants to say and get along with it, because black people have been so protective, because black people know that vicious right-wing critics, who I actually — I’m in solidarity with him against those critics. It’s clear the Republican party is a combination of mendacity as well as mean-spiritedness, but at the same time here he comes along with this kind of disrespect for language toward the very people who have been protective of him. I’m saying what is going on, what is going on in his mind?
BASHIR: Do you heed what he said? Stop complaining?
WEST: Well, let me put it this way. There is a genius named Bob Marley who named his group the Wailers. There’s a qualitative difference between wailing and whining. Wailing is a cry for help against a backdrop of catastrophe. That’s what Wall Street had. They cried for help, they got $700 billion dollars. Working people cry for help, poor people cry for help, they get very little. Whining is a cry of self-pity associated with a sentimental disposition. Wall Street whines when it’s doing very well but they want more from the President. You see what I mean? The well-to-do groups whine when they have wealth privilege but want more from the President. Can you imagine Brother Barack Obama going to the Business Roundtable and saying stop grumbling, stop complaining, stop whining, stop crying? Never. What did he say to them? He said, I’m going to deliver for you. He said I’m sorry, I should of brought you a cake.
We have got 42% of our black children living in poverty. 22% we talked about before living in poverty. They have a right to cry. They have a right to have a legitimate grievance, so I think the President ought to apologize, I think he ought to ask for our forgiveness.
WEST: Yes, we’ve been subdued. The only persons who have really been out there and critical — Tavis Smiley, myself and a few others. We get demonized, and keep in mind when he says African-American leaders, I want to make this very clear: I’m not a black leader. I’m a lover of black people. I’m not a leader of black people. I’m a leader of anybody concerned about poor people —
you know what’s on the tip of MY tongue….
West can bite me; real hard with his snagger teeth. Nothing but an attention-seeking WHORE.
West really needs smacking. This Negro needs to get over himself.
Hi Sweetie Pie~ Keep your head up, hear? Miss you much!
Thank you! I just finished an exam. Yikes!
3Chics~ I just wanted to let you know that I’m proud of y’all for pushing back *elsewhere* against people who are trying to drag the POTUS down with distractions and manufactured bulls*ht. Keep pressing on!
Thanks and same to you creolechild. You know facts cann be real pesky for some folks!
LOL! Well, apparently *some folks* had a hard time dealing with the FACTS that were raining down on their heads, causing someone (THN) to get his boxers in a twist.
September 27, 2011 2:55 PM
Bachmann isn’t the only one confused about history
By Steve Benen
It’s been a rough year for national Republican leaders when it comes to colonial American history. Michele Bachmann thinks Lexington and Concord are in New Hampshire. Sarah Palin thinks Paul Revere rode around ringing bells and sending warning shots to warn the British “they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms.”
And now Rick Perry has his own unique understanding of the Boston Tea Party.
For those who can’t watch clips online, Perry said in the video, “There was a time in our nation’s history when people like you — patriots — they had to disguise themselves and sneak around in Boston, if you will, cities up in the Northeast, in the dark. They risked their lives in order to send a message about unfair taxation.”
Perry was speaking from notes, and he’s made this identical case before, insisting that in 1770s Boston, American patriots were “afraid to walk around in public,” for fear of persecution.
That’s not what happened.
Contrary to Perry’s assertion, nobody was “afraid to walk around in public” in colonial Boston out of “fear that they’d be persecuted” for objecting to high taxes. What actually happened was that “disguised men and others then went on board the tea-ships moored at Griffin’s Wharf, and in the course of three hours they emptied three hundred and forty-two chests of tea into the water of the harbor.” Apparently not all the tea partiers actually did wear disguises at all, but clearly the point of wearing disguises wasn’t generalized fear of public expression of dissent but specific fear that acts of vandalism were illegal. For all that’s changed in the subsequent 230 years, this aspect of American life is basically the same. People who want to protest peacefully do so freely, people who want to destroy other people’s property are more likely to wear masks.
I’d say Perry’s mistake isn’t quite as embarrassing as Bachmann’s and Palin’s, but it’s in the ballpark.
The moral of the story? If you learn American history from right-wing talk radio, you’re bound to get a lot of the details wrong.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Shutdown Countdown: Here We Go Again, Part 5
Posted by Zandar
Looks like the Dems held their ground on the FEMA/disaster relief provisions in the Senate and the Republicans have caved totally with a 79-12 vote. So how did the Dems win?
What ultimately broke the impasse was FEMA’s announcement Monday that it won’t run out of funds early this week — a presumption House Republicans had hoped would force Senate Democrats to accept a partisan budget cut, on the threat that disaster victims would otherwise be deprived of assistance for days or even weeks.
Indeed, according to a Senate Democratic aide, FEMA has assured Congress that they will be flush through the end of the fiscal year on Friday night — no need, in other words, for a supplemental funding bill.
When the need for emergency funds disappeared, though, so did the GOP’s leverage and at the last minute Reid introduced a compromise: Clean legislation to fund the government — including more money for FEMA, no offsets.
In other words, Republicans clearly overplayed their hands and got burned. Dems presented a united front and the GOP had nothing to fight with. Imagine that, Dems. Despite the truly stupid notion that standing up for something as controversial as a clean disaster bill was picking a fight (because in Washington, the Dems should always cave to their Republican betters in the name of bipartisanship) Harry Reid and company got it done.
Well played, Mr. Senate Majority Leader. This one is a solid win for the Democrats and for the American people. Let’s see more of this spinal fortitude thing, please.
That’s the good news. The bad?
Under the terms of the agreement, the Senate nixed all of the plans at the center of last week’s government shutdown fight. In its place, it passed legislation to fund the government through mid-November, setting up the possibility of yet more bickering and brinkmanship about the budget in six weeks.
So yeah, I’ll pick up with Part 6 of this series in November. Hooray.
You Can’t Avoid Politics
Tue Sep 27th, 2011 at 12:16:49 PM EST
Washington is in gridlock and no matter how I analyze things, I cannot see how that can possibly change even after the next election. The best possible foreseeable outcome of next year’s elections will be that the president is reelected, the Democrats retake the House of Representatives, and maybe pick up two or three seats in the Senate. If that happens, the Democrats will still be four or five seats short of the sixty senators needed to do anything. We’ll be back to the early part of 2009, before we briefly had 60 senators. We won’t be able to do anything substantial about climate change and nothing will be done that isn’t approved by Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Dick Lugar, and whomever else is willing to make a deal. The left will continue to wonder why the president can’t do anything to the left of Joe Manchin and Mark Pryor.
So, yes, the system is broken and isn’t even capable of being fixed through the normal political process. Maybe that helps explain why there’s a nascent movement on the left that is anti-Wall Street but has no concrete demands.
The form of resistance that has emerged looks remarkably similar to the old global justice movement, too: we see the rejection of old-fashioned party politics, the same embrace of radical diversity, the same emphasis on inventing new forms of democracy from below. What’s different is largely the target: where in 2000, it was directed at the power of unprecedented new planetary bureaucracies (the WTO, IMF, World Bank, Nafta), institutions with no democratic accountability, which existed only to serve the interests of transnational capital; now, it is at the entire political classes of countries like Greece, Spain and, now, the US – for exactly the same reason. This is why protesters are often hesitant even to issue formal demands, since that might imply recognising the legitimacy of the politicians against whom they are ranged.
Yet, for the left to organize into something that can break the deadlock in Washington, they have to have some kind of political impact. And it’s very hard to have an impact that doesn’t primarily empower the right. Disruption tends to lead to calls for law and order. The truth is that the progressive left has almost no power in this country, and almost no progressives who actually hold office have much interest in carrying the ball for radicals to their left.
The last time we had an economy like this, we also had a strong, global communist movement and a growing fascist threat. Those two movements created a lot of room for Roosevelt to maneuver in the middle. Roosevelt also had supermajorities in Congress that allowed him a lot more freedom to experiment. We can’t replicate those conditions in today’s climate. But if I can make any constructive advice to those who are marching in anti-Wall Street protests around the country, it is to make these people less interested in selecting our next president for us and more concerned about unruly mobs who want to know when they’re getting their future back.
Also, this guy needs an attitude adjustment.
For those of you who can’t watch videos, it’s a BBC interview with a trader who is predicting the collapse of the EuroZone and is excited to make money off it even as he predicts we are all going to lose our life’s savings.
He could be right. Maybe you should follow his advice. But it’s hard to overcome the impulse to drag him through the streets, isn’t it?
September 27, 2011 1:25 PM
The NRA’s self-parody
By Steve Benen
It can’t be easy for the National Rifle Association right now. They have, to a very real extent, simply won the larger debate. It’s over — no one is working on gun control legislation. President Obama, considered by the NRA to be a terrible threat, has actually expanded gun rights. Even after the Tucson massacre in January, there was some sporadic talk about new measures, but they quickly faded away.
The NRA can’t admit any of this, since it would be bad for fundraising. After all, no one feels the urgency to grab their checkbook to support an activist organization that just doesn’t have much to do.
It leaves Wayne LaPierre, one of the NRA’s highest-profile leaders, rallying his supporters with rhetoric that seems like a parody.
“[The Obama campaign] will say gun owners — they’ll say they left them alone,” LaPierre told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Friday. “In public, he’ll remind us that he’s put off calls from his party to renew the Clinton [assault weapons] ban, he hasn’t pushed for new gun control laws… The president will offer the 2nd Amendment lip service and hit the campaign trail saying he’s actually been good for the 2nd Amendment.”
“But it’s a big fat stinking lie!” the NRA leader exclaimed. “It’s all part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and destroy the 2nd Amendment in our country.”
“Obama himself is no fool. So when he got elected, they concocted a scheme to stay away from the gun issue, lull gun owners to sleep and play us for fools in 2012. Well, gun owners are not fools and we are not fooled,” La Pierre declared.
“… President Obama and his cohorts, yeah, they’re going to deny their conspiracy to fool gun owners. Some in the liberal media, they are already probably blogging about it. But we don’t care because the lying, conniving Obama crowd can kiss our Constitution!”
If I were trying to come up with over-the-top rhetoric, intended to make LaPierre look like a fool, I’m not sure I could have come up with anything quite this silly.
And yet, the NRA leader actually said all of this, in public. He seriously wants people to believe President Obama’s complete disinterest in gun-control laws is part of “massive Obama conspiracy” to get new gun-control laws.
I’m sure some NRA members fall for this — the group still has a massive amount of money — but once the pitch gets this weak, it’s hard not to chuckle at what’s become of the organization.
September 27, 2011 2:05 PM
A failing health care pitch to college students
By Steve Benen
As the economy continues its painfully slow recovery, the number of Americans without health care coverage continues to grow. As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, however, the cloud has a silver lining: the percentage of young adults with insurance is going up, even as the number declines for other age groups.
There’s no real mystery here. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, young adults between the ages of 19 and 25 can stay on their family’s plan, instead of being kicked off on their 18th birthday.
For most reasonable people, this is great news — more coverage for more Americans is clearly a positive development for everyone. But this progress has apparently made matters significantly worse for one group of people: College Republicans.
One of the measure’s simplest, and most swiftly implemented provisions, allows children to stay on their parents’ health care until they turn 26. And, as a top College Republican official let slip during a post-debate panel in a Google “hangout” promoted by Fox News last Thursday, that’s become a problem for the party on campus.
“That’s an issue that on college campuses we battle every day as College Republicans and that we get questions about,” said CR National Co-Chairwoman Alex Smith. “The candidate that will speak to specifics like that issue and others is going to be the candidate that will eventually prevail among the youth vote.”
College Republicans are generally rather media-friendly types, but officials declined to elaborate on the issue on the phone, and co-chairman Alex Schriver, emailed over a response that ignored the question of how the under-26 provision is playing out on campus.
College Republicans are in an unenviable position on this. A GOP activist is apparently supposed to tell a 20-year-old student, “You know that health insurance you currently enjoy? You should vote for Republicans who are determined to take it away from you, on purpose, as part of a pointless ideological crusade.”
Somehow, I find it hard to believe on-the-fence voters in this age group are going to find that persuasive.
That said, College Republicans shouldn’t feel too bad about their rhetorical difficulties — congressional Republicans don’t find it any easier to explain why they want to repeal the ACA, raise taxes on businesses, make prescription drugs more expensive for seniors, deny coverage to 30 million Americans, and take insurance away from young adults.
Dead man’s bluff
by Big Baby DougJ
The redoubtable Stan Greenberg thinks we really will have a third party candidate of some kind in 2012 but that the candidate won’t do very well:
Somebody will run as an independent in 2012. You don’t have 80 percent of voters saying we’re on the wrong track and not have an independent candidate. In 1992, Ross Perot carried 20 percent of the electorate with a pretty well-defined bloc that tended to be younger, white, male, and non-college. But right now, independents are so diverse that it’s not obvious that anyone could capture all of them.
First off a question: what did the Village make of Ross Perot? I didn’t follow politics so closely in my younger days so I can’t remember. Was Perot treated as a weirdo outsider or a potential centrist savior?
Second: while it may be a given that Lieberman-Scarborough or Trump-Fulani or whatever won’t attract that many actual votes, what are the chances that a third party candidate gets massive Establishment Media support?
I ask because today’s self-styled centrists seem so incoherent and inauthentic. David Broder’s third-party centrist fetish always felt authentic. He’d lived it, devoted his entire life to keeping exactly in the right-center of American politics on any and all issues. When he sang of Evan Bayh and Mike Bloomberg, it was like hearing Robert Johnson moan “O Willie Mae”.
Matt Miller, Tom Friedman, and the rest sound more like a bad cover thereof done by Eric Clapton. They’re not real centrists, they’re people who agree with today’s democratic party about almost everything but want to make themselves bigger than the game. Friedman mostly wants trains and a big gas tax. Miller wants a transaction tax, a huge increase in the highest marginal rate, and a big cut in military spending. Yes, they both top it off with a little of the union bashing and anti-”entitlement” talk that’s become de rigeur for Beltway elites, but it’s mostly either gibberish or something that the federal government has little control over anyway (e.g. public schools).
Today’s dreams of third parties don’t mean anything concrete. Bobo wants a real Broderian movement to fuck the middle-class, but Miller and Friedman want a traditional left-wing party with an elitist Washington face. Just take whatever policies you want—left, right, center, popular, unpopular, whatever—and start dreaming of a third party that advocates exactly these policies.
September 27, 2011 12:35 PM
The ACA and Supreme Court strategy
By Steve Benen
In a strange decision, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled against the Affordable Care Act, rejecting the individual mandate provision. The Obama administration, naturally, said it would appeal the decision, but how it appealed matters.
Administration attorneys had the option of asking the full 11th Circuit to hear the case, which likely would have delayed consideration of the case at the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, the Justice Department decided to skip that option and will take the appeal directly to the high court. The move makes it very likely the Supreme Court will deliver a major ruling next summer — right in the middle of a heated presidential campaign.
And why did Obama administration buck conventional wisdom and choose the most expeditious route? Sarah Kliff has a good piece on this, fleshing out the three main reasons behind the strategy.
The Obama administration will definitely handle the case. Delaying a ruling until 2013 came with a big risk: a Republican administration could be in power, and arguing the case. It’s pretty hard to see a President Rick Perry or Mitt Romney asking his attorney general to defend the health reform law given that both have pledged to overturn the legislation. […]
The review might not have been granted — or gone against the administration. Even if the United States had asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the case, the court didn’t have to accept…. And even if it did, that wouldn’t necessarily be good news for the Obama administration. […]
The move shows confidence. Asking for review of the 11th Circuit decision would have been widely interpreted as foot-dragging, the administration attempting to slow a case that’s almost inevitably headed to the Supreme Court. For the White House to proactively pursue a faster timeline makes the administration look more confident that it will prevail in court.
I agree with Kliff’s analysis, but I’d add just one related thought. Common sense suggests the outcome at the Supreme Court is a no-brainer — of course the court majority will rule in favor of the law. If the justices stick to precedent, it won’t even be close. They’d have to take a truly radical approach to the law to conclude otherwise.
But since the Roberts Court is quite capable of radicalism, the Obama administration has to consider the possibility in a political context. And next summer, the president and his team will either be able to say, “See? Republicans are wrong, the law passes muster, and it’s time to finish implementation and bring health care access to 30 million people who don’t already have it,” or they’ll say, “See? The far-right takeover of the judiciary is standing between the American people and the services they need. Re-elect me to help put things right.”
Either way, it looks like the stage is set.
U.S. Private Prison Population Grew 37 Percent Between 2002-2009 As Industry Lobbying Dollars Grew 165 Percent
By Zaid Jilani on Sep 26, 2011 at 1:40 pm
Today, the Michigan Messenger reports about how the private prisons behemoth Corrections Corporations of America grew over the last decade, expanding both its prisoner population and its political clout. The Messenger cites data from the U.S. Department of Justice showing that the private prison population grew from 87,369 to 129,336 from 2000 to 2009:
Then, citing figures from the Justice Policy Institute, the Messenger notes that lobbying dollars from the major private prison operators grew from $840,885 to $1,391,056 from 2002 to 2009:
This means that as industry lobbying dollars increased 165 percent between 2002 and 2009, the U.S. private prison population grew 37 percent. As ThinkProgress has previously reported, the private prisons haven’t just expanded their political influence by expending lobbying dollars. They’ve also been remarkably apt at placing friendly lawyers and lobbyists in the offices of major decision-makers like Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ), who last year signed a harsh anti-immigrant law that many expect to increase prison populations.
Ryan: Republicans Should Double Down On My Budget
In a speech at Stanford University’s conservative Hoover Institution, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) offered a recitation of his controversial, alternative vision for the country’s social safety net.
But despite the backlash Republicans have faced taken since they voted overwhelmingly in the spring to adopt his approach, Ryan says now’s the time for conservatives and GOP candidates to renew their support for that vision, not to walk away from it.
[W]e took a few dings at first, we survived,” Ryan admitted. “The Democrats’ tried the same old scare tactics for a few months, and in the first special election that took place after our budget passed, we learned a costly lesson. We learned that unless we back up our ideas with courage, and defend them in the face of attacks, we will lose.”
Ryan went on.
But once we learned that lesson and started to get our message out… well, a funny thing happened: People listened. They learned that our plan did not affect those in or near retirement; that it guaranteed coverage options like the ones members of Congress enjoy; and that choice and competition would drive costs down and quality up. They also learned more about the Democrats’ plans for Medicare, and they didn’t like what they heard.
And the scare tactics stopped working.
Look at what just happened earlier this month in the recent special elections next door in Nevada and out in New York. The Democrats threw every scare tactic they could think of at the Republican candidates running in two special elections for vacant House seats. But the attacks failed to connect with voters hungry for solutions. The Republican candidates prevailed.
Now, certainly, there were some mitigating factors in these races. The economy is unquestionably at the forefront of the nation’s concerns, and the President’s unpopularity definitely played a role.
And in Brooklyn – the race to replace former-Congressman Anthony Weiner – well, I don’t want to get into all the factors that influenced that race. As Peter Robinson reminded me this morning before we taped his program, “If you want to talk about the New York race, just remember that this is a family show.”
But the point is that we should not fear false attacks again in 2012.
This is pretty bold advice given the evidence. Sure, the Democrats attack campaign of the spring and early summer has taken a back seat to things like Anthony Weiner’s scandal and partisan fights over the debt limit, jobs, and budget deficits. But President Obama has pledged to make Ryan’s vision — and particularly his plan to phase out traditional Medicare and replace it with a subsidized private insurance system — a major focus of the election.
So Ryan’s budget will likely come back into focus as the day-to-day on Capitol Hill recedes in the media and is replaced by the 2012 campaign. And as far as using special elections as a litmus test, as Ryan admits the record’s pretty mixed. Jane Corwin got creamed over her support for the plan, leading Kathy Hochul’s victory in upstate New York. And the GOP candidate that took Anthony Weiner’s old seat didn’t actually support the Ryan plan.
It’s a big gamble. But it underlines the GOP’s seriousness about fundamentally changing retirement policies for seniors and the poor in the months and years ahead. As Ryan himself noted, speaking of federal health care programs, “you have to revisit the structure of federal health policy and change the incentives – something that many leading Democrats, with their unwavering commitment to early 20th Century social insurance models, remain totally unwilling to do.”
I’ll say it:
Video- Herman Cain Hallucinates: “I will garner a minimum of a third of the black vote.”
Posted on Tuesday, September 27, 2011, 7:30 am by Paddy
BWA HA HA Herman plans to steal 1/3 of the black vote? Because that is the only way he’d ever get them.
I concur, Rikyrah! Cain awaits a rude awakening! Black ass boot licker!
Russell Pearce Supporters Accused Of Running Sham Candidate In AZ Recall Election
Jillian Rayfield | September 27, 2011, 6:03AM
Russell Peace, the Arizona Senate president who authored the state’s controversial immigration law and is facing a recall election, is also facing a lawsuit that alleges his supporters have helped run a sham candidate in the election to dilute the vote and help his chances to stay in office.
In August, a judge OK’d a petition by the group Citizens for a Better Arizona to recall Pearce, who said they objected to Pearce’s opposition to the 14th Amendment, his flirtations with tentherism and birtherism, and of course his authoring of the state’s notorious immigration law. The State Supreme Court threw out a challenge to the election by the Pearce camp earlier this month.
Pearce is facing a challenge by two other Republicans (no Democrats), Olivia Cortes and Jerry Lewis, in an election that will take place November 8.
But Pearce’s campaign to fight the recall is plagued by allegations that Cortes is a plant by Pearce supporters to split the opposition vote, particularly among Hispanic voters.
Since she filed to run in July, Cortes has kept a very low profile, dodging reporter questions about her candidacy and platform. She had no campaign events, and only a few signs around the Mesa, Arizona area. Last Friday she sent out an e-mail announcing her campaign website, which lays out some of her policy positions. The site also contends: “I do not know my two opponents at all.”
But local reporters have been documenting incidents in which her campaign workers have admitted they were actually Pearce supporters.
Gary Nelson of the Arizona Republic described this exchange with a paid petitioner for Cortes, who was collecting signatures for Cortes’ nominating petition leading up to the September 9 deadline:
The reporter mentioned rumors that Cortes had entered the race to split the vote.
“Right,” the woman said. “Not away from Pearce. To Pearce.”
Reporter: “So she’s actually hoping that Pearce will win the recall?”
When the reporter said that seemed like an unusual approach to the election, the circulator simply said, “Politics.”
Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New-Times had a similar experience, reporting another exchange with a petitioner in the district. “She’s running on her own,” the petitioner reportedly said. “But the whole purpose is to split the vote. So that everyone who [is] against [Pearce] will vote for two people instead of one, and that way [Pearce] will get the most votes.”
Lemons also reported that Franklin Bruce Ross, reportedly a friend of Pearce who is the plaintiff on the lawsuit challenging the recall signatures, collected signatures for Cortes’ nominating petition. A number of other known Pearce backers signed the petition as well.
Randy Parraz, a Democrat and leader of CFBA, said in August that “we know for a fact that this person Olivia Cortes was a supporter of Russell Pearce beforehand and would not sign the recall petition.”
Obama Supporters to Launch Rally outside the ‘Smiley and West Radio Station’
Najee Ali and his Project Islamic Hope organization make no bones about being supporters of President Obama. They’re also tired of Tavis Smiley, Cornel West, Ralph Nader and anyone else they consider Obama haters (Maxine Waters, you listening?)
And what are they going to do about it you ask? Well, on Thursday, September 29 from 12:00pm – 1:00pm, they’re going to stage a rally outside the ‘Smiley and West Radio Station’ at 4434 Crenshaw Blvd. (Near Vernon Ave and Crenshaw Blvd.) Los Angeles, CA 90043.
Here’s Najee Ali’s support rally/protest justification statement:
“Tavis Smiley has been a critic of President Obama from the onset of his historic election and now Dr. Cornel West is leading a grassroots online community known as the New Progressive Alliance (NPA) in an effort to name a candidate as a primary challenger to President Obama. West has also teamed with consumer advocate Ralph Nader to help bring down President Obama.
Dr. West has every right to support who he wants to for President. But so do we. Dr. West and his attacks on President Obama do not reflect the opinions of the … majority of African Americans. So we cant allow Black leadership to front off our President.
If President Obama is not re-elected then the alternative will be much worse for African Americans. The Tea Party and the Republican party don’t care about African Americans or the issues that are important to us!
Stop Dr. Cornel West from helping to put us back on the plantation and send him a message that we support the President and not the viewpoint of West and Nader.
Remember back to 2000, when Nader himself ran as a third-party candidate? It’s important to remember what happens when Nader gets involved in challenging a Democrat. In 2000, he siphoned enough votes from Al Gore in Florida to swing the election to President Bush. It gave us eight years of Bush-Cheney politics and policies!
If West were being honest he would understand that 2000 was an example of what the consequences can be for the country.
A primary challenge could further divide the party and possibly dampen Democratic enthusiasm. These races could erode our ability to reach swing voters, who are crucial to electoral viability, by forcing candidates to draw a sharper contrast on issues than necessary to win an election.
By running as an independent and drawing votes in Florida that might otherwise have gone to Gore, Nader helped usher in eight of the worst years our country has ever seen. The fact that West would join forces with Nader can and should not go unchallenged. President Obama is not perfect. But the alternative will harm African Americans and the nation deeply. Lets tell West, and Tavis, how we really feel,” stated Najee Ali, Director of Project Islamic HOPE
11 of 12 Pennsylvania GOP Members of Congress Rebel Against Gov. Corbett’s Election Rigging Plan
By Ian Millhiser on Sep 27, 2011 at 9:50 am
Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) proposed rigging the 2012 presidential election for the Republican candidate by effectively giving away as many as a dozen of the blue state’s electoral votes to that candidate. Under Corbett’s scheme, each of the state’s 18 congressional districts will allocate one electoral vote during the 2012 election, rather than having the state’s entire electoral vote go to the overall winner of the state. Because the GOP will also gerrymander these districts ensure that up to 12 of them are solidly Republican, the purpose of Corbett’s plan’s is to ensure that President Obama will get less electoral votes than his challenger even if he wins the state as a whole.
Yesterday, however, nearly every single Republican member of Congress from Pennsylvania met with state lawmakers to oppose Corbett’s vote rigging scheme — warning that it could potentially endanger their own ability to hold their seats. According to the subscription-only site Capitolwire:
Most of the state’s Republican congressional delegation met with top state House and Senate leaders backing colleagues who want to sideline a pair of controversial bills: a Senate-proposed electoral college change bill, and a mandate that Pennsylvanians show photo ID before voting.
Eleven members of the state’s 12-member congressional Republican delegation met with Senate leaders this afternoon . . . . The congressmen also voiced opposition in both meetings to Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s proposal to split up the state’s 20 electoral votes by congressional district, in 2012. Pileggi, R-Delaware, heard out comments against his proposal from U.S. Reps. Bill Shuster, R-Blair, Tim Murphy, R-Allegheny, Jim Gerlach, R-Chester, Charlie Dent, R-Lehigh and Meehan.
All stressed the negative impact this could have by making swing U.S. House districts more competitive, and more expensive.
The fact that several Republican lawmakers objected to the Pennsylvania GOP’s proposed voter ID law is a particularly interesting wrinkle in this drama. Voter ID laws, which disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of poor, minority and student voters, have been the centerpiece of the Republican Party’s war on voting — an effort which also includes making it harder to register to vote and taking away opportunities to vote early.
As it turns out, however, Republican members of Congress in Pennsylvania care a whole lot less about mucking with the rules to benefit the GOP as a whole than they do about keeping the same rules in place that allowed them to get elected in the first place.
Romney’s Raised Millions From Wall Street Bankers, More Than Twice As Much As President Obama
By Pat Garofalo on Sep 27, 2011 at 10:30 am
Back in July, the Washington Post noted that many of GOP 2012 presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s largest donors were Wall Street bankers, led by employees of mega-bank Goldman Sachs. Bloomberg added today that, so far, Romney, even in a crowded GOP field, has raised more than twice as much from Wall Street as President Obama:
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has raised more than twice as much money from Wall Street as Barack Obama — an edge gained in part by luring away at least 100 donors, mostly investors, who backed the president in 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The former Obama donors are helping the former Massachusetts governor lock up Wall Street dollars as Romney races to financially outpace primary rival Texas Governor Rick Perry in advance of the Sept. 30 third quarter deadline for campaign fundraising.
Romney has raised $2.3 million from the financial sector, while Obama has raised about $850,000.
The financial industry’s support for Romney should come as no surprise. After all, he has made attacking the Dodd-Frank financial reform law — aimed at preventing a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis — a centerpiece of his campaign. Likening financial regulators to “gargoyles,” Romney has called for the complete repeal of Dodd-Frank (even though he’s admitted that he’s not sure what’s in it).
Romney spent his business career in the financial sector, working at a private equity firm that caused thousands of Americans to lose their jobs. He has also appointed the chairman of a Wall Street front group to be one of his policy advisers. That’s evidently a perfect recipe for pulling in piles of Wall Street cash.
Hit dogs will holler every time
The Epistemology of Race Talk
Melissa Harris-Perry on September 26, 2011 – 10:46am ET
I logged onto Twitter on Sunday night and discovered that my recent article for The Nation was causing a bit of a stir. Some members of the white liberal political community are appalled and angry that I suggested racial bias maybe responsible for the President’s declining support among white Americans. I found some responses to my piece to be fair and important, others to be silly and nonresponsive, and still others to be offensive personal attacks. But those categories are par for the course.
I make it a practice not to defend my public writings. Because I often write about provocative topics like race, gender, sexual orientation and reproductive rights, if I defended every piece I wrote against critics I would find little time to sleep. But the responses to this recent article have been revealing in ways that I find typical of our contemporary epistemology of race. Often, those of us who attempt to talk about historical and continuing racial bias in America encounter a few common discursive strategies that are meant to discredit our perspectives. Some of them are in play here.
Enjoy the remainder of your day and, please, everyone find the strength within you to continue PRESSING ON! (Love you, SouthernGirl2~)
Oops…I neglected to thank Illiteracy, Dahlak Brathwaite, and Def Poetry Jam for the video. Sorry about that~
Wow, okay, it should be Ill-literacy. ~
Thank you, Justin Rosario and Addicting Info~
ABC Censors Police Macing Women, Occupy Wall St. Protests Turn Ugly (VIDEO) – By Justin “Filthy Liberal Scum” Rosario. Posted on September 26, 2011
ABC has lived up to its acronym “Another Bullshitting Corporation” in spades by editing out one of the most blatant examples of use of unnecessary force I have ever witnessed. As a group of young women, not one of whom could possibly have weighed more than 120 pounds soaking wet, are in the middle of being corralled by the police, a senior officer on the scene walks up, casually maces them and walks quickly away. ABC, for some unknown reason, decided that showing the women on the ground screaming (not once, but twice!) was not too upsetting but showing the events immediately leading up to the assault was too much for their audience to handle. Here’s the ABC clip: [Click on link to view.]
Got that? Disorderly conduct. Blocking pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Obviously a great threat to society. Now, here’s what happened before: Not to sound all misogynistic here, but unless every single one of those women were Mixed Martial artists, they were about as threatening as a rabid squirrel. If the squirrel didn’t have teeth. Or claws. Or rabies. And it was dead.
Two important things to notice, first, the officer that carried out the unnecessary macing briskly walks away to melt back into the crowd (too late, asshole, they got a nice clean shot of you and your buddy’s face at 0:19) and even the large, bald cop on the right has a look of disgust on his face for his fellow officer. So you know, for a fact, that there was no justification. Yet, ABC fails in its duty to report what actually happened (police brutality) and goes for the ratings by showing women on the floor screaming (did they deserve it? ABC isn’t telling).
Feel free to tell me what a terrible person I am on Facebook here (public) or here (not so public) or follow me on Twitter @FilthyLbrlScum. Share and Tweet the love.
Thank you, Stacie B. and The Liberal Lamp Post!
Join Populist Movement to Take Back America: Rally Behind Jobs Act, Here’s How – By Stacie B.
The People are occupying Wall Street on a day that President Obama will advance a clever new plan for tax reform. If you’re liberal and you’re not excited and participating, you really should be. Despite losing several rounds to the GOP, the President hasn’t given up on tax justice. On the contrary, this time Obama’s fighting the battle for tax reform under the banner of the American Jobs Act. And his savvy approach may pay off if enough of us fall in behind him.
So far Republicans have successfully blocked Obama’s efforts to raise taxes on the rich because they’ve held adequate leverage to force their demands. For instance, the GOP threatened to kill middle class tax cuts and zap unemployment benefit extensions to force Obama’s hand on extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Then, Tea Partiers tried to force America into default unless Obama backed down on closing corporate tax loopholes.
However, with the introduction of the American Jobs Act, Obama has reframed the tax reform debate to make it much harder for Republicans to resist concessions. The President has made a very simple case to justify increasing taxes on those who can most afford it: He has tied the bill to measurable gains in employment (1% pt) and economic growth (2% pt).
In his Sept. 8 Joint Session speech, Obama justified his plan in a way every rational American can understand: “We have to ask ourselves: What’s the best way to grow the economy and create jobs…Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs. Right now, we can’t afford to do both.
This isn’t political grandstanding. This isn’t class warfare. This is simple math. This is Simple. Math. These are Real. Choices. These are real choices that we’ve got to make. And I am pretty sure I know what most Americans would choose – it’s not even close. And it’s time for us to do what’s right for our future.”
If you’ve been keeping your head down, here’s what you need to know: Obama’s using all tools at his disposal to back Republicans into a corner. He’s sounding an urgent alarm on the unemployment crisis and has come up with a justifiable plan to fix it. He’s working aggressively to build support among the People. And a clear majority of Americans support the Jobs Act:
56% of respondents say creating jobs is a higher priority than cutting government spending.
52% say it’s a good idea to spend federal money to prevent public sector layoffs (saving the jobs of teachers, police officers, fire fighters).
80% say it’s a good idea to create jobs with infrastructure investments.
71% say tax increases should be part of an overall deficit reduction plan.
Nearly 60% want to raise taxes on incomes over $250K/yr. Looking at other polls, the number of Americans in favor of taxing the rich soars to over 70%.
There’s no doubt that Americans feel the urgency to create jobs. One in 10 Americans have been out of work for quite a while. This morning, Obama will speak at 10:30 AM ET to once again call for increased sacrifice from millionaires and billionaires as a means of funding the Jobs Act investments. Obama will be selling the new tax reform plan as the “Buffett rule,” after billionaire Warren Buffett who famously lamented paying a lower effective tax rate than his secretary. By first selling his job creation package and then linking the proposal to tax reform, Obama has positioned himself well to defeat Republican obstruction of the jobs bills and to gain ground on the wider battle of tax justice.
Currently only 12% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing. Thus, if the Tea Party chooses once again to go the no-compromise route against the will of the American people, they will drive home the point that they are insensitive, extremely partisan Job Killers. The People will respond and the next election will bring an end to the GOP’s control of the House of Representatives. So, essentially, the American Jobs Act is a win-win situation for Obama.
However, without popular support, Obama’s plan runs the risk of going bust – and that goes for American jobs, too.
Please, be part of the push. Heed the call to join together and support passage of the American Jobs Act and use it as leverage to achieve tax reform.
Step 1: Add your name to the Democratic Party petition to Speaker Boehner in support of the American Jobs Act: http://dccc.org/pages/americanswork
Step 2: Write/Call your members of Congress to express your support for the American Jobs Act. Enter your zip code at the link below to find their phone numbers and contact forms: http://www.ContactingtheCongress.org
Step 3: Pledge to vote on Nov. 6, 2012: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=228502890516215
Thank you for reading. Now please share this information with others.
Tim Kowal’s Proud Stance Against Educated Black Californians
by Freddie deBoer
There are many reasons to view libertarianism as the destructive toddler of American politics. Among them is certainly the tendency of libertarians to get all ginned up about totally irrelevant theoretical problems and to remain totally indifferent to real problems. So, you know, the Affordable Care Act sucks because it represents Friedrich Hayek’s creeping serfdom, in some Matt Welch daydream, but the fact that millions of Americans have previously suffered for lack of adequate health care is no big deal. You can also see this in attitudes towards the now-daily experience of big banks fucking over people who have no ability to fight back. Libertarianism simply has nothing to say to that kind of power imbalance. Libertarianism has a vast literature about power as a theoretical entity, but it doesn’t have a vocabulary of power as it is experienced by real people leading real lives. (IOZ graphically represented this gap pretty well a while back.)
So it is with Tim Kowal, blogger at the League of Ordinary Gentlemen and member of the Orange County Federalist society, which is apparently a real thing and not a stock villain from the West Wing. Kowal is very upset that the California state legislature is considering reinstating the right of public universities to use race as a determining factor in admissions decisions.
Here’s the deal, homeslice. After California banned affirmative action practices in 1997, the number of black students in the UC system plummeted. This was a predictable result, and one that supporters of affirmative action had warned about for years. The year following the ban, the number of black students admitted was sliced in half. In a state where the black population is around 6%, black students barely make up 2% of the UC system. As college is a system that requires a certain amount of gating, there’s no sense in attempting a purely racially proportional system of college admissions. But this kind of discrepancy is disturbing, and as college is also a system that cares about fairness and which is dedicated to addressing historical and systemic inequality, it is totally within the mission of the university to make outreach to racial minorities a priority.
So now you have this scenario in California where the population of the premiere public university system looks nothing like the population of the state as a whole. The proportion of black UC students is dramatically lower than the proportion of black Californians. You can find similar dynamics in other states. Does Towal consider this a problem? Does he care that the state’s university system is now contributing to leaving California’s black population farther and farther behind? There’s no indication that he does. He doesn’t consider the impact of abandoning affirmative action at all. He hides in the theoretical, as libertarians always do, and treats the real world as if it is an annoying distraction from the important work of considering philosophical questions nobody is asking.
As is typical of these anti-affirmative action screeds, Kowal couches his argument in the terms of racial equality and describes affirmative action as racially discriminatory. But this is the real/theoretical divide exactly: the racial equality that matters is racial equality in fact and not in theory. And in California, on a vast swath of metrics, it is the black and Hispanic people who are served by affirmative action who need the most help. If Kowal would bother to look outside his myopic framework he might see that white people in California aren’t suffering under the oppressive yoke of racial discrimination but rather are richer, healthier, and longer lived than their black and Hispanic counterparts. That’s the reality of racial discrimination, not the slogan-ready bullshit of theory.
There are many ways to attack Kowal’s argument, starting first with why Kowal assumes such a reductive vision of what college is for and what the mission of the university is. And a long history lesson on the entrenched and powerful discrimination that black and Hispanic people have faced and continue to face is in order, and might make him reconsider what, exactly, is unfair in the “meritocracy” of contemporary America. But I’m afraid that as long as he is permitted to play in the sandbox of purely theoretical politics, there’s no getting through to him. Abstraction is the playground of the privileged.
September 27, 2011 11:25 AM
Solyndra’s ‘Republican paternity’
By Steve Benen
Republican efforts to turn Solyndra loans into some kind of political “controversy” aren’t going especially well. Last week, for example, GOP officials struggled to explain why they find the Department of Energy’s loan-guarantees program for clean tech so offensive, unless the money is going to companies in their states and districts.
But Dana Milbank notes an even more significant problem with the GOP’s argument: the “Republican paternity” for the program that extended the loans to Solyndra in the first place.
Loan guarantees aim to stimulate investment and commercialization of clean energy technologies to reduce our nation’s reliance on foreign sources of energy,” Bush’s energy secretary, Sam Bodman, announced in a press release on Oct. 4, 2007. The release said the Energy Department had received 143 pre-applications for the guarantees and narrowed the list down to 16 finalists — including Solyndra. Bodman said the action put “Americans one step closer to being able to use new and novel sources of energy on a mass scale to reduce emissions and allow for vigorous economic growth and increased energy security.”
Bush’s Energy Department apparently adjusted its regulations to make sure that Solyndra would be eligible for the guarantees. It hadn’t originally contemplated including the photovoltaic-panel manufacturing that Solyndra did but changed the regulation before it was finalized. The only project that benefited was Solyndra’s.
The loan-guarantee program for these alternative energy companies, in turn, was created as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 — sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), who has been a leader in the congressional probe of Solyndra’s ties to the Obama administration.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) was a major backer of the loan program, and is now railing against it. Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) supported the program’s creation, and is now trying to gut it. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) was a major supporter of the program, and now believes the very idea behind the program is offensive.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) seems desperate to make this story a “scandal,” but he both helped create the loan program and tried to get funding through it for some of his constituents.
If I had to guess, the GOP’s interest in this weak story will continue to wane given the Republicans’ role at the heart of it.
Posted at 11:09 AM ET, 09/27/2011
Why can’t Republicans accept the 2012 GOP field?
By Jonathan Bernstein
The Chris Christie presidential non-campaign is still making news today, with this new report claiming that a small cadre of top GOP donors and activists is pushing him to run. But it still remains unlikely he’ll jump in. It’s just very late in the game, and Christie just isn’t a strong enough player to easily overcome that.
But the endless speculation about Christie, even though he’s repeatedly ruled out running, raises an important question: Why can’t Republicans accept their current field?
There are three things going on here. As Steve Benen says, this is a consequence of the GOP field’s weakness. But it’s a particular kind of weakness: There just wasn’t any heavyweight available this time around. No former vice president, no former nominee, and only one former vice presidential nominee — and a terribly flawed one at that. There weren’t even very many successful politicians who had served statewide from very large states, with Rick Perry and Jeb Bush the most notable names. Given all that, it was likely that most Republicans were going to be underwhelmed with the field early in the process.
The second thing going on here is that Republicans have taken to ruthlessly winnowing the field earlier in every cycle. The truth is that a field with Perry, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour, and perhaps one or two others would look a lot more respectable — but of the plausible nominees, only Perry and Romney remain. Not only does that make the field look thin, but it also means that there are a fair number of disappointed Republicans out there who previously supported one of the winnowed candidates.
The third thing going on here is: Boredom. After all, the most recent event in the GOP primary that really mattered was Rick Perry’s final decision to get all the way in, and that was six weeks ago. The press is faced with another four or five months of writing over and over that the winner will either be Perry or Romney. Under those conditions, no wonder the press is eager to fan the flames of any rumors out there, just as the press eagerly jumped on the Donald Trump or Michele Bachmann surges over the spring and summer.
What all of this means is that dissatisfaction with the Republican field is an artifact of the process, not a hint of problems to come in the 2012 campaign. All of these early hiccups will be long forgotten by then. Despite all the worrying right now, once a nominee is chosen — whether it’s Perry or Romney — Rush Limbaugh and Fox News hosts and Republican politicians will unanimously tell everyone what a wonderful nominee he is. And there’s no reason to think that Republican voters won’t buy it
Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 09/27/2011
Federal health insurance rates lowest since ’08
By Joe Davidson
During a period when federal pay is frozen for two years, the average increase in employees’ health insurance premiums for 2012 will be the lowest since 2008.
The 3.8 percent hike is less than half of the 7.3 percent increase in premiums for 2011, the Office of Personnel Management announced Tuesday.
“Our most popular plan [Blue Cross Blue Shield standard plan] is increasing rates by just 1.6 percent, saving money for our employees and all taxpayers. Other plans also have low rate increases,” said OPM Director John Berry. “With an emphasis on preventive medicine and keeping costs low, we’ve been able to deliver quality care at affordable rates.
“These benefits help us compete for the top talent we need to tackle our nation’s challenges, and they keep our workers healthier and more productive as they serve and protect the American people.”
According to an OPM fact sheet: “Changes in each enrollee’s share of premiums vary from plan to plan. On average, enrollees with self only coverage will pay $2.32 more per bi-weekly pay period; enrollees with family coverage will pay $6.18 more.
“Enrollees with self only coverage in the popular Blue Cross and Blue Shield Standard Option will pay $.81 less per biweekly pay period in 2012 than this year and enrollees with family coverage will pay $.72 less each pay period.”
Here’s Brass Construction, with Get Up To Get Down…
Here’s Joe Sample, performing Free As The Wind.
Here’s an oldie but goodie! PRESS ON…
September 27, 2011 10:40 AM
Mitt Romney, C’est la vie
By Steve Benen
Reader B.A. emailed over the weekend with a question I hadn’t heard before: “Does Mitt Romney speak French?”
I’m not sure why this never crossed by radar screen before, but as it turns out, yes, he does. Romney spent nearly three years living in France doing missionary work in the late 1960s, and he speaks fluent french. Romney’s accent is actually pretty good.
By any reasonable measure, this is, of course, completely irrelevant. There’s nothing wrong with a presidential candidate who can speak more than one language, and the idea that voters would even consider this a negative is ridiculous. But I also recall in 2004 that Republicans thought it was hilarious that John Kerry speaks French, a point some in the GOP used as a point of criticism.
Seven years later, it leads to a strange realization: the likely Republican presidential nominee is a French-speaking Mormon from Massachusetts named Willard.
Jon Chait, who has long argued Romney’s electoral demise is inevitable, appears to be reconsidering the former governor’s chances.
Romney remains wildly vulnerable. Perhaps the latest non-Romney savior Chris Christie will jump into the race. Or perhaps Perry can learn to memorize his cue cards (or take dramatic action to shore up his anti-illegal immigration bona fides). Failing that, we may see a man walk into the nomination of a party whose electorate is dying to vote against him, simply because nobody else could stand in his path without keeling over.
That sounds about right, but it’s still a conclusion I have trouble wrapping my head around.
Romney supported abortion rights, gay rights, gun control, “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, and combating climate change. He distanced himself from Reagan, attended Planned Parenthood fundraisers, and helped create the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act. Romney was for the bank bailout before he was against it; he was for the stimulus before he was against it; and he was against the auto industry rescue before he took credit for it.
If he wins the nomination, Romney will also have less experience in public service than any major party presidential nominee in the modern political era.
And yet, given the motley crew that’s running against him for the party’s nod, Romney appears to be the party’s safest bet. That does not, however, make this any less odd.
Shutdown Fight Ends Quietly On Capitol Hill
Word comes from the Democratic Whip’s office that the House of Representatives will quietly extend government funding on Tuesday, and then again, for a longer stretch, when the House returns from recess next week.
No muss, no fuss. Though House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will lose a big chunk of his caucus on the vote, the fight, for all intents and purposes, appears to be over.
On the Senate floor Monday night, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the whole exercise a “fire drill [that] was completely unnecessary.”
But a Senate Democratic aide suggests McConnell knew full well who’d caused the fire drill, and it wasn’t Democrats.
According to the source, McConnell approached Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) Monday night saying he was prepared to accept the deal that passed last night. This was a deal Boehner wasn’t a party to and reportedly didn’t really like, but McConnell’s assent basically locked it in — if Boehner didn’t go along the story would have turned into one about the division between McConnell (whose caucus is relatively disciplined) and Boehner (whose caucus is anything but).
All of which is to say, as Steny Hoyer did on Twitter Tuesday morning, “McConnell said: This entire fire drill was completely unnecessary. He is right. What he didn’t say is GOP House leadership made this happen.”
How about some Chaka?
LOVE IT! Thanks
The Merits And Limits Of Gossip – By Matthew Yglesias on Sep 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm
Jacob Weisberg is leading some kind of DC journalist backlash against Ron Suskind in the wake of the publication of Confidence Men. On one level, I want to embrace this backlash since I’ve always though “ask important people questions and write down what they say” is a wildly overrestimated epistemological method. On the other hand, given that Weisberg is the co-author of Robert Rubins In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington I find it hard to believe that he’s really offering us a principled critique of the insider narrative as a genre. Suskind’s latest book seems weirdly unfair to Larry Summers and now Summers’ mentor’s collaborator is doing a hit on him. Hm.
My view, though, is that In An Uncertain World is a good book! As is Confidence Men though it’s not as good as The Price of Loyalty was. The through-line I see here is that while “ask important people questions and write down what they say” isn’t really the be-all and end-all of understanding the world, it is interesting to know what important people say about things. And the best possible way to do this is to do something like the Weisberg/Rubin book or the Suskind/O’Neil book and have the important person collaborate with a skilled professional writer who can put it down in a readable way rather than creating a ponderous memoir with a weak ghost writer.
The results are, of course, full of half-truths and self-serving nonsense and all the rest. But any effort to ask questions of important people and then write down what they say is going to feature half-truths and self-serving nonsense. The only real problem I have with Confidence Men is that it actually breaks from this formula by relying on too many different sources. If the book were more clearly “things Christina Romer said to Ron Suskind” or “things Gary Gensler said to Ron Suskind” or “things Alan Krueger said to Ron Suskind” then we’d be learning a lot about what Romer/Gensler/Krueger/whomever said to Ron Suskind. Instead it’s sometimes a little bit hard to know whose story Suskind is actually telling here.
At the end of the day, this gossip stuff is all of secondary importance. If you want to assess the merits of President Obama’s handling of Citigroup you need to talk to some people who are knowledgable about the policy issues, not write down a bunch of half-remembered anecdotes about who did what at which meeting. But interesting stories are interesting, and there’s nothing wrong with a writer trying to tell some interesting stories. I only wish our political culture could become a bit clearer that this is what’s going on with these books. Then we might get better ones!
PBO was TALKIN’ TO YOU, MAXINE WATERS!
Good morning, Lady! It’s good to see you too. Girl, you saving my life with that tea. Thank you~
Oops…see what I mean? (:
LOL drink up, woman and enjoy. Got any tunes to regale us this fine morning?
I’m going to look and see what I can come up with….
Thank you, Smartypants~
The White Liberal Conundrum
Back in 2007, Kai wrote what I think is one of the seminal blog posts on racism titled The White Liberal Conundrum. I thought I’d post some excerpts here and hope that you’ll go read the whole thing.
Countless blogospheric discussions on racism amply demonstrate the manner in which many white liberals start acting victimized and angry if anyone attempts to burst their racism-free bubble, oftentimes inexplicably bringing up non-white friends, lovers, adopted children, relatives, ancestors; dismissing, belittling, or obtusely misreading substantive historically-informed analysis of white supremacism as “divisive”, “angry”, “irrational”; downplaying racism as an interpersonal social stigma and bad PR, rather than an overarching system of power under which we all live and which has socialized us all; and threatening to walk away from discussion if persons of color do not comform to a narrow white-centered comfort zone…
From what I can see, though, a solid majority of white liberals maintain a fairly hostile posture toward anti-racist discourse and critique, while of course adamantly denying this hostility…Armed with “diversity” soundbites and melanin-inclusive photo-ops, they seek electoral, financial, and public relations support from people of color. Yet the consistent outcome of their institution-building agendas is to deprioritize and marginalize our voices, perspectives, experiences, concerns, cultures, and initiatives. When you get right down to it, the unrecognized political reality is that most white liberals have more in common with white conservatives — social cues, family ties, cognitive biases, cultural backdrops, etc. — than they do with people of color. I’m calling this tangle of contradictions the white liberal conundrum…
For those white liberals and progressives who become serious about extracting racism from their worlds and their lives, who wish to participate in the dismantling of white supremacism, the white liberal conundrum usually culminates in some sort of series of crossroads and reckonings. They’re often forced to make tough decisions about which of their previous alliances and networks — newly illuminated and often unfavorably recontextualized by anti-racist analysis — are worth trying to maintain, which are too invested in the distortions of the white lens to salvage, and which new directions and networks to pursue.
Read more: http://immasmartypants.blogspot.com/2011/09/white-liberal-conundrum.html
How Pricey For-Profit Colleges Target Vets’ GI Bill Money – By Adam Weinstein
The GI Bill has long been veterans’ ticket to the middle class. But it has also become a cash cow for corporate colleges. Last winter, the Department of Veterans Affairs tasked its newly hired blogger, a cantankerous Iraq vet named Alex Horton, with investigating the website GIBill.com, one of many official-looking links that come up when you Google terms like “GI Bill schools.” With names like ArmedForcesEDU.com and UseYourGIBill.us, these sites purport to inform military veterans how to best use their education benefits. In reality, Horton found, they’re run by marketing firms hired by for-profit colleges to extol the virtues of high-priced online or evening courses. He concluded that GIBill.com “serves little purpose other than to funnel student veterans and convince them their options for education are limited to their advertisers.”
The 65-year-old GI Bill is widely credited with transforming post-World War II America by subsidizing vets’ college education and fueling the expansion of the middle class. Yet recently, the program has also become a cash cow for for-profit schools like Capella, DeVry, ITT Tech, Kaplan, and the University of Phoenix, eager to capitalize on vets coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.
As a beefier post-9/11 GI Bill has kicked in, a surge of service members has left the ranks armed with benefits that will cover the full cost of attending public college. In 2009, the for-profits took in almost as much military money as public colleges, even though they enrolled about one-third the number of vets. Spending on military education benefits has shot up to $10 billion; for-profit schools’ share of that money has gone up 600 percent, as revealed in a recent PBS Frontline exposé. For example, at Kaplan—owned by the Washington Post Co.—military revenues grew to an estimated $48.9 million last year, up from $2.6 million in 2006.
Read more: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/09/gi-bill-for-profit-colleges
A fair amount of research indicates that American politicians aren’t actually all that responsive to public opinion on different issues.
Public opinion is formed, not by a politicians actions, but by MSNBC and FOX. To be too concerned about it is to acknowledge the power of a few media pretenders.
They have the power, of course, but that is another story.
You’re exactly right, “public opinion is formed, not by a politicians action, but by MSNBC and Fox.” The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle or elsewhere, which is why it’s important to verify that the information that we rely on is accurate and can be supported by facts, rather than opinion or the agenda of corporate sponsors.
They have the power–and will continue to have the power–unless the public strips seeks them of it and seek viable alternatives…but that is another story! (:
Thank you, Williams Rivers Pitt and GottaLaff~
PhotOH! Another stupid anti-Medicare sign – Posted by GottaLaff
This was posted on William Rivers Pitt’s Facebook page. [Click on link to view photo.]
And while we’re at it, don’t you dare steal from taxpayers to support law enforcement, firefighters, nurses, schools, road construction, bridge building, the U.S. military, public schools, etc. etc. etc.
Barack Obama Does The Impossible – By Matthew Yglesias on Sep 26, 2011 at 3:14 pm
Matt Miller continues to advocate for a third party in America:
This goes well beyond the jobs crisis or the budget. Take education. Democrats can’t say we need to fire bad teachers who are blighting the lives of countless kids, because teachers unions are the party’s most powerful interest group. But Republicans can’t say we need to raise salaries for new teachers substantially if we’re going to lure a new generation of talent to the classroom, because that’s admitting that money is part of the answer. Trouble is, we’ll never solve what ails education without getting bad teachers out and paying up for new talent to come in. That means Democrats and Republicans can’t solve the problem.
Isn’t Miller’s position on this exactly the position of President Obama? It seems to me that 15 months ago, Miller was touting “the exciting reform energy unleashed across the country by Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s creative competition.” I would also note that George W. Bush boosted federal K-12 spending substantially.
Or take health care. Republicans say the answer is to repeal President Obama’s reforms — but they won’t offer plans to insure more than 3 million of the 50 million Americans who lack coverage. Yet Democrats want to micromanage providers, protect the trial lawyers who bankroll their campaigns, and fully insulate people from the costs of their own care, assuring that there’s no consumer brake on runaway costs. Again, Democrats and Republicans can’t solve the problem.
Democrats wrote and passed a major health care bill back in 2010. It they wanted to “fully insulate people from the costs of their own care” that would have been a good opportunity to do this. But they didn’t. I’m not sure how people with centrist views expect to see the political system respond to them if they fail to acknowledge it when their views are adopted. There obviously are important ideological litmus tests in American politics, of which the absolute prohibition on Republicans raising taxes strikes me as the most consequential, but it’s hard to talk about them if you won’t identify them precisely.
The Power of Flat Out Lies —By Kevin Drum | Fri Sep. 23, 2011 10:42 AM PDT
The level of crazy in last night’s debate was too high to really keep track of, but Paul Waldman points to this statement from Herman Cain about why he’d be dead if healthcare reform had been the law of the land back when he was diagnosed with cancer: If we had been under Obamacare and a bureaucrat was trying to tell me when I could get that CAT scan that would have delayed my treatment. My surgeons and doctors have told me that because I was able get the treatment as fast as I could, based upon my timetable and not the government’s timetable that’s what saved my life.
I have no doubt that the typical Republican voter actually believes that when the Affordable Care Act is implemented, every time one of the nation’s nearly one million practicing physicians wants to perform a procedure or prescribe a medicine, they’ll have to literally place a call to Washington and get permission from some stingy bureaucrat….Why do they believe that? Because people like Herman Cain keep telling them so. I don’t know whether Cain is an ignoramus or a liar, but it has to be at least one, maybe both. He stood on a stage, looked into the camera, and told people that under the ACA, doctors will have to get permission from government bureaucrats for every procedure, and treatment of illnesses will proceed not according to the recommendations of medical professionals but on “the government’s timetable.”
You might say, “Well, nobody would be dumb enough to actually believe that,” but you’d be so, so, wrong. It’s not just Cain. If you’re a conservative, you hear this kind of thing from politicians you like and trust, you hear it when you turn on Fox News and watch TV personalities you like and trust, and you hear it from radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh that you like and trust. You’ve heard it hundreds and hundreds of times. Were someone to tell you that it’s not just false but spectacularly, insanely false, you wouldn’t listen for a second.
6 Right-Wing Sports Team Owners Bankrolling Their Radical Agenda With Your Tax Dollars – By Rania Khalek
Chances are that basketball fans cheering on the Orlando Magic’s star center Dwight Howard haven’t a clue they’re also supporting the radical right-wing ideology of the team’s billionaire owner, Richard DeVos. And when hockey fans root for the Philadelphia Flyers, they are likely unaware that the team’s war-mongering owner, Ed Snider, is profiting off of their support.
While establishment pundits often claim that sports and politics don’t mix, David Zirin, author of Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love and sports editor for the Nation, argues just the opposite. He recently told AlterNet that, “The ability to manipulate politics, the ability to pull strings, and the ability to do so without an ounce of public scrutiny — that is your typical major sports owner.”
The exploitation of professional sports by the powerful is most evident in the hyperpatriotism that saturates almost every major sporting event. The aftermath of 9/11 has seen professional sports, particularly the National Football League and Major League Baseball, co-opted to promote a culture of war under the guise of patriotism and “supporting the troops.” The military is more visible than ever in professional sports with fighter jet flyovers that follow the national anthem, the NFL’s military recruitment stations at preseason games, and soldiers returned from war surprising their families for all to see.
Thank you, Winning Progressive!
The Slogan is “Yes We Can” not “Yes He Can”
A significant challenge facing the Obama Administration as it gears up for the 2012 re-election campaign is that the President is not positively defined in the minds of many voters. A look at the entire record of President Obama shows that he has been a pragmatist who, while far from perfect, has led our country through daunting times and achieved significant progressive victories in the face of intractable opposition. Yet far too many progressives see him as a compromiser always ready to sell out progressive values, while many moderates see our President as a failure who has achieved very little. Neither of these views is accurate and, consistent with the slogan “Yes We Can,” we must all pitch in to help get out to the public an accurate portrayal of the Obama Administration, its successes, and the areas where improvement is needed.
Former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller recently addressed the ill-defined perception of the Obama Presidency in a recent column entitled “Fill in the Blanks.” In it, Mr. Keller identifies four reasons why, in many people’s eyes, the President has been defined by the circumstances around him rather than defining himself:
the intractable legacy bequeathed by George W. Bush; Republican resistance amounting to sabotage; the unrealistic expectations and inevitable disenchantment of some of the president’s supporters; and, to be sure, the man himself.
Each of these points has merit. President Bush handed President Obama the keys to a car that was firmly in the ditch and, after President Obama got the car out of the ditch, the GOP has done everything they can to push it back in. And there can be no dispute that the Obama Presidency has been far from perfect from a progressive perspective. For example, President Obama’s record on civil liberties has been highly problematic, some of his education policies troubling, the dive on the ozone air quality standards inexcusable, and the decision to focus on deficits over jobs earlier this year a mistake.
But Keller’s third point – “unrealistic expectations and inevitable disenchantment of some of the president’s supporters” – gets at a key issue – the failure of progressives to help define our President in a fair but positive light. While we have noted a number of disappointments above, the Obama Administration has also moved the progressive agenda forward more than any President since Johnson. Under President Obama’s leadership, we have passed historic health care reform legislation, repealed DADT and taken numerous other significant steps towards LGBT equality, enacted air quality standards that will save tens of thousands of lives, made significant investments in energy efficiency and renewable energies, passed significant reforms of the financial and credit card industries, created a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, kept the economy from sinking into a depression, held off radical Republicans who are hell-bent on destroying government as a tool for social good, and helped unseat tyrants in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. These are progressive victories that we should all be shouting from the rooftops about.
Yet instead of focusing our efforts on highlighting these successes and attacking the conservative critics of those successes, far too many progressive activists focus almost all of their energy on attacking the President for compromises and disappointments. Some even go so far as to make the laughable claim that President Obama is no better than Bush.
The problem with this approach is that it means that voters – most of whom spend very little time thinking about politics – virtually never hear a positive message about President Obama or Democrats. The simple fact is that the President cannot do the work of defining his Administration alone given the intractable opposition from a well-funded and organized conservative movement and a media that largely echoes right-wing talking points or engages in “he-said, she-said” reporting that does little to educate its viewers and readers. That is why we progressives must be involved in helping to highlight the progressive successes of President Obama, challenging conservative attacks, and offering criticism of the Administration that is constructive rather than destructive.
The need for progressives to be actively involved in defining, supporting, and constructively critiquing President Obama has always been at the heart of Obama’s campaigns and Presidency. It is why the campaign slogan in 2008 was “Yes We Can” rather than “Yes He Can.” As Obama explained in his Presidential campaign announcement speech back in 2007:
That is why this campaign can’t only be about me. It must be about us – it must be about what we can do together. This campaign must be the occasion, the vehicle, of your hopes, and your dreams. It will take your time, your energy, and your advice – to push us forward when we’re doing right, and to let us know when we’re not. This campaign has to be about reclaiming the meaning of citizenship, restoring our sense of common purpose, and realizing that few obstacles can withstand the power of millions of voices calling for change.
Helping women reach their economic potential – By Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen, Published: September 25
The American Jobs Act, which President Obama sent to Congress two weeks ago, is vital for our country’s women. It would keep 280,000 teachers — most of them women — from losing their jobs due to budget cuts. It would put hundreds of thousands of unemployed women back to work. It would put more money in the pockets of almost 80 million working women, by cutting their payroll taxes next year. As the president has said, Congress has a responsibility to pass this bill. However, even as we wait for Congress to act, the Obama administration is taking steps to create economic opportunities for women and girls.
On Monday, for example, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will announce new steps to make it easier for women to pursue careers in engineering and the sciences — fields that are critical to our nation’s economic growth. Women working in science, technology, engineering and math careers earn 33 percent more than those in other occupations, and these “STEM” skills will become even more important in high-growth, high-tech fields such as health-care technology and advanced manufacturing.
Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/helping-women-reach-their-economic-potential/2011/09/25/gIQA1dODxK_story.html
Video- Fox’s Lou Dobbs: “Some Would Argue” Obama “Thinks He’s Better Than Anyone” – Posted by Paddy
I think Lou figgers if he got a new toupee, he can start a whole new campaign. Seriously, no.
[Click on link to view video.]
Lou’s translation: “Obama’s an uppity negro, cause he’s teh POTUS, and I’m white and I’m not.” BYE BOY!
20% of Food Stamp Users Had No Earned Household Income Last Year – By Susie Madrak
So it’s white U.S. citizens who make up the bulk of food stamp users. Damn, there goes another tea party myth! I’m not shocked that this is the sole source of income for many, since I’m sometimes approached by locals who try to sell me their food stamps:
The Agriculture Department’s annual snapshot on the characteristics of food stamp households, released Friday, shows that seven in 10 households receiving food stamps had no earned income last year, though many got other forms of government benefits. Nearly 21% of households on food stamps also received Supplemental Security Income, assistance for the aged and blind. Some 21.4% received Social Security benefits. Just 8% of households also received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the cash welfare program.
But some 20% of households had no cash income of any kind last year, up from 15% in 2007, the year the recession began, and up from 7% in 1990. That’s partly because most household heads who were receiving food stamps were also out of work. Just 21.8% of them had jobs in 2010, while 19.8% were jobless and looking for work. More than half of household heads who received food stamps, 51.1%, weren’t in the labor force and weren’t searching for work.
Voter ID laws change election outcomes. – See if they impact your state.
Posted on Monday, September 26, 2011, 4:17 pm by GottaLaff
There is an interactive version of the screen grab above, and I suggest you click over and see how your state is affected by Voter ID laws. Those are the laws that are supposed to solve the nearly non-existent problem of voter fraud, but instead, suppress the vote, change the outcome of elections, and chip away at democracy:
State voter photo ID laws and other suppressive legislation have swept the nation recently, threatening to roll back the hard-won right of every American citizen to participate freely in our Nation’s democratic processes. These newly enacted laws disenfranchise many voters including minorities, low-income persons, senior citizens, voters with disabilities and students.
What do the voters who they’re trying to eliminate tend to have in common? Most of them are Democrats. Essentially, these are Prevent Democrats From Voting laws. For my other posts on Voter ID disenfranchisement, go here.
Legislators Are Highly Responsive To District-Specific Information About Public Opinion On Issues – By Matthew Yglesias
A fair amount of research indicates that American politicians aren’t actually all that responsive to public opinion on different issues. The leading interpretation of this is that voters aren’t particularly diligent in monitoring what politicians do. A field experiment from Daniel M. Butler and David W. Nickerson (PDF) indicates that legislator ignorance of what the voters want may be a big deal alongside voter ignorance of what legislators are doing:
When legislators are uninformed about public opinion, does learning constituents’ opinion affect how legislators vote? We conducted a fully randomized field experiment to answer this question. We surveyed 10,690 New Mexicans about the Governor’s spending proposals for a special summer session held in the summer of 2008. District-specific survey results were then shared with a randomly selected half of the legislature. The legislators receiving their district-specific survey results were much more likely to vote in line with constituent opinion than those who did not. Our results suggest that legislators want to be more responsive to public opinion than they are in their natural state and can be if given solid information about constituent beliefs.
It’s not clear, of course, how far this generalizes. But I take it to be another reason why people shouldn’t underrate the merits of writing/calling your members of Congress and state and local representatives. Politicians may be extremely hungry for constituent feedback while lacking the resources to conduct detailed surveys on everything. They’re likely to respond to what they hear.
Hmmm…how about WE put that to a test today? Thank you, 3Chics!
ACTION ALERT*** PRESIDENT OBAMA’S AMERICA’S JOB ACT BILL***
President Obama sent a $447B jobs bill to CONGRESS on September 12, 2011.
Please call, email, tweet,or text your elected representative in congress to support this JOBS BILL TODAY!!!
To find information to communicate with your congressional LAWMAKERS, Go to: http://www.congress.org/communicate
Republican Mark Warner Wonders Why His Party Spends More Rebuilding Iraq Than on Joplin, Missouri
By Steve Benen
In general, Sen. Mark Warner (D) of Virginia is not exactly a reflexive partisan. The Democrat who helped launch the “Gang of Six” talks late last year, Warner tends to be pretty moderate and uncomfortable with ideological fights. This realization made his comments on CNN yesterday that much more interesting. The topic at hand was the threat of a government shutdown and the way in which House Republicans have picked a fight over financing disaster relief — the GOP is holding the funding and the larger process hostage, demanding clean-energy offsets in exchange for emergency aid and keeping the government’s lights on. Warner fleshed out the perspective of his caucus quite well.
“The Senate is saying … ‘Why should we in effect rebuild schools in Iraq on the credit card, but expect that rebuilding schools in Joplin, Missouri, at this moment in time have to be paid for in a way that has never been in any of the previous disaster assistance that we’ve put out before?’”
That’s a good question. Why would Republicans have a weaker standard for foreign spending than they do domestic spending?
Senator Rand Paul blocks pipeline safety bill on “principle” – Posted by Paddy on September 27, 2011
What an obstructionist dick.
WASHINGTON – A senator who opposes federal regulation on philosophical grounds is single-handedly blocking legislation that would strengthen safety rules for oil and gas pipelines, a bill that even the pipeline industry and companies in his own state support. Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s opposition to the bill hasn’t wavered even after a gas pipeline rupture last week shook people awake in three counties in his home state of Kentucky.
Paul, a tea party ally who shares with his father, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a desire to shrink the role of the federal government, won’t discuss his role in stymieing the bill. But industry lobbyists, safety advocates and Senate aides said he is the only senator who is refusing to agree to procedures that would permit swift passage of the measure.
A deadly gas pipeline explosion near San Francisco last year – along with other recent gas explosions and oil pipeline spills – has created consensus in Congress, as well as in the industry, that there are gaps in federal safety regulations.
September 27, 2011 10:00 AM
Making good use of unruly GOP audiences
By Steve Benen
Audience reactions during recent Republican presidential debates have, quite unexpectedly, become a pretty significant story unto themselves. What started with a GOP audience applauding the executions of 234 people was followed by some shouts for allowing the uninsured die, culminating last week with some debate attendees booing an Army soldier serving in Iraq.
The Democratic National Committee released this web video yesterday, connecting the three incidents, and emphasizing the fact that none of the Republican candidates were willing to speak up during the events.
The clip makes good use of an editorial from the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, which said, “The most disturbing aspect of the WrestleMania behavior at the debates is not that some audience members booed a soldier and many cheered death. It’s that not one Republican candidate … spoke up to admonish the crowd and call for civility. Not one candidate, in situations that cried out for it, exhibited leadership.”
It’s not just the DNC. President Obama has reminded supporters about the debate audiences during his West Coast trip, and his chief spokesperson stressed a similar point yesterday.
…White House press secretary Jay Carney elaborated on the president’s remarks, saying, “There was a question asked by a soldier, a U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq, about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and the fact that when he was booed by audience members, not a single one of the candidates for president, people who believe they have what it takes to be commander in chief, said a thing about that. And he is there defending our country, putting his life on the line for our country.
“The president was also struck by, in an earlier debate, where the hypothetical question was asked about someone who didn’t have health insurance that had died and there were cheers at that prospect and no candidate had anything to say about that,” Carney said. “It’s a matter of values. It’s a matter of who we are as Americans.”
There’s more to this than just shining a light on unruly GOP extremism. As Carney put it, “It’s a matter of values” — the White House, as it gears up for the 2012 race, will be looking for ways to connect with voters, many of whom are disgusted with Washington and dejected by high unemployment. It makes the “values” pitch appealing — the message to voters is less about specific economic conditions and more about character and the principles of the American mainstream, which Republicans frequently reject.
President Obama told supporters in Los Angeles last night the upcoming election is “about values; it’s about character; it’s about who we are.” And “we,” in this case, aren’t the kind of people who boo soldiers serving overseas or cheer letting the uninsured die.
Keep an eye on this; it’s likely to be a theme we’ll be hearing a lot more of over the next year.
September 27, 2011 9:30 AM
Doug Edwards’ tax bill
By Steve Benen
At a LinkedIn town-hall meeting yesterday, President Obama heard from a wealthy tech-industry veteran who asked, “Would you please raise my taxes? I would like very much to have the country to continue to invest in things like Pell Grants, and infrastructure, and job training programs that made it possible for me to get to where I am.” The man was later identified as Doug Edwards, the former director of marketing at Google.
Most of the initial pushback from the right was pretty silly — some conservatives argued that if Edwards wanted to voluntarily chip in extra funds to the treasury, he’s free to do so. But any serious look at the issue shows what’s needed is cooperative solutions built around shared action, not a tip jar in front of Tim Geithner’s office.
The second line of criticism came from spokesmen for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who said the former Google executive is no longer in the workforce, so urging the White House to raise his taxes doesn’t make sense.
As Pat Garofalo explained, Republicans really ought to brush up on the basics of the debate over tax policy.
These two — either out of ignorance or because they’re being disingenuous — completely missed Edwards’ point and the point behind the “Buffett rule” that the administration has proposed. Many people, Edwards included, make their income through investments, which are taxed at a much lower rate than wages. The Bush tax cuts not only lowered income tax rates, but also the rate on capital gains, taking it all the way down to 15 percent.
When asked after the event if he supported raising the capital gains tax, Edwards replied that he did…. Remember, it was the raging socialist President Ronald Reagan who totally equalized the treatment of investment income and wage income, rejecting the argument that investors needed to pay a lower tax rate. Edwards, meanwhile, is earning enough income from his stock options in Google to donate all of the proceeds from a book he wrote to charity, while supporting three children.
The underlying fears of our larger political discourse aren’t limited to the fact that congressional Republicans have moved too far to the right and are too unwilling to compromise. There’s also the very real concern that leading GOP officials simply don’t have the policy chops to carry on a credible debate — they can’t address policy issues if they don’t have a strong enough understanding of the subject matter they’re dealing with.
Cantor’s and Boehner’s offices only reinforced these concerns yesterday.
September 27, 2011 8:00 AM
Government shutdown averted (for now)
By Steve Benen
Recent history suggests Congress, when facing a shutdown deadline, waits until literally the last day before settling on a resolution. This week, then, represents a modicum of progress — lawmakers struck a deal with four days to spare.
Senate leaders agreed to a deal Monday evening that is almost certain to avert a federal government shutdown, a prospect that had unexpectedly arisen when congressional leaders deadlocked over disaster relief funding.
After days of brinkmanship reminiscent of the budget battles that have consumed Washington this year, key senators clinched a compromise that would provide less money for disaster relief than Democrats sought but would also strip away spending cuts that Republicans demanded. The pact, which the Senate approved 79 to 12 and the House is expected to ratify next week, is expected to keep federal agencies open until Nov. 18.
House members left town on Friday, but House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office said the GOP leadership will accept the compromise.
Whenever there’s a dispute like this, the question invariably turns to who blinked, since everyone wants to try to save face. Republicans are arguing that the deal includes less short-term funding for FEMA, which means the GOP got what it wanted. But insofar as the larger fight was over offsets, Democrats, by being far more combative than usual, have reason to be pleased — they insisted that disaster aid not be subjected to offsets, and in this agreement, they’re not.
Word yesterday afternoon that FEMA’s bank account had enough funds to get the agency through the week immediately changed the nature of the debate, with Republicans losing some leverage.
It cleared the way for the deal: FEMA’s coffers will be replenished this weekend, with the start of the new fiscal year, with enough funding to hold the agency over through mid-November. The larger stopgap spending bill then passed the Senate easily, with only 12 members voting against it (all conservative Republicans), and another measure, keeping the government’s lights on from Saturday to Tuesday, passing on a voice vote. The House will approve the four-day extension on in a pro-forma session this week, and is expected to pass the larger spending measure when members return on Tuesday.
It’s worth noting, by the way, that the deal struck last night is practically identical to the compromise House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sketched out last week. It’s almost as if Pelosi knows what she’s doing when it comes to the lawmaking process.
I’d note just two other angles to keep in mind. First, I’m delighted that a deal was reached — shutdowns don’t do anyone any favors — but no one should mistake the agreement as evidence of an effective legislative branch of government. As we discussed last week, no one should be impressed when Washington manages to somehow keep the lights on. The fact that a shutdown was even a possibility this week only reinforces fears that Congress is simply hopeless — lawmakers shouldn’t struggle to complete the most basic tasks, and avoiding shutdowns need not be deemed an accomplishment.
And second, all of this hullabaloo was over a spending measure that only funds the government for about six weeks — at which point we will, of course, have yet another threat of a shutdown. I’ll have more on that story coming up this morning.
The Republicans Can Win, but They Can’t Lead
Jon Huntsman, poor dear, truly is a lost soul. He came here this weekend, for the Florida presidential debate and the ensuing straw poll, running what appeared to be a complicated simulacrum of a national presidential campaign. This placed him in a subcategory of Republican contenders along with Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and, oddly enough, Rick Santorum, who is running a show not unlike Huntsman’s, although Huntsman appears to be trying to get elected leader of the United States of America while Santorum seems to be angling for the job of patriarch of Antioch. Most everybody else — the rising Herman Cain, the faltering Michele Bachmann, and Ron Paul, who’s always been really good at it — seems to be content with fashioning a cult of personality. And then there’s Newt Gingrich, who is actually on an extended book tour.
So, anyway, here’s Huntsman — smart, educated, speaks fluent Mandarin — and he’s sidling up to the proposition that he’s the rational one in the house like a drunk edging toward his first AA meeting, talking to a crowd that, just minutes before, had given several wild ovations to a candidate for the U.S. Senate named Colonel Mike McAlister, who promised that he will fight the “threats facing America today.” These apparently include the slow introduction into our judicial system of the principles of Sharia law, the ongoing threat of Communism to the structure of our families, and the implementation of… Agenda 21! At this point, I think Colonel Mike was auditioning to do movie trailers for Jerry Bruckheimer.
But the hall ate it up, especially the part about Agenda 21, a rather unremarkable proposal from the United Nations regarding a plan for sustainable development of the world’s resources and one that the United States Congress, a marginally sustainable ecosystem, has declined in its infinite wisdom to endorse anyway. Nonetheless, it was an article of faith in this hall that Agenda 21 — excuse me, Agenda 21! — is a plot by U.N. one-worlders to demolish American sovereignty, one farm at a time. In June, when President Obama signed an executive order creating the White House Rural Council, Glenn Beck’s news site, The Blaze, spotted in that order the unmistakable signs of Agenda 21 and sent out a general alarm. This distracted the faithful from their fears about the NAFTA Superhighway, the nonexistent road that was the previously The Most Serious Threat to our national sovereignty, and a low bridge for Rick Perry, as we shall see. It also probably also sold a lot of gold for someone.
So Huntsman got up to speak and his problem was plain from the outset. He might speak fluent Mandarin, but he does not speak talk-show at all and his Paranoid is at a very rudimentary level. He assured his audience that he did not come here to pander to them. And then proceeded to make his way through a story in which some coincidences attending his family’s adoption of a daughter from China were attributed to the Almighty. The story ended with his daughter’s reply to someone who asked her whom it was that had found her in the vegetable market where she’d been abandoned.
“She replied, simply, ‘Jesus,'” said Huntsman.
“We call her our little bean curd,” he confided to the crowd, which was enough, as Dorothy Parker once put it, to make you fwow up.
Huntsman moved on and announced, proudly, that he was “the only candidate who unequivocally supports the Ryan Plan.” This means the budget proposal put forth last spring by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, an apparent attempt to recreate in America the golden days before we elected that RINO bastard Theodore Roosevelt and it all went to hell. (The plan proved so popular generally that Ryan, while on vacation, possibly at Six Flags Over Dagny Taggart, had to call the local cops back home to eject from his district office constituents who disagreed with him.) Supporting Ryan’s plan as a serious fiscal solution is no different that basing your foreign policy around Colonel Mike’s delusions about Agenda 21! and all the other bogeymen jostling each other under his bed.
For all his subsequent admissions that he finds the overwhelming scientific consensus behind both climate change and evolution compelling, Huntsman found some lunacy with which he felt comfortable and he ran with it, poor soul. Not that it helped, of course. I have now been to two straw polls. Michele Bachmann won the first one and Herman Cain won the second one. I, for one, am beginning to have my doubts about the efficacy of straw polls as a way of determining presidents.
It is not possible to run for president as a Republican these days without at some level having to become a parody of yourself. Running within a radicalized, self-contained universe with its own private, physical laws and its own private history, with its own vocabulary and syntax that has to be learned from scratch almost daily, requires an ongoing manic re-invention that can do nothing but make the candidate look ridiculous to people outside that universe.
This is how we get Mitt Romney, with his $290 million, telling an audience that he doesn’t “try to define who is rich and who is not rich.” (Here’s a hint, Mitt. You’re rich. You’re filthy, stinking rich. You reek of money. You belong on a card in a Monopoly set, okay? Buy a damn monocle already.)
Hell, this is how we get Mitt Romney, period, perhaps the most consummate fake in American political history, who once promised in a Senate race that he would be gayer than Ted Kennedy on the issues, and who, as governor, signed into law an insurance-friendly health-care reform act when he thought that would springboard him to the nomination in 2008, and who then reconfigured himself as a conservative in 2008 so convincingly that most of the rest of the field ended up wanting to spit at the mention of his name, and who is bringing that same act around the track once more this time, even though the health reform.
(Since he took his act national, Mitt’s finest moment may well have been telling Brian Mooney of The Boston Globe that, when he was doing his Mormon mission in France, he really wanted to be fighting in Vietnam. In other words, rather than pestering wine-growers in Provence, Mitt really wanted to be humping the pig across the Central Highlands. This is so stupefyingly fraudulent as to be goddamn close to immortal.)
Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/florida-straw-poll-6496075#ixzz1Z9wSc88C
Monday, September 26, 2011
When All Other Possibilities Are Eliminated…Part 2
Posted by Zandar
This weekend’s post on Melissa Harris-Perry’s piece at The Nation about the lack of real discussion about race among liberals touched a few nerves at ABLC, and I am very glad to see the fact she handily responds to her critics at the Nation today.
I logged onto Twitter on Sunday night and discovered that my recent article for The Nation was causing a bit of a stir. Some members of the white liberal political community are appalled and angry that I suggested racial bias maybe responsible for the President’s declining support among white Americans. I found some responses to my piece to be fair and important, others to be silly and nonresponsive, and still others to be offensive personal attacks. But those categories are par for the course.
I make it a practice not to defend my public writings. Because I often write about provocative topics like race, gender, sexual orientation and reproductive rights, if I defended every piece I wrote against critics I would find little time to sleep. But the responses to this recent article have been revealing in ways that I find typical of our contemporary epistemology of race. Often, those of us who attempt to talk about historical and continuing racial bias in America encounter a few common discursive strategies that are meant to discredit our perspectives. Some of them are in play here.
Do read the entire piece, it’s worth it if only to arm yourself with the knowledge of the fallacies that have been thrown at people who have brought the topic up in the past.
The ending is worth it:
Further, I am grateful to live in a time when white Americans are furious about anyone suggesting that they are racist. I much prefer to live in a country and at a moment where the idea of being racist is distasteful rather than commonplace. In many ways the angry reaction about even the suggestion of racial bias is a kind of racial progress.
And I have to agree, that is progress. But the piece also reveals just how much additional progress is needed. Until we can have a frank and open discussion about what people consider to be offensive, what is racism, and relations between all races, we’re not going to get much further down this path.
What continues to floor me is that if you ask a group of liberals about the need to discuss with an open mind the issues that life-long Democrats have with LGBT or women’s issues, you’ll not only get agreement but most likely a smart discussion of what those issues are and how we need to address them as Americans.
If you mention that there are life-long Democrats that have issues with race, you get furious denials, tactically deployed straw men, and ad hominem malarkey. To the credit of our readers here and at ABLC, they are the exception.
Wall Street Wank-a-Thon
Mon Sep 26th, 2011 at 11:03:42 PM EST
I don’t think the New York City police should be torturing peaceful demonstrators with pepper spray, but I don’t understand why I am supposed to care about this whole #OccupyWallStreet protest. There is no platform, no legislative vehicle, no coherent call to action, no overriding message, and very little in the way of any point. While the enterprise is less nihilistic than the Rodney King riots or the recent unpleasantness in England, it is even less effectual. I am not sure they are even being successful in inconveniencing anyone. The best I can say for the whole effort is that at least they haven’t created a right-wing backlash. If you want to hurt Wall Street without hurting everyone else in the process, develop a legislative goal that sticks it to Wall Street without further tanking the economy. Walking around in circles in Lower Manhattan and chanting “This is what Democracy looks like” is little different from holing up in your apartment with a week’s worth of free porn. It’s nothing more than a Wank-a-Thon, and I find the whole thing boring and depressing.
I mean, look at this:
Just for the record, I love cops. I do, my mother worked in the justice system for 30 years, and I’ve known a lot of really good cops, really good honorable people just doing their jobs. I’ve never agreed with the sentiment, “Fuck the Po-lice,” and I still don’t. But these guys are fucked up. There was an anger in those white-shirt’s eyes that said, “You don’t matter.” And whether they were just scared or irrational or looking for a target for their rage, there was no excuse for their abuse of authority. I had always thought that people who complained about police brutality must have done something to provoke it, that surely cops wouldn’t hurt people without a really good reason. But they do. We were on the curb, we were contained, we were unarmed. Pepper spray hurts like hell, and the experience only makes me wish I’d done something more to deserve it.
And that’s the problem. People aren’t doing anything worth commenting on. They don’t deserve a response, let alone pepper spray. When they deserve the pepper spray, maybe I will give a shit.
September 27, 2011 8:30 AM
The end of one crisis, the start of another
By Steve Benen
The good news is, there won’t be a government shutdown this week. The bad news is, the next budget fight is set for mid-November, and that clash is likely to be considerably worse.
The agreement reached last night was over a spending bill that was itself a stopgap measure. This continuing resolution was never about funding the government for the next year; it’s about keeping the government’s lights on for the next six weeks.
To be sure, Congress could have worked on a full-year spending measure. Indeed, the blueprint was already in place — as a resolution to the scandalous debt-ceiling fiasco, Democrats and Republicans agreed to spending levels for the next fiscal year. A continuing resolution to cover the next year would have made perfect sense, and saved Washington a lot of heartache.
But Republicans had other ideas and pushed a wholly-unnecessary short-term measure, setting the stage for yet another fight six weeks from now. Why? Because as Stan Collender recently explained, GOP officials want a new opportunity to use a shutdown threat as leverage to make more demands.
The commonly assumed but unstated reason for a short-term CR is that the House GOP wants to have increased political leverage on budget and other issues by being able to hold yet another potential government shutdown over the heads of Congressional Democrats and the White House. This time it supposedly will be policy riders — changes in authorizations — rather than spending levels that will be the biggest points of contention. Multiple CRs will mean frequent opportunities for House Republicans to impose their preferences on non-budget issues and using appropriations to do it.
Suzy Khimm explained yesterday, “[T]he next round of budget negotiations will feature much larger stakes, much more consequential differences, and many more opportunities and excuses for mischief.” She also walked through some of the potential flashpoints, including the larger scope of the next round (members will be debating the budget, not just offsets for disaster aid), as well as GOP goals about policy riders.
The agreement struck in the Senate last night will, once approved by the House, keep the government funding through Nov. 18. Go ahead and start the shutdown clock again.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Moving Forward At Your Own Perry-il, Part 9
Posted by Zandar
A two-fer for Rick Perry idiocy today at people are starting to take a closer look at how the Texas Republican has really run the state as Governor, and the results are frighteningly bad. First, he has a Bush-like crony capitalism problem:
In 2008, Larry Soward, one of three commissioners on Texas’ environmental regulatory agency, cast the lone dissenting vote against licensing a controversial low-level nuclear disposal site in far West Texas.
Looking back now, Soward says, “it didn’t take too much of a rocket-scientist” to conclude that the project — pushed by one of Gov. Rick Perry’s biggest political donors — would ultimately be approved.
Dallas multibillionaire Harold Simmons’ successful quest to build the Andrews County facility is encountering renewed scrutiny now that his political beneficiary is a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.
Simmons has donated $1.2 million to Perry’s gubernatorial campaigns since 2001 to become Perry’s second-largest individual contributor, according to Texans for Public Justice, a state watchdog organization. He also has donated $100,000 to an independent political action committee that sought to wage a write-in candidacy for Perry in the Iowa straw poll this year.
And second, his state appointments have no problem taking tens of millions away from Texas schools to give it to oil refineries
Three commissioners appointed by Gov. Rick Perry may grant some of the nation’s largest refineries a tax refund of more than $135 million , money Texas’ cash-strapped schools and other local governments have been counting on to help pay teachers and provide other public services.
The refund would mean more pain for some communities after a year in which state lawmakers had to grapple with a $27 billion shortfall and slashed spending on public schools by more than $4 billion. Nearly half the refund would be taken from public schools, and those in cities where the refineries are based would be hurt the most.
“We were already cut at the knees as it is, but more cuts? It’s appalling,” said Patricia Gonzales, a single mother of 13-year-old twins at Park View Intermediate School in Pasadena, a refinery town just south of Houston. Gonzales was just elected president of the school’s new parent-teacher organization, which was formed this summer after the state budget cuts left the school lacking everything from pencils to paper towels.
Sorry, Texas schools. $4 billion in cuts to education isn’t enough, we have to give tax refunds to oil companies and yank even more money from your budget. Tough. That’s what Republicans do to public education: if you were meant to go to school, God would have made your parents rich enough to afford a private one.
Rick Perry’s Inconsequential America rolls on…
Media FAIL: Lies, damned lies and New York Times
The New York Times dropped a piece over the weekend titled “Small Donors Are Slow to Return to the Obama Fold,” with the title being self-explanatory of the claim. So how does the Times’ Nicholas Confessore justify his headline? Interviews. That’s right. Not a scientific or a statistical analysis of the data donors or donation amounts to the president’s re-election campaign but interviews. Interviews reinforcing professional Left talking points that 2008 supporters of the President are oh-so-disappointed and are not giving him any money.
But in recent months, the frustration and disillusionment that have dragged down Mr. Obama’s approval ratings have crept into the ranks of his vaunted small-donor army, underscoring the challenges he faces as he seeks to rekindle grass-roots enthusiasm for his re-election bid.
In interviews with dozens of low-dollar contributors in the past two weeks, some said they were unhappy with what they viewed as Mr. Obama’s overly conciliatory approach to Congressional Republicans. Others cited what they saw as a lack of passion in the president, or said the sour economy had drained both their enthusiasm and their pocketbooks.
He does this, even as he admits, making a satire of himself, that the president’s re-election campaign, as of June, had amassed over 552,000 individual donors, 260,000 of them brand new to the Obama campaign, with an average donation of $88 and 98% of donors giving under $250. But hey, why look at the real numbers when you can base your headline on a few interviews and soundbites? This is, after all, the age of sensational, rather than evidence-based, journalism, isn’t it?
Mr. Confessore not only mistakes anecdotal data for statistical evidence, he also goes on to commit one of the worst blunders of numeric analysis: comparing data at different points in the campaign.
Through June 30, the close of the most recent campaign reporting period, more than 552,000 people had contributed to Mr. Obama’s re-election effort, according to campaign officials. Half of them were new donors, and nearly all of them gave contributions of less than $250.
But those figures obscured another statistic: a vast majority of Mr. Obama’s past donors, who number close to four million, have not yet given him any money at all.
Right, because all of the president’s 4 million donors in 2008 had already given to him by a year and half before the election in 2008. Luckily, that data is available. At a similar point in his presidential campaign in 2007, Barack Obama had 250,000 contributors, still an impressive number. This time around, the number has more than doubled, and the number of new donors has by itself eclipsed the number of total donors at this point in 2007. So if that can be linearly projected, we are looking at a total of nearly 10 million contributors to the president’s campaign when all is said and done about this election.
But hey, don’t let that distract you from the stupid narrative of how small donors are abandoning Obama. Evidence? You don’t need no stinkin’ evidence! All you need are some Professional Left whining points, print some grumbling from a few people in the first few paragraphs of your article, and claim that small donors are “slow” to return to the Obama fold. After all, how else would these hair-on-fire blogtastic whiners hang onto something for the day and claim victory?
A journalist working for the the newspaper of record in the United States should know the difference between anecdotal interviews and statistical evidence. He should be able to separate the two, and report what the data, not a few interviews, supports. I guess “Obama’s fundraising proceeds at twice the pace of 2008 campaign” doesn’t have quite the smack of the “Small donors turn away from Obama” meme. But it’s the truth. And I don’t know, but I think that some of us feel like it’s time our “newspaper of record” started telling the truth and not feeding stupid narratives set by people who think that the president’s supporters are the “dumbest motherfuckers in the world.”
The Next In Line
Tim Carney predicts that the Republican primary electorate will ultimately settle for Mitt Romney:
Perry’s run looks less like Bill Clinton’s 1992 white-knight performance and more like Fred Thompson’s 2008 fizzle. This leaves Republicans with the unthinkable: Romney, who ran to the left of Ted Kennedy in 1994 and who could have been Obama’s health policy director, is now the most likely man to carry the GOP nomination in 2012. It’s Republican history repeating itself. In 2008, John McCain was the man the GOP base would never tolerate. McCain had passed unconstitutional “campaign finance reform,” resisted Bush’s tax cuts, supported a Ted Kennedy-sponsored “patients’ bill of rights,” and advocated amnesty for illegal immigrants, among other apostasies.
Even Chait now sees Romney as a likely candidate. But Perry is still ahead in CNN’s latest poll. Andrew Romano points to Romney’s lackluster electoral record
Mitt Romney is missing something. On paper, and onstage, he is almost flawless. But elections aren’t decided by algorithms or debate audiences; they’re decided on the trail. And the bottom line is that Romney is not very good at winning votes. In fact, over the course of his 17-year political career, he has notched only one electoral victory: the 2002 contest that made him governor. Most of the time—in 18 of his 23 primaries and elections, to be exact—Romney loses.
Katrina Trinko likewise isn’t counting Perry out yet. Blumenthal puts his lead in context:
Whatever the recent trend, keep in mind that support for Perry, which recent polls have put in a percentage range of the mid to upper 20s, is roughly the same as Rudy Giuliani’s support at this point in 2007 and slightly less than Howard Dean received as a Democratic candidate just before the Iowa caucuses in 2004. For Perry to win the Republican nomination, he will need to do more than maintain his current support.
Sen. Whitehouse On Disaster Funding: Take That, Tea Party!
Democrats are hoping Republicans’ more conciliatory spirit displayed Monday night to avert a government shutdown over disaster aid is a sign of shifting political winds after August’s debt showdown that resulted in Standard & Poor downgrading the nation’s creditworthiness.
After the vote last night to fund the Federal Emergency Management Agency through November, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) told TPM he hopes the Senate’s agreement to pass a compromise bill sends a message to Tea Party House GOP members that the do-or-die brinkmanship has got to go.
“I think we were less close to the precipice this time,” he said. “I think there was a little bit more anxiety on the part of the GOP to go there, and I hope it sends a message back to the House and the Tea Party that the Senate is not going to be amenable to this stuff anymore.”
In the end, Republicans didn’t have the will to keep holding disaster relief funds hostage to offsets and risk shutting down the government and withholding funds to relief victims. Republicans and Democrats were playing a bit of chicken with the disaster relief funds, daring each other to be the one left holding the bag and depriving victims of assistance for days or even weeks.
Each side thought FEMA would run out of funds by early this week, forcing Democrats to accept budget cuts or face the threat of denying aid to victim. But FEMA announced Monday that it wouldn’t run out of funds early this week, making the gamesmanship ineffective.
White House spokesman Jay Carney spent the day lecturing Congress to get its act together.
“This is a basic function of Congress,” he said. “They ought to be able to handle this basic responsibility. A funding level was set in an agreement reached during the debt ceiling crisis — a crisis, which, by the way, was completely manufactured by the same faction of House Republicans — but that funding level was set. It should not be so difficult. Nor should the essential assistance to victims of terrible natural disasters be held up for political reasons or ideological reasons.”
Carney also referred to a story in the New York Times about flood victims who “are just fed up with Washington, making them very much like the rest of the American people who are absolutely fed up with the dysfunction in Washington.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) seemed to sum it up nicely after the vote when he said voters are sick of the Washington high jinks.
“Americans are tired of the gridlock and games in Washington, and so am I,” Blunt said. “As I’ve continually said, I support the fastest way to get federal aid to the people who need help in the wake of devastating disasters in Missouri and elsewhere.”
But then Blunt pivoted sharply, by rejecting the compromise forged late in the day, proving yet again, that not all Republicans are on board with the idea of yielding and working across the aisle just yet.
“Tonight, I voted against these two bills because they would delay the process by punting back to the House,” he said in a statement. “The second bill also stripped $1 billion in disaster relief and provides less emergency funding for Missourians in the wake of record flooding and tornadoes.”
“I support the House-passed continuing resolution, which I had hoped the Senate would have sent to the President’s desk in order to get this disaster assistance to the people who need it now.”
September 27, 2011
The GOP’s messiah ain’t comin’
The Hill recaps the GOP’s modus operandi:
It’s been the recurring theme in the race for the GOP presidential nomination: A candidate enters with a splash, then quickly fizzles, leaving Republicans clamoring for a new white knight to hurtle them into the White House.
This should not surprise. In any party that fancies itself a revolutionary party — in the GOP’s case, as a nihilistic hit squad whose ideological sights are set on the national tumors of the Great Society, the New Deal and, for all we know, the Pendleton Act — such instant furies, disappointments, realignments and holy visions of fresher prophets are to be expected. For revolutionaries are not only an excitable bunch; they are highly competitive and even cannibalistic when it comes to the purity game.
As political revolutions go, America’s 18th-century standard was a tame and relatively conservative one. Nonetheless we witnessed neighbor against neighbor, aristocrat against aristocrat, most in the service of outdoing one another in revolutionary fervor. The French soon converted the American standard into an appalling bloodbath — Pssst, did you hear about Citizen Ribbit’s latest apostasy? — which the Bolsheviks later eclipsed in crimson piety, the Chinese dwarfed in scope and scale, and the Cambodians reduced to unspeakable lows.
The Republican Party’s current ideological cleansing and internecine carnage are of course but Lilliputian comparisons to real revolutions, although, as noted, the party doesn’t fancy itself that way, and neither does its fanatically symptomatic mania differ in theory and embryosis from the real thing. They are Robespierres, without Trotsky’s brilliance. And they have yet to find their One.
So, as the The Hill observes, “[M]any Republicans are openly musing about if only [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin or Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels would get in the race.” Yet, plainly, each would face his or her own Bachmannesque or Perrylike fate.
Christie, for instance, would perhaps take another, more publicized swipe at the crazy Birthers. Goodbye Christie. Palin’s oil-cash redistributionism would reemerge as the gubernatorial socialism it was. Goodbye Palin. And Daniels might again suggest the worst possible crime: that conservatives should be polite. Goodbye, so long, it’d be curtains for Daniels.
In short, the intraparty slaughter has to stop somewhere, sometime. At some point Republicans are going to have to hold their noses and nominate at least a class-D ideological felon. I think we all know who that is. What hurts Republicans most is that they know and detest him more than the rest of us.
Time Is Running Out for Eric Cantor’s Disaster Relief Hypocrite Card
The race to keep the government funded through November 18 is on. At stake most immediately? Emergency funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help the victims of Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Bill and a summer of wildfires and tornadoes.
The September 30th deadline looms on the horizon as Republicans insist that FEMA expenses be paid for with immediate offsets before the money is allocated to the devastated states and all the while, FEMA is running out of money.
The House sent up a bill that funded the government to the tune of 1 trillion dollars but made cuts of 3.7 billion to two alternative energy loan programs. Talk about partisan – some of this money is lent to car companies and helps fund fuel-efficient technology and most importantly, provides jobs. The Senate, which had already passed its own proposal on September 15, rejected the House’s proposal on Friday. Tick tock. Tick tock.
Oddly Republicans are OK with putting rebuilding Iraq on a credit card, but they are not OK with giving money to American citizens on a credit card. Course this isn’t really odd, given the money for their districts represented in defense spending.
But the point is, it’s not about unpaid debt. It’s about what kind of unpaid debt.
Republicans are happy as pie to put two wars on a credit card, but they don’t want to put disaster relief for you and yours on a credit card, let alone rebuilding America. Why, that funnels money back into the whole system instead of directly into their districts.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) played the hypocrite card on his government blog, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had no problem diverting clean energy money to use on the ‘cash for clunkers’ program or for state bailouts. Yet when it comes time to help families cope with disaster, Harry Reid is on track to shut down the government rather than share those funds with people in desperate need. Talk about misplaced priorities & Washington run amuck.”
Eric conveniently doesn’t mention the fact that his proposal could kill 10,000 jobs at a time of staggering unemployment. He doesn’t mention the fact that if he wants to pay for things so badly maybe he should be willing to take a bite out of his own apple; If Eric is serious about paying for everything, let’s see him cut defense spending. But most importantly, he doesn’t mention that the Senate passed a funding bill on September 15. Why did the House wait until the last minute, again?
Heck, I’m still waiting for Eric and the Republicans to explain how they allowed two wars to go on a credit card along with Medicare D Drug program and cut taxes at the same time and they didn’t understand that we would end up in debt. The fact that they always want to take the money away from the other side (in this case, the people/jobs) because they were unable to control themselves when they were in charge seems faulty reasoning.
But it’s especially egregious for Cantor to wait until the last minute to try his partisan dickering, holding green energy and jobs hostage if we want to save victims of natural disasters before the clock runs out on FEMA.
With the fiscal year ending September 30, congress is supposed to pass the appropriations bill but, ever since Obama took office, we can’t get anything done without the threat of a shut down.
It’s getting really old, but even older is the media’s attempt to carry the GOP’s “government doesn’t work” water by spinning this as a “broken DC”. It’s not a “broken DC”. It’s one party that is successfully ruling by tyranny of the majority from the House. For those alleged lovers of the constitution in the house, this is not what the founders intended. Really.
If Republicans really want to pay for everything, they need to be willing to cut from their side of the aisle as well as put some revenue on the table as a show of good faith. I won’t hold my breath
September 26, 2011, 4:01 pm
Coffee Drinking Linked to Less Depression in Women
By ANAHAD O’CONNOR
Morning pick-me-up? For many women, the mood-elevating effects of a cup of coffee may be more than fleeting.
A new study shows that women who regularly drink coffee — the fully caffeinated kind — have a 20 percent lower risk of depression than nondrinkers. Decaf, soft drinks, chocolate, tea and other sources of caffeine did not offer the same protection against depression, possibly because of their lower levels of caffeine, the authors say.
Dr. Albert Ascherio, an author of the study and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, said it was too early to recommend that women load up on extra lattes. More research is needed, he said, and “a very high level of caffeine can increase anxiety” and insomnia, potentially reversing any mood-lifting effects.
A link between caffeine intake and depression had been suspected for years. Previous research reported that the risk of suicide decreases with increasing coffee consumption. And a study of over 2,200 middle-aged men in Finland found that heavy coffee drinkers had a significantly lower risk of severe depression than men who avoided coffee, though the sample size was considered too small to be very definitive.
Republicans falling in and out of love
By Eugene Robinson, Here’s my question for the Republican Party: How’s that Rick Perry stuff workin’ out for ya?
You’ll recall that Sarah Palin asked a similar question last year about President Obama’s “hopey-changey stuff.” Indeed, hopey-changey has been through a bad patch. But now the GOP is still desperately seeking a presidential candidate it can love. Or even like.
That Perry was crushed by Herman Cain — yes, I said Herman Cain — in the Florida straw poll Saturday confirms that the tough-talking Texas governor’s campaign is in serious trouble. He’s the one who put it there with a performance in last week’s debate that was at times disjointed, at times disastrous.
Perry was supposed to be the “Shane”-like Western hero who brought peace to the troubled valley that is the Republican presidential field. A month after he rode into town, however, increasingly frantic GOP insiders are begging New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to saddle up and save the day.
After watching Perry in the debate, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol — a card-carrying member of the Republican establishment — had a one-word reaction: “Yikes.”
Travis is ….well….you know…
VIDEO: Tavis a Tad Heated Over Obama Speech
By: Sheryl Huggins Salomon | Posted: September 26, 2011
All this back and forth with these coons showing their asses for attention an profit when they could actually be doing good…
Good Morning, Everyone at 3CHICS :)
Hola, rikyrah & Good Morning Everyone! :-)
Good morning, 3Chics!
Hola, CC! :-) Good to see you.
Tea, serving it up nice and hot: http://jamieonline.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/tea_cup_small.jpg