Serendipity SOUL| Thursday Open Thread

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69 Responses to Serendipity SOUL| Thursday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Montana governor wants state-run health insurance program

    Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Wednesday he will ask the U.S. government to let Montana set up its own universal health care program, taking his rhetorical fight over health care to another level.

    Like Republicans who object to the federal health care law, the Democratic governor also argues it doesn’t do enough to control costs and says his state should have more flexibility than the law allows. But Schweitzer has completely different plans for the Medicare and Medicaid money the federal government gives the state to administer those programs.

    The popular second-term Democrat would like to create a state-run system that borrows from the program used in Saskatchewan. He said the Canadian province controls cost by negotiating drug prices and limiting nonemergency procedures such as MRIs.

    Schweitzer said the province’s demographics and economy are similar to Montana in several ways — yet its residents live longer while spending far less on health care.

    A Republican state senator heavily involved in crafting GOP measures aimed at undermining the federal health care law said he will have to see Schweitzer’s specific proposal before passing judgment.

    “We need state flexibility. Let’s get that flexibility and then we can argue whether we will have more role for the government or a larger role for individual,” said Sen. Jason Priest, the Republican from Red Lodge. “I don’t want to reject it before I see the details. I am just glad he is thinking about it.”

    Schweitzer told a federal official Wednesday that he will be asking for a waiver allowing the state to abandon the federal programs in favor of one the state will design itself. Schweitzer said details would be coming in the next few months when the request is complete.

    The governor said he expects the request will be rejected, like federal officials recently did with his proposal to let him sell prescription drugs at Medicaid prices to all Montanans.

    “At the least it will create some dialogue, some discussion,” Schweitzer said.

    http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20110929/NEWS01/109290302/Schweitzer-wants-state-run-health-insurance-program

  2. rikyrah says:

    Powerful Stupid
    by BooMan
    Thu Sep 29th, 2011 at 03:59:00 PM EST

    Powerful Stupid from Michele Bachmann, talking about the Obama administration’s decision to fast track the legal dispute about the individual mandate to the Supreme Court:

    I think that it can’t stay there. We have to go with full-scale repeal of Obamacare. Of course were going to be hoping our best for the Court. We have four votes that are against Obamacare. Do we really want to put the one fifth, swing vote, potentially Anthony Kennedy, to say that because of that, we’ll strike down this terrible bill as unconstitutional? I don’t want to go that route. The Supreme Court should not be deciding our laws. That’s the people we elect, that’s who should decide our laws.

    Even her assertion that her side of the argument has four votes is highly dubious. All we now for certain is that Clarence Thomas is going to vote against the individual mandate. Beyond that, it’s a matter of whether the other conservative Justices will succumb to peer pressure or follow their own precedents. If they have any integrity, even Roberts, Scalia, and Alito will uphold the government’s right to regulate interstate commerce. As we saw with Bush v. Gore, anything can happen, but that doesn’t make it very likely that the Supreme Court will go all tea-baggy on us.

    Also, too, I don’t know why Bachmann has a problem with the Affordable Care Act since the country’s lawmakers were the ones who enacted it. If the Supreme Court shouldn’t be overruling the will of Congress then she should be quite happy about them upholding the law. Or maybe she thinks they should just refuse to hear the case. Actually, I guess she doesn’t think the Supreme Court should hear any cases. They might have to “decide our laws.”

    http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2011/9/29/15590/8603

  3. rikyrah says:

    Rick Perry’s Budget Cuts Will Leave 49,000 Teachers Without A Job And 43,000 College Students Without Financial Aid
    By Tanya Somanader on Sep 29, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    GOP presidential front runner and secession enthusiast Gov. Rick Perry (TX) touts the primacy of state control and often points back to his reign over the state of Texas as proof of its efficacy. Of course, under Perry, Texas has a plummeting employment-to-population ratio, the highest rate of uninsured residents, the greatest number of executions, the highest pollution rate, and a derth of well-paying jobs.

    On education, Perry offers the same message: “I don’t think the federal government has a role.” In rebuking the Obama administration’s Race to the Top education funds, Perry said it “smacks of federal takeover of public schools” and “could very well lead to the ‘dumbing down’ of the rigorous standards we’ve worked so hard to enact.” Once again, Texas tells a different story. Perry’s education “standards” — exemplified by $4 billion in budget cuts to education for the upcoming budget cycle — will force schools to lay off as many as 49,000 teachers and will leave at least 43,000 college students without financial aid:

    Faced with a $15 billion budget deficit this year, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed off on $4 billion in cuts to education in the 2012 and 2013 budgets. The Texas State Teachers Association estimates that as many as 49,000 teachers may be laid off as a result of the cuts and 43,000 college students will lose all or part of their financial aid.

    Indeed, scholarships for 29,000 low-income college students will be completely eliminated. What’s more, Perry’s axe to the education budget has forced local school districts to impose fees on school programs and services for students and families, universities to find outside money to continue high-level research, and some universities to consider imposing higher tuition or fees on students.

    The cuts will entirely eliminate the state’s medical primary care residency program and reduce funding for the family-practice residency by more than 70 percent. In fact, Perry’s entire education vision will result in the loss of more than 100,000 private sector jobs.

    Last year, Texas ranked dead last in the percentage of adults with high school diplomas. That same year, Texas ranked very low among states for spending per student in public school. If Perry wants to continue to point to a state to prove his efficacy, he may have to pick one other than Texas.

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/09/29/332152/perry-budget-cuts-teacher-financial-aid/

  4. rikyrah says:

    House GOP seeks to cut job training, heating aid

    Setting a collision course with Democrats that could drag out for months, House Republicans on Thursday unveiled plans to cut federal money for job training, heating subsidies and grants to better-performing schools.

    The draft measure for labor, health and education programs also seeks to block implementation of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, cut off federal funds for National Public Radio and Planned Parenthood, and reduce eligibility for grants for low-income college students.

    Democrats and tea party Republicans opposed the bill, blocking it from advancing through even the easy initial steps of the appropriations process on Capitol Hill. Instead of moving through the Appropriations Committee and the House as a whole, the $153 billion measure is instead expected to be wrapped into a larger omnibus spending bill this fall or winter that would fund the day-to-day operating budgets of Cabinet agencies.

    Negotiations between Republicans controlling the House, the Democratic Senate and the White House are sure to be arduous. The measure is laced with conservative policy “riders” opposed by Democrats that would affect worker protections under federal labor laws and block the Education Department from enforcing rules on for-profit colleges that are often criticized for pushing students to take on too much debt.

    “It looks like we’re in for a long, difficult process,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.

    House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said excessive and wasteful spending over the years had put many programs and agencies on “an irresponsible and unsustainable fiscal path.”

    “To protect critical programs and services that many Americans rely on — especially in this time of fiscal crisis — the bill takes decisive action to cut duplicative, inefficient and wasteful spending to help get these agency budgets onto sustainable financial footing.”

    The measure represents a $4 billion, or 2.5 percent, cut below current spending levels for the programs it covers. Democrats complained that the measure is bearing the brunt of cuts imposed this summer as part of an agreement between Republicans and Obama on agency spending levels for the upcoming decade as part of legislation permitting an increase in the government’s borrowing limit.

    Republicans singled out a handful of the most popular programs funded by the measure — health research and aid to schools — for small increases. Democrats were open to the idea that some of the eligibility restrictions to the Pell Grant program as potential reforms that could put the popular program for low-income college students on a more sustainable footing. The measure would, for example, cut off Pell Grants after six years instead of allowing students to receive them for up to nine years.

    The measure would cut heating subsidies for the poor by $1.3 billion, or 28 percent, despite demand elevated by the weak economy and high heating oil prices. And a plan to “zero out” the Title X family planning program, while pleasing to conservatives, is a dead letter with Democrats.

    http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/politics&id=8372929

  5. rikyrah says:

    by DEANIAC:

    Winning on framing: How Barack Obama is shoving “class warfare” back down the GOP’s throat

    The Republican debates have become zoo dungeons, but no more so than the Republican Congressional caucuses. An important Pew poll came out on Monday that showed something we have felt for a while now: Congress is dysfunctional and the President, while bruised by the dysfunctional Congress, is now seen clearly as the only adult in the room. The poll shows that the American people’s confidence in the President in handling the federal deficit has essentially flatlined at a solid majority before, during and after the debt limit fight, while that of the Congressional leadership – both Democratic and Republican, but more Republican – have plummeted.

    Have a look at the graph on the left. Only President Obama’s confidence level has remained flat, while that of Congress has taken a nose dive. This aligns perfectly with the paid-staff-and-family-members-only approval rating of Congress. In the last nine months, the people’s confidence in the president on the deficit has remained the same, and Republican Congressional leaders are now nearly 20 points behind the President. Interestingly, even Democratic leaders of Congress have lost 8 points since the May peak. Maybe this should tell the Democratic Congresscritters that the President is your best asset, get off our butts and get on board with him.

    But this might also be an indication that the American people are finally paying attention, and they know where the blame for the dysfunction of the government lies: Congress, and specifically, the Republicans in Congress.


    Just 35% say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in Republican leaders in Congress to do the right thing when it comes to dealing with the federal budget deficit, down from 47% in May. Fully 62% say they have little or no confidence in the Republican leaders on this issue.

    But that’s not all. Americans don’t simply have confidence in the president on the issue of the federal budget far exceeding anyone in Congress, his specific proposals to create jobs and and close the deficit are supported by large margins, while Republican proposals are rejected by equally large margins.

    Fully two-thirds of Americans support raising the income tax on the top 2% of Americans, and winding down wars. Nearly 6 in 10 support limiting tax deductions for large corporations – a concept that has thus far been difficult to explain to the American people and thus gotten mixed up into the Republicans’ “they’re going to raise your taxes” scare tactic. Not anymore. On the flipside, GOP proposals to screw with the poor face a solid majority opposition, and their “cut spending” mantra – which is largely accomplished by cutting spending for states and for education face the opposition of two in three Americans. A matter of electoral importance, independents are aligned with Democrats on every one of these questions.

    Note, though, changes to Social Security and Medicare has the country evenly divided, largely the result of the fact that poll did not specify actual possible changes. But what does the success of this messaging and its connection to the confidence in the president show?

    A paradigm shift: If you connect the voters’ answers to the specific proposals to reduce the deficit with the fact that the president enjoys a wide advantage in confidence among the American people, logically there is but one conclusion to make: President Obama is the first Democratic politician in a long, long time to get people to start thinking about specifics rather than being trapped into the “cut spending/raise taxes” duopoly that the media and the political Right has pushed on us for too long.

    This is a major framing victory for the president and for liberals. The conservative frame is dependent on ignorance and the idea that an overarching, simple idea – such as tax cuts = good – would rule the day. Since Barack Obama’s ascension to the presidency, some progressives – let’s call them the Professional Left – have assumed that a counter-narrative must also be just as simple to persuade people. Thus, they came up with the equally bad equations of all spending = good and all tax cuts = bad. So much so that the claimed the mantle of liberalism and opposed the first tax cut for the working poor in decades (in the form of the payroll tax cut) without any hint of irony.

    Winning on values: But deep inside, the conservative right wing frame is not based on an equation but a set of values. On the economic side, those values are, quite clearly: the rich are rich because they deserve it, and the poor are poor because they deserve it. The rich are the “successful” and the government’s role is to assist them in building their wealth, because their wealth is proof that they are worthy of it. Once you figure it out, what are our countering liberal values? Our values say that everyone deserves equal opportunity to succeed, that we have a social responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves, and that those who have benefited the most from the system also must contribute the most to ensure that as a society, we can continue to make investments in the future.

    When the right wing charges the President with “class warfare,” this liberal value system is exactly what they are attacking. The Tea Party opposition to investments in our social responsibilities stem from their opposition to that liberal value system.

    Now, that the American people line up economically with the progressive viewpoint is nothing new. Yet for decades, Democratic leaders (and presidents) have spent all their effort running away from the ‘class warfare’ demagoguery of the Right. Heck, the other day, President Clinton’s former adviser Mark Penn chided President Obama not to “bring back class warfare.” Some of it is because lots of Democratic politicians are deathly afraid of being termed ‘tax raisers’ and ‘class warriors.’

    Welcoming their hatred (or at least wearing it as a badge of honor): Not Barack Obama. He took that “class warfare” rhetoric and made it a boomerang for the Republicans. First, he taunted the Republicans for being numerically challenged: “it’s not class warfare, it’s math,” said the President when he released his plan to pay for his jobs package as well as to reduce the deficit. Since then, he has taken the message to numerous audiences, always to thunderous applause: if you want to term him a class warrior for being a warrior for the middle class and for saying that millionaires should pay at least the same tax rate as plumbers, he will wear that as a badge of honor (by the way, this should also satisfy the Lefty whiners’ orgasmic affair with FDR’s “I welcome their hatred” line, no?)

    Making it a choice: But why is it working? And how did Obama suddenly get people to start paying attention to the specifics? He presented a choice. He presented a choice between the conservative value system (the one that says the rich are the ‘chosen’ people and everyone else is simply not good enough) and the liberal value system (the one that says there exists social responsibility for our common good and our common future). At his jobs speech to Congress and since then, the president has again and again presented these choices to the American people:

    •Would you rather pay for millionaires’ tax breaks or fix crumbling schools?
    •Would you rather protect corporate tax cheats or build roads and bridges and airports in America?
    •Would you rather protect tax breaks for corporate jet owners or use the money to cut 50% off the payroll tax, which most affect the working poor and the middle class?
    •Would you rather subsidize the incomes of hedge fund managers in our tax code or would you rather put teachers in the classroom, cops on the street and firefighters on duty?
    When you talk about just one thing – like raising taxes on the rich – no matter its merits, it’s easy to get it caught into an ideological maze. But if you present an issue as a choice – as all things are – the frame of thinking is completely different. It forces people to think not just in terms of one frame of mind depending on their experiences and what they hear in the media, but to choose between the two value systems. Inevitably, most people in that situation will pick the liberal frame over the conservative one.

    http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2011/09/winning-on-framing-how-barack-obama-is.html

  6. rikyrah says:

    September 29, 2011 4:20 PM

    It’s the demand, stupid

    By Steve Benen

    In the larger economic debate, Democrats and the left in general are largely focused on one goal: demand. Policymakers should, the progressive argument goes, do everything possible to boost demand, since this rests at the heart of the larger problems — more demand would mean more jobs, more growth, more production, more trade, etc.

    The right disagrees. In fact, Republicans tend to believe the opposite — we don’t need to boost demand; we need to deal with the real problems like regulations, taxes, and some amorphous sense of uncertainty.

    Demand, in the conservative model, is largely irrelevant. It’s why Republicans consider the very idea of generating economic activity though unemployment benefits and food stamps to be completely ridiculous.

    Apparently, Mitt Romney forgot the larger debate and temporary switched sides yesterday.

    Yesterday morning one of the party’s front-running presidential candidates contradicted that orthodoxy. Asked to explain his critique of President Obama’s economic views on MSNBC yesterday, Mitt Romney alleged that “he doesn’t understand how the private sector works.” What in particular does the president not understand? Demand!

    “The president thinks that if you have cash on your balance sheet that means you’re gonna go hire people. No, you hire people if you have customers. The president doesn’t understand what makes the American economy go. I do.”

    Wait, Romney thinks the key businesses expanding their workforce is greater demand? To borrow a Josh Lyman line, “That’s the other guys.”

    Do congressional Republicans know Romney is saying stuff like this? Because they certainly don’t agree with this approach. Businesses don’t need customers, GOP officials argue, they need fewer regulations, a smaller tax burden, and the comfort that comes with knowing that health care reform will go away forever. Then they’ll lower their prices and expand their worforce. Customers will come eventually.

    In trying to disagree with President Obama, Romney accidentally endorsed President Obama’s economic argument. While hoping to make the case that the president “doesn’t understand” the economy, Romney inadvertently proved he “doesn’t understand” the economic argument underway in Washington.

    Wait, it gets worse.

    In the same paragraph, Romney mocked the idea that companies with cash on their balance sheets will necessarily hire more workers. On this, he’s correct. But also note that Romney’s economic plan includes big tax breaks for corporations … so they’ll have more cash on their balance sheets.

    And this guy’s entire campaign is predicated on the notion that he’s a business whiz? No wonder Romney failed so miserably to create jobs in Massachusetts and the private sector.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_09/its_the_demand_stupid032516.php

  7. rikyrah says:

    Prominent inherited disease expert Dr. James Bowman dies

    Inherited disease expert Dr. James Bowman, who challenged the ethics of genetic screening and is the father of presidential aide Valerie Jarrett, has died at age 88, the University of Chicago said on Thursday.

    Bowman, an internationally recognized African-American pathologist and expert on inherited blood diseases such as sickle cell anemia, died on Wednesday from cancer, the school said.

    “Jim Bowman was one of the early pioneers in the clinical applications of molecular genetics. He did important work on a common enzyme deficiency and on donated blood and was a great source of information for all of us on inherited diseases,” said Alvin Tarlov, former chairman of medicine at the University of Chicago. Bowman joined the faculty in 1962.

    Bowman gained attention in 1972 when he argued against laws mandating genetic screening for sickle cell — a disease that strikes blacks — as “inaccurate, misleading, politically motivated propaganda which has left mothers frantic.”

    Born in Washington, D.C., in 1923, Bowman experienced segregation first-hand and later would mentor many minority scholars seeking academic careers.

    “In those days there was complete segregation. One could only go to theaters, movies, restaurants in the black neighborhood,” Bowman said in an interview.

    His father wanted him to follow him into dentistry but Bowman earned degrees in medicine from Howard University under an Army-paid program. Yet he was barred from entering as an officer because he was black.

    After completing a stint as chief of pathology at an Army hospital in Denver, he moved overseas to a new hospital in Shiraz, Iran, in 1955 where he saw diseases such as smallpox, brucellosis and rabies for the first time.

    His daughter Valerie was born in Iran in 1956.

    One common inherited disease in Iran was favism, leading Bowman to several discoveries about enzyme deficiencies.

    He is survived by his wife Barbara, the president of the Erikson Institute for early childhood education. His daughter Valerie Jarrett is a senior aide to President Barack Obama.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/29/us-bowman-idUSTRE78S5F820110929

  8. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 03:06 PM ET, 09/29/2011
    Doing it their way
    By Greg Sargent
    Paul Krugman asks an interesting question: “Where’s my Boehner boom?”


    If fear of future regulations and taxes is holding business back, as everyone on the right asserts, why didn’t the Republican victory in the midterms set off a surge in employment?
    After all, if you really believed that fears of Obamanite socialism were the key factor depressing employment, the GOP victory — with the clear possibility that the party will take the Senate and maybe the White House next year — should greatly reduce those fears. So, where’s the hiring surge?

    Oh, come on, Professor, get real. No hiring surge is going to happen until Obama and Dems actually agree to do it the Republicans’ way in policy terms.

    No hiring surge will happen until that job killing stimulus spending winds down; until Dems allow Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts on the rich; until Dems agree to deep cuts to Federal programs; until municipal governments are forced to cut back and fend for themselves; until Dems embrace the notion that government must tighten its belt to restore business confidence; and until Dems begin seriously basing their policy response to unemployment on the conservative idea that if we only reduce the deficit, a thousand economic flowers will bloom. Only then will we see the surge in employment we’re all waiting for.

    Oh, wait…

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/doing-it-their-way/2011/03/03/gIQAxYAl7K_blog.html

  9. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    September 29, 2011 2:50 PM

    On leadership

    By Steve Benen

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) delivered a closely-watched speech the other day, in which he went after President Obama over, among other things, the issue of leadership. “We continue wait and hope that our president will finally stop being a bystander in the Oval Office,” the govenror said. “We hope that he will shake off the paralysis that has made it impossible for him to take on the really big things.”

    The next day, I received a few emails from liberal friends, all of whom are Obama detractors from the left, who seemed giddy but bemused by the fusion of Republican talking points and liberal complaints. They don’t love Christie, but they seemed to love the rhetorical shots Christie was taking at the president.

    I find much of this pretty bizarre, not just because dyed-in-the-wool lefties are applauding cheap GOP talking points, but primarily because the argument itself is so weak. John Dickerson had a good piece yesterday on the nature of presidential leadership.


    What the president’s critics really mean when they say the president “isn’t leading” is that he hasn’t announced that he is supporting their plans, or that he hasn’t decided to commit public suicide by announcing a position for which they can then denounce him.

    By any measure, Obama is a leader. The first stimulus plan, health care reform, and financial regulatory reform he pushed for are all significant pieces of legislation. Christie’s measurement of leadership is doing “big things” even if they are unpopular. Health care, as Republicans will tell you, represents about one-fifth of the economy. Obama certainly wasn’t facing the prospect of popularity when he pushed for changing it.

    I remember taking a class on leadership and being surprised, as a naive grad student, how complicated it was. Leadership at a conceptual level seems straightforward and obvious — a person steps up, presents a vision, and encourages others to follow him or her. There is, however, far more to it than that, and there are even different models of leadership (transactional vs. transformational, for example).

    But for the purposes of conversation, the notion that Barack Obama is a “bystander,” too overcome by “paralysis” to do “big things,” isn’t just wrong, it’s ridiculous. Indeed, as far as the right is concerned, the attack is itself in conflict with the conservative notion that Obama is destroying American civilization with his radical agenda. One can be a bystander and one can be a radical activist hell bent on gutting our cherished traditions from within — but one cannot be both.

    Contradictions aside, what are we to use as a metric for evaluating a president as a leader? If the metric has to do with making controversial decisions to advance the greater good, Obama has clearly done this repeatedly, including his unpopular-but-successful rescue of the American auto industry. If the metric relates to accomplishments, Obama’s record is lengthy (health care, Wall Street reform, Recovery Act, DADT repeal, student loan reform, New START, etc.). If the metric has to do with making tough calls when combating enemies, Obama’s role in killing Osama bin Laden would appear to meet that standard, too.

    Has Obama compromised? Sure, but so has every other successful president. Has he fallen short on several goals? Of course, but he’s leading at time of nearly impossible circumstances, after inherited a Republican mess of unimaginable proportions, and his tenure hasn’t even lasted three years. Is Obama struggling to get things done with this tragically dysfunctional Congress? Obviously, but there’s no point in blaming the president for the structural impediments of the American system of government. As Dickerson explained, “Calling for leadership is a trick both parties use to arouse anger and keep us from thinking too much more about the underlying issue. If only we had a leader, everything would be solved, they’d like us to think. But we should think more about what it actually takes to be president — what kind of leadership works and what kind of leadership doesn’t.”

    Ultimately, the president’s critics are raising the wrong complaint. For the right, the criticism should be that Obama may be an effective leader, but he’s effectively leading the nation in a liberal direction they disapprove of. For the left, the criticism should be that Obama isn’t leading the nation to the left quickly or aggressively enough.

    But to characterize him as a passive bystander is absurd.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_09/on_leadership032514.php

  10. rikyrah says:

    September 29, 2011 1:10 PM

    Selective media interest in ‘scandals’

    By Steve Benen

    I suspect the vast majority of Americans probably never heard a word about the shocking details surrounding the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) during the Bush/Cheney era. Granted, it was sometimes challenging to keep up with all of the Bush administration scandals, but this one was a doozy, even by Republican standards.

    Loyal Bushies at the MMS adopted an anything-goes atmosphere led to Caligula-like corruption and debauchery. That’s not an exaggeration in the slightest — federal officials were literally trading cocaine and sex for lucrative oil contracts. In the Bush/Cheney era, MMS became one of the most corrupt government agencies in American history.

    And yet, the media never really took an interest in the controversy, despite the salacious details. Much of what we learned about the scandal came in the midst of the 2008 presidential campaign, so most major outlets more or less blew it off.

    Solyndra’s loan guarantees, though, are apparently fascinating.

    The coverage surrounding Solyndra, the solar panel manufacturer that declared bankruptcy after receiving a $535 million federal loan guarantee, has been sloppy on the part of both mainstream and conservative media outlets. It has also been remarkably abundant.

    Between August 31, when Solyndra suspended operations, and September 23, six major print outlets discussed the story in 89 items (news and opinion). Broadcast and cable TV networks discussed Solyndra more than 190 times, totaling over 10 hours of coverage — 8 hours of which occurred on the Fox News Channel.

    To put the volume of Solyndra coverage into context, we examined how much attention major print and TV news outlets gave to 1) an obvious case of government corruption exposed in 2008 at the Minerals Management Service (MMS), and 2) a report exposing much greater loss of taxpayer dollars through military contracting waste and fraud.

    The charts help drive the point home. Here, for example, is how major print outlets treated the various controversies.

    And here are how the cable networks covered the same stories.

    The next question, of course, is why. Every major print and television outlet has covered the Solyndra matter significantly more than the MMS story, even though the Solyndra is actually quite dull, and there’s no evidence at all of official wrongdoing. Some of this, as I noted earlier, has to do with timing and what else the political world is focused on, but that alone doesn’t seem to explain the discrepancy.

    The answer, I suspect, has to do with the efficacy of the Republican Message Machine. News organizations tend to care about stories that Republicans insist are, in fact, stories. The GOP has proven remarkably adept at pushing outlets to cover news that may not actually be newsworthy, but which become newsworthy by virtue of Republican apoplexy.

    When it comes to playing assignment editor, Democrats just aren’t in the same league.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_09/selective_media_interest_in_sc032512.php

  11. rikyrah says:

    The Republican War Against Government Workers
    Posted on 09/29/2011 at 7:09 am by Bob Cesca
    (My latest for the Huffington Post)

    The Republicans have been so desperate to find new and clever ways to attack the president that they’ve managed to paint themselves into rhetorical corners with wafer thin sloganeering and laughable attempts at snark. It’s no wonder, then, why they’re dogged by an ongoing series of contradictions. These incongruities whiz past our faces so quickly these days, they’re almost imperceptible.

    For example, during the Florida CPAC event last weekend, Governor Rick Scott cracked a joke about the president’s use of a Teleprompter. Not particularly shocking since it’s a desperately ridiculous attack that’s been popular since 2009 when the Republicans conveniently forgot that all modern presidents, including Saint Reagan, have used Teleprompters. Adding to the meta-irony, however, was the fact that Rick Scott read his Teleprompter joke… off of a Teleprompter.

    Elsewhere, New Jersey governor Chris Christie announced that he doesn’t plan to run for president. Within his prepared remarks, Christie noted that President Obama “has not found the courage to lead.”

    I’m not exactly sure what this means. Did Christie intend to suggest that the first African American president, who, by the way, has received more death threats than any other president in recent history, somehow lacks courage? Or did he intend to suggest that the president didn’t exercise considerable leadership when he passed, with votes from both sides during the most divisive era in politics since the Civil War, a series of groundbreaking pieces of legislation, one of which (health care reform) evaded the records of all previous Democratic presidents? Sounds like it.

    Another hearty sampling of Republican red meat delivered in convenient bumper sticker form.

    The finer points of the president’s record aside, I thought Christie’s criticism was more than a little odd considering how Christie impugned the president’s “courage to lead” during a speech in which he himself declared his intentions to, you know, not lead.

    Adding to the syllabus of conservative contradictions this week, both Christie and Scott attacked government employees and proudly announced the firings of tens of thousands of workers even though they themselves are government employees. Given the Republican talent for selling nonsense by the gross, the Republicans have managed to successfully define government workers as nothing more than faceless automatons — robotic parasites without families, mortgages and futures.

    At the Reagan Library this week, Christie applauded President Reagan’s firing of air traffic controllers. Mitt Romney doesn’t believe that government workers are contributors to the “real economy.” And while the Republicans attack the president for increasing the size of government, 500,000 government workers have lost their jobs since the president’s inauguration.

    During his remarks at the CPAC event, Rick Scott said, “In Florida, unemployment rate’s gone from 12 percent down to 10.7. We’re still above the national average, but we’ve generated 87,200 private sector jobs — private sector! And we have 15,000 less government jobs in the state of Florida. [Applause] Government doesn’t create jobs.”

    I don’t even know where to begin with this.

    The centerpiece of the statement is his proud assertion that “government doesn’t create jobs.” Who, then, is the “we’ve” inside the clause “we’ve generated 87,200 private sector jobs?” If he’s referring to his administration (“we” as in “Governor Scott et al”), then he’s referring to the government — the executive branch of the Florida state government, to be exact — and if the government “generated” 87,200 private sector jobs, then government does, in fact, create jobs.

    Rick Scott continued by patting himself on the back for firing 15,000 Floridians. Despite his attempts to dehumanize the people who were fired, those government “jobs” were occupied by real-life human beings: Florida residents who, due to their lost jobs, might not be able to pay their rents and mortgages in an already crippled Florida housing market. Scott was talking about Florida residents who, because of Scott’s policies, have become a drain on the state and national economies as they line up for unemployment checks and watch their credit card balances max out. Good job, governor. Tell me again how the Republicans will fix the economy.

    If these were government jobs, then government had to have created them at some point, so, yes, government creates jobs. American citizens are paid to work in these jobs. Both of my parents worked for the government, and, as near as I can tell, neither of them are Big Government Decepticons posing as humans.

    In this modern era when pensions, job security, benefits and health care are being eliminated in private sector jobs, government jobs continue to allow middle class workers to raise a family, send their kids to college and retire with some financial security. You know: the American Dream. The Republicans have demonized this ideal and used easy-to-repeat propaganda (“government doesn’t create jobs”) as a means of tricking middle class Americans into endorsing their malevolent efforts.

    But I’m a man of compromise, so let’s make a deal.

    When the private sector stops outsourcing its jobs to India and China and brings back real jobs to America, complete with living wages, guaranteed pensions and affordable health coverage, then maybe we can talk about eliminating some redundant jobs in government. The private sector can certainly afford to do this now more than ever as they sit on nearly $2 trillion in cash assets, according to the Wall Street Journal, which they’re refusing to spend on new jobs. Fact: corporate cash assets are at their highest level since 1959 while unemployment remains high and middle class wages remain stagnant. The Republicans continue to tell us with a straight face that tax cuts will encourage businesses to create jobs, even though historically high cash assets aren’t being spent on anything much less jobs.

    And when the unemployment rate is hovering at 9.2 percent nationwide, 10.7 percent in Florida and 9.4 percent in New Jersey, I’m not sure these guys ought to be ballyhooing how they’ve successfully added to the unemployment rolls. Rick Scott and the Republicans have fired thousands of Americans from secure jobs and forced them into lower-paying menial gigs for lower wages. How is this helping?

    Government workers precisely encapsulate what the founders had in mind for this nation. A government of the people. We are the government. We’re inseparable. The Republicans don’t want you to think about government like this, even though it’s the centerpiece of the American-style representative democracy. Our ability to personally conduct the business of government is our last and only check on political and corporate power. I wonder why the Republicans would want to break down that wall. Hmm.

    By the way, I’d like to see the Republicans tell the 1.4 million government workers employed by the U.S. Armed Forces how they don’t have real jobs. Let’s see them run for office on a “soldiers should get real jobs” platform. They’d most certainly end up joining all of those former government workers in the ranks of the unemployed.

    http://bobcesca.com/blog-archives/2011/09/the-republican-war-against-government-workers.html

  12. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    September 29, 2011 1:45 PM

    The crusade against Planned Parenthood intensifies

    By Steve Benen

    Remember when Republicans used to like Planned Parenthood? When it was championed by GOP leaders like Barry Goldwater and George H.W. Bush?

    Well, forget it. Helping low-income families with preventive health care needs has become a right-wing cause for the Republican Party, apparently at multiple levels. In states where GOP candidates excelled in the 2010 elections, officials are targeting Planned Parenthood, and the crusade appears to be intensifying in Congress.*

    House Republicans have opened a sweeping investigation into Planned Parenthood, requesting reams of financial information and details on how the women’s health organization keeps federal funds separate from abortion services.

    House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) sent Planned Parenthood a six-page letter earlier this month detailing the committee’s request. House Republicans have repeatedly tried to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding because it provides abortions, even though federal funds are not used for those services.

    “The Committee has questions about the policies in place and actions undertaken by PPFA and its affiliates relating to its use of federal funding and its compliance with federal restrictions on the funding of abortion,” the letter said.

    Federal law already prohibits federal funds from being used to terminate pregnancies. There’s no evidence Planned Parenthood is ignoring this legal prohibition, and the organization’s programs are already regularly audited by the HHS inspector general and state Medicaid programs. Congressional Republicans are pursuing this anyway, just to see what they might be able to turn up.

    Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) sent a letter to Stearns asking whether Planned Parenthood is being “singled out as part of a Republican vendetta against an organization that provides family planning and other medical care to low-income women and men.”

    You think?

    By way of background, it’s worth noting that Stearns signaled his intentions on this front in June, responding to dubious allegations raised by a far right-wing anti-abortion group. Americans United for Life, which is pushing for Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.

    Raise your hand if you think there’s any chance at all that Planned Parenthood will get a dime of federal funds if there’s a Republican Congress and a Republican White House in 2013.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_09/the_crusade_against_planned_pa_1032513.php

  13. rikyrah says:

    A June Obamacare Ruling Might Be Win-Win.

    I leave the legal analysis to my former Slate colleague, the divine Dahlia Lithwick. But surely from a political standpoint, President Obama is smart to press the Supreme Court for a health care decision this coming June, no? If the Court upholds Obamacare then we will all be reminded that this sole accomplishment makes Obama the most consequential Democrat since Lyndon Johnson to occupy the Oval Office (even if he did fail to revive the economy and let GOP bullies push him around for way too long). If the Court strikes down Obamacare then Obama’s presidency will be pretty much of an unmitigated failure (with an asterisk perhaps for the Dodd-Frank financial reform act). Which, I’ll grant you, would be a very bad outcome for the nation.

    But slapping down a sitting president in a transparently partisan manner with a decision that did violence to eight decades of jurisprudence and that would literally cost American lives–yes, I think a “no” vote would be a pretty bad way for the Court to go–would be a fantastically effective way to “energize the base,” as we say in Washington, and maybe rope in some independents, too. What better way to say, “We need to give this guy four more years, never mind what you think of him personally, so we can change the composition of this reactionary and intellectually bankrupt Court”? FDR used an election victory to harass enough of the “nine old men” of the Supreme Court into retirement or submission to rescue the New Deal (even if his opening move, the court-packing scheme, was a busted play). That probably wouldn’t work today. The Supremes aren’t that old and Mr. Dooley’s famous adage that “th’ Supreme Court follows th’ illiction returns” has not been true for a very long time (except in the very literal sense that the Supremes are alleged to have an election-night betting pool). Th’ Supreme Court follows th’ party line of the feller what niminnated ’em. But Mr. Dooley’s wisdom is irrelevant here because the election will be after the health care decision, not before. Th’ illiction returns would clobber th’ Supreme Court.

    http://www.tnr.com/blog/timothy-noah/95519/why-june-2012-obamacare-ruling-might-be-win-win

  14. rikyrah says:

    Wanker of the Day: David Brooks
    by BooMan
    Thu Sep 29th, 2011 at 12:05:14 PM EST

    Ah, there is nothing quite like the repartee between New York Times’ columnists Gail Collins and David Brooks. They are so clever. I pick on David Brooks, but I just can’t help myself.


    Gail Collins: Romney is both intelligent and sane, which I guess is saying quite a lot this year. But the man would change his position on the rotation of the earth around the sun if he thought it would get him a win in South Carolina.
    David Brooks: That’s why you should love the guy. Let me put it this way: Would you rather have someone who authentically agrees with Michele Bachmann or someone who is just faking it? It seems to me that from your point of view you should be praying for inauthenticity. The more, the better.

    That’s a ringing endorsement of prevarication, of rank opportunism, and of having contempt for the intelligence of the average voter. You might write it off as tongue-in-cheek but it isn’t really possible that Brooks is not serious. He supports Romney because he thinks he’s doing what has to be done to beat off a crazy alternative. Brooks was being honest here, but that’s about to change. Watch.

    As for the overall field, I think it is decent enough: four current or former governors, a former House Speaker, a business magnate. There are a few oddballs, but I thought the quality of the Reagan debate, in particular, was as good as any I’d seen in either party for at least a decade. Rick Perry can’t keep up because the quality of the other participants is reasonably high.

    Yes, the Reagan Library Debate, I remember it well. It’s the debate where Michele Bachmann promised us all $2 gasoline, Ron Paul said we don’t need air traffic controllers or food inspectors, and Herman Cain introduced his 9-9-9 Plan that would eliminate the capital gains, estate, and payroll taxes. It’s the debate where Rick Santorum promised that he could get Senate Democrats to sign off on a bill to reduce corporate taxes to zero. It’s the debate where Rick Perry won applause for executing 234 people, said climate-science was unsettled, and that it is a lie to tell young people that they will ever receive their Social Security checks. It’s the debate in which Mitt Romney endorsed building a 2,600 mile fence on the Mexican border and Newt Gingrich suggested that we outsource a legal guest worker program to American Express, Visa, and MasterCard. It was a superb debate if you value a bunch of jibber-jabber without any remote connection to anything the next president might actually do once in office. Or, you know, if you don’t value sanity in your political leaders.

    After Gail Collins remarked that she couldn’t see anyone other than Romney and Perry who could conceivably be national leaders, Brooks became somewhat indignant.


    David Brooks: I take that as a personal insult against the Herminator! Herman Cain. I feel compelled to rise in his defense. Unlike the current president he at least knows that this is the perfect moment for fundamental tax reform. He’s got his 9-9-9 plan (the virtues of which he has not hid under a barrel). He may be wacky in every other respect and offensive in some, but he at least understands the scope of the problems the country faces, and so I have sympathy for him. I wish President Obama had at least some of his vision.

    Yes, the “virtues” of the 9-9-9 Plan. Set aside how badly this plan would screw the poor who would see their income taxes go from nothing to 9% and also suffer an additional 9% sales tax on purchased goods. When even the Moonie-owned Washington Times says that the plan would blow a $380 billion hole in the budget, you need to find more virtue. This is a man who supported bans on mosque-building and promised not to hire any Muslims to work in his cabinet. How does a black man born in 1945 in Memphis (and then raised in Georgia) forget his own past to the degree that he’ll openly promise to discriminate against people based on their religion?

    I’ll close with this, which speaks for itself

    Gail Collins: Pardon me. I’m ready to move on but I can’t quite get past the vision of Mitt Romney and Rick Perry stuck together in the Polar Caves until next spring. What do you think they’d talk about?
    David Brooks: Personally I think they’d lounge around in animal skins drawing beautiful paintings of wild animals on the cave walls, like those early cave dwellers did in France thousands of years ago. Perry would draw elegant mastodons, which he shot while jogging. Romney would paint saber-tooth tigers, riding in cages on the top of his car. (There, got that in.)

    Thank you for forcing me to imagine Mitt Romney’s car smeared with saber-tooth tiger poop.

    http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2011/9/29/12514/0657

  15. rikyrah says:

    An Open Letter to Dr. Cornell West

    Dear Cornell

    After reading your Op-Ed column on Dr. Martin Luther King in the New York Times, I felt compelled to sit down and write you a letter. Since the conversation that I want to have with you is about public matters i.e. the fate of our nation and the Presidency of Barack Obama, I decided to make it an open letter and put it on the internet so everyone can see it. I feel it is my duty to respond to your column because you are such an influential public intellectual and moral scold people listen when you speak. Like E. F. Hutton on finance, you da man with many people on matters of morality and politics. Since I have publicly pledged to praise saints, celebrate heroes, unmask charlatans and chastise scoundrels I could not remain silent. You have all the trappings of intellectual and moral authority – Harvard education, PhD, author of influential texts, able orator, Princeton Professor of Religion – but the more I watch what you are doing with these powerful assets…I fear you are squandering them my brother, and you are in danger of hurting us all with your folly.

    I am employing the term folly in the same sense as the two time Pulitzer Prize winning historian Barbara Tuchman in her path breaking book “The March of Folly.” Here the term folly refers to the decisions people make – – usually leaders of nation states – that all observable evidence suggests is against their own interests. And there can be no doubt among partisans of the working classes and foes of the plutocrats, which you claim to be, that the Tea Party /Republicans are avowed enemies of our agenda. Yet you are at this very moment engaging in activities that if continued will aid a total takeover of our national government by these vicious enemies of the working class.

    Thus I have no doubt that in the present struggle for the soul of our nation and the survival of organized labor – which is the vehicle through which the working class defends their gains and advance their interests – you are missing your true calling in this great fight. As a self-declared spokesman for the working class and the poor, the proletariat and lumpen-proletariat, you are curiously at odds with the actual spokesman for the working class, the elected leaders of the great unions, who correctly view President Obama as the only friend of poor and working class Americans among all the people who are likely to become the next President of the USA!

    Even as I write the Teamster Union President Jim Hoffa is on WNBC TV reaffirming their support for the reelection of the President; although they have some sharp disagreements with him about strategy. They do not question that Barack is their friend and the Republicans are the enemy; and if empowered would callously take away rights that the working class struggled for a century to win. The contrast between what the leader of one of the world’s most powerful unions had to say on this matter, and what you have been saying, highlights the fundamental disagreement that I have with you about your criticism of the President.

    Dr. Nathan Hare – who holds two PhD’s, one in sociology and one in Psychology – is a longtime intellectual warrior in our struggle, a man who was on the front lines of engaged scholars when you were running about in knee pants in the wilderness of Sacramento chasing fire flies, states the problem succinctly. In a recent statement on Facebook, Dr. Hare argued that black critics of President Obama must first make it clear that there is no alternative to supporting the President and the Democratic Party in the coming elections. That is the only way your criticism can be constructive rather than destructive Cornell.

    The difference is clear: constructive criticism is a critique that will help us defeat the Grand Obstructionist Party in the coming elections. Destructive criticism is the kind of loose and mindless diatribes that confuses and demoralizes people to the point where they decide that they cannot vote for either party and stay home…effectively turning the national government over to the Republicans. I am afraid, Dr. West, that this will be the result of your misguided, overly-emotional and often irrational attacks on the President. Alas, I am increasingly hearing threats to remain at home on election from your acolytes.

    Unlike you, the Teamster leader made it clear that there was no chance that organized labor was going to abandon the President because the Republicans are the enemy of the working class. While he didn’t like it, he understood the compromises the President has made. They get it that the President was forced into certain compromises in order to get anything done and avoid disaster. But you, Dr. West, don’t get it! You talk in terms that suggest the President has betrayed the entire progressive legacy because he was forced to compromise!

    When in fact, the very concept of compromise means that you have to accept something you don’t want in order to get something you want. Whereas the Teamster leader was clear in his purpose and what must be done, you prattled on in your NY Times Op-Ed in such a muddled fashion one could easily conclude that you think President Obama could have solved the problems you rightly highlight but just wouldn’t do it!!! And therefore deserves defeat in 2012 – which goes without saying if your first charge is true! If you are not saying this, then what the fuck are you talking about?

    http://commentariesonthetimes.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/an-open-letter-to-dr-cornell-west/

    • Ametia says:

      THIS: The difference is clear: constructive criticism is a critique that will help us defeat the Grand Obstructionist Party in the coming elections. Destructive criticism is the kind of loose and mindless diatribes that confuses and demoralizes people to the point where they decide that they cannot vote for either party and stay home…effectively turning the national government over to the Republicans. I am afraid, Dr. West, that this will be the result of your misguided, overly-emotional and often irrational attacks on the President. Alas, I am increasingly hearing threats to remain at home on election from your acolytes.

    • creolechild says:

      Metia and rikyrah~ I read the entire article. It’s the best one that I’ve read yet about Cornell West and his attempts to demean President Obama’s efforts. It’s an absolute thing of beauty and completely debunks West’s talking points. I hope it goes viral so that more people can read it! If people don’t get it after reading that article, it’s because they don’t want to….

  16. rikyrah says:

    Still See a Potential Brokered Convention
    by BooMan
    Thu Sep 29th, 2011 at 10:04:14 AM EST

    Every four years we have to witness a fracas between the Republican National Committee and/or the Democratic National Committee and state legislatures who want to move their primaries up in violation of the rules. Remember the ugly dispute between Clinton supporters and Obama supporters over the delegates from Michigan and Florida? It wasn’t pleasant. This year, the same thing is happening to the Republicans. And it’s quite likely to have a dominant impact on the nominating process, and perhaps even the general election.
    The Republicans selected Tampa, Florida as host to their convention. Yet, Florida’s legislature has moved their primary to January 31st, 2012. The rules say that any state other than Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada that moves its primary earlier than March 6th will have half its delegates stripped. Needless to say, it’s awkward to have the convention host in violation of the rules. And, as you can see, Florida’s decision upsets the whole apple cart:


    The four carve-out states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina may begin their processes any time on or after February 1, 2012.
    The remainder of the states may begin no earlier than the first Tuesday of March 2012.

    Any state (other than the four carve-out states) that conducts its process prior to April 1, 2012, must allocate its delegates on a proportional basis.

    Any state that violates this Rule will lose 50% of its delegates, alternate-delegates and potentially face many other penalties.

    The four carve-out states will respond by moving their contests into early January and we’ll have a repeat of active campaigns during the holiday season. The RNC tried to prevent this by creating two incentives. The first incentive was the promise to strip 50% of the delegates of any state that violated the rules. The second incentive was to force any state that went earlier than April 1st to allocate their delegates on a proportional rather than winner-take-all basis.

    So, for example, Florida would not only lose half its delegates but the winner would only get, most likely, a plurality of the state’s votes at the convention. Florida is supposed to have roughly one hundred delegates. You can do the math. In a winner-take-all situation the winner would net 100 delegates. The situation now would make it more likely that the winner would get around 20 delegates and the second-place finisher something like 15, netting the winner a mere five votes.

    Update [2011-9-29 12:25:10 by BooMan]: As Massappeal points out, my argument/math here is wrong.

    The difference should be enough to dissuade Florida from breaking the rules, but they seem to be operating on the assumption that nominations are won not through accruing delegates but by winning perceptions. They should ask Hillary Clinton how that worked out for her.

    Moreover, Florida isn’t the only state moving up its date.


    This comes on the heels of Michigan and Arizona moving their contests to Feb. 28 in an attempt to get a heads-up on the March 6 Super Tuesday primaries.
    And Missouri, Alaska, Georgia and North Dakota have all made noise about moving up their dates, which could wreak additional havoc on the calendar.

    The more states that move up into the proportional representation window, the harder it will be for any candidate to get a majority of the delegates. Candidates might run out of money, but they will not be mathematically eliminated. And, as long as a winner has not emerged, minor candidates who are actually winning some delegates will have a powerful incentive to stay in the race so that they can trade their delegates for something of value.

    If the race remains mainly a two-way race between Romney and Perry, this will probably resolve itself once the winner-take-all states start tossing huge chunks of delegates one way or the other. But if a third candidate emerges who is keeping pace and even winning a state here and there, then we could easily see a brokered convention.

    http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2011/9/29/10414/9375

  17. creolechild says:

    Here’s War with Slippin’ Into Darkness.

  18. creolechild says:

    Here’s Donny Hathaway singing, Little Ghetto Boy

  19. creolechild says:

    Thank you, Sam Smith, Undernews, and Progressive Review!~

    September 28, 2011

    FBI leaves people on watch list even if acquitted of crimes or charges are dropped
    NY Times – The Federal Bureau of Investigation is permitted to include people on the government’s terrorist watch list even if they have been acquitted of terrorism-related offenses or the charges are dropped, according to newly released documents.

    Inclusion on the watch list can keep terrorism suspects off planes, block noncitizens from entering the country and subject people to delays and greater scrutiny at airports, border crossings and traffic stops.

    The database now has about 420,000 names, including about 8,000 Americans. About 16,000 people, including about 500 Americans, are barred from flying.

    Ginger McCall, a counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said: “In the United States, you are supposed to be assumed innocent. But on the watch list, you may be assumed guilty, even after the court dismisses your case.”

    http://prorevnews.blogspot.com/2011/09/fbi-leaves-people-on-watch-list-even-if.html

  20. creolechild says:

    Vision: 5 Ways Young Americans Can Fight Back Against Student Loan Debt, the Drug Industry, and More – By Rae Gomes

    I’m going to come out to you. I am overburdened by student loan debt. Since graduating at the height of the financial downturn with a degree that isn’t easily applicable to an ever-competitive job market, I’ve been stuffing my loan statements in a box under my bed. The only reason I feel empowered to say this to an audience is because I’ve found out that I’m not alone. In fact, there are 206,000 of us who graduated in 2008 with at least $40,000 in student loan debt.

    Student loan debt exceeded credit card debt for the first time in 2010, and according to the debt clock that keeps ticking away, we’re only $60 million shy of the oft-cited $1 trillion mark. The dismal anecdotes of youth in this country have been reported on this site. Even Mayor Bloomberg acknowledged that something should be done for these hopeless young people before we take to the street to riot.

    ~snip~

    Clinical psychologist Bruce Levine wrote on this site that “Young Americans…appear to have acquiesced to the idea that the corporatocracy can completely screw them and that they are helpless to do anything about it.” He succinctly articulated the weights that hold young Americans back; what keeps us from rallying to the streets in sustained, significant protest.

    In my talks with Levine, he seemed much more hopeful about the potential of youth to overcome these barriers. He acknowledged that the insidious forces that keep us from the streets were established by his generation, and said to me and all youth that firstly, “we must do something to get you out of your pain.” He started me off with a few solutions. Here they are for your viewing, debating and (hopefully) implementing pleasure.

    ~snip~

    http://www.alternet.org/story/152532/vision_5_ways_young_americans_can_fight_back_against_student_loan_debt_the_drug_industry_and_more

  21. creolechild says:

    Thank you, Nicholas Wilbur and Muddy Politics!~

    Obama ’08 is back for 2012: But did he ever leave? – by Nicholas Wilbur Sunday, September 25

    Barack Obama is back. The firebrand populism of his 2008 presidential campaign, the podium-pounding speeches, the “Yes We Can” rallies calling for a grassroots uprising of the people against special interests, unregulated corporations and under-taxed millionaires all returned in recent weeks as Obama traveled through battleground states demanding tax increases on the rich, pitching his American Jobs Act to the public, and calling on Republicans to “Pass this bill!” For the countless liberals who felt abandoned by the president, and who abandoned him in return, Obama’s renewed vigor on the campaign trail is a welcomed sign that the candidate of “change” might actually fight for the “Change We Can Believe In.”

    But questions remain: What happened to the old Obama? Why did he wait until the 2012 campaign season to finally “pick a fight” with the GOP? Why did he spend the last two and a half years compromising with the Republicans and capitulating to their demands for spending cuts? Why did he back down in the face of government shutdowns and federal debt defaults? Why did he chase down this pipedream that his opponents in Congress would suddenly abandon their obstructionist tactics and start working together for the American people? Why, after failing to unite the Congress and the country, did he continue his conquest for “hope” and “change” even though the opposition obviously had no intention of giving an inch?

    Understanding the president’s recent “populist tone” requires understanding the strategy behind the past two and a half years of “capitulations.” It requires understanding that there was a strategy in the first place. There are several explanations worth noting.

    ~snip~

    Read more: http://www.muddypolitics.com/2011/09/obama-08-is-back-for-2012-but-did-he.html

  22. creolechild says:

    Thank you, Sam Smith and Undernews!

    September 23, 2011
    Reality check: why the media should stop using the word “enitlement”
    Wikipedia – An entitlement is a guarantee of access to benefits based on established rights or by legislation. . .

    In a casual sense, the term “entitlement” refers to a notion or belief that one (or oneself) is deserving of some particular reward or benefit – if given without deeper legal or principled cause, the term is often given with pejorative connotation (e.g. a “sense of entitlement”).

    In clinical psychology and psychiatry, an unrealistic, exaggerated, or rigidly held sense of entitlement may be considered a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder, seen in those who ‘because of early frustrations…arrogate to themselves the right to demand lifelong reimbursement from fate’.

    Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.

    http://prorevnews.blogspot.com/2011/09/reality-check-why-media-should-stop.html

  23. creolechild says:

    Am I Watching the Same President Obama as Others? – By Sarah Jones

    The media are taking the American Jobs Act and President Obama and dissecting them for all they’re worth when they’re not busy following Sarah Palin to her latest gaffe. Memes are afloat! We’ve got the “He’s finally taking to the bully pulpit” on the Left to the “We can’t tax the rich because of Jesus” on the Right. Naturally, the disgruntled blame the President for his many failures and cynically eye up his next defeat, which they are sure can be blamed on his lack of balls, evidence of which they tell me is apparent in his capitulation to the Republicans.

    This self-defeating prophecy of doom feeds right into the Republican long term goal (recently admitted to in a must read article published on Truthout and written by a former Republican staffer) of causing Americans to hate and distrust government, so they can prove that contrary to the liberal belief (pardon me while I remind us of what we allegedly believe) that government has a role to play in the lives of the people, government actually sucks. Why not dismantle it since it clearly doesn’t work? It would be best to privatize government! The Koch brothers would do a better job for less money. Surely Wisconsin is proof of that. Yes, you’d all better just give up. Don’t vote. The Republicans will be so pleased and while it might pain us all to make them happy, it’s worth it just to spite the ball-less Democrats.

    ~snip~

    http://www.politicususa.com/en/watching-presidency-others

  24. creolechild says:

    This, right here, provides some interesting context and background information about the nasty attack that Gene Lyons of Salon.com directed at Melissa Harris-Perry. Thank you, Marianna76 and ABL!~

    Marianna76 says:
    September 29, 2011 at 3:02 am

    ABL, Gene Lyons and I have something in common. We share an alma mater – the University of Virginia.

    Unfortunately, Gene attended UVa during the 60s, when it was variously known as “the country club of the South” and/or “the last vestibule of Southern decadence.” When Gene was a WaHoo, it was all-white, all-male and all-rich. The only POC you saw on Grounds were the maids who cleaned your rooms and the people who served you in the dining hall.

    By the time I got there in 1972, it was the third year women were admitted and the first where they were admitted, unquota’d. (That’s right, they only let a select few in for the first couple of years). POC had been there only slightly longer than women. By that time, we cleaned our own rooms and work-study students manned the cafeteria.

    Gene Lyons has a problem, not only with people of colour in general, but educated people of colour and educated women in general.

    And here’s another coincidence: when I was a student at UVa, the Dean of African-American studies was none other than Melissa Harris-Perry’s dad. Melissa grew up in Charlottesville, and Gene might be interested to know that she and her sisters attended St Anne’s Bellfield private school, whilst her brothers were students at Collegiate in Richmond … the same time Eric Cantor was there.

    Gene Lyons can suck on that while he adjusts to the 21st Century and bleaches the sheets he’s beginning to wear continuously in public.

    And while he’s doing all that, you might want to pay attention to two of Gene’s BFF’s – Charlie “Obama-Is-Either-Shaft-or-Lebron” Pierce and Rick Wankspittle Perlstein. They’re not very jealous of the President. Not much. No. Not at all. Bullshit.

    http://www.angryblacklady.com/2011/09/28/gene-lyons-of-salon-com-cavalierly-dismisses-racism-and-calls-melissa-harris-perry-is-a-fool/

  25. rikyrah says:

    Just The Facts: Republicans Falsely Claim Obama Seeks Biggest Tax Hike In History

    After President Obama unveiled his jobs and deficit reduction plans, he took to the road to draw a contrast between himself and the Republican politicians who want to end his political career. Obama’s proposes to spend money now on hiring people and cutting taxes temporarily to spur further job growth, and pay for it in just over a year, in large part by raising taxes on wealthy Americans.

    The Republican vision — phasing out safety net programs like Medicare in order to maintain low tax rates on the same group of affluent people — is far less popular. So in their own tried and true way, Republicans recast Obama’s plan for “shared sacrifice” as “the largest tax increase in history.”

    What a difference! But also untrue.

    Using historical data from the Treasury Department on the impact of past tax laws, and from the Office of Management and Budget’s analysis of Obama’s current proposals, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities ran the numbers for TPM and found the claim to be false by just about any measure.

    Assessing new revenue as percentage of GDP, it turns out Obama’s tax proposals would rank below a law signed by President Ronald Reagan on the list of significant tax increases of the last five decades.

    Making a direct comparison is difficult. Treasury calculates the impact of past tax laws relative to what’s known as the “current law baseline” — in essence, analysts look at revenues after the law passed, and subtract what would have happened if it hadn’t been enacted at all.

    Under today’s “current law baseline,” the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, and other tax cuts Obama signed in 2010 to stimulate the economy, will soon expire. That means the “current law baseline” assumes a huge glut of revenue starting in 2013. Obama’s plan would actually make many of those tax cuts permanent. It would also allow the cuts that benefit wealthy Americans to expire, and impose a series of new taxes on high-income earners. Taken together, though, it would yield significantly less revenue than if Congress and Obama simply did nothing, and amount to one of the biggest tax cuts in history — $2.29 trillion over the next ten years. As a percentage of GDP, the third largest since 1968, ahead of both the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts and behind Reagan’s Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, and last December’s tax deal.

    That’s the apples to apples comparison, but it rests on a historical quirk — current tax law is teeming with tax rates and policies that are set to expire.

    When Republicans call Obama’s plan the biggest tax increase in history, they’re using a “current policy baseline.” In other words, they assume today’s tax rates are fixed, and complain that Obama’s plan would raise revenue thereupon by quite a bit — $1.57 trillion over 10 years. By this measure, as a percentage of GDP, Obama’s “tax hike” is smaller than Reagan’s 1982 Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act and the Revenue and Expenditure Control Act of 1968 but larger than Clinton’s 1993 tax increases and George H.W. Bush’s 1990 bill, as well as Reagan’s 1984 Deficit Reduction Act.

    To claim Obama’s plan represents the largest increase ever (or at least the largest in recent history) one has to look at all past tax increases in inflation adjusted terms. But this is a false measure that ignores the growth of the economy — we are way richer as a country now than we were then.

    None of which is to say that Obama’s proposing trivial tax increases. But biggest ever? Please.

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/09/just-the-facts-republicans-falsely-claim-obama-seeks-biggest-tax-hike-in-history.php

  26. rikyrah says:

    Where’s Perry’s Platform?

    He doesn’t have one:

    When Perry is under fire over some aspect of his Texas record, he hasn’t pivoted to signature plans for jobs or foreign policy. A spin through Perry’s website underscores the problem. Under “Jobs,” we find five paragraphs of conservative boilerplate. The most detailed sentence refers to “low taxes, reasonable regulations, a predictable civil litigation system and an educated workforce.”

    Ed Morrissey frowns:

    Perry’s competition have already laid out specifics on economic policy, especially his toughest foe, Mitt Romney, whose plan is detailed enough to be a 160-page book. Herman Cain has his 9-9-9 plan, and even Jon Huntsman …. has an economic plan that the Wall Street Journal takes seriously enough to review and praise. Not having anything beyond a few boilerplate conservative concepts doesn’t give voters a reason to positively support Perry, and being this far behind the others on stage puts him in a weak position to answer policy questions on the most important issue in the upcoming elections.

    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/

  27. rikyrah says:

    When Must Palin Decide?
    Soon:

    The filing deadline for the Utah primary, Oct. 15, is fast approaching. While a potential Christie campaign would most likely not suffer from missing this contest, his staff will have to be mindful of the next deadline: Florida. Failing to file by the Oct. 31 deadline in the Sunshine State would almost certainly derail any chance that Christie would have at grabbing the Republican nomination.

    Of course, she could always go the third-party route:

    Could Palin launch an independent bid for the presidency? Why not? What bridges would she be burning with Republicans that she hasn’t burned already? And if she did go that route, she certainly wouldn’t have problems raising a fair amount of money, and she would be able to mobilize enough volunteers to get her name on the ballot in quite a few states.

    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/

  28. rikyrah says:

    Just an observation: equating Melissa Harris-Perry to the KKK is a bridge way too far

    The left is pleased with the president right now, because his rhetoric is affirming to liberalism (and mocking and condemning of Republicans), and contains sufficiently high voltage language to constitute a rhetorical “fight” against the right — this despite the fact that legislatively, his plan is probably dead on arrival in the House, barring some huge chane in fortune, and would even be iffy with skittish Senate Democrats.
    The left is livid at the president when his strategy of compromise and negotiation has the chance of actually producing legislation, even when he is essentially chumping the tea party and John Boehner (as has happened in each of their head-to-head negotiations) because the satisfying emotional, rhetorical content is not there.

    As I’ve written before, politics really is about theater on a fundamental level. And it isn’t just the tea party that badly wants to be affirmed by their leadership. Sometimes that affirmation means more than legislation, because there are no incrementalists on either the right or the left. Both sides are angry, and both sides respond pretty much to only one thing: rhetorical attacks on the enemy camp.

    It is in that context, that I post this link by AngryBlackLady, to the text of a piece by Gene Lyons of Salon.com. In it, he praises Obama for finally adhering to the strictures of liberal behavior which the vocal left has been beating him up for failing to adhere to for three years. It’s not just the right that imposes ideological orthodoxy, and Obama has been guilty of blatantly unorthodox behavior for most of his first term, to hear the “professional left.” Lyons is pleased that the president is finally banging Republicans over the head, and pushing for Keynsian spending on infrastructure. That’s fine, and there’s certainly an argument to have, whether the smarter electoral strategy for the president is to tack toward his base, which George W. Bush proved in 2004 is one successful re-elect strategy, or to drive to the center, a la “era of big government is over” Bill Clinton in 1996.

    But in his piece, Lyons also casually, and rather nastily, dismisses the racial elephant in the room when it comes to what more than handful of black Democrats believe are the impossibly high standards imposed on the nation’s first black president by some of his “supporters.” Here’s the key passage:

    This just in: Not all the fools are Republicans. Recently, one Melissa Harris-Perry, a Tulane professor who moonlights on MSNBC political talk shows, wrote an article for the Nation titled “Black President, Double Standard: Why White Liberals Are Abandoning Obama.”

    See, nobody ever criticized Bill Clinton, another centrist Democrat who faced a hostile Republican congress. Indeed, he was “enthusiastically re-elected” in 1996. Therefore, “[t]he 2012 election is a test of whether Obama will be held to standards never before imposed on an incumbent. If he is, it may be possible to read that result as the triumph of a more subtle form of racism.”

    The professor actually wrote that. See, certain academics are prone to an odd fundamentalism of the subject of race. Because President Obama is black, under the stern gaze of professor Harris-Perry, nothing else about him matters. Not killing Osama bin Laden, not 9 percent unemployment, only blackness.

    Furthermore, unless you’re black, you can’t possibly understand. Yada, yada, yada. This unfortunate obsession increasingly resembles a photo negative of KKK racial thought. It’s useful for intimidating tenure committees staffed by Ph.D.s trained to find racist symbols in the passing clouds. Otherwise, Harris-Perry’s becoming a left-wing Michele Bachmann, an attractive woman seeking fame and fortune by saying silly things on cable TV.

    The sheer political stupidity of turning Obama’s reelection into a racial referendum cannot be overstated. It would be an open confession of weakness. Whatever its shortcomings, this White House is too smart to go there. Harris-Perry will have to fight this lonely battle on her own. Voters can’t be shamed or intimidated into supporting this president or any other. They can only be persuaded.

    And with the U.S. economy stagnating, they’re going to need lots of persuading. Which is why the good news is that Obama has actually started talking like a Democrat again.

    After that, Lyons launches into praise for the president’s American Jobs Act gambit. But that passage provides a valuable insight into the roots of the chasm between black people — writ large — and white liberals — write large. The latter sometimes demonstrate a stunning lack of interest/understanding of the complex but still present interplay of race in our politics, and really, in our daily lives. The truth is, Perry made a point that is not only not uncommon among black Americans, it is almost rote. Black people experience the opposition to Barack Obama differently from white people, and their observations about his treatment, by the right AND by the left, are not invalid. Part of liberalism, at least in my understanding, is NOT invalidating the experience of marginalized groups. Simply brushing off Perry’s concerns as “foolish” strikes me as being of a piece with, say, scapegoating black Obama voters in California for supposedly causing Proposition 8 to pass — something that more than a few white liberals did, even though the premise wasn’t actually true. As I said before, the disconnect between white liberals and black Democrats is real. It’s tangible, and it stems from, frankly, a simple, basic, lack of empathy and experiential understanding of how the other half lives.

    By the way, note that Lyons tosses in killing Osama bin Laden with high unemployment, as if it goes without saying that most liberals/blacks would see the former as a bad thing (most Americans, black and white, see killing bin Laden as an unalterably good thing.) But more importantly, jumping on board the David Sirota train, by equating black beliefs about the treatment of the country’s first black president with the Ku Klux Klan is so far out there, and so offensive, it’s hard to believe that some editor at Salon didn’t pull Lyons back from the brink. Saying that black people who believe, as Melissa does, that there is a different standard for this president, are just like Klansman, is no different than tea partiers saying that anyone who believes in increasing taxes on the wealthy are just like Marxists. Isn’t that kind of bottom-line obvious?

    Moreover, calling Melissa Harris Perry a “fool,” and attempting to diminish her as “just another Michele Bachmann” is really not a smart play for the vocal left, particularly at a time of rising distrust between black Obama supporters and the overwhelmingly white liberal elite. Ms. Harris-Perry is much more respected by your average black person than, say, the pet black intellectuals of the “professional left,” like Cornel West (or Tavis Smiley). If you don’t believe me, ask 10 black people who they value more: West or Perry. I can tell you what at least 9 of them will say. Trust me. Because I’m sure I talk to more black people on Monday than Mr. Lyons talks too all week… or maybe all month. I mean, I won’t presume to know who Lyons hangs out with, but Salon’s masthead, like those of most of the leading liberal blogs, isn’t exactly teeming with diversity.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The chasm between black Democrats and white liberals is real. It needs to be addressed in the open.

    http://blog.reidreport.com/2011/09/just-an-observation-equating-melissa-harris-perry-to-the-kkk-is-a-bridge-way-too-far/

  29. rikyrah says:

    87%

    So, how many articles have we read recently that claimed the President is losing African American support? No, not the support of Maxine Waters, Cornel West and Tavis Smiley – African Americans living in the real world.

    I know, too many to count.

    Take GOPolitico. For months they’ve promoted the line that the President is disproportionately losing Jewish support, much to the amusement of serious commentators – because the polls repeatedly contradicted their claims. (See here, here and here)

    That didn’t work too well, so now they’re pushing the ‘African Americans Desert Obama’ line.

    In a piece today they talk about the President’s “relationship with African-Americans (being) complicated from the beginning by questions about whether a mixed-race senator born in Hawaii was “authentically black” enough to win their support”.

    Seriously, almost three years after he was elected, GOPolitico is still wondering if he’s black enough. (The author, who has written three similar pieces in the last month, is African American, so that’s okay).

    The most critical quotes in the piece are from two ‘sources’ “speaking under condition of anonymity”. GOPolitico really do love their anonymous sources, especially when they give them quotes that neatly match their agenda. Whether they are real people or not, hey, who knows?

    But if their thesis is true, that African-Americans are rising up against the President, how come they need to quote people anonymously? Surely if there was that much anger out there they could find someone other than Waters willing to lash out publicly?

    The problem?

    The President isn’t losing the support of African Americans living in the real world – in fact, that support is increasing.

    GOPolitico and most other outlets – including supposedly ‘progressive’ ones – love quoting Gallup polls when their findings aren’t good for the President.

    The latest Gallup poll? They’re not mentioning that much.

    Why?

    Because it shows that African American support for the President is up five points to 87%.

    Considering how the struggling economy has impacted on his figures across most groups, and bearing in mind how African Americans suffer disproportionately in terms of unemployment, that 87% figure is remarkable.

    But still we’re told that Waters, West, Smiley and Co speak for African Americans. Well, clearly they don’t for 87% of them.

    Just like that other media darling, Dan Choi, doesn’t speak for the entire gay community, most of whom appreciate the work this administration has done – and is trying to do – to promote equality.

    That GOPolitico produces this kind of dishonesty is, of course, no surprise at all – it’s their area of expertise. But, as we all know, the Firebagger crew – especially at Salon – are relentlessly spreading the lie too. Rather than mentioning that 87%, they persist in claiming that Waters, West and Smiley speak for African Americans.

    Of course, Salon’s Joan Walsh doesn’t have much time for that 87%:

    http://theobamadiary.com/2011/09/29/87/

  30. rikyrah says:

    September 29, 2011 10:40 AM

    ‘Enthusiasm gap’ may turn nation sharply to the right

    The nation took a sharp turn away from progressive governance in 2010, with far-right candidates excelling in congressional, gubernatorial, and state legislative races. Among the leading factors contributing to the results: enthusiasm among Republican voters easily overwhelming Democratic lethargy.

    At this trajectory, it’s likely to happen again.


    In thinking about the 2012 presidential election, 45% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic say they are more enthusiastic about voting than usual, while nearly as many, 44%, are less enthusiastic. This is in sharp contrast to 2008 and, to a lesser extent, 2004, when the great majority of Democrats expressed heightened enthusiasm about voting.

    Democrats’ muted response to voting in 2012 also contrasts with Republicans’ eagerness. Nearly 6 in 10 Republicans, 58%, describe themselves as more enthusiastic about voting. That is nearly identical to Republicans’ average level of enthusiasm in 2004 (59%) and higher than it was at most points in 2008.

    It’s tempting to think the combination of Democratic accomplishments and Republican radicalism would shake up the left. For that matter, the prospect of the United States turning sharply to the right — a right-wing Congress sending extremist legislation to a GOP White House — and putting the nation’s future and much of the progress of the 20th century in severe jeopardy, would seemingly boost Democratic voters’ eagerness.

    Apparently, though, that’s not the case. Indeed, it’s not even close — even as GOP officials push the ideological envelope to levels unseen in modern American history, “Democrats’ net enthusiasm (+1) now trails Republicans’ net enthusiasm (+28) by 27 percentage points. By contrast, Democrats held the advantage on net enthusiasm throughout 2008 — on several occasions, by better than 40-point margins.”

    At least, that’s the environment right now. A lot can happen in a year, and there’s ample time for attitudes and enthusiasm levels to change. (Gallup has never asked about election enthusiasm 14 months before voting begins, so there’s no real point of comparison to offer predictive value.)

    Or maybe they won’t change at all, Democrats will sit on their hands next fall, and we’ll have the most far-right, reactionary federal government in American history. We get what we vote for — and if that’s what the electorate wants, that’s what we’ll get.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/index.php

  31. Vettte says:

    Thank you President Obama for adding Fayette County Texas to the Wildfire Recovery List!! Be blessed SouthernGirl.

    http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=58407

  32. rikyrah says:

    I’ll say it for the second time today:

    NIGGER, PLEASE!

    …………………………..

    September 29, 2011 10:10 AM

    Wild, wild West
    By Steve Benen

    The political world should at least consider the possibility that Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is some kind of liberal performance artist, secretly pretending to be a right-wing congressman to make Republicans look like lunatics.

    Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said Monday that President Obama was intentionally crippling the economy to advance a Marxist political philosophy.

    West, a Tea Party freshman, was responding to a question from radio host Michael Berry, who asked if he thought the souring economy should be attributed to either inept or intentional actions on behalf of the president.

    “It is intentional,” West said. “It is intentional because this is who the president is. The president is a Marxist because he believes in the separation of classes.”

    West went on to say that he believed Obama’s efforts to raise taxes on the richest Americans represented an unprecedented class attack that was historically dangerous.

    “We have never heard a president in the United States of America speak as he is…. He is a socialist because he believes in nationalizing production,” West said.

    West at least deserves credit for recognizing phrases like “nationalizing production,” but he still sounds like an unhinged wackjob if he believes President Obama in any way resembles a “Marxist.” (Does West understand how much the far-left condemns the president and why?)

    As for the notion that Obama’s willingness to ask the very wealthy to sacrifice a little is somehow unprecedented, West may want to consider the attacks levied at FDR.

    West was also asked yesterday for his thoughts on Florida congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The right-wing lawmaker said he would “need a bucket” to describe Wasserman Schultz.

    You stay classy, Allen.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_09/wild_wild_west032507.php

  33. rikyrah says:

    September 29, 2011 9:20 AM

    The other billionaire boogeyman

    By Steve Benen

    For quite a while, there was no real doubt about which billionaire the right loved to hate. The “billionaire boogeyman” was George Soros, the financier and philanthropist whose name became synonymous with nefarious misdeeds in the minds of paranoid conservatives.

    But Soros has apparently been replaced. Warren Buffett, the Berkshire Hathaway CEO, despite limited interest in politics and a record of relative non-partisanship, has become a new public enemy for the right. His efforts to promote tax fairness and support President Obama’s agenda has, to put it mildly, made Buffett severely unpopular in Republican circles.

    E.J. Dionne Jr. knows why.


    Advocates of higher taxes on the wealthy do not want to “punish” the successful. Buffett and Doug Edwards, a millionaire who asked Obama at a recent town hall event in California to raise his taxes, are saying that none of us succeeds solely because of personal effort. We are all lucky to have been born in — or, for immigrants, admitted to — a country where the rule of law is strong, where property is safe, where a vast infrastructure has been built over generations, where our colleges and universities are the envy of the world, and where government protects our liberties.

    Wealthy people, by definition, have done better within this system than other people have. They ought to be willing to join Buffett and Edwards in arguing that for this reason alone, it is common sense, not class jealousy, to ask the most fortunate to pay taxes at higher tax rates than other people do. It is for this heresy that Buffett is being harassed.

    I agree with this assessment wholeheartedly, though I’d emphasize one related point: the right also hates it when the left gets cover for their economic ideas, and Warren Buffett is doing an excellent job providing some.

    When Democrats, for example, press the need for tax fairness and public investments, Republicans and their allies much prefer to present the debate to the public in cliched terms: successful “job creators,” innovators, and captains of industry have no use for these wacky progressive priorities. The American mainstream, we’re told, should listen to trusted leaders from the private sector, not liberal eggheads and union bosses.

    But Buffett, in addition to sparking the debate Dionne explained the right prefers not to have, is also committing another heresy: he’s telling the public that there’s nothing incompatible with being pro-business and wanting to strengthen the social contract by asking the wealthy to make additional sacrifices.

    It’s no wonder the GOP has come to hate Buffett so intensely.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_09/the_other_billionaire_boogeyma032506.php

  34. rikyrah says:

    A Love Supreme!
    When President Obama spoke to the Congressional Black Caucus it wasall blues and soul, rendered in elegant sermonic cadences. There was a lot of jokin, jiving, and testifying, but he was also droppin science….and signifyin for days! His oratory was informed with so many inside Afro-American cultural references, esoteric nuances and complex allusions to our tradition of struggle, that most of the white pundits who monopolize the commentary on his speech are clueless and miss the point altogether. In one headline after another the corporate media confidently portrayed the event as a pissed off President chastising his ungrateful black brothers and sisters in a “do-nothing” Congress: but it was no such thing!

    These were Barack’s oldest and closest political comrades, some of whom mentored him in the art of playing politics in Washington. He knows they share his hopes and dreams for America. They were the ones who never doubted that he could be a great President, and except for the few who felt bound by long-time political alliances to the Clintons, they all wished him well and offered support.

    It was in this caucus that Barack had found refuge as the lone Afro-American in the Senate. Watching him speak to his old comrades I saw a love fest, a celebration of Afro-American style, language, humor, verbal virtuosity, and hip body language – all the things that have made us the most imitated people in the world were prominently on display. What I saw was a man who could not only go home again…but return in style to a rousing welcome.

    From the moment Barack stepped onto the podium, the audience gave him a boisterous ovation worthy of a hero. The first thing our President said was how he enjoyed visiting “the conscience of the Congress,” a compliment of great generosity and gravitas. He went on to personally thank the leaders of the Black Caucus for inviting him in the most effusive language. These kind accolades are reserved for those whom one holds in highest esteem. When he laid out his jobs program, explaining the moral basis upon which it is designed, ridiculing Republican duplicity and dissecting the shameless sophistry of their arguments, he was repeatedly applauded by the audience.

    As he spoke, this master orator and serious student of Afro-American history and culture constantly called upon our traditions to make his point and carry the crowd with him. It was a remarkable performance, an intoxicating blend of highbrow erudition and folksy humor. Once he connected with the audience he held them spellbound; he was part Richard Pryor, part Malcolm X, part Thurgood Marshall and part Martin Luther King.

    It was as grand a performance in the Afro-American oratorical tradition – the most dynamic in the world – as I have ever witnessed in a professional politician. At times he reminded me of that silver tongued preacher/politician from Harlem – who also would have made a great President – the Reverend Doctor Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

    The comparison was most compelling in his use of irreverent humor to expose the shameless hypocrisy of the Republicans, and his use of repetition to sell a particular idea. His refrain “Pass this bill” reminded me of Powell’s “what’s in your hand” speech when he was imploring black folks to get out and vote.

    The President’s speech was at once a panegyric to the heroism of the Afro-American struggle and a sanitized trip through the Dirty Dozens for the Grand Obstructionist Party. The audience was with him every step of the way. When he admonished the crowd to buck up, stop crying and complaining, and join him in the fight; this was not a put down of the audience but a call to battle!

    It was another way of saying: don’t get mad get even. Life is not fair but we still got to struggle
    and win with the hand we were dealt, and crying won’t help. So don’t tell me your troubles because I’ve got my own. Just put your shoulder to the wheel and keep on pushing: I got yo back! As Barack’s voice rose to a crescendo at the conclusion of his speech, he issued a call to action.

    “So I don’t know about you, CBC, but the future rewards those who press on. With patient and firm determination, I am going to press on for jobs. I’m going to press on for equality. I’m going to press on for the sake of our children. I’m going to press on for the sake of all those families who are struggling right now. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I am going to press on. I expect all of you to march with me and press on. Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do, CBC! “

    The President’s defiant and triumphant tone in the face of adversity was a life affirming pep-talk. It reminded me of what the Black Nationalist firebrand Minister Khalid Muhammad used to say to black audiences down on their luck: “No matter what we are confronted with we will survive! We’re Bey Bey’s kids…we don’t die we multiply!”

    Far from a put-down, Barack’s speech was an expression of a love supreme. And the constant applause was proof positive that the audience returned the love. So how could the major media get it so wrong? Except for the right wing press, I believe it was the result of confusion rather than animosity. After all, what do most Euro-Americans really know about Afro-Americans?

    The most enlightened think of us as just white people with dark skins, and are quite proud of themselves for it. Most recognize that we are very good at singing, dancing, playing basketball and Jazz. Few understand that we have been the strongest voices in support of the most cherished ideals of American civilization: personal freedom, social equality, democratic governance, innovation and freedom in diversity.

    Yet you can hear these values clearly celebrated in our classical music – the quintessential American art of jazz – which realizes these values more successfully than any other American cultural form. When I watched Barack speak to the Congressional Black Caucus, with his soaring lyricism and skillful use of pauses between virtuosic riffs, I was reminded of another Pres, Lester Young, who became world famous as President of the tenor saxophone, during his days with the fabulous Count Basie Orchestra.

    When Pres took center stage to speak his piece, the orchestra listened intently and responded to his statements in ways that energized the groove and lifted him higher, until both he and the band were inspired to tackle greater obstacles and attempt heroic things. Some times they hit the notes they were aiming at; sometimes they missed. But they were always inspired to try again… no matter the obstacles. That’s what really happened when Barack gave a shout out to his peeps in the CBC.

    http://commentariesonthetimes.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/a-love-supreme-3/

    • Ametia says:

      —————————————-
      News Alert: Obama administration escalates crackdown on tough immigration laws
      September 29, 2011 12:46:23 PM
      —————————————-

      The Obama administration is escalating its crackdown on tough immigration laws, with lawyers reviewing four new state statutes to determine whether the federal government will take the extraordinary step of challenging the measures in court.

      Justice Department attorneys have sued Arizona and, where a federal judge on Wednesday allowed key parts of that state’s immigration law to take effect but blocked other provisions. Federal lawyers are talking to Utah officials about a third possible lawsuit and are considering legal challenges in Georgia, Indiana and South Carolina, according to court documents and government officials. The level of federal intervention is highly unusual, legal experts said.

      http://link.email.washingtonpost.com/r/WUOQBH/OJHWR9/675PED/XQX9QF/HMXD5/6C/h

      For more information, visit washingtonpost.com

    • “His oratory was informed with so many inside Afro-American cultural references, esoteric nuances and complex allusions to our tradition of struggle, that most of the white pundits who monopolize the commentary on his speech are clueless and miss the point altogether.”

      Love, loved, loved that quote from the commentariesonthetimes blog. I was thinking the same thing when I first heard the President’s speech before the CBC last Saturday night; I just couldn’t articulate it as well as the author did.

      The MSM as usual has totally missed the point of yet another one of President Obama’s Saturday Night massacres. And bro Cornell and sista girl Maxine and the like have missed another opportunity to redeem themselves–instead they have chosen to continue to engage in some serious exploitation of the President’s message. Shameful.

  35. Hey guys,

    These miserable haters are getting on my last black nerve. They need to use the fking google their damn self. Lazy ass mofos!

  36. rikyrah says:

    Thursday, September 29, 2011
    Personhood Non Grata
    Posted by Zandar
    As I’ve said before, Mississippi voters will be taking on the most restrictive anti-abortion measure in the country in just a manner of weeks. If the “personhood amendment” to the state constitution ballot issue passes, not only will it outlaw abortion in the state, but it will outlaw forms of contraception as well. MoJo’s Tim Murphy reports the man responsible for the measure is Les Riley:


    But for all the momentum it has gained, the amendment is in large part the handiwork of one lesser known figure, an activist named Les Riley. A tractor salesman, former candidate for agriculture commissioner, and chair of the state Constitution Party, Riley is steeped in fringe politics. He founded the group Personhood Mississippi, drafted the amendment’s language, started the signature drive that got it on the ballot, and promoted it statewide this spring with an inflammatory campaign called the “Conceived in Rape Tour.”

    The idea behind the amendment is simple: If by law life begins at fertilization, then abortion (and human cloning) would become legally impossible. In an interview with the AFA this summer, Riley asserted that his amendment would have “international implications” and could become “the biggest news in the pro-life movement in 20 years.” If all goes as planned, it will launch a court challenge that will end with Roe v. Wade itself being overturned.

    And that’s just the beginning of Riley’s plan to reshape America.

    As radical and grandiose as that may sound, it fits with fringe views from Riley’s past. A neo-secessionist, Riley once supported an effort to form an independent theocratic republic in South Carolina, and he belonged to an organization—the League of the South—dedicated to forming a “free Southern Republic” built on biblical law.

    Go figure, the guy that wants to save America hates it enough to want to leave it. Here’s the best part of this “smaller, less intrusive, less regulatory government” pioneer’s plan:


    Moreover, because the language of the amendment is so broad, it could force state agencies to revisit and revise any regulation that includes the word “person,” according to Jordan Goldberg, an attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. It would impact regulations on “the number of people who could ride a bus and the number of people who would be permitted to ride in a car,” she says, or any statute that involves the collection of census data, such as redistricting. “It sounds absurd, but frankly so is this proposal,” she says.

    And yet as absurd as it is, the law is expected to pass. If it doesn’t, it will simply be proposed next year in a number of other states (and will probably be done so anyway.) Less regs for food safety, more regs for your uterus. Vote GOP.

    http://zandarvts.blogspot.com/2011/09/personhood-non-grata.html

  37. rikyrah says:

    Another Day, Another Battle In The GOP’s War On Planned Parenthood
    Jillian Rayfield | September 29, 2011, 5:00AM

    House Republicans have announced an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s funding, in the latest move in the seemingly endless effort to cripple the women’s health service provider.

    Last week, the Oversight subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), sent a letter to Planned Parenthood requesting around twelve years of financial documents as part of an investigation into whether the women’s health organization is misusing its federal funds.

    “The committee has questions about the policies in place and actions undertaken by PPFA and its affiliates relating to its use of federal funding and its compliance with federal restrictions on the funding of abortions,” Stearns said in the letter.

    Under the Hyde Amendment, federal funds cannot be used for abortions, and the organization submits to yearly audits to that end. But the committee’s requests are still aimed at making sure Planned Parenthood isn’t violating this law, asking for internal audits of how the organization spent its federal funds between 1998-2010, and how “segregation between family planning and abortion services is accomplished.”

    Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called the investigation “politically motivated” that “is a continuation of the efforts of earlier this year to undermine Planned Parenthood, and more disturbingly, women’s access to the primary and preventive care they need.”

    On Wednesday, Henry Waxman (D-CA), ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Diana DeGette (D-CO), ranking member of the Oversight subcommittee, sent a letter to Stearns decrying the investigation and questioning ” whether Planned Parenthood is being singled out as part of a Republican vendetta against an organization that provides family planning and other medical care to low-income women and men.”

    “The HHS Inspector General and state Medicaid programs regularly audit Planned Parenthood and report publicly on their findings,” the letter said. “These audits have not identified any pattern of misuse of federal funds, illegal activity, or other abuse that would justify a broad and invasive congressional investigation.”

    DeGette told TPM that “the anti-choice Republicans have been on the warpath” regarding Planned Parenthood, and there’s “nothing illegal or wrong with Planned Parenthood providing a legal medical service with their own private money. I haven’t seen any evidence that Planned Parenthood is misusing” federal funds.

    She added: “What they’re trying to defund is women’s health services, so I would really call it a war on women’s health.”

    “It just seems like this is a big waste of time, frankly,” DeGette said.

    But if it is a waste of time, House Republicans seem pretty OK with making it a repeated waste of time. During the battle to prevent a government shutdown in April, for example, defunding Planned Parenthood became a sticking point in their demands. Earlier this year, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) managed to get a bill through the House that stripped Planned Parenthood of its federal funding, though it didn’t make it through the Senate.

    And the pro-life set at the state level have also gotten in on the game. To name a few examples: In July, New Hampshire voted to cancel a contract that gave $1.8 million in state funding to Planned Parenthood. The Obama Administration decided to re-hire the organization for services in the state to make up for the lost funding. Indiana is fighting a court’s temporary injunction against a law that cut off funding of Planned Parenthood. And North Carolina’s legislature voted to override Gov. Beth Perdue’s veto of the state budget that stripped the health center’s federal funds.

    Meanwhile, the public seems to be leaning more toward the “pro-choice” side of things these days. One Gallup poll from May found that 49% of Americans identify as “pro-choice,” while 45% identified as “pro-life” — making it the first time since 2008 that “pro-choice” won out. A Pew Research poll from March found something similar, with 54% of those surveyed saying they support legal abortion most or all cases, compared to 42%.

    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/09/another_day_another_battle_in_the_gops_war_on_plan.php?ref=fpa

  38. rikyrah says:

    Those Pearly Whites

    They’re becoming harder and harder to afford:

    Access to dental care stands as a remarkably stark divide in American life, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise. More than four in ten Americans pay their dental bills themselves, compared to just 10 percent of doctor’s visits, and the past decade or so has seen a vicious “oral cost spiral,” as June Thomas points out, with the costs of dental care far outpacing both the rate of inflation and overall medical cost increases. With incomes falling, unemployment rising, and poverty increasing, dental care has become a “luxury” that fewer and fewer Americans can afford—and this despite the high premium that we put on appearance.

    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/09/whats-a-clear-sign-of-wealth.html

  39. rikyrah says:

    Gene Lyons of Salon.com cavalierly dismisses racism and calls Melissa Harris-Perry a fool [Updated!]
    by ABL

    Re-heally.

    Yesterday, founder of Salon.com, David Talbot announced that, after six years, he would be returning as CEO of the online magazine:

    In these increasingly hard times, Salon is dedicating itself to an American revival. Our editorial mission will become more explicitly and aggressively populist. We will be publishing more investigative pieces, exposing the shadow dance of power. And both Democratic and Republican targets will be fair game, since both parties are increasingly under the control of the same corporate forces.
    snip
    It’s time to start our own country.1

    Today, Gene Lyons led the charge for Salon’s “new populism” by going all in against Professor Melissa Harris-Perry, and by extension, the scores of black people who agree with her [images of the Lyons article are below; links to Professor Harris Perry’s article are here (“Black President, Double Standard: Why White Liberals Are Abandoning Obama“) and here (“The Epistemology of Race Talk“)]:


    This just in: Not all the fools are Republicans. Recently, one Melissa Harris-Perry, a Tulane professor who moonlights on MSNBC political talk shows, wrote an article for the Nation titled “Black President, Double Standard: Why White Liberals Are Abandoning Obama.”

    See, nobody ever criticized Bill Clinton, another centrist Democrat who faced a hostile Republican congress. Indeed, he was “enthusiastically re-elected” in 1996. Therefore, “[t]he 2012 election is a test of whether Obama will be held to standards never before imposed on an incumbent. If he is, it may be possible to read that result as the triumph of a more subtle form of racism.”

    The professor actually wrote that. See, certain academics are prone to an odd fundamentalism of the subject of race. Because President Obama is black, under the stern gaze of professor Harris-Perry, nothing else about him matters. Not killing Osama bin Laden, not 9 percent unemployment, only blackness.

    Furthermore, unless you’re black, you can’t possibly understand. Yada, yada, yada. This unfortunate obsession increasingly resembles a photo negative of KKK racial thought. It’s useful for intimidating tenure committees staffed by Ph.D.s trained to find racist symbols in the passing clouds. Otherwise, Harris-Perry’s becoming a left-wing Michele Bachmann, an attractive woman seeking fame and fortune by saying silly things on cable TV.

    The sheer political stupidity of turning Obama’s reelection into a racial referendum cannot be overstated. It would be an open confession of weakness. Whatever its shortcomings, this White House is too smart to go there. Harris-Perry will have to fight this lonely battle on her own. Voters can’t be shamed or intimidated into supporting this president or any other. They can only be persuaded.

    And with the U.S. economy stagnating, they’re going to need lots of persuading. Which is why the good news is that Obama has actually started talking like a Democrat again. It’s hard to think of a recent political event more effective than the president’s appearance in Rep. John Boehner’s district last week. Over Obama’s shoulder loomed the rust-pocked, visibly decaying superstructure of the I-75 Bridge linking Kentucky and Ohio.

    You didn’t need to be a civil engineer to recognize that to cross the Ohio River is to take your life in your hands. (Indeed a crack in a critical load-bearing element forced Indiana’s Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels to close the I-64 Bridge linking Kentucky and Indiana only weeks ago.) Without major repairs, that bridge is fixing to just drop in the river one day.

    Speaking in support of his American Jobs Act, Obama pulled no punches. He called out two GOP antagonists by name.

    “The bridge behind us happens to connect the state that is home to the speaker of the House, with the home state of the Republican leader in the Senate,” Obama said. “Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell, those are the two most powerful Republicans in government. They can either kill this jobs bill, or they can help pass this jobs bill …

    “There is no reason for Republicans in Congress to stand in the way of more construction projects. There is no reason to stand in the way of more jobs. Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge. Help us rebuild America. Help us put construction workers back to work. Pass this bill!”

    It was dynamite TV. McConnell clearly didn’t like it. The Kentucky senator grumped that fixing a bridge was one thing; Obama’s jobs bill another. But he also voted with Democrats to avert yet another threatened government shutdown, due to the GOP’s morally incomprehensible demand that disaster relief funds be held hostage to budget cuts elsewhere. If McConnell were a quarterback, you’d say he heard footsteps.

    So what’ll it be, America? Help out Vermont dairy farmers, rebuild Joplin, and Tuscaloosa, or top off Scrooge McDuck’s bullion tank? Your call.

    Obama also took on the Republicans’ familiar “class warfare” nonsense. “If asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a janitor makes me a warrior for the working class,” he said “I wear that with a badge of honor.”

    It’s an understatement to say that this Barack Obama has been missing in action since 2008. Beltway pundits who value drawing room manners were aghast. To the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer, such rhetoric makes Obama “a leveler, a committed social democrat, a staunch believer in the redistributionist state.”

    Too bad we can’t make Krauthammer drive that bridge every day.

    A recent Gallup poll, however, shows that voters are ready to invest in America, build things, and put people back to work. Support for the elements of Obama’s jobs plan averages better than 2-to-1. Americans favor public works like the I-75 bridge, for example, by 72 to 27 percent. Even 50 percent of Republicans are down with that.

    That’s the President Obama Americans voted for, and the only one they’re apt to vote for again.

    UPDATE: I penned this rant which I did not post here about an hour prior to reading Lyons’ post. Those of you who have written or will write “So anyone who disagrees with Obama is racist” or “ABL thinks all criticism of Obama is racist” really need some better—and fact-based—material. I post this update because someone at ABLC has already (and predictably) made this claim, and I know how this crowd operates. Ta! -ABLxx

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/09/29/gene-lyons-of-salon-com-cavalierly-dismisses-racism-and-calls-melissa-harris-perry-a-fool/

  40. rikyrah says:

    Thursday, September 29, 2011
    We’re Moving It Up To January
    Posted by Zandar
    Florida is sick of wimpy states like New Hampshire and Iowa getting all the attention. Sunshine State Republicans want the folks running for the White House to suck up to them as the swing state that’s most important to deciding the Presidency, and they’re playing hardball. Expect them to move the state’s 2012 primary to January 31 this Friday, ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire.


    Florida had been looking at an early March date; after Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. But other states have suggested that they’ll have earlier contests, and Florida lawmakers say they want to ensure that the nation’s largest swing state has a significant say in choosing the Republican presidential nominee. By scheduling a primary that early, Florida could be penalized by the Republican National Committee, which might reduce the number of delegates the state can send to the national convention.

    If Florida moves its date, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada would be expected to move up to earlier in January. The Iowa caucuses are now tentatively scheduled for Feb. 6, New Hampshire’s primary for Feb. 14, Nevada’s caucuses for Feb. 18 and South Carolina’s primary for Feb. 28.

    All states must submit dates to the RNC by Saturday; Georgia is scheduled to announce a date Thursday.

    If Florida moves up, observers suggest, the Iowa caucus — the nation’s first nomination voting, by tradition — would be as soon as Jan. 5, followed by New Hampshire five to eight days later. Arizona already has said it will flout the RNC and move its primary to Feb. 28.

    In other words if Florida jumps the starter’s pistol this week, it’s a mad dash to see who will be first in the nation, and we could see primaries just after New Year’s Day. Florida would certainly be the biggest prize of the January primaries. The newspapers and networks certainly aren’t going to complain about an earlier start to the horserace season, meaning the real primary coverage will begin, well, now instead of after the first of the year.

    Like it or not if the first primaries are just after January 1, then we’re coming up on only three months until that happens. Given the complete disarray of the GOP field right now, I’m betting they are wishing Florida would give it a rest.

    http://zandarvts.blogspot.com/2011/09/were-moving-it-up-to-january.html

  41. rikyrah says:

    Perry Gets a Taste of the Deep Crazy
    by BooMan
    Wed Sep 28th, 2011 at 09:29:00 PM EST

    I kind of wonder who Tom Tancredo is supporting for president. It obviously isn’t Rick Perry, who Tancredo calls ‘Compassionate Conservatism 2.0.’ I doubt it’s Mitt Romney for a variety of reasons, including that Romney employs undocumented workers to mow his lawns. Herman Cain is obviously too black for Tancredo. Maybe he’s a Bachmann man?
    In any case, it’s kind of a relief to see The Deep Crazy weaponized and deployed against a Republican for a change. Here’s Tancredo on Gov. Perry:


    What is not yet as widely known about Perry is that he extends his taxpayer-funded compassion not only to illegal aliens but also to Muslim groups seeking to whitewash the violent history of that religion. Perry endorsed and facilitated the adoption in Texas public schools of a pro-Muslim curriculum unit developed by Muslim clerics in Pakistan.
    Perry’s connections to Muslim groups in Texas are well documented. A recent Christian Science Monitor story said, “Perry has attended a number of Ismaili events in Texas, brokered a few agreements between the state and Ismailis (including the legislation introducing Islamic curricula into Texas schools), and even laid the first brick at the groundbreaking ceremony for an Ismaili worship center in Plano in 2005.”

    The Muslim Histories and Cultures (MHC) project was formalized in 2004 in a signed agreement between the University of Texas at Austin and Aga Khan University in Pakistan. The announcement of the MHC project credited Gov. Perry by name with being “instrumental” in its launch. The agreement calls for an extensive program of bi-cultural teacher training funded jointly by both parties. More than 200 Texas teachers have been trained in the program, which is ongoing. The project’s curriculum units were initially available for viewing on the university’s website, but have since been scrubbed from the Internet. It appears Texas officials do not want the curriculum examined by Texas taxpayers.

    Islam scholar Robert Spencer, head of Jihad Watch, examined the program and concluded, “The curriculum is a complete whitewash and it’s got the endorsement of Perry. It’s not going to give you any idea why people are waging jihad against the West — it’s only going to make you think that the real problem is ‘Islamophobia.’”

    Remember that lunatic in Norway who recently went on a shooting rampage because he was so opposed to Muslim immigration?

    His manifesto, which denounced Norwegian politicians as failing to defend the country from Islamic influence, quoted Robert Spencer, who operates the Jihad Watch Web site, 64 times, and cited other Western writers who shared his view that Muslim immigrants pose a grave danger to Western culture.

    I hope Rick Perry is enjoying the taste of his own medicine. He’s not the only one who can make crazy statements about his political opponents.

    http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2011/9/28/21290/0205

  42. rikyrah says:

    September 29, 2011 8:00 AM

    Congress gets a stark reminder on food safety

    By Steve Benen

    The overnight reports in the health section were rather startling. Cantaloupes contaminated with listeria have led to 72 U.S. infections over 18 states, leading to at least 13 deaths. The news comes the same day as a ground-beef recall from Tyson Fresh Meats after an Ohio family fell ill from eating meat contaminated with E. coli.

    It’s against this backdrop that congressional Republicans want to — you guessed it — weaken food safety regulations.


    Even as these outbreaks occur, however, the Republican Party is continuing its efforts to gut food safety laws aimed at protecting Americans from these types of food-borne illnesses. In June, House Republicans attempted to kill the first significant upgrade in the nation’s food safety laws in more than 70 years, saying the private food industry sufficiently self-policed itself. Last week, presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) called for an end to food safety laws that she claimed were stifling job creation….

    As Pat Garofalo has noted, one in six Americans is sickened by food-borne illness each year, and more than 3,000 die. And while the GOP cites the cost of new regulations, the annual cost of food illnesses is $152 billion, according to Georgetown University’s Produce Safety Project, and the cost of not overhauling outdated food safety laws far exceeds the cost of implementing the new policies the GOP opposes.

    That last point is of particular interest. From the GOP’s perspective, investing in food-safety measures is expensive, and when pursuing American austerity measures, seems like a good place to cut back.

    But this is a deadly example of “penny wise, pound foolish.” When we cut spending on food safety, we save a little money on inspection, but end up paying a lot of money on health care costs when consumers get sick — making the Republican approach misguided as a matter of public health, public safety, and budgeting.

    Also note the legislative context. In December, Americans who eat food received some very good news. A sweeping overhaul of the nation’s food-safety system, approved by both chambers with large, bipartisan majorities, cleared Congress, and was quickly signed into law by President Obama.

    The long-overdue law expands the FDA’s ability to recall tainted foods, increases inspections, demands accountability from food companies, and oversees farming — all in the hopes of cracking down on unsafe food before consumers get sick. This was the first time Congress has approved an overhaul of food-safety laws in more than 70 years.

    And then Americans handed new power to congressional Republicans, who’ve made a concerted effort to undermine the law.

    The listeria outbreak should be a wake-up call to Congress. It won’t, of course, but it should.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_09/congress_gets_a_stark_reminder032504.php

  43. rikyrah says:

    September 29, 2011 8:35 AM

    Romney addresses his Achilles’ heel
    By Steve Benen

    Last week, in one of the more amusing political claims of the year, Mitt Romney boasted, “I stand by my positions. I’m proud of them.” Given Romney’s record of abandoning every policy position he’s ever taken, it was hard not to marvel at his shamelessness.

    But NBC’s First Read reports from New Hampshire, where Romney took a different line on one of his biggest vulnerabilities.

    In the town hall of 250 people … Romney addressed perceptions and concerns that he is “a flip flopper.”

    “In the private sector,” he said, “if you don’t change your view when the facts change, well you’ll get fired for being stubborn and stupid. Winston Churchill said, ‘When the facts change I change too, Madam. What do you do?’”

    That’s different from what he said a week ago, when he said he doesn’t change positions.

    The American people “can tell when people are being phony and are pandering to an audience,” he said, “and you’ll see that in politics. You’re not going to see that in my campaign.”

    Wait a second. Mitt Romney is flip-flopping on flip-flopping? How very meta of him.

    That said, does Romney — at least this new version of Romney — have a point? Doesn’t it make sense that someone would change their views when the facts change?

    In general, this is persuasive. There’s nothing inherently offensive about a political figure changing his or her mind once in a while. Policy makers come to one conclusion, they gain more information, and then they reach a different conclusion. That’s a good thing — it reflects a politician with an open mind and a healthy intellectual curiosity. Better to have a leader who changes his or her mind based on new information than one who stubbornly sticks to outmoded policy positions, regardless of facts or circumstances.

    But this only works when there are sincere changes of heart. It’s something else entirely when pandering politicians reinvent themselves, sometimes more than once, as part of a cynical, calculated ploy. This isn’t indicative of an open mind; it’s evidence of a character flaw.

    Romney would have voters believe that he’s simply adapted to changing facts. The circumstances make this impossible to believe — his radical transformations, purely by happenstance, just happen to coincide with political expediency to further Romney’s ambitions? The parallels between his metamorphoses and the shifting political winds are an accident?

    Please. The list of Romney flip-flops is just too long, and covers too much ground, to be a remarkable coincidence. There’s nothing remotely sincere about his repeated reinventions. The guy has demonstrated a willingness to flip-flop like no other American politician in a generation.

    Indeed, can anyone name a single issue of any significance in which Romney has been consistent? Anything at all? I don’t mean generic platitudes — he’s “pro-freedom” or wants “a strong military” — I mean actual public policies. The fact that this question is challenging for the former governor’s campaign speaks volumes.

    I’m perfectly comfortable with a politician pondering doubts and questioning whether he or she is right about an issue. But when a politician changes his views so fundamentally that he’s adopted several different worldviews in a fairly brief time span, is it really unreasonable to question the man’s integrity?

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_09/romney_addresses_his_achilles032505.php

  44. rikyrah says:

    Perry aides told different stories in lawsuit

    Contradictions in sworn statements about Rick Perry’s fundraising for his 2006 reelection bid raise questions about whether aides to the Texas governor, who is now running for president, gave false or misleading testimony under oath.

    In a civil suit later filed by Chris Bell, Perry’s Democratic challenger in that race, the testimony of aides David Carney and Deirdre Delisi was directly contradicted by a sworn statement from Perry’s own gubernatorial campaign committee.

    At issue were the circumstances surrounding a $1 million contribution to the campaign, and whether the Republican Governors’ Association, which paid out the funds, was used as a conduit to camouflage their true origin. The lawsuit alleged that the actual donor was Texas multi-millionaire Bob Perry, a long-time supporter of Rick Perry (no relation) better known for bankrolling the Swift Boat campaign that torpedoed Senator John Kerry’s presidential bid.

    Carney has long been the Texas governor’s closest political strategist. Delisi was formerly Governor Perry’s chief of staff and now serves as a senior policy advisor to his presidential campaign.

    Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner declined to comment on anything regarding the legal case, saying that a 2010 settlement, which required Perry to pay $427,000 to Bell’s campaign, barred either side from saying anything further. It also diminished the chance of any further legal action against Carney and Delisi if, in fact, they gave false or misleading testimony in the case.

    Prior to the case being settled, only a few pages of the aides’ testimony had been entered into the trial court record. The complete depositions have since been seen by Reuters.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/28/us-usa-campaign-perry-aides-idUSTRE78R63120110928

  45. rikyrah says:

    Spring Hill UAW chief credits Obama for restart
    By: The Associated Press | 09/28/11 5:49 PM
    The Associated Press
    .The United Auto Workers leader in Spring Hill said restarting assembly at the General Motors Co. plant and creating some 1,700 new jobs two years after shutting it down shows the auto industry bailout was the right move and President Barack Obama deserves credit.

    UAW Local 1853 President Mike O’Rourke said Wednesday there will be about 2,200 workers, including some who are already building GM engines at the former Saturn plant, and another 15,000 spinoff jobs in the surrounding Middle Tennessee region.

    “Hey, that’s pretty good news for the area,” O’Rourke said.

    He said the auto bailout saved 1 million jobs in the United States, and “hey, Obama was right.”

    In 2009, GM announced the shutdown of Spring Hill and laid off more than 2,000 workers. O’Rourke said the restart planned to begin next year is an “economic miracle.”

    GM., which went through bankruptcy, received $49.5 billion in the U.S. bailout.

    GM has not said which cars will be built at the plant but the jobs are expected to be up and running sometime next year. A top GM executive said Wednesday that the Spring Hill plant will have maximum model flexibility when assembly is restarted.

    The automaker has said it intends to reopen the plant with staffing and operating rules still being worked out with the union.

    GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Amman said Wednesday the plant will have flexibility to make “distinctly different vehicles” and be ready to quickly adjust to changing market demand. Amman declined to give a date for the restart or say if there is a limit on entry-level workers.

    The automaker has said it will invest $61 million for one midsize car and add 600 jobs, while it will spend $358 million on another midsize car with 1,100 jobs created.

    Under the new contract, GM can have as many entry-level, $15-an-hour workers as it wants. Amman said after 2015 only 25 percent of the factory workers can be paid the lower wage.

    O’Rourke said there will be entry-level workers at Spring Hill but laid off UAW workers will not be pushed aside.

    “Nobody gets displaced,” he said. “We will get our people who need to get called back called back.”

    He said more than 80 percent of the union’s members voted Friday to approve the contract.

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/news/2011/09/spring-hill-uaw-chief-credits-obama-restart#ixzz1ZLWfRYXf

  46. rikyrah says:

    Obama’s bridge too far
    When the president gets tough, the tough start whining

    This just in: Not all the fools are Republicans. Recently, one Melissa Harris-Perry, a Tulane professor who moonlights on MSNBC political talk shows, wrote an article for the Nation titled “Black President, Double Standard: Why White Liberals Are Abandoning Obama.”

    See, nobody ever criticized Bill Clinton, another centrist Democrat who faced a hostile Republican congress. Indeed, he was “enthusiastically re-elected” in 1996. Therefore, “[t]he 2012 election is a test of whether Obama will be held to standards never before imposed on an incumbent. If he is, it may be possible to read that result as the triumph of a more subtle form of racism.”

    The professor actually wrote that. See, certain academics are prone to an odd fundamentalism of the subject of race. Because President Obama is black, under the stern gaze of professor Harris-Perry, nothing else about him matters. Not killing Osama bin Laden, not 9 percent unemployment, only blackness.

    Furthermore, unless you’re black, you can’t possibly understand. Yada, yada, yada. This unfortunate obsession increasingly resembles a photo negative of KKK racial thought. It’s useful for intimidating tenure committees staffed by Ph.D.s trained to find racist symbols in the passing clouds. Otherwise, Harris-Perry’s becoming a left-wing Michele Bachmann, an attractive woman seeking fame and fortune by saying silly things on cable TV.

    The sheer political stupidity of turning Obama’s reelection into a racial referendum cannot be overstated. It would be an open confession of weakness. Whatever its shortcomings, this White House is too smart to go there. Harris-Perry will have to fight this lonely battle on her own. Voters can’t be shamed or intimidated into supporting this president or any other. They can only be persuaded.

    http://www.salon.com/news/politics/feature/2011/09/28/obama_fights_republicans/index.html

    …………………………………………..

    SEEMS as if Professor Harris-Perry hit a nerve with these mofos, and they continue to attack her.

  47. rikyrah says:

    Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits

    By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER
    AP Economics Writer

    The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply last week, an encouraging sign that layoffs are easing.

    The Labor Department says that weekly applications dropped 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 391,000, the lowest level since April 2. It’s the first time applications have fallen below 400,000 since Aug. 6.

    Applications typically need to fall below 375,000 to signal substantial job growth. They haven’t been that low since February.

    A Labor Department spokesman said some of the drop was due to technical difficulties related to seasonally adjusting the figures. The spokesman said some states also reported higher applications in previous weeks due to Hurricane Irene.

    The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to 417,000, the first drop in six weeks.

    Despite the signs of improvement, the job market remains sluggish.

    Many businesses have pulled back on hiring in the past few months as the economy has weakened. Consumers are reluctant to spend, with unemployment high, wages stagnant, and gas prices at about $3.50 a gallon.

    Consumer confidence plunged in August to recessionary levels, after lawmakers battled over raising the government’s borrowing limit and Standard & Poor’s cut its rating on long-term U.S. debt. That sent the stock market sharply lower, which hurts consumers’ ability to spend.

    Retail sales were flat in August, a sign the turmoil caused consumers to pull back.

    Businesses also held off on hiring. Employers added no net jobs in August, the worst showing in almost a year. The unemployment rate was stuck at 9.1 percent for the second straight month.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_UNEMPLOYMENT_BENEFITS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-09-29-08-34-22

  48. rikyrah says:

    Anita Perry Defends Her Husband’s Job Creation Record: ‘People Are Hungry For’ Minimum Wage Jobs
    By Marie Diamond on Sep 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Anita Perry, the wife of presidential contender and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), took to the campaign trail in Iowa today to defend her husband against a growing wave of criticism and scrutiny from the right. In between brushing away criticism of her husband’s debate performance and positions on immigration and the HPV vaccine, she made a surprising admission.

    While parroting her husband’s jobs claims, she also conceded that not all the jobs Texas has created during her husband’s tenure are high-paying jobs — in fact, Texas has the highest percentage of minimum wage jobs in the country. But Perry says that’s the sort of job people are “hungry for”:

    PERRY: He knows how to create jobs…We have 1,500 people moving to Texas every day to find a job. I’m not going to tell you they’re all high-paying jobs, but they’re a job, even if they’re a minimum wage job. And that’s what people are hungry for.

    American Bridge captured the video:

    Anita Perry’s claim that people are “hungry” for minimum wage job ignores the obvious truth that families are barely scraping by on those jobs and would much rather prefer higher wages.

    As ThinkProgress has reported, the so-called “Texas miracle” of job creation Gov. Perry touts as a key reason to elect him is nothing but smoke and mirrors, built on a boom in government jobs, population growth and low wage jobs. Texas has by far the largest number of employees working at or below the federal minimum wage compared to any state.

    In fact, Texas’ jobs numbers are moving in exactly the wrong direction. The unemployment rate in Texas has been steadily increasing throughout the recession, and went from 7.7 to 8.2 percent while the state was supposedly creating 40 percent of all the new jobs in the U.S. When you account for labor force growth, Texas ranks dead last in total job creation. Despite Perry’s claims that government can’t create jobs, he’s actually depended disproportionately on government jobs — between 2007 and 2010, 47 percent of government jobs were created in Texas.

    As for Anita Perry, the Austin-American Statesman reports that she depends mostly on her husband’s backers for her $60,000-a-year salary. Her salary from the nonprofit where she works “comes indirectly from Gov. Rick Perry’s political donors, state contractors and companies that do business with the state or have issues before the Legislature.” In fact, contributing to Anita Perry’s nonprofit has become yet another legal way those looking to curry favor with Perry’s administration “pay to play.”

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/09/28/330865/anita-perry-defends-her-husbands-job-creation-record-people-are-hungry-for-minimum-wage-jobs/

  49. rikyrah says:

    I’ll say it:

    NIGGER, PLEASE

    ………………….

    Cain: Blacks “Brainwashed’ Into Supporting Democrats
    …and ‘brainwashed into not being open minded’

    Fiery words from Herman Cain tonight. The Republican presidential hopeful calls the black community politically “brainwashed” in an interview on CNN’s The Situation Room. “African-Americans have been brainwashed into not being open minded, not even considering a conservative point of view,” he argues. “I have received some of that same vitriol simply because I am running for the Republican nomination as a conservative. So it’s just brainwashing and people not being open minded, pure and simple.”

    He goes on to reveal some unscientific poll numbers: “I believe a third [of African-Americans] would vote for me, based on my own anecdotal feedback. Not vote for me because I’m black but because of my policies.” And yep, he talks Chris Christie, too. “It’s not insulting as much as it is a disservice to the American people. The media is trying to create a story by sucking Chris Christie into race, just like they made a story by sucking Rick Perry into the race.”

    http://www.newser.com/story/129765/cain-blacks-brainwashed-into-supporting-democrats.html

  50. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone at 3CHICS!!

  51. Ametia says:

    Why conservatives hate Warren Buffett
    By E.J. Dionne Jr., Maybe only a really, really rich guy can credibly make the case for why the wealthy should be asked to pay more in taxes. You can’t accuse a big capitalist of “class warfare.” That’s why the right wing despises Warren Buffett and is trying so hard to shut him up.

    Militant conservatives are effective because they are absolutely shameless. Many of the same people who think the rich should be free to spend unlimited sums influencing our politics without having to disclose anything are now asking Buffett to make his tax returns public. I guess if you’re indifferent to consistency, you have a lot of freedom of action.

    Buffett has outraged conservatives by saying that he pays taxes at a lower rate than his secretary. He’s said this for years, but he’s a target now because President Obama is using his comment to make the case for higher taxes on millionaires.

    Thus did the Wall Street Journal editorial page call on Buffett to “let everyone else in on his secrets of tax avoidance by releasing his tax returns.”

    Somehow, the Journal did not think to ask its friends who battle vigorously for low taxes on capital gains to release their tax returns, too. But aren’t they just as engaged in this argument as Buffett? Shouldn’t accountability go both ways? Nor did the Journal suggest that the Koch brothers could serve the public interest by releasing a full accounting of all their political spending.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dionne-why-conservatives-hate-warren-buffett/2011/09/28/gIQAxmne5K_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions

  52. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone! ;-)

    • Good Morning, everyone!

      • Ametia says:

        Mornin’, SG2! Go get’em at FEMA!!!!

      • creolechild says:

        SG2~ I’m sending positive thoughts your way! From what I’ve read about FEMA ,and its performance during recent disasters, it has vastly improved since Katrina. You may want to check with the local Red Cross chapter in your vicinity to see if they’re providing services to help with applications/paperwork to FEMA. Might save you some time if they are…

        As a precautionary measure, make a second copy of EVERYTHING, as backup. And keep a record of the the names, job titles, telephone numbers and/or extensions of people that you speak to: who, what, when, why and where. Sometimes it can help by limiting the number of people you have to interact with so that you don’t have to repeat yourself over and over and over again–which can get pretty frustrating. Press on, baby girl, press on! (:

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