Serendipity SOUL | Friday Open Thread

Happy FRY-day, EVERYBODY!  3 Chics hope y’all enjoyed Earth, Wind, & Fire this week.

This entry was posted in Current Events, Jobs, Media, Music, Open Thread, Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

73 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Friday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 05:13 PM ET, 09/29/2011
    ‘New Negroes’ and brunch
    By Panama D. Jackson

    The first time I was introduced to the term “new negro” it was in the most pejorative context possible. If I’m not mistaken, somebody got put out of a car. And no, it wasn’t me. But somehow, in Washington, DC, – and I imagine in educated new negro enclaves across America like Atlanta, NYC, and Chicago – the term has taken root as some sort of indication of a new version of what “Blackness” looks like.

    Honestly, I’m still not even sure what it means. I’m guessing it means that you have a few degrees, are “eclectic,”and are about the finer things in life (and probably use air quotes, but don’t quote me on that – air or regular). Or at least purport to be. If there’s one thing we can all learn from Ray J, it’s that most of us aren’t half of what we think we are.

    Anyway, for somebody like myself who probably qualifies as a new negro but doesn’t quite understand how since I nearly abhor “fine dining” establishments and think cinematic masterpieces like “Thuggin’ It And Lovin’ It I &II” are worth viewing (shoutouts to the homies from Baton Rouge, LA), the one way you can tell if you’re part of the New Negro Cartel is brunch.

    Yes, brunch. For some odd reason, new negroes have undertaken brunch as a major and definitive part of the current educated negro aesthetic. Why? No idea. It’s just breakfast during lunch hours. Or as so eloquently stated on an episode of The Simpsons: “it’s not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end.” But every Sunday (and Saturdays too, though not at as commonly it seems), a bunch of people who probably didn’t make it to church can be found all over DC throwing back bottomless mimosas, bellinis, and chicken and waffles with reckless abandon by noon. The same conversations we are having at 10pm at some U Street eatery are being had the next morning after those relationship theories were either proven correct or idiotic after last night’s dinner.

    Here’s the funny thing: I don’t know when brunch became so popular amongst the buppie set. Obviously, folks have been doing brunch for eons. It used to be one of those after-church family events, in both the Black and white community as far as I could tell. And it used to run your pockets like a stick-up kid in Brooklyn. But now with reasonably priced alcohol specials and regular brunch menus as opposed to the buffet style, it’s just another stop at the restaurant for a group already averse to cooking.

    In some ways it almost makes sense. New negroes, especially in DC, are constantly on the search for the next new social foray. From clubs to lounges to art galleries to parties in odd places to whatever manifests itself in the imagination of the populace. The ever-changing social landscape of the group almost insists that some new way of hanging out is imperative. And brunch fits that mold.

    The fact that brunch can be as much a part of the social scene as which lounge is poppin’ is something that even W.E.B. Du Bois couldn’t have seen coming. And believe me, it is. Brunch is the move on weekends. It’s as good a place to meet somebody new as the club on Friday night. Or Target. Or online. Especially for the reading ninja set (my own colloquialism for the New Negro Cartel).

    Word to the wise, for any degreed-up individual moving to DC and looking to find out where the people just like you are, just find out where brunch is happening on a Saturday or Sunday and there we’ll be.

    At least until whatever’s next comes along.

  2. rikyrah says:

    Are black Obama backers and white liberals parting ways?

    By Joy-Ann Reid

    5:20 PM on 09/30/2011

    Since Barack Obama’s election as president (and even during the campaign) there has been an on again, off again conversation about how his race figures into the various sentiments about him.

    But a recent column by Tulane University professor, columnist at The Nation and MSNBC contributor Melissa Harris-Perry, and a subsequent response by a syndicated columnist at, blew the issue into the open in a new, and ugly, way. Rather than a debate about potentially race-based antipathy to Obama among the tea party right, the online debate raised the specter of racially tinged opposition to Obama on the left.

    In her column Harris-Perry posed the question of whether a different — and more stringent — standard was being applied to Obama by whites who supported his election in 2008 than was applied to the previous Democratic president, Bill Clinton. Saying “liberal electoral racism is the willingness to abandon a black candidate when he is just as competent as his white predecessors,” Harris-Perry noted the steep decline in white support for Obama during his first three years, compared to increased white support for Clinton in 1996, despite the Obama having arguably more policy success — including health care reform.

    The response to Perry’s column was fast — and furious.

    Columnist David Sirota derided Harris-Perry as a “longtime lockstep Obama defender,” and accused her of contributing to a “broader campaign aimed at shutting down principled progressive dissent about this White House’s record.” Sirota has been a consistent Obama foe, having written in December 2006 about the “ridiculousness and danger that is Obama 2008” amid speculation that the then-Senator might run for president, and he has been a relentless critic of the administration and its supporters.

    John Aravosis of Americablog, another prominent liberal blogger who has been at odds with the president asked his readers, “Are you disappointed with Obama simply because you’re a white racist and he’s black? Unlikely. Because if we were all white racists, we wouldn’t have supported Barack Obama in the first place. And we did. Far more than we probably should have.”

    Others asked, ‘where’s the evidence of racial animus?’ Among them was Joan Walsh, the former editor-in-chief at (and an MSNBC contributor) who now writes a blog at the online magazine. In her rebuttal, Walsh refuted Harris-Perry’s thesis that Obama is being treated worse by liberals than Clinton was, saying the difference in the economic conditions during the two administration’s accounts for most of the difference.

    But it was a piece by Salon and newspaper columnist Eugene (Gene) Lyons that took the debate, some would say, to a new low.

    In his response to Harris-Perry, Lyons opened with “not all fools are Republicans,” and then followed with this:

    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.

    Lyons’ dismissive response elicited a fierce backlash online, both from those who deemed his diminution of Harris-Perry’s qualifications as sexist, and from those who deemed his comparison of her arguments to the Ku Klux Klan offensive — and racist.

    Lyons defended his column in an interview with theGrio, saying he “set out to be provocative,” and to “make people think by shocking them a bit.”

    “I think if I had it to over again, I would use another comparison than the KKK,” Lyons said. “That seems to have gotten people to a place where they cant respond to anything else in the piece.”

    Calling his use of the KKK “needlessly provocative,” Lyons conceded “I would probably retract that point and find another way to make [my] point.”

    As for his point, Lyons, who lives in rural Arkansas, said “I actually was thinking of a little known White Citizens’ Council guy here who was a big [Bill] Clinton hater, named Justice Jim Johnson, who died last year. He wasn’t confrontational or violent, but he saw everything through the prism of race, and that was the comparison I was trying to make. [It was] a limited comparison, not trying to imply that she or her supporters are capable of violence or hate. Just [that Harris-Perry is] someone who sees everything through the prism of race.”

    Despite the walk-back, Lyons did not consider his comparisons to be racially inflammatory. On the contrary, he defended his overall point, and said that he didn’t think Harris-Perry “said anything politically useful, and to the extent she said anything, I think her column was politically silly.”

    If those comments come across as tone deaf, both in terms of race and gender, the 68-year-old Lyons was nonplussed.

    “In this case, everybody who’s angry about [the Salon column] is African-American, and everybody who’s favorable to it is not. I think there’s a perception problem, but both sides have a perception problem. Don’t accuse people of racism and expect them to curl up in a ball or expect them to frantically try to prove their innocence. You’ve got
    to be more careful about symbols than I was, but don’t expect me to prove that I’m ‘ipso-facto guilty.”

    Lyons said opposition to the president on the left has little to do with race, and everything to do with the economy, including 9.1 percent unemployment, which he called the “elephant in the room,” that he said Harris-Perry overlooked.

    “That’s why Obama is in trouble and as long as [the economy is weak,] he’s gonna stay in trouble.”

    As for the critique that liberals have been harsher critics of Obama than they were of Clinton, Lyons said, “I would say, one, kvetching is what liberals do, and two, I would say that Clinton always used to say, let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good. I think that’s what most liberals do. I think that’s a legitimate criticism, but I think that’s what liberals do. They did the same to Clinton. That’s one reason democrats are so hopeless. No sooner do they get a person in power and they start tearing him down, because he isn’t perfect; because they can imagine a perfect world. Republicans are just more disciplined.”

    Lyons complained that he is often associated with people with whom he disagrees, including Sirota, who also has also used the KKK meme against Obama supporters, in a December 2009 tweet he later deleted.) But Lyons said he “quit reading Sirota” during the health care debate, “because I thought he and a lot of people like him were being ridiculous. Yes I would have preferred if the president had said, ‘Medicare for all.’ However, the votes weren’t there. There was no possibility of getting single payer [health care] through the United States Senate, so what’s the point?”

  3. rikyrah says:

    GOP lawmakers consider changes to recall petition process
    Walker could get power over new rules for petition gathering

    Republican lawmakers signaled Tuesday that they will likely give Gov. Scott Walker authority over how recall petitions can be gathered, just as Democrats gear up to recall him next year.

    The move would allow Walker to halt a policy developed by nonpartisan election officials that, at least in theory, could make it easier for groups to gather signatures to recall the governor, as well as legislators from either party.

    “You have given the governor control of the chicken coop, so to say,” Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) told Republicans.

    But GOP lawmakers raised concerns that election officials had gone too far with their interpretation of state laws and said the governor and lawmakers should have a chance to weigh in on them.

    Under the changes Republicans are considering, Walker would also get to decide whether universities can put stickers on their identification cards that would allow them to be used for voting.

    The Government Accountability Board, which oversees state elections, adopted policies this month about recall petitions and what student IDs can be used for voting.

    Legislative leaders raised concerns about those procedures, and on Tuesday the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules took testimony from Kevin Kennedy, director of the accountability board. The co-chairs of the committee, Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) and Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon), expressed skepticism of the policies and said they would likely ask the accountability board to adopt them as administrative rules.

    Walker would have to sign off on such rules, and if he declined to do so, he could stop them entirely. If Walker approved them, the rules would then go before the committee, which could eventually block them, approve them or ask for modifications.

    Ott said it was important for lawmakers to have the accountability board adopt the policies as rules.

    “If (the committee) does nothing, you’ve got an agency that in my opinion is making law,” Ott said.

    Walker spokesman Chris Schrimpf declined to comment on the committee’s proposal.

    The accountability board this month ruled 5-1 that groups could use an online component to gathering recall petitions, though they stressed that voters could not electronically sign the petitions or submit them by computer.

    Normally, circulators collect signatures at public gatherings and on street corners and then submit their petitions to the accountability board. The policy the accountability board adopted would allow people to instead access a form online that had their address already filled out. They could print it, sign it and send it to the recall group.

    That could be a help to groups intending to recall Walker because they have developed databases of thousands of his opponents. They could use that information to email tailor-made forms that were already filled in. The individuals would still have to sign and date them and mail them in.

    The accountability board also recently developed a policy on student IDs as it prepares for a law that kicks in next year that requires people to show photo ID to vote. Student IDs can be used if they meet certain criteria, but few, if any, public and private colleges meet those criteria.

    The accountability board ruled that universities could put stickers on their IDs that include information such as expiration dates so they could be used for voting. Republicans have raised concerns about whether such stickers could be used fraudulently.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Democrats Pushing For Inquiry on Clarence Thomas

    Roll Call is reporting that a group of Democrats are now pushing for Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice to investigate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for his failure to disclose his wife’s income. Thomas, like all Supreme Court Justices, is sitting on a life-time seat on the highest court in the land. After almost two decades of not-nary-a-peep out of him on or off the bench, the last few years have been full of odd Thomas news, from his promotional book tour, to his wife’s controversial involvement in a conservative Tea Party think tank, to his wife reignighting the Anita Hill debacle by calling Professor Hill’s office early one Sunday morning and demanding she apologize for being sexually harassed by Thomas, then … most bizarrely, having all his “sexcapades” published by his ex-lover Lillian McEwen. Coincidence?

    From Roll Call:

    The group of 20 House Democrats led by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to the U.S. Judicial Conference, the governing body for federal courts, saying that Thomas has failed to report the income of his wife, Virginia, who earned $700,000 from 2003 to 2007 while working at the Heritage Foundation, according to news reports.

    The letter came just days before the Supreme Court returns for the new session, during which it is expected to consider a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s sweeping health care law. With such high-profile issues on the horizon for the court, the lawmakers wrote, “it is vital that the Judicial Conference actively pursue any suspicious actions by Supreme Court Justices.”

    “Justice Thomas’s failure to disclose his wife’s income for his entire tenure on the federal bench and indications that he may have failed to file additional disclosure regarding his travels require the Judicial Conference to refer this matter to the Department of Justice,” the group wrote in a letter to the secretary of the Judicial Conference.

    I’m not saying Clarence Thomas, through his own mistakes and his wife’s drunk dialing, didn’t re-affix that target on his back. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m not saying that because of his sloppiness and his wife’s cluelessness, coupled with the fact that there are many, many, MANY people who would like nothing more for him to disappear from his seat and be replaced by a much more center-left Obama judicial appointee that now he has a cabal of Democrats out to get him, finally having some tangible ammunition to attack him with. That is not what I’m saying.

    Oh, wait.

    That’s totally what I’m saying. Clarence Thomas is, once again, a marked man. And, once again, it’s pretty much his fault. He has a bit of a bitter streak that makes him lazy with the details. A chip on his shoulder that blinds him from the obvious. It’s not that other Supreme Court Justices aren’t a little questionable in how they handle their public statements and finances. But being former lawyers-turned-judges and all, they’re usually pretty good about giving themselves some wiggle room. Thomas, on the other hand, is the most powerful “dry drunk” in America. And Dry Drunks are just … ugh, awful, awful people sometimes.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Herman Cain Tries To Win Over Black People By Insulting Their Intelligence

    You know? I’ll never get this tactic that is, in my opinion, overused by black conservatives to get their fellow Negroes to cross over to the GOP side. I call it the “All black people are stupid but me” tactic. Which is, by far, the worst tactic to use. Herman Cain, presidential wannabe and Godfather pizza man, recently went on CNN and said the Democrats have “brainwashed” black people into not seeing conservatism and the Republican Party as viable political options. Which … OMG? Really? That old lie that pretends like the 1960s and 70s never happened? But then, maybe Cain wasn’t trying to win over any black people to the GOP with that statement. Maybe that was really about making white conservatives feel better since the GOP is routinely accused of harboring, defending and protecting bigots within their own party, rather than running them out of town.

    From The Root:

    Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said during an interview that aired on CNN’s The Situation Room on Wednesday evening that some members of the African-American community “have been brainwashed into not being open-minded, not even considering a conservative point of view.”

    He went on to say: “I have received some of that same vitriol simply because I am running for the Republican nomination as a conservative.” He added, “So it’s just brainwashing and people not being open-minded, pure and simple.”

    The reason why Cain has to deal with the vitriol is because of all the bigoted things certain members of the GOP have said and done. The fact that he refuses to acknowledge that the GOP welcomed the racist Democrats who refused to reform their racial views with open arms as part of their “Southern Strategy” is insulting. That he believes we should pretend Democrat and former President Lyndon Johnson didn’t say the Democrats would lose the South for decades if they backed things like integration, Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. That the majority of members of the Congressional Black Caucus are Democrats and the first party to put up a viable, black presidential candidate in the modern era was the heavily flawed but at least able to acknowledge racism is real, Democratic Party.

    Yes. Folks were “brainwashed.” With access and input and jobs and favorable legislation. I have this CRAZY theory that if the GOP gave more black people access, input, jobs and favorable legislation they’d be nicer to Herman Cain and maybe even consider voting for him. But all I ever here is how black people are “brainwashed” into disliking someone who runs with a party that makes excuses for their bigots and routinely sets up what few black candidates they have to fail. I’m sure Cain remembers that NOT-TO-LONG-AGO the GOP burned Michael Steele not once, but twice. First with their lack of funding, organization and support when he ran for Senate in Maryland. Then a second time when they tried to bully him out of running for RNC chairman again AFTER stripping him of some of his powers. Never mind all the times he had to walk back statements about Rush Limbaugh because, heaven-forbid someone say a critical thing about that bag of wind while also being a Republican.

    So, I’m supposed to pretend like Tom Delay blocking former Rep. J.C. Watts from heading up any committees in Congress, then backing a pro-abortion Republican against Watts in his primary to force Watts out of his seat didn’t happen. And I’m supposed to pretend like all the times Gen. Colin Powell was shoved into a wood chipper by former Vice President Dick Cheney didn’t happen? I’m supposed to pretend like NONE OF THESE THINGS HAPPENED?!

    The GOP barely supports their own, home-grown black conservatives, but you expect black voters to make a huge shift out of “open-mindedness?” Maybe Cain should get into a time machine and talk to himself from back in 2008.

    From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

    A breakthrough African-American candidate who’s going to have to break through on his own. The party is not going to push him. I was so disappointed in 2006. Michael Steele could have won if the Republican Party had really rallied behind him. Lynn Swann probably would have been an uphill battle. Ken Blackwell in Ohio, he and Michael Steele both had worked from within the party and paid their party dues. Ken was [Ohio] secretary of state, Michael was lieutenant governor; but then, when they go for the big one, [the Republican National Committee] wasn’t there for them. They should have pulled out all the stops to help them, but they didn’t. The state can only do so much, but the national party could have done more if they really wanted to.

    It doesn’t look like some black people are brainwashed, but that maybe Herman Cain has been brainwashed, or just maybe, he’s being disingenious and trying to appeal to a segment of white voters who think black people are just making this whole “institutionalized and systematic racism” thing up.

    Pandering is as pandering does.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Michelle Obama Went Incognito, Shopping at A Target In Virginia (Video)

    The First Lady escaped the White House the other day and was caught out foraging in the wild! Michelle Obama, clad in sunglasses and a baseball cap managed to spend 30 minutes shopping in a Target store in Alexandria, Va., pushing her own cart, going unrecognized by everyone but the cashier. Of the series of photos of her checking out while being unmolested, my favorite is that of the chick on her cell phone in line in front of Ms. Obama who probably hates herself a little right now. That would totally be me. I get tunnel vision when I go shopping.

    Unless that woman is the world’s shortest, female Secret Service detail.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Red State Reminds The World That Palin Said She’d Make A POTUS Announcement By Today

    Conservative blogger Erick Erickson over at Red State is having a lot of fun with what they’re calling “P-Day.” That’s their term for the last day of September, the final day Sarah Palin has said would pass without her making an announcement one way or another about her presidential campaign.

    Obviously, no announcement has come, leading to mocking by the RedState gang. Palin’s fans, to put it mildly, are not happy.

    Here’s the video of Palin talking with reporters at the Iowa State Fair Erickson cites when declaring P-Day, posted first to the San Francisco Chronicle:

    At around 2:42, Palin has this exchange (transcribed by Erickson at RedState):

    Palin says, “”I have said that that August to September time line is important for a number of reasons.”
    I believe it is Jake Tapper in the blue shirt who then asks her “So by next month?” which would be September.

    Her response?

    “I think that practically speaking that would have to be it, that drop dead date. Also, in fairness to supporters who are standing on the sidelines, this is what I’ve told Todd over and over again, I don’t want to be perceived as stringing people along.”

    Taking that line literally — and the the day’s date in hand — Erickson began putting up short posts like this one: “It is 11am ET. It’s 7am in Wasilla, AK. Still no Sarah Palin announcement.”

    And there doesn’t seem to be one coming. If anything, Palin appears to be backing farther away from a campaign than ever. On Fox News the other night, she openly worried if running for president would “shackle” her and prevent her from being “a maverick.”

    In the interview, Palin said she was still considering her moves — but acknowledged, “For logistical reasons though, certainly, decisions have to be made. You have to get your ducks lined up in order to get your name on ballots.”

    As my colleague Benjy Sarlin has reported, Palin doesn’t have long to make a decision — she’ll pocket veto the whole thing if she stays out much beyond Oct. 15 or so.

    Nevertheless, Paliniacs were not happy with Erickson’s reminder that P-Day is upon us. From his post entitled: “BREAKING NEWS: PALIN SUPPORTERS CLAIM SHE NEVER SAID IT OR MEANT IT OR SOMETHING”:

    Palin supporters want us to know that despite Sarah Palin saying that she’d decide by the end of September and despite Sarah Palin fan sites at the beginning of the month saying she’d announce by the end of the month, it wasn’t actually Palin talking in “voice of God” talk, but rather a non-binding advisory opinion. On the same day she said September was a “drop dead date” she told David Brody it could be October. “This must be like when the Pope says something, but doesn’t require that all Catholics go along with it and the Pope himself can change his mind,” Erickson writes.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Judges Say Texas Can’t Move Forward With Redistricting Plans The Feds Say Are Discriminatory
    A panel of three federal judges ordered Texas not to move forward with redistricting plans for both congressional and state legislative seats until they are approved in court.

    Justice Department lawyers have declared in court that they believe the congressional and statehouse redistricting plans signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry have been adopted at least in part for the purpose of “diminishing the ability of citizens of the United States, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates.”

    They’ve argued that regardless of intent, the plans would have the effect of diminishing the ability of Hispanic voters to pick their preferred candidates.

    A panel of three federal judges in San Antonio ruled that Texas should wait until the courts rule on the legality of the maps. In San Antonio, the panel of judges has heard testimony about the maps but hasn’t ruled on their legality, while the D.C. panel — charged with deciding whether to preclear the maps — won’t hold hearings for a month, according to the Texas Tribune. The court in San Antonio is handling a separate suit filed by opponents of the plan, while court in D.C. is handling the suit involving the Justice Department.

    “According to the Texas Election Code, any changes that must be made in the county election precinct boundaries ‘to give effect to a redistricting plan’ must be finalized by October 1, 2011,” the judges wrote, according to the Texas Tribune. “Because the redistricting plans have not been precleared … all persons or entities that would otherwise have a duty under Section 42.032 of the Texas Election Code are relieved of those duties until further order of the Court.”

  9. rikyrah says:

    Obama’s Missing Bravado
    Sep 30, 2011 11:37 AM EDT

    Obama has nearly decimated al Qaeda. Why doesn’t he brag about it? Michael Tomasky on liberals’ squeamishness at thumping their chests—and the endless victory lap that Bush would have taken.

    The immediate political question raised by the successful drone attack that took out Anwar al-Awlaki is simple. How much credit will Barack Obama get for this? He ordered renewed drone attacks in Yemen earlier this year, and now, we see clear results. But I doubt Obama will derive much political benefit, for one obvious reason and one reason that is less obvious but that reflects something more enduring in our political culture.

    When that SEAL team nailed Osama bin Laden, Obama got about a five-point bounce out of it, but it washed away as quickly as a wave on a beach. The conventional wisdom said, well, it’s the economy. People are more concerned about the unemployment rate. It also happened as the debt-ceiling crisis was starting to build, and Washington was more obsessed with it. So the conventional wisdom wasn’t necessarily wrong.

    But it also wasn’t the whole story. The fuller explanation reflects differences in the emotional and psychological make-up of liberals and conservatives. Conservatives are far more eager to thump their chests about these things. Liberals, from Obama to Hillary Clinton to the liberal foreign-policy gurus at the think tanks to your average person, find it a little unseemly.

    Imagine if the Bush administration had killed bin Laden, under circumstances as daring as the ones under which he actually was put on ice by the Obama administration. Imagine what that week would have been like. On Fox News, we’d have been subjected to endless Soviet-style encomia to our heroic leader. What would the administration itself have done? I’ll concede the 10 or 15 percent chance they’d have surprised us and played it humbly. But in all likelihood, Bush and Cheney and Rummy and Condi would have dashed around the country making speeches at martial events, alternated (of course) with bathetic public ceremonies in the presence of some of the very 9/11 widows whom the Bushies, in other moments, aspersed for wanting things like an honest commission investigation into how 9/11 happened in the first place.

    Obama didn’t do it. He held the press conference the night it happened. He quietly and tastefully—and wordlessly—laid a wreath at Ground Zero. He did give one speech, in Kentucky, but even that speech had very little of the gladiatorial sparkle of Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” orgy. Obama met with members of SEAL Team Six, but he did so privately, and the White House released few details of the meeting. More generally, the Obama administration has decimated al Qaeda in Iraq and Pakistan over the last three years. All the high-profile killings make news of course, and sometimes big news, but I can’t shake the feeling that if the Bush team had managed all these high-profile killings, Americans would be more familiar with the litany.

    There are two differences, I think, between liberals and conservatives when it comes to this sort of thing. The first is that the Democrats still believe that there are a few things that shouldn’t be politicized, while Karl Rove and his crowd thought absolutely everything should be. But there’s a more enduring difference than that. It’s about America’s role in the world and how it should exercise its power, and it goes back to the Cold War. Liberal Cold Warriors considered the dirty work of foreign policy a sad but unavoidable burden that history had placed on America’s shoulders. Conservative Cold Warriors as a group were more gung-ho and had no patience for that sort of temporizing.

  10. rikyrah says:

    A Final Word on President Obama and the Congressional Black Caucus

    The less and less I’ve found myself blogging over the past couple of months, when I do I try and add something new to the conversation. Something new doesn’t necessarily mean adding something contrary or opposing to what’s already been said, but often times it is and sometimes it’s just taken that way. But this topic, who knows how it’s really going to be received.

    This past weekend, President Barack Obama spoke to the Congressional Black Caucus about various policies and initiatives all of which were tailor made for the specific crowd. He opened up with a quote from the revered modern Civil Rights-era icon Rev. Joseph Lowery (the same man who gave the benediction at his inauguration in 2009) from a famous biblical passage of the three Hebrew boys who are at the center of the story in Daniel 3. It was as if Obama was taking a text. All I was waiting on was a sermon title.

    In a speech (not a sermon) shortly over some 23 minutes, he closed if you will, on this call to action for the CBC to “take off [their] bedroom slippers” and put on some “marching boots.” There was some admonishment to stop grumblin’ and complainin’ as well. Here’s a clip below:

    Invoking Martin Luther King and the old modern Civil Rights motif of “the Promised Land” as some ethereal and mystical utopia where humanity lives in harmony, the concept of “stop grumblin’” and “stop complanin’” is a clear enough reference to Moses and the former Hebrew slaves, making that metonymical transition into Israelites. The story of the Israelites in the wilderness is one of them complaining to no end–complaining to the point that they wished they were back in slavery because at least Pharaoh fed them, but they believed they had been led out to the wilderness to die. Many times Moses’ conversations with Israelite tribal god of Yahweh was focused around the people complaining to no end.

    To which I say, I think President Obama’s speech was on point and to the right audience.

    While I agree with Congresswoman Rep. Maxine Waters that Obama would have never said this to another demographic such as the Hispanic/Latino caucus, an LGBT political community or a Jewish community, it’s probably because those demographics aren’t the personification of a “rubber stamp.”

    Granted that’s a very, very surface analysis of the situation, but I’m going somewhere with this, so journey with me.

    From jump the other demographics don’t have anything of their own demographic represented in the singular personhood of the President which starts complicating this dynamic portrayed between Obama, the CBC and the black community’s subsequent reaction. But, all of the other demographics have a working political base that’s operates on politics based within the last decade, not the last half century.

    Let’s just be honest, we don’t hear a lot about the CBC on a national level that often.

    We can’t trace the hand of the work of the CBC in the last five years. While yes the individual members may be doing meaningful work in their own districts, as a unified body they are not a force to be reckoned when it comes to being able to influence political thought in an electorate. When the CBC is imaged by the disgraced Congressman from Harlem, Charlie Rangel or by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee or Rep. Maxine Waters (whom I both like by the way) what most in the black community see is the old guard, still stuck in a political era long gone. For what it’s worth, it says a lot that Barack Obama ran against Rep. Bobby Rush in Illinois, lost, only to win the U.S. Senate seat and finally the Presidency.

    And where is Bobby Rush?

    I don’t know. When I voted in 2010, I thought that was one of the most depressing ballots I casted. I honestly couldn’t point to something Bobby Rush had meaningfully done for our district in all my life–at least nothing beyond the status quo.

    It also needs to be said that complaining does not equal meaningful discussion. I’m not against talk if it’s talk that’s moving us forward, pushing our minds, pulling us toward challenging our embedded political philosophies–but talk, for the sake of talk somewhat equals complaining. With recent events such as the Troy Davis execution and recently hearing about possible voting rights violations in Texas, one is wondering where is the civil rights outcry? Instead our organizations that have historically done this well such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have become reactionary rather than controlling the rhetoric and being proactive in their fight.

    Granted reactionary politics, showing up a day late and a dollar short has come to categorize the nature of liberal politics in America in general in the age of neo-conservatism that we’ve seen since Bush II administration, it still doesn’t absolve one from finding refuge in the reactionary and solace in being go-along-to-get-along types. Prior to the jobs move that the CBC launched this past summer, I would be hard pressed to think of an instance where their name was attached to an independent initiative that had national ramifications. Truth be told, I think they were just riding the wave of anti-Obama sentiments that had been kicked off by the rather public disagreements amongst the academic Negro intellectuals namely Melissa Harris-Perry and Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, but perhaps that’s for another blog post.

    Nevertheless, what I saw in Obama’s speech amounted to a coach lighting a fire under the butts of a team that might have been the underdog going into the big game.

  11. Ametia says:

    The Truth Behind Eric Cantor’s Breitbarting of Warren Buffett
    By Sarah Jones
    September 30, 2011

    Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is leading the charge to protect the rich. This morning, Cantor uploaded a CNBC video on his You Tube page (yes, he has one) he titled, “Warren Buffet Seems To Disagree With President Obama’s “Buffet Rule” (that’s Buffett, Eric). This is, of course, not at all what happened.

    In fact, Buffett knocked down the GOP’s business uncertainty meme before he repeatedly said he supported what President Obama is trying to do, and that he would need to read the actual bill before commenting on said bill. Doh.

    That didn’t stop Cantor’s communication director from tweeting: “Tough day for the White House – Warren Buffett not so much a fan of President Obama’s Buffett Rule. Yeeesh”

    This naturally set off an orgasmic frenzy on the right, with the RNC leading the way on Twitter: “Warren Buffett Not So Keen On ‘Buffett Rule’” under the hashtag of #Obamanomics. (The grown ups are apparently out for the day.) The National Review, The Daily Caller, the DC Examiner and more are jumped on this meme faster than Joe Wilson screaming, “You lie!” Each headline getting progressively farther from the truth, until the DC Examiner’s headline fell on the sword of lies: “Buffett doesn’t support Obama’s ‘Buffett Rule’”

    Once again we have to debunk these boys, but there’s a treat in store for you this time. While Sorkin was trying to get Buffett to say he didn’t agree with the President’s plan, Buffett managed to kill the GOP’s “uncertainty” meme along with explaining that he supports people like himself paying their fair share of taxes. Ouch. Because Buffett wouldn’t comment on something he hadn’t yet read, the Republicans decided he must not support it.

    This is called projection.

    CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin sits down with Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway CEO: Video

  12. rikyrah says:

    September 30, 2011 2:05 PM

    How the far-right explains the Arab Spring

    By Steve Benen

    Revolutionary movements in the Middle East have quickly brought some fundamental changes to much of the region, and domestically, most conservative Republicans are pleased with the Arab Spring. Some even want to make the case that neocons contributed to the developments.

    But the right’s line hasn’t quite come together yet. Last week, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry argued, “For three years, the Middle East has heard a wavering and aimless foreign policy and they’ve seen it all too often out of this White House, apologizing for America, apologizing for America’s exceptionalism. I think that message has been the driving factor in the instability in the Middle East.”

    Now, that’s pretty dumb for a lot of reasons — President Obama neither apologized for America, nor apologized for American exceptionalism — but what struck me as especially strange is the notion that the president’s rhetoric has been “the driving factor” behind recent events in the Middle East. I can’t imagine even the most strident Obama supporter actually trying to argue that the president’s words have fueled the Arab Spring, and yet, here’s Perry effectively crediting the president for the regional revolutions.

    Yesterday, Michele Bachmann made a similar argument, insisting that President Obama’s remarks in late May on Israeli borders led to the regional uprisings in the Middle East.

    Just like Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s didn’t have the back of the Shah of Iran, we saw the Shah fall and the rise of the Ayatollah. And we saw the rise and the beginnings of radical Jihad which have changed this world and changed this nation,” she added.

    “So too under Barack Obama, we saw him put a lot of daylight between our relationship with our ally Israel. And when he called on Israel to retreat to its indefensible 1967 borders, don’t think that message wasn’t lost on Israel’s 26 hostile neighbors,” Bachmann continued.

    “You want to know why we have an Arab Spring? Barack Obama has laid the table for an Arab Spring by demonstrating weakness from the United States of America,” she said.

    Most of this is just idiocy, but it’s the layers of stupidity that are astounding.

    Bachmann believes revolutionary protests in the Middle East, which began in December 2010, were driven by Obama’s comments in May 2011 (comments that weren’t especially controversial anyway). Perhaps the right-wing Minnesotan believes the people of Tunisia have a time machine?

    Bachmann also believes the Arab Spring itself is an awful development — she wanted Obama to “have the back” of Middle Eastern dictators — that, again, has a direct connection to the rhetoric of the U.S. president and policy towards Israel.

    I realize that Obama is known for occasionally giving powerful speeches, but do Bachmann and Perry really believe the president’s spoken words can launch regional revolutionary movements?

    Oh, and have I mentioned that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) thought it was a good idea to put Michele Bachmann on the House Intelligence Committee?

  13. rikyrah says:

    September 30, 2011 10:40 AM

    A quiet record of foreign policy successes
    By Steve Benen

    A few years ago, before the 2008 elections, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) proclaimed on Fox News that al Qaeda members would be “dancing in the streets” if Barack Obama were elected president.

    Given Anwar al-Awlaki’s death, and al Qaeda’s brutal losing streak in recent years, it’s probably safe to conclude that King’s buffoonish comments look even more ridiculous now than they did at the time.

    Indeed, given recent developments, NBC’s First Read raises a good point about President Obama and foreign policy.

    No president since George H.W. Bush has had more foreign-policy successes happen under his watch than President Obama. The death of bin Laden. The dismantling of al Qaeda. The ouster of Khaddafy. And the end of combat operations in Iraq. Yet when you look at polls and Obama’s approval rating, he’s getting almost no credit from the American public, a la Bush 41.

    Noting the lengthy list of the Obama administration’s counter-terror successes, ABC’s Jake Tapper asked, “Remember when Rudy Giuliani warned that electing Barack Obama would mean that the U.S. played defense, not offense, against the terrorists? If this is defense, what does offense look like?”

    Good question.

    Taking a step back, though, I’m still struck by the extent to which this White House chooses not to take foreign-policy victory laps. If the Bush team had built up this impressive a record, is there any doubt there would be pictures of Dick Cheney and Bill Kristol chest-bumping on the South Lawn?

    What’s more it’s not just counter-terrorism. There’s far more to foreign policy than striking bad guys, and Obama and his team have a string victories on the global stage — I still think the New START treaty is under-appreciated — that are routinely overlooked, at least by domestic audiences.

    As we discussed last month, that the president has proven to be an effective international leader is no longer much of a question. But because Obama doesn’t feel the need to don a flight-suit, it seems as if the political world and much of the public just doesn’t notice.

    Why does the administration choose not to invest more energy in patting its own back? If I had to guess, I’d say it comes down to two things. One, Obama doesn’t bring a dance-in-the-end-zone style to his responsibilities. Bush tried to milk national security for political gain, and maybe the president found it distasteful and prefers a classier approach.

    And two, it probably wouldn’t matter much anyway — Americans’ interests are focused so heavily on the economy, nothing else sways public attitudes.

    But that leads to another question: should Obama and his team do more chest-thumping and take more victory laps? Should they try to get the credit they deserve, and reinforce the image of Obama as a skillful and effective leader? I don’t think it’s a stretch to say a Republican president with a record as impressive as Obama’s would be talking about little else.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    September 30, 2011 12:35 PM

    The economic blame game

    By Steve Benen

    The latest national CNN poll included a tidbit that’s worth keeping in mind.

    “Do you think the policies of Barack Obama and the Democrats or George W. Bush and the Republicans are more responsible for the country’s current economic problems?”

    Obama and Democrats: 32%

    Bush and Republicans: 52%

    Looking through the internals, blame for Republicans was surprisingly widespread. Both genders, every age group, every income level, and every region held the GOP more responsible for the current economic conditions. Self-identified moderates and independents also blamed Republicans.

    It’s obviously just one poll, but it’s largely in line with other recent surveys that have shown similar results.

    This is not to say that Democrats can count on these attitudes carrying the day, electorally, next year. Americans were inclined to blame Republicans for the economy last year, too, and if memory serves, GOP candidates did pretty well anyway.

    For that matter, even if the American mainstream believes Republicans are responsible for our weak economy, it doesn’t mean they won’t take their frustrations out on the president in 2012 — voters may very well conclude Obama wasn’t responsible for the problem, but they’re not satisfied with the way in which he tried to clean up the GOP’s mess.

    But I note these polls in part because some media establishment figures seem to get quite annoyed whenever the discussion turns to the economic problems Democrats “inherited,” as if the “i” word is a cop-out to be avoided at all costs.

    It’s not. The fact remains that most Americans still believe Bush and his party got us in this mess — and the majority happens to be right.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Friday, September 30, 2011
    Pre-Occupied With The Outcome
    Posted by Zandar
    A lot of news being made in the last few days about Occupy Wall Street, the protests are in their second week and beginning to draw the backing of labor and union groups.

    Labor unions and liberal activist groups plan to throw their weight behind the “Occupy Wall Street” protest in New York City that has now lasted 13 straight days, according to Crain’s New York.

    A diverse coalition of people have pledged to occupy Wall Street until something is done about corporate greed and the financial system’s undemocratic influence on the U.S. government.

    The protesters have been camped out in New York’s old Liberty Plaza, now called Zuccotti Park, since September 17.

    Among unions, the United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Workers United and Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 have said they will participate in the protest next Wednesday.

    The Working Families Party,, Make the Road New York, the Coalition for the Homeless, the Alliance for Quality Education, Community Voices Heard, United New York and Strong Economy For All also plan to support the demonstration.

    “It’s a responsibility for the progressive organizations in town to show their support and connect Occupy Wall Street to some of the struggles that are real in the city today,” Jon Kest, executive director of New York Communities for Change told Crain’s New York. “They’re speaking about issues we’re trying to speak about.”

    I admit, I didn’t have much hope for the movement in the first week, it seemed laughably disorganized. But then the Wall Street Journal and the NY Times did the movement a huge favor by dismissing the protests with some sloppy “dirty effing hippies” journalism, and that got them noticed by the internet. That, in turn, got them noticed by liberal activist groups and labor unions as the protests move into week number three.

    Meanwhile, similar, smaller Occupy protests are showing up across the country, even here in Kentucky.

    The situation started out ugly, but it’s picking up momentum as well as supporters. Most of all, it’s picking up organized supporters with intelligent demands and the ability to leverage the press. We’ll see how far this goes.

  16. rikyrah says:

    September 30, 2011 1:20 PM

    What Buffett said (and what he didn’t say)

    By Steve Benen

    The Hill told readers this morning that Warren Buffett “indicated Friday he did not agree with the president’s proposal to raise taxes on millionaires.” Around the same time, Mark Halperin ran this headline: “Buffet [sic] Seems Cool to Buffet Rule.” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) office has been pushing the line all morning that Buffett doesn’t support the so-called Buffett Rule.

    So, what’s the real story? Did Buffett break from the White House and reject the same idea he’d already endorsed? Cantor’s office may have successfully spun the media, but the truth is far more mundane. Pat Garofalo has the transcript of the exchange on CNBC this morning that’s caused such a fuss.

    Q: Are you happy you said yes [to having your name on the Buffett rule]?

    BUFFETT: Sure, I wrote about it.

    Q: Are you happy with the way it’s been described? Is the program that the White House has presented — a million dollars and over — your program?

    BUFFETT: Well, the precise program, I don’t know what their program will be. My program will be on the very high incomes that are taxed very low. Not just high incomes, some guy making $50 million a year playing baseball, his taxes won’t change. Make $50 million a year appearing on television, his income won’t change. But if they make a lot of money and they pay a very low tax rate, like me, it would be changed by a minimum tax that would only bring them up to what other people pay.

    There may be some subtle policy nuances between the White House line and Buffett’s, but they’re clearly aiming at the same policy goal. Reports that Buffett is rejecting the administration’s line are pretty misleading.

    What about this notion that actors and star athletes making $50 million a year won’t see a tax change? As Garofalo explained, this is “entirely consistent with the Buffett rule, since wages that athletes earn are taxed as income (at 35 percent), not as an investment (and therefore at 15 percent) like much of Buffett’s income. It’s that break on investment income that, in large part, allows the wealthy to pay lower tax rates.”

    And for Republicans to suddenly look at Buffett as some kind of ally is just silly. A half-hour after the CNBC interview, the Berkshire Hathaway CEO did another interview, this time on CNN rejecting the conservative line even more forcefully: “[T]here has been class warfare the last 20 years, and my class has won. We are the ones that got their tax rates reduced dramatically.” Even in the CNBC interview, though Buffett did not endorse the entirety of the American Jobs Act, he was asked whether he disagrees with the plan to raise taxes on those making $250,000 or more. Buffett replied, “No, no, no, no.”

    Those trying to argue that Obama and Buffett are somehow at odds just aren’t telling the whole story.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Does Urban Growth Have to Mean Gentrification?

    When libertarians (and liberals) argue that increasing the supply of urban housing will lower the price of urban housing, they’re drawing on some pretty basic and well-established economic concepts. And yet, the coexistence of gentrification and housing supply growth seem to put a lie to that theory – in cities across America, we see neighborhoods adding housing while still seeing rapid increases in the price of housing. From the point of view of the poor and often non-white residents who are being pushed out, the market remedy of increasing supply just doesn’t seem to be working.

    Any developer can tell you why: amenities. Poor urban neighborhoods, once home to American cities’ expanding middle- and upper-classes, have beautiful homes, but they lack the goods and services that non-impoverished residents demand. New housing comes with higher-end supermarkets, restaurants, and stores, which increase the value of the neighborhood faster than the new housing units can absorb.

    There are, however, decreasing amenity returns to scale. The first 100-unit rental building with the neighborhood’s first high-quality grocery story is a huge boon, but the hundredth glass tower with the neighborhood’s fifth bank won’t even be noticed. It’s at this point that the price-lowering effect of dumping new units on the market will outweigh the price-raising effect of the new amenities – in other words, prices will start to fall.

    The problem with American urban development patterns is that once a neighborhood has its amenities, new development grinds to a halt. Wealthier new residents have more political savvy than the old ones, and they use this to impose a protective NIMBY shield around the neighborhood. Maybe this is the same knee-jerk anti-market sentiment that we see in other sectors of the economy, but the fact that new residents are more likely to own property and have a stake in keeping the price of housing high can’t help. It’s at this point that the cutting edge of gentrification marches onward, with the cycle repeating itself in neighborhoods farther afield. You can sugarcoat this process by talking about “spreading the wealth around,” but at the end of the day most of the poor will be priced out, and those lucky enough to own their homes or have rent-regulated leases won’t value the upper-class amenities as much as they valued their old neighborhoods. As one political operative in D.C. recently put it, new white residents ”want doggie parks and bike lanes. The result is a lot of tension.”

    Recognizing the shortfalls of allowing development only in poor neighborhoods, many conclude that increasing supply is just not the answer. But gentrification happens even without new development, eventually pricing out even vaster swathes of people. The solution, though perhaps not very political palatable, is to allow densification in already-wealthy neighborhoods, too. The gentrifying classes of New York may claim to prefer the roughness of Brooklyn over the opulence of Manhattan, but that’s easy to say when you can’t afford to live in Manhattan anyway. Given more laissez-faire urban land use regimes, builders would inevitably redevelop desirable city cores more intensely than the poorer urban belts surrounding them, softening the blow of gentrification.

    But unfortunately for longtime residents who would like to stay in their neighborhoods, politicians prefer to channel growth towards poor neighborhoods rather than risk upsetting rich people’s views and property values. And unless poor people recognize that permitting more growth in the core is the only way to save their neighborhoods, this isn’t likely to change any time soon.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Romney’s New Attack Ad Draws Blood

    Rick Perry has walked back his immigration remarks. But Romney isn’t letting up:

    TPM provides some background:

    Yes, that’s former Mexican President Vincente Fox (a George W. Bush BFF and later Bush critic) giving Perry a shout-out for signing a bill all but four members of his state legislature sent to his desk. The bill was at the time fairly uncontroversial. Although the GOP right now portrays it as some kind of “magnet” for illegal immigrants, it was seen at the time as a practical solution to a common border state issue. Texas had plenty of young Latino children who had been brought into the country by their parents illegally when they were young. Many were in effect naturalized and passed through the various institutions of the state, but then reached college and found they would have to pay out-of-state tuition fees. This was a barrier to higher learning for a mobile and burgeoning group, and so passed the Texas legislature fairly smoothly.

  19. rikyrah says:

    30 Sep 2011 10:41 AM

    The Un-Bush

    Last fall, the Dish hosted an impassioned debate about the morality and ethics and prudence of targeting US civilians who have joined the Jihadist enemy in seeking to attack the US. My own position is that we are at war, and that avowed enemies and traitors in active warfare against the US cannot suddenly invoke legal protections from a society they have decided to help destroy.

    And so my response to the death of Anwar al Awlaki is obviously not going to be Glenn Greenwald’s, although I respect his consistency and integrity on this question, even though I think his position minimizes the stakes of the conflict, and misreads the nature of war.

    My response is to note what the Obama administration seems leery of saying out loud – in line with its general response to al Qaeda which is to speak very softly while ruthlessly killing scores of mid-level and high-level operatives. This administration actually is what the Bush administration claimed to be: a relentless executor of the war in terror, armed with real intelligence and lethally accurate execution. Sure, Yemen’s al Qaeda is not the core al Qaeda of Pakistan/Afghanistan – it’s less global in scope and capacities. But to remove one important propaganda source of that movement has made all of us safer. And those Americans who have lived under one of Awlaki’s murderous fatwas can breathe more easily today.

    The same goes for al Qaeda more generally. Obama has done in two years what Bush failed to do in eight. He has skilfully done all he can to reset relations with the broader Muslim world (despite the machinations of the Israeli government) while ruthlessly wiping out swathes of Jihadist planners, operatives and foot-soldiers in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He has thereby strengthened us immeasurably both in terms of soft and hard power.

    Compare the two presidents. One unleashed a war in Afghanistan he then left to languish, and sparked an unjustified war in Iraq, that became a catastrophe of mass death and chaos. He both maximally antagonized the Arab and Muslim world and didn’t even score a major victory against the enemy. In many ways, Bush gave al Qaeda an opening in Iraq where it never had one before, and allowed its key leadership to escape at Tora Bora. The torture program, meanwhile, fouled up our intelligence while destroying our moral standing in the world.

    Obama has ended torture and pursued a real war, not an ideological spectacle. He has destroyed almost all of al Qaeda of 9/11 (if Zawahiri is taken out, no one is left), obliterated its ranks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, found and killed bin Laden, in a daring raid pushed relentlessly by the president alone, capturing alongside a trove of intelligence, procured as a consequence of courage and tenacity rather than cowardice and torture.

    I know the next election will be about the economy. But what it should also be about is the revelation of the Republicans as fundmentally weak on national security. Caught up in their own ideology, they proved for eight years they’d rather posture and preen than do the intelligent, relentless, ethical intelligence work that is only now leading to victory.

    Obama, in other words, is winning the war Bush kept losing. And since Cairo, we have witnessed the real flowering of democratic forces in the Middle East – unseen during the Bush-Cheney years. For all the tireless efforts of the Israelis to cripple US foreign policy against Jihadism, Obama has done the job. If he fails to make this case in the next election, he will, in my judgment, be blowing an important opportunity to reinforce a structural advantage against the GOP on national security.

    Back in 2001, I wondered if Bush would be the president to win this war, while hoping he would. I wondered if his errors might lead to a successor who learned from them. That hope has now been fulfilled – more swiftly and decisively than I once dared to dream about

  20. rikyrah says:

    Occupy Wall Street Protests Poised to Grow Rapidly With Union Support
    Carl Franzen September 29, 2011, 7:00 PM 1577030

    The “Occupy Wall Street” protests, now entering their third week, are poised to get a whole lot bigger than its core of 200 to 300 people, potentially even exceeding the protesters original goals of 20,000 demonstrators, thanks to recent pledges of support from some of New York City’s largest labor unions and community groups.

    On Tuesday, over 700 uniformed pilots, members of the Air Line Pilots Association, took to the streets outside of Wall Street demanding better pay.

    On Wednesday night, the executive board of the New York Transit Workers Union (TWU Local 100), which represents the city’s all-important train and bus workers, voted unanimously to support Occupy Wall Street. TWU Local 100 counts 38,000 active members and covers 26,000 retirees, according to its website.

    The Union on Thursday used Twitter to urge members to take part in a massive march and rally on Wednesday, Oct. 5. That effort is being co-sponsored by another eight labor and community outreach organizations.

    The Village Voice spoke with TWU Local 100’s spokesman Jim Gannon on Wednesday, who explained the group’s reasons for joining the protests:

    “Well, actually, the protesters, it’s pretty courageous what they’re doing,” he said, “and it’s brought a new public focus in a different way to what we’ve been saying along. While Wall Street and the banks and the corporations are the ones that caused the mess that’s flowed down into the states and cities, it seems there’s no shared sacrifice. It’s the workers having to sacrifice while the wealthy get away scot-free. It’s kind of a natural alliance with the young people and the students — they’re voicing our message, why not join them? On many levels, our workers feel an affinity with the kids. They just seem to be hanging out there getting the crap beaten out of them, and maybe union support will help them out a little bit.” The other eight organizations expected to join in the October 5 rally, based on its Facebook page, are United NY, Strong Economy for All Coalition, Working Families Party, VOCAL-NY, Community Voices Heard, Alliance for Quality Education, New York Communities for Change, Coalition for the Homeless, which have a collective membership of over 1 million.

    As Jon Kest, the executive director of New York Communities for Change, told Crain’s New York Business: “It’s a responsibility for the progressive organizations in town to show their support and connect Occupy Wall Street to some of the struggles that are real in the city today. They’re speaking about issues we’re trying to speak about.”

    Crain’s also quoted a political consultant who said of the demonstration: “”It’s become too big to ignore.”

  21. rikyrah says:

    This Tax Day, ‘Farms’ Owned by the Rich Provide Massive Tax Shelter

    For all those feeling the pinch this Tax Day, rest assured America’s wealthiest one percent have no idea what you’re going through. Not only have they shaved a projected collective $121 billion off their income taxes thanks to Bush’s tax cuts for the rich but, thanks to misuse of agricultural tax breaks, many will not end up paying their fair share of property taxes either.

    Take Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers and the second-richest Texan, who qualified for an agricultural property tax break on his sprawling 1,757-acre residential ranch in suburban Austin and saved over $1 million simply because his family and friends sometimes use the land as a private hunting preserve to shoot deer. Or take billionaire publisher Steve Forbes, who got more than a 90 percent property tax reduction on hundreds of acres of his multimillion-dollar estate in upscale Bedminister, New Jersey, just by putting a couple of cows out to pasture. They are not alone. All across the country, a huge number of America’s wealthiest are tapping into agricultural tax breaks—and none of them have to do any real farming to qualify.

    Not only are agricultural tax breaks allowing wealthy landowners to shift their tax burden onto other less-affluent taxpayers but they are also helping bankrupt public schools, which derive the bulk of their funding from local property taxes.

    Agricultural tax breaks got their start in the ’50s and ’60s, as a response to the explosive growth of suburban development, which was encroaching on farmland and raising agricultural property values to the point where farmers were having paying their tax bills. Fearing that this would pressure farmers into selling out to developers, states began granting exemptions that allowed agricultural land to be assessed at rates well below market value. The practice, called use-value assessment, is today used by all but one of the fifty states to artificially deflate the value of farmland, frequently by 90 percent or more.

    The plan looked good on paper, but in the real world it was quickly manipulated to steer money to the rich.

    Many states expanded the definition of “agricultural land” beyond land that was farmed to land that simply had not yet been developed. In South Carolina, all it takes is five acres of trees to qualify for a tax exemption. New Jersey requires that a landowner have five acres, but also sell $500 of agricultural goods a year from their farm. Publishing magnate Steve Forbes and his wife, Sabrina, qualify for their exemption by breeding show cows on their 450-acre Bedminster estate. “You don’t make money selling hamburger meat. You make money breeding show cows; that’s the name of the game,” Forbes told Fortune magazine in 1996. Florida requires a couple of cows or a herd of goats, which don’t have to be on the property all the time. Texan law is so broadly defined that the PGA Tour golf resort in San Antonio has been trying to get recognized as a “nature preserve” to get a farm tax break.

    “You can go out and cut some brush, put out some feed and count the deer once a year and qualify,” a tax appraiser from Travis County in Texas told the Austin American-Statesman.

    That’s exactly what Michael Dell did with the suburban Austin ranch he uses as a second home. Periodically hunting and maintaining a “well-managed deer herd” reduced the property’s 2005 market value from $71.4 million to an agricultural value of $290,000, which saves him—and costs Texas—$1.2 million a year.

    It’s all perfectly legal under Texan law. As long as property owners stick to the state guidelines, country officials have no right to deny them agricultural status. Korea’s Samsung Electronics qualified for a “wildlife management” agricultural tax exemption on fifty-four acres of land outside its semiconductor plant in the Northeast Austin by putting up a few birdhouses, eradicating ants and taking a wildlife “census,” which reduced its tax bill from $21,080 to just over $135 (a reduction of over 99.4 percent), reported the Wall Street Journal in 2007. If wildlife isn’t your thing, dedicating a few acres to Christmas trees is enough to qualify for a property tax exemption under “timber production,” which is exactly what Hewlett-Packard opted for on its corporate campus in Houston. The company saved half a million dollars in property taxes in 2004, despite the fact that it openly plans to develop that land.

  22. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    September 30, 2011 11:20 AM

    The end of The Great Muffin Myth

    By Steve Benen

    Republicans and their news outlets have been heavily invested recently in recent weeks in pushing a silly little story: the notion that the Justice Department paid for $16 muffins at a conference. Kevin Drum keeps trying to tell people it’s not true, but the story keeps spreading.

    It’s probably too late to push back against the urban legend — these things often take on a life of their own — but for anyone who cares about reality, the myth has now officially been debunked.

    [I]t turns out the story wasn’t quite right. Hilton Worldwide fired back, claiming that $16 was in fact the price for a continental breakfast, complete with coffee, fruit, and juice. In a letter to Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) — who had called for an explanation — Justice Dept. officials wrote that if their accusers had examined all the receipts they would have found the actual price was $14.29 per person per day, and included breakfast and rental fees for the workshop space and conference rooms.

    Not a bad deal at all, especially in downtown Washington. “If you’re talking D.C., you certainly can’t have any basic continental breakfast for $16,” says Krista Minitelli, president of Hudson Event Group, which plans conferences around the country. “A very basic breakfast is at least $25 — and they just have bread and coffee, maybe fruit. In New York, a continental breakfast is in the thirties.” Minitelli called the prices cited in the government audit — including $1 per ounce for hotel coffee — “absolutely standard.” In a statement to Bloomberg Businessweek on Tuesday, the chastened Inspector General’s office conceded that it might not have been in possession of all the facts. “Since our report was issued, the Capital Hilton has stated that other food and beverage items, such as coffee, tea, and fruit, were included in the charged amount.”

    There’s certainly room for a conversation about convention expenses and whether the Justice Department has ever overpaid to feed attendees.

    But regardless of what you may have heard, taxpayers never paid for $16 muffins. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who called for someone in the DOJ to lose their job over this, can relax.

  23. rikyrah says:

    Charles Koch to Friedrich Hayek: Use Social Security!

    There’s right-wing hypocrisy, and then there’s this: Charles Koch, billionaire patron of free-market libertarianism, privately championed the benefits of Social Security to Friedrich Hayek, the leading laissez-faire economist of the twentieth century. Koch even sent Hayek a government pamphlet to help him take advantage of America’s federal retirement insurance and healthcare programs.

    This extraordinary correspondence regarding Social Security began in early June 1973, weeks after Koch was appointed president of the Institute for Humane Studies. Along with his brothers, Koch inherited his father’s privately held oil company in 1967, becoming one of the richest men in America. He used this fortune to help turn the IHS, then based in Menlo Park, California, into one of the world’s foremost libertarian think tanks. Soon after taking over as president, Koch invited Hayek to serve as the institute’s “distinguished senior scholar” in preparation for its first conference on Austrian economics, to be held in June 1974.

    Hayek initially declined Koch’s offer. In a letter to IHS secretary Kenneth Templeton Jr., dated June 16, 1973, Hayek explains that he underwent gall bladder surgery in Austria earlier that year, which only heightened his fear of “the problems (and costs) of falling ill away from home.” (Thanks to waves of progressive reforms, postwar Austria had near universal healthcare and robust social insurance plans that Hayek would have been eligible for.)

    IHS vice president George Pearson (who later became a top Koch Industries executive) responded three weeks later, conceding that it was all but impossible to arrange affordable private medical insurance for Hayek in the United States. However, thanks to research by Yale Brozen, a libertarian economist at the University of Chicago, Pearson happily reported that “social security was passed at the University of Chicago while you [Hayek] were there in 1951. You had an option of being in the program. If you so elected at that time, you may be entitled to coverage now.”

    A few weeks later, the institute reported the good news: Professor Hayek had indeed opted into Social Security while he was teaching at Chicago and had paid into the program for ten years. He was eligible for benefits. On August 10, 1973, Koch wrote a letter appealing to Hayek to accept a shorter stay at the IHS, hard-selling Hayek on Social Security’s retirement benefits, which Koch encouraged Hayek to draw on even outside America. He also assured Hayek that Medicare, which had been created in 1965 by the Social Security amendments as part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs, would cover his medical needs.

    Koch writes: “You may be interested in the information that we uncovered on the insurance and other benefits that would be available to you in this country. Since you have paid into the United States Social Security Program for a full forty quarters, you are entitled to Social Security payments while living anywhere in the Free World. Also, at any time you are in the United States, you are automatically entitled to hospital coverage.”

    Then, taking on the unlikely role of Social Security Administration customer service rep, Koch adds, “In order to be eligible for medical coverage you must apply during the registration period which is anytime from January 1 to March 31. For your further information, I am enclosing a pamphlet on Social Security.”

    * * *

    The private correspondence between two of the most important figures shaping the Republican Party’s economic policies—billionaire libertarian Charles Koch and Nobel Prize–winning economist Friedrich Hayek, godfather of today’s free-market movement—were obtained by Yasha Levine from the Hayek archives at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. This is the first time the content of these letters has been reported on.

  24. rikyrah says:

    September 30, 2011 9:30 AM

    About that Social Security poll

    By Steve Benen

    CNN released a new poll on Social Security, and some of the results don’t seem to make sense.

    Social Security reform has taken center stage in the 2012 presidential debate and one in five say the system is unconstitutional, but a new CNN/ORC International poll shows a majority of Americans have good feelings about the program.

    Eight in 10 Americans think Social Security has been good for the country, with 70 percent of young adults agreeing and almost nine in 10 senior citizens saying the same.

    Though large majorities of both parties believe the 75-year-old program instituted by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt has been good, about one-third of all Republicans think it is unconstitutional.

    So far, so good. The American mainstream likes Social Security, and the nutty wing of the Republican Party doesn’t think Social Security should exist.

    But the question that stood out asked respondents: “As you may know, a proposal has been made that would allow workers to invest part of their Social Security taxes in the stock market or in bonds, while the rest of those taxes would remain in the Social Security system. Do you favor or oppose this proposal?”

    A 52% majority favored the privatization plan, 16 points higher than a few years ago, and pointing to a public sentiment wholly at odds with all other recent polling. So what’s the problem? Have conservative arguments against the integrity of the Social Security system suddenly persuaded the American majority?

    I rather doubt it. Part of the issue may be contextual understanding of the debate. When there was considerable attention on Social Security privatization during the Bush era, the public was frequently confronted with relevant details, and the mainstream hated the idea. That discussion has since faded, and many Americans may have forgotten the arguments they used to find persuasive. Should the debate reignite, I suspect public attitudes would adjust accordingly.

    But there’s also the issue of the question’s wording: CNN made it sound as if workers could take funds out of the Social Security system without consequence. We know that’s false — it’s a pay as you go system, and if current workers put money in the stock market instead of Social Security, there will be far fewer funds to pay current retirees — but the poll question made no reference to these details.

    In other words, I’d take the CNN poll with a grain of salt. There’s probably less here than meets the eye.

  25. rikyrah says:

    Good job
    by Kay

    I am cautiously optimistic:

    Earlier this year, Ohio Gov. John Kasich® signed a sweeping bill intended to make it harder to vote in his states’ elections. Kasich’s anti-voter law drastically cuts back on early voting and erects new barriers for absentee and even for election day voters. Today, however, opponents of Kasich’s war on voting will submit over 300,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office — well over the 231,000 signatures necessary to suspend the law until it can be challenged in a referendum in November of 2012. If enough of the signatures are deemed valid, the practical effect of this petition will be that Kasich’s law will not be in effect during the 2012 presidential elections when Republicans hoped the law would weaken President Obama’s efforts to turn out early voters who support his reelection.

    Note the caveat: if enough of the signatures are deemed valid. The general rule is one would want to submit twice as many signatures as required, and we didn’t make that number. 318,000 is better than I expected, however, because, in my opinion, conservatives and media have succeeded beyond my worst nightmares in convincing people that the fundamental and constitutionally guaranteed right to vote is exactly the same as cashing a check, using an ATM, or purchasing a bus, train or airline ticket. I’m sure I missed one or two comparisons there, although I believe I’ve heard every one. Like everything else under the sun, the franchise is now akin to a commercial transaction.

    That’s remarkable, considering the absolutely epic struggles we’ve had in this country to extend voting rights to minorities and women, up to and including amending the Constitution, but, working in concert, conservatives and media managed to pull that redefinition off.

    Votes for women were first seriously proposed in the United States in July, 1848, at the Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Convention organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. One woman who attended that convention was Charlotte Woodward. She was nineteen at the time. In 1920, when women finally won the vote throughout the nation, Charlotte Woodward was the only participant in the 1848 Convention who was still alive to be able to vote, though she was apparently too ill to actually cast a ballot.

    That’s a lot like the epic struggle to cash a check, isn’t it? Sure it is.

    Supporters of President Obama in Ohio, a key battleground state, have scored what is seen as a significant victory for maximizing Democratic voter turnout ahead of the 2012 presidential election. Obama campaign volunteers and a coalition of Democratic-aligned advocacy organizations gathered more than 318,000 signatures to effectively block new Republican-sponsored voting restrictions from taking effect through the next year, the groups announced today. “It’s a victory for organizing,” said Brian Rothenberg, who led the fight against the new rules.

    It is a victory for organizing, and it’s a (preliminary) victory for my local OFA organizer, who is brand new at this, very young, and local: she grew up in one of the most conservative counties in Ohio. She had to call me four times to track me down to find a place our paths might cross where I could give her my (one) petition.

  26. creolechild says:

    Here’s Maysa singing When I Fall In Love. Have a great weekend everyone and stay safe~

  27. creolechild says:

    Here’s Phil Perry singing, Call Me~

  28. creolechild says:

    Here’s Eric Darius performing Breathe.

  29. creolechild says:

    How about some music this morning? Here’s the O’Jays singing Living For The Weekend~

  30. creolechild says:

    U.S. troops no longer needed in northern Iraq: general – By Agence France-Presse

    Large numbers of US troops are no longer needed on the ground in northern Iraq to defuse Arab-Kurdish tensions and have begun handing over control to local forces, a US commander said Thursday. Army Major General David Perkins, who leads 5,000 US troops deployed in northern Iraq, said the American contingent has gradually withdrawn from checkpoints that it had overseen to prevent clashes between Kurdish troops and Iraqi army and police.

    “So we no longer have US forces on any of those checkpoints permanently as we did before,” Perkins told reporters via video link from Iraq. “And that has gone exceptionally well” with no incidents reported since the beginning of September, he said. Three US battalions used to work at the checkpoints in the north but after an 18-month transition, the Iraqi forces were in charge, Perkins said. “Clearly there is not the need for them (US troops) to play the role they had, especially in the numbers they had. We have proven right now that out at the checkpoints they can run perfectly fine without US presence there at all.”

    His upbeat comments reinforced suggestions from the former commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, who said recently that progress in transferring security duties to local forces could mean a large contingent of American troops would not be required to contain tensions.


  31. creolechild says:

    Political Racism Alive and Well in the U.S.A. – By Paul Yeager September 24, 2011

    We in the U.S. like to think that racism is a thing of the past, but there’s been plenty of proof lately that racism is alive and well inside of our political system.

    The most recent example of institutional racism occurred just this week, when the Department of Justice announced the results of its preliminary investigation into a congressional redistricting map in Texas, which was signed into law by Governor (and presidential candidate) Rick Perry. According to the DOJ, it appears that the redistricting map was “adopted, at least in part, for the purpose of diminishing the ability of citizens of the United States, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates of choice to Congress.”

    In other words, the Republicans rigged the map in their favor at the expense of minorities.


    Read more:

  32. creolechild says:

    Will the Republicans Vote No on Employment for Our Returning Warriors? – By Sarah Jones

    Gone are the flag-waving chants of “USA! USA! USA!” from the Right and the co-opting of the military as proof of their patriotism. Once you’ve served, the Republicans don’t seem to have much use for you. 2.3 million military members have served in Iraq and Afghanistan alone since September 11, 2011. Even while in service, it’s the Democrats who fight for things like protective gear and water, while the Survival of the Fittest Ayn Randian chicken hawks sit on their expensive leather chairs voting no on the needs of our troops, even while beating the war drum against Iran.

    We are now at an unemployment crisis point for our returning veterans. To address this problem, the President has called for a “Career-Ready Military” and is offering tax incentives to employers who hire returning troop as part of the American Jobs Act. Scott Gould, the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, reported for Veterans Today in an article titled, “The American Jobs Act Helps our Veterans” that within the American Jobs Act, it offers tax credits for Employers who hire U.S. Veterans and additionally, it helps active military personnel with improved transition services.


  33. creolechild says:

    Getting Rich Off The Poor: How The Koch Brothers Wealth Grew 43% Since 2010 – By Jason Easley

    A week after the Census Bureau reported that American poverty has hit an all time high, America has learned the wealth of Charles and David Koch has increased 43% since March of 2010. According to Forbes, the Koch Brothers have seen their fortune grow by 43% in a little more than a year to $25 billion. According to Think Progress the Koch boys have made their money by aggressively speculating in energy markets, “Koch uses legitimate hedging products to create price stability. However, the documents reveal that Koch is also participating in the unregulated derivatives markets as a financial player, buying and selling speculative products that are increasingly contributing to the skyrocketing price of oil.”

    In other words, every time the price of gas goes up for no particular reason other than the vague energy speculators excuse, the Koch brothers just made themselves more money. Charles and David Koch are profiting by artificially raising the price of energy futures. What makes the Koch brothers different is that they have taken some of their vast fortune and used it to fund candidates and elected officials in the Republican Party who will allow them to keep making money while the rest of America winces when they have to fill up the gas tank. The Bush Recession has been great for people like Charles and David Koch. With a 43% gain in wealth, it is no wonder why they want to keep the bad times going for the rest of us. While the super rich have gotten even richer, everyone has seen their wealth plummet.

    [Click on link to view video and graphs.]

    As David A. Griffith wrote, Leverage is an amazing thing: When prices go up, the borrower gets all the gains. And when prices go down, the borrower takes all the losses. Some families lost everything when the bubble collapsed, others lost very little. But, on average, American homeowners lost 55% of the wealth in their home. Most middle-class families didn’t have much wealth to begin with — about $100,000. For the 22 million families right in the middle of the income distribution (those making between $39,000 and $62,000 before taxes), about 90% of their assets was in the house. Now half of their wealth is gone and it will never come back as long as they live.


  34. rikyrah says:

    Race To The Right: Rick Perry Ignites GOP Civil War On Education
    Benjy Sarlin September 30, 2011, 5:00 AM 17520

    Rick Perry’s recent attacks against Mitt Romney over his support for White House’s Race To The Top program is more than just a passing hit job: it reveals a large and mostly unspoken division within the GOP over education.

    “There is one person on this stage that is for Obama’s Race to the Top and that is Governor Romney,” Perry said in last week’s debate, adding that “that is not conservative.”

    Actually, Mitt Romney wasn’t the guy on the stage who supported Race To The Top, (although he had plenty of nice things to say about it). That would be Newt Gingrich. The former Speaker of the House actually toured the country with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the Rev. Al Sharpton to promote it.

    “I agree with Al Sharpton, this is the number one civil right of the 21st century,” Gingrich said of education policy in a joint Meet The Press appearance in November 2009, adding that Obama showed “real leadership” on the issue.

    There will be another fan on the debate stage if Chris Christie joins the race. He’s called Duncan a “great ally to try to reform education for kids across America.” Christie’s biggest beef with Race To The Top wasn’t that he didn’t like the program, it’s that his state bungled the application to compete for its funding. Another administration backer is the other fantasy candidate Mitch Daniels, who gushed over Duncan and Obama’s education initiatives in a speech at conservative think tank AEI this year.

    The gaping partisan divide in Washington today has turned even once routine issues like raising the debt ceiling and issuing disaster relief into apocalyptic fights. So it’s a little surprising that one of the most important planks of domestic policy, education, is among the few relatively nonpartisan topics over the last decade.

    It began with President Bush, who courted the middle by passing a No Child Left Behind bill — with help from John Boehner and Ted Kennedy alike — that included national education standards. Obama further scrambled the equation by taking an approach even more popular with conservative think tanks that focused on rewarding states that voluntarily reform their school systems with grants and prizes, most notably through the $4.35 bill Race To The Top program. Many of the individual ideas endorsed by the White House, including expanding charter schools and provisions designed to increase teacher accountability, are tough sells to teachers unions and popular even with Republican critics like Perry.

    “On substance, there’s not much daylight even between Obama and the various Republicans candidates as far as elements of school improvement,” Rick Hess, director of education policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told TPM. “They’re all broadly supportive of charter schooling, they’re all in favor of data systems that let you measure teacher effectiveness and overhauling tenure, they’re all in favor of doing something about persistently lousy schools.”

    According to Hess, the primaries are obscuring their common ground as the candidates are loathe either to side with Obama on any individual program or undercut their anti-Washington message by talking up their plans for federal education policy.

    Perry himself is a good illustration of the blurry partisan lines on education. He has been a leading critic of Race To The Top, which he argues pressures states into adopting national standards. In the last debate, he sold himself as a “vocal” opponent of No Child Left Behind, telling the audience that “the federal government has no business telling the states how to educate our children.” But back in 2002, Perry sang a different tune, happily accepting money from the Bush program and bragging in a press release that “Texas was a model for President Bush’s No Child Left Behind legislation.”

    While the administration’s emphasis on using incentives to power progress and willingness to clash with key parts of its base fits in well with technocratic Republicans, the Tea Party’s rise has led much of the conservative base to revolt against the very notion of federal education policy. Presidential candidates Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, and Gary Johnson have all called for the Department of Education to be abolished entirely and plenty of conservative lawmakers are on record backing the idea as well.

    Perry, while not going quite as far, has adopted many of the same rhetorical frames. In Fed Up! he wrote that Republican NCLB supporters are “losing sight of the fact that perfectly laudable policy choices at the local level are not appropriate (much less constitutional) at the federal level.” Still, he’s not Ron Paul: in announcing his decision to drop out of the Race To The Top competition, he argued that the federal government should “make the money available to states with no strings attached,” rather than cancel the entire program.

  35. creolechild says:

    Van Jones: October to be turning point for progressives – By: Eric W. Dolan

    Civil rights activist and attorney Van Jones said Thursday night on MSNBC that he planned to build a “progressive counterbalance” to the tea party movement. “I think everybody should hold on to your seats. October is going to be the turning point when it comes to the progressive fight back,” he said.

    “You can see it coming. When Warren Buffett comes out and says, ‘look, we’ve got to do something to raise taxes and to do better by America,’ and you’ve got these young kids who are going out on Wall Street… there is a generation of Americans looking around saying, ‘what is the American dreaming going to look like for me?’”

    “You’re going to see an American Autumn, just like we saw the Arab Spring,” Jones added.

    Watch video, courtesy of MSNBC, below: [Click on link to view video.]

  36. creolechild says:

    Republicans try to block funds for health care reform – By Agence France-Presse

    Republicans in the House of Representatives unveiled a bill Thursday that would block funding for President Barack Obama’s health care reform as long as it is contested in the courts. The measure targeting the health care reforms passed by Congress in 2010 was contained in a bill that would fund the Health and Human Services Department in 2012. Besides barring funding next year for the health care reforms, it would eliminate 8.6 billion dollars in funds allocated for a variety of measures that are already underway.

    The new bill comes a day after the Obama administration asked the US Supreme Court to decide whether the reforms — which would require everyone to have health insurance by 2014 — are constitutional in a bid to settle legal challenges by certain states. To be adopted the bill must be approved by both houses of Congress. In the Senate, the Democratic majority is likely to oppose the bill.
    Republicans, who have held the majority in the House of Representatives since the November 2010 midterm elections, have campaigned to repeal the health care reforms.

  37. creolechild says:

    What is wrong with this man???

    Rick Perry fires ‘relaxing’ sniper rifle in official campaign video – By: David Edwards

    In an official campaign video released Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry explained that shooting sniper rifles was his version of golf. “This is my golf,” the candidate said, praising the owners of a gun shop that “make the finest sniper rifles in the world.”

    “I’m still trying to get a hole in one,” Perry’s voice is heard saying over video of him firing one of the rifles.
    “For me it’s really relaxing and getting to come hang out with what I consider to be patriots, the men and women that work here.”

    Watch this video from Rick Perry 2012, broadcast Sept. 28, 2011. [Click on link.]

  38. creolechild says:

    Strauss-Kahn confronted by rape bid accuser – By Agence France-Presse

    Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn had a two-hour face-to-face confrontation at a Paris police station on Thursday with the French writer who accuses him of a 2003 rape attempt. The encounter between Tristane Banon, 32, and Strauss-Kahn, 62, took place without lawyers present although police were there. One of Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers said that both people had stuck to their version of what happened. “DSK stuck to his version of events, as did she,” lawyer Henri Leclerc said, using the politician’s initials by which he is better known in France. Asked whether his client had apologised, Leclerc said: “He has nothing to apologise for.”

    Banon, who is to appear on French primetime television on Thursday evening, refused to comment on the encounter when asked by AFP. Police are probing Banon’s allegation that the former French presidential hopeful locked her in a bare Paris flat in 2003 and assaulted her, with prosecutors then to decide whether to press charges. Such an encounter is common in French justice when two people in a case give different versions of events. The meeting could bring investigations to a close, after which the prosecutor could decide that there’s no case, or that the alleged crime happened too long ago or that a prosecution is warranted. Banon’s complaint is for attempted rape rather than sexual assault or harassment, and if the prosecutor decides to downgrade the charge Strauss-Kahn would be protected by a statute of limitations on the lesser crimes.


  39. creolechild says:

    McGraw Hill has a long-standing relationship with the Bush family. It should be noted that its publishing firm benefited greatly when The No Child Left Behind legislation was enacted. Tests, tests, tests….

    SEC mulls charges against McGraw Hill in CDO case – By Reuters Monday, September 26th, 2011 — McGraw-Hill Cos Inc said U.S. regulators may charge its Standard & Poor’s ratings unit with violating federal securities laws with ratings on a repackaged mortgage bond in 2007. The company said it received a Wells Notice from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that commission staff may recommend a civil lawsuit against the unit for a rating on 2007 collateralized debt offering (CDO) known as “Delphinus CDO 2007-1.” The staff may recommend that the SEC seek monetary penalties, the company said in a statement today.

    Regulators send Wells Notices to companies or people to give them a chance to argue why government should not file an enforcement action against them. The company said it received the notice on September 22. The SEC’s investigation comes as McGraw-Hill prepares to split into two publicly-traded companies, one holding Standard & Poor’s and market information services and another holding its textbook publishing company. Institutional shareholders, led by Jana Partners, have pushed the company to completely separate the S&P ratings business from the information services. S&P issued the CDO rating in question at the end of the credit boom that carried mortgage lending and house prices to unsustainable heights. S&P put triple-A credit ratings on many mortgage-related securities which later went into default when house prices collapsed.


  40. rikyrah says:

    September 30, 2011 8:40 AM

    The limits of tone and style

    By Steve Benen

    Rumors about half-term New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) interest in the presidential race intensified this morning, with a credible report from the Newark Star-Ledger that he’s “seriously rethinking” his intentions.

    While we wait to see if Christie is prepared to abandon his unambiguous, iron-clad denials, this Wall Street Journal item struck me as interesting.

    The Christie boom is being fueled by dissatisfaction with the party’s current roster of candidates by some in the GOP. But because of his largely unexamined policy positions, Christie watchers in New Jersey predict the governor might not end that soul-searching if he decides to run.

    “Conservatives are enthused,” said Patrick Murray, chief pollster at New Jersey’s Monmouth University. “But when they get to know him, they might not feel quite so enthusiastic.”

    Christie backers, such as billionaire John Catsimatidis, argue the governor’s core appeal lies in his character and style, and less so in his individual positions. [emphasis added]

    Hmm. Far-right Republican primary voters are, apparently, expected to overlook what Christie actually believes, and will support the half-term governor because they’ll like his tone.

    Am I the only one who sees a flaw in this approach?

    If recent campaign developments have proven anything, it’s that candidates’ positions on key issues matter quite a bit to the GOP base. The right was awfully impressed with Rick Perry’s tone, too, right up until they learned he supports giving tuition breaks to the kids of undocumented immigrants.

    And when it comes to breaking with Republican orthodoxy, Christie’s record would pose enormous problems for party voters. We’re talking about a potential candidate who has supported gun control laws, believes in climate science, and doesn’t think it’s illegal to be an undocumented immigrant. Christie balked when invited to file suit against the Affordable Care Act, he doesn’t hate Muslims, and he endorsed a deficit-reduction plan that raises some taxes.

    Christie’s cheerleaders think his “style” will render all of these positions irrelevant. Rudy Giuliani thought the same thing four years ago.

    This is, of course, the underlying flaw in the incessant search in Republican circles for saviors. Activists and donors aren’t satisfied with the current field, so they search for a white knight to rescue them. Then the party gets a closer look at the knight, notices imperfections, and looks for another.

    I have no idea if Christie will break his word and launch a campaign. I suspect, though, that if he does jump in, the search for yet another savior will continue.

  41. creolechild says:

    WHOA?!! This is a bit much…

    Biometrics at Pizza Hut and KFC? How Face Recognition and Digital Fingerprinting Are Creeping Into the U.S. Workplace – By: Tana Ganeva

    All summer, Lathem Corp. product marketing manager Tony Burks has been on tour, pitching the biometric company’s line of face-scanning time clocks at trade shows around the country. In his presentations Burks moves toward the small device and then backs away, showing how FaceIN uses some of the latest advances in face recognition technology to assess his identity from up to three feet away.

    FaceIN uses two cameras to map a worker’s face, converting the width of their cheekbones, depth of their eye sockets, nose shape, and other unique facial features into an ID code. Every day after that, workers punch in by standing in front of a machine that recognizes them after a two-second face scan. Unlike the old-fashioned electronic password, FaceIN promises to tightly monitor when workers come and go, permanently banishing “buddy punching” from the workplace — the time-honored practice of covering for a co-worker who may be running a few minutes late.


  42. creolechild says:

    Thank you, Winning Progressive Blog!

    Thomas Friedman Needs to Go Back to Journalism School

    Thomas Friedman’s recent New York Times column titled Help Wanted: Leadership should be taught in every Journalism 101 class. We say that not because it is a good column (it is not). Instead, it should be taught becuase it is a textbook example of the type of false equivalency in political reporting that is allowing our political system to become so disfunctional. In the column, Mr. Friedman bemoans the continued economic struggle facing our country and the failure of our political leaders to solve those problems. Mr. Friedman identifies the outlines of a reasonable plan to get our economy moving again, stating:

    We know what to do — a Grand Bargain: short-term stimulus to ease us through this deleveraging process, debt restructuring in the housing market and long-term budget-cutting to put our fiscal house in order. None of this is easy and the economy will not be fixed overnight; it will take years. But there is every chance it will get healed if our two parties construct the Grand Bargain we need.

    But then Mr. Friedman goes off track by blaming both Democrats and Republicans for failing to enact such a plan. He compares the “collective behavior” of President Obama and both the Republican and Democratic Congressional leadership to Herbert Hoover, and claims that both sides have failed to do what needs to be done to get the “Grand Bargain” needed to jump start the economy and tackle long term deficit issues. Mr. Friedman acknowledges that Republicans have “tried to make President Obama fail from Day 1″ and that the GOP’s “dabbling with another government shutdown now is pure madness.” But then Mr. Friedman blames President Obama for not taking the lead in forcing both sides to agree to a plan “that offers some short-term jobs stimulus, a credible long-term debt reduction plan with entitlement cuts and tax reform that increases revenues.”

    Mr. Friedman’s column suggests that he has not been paying attention to political reality for the past two-and-a-half years. His pointing of blame at President Obama is laughable given that our President has offered and been barnstorming the country for almost exactly the plan Mr. Friedman is calling for. The American Jobs Act would provide short term stimulus to assist the economy. President Obama has further called for $3 trillion in deficit cuts, 1/2 from revenue increases from the wealthy, $1.1 trillion from ending unnecessary wars, $320 billion in Medicare and Medicaid savings by rationalizing health care spending rather than cutting benefits, and $257 billion in cuts to mandatory government spending programs including a 50% reduction in agricultural subsidies. In other words, President Obama has put forth and is fighting for exactly the plan Mr. Friedman calls for.


  43. rikyrah says:

    GOP’s War on Women Careens Onward; Obama Administration Throws Up Roadblocks
    by ABL

    Republicans are trying to climb inside your uterus again.

    During the last budget showdown, the Republicans showed America its battle-plan in the War on Women: the GOP is trying like hell to defund Planned Parenthood. At the time, I wrote the following:

    I have (or at least I think I have) avoided coming right out and stating that Republicans hate women. It seemed to be such a gross and unfair generalization.

    But with each passing day, as they attempt to redefine “rape” and “rape victim”; as they attempt to pass legislation that permits Dr. Conscientious Objector to refuse to perform emergency abortion services and to also not require hospitals to transfer women to a facility that will provide such services (thus, quite literally, leaving women to die); as they attempt to redefine justifiable homicide such that the murder of any person threatening the life of a fetus becomes justified (does this include the murder of the mother herself? Can a scorned boyfriend or husband decide to murder his girlfriend or wife because he suspects that she intends to make a choice about her body and whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term?), it becomes more and more difficult for me to avoid stating the obvious:


    I wasn’t wrong.

    Republicans are at it again: This time, in a calculated political attack, they have requested financial records from Planned Parenthood Federation for America just to make sure that it isn’t violating the Hyde Amendment and using funds for abortion:

    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.”

    You may recall during the April budget showdown, President Obama refused to make any cuts to Planned Parenthood. Boehner asked for cuts; Obama said “nope, zero.” (I wrote about the end result of the April budget showdown here.)

    You may also recall that Planned Parenthoods in New Hampshire were forced to stop providing contraceptives to women because the all-Republican organization which awards the contracts required for Planned Parenthood to operate (called the Executive Council), refused to award the requisite contract to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England because Planned Parenthood performs abortions—even though, contrary to John Kyl’s patently false claims which were “not intended to be a factual statement”, abortions comprise a small percentage of services offered by Planned Parenthood, and no tax dollars are use for abortions because the Hyde Amendment prohibits it (I wrote about the New Hampshire Planned Parenthood showdown here).

    There is, however, some good news from the warfront: Just a few weeks ago, the Obama Administration contracted with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England to provide family planning services in New Hampshire, thus ending a crisis faced by low-income women (and men). In short, women of New Hampshire will now be able to obtain contraceptives and cancer screenings:

    Planned Parenthood of Northern New England says the federal government is contracting it for family planning services in New Hampshire that lost funding when the Executive Council decided not to rehire the organization.

    State health officials had been searching for other providers who could offer family planning services — including contraception and cancer screenings — after the all-Republican council voted 3-2 in June against renewing a contract with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

    Planned Parenthood said Tuesday that the award recognizes that it is “an essential and established part of the health care infrastructure in New Hampshire, serving almost 16,000 women, men and teens through health centers in Claremont, Derry, Exeter, Keene, Manchester and West Lebanon.”

    I’m going to belabor this point: the Obama Administration stepped up to protect women’s health in New Hampshire from Republican incursion. Now consider, for a moment, what President Perry or Romney would do.

    It’s a big deal

  44. creolechild says:

    USA, 250,000 Empty Public Properties Should Be Used to Address the Housing Crisis – Thursday 29 September 2011 By: Staff, International Alliance of Inhabitants | Op-Ed

    In response to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) Request for Information (RFI) asking private investors “what to do” with Fannie and Freddie-owned empty homes , a letter was submitted on behalf of the Campaign to Restore National Housing Rights and its allies, which expresses their dismay to find the U.S. government again looking to feed the “speculative fever” of banks and private investors, while millions of U.S. families are homeless or on the brink of losing their homes to evictions and foreclosures.

    These groups stand in unequivocal opposition to the Administration’s market-based “bulk sale” disposition plan for its 250,000 empty homes and are calling on the FHFA, Treasury, and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to issue an entirely new RFI tailored to ensure policies and practices meet basic human rights principles that challenge the conditions that have led to chronic homelessness, serial displacement, and extreme rent burdens.

    The letter in its entirety follows…


  45. rikyrah says:

    September 30, 2011
    To the left: Stop helping the right
    Krugman asks:

    [I]sn’t there something odd about the fact that businesses are making large profits and sitting on a lot of cash but aren’t spending that cash to expand capacity and employment?

    And he answers, Of course not.

    [W]hy should businesses expand when they’re not using the capacity they already have? The bursting of the housing bubble and the overhang of household debt have left consumer spending depressed and many businesses with more capacity than they need and no reason to add more.

    Krugman’s Q&A is performed in the honorable service of ridiculing the right’s economic quackery about taxes and regulation as the cardinal restraints on business expansion and new hiring. Naturally, coming from the quackery factories of such riveting minds as Rick Perry’s and Michele Bachmann’s, this wholesale propaganda has convincingly flooded the shallow intellectual ponds of the GOP base and has more than a few independents under tides of delusional water, too.

    This much we know, and Krugman is right to assail those Republican pols and their aiding and abetting “conservative policy intellectuals” who “are fixated on a view about what’s blocking job creation … but bears no relationship to reality.”

    Yet it’s not just Republican pols and conservative, ahem, intellectuals who are priming the pumps of mass delusion. To wit, I couldn’t begin to count the number of progressive pols and fellow activists I’ve watched on cable shows, pounding the news desks in outrage about corporate America sitting idly on $2 trillion-plus, when it should be prying a crowbar into its overstuffed wallet to hire, hire, hire.

    Hire whom? To do, exactly, what? As Krugman (routinely) acknowledges, “what stands out now is a surge in the number of businesses citing poor sales — which strongly suggests that lack of demand, not fear of government, is holding business back.”

    Corporate America and Western Christendom’s new savior — small business — aren’t charitable, fraternal, or patriotic organizations sweating out the spiritual welfare of our little Cities on the Hill. They are cold-blooded, bottom-line outfits who will hire new employees when and only when consumer demand dictates new hiring.

    Hello? This is Econ 101. Hell, not even that. It’s high-school “Introduction to Business”; it’s middle-school “Primer on Logic,” if there were such a thing, which there should be. And America’s corporate fat cats, sitting high atop their mountainous $2 trillion in cash, are most assuredly laughing their corpulent but logical asses off at outraged progressives who demand they hire in the abject absence of demand.

    The fundamental solution to unremitting economic sluggishness is, of course, government as the demander — spender — of last resort. But that’s another Krugman column. In today’s, I just wish he had at least mildly exposed the macroeconomic preposterousness of progressive outrage at corporate cash-hoarding, which is merely the microeconomic nature of the beast. Until the left rejects misplaced anger and diagnoses the problem properly, it’s only abetting the right’s silliness.

  46. creolechild says:

    Mortgage Industry Tanks, Fraud Continues at Countrywide – By: Michael Hudson, iWatch News

    The mortgage market was struggling in March 2007 when Countrywide promoted Eileen Foster to executive vice president and tapped her to take over the company’s mortgage fraud unit. Home prices were sputtering, borrower defaults were climbing, and the industry leader, Countywide, would soon be forced to ask Bank of America for an infusion of capital to help it keep afloat. The fraud investigation unit was also struggling. The company had laid off several experienced investigators, according to Foster. Those who remained were faced with an ever-growing number of fraud complaints. Foster had roughly two dozen investigators working for her, but only four or five had real investigative chops, Foster says. Many of the rest had been brought over to the unit from clerical jobs, she says.

    The other problem was that the company’s fraud investigation resources were balkanized. In addition to the company-wide fraud unit that Foster had taken over, many of the operating divisions, such as Countrywide’s subprime unit, had their own smaller investigative teams. This didn’t make sense to Foster. It meant the smaller investigative teams reported to divisional sales executives who might be tempted to discourage aggressive fraud investigations in order to protect the flow of loans into the company’s production pipeline.

    One of her first tasks was to oversee a fraud mitigation “reengineering” that would consolidate all fraud investigation within her unit. In June 2007, she presented the plan in a series of meetings with divisional presidents. A few weeks later, she learned that the plan had been shelved. There was no explanation why, she says, only that it wasn’t the right time for a reorganization.
    She didn’t have time to dwell on the setback. In July, her unit had fielded a call from an ex-employee who claimed he’d been fired because he’d objected to fraud at one of Countrywide’s subprime loan offices in the Boston area.

    Foster arranged to have the contractor that handled the Boston branches’ shredding set aside the paperwork they hauled off site and hold it in a secure location. Then a team made up of her investigators and other company representatives headed to Boston to go through the piles of paper.
    After finding evidence of “cut and paste” document forgery, the team did a full sweep of the offices in question. On top of workers’ desks, Foster says, they found an unusual number of Wite-Out dispensers. And inside their desk drawers, she says, they found folders holding blank templates for account statements from various banks and brokerage firms, such as Bank of America and Washington Mutual.


  47. rikyrah says:

    Crimnal InJustice: A Letter To My Son

    Criminal InJustice† is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal InJustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm CST.

    A Letter to My Son
    by princss6

    Here is my testimony – a letter from an African American Mother to her only son. My job – is to protect you from any and all who would seek to harm you, demean you, treat you as less than any other child. Yep, that is my job and let me tell you son, why the world, this society, this state and city makes it so difficult. Bottom-line, black life isn’t worth much. It never has been in this country and I’m concerned that it never will be. So let me offer my apology first to you for knowing that the world I want for you, is not the world you will inherit. Let me apologize to you for pushing you so hard, because I know other children with your same make-up and profile but with different skin color will have life immeasurably easy because they won’t have to, day in and day out, continue to prove, they aren’t stupid, dumb, incompetent, criminal, lascivious and lazy. I’m sorry but I love you and you give my life meaning.

    But let me tell you a history of your life and why it is so important that you understand the constraints you face.

  48. rikyrah says:

    Game On: Wisconsin Gearing Up Recall of Governor Scott Walker
    It’s not a matter of if but rather when Wisconsinites will begin the recall process against Governor Scott Walker. Activists in the group Wisconsin Recall Task Force met Tuesday evening to discuss the most effective way to launch their recall, with focus on the timing. November 5th is the soonest possible date for pulling the trigger on the recall effort.

    They are weighing out the capitalizing on the momentum from the summer recalls versus giving themselves more time to raise money and organize. reported,

    Nan Lambert of River Falls was heavily involved in the failed recall effort against Republican state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf. She says no matter when a recall committee is filed or when the election happens there will be plenty of support for ousting the governor, “The biggest question about a Walker recall is timing, when? When do we pull the trigger? Do we go with the soonest date possible? Do we wait and coordinate with other political election efforts? That’s what I’m here to find out.”

    Nathan Timm is a representative of the Wisconsin Recall Task Force, which is holding eight of these recall planning meetings across the state over the next week and a half. He says they’ve learned from the past and there’ll be a whole new approach to the Walker recall, “Sometimes on the left we have been more impulsive than we have been thoughtful and this is an effort to try to balance that with maybe some more strategic thinking, some more thoughtful elements.”

    It’s no accident that Walker, who ran on creating 250,000 jobs by cutting taxes for businesses in his first term, has just started his big Jobs Show. Yes, he is now pressing legislators to get a jobs bill passed by calling a “special session” focused on job creation. The only problem is that his version of a jobs bill reads more like a corporate give away, and didn’t Wisconsin already just do that? By the way, the results of Walker’s policies so far are the rather alarming loss of 2300 jobs in August.

    Walker is blaming the feds (does this ever get old for the Tea Party? Apparently not – lose your homework? Blame the feds!) for his fiscal failures and claiming that Wisconsin is doing better than the nation, but in truth, Wisconsin fared worse than the nation in August. The nation had zero job growth because Republican governors like Scott Walker killed off public sector jobs, which zeroed out the private sector job growth.

    It’s ironic that Republicans who claim that government can’t create jobs are actually proving that a Democratic President can foster an environment for private sector growth (their claim to fame, as yet still unproven), while Republicans like Scott Walker in Wisconsin can only lose jobs, both private and public. Walker gave those enormous tax cuts to business earlier this year that were supposed to “create jobs”, just like George W Bush did ten years ago.

    We’re still waiting for those jobs, too

    That’s OK; Walker didn’t finish college, so math might not be his thing. He was, however, found guilty of illegal campaigning in college; in fact, the local paper said he was “unfit” for the office he sought — how many of you non-job creators can claim such notoriety? Sadly, his talking points are no reason for hope either: Walker cited the need to give business a feeling of confidence so they might consider spending some of the massive profits they’re hoarding, “new limits for attorneys fees in civil actions, setting a flat fee of $500 to apply for the film production services credit, immunity from liability for drug and device manufacturers and sellers under certain circumstances, and new tax credits for angel investment and for employer provided fringe benefits for mass transit.”

    It’s too bad Walker cut funding for mass transit that workers without cars and the disabled relied upon, but dealing with tort laws and giving drug companies immunity is so obviously going to help create living wage jobs. All you have to do is close your eyes and tap your heels together three times and whisper with conviction, “Job creators need security and confidence and we the working people are not sacrificing enough!”

    Democratic leaders said Walker’s Job Session looked more like a special interest giveaway, but honestly, the Democrats should have fewer standards for truth. It doesn’t matter what it really does, it matters that Walker has given it a super cool title, “Back to Work Wisconsin”. On second thought, I’m not sure if Walker is trying to sound like a scold or that was accidental, but seeing as his campaign is under investigation by the FBI, he might want to rethink the whole moral superiority angle.

    These jobs bills have been sitting around untouched since the last Big Jobs Show in January, because you know, jobs might be what Walker ran on, but he had to get ALEC’s shock and awe legislation “passed” (legally or otherwise) before he could get around to Christmas presents for special interests. He couldn’t hurt the feelings of our new legal citizens, corporations. I’m sure you can understand.

    It doesn’t matter what Walker is really doing with his Jobs Show, it matters that he appears on the surface to be dealing with jobs. He presented himself as a moderate and a fiscal conservative (neither of which is accurate), as soon as he was elected he went to war on rights even the UN says we have, and now that he got what his corporate sponsors asked for, it’s time to dial it back and pretend to make nice, while handing out Secret Santa giveaways to those who might back him if the FBI gets too close. This is nothing new for Walker.

    This game is usually very effective for Republicans, due to a number of factors that don’t bode well for democracy. But I wouldn’t bet against Wisconsinites.

    And if they can’t get the job done, it is not outside the realm of possibility that Walker’s term could be brought to a Palin-esque sudden closure. Aides of Walker were recently granted immunity in the John Doe FBI investigation into the Walker campaign that has already resulted in one felony conviction and the recent impounding of top administration aides’ computers and hard drives.

    Dance, Walker, dance. Put on the big Jobs Show and hope the people forget

  49. creolechild says:

    Study: End Of Life Counseling Does Not Actually End Life | By: Igor Volsky

    In case you were still curious, a new study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine finds that “patients who talk with their physicians about end-of-life care and have an advance directive in their medical record have similar survival rates as patients who do not have these discussions and documents.”

  50. creolechild says:

    On October 6, Let’s Make a National Clamor for Peace – By: Robert Naiman

    On October 7, 2011, the United States will have been at war for ten years. Let’s mark the occasion by making a national clamor for peace so loud that Congress, the president and big media will have to pay attention. October 7 happens to fall on a Friday this year. If you get to choose, Friday is not necessarily the most strategic day to make a national clamor for peace, because 1) Congress will likely not be in session; 2) Friday is, in general, a crummy day to try to get media attention; and 3) even if these two things weren’t true or relevant, Friday is not a great day to try to hold public attention. People’s thoughts are turning to the weekend and then the weekend erases the chalkboard.

    Moreover, the press has to cover the anniversary of the war, but these stories are going to be largely written and produced before Friday. The default media narrative will be: America has lost interest in the wars, because of the economy and unemployment, because “the wars are already winding down,” or some other story that journalists or editors will make up. We have to beat this default media narrative. To beat it, we need to get in front of it. So, let’s mark the occasion on Thursday, October 6. Let’s have a national, “ecumenical” day of action for peace: to end the wars and cut the military budget.


  51. creolechild says:

    Congress Could Pass a Bill That Would Giveaway 50 Million Acres of Publicly-Owned Wildlands to Oil, Gas and Mining Companies – By Michael Brune

    Woody Guthrie put it best when he sang, “This land is your land.” Until, that is, someone steals it from you. And from the redwood forests to the New York island, that’s exactly what could happen if we don’t stop an extreme bill in Congress that would essentially turn over 50 million acres of publicly owned wildlands to oil, gas, and mining companies for drilling, mining, logging, road construction, and other destructive development.

    Wilderness that represents the historical, geological, and ecological diversity of the United States, from iconic red rock canyons in Utah to ancient temperate rainforests in Alaska to scenic mountains in New Mexico, could be lost forever. Here’s a slideshow of just some of the places at risk.

    Introduced by Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, this bill (H.R. 1581) would eliminate protection for wilderness study areas and Forest Service roadless areas — exactly the kind of healthy, undisturbed lands that provide and safeguard clean air and water resources, supply habitat for plants and animals, and offer Americans a place to get outdoors and kayak, camp, fish, or hike. That’s one reason why people in the outdoor recreation industry — which, by the way, supports nearly 6.5 million jobs and contributes $730 billion annually to the U.S. economy — are among the biggest opponents of this public lands giveaway.


  52. creolechild says:

    5 Progressive Candidates To Watch As the 2012 Campaign Heats Up – By Sarah Jaffe

    Watching the news lately, you’d think that Election 2012 was only between Republican candidates for president, each trying to outflank the next to his or her right. The Republican primaries may be getting lots of attention, but several progressive candidates around the country are gearing up for races that could swing the Congress and put some control back in the hands of progressives.

    It can be easy to despair when audiences at GOP debates cheer executions and boo gay soldiers, but the fight is far from over. With Barack Obama striking a new, more populist tone as election season nears, we should all remember that a lot can happen between now and next November. And attention early on for the good candidates can help ensure their success in primaries and general election campaigns alike.

    While Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul eat up time on cable news with their latest out-there soundbite, we thought we’d bring you five progressive candidates to keep an eye on. Their message is resonating with people in their districts, and these candidates are ready to steal some of the spotlight back from the ultra-right with policies that would actually improve the lives of working people.


    Read more:

  53. Ametia says:

    Bank of America to add $5 monthly debit card fee as era of low-cost banking ebbs
    By Ylan Q. Mui, Bank of America will become the first major bank to charge customers across the country a monthly fee to shop with their debit cards, part of a wave of changes that are eroding the low-cost model of banking that consumers have long enjoyed.

    The $5 fee will debut next year for the bank’s basic checking accounts. It will apply only to debit card purchases and not to ATM withdrawals, online bill pay or mobile phone transfers. A spokeswoman said the bank is “adjusting our pricing to reflect today’s economics.”

  54. Ametia says:

    Obama Charts a New Route to Re-election
    Published: September 29, 2011

    WASHINGTON — With his support among blue-collar white voters far weaker than among white-collar independents, President Obama is charting an alternative course to re-election should he be unable to win Ohio and other industrial states traditionally essential to Democratic presidential victories.
    Without conceding ground anywhere, Mr. Obama is fighting hard for Southern and Rocky Mountain states he won in 2008, and some he did not, in calculating how to assemble the necessary 270 electoral votes. He is seeking to prove that those victories on formerly Republican turf were not flukes but the start of a trend that will make Democrats competitive there for years.

    “There are a lot of ways for us to get to 270, and it’s not just the traditional map,” said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s chief strategist. “That’s why we’re laying the groundwork across the country to compete on the widest possible playing field next year.”

    While Mr. Obama’s approval ratings have slid across the board as unemployment remains high, what buoys Democrats are the changing demographics of formerly Republican states like Colorado, where Democrats won a close Senate race in 2010, as well as Virginia and North Carolina.

  55. Ametia says:

    Dems want probe of Justice Thomas as health law ruling looms
    By Julian Pecquet – 09/29/11 05:22 PM ET

    Twenty House Democrats are demanding a judicial ethics investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas just as the high court is poised to issue a ruling on the healthcare law that could make or break President Obama’s reelection.

    The lawmakers on Thursday asked the U.S. Judicial Conference to formally request that the Department of Justice look into Thomas’s failure to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars his wife has received from groups that want the healthcare law repealed. Their letter comes after 75 House Democrats in February asked Thomas to recuse himself from the case following reports that he’d failed to report his wife Virginia’s income since he joined the bench in 1991.

    “Due to the simplicity of the disclosure requirements, along with Justice Thomas’s high level of legal training and experience, it is reasonable to infer that his failure to disclose his wife’s income for two decades was willful, and the Judicial Conference has a non-discretionary duty to refer this case to the Department of Justice,”
    the Democrats wrote in the letter, which was spearheaded by Rep. Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee.

    The letter comes just a day after the Obama administration and 26 states challenging the Democrats’ healthcare reform law asked the Supreme Court to take up the case, all but assuring that the high court will render a decision by next summer.

  56. Ametia says:

    Bank of America to charge $5 monthly debit card fee

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Get ready for a new wave of bank fees. Bank of America will begin charging a $5 monthly fee at the beginning of next year for customers who make debit card purchases.
    Whether you use your card for one purchase a month or 20, you will pay $5 per month starting in 2012. It doesn’t matter if you select “debit” or “credit” at the point of sale.
    If you don’t use your card at all, you won’t be assessed a fee, and you can still use ATMs as much as you want without getting hit with the new charge. Plus, customers with certain premium accounts will be exempt from the charge.

    Read more:… /

  57. Ametia says:

    Progressive Racism, Careerism and Delusion
    Posted on 09/29/2011 at 6:00 pm
    by Bob Cesca

    Melissa Harris-Perry wrote a fantastic column in The Nation this week in which she makes a perfectly rational argument for the existence of “white progressive racism.” Here’s the quote of the week:

    President Obama has experienced a swift and steep decline in support among white Americans—from 61 percent in 2009 to 33 percent now. I believe much of that decline can be attributed to their disappointment that choosing a black man for president did not prove to be salvific for them or the nation.

    (I encourage you to bookmark HumanityCritic’s TwitLonger link as index for the debate that ensued.)

    There’s so much to say about this topic, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Personally, I’ve been baffled by the disconnect between the president’s record and the obstructions in his path including conservadems and the generally slow legislative process, and how a certain faction of progressives fail to recognize these realities along with the obvious liberalism of many of the goals he’s sought and achieved.

    The only explanations I can come up with are: 1) racism, 2) careerism and 3) delusion.

    The irrationality and intellectual dishonesty of this faction is what’s leading me to draw these conclusions.

    Why have they revised recent history? In his response to Harris-Perry’s article, John Aravosis wrote that the president watered down the stimulus in order to appease the Republicans. Not entirely true. Same goes for healthcare. The president had to overcome conservadem opposition as well as Republican opposition. Kent Conrad, Evan Bayh, Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Max Baucus, Blanche Lincoln and the rest were just as obstructionist as the Republicans. Yes, the stimulus wasn’t big enough, but it was still historically gigantic, and it contained the largest middle class tax cut in history. This is hardly a betrayal. It’s an achievement in a difficult landscape. Aravosis also writes that progressives supported the Obama campaign. Oh really? I recall progressives supporting the Edwards campaign (smart!) and then becoming deeply divided between Clinton and Obama, then landing on ambivalence towards the Obama campaign once he became the presumptive nominee. Read Eric Boehlert’s book “Bloggers on the Bus” for some actual history, John. David Sirota, meanwhile, responding to Harris-Perry, accused the president of military “adverturism” in Libya — conflating Libya with Iraq and Afghanistan — even though we simply participated in a NATO mission and never invaded or occupied Libya. This is purely dishonest of Sirota (shocker) for the sake of rousing progressive anger and continuing the thoroughly disproved “just like Bush” meme.

  58. Ametia says:

    Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 09/30/2011
    Postal Service launches new TV ad campaign
    By Ed O’Keefe

    On the verge of reporting historic losses, the U.S. Postal Service is launching a new TV advertising campaign designed to slow the migration away from snail mail.

    Americans watching college football games and news broadcasts in the next week may notice new ads from USPS — long known for its campy messages promoting Priority Mail shipping services. Now, the “If it fits, it ships” campaign will share airtime with two 30-second spots designed to remind customers that paper mail, unlike e-mail, can’t be hacked, and that letter carriers are still providing reliable and safe deliveries to doorsteps.

    “A refrigerator has never been hacked,” an announcer says in the first message as an actress pins a paper bill to her fridge. (Watch the ads in the video clips above.)

    In the other ad, a smiling letter carrier is seen walking her route while an announcer reminds viewers that hand-delivered messages ensure that “important letters and information don’t get lost in thin air, or disappear with a click.”

  59. Ametia says:

    Census count finds decreasing white population in 15 states

    By Carol Morello, Published: September 29
    Non-Hispanic whites are a dwindling share of the U.S. population, with their numbers dropping in the Northeast and Midwest and growing only modestly in the South and West, the Census Bureau said Thursday.

    Whites declined in 15 states, almost all in the industrial and farming states from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania, and from Kansas to Ohio. They also declined in California and three Southern states, including Maryland.

    A Census Bureau analysis of the 2010 count showed that the number of non-Hispanic whites rose over the decade from 194.5 million to 197 million, but the 1.2 percent growth rate fell far short of the national increase of 9.7 percent. Non-Hispanic whites are now 64 percent of the population, down from 69 percent a decade ago.

    The census also reported that the black population grew by 12 percent. African Americans now make up almost 13 percent of the population, a small increase over the decade. More than half, 57 percent, live in the South, up from 55 percent a decade ago. And six out of 10 blacks live in 10 states, including Virginia and Maryland.

    The census analysis of the nation’s white and black population underscores the transformative nature of growth in the 21st century. The number of Hispanics and Asians is soaring, the number of blacks is growing slowly and whites are almost at a standstill.

    Hispanics are an ethnic group of people who can be of any race. Most Hispanics identified themselves as white. The number of whites who indicated for the census that they are Hispanic increased by 56 percent.

    Whites who are not Hispanic are getting older on average, and have low birthrates that, when coupled with the high birthrates of Hispanics and Asians, make whites a smaller share of the population with every census count.

  60. Ametia says:

    U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was linked to al Qaeda in Yemen, has been killed, says the nation’s Defense Ministry.
    Al-Awlaki was believed to be hiding in Yemen. Western intelligence officials believe Al-Awlaki is a senior leader of al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, which claimed responsibility for the attempt to ship explosives into the United States via cargo planes late last year.
    U.S. officials say Al-Awlaki helped recruit Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a transatlantic flight as it landed in Detroit, Michigan, on December 25, 2009. The militant cleric is also said to have exchanged e-mails with accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hassan.

  61. Ametia says:

    good gawd, got cable back and nothing’s changed… Moaning Joke’s mika is whinning about Eugene Robinson’s Op-ed on Christie.

    Chris Christie’s big problem

    By Eugene Robinson, Whether or not he lets himself be persuaded to run for president, Chris Christie needs to find some way to lose weight. Like everyone else, elected officials perform best when they are in optimal health. Christie obviously is not.

    You could argue that this is none of my business, but I disagree. Christie’s problem with weight ceased being a private matter when he stepped into the public arena — and it’s not something you can fail to notice. Obesity is a national epidemic whose costs are measured not just in dollars and cents but also in lives. Christie’s weight is as legitimate an issue as the smoking habit that President Obama says he has finally kicked.

    On rare occasions, Christie speaks candidly about his weight. “I’m really struggling, been struggling for a long time with it,” he told CNN’s Piers Morgan in June. “And I know that it would be better for my kids if I got it more under control, and so I do feel a sense of guilt at times about that.”

    Six weeks later, the New Jersey governor was briefly hospitalized for asthma — a condition that he has had for most of his life. Researchers say that many respiratory problems, including asthma, are worsened by obesity.

    As he left the hospital, Christie acknowledged the connection. He described himself as “relatively healthy by all objective indicators,” but added that “if I weighed less, I’d be healthier.”

  62. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone! :-)

Leave a Reply