Serendipity SOUL | Saturday Open Thread

Happy Saturday, Everybody!  This week 3 Chics is featuring Gladys Knight & The Pips.

Wiki:  Gladys Knight & The Pips were an R&B/soul family musical act from Atlanta, Georgia, active from 1953 to 1989. The group was best known for their string of hit singles on Motown’s “Soul” record label and Buddah Records from 1967 to 1975, including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (1967) and “Midnight Train to Georgia” (1973). The longest-lived incarnation of the act featured Gladys Knight on lead vocals, with The Pips, who included her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight and their cousins Edward Patten and William Guest, as backup singers.

Forming the Pips

Gladys Knight was born May 28, 1944 in Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of seven in 1952, she won Ted Mack‘s Original Amateur Hour television show contest. The following year, she, her brother Bubba, sister Brenda, and their cousins William and Eleanor Guest started a singing group called “The Pips” (named after another cousin, James “Pip” Woods). The Pips began to perform and tour, eventually replacing Brenda Knight and Eleanor Guest with cousins Langston George and Edward Patten in 1959.

The Pips scored their first hit in 1961 with “Every Beat of My Heart“, a cover of a Hank Ballard & The Midnighters song written by Johnny Otis. The group had recorded the song for a friend in Atlanta, who promptly sold the master to Vee-Jay Records and cut the group out of the record’s profits. The Pips recorded a second version of “Every Beat” with Bobby Robinson as the producer, and the song became a #1 R&B and #6 pop hit. Shortly afterwards, Langston George left the group, and the remaining members continued as a quartet, now billed as Gladys Knight & the Pips. Typically, most of the act’s recordings featured Knight’s contralto on lead vocals and the three male members of the group, usually referred to as “The Pips” by themselves, providing characteristic background vocals.

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44 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Saturday Open Thread

  1. Hiya guys! Sup? I love the music but the sound on this computer sucks! :(

  2. creolechild says:

    Here’s Me’Shell Ndegeocello singing, Dreadlocks.

  3. Ametia says:

    Live from the HRC National Dinner

  4. creolechild says:

    Here’s Marvin Gaye singing Come Get To This/Distant Lover Solo.

  5. creolechild says:

    Here’s Dante Lewis, performing Never Too Much.

  6. creolechild says:

    Here’s Dianne Reeves, singing Come In.

  7. creolechild says:

    WUH? A little dramatic, imho, but it’s nice that he supports what the President is attempting to do. Thank you, Addicting Info!

    Can Toby Keith Save The Democratic Party? – September 24, 2011 By: Marion

    Toby Keith, Democrat, says:- “I don’t know, but I expect the wealthy to write a check ’cause it’s as bad as it’s ever been. It would be unpatriotic not to try to save the country. I’m sure people will bitch about it, but if it meant we get to operate in this country and live here another day, then so be it.

    One way or another, before it’s over they’re gonna have to come and take big money from the earners and big corporations to save the country. I’m sure that everybody that has a patriotic cell in their system will say, ‘If it’s gotta be done, it’s gotta be done.’ I’d rather live here and not have as much money than live anywhere else and have twice as much.”

    Yes, that’s right, that Toby Keith. In the morass surrounding 9/11 and all the kerfuffle about flag pins and stepping up to the plate and patriotism, faux and otherwise, it’s easy to forget that Keith is a Democrat. He supported Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq (like a lot of other Democrats serving in public office … like Hillary Clinton.) He voted for Bush in 2004. But the boy came home in 2008. The prodigal son returned.


  8. creolechild says:

    On Day Obama Gets Awlaki, Fox And Friends Says He’s Too Weak On Terror – By Alex Seitz-Wald on Oct 1, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Despite the fact that the Obama administration succeeded in killing one of the most dangerous and wanted men on the planet, conservatives have been reluctant to give him credit. Fox and Friends host Gretchen Carlson used the moment to both suggest that the president is too soft on terror and to make an implicit plug for the Bush administration’s use of torture:

    CARLSON: Let me ask you this, would you be in the camp of having rather captured him…to try to get more information? But then I brought up the fact that under this administration it seems that we don’t prosecute or ask the same questions that we might have under the Bush administration, so would we get anything out of him anyway if we captured him?

    One has to wonder if Fox would treat the killing of a high level terrorist with as much skepticism if it had occurred under a Republican president. As ABC News’ Jake Tapper noted, “The list of senior terrorists killed during the Obama presidency is fairly extensive.” He goes on to detail nearly two dozen names, including, of course Bin Laden. But as NBC notes, “no president” in over 20 years “has had more foreign-policy successes happen under his watch than President Obama.” Yet, he’s “getting almost no credit.”

    The refusal to credit Obama after Awlaki is a replay of what happened after the U.S. killed Osama Bin Laden — regardless of the facts, conservatives know progress at bad at keeping America safe.

  9. creolechild says:

    Judge Rules Florida Prison Privatization Unconstitutional | By Alex Seitz-Wald on Oct 1, 2011 at 9:00 am

    A Tallahassee, Florida circuit court judge sided with a union today in ruling that a prison privatization scheme lawmakers included in the state budget violates Florida’s constitution. The Florida Police Benevolent Association, which represents correctional workers in the state, filed a lawsuit saying the method in the which lawmakers planned to privatize 29 prisons in southern Florida violated state law, arguing that it should have been done via a separate law, not through the budget. Tallahassee Judge Jackie Fulford agreed, adding that lawmakers rushed the process:

    “From the record, it appears that the rush to meet the deadlines in the proviso has resulted in many shortcomings in the evaluation of whether privatization is in the best public interest as it relates to cost savings and effective service,” Fulford wrote.

    The plan was is one of the largest prison privatization schemes in the country and would have benefited campaign donors to Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). Even some Republicans have spoken out against it.

  10. creolechild says:

    In Response To A String Of Sexual Assaults, New York Police Tell Women To Cover Up Instead Of Catching The Attacker – By Marie Diamond on Sep 30, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    In response to a string of at least 10 unsolved sexual assaults in Brooklyn, New York police are reportedly stopping women on the street who are wearing clothing they say is revealing and advising them to cover up if they don’t want to be raped. The Wall Street Journal reports on the disturbing message police officers are allegedly spreading:

    Lauren, a South Slope resident, was walking home three blocks from the gym on Monday when she was stopped. The 25-year-old, who did not want her last name to be used, was wearing shorts and a T-shirt when she claims a police officer asked if she would stop and talk to him. He also stopped two other women wearing dresses. […]

    “He pointed at my outfit and said, ‘Don’t you think your shorts are a little short?‘” she recalled. “He pointed at their dresses and said they were showing a lot of skin.”

    He said that such clothing could make the suspect think he had “easy access,” said Lauren. She said the officer explained that “you’re exactly the kind of girl this guy is targeting.”

    The New York City Police Department did not deny that officers were stopping women to talk to them about their clothing, but reasoned, “They are simply pointing out that as part of the pattern involving one or more men that the assailant(s) have targeted women wearing skirts.” But however well-intentioned, focusing on women’s choices — rather than the attackers’ — is just another way of blaming potential victims. It’s wrong to suggest that women are responsible for the actions of the attacker, or can somehow control whether they are targeted or raped.


  11. creolechild says:

    Huge Crowd Of 5,000 Now At Occupy Wall Street Protests As First Wave Of Union Support Arrives –
    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011, 4:24 pm by GottaLaff

    You’ll have to go here for the photos: Huge Crowd Of 5,000 Now At Occupy Wall Street Protests As First Wave Of Union Support Arrives (h/t: Leftpalm) Now, NYPD police scanners are estimating a crowd up to 5,000 are occupying liberty square in a scene that is now starting to look more like Egypt’s Tahrir square. In fact the protests have become so large that Fox News has set up a live stream covering the protests.

    My post about union support here. Meantime, I’m currently accepting videos, UNDER 30 seconds, for my next Blunt webisode. Just talk into a cell cam or a video cam, telling me what Occupy Wall Street means to you and/or the country. If you’re not familiar with my Blunt videos, go here. I’ve heard from some of my contacts who are at the protest in NYC, and they’ll be contributing to this one. I’m giving anyone who wants one an outlet to speak about this movement. Feel free to send your SHORT video file to BLUNT at ThePoliticalCarnival dot NET.

  12. creolechild says:

    Judge Receives Over 17 Year Sentence For Role In ‘Cash For Kids’ Private Prisons Scandal – By Ian Millhiser on Sep 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Former Pennsylvania state judge Michael Conahan was sentenced last Friday to 210 months in prison for his involvement in a scandal to enrich private prison corporations by sentencing juvenile pranksters and other extremely minor offenders to be incarcerated in a corporate-run facility:

    Michael Conahan, a former jurist in Luzerne County, was sentenced on Friday to 210 months in custody by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik II. Conahan was also ordered to pay $874,000 in restitution. […] As Main Justice reported in August, Ciavarella, former president judge of the Court of Common Pleas and former judge of the Juvenile Court for Luzerne County, was sentenced to 28 years in prison and ordered to make restitution of $965,930. […]

    Conahan’s role in the “cash for kids” scheme was to order the closing of a county-run detention center, clearing the way for Ciavarella, once known as a strict “law and order” judge, to send young offenders to private facilities. This arrangement worked out well for Ciavarella and Conahan, as well as the builder of the facilities and a developer, who pleaded guilty to lesser charges. The arrangement didn’t work out so well for the young offenders, some of them sent away for offenses that were little more than pranks and would have merited probation, or perhaps just scoldings, if the judges had tried to live up to their oaths.


    Read more:

  13. creolechild says:

    Here’s a link which provides live stream video coverage of a mass demonstration that’s being held on the Brooklyn Bridge:

    Global Revolution brings you live stream video coverage from independent journalists on the ground at nonviolent protests around the world. The team includes members of Mobile Broadcast News, Glassbead Collective, Twin Cities Indymedia and the ninjas that brought you Terrorizing Dissent and Democracy 101 documentaries. Currently broadcasting from #OccupyWallStreet protests in NYC that began on Saturday, Sept 17, 2011. Please donate to equip our live video team: (less)

  14. creolechild says:

    As Movement Grows, Thousands In Boston Protest Against Bank Of America’s Greed – By Zaid Jilani on Oct 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    As ThinkProgress has been reporting, hundreds of people have encamped at Wall Street in the financial district of New York City to protest the greed of the nation’s biggest banks.

    Now, the movement growing in New York appears to be spreading, as more than 3,000 people marched on Bank of America in Boston yesterday and more than two dozen people were arrested during a sit-in protesting the big bank’s foreclosure policies. The protests were organized by a coalition calling itself the New Bottom Line. Meanwhile, an occupation movement titled “Occupy Boston,” which is allied with the protesters in New York, has encamped itself for a long-term protest against the financial sector. Watch video of the demonstrations and resulting arrests:

    [Click on link to view video.]

    The occupation of Wall Street appear to be organically spreading, as similar movements are popping up across the nation, in locations as varied as Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

  15. creolechild says:

    President Obama to address 3,000 gay activists – Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011, 12:22 pm By: GottaLaff

    Imagine if any Republican were president– any of the current contenders or those pretending to be considering a run– and how they would approach marriage equality. That’s right, there would be none. Some would do everything in their power to crush the rights of LGBT Americans, reverse Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and discriminate against their fellow citizens based on who those people love. Then imagine who could win the White House if you don’t vote.

    Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama will deliver the keynote address Saturday to a gathering of gay and lesbian activists … [H]e last headlined the annual National Dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, in 2009 […] Organizers of Saturday’s event said Obama’s record on gay rights issues is still strong, despite the lack of endorsement for marriage equality. “This president has accomplished more in the last two years on behalf of LGBT Americans than was accomplished in the last 40 years,” HRC Vice President Fred Sainz said. “From the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to dozens of policy directives, this president has made the lives of countless millions better and the Human Rights Campaign has endorsed the president’s reelection.”

    3,000 gay activists are expected in downtown Washington, and the speech will be streamed live online.
    President Obama may be frustrating some gay rights supporters over his “evolving” views, but the GOP’s “devolving” views are simply not an option.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Meet The 4 Democratic Senators Who Are Refusing To Raise Taxes On The Rich
    October 1, 2011
    By Jason Easley

    Meet the four Democratic Senators who are so worried about their own reelection campaigns that they are refusing to raise taxes on the wealthy.

    Yesterday, I wrote an article based on Sen. Dick Durbin telling a local Chicago radio station that some Democrats in the Senate are refusing to raise taxes on the wealthy in an election year. At the time of publication, I didn’t have the names of the Democrats who won’t raise taxes on the rich, but I do now.

    Lots of commenters wanted the names and contact information for the Un-Fantastic Four, so here they are.

    1). Sen. Bob Casey -Email Twitter

    2). Sen. Mary Landrieu- Email

    3). Sen. Kay Hagan- Email Twitter

    4). Sen. Joe Manchin- Email Twitter

    Some readers suggested that we should withhold criticism of the four senators until we hear what their motivation is, but it is clear that their motivation is reelection in 2012. Sen. Kay Hagan was wishy-washy about the number of jobs the bill could create, “You know, I don’t think anybody has a crystal ball that we can tell you the exact number. But when you look at our state, we have a lot of veterans in our state. His plan really targets veterans.”

    Sen. Casey wants the bill broken into parts, so that can avoid voting to raise taxes “I’m afraid if we tried to pass one big bill, I think there’s a lot of skepticism about big pieces of legislation with all kinds of different component parts. We should break this up… I believe it would be much more likely if we break it up. Why not have a series of votes on job creation strategies – five votes, 10 votes, I don’t care if it’s 25 votes. We should stay here as long as it takes to vote over and over on the most important issue that faces the American people and that’s jobs.”

    Sen. Manchin claimed that the American Jobs Act, which is more tax cuts than spending, spends too much money, “I have serious questions about the level of spending that President Obama proposed,” and Sen. Landrieu wants to keep the subsidies to the oil companies in place, “I have said for months that I am not supporting a repeal of tax cuts for the oil industry unless there are other industries that contribute.”

    The reasons given by the senators are totally bogus. Casey claimed that Americans are skeptical of big legislation and big bills won’t pass. What he is really afraid of is being labeled a tax increasing Democrat. When Sen. Casey talks about the danger of big bills, he is flashing back to the tea party protests during the healthcare reform town halls. Casey is trying to be cautious and not rock the boat, but his caution makes no sense because he is a popular senator who is likely to win reelection even if he supports the bill.

    Hagan is worried that Obama won’t do well in North Carolina, so her split of the American Jobs Act is part of an attempt to save her own skin in 2012. Manchin is an absolute lock to win reelection, but West Virginia has gone Red over the last 15 years. Manchin’s opposition is more about preserving his own political survival, not jobs. Landrieu doesn’t want to do anything that might hurt the oil industry that her red state is dependent before she has to run for reelection.

    As you can see, these Democrats are willing to kill 1.9 million jobs to preserve their reelection campaigns. They are putting themselves ahead of their constituents. They are saying reelect us then we will create jobs, but by trying to appease the right, three of these four senators could lose the support of the very people who elected them in the first place.

    It is a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face strategy. By trying to avoid the wrath of the right, they are enraging the left. The electorate is angry, and demanding political courage. Just once it would be nice to see Democratic senators do what’s right for the nation instead of thinking only of themselves.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Boehner Pushes For Energy Department Loan For Home District Company Amidst Solyndra Scandal

    With the solar energy company Solyndra going belly up, some Republicans have started to question the Energy Department’s entire loan program. Not House Speaker John Boehner (R), who on Friday called for the Obama administration to send some of that federal cash back to a company in his Ohio district.

    Boehner’s office wants the Energy Department to approve USEC, Inc.’s application for a loan to construct a uranium enrichment plant for the American Centrifuge Project. They say that USEC’s proposal is solid and would “bring thousands of good-paying, long-term jobs,” which they said stood “in stark contrast to the ‘stimulus’-centric Solyndra saga.”

    “Hundreds of Southern Ohio workers stand to lose their jobs if the Obama Administration reneges on the president’s promise to support an energy project in the small town of Piketon, OH,” Boehner aide Michael Ricci wrote in a blog post.

    “Since the president made his promise, USEC has endured review after review and taken the necessary steps to conserve cash and protect jobs, but the Department of Energy has yet to act,” Ricci said. “This is despite the fact that the company has gone the extra mile to secure additional private investment to reduce taxpayer exposure. Now the Piketon project is at risk of being shut down, putting hundreds of jobs in limbo.”

    “This all comes in the midst of the Solyndra controversy that has raised serious questions about the Obama Administration’s oversight of taxpayer dollars,” Ricci wrote. “In that case, it was the government that seemingly went the extra mile, not the company.

    “That’s unfortunate, because in stark contrast to the ‘stimulus’-centric Solyndra saga, the Piketon project offers the chance to bring thousands of good-paying, long-term jobs to an area suffering from the Buckeye State’s highest jobless rate,” Ricci continued.

    “The Obama Administration still has time to do the right thing, but not much,” he writes. “Without action soon, USEC announced today, it has no choice but to plan on hundreds of layoffs, suspend contracts, and move to shut down the project. That doesn’t have to happen. All Southern Ohioans are asking is for the president to keep his word.”

  18. rikyrah says:

    October 01, 2011 9:25 AM
    When the biggest issue goes overlooked

    By Steve Benen

    If Americans consider the state of the economy the most pressing issue — and polls are clearly unanimous on this point — it’s quite likely the 2012 elections will be decided in part on developments in Europe.

    This is an unsettling, and highly unusual, dynamic. But as Ezra Klein noted the other day, “For a country used to being in the driver’s seat, America is in a weird place right now. Over the next year, and perhaps over the next few years, the most important question for our economy, and thus the most important question for our political system and our upcoming elections, is what happens in Europe over the coming days and weeks.”

    There’s no great mystery here. If there are three main powerhouses in the global economy — the United States, Europe, and East Asia — and a Eurozone financial crisis threatens to crash one of the three, the consequences everywhere would be severe. If European leaders somehow find a way to adequately address their crisis, a stronger and more sustained global recovery is more likely.

    Given all of this, as much as we want to believe the state of our economy is in our hands, the “Euromess” will have a significant impact on what happens here in the near future — arguably more than any other economic issue.

    So why is this the invisible issue in the Republican presidential race?

    It could easily force the United States back into recession and become the issue on which the 2012 elections turn. But the national political press has all but ignored it, and none of the GOP’s Presidential hopefuls have been asked about it in any of their endless series of debates.

    The European monetary union is on the verge of collapse. In the wake of 2008’s global financial crisis, several countries on the Euro have amassed crushing debt burdens and seen their economies stall or buckle. And now the severity of their problems, combined with political paralysis in the union’s more stable countries, threatens to bring the whole system down.

    If that happens — and many analysts say it’s a question of when, not if — it will plunge all of Europe into financial crisis. But that will have far reaching consequences around the globe, including in the United States, and it hasn’t widely sunk in that it could break our meager recovery and weigh heavily on Presidential politics next year.

    I checked the transcripts of the debates since Perry got in the race, and there’s been literally no discussion of the crisis in Europe. As near as I can tell, none of the candidates have said much of anything on the subject, regardless of its importance.

    It’s probably not fair to blame the GOP candidates for this, at least not entirely. They’re not talking about the issue, but no one’s asking them to talk about it, either.

    And why is it that the most pressing global issue, the one crisis that will help dictate the strength of our economy for quite a while, is entirely absent from the campaign? From the media’s perspective, I suspect it has something to do with how complicated the European crisis is. Campaign reporters tend to prefer stories that are easier to digest — “Romney flip-flops a lot” is easy to understand; the size and scope of the European bailout fund is not.

    From the Republican candidates’ perspective, not only is this a complicated crisis they don’t understand, but it’s also a crisis that shifts the blame in unhelpful ways — they want to hold President Obama responsible for the economy, not a Eurozone financial mess that Obama isn’t in a position to fix.

    Still, some Q&A on this front seems overdue. News organizations could just stick to the basics when asking the candidates: (1) Are you satisfied with the plan European leaders are pursuing, and if not, why not? (2) What would you do to handle the crisis if you were in office?

  19. rikyrah says:

    Political Animal
    October 01, 2011 10:05 AM
    The regulations the GOP has in mind

    By Steve Benen

    When it comes to the debate over the economy, the Republican message has become extremely narrow. With President Obama already having cut taxes more than Bush/Cheney did, and the deal last December keeping Bush-era rates in place for everyone, it’s tougher for the right to blame taxes — so they’re sticking to blaming “regulations.”

    Part of the problem, of course, is that the conservative argument has no meaningful foundation in reality. Paul Krugman’s column yesterday is well worth reading.

    The starting point for many claims that antibusiness policies are hurting the economy is the assertion that the sluggishness of the economy’s recovery from recession is unprecedented. But, as a new paper by Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute documents at length, this is just not true. Extended periods of “jobless recovery” after recessions have been the rule for the past two decades. Indeed, private-sector job growth since the 2007-2009 recession has been better than it was after the 2001 recession. […]

    The truth is that we’re in this mess because we had too little regulation, not too much. And now one of our two major parties is determined to double down on the mistakes that caused the disaster.

    The other part, though, is considering what Republicans mean, specifically, when they target regulations. There are all kinds of safeguards, rules, and protections that might fall under the “regulatory” umbrella. GOP officials may find it easy to paint with a broad brush, but some of the measures Republicans would like to scrap are well worth keeping around.

    Take the newest Republican budget plan, for example.

    In addition to blocking President Obama’s health care law and slashing funding for job training, the budget plan presented by House Republicans for health and labor programs this week would scuttle several worker safety protections put forth by the Department of Labor.

    Among other anti-regulatory measures, the budget would block the department from moving forward with its Injury and Illness Prevention Program, which would require employers to develop written plans to address workplace hazards and reduce worker injuries. Under the Republican plan, no Labor Department funding could be devoted toward the program.

    The budget also takes aim at an obscure but notable Labor Department rule intended to reduce the death and maiming of construction workers who labor on rooftops. The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration had planned to ramp up the enforcement of harness rules for roofers working on residential construction sites, but the Republican plan forbids the agency from doing so, as noted by the public-health blog The Pump Handle.

    Another OSHA rule gutted by the bill relates to repetitive-motion injuries. The agency has been developing a rule that will require employers to check a box on agency forms in cases where workers have developed musculoskeletal disorders. Although the rule costs practically nothing and goes primarily toward data collection, the Republican budget forbids it from moving forward.

    Obviously this is a reminder of Republicans opposing worker rights and protections — that’s hardly new — but it’s also a reminder about the nonsensical underpinnings of the GOP’s economic agenda.

    What, in Republican lawmakers’ eyes, will boost the economy? Workplaces in which Americans are more likely to be injured. That’s the plan.

  20. rikyrah says:

    October 01, 2011 10:35 AM
    The latest in a series of ‘death hugs’

    By Steve Benen

    Though it hasn’t played a significant role in the Republican presidential race, at least not yet, Mitt Romney still has a health care mandate to deal with. More so than any of his rivals, the former governor sees no problem with the government requiring the public to purchase health insurance.

    Sean Hannity asked Romney about this the other day, and Romney told the truth: the individual mandate “was seen as a conservative idea.”

    And on this, he’s right. As I may have mentioned once or twice, the health care mandate the right now sees as a freedom-killing abuse by a tyrannical government was, in fact, a Republican idea. Nixon embraced it in the 1970s, and George H.W. Bush supported the idea in the 1980s. When Dole endorsed the mandate in 1994, it was in keeping with the party’s prevailing attitudes at the time. Romney embraced the mandate as governor and it was largely ignored during the ‘08 campaign, since it was in keeping with the GOP mainstream.

    In recent years, the mandate has also been embraced by the likes of John McCain, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Bob Bennett, Tommy Thompson, Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, John Thune, and Scott Brown, among many others. Indeed, several of them not only endorsed the policy, they literally co-sponsored legislation that included a mandate.

    But Romney’s the one running for president, and he’s the one sticking to the mandate even after his party has moved away from the idea. And this, apparently, has inspired the White House to give Romney a series of “death hugs,” including this one on Thursday, when Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about the Supreme Court considering the Affordable Care Act.

    “I don’t think there was any expectation other than that eventually this would require a legal review. I think that’s been the case of major domestic legislation of all kinds, including Social Security and Medicare. […]

    “A former governor of Massachusetts just said the other day, ‘The idea for a health care plan in Massachusetts was not mine alone. The Heritage Foundation, a great conservative think tank, helped on that. I’m told that Newt Gingrich, one of the very first people who came up with the idea of an individual mandate, did that years and years ago. It was seen as a conservative idea to say, you know what, people have a responsibility for caring for themselves if they can. We’ll help people who can’t care for themselves, but if you can care for yourself, you’ve got to take care of yourself and pay your own bills.’

    “That’s the former governor of Massachusetts describing the individual mandate and why it’s smart policy, and we certainly agree.”

    The White House sure does seem to enjoy emphasizing the area of agreement between President Obama and Mitt Romney on health care. Several members of the team, including the president himself, have been only too pleased to declare how much they agree with Romney on health care and press the notion that the so-called “Romneycare” plan served as a blueprint for the Affordable Care Act. It not only helps give the Obama line some bipartisan cover, but it also helps undermine a leading 2012 rival.

    Romney’s GOP rivals are slowly recognizing this as an important issue. Campaigning in Georgia yesterday, Rick Perry said, “I knew when I got into this race I would have my hands full fighting President Obama’s big government agenda. I just didn’t think it would be in the Republican primary.”

    It’s only a matter of time before there’s an ad showing Obama, Carney, Axelrod, and Plouffe, all praising Romney on health care.

  21. rikyrah says:

    October 01, 2011 11:05 AM A matter of trust

    By Steve Benen
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    CNN published a fairly broad series of poll results this week, but perhaps the most notable was the fact that Americans’ trust in the federal government has dropped to an all-time low.

    A CNN/ORC International Poll released Wednesday morning indicates that only 15 percent of Americans say they trust the government in Washington to do what’s right just about always or most of the time. Last September that figure was at 25 percent. Seventy-seven percent of people questioned say they trust the federal government only some of the time, and an additional eight percent volunteer that they never trust the government to do what’s right.

    In the past five years the number who say they trust the government “always” or “most of the time” was usually in the low-to-mid 20’s. Before the recession hit that number was usually in the low-to-mid 30’s, and slightly more than a decade ago, it was in the high 30’s or occasionally just over 40 percent.

    At a certain level, a healthy mistrust of the government is built into the American experiment, but before Watergate, most Americans trusted the government to do the right thing most, if not all, of the time.

    And now we’re down to 15%. Ouch.

    Seeing these results, I couldn’t help but think about Mike Lofgren, a retired GOP staffer on Capitol Hill, who last month offered a first-hand look at what motivates policymakers from his party. As Lofgren put it, congressional Republicans aren’t just eager to undermine Democrats at all costs, they’re also intent on undermining the public’s faith in political institutions themselves.

    A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner…. Undermining Americans’ belief in their own institutions of self-government remains a prime GOP electoral strategy [emphasis added]

    The point is nihilism for nihlism’s sake; the point is to create a dynamic in which the American mainstream simply won’t look to government for policy solutions, because the public simply won’t trust public institutions to respond effectively and responsibly.

    And once Americans are convinced to turn their backs on these institutions, Republicans will find it easier to shrink government — preferably to the size where it can be “drowned in a bathtub” — and cut taxes, which is generally the ultimate goal anyway.

    Congratulations, Republicans. By refusing to be responsible, refusing to compromise, and refusing to govern, it looks like your strategy is working.

  22. rikyrah says:

    Republicans Release A Budget That Would Kill Thousands of Jobs and Create 0
    October 1, 2011
    By Rmuse

    In every aspect of government, there are absolutes people count on to maintain a semblance of continuity and order; without them, uncertainty would eventually lead to doubt that could engender a lack of confidence in the country’s leaders. Democrats are inclined to support social programs that benefit the greatest number of people and they are reliable supporters of education, healthcare, and labor movements because they benefit nearly all Americans. The American people can depend on Democrats to give attention to the poor, who through no fault of their own, are least apt to have a voice in policies that affect their well-being and it informs the humanitarian nature of Democrats. Republicans are predictable in working solely for the wealthiest Americans and corporations, and they are infamous for oppressing minorities, women, gays, and the needy because they do not have the means to hand out large campaign contributions to GOP candidates and members of Congress.

    The current batch of Republicans in the 112th Congress have not disappointed their wealthy benefactors, and they have predictably assailed the groups mentioned above and recently signaled their intent to expand their cut and slash agenda on Americans desperate for a respite from GOP malfeasance. The newest budget proposal from Republicans verifies their hatred of education and healthcare for all but the wealthy, and their perpetual campaign to break labor unions enters a new phase at the Federal level. The House Republicans released a draft proposal of their 2012 budget that is close to Democrats version in dollars, but their cuts challenge President Obama on labor rules, healthcare reforms, and his signature education program.

    The Republican plan spares public school Title 1 and special education assistance programs, and they acquiesced to the president’s request for an increase to the Head Start program; that is the good news. The bad news is that the Republicans are not kind to low-income students looking forward to continuing their education at the college level. The bill institutes tougher eligibility standards in order to qualify for $5,500 in Pell Grants that will most likely disqualify thousands of low-income college students from receiving the important tuition assistance. Republicans are also proposing deep cuts in aid to Hispanic education institutions to keep Latinos from getting the same education as their white counterparts. In a direct slap at President Obama, Republicans propose wiping out the Race to the Top education initiative to prevent low-performing schools from receiving funding to hire and train teachers; eliminating the President’s education program will affect poor and minority students primarily. Very predictable and very costly to education.

    The Republicans’ bill is also typically harsh on Americans who lack basic healthcare coverage by both blocking the Obama Administration from moving forward with health care reforms as well as rescinding $8.6 billion in related appropriations that were authorized in the Affordable Care Act. Since the Republicans could not repeal the legally passed health law, they proceeded with their plans of defunding it as promised and expected. It is not news to Americans that Republicans want to restrict 30 to 40 million Americans from securing basic health insurance, because in the conservative’s Draconian mindset, healthcare is a privilege reserved for the special people who can afford exorbitant premiums. It is predictable that Republicans approve of letting millions of Americans without basic health insurance suffer poor health and eventually die, and it is what vile Republicans advocated for the past two years. Now that they control funding in the House, they are instituting their version of death panels on a grand scale.

    It is well-known that Republicans hate the labor movement, and to prove the level of contempt they have for the National Labor Relations Board, the Republicans reduced its budget by 17%. The labor movement-hating GOP also adds many funding restrictions to block union elections and organizing activities in their ever-present attempts at breaking labor unions.

    The despicable Republicans demonstrated their cowardice by releasing their 2012 budget proposals on Thursday because it was a religious holiday and the middle of a recess so the public would be in the dark as to the GOP’s intended cuts. The media will certainly not expose the Republicans education and healthcare cuts because they are an extension of the Republican Party like Fox News.

    The education cuts are part of an ongoing assault on students. When the President’s jobs bill was released, Eric Cantor said Republicans would not support infusing $30 billion for repairing and updating technology for a third of the nation’s aging public schools. He also said his caucus would not support a $35 billion program to hire and retain as many as 250,000 school teachers, police officers, and firefighters because Republicans hate stimulus spending that creates much needed new jobs. In fact, the Republican budget cuts to education and health care will not create one job and will certainly kill hundreds-of-thousands of current jobs as well as potential new construction and technology jobs rebuilding public schools would bring.

    Republicans have controlled the House since January, and although they promised job creation was their highest priority during the 2010 midterm campaigns, they have not created one single job and have in fact been responsible for eliminating millions of jobs. The Republicans have shown they will not do anything to help the economy or create jobs and apparently, they are proud of their achievements. Their staunch supporters in the tea party and GOP are split between being elated at Republican job-killing measures and angry they have not killed more Americans’ jobs.

    It is curious just how far Republicans are going to proceed decimating the economy and jobs before their supporters say enough. It seems that just when one thinks they cannot possibly sink any lower, they attempt to eliminate adequate health care and education funding out of sheer contempt and to spite President Obama. If Americans do not rise up in protest against more typically vile Republican behavior, they will continue until there is nothing left of this country.

    The Republicans persist in claiming their drastic education and healthcare cuts are necessary because they say America is broke, but they find plenty of money for the oil industry, Israel’s military, and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. Their actions and agendas are predictable, but it does not make them right; but for Republicans, doing what is right is not their goal. Their goal is to hurt as many Americans as possible and they have succeeded marvelously. It is easy to imagine their delight at causing harm to millions of Americans because they have become so proficient at it; and very predictable.

  23. rikyrah says:

    In New Budget Bill, House Republicans Continue Their War On Workers

    By Guest Blogger on Sep 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    It has been a busy year for Republican attacks on workers’ rights. Last spring, Republicans in Wisconsin and Ohio passed sweeping measures eliminating public sector unions, despite massive protests. More recently, Republicans have been attacking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for enforcing measures that protect workers against corporate retribution.

    On Thursday, House Republicans, led by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), released their draft 2012 budget for labor, health, and education programs. In it, they proposed cutting funding for the NLRB by $49 million — a full 17 percent of the agency’s budget — and blocking regulations designed to make it easier for workers to exercise their collective bargaining rights. As Politico reported:

    On the regulation front, the National Labor Relations Board, a favorite Republican target, would see its budget cut by $49 million — a 17 percent reduction — and the bill also adds multiple funding restrictions to block rulemaking related to union elections and organizing activities. […]

    The release of the draft Thursday — during a religious holiday in the middle of a recess — appeared calculated to be low key. Indeed, where the House Appropriations Committee intends to go next with the 150-page measure — the biggest of the annual domestic bills — is still very unclear given continued divisions in the GOP itself over the level of cuts.

    The proposed cuts would likely be devastating. Similar cuts proposed in February would have forced the NLRB to furlough all employees for 55 days, leading to a major backlog in cases. In addition to the cuts, the Republicans’ draft budget includes several provisions that would make it more difficult for workers to join a union by blocking important NLRB regulations.

    This is part of a broader campaign by Republicans to undermine the NLRB. Just last week, the House passed a bill that would prevent the NLRB from enforcing anti-union busting laws. During the debate on that bill, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) declared that enforcing longstanding labor law was the equivalent of the “economic death penalty.”

    And many House Republicans not only want to weaken the NLRB, they want to eliminate it altogether. In February, 176 House Republicans voted for an amendment offered by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) which would have defunded the NLRB entirely.

  24. rikyrah says:

    Sarah Palin, second-tier candidate
    Posted by Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake at 07:39 AM ET, 09/27/2011

    Amid the “will she or won’t she” speculation about former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s 2012 presidential plans, one important thing seems to be getting lost: Palin is simply not a top-tier candidate.

    New numbers from a CNN/Opinion Research poll confirm it. In a hypothetical 2012 Republican primary, Palin stood at 7 percent — tied with businessman Herman Cain and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, neither of whom are considered anything but the longshots for the nomination.

    She trails frontrunning Texas Gov. Rick Perry by 21 points and second-place finisher Mitt Romney wins three times the support Palin does in the poll.

    And the bad news doesn’t stop there. Just 51 percent of self-identified Republicans in the poll said that Palin has the “personality” and leadership qualities a president should have” — well below the number who said the same of Perry (73 percent) and Romney (83 percent).

    With electability rising as a concern among Republican voters, the fact that she trails President Obama by 21 points in a head-to-head matchup — the largest margin of any GOP candidate — is yet more bad news for Palin.

    Palin’s struggles appear to be closely correlated to the rise of Perry, whose entrance into the race in mid-August fundamentally re-ordered the pecking order of candidates aggressively seeking tea party support.

    In the last CNN/ORC poll conducted prior to Perry’s official entry into the race, Romney took 19 percent while Palin and Perry each took 15 percent and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann received 10 percent.

    Since that time, Palin’s support has been whittled in half, while Bachmann stood at just 4 percent in the latest survey; Perry has seemingly co-opted the social conservative/tea party support of both women.

    Palin allies will note that she is not yet in the race and that people tend to be hesitant to support someone who isn’t running. That will change, they argue, if she gets in.

    Maybe. But unlike Cain or even Paul, is there anyone who either a) doesn’t know Palin or b) doesn’t have an opinion about her?

    While she would undoubtedly blot out the sun when it comes to media coverage — especially in the early days of her candidacy — it’s hard to see how all of that coverage (and there would a A LOT of it) would or could fundamentally alter the impression people already have of her.

    One poll is, well, one poll (see: “time, snapshot in”). But Palin’s numbers haven’t been particularly strong in quite some time — we wrote that she had reached a political tipping point way back in April — and Perry’s entrance into the contest has further complicated Palin’s path to top-tier status.

    Palin has shown a tremendous capacity to surprise during her three-plus years on the national stage. But, the CNN poll suggests that there her bag of tricks may well be empty — or close to it.

  25. rikyrah says:

    Many black members of Congress targeted in new districts
    Posted by Aaron Blake at 10:31 AM ET, 09/27/2011
    As many as one-quarter of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus could face significant primary opposition in their new House districts in 2012, a development that could significantly change the face of the CBC and/or reduce its membership heading into 2013.

    With nationwide redistricting slightly more than halfway done, at least 10 of the 41 members of the CBC already have well-known politicians eyeing their new districts.

    As Roll Call’s Shira Toeplitz noted on Monday, a few of those members are actually facing matchups with current or former Members of Congress who are white. These members include Reps. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.), Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.).

    But others are facing primaries with ambitious black politicians who see opportunities in newly drawn districts.

    Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), for instance, could face a serious primary challenge from state Sen. Bert Johnson in a Detroit district that takes in lots of new voters. The same goes for Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Ed Towns (D-N.Y.), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).

    Richmond and Fudge, in particular, have seen their districts stretched significantly in order to keep their black majorities intact — a requirement of the Voting Rights Act that says black majority districts must be made if they can be made.

    Richmond’s new district will extend from its current base in New Orleans out to Baton Rouge, and Fudge’s stretches from its current Cleveland anchor down to Akron under. In both cases, potential challenges come as a direct result of these new constituencies.

    The same goes for the districts held by Clay, Clarke and Jackson, while Richardson’s district was wholly redrawn by the independent California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Clay could face Rep. Russ Carnahan (D), Clarke will face Rep. Gary Peters (D), Jackson faces former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D) and Richardson is being challenged by both a white member of Congress – Janice Hahn – and an African-American member of the state Assembly, Isadore Hall.

    Redistricting expert David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report notes that almost all of these members have a district that is at least 20 percent new, and he said that was a conservative estimate for many of them.

    Those watching these races closely suggest Clarke and Richardson are in the most trouble. That’s because Clarke is running against a good campaigner in Peters, and because Richardson has a lot of new territory and doesn’t have anything close to a majority-black district.

    The rest will either face white members of Congress in heavily black districts or have the advantages of incumbency in most of the territory of their newly redrawn districts.

    Still, many of them will be challenged by state legislators or politicians with names that are well-known in the black community. New York state Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and Greenville, Miss., Mayor Heather McTeer Hudson, who are running against Towns and Thompson, respectively, are both seen as rising stars in their states.

    Black members of Congress have often faced primaries from ambitious up and comers in the past but very few have actually been unseated.

    Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) lost primaries in 2002 and 2006, Rep. Al Wynn (D-Md.) was defeated in 2008, and Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) lost in 2010. All were replaced by other black politicians (Clarke replaced Kilpatrick), but all gave their voters significant reason to unseat them — whether from a lack of effective constituent service or some personal problems.

    “Unless there’s some scandal, they’re very, very rarely successful,” said David Bositis, an expert on racial politics at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, about primaries to sitting African American members. “And they rarely have the amount of money that the CBC members have.”

    At the same time, even CBC members with major personal and political problems have been returned to their seats by wide margins in the recent years, including Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) in 2010 and then-Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) in 2006.

    Among those CBC members without major liabilities, very few have had any problems in the primary. Consider this: even President Obama was unable to unseat Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) in a 2000 primary, losing nearly two-to-one.

    In the end, it’s unlikely many of these CBC members will lose, but the fact that many of them will face significant opposition is certainly unusual — and worth keeping an eye on in an environment in which voters are looking for change.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Obama Campaign Pulls In More Than $55 Million in 3Q
    Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011, 7:30 am by Paddy

    Sweet. Via Taegan-

    The Obama campaign “is likely to beat its $55 million target for combined third-quarter contributions to joint party and presidential committees — but likely to lag behind its record-breaking second-quarter haul,” Politico reports.

    “Campaign manager Jim Messina told a meeting of Democratic donors in Chicago earlier this month that Obama was aiming for the $55 million benchmark. But even Obama’s critics think it will be more. After all, campaign officials were predicting $60 million in the days before Obama’s team announced a combined $85 million second-quarter take in July.”

  27. rikyrah says:

    Montana GOPer Fears School Lunch Fraud Is Eating Taxpayer Money

    Evan McMorris-Santoro October 1, 2011, 9:09 AM 1198 2

    Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-MT), who’s expected to face Sen. John Tester (D) in the Montana Senate race next year, is worried that some families who receive federally-subsidized lunches may be gaming the system and therefore bilking you out of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars.

    It’s about waste, fraud and abuse, he suggests. But Democrats say it’s about something else: A Republican looking to scrimp on a program that benefits the least fortunate of all Americans, poor children, while he fights to protect subsidies for multi-billion dollar oil companies.

    Rehberg is fond of looking to the nation’s education subsidies to find extraneous money that can be cut. Back in April, he landed in some hot water after he said that Pell Grants were the same as welfare, a comment he quickly walked back after public outcry back home in Big Sky Country.

    But even in the walking back, there was evidence of Rehberg’s concern that taxpayer money earmarked for making it easier for people without a lot of income to get an education is place where cuts need to be made. Pell Grants are “are an attempt to do the right thing,” he said, and “the difficulty is, often times a program is so successful that it grows and grows and grows and grows.”

    “I’m not suggesting that college students are welfare recipients,” he said, according to the Huffington Post. “‘I’m just saying that the program itself is expanding so quickly it’s moving beyond the federal government’s ability’ to pay for it.”

    This time around, Rehberg set his sights a little lower down the educational ladder. On a tour of a Montana elementary school (where his sister is principal), Rehberg wanted to know quite a bit about how the school policies its government-subsidized lunch program. From the Billings Gazette:

    Rehberg asked [his sister and school district official Brenda Koch] pointed questions about fraud and whether families ever dupe the free and reduced-price meal system.

    Koch explained that each year, a random sample of families who sign up and qualify are audited by the district to make sure they meet the income guidelines.

    On top of that, she said, the district is audited by the state every year on how its Title I dollars are spent.

    “I’d like to punish those systems that rip the taxpayers off,” Rehberg said during the visit, according to the Gazette.

    A call about the visit to Rehberg’s Senate campaign office was referred to his Congressional staff in Washington. An email asking for more details on the Q&A and Rehberg’s concerns about the school lunch program went unanswered last week.


    In Montana, the concern is not fraud caused by poor families, according to the state Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, but rather poor families not getting the assistance they need. Her office told TPM that “there are many people eligible for free and reduced lunch who don’t apply for the program out of stigma.”

    “The Superintendent has absolutely no concern that Montana families are committing fraud,” Montana OPI spokesperson Allyson Hagen said.

    Democrats have enjoyed tweaking Rehberg over his wealth (he’s the 23rd richest member of Congress but recently said he’s “struggling like everyone else”) and with the school lunch comments, they say they’ve caught him headed toward war on the poor like he seemed to declare with his Pell comments.

    “Millionaire Congressman Dennis Rehberg went to an elementary school and demanded to know about fraud in the school lunch program for low income students,” Tester campaign manager Preston Elliott told TPM. “At the same time he’s voted to increase his own pay 5 times and to protect subsidies for oil companies. Well, Dennis, the fraud is you telling Montana families that you’re on their side.”

  28. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 09/30/2011
    Romney‘s claim that ‘right to work’ states get more ‘good jobs’
    By Josh Hicks

    And the right course politically at this stage is to have states carry out their own right-to-work legislation. And as you know, right-to-work states, those 22, have created 3 million jobs over the last 10 years. The union states have lost about half a million jobs. So right to work is the way to go if you want good jobs.”

    — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at American Principles Project Palmetto Freedom Forum in Columbia, S.C. on Sept. 5, 2011

    Romney’s comments go to the heart of the right-to-work debate, so they deserve some scrutiny and analysis.

    Right-to-work states are those that prohibit “closed shops,” which require their workers to become dues-paying union members as a condition of employment. Twenty-two states have outlawed this practice.

    Romney refers to the 28 states that don’t have right-to-work laws as “union states.” Workers in these states can forego union membership in a unionized workplace, but they still have to pay dues. Labor groups have their reasons for pushing mandatory dues on employees: they don’t want non-members asking for the same benefits and wages that union officials painstakingly negotiated for the workers in their ranks.

    But is there really a documented link between “good jobs” and these state laws?

    The Facts

    We searched the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site to find data on each state’s non-farm, seasonally adjusted employment during the past 10 years. Just as Romney said, right-to-work states have better employment numbers on the whole.

    Romney’s camp relied on numbers from the BLS household survey. The data, which his team compiled in July, show that right-to-work states experienced a net gain of 3.6 million jobs during the past decade, while “union states” saw a net loss of 900,000 jobs over the same time span.

    Romney obviously understated the true numbers, but he was still correct in saying that right-to-work states added jobs while the others experienced dips.

    The former governor based his numbers off the bureau’s household survey rather than its payroll survey, which questions employers and only counts workers who receive pay from those employers.

    The household survey, which goes out to households, counts unpaid family workers and the “unincorporated self-employed” among the employed. This is like placing the “employed” label on 16-year-olds who mow their parents’ lawns. These individuals don’t qualify for union membership, so it’s questionable whether their work status matters in the right-to-work debate. (For more on the differences between the two surveys, read the BLS explanation on page four of this document.)

    Still, Romney relied on the more inclusive household survey, which tends to show higher employment numbers. The less inclusive payroll survey indicates that right-to-work states gained only 1.6 million jobs over the past 10 years while union states lost 2 million, even more than Romney claimed.

    Romney spokesman Ryan Williams defended the use of the household survey.

    It “provides a more robust set of data analysis options. For instance, if we wanted to look at changes in the unemployment rate or the labor force for Right to Work vs. Forced Unionization states we would need to be using [the household survey],” Williams said. “The point of our analysis is that Right to Work states have healthier economies and more job creation, so all economic opportunities are relevant, not just those in potentially unionized workplaces.”

    On the whole, union-friendly states fare worse than right-to-work states when it comes to job creation in the past decade, regardless of which BLS data you look at. But despite Romney’s assertion, those figures don’t prove that right-to-work laws help attract jobs.

    “It’s the same as saying that states with names that start with the letters ‘n’ through ‘z’ grew faster over the past decade,” said Gordon Lafer, associate professor at the University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center. “That’s actually true, but it’s not meaningful in policy terms.”

    Lafer also said that the lower labor standards and wages associated with non-union jobs do not necessarily correlate with employment growth. If that was the driving factor, he said, companies would simply move abroad instead of crossing state borders.

    Romney’s analysis also fails to recognize that factors other than union policy can affect employment numbers. Jared Berstein, a former Labor Department economist and a senior fellow with the left-leaning Center on Budget Policies and Priorities, said other variables affect the job-growth equation, including natural resources, infrastructure, workforce quality, location, standard of living, schools, tax rates and other policy decisions not related to unionization.

    “I think it’s important to get away from cherry-picking statistics, because there are so many moving parts,” Bernstein said.

    The bottom line is that the right set of jobs numbers can favor pro-union arguments just as easily as anti-union arguments.

    Bernstein and Lafer point to Oklahoma, where manufacturing jobs in Oklahoma peaked at 177,000 in 2000, the year before the state passed its right-to-work legislation.

    BLS data shows that manufacturing jobs have declined there every year since 2001, with the exception of an 8-percent increase in 2011.One could use those numbers to say that Oklahoma hit the skids after becoming a right-to-work state.

  29. rikyrah says:

    In Senate vote, a win for the middle class and a rebuke to China
    By Harold Meyerson, Published: September 29

    The news that our trade with China has been bad for the American middle class has finally reached the U.S. Senate. On Monday, the Senate will take up legislation that would impose tariffs on Chinese goods so long as China depresses the value of its currency. Despite the partisan polarization that grinds lawmaking to a halt these days, the bill’s support is thoroughly bipartisan, with sponsors ranging from such conservative Republicans as South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham to liberal Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown. The legislation is expected to clear the Senate’s 60-vote hurdle for a floor vote and move on to the House.

    For students of America’s deranged romance with free trade, the fact that the Senate is willing to take on China is little short of amazing. Since the 1980s, the House has been the legislative body where epic battles have been waged over the free-trade agreements that have decimated American manufacturing. The impact of factory closures on congressional districts is generally too big for representatives to ignore. Local manufacturers and bankers, no less than local union members, complain to their House members; when the town’s biggest employer leaves, grief knows no party. Senators, on the other hand, move in a larger world, one where Wall Street contributors and Washington pundits assure them that free trade is invariably good. So while the House has been home to furious fights over NAFTA, CAFTA and extending permanent normalized trade relations to China, the Senate has long passed such measures with much less fuss and sublime indifference to the consequences.

    But the consequences can no longer be denied. Between 2001 and 2010, the U.S. trade deficit with China cost Americans 2.8 million jobs, according to a report by economist Robert Scott, issued last week by the liberal Economic Policy Institute. Most of those jobs — 1.9 million — were in manufacturing, and of those, almost half were in computers and electronics.

    This wasn’t simply the consequence of China’s cheaper labor or more generous corporate subsidies. As China’s productivity soared during the past decade, the value of its currency should have risen correspondingly. Instead, China purchased dollars, which had the effect of depressing the yuan and making Chinese exports about 28 percent cheaper than they would be if the yuan had been allowed to appreciate, William Cline and John Williamson found in a study for the centrist Peterson Institute for International Economics.

    Data like these have been floating around for years, of course. Until now, however, the Senate has remained largely impervious to the evidence of Chinese cheating and American decay. But elite opinion, which the Senate does heed, is finally catching up with mass opinion on whether losing our manufacturing base is a bad thing. An influential July 2009 article in the Harvard Business Review by economists Gary Pisano and Willy Shih argued that losing manufacturing meant losing our edge in innovation, that the relationship between research and production was reciprocal. This would not have come as news to Thomas Edison, but few on Wall Street or in corporate boardrooms the past two decades believed that America’s prosperity and dynamism required the retention and renewal of manufacturing.

    Even now, it’s hard to find many there who believe that. Finance has fattened on manufacturing’s decline, as consumer debt replaced producer wages as the fuel that makes America run (and crash). And finance still has friends in Washington. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents many American corporations that make their products in China, opposes the Senate legislation. Ironically, now that the Senate is on the verge of passing the bill, Politico reports that House Republican leaders have no intention of bringing the bill to a vote. House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor don’t want to jeopardize their assiduously cultivated Wall Street funding — even though polls show rank-and-file Republicans want a more assertive economic posture toward China. That’s doubtless one reason why Mitt Romney has vowed to impose tariffs on China the day he becomes president.

    Our current president, meanwhile, has maintained a discreet silence on the Senate bill. Barack Obama has said that he wants the United States to double its exports over the next five years, but expanding American manufacturing on that scale can’t be done if China continues to eat our lunch. No issue divides Wall Street from Main Street more than trade, and winning Main Street’s support in next year’s election will require Obama to stand up more than he has for America’s industrial interests. Hell, even the Senate has figured that one out.

  30. Ametia says:

    Paul Ryan Has A New Plan To Scam Millions Of Americans Out Of Their Healthcare
    By Rouse-September 30, 2011

    Americans are fortunate to live in a country where citizens have hardly ever been harmed by an invading army, but nearly every American has suffered at the hands of conservatives. Poor Americans have historically suffered from conservatives’ assaults on their economic well-being and since Republicans took control of the House in 2011, Republicans broadened their attacks to include senior citizens and the middle class. Earlier this year, the Heritage Foundation devised a Medicare privatization scam that Representative Paul Ryan presented as his own and if adopted, it would effectively either send elderly Americans into abject poverty as they would have to choose to survive without healthcare and eat, or starve and have private, inadequate health insurance.

    The Heritage plan serves the purpose of handing insurance companies millions of new elderly policy holders who could ill-afford prohibitive premiums, and give Republicans access to the Medicare funds seniors contributed during their working lives. Suffice it to say that the privatization scam offered nothing to elderly Americans, but it gives the insurance industry a captive consumer base that would end up paying more in premiums while receiving less healthcare. Since Republicans are not satisfied cheating seniors and the poor, they have turned their attention to the middle class and figured out a way to reward corporations and the insurance industry while causing working Americans more economic distress.

    Ryan’s newest scam involves eliminating tax breaks for employees who are enrolled in their employer’s group healthcare plans, and instead give a tax credit to buy health insurance on an individual basis. According to Ryan, his plan will give consumers the needed incentive to demand more value from their healthcare. He said, “Giving patients and consumers control over health care resources would make all Americans less dependent on big business and big government for our health security; give us more control over the care we get; and force health care providers to compete for our business.” Ryan’s statement sounds suspiciously like his Medicare privatization scam, and if it reaches fruition, will result in 170 million Americans facing the same consequences as the elderly who will end up paying higher costs for less coverage.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 08:31 AM ET, 09/30/2011
    The Morning Plum
    By Greg Sargent

    * The other big jobs fight you should be watching: My pick for read of the morning is Harold Meyerson’s excellent overview of the politics and high stakes involved in the battle over the bill to punish China for currency ma­nipu­la­tion, which some estimates say could create over one million jobs. Crucially, he places this fight in the larger context of our political class’s utter failure to staunch the bleeding of manufacturing jobs, and notes that “elite opinion” is finally catching up with mass opinion on the idea that losing those jobs is, you know, a bad thing.

    What to watch: Whether Obama will support the bill, and whether House GOP leaders will continue to block a vote on the measure, which is opposed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce but continues to enjoy strong bipartisan support:

    House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor don’t want to jeopardize their assiduously cultivated Wall Street funding — even though polls show rank-and-file Republicans want a more assertive economic posture toward China.

    It’s unclear what exactly is driving the House GOP leadership’s opposition to bringing the bill to a vote. But it remains true that 99 House Republicans voted for this measure last year, and this time around, exactly zero has signed the Dems’ petition to bring it to the floor

  32. Ametia says:

    Conservative talk show host Mike Smerconish 9-30 interview with PBO

    Listen here:

  33. Ametia says:

    Posted at 04:40 PM ET, 09/30/2011
    Gay weddings can be performed by military chaplains, Pentagon says
    By Ed O’Keefe

    The Pentagon will permit military chaplains to perform same-sex marriage as long as such ceremonies are not prohibited in the states where they reside, it said Friday.

    Defense Department guidance issued to military chaplains said they may participate in ceremonies on or off military bases in states that recognize gay unions. Chaplains are not required to officiate at same-sex weddings if doing so is counter to their religious or personal beliefs, the guidance said.

    And regardless of the Pentagon guidance, military chaplains will still need to take cues from their religious order, said Gary Pollitt, spokesman for the Military Chaplains Association.

    “Just because the Department of Defense says this can happen, the chaplains perform such rites in keeping with their ecclesiastical authorization. Period,” Pollitt said.

    Gay couples may get married in Washington, D.C. and six states — Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Maryland and several other states recognize same-sex marriages but do not grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Forty-one states have either laws or constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage.

    The decision validates a move made by the Navy in May that earned the ire of conservative critics and Pentagon observers, because Navy officials acted on their own instead of in tandem with other military services. The guidance also irked Republican lawmakers who were still attempting to block plans to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

  34. Ametia says:

    Lester & Charlie know the deal.

  35. rikyrah says:

    LOVE Gladys Knight and the Pips!!

  36. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone at 3CHICS!!

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