Wednesday Open Thread

Stevland Hardaway Morris (previously Judkins;[1] born May 13, 1950), known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and activist.[2] Blind since shortly after birth,[3] Wonder signed with Motown Records‘ Tamla label at the age of eleven,[2] and continues to perform and record for Motown to this day.

Among Wonder’s best known works are singles such as “Superstition“, “Sir Duke“, “I Wish” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You“. Well known albums also include Talking Book, Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life.[2] He has recorded more than thirty U.S. top ten hits and received twenty-two Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist. Wonder is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s birthday a holiday in the United States.

About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
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50 Responses to Wednesday Open Thread

  1. Hello Granny!

    Thank you so much for your thoughts, prayers, words of encouragment and donation to help during my devastating crisis. I can’t tell you how grateful I am of your kindness & generosity. It brought tears to my eyes seeing your outpouring of love for me and my family. Bless you, Granny! You are always an inspiration for so many. Thank you from the bottom of heart.


  2. Ametia says:

    Rev. Al is going to do a segment on PBO called “The Baby Whisperer.”

  3. First black Marines deserve congressional gold medal, House says

    The House on Tuesday approved awarding the congressional gold medal to the first black Marines for their service during World War II in the face of discrimination.

    They’re known as the Montford Point Marines after the segregated North Carolina camp where they underwent training. That training began after President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 signed an executive order opening the Marine Corps to African Americans.

    Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos expressed his support for the medal, saying in a letter to lawmakers that the Montford Point Marines “served with distinction in three of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific — Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa,” “defended a society that enjoyed freedoms they did not share” and “contributed, in large measure, to President Truman’s decision to order the desegregation of the Armed Forces in 1948.”

    “The Montford Point Marines fought an enemy abroad and injustice at home,” Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) said during House consideration of the measure.

    According to the legislation, a single gold medal would be awarded to the Montford Point Marines, collectively, “in recognition of their personal sacrifice and service to their country.” The measure would also authorize the sale of duplicates made of bronze.

    The resolution was approved, 422-0, with four Montford Point Marines in the gallery for the vote.

    Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), the bill’s chief sponsor, called it a “long overdue” recognition.

    Similar legislation is pending in the Senate, where it has bipartisan support. About 20,000 African American Marines received training at Montford Point between 1942 and 1949.

    Other recipients of the congressional gold medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor, include the Tuskegee Airmen, Japanese American World War II veterans, Rosa Parks, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Walt Disney.

  4. MSNBC’s Pat Buchanan Reacts Furiously to Calls for Firing

    Pat Buchanan and his extremist allies are up in arms over liberal media watchdog groups’ recently launched campaign to get him fired from his news analyst position at MSNBC.

  5. Obama Health Care: Supreme Court May Decide In Mid-November Whether To Hear Cases

    WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court justices will consider whether to rule on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act at their conference on Thursday, Nov. 10. Five petitions stemming from three appeals court decisions will be before the Court, and the public may know as soon as Monday, Nov. 14, which, if any, the justices agree to hear.

    So far, the Court has decided to hear enough cases to fill up its oral argument schedule through most of its February sitting, meaning that the health care cases, if granted, would be heard at the very end of February or, more likely, during the third or fourth weeks of March.

    The parties to the case in which the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit struck down the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate have led the charge toward Supreme Court review, with each party submitting its petition to the justices and responding to the other’s arguments well ahead of the Court’s more leisurely deadlines.

  6. Marine One comes in for a landing on WH South Lawn returning Pres Obama from Joint Base Andrews.

  7. Talking Points Memo:

    Sen. McCaskill sells plane at center of controversy:

  8. rikyrah says:

    Rocky Mountain Poll in ARIZONA:

    Obama 45
    Romney 40

    Obama 44
    Perry 38


  9. Ametia says:

    Oct 26, 2:36 PM EDT
    Coroner: Amy Winehouse died from too much alcohol
    Associated Press
    LONDON (AP) — Amy Winehouse drank herself to death. The soul diva who had Grammy-winning songs and fans around the world died with empty vodka bottles in her room and lethal amounts of alcohol in her blood – more than five times the British drunk driving limit, a British coroner ruled Wednesday.

    Coroner Suzanne Greenaway gave a verdict of “death by misadventure,” saying the singer died of accidental alcohol poisoning when she resumed drinking after weeks of abstinence.

    “The unintended consequence of such potentially fatal levels (of alcohol) was her sudden and unexpected death,” Greenaway said.

  10. US President Barack Obama arrives at Buckley Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado, on October 26, 2011 to board Air Force One.

  11. rikyrah says:

    October 26, 2011 2:35 PM

    What is wrong with Paul Ryan?
    By Steve Benen

    Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the increasingly unhinged chairman of the House Budget Committee, has a fascinating sense of timing.

    This morning, news consumers woke up to news that the Congressional Budget Office has found that the “top 1 percent of earners more than doubled their share of the nation’s income over the last three decades,” while incomes have stagnated for the working classes. Much of this, the CBO found, is the result of conservative government policies that are deliberately less redistributive than the policies of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, when the class gap was far less extreme.

    At the same time, news consumers also got a look this morning at the latest public attitudes on economic policy. As it turns out, the American mainstream strongly supports economic populism, including higher taxes on the wealthy, more public investment in job creation, and in general, policies that would ensure that American wealth is “more evenly distributed among more people.”
    It was against this backdrop that Ryan, the Ayn Rand-loving “class warrior for the wealthy,” fresh off his failed campaign to eliminate Medicare altogether, decided to throw a tantrum at the Heritage Foundation this morning.

    House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) took direct aim at President Barack Obama in a speech Wednesday morning, accusing him of “preying on the emotions of fear, envy and resentment” as he travels the country to sell his jobs plan.

    In a speech at the Heritage Foundation, Ryan said Obama’s method of rallying public support for his $447 billion jobs package was “sowing social unrest and class resentment” and could be “just as damaging as his misguided policies.”

    “Instead of working together where we agree, the president has opted for divisive rhetoric and
    the broken politics of the past,” Ryan said…. Ryan accused Obama of using “class-based rhetoric” in his re-election campaign. Obama’s tactics, he said, make “America weaker, not stronger.”

    “Instead of appealing to the hope and optimism that were the hallmarks of his first campaign, he has launched his second campaign by preying on the emotions of fear, envy, and resentment,” Ryan said.

    If Paul Ryan were half as smart as he thinks he is, his arguments might be worth paying more attention to. Instead, his harangue this morning bordered on pathetic. If merit mattered more in American politics, this speech would mark the turning point at which Ryan transitioned from media darling to laughing stock.

    I had grand idea about grabbing a scalpel and going through Ryan’s most offensive errors of fact and judgment, but Greg Sargent beat me to it. Please read his post. No, seriously, go read it, then come back.

    The part that just about made my head explode was when Ryan, a charlatan whose numbers have never added up, accused President Obama of “intellectually lazy arguments.” After picking my jaw up off the floor, I learned that an example of an “intellectually lazy argument” is recommending popular tax increases on the wealthy to help reduce the Republican-created deficit and create jobs.

    I also loved the notion that Ryan wants to see Obama be “hopeful” the way he was in 2008 — when Obama won easily running on a platform of higher taxes on everyone making over $250,000.

    I’ll resist the temptation to highlight every ridiculous point from Ryan’s speech, but I was especially amazed by the lawmaker taking offense after the mean ol’ president offered mild criticism of the GOP. From Ryan’s speech:

    “Just last week, the President told a crowd in North Carolina that Republicans are in favor of, ‘dirtier air, dirtier water, and less people with health insurance.’ Can you think of a pettier way to describe sincere disagreements between the two parties on regulation and health care?”

    Does even listen to himself? What the president said last week was true. Congressional Republicans make no effort to hide the fact that they want to gut the health care system and take away health care coverage for tens of millions of people. That’s their agenda; it’s not a secret. Likewise, GOP officials insist that one of the best ways to boost the economy is to prohibit the EPA from enforcing clean air and clean water regulations. That, again, is a simple recitation of what Republicans say they want.

    What’s more petty? Obama telling voters the truth or Paul Ryan whining about it?

    Some of Ryan’s speech was demonstrably wrong — at one point, he insisted a “flat tax is a progressive effective tax” — some of it was a rehash of tired cliches, and some was an angry conservative pretending to take offense. All of it, meanwhile, offered a defense of a twisted and regressive ideology that demands policymakers do even more to protect millionaires and billionaires from taxes, consequences, and responsibilities.

    The New Republic recently explained that Ryan is “Washington’s idea of A Very Serious Person — an earnest individual with a systematic plan. It doesn’t have to be a good plan, but, if it has enough charts and numbers, and is accompanied by some patronizing finger-wagging, it’s golden. Ryan is in fact a slightly creepy Ayn Rand enthusiast seeking to impose a radical right-wing agenda on the country, but his doeish eyes and his Midwestern vintage convinced a rapt press corps that he is the ideas man in this age of budgetary woe. There is probably no public perception more deserving of a major revision.”

    The man is one part crackpot, one part con man. The sooner the political world realizes this, the better.

  12. rikyrah says:

    October 26, 2011 1:10 PM

    Rick Perry’s jobs metric

    By Steve Benen

    Rick Perry’s presidential campaign launched its first television ad campaign this week, spending about $230,000 to have this spot run in Iowa over the next week.

    For those who can’t watch videos online, Perry tells viewers, “As president I’ll create at least 2-and-a-half million new jobs, and I know something about that. In Texas we’ve created over 1 million new jobs while the rest of the nation lost over 2 million. I’ll start by opening America’s oil and gas fields. I’ll eliminate President Obama’s regulations that hurt other sources of domestic energy, like coal and natural gas. That’ll create jobs and reduce our reliance on oil from countries that hate America.”

    As a factual matter, there’s quite a bit wrong with Perry’s pitch, but there’s one part of this that stood out for me: the Texas governor is vowing to create at least 2.5 million jobs. The number appears on screen in the ad; it’s apparently intended to seem impressive.

    What an interesting metric for success.

    In fact, if Perry believes voters should be impressed with his vow to create 2.5 million jobs, the Texas governor should probably be more impressed with President Obama’s jobs record.

    Let’s consider the jobs data. Over the last year and a half, as the economic recovery has slowly progressed, the economy has added 2.56 million private-sector jobs. Over that same period — March 2010 through September 2011 — the overall economy has added 2.1 million jobs, and should reach the 2.5 million mark by early next year.

    Now, no one is saying these totals are good enough. Indeed, given the job losses in 2008 and 2009, generated by a Great Recession that began in 2007, they’re not even close to what’s needed. The fact that the private sector has added 2.56 million jobs over the last year and a half hasn’t been nearly sufficient to bring the unemployment rate down in a hurry or end the jobs crisis.

    But for the purposes of evaluating the Texas governor’s first campaign ad, the bottom line is nevertheless interesting — Rick Perry believes he’ll able to create the same number of jobs in four years that Barack Obama has created in a year and a half.

  13. rikyrah says:

    SPECIAL REPORT: Out-of-State Corporate Money Floods Ohio Battle Over Anti-Collective Bargaining Bill
    Tuesday 25 October 2011

    About 60 people gathered at the AFL-CIO office in downtown Columbus, Ohio, to rally and volunteer their time on a sunny Friday evening in early October. They came from a variety of backgrounds: white and black, urban and rural, young and old. Armed with a phone bank and canvassing clipboards, they participated in a campaign to rally Ohio voters to repeal legislation known as Senate Bill 5. If passed, the law would limit collective bargaining rights on issues like staffing levels for Ohio’s 360,000 public workers and require some public workers to pay more in pension and health care costs. The volunteers, dressed in T-shirts and jeans, are labor’s foot soldiers in a political battle attracting national attention and political spending. It is a bitter clash of class, ideology and political tactics, pitting the public sector against the private sector, and Ohio’s labor movement against a web of Republican front groups that refuse to disclose their campaign finances.

    Senate Bill 5 proponents claim the bill will save tax dollars by allowing municipal leaders to make cuts without negotiating with unions and will put public worker’s health care and pension costs in line with private-sector workers. However, these aggressive “reforms” targeting the bargaining rights and pocketbooks of teachers, police and firemen don’t sit well with Ohio’s hearty and traditionally centrist middle class. After Ohio’s GOP-controlled legislature passed Senate Bill 5 by a single vote in March, 10,000 volunteers collected an unprecedented 1.3 million signatures to put the law up for a voter’s referendum, as allowed by Ohio law. Voters will go to the polls on November 8 and vote “Yes” on state ballot Issue 2 to keep the law, or “No” to cast a veto vote.

    The stakes are high for both sides and experts estimate the cost of the Issue 2 campaign could run from $33 million to $40 million, rivaling the cost of the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. If Ohio’s public workers lose collective bargaining rights, then unions could lose political influence and momentum in a key swing state. But for Republican Gov. John Kasich, who defeated a Democratic incumbent in the 2010 GOP landslide and quickly championed Senate Bill 5, an embarrassing veto from voters would cast a shadow on the rest of his term and an ambitious agenda focused on tax cuts and privatizing prisons and economic development. A repeal would also disappoint Kasich’s legion of out-of-state, big business supporters that spent millions helping elect him.

    Kasich is playing defense and the repeal campaign has been ahead in the polls for months. Unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the AFC-CIO smell blood. Labor has thousands of volunteers on the ground in Ohio, but its fundraising has extended beyond the grassroots. Faced with a Republican opposition raising unlimited – and so far unreported – electioneering funds to convince voters to keep Senate Bill 5 on the books, national union offices contributed a combined $3.7 million to We Are Ohio, labor’s major vehicle campaigning for a repeal, which raised nearly $7 million by July. The national AFL-CIO alone contributed $1.5 million.

    We Are Ohio and its union backers are disclosing their campaign finances, but Building a Better Ohio, the GOP-linked group spearheading the pro-Senate Bill 5 campaign and running television ads across the state, set up a nonprofit corporation to raise funds and avoid revealing its contributors and finances. The Republican Governors Association (RGA) and out-of-state conservative groups like The Alliance for America’s Future are also defending Senate Bill 5 without disclosure.

    A Truthout investigation into the political machine defending Kasich and Senate Bill 5, however, reveals how private interests can silently support the controversial legislation through groups like the RGA that funnel corporate cash into state campaigns to promote a broader agenda focused on weakening public-sector unions and privatizing state services.

    Money raised across the country is paying for the television advertisements for both sides of Issue 2, mirroring the changing landscape of elections across the country. The Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling on Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission and subsequent rulings opened the doors for corporations and unions to directly spend unlimited amounts on political advocacy and electioneering, which allowed the now infamous “Super PACs” (political action committee) like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads to spend millions on campaign ads benefiting Republican candidates in 2010. Governor Kasich was one such candidate. A former Lehman Brothers banker, Fox News personality and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) alumni, Kasich’s campaign enjoyed support from private interests nationwide.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Flogging the Regulations Horse
    by BooMan
    Wed Oct 26th, 2011 at 12:18:37 PM EST

    Last night I did a piece on the latest New York Times/CBS News poll which showed that the American people hate Congress more than ever, don’t like the Republicans or their presidential candidates, and don’t like the Republicans’ proposed solutions for the jobs crisis. But there was one Republican idea that polled fairly well. According to the New York Times, “half of the public favors reducing or repealing regulations on businesses in the United States.” Nothing else the Republicans are selling can garner 50% support, so it’s not too surprising that they are hitting the “regulations” meme pretty hard. Except, as Steve Benen points out, regulations aren’t strangling the economy and President Obama has introduced fewer new regulations at this point in his presidency than George W. Bush had at this point in his.

    The notion that regulations are hurting the economy has already been so thoroughly debunked, it’s safe to conclude that anyone who repeats it is not to be trusted. But there’s another angle to the talking point that’s equally important: Obama hasn’t approved massive new regulations.

    What Mr. Benen doesn’t mention is that the Republican presidential candidates aren’t just complaining about regulations. They’re almost universally calling for the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency. Some are adding the Department of Energy and/or the Department of the Interior to the chopping block. I don’t know how well those ideas poll, but I can’t imagine the country has developed a thirst for destroying the environment and eliminating wilderness spaces.

    In any case, since the only idea the Republicans have that has any support at all is to reduce regulations on businesses, we can expect them to continue to flog that horse.

  15. rikyrah says:

    October 26, 2011 12:30 PM

    The hard-to-execute flip-flop-flip

    By Steve Benen

    Mitt Romney created quite a mess for himself yesterday, showing up at a Republican call center in Ohio, rallying GOP activists fighting to protect a union-busting bill, and then refusing to endorse the measure they were working on. Today, at a campaign event in Virginia, the former governor tried to “clarify” matters.

    “Oh, I’m sorry if I created any confusion in that regard. I fully support Gov. Kasich’s — I think it’s called Question 2 in Ohio. Fully support … Gov. Kasich’s effort to restrict collective bargaining in Ohio in the ways he’s described. […]

    “But what I was referring to was I know there were other ballot questions there in Ohio and I wasn’t taking a position on those. One of them for instance, relates to healthcare and mandates, I’ve said that that should be up to individual states. I, of course, took my state in one direction. They may want to go in a different direction. I don’t want to tell them what I think they ought to do in that regard, that’s up to them. So, it was with regards to that issue that I didn’t want to make a commitment.”

    Look, that’s a fairly straightforward attempt at damage control, but it’s not true.

    Romney visited a Republican campaign office where workers are trying to rally support for two measures that Ohioans will vote on in two weeks — one restricts collective-bargaining rights, the other is a state measure intended to override the federal health care law on mandates. Romney was asked for his position on these two hot-button controversies. After repeated questions from reporters — the former governor clearly didn’t want to talk about this — he said:

    “I am not speaking about the particular ballot issues. Those are up to the people of Ohio. But I certainly support the efforts of the governor to reign in the scale of government. I am not terribly familiar with the two ballot initiatives. But I am certainly supportive of the Republican Party’s efforts here.” [emphasis added]

    The “two ballot initiatives” included the one on collective bargaining. If he “fully supports” it, Romney had a chance to say so. Reporters were practically begging him to give his position. Romney said this morning was “referring” to something else when he said, “I am not terribly familiar with the two ballot initiatives,” but no one can or should believe this, since it’s transparent nonsense.

    Romney was simply reluctant to take a stand in support of an unpopular anti-worker measure that’s likely to lose in two weeks. So, he went from supporting the measure, to being agnostic on it, to supporting it again, hoping the right will stop yelling at him.

    There’s no reason this should make Romney’s problem go away.

  16. Perry On Birtherism Nod: ‘I Was Just Having Some Fun With Donald Trump’

    Rick Perry has given a new explanation for his recent dalliance in Birtherism — the conspiracy theory that claims President Obama was born outside the United States, and is thus not legally eligible to be president at all. Perry now says he does not doubt at all that Obama is an American citizen — he was just having fun with Donald Trump.

    [wpvideo y9jyqfjb]

  17. Egypt Convicts Police For Death That Inspired Protests

    CAIRO — Two policemen convicted of beating a young man to death in a case that inspired Egypt’s uprising were sentenced to seven years in prison on Wednesday, enraging families of the police who smashed wooden benches in the courtroom and tried to attack the dead man’s lawyers and relatives, the lawyer said.

    Khaled Said is seen as Egypt’s Mohammed Bouazizi – the fruit seller whose self-immolation sparked the Tunisian revolution that began the chain of Arab Spring uprisings. His death became an immediate rallying point for activists campaigning against widespread police brutality and other human rights abuses under former President Hosni Mubarak. Months later, a Facebook page created in his memory was used to put out a call for the Jan. 25 protests that grew into the 18-day uprising that would topple Mubarak.

  18. The Story Behind Gaddafi’s ‘Eerie’ Obsession With Condoleezza Rice

    Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sat down with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos for a recent interview and described a “really strange” meeting she had in 2008 with former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed last week in his hometown of Sirte.

    ABC News relays the discussion:

    “What was going through my head was ‘How long do I have to sit here and how quickly can I get out of here?’ You know, it was funny because when he said, ‘I have a video for you,’ I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, what is this going to be?’ But it was actually just a bunch of pictures of me with Vladimir Putin, me with Hu Jin Tao,” [Rice] told me. “And then he said, ‘I have Libya’s best composer, most famous composer write this song for you,’ and it was called Black Flower in the White House,” she told me, calling the scrapbook “eerie.”

    It’s not Rice’s first mention of the “eerie” obsession that Gaddafi seemed to have with her. In a recent advance excerpt of her book, “No Higher Honor,” Rice writes that her first trip to Libya was preceded by Gaddafi “asking visitors why his ‘African princess’ wouldn’t visit him.” In her book, she also describes the personal song that had been composed for her as “weird” but not “raunchy.”

    Rice’s personal descriptions of her own encounters with Gaddafi aren’t the only evidence that the Libyan leader may have been infatuated with her. When rebels raided Gaddafi’s compound in August, they found a photo album filled with pictures of her.

    More of ABC News’ interview with Rice will be aired Oct. 31 on “Nightline” and on “Good Morning America” Tuesday morning. Rice’s book, “No Higher Honor,” is set to hit bookshelves Nov. 1.

  19. Ametia says:

    WI Governor Scott walker recall

  20. rikyrah says:

    October 26, 2011 10:45 AM

    Reality ruins another GOP talking point

    By Steve Benen

    It’s one of those observations that Republicans repeat so often, it’s often just assumed to be true: President Obama and his big-government agenda have imposed a wave of regulations that’s overwhelming society and crushing the economy.

    The notion that regulations are hurting the economy has already been so thoroughly debunked, it’s safe to conclude that anyone who repeats it is not to be trusted. But there’s another angle to the talking point that’s equally important: Obama hasn’t approved massive new regulations.

    President Barack Obama’s “tsunami” of new government regulations looks more like a summer swell.

    Obama’s White House has approved fewer regulations than his predecessor George W. Bush at this same point in their tenures, and the estimated costs of those rules haven’t reached the annual peak set in fiscal 1992 under Bush’s father, according to government data reviewed by Bloomberg News. […]

    Obama’s White House approved 613 federal rules during the first 33 months of his term, 4.7 percent fewer than the 643 cleared by President George W. Bush’s administration in the same time frame, according to an Office of Management and Budget statistical database reviewed by Bloomberg.

    I don’t recall the squeals from the right about job-killing regulations strangling the economy in 2003. Perhaps I missed it.

    Michael Livermore, executive director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law, told Bloomberg the regulatory issue is “getting picked up and talked about, but not for any good reason.”

    In fairness, it’s worth noting that the cost of the regulations is slightly higher under Obama than Bush, but adjusted for inflation, Obama’s regulations are still far less costly than rules approved under George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

    For that matter, it’s also worth emphasizing that federal government regulations are not necessarily bad things. There’s no need to concede the premise of the conservative argument here — Cass Sunstein, the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the White House, told Bloomberg we’re talking about rules that help ensure healthier children, safer roads, and fewer industrial accidents, which in turn offer societal and financial benefits.

    Still, taken together, every element of the Republican argument is demonstrably false. The GOP talking point is predicated on the notion that there’s been an unprecedented wave of new regulations, undermining the economy, and harming the country. None of this is even remotely true.

    Ideally, this would lead Republicans to pick some other talking point, but (a) these folks rarely let reality interfere with a favored argument; and (b) with Obama already having approved massive tax cuts, the GOP doesn’t have anything else to talk about.

  21. rikyrah says:

    Florida Governor’s Call for Drug Tests on Those in Need of Welfare Stopped

    Remember back in March when we told you about Florida’s governor Rick Scott (R), preparing to require any potential welfare recipient to first pay a $35 fee for a drug test before they could be eligible? Well, the law went into effect in July, but now a judge has put the smacketh down and stopped the enforcement of the new requirement…at least for now.
    According to CNN, a Florida judge temporarily took the heat off potential welfare recipients until the state could figure out how they can give families aid without violating their civil rights. The ACLU put pressure on the state saying that this law was a constitutional violation:

    “I’m delighted for our client and delighted to have confirmation that all of us remain protected from unreasonable, suspicionless government searches and seizures,” said Florida ACLU attorney Maria Kayanan in a written statement.
    Luis Lebron is an unemployed single father, who is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy, caring for his disabled mother and his son and he couldn’t get temporary cash assistance because he refused to take the mandatory drug test. Lebron got the ACLU involved and the rest is a win for the people. So for now, Florida residents can get help without Uncle Sam treating them like drugged up criminals. Read the full story here.

  22. Ametia says:

    October 25, 2011 9:57 PM
    CBO: Top 1% getting exponentially richer

    (CBS News) The Occupy Wall Street movement has, for the most part, been formed around the idea that wealth distribution in America is unfair, and that the economic system is skewed to reward the already wealthy with the highest gains. A new report from the Congressional Budget Office appears to have confirmed that.

    Specifically, it has confirmed that the rich really are getting richer.

    Between 1979 and 2007, the top 1 percent of Americans with the highest incomes have seen their incomes grow by an average of 275 percent, according to the CBO study (PDF).

    In comparison, the 60 percent of Americans in the middle of the income scale saw their incomes increase by just 40 percent during the same time period, according to the study, which was based on a combination of IRS and Census data.

    To put the growing disparity of income distribution in a slightly different perspective: Between 2005 and 2007, the top one-fifth of earners in America earned more money than the bottom fourth-fifths.

    The report declines to offer exact reasons for the growing income disparity, but acknowledges they are likely to include: Growing “superstar” salaries for actors, athletes and musicians; Changes in executive compensation; and the growth of firms in general.

  23. Ametia says:

    Oct 26, 10:14 AM EDT
    AP: Insider charges for ex-Goldman board member
    Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) — A person with knowledge of the case says a former Goldman Sachs board member who has surrendered in New York City has been indicted on insider trading charges.

    The FBI says Rajat Gupta surrendered Wednesday but gave no further details.

    The person cited the charges for The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the indictment has not yet been made public.

    Gupta’s name played prominently at the trial of former hedge fund titan Raj Rajaratnam (rahj rah-juh-RUHT’-nuhm), convicted this year of insider trading. Jurors heard wiretaps of the men discussing what prosecutors portrayed as inside information about Goldman Sachs.

    Rajaratnam got 11 years in prison.

    Gupta’s lawyer says the allegations are “totally baseless.”

    THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

    A former Goldman Sachs board member surrendered to federal authorities Wednesday to face criminal charges stemming from a massive hedge fund insider trading case.

  24. rikyrah says:

    Feds: Rick Perry-Signed Texas Redistricting Plan Reduces Voting Power Of 479,704 Hispanics

    Ryan J. Reilly October 26, 2011, 6:00 AM 17029There is “ample circumstantial evidence” that the congressional and state representative redistricting maps signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry had not only the effect but the intent of limiting the voting power of Hispanic voters, Justice Department lawyers said in a court filing late Tuesday.

    DOJ is seeking the block the maps, filing to deny Texas’ request for summary judgement in a case involving allegations that officials in the state tried to limit the voter power of Hispanic voters in violation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

    Federal lawyers contended in the newest filing that there is “ample circumstantial evidence of a discriminatory purpose with regard to both the State House and Congressional plans” and that in the new maps nearly half a million fewer Hispanics would live in districts where they would have the ability to elect a candidate of their choosing.

    “The proposed Congressional redistricting plan has a retrogressive effect because, compared to the benchmark plan, it decreases the percentage of districts in the Congressional plan in which minority voters have the ability to elect and because under the proposed plan 479,704 fewer Hispanics will reside in districts in which they have an ability to elect a candidate of choice,” lawyers with DOJ’s Civil Rights Division write. “Both plans were also adopted with a discriminatory purpose, and there are a substantial number of material facts in dispute with regard to both prongs of the Section 5 standard.”

    Race and ethnicity, the lawyers wrote “were common themes during discussions between the Republican leadership and others, including a United States Congressman and staff. State leaders viewed race as a proxy for party, leading to redistricting decisions and movements of population based solely on the basis of race.”

    The member of Congress in question is Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) — who as it so happens chairs the House Judiciary Committee, which has primary oversight over DOJ. Smith’s emails are cited as an example of officials plotting to protect their electoral interests while taking race into account.

    Talking Points Memo on Facebook“While the existence of contemporaneous statements of direct racial intent related to current redistricting efforts may be rare, the email exchanges between United States Congressional representatives and staff, and State officials involved in devising the State’s plans, provide riveting circumstantial evidence bearing witness to the process discussed above, where data as to race and ethnicity rather than partisan data drove the line drawing for the proposed Congressional plan, and where the State sought to exclude minority representatives from the redistricting process,” DOJ lawyers said in reference to emails to and from Smith.

    A redistricting expert hired by DOJ, Theodore S. Arrington, contended in a study included in the filing that the emails showed that Republicans and officials conspired to “make sure that no one who might look out for minority voters would be included” and that participants in the emails were aware of the “trade-offs between drawing minority election districts” and GOP prospects.

    Justice Department officials said the only way this could be settled is for the facts to come out in court.

    “Deviations from procedural and substantive standards, as well as racially-charged contemporaneous statements, also provide significant evidence of a discriminatory purpose,” DOJ lawyers argue. “The State has presented little evidence concerning the intent of the proposed plan, but the legislative staff who crafted the map and legislators closely involved in the process have provided conflicting testimony. Assessing the credibility of these witnesses and resolving other disputed factual issues cannot be performed until trial.”

  25. rikyrah says:

    October 26, 2011
    Who’s up, who’s down, and who cares?

    Little in today’s politics is so utterly useless as our daily tremors over who’s up and who’s down in the GOP’s presidential brawl, and then forecasting the political winds of November, 2012. The election is months, years, centuries, eons away. Current predictions may entertain and satisfy the journalistic compulsion to vacantly occupy vacant space, nonetheless there’s not only a Heisenberg uncertainty principle in play, there are also tomorrow’s unintended consequences of today, as well as dumb luck, random chance, international maybes and domestic contingencies and hazardous externals and ticklish internals.

    In sum, nobody knows a damn thing, but everyone’s guessing within oracular auras. That, or they’re palsied with fear. This item, from perhaps the nation’s most prominent political has-been and notorious largemouth, triggered my musings:

    Everything worries me in this environment [said James Carville in a radio interview]. Nobody’s gotten [re]elected with these kinds of numbers. So, I’m worried in the general election. I profoundly admit that.

    I suppose that means that Carville is profoundly worried, which he admits. In either case, he then goes on, effectively, to eviscerate any real cause for worry about Obama’s reelection. He dismisses Mitt Romney as a “windsock of a guy,” he “trashes” (to quote Politico) Rick Perry, and, in harmonious accord with what’s left of our rational universe, he rightly affirms that Herman Cain “is not going to be the president of anything.”

    So what’s to worry? Put another way, What am I missing, James? We are justifiably anticipating a contest between an immensely competent incumbent and some draftee from the Cyclopean Losers Corps, and you’re worried about … everything?

    What’s more, Carville even more rightly previews the average GOP voter’s enormous dilemma:

    [I]f I had a conservative worldview and I was looking for our next election to have somebody to articulate that view, I would be unbelievably disappointed.

    And that, I would say, is indeed the one certainty of 2012: Every pseudoconservative jackass will be disappointed with Romney, and every traditional conservative (all three or four of them) will be disappointed with virtually anyone else. From that stated certainty we move to the reasonable guesswork of probabilities: a third-party split or stay-at-home-ism of the anti-Obama vote.

    But see? There I go, committing the very transgression that I scorned in the opening. Yet, what the hell, there are worse social sins — and the real mother’s milk of politics isn’t so much money as it is hypocrisy.

  26. rikyrah says:

    The Vanity of Liberal Perfectionism
    Posted on 10/26/2011 at 7:23 am by Bob Cesca

    Robert Parry wrote a fantastic item about the self-defeating tendencies of the far-left, and the trendy refusal to accept the president’s successes — including the end of the Iraq war. This passage was particularly solid:

    However, some on the American Left operate under what might be called “the vanity of perfectionism,” the notion that what’s most important is to have the “perfect” analysis even if its consequences are destructive to mankind.

    Thus, flawed political leaders who compromise are judged as no better than extremely dangerous ones who would initiate wars like the bloody mess in Iraq – or who would ignore long-term threats like global warming.

    In Campaign 2000, Al Gore had shortcomings, but he was not the same as George W. Bush. To pretend otherwise was not only wrongheaded, it was reckless. It kept the race close enough for Bush to steal the White House.

    The result was that many people died unnecessarily and the future of the planet was put at greater risk by Bush’s hostility to warnings about global warming.

    And this section, regarding the SOFA and the end of the war, relates to something I wrote yesterday:

    This final withdrawal of U.S. troops at the insistence of the Iraqi government – and with Obama’s acquiescence – is a very big deal. Oddly, it is being acknowledged more by the Right than the Left, with prominent Republicans condemning Obama’s announcement as an admission of U.S. defeat.

    That’s because the neocons saw Bush’s SOFA as only a holding action and expected that the U.S. government would twist the arms of the Iraqis to get them to accept a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq. The neocons are now condemning Obama for not doing so.

    But none of this plays to the disillusioned neo-PUMAs on the far-left who are more content to whine and stomp than to accept facts and political realities, as well as to the bloggers who have decided to milk this demographic.

  27. rikyrah says:

    Some Comforting Polling Data
    by BooMan
    Tue Oct 25th, 2011 at 09:12:53 PM EST

    There’s a lot of interesting data in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, most of which I consider positive news for the president and the Democrats. The president has a 46% approval rating. Congress has a 9% approval rating. Congress’s approval rating has fallen 22% since the Tan Man took over the House of Representatives. The president’s approval numbers appear to be relatively stable, but his 46%/46% approve/disapprove rating has slipped from 49%/39% since the January New York Times/CBS News poll.

    Two-thirds of Americans feel wealth should be shared more equally, and 70% think Republican policies favor the rich.

    Congressional Republicans are viewed even worse than the president, with 71 percent of the public saying the party does not have a clear plan for creating jobs. And support for several other Republican proposals is more tepid than for Mr. Obama’s initiatives to lift the economy.
    Only about a quarter of the public said that lowering taxes on large corporations or repealing the entire national health care law was a good idea. But half of the public favors reducing or repealing regulations on businesses in the United States.

    So, here’s the deal. The people aren’t buying anything the Republicans are selling. They aren’t interested in repealing ObamaCare. They want higher taxes on the rich, not lower. They oppose cutting corporate taxes. They don’t think the Republicans have an economic plan, and they don’t like any of the Republican ideas that are presented to them. They hate Congress, never more so than since the Republicans gained so much power at the beginning of this year. If McConnell and Boehner keep it up, their approval rating may go lower than the poll’s margin of error. Seriously. They’re polling at 9% approval. And, what’s more, they hate the Republican presidential candidates. Even the Republicans hate them.

    With the nation’s first Republican nominating contests just two months away, a large majority of primary voters have yet to make up their minds about the candidate they hope becomes their nominee. About 8 in 10 Republican primary voters said it was still too early to tell whom they will support, and just 4 in 10 said they had been paying a lot of attention to the race.
    Mr. Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, is riding the latest wave of support among Republican primary voters that has placed him in a statistical dead heat with Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. Support for Mr. Perry has weakened to 6 percent, placing him among the second-tier candidates with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Representative Ron Paul of Texas.

    Does anyone else think that the Governor of Texas should be polling better than six percent? I know he’s not a good debater, but neither was Bush. Did you notice how all his support vanished instantaneously when he said that denying discounted in-state tuition to the children of undocumented workers is heartless? Despite an almost ludicrously conservative record as governor, with one hint of compassion and empathy, his campaign seemingly went up in smoke.

    So, here we are. It’s Romney versus the guy with the stupid commercials who has no campaign infrastructure whatsoever. It’s the guy who killed Usama bin-Laden versus the human flapjack.

    I wish I knew that we are going to win this thing. I can’t even imagine losing. If we do, it will because of this:

    Not only do 89 percent of Americans say they distrust government to do the right thing, but 74 percent say the country is on the wrong track and 84 percent disapprove of Congress — warnings for Democrats and Republicans alike.

    McConnell’s Plan has ramped up distrust of government to a near universal level. And that is what the Republicans will work with.

  28. rikyrah says:

    October 26, 2011 8:40 AM

    Revulsion towards Congress reaches historic levels

    By Steve Benen

    There’s quite a bit to chew on in the newly-released New York Times/CBS News poll, which shows a public burdened with “a deep sense of economic anxiety and doubt about the future hangs over the nation.” As a result, the concerns raised by the Occupy Wall Street movement are resonating with much of the country.

    But the number that stood out for me was Congress’ approval rating.

    A remarkable sense of pessimism and skepticism was apparent in question after question in the survey, which found that Congressional approval has reached a new low at 9 percent. The disapproval toward Congress has risen 22 percentage points since the beginning of the year when Republicans took control of the House.

    When was the last time Congress, as an institution, saw its approval rating drop to single digits? Never. The institution has never been popular, but since the dawn of modern polling, we’ve never seen the legislative branch of government that repulses Americans as much as this one.

    Congratulations, Republicans. Less than a year after riding your big midterm wave, you’ve generated buyers’ remorse on a historic level.

    Also note, President Obama’s approval rating, at least in this poll, is holding steady at 46%. That means, of course, that for all of the president’s political difficulties, Obama enjoys more than five times as much support as Congress.

    Now, there’s ample reason to believe congressional Republicans just don’t care. Sure, Americans are disgusted with developments on Capitol Hill, but if voters are inclined to take out their frustrations on the president, even if they agree with him, GOP leaders have an incentive to continue with their scorched-earth strategy. If they keep this up, as they fully intend to do, perhaps the American mainstream will further give up on their public institutions, advancing the Republican Party’s larger goals anyway.

    That said, with the institution’s approval rating dropping to an astounding 9%, even Republicans have to appreciate the electoral volatility that comes with these attitudes — a combustible climate that could, for example, sweep the GOP out of the House majority.

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

    But the same NYT/CBS poll shows Americans under the impression that Republicans only care about catering to the rich, and don’t have a jobs plan at all. There’s also a strong public demand for addressing economic inequalities — a desire GOP officials consider offensive at a fundamental level.

    With this in mind, if congressional Republicans, perhaps motivated by self-interest, wanted to boost the institution’s approval rating, they could do so rather easily — they could work with Democrats on a jobs bill, among other things. The poll found that 80% of Americans believe it’s a good idea to create jobs by investing in infrastructure, for example.

    If Republicans would approve an ambitious infrastructure bill, they’d likely see Congress’ approval rating get back into double digits.

  29. rikyrah says:

    October 26, 2011 8:05 AM

    Romney’s ‘huge freaking deal’

    By Steve Benen

    At this point in the morning yesterday, it looked like the biggest political screw-up of the day would be Rick Perry’s latest Birther flirtations. As it turns out, though as ridiculous as this was, it was eclipsed rather easily.

    Mitt Romney visited a Republican campaign headquarters in Ohio, fighting tooth and nail to protect a Republican measure to undermine collective-bargaining right. The GOP presidential frontrunner, however, aware of the polls showing public opposition to the law, refused to endorse the law his party is trying to save.

    This one incident reinforced the worst of the perceptions surrounding Romney. After all, what’s the knock on the former governor? He’s an unprincipled flip-flopper, who cares about polls than convictions, and will say literally anything to advance his political ambitions. And in one swing through Ohio, Romney confirmed that his critics are right.

    It wasn’t long before conservatives — some sympathetic to Romney, some not — were expressing their disgust. Here was the Club for Growth’s take, for example:

    The big problem many conservatives have with Mitt Romney is that he’s taken both sides of nearly every issue important to us. He’s against a flat tax, now he’s for it. He says he’s against ObamaCare, but was for the individual mandate and susbidies that are central to ObamaCare. He thinks that collective bargaining issues should be left for states to decide if he’s Ohio, but he took the opposite position when he was in New Hampshire. This is just another statement in a long line of statements that will raise more doubts about what kind of President Mitt Romney would be in the minds of many Republican primary voters.”

    Soon after, other prominent far-right voices were equally incensed.

    Certainly if one of the Presidential candidates were to go to the state, show up, and were asked about it, we’d expect them to be supportive of both efforts,” said Brendan Steinhauser, the Federal and State Campaigns Director at FreedomWorks in an interview with TPM. “This is a no brainer for any of the Presidential candidate to get behind. We’re disappointed but not surprised in Romney’s lack of support.” […]

    “This is a huge freaking deal,” wrote Red State founder Erick Erickson. “Playing it too safe is finally biting Romney in the rear end. He’s refused to call social security a Ponzi scheme. He’s refused to offer bold economic reform plans. He’s refused to address significant changes in entitlement reforms. His whole campaign has centered around tapioca.”

    There were plenty of others offering similar condemnations.

    Making matters slightly worse, Politico discovered that Romney actually endorsed the Ohio law in June, only to back off yesterday after seeing the polls. In other words, Romney is now refusing to express support for a key Republican policy that he’s already endorsed.

    And as a strategic matter, if Romney reversed course again yesterday in response to the uproar, and re-endorsed the anti-collective-bargaining measure, he’d look even weaker.

    I don’t know whose bright idea is was to send Romney to Ohio, have him rally the troops at a call center, and then refuse to support the policy they’re fighting for, but one thing appears certain: this unforced error is going to leave a mark.

  30. rikyrah says:

    Romney: I Support Birth Control Because It ‘Prevents Conception’
    By Marie Diamond on Oct 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    At a campaign event in Iowa today, GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney was confronted by a woman in the audience about his support for so-called “personhood” laws that would define life as beginning at conception, effectively outlawing common forms of birth control. “98% of American women, including me, use birth control,” she said, “so could you help me understand why you oppose the use of birth control?”

    Romney answered simply, “I don’t” — a surprising departure from the rest of the field’s radicalized anti-contraception views. Romney explained that his support of birth control is not inconsistent with his anti-abortion stance because, “I believe life begins at conception and birth control prevents conception.” Watch it:

    As the woman pointed out, however, Romney studiously avoided commenting on the stickier side of this issue — whether he supports hormonal contraception (like birth control pills) that can also prevent eggs from being implanted, which many conservatives think is tantamount to abortion.

    Romney was also less-than-straight about his pro-states’ rights approach to abortion. Although he claimed, “I would like to see the Supreme Court return this right to the states,” he has recently pledged to push for federal abortion restrictions.

    Romney has a mixed record when it comes to supporting women’s access to safe, effective contraception. In an effort to pander to social conservatives powerful in the Republican base, Romney said he would expand a Bush-era rule that allows doctors to deny women access to contraceptives.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Why Mitt Romney’s Medicaid Cuts Are Even More Draconian Than Paul Ryan’s
    By Igor Volsky on Oct 25, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Medicaid, which is funded jointly by the states and the federal government, provides health coverage to approximately 53 million lower income Americans. The federal government matches state spending on a per-claim basis and pays a percentage of each state’s Medicaid costs (anywhere between 50 and 75 percent). Conservatives like House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and the GOP presidential contenders have proposed reducing the federal government’s commitment to the program by block granting Medicaid and paying states pre-established grants that may not reflect actual costs. The reduction in federal spending would require states to either appropriate additional funding towards Medicaid or lower program expenditures by cutting provider payment rates, limiting eligibility, and reducing benefits, the CBO has concluded.

    Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) has endorsed Ryan’s block grant proposal, and yesterday, during a radio interview with Sean Hannity, he revealed that his cuts to Medicaid could be even more draconian than Ryan’s. Ryan already aims to shrink the federal government’s contribution to Medicaid by 35 percent in 2022, converting the existing federal matching rate for each state into a block grant and growing the grant by approximately 3 percent annually (as compared to the estimated 6.5 percent to 7 percent annual growth* in federal expenditures that would occur under current law). Romney told Hannity that he would grow his Medicaid block grants by just 1 to 2 percent per year:

    ROMNEY: It’s mathematically pretty straight forward how you hold down costs, which is you say, we’re going to cut it by a certain amount and then comes the hard work of saying where you’re going to cut it. And that why I’ve laid out a plan that balances our budget…taking Medicaid and giving it back to the states and growing it only 1 to 2 percent a year.


    Comparatively, Romney’s reductions would result in even steeper cuts that would affect tens of millions of low-income Medicaid beneficiaries — seniors in nursing homes, people with disabilities, children — for whom the program has become a critical source of coverage. A very rough back-of-the envelope calculation using the CBO’s projected federal Medicaid expenditures for 2012 as a baseline (and then growing that number by 1.5 percent annually through 2021) demonstrates the sheer magnitude of Rommey’s cuts as compared to current law and Ryan’s plan. The results show that Romney could reduce the size of the program by more than 40 percent over that period:

  32. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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