Serendipity SOUL | Tuesday Open Thread | “Trane” Week

Make it a great day, Everybody!

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54 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Tuesday Open Thread | “Trane” Week

  1. @BreakingNews:

    Live video: Obama arrives in Australia; Will meet with PM before a joint media conference –

  2. US President Barack Obama, center, arrives in his presidential limo at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Field, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 in Honolulu. Obama is flying to Australia after hosting 2011 APEC Summit on Oahu last week.

  3. “MITT ROMNEY: Our Veterans Deserve Better”

  4. rikyrah says:

    Move Along Now, Nothing to See Here

    by John Cole

    The NY Times notices the rich are getting richer and the poor, well, you know the drill:

    At Wal-Mart, shoppers cut back on staples like milk and meat that had price increases of a few cents. At Saks Fifth Avenue, they paid full price for shoes and designer fashions at a rate higher than before the recession.
    As several big chains reported third-quarter results on Tuesday, the divide between hard-pressed and prosperous Americans continued to be a defining characteristic of the retail economy.

    “Clearly it’s a bifurcated market,” said Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and chief executive of Saks, in an interview. “The high-end consumer is much more tied to the stock market and the Dow and how they’re feeling about their personal situation, more so than the lower end of the market,” where concerns about gas prices and unemployment were more prevalent.

    The rarified air of a Saks CEO. The reason the poor and working class are cutting back on necessities like meat and milk isn’t because they are “more concerned,” it’s because THEY’RE FUCKING BROKE AND HAVE NO JOB. You may cut back on luxuries out of concern, but you don’t cut back on feeding your family unless you have no money. You may say to yourself “the market really took a dive, so I guess I’ll hold off on that Bugatti,” but no one says “the market was down a touch, I think I’ll starve the kids.” Wanker. I’m to the point now that I think any asshole making stupid remarks like this should be forced to wear a top hat and monocle in public so everyone knows to kick them in the junk.

    Maybe that cheating scumbag John Edwards was on to something. At any rate, it looks like the days of the rich feeling guilty about conspicuous consumption are over.

  5. rikyrah says:

    awe, the MSM has a sad. all that GOP water carrying, and it still comes to this….

    and just to think….


    say it with me with mocking sarcasm…



    PPP: Obama Takes A Lead Over Romney

    Kyle Leighton November 15, 2011, 2:55 PM 10664 94

    Public Policy Polling (D) released new numbers on Tuesday showing President Barack Obama up on former Mass Gov. Mitt Romney by three points. The two men were tied last month at 45 percent in PPP’s polling in the most competitive pairing between the President and any of his possible GOP foes: the rest of the field is down by between 6 and 11 percent.

    The President’s approval stands at only 45 percent against 51 percent disapproval, but the Republican candidates continue to have problems on the favorability side. The most liked candidate is new GOP flame Newt Gingrich at 39 percent favorable versus 50 percent unfavorable, a surprising jump of nine points on the positive side from a 30 – 56 split in last month’s PPP national poll. Romney is second in the favorability column with a 36 – 50 split, and the other candidates are further down.

    Probably the most incredible number in the poll is Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s favorability rating, down to 18 percent, versus 67 percent unfavorable. The only recent comparable candidate with an unfavorable rating that high was former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s rating in PPP’s August poll, when she hit 62 percent.

    Businessman Herman Cain’s position in the poll, after sustaining an onslaught over sex allegations levied against him, actually didn’t change all that much. Cain was down six to Obama in October when he was on top of the GOP race, and is down eight in the new PPP numbers. The slight movement illustrates that with all the shifting on the Republican side, there still only remains one candidate that has done consistently well against President Obama, which is Romney.

    Yet, Romney himself is slipping against the President in this month’s survey. “This is one of Barack Obama’s better performances in our polling in recent months,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling in a release. “It’s only the second time since June we’ve found him with a lead over Mitt Romney.” And PPP’s own analysis suggested that the electability argument may not just include Romney anymore.

    Most notable is that he leads Mitt Romney 46-43. This only the second time in the last 5 months that PPP has found Obama ahead of his top rival. Romney’s net favorability has dropped 8 points in the last month from -6 (37/43) to -14 (36/50). Romney is pretty steady with Republicans, but his numbers have gone down with both independents (from 48/34 to 41/40) and with Democrats (from 19/59 to 18/68).

    The electability gap between Romney and the rest of the Republican field is becoming a little bit narrower. Newt Gingrich is surging for the general election as well as the primary and has turned what was an 11 point deficit against Obama last month into only a 6 point one now at 49-43. Gingrich’s improvement has come across the board- he’s doing 7 points better with independents, 4 points better with Democrats, and 4 points better with Republicans.

  6. Garth Brooks comments on the Obama Presidency

    Huh? Garth Brooks said that?

    ….. Well… Ivvvvv’ve got friends in low places
    Where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases
    My blues away
    And I’ll be okay

  7. rikyrah says:

    It’s Grover’s World. No, Not the Muppet

    by BooMan
    Tue Nov 15th, 2011 at 07:12:18 PM EST

    Grover Norquist has them by the short and curlies, and he’s not concerned about recent talk of tax increases from the Super Committee:

    In an interview, Norquist said the Republican members of the panel had made a political point by “showing a little ankle” on new revenue — proving that Democrats would not accept major entitlement reform even coupled higher taxes.

    But he acknowledged he found the Republican proposal “problematic” and that if Democrats had said yes to the deal, he would have then pushed the panel to rethink the tax offer.

    And he offered a stark warning to committee chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) not to offer further taxes.

    “I would say that Mr. Hensarling might want to call George Herbert Walker Bush and see how his second term went,” Norquist said in an interview. Bush lost reelection in 1992 after breaking a promise not to raise taxes.

    Even if Republican supercommittee members do sign off on a deal to raise taxes, Norquist said he was confident Republican House members would withhold their support.

    “Three guys suffering Stockholm syndrome because they’ve spent too much time caucusing with Democrats are not going to get Republican to break the pledges they’ve made to their constituents” not to raise taxes, Norquist said.

    So, now the Democrats are the hostage takers?


  8. rikyrah says:

    Putting Sandusky’s Interview Under The Microscope

    A reader writes:

    In another life, I spent a significant amount of time working in penitentiaries, doing drama therapy with pedophiles. I learned a lot – so much of which I wish I could forget these days. I realize that we have to presume innocence, but the data about Sandusky is overwhelming – It parallels everything I learned about pedophiles during my years of working with them.

    They organize their lives around their obsession. They structure their lives in such a way as to continue their abuse. They are extremely devious, and will go to great lengths to get what they want. And, if not caught early enough, they can end up with hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of victims. (One particularly disgusting inmate described at length the kits he carried with him at all time – one in his home, one for travel, one in his car. They included Vaseline, candy, toys, towels, etc. He was constantly in search of victims. His entire life was structured around that search.)

    In listening to the Costas interview, I was drawn back to my days spent in the Massachusetts Treatment Center for Sexually Dangerous Persons in Bridgewater, MA. First, Sandusky exhibits no affect in the interview. There is no outrage, no emotion, no anger, no sadness. Imagine, just for a moment, if YOU were innocent and accused of these horrific crimes. Your emotional state would be intense. His is anything but. This is, sorry to say, classic pedophile affect.

    Second, and most compelling, is his answer to the question: “Are you sexually attracted to young boys – to underage boys?”

    Obviously, if he were innocent, there is only one answer to this question: “No!” (Again, imagine if someone asked you that question. There would be only one answer and it would be emphatic, and probably outraged.)

    But, listen carefully to his response. First, he repeats the question – twice. Next, he outlines his “enjoyment” of young people. Then, he says he “loves to be around them.” Finally, he catches himself and eventually gets to “No,” nearly fifteen seconds after the question is posed. Again, this is classic pedophile. He first attempts to explain himself – almost getting lost in that explanation – before he finally comes to the only obvious answer.

    However, he has no problem answering this question: “Are you a pedophile?” The answer to that question is quick: “No.”

    Why? Because, he absolutely doesn’t believe – in any way – that there is anything wrong with what he has done. He doesn’t believe that pedophilia is wrong – pedophiles never do. They construct vast and complex justifications for their actions, usually centering on the victim, what the victim wanted, and how much pleasure they give their victim. The term itself – pedophilia – is anathema, because it defines, as abnormal, an activity and way of life that they view as perfectly legitimate.

  9. rikyrah says:

    The GOP Won’t Make A Deal

    Ezra Klein wonders whether they will regret it:

    Republicans have not said yes to any of the [budget] deals the Democrats have offered. They continue to assume a better deal is just around the corner, and thus far, they have been right. Currently, they may be assuming that yet a better deal could be struck with, say, President Mitt Romney, and if he wins the election, they may well be right. If Obama wins, a reinvigorated Democratic majority might prove them wrong. But the fact remains: Their strategy of saying no has, thus far, paid great dividends, though not ones Republicans have decided to collect.

  10. rikyrah says:

    What Does The Court Think About Killing The Mandate?

    Scott Lemieux considers the Supreme Court’s choices:

    If the Court strikes down the legislation, the political impact will depend on how the Court does it. The Court has allocated 90 minutes just to the question of whether the individual mandate can be “severed” from the rest of the bill—that is, whether the mandate can be ruled unconstitutional while the rest is kept in place. Ruling that the mandate can be severed from the rest of the ACA would appeal to Kennedy and Roberts for two reasons: They like “minimalist” opinions that don’t go beyond what is necessary, and striking down the relatively unpopular individual mandate would probably not attract a great deal of public opposition. On the other hand, from a Republican perspective, striking down the mandate would have unpredictable consequences. Without it, the ban on discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions in the ACA would potentially destroy the private insurance industry while creating a disastrous insurance price spiral. This could lead to a near-complete repeal of the bill—but it could also lead to a public insurance system. Kennedy must be worried about this possibility.

    Yuval Levin wants conservatives to make the case against the whole law on policy rather than constitutional grounds.

  11. rikyrah says:

    November 15, 2011 3:55 PM
    Tomato paste, like ketchup, is a GOP vegetable

    By Steve Benen

    Thirty years ago, the Reagan administration caused quite a stir when, as part of an effort to save money on school-lunch programs, it considered a proposal to count ketchup as a vegetable. The idea generated widespread ridicule at the time.

    The Associated Press reports that a similar argument is unfolding in Washington once more. The Obama administration, hoping to combat childhood obesity and related health issues, has pushed to bring healthier foods to public schools, following the recommendations by the Institute of Medicine.

    Congressional Republicans have other ideas.

    The final version of a spending bill released late Monday would unravel school lunch standards the Agriculture Department proposed earlier this year. These include limiting the use of potatoes on the lunch line, putting new restrictions on sodium and boosting the use of whole grains. The legislation would block or delay all of those efforts.

    The bill also would allow tomato paste on pizzas to be counted as a vegetable, as it is now. USDA had wanted to only count a half-cup of tomato paste or more as a vegetable, and a serving of pizza has less than that.

    Or, put in a sound-bite sort of way, Republicans think pizzas are vegetables.

    “While it’s unfortunate that some members of Congress continue to put special interests ahead of the health of America’s children, USDA remains committed to practical, science-based standards for school meals,” USDA spokeswoman Courtney Rowe said in a statement.

    Nutrition advocates aren’t happy, either.

    A group of retired generals advocating for healthier school lunches also criticized the spending bill. The group, called Mission: Readiness, has called poor nutrition in school lunches a national security issue because obesity is the leading medical disqualifier for military service.

    “We are outraged that Congress is seriously considering language that would effectively categorize pizza as a vegetable in the school lunch program,” Amy Dawson Taggart, the director of the group, said in a letter to lawmakers before the final bill was released. “It doesn’t take an advanced degree in nutrition to call this a national disgrace.”

  12. Donald Fitzpatrick Sex Scandal: Former Boston Red Sox Manager Preyed On Boys Decades Ago

    Editor’s Note: This story contains graphic subject matter that may be upsetting to some readers.

    Long before revelations that former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky had allegedly sexually abused a number of at-risk youth, another high-profile predator used the cover of athletics to molest young boys.

    Between 1971 and 1991, Donald Fitzpatrick, a long-time Red Sox clubhouse manager, systematically molested and abused nearly a dozen African-American boys in their hometown of Winter Haven, Florida, where the baseball team held their Spring training.

    “He grabbed me and told me to take my clothes off,” Leeronnie Ogletree, who said Fitzpatrick lured him into years of molestation when he was just 10, told “I’ll never forget him putting his mouth on my penis. I don’t mind telling it now because I’m over it. But that stands out. And I’ll never forget it.”

  13. rikyrah says:

    Why do GOP Morons Want to Be President?
    by BooMan
    Tue Nov 15th, 2011 at 01:08:19 PM EST

    I presume by now you have all seen the video of Herman Cain trying, and failing, to answer a simple question about the president’s policy towards Libya. He actually upstaged Sarah Palin’s interview with Katie Couric and Rick Perry’s meltdown at a recent debate. It appeared from the video that Mr. Cain was struggling to remember whether Libya was the country where the United States had intervened to protect civilians and to drive Gaddafi from power. Palin, Perry, and Cain are all examples of candidates who know nothing about the world who think they should run our government.
    Thinking about it, I am reminded that Ronald Reagan didn’t choose an ignoramus as a running mate. Even though he didn’t much care for him, he chose George H.W. Bush to be his vice-president. Poppy Bush’s résumé included a stint in the Pacific during the war, a successful business career, two terms in Congress, serving as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation, as (essentially) our ambassador to Red China, and directing the Central Intelligence Agency. As vice-president, Bush basically ran Reagan’s National Security Council. When Bush succeeded Reagan in the Oval Office, he was well-prepared to deal with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet Union. He also knew that Gaddhafi ruled over Libya.

    Maybe it was his own confidence in foreign policy expertise that led him to pick a foolish neophyte as his vice-president. Dan Quayle was a ridiculous pick and totally unprepared to be president if the need had arose. Similarly, President Nixon chose a partisan buffoon, Spiro Agnew, to be his vice-president. Nixon never asked Agnew’s advice about anything. But if Agnew hadn’t been forced to resign over corruption charges arising from his time as the governor of Maryland, he would have been our 38th president. Think about that.

    There is a strain of know-nothingness that has run through the Republican Party in the post-war years. We’ve had competent, but flawed, presidents like Eisenhower, Nixon, and Poppy Bush. We muddled through with Reagan, who was able to lean on Bush in many circumstances. But we’ve also flirted with Agnew and Quayle and Palin. And we had the absolute disaster of George W. Bush’s two-term presidency.

    And look at the field of candidates the Republicans are providing to us this time around. It’s really an insult that they want us to seriously consider Herman Cain or Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann as potential presidents. They literally know nothing about anything, and what they think they know is wrong. We have Gingrich prattling on about the dangers of Shariah Law. He have Romney wanting to stay in Iraq, double the size of Gitmo, and zero out all our foreign aid commitments. The only candidate in the field who resembles a real presidential candidate is Jon Huntsman, who (campaign rhetoric aside) is at least is worldly enough to have some clue how to behave on the international stage.

    I know Dennis Kucinich has a quirky idea or two, but you can go back to JFK and not find any Democratic presidential candidates who were one-tenth as unprepared to be president as the majority of the current Republican candidates. I’m not talking about ideology. I’m talking about being able to find foreign countries on a map. You have Michele Bachmann decrying democratic governments in the Arab world and asking us to emulate communist China in our social policies. Nothing like that ever happened on the Democratic side.

    I just think it is dangerous that we have one party in our two-party system that puts absolutely no premium on knowledge. These candidates should know better than to run. And the people should know better than to support them.

  14. BashirLive:

    President Obama says, aloha, Hawaii…heads to Australia to bolster US footprint in Pacific…

  15. I have to re-post. It’s simply wonderful to see. We have such a compassionate President. Looks as if he’s praying. I thank God we have him as our President. We have to re-elect him for 4 more years

  16. Obama SURGES In New Polls

    President Barack Obama is now polling even with a generic Republican candidate in a new Gallup poll — a measure by which he was down by eight percent in recent months — a sign that he is turning his presidency around after a miserable few months.

    Incumbents running for reelection underperform in this sort of poll, which allows voters to imagine their ideal candidate running against Obama. When placed in a head-to-head match-up with the GOP field, Obama performs even better.

  17. rikyrah says:

    November 15, 2011 10:40 AM

    Romney, Perry offer Dems an opportunity on Israel
    By Steve Benen

    In Saturday night’s debate for Republican presidential candidates, several leading candidates, including Mitt Romney, endorsed a controversial policy: starting the foreign aid budget of every country at zero. Whether the candidates thought this through or not, the policy would include Israel, which relies heavily on U.S. aid.

    This created an opportunity for Democrats, which they seized on yesterday

    President Obama’s friends are trying to keep the spotlight on Republican presidential candidates’ suggestion during last weekend’s debate that foreign aid to all countries — including Israel — should start at zero.

    In a call with reporters late Monday afternoon, [Robert] Wexler, a former Florida congressman who is aiding the campaign’s Jewish voter outreach efforts, said the Republican candidates Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were “troubling” and suggested that the candidates would undermine the U.S-Israel relationship.

    “What I find most troubling about the policy position that Perry, Romney and Gingrich all took with great enthusiasm is that no one on the stage seemed to be aware of or honor the 2007 memorandum of understanding that was reached between the United States and Israel — the result being that America agreed to provide $30 billion of military aid to Israel over the following decade,” said Wexler.

    Romney’s campaign keeps pushing the line that the former governor was only talking about one country — Pakistan — but his comment at the debate is clearly at odds with the explanation: “[O]ne of the things we have to do with our foreign aid commitments, the ongoing foreign aid commitments, I agree with Governor Perry. You start everything at zero.”

    This story gained some traction over the last couple of days in West Palm Beach, home to a large Jewish population, and in Jewish media like the Forward.

    Republicans had to realize this was coming. They’ve spent years desperately trying to drive a wedge between President Obama and Jewish voters, even manufacturing an outrage when the president agreed with the Netanyahu line on ‘67 borders with agreed-upon land swaps.

    Given this history, when Romney & Co. indirectly endorsed an end to U.S. financial support for Israel, is it any wonder the DNC decided to take advantage?

    Don’t be surprised if this issue comes up again next year if Romney (or Perry for the matter) is the Republican nominee. The Obama campaign would welcome the opportunity to tell Jewish voters, “Romney has vowed to eliminate all aid to Israel, and force our Israeli allies to sing for their supper,” and the message will have the added benefit of being true.

  18. rikyrah says:

    On immigration, Marco Rubio urges the right to tone it down
    By Alex Leary, Times Staff Writer
    In Print: Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    With growing signs that Hispanic voters are turned off to GOP positions on immigration, Sen. Marco Rubio is trying to use his national profile to deliver a message to his party: Tone it down.

    “The Republican Party should not be labeled as the anti-illegal immigration party. Republicans need to be the pro-legal immigration party,” the Florida lawmaker said Monday on Fox News.

    The appearance follows other efforts in the past two weeks — including a story in the Wall Street Journal and a speech in Texas — in which Rubio has criticized inflammatory immigration rhetoric.

    “You’re talking about somebody’s mothers and grandmothers and brothers and sisters,” Rubio, the 40-year-old son of Cuban immigrants, said in Dallas.

    His efforts constitute a tricky act of political maneuvering. Rubio, viewed by GOP leaders as a powerful draw for Hispanics, is trying to sound a more welcoming note without alienating the grass roots conservatives who swept him into office in 2010 and who are vociferously pushing for tighter enforcement.

    And his willingness to step out on a contentious issue is sure to fuel talk that he’s interested in a vice presidential spot, despite repeatedly insisting otherwise.

    Rubio even visited the U.S.-Mexico border while in Texas, going to a spot near where President Barack Obama visited after criticism that Obama had not seen the security challenge for himself.

    “It’s safe to say that he (Rubio) feels an incentive to build up his image,” said Stanford University political science professor Gary M. Segura.

    Segura does polling for Latino Decisions, which released a survey last week showing Hispanics still favor Obama by a wide margin nationally.

    A recent Suffolk University poll showed that if Rubio were on the ballot, the Republican presidential nominee would win Florida. For all his popularity in Florida, however, Rubio is still little known among Hispanics in other states.

    Rubio has not pointed fingers when criticizing harmful rhetoric though there are plentiful examples, including presidential candidate Herman Cain’s suggestion that the United States build an electric fence at the border.

  19. rikyrah says:

    How Students at Historically Black Colleges Drove the Mississippi “Personhood” Defeat
    When I was asked to come to Mississippi about three weeks ago to organize students against Initiative 26, or the so-called “personhood” amendment, I honestly did not know if we even had a chance of winning. The amendment could have made abortion illegal and banned hormonal birth control, including the Pill. Because Mississippi, the bedrock of the Bible Belt, has a deep-rooted history of racism, sexism and classism, I knew it would be an uphill battle to mobilize students quickly against this initiative. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming outrage students expressed when they learned about the implications of Initiative 26.

    I helped organize students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in Mississippi, including Jackson State University, Alcorn State University and Tougaloo College. When I did my first classroom announcement at Jackson State about Initiative 26, students were outraged about how this initiative could affect access the Pill, and they volunteered to get involved and spread the message to their peers and classmates. Though the majority of students on campuses across the state were barely familiar with the initiative when I and other Feminist Majority Foundation organizers arrived, it did not take long for students to realize that their rights to the the Pill, IUDs and emergency contraceptives could be at stake if 26 passed.

    Students at Tougaloo held forums and a rally against 26; student organizers at Jackson State handed out flyers, educated their peers and mobilized at the “Hot Spot” for a Rock the Vote rally; Alcorn students proudly displayed “Vote NO on 26″ signs on the windshields of their cars. It was inspiring to see both women and men energized and participating in grassroots organizing on their campuses around what is not only a state issue, but also a national issue concerning reproductive rights.

    Most of the students I worked with were African American and they understood how greatly family planning services are needed in the African American community in Mississippi. African Americans in Mississippi make up a third of the population and many live below the poverty line. When I visited a campus in Cleveland, Miss., I had breakfast in what was clearly “the black part of town.” I had a conversation with our server, a woman, about my age and what I was doing in Cleveland. She told me that she has five children and that the only reason why she has so many is that she could not consistently afford birth control. She also said that if Mississippi were to take away the pill, she does not know what she would do.

    The students that I worked with knew many of these same stories and knew that if the pill and abortions were to become illegal it would leave many poor families, particularly poor black families, in a cycle of poverty. They knew the history of Mississippi and how government had taken away their rights and their ancestor’s rights in the past. With this, they stood together, talked to their families and friends, organized their campuses and helped defeat 26.

    I am so proud and honored to have worked with the students that I met! They put in a ton of hard work and were right there with me to defend Roe in Mississippi.

  20. rikyrah says:

    November 15, 2011 9:25 AM

    Scalia, Thomas fail to inspire confidence

    By Steve Benen

    I really wish Supreme Court justices would at least make an effort to avoid the appearance of impropriety. (thanks to R.P. for the tip)

    The day the Supreme Court gathered behind closed doors to consider the politically divisive question of whether it would hear a challenge to President Obama’s healthcare law, two of its justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, were feted at a dinner sponsored by the law firm that will argue the case before the high court.

    In this instance, we’re talking about the annual dinner of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group which has hosted many dinners Scalia and Thomas have attended. But these justices’ extra-curricular activities send unsettling signals — on Thursday morning, they huddled over the Affordable Care Act; on Thursday night, they were featured guests at a dinner sponsored by firms, trade associations, and corporations with a direct role in the case.

    As the L.A. Times report noted, lower-court judges would risk ethics violations by taking similar actions — but Scalia and Thomas are not bound by the same code of conduct.

    And all of this might be slightly less disconcerting were it not for the even larger context, including Scalia and Thomas having attended a conservative strategy session hosted by Koch Industries last year.

    Maybe we’ll all be very pleasantly surprised, but by any reasonable measure, can anyone have confidence in Scalia’s and Thomas’s objectivity?

  21. Ametia says:

    Scalia and Thomas dine with healthcare law challengers as court takes case

    The day the Supreme Court gathered behind closed doors to consider the politically divisive question of whether it would hear a challenge to President Obama’s healthcare law, two of its justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, were feted at a dinner sponsored by the law firm that will argue the case before the high court.

    The occasion was last Thursday, when all nine justices met for a conference to pore over the petitions for review. One of the cases at issue was a suit brought by 26 states challenging the sweeping healthcare overhaul passed by Congress last year, a law that has been a rallying cry for conservative activists nationwide.

    The justices agreed to hear the suit; indeed, a landmark 5 1/2-hour argument is expected in March, and the outcome is likely to further roil the 2012 presidential race, which will be in full swing by the time the court’s decision is released.

    “This stunning breach of ethics and indifference to the code belies claims by several justices that the court abides by the same rules that apply to all other federal judges,” said Bob Edgar, the president of Common Cause. “The justices were wining and dining at a black-tie fundraiser with attorneys who have pending cases before the court. Their appearance and assistance in fundraising for this event undercuts any claims of impartiality, and is unacceptable.”

    Read more:

  22. rikyrah says:

    David Brooks Needs Therapy
    by BooMan
    Tue Nov 15th, 2011 at 08:54:00 AM EST

    Not content to be mocked for his Meet the Press performance, David Brooks doubled-down and wrote his Sunday column on the same subject. It appears that Mr. Brooks is deeply agitated by the people’s reaction to the child-rape scandal at Penn State. His biggest concern is that people are passing judgment on the officials who did little or nothing to put a stop to child-rape. As far as Brooks is concerned, most of us wouldn’t have done anything either and so we’re either hypocrites or just sanctimonious blowhards.

    His secondary concern is that we’re all missing the obvious lesson from Penn State, which is that we have given up religion and no longer have any moral compass.

    As Max H. Bazerman and Ann E. Tenbrunsel write in their book, “Blind Spots,” “When it comes time to make a decision, our thoughts are dominated by thoughts of how we want to behave; thoughts of how we should behave disappear.”
    In centuries past, people built moral systems that acknowledged this weakness. These systems emphasized our sinfulness. They reminded people of the evil within themselves. Life was seen as an inner struggle against the selfish forces inside. These vocabularies made people aware of how their weaknesses manifested themselves and how to exercise discipline over them. These systems gave people categories with which to process savagery and scripts to follow when they confronted it. They helped people make moral judgments and hold people responsible amidst our frailties.

    But we’re not Puritans anymore. We live in a society oriented around our inner wonderfulness. So when something atrocious happens, people look for some artificial, outside force that must have caused it — like the culture of college football, or some other favorite bogey. People look for laws that can be changed so it never happens again.

    Commentators ruthlessly vilify all involved from the island of their own innocence. Everyone gets to proudly ask: “How could they have let this happen?”

    The proper question is: How can we ourselves overcome our natural tendency to evade and self-deceive. That was the proper question after Abu Ghraib, Madoff, the Wall Street follies and a thousand other scandals. But it’s a question this society has a hard time asking because the most seductive evasion is the one that leads us to deny the underside of our own nature.

    Any argument that begins with “in centuries past” is already suspect, but let’s take Brooks seriously for just a moment. He’s basically saying that we used to be much more aware of our own sinfulness than we are today. And he’s saying that this change is a bad thing and that it helps explain why Bernie Madoff was allowed to run a Ponzi scheme, why Rumsfeld was allowed to run a massive torture chamber, and why bankers were allowed to create mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps. For Brooks, these crimes and practices were not the result of weak laws and/or weak enforcement of the laws. These crimes and practices resulted because ordinary people forgot that they, too, are horrible sinners and, therefore, they didn’t do anything to stop the people they saw sinning.

    It’s actually difficult for me to follow this logic. Let’s start with something that ought to be uncontroversial. In centuries past we had the Holocaust, and war between states was almost routine. In centuries past we had no human rights infrastructure or international norms for protecting the innocent. In centuries past we bought and sold human beings like livestock. In centuries past, we put children in the mines and on the assembly lines. In centuries past, women were treated as property and had no right to divorce or even to vote. In short, it’s pretty close to impossible to argue that people were more moral in the past than they are today. Many of the things we find abhorrent today were not even against the law in the recent past. For one topical example of how we’ve made some moral improvement, note how people basically shrugged when Roman Polanski drugged and sodomized a 13 year-old girl in 1977, and compare that to how people have reacted to Jerry Sandusky’s similar actions against boys. It’s pretty clear that people are less forgiving of child rape today than they were thirty-four years ago. Is that moral progress or are we just pretending to be simon-pure?

    That’s the way that Brooks’s argument comes off for me. He appears to be making the argument that we’re looking at the speck of sawdust in Sandusky, McQueary, and Paterno’s eyes and paying no attention to the plank in own own. Who are we to pass judgment on these people?

    Believe me, I have also been a bit repelled by some of the sanctimony I’ve seen from people who act so certain that they would have done better in McQueary or Paterno’s place. Some of us wouldn’t have done better. I don’t disagree with that. But why is Brooks so upset?

    He’s upset because we think too highly of ourselves (and our “inner wonderfulness”) and appear to be unaware of our awful, sinful nature. And, despite all the evidence of history, he thinks we were more moral in centuries past than we are today.

    In his Meet the Press appearance he made this really clear when he said this about how we would react to seeing a middle-aged man sodomizing a 10 year-old:

    “You know, you spend 30 or 40 years muddying the moral waters here. We have lost our clear sense of what evil is, what sin is; and so, when people see things like that, they don’t have categories to put it into. They vaguely know it’s wrong, but they’ve been raised in a morality that says, “If it feels all right for you, it’s probably OK.” And so that waters everything down.”

    I don’t know anybody, and I mean anybody, who would react to such a scene by thinking it’s “probably okay.” And I don’t like to do armchair psychology, but for Brooks to even make such a statement indicates to me that there is some serious inner turmoil that this scandal has summoned up. If he were to argue that we should act less shocked and more humble, I might have some sympathy for his argument. But he’s arguing that we’re wrong to be so outraged and, on some level, that we’re responsible for all the things that are going wrong in the world because we think too highly of ourselves.

    I think he needs to talk to a therapist.

    • Ametia says:

      Memo to David Brooks: IT’S CALLED KARMA. REAPING & SOWING. CAUSE & EFFECT. You don’t get to behave anyway you want and not pay for it, either in coin, service or pain. Either way, you will pay; it’s a UNIVERSAL LAW.

  23. rikyrah says:

    November 14, 2011
    The Revolt of the Wretches

    The GOP’s sado-masochistic notion of political theology — a brutal, top-down ignorance merrily thrashing the happily benighted below, upon which a small-minded deity casts His partisan blessings — is, in the presidential arena at least, morphing so squalid that even some of the sadists are having their doubts.

    The applied cruelty, it seems, is going a bit too far, things are getting out of hand, and the paying recipients of all this agreeably unpleasant sordidness are screaming for more, and more, and making real spectacles of themselves.

    In short, the party is becoming an embarrassment — to the party.

    Just watch any of 2008-candidate John McCain’s former advisers in cable-news interviews. They almost physically hang their heads in horrified shame at this year’s outpouring of Sarah Palin look-alikes in the presidential running. These advisory boys and girls know well the original sin of naked opportunism. They were there when John bit into the apple — thereby unleashing a demonic storm of breathtaking cretinism into the electoral atmosphere.

    Now they warn us, if too gently on occasion, against the alarming Palin-proliferation of Perrys and Cains.

    The warnings don’t stop there. They’re seeping into modern conservatism’s mainstream radicalism, too, as voiced by such radical conservatives as the Post’s Jennifer Rubin. Perhaps if she had a spouse working for the Cain campaign, her sentiments might be softer, even favorable, in a venal sort of way. But she doesn’t, so they aren’t:

    Cain has shown an indifference to what Americans have come to regard as essential qualifications for the presidency…. What most would regard as a lack of qualifications, he dresses up as groundbreaking. But if one is so arrogant to believe that one has won the God primary, all of this is irrelevant, I suppose.

    But there is no supposing. There’s only a presupposing, which all along has been that ultimately the GOP’s painful degeneration would become so wretched, even its wretches would begin to revolt.

  24. rikyrah says:

    November 14, 2011
    Every rat for himself

    [A]s the president faces the dual challenges of energizing his base while wooing moderates, some Democrats in Congress are keeping their distance, with the president’s approval rating hovering in the mid-40s….

    Of more than a dozen congressional offices Politico contacted in the moderate Blue Dog Caucus, only a handful were willing to comment on whether they supported Obama’s reelection bid.

    Why of course. This makes impeccable sense. For while Obama’s approval rating has stagnated in the miserable mid-40s, Congress’s approval rating, according to RealClearPolitics’s averages, has soared from 9 to 12.3 percent — and in only a few days! And that’s because while Obama has been out there meretriciously beating the partisan drums of working-class advocacy, Congress’s men and women of both parties have demonstrated that they’ve the interests of all Americans in uppermost mind, including abused plutocrats, put-upon polluters, and defenseless defense contractors.

    One wonders about the clarity of trend-kicking Blue Dogs, such as California’s Rep. Joe Baca: “I will be out there campaigning wholeheartedly for Obama for 2012. I believe he’s done a great job in leading us in face of bitter partisan attacks.” (We must assume that by “partisan,” Baca means the Republicans.)

    And one ponders with no little awe the simple, old-school loyalty of Nebraska’s Sen. Ben Nelson: “I supported him last time, I still support him. We don’t have to agree on everything, and I don’t have to support him on every bill to say that I support him for the president.”

    Does neither of these gentlemen recall how magnificently Democrats performed in 2010? — you remember, when the “D” geniuses told the White House they’d do just fine on their campaigning own, thank you every much.

    Still, modern national politics, what with its scattered loci of swing-district paranoia, comes down to a simpler loyalty: Every rat for himself.

    Even if there’s a better way. To closely quote B. Franklin, Either hang together, or most assuredly you shall all hang separately.

  25. rikyrah says:

    November 14, 2011
    The Supreme’s Magic One

    It’s no secret that rarefied Supreme Court justices are subject to the vulgar pressure of political winds. So now might be a good time for Democrats to start taking credit for the Affordable Care Act, rather than running away from it, and thereby beef up popular support.

    What might they embrace? In January of this year, Eugene Robinson noted the benefits already in place

    No child can be denied insurance coverage because of a preexisting condition. Coverage can no longer be canceled when the policyholder gets sick. Insurance companies can no longer impose annual or lifetime limits on payments for care. Adult children can remain on their parents’ policies until they turn 26. Policyholders cannot be charged extra for seeking urgent care at an emergency room that is not in the insurance company’s approved network of providers…. [Also] requirements that insurance companies spend a certain percentage of the premiums they collect on care; a discount on prescription drugs for some seniors covered by Medicare; a rule that gives seniors free screening for cancer and other diseases.

    Robinson continued:

    It seems likely that the constitutionality of the individual mandate will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court. It takes nothing more than simple arithmetic, however, to calculate that in order to make possible the other parts of the reform package … it’s necessary to bring as many people as possible into the insurance pool.

    The likelihood is now a certainty, and the arithmetic is simpler than ever: 5-4 to strike down, or 5-4 to uphold, the mandate. The magic number: One. Anthony Kennedy.

    There’s no question of the right’s placing Kennedy on its Christmas card list. One is doubtful, however, about the left’s inside game of applying outside pressure, which is what the entire ruling may come down to.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Protesters Evicted from Zuccotti Park
    Posted on 11/15/2011 at 7:00 am by Bob Cesca

    I tweeted this last night, but it bears repeating:

    The worst trespass in America is to challenge the financial elite. We’re taught from day one to buy their crap, and to never talk back.

    Occupy Wall Street is a threat to ongoing consumer complacency in the face of corporate overreach and power consolidation. In the eyes of the masters, this cannot stand. So the protesters were evicted.

    But I sure hope they’ll be back.

  27. rikyrah says:

    November 15, 2011
    The Gingrich Gambit
    It won’t happen, but a Gingrich nomination would at least possess the merit of having broken free of the once-inescapable importance of early and often primitive primary states, and having elevated the potential of comprehensive national campaigns for the presidency.

    Much of Gingrich’s strategy, if you will, is but vintage Gingrich, meaning it’s merely the happenstance product of an undisciplined personality and a hyperinflated ego and inexhaustible greed. Like Trump, like Bachmann, like Cain, Newt Gingrich never dreamed he’d make it this far; he just wanted to peddle more books and huckster more videos and heap another pile of cash on his heaping piles of cash — the sign of a true, Lincolnesque civic spirit.

    But of course restricting his marketing efforts to the rather minor exploitations of Iowa, New Hamphire and South Carolina would crimp his profitability. He needed to go Big, so The Gingrich had yet another of his Big Ideas: he would announce that he’s jettisoning the old politics of first campaigning in those states that vote first; he would instead travel this vast republic — with the occasional detour to Greece — and live off the land and hold deeply, deeply intellectual forums wherever the opportunity prevailed.

    The Gingrich would not be circumscribed. No sir. No way. The good people of New York and Chicago and Los Angeles were in as desperate need of his very reasonably priced books and videos as Ottumwans were — and only personal tragedies of unfulfilled enlightenment would ensue if The Gingrich failed to team his wagon and head west — and north and south and east — to shake his tambourine and vend his discount Gingrichisms.

    So, we admit his serendipitous strategy. He confected a national campaign over primary-state pettiness because his wallet demanded such. Like most historians and all ideologues, Gingrich worked backward, from concluding thesis to researched substantiation. He would have his inexorable national campaign (i.e., marketing tour), but only because — presto — the people deserved one.

    Still, regardless of The Gingrich’s motives — always crooked or circular — the underlying concept appeals. For the land’s highest office, only national campaigns — from the get-go. No more camping out in Iowa only, for two or three years, catering to and conning the fundamentalist Christians, whom the GOP candidate will promptly betray in New Hampshire.

    As noted, there will, sadly, be no Gingrich nomination however, no Gingrich triumph, no Gingrich refashioning of the political status quo. He will ride and exploit this momentary tide like all the other anti-Mitts, and then, poof, he’ll be gone. But that’s rather a shame, and for reasons beyond the awesome splendor of an actual Gingrich nomination. It’s a shame that the concept of a true national campaign for the nomination, studded with roving and real debates, will probably never take off. We’ll be stuck with the coarsening of Iowa.

  28. rikyrah says:

    How The Great Recession Is Killing America’s Future
    Robert Hiltonsmith summarizes a new report on the recession’s lasting consequences:

    Rising debt, un- and underemployment, and dim job prospects have forced many Millennials to postpone the key decisions that historically marked entry into adulthood. Nearly half of the 25- to 34-year-olds surveyed said they’ve put off purchasing a home; 29 percent say they’ve delayed starting a family; and 26 percent still live with their parents. These decisions have long-lasting effects.

    Someone who is forced to delay purchasing a home until their 30s will likely not have that house paid off by the time they retire in their late 60s. Those who have to put off starting a family will still be paying for kid-related expenses until their late 50s or early 60s (or later, if their own children are unemployed and living with them in their 20s). Millennials’ parents, the Baby Boomers, were able to buy their first homes and start their careers and families in their late teens and early 20s, right out of high school or college, with little or no debt.

  29. rikyrah says:

    Monday, November 14, 2011
    The Dems’ Job Strategy Is Working, Part 2
    Posted by Zandar
    Fresh off his success getting Congress to pass legislation to help find jobs for returning Iraq and Afghanistan vets, the next stage in President Obama’s push for jobs bill is a similar $1 billion measure to hire, train, and deploy healthcare workers.

    The Obama administration will announce Monday as much as $1 billion in funding to hire, train and deploy health-care workers, part of the White House’s broader “We Can’t Wait” agenda to bolster the economy after President Obama’s jobs bill stalled in Congress.

    Grants can go to doctors, community groups, local government and other organizations that work with patients in federal health-care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The funds are for experimenting with different ways to expand the health-care workforce while reducing the cost of delivering care. There will be an emphasis on speed, with new programs expected to be running within six months of funding.

    “This will open the inbox for many innovators and organizations that have an idea to bring to the table,” Don Berwick, administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said in an interview. “We’re seeking innovators, organizations and leaders that have an idea to bring into further testing.”

    On the surface, this seems like exactly the kind of program Republicans want in their approach to health care: venture capitalism for the doctors, hospitals, and medical device corporations to find better real-world solutions to lower Medicare and Medicaid costs. The reality is I fully expect Republicans to scream “Obamacare!” and unanimously vote against it.

    The fact of the matter is after Friday’s Senate vote to approve a jobs measure for veterans, the Tea Party will expect their wishes to be heeded on this, and you should expect to see a number of Republicans dismiss the measure as part of the President’s evil death panel machine or whatever.

    It would be outstanding if I’m wrong on this, but I don’t think I will be.

  30. rikyrah says:

    November 15, 2011 8:35 AM

    OWS forcibly removed from Zuccotti Park

    By Steve Benen

    An ugly scene unfolded in Lower Manhattan overnight, as local officials, who had permitted Occupy Wall Street protestors to maintain their demonstration in Zuccotti Park, launched an early-morning raid.

    Hundreds of police officers early Tuesday cleared the park in Lower Manhattan that had been the nexus of the Occupy Wall Street movement, arresting dozens of people there after warning that the nearly two-month-old camp would be “cleared and restored” but that demonstrators who did not leave would face arrest.

    The protesters, about 200 of whom have been staying in the park overnight, initially resisted with chants of “Whose park? Our park!”

    As has been the case in other cities, the forcible eviction from Zuccotti Park raised questions about excessive force and unnecessary arrests.

    For his part, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was “temporarily” forcing protesters to leave, and that activists would be able to return to the park — though they would face new restrictions, including a ban on tents and sleeping bags.

    That would, of course, defeat the purpose of the whole “occupy” element.

    As for what’s next, there are reports the demonstrators were regrouping in nearby Foley Square. In the meantime, a New York judge this morning reportedly issued a temporary restraining order that allows the protest at Zuccotti Park to begin anew, pending a hearing scheduled for later this morning.

    * Update: This is never a good sign: “The unexpected raid was accompanied by an attempted media blackout, as the police prohibited reporters (including those with press passes) from going to the park, closed the subways leading to downtown Manhattan, and even prevented news helicopters from flying in the airspace over the park.”

  31. rikyrah says:

    November 15, 2011 8:00 AM

    The ‘stuff twirling around’ in Cain’s head

    By Steve Benen

    When Rick Perry forgot one of his rehearsed talking points, he looked pretty ridiculous. When Herman Cain was asked about U.S. policy towards Libya yesterday, it was much worse.

    Cain was meeting with some Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editors, who asked a rather straightforward question: do you agree with President Obama on Libya? The response has to be seen to be believed.

    “OK, Libya,” Cain said, apparently trying to remember why the country is important. After nine seconds of silence, the Republican added, “President Obama supported the uprising, correct? President Obama called for the removal of Gadhafi. Just want to make sure we’re talking about the same thing before I say, yes I agree, or no I didn’t agree. I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason: no, that’s a different one.”

    After another seven seconds of silence, Cain managed to say, “I gotta go back to see — got all this stuff twirling around in my head. Um, specifically, what are you asking me, did I agree or not disagree with Obama on?”

    Eventually, the presidential hopeful tried to say he disapproved of Obama’s handling of Libya, though Cain couldn’t offer a coherent reason why.

    Perry forgot part of his talking points; Cain doesn’t feel the need to understand foreign policy at even the most basic levels. The former is embarrassing; the latter is disqualifying.

    Hoping to explain this car crash, the candidate’s spokesperson said Cain was “going on four hours sleep, so he was tired.” That’s not exactly persuasive. For one thing, we’ve all had occasions in which we’ve gone on four hours sleep, but managed not to become quite this ignorant. It’s not as if Libya is an obscure issue.

    For another, sometimes candidates and presidents have to persevere even when they’re tired. If Cain isn’t up to the task, he shouldn’t run.

    Indeed, perhaps now would be a good time for Cain and his supporters to explain why he even wants to be president. He doesn’t even seem interested in learning anything about current events or the basics of public policy. So why bother?

    Dan Drezner’s conclusion seems about right: “There’s a mercy rule in Little League, and I’m applying it here — unless and until Herman Cain surges back in the polls again, or manages to muster something approaching cogency in his foreign policy statements, there’s no point in blogging about him anymore. I can only pick on an ignoramus so many times before it feels sadistic.”

  32. rikyrah says:

    November 14, 2011 4:50 PM

    Public backs health care mandate

    By Steve Benen

    When the debate over health care policy began in earnest in 2009, the notion of an individual mandate wasn’t especially controversial. Republican policymakers — who’d come up with the idea in the first place — didn’t attack it, and the idea of Americans being required to carry insurance didn’t seem especially foreign or radical.

    In time, obviously, that changed. What was once an area of bipartisan common ground quickly became the basis for hysterical attacks, and polls showed the mandate going from uncontroversial to widely hated.

    Interestingly enough, as we get further from the hysteria, we also see support for the mandate returning to where it was when the debate began. Here’s a CNN/ORC International Poll released today, for example.

    According to the poll, 52% of Americans favor mandatory health insurance, up from 44% in June. The survey indicates that 47% oppose the health insurance mandate, down from 54% in early summer.

    “The health insurance mandate has gained most support since June among older Americans and among lower-income Americans,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “A majority of independents opposed the measure in June, but 52 percent of them now favor it.”

    The usual caveats still apply, most notably the fact that one shouldn’t draw sweeping observations from one poll.

    But if the CNN results accurately reflect a shift in public attitudes, I think Paul Krugman gets this right: “Since [the mandate is] the core of health reform, this basically means that proponents are slowly winning the argument. If we make it to actual full implementation, this reform will be irreversible.”

    We’ll see what happens at the Supreme Court.

  33. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning,Everyone :)

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