Serendipity SOUL | Wednesday Open Thread | “Trane” Week!

Happy HUMP day, Everybody!  The Trane continues down the track…

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81 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Wednesday Open Thread | “Trane” Week!

  1. Lauren E. Pierce, Texas College GOP Leader Says Obama Assassination ‘Tempting’

  2. rikyrah says:

    November 16, 2011 3:00 PM
    Romney thinks Americans ‘avoid the hard work’

    By Steve Benen

    President Obama spoke to American business leaders at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, and said policymakers haven’t been aggressive enough in attracting businesses to American soil.

    “We’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades,” Obama said about business outreach. “We’ve kind of taken for granted, well, people will want to come here and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new businesses into America.”

    If you’re thinking, even the most unhinged, right-wing Republican would support the president’s willingness to be more aggressive in bringing businesses to the United States, you’re wrong.

    Mitt Romney, either because he’s not terribly bright or because he’s hoping voters aren’t terribly bright, launched a new attack based on Obama’s comments. As the Republican presidential candidate sees it, the president “said that Americans are lazy.” That’s not true, but Romney isn’t exactly fact-oriented. The former governor added that Obama says “disparaging things about Americans.”

    As it turns out, there is a presidential candidate who’s argued that Americans “avoid the hard work” that’s needed for the country to get ahead. The candidate is Mitt Romney, who put the argument in his book:

    “We have been accustomed to being the world’s leading nation for so long, enjoying the freedom, security, and prosperity that comes with that leadership, that we have tended to avoid the hard work that overcoming challenges requires.”

    So, as Romney sees it, Americans have grown so complacent, we’ve become slothful.

    The former governor said yesterday the president doesn’t “understand” Americans. It seems like Romney has this backwards.

  3. The White House

    Office of the Press Secretary

    For Immediate Release November 16, 2011 Presidential Proclamation — Thanksgiving Day, 2011

    – – – – – – –



    One of our Nation’s oldest and most cherished traditions, Thanksgiving Day brings us closer to our loved ones and invites us to reflect on the blessings that enrich our lives. The observance recalls the celebration of an autumn harvest centuries ago, when the Wampanoag tribe joined the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony to share in the fruits of a bountiful season. The feast honored the Wampanoag for generously extending their knowledge of local game and agriculture to the Pilgrims, and today we renew our gratitude to all American Indians and Alaska Natives. We take this time to remember the ways that the First Americans have enriched our Nation’s heritage, from their generosity centuries ago to the everyday contributions they make to all facets of American life. As we come together with friends, family, and neighbors to celebrate, let us set aside our daily concerns and give thanks for the providence bestowed upon us.

    Though our traditions have evolved, the spirit of grace and humility at the heart of Thanksgiving has persisted through every chapter of our story. When President George Washington proclaimed our country’s first Thanksgiving, he praised a generous and knowing God for shepherding our young Republic through its uncertain beginnings. Decades later, President Abraham Lincoln looked to the divine to protect those who had known the worst of civil war, and to restore the Nation “to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”

    In times of adversity and times of plenty, we have lifted our hearts by giving humble thanks for the blessings we have received and for those who bring meaning to our lives. Today, let us offer gratitude to our men and women in uniform for their many sacrifices, and keep in our thoughts the families who save an empty seat at the table for a loved one stationed in harm’s way. And as members of our American family make do with less, let us rededicate ourselves to our friends and fellow citizens in need of a helping hand.

    As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives. Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the year to come.

    NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 24, 2011, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to come together whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors to give thanks for all we have received in the past year, to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and to share our bounty with others.

    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


  4. rikyrah says:

    Just as We Thought: Debt Deal Forcing Tax Revenue Increases

    You might have noticed that lately, the Supercommittee in Congress, charged with reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion or face the country with huge automatic cuts to defense and entitlement provider payments, has been a subject of buzz. That’s because the deadline for the supercommittee to reach a deal and vote on it is exactly one week away. Something interesting is happening: Republicans are still by and large opposed to tax revenue increases in any significant way, but they offered, as the opening offer, a $300 billion increase in tax revenue by closing some loopholes for the top income earners. Sen. Pat Toomey, the super anti-tax, anti-government Republican even suggested a similar plan while lowering the overall top rate from 35 to 28 percent.

    Yes, it’s not much. And there is no way Congressional Democrats or President Obama will accept this without more revenue increases. But this is already opening a rift among Republicans – those who understand that the debt limit deal was a sure loss for the Republicans and compromise to avoid those painful, automatic defense (and medical industry) cuts is a must, and those who are running for president in their own party. Don’t take it from me; take it from them:

    House Speaker John Boehner publicly blessed a Republican deficit-reduction plan Tuesday that would raise $300 billion in additional tax revenue while overhauling the IRS code, bucking opposition by some GOP presidential hopefuls and colleagues wary of violating a longstanding point of party orthodoxy.

    Despite Boehner’s comments — and Toomey’s credentials as an opponent of tax increases — GOP presidential contenders Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry said they were prepared to oppose a plan along the lines of the one under consideration. Another candidate, Mitt Romney, brushed aside a question on the subject.

    It’s not just that the Republicans in the Suprecommittee are being pummeled by their own presidential contenders (remember the “we would not accept a 9:1 cuts: revenue deal” moment?). To make matters even more complicated, there is a movement by rank-and-file House members and Senators both Democratic and Republican to go big on deficit reduction and produce a package that reduces the deficit by $3.7 trillion, way above and beyond the supercommittee’s mandate of $1.2 trillion. The “gang of six” plan, which is now being revived as a backup should the supercommittee fail, would raise revenues far more drastically than what Newt thinks is bad now.

    Hoyer joined the House effort led by Idaho Republican Mike Simpson to urge a big supercommittee deal along the lines of the Gang of Six. Savannah’s John Barrow, a Democrat, and Jack Kingston, a Republican, were among the 100 U.S. House members to sign on. Across the Capitol, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., is one of nearly 50 senators to lend their support to the Gang of Six — led by Chambliss and Virginia Democrat Mark Warner — which came up with a plan in July to reduce $3.7 trillion in future deficits, but never produced an actual bill.

    Of that sum, $1.5 trillion came from tax reform that reduced many tax rates while eliminating a slew of deductions. The proposal also included cuts to domestic programs, a change in the way cost-of-living adjustments are calculated for Social Security and other reforms.

    Now, yes, I know, the gang of six or even any talk of COLA adjustments to Social Security is the antithesis to the professional, yelling, sanctimonious pretend-Left. But screw that for a second. Neither Newt Gingrich nor Michael Moore’s ideologically strident solutions are likely to get this country very far. The real story, if you put together the two quotes I just presented, is this: If the Republicans on the Supercommittee don’t embrace something close to what the Democrats on the committee have proposed, i.e. about $1 trillion in revenue increases, $1 trillion in cuts and $300 billion from interest savings, the revenue increases they face will be bigger – either by the virtue of the movement in Congress in support of the “gang of six” plan (which raises revenue by $1.5 trillion and which, by the way, was essentially what the president offered to John Boehner in the first place), or the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

    As I pointed out back in August, the president sacrificed nothing in the debt limit talk, saddled the Republicans with looming defense cuts and medical industry cuts (i.e. Medicare provider cuts) and quite happily used as leverage the certainty of the Bush tax cuts expiring at the end of 2012 to raise revenue should Congress fail to do their job. And that is turning out to be the case, as even Republicans run around trying to figure out how to make a compromise rather than unite behind a plan to just say no.

    There are no two ways about it. Revenues are going to be increased, one way or another, and the uber rich are going to end up paying a fairer share of that dues we pay to live in a democracy. The only question that remains before the Republican leadership in Congress is what part they will play in it. Essentially, only three options are on the table:

    Continue to kiss up to the Tea Party and stall any revenue increases whatsoever, and be responsible for forcing a situation in which all Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2012.
    Let Congress vote on the Gang of Six plan, pass it, and increase tax revenue by $1.5 trillion, eliminating the beloved tax loopholes for their rich buddies.
    Convince some of their own on the Supercommittee to agree to something close to the Democratic proposal of $1 trillion increase.

    If the Republican leadership in Congress have a half a brain among the whole lot of them, they will take avenue 3, save face with some adjustments, and declare victory while claiming credit for an overhauled tax code and entitlement reform. Convince the American people that the Republican leadership is capable at all of, well, leadership at a moment of crisis.

    No matter what they do though, they have already destroyed their own political motto: that you never raise tax revenue, and that cutting taxes makes revenue rain from the sky. The American people know that it’s bunk, but even more importantly, the movement in Congress by more and more rank-and-filers to get behind the Gang of Six plan is demonstrating that so do the Republicans in Congress. The Republican candidates can run against their own Congressional leadership if they wish, but I doubt that GOP members of Congress are going to let their nominee throw them under the bus for too long without consequence. And for the sake of the country, that’s a good thing.

    The Supercommittee, ideologues on the Left argued, was merely a way to take a hatchet to the social safety net while sparing any additional tax liability for the ultra rich, as it would put on the table everything (apparently, by the definition of ideologue Left, ‘everything’ means only entitlement programs and not taxes. Go figure. I thought that was the ‘everything’ definition of the far Right). Some of us on the smart Left, however, said that the Supercommitee, along with the president’s success in sequestering and sparing any cuts to benefits on the entitlement side (including Medicare), would force a revenue increase – revenue increase that would come not for poor Americans paying additional taxes but from the wealthy paying a fairer share. And look what is about to happen.

    Yes, I know that people on the pretend-Left are going to have a tantrum if the Supercommittee deal (or another deal) substantially increases taxes on the rich but also calculates Social Security COLA using a different formula than the current one and/or raises the Medicare age eventually to 67 from 65. Oh, they are going to have a cow. Of course, as the Affordable Care Act will have fully kicked in before any of this stuff happens, the Medicare eligibility age will become less of a real issue as people will be able to obtain insurance in the private market or through Medicaid, and reforms in Medicare, including the complete closure of the drug benefit donut hole will ensure that the largest rising expense among Social Security beneficiaries, medical costs, are reined in.

    When the President offered John Boehner the grand bargain during the debt limit negotiations reportedly these very things, he was thinking ten steps ahead of damn nearly anyone else. Boehner could have taken the deal then and been seen as a statesman and a leader, but instead now, he might have to accept the same thing anyway, and not get any of the spotlight. How’s holding them teabags comin’ along, Mr. Speaker?

  5. rikyrah says:

    Perry Campaign Says Foreigners Not Allowed At Town Hall Event |

    According to an Associated Press reporter, the Perry campaign refused to let foreigners attend a town hall event with the candidate in New Hampshire today. Campaign staffers inquired about reporters’ citizenship status at the door, explaining that only U.S. citizens were allowed. Their dubious justification for this intrusive screening was that the town hall host was a defense contractor.

  6. A tent with the name of US President Barack Obama written on it is seen at the Occupy DC camp at McPherson Square in Washington on November 16, 2011. The crackdown on Occupy Wall Street in New York alarmed protesters in Washington who nevertheless felt confident their thriving downtown encampment will not only endure, but grow.

  7. High School Basketball Coach Calls Student Future Welfare Recipient

    A high school basketball coach is coming under fire for making offensive comments to his students after being caught on tape.

    Marcus Williams Jr., a senior at Winnetonka High School, filed a racial harassment complaint with the North Kansas School District after coach Derek Howard called him a “future welfare recipient,” reports.

    [wpvideo 1sQjSljy]

  8. rikyrah says:

    Let It Fail
    by John Cole

    If Republicans want to kill this, let them:

    It’s hard to see how the Super Committee can possibly reach a consensus by this time next week after Republican co-chair Jeb Hensarling’s appearance on CNBC Tuesday night. The short version is that he left the ball in Democrats court, and hinted that if the committee fails, Congress will spend the next year or so trying to change the terms of an automatic penalty to make sure that hundreds of billions of cuts to defense programs never take effect.

    Hensarling claimed that if the committee recommended even a dollar of new net tax revenue — the kind of revenue Dems are demanding — it would constitute a step in the wrong direction. He said a GOP plan put forward by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) — one which Republicans claim would raise revenues by nearly $300 billion over 10 years, but would also make the Bush tax cuts permanent — is as far as Republicans are willing to go on revenues. But that’s an offer Democrats flatly rejected as unserious. And unless one of the parties breaks cleanly with its publicly stated position, the committee will either fall well short of reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years as required by law, or will fail altogether.

    “We have gone as far as we feel we can go,” Hensarling said. “We put $250 billion of what is known as static revenue on the table, but only if we can bring down rates [but] any penny of increased static revenue is a step in the wrong direction. We can only balance that with pro-growth reform and frankly the Democrats have never agreed to that…. if we can’t get any type of reforms in health care, which has helped drive the nation towards insolvency, then, no, there’s no reason to frankly put any static revenues on the table.”

    When Hensarling says “static,” he means revenue that will actually, predictably come into the Treasury. Republicans claim in a Laffer-ite way that their preferred tax policy will create enough economic growth to raise revenues even if the math says it won’t. Democrats reject that kind of analysis.

    Who has done more damage to this nation- Osama bin Laden or Arthur Laffer?

  9. zizii2:

    Round the clock coverage of Pres.Obama’s Australian trip watch Australian Broadcasting Corp. Folks they luv him 1000%

  10. rikyrah says:

    Newt’s a GRIFTER..


    riddle me this, folks,….if they signed a CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT, how come we know about how much Newt grifted from them?

    who ‘leaked’ it’?

    Gingrich’s $300,000…ooops….. $1.6 Million From Freddie Mac

    Bloomberg investigates and finds that Gingrich was paid much more by Freddie Mac than previously reported. Gingrich says that he’s bound by a confidentiality agreement, but is “very happy to offer people strategic advice if they come and ask my advice.” Jennifer Rubin implores him to come clean:

    Freddie Mac isn’t commenting on the record and isn’t releasing documents to establish Gingrich’s role. This is inexcusable. To the extent there is a confidentiality agreement (why would Freddie demand his work be a secret?), Freddie and Gingrich can waive it. Gingrich is running for president, telling an improbable tale (he alone among a flock of hired guns wasn’t engaged in influence peddling?) and refusing to provide voters with material needed to assess his credibility. This is precisely the Gingrich so many Republicans recall — self-important, truth-shading and continually on the make to feather his own nest.

    Friedersdorf thinks he should return the money. Benjy Sarlin reports that Gingrich demanded an investigation into policymakers with ties to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008. Ed Morrissey assesses the damage:

    It’s possible that Gingrich supported Congressional pressure on Fannie and Freddie to expand home ownership in 1999-2002 during his first round with Freddie, and then changed his mind during his second consultation period. … Even so, the fact that Gingrich had such a lengthy consulting relationship with such a toxic organization might be enough to turn off Republican voters. The nexus of power and big business is one of the themes of the Tea Party’s efforts at reform, and the ability of the powerful to move into consulting relationships with big-money players like Freddie Mac is one of the symptoms of the problem.

  11. rikyrah says:

    Do You Want Super Committee to Fail?
    by BooMan
    Wed Nov 16th, 2011 at 11:57:34 AM EST

    Hopefully, you understand the basics of what happens if the United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the Super Committee) fails to produce a plan to reduce the budget deficit by its November 23rd deadline. Most obviously, it will mean that something called “sequestration” kicks in. That’s just a fancy word that means $1.2 trillion will be cut from the ten-year budget, with half coming out of the Pentagon’s hide and the other half coming from Medicare providers and cuts in discretionary appropriations for nondefense programs.

    The Republicans don’t want either result, and they have one powerful arrow in the quiver. As the Heritage Foundation makes clear, they are going to use the testimony of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who has said recently that sequestration would have a devastating impact on our national defense. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have expressed a similar opinion. Thus, tremendous pressure can be brought to bear on Democrats to restore much of the defense spending that stands to be cut if the Super Committee cannot come up with deficit reduction recommendations.
    Yet, the Democrats are showing some spine. The White House made clear that they do not intend to sign any bill that undoes the Pentagon’s budget cuts, and Harry Reid is indicating that the Senate won’t let such a bill get to the president’s desk in the first place.

    Republicans cite the warning from Leon Panetta, President Obama’s Defense secretary, who has cautioned that slashing the Pentagon’s budget would hollow out the military. Panetta warned lawmakers this week that a supercommittee failure would force him to slash 2013 spending by $100 billion.
    But [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid said Tuesday that Senate Democrats would not allow non-defense discretionary programs to bear the brunt of automatic cuts and defense programs to dodge the blade.

    “If the committee fails to act, sequestration is going to go forward. Democrats are not going to take an unfair, unrealistic load directed toward domestic discretionary spending … and take it away from the military,” Reid said.

    “Those who are — who talk about retracting the sequester are wrong and are not living up to the agreement we reached to cut our nation’s deficit last July,” Reid added.

    Another possible consequence of failure by the Super Committee is a further downgrade of our country’s credit rating, so rooting for failure isn’t without its costs. Yet, if the Democrats are willing to take the heat for massive defense spending cuts, they can get them. However, it’s doubtful that in an election year the Democrats would want to hold the line. Some level of defense spending would probably be restored.

    Are you rooting for failure?

  12. rikyrah says:

    November 16, 2011 12:40 PM

    Thomas Friedman, the White House will return your calls

    By Steve Benen

    As regular readers know, it’s been frustrating for much of the year to watch Thomas Friedman develop a very bad habit. Every month or so, the New York Times columnist will complain that President Obama is failing to take a certain action, apparently unaware that the president has already taken that action.

    This morning’s column offers an especially egregious example.

    Here we are in America again on the eve of a major budgetary decision by yet another bipartisan “supercommittee,” and does anyone know what President Obama’s preferred outcome is? Exactly which taxes does he want raised, and which spending does he want cut? The president’s politics on this issue seems to be a bowl of poll-tested mush.

    I don’t know why Friedman doesn’t just pick up the phone and call the White House to get more information if he’s confused.

    In this case, “does anyone know what President Obama’s preferred outcome is”? Actually, everyone with access to the Internet can find out exactly what the president’s preferred outcome is. The administration published a detailed, 80-page report (pdf), outlining exactly what the White House supports. If Friedman didn’t want to read the fairly comprehensive document, the administration even prepared fact sheets and summaries for more casual readers. If one didn’t want to read anything, both the president and members of his team have given speeches about it.

    For that matter, as Matt Yglesias noted this morning, “My guess is that if Friedman phones up the OMB press office someone there would be happy to walk him through it.”

    What seems especially important, though, is not just Friedman’s mistake today. Even Pulitzer Prize winners occasionally slip and make lazy claims without checking Google. The larger problem is that Friedman does this all the time.

    In August, Thomas Friedman presented a policy platform he believes is absent from America’s political discourse, but neglected to mention that it was practically word-for-word the same platform President Obama already supports. In September, Friedman did it again. And in early October, the NYT columnist did it once more.

    Friedman went on “The Daily Show” and mentioned the “formula for success” he’d like to see the nation embrace. The columnist argued that policymakers have “gotten away from” this formula, without mentioning that Obama already agrees with all of it.

    Over the weekend, Friedman appeared on CBS to complain that the president isn’t presenting an economic plan that focuses on stimulus in the short-term and debt-reduction over the long-term — despite the fact that the president has already presented an economic plan that focuses on stimulus in the short-term and debt-reduction over the long-term.

    I’m left with the impression that Thomas Friedman is complaining about President Obama (a) just for the sake of complaining; and (b) without any meaningful understanding of the policies the president is already pursuing.

    If Friedman disapproves of Obama’s (and his own) vision, that’s fine; he can make the case against it and offer an alternative. If he wants policymakers to act on the president’s forward-thinking agenda, that’d make a good column, too.

    But the columnist has an increasingly-bizarre habit of challenging the White House to take his advice, and then ignoring the fact that the White House already has.

    And why does Friedman do this? Greg Sargent’s explanation sounds about right to me: “Self-styled ‘centrist’ columnists have a perennial problem on their hands. They have built reputations by calling for middle-of-the-road solutions to our problems. Yet they can’t acknowledge that Obama and Democrats are the ones who are offering solutions that are genuinely centrist, because that would constitute ‘taking sides.’ This would imperil their ‘brand,’ which rests heavily on transcending partisanship, and on their ongoing insistence that the future depends on following a middle ground between the parties.”

  13. rikyrah says:

    TPMLivewire 11-16-2011 1:18 PM

    SurveyUSA: Obama 46, Romney 44
    A new national survey shows President Obama with a two point lead among registered voters. The poll broke out the results by method of contact, between landline telephones and cell phones, finding a large discrepancy.

    From SurveyUSA:

    Among respondents who use a home telephone (72% of registered voters), Romney leads by 6 points. Among respondents who do not use a home telephone (28% of registered voters), and who were contacted by SurveyUSA on their cell phone or other electronic device, Obama leads by 22 points. When the two populations are proportionally blended, Obama is up by 2 points, within the survey’s theoretical margin of sampling error. When Obama is paired head-to-head against Newt Gingrich, Obama is up by 11 points, 51% to 40%. Gingrich trails Obama only by 2 points among respondents who use a home telephone, but trails by 35 points among respondents who do not use a home telephone. When the two populations are proportionally blended, Obama is up by 11.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    November 16, 2011 1:35 PM

    Romney can’t escape culture war

    By Steve Benen

    For the most part, Mitt Romney and his campaign have stayed focused on economic issues. Neither the candidate nor his team have been eager to talk about Romney’s abysmal jobs record, or his ruthless work at his private equity firm, but economic talk has still been up front and center.

    It has not always been such. My friend Elon Green has a piece today on Romney’s on-again, off-again tolerance for the LGBT community.

    [O]f all the issues on which Romney has taken a stance, few have been subject to more contortions than homosexuality and marriage equality…. Romney’s 1994 senatorial run, for example, he pledged to “make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern.” Eight years later, during his 2002 run for governor, Romney took a similarly progressive position when he proclaimed, “All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of sexual preference.”

    What has been largely overlooked is that prior to Romney’s unsuccessful senatorial run, his beliefs about gays were, to put it kindly, not so magnanimous. According to several articles in the Boston Globe in the mid ’90s, just before launching his senate run, Romney told an audience of Mormon Church members that homosexuality was “perverse” and “reprehensible.”

    Now, admittedly, it’s hard to know which version of Romney we’re seeing now, and which version we’d see if he became president — the Romney who vowed to be more supportive of gay rights than Ted Kennedy or the Romney who told an audience he considered homosexuality “perverse” and “reprehensible”? The question for voters, I suppose, is their comfort level with the risk.

    But let’s also not overlook the larger context: Romney still has culture war baggage, whether he seems focused on the economy or not.

    Just four years ago, for example, Romney said he would not consider Muslim Americans for his cabinet. Indeed, he said this more than once, in front of plenty of witnesses.

    This year, he’s offered support for “Personhood” amendments, vowed backing for the Defense of Marriage Act, and said he’d strip Planned Parenthood of all its funding.

    I’ve heard from a few center-left voters in recent months who’ve suggested a Romney presidency may not be that offensive, since, once in office, he may turn out to govern closer to the way he did in his one term in Massachusetts. Besides, the argument goes, he’ll probably spend most of his time on the economy, not social issues.

    It’s worth keeping in mind, then, that Romney has taken some extreme positions while making some fairly specific promises to some very conservative folks, suggesting he’ll be pretty far to the right in every key area of public policy — including the culture war.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    November 16, 2011 2:25 PM

    In defense of ‘dealing with reality’

    By Steve Benen

    Rep. Scott Rigell (R) of Virginia delivered some interesting remarks on the House floor on Monday night.

    “…I would say to my friends who are Democrats, let’s consider this. Historically, we’ve been around 19 percent of expenses as a percent of our gross domestic product. Right now, we’re over 24.5 percent. This is putting America on a perilous course and I believe that it threatens our country in a fundamental way.

    “Now, to my republican colleagues, let’s look at the other side. Historically, we’ve been around 18 percent, plus or minus, revenue as a percent of gross domestic product. And right now, we’re less than 15 percent. That, too, is a problem. Any Republican who will not admit to this or to confront it and discuss it head on, is not dealing with reality. These are the numbers. It’s not how you feel. It’s where the numbers lead us. We need to be a leadership team here, a body that respects, seeks out, and is guided by the facts.”

    Rigell’s guidance to Democrats seems incomplete to me, in part because government spending as a percentage of GDP has gone up due to the economic crisis, and in part because Democratic lawmakers have spent much of the last year offering to cut spending as part of a debt-reduction deal.

    But it’s the Republican congressman’s guidance to his own party that’s refreshing. Indeed, the GOP line almost always argues that taxes are at some kind of historic high, when in fact, that Americans really are paying the smallest share of their income for taxes since the 1950s and tax revenues as a percentage of the economy really are lower now than at any point in a generation.

    I’m not sure what kind of resolution Rigell has in mind, but if he’s thinking there should be some kind of bipartisan compromise built around a package of spending cuts and new tax revenue, he’s likely to face Republican excommunication.

    Still, credit where credit is due. I don’t imagine Rigell and I would agree on the seriousness of the debt problem or the best way to address it, but anyone encouraging congressional Republicans to “deal with reality” deserves at least some kudos.

    Of course, it’s against this backdrop that Rigell’s GOP colleagues refuse to consider any tax increases on anyone ever, and in most cases, are equally opposed to any new revenues to shrink the deficit Republicans helped create in the first place. Apparently, the “deal with reality” advice has gone unheeded.

  16. rikyrah says:

    DNC Web Video Slams Romney: ‘Our Veterans Deserve Better’

    Eric Kleefeld November 16, 2011, 12:12 PM

    The Democratic National Committee has a new web video out, slamming Mitt Romney for his having floated an idea for privatizing veterans’ benefits via health care vouchers.

    The video demonstrates that despite the various explosions in popularity (and subsequent implosions) for right-wing candidates like Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, the Dems are not taking their eyes off the candidate that most pundits still expect to be the Republican nominee.

    The Dem video replays video of Romney outlining the idea: “each soldier gets X thousand dollars attributed to them and then they can choose whether they want to go on the government system or the private system and then it follows them, like what happens with schools in Florida where they have a voucher that goes with them.”

    The video then asks in on-screen text, “But what if a voucher doesn’t cover the care for our wounded warriors?” This is then followed by more video of Romney, seeming to think aloud, “Who knows?”

    The video then spotlights a story from Tuesday, when a veteran who was silently protesting Romney’s idea was escorted out of a campaign event.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Helping Medical Students Choose Primary Care

    By Rebecca Spitzgo, Associate Admin.for the Bureau of Clinician and Recruitment

    Posted November 15, 2011

    As a fourth year medical student, you make one of the toughest decisions of your life: what field of medicine to enter. Today, with the help of the Affordable Care Act, we are launching a new effort to help more medical students become primary care physicians.

    The $12 million National Health Service Corps Students-to-Service Loan Repayment Program Pilot program, supported by the Affordable Care Act, aims to make it easier for decision-making fourth-year medical students to choose primary care as their field of choice.

    The program provides support to medical students by helping to repay their often burdensome loans in return for a commitment to serve as primary care clinicians in an underserved area upon completion of a residency program. Students can receive loan repayment of up to $120,000 in return for three years of full-time service or six years of half-time service in areas of the country where there are primary care physician shortages .

    We are particularly excited about this new program because it not only boosts our nation’s primary care workforce, but it boosts our National Health Service Corps. Just last month, we announced that we now have more than 10,000 NHSC clinicians. That means nearly three times the number of NHSC clinicians are working in communities across America than just three years ago, thanks to investments like those from the Affordable Care Act. And these clinicians are providing quality care to more than 10.5 million people at more than 17,000 NHSC health care sites in urban, rural and frontier areas. That’s an amazing number, and with this new pilot program, we look forward to serving even more patients in needy communities across the country as we expand the primary care workforce.

    Interested students can apply online here. The NHSC anticipates making 100 Student-to-Service Loan Repayment Program awards in the pilot year. The 2012 NHSC Students to Service application cycle will remain open until December 14, 2011.

  18. rikyrah says:

    November 16, 2011
    The more intriguing rumble, yet to come
    Ross Douthat accurately frames the exciting new challenger:

    [Newt Gingrich] suddenly has a clear path to the great prize of this Republican presidential campaign: The chance to finish a respectable second to Mitt Romney.

    That Romney has all along been the inevitable nominee is beginning to soak into some pretty thick skulls on the far right (among whom Douthat is certainly not included). What alarms is that the profoundly squirrelly “resistance” has held so firm for so long, has maintained the majority, and has demonstrated an almost kamikaze eagerness to polish off what’s left of the traditional GOP.

    From here on out, the only real suspense will come in which faction — the conservative or pseudoconservative — opens a clear path to winning the party after it is, or so I suspect, crushed in 2012.

  19. rikyrah says:

    The Other Penn State Cover-Up: Death Threats Against Black Students

    Hate mail to black students and a death, all swept away by PSU
    As news unravels around the grand jury report revealing charges against former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky for raping and sexually molesting underage boys, some former black Penn State students are now painfully reliving a scandal that occurred at their university ten years ago. In 2000, the year a janitor witnessed a boy younger than 13 (“Victim 8” in a grand jury report) “pinned against a wall” while Sandusky performed oral sex on him, black students and football players on Penn State’s campus began receiving hate mail.

    The hate mail sent to black students had nothing to do with Sandusky’s proclivities, but the two incidences shared something in common: both were ultimately covered up by the university, even as both chain of events grew worse. Sandusky went on to molest and possibly rape more boys, according to a grand jury report (Sandusky denies foul play), and hate mail against black students became death threats.

    Ultimately, a black man’s dead body was found by police near Penn State as one of the death threats said it would. And some black students had to attend their graduation the following May with bulletproof vests on in fear of their life.

    But few know about the death threats because Penn State and Joe Paterno were not willing to allow bad publicity to ruin the university’s image, say some of the black students at the center of the tragic events.

    LaKeisha Wolf was president of Penn State’s Black Caucus ten years ago, and she received the lion’s share of life-threatening letters. Today, she watches the news about Sandusky’s rape charges, the firing of Joe Paterno and Penn State president Graham Spanier, and the student riots that ensued, and it takes her right back to her days dealing with the university.

    In fact, Wolf and other concerned black students met with Paterno back in 2001 because of information circulating that black football players, like then-quarterback Rashard Casey, had been receiving death threats. Wolf recalls Paterno as almost emotionless.

    “He didn’t necessarily blatantly show concern,” says Wolf. “He was just really composed — kinda non-emotional I would say. It was like he would have had the same amount of energy and response whether we were talking about death threats or what was for lunch. It was just a non-descript kind of demeanor.”

  20. rikyrah says:

    November 16, 2011
    Occupational bullshit

    Progressive inspirationalist Katrina vanden Heuvel outdoes herself today in a Rooney-Garland “Strike Up the Band” fever. Then again, she’s always in hyperdrive, bubbling with irrepressible enthusiasm for the Progressive Cause, which, I suppose, helps to bolster the often sagging spirits of the truly believing and magazine-subscribing. After all, if the New Testament ended in, Who the hell knows?, there wouldn’t be many church-attending Christians.

    Yet I come not to bury Katrina, but to parse her — which is one of those more effortless exercises to properly start one’s day. She pronounces:

    Occupy is a protest movement — one that has transformed the landscape of politics, by forcing the country to face the reality of entrenched inequality and power and address what should be done about it.

    Among the movement’s protagonists, this has been the principal response to the question hurled by befuddled agnostics, if not antagonists: But what is the movement all about? Why — comes the answer — it is about enlightening America’s Everyman about America’s “entrenched inequality and power.” One must then ask, however: Among the population that is acutely aware of the Occupy movement’s message, what percentage wasn’t already aware of America’s entrenched inequality and power?


    It is indeed a rhetorical question, which no honest movementeer would trouble him- or herself to treat otherwise, since the uncomfortable answer — see R.Q. — is so strikingly self-evident. Virtually everyone who has bothered to follow the protests has done so with a preexisting, corresponding knowledge of vast socioeconomic inequality and brute, systemic power. The degree to which this knowledge is intimate may vary, but broadly, it is a constant of current-events awareness.

    Ah, the movementeer may protest, but we’ve honed and heightened that awareness. Really? The tea partiers who turned out in 2010 would have concurred essentially with vanden Heuvel’s diagnosis, for partisan definitions — what constitutes the entrenchment of the multitudes’ inequality and elitist power — are quite fluid. And the progressives whom vanden Heuval now rallies then demonstrated, in turn, their heightened awareness of the disaffecting powers-that-be by poignantly staying home.

    Now, true enough, progressives and tea partiers may significantly alter their electoral behavior in 2012; but that isn’t to note that their awareness will have been altered or heightened appreciably. Same armies, same battle, same situational awareness — nonetheless a possibly different outcome, given the vicissitudes of political war.

    Beware of “consciousness raising” pronouncements. They’re very rarely authentic.

  21. CBS News:

    Man accused of firing shot at White House arrested in Pennsylvania

    • Ametia says:

      I’m not feeling real confident in the current WH Secret Service..

      • Man arrested on suspicion of firing bullet at White House

        Police in Pennsylvania arrested a man today on suspicion of firing bullets at the White House, one of which struck a bullet-proof window.

        Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said Pennsylvania police, acting on information provided by the service, arrested Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Herndandez at a hotel near Indiana, Pennsylvania, at around 12:35 p.m.

        “Ortega-Hernandez is currently in the custody of the Pennsylvania State Police,” Donovan said.

        The arrest took place hours after the Secret Service reported that a bullet hit a White House window, but was stopped by bulletproof glass.

        The service later said it had found a round of ammunition recovered from the exterior of the White House grounds.

        There had been reports of gunfire near the White House on Friday.

        This has all taken place since President Obama left for a nine-day trip to Hawaii, Australia and Indonesia.

        On Wednesday, law enforcement officials could be seen taking a photo of a window on the upper floor on the south side of the White House (the side facing The Mall, away from Pennsylvania Avenue).

        The Associated Press reported:

        The Secret Service discovered Tuesday that two bullets had hit the White House, one of them apparently cracking a window on the residential level while President Barack Obama was traveling.

        The discovery of the bullet holes followed reports of gunfire near the White House on Friday night, although the bullets have not been conclusively connected with the Friday shooting. An assault rifle and an abandoned vehicle were found, which led authorities to link Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez to the reported gunfire.

        Ortega, 21, was arrested Wednesday afternoon by Pennsylvania authorities at a hotel near Indiana, Pa., the Secret Service said. He was in Pennsylvania State Police custody.

        How could ish like this happen? 2 bullets hitting the White House? GTFOOH!

  22. Ametia says:

    Half the Members of Congress are MILLIONAIRES
    Published: Wednesday 16 November 2011

    Half the members of Congress enjoys “1 percent” status as millionaires, according to a new study by the Center for Responsive Politics.
    While the economy at home and abroad has limped along since 2008, Congress’ estimated median net worth remains robust—up about 7.6 percent from 2009 and about 13 percent from 2008.
    Although members of the Senate boast bigger bank accounts on average over their counterparts in the House of Representatives, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California bucks the trend. His average net worth of $448 million makes him the wealthiest member of the 112th Congress, according to the Center’s analysis. Issa owes his fortune in part to his business Directed Electronics, an automobile security company best known for its Viper alarm system. The congressman’s own voice warned potential car thieves who got too close to his products, “Protected by Viper, s and back.”

  23. Obama 2012: SEIU Gives Early Endorsement, Citing '99 Percent'

    WASHINGTON — One of the nation’s largest labor unions gave President Obama an early 2012 endorsement on Wednesday, pledging to spend nearly a full year focusing on its get-out-the-vote efforts even as Republicans haven’t yet determined a candidate.

    Mary Kay Henry, president of the Services Employees International Union, said the early nod to the president was meant to give them a jump on organizing and to make it “crystal clear” which direction the union believes the country should be heading in.


    At the end of November 2011, the government will start deporting all the Crazy people!!! I started crying when I thought of YOU!!! RUN My little Crazy Friends RUN!!!. . . . Well, what can I say? Someone sent it to me and MAN, I’M NOT RUNNING ALONE!!! HURRY – WE GOTTA GO!!


  25. rikyrah says:

    16-2011 12:03 PM

    Cain: ‘I’m Not Supposed To Know Anything About Foreign Policy’

    The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel spent a day aboard Herman Cain’s campaign bus and came away with several noteworthy quotations from the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO.

    “I’m not supposed to know anything about foreign policy,” Cain said. “I want to talk to commanders on the ground. Because you run for president (people say) you need to have the answer. No, you don’t! No, you don’t! That’s not good decision-making.”

    Cain is apparently already making his post-presidency plans.

    “I call it a journey, not just a campaign, because it doesn’t stop,” he said. “We’re in the primary. Then you run for president. You win the presidency, serve four years. (Then you) might have to serve eight at the insistence of the people. Then after that, launch a Cain library,” then a post-presidential speaking tour, he mused.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Senate Republicans Toss DeMint Under The Bus On Tax Increases
    Brian Beutler November 16, 2011, 11:23 AM

    Something you don’t see very often in the Capitol: a Wednesday morning press conference with dozens of House and Senate members of both parties – including Republicans – acknowledging that they’d support a big deficit reduction proposal that includes higher tax revenue.

    But wait, aren’t several of those Republicans the same ones who recently signed a letter, written by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), asking that the Super Committee recommend “no net tax increase”?

    Indeed they are. And asked to address the inconsistency, one of those signatories basically said they don’t feel bound to DeMint’s demands.

    “Each of us have stated our preference for what we would do if we were doing it our own selves,” said Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), referring to the terms of the letter. “And the Republicans who have said that they don’t believe that raising taxes right now is the right way to approach the solution come from that perspective. What we are here today, however, to say is that we are ready to make compromises and build the solutions that can help bring all the parties together.”

    Who knows whether the “Go Big” caucus would really stick together if the Super Committee recommended a package of $4 trillion in unpopular budget cuts and tax increases. But a substantial number of them are very publicly breaking from their negotiating positions. That’ll tick off DeMint, but the question is whether the showing is big enough to make Republicans on the Super Committee feel they have enough of a cushion below them to cut the conservative movement loose.

    “So the fact that you may have members standing here who have different ideas about how far they would personally like to go on taxes or how far they would personally like to go on entitlement reform does not mean that they are not ready to stand here and make the kinds of decisions that will help us as a nation to solve our fiscal crisis,” Crapo said.

  27. rikyrah says:

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011
    Super Committee Super Collider, Part 2
    Posted by Zandar
    The Super Committee’s deficit reduction plans seem to have hit a bit of a snag in the “additional revenue” department.

    It’s hard to see how the Super Committee can possibly reach a consensus by this time next week after Republican co-chair Jeb Hensarling’s appearance on CNBC Tuesday night. The short version is that he left the ball in Democrats court, and hinted that if the committee fails, Congress will spend the next year or so trying to change the terms of an automatic penalty to make sure that hundreds of billions of cuts to defense programs never take effect.

    Hensarling claimed that if the committee recommended even a dollar of new net tax revenue — the kind of revenue Dems are demanding — it would constitute a step in the wrong direction. He said a GOP plan put forward by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) — one which Republicans claim would raise revenues by nearly $300 billion over 10 years, but would also make the Bush tax cuts permanent — is as far as Republicans are willing to go on revenues. But that’s an offer Democrats flatly rejected as unserious. And unless one of the parties breaks cleanly with its publicly stated position, the committee will either fall well short of reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years as required by law, or will fail altogether.

    The Super Committee was never going to reach a deal, and the cuts were never going to happen. As long as Republicans can filibuster in the Senate and/or control the House (and right now they can do both) nothing substantive will get done legislatively. Ever. It’s designed to fail, because the GOP assures it will. That nine percent approval rating doesn’t matter because 85%-90% of Congress will get re-elected even in a “wave election” year like 2008 and again in 2010. It’s the same thing.

    It’s depressing, but true.

    Meanwhile, Jeb Hensarling is running around saying that the Democrats have to give him 100% of what he wants, and then he’ll maybe decide what he and the GOP can deign to give back. But as usual, their starting position is complete victory or else.

    Same as it ever was.

  28. rikyrah says:

    Karl Rove Flips Out At Protesters: ‘Who Gave You The Right To Occupy America?’
    By Zaid Jilani on Nov 16, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Last night, former Bush official Karl Rove appeared at Johns Hopkins University to speak as a part of the annual Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium. Rove soon discovered that he wasn’t going to deliver his right-wing rhetoric unopposed, as a cry of “Mic Check!” rang out among the audience.

    “Karl Rove is the architect of Occupy Iraq, the architect of Occupy Afghanistan!” yelled the demonstrators. Occupy Baltimore had infiltrated the crowd and began chanting against Rove. “Who gave you the right to occupy America?” asked Rove to the protesters, apparently unaware of the Bill of Rights. As they repeated their slogan, “We are the 99 percent!” Rove petulantly responded, “No you’re not!” He snidely added, “You wanna keep jumping up and yelling that you’re the 99 percent? How presumptuous and arrogant can you think are!” Watch Occupy Baltimore confront Rove:

  29. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    November 16, 2011 11:30 AM

    Waiting for Newt to give the money back
    By Steve Benen

    There are all kinds of reasons it’s a problem that Newt Gingrich made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from Freddie Mac. For one thing, he’s based much of his campaign rhetoric lately on his disdain for the mortgage giant. For another, it suggests Gingrich lied about the nature of his work.

    For that matter, it’s a reminder that after Gingrich was forced by his own party to resign from Congress in disgrace, he played a tired Beltway game — he leveraged his notoriety to make a lot of money in the lobbying/consulting racket.

    But David Kurtz adds yet another wrinkle this morning.

    In his unfailing piety, Newt Gingrich in 2008, fresh off his paid gig for Freddie Mac, went on Fox News and counseled John McCain to demand that Obama “give back all the money that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae gave to you.”

    Then a week later he urged John McCain to exploit “the close ties Chris Dodd, Barack Obama and Barney Frank have to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

    I guess the next question for the top-tier Republican presidential candidate is, “When will Gingrich give back the money?”

    Update: Newt also told Fox News in September he wanted to see investigations into politicians with “ties” to Freddie Mac. Oops.

  30. rikyrah says:

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011
    Last Call
    Posted by Zandar
    Looks like The Odious Patrick McHenry is getting a challenger he should worry about for NC-10 next year: Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy.

    Washington is broken, and people are tired of watching the bickering and political posturing while businesses and families are struggling,” said Terry Bellamy. “As mayor, I’m expected to get results and we should expect no less from our Representatives. It’s time to send some people to Congress who can get the job done, and put North Carolina and the country back to work.”

    A lifelong resident of Asheville, Bellamy is married to Lamont Bellamy and the mother of two children, Seth and Imani and her nephew, Keithan. She is the first African-­‐American and the youngest person elected mayor of the city. In 2009, she handily won re-­election to a second four-­‐year term.

    Bellamy said jobs would continue to be her top priority. Most of the counties in the district have double-­‐digit unemployment and have been hard hit by trade policies that sent manufacturing jobs overseas.

    “We need to refocus our priorities and stop outsourcing our jobs,” said Bellamy. “Instead of looking at companies’ bottom lines, we need to look at families’ bottom lines. We need to make serious investments in education that give our people the skills to create a workforce that attracts new industries and keeps those that are already here.”

    I’m going to say this: an African-American woman Democratic challenger in NC-10 means this is going to be about as nasty a race as it can possibly get from McHenry. It’s going to be nothing short of brutal, but Terry Bellamy knows this. More power to her.

    I’d love to see my hometown Teabagger go down in flames. Here’s hoping.

  31. rikyrah says:

    November 15, 2011
    Two — actually three — entirely different worlds

    The Post’s Jennifer Rubin, in one of her more hilarious fits of high indignation, fuming overtime about “the upswing in violence, mayhem and public filth stemming from those about whom the left was cooing only a couple weeks ago”:

    In their frenzy to find a grassroots movement on the left and in their insistence that the public really did support these people, the left-leaning elites tried mightily to ignore the instances of anti-Semitism, violence and fouling of public places. When that became impossible, they simply chose to ignore the whole disgusting mess. Had they been candid from the start about what the Occupy protesters looked like, sounded like and believed, the liberal punditocracy might not be embarrassed (is that possible?), or, at the very least, anxious that someone might call its members out for their immensely dishonest portrayal of the Occupy phenomenon

    And then, there’s the Post’s James Downie

    Never mind that Occupy Wall Street has continually cleaned the park itself, or that health experts who have visited the park have pronounced it sanitary, or that even Bloomberg could cite only one incident that threatened public safety in his statement about the eviction…. All this while, as Matt Taibbi put it last week, “in the skyscrapers above the protests, anything goes.” Nobody arrested the bankers for pushing fraudulent loans and subprime mortgage investments, or the ratings agencies and government regulators that neglected their duties and helped Wall Street crash the global economy. But putting tents in a public park? Time to bring out the batons and pepper spray.

    I’m neutral on this. Against Rubin’s charges, I’ve yet to coo, although to paraphrase Claude Rains, I’m but a poor, corrupt (and minor) official of the “liberal punditocracy.” On the other hand, in response to Downie/Taibbi, I still can’t understand how a volcanic meltdown of finance capitalism could be an outrageous surprise to … anyone. It’s what it does, regularly, systemically, inherently — especially when “We the People” put Gingrich Revolutionaries and Bushie boneheads in majority power, to oversee it.

    What’s more, the virtuous electorate put them back in effective power a mere two years later.

    One tries to grasp, or reconcile, the preceding complacency and the present outrage. The latter, to me, seems somewhat theatrically melodramatic, whereas the former seems genuine.

  32. rikyrah says:

    The buck stops here
    by DougJ

    I’m sure this is a coincidence (via):

    Joe Paterno transferred full ownership of his house to his wife, Sue, for $1 in July, less than four months before a sexual abuse scandal engulfed his Penn State football program and the university.

    Documents filed in Centre County, Pa., show that on July 21, Paterno’s house near campus was turned over to “Suzanne P. Paterno, trustee” for a dollar plus “love and affection.” The couple had previously held joint ownership of the house, which they bought in 1969 for $58,000.

    This is another classic 60s tactic for avoiding liability. After 30 or 40 years of hippies muddying the water, what do you expect?

  33. rikyrah says:

    Eat Your Arugula and Shut Up
    by BooMan
    Tue Nov 15th, 2011 at 10:06:24 PM EST

    I was in the car quite a bit today and I was able to catch about ten minutes of the Rush Limbaugh Show and about ten minutes of the Sean Hannity Show. What I learned is that nothing enrages conservatives more than public officials suggesting that people eat arugula. I also learned that Sean Hannity cannot conceive of a place anywhere in America where there are no grocery stores. Nor can he conceive of a grocery store that has such a sorry selection of produce that no one would want to eat it. So, for him, everyone has an equal opportunity to eat a healthy diet. Let me make one thing clear.

    I lived for five years in neighborhoods of Philadelphia that had no grocery stores. We had what we called “corner stores.” These stores had basic staples like eggs, milk, and bread. They usually sold some cold cuts of very uneven quality. But, mostly, they sold total crap. The only fruit you would ever see was bananas. And there were no vegetables of any kind, except maybe in a can. I had to get in a car to go to the type of grocery store most people think of as grocery stores. That’s the reality for most people living in our inner cities. The Obamas understand this because they’ve lived it.

  34. rikyrah says:

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011
    Moving Forward At Your Own Perry-il, Part 11
    Posted by Zandar
    With his campaign in shambles, Rick Perry returned to Iowa and went for broke with the full Tea Party rewrite of the Constitution, knowing that there’s no point now in pretending he’s a moderate in any way.

    Gov. Rick Perry of Texas on Tuesday announced a proposal to alter the federal government that ranks among the most radical plans offered by any major Republican presidential candidate this year — and one that legal analysts say will almost surely never happen: making Congress operate part-time with half pay and ending lifetime tenure for federal judges.

    “I don’t believe that Washington needs a new coat of paint — I think the whole place needs to be overhauled,” Mr. Perry said, speaking to applause from more than 100 people on the floor of the Schebler manufacturing plant here. “I’m a true believer that we need to uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C., and our federal institutions.”

    Mr. Perry, who is trying to reboot a campaign that is lagging in the polls, proposed cutting the pay of Congress in half (or by three-fourths, under one proposal he sketched out) and halving both its budget and the time members spend in Washington.

    “We have a lot of well-intentioned members of Congress, but they have become creatures of Washington,” Mr. Perry said. “They get paid more than three times the average American family, and they have doubled their own budgets in the last decade.”

    Mr. Perry also vowed to “reform” the federal judiciary. “Too many federal judges rule with impunity from the bench,” he said, “and those who legislate from the bench should not be entitled to lifetime abuse of their judicial authority.” He proposed 18-year terms, staggered every two years, for new Supreme Court justices, and suggested similar limits on federal appellate and district court judges.

    Shorter Perry: If I am elected as Rock in 2012, I promise to nerf Paper, and to nerf Scissors too for good measure.

    It’s telling that Perry’s basically relying on the lunatic fringe to power what’s left of his campaign at this point, promising to end the Departments of Everything on top of all this stuff, putting tens of thousands out of work, cutting off government services to pretty much everyone, and all while not having a chance in hell of actually enacting his plan. But it doesn’t matter, he’s just reduced to being as crazy as he can possibly be right now in order to try to win back the increasingly insane GOP base.

    They deserve each other, frankly. But of course, all of us deserve better than them.

  35. rikyrah says:

    November 16, 2011 8:00 AM

    Why the super-committee is moving backwards

    By Steve Benen

    The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — better known as the super-committee — has one week to go before it’s supposed to present a bipartisan debt-reduction plan totaling at least $1.2 trillion. By all indications, the panel is failing miserably, and as of yesterday, was moving backwards.

    The process may seem a little complicated, but the sticking points are straightforward and predictable. Democrats want a balanced package, including a combination of spending cuts and new tax revenue, along with measures to address the top Democratic priority: job creation.

    Republicans want massive spending cuts, no investments in the economy, and tax cuts — which move the super-committee further from its goal, not closer.

    There’s been some talk lately about GOP willingness to accept some new revenue, a move that has impressed some media figures like David Gregory and Judy Woodroff. They’re overlooking all of the relevant details — Republicans are willing to accept $250 billion in new revenue through limiting deductions and write-offs, but only if Democrats make all of the Bush-era tax cuts permanent, at a cost of $3.7 trillion that the GOP has no intention of paying for.

    Yes, the Republican debt-reduction proposal deliberately increases the debt. Welcome to GOP politics in the 21st century.

    While some in the media inexplicably find this impressive, Democrats and those aware of the details do not. And so, with a week to go, nothing is happening.

    Perhaps the most amusing angle of the debate at this point is the intra-party conflict among Republicans.

    On one side of the revenue debate are conservative Republicans like Hensarling of Texas and Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, two members of the deficit cutting supercommittee, who are privately telling their colleagues that they aren’t abandoning their principles by raising several hundreds of billions in fresh revenue by closing loopholes, as long as Congress is able to lower tax rates across the board.

    On the other side are conservatives like Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina and roughly 70 House Republicans, who are adamantly opposed to the bulk of the revenue raisers proposed, warning it’s bad policy and politics, and could become a black eye for their party.

    Got that? The GOP divide is between right-wing members (those willing to trade $250 billion in new revenue for $3.7 trillion in tax cuts, mostly benefiting the wealthy) and very right-wing members (those who want to reduce the debt without accepting any revenue at all).

    Making matters slightly worse, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) told CNBC last night that he wanted to see a debt-reduction plan that was 100% spending cuts, combined with additional tax cuts, and that’s “as far as we feel we can go.”

    Hensarling is the co-chair of the entire super-committee.

    When this panel fails next week, major news organizations will tell the public that “both sides” chose not to reach an agreement. Those reports will be wrong.

  36. rikyrah says:

    Brand: Money

    Anyone who spends any time at all paying attention to Liberal politics knows who Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers are. We all pretty much are familiar with the unconscionable Supreme Court Citizens United decision that allows unlimited funds to be used for political campaigns of every sort. And most of us have made the association between Karl Rove and American Crossroads, and the Koch Brothers with Americans for Prosperity. Guess who does NOT know this? The average voter. This is where we are presented with an opportunity to influence how people perceive the advertisement they see, hear and get in their mailboxes.

    Branding a product or an idea is a powerful tool that can attach a specific set of desired responses to a product. In politics, that desired response is emotional in context. For decades the Republican Party has been branding itself as ‘Strong on Defense’, ‘Fiscally Responsible’ and ‘Pro Limited Government’. Then they proceeded to abuse the military to the point of breaking it, ruin the economy and grow government by leaps and bounds. Once their brand was tarnished by the out-going President Bush, they created a new brand: The Tea Party. Before that brand lost its luster, they succeeded in getting their Party back into position to extend their reach for the next decade with redistricting to protect those gains.

    Our President understands the power of branding. Take his logo for instance and how effectively it has been forever associated with him. That didn’t happen by accident.

    The complex set of meanings that logo bears for us is a testament to the ability of a brand to make statements over a broad demographic.

    I believe President Obama’s keen understanding of how people form their perceptions about a candidate and a Party is why he has zeroed in on dismantling the Republican Brand. The ‘Grand Bargain’ that was declined by the Republicans during the debt ceiling debate went a long way toward extending the belief voters harbor that the problems with our economy, debt and deficit are still largely owned by the Republicans. His unique foreign policy and deadly effective use of our Armed Forces in a newly restrained fashion, relying more heavily on diplomacy than aggression have greatly diminished the Republican’s claim to the ‘Strong on Defense’ label. Slowly but surely, he is counter-branding the Republicans as weak on defense and fiscally irresponsible. This is no mean feat.

    But then there sits those two Super PACs poised to undo all his hard work with their smear campaigns. This is our opportunity to sabotage their efforts. We can begin now by branding these behemoths with the two dirtiest terms in the American zeitgeist right now: Big Banks and Big Oil.

    Why don’t we just say Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers? Because these names: Karl Rove, David Koch and Charles Koch won’t appear on any ballots anywhere in this land, that’s why. President Obama isn’t going to be running against Rove or the Kochs, he’s going to be running against the Republican nominee. The average voter has no idea who these people are and we don’t have a way to educate them during the brief three months they will be paying attention before the General Election of 2012. We don’t have to if we start now by helping our friends, family, co-workers and general acquaintances learn this:

    American Crossroads
    is a Front Group for the
    Big Banks.
    Americans for Prosperity is a Front Group for Big Oil.

    The goal here is to help people make sense of the barrage of advertising that will be inflicted upon them for the next year. We don’t have to explain the tactics of the wording, or the dark images and spooky voices in the advertisements. All we need to do is show them where to look to see who paid for the advertisement. It won’t be hard to do since the bulk of the ads out there will be from these two Political Action Committees. If we continue to highlight the idea of paying closer attention to who is paying for the ad than the ad itself, that’s even better. An added bonus might be that people begin to feel more empowered when they can filter these ads by dismissing out of hand all the ones that come from scary dark places. Even if we ourselves get the two mixed up, it doesn’t matter. They both represent the Oil and Bank Barons who have been robbing us blind. That’s something most voters can relate to with ease. And it is something they can relate to voting against. No name on the ballot, but definitely the people responsible for our economic woes.

    We do have the power and the ability to brand these SuperPACs like cattle among our real world contacts. It can even be done generically. Any PAC that is delivering a message we don’t like, label it to your friends or family: Front Group For: fill in the blank with whatever hated Corporate Entity is at the top of their s**t list. From Big Pharma to Insurance Giants, there’s always somebody to tag with the negative ad. This plays into the human willingness to believe conspiracy theories. If they think they’ve got some dirt on a hated or distrusted entity, they are more than willing to spread it to their social circles. If the information is delivered to them in the context of a whisper campaign it’s even more effective. Rather than pronounce from on high that you have this knowledge that they don’t possess, whisper it. For example: “I’ve seen these ads before from this group, but then I was shocked when someone told me that American Crossroads is a Front Group For Big Banks.” This way no proof is required, nor do we have to spend any time trying to convince the listener. Either they believe it or they don’t, but it’s most likely they will believe it.

    Avoid straying into the territory of labeling a negative ad as a Republican trick or tactic. When fighting for the hearts and minds of Independent voters, we must always keep forefront in our minds the very nature of what being an Independent means: They do sometimes vote for Republicans and Democrats and don’t hold either Party with particular contempt. For this reason attributing negative advertisements solely to the Republicans might backfire.

    It comes down to this: We are not helpless to these SuperPacs or all the Corporate Dollars funding Republican campaigns and initiatives. There has been more than enough evidence in the past 18 months to prove to us that knocking on doors and making phone calls and dealing directly with voters face-to-face is much more powerful than well-funded campaigns. Ask the people of California about their Governor’s race in 2010, or the people of Ohio who just succeeded in repealing SB5. And if we really want to look for and find the silver lining in all this, look at the opportunities given to us by these voter ID laws. We will have to work our tails off to counter these attempts to make voting more difficult, but in so doing, we will be having hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of personal contacts with real voters just to get them registered and able to vote. I think the people who spend time registering voters and educating them about the laws and restrictions and barriers to voting are going to be the ones who have the greatest influence over who these voters cast their ballots for on Election Day than the people who are bombarding them with negative advertising. That’s something the Republicans can’t duplicate with scary mailers and TV/Radio ads. Person-to-person trumps media every time.

  37. rikyrah says:

    November 16, 2011 8:40 AM
    A new ‘Bubble Boy’
    By Steve Benen

    One of the more exasperating practices of the Bush/Cheney gang was its “Bubble Boy” policies. Bush’s team went to almost comical lengths to host overly-controlled events that shielded the president from anything even resembling dissent. These folks even screened public audiences at public events based on bumper stickers, clothing, and lapel pins — if Bush staffers didn’t approve of their perceptions about your ideology, you were out of luck.

    We’re starting to see signs that Mitt Romney is following in Bush’s footsteps.

    On Friday, in a very controversial move, Romney expressed support for privatizing veterans’ health care, endorsing the notion of giving vets health care vouchers that they could use in the private market. It’s a horrible idea, strongly opposed by groups like the VFW.

    Yesterday in South Carolina, several veterans wanted to express their concerns about this — and that’s when Romney’s “Bubble Boy” policies kicked in.

    A handful of people wearing “Vets against VA vouchers” T-shirts showed up at Mitt Romney’s economic speech in Columbia to express opposition to an idea the GOP presidential candidate has floated about privatizing health care for military veterans. […]

    [Navy veteran and Columbia resident Melissa Harmon] said they had no intention of being disruptive and that she “stood there politely” when she revealed her “Vets against VA vouchers” T-shirt, but at different times they were escorted outside by Romney campaign aides, who allegedly told them to leave the premises.

    They left the parking lot without incident and repositioned across the street where Romney would presumably see them as he was leaving.

    American Bridge 21st Century posted a video of the incident.

    Clearly, if folks show up for a public event and become disruptive, it stands to reason they’ll be escorted away. But if four U.S. military veterans attend a public event, it’s inappropriate to kick them out because a Republican campaign doesn’t like their shirts.

    The shirt wasn’t obscene, it wasn’t threatening, and it’s unlikely Romney would have even noticed it. So why did Romney aides feel the need to throw these veterans out?

  38. Ametia says:

    Giffords’s husband scolds Boehner for not visiting wounded lawmaker
    By Emily Goodin – 11/15/11 08:32 PM ET

    In a new book, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s (D-Ariz.) husband scolds House Speaker John Boehner for failing to visit his wounded wife while she was recovering from injuries sustained in a shooting.

    In his and his wife’s new volume, Mark Kelly writes that Boehner (R-Ohio) didn’t take an opportunity to visit Giffords when he was in Houston for a basketball game and added that all they heard from the Speaker after the shooting came in the form of “a simple get-well card.”

    Kelly noted that in April, Boehner was in Houston for the NCAA Final Four Tournament while Giffords was at a rehabilitation center there following the Jan. 8 attempt on her life.

    • Ametia says:

      Interviewer: Harry Reid said yesterday, and frankly we’ve heard this from a lot of Democrats, the Republicans oppose the jobs bill for political reasons, that it helps them if the economy stays in bad shape. But, is that fair?

      Sanchez: Well, it certainly is fair. I mean, I’ve heard my own colleagues on the Republican side say, “We just want to make Obama look so bad. We don’t care how bad the economy gets. We can win this election, we want our president –”

      Interviewer: You’ve heard them say that?

      Sanchez: Yes. They have said that. They’ve said that! They’ve said that behind closed doors to me! They said, “Nothing is moving.” They said, “We want to make him look bad. We want to get rid of him. We want to get rid of the health care reform bill.” They only way they believe they can get rid of health care reform is to get rid of President Obama.

      Interviewer: Who is saying that, Congresswoman?

      Sanchez: Well, I’m not gonna … these are actual friends on the other side who have said, “This is what is happening in our conference”, in their groupings when they’re meeting.

  39. rikyrah says:

    The stockholm syndrome of the professional left: Ezra Klein edition
    Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | Posted by rootless_e at 5:32 PM

    Ezra Klein writes in the Washington Post that the usual terrible negotiating, weak, caving and so on by the Democrats has resulted in devastating cuts to the programs that are the highest priorities for Democrats like – um, well like none of them. Yes, despite the Republican/Tea Party taking total control of the US House of Representatives and tiny Democratic majority in the Senate that depends on some quite conservative Senators, the Democratic Party has successfully defended its budget priorities – the safety net for the poor and helpless, education, and new energy programs.

    Furthermore the Democrats have fought off GOP attempts to defund the EPA and to kill Planned Parenthood. This despite an unprecedentedly disciplined – cult like – Republican Party that votes unanimously on all issues and that openly is attempting to destroy the economy in order to defeat the President. And the President has often had to beat back defectors in his own party – even some of the most liberal members who should be his core supporters. And yet, Klein writes paragraph after paragraph about the weakness of the Democratic negotiations! Why? Because it is axiomatic in DC, among Republicans and among the professional left/liberal media that the Democrats are weak. This must be true in the narrative, no matter what the facts – so that Klein has to write openly ridiculous stuff like this

    the fact remains: Their [Republicans] strategy of saying no has, thus far, paid great dividends, though not ones Republicans have decided to collect.

    There you go: the Republican strategy of “saying no” is so tough and the Democratic response so weak that the Republicans have not even bothered to collect any wins. In other words, the actual situation is that the GOP has not won anything despite taking control of the House, but this is such a violation of narrative that Klein has to insist that they just left their winnings on the table – um, because.

  40. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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