Monday Open Thread

Keith Lionel Urban (born 26 October 1967) is a New Zealand-born Australian, country music singer, songwriter and guitarist whose commercial success has been mainly in the United States and Australia. Urban was born in New Zealand and began his career in Australia at an early age. In 1991, he released a self-titled debut album, and charted four singles in Australia before moving to the United States in 1992. Eventually, Urban found work as a session guitarist before starting a band known as The Ranch, which recorded one studio album on Capitol Records and charted two singles on the Billboard country charts.

About SouthernGirl2

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

  1. rikyrah says:

    Rush Limbaugh Claims NASCAR Fans Booed Michelle Obama Because She’s Uppity
    November 21, 2011
    By Jason Easley

    On his radio show today, Rush Limbaugh justified the booing of First Lady Michelle Obama at a NASCAR race as the crowd reacting to her uppityism.

    Here is the audio from Media Matters:

    Bottom line, we don’t like being told what to eat; we don’t like being told how much to exercise; we don’t like being told what we’ve got to drive; we don’t like wasting money; we don’t like our economy being bankrupted. We don’t like 14% unemployment. The question is, what the hell is there to cheer for when Miss Obama and Ms. Biden show up? NASCAR people, as are most people in this country, are mature, tolerant people, who fully understand when they’re being insulted and condescended to. And they remember being called bitter clingers. They know that in their hearts the Obamas don’t like them. We’ve taken notice of this, as has, by the way, Chris Matthews. And a lot of congressional Democrats are also fully aware that the Obamas just don’t like a lot of people, and they don’t like hanging around a lot of people.

    I’ll tell you something else. We don’t like paying millions of dollars for Mrs. Obama’s vacations. The NASCAR crowd doesn’t quite understand why when the husband and the wife are going to the same place, the first lady has to take her own Boeing 757 with family and kids and hangers-on four hours earlier than her husband, who will be on his 747. NASCAR people understand that’s a little bit of a waste. They understand it’s a little bit of uppity-ism. First ladies have not been known to hop their own 757s four hours ahead of their husband when they’re both going to the same place.

    Rush Limbaugh might have a set new record for the number of lies told about Michelle Obama in less than two minutes. I could go through them all, but anyone with a brain knows that unemployment is not 14%, the taxpayers aren’t paying millions of dollars for vacations, and Obama’s base is still as supportive as ever.

    What needs to be focused on here is the complete, comprehensive, and unabashed racism of Limbaugh’s rant. Rush’s defenders always claim that they and he aren’t racist, but there can be no other explanation for Limbaugh’s use of a variation of the term uppity other than racism. The term uppity is defined as taking liberties, or assuming airs beyond one’s station. Since Michelle Obama is black, she apparently is uppity because she acts like a First Lady. Rush Limbaugh never called Hillary Clinton, or Laura Bush uppity. Yet, Michelle Obama is uppity.

    NASCAR fans should be insulted by Limbaugh claim that they booed the First Lady because she is black. Rush Limbaugh labeled every NASCAR fan who booed a racist. He played into the old stereotype of NASCAR fans being racist, Southern, rednecks. There is one obvious reason beyond the fact that it is disrespectful to the First Lady of the United States that NASCAR fans should not have booed Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama was at the NASCAR race to support military families through her Joining Forces initiative.

    Way to go NASCAR fans. You not only booed an effort to support military families, but your stupidity has now helped further the stereotype, which Rush Limbaugh is using for political motives, that you are all racists.

    A few idiots at the track managed to take attention away from your sport’s classic battle between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards, and inject politics where it doesn’t belong.

    Who needs enemies when NASCAR fans have racists like Rush Limbaugh in their corner?

  2. rikyrah says:

    Lawrence O’Donnell is hilarious tonight on the SuperCommittee….he’s blasting the Congress, and breaking down how POTUS did so well during the debt reduction talks.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Romney’s Trial Balloon For Privatized Veterans Care Explodes
    Benjy Sarlin November 21, 2011, 5:09 PM 5457 72

    So much for that idea. Mitt Romney is rapidly walking back a proposal to partially privatize VA care after a wave of criticism from Democrats and veterans groups.

    “I have no proposal of that nature,” Romney told the Nashua Telegraph on Monday. “We had a group of veterans and said, ‘tell me about the quality of your care.’ Some were concerned about the quality of their health care. I said, ‘what kind of options do you have, what do you think about a system that let you go to private as well as VA hospitals?’ The response was mixed, but I don’t have any proposal of that nature. We have a VA system that needs to be improved and I’ve got no plans to change that other than to make it better and to invest more money in providing for our veterans.”

    Earlier this month in South Carolina, Romney floated the idea of a voucher system, telling a crowd at a BBQ restaurant: “Sometimes you wonder, would there be someway to introduce some private sector competition, somebody else that could come in and say, you know, 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 follows them. Who knows.”

    Democrats pounced with a web video highlighting the remarks. And Retired General Wesley Clark threw a parting shot at Romney as he retreated on the issue at a press conference on Monday.

    “I’m not sure exactly what Governor Romney was proposing — what I’ve seen, he throws out an idea, he takes back the idea,” Clark said in response to a question from TPM. “But I wouldn’t want our veterans to depend on vouchers for their care. When men and women join the United States Armed Forces we have an obligation as a nation to support them…I don’t believe it’s appropriate to trust that to a private voucher system. The VA hospitals are set up to focus on the kind of care our veterans need and we should emphasize that as this president has done.

  4. elonjames:

    I “think” the Super Committee failed. I’m not sure because I can’t hear the news over the collective laughter of Democrats

  5. rikyrah says:

    Down with the Ship
    November 21, 2011 6:34 A.M.
    By Michael Walsh

    Back from the SS National Review’s tour of the eastern Caribbean to find the WaPo’s Chris Cillizza making the same point I made on board ship to cruisers and fellow speakers alike: You may think Obama is eminently beatable, but unlike Mitt Romney, he has a solid base that is a dead-certain lock to be there for him next year:

    Meanwhile, “electable” Romney stays moored at around a quarter of the GOP primary electorate, and as a “frontrunner” has been happily chucked overboard for every not-Romney flavor of the month, including Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and now Mr. Newt. Head-to-head with Romney next year, Obama will sink him handily.

    Meanwhile, Say-Anything Mitt has no home port and is unlikely find one beyond the generic anti-Obama vote. Which, alas, will not be big enough or motivated enough to evict Cap’n Barry from the White House bridge as he madly steers the ship of state into the iceberg. Indeed, the campaign will begin and end with this photograph.(the one of Willard and his BOYZ from Bain throwing the money)

    Sorry, but that’s the truth. Say what you will about Sarah Palin, but she would have brought a super-energized base of productive taxpaying citizens with her that might have competed favorably with the Obamabots. But she broke their hearts — and damaged herself — by teasing and then not running, leaving the GOP bereft of a candidate who could match BHO II’s charisma.

    What can be done at this late date, I have no idea. And neither do the Republicans.

  6. rikyrah says:

    November 21, 2011 4:00 PM
    Has Manchin read the Simpson/Bowles plan?

    By Steve Benen

    My concern about Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is not that he’s the Senate’s most conservative Democrat. Rather, my concern is that he just doesn’t seem to keep up on policy details.

    Today, for example, the West Virginian urged President Obama to intervene in the debt-reduction talks. I’d remind Manchin that (a) Obama has already made overly-generous offers that Republicans have refused; (b) the president can’t force the GOP to negotiate; and (c) Republicans specifically asked the president from the outset not to intervene.

    But that’s not all Manchin wants. In his letter to the White House and congressional leaders, the rookie senator also asked for a vote on a specific debt-reduction plan.

    If the supercommittee fails, as expected, Manchin urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to schedule votes on the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission, which call for significant reforms to Medicare and Social Security.

    “For the sake of our nation and our children, I urge you, as president and the leaders of each chamber of Congress, to offer any and all support so that the supercommittee … can work through any impasse in these final hours and come to an agreement that is [in] the best interests of our future,” Manchin wrote in a letter to Obama, Reid and Boehner. “Simply put, the supercommittee cannot fail.” […]

    Manchin warned that failure could contribute to the potential for future credit rating downgrades and market volatility.

    “If the supercommittee fails, I respectfully ask that you help us prove to the American people that we can still do our job at this critical juncture,” Manchin wrote. “I urge you to give the entire Congress a vote on the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson Fiscal Commission.”

    Let’s remind Manchin of two things. First, he seems to be under the impression that debt-reduction is critically important, and that if the super-committee fails, the nation will face a fiscal crisis. That’s plainly not true. Even if one were to assume that the debt should be a top priority of federal policymakers — I would argue otherwise, but let’s play along for the sake of conversation — the failure of the super-committee simply clears the way for a different debt-reduction plan to advance. In a practical sense, this panel isn’t terribly relevant — President Obama and Congress already agreed to a $2.1 trillion in debt reduction that’s not at all dependent on the success of the Murray/Hensarling group.

    Second, Manchin wants a vote on Simpson/Bowles, but has he read it? The senator may not realize, for example, that the Simpson/Bowles plan includes significant defense cuts, which Manchin says he opposes, and calls for tax increases, which the senator also says he does not want. Come to think of it, the same Simpson/Bowles plan features major changes to Social Security and Medicare, which probably wouldn’t go over well in West Virginia.

    Let me put this another way: if Manchin succeeds and the Senate held a vote on the Simpson/Bowles plan, would he even vote for it?

  7. rikyrah says:

    November 21, 2011 4:55 PM
    Super-committee quits

    By Steve Benen

    There was a flurry of last-minute talks this afternoon, but in the end, there was simply no way for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — better known as the super-committee — to reach an agreement.

    While the panel members effectively gave up a while ago, this afternoon, they made it official. This was a joint statement released by the committee’s co-chairs, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).

    “After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.

    “Despite our inability to bridge the committee’s significant differences, we end this process united in our belief that the nation’s fiscal crisis must be addressed and that we cannot leave it for the next generation to solve. We remain hopeful that Congress can build on this committee’s work and can find a way to tackle this issue in a way that works for the American people and our economy.

    “We are deeply disappointed that we have been unable to come to a bipartisan deficit reduction agreement, but as we approach the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving, we want to express our appreciation to every member of this committee, each of whom came into the process committed to achieving a solution that has eluded many groups before us. Most importantly, we want to thank the American people for sharing thoughts and ideas and for providing support and good will as we worked to accomplish this difficult task.

    “We would also like to thank our committee staff, in particular Staff Director Mark Prater and Deputy Staff Director Sarah Kuehl, as well as each committee member’s staff for the tremendous work they contributed to this effort. We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr. Douglas Elmendorf and Mr. Thomas Barthold and their teams at the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation, respectively, for the technical support they provided to the committee and its members.”

    While this formal end will likely lead to yet another round of finger pointing, we already know why the committee failed: Democrats called for a balanced plan that required shared sacrifice, and Republicans refused. That’s not an opinion; that’s what happened. GOP members freely admit that they weren’t prepared to compromise on tax revenue — indeed, their offers demanded that Dems accept more tax cuts, necessarily making the debt problem worse, on purpose — dooming the entire process.

    And so attention now turns to the “triggers” — get to know the word “sequestration” — and the Republican efforts to kill their own spending-cut proposal.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Michelle Obama, NASCAR downplay booing incident

    The White House and NASCAR are downplaying a Sunday incident in which some race fans booed first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Biden.

    Obama and Biden served as grand marshals for the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway to promote their Joining Forces project on behalf of military families.

    Listening to the video, it is hard to gauge the intensity of the critics, as much of the crowd was drowned out by a military flyover and other pre-race noise.

    “The NASCAR community and the vast majority of those attending our race Sunday welcomed the first lady and Dr. Jill Biden and the military families in attendance,” said Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR vice president of public affairs. “We are proud to support military families across the country and proud to support the Joining Forces initiative.”

    Obama and Biden also served as official starters for the race along with Sgt. Andrew Berry, a wounded warrior, and his family.

    Kristina Schake, communications director for the first lady, said in a statement:

    “Mrs. Obama was proud to join NASCAR in recognizing our nation’s veterans and military families to raise awareness of this important issue for all Americans.

    As she has always said, she will proudly stand with anyone making a major commitment to serve and honor our military community, and yesterday NASCAR did just that.

    They paid special tribute to our veterans and military families at the championship race by donating over 5,000 tickets to military families and by honoring Sergeant Berry and his family, true American heroes.

    Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden enjoyed their visit to the speedway, and are looking forward to working across the country to honor America’s veterans and military families.”

  9. rikyrah says:

    Glenn Greenwald, #Occupy, Glass Houses and Stones

    You know, I have always known that Glenn Greenwald is a opportunistic, dishonest, fact-ignorning blowhard. But today we get to add ironic to that. See, Greenwald recently wrote a column accusing the SEIU, a union that has endorsed President Obama for re-election, of attempting to “co-opt” the Occupy Wall Street movement. Why? Well because apparently, an admittedly leaderless, specific-policy-goal-less, decentralized movement is actually so centralized that they have trademarked and copyrighted the phrase “99 percent.”

    SEIU officials have long been among Obama’s closest and most loyal allies in Washington — but what was notable here was how brazenly [SEIU National President] Henry exploited the language of the Occupy movement to justify her endorsement of the Democratic Party leader: “We need a leader willing to fight for the needs of the 99 percent . . . .Our economy and democracy have been taken over by the wealthiest one percent.” [emphasis his.]

    Right, because, you know, no one had ever used those phrases before OWS, and Glenn Greenwald has now appointed himself the spokesperson of a movement that has, well, that has no spokespersons! Also, Glenn is very mad and pouty that SEIU and a few other unions are organizing Occupy Congress on Dec. 5-9, targeting Republican members of Congress for their obstructionism against raising taxes on the wealthy and the president’s jobs bill. Yeah, yeah. I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t targeting members of Congress who will not let taxes on the wealthy go up at any price and are stopping job creation line up with the expressed grievances of OWS? Not if it’s done by someone that supports President Obama, damnit! Uh, what? Shut up. Glenn Greenwald said so!

    But this irony doesn’t stop there. The very same Glenn Greenwald who is accusing the SEIU of trying to use OWS’ language (heaven forbid!) for their own purposes (which, as a union, just happens to be supporting working people), penned another column earlier last week trying to sell (and promote) winter gear for the OWS protesters being disbursed by the notorious Firedoglake. But of course, Greenwald fails to mention that he stands to financially gain from donations to FDL, as the treasurer of FDL’s PAC, Accountability Now, and his company, DMDM Enterprises, is used to taking money for “administrative expenses” from Accountability Now.

    An examination of FEC reports shows that Greenwald’s DMDM Enterprises received more than $40,000 from FDL’s Accountability Now from 2008-2010, and of course, we have no idea how much more he has received as salary as Treasurer. (For those interested, yes, I have been working on a story on this with some help, and it keeps getting pushed back for different reasons – but expect a campaign finance story on Greenwald, Hamsher et al. to drop soon).

    You would think the self-promoting epitome of virtue would bother to mention that he holds financial interest in the success of a campaign he is selling through his column on Salon. Something about disclosure and all.

    But you know, when it comes to think of it, Glenn Greenwald might not be too far off in trying to appoint himself the head of this headless OWS thing. If what a recent survey found of the Occupy Chicago group is even remotely true across the spectrum for the rest of the occupy groups, you can see the reason why Greenwald would think that he can con them easily.

  10. Ametia says:

    LOL PBO to GOP: “The answer is NO. There will be NO EASY OFF RAMPS.”


  11. rikyrah says:

    The brainless use of pop psychology to diss Obama
    Critics claim to get inside Obama’s head, and proclaim that the president is an indecisive failure. Nothing could be farther from the truth
    posted on November 21, 2011, at 10:05 AM

    Emory University psychology professor Drew Westen aspires to advise Democrats on political strategy. But his book The Political Brain reminds me of a scene in Theodore H. White’s Making of the President: 1960, in which row after row of cigar smoking Boston pols is arrayed behind John F. Kennedy as he delivers the final speech of his presidential campaign, written on their faces a barely concealed envy which says Kennedy has a trick; and if they themselves had the trick, they too could be president. Westen’s trick is common sense dressed up as pop psychology: The idea that leaders have to be passionate as well as rational.

    In a New York Times blog post titled “Decision 2013,” Westen is certainly passionate. He offers strong opinions about the shortcomings — perhaps the “narcissism” — of a president “tied up in knots of indecision” because “he fears precisely the emotions that allow us to choose between one course of action or another.” It is a scathing indictment from someone who plainly feels his counsel and wisdom have been scorned. It is also a stunning repudiation of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s insistence that people are entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.

    Westen assails the president for postponing the decision on an oil pipeline from Canada across the Midwest to refineries in the U.S: Obama should have killed it outright; delay could be deceit, with the president giving his approval after the 2012 election.

    There’s no doubt that the administration differs with elements of the environmental movement on a central question of energy policy — developing new sources of domestic production during what will inevitably be a long transition to renewable and cleaner fuel. So yes, Obama may ultimately approve the pipeline. He hasn’t yet, to the displeasure of an industry that ran a disapproving full page ad right there in the Times. But the reason for the delay was policy, not politics. As the State Department announced, “Concerns regarding the environmental sensitivities of the current proposed route through the Sand Hills area of Nebraska” call for “an in-depth assessment of potential alternative routes.” The conservative Republican governor of Nebraska, who supports the pipeline, opposes the route. Obama did what any president or steward of the environment should. He decided to seek a way to tap the oil without endangering a critical landscape and aquifer. It wasn’t Westen’s preferred emotional decision to cancel the pipeline outright; it was rational — and on the evidence, it was right.

    In a piece of innuendo worthy of Joe McCarthy, Westen adds that “no one knows…what deals the administration may have struck with the oil industry.” No one knows because there is no evidence, absolutely none, of any such deal. Even worse, Westen asserts that Obama made a deal with health insurance companies to kill the public option in the health care reform bill. Where is the evidence? And where were the votes to pass a public option when a bill without it barely squeezed through?

    Westen also attacks the president for not tightening clean air standards as proposed by the EPA. He falsely claims Obama said he wanted to “study” the issue. Apparently, he didn’t read the president’s statement. The standards are already scheduled to be reset in 2013 and it doesn’t make sense to “ask… state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered.” It’s possible to disagree with this, although it makes a lot of sense. But it’s an entirely unproven and unconvincing example of chronic presidential indecision.

  12. Ametia says:

    LOL “You too honey.”

  13. Mark Knoller:

    Pres Obama also orders release of woman next month who has served 10 yrs of 22 year sentence for cocaine distribution.

  14. Mark Knoller:

    Pres Obama total of 22 pardons a 1 commutation slightly more than Pres GWBush who at same point had issued 12 pardons & 1 commutations.

  15. LiberalPhenom:

    Pres Obama to the GOP party of no: NO!

  16. Talking Points Memo:

    Obama takes no questions, spoke for about 4 minutes

  17. Talking Points Memo:

    Obama: I’ll veto any effort that would avoid automatic cuts

  18. Hey Now!

    Barack Obama 1991 TBS Black History Minute

    Who knew that the young man in this commercial would one day become the president of our country? Recently, a 1991 TBS ad featuring Barack Obama has surfaced on the Internet. His title back then was the editor of the Harvard Law Review and he reported the Black History Minute in which he briefly educated audiences on the significance of Charles Hamilton Houston.

  19. Ametia says:

    No surprises here

    The congressional super committee negotiating a possible deficit reduction agreement announced Monday it has failed to reach a deal.

    The announcement came after last-minute talks on what one participant billed as a “new idea” in an effort to salvage an agreement.

    Markets dropped as news spread of the panel’s expected failure. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 248 points Monday, with a minor recovery after being down more than 300 points earlier in the afternoon.

    To stave off automatic spending cuts starting in 2013, the super committee had been tasked with finding ways to cut deficits by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

  20. Brooks & Dunn – My Heart Is Lost To You

  21. rikyrah says:

    November 21, 2011 2:45 PM

    He’s running for office, for Pete’s sake

    Shortly before Mitt Romney departed the governor’s office, 11 of his top aides purchased 17 state-issued hard drives, purging the Romney administration’s email records in advance of his presidential campaign. The move has no precedent among modern Massachusetts governors, including Romney’s recent Republican predecessors.

    Late last week, Romney refused to explain the missing hard drives, and when asked why they were purchased, the Republican would only say his aides “all followed the law exactly as it’s written.” That, of course, wasn’t the question.

    Today, as Alex Seitz-Wald noted, Romney offered a rather amazing explanation during an interview with the Nashua Telegraph in New Hampshire.

    “Well, I think in government we should follow the law. And there has never been an administration that has provided to the opposition research team, or to the public, electronic communications. So ours would have been the first.”

    Wait, what?

    Let me get this straight. Romney is admitting, on the record and on video, that his team purchased government hard drives and deleted untold thousands of emails in order to keep official correspondence hidden? He was worried about opposition researchers? That’s Romney’s defense?

    I can only imagine how devastating those emails must have been.

    This is, by the way, the same Republican campaign that issued a memo last week attacking the Obama White House for having “turned its back on his campaign promises of openness and transparency.”

    That was last week. This week, Romney is comfortable admitting that he and his team bought 17 hard drives so he could keep officials’ email correspondence hidden from the public because it might have proved politically embarrassing.


    • GrannyStandingforTruth says:

      Hey Rikyrah, the GOP has discovered a new way to get rid of evidence. Sale the harddrives, mind you, not the computers, but the harddrives. Okie dokie. What did he have to hide. When you get a chance check my blog out, so you can get a good laugh.

  22. rikyrah says:

    Alleged Jerry Sandusky victim leaves school because of bullying, counselor says

    Victim One, the first known alleged victim of abuse by former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, had to leave his school in the middle of his senior year because of bullying, his counselor said Sunday.

    Officials at Central Mountain High School in Clinton County weren’t providing guidance for fellow students, who were reacting badly about Joe Paterno’s firing and blaming the 17-year-old, said Mike Gillum, the psychologist helping his family. Those officials were unavailable for comment this weekend.

    The name-calling and verbal threats were just too much, he said.

    Other alleged victims are turning to each other for support, since they fear others will out them and cause a media swarm. The only encouragement for Victim One, Gillum said, is watching other alleged victims come forward because they felt empowered by his courage.

    “He feels good about that,” Gillum said. “That’s the one good that’s come of all this.”

  23. cowgirl quotes

    I aint a redneck. I’m a southern girl with attitude.

  24. rikyrah says:

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Republicans just made their 2012 campaign all about tax cuts and foreign policy

    A little over a month ago, I suggested that the looming failure of the Super Committee – and the consequences of that failure – would overtake the conversations leading up to the 2012 election. And that conversation begins today.

    As an example, here’s the headline of an article by Peter Wallsten in the Washington Post: Supercommittee’s failure pushes Bush tax cuts to the forefront of the 2012 campaign.

    The imminent failure of the congressional deficit “supercommittee,” which had a chance to settle the nation’s tax policy for the next decade, would thrust the much-contested Bush tax cuts into the forefront of next year’s presidential campaign…

    That makes December 2012 the next critical deadline in the budget wars, with Obama, safely reelected or acting as a lame-duck president, wielding a veto pen with the power to return tax rates to Clinton-era levels.

    Democrats say they see the issue as an easy way to portray Obama’s opponent in the presidential election as a defender of tax cuts for the rich.

    I suspect that Wallsten is right in assuming that a vote to extend the tax cuts will be delayed until after the election. But that’s perhaps the one remaining question to be answered. Of course the Republican-controlled House is likely to vote on the extension. But will Majority Leader Reid even bring it up for a vote in the Senate? We’ll see.

    Pretty soon all the presidential candidates (as well as Congress members up for re-election) are going to have to start weighing in.

    Even though the supercommittee’s Thanksgiving deadline had not yet passed, events Sunday offered a taste of what is to come. Romney blamed inaction by Obama for the panel’s failure, while the president’s reelection campaign spokesman, alluding to Romney’s support for retaining the Bush tax cuts, charged that he “rejected asking the wealthiest for a dime to reduce the deficit.”

    As this discussion heats up, its time to start pulling out those graphs that demonstrate the crux of the deficit problem. Like this one:

    Given President Obama’s successes in the area of foreign policy, the last thing the Republicans wanted was to have that issue overshadow the country’s concern about our weak economy. But that’s just what they’re going to have to try to do in order to make a case for restoring the triggered cuts to defense.

    All of this will also provide President Obama and Democrats with the opportunity to distance themselves from the Republican obsession with tax cuts and defense spending by staying focused on what Americans really care about…jobs.

    So hang on to your hat folks. The 2012 election officially begins today!

    Posted by Smartypants at 8:29 AM

  25. rikyrah says:

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Obama demonstrates once again the brilliance of “knowing when to fold ’em”

    All this talk from Republicans about trying to blame President Obama for the failure of the Super Committee to come up with a deal is truly amusing. I guess they don’t realize how much they sound like 2 year-olds trying to blame Daddy Obama for the mess they created.

    To the contrary, I think the President’s decision to stay out of this one demonstrates why he’s such a good poker player in the tradition of Kenny Roger’s song The Gambler.

    You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
    know when to fold ’em
    know when to walk away
    and when to run.

    We all know too well that President Obama put all he had into trying to negotiate with the Republicans last summer to come up with a “grand bargain” on deficit reduction. And while most folks recognize that he put it all on the table only to run into the intransigence of folks like Cantor and Boehner, many Americans still seemed to hold him accountable for failing to get the job done.

    The deal they reached at that point gave the Super Committee all the tools they needed to come up with a deal (including the fact that they could by-pass the filibuster rules in the Senate). And so President Obama stood back and let them give it a go. They failed.

    This allowed President Obama to do 2 things:

    1. He could pivot away from deficit reduction to focus solely on the American Jobs Act and initiatives like We Can’t Wait…addressing the number one concern of voters.

    2. He could show that whether he was in the picture or out – Congress failed to deal with deficit reduction.

    These are the kinds of things that low-information voters notice. And it was played beautifully by our President. He knew exactly when to “fold ’em.”

    P.S. Do you think that after spending months leading the charge on dealing with the likes of Cantor and Boehner that perhaps President Obama knew this committee was destined to fail? And that staying out of it would be to his advantage this time?

    Yeah, me too.
    Posted by Smartypants at 9

  26. Ametia says:

    Nov 21, 2011
    Former FBI director Freeh will lead Penn State investigation
    By Leila Fadel,

    CAIRO — All members of Egypt’s caretaker government submitted their resignations to the military leadership on the third day of the bloodiest and most sustained violence in the nation since the ilitary took control in February, Egyptian state television reported Monday night.

    The military has not approved the resignations, and even a full purge of the cabinet seemed unlikely to mollify protesters calling for Egypt’s interim military chiefs to give up power. Protests intensified across the country, and Cairo’s Tahrir Square was thronged Monday night as people appeared to heed a call for a “million-man march” on Tuesday.
    Egypt’s ruling generals have rejected the resignation of government officials, including Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, several times over the past few months.

  27. rikyrah says:

    Chris Matthews: Obama Team Has Too Many ‘Little Kids With Propellers On Their Heads’
    videoby Colby Hall | 9:03 am, November 21st, 2011

    Hardball host Chris Matthews recently sat down with fellow MSNBC host Alex Witt to, among other things, discuss his new JFK biography. When the conversation inevitably turned to the current administration, Matthews shared a pretty harsh assessment of President Obama‘s campaign efforts, demonstrating that he’s come a long way since experiencing a “thrill up his leg.”

    A transcript of Matthews’ jeremiad is below (courtesy of TheBlaze)

    What are we trying to do in this administration? Why does he want a second term? Would he tell us? What’s he going to do in the second term? More of this? Is this it? Is this as good as it gets? Where are we going? Are we going to do something the second term? He has yet to tell us. He has not said one thing about what he would do in the second term. He never tells us what he is going to do with reforming our healthcare systems, Medicare, Medicaid, how is going to reform Social Security. Is he going to deal with long-term debt? How? Is he going to reform the tax system? How? Just tell us. Why are we in this fight with him? Just tell us, Commander, give us our orders and tell us where we’re going, give us the mission. And he hasn’t done it.

    And I think it’s the people around him, too many people around, they’re little kids with propellers on their heads. They’re all virtual. Politics, this social networking, I get these e-mails, you probably get them. I’m tired of getting them. Stop giving them to me. I want to meet people. Their idea of running a campaign is a virtual universe of sending e-mails around to people. No it’s not. It’s meetings with people, it’s forging alliances. It’s White House meetings and dinner parties that go on till midnight, and he should be sitting late at night now with senators and members of Congress and governors working together on how they‘re going to win this political fight that’s coming.

  28. rikyrah says:

    Some Thoughts On Chait
    by BooMan
    Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 12:59:45 PM EST

    The flipside of David’s Frum’s piece about the stupidity of the right was provided by Jonathan Chait, writing about the unreasonableness of the left. On the whole, I agree with Mr. Chait’s analysis. But I really feel like he missed something by going all the way back to FDR to show how liberals have been unhappy with every Democratic president in recent history.
    In any broad historical piece, you’re going to run into definitional problems of what constitutes the left, or the liberal left, or the progressive movement, or even the Democratic Party. I don’t think you can talk about the left’s relationship with the Democratic Party in the same way pre- and post-Vietnam, or pre- and post-Civil Rights Era. Mr. Chait may be right there there are certain personality traits among liberals that have remained consistent throughout, but the liberal left changed fundamentally during the 1960’s. In the 1930’s and 1940’s, the liberal left was the intellectual soul of Democratic Party. It had to cobble together an uneasy coalition of socialists and Jim Crow Democrats and city bosses and ward heelers. But liberals were in charge of the big things, like implementing the New Deal, creating the United Nations, and setting up the Bretton Woods system. While liberals agitated for social reforms and found themselves stymied on many fronts, they didn’t feel completely left out of power. In many areas, they wielded power. And if we look back now with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the liberals were on a victorious march towards ending apartheid in the South and winning much of the argument over social policies with Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. There was something of a liberal consensus in this country. At least, there was enough of a consensus for liberal ideas to win the day.

    But then came Vietnam. That stupid war destroyed the liberal consensus. It created a counterculture. And that counterculture is where liberal legitimacy went to die. You cannot be a governing philosophy at the same time that you are countercultural movement. A countercultural movement is set up to oppose power. It is a critique of a country, not a platform for governing a country. And that’s where the left has been stuck since about 1968. This is something distinct from Will Rogers’s old saw about “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat!” This isn’t just about herding cats. It’s a fundamental flaw in the progressive predisposition.

    There are virtues in the progressive attitude toward power. Most obviously, you can look at the way Republicans will follow their leaders over cliffs to see what happens when you don’t have a healthy skepticism towards your own party’s leaders. But neither lemming-like obedience nor chronic dissatisfaction are smart or healthy political attitudes.

    It’s easy to fall into lazy criticisms, like the Republican mantra that progressives blame America first and don’t believe in American Exceptionalism. But there is more truth to those criticisms than progressives are willing to acknowledge. What progressives need to do is find a way to make the countercultural cultural.

    How do you do that? Some recent examples of how this has been done successfully include moving from the Stonewall Riots in 1969 to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the refusal to enforce DOMA in 2011. Or, moving from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to electing a biracial president in 2008. What was unthinkable has become part of our culture. Likewise, assuming the Affordable Care Act survives all legal challenges and isn’t destroyed by a Republican president, it will form part of our culture and join Medicare and Social Security as things that are taken for granted.

    We need to act like we trust power to do great things, and project that we are the right people to hold that power. And we need to take our positions within that power coalition rather than positioning ourselves as always outside of it serving as the gadfly.

    Liberals used to be able to do this. But since the disaster in 1968, it seems like we just want to attack all forms of power, even when they are our own.

  29. rikyrah says:

    November 21, 2011 1:50 PM

    The most misinformed news consumers

    By Steve Benen

    Over the summer, there was an interesting dispute when Jon Stewart appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” and made a provocative observation: “In polls, who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers? The most consistently misinformed? Fox. Fox viewers. Consistently. Every poll.”

    PolitiFact said Stewart was wrong, and “The Daily Show” host walked the claim back, but he shouldn’t have — Stewart was right and PolitiFact was wrong.

    But the larger issue continues to be a fascinating one, and the evidence that shows Fox News viewers being the most misinformed news consumers continues to pile up.

    According to the latest results from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind Poll, some news sources make us less likely to know what’s going on in the world. In the most recent study, the poll asked New Jerseyans about current events at home and abroad, and from what sources – if any – they get their information. The conclusion: Sunday morning news shows do the most to help people learn about current events, while some outlets, especially Fox News, lead people to be even less informed than those who they don’t watch any news at all. […]

    [P]eople who watch Fox News, the most popular of the 24-hour cable news networks, are 18-points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government than those who watch no news at all (after controlling for other news sources, partisanship, education and other demographic factors). Fox News watchers are also 6-points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government than those who watch no news.

    “Because of the controls for partisanship, we know these results are not just driven by Republicans or other groups being more likely to watch Fox News,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and an analyst for the PublicMind Poll. “Rather, the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all.” [emphasis added]

    As it turns out, this new report coincides with another study published in the International Journal of Press/Politics that found Fox News viewers are far more misinformed about climate change than those who rely on other news outlets.

    It’s important to remember that this isn’t at all new — the problem has been ongoing for several years. Data from the Program on International Policy Attitudes, NBC/Wall Street Journal, and the Pew Research Center all found Fox News viewers knowing less about current events than everyone else. My friend Chris Mooney cited five (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) separate public opinion studies that showed the same thing.

    In some cases, regular Fox News viewers would have done better, statistically speaking, if they had received no news at all and simply guessed whether the claims about current events were accurate.

    What’s more, this isn’t necessarily about party affiliations — Democrats who watch Fox News were worse off than Democrats who relied on legitimate news organizations.

    It would take an unlikely twist of self-reflection, but at a certain point, Fox News and its audience might take a moment to ponder why these viewers are so wrong, so often, about so much. That almost certainly won’t happen, of course, in part because the network and its viewers aren’t quite informed enough to realize they’re misinformed.

  30. rikyrah says:

    Why Obama Still Matters

    The one thing I noticed in my continental run-around this past week is just how mad liberals are at Obama. I remain as baffled by this anger as I am by Republican contempt for the guy. New York magazine has two superb essays that sum up my own feelings on both sides pretty perfectly – by Jon Chait and David Frum. Chait notes how systemic and eternal liberal disenchantment is, and how congenitally useless Democrats are in rallying round a leader, even one who has achieved so much in such a short time. Many Dems even now think Clinton was more successful in fighting the GOP in his first term than Obama has been. (Memo to the left: universal healthcare was achieved under Obama). But much of this is the usual Democratic limpness and whininess. If George Bush had taken out Osama bin Laden, wiped out al Qaeda’s leadership and gathered a treasure trove of real intelligence by a daring raid, he’d be on Mount Rushmore by now. If he’d done the equivalent on the right of universal healthcare, he’d be the second coming of Reagan. But Obama and liberals? If I hear one more gripe about single payer from someone in their fifties with a ponytail, I’ll scream.

    But the right is more unhinged and more dangerously full of denial. Since I was never structurally or financially or socially linked to the Washington right, I was immune to the withdrawal of jobs, money and access doled out to any dissenter in the Bush years. But every now and again, I get some kind of amazed look – “You’re not going to back Obama again, are you?” – from someone in the conservative cocoon, and when I respond, “So far, you bet!”, there is often a long pause and a genuine sadness on their faces. “What the hell happened to him?” you can hear them asking themselves.

    Some of this is as head-scratching for me as it is for David:

    Some of the smartest and most sophisticated people I know—canny investors, erudite authors—sincerely and passionately believe that President Barack Obama has gone far beyond conventional American liberalism and is willfully and relentlessly driving the United States down the road to socialism. No counterevidence will dissuade them from this belief: not record-high corporate profits, not almost 500,000 job losses in the public sector, not the lowest tax rates since the Truman administration. It is not easy to fit this belief alongside the equally strongly held belief that the president is a pitiful, bumbling amateur, dazed and overwhelmed by a job too big for him—and yet that is done too.

    Did you get the impression from the GOP debates that Obama had lowered taxes? That he had not nationalized but saved the banks? That he had dispatched Osama and Qaddafi? That he had 60 percent support for a sane and succcessful foreign policy? That he was an exemplar of all those social values conservatives say they support: a model husband and father, a black man who has eschewed identity politics almost entirely, a president whose speeches are among the most intellectually Christian of any in modern times? This strange, bizarre hostility to him I put down to displaced anger at Bush, to cultural panic among the old, but also to a wider propaganda support system that is truly a sight to behold:

    Outside this alternative [conservative media] reality, the United States is a country dominated by a strong Christian religiosity. Within it, Christians are a persecuted minority. Outside the system, President Obama—whatever his policy ­errors—is a figure of imposing intellect and dignity. Within the system, he’s a pitiful nothing, unable to speak without a teleprompter, an affirmative-action ­phony doomed to inevitable defeat. Outside the system, social scientists worry that the U.S. is hardening into one of the most rigid class societies in the Western world, in which the children of the poor have less chance of escape than in France, Germany, or even England. Inside the system, the U.S. remains (to borrow the words of Senator Marco Rubio) “the only place in the world where it doesn’t matter who your parents were or where you came from.”

    The constant American exceptionalism point – taken to an absurd degree – is a function of neurosis not patriotism. It comes out n the weirdest ways – in the Christanist roundtable last weekend, Gingrich actually said that America was the only country in the world where people saw soldiers as sons, daughters, fathers and mothers. Yes, other nations are full of emotionless robots. But it is not a solution to America being way down the list on a number of variables to insist that we’re Number One! always and everywhere. And no amount of this insistence that “conservatives” are the only truly American participants in democracy will help when you have no idea how to cope with the uninsured, with fiscal balance outside a Randian fantasy, with soaring healthcare costs, or debt-crippled demand. David puts it best here:

    It’s one thing to point out (accurately) that President Obama’s stimulus plan was mostly a compilation of antique Democratic wish lists, and quite another to argue that the correct response to the worst collapse since the thirties is to wait for the economy to get better on its own. It’s one thing to worry (wisely) about the long-term trend in government spending, and another to demand big, immediate cuts when 25 million are out of full-time work and the government can borrow for ten years at 2 percent. It’s a duty to scrutinize the actions and decisions of the incumbent administration, but an abuse to use the filibuster as a routine tool of legislation or to prevent dozens of presidential appointments from even coming to a vote. It’s fine to be unconcerned that the rich are getting richer, but blind to deny that ­middle-class wages have stagnated or worse over the past dozen years. In the aftershock of 2008, large numbers of Americans feel exploited and abused. Rather than workable solutions, my party is offering low taxes for the currently rich and high spending for the currently old, to be followed by who-knows-what and who-the-hell-cares. This isn’t conservatism; it’s a going-out-of-business sale for the baby-boom generation.

    It was never my party, but it was one to which I could once accord regular agreement and respect. No more. I remain unrepentant in my support for this president, a man who has accomplished more in the face of a more hostile environment in his first three years than any president since Johnson. I wish more reasonable Dems and a few moderate Republicans will soon have the courage to say so.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Super Committee Member Sen. Kerry: Grover Norquist Is ‘The 13th Member Of This Committee’
    By Tanya Somanader on Nov 21, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Today, the 12-member congressional super committee is expected to announce failure to reach an agreement to cut $1.5 trillion from the federal budget. One of major “sticking divides,” as Democratic co-chair Sen. Patty Murray (WA) noted, has been Republicans refusal to consider a widely supported tax increase on America’s wealthy.

    This intransigence is largely motivated by the shadowy influence of lobbyist Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, who threatens to serve any Republican who breaks his anti-tax pledge with electoral defeat. Today on CNN, super committee member Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) noted that Norquist’s handcuffs on his GOP colleagues essentially makes him the “13th member of this committee without being there“:

    KERRY: We Democrats put a $4 trillion dollar plan on the table. We had $1.3 trillion of cuts, and we had $1.3 trillion in revenue. Now, some of that revenue, we’re not asking that to happen tomorrow or the next day, it could happen in a year. This is a ten-year plan and longer. So we have the ability here to do something that’s fair for all Americans. But unfortunately, this thing about the Bush tax cuts and the pledge to Grover Norquist keeps coming up. Grover Norquist has been the 13th member of this committee without being there. I can’t tell you how many times we hear about ‘the pledge, the pledge.’ Well all of us took a pledge to uphold the Constitution and to full and faithfully and well-execute our duties and I think that requires us to try and reach an agreement. So we have to compromise.

    Despite Norquist’s desire to “crush the other team,” it seems that more and more members of his own team are starting to agree with Kerry. GOP Rep. Mike Simpson (ID) said regarding Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, “I didn’t know I was signing a marriage agreement.” Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) blasted Norquist for “paralyzing Congress.” Freshman Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI) vowed to never sign another pledge, noting the last straw came when Norquist wouldn’t let Republicans close tax loopholes that subsidize ethanol production. Former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson simply said, “If Grover Norquist is the most powerful person in America, he should run for president” rather than peddle his influence backstage.

  32. rikyrah says:

    November 21, 2011, 1:41 pm
    Polls Highlight Risks to G.O.P. in Breakdown of Budget Talks

    The likely failure of the special congressional deficit committee to reach an agreement will come as no surprise to most Americans, with recent polls showing broad majorities lacking confidence in the committee’s ability to reach a deal.

    In a McClatchy-Marist poll, 85 percent of registered voters said they were not confident that congressional Democrats and Republicans on the committee will be able to come to an agreement on how to significantly reduce the federal budget deficit. Similarly, nearly 8 in 10 Americans in a CNN/ORC poll called an agreement unlikely.

    So who will take the fall?

    Approval ratings for Congress are already at historic lows, with little room to decline further (just 9 percent of Americans approved in a New York Times/CBS News poll last month). At the same time, polls find the public to be more apt to blame congressional Republicans for failure to reach a deal on reducing the deficit than congressional Democrats. Respondents in the CNN/ORC poll were 10 points more likely to say Republicans in Congress would be more responsible for the committee’s failure than Democrats in Congress. In the McClatchy-Marist poll, voters were 12 points more likely to blame the Republicans.

    What does the public think is the best way to reduce the deficit?

    More than 6 in 10 in a Pew Research Center poll say it should be accomplished through a combination of cuts to major programs and tax increases. Digging into specifics, the McClatchy-Marist poll found 8 in 10 voters opposed to major cuts in Social Security and Medicare, and about half opposed to major cuts in defense spending. Six in 10 said they were opposed to tax increases on businesses, but two-thirds support raising taxes on higher-income Americans.

  33. ThinkProgress:

    BREAKING: Romney admits he destroyed gov’t records to keep them from political opponents

  34. rikyrah says:

    21 Nov 2011 12:29 PM
    Newt And The Base

    Bill Kristol is open to him:

    Gingrich may not follow the Bachmann-Perry-Cain trajectory of rapid rise and rapid fall. He is a far more experienced national politician than they. He’s a familiar figure. It’s not as if, like Bachmann, he’s making a favorable first impression that will then be qualified, or, like Perry, that the idea of the candidate will be very different from the reality, or that, like Herman Cain, he seems a breath of fresh air. Voters who have warmed to Gingrich in the last few months could of course still have second thoughts, and his rise may stall and reverse. It would indeed be surprising if he doesn’t now hit some bumps in the road. But he could be formidable.

    I can see the point against Romney. But formidable against Obama? Seriously? Obama’s current lead over Gingrich is 8.5 points, landslide territory. Newt must be one of the least likable human beings ever to run for public office. Katrina Trinko looks at his standing among social conservatives. The evangelical problem could be severe:

    Land has been doing informal focus groups among Southern Baptists for the past two years on Gingrich’s candidacy, as he expected Gingrich to run and be a serious contender. He found that women are especially wary of Gingrich.

    “He’s got a gender problem,” Land says. “His toughest audience is going to be evangelical women. Evangelical men, depending on what Newt does and says, are more likely to give him the benefit of the doubt.” Women, on the other hand, have told Land that they would vote for Gingrich “under no circumstances.” If the general election comes down to Gingrich and Obama, they say, they may just not vote.

  35. rikyrah says:

    The Schoen-Caddell Two-Step

    Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell are the Fox News Democrats and are about as representative of Democrats as a whole as Mickey Kaus. But note one thing about their analysis: it puts the entire blame on Obama for the current fiscal and political impasse and none on the GOP; and its logic would merely reward Republicans for total obstructionism. Money quote

    One year ago in these pages, we warned that if President Obama continued down his overly partisan road, the nation would be “guaranteed two years of political gridlock at a time when we can ill afford it.” The result has been exactly as we predicted: stalemate in Washington, fights over the debt ceiling, an inability to tackle the debt and deficit, and paralysis exacerbating market turmoil and economic decline.

    Now ask yourself for a minute: who, outside Fox News contributors, genuinely believe that the polarization we are now experiencing is a direct result of president Obama rather than the Republicans? The polling shows the public believes Obama has been readier to compromise. To put the entire blame for polarization on Obama – at a time when the GOP has refused any net revenue increases at all – is insane. Note also this misleading claim:

    President Obama is now neck and neck with a generic Republican challenger in the latest Real Clear Politics 2012 General Election Average (43.8%-43.%).

    And at 9 percent unemployment and the worst recession since the 1930s, this is bad? Even Rasmussen shows him besting a generic Republican. And he’s showing new life: In this month alone, Obama has gone from 3 points behind to one point ahead in the RCP poll of polls. But even ’90s neo-libs like Scoen and Caddell know that with structural unemployment, a draw like this shows remarkable candidate strength, not weakness. And when you look at the more specific polling, you find that Obama beats every single GOP nominee right now. His lead is 1.4 percent over Romney, 8.5 percent over Gingrich and 9 percent against Cain and Perry. A president with 9 percent unemployment leading most GOP rivals by 8 points or more is not a lame duck by any means.

    Schoen and Caddell suffer from the post-traumatic stress disorder of the 1990s Democrats.

    Convinced they can never win on what they believe in, they always stress capitulation either to Republican orthodoxy, or to Republican will-power. And they actually seem to believe that the hard right – from Limbaugh to Levin, from Krauthammer to Kristol – would not return to the Clinton demonization of the 1990s. Do either of them remember what was said and done about her last time around?

    The answer is not to cave to GOP demands that the only group not to sacrifice in the coming austerity should be the very wealthy and successful; it is to make the case for balanced sacrifice, including serious entitlement and defense cuts and an overhaul of the tax code to remove almost all deductions. Obama can and should run on this blend. And polls suggest it is overwhelmigly more popular than a debt-reduction that would represent another gift from young to old and from poor to super-rich.

  36. rikyrah says:

    November 21, 2011 12:30 PM

    Gingrich, GOP target child-labor laws
    By Steve Benen

    Support for child-labor laws was taken as a given for much of the 20th century. Not anymore.

    Newt Gingrich proposed a plan Friday that would allow poor children to clean their schools for money, saying such a setup would both allow students to earn income and endow them with a strong work ethic.

    Speaking at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the former House Speaker said his system would be an improvement on current child labor laws, which he called “truly stupid.”

    As Gingrich sees it, children who go to school but don’t take on part-time jobs get “entrapped” by poverty. The disgraced former House Speaker would prefer that school districts fire “unionized janitors,” and instead pay kids to maintain their own schools.

    In Gingrich’s model, children would start earning outside income as early as age 9. He wasn’t kidding.

    Let’s also not forget the larger context. In Maine, for example, Gov. Paul LePage (R) launched an effort to roll back the state’s child-labor laws, and a similar measure was introduced in Missouri earlier this year. As we talked about in January, a sitting U.S. Senator, Utah’s Mike Lee (R), has argued that federal child-labor laws violate the Constitution and shouldn’t even exist.

    Remember when there were accepted political norms that helped define the American mainstream? Basic policy tenets that both major parties accepted, largely without question?

    I don’t know when or if those days are coming back.

  37. rikyrah says:

    Monday, November 21, 2011


    Look, I’m not going to rise to the bait by responding seriously to the new Wall Street Journal op-ed by Fox-News-Democrat pollsters Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen, in which they assert that President Obama should step aside and let Hillary Clinton run in his place. They don’t mean a word they say; she’s not going to run, they know it, and they’re fully aware of the fact that they and their friends would eviscerate her if she did. The point of the op-ed isn’t to express an opinion — it’s to trip Obama and the Democrats up. It’s carefully timed to rule the morning political chatter so it can do that. It’s not a contribution to the national dialogue; it’s a leg extended in the aisle as the bullied kid gets up to walk to the front of the classroom.

    There are kids in every school who take pleasure in occasionally harassing the less favored, but even those kids don’t necessarily make harassment their life’s work. Modern Republicans (and their nominally non-Republican fellow-travelers) are full-time bullies — it’s all they do. The modern Republican Party is a 24/7 opposition research/dirty tricks/character assassination operation that then takes advantage of its success at these endeavors to elect candidates — who then pretend they’re interested in governing, while they continue the OR, the tricks, and the character smears.

    I’m not even sure these days that Republicans are interested in governing on their own terms — that is, I’m not sure they really believe, in a heartfelt way, that their budget cuts and tax cuts and climate skepticism and gay bashing and pro-gun absolutism and the rest are the best course on which to sheer the ship of state. They just know it frustrates us, and that’s all that matters. They pass this stuff or fail to pass it — I’m not sure they care, except that getting it passed makes us more miserable. And I know that pleasing their rich donors is vitally important to them, but they’ve gravitated toward financial backers — the Kochs, the people Karl Rove’s operation gathers together — who also just want to crush the enemy, and who apparently can longer tell anymore where their self-interest ends and bullying begins.

    Part of the reason the GOP can’t resign itself to Romney, I think, is is that even the big-money boys pump their fists when they watch Fox, and so they can’t quite bring themselves to crush the candidates to his right. (If they really want Cain to go away, for instance, or Gingrich, why aren’t they putting pressure on Fox and talk radio to stop rallying around them?) The bullying has become an end in itself, even for them.

  38. rikyrah says:

    November 21, 2011 10:10 AM

    GOP demands an end to their own idea

    By Steve Benen

    Remember the “triggers” in the debt-ceiling agreement? Let’s take a moment to refresh the political world’s memory.

    Congressional Republicans, in a move without precedent in American history, were holding the economy and the full faith and credit of the United States hostage. Democrats, fearful that the GOP wasn’t bluffing and that the nation would pay a severe price, was willing to cut a bad deal: $900 billion in debt reduction, on top of another $1.2 trillion agreement to be worked out by a so-called super-committee.

    But Dems weren’t completely willing to roll over — they wanted to create an incentive for Republicans to work in good faith on the $1.2 trillion in savings. Democrats proposed the threat of automatic tax increases to push GOP officials to be responsible, but Republicans refused and offered an alternative: if the committee failed, the GOP would accept $600 billion in defense cuts and Dems would accept $600 billion in non-defense domestic cuts.

    Remember, the point was to create an incentive that the parties would be desperate to avoid. Pentagon cuts were Republicans’ contribution to the process. These cuts were their idea.

    And wouldn’t you know it, Republicans don’t like their idea anymore.

    Failure by Congress’ debt-cutting supercommittee to recommend $1.2 trillion in savings by Wednesday is supposed to automatically trigger spending cuts in the same amount to accomplish that job.

    But the same legislators who concocted that budgetary booby trap just four months ago could end up spending the 2012 election year and beyond battling over defusing it.

    Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., say they are writing legislation to prevent what they say would be devastating cuts to the military. House Republicans are exploring a similar move.

    This isn’t exactly surprising, but it is kind of amusing. Republicans, in effect, said in August, “If we fail, we’ll accept these cuts we don’t want.” The same Republicans, in effect, are now saying, “It turns out, we don’t like our idea anymore.”

    In the bigger picture, Republicans were never working in good faith. Even putting aside the inherently disgusting debt-ceiling crisis they created over the summer, GOP officials were willing to offer the defense-cut trigger precisely because they knew they’d try to kill it after the super-committee inevitably failed.

    Republicans started this fight demanding debt reduction, then offered massive spending cuts to a part of the government they care about. They’re now demanding less debt reduction and more government spending — and if Democrats balk, these same Republicans will spend an election year accusing them of being anti-military.

    I often wonder what our discourse would be like if the general public knew what GOP officials were up to in Washington.

  39. rikyrah says:

    You Can’t Fight The Stupid
    by BooMan
    Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 09:50:39 AM EST

    The only reason David Frum feels free to speak the truth about a few things is because he has been so thoroughly ostracized from the Republican Party and its wingnut welfare system that he has nothing left to lose. He can’t get on Fox News anymore, so it’s easy for him to denounce it. There’s no chance that any major think tank will ever employ him again, so he can denounce the think tanks. He’s suddenly liberated.

    We have a term for what concerns David Frum. We call it “The Stupid.” There is a small cadre of conservatives (e.g., Frum, Kathleen Parker) who are trying to address the collective turn of the right towards something that truly resembles severe retardation. But, honestly, they don’t have a chance.

    Frum explains why, even if he still holds out hope:

    FOr the past two decades, conservatism has evolved from a political philosophy into a market segment. An industry has grown up to serve that segment—and its stars have become the true thought leaders of the conservative world. The business model of the conservative media is built on two elements: provoking the audience into a fever of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (so that they never change the channel). As a commercial proposition, this model has worked brilliantly in the Obama era. As journalism, not so much. As a tool of political mobilization, it backfires, by inciting followers to the point at which they force leaders into confrontations where everybody loses, like the summertime showdown over the debt ceiling.

    But the thought leaders on talk radio and Fox do more than shape opinion. Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics.

    The Stupid is a moneymaker. The Stupid is a market.

    And The Stupid makes people behave as if they’ve had a lobotomy. How do you fix something like that?

  40. rikyrah says:

    November 21, 2011 11:25 AM

    A fair share

    By Steve Benen

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was asked recently about why it’s wrong to ask the wealthy to sacrifice. “Come on,” he said. “The top 1% paid 38% of income taxes in America. How much more do you want them to pay?” On CNN yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told CNN something similar.

    Perhaps now would be a good time to clarify matters. Is Boehner right that the top 1% pays 38% of income taxes? Actually, yes, that’s true, but it’s a lousy standard of measurement.

    The problem with the talking point is all of the information it leaves out. The Washington Post ran a good “Reality Check” item the other day, noting that while the wealthiest of the wealthy pay 38% of income taxes, they’ve also seen their incomes soar in recent decades, while everyone else’s incomes have been stagnant.

    Just as important, while these very Americans are paying a larger percentage of the nation’s overall income taxes, they’re also paying a smaller share of their personal income in income taxes.

    It’s the kind of detail interviewers might want to keep in mind the next time a Republican guest relies on the talking point.

  41. rikyrah says:

    Why John Boehner Wants Another Grand Bargain (And Why He Probably Won’t Get One)

    During House Speaker John Boehner’s first stint in the leadership in the mid 1990s, just about the only adornment on the walls of his tiny Capitol Hill office was a portrait of Nicholas Longworth, the last Speaker from Ohio. Longworth, who reached across the aisle to form a close working bond with House Minority Leader John Nance Garner, has long been Boehner’s idol. In fact, Boehner’s first moves as Speaker to re-empower the committees and the structures of the House mirrored similar steps taken by Longworth when he won the gavel in 1925. Unfortunately for Boehner, that is where the similarities ended.

    While Boehner made a career of working with the likes of former Massachusetts Senator Teddy Kennedy, brokering big pieces of legislation like No Child Left Behind and the 2005 pension reform bill, he is at odds with a Republican conference more interested in burning bridges than building them. Twice this summer Boehner tried for a grand bargain on deficit reduction and twice the deal collapsed, in part because there just wasn’t support from within his own conference for the increased tax revenue that Democrats demanded.

    Fast forward three months, and Boehner is in much the same place. While he is tempted to engage with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to broker a supercommittee deal, he is also faced with a Republican conference not wild about what’s on the table. Boehner has backed a plan put forth by Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican and former head of the anti-tax group Club for Growth, that is also supported by all six Republicans on the supercommittee. That proposal would increase tax revenues by $300 billion while lowering the top taxable income bracket from 35% to 28%. “I think the offer that the Republicans put on the table is a fair offer,” Boehner told reporters on Tuesday.

    But even House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Boehner’s No. 2, has repeatedly refused to endorse the plan. Rep. Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, got 100 of his GOP colleagues to sign a letter opposing any new revenue. And while Rep. Jeb Hensarling, one of Boehner’s representatives on the supercommittee, delivered a well-received pitch for the Toomey plan in a Tuesday GOP conference meeting, most members who came up to congratulate him afterwards declined to support it. “Most responses were, “Hell no,”’ said one aide who witnessed the scene.

    Earlier on Tuesday, Boehner met with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid asked Boehner about recent comments by Grover Norquist, head of the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform, that the Toomey plan was nothing but a negotiating position and Republicans would never actually vote for increased tax revenue. Reid wanted a gut-check on where Boehner stood. While the Speaker last week dismissed Norquist as “some random person,” he left the meeting with Reid non-committal. He was equally non-committal when asked by GOP members about that meeting, shrugging and saying he couldn’t always read the Majority Leader.

    Boehner’s office is quick to point out that the Toomey plan is the only one out there right now that has support. After more than a week, Democrats have yet to give a counter offer. “I’ve offered $1,000 to any reporter who can find a Democratic plan that can get more than one vote in the Senate,” says Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman. “That money’s still in my pocket… The Speaker is doing everything possible to make sure that the Joint Select Committee reaches its goal.”

    Still, it’s clear that supercommittee members have taken negotiations as far as they can. While Boehner, like other congressional leaders, has stayed involved through staff and his representatives in the room, it’s clear that if a deal is to be had it will have to come from the leaders personally hashing things out – something Boehner hasn’t seemed to want to do, just yet.

    Not getting a deal could be embarrassing for Boehner and his conference, potentially inciting further disgust with Congress from a public already at its limit with the institution and its entrenched interests. From a political standpoint, doing something – even something half-baked – would be better than doing nothing. Not only are there political consequences if the committee deadlocks, but markets would likely react badly, and a deadlock would trigger automatic across-the-board cuts at the Pentagon and in entitlement spending, two especially bitter pills to swallow. Boehner’s problem is that his partner in the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has little incentive to help him. Neither do House Democrats. And with Boehner’s freshman having trouble fundraising and congressional Democrats nearly doubling their Republican counterparts’ haul last month, doing what’s politically smart has never had such an appeal to the GOP rank-and-file.

    Boehner’s negotiating style has always been to use the last minute urgency before a deadline to extract the best possible deal for him and his members. He could be playing this game again, but the best possible deal in this case might not be enough for his conservative members. Democrats rejected Toomey’s proposal as too expensive – lowering the tax rates would decrease revenues by as much as $4 trillion over the next decade, a gaping hole $300 billion in new tax revenue does little to plug. And if the Toomey plan would have trouble garnering a majority of Republicans, something to the left of Toomey’s plan would surely fail. Which means that while Boehner may be tempted to try and broker a deal here, more likely he won’t be able to, which would be the death knell for the supercommittee’s chances of success.

    Read more:

  42. rikyrah says:

    Winners and Losers of the Deficit Supercommittee Deadlock

    With the deficit supercommittee charged with finding $1.2 trillion in savings teetering on the brink of failure, Washington is embroiled in a high stakes round of recriminations. Depending on whom you listen to, everyone’s to blame and everyone’s blameless. Three months closer to an election year, Congress is proving every bit as dysfunctional as it was during the debt ceiling deal that created the supercommittee in August, and looming primaries – both presidential and congressional – have put bipartisan compromise even farther out of reach. Really, there should be no shock that the committee has failed – there were too many people who stood to benefit from its demise.
    Congressional incumbents: If you’re, say, Senator Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat who has a tough reelection test ahead of him next November, what incentive would you have to vote for entitlement cuts, which would risk the support Native American tribes, seniors, lower income voters – the trifecta of constituents that are pivotal to winning statewide in Montana. On the flip side, if you’re, say, Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican freshman of the Tea Party persuasion, voting for increased revenue could leave you open not just to a primary challenge, but also vulnerable to a conservative Democrat in the general election. Ultimately, the political calculus was against any deal, and any member of Congress facing a close race can breathe a sigh of relief now that the supercommittee has deadlocked.

    Congressional challengers: That said, new candidates for office have also been given a gift. Congress’s approval rating is near record lows and the supercommittee’s failure only serves to underline the hamstrung legislative process and the fact that those in office right now probably aren’t the ones who are going to fix it.

    Democrats: As I noted the day after the debt ceiling agreement, that deal wasn’t terrible for Democrats. Not only did they settle the 2012 budget with just $7 billion in non-defense discretionary cuts, but the likelihood of a supercommittee deadlock all but assured that Congress would pass tax reform in late 2012 or at the beginning of 2013. Democrats have long sought to raise revenue through tax reform without having to cut entitlement benefits, and now they will likely get their wish. The consequence of the supercommittee’s failure is that $1.2 trillion in cuts will automatically happen in January 2013, not coincidentally at the same time George W. Bush’s tax cuts expire. Those two events will create powerful incentives for tax reform.

    President Obama: On his tour of Asia, Obama wisely stayed about as far away as he could get from the supercommittee train wreck. After getting burned by being too close to the debt ceiling negotiations, Obama learned his lesson and let Congress embarrass itself. The supercommittee’s failure to reach an agreement only helps his strategy of running against Congress, as Harry Truman did in 1948. Now, he can spend the next year blaming congressional dysfunction for the country’s woes.

    Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist: The deadlock proves his power to hold GOP politicians to his anti-tax pledge is as potent as ever. For all the stories about how Norquist was done and how lawmakers were finding ways around it, Republicans’ fear of raising new revenue and crossing Norquist was one of the biggest contributing factors to the committee’s failure.

    Read more:

  43. rikyrah says:

    GOP freshmen see fundraising dwindle

    Two-thirds of the Republican freshmen who captured Democratic-held seats in the GOP’s 2010 takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives saw their fundraising dip in the past quarter, campaign-finance reports show.

    Several of the new incumbents, including Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, in a rematch with former congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, have been significantly outraised by their challengers. In addition, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took in nearly twice as much campaign cash as House Republicans in September — a sign Democratic donors are energized, despite low poll rankings for Congress and President Obama.

    Democrats need 25 seats to retake control of the House after losing more than 60 to Republicans last year in a wave of voter anger with Washington.

    “A deep sense of buyer’s remorse has set in across the country toward Republicans,” said Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., who oversees House campaign efforts for Democrats. “I can’t guarantee that we’ll take the House back in 2012, but it will be razor close.”

    Forty-three of 65 Republicans elected to formerly Democratic seats raised less in the July-to-September period for their House campaigns than the previous quarter, a USA TODAY tally shows.

    Political money
    The campaign committee charged with electing Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives has outraised House Republicans this year. (In millions)

    Source: Federal Election Commission
    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has seen its fundraising surge, collecting $6.6 million in September, nearly double its August haul. The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $3.8 million in September, a 27% increase from its total the previous month.

    Officials with the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee declined comment. In a recent editorial, the group’s chairman, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions pointed to Republican victories this fall in Nevada and New York special elections for the House as evidence that Democrats have not heeded voters’ unhappiness with Washington.

    “House Democrats stand up for the deeply unpopular Obamacare law, voting against the House Republican attempts to repeal it,” Sessions wrote in The Daily Caller. “They push for more government as Republicans wage war against job-destroying regulations and tax increases.”

    Among the Democratic fundraising success stories: Ann McLane Kuster, a New Hampshire lawyer who narrowly lost to Republican Rep. Charlie Bass last year. Bass previously served in Congress from 1995 to 2007 and recaptured the seat in the 2010 Republican wave.

    Kuster has outraised Bass by nearly $212,000 in the July-to-September quarter. Kuster, who has never held elective office before, said voters and donors want a fresh face in Congress, which she called a “broken” institution. “People don’t like this Congress. This is a Republican Congress, and it’s a do-nothing Congress.”

  44. rikyrah says:

    Clean Air Act To Save U.S. $82 Billion In Health Care Costs |

    The Clean Air Act turned 21 years old this week, and a new report finds that by the time it turns 31, it will have saved the U.S. billions in health care expenses. A report by Environmental Defense Fund and Trust for America’s Health looked at four new EPA rules, and shows they will yield a $82 billion in health-care savings in the next ten years, saving tens of thousands of lives and preventing millions of lost work days. Industry polluters and their political allies have claimed it would be too expensive to implement the new pollution rules.

  45. rikyrah says:

    November 21, 2011 9:30 AM

    When ‘failure’ is relative

    By Steve Benen

    When I write about the super-committee “failing,” it might make it seem as if the panel did something inherently wrong. After all, failure is supposed to be bad, whereas success is supposed to be good.

    But that doesn’t apply in this case. The super-committee failed in a literal sense — members were given a task, they tried to reach a goal, and they came up far short — but this is not to say that their ineffectiveness is necessarily disappointing, or even undesirable.

    Atrios made a wise observation yesterday.

    So there’s this bipartisan group of elected officials known as “Congress” that passed $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions into law. They also designated a random group of wankers to come up with some alternative $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions as a substitute. They didn’t come up with a substitute. So we have the original path to deficit reduction as opposed to the potential substitute.

    Why the press has mostly taken the position that some unspecified substitute would be better, or that cuts are implicitly good…

    Quite right. In fact, we can go a little further still.

    When the debt-ceiling agreement was reached in August, the parties accepted $900 billion in cuts on top of the additional $1.2 trillion in savings, for a total of $2.1 trillion in debt reduction over the next decade.

    The super-committee was told it could explore an alternative debt-reduction package, and perhaps work on an agreement that would reduce the debt even more, but the panel’s failure doesn’t change the underlying reality: Congress still approved $2.1 trillion in debt reduction over the next decade.

    How is this affected by the super-committee’s failure? That’s the point — it doesn’t affect this at all.

    As a political matter, we know exactly what we’ll see next. Congressional Republicans, who recommended a massive cut in defense spending in the debt-reduction package, will say that their own idea is far too dangerous and if the GOP proposal is implemented, it would hurt the country and undermine our national security. Indeed, Republicans have already begun to argue that they want less debt reduction, and will demand that Democrats agree to — you guessed it — spend more money.

    I’ll flesh this out in more detail soon, but the larger point is the same: the super-committee’s failure to find an alternative plan just isn’t an example some massive breakdown.

  46. rikyrah says:

    Democrats Consolidating Hispanic Vote Early
    Benjy Sarlin November 21, 2011, 6:20 AM

    President Obama’s relationship with Hispanic advocacy groups and lawmakers hasn’t always been perfect. But with the election a year off, he’s starting to put up some strong polling numbers among Latino voters.

    Obama’s approval ratings among Hispanic voters — and the broader electorate — have been relatively weak at times this year, but as the Republican primary campaign hits the home stretch he’s showing no signs of trouble in matchups with any of his potential opponents. An extensive survey of Latino voters by Univision this week showed Obama racking up similarly high margins against Mitt Romney (67-24), Rick Perry (68-21), and Herman Cain (65-22). The 2-1 ratio is roughly in line with Obama’s margin against John McCain in 2008.

    Republicans have made immigration an issue in the campaign as Romney’s attacked Perry over granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants and Cain has sometimes seriously, sometimes jokingly proposed frying border crossers on an electric fence. Everyone is on record bashing the DREAM Act, a bill Republicans have blocked in the Senate that enjoys 84% support from Latino voters, according to Univision. Regardless of who wins the nomination, clips of these statements will follow the party into the general election, and the Obama campaign is clearly pleased to see the GOP tacking right.

    “We may just run clips of the Republican debates verbatim,” Obama told reporters last week. “We won’t even comment on them, we’ll just run those in a loop on Univision and Telemundo, and people can make up their own minds.”

    The Obama campaign is stepping up efforts to court Latino voters, hiring Adrian Saenz as its Latino vote coordinator and launching a new outreach program as part of its broader “Operation Vote” campaign to target base demographics. Saenz was on the 2008 presidential campaign as well, where he ran state efforts in Texas and New Mexico.

    Running up the numbers with Obama’s base is crucial to winning re-election in what looks to be a much tougher environment than 2008 and the president needs all the help he can get from large Hispanic populations in a number of key swing states. Already they’re hoping that Arizona, a GOP state in 2008, will go blue in part due to a backlash over anti-immigration legislation. But it’s not just out West where turnout among Hispanic voters could be key: growing communities in Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, all of which figure to be hotly contested battlegrounds, could provide a critical boost.

    “We have to go out there and focus on expanding the electorate,” Saenz told Univision. “Having been a state director, I think it’s important that when we’re putting together these programs … it’s important to build them at the state level.”

  47. rikyrah says:

    A Failure the Left Can Embrace
    by BooMan
    Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 12:23:08 AM EST

    I was skeptical about the Occupy protests when they began and I remain skeptical about where they are heading, but I sure am glad that there are people on the streets demanding that the most affluent people in this country pay their fair share when I see shit like this happening in Washington DC.

    As time wound down to a Monday night deadline for an agreement [of the Supercommitee], Capitol Hill lacked the frenzied negotiation typical of a Congressional race to beat the clock. Instead, many members — well aware that Congressional approval ratings are near historic lows in polls — seemed resigned to the fact that Democrats and Republicans remained far apart on major budget issues, especially tax increases on the affluent, which Democrats insist must be part of any deficit solution and which Republicans oppose.

    What we are not seeing is any people on the streets demanding that the Democrats make concessions on entitlement spending or the discretionary budget. In this case, no deal is a good deal for the 99%. It’s not a great deal, as there will be negative consequences from yet another demonstration that our government is paralyzed. The stock market will probably react negatively, and that will trickle down. The credit rating agencies may exact some retribution, further damaging the country’s reputation and probably costing us more jobs. And the president will not come out of this smelling like roses, even if people correctly assign most of the blame where it properly belongs…on the Republicans.

    But the left has definitely won this argument. The Democrats went into this fight with modest and reasonable demands. Their negotiating stance was actually quite weak, as they began with a willingness to make concessions that their own base would hate. But they weren’t even allowed to make those concessions because their opponents were so incredibly intransigent and unreasonable.

    In the end, the Democrats correctly concluded that the automatic cuts that will kick in if no deal is reached are preferable to anything that they have been able to negotiate. And the people in the streets have given them the confidence to hold their ground and accept whatever criticism they might receive for allowing large cuts to the Pentagon’s budget.

    So, even though I can’t say that the Occupy protests are going to accomplish much, they have already accomplished something. It’s a modest accomplishment, but it’s significant.

  48. rikyrah says:

    November 21, 2011
    The right sets sights on “technocrats”
    Krugman surveys what he sees as a rough terminological balance:

    There’s a word I keep hearing lately: “technocrat.” Sometimes it’s used as a term of scorn — the creators of the euro, we’re told, were technocrats who failed to take human and cultural factors into account. Sometimes it’s a term of praise: the newly installed prime ministers of Greece and Italy are described as technocrats who will rise above politics and do what needs to be done.

    Right-wing word-assassination alert: like “liberal” or “community organizer,” the words “technocrat” and “technocracy” are scheduled for the dustbin of searing derision. These terms were born within the reformist eras of Progressivism and the New Deal, hence they bear — they must, right? — the distinguishing mark of the Bolshevik beast.

    I’m a bit surprised they’ve lasted as long as they have (although “liberalism” and “socialism” — especially the European variety — helped tremendously to draw the right’s fire for decades). For what “technocracy” denotes is what the New Deal, organically, was all about: Forget ideology, urged Roosevelt, and just give me something — something, anything, grounded on the best available empirical data, or even your best guess of technical expertise — that might work. He cared not if the root of the idea sprang from conservatism or social democracy, from Edmund Burke or from Karl Marx.

    “Technocracy” is essentially another way of saying “pragmatism.” And to ideologues, nothing could be more abhorrent. To them, this authentic American (non)philosophy is like an unwanted quantum mechanics of their happily unified political field theory: pragmatism means that what works today may not work tomorrow; unpredictability reigns; we must forever adjust our methods to compensate for the unexpected — in short, conscientious, hands-on governing is required. For a right winger of simplistic, notional, hands-off consistency, it’s enough to induce the vapors.

    But how do I know the term “technocracy” — technocrat, technocratic, etc. — is doomed as nothing more than a derisive substitute for “pragmatism”? I know, for He has written:

    Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Massachusetts governor who takes his bearings from “data” … and who believes elections should be about (in Dukakis’s words) “competence,” not “ideology.”

    That was George Will, from last month. The final Word.

  49. rikyrah says:

    November 20, 2011
    Anti-intellectual methadone
    It seems it has come to this.

    The bottoming out — please, we’re begging, somebody please assure us that this is indeed the bottom, the deepest and icyist circle of Hell, that farthest from the warm, celestial orb of secular enlightenment — of the Republican base’s monstrous anti-intellectualism is compelling a fresh look at the writhing, rotted, utterly corrupt “intellect” of Newt Gingrich.

    That, gentle readers, is just how alienated from the maddening crowd the GOP’s literate demimonde has become. Alienated, and desperate. Desperately alienated. And despairing. In fact so despairing of “the Palinization of the GOP” is the Post’s Kathleen Parker, she writes approvingly that

    there are signs that the GOP is recognizing its [anti-intellectual] weaknesses and is ready to play smarter. To wit: The sudden surge of Gingrich, who, whatever his flaws and despite the weight of his considerable baggage, is no intellectual slouch. Whether he can pull off a victory in Iowa remains to be seen, but a populist professor — a bombastic smarty-pants Republicans can call their own — may be just the ticket.

    Yes, I know. It takes a while to recover from a passage like that. So take a moment. A moment of …

    Back? Jaw off your chest and eyes realigned? Good.

    In the Commentariat Field Manual, there are itemized, of course, worse transgressions than that of confusing glibness with intellect. If a prodigious verbal ease of sleaze genuinely corresponded with depth of thought, than Rush Limbaugh would be an honored pillar of the Ivy League. This should go without saying, though perhaps the Field Manual hits it not hard enough. Are we clear?

    Still, I am not wholly without compassion, and thus a little slack-cutting, for Ms. Parker and her fellow conservative desperados. It’s true, they could have done more, way back when, to stem the GOP’s torrent of anti-intellectual piss. That they failed to do so betrayed only their partisan eagerness, however, much like those disingenuous liberals who have failed to disown the bottomed-out despicability of an Alan Grayson. We are all, at one time or another, soaked in the stench of hypocrisy.

    But, come on, Ms. Parker. Elevating the wretchedly fluid malevolence of Newt Gingrich as “just the ticket” to punch down GOP anti-intellectualism? Has it really come to that, Ms. Parker?

  50. rikyrah says:

    November 21, 2011 8:00 AM
    Kyl’s candid confession
    By Steve Benen

    Technically, the deadline for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — better known as the super-committee — is still a couple of days away, but as a practical matter, members would need to have an agreement in place by tonight. That’s not going to happen, and the committee that everyone assumed would fail will meet expectations.

    This was not, however, the only predictable result. We also knew from the outset that when the super-committee failed, the parties would point fingers at each other and the media would go to great lengths to insist “both sides” are to blame, regardless of the facts.

    And sure enough, the political world is following the script to the letter.

    For those who have some interest, though, in why this debt-reduction panel failed to reach its goal, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said something interesting on “Meet the Press” yesterday. The far-right Arizonan was boasting about how cooperative super-committee Republicans had been, including the “breakthrough” of GOP members offering to add billions of saving through increased revenue, targeting tax loopholes.

    Host David Gregory, to his credit, reminded Kyl of reality: “But let’s talk about the full, balanced picture here, which is that Republicans wanted to have a conversation in the course of trying to lower the deficit about extending the Bush-era tax cuts, which the Congressional Budget Office would say has an impact of $3.7 trillion on the deficit. So, in the name of lowering the deficit, you want to extend those tax cuts, which increases the deficit and would not be off-set by the tax increase that you were talking about.”

    Quite right. Republicans were offering a hopelessly insane deal: they’d trade $250 billion in new revenue for $3.7 trillion in less revenue, thus making the debt bigger, not smaller. Asked to explain this, Kyl changed the subject.

    Eventually, the Republican leader summarized his perspective:

    “If you really want to get serious about the deficit, our country has to grow economically. We have to put people back to work. That’s what creates wealth that can be taxed. We’re not going to tax our way out of this, we need to grow. And you can’t grow if you raise taxes in the middle of a recession. That’s what President Obama said when, when unemployment was at 9 percent a few months ago. He said don’t raise taxes in a recession. And he’s right. That impairs job creation by taking more money from the very people, primarily small business folks, who will create most of the jobs coming out of the recession.”

    This, to my mind, effectively gives away the store: Republicans weren’t willing to raise taxes on anyone by any amount. The details matter and Kyl doesn’t know what he’s talking about — Dems wanted new tax revenue to kick in starting in 2013, not now — but the overarching point is that Democrats wanted a balanced debt-reduction package, which included shared sacrifice, and Republicans didn’t.

    Kyl’s understanding of economics is woefully incomplete, but that’s not the most meaningful aspect of his on-air comments — he made it clear GOP members weren’t willing to make concessions on taxes. They feel like they had a good reason to be inflexible, but that doesn’t change the inflexibility.

    One side wanted a deal that would require concessions from both sides, with the very wealthy to shoulder some of the burden, and one side didn’t. That’s what happened. It’s what caused the failure, and all the Republican spinning and lazy reporting won’t change this basic reality.

  51. rikyrah says:

    unday, November 20, 2011
    Fire Walker Chronicles, Part 4
    Posted by Zandar
    A big weekend rally in Madison, Wisconsin was a huge success as over 25,000 gathered in the state capital to protest Gov. Scott Walker and to urge his recall.

    Thousands of people gathered at the Wisconsin capitol on Saturday to demand a recall of Republican Governor Scott Walker, whose controversial and successful drive to limit public unions last winter sparked the biggest protests in the state since the Vietnam War.

    Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, a Democrat, signed a recall petition during a morning meeting with about 300 recall volunteers and pledged to help the effort through his political action committee.
    With the crowd chanting “Run, Russ, Run,” Feingold repeated that he would not run against Walker in any recall election.

    “There will be a new governor in a few months. It won’t be me, but it will be somebody good,” Feingold said. “It’s not about me. It’s not about any particular candidate. It’s about restoring civility and some kind of sense of unity to the state.”

    The Wisconsin Department of Administration estimated that between 25,000 and 30,000 people gathered at an afternoon rally at the Capitol building to boost the state-wide petition drive for a Walker recall election that began on November 15.

    United Wisconsin, part of the coalition leading the recall effort, said more than 105,000 signatures had been gathered through the first four days of the effort. Organizers need 540,208 valid signatures by January 15 to trigger a recall vote.

    So 20% there in 4 days? Yeah, things are looking good for the recall effort, I’d say. Walker and his administration are in trouble, even if Russ Feingold isn’t going to replace Walker. Still, the effort appears to be going rather well, I’d say.

  52. rikyrah says:

    November 21, 2011 8:35 AM

    The right blames Obama for GOP’s debt failure

    By Steve Benen

    As the super-committee implodes, the rush is on to assign blame. At this point, many Republicans and media figures want to point the finger at President Obama.

    Indeed, the right seems quite invested in this line of attack, as if a memo went out to Republicans and allied pundits, encouraging them to all say the same thing at the same time. Judd Gregg and Robert Samuelson make the same lazy argument in print, and both pretend to have no knowledge of the massive debt-reduction plans Obama offered the GOP, which the conservative party rejected.

    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) even sketched out a crude conspiracy theory, telling ABC yesterday that the White House deliberately ensured the super-committee’s failure so the president could run against a “do-nothing Congress.”

    Then there was Mitt Romney.

    With the so-called supercommittee at an impasse ahead of Wednesday’s deadline, Mr. Romney blamed the president for the apparent failure of the bipartisan panel…. “He hasn’t had any role,” Mr. Romney told roughly 200 supporters outside the city hall building in Nashua…. “He’s done nothing.”

    Let’s count the ways in which this fails to make any sense whatsoever.

    First, President Obama offered Republicans multiple debt-reduction plans, which called for concessions from both sides. GOP lawmakers rejected every offer. That’s not an example of the president “doing nothing”; it’s an example of the opposite.

    Second, Obama can’t force Republicans to negotiate in good faith and he can’t compel the GOP to accept revenues the party refused to even consider. It’s not as if Republicans on the super-committee would somehow become more responsible because the president asked them to stop acting like children. Indeed, he’s asked that before, and it’s never worked.

    And third, Obama kept his distance and allowed members of the debt panel to work on a deal on their own because Republicans asked the president to stay away.

    [A]nother committee member, Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said on “Meet the Press” that President Obama and White House budget officials “were asked to be hands off.”

    “The Republicans said, ‘Don’t let Obama come into this, because if he does, it will make it political,’ ” Mr. Kerry said, adding, “They’ve been intimately involved, but carefully so that they didn’t politicize it. I think they did the right thing.”

    Republicans can’t urge Obama to keep his distance, and then blame him when he keeps his distance.

    Members of this committee were given a task: strike a deal. Democrats were willing to meet Republicans more than half way; Republicans weren’t willing to compromise. It’s only natural to wonder who’s to blame when there’s a breakdown like this, but holding the White House responsible is deeply foolish.

  53. rikyrah says:

    Romney Blames Obama for Supercommittee Failure.

    Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney criticized President Barack Obama on Sunday for refusing to intervene in congressional talks to cut the deficit.

    With the so-called supercommittee at an impasse ahead of Wednesday’s deadline, Mr. Romney blamed the president for the apparent failure of the bipartisan panel, which was tasked with finding savings in excess of $1.2 trillion. He also called on Mr. Obama to introduce legislation to restore $600 billion in defense spending that will be cut automatically if the panel fails to offer alternatives.

    “He hasn’t had any role,” Mr. Romney told roughly 200 supporters outside the city hall building in Nashua, where he appeared for a campaign event with Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte. “He’s done nothing. It’s another example of failed leadership.”

    As many of his rivals for the nomination fade, Mr. Romney continues to hammer the president in a bid to cast himself as the inevitable Republican nominee. He starts speeches these days by asking voters to envision the day after the general election, and his campaign issues daily press releases to complain that Mr. Obama’s political aides are obsessed with their candidate.

    The president recently has taken a hands-off approach in the ongoing talks to reduce the deficit, deferring to a bipartisan panel of six senators and six House members who have so far been unable to agree on a deficit-reduction package, in large measure, because Republicans have refused to accept Democratic proposals to increases taxes individuals or certain sectors of the economy.

    Mr. Romney joined the rest of the Republican presidential field in his refusal to raise taxes on anyone as a means to pare the deficit. He restated those objections repeatedly during campaign stops over the weekend and instead pointed the finger at Mr. Obama.

    “He has not taken personal responsibility to get this supercommittee to find ways to balance our budget to cut spending,” Mr. Romney said Sunday. “Instead, he set up a trap: He said we’re going to cut military spending by $600 billion.”

    The $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts was agreed to by leaders in both parties, when the federal government was on the brink of a default, including the top two Republicans in the House and Senate.

    Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign, said Mr. Romney’s approach would provide more tax cuts for the wealthiest earners while leaving U.S. troops “indefinitely” in Iraq.

    “That’s the approach that led to the recession and created the deficit in the first place,” Mr. LaBolt said. “While President Obama laid out a balanced approach to reduce the deficit by $3 trillion, Mitt Romney now wants to absolve Congress of any responsibility to act.”

    Mr. Romney’s criticism on Sunday feeds into a hallmark of his campaign: His support for more robust military spending. Despite his calls to cut many domestic programs, the former Massachusetts governor has vowed to spend more on rebuilding the country’s aging naval fleet and modernizing its military airplanes. He also wants to increase the number of soldiers by 100,000.

  54. rikyrah says:

    Both Sides Meme’ in the Super Committee
    Posted on 11/21/2011 at 7:30 am by Bob Cesca
    Paul Krugman predicted that “both sides” would be blamed if the Super Committee failed to come up with a deal.

    He was right.

    Yep, the Democrats on the committee are being targeted with equal blame as the Republicans even though the Republicans refused to allow equal parts tax increases and spending cuts — this, of course, would be a fair deal. Instead, the Republicans insisted on a hugely lopsided deal with spending cuts far outweighing tax hikes.


    According to the supercommittee’s Democrats, the Republicans just offered a deal that paired $542.7 billion in spending cuts with $3 billion in tax increases. So the ratio of spending cuts to tax increases is approximately 180:1, and 214:1 if you count interest savings.

    So when the Democrats rightfully resist being bullied around with an incredibly unfair deal, they’re blamed as much as the Republicans.

    Your liberal media at work. Blame the Democrats for not allowing themselves (and the American people) to be bulldozed by the Republicans.

  55. rikyrah says:

    Chipsticks, over at The Obama Diary, has a wonderful pictorial tribute to the First Lady this morning.

  56. rikyrah says:

    November 20, 2011
    Categories:House races
    DWS more popular than West in his district
    Allen West may have called his Florida colleague Debbie Wasserman Schultz “vile” and “despicable.”

    But it appears he can add “more popular” to his description of the Democratic National Committee chair.

    A poll commissioned by found that Schultz has a 4-point favorability edge over the freshman tea party favorite in Broward County, which West represents.

    The poll, commissioned by — which did not survey outside of Broward County — shows that 46.5 percent of the District 22 voters polled had a favorable view of Wasserman Schultz, compared to 42.8 percent who had a favorable view of West.
    The gap is even wider between the two when it comes to unfavorable opinions — 44.1 percent of West’s constituents said they had an unfavorable view of him, while 34.5 percent of his constituents said they had an unfavorable view of Wasserman Schultz.
    West’s personal insult of Schultz is just another reason he’ll be the top target of House Democrats next year.

  57. rikyrah says:

    President Obama’s base of support remains solid heading into 2012
    By Chris Cillizza, Published: November 20

    Everyone knows that President Obama has a problem with his political base heading into 2012. Except that he doesn’t.

    One of the most persistent story lines for the president has been that the liberal left has grown increasingly dissatisfied with his actions (or inaction) on some of its priorities — including single-payer health insurance, the extension of the George W. Bush tax cuts and whether to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    But an examination of the polling data among key subgroups that constitute Obama’s base makes clear that he has as much support from them as any modern president seeking a second term.

    “There is one immutable fact about President Obama’s reelection chances: Nobody has a more solid 44 percent base than he does,” Democratic pollster Peter Hart wrote in a not-entirely-uncritical memo assessing the state of political affairs a year out from the election.

    As evidence, Hart noted that in the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, Obama takes 44 percent in a three-way race with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) running as an independent; has a 44 percent job approval rating; and has a 45 percent positive personal rating. In the same survey, 45 percent said they “probably” will vote for Obama in 2012.

    At the heart of the president’s enduring strength among his base are African Americans who have never wavered in any meaningful way after 95 percent of black voters opted for the Illinois senator in 2008.

    In Gallup’s latest weekly tracking polling, Obama’s job approval rating stands at 43 percent among the general public but is nearly double that — 84 percent —among African Americans. In the November NBC-WSJ poll, Obama’s approval rating among black voters stood at a stratospheric 91 percent.

    Given that African Americans made up 13 percent of the overall electorate in 2008 — and, hence, a much larger chunk of the Democratic base vote — Obama’s continued support among that key demographic makes any sort of widespread base erosion in 2012 unlikely.

    That’s a reality that even Republicans acknowledge.

    “Anyone who thinks African Americans are not going to turn out and vote in numbers similar to 2008 are fooling themselves,” said Glen Bolger, a leading GOP pollster. “There is no way they are going to say, ‘Well, we didn’t get everything we wanted from making history, so let’s sit on our hands.’ ”

    Although African Americans remain the base group most broadly supportive of Obama, liberals and Democrats are very much in his camp as well. In Gallup’s most recent data, Obama’s job approval rating stood at 78 percent among Democrats and 70 percent among liberals.

    • Ametia says:

      i was in Superior WI Saturday. There was a lady at the library getting signatures on the petition to recall WALKER. Too bad I’m not a Wisconsonite; I would have signed it.

  58. rikyrah says:

    Y’all are killing me with this country theme…

    cracking me up.

    I’m only kidding…I can enjoy all kinds of music, and I love our diversity.

  59. Democratic Pollsters: Obama Should Abandon Run for Second Term

    President Obama should abandon his run for a second term and turn over the reins of the Democratic Party to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, two one-time Democratic pollsters wrote in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, which appeared online Sunday.

    • The hell you say! Whomever wrote that crap sounds like a dm fool. President Obama AIN’T going anywhere until 2016. Learn to live with it bee.itches!

    • rikyrah says:


    • Ametia says:

      WSJ is a Rupert Murdock piece of shit. ENOUGH SAID

      Line your litter boxes with this rag and let the kitties crap on ever line of this nonsense. LOL

      • The mofos are pretty desperate. The haters feed off of BS articles like this to stir up the racists. You should see the stupid over there. No wait…nevermind. I won’t subject you to that horse sh*t.

    • rikyrah says:

      found this comment over at POU about these jackals:


      The corrupt establishment Democrats who have been put out to pasture by President Obama’s election are going full blown ape shit in their drive to defeat President Obama.

      Look at Chris Matthews and “his Democrat sources” who claim that they “have not heard” from President Obama and that he “does not like them” is so blatant in its HIT PIECE /TAKE HIM DOWN intent.

      Chris Matthews’ main source would be Ed Rendell who Chris Matthews has been quoting for some time now including his stupid slip up a few weeks ago when he contended that “nobody likes Obama and so no high profile Democrat is out there playing surrogate on his behalf”.

      That was before he let slip that Ed Rendell had told him that if Hillary was president, he would be “out there fighting for her”.

      This is all you need to know. Ed Rendell and the other corrupt Clinton Democrats who support their party and President only when their palms are greased and they are seriously bribed and bought are behind this.

      It is evident that at first the Obama team reached out to Ed Rendell and tried to work with him, but soon realized that Rendell was not interested in helping re-build the country or supporting the President and the Democratic agenda.

      No. Just like so many of the old Democratic establishment, if there are no ambassadorships, board memberships, supreme court spots, DNC chairmanships or some meaty appointment in it for them or their wives, then they aren’t interested.

      I suspect the White House finally had it and cut off Ed Rendell especially after he also started leaking details of even the least consequential meetings he had with the Obama team. As “Senior Democratic source” of course!

      I think he is really now smarting from being completely ignored after they gave up on his sorry, worthless ass.

      And Chris Matthews the complete buffoon just squeals like the oral diarrhea patient he is – and thank God for that!

      Ed Rendell will pay dearly for the role he has played in the undermining and sabotage of the Obama presidency.

      I think they have no idea just how strong and unwavering is the support President Obama really enjoys amongst Democrats, but they will all find out soon enough and the hard way.

      And as I’ve said before, people like Ed Rendell are so done and they don’t even know it. The ground has permanently shifted under them and they don’t even get it.

      The days of wielding corrupt power and influence and holding a great man and President hostage while threatening to blow up his presidency if he does not cater to your greedy and corrupt ass, are over.

      Ed Rendell is no different from the rest of his friends who in a bid to take down President Obama, have essentially just self-destructed instead and will be forever relegated to the annals of obscurity where they rightfully belong.

      Spiteful, short-sighted, vindictive, greedy, corrupt idiots.

      • I tip my hat to the commenter. She brought it! That’s what I’m talking ’bout!

      • Ametia says:

        BAM, BAM, BAM!

      • GrannyStandingforTruth says:

        I’ve been telling everyone that there were some in the President’s own party that were stabbing him in his back. They’re mad because he is not into their corrupt games of greed.

        Those who are loyal to the President and know that he has done a good job need to do like they did when he was elected President, work hard, and even harder this time to make sure that he is reelected. Expose every lie those that oppose him try to put out there, even the minor ones. Do not let up, until the elections are over!

  60. Good Morning, Ametia, Rikyrah, 3 Chics, Friends & Visitors

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