Friday Open Thread

Dwight David Yoakam(born October 23, 1956) is an American singer-songwriter, actor and film director, most famous for his pioneering country music. Popular since the early 1980s, he has recorded more than twenty-one albums and compilations, has charted more than thirty singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, and sold more than 25 million records.

Yoakam was born in Pikeville, Kentucky, the son of Ruth Ann, a key-punch operator, and David Yoakam, a gas-station owner.[1] He was raised in Columbus, Ohio. He graduated from Columbus’s Northland High School in 1974. During his high school years, he excelled in both music and drama, regularly securing the lead role in school plays, such as “Charlie” in a stage version of Flowers for Algernon, honing his skills under the guidance of teacher-mentors Jerry McAfee (music) and Charles Lewis (drama).  

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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34 Responses to Friday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Why African Americans aren’t embracing Occupy Wall Street

    By Stacey Patton, Published: November 25

    Occupy Wall Street might seem like a movement that would resonate with black Americans. After all, unemployment among African Americans is at 15 percent, vs. almost 8 percent for whites. And between 2005 and 2009, black households lost just over half of their median net worth compared with white families, who lost 16 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.

    However, these numbers have not translated into action. A few prominent African Americans, such as Cornel West, Russell Simmons, Kanye West and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), have made appearances at Occupy protests. “Occupy the Hood,” a recent offshoot, has tried to get more people of color involved. But the main movement remains overwhelmingly white: A Fast Company survey last month found that African Americans, who are 12.6 percent of the U.S. population, make up only 1.6 percent of Occupy Wall Street.

    African Americans share white Americans’ anger about corporate greed and corruption, and blacks have a rich history of protesting injustice in United States. So why aren’t they Occupying?

    “Occupy Wall Street was started by whites and is about their concern with their plight,” Nathalie Thandiwe, a radio host and producer for WBAI in New York, said in an interview. “Now that capitalism isn’t working for ‘everybody,’ some are protesting.”

    From America’s birthing pains to the civil rights protests of the 1960s, blacks have never been afraid to fight for economic or social justice. Crispus Attucks, a former slave and the first person killed by British soldiers in the Boston Massacre of 1770, is considered the first martyr of the American Revolution. Frederick Douglass, a slave turned abolitionist, stressed in the 19th century that black and white laborers’ fortunes and freedom were intertwined, saying that white labor “was robbed” of fair wages so long as it competed with unpaid black slaves.


    eyond a lack of leaders to inspire them to join the Occupy fold, blacks are not seeing anything new for themselves in the movement. Why should they ally with whites who are just now experiencing the hardships that blacks have known for generations? Perhaps white Americans are now paying the psychic price for not answering the basic questions that blacks have long raised about income inequality.

    New Jersey comedian John “Alter Negro” Minus says he won’t participate in the Occupy protests because black people are being besieged by so many social injustices, he can’t get behind targeting just the 1 percent.

    Banks’ bad behavior “just gets lost in the sauce, so to speak,” Minus said. “High joblessness and social disenfranchisement is new to most of the Wall Street protesters. It’s been a fact of life for African Americans since the beginning. I actually think black people are better served by staying out of the protests. Civil disobedience will only further the public perception that black people like to cause trouble.”

  2. rikyrah says:

    Andrew Sullivan’s Very White (and Racist) Burden

    I was minding my own business on Twitter yesterday when I saw a tweet from one of my favorite political writers and fellow Wahoo Alumni Jamelle Bouie. Apparently, Andrew Sullivan, conservative blogger over at The Dish, had again dipped his toes into the fetid pool that is the “Race and Intelligence” debate thinking full well that pretty words and subtle comments would cover his tracks.

    Sullivan waxes poetic about the fact that Black folks just might be naturally stupid and there’s nothing we can really do about it. We: meaning supposedly thoughtful white political observers who ‘wrestle’ with this notion that maybe the Bell Curve was right and if so African Americans (and of course Latinos, too) are just never going to be able to collectively fit into the beautiful open ended society we all call America.

    I have no desire to re-live the 1990’s (my occasional marathons on Centric notwithstanding) so I’m not going to do a piece by piece break-down of why the Bell Curve was garbage, and why silver tongued racists like Sullivan are always keen to use pop science to justify what they already believe. Many people much more versed in biology and psychology than myself have done that over the last 15 years. I won’t even engage in a discussion of the grotesque hypocrisy of a man with Sullivan’s demographic profile (Openly Gay, HIV positive) being an advocate for pop eugenics. I will simply share a holiday story.

    Point of full disclosure: Sometimes I’m a very petty uncle. I played Connect Four with my favorite niece Antonia every year on Thanksgiving from when she was the tender age of 4 to the ripe old age of 8. I’m not the kind of guy who believes in sheltering kids so I had no ethical qualms about the fact that I beat her, every game, every time for four straight years. She would complain and stamp her feet but kept trying to beat me, but she never had a chance. I had a fool-proof strategy for Connect Four and she could never figure it out. No matter how many times she pointed out that she could beat me in Hungry Hungry Hippos or Chutes and Ladders I insisted that Connect Four was the only game that counted since that was the one I always won at (I know, shameful).

    Then one Thanksgiving a couple of years ago she finally beat me, and she savored that victory in the way that only 8 years olds can. Meaning, running around the house, doing off rhythm victory dances in my face and showing off the winning game board to every other family member. Needless to say we haven’t played Connect Four since. Because as the petty uncle who hates to lose I decided to change the game up the moment I wasn’t guaranteed to win.

    Now, you can change my name to The MAN, or Mr. Charlie or whatever you’d like but let’s be honest: The larger European and American scientific community is NEVER going to develop an intelligence test where they don’t come out on top.


    Even when Asians test higher on IQ there’s always some cultural argument thrown into the analysis to make sure that Whites stay on top of the pecking order (i.e., They’re smart all right but they’re just not as creative as white people!). Why do you think there is never any major American coverage of intelligence tests developed by the African or Asian scientific communities? Because everyone’s work proves that their people are the smartest. In fact, even when Roland Fryer, a brilliant academic at Harvard showed what a farce IQ tests are, his work was largely ignored. Less than 4 years ago Dr. Fryer’s research showed that IQ levels, which are supposed to be immutable, are equal for African American and White children but differences only show up on tests once they’ve been in public schools for 2 years proving that the impact of racism and schooling is muting IQ scores more than actually assessing them.

    Of course, his research was largely ignored by the press and pundit mags because it didn’t support the sexy self-aggrandizing narrative that people like Andrew Sullivan live by: Whites are smarter than Blacks, but it is their extreme benevolence that leads them to allow us to play house in the societies ‘they’ve’ created.

    I’m glad Sullivan feels that way and makes that point so clearly in his work, at least he’s honest about it. However, I offer him a simple challenge. Next time he feels saddled down with the weight of carrying all of us slow witted Nlacks and Latinos around I invite him to come over to my family’s house for Thanksgiving. I’ll encourage him to play my niece in a friendly game of Connect Four. Seems she’s become quite the expert and hasn’t lost a game in years. Even though she’s guaranteed to win, I’m pretty sure she’ll let him stay around for a few matches.

  3. President Barack Obama greets five-year-old Seattle Brown after he spoke about jobs at Manchester High School Central in Manchester, N.H. , Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Making Politics Safe for Rich White People Again
    by John Cole

    All you really need to know about Moderate Americans Elect is that they are basically the country-club Republicans who have been driven out of the GOP by the teahadist and talibangelical wings. They call themselves moderate, but they are basically the corporate wing of the former GOP. They’re down with laffer, tax cuts, gutting the safety net, and easing “burdensome” regulations. They’re ok with unfettered corporate greed, invading Iran, serving as Israel’s client state, and macing some fucking hippies who dare to stand around in front of Wall Street. They have a hard-on for the drug war and school vouchers.

    The only thing that separates them from the GOP is they don’t give a shit about gay marriage and they think all the anti-immigration stuff is bad for business, and they have some black friends so the racism of the GOP base embarrasses them. This is the party of Bloomberg, Bayh, Giuliani, Harold Ford, Blanche Lincoln, etc.

  5. rikyrah says:

    The view from Obama’s Chicago team
    Anne E. Kornblut
    Thursday, Nov 24, 2011

    CHICAGO — Since May, a steady trickle of aides has left the White House for a more blustery climate, temporary apartments and minimal presidential perks. They are now reassembled here in President Obama’s home town as his 2012 campaign staff, facing a grim political environment shaped by the worst economic outlook in decades and a dismal job-approval rating for the commander in chief.

    Yet compared with their colleagues in Washington, the Chicago crew members are living the good life. And not just because they have a putting green and a ping-pong table in the middle of the office.

    Unshackled from the day-to-day machinations of governing, and unburdened by the partisan intensity of official Washington, the Chicago team is energized by the clarity of its purpose: getting Obama reelected. That means focusing not on Washington, but on laying the campaign groundwork in the key battleground states that will decide the contest.

    That also means working on issues, large and small, in corners of the country far removed from Washington: aiding a state Senate race in eastern Iowa; helping to coordinate a volunteer effort to elect a Democratic mayor in Tucson; recruiting a nationwide stable of lawyers in preparation for possible lawsuits and voter-registration fights from Florida to Wisconsin.–

  6. rikyrah says:

    Thursday, November 24, 2011
    Getting Serious On Syria, Part 3
    Posted by Zandar
    When the State Department tells all Americans to get the hell out of a foreign country that’s been on our naughty list for some time, it’s a pretty good sign something new and ugly is coming. Fast. Probably involving things that go boom.

    The U.S. Embassy in Damascus urged its citizens in Syria to depart “immediately,” and Turkey’s foreign ministry urged Turkish pilgrims to opt for flights to return home from Saudi Arabia to avoid traveling through Syria.

    “The U.S. Embassy continues to urge U.S. citizens in Syria to depart immediately while commercial transportation is available,” said a statement issued to the American community in Syria Wednesday and posted on the Embassy’s website. “The number of airlines serving Syria has decreased significantly since the summer, while many of those airlines remaining have reduced their number of flights.”

    Yeah folks, this isn’t a “maybe you should think this over”, this is “get the hell out of Dodge before the bombs start falling.” Picking a fight with Syria means Iran gets involved, and Iran getting involved means Russia and China get involved. Russia at least is already making loud noises of its own.

    Russia threatened on Wednesday to deploy missiles to target the U.S. missile shield in Europe if Washington fails to assuage Moscow’s concerns about its plans, a harsh warning that reflected deep cracks in U.S.-Russian ties despite President Barack Obama’s efforts to “reset” relations with the Kremlin.

    President Dmitry Medvedev said he still hopes for a deal with the U.S. on missile defense, but he strongly accused Washington and its NATO allies of ignoring Russia’s worries. He said Russia will have to take military countermeasures if the U.S. continues to build the shield without legal guarantees that it will not be aimed against Russia.

    The Russians aren’t stupid. They know what’s coming and they’re telegraphing two, three moves down the chessboard right off the bat, going straight to “You really don’t want to do this, pal.” Believe me, the two issues are related.

    Most likely this is just before some sort of NATO/UN sanctions are leveled as the Arab League’s no-fly zone (led by Turkey) might be shaping up sooner rather than later and Russia is just driving around with full beams on all the time, making a show. On the other hand, the Russians are clearly looking for a fight right now if anybody other than the Arab League gets involved.

    Just the same, Tyler Durden notes we’ve moved an aircraft carrier group over to Syria this week.

  7. Tom Wicker Dead: Former NYT Columnist, Author Dies

    MONTPELIER, Vt. — Tom Wicker, the former New York Times political reporter and columnist whose career soared following his acclaimed coverage of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, died Friday at his home in Rochester, Vt. He was 85.

    Wicker died after an apparent heart attack Friday morning, his wife Pamela said.

  8. Ametia says:

    Congress fails. The can is kicked. Cue the finger-pointing at President Obama for failing to lead.

    Count me out, this time around.

    The collapse of the supercommittee is not Obama’s fault. If he had pushed and prodded and cajoled and horse-traded, the result likely would have been the same. Perhaps even worse, in the sense that the partisan digging-in might have been even more entrenched.

    For all the eleventh-hour, “where-was-Obama?” moaning, the bipartisan congressional directive to the White House as the supercommittee did its work was simple: Back off.

  9. rikyrah says:

    November 25, 2011 9:05 AM
    ‘Walking napalm’

    By Steve Benen

    When I think about Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), three anecdotes come to mind.

    The first came earlier this year, when Kyl got caught lying about Planned Parenthood, and his spokesperson said the senator’s bogus claim was “not intended to be a factual statement.” The second came in 2005, when the right-wing senator looked for people killed by Hurricane Katrina who might be exploited to justify a tax cut for millionaires and billionaires.

    And the third came last year, when Kyl negotiated with Obama administration officials on the New START treaty — an issue he admittedly didn’t understand — and the president’s team agreed to all of the senator’s terms. Almost immediately, Kyl betrayed the White House anyway, just because he could.

    Dana Milbank, meanwhile, turned his attention this week to a fourth legacy-defining moment for the Arizona senator: his behind-the-scenes efforts to sabotage the super-committee debt-reduction talks.

    It exaggerates little to say that Kyl thwarted agreement almost singlehandedly. While some Republicans on the panel — notably Reps. Dave Camp and Fred Upton — were, with House Speaker John Boehner’s blessing, prepared to strike a deal, Kyl rallied resistance with his usual table-pounding tirades. […]

    The sabotage began on the very first day the supercommittee met…. When Democrats floated their proposal combining tax increases and spending cuts, Kyl rejected it out of hand, citing Republicans’ pledge to activist Grover Norquist not to raise taxes. Kyl’s constant invocation of the Norquist pledge provoked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to snap at Kyl during a private meeting: “What is this, high school?” […]

    “Walking napalm” is how one Democratic aide involved in the supercommittee described Kyl this week…. As Kyl leaves the Senate, he will be remembered as a lawmaker who intended to be not factual but destructive.

    That part about Kyl leaving is important — the GOP leader is retiring at the end of this Congress, and he was in a position to, in theory, show some courage and leadership that other members might have been more reluctant to show. Instead, the Arizonan did the opposite.

    Kyl has long been one of the nation’s worst senators, though a few too many pundits refuse to believe it. Kudos to Milbank for shining a spotlight on him.

  10. rikyrah says:

    November 25, 2011 9:55 AM
    Must we keep going through this charade?

    By Steve Benen


    The restless political middle — emboldened by the recent inability of a special congressional committee to agree on a debt-reduction deal — is staking out a controversial plan to insert itself into the 2012 election.

    A bipartisan group of political strategists and donors known as Americans Elect has raised $22 million and is likely to place a third presidential candidate on the ballot in every state next year. The goal is to provide an alternative to President Obama and the GOP nominee and break the tradition of a Democrat-vs.-Republican lineup.

    The effort could represent a promising new chapter for political moderates, who see a wide-open middle in the political landscape as congressional gridlock and bitter partisan fights have driven down favorability ratings for both parties.

    “Voters are saddened by the inability of people in Washington to deal with the issues that are important to them,” said the group’s chief executive, Kahlil Byrd, a Republican strategist who once worked for Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D).

    I don’t doubt that these people are well intentioned. Their hearts are in the right place; they want what’s best for the country; and I’m glad they’re taking an interest in the election.

    But gimmicks are not going to solve meaningful challenges facing the country.

    Americans Elect wants a split presidential ticket, requiring their nominee to pick a running mate from a different party. It’s not clear why. Parties have different agendas, which is why there are different parties. Why should a president and vice president have different views about government and policy? Because it would apparently make Americans Elect feel better.

    How would Americans Elect go about putting together a platform? They don’t know. It’d apparently be “moderate,” which has come to mean “we agree with Democrats but don’t want to say so.”

    If they were successful, how would Americans Elect overcome Republican radicalism? Or the filibuster rules? They don’t know this, either.

    The folks behind efforts like these have a terrific opportunity to make a real difference. They could evaluate the two parties, determine which of the two are offering compelling solutions to the problems they care about, and then provide the kind of support their allies need to win and advance their agenda.

    An online reality-show campaign may sound very nice in a boardroom, but it’s a waste of time, energy, and resources that could be put to far better use.

  11. rikyrah says:

    The Road To 270: Team Obama Maps Out Their Victory Plan
    Benjy Sarlin November 25, 2011, 7:30 AM

    President Obama sure looked like a two-term president in November 2008 as he presided over an electoral map more dominant than many thought possible after two ultra-polarized contests in 2000 and 2004. But with a weak economy that shows little signs of serious improvement before election day, things are going to be a whole lot tougher this time around. Will his wide playing field from 2008 hold up again four years later?

    The good news for Obama is that even though he’s heading for a tough fight, few of his 2008 swing states have moved off the board entirely. Indiana, a narrow and surprising blue state that year, is likely unwinnable. But other states that moved into the Democratic column for the first time in decades — namely and Virginia and North Carolina — are still looking like competitive races.

    In 2010, however, Democrats were destroyed in large part because the electorate that showed up was older, whiter, more conservative, and less-educated. With Obama on the ticket, turnout is likely to be much higher among Democratic base voters than in the midterms, but losing the white vote big is still a major concern. The biggest danger might be Republican gains in states that Democrats had begun to treat as more durable holds, especially in the Rust Belt. Pennsylvania, which Democrats won twice against President Bush, is a particular problem. A sagging approval rating among less educated white voters creates potential problems with additional states, including Wisconsin and Michigan. Smaller state that are wavering: New Hampshire, where Romney’s close ties would give the GOP an added boost as well should he secure the nomination, and Iowa, where Republicans are currently getting intense local media coverage for their primary.

    But the demographic trends that buoyed Obama in 2008 — namely, a growing base of Hispanic voters, and an influx of educated professionals into the South — have only gotten stronger. At the liberal Center for American Progress, Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin recently put out a detailed study analyzing Obama’s strengths among the three most distinct major voting groups: minorities, college-educated whites, and whites with lower levels of education. Obama’s strength in the last presidential election was his ability to rack up huge margins and turnout with the first group, split the vote with the second, and keep the third from becoming a total wipeout. And because the share of the electorate in 2012 is likely to include more minority voters and more college educated voters, he has more leeway to underperform with white voters and still win re-election.

    “On the national level, given solid, but not exceptional, performance among minority voters, Obama’s re-election depends on either holding his 2008 white college-graduate support, in which case he can survive a landslide defeat of 2010 proportions among white working-class voters, or holding his slippage among both groups to around 2004 levels, in which case he can still squeak out a victory,” they conclude. “Conversely, if Republicans can cut significantly into Obama’s white college-graduate support and then replicate the landslide margins they achieved among white working-class voters in 2010, then they are likely to emerge victorious.”

    Looking at this in this in terms of states, it means Democrats might be able to offset the loss of a state like Ohio that’s more dependent on the white working class vote by winning big out West, where the growing Hispanic population plays in their favor. Colorado looks to be a crucial player once again and Democrats are eyeing Arizona, which went for native son John McCain in 2008, as a potential pickup thanks to a backlash over its anti-immigration crackdown. And in Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, the Obama campaign thinks a less significant but growing Hispanic population will give them a boost as well. But even in the Rust Belt, Democrats get a demographic bump: the CAP study shows a higher concentration of college educated whites in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin versus 2008. If Obama can keep these voters from abandoning him, he can survive some erosion elsewhere.

    It’s also possible that Obama’s polling strength is slightly depressed right now. With the election a year out, he’s been largely judged in a vacuum against either an ideal version of himself or against a “generic” Republican in voters’ minds up to this point. But as Romney looks more and more like a general election nominee, voters seem to be warming to Obama a bit. His approval ratings are slowly ticking back up from their summer lows and there are signs his more populist message is gaining traction. A recent poll of swing states by Purple Strategies showed Obama improving his position into a tie with Romney, even as he still faces dangerously low approval ratings.

    But the various swing states this year don’t exist in a vacuum. While at the margins, Obama’s built-in demographic advantages might eke out enough wins in some hotly contested swing states to survive losing several other key states, they’re still likely to break together as a group with the national trends. Just as John McCain lost nearly every swing state in 2008 as Obama racked up 53% of the vote, Obama is going to have a tough time holding any contested states if his approval rating is anemic come November.

    “He’s not going to run the same in most states but surge or drop dramatically in a handful of battleground states,” political scientist Jonathan Berenstein wrote in a recent blog post. “It doesn’t work like that.”

  12. rikyrah says:

    November 25, 2011 2:35 PM
    Brownback’s thin skin

    By Steve Benen

    When a governor and his staff has been reduced to complaining about random tweets from teenagers, it’s time for them to reevaluate their priorities. (thanks to several alert readers for the heads-up)

    A Kansas teenager is in trouble after mocking Gov. Sam Brownback during a mock legislative assembly for high school students.

    Emma Sullivan, a senior at Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, was in Topeka on Monday as part of Kansas Youth in Government, a program for students interested in politics and government.

    During the session, in which Brownback addressed the group, Sullivan posted on her personal Twitter page: “Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot”

    Now, a teenaged student is, of course, allowed to tell a governor he “sucks.” She’s also allowed to tell others that she told the governor he “sucks.”

    But Brownback has his staff monitoring social media, and was so offended by the random tweet that the governor’s office contacted event organizers about it. The teenager was then told by her principal that she would have to write letters of apology to Brownback, the school’s Youth in Government sponsor, the district’s social studies coordinator and others.

    Keep in mind, we’re talking about a high-school student with just 60 followers on Twitter. It’s a personal account, unaffiliated with the school or school programs, and didn’t even use the student’s full name. The tweet was written among other messages about “Twilight” and Justin Bieber’s holiday album.

    Why on earth would a governor’s office care?

    If the student had said something threatening, sure, take it seriously. If she’d raised the prospect of violence, it makes sense to take it seriously.

    But this makes it sound as if Brownback and his team have such thin skins, that they take random, largely-unseen, mildly-snarky tweets from teenagers as worth their time. That’s just sad.

  13. rikyrah says:

    Capitol Report: The recall Scott Walker effort, to date, has been anything but dull

    JESSICA VANEGEREN | The Capital Times | | @JVanEgeren | Posted: Thursday, November 24, 2011 6:30 am

    It has been just over a week since efforts officially began to recall Gov. Scott Walker on Nov. 15.

    Since then, 105,000 of the 540,208 signatures needed to trigger a recall election have reportedly been collected, Republicans have set up a website for people to report “foul play or suspicious behavior” and a progressive advocacy group has created a $10,000 fraud fund.

    Throw in the Madison police investigation into a man ripping up a recall petition on Midvale Boulevard on Madison’s west side last week, a Facebook page where anonymous posters boast of ripping up thousands more petitions and complaints about covering up a veterans park sign with a recall sign in DeForest, and the effort to oust the governor is proving to be a divisive, highly charged political endeavor, to say the least.

    “I had no idea it would be like this,” says Gary Nelson, a Madison resident who was collecting signatures on Monroe Street Wednesday afternoon. (Similar volunteers, by the way, will be posted Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. off East Washington Avenue near Reindahl Park on Madison’s east side; and beginning at 10 a.m. near West Towne Mall and beginning at 8 a.m. on University Avenue near the Hilldale Shopping Center, according to recall drive organizers.)

    Nelson, a retired public school teacher, says during the four times he has volunteered for the effort, he has witnessed numerous “intimidation” tactics by Walker supporters. He says people drive by and shout obscenities and that the driver of a pickup truck nearly hit a volunteer on Monona Drive when he pulled up to argue with volunteers.

    “We’ve heard some of this feedback and there have been isolated incidents,” says Meagan Mahaffey, executive director of the grass roots organization United Wisconsin, which is spearheading the recall effort. “But we certainly don’t want that kind of negative back and forth, no matter what side you are on.”

    And despite the fact that the progressive group One Wisconsin Now created the $10,000 fraud fund, executive director Scot Ross says he believes the incidents are limited.

    “If people want to sign and circulate petitions, I think they can do so, knowing their voices will be heard,” Ross says. His group has also compiled a list of “petitioner’s rights” that is intended to combat misinformation and let people know the law related to signing and circulating recall petitions.

    Ben Sparks, spokesman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, says a number of incidents have been reported to its “Recall Integrity Center” website, which went live Monday. He did not provide an exact number.

    At least locally, the only incident that’s been mentioned so far that sounds like it might result in charges is the petition-ripping incident on Midvale Boulevard last week. Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said Wednesday that his office had not yet received anything from the Madison Police Department about the incident, but he reiterated that damaging a petition is a class I felony, punishable by a $10,000 fine, up to three-and-a-half years in prison or both.

    As for the rest of the information floating around online, Ozanne stressed that “just because someone is putting something on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s true.”

    “We would need corroborating evidence that the action (described on the website) is occurring,” Ozanne says. “If you know these actions are occurring, you need to report them to law enforcement in the jurisdiction in which they have occurred.”

  14. rikyrah says:

    AT&T Travails Show U.S. Stance on Deals
    By Todd Shields and Sara Forden
    November 25, 2011 12:01 AM EST

    The FCC’s move against AT&T Inc. (T)’s $39 billion purchase of a smaller rival may signal tougher opposition to corporate mergers by the Obama administration.

    AT&T withdrew its application yesterday from the Federal Communications Commission after agency Chairman Julius Genachowski on Nov. 22 asked fellow commissioners to send the proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA Inc. to a hearing, signaling an attempt to block the deal. The Justice Department already has sued to block the deal as anticompetitive, with a U.S. district court trial set to commence in February.

    The twin actions on the merger follow the Justice Department’s success in preventing H&R Block Inc. from a deal that would have combined the second- and third-largest providers of tax preparation software. The AT&T transaction would combine the second- and fourth-largest U.S. wireless companies.

    “The Obama administration has gotten much more aggressive in antitrust than the Bush administration was,” Jeffrey Jacobovitz, an antitrust litigator with McCarthy, Sweeney & Harkaway PC in Washington, said in an interview. “It’s a new dawn for merger enforcement.”

    Under Republican leadership between 2005 and 2008, U.S. regulators cleared two acquisitions by Dallas-based AT&T, two by Verizon Wireless and Sprint Corp.’s purchase of Nextel Communications Inc., according to a summary prepared by the FCC. Under Obama appointee Genachowski, the FCC has increased its scrutiny of wireless carriers, examining unexpected charges on monthly bills and exclusive contracts with handset makers.

    ‘Public Interest’

    The agencies have different mandates, with the Justice Department checking how deals affect competition and the FCC examining competition as well as other factors under the rubric of “public interest,” such as whether a merger would eliminate jobs or change the quality of phone service.

    In 2010 Genachowski and Christine Varney, then the top antitrust official at the Justice Department, told U.S. senators in a hearing they would seek to work together in merger reviews.

    According to an FCC official who briefed reporters Nov. 22 under ground rules calling for anonymity, agency staff reached a conclusion consistent with the Justice Department’s view: AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile would significantly diminish competition.

    A deal that doesn’t comply with antitrust laws can’t meet the public interest, the official said.

    “There’s been a lot of coordination between the FCC and the DOJ,” Paul Glenchur, a Washington-based analyst with Potomac Research Group, said in an interview. “This deal was always going to be a hard sell to either agency.”

    AT&T said in a statement yesterday it would bring the deal back before the FCC “as soon as practical.” The company remains in litigation with the Justice Department.

    Market Concentration

    FCC officials had expressed concern over concentration in the wireless market before AT&T proposed its merger March 20, and “you had to figure this was a tough fight going in,” Glenchur said.

    For the past two years, the FCC has refrained from calling the market competitive as it released its annual survey of the wireless marketplace. The 2010 report marked the first time since 2002 that the agency had omitted a finding of “increasing” or “effective” competition, a conclusion that Robert Quinn, AT&T senior vice president of federal regulatory, at the time called “a dramatic break from years of solid precedent.”

    The FCC’s move shouldn’t surprise people who have been listening to Genachowski, Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, a Washington-based policy group that opposes the merger, said in an interview.

    “The commission has been saying, even in the absence of this merger, the industry’s been getting overly concentrated,” Sohn said. “They’ve laid the groundwork.”

    ‘A Little Timid’

    The Justice Department lawsuit filed Aug. 31 helped clear the way for the FCC to act, Sohn said.

    “‘I think they were feeling a little timid in the first year or two years’’ of the Obama administration, Sohn said.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Political Animal
    November 25, 2011 8:00 AM
    A weak defense for shameless dishonesty

    By Steve Benen

    Reporters asked Mitt Romney on Wednesday to defend the blatant, shameless dishonesty of his first television ad. Here’s what he came up with.

    “There was no hidden effort on the part of our campaign,” he said. “It was instead to point out that what’s sauce for the goose is now sauce for the gander.”

    As a puzzled look fell over the eyes of a few reporters at a press conference, Mr. Romney added: “This ad points out that guess what? It’s now your turn. The same lines that you used on John McCain are now going to be used on you.”

    The conventional wisdom is that Mitt Romney is an intelligent person. I’m not sure how much more it will take to convince the political world to reevaluate these assumptions.

    The defense is just idiotic. Romney knowingly took words out of context, and changed the meaning of a sentence, for the sole purpose of misleading the public. “Sauce for the gander”? What is that even supposed to mean? If Obama had taken McCain’s comments out of context to deceive voters, this might be slightly less ridiculous. But the president didn’t do this, and that’s apparently not the point Romney is trying to make, anyway.

    Rather, the Republican is effectively trying to say, “Obama criticized the McCain campaign, so we get to make stuff up about Obama.” And when pressed, Romney is entirely comfortable arguing that the basics of a healthy discourse — truths, facts, fairness, honor — are now irrelevant.

    No one should want to be president this badly.

    Yesterday, the New York Daily News said Romney’s defense is evidence he’s “signaling he’s ready for bare-knuckled campaigning.” Nonsense. He’s signaling he’s ready to say or do anything — including deliberately deceive Americans — to further his ambitions. That’s not evidence of “bare-knuckled campaigning”; that’s evidence of a severe character problem.

    The DNC, meanwhile, put together a video response, noting media reactions to Romney’s lie, which struck me as pretty compelling.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Cain’s assertion that he could win over black voters is dismissed by analysts

    By Vanessa Williams, Published: November 24 | Updated: Friday, November 25, 1:05 PM

    Herman Cain’s turn atop the polls in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination captured the attention of journalists and pundits and sparked excitement among grass-roots conservative activists. But is it really possible that he — a black man who overcame poverty in the segregated South to become a wealthy entrepreneur and front-runner in the GOP race — would be the one to bring African American voters back to their original political home?

    Cain seems to think so. In a mailer sent to Iowa voters recently, the candidate says “as a descendent of slaves I can lead the Republican party to victory by garnering a large share of the black vote, something that has not been done since Dwight Eisenhower garnered 41 percent of the black vote in 1956.”

    It is a proposition that was quickly dismissed by political scholars and analysts, including some members of Cain’s party. Although he has done better than any other black Republican presidential candidate in terms of attracting support, few believe Cain could snare a sizable number of black voters in a general election, especially against President Obama.

    “If he’s talking about 41 percent of black voters in the Republican primary, he might be right,” Michael Dawson, an African American political science professor at the University of Chicago, said with a chuckle. But in a general election against President Obama, who got 95 percent of the black vote in 2008 and remains popular among African Americans, Dawson said Cain “would be lucky to get 10 percent” of the black vote.

    Besides being remarkable for its optimistic electoral calculation, Cain’s claim is unusual because he has made no special effort to appeal directly to black voters. If anything, the candidate has offended and outraged some of them with some of his comments and behavior.

    Early on in his campaign, Cain, 65, described his own black experience as “authentic” compared with Obama’s biracial heritage and upbringing in Hawaii and Indonesia. He was roundly condemned by Democrats and liberals for saying black people had been “brainwashed” into sticking with the Democratic Party. He has at times appeared to be dismissive of the notion that racism still exists and has defended white tea party activists, who are among his most ardent backers, against accusations that they are racist.

    Raynard Jackson, a longtime Republican Party activist and consultant who is also African American, was incredulous.

    He questioned whether Cain had African Americans in senior positions on his staff to help develop a strategy to win the black vote.

    “I have never, ever seen him with a black person on the campaign other than that security guy,” Jackson said.

    The security guy, Chris Jones, is no longer with the campaign, Gordon said, because Cain now is protected by the Secret Service. He said campaign manager Mark Block has a black female assistant and that there are African Americans working on the campaign in lower-level positions. “And we’re still growing,” he added.

    Jackson said Cain appears to be following in the path of previous GOP presidential candidates who fail to do the groundwork necessary to woo black voters.

    “Is he going to do the same thing that the party in general does? They will send a white guy into the black community and then wonder why their message doesn’t resonate,” Jackson said.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Republicans Only Like Class Warfare Within One Class

    Republicans declare that the Democrats, OWS and specifically President Obama have pushed class warfare against the wealthiest people in the country. I find it very disturbing that the Republicans and conservatives have no problem creating “in fighting” among one class, the working class, though.

    Time and time again, Republicans have blamed unions for the downfall of America. Union members are thugs, union members are bankrupting our country and businesses. They are the reason corporations leave to China and America no long has a manufacturing base. Union members, for the most part are in the middle class, making somewhere between $50-$70K/year. It is a comfortable lifestyle, but it is still middle to upper middle class. They are sharing in the prosperity of an expanding economy.

    The Republican party also likes to blame the poor. They most recently pointed to people that bought homes they could not afford. They didn’t point to the banks who originated the loan and offered them the loan in the first place. They just point to the person receiving the loan.

    On top of the most recent attacks the GOP also likes to attack the people on food stamps, Medicaid, welfare and those in public housing. They are drain on our budgets, they say, even though they are not. The GOP tells the non-union middle class worker to tear down and fight against union workers and the poor. It’s a race to the bottom. If union wages go down as Republicans want to see happen, that means more profits for the owners and no saving for the consumer. Prices very rarely reflect the reduction in the price of labor. Wall Street will push for higher profits first.

    When the middle class starts to fight for a bigger piece of the economic expansion, well, that is class warfare and is not the American way. You will be called a socialist!

    What is wrong with grabbing a bigger piece of the economic pie? Aren’t the workers entitled to a bigger piece considering they earned it by working harder, longer and smarter or is it just the owners of the corporations who get to reap what others have sown? I understand that conservatives have tried to make “entitled” a dirty word, but when it comes to labor, they are entitled to everything they earned.

    Republicans do not want the wealthy to let the riches rain down on the people. They want in fighting amongst the working class, they want unions to give up wages, rather than build the non union wages up! When 60% of all economic growth and profits from 1979-2007 have gone to the top 1%, it is time for workers to share in the prosperity of this country. Prosperity should be shared, not hoarded.

    But as long as the Republicans continue to distract us by creating in fighting within one class, the wealthy will never have to let it rain. They can just keep it all for themselves.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Not Hiring Until Obama Is Gone Is A Symptom Of Broader GOP Ignorance

    There are occasions that the level of ignorance some people exhibit should cause Americans to be ashamed to live in this country. Republicans have perpetuated a lie that America’s economic malaise is solely the fault of the Obama Administration and their solution is to return to the Bush-Republican policies of deregulation, tax cuts for the wealthy, and allegiance to Wall Street’s financial corporate agenda that sent the economy perilously close to total collapse. One businessman’s ignorance epitomizes why economic pain and suffering caused by Republican policies continues and why it should engender ire in all Americans.

    Last Monday, a photo of a sign posted on a Georgia man’s company trucks went viral on the Internet, and it exemplified ignorance, vindictiveness, and contempt typical of Republican economic policies that many Americans support. The sign read, “New Company Policy: We are not hiring until Obama is gone.” The company owner, Bill Looman, said his message was not political, but representative of his belief that he cannot hire anyone because of the economy; he blames President Obama. In an interview Looman said, “The way the economy’s running, and the way my business has been hampered by the economy, and the policies of the people in power, I felt that it was necessary to voice my opinion, and predict that I wouldn’t be able to do any hiring.” Apparently, Looman subscribes to Republican rhetoric as a matter-of-course and is ignorant of why the economy is stagnate.

    Without going into the stupidity inherent in Republican economic policies and to avoid portraying men like Looman as cognitively deficient conservative sycophants, there are a couple of points to make on why Looman is wrong and why the Obama Administration’s jobs plan would benefit moronic dolts like the Georgia business owner.

    Looman’s business is U.S. Cranes, LLC., and he said, “Can’t afford it. I’ve got people that I want to hire now, but I just can’t afford it. And I don’t foresee that I’ll be able to afford it unless some things change in D.C.” The President’s jobs plan called for a tiny tax increase on millionaires and billionaires to fund infrastructure improvements that Looman would certainly have benefited from, but Republicans blocked job creation because of their policy of not increasing taxes for the richest 1% of Americans. Looman must suffer from amnesia besides being stupid, because the economic scene was created during the Bush years mainly through deregulation of the financial industry as well as the wealthy’s tax cuts. The economic crash of 2007-2008 was well underway before Obama was elected, and the only recovery since then was the Obama stimulus that saved the auto industry and put millions of Americans back to work.

  19. rikyrah says:

    Cain Sat Out Civil Rights Movement
    He became political only when government raised minimum wage, his taxes

    Herman Cain came of age in the heat of the civil rights movement, but unlike many of his politically conscious peers at the predominantly black Morehouse College, he largely ignored it. “I wasn’t determined to make social change,” Cain tells the Wall Street Journal. “I wanted to earn some change … I wanted to make some money.” Cain says he was “totally apolitical” throughout his youth, focused entirely on making money, and improving his station.

    When asked what did get him into politics, Cain gave a confusing answer: He said that at 16 he discovered that he’d need to earn $10,000 a year to get an American Express card, “and I remember thinking to myself, ‘One day, I want to make $20,000 a year.” Later he explained his actual political awakening: He says he was angered by a minimum wage hike in 1988, which would harm Godfather’s Pizza, and by a 1994 tax increase that hit his bracket. “It was just a sneak-a-tax. It only affected people of a certain category,” he says. “That’s why I became a conservative.”

  20. rikyrah says:

    h/t iris boyd @ tpv:


    While some of us complain about our meal…
    Others are just happy to be eating.

    While some of us are frustrated with our careers…
    Others are just happy to be working.

    While some of us complain about household chores…
    Others know they are lucky to have a home.

    While some of us get frustrated with our kids…
    Others are just grateful to see them at all.

    While some of us complain about seeing the doctor…
    Others are just grateful to have care.

    While some of us are jealous of our friends…
    Others know luck comes in many forms.

    While some of us feel lonely…
    Others appreciate the people who are already there.

    While some of us complain about the weather…
    Others are just grateful to see another day.

    While some of us are annoyed at the cost of things…
    Others know the most joy often comes from things that are free.

    While some of feel like failures…
    Others know life takes ups and downs.

    While some of us feel trapped…
    Others are just happy to be free.

    • US First Lady Michelle Obama (2nd L) speaks with youngest daughter Sasha (L) and tree-growers Tom and Sue Schroeder while eldest daughter Malia (R) plays with dog Bo as they receive the White House Christmas tree at the White House in Washington on November 25, 2011.

  21. U.S. President Barack Obama’s daughter Malia walks with family dog Bo to receive the 2011 White House Christmas Tree at the White House in Washington, November 25, 2011.

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