Saturday Open Thread

Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), better known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. Ray was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm & blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records.[1][2][3] He also helped racially integrate country and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, most notably with his Modern Sounds albums.[4][5][6] While with ABC, Charles became one of the first African-American musicians to be given artistic control by a mainstream record company.[

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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47 Responses to Saturday Open Thread

  1. glomad67:

    It’s amazing to me that not one network station on TV is showing the last convoy of US Troops withdrawing from a nine year war. Not one.

  2. Guys, I just had to share with you the astounding ignorance from folks at “Real Clear Politics”. The ignoramus is enough to drop your IQ 10 fking points just from reading it and allowing your brain to try and absorb what you just read. It’s fucking numbing! Arrrrrrrrrgh….


    I just wonder why she (Michelle Obama) can never travel with her husband.

    Is this a fake marriage?

    He is never home except for parties and pictures…and it has been that way for well over the last five years.

    The Obama’s love to trash the Palin’s but I have noted a difference in the two couples:

    Sarah and Todd are usually together in their travels.

    Obama and Michelle are almost never together.

    I think we can start a graph and measure the time the Obama’s have spent together in the past 5 years.


    Wait a minute…there is more…

    It has become apparent that either Michelle does not want to travel with Barack, or Barack does not want to travel with Michelle.

    As to the President visiting family in Hawaii, on his annual vacation…the President does not have any family in Hawaii.

    The mother and grandparents died years ago. If we find out that a miracle has happened and his grandmother didn’t die the day before he was President…

    then they should shout it from the roof tops, that after all of these years his grandmother is still alive.

    He goes to Hawaii, because he likes to go to Hawaii.

  3. Ed Henry:

    Big update: Senior House GOP aide tells me most Repubs are opposed to Senate payroll bill, will demand the legislation be amended.

  4. rikyrah says:

    My Son’s Called African and I’m Upset; Why?
    A child’s taunt reminds one parent how difficult it is to teach your kids about race.
    By: Claudine Gay | Posted: December 16, 2011 at 12:40 AM

    The other day, when I was bringing my son to preschool, a classmate greeted him at the door by shouting, “You’re African! You’re from Africa!” My son and I were knocked back for a moment, but he quickly recovered (as only a 5-year-old could), once his teacher motioned for him to help with an art project. I, on the other hand, bumbled my way through a retort to the effect of “We’re not from Africa; we’re from America,” and briefly considered whether to mention our 200 years of family history in Haiti and Greece.

    For the record, my son was born in Boston and raised across the river in Cambridge, Mass., where he lives with my husband and me. He has never been to Africa, though he can identify the continent on a map. He does, however, have brown skin, as do I. It is also relevant to the story that the classmate who greeted him has a history of taunting her peers, including my son, for just about anything. Apparently, my son’s brown skin was yet another opportunity for teasing.

    When I discussed the incident with his teacher, she seemed skeptical that the comment was racial and, as such, distinct from any of the other taunts or rude behavior that are routinely addressed with trips to the “peace corner” and more playdates. True, there was no explicit reference to my son’s race or even to his skin color. True, also, that there is nothing pejorative about being from Africa.

    Setting aside for the moment the mocking tone in which the greeting was delivered, what is so troubling about being called African? Perhaps what needs to be interrogated is my reaction, not the comment itself.

    But here is where context matters. It is not simply that my son is not from Africa but that he is a visibly black boy in an overwhelmingly white school environment. He and his classmates are alert to his color difference, even if most attribute no social significance to it.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Obama Puts America’s Warmongers Back In Their Place By Ending The Iraq War

    For most countries in the world, ending a war and bringing home brave men and women of the military is a cause for celebration. The end of the Iraq war is welcomed by most Americans because of the cost in lives and resources that should never have occurred in the first place and went on far too long. There are some Americans though, who lament the end of killing and maiming Iraqis and Americans alike, and if they had their way, America’s military would stay in Iraq for eternity regardless the cost and drain on the economy. It is not worth spending time regurgitating why the war was unnecessary or the travesty that Bush-Republicans borrowed trillions to kill innocent Muslims, because it has been discussed at length for the past 8-and-a-half years. Instead, Americans should be joyous that our brave soldiers are coming home and America is involved in one less war. However, not all Americans are pleased the Iraq war is over and as usual, it is Republicans who are disappointed that our soldiers are out of harm’s way and the needless, protracted war is finally over.

    The end of American troop presence in Iraq is attributable to a “free and democratic” Iraq and an agreement between the Bush administration and the Iraqi government. In the ever-changing reason for invading Iraq, the final determination by the Bush warmongers was that Americans were dying in Iraq to install a democracy where the Iraqi people decided for themselves the fate of their country. Their decision was that, on the predetermined date, American troops had to leave Iraq. Republicans fail to recognize that a democratic president does not renege on an agreement like Republicans and instead, followed the timeline for withdrawal as per negotiations between the Bush administration and Iraq’s democratically elected leaders. In effect, Iraq’s leaders kicked America out of their sovereign nation and Republicans want to stay and kill more Muslims.

    The American people have expressed their desire to end America’s involvement in Iraq for years, and yet, two Republicans in particular felt the need to criticize President Obama for following the will of the people, keep his campaign promise, and fulfill the agreement with Iraq’s government. It will come as little surprise that one of the most vocal critics of the end of the war is John McCain. McCain, a failed pilot and warmonger assailed President Obama for not re-conquering Iraq and making it a satellite state in the region by ignoring Iraq’s leadership and Bush’s agreement to withdraw all troops. McCain felt America’s military should maintain a presence in Iraq for a hundred years. McCain said, “It is clear that this decision of a complete pullout of United States troops from Iraq was dictated by politics, and not our national security interests. I believe history will judge this president’s leadership with the scorn and disdain it deserves.” No, history will judge this president as following the will of the American people, Bush’s agreement with Iraq’s government, and his belief that a sovereign democratic nation has the right to dictate that a foreign invading army leaves their country. McCain was not alone in criticizing President Obama for honoring Bush’s agreement with Iraq.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Saturday, December 17, 2011
    The Truth Shall Cost You Votes
    Posted by Zandar
    Ron Paul may be absolutely correct when he told Jay Leno last night that Michele Bachmann “hates Muslims” but let’s be honest here: hating Muslims is a requirement for winning the GOP primaries. That revelation won’t hurt Bachmann one iota.

    When asked by host Jay Leno what he thought of his rivals, Paul shook his head, slowed his voice and said, “she doesn’t like Muslims, she hates them, she wants to go get ‘em” — in reference to the comments Bachmann has made on the campaign trail over her willingness to attack Iran over its suspected nuclear program.

    The comment was especially surprising for Paul, who up until now has shied away from personal attacks.

    The comment even left the audience and host Jay Leno momentarily stunned.

    That’s some funny stuff right there, especially coming from Ron Paul, Avowed Racist. Perhaps that’s why he’s stayed away from the personal stuff until this week, but he’s in striking distance in Iowa and he knows it. He needs to shave off every point he can from the also-rans. And really, what are the other Republicans going to do? Deny hating Muslims? Accuse Paul of being a racist? I’d like to see that happen.

    I’m betting however that Paul pointing out this “unfortunate” fact about Bachmann is going to hurt him. Racists don’t like being reminded they are racists.

  7. Revenge of the Clintonites: Black Democrats cling to their ‘first black president’

    It seems not a month goes by without a politician or media figure from the Bill Clinton era hitting President Barack Obama for not being enough like the 42nd president. The latest: former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder says Clinton may have been the first black president after all.

    Wilder writes in Politico that at first, he was not in agreement with author Toni Morrison’s declaration that Clinton was “the first black president,” and “Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime.” He goes on to say:

    All of a sudden, during both Morrison’s and my lifetime — not just our children’s — America elected a black president, in a spirit of hope and optimism painted in votes from all hues across the human rainbow.

    Yet here we sit, more than three years after Obama’s win, and too many people are pulling me aside in private to ask why his standing in the African-American community has softened since his Inauguration. They also question whether the reduced excitement among young and new voters — with that lack of enthusiasm from African-Americans — might hinder Obama’s 2012 campaign.

    This has forced me to think back to Morrison’s comment.

    Obama was elected in a flourish of promise that many in the African-American community believed would help not only to symbolize African-American progress since the Civil War and Civil Rights Acts but that his presidency would result in doors opening in the halls of power as had never been seen before by black America.

    Has that happened? I am forced to say, “No” — especially when comparing Morrison’s metaphorical first black president to the actual first black president.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 03:25 PM ET, 12/16/2011
    Inside the Dem game plan to paint Romney as predatory capitalist
    By Greg Sargent
    One of the most consequential questions for the 2012 presidential campaign may be this: Who will succeed in defining Mitt Romney’s years at Bain Capital in the public mind?

    I just chatted with Paul Begala, an adviser to the pro-Obama group Priorities USA, and he previewed how Dems will use the issue to paint Romney as a symbol of the predatory, unfettered capitalism that landed us in our economic crisis — and is now the target of rising public anger at Wall Street. He explained how Dems will push back on Romney’s efforts to define the Bain years on his own terms.

    As Mike Allen noted this morning , the most important moment at last night’s debate was Romney’s extensive defense of his Bain tenure.
    The transcript’s in the link, but Romney acknowledged that not all the businesses Bain restructured ended up succeeding; that this has left him with a “real world” sense of what makes private sector companies succeed and fail; and that at bottom, his motives were similar to what drove Obama to try to save the auto industry.

    In other words, Romney will turn the layoffs that happened under Bain into a positive: Proof that he understands how private companies tick and that he will bring a businessman’s fresh eye to the economy and job creation. If voters who are tempted to give up on government’s ability to create jobs conclude that Romney is someone who can tinker around under the hood of the economy and get it humming again, it could be very dangerous for Dems.

    Begala suggested a Dem response that goes directly to the heart of voters’ perceptions of what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable capitalist conduct — one that places a heavy emphasis on Romney’s self interest and on how he earned his enormous fortune.

    “Obama can say, `I didn’t load all these companies up with debt, bankrupt them, lay off all their workers, and pay myself millions of dollars in the process,’” Begala said, referring to the contrast with Obama’s bailout of auto companies. “That’s where his storyline collapses. It doesn’t sit right to see companies go bankrupt and go through layoffs, and watch the layoff artist walk away with millions of dollars.”

    Begala added that Dems would use this attack line to tell a larger story about Romney — and contrast it with Obama.

    “The Bain years are central to Romney’s narrative,” he said. “If you think about the arc of his life, on a personal level, he seems to be an exemplary man. He was born with every advantage of wealth, power, and privilege. But he used all of those talents to enrich himself and his wealthy friends — and to screw the middle class. That feeds into his policy agenda.”

    Begala contrasted that with “the contrary arc of Obama’s life.” He said ”Obama, too, went to the best schools. But he grew up poor, with a single mother. He graduated with the same platinum diploma.” Obama went into public service, while Romney “profited off the misery of others.”

    “I dont think he can avoid the downside scrutiny,” Begala concluded. “This is not something he can buy a derivative to hedge against.”

    We’ll see if it works. The state of the economy in November 2012 — and the voters’ conclusion about the efficacy of Obama’s policies in fixing it — may still trump all.

  9. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 01:29 PM ET, 12/16/2011
    ‘Both sides’ to blame for gridlock? Public doesn’t agree.
    By Greg Sargent

    Yesterday’s big Pew poll found that in various ways, the public is heaping more blame for the government paralysis in Washington on Republicans than on Democrats. Timothy Noah makes an important point about this:

    The really interesting finding is that the public does not accept the “objective” message spoon-fed by the press that both sides are equally at fault. Instead, it (accurately) assigns most of the blame to the Republican party. Forty percent say Republican leaders are more to blame, as against a mere 23 percent who say Democratic leaders are more to blame. A larger proportion blames the GOP than blame both parties (32 percent). And among independents, 38 percent say Republicans are more to blame, against 15 percent who say Democrats are.

    So much for the hack story line that partisanship and political games-playing is paralyzing Washington. Partisanship and political games-playing by Republicans is paralyzing Washington.

    I continue to insist that the really perverse thing about this is that it very well may not matter that the public has figured this out — that Republicans may benefit politically from blocking policies that the public supports. The danger is that voters will conclude that Obama’s failure to get his policies passed in spite of determined and political GOP opposition shows he’s too weak or ineffective to fix the economy. I’ve already documented cases here and here of voters who are tempted to think this way.

    This dynamic, too, is the result of an epic media fail. Specifically, many news outlets don’t seem to want to convey clearly to readers that Republicans are employing an unprecedented amount of filibustering as an across the board political strategy. News consumers aren’t being told clearly that Republicans have effectively turned the Senate into a non-majority-rule chamber on, well, everything, or that there’s pretty clear evidence at this point (see McConnell, Mitch) that they’ve deliberately adopted this strategy of obstructionism to damage Obama politically. And so voters who aren’t schooled in the niceties of Senate procedure may be concluding that Republicans are more to blame for the gridlock, but they may chalk it up to politics as usual and blame Obama for failing to break through it.

    It’s nice to see that voters aren’t buying the false equivalences and the fake “both sides do it” even-handedness that the press feeds them daily, but it remains to be seen whether it will matter.

  10. rikyrah says:

    December 16, 2011
    Referendum, or a choice

    From the latest Associated Press-GfK poll, here’s an interesting comparison of independent voters in the matter of whether the upcoming presidential election is presented as a referendum, or a choice:

    Obama’s overall job approval stands at a new low, with 44 percent approving and 54 percent disapproving. The president’s standing among independents is worse: Thirty-eight percent approve while 59 percent disapprove….

    [Yet] Obama receives 45 percent of unaligned adults compared with 41 percent for Romney. Against Gingrich, Obama holds a wide lead among independents, with 54 percent supporting the president and 31 percent backing the former Georgia congressman.

    The principal problem looming for Republicans is that they must, no matter how fearfully they resist, nominate one of their own, thereby forcing a choice.

  11. rikyrah says:

    December 17, 2011
    Newt Gingrich: a GOP Ho Chi Minh

    In one of the more apt analogies yet made in this comedy-drama year of Guess Who’s Becoming the Winner, Politico’s Glenn Thrush intriguingly evokes the martial image of Mitt Romney as an Axis power and Newt Gingrich as the Viet Cong:

    [I]f Romney is a conventional enemy, Gingrich poses an asymmetrical threat [to President Obama]: He’s simply a more dangerous, talented and unpredictable political actor than Romney.

    It’s true, as Thrush readily points out, that the White House nonetheless prefers Gingrich at the top of the enemy’s ticket. As his party’s nominee, the former speaker possesses every undesirable trait in the GOP Establishment’s mind and virtually every desirable trait in David Axelrod’s mind. Yet there is something about the imagery of the Romney war machine as a lumbering giant of fixed fortifications and indefensible lines, and of the Gingrich insurgency as a black-pajama-clad peasant of booby traps and rat holes, that gives one pause.

    Or we can jump to another metaphor: chess. I recall Bobby Fischer once saying that he had played a game against Bob Hope — that Bob Hope, the comedian Bob Hope — and found it particularly rough going. While Fischer was thinking 10 masterful moves ahead, as he would against any conventional professional, Hope was darting around the board in unsophisticated whimsy, which invariably made mincemeat of Fischer’s best-laid plans. Fischer of course won, but his was an unexpectedly ugly victory.

    A final caveat. Don’t anticipate that all those horrified, furious Establishment voices would dig in and continue to withhold logistical support from Newt Gingrich in the general campaign. Most, I’d wager, would find a way to reverse course — “Oh heavens, that? Oh that was just good-natured primary battling” — and unleash a reasonably unified, pro-Gingrich barrage against Obama.

  12. rikyrah says:

    December 17, 2011 11:25 AM
    The rationale behind ‘bald-faced lies’
    By Steve Benen

    Mitt Romney appeared on Fox News last night and boasted, “Our campaign hasn’t put up negative ads at this stage.” I know that’s not true. I’ve seen the ads.

    Likewise, Romney said on Thursday night, “This is a president who fundamentally believes that the next century is the post-American century. Perhaps it will be the Chinese century. He is wrong.” I know that’s not true, either. Kevin Drum noted in response, “Seriously, where does he get this stuff? It’s just made up out of thin air. Obama’s never said this or anything even close to it.”

    With these routine falsehoods in mind, I noticed Daniel Larison had a piece the other day with a headline that read, “Why Does Romney Lie?” The amusing thing about this, at least in a sardonic sort of way, is that I wondered to myself what prompted the headline and about a half-dozen examples from the last week or so quickly came to mind. (In this instance, it was an Andrew Sullivan item about Romney telling easily-disproven claims about his years in France as a Mormon missionary.)

    Regardless, Larison posits a theory.

    Why does Romney ever tell bald-faced lies? After all, this is a man who has made the “non-existent tour” the rhetorical centerpiece of his presidential campaign. For some reason, he even managed to say something untrue about his real first name during the national security debate last month.

    It’s tempting to say that he has reinvented himself so thoroughly that he can no longer remember what is true and what isn’t, and he has absorbed and appropriated so many new positions over the years that it all gets jumbled together and re-mixed according to whatever the political need of the moment happens to be. It’s easy to lose track after the fourth or fifth incarnation. More likely, he is so contemptuous of the people he tells these lies to that he never thinks he will be found out.

    I suspect Larison and I agree on almost nothing when it comes to public policy or visions of government, but on the issue of Romney’s discomforting hostility for the truth, we’re on the same page. I’ve found myself repeatedly wondering in recent months why Romney lies as often, and as carelessly, as he does, without the slightest regard for how easy it is to prove which of his claims aren’t true.

    Indeed, as we talked about the other day, Romney and his team have demonstrated a willingness to lie — blatantly and shamelessly — with discomforting ease. We’ve seen this in offensive campaign ads, routine talking points, policy arguments, and even personal anecdotes and characteristics.

    And when pressed, Romney and his aides have freely admitted, more than once, that niceties such as facts, evidence, and reason just aren’t that important to them. Dishonest “propaganda” should simply be expected and accepted, they’ve said.

    I’ve been watching national campaigns for quite a while, and I can’t think of any comparable major-party campaigns acting this way, especially this far from the election.

    Given all of this, I thought I’d offer Larison’s question as a discussion topic: Why does Romney tell “bald-faced lies”?

  13. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    December 17, 2011 10:55 AM
    Gingrich’s support for ‘must-carry’
    By Steve Benen

    The New York Times pointed yesterday to Newt Gingrich’s previous support for an individual health care mandate, but this time, uncovered a tidbit we hadn’t seen or heard before.

    More broadly, he has indicated his agreement with the most controversial aspect of President Obama’s heath care plan, the requirement that every American buy health insurance. Although he now says he is opposed to the so-called individual mandate, in a May 2009 conference call — previously unreported — he told health care executives, “We believe there should be must-carry; that is, everybody should have health insurance, or if you’re an absolute libertarian, we would allow you to post a bond.”

    In 2011, this is apparently controversial, since Gingrich is now a leading Republican presidential candidate who claims to oppose the individual mandate.

    But I sure would appreciate it if the political world stopped pretending this is controversial.

    In the summer of 2009, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), one of the leading Republican lawmakers in the talks over health care reform, told Fox News, “I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have an individual mandate.” Did Fox News freak out? Did GOP leaders immediately distance themselves from the comments? Was Grassley forced to immediately backpedal? No, none of those things happened. Grassley said there was a bipartisan consensus to have an individual mandate because there was a bipartisan consensus to have an individual mandate.

    And this came a month after Gingrich’s behind-the-scenes chat with health care executives that we’re just hearing about now.

    The point is, Gingrich’s previous support for the policy isn’t at all surprising. What would have been odd is if Gingrich didn’t endorse the individual mandate.

    For those who’ve forgotten, this was a Republican idea in the first place. Nixon embraced it in the 1970s, and George H.W. Bush supported the idea in the 1980s. When Dole endorsed the mandate in 1994, it was in keeping with the party’s prevailing attitudes at the time. Mitt Romney embraced the mandate as governor and it was largely ignored during the 2008 campaign, since it was in keeping with the GOP mainstream.

    In recent years, the mandate has also been embraced by the likes of John McCain, Orrin Hatch, Bob Bennett, Tommy Thompson, Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, John Thune, Scott Brown, and Judd Gregg, among many others. Indeed, several of them not only endorsed the policy, they literally co-sponsored legislation that included a mandate.

    Newt Gingrich privately touted the same idea? Well, sure, of course he did.

  14. rikyrah says:

    December 17, 2011 10:20 AM
    ‘I have not wavered and will not waver’
    By Steve Benen

    It wasn’t one of the highest-profile events of the week, but President Obama spoke in Maryland yesterday at the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism. Reader F.B. encouraged me to take a look, so I watched it, and anyone questioning the president’s commitment to Israel should take the time to do the same.

    The transcript is online. This portion seemed especially relevant, given recent Republican attacks against the administration:

    “And as Ehud has said, it is hard to remember a time when the United States has given stronger support to Israel on its security. In fact, I am proud to say that no U.S. administration has done more in support of Israel’s security than ours. None. Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise. It is a fact.

    “I’m proud that even in these difficult times we’ve fought for and secured the most funding for Israel in history. I’m proud that we helped Israel develop a missile defense system that’s already protecting civilians from rocket attacks

    “Another grave concern — and a threat to the security of Israel, the United States and the world — is Iran’s nuclear program. And that’s why our policy has been absolutely clear: We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And that’s why we’ve worked painstakingly from the moment I took office with allies and partners, and we have imposed the most comprehensive, the hardest-hitting sanctions that the Iranian regime has ever faced. We haven’t just talked about it, we have done it. And we’re going to keep up the pressure. And that’s why, rest assured, we will take no options off the table. We have been clear.

    “We’re going to keep standing with our Israeli friends and allies, just as we’ve been doing when they’ve needed us most. In September, when a mob threatened the Israeli embassy in Cairo, we worked to ensure that the men and women working there were able to get out safely. Last year, when raging fires threatened Haifa, we dispatched fire-fighting planes to help put out the blaze.

    “On my watch, the United States of America has led the way, from Durban to the United Nations, against attempts to use international forums to delegitimize Israel. And we will continue to do so. That’s what friends and allies do for each other. So don’t let anybody else tell a different story. We have been there, and we will continue to be there. Those are the facts.”

    As for the peace process, Obama added, to the applause of the audience, “As president, I have never wavered in pursuit of a just and lasting peace — two states for two peoples; an independent Palestine alongside a secure Jewish State of Israel. I have not wavered and will not waver.”

    On a related note, Ben Smith had a fascinating item the other day noting the frequency with which Ronald Reagan, as president, frequently butted heads with Israeli officials in the 1980s. “If Obama treated Israel like Reagan did, he’d be impeached,” Chemi Shalev said this week.

    Just a little something for Republicans to keep in mind

  15. rikyrah says:

    December 17, 2011 9:50 AM
    Removing right-wing riders
    By Steve Benen

    Late Thursday, policymakers struck an agreement on funding the government through September, averting a government shutdown that would have begun last night. The House easily approved the $1 trillion spending deal yesterday, and the Senate is expected to do the same today.

    But while most of the talk yesterday was focused on the shutdown that didn’t happen, it’s worth pausing to ask whether the deal was any good (or in this climate, just how bad it was).

    Perhaps the most important takeaway from the agreement is what’s not in it. House Republicans pushed for all kinds of “riders,” reflecting a far-right wish list, and as the New York Times noted in an editorial today, Democrats successfully dismissed those measures out of hand.

    [House Republicans] wanted to stop spending on reforms of the financial system and health care, forbid financing on Planned Parenthood and NPR, limit family visits to Cuba and even prevent military chaplains from officiating at legal same-sex marriages. In particular, they wanted to roll back several vital environmental regulations, including limits on particulate matter in the air.

    All of those riders were removed by Democrats in the final bill. As appropriators from both parties noted in negotiations, there was no point in catering to the most conservative House members because they would never vote for the spending bill anyway. And sure enough, 86 Republicans, mostly from the hard right, bucked their leadership and opposed the measure. It “does not offer drastic spending cuts,” explained one of them, Joe Walsh of Illinois.

    I spoke with a Democratic source familiar with the bill last night, who noted some other “wins” from the omnibus spending bill. Republicans had included riders to prohibit funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the reinstatement of anti-family-planning Mexico City Policy, the termination of the Home Affordable Modification Program, a prohibition on the implementation of net neutrality, and the elimination of funding for Title X family planning programs.

    How many of these riders survived in the final spending bill? None.

    The package also advances several key Wall Street reform provisions, preserved AmeriCorps, and allows Race to the Top education standards to continue.

    This isn’t to say the omnibus was ideal; it wasn’t. The overall spending has been reduced from the year prior — which isn’t a good idea in this economy — and there are some misguided ideas, including cuts to low-income heating assistance programs, fewer recipients of Pell Grants, and the District of Columbia can’t use its own money for abortions for poor women.

    But given what far-right congressional Republicans wanted out of this agreement and didn’t get, it’s not a bad omnibus. It would have been infinitely better had Americans not elected the most right-wing House in modern history, but under the circumstances, there’s reason to feel satisfied.

  16. rikyrah says:

    December 17, 2011 8:00 AM
    Senate leaders strike payroll deal
    By Steve Benen

    With only two weeks left before the payroll tax cut expires, Democratic and Republican Senate leaders reached an agreement late yesterday for a temporary extension. It’s a positive development, but there’s quite a bit of work left to do.

    Senate leaders said on Friday night that they had reached a deal that would extend a payroll tax cut for two months — falling far short of the yearlong extension they had been seeking. The agreement would also speed the decision process for the construction of an oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast, a provision necessary to win over Republicans who opposed the tax break.

    A senior administration officials said the deal announced Friday night met the test that President Obama had set out: that Congress would not go home without preventing a tax increase on 160 million Americans.

    However, rank-and-file members of the House said on Friday that they were opposed to a short-term extension. Approval in that chamber, even with the provision on the Keystone XL pipeline, is no sure thing.

    That last point is of particular interest, since rank-and-file House Republicans seem rather eager to let the payroll tax go up next year, and the Senate bill doesn’t include their long list of demands. The Senate will almost certainly approve yesterday’s compromise fairly easily, probably later today, but if the lower chamber balks, there’s a problem. (Keep a close eye on House Democrats, whom Boehner may need to rely on.)

    In the meantime, I’d say this generally isn’t a bad deal. Democrats get the middle-class tax break they wanted and an extension on unemployment insurance benefits, at least for two months. Republicans get the Keystone XL pipeline measure they wanted, but it’s not a green light for the project itself — the provision only calls for an expedited review process. The measure could be signed into law, only to have Keystone XL rejected soon after.

    The prospect of having this same fight again in February is unappealing, but as far as congressional Dems are concerned, it’s not that bad. After all, as Democrats see it, they’re likely to have the upper hand — the debate in February would put Republicans in the awkward position of fighting for a middle-class tax increase in an election year.

    And what about financing? The two-month package, if approved, would cost about $40 billion and be paid for with higher fees on mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    In a year in which we’ve seen plenty of awful deals in which Democrats conceded far too much, this one seems relatively good.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Obama’s inclusion on Georgia ballot challenged

    By Kristina Torres

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Five Georgia men have challenged President Barack Obama’s inclusion on next year’s presidential ballot, with at least some citing an oft-discredited theory that Obama is not eligible for office because the Constitution says that a president must be a “natural born citizen.”

    All the challenges have been made through the Georgia Office of the Secretary of State, which referred them to the state administrative hearings office. Hearings have not yet been set.

    Georgia holds its primary next year on March 6. Obama’s name will appear on the Democratic primary ballot, even though he has no challengers.

    Two of the men filing the challenges, Kevin Powell of Duluth and Carl Swensson of Morrow, are being represented in their efforts by attorney Mark Hatfield, who is also a Republican state lawmaker from Waycross.

    Hatfield failed in an effort earlier this year to pass a law prohibiting any presidential or vice presidential candidate from being included on the ballot without proof of “natural born” citizenship.

    Obama was born in Hawaii to an American mother and Kenyan father.

    Hatfield has said he believes the United States’ founders intended not only for presidents to be born in the U.S. but for their parents to also have been U.S. citizens.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Senators Introduce Legislation to Take On Tricks and Tactics to Keep People from Voting

    Senators Ben Cardin (Md.) and Charles Schumer (N.Y.) have introduced a bill that would impose greater criminal and civil penalties for individuals who attempted to trick voters for political gain.

    The legislation is an effort to crack down on misleading campaign literature like the 2010 Maryland “robocall” incident during the state’s gubernatorial election.

    “Efforts to mislead and confuse eligible voters by distributing false and deceptive voting information and campaign literature is part of what seems to be a larger strategy to keep certain voters away from the polls,” Schumer said in a statement. “This bill will rightly make this shameful practice illegal and will impose strict penalties on those who lie to their fellow Americans through false communications to try to keep them from voting.”

    The bill would prohibit the communication of false statements regarding election and voting information, such as poll location or time, within 90 days of an election. It would also prohibit mischief that interferes with voter registration.

    “All Americans deserve the right to choose a candidate based on relevant issues and the quality of the candidates, not based on underhanded efforts designed to undermine the integrity of our electoral process,” Cardin said.

  19. rikyrah says:

    Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 07:59 AM PST.

    Keystone Cave? No, Keystone Kabuki.
    by RLMiller
    for Climate Hawks.

    The payroll tax cut extension deal, approved by the Senate 89-10 this morning, is being widely reported as including a requirement that the State Department act on the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days. Talking Points Memo labels it a GOP win on Keystone, and Politico reports: Greens call out Keystone XL deal. However, David Dayen at Firedoglake – a site not normally known for reflexive defense of Democrats’ negotiating tactics – sees it differently: Republicans demand to kill the Keystone XL pipeline.

    A careful analysis shows that the in all likelihood the deal will simply allow both sides to generate hot-button quotes come election 2012. At worst, it’s no more than Kabuki theater. At best, it gives President Obama a chance to affirm his commitment to environmental and climate issues, and reject the pipeline completely.

    1. The deal: Congress can require the State Department to make a decision, but can’t tell the State Department what to decide.

    Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) is taking credit for a bill he introduced, S.1932, to be incorporated into the deal. The bill, as currently written, requires the State Department to make a decision on the pipeline within 60 days. The bill does not require the State Department to make any particular decision, yes or no, only that it make a decision within 60 days.

    The State Department has already said that no arbitrary deadlines can be set for its decision:

    “Should Congress impose an arbitrary deadline for the permit decision … the Department would be unable to make a determination to issue a permit for this project,” the Department said in a statement.
    The State Department’s official statement reiterates an “early 2013” timetable.
    Got that? The Senate deal requires the State Department to make a fast decision, and the State Department has already said that its fast decision would be a “no.” Tweets from @dpfeiffer44 emphasize:

    How will the GOP explain to their members that their bill doesnt force the President to approve Keystone, it essentially kills it?

    Lots of incorrect reporting out there today that says the House Payroll bill forces approval of the Keystone pipeline, that is not true

    he House bill simply shortens the review process in a way that virtually guarantees that the pipeline will NOT be approved
    Republicans presumably know all this – the State Department promised on December 12 to say no to an expedited decision on Keystone XL, and the payroll tax deal was made on December 16. So why go through this? Either they have faith in the caveats (discussed below), or they want the ability to score political points with voters more than they want the pipeline itself. In other words, they’re likely playing Kabuki theater, manufacturing an excuse to scream about the “job killing” Obama administration.

    2. The caveats

    First, Obama or the State Department could simply about-face: declare that enough information has been collected and approve the pipeline within 60 days. It wouldn’t be the first time the President has overruled his own agency’s recommendations on an environmental issue.

    For what it’s worth, Ed Henry senses that the White House has already sustained whatever damage it would sustain from rejecting the pipeline, and is poised to turn it down:

    sense i’m getting from WH — & i stress just a sense — POTUS leaning toward BLOCKING Keystone cause insiders think he already took hit

    what i mean: WH thinks POTUS already took hit for allegedly “killing Keystone”/calculation is won’t be big deal to really kill it 60 days
    In other words, the White House may have already made a political calculation that it could safely turn down the pipeline without damaging President Obama’s reelection campaign.

    I’ve looked at a second caveat. The State Department’s original announcement of delay listed the factors it would weigh: “whether the proposed pipeline was in the national interest, considering all of the relevant issues together. Among the relevant issues that would be considered are environmental concerns (including climate change), energy security, economic impacts, and foreign policy.” Section 3 of Senator Lugar’s bill requires the President to either grant the pipeline permit if he determines that it’s in the national interest, or report to Congress why not, including “consideration of economic, employment, energy security, foreign policy, trade, and environmental factors.” That’s not quite the same list – Lugar adds employment and trade, and omits climate. Lugar’s bill might require approval. However, Lugar’s bill isn’t so different from the State Department factors; the employment aspect of Keystone XL is hotly disputed, and trade shouldn’t be a make-or-break point. In short, the language of S.1932 does not create a trap for unwary Democrats.

    3. The advantages for Democrats

    Why should Republicans get all the talking points? Democrats should use this episode to generate some Kabuki theater moments of their own. The GOP has risked a tax hike on millions of Americans just to prove, once again, that the party is owned lock, stock, and barrel by Big Oil. By contrast, President Obama will demonstrate to the world that he rejects dirty tar sands oil when he rejects the pipeline. Far from being a “cave” on the pipeline, the vote gives the President a chance to reject it entirely.,-Keystone-Kabuki?via=siderecent

  20. rikyrah says:

    Don’t ignore tribal cloutThe New Mexican
    Posted: Thursday, December 15, 2011 – 12

    It’s unusual, to say the least, for the All Indian Pueblo Council to endorse a candidate for the presidency so far in advance of the election. But that’s what happened on Thursday, when President Barack Obama’s national campaign manager, Jim Messina, came to Sandia Pueblo to accept the endorsement of all 19 New Mexico pueblos and one pueblo in Texas.

    For the tribal leaders, the issue is trust: They believe that Obama has kept his promises to Indian people. Whether in allocating needed funds, consulting with tribal leaders or helping create jobs in Indian Country, the president has listened and responded to their concerns.

    It’s not unusual, of course, for Indian leaders to endorse a Democrat. Native Americans are one of the most loyal voting blocs for Democratic candidates — what is different is that this endorsement came before Obama even knows who his opponent will be. “With what the president has done already, I don’t feel it’s early,” said Isleta Pueblo Gov. Frank Lujan, one of the tribal leaders attending Thursday’s ceremony. In fact, Lujan said, speakers at the event said they believe it’s the earliest endorsement ever.

    Meanwhile, in New Mexico state District Court, Democrats and Republicans are duking it out over how the state’s legislative districts should be divided up — a decision that will directly affect Indian voters in New Mexico.

    The Republican-backed plan — pushed by Gov. Susana Martinez, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and Secretary of State Dianna Duran — emphasized equalizing the size of voting districts, an important goal of redistricting. However, it also threatens to split Native communities that belong together, including Tesuque Pueblo. Attorneys say a plan from tribes and pueblos in northwestern New Mexico was ignored and that in general, tribes were not asked by the governor what they wanted in redistricting.

    While numbers are important — 29,417 is evidently the ideal population for House districts — federal law and, more importantly, a sense of what is right need to be taken into account when drawing up voting districts. In New Mexico, Indians did not win the right to vote until 1948. Hard won, their voting clout should not be watered down in redistricting.

    Obama, far from the tribes and pueblos of New Mexico, recognizes that even a small voting bloc matters in tight presidential elections. His willingness to consult, to listen — and most of all, to respect — won him an early endorsement from New Mexico’s Pueblo tribes. Before a redistricting plan is drawn up to parcel out those votes, we trust that more listening will occur right here at home.

  21. rikyrah says:

    Obama looks safe in New Mexico

    Barack Obama is considerably less popular in New Mexico now than he was in 2008. He won 57% of the vote there, but now has an approval rating under 50% in the state at 49/46. Those represent the poorest numbers we’ve found for him in New Mexico all year: in February he was at 55% approval and in June it was 50%. Obama is upside down with independents at 47/52 and has a lower than normal 72% approval rating with Democrats.

    The good news for Obama though is that voters in the state aren’t responding positively to any of the Republican hopefuls. Current front runner Newt Gingrich has a 28/62 favorability rating and Mitt Romney’s is 27/58. The most ‘popular’ of the Republicans, such as it is, is Ron Paul at 27/54.

    Paul is also the only one of the Republicans who manages to improve on John McCain’s 2008 peformance in the state. He trails by 13 points at 51-38. He’s the only GOP hopeful who leads Obama with independents, at 46-38, and the 14% of Democrats he gets ties Romney for the highest level of crossover support any of the Republicans receives. Paul as the strongest of the Republican candidates with independents has become more the rule than the exception in our recent polling across the country.

    Romney matches McCain’s 15 point margin of defeat, trailing 53-38. Most of the undecideds are Republicans though so he would probably pull closer if he actually ended up being the nominee. Rounding out the field Gingrich trails 56-39, Michele Bachmann is down 56-36, and Rick Perry has a 56-35 deficit.

  22. rikyrah says:

    Koch Brothers Positioned To Be Big Winners If Keystone XL Pipeline Is Approved
    By David Sassoon at InsideClimate

    Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:03am EST

    Obama’s bitterest political enemies already import and refine 25 percent of oil sands crude reaching the U.S., and stand to profit from an increased flow
    By David Sassoon

    The Keystone XL pipeline, awaiting a thumbs up or down on a presidential permit, would increase the import of heavy oil from Canada’s oil sands to the U.S. by as much as 510,000 barrels a day, if it gets built.

    Proponents tout it as a boon to national security that would reduce America’s dependence on oil from unfriendly regimes. Opponents say it would magnify an environmental nightmare at great cost and provide only the illusion of national benefit.

    What’s been left out of the ferocious debate over the pipeline, however, is the prospect that if president Obama allows a permit for the Keystone XL to be granted, he would be handing a big victory and great financial opportunity to Charles and David Koch, his bitterest political enemies and among the most powerful opponents of his clean economy agenda.

    The two brothers together own virtually all of Koch Industries Inc. — a giant oil conglomerate headquartered in Wichita, Kan., with annual revenues estimated to be $100 billion.

    A SolveClimate News analysis, based on publicly available records, shows that Koch Industries is already responsible for close to 25 percent of the oil sands crude that is imported into the United States, and is well-positioned to benefit from increasing Canadian oil imports.

    A Koch Industries operation in Calgary, Alberta, called Flint Hills Resources Canada LP, supplies about 250,000 barrels of tar sands oil a day to a heavy oil refinery in Minnesota, also owned by the Koch brothers.

    Flint Hills Resources Canada also operates a crude oil terminal in Hardisty, Alberta, the starting point of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

    The company’s website says it is “among Canada’s largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters.” Koch Industries also owns Koch Exploration Canada, L.P., an oil sands-focused exploration company also based in Calgary that acquires, develops and trades petroleum properties.

    Waging War on Obama

    The Koch brothers are not run-of-the-mill political opponents. An investigative report last year by the New Yorker magazine on the secretive and deep-pocketed pair have shown them to be “waging a war against Obama.” They have bankrolled the Tea Party movement, climate change skepticism and right-wing think tanks, such as the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the National Center for Policy Analysis.

    Through Flint Hills Resources LP based in Wichita, Kan., the Koch brothers provided $1 million in 2010 to the failed effort to suspend California’s groundbreaking 2006 global warming law.

    After the 2010 midterm elections, they have become established at the center of GOP power, according to The Los Angeles Times. The paper reported this week that Koch Industries and its employees formed the largest single oil and gas donor to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

  23. rikyrah says:

    Big Oil and Canada thwarted U.S. carbon standards
    When President Barack Obama decided in early November to delay a decision on TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline until after the next election, America’s environmental movement celebrated one of its biggest victories in recent memory. And no doubt the news came as a blow to Alberta’s tar sands industry, and to Canada’s oft-stated dream of becoming the next global energy superpower.

    But behind activists’ jubilation lurked a somber reality, an untold story with much wider implications. The broader fight to reform Alberta’s tar sands, the one which actually stood a chance of breaking America’s addiction to the continent’s most polluting road fuel, has been quietly abandoned over the past several years. For that we can thank the planet’s richest oil companies and their Canadian government allies, who’ve together waged a stealthy war against President Obama’s climate change ambitions.

    Their battle-plan is revealed in more 300 pages of personal emails obtained through a Freedom of Information request to the Alberta government. The story in the emails, reported for the first time here in Salon and The Tyee, Canada’s leading independent online news site, traces a year in the relationship of Michael Whatley, a GOP-connected oil industry lobbyist and his friend, Gary Mar, a smooth-talking and ambitious diplomat at the Canadian embassy in the Washington, DC.

    The messages lay bare a sophisticated and stealthy public relations offensive, one designed to manipulate the U.S. political system; to deluge the media with messages favorable to the tar-sands industry; to sway key legislators at state and federal levels; and most importantly, to defeat any attempt to make the gasoline and diesel pumped everyday into U.S. vehicles less damaging to the climate. The goal of it all? “Defeat” Obama’s effort to reduce carbon consumption and keep America hooked on Canada’s $441 billion tar sands industry, no matter what the cost to our planet’s future.

    That campaign has largely succeeded too, with only a small group of players any the wiser.

    On Pennsylvania Avenue

    Perhaps the best place to start is on December 30, 2009. It was a bad day for Michael Whatley, founding partner at a K-Street consulting firm in Washington called HBW Resources that has close ties to Alberta’s tar sands industry. The reason: 11 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic governors had agreed in writing to consider adopting one of the planet’s most forward-looking climate change policies, something called a low-carbon fuel standard. Whatley thought his friend Mar would be interested. “Please let me know your thoughts,” Whatley emailed him.

    The world’s very first low carbon fuel standard was adopted by California in 2007. It’s a complex climate change policy based on fairly simple logic. If global warming is to ever get solved, it will mean radical changes to the transportation sector, right now the second-biggest source of carbon emissions, after electricity generation, in the U.S. economy. Many of that sector’s emissions are pumped directly out of vehicle exhaust pipes. But the actual industrial process of extracting energy from the ground, and then refining it into road fuel, also releases vast amounts of carbon.

  24. rikyrah says:

    Newt Gingrich Calls Nebraskans ‘Utterly Irrational’ For Delaying Keystone XL
    By Brad Johnson on Dec 16, 2011 at 9:43 am

    At an Iowa debate last night, Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich bashed the decision to extend review of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Spurred by intense, bipartisan opposition in Nebraska to the pipeline’s proposed route over the Ogallala Aquifer, the State Department decided that alternate routes needed to be assessed. After an emergency legislative session called by Republican governor David Heineman, the state of Nebraska has begun its own environmental review. The Canadian tar sands company behind the pipeline, TransCanada, has said it will redirect the pipeline away from the sensitive Sandhills.

    However, Gingrich dismissed the will of the people of Nebraska, attacking President Obama for threatening a veto of the Republican Keystone XL poison pill in the payroll tax cut bill:

    The president of the United States cannot figure out that it is — I’m using mild words here — utterly irrational to say, “I am going to veto a middle-class tax cut to protect left-wing environmental extremists in San Francisco,” so that we’re going to kill American jobs, weaken American energy, make us more vulnerable to the Iranians, and do it in a way that makes no sense to any normal rational American.

    The farmers and ranchers of Nebraska who stood up to the foreign tar sands company TransCanada might not agree that their opposition to unlimited foreign oil greed means they aren’t a “normal rational American.”

    In fact, it’s the decision to rush Keystone XL that Nebraskans think is “utterly irrational.” “We do not even have a new route out of the Sandhills yet, and they want to rush the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Bruce Boettcher, landowner and rancher in the Sandhills, in a statement to ThinkProgress Green. “It makes absolutely no sense.”

    “Not only will this pipeline risk jobs of our farmers and ranchers, it is built as an export pipe sending tarsands to Latin America and Asia. If Newt wants a real education on this issue, we invite him to work just one day on a ranch in the Sandhills,” Nebraska activist Jane Kleeb tells ThinkProgress Green.

  25. Ametia says:

    Doris Kearns Goodwin PBO invites historians to the WH to share ideas on what other POTUS’ have done. Interesting.

  26. Ametia says:

    Watch Live at 12:30 PM EST: President Obama Delivers a Statement
    President Obama will deliver a statement today at 12:30 p.m. EST. Watch live on

  27. Ametia says:

    CNN BREAKING NEWS- President Obama will speak on the vote at 12:30 EDT today.

    The Senate on Saturday voted 67-32 to pass a compromise spending bill to keep the government funded for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends September 30.
    The almost $1 trillion spending plan passed in the House on Friday. The bill now goes to President Obama to sign.
    Earlier Saturday, the Senate voted to extend the payroll tax cut by two months. That measure awaits a House vote.

  28. Ametia says:

    Health Care Law Will Let States Tailor Benefits
    Published: December 16, 2011

    WASHINGTON — In a major surprise on the politically charged new health care law, the Obama administration said Friday that it would not define a single uniform set of “essential health benefits” that must be provided by insurers for tens of millions of Americans. Instead, it will allow each state to specify the benefits within broad categories.

    The move would allow significant variations in benefits from state to state, much like the current differences in state Medicaid programs and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

    By giving states the discretion to specify essential benefits, the Obama administration sought to deflect one of the most powerful arguments made by Republican critics of President Obama’s health care overhaul — that it was imposing a rigid, bureaucrat-controlled health system on Americans and threatening the quality of care. Opponents say that the federal government is forcing a one-size-fits-all standard for health insurance and usurping state authority to regulate the industry.

  29. Shady_Grady says:

    Ah Ray Charles… =)

    • As previous First Ladies have done, our precious First Lady Michelle Obama will travel on a military aircraft. All who don’t like it can kick a pitch fork… the fking bone!

    • Ametia says:

      That kind of question from that hack reporter is the very reason is white priviledged ASS is sitting in front of Press Sec. Carney and not in the White House Oval office.

      Bye, FOOL!

  30. Marine Asks First Lady Michelle Obama to Marine Corps Ball

    While sorting donations at the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign, this afternoon First Lady Michelle Obama received an unusual request.

    Across a pile of race cars, the Associated Press reports Lance Cpl. Aaron Leeks invited Obama to be his date for next year’s Marine Corps Ball.

    The 20-year-old Marine from Maryland told the AP, Obama said “she’d love to go.”

    “Actually she said I’d need to speak to her husband, too, but she said she’d love to,” Leeks said.

    No word yet on whether the request has received the president’s approval. “If the president’s watching this, this might be the first he’s heard of it,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney joked at today’s daily briefing.

    Carney did not know if Mrs. Obama will in fact attend the ball, but said, “I’m sure she was flattered by the invitation.”

    A user with the name “Aaron Leeks” has already changed his profile picture on Facebook to a photograph of himself in uniform with the First Lady, matching the outfits the two wore during the charity event today.

    This is not this year’s first celebrity invitation for a Marine Corps Ball. Co-stars Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake both attended the ball in November.

    [wpvideo OZgksIb2]

    • First Lady Michelle Obama delivers toys and gifts donated by White House staff to the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots campaign at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2011

    • Ametia says:

      How sweet,a 20 year old military man asking FLOTUS for a date. Womder if she’ll show;maybe for a brief moment and a dance? :-)

  31. Good Morning, Ametia, Rikyrah,3 Chics, Friends & Visitors!

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