Monday Open Thread

White Christmas” is an Irving Berlin song reminiscing about an old-fashioned Christmas setting. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the version sung by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time, with estimated sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide.[1][2][3][4]

Accounts vary as to when and where Berlin wrote the song.[4] One story is that he wrote it in 1940, poolside at the Biltmore hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. He often stayed up all night writing — he told his secretary, “Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I’ve ever written — heck, I just wrote the best song that anybody’s ever written!”[5]

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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71 Responses to Monday Open Thread

  1. Luke Russert:

    Pelosi tells me she will NOT appoint Dem conferees if House #GOP votes to go to Conference on payroll taxcut bill.

  2. DNC Vice Chair RT Rybak on MSNBC

  3. rikyrah says:

    Hispanics would not flock to Marco Rubio as a vice presidential pick

    Take it from a Latino voter: The Great Hispanic Hope for the GOP – tea party darling Marco Rubio – is a false hope. Latinos vote issues, not ethnicity, and the junior senator from Florida is out of step on the issues, especially immigration.

    By Raul A. Reyes / November 14, 2011

    I have a confession to make. In my early twenties, I was marginally interested in politics and sometimes found myself in the voting booth with scant grasp of the candidates or issues. I would scan the ballot for a candidate with a Hispanic surname and blindly vote for them. I used to reason to myself that I was supporting “one of us,” someone from the Latino community

    Thankfully, those days are over.

    Not only am I a more informed voter, it is no longer a novelty to see Latino names on a ballot. So I am baffled by the hoopla over Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is being touted as the GOP’s Great Hispanic Hope. Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and top Republican strategists all speak of Senator Rubio as a top contender for vice president.

    These Republicans see Mr. Rubio as their bridge to Latinos, who have deserted the GOP because of its hardline immigration rhetoric. But trust me, a former ethnic voter: Rubio has limited appeal to Hispanics, and a whole lot of baggage.

    An October poll by Latino Decisions found that immigration reform continues to be the top issue among Hispanics. Yet Rubio supports Arizona’s infamous “papers, please” law. He is against the Dream Act, which would allow undocumented youth who were brought here as children to become citizens if they serve in the military or attend college.

    Though Rubio is popular among Cuban-Americans, they constitute only 3.5 percent of Hispanics. His conservative immigration positions will be a hard sell among Mexican-Americans, by far the country’s largest Hispanic population.

    When I look at Rubio, I see a charismatic speaker whose actions contradict his words. He supports English-only legislation even as he campaigns in Spanish. He champions limited government, yet supports reauthorizing E-Verify, which would require employers to clear, through a national database, every person who applies for a job.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Mitt Romney’s Bain Problem Worsens
    Critics from both parties are identifying Mitt Romney’s history at Bain Capital as potentially his biggest general election weakness. Now a steady drip of stories threatens to move the issue to the forefront sooner rather than later.

    Romney was a founding partner and at one point CEO of the investment firm, where he oversaw the purchase of a number of businesses, many of whom laid off workers under Bain’s oversight.

    On Monday, the New York Times revealed that Romney’s retirement package from the company means that he still makes millions of dollars every year off its subsequent dealings. That’s huge news for Democratic oppo researchers, because it puts Romney closer to some of the deals that have been made under his successors’ watch, many of which went through painful restructuring.

    For example, Bain’s acquisition of media giant Clear Channel in 2008 has been followed by thousands of layoffs, including many local DJs who were booted without even getting a chance to say goodbye to their listeners.

    Making matters worse, Bain’s footprint traverses a number of swing states. It’s one thing for voters in South Carolina and New Hampshire to hear about well-known Bain layoffs in, say, Indiana, but it may be even worse if Democrats run an attack ad about layoffs in their own state.

    Romney offered one of his most detailed defenses of his time at Bain in the most recent Republican debate in Sioux City, IA, saying he expected to be attacked by President Obama’s campaign over the issue should he become the GOP nominee.

    “In the real world that the president has not lived in, I actually think he doesn’t understand that not every business succeeds,” he said, noting that Bain had many highly successful investments to go with its duds, including Staples. “In the real world some things don’t make it. I believe I learned from the successes and the failures.”

    But the toughest part may be explaining some of the cases where the businesses failed, but Bain still managed to turn a profit through management fees and dividends. And Democrats have indicated that they plan to zero in on this particular angle.

    “That’s where his storyline collapses,” Priorities USA advisor Paul Begala told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent on Monday. “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.”

  5. rikyrah says:

    Dec 19, 2011 5:08pm
    Americans Elect Candidate Will Be on California Ballot

    Americans Elect, an organization trying to draft a nonpartisan presidential ticket through online voting, has achieved what it called a “major milestone” in its effort, securing access to the ballot in California, the group announced today.

    After collecting a record-breaking 1.62 million signatures, Americans Elect announced its nominee will be on the ballot in California, making the largest state in the nation’s 55 electoral votes up for grabs for an independent presidential candidate in 2012.

    “It’s a huge hurdle,” said Americans Elect Spokeswoman Ileana Wachtel. “It is probably the hardest state to get access in. Once California is accomplished I think anything could be accomplished. Any state is doable.”

    Americans Elect now has a spot on the ballot in 12 states. It joins six other parties on the California ballot including, of course, Republicans and Democrats but also the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the American Independent Party and the Peace and Freedom Party.

    “Ballot access in California is a major milestone in achieving ballot access in all 50 states,” said Kellen Arno, Executive Director of Ballot Access and National Field Engagement. “Submitting 1.62 million signatures in California, a politically complex and diverse state, is testimony to the fact that Californians are looking for a better choice in the electoral process and one that will put an end to partisan gridlock in Washington.”

    Americans Elect has submitted petitions for ballot access in three more states and is currently collecting signatures in 15 others. It aims to secure a spot on the ballot in every state before its online nominating convention in June, where any registered voter can cast a ballot for their preferred Americans Elect Candidate.

  6. Ametia says:

    Cantor and Boehner better check themselves; ’cause they’ve already WRECKED themselves.

  7. ThinkProgress:

    BREAKING: Boehner breaks promise to vote on bipartisan Senate payroll tax extension tonight

  8. rikyrah says:

    December 19, 2011 4:10 PM

    The Schoen/Caddell clown show

    By Steve Benen

    The question of the day: is it better to ignore the latest nonsense from Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell or mock it? I’ve gone back and forth on this, but I’m leaning towards the latter, primarily out of concern that some well-intentioned news consumers may not immediately recognize them.

    Schoen and Caddell have a shtick that clearly works for them. They’re “Fox News Democrats” — guys who claim to be Dems, but who are actively hostile towards Democratic officeholders, Democratic candidates, and Democratic policy ideas. They leverage their superficial connection to the party for even more superficial credibility, convincing news outlets their anti-Democratic screeds are meaningful given their imaginary loyalty to the party.

    Fox News, in particular, routinely touts its commitment to “balance” by inviting him on the air — Republicans who hate Democrats are joined by Democrats who hate Democrats.

    With this in mind, Politico ran a piece today from Schoen and Caddell arguing — what else? — that President Obama should simply give up and let someone else run next year. As Jon Chait noticed, Schoen and Caddell have somehow managed to convince editors at major news outlets to run practically the same piece, over and over again.

    Sure, they proposed this idea last year in the Washington Post…. And then again in November in The Wall Street Journal…. And then again today in Politico….

    But I think there’s far more to be said about this fascinating idea. What if Schoen and Caddell were to write daily dispatches reporting from the ground about efforts among Democrats to challenge Obama in the 2012 primary, or to just cede the 2012 election? Certainly such Democrats exist — and if not, Schoen and Caddell could conduct man-on-the-street interviews with each other….

    There’s just so much to this idea, I feel readers are being deprived by only being able to read Schoen and Caddell reviving it every few months. Any op-ed page editor who lets a single day go by without hearing Schoen and Caddell peddle their idea is depriving their readers.

    Lest anyone be confused, Chait’s being sarcastic.

    But the larger point is that the Schoen/Caddell clown show is well past the point of farce, and editors who keep publishing their tired, repetitious tripe should pause to consider whether we really need another 972 words about two Fox News Democrats not liking the president.

    Because at this point, it’s just tiresome. Schoen and Caddell spent 2010 telling Dems to do what Tea Partiers tell them to do, supporting Republican congressional candidates, and participating in right-wing retreats with Republican politicians and pundits.

    As Adam Serwer once put it, “Asking Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell not to be one-note hacks would be like telling Maury Povitch to stop doing shows involving paternity tests.”

    This year, when they’re not publishing their latest op-ed begging Obama to quit, they’re publishing bogus anti-Occupy palaver and providing fodder for Republican attack ads.

    Any outlet describing Schoen as a “Democrat” without context or asterisks is misleading the public.

    Post script: Incidentally, a new CNN poll finds that 81% of Democrats want their party to renominate Obama for 2012, nearly the strongest intra-party support the president has enjoyed in two years. Schoen and Caddell may be persuading editors to run their ideas, but they don’t appear to be persuading voters to agree with their ideas.

  9. rikyrah says:

    December 19, 2011 2:50 PM

    The ‘good parts’ of the ACA
    By Steve Benen

    It is now a standard belief among Republican presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, that the Affordable Care Act needs to be repealed. Not some of the health care law, or even most of the law, but every word of every page needs to be scrapped. To call for anything less is to risk a backlash from the GOP base.

    But it’s fun to look back to when these candidates felt differently. Igor Volsky has this gem this afternoon.

    …Romney hasn’t always supported eliminating the law in its entirety. For instance, as this video uncovered by Andrew Kaczynski demonstrates, in April 2010 Romney was still carefully contrasting Obamacare with the state reform he signed into law as governor of Massachusetts and promised to maintain some of its provisions. “Some similarities, some differences, and I hope we’re ultimately able to eliminate some of the differences, repeal the bad, and keep the good,” Romney said.

    It was around the same time that Romney conceded the individual mandate should remain in place for the benefit of Americans with pre-existing conditions.

    Similar, Lee Fang reported the other day on Gingrich having a similar perspective.

    What hasn’t been reported yet are two conference calls in June and December 2010 in which Gingrich and his for-profit Center for Health Transformation touted “the good parts” of Obama’s plan and offered advice about how clients might take advantage of a myriad of provisions of the Affordable Care Act. […]

    “There are clearly things that we’d like to see continued and we’d like to see legislation passed almost concurrently that will sustain the good parts,” said Gingrich, explaining what would happen if the bill were to be repealed.

    At a certain level, none of this should come as a surprise. The Affordable Care Act is a historic breakthrough for progressive goals and priorities, but it’s also a fairly moderate piece of legislation, incorporating ideas that have enjoyed support from both parties for many years. It stands to reason that any leading Republican official who’s serious about health care policy would look at its provisions and find plenty of measures he/she would want to keep in place.

    For that matter, there’s an obvious political benefit, too — the Affordable Care Act isn’t popular, but it’s component parts enjoy significant national support. When Romney and Gingrich talked about the “parts” that they were inclined to keep, they were very likely referring to policies that the vast majority of Americans support enthusiastically.

    Also note, we’re not talking about ancient history here, rolling out quotes from the mid-1990s. Romney and Gingrich thought the ACA had plenty of redeeming qualities in 2010 — for the calendar impaired, that was last year.

    The question for the GOP presidential candidates, then, is why provisions of the health care law earned their support in 2010, but have been deemed wholly unacceptable in 2011.

  10. Obama Health Care Law: Supreme Court Sets Dates To Hear Oral Arguments

    WASHINGTON — March madness is coming to the Supreme Court next year. The justices have designated three days, March 26 to March 28, as the oral argument dates for the health care cases.

    The Court agreed to hear the challenges to the Affordable Care Act in November, setting aside an extraordinary five and a half hours for oral argument.

    The main event will be on Tuesday, March 27, when the Court will take up the constitutionality of the health care law’s minimum coverage requirement. That provision, commonly called the individual mandate, requires virtually all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. The Court has set aside two hours for argument over whether Congress’ passage of the individual mandate exceeded the legislature’s powers to regulate interstate commerce or lay and collect taxes under Article I of the Constitution.

  11. Obama Approval Rebounds as Congress Tanks

    Aided by comparison to the vastly unpopular Congress, Barack Obama has advanced to a 49 percent job approval rating in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll – his best showing since spring, and one that, if it holds, that may put his re-election prospects back within reach.

    The result continues an improving trend for the president amid some signs of economic gains. And it contrasts with both parties in Congress, embroiled in their latest game of political chicken. A mere 27 percent of Americans now approve of the Democrats in Congress, and just 20 percent approve of the Republicans – both new lows in ABC/Post polling back to 1994.

  12. Flashback: Mitt Romney Praises “President’s Plan For Economic Recovery Including A Stimulus Bill”

  13. The Washington Post:

    Boehner intends to vote against two-month tax cut:

  14. rikyrah says:

    Tea Party lawmaker: Payroll-tax-cut fight our ‘Braveheart moment’
    By Jonathan Easley – 12/19/11 12:28 PM ET

    A member of the House Tea Party caucus said Republicans are rallying behind Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in the payroll tax cut standoff, calling him “William Wallace” in their “‘Braveheart’ moment.”

    Speaking Monday on Fox News, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) suggested contrary to reports that the Tea Party wing of the party is forcing Boehner’s hand, his colleagues are actually rallying to defend the Speaker of the House.

    I’ve got a flight out of [Georgia] in about two hours. We’re all coming back, that’s what everybody told Speaker Boehner on the conference call Saturday when we heard about this fiasco of a two-month extension voted on by the Senate,” Gingrey said. “We were literally shocked.”

    “Out of 75 responses, there may have been one person that thought it was OK that we would put the fight off until two months from now,” he continued. “Everybody else said, ‘Look, this is a ‘Braveheart’ moment. You, Mr. Speaker, are our William Wallace. Let’s rush to the fight. Get us back to Washington, let’s get to our work and we’re doing that.’ ”

  15. rikyrah says:

    Jeb’s Orwellian (Borrowed) Catchphrase
    by Steve M.
    Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 12:09:41 PM EST

    First, let’s address the obvious: yes, Jeb Bush has a Wall Street Journal op-ed because the party has been preparing to slot him into the presidential race if there’s no other way to get an electable nominee. But the op-ed was clearly in the pipeline before polls started revealing the implosion of the Newt Gingrich campaign, and the rise of a libertarian anti-Romney who can’t win anywhere where GOP voters insist on a foreign policy that emphasizes killing brown people for Jesus (i.e., the vast majority of red states). So Ron Paul will fade right after Gingrich, Romney is all but anointed, and Jeb will soon retreat to the background, hoping to be Mitt’s market-oriented secretary of education.

    But since the party elders took the trouble to put this op-ed together for Jeb, let’s examine it, particularly the opening:

    Congressman Paul Ryan recently coined a smart phrase to describe the core concept of economic freedom: “The right to rise.”
    Think about it. We talk about the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to assembly. The right to rise doesn’t seem like something we should have to protect.

    But we do. We have to make it easier for people to do the things that allow them to rise. We have to let them compete. We need to let people fight for business.

    “The right to rise”? In a sane America, if we wanted to use the phrase “the right to rise” at this moment in history, we’d use it to talk about people who can’t rise because they can’t sell a house and move to where jobs are because the fat cats won’t allow serious levels of mortgage modification to stabilize the housing market; we’d talk about people who can’t rise and find work because we refuse to make a serious effort to engage in the sort of Keynesian public-works stimulus that would put money in people’s pockets that they would later give to struggling merchants in exchange for food, clothing, and consumer goods; we’d talk about people who can’t rise because they’ve been laid off as teachers or cops as we refuse to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for needed services; we’d talk about students who will struggle to rise for decades because they bear a crushing burden of student loans and no job prospects.

    But Jeb, and Paul Ryan before him, mean nothing of the sort. They mean the right to be capitalists — a right that every sane person knows is clearly not threatened in America in any way, shape, or form. Ah, but, but … regulations! Jeb says they’re awful!

    Increasingly, we have let our elected officials abridge our own economic freedoms through the annual passage of thousands of laws and their associated regulations. We see human tragedy and we demand a regulation to prevent it. We see a criminal fraud and we demand more laws. We see an industry dying and we demand it be saved. Each time, we demand “Do something … anything.”
    …Woe to the elected leader who fails to deliver a multipoint plan for economic success, driven by specific government action. “Trust in the dynamism of the market” is not a phrase in today’s political lexicon.

    Several things are going on here: Jeb warming up to substitute for Mitt, Jeb trying to co-opt Ron Paul’s rhetoric, Jeb attempting to lift the albatross of Paul Ryan’s bad reputation from around the neck of what must have been a painstakingly crafted slogan from the GOP laboratories.

    But this is still horrifying. The phrase essentially describes operating big businesses without effective government oversight as a fundamental human right, like something that would have been fought for in Tahrir Square or on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

    If we as a nation fall for this Orwellian phrase — now or in the future — we deserve the decline and fall that will come to us.

  16. rikyrah says:

    We’re certified, all legal-like
    by Kay

    I’m really pleased about this because it finally feels as if rank and file Democratic and liberal voters care as much about ensuring that every lawful voter has access to a first class ballot as rank and file Republicans and conservative voters care about setting up roadblocks to a first class ballot.

    The enthusiasm gap on this is narrowing:

    A referendum on House Bill 194, a sweeping reform of election laws, will appear on the November 2012 ballot, Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office announced Friday.
    Opponents of the bill, largely Democrats and voting rights activists, collected 307,358 valid signatures, according to the secretary of state’s office. Petitioners needed 231,150 signatures to put the law on the ballot.

    The successful petition drive comes on the heels of Democrats’ victory in overturning Senate Bill 5, a controversial collective bargaining law. That law, supported by Republican Gov. John Kasich and GOP legislative leaders, was overwhelmingly rejected in the November election.
    Members and supporters of the Fair Elections Ohio coalition cheered the news Friday and predicted victory next November. By hanging a referendum on HB 194, Fair Elections Ohio preserved the existing elections law through at least next year’s presidential contest. That means a 35-day window for early voting and other practices seen as advantageous to Democrats in 2008 will remain in effect.

    President Barack Obama carried Ohio by four points that year. His re-election campaign participated in the HB 194 petition drive. “Today’s news is also further proof that we have a solid and robust grassroots organization in the state, and we plan to carry this momentum into 2012 and look forward to getting the vote out early next year,” Greg Schultz, state director for Obama for America, said in an emailed news release sent by the Ohio Democratic Party.
    Husted, a Republican, last month ruled that the petitioners came up about 10,000 signatures short of the requirement. Ohio law, however, provides an extra 10 days to collect supplemental signatures in such a case.

    I really believe the petition drive took this issue front and center, and forced us to talk with one another about the nuts and bolts of voting process, a process that is, outside the fiction that is created in the studios of Fox News and the pages of the Wall Street Journal, a dull and ordinary set of specific rules. Take away the New Black Panther Party nonsense and other politically useful allegations and voting process, the real one, the one that exists, is boring. Boring but important.

    Mickey Mouse doesn’t really vote, and dead people are removed (or not removed, yet) from the voter rolls when the state or county receives official notice of their death and gets around to removing them. Since people move from state to state and county to county, voters who register in one state or county sometimes die in another, hence the delay, but that’s a less interesting story than “dead people are voting!” so the first impression is the one that sticks.

    Voting process wouldn’t merit much national coverage at all from the political press if it were presented honestly, because the news personalities would have to sort through the weeds of state law and explain it all. They’d end up reciting state-specific nitpicky regulations rather than excitedly narrating explosive video clips, which is why it’s a difficult issue to take to actual voters, if one intends to present it honestly.

  17. rikyrah says:

    December 19, 2011 1:45 PM
    Reid, for now, won’t play Boehner’s game
    By Steve Benen

    After the Senate approved a two-month extension of the payroll tax break, 89 to 10, the upper chamber not only assumed the House would be responsible, it also announced it’s done until January. This morning, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that won’t do — the Senate, he said, has to come back, get ready for more compromising, and make House Republicans happy.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) issued a statement this afternoon suggesting Boehner has limited options.

    My House colleagues should be clear on what their vote means today. If Republicans vote down the bipartisan compromise negotiated by Republican and Democratic leaders, and passed by 89 senators including 39 Republicans, their intransigence will mean that in ten days, 160 million middle class Americans will see a tax increase, over two million Americans will begin losing their unemployment benefits, and millions of senior citizens on Medicare could find it harder to receive treatment from physicians.

    “Senator McConnell and I negotiated a compromise at Speaker Boehner’s request. I will not re-open negotiations until the House follows through and passes this agreement that was negotiated by Republican leaders, and supported by 90 percent of the Senate.

    “This is a question of whether the House of Representatives will be able to fulfill the basic legislative function of passing an overwhelmingly bipartisan agreement, in order to protect the economic security of millions of middle-class Americans. Democratic and Republican leaders negotiated a compromise and Speaker Boehner should not walk away from it, putting middle-class families at risk of a thousand-dollar tax hike just because a few angry Tea Partiers raised their voices to the Speaker.”

    As for Boehner’s demand that policymakers work on a year-long extension, instead of a two-month extension, Reid said Democrats would continue to work on this goal, just as soon as the House approves this short-term measure and gives policymakers time to work on a new agreement. Another Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, said something similar on MSNBC earlier.

    Senate Dems, in other words, are trying to, in effect, “jam” House Republicans — they passed a bill and left, giving the lower chamber a choice between passing the Senate bill or raising taxes on 160 million Americans.

    Complicating matters a bit, some Senate Republicans are siding with Dems on this, telling House Republicans to cut the nonsense and pass the extension.

    The next move will probably be a House vote on the Senate bill, which Republican leaders expect to fail. Indeed, that’s largely the point — they’re bringing it to the floor so GOP members can kill it and send a message to the Senate that the bipartisan compromise isn’t far enough to the right.

    I haven’t seen any head counts on this, but it’s worth watching to see if the Senate bill sneaks past the finish line anyway. Greg Sargent reports that the House Democratic leadership has sent a letter to its members, “urging them to vote for the measure in ‘overwhelming’ numbers.”

    This matters. Remember, there are 192 Democrats in the House, and the bill needs 218 votes to go to the White House to be signed. If all, or nearly all, Dems support the deal struck in the Senate, it would only need 26 or so House Republicans to break ranks.

    The alternative is House Republicans killing a bipartisan compromise on a middle-class tax cut, which just passed the Senate 89 to 10, six days before Christmas. Are there 26 GOP lawmakers in the House willing to do the responsible thing? If I had to guess, I’d say no, but if they appear, this mess could be resolved fairly quickly.

  18. rikyrah says:

    December 19, 2011 1:10 PM
    Affordable Care Act, still working
    By Steve Benen

    A small business owner in Michigan wrote an interesting piece for his local newspaper the other day, noting how tax credits from the Affordable Care Act are making a real difference, and even helping create jobs. That’s good to hear.

    The piece comes, by the way, on the heels of reports that the health care reform law is delivering big savings for seniors on prescription drug costs. And that came on the heels of evidence that the ACA is providing treatment options for cancer patients like Spike Dolomite Ward. And that came on the heels of news that the law is slowing the growth of Medicare spending.

    Let’s also not overlook the news from last week about the millions of younger Americans who are getting coverage thanks to consumer protections that are now in place.

    President Obama’s health care reforms have allowed 2.5 million young adults to get medical coverage, according to a new analysis that the Obama administration is set to release Wednesday.

    The Obama administration says the dramatic decrease in the number of uninsured young adults is due to the president’s signature health care reforms, reports the AP, which obtained a copy of the analysis.

    “The increase in coverage among 19- to 25-year-olds can be directly attributed to the Affordable Care Act’s new dependent coverage provision,” said a draft report from the Health and Human Services Department.

    Under the health care reforms, 19- to 25-year-olds can remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until they turn 26, a provision which went into effect last fall.

    Much of the new law won’t take effect until 2014, assuming it survives until then. But in the meantime, is it too much to ask that the political world pause to notice that the Affordable Care Act is working?

    Millions of Americans have health insurance right now who otherwise wouldn’t. Millions of seniors can now afford medication they would otherwise struggle to pay for. Small businesses are getting tax breaks right now that are helping these enterprises grow and expand. These are tangible, real-world benefits, making a meaningful difference.

    And if Republicans repeal the law, all of these benefits will simply disappear. It’s something voters may want to keep in mind.

  19. Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto

  20. rikyrah says:

    Dems To Boehner: Take It Or Leave It

    Democratic senators and their aides say House Speaker John Boehner must allow a bipartisan, two-month extension to the payroll tax cut to pass before they’ll return to Washington to negotiate an extension through the rest of the year.

    On MSNBC Monday morning, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the third ranking Dem in the Senate, left Boehner an unkind choice.

    “Speaker Boehner has two choices and there are only two,” Schumer said. “The first is to pass the bill, the bipartisan bill, that the Senate passed 89-10 — vast majority of Republicans, lot of tea party guys voted for it. The second is the middle class tax cut will lapse and he will be responsible.”

    Under intense pressure from his caucus, Boehner and his leadership team are whipping against the bipartisan, Senate-passed bill, and it’s expected to fail on the House floor Monday night. Democrats are seizing political high ground while they can, but it’s unclear what happens after tonight’s vote — if Dems hold their ground and try to force Boehner to hold a re-vote, or if they come back to the table.

    “[W]hat I’d suggest is he bring it to the floor tonight, he will — don’t twist arms,” Schumer said. “Just let the chips fall where they may. Let the members vote their conscience. He’ll get just about every Democrat to vote for it, he’ll get plenty of Republicans to vote for it, and it’ll be off his shoulders.”

  21. rikyrah says:

    December 19, 2011 12:35 PM
    The nature of the ‘stalemate’
    By Steve Benen

    I generally find Steven Pearlstein’s columns worthwhile, but his piece yesterday left me scratching my head, wondering if he’s watching the same Washington policymakers I am.

    There was, for example, this lazy both-sides-are-always-to-blame observation that’s at odds with reality.

    These days, Washington is stuck in a nasty Nash equilibrium. The two dominant parties — the anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-government wing of the Republican Party, and the raise-taxes-on-the-rich-but-don’t-touch-my-entitlement wing of the Democratic Party — have fought each other to stalemate. Every few weeks or so, some event or deadline comes along that appears to hold out the prospect that one side or the other might prevail and thereby break the deadlock. But, in the end, nothing really gets resolved, nobody wins and the stalemate continues.

    This is a fairly obvious “false equivalencies” problem. Pearlstein is, of course, half right — the Republican Party is dominated by anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-government policymakers at every level of government. Moderates have been run out of the GOP, and compromise has been deemed a dirty word. But Pearlstein’s take on Democrats runs counter to everything we’ve seen all year.

    Pearlstein sees Dems as refusing to compromise on entitlements. We know that’s not true because, well, Dems have been willing compromise on entitlements. Not only was President Obama prepare to accept major changes to entitlements in the so-called “grand bargain” that Republicans rejected, but more recently, super-committee Democrats were willing to strike a deal with the GOP — entitlement reforms for tax revenue. Republicans refused.

    Indeed, even now, with the fight over a payroll tax break at center stage, Republicans asked Democrats to make two concessions: no surtax on the very wealthy and an expedited decision on Keystone XL. Dems accepted both demands — only to find Republicans balk at the tax deal anyway.

    This is no small error on Pearlstein’s part. It’s true that gridlocked Washington constantly ends up in stalemates in which “nothing really gets resolved,” but it’s imperative that journalists and voters understand why these conditions persist. Those who chalk it up to “both sides” being reluctant to accept concessions are ignoring readily-available facts.

    What’s worse, Pearlstein pivots from this mistake to endorse Howard Schultz’s idea for a donor boycott in which well-intentioned people refuse to make any campaign contributions until the parties start working together.

    I don’t know what’s gotten into Pearlstein — he’s usually more sensible — but it only takes a minute to think through how misguided this idea is.

    Schultz and his cooperating business leaders are demanding that policymakers work on a policy agenda that the Obama White House and many Democrats have already endorsed. But instead of supporting those who agree with them, Schultz & Co. are punishing their own allies by refusing to offer them financial support.

    If these wealthy folks said, “We’ll only donate to candidates who agree to pursue our preferred agenda,” that would certainly make sense. It might even create an incentive for policymakers (“I want the contributions, so I should be more open to the kind of compromise the business leaders are demanding”).

    But that’s not what they’re up to, preferring instead to withhold support from everyone, no matter how willing they are to compromise, no matter how much they agree with a sensible policy agenda. They only people on Capitol Hill delighted by this donor-boycott effort are those who disagree with Schultz and his partners’ ideas.

    For that matter, as Ezra Klein explained yesterday, Schultz’s initiative ironically “gives the more extreme elements of the political system sole responsibility for feeding it, and as such, encourages politicians to rely on them, and govern in a way that keeps them happy.”

    I’m at a loss to understand why Pearlstein, or anyone else frustrated by DC’s dysfunction, would find this praiseworthy.

  22. Ametia says:

    Let’s Play the Racial Referee: Honest Disagreement or Subtle White Racism?

    Worth a read; here’s the link.

  23. Ametia says:

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Monday he will not agree to reopen negotiations with House leaders on a payroll tax cut until the House passes the two-month extension already approved by the Senate.

    Earlier Monday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he expected the House to reject the tax cut bill that the Senate approved Saturday.

    Boehner also said that he expected the House to pass legislation reinforcing the need for a one-year extension and that he wanted the matter to be taken up by a House-Senate conference committee.

    Reid said in a statement that, “My House colleagues should be clear on what their vote means today. If Republicans vote down the bipartisan compromise negotiated by Republican and Democratic leaders, and passed by 89 senators including 39 Republicans, their intransigence will mean that in ten days, 160 million middle class Americans will see a tax increase, over two million Americans will begin losing their unem ployment benefits, and millions of senior citizens on Medicare could find it harder to receive treatment from physicians.”

    The payroll tax cut extension expires at the end of the year and is worth roughly $1,000 a year for an average family.

  24. Ametia says:

    December 19, 2011
    Pres. Obama signs Executive Order establishing a National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security


  25. rikyrah says:

    Gingrich worse against Obama than Romney: Reuters/Ipsos poll

    Newt Gingrich holds a 10-point lead in the fight for the Republican presidential nomination, but he would fare worse against President Barack Obama than Republican Mitt Romney, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.

    With the first nominating contest in Iowa less than three weeks away, Gingrich leads Romney among Republican voters nationwide by 28 percent to 18 percent, the poll found.

    However, the poll raises questions about whether Gingrich — a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives who has shot to the top of Republican opinion polls in recent weeks — would be able to defeat Obama.

    The poll found that if the November 2012 presidential election were held today, Obama would defeat Gingrich, 51 percent to 38 percent. By contrast, Obama would defeat Romney by a narrower margin, 48 percent to 40 percent.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    December 19, 2011 11:25 AM
    Rick Perry’s double-dipping
    By Steve Benen

    For a presidential candidate who wants to dismantle much of the government, slash much of the public-sector workforce, and eliminate many public-sector benefits, this should be a fairly significant political problem.

    Rick Perry has done something his opponents have been hoping he’d do for years: retire. But it’s not what the governor’s detractors had in mind.

    Perry officially retired in January so he could start collecting his lucrative pension benefits early, but he still gets to collect his salary — and has in turn dramatically boosted his take-home pay.

    Perry makes a $150,000 annual gross salary as Texas governor. Now, thanks to his early retirement, Perry, 61, gets a monthly retirement annuity of $7,698 before taxes, or $6,588 net. That raises his gross annual salary to more than $240,000.

    It’s a practice sometimes referred to as “double-dipping” — Perry is enjoying his generous, taxpayer-financed salary, and enjoying his generous taxpayer-financed pension at the same time.

    If his presidential campaign fails, and Perry serves the remainder of his third term, he’ll also receive an even-more-generous pension, Social Security, and state-provided health care for the rest of his life.

    The Perry campaign has emphasized that all of this is perfectly legal. As best as I can tell, that’s true.

    But if the governor and his aides don’t see the problem here, they’re not paying close enough attention — Perry is receiving quite a bit of money from a public-sector benefits system Perry finds ideologically offensive and in need of a radical overhaul.

    I suspect Perry, going forward, will have a very hard time working his way back into the top tier of the GOP presidential race, but if he somehow manages a comeback, this is a story the governor would have a tough time defending to his party’s far-right base.

  27. rikyrah says:

    The Stupid is Getting Very Aggressive
    by BooMan
    Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 10:56:13 AM EST

    This Washington Post article about public planning in Virginia shows how bad the Aggressively Stupid has become. All across the Commonwealth, public meetings are being disrupted by deranged Tea Partiers who think public planning is some kind of sinister plot directed by the United Nations and the environmental movement. The worst of it is taking place in Hampton Roads, which is sinking even as the ocean level is rising. This combination necessitates pro-active planning.

    The residents’ opposition has focused on a central point: They don’t think climate change is accelerated by human activity, as most climate scientists conclude. When planners proposed to rezone land for use as a dike against rising water, these residents, or “new activists,” as [acting executive director of the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission, Lewis] Lawrence calls them, saw a trick to take their property.
    “Environmentalists have always had an agenda to put nature above man,” said Donna Holt, leader of the Virginia Campaign for Liberty, a tea party affiliate with 7,000 members. “If they can find an end to their means, they don’t care how it happens. If they can do it under the guise of global warming and climate change, they will do it.”

    Unfortunately, Donna Holt and many of her 7000-strong tea partiers don’t realize that they want to build a dike for the same reason people always want to build dikes: to protect the property behind the dike. What kind of Stupid does it take to motivate a person to get off their butt, drag it to a public meeting and yell about nonsense like this?

    When planners redesignated property as a future flood zone, activists said officials were acting on a hoax. They argued in meetings and on Web sites that local planners are unwitting agents of Agenda 21, a United Nations environmental action plan adopted in 1992 that the activists see as a shadowy global conspiracy to grab land and redistribute wealth in the United States.

    I suppose it was generous of them to call these public planners “unwitting” agents. They’re just poor dumb schmucks who have been indoctrinated into believing things like water-level readings.

    I can kind of understand when people are marshaled to fight against environmental causes that will hurt the profit margins of the oil and gas industry. But this has extended to fighting against flood protection. It’s incredible how easy it is to make dumb people.

  28. rikyrah says:

    December 19, 2011 10:00 AM
    McConnell’s abuses continue unabated
    By Steve Benen

    The Senate was able to make some temporary progress on tax policy over the weekend. The chamber had far less success on filling lingering vacancies.

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Saturday afternoon blocked more than 50 judicial and executive branch nominees, demanding assurances that President Obama not make recess appointments during Christmas break.

    Republicans are wary of Obama appointing a director to the new agency tasked with implementing Wall Street reform during the congressional recess. […]

    “We are ready and willing to move forward, by consent, with a package of nominations to positions in both the executive and judicial branches,” McConnell said. “Just as soon as I receive confirmation from the administration that it will respect practice and precedent on recess appointments, we can get these people confirmed.”

    Or to reword this in a slightly more accurate way, “We are ready and willing to move release the hostages. Just as soon as I receive confirmation that we’ve been paid, we can let these people get on with their lives.”

    It is certainly of interest that McConnell is still worried about recess appointments. It’s a concern that reflects an unstated realization — the widely-held assumption has been that pro-forma sessions would simply prohibit President Obama from making recess appointments, but if that were true, McConnell wouldn’t be seeking assurances from the White House about an option that doesn’t exist. As we discussed two weeks ago, there’s reason to believe Obama can make recess appointments anyway, and the Senate Minority Leader apparently sees the same presidential opportunity. Otherwise, McConnell wouldn’t be awaiting “confirmation” of anything.

    But in the bigger picture, it’s important not to overlook — or become inured to — the severity of McConnell’s abuses. We’re talking about Senate confirmation of qualified officials to serve in important government posts, who would be confirmed easily if given a vote.

    McConnell has decided to use his position to block majority rule and refuse to allow the votes to take place. Why? Because he wants President Obama to promise not to make recess appointments.

    In other words, because the Senate Minority Leader says so, the Senate won’t be able to complete its legal responsibilities unless the president agrees not to use his legal authority.

    The ability of the Senate to function, completing basic and routine tasks, is now dependent on the whims of the Minority Leader. When he’s satisfied, McConnell will then, and only then, graciously allow the institution to do its duty on pending nominees.

    The Senate wasn’t designed to work this way; it didn’t used to work this way; and it can’t work this way.

  29. rikyrah says:

    December 19, 2011 9:35 AM
    ‘It’s not a huge tax cut’
    By Steve Benen

    Mitt Romney appeared on “Fox News Sunday” yesterday, the former governor’s first Sunday show appearance in nearly two years, and Chris Wallace brought up an interesting subject: Romney’s tax plan. From the transcript:

    WALLACE: You talk about helping the middle class but your plan that would eliminate the tax on capital gains and dividends doesn’t help them. A recent study showed that a family making $75,000 a year in terms of what they would receive by eliminating capital gains and dividends, $167, sir.

    ROMNEY: Well, first of all, $167 is not zero. And number two, one of the reasons people don’t save their money is that they don’t see an incentive to do so…. What I do is allow middle-income families to finally be able to save their money tax free. No tax on interest dividends or capital gains for middle income Americans.

    WALLACE: But the argument is middle class people can’t afford, they don’t have enough money to have a lot of capital gains and dividends.

    ROMNEY: Look, I recognize it’s not a huge tax cut. It is a tax reduction and it allows middle-income folks to participate in making a brighter future for themselves and for saving.

    This was a rather important exchange for a couple of reasons. The first is the basic policy realization, which the former governor is now conceding, that Romney’s plan largely ignores the middle class. For that matter, Romney has been arguing for weeks that $1,000 in middle-class families’ paychecks is a meaningless, but yesterday suggested $167 makes a big difference.

    Or put another way, why does Romney think $1,000 a year is a “band-aid,” but $167 helps families make “a brighter future”?

    The other problem here is simple dishonesty. Romney has spent the last several months telling voters his plan is focused on “tax cuts for the middle class,” and he doesn’t intend to “waste time trying to get tax cuts for wealthy people.” The reality, of course, is the exact opposite — Romney supports major tax breaks for the very wealthy, and as he conceded yesterday on Fox News, isn’t much focused on tax cuts for the middle class at all.

    If Romney wants to make the case that middle-class tax breaks are a bad idea given the deficit, that’s fine; he can make the case. If he wants to argue that tax breaks for the wealthy are worthwhile, he can make that argument, too. But the problem is the casual, effortless dishonesty that tells the public the opposite of the truth.

  30. rikyrah says:

    Hitchens And The War
    By Ta-Nehisi Coates
    Dec 19 2011, 9:00 AM ET 84

    I’d argue that, over the last decade, Hitchens sins actually injured his prose. See for instance this unfortunate piece where Hitchens implies that Michelle Obama somehow lured the president into the evidently woeful clutches of Jeremiah Wright:

    If there is a reason why the potential nominee has been keeping what he himself now admits to be very bad company–and if the rest of his character seems to make this improbable–then either he is hiding something and/or it is legitimate to ask him about his partner.

    It was totally illegitimate. Barack Obama was baptized at Trinity in 1988. He didn’t meet, much less marry, Michelle Robinson, the product of the painfully traditional black working class, until a year later. Nevertheless, what follows that passage in which Hitchens, a professional writer, devolves into snarky critique of 22-year old’s college thesis. This is was in the hey-day of the “Whitey Tape,” but there’s an unfortunate trend in the dismissal of facts in this piece and “A War To Be Proud Of.” For my money, it’s the mark of writer who had begun to substitute quantity of thought, for quality of thought. (Again, chastening.)

    Nevertheless, I think Glenn’s frame is wrong. Virtues don’t excuse sins; they cohabit with them. Thomas Jefferson was a slaveholder. Perhaps worse he was a slaveholder who comprehended, more than any other, the moral failing of slavery, and it’s potential to bring the country to war, and yet at the end of his life he argued for slavery’s expansion, and on his death many of his slaves were sent to the auction block.

    At his end, Jefferson sided with those who would eventually bring about the deaths of 600,000 Americans. He argued that the antebellum South would have either “justice” versus “self-preservation.” To paraphrase Churchill, it chose the latter and consequently got neither. But Jefferson was a beautiful writer, and a great intellect, whose thinking and prose I consistently find stunning. This admiration does not negate his moral cowardice. Both are true at the same time. (The same point could be made in regards to our conversation over Elizabeth Cady Stanton.)

  31. rikyrah says:

    Rasmussenites Swing Left

    Eventually, as this joke of a GOP continues to play politics with a depression, the voters out there will get antsy. 50 percent of Rasmussen’s older, whiter, more Republican voters are worried the government will not do enough to help the economy. 39 percent fear too much.

  32. rikyrah says:

    Romney: Obama Is ‘The Great Divider’

    Mitt Romney, in his first Sunday morning news show appearance in almost two years, sat down for a wide-ranging, but tame, interview on Fox News Sunday.

    On the Iraq War — which officially came to an end Sunday morning — Romney expressed concern over the United States’ complete withdrawal.

    “I think we’re going to find that this president, by not putting in place a status-of-forces agreement with the Iraqi leadership, has pulled our troops out in a precipitous way and we should have left 10-, 20-, 30-thousand personnel there to help transition to the Iraqi’s own military capabilities,” he said, adding, “I hope it works out.”

    On President Obama, Romney repeated a familiar refrain: the president “does not understand how this economy works,” and has failed the country. Asked if Obama will paint him as a corrupt “Gordon Gecko” character, Romney said “of course he will.” Obama is “the great divider,” Romney said, adding that Obama himself has “done very, very well over the last several years.”

    Romney contrasted himself with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich by saying he is the right candidate to address entitlement reform. He pointed out Gingrich’s criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget plan that would privatize Medicare — Gingrich at one point called it “right-wing social engineering” — saying Newt is “unreliable.”

    And finally, the interview took a personal turn. Wallace asked if it was fair for Romney’s critics to call him “robotic” or “buttoned-up.”

    “I’m an emotional guy,” Romney countered. “I have very deep feelings about the country.”

    Compared to his tough questions during Thursday’s Republican debate, host Chris Wallace took it easy on Romney during Sunday’s interview. There were no tense or hostile moments — just an opportunity for Romney to lay out his well-rehearsed campaign positions.

  33. rikyrah says:

    In Connecticut, Democrats Turn Cold Shoulder On Problematic Female Candidate
    Women’s groups think they’ve found a formidable female candidate they hope will replace retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Senate. As a veteran of Connecticut politics and an able campaigner, Susan Bysiewicz has everything they desire in a candidate. Next November is a make or break moment for women in the Senate with fully half the women in the Senate up for re-election. Women’s advocates are hoping to retain incumbents and even grow their numbers with candidates like Bysiewicz.

    But the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is backing a different candidate, Rep. Chris Murphy. Headed by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the DSCC knows that women’s representation is an issue but still prefers Murphy.

    One reason is that Murphy is an exemplary candidate. His fundraising figures and poll numbers trump the other contenders, though Bysiewicz isn’t down by a lot in the polls, and her fundraising numbers exhibit potential with the latest showing her at 1.25 million compared to Murphy’s $2.66 million.

    At a sit-down with the press on December 6, flanked by three female Senate recruits, Sen. Murray said of the Connecticut race: “When we go out to talk to people in states, we look at who is the strongest candidate, who can win, who has the strongest support. And in that state Chris Murphy is just a great candidate and I expect him to win.” In response, Bysiewicz’s campaign manager told Politico, “We have no problem not being accepted by the party…If you look at Susan’s record she has never been a favorite of insiders in Hartford either. It is because she has taken on tough fights.”

    These two statements sum up the problem with Susan Bysiewicz more accurately than talking points usually do. She is not a favorite of Harford insiders’ despite spending almost 20 years in Connecticut politics as a state representative and then Secretary of State, a fact that is clear from the sparse number of endorsements on her website, though it does boast the support of EMILY’s List, the National Organization for Women, and the National Women’s Political Caucus. Murphy’s, on the other hand, is replete with endorsements from state representatives and other Democratic party figures.

    The best explanation is that Bysiewicz is coming out of a rough patch in her career and many fear her electability has taken a hit. In 2010, Bysiewicz, then the secretary of state, dropped her bid for the governorship to run for attorney general instead, upsetting supporters. Many assumed she would immediately begin a Senate run even if she became attorney general.

    “I think that her ambition is, she wears it right on her sleeve, always has,” says Kevin Rennie, who served in the house with Susan as a Republican but now observes Connecticut politics as a blogger and columnist.

    The real trouble for Bysiewicz began after she began her campaign for attorney general. Due to a technical active-practice requirement in Connecticut, Bysiewicz, a lawyer, didn’t qualify for the job. Because in her capacity as Secretary of State Bysiewicz oversaw elections, she was forced essentially to sue her own office in order to be able to run.The state supreme court eventually disqualified her. During this whole time, Bysiewicz was forced to sit for a series of taped depositions that were not flattering to the candidate.

  34. rikyrah says:

    Buyout Profits Keep Flowing to Romney
    Published: December 18, 2011

    Almost 13 years ago, Mitt Romney left Bain Capital, the successful private equity firm he had helped start, and moved to Utah to rescue the Salt Lake City Olympic Games and begin a second career in public life.

    Yet when it came to his considerable personal wealth, Mr. Romney never really left Bain.

    In what would be the final deal of his private equity career, he negotiated a retirement agreement with his former partners that has paid him a share of Bain’s profits ever since, bringing the Romney family millions of dollars in income each year and bolstering the fortune that has helped finance Mr. Romney’s political aspirations.

    The arrangement allowed Mr. Romney to pursue his career in public life while enjoying much of the financial upside of being a Bain partner as the company grew into a global investing behemoth.

    In the process, Bain continued to buy and restructure companies, potentially leaving Mr. Romney exposed to further criticism that he has grown wealthier over the last decade partly as a result of layoffs. Moreover, much of his income from the arrangement has probably qualified for a lower tax rate than ordinary income under a tax provision favorable to hedge fund and private equity managers, which has become a point of contention in the battle over economic inequality.

    An examination of Mr. Romney’s public financial disclosures, as well as interviews with former Bain partners, business associates and counselors to his campaign, reveals the extent of his financial relationship with Bain Capital and how it has allowed him to continue amassing a personal fortune while building a political career.

    Though Mr. Romney left Bain in early 1999, he received a share of the corporate buyout and investment profits enjoyed by partners from all Bain deals through February 2009: four global buyout funds and 18 other funds, more than twice as many over all as Mr. Romney had a share of the year he left. He was also given the right to invest his own money alongside his former partners. Because some of the funds and deals covered by Mr. Romney’s agreement will not fully wind down for several years, Mr. Romney is still entitled to a share of some of Bain’s profits.

  35. rikyrah says:

    Boehner Faces Key Test After GOP Mutiny Over Payroll Tax Cut

    Long, long ago – well, on Friday night to be exact – it looked like a two month extension of the expiring payroll tax cut was on a glide path to passage in both the House and Senate — preventing an automatic tax increase on 160 million workers on January 1 and giving Republicans and Democrats until the end of February to negotiate an extension through the end of 2012.

    But as soon as the deal was announced, House GOP aides privately speculated that the deal wouldn’t fly with the majority of their caucus despite buy in from Speaker John Boehner, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, all of his deputies and the vast majority of Senate Republicans.

    Sure enough, they were right. The deal collapsed in spectacular fashion early Saturday. After passing the Senate with an overwhelming majority, Boehner presented the deal to his members, many of whom — including Boehner’s top lieutenants — rejected it. Sunday morning, he appeared on NBC to declare it dead on arrival.

    The rebellion is a striking rebuke by House conservatives of the party’s leadership. And it throws into doubt whether Congress will be able to renew the payroll tax cut, extended unemployment benefits, and Medicare physician reimbursements in the next two weeks.

    Boehner’s members don’t want to replay this fight in two months — during the height of primary season, when President Obama’s in campaign mode. But that leaves them making several arguments that don’t really pass the smell test: that the Senate payroll tax bill, which was drafted by McConnell and Harry Reid, and received 89 votes, including from such noteworthy liberals as – er – Marco Rubio — is actually a Democratic bill; that the House’s highly partisan bill, which extends the payroll cut for a full year, is an equally viable alternative; and that after a year of operating the government by brinkmanship, and resolving standoffs behind closed doors, that the appropriate way forward now is for party leaders to “conference” the House’s partisan bill with the Senate’s consensus package.

    Despite the implicit slap in the face by House Republicans, McConnell seems to have accepted their demands.

  36. rikyrah says:

  37. rikyrah says:

    Monday, December 19, 2011
    Jeb Bush weighs in…coincidence?

    Perhaps I’m over-reacting, but I find two things that happened today to be very interesting. First of all, Republican heavy-weight Bill Kristol ponders the possibility of a brokered Republican convention (he prefers the word “deliberative”).

    Thus, once every three-quarters of a century or so, the delegates to an American political convention deliberate, and their deliberations produce a notable and impressive outcome. It could happen again in 2012. It could fall to the Republican delegates convening in Tampa, after they have cast their committed first ballot vote and failed to produce a majority for any candidate, to act as a real deliberative convention. It could fall to them to use their judgment to select the best possible nominee for their party and the best possible president for their country.

    It would be exciting. It would be nerve-wracking. It would be unpredictable. It hasn’t happened in quite a while. But it could happen. And it could be a good thing for the Republican party.

    He’s not talking about delegates deliberating about choosing one of the current candidates.

    And a deadlocked convention, which then became a deliberative convention, could be a good thing, because most sentient Republicans, and most conscientious conservatives, suspect we can do better than the current field.

    Almost simultaneously, the long silent Jeb Bush published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. With flowery language, Mr. Bush is basically making a case for the Republican agenda…lower taxes and less government regulation. He casts it all in language about “economic freedom,” which he calls “the right to rise.” But mostly hidden between the lines is the suggestion that we need to let people fail and experience the consequences of their “bad decisions.” In other words, he’s merely parroting the exact same policies of his brother George that got us into this mess in the first place.

    So…is this all just a coincidence? Or is the Republican establishment preparing to offer us a Bush redux? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
    Posted by Smartypants at 7:43 AM

  38. rikyrah says:

    12-19-2011 8:52 AM
    Perry Denies Fracking Causes Pollution

    At an event in Iowa over the weekend, Rick Perry responded to a question about fracking by denying that it caused pollution, reports the Des Moines Register:

    Show me the paper. I am truly offended that the American public would be hoodwinked by stories that do not scientifically holdup. If that was true, it would be on the front page of every newspaper. It would be on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News. Everybody would be running that story.

    As the Register points out, such papers do exist.

  39. rikyrah says:

    December 18, 2011 10:52 PM

    “A Liar Needs a Good Memory”
    By Mark Kleiman

    And Mitt doesn’t have one.

    Steve Benen recites the facts.

    Daniel Larison proposes a theory:

    Romney] 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.

    Larison goes on to propose an alternative theory: ”More likely, he is so contemptuous of the people he tells these lies to that he never thinks he will be found out.” The second theory seem to me exactly half right. Romney has contempt and to spare, but it’s actually for the reporters and editors he relies on not to call him out on his mendacity.

    What explains that lapse? Part of the reason is that (according to a reporter for one of Washington’s major political/journalistic enterprises) the Romney campaign – strikingly unlike the Obama campaign – consistently and explicitly uses access and denial of access to reward and punish favorable and unfavorable stories.

    In other words, if you don’t believe the current lie, Romney won’t tell you another one. If you’re a news outlet, that’s bad for your circulation. If you’re a reporter, it’s bad for your career.

    George W. Bush and Karl Rove proved that you can frame an entire political strategy around the unwillingness of journalists to call a lie a lie. Romney seems to have been their most attentive student.

    Footnote As I’ve said here before, blogging and other punditry – which might be defined as Journalism without Picking Up the Damn Phone – is parasitic on actual reporting. But the Romney case illustrates why we need pundits as well as real reporters. The real reporters sometimes face strong professional pressure not to point out that two plus two does not equal five. Assuming that Romney becomes the nominee, the real reporters and their editors will face a serious test of character. I wish I had more confidence than I do that they will emerge from that test with credit.

  40. rikyrah says:

    TPM News
    North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Il Dies

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack, state media reported on Monday, sparking concern over who is in real control of the nuclear renegade state as his untested youngest son takes over the family dynasty.

    A tearful television announcer, dressed in black and her voice quavering, said the 69-year old iron ruler died on Saturday of “physical and mental over-work” on a train on his way to give field guidance – advice dispensed by the “Dear Leader” on his trips to factories, farms and military bases.

    North Korea’s official KCNA news agency named Kim’s youngest son, Kim Jong-un, as the “Great Successor”, lauding him as “the outstanding leader of our party, army and people”.

    But there was uncertainty about how much support he has among the ruling elite, especially in the military, and worry he might try some military provocation to help establish his credentials.

    “Kim Jong-un is a pale reflection of his father and grandfather. He has not had the decades of grooming and securing of a power base that Jong-il enjoyed before assuming control from his father,” said Bruce Klingner, an Asia policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

    “(He) may feel it necessary in the future to precipitate a crisis to prove his mettle to other senior leaders or deflect attention from the regime’s failings.”

    Video from Chinese state television showed residents weeping in the North Korean capital Pyongyang. KCNA reported people were “writhing in pain” from the loss of the man who in 1994 assumed the leadership of the totalitarian state from his father Kim Il-sung, the North’s first, and officially eternal, president.

  41. rikyrah says:

    December 19, 2011 8:40 AM
    Gingrich bounces off his Iowa ceiling
    By Steve Benen

    Remember, about 10 days ago, when Newt Gingrich was soaring in Iowa, had claimed the national lead, and looked well positioned to win three of the first four nominating contests?

    Well, forget it. The boom-and-bust pattern that has taken down so many Republican presidential candidates appears to be affecting the disgraced former House Speaker, too.

    We saw the first hints of trouble for the Gingrich campaign late last week, and overnight, a new survey from Public Policy Polling confirms that Iowa’s alleged frontrunner has quickly slipped from first to third.

    Newt Gingrich’s campaign is rapidly imploding, and Ron Paul has now taken the lead in Iowa. He’s at 23% to 20% for Mitt Romney, 14% for Gingrich, 10% each for Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry, 4% for Jon Huntsman, and 2% for Gary Johnson.

    Gingrich has now seen a big drop in his Iowa standing two weeks in a row. His share of the vote has gone from 27% to 22% to 14%. And there’s been a large drop in his personal favorability numbers as well from +31 (62/31) to +12 (52/40) to now -1 (46/47). [emphasis added]

    What I find interesting about Gingrich’s precipitous fall is how different it is from the other former frontrunners. Bachmann, Perry, and Cain were each riding high for a short while, but were brought down by self-inflicted wounds — gaffes, awful debate performances, controversial policy positions, and in Cain’s case, sex scandals.

    Gingrich’s collapse is very different. The former Speaker didn’t do anything in particular to derail his chances; he just ran into a buzzsaw he couldn’t control — Gingrich, especially in Iowa, faced a barrage of attack ads, which he lacked the resources to respond to. This coincided with an aggressive push from the Republican establishment to derail Gingrich’s chances.

    This isn’t to say it’s too late for the former Speaker — the caucuses are two weeks from tomorrow — but it looks as if Gingrich hit his ceiling too early, and then quickly bounced off of it. With the PPP poll showing Santorum, Bachmann, and Perry all breaking into double digits in Iowa — the former Speaker is now closer to fourth place than second — it’s going to be very tough for Gingrich to reclaim the momentum.

    Ron Paul, meanwhile, now appears well positioned to actually win the Iowa caucuses. (Let that thought roll around in your brain for a few seconds.) Given Paul’s likely inability to seriously compete in the contests that follow Iowa, and the perception that he isn’t a credible threat for the nomination, Mitt Romney would gladly take this outcome — it would do significant harm to Gingrich’s viability, and make it that much more likely that Romney is the last Republican standing.

  42. rikyrah says:

    December 19, 2011 8:00 AM
    When ‘a done deal’ unravels
    By Steve Benen

    The pieces were in place. Senate leads from both parties agreed to a temporary compromise that looked pretty sensible: Dems would get a two-month extension of the payroll tax break and a clean extension of unemployment benefits, while GOP lawmakers would get an expedited decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. It was quickly approved with overwhelming, bipartisan support, 89 to 10.

    What about the House? Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) noted Saturday, “This is probably a done deal in the House; it should be.” None other than House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) seemed relieved, calling the bipartisan compromise a “good deal” and a “victory.”

    But Boehner then took this victory to his caucus, and as we’ve seen many times before, the Speaker quickly realized his job is to take, not give, orders from his right-wing members.

    The House Republican leader on Sunday flatly rejected a short-term, bipartisan Senate measure to extend a payroll tax break and unemployment insurance, setting the stage for a bitter year-end Congressional collision and the potential loss of benefits for millions of Americans.

    In an interview on “Meet The Press” on NBC, Speaker John A. Boehner said his members broadly opposed the two-month extension that passed the Senate 89 to 10, believing that it would be “just kicking the can down the road.”

    Boehner added, “It’s pretty clear that I and our members oppose the Senate bill.”

    Except, it’s not clear at all. Why is it, exactly, that Boehner called the compromise a “good deal” and a “victory” on Saturday, only to say he opposes the deal on Sunday? For that matter, as recently as Friday, the Speaker said he’d demand an expedited decision on the Keystone XL pipeline as a condition for the payroll break. Democrats agreed to meet the demand, and Boehner’s House Republicans still won’t pass it.

    Indeed, the House will likely take up the Senate deal later today, simply to prove it can’t pass the lower chamber. In the bigger picture, it’s pretty amazing: House Republicans are going to kill a bipartisan compromise on a middle-class tax cut, which just passed the Senate 89 to 10, the week before Christmas.

    It’s worth emphasizing that the GOP’s new demands are coming into focus. Last week, Republicans wanted an expedited decision on Keystone. They got it. This week, Republicans are arguing that the payroll tax break, if it’s extended at all, should be extended for a year, not for two months.

    For the record, I’d be delighted to see a one-year extension, and most congressional Democrats appear to agree. But since there are irreconcilable disagreements over financing, and time is running out, a temporary fix would give everyone some breathing room for additional talks.

    But House Republicans have told their ostensible leader this just won’t do, and the bipartisan agreement that would send everyone home for the holidays has, as the NYT put it, “given way to chaos.”

    If Americans find all of this ridiculous, they should have been a little more careful before the 2010 midterms.

    • Ametia says:

      The GOP are major FAILS; and add absoulutely NOTHING to American’s lives but MISERY. But the willfully ignorant will continue voting for these nitwitted, power hungry, fools.

  43. rikyrah says:


    Willard’s Daddy was BORN IN MEXICO

    But, like John McCain being born in frigging PANAMA…this is never brought up…I wonder why?


    Sunday, December 18, 2011
    Re-Birther Of The Uncool, Part 2
    Posted by Zandar
    The Birthers are at it again, and they will never, ever stop. This time Georgia Republicans are trying to get President Obama removed from the ballot there because TEH BERF CERTIFICUT IS A FAAAAAAAKE!!one!11!

    Georgia State Representative J. Mark Hatfield (R-Waycross) will plead the case before the Office of State Administrative Hearings on behalf of Mr. Kevin R. Powell of Duluth, Georgia, who filed the suit on the grounds that “Obama does not satisfy the ‘natural born Citizen’ requirement of Article II, Section I, Clause 5 of the United States Constitution. Obama’s father, Barack Obama, Sr., was a native of Kenya and a British subject who never became a United States citizen.”

    Presumably the lawsuit does not address the question of the nationality of President Obama’s mother, whose status as a U.S. citizen would confer citizenship upon her son, no matter the nationality of his father.

    The challenge, which Georgia Politico reports is styled “Kevin Richard Powell v. Barack Obama,” was submitted to Secretary Kemp’s office on November 28, and has been referred to the State Office of Administrative Hearings for further action.

    And this nonsense will continue in state after state, continuing to eat away at the President’s credibility and his authority, all because millions of “patriotic Americans” will never accept we have a black President. Ever. It simply doesn’t apply to “him”.

    How does any GOP candidate win the nomination without bowing down to this idiocy? Several of them already have, and you’re crazy if you think Romney can win without doing so.

  44. rikyrah says:

    Sunday, December 18, 2011
    Last Call
    Posted by Zandar

    Looks like the two-month payroll tax extension hashed out in the Senate on Friday was never going to pass the House in the first place as Orange Julius completely changes his tune.

    Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said today that House Republicans oppose the Senate bill to extend for two months the payroll tax holiday and other measures, setting up a major legislative clash a week before Christmas.

    A day after the Senate approved a hard-fought compromise and then adjourned for the year, the Speaker made clear in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that House Republicans will put forward their own bill instead. The House is set to reconvene Monday and could vote on the Senate bill and a House counterproposal by Tuesday.

    “It’s pretty clear that I and our Members oppose the Senate bill,” Boehner said. “How can you do tax policy for two months? We believe it’s time for the Senate to work with the House to complete our business for the year.”

    Boehner suggested the House and Senate could resolve their differences in a Conference Committee if the Senate declines to support the path forward favored by House Republicans. The legislation involves an extension of the payroll tax holiday, set to expire Dec. 31; continuing unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless; and stopping a scheduled pay cut to doctors who treat Medicare patients.

    Translation: Oh no you don’t, we’re going to get everything we want now or else the Middle Class gets it. That’s why it was vitally important to have the deal worked out in the Senate first, a deal that passed overwhelmingly. 89-10. On Saturday, Boehner called the Senate plan a “good deal” and a “victory”. 24 hours later, he opposes it and promises it will get voted down.

    The Tea Party nutjobs in the House will burn 160 million Americans to get what the 1% want.

  45. rikyrah says:

    Monday, December 19, 2011
    Strange Definition Of “Not Hating”
    Posted by Zandar
    Michele Bachmann doesn’t hate Muslims, she just wants to compare them to Nazi Germany as the greatest threat to America right now.

    Fox News host Mike Huckabee told Bachmann Saturday that he had never seen her act like she hated Muslims.

    “You never have because I never have said anything that foolish,” Bachmann explained. “What I believe is that I love the American people and I love this country, and I want this country to be safe, sovereign and free.”

    “Let’s address that specific allegation that you hate Muslims,” Huckabee pressed. “Do you hate Muslims?”

    “Of course not,” Bachmann insisted. “I don’t hate Muslims. It’s outrageous to say that, but I do recognize that we have a very real threat. Just like when Hitler was building up the threat prior to World War II. All of the signs were there and they were evident, and there were people that wanted to bury their heads in the sand.”

    So if we just rounded them up and put them in internment camps, I’m sure we’d be fine or something, right, Michele? Just awesome.

  46. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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