Wednesday Open Thread

Silver Bells” is a classic Christmas song, composed by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. The lyric is unusual for a Christmas song in that it describes the festival in the city and not a rural setting.

Silver Bells was first performed by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in the motion picture The Lemon Drop Kid, filmed in July-August 1950 and released in March 1951.[1] The first recorded version was by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards, released by Decca Records in October 1950.[2] After the Crosby and Richards recording became popular, Hope and Maxwell were called back in late 1950 to refilm a more elaborate production of the song.[1]

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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80 Responses to Wednesday Open Thread

  1. Pingback: Afternoon Open Thread - Jack & Jill Politics

  2. The Raw Story:

    Maddow slaps down Palin over Obama Christmas cards

  3. “Any President Mr. Romney? Really?”

    • Mitt Romney,

      Stop your damn hateful lies! Any President would NOT have made that gutsy call to take out Osama Bin Laden. President Barack Hussein Obama got him. Not one US soldier lost their life. This President made a brilliant call. Deal with your own got damn insecurities. President Obama OWN this and you or no other CAC will take it from him.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Baratunde was on Last Word tonight.

  5. rikyrah says:

    GOP Playing into Obama’s Hands
    by BooMan
    Wed Dec 21st, 2011 at 09:30:49 PM EST

    The president went shopping at PetSmart today with his dog. He got him a chew toy. He didn’t get one for himself because John Boehner is already serving that purpose. The administration is putting Boehner through the wood-chipper.
    Here’s the goal.

    1. Make it clear to as many people as possible that the Republicans are so radical that they can’t govern their own caucus, let alone the country.
    2. Destroy the Republicans strongest and only remaining brand advantage: tax cuts.
    3. Split the Republicans into factions so that Mitt Romney doesn’t know how to answer simple questions about where he stands because there is no longer one talking point he can rely on.
    4. Make the Republicans’ most powerful politician look like a fool and set him up to be cannibalized by his own backbenchers during the heat of a campaign.

    It’s all going quite well at the moment.

  6. rikyrah says:

    HBO Releases ‘Game Change’ TrailerBy Alex Weprin on December 21, 2011 5:05 PMAs we have covered before, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin is among those portrayed in the high-profile HBO movie “Game Change,” which will debut on the pay cabler in March.

    This afternoon HBO released a teaser trailer, featuring the first look at Ed Harris as Sen. John McCain, Woody Harrelson as McCain adviser Steve Schmidt, and Julianne Moore as Palin (also check out the “Lou Dobbs Tonight” reference):

  7. rikyrah says:

    Too Early To Chill The Champagne, But Action to Overturn Citizens United Heats Up
    By Joanne Boyer, cross-posted at Wisdom Voices)

    The hustle and bustle of the holidays, the background noise of the GOP presidential debates and before you know it, you’ve missed a story that takes root in the month of December. It’s the time of year when it’s pretty easy to lose track of some noteworthy news items, no matter how many aggregated news services or web sites you monitor.

    I took note the last few weeks on what seemed like an unusually high amount of activity around the topic of a constitutional amendment to overturn the horrendous Supreme Court Citizens United decision. It was as though every day brought another mention of someone doing something.

    Back in August when I talked with John Bonifaz of Free Speech for People, the idea of amending the constitution seemed – at best – as if it would happen during my grand children’s lifetime. The road would be long and filled with incredibly hard work and organization. A constitutional amendment in my life time? It seemed a long shot. But take a look at this – all of which has come about in the last 6-8 weeks.

    “There has been a flurry of activity,” Bonifaz said emphatically in a recent phone interview. “I believe the public is behind this idea and is ready to restore democracy to the people. Members in congress are starting to hear from their constituents about the need to do this.

    “I am thrilled. Obviously the Occupy Movement has helped and I think people are realizing this is a very special moment in our history – that the time is now to create the change the country so desperately needs.”

    For your review, I offer the following:

  8. rikyrah says:

    Romney: Deport Obama’s Uncle!

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday joined Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Steve King in making political hay out of the August arrest of President Barack Obama’s uncle on DUI charges.

    Romney — who’s been getting hammered by Democrats over his “for Pete’s sake” response to a previous question on immigration — didn’t seem to know what Boston radio host Howie Carr was talking about when he brought up Onyango Obama’s arrest during an interview, ABC reports. “Who is Uncle Omar, Howie?” Romney asked.

    Once Howie explained, Romney said “the answer is ‘yes.’”

    “Well, if the laws of the United States say he should be deported, and I presume they do, then of course we should follow those laws,” Romney said, according to ABC. “And the answer is ‘yes.’”

  9. rikyrah says:

    I do crack up when Maddow goes all in about Orange Julius being a horrible Speaker. She was the first one to point it out, and it’s so much fun when she does it.

  10. Ametia says:

    The Lethal Fantasies Of Dear Old Ron Paul

    The latest evidence of simmering racial resentment on the American political fringe showed up Monday in a Facebook post by a California man who urged the assassination of the President and his two daughters in obscene, racist language. Aside from the Secret Service, there was little reason for most of us to pay attention to this sick boob — except that he was identified as a local political leader of the Tea Party and an avid supporter of Rep. Ron Paul, the Texas Republican who now seems likely to place first in the Iowa presidential caucuses.
    To those who have followed Dr. Paul’s long career as a failed presidential candidate — these campaigns have become a family business — the appearance of yet another racist nutjob in his orbit is scarcely news. The newsletters that earned millions of dollars for him from gullible subscribers over the decades were often soiled with vile invectives against blacks and other minorities. He is a perennial favorite of the John Birch Society and kindred extremists on the right. He once refused to return a donation from a leader of the Nazi-worshipping skinheads in the Stormfront movement.
    What is it about the kindly old doctor that attracts some of the most violent and reactionary elements in society to his banner?

  11. Republicans are attempting to remove Barack Obama from Georgia’s Presidential Ballot in 2012.!/notes/democratic-party-of-georgia/republicans-are-attempting-to-remove-barack-obama-from-georgias-presidential-bal/317118931642875

    Republicans are attempting to remove Barack Obama from Georgia’s Presidential Ballot in 2012.

    Five separate lawsuits ( have been filed to PREVENT President Obama from being on the 2012 ballot. While their arguments are foolish, it still requires a vigorous defense in the Georgia judicial system.

    If successful, Georgia would be the ONLY state to *not* have the President on the November ballot.

    Democrats can’t allow our state to be America’s laughing stock. We have to fight these lawsuits, two of which are being represented by a sitting state legislator in the State Capitol.

    We are putting together the finest legal team in the state to stop these political tricks. We must defend the President against these attacks that could remove him from the Presidential ballot in November.

    We need your help. These lawsuits divert precious resources from our goal of turning Georgia blue in 2012.

    Here’s what you can do.



  12. President Barack Obama and his dog Bo visit with a poodle named Cinnamon as they check out at PetSmart, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011, in Alexandria, Va. Obama bought the presidential pup a toy bone and a bag of food while Bo played in the store with Cinnamon.

  13. President Barack Obama and his dog Bo visit with a poodle named Cinnamon as they check out at PetSmart, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011, in Alexandria, Va.

  14. rikyrah says:

    December 21, 2011 3:45 PM
    ‘History is made’ on mercury emissions
    By Steve Benen

    It’s not uncommon for the Obama administration to do something worthwhile. Once in a while, though, the administration does something very worthwhile that will have a major impact on society.

    Dave Roberts has a helpful piece today on the EPA’s new national standards for mercury pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants — the first of their kind — which he described as “a Big Deal” and an instance in which “history is being made.”

    Finally controlling mercury and toxics will be an advance on par with getting lead out of gasoline. It will save tens of thousands of lives every year and prevent birth defects, learning disabilities, and respiratory diseases. It will make America a more decent, just, and humane place to live. […]

    [T]his is an historic day and a real step forward for the forces of civilization. It’s the beginning of the end of one of the last of the old-school, 20th-century air pollution problems…. Long after everyone has forgotten who “won the morning” in the fight over these rules, or what effect they had on Obama’s electoral chances, the rule’s legacy will live on in a healthier, happier American people.

    Roberts refers to public health, and it’s worth emphasizing just how expansive a difference this is likely to make.

    EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson explained in a statement, “By cutting emissions that are linked to developmental disorders and respiratory illnesses like asthma, these standards represent a major victory for clean air and public health — and especially for the health of our children. With these standards that were two decades in the making, EPA is rounding out a year of incredible progress on clean air in America with another action that will benefit the American people for years to come. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will protect millions of families and children from harmful and costly air pollution and provide the American people with health benefits that far outweigh the costs of compliance.”

    When we talk about separates a Democratic administration from a Republican one, there are no greater reminders about the differences than measures like these.

    If recent history is any guide, this encouraging news won’t get quite as much attention as it deserves, and that’s a shame. Obama’s critics on the left expect developments like these, and don’t make a fuss to congratulate the administration for progress they’d like to be routine. Obama’s critics on the right generally want to avoid pro-pollution pronouncements, so they ignore news like this.

    Regardless, whether it generates headlines and/or political chatter or not, these new regulatory steps are a breakthrough.

  15. rikyrah says:

    21 Dec 2011 03:15 PM

    Mitt Romney Is A Big Fat Liar

    One of the advantages of having put your soul on eBay is that it frees you up. You can say anything to anyone, and feel no consequences. You can go from promising to be more pro-gay than Ted Kennedy to backing an amendment to the Constitution permanently putting gays into second class status. You can go from calling yourself “progressive” to “the most conservative candidate in this race.” And you also can repeat in increasingly crude terms the notion that this president is some kind of anti-American, far-left ideologue determined to turn 21st Century America into Eastern Europe c. 1978 … and pretend that this is the actual debate we are having and that this is the universe we are living in. Given the alternative galaxies proferred by Roger Ailes, any other narrative might prove confusing for the true believers, I suppose. But if you want to read a long list of the whoppers that Romney has been touting, check out Sargent.

    This is a lie:

    Roosevelt believed that government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities. President Obama believes that government should create equal outcomes.

    I hereby challenge Romney to cite a single case or action in which president Obama has said he believes that government should enforce equal outcomes in the workplace or the economy or anywhere else. His signature policy in education is called “Race To The Top”, for Pete’s sake. He chose to extend the Bush tax cuts. He has actually cut Medicare and taxes on a majority of Americans. The idea that at a time when the debt is soaring the wealthy might be asked to contribute their fair share to balancing the buget is not Marxist. It’s something the most right-wing economic government in the West, Britain’s Conservative Party, has insisted upon.

    One other little contrast to reveal the extent of Romney’s deception. Here’s a recent debate riff:

    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.

    Again, I hereby demand from the Romney campaign direct evidence that the president has ever said or done something that can back up this ludicrous assertion of backing a foreign country over one’s own. It’s a lie. And, by the way, here is the president in this year’s State of the Union:

    You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China is not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany is not waiting. India is not waiting. These nations — they’re not standing still. These nations aren’t playing for second place. They’re putting more emphasis on math and science. They’re rebuilding their infrastructure. They’re making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs. Well, I do not accept second place for the United States of America.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Obama Tells Boehner No Negotiations, Vote On The Senate Bill
    President Obama phoned Speaker John Boehner today and informed him that there will be no negotiations on a longer payroll tax cut extension until after he passes the Senate bill.

    From the White House

    Today, the President made separate calls to Speaker Boehner and Leader Reid. In his call to Speaker Boehner, the President reiterated the need and his commitment to work with Congress to extend the payroll tax cut for the entire year, and the fact that the short-term bipartisan compromise passed by almost the entire Senate is the only option to ensure that middle class families aren’t hit with a tax hike in 10 days and gives both sides the time needed to work out a full year solution. The President urged the Speaker to take up the bipartisan compromise passed in the Senate with overwhelming Democratic and Republican support that would prevent 160 million working Americans from being hit with a holiday tax hike on January 1st.

    The President also spoke with Leader Reid and again applauded him for the work he conducted with Minority Leader McConnell to achieve a successful bipartisan compromise that passed overwhelmingly in the Senate on Saturday, and Senator Reid reaffirmed his commitment to secure a bipartisan year long tax cut after the House passes the two month extension. The President urged the Speaker to allow a vote on the one compromise that Democrats and Republicans passed together to give the American people the assurance they need during this holiday season that they won’t see a significant tax hike in just 10 days.

    Obama made it clear to Boehner and the tea party that the Senate is not coming back, there will be no negotiations, and there won’t be a longer extension until the House passes the Senate. When Boehner wouldn’t allow the Senate bill to come to the floor for an up or down vote, he made it clear to everyone that he thinks he would lose an up or down vote. The House doesn’t have the votes needed to reject the Senate bill. Odds are that if it were voted on, the House would pass the two month extension.

    The tea party has taken another hostage, but it isn’t Obama or the U.S. Senate. The hostage this time is the Republican Party. The mentality of the tea party caucus was best expressed by Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) when he said on Fox News, “This is a ‘Braveheart’ moment. You, Mr. Speaker, are our William Wallace.”

    What the tea party is doing to the Republican Party is less Braveheart and more kamikaze. Since the Senate left town, the House’s usual hostage taking tactics are not going to work this time. Obama is not going to make the Senate return to Washington. Reid is not going to appoint conferees. No one is going to help Boehner out of the mess that he created this time.

    Boehner created a crisis within his own party, and he is going to have to find his own way out of it. The Republican Party is panicking because they see their 2012 election hopes vanishing right before their very eyes. The House tea party Republicans are in the process of both getting Obama reelected and giving the Democrats control of the House.

    John Boehner only has two options. He can allow an up or down vote on the Senate bill or he can raise taxes on 160 million Americans.

    The choice is his, but either way Obama has already won.

  17. Holder: Obama Will Issue Signing Statement With NDAA Detention Rules

    Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed speculation Wednesday that President Barack Obama would issue a signing statement when he makes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and its controversial detention provisions law.

    “We made really substantial progress in moving from something that was really unacceptable to the administration to something with which we still have problems,” Holder said in response to a question from the Wall Street Journal’s Evan Perez. “But I think through these procedures, with these regulations we will be crafting, we can minimize the problems that will actually affect us in an operational way.”

    Holder said the language of the NDAA had been moved in a “substantial way” from some of the original language which led the president to issue a veto threat.

    “So we are in a better place, I think the regulations, procedures that will help, and we’ll also have a singing statement from the president” which will help clarify how they view the law, Holder said.

  18. Ametia says:

    Bank of America will pay $335 million to settle federal claims that its Countrywide unit discriminated against minority borrowers, Justice Department officials announced.
    Attorney General Eric Holder said a federal probe found discrimination against 200,000 qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers from 2004 to 2008 during the height of the housing market boom. He said minority borrowers who qualified for prime loans were steered into higher interest rate subprime loans.
    Bank of America purchased Countrywide in 2008 for $4 billion in a deal that made the bank the nation’s leading mortgage lender at the time. The deal closed in July 2008 ahead of the meltdown in financial markets that fall.

  19. rikyrah says:

  20. rikyrah says:

    December 21, 2011 2:45 PM
    Romney’s layoffs move towards center stage
    By Steve Benen

    I’ve been wondering for months why Mitt Romney’s Republican rivals weren’t going after the former governor’s vulture-capitalist record. It turns out, they were just waiting until crunch time.

    To briefly review, Romney got very rich running a private-equity firm, Bain Capital, which broke up companies and laid off American workers. He had considerable success orchestrating leveraged buyouts, seeking taxpayer subsidies, flipping companies quickly for large profits, and making money for investors “even when companies slid into bankruptcy.” Romney, it turns out, is still making millions from the firm he left more than a decade ago.

    This is starting to matter. Newt Gingrich took a shot at the Bain record last week; Rick Perry’s campaign has a new spot slamming Romney for “making millions … laying off workers”; and Jon Huntsman’s campaign is following highlighting all the New Hampshire workers who lost their jobs because Romney, at least indirectly, fired them.

    This coincides with a very tough AP article, published on Monday, noting the hundreds of layoffs Romney’s firm orchestrated in South Carolina, creating lots of profits for Romney and his investors.

    Don’t worry, Romney is aware of all of this — his work at Bain helped derail his Senate campaign in the ’90s — and he has a response ready: his critics are probably communists.

    We got our first hint on Sunday, when Romney told Fox News “there’s going to be every effort to put free enterprise on trial.” The Republican candidate was more explicit talking to MSNBC’s Joe Scaborough yesterday:

    “That is the nature of free enterprise. If someone thinks they can find a way that every enterprise that one invests in becomes successful, all are successful, why, they are not living in a free enterprise system. They are living in a system like the old Soviet Union where the government insists that everybody adds employment every year, and ultimately the economy suggests that the people become poorer.

    “I believe that free enterprise works and I believe that other models have been proven to be failures time and time again. And I was surprised to have Newt Gingrich pick up the story line that came from Barack Obama and the DNC and go on the attack against free enterprise.”

    Got that? If anyone in either party has a problem with Romney’s style of ruthless, job-killing business tactics, those critics, he argues, simply don’t accept capitalism. (For the record, the president never “attacked” free enterprise, and he regularly emphasizes that the free market is the greatest engine of economic prosperity in human history. Romney is lying.)

    Nevertheless, in Mitt Romney’s eyes, President Obama, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and Jon Huntsman might as well be Fidel Castro.

    I have no idea if mainstream voters will find this persuasive, but if they have any sense at all, they shouldn’t.

  21. rikyrah says:

    December 21, 2011 2:05 PM
    Why Boehner wants a conference committee
    By Steve Benen

    So far, we’ve seen the payroll tax-break fight play out in a variety of steps. The first was House Republicans passing a ridiculous, right-wing extension of the tax policy, filled with extremist goodies that necessarily made the bill a non-starter. The second was the Senate approving a temporary, bipartisan compromise.

    The third, of course, came yesterday when House Republicans rejected the bipartisan compromise and said they wanted a conference committee to reconcile the two bills.

    It’s quickly looking like the conference committee itself is at the heart of the GOP strategy, such as it is. It’s worth taking a moment to consider why.

    Yesterday, Major Garrett reported House Republicans might approve the Senate agreement if Senate Democrats agreed to a conference committee on “a full, one-year payroll tax extension with spending cut offsets by Feb. 1.” Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) effectively offered House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that deal: pass the bipartisan deal and policymakers can get to work on “negotiations on a longer extension.”

    Time will tell if the House GOP can accept this — at this point, it’s tough to guess — but what’s with all this conference-committee talk?

    To offer a quick refresher since they’ve become quite rare in recent years, conference committees have historically been used to bridge the gap between similar-but-distinct versions of the same bill that have already passed the House and Senate. It works a bit like the recently-disbanded “super committee” — members of both parties and both chambers work out a bill that’s then sent to the floors for congressional approval. In the case of the payroll-cut policy, Boehner figures there are two competing versions, so he wants a conference committee to work it out.

    As a practical matter — the policy expires in 10 days — sending the policy to a conference committee for an extended debate is killing the bill. But there’s more to it than that. Referencing a piece from Sarah Binder, Ezra Klein had a good take on this earlier.

    [I]nsisting on a conference committee serves three purposes for Boehner. First, it offloads the compromises on a coalition of negotiators who come from different wings of the House Republicans. That protects Boehner in the final agreement. Second, it creates a procedural argument that distracts from the underlying disagreement: House Republicans won’t want to extend the payroll tax cut except in the absence of extraordinary policy concessions, like the immediate greenlighting of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Third, it lets Boehner spend some time standing up to the Senate and the president who are trying to rush a compromise through the House — a move that perhaps gives him some political capital he can spend on the ultimate compromise, as he’ll have proven to House Republicans that he didn’t capitulate at the first sign of pressure.

    Ultimately, the conference committee would inevitably fail, just as every recent bipartisan committee has failed, and for the same reasons — Republicans don’t want to compromise.

    And when it did, Boehner could have an excuse to avoid responsibility, and the media would feel obligated to tell the public that “both sides” failed to reach an acceptable compromise. Since Republicans don’t want to extend the payroll tax break anyway, it’s the best of all possible worlds — middle-class taxes would go up, the economy would get worse, and Republicans would share the blame with Democrats

  22. rikyrah says:

    Romney Refuses To Take Position On Payroll Tax Holiday
    By Alex Seitz-Wald on Dec 21, 2011 at 10:30 am

    In two TV interviews today, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney refused to take a stance on the biggest issue in Washington today: the extension of the payroll tax holiday. A huge bipartisan majority in the Senate passed a two-month extension of the cut, but the House rejected that yesterday.

    A number of Republican senators have slammed House Republicans for blocking the extension, but on Fox News this morning, Romney wouldn’t say whether he sided with the House or Senate, dismissing the issue as an “internal battle.” “I’d like to see this payroll tax holiday extended,” Romney said, without saying for how long.

    Later, on MSNBC, Romney downplayed the debate as being “deep in the weeds.” He offered only platitudes about hoping that the House and Senate “come together” to “get the job done.” “I’m not going to throw gasoline on what is already a fire,” he added. Watch it:

    While Romney won’t take a side in the debate, at least he now acknowledges that the payroll tax cut needs to be extended. Previously, he had dismissed it as just a “temporary little Band-Aid.”

  23. rikyrah says:

    Is This The Moment The GOP Implodes?

    These things happen quite quickly in the public’s mind. An event crystallizes an inchoate general feeling, and gives it clarity. I think of the moment Gingrich threw a hissy-fit about his seat on Airforce One; or the moment when Americans first saw Bill Clinton sitting for a taped deposition, and changed sides almost instantly.

    The House Republicans have now all but guaranteed that taxes will go up on middle-class Americans because of what they themselves have called “high stakes poker.” And this moment may as well sum up why Americans despise this Congress as deeply as they do:

    Yep, he is literally walking away – giving Hoyer a perfect moment for the rhetorical slam-dunk.

    For the GOP to vote down sustaining a tax cut – after a huge majority in the Senate and president had both signed off – and to stalk off into the Christmas vacation leaving a struggling workforce in the lurch … well, it’s a novel form of politicking, don’t you think? I understand why this two-month extension is a joke, but again, that simply reveals the poker game attitude of the House GOP, refusing to do what they wouldn’t even think twice about of a Republican president asked. They hate Obama so much they are willing to raise taxes! Think how deep the derangement must then go.

    If you wonder why Obama is slowly rising again, I’d look less to his own smart re-framing of the issues than to the utter fecklessness of the opposition party. The circus of the primaries and the farce of the House will not leave the public consciousness very soon.

  24. rikyrah says:

    Huntsman Camp Slams Bain Layoffs In New Hampshire

    It’s officially open season on Romney’s Bain Capital days in the Republican primary. On Wednesday, Jon Huntsman’s campaign became the latest to accuse the private equity firm Romney co-founded of cruelly laying off workers.

    In a conference call with reporters, Huntsman supporters in New Hampshire described the pain of watching dozens of their neighbors lose their jobs as a a factory owned by Holson Burnes Group Inc. was trimmed and then closed entirely after being taken over by Bain Capital, which ended up making an impressive profit off the company as many of its operations were moved overseas.

    “The people who worked there, people who were laid off, the final 37 [workers] we had to deliver the news to, they where constituents, they were families,” former Claremont Mayor Scott Pope said. “They had hopes and dreams.”

    Huntsman’s hardly a blue collar populist — he’s a second-generation billionaire and his economic proposals are among the most regressive in the field — but his backers contrasted his father’s manufacturing business with Romney’s investment work.

    “A lot of the folks that I represent can’t identify with Wall Street corporate raiders or decisions made at that level,” Grantham, NH Chamber of Commerce president Don Gobin said. He added that Huntsman “grew a family business with him and his brothers with real products.”

    A spokesman for the Romney campaign, Andrea Saul, indicated to TPM that Huntsman’s attacks were playing into Democrats’ hands.

    “President Obama and his friends on the left are continuing their attacks on the free enterprise system – and by attacking the free enterprise they are willingly dividing Americans,” Saul said. “Mitt Romney has a quarter-century of experience working with entrepreneurs and real businesses in the real economy. With years of private sector experience and a comprehensive plan for our economy, Mitt Romney is the conservative candidate who can beat Barack Obama and ensure America remains a merit-based society, not an entitlement society.”

    The Holson Burnes story, which also included deep layoffs in South Carolina, is a good example of the kinds of cases that Republican rivals and Democrats alike are looking to use against Romney. Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich have both attacked Romney over downsizing at Bain in recent weeks. Romney rebutted critics on Tuesday by suggesting that they exhibited a basic ignorance of free market principles.

  25. rikyrah says:

    Dems Redouble Efforts To Break House GOP Will On Payroll Tax Cut

    Brian Beutler- December 21, 2011, 1:48 PM

    With Republicans so perilously on the ropes, Democrats aren’t relenting in their push to break House GOP leaders’ will, and force them to pass the Senate’s payroll tax cut compromise. Not in the White House, not in the House, not in the Senate.

    On a conference call with reporters this morning, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — joined by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) — called on John Boehner to wave the white flag.

    “This is the end of the road,” Schumer said. “The first thing that they have to do to show their good faith is pass the two-month extension…. I feel for Speaker Boehner because I know he didn’t choose this path. But they’re pretty far down a dead-end path.”

    For the first time in recent memory, that’s the same thing the House GOP is hearing from House Dems and the Obama administration. President Obama called Boehner this morning and told him to pass the Senate’s payroll tax cut compromise “to ensure that middle class families aren’t hit with a tax hike in 10 days,” per a White House readout.

    Reid echoed this sentiment in a letter to Reid. “Once the House of Representatives acts on this immediate extension, we will be able to sit down and complete negotiations on a longer extension,” he said. “But because we have a responsibility to assure middle-class families that their taxes will not go up while we work out our differences, we must pass this immediate extension first.”

  26. rikyrah says:

    December 21, 2011 1:50 PM
    House GOP loses another ally in tax fight
    By Steve Benen

    When the Senate voted over the weekend on its bipartisan payroll-tax-cut compromise, it passed 89 to 10. One of the 10 was Sen. Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee.

    Corker’s concerns had nothing to do with procedures or timetables; he simply doesn’t want there to be a payroll tax break. He’s heard the warnings about the economic impacts, and he knows it would shrink the paychecks of 160 million Americans, but Corker thinks it’s a bad idea anyway.

    It’s noteworthy, then, that Corker has decided it’s time for his party to give in and move on.

    Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Wednesday that Republicans are losing the public relations battle over a payroll tax cut extension and should find a way to extend the tax holiday and move on.

    “Are Republicans getting killed now in public opinion? There’s no question,” Corker said Wednesday on CNBC.

    “Both Republicans and Democrats have agreed that this is going to happen and probably the best thing to happen now is just to get it over with — one more policy blunder — but just get it over with and move on because now it’s been framed as a tax increase which it’s not,” he said.

    John McCain thinks the fight is hurting the Republican Party. The Wall Street Journal editorial board is mocking House Republicans for “managing to lose the tax issue” to President Obama. At least a dozen GOP lawmakers sided yesterday with Democrats on what has to happen now. And now today, one of the leading conservative senators who agrees with House Republicans has said it’s time for the GOP to bite the bullet and pass the damn extension.

    Time will tell how this will (or won’t) work out over the next 10 days, but if Republicans think they’re winning, they’re not paying close enough attention.

  27. US President Barack Obama holds onto the Obama family dog, Bo (L), as he plays with another customer’s dog while at Pet Smart in Alexandria, Virginia, December 21, 2011.

  28. US President Barack Obama (C) speaks with a clerk as he shops for a Christmas bone for the Obama family dog, Bo, while at Pet Smart in Alexandria, Virginia, December 21, 2011.

  29. U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shops for Christmas presents with his dog Bo at Petsmart on December 21, 2011 in Alexandria, Virginia. President Obama called on House Speaker Rep. John A. Boehner (R-OH) on to urge him again to allow a vote on a Senate-passed measure that would extend a payroll tax holiday for two months.

  30. President Obama shopping at Best Buy in Alexandria, VA

  31. White House says President Obama called both Speaker Boehner and Sen Harry Reid to talk about payroll tax cut

  32. Hat tip: Synchronicity

    Marvin Gaye – I want to come home for christmas

  33. rikyrah says:

    Watch GOPer Literally Walk Out On Dem Attempt To Push Payroll Tax Cut

    While Republican leaders gathered in Speaker John Boehner’s Capitol office Wednesday morning for a photo op with reporters — hectoring Democrats and making the case that they’re on the right side of the payroll tax fight — an unusual scene played out on the House floor.

    In an attempt to illustrate just who’s at fault for the payroll tax stalemate Minority Whip Steny Hoyer showed up to ask for a vote on the Senate’s compromise bill. Republicans could have simply objected and given Hoyer his talking point. Instead they gave him so much more.

    Republicans just ignored Hoyer and refused to hear his unanimous consent request. The fill-in Speaker simply walked away.

    “Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask for unanimous consent that we bring up the bill to extend the tax cut to 160 million Americans, as you walk off the floor Mr. Speaker, you’re walking away, just as so many Republicans have walked away from middle-class tax payers, the unemployed, and very frankly as well from those who will be seeking medical assistance from their doctors — 48 million senior citizens.”

    The Speaker Pro Temp, Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), was just following orders. But the optics for Republicans — who were, again, just down the hall for a media spray — were terrible.

  34. rikyrah says:

    For those who tweet, please tweet about what $40/week means to you.

    Or, to go, and tell them.

    that’s REAL MONEY they want to take away from folks.

  35. rikyrah says:

    Brave sir Braveheart bravely ran away
    by Tim F.

    Apparently the House GOP are still refining on their strategy to manage the payroll tax cut debacle.

    If a Republican represents your district in the House, he or she would probably prefer that you did not phone their office and pile on the misery.

    Find your Congresscritter here.

    Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

  36. Latino Vet Injured In Arpaio’s Jail Dies

    • rikyrah says:

      he’s been doing evil for so long…but the arc of justice always comes. he’s been hurting Brown people for quite awhile….but, his evil finally caught up with him.

      they killed a Brown VETERAN….and they are gonna get ‘ em.

  37. rikyrah says:

    December 21, 2011 11:30 AM
    Obama’s Rising Poll Numbers: The Dog-That-Didn’t-Bark Factor
    By Paul Glastris

    As Steve noted yesterday there are plenty of reasons why, going into the Christmas break, Barack Obama is looking surprisingly strong politically. The economy is slowly improving. The troops are out of Iraq. The agenda in Washington has shifted — largely as the result of the president’s own speeches — from debt-reduction to job creation. And the House Republicans have insanely positioned themselves on the wrong side of the payroll tax cut.

    But there’s another reason to consider, a sort of dog-that-didn’t-bark factor. As Jonathan Alter explains in his recent Washington Monthly cover story, Obama has gone longer than any recent president without a significant scandal on his watch. Alter predicted that if this record continues it could have a real effect on the president’s reelection chances. I think we may already be seeing signs of that effect.

    As recently as a month ago, congressional Republicans seemed confident that they could ensnare Obama in high-profile investigations of various “scandals” — the Solyndra bankruptcy, the Fast and Furious fiasco. But those investigations mostly fizzled without producing any really damning evidence against the White House or Obama personally, and they certainly never captured the nation’s attention. Meanwhile, the GOP presidential race became a virtual TV mini-series of real scandals, from accusations of sexual harassment and adultery against Herman Cain to new revelations about Newt Gingrich (a lucrative “historian” gig with Freddy Mac) to go with the old ones (adultery, congressional ethics violations). I don’t know that there’s any way to prove it, but it seems possible to me that some part of the president’s rising poll numbers is the result of the characterological contrast between him and certain Republican frontrunners.

    Alter’s cover story is a great example of the kind of work we aspire to produce — smart, well-reported, and ahead of the pack. You probably know Alter from his long career as a Newsweek columnist, his regular appearances on MSNBC, and his best-selling books. What you might not know is that he got his start as an editor at the Washington Monthly. About his time here, he writes:

    Working at the Washington Monthly was my most important experience in journalism. It taught me how to think deeply about politics and government and write in a way that—when I’m doing my job—is compelling and even entertaining for readers. And I’ve never worked harder or had more fun. Newsweek and MSNBC were anti-climactic.

    If you value the kind of journalism you find here, including this blog, now’s your chance to support it. We’re in the midst of our annual year-end fundraising drive, so click here and contribute whatever you can — $10, $20, $30, $50. We’re a non-profit outfit so your donations to the Monthly are tax-deductible. Your support is vital, and much appreciated.

  38. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 11:13 AM ET, 12/21/2011
    Harry Reid to John Boehner: Game over.
    By Greg Sargent

    Don’t look now, but it really does look as if Dems just may hold the line in the payroll tax cut fight. With House Republicans calling on Senate Dems to reopen negotiations over the Senate bill temporarily extending the tax cut, Harry Reid has now sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner firmly rebuffing the demand.

    Reid also offers Boehner a deal that he’ll have a very hard time refusing: Reid says he’s willing to sit down and negotiate over the terms of the one-year extension — but only if the House GOP passes the shorter-term extension first. Here’s the letter:

    Dear Speaker Boehner,

    Our respective chambers have been seeking for weeks to negotiate a year-long extension of the payroll tax cut for middle-class families, as well as unemployment benefits and Medicare payments for physicians.

    You and I agree that this should be our goal. But as these weeks have made clear, there remain differences between our parties over how to fund and implement these programs that will take longer then a few days to reconcile.

    Recognizing this reality, eighty-nine Republican and Democratic senators came together to agree to a short-term extension of these programs. As you requested when we met last Wednesday, Senator McConnell and I worked together to find this common ground. Once the House of Representatives acts on this immediate extension, we will be able to sit down and complete negotiations on a longer extension. But because we have a responsibility to assure middle-class families that their taxes will not go up while we work out our differences, we must pass this immediate extension first.

    As the Senate vote made clear, there is no reason for this to be a partisan issue. I am fully confident that we can work out our differences and find common ground on a year-long extension. But in the meantime, families should not have to worry that they will wake up to a tax increase on January 1, 2012.

    To provide middle-class families the certainty they deserve, I urge you to reconvene the House to act on the Senate’s bipartisan compromise as soon as possible.

    Sincerely, Senator Harry Reid

    Reid responds to the House GOP argument that a one-year extension is necessary by pointing out that Boehner himself appointed Mitch McConnell as his negotiator to find a solution with Dems, and by noting that the solution they found passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. Reid also tells Boehner he’s fully prepared to negotiate over the one-year extension the House GOP wants, but that in the name of giving middle class families tax relief and “certainty” (a favorite GOP buzzword) those talks won’t happen until House Republicans relent and pass the short term extension.

    Relatedly, there’s another reason that big Wall Street Journal editorial excoriating Republicans is so important: It makes it more likely that Dems will hold the line until the GOP buckles. Between the Journal editorial, and the mounting number of Senate Republicans criticizing the House GOP handling of the issue (the latest being Bob Corker), Dems think the pressure on House Republican leaders will only increase, making the dynamic progressively worse.

    There’s obviously still time for Dems to drop their hard-edged posture and agree to talks with House Republicans before they pass the Senate bill. And it’s worth reiterating that Dems have already made a string of concessions to Republicans in this fight. But if Dems stick by their current position, we may soon witness an all too rare example of what Dems are able to accomplish when they draw hard lines and refuse to budge from them, something they’ve often been unwilling to do, even when the public is on their side.

  39. Rikyrah

    Check your email..

  40. rikyrah says:

    What’s Happening To Hamas?

    Bilal Y. Saab reacts to reports that the group is giving up violence as its primary strategy against Israel:

    The implications of such a Hamas decision could be huge. Theoretically, it will create a united Palestinian front. In other words, there would be few divisions within Palestinian society to inhibit progress in negotiations with the Israelis, a major boost for the Palestinian cause.

    Two things remain unclear, however: how Hamas’s constituency and Israel would deal with this massive shift. It is not unreasonable to assume that Hamas would not make such a dramatic move without testing the waters and feeling the mood in the Palestinian street. Hamas knows its constituency well enough to realize that the costs it might suffer as a result of such a decision are likely to be tolerable. Furthermore, Hamas’s support base is not necessarily ideological. Many credible polls suggest that those who have voted for Hamas over the past few years have done so out of pragmatic reasons and anger toward Fatah for its governmental failures.

    Hussein Ibish is skeptical of Hamas’ capacity to chill:

    The big question is whether Hamas’ need to adjust to the changing Arab political order will compel the movement to moderate its positions. Probably not if Hamas can help it, for it remains locked in a long-term power struggle with Fatah over leadership of the Palestinian national movement. Yet its ability to remain a viable contender for such leadership cannot be based on Islamist social conservatism alone. If it cannot outbid the PLO when it comes to the struggle with Israel, it’s hard to see what its broad appeal will be.

  41. rikyrah says:

    December 21, 2011 11:00 AM
    Literally walking away from a fight
    By Steve Benen

    It was rather remarkable this morning to watch the proceedings on the House floor. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) wanted to try again to bring up the Senate’s bipartisan payroll-tax-break compromise, and instead of debating, Republicans literally walked away from the fight.

    If you watch the clip, you’ll notice that Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), who was presiding over the House session at the time, got out of the Speaker’s chair and left the chamber altogether. Other Republicans joined him. Hoyer, of course, noticed, and explained, “You’re walking out, you’re walking away, just as so many Republicans have walked away from middle class taxpayers, the unemployed, and … those who will be seeking medical assistance from their doctors.”

    When Hoyer finished speaking and turned to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) to continue the debate, GOP leaders demanded that C-SPAN turn off the cameras so the public couldn’t hear the debate any more.


    I know Republicans think they’re in “Braveheart” but I don’t remember the scene in the movie in which William Wallace decided he’d rather run away than fight.

    It’s worth emphasizing that the House Democrats at this point really just want a vote on the Senate bill. Republican leaders gave their word that they would allow this, but then changed their mind when they realized the Senate compromise might actually pass if brought to the floor.

    I’d say this just about marks the point at which this fiasco went from tragedy to farce.

  42. grossdm:

    If Dems can hold it together (extremely massive if), within 2 weeks GOP could be begging them for a clean one-year payroll tax extension

  43. Mark Knoller:

    Once the House passes the Senate bill, Reid says then “we will be able to sit down and complete negotiations on a longer extension.”

  44. Shine, Give, Share: Honoring Military Families for the Holidays

  45. rikyrah says:

    December 21, 2011 10:10 AM
    They should watch ‘Braveheart’ to the end
    By Steve Benen

    In July, when House Republicans were prepared to crash the global economy on purpose, they took inspiration from a movie clip. It was a scene from the movie “The Town” in which Ben Affleck’s character said, “I need your help. I can’t tell you what it is. You can never ask me about it later — and we’re going to hurt some people.”

    It was, in the words of one right-wing lawmaker, a scene that helped “forge a sense of unity” among House Republicans.

    This week, these same unhinged GOP lawmakers had a different movie in mind. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) said this week, “Look, this is a ‘Braveheart’ moment. You, Mr. Speaker, are our William Wallace. Let’s rush to the fight.”

    The “fight,” in this case, was blocking a middle-class tax cut and unemployment benefits a few days before Christmas. Dana Milbank marveled at the nonsense.

    House Republicans, on the eve of Tuesday’s vote denying tax relief to 160 million Americans, huddled in a conference room in the Capitol basement for more than two hours…. Turns out they were talking Monday night about their favorite scenes from “Braveheart.” About 10 House Republicans went to the microphones to share their memories of the Mel Gibson film, Republican sources told my Post colleagues Paul Kane and Rosalind Helderman.

    One member spoke about the apocryphal scene in which the 13th-century Scottish rebel William Wallace ordered his troops to moon the English. Another member recounted the scene in which Wallace commanded the rebels to hold their positions before raising their spears against the charging English cavalry.

    This inspired the assembled lawmakers to chant: “Hold! Hold! Hold! Hold!”

    Americans who voted Republican in the 2010 midterms? Congratulations, you elected lunatics to run the House of Representatives.

    The “Braveheart” comparison is hopelessly ridiculous. Not only did the Scots lose, but Republicans are the wealthy, powerful elites trying to punish working-class families during tough economic times.

    Milbank added that House Republicans would “rather make a point than govern the country. And in this case, it’s not entirely clear what point they’re trying to make.”

  46. rikyrah says:

    House GOP Refuses to Allow Dem Whip to Speak on Floor & Offer Senate Compromise

  47. Behind-the-Scenes Look: Time-Lapse of Holidays at the White House

  48. rikyrah says:

    December 21, 2011 9:30 AM
    What the GOP dissenters have in common
    By Steve Benen

    Congressional Republicans generally excel at being on the same page and sharing the same agenda. Whereas Democrats are split along all kinds of ideological and geographic lines, GOP lawmakers nearly always have one party playbook, and they stick to it with very little dissent.

    With that in mind, it’s been interesting to watch the Republicans speak up this week to take issue with their party’s opposition to the payroll tax break. As of yesterday, there were 12 GOP lawmakers — seven in the House, five in the Senate — who disapprove of the House’s rejection of a pending bipartisan compromise.

    It’s worth noting what nearly all of these dozen Republicans have in common.

    Seven House Republicans bucked their party and voted against sending the payroll tax bill to conference Tuesday.

    Reps. Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state, Chris Gibson of New York, Tim Johnson of Illinois, Walter Jones of North Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Frank Wolf of Virginia all voted against sending the bill to conference. The measure, which passed 229-193, continues the legislative stalemate on Capitol Hill.

    Some of the votes against sending the bill to conference appeared to be a tacit acknowledgement of the political risks House Republicans could face in the year end fight over extending the payroll tax holiday.

    It’s more than that. Bass, Herrera Beutler, and Gibson are freshmen in competitive districts who will be targeted by Dems next year. Johnson is also at risk. Flake, meanwhile, is running for the Senate. Going into a tough cycle, none of these members wanted to get stuck with having voted against a middle-class tax cut.

    In the Senate, it’s a similar picture. Five Republican senators spoke out publicly this week — Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Dean Heller, Dick Lugar, and Olympia Snowe — criticizing House Republicans for their antics. Four of these five are seeking re-election in 2012. Heller, in particular, is in a very tough race in a competitive swing state (Nevada), and has no interest in picking up the “tax raiser” label.

    If the politics of this fight was working in Republicans’ favor, why are some of the most nervous GOP lawmakers siding with Democrats?

  49. rikyrah says:

    Preaching to the GOP – Do The Right Thing

    • Thank you, Rikyrah

      I was looking for this last night. It was heartwrenching watching Congressman Lewis. Where is your compassion? Where is your heart? Where is your soul?


  50. rikyrah says:

  51. rikyrah says:

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011
    Hawaii Vacation: Michelle Obama Brings Daughters, Sam Kass To MA’O Organic Farms

    First Lady has pizza party reunion with Honolulu chef Ed Kenney, hails his cooking as “perfect” and “delicious”…
    While President Obama was stuck in Washington on Monday, First Lady Michelle Obama was in Hawaii introducing daughters Malia and Sasha to the wonders of organic farming, Aloha style. Joined by Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass, Mrs. Obama took her girls for a visit to MA’O Organic Farms in the Waianae area, according to Honolulu chef Ed Kenney, a board member for the community farm. Using fresh produce, Kenney and Kass cooked veggie-laden pizzas in a fire oven. Mrs. Obama first visited the farm in November, when she hosted a Let’s Move! event there as President Obama hosted the APEC Leaders Meeting in Honolulu. (Above: Mrs. Obama and Kenney during her first visit to the farm)

    “Beautiful morning @maoorganicfarms w/ the FLOTUS & her girls. Kiawe-fired pizza w/ White House chef Sam Kass,” Kenney tweeted about the First Lady’s visit.

    The First Lady arrived on island with her daughters, Kass and other aides last Friday night for a 17-day vacation. In November, Kass and Malia, 13, and Sasha, 10, were at home in Washington when Kenney joined Mrs. Obama at the 24-acre, student-run certified organic MA’O for a tour of the crop rows and the Let’s Move! round table. The chef/owner of Town and Downtown restaurants, Kenney, 43, also cooked the First Lady’s special farm-to-table APEC Spouses Luncheon the next day at Kualoa Ranch, which starred produce from MA’O (more on Kenney here).

    Kass routinely accompanies the First Family on their winter vacations in Hawaii and summer vacations on Martha’s Vineyard. The First Family, including First Dog Bo, is staying in the town of Kailua, in a rented compound along the pristine beaches of Kaneohe Bay, up the street from the house they stayed in last Christmas. Extended family and Chicago friends are reported to be on island for the vacation, too. President Obama’s arrival date on island has not yet been announced by the White House.

  52. rikyrah says:

    Romney Defends ‘Wall Street’ And ‘Insurance Company Executives’ From Obama’s Criticism
    By Alex Seitz-Wald on Dec 20, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Appearing on PBS last night with Charlie Rose, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney suggested President Obama is risking the very prosperity of the country and the middle class when he criticizes Wall Street and insurance executives:

    ROMNEY: He has been the most divisive president I’ve ever seen. He has attacked one American after another, one group after another. He creates these straw men and says that Republicans believe this terrible thing, and aren’t they awful. He went after insurance company executives, Wall Street, all these bad people he finds out there. Look, Americans are not going to be a powerful and vibrant economic engine with a powerful middle class if we attack one another.

    Romney doesn’t seem to be concerned with whether there’s any merit to Obama’s criticisms or not; he objects to the mere fact that the president would criticize anyone. For instance, Romney’s defense ignores the fact that Wall Street helped cause the financial crisis and ensuring recession. Obama’s main “attack” on Wall Street was the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which has hardly hurt the industry.

    Of course, Romney himself made hundreds-of-million of dollars in a Wall Street-like investment company. Asked about that company, Bain Capital, later in the interview, Romney said that attacking Bain for laying off thousands of workers is almost tantamount to an attack on capitalism itself:

    ROSE: Did you sometimes destroy jobs [at Bain]?

    ROMNEY: I’m sure the administration will use every weapon they can think of, some will be accurate, some inaccurate. [But] if they attack the free-enterprise system and capitalism, I think they’ll find themselves on the short end of that argument. I am proud of the fact in the years when I was at the firm that I helped found, Bain capital, every investment we made was designed to grow the enterprise and make it more successfull.

  53. rikyrah says:

    How the Republicans Blew the Payroll Tax Debate
    Dec 21, 2011 7:31 AM EST

    Republicans have blown the politics of the payroll and pipeline showdown. John Batchelor talks to John Boehner’s foot soldiers about what went wrong.

    There is no just-in-time deal for the so-called payroll and pipeline bill, and that means you are likely going to see a 2% cut in your first paycheck of 2012. This is the WMD option for the parties and the White House. The House and Senate have departed the city. The House GOP has appointed conferees, who are waiting to meet with . . . no one . . . to resolve the conflict, because neither Majority Leader Harry Reid nor Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi intends to appoint conferees or to bargain.

    Instead, our national leaders choose to negate any conciliatory alternatives in order to blame the other guy for the failure once the American people realize they are paying for Congress’s premeditated disorder.

    “It’s Groundhog Day Year, it’s the same brinksmanship again,” asserts one of the GOP House members chosen by leadership to be a conferee for the deal. “Speaker [John] Boehner doesn’t want confrontation, he’s a consensus leader. But the ideological fight, that’s what the Democrats want. We’re here, ready to work to solve this. Mitch McConnell gave Harry Reid unanimous consent to name conferees. To my knowledge, he won’t.”

    Another GOP member familiar with the leadership comments on this brinksmanship scenario for both sides. “[The Democrats] are going to see how the polling goes. Already, I’ve seen [Obama adviser David] Axelrod on TV saying that we threw a monkey wrench in the bill. Right now, the Democrats think they’re winning. Their strongest argument is that this was a bipartisan agreement in the Senate. Here we are at Christmas. There’ll be a lot of nonsense for the rest of this week. The polling won’t start again till next week, and it will be Wednesday [Dec. 27] before anyone wakes up.”

  54. rikyrah says:

    Today at 7:57 AM

    Mitt Romney Goes Glenn Beck

    Mitt Romney has reworked his stump speech and delivered the new version last night. It’s premised on … a total lie:

    ust a couple of weeks ago in Kansas, President Obama lectured us about Teddy Roosevelt’s philosophy of government. But he failed to mention the important difference between Teddy Roosevelt and Barack Obama. Roosevelt believed that government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities. President Obama believes that government should create equal outcomes.

    In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort, and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing—the government.

    The truth is that everyone may get the same rewards, but virtually everyone will be worse off.

    This isn’t just a casual line. In eight sentences, Romney asserts over and over again that Obama wants to create “equal outcomes” and give everybody the “same rewards.” This is nuts, Glenn Beck–level insane. Restoring Clinton-era taxes is not a plan to equalize outcomes, or even close. It’s not even a plan to stop rising inequality. Obama’s America will continue to be the most unequal society in the advanced world — only slightly less so. The alternative proposals accelerate inequality even further.

    This is a form of insanity that has become extremely pervasive in the Republican Party since 2009. The response to liberal invocation of rising inequality from the right’s intellectual leaders has been to argue against not liberal policies but against socialism. This wild lie has become so widespread that press accounts don’t even bother to mention it anymore

  55. rikyrah says:

    Procedural Circle-Jerk
    Posted on 12/20/2011 at 4:00 pm by JM Ashby
    House Republicans are jumping through hoops to avoid holding an up or down vote on the Senate-approved, bipartisan, two-month extension of payroll tax-cuts and unemployment benefits.

    However House Republicans are aware of the political peril that will come with killing a bipartisan plan to extend the payroll tax cut, and they know they’ll likely be held responsible if the tax holiday expires. So they’re structuring the votes in a manner that’s designed to give their members cover from that charge and, perhaps, preserves their right to reconsider the Senate bill in the coming days.

    Specifically, they’re not actually going to vote down the Senate bill directly. Instead they will vote on a single measure that rejects the Senate’s plan and simultaneously calls for a conference with Senate negotiators to iron out the (significant) differences between the two chambers’ plans.

    To avoid looking like complete asshats — woops, too late!– The Republicans are using a procedural stunt to vote “No” by voting “Yes.”

    They’re voting to symbolically support a payroll tax-cut extension, but not voting to actually approve it. Instead they’re voting to agree to form a committee to discuss it some more. Because they supposedly really love the idea of a tax-cut extension, but aren’t ready to vote for one.

    Anytime the president signs any bill into law, it’s an unfortunate victory for him as far as the Republicans are concerned. Especially if it’s a bill that benefits average Americans. And they are wiggling as hard they can right now to get out of delivering the president a victory. However minor a two-month extension may be, it’s still something.

    The primary concern of the Republicans right now is not how you will fair in this debate. Their primary concern is how shitty they do or don’t look while obstructing a tax cut for working people on the eve of Christmas.

  56. rikyrah says:

    December 20, 2011
    Hang tough
    Thus spoke John Boehner:

    [T]he issue now is will the president engage with the Senate Democrats and bring them to the table so we can resolve this and give to the president what he has asked us to give him: a one-year extension of these expiring programs.

    Oh we get it. Speaker Boehner and pals were trying to be helpful.

    Ah, screw it. When one is contemplating contemporary GOP politics, ridicule remedies nothing and reason is futile. Excepting maybe Sen. Scott Brown, who’s been terrified into reasonableness, all the usual partisan, pseudoconservative yahoos will line up before the cable cameras and yap away with identically insufferable propaganda; see above.

    Their dishonor is bottomless, their shame nonexistent, and their arrogance awesome. That much is known; hell, how couldn’t it be, since they flaunt each like a tinhorn dictator does his unearned medals. So all reasonable eyes shift to the president and Harry Reid, urging, Hang tough.

  57. rikyrah says:

    December 21, 2011 8:35 AM
    The point at which Mitt Romney loses his mind
    By Steve Benen

    Mitt Romney unveiled a brand-new stump speech in New Hampshire last night, reading a carefully-crafted, poll-tested text from two teleprompters. Confident that his Republican primarily rivals simply won’t (or can’t) catch him, the former one-term governor ignored the other GOP candidates in his speech, and focused exclusively on attacking President Obama.

    Unfortunately for those who have even a passing interest in reality or a civil discourse, Romney, allegedly the responsible one in the Republican field, has been reduced to lying uncontrollably.

    Just a couple of weeks ago in Kansas, President Obama lectured us about Teddy Roosevelt’s philosophy of government. But he failed to mention the important difference between Teddy Roosevelt and Barack Obama. Roosevelt believed that government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities. President Obama believes that government should create equal outcomes.

    “In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort, and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing — the government.

    “The truth is that everyone may get the same rewards, but virtually everyone will be worse off.”

    It stands to reason that Romney, who’s completed the transition from “progressive” views to far-right hysterics, would present a worldview different from the center-left president’s. But this speech was written in a twisted fantasy land, and it ascribes views to Obama that are simply made up. It’s simply madness.

    Indeed, Jon Chait saw the same Romney rhetoric and concluded, “This is nuts, Glenn Beck-level insane. Restoring Clinton-era taxes is not a plan to equalize outcomes, or even close. It’s not even a plan to stop rising inequality. Obama’s America will continue to be the most unequal society in the advanced world — only slightly less so.”

    Romney seriously wants Americans to believe that the Obama White House wants everyone, regardless of effort or circumstances, to have the same amount of money. This argument is based on … nothing. The president doesn’t believe anything close to this, and has never given his attackers reason to make such an argument. There is simply nothing in reality to suggest the president accepts as true the radical beliefs Romney ascribes to him. For that matter, no Democratic official anywhere in the country would accept such an extremist agenda that would promise identical wealth to all people.

    If Romney believes his own garbage, he’s deranged. If he doesn’t believe it, but he’s making the argument anyway, Romney’s a craven con man.

    My hunch is that he’s the latter.

    One of the problems with lying is how easy it is. When a person wants something badly enough, and knows making stuff up can help acquire it, there’s a temptation to simply ignore the truth, tell the lie, and get the goal. It takes a modicum of strength to see the inherent value of the truth.

    And Romney is just a weak man who lacks the courage necessary to have a credible debate over economic policies. Such an argument requires honesty, an understanding of the basics, and a willingness to be consistent and principled — and given Romney glaring character flaws, he simply lacks the integrity to engage in such a discussion.

    In the presidential speech Romney referenced yesterday, Obama presented an important vision on the economy, one with a pedigree that rests in giants from both parties over the last century. Americans would benefit from a spirited, substantive response from leading Republican voices, and it’s a genuine shame Romney’s cowardice keeps him from being up to the task.

  58. rikyrah says:

    How The Payroll Tax Fight Descended Into Chaos

    Brian Beutler- December 21, 2011, 5:45 AM

    The fight over renewing the payroll tax cut into next year has escalated into a multi-front political war, both between Republicans and Democrats, and within the Republican party itself.

    Lost in the gamesmanship and the arguments about process, hypocrisy, and leadership are the issues at stake.

    So let’s review.

    This debate started when President Obama introduced his jobs bill, the priciest provisions of which were a one year renewal (and broadening of) this year’s payroll tax holiday, and an extension of emergency unemployment benefits.

    Republicans were never wild about moving ahead with either of these items to begin with — but a very public campaign by President Obama made it too politically toxic for GOP leaders to oppose them outright. Instead they just made it as difficult as possible for either to pass. They could’ve agreed to support the measures without paying for them, or to pay for them with war savings, as some Dems to suggest, or with a mix of payfors that included a balanced mix of tax revenue and spending cuts. Likewise they could’ve agreed to pass the measures “cleanly” — without attaching unrelated policy riders to the legislation.

    But they did neither. And it created a huge problem. Together, these items, plus a one-year patch to the Medicare physician reimbursement formula, cost a couple hundred billion dollars over the course of a year, and offsetting them via cuts to an already constrained budget is hard. The House-passed a one year measure included policy rider Dems abhorred, plus premium hikes on middle class Medicare beneficiaries and other controversial payfors. In the end, depending upon whom you ask, Senate Dem and GOP negotiators got within $60 and $90 billion of the total cost — but they couldn’t bridge the gap. Republicans refused to accept raising taxes to cover the rest, and so Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell settled upon a relatively clean two month extension.

    That’s the bill that passed the Senate overwhelmingly on Thursday. It cost about $30 billion, paid for by increasing the fees lenders pay to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Nobody in either party thinks a two month extension is ideal policy, but it has the advantages of preventing taxes from going up on a majority of Americans in this economy, and avoiding for now the ancillary fight over financing and GOP poison pills.

    This scared House Republicans, who don’t want to relitigate the fight in the winter. So in a matter of 72 hours they discovered their love for renewing the payroll tax cut — but for a full year, minimum. Democrats would prefer this, too, but only if the GOP’s willing to make significant concessions on the other side of the ledger.

    Based on the eight members Speaker John Boehner appointed to negotiate a compromise between the House and Senate bills, that seems unlikely. As Dem operatives quickly became fond of pointing out, a full half of them — Reps. Dave Camp (R-MI), Kevin Brady (R-TX), Tom Price (R-GA), and Renee Ellmers (R-NC) — were until recently on record opposing renewing the payroll tax cut in the first place.

    The fact that they’re all arguing for a year-long extension illustrates just how dramatically this debate has shifted in the last couple weeks. Dems clearly have the high ground at the moment, and even top GOP aides have admitted to me that if this isn’t resolved quickly, then what’s left of Republican unity will collapse, Dems will pounce, and voters will hold them to account. But there’s a major X-factor: What would a permanent expiration of the payroll cut do to the economy? Even if Congressional Republicans are broadly recognized as the culprits, they don’t control the White House. That’s got to be in the back of Obama’s mind as the days tick down to January.

  59. rikyrah says:

    December 21, 2011 8:00 AM
    The Republicans’ ‘payroll tax fiasco’
    By Steve Benen

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told CNN yesterday that the fight over extending the payroll tax cut is “harming the Republican Party,” adding, “We’ve got to get this resolved and with the realization that the payroll-tax cut must remain in effect.”

    The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, one of the most conservative pieces of media real estate in the country, went considerably further today, blasting the GOP’s “payroll tax fiasco,” and mocking Republicans for “managing to lose the tax issue” to President Obama.

    GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell famously said a year ago that his main task in the 112th Congress was to make sure that President Obama would not be re-elected. Given how he and House Speaker John Boehner have handled the payroll tax debate, we wonder if they might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest.

    The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play.

    It’s worth noting that the WSJ editorial doesn’t seem especially enamored with the proposed tax break itself — the editors see “the entire exercise” as “political” — but it nevertheless seems amazed that Republicans are screwing up the fight this badly. Indeed, the Journal added that GOP lawmakers have “achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter.”

    Assuring Republicans that “the political rout will only get worse,” the WSJ urged the GOP to “cut their losses and find a way to extend the payroll holiday quickly.”

    In case this isn’t obvious, when congressional Republicans have lost the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, they’ve reached a humiliating level of failure.

    It’s far from clear, however, what GOP leaders intend to do about it. Senators left Washington over the weekend, confident that the House wouldn’t screw this up. After the lower chamber did screw it up, many House members headed to the airport, too. Folks like House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) are demanding that Senate Democrats agree to come back to DC and start giving Republicans goodies to make the far-right happy — Boehner wants the White House to lend him a hand in this endeavor — but Democratic leaders believe they’re holding a much better hand and are content to watch the GOP flail.

    With the tax break poised to expire in 10 days and 16 hours, what’s the end game? The New York Times sketched out the remaining options.

    Republicans could decide to accept the two-month extension as is or with additional sweeteners, like a promise that a conference committee would meet to seek a longer-term extension, but such a move would require unanimous consent from the Senate. They could add another social policy rider, as is their tendency, and the Senate could toss it off the bill later, through a procedure that has been employed in the past. Or they could do similar procedural moves with a bill to extend the benefits for a year, which has been the goal of Mr. Obama and Democrats all along.

    I’ll have more on the conference committee option later today.

  60. rikyrah says:

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011
    Can’t Quit Hitting The Sauce
    Posted by Zandar

    The mighty Tea Party has feet of clay, and nobody’s more clay-colored than Orange Julius as the House GOP picks up their payroll tax cut and unemployment benefit extensions ball and goes home for the holidays. The Tea Party drinks your smoothie, John. They drink it up.

    Obama insisted today that the only path to continuing the tax break past its Dec. 31 expiration is for the House of Representatives to send him a two-month extension passed by the Senate. At the White House today, he blamed a “faction” of Republicans for blocking the bill by including extraneous issues.

    Meanwhile, Boehner and the Republican-controlled House pressed ahead with their plan. The House voted 229-193 to reject the Senate bill and insist on a year-long extension of the tax cut. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, then chose eight House Republican negotiators and demanded the Senate name lawmakers to attend formal talks.

    “There’s no reason we can’t do this,” Boehner said at a news conference.

    Actually there is, Johnny. And it’s called “You have no control over your caucus anymore.” They’re over you. You’re irrelevant, you can’t deliver a deal, you have no clout on the Hill, and you’re a joke.

    In other words, you’re everything in the actual leadership failure category that you choose to constantly project on to President Obama. Tell you what, call up Nancy Pelosi and ask her how to do your job, because in about 13 months, she will be doing your job.

    So now, in just over a week, 160 million Americans are going to take a hit in their paychecks because John Boehner is the most incompetent person in Washington. And that’s a government that includes Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul.

    Brian Beutler pieces together the implosion of Boenher’s career here, because let’s face it, after this, it’s over.

  61. rikyrah says:

    hee hee hee hee


    The GOP’s Payroll Tax Fiasco
    How did Republicans manage to lose the tax issue to Obama?.

    GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell famously said a year ago that his main task in the 112th Congress was to make sure that President Obama would not be re-elected. Given how he and House Speaker John Boehner have handled the payroll tax debate, we wonder if they might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest.

    The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play.

    Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter, although he’s spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible.

    House Republicans yesterday voted down the Senate’s two-month extension of the two-percentage-point payroll tax holiday to 4.2% from 6.2%. They say the short extension makes no economic sense, but then neither does a one-year extension. No employer is going to hire a worker based on such a small and temporary decrease in employment costs, as this year’s tax holiday has demonstrated. The entire exercise is political, but Republicans have thoroughly botched the politics.

    Their first mistake was adopting the President’s language that he is proposing a tax cut rather than calling it a temporary tax holiday. People will understand the difference—and discount the benefit.

    Republicans also failed to put together a unified House and Senate strategy. The House passed a one-year extension last week that included spending cuts to offset the $120 billion or so in lost revenue, such as a one-year freeze on raises for federal employees. Then Mr. McConnell agreed with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the two-month extension financed by higher fees on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (meaning on mortgage borrowers), among other things. It passed with 89 votes and all but seven Republicans.

    Senate Republicans say Mr. Boehner had signed off on the two-month extension, but House Members revolted over the weekend and so the Speaker flipped within 24 hours. Mr. Boehner is now demanding that Mr. Reid name conferees for a House-Senate conference on the payroll tax bills. But Mr. Reid and the White House are having too much fun blaming Republicans for “raising taxes on the middle class” as of January 1. Don’t be surprised if they stretch this out to the State of the Union, when Mr. Obama will have a national audience to capture the tax issue.

    If Republicans didn’t want to extend the payroll tax cut on the merits, then they should have put together a strategy and the arguments for defeating it and explained why.

    But if they knew they would eventually pass it, as most of them surely believed, then they had one of two choices. Either pass it quickly and at least take some political credit for it.

    Or agree on a strategy to get something in return for passing it, which would mean focusing on a couple of popular policies that would put Mr. Obama and Democrats on the political spot. They finally did that last week by attaching a provision that requires Mr. Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days, and the President grumbled but has agreed to sign it.

  62. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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