Saturday Open Thread

Silent Night” (German: “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht”) is a popular Christmas carol. The original lyrics of the song “Stille Nacht” were written in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria, by the priest Father Joseph Mohr and the melody was composed by the Austrian headmaster Franz Xaver Gruber. In 1859, John Freeman Young (second Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Florida) published the English translation that is most frequently sung today.[1] The version of the melody that is generally sung today differs slightly (particularly in the final strain) from Gruber’s original, which was a sprightly, dance-like tune in 6/8 time, as opposed to the slow, meditative lullaby version generally sung today. Today, the lyrics and melody are in the public domain.

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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28 Responses to Saturday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Obama’s Latest Poll Numbers Force a Change in GOP Rhetoric
    Dec 21, 2011 2:16 PM EST

    Republican legislators vote down a tax cut, and Perry and Gingrich criticize Romney for being part of the Wall Street problem—in other words, if they can’t beat Obama in the latest polls, perhaps they should imitate him.

    There are two things we should be able to count on in this world: Republican lawmakers supporting cutting taxes and GOP leaders defending rich people.

    No more. First came the GOP opposition to a tax cut for the middle class–the payroll tax cut. Now we have Republican presidential candidates arguing that greed is actually not good.
    Tuesday, Gov. Rick Perry told ABC’s Terry Moran that “part of the problem—and that’s my point–is that Mitt’s a part of Wall Street. His address may not have been on Wall Street, but Bain Capital is a Wall Street type of a business. Those individuals have been at the epicenter of this meltdown of America’s economy.”

    When Democrats have pointed out the obvious truth in Perry’s comment, they’ve been accused of engaging in “class warfare” against the helpless Wall Streeters for whom the recession has meant “I can’t buy a bigger house in the Hamptons.”

    A few weeks ago, when Newt Gingrich was asked if he agreed with Mitt Romney’s contention that he should return money made lobbying for Freddie Mac to get more government greenbacks to fund its incompetence, Newt retorted, “I would just say that if Governor Romney would like to give back all the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain Capital that I would be glad to listen to him.”
    Who’s the socialist now?

    Perhaps the GOP presidential candidates have realized what two new polls are showing: Americans are tired of Washington coddling the richest among us while the middle class continues to suffer.

    A new CNN poll found that by a 50 percent to 31 percent margin, people say they have more confidence in President Obama than in congressional Republicans–who have been holding the payroll tax cut hostage–to handle the major issues facing the country. That’s a 5-point jump from last month. In his analysis of the poll, CNN’s polling director attributed this increase to “dramatic gains among middle-income Americans” for President Obama and surmised that the payroll-tax-cut debate had given Obama the boost.

  2. rikyrah says:

    Romney: If I’m President, All College Grads Will Have A Job; If Obama Wins, They Won’t
    By Rebecca Leber on Dec 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Asked at a campaign stop in New Hampshire why young people should mobilize behind Mitt Romney for 2012, the candidate had a simple but comically pandering answer. Romney promised 21-year-old Kallie Durkit that he will deliver jobs to college graduates if he’s elected president — that as a businessman he knows “what it takes” to help them. If Obama is reelected, Romney explained, all college grads would be simply out of luck:

    Kallie Durkit: Relatability has been a large issue for you on this campaign trail, and as a college student many people in my generation find it especially hard to relate to you as a candidate. Why should we mobilize for you as a candidate instead of Obama, which we did in 2008?

    Mitt Romney: What I can promise you is this –- when you get out of college, if I’m president you’ll have a job. If President Obama is reelected, you will not be able to get a job. That’s the reason I will hopefully get young people who are in college is to say, You know what, I understand what it takes to get jobs in America.

    ABC’s Jon Karl observes, “when it comes to political pandering,” it’s hard to beat Romney’s false promise.

  3. rikyrah says:

    December 24, 2011 10:15 AM
    ‘That is how we define opportunity’
    By Steve Benen

    Vice President Biden had an op-ed in the Des Moines Register yesterday on what “a real opportunity society looks like.” It was a direct, unambiguous response to Mitt Romney’s bizarre speech this week, accusing the White House of secretly wanting to conspire to turn the United States into a communist-like society in which everyone makes the same amount of money.

    Eric Fehrnstrom, the Romney campaign’s communications director, said yesterday that Biden’s op-ed “blames Obama’s bad economy on Romney. Yes, he really did.”

    That struck me as odd — would the vice president really make such a mistake in print? — so I read Biden’s piece, looking for the part Fehrnstrom found offensive. Then, I read it again. I still haven’t the foggiest idea what Fehrnstrom is talking about.

    Folks can read the piece for themselves, and try to find the part in which Biden blames the economy on Romney, but I couldn’t find it. Instead, the op-ed is really about a progressive vision for creating opportunities for Americans ready to work hard and play by the rules.

    The vice president contrasts this with Romney’s vision.

    Romney appears satisfied to settle for an economy in which fewer people succeed, while the majority of Americans are left to tread water or fall behind. His proposal would actually double down on the policies that caused the greatest economic calamity since the Great Depression and accelerated a decades-long assault on the middle class.

    Romney also misleadingly suggests that the president and I are creating an “Entitlement Society,” whereby government provides everything for its people without regard to merit, as opposed to what he calls an “Opportunity Society,” where everything is merit-based and every man is left to fend for himself.

    The only entitlement we believe in is an America where if you work hard, you can get ahead.

    And we know from recent experience that his policy prescription for an “Opportunity Society” leads to less, not more opportunity for middle class Americans. How can anyone forget the economic catastrophe brought about by the same policies Mr. Romney’s proposing? His are the same policies that deregulated Wall Street and turned it into a casino that gambled recklessly with hardworking Americans’ money. As a consequence, Americans saw the equity in their homes evaporate and their 401(k)s plummet in value. Millions of jobs were lost.

    Americans cannot afford a return to policies that rewarded the recklessness of a few while millions of small businesses and workers were left to clean up the mess. We’ve seen this movie before, and we know how it ends.

    The larger point, of course, is setting the stage for a clash of visions. Obama and Biden want to provide a layer of security and accountability to protect the public from Wall Street excesses; Romney doesn’t. Obama and Biden want to provide a layer of protection against health insurers’ abuses; Romney doesn’t. Obama and Biden want to ensure the American auto industry is given a chance to thrive; Romney doesn’t. Obama and Biden want a balanced approach to debt reduction; Romney doesn’t.

    “Quite simply,” the VP concluded, “the president and I believe this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules. That is how we define opportunity. It’s an America where everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their talents and drive will take them, and where the middle class is growing, not shrinking.”

    This, apparently, makes Eric Fehrnstrom feel rather defensive. I’m not sure why.

  4. WASHINGTON – DECEMBER 23: U.S. President Barack Obama enters the White House Press Briefing Room to speak about the payroll tax bill December 23, 2011 in Washington, DC. Democrats and Republicans on both sides of the capitol came to an agreement to extend the tax cuts which will stop a two percent increase in pay-roll taxes, prevent doctors from taking a cut in Medicare payments as well as extending unemployment benefits.

  5. rikyrah says:

    December 24, 2011 10:45 AM
    Remember the Mayberry Machiavellis?
    By Steve Benen

    For all of the times American Crossroads, Karl Rove’s attack operation, is truly exasperating, once in a while, the group’s hatchet jobs are actually rather amusing — in an unintentional sort of way.

    Yesterday, Crossroads released a memo accusing the Obama White House with prioritizing politics over economic policy, and allowing political strategists to replace economists.

    President Obama has no real economic team. And that’s why his economic agenda is a political agenda, propped up by political slogans (“Pass this bill! We can’t wait!”) and promoted by political means (taxpayer-financed political rallies and DNC-financed TV ads). The entire structure and focus of the Obama White House are centered on reelection, not recovery.

    Need evidence? Where is the current head of Obama’s council of economic advisors? The head of Obama’s National Economic Council? Can most Washington reporters even name them? … Instead, this Administration’s “economic team” is David Axelrod and David Plouffe and Jay Carney, because all they want to do — all they can do — is politics.

    Even for American Crossroads, this is deeply stupid.

    Alan Krueger is the head of Obama’s council of economic advisors. Gene Sperling is the head of Obama’s National Economic Council, a job he also held in Clinton’s second term. The fact that American Crossroads’ leadership can’t keep up on current events is not evidence of a White House with no “real” economic team.

    For that matter, the president — and his economic team — put together an ambitious economic agenda, which was heartily endorsed by a wide variety of economists from across the political spectrum. American Crossroads staffers may have noticed President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on the subject several months ago (it was on TV and everything). Congressional Republicans refused to consider the plan, perhaps fearing that economic growth would undermine their campaign strategy, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    But that’s not the funny part. No, what I really enjoyed about the latest American Crossroads tantrum is the irony — Karl Rove’s attack operation is accusing the Obama White House of prioritizing politics over policy.

    I wonder if Rove and his cohorts remember John DiIulio, a domestic policy expert and University of Pennsylvania political scientist, who worked in the Bush/Cheney White House in 2001 and came away rather disgusted.

    In an interview with Esquire magazine, Mr. DiIulio said: “There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you’ve got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.”

    “Mayberry Machiavellis” is Mr. DiIulio’s term for the political staff and most particularly Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s chief adviser. He describes Mr. Rove as “enormously powerful, maybe the single most powerful person in the modern, post-Hoover era ever to occupy a political-adviser post near the Oval Office.”

    Instead of meaningful domestic policy work, DiIulio said, the Bush gang, led by Rove, relied on “on-the-fly policy-making by speechmaking.”

    For American Crossroads to whine that “all they want to do — all they can do — is politics,” might be the single most ironic thing I’ve ever heard.

  6. rikyrah says:

    December 24, 2011 11:10 AM
    Understanding ‘suicidal’ political episodes
    By Steve Benen

    It wasn’t a great week for congressional Republicans, who ended up hurting themselves twice — they looked bad fighting to raise middle-class taxes, and then looked worse caving when the heat was on.

    Jon Chait argued this week that GOP policymakers were so far around the bend, they looked politically “suicidal.”

    The payroll tax debacle is now the third suicidal episode undertaken by the House Republicans since they took control of it at the beginning of the year. The first was when they voted almost unanimously for Paul Ryan’s budget, which was filled with grist for attack ads — huge cuts to Medicare, big tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulating Wall Street — despite it having no chance of passing this term.

    The second was when they played chicken with the debt ceiling and turned a once-routine procedure into a white-knuckle game of chicken with the world economy.

    And then this week, when they attempted to extract concessions in return for extending the payroll tax holiday, an anti-recessionary measure with strong support from economists, businesses, and voters. These are not just gestures. The right-wingers are really trying to off themselves.

    I found all of this quite compelling, but it got me thinking about why Republicans, especially in the House, would be so cavalier about their own electoral futures. Usually, elected politicians want to win re-election, and take some steps while in office that voters will respect and appreciate. As part of the efforts that make it seem as if GOP officials “really trying to off themselves” politically, congressional Republicans appear to be making themselves less popular, almost on purpose.

    Why on earth would they do this? I’ve been kicking around a few theories.

    1. Republican lawmakers assume voters aren’t paying any attention. Politicians can get away with quite a bit if they think the public won’t know either way.

    2. They assume Democrats, when faced with any pressure at all, will invariably surrender and give Republicans whatever they demand. That’s generally not a bad strategy, but it failed miserably in the fight over the payroll tax cut.

    3. They assume the media will, under all possible circumstances, continue to tell the public “both sides” are always to blame for everything. This, too, is a pretty safe bet, but when even Republican media outlets turn against the GOP (take the Wall Street Journal editorial page, for example), this starts to fail.

    4. They fear primary challengers. Under this model, Republicans know their extremism will offend the American mainstream, but if they’re defeated by even-more-conservative primary opponents, their careers are over anyway.

    5. They figure major right-wing money — from the Koch Brothers, Crossroads GPS, assorted Super PACs, etc. — will come in before the election, destroy their Democratic challengers, and keep them in office no matter what they vote for.

    6. They’re just nuts.

    Why else would congressional Republicans take such breathtaking risks with their own electoral fortunes?

  7. rikyrah says:

    Reminder: Congress Blocks Closure of Gitmo Again
    Posted on 12/24/2011 at 12:00 pm by JM Ashby

    I wasn’t going to blog today, but since many of you will be facing your families tonight and tomorrow, and your discussion may or may not involve President Obama’s record, I wanted to touch a subject that is somewhat of a pet peeve of mine.

    A provision contained within the bill that put a tear in John Boehner’s beer this week, the bill which includes a 2 month extension of payroll tax-cuts and unemployment benefits, is a provision that specifically prohibits the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and President Obama has issued a statement reiterating his opposition to this provision.

    In this bill, the Congress has once again included provisions that would bar the use of appropriated funds for transfers of Guantanamo detainees into the United States (section 8119 of Division A), as well as transfers to the custody or effective control of foreign countries unless specified conditions are met (section 8120 of Division A). These provisions are similar to others found in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. My Administration has repeatedly communicated my objections to these provisions, including my view that they could, under certain circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers principles. In approving this bill, I reiterate the objections my Administration has raised regarding these provisions, my intent to interpret and apply them in a manner that avoids constitutional conflicts, and the promise that my Administration will continue to work towards their repeal.

    To recap:

    – President Obama signed an executive order on the day he took office in 2009 to close Guantanamo Bay

    – This is the fourth time since 2009 that Congress has voted to block the closure of Guantanamo Bay

    – Congress has voted overwhelmingly, in a bipartisan fashion, each of those four times to block the closure of Guantanamo Bay

    The good news is, there is one provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that grants the president the discretion to hold civilian trials for detainees. And while some would argue that it shouldn’t be a matter of discretion, I would point out that having the discretion is better than having no choice other than military trials, which is what we have right now.

  8. rikyrah says:

    CNN Poll: Obama gains strength in 2012 matchups
    Posted by
    CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser

    Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama’s numbers are on the rise in two important indicators of his reelection chances, according to a new national survey.

    A CNN/ORC International Poll out Tuesday indicates the president’s margins have increased against five possible Republican presidential challengers in hypothetical general election matchups and that Obama’s approval rating is up five points since mid-November.

    According to the poll, Obama leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 52%-45% in a possible 2012 showdown. Romney, who’s making his second bid for the GOP nomination, held a 51%-47% margin over the president in last month’s survey. Obama also holds the same 52%-45% advantage over Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. Last month the president had a 51%-47% margin over Paul, who’s making his third run for the White House.

    The survey indicates that Newt Gingrich doesn’t fare as well against the president in a possible general election matchup, with Obama up by 16 points, 56% to 40%. Last month Obama led Gingrich 53%-45%. The president holds an 18 point advantage over Texas Gov. Rick Perry, up from a seven point margin in November. And he leads Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota by 19 points, up from a 12 point advantage last month.

  9. rikyrah says:

    December 24, 2011 8:00 AM
    Justice Dept. targets SC voter-ID law
    By Steve Benen

    It’d be a shame if the Justice Department’s actions in South Carolina get lost in the holiday-weekend shuffle, because this is an important move.

    The Obama administration entered the fierce national debate over voting rights, rejecting South Carolina’s new law requiring photo identification at the polls and saying it discriminated against minority voters. […]

    In its first decision on the laws, Justice’s Civil Rights Division said South Carolina’s statute is discriminatory because its registered minority voters are nearly 20 percent more likely than whites to lack a state-issued photo ID. Under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, South Carolina is one of a number of states that are required to receive federal “pre-clearance” on voting changes to ensure that they don’t hurt minorities’ political power.

    “The absolute number of minority citizens whose exercise of the franchise could be adversely affected by the proposed requirements runs into the tens of thousands,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said in a letter to South Carolina officials.

    South Carolina Republicans, eager to tilt the electoral playing field in their favor, reacted about the way one might expect them to — they’re not pleased — and will turn to the federal courts to undo the DOJ’s intervention.

    As the state’s Republican policymakers see it, the imaginary scourge of voter fraud justifies a war on voting, but as Justice’s Civil Rights Division explained, South Carolina “did not include any evidence or instance” of fraud that necessitated these new voter-suppression tactics.

    I can only hope this is the first of many such moves. As Hunted noted yesterday, Republican officials have approved similar voter-suppression measures in 11 other states. Each are as odious as they are unnecessary, designed to keep traditional Democratic constituencies from participating in elections.

    This is also, by the way, another one of those “parties matter” moments, of which there have been many lately. Remember, in 2005, career staffers in the Justice Department’s Voting Section found that Georgia’s voter-ID law was discriminatory and should be rejected — only to see Bush/Cheney officials override their own experts’ judgment and approve the proposal.

    If a McCain or Romney administration were in power right now, we’d very likely see something similar.

  10. Ametia says:

    Ezra Klein explains it all: the White House’s surprisingly good 2011
    December 23, 2011 ·

    The Republicans clearly won 2010. They took over the House of Representatives, several key governorships and legislatures, and therefore will get the better of Census-triggered redistricting. They got the mainstream media to join their fixation on “cutting spending” and talk about it ad infinitum, rather than talking about jobs. But 2011? It was pretty much a straight sets win for President Obama and the Democrats… Read more

  11. dannie22 says:

    hello everyone

  12. Kenny Loggins Celebrate Me Home

  13. US President Barack Obama smiles as he signs the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut December 23, 2011, inside the Oval Office of the White House shortly before departing for vacation in Hawaii.

  14. Dems for Progress:

    Gingrich, Perry fail to qualify for #gop primary ballot in Virginia at

  15. Merry Christmas Dance

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