Serendiptiy SOUL | Monday Open Thread | “Old School Week”

Wiki: René & Angela were an 1980s R&B duo consisting of artist/producers René Moore and Angela Winbush. The group dissolved by the mid 1980s. Both went on to successful solo careers as performers, songwriters, and producers.

Happy MUN-dane.  Enjoy your day, Everyone!


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42 Responses to Serendiptiy SOUL | Monday Open Thread | “Old School Week”

  1. rikyrah says:

    December 26, 2011 1:55 PM

    The Big Unspoken Benefit in Obama’s Payroll Tax Cut Victory
    By Paul Glastris

    Over at TPM, Kyle Leighton begins to get at an underappreciated aspect of the payroll tax fight that ended (briefly) last week:

    Surely, during one of the most severe economic downturns in our nation’s history, Americans of all stripes fastidiously check their paystubs to calculate exactly how much withholding the local, state and federal governments are taking. What’s that? You don’t? You didn’t know that payroll taxes have been reduced by two percent since the beginning of last year?

    Well you do now. And that’s the big bonus to the Obama victory on the payroll tax cut, a previously lesser known component of the 2010 deal on the Bush tax cut extension.

    Leighton’s point is that the fight over the payroll tax made clear to Americans that Obama has a tax-cutting record. That’s true. But the deeper truth is that the way the Obama administration chose to deliver that tax cut, via small incremental reductions in the payroll tax, was essentially invisible to most Americans—until, that is, there was a big public fight over it.

    This is perfect example of what Cornell political scientist Suzanne Mettler, in her brilliant cover story this summer in the Washington Monthly, calls the “submerged state.” By this she means government benefits delivered not in a manner that is obvious to recipients—say, food stamps or Social Security checks with the name of the government of the United States printed on them—but in unobtrusive ways, mostly through the tax code (for instance, deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions). Because they are delivered almost invisibly, recipients of these submerged state-type social benefits have little or no sense that they’re getting government help. Moreover, as a percentage of GDP, these submerged state benefits (which go mostly to the affluent) have nearly doubled since 1976, while the value of traditional social benefits (which go predominantly to middle and lower-income people), has generally atrophied.

    These trends, Mettler says, fuel “the real if inchoate sense many Americans have that government has been “growing,” as measured by deficits and new programs, but in ways that don’t benefit them.” Therefore, making submerged state programs visible ought to be a key progressive goal. Seen in that light, Obama’s win over the payroll tax cut could an even bigger victory than people recognize.

    Mettler’s piece exemplifies the kind of work the Washington Monthly aspires to do—carefully-researched, clearly-argued stories that make us see politics in profoundly new and helpful ways. If you value that kind of work, not to mention the daily dose of fresh thinking you get from 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 toss in a few bucks—$10, $20, $30, $50, whatever you can afford. Donations to the Monthly are tax-deductible — we’re a non-profit outfit, and really appreciate and rely on the help we get from readers to continue to do what we do.

  2. rikyrah says:

    It’s a learning process, sure, but they’re going backward
    by Kay

    Really great news for voting enthusiasts last week:

    The U.S. Department of Justice will block the voter ID provisions of an election law passed in South Carolina earlier this year because the state’s own statistics demonstrated that the photo identification requirement would have a much greater impact on non-white residents, DOJ said in a letter to the state on Friday.

    Officials in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division found a significant racial disparity in the data provided by South Carolina, which must have changes to its election laws precleared under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, because of past history of discrimination. The data demonstrated that registered non-white voters were 20 percent more likely than white voters to lack the specific type of photo identification required to exercise their constitutional rights, according to a letter sent to South Carolina and obtained by TPM.

    Perez wrote that the number of minority citizens whose exercise of the francise could be adversely affected by the proposed requirements “runs in the tens of thousands.” He wrote that the state had “failed entirely to address the disparity between the proportions of white and non-white registered voters who lack DMV-issued identification.”

    “data provided by South Carolina”

    “the state’s own statistics”

    The governor of South Carolina and the conservatives in the state legislature are (apparently) absolutely clueless about the people who live in South Carolina. Conservative leaders might want to get out more. Fewer think-tank funded roundtables and appearances with Fox News personalities, more hands-on work.

    It was – assuming good faith – news to Haley and South Carolina conservative representatives that certain parts of South Carolina are poor and rural. They didn’t even have to read the information they submitted to the DOJ. They could have asked this guy:

    But having no birth certificate, or having one where the name conflicts with other legal documents, can cause problems today proving one’s identification—and getting the photo ID required to get a job, travel, go into public buildings and, in a recent and controversial change in South Carolina, register to vote.

    In some cases, people who have never had a problem before must now go to family court to authenticate the names they have used all their lives.

    Joseph Williams, a physician who sees mostly elderly patients in Sumter, guessed as many as 20 percent of his 3,000 to 4,000 regular patients have problems with identification. Some only know the year they were born.

    “It’s extremely common for people who are over 50,” said Williams, who is 60. “Record-keeping was poor in our age group.”

    Wouldn’t it be great to be a conservative and live your life entirely removed from the gritty, day to day reality the rest of us have to grapple with? Record keeping was poor in rural South Carolina back in the day. Who knew? Not the governor or the conservatives in the state legislature, apparently. Poor, rural South Carolinians have to appear in family court before they may vote? No burden there!

    Here is Governor Haley’s response to the DOJ, on Facebook:

    “The President and his bullish administration are fighting us every step of the way,” Haley wrote. “It is outrageous, and we plan to look at every possible option to get this clearly political decision overturned so we can protect the integrity of our electoral process and our 10th amendment rights.”

    Wow. “Our Tenth Amendment rights”?

    Can someone ask Governor Haley why she believes “our Tenth Amendment rights” trump federal civil rights legislation that was reauthorized by a huge Congressional majority as recently as 2006? Can someone ask Governor Haley if she knows that former President Reagan said this when he signed the 1982 reauthorization of the portions of the Voting Rights Act that she objects to on “states’ rights” grounds?

  3. rikyrah says:

    Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Forces Unemployed Workers Off Unemployment Insurance While Giving Corporations A Tax Cut
    By Tanya Somanader on Dec 26, 2011 at 11:55 am

    In the last few weeks of 2011, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) rounded out his concerted campaign against Michigan workers with a few final laws. In a prejudicial move against the LGBT community, Snyder signed a measure prohibiting all public employees from providing benefits for their unmarried partners. In considering his state’s 10.6 percent unemployment rate, Snyder also signed a law forcing some of Michigan’s over 400,000 unemployed workers to take low-wage jobs after 10 weeks of benefits, even if those jobs pay less than they were making before:

    The measures require some unemployed workers to take new jobs after 10 weeks of benefits even if the available work is outside their previous experience or pays lower wages than they were making before. They also make it harder for someone to collect jobless benefits if they’re fired for cause or leave a job voluntarily.[…]

    Snyder disagreed with critics who say requiring jobless workers to take a job paying 120 percent of their weekly benefit could trap them in a low-wage position by leaving them little time to look for work in their area of expertise.

    “It’s to encourage people to work. It’s not to have them go backward,” Snyder said of the legislation. “It’s easiest to find a job when you’ve gotten a job.”

    This new requirement comes in addition to Snyder’s decision to cut the availability of unemployment insurance from 26 weeks to 20 weeks starting in 2012. The measure also encapsulates Snyder’s priorities over his first year in office — placing the burden on the most vulnerable for the sake of the state’s bottom line. In 2011, he “shaved billions of dollars off future health care and retirement commitments,” proposed ending the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, cut funding for school districts by eight to ten percent, cut aid for 11,000 low-income families and nearly 30,000 children, and enacted a regressive increase in personal taxes — all in the name of the deficit.

    Naturally, not all Michiganders were asked to share in such sacrifices — namely, corporations. While more than 1.5 million of his constituents faced poverty, Snyder enacted a $1.7 billion tax cut for corporations, or about “$30 in corporate tax cuts for every dollar saved in welfare benefit cuts.” Indeed, Snyder pushed to cut the state’s business taxes by nearly $2 billion, or 86 percent.

    In enacting such preferential treatment for those who need it least, Snyder did earn an impressive recognition in 2011. For his first year in office, Snyder ranked as one of the most unpopular governors in the country.

  4. 93-Year-Old Tennessee Woman Who Cleaned State Capitol For 30 Years Denied Voter ID

    A 93-year-old Tennessee woman who cleaned the state Capitol for 30 years, including the governor’s office, says she won’t be able to vote for the first time in decades after being told this week that her old state ID failed to meet new voter ID regulations.

    Thelma Mitchell was even accused of being an undocumented immigrant because she couldn’t produce a birth certificate:

    Mitchell, who was delivered by a midwife in Alabama in 1918, has never had a birth certificate. But when she told that to a drivers’ license clerk, he suggested she might be an illegal immigrant.

    Thelma Mitchell told WSMV-TV that she went to a state drivers’ license center last week after being told that her old state ID from her cleaning job would not meet new regulations for voter identification.

  5. rikyrah says:

    The Sad Spectacle of the Undecided Voter
    by BooMan
    Mon Dec 26th, 2011 at 09:58:04 AM EST

    One thing that is difficult for a political junkie like myself is to suppress a feeling of disdain for people who don’t follow politics and yet want to give you their political opinions. In election season, you will periodically see reporting on undecided voters like this piece in the Washington Post. It’s very formulaic. A reporter goes out and finds three of four or five average citizens who are planning to vote but are having a difficult time figuring out whom to support. The reporter supplies some basic biographical information (a grandmother who looks after a ton of grandkids, a salesmen struggling in a weak economy, a guy who is underemployed but dreams of going to medical school in the Caribbean), and then they provide some of their confused reasoning about the candidates.
    These kinds of pieces always suffer from a sample size problem. If you only use 3-5 people, you can wind up with odd results that make it seem, e.g., that Rick Santorum will be the winner of the Iowa Caucuses. This creates a bias problem, but the articles are really intended to just provide a snapshot of a small corner of the electorate. In this case, it’s the portion of the electorate that is both conservative enough to reject President Obama out of hand, and politically disengaged enough to be surprised to learn about things like Newt Gingrich’s record.

    They’ll vote in the Iowa Caucuses, and they’re taking an active interest in the campaign, but they don’t bring much accumulated political knowledge to the table. In other words, they can be easily influenced by the news story of the day, or by opinion leaders they respect, or by political advertising.

    What the Washington Post piece seeks to demonstrate is that these types of voters are having trouble settling on a candidate. What’s different this year is that the same thing is happening even to more sophisticated and well-informed conservatives. Most of them are with Romney, but only by default and after a process of elimination. Everyone, it seems, wants to support someone else.

    The truth is, though, that these voters (both the informed and semi-informed) really should keep applying their scalpel because they’ll eventually eliminate Romney, too, and realize that the only responsible choice is to reelect the president. They’ll get to that point if they examine their assumptions about the president, which are almost uniformly false. Even where they have Obama pegged correctly, they’re wrong about the Republicans. If they’re concerned about the national debt, for example, and don’t want the U.S. to become like Greece and default on its debts, the last thing they should do is vote for the party of Reagan and Bush. But hope springs eternal with these folks, and next time will be different. Next time, the GOP will eschew tax cuts for the rich, cut spending, and balance the budget. Except, they won’t. They’ve shown who they are now for thirty years, and they’re only getting more psychotic and less evidence-based.

    It’s a sad spectacle to watch the GOP base voter try to use their reasoning faculties, but I have hope for them. Some of them, anyway, are going to figure this thing out

  6. Talking Points Memo:

    Lugar: Tea Party in 2010 “killed off” chance for a Republican Senate

  7. Talking Points Memo:

    CNN reports new evidence casting doubt on Gingrich account of first divorce:

  8. ThinkProgress:

    STUDY: Income inequality in America worse than in Ancient Rome

  9. rikyrah says:

    What the Oregon special election will say about the 2012 vote
    By Josh Lederman – 12/26/11 07:40 AM ET

    The frenzy of activity and early-state voting in the presidential race will take top billing in January, but as the month comes to a close, the verdict will be handed down in another closely watched race in Oregon.

    Suzanne Bonamici, a former Democratic state senator, and Rob Cornilles, a Republican businessman, will spend the first weeks of the new year duking it out ahead of a Jan. 31 special election. The two are vying to fill the empty House seat held until July by former Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.), who resigned amid a sex scandal.

    Democrats have the unambiguous advantage in this left-leaning district and under normal circumstances, the race would attract little attention outside of the Portland area.

    But Bonamici and Cornilles have the questionable fortune of a race that falls less than a year before another election that will determine whether Democrats hold on to the White House and Senate, and retake control of the House. The results of the special House race will be broken down and analyzed for signs of what it could portend about what voters will do in November with a level of scrutiny generally reserved for crime-scene evidence.

    If Bonamici wins by anything less than a 10-point margin, strategists say, Republicans will seize on the results as proof that Americans are rejecting the Democratic approach to righting the economy, and that President Obama has so damaged Democratic prospects that they stand no chance at flipping the 25 GOP-held seats they need to retake the majority in the House.

    If Bonamici stomps out her Republican competition, Democrats will use the win to bolster their argument that the Republican majority in the House has been an abject failure, and that voters will snub the Tea Party mentality by ousting House Republicans in November.

  10. rikyrah says:

    My top 2012 prediction: the Republicans try to ban sex for women

    Looking into my crystal ball, I also predict that 2012 will see Newt Gingrich becoming the face of the family values party and Shane Warne literally becoming Elizabeth Hurley

    Cometh December, it is as traditional as Christmas itself for newspapers to fill their pages with retrospectives of the year. Yet looking backwards causes terrible neck wrinkles, you know. So seeing as I’ve just run out of my daily essential, Sisley Advanced Extra Firming Neck Cream, I shall keep my gaze steadfastly forward and my throat wattle-free. Instead, I shall plop a stylish turban upon my head – star and Saturn patterns are just so now – and carefully remove my crystal ball from my Mulberry Alexa bag – it’s not an It bag; it’s an heirloom – as I gaze into the future, looking at how certain stories that began in 2011 pan out in 2012. Strike up the futuristic music!

    The Republicans ban women from having sex (except with them)

    In 2011 America’s right wing, and especially the Christian right wing, at last let slip what their problem is with contraception and abortion: it’s not squeamishness, morality or a fondness for hanging outside Planned Parenthood clinics toting misspelt placards – they just don’t like women having sex. At all. As Amanda Marcotte wrote this week, in 2011 the anti-choice movement “stopped trying so hard to manage mainstream perceptions of themselves as somehow just great lovers of fetal life, and are coming out with their anti-sex agenda”. This was borne out in their frankly unhinged attacks on Planned Parenthood, the HPV vaccine, insurance coverage of contraception and, as I discussed last week, the puritanical mood they created that encouraged President Obama to restrict access to Plan B, or the morning-after pill, none of which have much to do with abortion and everything to do with women’s temerity to have sex.

    Thus, in 2012 the Republicans propose the female anti-sex bill, in which women are expressly forbidden from having sex with anyone other than the occasional lecherous politician who happens to hurl himself, bodily, sweatily, in her lucky, lucky path.

  11. rikyrah says:

    Republican lawmakers frustrated with Boehner-Cantor soap opera
    By Molly K. Hooper – 12/23/11 05:00 PM ET

    Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) are being prodded by their House GOP colleagues to work through their battle-scarred relationship.

    Republican lawmakers said they are frustrated with the perceived tension between the Speaker and his top lieutenant, especially heading into an election year that will bring a fierce battle with the Democrats for control of the House.

    The stinging payroll-tax defeat has left many in the House GOP exasperated, with some publicly and privately questioning their leaders. A GOP insider said the tensions between Boehner and Cantor loyalists will reverberate into next year, and that the House Republican Conference could be in utter disarray in January and February.

    Members are zeroing in on the Boehner-Cantor relationship, which has had its ups and downs.

    At times, they have been together, effectively challenging President Obama and congressional Democrats. At other times, they have been divided and forced to address the perception that they are rivals.

    Five days after House Republicans charged into the payroll-tax fight without much of a political strategy, Boehner conceded defeat during a news conference Thursday.

    The Speaker appeared at the media briefing alone shortly after declaring surrender to rank-and-file members in a one-way call.

    His solitary mea culpa spoke volumes, especially because several days prior, a GOP lawmaker implored the leadership to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with one another.

    Several lawmakers told The Hill that Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) was one of the first members to speak at a nearly two-and-a-half-hour closed-door conference meeting Monday night, with a simple request: unity at the leadership table.

    A member who attended the meeting paraphrased Cole’s remarks: “I’ll be with you from the first vote to the last one — the only thing I’m asking in return is that you guys be unified. I don’t want to read stories that suggest three of the leaders are on one side and the Speaker’s on the other … the leadership table is to resolve disputes, and if you guys can’t come to a unified decision there, we’ll never be a unified conference.”

    Cole’s call for unity came after an angry, 90-minute conference call Saturday, during which GOP lawmakers attacked the Senate and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for returning an amended payroll-tax-cut bill to the House and then skipping town.

    Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) said: “I’ve been around here long enough to see the way things act. I was — I rarely use the word shocked — that the Senate would send us that piece of trash.”

    As House Republicans battled their GOP counterparts in the Senate this week, they remained perplexed by the split in their own leadership.

  12. rikyrah says:

    December 26, 2011
    Dionne nails it

    For sheer precision in what is too often a wholesale muddle of political definitions, E.J. Dionne this morning is indispensable:

    Obama will … be the conservative in 2012, in the truest sense of that word. He is the candidate defending the modestly redistributive and regulatory government the country has relied on since the New Deal, and that neither Ronald Reagan nor George W. Bush dismantled. The rhetoric of the 2012 Republicans suggests they want to go far beyond where Reagan or Bush ever went.

    I argued a similar case in the run-up to the 2010 congressional elections; I argued that Democrats, in this incontrovertibly center-right nation, should exploit the majority’s professed preference for a philosophical conservatism by declaring themselves the true conservatives (in that they were merely “defending the modestly redistributive and regulatory government the country has relied on since the New Deal”).

    I about got my head handed to me by a progressive community that, I discovered, preferred lofty labels to pragmatic victories.

    Why, Democrats, I was informed — rather, had stridently screamed at me — should never ever recoil from their sacred duty to advance the noble Progressive Cause as progressives; even if their cause, at that painful moment of late 2010, entailed little more than “defending the modestly redistributive and regulatory government the country has relied on since the New Deal” — that is, an essentially conservative cause.

    My sense of the righteous was that if keeping the tea-sipping barbarians at the electoral gates meant expropriating the enemy’s bragging rights to “true conservatism,” then by all means expropriate with a passionate cunning, especially if one’s progressive ass is running in an organically conservative swing district. It wasn’t as though these Democratic candidates would have been lying; indeed, they were campaigning as the true conservatives — see conservation of Social Security, Medicare … — in a minor epic of sweeping radicalism on a fevered rampage.

    Our traditional labels have entered a fluid state of subtle transformation; and if Democrats are to protect their cause, they’ll need to explain the profound conservatism underlying today’s progressivism.

    And with that, I’m taking my daughter to the mall so she can go ‘tweenly radical with her assorted gift cards. God help me.

  13. rikyrah says:

    December 26, 2011 11:50 AM

    Playing the blame game poorly
    By Steve Benen

    Identifying the culprits for global financial industry collapses can be challenging. When it comes to explaining who caused the Great Depression, for example, there are still some spirited debates among legitimate experts.

    That said, it’s generally easier to understand what didn’t cause a crash. And when it comes to the 2008 crisis and the ensuing Great Recession, it’s imperative to understand just how wrong Republicans are.

    The GOP line, especially among the party’s presidential hopefuls, is pretty straightforward: blame government. Candidates like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are convinced — or at least pretend to be convinced for the sake of political appearances — federal housing policy and regulations produced the crash. If Americans want someone to blame, they say, start with Washington in general, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in specific.

    Bloomberg reported last week that the Republican line has been rejected “by the chairman of the Federal Reserve, many economists and even three of the four Republicans on the government commission that investigated the meltdown,” but Romney & Co. don’t care about facts; they care about convincing voters to believe ideologically-satisfying nonsense. Sure, the evidence points to a lack of regulations, but since when does evidence matter?

    For his part, the New York Times’ Joe Nocera appears to be sick of it. Over the weekend, he labeled the Republican line “the Big Lie,” and explained how thoroughly it’s been embraced by Republican policymakers, conservative think tanks, and GOP-friendly media outlets.

    Central to [the argument espoused by Peter Wallison, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a former member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission] is that the government’s effort to encourage homeownership among low- and moderate-income Americans is what led to the crisis. Fannie and Freddie, which were required by law to meet certain “affordable housing mandates,” were the primary instruments of that government policy; their need to meet those mandates, says Wallison, is what caused them to dive so heavily into those “risky” mortgages. And because they were powerful forces in the housing market, their entry into subprime dragged along the rest of the mortgage industry.

    But the S.E.C. complaint makes almost no mention of affordable housing mandates. Instead, it charges that the executives were motivated to begin buying subprime mortgages — belatedly, contrary to the Big Lie — because they were trying to reclaim lost market share, and thus maximize their bonuses.

    As Karen Petrou, a well-regarded bank analyst, puts it: “The S.E.C.’s facts paint a picture in which it wasn’t high-minded government mandates that did [Fannie and Freddie] wrong, but rather the monomaniacal focus of top management on market share.” As I wrote on Tuesday, Fannie and Freddie, rather than leading the housing industry astray, got into riskier mortgages only after the horse was out of the barn. They were becoming irrelevant in the most profitable segment of the market — subprime. And that they couldn’t abide.

    Paul Krugman, referencing Nocera’s column, added, “[W]hat’s going on in the discussion of economic affairs (and other matters, like justifications for war) isn’t just a case where different people look at the same facts but reach different conclusions. Instead, we’re looking at a situation in which one side of the debate just isn’t interested in the truth, in which alleged scholarship is actually just propaganda.”

    It’s worth emphasizing a couple of other relevant angles. First, responsibility matters. When this subject comes up, some on the right prefer to say the “blame game” isn’t worth playing (except when they’re blaming federal regulations), but it’s worth knowing exactly what happened if we’re going to be able to prevent it from happening again. Accountability and responsibility matter, too, especially when the leading Republican presidential candidates are promising to remove safeguards and regulations starting in 2013.

    Second, it’s also worth realizing that for much of the right, they don’t have much of a choice — they have to blame government, even if Fannie and Freddie weren’t to blame, because the alternative would be to accept the intellectual bankruptcy of their worldview. Wall Street and the major financial industry institutions were responsible for the 2008 crash, but for Republicans to accept that fact would lead them to conclusions they’re just not comfortable with: the need for federal regulations that limit recklessness and prevent catastrophes.

    In other words, Republicans have to blame government whether the argument is ridiculous or not — their ideology demands it.

  14. rikyrah says:

    I’m Not Homophobic, I Just Don’t Like Being Around Gays and Their Bathrooms Scare Me
    by John Cole

    This open letter by a former Paul Staffer is a must read. I can’t tell if he is trying to help or hurt Paul, and maybe some of you know what his deal is, but the results of this letter are going to be devastating to the Paul campaign:

    Is Ron Paul a “racist.” In short, No. I worked for the man for 12 years, pretty consistently. I never heard a racist word expressed towards Blacks or Jews come out of his mouth. Not once. And understand, I was his close personal assistant. It’s safe to say that I was with him on the campaign trail more than any other individual, whether it be traveling to Fairbanks, Alaska or Boston, Massachusetts in the presidential race, or across the congressional district to San Antonio or Corpus Christi, Texas.

    He has frequently hired blacks for his office staff, starting as early as 1988 for the Libertarian campaign. He has also hired many Hispanics, including his current District staffer Dianna Gilbert-Kile.

    One caveat: He is what I would describe as “out of touch,” with both Hispanic and Black culture. Ron is far from being the hippest guy around. He is completely clueless when it comes to Hispanic and Black culture, particularly Mexican-American culture. And he is most certainly intolerant of Spanish and those who speak strictly Spanish in his presence, (as are a number of Americans, nothing out of the ordinary here.)

    Is Ron Paul an Anti-Semite? Absolutely No. As a Jew, (half on my mother’s side), I can categorically say that I never heard anything out of his mouth, in hundreds of speeches I listened too over the years, or in my personal presence that could be called, “Anti-Semite.” No slurs. No derogatory remarks.

    He is however, most certainly Anti-Israel, and Anti-Israeli in general. He wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all. He expressed this to me numerous times in our private conversations. His view is that Israel is more trouble than it is worth, specifically to the America taxpayer. He sides with the Palestinians, and supports their calls for the abolishment of the Jewish state, and the return of Israel, all of it, to the Arabs.

    Again, American Jews, Ron Paul has no problem with. In fact, there were a few Jews in our congressional district, and Ron befriended them with the specific intent of winning their support for our campaign. (One synagogue in Victoria, and tiny one in Wharton headed by a well-known Jewish lawyer).


    Is Ron Paul a homo-phobe? Well, yes and no. He is not all bigoted towards homosexuals. He supports their rights to do whatever they please in their private lives. He is however, personally uncomfortable around homosexuals, no different from a lot of older folks of his era.

    There were two incidents that I will cite, for the record. One that involved me directly, and another that involved another congressional staffer or two.

    (I am revealing this for the very first time, and I’m sure Jim Peron will be quite surprised to learn this.)

    In 1988, Ron had a hardcore Libertarian supporter, Jim Peron, Owner of Laissez Faire Books in San Francisco. Jim set up a magnificent 3-day campaign swing for us in the SF Bay Area. Jim was what you would call very openly Gay. But Ron thought the world of him. For 3 days we had a great time trouncing from one campaign event to another with Jim’s Gay lover. The atmosphere was simply jovial between the four of us. (As an aside we also met former Cong. Pete McCloskey during this campaign trip.) We used Jim’s home/office as a “base.” Ron pulled me aside the first time we went there, and specifically instructed me to find an excuse to excuse him to a local fast food restaurant so that he could use the bathroom. He told me very clearly, that although he liked Jim, he did not wish to use his bathroom facilities. I chided him a bit, but he sternly reacted, as he often did to me, Eric, just do what I say. Perhaps “sternly” is an understatement. Ron looked at me directly, and with a very angry look in his eye, and shouted under his breath: “Just do what I say NOW.”


    Ron Paul is most assuredly an isolationist. He denies this charge vociferously. But I can tell you straight out, I had countless arguments/discussions with him over his personal views. For example, he strenuously does not believe the United States had any business getting involved in fighting Hitler in WWII. He expressed to me countless times, that “saving the Jews,” was absolutely none of our business. When pressed, he often times brings up conspiracy theories like FDR knew about the attacks of Pearl Harbor weeks before hand, or that WWII was just “blowback,” for Woodrow Wilson’s foreign policy errors, and such.

    He’s not a bigot cuz he’s hired some “blacks,” he just doesn’t like to be around them or their culture.

    He’s not a homophobe, he just doesn’t want to be around them or see any of their gayness.

    This should be the end of the Paul campaign. If nothing else, it should be fun watching young Conor contort this to fit his worldview.

  15. rikyrah says:

    December 26, 2011 10:05 AM

    Paul boasted about unhinged newsletters
    By Steve Benen

    Among the many problems surrounding Ron Paul’s presidential campaign is the series of radical materials he published in the 1990s. Paul’s newsletters and fundraising appeals, as has been well documented, included racist, homophobic, and anti-Israeli propaganda, as well as bizarre conspiracy theories.

    Paul, when asked about his publications, tends to stick to the same line: he didn’t write much of the content that went out under his name, and was unaware of the offensive content. In many instances, the Republican lawmaker now claims, he didn’t even read his own materials, and just didn’t pay much attention to the entire venture.

    Paul may want to rethink this explanation. Andrew Kaczynski posts this previously unearthed video from 1995, in which the Texan not only acknowledges the “Ron Paul Survival Report,” but boasts about it.

    On a related note, the New York Times reports today on Paul’s racist allies and outreach, and his reluctance to disavow the support of radicals. This isn’t exactly new, but as Paul’s notoriety as a presidential candidate increases, these associations warrant fresh scrutiny.

  16. rikyrah says:

    December 26, 2011 9:30 AM
    Romney’s ‘promise’ to college grads
    By Steve Benen

    On Friday, a college student in New Hampshire reminded Mitt Romney that “many” of those in her generation “find it especially hard to relate” to the former governor as a candidate. She asked why those in her age group should “mobilize” for the Romney campaign, instead of President Obama.

    His response was rather mind-numbing.

    “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.’”

    I still don’t know why anyone takes this guy seriously. It’s easy to get accustomed to cheap political pandering, but who’s going to believe this nonsense?

    If Romney is such an incredible job-creating machine, why did he fail so miserably at job creation during his tenure as a governor? For that matter, how, exactly, does he intent to follow through on this “promise” to get jobs for every college grad in America — through a combination of slashing public investments and more tax cuts for people who don’t need them?

    For that matter, the last time I checked, the nation’s private sector has added 2.9 million jobs since March 2010, and the job market is getting stronger, not weaker. Is Romney convinced none of these jobs will be available to young adults? If so, why?

    Or put another way, what in the world is Romney talking about?

    Incidentally, I also wonder how those recent college graduates will feel once Mitt Romney takes away their health care coverage. I have a hunch they might have a problem with that. (Indeed, it’s a subject College Republicans aren’t eager to discuss.)

  17. rikyrah says:

    December 26, 2011 8:45 AM

    What we don’t know can hurt us
    By Steve Benen

    The New York Times’s Justin Gillis reported over the weekend on the extreme weather conditions seen in the United States in 2011. Whereas a typical year features three or four weather disasters with costs exceeding $1 billion each, this year has seen 12 — and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “has not finished counting.”

    Many thought 2010 was unusually brutal, and might prove to be an aberration, but 2011 turned out to be worse.

    Weather Underground co-founder Jeffrey Masters said, “I’ve been a meteorologist 30 years and never seen a year that comes close to matching 2011 for the number of astounding, extreme weather events. Looking back in the historical record, which goes back to the late 1800s, I can’t find anything that compares, either.”

    Not surprisingly, a growing number of Americans want to get a better sense of why and how this is happening, and the extent to which climate change and human activity are playing a role. For many this is not simply a matter of idle curiosity — as the Washington Post reported last month, “Farmers are wondering when to plant. Urban planners want to know whether groundwater will stop flowing under subdivisions. Insurance companies need climate data to help them set rates.”

    The technology and research tools exist to help answer many of the lingering questions, including those surrounding the possible relationship between a warming planet and tornadoes and hurricanes. Congressional Republicans, however, are standing in the way.

    [D]oing this on a regular basis would probably require new personnel spread across several research teams, along with a strong push by the federal government, which tends to be the major source of financing and direction for climate and weather research. Yet Washington is essentially frozen on the subject of climate change.

    This year, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tried to push through a reorganization that would have provided better climate forecasts to businesses, citizens and local governments, Republicans in the House of Representatives blocked it. The idea had originated in the Bush administration, was strongly endorsed by an outside review panel and would have cost no extra money. But the House Republicans, many of whom reject the overwhelming scientific consensus about the causes of global warming, labeled the plan an attempt by the Obama administration to start a “propaganda” arm on climate.

    In an interview, Jane Lubchenco, the director of NOAA, rejected that claim and said her agency had been deluged with information requests regarding future climate risks. “It’s truly unfortunate that we are not allowed to become more effective and efficient in delivering that information,” she said.

    NOAA does finance research to understand the causes of weather extremes, as do the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. But with the strains on the federal budget, Dr. Lubchenco said, “it’s going to be more and more challenging to devote resources to many of our research programs.”

    It’s worth keeping in mind that Republicans are not only blocking investments in the research; they’re also blocking access to the research. NOAA wanted to create a National Climate Service along the lines of the National Weather Service. The price tag for taxpayers? Literally nothing.

    Republicans still refused, prohibiting NOAA from acting.

    History, like our environmental conditions, will not be kind.

  18. rikyrah says:

    December 26, 2011 8:00 AM

    Virginia’s ballot-access debacle
    By Steve Benen

    Virginia will hold its Republican presidential primary on Super Tuesday (March 6), it would appear to be one of the more important contests. But the state’s unwise ballot-access laws have ensured that Virginia will be largely ignored.

    By late Thursday, it looked as if Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry had collected the necessary signatures and would join Mitt Romney and Ron Paul on the Virginia GOP ballot. On Saturday morning, we learned otherwise.

    Newt Gingrich will not appear on the Virginia presidential primary ballot, state Republican Party officials announced Saturday, after he failed to submit the required number of valid signatures to qualify.

    The announcement was made on the Virginia Republican Party’s Twitter account. On Friday evening, the Republican Party of Virginia made a similar announcement for Governor Rick Perry of Texas.

    Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum also came up short, which leaves Paul and Romney as the only GOP candidates whose names will appear on the primary ballot.

    For Gingrich, this is a rather awkward setback. He expected to do very well in Virginia — Gingrich has, after all, lived in the state for many years — and assured supporters on Thursday that his name would be on the ballot. Complicating matters, the Gingrich campaign responded to the news by saying it would “pursue an aggressive write-in campaign,” not realizing that this is forbidden under Virginia election law.


    Making matters slightly worse, Gingrich’s campaign director posted an item to Facebook that said, “Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941: We have experienced an unexpected set-back, but we will re-group and re-focus with increased determination, commitment and positive action.”

    Yes, after having been denied a ballot slot, Gingrich’s thoughts turned to Pearl Harbor. There’s a good reason I describe the disgraced former House Speaker as a lousy historian.

    But this story is about more than just Gingrich’s failure. The larger point is that Virginia has ridiculous ballot-access laws, which will exclude five of the seven Republican presidential candidates from even appearing on the state’s ballot. If all seven had qualified, Virginia would have been home to a spirited contest — with candidates making many appearances, buying plenty of ads, and making lots of state-focused promises.

    Instead, Virginia has made itself irrelevant in the Republican nominating contest.

  19. Hat tip Anita Christine

  20. Obama’s campaign seeks to surpass $200 mn

    Washington: US President Barack Obama’s campaign has set a goal of raising 60 million dollars in the fourth quarter of the year, a Democratic official has said.

    If it makes that goal, Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee will have surpassed the 200 million dollars goal for 2011.

    The Democrat official told a news channel that overall, the campaign seeks to raise more than 750 million dollars to boost Obama’s bid for a second term in the White House.

    According to the report, Democrats raised 86 million dollars for the President’s reelection in the second quarter this year, after getting started in April.

  21. Paging Joe Walsh: Democrat introduces bill to ban deadbeat parents from the ballot

    A bill clearly inspired by U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh’s child support issues would forbid people owing more than $10,000 in back child support from running for office in Illinois.
    House Bill 3932, filed Tuesday by state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, would require statements of candidacy to include a statement that the person running for office is not delinquent by $10,000 or more.

  22. ThinkProgress:

    REPORT: 23 straight polls find Americans overwhelmingly want to raise taxes to pay down debt #bestof11

  23. Trump leaves Republican Party after debate snub

    (Reuters) – Businessman and reality TV personality Donald Trump has left the Republican Party, changing his voter registration to independent in his home state of New York, in a move that could facilitate a potential third-party presidential run in 2012, U.S. media reported on Friday.

  24. The 2011 Hanukkah Lamp

  25. rikyrah says:

    Sunday, December 25, 2011
    Republicans Re-Gifting Ideas
    Posted by Zandar

    Ross Douthat drags out the old “We’ve destroyed the American family unit!” canard again, just in time for the holidays, and digs through the closet of old GOP chestnuts until he finds an idea he likes and re-wraps it for his column today.

    Millions of Americans know this all too well, because the darker possibilities the Christmas stories hint at — divorce, abandonment, childhood suffering — are realities they have to live with every day. But that unhappy knowledge isn’t evenly distributed. In 21st-century America, the well-off and well-educated have the best odds of enjoying the domestic stability that the Yuletide stories celebrate, while the very people who most need resilient families — the Cratchits and Baileys, the working poor and the hard-pressed middle class — are less and less likely to have them.

    This domestic dissolution plays a role in a host of socioeconomic ills: stagnating blue-collar wages, weakening upward mobility, stalling high school graduation rates, even the increase in juvenile obesity and diabetes. But it isn’t an issue that politicians of either party are particularly comfortable addressing. Liberals worry about seeming paternalistic and judgmental; conservatives recoil from the idea of increasing the government’s role in the most intimate of spheres. Thus America has a crisis of family life, but no family policy to speak of.

    He’s wrong on both counts there, because he wouldn’t be Ross Douthat otherwise. Liberals don’t worry about being paternalistic and judgmental when it comes to helping Americans who are truly in need, and conservatives have no issues with “the idea of increasing the government’s role in the most intimate of spheres” when it comes to legislating how, if, and when a woman’s uterus should be used, and it doesn’t get more intimate than that.

    What conservatives like Douthat mean by “family policy” is federal legislation blocking abortion and contraception as “against God’s plan” and criminalizing as many medical professionals as possible who may provide those services to women. It’s ridiculous and backwater, and yet he completely rejects what nearly every other industrialized country outside the US has.

    But there are costs to the European approach. Government-guaranteed leave often gives less financial relief to a mother or father who is already at home full time. And Europe’s overall web of regulations and job protections makes the labor market more rigid and less accommodating to part-time work — which is the kind of work that mothers, especially, tend to want. (A recent survey of American parents found that 58 percent of married women with children preferred part-time to full-time work, compared with 20 percent of husbands.)

    A more flexible alternative, championed by the conservative writers Ramesh Ponnuru and Robert Stein, would change the way we tax families, dramatically expanding the child tax credit in order to ease the burden on parents with young children. Their proposal would leave contemporary Baileys and Cratchits with more disposable income and more options without favoring one approach to parenting over another.

    So no, why should we have what Canada has? It would be bad for business and would mean fewer jobs. Instead, we should have tax cuts, which solve everything, the same old re-gift that conservatives give every year when this “state of the family” column is written.

    Obviously, neither generous parental leave nor an expanded child tax credit is a magic bullet for the problem of family breakdown. But if Democrats were championing the first idea and Republicans were championing the second, we would at least have the beginnings of a healthy conversation about family policy, instead of the conspicuous silence that surrounds the country’s biggest social crisis. And it’s hard to imagine a policy debate that’s better suited to the season.

    Actually, Democrats have been trying to expand the child tax credit for years now and recently tried to expand the payroll tax credit in order to give families more of what they earned this year. Republicans blocked it. In 2010 President Obama proposed doubling the Child Care Tax Credit as well as increasing funding for child care subsidies for working families. Republicans blocked it too. They blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act while they were at it. Republicans are entirely uninterested in families and taxes, unless it means making them pay more so that we can cut taxes on the rich.

    Republicans don’t want to have a conversation about family policy, because their entire family policy consists of outlawing abortion and treating women like second class citizens and their needs as financial burdens on the American business owner than men don’t generate. And Ross Douthat is one of the reasons why we can’t have that discussion, with his mealy-mouthed “both sides are at fault” nonsense.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Monday, December 26, 2011
    Who’s Running Pyongyang?
    Posted by Zandar

    With the death of Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, the power brokers inside the country are emerging…at least the ones that North Korea wants us to see.

    North Korean television Sunday showed power-behind-the-throne Jang Song-thaek in the uniform of a general in a sign of his growing sway after the death of Kim Jong-il, and Japan’s prime minister said the region faced a new phase with Kim’s demise.

    Footage that North Korean television said was shot on Saturday showed Jang on the frontrow of top military officers who accompanied Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of Kim Jong-il and his anointed successor, paying their respects before Kim’s body.

    The choreography around Kim’s death is one of the secretive North’s few, opaque clues to the emerging configuration of power in this poor and isolated state that has rattled neighbors with nuclear tests and military brinkmanship.

    A Seoul official familiar with North Korea affairs said it was the first time Jang has been shown on state television in a military uniform. His appearance suggested that Jang has secured a key role in the North’s powerful military, which has pledged its allegiance to Kim Jong-un.

    So what do we know about Jang? He’s married to Kim Jong-il’s younger sister, making him Kim the younger’s uncle. He’s been rumored to be the guy running the show since Kim’s stroke in 2008, and this latest appearance seems to be removing the “rumored” part and emerging as regent behind the throne, as he’s managed to work his way up in the ranks of the inner circle of power. A lot of analysts are hanging their hat on Jang being the man right now, which makes me wonder if it’s really true.

    Everyone is officially keen on Kim the younger being in charge however. I don’t buy it for a second, but we’ll soon see how much power Jang actually wields.

  27. rikyrah says:

    House Dems prepping for fight over cuts to jobless benefits
    By Vicki Needham – 12/26/11 07:15 AM ET

    House Democrats are critical of GOP proposals that make sweeping changes to the federal unemployment benefits program, but are holding back specifics on how they intend to work out those differences as both sides line up for a battle over extending jobless assistance.

    The two sides face a deep divide on what to include and how to cover the $200 billion cost of jobless benefits legislation that is expected to extend the policies through the 2012 elections.

    On the cusp of early talks between House and Senate conferees over how to pass a yearlong payroll tax cut extension — which includes a reauthorization of federal unemployment benefits and a Medicare “doc fix”— Democratic leaders would only say Friday that “there will be time to get to those specifics” and that there “are differences between the two parties and they will have to be addressed.”

    House Ways and Means ranking member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said Friday that “those differences have been expressed before and they’re significant ones that need to be worked out” putting Republicans and Democrats on widely divergent paths over how to overhaul the unemployment benefits system.

    Levin has been particularly critical of the House Republican proposal to cut benefits by 40 weeks from a maximum of 99 weeks to 59 weeks within six months. The plan — included in the House passed payroll tax bill — called for an immediate 20-week cut in January followed by another 20-week reduction in the summer.

  28. rikyrah says:

    L.A. Times: Earth’s Top 10 Biggest Enemies in Congress
    By Climate Guest Blogger on Dec 15, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Republicans launched an unprecedented frontal assault against environmental protections and regulations this year, prompting Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) to call his chamber “the most anti-environment House in history.” Here are the 10 most powerful and outspoken opponents of clean air, clean water, conservation and climate action.

    That’s the Los Angeles Times editorial board opening its “Year in Review: Congress’ 10 biggest enemies of the Earth,” what they call “Observations and provocations from The Times’ Opinion staff.”

    Here are the opponents 10 to 8:

    10. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. Thought to be the biggest lifetime recipient of oil-industry contributions in the Senate, Cornyn has rewarded Exxon-Mobil’s largesse by supporting the industry’s position on pretty much every energy or environmental issue that has ever appeared before him. That’s why he, like everyone on this list, has a “0″ on the League of Conservation Voters’ scorecard for pro-environment votes.

    9. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. A tireless advocate for opening Alaska’s pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, Young was involved in one of the more entertaining name-calling spats in Congress this year when he got into a tiff over the refuge with author and professor Doug Brinkley. You can be the judge of who won by watching the video replay.

    8. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista [CA]. There may have been a time when the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee lived up to its name, investigating and bringing to light incidents of government waste, fraud and abuse. But I can’t remember back that far. In recent decades it has served as a tool for the majority party in the House to bash and embarrass the presidential administration, at least during times such as now when the House isn’t controlled by the president’s party. Issa, the committee’s current chairman, has turned such political gamesmanship into an art form, and has been particularly keen to attack environmental regulators and policymakers. In so doing he has turned up precious little waste or fraud, but provided plenty of political theater for those who want to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency or end subsidies for clean energy.

  29. rikyrah says:

    Mitt Romney’s secret money
    By Editorial Board, Published: December 25
    MITT ROMNEY is zero for two when it comes to transparency in campaigning.

    First, Mr. Romney — breaking with the practice of previous Republican presidential candidates, including George W. Bush and John McCain — has refused to release the identities of his bundlers, the well-connected fundraisers who help the campaign haul in stacks of checks adding up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Mr. Romney is under no legal obligation to reveal his bundlers, other than the relative handful who are also registered lobbyists.

    But that is not, or at least should not be, the end of the discussion. As Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain, among others, recognized in agreeing to reveal the identities and, within broad categories, amounts collected by their bundlers, the flood of details about relatively trivial campaign donations is far less important than knowing the identity of these essential supporters. Federal election law requires that campaigns report the names of those giving $200 or more, but the existence and proliferation of bundlers means the truly valuable information, about which fundraisers the campaign is most indebted to, remains secret. Mr. Romney’s position is an unfortunate step back.

    Now Mr. Romney has doubled down on this lack of transparency, telling NBC that he does not intend to release his tax returns even if he becomes the Republican presidential nominee. “Never say never, but I don’t intend to do so,” Mr. Romney said Wednesday. On Thursday, that stance seemed to be softening somewhat, to: “We don’t have any current plans to release tax returns, but never say never.’’ This is unacceptable and, as with the Romney campaign’s stance on bundlers, a sharp departure from previous practice. Some presidential candidates, including Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) and John McCain, balked — incorrectly in our view — at releasing tax returns during the primary season.

    Yet it has become a given that nominees, much like presidents and vice presidents, release their income tax returns. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has released his, and former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R) pledged he would do so upon becoming the nominee. As with bundlers, Mr. Romney hides behind legal requirements. It is true that candidates are required to file financial disclosure forms, but tax returns provide information not otherwise available, including charitable contributions and effective tax rates.

    During Mr. Romney’s 1994 bid to unseat Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), he called on the senator to release his tax returns to prove he had “nothing to hide.” Yet Mr. Romney did not release his own returns during that campaign or his subsequent run for, and service as, governor. Would a President Romney release his tax returns? We posed that question to his campaign, twice, and did not receive an answer.

  30. Ametia says:

    Obama: The conservative in 2012
    By E.J. Dionne Jr., Published: December 25
    At a moment when the nation wonders whether politicians can agree on anything, here is something that unites the Republican presidential candidates — and all of them with President Obama: Everyone agrees that the 2012 election will be a turning point involving one of the most momentous choices in U.S. history.

    True, candidates (and columnists) regularly cast an impending election as the most important ever. Campaigning last week in Pella, Iowa, Republican Rick Santorum acknowledged as much. But he insisted that this time, the choice really was that fundamental. “The debate,” he said, “is about who we are.”

  31. dannie22 says:

    good morning

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