Serendipity SOUL | Tuesday Open Thread | “Old School Week”

Wiki: Heatwave was an international funk/disco musical band featuring Americans Johnnie Wilder, Jr. and Keith Wilder (vocals) of Dayton, Ohio, Englishman Rod Temperton (keyboards), Swiss Mario Mantese (bass), Czechoslovak Ernest “Bilbo” Berger (drums), Jamaican Eric Johns (guitar) and Briton Roy Carter (guitar).

They were known for their successful songs “Boogie Nights” and “Always and Forever” (from their 1976 debut album, Too Hot to Handle), and “The Groove Line” (from their 1978 follow-up album, Central Heating).

Double treat!

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67 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Tuesday Open Thread | “Old School Week”

  1. The Washington Post:

    In 3 years, the Obama administration has built a vast drone/killing operation:

  2. Lawrence O’Donnell:

    Breaking News…Spoke to Bob Kerry today who is leaving the door open for a Senate run in Nebraska.

  3. Ametia says:


  4. U.S. President Barack Obama’s motorcade drives through the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on December 27, 2011 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Obama is spending the Christmas holiday in his native Hawaii with his family.

  5. NBC Politics:

    Perry now opposes all abortion, even in rape cases

  6. Ametia says:

    Dog saves family from house fire in SE
    A family’s 2-year-old Yorkie saved them when a fire broke out in their house in Southeast Tuesday.

  7. Ametia says:

    Moving melee causes chaos at packed Mall of America
    Article by: DAVID CHANEN and SUZANNE ZIEGLER , Star Tribune Updated: December 27, 2011 – 9:24 AM

    Some stores shut down Monday night as panicked shoppers fled. At least 10 youths were arrested.

    A noisy, racing crowd of more than 200 young people created a chaotic scene at the packed Mall of America Monday evening, sending frightened shoppers scrambling for safety and causing some stores to close early, eyewitnesses and officials said.

    It took more than an hour to quell the disturbance, which began about 4:20 p.m. as a single fight involving a large group in a food court and quickly spread through the nation’s largest mall, said mall spokeswoman Bridget Jewell. Bloomington police and mall security arrested at least 10 juveniles and young adults on suspicion of disorderly conduct, police said Monday

  8. Ametia says:

    Posted at 12:48 PM ET, 12/27/2011
    Obama to ask for increase in debt ceiling
    By Felicia Sonmez and Zachary A. Goldfarb

    President Obama will ask this week for a $1.2 trillion raise in the federal borrowing limit, according to a Treasury Department official.

    The action would raise the country’s debt ceiling to $16.4 trillion from $15.2 trillion. News of Obama’s request was first reported by Reuters.

    Lest the words “debt ceiling” spark panic over the possibility of another showdown with Congress that could bring the nation to the brink of default, fear not. The August debt deal provides for a $1.2 trillion increase that can be blocked only if Congress passes a “resolution of disapproval.”

  9. Ametia says:

    Progressives rejoice (or despair…) Ben Nelson to retire from Congress, **UPDATE: Nelson’s mixed voting record
    December 27, 2011 ·

    When Ben Nelson announces his plans to retire from the United States Senate (as he’s expected to do today)… progressive Democrats will start popping the champagne corks at seeing one of the bains of their existence finally go away. They shouldn’t.
    Nelson’s Senate tenure is a classic study in big tent politics — the kind that at this point, pretty much only the Democrats play (Republicans have exactly three moderates in their caucus: the two Senators from Maine and the soon-to-be former, short-lived Republican Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown, though all three vote with Mitch McConnell on pretty much every “leadership” (read filibuster) vote.)

    For Democrats, being a majority in the Senate, and formerly the House, meant tolerating the presence of some pretty unpleasant characters if you’re of the liberal persuasion: Nelson, Blanche Lincoln (the former Senator from Arkansas), Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Max Baucus of Montana, ex-Senator Evan Bayh (who left his party high and dry by vacating his seat mid-term…) the newest member of the club, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and of course, Joe Lieberman.

  10. Ametia says:

    The Top 15 Most Dangerous Conservative Politicians And Government Officials To Watch In 2012
    December 27, 2011
    By Stephen D. Foster Jr.

    From the Supreme Court to the halls of Congress to governor’s mansions across the country, conservatives have ruthlessly pushed an agenda that has torn America asunder since 1980. As 2011 comes to a close, conservatives are still trying to push failed policies. This is a list of 15 individual conservatives that pose a significant threat to American society as we move into 2012 and beyond.

    1. John Roberts) The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court leads four other conservative judges on the bench. Placed on the high court by President Bush, John Roberts has been influential in changing campaign finance laws (Citizens United) and has since ruled in favor of big corporations. And the conservative court isn’t through yet. Conservatives desire to overturn abortion, environmental laws, President Obama’s health care law, and voting rights laws, and you can bet that they are aiming to use the Supreme Court to do it

    read the remaining 14 here:

  11. Obama, Clinton top most-admired lists for 2011

    Reprints & PermissionsBarack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton are the nation’s most admired man and woman — again — in the annual USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.

    Each leads their category with 17% of votes in top 10 lists that favor the most familiar names in global politics, religion, entertainment and culture.

    Linda Dinco, 62, of Latrobe, Pa., says she named Obama and Secretary of State Clinton for their “intelligence and their toughness.”

  12. Ametia says:

    4Comments Sen. Ben Nelson won’t seek reelection
    Posted by Aaron Blake at 01:29 PM ET, 12/27/2011

    Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) is set to announce he will not seek reelection, according to sources, leaving his seat as a strong pickup opportunity for the GOP in the 2012 election.

    Nelson, 70, could announce his retirement as early as today, according to sources familiar with his plans. The news was first reported by Politico.

    The national Democratic Party had spent more than $1 million in advertising this year driving up Nelson’s personal approval rating, perhaps in hopes of convincing him that he could win in a dark red state. But Republican-aligned groups also spent heavily trying to define the moderate Democrats as an enabler of President Obama, particularly because Nelson voted for Obama’s health care bill.

  13. Ametia says:

    Ben Nelson will not seek another 2012 senate term.

  14. Ametia says:

    December 26, 2011
    ICYMI: Scott Walker’s Shocking Year-End Revelations

    Won’t tell us when he leaves the state, Calls his phony Koch call “stupid,” Admits to meeting with subject of criminal probe

    MADISON – Amid a year-end self-preservation media tour as Wisconsin leads the nation in job loss, where he desperately is spinning an abysmal record of failure as somehow having made Wisconsin “better,” Scott Walker let slip some shocking revelations that raise even more red flags.

    1. Walker Won’t Tell us When He Leaves the State: A new media report explains Scott Walker has been purposefully deceitful yet again: this time, he refuses to tell voters when he’s left the state he was elected to govern. Why doesn’t he want us to know when, where and why he’s out-of-state? Because he’s been making these secret, unannounced trips to raise sleazy corporate campaign contributions.

    Apparently, to follow the money, we just need to follow Walker. “Walker just completed the single most lucrative period of fundraising for a candidate in state history,” the report said.

    2. Walker Calls His Phony Koch Call “Stupid”: In a startling moment of candor, Scott Walker admitted to reporters that his February call (full transcript available here) with whom he thought was billionaire oil tycoon David Koch, who made contributions to Walker’s gubernatorial campaign totaling $43,000, and a $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors Association, which spent $3.4 million on television ads in support of Walker’s campaign was, “stupid.”

    In the call, which took place on state time using state resources, Walker sang his own praises for his numerous national media appearances, stated that he would trick Democratic senators into returning to Wisconsin by promising to “listen” to them, but would actually force a vote on his contentious legislation, requested illegal campaign assistance and coordination, and, most disturbingly, admitted that he considered inserting violent troublemakers into the peaceful protest to incite chaos.

  15. Ametia says:

    Sears to close 100 to 120 Kmart, Sears stores
    December 27, 2011 7:20 AM

    (AP) NEW YORK – Between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores will be closed, the retailer said Tuesday, after terrible holiday sales during what is the most crucial time of the year for retailers.

    Sears has yet to determine which stores will be closed, but there has been a clear shift in where the retailer will devote its resources.

    Brisk “Mega Monday” business buoys some retailers

    The company is moving away from its practice of propping up “marginally performing” stores in hopes of improving their performance. Sears said it will now concentrate on cash-generating stores.

    “Given our performance and the difficult economic environment, especially for big-ticket items, we intend to implement a series of actions to reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model,” said CEO Louis D’Ambrosio. “These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers.”

    Sears would not discuss how many, if any, jobs would be cut.

  16. HuffPost Politics:

    Obama set to ask Congress to raise the debt ceiling again

  17. dannie22 says:

    hello everyone!!

  18. I love Heatwave!!!

    Oh, it takes me back. Yeah!

  19. rikyrah says:

    Americans rank mixed race people ahead of blacks socially
    By Jay Scott Smith

    8:25 AM on 12/21/2011

    It is one of the black community’s most pervasive issues, one that held on through slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights movement: dark skinned vs. light skinned. A recent study shows that people of mixed race are placed below whites socially, but ahead of blacks, adding more fuel to the fire.

    A study by Pamela Bennett, an assistant professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University, found that multiracial people — such as black-white, Asian-white or Native American-white — fall between blacks and whites in the American social hierarchy.

    Bennett also studied the connection between race, residence and socioeconomic status applies to people of multiple races rather than racial minorities.

    “For patterns of segregation, taking socioeconomic status into account does not change that picture,” Bennett said. “So while some scholars and activists view official recognition of multiracial identities as a movement toward the deconstruction of race, I caution against such an optimistic narrative for now.”

    Bennett also used residential segregation, studying Census numbers from 2000-2010, as an indicator of a social position. Bennett attempted to determine what the segregation of groups from both whites and minorities says about social position.

    She found less segregation with people who are mixed black and white when compared to those who identify as fully black. Yet the black-white multiracial people are more segregated than Asian-white or Native American multiracial. Bennett’s full findings will be released once additional census figures are received. The issues of dark vs. light, however, still rages in the black community.

    The idea that light-skinned blacks hold a higher standing than dark-skinned blacks is still a large point of contention in the black community. A recent Villanova University study showed that light-skinned black women receive lesser prison sentences than dark-skinned women.

    The study, which sampled of over 12,000 black women imprisoned in North Carolina between 1995 and 2009, showed that light-skinned women are sentenced to 12 percent less time behind bars than their darker skinned counterparts.

  20. rikyrah says:

    California city council candidate apologizes for threatening Obama
    By theGrio

    3:09 PM on 12/22/2011

    The Carson City Councill candidate that threatened President Obama Monday has apologized after a visit from the Secret Service.

    Jules Manson said federal agents paid him a visit at home to investigate a threat he posted to Facebook early this week. “Agents Corey, Andy, and Stephanie were very pleasant with me,” he wrote. “They must have had 30 questions. They listened to what I had to say.”

    George Ogilvie, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service, said to the New York Daily News, “We’re aware of the situation and conducting appropriate follow-up.”

    Manson posted, “Assassinate the f*****g n****r and his monkey children” to his public Facebook account Monday. He followed up that post with another stating, “I have something to admit to all you good people. I am very RACIST: an Insidious American Against Socialist Takeover. Now that I own up to my faults, please stop clutching at your pearls as you gasp for air while you get the vapors. Did your prissy virgin ears bleed at my original rant?”

    Manson has since deleted and apologized for the first post saying that he is not a racist but used the “most hateful and vial words” to express his feelings over the president passing the National Defense Authorization Act

  21. President Barack Obama rides in his motorcade through the neighborhood near his rental holiday vacation home in Kailua, Hawaii, Monday, Dec. 26, 2011. President Obama was traveling to go hiking nearby with family and friends

  22. We are respectable negroes: What Do They Call a President Who Happens to be Black? If You Are Fox ..

  23. rikyrah says:

    Melody Barnes trades White House for family life
    By Sophia A. Nelson

    2:30 PM on 12/23/2011

    Among the achievements Barnes said she is proudest of:

    • Education reform, including $100 billion in American Recovery Act dollars; the Race to the Top Challenge which, for just 1 percent of our nation’s spending on education, inspired 40 states to reform their education laws to create rigorous college and career ready standards; and the Investing in Innovation fund and School Improvement Grants, designed to turn around the nation’s lowest-performing schools.

    • Efforts to reduce higher education costs by ending subsidies for private student lenders and giving $40 billion in savings back to students, raising the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,550, supporting the nation’s community colleges, and providing tax credits to help families pay for college.

    • Implementing the Affordable Care Act, which the administration says will provide health coverage to 34 million uninsured Americans, and make health care more affordable.

    • Advocating comprehensive immigration reform, and reforming enforcement procedures to focus on securing the nation’s borders; holding employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers accountable, and focusing enforcement resources on those illegal migrants who are a threat to public safety and national security.

    • Establishing the first White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation and establishing the Social Innovation Fund to strengthen the non-profit sector, promote public-private partnerships and engage more Americans in strengthening their communities.

    I asked Barnes how she felt the Obama administration had performed on domestic policy and jobs relative to the Black community — a subject of some controversy this year. Her answer was revealing.

    “When we came in we had to assess just where things were,” Barnes said. “The black community had been hard hit by the recession since 2007, and it wasn’t until December 2008, sitting in the presidential transition headquarters in Chicago, that we realized the full scope of how bad the economic situation was for all Americans. But for the black community the impact was even moreso. We had to get here to do the work, in order to talk about the work; not the other way around, which is often the case in Washington.”

    “Despite what many of our critics say about our lack of attentiveness to the black community, we have a large basket of policy achievements that have directly impacted in a positive way the community,” Barnes said.

    So, what’s next for Barnes?

    “Be clear,” Barnes said, “the first thing I told the president when I informed him that I was going to leave my post, is that he can count on me for the re-election campaign.”

    And yet, you could see in her eyes the toll the heavy workload at the White House has taken on this still young woman’s life over the past few years.

    “Look, these jobs are an honor,” said Barnes. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work for this president as I have. But it’s a 24/7 commitment. That’s our job, but it does take a toll on your family and personal life.”

  24. rikyrah says:

    The Dangerous Rhetoric and Plutocratic Dreams Of The 2012 GOP

    Politicians often frame upcoming elections as a defining moment in history that decides the fate and direction of a country; this year is no different. There is a fundamental difference between the two political parties and this year Republicans envision a contest that evokes pre-Civil War America, except this time, it is much more than slavery that divides the nation. At issue is whether or not America has a functioning government and voters must decide if the Constitution is still relevant to preserving democracy or whether it has worn out its usefulness as the law of the land. It appears that the major question Americans must ponder is what kind of country they want and more importantly, what kind of people Americans aspire to be.

    The Republican candidates for their party’s nomination for president have all weighed in on the importance of the 2012 general election and made statements that summon fear and hopelessness at the prospect of giving President Obama and Democrats any say in governing America. All of the Republicans portray America as a nation on the decline because their vision of America, a vision that portends poverty for the masses and more wealth accumulated at the top, is not proceeding fast enough to satisfy the wealthy elite or theocratic fundamentalists.

    The Republican Party portrays the federal government as destroying the economy, oppressing free enterprise and unrestrained capitalism, and tyrannizing Americans. The Republicans are attempting to redefine the current government as a radical Socialistic entity because programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and federal agencies from transportation to safe medicines and food helps protect the American people and not big business. President Obama and Democrats see the government as protecting fair competition, preventing privatization of public agencies, a necessity to maintain a healthy economy, and the tool to give opportunities to those who are not born into wealth.

    Mitt Romney said the impending election is, “not to replace a president but to save a vision of America. It’s a choice between two destinies,” and he urged voters to ask; “Who are we as Americans, and what kind of America do we want for our children?” Romney has given America a glimpse into his vision for America and it is a nightmare for this country now and herald’s disaster for our children and their children’s children. Romney’s vision is where corporations have the only voice in government and gives American’s assets to the wealthiest 1% and their corporations. He envisions a country where Massachusetts’s residents have universal healthcare but the rest of the country wallows in ill-health because he promised to repeal the Affordable Health Act on his first day in office. Willard Romney, as much as any Republican candidate, foresees an America that punishes gays and women for not adhering to biblical edicts and suppresses individuality and prosperity for all but the wealthy elite. The destiny Romney envisions will take this country on a path of economic ruin by exceeding Bush-era conservative policies as well as Koch brother’s Libertarian, unrestricted and unregulated free market capitalism that nearly caused a world-wide economic collapse.

    Newt Gingrich said the upcoming election is “the most important election since 1860, because there’s such a dramatic difference between the best food-stamp president in history and the best paycheck candidate.” Gingrich’s comments are fallacious and dirty campaign rhetoric, but his reference to pre-Civil War does signify a great divide between liberal and conservative ideologies dating back to the Great Depression, not the Civil war. Republicans promote unrestricted corporate malfeasance unfettered from government regulations that is essentially different from a government that protects its citizens from poverty, ill-health, and no hope of ever escaping despair. Rick Perry promises to return to pre-New Deal America and make “Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as he can make it.” By inconsequential, Perry means eliminating government programs that are consequential to starving Americans as well as every American who enjoys a safe food supply, roads and highways, and agencies that safeguard against unrestricted and unregulated corporate domination. Perry, like Romney, Gingrich, and the rest of the Republican candidates are promising to eliminate the government, and they are not just referring to lower taxes or reducing the federal deficit. Willard Romney typifies Republican ideologues and liars to claim, for example, that President Obama’s intent is to change America into an egalitarian society akin to Communism.

    Romney made some accusations about President Obama that, besides being false, are meant to frighten hardworking Americans into believing the President will steal their wealth and redistribute it to undeserving Americans. Romney claimed in a campaign speech that the President “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.” Although his statement is absolutely fallacious, it reveals the Republican mantra that Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits, food stamps, and student loans are unfair instances of redistributing wealth and are taking America on a path toward a communal society.

    All of the rhetoric from Republicans attempting to portray the government as the root of all evil and America’s problems is an attempt to undo New Deal programs that took America from a corporate, monopolistic society to a country that provided a better standard of living for Americans then and into the future. Bush and Reagan tried unsuccessfully to dismantle the New Deal that Americans have depended on and support, and the current GOP class is back again for another assault on FDR with privatization scams and scare-tactics that if successful, will be the ultimate redistribution of Americans’ wealth. Privatizing Social Security and Medicare takes Americans’ tax dollars and redistributes them to Wall Street and the insurance industry to eliminate the part of government that protects Americans in their old-age and ill-health.

    The goal of Romney, Perry, Gingrich and the rest of the Republican field is to change America into a plutocracy and destroy any vestiges of democracy. The Republicans have sent a message that federal courts that protect Americans’ freedoms will be eliminated by presidential decree and effectively render the Constitution null and void. Republicans signed on to the Grover Norquist school that promises to drown the government in a bathtub that plays well to the tea party who cheered at the news of S&P’s downgrade of America’s credit rating, but for nearly half of Americans who are stuck in poverty and depend on social safety nets for food and shelter, eliminating the government is not an option. For half of America that suffers the effects of Republican’s financial deregulation that caused the Great Recession, Romney’s contention that President Obama will take assets they do not have and redistribute them smacks of vitriolic lies and misinformation.

    The upcoming election is a referendum on what kind of people and country America will become. Will Americans choose to be selfish, greedy people who believe the poor, disabled, seniors, and children deserve to go hungry and homeless, or a unified country intent on helping all citizens achieve a decent, productive life? If Republicans have their way, America becomes a population of peasants serving the wealthy elite and attempts to destroy the government reach fruition. It is a simple choice.

    The GOP has created a glimpse of what lies ahead if they prevail and sets the country on a course that gives everything to the wealthy and sends more Americans into poverty. None of the Republicans in Congress or those seeking the presidency plans to create jobs or help struggling Americans. They do intend huge tax cuts for the wealthy, corporations and the oil industry with middle class and low-income Americans’ tax dollars they claim will eventually create jobs, but the trickle-down theory has proven false for thirty years. For all of 2011, Republicans have cut spending on essential programs that affect children, seniors, women, and the infirm and attempted to raise taxes on 160 million Americans while striving to cut taxes for the wealthy during the super committee negotiations tasked with deficit reduction.

    The Republicans are gambling that Americans will support their assertion that government must be made inconsequential; translation government must be eliminated. The danger Americans must consider is that without government there are no safeguards against a dictatorship or GOP attempts to abolish the Constitution for being anti-corporation and protecting religious freedom. The choice for Americans is not just whether a Black man sits in the Oval Office, but whether America survives an onslaught on government and the freedoms and equity it provides. The frightening aspect is the number of Americans that are willing to sacrifice their freedoms and prosperity in order to revert to turn-of-the-century America when African Americans, gays, women, and the poor were held in contempt for existing.

    Republicans’ vision for the future of America is rife with pain, suffering, hunger, and religious persecution and it is astounding the GOP candidates are unapologetic in their drive to fashion America into Afghanistan, Iraq, or Pakistan. Americans are fortunate, for the time being, that they still have a Constitution and government that protects them because that is all that stands between a Republican dictatorship and freedom to prosper and attain more than poverty and despair which is what the GOP rhetoric really portends

    • rikyrah says:

      How Ron Paul and the GOP Benefit From Racism
      And how Republicans are now using racism to get rid of their kookiest candidate

      There’s been a lot of talk lately about whether Ron Paul is your crazy old libertarian great-uncle, or an actual contender for the GOP presidential nomination. I say the latter. Why? Because of the racism.

      Now, I’m not saying Ron Paul is a racist. I’m just saying he’s clearly benefited—and clearly sought to benefit—from the racist attitudes of his supporters. That was true in the 1990s, when newsletters went out under his name that, for example, decried the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a “Hate Whitey day” with “racial hatred makes a KKK rally look tame.” (Paul denies authorship or knowledge of the newsletter content; that is his name in the title, however.)
      And it’s true now, too. On Monday, the New York Times carried a story saying that, no, Paul doesn’t really seek the support of white supremacist groups. But he’s not going to reject it either. “If they want to endorse me, they’re endorsing what I do or say — it has nothing to do with endorsing what they say,” Paul told the Times.

      All of which makes Paul the perfect Republican candidate, a man who distills the GOP’s trends, practices and rhetoric of the last 45 years down to their purest essence.

      See: The Republican Party hasn’t been overtly racist during that time. America is advanced enough that to do so would be electoral suicide. But GOP strategy has been to appeal to the grievances of whites threatened by the progress of African-Americans and other minorities, and the party has clearly benefited—and clearly sought to benefit—from the racist attitudes of its supporters.

      That’s the strategy that gave us “welfare queens.” And Willie Horton. And even some of the rhetoric of states‘ rights. If that seems like ancient history to you, then consider the inability of some Republican leaders like John Boehner to plainly state to their constituents that President Obama is an American citizen. Or Newt Gingrich’s defense of the Confederate flag in South Carolina.

      This is the party where Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond found refuge after the Civil Rights era.

      How do we know that these political sign posts were designed to appeal to racism, and not the product of sincerely held, race-neutral attitudes against crime and for limited government? Because the Republicans told us so, that’s why.

      Take Lee Atwater, who managed the campaign of the first President Bush: “You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

      Or take Ken Mehlman, who was the Republican National Committee chairman under the second President Bush, and who apologized for the party’s “Southern strategy” of appealing to racism.

      “Some Republicans gave up on winning the African-American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization,” Mehlman told the NAACP in 2005. “I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.”

      They were wrong. And now that Ron Paul is a real threat to win the Iowa caucuses, the GOP establishment is panicking—and finally, freshly embracing the political virtues of anti-racism, making hay out of Paul’s old newsletters. If such efforts happen to take his more out-there foreign policy and economic views off the table, well, surely that’s a coincidence.

      It’s kind of funny. So often during the last 45 years, African Americans who would complain about racial offenses by whites would be branded by leading conservatives—particularly Rush Limbaugh—as “race hustlers.” The implication being that there was no real racial grievance, that the complainers were trying to benefit from victimization that all right-thinking people should eschew. Actual racism, it seemed, had disappeared from American life.

      • rikyrah says:

        December 27, 2011 12:30 PM
        Romney’s ‘carried interest’ problem
        By Steve Benen

        We talked last week about Mitt Romney’s decision to keep his tax returns hidden, despite the fact that every major-party nominee in the post-Watergate era has released their tax records. Romney’s position has already generated some pushback from Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, and if Romney wins the GOP nod, Democrats will likely keep this going.

        It’s worth noting, however, that Romney isn’t just being secretive for the sake of secrecy — there’s a good reason he’s rejecting transparency. Alec MacGillis flagged this Boston Globe piece, which suggests Romney is, in fact, paying a lower tax rate than nearly everyone else, which probably has a lot to do with his campaign’s decision.

        In case anyone needs a refresher, there’s a tax loophole on “carried interest” — sometimes called “the carry” — that taxes private equity and venture capital income at a lower, 15% rate, as compared to 35% on ordinary income. Hedge-fund managers and the Wall Street have fought tooth and nail to protect this loophole — even after the Obama White House tried to eliminate it — and so far, they’ve been successful.

        Because Romney still collects seven-figure checks from his vulture-capitalist firm, he’s paying less in taxes than middle-class families nationwide. And with that in mind…

        Romney also indicated that he would not shy away from a legal tax break that shelters partners at private equity firms, like Bain Capital, from high tax rates on the largest part of their take-home profits.

        “I can tell you we follow the tax laws, and if there’s an opportunity to save taxes, we like anybody else in this country will follow that opportunity,” he said.

        Let me summarize the political problem this way:

        1. Mitt Romney is worth $250 million.

        2. He got rich by laying off American workers.

        3. He pays a lower tax rate than you and the rest of the middle class.

        4. He wants to be president so he can keep it this way.

        I don’t know if voters will find this offensive or not, but it certainly explains why Romney is so eager to keep his tax returns under wraps.

    • rikyrah says:

      Political AnimalBlog
      December 27, 2011 1:25 PM
      Tea Party governance gone horribly awry
      By Steve Benen

      Officials in Troy, Michigan, worked for years to build a local transportation center, and the Obama administration agreed to fully fund the project with federal stimulus money. In fact, the local community would have received an $8.5 million grant to cover all of the costs, with no strings attached.

      But Troy’s elected leaders decided to turn down the money. Their Tea Party principles told them it was a bad idea.

      The terminal, which would help Troy become a transportation node on an upgraded Detroit-to-Chicago Amtrak line, was hailed by supporters as a way to create jobs and to spur economic development. But federal money is federal money, so with the urging of the new mayor, who helped found the local Tea Party chapter, the City Council cast a 4-to-3 vote this week against granting a crucial contract, sending the project into limbo.

      “There’s nothing free about government money,” Mayor Janice Daniels said in an interview. “It’s never free, and it’s crippling our way of life.” […]

      The Troy transit center’s construction … required no local contribution, and its predicted annual maintenance cost of $31,000 was, in the context of the city’s $50 million budget, “de minimis,” said Mark Miller, the assistant city manager.

      Troy’s ridiculous, right-wing mayor justifies the decision by saying it’s more important to pay down the federal debt than it is to create jobs in her community. This only helps underscore one of the problems with Tea Party governance: it’s often based on striking ignorance (the $8.5 million grant will now go to help create jobs in some other area, not go back to the Treasury to pay down the debt).

      Even Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who’s proving to be a very conservative Republican, sent a letter to Daniels before the vote, explaining that the federally-funded project would have “significant, positive economic development on your community and the state.” It didn’t matter.

      The Troy Chamber of Commerce, which worked for years to help with the plans for the transportation center, is reportedly outraged by the city council’s stupidity, and the president of a local manufacturing company said the community could use the economic boost the transit center would have provided, but will now go without.

      There’s a fair number of voters who believe liberal Democrats are bad for the business community. That is, of course, backwards — it’s not the left opposed to economic development and public investments; it’s the hysterical right.

      Steve M. encouraged business leaders to take a moment to consider “what they were doing to themselves when they threw in with the Ayn Rand Fan Club. Maybe they should ask themselves who’s helping them more, the president who insults them occasionally but hasn’t thrown a single one of them in jail, or people like Janice Daniels who love capitalism the way a stalker loves a celebrity.”

      • rikyrah says:

        December 27, 2011
        ‘Obama and the Communists’

        According to the latest Gallup tracking poll, more Americans approve of the job that President Obama is doing than disapprove for the first time since this summer….

        It’s too soon to draw sweeping conclusions, but it seems that the standoff with House Republicans over the payroll tax cut did no damage at all to the president.

        No doubt. And since we’re all going to draw sweeping conclusions anyway, after judiciously noting it’s too soon, here’s mine; which, while related to the above, hauls the militant act of sweeping conclusions to a whole new theatre of speculative operations. To wit …

        Over at the NY Times’ “Campaign Stops,” Harvard’s Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson, authors of The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism, relate this desperate gem, gathered up from a Virginia Tea Partier: “We have to get Obama out; Obama and the Communists he’s surrounded himself with.”

        That is precisely the kind of oppositional crazy that most presidents only dream of. Lyndon Johnson had it, FDR had it — phonetically, agane and agane — and Richard Nixon manufactured it. But however the occasional president can get it, that president cherishes it, since it vastly moderates any presidential failings by contrast. What likely benefited George W. Bush in 2004 more than John Kerry’s unpardonable campaign mismanagement? Well-meaning but hypersalivating lefty bloggers and activists denouncing “Bush and the Nazis he’s surrounded himself with.” Such rhetoric persuades no one but the already persuaded, so not even them; meanwhile its radical influence on orthodox swing voters is only off-putting.

        And in 2012, Barack Obama will be blessed by right-wing crazies like we haven’t witnessed since 1964. To their insular, paranoid minds they’ll be trumpeting The Truth to the commie-enslaved masses, while the latter will hear but an unhinged, extremist alternative.

        Indeed, the multitudes have already heard just that, and as a bonus warning they’ve seen its actual materialization in the U.S. House. So, to them, Obama and those communists he surrounds himself with are looking better and better every day.

    • rikyrah says:

      27 Dec 2011 01:43 PM
      The Backlash Against The Gingrich Backlash
      Noam Scheiber explains why Newt isn’t finished yet:

      Unfortunately for Mitt Romney and the anxious Republican establishment, [Gingrich] appears to have flamed out too soon–which is to say, soon enough to give him time to recover a bit. …. Newt has basically stabilized himself in New Hampshire and South Carolina. More impressively, given the barrage of incoming he took there, Newt appears to have bottomed out in Iowa early last week and is enjoying a slight uptick in the state. What accounts for Newt’s glimmer of life? My guess is that, while Republican voters don’t want him to be their nominee, they don’t want Romney to stroll to the nomination either.

      The week-and-a-half or so Newt spent in freefall gave them a chance to imagine the primaries playing out as a Romney coronation, and they didn’t find the scenario especially heartening. So just like Newt needed to peak within a day or two of Iowa to have a shot of winning, Romney probably needed Newt to flame out within a few days of Iowa to have a shot of wrapping this race up very quickly. Otherwise there was going to be too much time for buyer’s remorse to set in toward Romney, as may be happening now.

      • rikyrah says:

        Is The White House Jamming Republicans Over The Debt Ceiling?

        Brian Beutler
        December 27, 2011, 1:00 PM

        Is the White House taking advantage of the holiday recess to thumb its nose at Congressional Republicans over the nation’s debt limit?

        That’s one interpretation of an announcement Treasury Department officials made today, which sets in motion an automatic increase in borrowing authority while Congress is out of session.

        All of this dates back to the destructive summer fight over whether, by how much, and under what conditions to raise the national debt ceiling. Back then, the White House sought over $2 trillion in new borrowing authority — enough to assure the country avoided another debt limit fight in the middle of election season, when members of Congress might be even more willing to put the country’s creditworthiness at risk for short-term political gain.

        But Republicans, particularly in the House, said they’d require $1 in spending cuts for every $1 in new borrowing authority they agreed to allocate. That touched off the fight that left the government on the brink of a catastrophic debt default in August, and resulted in — among other things — Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade the U.S.’s AAA credit rating for the first time in history, and the creation of the failed and now-defunct Super Committee.

        But one of the lesser known terms of the debt ceiling agreement is that for the remainder of Obama’s term, the Treasury’s borrowing authority increases in “tranches.” For each additional increase in the debt ceiling, Congress can force a largely symbolic vote to “disapprove” of the administration’s decision — and create a neat little election year talking point for House and Senate Republicans. That vote is set up to fail as it already has once this year, and even if it passed it would be subject to President Obama’s veto.

        The catch is that Congress has a small window within which to hold this vote. Treasury officials confirmed Tuesday that this week they will ask Congress for a $1.2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling. Under the terms of the law, Congress will have 15 calendar days to pass a resolution of disapproval if they want to try to block the increase. But Congress isn’t scheduled to return until January 17 — meaning the White House, perhaps unintentionally, timed this increase in the debt limit to squeeze Congressional Republicans. Either they end their recess early, or they’ll miss a rare opportunity to embarrass the President.

        A Treasury official points out that at the end of the year the government has to service debt owed to itself — interest payments to the Social Security trust fund, for example — which spikes the country nearer to its legal limit. That’s why we’re so close to the debt ceiling again, just as Treasury expected we would be.

        Which means the timing may be a coincidence. Spokespeople for congressional leaders of both parties didn’t respond immediately to inquiries — but if they think the administration’s playing games with the timing, you can be sure Republicans will make noise about it.

  25. rikyrah says:

    Jerusalem, Cairo or Main Street U.S.A – Cloaking Misogyny in Piety
    Religious fundamentalism is the enemy of any Western liberal democracy. Even GOP hero and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agrees, taking a stance against the harassment of women in Israel’s streets by ultra-Orthodox Jewish men, who want a society segregated along gender lines (as well as religious). I differentiate between the two because nothing within religion dictates the subservience of women. So why is it that Jewish fundamentalists, like our own, and like Islamic fundamentalists, hate and fear women so much? Even little girls?

    Is it really a sign of piety, a demonstration of love of God to spit on a little girl on her way to a religious girls school and call her a slut or a whore because of how she is dressed? Is that what they say their God wants?

    Like the Taliban, ultra-Orthodox Jews embrace “modesty” patrols to ensure everyone lives their lives according to the strictures of the fanatical few (right now, the ultra-Orthodox number only 10 percent of the Israeli population but like our own fundamentalists are out-breeding the secularists). For those who think the race card gets played too often, consider this: If you disagree with the ultra-Orthodox position, you are by default an anti-Semite.

    The GOPers who harbor similar patriarchal fantasies (and they are many) might want to take note of Netanyahu’s response: ”The Israel police are taking, and will take, action to arrest and stop those who spit, harass or raise a hand. This has no place in a free and democratic state.”

    What is it about female-ness that so arouses the ire of the religious fanatic? If it’s not religion, really, then what is it? Is it cultural? Is it simply misogyny following whatever avenue it can? Human society is patriarchal and with few exceptions seems always to have been, but many various religions have flourished without preaching against women. Non-revealed religions, such as ancient forms of polytheism, are not inherently misogynist in outlook even if the host culture was. Ancient Jewish religion had a very strong female component.

    The problem seems not to be with God, but with man. Men wrote the Jewish Bible Christians call the Old Testament Men wrote the New Testament as well. Neither book – nor the Qur’an for that matter – is written from a modern liberal democratic perspective, to say the least. Women seem to have come off second best in those books written by men but the misogyny seems more cultural than religious. Our attitudes have changed over the many thousands of years of human existence, but in particular, in the West since the European Enlightenment. These new freedoms and outlooks have extended not just to men but to women. “Because it’s always been that way” just didn’t cut it anymore; it does not cut it now.

    Is this new and very secularist tendency to value people equally regardless of sex opposed simply because it breaks with the traditions of the past, even though those traditions are misunderstood and misapplied? Would it help if God revealed his decision that women should be welcomed as the equals of man? One wonders if a fundamentalist structure could survive such a revelation, the two have become so closely intertwined.

    Is it simply that Religious fundamentalism is the last bastion of the he-man woman hater? The last bastion because it is the only place a man can point to God’s will and hide behind it in his own short-comings and weaknesses, his own responsibility for his mistreatment of the female gender? “God wills it!” has been the cry of the power hungry for as long as monotheism has flourished on this planet. I don’t wish to blame monotheism uniquely for misogyny but it is only monotheism that has cloaked this attitude in false piety.

    If it is a cultural decision that women are second class citizens to men it is no less reprehensible but it is also changeable. Societies and cultures change and adapt. Secular Western attitudes about women have spread to the Middle East, including, as we noted above, Israel, by Netanyahu’s own admission. Israel is not a Middle Eastern nation but a western liberal democracy, no different than America itself. It is not religion that governs its attitude toward and treatment of women, but a secular ideal, a shared culture.

    It is not that women threaten the health of any given religion, including Judaism. But they do threaten the existing, male-dominated power structure. Women should not be able to hold office, even if allowed to vote, say some Islamic scholars. The attitude of these ultra-Orthodox Jews is not so different than that. Nor are the attitudes of many conservative Christians who claim a woman’s place is in the home (even while they themselves run for office). For all their avowed differences, they seem to agree in that one regard, that women are the enemy and must be kept in their place.

  26. rikyrah says:

    If Shariah Law Makes its Way to America it Will Be Wrapped In Conservative $$$
    There has been a drum beat in America that encourages fear of Shariah Law invading our shores. As ludicrous as this message is, there is a loud and angry minority who drive this beat and disseminate propaganda to a population who ironically turn to FOX News for their “news”. Why is this ironic? It is because one of the investors in FOX’s parent company, News Corp is a Saudi Prince named AlWaleed who actually is a Wahabbist.

    Most of what is being spread is hyperbolic uber-conservative hate wrapped in concern that ignites and fuels hatred and discrimination against an entire group of people who are Muslim. Not only is this un-American, it is dangerous. We have witnessed this escalate from the anti-Park 51 protests and demands that construction of mosques be banned altogether in the United States, to the threat of burning the Qur’an, to congressional committee hearings led by Representative Peter King NY (R) rising as the new “McCarthy” in his hunt for perceived enemies in the American Muslim community. Most recently we saw it rear its ugly head in the campaign to dissuade advertisers such as Lowe’s home improvement from airing their ads during a new reality television show titled, ” American Muslims”.

    Yet, while all of these, and so many more insidious attacks against the entire Muslim community have been marching a boisterous segment of our population into the land fear and paranoia we miss what is happening in the background.

    On December 19th it was announced that billionaire Saudi Prince Tal-al AlWaleed bought 300 million persuasive dollars into Twitter. As this article from Reuters points out:

    Reuters 12/19/2011

    “The purchase is remarkable because Twitter was a key means of communication for protesters in the Arab Spring revolts this year, violence that threatened Saudi Arabia until the kingdom unveiled a populist $130 billion social spending package”. ~ By Sitaraman Shankar

    This investment has been written about on various web sites and even given blips of air time on various televised programs, but it is one of those stories that sails right past the majority of Americans. It appears on face-value as insignificant. Targeting media is intentional and it is not simply because the Prince is making wise retirement investment decisions. So let’s take a look at just some of Prince AlWaleed’s holdings and investments as a Forbe’s ranked Top 25 billionaires with a worth of $19.6 billion…

  27. rikyrah says:

    December 27, 2011 10:00 AM

    Kristol still pining for more options

    By Steve Benen

    Just a few weeks ago, Bill Kristol argued that it’s still not too late for “a late entry” in the Republican presidential race, and that he sees “a window of opportunity in February.” The Weekly Standard editor is apparently hoping for a ticket with Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, in that order.

    Today, Kristol is at it again, writing a message to “the Republicans of the states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida,” letting them know that their primary and caucus votes will, among other things, affect “whether others will feel impelled to enter the race.”

    Though the column isn’t entirely about this fanciful dream, Kristol’s piece went on to say:

    [I]t is a moment, as you prepare to cast your vote, for others to reflect on whether they don’t owe it to their country to step forward. As this is no time for voters to choose fecklessly, it is no time for leaders to duck responsibility. Those who have stood aside — and who now may have concluded, as they may not have when they announced their original decision, that the current field is lacking — will surely hear the words of Thomas Paine echoing down the centuries: “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

    Now is not a time for leaders to engage in clever calculations of the odds of success, or to succumb to concerns about how they will look if they enter the fray and fall short. Now is a time to come to the aid of our country.

    Kristol, at least in this new piece, didn’t specify who these “others” might be, but it’s not difficult to imagine who’d be on the wish list.

    This comes, by the way, a day after National Review’s Rich Lowry ran a piece quoting “a pretty prominent conservative officeholder,” who conceded that when it comes to the Republican Party and the 2012 presidential candidate, “[W]e don’t have our A team on the field.”

    It’s possible this will end up on my list of blown predictions, but I continue to see this pining by prominent Republican voices for more choices as pretty silly. The Iowa caucuses are literally seven days away; we’re well past the point at which GOP insiders should be asking, “Who else is out there?”

    But this should also be rather embarrassing for the current field. Republicans have been planning to take on President Obama for three years, and they now have seven candidates to choose from. One candidate, former one-term Gov. Mitt Romney, has been running practically non-stop for five years, and appears well positioned to grab the nomination — not because he’s a great candidate, but because his rivals are all ridiculous to the point of disqualification.

    That the notion of late entrants is even a topic of conversation is practically a slap in the face to Romney and his team, and a reminder of just how little he’s impressed GOP stalwarts.

  28. rikyrah says:

    Obama’s Approval Rating Surges A Net 12 Points In Less Than Two Weeks

    According to the new Gallup daily tracking poll, President Obama has seen approval rating surge. Since December 15, Obama has gained a net 12 points in the poll.

    In the poll taken from December 21- December 23, respondents narrowly approve of Obama 47%-45%. This is big swing from the poll taken December 13- 15, which found Obama at net (-10) approval rating, (41%-51%). The President has gained 6 points in approval and lost 6 points in disapproval since the first day of the previous polling cycle 13 days ago. This marks the first time since June 17-19 that Obama has been in positive territory in the Gallup daily tracking poll.

    Daily tracking polls are particularly tricky, and at best only provide a momentary snapshot of how a respondent feels about an election or a president on a given day, but Gallup also gives us the ability to compare presidents at the same point in their terms.

    Obama often gets compared to Jimmy Carter, but an analysis of the Gallup data for both Carter and Obama shows that the two presidents don’t have much in common. During the October of their third year of their administrations, both Carter and Obama suffered through woeful months.

    Jimmy Carter had a 29% approval rating in early October 1979, but during same time period in his administration Obama’s approval rating was 40%. Towards the middle of the month, Obama’s approval rating was 10 points better than Carter’s 41%-31%. At the end of October/early November, Obama was 9 points stronger than Carter, 41%-32%. Carter got a rally around the flag bounce at the beginning of the Iran Hostage Crisis in November 1979, but as the crisis lingered on it took Carter down with it.

  29. rikyrah says:

    December 27, 2011 9:20 AM
    Disenfranchising young voters
    By Steve Benen

    Ruy Teixeira makes a strong case today that the youth vote will be critical to President Obama’s re-election chances, and if young adults don’t show up, Republican odds improve significantly.

    This point is not lost on GOP officials. Indeed, as a New York Times editorial makes clear today, the importance of the youth vote has led Republicans to consider this as part of their war on voting.

    Next fall, thousands of students on college campuses will attempt to register to vote and be turned away. Sorry, they will hear, you have an out-of-state driver’s license. Sorry, your college ID is not valid here. Sorry, we found out that you paid out-of-state tuition, so even though you do have a state driver’s license, you still can’t vote.

    Political leaders should be encouraging young adults to participate in civic life, but many Republican state lawmakers are doing everything they can instead to prevent students from voting in the 2012 presidential election. Some have openly acknowledged doing so because students tend to be liberal.

    Seven states have already passed strict laws requiring a government-issued ID (like a driver’s license or a passport) to vote, which many students don’t have, and 27 others are considering such measures. Many of those laws have been interpreted as prohibiting out-of-state driver’s licenses from being used for voting.

    It’s all part of a widespread Republican effort to restrict the voting rights of demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic.

    Generally, when GOP officials put new barriers between Americans and their democracy, Republicans at least try to keep up appearances, pointing to imaginary voter fraud as a rationale for the restrictions.

    But when it comes to young adults, some GOP policymakers simply drop the pretense — the speaker of the New Hampshire State House recently conceded that students’ access to the ballot box should be blocked because young people tend to “vote their feelings,” which leads them to vote “as a liberal.”

    When we talk about the Republicans’ war on voting, we tend to focus on the impact felt by the elderly, the poor, and racial and ethnic minorities. But the youth vote matters every bit as much, and GOP policies are deliberately intended to limit their participation, too.

    There’s no mystery here, and Republicans aren’t even being subtle — they’re trying to rig an entire election cycle by putting the most severe hurdles between Americans and the voting process since Jim Crow. The GOP fears losing in a fair fight, so the party is trying to rig the game through voter suppression, plain and simple.

  30. rikyrah says:

    The Fallout from the Virginia Fiasco
    by BooMan
    Tue Dec 27th, 2011 at 09:12:48 AM EST

    Hopefully, you’ve heard that only two candidates qualified to be on ballot in Virginia for the Republican primary: Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. It’s rather inopportune for this news to come out a mere week before the first contest, in Iowa. It makes Newt Gingrich and the other non-qualifiers look extremely unelectable at the exact time that they’re trying to make the opposite case. If I’m opposed to Romney, I have to take a harder look at Ron Paul. As far as I am concerned, there are three things to look for as potential outcomes of the Virginia fiasco.
    First, it could take more air out Gingrich’s tires, but also any momentum Rick Perry or Rick Santorum might be building in the Hawkeye State. Ron Paul could be the beneficiary of that, and he might post a stronger victory in Iowa than people are anticipating. There’s another subset of voters who are opposed to Ron Paul on foreign policy issues who may just throw up their hands and settle for Romney. We might see a result where the third-place finisher polls quite far behind the second-place finisher. In other words, we could see a strong Paul victory, followed by a relatively weak second-place finish for Romney, with the rest of the pack in single-digits.

    Second, Gingrich is still polling well ahead in both South Carolina and Florida. His job is to do well enough in Iowa and New Hampshire that his polling lead in the South doesn’t evaporate. Failing to get on the ballot in Virginia is a major blunder that makes Newt’s job much harder.

    Third, now that the Virginia race has become a one-on-one contest between Romney and Paul, we get to find out which candidate has the true ceiling. Ironically, Ron Paul has a lot of support from rank-and-file members of the military. Members of the U.S. Army and Navy are his two biggest financial contributors. Yet, Virginia is awash with active and retired military officers, who will tend to be opposed to Ron Paul’s positions on military policy and spending. And then there is the Intelligence Community. The Virginia primary will be a true Clash of the Titans, and we’ll learn something most of us want to know. Also, remember, Virginia law prohibits write-in votes in the primaries. This will be a true race for 50+1%. The assumption has always been that neither Romney nor Paul could actually win such a contest, but one of them will.

    If Ron Paul wins in Virginia, it’s hard to see why he couldn’t win the nomination. But the Republican Establishment will do anything to prevent that from happening.

    Grab your popcorn. This is going to be interesting.

  31. rikyrah says:

    December 27, 2011 8:35 AM
    Predictions gone wrong
    By Steve Benen

    Dave Weigel had a good item yesterday on his “2011 Pundit Audit.” It’s a worthwhile idea, so I thought I’d join the fun.

    For reasons that have never made sense to me, people seem to trust the instincts of political reporters. There’s a whole industry — I’m part of it, as an MSNBC contributor — which puts reporters on television to predict what will happen next in situations that involve hundreds or thousands of players and countless unknowable facts.

    We’re not always wrong, but we’re wrong enough. In 2010, for the first time, I subjected myself to a round of pundit accountability, paging back through Slate’s easily navigable archives to discover what predictions I’d blown. It was horrible, so I decided to do it again.

    Weigel points to four flubs: the assumption that Rick Perry would be a competent candidate; the belief that Perry’s book and agenda wouldn’t undermine his candidacy; the notion that Gingrich couldn’t possibly become a top-tier Republican presidential candidate; and the argument that House Republicans wouldn’t cave in the payroll-tax-cut fight.

    As it happens, I got some of these same predictions wrong. When Gingrich launched his campaign in May, I thought the very idea of his candidacy was ridiculous, and scoffed at the notion that he’d rise to the top tier. He proved me wrong. When Perry announced in August, I argued that he, unlike other recent “savior” candidates, is well positioned to thrive. Oops.

    But as 2011 comes to an end, my prediction that looks the worst in hindsight came in late March, when I talked about the barrage of attacks Mitt Romney would face as the year progressed. In fact, I compared Romney to Rudy Giuliani — a candidate who appeared strong as the race began, but someone who’d wilt once voters learned about his positions and background.

    And that wasn’t even close to being correct.

    In fact, this blown prediction is the one thing about 2011 that I just can’t wrap my head around. We’re talking about a French-speaking Mormon vulture capitalist named Willard, who used to support abortion rights, gay rights, gun control, “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, and combating climate change. He distanced himself from Reagan, attended Planned Parenthood fundraisers, and helped create the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act. He supported taxpayer-funded abortions and taxpayer-financed medical care for undocumented immigrants.

    Given all of this, I thought there was no way Romney would coast through 2011 without facing brutal attack ads from his GOP rivals. But I was completely wrong — the attacks never came; Republican voters never heard about this record; and Romney appears well positioned to win the nomination.

  32. rikyrah says:

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    Elections have consequences. Including this one.

    by David Atkins

    There’s a lot of disappointment out with the Obama Administration, to be sure. I count myself as one of the disenchanted with the Administration’s tepid rhetoric and lack of forward progress on the issues that matter most to me: reversing the financialization of the economy, doing something about climate change, forcing the super-rich to pay their fair share again, reducing America’s over-expenditure on its war machine, protecting the social safety net, and increasing investment the rest of the federal discretionary budget not dedicated to Social Security, Medicare, and the military. Civil libertarians and education advocates would argue with some cause that the Administration’s stances have actually reversed progress on their key issues.

    But it’s a long way from there to arguing that elections don’t matter, that Obama is as bad as Bush, and that therefore one shouldn’t vote. Paul Krugman would have a few words to say on that front:

    Surprise: I got my wish, in the form of new Environmental Protection Agency standards on mercury and air toxics for power plants. These rules are long overdue: we were supposed to start regulating mercury more than 20 years ago. But the rules are finally here, and will deliver huge benefits at only modest cost.

    So, naturally, Republicans are furious. But before I get to the politics, let’s talk about what a good thing the E.P.A. just did…

    The E.P.A. explains: “Methylmercury exposure is a particular concern for women of childbearing age, unborn babies and young children, because studies have linked high levels of methylmercury to damage to the developing nervous system, which can impair children’s ability to think and learn.”

    That sort of sounds like something we should regulate, doesn’t it?

    The new rules would also have the effect of reducing fine particle pollution, which is a known source of many health problems, from asthma to heart attacks. In fact, the benefits of reduced fine particle pollution account for most of the quantifiable gains from the new rules. The key word here is “quantifiable”: E.P.A.’s cost-benefit analysis only considers one benefit of mercury regulation, the reduced loss in future wages for children whose I.Q.’s are damaged by eating fish caught by freshwater anglers. There are without doubt many other benefits to cutting mercury emissions, but at this point the agency doesn’t know how to put a dollar figure on those benefits.

    Even so, the payoff to the new rules is huge: up to $90 billion a year in benefits compared with around $10 billion a year of costs in the form of slightly higher electricity prices. This is, as David Roberts of Grist says, a very big deal.

    This E.P.A. decision would not have happened under a McCain administration, any more than this kiss would have been possible. And a Romney/Gingrich/Perry administration will likely reverse this E.P.A. ruling if it gets a chance.

    Politics is often about taking the best choices one has available. The Obama Administration hasn’t been anything close to perfect by a long shot. But as election season nears and the consequences of the choice that lies before the country draw into clearer focus, the voices who argue that voting is irrelevant because there’s no difference between the parties are going to become self-marginalized.

  33. rikyrah says:

    December 25, 2011, 9:00 pm
    The Anti-Entitlement Strategy
    Mitt Romney wants to stigmatize most “safety net” spending – the array of social insurance programs from Medicare to food stamps to unemployment compensation to free school lunches — as a form of welfare that is “cultivating government dependence.”

    “Our growing welfare state is slated to cost $10.3 trillion over the next 10 years — that’s $72,000 a household,” Romney told voters in Bedford, N.H., on Dec. 20:

    Once we thought ‘entitlement’ meant that Americans were entitled to the privilege of trying to succeed in the greatest country in the world. Americans fought and died to earn and protect that entitlement. But today the new entitlement battle is over the size of the check you get from Washington.

    An entitlement, as the government defines it, “legally obligates the United States to make payments to any person who meets the eligibility requirements established in the statute that creates the entitlement.”

    Mitt Romney at the Town Hall in Bedford, N.H., on Dec. 20, 2011. Romney and his aides have designed his rhetoric to define pretty much all spending on entitlements, including provisions for the injured, unemployed, sick, disabled or elderly as benefits to the poor who, Romney implies, are undeserving. And it doesn’t matter whether the money to pay for these programs comes from employer and employee contributions and not just tax revenue — they are all under suspicion.

  34. rikyrah says:

    December 26, 2011
    How did we (they) get here?
    An excellent synopsis from Norm Ornstein:

    Today’s Tea Partiers recognize that they share a similar governing philosophy with their forebears [of 1994], but they believe almost uniformly that the Gingrichites sold out too quickly, blinking unnecessarily when the political heat got turned up.

    To which Jonathan Bernstein adds two other excellent points:

    The first is the conservative closed-information loop: It’s very likely that Tea Partyers in Congress really don’t realize how unpopular many conservative ideas are with swing voters because the news sources they’ve listened to for years never happen to mention it. The other key factor was the 2010 elections, and in particular the primary challenges to incumbents such as Lisa Murkowski and Bob Bennett. Normally, the reality check on fantasies about the popularity of fringe partisan ideas comes when politicians start thinking of Election Day. However, when the Election Day that looms largest in the imaginations of those politicians is the primary, then they’re pushed toward those fringe positions, not away from them.

    To which I’d add yet a third point: The GOP’s creeping institutionalization of rank amateurism in American politics.

    This Everyman mania started faintly with the GOP’s temper-tantrumed 22nd Amendment, which limited U.S. presidents to two terms; heaven forfend we should ever be oppressed by another FDR, whose prolonged political and professional splendor in the Oval Office put every Republican president since Lincoln to ineffable shame. Later came the Barry Goldwater squalor about the need for simplicity to trump complexity in the politico-policy arena: an unmistakable call for right-winging rubes void of analytical backgrounds to join electoral battle, which is precisely what the subsequent New Right — father of the contemporary Tea Partying Right — did.

  35. rikyrah says:

    Monday, December 26, 2011
    Entitled demagogue
    by digby

    I continue to be irritated by Mitt Romney’s apparent strategy to turn himself into the worst kind of Tea Party demagogue with this “entitlement” nonsense. Coming from a rich kid who parlayed his name into hundreds of millions as a front man for a Vulture Capitalist firm, it’s especially sickening.

    Thomas Edsall had a nice piece on it yesterday, called “The Anti-entitlement Strategy”,(which is funny in itself):

    Romney and his aides have designed his rhetoric to define pretty much all spending on entitlements, including provisions for the injured, unemployed, sick, disabled or elderly as benefits to the poor who, Romney implies, are undeserving. And it doesn’t matter whether the money to pay for these programs comes from employer and employee contributions and not just tax revenue — they are all under suspicion.

    In an op-ed published Dec. 19 in USA Today, Romney described the 2012 election as a battle between the partisans of entitlement and the partisans of opportunity:

    Will the United States be an Entitlement Society or an Opportunity Society? In an Entitlement Society, government provides every citizen the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to innovate, pioneer or take risk. In an Opportunity Society, free people living under a limited government choose whether or not to pursue education, engage in hard work, and pursue the passion of their ideas and dreams. If they succeed, they merit the rewards they are able to enjoy.

    Romney’s formulation exploits public distrust of programs that explicitly serve the poor. In 2010, about a fifth of the federal budget — $786 billion or 22 percent, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities — went to programs that “kept an estimated 15 million Americans out of poverty and reduced the depth of poverty for another 29 million people.” These programs include Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, earned-income tax credits, cash payments to eligible individuals or households such as Supplemental Security Income for the elderly or disabled poor, unemployment insurance, food stamps, school meals, low-income housing, child-care and programs for abused and neglected children. 2010 spending for Pell college grants for low-income students was $21 billion and spending that year for Head Start was $7.2 billion

    Without the underlying belief many voters hold that programs serving low-income beneficiaries perpetuate poverty and discourage work, Romney could not have banked on voter support for his answer in this exchange between the candidate and Chris Wallace on FOX News Sunday the week before Christmas.

    Wallace pressed Romney to explain how poor recipients of government entitlement programs would fare under his campaign’s plan to “cut Medicaid, health coverage for the poor, by $700 billion. Cut food stamps by $127 billion. Cut Pell Grants for low- income college students in half.” Wallace then pointedly asked, “You don’t think if you cut $700 billion in aid to the states that some people are going to get hurt?”

    Romney replied without hesitation:

    In attacking the “entitlement society,” Romney is not breaking new ground; he is following in the path of conservative talk show hosts and Tea Party leaders who think social insurance spending is destroying America.

    Elements of the conservative intelligentsia see it the same way. An editorial last year in The Wall Street Journal charged, for example, that the Obama administration’s health care reform bill was designed to become another element of the Democratic “cradle-to-grave entitlement citadel.”

    A sign held up prominently at Tea Party rallies reads, “You Are Not Entitled To What I Earn.”

    In the same way by cutting welfare spending dramatically, I don’t think we hurt the poor. In the same way I think we cut Medicaid spending by having it go to the states, run more efficiently with less fraud, I don’t think we’ll hurt the people that depend on the program for their health care.

    Maybe the people holding those signs are as rich as Mitt Romney, but I doubt it. Assuming they aren’t among those poor deluded souls who are collecting SSI and holding up those signs, they are probably average working people who believe that government spending goes disproportionately to people who don’t “deserve” it. (Each one has to answer for him or herself what that means.) And the very, very entitled Mitt Romney is exploiting their grievances and prejudices for his own enrichment and ambition, knowing very well that it’s his class — the 1% — who are getting a greater return on their lobbying and campaign donations than they ever could have dreamed. That doesn’t let the believers off the hook, of course, but it does make Mitt Romney a very special sort of asshole.

    digby 12/26/2011 04:30:00 PM

  36. rikyrah says:

    December 27, 2011 8:00 AM
    One of Gingrich’s divorces draws new scrutiny
    By Steve Benen

    Generally, when disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s (R) first marriage draws attention, it’s because of questions about timing. Gingrich has been accused, for example, of haggling over the terms of his divorce from his first wife while she was in the hospital, recovering from uterine cancer surgery. What’s more, there’s evidence he had already proposed to his second wife before he was divorced from his first.

    But CNN reported yesterday on a new wrinkle.

    Newt Gingrich claims that it was his first wife, not Gingrich himself, who wanted their divorce in 1980, but court documents obtained by CNN appear to show otherwise. […]

    The documents, and interviews with people close to the couple at the time, contradict the Gingrich claim about who wanted the divorce.

    It’s very tempting to say this simply doesn’t matter. Politicians are entitled to a degree of privacy, and questions about a divorce from three decades ago are arguably out of bounds.

    But as compelling as that may seem, I’d argue this is a legitimate point of inquiry. First, Gingrich’s campaign brought this up — there’s a section on its website devoted to “answering the attacks,” and it argues that Jackie Gingrich “requested the divorce, not Newt.” All of the available evidence suggests that’s a lie. It’s one thing to lie 31 years ago; it’s something else to lie yesterday.

    Second, Gingrich is inviting scrutiny of his marriages when he talks about marriages. I’d be far more inclined to cut this guy some slack if he hadn’t run around saying things like, “The Democratic Party has been the active instrument of breaking down traditional marriage.”

    Want to try that again, Newt?

    With the Iowa caucuses exactly one week away, the larger question is whether voters will find any of this interesting. I rather doubt it. Folks who are inclined to back Gingrich are probably already aware of his scandalous, cringe-worthy personal life, and have decided to overlook it. These new details suggest the Republican presidential candidate is still lying about some of the circumstances, but Gingrich backers appear willing to separate the private from the public.

    Still, for on-the-fence Iowans, who might be looking at Gingrich but who have concerns about his character and integrity, a story like this one probably doesn’t help.

  37. rikyrah says:

    In The Business Of Giving You The Business
    by Zandar

    Kind of a depressing WaPo piece here about America’s House of Not So Commons and politics increasingly being a rich person’s game:

    Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home ­equity.

    Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan.

    The comparisons exclude home equity because it is not included in congressional reporting, and 1984 was chosen because it is the earliest year for which consistent wealth statistics are available.

    The growing disparity between the representatives and the represented means that there is a greater distance between the economic experience of Americans and those of lawmakers.

    That particular understatement could power multiple suns. Being a career politician is, well, a very lucrative career. Combine this with the fact that maybe 10-15% of House districts are ever truly competitive in an election by design and you start to understand just how depressing the chore of fixing Congress is. Some 90% disapproval for the institution, majorities now saying that their own Representative needs to be tossed, but maybe 60 out of 435 seats will change hands, at most, 80. The other 350 or so are in zero danger of losing their seat even in an election year where the House has roughly the same approval rating as breeding velociraptors down the hall from a hospital neonatal ICU.

    The Senate fares no better of course and is actually in many ways far worse, but if you should still somehow be wondering why it seems like everyone with “Rep.” in front of their name has no idea how the 99% actually lives, there’s a distinct, structural reason for that. Also, good luck ever getting these clowns to agree to term limits, which would be a vital component of any fix.

    For the one percent, by the one percent. Could you imagine more than one percent of Congress ever consisting of pipe-fitters, school teachers, auto mechanics, computer engineers, or nurses? It might be good for America. It would be slightly less good for people with a net worth of $725,000 or more, which is why it wouldn’t happen.

    All the kvetching about the Presidency is one thing, but until we strip mine the professional grifters out of Congress, ain’t nothin’ gonna change, bro.

  38. rikyrah says:

    Keeping Students From the PollsPublished: December 26, 2011

    Next fall, thousands of students on college campuses will attempt to register to vote and be turned away. Sorry, they will hear, you have an out-of-state driver’s license. Sorry, your college ID is not valid here. Sorry, we found out that you paid out-of-state tuition, so even though you do have a state driver’s license, you still can’t vote.

    Political leaders should be encouraging young adults to participate in civic life, but many Republican state lawmakers are doing everything they can instead to prevent students from voting in the 2012 presidential election. Some have openly acknowledged doing so because students tend to be liberal.

    Seven states have already passed strict laws requiring a government-issued ID (like a driver’s license or a passport) to vote, which many students don’t have, and 27 others are considering such measures. Many of those laws have been interpreted as prohibiting out-of-state driver’s licenses from being used for voting.

    It’s all part of a widespread Republican effort to restrict the voting rights of demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic. Blacks, Hispanics, the poor and the young, who are more likely to support President Obama, are disproportionately represented in the 21 million people without government IDs. On Friday, the Justice Department, finally taking action against these abuses, blocked the new voter ID law in South Carolina.

    Republicans usually don’t want to acknowledge that their purpose is to turn away voters, especially when race is involved, so they invented an explanation, claiming that stricter ID laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud. In fact, there is almost no voter fraud in America to prevent.

    William O’Brien, the speaker of the New Hampshire State House, told a Tea Party group earlier this year that students are “foolish” and tend to “vote their feelings” because they lack life experience. “Voting as a liberal,” he said, “that’s what kids do.” And that’s why, he said, he supported measures to prohibit students from voting from their college addresses and to end same-day registration. New Hampshire Republicans even tried to pass a bill that would have kept students who previously lived elsewhere from voting in the state; fortunately, the measure failed, as did the others Mr. O’Brien favored.

    Many students have taken advantage of Election Day registration laws, which is one reason Maine Republicans passed a law eliminating the practice. Voters restored it last month, but Republican lawmakers there are already trying new ways to restrict voting. The secretary of state said he was investigating students who are registered to vote in the state but pay out-of-state tuition.

    Wisconsin once made it easy for students to vote, making it one of the leading states in turnout of younger voters in 2004 and 2008. When Republicans swept into power there last year, they undid all of that, imposing requirements that invalidated the use of virtually all college ID cards in voter registration. Colleges are scrambling to change their cards to add signatures and expiration dates, but it’s not clear whether the state will let them.

    Imposing these restrictions to win an election will embitter a generation of students in its first encounter with the machinery of democracy.

    • rikyrah says:

      found this over at THE OBAMA DIARY:

      donna dem 4 obama
      December 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm
      Just a few words as the New Year approaches…

      We are on the brink of an election cycle unlike any we have ever seen before. PBO will be attacked with outrageous ads from both the Romney camp and out side agencies. We will have to put up our body armor to deflect the vicious distractions that the Repubs will constantly spin. Our wonderful blogger “What is Working” always reminds us that we cannot control what the media will do but we can control how we react to them. These are wise words. So with that said I would like to share some ideas I have been thinking of as “Election Year Resolutions” that we as a community might want to pursue.

      1) We have talked about this but have never really formalized the ideas but it would be great to form a media team that pushes back on the negative spin (twitter, emails, phone calls) but it must be coordinated and in great numbers. We would have to have someone take the lead on this. I have been reading comments both here and on twitter over the last month to get a gauge on our viewers and there is a whole crew of supporters who watch every cable show that comes on throughout the day. I believe we can make that work to our benefit. Just as a FYI – President Obama has 11.6 Million twitter followers and 24 Million Facebook followers.

      2) Each one teach one ongoing campaign. Every month until Election Day we each commit to engaging someone on the fence or on the other side politically to share successes of the Obama administration and share your story (good or bad) with the blog community as teachable moments for us all.

      3) Step out side of your comfort zone. Try and do something for the campaign this election cycle that you have never done before. (Lurkers this is especially for you) One of the things that impressed me the most during my experience in my quest to win the fundraising challenge was the overwhelming number of “lurkers” who contacted me via email after I thanked them for their many donations. There is a huge ‘silent’ majority who support this President and follow this blog everyday. What you have to share is paramount to the success of this re-election campaign. Please don’t discount what contribution you can make to this blog. Share your stories and join us with our online efforts and conversations to ensure the Presidents re-election. We need ALL hands on deck this election cycle.

      4) I believe that this blog community can raise a ton of money for this election. Your five dollar donations one donation at a time can help Chips and little ole me to raise tens of thousands of dollars by November 2012. It’s a tall order but as a wise articulate Senator once said: “nothing can stop the millions of voices calling for change”. Yes We Can

      5) Believe it or not every one of us knows someone who is not registered to vote. It could be a recent high school graduate, a college student or an older relative or friend that just never registered. Help them register online to vote in their state. Its easy and so rewarding. Once you get them registered commit to be their “god-voter-parent” that ensures on Election Day that they actually get to the polls and vote for Obama/Biden.

      6) Last but not least is to commit to volunteer in some way large or small (every effort is important) with OFA. I think that this is going to be the key to our success in 2012. It’s going unnoticed by the media (I’m actually quite pleased about that). The Republican Party has nothing to compare with our grassroots organization. They may have conservative talk radio and Fox news which is in effect their grassroots but a few million volunteers on the ground and online doing everything possible to get people to the polls for this President next year is our secret weapon.

      Please think about participating in some of these Election Year Resolutions for 2012. We are a powerful force when we set our minds and actions to it.

  39. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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