Serendipity SOUL | Thursday Open Thread

Wiki: Midnight Star is an R&B and electro-funk group that had a string of R&B hits in the 1980s.

The group was formed in 1976 at Kentucky State University by trumpeter Reggie Calloway, vocalist Belinda Lipscomb, guitarist/vocalist Melvin Gentry, bassist Kenneth Gant, multi-instrumentalist Bill Simmons, keyboard player/vocalist Bo Watson and guitarist/keyboardist Jeff Cooper, as a self-contained group. They would later add non-KSU student trombonist Vincent Calloway (Reginald’s younger brother). A 1978 New York City showcase inspired SOLAR Records chief Dick Griffey to sign the group. They released their debut album The Beginning (1980) with some guest studio musicians. In 1981 their second album, released on Solar Records, Standing Together, reached position #54 on the U.S. R&B chart. In 1982 they released a third album, Victory.

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62 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Thursday Open Thread

  1. President Barack Obama, with members of his security team, waves as he leaves Island Snow with a Shave Ice at Kailua Beach Center while on vacation with the first family, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011, in Kailua, Hawaii.

  2. Marty Nesbitt, a friend of US President Barack Obama, is seen with a shaved ice as Obama with family and friends made a stop at Island Snow shaved ice December 29, 2011 in Kaneohe, Hawaii. Obama stopped for the treat after spending the afternoon at the beach.

  3. Shamans perform a ritual for good luck in 2012 as they hold a poster of President Barack Obama in Lima, Peru, Thursday Dec. 29, 2011.

  4. 103-year-old woman, spared eviction, gets new beds

    A 103-year-old Atlanta woman who was spared foreclosure on the home she’s lived in for half a century received a belated Christmas present Thursday.

    A truck from the Mattress Firm pulled up Thursday morning carrying an estimated $6,000 in bedding and a cash gift for Vinia Hall and her 84-year-old daughter, Kathelyn Cornelius.

    Paul Wallace, who made the delivery for Mattress Firm, said the company donated two adjustable beds and pillows. He said a Mattress Firm store manager heard Hall’s story and sent a company-wide email to employees soliciting help, prompting the corporate office to donate the beds.

    Employees also contributed a $600 money order to Hall, Wallace said.

    James Clark, manager of the Buckhead store, was the one who got the ball rolling with the email soliciting help for Hall.

    “This touches me like you can’t believe,” Clark said. “I saw the story and I sent out an email … and decided that this was something we couldn’t let go by. We had to step up. Within the first 30 minutes of sending out the email I got well over 30 responses instantly … and it just kept rolling.”

    Clark said that at the Buckhead store, “I deal with a lot of seniors so they really touch my heart.”

    Hall was elated over the gifts.

    “I appreciate it so much,” she said. “I’m getting too much; I’m going to keep on living,” she joked. “I just thank y’all so much.”

    She joked that she’d use some of the $600 to “buy me a dinner today.”

    In November, a crew of movers and Fulton County sheriff’s deputies went to the home to evict Hall and her daughter but decided they couldn’t go through with it.

    • Oh, this warms my heart to no end. Thank God there are generous & kind people in this world willing to reach out and help 2 precious ladies. God bless Ms Hall with many more years on this earth! God bless the people whose hearts were touched to donate the beds and money! ***hugs***

  5. Ametia says:


    Ron Paul: Like Martin Luther King Jr, the New Savior of Black America?

  6. What is Mitt Romney Hiding?

  7. President Barack Obama rides in his motorcade back to his rental home following a workout in Kailua, Hawaii, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. The President and his family are visiting Hawaii through New Years Day.

  8. RP_Newsletter”

    Hmmm. I hate to agree with the Rev. Al, but maybe a name change is in order. Welfaria? Zooville? Rapetown? Dirtburg? Lazyopolis?

  9. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, survivors to commemorate mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, on Jan. 8 –

    • Ametia says:

      Wow; it’si been almost a year since the quitter from Wasilla got the KABASH on any chance of making it in politics after her dnagerous “CROSSHAiRS” debacle .

      God is good, and Gabby Giffords is still alive to remind us all that you can’t keep the true destiny of a good SOUL from completing its work here.

  10. rikyrah says:

    Wanker of the Day: Robert Reich
    by BooMan
    Thu Dec 29th, 2011 at 10:04:27 AM EST

    It took me a long time to realize it because I like him and because he gives every appearance of being extremely intelligent, but I now know that Robert Reich just isn’t that smart. He is predicting that Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden will switch places. He’s not merely advocating this.

    My political prediction for 2012 (based on absolutely no inside information): Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden swap places. Biden becomes Secretary of State — a position he’s apparently coveted for years. And Hillary Clinton, Vice President.
    So the Democratic ticket for 2012 is Obama-Clinton.

    The last president to willingly switch vice-presidents was Franklin Roosevelt, who did it twice. But Joe Biden is no Henry Wallace, nor is he under indictment like Spiro Agnew. So, why does Reich think Obama will demote the vice-president?

    Why do I say this? Because Obama needs to stir the passions and enthusiasms of a Democratic base that’s been disillusioned with his cave-ins to regressive Republicans. Hillary Clinton on the ticket can do that.

    I think we need to define the word “needs” a little more precisely. Do any of you see any indicators that the president is about to lose his reelection bid? Have you seen any recent, reputable polls that show him losing to any of the clowns running for the Republican nomination? There appears to be no current ‘need’ for riling up the base. Maybe Reich believes such a need will arise. The future is uncertain, and it’s better to have a motivated base than a “disillusioned” one. Of course, Robert Reich doesn’t seem to know who constitutes the Democratic base. He seems to think its made up of Jane Hamsher, Matt Stoller, Arianna Huffington, Cornel West. and the people Reich dines with on weekends. Would those malcontents be excited by Hillary Clinton on the ticket? Do malcontents get excited?

    Obama’s real base is made up of the people who helped him beat Hillary Clinton, presumably (at least, in part) because there was something about Clintonism and DLC politics that they didn’t like. It was made up of students, people of color, and progressives of all stripes who believed we could win a different way. Most of them are disillusioned about some elements of Obama’s presidency, and who can’t be disillusioned about the state of Congress? But they still support the president and still oppose everything coming from the other side. The real and lasting disillusionment would be if Obama set up Clinton to be his heir-apparent. That would mean that eight years of Obama couldn’t shift the party (or the country) to the left one iota.

    That would demoralize Obama’s base. Of course, putting Clinton on the ticket would create excitement in other quarters of the Democratic Party, and it could wind up a wash. Changing tickets would be a sign of weakness and a bit of a panic move, but it might work out in the end. I’m not arguing that an Obama-Clinton ticket could not do better than an Obama-Biden one. I think it’s possible.

    But, it won’t happen, it wouldn’t excite Obama’s base, it isn’t needed, and it’s far from certain that it wouldn’t backfire. So, on any level you might want to judge it, Robert Reich’s essay is the product of a startlingly dumb man.

  11. rikyrah says:

    December 29, 2011 1:16 PM
    David Brooks Wants You To Have A Midlife Crisis
    By Ed Kilgore

    Sorry to comment on an op-ed that appeared on Monday—eons ago in the insta-blogging world of Political Animal—but I don’t think Steve wrote about it, and as with everything David Brooks publishes, there is a segment of the chattering classes that will nod at his sagacity even when he approaches self-parody.

    I’m not among those who actively dislike Brooks. He’s occasionally quite entertaining if not always enlightening, and I’d like to think he means well, if not for his extraordinary skill at hovering above every issue with “centrist” detachment before landing, almost infallibly, at a place that coincides with the positions or interests of conservative Republicans.

    A case in point is his December 26 column entitled “A Mid-Life Crisis.” In classic Brookesian fashion, he views our dyspeptic society from the high perspective of history, lamenting our old and sclerotic habits and institutions, our decadent morality, our loss of faith in ourselves. It’s not a superficially right-wing piece; Brooks lauds the Progressive Era and deplores America’s growing income inequality and persistent poverty.

    Ah, but then the eagle nears land, and it turns out all this sad decline calls for a very different approach than progressives used to prescribe:

    One hundred years ago, we had libertarian economics but conservative values. Today we have oligarchic economics and libertarian moral values — a bad combination.
    In sum, in the progressive era, the country was young and vibrant. The job was to impose economic order. Today, the country is middle-aged but self-indulgent. Bad habits have accumulated. Interest groups have emerged to protect the status quo. The job is to restore old disciplines, strip away decaying structures and reform the welfare state. The country needs a productive midlife crisis

    By “the country,” Brooks clearly means those whose “self-indulgence” has not earned them sufficient wealth and opportunity to avoid the need for “decaying structures,” or a “welfare state.” The “old disciplines,” it seems, are reserved for Americans who are not as fortunate—and apparently not as virtuous—as David Brooks. He doesn’t come right out and say that this wastrel nation demands the tough love of a Romney administration or a Paul Ryan budget to provide it with the bracing experience it needs to recover its lost youth. But then such explicit lesson-drawing would spoil David’s reputation as an independent thinker and “centrist.”

    So shape up, America, or you will continue to richly earn your afflictions!

  12. rikyrah says:

    Exposing The Lie: South Carolina Can’t Prove the Need for Voter ID Law

    Ed Schultz talks to Professor Caroline Heldman about South Carolina’s voter ID law being blocked by the federal government. This marks the first time in 20 years a voter ID law has been rejected. Republicans have made voter ID laws their cause of the year, in spite of the fact that there is no evidence of voter fraud occurring. In fact, South Carolina was unable to justify the need for the voter ID laws because they could not prove that voter fraud was a problem in the state.

    South Carolina is on the list of states requiring federal preclearance before changes to voting laws, due to its history of racial discrimination. Voting ID laws impact minorities more than whites, as minorities in the state are 20% less likely to have a photo ID. The Department of Justice blocked the new law because it could keep tens of thousands of minorities in the state from voting

    Ed Scultz: Professor, if the law is considered discriminatory, why isn’t the Department of Justice rejecting similar voter i.d. laws in other states? What do you think?

    Caroline Heldman: I think it’s probably because those states aren’t on the list of eight states that require preclearance because of their history of discrimination, as Katie has pointed out. He’s specifically going after south Carolina and Texas because they’re on that list. Eric Holder could under section 2 also go after any law that is discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He’s not chosen to do that. I guess I’m a little more pessimistic because I think it’s hard for the average American because of the way this has been framed as voter fraud. Who doesn’t want to stand against fraud?

    Because of the way it’s been framed by a lot of conservative outlets, I think it’s hard to make the case that we shouldn’t require i.d. I think it’s hard for people to understand that if they have i.d., it doesn’t mean everyone can get it. That’s the uphill battle. It’s a political hot potato for President Obama to step into this mess. He will face backlash from people who think it’s common sense that people should have i.d.s even though 11% of the American public does not.

  13. rikyrah says:

    by Tim F.

    Should have bet money on it.

    Gingrich is not materially different from Trump, Bachmann, Perry or Herman Cain. He is another clown with a slightly different brand. The only meaningful question is whether the thing that trips Newt up will be his past, his faulty brain-mouth filter or the crickets and spiders that live in empty storefronts where his campaign organization ought to be.

    And no, there will be no Huntsmanmania when Newt! throws an axle some time in late Hannukah (Or Fred Kargermentum, in case you were wondering). Huntsman already played enough contrarian cards to enjoy the Amish treatment for the rest of his short political career. If I were Rick Santorum, though, I might start to wonder whether my turn on the hotseat might not line up in a convenient way with Iowa or South Carolina.

    The Ron Paul-mentum admittedly took me by surprise. In my defense though, the guy has so much crazy going on that he stands out even in a crowd of demented haters, liars and losers. His will not be the Perry or Cain chardonnay hangover that builds over time and leaves you sore and queasy while trying to stay lucid at church group. The Paul hangover will be a grain alcohol skullbreaker that hits like a train and passes in a blacked-out blur, the kind that leaves people wondering whether it was real and, much later, lets them deny that it happened at all.

    If I had to guess about Iowa, I would stick to my bet that Santorum will win the lottery and peak just in time to beat Romney in Iowa and then sink quietly beneath the santorum radar before any other significant primary comes along. Romney will sheepishly claim the mantle like everyone knew he would, and the party will piss and moan and line up behind their guy just like Democrats did behind Walter Mondale in ‘84.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Corporate Food News: McDonald’s Goes Belly Up In Bolivia

    The golden arches are belly up in Bolivia. It seems Bolivians don’t consider fast food good food. Cue the panicked and confused Mickey D marketers grasping on to their established American victims.

    Lisa Karpova of Pravda translated from the original Spanish:

    After 14 years of presence in the country, and despite all the existing campaigns and having a network, the chain was forced to close the eight restaurants that remained open in the three main cities: La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

    It is a question of the first Latin-American country that will remain without any McDonald’s, and the first country in the world where the company has to close because it persists in having their numbers in the red for over a decade.

    Confused marketers made a documentary entitled “Why McDonald’s went broke in Bolivia” in which they tried to explain that Bolivians don’t like hamburgers. But it turns out that Bolivians simply prefer slow cooked food.

    In Bolivia, the food to be good requires, in addition to taste, care, and hygiene, a lot of preparation time. This is how a consumer values the quality of what goes into the stomach, also by the amount of time it took to make the meal. Fast food is not for these people, the Americans concluded.

    So, we are not hard-wired for Mickey D’s. This means that something else is selling us on eating cardboard grease. Gosh, whatever could it be? How did corporations sell Americans on a culture of fast food, creating a desire for semi-food, frozen specks of animal fat laden with additives covered in sugary syrups?

    In May of this year, McDonald’s got a letter from 550 health experts, accusing the corporate monster of ignoring the impact its product and predatory marketing has on kids.

  15. rikyrah says:

    December 29, 2011 10:48 AM

    Goo-Goo Mischief-Makers
    By Ed Kilgore

    I’ve been ignoring the whole Americans Elect phenomenon in the hopes that it would somehow go away, like many earlier do-gooder efforts aimed at creating a third party that avoids the messy process of actually believing in something other than its own nobility. But now that the group is using its hedge-fund donations to buy ballot access in a significant number of states, it’s probably time to pay attention. It’s been generally assumed that the whole enterprise was created to give Michael Bloomberg the option of running for president if that strikes his fancy, but Americans Elect’s ballot lines could become a tempting target for other billionaires or for crazy people. Indeed, as Ruth Marcus recently pointed out, the “democratic” internet-based process Americans Elect says it will use for choosing a presidential ticket seems tailor-made for exploitation by, say, the Ron Paul Revolution or somebody like Donald Trump.

    That, of course, is that rationalization for the anti-democratic measures built into Americans Elect’s structure: the power of a board to set aside (subject to a veto override from “voters”) the People’s Choice in order to create a legitimately “balanced, centrist” ticket, whatever that means.

    As Jon Chait notes today, it’s all a recipe for mischief, and perhaps multiple third-party candidacies:

    [T]he picture is that you could have any of Trump, Paul, or [Gary] Johnson, running on the Americans Elect line, or possibly in addition to an Americans Elect candidate. All these decisions will be heavily influenced by behind-the-scenes maneuvering. Americans Elect may not have only a struggle between its voters and its elites. Surely the Republican and Democratic Parties will try to get involved. Since third parties tend to hurt major party candidates most ideologically similar to themselves, the GOP will try to push liberal alternatives, like Bloomberg, into the race, while the Democrats will try to get right-wingers like Trump or Paul to run. Obama’s aides are warning loudly against the undemocratic nature of Americans Elect’s leadership. They don’t care about transparency, they care about letting Americans Elect help their candidate rather than hurt him. The outcome of these maneuverings could have a far larger impact than many of the stories the media is obsessively covering.

    Yep. Sinister or simply naive, the organizers of Americans Elect could be opening a real-life Pandora’s Box.

  16. U.S. to sell fighter jets to Saudi Arabia: White House….would support more than 50,000 U.S. jobs

  17. RP_Newsletter:

    We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational.

  18. DAOWENS44:

    2011 Year in Review: Eight Ways the Health Care Law Helps You | The White House

  19. Al Sharpton, Rick Santorum mix it up on TV

    The Rev. Al Sharpton sparred with Rick Santorum on “Morning Joe” on Thursday, chiding the Republican candidate for saying “despicable and ugly things” about President Barack Obama.

    Sharpton jumped in, asking Santorum, “When you get through talking, how do you do it if the federal government is not going to do it?”

    “And I might remind you, you’re running to be the head of the federal government. So how are you against something that you’re running to be in charge of? Isn’t that a little schizo?” Sharpton said.

    “Yeah, that’s the difference between you and me, Al,” Santorum said.

    I keep saying this…..I love the Rev. Al. He takes it to them every time.

  20. dannie22 says:

    Hello everyone!

  21. Here we go, guys! They cannot contain their jealous hate.

    Michelle Obama’s Pricey Vacation Wardrobe

    The Obamas have been drawing heat for their 17-day Hawaiian holiday, estimated by some media outlets to cost taxpayers $4 million.

    But the criticism doesn’t stop there. Now first lady Michelle Obama is under scrutiny for her high-end fashion choices.

    For the Christmas Day church service at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Base, Mrs. Obama was photographed in a seemingly simple white sundress with red and yellow stripes. The dress, however, was by French-born, U.S.-based designer Sophie Theallet, and would have cost the first lady almost $2,000 when she bought it in 2009. More recent designs by Theallet sell for even more.

    For the meet-and-greet with service members and their families in a nearby mess hall later in the day, Mrs. Obama dressed down — in a printed green $950 Comme des Garcons skirt with bag waist.

    Some see the first lady’s penchant for expensive labels at odds with her reputation as a bargain shopper who frequents J. Crew and Target.

    One comment on the Naked DC website read: “She claims to be a champion of the poor and a fellow bargain shopper, but yet, here she is, sporting a dress that no unemployed American can afford.”

    President Barack Obama’s dinner last night with the first lady and friends was similarly out of range for many Americans. The group dined at Alan Wong’s Restaurant, an upscale eatery that specializes in Hawaiian Regional Cuisine and is a favorite of the first couple.

    The Obama party ordered off a special 5-course tasting menu for $75 a person — $105 per person with wine pairings for each course. Highlights included”Sassey Salad” and bacon-wrapped pork loin, one appetizer and a sample of three butters from three local dairies.

  22. Mark Knoller:

    The WH also says the new US-Saudi arms deal will support more than 50,000 American jobs & give the US economy a $3.5-billion annual boost.

  23. Obama Gains Reputation As Distant In Washington

    Mr. Obama, in general, does not go out of his way to play the glad-handing, ego-stroking presidential role. While he does sometimes offer a ride on Air Force One to a senator or member of Congress, more often than not, he keeps Congress and official Washington at arm’s length, spending his down time with a small — and shrinking — inner circle of aides and old friends.

    • Boo Hoo!

      Whiny beyotches is mad because the President isn’t kissing their ass.

    • Ametia says:

      Now could n’t it be because PBO knows how these clowns in DC operate, could it?

    • rikyrah says:

      TOWN wrote this in response to this article:


      But another former president, George W. Bush, was not especially tight with much of the Washington establishment. He was known for going to bed at 9 p.m., regularly retreating to his ranch in Texas and having distant if polite relations with Capitol Hill.

      George & Laura Bush did NOT like the assholes in Washington and made it known. But it’s somehow a problem with Barack Obama.

      Professional Left Liberal White People, listen up: Let me preview some pages from the Black Peoples Handbook®: Black people, especially those in professional occupations, are NOT trying to drink and socialize with you and have you all up in their house. That is a No-no. Why?

      1) Most black people know their white coworkers only want to come over to their house to see what they’ve got. Not to visit you and socialize and care about you. If you as a black person have broke down shit, they will whisper and laugh at you behind your back, but if you have stuff that’s “better” than what you’re “supposed” to have, the knives come out.

      For example, if Barack & Michelle Obama have some broke down Goodwill furniture with scuffs & scrapes & plastic slipcovers, Washington will whisper how tacky and ghetto they are.

      However, we all know the Obamas do NOT rock broke down thrift store furniture. So if Brad & Molly Ann see the Obamas with that Thomasville set they’ve had their eye on but couldn’t afford, the knives will be out. How can THEY afford THAT? will be the cry. Every black person knows this. My grandmother (RIP) bought a new hat one time, and the white haters on her job used her new hat to justify giving everyone else a raise EXCEPT her. She doesn’t need a raise if she can afford a new hat, they said.

      I had a black coworker, who drove a 20 year old car for years, b/c it was paid for and still was in great working condition. A relative died and left her a good sum of money. Since her house was already paid for and she had no kids, she bought a used BMW. White coworker eyes instantly turned green and one of them actually told her she had no business driving a car like that!

      2) Smart black people do NOT drink and party excessively with their white coworkers because white coworkers who get drunk & rowdy are just “having a good time.” Black coworkers who get drunk & rowdy are “ghetto”, “unprofessional” and “don’t know how to behave.”

      3) Most black people know their white coworkers are fine with them coming over to their (white people’s) house, but will find every sort of excuse NOT to come to their (black) house. So if white coworkers are clamoring to come over to your house, there must be a reason “why” and that reason usually isn’t to the benefit of the black coworker.

      4) Barack & Michelle Obama have been in the white corporate/educational world for 30 years, they know your tricks & games up close & personal, why would they want to invite you over to their house so you can eat their food and runteldat to Chris Matthews or Fox Noise about how uppity and grandiose they are?

      Professional Left Liberal White Folks, that was your little excerpt of The Black People’s Handbook®.


      GO TOWN!!

      TELL IT!!

  24. ‘Cause it’s so easy, it’s so right
    It’s so easy to rock it with your body, baby
    It’s so easy, it’s so right
    It’s so easy if you drive it all night

  25. rikyrah says:

    Church’s shooting: Killed teens in ‘wrong place at wrong time’

    Tuesday was 99 cent specials night at Church’s Chicken at 66th and Halsted, and the dinnertime rush was on.

    When a crazed gunman ran in and started shooting, there was almost nowhere to run.

    But 17-year-old Dantril Brown made it to a side exit of the packed restaurant all the same, his family said Wednesday. He didn’t make it any further.

    “The door was locked,” Brown’s aunt and godmother Linda King said. “He was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

    Brown, a student at Prosser Career Academy, and Jawan Ross, 16, a student at Robeson High School, were named Wednesday by the Cook County medical examiner’s office as the two teens killed in the wild shooting just blocks from their Englewood homes. Five other victims — including a friend of Brown’s — survived the 6:50 p.m. mayhem with bullet wounds, authorities say.

    The restaurant, where workers were protected behind bulletproof glass, was closed Wednesday, and police had not made any arrests. Chicago Police said Tuesday that the incident began when the gunman got in an argument with another man outside the restaurant, then escalated when he followed the second man inside and started shooting. Video evidence has been recovered.

    Families of both dead teens gathered at houses nearby Wednesday to mourn what they described as typical teenage boys.

    Ross, of the 6600 block of South Stewart, was a basketball fanatic and cutup from a large, disciplined family, relatives said. He loved fixing things, building bicycles and joking with his 15 siblings, aunt Latonya Ross said.

    While his sisters went to a White Castle down the block to grab food Tuesday night, Ross made the fateful decision to take advantage of the special at Church’s, she said. “He was there alone. He just got caught in the middle of something he had nothing to do with,” his aunt added. She said the violence plaguing Englewood “is crazy — it’s got to stop.”

    Brown’s family said he had been arrested once before for staying out past curfew. But King said Brown was not in a gang and that he was looking forward to going to college. “This had nothing to do with any gang activity, at least not as far as Dantril was concerned, as far as we know,” she said.

    Relatives described Brown, of the 6800 block of South Emerald, as a ladies man who also loved basketball and helped his mother raise his siblings while she struggled with breast cancer.

    “I just want my brother back,” his little sister Queen said.

  26. rikyrah says:

    A first-hand look at what motivates Paulites

    The dustup over Ron Paul’s strange, racist newsletter ravings — written by him or not — during the 1980s and ’90s, and the apparent strategy by Paul associates, like Lew Rockwell and the late Murray Rothbard, to attract disaffected white voters to Libertarianism, brings back memories for me.

    For close to a year, I worked with a Paulite, and got a firsthand look at the adherents’ worldview, and of Paul’s appeal to so-called “rednecks.”

    I don’t mean that as a pejorative. My co-worker was a proud, self-described “black redneck” — obsessed with guns and hunting; often boasting about the large stockpile of firearms at his home.

    He was fixated, almost to the point of fanaticism, on the Federal Reserve, even self-publishing books on the subject.

    Among his proudest achievements: having met and interviewed Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
    The theories espoused by Paul adherents — they are on the political left as well as on the right — can be found on Internet radio, on libertarian-leaning websites like The Daily Paul, and on the late night conspiracy radio theater hosted by George Noori, popular with late night truckers concerned about things like alien invasions and black helicopters.

    To my then-coworker, as to Paul, the Federal Reserve system is the root of all evil — the single biggest corrupting influence on American monetary and even foreign policy, because it undermines “sound money” based on gold.

    To Paulites, America was better off before the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 capped a series of financial panics in the early 20th century. The idea of a private banking system regulating interest rates and the money supply frightens Paulites, giving rise to all sorts of conspiracy theories about secret control by a coven of New York bankers, and international plots to end America’s sovereignty.

    Among them:

    • A conspiracy, based on Paul’s 2008 presidential platform and his rhetoric as a member of Congress, to connect the U.S., Canada and Mexico into one giant country with a common currency, kicked off by the building of a transcontinental “NAFTA superhighway.”

    • Belief in a government plot to disarm Americans, using gun control legislation to eventually confiscate the firearms of law-abiding citizens to prevent armed resistance.
    My former coworker believed that Americans have the right to own any kind of firearm, up to and including tanks, rocket launchers and surface-to-air missiles. Seriously.

    • And a conspiracy to flood the nation with foreigners who would displace American workers, making America less “American.” A strong anti-immigrant thread runs through Paulite Libertarianism. In my former coworker’s case, it was a constant, simmering rage at black Caribbean immigrants. For many Paulites, the culprits are Spanish-speaking migrants, especially from Mexico.

    The belief that international forces are seeking to undermine American liberty is central to the Paulites, who in many ways are heirs to the conspiratorial mindset of the John Birch Society — which distributed a video in 1998 featuring Paul. In that video he urged a U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations, to prevent an international takeover that would result in Americans losing not just their right to bear arms, but their right to worship God.

  27. rikyrah says:

    December 28, 2011 5:13 PM
    More On What This Election is “About”
    By Ed Kilgore

    As I’ve argued earlier today (and elsewhere, for much of the last year), those assuming the entire 2012 election cycle is “about the economy” have not been paying much attention to the GOP nominating contest. Many Republican “base” voters are grinding ideological axes that have little or nothing to do with the economy other than reflecting a determination to do nothing whatsoever about it that would discomfit wealthy “job creators.”

    At The Caucus site of the New York Times, Micheal D. Shear has a fascinating glimpse into the psyche of Iowa Republicans based on how audiences are reacting to different pitches from candidate Rick Perry:

    On Tuesday, Rick Perry held four events, starting in Council Bluffs and ending up in Osceola, about an hour south of Des Moines. Mr. Perry talked about being an outsider, taking the fight to President Obama and making the Congress a part-time legislature.
    But the audiences in all four places were remarkably similar when it came to what parts of Mr. Perry’s speech moved them to applause, sometimes even hooting and hollering their approval when Mr. Perry touched on issues they care about.

    Some of the applause was clearly for Mr. Perry, whose stump speech includes some well-delivered lines that are designed to get a reaction. But some of those lines fell flat on Tuesday, while the audience — not necessarily filled with supporters of Mr. Perry — sometimes applauded when the candidate least expected it.

    According to Shear, the lines that “moved” Perry’s audiences were (1) statements of hard-line support for Israel’s position that a nuclear Iran is both imminent and intolerable (including a sharp attack on Ron Paul); (2) pledges to radically reduce the size and scope of the federal government, including Perry’s recycling of Lamar Alexander’s famous 1996 “cut their pay and send them home” tagline for creating a part-time Congress with lower salaries; (3) a pledge to “shut down the border” against undocumented workers; (4) a hard line against legalized abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood; (5) promises to increase domestic oil production; and (6) a pledge to barnstorm the country to achieve enactment and ratification of a balanced budget constitutional amendment.

    With the arguable exception of the energy issue, none of these applause lines have much to do with jobs and the economy. And in retrospect, it’s clear Perry should have spent less time during the the early days of his campaign bragging about his jobs record in Texas, and a whole lot more time repositioning himself on immigration, where his “liberal” support for in-state tuition for the children of undocumented workers very nearly destroyed his campaign in Iowa and elsewhere.

  28. rikyrah says:

    December 28, 2011
    The GOP’s base ingredient

    Throughout last fall’s several thousand Republican presidential debates the candidates would on occasion be asked to compliment one of their competitors, at which point an almost singular admiration would erupt for Ron Paul. Mitt loved him, Newt loved him, the Ricks loved him and so on, although it cannot be denied that much of this public adoration was privately pragmatic: Warm to the Paulites, because when their avatar flames out — which Paul and only Paul is absolutely sure to do — they and their mass organizational skills will have to go somewhere.

    Yet that pragmatic choice to cozy up to Paul went deeper; it went also to the historical and psychological core of the contemporary GOP. The University of California’s Jeffrey Stewart, in Politico’s “Arena,” does a nice job of summarizing:

    That [Paul] is so popular and will remain popular despite these newsletters reveals how much an anti-black motivation underlies the frenzy of the Republican presidential campaign….

    Paul is not atypical–he was just impolitic enough to put in print what the Republican rank and file still believes.

    Whether presidential-candidate Paul is or isn’t a racist is essentially immaterial. The same holds true for the others. For their political reality is that they, notwithstanding whatever their private views, must pay tribute to the coded malice of states’ rights and the implied, oppressive anarchy of a shackled central authority in the federal government. That this professed ideology of inflated local power and limited federal authority is more personal and opportunistic than conceptual and genuine becomes apparent when the GOP base advocates for a U.S. marshal stationed in every bedroom, as well as over the shoulder of every gynecologist.

    In the early 1960s Barry Goldwater, the actual originator (not Richard Nixon) of the Southern Strategy, pithily metaphorized the essence of capitalizing on white backlash: Republican candidates should “go hunting where the ducks are.” If Goldwater, like Paul, hadn’t been a libertarian crackpot, he might have had a shot in ’64. Today, demographic pressures have thinned the ducks’ ranks, thereby leaving Republican candidates to desperately appeal to an ever-shrinking target audience. They just can’t quit the racists — still the base ingredient of the whole goddamn party.

  29. rikyrah says:

    December 27, 2011
    No way out, or over
    Dan Balz lays out the GOP’s central predicament:

    The shifting allegiances of Republican voters suggest not only a vote of no confidence in many of the candidates but also unresolved divisions within the party. The next nominee will have to bridge that divide. Republicans are united on many policy issues, but the tea party’s influence has pushed all the presidential candidates to the right.

    To the far and generally unacceptable right, it would seem; and for the GOP, I don’t see any way out. Not within a few months, anyway, since the Republican primaries, in what could be prolonged and grueling warfare, will keep the candidates pinned to the far right’s wall.

    The inevitable Mitt Romney, I’m sure, long ago wished to slip into yet another political metamorphosis, gravely intoning that he never meant to question the human contribution to global warming, and that he never meant to portray corporations in such a Shakespearean way — Do they not bleed when they’re pricked? — and that he never meant to throw into doubt the historic profundities of his Massachusetts healthcare law.

    All of this backpedaling — and much, much more — I’m sure Romney has had on the tip of his opportunistic tongue for months, since independent voters will think him quite mad should he persist otherwise. Yet he must persist; indeed he must mutate even madder, if he’s to engender any enthusiasm among the GOP’s motivated base.

    In the process he’s filling a vault of imperishable lunacies that President Obama’s reelection team is undoubtedly viewing like grade-A porn. Is this as good as it gets? No, no, it’s going to get even better, as Mitt Romney panders like a preening gigolo to the bluehairs and mossbacks who’ve already done bought their tickets for this here far-right freak show.

    Can Romney afford to alienate them between now and next November? Nope. He’d then be without a base on which to build, yet he cannot build on the base he hopes to secure, poor devil, since it itself is eerily alienating.

    Balz is correct: There’s an enormous divide. But no bridge.

  30. rikyrah says:

    What Does Ron Paul Stand For?
    Posted on 12/29/2011 at 7:47 am by Bob Cesca

    You’ve probably overheard or observed various progressives and anti-war idealists praising Ron Paul for his foreign policy record while virtually ignoring his awful record on an array of other issues.

    Last year, Glenn Greenwald wrote a virtual love letter to Ron Paul and, towards the end, he off-handedly mentioned Paul’s “odious” positions on other issues. He wrote a sentence or two covering his ass following a lengthy dissertation about Paul’s greatness.

    But what exactly are those other positions?

    First, Ron Paul has consistently been the most conservative member of Congress, based on his voting record. And that’s not just this year or last year alone. He has the most conservative voting record in Congress since 1937. Think of the most conservative wingnut you can come up with. Ron Paul is to that guy’s right. Michele Bachmann, Steve King, Louie Gohmert — Ron Paul has them beat by a gazillion miles. Again, the most conservative since 1937. There have been more than 3,000 members of Congress in that time.

    As everyone knows, he’s a disciple of fiction writer Ayn Rand. Among other things, Paul’s libertarianism is manifested in his desire to eliminate many cabinet level departments including the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Internal Revenue Service. Yeah, it’s okay to risk a significant loss of government services, and the millions of American lives effected, in order to stop drone attacks.

    On the Rand note, Paul is opposed to tax increases and government spending. In fact, he wants to roll back federal spending levels to 2000 numbers. This would practically destroy the slow economic recovery and potentially slide us into another depression.

    Ron Paul also interprets the 2nd Amendment to mean an unfettered right to bear arms.

    Of course all of his talk about personal liberty comes to an abrupt halt on the issue of abortion. Paul is staunchly pro-life and supports the criminalization of abortion — calling for the arrest of abortion doctors, presumably for murder.

    Paul is quoted on his website: “There has to be a criminal penalty for the person that’s committing that crime. And I think that is the abortionist.”

    For a self-proclaimed Constitutionalist, Paul doesn’t support privacy rights and the 14th Amendment.

    And Paul would leave these laws up to the states. We all know how fair state-level crime and punishment can be, especially in death penalty states.

    Speaking of which, Ron Paul supports states’ rights. As we all know, the issue of unrestricted states’ rights was settled 150 years ago when 650,000 were killed when southern states refused to free their slaves.

    While Ron Paul is often praised for his non-interventionism and his position on civil liberties, he voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists in 2001. This legislation gave the Bush administration unprecedented war powers following 9/11.

    Ron Paul voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, authorizing hundreds of miles of new border fences. Despite being lauded as a civil liberties hero, he supported the Defense of Marriage Act. He also co-sponsored the Marriage Protection Act, which beefed up DOMA and stopped judges from overturning the rule. He’s against universal healthcare.

    He thinks global warming is a hoax and doesn’t support any regulation of industry to prevent pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

    And finally, he has a long record of obvious racism. He voted against affirmative action, opposed the Civil Rights Act, opposed the renewal of the Voting Rights Act, and distributed racist newsletters.

    Yes, Ron Paul’s libertarianism leads him to some positive ideas on foreign policy and civil liberties. But this very same ideology also leads him to a wide variety of utterly horrific positions spanning nearly the entire spectrum of public policy — positions that would cause significant harm, damage and destruction to the economy, to women, to minorities and to nearly everything progressives value.

    If you fancy yourself a progressive and support this guy, you’re out of your mind. If indefinite detention and predator drones are high, if not exclusive, priorities for you, then vote for Ron Paul. Just think about what you’re trading away.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Erick Erickson Does Not {Heart} Santorum
    by Anne Laurie

    Via Jonathan Bernstein at WaPo’s Plum Line, a little sweet schadenfreude for those of us in the Reality-Based Community tribe [RedState link]:

    No Surprise, Iowa Social Conservatives Are About To Shoot Us All in the Foot Again

    I’m hearing several campaigns and external pollsters have a surge for Rick Santorum. With the National Review folks fawning over him again, it probably means a surge is real and any surge by Rick Santorum is another factor ensuring Mitt Romney wins the nomination…

    Santorum has no money or organization outside of Iowa and cannot win the nomination, but Iowans love a guy who sucks up to them and makes sure they know he loves the babies…

    Let’s remember Rick Santorum could not even win re-election in his home state of Pennsylvania…

    But most damning to me is Rick Santorum’s actual record in the Senate and House of Representatives. I keep hearing him say he was such a paragon of fiscal conservative virtue, when he was anything but that. He was as go along to get along as all the other Republicans who led to our downfall.

    Making Santorum worse, he was always the guy saying, “I had to do this, but wait till I get to leadership. I’ll be there for you in leadership.” It’s what he is saying now. Only it isn’t true and never was…

    [T]he Santorum I have observed for a decade is the Rick Santorum on the campaign trail now — a guy trying to have it both ways through too clever by half stunts like voting against the minimum wage while authoring a bill to raise the minimum wage so no one can pin him down on his record.

    Rick Santorum is more conservative than Mitt Romney. He is a strong social conservative and has taken a lot of bullets from the left because of his stand. But he is not as strong a fiscal conservative as he claims and the real issue here is social conservatives in Iowa risk Mitt Romney’s election by supporting a guy who cannot get traction or money outside of Iowa.

    Rick Santorum will not be the nominee. That’s the reality. But his rise hurts Bachmann, Gingrich, and Perry in Iowa — all of whom have better organizations and better shots beyond Iowa.

    The first few dozen comments seem to be split between “sensible” people urging their fellows to shut up and vote Romney, as the best of the available bad choices, and those determined to defend their various alternative candidates… although the only one who really seems to gin up the shouters, both pro & con, is Ron Paul. Rather like the mirror image of some not-conservative blog I follow on a much more regular basis.

    I have trouble not reading this as “Yeah, yeah, sanctity of slut-punishing, opposite marriage, yada yada yada—would you guys shut up with the Jeebus talk and concentrate on picking a candidate who might actually be electable? We’ve got a very nice Home Owners’ Association to run here, and those of us who truly understand the burdens of service have agreed (however regretfully) that Willard Romney is the best man available for our board chair.”

    If the Fiscal Conservatives and the Social Conservatives are coming to blows even before their first caucus, I do believe that this is Good News for President Obama.

  32. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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