Showtime at the Apollo
The Apollo Theater in New York City is one of the oldest and most famous music halls in the United States, and the most famous club associated almost exclusively with African-American performers. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and was the home of Showtime at the Apollo, a nationally syndicated television variety show consisting of new talent.
The theater is located at 253 W. 125th Street in the New York City borough of Manhattan, specifically in Harlem, one of the United States’ most historically significant traditionally African-American neighborhoods.
The U.S. Cannot Have A Private Equity President, Mitt Romney
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I can give you several gritty reasons why former Bain Capital private equity czar Mitt Romney is not the person to become President of the U.S. in November.
First, is just one tale of a Bain deal under Romney. Bain Capital invested just $30 million to take over a company. It then arranged for this company to pay Bain and its investors a special dividend of $180 million– or six times the amount of equity capital Bain invested to take control. This technique of forcing your prey to pay back your original investment or more, as in this case, is to ensure that the Private Equity Firm is assured of a profit. It is an exploitative way to strip the company of its spare cash and is indefensible corporate rape. It is one selfish and destructive way to play the Private Equity game. For the average holding period by a PE firm is somewhere between 3 and 5 years– in and out with little thought as to the long term performance of the company or the protection of its employees.
Second, Gov. Romney goes about blaring that only he and he alone knows how to create jobs. What utter malarkey, as political pros have evidence prepared some time ago in 1994 for the late Sen Edward Kennedy by a very close relative of mine that nails Romney squarely for firing more people than he hired. You will see these tv ads come the fall, I guess.This is the fundamental nature of the way Private Equity works. It is a nicer polite way of describing company stripping, the classical ruthless way for a raider to exploit a weakened prey for its own profit. Period.
Third, the number of deals by Bain Capital under Romney were slightly more than a handful of the dozens that ultimately went bankrupt. The nature of Private Equity is to be ruthless, and only care about using as much borrowed money as possible in order to gin up the potential return on equity. That’s the only way Blackstone and Apollo and Carlyle and KKR and TPG and the rest can go around claiming investment returns of 30% to 45% a year. It’s game to make a handful of executives named Schwarzman, Rubenstein, Kravis, James, Bonderman and their ilk very rich using other people’s money, namely state and local pension funds. They are the suckers paying PE 2% just to hold their money, and then 20% of the profits from these investments. This PE compensation racket is the very sweetest in all finance.
OMG! Breath-taking beauty!
love our FLOTUS
President Obama: Romney Foreign Policy Attacks Will Wither in ‘Serious Debate’
President Obama dismissed Republican rival Mitt Romney’s critiques of his foreign policy credentials Wednesday in an exclusive TIME interview, saying the GOP frontrunner’s attacks are little more than primary posturing that will wither under the glare of “a serious debate.”
“I think Mr. Romney and the rest of the Republican field are going to be playing to their base until the primary season is over,” Obama told TIME’s Fareed Zakaria during a White House interview that will appear in the next issue of TIME magazine. “Overall, I think it’s going to be pretty hard to argue that we have not executed a strategy over the last three years that has put America in a stronger position than it was than when I came into office.”
the GOP frontrunner’s attacks are little more than primary posturing that will wither under the glare of “a serious debate.”
If the stinging slaps are starting now…just wait until the debates…it’s gonna be juiced!!!!!!! LOL
TEE HEE HEE
The Facts About President Obama’s Energy Record
Questioner to Newt: “I would like to thank you…for putting Mr. Juan Williams in his place”
how is this even LEGAL?
Keystone is Dead
Posted on 01/18/2012 at 2:00 pm by JM Ashby
As predicted, the Keystone XL pipeline has now been officially rejected by the Obama Administration after the Republicans chose to hasten the timeline for approval with a rider inserted into legislation that extended payroll tax-cuts and unemployment benefits for 2 months.
That won’t stop Speaker Boehner from whining about this today though, and when he does you should keep this in mind.
Environmentalists note that in December 2010, according to Boehner’s financial disclosure forms, he invested $10,000 to $50,000 each in seven firms that had a stake in Canada’s oil sands, the region that produces the oil the pipeline would transport. The firms include six oil companies — BP, Canadian Natural Resources, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Devon Energy and Exxon — along with Emerson Electric, which has a contract to provide the digital automation for the first phase of a $9.4 billion Horizon Oil Sands Project in Canada
Tehh GOp don’t do anything, push for anything, unless it BENEFITS THEM. First and FOREMOST.
Smart Mouth: JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, N.J., Jon Bon Jovi’s community restaurant
By Andrea Sachs, Published: January 13
How was I going to pay my bill at Soul Kitchen?
That niggling question weighed on my mind even before the waitress filled my glass of water, much less took my order. In fact, I started ruing this dilemma on the drive to Red Bank, a cultured oyster of a town on the Jersey Shore.
This wasn’t like other restaurant outings in refined destinations. I couldn’t simply ask my wallet for an answer. For this meal, I had to dig deeper, into the recesses of my conscience.
Soul Kitchen, which opened Oct. 19 in a former auto repair shop, is a self-described community kitchen with an American regional flair. Guests are encouraged to pay what they can, which can equate to hard cash (no credit cards accepted) or softer currency (volunteering at the restaurant or an affiliated organization). According to the guidelines, which I fully appreciated, a $10 donation covers the food expenses of one adult. Throw in more and the vestigial change will help defray the costs of another guest’s meal. However, if your wallet is dry, you can opt to volunteer for your dinner. A final option: pay and volunteer.
Cruise Ship Disaster Puts Focus On Safety Concerns
by Yuki Noguchi
January 18, 2012
The dramatic Costa Concordia accident off the coast of Italy is calling attention to the regulation of the cruise line industry. Experts say there are plenty of rules, but enforcement can be spotty.
Some of the survivors of last week’s disaster described the rescue effort as chaotic and disorganized. The crew had not yet conducted a required emergency drill during the cruise.
Dan Brehm, a lieutenant commander at the U.S. Coast Guard’s Cruise Ship National Center of Expertise, says whatever might have happened on the Costa Concordia, safety regulations are very clear.
Black is the new President
January 18, 2012 2:50 PM
Playing the blame game
By Steve Benen
There would appear to be a contradiction in the polls. On the one hand, Americans continue to be deeply unsatisfied with the state of the economy. On the other, President Obama’s approval rating has been pretty stable in the mid- to high-40s.
The key to understanding this is simple — most folks still don’t blame the president for the mess he inherited.
A majority of Americans believe that former President George W. Bush is more responsible than President Obama for the current economic problems in the country, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Fifty-four percent of respondents said that Bush was more to blame while 29 percent put the blame on Obama; 9 percent said both men deserved blame while 6 percent said neither did. Among registered voters, the numbers are almost identical; 54 percent blame Bush, while 30 percent blame Obama.
Independents, widely considered the most critical voting bloc this fall, continue to blame Bush far more than Obama for the economic troubles. Fifty-seven percent of unaffiliated voters put the blame on the former Republican president, while 25 percent believe the blame rests more with Obama.
Heck, even one in five Republicans say Bush is more responsible than Obama for the state of the economy!
Every time I’ve mentioned this in months passed, there’s an uptick in angry emails from Republicans who simply don’t believe the polls on this. I can appreciate a healthy degree of skepticism as much as the next guy, but the polling on this has been remarkably consistent for a long while.
This may not matter, at least far as electoral considerations are concerned. Americans were inclined to blame Bush for the economy in 2010, too, and if memory serves, GOP candidates did pretty well anyway. Voters may well conclude that Obama isn’t to blame for the mess, but they’re not satisfied with the speed with which he’s cleaning it up.
But when given a choice, the American mainstream hasn’t completely forgotten who created the mess in the first place.
What’s more, as long as we’re on the subject of blame, a New York Times/CBS News poll released this morning also found that Americans hold Republicans responsible for the gridlock in Washington. The survey found 60% of the public believes President Obama is “attempting to work with Congressional Republicans to try to accomplish something,” while only 27% say the same about GOP lawmakers. It’s probably why the president’s approval rating is roughly quadruple that of Congress.
Taken together, the American mainstream blames the economy on Bush and the mess in D.C. on congressional Republicans. This probably isn’t how the GOP hoped to start 2012.
Mitt Romney gave millions of dollars worth of Bain stock to Mormon church
Willard Romney does what is required by all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: He gives 10% of his income to the church, which in his case would be a pretty hefty contribution.
ABC News has more here:
Underscoring the prominent, if little discussed role that Mitt Romney played as a Mormon leader, the private equity giant once run by the GOP presidential frontrunner carved his church a slice of several of its most lucrative business deals, securities records show, providing it with millions of dollars worth of stock in some of Bain Capital’s most well-known holdings. […]
His family charity, called the Tyler Foundation, has given more than $4 million to the church in the past five years, including $1.8 million in 2008 and $600,000 in 2009. But because Romney, whose fortune has been estimated at $250 million, has never released his personal tax returns, the full extent of his giving has never been public.
Newly uncovered stock contributions made during Romney’s Bain days suggest there is another dimension to Romney’s support for the church — one that could involve millions more than has been previously disclosed.
January 18, 2012 1:00 PM
Obama admin nixes Keystone pipeline
By Steve Benen
The Keystone XL oil pipeline has become a major source of partisan wrangling. The project would stretch from Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Gulf Coast of Texas, posing major environmental risks that made the pipeline deeply controversial.
As of today, the Obama administration has scuttled the pipeline.
The Obama administration was poised on Wednesday to reject the Keystone crude oil pipeline, according to sources, a decision that would be welcomed by environmental groups but inflame the domestic energy industry.
The administration could make its announcement on TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline late on Wednesday or on Thursday, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. TransCanada Corp. shares slid more than 3 percent after the news.
Republicans, not surprisingly, are outraged, and plan to invest a fair amount of time and energy into complaining about the administration’s decision.
But let’s not forget the timeline of events here — and the direct role Republicans played in making today’s announcement happen.
In November, with administration officials exploring the advantages and disadvantages of the Keystone XL pipeline, they announced that a final decision would require more time and analysis. In particular, agencies wanted to study potential alternate routes that would steer clear of sensitive habitats and water supplies.
Not good enough, Republicans said. As part of the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, GOP officials demanded an expedited decision on the project. “Forget the studies,” Republicans argued. “We want a decision now.”
“Fine,” the Obama administration is effectively responding today. “The answer is no.”
I’d argue that this is the outcome Republicans wanted all along. The GOP didn’t really want the pipeline; they wanted the ability to whine about the absence of the pipeline. This wasn’t, in other words, about energy production; this was about creating an issue for the 2012 campaign.
Indeed, Republicans were told this would happen. A month ago, the State Department said an arbitrary deadline, imposed by GOP lawmakers, would cut short the review process, deny officials access to relevant environmental information, and very likely leave officials “unable to make a determination to issue a permit for this project.”
The GOP didn’t care. It’s a reminder that congressional Republicans don’t want to govern so much as they want to play games.
By the way, we’re likely to hear from the right that this project would have created 20,000 jobs. Nonpartisan estimates suggest that figure is wildly inflated, and one independent report concluded that “the project could actually destroy more jobs than it creates.” Something to keep in mind.
As for the left, environmental activists deserve to take a bow. Their work on this helped raise the visibility of the issue, and the pressure no doubt affected White House attitudes. Bill McKibben, 350.org founder and Keystone XL protest leader, issued a statement this afternoon, lauding President Obama. “[T]his isn’t just the right call, it’s the brave call,” McKibben said. “The knock on Barack Obama from many quarters has been that he’s too conciliatory. But here, in the face of a naked political threat from Big Oil to exact ‘huge political consequences,’ he’s stood up strong.”
Yes, Romney Could Lose, Ctd
He’s ascending rapidly in national polls, he’s thinking of skipping debates, his lead in Florida is prodigious … and yet. And yet. I sound like Jack Germond but I’ve been covering these elections my whole adult life, and have blogged three presidential elections on the Dish – and I’m still not completely sure it’s over.
We live in an economy where millions are unemployed, millions more over-worked and losing pay, and the gap between very, very rich and everyone else has widened to extremes not seen since the 1920s. The pain of economic dislocation is everywhere and only now are we finding some green shoots, as we enter the second year of slow recovery from the bottom. We also know that the key difference between Romney and Obama on the debt is that Romney wants to cut it by entitlement and discretionary spending cuts alone, while Obama would also include defense cuts and some tax increases on the very very rich.
I think Obama has a slam dunk on that argument. But Romney is an incredibly compromised person to make the case for exempting the very very rich from any sacrifices at all, while asking the poor and middle class to bear the entire burden.
He actually said yesterday that earning $360,000 a year from speeches is “not very much.” I repeat: he said that earning $360,000 a year is “not very much.” He has also said half-seriously earlier in the campaign that he was “unemployed” and had worried about pink slips in the past. At Bain Capital, Bill Bain gave him a guarantee that if he failed, he would be able to go back to his old job and get back pay raises he might have missed. As for being “unemployed,” we now know he earns around $26 million a year and pays 15 percent tax on it – under half what I pay on my own salary, since I’m in the top percentile. He makes impulsive bets of $10,000 on national TV.
What compensates for this massive problem in his image and record? His charm? His consistency? His relatability?
Mitt Romney Embraces Privatizing Medicare and Social Security and Raising Eligibility Ages
I’m waiting to see how Mitt Romney walks any of this back once the general election begins if he ends up winning the Republican presidential nomination because I don’t see how his statements tonight on Social Security and Medicare are going to help him with seniors later on, no matter how many times he reiterates that the cuts won’t affect current recipients or those over fifty five years of age. During this Monday night’s Republican debate Romney apparently thinks that seniors don’t care what happens to their children or grandchildren.
Romney was asked what he would do in regards to Social Security and Medicare and he started things out with one of the Republican zombie lies out there, that President Obama cut $500 billion from Medicare. Mother Jones has more on why that’s just not true here — Return of the Big GOP Medicare Lie.
He also fully endorsed raising the eligibility ages for both Social Security and Medicare, endorsed Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare, means testing which turns the programs into welfare programs and block-granting Medicaid back to the states. He also seemed to completely contradict himself within the time frame of a few minutes with his follow up a little later in the debate when he said “we simply can’t say we’re going to go out and borrow more money to let people set up new accounts to take money away from Social Security and Medicare today.” Just what does he think those “voluntary” accounts are going to do to future benefit recipients? It’s bad enough the man flip flops on every issue, he couldn’t even get his talking points straight within a sentence of each other.
Sadly the awful policies he was promoting here rather than raising taxes on the wealthy and raising the income cap on payroll taxes and curbing the cost of health insurance by moving to a single payer program are not anything that either interests or is supported by his fellow Republican primary contenders, or the hapless moderators asking the questions during the debate.
Romney’s Tax Trouble
Yesterday Romney admitted he pays around 15 percent in taxes:
Romney said that he gets “speaker’s fees from time to time, but not very much.” Not very much turns out to be over $360,000 in the last year. Allahpundit sighs:
I don’t understand how he isn’t more attuned to his own rhetoric when talking about wealth. He knows the left is going to demagogue him for it; in virtually every other aspect of the campaign, he’s exhaustively prepared and disciplined. His critics were unfair in knocking him for saying he likes being able to fire people, but he has to realize that talking about “firing” anyone, in whatever context, is going to get their attention as part of an attack on Bain’s layoffs. Same here: Obviously he was speaking relatively when he said he doesn’t earn “much” from speaking fees, but even in that context, the takeaway is, “How much must this guy earn that $360,000 a year qualifies as ‘not very much’?”
Suzy Khimm explains how Romney pays so little in taxes:
Ultimately, the private-equity tax loophole could become far more controversial than whether private-equity deals destroy or create jobs. Today, even the Wall Street Journal came out against the loophole, arguing that capital gains should benefit those actually receiving a return on an investment rather than labor. “It is difficult to defend the fact that private-equity and hedge-fund executives pay no more than 15% on their share of their partnership’s profits because it is considered a capital gain,” writes Francesco Guerrera, editor of the Journal’s Money & Investing section. “If it looks like income and smells like income, it should be taxed like income—at much higher rates.”
Greg Sargent expects the Democrats to hammer Romney over this taxes:
The bad economy is obviously a huge liability for Obama. But it remains possible that it is inflating the poll strength of opponents like Romney, because respondents are picking the alternative to Obama before getting to know him better, a state of affairs that could change once Romney’s record and biography are better understood by voters. It’s also possible that Romney’s potential weaknesses as a general election candidate are getting papered over by the far worse weaknesses of his GOP rivals. This is why conservatives like Erick Erickson predict that despite current perceptions, Romney will ultimately prove a “disastrous general election candidate.”
Presidents That Deserved Reelection
Wed Jan 18th, 2012 at 11:57:24 AM EST
As we begin to contemplate the prospect of a second term for President Obama, I think it is important to reflect back on all our post-war presidents. We’ll discover that the presidency isn’t an easy job and most of our presidents have been grotesque failures. In recent years, historians have been trying to rehabilitate Harry Truman’s performance in office, but he didn’t run for a second term in 1952 because he had gotten us mired in an unwinnable war in Korea and the people had turned decisively against him. JFK didn’t live to seek a second term. Lyndon Johnson didn’t seek a second term in 1968 because he had gotten us mired in an unwinnable war in Vietnam and the people had turned decisively against him. Richard Nixon won a second term but was forced to resign in disgrace. Jimmy Carter was pretty much a failure on every level and had to fight to even be renominated by the Democratic Party. Ronald Reagan’s second term was marred by scandal, a collapsed stock market, and senility. He staggered to the end. Poppy Bush involved us in another land war in Asia, which really only began to end this past month. He failed to win reelection mostly because the economy was bad at the wrong time. Bill Clinton won reelection, but his second term was mired in scandal and humiliation, culminating with his impeachment by a deranged House of Representatives. George W. Bush’s second term was the most shameful and disastrous we’ve seen since James Buchanan was in office.
That leaves Dwight Eisenhower as the only president in the post-war era to fill two terms in office without bringing ruinous change to the country and/or personal humiliation to themselves. It’s really a horrible record. We have had dreadful leadership in this country. And, yet, I can’t see Obama having to resign or being impeached or bringing us something like the Iran-Contra scandal. He’s more likely to end our land wars in Asia than to start new ones, although Iran remains a tricky trouble spot with the potential to complicate or even ruin Obama’s second term. As far as I am concerned, Obama brings the reforms of an LBJ without the drama, and the steadiness of Dwight Eisenhower without the cardboard flavor.
It’s easy to forget how good we have it. But I honestly don’t think we’ve had a president who truly deserved reelection since Eisenhower, and I probably would have voted for Stevenson. It’s so rare for us to have a president worthy of a second term that we probably should go out and make sure that he actually gets reelected.
January 18, 2012 1:55 PM
Romney’s tax rate is only half the problem
By Steve Benen
In the wake of his concession yesterday that he pays a lower tax rate than much of the American middle class, Mitt Romney has renewed discussion about his “15% problem.” As Alec MacGillis put it, “The country is going to spend much of the next year talking taxes. And leading one side of the debate is going to be a silver-templed exemplar of how inequitable the system has become. Again: is this really the man Republicans want for this moment?”
But as I’ve been arguing for a few weeks, it’s only half the problem.
To be sure, the fact that Romney, who amassed a vast fortune as head of a vulture-capitalist firm, is able to take advantage of tax loopholes to pay a lower rate is a political nightmare. In a debate over tax fairness and income inequality, Romney is practically a case study for What’s Gone Wrong.
But the second part of this is more forward-looking: what does Romney intend to do about the problem if he’s elected? As Greg Sargent reported today, citing a new analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice, Romney has no interest in correcting a wrong — rather, he intends to give himself an enormous tax cut.
Under his plan, Romney in 2013 would see his taxes cut by nearly half of what they would be if you use current law as a baseline.
Another way to put this: If Romney, whose wealth is estimated at as much as $250 million, is elected president and gets his way on tax policy, he would pay barely more than half as much in taxes than he would if Obama is reelected and gets his way — and the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy expire and an additional Medicare tax as part of the Affordable Care Act kicks in.
Robert McIntyre, the director of Citizens for Tax Justice, added, “This doesn’t even include Romney’s proposal to cut corporate taxes from 35 percent to 25 percent, which would primarily benefit wealthy shareholders like himself.”
One could argue that Romney’s “15% problem” isn’t really his fault. He’s taking advantage of a tax system that’s already badly flawed, but which he wasn’t responsible for creating. The Romney example helps make clear how unjust the status quo really is, and the fact that he’s hiding his tax returns only makes this worse, but it’s not fair to blame him for loopholes, shelters, and tax breaks he didn’t create.
But one should absolutely blame him choosing to ignore the problem and vowing to make it worse.
On a related note, the DNC released a new video overnight on coverage of Romney’s tax issue. It’s probably not what the Republican frontrunner was hoping for.
Carney:Obama to launch five state-three day swing post SOTU address.Cedar Rapids, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver and Detroit.
The Obama administration will likely announce its opposition to the controversial Keystone pipeline project as early as today, according to a Democratic source briefed on the matter.
Though House Speaker John Boehner’s office has not yet been informed of the White House decision, the speaker said today that, “This is not good for our country. The president wants to put this off until it’s convenient for him to make a decision. That means after the next election. The fact is the American people are asking the question right now, ‘Where are the jobs?'”
The proposed Keystone pipeline has been caught up in Washington politics since Republicans inserted a clause in the payroll tax cut extension negotiations last year to try to force an earlier decision on the project. The White House had tried to push the decision until 2013 after the coming presidential election.
The pipeline would run from northern Alberta, Canada, to the Texas Gulf Coast. Republicans a nd some unions support the project because of its job creation prospects. The administration points to environmental reviews still under way, and opponents express concerns about its furthering the nation’s dependency on oil.
Watch live coverage now on http://CNN.com/Live
January 18, 2012 10:25 AM
Christie burns Romney on hidden tax returns
By Steve Benen
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has arguably been Mitt Romney’s most trusted and highest-profile campaign surrogate. Talk of Christie possibly serving as the Republican frontrunner’s running mate has been extremely common.
It was remarkable, then, to hear the governor on NBC’s “Today” this morning, pressing Romney to release his tax returns.
For those who can’t watch clips online, here’s the exchange:
LAUER: You’re a full disclosure guy. You like it when politicians get out there and reveal their financial situations and their tax returns. Is mitt Romney missing the boat on this?
CHRISTIE: I don’t think he’s going to. I think he will release the taxes.
LAUER: Why wait?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, I think the most relevant information is the most recent information. He’s going to release when he files in April. You know, that’s going to be personally up to him. My practice has been all along is, I release my tax returns every year as soon as they are filed. And that would be my preference.
LAUER: The appearance here is you wait until April, the nomination would be secured by that time and you don’t have to worry about fallout in the primaries.
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, I think he already started to speak about it yesterday, about the rate he pays. What I would say to Governor Romney is: if you have tax returns to put out, um you know, you should put them out. You put them out sooner rather than later because it’s always better in my view to have complete disclosure, especially if you’re the frontrunner.
Christie also said something very similar on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” this morning.
This is what’s generally referred to as “off message.” Romney has said repeatedly that he does not intend to release these materials. As recently as a couple of weeks ago, the former governor said he’d “consider” releasing his tax returns “if I become president.” (In other words, after the election Romney might do what every other modern candidate has done before the election.)
And yet, here was Romney’s top surrogate arguing on national television that Romney should stop hiding his tax returns from the public. This is not at all what I expected.
On a related note, reader R.L. noted that Romney told reporters yesterday that “people will want to see the most recent year” of tax returns. He is, in other words, already trying to set a very low bar — Romney apparently intends to wait until after he’s the GOP nominee, then maybe release his returns for just a single year.
That won’t do. Barack Obama released nearly a decade’s worth of tax returns in 2008. When George Romney ran for president, he released 12 years of returns. Disclosure for one year won’t exactly meet any fair standard for transparency.
We’re talking about information the public deserves to know. Paul Krugman added this morning, “[A]re we sure that his tax rate is even as high as 15 percent? How much is shielded in tax havens? We need the returns.”
As of this morning, the pressure of Romney has been ratcheted it up considerably.
John McCain’s Entire 2008 Opposition Research File on Mitt Romney
BREAKING: The Obama administration will announce later today that it will reject the Keystone XL pipeline project..
Chaos In Carolina
The GOP’s Message to Black People: Who Needs Niggers!
As reported on ABC News, a couple of weeks ago, Republican Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich starked controversy when he said:
“And so I’m prepared if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”
ABC News also reported that Newt Gingrich repeatedly refers to the first African American President as the food stamp president:
“A portion of Gingrich’s usual speech given to crowds includes a line in which Gingrich says more people are on food stamps under President Obama than with any other president. ABC News fact checked Gingrich’s food stamp claims earlier this month, confirming that Americans on food stamps is at a record high, but mostly attributed to a weak economy.
“The fact is if I become your nominee we will make the key test very simple – food stamps versus paychecks. Obama is the best food stamp president in American history. More people are on food stamps today because of Obama’s policies than ever in history,” Gingrich said. “I would like to be the best paycheck president in American history.”
To top it all off, Newt Gingrich basically said that poor children, code for “poor black children”, are lazy and shiftless:
On Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Newt Gingrich spent time defending his racist statements during the Republican Presidential Debate in South Carolina. The crowd’s reaction was even more sickening than Gingrich’s statements.
The crowd applauded when Newt Gingrich justified his bigoted statements. The crowd booed FOX news analyst Juan Williams for having the audacity to question Gingrich about the statements. Unfortunately, the crowd’s response is a symptom of a larger problem.
The GOP = Modern Day Klan
Ellis: Texas unable to prove ID law won’t discriminate
A Texas state senator who opposed Voter ID legislation doubts the U.S. Justice Department can allow the law to take effect considering the state’s inability to prove it won’t harm minority voters.
Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade sent a report to the Justice Department last week in response to the agency’s request for data on how many minority registered voters lacked Texas driver’s licenses. But the data is hard to determine. Andrade emphasized in her letter the state’s “reservations about the reliability of that data.”
“This data does not provide an accurate picture of the racial makeup of registered voters or ID holders in Texas,” she wrote in the letter to the Justice Department.
The Justice Department needs to “turn the state of Texas down because either the state knew that the Voter ID restrictions would have a negative impact on minority voters – or, they didn’t care,” Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said.
Questions about the impact of the bill during Senate debate were routinely answered with assurances that the Secretary of State had the information, Ellis said, “giving us an impression that there was an answer and we would be pleased with the answer.”
People who give assurances like that need to back it up, Ellis said.
“I think the Justice Department will take a very deliberative approach and turn it down,” Ellis said. “The burden is on the state to prove it will not have a disparate impact on minority voters. If you say that it won’t have a disparate impact and you don’t have the data, I don’t see any way the Justice Department could approve of these voter suppression measures going into effect in Texas.”
The Justice Department has “60 days to make a determination,” agency spokesman Xochitl Hinojosa said Tuesday.
Ellis contends the Voter ID law passed in Texas and several other states was cooked up by “a right-wing think tank” as a way to suppress votes.
Arianna Huffington Unironically Criticizes Michelle Obama
Posted on January 17, 2012 by ABL | 35 Comments
Have a seat, dear. The “I’m a Progressive” jig is up.
Her Royal Highness Huffington, Queen of the Limousine Liberals — who has coyly been floating “I might vote Republican in 2012″ trial balloons – unironically offers her thoughts on Michelle Obama… as if anybody cares:
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (24:24): I’d love [Michelle] to be more [like] Eleanor Roosevelt right now, because the country needs an Eleanor Roosevelt who’s going to go around and at the same time that she’s doing fundraisers in Beverly Hills and Bel Air, she should go to South Central [Los Angeles], I mean, if I were Michelle Obama right now, I would not go anywhere for a fundraiser without going and seeing the places where there is pain, where there is struggle, where there is homelessness, where there is unemployment.
Shorter Arianna: Hello Black People? Michelle Obama thinks she’s too good for you. She’s dreadfully bougie, dahlink.
Shorter Black People: STFU.
Listen up. First, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative alone will do more for the black community than some poverty publicity tour (*ahem*) through South Central. Have you reviewed the statistics on obesity rates in the African-American community? No, of course you haven’t.
Second, shut up about South Central. I know why you said South Central; you know why you said South Central. Just shut up about it. Your feigned concern for the plight of the Negroes in South Central is fooling exactly no one. Just shut up about it.
Third, stop telling the first black FLOTUS that she needs to be like a white FLOTUS from sixty-five years ago. Just stop it.
Fourth, nobody asked you.
Fifth, when was the last time you spent time in the ‘hood? That’s what I thought.
Sixth, your Republican is hanging out and everyone can see it.
Seventh, Mary Matalin? Seriously? This Mary Matalin?
Eight, see my sixth point, above.
Have a seat, Arianna. We’re not buying what you’re selling.
Dear, Arianna Huffington
Seriously, Arianna, take your ZSA ZSA GABOR AZZ to South Central LA.
That’s the point, you wish you were Michelle Obama, or at least sitting your non-talking azz in the White House. GTFOH
There you go. On point! Arianna wishes she was sitting on that FLOTUS throne.
How insulting to tell a black Flotus to be someone other than herself. GTFOOH Arianna!
Wife Kills Husband’s Mistress: Shannon O’Roark Griffin Charged With Murdering Irina Puscariu
A former NASA specialist allegedly drove 250 miles to shoot and kill her husband’s mistress after he refused to end the extramarital affair.
Police say that Shannon O’Roark Griffin left a marriage counseling session in Kansas on Friday after her husband Roscoe Griffin revealed he was having an affair and refused to break off the romance, The Associated Press says. He told his wife that he wanted to get a divorce, police told The AP.
Later that afternoon, O’Roark Griffin, 52, arrived at the home near Kansas City, Mo. of psychiatrist 46-year-old Irina Puscariu, Griffin’s lover, and shot her in the face three times, KDAF says. Puscariu’s mother was home and witnessed the shooting, police said according to ABC.
However, it’s possible that the affair was already over by the time O’Roark Griffin showed up in Kansas City.
A retired Kansas City police officer who was friends with Puscariu told KCTV that she ended the relationship with Griffin, an Air Force colonel, when she learned he was married.
Officers from the Kansas HIghway Patrol caught O’Roark Griffin near Wichita, who admitted that she had two unloaded handguns in the car, WFAA reports.
O’Roark Griffin is being held in jail on $1 million bail for first-degree murder charges.
It’s The Unfairness, Stupid
Posted on 01/17/2012 at 6:45 pm by JM Ashby
Via Greg Sargent, The Washington Post released the results of their latest poll today and found that, by a wide margin, more people now consider inequality to be a bigger economic problem than big government regulation.
What do you think is the bigger problem in this country — unfairness in the economic system that favors the wealthy, or over-regulation of the free market that interferes with growth and prosperity?
Economic unfairness : 55
Market overregulation: 35
Is this a sign that President Obama and the Democratic Party is winning the message war as a whole? Possibly. I think it is.
The idea that regulations are the ultimate job killers in this country is a well-entrenched idea which has faced little to no challenge from the corporate media and has only been challenged on a regular basis by the Democratic party in more recent years. President Obama is also the first president in modern history to regularly reject the idea that government is the problem in nearly every speech he makes.
If the trend continues, and the economy continues to improve as all indicators seem to suggest it will, the Republicans won’t even have their used ideology of unchecked markets to run on.
That’s not to say they won’t run on it anyway, but it’s going to afford them less and less traction going forward.
January 17, 2012
All politics is national
Want to know how I read this?
[Nancy] Pelosi … noted a strategic distinction between the presidential and congressional contests.
“If you want to win the state state-wide, you go to the inner city, but our races are beyond the inner city. We understand that dynamic,” Pelosi said. “I was a state chair in California — I know if you want to win the state, you do one thing; if you want to win the Legislature, you do another.”
I read it with dismay, that’s how. That’s the short answer.
The somewhat longer answer is that I detect, once again, a Democratic resistance to nationalizing the election.
Last year, when House Republicans committed perhaps the most cretinous act in the history of American politics — dismantling and voucherizing Medicare — an immense wave of elucidation rippled across this great Republic: What House Republicans had actually committed was plain and simple suicide; while intoxicated on fermented tea leaves and their own ideological goof juice, these reactionary nincompoops careened right off the rails of consensus politics and alighted far, far away in the land of the hopelessly pixilated.
That’s it! the people rejoiced. They’ve kissed their own fanatical asses goodbye. Now all the Dems need do in 2012 is pound the GOP as the Medicare-killers they are. Republicans will not so much have lost in 2012 as they will have signed the election over.
But … read the above Pelosi quote again. It reeks of Democrats’ retention of one political saying and one saying only: All politics is local — which indeed was true enough, before all politics became national. Republicans demonstrated this new truism in 1994, again in 2002, and once again in 2010. Or perhaps I should say they expertly demonstrated the potential of the new truism — a potential the Democrats seem yet to fathom, busy as they are resting their heels on the old crackerbarrel and reassuring one another with knowing winks that politics, yessiree, is a doggone intricate business of localism.
That’s what they believed in 2010, too.
January 18, 2012 9:15 AM
By Steve Benen
Opponents of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) were expected to do well in their efforts to recall him. Few expected them to do this well.
Democrats seeking to recall Gov. Scott Walker filed more than a million signatures Tuesday, virtually guaranteeing a historic recall election against him later this year.
It would mark the first gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin history and only the third one in U.S. history. Organizers Tuesday also handed in 845,000 recall signatures against Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, as well as recall petitions against four GOP state senators, including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau.
The sheer number of signatures being filed against Walker — nearly as many as the total votes cast for the governor in November 2010 and about twice as many as those needed to trigger a recall election — ensure the election will be held, said officials with the state Democratic Party and United Wisconsin, the group that launched the Walker recall.
Keep in mind, the minimum number of signatures required was roughly 540,000. By collecting over 1 million signatures, Walker’s opponents have not only guaranteed a recall election, they’ve also demonstrated a level of organizational might that seemed almost impossible to pull off.
When Walker went after collective-bargaining rights — without campaigning on the issue — he apparently woke a sleeping giant.
There will be a review process to ensure the integrity of the signatures, but state Democratic Party officials said they already removed “an undisclosed number of signatures that were duplicates, illegible or seemingly fake.” With such an enormous buffer, no one on either side seriously doubts Dems will have more than enough.
There is, however, still plenty of work for the governor’s opponents to do. For one thing, they don’t have a candidate. For another, Walker is already raising an enormous amount of money.
Indeed, the Republican governor appears eager to nationalize the recall process. Walker said yesterday he was “too busy” to do interviews with reporters from Wisconsin, but he managed to find time to talk to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. The point wasn’t subtle — the governor hopes far-right activists nationwide will rally behind him by, at a minimum, offering financial support.
The schedule for the recall election will be set once the signatures have been reviewed. It’s going to be a wild one.
Reacting to Sullivan’s Newsweek Cover Story
Posted on 01/18/2012 at 7:03 am by Bob Cesca
Megyn Kelly and Fox News are seriously bent out of shape by Andrew Sullivan’s cover story in Newsweek.
And this Breitbart counterpoint is fantastic example of right-wing epistemic closure and the apocalyptic fantasies circulating within it.
Regarding the general defense of the president, I’d like to add that it’s not a bad thing that some of us know how to mix applause into our discourse instead of exclusively jeering and snarking — especially because there are significant things to applause.
Eventually all of the rancor and screeching becomes white noise and if we never express satisfaction, why should anyone endeavor to please our agenda? A fantastic example of a measured cheer/jeer posture is Rachel Maddow. She can be both critical of the president and applaud him when something positive happens. I don’t thin anyone would paint her as an apologist or an enabler.
TV One’s ‘Find Our Missing’ takes on the mysteries that didn’t get the headlines
By Hank Stuever, Published: January 17
“Find Our Missing,” a handsomely produced 10-part docu-series about unsolved cases, premieres Wednesday night on TV One, and it is not nearly outspoken enough about its cause: It’s a show about cases of black people who vanished suspiciously and who, for reasons that should probably embarrass producers at local and national news operations, never got the same amount of media attention as their white counterparts.
This discrepancy has been pointed out many times over the years by minority groups that track media coverage. Most watchers of TV news (and readers of newspapers and online news sites) have probably noticed it, too, if perhaps only subliminally. Missing white women just get more press, often to an extreme, as do missing white children — especially cherubic toddlers from sunny states.
According to TV One (a cable network focused on programming for black adults), blacks make up nearly a third of the nation’s missing-person cases, a number demographically out of proportion.
But “Find Our Missing’s” main mission isn’t media criticism or a social harangue — especially since the first two cases seen here received a considerable, if belated, amount of local coverage. Rather, in the manner of “America’s Most Wanted,” it encourages viewers to come forward with useful information. Everything you need to know about “Find Our Missing” is in that second word: our. The series keeps its outrage just out of view; its foremost concern is for the missing, as well as their friends and relatives.
Hosted by “Law & Order” alum S. Epatha Merkerson, “Find Our Missing’s” first case should be familiar to Washington Post readers: It follows the February 2009 disappearance of Pamela Butler, a 47-year-old federal employee who was last seen in her Brightwood home in Northeast Washington. (The segment features interviews with Post crime reporter Paul Duggan; a future episode will focus on the case of Unique Harris, whose 2010 disappearance was written about in a Style section article by Monica Hesse.)
McCain’s Anti-Romney Dump
Wed Jan 18th, 2012 at 12:12:50 AM EST
I’d love to know the back story on how John McCain’s entire opposition research file on Mitt Romney wound up on the internet. I’ve only read the biographical details and some of the issues-oriented stuff. I’m impressed that Romney was valedictorian of his class at Brigham Young University. It’s also impressive that he was able to complete a dual program at Harvard that gave him a law degree and a Masters of Business Administration at the same time. He’s obviously very smart and very driven. One thing I noticed is that he really hasn’t worked all that much, and he didn’t have to work very long to get to the top. He came right out of college and landed a very nice consulting gig. And just three years later he was promoted to vice-president. He obviously comes from a very prominent Mormon family, but there’s no evidence that he didn’t rise on merit.
He’d only been in the work force for ten years when he was made managing general partner of Bain & Co. That’s an incredibly swift path to the top. And then he made a lot of money over the next fifteen years, to the point that the only work he’s really done since was for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. By all accounts, he did an excellent job for the Olympics. but that’s the last private sector job he held. He served one term as governor of Massachusetts and proved to be pretty unpopular. Since 1999, he’s been living off the fortune he made at Bain & Co.
There’s a ton of stuff in the file that demonstrates that Romney has no political soul. He’s been moving inexorably rightward as the Republican Party has gone off the rails. And we’re going to use all of that stuff to criticize Romney during this presidential election. But what I found interesting was what I’ve mentioned. On one hand, he’s smart and driven and accomplished. On the other, he really has had a remarkably easy life. His life has been almost criminally easy. He worked from 1975-1999, from the age of 28 to the age of 52. For all but three of those years, he served in the highest reaches of upper management. This guy has no clue what most people go through, and it shows.
His record of singular accomplishment compares with the president’s. But he has no lodestar. What he says means nothing. All we have is a man with boundless ambition but nothing for the rest of us. We have a man of talent, but one who never had to overcome anything. I’m not saying that everything was handed to him. He worked hard and was successful. But he was the kind of guy who was born on third base and thought he hit a triple. And his policies are all aimed at making him richer while we all get to have austerity.
I think Barack Obama’s personal biography offers a lot more hope for the average person. You can be born in the stands and wind up managing the team. And when that happens, the manager has a lot more respect for the struggles we all go through.
January 18, 2012 8:40 AM
When polished meets clumsy
By Steve Benen
When compared against his Republican rivals, Mitt Romney is extremely slick. After nearly 18 years as a politician, and more than five years as a near-constant presidential candidate, the former governor is clearly smoother and better prepared than his GOP opponents.
But that only tells us that he’s clearing a low bar.
Yesterday, Romney said making over $374,000 in speaking fees is “not very much” money. It was a dumb slip-up that his critics were only too eager to promote. It followed Romney suggesting elected office is only for the rich, clumsily talking about his fondness for being able to fire people, demanding that talk of economic justice be limited to “quiet rooms,” accusing those who care about income inequality of “envy,” daring Rick Perry to accept a $10,000 bet, joking about being “unemployed,” and arguing that those who slip into poverty are still middle class.
The point is not to recount the gaffes, so much as it’s to highlight Romney’s stylistic problem: for all of the guy’s polish as a slick candidate, Romney is still clumsy and gaffe-prone when he speaks his mind. As Jon Chait put it yesterday, the Republican frontrunner “has come to be defined, through a recurring series of off-the-cuff gaffes, as a callous, out-of-touch rich man.”
He has done the work of an opposition researcher on himself…. [T]he total self-portrait Romney has helped craft is utterly devastating: the scion of a wealthy executive, who helped create, and benefited from, revolutions in both the market economy and in public policy in the last three decades that favored the rich over the middle class, and who appears blithe about the gap between his privilege and the lot of most Americans.
As I’ve said before, Romney has been positively associated with “electability” because he is more electable than most of his rivals. But he is the one-eyed man in the land of the politically blind. Romney, by normal standards, is a terrible candidate. He is nowhere near as formidable as John McCain was four years before. The latest poll from PPP has his favorability rating at a miserable 35 percent positive, 53 percent negative. He may win – he probably will win if the economy dips back into recession – but he is a weak candidate who in many ways embodies the public’s distrust of his party.
I often wonder what the race for the Republican nomination would look like this year if Romney had just one credible opponent. I have a hunch his routine rhetorical missteps would be far more damaging.
Cummings Accuses Issa Of Protecting Republicans Caught In Countrywide VIP Loan Program
Ryan J. Reilly- January 18, 2012, 5:32 AM
Back in early 2011, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) issued his first subpoena for information about members of Congress who received sweetheart mortgage deals under the Countrywide VIP program called “Friends of Angelo.” By doing so he abandoned the historical practice of referring matters involving members of Congress directly to the House Ethics Committee, an approach he previously criticized, and instead made it clear he wanted his committee to probe the members’ files.
“The American people have a right to know the totality of who participated in the Countrywide’s VIP program and what they did in return for access to it,” Issa said. The role of the Oversight Committee, Issa said, was “to get all of the facts so that the American people can judge for themselves who should be held responsible and accountable.”
Fast forward to the 16th of last month, when Issa wrote a letter to the House Ethics Committee giving them information on “possible wrongdoing” without publicly disclosing the names of four additional members of Congress who received the preferential loans.
Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) suggested in a letter he wrote to Issa on Tuesday that it was the political affiliation of the members.
“Although two previous Chairmen of the Oversight Committee followed the longstanding practice of referring matters involving Members of Congress directly to the Ethics Committee, you abandoned this practice last February when you issued a unilateral subpoena — your first as Chairman — demanding to see these Member files yourself,” Cummings wrote. “The documents produced in response to your subpoena reveal four previously undisclosed instances in which Members of Congress received Countrywide VIP loans. All four intances involve Republican Members, including three current Republican House Members and one former Republican House Member.”
Reps. Buck McKeon (R), Elton Gallegly (R) and Pete Sessions (R) received the previously undisclosed loans, representatives have acknowledged to various publications, while the remaining individual is unknown. The website of the National Republican Congressional Committee, headed by Sessions, seemed to have been scrubbed of previous references to Countrywide on Tuesday evening.
Issa’s office said the issues raised by Cummings would not distract the Oversight Committee from its ongoing probe.
“The Oversight Committee continues to press forward with its now more than three-year long probe of the Countrywide VIP program,” Issa spokesman Frederick R. Hill said in a statement to TPM. “Even as the investigation yields new developments, numerous questions about the VIP program remain unanswered. Critics of the investigation have not and will not deter Chairman Issa’s commitment to exposing what occurred.”
Monday, January 16, 2012
Sullivan’s version of “conciliatory rhetoric as ruthless strategy”
Andrew Sullivan’s cover story in Newsweek magazine is getting a lot of reaction and commentary today. Of course, he’s mostly saying things that those of us in the pragmatic progressive blogosphere have been saying all along.
Anyone who has been reading here for awhile knows that one of my constant themes has been to talk about President Obama’s conciliatory rhetoric as ruthless strategy. And so for me, the part of Sullivan’s article that stood out was this:
And what have we seen? A recurring pattern. To use the terms Obama first employed in his inaugural address: the president begins by extending a hand to his opponents; when they respond by raising a fist, he demonstrates that they are the source of the problem; then, finally, he moves to his preferred position of moderate liberalism and fights for it without being effectively tarred as an ideologue or a divider. This kind of strategy takes time. And it means there are long stretches when Obama seems incapable of defending himself, or willing to let others to define him, or simply weak. I remember those stretches during the campaign against Hillary Clinton. I also remember whose strategy won out in the end.
Mark Schmitt gets credit for nailing it way back in September 2007 when discussing Obama’s theory of change.
The reason the conservative power structure has been so dangerous, and is especially dangerous in opposition, is that it can operate almost entirely on bad faith. It thrives on protest, complaint, fear: higher taxes, you won’t be able to choose your doctor, liberals coddle terrorists, etc. One way to deal with that kind of bad-faith opposition is to draw the person in, treat them as if they were operating in good faith, and draw them into a conversation about how they actually would solve the problem. If they have nothing, it shows. And that’s not a tactic of bipartisan Washington idealists — it’s a hard-nosed tactic of community organizers, who are acutely aware of power and conflict.
He sums it up this way:
This apparent paradox is one reason Obama’s political identity has eluded easy definition. On the one hand, you have a disciple of the radical community organizer Saul Alinsky turned ruthless Chicago politician. On the other hand, there is the conciliatory post-partisan idealist. The mistake here is in thinking of these two notions as opposing poles. In reality it’s all the same thing. Obama’s defining political trait is the belief that conciliatory rhetoric is a ruthless strategy.
Teen leaves infant at firehouse: ‘She was overwhelmed’
By Carlos Sadovi
7:26 p.m. CST, January 16, 2012
Chicago Fire Lt. Ed Stutz had just started his shift at Engine 107 on the West Side Monday morning when he looked out a window and saw a young woman clutching a baby.
He heard a light tap on the door of the station. The woman was standing there and seemed upset. Stutz and firefighter Ryan Rivera took her into the station, where she handed the baby, tightly bundled in a brown winter suit, to the firefighters.
“She said she couldn’t handle it anymore and that it was too much for her,” Stutz said.
The woman told Stutz and Rivera she was 19 and wanted someone to take care of her child, a boy she said was 6 months old. After about 15 minutes, she left the station as an ambulance took her son to a hospital for a checkup.
“I asked her a few times, are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Stutz said. “She seemed to know what she was doing. It was a conscious decision.”
Stutz said he couldn’t help thinking about his own family, his wife with his children when they were infants. “That must be the last thing she would have been doing, giving up the baby,” he said. “But we don’t know the circumstances.”
All Chicago firefighters are trained in the state’s Safe Haven law, which allows parents to drop off infants less than 30-days-old at police stations, firehouses and hospitals without questions.
This child was older, but police said that the woman wouldn’t necessarily be charged with a crime for abandoning her baby. If she is found, police will work with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, looking into her background to try to find why she left the infant at the station.
“You really have to see, is there any purpose in arresting her?” a police source familiar with the case said.
Stutz and Rivera said the woman had a baby bag with her and that the baby appeared healthy and well cared for – doctors at Stroger Hospital later found him to be in excellent condition, police said.
“It wasn’t as though she was ready to go just drop the baby off and go,” Rivera said. “Obviously a lot of preparation went into this. It must of been tough for her to come tell us this.”
The woman did not give her name, and at first wouldn’t give the baby’s name. She later told paramedics the boy’s first name, which officials were not releasing.
Stutz said the woman spoke with him and Rivera for about 15 minutes as Rivera held the baby. She kept looking down and did not seem like she was ready to leave the station, in the 1100 block of South California Avenue, said Rivera.
“She was overwhelmed, she had tears in her eyes,” Stutz said.
The firefighters said they didn’t bring up the restrictions under the Safe Haven law because they didn’t want to scare her away.
Leaving her baby with firefighters is “a lot better than other alternatives,” Stutz said. “We’re happy about that.”
How Weak Is Romney?
Very, according to Chait:
Romney has been positively associated with “electability” because he is more electable than most of his rivals. But he is the one-eyed man in the land of the politically blind. Romney, by normal standards, is a terrible candidate. He is nowhere near as formidable as John McCain was four years before. … He may win – he probably will win if the economy dips back into recession – but he is a weak candidate who in many ways embodies the public’s distrust of his party.
PPP’s latest backs up Chait:
It’s not as if Obama’s suddenly become popular. He remains under water with 47% of voters approving of him to 50% who disapprove. But Romney’s even less popular, with only 35% rating him favorably while 53% have a negative opinion of him. Over the last month Romney’s seen his negatives with independents rise from 46% to 54%, suggesting that the things he has to say and do to win the Republican nomination aren’t necessarily helping him for the general. Obama’s turned what was a 45-36 deficit with independents a month ago into a 51-41 advantage.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Fixing The Doc Fix
Posted by Zandar
I’ve often said that America could afford a lot of things if we didn’t have to spend money cleaning up Dubya’s messy wars in the Middle East. But now that the current President is winding these wars down, Republicans are opposed to using those savings to fix our economy, of course.
Over the last few months there’s been serious talk in Congress of buying out the “doc fix” issue once and for all with war savings from troop withdrawals in Iraq and Afghanistan, estimated at over half a trillion dollars.
The idea has been championed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and multiple other key senators including John Kerry (D-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Tom Harkin (D-IA).
But even though this plan could remove for free the $300-billion-and-growing albatross from the nation’s neck, it faces fierce resistance from House Republicans. In fact, some of the vocal opponents are doctors in the caucus, whom Leadership tends to give the first bite at the apple on health issues.
That’s largely because House Republicans view the necessity of finding doc fix pay-fors as leverage to cut government spending.
“I absolutely would not be in favor of offsetting Overseas Contingency Operations money [for a doc fix] when it was going to end anyway,” said Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), a physician, when I asked him about the idea.
“That is funny money. That spending was going to go away anyway. That does not reduce the size of government,” Gingrey explained. “So you grow it on the one hand and then you rob Peter to pay Paul but Peter doesn’t have any money. It’s just a Ponzi scheme and the American people are sick of that.”
Got that? It was vital national security when it was Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a Ponzi scheme if you use the money to fix Medicare. Republicans don’t want to permanently repair the Medicare “doc fix” reimbursement problem, they want to beat Democrats over the head with it and use it as a hostage card to get more spending cuts and tax cuts for the rich.
Fixing Medicare doesn’t actually matter to the GOP. Losing a potential hostage does, however. Small wonder that Congress’s approval rating in the latest ABC/Washington Post poll is down to 13%, a new 40-year low.
One side wants to fix America. The other side is willing to destroy as much of it as necessary in order to regain total power. Go figure.
January 18, 2012 8:00 AM
The state of play for SOPA, PIPA
By Steve Benen
The tech industry and free speech advocates have been desperately trying to generate interest in their fight against misguided efforts to combat online privacy. As of this morning, their efforts appear to be paying off in a big way.
At issue are two related bills: the Senate’s Protect IP Act and the even more offensive Stop Online Piracy Act in the House, which enjoy Hollywood support, but which also threaten to stifle innovation, suppress free speech, and in some cases, even undermine national security.
To help drive home the degree to which the industry takes this seriously, a variety of tech giants are launching a coordinated protest today, including a 24-hour shutdown of Wikipedia. If SOPA’s opponents wanted Americans’ attention, they’ve got it — this is literally front-page news everywhere today.
The next question, of course, is whether SOPA is actually going anywhere. As we discussed over the weekend, sponsors of the House and Senate bills ran into fierce and unexpected opposition, largely derailing their legislative plans. The White House didn’t issue a veto threat, per se, but the administration’s chief technology officials concluded, “We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.” The statement added that any proposed legislation “must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet.” The White House’s position left SOPA and PIPA, at least in their current form, effectively dead.
The news for proponents of the bills wasn’t much better on the other end of Capitol Hill. House Republican leaders signaled that SOPA probably won’t even reach the floor for a vote and would have to undergo significant changes before it proceeds.
And yet, some are forging ahead anyway.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) vowed to push forward with his controversial anti-piracy bill on Tuesday as popular websites prepared to go dark in protest. […]
Smith dismissed Wikipedia’s blackout as a “publicity stunt” and said his committee would continue the markup of SOPA in February.
Markup or no markup, if House GOP leaders don’t intend to bring the bill to the floor, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) the bill isn’t moving, Smith is just spinning his wheels. For that matter, a committee push in February only gives opponents more time to rally against it, and over the last several weeks, SOPA critics are the ones with all the momentum.
The state of play in the Senate is a little different — a PIPA vote is likely next Tuesday — but even in the upper chamber, the bill is quickly losing friends. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) announced his opposition yesterday, and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a former co-sponsor of PIPA, is also now against it.
Politico characterized the bills as being “on life support,” with passage “in serious doubt.” There’s talk of trying to improve the legislation to satisfy critics’ concerns, but Politico added that both sides are “pessimistic that there will be a palatable compromise any time soon.”
did anyone else see Joy Reid on the Ed Show last night?
they were talking about the GOP, and it got around to Ron Paul and his latest batch of racist letters and Reid was so on point when she asked LIBERALS what the fuck else do you need to read from Ron Paul to know that he’s not the hero you make him out to be?
it was a really good clip all the way around.
Chris Matthews: Let Me Finish
Food Stamp President = Nigger!
Perry prays for Obama at SC Christian gathering
..GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry is taking a pause from partisan campaigning in South Carolina to pray for President Barack Obama’s safety and wisdom.
Perry spoke Tuesday night at a large prayer gathering called “The Response” in Greenville, S.C. He made no direct mention of the GOP presidential contest or of Saturday’s primary during his 10 minutes on stage.
Perry led a prayer in which he asked God to grant safety to “our president” and his family. He also said that “we pray that you light his way” in dealing with national issues.
Perry walked on stage without being introduced. Some in the audience seemed surprised to see him although his campaign had announced his plans earlier.
Perry led a huge rally last year in Houston to pray for America.
Ed Henry Would Like To See Obama’s College Transcripts, For Some Reason
With Romney’s GOP rivals now loudly calling for him to release his tax returns, the logical push-back against President Barack Obama is for the White House to finally release his long-form birth certificate. What’s that? he already did that? And he’s even making jokes about it to Betty White? That’s right, it must have slipped my mind.
So, uhm…how about college transcripts? Yeah, we’ll go with college transcripts, which Ed Henry brought up at today’s White House press briefing with Jay Carney:
HENRY: I don’t know how many years, maybe you do, George Romney released of his college transcripts, but Republicans like to complain that the president has not released his college transcripts. What is the stated reason for that?
CARNEY: I would refer you to the campaign…I think we’ve answered this a bunch. The tradition of releasing income tax records for serious potential nominees, and nominees of the two parties is well established. It’s not a law. But it’s well established. It’s one this president abided by when he was a senator. It’s one numerous Republicans and Democrats have abided by and we think it’s a good idea.
I think we’re past the point where it’s unreasonable to consider a candidate’s college transcripts out of bounds. Rick Perry’s grades gave good chortle, so I don’t begrudge anyone the chance to experience the mirth that comes from the college records of any of the other candidates. (I got a “C” in child psychology myself — by all means, point and laugh!) But it’s something of an apples-and-oranges comparison: we’re not going to learn about any potential conflicts of interest by looking at Obama’s grade in Freshman Comp.
That said, “I would refer you to the campaign” is kind of silly! I guess this means that the White House isn’t planning some big news conference reveal, like they did with the birth certificate.
Ed Henry can go ________ himself!
I’ll literallly say it this morning…
CHECKMATE! Ed ASK ROMNEY WHERE IS HIS TAX RETURNS, CaC.
Good MOrning, Everyone :)
SG2, the windchill is at ZERO here…
will you please give me a heap of that delicious coffee this morning?
Good Morning, rikyrah & Everyone! Happy HUMP day.
Stay warem, rikyrah
Coffee’s on the house; drink up! http://ak1.ostkcdn.com/img/mxc/090812_coffee_pot.jpg
Lawdy Lawdy…the windchill is at 0?
We’ll keep the coffee pot on today. You and Peanut keep warm up there.