Monday Open Thread

Al Wilson (June 19, 1939 – April 21, 2008)[1] was an American soul singer best known for the million-selling #1 hit, “Show and Tell“. He is also remembered for his Northern soul anthem, “The Snake”.

Allen LaMar Wilson was born in Meridian, Mississippi.[1] He showed little interest in education but performed in school plays, sang in talent shows and won first prize in a local art contest. Wilson began his career at the age of twelve leading his own spiritual quartet and singing in the church choir, and performing covers of country and western hits. While he was in high school, Wilson and his family relocated to San Bernardino, California,[2] where he worked odd jobs as a mail carrier, a janitor, and an office clerk, in addition to teaching himself to play drums. After graduation he spent four years touring with Johnny Harris and the Statesmen, before joining the U.S. Navy, and singing with an enlisted men’s chorus.[1] He also developed his stand-up comedy routine in case he did not succeed as a singer.

About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
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74 Responses to Monday Open Thread

  1. Hey guys, I can’t tweet anything right now. Something has gone wrong with Twitter. I did find this message in @support. Hopefully it will be fixed soon.

    Internet Explorer 7 & 8 is breaking the Tweet button for some users on Our engineers are investigating the issue.

  2. rikyrah says:

    Keep Your Eye On The Ball: 2012 Will Be A Long Fight To Reelect Obama
    February 13, 2012
    By blackliberalboomer

    Just so long as we don’t forget this is gonna be a fight.

    Day by day, it’s true, things are looking better and better for the re-election of President Barack Obama. The condition of the economy, which has served as the biggest gun in the Republican anti-Obama arsenal (aside from his race), now appears to be on course for a steady, solid recovery. Nobody likes the leading Republican candidate except for his wife and kids, and that may be just a rumor. The other Republican candidates have provided the best free clown show anyone could ask for. Matter of fact, if they compiled a disc of the Republican candidates’ Biggest Hits and put it up for sale, I’m betting they could raise more money than with the Super Pacs. I’m just offering that as a suggestion, because I’m all about extending a helping hand to the downtrodden, which right about now appears to be the Republicans.

    Except maybe not quite so fast

    Because this is not 2008. Lest we forget, the Republicans have been plenty busy since Obama became president in 2008, and a large part of what has been occupying their time has been rigging the election of 2012. Determined that Obama cannot be allowed to return to office no matter what the cost of defeating him might be, Republicans have been busy setting the stage – or preparing to blow up the stage – using two key explosives; voter disenfranchisement and SuperPACs. According to the Brennan Center for Justice:

    3.2 million voters could be hampered from voting due to the new photo id laws in certain states
    As many as 240,000 voters could be deterred by laws requiring proof of citizenship
    Between one and two million voters could lose out on chances to vote due to new laws that shorten early voting periods

    Realizing what a key part non-white folks and young folks played in Obama’s victory, especially those thousands upon thousands who had not previously been registered voters, the Republicans have made significant inroads in a number of states passing laws making it much more difficult not only to register to vote, but also to make it more inconvenient and more of a hassle proving you’re eligible to vote once you show up at the polls. That, in a nutshell, is the disenfranchisement part of it. The Super PACs now weigh in, thanks to the disastrous Citizens United decision of the United States Supreme Court in 2010, by placing the iron thumb of corporate wealth on the campaign donations scale, effectively throwing any resemblance of fairness in the electoral system overboard and offering corporations their best opportunity yet to band together and purchase a presidency. Which is why Obama is now being forced to backtrack his opposition to Super PACs and take the politically risky but financially essential and realistic decision to support a Super PAC for Democrats.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Obama’s Contraception Trap For The GOP

    I’d like to respond in part to Joe Scarborough on Meet The Press over his interpretation of my new Newsweek cover-story on the politics of contraception and religious freedom. I didn’t say this last week of political frenzy was an advance elaborate trap by Obama, set months in advance. In fact, as we know, if anything, it was a trap set by the increasingly political Catholic Bishops to wage war on this president. Over to Joe Morning:

    Here’s the paragraph Joe, I think, misreads a bit:

    The more Machiavellian observer might even suspect this is actually an improved bait and switch by Obama to more firmly identify the religious right with opposition to contraception, its weakest issue by far, and to shore up support among independent women and his more liberal base. I’ve found by observing this president closely for years that what often seem like short-term tactical blunders turn out in the long run to be strategically shrewd. And if this was a trap, the religious right walked right into it.

    I’m talking about the quick compromise, not the original decision. But I do think that defending free contraception for all women, as already mandated by the EEOC in 2000 (which the Bush administration did nothing to change) is a winner for Obama in the long run, especially since the Bishops, after an initially restrained response, have now fused themselves with Mitch McConnell, as pure allies of the Republican right. In fact, some in the GOP want contraception banned in any healthcare plan offered even by secular corporations who happen to be run by orthodox Catholics:

    Behind Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), some Republicans want not only to repeal the mandate on faith-based non-profits, but to extend waivers to any group or person who objects to the coverage requirements for either religious or moral reasons.

    The Bishops fail to see any difference. They want contraception, practised by 98 percent of Catholic women, and critical to preventing higher rates of abortion, kept out of any healthcare plan an employer decides.

    Let them try. Most, I believe, will see the Obama compromise as a sane if difficult one. Finding a way to ensure all women get contraception in line with the 2000 EEOC ruling and existing laws in many states, including New York and California, while keeping the Church hierarchy from any contact with implementation or direct payment for something they object to is exactly what we elected this president for.

    If you have the time, read the piece. The thing I find most politically damaging for the GOP is the oxygen and funding this will give Santorum:

    Obama’s greatest skill is in getting his opponents to overreach and self-destruct. And this issue could not be more tailor-made to benefit the candidate with real potential pull with far-right-wing Catholics and evangelicals: Santorum. If the GOP really makes this issue central in the next month or so, Santorum (whose campaign claims to have raised $2.2 million in the two days following his victories last week) is by far the likeliest candidate to benefit. It could finally unite the Christian fundamentalist right behind him—especially since Romneycare contained exactly the same provisions on contraception that Obamacare did before last week’s compromise was announced.

    That’s right: Romneycare can now accurately be portrayed as falling to the left of Obamacare on the contraception issue. This could very well be the issue that finally galvanizes the religious right, especially in the South. Imagine how Santorum could use that on Super Tuesday. In fact, it could be the issue that wins him the nomination. And do you really think that would hurt Obama in the fall?

    Meep, meep.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Rick Santorum, Christianist Frontrunner?

    Santorum has almost caught Romney in the national poll of polls:

    PPP’s poll from over the weekend puts Santorum ahead 38 to 23:

    Part of the reason for Santorum’s surge is his own high level of popularity. 64% of voters see him favorably to only 22% with a negative one. But the other, and maybe more important, reason is that Republicans are significantly souring on both Romney and Gingrich. Romney’s favorability is barely above water at 44/43, representing a 23 point net decline from our December national poll when he was +24 (55/31). Gingrich has fallen even further. A 44% plurality of GOP voters now hold a negative opinion of him to only 42% with a positive one. That’s a 34 point drop from 2 months ago when he was at +32 (60/28).

    Mataconis is skeptical of PPP. Jesse Singal wonders how effective Romney’s inevitable attacks on Santorum will be:

    [A] lot of the old Santorum stuff about to get churned up, the most infamous of it his comparison of homosexuality to bestiality, is unlikely to bother conservative voters all that much. His views on social issues could make him a semi-poisonous general-election candidate, but in a primary — particularly a primary currently starring Romney? Less so.

    Pete Spiliakos, who likes Santorum quite a bit, worries about his chances in the general election

    Take the whole women in combat thing. His point about group dynamics isn’t crazy, but he is just off. He just isn’t quick enough or disciplined enough to deflect these kinds of questions or make his point in an unalienating way. I don’t think the women in combat thing hurts him, but it is a warning. If Santorum is somehow the Republican nominee, he is going to get suckered into these kinds of culture war fights every couple of weeks. And this is Santorum being good. He isn’t that bright, he isn’t that articulate, and he can’t be fixed.


    He is easily the politician most hostile to individual liberty on the right. He believes states have every right to ban contraception, all abortion, and any legal protections for gay couples. He disavows any secular, Enlightenent view of America’s founding. For him, freedom only counts if you adhere to the current fundamentalist rigidity of the Benedict XVI church. I’ve cited this before, but here he is on freedom:

    This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone. That there is no such society that I am aware of, where we’ve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.

    Notice he explicitly cites the bedroom as the place where big government can intervene. If you are not reproducing as the Vatican demands, legal penalties are in principle possible. There is no public-private distinction. His mentor, Robbie George, takes the view that in principle, the state also has the right to penalize masturbation with criminal penalties, a position flushed out of him in the Prop 2 trial in Colorado. The only reason the two would not actively prosecute gay couples for having sex or straight couples for using condoms is for prudential reasons: it’s not practical. But in theory, they’d have the Catholic church’s most reactionary elements dictating your freedoms.

    If you believe in individual freedom, this country has no greater opponent than Rick Santorum. And for three years, the GOP has tried to tell us that the Tea Party was about extending freedom and ending debt rather than extending the power of Christianist Big Government. We know better now.

  5. rikyrah says:

    February 13, 2012 2:19 PM
    The Crux of the Matter in Michigan
    By Ed Kilgore

    The new PPP numbers from Michigan reinforce the phenomenon I discussed earlier today: Rick Santorum is harvesting momentum from a great Tuesday night and some mutually assured destruction between Romney and Gingrich to move well ahead in state thought to be a stronghold for Mitt. But Republican elites are certain to be privately beside themselves at the thought of a guy like Ricky—who sometimes seems as determined to repeal the Second Vatican Council as the New Deal—going up against Barack Obama.

    In MI, as nationally, PPP finds Gingrich’s favorability ratios cratering (at 38/47) and Romney’s foundering (at 49/39, a vast deterioration in this state from earlier readings), even as Santorum’s stay all clean and starchy (at 67/23). As Tom Jensen’s analysis aptly notes:

    This situation is reminiscent of what happened in Florida right after Newt Gingrich’s big win in South Carolina- he took the lead then quickly lost it in a big way after coming under attack by Romney.

    But there’s the rub: will Mitt be willing to go after Ricky the way he did Newt in Florida, at the risk of boosting his own rising negatives? And will the conservative opinion-leaders who were his avid allies in the destruction of Gingrich join in again (very unlikely) or even look aside?

    You have to figure the prevailing sentiment in elite GOP circles is that they’d love to see Ricky succumb to foul play, but don’t want their own, or even Mitt’s, fingerprints on the weapon. But there’s not a lot of time for dithering or scruples or wishing and hoping Ricky does himself in: a double Santorum win in MI and AZ on February 28 would be a serious problem for Romney, and for the party. I’m not privy to the internal councils of Republicans, but it’s likely they are waking up to this reality, and will ultimately either unleash Mitt to go hog-wild-negative, or push enough money in his direction to saturate media in these two states with enough positive propaganda to nominate the Infernal Prince of Darkness himself (so long as he promised to cut taxes, bash unions and oppose legalized abortion).

  6. rikyrah says:

    Can Romney Destroy Santorum?

    Maybe not:

    Mr Santorum’s surge provides a distinct problem for Mr Romney, who hasn’t been able to cement his position as front-runner. Whereas Newt Gingrich left himself open to attacks from the right, on his ties to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and attacks on his character, due to his resignation from Congress and his chequered marital history, Mr Santorum provides few such targets.

    The squeaky-clean former senator is most vulnerable to attacks from the left, on contraception, homosexuality, the role of women in society, the role of science in government, etc. But Mr Romney cannot approach Mr Santorum from this angle, lest he reinforce the view that he is a conservative of convenience, that he is “a vaporous and shifting mirage”, as David Remnick calls him. So thus far his attacks have been lame. As National Review notes, “Does anyone believe that Romney truly thinks poorly of Santorum’s votes to raise the debt ceiling?”

    Along the same lines, Ed Kilgore asks whether Romney is willing to “go after Ricky the way he did Newt in Florida, at the risk of boosting his own rising negatives”

  7. rikyrah says:

    GOP backpedals on payroll fight
    By Steve Benen

    Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:02 PM EST

    Democrats learned a valuable lesson in December, during the payroll-tax fight that was going their way: when Republicans are losing, their negotiating posture can and will change.

    Indeed, during that initial round of the dispute, GOP negotiators quickly lost all leverage because Democrats simply didn’t believe Republicans were prepared to shoot the proverbial hostage. As of this afternoon, the same dynamic appears to have played out once more.

    We talked earlier about the looming deadline for the payroll tax break, and the poor odds of success unless the GOP became more flexible. In a major surprise, Republicans not only changed course, they abandoned one of their central demands.

    House Republicans said Monday that they would offer a measure to extend the current payroll tax cut for the rest of the year, dropping a previous demand that the tax break be offset.

    The move marks a sharp turnaround for GOP leaders, who just last week were maintaining that the payroll tax holiday for 160 million Americans would have to be offset. But after taking a political pounding in December, House Republicans are adopting a new strategy.

    This is, of course, the approach policymakers should have taken from the beginning. Instead of debating how best to pay for the tax break, the correct answer was obvious all along: stop trying to pay for it. Republicans were never going to agree to a millionaires’ surtax; Democrats were never going to agree to total capitulation; so forgetting about offsets was always the path of least resistance.

    Economic growth is more important than the deficit anyway, and paying for the tax break necessarily meant finding a way to take money out of the economy — which would undermine the point of the tax break in the first place.

    GOP officials said all along — at least up until a few hours ago — this approach would be wholly unacceptable. What changed their minds? Details are still coming together, but I suspect the prospect of being blamed for a middle-class tax increase in an election year may have had something to do with it.

    For proponents of the payroll break policy, this is encouraging, but they might want to keep their champagne on ice. Today’s surrender from Republican leaders represents progress, and there’s obvious reason for optimism, but there are a couple of caveats to keep in mind.

    For one thing, Republicans are retreating on the payroll fight, but let’s not forget, the larger package is a broader piece of legislation that also included an extension of emergency unemployment benefits and the Medicare “doc fix” on physician reimbursements. As part of this new approach, GOP leaders are separating the tax break from the rest of the bill, effectively saying, “We’re caving on the payroll tax, but we’ll keep fighting on jobless aid and Medicare reimbursements.”

    The other provisions matter, and by separating the biggest piece of the puzzle, Dems will have less leverage when negotiating on the other measures.

    What’s more, the new Republican offer will reportedly be brought to the House floor as early as this week, but success is far from assured, especially if the bill is on the suspension calendar, which would necessitate a two-thirds majority to pass.

    Rank-and-file GOP House members are already on record against the very idea of a middle-class tax break, and we’ve seen repeatedly over the course of the last year that Republican leaders in the chamber aren’t exactly in a position to bark orders at their caucus — at least if they expect those orders to be followed.

    House Democrats will likely see today’s announcement as a surrender and be inclined to accept the offer. But will the combination of House Dems and House GOP leaders be enough to get this across the finish line? Time will tell.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Marriage equality reaches Washington
    By Steve Benen

    Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:08 PM EST

    As of this afternoon, the arc of history is bending towards justice in the state of Washington.

    Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a measure legalizing gay marriage in a ceremony in Olympia on Monday. It made Washington the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage.

    A tearful Gregoire announced: “We’re here to make history here in the great state of Washington. This is a very proud day … A day that we did what was right, what was just, what was fair.”

    “Here in our state we have taken a long and difficult journey, and this is the last step.”

    The law will take effect on June 7, though it’s worth noting that the fight from opponents will continue. Conservatives intend to collect ballot signatures in the hopes of putting the issue before voters in November, creating the possibility of giving citizens the right to marry, only to take it away five months later.

    There’s also the possibility that collecting enough signatures would put the law on hold pending a November election.

    But that’s all speculative at this point. What’s very real is the breakthrough success marriage-equality supporters have had in the state of Washington — the seventh state to tell its citizens that if two consenting adults fall in love and want to get married, they should be able to do so.

    It’s worth emphasizing that different states have arrived at the right point through different circumstances. While some states, including Iowa and Massachusetts, approved same-sex marriages by way of a court order, Washington joins states that backed marriage equality because they wanted to. Policymakers in Washington legalized same-sex marriage because they thought it was the right thing to do, not because a judge told them they had to.

    That, I’d argue, makes success that much more meaningful.

    What’s more, it’s another step towards a larger goal. The number of states with marriage equality keeps growing. The number of Americans who support marriage equality keeps growing. The number of policymakers willing to endorse marriage equality keeps growing.

    The head of Focus on the Family was asked last year about same-sex marriage, and he practically conceded defeat, saying, “We’ve probably lost that.”

    I’m very much inclined to agree. Most of the country now believes two consenting adults should be legally permitted to get married if they want to. It’s exceptionally unlikely that trend will ever reverse — civil-rights trajectories rarely, if ever, move that way.

    It won’t be easy, and election outcomes may delay justice, but those on the side of progress are winning.

  9. rikyrah says:

    Romney is in Trouble in Michigan

    by BooMan
    Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 02:19:22 PM EST

    Granted that living in Michigan for several years gave me a certain forecasting advantage, but I told you before the polls came out that Rick Santorum would be the frontrunner there. There is really nothing about Mitt Romney that makes him a preferable choice for the Michigan voter. The largely-Catholic Reagan Democrats in the Detroit suburbs may see Rick Santorum as a bit too radical, but he’s a better fit in a Republican primary than a Mormon from Massachusetts. In the western part of the state, the GOP electorate is dominated by socially-conservative Calvinists who are more aligned with Santorum on anti-choice issues than a man who has flip-flopped on them. Up north, the hunting culture is extremely strong among people of all political persuasions, and they can’t relate to a guy who says he hunts small varmints. Add to all this that Mitt Romney told the auto industry to drop dead at the time of their greatest need. My conclusion is that Romney should seek his fortune in Arizona where he doesn’t have all these disadvantages.

    Romney will try to drive Santorum’s negatives up with political advertising, but Santorum is starting off with much higher favorability numbers. It would probably be wiser for Romney to air Reaganesque sunny, optimistic ads featuring himself. Yet, the more people see of Romney the less they like him, so that might not work, either.

    I said last Friday that I have finally begun to believe that Romney might lost the nomination to Santorum. My inability to figure out a way for Romney to win his home state is really what forced me to begin to question Romney’s overall chances.

    He’s in real trouble.

  10. rikyrah says:

    GE to hire 5,000 U.S. veterans, investing in plants

    General Electric Co plans to hire 5,000 U.S. military veterans over the next five years and to invest $580 million to expand its aviation footprint in the United States this year.

    The largest U.S. conglomerate unveiled the moves ahead of a four-day meeting it is convening in Washington starting on Monday to focus on boosting the U.S. economy, which has been slow to recover from a brutal 2007-2009 recession.

    “We should have the confidence to act and to restore American competitiveness,” Chief Executive Jeff Immelt, a top adviser on jobs and the economy to President Barack Obama, said in a statement.

    The U.S. unemployment rate — seen as the main barrier to a move vibrant recovery — fell to a near three-year low of 8.3 percent in January, helped in part by the manufacturing sector adding about 50,000 workers. Even with that improvement, 23.8 million Americans remain out of work or underemployed, which is keeping the economy a key issue heading into November’s presidential elections.

  11. Ametia says:

    Independents Embrace Obama As They Flee Romney And The GOP
    By Jason Easley
    February 13, 2012

    According to the new Pew Research poll, Independents are fleeing Mitt Romney and embracing
    President Obama at a brisk clip. Obama’s support with Independents now tops 50%.

    The new Pew Research poll found that Mitt Romney is in the midst of an epic slide with Independent voters. In November, Romney led Obama, 53%-42% with Independents. The margin stayed just about the same in mid-January as Romney led the president, 50%-40% with Independents, but something has happened over the past month as Independents now support Obama, 52%-44%.

    President Obama has gained eleven points with Independents over the last month, while Mitt Romney has lost eight points. Going back to November, Obama has gained ten points with Independents while Romney has dropped eleven. The overall match up between Obama and Romney has swung six points since November from Obama leading 49%-47% to Obama leading 52%-44%.

    • Ametia says:

      THIS: “The math for Republicans is simple. They can’t defeat Obama without winning Independents, and the Republican Party and Mitt Romney are doing everything in their power to send Independents fleeing back into the waiting arms of President Obama.”

  12. Ametia says:


  13. dannie22 says:

    Good afternoon everyone!

  14. Ametia & Rikyrah

    Check your email ASAP!

  15. rikyrah says:

    Tom Joyner talks with First Lady Michelle Obama

    Tom Joyner talks with First Lady Michelle Obama about the Let’s Move campaign that combats the epidemic of childhood obesity…

  16. rikyrah says:

    February 13, 2012 06:00 AM
    Thomas Friedman Finally Gets It: The GOP Isn’t Conservative, It’s Radical
    By Blue Texan

    Who knows what finally made Tom Friedman come around.

    Maybe it was watching the live stage version of Tod Browning’s Freaks — otherwise known as the 2012 GOP Primary — for the past year. But he finally stopped writing those “We need a third party that’s exactly like Obama’s Democratic Party” columns and correctly identified the problem for once:

    …when all the Republican candidates last year said they would not accept a deal with Democrats that involved even $1 in tax increases in return for $10 in spending cuts, the G.O.P. cut itself off from reality. It became a radical party, not a conservative one. And for the candidates to wrap themselves in a cartoon version of Ronald Reagan — a real conservative who raised taxes, including the gasoline tax, when he discovered his own cuts had gone too far — is fraudulent.

    Until the G.O.P. stops being radical and returns to being conservative, it won’t provide what the country needs most now — competition — competition with Democrats on the issues that will determine whether we thrive in the 21st century. We need to hear conservative fiscal policies, energy policies, immigration policies and public-private partnership concepts — not radical ones. Would somebody please restore our second party? The country is starved for a grown-up debate.

    Some of us have been saying this since, oh, about twenty years.

    A party that refuses to raise taxes on anyone, ever, when taxes are at historic lows isn’t conservative, it’s radical.

    A party that wants to roll back successful programs like Social Security that have been a bedrock of American society for nearly three quarters of a century isn’t conservative, it’s radical.

    A party that’s openly at war with Progressive Era reforms like unions and child labor laws isn’t conservative, it’s radical.

    A party that refuses to make cuts in defense when the U.S. currently spends more than the next 14 countries in the world combined isn’t conservative, it’s radical.

    A party that denies the scientific consensus of climate change isn’t conservative, it’s radical.

    A party that seeks to repeal a law that was decided by the Supreme Court nearly four decades ago isn’t conservative, it’s radical.

    A party that advocates the forced deportation of 12 million immigrants isn’t conservative, it’s radical.

    A party that denies basic facts about the deficit isn’t conservative, it’s radical.

    A party that wants to pull out of landmark treaties the United States helped write isn’t conservative, it’s radical.

    A party that invites white supremacists and fringe organizations like the John Birch Society to its most important conferences isn’t conservative, it’s radical.

    A party whose leaders compare the President of the United States to Adolf Hitler and Stalin on the floor of the House, who threaten impeachment if they don’t get their way, and who sow doubt about the President’s citizenship isn’t conservative, it’s radical.

    A party whose presidential candidates claim that states should be able to ban contraception and that the Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional isn’t conservative, it’s radical.

    And so on.

    You’re a little slow on the uptake — but better late than never, Tom.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Saturday, February 11, 2012
    Misunderstanding and Underestimating President Obama


    Many on the left have set their hair on fire over President Obama’s solution to the conflict between religious institutions, primarily the Catholic church, providing health care coverage which includes birth control to women and the teachings of the church. One would have to be in the wildest parts of Siberia to have missed this controversy, so I will not recount the drama that has unfolded.

    However, once again the ubiquitous word “cave” has appeared in association with this decision. There was a time when this would infuriate me, but now I laugh at the predictability of the critical left. Of course, if you dare disagree with them, then they launch into name calling that would make any junior high student proud. I think one reason for their childish, often surly, reaction is their unstated, unreasonable expectations of President Obama. It’s as if some on the left have never listened to his speeches, press conferences, or town halls because if they had, surely they would have some understanding of the man.

    For example, Barack Obama is a man who truly understands the art of politics better than any of his critics on the right or left and certainly any of the ideologues. Plenty of evidence exists to support this as he brings home one victory after another for the American people in spite of seemingly insurmountable odds. Certainly many do understand him, calling him the chess master while his opponents are merely sitting in the park playing checkers. But time after time those of us who have defended the President are called idiots, morons, Obamabots, etc. in spite of the fact our defense of President Obama has been well-founded and well-placed. But the critical left still doesn’t get him.

    As an example of the obtuseness of President Obama’s critics on the left, let me take you back to the time when the second budget agreement was finalized. Remember Boehner bragging about how he got what he wanted? Remember Cenk Uygur and others of his ilk screaming that the President got rolled? A couple of days later, Boehner was whining that the Republicans had been rolled, but “’we won’t be rolled again.’” Yet they were . . . again and again.

    The very same scenario played out during the debt ceiling negotiations and agreement. As we watched this unfold, what became clear to most of us but not to the angry left and the Republicans was that the President had boxed the opposition into a corner with no escape. In their eagerness to out-fox the President and race to the microphones, the Republicans again overlooked the long-term results. Thus, after the Super Committee failed and the Department of Defense cuts were activated, the Republicans were not crowing but eating crow . . . again. And again the the critics on the left either didn’t notice or were too prideful to admit they had misjudged Barack Obama.

    And now again in the debate over women’s health, the Republicans have been rolled and although we have ample evidence that the President knows more about negotiating and political maneuvering than anyone in D.C., the angry left is still as dense as ever. And for the umpteenth time they and the Republicans look like fools. As a wise man once said, “‘there’s a saying that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.’” Okay, forget the wise part.

    When the uproar broke this week over mandating religious institutions offer women’s preventative care coverage, we saw a replay of every other drama over important issues about which we liberals care deeply. The debate over this issue was couched as either a violation of religious freedom or women’s right to unfettered access to birth control. Most of the proponents of the religious freedom argument were white Catholic male pundits, such as Chris Matthews and Lawrence O’Donnell, who frankly couldn’t see past their white privilege to see the true issue here. But I digress.

    The Republicans came out with their usual hysterical rhetoric, providing further evidence to the American people just how extreme they are. However, in an unusual display of unity, Democrats held firm and stayed on message. What’s that message? Women have a right to preventative care coverage by any employer, regardless of secular or religious foundation. So yesterday, when President Obama announced a way to provide the coverage that the Catholic and religious institutions could accept, he was accused of caving or bending because by some on the left who lost sight of the goal.

    Those critics on the left who just don’t get Barack Obama do so because they lack vision, subtlety, and nuance. Most importantly, the critical left always loses sight of the goal. The goal was not bringing down the Catholic church but to provide the best possible preventative care for women without the co-pays many women cannot afford.

  18. Just Saying @Notjustjazz:

    Some CBC members are being challenged next election because they have been bashing PBO

  19. rikyrah says:

    ‘Black People Deserve Better Than This’
    By Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Feb 13 2012, 11:00 AM ET 28

    Famous first L. Douglas Wilder was supposed to be putting together a powerhouse slavery museum in Virginia. It looks like no such museum is in the offing:

    “Governor Wilder disappeared,” said Rev. Lawrence Davies, the former longtime mayor of Fredericksburg who was a member of the board. Davies stopped getting notices about board meetings, and when he tried to reach Wilder, he never heard back.

    “No one could ever get through to him,” Davies said. “We didn’t know what to think.” It wasn’t just board members and city officials who were left to wonder. There are donors, too, asking what happened.

    “I trusted them,” said Therbia Parker Sr., a general contractor from Suffolk, Va., who gave the museum nearly 100 artifacts he had collected over 40 years, including rare and invaluable pieces such as leg shackles, a handwritten bill of sale for slaves, and a collar with a plantation name and slave number on it.

    “I’ll never forget the first time I saw a newspaper with ads for runaway slaves,” he said. “The reality of it: This really happened.”

    He wanted future generations to feel that history as he had. But he doesn’t know where the artifacts he donated are now. And he is furious that the museum, slated to open in 2004, was never built.

    “Black people deserve better than this,” he said.

    Indeed. Parker has yet to get any of those artifacts back. He doesn’t even know where they are. The callousness here is breathtaking

  20. rikyrah says:

    Norquist: Romney Will Do As Told
    by David Frum Feb 13, 2012 9:45 AM EST
    Is Mitt Romney so weak he won’t be able to stand up to Congress?

    The most quoted speech at CPAC this year was Mitt Romney’s, but my vote for the most significant goes to Grover Norquist’s. In his charmingly blunt way, Norquist articulated out loud a case for Mitt Romney that you hear only whispered by other major conservative leaders.

    They have reconciled themselves to a Romney candidacy because they see Romney as essentially a weak and passive president who will concede leadership to congressional conservatives:

    All we have to do is replace Obama. … We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. … We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate.

    The requirement for president?

    Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.

    This is not a very complimentary assessment of Romney’s leadership. It’s also not a very realistic political program: congressional Republicans have a disapproval rating of about 75%. If Americans get the idea that a vote for Romney is a vote for the Ryan plan, Romney is more or less doomed.

    To date, sad to say, Romney has worked hard to confirm this image of weakness.

    Nobody wants a president who acts as the passive instrument of even generally popular groups like labor unions. (Did you know that—despite decades of declining popularity—unions still have an approval rating of 52%? I didn’t until I looked it up.)

    But a candidate who appeases the most disliked people in national politics? That guy will command neither public affection nor respect.

  21. rikyrah says:

    The ‘drama’ of the payroll tax-cut fight
    By Steve Benen
    Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:01 AM EST

    It’s understandable to have a sense of deja vu when it comes to the fight in Washington over a payroll tax break. In December, Democrats pushed to leave the tax cut in place; Republicans balked; and it led to a fairly intense showdown the week before Christmas. Dems won, but the victory was temporary — the agreement only extended the break through February.

    The sequel is shaping up to be even more contentious. In his weekly address over the weekend, President Obama explained that if the current policy expires in two weeks, the typical American worker would have about $1,000 less in his or her pocket over 2012.

    “Congress needs to stop this middle class tax hike from happening,” he said. “Period. No drama. No delay. And no ideological side issues that have nothing to do with this tax cut. Now is not the time for self-inflicted wounds to our recovery.”

    Congressional Republicans don’t quite see it that way. How to pay for the bill, not surprisingly, is the most difficult issue, but GOP lawmakers are also pushing related measures, including “mandatory high school equivalency program and possible drug testing for beneficiaries,” as well as shrinking unemployment eligibility to 59 weeks.

    In other words, Republicans are willing to consider a payroll tax break they admit they don’t want — it’s another one of those issues Republicans supported right up until Democrats said they agreed — but only if Dems agree to make conditions harder on those struggling most.

    Democrats have already given ground — a surtax on millionaires and billionaires has reportedly been taken off the table — but Dems aren’t willing to go nearly as far as Republicans would like. Since Democrats also believe they have the upper hand in the negotiations, it will be that much more difficult for the GOP to push them around.

    This was supposed to be much easier. After a bitter fight in December, GOP leaders were chastened and eager to avoid another defeat. As of mid-January, the prospects for an agreement looked pretty good, in large part because Republicans didn’t want to be on the hook for a middle-class tax increase in an election year.

    But the process has deteriorated since, with rank-and-filed GOP lawmakers coming up with new demands.

    At issue is a package with a price tag of nearly $200 billion, which would include a payroll tax cut for the rest of the year, an extension of emergency unemployment benefits, and the Medicare “doc fix” on physician reimbursements. Talks will continue today, and if they go poorly, don’t be surprised if Congress scraps its Presidents’ Day recess.

  22. rikyrah says:

    What if Santorum wins Michigan?
    By Steve Benen

    Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:22 AM EST

    We talked earlier about Rick Santorum positioning himself as the top GOP rival to Mitt Romney at the national level. That also increasingly appears to be the case in key states.

    Public Policy Polling just released these results from the state of Michigan.

    Rick Santorum’s taken a large lead in Michigan’s upcoming Republican primary. He’s at 39% to 24% for Mitt Romney, 12% for Ron Paul, and 11% for Newt Gingrich.

    Santorum’s rise is attributable to two major factors: his own personal popularity (a stellar 67/23 favorability) and GOP voters increasingly souring on Gingrich. Santorum’s becoming something closer and closer to a consensus conservative candidate as Gingrich bleeds support.


    Remember, this was believed to be one of Romney's most likely wins. That "let Detroit go bankrupt" policy notwithstanding, he's from Michigan and his father was governor of the state.

    And yet, here we are.

    Newt Gingrich's support is collapsing, and in an interesting twist, Romney has to hope that the former Speaker sticks around for a while — PPP shows Santorum leading Romney by 21 points in Michigan if Gingrich weren't in the race.

    Santorum's principal enemy at this point is time. The Michigan primary won't be held for two more weeks, which gives Romney all kinds of time to take advantage of his considerable financial edge, doing what the former governor always does when he sees a threat: invest in attack ads until the threat is destroyed.

    For now, however, Santorum not only has reason to feel some optimism, he also can credibly start telling the right this is a race between him and Romney — and if conservative activists and donors agree, the former senator's candidacy will be that much more difficult to dismiss.

    Romney is hearing whispers of doubt after a rough week. If he struggles in Michigan, those whispers will become roars.

  23. rikyrah says:

    Those who buy what they can’t earn
    By Steve Benen

    Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:15 AM EST

    Associated Press

    In a bit of a surprise over the weekend, Mitt Romney won the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference, picking up 38% of the vote, ahead of Rick Santorum’s 31%. Yesterday, the former senator sounded rather annoyed about the results, saying, “I don’t try to rig straw polls.”

    Was this just sour grapes, or does Santorum have a legitimate beef? Jonathan Martin points towards the latter in a report this morning

    Mitt Romney’s campaign, in need of a boost following a trio of losses last Tuesday, shelved their “no straw polls” policy and worked to win the CPAC vote.

    A Republican source confirms to me that Romney’s camp bought registrations at CPAC to ensure their victory at the straw poll. There was also a more visible presence. Two young men, one who identified himself as a staffer but declined to talk and another who said he was a volunteer, held up Romney signs Saturday morning near the entrance to the ballroom and urged attendees to vote for the former Massachusetts governor.

    The New York Times added that the Romney campaign was “busing students from colleges along the Eastern Seaboard” to help boost his CPAC totals.

    When Martin asked the campaign whether it paid for registrations to help influence the straw poll results, a Romney spokesperson “avoided the question.”

    The larger issue, of course, is why Romney would bother, especially since his campaign has argued for months that straw polls just don’t matter. I suspect the answer is that Team Romney saw themselves suffering through a rough week, assumed they’d lose the CPAC straw poll unless they spent some money to change the outcome, and didn’t want to deal with another round of stories about how the Republican Party’s far-right base just doesn’t care for the former governor.

  24. rikyrah says:

    February 13, 2012 10:15 AM
    The Liberal Catholic Complaint
    By Ed Kilgore

    You have to figure nobody was much happier than E.J. Dionne when the Obama administration released a “compromise” on its insurance coverage mandate for contraceptive services that Sr. Carol Keehan, head of the Catholic Health Association, could support. After all, the main argument made in E.J.’s much-discussed January 29 column blasting the administration for its original wording of the mandate was that it had thrown progressive Catholic allies like Keehan “under the bus.”

    His latest column, however, combines palpable relief at the “compromise” with a churlish, told-you-so expression of resentment at the administration and at non-Catholic liberals for failing to “get it” in the first place:

    Many of us [Catholic liberals] agreed that broad contraception coverage was, as a general matter, a good thing, and we shared their concern for women’s rights. But we were troubled that some with whom we usually agree seemed to relish a fight with the church and defined any effort to accommodate its anxieties as “selling out.”

    As a young politician put it in 2006, “There are some liberals who dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical, or thinking that the very word ‘Christian’ describes one’s political opponents, not people of faith.”

    Barack Obama, who spoke those words, finally figured out that a sensible compromise on contraception was far better than a running cultural and religious war. The administration would do well not to lose track of that guy again.

    I’ve always admired E.J. Dionne, not simply as a journalist but as an exceptionally decent man. But this time he’s just off-base.

    I understand his frustration at being under constant attack from co-religionists who think he’s a “cafeteria Catholic” sellout and from political allies who think—or more to the point, E.J. suspects they think—he’s a fool in the grip of a medieval delusion. I feel enough of this myself on occasion to get it, though as a liberal Protestant, I do not have the burden of feeling pressure from or complicity with any formal hierarchy.

    But nobody in the Obama administration needs to apologize to anyone for proposing—via its Catholic Secretary of Health and Human Services, and making a formal exception explicitly designed for Catholics—a simple, logical policy making it clear contraceptives were to be covered as a medically recognized preventive health care service. The idea that this represented some sort of Bismarckian kulturkampf attack on Catholicism makes sense only if you accept the premise that “religious liberty” gives the Bishops some sort of broad zone of immunity—a kind of unwritten concordat—against any public policies that it might find inimical to its teachings (in this case, teachings that are being almost universally disregarded by their own flocks).

    Moreover, much as I like E.J. Dionne, none of the advocates for reproductive rights who responded in kind to the Bishops’ hysterical rhetoric on this mandate need to apologize to him for putting him in an uncomfortable position. Should the sensibilities of liberal Catholic political elites matter more to non-Catholic liberals than the actual impact of these policies in question on the lives of millions of American women, Catholics included? I’d say that carries the obligations of solidarity too far.

    Catholic liberals are a tough breed who deserve great respect, particularly when their religious leaders betray their best traditions and confirm their detractors’ worst insults. But while “pluralism” depends on mutual respect, it does not require deference to other people’s private authority figures. The attitude of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops towards contraception is a constant problem for U.S. Catholic lay people, though one they manage to handle just fine most of the time. Frankly, it’s only a problem for the rest of us if we allow it to be, and we shouldn’t.

  25. rikyrah says:

    February 13, 2012 8:30 AM
    Crux of the Matter
    By Ed Kilgore

    Before we get to the weightier topics of the morning, such as the ritualistic responses to the president’s FY 2013 budget, I did want to note a weekend development that sorta sums up the GOP nominating race as it stands.

    As our intrepid (and self-sacrificing, since he wasn’t told to post past noon) Guest Weekend Blogger, Jesse Singal, noted, PPP released a poll showing Rick Santorum booming out to a double-digit national lead over the Mittster, destroying both Romney and Gingrich among the key right-wing demographics. The same day, the self-same Mittster won the presidential straw poll at the annual jamboree of right-wing activists, CPAC.

    Why the disconnect?

    The single most important finding in the PPP poll is Ricky’s vast advantage over his rivals in favorable/unfavorable ratios: Romney is at 44/43, Gingrich is at 42/44, Paul is at 35/51, and Santorum is at 62/24. This advantage, presumably the result of the Mitt/Newt slugfest rather than Ricky’s inherent huggability, is very unlikely to persist for long, even if Mitt doesn’t go nuclear on Santorum; he’s just the kind of nightshade candidate who will not grow stronger with exposure to heat and light. High-information (by that I mean quantity of information, not necessarily quality!) activists like those who attend CPAC, even if they were cheering Ricky’s culture-war ravings til they were hoarse, probably realize that and figure he’ll eventually crash and burn.

    The other thing to keep in mind, of course, is that CPAC, wacky as it is to those of us who don’t watch Fox News, has become a mainstream GOP event. People used to joke that the CPAC crowd resembled the bar scene in Star Wars. Now, in terms of its relationship to standard-brand Republicanism, it’s more like Happy Hour at TGI Friday’s. Even among CPACers, you can find some people determined to re-run the Goldwater campaign, and other people who would settle for another Nixon. The latter listen to Rick Santorum, and hear a guy at war with much of the twentieth century. They figure it won’t wear that well on Republican voters, and they’re probably right.

  26. rikyrah says:

    While Others Just Talk and Talk

    by mistermix

    I don’t watch Meet the Republicans, This Week with the GOP or any of the other Sunday shows, but reliable sources report that Jack Lew went on Face the Conservatives and State of the Right Wing with Candy Crowley yesterday and told the bishops that clowntime is over:

    Mr. Lew said the president put out a solid plan, and when asked whether there is more room for compromising said, “No. This is our plan.”

    In an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Mr. Lew said, “We’re going to go ahead and implement it.” He said the White House has “broad consensus – not universal consensus – that this is an approach that’s right.”

    Rick Santorum was on next, and his face got red as he cried, bunched up his little fists and pounded the table saying that in his ideal world women would be constantly pregnant, but until he can raise up his new caliphate, he’ll accept that sluts can take their shame to a pharmacy and get the pill, but those roundheels should have to pay for it. Or words to that effect.

    And is it just me, or do any of you detect a bit of a post-coital flush coloring Mitch McConnell’s pronouncement on Bob Scheiffer’s Old Man Show that not only Catholics, but any employer, should be able to decide not to pay for contraception as long as they dispense Viagra like a holy sacrament? My guess is that Mitch just renewed his Rx for the little blue pill for free on his Congressional health plan.

  27. rikyrah says:

    David Brock Should Thank Tucker Carlson

    by BooMan
    Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 09:31:12 AM EST

    Tucker Carlson’s fishwrap should be ashamed of itself for putting out such low quality garbage. His reporters Alex Pappas and Will Rahn were supposed to do some research and come up with a hit piece on David Brock and Media Matters. All they came up with was some anonymous and possibly fabricated quotes that accuse Brock of suffering from mental illness, using cocaine, hiring bodyguards, having his personal assistant carry a Glock, and behaving erratically and sometimes tyrannically at the office. Oh, and, shockingly, they report that the White House has formal and informal contacts with Media Matters!

    I have no idea whether or not there is any truth to the allegations about Mr. Brock. I have several friends who work for or do consulting work for Media Matters and I’ve never heard any rumors that would support this reporting. There is also nothing in the lengthy article that casts doubt about the accuracy of Media Matters as a source of information. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the organization agrees with the White House and nearly all Democrats that Fox News is an organ of the Republican Party. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that MSNBC often behaves in a similar way toward the Democratic Party. It should be remembered, however, that MSNBC is owned by General Electric and is only interested in liberal politics as a brand, and not because they have any genuine commitment to progressive politics. Fox News wants to make money, too, but they’ve created a model that can make money while serving the GOP at the same time.

    And let’s look at what we’re dealing with here:

    Foster Friess, the man helping bankroll Rick Santorum’s Super PAC, was right behind him on the stage Tuesday night as the former senator basked in the glow of having won Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado.

    Friess also has another sideline: funding the Daily Caller.

    The Wyoming mutual-fund executive helped conservative commentator Tucker Carlson launch the political website in 2010 with a $3-million investment, and has since funneled more cash to the Caller in a second round of financing.

    Does that create a problem for the Caller, whose lead story on Wednesday featured a picture of a beaming Santorum under the headline “Tuesday Treble”?

    “Foster is the greatest investor in the history of journalism,” Carlson told me. “There’s only upside when dealing with Foster. Foster’s only requirement for us is that we come pheasant hunting with him once or twice a year. He doesn’t even send us pieces.”

    Friess, a Christian philanthropist, is the leading benefactor of the Red White and Blue Fund, the independent group backing Santorum, according to the New York Times. Carlson says he ran into Friess at a Santorum event in Iowa and “had no idea he was even there.”

    But surely having the longtime Republican donor play sugar daddy for both a top presidential candidate and Carlson’s website creates a perception problem?

    “I have zero interest in what people think about that,” Carlson says. “There’s not a conflict of interest or an appearance of a conflict. Foster has not sought to influence our coverage in any way

    Right-wing evangelical businessmen can bankroll presidential candidates and create their own newspapers and websites to put out whatever message they want, no matter how scurrilous. It seems like David Brock and Media Matters couldn’t ask for a better example than this hit piece to use in their efforts to fundraise from small donors and Democrats who want to somehow try to even the playing field.

    As for Tucker Carlson, I have it from reliable sources that he dabbled in necrophilia while in college and was expelled from prep school for sexually assaulting the headmaster’s daughter. A couple of friends told me this during a night of heavy drinking, but they asked that I withhold their names because they don’t have the balls to go on the record.

    See how that works?

  28. rikyrah says:

    Missouri Becomes Second State To Divert Foreclosure Funds Away From Homeowners To Balance Its Budget

    By Travis Waldron on Feb 13, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Last week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) announced that he would use the funds his state received from a $26 billion mortgage settlement between 49 states and the nation’s largest banks to help balance the state’s budget, even though the settlement money was marked to help homeowners. In all, Walker will use $25.6 million of the $31.6 million Wisconsin’s state government receives to help close a budget shortfall.

    Though Walker’s move to push struggling homeowners aside may seem radical, it is now being followed by at least one other state. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) and Attorney General Chris Koster (D) have pledged to put $40 million of the state’s $196 million share of the settlement into the state’s general fund to boost its higher education budget, Stateline reports:

    Koster, a Democrat, told reporters on Thursday that he agrees with the governor’s call for more higher education funding and will transfer the $40 million Nixon has requested into the general fund, citing the “severe budget shortages” the state faces.

    Though specific terms of the settlement have not been released, states have been given significant leeway on how to spend the money from it. According to the National Mortgage Settlement website, however, the money is supposed to “help fund consumer protection and state foreclosure protection efforts.” The full $26 billion, though, is already woefully short of what is needed to ameliorate the nation’s housing crisis, and diverting funds from it to other problems will only exacerbate that fact.

  29. rikyrah says:

    And They Kept Going
    Posted on 02/12/2012 at 1:35 pm by JM Ashby

    I didn’t think the GOP would actually take my advice and keep going, but evidently that’s what they have decided to do.

    The issue of birth control isn’t decided for them. The compromise of mandating coverage for insurance providers and not religious institutions isn’t good enough. Because this really has nothing to do with religious freedom. It has everything to do with A.) opposing the president no matter the cause and B.) keeping women down.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged today that the Grand Obstructionist Party will do anything they can to reverse the president’s decision to grant birth control to women with no co-pay.

    We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…

    Oh wait, that’s not it.

    Here’s Mitch McConnell.

    “If we end up having to try to overcome the President’s opposition by legislation, of course I’d be happy to support it, and intend to support it,” McConnell said. “We’ll be voting on that in the Senate and you can anticipate that that would happen as soon as possible.” […]

    “The fact that the White House thinks this is about contraception is the whole problem. This is about freedom of religion, it’s right there in the First Amendment. You can’t miss it — right there in the very first amendment to our Constitution,” McConnell said. “What the overall view on the issue of contraception is has nothing to do with an issue about religious freedom.”

    McConnell is lying through his teeth. This has nothing – absolutely nothing – to do with religious freedom.

    You may have been able to get away with making that argument before the compromise, but this doesn’t hold up to even minute scrutiny.

    The Republicans can’t win on national security, they can’t win on the economy, and they no scandals to impeach over. The culture war is all they have.

    And by the way, can anyone show me the passage in the bible which reads “and thee shalt not provide birth control to thy neighbor.” Was that in the Ten Commandments and I missed it? Where’s Mel Brooks when you need him?

  30. rikyrah says:

    Shocking Voter Turnout, Or A Lack Thereof
    Posted on 02/12/2012 at 5:00 pm by JM Ashby

    A quick note about the Maine Republican caucus.

    Maine is home to just over 250,000 registered Republicans, and approximately 5,500 turned out yesterday to vote for Romney, Paul, Santorum or Gingrich. That’s roughly 2 percent voter turnout.

    Mitt Romney narrowly defeated Ron Paul by 194 total votes, and his total share of the vote was down by roughly 700 from 2008. Romney won the Maine caucus with 39 percent of the vote, down from 51 percent in 2008.

    The Romney campaign is spinning this as a signal that his campaign is getting back on the right track, but I’m not sure if a razor-thin victory over Ron Paul and the fact that he lost 12 percent of the vote compared to 2008 is much to go on.

  31. rikyrah says:

    The Canary in the Coalmine?
    Posted on 02/13/2012 at 7:12 am by Bob Cesca

    If you’re a Romney supporter, his Maine victory over the weekend probably wasn’t worth celebrating. Benen cites some history:

    Indeed, Romney won Maine four years ago with nearly 52% of the vote. This year, he won with less than 40% support of Republican Mainers.

    And, as we all know, Romney lost in 2008.

  32. Ametia says:

    The majority of Catholic voters support President Obama’s new contraception policy, according to a poll released this weekend by the Coalition to Protect Women’s Health Care, which includes the Center for American Progress. Just 29 percent of Catholics polled opposed the policy, while 57 percent (and 59 percent of Catholic women) support it. An additional 5 percent wanted the policy to be stronger.

    Obama will unveil his 2013 budget proposal today, which the White House is calling a “blueprint for how we can rebuild an economy” and Republicans are already attacking. The plan includes increased spending on infrastructure and education, with spending cuts in many other places.

    Athens saw its biggest riots yet this weekend as the Greek Parliament passed strict new austerity measures. The vote paves the way for a bailout from its European neighbors and the International Monetary Fund; without it, Greece would almost certainly have to leave the Eurozone, which could seriously harm global markets.

    Mitt Romney claims to be an outsider, but his campaign has made room for lobbyists. At least 294 registered lobbyists donated more than $400,000 to Romney’s campaign in 2011 and bundled more than $2 million in donations. Several advisers are also lobbyists.

    Romney picked up two much-needed wins this weekend in Maine’s caucuses and at the CPAC straw poll, but his competitors are contesting both. Rick Santorum accused Romney of essentially buying the straw poll by purchasing tickets for supporters — a charge supported by reporting from Politico and the New York Times — while Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) suggested the Maine GOP favored Romney.

    A new PPP poll released this weekend shows Santorum is the new national leader with a huge 15 point margin. However, the poll was conducted before the Maine caucus and CPAC straw poll.

    Newt Gingrich is in desperate need of cash and struggling to raise money. Having largely struck out with top bundlers, he is now focusing on mid-tier donors and has been forced to spend less time with voters and more with potential donors.

    The New Jersey state Senate is expected to pass a bill today to recognize gay marriage. On Thursday, the state Assembly is expected to do the same, but Gov. Chris Christie (R) has promised a veto. Democrats hope to muster enough votes to override Christie’s veto.

    The administration is preparing to call for reducing the corporate tax rate, a proposal Obama hinted at in his State of the Union address last month. The current rate of 35 percent is one of the highest in the world and the new rate would put it more in line with that of other developed nations.

    And finally: Rick Santorum was overheard this weekend in Northern Virginia asking if the sushi he had just eaten was cooked.

  33. Ametia says:

    Induced labor allows dying man to see daughter
    February 12, 2012 11:43 PM

    AP) DALLAS – Diane Aulger was about two weeks from her delivery date when she and her husband decided there was no time to wait: Mark Aulger had only days to live, and he wanted to see his child.

    Diane Aulger had her labor induced and gave birth to their daughter Jan. 18. When tiny Savannah was placed in his arms, Mark Aulger “cried, and he just looked very sad,” his wife said. He died five days later from complications related to his cancer treatment.

    The 52-year-old Texas man was diagnosed with colon cancer in April. He had surgery and, as a precaution, six months of chemotherapy, Diane Aulger said. With no signs of cancer showing up in follow up tests, the treatment seemed successful.

    Then in November, Mark Aulger began having trouble breathing. By Jan. 3, he was sick enough to go to the emergency room. His wife said he was told the chemotherapy had caused him to develop pulmonary fibrosis, which causes scarring and thickening in the lungs.

    Initially, the Aulgers were hopeful.

  34. Ametia says:

    Dems Hit Back

    Obama campaign sets up ‘Truth Team’

    USA Today: President Obama’s re-election team is seeking help from Internet and on-the-ground backers to spread the word about Obama’s record in office, and to bash his Republican critics. The purpose of the “Truth Team” is to “promote the President’s achievements, respond to attacks on his record and hold the eventual Republican nominee accountable,” said the announcement from the Obama re-election team.

    The overall website — — includes three specialty websites: (devoted to Obama’s record), (attacking Republicans), and (responding to critical GOP ads).

    “The sites also contain tools for sharing materials via Facebook, Twitter and email, and empowers supporters to take further action by volunteering, writing letters to the editor, sending postcards to undecided voters with information about the President’s record, and more,” said the Obama announcement.

  35. Ametia says:

    10 years after Salt Lake City Olympics, questions about Romney’s contributions

    By Amy Shipley, Published: February 12

    SALT LAKE CITY — Thirteen years ago, as details of an international bribery scandal came to light, federal investigators and news reporters swarmed to the downtown offices of this city’s 2002 Winter Games organizing committee. Top management officials resigned. Potential sponsors bolted. Morale sank.

    Robert Garff, chairman of the Salt Lake City Olympic committee, sought a “white knight” to lead the organization out of the humiliating mess. He homed in on Mitt Romney, a wealthy venture capitalist in Massachusetts who had lost a Senate race several years before.

    Romney accepted the challenge of running the Salt Lake committee, leaving the enormously profitable Bain Capital for Salt Lake City, the spiritual center of gravity for his Mormon faith. Over the next three years, he helped turn what had been a public disgrace into one of the most successful Winter Games in history.

    That reversal would become a cornerstone of his political biography — and the subject of a book he wrote about the experience — earning Romney a reputation as a turnaround artist with extraordinary management skills.

    Today, even Romney’s critics concede he helped drive a remarkable about-face for the Salt Lake Games, which was remembered Wednesday in a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the opening of those Olympics.

  36. Why Chaka Khan decided not to perform at Whitney Grammys tribute

    Chaka Khan has pulled out of plans to perform a Whitney Houston tribute at the Grammy Awards on Sunday.

    Khan was set to honor her former backup singer at the Los Angeles ceremony, but she took to Twitter before the event started to let fans know she felt awkward about a memorial performance the day after Houston’s death.

    She writes, “As I grieve the loss of my friend and ‘little sister,’ I don’t feel it appropriate to perform at this time. Continue to pray for the family.”

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