Monday Open Thread

The Brothers Johnson is a band consisting of American musicians and brothers George aka ‘Lightnin’ Licks’ and Louis E. Johnson aka ‘Thunder Thumbs’.

Guitarist/vocalist George and bassist/vocalist Louis formed the band Johnson Three Plus One with older brother Tommy, and their cousin Alex Weir, while attending school in Los Angeles, California.[1][2] When they became professionals, the band backed such touring R&B acts as Bobby Womack and the Supremes. George and Louis Johnson later joined Billy Preston‘s band, and wrote Music in My Life and The Kids and Me for him before leaving his group in 1973. In 1976, The Brothers covered the Beatlessong, Hey Jude, for the ephemeral musical documentary All This and World War II.

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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50 Responses to Monday Open Thread

  1. Pope, church leaders call for guaranteed health care for all people

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI and other church leaders said it was the moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens, regardless of social and economic status or their ability to pay.

    Access to adequate medical attention, the pope said in a written message Nov. 18, was one of the “inalienable rights” of man.

    The pope’s message was read by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, to participants at the 25th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry at the Vatican Nov. 18-19.

  2. Ametia says:

    Agreement reached to give Greece $170 billion more in bailout loans, AP reports

    A European Union diplomat says that an agreement has been reached to give Greece $170 billion more in bailout loans and bring its debt down to 120.5 percent of GDP by 2020, according to the Associated Press.

    A debt level of 120.5 percent of GDP is considered close to the maximum sustainable amount for Greece.

    Read more at:

  3. Ametia says:

    Minnesota GOP Refuses To Allow Citizens To Testify As It Steals Their Right To Vote
    February 20, 2012
    By Rebecca Cassady

    Last Wednesday, more than 200 protesters holding signs that read “ALL Our Voices Count No Voter ID Amendment” waited in the halls of the capital building while the Minnesota Senate committee conducted a hearing on a voter ID amendment. Why were they waiting in the halls? The Republican lead committee allowed no citizens to testify on the legislation. Predictably, it passed the committee on a party line vote, 8 Republicans for-6 Democrats against. Last year the Republican lead state congress passed a bill requiring voter ID and it was vetoed by Democratic Governor Mark Dayton. It really got me to wondering, why would 200 citizens protest the prospect of showing id to vote? It doesn’t sound unreasonable, after all, you have to show ID for almost everything now. What’s one more?

    At least, that’s what Republicans want you think. The reality is far different.

  4. First lady Michelle Obama skis at Buttermilk ski area on Saturday in Aspen, Colo. The first lady is spending Presidents Day weekend in Aspen with her daughters, Sasha and Malia. (AP Photo/Aspen Daily News, Chris Council)

  5. Ametia says:

    Here’s a blast from the past.

  6. Ametia says:

    ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘The Help’–What Their Nostalgic Portrayals of Domestic Service Get Wrong
    What is with our obsession with servants? And are these shows letting us off the hook?

    February 19, 2012 |

    It may seem far-fetched to compare The Help to “Downton.” The former is American and about race in the 1960s South; the latter is British and about class in a 1910 manor house. There are additional differences between their public receptions: The Help is popular and acclaimed but has also been extensively criticized for having a white savior character at the center of its narrative and for sanitizing an era of lynchings and marches in a wash of brightly hued nostalgia. “Downton Abbey” is accepted as frothier entertainment, and has avoided being hobbled by that same kind of accuracy debate–even though it has also obscured the disturbing aspects of its era with the use of stunning costumes and rich production values.–what_their_nostalgic_portrayals_of_domestic_service_get_wrong_/

  7. Ametia says:

    Six people the media should have talked to last week about birth control
    By David Ferguson
    Saturday, February 18, 2012 22:25 EST

    It has been widely remarked that last week’s discussions about the Affordable Health Care Act’s mandate that insurers provide women with free birth control was a little heavy on men and religious figures and awfully light on women and health care experts.

    Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) held a hearing on Capitol Hill about the issue, but declined to feature any women on the panel or hear testimony from female witnesses, prompting a walk-out by Reps. Carolyn Mahoney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

    We at Raw Story have some suggestions for people the news media might reach out to next time questions of women and their access to contraception arise.

    1. Dr. Regina Benjamin (Surgeon General of the U.S.)

    Who better to discuss an important public health issue than the most powerful public health official in the country? She, unlike most of the people interviewed on the topic, is a doctor and a woman, and has an extensive background in rural health care and understands the difficulties faced by women and families in need.

  8. rikyrah says:

    By Laura Conaway

    Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:14 PM EST

    What appears to be a crowd of several hundred people gathered today at the Virginia state capitol. Standing silently in the cold, they lined the walkway used by the legislators who have been voting on — and voting away — women’s rights in Virginia.

    From their Facebook page:

    The Capitol ground rules say that we cannot assemble, hold signs, chant, yell or protest. We think silence in the face of this struggle and their unconstitutional rules presents the strongest response to their assault on women. Please come out and stand up for our rights and for the rights of all women in VA to choose the best reproductive route for themselves. These people are used to signs, yelling, chanting etc. It is not new. They are not used to silently being stared at and having to look us in the eye. It gives us the power.

    A new poll out today from the Christopher Newport University and the Richmond Times-Dispatch shows Virginia’s Republican majority to the right of Virginians. About 55 percent of them say they don’t like the measure that would require women seeking an abortion to first undergo a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound. The Richmond paper reports the House was to vote on the bill today, but its patron chose instead to hold off for the day.

  9. Ametia says:

    Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control — And Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About it 100 Years From Now
    Sara Robinson

    Conservative bishops and Congressmen are fighting a rear-guard action against one of the most revolutionary changes in human history.

    Until the condom, the diaphragm, the Pill, the IUD, and all the subsequent variants of hormonal fertility control came along, anatomy really was destiny — and all of the world’s societies were organized around that central fact. Women were born to bear children; they had no other life options. With a few rebellious or well-born exceptions (and a few outlier cultures that somehow found their way to a more equal footing), the vast majority of women who’ve ever lived on this planet were tied to home, dependent on men, and subject to all kinds of religious and cultural restrictions designed to guarantee that they bore the right kids to the right man at the right time — even if that meant effectively jailing them at home.–_and_why_we%27ll_still_be_fighting_about_it_100_years_from_now/

  10. rikyrah says:

    Romney’s gold-plated resume
    By Steve Benen

    Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:35 PM EST

    Mitt Romney was in Utah over the weekend for a celebration of sorts: it was the 10th anniversary of the Olympic games he helped lead. This is, of course, a story Romney and his presidential campaign are eager to tell, because it reinforces the “turnaround artist” narrative — the Salt Lake City games were in trouble; Romney came in and applied his business expertise; and the Olympics were saved.

    The truth, however, tells a less flattering story, at least as far as the politics is concerned. Indeed, in an unexpected twist, Romney’s handling of the Olympics — thought to be one of his few easy selling points as a candidate — is now being used against him.

    While the former governor was in Utah for his victory lap, Rick Santorum was trying to turn the issue around on his rival. Referring to Romney, Santorum said, “He heroically bailed out the Salt Lake City Olympic games by heroically going to Congress and asking them for tens of millions of dollars to bail out the Salt Lake Olympic games, in an earmark. Does the word hypocrisy come to mind?”

    A closer look at the details suggests Santorum has a point.

    …Romney himself has a complicated relationship with federal funds. As the head of the Salt Lake City Olympics, Romney led an aggressive effort to win hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid for the struggling Winter Games. […]

    [I]n “Turnaround,” Romney’s 2004 account of his successful effort to save the Winter Olympics after they were hobbled by a bribery scandal and a budget shortfall, he … writes that when he took over the Games in 1999, he learned that organizers had been assuming the federal government would kick in more to help Salt Lake City — including for transportation and infrastructure improvements — than had ever been spent on a U.S. Olympic Games before. But they had done none of the lobbying to secure money they assumed would flow.

    “I would be spending a lot of time in D.C.,” he writes.

    He then goes on to include a sort of guide on how to win federal support in a section of the book he entitles “Being Successful in Washington.”

    It’s true that the Olympics were in trouble when Romney took over, but as Frank Rich recently explained, “The most significant workers he added to the payroll in Salt Lake City were sixteen lobbyists, at a cost of nearly $4 million, to solicit taxpayers’ subsidies — ‘more federal cash than any previous U.S. Olympics,’ according to The Wall Street Journal. That’s hard to square with Romney’s current stand that jobs will bloom across the land if government stops giving any handouts (even to tornado victims, he said in the GOP debate) and lets the free market work its magic.”

    The problem is the picture the facts help paint. Romney would have voters believe he used his expertise as a businessman to get the Olympics back on track. What actually happened, however, was that Romney hired a team of lobbyists — from five separate D.C. lobbying firms — to get Congress to give him a lot of money.

    Federal bailout in hand, Romney then used tax dollars to rescue the troubled the games. This wasn’t about corporate know-how or the skills of turnaround artist; this was a straightforward process involving Romney, lobbyists, and a truckload of taxpayer money.

    Santorum isn’t the only one eager to remind voters of these details; the DNC unveiled this video late last week.

  11. BWD @theonlyadult :Ruth Bader Ginsburg stepping down from Supreme Court in 2015.
    Der “Progressives”, you still don’t feel like voting for Obama?

  12. rikyrah says:

    Right rallies to defend Va. ultrasound bill
    By Steve Benen

    Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:00 AM EST

    As controversial culture-war measures in Virginia generate national attention, conservative defenses of the far-right efforts are becoming more common.

    The most notable measure is a proposal to require women who wish to terminate a pregnancy to undergo a medically-unnecessary ultrasound. More specifically, it’s the practical effects of the bill that are truly breathtaking: most women in Virginia seeking first-trimester abortions will be required by the state to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, regardless of the wishes of the woman or her physician.

    As more Americans hear about this, conservatives are starting to offer a defense of the Virginia bill. George Mason University’s Tyler Cowen tweeted over the weekend, “All of a sudden requiring consumers to be informed is extremely unpopular on ‘the pro-regulation side.'” (via John Cole)

    So, as Cowen sees it, women who wish to terminate their pregnancies are simply ignorant — a problem politicians in Virginia can fix by way of invasive and unnecessary medical procedures, mandated by the state, overriding the judgment of medical professionals. Say hello to the principles of “limited government,” 21st-century style.

    CNN contributor Dana Loesch, on her radio show, was even more dismissive of complaints about state-mandated mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds.

    “That’s the big thing that progressives are trying to say, that it’s rape and so on and so forth. And in fact, this big battle that I’ve, uh, totally won with Keith Olbermann by the way, like, not only won once but twice and three times. Uh, there were individuals saying, ‘Oh what about the Virginia rape? The rapes that, the forced rapes of women who are pregnant?’ What?

    “Wait a minute, they had no problem having similar to a trans-vaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy.”

    It’s a stunning perspective. As Dahlia Lithwick explained last week, “Proponents seem to be of the view that once a woman has allowed a man to penetrate her body once, her right to bodily autonomy has ended…. [I]f you are willing to submit to sex and/or an abortion, the state should be allowed to penetrate your body as well.”

    It’s clearly the approach adopted by GOP policymakers in the Commonwealth, and now it’s apparently the principal defense of their allies.

    Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding the Virginia proposal is quickly gaining traction as a national scandal, and over the weekend, it was criticized on “Saturday Night Live.”

  13. rikyrah says:

    February 20, 2012 10:13 AM

    Who’s Winning in Michigan?

    There has been an intense amount of interest in Public Policy Polling’s latest survey of the Republican presidential primary in Michigan. It shows Rick Santorum leading Mitt Romney by a 37- 33 margin. But the headline—“Romney Gaining On Santorum In Michigan”—is the real source of interest, because it confirms exactly what most “experts” had expected, thanks to Romney’s large spending advantage in Michigan, and the general feeling that Santorum was becoming a bit unhinged on the campaign trail.

    Nate Silver, however, argues convincingly that PPI’s earlier Michigan poll, which showed Santorum racing out to a 15-point lead, was probably an outlier (with a sample showing a suspiciously huge evangelical vote, for one thing). Moreover, the new poll doesn’t seem to show Santorum exactly weakening: his approval-disapproval ratios remain very good, and he continues to beat Romney decisively among the most conservative elements of the MI electorate. Romney’s own favorability is improving, which probably reflects the fact that much of his early MI advertising has been “biographical” rather than “comparative” or negative.

    So one popular idea—that Michigan is the new Florida, and Santorum’s eventual decline and fall in the former state is as inevitable as Newt Gingrich’s was in the latter—isn’t really based on empirical evidence, so far. Perhaps Mitt or his Super PAC will go savagely negative on Santorum in Michigan between now and February 28, and perhaps it won’t backfire. But that all remains to be seen.

    The one thing that is clear is that Wednesday’s CNN-sponsored debate in AZ—which could be the last in the entire contest—could be a very big deal, not only in AZ but in MI, where voters are likely to be watching pretty closely. I’d say the crucial moments for MI, and maybe the whole GOP nomination contest, could be how Team Romney assesses the situation right after that debate, and whether it decides it has to go crazy negative on Santorum in order to avoid a potential two-state calamity on February 28.

  14. rikyrah says:

    What Santorum considers a ‘phony theology’
    By Steve Benen

    Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:15 AM EST

    Like all Republican presidential candidates, Rick Santorum tends to be unrelenting in his daily criticisms of President Obama. But over the weekend, the former senator broke some new and unsettling ground.

    At another stop in Ohio on Saturday, Mr. Santorum waded into what he called the “phony theology” of Mr. Obama’s agenda.

    “It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology,” he said. “But no less a theology.”

    In later comments to reporters, Mr. Santorum said while there are “a lot of different stripes” of Christianity, he believes that “if the president says he’s a Christian, he’s a Christian.”

    Given the larger context — the right has questioned the sincerity of Obama’s faith for many years — Santorum assertion about a “phony theology” certainly appears to be part of a larger smear, though the former senator has denied that was his intention.

    But in many respects, Santorum’s new attack is even more troubling than its face-value ugliness. Since when is it the job of presidential candidates to question others’ theology? The Santorum camp later said he was simply referring to the president’s worldview, but notice that the Republican candidate used the word “theology” four times in three sentences. Santorum was, in other words, trying to make a specific point.

    And that point, apparently, was the notion that Obama is motivated by a religion that is “not … based on the Bible.” Santorum wants to be a president — and he also wants to be a canonical judge of all things scriptural, which isn’t exactly in the Article II job description.

    We can take this even further. As the GOP candidate sees it, Obama is driven by “some phony theology,” whereas President Santorum would presumably be guided by a real theology (one “based on the Bible”). Perhaps now would be a good time to remind Santorum that the separation of church and state is a principle fundamental to the American system of government. Our leaders take an oath to uphold the Constitution, not one man’s interpretation of a holy book.

    This is not, in other words, a theocracy. Criticizing a rival for refusing to base his or her governing vision on the appropriate “theology” is wholly at odds not only with First Amendment principles, but with the American tradition itself.

    For its part, the Obama camp saw Santorum’s latest rhetoric as “well over the line.” Under the circumstances, it’s hard to disagree.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Why would a politician attack pre-natal testing?
    By Steve Benen

    Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:50 AM EST

    Associated Press

    The anti-pre-natal testing candidate.

    Over the last few years, there’s been no shortage of attacks from the right against the Affordable Care Act, but going after provisions related to pre-natal testing appears to be a new one.

    Rick Santorum accused President Obama of requiring free prenatal testing in the health care plan he signed in 2010 because it would detect if children were disabled, encourage more abortions and save money.

    “One of the things that you don’t know about ObamaCare in one of the mandates is they require free prenatal testing,” Santorum began telling about 400 people here. “Why? Because free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and, therefore, less care that has to be done, because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society. That too is part of ObamaCare — another hidden message as to what president Obama thinks of those who are less able than the elites who want to govern our country.”

    CBS’s Bob Schieffer pressed Santorum on this point yesterday, saying, “You sound like you’re saying that the purpose of pre-natal care is to cause people to have abortions.” The Republican presidential hopeful didn’t back down, arguing, “[A] lot of pre-natal tests are done to identify deformities in utero and the customary procedure is to encourage abortions.”

    Even for Santorum, this is low.

    For one thing, medical experts know Santorum’s line is nonsense. As MSNBC’s First Read explained, “There is value in pre-natal testing, because it can detect potential problems in utero or at delivery and allow parents and doctors to get the proper care for their child.”

    For another, trying to turn pre-natal care into yet another culture-war battle is ridiculous. University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack, an expert in health policy, added, “Santorum’s comments are only made uglier by their utter lack of foundation. There is no evidence whatsoever that liberals — let alone President Obama — are less solicitious or caring about the disabled than other Americans. I’ve never heard any liberal health policy wonk promote genetic technologies to ‘cull the ranks of the disabled’ or as part of any cost-cutting plan. That ugly meme is completely made up. By any reasonable measure, the proliferation of genetic diagnostic technologies coincides with great progress in public acceptance and support for people with disabilities.”

  16. rikyrah says:

    Let’s Look at Mississippi

    by BooMan
    Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 10:18:18 AM EST

    In 2008, John McCain carried Mississippi with 56% of the vote to Obama’s 43%. This was a significant improvement over 2004, when Kerry was beaten 59%-40%. You can examine where Obama did better or worse than Kerry by comparing the 2004 and 2008 exit polls. One obvious area is among women. In 2004, there was no gender gap in Mississippi. Both women and men gave Bush 59% of the vote. In 2008, McCain won the support of 62% of men but only 53% of women. In 2004, Kerry won 14% of the white vote. In 2008, Obama only carried 11% of the white vote. Obviously, black turnout was much higher in 2008. Kerry also did better with the 18-29 voter, carrying 63% compared to Obama’s 56%..

    Now, one thing that kind of leaps off the page is that it is remarkable for a candidate to win only 11% of the white vote but to still carry 43% of the electorate. There are a lot of black folks in Mississippi. The white folks didn’t much like Obama, but then they didn’t much like John Kerry, either. It appears that Obama outperformed Kerry mainly by appealing better to women and by inspiring an historic turnout from the black community. And, while he underperformed with the youth vote, he still did quite well. Those kids are older now, and many of them are in the crucial 30-39 age category this time around.

    One last thing to consider is that John McCain received 94% of the white born again/evangelical vote, which constituted 46% of the electorate. If there is even a single point of erosion in that number because, say, Mitt Romney is a Mormon, that’s a lot of votes.

    Now, these numbers show that Mississippi is probably the most racially polarized state in the country. White folks vote Republican and black folks vote Democratic, and there just isn’t much cross-over at all. That makes it very difficult for a Democrat to overcome the white-majority demographics of the state. Yet, younger whites cross-over more than older whites. In 2008, white women crossed over more than white men. And white evangelical voters, who are a strong plurality of the electorate, are the most reliable Republicans.

    In order to win in Mississippi, the president must sustain high turnout among blacks, do better in the under-40 vote, and improve on his progress with white women. If there is any erosion in the Republicans’ support among white evangelicals, it will have a bigger impact in Mississippi than anywhere else in the country. Can he do that?

    It’s a tall order, but both Santorum and Romney offer a path. Romney’s most obvious vulnerability is his faith. Can a Mormon win 94% of the white evangelical vote in Mississippi? I kind of doubt it. At a minimum, I would expect less enthusiasm and lower turnout. It’s also worth noting how badly John Kerry did in the state. Branded as a flip-flopper, the moderate Massachusetts senator simply couldn’t connect with the white voters of the state. It’s hard to exaggerate how much better John McCain’s biography and style fit Mississippi than Mitt Romney’s are likely to do.

    Rick Santorum’s weakness is among young voters who support gay rights and among women who don’t want politicians telling them that they can’t have their health care cover prenatal screening or birth control. If you make a frontal assault on white women’s health care plans, you’re going to see an erosion in your support, even among white evangelical voters in Mississippi.

    I chose to look at Mississippi because it is iconic as a conservative state with racially polarized politics. It should be one of the most unlikely places in the country for a black, liberal president to win an election. This is, again, a state where Obama only won 11% of the white vote in 2008.

    Obama won’t dedicate many, if any, resources to winning the state because he doesn’t need its Electoral Votes. Of course, the reverse is probably true, too. The Republicans will not be investing in Mississippi because if it is not safe, they have no hope of winning the general election. Yet, it is not crazy to speculate that Obama might have a chance in Mississippi this time around. The main reason is the severe weakness of his likely opponents. The Republicans cannot afford any significant erosion of their advantage with white evangelicals or women, and the younger voters are voting Democratic while the older, most conservative, voters are dying off.

    Maybe some mathematicians can look at the 2008 exit polls and election results and figure out what Obama needs to do to hit 50%.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Why I’m Bullish
    by BooMan
    Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:43:50 AM EST

    I think Steve M. is concerned that I’ve lost my mind and am guilty of engaging in some irrational exuberance about Obama’s chances of winning a landslide reelection. I want to make clear that when I talk about Obama winning 35 or 38 states, I am not making a prediction. I’m talking about a potential maximum upside. Steve thinks the maximum for a Democrat is 33 states. I think it’s probably 38 states. That difference of opinion is really the main distinction between what he’s saying and what I’m saying. But there’s also a difference in confidence that Obama will win at all. Steve is concerned. Given the stakes, I’m concerned too, but I am very confident.

    There are reasons to worry. The Republicans are going to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands, perhaps even as many as two million likely Democratic voters through Photo ID laws, eliminating or shortening early voting, and other devious schemes. The Citizens United ruling ensures that corporations can make up for any money advantage the president has over the Republican nominee. The economy is still weak and unemployment will be still be high, by historical standards, in November. And who knows what crises might pop up to change the mood of the country? So, it’s best to not get complacent.

    So, on what do I base my confidence? First, there’s the president and his campaign team. After you watched Michael Jordan win his first championship, did you ever worry that he wouldn’t win more? Or, if you prefer football, think about Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. Some teams are born champions. They are a cut above everyone else. Barack Obama and his campaign team are better at elections than anyone in history. And now they have the advantages of incumbency and four years to prepare. Are you impressed by Mitt Romney’s campaign team? Does anyone else even have a campaign team?

    Second, despite the Republicans’ best efforts to keep Democrats from voting, they’re trying to block a firehose with their thumbs. The electorate of 2012 is going to be younger and browner than the electorate of 2008. There’s a good chance that Obama will improve his performance among Latinos by better than 10 points, and there will be many more Latino voters to pool from.

    Third, the president will be running a very positive and upbeat campaign reminiscent of Reagan’s 1984 Morning in America campaign that won 49 states. Romney or Santorum will be running a relentlessly negative campaign filled will apocalyptic downer language. People generally vote for the optimistic candidate.

    Fourth, the Republicans are trying to convince the voters that stuff they advocated four or eight or eighteen years ago is the most radical stuff ever when proposed and implemented by the president. But that’s all hypocritical bullshit that takes a fortune to sustain. Meanwhile, the Republicans are proposing very radical and deeply unpopular policies on entitlements, on birth control, and even on foreign policy. People do not like what they are selling.

    Finally, there are the candidates. Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are two of the least appealing presidential candidates in modern American history. Santorum excels in offending people. Romney excels at nothing. A politician (from either party) with average political skills should be able to win at least 41-42% of the popular vote. But these are not average politicians. These are the worst politicians to reach this echelon in living memory. We’ve seen ridiculous running mates before, but we’ve never seen anything as ridiculous as Mitt Romney trying to connect by talking about the height of the trees in Michigan or telling us that his dog had a great time on top of the car. No party has ever even considered nominating anyone half as divisive and unpopular as Rick Santorum.

    So, we’re talking about a contest much like when the Harlem Globetrotters take on the Washington Senators. Or like when Mike Tyson fought Michael Spinks.

    The president won 53% of the vote in 2008 when he was untested. He took 53% despite running against a national war hero, despite being black, despite having a pastor who said ‘God Damn America,’ and despite being named Barack Saddam Hussein Osama Obama. The president is tested now. The economy is on the mend, the auto industry is saved, the Iraq War is over, and bin Laden is dead.

    So, to summarize, the president should do better than he did last time among every group the Republicans have been offending, including public service workers, women, gays, auto workers, Latinos, Muslims, environmentalists, the unemployed, college students, etc. Some core Democratic constituencies will be larger in 2012 than they were in 2008, especially Latinos. The president’s team has been gearing up for this for four years. Their opponents have not even been assembled. The president has a positive message and a lot of accomplishments to tout. The Republicans have neither of those things.

    There’s very little reason to believe that he won’t do better this time around than he did last time. If he were facing a reassuring, optimistic, and well-respected opponent, things would be different. But he’s not. Barry Goldwater was a much better and more serious candidate for office than Romney or Santorum.

    And the secret is that Obama doesn’t have to do all that much better than he did in 2008 in order to start winning in some very red states, including several that Steve assumes are unwinnable.

    I respect Steve’s views. I respect his caution. I’d ask him, though, to really take a long look at Romney and Santorum. Try to imaging them winning anywhere. Candidates matter. Clinton would have beaten Bush in 1988 and Dukakis would have lost to Bush in 1992.

    If Obama improves his performance by just 7% in states his lost in 2008, here’s the 10 new states he will win.

    Arizona 52/47
    Georgia 54/45
    Mississippi 50/49
    Missouri 56/42
    Montana 54/43
    North Dakota 54/44
    South Carolina 52/47
    South Dakota 52/46
    Texas 51/49
    West Virginia 50/49

    Steve assures us that no Democrat can win Mississippi, Montana, either of the Dakotas, or West Virginia. Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? Take a look at the numbers. We’re closer to winning Texas than we to winning West Virginia. That’s a big change. Montana really isn’t that heavy of a lift.

    The nice thing about this kind of dispute is that we get to find out what happens and who was closer to being correct. I’m not saying Obama will win in a landslide. I’m saying that I see all the signs I’d expect to see on the way to a landslide. Let’s hope I’m right.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Incoherence in the Name of God

    by John Cole

    These people are sick:

    Santorum recalled his prominent role in the 1990s debates over the controversial procedure that critics call partial-birth abortion. He lambasted the president’s health care law requiring insurance policies to include free prenatal testing, “because free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and therefore less care that has to be done because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society.”

    So, to recap, Santorum opposes prenatal screening by prospective parents because they might abort their horribly deformed child who won’t live anyway outside the womb, but wants to enforce state sanctioned invasive procedures for those who choose to have an abortion, because you sluts already stuck some shit up there, so now you need to see pictures. Basically, what Santorum thinks should be the norm is a pregnancy as lottery standard. You miss your period, cross your fingers and hang on for nine months, because Allah God will mystify you at the end with either a healthy child you didn’t want, or maybe a child you were hoping to have but which had it’s heart on the outside of its body and will die 2 hours after birth.

    It’s hard to emphasize how fucked up this guy’s worldview is, and it is not hyperbole to state he wants to take us back to the days of leeches and phlogiston. These are very sick, sick, people, and come from a long tradition of people for whom power and control are more important than logic, reason, individual autonomy, and science. See also, Galileo.

    Rick Santorum, quite simply, is a monster in a sweater vest. And where was he when this happened?

  19. rikyrah says:

    Breaking: Republicans oppose regulation of large employers and health insurance companies

    by Kay

    Boring headline, but factual.

    Here’s what he said:

    Santorum said he was talking specifically about some, but not all, prenatal testing, and not about prenatal care in general.

    “There are all sorts of prenatal testing which should be provided free,” Santorum said. “I have no problem with that if the insurance companies want to. I’m not for any of these things to be forced.”

    Rick Santorum opposes all mandated coverage without co-pays. Rick Santorum is linking mandated coverage to abortion because it’s politically beneficial to him to do so. It doesn’t matter if the mandated coverage without co-pays is screening for gestational diabetes or amniocentesis, so this is (of course) not about abortion because screening for gestational diabetes without a co-pay (for example) has nothing to do with abortion, and Santorum opposes that, too. I know that because that’s what he said.

    There’s really no reason to discuss amniocentesis specifically, other than the fact that media swallowed Santorum’s carefully calculated and misleading framing whole and thus discussed only what he wants to discuss.

    How about this headline: Rick Santorum is protecting large employers and health insurance companies, and he’s using disabled children to do that.

    The conservative opposition to mandated coverage in insurance policies is about opposing federal regulation of health insurance companies and large employers, not abortion, because conservatives oppose all mandated coverage without co-pays. All of the rest of this over-heated nonsense is misdirection.

    No one ever asked the religious leaders what other sections of the health care law that apply to large employers they opposed, and that’s a shame, because that would have been a very good question.

  20. Ametia says:

    February 20, 2012
    Debunking the “Entitlement Society” Myth
    Posted by Linda H on 7:01 AM

    Contrary to claims that government benefit programs are creating a dependent class of Americans who are losing the desire to work and would rather collect government benefits than find a job, a major report we issued today finds that these programs’ benefits go overwhelmingly to people who are elderly, disabled, or members of working households.

    Read on

  21. rikyrah says:

    February 20, 2012
    Yep, now Santorum does the Hitler thing

    I just performed a Google News search of “Santorum” and “Obama” and “Hitler” and I got only one direct match to the most despicable comparison yet made by this most despicable of GOP pols. Only, of Western New York, states it with some forthrightness, although even WGRZ is not altogether unambiguous: “Last night, Rick Santorum seemed to compare President Obama to Hitler.”

    Here’s what this little man of immense contemptibility had to say, which the Washington Post’s “Election 2012” blog cravenly labels as merely “an extended World War II analogy”:

    [R]emember, the Greatest Generation, for a year and a half, sat on the sidelines while Europe was under darkness…. America sat from 1940, when France fell, to December of ’41, and did almost nothing.

    Why? Because we’re a hopeful people. We think, ‘Well, you know, he’ll get better. You know, he’s a nice guy. I mean, it won’t be near as bad as what we think. This’ll be okay.’ Oh yeah, maybe he’s not the best guy, and after a while, you found out things about this guy over in Europe, and he’s not so good of a guy after all. But you know what? Why do we need to be involved? We’ll just take care of our own problems … and we’ll be okay….

    [S]ometimes it’s not okay. It’s going to be harder for this generation to figure this out…. You understand it — you’re here. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t get it. But what about the rest of America, do they understand what’s happening? Is anybody telling them what’s happening?

    How could any sober journalist fail to interpret that hateful drivel as anything but a direct Obama-Hitler comparison?

  22. Ametia says:

    This might be a repeat post; but I’m trying to catch up. BWA HA HAAAAAAAAAA

  23. rikyrah says:

    February 19, 2012
    Santorum is no Goldwater

    Rick Santorum, yesterday, in Ohio, circumambulating from bigotry and ignorance and incoherence to bigotry and ignorance and incohence and, finally, back to bigotry and ignorance and incoherence:

    [The president’s agenda is] … about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology, but no less a theology….

    The Catholic church has a theology that says this is wrong, and he’s saying no I’ve got a different … you may want to call it a theology, you may want to call it secular values, whatever you want to call it, it’s a different moral values….

    [T]hat’s not a new low…. I should go back, it is a new low. The president has reached a new low in this country’s history of oppressing religious freedom that we have never seen before.

    We are forever being “reassured” by Rick Santorum himself and Santorum’s staff and Santorum’s party allies and Santorum’s press contingent and the media at large that Rick Santorum is a different kind of political threat to Mitt Romney (not to mention Barack Obama), in that Rick Santorum actually believes the vile crap that spews so habitually from his bigoted, shockingly ignorant and often incoherent mouth. This “authenticity,” we are further assured, is what makes Santorum so appealing to so many of the few who have with great pluck remained in the disintegrating Grand Old Party.

    At long last, (we are also informed), Rick Santorum is a man who genuinely represents the core values of today’s movement conservatism, itself set in motion some half-century ago, by Goldwaterism.

    With considerably greater freedom of rhetorical movement than Mitt Romney, I protest, on Mr. Romney’s behalf. For the very last thing that movement conservatism’s first man ever genuinely embraced was the topic of “moral values.” It made his thinning, libertarian hair stand on end; he was viscerally repulsed by it; he had always viewed politics and policy as public, but religion and morality as properly private; he was nonetheless ensnared into the maelstrom of cultural morality by desperate advisers (with an irresistible assist from Walter Jenkins).

    But movement conservatism — today, Santorumism — as true Goldwaterism? No way. There is simply no ideological lineage there; in fact, there is only remarkable hostility.

    Mitt, I know you can’t say that, because a) your party’s primary base is overrepresented by hallucinatory buffoons who b) have never read objective history and c) are contemptuous of all things even remotely related to actual enlightenment, but I can.

  24. Ametia says:

    Wow! nothing’s changed … ememe PBO’s in trouble; those gas prices are RISING!!!! SHEESH

  25. rikyrah says:

    February 19, 2012
    The GOP Manifesto

    This morning, on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Michele Bachmann candidly and accurately summarized her party’s collective transcendence of Ronald Reagan’s sunny, can-do optimism:

    There is no future, there is no hope with President Obama having a second term.

    Where does one go from there? When apocalyptic finality becomes your party’s core message, nothing else matters — everything hinges on that singular potential.

    What should we do about taxes, entitlements, energy independence, as well as nuclear proliferation and the South Pacific and Afghanistan? Such questions are insignificant, in fact they’re immaterial. Because, remember? With a two-term Obama — which there will be — there is no hope, no future. It’s all over. It’s all over; there’s no point in discriminating between the little all-overs and the big all-overs. It is all, all of it, over. There’s to be no hope. And no future.

    And it can’t get any uniformly bleaker than that.

    When the doom fails to materialize, as it will, the uninebriated, majority portion of the 2016 electorate will pause to watch Joe Biden’s presidential campaign ads. He’ll need only one: that one clip, from 2012, when Michele Bachmann appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” to summarize her party’s self-dooming transcendence of Ronald Reagan’s optimism — that under a reelected Obama, there will be no future.

  26. rikyrah says:

    From Knife Seller to the President’s Hard Edge
    Published: February 20, 2012

    David Plouffe is not a hugger, crier or someone who gets all gaga every time he walks into his West Wing office, just a few feet from that of the president. He disdains doomsayers as “bed-wetters,” press hordes as “jackals” and the political noise machine as a profanity that begins with “cluster.”

    Fiercely data-driven, Mr. Plouffe revels in the company of spreadsheets, lists, maps and the Baseball Almanac. Fiercely competitive, he once decked a colleague in a friendly touch football game for taunting him. Fiercely unsentimental, he expends zero amazement over his career climb from selling knives door to door to a first-among-equals status in the White House’s closed circle.

    Mr. Plouffe, 44, who managed President Obama’s campaign in the relatively dewy-eyed days of 2008, rejoined his team last year after a lucrative hiatus. Since then, he has asserted himself as the main orchestrator of the White House message, political strategy and day-to-day presentation of the candidate.

    If the campaign of four years ago sold Mr. Obama as a force for what Mr. Plouffe called “a politics of unity, hope and common purpose,” this one is rooted firmly in the grind-it-out imperatives of re-election. Today, Mr. Obama seems every bit primed for “brass-knuckle time,” as Mr. Plouffe once termed campaign brawling, with Mr. Plouffe leading an effort that has shown every sign of doing whatever it takes to succeed.

    This month, with Mr. Plouffe’s support, Mr. Obama ditched his long opposition to directing his campaign donors to “super PACs” — outside groups whose bankrolling of negative advertising against his Republican rivals has done much to change politics, and not in a “unity, hope and common purpose” kind of way.

    Mr. Plouffe (pronounced Pluff) has also pushed for a more combative White House stance toward Congressional Republicans and an aggressive early tack against former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, whom the Obama team still views as its most likely and most formidable opponent in November. It was Mr. Plouffe who declared on “Meet the Press” last fall that Mr. Romney had “no core.”

    Intense and self-contained, Mr. Plouffe, who declined to be interviewed for this article, is a temperament alter ego to a president who has always been drawn to loyal fixer types. Mr. Obama, whose favorite movie is “The Godfather,” has compared Mr. Plouffe to a character — a relentless cop played by Mark Wahlberg — in the more recent mob film “The Departed.”

    Mr. Obama’s aides are hesitant about discussing the frequency of Mr. Plouffe’s dealings with the re-election effort led by Jim Messina in Chicago, presumably not wanting to suggest he is running the campaign from the White House. Likewise, they are reluctant to characterize Mr. Plouffe’s relationship with the president as special, or suggest that it trumps that of other top lieutenants, particularly Jacob J. Lew, the new chief of staff (Mr. Plouffe is a stickler for hierarchy).

  27. rikyrah says:

    Report: First lady, daughters on weekend ski vacation in Aspen
    By Meghashyam Mali – 02/19/12 08:08 PM ET

    First lady Michelle Obama and her two daughters are spending the President’s Day weekend in Aspen, Colorado.

    The Obama family arrived in Aspen on Friday for a ski vacation reports the Aspen Daily News.

    The newspaper reports that Mrs. Obama and her daughters are staying at the home of Jim and Paula Crown, owners of the Aspen Skiing Company.

    The Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo confirmed to the paper that he had met with the Secret Service to organize security arrangements and had lent deputies to help protect the Obamas.

    President Obama has remained in Washington this weekend.

    Last year on the President’s Day holiday weekend, Mrs. Obama and her daughters traveled to Vail, Colo.

  28. rikyrah says:

    House Republicans plot repeal of Obama education regulations
    By Pete Kasperowicz – 02/20/12 05:00 AM ET

    House Republicans are looking to move legislation as early as next week that would repeal two Education Department regulations that the GOP say intrude on the authority of states to set education policy.

    The Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education act, H.R. 2117, was placed on the Rules Committee agenda late last week, a signal that the committee will soon meet to write a rule for floor consideration of the bill.

    The legislation would reverse two Education Department rules from 2010, one of which sets out federal rules for how states decide whether to allow colleges and universities to operate within the state. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the sponsor of the bill, said this could pose a problem for online schools, for example by forcing them to win authorization from every state that has an enrolled, online student.

    A second regulation sets a federal definition for “credit hour.” Foxx argues that this definition is based on how many hours a student is in class, but ignores other ways students might be learning.

    In both cases, Foxx argues that the 2010 rules infringe on the authority of states to establish their own guidelines, and could stifle innovations in education.

    “At the end of the day, the unnecessary state authorization and credit hour regulations will reduce local control and create uncertainty in postsecondary education,” she said in last year’s markup of the bill. “Instead of over-regulating the nation’s higher education system, we should focus our efforts on simplifying federal involvement and streamlining regulatory burdens.”

    The Rules Committee set an amendment deadline for the bill of Monday, February 27, a sign that the committee could approve a rule soon thereafter, which would be followed by floor consideration.

  29. Happy President’s Day, President Barack Obama!

  30. ThinkProgress @thinkprogress:

    “Last night, Rick Santorum seemed to compare President Obama to Hitler.”

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