Serendipity SOUL | Thursday Open Thread | India Irie Week!


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82 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Thursday Open Thread | India Irie Week!

  1. Bill Maher Presents Obama Super PAC With $1 Million Check At End Of Comedy Performance

  2. Tunisia ‏ @symmetry11:

    Lawsuit claims Obama can’t be president because he’s ‘mulatto’

  3. Counter-Trafficking in Persons Policy

  4. Ametia says:

    Here’s a classic

    Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack of Black Privilege in the Age of Obama

    1. I know that the success of Barack Obama has been unsettling for many White Americans–especially those whom would normally be the default choice for appointment to the highest levels of the United States government. I understand that this change can be quite upsetting. I promise to be more empathetic to your pain and to be more patient in my efforts to understand the roots of your discontent.

    2. I have the luxury of knowing that I only have to be twice as good as my White colleagues and peers to be considered for the same position. My broad range of skills are an unfair advantage in the workplace because they have afforded me opportunities to take on tasks and responsibilities that my White colleagues have often been denied.

    3. Positive character traits such as humility and hard work are cultivated in me because I know that I am held to a higher standard lest I be considered “lazy” or “arrogant” by my supervisors and peers.

    4. People of color have long dominated the evening news. We are disproportionately represented in the coverage of many types of news stories, especially those that feature reports of violent, criminal behavior. Moreover, with Barack Obama’s domination of the evening news, the hyper-visibility of people of color is further encouraged in the mainstream media. To remedy this, I will do my best to support an increase in the amount of attention given to White people in the evening news and by popular culture at large.

    5. I can go shopping most of the time knowing that I will be given extra attention. Furthermore, this extra attention to my safety through requests for identification when I would like to use a credit card or debit card are for my own protection. My fellow White shoppers are not afforded this level of concern or assistance.

    6. In my professional life, I am blessed to be around people of a different race most of the time. This is very empowering and stimulating. Ultimately, this is an unearned advantage in a world that is increasingly diverse.

    7. I am often asked to speak for people of my own race. With Barack Obama’s election, I have to do this even more frequently. This privilege is unfair because it contributes to my intellectual, emotional, and social growth in ways that White people are not generally afforded.

    8. Linked fate. Barack Obama’s success or failure reflects on me personally. Likewise, my success or failure reflects on Barack Obama. This sense of connectedness and lack of relative anonymity is wonderfully empowering for all people of color.

    9. I can find the literature, music, and movies that represent my culture neatly cordoned off and near the front of the store for my convenience.

    10. I know that my race is always an asset and never a liability. At will, I can play the “race card” and win any debate or dispute.

  5. Ametia says:

    Posted at 06:24 PM ET, 02/23/2012
    Same-sex marriage bill approved by Maryland Senate

    By Aaron C. Davis

    A bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland was approved by the state Senate, which advanced a measure that narrowly cleared the House of Delegates last week.

    The final vote by the state Senate ended a yearlong drama in Annapolis over the legislation, and marked the first time an East Coast state south of the Mason-Dixon line has supported gay nuptials.

    With the vote, the measure moves to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who has said he will sign it.

    Maryland would join the District and seven states in allowing same-sex marriages. Supporters have cast the bill as a major advance in equal rights. Opponents have called it a misguided attempt to redefine the institution of marriage.

    Despite one of the largest Democratic majorities in any state legislature, backers of gay marriage in Maryland had to overcome fierce opposition from blocks of African American lawmakers and those with strong Catholic and evangelical views to cobble together coalitions big enough to pass both chambers.

  6. Hey guys!

    Haley made the Honor Roll…AGAIN! Woot!

    Reading 80
    Language 82
    Math 94
    Science 99
    Social Studies 92

    And she received a perfect attendance award for the whole year… up to the 4th six weeks.

  7. Black Republican Women

    Our First Black President May Be Our Last

    Too many of our families are broken, too many of us are morally degenerate and too many of us are willing to blame all of our pathology on slavery…

  8. Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Says Satan is Responsible for President Obama’s 2008 Victory

  9. rikyrah says:

    Thu Feb 23, 2012 at 08:16 AM PST.

    Virginia abortion bill moves back to Senate, where it will likely fail

    by Joan McCarter .

    After Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell withdrew his support from the state-sponsored rape abortion bill the House of Delegates was about to vote on, the House altered the bill. They removed the newly-discovered-as-invasive trans-vaginal ultrasound portion of the bill, leaving just a plain old unnecessary and not-medically advised ultrasound mandate.
    That has likely doomed the bill.

    The amended bill now returns to the Senate where its sponsor, Sen. Jill Vogel, said she will strike the legislation. A House version, by Del. Kathy Byron, is pending before a Senate committee.
    Sen. Jill Vogel seems unnaturally determined to punish the state’s women, which is probably going to make her increasingly unpopular with a state Republican party slowly waking up to the fact that their constituents just aren’t clamoring for extremism.

  10. rikyrah says:

    A Sea of Nonsense and Lies

    by BooMan
    Thu Feb 23rd, 2012 at 12:15:30 PM EST

    I remember back when Obama first came into office and he was trying to stop the free-fall in the economy, polling consistently showed that the auto bailout was the least popular of his emergency measures. Of course, the bailout originated with the Bush administration which provided a bridge-loan to keep the industry afloat until Obama could settle on a strategy. I was always a little confused about why people were so hostile to the idea of saving the auto industry. I have deep roots in Michigan and went to college there, so I understand the culture. And I kind of chalked up the national polling numbers to the fact that most people are not familiar with Michigan’s culture and did not understand the kind of devastation they were facing. I’ve read that even today, though, Republicans in Michigan oppose the bailout. I don’t know how to explain that at all. My best guess is that the right-wing media wurlitzer is so effective at reaching Republican voters that it can make them believe anything, no matter how contrary to their experience and culture.

    It’s a mystery to me that Mitt Romney is polling even with Santorum in Michigan. After advocating a liquidation of General Motors and Chrysler, I’m surprised Romney can even walk freely in the state. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) does a great job of eviscerating Romney’s positions on the bailout in today’s Detroit Free Press.

    Romney has criticized President Barack Obama for not arranging a “managed bankruptcy” for General Motors and Chrysler, which he called his preferred option. Of course, managed bankruptcy is precisely what happened to both companies. Romney has claimed that his real problem is the government’s financing of the automakers’ bankruptcies. Of course, private financing was impossible in the midst of the worst financial crisis in generations. Government refusal to provide financing would have been the death knell for both companies.

    Having lost those two arguments, Romney is trying out two new ones. They appear to boil down to this: Bond speculators should have been protected at the expense of workers, and taxpayers should dump our investment in GM now, even if it means we take a bath.

    I know it’s a little complicated, but the bottom line is that what Mitt Romney advocated was to let the automakers go broke. He wanted the government to stay out of it, which would have meant that the companies would have had to liquidate in order to pay off their creditors. They would have gone out of business. The option Romney advocated wasn’t possible because there was no private capital available. That’s the key fact in this dispute. If you can’t agree on that fact, then you’re just engaging in bullshit.

    Now, Romney has tried to contort himself in countless ways to explain away his original position. He’s said that the government actually followed his advice and took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy. But his advice was for the government to stay out of it. He’s said that his problem is the shareholders took a bath and the unions got a sweet deal. That’s an odd stance to take politically, and it ignores that the unions took a gigantic hit themselves. And he’s argued that the government should divest itself from GM immediately, even though, as Senator Levin points out, that would be a very unwise way to manage the taxpayers’ money.

    This is what happens when you take a poll-driven position that is wrong on the merits. Romney opposed the bailout because he saw it as a way to score political points. Because the bailout was deeply unpopular, he assumed that he’d be well-placed later on for having opposed it. And so one piece of bullshit begat another and begat another and begat another. In the end, Romney wound up in the same place he wound up with ObamaCare, out on an island surrounded by a sea of contradictory nonsense and lies, looking like the most inauthentic man to ever run for high office.

  11. rikyrah says:

    Thu Feb 23, 2012 at 10:41 AM PST.
    If Latinos really do decide 2012, GOP is in serious trouble
    by kos

    Emailed excerpts from that article in Time (which still exists, surprisingly):

    Pollsters in both parties believe that just softening the tone could move GOP numbers dramatically. Most Latinos still point to bread-and-butter issues like jobs and the economy as chief concerns, and on the specifics of how immigration policies should be reformed, there is a diversity of Latino opinion. … Obama still faces his own climb back with many Latino voters. After promising to implement immigration reform in his first year in office—and winning 67% of the Latino vote in 2008—Obama opted instead to push health care reform and global-warming bills. At the same time, he has overseen a dramatic increase in deportations. … [A] January poll by Univision and Latino Decisions found that 37% of Hispanics said Democrats did not care about their vote and 9% characterized Democrats as hostile.”
    It’s true that there is a great deal of disenchantment among Latinos for President Barack Obama and his administration. The lack of progress on comprehensive immigration reform grates, but nothing like the bragging by Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security about the record number of deportations the last several years.
    Now in campaign mode, Obama has taken some steps to ease those deportations, but people aren’t forgetting that easily.

    However, anyone interpreting that discontent as an opening for Republicans is seriously kidding themselves. Nine percent of Latinos are hostile to the administration? Heavens! Of course, those are Cubans in Miami, who live to hate on Democrats, so big freakin’ deal. Fact is, Latinos continue to give Obama some of his best numbers.

    More below the fold.

    According to our most recent Daily Kos/SEIU weekly poll, African Americans give Obama an 85 percent approval, Latinos are at 66 percent, while whites are at 40 percent.

    And those numbers don’t represent some recent improvement. Here’s the last few months of Obama’s approval rating among whites, African Americans and Latinos:

    Latinos may not be enamored with Obama, but there’s no opening for Republicans. It’s no different than the way many of us feel about the president—we think he could be doing better, but we’re not about to vote Republican as a result.
    And why would they? There’s nothing that drives Latinos more nuts than Arizona’s racist SB 1070, and the GOP rhetoric employed to justify it. And if there was ever any doubt about the ability of this current crop of Republicans to win significant Latino support, Mitt Romney eliminated it during last night’s debate:

  12. rikyrah says:

    Rhetoric Won’t Save You

    by BooMan
    Thu Feb 23rd, 2012 at 09:59:46 AM EST

    At this point, pretty much every day brings a slew of new articles about how Republican insiders are “concerned about the tone.” Today we have a typical piece from Politico that frames it like this:

    In 2008, after Republicans were routed in the presidential and congressional elections, there was widespread consensus within elite GOP circles about the party’s structural problems: The Republican voter base was too old, too white, too male and too strident for the party to prosper long term in a country growing ever more diverse.

    Four years later, many of the same GOP leaders are watching with rising dismay as the 2012 presidential campaign has featured excursions into social issues like contraception and a sprint by the candidates to strike the toughest stance against illegal immigration, issues they say are far removed from the workaday concerns of the independent voters Republicans need to evict Barack Obama from the White House.

    Rather than point out that these same GOP insiders are responsible for this situation, I want to talk about a problem with how they view their predicament.

    “We can still be a party that’s for border security and one that at the same time says, ‘Hey we’re not an anti-immigrant party,’” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, himself the son of Indian immigrants. “As a country and as a party, we’re not people who are going to turn people away from the emergency room. … We don’t need to change our ideology. We need to be more articulate in voicing the aspirational spirit of America.”

    Gov. Jindal says that the Republicans can solve their problems simply by being more articulate. I hear progressives make that same argument all the time, usually with reference to George Lakoff’s framing theories. The idea is that the American people are really progressive/conservative on the issues, and we just need to sell our ideas in a more attractive way. In certain circumstances, that might be true. Going after the Virginia ultrasound law by calling it state-sponsored rape was pretty effective framing. It won a partial concession. But it was a pretty empty victory. If Virginians want to prevent the Republicans from stampeding them, they need to follow Wisconsin’s example, not rely on clever messaging. Organizing trumps messaging every single time.

    The Republicans’ problems stem from an increasingly unpopular agenda. They depend almost entirely on messaging (being articulate) to get their agenda enacted. There are almost no signs of any organization in the RNC or any of the presidential campaigns. Romney’s campaign is built almost exclusively on carpet-bombing his opponents to oblivion with false negative advertising, which is just a variation on the Fox News/Hate Radio model.

    At the most basic level, the Republicans’ problem is that there are logical consequences to the lies they’ve been telling themselves for the last thirty years. If health and retirement entitlements are so bad, then they ought to be eliminated. If the government can’t do anything right, then it shouldn’t actually do anything. If abortion is wrong, then it should be criminalized. If climate change isn’t happening then we shouldn’t do anything about it. And, most importantly, if the real objective is to keep America as white and as Christian and as socially conservative as it was in the 1950’s, then there is no room for women, blacks, Latinos, Muslims, or gays in the Republican Party.

    Conservatives have done a great job of organizing to take over the Republican Party, but they seem like the dog that caught the car. The dog doesn’t know how to drive. The dog doesn’t even think a car should drive. That’s why they chased it in the first place. In the first issue of the National Review, William F. Buckley said “It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” I think he launched a movement that succeeded in slowing the government to a stop. But where do the Republicans go from here?

    In other words, conservatives have basically arrived at their destination and now they are in a position to actually act on their rhetoric. And people want no part of their actual agenda, which has been fueled on lies and bullshit and fear and paranoia.

    It’s been all about “articulating” a bunch of crap. Bush the Younger was smart enough to blow most of that rhetoric off once he became president. He didn’t eliminate the Department of Education; he increased its power over local schools. He didn’t eliminate Medicare; he added a prescription drug benefit. And when he tried to destroy Social Security, he had his head handed to him and his party lost control of Congress.

    You can articulate a bunch of bullshit very effectively, but you can’t enact policies that people hate without being punished. The Republicans’ problem boils down to this: they’ve come this far, and now they’re telling people where they really want to go. Or, to be more precise, they’ve come this far, and now they’ve discovered that their voters actually believed the bullshit and actually want them to act on it.

  13. rikyrah says:

    Political Animal
    February 23, 2012 11:10 AM
    Super-PAC Super-Salaries

    By Ed Kilgore

    After reams of publicity about the power and glory of Super-PACs in this presidential cycle, and considerable scrutiny of the antics of big donors like Winning Our Future’s Sheldon Adelson and Red, White and Blue Fund’s Foster Friess, people are finally beginning to pay some attention to how much of this money is spent on items other than nasty ads.

    This report is from yesterday’s Washington Times, in a story that begins with FEC warnings to Newt Gingrich’s campaign about questionable reimbursement of candidate and staff expenses:

    A separate disclosure Monday showed that Becky Burkett, a former top official of a nonprofit Mr. Gingrich headed who now runs a pro-Gingrich super PAC called Winning Our Future, paid herself $220,000 in donated money last month — making more in 20 days than any other super PAC official has made in total since the groups exploded onto the scene, a review by The Times showed.

    Super PAC spokesman Rick Tyler said the payments compensated her for November, December and part of January. The fund brought in its first donation Dec. 7…. [T]hat rate puts the Gingrich confidante on pace for an annual salary in the millions.

    Hmmm. You may recall that Winning Our Future, after its viciously effective attacks on Mitt Romney in SC, was expected to reprise its activities with a blitz in Florida after a fresh subvention of cash from the Adelson family—but didn’t quite come through. Looks like maybe the Super-PAC had other financial fish to fry.

    This small but illuminating incident is a good example of the phenomenon Walter Shapiro wrote about in the last issue of the Monthly: the ongoing overvaluation of the services of political consultants.

    But it’s all a matter of perspective, I guess. As Winning Our Future’s Rick Tyler said when questioned about Becky Burkett’s large income:

    “In this business, we all could be out of a job next — you just don’t know,” he said. “People make more knowing that this could be a short-term contract.”

    Welcome to America, folks.

  14. rikyrah says:

    February 23, 2012

    George Will: It’s over

    After reviewing all the insurmountable flaws, faults, failings, foibles, deficiencies, demerits and defects of the GOP’s double-helix frontrunners, George Will concludes that “Neither … looks like a formidable candidate for November.” Thus the grieving Will exhibits the emotional economy of true conservatism: He’s jumped straight from denial to acceptance, skipping, in the process, all the anger, bargaining and depression.

    It’s already over. You know it, I know it, Obama knows it, Will knows it, every thinking Republican knows it. The great challenge remaining is that of enduring the coming months of GOP lies, distortions, fabrications, falsehoods, slanders and hysterics; and truth be told, this challenge will prove more grueling than any rational contest between competing ideas ever could be.

    The race will test our patience, dignity and equanimity; it will try humanity’s soul — not its intellect. Such is always the greater challenge: deploying smarts against a witless opponent is easy, while maintaining calm in the face of ruthless depravity is an exhausting, potentially dehumanizing trial.

    Am I personally up for it? To borrow from Politico’s keen insight, that remains to be seen.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 12:22 PM ET, 02/23/2012
    Romney: Arizona immigration law a `model’

    By Greg Sargent

    In terms of the impact it could have in November, the most important moment of last night’s debate may have come when Mitt Romney hailed the Arizona immigration law as a “model” for the nation while Sheriff Joe Arpaio beamed approvingly:

    After moderator John King noted that Sheriff Arpaio said it was “political garbage” to not arrest and deport illegal immigrants, and asked Romney if he supported “aggressive” arresting and deportation, Romney went further than just endorsing Arizona’s approach.

    “I think you see a model in Arizona,” Romney said, citing the employment verification system, stepped up border patrols and a border fence as goals for his presidency. “You do that, and just as Arizona is finding out, you can stop illegal immigration,” Romney said, adding that he would halt lawsuits against the Arizona law “on day one.” Santorum went even further.

    I don’t know how this plays among swing voters — some polls have shown national support for the Arizona law — but if Obama and Dems can make this stick, Romney may have ended any hopes of making any real inroads among Latino voters. And that could have far reaching ramifications in the general election.

    One key route to reelection for Obama runs through the western states — what Obama advisers call “the west path.” He can offset expected losses in the Rust Belt but still win reelection by holding on to Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. Demographic shifts in the west — rising minorities and falling numbers of working class whites — are more favorable to Obama than in the Rust Belt and midwest region. Latinos could be pivotal here.

    More broadly, yesterday’s moment crystallizes a broader set of rising concerns among Republican operatives. They worry that the GOP primary is forcing the candidates to take a tone that’s compromising efforts to rebrand the party as forward looking and inclusive. Even before yesterday’s debate, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal warned against coming across as the “anti-immigrant” party, arguing: “We need to be more articulate in voicing the aspirational spirit of America.” And so moment’s like yesterday’s could help damage the GOP in ways that impact November.

    Obama’s own record on immigration has been disappointing in some ways. But as Adam Serwer notes today, by clearly signaling what they would do on immigration as president, the GOP candidates may have saved Obama from his own record and given Latinos a reason to come out for Obama in the numbers he needs.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Romney vs. ‘the fastest-growing voting bloc in the nation’
    By Steve Benen
    Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:35 AM EST.

    Dana Milbank noted last week, “When it comes to Latino voters, Republicans must have un impulso suicida. What else but a death wish could explain the party’s treatment of the fastest-growing voting bloc in the nation?”

    Given recent events, it’s a reasonable question. Mitt Romney, in particular, seems to be going out of his way to antagonize Latino voters, as part of his desperate bid to impress his party’s base. In last night’s debate, for example, he was asked about his preferred approach to immigration policy, and Romney responded, “I think you see a model in Arizona.”

    Arizona, of course, has become synonymous with needlessly drastic and excessive anti-immigrant policies, and if the former governor intends to use the state as a model if he’s elected president, it sends an unmistakable signal to Latino voters about what to expect from a Romney administration. It’s why Democrats quickly pounced on the answer, releasing this video overnight:

    If it were just one area of immigration policy in which Romney moved to the far-right edge of his party, it might be a little easier for him to appear more sensible when he reinvents himself again and starts making appeals for general-election votes. But it’s actually every meaningful area of the debate that’s proving to be problematic — Romney is an inflexible opponent of the DREAM Act; he’s palling around with Pete Wilson and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach; he endorses a “self-deportation” agenda; he’s critical of bilingualism; and his casual dismissals of “amnesty” and “illegals” are a staple of his campaign rhetoric.

    Romney, by any reasonable measure, is the most right-wing candidate on immigration of any competitive presidential hopeful in generations.

    Lionel Sosa, a Texas strategist who advised George W. Bush and John McCain on appealing to Latino voters, recently told the New York Times, “[Romney] can make as many trips to Florida and New Mexico and Colorado and other swing states that have a large Latino population, but he can write off the Latino vote. He’s not going to gain it again.”

    Given the size and significance of this constituency, that’s an enormous risk for an already-unpopular candidate to take.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Giving the auto rescue center stage
    By Steve Benen
    Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:05 PM EST.

    When President Obama launched his rescue of the American auto industry in 2009, it was hard to imagine him running campaign ads on the policy three years later. The move was risky and widely unpopular, and it wasn’t at all clear that the rescue would work — the industry teetering on the brink of collapse might have failed anyway.

    Now, however, we now the policy was a success, and Obama’s re-election campaign plans to take full advantage of the president’s record. Today, Chicago unveiled this new television ad, hitting the Republican field — including Mr. “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” — for getting the policy wrong, and crediting Obama for getting it right.

    Mitt Romney, meanwhile, continues to struggle with the issue. The subject came up in last night’s debate, and here was latest attempt to explain his position:

    “These companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy, just like airlines have, just like other industries have. Go through a managed bankruptcy and if they go through that managed bankruptcy and shed the excessive cost that’s been put on them by the UAW and by their own mismanagement, then if they need help coming out of bankruptcy, the government can provided guarantees and get them back on their feet. No way would we allow the auto industry in America to totally implode and disappear. That was my view. Go through bankruptcy. When that happens, then the market can help lift them out.”

    When debate moderator John King noted concerns that “there was no private capital available” in the midst of a global financial crisis, Romney dodged the question.

    It’s not surprising Romney was uncomfortable with the follow-up because, in reality, the lack of private capital is what makes his entire position on the auto rescue completely incoherent. Like it or not, either the government intervened in the market or the industry fell. Romney may want to pretend otherwise, but those were the choices.

    As for the rest of Romney’s argument, Jonathan Cohn has a good piece that not only takes the misleading position apart in detail, but raises important questions about Romney’s broader judgment.

    In the meantime, the former governor’s general incoherence on the issue appears to be a lingering problem for his candidacy. One of Romney’s top supporters in Michigan believes the presidential hopeful is wrong about the auto rescue, and conservative columnist Michael Gerson argued this week that Romney’s stance is based on “a conservatism that prefers ideology to reality.”

    No wonder the Obama campaign is airing ads on the subject.

  18. Ametia says:


    Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney called the federal government’s 2009 bail-out of the auto industry, “nothing more than crony capitalism, Obama style… a reward for his big donors to his campaign.” In fact, the biggest rewards – a windfall of more than two billion dollars care of U.S. taxpayers –– went to Romney’s two top contributors.

    John Paulson of Paulson & Co and Paul Singer of Elliott International, known on Wall Street as “vulture” investors, have each written checks for one million dollars to Restore Our Future, the Super PAC supporting Romney’s candidacy.

    • Ametia says:


      NBA star Jeremy Lin files to own ‘Linsanity’ trademark

      New York Knicks basketball player Jeremy Lin has filed to trademark the term “Linsanity”, used to characterize his rapid rise to NBA stardom.

      Mr Lin filed the application on 13 February with the US Patent and Trademark office. There are four other applicants vying for the rights to the catch phrase, two of whom filed before Mr Lin.

      The player, who had previously been let go by two teams, has lead the Knicks to a winning streak. Mr Lin’s filings indicates the trademark will be used for a slew of sporting good, sports wear and other merchandise.

      His soaring media presence has made him a star in both the US and Asia.
      Lin is the first American basketball player of Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA.

  19. Ametia says:

    The Republican Presidential Field Hits A New Low In Obama Hate
    February 23, 2012
    By Dennis S

    The continuing embarrassments named Newt, Mitt, Rick, and Ron

    My colleague Jason Easley (does he ever sleep?) has done a wonderful job in his two early post-debate features of documenting the lies, distortions and downright scary proposals heard in Wednesday night’s Mesa debate among the three Republican primary candidates for president. Ron Paul is out of the picture. I’m going to expand on the appalling disingenuous ramblings of the remaining debaters who are, as Newt Gingrich would say, “The most radical and dangerous presidential candidates in the history of the United States.”

    I’m generally a glass half full kind of guy. But with the emergence of these easily manipulated candidate ideologues urged on and financed by a corporate oligarchy that is staging a bloodless coup d’etat of this country, that glass barely hosts a few drops of h2o.

    In watching the debate, I marveled at the hostility of Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Only guaranteed loser, Ron Paul, made an occasional shred of sense. Let’s start with flaming heterosexual, Santorum bragging about his support of the V-22 Osprey aircraft. It’s hard to imagine a development project costing more years, lives and money. It was decades in the making, suffered repeated fatal crashes and spent about $60 billion to get it right. Nobody can accuse these folks of knowing shit about what they’re talking about.

  20. Ametia says:

    Facebook Profiles Found to Predict Job Performance


    Breaking the Mold?
    African-American women in leadership roles suffer less backlash for dominant behavior than their white-female or black-male counterparts, according to a recent study.

    Researchers presented 84 nonblack participants with a written scenario of a supervisor giving a performance evaluation to an employee. The supervisor in the scenario could be one of eight combinations: Aggressive or gentle, white or black, man or woman.

    Participants then were asked to rate the supervisors on questions about their effectiveness, leadership, how well they handled the situation and whether they were likely to be admired and respected by employees.

    The findings showed that black women—like white men—weren’t “penalized” as much for being aggressive, as opposed to the white women and black men who were judged much more harshly for being aggressive.

    This may be because black women tend to fall through the cracks when it comes to broad racial stereotyping, says Ashleigh Shelby Rosette, a co-author of the study and associate professor of management at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. “People don’t really know what they’re supposed to think when they see a black woman,”

  21. Newt: Killing Bin Laden Doesn’t Count! via @motherjones

  22. President Obama to address gas prices, pitch energy policy.

  23. President Barack Obama leads Romney by 10 pts per Rasmussen. Daily Presidential Tracking Poll – Rasmussen Reports™

  24. PETER MAER @petermaercbs

    Obama campaign jumps into MI GOP fray with TV ad accusing all Republican presidential candidates of abandoning Detroit during econ downturn.

  25. Ametia says:

    Administration moves to advance benefits for same-sex partners of federal workers
    By Joe Davidson, Published: February 22

    Just as social issues are stealing some of the economy’s thunder in the Republican presidential nomination contest, the Obama administration is preparing to finalize regulations that would advance benefits for the same-sex partners of federal employees.

    The regulations were proposed many months ago, but plans to make them final in this election year could draw distinctions between the approach President Obama and the GOP hopefuls take on social issues in general and those affecting gay men and lesbians in the federal workforce in particular.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Ordure in The Court

    By Charles P. Pierce

    at 1:10PM

    Mr. Dooley is soon to become a regular character on the blog, so I think that it’s proper today to remember his caution that, No matter whether the constitution follows the flag or not, the Supreme Court follows the election returns. Because, and this may just be me, but it looks a great deal like the current majority on the Supreme Court is warming up to have a really big year in anticipation of the possibility that the president will get re-elected and have the opportunity to change the current majority into a minority in his second term.

    Granted, they may have decided to kick their ruling on the Affordable Care Act down the road a piece. But, judging from yesterday’s accounts of what’s going on down there, the majority seems prepared to do away with affirmative action in any form as far as college admission policies go, and they took yet another big whack at Miranda, too. The noise over the Fisher affirmative-action case drowned out the decision in Howes v. Field. (However, it’s damned hilarious to hear Hans von Spakovsky, the former Bush Administration voter-suppression hack, arguing in the Times for racial justice for oppressed white people and their children.) But, as the invaluable Scott Lemieux points out here, the Howes case is far more typical of the Roberts court’s modus operandi, which is to whittle away at the substance of precedents of which the majority does not approve while leaving the thin husk of said precedent intact. (This is not dissimilar to what zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan plans to do with Medicare, by the way.) The case depended vitally on what constitutes “custody” in the context of Miranda:

    Fields’s conviction on several counts of sexual conduct with a minor had been affirmed by the Michigan Court of Appeals, which upheld admission of the defendant’s self-incriminating statements made to police officers at the prison where he was serving a term for an unrelated offense. The Sixth Circuit affirmed a district court’s grant of federal habeas relief on the ground that Fields was in custody when questioned and that the statements should have been suppressed because of the officers’ failure to comply with Miranda before interrogating him.

    And the Court ruled, apparently with a straight face, that a prisoner who is already incarcerated, who is then told by police to move to another part of the prison in which he already is incarcerated in order to be interrogated without a lawyer and without being read his rights, is not technically “in custody” under the provisions of Miranda and, therefore, statements he made in regards to another crime are admissible against him. This is a ruling that only could come from people who are unilkely ever in their lives even to accidentally encounter a law-enforcement officer who doesn’t say, “Please.” Quoth Justice Samuel Alito:

    The key inquiry, Justice Alito said, was whether a reasonable person in those circumstances would have felt free to end the questioning and leave. He said the fact of imprisonment did not by itself provide the answer.

    Fields was supposed to tell armed deputies that he was leaving and going back to his cell? (Remember, as the Court apparently did not, that prisoners aren’t exactly free to wander around the prison in the middle of the night.) Valiantly, and fruitlessly, Ruth Bader Ginsburg attempted to explain the obvious:

    Critical to the Court’s judgment is “the undisputed fact that [Fields] was told that he was free to end the questioning and to return to his cell.” Never mind the facts suggesting that Fields’s submission to the overnight interview was anything but voluntary. Was Fields “held for interrogation”? Brought to, and left alone with, the gun-bearing deputies, he surely was in my judgment.

    Elena Kagan, the president’s last nominee, sided with the majority in this reality-free nonsense. People in prison are not necessarily “in custody.” Heavens to Brennan, this is going to be a very long year.

    Read more:

  27. rikyrah says:

    Bob McDonnell for Veep!

    By Charles P. Pierce

    at 3:59PM

    The governor of Virginia really, really wants to be somebody’s vice-president. Very likely, that would be a presidential candidate who would like to get more than three votes from women in the general election. Bob McDonnell also has spent his life as a jumbo bag of nuts on the issue of women’s place in this society, and particularly what they do with their ladyparts when he’s not watching and Jesus is on vacation. So here comes that delightful bill out of the Virginia House of Delegates (motto: Patrick Henry’s Picture Just Fell Off The Wall) by which any woman in the Commonwealth who wants to exercise her constitutional right to choose has to get a big old probe stuck up inside her first.

    Arroooogah! Arroooogah! Dive. Dive!

    So, suddenly, vice-presidential timber Bob starts to have second thoughts about the Dildos Mandating Dildos Act Of 2012. Bob’s “backing off” his committment to organized medievalism. Good for you, Bob. By way of explanation, The Washington Post reports this little nugget without any concern that some of its readers may keel over laughing:

    Many of the bill’s supporters were apparently unaware of how invasive the procedure could be, one of the officials added.

    One of the bill’s original co-sponsors was a woman named Kathy Byron. You telling me she didn’t know what exactly was being mandated here? You telling me she couldn’t have enlightened her colleagues before they passed this idiocy and made Virginia look like a laughing stock in front of the whole world? This, I tell you, I do not necessarily believe.

    But you will note that Bob only has committed to not signing the POS today. If he chooses not to sign it, it may mark him lousy with the Republican base. (Oh, boy! A brokered VP nomination! TV gold!) If he signs it, most women of both parties will spit at the mention of his name. Seriously, now, what’s a brother to do? One thing is for certain — even if McDonnell bails on the bill, it will turn up again, and probably in a whole bunch of states. Hell, “personhood” got flogged in Mississippi and is now more of a legislative presence than it ever was. These people do not stop. This is a national problem, not a state-by-state thing. It demands a national response.

    Read more:

  28. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 01:45 PM ET, 02/22/2012
    Mitt Romney, scourge of the one percent

    By Greg Sargent

    When Mitt Romney unveiled his new tax plan cutting taxes across the board by 20 percent in Arizona today, he pledged that he would “make sure the top one percent keeps paying the current share they’re paying or more.”

    This illustrates how much the landscape has shifted in the wake of Occupy Wall Street and the broader public’s rising preoccupation with inquality. After all, only last month, Romney attacked Obama as divisive for using the 99-versus-one-percent language, which he termed as “entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God.”

    That aside, his rhetoric raises a question: What does his new plan actually mean for the wealthy?

    I just got off the phone with Bob McIntyre, the president of the liberal-leaning-but-nonpartisan Citizens for Tax Justice. He says the upshot for the rich is a huge tax cut that’s paid for by cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Total taxes cut in the plan: $10 trillion over 10 years, by his calculation.

    The central feature of Romney’s new plan is an across-the-board 20 percent tax cut — on top of continuing the Bush tax cuts, by McIntyre’s reading. For the top earners, that means the tax rate drops to 28 percent. The plan also cuts the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, repeals the estate tax, and maintains the current tax rate of 15 percent on income from capital gains.

    Bottom line?

    “The wealthy will pay far less in taxes than they do now, including a wealthy person named Mitt Romney,” McIntyre says.

    McIntyre notes that the plan does allow for the closing of some loopholes enjoyed by the wealthy, but said we need more detail to see whether they will constitute anything meaningful.

    The plan appears to be paid for by unspecified cuts to Social Security and Medicare. On the latter program, Romney’s plan envisions a “a premium support system that gives each senior the freedom to choose among competing private plans and traditional fee-for-service Medicare.” That appears to be a reference to the Ryan-Wyden Medicare plan.

    So how does this all square with Romney’s claim above about the one percent? McIntyre says the key is that Romney said the one percent’s “share” would not drop. He didn’t say the amount the one percent pays wouldn’t drop.

    “If you reduce the whole thing by 20 percent then they can go down by 20 percent and still pay the same share,” McIntyre explains.

    So there you have it.

  29. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 08:56 AM ET, 02/23/2012
    The Morning Plum: Birth control wars hold peril for GOP

    By Greg Sargent

    At yesterday’s debate, Mitt Romney and the other candidates went all in on birth control — sorry, “religious liberty” — in blasting President Obama over the contraception controversy. Romney accused Obama of an unprecedented “attack on religious conscience,” on “religious freedom,” and (most amusingly) on “religious tolerance.”

    Romney said Obama’s birth control compromise was “inappropriate,” adding that “the Catholic Church” will end up paying for contraception.

    But some new polling out this morning from Quinnipiac illustrates the risk Republicans are taking with this latest reprise of the culture wars:

    President Obama recently announced an adjustment to the administration’s health-care rule regarding religiously affiliated employers providing birth control coverage to female employees. Women will still be guaranteed coverage for birth control without any out-of-pocket cost, but will have to seek the coverage directly from their insurance companies if their employers object to birth control on religious grounds. Do you approve or disapprove of President Obama’s decision?

    Approve: 54

    Disapprove: 38

    Independents approve 56-36; women 56-34. The question wording isn’t great; it doesn’t tell respondents that government mandates that the insurance companies provide coverage. When sked whether the “federal government should require private employers” to cover contraception, the public is split, 47-48. But that question is misleading: Under Obama’s policy, religious institutions (the employers) are exempt.

    When asked whether “health insurance plans should cover birth control as preventive care for women,” a big majority says Yes, 71-24. Independents say Yes, 72-23. Bottom line: There’s broad consensus that women should be able to get birth control coverage as part of their health insurance plans, and see contraception as standard preventive care.

    Romney has also vowed to defund Planned Parenthood as President. But the Q-poll finds this is opposed by a big majority, 60-31, including among independents, 61-30.

    It’s not surprising, then, that Romney’s standing among women is deteriorating, particularly among the unmarried ones who are key to the Dem coalition. How much all this will impact the general election remains to be seen, of course. But for now, it’s clear that the GOP primary is forcing Romney — who’s under presure to connect with religious and social conservatives — to take positions that could alienate key swing consistuencies.

  30. rikyrah says:

    Mitt the Heretic
    By Jonathan Chait

    In the ongoing (and never-ending) ideological redefinition of Mitt Romney, this moment looms especially large. In advance of tonight’s Republican debate, possibly the last one of the primary season, Romney is dropping new hints about his tax cut plan. Romney has been trapped between two irreconcilable needs. For the general election, he desperately needs to move left on taxes, to avoid the fish-in-a-barrel attacks on him as a wealthy financial manipulator who shelters his money overseas and wants to make the tax code even more advantageous for people like himself. Yet conservatives have been pushing him to move in the opposite direction and come out with an even more regressive tax plan.

    The result is a careful attempt to fulfill both diametric goals through careful ambiguity. Romney calls for an across-the-board reduction in income tax rates, offset by unspecified reductions in tax deductions and spending cuts. Romney is saying that the top one percent will continue paying their current share. But liberal tax wonk Bob McIntyre notices that “share” does not mean the same thing as “level.” The income tax hits the richer much harder than do other taxes. You could reduce income taxes across the board, and the rich would be paying their same share of the income tax, but their share of the overall tax burden would decrease. And, when combined with the (still unspecified) spending cuts, the overall effect would probably be regressive. Of course, you can’t quantify it because Romney details only the money he plans to put into people’s pockets (lower tax rates) and none of the ways he plans to take money out.

    Romney’s plan essentially endorses the goals of the pro-rich right — supply-side enthusiast James Pethokoukis enthuses about Romney’s plan here — while trying to leave enough ambiguity to avoid getting pinned down against Obama. Indeed, Romney follows a similar strategy as the one employed by George W. Bush, who, while running in 2000, cloaked his regressive tax plan in all kinds of misleading language about helping the poor.

    The more important development, which has received shockingly little attention, is that Romney once again let the sane man inside him, the one he keeps hidden from sight, briefly slip out in public. Responding to an audience question, Romney said that spending cuts would stymie economic growth:

    If you just cut, if all you’re thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you’ll slow down the economy,” he said in part of his response. “So you have to, at the same time, create pro-growth tax policies.”

    Most economists would consider this is a pretty banal statement. In an economy with mass unemployment and zero interest rates, reductions in spending reduce growth. But Republicans have come to regard this position, which is accepted by the entire macroeconomic forecasting field, as utter heresy. The whole Republican indictment of Obama is centered around the claim that he has spent too much, that this spending is responsible for a variety of ills, including unnecessarily slow growth, and that cutting spending immediately would not hurt but help economic growth. This has become perhaps the party’s single most fervent idea during the Obama era.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Mitt Romney’s tax proposal may not be narrative campaign wants

    By Ezra Klein, Published: February 22

    During a Wednesday phone call with reporters, Glenn Hubbard, a Columbia economist who is one of Mitt Romney’s top economic advisers, described the Romney campaign’s latest tax proposal in unusually evocative terms. “If you take the spending and tax pieces together, it’s a narrative of the policy agenda and life under a Romney presidency,” he said. And so it is. But if you really follow the numbers, and the policies they imply, it may not be the narrative the campaign wants.

    The proposal’s basic features are a 20 percent cut in marginal tax rates (so the top rate would fall from 35 percent to 28 percent, the second-highest rate would fall from 33 percent to 26.4 percent and so on), a 30 percent cut in corporate taxes and a 13 percent cut in federal spending. But that’s just a string of numbers.

    What’s important, as Hubbard correctly says, is the story the figures tell about a Romney administration. And that goes something like this: Under a Romney presidency, there would be a major redistribution — or perhaps it should be called a re-redistribution — from low-income people who depend on government programs such as Medicaid to higher-income folks who pay taxes.

    As of now, we don’t know the most important fact about Romney’s tax plan: how much money it would raise. His campaign says those numbers are forthcoming. Outside groups will soon begin releasing estimates as well.

    Hubbard says that Romney intends for the plan to be “revenue neutral,” which means that it wouldn’t increase the federal deficit. This is an important admission from the campaign: It says, in effect, that we shouldn’t cut tax revenue below where it is now. But it’s unlikely that independent estimates would find that the plan is revenue-neutral. The Romney campaign says part of the proposal’s cost would come from limiting or ending various deductions, particularly for the rich. But it also says that part of the cost would come from assuming that the plan would lead to faster economic growth — a speculative assumption that would be rejected under the rules Congress uses to evaluate tax proposals.

    The Romney camp wants the plan to be “distributionally neutral,” which means that the tax burdens on various income groups wouldn’t change. We won’t know if that’s the case until we see independent estimates. But assuming the plan kept taxes on the top 1 percent of wage earners exactly where they are now, that would be $87,000 less than under President Obama’s plan, according to the Tax Policy Center. And so the deficit reduction that Obama envisions from raising taxes on the rich would have to come, under Romney, through spending cuts.

    What we can say with some confidence is that if the Joint Committee on Taxation looked at Romney’s proposal, it would score it as lowering revenue. That would mean projected deficits would rise. And the corresponding spending cuts would have to be even larger than is currently the case, and much bigger than would be the case under Obama’s proposals. So under a Romney administration, at least part of the narrative is clear: Taxes would go down, and the need for spending cuts would greatly increase.

  32. rikyrah says:

    Four white wealthy men talk about contraception
    By Steve Benen
    Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:00 AM EST

    About half-way through last night’s debate, moderator John King presented a question for the four candidates sent in from a viewer: “Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?”

    The question was not well received by the audience, which booed for quite a while. Opinions vary as to why, exactly, attendees responded so negatively, though I suspect it was because the audience saw this as an unnecessary area of discussion.

    King, noticing the prevailing winds, immediately told the Republican presidential field, “Look, we’re not going to spend a ton of time on this.” The candidates had other ideas.

    The ensuing discussion was one of the longest of the entire two-hour debate. Rick Santorum wanted to talk about “the increasing number of children being born out of wedlock in America” and “children being raised by children.” Ron Paul spent some time explaining his belief that “immorality creates the problem” of Americans wanting access to birth control. The discussion just wouldn’t end, moving from Title X to Arlen Specter to morning-after pills.

    You could almost hear the smiles coming from Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago. In the 21st century, four far-right white wealthy guys, all of whom think they should be president, spent 15 minutes in a nationally-televised debate talking about access to birth control.

    The GOP candidates might as well have put a banner over their heads reading, “Independents, please don’t consider voting for us.”

    But it was Mitt Romney’s response to the question that amazed me. “I don’t think we’ve seen in the history of this country the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance that we’ve seen under Barack Obama,” the former governor said.

    Think about that one for a moment. The Obama administration is including contraception coverage as part of preventive health care for Americans — a decision a clear majority of the country heartily supports. The administration is exempting churches and other houses of worship, and has crafted a compromise so that religiously-affiliated employers will not have to pay for contraception coverage directly.

    This is the biggest “attack” on religious freedom in the history of the United States? How is it, exactly, that a sane person could believe this?

    Or more to the point, how is it that a Mormon, whose church faced actual attacks and discrimination, could see contraception access as a more serious assault on “religious tolerance”?

    Romney added that Obama is “requiring the Catholic Church to provide for its employees and its various enterprises health care insurance that would include birth control, sterilization and the morning-after pill. Unbelievable.”

    It is, in fact, literally “unbelievable,” since that’s not at all what the administration is doing.

    It was painful enough to have so much of the debate focus on opposition to birth control, but Romney’s dishonesty managed to make a mind-numbing discussion even worse.

    • Ametia says:

      Tee hee hee. Dont’ be fooled folks. These wolves plan to do everything, short of holding folks at gunpoint, to steal the election. And I wouldn’t count out that scenerio either.

  33. rikyrah says:

    Buying From The Black Community

    Maggie Anderson, author of Our Black Year, attempted to shop exclusively at black-owned businesses for a full year. It proved more challenging than expected:

    We assumed, just like other little ethnic enclaves like Little Italy or Greek Town or Chinatown, that for predominantly black neighborhoods all the black businesses there would be owned by the local people. But easily over 90 percent of the businesses on the West Side [of Chicago]—and it’s the same way all over the country—are owned by people who are not black and do not live in that community. So it’s not a “buy local” thing, because these folks set up shop in the black community, sell their wares, make their money, hardly ever employ the local people there—and they put the steel bar over the door, pack up at 6:30, get in their car, drive to their suburb, and take that money with them. And that was the whole reason that these communities suffer the way they do: The everyday exit of the wealth in those neighborhoods directly leads to social crises there.

  34. Ametia says:

    President Obama as an alien
    By E.J. Dionne Jr., Published: February 22

    They say that President Obama is a Muslim, but if he isn’t, he’s a secularist who is waging war on religion. On some days he’s a Nazi, but on most others he’s merely a socialist. His especially creative opponents see him as having a “Kenyan anti-colonial worldview,” while the less adventurous say that he’s an elitist who spent too much time in Cambridge, Hyde Park and other excessively academic precincts.

    Whatever our president is, he is never allowed to be a garden-variety American who plays basketball and golf, has a remarkably old-fashioned family life and, in the manner we regularly recommend to our kids, got ahead by getting a good education.

  35. Mitt Romney: The GOP’s Most Extreme Candidate

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