Serendipity SOUL | Thursday Open Thread | Anita Baker Week

3 Chics hopes you’re enjoying Anita Baker Week.


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46 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Thursday Open Thread | Anita Baker Week

  1. The Raw Story ‏ @RawStory:

    CIA agent indicted for leaking secrets to journalists

  2. I’m in love, sweet love
    Hear me calling out your name, I feel no shame
    I’m in love, sweet love
    Don’t you ever go away, it’ll always be this way

  3. rikyrah says:

    Play it as it lays
    By DougJ, Head of Infidelity April 5th, 2012

    Generally speaking I could give a fuck about which rich assholes are allowed to join other rich assholes’ clubs, but this is pretty ridiculous:

    Augusta has maintained an all-male membership policy during its 80-year history, and Chairman Billy Payne declined to answer a question about the policy during a news conference Wednesday.

    The issue flared up again after Ginni Rometty was named Chief Executive Officer of IBM, a longtime sponsor of the tournament whose previous chief executives have been admitted to Augusta National.

    It’s a good issue for Democrats (Obama is coming out in support of having Augusta admit women), especially if they can bait Republicans into mounting an over-the-top impassioned defense of sexism (again) here.

  4. rikyrah says:

    April 05, 2012 10:49 AM
    War On War On Voting
    By Ed Kilgore

    This does seem to be the week for a serious pushback against ongoing conservative voter suppression efforts. The pressure on corporations (already successful with beverage giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Co) to abandon support for ALEC is one sign. There’s a large new study from the Center for American Progress on how, where and why the Right is pushing anti-voting-rights laws and practices. And one of the premier jounalists working on voting rights issues, The Nation’s Ari Berman, has torn into the Fox News effort to turn a kerfuffle involving primary ballot petitions in Indiana into a sort of retroactive excuse for that state’s (and others’) voter ID law.

    As some of you may recall, I wrote about this last matter a couple of days ago, having noticed that right-wing blogs were heavily promoting the “Indiana Election Fraud” story originated by Fox. But as Ari notes, Fox itself made sure the “scandal” got attention, treating it as “breaking news” of sufficient importance to interrupt coverage of the president’s critique of the Ryan budget.

    That’s how badly conservatives lust for “proof” of voting fraud to justify their restrictions on voting rights—so badly, in fact, that they ignore the inconvenient detail that the Indiana case had nothing to do with actual voting, and would in no way have been prevented by Indiana’s (or anyone else’s) voter ID law.

    As Ari Berman sums it up:

    The real story in 2012 is how the myth of voter fraud has been advanced by Republicans to justify new voting restrictions in more than a dozen states, which could disenfranchise up to 5 million voters on Election Day, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. That’s a whole lot of casualties in response to a few bad actors.

    But it does look like this will no longer be an issue of immense importance to conservatives, but of little interest to progressives. Sometimes just paying attention can do a world of good.

  5. rikyrah says:

    April 05, 2012 1:15 PM
    Caterpillar Wars
    By Ed Kilgore

    You never know how these things are going to turn out, but I get the feeling that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’ comparison of Democratic claims of a GOP “war on women” to a hypothetical “war on caterpillars” could be an iconic moment in the 2012 election cycle. No, it won’t necessarily change any votes right away, but it is likely to become a convenient symbol of the cavalier attitude the GOP has towards “women’s issues.”

    More immediately, Priebus’ remarks are an illustration of how completely Republicans have tied themselves into knots on cultural issues. To hear him today, GOPers never, ever talk about anything but the economy and the fiscal situation. Not two months ago, of course, they were tripping over each other to scream about the administration’s contraception coverage mandate as a central campaign issue—nay, a veritable “war on religion.” Did we all just imagine that, or were all the militant words somehow an invention of Democrats or the MSM? And are all the continuing Republican efforts at the state level to restrict abortion rights and harass women—er, excuse me, caterpillars—with hoops they must jump through to exercise those rights somehow a fiction?

    What’s really going on, of course, is that Republicans want to divide up the electorate and offer different messages to different segments of voters. If you are, say, a Catholic Democrat or independent who leans left on economic issues but is ambivalent about abortion and/or defensive towards the prerogatives of your church, then by God this election is about the “war on religion.” But if the close association of the GOP with theocrats gives you the willies, then all this culture-talk is an invention of the Democrat Party and the MSM, because Republicans never, ever think about anything but jobs, jobs, jobs, budget, budget, budget, and freedom, freedom, freedom.

    There’s nothing particularly novel about utilizing targeted and sometimes conflicting messages to different audiences, but it would be nice if GOPers stopped squealing like little piggies every time they get called on it, and projecting their dishonesty onto everyone else. Maybe the reaction of “caterpillars” to Priebus’ fable will teach them a valuable lesson.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 01:47 PM ET, 04/05/2012


    Dems will keep up pressure on GOP over Buffett Rule
    By Greg Sargent

    On a conference call just now, Senator Chuck Schumer confirmed it: Senate Democrats will continue bringing up the Buffett Rule again and again in an effort to put Republicans on the spot, and he vowed Dems would press the issue until Republican opposition cracks.

    Tellingly, Schumer also noted that Mitt Romney personally benefits from the current tax code that the Buffett rule would undo — and that this would make it politically harder for GOPers to maintain opposition. This confirms what I’d been saying: The Buffett Rule is partly about forcing Republicans to take a stand on whether the likely GOP nominee — who is worth $250 million — should pay lower tax rates than many middle class taxpayers do.

    Sheldon Whitehouse’s Buffett Rule proposal is set for a vote on April 16th, but Schumer said this is just the beginning.

    “If we come up short of the 60 votes needed, we’re going to keep pushing this isue all year,” said Schumer, who’s also the Dem messaging chief. “It’s an emerging contrast with Republicans. We think the very wealthy should share in more of the sacrifice.”

    Schumer noted that Romney benefits from low tax rates, and predicted Republicans — and Romney — would struggle to defend them.

    “Democrats, independents, and Republicans are for implementing the Buffett Rule,” Schumer said. “Romney has benefitted from a low tax rate. Republicans will continue with cries of class warfare, but they are falling on deaf ears, because it’s the middle cass t’s under assault. If and when Romney becomes nominee they’re going to have to move in our direction more quickly than people think.”

    Republicans and conservatives have scoffed at the Buffett Rule, arguing its contribution to deficit reduction would be minimal. But Schumer insisted it would bring in $160 billion over 10 years in the event the Bush tax cuts are extended, and said this is not just about deficit reduction, but about basic fairness.

    “The middle class can no longer bear the burden of reducing deficits alone,” Schumer said, adding that Republicans are now “on the defensive on their signature issue.”

  7. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 11:57 AM ET, 04/05/2012
    Romney’s efforts to paint Obama as radical are a flop
    By Greg Sargent

    Mitt Romney frequently opines that President Obama favors “equal outcomes,” argues that Obama regularly apologizes for America, claims Obama bows to our enemies, and insists that Obama is trying to transform America into a “government-centered society” that’s more European than American in identity. Such comments, of course, are designed to paint Obama’s worldview as deeply radical, out of step with basic American values and at odds with our way of life.

    What makes these comments even sillier is that in many of the areas where Romney discerns Obama’s radical tendencies, the two men are actually in total agreement. Indeed, they frequently use identical language to describe their views.

    This fact has been completely obscured by the profound policy disagreements that do persist between them. Their solutions on taxes, economic growth, and many other issues are vastly different.

    But in many ways, their expressed views on things like free enterprise, health care, Iran, and American exceptionalism are borderline identical:

    * Free enterprise: Romney regularly attacks Obama for being hostile towards capitalism, but in fact, they both describe free enterprise in virtually identical terms. Romney yesterday described it as “one of the greatest forces for good the world has ever known.” This is an idea Romney alludes to frequently. But it’s also an idea Obama alludes to frequently. Obama recently described free enterprise as the “greatest force for economic progress in human history,” and this is a formulation Obama has used on many other occasions.

    * American exceptionalism: Romney frequently points to our free enterprise system as proof that America is an exceptional nation, a view he also regularly claims Obama doesn’t agree with. But Obama also regularly points to free market capitalism as a sign of American exceptionalism. In early 2011, before Romney’s attacks were underway in earnest, Obama described our “free enterprise system” as the reason for “what America does better than anyone else,” which is to “spark the creativity and imagination of our people.”

  8. rikyrah says:

    Romney Knows What Women Want: More Ann

    Pema Levy April 5, 2012, 9:24 AM

    Mitt Romney heard through the grapevine that women are excited about his candidacy.

    For at least the third time this week, Romney explained why he’ll win over women voters, despite a poll released late Sunday showing him suffering an almost 20-point gender gap in key swing states, by saying his wife talks to women for him. Ann “reports to me” on what women care about, he said.

    His female surrogates on the campaign trail — including New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley — have taken the same tack. Rather than making assurances that Romney relates directly to women voters, they too admit that he uses Ann as a sort-of female translator, deciphering their concerns and relaying them to the candidate. Instead of supplementing his own pitch to women, Romney seems to use his female surrogates to remove himself from the equation entirely.

    On “Morning Joe” Wednesday, Ayotte said that women care most about the economy.

    What I think will resonate, first of all, and I spent quite a bit of time with Mitt on the bus. And by the way, all of his, you know, daughter-in-laws and the women in his wife I think are going to be very, very strong for him, and he will very much relate to women.She continued:

    I think Ann is probably his No. 1 adviser. And she is the secret weapon. She’s terrific. Great with people. And I’m sure that during the general election, as we ramp up, you’re going to see a lot more of her. She really relates to people. … He has great daughters in law, and a real strong family. And that I think will appeal to women voters. This is a great family guy.Haley, too, backed Romney’s claim that women care about jobs and the economy, and will rally to Romney’s side because of his economic pitch.

    “Women don’t care about contraception,” Haley said on “The View” Tuesday. “They care about jobs and their families.” That’s not necessarily true — as The Atlantic’s Molly Ball noted:

    The swing-state poll found women’s No. 1 issue to be health care, while men’s was the national debt and deficit. The Romney campaign has recently been deploying Romney’s charming wife Ann to do women’s outreach; her pitch revolves around how concerned women are about the deficit. But according to this poll, that’s not really the case — the deficit was fourth among women’s chief concerns.

  9. rikyrah says:

    How Weak Is Romney?

    Ezra Klein sticks up for Mitt:

    For the last, oh, six years, Mitt Romney has been running in Republican presidential primaries. Those are, arguably, the elections he’s least suited to win, for all the reasons listed above. But now he’s about to get a shot at a general election. And while the promises he’s made and the positions he’s taken will surely make it more difficult for him to swing to the center, he’ll nevertheless be able to run a very different kind of campaign going forward. Maybe he’ll be better at it. And it’s easy to imagine his greatest weakness in the primary — the fact that conservatives believe he’s a secret centrist — becoming his greatest strength in the general.

    I’m not buying. Romney’s strength as a candidate is his aw-shucks, all-American voice and affect, which helps smoothe the rough contours of his platform, which will – by a mile – be further to the right than any candidate who has ever run for the presidency in modern times. His embrace of the Ryan budget confirms this. He can’t backtrack on that now, or the already ornery base will explode. The mellifluous, paternal tone works best when he’s persuading liberals he’s not that radical. But the fall campaign will require him to be very harshly negative toward a president a lot of people still like, and arguing for even more tax cuts for the wealthy like himself.

    And Romney will be painted – probably brutally – as a plutocrat’s plutocrat. I suspect his perfect fit was, actually, Massachusetts, when he could run as a reformist Republican outsider but legislate universal healthcare in a monolithically Democratic state. Hey, I’d have voted for him as a check on the Democratic machine in that state and as a moderate able to nudge the state to the right – as he did, in my view, because the individual mandate is a conservative proposal at its core.

    Joe Klein, as often, is on the same page as I am:

    [Romney] seems a figure from the Great Depression, a combination of Daddy Warbucks and Old Man Potter. He celebrates creative destruction at a time when the destruction has been a bit too creative. He talks a lot about firing people. He just can’t help himself. In Wisconsin, he talked about his father firing people in Michigan. After he won the Wisconsin primary, Romney wandered incomprehensibly into the steel-plant closings on the South Side of Chicago in the 1970s. The President, he said, became a community organizer because “he saw free enterprise as the villain and government as the solution.” The man simply does not understand that most people do not see plant closings as progress.

    Along the same lines, Charles Blow doubts Romney will out-campaign Obama:

    Obama can be scintillating on the campaign trail. Romney has shown himself to be nearly catatonic. Obama is such an impressive speaker that it sometimes feels as if he’s trying too hard to prove something; Romney is such an awkward speaker that it often feels as if he’s hiding something. But when framing a vision, even magniloquence beats ineloquence.

    And look how many completely unforced errors Romney has made so far – all confirming his image as a mega-rich Wall Streeter with an inability to connect to many voters. It’s also worth noting that Romney didn’t run for re-election as governor. In every campaign since, he has lost. This time, every other candidate lost first.

  10. rikyrah says:

    Holder responds to 5th Circuit tantrum
    By Steve Benen – Thu Apr 5, 2012 2:34 PM EDT.

    Following up our reports from earlier in the week, Attorney General Eric Holder has personally responded, in writing, to Judge Jerry Smith’s hysterical demands related to President Obama’s routine beliefs on judicial review.

    To briefly recap, Smith, a Republican appointee on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, threw a bizarre political tantrum on the bench Tuesday, assigning childish homework to the Justice Department. The judge’s partisan hissy fit drew criticism from the left, right, and center, with Jeffrey Toobin going so far as to call Smith’s conduct a “disgrace” and an example of Republican judges “deranged by their hatred for the president.”

    Regardless, the 5th Circuit wanted a written response, so it’s going to get a written response. As much as I would have preferred to see the Justice Department give Smith a transcript of Obama’s clarification and a copy of Marbury, Holder actually took the homework assignment seriously, and prepared a detailed response, which has been posted online (pdf).

    The longstanding, historical position of the United States regarding judicial review of the constitutionality of federal legislation has not changed and was accurately stated by counsel for the government at oral argument in this case a few days ago. The Department has not in this litigation, nor in any other litigation of which I am aware, ever asked this or any other Court to reconsider or limit long-established precedent concerning judicial review of the constitutionality of federal legislation. […]

    At no point has the government suggested that the Court would lack authority to review plaintiffs’ constitutional claims….

    Holder appears to have resisted the urge to add a postscript that could have read, “Now turn off Fox News and get back to work.”

    Of course, if the Attorney General had added such language, it would have been entirely understandable.

  11. rikyrah says:

    Romney’s misguided bashing of his alma mater
    By Steve Benen – Thu Apr 5, 2012 12:35 PM EDT

    .Just last night, Rachel explained Mitt Romney’s habit of identifying his perceived weaknesses, and then assigning those weaknesses to President Obama. The segment was not short on examples.

    Today, however, the list got a little longer. Romney, perhaps concerned about being perceived as an Ivy League elitist, targeted Obama’s time at Harvard.

    For those who can’t watch clips online, Romney said, “We have a president who I think is a nice guy, but he spent too much time at Harvard, perhaps. Or maybe just not enough time actually working in the real world. I think to create jobs in the private sector it helps to have had a job in the private sector.”

    First, Obama has worked in the real world. Second, the private sector has created about 4 million jobs in the last three years.

    But the part of this that stands out, of course, is the notion that Obama — unlike Romney — “spent too much time at Harvard.”

    I get the whole “I’m rubber, you’re glue” strategy. I even understand that anti-intellectualism goes a long way with Republican voters. But this incessant talk about Harvard is a bit much.


    For one thing, Romney has two post-graduate degrees from Harvard, and he has three sons with post-graduate degrees from Harvard. Obama spent too much time there?

    For another, Romney routinely points to members of the Harvard faculty as a major influence on his political views.

    While we’re at it, let’s also not forget that many of Romney’s top policy aides are either Harvard alums, Harvard professors, or both. (If he’s going to talk about how awful it is to get advice from the “Harvard faculty lounge,” as he has many times in reference to Obama, it’d help if Romney weren’t getting advice from the Harvard faculty lounge.)

    And finally, in case these ties weren’t quite enough, Romney is also enjoying the generous financial support of members of the Harvard faculty lounge.

    There has to be an easier way for the former Massachusetts governor and Harvard alum to pretend to be a normal person.

  12. rikyrah says:

    Voter Suppression 101
    How Conservatives Are Conspiring to Disenfranchise Millions of Americans

    The right to vote is under attack all across our country. Conservative legislators are introducing and passing legislation that creates new barriers for those registering to vote, shortens the early voting period, imposes new requirements for already-registered voters, and rigs the Electoral College in select states. Conservatives fabricate reasons to enact these laws—voter fraud is exceedingly rare—in their efforts to disenfranchise as many potential voters among certain groups, such as college students, low-income voters, and minorities, as possible. Rather than modernizing our democracy to ensure that all citizens have access to the ballot box, these laws hinder voting rights in a manner not seen since the era of Jim Crow laws enacted in the South to disenfranchise blacks after Reconstruction in the late 1800s.

    Talk about turning back the clock! At its best, America has utilized the federal legislative process to augment voting rights. Constitutional amendments such as the 12th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 19th, 23rd, and 26th have steadily improved the system by which our elections take place while expanding the pool of Americans eligible to participate. Yet in 2011, more than 30 state legislatures considered legislation to make it harder for citizens to vote, with over a dozen of those states succeeding in passing these bills. Anti-voting legislation appears to be continuing unabated so far in 2012.

    Unfortunately, the rapid spread of these proposals in states as different as Florida and Wisconsin is not occurring by accident. Instead, many of these laws are being drafted and spread through corporate-backed entities such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, as uncovered in a previous Center for American Progress investigative report. Detailed in that report, ALEC charges corporations such as Koch Industries Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and The Coca-Cola Co. a fee and gives them access to members of state legislatures. Under ALEC’s auspices, legislators, corporate representatives, and ALEC officials work together to draft model legislation. As ALEC spokesperson Michael Bowman told NPR, this system is especially effective because “you have legislators who will ask questions much more freely at our meetings because they are not under the eyes of the press, the eyes of the voters.”

    The investigative report included for the first time a leaked copy of ALEC’s model Voter ID legislation, which was approved by the ALEC board of directors in late 2009. This model legislation prohibited certain forms of identification, such as student IDs, and has been cited as the legislative model from groups ranging from Tea Party organizations to legislators proposing the actual legislation such as Wisconsin’s Voter ID proposal from Republican state Rep. Stone and Republican state Sen. Joe Leibham.

  13. rikyrah says:

    The delicate dance of running for VP
    By Steve Benen – Thu Apr 5, 2012 10:50 AM EDT.

    Three words: running mates matter.
    Every presidential campaign cycle, at about this time, a large group of officials struggle with a problem. They want to be their party’s vice presidential nominee, but they don’t want to look like they want to be their party’s vice presidential nominee. It’s fine to want the gig, but lobbying for the VP slot is considered inappropriate, and undermines one’s chances.

    Dropping off resumes at the frontrunner’s HQ isn’t really an option, but neither is just sitting back and hoping for the best. Chris Cillizza summarized the delicate dance earlier in the week.

    The worst thing you can do when it comes to the vice presidential sweepstakes is to make clear to the nominee — and the media who covers the nominee — that you badly want to be picked.

    Campaigning for the job reeks of unbridled political ambition and rightly raises concerns from the presidential nominee that you would put your own career betterment ahead of helping him get elected. […]

    For the serious contenders for the vice presidential nomination … silence is the best policy. Don’t volunteer your interest in the job. When asked directly about it, deny interest.

    But even that task can be tricky. There are all kinds of standard, acceptable responses from those who want to be considered while giving the appearance of detachment: “I’m happy with the job I already have”; “I’m not interested in the vice presidency”; “I’m confident I won’t be chosen for the ticket”; “I have no intention of being the running mate”; etc. The key is to be non-committal — express passive disinterest while leaving the door open.

    There are some who find it difficult to walk this line. Virginia Gov. Bob “Ultrasound” McDonnell (R) generally appears a little too eager to be chosen — he can’t seek re-election and will have nothing to do in 2014 — and has talked publicly about how he’d be honored to be considered. (He might as well walk around with a “Pick Me” sign around his neck.) Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have also said they’re open, but no one seems to care.

    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) have arguably gone too far in the other direction — both have said recently, on the record, that they would turn down a VP offer if they were invitated to join the ticket. As Dave Weigel noted, there’s at least one good example of a running mate having said the same thing before accepting the nominee’s offer, but in general, those who want to be in the mix avoid phrases like “I’m not going to accept it” — the line Rubio took.

    As Mitt Romney solidifies his role as the 2012 GOP nominee, and running-mate speculation becomes the new fun hobby for the political world, there are a couple of other angles to keep in mind.


    First, if Romney starts to look like a candidate likely to lose, expect likely 2016 candidates to avoid a spot on this year’s ticket. Running mates from failed presidential campaigns often fail to get their party’s nomination four years later: just ask Sarah Palin, John Edwards, and Joe Lieberman.

  14. Ametia says:

    No retreat: 101 assaults in the War on Women
    By Stephanie Whiteside /

    Is there really a war on women?

    Republicans say no. They say the phrase is a bunch of hyperbole. But their actions say otherwise. After what was already a record number of reproductive health related restrictions introduced in 2011, conservatives have ratched up the rhetoric and legislation aimed squarely at women.

    Think this is just happening in Virginia, Idaho and Arizona? Think again. The items on this list include actions in or representatives of 30 different states, not to mention national commentators and pundits (not just Rush Limbaugh). The list also includes more than 30 proposed or approved pieces of legislation and court rulings.

    And while most of these attacks revolve around women’s reproductive rights, they also veer off into more general areas, including a Fox News contributor who says women in the military should “expect” to be sexually assaulted.

    If these combined actions don’t qualify as an all-out assault on women’s rights, it’s difficult to imagine what would. So here are the quotes, legislation and other developments that we consider 101 assaults in the War on Women in 2012.

  15. Ametia says:

    BAM, BAM, BAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,b>

  16. President Obama’s Passover Message

  17. rikyrah says:

    Republican Donor Simmons Seeks Rule to Fill Texas Dump
    By Julie Bykowicz – Apr 4, 2012 7:00 PM CT

    Harold Simmons built a West Texas dump for radioactive waste that is bigger than 1,000 football fields and he can’t fill it.

    To turn it into a profitable enterprise, the Texas billionaire hired lobbyists to urge the Obama administration to expand the types of nuclear waste, including depleted uranium, the dump can accept and award his company disposal contracts. If the Nuclear Regulatory Commission changes the rule, it could open access to a market worth billions. The deadline for a decision is in 2014

    Simmons now is spending money in a new way that could improve his business prospects: He’s invested $15.9 million this election cycle in various groups to help elect Republicans, who advocate easing regulations on the nuclear industry.

    The largest chunk of Simmons’s campaign cash — $12 million — has gone to American Crossroads, a so-called super political action committee that takes unlimited donations and has a stated mission of defeating President Barack Obama. He has given at least $700,000 to Restore Our Future, a super-PAC backing Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, whose call for a fast- tracked permitting process for new nuclear plants could benefit Simmons’s Waste Control Specialists LLC.

    “Whatever federal switch has to be thrown to get uranium into the hole, believe me, it will be thrown; that’s how Harold Simmons works,” said Glenn Lewis, a former Texas environmental employee who retired in protest to Simmons’s influence in the state permitting process for his dump.

    Million-Dollar Donors
    Eighteen people have given at least $1 million to Republican super-PACs so far this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington group that tracks political spending. Before 2010 U.S. Supreme Court rulings and regulatory changes allowing unlimited donations, those individuals would have been confined to contributions of just $2,500 to candidates and $5,000 to PACs.

    Those wealthy backers have said they give because they share the Republican Party’s view toward a less active federal government or on national security issues.

    “What scares me is the continuation of the socialist-style economy we’ve been experiencing for almost four years,” Sheldon Adelson, a casino owner, told Forbes in a Feb. 21 article, explaining why he gives money to Republicans.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Why Do Reporters Think Mitt Romney Is a Moderate?
    Paul Waldman
    April 4, 2012
    They keep saying it, but they don’t know whether it’s true.

    I’m sorry, but I refuse to let this one go, even if I have to repeat myself. Time’s Alex Altman writes, “A very conservative party is on the verge of nominating a relative moderate whom nobody is very excited about, largely because none of his rivals managed to cobble together a professional operation.” I beg you, Alex, and every other reporter covering the campaign: If you’re going to assert that Mitt Romney is a “relative moderate,” you have to give us some evidence for that assertion. Because without mind-reading, we have to way to know whether it’s true.

    What we do know is that when he ran in two races in the extremely liberal state of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney was a moderate. Then when he ran in two races to be the Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney was and is extremely conservative. There is simply no reason—none—to believe, let alone to assert as though it were an undisputed fact, that the first incarnation of Romney was the “real” one and the current incarnation of Romney is the fake one.

    Every single issue position that might mark Mitt Romney as a “relative moderate” is something he has cast off, whether it’s being pro-choice, or pro-gay rights, or not hating on immigrants. If you’re going to say he’s a relative moderate, you have to explain how the Massachusetts Romney was an expression of his true beliefs, and the national Romney is the product of cynical calculation, and how you know this to be the case.

    It might be the case. But it is just as likely that the Massachusetts Romney was the fake one, and the current Romney is the sincere one. Or that neither one is real, because Romney simply has no actual beliefs about these issues. (I leave aside the possibility that they’re both real, and he underwent some genuine change of heart on most every issue after deciding to run for president. Because no one’s crazy enough to believe that.) So please, reporters: if you suspect that Mitt Romney is really a moderate, then say it’s a suspicion. But don’t treat it like a fact.

  19. rikyrah says:

    Fraudulent Fears of a Second Term
    His detractors forget that even if he were a crazed leftist, Obama has limited powers.
    Steve Chapman | April 2, 2012

    Whenever you hear about a psychic being arrested, the natural question is: Why didn’t she see that coming? Conservatives who raise dire alarms about what will happen in Barack Obama’s second term face a similar problem. They need him to lose so their predictions will not be exposed as products of raging paranoia.

    Rick Santorum says the defeat of Obama is imperative “so that future generations do not say about America, ‘When men were free.'” After Obama was heard telling Russian President Dmitry Medvedev he would have “more flexibility” on missile defense after he’s re-elected, House Speaker John Boehner accused Obama of planning dangerous “unilateral concessions.”

    Former Bush speechwriter and Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen laid out “the top ten disasters that would befall America if Obama were re-elected”—notably defense cuts so huge that “America will no longer be a superpower.”

    But no one can match National Rifle Association official Wayne LaPierre, who in February warned that Obama’s plan is “get re-elected and, with no more elections to worry about, get busy dismantling and destroying our firearms freedom.”

    Oh, really? I usually agree with the NRA on gun issues, but when it comes to predicting the future, the organization is more useless than a Ouija board.

    In 2008, it told gun owners Obama would “ban use of firearms for home defense,” “pass federal laws eliminating your right-to-carry” and “mandate a government-issued license to purchase a firearm.” Wrong, wrong and wrong again. In fact, the president has been so respectful of Second Amendment rights that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave him an “F.”

    LaPierre’s fantasy of a second-term plot is no more believable than the first-term version. Obama, after all, didn’t know at the beginning whether he would be re-elected—and still doesn’t. If he wanted to eviscerate Second Amendment rights, wouldn’t he have done it immediately? Wait four years, and the chance to pry our guns out of our cold, dead hands might be lost forever.

    The critics seem to think that after this year, Obama will be free to liberate his inner radical and turn the United States into a more hellish version of North Korea. This scenario glosses over the president’s cautious temperament and aversion to liberal crusading, which often cause Rachel Maddow to grind her teeth.

    The doomsayers also assume that someone shrewd, unthreatening and adaptable enough to become the first black president would, at the age of 51, metamorphose into Huey Newton. It’s about as plausible as Santorum undergoing a sex change or Newt Gingrich taking a vow of silence.

  20. rikyrah says:

    RNC chairman reflects on women, caterpillars
    By Steve Benen – Thu Apr 5, 2012 10:02 AM EDT.

    There’s ample evidence that the Republican policy campaign known as the “war on women” has taken a toll on the GOP’s standing with more than half the electorate. Republican leaders, however, still seem unsure how to talk about their problem.

    The leaders of the two political parties clashed over the role of gender in U.S. elections, with the Democrat saying her opponents have been “shockingly out of touch” on women’s issues and the Republican saying Democrats and the media have created a phony conflict.

    “If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing this weekend. “It’s a fiction.”

    This is becoming a popular defense — denial. War on women? What war on women? Democrats and the media just made this whole story up. It’s what South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) argued this week, and it’s the line Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the only woman in the Republican leadership in either chamber, adopted two weeks ago.

    It’s also wrong.

    As we’ve reported on the show many times, the effort on the part of GOP policymakers at the federal and state level to undermine women’s health care is as severe as anything we’ve seen from a major party in many years. Unlike the war on caterpillars, Republican efforts are real.

    I’ll spare you the full list of every bill in every state, but the policy offensive is, well, offensive. Restricting contraception; cutting off Planned Parenthood; state-mandated, medically-unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds; forcing physicians to lie to patients about abortion and breast cancer; abortion taxes; abortion waiting periods; forcing women to tell their employers why they want birth control, going after prenatal care, possible abortion permission slips … this is no minor policy initiative.

    For the chairman of the Republican National Committee to dismiss concerns as “fiction” only adds insult to injury.

  21. Ametia says:

    Mom charged with murder in disabled girl’s death
    Wednesday, April 04, 2012

    MINEOLA (WABC) — A Long Island mother pleaded not guilty Wednesday to an upgraded murder charge in the death last summer of her 8-year-old disabled daughter.

    Veronica Cirella, of Plainview, was arraigned on second-degree murder charges for allegedly killing Julie Cirella by feeding the girl food she was allergic to.

    The 31-year-old Cirella was initially charged with manslaughter, but the district attorney would not discuss what new information warranted the upgraded charges.


  22. Ametia says:

    U.S. Supreme Court
    Judges Use ‘Rope-a-Dope Trick’ When Faced with Criticism, Scalia Says

    Speaking at the University of Mississippi on Wednesday evening, Justice Antonin Scalia declined to answer a question about President Obama’s recent assertion that overturning the health care law would be an “unprecedented, extraordinary” step of judicial activism.

    Scalia went on to explain how judges deal with criticism, the Associated Press reports. “We don’t respond to criticism,” Scalia said. “Judges use what’s known as the rope-a-dope trick. It’s judicial tradition.” WTF?

    During the speech, Scalia also defended the court’s recent decision upholding the strip search of a man jailed after his arrest for a minor offense, according to AP and the Hattiesburg American. Scalia said jail security outweighs the violation of being strip searched. The requirement protects prisoners who are thrown in with the general prison population, “which may contain some very nasty people,” Scalia said.

    “The same folks who would sue about getting strip-searched are the same folks who would be suing after getting injured by a shiv,” he said.

  23. rikyrah says:

    Why So Glum?
    by BooMan
    Wed Apr 4th, 2012 at 09:26:02 PM EST

    Paul Waldman is wise to provide all the appropriate caveats, but Joe Scarborough’s remarks on his MSNBC program this morning are fascinating anyway:

    “Nobody thinks Romney’s going to win. Let’s just be honest. Can we just say this for everybody at home? Let me just say this for everybody at home. The Republican establishment — I’ve yet to meet a single person in the Republican establishment that thinks Mitt Romney is going to win the general election this year. They won’t say it on TV because they’ve got to go on TV and they don’t want people writing them nasty emails. I obviously don’t care. But I have yet to meet anybody in the Republican establishment that worked for George W. Bush, that works in the Republican congress, that worked for Ronald Reagan that thinks Mitt Romney is going to win the general election.”

    Call me crazy, but I don’t think Scarborough was making this up. Of course, Scarborough is living in Manhattan now, and if you spend enough time there you can find it hard to believe that a typical Republican can be elected to anything, ever. Still, it’s an odd moment in time for Republicans to be feeling so down on themselves. Romney has broken through. He has a clear path to a clean win of the nomination. All the ducks are nearly in a row. Why the pessimism?

    I think it’s because of a lot of things. Mitt Romney had a big victory in Maryland last night, but he still failed to crack fifty percent. Wisconsin was closer than the polls were predicting. Gingrich and Santorum may have terrified the Republican Establishment, but they really can’t fall in love with Romney. They have buyer’s remorse and the thing isn’t even mathematically wrapped up yet. They’re all doing their duty and trying to push Santorum out of the race, but their hearts aren’t in it. They feel like they won the Booby Prize.

    I also think that Establishment Republicans are a little ashamed of what the party has become. It’s not just Olympia Snowe who’s ready to quit in disgust. They can see what Romney has had to do to win this thing, and they don’t feel good about it. And then there’s another group, the true believers, who think Romney’s a soulless hack and a phony conservative, and they hate having to pretend otherwise. I think both groups agree, though, that Romney isn’t going to win because he doesn’t deserve to win. Among political sophisticates, some feel like if he isn’t Ronald Reagan then what’s the point? And the others know what kind of dishonest game they’ve been running on Obama; they know the cards the president was dealt (and who dealt them), and they know he’s done an admirable job under the circumstances. They think Obama is going to win because he has a good record to run on and Romney has bupkis. They also are clear-sighted enough to recognize that the president and his political team are top-flight pros.

    So, is Romney going to turn this all around somehow? Can he just pull Paul Ryan or Marco Rubio out of a hat and change everyone’s perceptions? I don’t know. The one thing I can say to make Republicans feel better about their chances is to remind them that the people who will decide this election don’t know who Joe Scarborough is and wouldn’t give a shit about his opinion even if they did.

    • Ametia says:

      Al the more reason to GET OUT THE VOTE. We can’t take anything for granted, when it comes to the roguing GOP. Voter Suppression, stripping Union rights, killing planned parenthood, tacking on all sorts of amendments to the Constitution to turn back time.

      Romney will have to earn every vote, just like PBO. He can play as nasty as it likes, but he will EARN EVERY VOTE

  24. rikyrah says:

    Mitt Romney is a Pathological Liar
    Posted on 04/04/2012 at 3:30 pm by JM Ashby

    The ease at which Mitt Romney shoots pure dishonesty out of his eyesockets is a sight to behold.

    Romney responded to the speech President Obama gave to the Associated Press Luncheon yesterday, and while his usual line of attack relies on telling pure lies, his new strategy also relies on –you guessed it– telling pure lies.

    The entire response was filled with astonishing dishonesty, but this gem in particular is so ridiculous and childish I can’t even read it with a straight face

    I’d be willing to consider the President’s plan, but he doesn’t have one. That’s right. In over three years, he has failed to enact or even propose a serious plan to solve our entitlement crisis.

    Instead, he has taken a series of steps that end Medicare as we know it.

    To say the president doesn’t have a plan is to ignore the fact that he was the first to debut a plan.

    Before even the first temporary extension of government funding which prevented a government shutdown in the early spring of 2011, President Obama outlined a comprehensive budgetary road-map which was not entirely dissimilar from the plan he favored during the debt-ceiling debacle or that he spoke of as recently as Monday.

    Not long after the president originally debuted a plan to turn the economy and the country’s finances around, Paul Ryan debuted the Path to Poverty Path to Prosperity, which is basically the same plan Ryan trumpeted last week. The same plan Mitt Romney is now latching onto to as if it were his own.

    And it’s not a serious plan. In fact, I’m not sure if you can even call it a “plan” unless you view it from the perspective of Pinky and the Brain.

    I have no doubt Mitt Romney and the Republicans will continue to claim the president “has no plan” from now until November, but this must have left even Republicans scratching their heads in bewilderment.

  25. rikyrah says:

    Associated Press Ignores Obama On Drawing False Equivalences On Health Care
    Brian Beutler April 4, 2012, 12:23 PM

    One of the key moments of President Obama’s Tuesday speech before an Associated Press luncheon came at the end, when he urged reporters not to cast partisan disagreements about the key issues of the day — health care, the environment, the role of the federal government — as a product of equal intransigence on both sides. Republicans, he noted, have abandoned their previous support for Obama initiatives — from transportation funding, to cap and trade, to the health care reforms that comprise ‘Obamacare’ — many of which emerged as conservative alternatives to more liberal policies.

    His hosts weren’t listening — and as a result they’ve made Obama’s points about Republicans and the media for him.

    “[I]f Republicans have moved to the right on health care, it’s also true that Obama has moved to the left,” reads an AP wrap on the Obama speech. “He strenuously opposed a mandate forcing people to obtain health insurance until he won office and changed his mind.”

    It’s true that Obama campaigned against an individual mandate in 2008, only to embrace it — however reluctantly — after he became president. But to say that constitutes a move to the left betrays a lack of understanding about the origins and purpose of the individual mandate, and of Obama’s broader evolution on health care reform.

  26. rikyrah says:

    The GOP’s rejection of the Reagan legacy
    By Steve Benen – Thu Apr 5, 2012 9:10 AM EDT.
    Associated Press

    President Obama covered quite a bit of ground in his speech at the Associated Press luncheon the other day, but one of his arguments stirred some interesting discussion: “Ronald Reagan … could not get through a Republican primary today.”

    The president’s likely GOP rival made the opposite case yesterday.

    Mitt Romney is disputing President Obama’s assertion that Ronald Reagan couldn’t win a primary in today’s Republican Party, adding that he could do it in part by going after Obama economic policies.

    “I actually think Ronald Reagan would win handily in a primary and frankly in all the primaries,” Romney told a group of newspaper editors [Wednesday].

    It hasn’t generated a lot of attention, but Obama’s not the only one arguing that contemporary Republicans would reject the man the RNC labeled “Ronaldus Magnus.” About a year ago, a House Republican went so far as to dismiss Reagan as a “moderate, former liberal” who “would never be elected today.” Mike Huckabee said around the same time, “Ronald Reagan would have a very difficult, if not impossible, time being nominated in this atmosphere of the Republican Party.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had a nearly identical take in 2010, arguing Reagan “would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today.”

    So, who’s right? Romney or Obama, Huckabee, and Graham? It’s obviously speculative, but I don’t think this is a close call.

    Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times, and he supported the precursor to the Buffett Rule. In his first term, Reagan raised taxes when unemployment was nearing 11% — imagine trying this today — and proceeded to raise taxes seven out of the eight years he was in office. It’s a fact the right finds terribly inconvenient, but “no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people” as Reagan.

    Reagan gave amnesty to undocumented immigrants, expanded the size of the federal government, tripled the deficit and added trillions to the debt, bailed out domestic industries, and called for a world without nuclear weapons. Reagan also met with our most hated enemy without preconditions, criticized Israel, and illegally funneled arms to Iran.

    And then there’s his gubernatorial record.


    In California, Reagan increased spending, raised taxes, helped create the nation’s first state-based emissions standards, signed an abortion-rights bill, and expanded the nation’s largest state-based Medicaid program (socialized medicine).

    Reagan “could not get through a Republican primary today”? Reagan could not get through a Republican primary without being laughed off the stage today.

    Why does this matter? For one thing, it’s at least interesting to appreciate the fact that Republicans have a religious-like reverence for Reagan, they have no use for his approach to governance.

    For another, it should tell the American mainstream something important when the GOP moves so far to the ideological extreme that it’s no longer the Party of Reagan.

  27. rikyrah says:

    anyone going to watch Scandal with Kerry Washington tonight on ABC?

  28. rikyrah says:

    Mitt Romney Doubles Down On Medicare Distortions
    Sahil Kapur- April 5, 2012, 6:14 AM

    Mitt Romney made a series of claims Wednesday that distort President Obama’s positions on Medicare, an indication that he’s sticking with an earlier, misleading line of attack as he gets closer to winning the Republican nomination for president.

    “I’d be willing to consider the president’s plan, but he doesn’t have one. That’s right: In over three years, he has failed to enact or even propose a serious plan to solve our entitlement crisis,” Romney said in a speech to the Newspaper Association of America in Washington, D.C. “Instead, he has taken a series of steps that end Medicare as we know it. He is the only president to ever cut $500 billion from Medicare. And, as a result, more than half of doctors say they will cut back on treating seniors.”

    Romney attacked Obama for lacking a comprehensive plan to make Medicare’s long-term cost growth sustainable, while also claiming that the savings he wrung from the program, via the health care law, were unacceptable. It’s a partial contradiction based on a key distortion. Obama does, in fact, have a plan to rein in Medicare spending — one that Romney actually acknowledged later in the same speech.

    The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), created by the Affordable Care Act, would consist of 15 Senate-confirmed experts with the authority to cut Medicare payments to providers if costs exceed a certain level. (Obama and Rep. Paul Ryan, the author of the GOP plan, agree on what that level ought to be.) The approach sustains Medicare’s structure as a government-run insurance plan that directly pays medical bills for the elderly.

    That’s in stark contrast to the Republican plan, backed by Romney, which would begin phasing out Medicare and replacing it with a market exchange where seniors shop between subsidized private insurance plans and a public option.

    The former Massachusetts governor’s claim about seniors losing access to their doctors is based on a 2010 survey by the Physicians Foundation, the Romney campaign told TPM. Physician sources point out that two years later, the survey’s key findings have not materialized.

    Romney’s other argument is that the half a trillion in Medicare cuts under “Obamacare” will devastate the program. The savings were wrung from health care providers, and included some $136 billion in payment reductions to private insurers in Medicare Advantage.

    “He is destroying the Medicare Advantage program,” Romney said, “eliminating the coverage that millions of seniors depend on and reducing choice by two-thirds.”

    As it turns out, those cuts have made the program more competitive — over the last two years, Medicare Advantage premiums have fallen and enrollment has risen, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

  29. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 09:03 AM ET, 04/05/2012
    The Morning Plum: Is Paul Ryan the new Newt Gingrich?
    By Greg Sargent

    President Obama’s speech on Tuesday, and Mitt Romney’s answer to it yesterday, confirm beyond doubt that both sides are staking the election on the larger vision, priorities, and view of the proper role of government and the safety net that is reflected in the Paul Ryan budget. Which has many people asking: Can Obama and Dems use Ryan as a foil as effectively as Bill Clinton used Gingrich in his successful 1996 reelection campaign, which came only two years after a midterm shellacking rivaling 2010?

    Matt Miller has a nice column on the Obama campaign’s plan to rerun Clinton’s 1996 playbook:

    What was unveiled with Obama’s powerful speech is nothing less than a replay of Bill Clinton’s reelection argument in 1996. Back then, a colorless GOP leader named Bob Dole was successfully lashed to revolutionary Newt Gingrich’s budget, which Democrats argued would ravage Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment. Dole was morphed into Gingrich at least 125,000 times in negative ads (according to Gingrich’s later tally for me), killing Dole with independents and sullying Gingrich’s brand forever.
    Now Romney, who will start this fight with the highest negatives (over 50%) of any general-election contender in memory, confronts a political play that the president’s men invented and have been honing for 15 years.
    There are, of course, multiple reasons Ryan isn’t comparable to Gingrich. The latter cut a far higher and far more ascerbic profile than Ryan: Gingrich, striking the pose of a conservative populist rabble-rouser, had led the 1994 takeover of Congress, launching a series of stunts that turned him into a well known national figure who was named Time’s Man of the Year in 1995.

    Ryan, by contrast, is not nearly as well known, and is more a darling of conservative opinionmakers and Beltway inside-game players who have accorded Ryan an unearned designation as one of the most Fiscally Serious People in Washington. Ryan’s lower profile is perhaps best captured by those videos depicting him stalking the halls of Congress in a perpetual state of well-rehearsed deficit angst.

    But there are also parallels that could prove important. It’s often forgotten that a key ingredient to Clinton’s success was drawing a hard line on Medicare, which is again central to the presidential race 16 years later. Just as in 1996, education and the environment will also prove key to Obama’s argument that he’s the candidate of the future — a message Dems hope will resonate among women and upscale voters in states like Colorado, Virginia, and North Carolina.

    More broadly, the GOP, and even presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, have ceded to Ryan a startling amount of influence over the party’s fiscal policies, worldview, ideology, priorities and direction — and the resultant vision could prove just as alienating to independents, moderates and women as Newt did.

    If Gingrich himself was a useful foil in 1996, Ryan’s vision for the country’s future will play that role this time around. And yet, despite the economic radicalism of the Romney-Ryan vision, Republicans remain equally convinced Ryan is a plus for them. The fact that both sides are doubling down so hard on Ryan is yet another sign that this election represents perhaps the starkest clash of ideological visions we’ve seen in a presidential race in recent memory

  30. Ametia says:

    Fox hires Jesse Jackson’s daughter

    Secrets hears that Fox News Channel has hired Jesse Jackson’s eldest daughter, Chicago radio host Santita Jackson, as an on-air contributor. The coup is just the latest move by Fox to staff up talkers from the left and build its rep as the nation’s “fair and balanced” cable network.

    She will debut Friday at 7:15 a.m. on a Fox & Friends political panel.

    Along with Al Sharpton, Jackson is one of the leading personalities on Chicago’s WVON, which describes itself this way: “From 1963 to the present, WVON has gone from being ‘The Voice of the Negro’ to ‘The Voice of the Nation.’ We provide an interactive forum for the African-American community to discuss current, social, economic, and political issues. WVON is ‘The Talk of Chicago,’ where we are always giving you something to talk about.”

  31. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everone! :-)

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