Serendipity SOUL | Friday Open Thread | Bob Marley Week!

Happy FRY-day, Everyone! 3 Chics hopes you’ve enjoyed Bob Marley, our featured artist this week.

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68 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Friday Open Thread | Bob Marley Week!

  1. rikyrah says:

    (BlackMediaScoop) I don’t even know what to say about this mess! According to the Warren Ballentine show, 33 year old Desmond Hatchett has at least 30 kids with 11 different women! He holds a record for having the most kids in the Knox County Juvenile Child Support Court.

    I had four kids in the same year. Twice.” Desmond Hatchett said in an interview. He’s been begging for help from the state of Tennessee because he can’t afford the child support for all these kids! The children range in age from toddlers to 14 years old. There are at least 11 baby mamas; probably several more. Constitutionally, there is nothing the state of Tennessee can do to limit him from having more kids.

    The last time he was in court he had 21 kids and his name appeared on the docket 11 times, this was back in 2009. If my math is correct, that means he’s had at least 9 MORE kids in the last 3 years!

    Hatchett spent some time in jail back in 2009 while a child support referee decided how to split up the $400 he brought to court. $400! lol At the time, if he didn’t pay what he owed, he would go back to jail because he’s on an automatic jail order. SMDH!

    The mothers of Hatchett’s children are supposed to get anywhere from $25 to $309 a month, but when his paycheck is split up amongst them all, some women only get a $1.98 a month.

  2. Ametia says:

    Ouch! That’s gonna leave a mark, Timmy!

  3. rikyrah says:

    Rubio’s DREAM Act conspiracy theory
    By Steve Benen – Fri May 11, 2012 1:04 PM EDT.

    Ironically, as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) makes more of an effort to raise his national profile, it’s getting far more difficult to take him seriously. Comments like the ones he made yesterday are just clownish.

    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the White House is trying to sabotage his version of the DREAM Act by “ordering” activists not to work with him so that President Obama can maintain his hold on the Latino vote in the 2012 election.

    “One of the things that already been documented is that the White House has been, the articles that have been written, two or three by now, the White House has been calling in DREAM Act advocates and asking them, almost ordering them, not to work with me on this issue,” Rubio said Thursday on the Laura Ingraham radio show

    As Rubio sees it, his proposal would have a shot at passage, were it not for Democrats and immigration-reform advocates who’ve been ordered not to cooperate. Why? Because the White House wants to use GOP opposition to the DREAM Act as a 2012 “wedge issue” with Latino voters.

    As proof of the White House working behind the scenes to kill legislation that does not yet exist, Rubio offered … pretty much nothing. The far-right senator alluded to “articles” showing administration officials instructing advocates not to work with him, but he hasn’t pointed to any specific pieces.

    Whether Rubio appreciates the larger context or not, his conspiracy theory is absurd. The White House isn’t killing the senator’s watered-down version of the DREAM Act; Republicans are.

    Mitt Romney’s chief advisor on immigration policy said Rubio’s plan is a non-starter, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the Florida senator shouldn’t even bother with his bill because it’s not going to pass.

    Are we to believe the Romney campaign and the House GOP leadership are acting on instructions from Obama?

    As one White House official recently told Sahil Kapur, “The notion that somehow the president or Democrats would be the roadblock to any progress on immigration is ridiculous. If this proposal fails, the reason will be the Republicans.”

  4. rikyrah says:

    Bullying and Mitt Romney’s Empathy Problem

    Yesterday, the Washington Post reported about an incident in 1965 where Mitt Romney led the bullying of a high school classmate. According to five of his peers, Romney took issue with John Lauber’s long, bleached-blond hair. So he led a group of boys who held him down, and then cut his hair off.

    Romney claims not to remember the incident, but he did offer a general apology for high school “hijinks” that went too far. While lots of people are expressing incredulity that Romney could forget such an incident, I actually believe him. I never got to use my psychology major professionally, but one of my main takeaways from my undergrad studies is that human memory is not very accurate and we forget and misremember events all the time—especially distant ones.

    The story is more damning for Romney in other ways. It’s telling that the campaign seems to be having so much difficulty finding any friends from the Cranbrook School to talk to the media about what a good guy he was. The Romney camp reached out to Stuart White (who threw the party where Mitt and Ann Romney met) asking him to make supportive remarks. Instead, White contacted ABC News and expressed his ambivalence to do so, saying “it’s been a long time since we were pals.”

    Another old friend of Romney’s told ABC on background that Romney’s behavior in high school was “like Lord of the Flies” and that a number of people from Cranbrook have “really negative memories” of him.

    Is there really no one from Cranbrook that Romney can persuade to vouch for him? The whole thing gives the sense that Romney was a Regina George-like figure in high school—“popular,” but mostly because other students were afraid to cross him.

    This incident, and the reactions of his classmates, reflect quite badly on Romney’s character as a teenager. But do they tell us anything about Romney today? Romney has had lots of formative experiences in the intervening 47 years—college and graduate school, a Mormon mission, marriage, raising five children, founding a successful company, running the Olympics and a state. Lots of people are pretty horrible as teenagers (I don’t look back fondly on my teen self, either) and yet grow into more responsible, more compassionate adults.


    That said, there is a difference between learning to treat others respectfully and having empathy for them. It seems like teenage Mitt Romney fell down on both of those counts, and I’m confident that adult Mitt Romney has figured the respect thing out. But does Romney have empathy for people who are different from him?

    The tone of Romney’s reaction today does not look good on the empathy front. Referring to an assault on a classmate as “hijinks and pranks” is pretty tone-deaf. Let’s say you were told about an incident in your teenage years that you had forgotten, where you behaved cruelly and caused a lot of distress to other people. Wouldn’t you, as Dan Foster describes, feel a little bit ashamed? That’s not at all evident in Romney’s reaction to this story.

    And while Romney denies that he would have thought that a classmate was gay, it’s clear that Lauber was singled out for his nonconformity. This incident reflects not just that teen Romney being a jerk, but that he was using his in-group status to pick on an outsider—has adult Romney reflected on that?

  5. rikyrah says:

    The Right Panics

    How else to explain the ludicrous story at Breitbart claiming the entire story of Romney’s high school gay-bashing has “imploded.” The reason for this assertion is that the Post did indeed get something wrong – one of the sources had not “long been bothered” by an incident he didn’t witness. He found out about it when the Post called. And the Post should have added a formal correction than just fixing a sentence. [Update: they are now adding an Editors’ Note.] But this information changes nothing about the core of the story, still testified to by others and not denied by Romney.

    One of John Lauber’s sisters, quoted in the story, says she did not know of the incident at the time. But a kid who, after the assault and battery, cut his hair short to conform to Romney’s strictures, was not likely to tell others of what happened. The victims of bullies often feel shame and keep quiet. So no logic there either. The Breitbart piece also claims other factual inaccuracies but without citing any specifics, it’s impossible to judge.

    But the weirdest point is that somehow the fact that John Lauber went on to live a full life disproves he was traumatized. How? Plenty of bullied gay kids go on to recover and live full lives. It gets better, remember? I’m with Joe Klein (as always) on this:

    I’m still waiting for the moment when Romney actually tells the truth about something difficult.

    He could have said, “You know, I’ve been troubled by the Cranbrook episode for most of my life, and I feel relieved, in a way, that it’s come out now. I did a really stupid and terrible thing. Teenage boys sometimes do such things, and deserve to be punished for them. What I most regret is that I never apologized to John, and won’t be able to now that he’s gone, but let me apologize to his family and friends. Bullying is unacceptable under any circumstances. It is especially unacceptable when prejudice–against race, ethnicity or sexual orientation–is involved. If elected President, I will try to atone for my teenage behavior by campaigning against bullying all across this country. What I did back then should be an example of how not to behave. I hope we can all learn from this. I know that I have.”

    Instead, Romney has a near-perfect record of cowardice, obfuscation and downright lies. It shows enormous disrespect for the intelligence of the public.

  6. rikyrah says:

    11 May 2012 01:02 PM

    “Pranks” Ctd

    A reader writes:

    Pranking authority is one thing, but taking advantage of a particular physical weakness of another person, authority figure or not, is quite another. If he’d knocked over a teacher in a wheelchair, would you excuse it in the same way you did the incident with the blind teacher? It’s no different than bullying a weaker, presumed-gay, kid. In some ways, it’s less excusable, since attitudes towards gays were very different back then.

    I’m mostly blind. I take this story as personally as you probably take the story of gay bashing.

    Another writes:

    Your statement that “[l]eading a blind teacher into a door is cruel, but it’s still within the category of prank, in part because it targets authority” made me physically uncomfortable. How is that not merely bullying someone for the sin of being blind? How is that a stand against authority? It is merely another instance of a prick doing something prickish to someone weaker out of a love for being a prick.

    Neither of these episodes is defensible and especially not defensible, as your comment implies, as satire. Cruelty is cruelty is cruelty and bullying is bullying is bullying. Simply because one might identify more with one victim than another does not make the suffering of the other victim less noteworthy.

    Also, you should take note that Mr Romney’s alleged apology, “I’m sorry if anyone was offended,” is a non-apology and is the standard one offered by pricks around the world

    My readers, on reflection, are right. I apologize for minimizing the cruelty of this. Maybe it would help if I gave two examples of pranks from my high school days that qualify as pranks. We had a history teacher who had a simian-looking face: small beedy eyes a little too close together and a large round jaw. On his first day, whenever he turned his back to the boys, a chorus of monkey noises would come from the back-row. The next morning, he walked into the class to find a bunch of bananas on his desk. (He was white, by the way. This wasn’t racist.) This continued and continued and continued. It was brutal. It was cruel. But we were thirteen. And we thought it was funny.

    Then there was the teacher with a hearing aide. One morning, the usual suspects in my class organized it so that every student would mime talking and chattering as he walked in, while keeping deadly quiet. I couldn’t join in. I just sat there doing nothing. The teacher looked a little perplexed, took out his hearing aide and adjusted it upwards. The mimes became low murmurs. He turned it up some more. And then the signal was given: everybody scream! The teacher looked like he was having a heart attack, but mercifully recovered quickly and put us all in detention.

    I don’t want to get too squeamish about this. One of my fellow students, Keir Starmer, is now Britain’s Director of Public Prosecutions, a version of the US’s attorney general. We all grow up. But there remains something raw about the violence of Romney’s assault on a gay kid and his humiliation of a blind man that goes beyond pranks against teachers.

    One of the key tests for me of anyone’s character is their response to cruelty. Cruelty I would describe as the punishment of the weak by the strong. At Cranbrook, Romney had everything: the father who was a former governor of the state, a sharp intellect, a classic handsome face, charming, and to the manor born. And yet when he saw a younger effeminate kid with a non-conformist look, he felt no compunction in assaulting him with a pair of scissors, cutting off clumps of his hair. He saw a blind man and tormented him. Today, he favors balancing the budget entirely on the backs of the poor, while cutting taxes further for the rich, and as a Bain consultant posed for a photograph with dollar bills stuffed all over his body.

    This tells you something about a man’s character. And how he would behave as president. It sickens me.

  7. Ametia says:

    Colin Powell’s New Book: Bush Administration Never Debated Iraq War
    by Andrew Kirell | 12:25 pm, May 11th, 2012

    In his new book, former Secretary of State Colin Powell confirms that there was no serious debate within the George W. Bush administration during the 2003 run-up to the war with Iraq.

    In one chapter of the book, obtained in advance by the Huffington Post, Powell writes about his well-known 2003 speech before the United Nations in which he presented what was later found to be misinformation about Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. He explains that by the time he delivered that speech, war was already imminent.

    “By then, the President did not think war could be avoided,” Powell writes. “He had crossed the line in his own mind, even though the NSC [National Security Council] had never met — and never would meet — to discuss the decision.”

    In hindsight, Powell describes the speech as “one of my most momentous failures.”

  8. rikyrah says:

    Quote For The Day

    “Scour Romney’s record for a single example of real political courage — a single, solitary instance, however small, where Romney placed principle or substance above his own short- term political interests. Let me know if you find one … His campaign has been an exercise in feeble appeasement. The only thing he appears to be dedicated to is abasing himself to the hard-right wing of the Republican Party. Consider the way he allowed a foreign-policy spokesman to be drummed out of the campaign simply for being gay … Romney flunks the character test. He seems incapable of making the hard, sometimes unpopular, choices that are part of the job,” – Gerald Rafshoon, former spokesman for president Carter

  9. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 12:34 PM ET, 05/11/2012 Repeal-and-replace, RIP
    By Jonathan Bernstein

    Some House and Senate Republicans are now admitting what’s been obvious from the start: that the Republican vow to “repeal and replace” Obama’s health law has always been a bait-and-switch.

    Phil Gangley, a Republican Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, tells The Hill’s Sam Baker that there’s no need to replace the law, after all: “I don’t believe we need to have another big omnibus bill that we’re going to roll out.” Senator Jim DeMint says the same thing: “Republicans shouldn’t repeat the Democrats’ mistake of rushing through our own big bill.” Of course, regardless of what they say, all we really need to pay attention to is what they do: no committee hearings, no legislation, no nothing.

    Just to make the record clear on all of this: Republicans ran on “repeal and replace” in the 2010 election. After the House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act in January 2011, five committee chairs wrote an op-ed saying that “replacing this law is a policy and a moral imperative” and pledging that “compassionate, innovative and job-creating health care reform is what’s next.” They said they would “hold hearings in Washington and around the country,” and that “repeal is the first, not the last step.” As recently as this January, a key subcommittee chair was still promising that the repeal bill would be ready to go as soon as the Supreme Court rules on ACA.

    But of course, none of that happened. It’s all been a fraud from the beginning. Repeal, yes. Replace? They haven’t even held the hearings they promised.

    Oh, and just in case you’re wondering: no, the decision to supposedly switch from a comprehensive bill to a series of smaller measures doesn’t get them off the hook, because sixteen months into Republican control of the House, they haven’t done that, either.

    “Repeal and replace” is not the most brazen mendacity that Republicans are guilty of on health care reform — that would be their ongoing campaigning against Medicare cuts in the Democratic bill even as they support much larger Medicare cuts in their own budget. But it’s up there

  10. rikyrah says:

    New Wall Street Scandal Threatens Romney
    Brian Beutler- May 11, 2012, 12:11 PM

    A surprising development on Wall Street Thursday could magnify a little-discussed but key difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney — one with enormous consequences for public policy.

    On a conference call with analysts, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon announced that his firm had lost $2 billion investing in the same species of derivative that exacerbated the 2008 financial crisis.

    Dimon claims the company is prepared to absorb the loss, but it puts the reputation of one of the only big firms to weather the 2008 financial crisis directly on the line.

    This is exactly the type of major loss of depositor money that the Obama administration sought to ban with one of the major planks of its 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law — the Volcker Rule, named after former Fed chairman Paul Volcker. And that’s bad news for Romney, who wants to repeal the whole law, Volcker Rule and all.

    Neither the Obama administration nor the Obama campaign would comment on the record about the JPM loss, or its policy implications, but an administration official did allow that it underscores the importance of fully implementing Dodd-Frank.

    The Volcker Rule is still being developed by regulators, won’t be implemented until late July at the earliest. It’s intended to ban banks from gambling with depositor funds in what are known as proprietary trades. Dimon claims that the investment in question wouldn’t have violated the rule had it been in effect — he says the bets JPM made were meant to hedge against potential losses in other investments. But finance experts have cast doubt on that claim, and Dimon himself admitted that the incident will provide ammunition for the Volcker Rule supporters.

    If he’s right, it’s a concern for Romney and could cement Romney’s reputation for coziness with Wall Street. His campaign isn’t backing away from Romney’s previous positions, but the needle it’s trying to thread is pretty clear.

  11. rikyrah says:

    News Alert: SEC opens investigation into JPMorgan’s trading loss – NYT

  12. Ametia says:

    Rolling back the clock on Wall Street
    By Steve Benen
    Fri May 11, 2012 11:11 AM EDT

    In the financial world, the biggest story of the day is JPMorgan Chase. As Matt Yglesias explained, “Remember the ‘Volcker Rule’ that was supposed to stop systemically significant financial institutions from racking up huge losses on proprietary speculative bets? Well … JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon announced that his company just lost $2 billion on some of (French-born) ‘London Whale’ Bruno Iksil’s bets on credit default swap indexes.”

  13. Ametia says:

    Romney’s team starts to look like Bush’s

    Ed Gillespie served as President George W. Bush’s right-hand man and now is a top political adviser to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

    R. Glenn Hubbard and Greg Mankiwled Mr. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers. Now they are Mr. Romney’s economic brain trusts.

    The same can be said for his foreign policy team, where Mr. Romney boasts a number of faces from the Bush old guard, including former CIA Director Michael V. Hayden and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Today, they are the former Massachusetts governor’s go-to guys on counterterrorism.

  14. Ametia says:

    Your weekly dose of Chauncey! Go check him out.

    Friday, May 11, 2012
    Unintended Consequences: Is Racism a “Mental Illness?” If So, are White Racists a Protected Class of Citizens?

  15. Ametia says:

    Lat one, for now.. Say my NAME, say my name

  16. Ametia says:

    Last night’s “Scandal” STEAMY Scene

  17. rikyrah says:

    Barack Obama Teaches Mitt Romney How Humans React When They Do Something Wrong
    by Tommy Christopher | 10:50 am, May 11th, 2012

    The Mitt Romney high school bullying story has sent right-wingers into a frenzy of the usual denials and deflections, but one example of these tactics, advanced by Sean Hannity Thursday night, only serves to reinforce the real problem with Romney’s 48 year-old bullying incident: his bizarre reaction. Hannity and others are pointing to a passage in Dreams From My Father to tar President Obama as a bully, but are characteristically leaving out the most important part.

    The alleged bullying incident itself, while disturbing, didn’t need to be a big problem for the presumptive Republican nominee, but the series of increasingly bizarre, contradictory, and callous reactions from the candidate and his campaign have demonstrated that Romney learned little from the incident, if he even remembers it.

    Right-wingers, meanwhile, are engaged in an increasingly desperate damage control campaign. On the somewhat reasonable end of the scale are people like my friend Matt Lewis, who point out that Stu White, one of the people quoted in the WaPo story later told ABC News that he didn’t witness the incident, and only found out about it when the Post contacted him. The only problem is that White never gave any account of the incident to WaPo. They started with five witnesses, and they now have…five witnesses. Trying to pretend this never happened is a losing strategy, since Romney himself, even while claiming not to remember the incident, says he “won’t argue” with the reporting.


    Then, there’s the tried-and-true tit-for-tat strategy, in which Hannity and others dredge up a superficially similar incident, and try to call it even. In this case, it’s another passage from Barack Obama’s 1995 autobiography Dreams From My Father. Here’s the part the right-wingers are using:

    “I’m not her boyfriend!” I shouted. I ran up to Coretta and gave her a slight shove; she staggered back and looked upat me, but still said nothing. “Leave me alone!” I shouted again. And suddenly Coretta was running, faster and faster,until she disappeared from sight. Appreciative laughs rose around me. Then the bell rang, and the teachers appeared to round us back into class.

    It was a moment of weakness, to be sure, in which a ten year-old Barack Obama, surrounded by other children who were taunting him and Coretta, succumbed to peer pressure. Here’s how he wound up in that situation:

    There was one other child in my class, though, who reminded me of a different sort of pain. Her name was Coretta,and before my arrival she had been the only black person in our grade. She was plump and dark and didn’t seem tohave many friends. From the first day, we avoided each other but watched from a distance, as if direct contact wouldonly remind us more keenly of our isolation.

    Finally, during recess one hot, cloudless day, we found ourselves occupying the same corner of the playground. Idon’t remember what we said to each other, but I remember that suddenly she was chasing me around the jungle gymsand swings. She was laughing brightly, and I teased her and dodged this way and that, until she finally caught me and we fell to the ground breathless.

    When I looked up, I saw a group of children, faceless before the glare of the sun, pointing down at us.

    “Coretta has a boyfriend! Coretta has a boyfriend!”

    The chants grew louder as a few more kids circled us.“She’s not my g-girlfriend,” I stammered. I looked to Coretta for some assistance, but she just stood there looking down at the ground.

    “Coretta’s got a boyfriend! Why don’t you kiss her, mister boyfriend?”

    What Hannity, et al, fail to disclose is what Obama wrote immediately following the excerpt they’re flogging:

    For the rest of the afternoon, I was haunted by the look on Coretta’s face just before she had started to run: her disappointment, and the accusation. I wanted to explain to her somehow that it had been nothing personal; I’d just never had a girlfriend before and saw no particular need to have one now. But I didn’t even know if that was true. Iknew only that it was too late for explanations, that somehow I’d been tested and found wanting; and whenever I snuck a glance at Coretta’s desk, I would see her with her head bent over her work, appearing as if nothing had happened, pulled into herself and asking no favors.

    My act of betrayal bought me some room from the other children, and like Coretta, I was mostly left alone.

    Perhaps adding poignancy to the story is Corretta’s ( recollection in a 2009 interview:

    Coretta is Joella Edwards, who now lives in Florida. In interviews, she recalled the day Barry Obama arrived as a fifth-grader, having returned to Hawaii from four years in Indonesia with his mother. “He had a brown and white weird-design shirt, and just kind of stood there,” Ms. Edwards said. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, there’s another black person here.’ ”

    “I was ‘the lonely only’ until he came,” she said, adding that she wished she had known then how sympathetic Mr. Obama felt. Five years later Ms. Edwards left Punahou, tired of “the n-word” and taunts of “Aunt Jemima,” she said.

    There are a number of obvious differences between this incident and Romney’s, chief among them that Barack Obama actually bothered to remember the incident, and not because some newspaper dug it up, but because it really bothered him. He didn’t try to laugh it off. Like many of the revelations that the right wing likes to harp on (yes, Sean, if only people knew that President Obama used drugs in college), Barack Obama learned from it.

  18. rikyrah says:

    JP Morgan Loses $2 Billion in Massive Failed Effort to Exploit Volcker Rule Loophole

    Remember the “Volcker Rule” that was supposed to stop systemically significant financial institutions from wracking up huge losses on proprietary speculative bets? Well earlier this evening JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon announced that his company just lost $2 billion on some of (French-born) “London Whale” Bruno Iksil’s bets on credit default swap indexes.

    Dimon repeatedly insisted that the whole operation is Volcker-compliant, and JP Morgan is describing the operation as an effort at hedging gone wrong. Nobody knows exactly what happened, but in general if you just lost $2 billion that’s a good sign that you’re not hedging. The idea of hedging is to accept a small cost in order to insure yourself against the risk of a big loss. Two billion dollars is a big loss even for JP Morgan. So why call it hedging? Presumably because the Volcker Rule allows proprietary trading for the purposes of hedging. This turns out to be a big loophole. As it happens in this case JP Morgan has a big enough capital buffer to eat the loss and they only lost $2 billion rather than $20 billion. But nothing was stopping them from screwing up even worse.

    Meanwhile, fine wine flashback to April 4:

    Dimon’s biggest regulatory beef is with a requirement that will force JPMorgan and other large banks that are deemed “Systemically Important” to hold as much as a third more capital than the minimum other banks have to hold to protect themselves against bad loans and other losses. He called the rule “contrived,” and said that it would make the banks less diversified, not more so. Dimon said he also had problems with the Volcker rule, which limits banks’ ability to make risky trades, and with rules that govern derivatives, an area that JPMorgan is big in.

    Indeed, if only JP Morgan were allowed to run a thinner capital buffer and riskier trades. Then we’d all feel safe.

  19. Ametia says:

    Rikyrah, did you watch Scandal last night? OMG “STEAMY”

  20. Ametia says:

    The President Dares To Defy Franklin Graham
    May 11, 2012 9:02 AM
    By Ed Kilgore

    We still don’t know for sure who if anyone is responsible for shoving 93-year-old Billy Graham back into the harness of right-wing politics after so many years of devoting himself to loftier causes, in order to marginally boost the numbers for North Carolina’s Amendment One. But this statement from his son in response to the president’s announcement of support for same-sex marriage is certainly a pretty big hint:

    On Tuesday my state of North Carolina became the 31st state to approve a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. While the move to pass amendments defining marriage is relatively new, the definition of marriage is 8,000 years old and was defined not by man, but by God Himself.

    In changing his position from that of Senator/candidate Obama, President Obama has, in my view, shaken his fist at the same God who created and defined marriage. It grieves me that our president would now affirm same-sex marriage, though I believe it grieves God even more.

    The institution of marriage should not be defined by presidents or polls, governors or the media. The definition was set long ago and changing legislation or policy will never change God’s definition. This is a sad day for America. May God help us.”

    A swift response to Franklin Graham from a fellow North Carolina minister, the Rev. Murdoch Smith, pastor of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Charlotte, said it all for me: “I am always suspect when someone says that they know the mind of God.”

    I understand that many sincere Christians fundamentalists believe they are submitting themselves to God and subordinating their own egos and their own self-interest by simply following in their lives what they understand to be infallible divine revelation of the Bible. Many of them, indeed, are so humble it would not occur to them to impose their views on other people, much less force them to live as they do.

  21. Ametia says:

    Jindal may be the answer to Romney’s VP question
    By Scott Conroy Campaign 2012

    CBS News) People have always told Bobby Jindal to slow down.
    The Louisiana governor has a tendency to speak faster than his audience is able to think, so when it came time to deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress in 2009, the most important speech of Jindal’s political life, he made sure to take it slow.
    What resulted was an oratorical disaster.
    On live national television, Jindal spoke in a jarring, singsong pitch that replaced his natural rapid-fire monotone. Even longtime friends found it difficult to concentrate on what he was saying, and the reviews were almost uniformly withering.
    The man who had been regarded as the future of the Republican Party was suddenly the butt of a national joke.
    “The delivery was absolutely awful,” Jindal recalled of the notorious speech in a phone interview with RCP from his Baton Rouge office on Wednesday. “But if you look beyond the delivery and actually look at the substance, the whole point of my speech at that point in time was to say that the president is proposing a nearly $800 billion stimulus plan. Our country can’t afford this level of spending and borrowing.”
    And with that, Jindal launched into a blizzard of statistics on the growth of the GDP, a list of negative outcomes of health care reform and, for good measure, a quotation from Napoleon Bonaparte about leadership before finally coming up for air several minutes later

  22. Ametia says:

    The Bare Minimum…Wage

    May 8, 2012 by Brooklyn Dame 1 Comment

    Living in one of Americas most expensive cities, and hailing from an expensive city overseas, has often made me wonder what it would be like to live somewhere with a significantly lower cost of living. I’m sure that neither the salaries nor the perks of living in NYC would be quite what I’d want them to be. Many people have options about where to live, and though some may say that we all have choices about where we live, I submit that if a person is living on bare subsistence wages the chances are that s/he will not have the means to relocate to presumably greener pastures.

    Most of us know there is a staggering wealth divide in this country, but how many of us know the costs associated with living where we do, and what the minimum wage is in our respective states? The U.S. Department of Labor compiles a list of minimum wages and the states’ laws; some states, such as Alabama, have no minimum wage law while others use a formulaic plan such as this one in California:


    Video here:

  23. rikyrah says:

    Why Recall Scott Walker?
    by BooMan
    Thu May 10th, 2012 at 06:32:53 PM EST

    When he was running for the office, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker made a promise to create 250,000 private sector jobs and 10,000 new businesses in his state by the end of his first term. He is not making good progress. So far, under his leadership, Wisconsin has added only 5,900 private sector jobs. The governor got off to a bad start. In his first year in office, Wisconsin was dead-last in the country in job creation. It was the only time in twenty years of record keeping that Wisconsin suffered that indignity. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that Wisconsin was the only state in the nation to suffer statistically significant job losses between March 2011 and March 2012. That was in large part because the state shed nearly 18,000 public sector jobs.

    The public sector has been under sustained attack since Walker took over the government. In addition to massive lay-offs and the revocation of collective bargaining rights, the workers who remain are spending an average of 3,000 additional dollars a year on their health care plans and have taken a collective pay-cut estimated at $700 million. Another nearly billion dollars has been taken out of the Wisconsin economy through cuts to state programs and projects.

    Walker’s radicalism has done damage across the board. By outright rejecting $553 million in federal funds ($390 million for high-speed rail and $130 million for Medicaid), the governor destroyed an estimated 4,700 private-sector jobs. In explaining Wisconsin’s anemic jobs performance, Walker can’t point to a down economy or outside forces. His state has been the worst performer in the country, and he has no one to blame but himself.

    In the normal course of things, you’d think major industrialists and capitalists would be profoundly disappointed in Governor Walker’s performance in office. He’s not making anyone money. Wisconsin isn’t a place they want to invest. There has been no explosion of new businesses opening up. But these aren’t normal times, and Walker isn’t being judged on normal factors. Consider the biggest donors to his recall effort:

    Walker’s biggest donors include Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who kept Newt Gingrich afloat and fed $250,000 to the first-term governor; Rich DeVos, the Orlando Magic owner and Christian conservative founder of Amway, who also kicked in a quarter-million; and Texas home builder Bob Perry, known for bankrolling Republican causes ranging from Mitt Romney’s campaign to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who gave Walker $240,000. Foster Friess, who earned renown as Rick Santorum’s benefactor, gave $100,000. Americans for Prosperity, funded by the conservative Koch brothers, shelled out $700,000 to run TV ads in Wisconsin. ”We’re helping him, as we should. We’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years,” Koch told a reporter from the Palm Beach Post in February.

    For these billionaire conservatives, funding Walker isn’t about creating jobs in Wisconsin. It’s part of an ideological battle to destroy unions and privatize everything that isn’t nailed down. Just by applying some downward pressure on wages, Walker is making his benefactors happy.

    Meanwhile, a 12th person has been granted immunity in a case close enough to Scott Walker that he was allowed to create a legal defense fund.

    In Wisconsin, they have a governor who has the worst job creation record in the country, who is funded by ideological billionaires, who is under active investigation for committing crimes when he was the County Commissioner of Milwaukee, and whose actions have been so radical and polarizing that he could become only the third governor in the nation’s history to be recalled from office. Yet, a Rasmussen poll out today says he’s going to win. And he might. He has a better than 20-to-1 cash advantage on his opponent, Tom Barrett.

  24. Ametia says:

    Los Angeles event brings in nearly $15 million for Obama campaign

    The president visits George Clooney’s house in Los Angeles’ Studio City neighborhood for a big-name fundraising dinner that may set a record.

    By Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times
    May 10, 2012, 10:58 p.m.

    In an exclusive backyard soiree at George Clooney’s house in Studio City, President Obama headlined a star-studded fundraiser Thursday night that pumped nearly $15 million into his reelection effort, believed to be the largest one-night campaign haul ever.

    The dinner party took place one day after Obama announced his support for gay marriage, a popular issue with the Hollywood crowd and one that he highlighted.

    “Obviously yesterday we made some news,” Obama said to applause. “But the truth is it was a logical extension of what America is supposed to be. It grew directly out of this difference in visions. Are we a country that includes everybody and gives everybody a shot and treats everybody fairly and is that going to make us stronger? Are we welcoming to immigrants? Are we welcoming to people who aren’t like us — does that make us stronger? I believe it does. So that’s what’s at stake.”

    The gathering took place under a tent on the basketball court in Clooney’s backyard, and was hosted by DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg. About 150 people paid $40,000 each to attend, and gathered around circular tables decorated with gold tablecloths and yellow and purple flowers.

    Wolfgang Puck cooked for the attendees, including Robert Downey Jr., Diane Von Furstenberg, Trina Turk, Barbra Streisand, James Brolin, Tobey Maguire, Billy Crystal, Jack Black, Salma Hayek, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Valley Village).

    But not all the attendees were bold-faced names. The Obama campaign held a contest for supporters across the nation, asking for donations of as little as $3 for a chance to win airfare to Los Angeles and a spot at the dinner.,0,6723641.story?

  25. rikyrah says:

    Memory Loss Defense Makes it Relevant
    by BooMan
    Fri May 11th, 2012 at 12:37:04 AM EST

    Right-wingers have responded to the revelations about Mitt Romney’s bullying high school ways in the only way they really can: by denying it has any relevance. Who could be so cruel as to judge a man by his worst behavior in adolescence?
    Or, as I saw it sarcastically argued today on the Twitter Machine, “The fact is, boys will be boys. Who among us hasn’t shoved a crippled kid down a flight of stairs?”

    Which, of course, points out that while many, if not most, of us have at some point been bullies or bullied, at least none us ever strapped anyone to the roof of our car.

    Or led a gang of preppies on a hate-filled sortie to pin a queer kid down on the ground and clip his bleach-gold locks against his will?

    Yet, as I said before, that was almost fifty years ago. What matters is not what Romney did then, but what he does today. And, today, he denies any recollection of the event. That’s a character flaw. It doesn’t seem like anyone else that was there that day ever forgot it.

    The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another. Four of them — Friedemann, now a dentist; Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer; Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor; and David Seed, a retired principal — spoke on the record. Another former student who witnessed the incident asked not to be identified.

    The victim never forgot it.

    Sometime in the mid-1990s, David Seed noticed a familiar face at the end of a bar at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
    “Hey, you’re John Lauber,” Seed recalled saying at the start of a brief conversation. Seed, also among those who witnessed the Romney-led incident, had gone on to a career as a teacher and principal. Now he had something to get off his chest.

    “I’m sorry that I didn’t do more to help in the situation,” he said.

    Lauber paused, then responded, “It was horrible.” He went on to explain how frightened he was during the incident, and acknowledged to Seed, “It’s something I have thought about a lot since then.”

    …[Lauber’s] hair thinned as he aged, and in the winter of 2004 he returned to Seattle, the closest thing he had to a base. He died there of liver cancer that December. He kept his hair blond until he died, said his sister Chris. “He never stopped bleaching it.”

    Seems like he went to his grave cursing Mitt the Shit.

    And Romney doesn’t remember it? That’s a problem.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Newly-Released Video Shows Walker’s ‘Divide And Conquer’ Strategy Against Labor
    Eric Kleefeld- May 11, 2012, 12:33 AM

    A newly released video in Wisconsin could potentially have profound effects on the state’s recall election: Republican Gov. Scott Walker shown telling a wealthy supporter in January 2011 — before he introduced his legislation to roll back collective bargaining for public employees — that it was part of a “divide and conquer” strategy to take down organized labor, and potentially turn Wisconsin into a right-to-work state.

    The video, posted Thursday night by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, was shot on January 18, 2011, by documentary filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein, as part of a documentary project “As Goes Janesville,” about that industrial city’s efforts to recover from the loss of their old General Motors Plant. The Journal Sentinel notes that Lichtenstein has donated $100 to Walker’s Democratic opponent in the recall, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

    The video clip shows Walker meeting with Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks, who has since donated $510,000 to Walker’s campaign. Hendricks asked: “Any chance we’ll get to be a completely red state, and work on these unions, and become a right-to-work — what can we do to help you?”

    “Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill,” Walker said. “The first step is we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer. So for us, the base we get for that is the fact that we’ve got – budgetarily we can’t afford not to. If we have collective bargaining agreements in place, there’s no way not only the state but local governments can balance things out…That opens the door once we do that. That’s your bigger problem right there.”


    A month after that video was shot, of course, Walker introduced his legislation to curtail public employee unions, as part of a budget adjustment bill — setting off a wave of massive protests at the state Capitol and all across Wisconsin, followed by last year’s state legislative recalls, and finally the ongoing recall of Walker himself, his lieutenant governor, and four state senators.

    Walker has denied allegations that he would make Wisconsin a right-to-work state — for example, this past January his office reiterated to the Journal Sentinel that Walker would not be introducing such legislation.

  27. rikyrah says:

    House GOP pits Pentagon vs. poor
    By Steve Benen – Thu May 10, 2012 3:40 PM EDT.

    The House GOP leadership is supposed to prevent votes like today’s.
    Even by the standards of House Republicans, this was a rather extraordinary vote.

    The House voted Thursday to override steep cuts to the Pentagon’s budget mandated by last summer’s debt deal and replace them with spending reductions to food stamps and other mandatory social programs.

    While doomed in the Senate and opposed by the White House, the legislation, which would reduce the deficit by $243 billion, is a Republican marker for post-election budget talks with the White House.

    Zero Democrats voted for the bill, and the proposal went too far for 16 House Republicans, who broke ranks and voted with Dems.

    Now, I know what some of you are thinking: House Republicans voted to hurt the poor; it’s hardly unusual. But this one’s worth appreciating in more detail, because the GOP took an enormous election-year risk with this unusually callous proposal, and Democratic attack ads will write themselves.

    House Republicans proposed major cuts to the Defense budget as part of the debt-ceiling fiasco from last summer. They didn’t want the cuts, but they proposed the military reductions as a way to create an incentive for themselves to reach a bipartisan debt-reduction deal. But then GOP policymakers ran into a different problem: they didn’t want a bipartisan debt-reduction deal and they didn’t want their own proposed punishment.

    Which leads us to this new proposal. To offset the Pentagon cuts Republicans proposed but no longer support, the House GOP voted to find all of the savings by taking from programs that benefit struggling workers and families. Today’s measure is nothing short of brutal, slashing food stamps, nearly eliminating job-training programs, eliminating health care subsidies, slashing the child tax credit, and taking school meals from 200,000 low-income children.

    And all of this would come on top of the spending cuts Democrats already agreed to as part of the same debt-ceiling deal.

    It’s almost as if House Republicans want to collectively personify C. Montgomery Burns.


    The GOP isn’t just giving the appearance of cruel villains, they’re fighting to literally take food away from poor children to avoid cutting a massive Pentagon budget by even a penny.

    And best of all, they passed this measure today for no practical reason — House Republicans know full well the Senate will never pass this and President Obama will never accept it. In theory, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders are supposed to protect their caucus from ridiculous election-year votes like these, but instead, Republicans did all of this on purpose, knowing their callousness couldn’t pass anyway.

    It’s not only madness from a policy perspective, it’s also playing with fire from an electoral perspective. As Jonathan Bernstein explained earlier this week:

  28. rikyrah says:

    May 10, 2012
    For Obama, an entirely new war

    Since the “morality” question underlying President Obama’s announcement yesterday will always present a lively bugaboo for idle-handed Puritans and Augustinian neurotics, the only question of real and immediate import is the political, and not the moral, one: that is, whether social conservatives’ hatred of Mitt Romney will be trumped by their contempt for human love.

    Intensified turnout by the religious right–that’s the key, it seems. Less so is the matter of intensified, favorable turnout by the youthful left, which, though we tip our hats to its 2008 electoral participation, generally has been and probably will always remain a fickle, unreliable constituency.

    The crusading, hardcore religious right, however, knows how to hate. It knows how to seethe and how to organize and how to take unholy revenge. This is not a bear any careful politician enjoys poking; and it just became at least a wee bit friendlier to the infidel Romney, in places it might really count.

    Politico offers an excellent geopolitical overview:

    North Carolina … a pretty shaky proposition for Obama this year already, and it just got shakier.

    Florida … Not only do [its senior citizens] oppose [gay marriage] by lopsided margins, they also vote in disproportionately high percentages.

    Colorado … The new capital of evangelicalism … [is] not in the South. It’s Colorado Springs.

    Nevada … it’s best not to antagonize [the Mormon] constituency in a swing state like Nevada, where the presidential outcome in 2000 and 2004 was decided by less than 25,000 votes.

    Iowa … The [2010] backlash [against the state Supreme Court’s 2009 same-sex marriage decision] was as extreme as it sounds.

    Missouri … a state where Obama’s strength in St. Louis, Kansas City and some surrounding suburbs is counterbalanced by the parts of the state that sit squarely in the Bible Belt.

    Ohio … when Vice President Joe Biden privately argued for the president to refrain from expressing his support, he flagged two states where there could be a backlash — his native Pennsylvania and Ohio.

    What politicians fear most isn’t their dedicated opposition, which is strategically calculable; what they fear is unpredictability, which expands the number of undefended or potentially indefensible fronts. And Barack Obama, in making the boldest civil-rights move since LBJ wrote off the South, now faces an entirely new battleground, in an entirely new war.

    That he made it with loving aforethought, as political demons were whispering “no” over his shoulder, only made it all the more admirable and profound.

  29. rikyrah says:

    Mitt Romney, the Vicious Bully Who Never Grew Up
    By: Sarah JonesMay 10, 2012see more posts by Sarah Jones

    The Washington Post broke a story today about Mitt Romney bullying another student at Cranbrook. It was ugly, but it was high school. Romney dismissed it as such today, saying, “There’s going to be some that want to talk about high school. Well, if you really think that’s important, be my guest.”

    No, I don’t particularly think what happened in high school is important, but what is important is character. The problem with Mitt Romney’s apology today is what is missing from it. Nowhere in his apology do we get the sense that he knows why the things he did were wrong – and it wasn’t one incident of bullying a gay student. There was another incident that also hit me as chillingly cruel and telling. Romney “deliberately held a door closed while a sight-impaired teacher walked into it.”

    Romney’s apology consisted of, “Back in high school, I did some dumb things. And if anyone was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that.” He also said he doesn’t even remember pinning the victim down and cutting his hair.

    If anyone was hurt by it? That’s hardly the point. The point is that as a leader, Romney should be telling Americans what he learned from the experience and how he has grown. He should be condemning bullying, but instead he is playing the victim by taking refuge in his condescending implication that discussing his past is beneath him. The problem with his apology is it sounds like it came from the same Willard Romney who bullied the teenager and tricked a sight-impaired teacher into walking into a door.


    Mitt Romney’s apology reeks of a petulant teenager called to the Big D (the Disciplinary Committee to which I was once called, much to my horror and shame), who knows that his father can get him out of any trouble. I don’t see the best of someone who was so fortunate as to attend such an exciting school, full of opportunity to learn. I see the worst; I see the distant ethos of privilege so enshrined in Romney’s being that true compassion doesn’t stand a chance at penetration.

    He held a door so a sight-impaired teacher would walk into it. This was in high school, not junior high. He held a student down while cutting his hair. He mocked another with an “atta girl”. He doesn’t even remember doing this, so how can he really be sorry for it?

    He wasn’t disciplined for it then, and it doesn’t sound as if he learned anything since then. What kind of person holds a door so a sight-impaired person walks into it? The same person who many years later left his dog Seamus on the roof of his car for a twelve hour car drive. I’m not seeing compassion or growth, and it troubles me because I don’t even see the dawning recognition that perhaps he can learn something.

  30. rikyrah says:

    A Desperate Mitt Romney Claims Obama Planted Gay Bullying Story
    By: Jason EasleyMay 10, 2012

    Romney was asked by Fox News host Neil Cavuto if the he thought the Obama campaign planted the bullying story, and he answered, “Well, I think you’re going to find, throughout this campaign season, that the president’s team will be doing everything in their power to try and hold up very shiny objects many of them will be with regards to me…”

    According to Romney, this was all an evil Obama plot to distract the American people, but the facts don’t support his claims. While political folks and conspiracy theorists alike are speculating that Obama’s announced support for same sex marriage was choreographed, the reality is that Vice President Biden’s comments got the president to make his announcement a little ahead of schedule. CNN reported that Obama wasn’t supposed to make his support publicly known until his appearance next week on The View.

    If this was a diabolical setup, the Obama campaign managed to set up an unscheduled network news interview, have the Washington Post get the entire story including background research and interviews with Romney associates in about 48 hours, and have the finished story appear the morning paper after the unscheduled interview ran.

    This was no plot by Obama.

    In both the interviews that Romney has given to Fox News he has never denied that he bullied his fellow student, nor has he taken specific responsibility for his actions. By claiming he doesn’t remember the incident, but not denying it, Romney is admitting his guilt without taking responsibility.

    Mitt Romney can try to blame President Obama for this story, but a real leader would be blaming himself. Romney’s own decisions and actions created the story. Would the revelations that Mitt Romney was a bully mean as much if Romney supported same sex marriage? Probably not.

    Romney could have taken this opportunity to show America that he has the character of a leader by using his own actions as a teachable moment about bullying. Instead he has decided to concoct a wild conspiracy theory and blame President Obama.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Mitt Romney, Trust-Fund Bully (and Not Just in School)
    By Charles P. Pierce at 1:42PM

    In 2004, while serving the one term he served as governor of Massachusetts, Willard Romney decided that he would remake the culture of state politics by remaking the composition of the state legislature. He put the prestige of his office, and his personal credibility, which at that time was considerable, behind a slate of 131 Republican legislative candidates. He and the state GOP put together a $3 million direct-mail campaign. It was by far the most vigorous attempt by a Republican governor to reconfigure state politics in anyone’s memory.

    He failed.

    Then he quit.

    As recounted in the Boston Globe’s exhaustive series in 2007, shortly after his effort augered in — the Republicans wound up losing two seats in the Massachusetts House and one in the state senate — Romney met with the newspaper’s editorial board and told the board that he was finished doing anything for any other Republicans ever again.

    “From now on,” the newspaper reported, “it’s me-me-me.”

    Nobody who watched him use Massachusetts as a stepladder to where he is today can be surprised that, today, we have two garish examples of the fact that, for all his success in business and his well-manicured family raised on his well-manicured lawns, Romney is essentially an entitled fopdoodle who divides the world into two classes, Himself and The Help, and who is running for president because his golden life has taught him the essential lesson that there is nothing in the world he can’t charm and/or money-whip into his pocket if he really, really wants it.

    Read more:

  32. rikyrah says:

    Girl Scouts caught in a culture war (again)
    By Steve Benen – Fri May 11, 2012 9:10 AM EDT.

    Conservatives’ antipathy towards the Girl Scouts used to be found on the fringes. In 1994, for example, James Dobson’s Focus on the Family published a memorable attack on the Girl Scouts, insisting the group “lost their way” after the Scouts made a religious oath optional for membership.

    I can’t find it online anymore, but back in 2005, Amanda Marcotte had a great item about various paranoid voices on the right, complaining about “radical lesbian feminists” having taken over the Girl Scouts.

    Culture-war criticism of the Girl Scouts appears to be intensifying. The religious right keeps targeting the group; some Republican policymakers have done the same; and now the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is getting in on the act.

    At issue are concerns about program materials that some Catholics find offensive, as well as assertions that the Scouts associate with other groups espousing stances that conflict with church teaching. The Scouts, who have numerous parish-sponsored troops, deny many of the claims and defend their alliances.

    The inquiry coincides with the Scouts’ 100th anniversary celebrations and follows a chain of other controversies. […]

    Some of the concerns raised by Catholic critics are recycled complaints that have been denied by the Girl Scouts’ head office repeatedly and categorically. It says it has no partnership with Planned Parenthood, and does not take positions on sexuality, birth control and abortion.

    “It’s been hard to get the message out there as to what is true when distortions get repeated over and over,” said Gladys Padro-Soler, the Girl Scouts’ director of inclusive membership strategies.

    Michelle Tompkins, the Girl Scouts’ spokesperson, told the AP, “I know we’re a big part of the culture wars. People use our good name to advance their own agenda…. For us, there’s an overarching sadness to it. We’re just trying to further girls’ leadership.”

    Apparently, that’s a problem.


    It’s worth appreciating just how common this is. As recently as December, Fox News went after the group quite a bit, and CNN contributor Dana Loesch not only lamented the “moral decline” of the Girl Scouts, she also suggested conservatives should stop buying their cookies as a form of political protest.

    Comedy Central recently responded with the appropriate derision: “Don’t be fooled by those cute little outfits or merit badges. The Girl Scouts aren’t just selling you a pack of cookies — they’re selling you a pack of lies, with a light coating of toasted coconut communism. Why do the Girl Scouts teach survival skills? It’s clearly an attempt to build some kind of liberal tween militia. Volunteering and ‘helping’ others? Just another strategy to mobilize the working poor and other key Democratic voting blocs.”

    This was, in case it’s not obvious, sarcasm.

    While much of the mainstream likely considers Girl Scouts as American as moms, baseball, and apple pie, the culture warriors don’t seem to care.

  33. rikyrah says:

    And Now a Few Words on the Wisconsin Senate Circus
    By Charles P. Pierce at 4:56PM
    While most of the attention rightfully has fallen upon the efforts to get rid of Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage its midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, there are some signs that the various energetic gnomes at work in the Republican base who just tossed out the safest seat in the Senate in Indiana may be working to screw their own party further a little north of there. The undead spirits of Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle are walking the banks of the Fox River, howling for blood and hors d’oeuvres.

    As it happens, there are three candidates running in the Republican primary to replace retiring Senator Herb Kohl, a Democrat. (The Democratic candidate, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, is running unopposed.) One of them is Tommy Thompson, a former governor, a former Cabinet official under Ronald Reagan, very briefly once a presidential candidate, and, for many years, the face of Republican politics in the state. Another candidate is Jeff Fitzgerald, the current speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly, who is making the run despite having the Walker anchor tied to his ankles. (His older brother, Scott, is majority leader of the state senate and is facing a recall election of his own.) The third candidate is a former congressman named Mark Neumann and, boy howdy, are you going to love this guy. He makes Richard Mourdock, the guy who defenestrated Lugar in Indiana, look like Emma Goldman.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but Neumann, who was a foot soldier in the Gingrich revolution way back in the day, is completely batshit on the subject of gay people. Gay people make him feel icky, and Neumann is certain they make Jesus feel the same way. In 1997, he gave a speech to the local Christian Coalition and told them that he wouldn’t even hire gay people to work in his office….

    “If somebody walks in to me and say, ‘I’m a gay person; I want a job in your office.’ I would say, ‘that’s inappropriate’ and they wouldn’t be hired because that would mean they are promoting their agenda. The gay and lesbian lifestyle (is) unacceptable, lest there be any question about that.”

    (It should be noted that it was Scott Walker himself who saved the state from the experience of Governor Mark Neumann back in 2010, when Neumann tried so many twists and turns to explain his ongoing losing struggle with innate bigotry that his uvula got tangled with his pancreas.)

    Now watch where you step because we’re about to lower the bar here a tad, but, as modern Republicans go, Tommy Thompson is close to as good as you’re going to get. His welfare reforms in Wisconsin, while not the greatest thing that ever happened to the state’s poor people, at least contained committments to education and job-training, as opposed to the chuck-em-off-the-rolls theory put into practice by many of his fellows. And he has put together a plan for a high-speed rail system connecting all the hubs in the midwest from Cincinnati to St. Louis, and north all the way to Minneapolis, that has the strong support of former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, who cares more about trains than any man I’ve ever met. He is honorable, decent, and, in my experience, almost amiable. He also is the only one of the three that polling data says would beat Baldwin straight up. Mark Fitzgerald is a nebbish, and Mark Neumann is a nutcase.

    So, naturally, fresh off their triumph in Indiana, those fine folks at the Club For Growth have launched an ad blitz in Wisconsin in favor of… the nutcase!

    (Also, too: The nutcase has garnered the support of Senators Tom Coburn and Rand Paul, and, as Guy Clark once put it, there’s a pair to draw to, son. He’s also got Jim DeMint’s More Loons Like Me! PAC lining up behind him.)

    Why is the Club For Growth choosing to abandon what is an enormously winnable race for an open U.S. Senate seat to launch attacks on a guy who used to work for St. Ronnie? Well, let failed congresscritter Chris (The Count) Chocola explain it all to you:

    Today, Thompson still appears as an endorsement of this pro-ObamaCare group along with Obama and Tammy Baldwin, a far-left Wisconsin Congressman who is running as a Democrat for the same Senate seat. He served on their board of directors from at least 2009-2010. While Mark Neumann and the rest of you were fighting ObamaCare, Thompson was saddling up to President Obama and helping his labor allies pass it. That’s a fact, and it’s indisputable.

    Read more:

  34. rikyrah says:

    Rand Paul Is in on the Con, Belongs in His Underwear
    By Charles P. Pierce
    at 6:36PM

    I am gradually coming to the conclusion that Crazy Uncle Liberty (!) is doing all this finagling with delegates and stringing out the campaign until he gets what he wants, which is some sort of validation for his son, Senator Aqua Buddha of Kentucky, within the party that might make the kid a legitimate kind of presidential candidate in 2016 and going forward, so that The Revolution (!) can continue until our grandchildren are being bored by the whole business.

    Which leads us to Senator Aqua Buddha’s latest effort on behalf of FREEEEEEEDOOOOOMMM: endorsing a campaign in which a rifle appears to be aimed at the president’s head. That’s bad enough, but what really takes this beyond the event horizon of wingnuttery is that this while Million Gun Campaign is a complete fantasy. It is not going to happen. There is nobody seeking to make it happen. This is a pure con, aimed at a bunch of suckers in storm cellars listening to the shortwave, or to the fillings in their teeth. And a United States senator, a member of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, is working as the carny shill for this peculiar piece of bunco.

    If the price of Ron Paul’s support is that any thinking American has to stop laughing at his dimwitted spalpeen, the price to our democracy is too high.

    Read more:

  35. rikyrah says:

    Fighting for the Voting Rights Act
    By Steve Benen – Fri May 11, 2012 8:35 AM EDT

    .Josh Gerstein noted a few months ago, “In a political system where even the most trivial issues trigger partisan rancor, the Voting Rights Act has stood for several decades as a rare point of bipartisan consensus. Until now.”

    Quite right. The radicalization of the Republican Party has pushed GOP policymakers to extremes that would have been unthinkable up until very recently, and as hard as it is to believe, that includes new attempts to undermine the Voting Rights Act.

    Yesterday, for example, Rep. Paul Broun, a right-wing Georgia Republican, pushed a measure to block Justice Department funding for enforcing part of the civil-rights era law. His Georgian colleague, Rep. John Lewis (D), a legendary leader of the civil rights movement, took some time on the House floor to explain that this isn’t acceptable. The two-minute clip is worth your time.

    Lewis described it “almost unbelievable that any member, but especially a member from the state of Georgia,” would offer such an amendment. Defending the landmark legislation, and the systemic discrimination and voter-suppression tactics it helped overcome, the Democrat thundered, “People died for the right to vote! Friends of mine! Colleagues of mine!”

    Lewis described Broun’s proposal as “shameful.” The far-right lawmaker, chastened, took the unusual step of withdrawing his own amendment before it could be voted on, though his office said Broun still “fully believes in the intent” of his idea.

    I’m glad the Republican backed down, at least for now. But it doesn’t change the fact that Broun pushed the measure in the first place, and he’s one a growing number of right-wing GOP policymakers — in Congress and at the state level — who are openly hostile towards the Voting Rights Act. What’s more, this comes against a backdrop of systemic voter-suppression efforts unlike anything we’ve seen since Jim Crow laws, offering striking evidence of just how far Republicans are willing to go in the 21st century.

    It’s heartening that John Lewis is there to fight for laws like the Voting Rights Act. It’s dejecting that he still has to fight for laws that were celebrated by both parties in the recent past.

  36. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 08:31 AM ET, 05/11/2012

    The Morning Plum: No, Obama didn’t admit he `forgot’ about recession
    By Greg Sargent

    The Romney campaign and some on the right are having a grand old time blasting Obama for supposedly saying late yesterday that he ”forgot” about the recession. Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul claims Obama has “now admitted that he’s forgotten about the recession.”

    This is an absurd distortion. But it’s worth dwelling on, because it says an enormous amount about what this presidential camapign is all about.

    Here’s Obama’s actual quote, courtesy of Buzzfeed’s video:

    It was a house of cards, and it collapsed in the most destructive worst crisis that we’ve seen since the great depression. And sometimes people forget the magnitude of it , you know? And you saw some of that I think in the video that was shown. Sometimes I forget. In the last six months of 2008, while we were campaigning, nearly three million of our neighbors lost their jobs. Eight hundred thousand lost their jobs in the month that I took office. And it was tough. But the American people proved they were tougher.
    The Romney campaign’s response:

    It’s not surprising that a president who forgot to create jobs, forgot to cut the debt, and forgot to change Washington has now admitted that he’s forgotten about the recession. In fact, it seems that the President has forgotten that he’s been in office for the last three-and-a-half years. In November, the American people won’t forget.
    What Obama actually said, of course, is that sometimes he forgets about the magnitude of the crisis that hit before he took office and continued into the early months of his term. The irony here is really rich: It’s actually the Romney campaign that is heavily invested in getting voters to forget the magnitude of the crisis Obama inherited.

    The Romney statement above captures this perfectly. The claim that Obama “forgot to create jobs” is supposed to mean that a net total of zero jobs were created on Obama’s watch. This assertion rests on a metric that factors in the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of jobs that were lost while the economy was in free fall during Obama’s first few months in office, before his policies took effect, and blames Obama for those early job losses. Romney has used this metric for months. It’s central to his whole case against Obama.

    Watch the Obama campaign’s latest ad, and you’ll see that the conflict of job data interpretations displayed above is what this campaign is all about. The ad — like Obama’s comments yesterday — stresses the long view, the awfulness of the meltdown, and the two dozen months of private sector job creation that followed.

    Romney wants you to forget this recent history. His whole candidacy is based on an amnesia strategy: It is premised on the hope that voters either will forget about the severity and depth of the crisis Obama inherited, or won’t factor it into their decision this fall, and will instead hold Obama responsible for the sluggish pace of the recovery. And yet the Romney campaign is now accusing Obama of forgetting about the recession. Just perfect.

  37. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 01:36 PM ET, 05/10/2012
    What does Mitt Romney’s bullying tell us?
    By Greg Sargent

    The story of the morning is that 18-year-old Mitt Romney and a bunch of prep school buds bullied John Lauber, who had bleached blond hair that covered one eye and was relentlessly teased for his “nonconformity and presumed homosexuality,” as today’s Post puts it.

    Romney and his pals held Lauber down and Romney clipped the kid’s hair as he teared up and yelled for help. One former classmate called the episode “vicious.”

    Today, Romney apologized, though he didn’t cop to the actual episode:

    “Back in high school, I did some dumb things, and if anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that…I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school, and some might have gone too far, and for that I apologize.”
    It’s hard to see why this story isn’t fair game in journalistic terms. The conservative complaint this morning that it’s an unfair hit piece seems absurd: the man is running for president. Every aspect of his life is going to get picked over. It comes with the territory. It’s a deeply reported piece. In journalistic terms, the story is totally legit.

    But like Steve Benen, I’m of two minds about this one. On the one hand, based on what we know, this episode, plus the others detailed in the article, do seem to be more cruel and nasty than your garden variety teen razzing. I’ve seen a bunch of commentary out there to the effect that this reveals a real mean streak, a disdain for the weak, and an ugly side to his sense of privilege. Some have suggested that it reveals a homophobic streak.

    But when it comes down to it, this all happened too long ago and too early in Romney’s life to know with real certainty whether it’s revealing of any of those things or not — particularly when it comes to who Romney is right now. I can’t get around the simple fact that I wouldn’t want to be judged today by some of the things I did in my teens, and I suspect many others feel the same way.

    I’m not running for president, obviously, and it’s a reality of presidential politics that those who do run will have every facet and stage of their life scrutinized relentlessly for clues to who they are. And character matters in a presidential candidate. But Romney says he’s changed; I don’t know how you can prove or disprove that. And to me, that’s the rub. Because of that, I don’t see how you can reach sufficiently firm conclusions about the meaning and relevance of these episodes to who Romney is now.

    People will argue that it speaks to a larger pattern that reveals his true nature. Maybe so, but I don’t see the harm in sticking to more recent data points in order to establish that pattern with more certainty. And at any rate, on the most important question of all — how Romney would govern — his policy proposals and his glaringly obvious values and priorities already speak as loudly as anyone could want.

  38. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 05:29 PM ET, 05/10/2012
    Are Republicans committing self-sabotage?
    By Jonathan Bernstein

    Yes, the House Republicans are at it again. They just passed by a slim 218-199 margin a go-nowhere budgeting bill that, to judge by the polling that’s out there, will serve mainly to keep opposition researchers for this year’s Democratic campaigns quite busy. Democrats united against the bill, while all but 16 Republicans voted for it.

    This time, it’s about the automatic cuts that were baked into the deal that was reached to end the debt limit showdown last summer. In short, if Congress doesn’t act, automatic spending cuts kick in beginning in January, with cuts to both domestic and military spending. To prevent defense cuts, House Republicans voted to slash funding for a variety of other programs, including SNAP (food stamps), health care, Medicaid, CHIP, and even the Child Care Credit for lower-income families.

    What’s striking about this bill is that, just like the earlier House Budget Resolution, House Republicans have chosen to vote for unpopular measures even though the bill won’t get past the Senate. At least, it sure looks to me as though the mix here is unpopular. To begin with, as has been pointed out many times, spending cuts are generally popular in the abstract, but unpopular once the talk turns to specifics. When it does, Americans tell pollsters that they really want to avoid spending cuts on things like health care by raising taxes, especially on the rich.

    What’s more, the spending Republicans are protecting with today’s vote — on the military — is among the very least popular category of federal spending. As John Sides noted last year, only “culture and the arts” spending polled worse than “military and defense.”

    So House Republicans prefer a cut-spending-only approach that is unpopular, and within that they are protecting relatively unpopular defense spending by slashing more-popular spending on social services. And to top it all off, they’re doing it on yet another vote that they don’t need to take, given that it’s going nowhere now that it’s passed the House. Just as they did, of course, by twice passing Paul Ryan’s budgets, cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, and several other votes.

    Either House Republicans don’t believe the polling; or they want to excite their base supporters; or they believe their own spin that the public will reward them for trying to do something “serious” about spending; or they want to give Members a vote on steep spending cuts before negotiations with Dems get serious. Whatever it is, all these votes will make for some devastating Dem attack ads in many House races this fall.

  39. Have a wonderful weekend.

  40. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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