Serendipity SOUL | Thursday Open Thread | Nina Simone Week!



This entry was posted in Music, Open Thread, Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Thursday Open Thread | Nina Simone Week!

  1. Ametia says:


    PARMA, Ohio — At an unscheduled stop at Ziggy’s Pub and Restaurant, an Amherst, Ohio bar, President Barack Obama suggested that the channel be changed when he was made aware that televisions were showing Fox News.

    Obama and Fox News have gone to war frequently during his three and a half years in office — most recently over a sharply negative teaser shown on Fox and Friends that the White House took as a Fox News-sponsored attack ad on the president.

    The Obama Administration frequently used the network as a proxy punching bag for its Republican opponents in the early years of his presidency. Fox’s personalities, led by Glenn Beck, fired back with more and more incendiary comments, but a somewhat delicate balanced was reached after the 2010 election in which both sides toned down their rhetoric.


  2. rikyrah says:

    The discontent behind the misguided panic
    By Steve Benen
    Thu Jul 5, 2012 4:01 PM EDT.

    As recently as a few weeks ago, the conventional wisdom was that President Obama was having an awful June, and that his campaign was in deep trouble. The evidence to bolster the thesis was thin, but the political establishment was convinced that Obama’s summer was off to such a horrendous start, he might not be able to recover.

    These perceptions, naturally, led to quite a bit of handwringing in Democratic circles. Much of this was pointless, and Obama’s poll numbers don’t look much different than they did in the Spring.

    Now, apparently, it’s the Republicans’ turn to panic.

    Over the weekend, it was Rupert Murdoch leading the way, questioning Mitt Romney’s staff and overall campaign strategy. Today, it’s the Wall Street Journal editorial page — arguably the nation’s most pro-Republican venue in American print media — sounding the alarm.

    [T]he campaign’s insular staff and strategy … are slowly squandering an historic opportunity. Mr. Obama is being hurt by an economic recovery that is weakening for the third time in three years. But Mr. Romney hasn’t been able to take advantage, and if anything he is losing ground.

    The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it’s Mr. Obama’s fault…. What [Americans] want to hear from the challenger is some understanding of why the President’s policies aren’t working and how Mr. Romney’s policies will do better. […]

    The biography that voters care about is their own, and they want to know how a candidate is going to improve their future. That means offering a larger economic narrative and vision than Mr. Romney has so far provided. It means pointing out the differences with specificity on higher taxes, government-run health care, punitive regulation, and the waste of politically-driven government spending.

    As with the panic in Democratic circles in June, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for Republicans to be so overcome with anxiety in early June. There’s been no major shift in the polls; there have been no meaningful new scandals; there haven’t been any noticeable party defections. The Journal is right to be concerned about the health care fiasco Romney and his advisors have created for themselves, but it’s a stretch to think this will have a major impact on the larger race.

    Still, the scathing editorial is notable for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the peek it offers into the mind of the Republican establishment at this point in the campaign.


    It’s interesting, for example, that the WSJ is tired of Romney’s avoidance of policy specifics. As we discussed last week, a growing number of observers have noticed the Republican candidate’s reluctance to talk in any kind of detail about his own agenda, but when even the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal is sick of a Republican’s evasiveness, it suggests Romney has pushed his luck a little too far.

    As Greg Sargent explained this morning, “The GOP-aligned Journal editorial board is implicitly agreeing that one of the leading critiques of Romney — one being made by the Obama campaign and Dems, but also by more and more media commentators — is entirely legitimate: That he’s refusing to detail his policies with any specificity to speak of on issue after issue. This goes right to the heart of the central dynamic of this race: The Romney campaign’s gamble that he can edge his way to victory by making this campaign all about Obama, and that along the way, voters won’t notice that he isn’t meaningfully telling us what he would do if elected president. The Journal is calling this out as a non-starter. ”

    I was also struck by this line in the editorial: “Team Obama is now opening up a new assault on Mr. Romney as a job outsourcer with foreign bank accounts, and if the Boston boys let that one go unanswered, they ought to be fired for malpractice.”

    Perhaps, but what’s the answer, exactly? Isn’t it quite obvious that Romney really is a job outsourcer with foreign bank accounts?

    It leads to a point Jon Chait raised today: “Conservatives say they want Romney to change his staff or alter his campaign tactics. But what they really want is a different candidate and a different electorate.”

    And so, Romney is once again stuck. He’s getting slammed by the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal — and Bill Kristol — for not being the Republican candidate of their dream, but if he were to do as they demand, he’d be soundly rejected by the American mainstream. Still, the former governor wants to do just enough to make the WSJ and Kristol satisfied, assuming that their support is key to keeping the GOP establishment on board.

    The results is a candidate who, on a nearly daily basis, is an uncomfortable combination of fear, incoherence, and evasiveness, unsure of who he is, what he thinks, or what he’s supposed to say in response to any given question. If Romney had a strong core that defined his character, this wouldn’t be an issue.

    But the Republican Party is going into the general election with the candidate they have, not the candidate they might want or wish to have under different circumstances.

  3. rikyrah says:

    If you make it harder to vote, it’s harder to vote

    By Laura Conaway

    Thu Jul 5, 2012 3:37 PM EDT.

    In one of the states where they’re trying to make voting harder, the state admits that it’s really hard to get one of the new free photo IDs that let you vote if don’t have a license. Mississippi’s Secretary of State tells the Jackson Free-Press that yes, there’s an infinite loop. From the JFP:

    One of the requirements to get the free voter ID cards is a birth certificate, but in order to receive a certified copy of your birth certificate in Mississippi, you must have a photo ID. Not having the photo ID is why most people need the voter ID in the first place.

    Mississippi is trying to persuade the federal Department of Justice to approve the new law. Part of that was making voter IDs free to avoid creating a poll tax. The state still lists birth certificates as costing $15, in addition to needing a photo ID. In the first two weeks of trying to get would-be voters to sign up for a free ID, the JFP says the state has had just 35 requests.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Romney Camp: Swiss Bank Attacks Are ‘False And Ridiculous’
    Benjy Sarlin – July 5, 2012, 3:44 PM

    Rebutting the Obama campaign’s new efforts to highlight Mitt Romney’s foreign assets, the Romney campaign condemned such attacks as “false and ridiculous” and a distraction from the economy.

    Democrats have been working hard to highlight a recent report in Vanity Fair that questions why Romney owned a Bermuda-based company for over 15 years and suggests that without further disclosure it may be impossible to tell the asset’s value or intended purpose.

    “Oh, what a contrast, my friends, between these two men who would be president!” Obama campaign co-chair Ted Strickland said in Ohio on Thursday. “President Obama is betting on America and American workers, and Mitt Romney is betting his resources in the Cayman Islands, in Bermuda, in Switzerland and God only knows where else he is putting his resources.”

    The new attacks comes on the heels of an editorial in the conservative Wall Street Journal complaining that Romney looked weak rebutting attacks on his “rich guy” image. Particularly galling for conservatives is that these issues were raised extensively during the primaries as well, yet the campaign still hasn’t settled on a consistent response.

    Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney, dismissed the latest attacks from Strickland and others as an example of hypocrisy from Obama.

  5. rikyrah says:

    At the kick-off rally for President Obama’ first campaign bus tour of the election season, former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, a co-chair of the Obama 2012 campaign, assailed presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s off-shore accounts.

    “Oh, what a contrast, my friends, between these two men who would be president!” Strickland said, standing outside the Wolcott House Museum. “President Obama is betting on America and American workers, and Mitt Romney is betting his resources in the Cayman Islands, in Bermuda, in Switzerland and God only knows where else he is putting his resources.”

  6. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 10:51 AM ET, 07/05/2012
    Romney’s seismic shifts

    By Carter Eskew

    In theory, there are two negative frames that fit Mitt Romney: 1. He is a politician of rare expediency, who changes his positions even on matters of deep principle; and 2. He is a right-wing conservative. The Obama campaign has placed its bets on the latter characterization, reasoning that it will cut more with independent voters. Moreover, it worries that the flip-flop story line could have unintended consequences by perversely reassuring some voters that Romney’s conservative horns are not really all that sharp.

    However, the more you know and see of Romney, the more his actions fit the flip-flop frame. Take the latest embarrassment over his decision to call the health-care mandate a tax, having defended it for years as a “penalty.” The penalty argument served Romney well in Massachusetts, where he instituted a mandate to buy health insurance that became the model for the Affordable Care Act. But now that Romney has morphed from chief architect to chief critic of the mandate, a penalty has become a tax.

    This is the pattern with Romney: seismic shifts in his political core — on abortion, global warming, health care. But Romney’s moral flexibility extends to other aspects of his life. A current Vanity Fair article contains a small, but meaningful anecdote about Romney’s days at Bain, where he advised a first-year employee to obtain information about the firm’s competitors by lying. Let that roll around in your head for a minute: a boss telling a subordinate to lie. That’s a pretty bright line to cross, and it suggests that Romney may have lost his ethical bearings early on.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 12:27 PM ET, 07/05/2012
    What Mitt Romney’s `tax’ cave means for a Romney presidency

    By Jamelle Bouie

    As you know, Mitt Romney yesterday shifted gears and adopted the view that the individual mandate is a tax — after his campaign said the opposite a few days ago. This is more than a story for the news cycle, however; it has important implications for how Romney would conduct himself as president.

    Here’s what Romney told CBS:

    “The Supreme Court has spoken, and while I agreed with the dissent, that’s taken over by the fact that the majority of the court said it’s a tax, and therefore it is a tax. They have spoken. There’s no way around that.”

    As Greg pointed out this morning, conservatives aren’t at all satisfied by this change of heart. But their dissatisfaction has less to do with the substance of this debate, and everything to do with their mistrust of him. If anything, this episode highlights the degree to which Romney does not share conservative instincts, and must constantly shift positions as a result of that misalignment. Indeed, you could see the past week as a microcosm for Romney’s entire career. He’s an opportunist who is hindered by his complete inability to skate in concert with conservatives.

    Regardless of how he wins — short of a landslide — Romney will have to negotiate conservative mistrust from the moment he enters office. He’ll have to assure conservative activists and congressional Republicans that he won’t betray their interests. He’ll have to deal with the expectation — from figures like Grover Norquist — that he’ll act as a signing machine for legislation such as the Paul Ryan plan. To meet these expectations and build credibility, he’ll almost certainly begin his presidency with a torrent of right-wing initiatives. Moreover, he’ll always have an eye on his right-flank — otherwise, he risks revolt.

    The key takeaway from this fight over Obamacare messaging is straightforward: If Romney is elected president, political pressure will force him to govern from the right. He has no other choice.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 02:29 PM ET, 07/05/2012
    Where’s the pushback on the Bain and offshoring attacks?

    By Greg Sargent

    I’m hoping to hear from some Republicans on this one.

    The Obama campaign is pouring major resources into defining Mitt Romney as an outsourcing, offshoring, Cayman-Islands-wealth-stashing, tax-returns-hiding, super-rich-tax-rate-protecting corporate raider who as president would do to the middle class what Bain did to those shuttered manufacturing plants. They’re morphing him into the walking embodiment of everything that’s wrong with the economy and how it enabled the rich to get much, much richer as the floor fell out from under working and middle class Americans.

    The Obama camp is spending millions of dollars on ads hammering these points home, and some pundits and news outlets are concluding the attacks may be working.

    Where’s the pushback from the Romney campaign?

    I don’t mean statements from the campaign or the candidate. The Romney camp regularly counters with releases hitting Obama for trying to distract the nation from the economy. Romney himself regularly slams Obama for supposedly attacking free enterprise itself.

    I mean in terms of major ad expenditures, which is how these attacks would need to be countered.

    Where are the Romney ads featuring the fact-checks that have accused the Obama camp of overreaching? Where are the Romney ads starring workers at companies clamiming to have been turned around by Bain? There’s apparently some kind of Web video in the works. But is there any serious pushback happening in the swing states?

    Josh Marshall has been arguing that the D.C. pundit class was slow to recognize the potency of these attacks in swing state communities that have been devastated by stagnating wages and the erosion of manufacturing. For these voters, words like “offshoring” and “Swiss bank account” could carry a real emotional wallop.

    Have Republicans — the Romney campaign included — been slow to recognize this, too? Were they caught off guard by this onslaught? I actually believe it’s too early to say whether these attacks are working or will work sufficiently in the long run. But there’s cause to believe they could work. Are Republicans persuaded otherwise? Are they convinced that these attacks will ultimately fall flat or even backfire?

    These aren’t rhetorical questions. I’m genuinely curious to know whether there is serious pushback I’m missing and whether Republicans think the Romney campaign is handling the Obama campaign’s offensive adequately.

    I’d be surprised if there isn’t a story here.

  9. rikyrah says:

    5 Jul 2012 10:30 AM

    The Profound Weakness Of Mitt Romney

    So the individual mandate was not a tax but a penalty – and Mitt Romney didn’t raise taxes as governor of Massachusetts. It was a rare moment of attempted consistency from the Romney camp, a decision for once not to follow the soundbite script of the conservative “movement” as they tried to run yet another campaign against a tax-and-spend “liberal”. And it lasted about … a week or so. Or as long as it took the Romneyites to read the Wall Street Journal editorial yesterday. Money quote:

    The Romney high command has muddied the tax issue in a way that will help Mr. Obama’s claims that he is merely taxing rich folks like Mr. Romney. And it has made it that much harder for Republicans to again turn ObamaCare into the winning issue it was in 2010.

    Why make such an unforced error? Because it fits with Mr. Romney’s fear of being labeled a flip-flopper, as if that is worse than confusing voters about the tax and health-care issues. Mr. Romney favored the individual mandate as part of his reform in Massachusetts, and as we’ve said from the beginning of his candidacy his failure to admit that mistake makes him less able to carry the anti-ObamaCare case to voters.

    Mr. Romney should use the Supreme Court opinion as an opening to say that now that the mandate is defined as a tax for the purposes of the law, he will work to repeal it.

  10. rikyrah says:

    The Nominee Who Had A Swiss Bank Account

    Nicholas Shaxson puts a microscope on Romney’s finances, the net worth of which is estimated to be as high as $250 million:

    Romney’s defense is that he never broke the rules: if there is a problem, it is in the laws, not in his behavior. “I pay all the taxes that are legally required, not a dollar more,” he said. Even so. “When you are running for president, you might want to err on the side of overpaying your taxes, and not chase every tax gimmick that comes down the pike,” says [Lee Sheppard, a contributing editor at the trade publication Tax Notes]. “It kind of looks tacky.

    The specifics of Bain’s dealings are even more unnerving:

    One cannot properly understand Wall Street’s size and power without appreciating the central role of offshore tax havens. There is absolutely no evidence that Bain has done anything illegal, but private equity is one channel for this secrecy-shrouded foreign money to enter the United States, and a filing for Mitt Romney’s first $37 million Bain Capital Fund, of 1984, provides a rare window into this. One foreign investor, of $2 million, was the newspaper tycoon, tax evader, and fraudster Robert Maxwell, who fell from his yacht, and drowned, off of the Canary Islands in 1991 in strange circumstances, after looting his company’s pension fund. …

    The filings also show a Geneva-based trustee overseeing a trust that invested $2.5 million, a Bahamas corporation that put in $3 million, and three corporations in the tax haven of Panama, historically a favored destination for Latin-American dirty money—“one of the filthiest money-laundering sinks in the world,” as a U.S. Customs official once put it

    Ben Walsh zooms out:

    There are also a now-closed Swiss bank account and continued interest in at least a dozen Cayman Islands-based Bain funds. Those funds form a large portion of Romney’s multimillion-dollar IRA. How could the IRA have grown to as much as $102 million if the maximum annual contributions were normally just $2,000? Probably by putting artificially low valuations on the securities the Romneys put into their tax-free retirement accounts in the first instance.

    The issue for Romney appears to be about more than just his low effective tax rate or the many other details that were pulled from his disclosures in January. After all, many Americans pay low effective tax rates, but precious few have made such deft use of the tax code or even have the ability to. He’s not just in another tax bracket, he’s playing a different game

  11. rikyrah says:

    The Bain Of This Campaign, Ctd

    With Ann Romney panicking, and Obama’s narrow lead stabilizing, it looks as if the Bain attacks – now refreshed with accusations of out-sourcing – are working. One way of looking at this is examining a key swing state:

    In Ohio, which is a must-win state for Romney, Obama’s hefty lead is based on his strong support among women, blacks, and independents. According to Quinnipiac, the gender gap is a stunning fifteen points. Among female voters, Obama leads Romney fifty per cent to thirty-five per cent. He is also doing a good job of attracting support from independents, where he leads by nine points. These are alarming figures for Romney. If he loses Ohio, the electoral-college math becomes forbidding. Obama’s support among Ohio women and independents is so strong that it almost makes up for his chronic weakness among white men, which has always been his biggest vulnerability. Among white voters of both sexes, he is now trailing Romney by just four points: forty-five per cent to forty-one per cent

    Which is where the Bain ads have come in handy:

    Romney’s favorability rating is thirty-two per cent, according to Quinnipiac, and his unfavorability rating is forty-six per cent. The Obama campaign believes that its negative ads about Bain Capital, which have running in Ohio and other states during recent weeks, are having the desired effect, and that might well be true. In the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of voters in swing states, one in three of them said that seeing or hearing about Romney’s business record made them view him more negatively, and just one in six said that it made them take a more positive view of him.

    All Obama needs to do is peel off a sliver of white working class votes from Romney and the path for the GOP to the White House gets much much harder.

  12. rikyrah says:

    Romney’s offshore finances spark new questions
    By Steve Benen
    Thu Jul 5, 2012 12:47 PM EDT.

    For a few weeks, Mitt Romney’s offshore finances seemed like a big deal. The Republican nominee is the first modern candidate to stash cash in the Cayman Islands and have a Swiss bank account for no apparent reason, and the fact that Romney has refused to release his readily-available tax returns only makes the story more alarming.

    But in time, the issue faded. By the time the campaign filed Romney’s personal financial disclosures to the Office of Government Ethics late on a Friday afternoon a month ago, the story barely caused a ripple.

    The issue, however, appears to be making a comeback. Earlier this week, in a much-discussed piece for Vanity Fair, Nicholas Shaxson dug deeper into Romney’s offshore finances, which “look pretty strange for a presidential candidate.” A new Associated Press piece raises related questions.

    For nearly 15 years, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s financial portfolio has included an offshore company that remained invisible to voters as his political star rose.

    Based in Bermuda, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. was not listed on any of Romney’s state or federal financial reports. The company is among several Romney holdings that have not been fully disclosed, including one that recently posted a $1.9 million earning — suggesting he could be wealthier than the nearly $250 million estimated by his campaign.

    The omissions were permitted by state and federal authorities overseeing Romney’s ethics filings, and he has never been cited for failing to disclose information about his money. But Romney’s limited disclosures deprive the public of an accurate depiction of his wealth and a clear understanding of how his assets are handled and taxed, according to experts in private equity, tax and campaign finance law.

    The issue, of course, is not whether Romney is extremely wealthy or extremely wealthy. What matters here is the Republican presidential candidate’s secrecy involving his overseas finances. We don’t even know, for example, whether he’s fully paid his tax bill.

    The AP report added, “Romney’s campaign declined to answer detailed questions from AP about Sankaty.” Imagine that.

    Looking ahead, there are a few straightforward questions the media can press Romney on: (1) Why did you park so much of your money outside the United States? (2) Did you create a Bermuda-based corporation to avoid U.S. taxes? and (3) when can Americans see the decades’ worth of tax returns you turned over to John McCain in 2008?

  13. rikyrah says:

    Obamacare” Allegedly Provoked Amber Gardner to Attack a Woman and Destroy a Deli With a Stone Hammer

    People around the country reacted differently to last week’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”

    Amber Leah Gardner sure had a unique reaction.

    Gardner’s apparent response was to go to a Mesa deli with a stone hammer, rant about Obama and shout some “racial remarks” at the employees, then allegedly attempt to hit one of the employees with the hammer before proceeding to wreck the deli with that hammer.


    According to court documents obtained by New Times, Gardner — a 32-year-old resident of Spring Hill, Florida (north of Tampa) — walked into the Mesa Food and Deli store with her hammer on Friday and began a-yellin’.

    “This is the United States of America!” Gardner said, according to the documents. “Obama passed a law yesterday.”

    Gardner may not have a real solid grasp of how the government operates, as the President didn’t quite pass a law the day before Gardner’s episode, but the the Supreme Court did uphold the law dubbed “Obamacare.”

    After Gardner “continued to make racial remarks [toward] store employees,” she showed off her stone hammer, the documents say.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr requires in-patient treatment for ‘physical and emotional ailments’
    by Sophia Tareen, Associated Press | July 5, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    CHICAGO (AP) — U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is suffering from “physical and emotional ailments” that require extended in-patient treatment, according to a statement from his office Thursday.

    The Chicago Democrat, who faces a House ethics investigation over his ties to imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, has been on medical leave for three weeks for exhaustion, news his office announced last week in a three-sentence statement. But no details about Jackson’s whereabouts and condition have been released since then.

    A statement from his office on Thursday did not disclose his location or provide details of his medical condition. Messages left for his spokesmen were not immediately returned.

    “Congressman Jackson’s medical condition is more serious than we thought and initially believed,” the statement said. “Recently, we have been made aware that he has grappled with certain physical and emotional ailments privately for a long period of time. At present, he is undergoing further evaluation and treatment at an in-patient medical facility.”

  15. rikyrah says:


    need that coon graphic.


    “No Confederate Flag is Going to Keep Me Away”: Black Woman Eats at Racist Diner For Tasty BBQ Sauce
    Added by Yvette on July 3, 2012.

    Would you eat at a restaurant owned by racists just because you loved the BBQ sauce? No thinking black person would, but Teowonna Clifton does.

    The restaurant in question is ‘Maurice’s’ in South Carolina, and the owner flies a Confederate flag over his establishment, and passes out literature such as “The Biblical Defense for Slavery”, but none of that stops Ms. Clifton from chowing down:

    “I know, I know. Black people are not supposed to eat at Maurice’s. But I disobeyed that unwritten law years ago. The best thing about Maurice’s is the amazing sauce. Coming from North Myrtle Beach, my family was accustomed to vinegar-based sauces. Mustard-based sauce was unheard of. When I tried Maurice’s for the first time, I was hooked — and no Confederate flag was going to keep me away.”

  16. Ametia says:

    Muhammad Ali named recipient of 2012 Liberty Medal
    Philadelphia Inquirer

    Boxing legend Muhammad Ali has been selected to receive the 2012 Liberty Medal, the National Constitution Center announced today.

    The former world heavyweight champion, humanitarian, philanthropist and activist lived in Cherry Hill during the 1970s.

    To older fans, he is perhaps the greatest boxer of all time. Younger generations know him as much for his courageous and ongoing battle with Parkinson’s disease, which has dramatically slowed his movement and speech.


    The medal was established in 1988, to commemorate the bicentennial of the Constitution. It is given annually to honor men, women and groups who show courage and conviction in striving to secure liberty to people around the globe.

    Read more:

  17. Ametia says:

    Florida judge sets bond for George Zimmerman at $1 million in Trayvon Martin case.

  18. rikyrah says:

    found this tweet:

    Donna NoShock@NoShock

    Warren Buffett’s much richer than Willard. Asked, if he ever had a Swiss bk acct, his answer, “No there R plenty of good banks N the U.S.”

  19. rikyrah says:

    A country that can think big (or really small)

    By Steve Benen
    Thu Jul 5, 2012 11:29 AM EDT.

    The apparent Higgs boson breakthrough is a scientific triumph, but it’s worth noting that this decades-long search could have happened sooner — and on American soil — had it not been for congressional budget cuts.

    Brad Plumer explained this morning that American physicists were developing a particle accelerator three times as powerful as the Large Hadron Collider, but it was shut down when Congress pulled its funding. Plumer flagged this fascinating item from Steven Weinberg, a physicist and Nobel laureate involved in the planning back in the 1980s.

    In the early 1980s the US began plans for the Superconducting Super Collider, or SSC, which would accelerate protons to 20 TeV, three times the maximum energy that will be available at the CERN Large Hadron Collider. After a decade of work, the design was completed, a site was selected in Texas, land bought, and construction begun on a tunnel and on magnets to steer the protons.

    Then in 1992 the House of Representatives canceled funding for the SSC. Funding was restored by a House–Senate conference committee, but the next year the same happened again, and this time the House would not go along with the recommendation of the conference committee. After the expenditure of almost two billion dollars and thousands of man-years, the SSC was dead.

    One thing that killed the SSC was an undeserved reputation for over-spending. There was even nonsense in the press about spending on potted plants for the corridors of the administration building. Projected costs did increase, but the main reason was that, year by year, Congress never supplied sufficient funds to keep to the planned rate of spending. This stretched out the time and hence the cost to complete the project. Even so, the SSC met all technical challenges, and could have been completed for about what has been spent on the LHC, and completed a decade earlier.

    Now, this isn’t necessarily about party. It’s not even about the current crop of federal lawmakers, most of whom weren’t even in Washington when this decision was made 20 years ago.

    But the broader issue here relates to a point raised by a certain MSNBC host in a certain “Lean Forward” promo.


    I’m referring, of course, to Rachel’s comments in front of the Hoover Dam.

  20. rikyrah says:

    The Republican drive to politicize cancer
    By Steve Benen
    Thu Jul 5, 2012 10:35 AM EDT.

    It hasn’t been a great few weeks for Republicans’ approach to cancer. First, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) vetoed a bill approved by her own party on the HPV vaccine, which will have the result of more women with cervical cancer. This came around the same time as Richard Mourdock, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Indiana, arguing that employers should be allowed to discriminate against cancer patients — a sentiment endorsed by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).

    Over the weekend, the larger issue worsened when Romney campaign surrogate Carly Fiorina, a breast cancer survivor, told a national television audience the Affordable Care Act would have undermined her treatment. It was a cheap, ugly attack, with no foundation in reality.

    This one, however, tops them all.
    GOP congressional candidate Chris Collins knows health care is expensive these days, but he argues it’s for good reason: People are no longer dying from deadly forms of cancer.

    “People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things,” he told The Batavian in an interview that was flagged Tuesday by City & State NY. Collins was discussing his desire to repeal Obamacare.

    “The fact of the matter is, our healthcare today is so much better, we’re living so much longer, because of innovations in drug development, surgical procedures, stents, implantable cardiac defibrillators, neural stimulators — they didn’t exist 10 years ago,” he continued. “The increase in cost is not because doctors are making a lot more money. It’s what you can get for healthcare, extending your life and curing diseases.”

    I see. So, as far as this Republican congressional candidate is concerned, health care reform isn’t that important because prostate cancer and breast cancer deaths effectively don’t exist.

    Collins wasn’t kidding.


    For the record, whether the right accepts the data or not, nearly 40,000 Americans died of breast cancer in 2011, and in 2012, nearly 30,000 Americans died of prostate cancer.

    The American Cancer Society endorsed the Affordable Care Act for a reason.

    Back in October, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), at the time a leading Republican presidential candidate, explained in a debate, “I hate cancer.” It was hard to predict at the time that this might become a contentious argument.

  21. rikyrah says:

    Widespread disenfranchising in Pennsylvania
    By Steve Benen
    Thu Jul 5, 2012 10:00 AM EDT.

    About a week ago, Republican Mike Turzai, Pennsylvania’s House Majority Leader, made a startling confession. Boasting about the state’s new voter-ID law, which was ostensibly about the integrity of the electoral process, Turzai bragged that the law “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

    The surprising candor helped reinforce what Democrats have argued all along: these laws are about disenfranchising voters Republicans don’t like. The right usually maintains the trumped up “voter fraud” pretense, but once in a great while, a GOP official will slip and tell the truth.

    And the truth, at least in the Keystone State, is that Republicans are prepared to block a huge chunk of the voting-age population from participating in their own democracy.

    Nearly 10 percent of Pennsylvania’s registered voters do not have photo identification cards from the state transportation department and could be ineligible to vote in November under the state’s new Republican-backed voter ID law.

    The Pennsylvania Department of State reported Tuesday that more than 758,000 registered voters lack a standard driver’s license or a non-driver photo ID. That’s 9.2 percent of the state’s 8.2 million voters.

    In Philadelphia, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 6-1, 18 percent of the city’s registered voters do not have the state photo ID, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

    One of them is a 93-year-old widow by the name of Viviette Applewhite.

    Can this change the outcome of the 2012 election? Actually, yes.


    Most recent polling shows President Obama with fairly strong leads in Pennsylvania, but I suspect none of the surveys account for the fact that Republican state policymakers just put new, unnecessary barriers 9.2% of Pennsylvania’s voters and the ballot box.

    The next question, of course, is what the demographic breakdown might be for the 758,000 registered voters in the state who lack photo ID, but if I had to guess, I’d say a very high majority are either poor, students, minorities, or some combination therein. In other words, they’re likely Democratic voters — which is why Republicans approved this law in the first place.

  22. rikyrah says:

    A Diamond in the rough
    By Steve Benen

    Thu Jul 5, 2012 9:35 AM EDT.

    A financial scandals go, this week’s Barclays fiasco is just ugly. But even if you don’t care at all about British finances, there are domestic angles to the controversy.

    Libor, the London interbank offered rate, is a standard interest rate for loans between banks. It serves as a benchmark for more than $10 trillion in lending to businesses and consumers worldwide. In the United States, it is linked to the interest rates on student loans, credit cards and even some mortgages.

    But London-based Barclays, one of world’s largest banks, admitted last week that it schemed to rig the benchmark rate during the financial crisis. On Tuesday, the bank’s chief executive, Bob Diamond, its chairman, Marcus Agius, and its chief operating officer, Jerry del Missier, resigned. The bank also released documents implying that England’s central bank was involved in the plan. […]

    That the controversy has infiltrated the highest levels of British finance suggests that the cracks in Libor may run deeper than previously thought.

    For Americans, the scandal could certainly prove problematic. After all, Libor’s credibility has global reach, and its manipulation by Barclays undermines confidence in a metric that was believed to be entirely credible. What’s more, the Washington Post report added that the U.S. Justice Department “is investigating other banks” as part of the larger probe.

    But there’s a political element, too — Barclays’s disgraced CEO, Bob Diamond, allegedly at the heart of the Libor scandal, is a leading fundraiser for none other than Mitt Romney. In fact, while President Obama isn’t going to Europe for a fundraising, his Republican challenger is — Romney will be rewarded with a high-priced fundraiser in London later this summer, and Diamond was supposed to be one of the event’s leading hosts.


    This week, Diamond quietly backed out of the Romney fundraiser, choosing instead to focus his energies on not going to jail. As Slate joked, “Wealthy investment bankers are great fundraiser hosts during your campaign for president — unless they just resigned in scandal.”

    The larger takeaway for Americans is pretty obvious: Romney, if elected, intends to eliminate safeguards and layers of accountability for the financial industry, benefiting guys like his buddy Bob Diamond.

  23. rikyrah says:

    ‘Muddying up the narrative’ on vouchers
    By Steve Benen
    Thu Jul 5, 2012 8:55 AM EDT.

    We talked on Tuesday about Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) new statewide school voucher scheme, which gives tuition money to as many as 380,000 kids in struggling public schools, encouraging them to transfer to private schools. Jindal’s program is already off to a rough start, with unanswered questions about accountability and proper use of taxpayer money.

    The questions have not gone unnoticed by state officials, and we now know about state School Superintendent John White’s plans to “muddy the waters.”

    The News-Star obtained a series of emails between White, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s spokesman Kyle Plotkin and Jindal’s policy adviser Stafford Palmieri in which White attempted to counter the growing questions about the oversight of the voucher program. The questions began after the News-Star visited the New Living Word School which has no library and filters lessons through Bible-based DVDs. The Times-Picayune also pointed out that the school would charge voucher students more than the other current students, which not allowed under the new legislation.

    Saying that he was planning on “muddying up the narrative” that media had offered about the school, White’s office, shortly after the story first broke revealed that approved schools would need to undergo further vetting. This additional round of appraisal was not mentioned to the schools, which had already been approved for voucher students, prior to the initial News-Star story.

    Voucher proponents work from the assumption that private schools, practically by definition, are always superior to public schools, especially public schools with low test scores. But that’s clearly nonsense — in Louisiana, the Jindal administration is prepared to use public funds to subsidize, among other things, a private school that basically shows children Bible videos all day, every day.

    The state’s school superintendent, uncomfortable with this scrutiny, decided the smart move would be “to talk through the process with the media, muddying up a narrative they’re trying to keep black and white.” In this case, the “process” apparently refers to some kind of possible scrutiny for schools participating in the program — after being told they could participate without such scrutiny.

    In other words, he apparently hoped to deliberately confuse the public, so taxpayers wouldn’t notice the flaws of this rotten voucher plan.


    This has always been one of the key problems voucher proponents couldn’t resolve. The basic framework is easy enough to follow: (1) identify which public schools are underperforming; (2) give some of the students at those schools tuition money for private schools; (3) watch those kids’ test scores improve thanks to the unproven wonders of private education; and (4) wait for the struggling public schools to get better with less money and fewer smart children

  24. Ametia says:

    July 5, 2012, 10:46 a.m. ET.
    Romney’s Tax Confusion
    The candidate’s response on the ObamaCare mandate reveals larger campaign problems.

    If Mitt Romney loses his run for the White House, a turning point will have been his decision Monday to absolve President Obama of raising taxes on the middle class. He is managing to turn the only possible silver lining in Chief Justice John Roberts’s ObamaCare salvage operation—that the mandate to buy insurance or pay a penalty is really a tax—into a second political defeat.

    Appearing on MSNBC, close Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom was asked by host Chuck Todd if Mr. Romney “agrees with the president” and “believes that you shouldn’t call the tax penalty a tax, you should call it a penalty or a fee or a fine?”

    “That’s correct,” Mr. Fehrnstrom replied, before attempting some hapless spin suggesting that Mr. Obama must be “held accountable” for his own “contradictory” statements on whether it is a penalty or tax. Predictably, the Obama campaign and the media blew past Mr. Fehrnstrom’s point, jumped on the tax-policy concession, and declared the health-care tax debate closed.

  25. Ametia says:

    Another reason why the Romneys are boo-hooing and whining about getting their asses whipped

    Two positive reports released on jobs
    By Vicki Needham – 07/05/12 08:48 AM ET

    Two new reports on Thursday provided some optimism the jobs market is improving.

    First-time claims for unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest level since May, the first positive sign in weeks that layoffs could be slowing.

    Separately, payroll provider ADP said private-sector businesses added 176,000 jobs to their payrolls in June, better than the revised total of 136,000 jobs for May.

    The two reports come a day ahead of the closely watched monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Both President Obama and likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will be watching that report closely for signs of how the U.S. economy is doing In May, the monthly report found the economy added only 68,000 jobs, a devastating blow for Obama’s campaign.

  26. rikyrah says:

    I coulda told you months ago Miss Ann that nobody in the Prudential Building is playing with Willard.

    You’ve been up against amateurs and grifters.

    You’re so ENTITLED, that you and your ENTITLED husband just thought Barack Hussein Obama was gonna hand over the Presidency

    ‘ cause it was YOUR TURN’.

    Bitch, he gotta be ELECTED

    (CBS News) On a mission to shatter the image of her husband as rigid and unrelatable, Ann Romney told CBS News she worries that President Obama’s entire campaign strategy is “kill Romney.”

    “I feel like all he’s doing is saying, ‘Let’s kill this guy,” she said, seated next to her husband, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in an exclusive interview with CBS News chief political correspondent Jan Crawford. “And I feel like that’s not really a very good campaign policy.

    “I feel like Mitt’s got the answers to turn this country around,” she continued. “He’s the one that’s got to bring back hope for this country, which is what they ran on last time. But the truth is, this is the one that has the hope for the – for America.”

  27. rikyrah says:

    Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 07:12 PM PDT.

    Mr. Hatch’s hilarious health care hypocrisy

    Congressional Republicans on Thursday dispatched some of their best and brightest to the Supreme Court in heady anticipation of the GOP triumph that never came. But when Chief Justice Roberts announced the decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch “folded his arms across his chest, his mouth slightly agape.” His slack-jawed response was altogether fitting. After all, the same Orrin Hatch who now describes so-called Obamacare as unconstitutional and “an awful piece of crap” in 1993 co-sponsored legislation with an individual mandate at its center. And as it turns out, while he and his GOP colleagues are now protesting how the Affordable Care Act is funded, Hatch acknowledged that when President Bush signed the $400 billion Medicare prescription drug program into law, “It was standard practice not to pay for things.”

    On Thursday, Orrin Hatch issued not one but two press releases bemoaning the Supreme’s health care reform decision. Back in March, Sen. Hatch authored an op-ed in which he argued that “Obamacare carries too high a price in liberty” and complained that “forcing [the] purchase of health insurance [is] not grounded in Constitution.” And as he bragged in his statement last week:

    Hatch has championed efforts in Congress to repeal the health law. He has supported legislation to repeal the law in its entirety as well as introduced legislation to repeal: the unconstitutional individual mandate (S. 19); the job-crushing employer mandate (S.20); and the medical device tax (S. 17).
    Of course, back in 1993, he and 20 co-sponsors proposed almost identical provisions as part of the “Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act of 1993.” (For more background, Kaiser Health News has a convenient summary of that bill, as well as a handy chart comparing its features to the “Obamacare” legislation it resembles.) As NPR documented in February 2010:

    Hatch’s opposition is ironic, or some would say, politically motivated. The last time Congress debated a health overhaul, when Bill Clinton was president, Hatch and several other senators who now oppose the so-called individual mandate actually supported a bill that would have required it…
    [T]he summary of the Republican bill from the Clinton era and the Democratic bills that passed the House and Senate over the past few months are startlingly alike.

    Beyond the requirement that everyone have insurance, both call for purchasing pools and standardized insurance plans. Both call for a ban on insurers denying coverage or raising premiums because a person has been sick in the past. Both even call for increased federal research into the effectiveness of medical treatments — something else that used to have strong bipartisan support, but that Republicans have been backing away from recently.

  28. rikyrah says:

    Supreme Court Obamacare decision: good news for the kids
    Health care reforms provide protections they need in new economy

    Nothing will trigger a conservative conversion experience in your children faster than a look at their first paychecks.

    When they see how much has been deducted for federal, state and local taxes, they suddenly realize they are against big government, the nanny state and, while they are at it, the filling of potholes.

    So it is no surprise that the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act last week restarted the generational conflict over just who is responsible for taking care of whom in the future

    The ACA is an extremely complex attempt at reforming health care, and it will be years before we know whether it succeeded in corralling costs while providing health care insurance for the millions of people who currently have none.

    But there are two provisions the mother in me is grateful for: coverage under a parent’s policy until the age of 26 and coverage despite a change in employers or a pre-existing condition.

    My generation is going to slide safely into Medicare soon, if some of us have not already done so. In any case, many of us have worked for a single employer for 20, 30 or 40 years, and our health care has been assured during our working life.

    It isn’t going to be that way for our children. And I worry.

    A recent issue of the libertarian magazine Reason featured a cover story on “Generational Warfare” and made the case my nephew regularly makes to me. That is, Social Security and Medicare are funded by taxes on the meager wages of his generation, and those same benefits will not be there for them when they retire.

    Both should be reformed, the authors argue, to take care of only those who are “too poor or incapacitated to take care of themselves.”

    Meanwhile, Fast Company, a magazine for techies, describes young people today as members of the “flux generation.” The pace of change in the world is so great, the authors argue, that there is no point planning for a future that is changing in the moment.

    Our children will have multiple jobs; those jobs will change exponentially even while they are in them; and only those who can live on the balls of their feet will survive. Of course, this is already happening to many older Americans as well. But what we’re seeing now is a rapid acceleration of that trend.

    Fast Company says today’s generation will need “a mindset that embraces instability, that tolerates and even enjoys recalibrating careers, business models and assumptions.”

    In other words, there is no longer a gold watch waiting at the end of a long and stable career. No guarantee of a pension, or health care coverage in retirement, or generous survivor benefits for spouses.

    That’s the other reason I was grateful for the Supreme Court decision.,0,1830472.column

  29. rikyrah says:

    Curbing the cost of health care

    By Fareed Zakaria, Published: July 4

    Many liberals believe that the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — is unpopular only because most Americans don’t understand it. There is some truth to this: Studies show that the core provisions of the bill are more popular than the bill itself. But there’s also a reason, rooted in reality, why many Americans worry about Obamacare — its cost.

    Most Americans have health care. What they worry about is the cost of insuring 20 million to 30 million more people. Unless the meteoric rise of health-care costs is slowed, a big expansion of coverage might well remain unpopular, no matter how it is explained.

    Republican alternatives to Obamacare, such as Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan, don’t bother with expanding coverage, which is a mistake because they leave in place a broken insurance model in which people can freeload. But most do have a strategy to control costs — get consumers to pay for more of their health care. The basic idea is intuitively appealing. Markets produce efficiencies; they presumably would do the same thing in health care.

    But the situation on the ground suggests that markets work imperfectly in this realm. A new study conducted by the pharmaceutical company Novartis and McKinsey and Co. shows a stunning difference among countries with regard to health-care efficiency.

    For example: Smoking rates are higher in France than in the United States, so the French population has higher rates of lung disease. Yet the French system is able to treat the disease far more effectively than happens in the United States, with levels of severity and fatality three times lower than those in this country. And yet France spends eight times less on treatments per person than the U.S. system. Or consider Britain, which handles diabetes far more effectively than the United States, while spending less than half of what we spend per person. The study concludes that the British system is five times more productive in managing diabetes than is the United States.

    To be fair, there is one case in which the United States does better, battling breast cancer, where early screening and easy access to advanced treatment make the country the most effective place to tackle that disease. But overwhelmingly, the most effective care for diseases come from countries with much lower costs.

  30. rikyrah says:

    The Most Important Book in American History

    … is Uncle Tom’s Cabin, according to literary critic David Reynolds, in his new book, Mightier Than the Sword. Harold Bush reviews Reynold’s case:

    The heart of the book covers the debates over race, slavery, and the extent to which Uncle Tom’s Cabin—or any novel, for that matter—can be said to “change” history. Reynolds argues vehemently in favor of fiction’s ability to do so, and he makes a very good case for it. In fact, Reynolds takes the argument for the powerful impact of Uncle Tom’s Cabin to greater lengths than any previous critic. If at times he might be said to exaggerate, I think his basic point is accurate: yes, the novel has probably had a more profound effect, and has spurred more reaction, both positive and negative, than any other book in American history. Reynolds has always been one to go to painstaking lengths in supporting such assertions. His analysis of the deeply racist underpinnings of the culture, extending on into the early and middle parts of the 20th century, and his coverage of the abolitionist debates, while not surprising for experts in the field, are nonetheless excellent

  31. rikyrah says:

    Is Voter Fraud A Problem?

    Not really:

    In her 2010 book, The Myth of Voter Fraud, Lorraine Minnite tracked down every single case brought by the Justice Department between 1996 and 2005 and found that the number of defendants had increased by roughly 1,000 percent under Ashcroft. But that only represents an increase from about six defendants per year to 60, and only a fraction of those were ever convicted of anything. A New York Times investigation in 2007 concluded that only 86 people had been convicted of voter fraud during the previous five years. Many of those appear to have simply made mistakes on registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, and more than 30 of the rest were penny-ante vote-buying schemes in local races for judge or sheriff. The investigation found virtually no evidence of any organized efforts to skew elections at the federal level.

  32. rikyrah says:

    July 03, 2012

    Is the party over?’s “Big Journalism,” throwing another little fit:

    [I]f Romney won’t fight for conservative principles, the Tea Party is going to start looking elsewhere–fast. No one wants to live through the frustration of October 2008 all over again. No one wants to watch another conservative capitulate to Obama.

    Did not the tea party participate in the primaries? Did the primary process not render Mitt Romney the Republican nominee, fair and square? Has Mr. Romney not twisted himself into hideous contortions to placate and pacify the (admittedly insatiable) tea partiers?

    And just what “conservative principles” is Breitbart referencing? Is one them its own chief, ahem, conservative principle–that of untethered, intoxicated frenzy over every moderate move President Obama makes?

    Don’t mistake. I’m delighted the tea party might well “look elsewhere.” Would that they hie to the nearest, most pious, ideological nunnery. Indeed, I’m rather surprised and unambiguously disappointed they haven’t already done so.

    For me, the singular salvation of Mitt Romney’s inevitability was that the tea partiers would break from the GOP in a final, futile gasp of horror and run a third-party candidate, wherever they could manage the state-by-state ballot process. But that alternative would have required of tea partiers a good deal less frothing extravagance and more organizing competence, virtually all of which they seem to have spent two years ago.

    Alas. The party seems to be over.

  33. rikyrah says:


    July 4, 2012, 4:17 am

    Off And Out With Mitt Romney

    It appears that the Obama campaign has decided to ignore the queasiness of Democrats with Wall Street ties, and go after Mitt Romney’s record at Bain. And rightly so!

    After all, what is Romney’s case – that is, why does he want us to think he should be president? It’s not about ideology: Romney offers nothing but warmed-over right-wing platitudes, with an extra helping of fraudulent arithmetic, and it’s fairly obvious that even he himself doesn’t believe anything he’s saying.

    Instead, his thing is competence: supposedly, his record as a successful businessman should tell us that he knows how to create jobs. And this in turn means that we have every right to ask exactly what kind of a businessman he was.

    Now, the truth is even under the best of circumstances, the case for electing a businessman as president would be very weak. A country is not a company – does any company sell more than 80 percent of what it makes to its own workers, the way America does? — and competitive success in business bears no particular relationship to the principles of macroeconomic policy. So even if Romney were a true captain of industry, a latter-day Andrew Carnegie, this wouldn’t be a strong qualification.

    In any case, however, Romney wasn’t that kind of businessman. He didn’t build businesses, he bought and sold them – sometimes restructuring them in ways that added jobs, often in ways that preserved profits but destroyed jobs, and fairly often in ways that extracted money for Bain but killed the business in the process.

    And recently the Washington Post added a further piece of information: Bain invested in companies that specialized in helping other companies get rid of employees, either in the United States or overall, by outsourcing work to outside suppliers and offshoring work to other countries.

    The Romney camp went ballistic, accusing the Post of confusing outsourcing and offshoring, but this is a pretty pathetic defense. For one thing, there weren’t any actual errors in the article. For another, it’s simply not true, as the Romney people would have you believe, that domestic outsourcing is entirely innocuous. On the contrary, it’s often a way to replace well-paid employees who receive decent health and retirement benefits with low-wage, low-benefit employees at subcontracting firms. That is, it’s still about redistribution from middle-class Americans to a small minority at the top.

    Arguably, that’s just business – but it’s not the kind of business that makes you especially want to see Romney as president.

    Or put it a different way: Romney wasn’t so much a captain of industry as a captain of deindustrialization, making big profits for his firm (and himself) by helping to dismantle the implicit social contract that used to make America a middle-class society.

    • Ametia says:

      Did you see Ann Romney on CBS this morning? Whining about the Obama campaign’s strategy, Bain is working, this shady business ties and $$ making, tax-evading schemes are working, and now they are howling! NUKE’EM!

  34. rikyrah says:

    Where Tax Dollars Work, Our Public Trust Remains

    By Charles P. Pierce

    at 1:29PM

    I still know how the wind sounds here. I still know the difference between how it sounds as it shakes the birches and how it sounds as it ripples through the top branches in a stand of great oak trees. I still know the differences between the birds, calling in the underbrush, and I can still hear on the edges of everything the gentle lapping of the water down on the rocks at the edges of the lake. I still know where all the shadows fall at the height of midday. I still know how the wind sounds here.

    For three summers in the 1970’s, I was a public employee in this place, Douglas State Forest, in the southern middle of Massachusetts, its lake half in the Commonwealth (God save it!) and half in Rhode Island. I worked for tax dollars. I patched roads and cut trails. I took tickets and raked leaves and cleaned out fireplaces at the height of black-fly season, generally wearing a fencing mask, which made me look like Great Grandpappy Mayfly to many of the preseason early arrivals. I pulled disposable diapers out of trees so the raccoons wouldn’t get into them and choke. (Don’t ask.) I learned to drive stick on a state-owned dump truck. I tried to maintain order among the various taxpayers who would come to the forest and gradually learned an essential lesson about life — that human beings no more become more civil when you put them in the woods than bears become domesticated if you put them in your parlor. (Henry David Thoreau, that fathead, was so very wrong about this.) Still, we were firm, but polite. These people did, in fact, pay our salaries. This morning, I came down the long walk that leads from the parking lot to the picnic area and, thence, to the beach, and I remembered how the wind in the trees and all the birdsong gradually gave way to laughter and shouts on a hot summer’s morning right before a holiday.

    It was here that I learned the value of our political commonwealth, of the things we own as a self-governing people, of the things of which we are merely caretakers. Of course, back then, we relentlessly teased outselves as to how we managed to get these jobs. The ex-brother-in-law of one of my best friends accounted for two of us. An uncle who was a state representative was responsible for two more. Everytime we screwed up, which was less often than you’d think, one of us would look invariably at the other and say, “State worker.” But we were proud of the roads we patched, and the trails we cut, and how the park looked every morning before we’d open the gates. This was our place, but it was their place, too — the people who would line up in their cars hours before opening, especially on the big holidays, the people from the tenements in Pawtucket and Woonsocket, and from the farms along Route 16 heading east toward Boston, and from the suburbs lining the feeder roads off Route 146, running north toward Worcester. They would come and spend a few hours in the breezy, shadowed woods. Their kids would get to spend a few hours tossing themselves around in water that wasn’t bounded by cement, and that had real sand and gravel at its bottom, and minnows to nibble at their toes. And we would all come back the next morning, and get the place ready for them all to do it all again.

    There are things we all own together. That’s what the park taught me, although I was too busy pulling Pampers out of trees to notice it at the time. I came out here again because I needed to be reminded of that because it’s almost the Fourth of July, and there is a great building conversation about what kind of a country this is going to be, going forward. Louisiana, under rising Republican star Bobby Jindal, has decided that there is money a’plenty for charter schools that teach the fallacy of evolution, but no money at all to keep open the public libraries. When did we decide as a nation that we didn’t need public libraries any more? We are deciding, in 100 different ways, whether or not a political commonwealth is actually something we can afford any more. The conversation is going on out of earshot, but it is the low murmur behind dozens of different decisions being made as regards budgets and spending and, of course, The Deficit, which is many things, but most egregiously, it is an alibi for selling off our national birthright piecemeal, like one of the yard sales along Wallum Lake Road, as the pavement surrenders to gravel. There in the gentle woods, I learned something about keeping a public trust, something that too many people in our politics have decided is a sucker’s game.

    Read more:

  35. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 08:47 AM ET, 07/05/2012
    The Morning Plum: Wall Street Journal blisters Romney

    By Greg Sargent

    This Wall Street Journal editorial is getting a lot of attention this morning for its scathing criticism of the Romney campaign’s equivocations over whether Obamacare’s individual mandate is or isn’t a tax. Yesterday Romney declared that, yes, it is a tax after all — contradicting his campaign’s earlier contention that it wasn’t — and the editorial blasts Romney for squandering a key issue against Obama.

    But let’s face it: The skirmishing over whether the mandate is or isn’t a tax probably won’t have much of an impact on the election’s outcome.

    That’s why the real news in the Journal editorial — the stuff that should drive the discussion today — is its scalding attack on Romney’s lack of specificity on multiple issues:

    The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it’s Mr. Obama’s fault. We’re on its email list and the main daily message from the campaign is that “Obama isn’t working.” Thanks, guys, but Americans already know that. What they want to hear from the challenger is some understanding of why the President’s policies aren’t working and how Mr. Romney’s policies will do better.

    The Journal notes the Obama campaign’s attacks on Romney’s Bain years and offshore accounts, and adds:
    All of these attacks were predictable, in particular because they go to the heart of Mr. Romney’s main campaign theme — that he can create jobs as President because he is a successful businessman and manager. But candidates who live by biography typically lose by it. See President John Kerry.

    The biography that voters care about is their own, and they want to know how a candidate is going to improve their future. That means offering a larger economic narrative and vision than Mr. Romney has so far provided. It means pointing out the differences with specificity on higher taxes, government-run health care, punitive regulation, and the waste of politically-driven government spending.

    The GOP-aligned Journal editoral board is implicitly agreeing that one of the leading critiques of Romney —one being made by the Obama campaign and Dems, but also by more and more media commentators — is entirely legitimate: That he’s refusing to detail his policies with any specificity to speak of on issue after issue.

    This goes right to the heart of the central dynamic of this race: The Romney campaign’s gamble that he can edge his way to victory by making this camapign all about Obama, and that along the way, voters won’t notice that he isn’t meaningfully telling us what he would do if elected president. The Journal is calling this out as a non-starter. Does this represent broader GOP establishment opinion? It’s more important than all the short-term skirmishing over whether the mandate is a tax or not.

  36. rikyrah says:

    A flip-flop-flip on Romneycare’s ‘tax’
    By Steve Benen
    Thu Jul 5, 2012 8:00 AM EDT.

    Mitt Romney has been known for some convoluted, contradictory, and downright confounding positions on the issues, but even by his standards, his position on health care is a mess.

    Romney’s original position was that the individual mandate he imposed through his state-based reform law was a “tax penalty,” which he strongly favored. This week, however, the Republican’s campaign switched gears, saying the policy is a “penalty,” but not a “tax.”

    Yesterday, in an interview with CBS News, Romney rejected his own campaign’s policy position, saying the mandate is a “tax” after all.

    As if this weren’t quite enough, in a remarkable feat of political jujitsu, the Republican now believes it’s a tax when President Obama does it, but the identical policy is not a tax when Mitt Romney does it.

    Indeed, even though he’s already called his own penalty a tax, Romney added, “Massachusetts’ mandate was a mandate, was a penalty, was described that way by the legislature and by me, and so it stays as it was.” Why? Because he says so.

    Making matters slightly worse, the GOP presidential hopeful justifies this by citing a Supreme Court ruling he thinks is wrong — except on one narrow point, when he supports the decision he opposes.

    Remember, Americans are supposed to be able to take this guy seriously on health care policy.

    Ezra makes a compelling case today that Romney’s ridiculous rhetorical gymnastics really don’t matter, since this is ultimately a semantics debate anyway. It’s a fair point, but there are a couple of angles to this with some political salience.


    For one thing, we have another example of the GOP base, furious with Romney, forcing the candidate to reject his own rhetoric and policy background, basically just to make the activist wing happy. That Romney is trying to execute a rare flip-flop-flip doesn’t seem to matter — conservatives wanted the campaign to call the policy a “tax,” not a “penalty,” so the pro-mandate, pro-tax penalty former governor is doing as he’s told to do.

    It’s not exactly a display that screams “strength.”

    For another, this continues to be a farcical Republican game. Why in the world should this foolish semantics fight matter to anyone? Because for the next four months, GOP attack ads want to make two contradictory points at the same time: (1) Obama raised middle class taxes when he approved this penalty; and (2) Romney didn’t raise middle class taxes when he approved the identical penalty.

    It’s what led Romney to twist himself in a pretzel yesterday.

  37. rikyrah says:

    Team Obama hits Romney on offshore accounts

    The Obama campaign has giddily jumped on recent reports about Mitt Romney’s finances, issuing scathing statements and strafing Romney on Twitter after Vanity Fair and then the Associated Press published stories raising questions about his blind trusts and offshore holdings.

    Team Obama was back at it Thursday morning, releasing a web video titled, “Do you have an offshore bank account?” that features what appear to be man-on-the-street interviews with people who say they don’t and a president shouldn’t either.

    In a statement released with the video, campaign press secretary Ben Labolt reiterates points raised in the published reports – that Romney held millions in offshore accounts and that he did not divulge his ownership stakes in a Bermuda company on financial disclosure reports.

    “We already know about Romney’s $3 million Swiss bank account and millions of dollars of investments in foreign tax havens like the Cayman Islands. Bermuda does not tax corporate income or capital gains,” LaBolt said. “Until Romney releases additional years of tax returns, the American people will never know whether he created this shell corporation to intentionally avoid paying U.S. taxes. What is Mitt Romney trying to hide?”

    The Romney campaign has said everything he was required to report was reported, and spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said on Thursday that the new video is “just the latest example of President Obama and his political machine saying or doing anything to distract from his abysmal record over the last four years.”

  38. rikyrah says:

    US Newspapers Outsourcing Journalism to the Filipines?

    Categories: Journalism, Original Reports

    July 04,2012

    by Will Fitzgibbon: Newspapers across the United States of America are outsourcing the production of local news to low-paid researchers and writers in the Philippines, radio progamme This American Life has revealed.

    In an interview with a young American journalist, Ryan Smith, This American Life presenter Sarah Koenig exposes the work of outsourcing company Journatic and the newspapers for whom it works, many of whom would rather remain unknown.

    Former Journatic employee Smith says in the report that Journatic’s news is ‘written overseas, half-heartedly edited and slapped on a page’.

    Smith, who risked being fired for speaking publicly, says he wrote and edited stories for newspapers in Texas while never leaving Chicago, about 1,000 miles away.

    Using freelancers in the Philippines, Brazil, Eastern Europe and Africa, Journatic produces vast quantities of local stories, such as death notices, house sales and bowling scores based on publicly available information, for American newspapers that no longer have the resources to cover the micro detail of daily life.

    Journatic and some of the newspaper companies who use it told This American Life that no writing was done in the Philippines itself. Rather, the Filipinos, who earn between 35 to 40 cents per story, ‘assemble information, in paragraph form,’ which is then written and edited in America.

  39. rikyrah says:

    Voter ID law may affect more Pennsylvanians than previously estimated

    July 04, 2012|By Bob Warner, Inquirer Staff Writer

    Share on emailShare on printShare on redditMore Sharing Services

    Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele

    More than 758,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania do not have photo identification cards from the state Transportation Department, putting their voting rights at risk in the November election, according to data released Tuesday by state election officials.

    The figures – representing 9.2 percent of the state’s 8.2 million voters – are significantly higher than prior estimates by the Corbett administration. Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele has repeatedly said that 99 percent of Pennsylvania’s voters already had the photo ID they will need at the polls in November.

    The new numbers, based on a comparison of voter registration rolls with PennDot ID databases, shows the potential problem is much bigger, particularly in Philadelphia, where 186,830 registered voters – 18 percent of the city’s total registration – do not have PennDot ID.

    Under Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law, various other forms of photo identification will be accepted at voting places in November, including U.S. passports, student identification cards with expiration dates, current military identification, and ID cards issued to government employees.

    But for most voters, the Pennsylvania driver’s license is the standard photo ID. The disclosure that 9 percent of the state’s registered voters don’t have one – or an alternative, nondriver PennDot photo ID – provides a clearer picture of the hurdle set up by the state’s new voter ID requirement.

    Republican lawmakers pushed the bill through the legislature in March and it was signed into law by Gov. Corbett, over protests from Democrats that the measure would disenfranchise thousands of voters, disproportionately affecting those without driver’s licenses – the poor, the elderly, and the young.

    House Republican leader Mike Turzai acknowledged the law’s political implications at a Republican State Committee meeting last month.

    “Voter ID – which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania – done,” Turzai told the crowd, which burst into applause, as he listed legislative accomplishments under GOP control.

    The law still faces a legal challenge as a possible violation of the state constitution. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson scheduled a July 25 hearing and his decision is likely to reach the state Supreme Court before November.

    Aichele’s department issued the figures Tuesday without mentioning her past estimates.

  40. Ametia says:

    This one’s for you and Ann, Mittens!

  41. Ametia says:

    If you want to hear about Romney & Sankaty; listen/watch Full Court Press with Bill Press.<b.

  42. Ametia says:

    POTUS SCHEDULE| Will post one thread with pics & vids from all speeches as they become available.

    9:10: President Obama departs the White House

    9:35 Departs Joint Base Andrews en route Toledo, Ohio

    10:55: Arrives Toledo

    11:40: Delivers remarks at the Wolcott House Museum Complex in Maumee, Ohio

    3:40: Delivers remarks at Washington Park in Sandusky, Ohio

    7:15: Delivers remarks at James Day Park in Parma, Ohio

  43. Ametia says:

    Robert Reich: Mitt Romney IS the Economic Crisis

    The real issue here isn’t Bain’s betting record. It’s that Romney’s Bain is part of the same system as Jamie Dimon’s JPMorgan Chase, Jon Corzine’s MF Global and Lloyd Blankfein’s Goldman Sachs—a system that has turned much of the economy into a betting parlor that nearly imploded in 2008, destroying millions of jobs and devastating household incomes. The winners in this system are top Wall Street executives and traders, private-equity managers and hedge-fund moguls, 
and the losers are most of the rest of us.

    * * *

    The biggest players in this system have, like Romney, made their profits placing big bets with other people’s money. If the bets go well, the players make out like bandits. If they go badly, the burden lands on average workers and taxpayers.

    * * *

    The fortunes raked in by financial dealmakers depend on special goodies baked into the tax code such as “carried interest,” which allows Romney and other partners in private-equity firms (as well as in many venture-capital and hedge funds) to treat their incomes as capital gains taxed at a maximum of 
15 percent. This is how Romney managed to pay an average of 14 percent on more than $42 million of combined income in 2010 and 2011. But the carried-interest loophole makes no economic sense. Conservatives try to justify the tax code’s generous preference for capital gains as a reward to risk-takers—but Romney and other private-equity partners risk little, if any, of their personal wealth. They mostly bet with other investors’ money, including the pension savings of average working people

  44. Ametia says:

    European Central Bank cuts main interest rate to record low

    The European Central Bank cut its main interest rate Thursday by a quarter percentage point to a record low of 0.75 percent in an effort to strengthen the European economy.

    Read more at:

  45. Ametia says:

    More fromteh AP article


    New Report Raises Questions Surroundin​g Mitt Romney¹s Financial Arrangemen​ts

    The mystery surrounding Sankaty reinforces Romney’s history of keeping a tight rein on his public dealings, already documented by his use of private email and computer purges as Massachusetts governor and his refusal to disclose his top fundraisers. The Bermuda company had almost no assets, according to Romney’s 2010 tax returns. But such partnership stakes could still provide significant income for years to come, said tax experts, who added that the lack of disclosure makes it impossible to know for certain.

    “We don’t know the big picture,” said Victor Fleischer, a University of Colorado law professor and private equity expert who urged corporate tax code reforms during congressional testimony last year. “Most of these disclosure rules are designed for people who have passive ownership of stocks and bonds. But in this case, he continues to own management interests that fluctuate greatly in value long after his time with the company and even the end of his separation agreement. And the public has no clear idea where the money is coming from or when it will end.”

    Named for a historic Massachusetts coastal lighthouse, Sankaty was part of a cluster of similarly named hedge funds run by Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded and led until 1999. The offshore company was used in Bain’s $1 billion takeover of Domino’s Pizza and other multimillion-dollar investment deals more than a decade ago.

    Romney’s campaign declined to answer detailed questions from AP about Sankaty. Romney aides have said in the past that some disclosures were not required because those assets were valued by his financial advisers at less than $1,000 – below the minimum threshold under federal rules set by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. A financial snapshot of Sankaty in Romney’s 2010 tax returns showed the holding with almost no value at the time- with $10,000 in both assets and liabilities.

  46. Ametia says:


    • Ametia says:

      10:33 AM EDT, Thursday July 5, 2012
      Cutter: Romney Can’t Take A ‘Principled Position’ On Mandate

      Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter stressed that the debate over whether the individual mandate is a penalty or a tax is really about the fact that Mitt Romney switched positions in an interview on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown” Thursday.

      Cutter said that the mandate is a “penalty that’s administered through the tax code,” but also said that the distinction doesn’t really matter. “Look at what has happened over the past five days,” Cutter said. “His spokesperson calls it a penalty. A couple days later after the right wing of his party rises up and criticizes him, he is suddenly calling it a tax. That’s what this debate is all about, whether Mitt Romney can take a principled position and stick with it. That’s the question.”

      The Obama campaign doesn’t “particularly care” if Romney calls it a penalty or a tax, Cutter said. “We just hope he chooses one and sticks to it.”

    • Ametia says:

      Jul 4, 10:51 AM EDT
      Assets offshore raise Romney wealth questions
      Associated Press

      WASHINGTON (AP) — For nearly 15 years, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s financial portfolio has included an offshore company that remained invisible to voters as his political star rose.

      Based in Bermuda, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. was not listed on any of Romney’s state or federal financial reports. The company is among several Romney holdings that have not been fully disclosed, including one that recently posted a $1.9 million earning – suggesting he could be wealthier than the nearly $250 million estimated by his campaign.

      The omissions were permitted by state and federal authorities overseeing Romney’s ethics filings, and he has never been cited for failing to disclose information about his money. But Romney’s limited disclosures deprive the public of an accurate depiction of his wealth and a clear understanding of how his assets are handled and taxed, according to experts in private equity, tax and campaign finance law.

  47. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone! ;-)

Leave a Reply