Tuesday Open Thread

Jingle Bells” is one of the best-known and commonly sung winter songs in the world. It was written by James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893) and published under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh” in the autumn of 1857. Even though it is commonly thought of as a Christmas song, it was actually written and sung for Thanksgiving.[1] It was mistakenly branded as a Christmas song because being extremely popular at Thanksgiving, it was sung again around Christmas.

About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
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77 Responses to Tuesday Open Thread

  1. Eric Holder: Voter Registration Should Be Automatic For Eligible Voters.


  2. rikyrah says:

    Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 03:13 PM PST.

    Dental chain under fire for using kids as guinea pigs to bilk Medicaid

    by Christian Dem in NCFollow .

    16 Comments / 16 New

    This morning’s Today show had a horrifying story about a chain of dental clinics specializing in caring for low-income kids. Back in 2010, Small Smiles, a chain of clinics based in Pueblo, Colorado; agreed to reimburse the federal government and several state governments for $24 million to settle charges it performed shoddy and unnecessary work on kids and billed Medicaid for the procedures. The company also entered into a sweeping corporate integrity agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. But NBC News’ Lisa Myers reports that Small Smiles still hasn’t cleaned up its act.

    Typical is the story of Nathan Hatchman. Back in 2010–just after Small Smiles settled with the government–his mother, Autum Archuleta, took him to one of its clinics in Denver. She heard then-two-year-old Nathan crying in the treatment room and rushed in to see what was going on.

    She says Nathan was crying and struggling to move while being held down by three clinic employees and wrapped from his head to his feet in a stabilization device called a papoose board. She thinks he wasn’t properly numbed.
    “He wasn’t the same for a long time after we brought him home,” Archuleta said. “He cried a lot…He wasn’t my little boy. He didn’t smile…The night terrors were the worst. I mean it was a lot of sleepless nights.”
    It turned out that the dentist working on Nathan had given him three crowns, two baby root canals and six silver fillings in 25 minutes–work that another dentist deemed shoddy and mostly unneeded. Nathan was still traumatized a year later.
    Another story is that of four-year-old Jamier Brown, who had most of his teeth filled and capped at a Small Smiles in Dayton. Months later, his gums are still discolored and his teeth hurt. Two dentists later said he should have been seen by a pediatric dentist, and one of them bluntly said Small Smiles botched the work on his front teeth.


  3. rikyrah says:

    Rob Nabors: Obama’s quiet dealmaker

    By Suzy Khimm,

    Published: December 10

    Three things you should know about Rob Nabors:

    1. He loves lists, thinks in lists, breaks down plans of action into lists.

    2. He prizes discretion and despises leaks, which is why Republicans say they can trust this Democrat. (And probably explains why he declined to comment for this piece.)

    3. He may be the most important player you’ve never heard of in the ongoing “fiscal cliff” drama.

    President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) made headlines on Sunday when they spoke directly about the fiscal cliff, but it’s Nabors, who is Obama’s chief congressional liaison, who’s in the closed-door negotiations that pave the way for such conversations — and deals.

    “He’s our Congress whisperer,” says David Plouffe, a senior Obama adviser, of the famously soft-spoken Nabors. “Rob’s got a great instinct for where the deal lies, what Democrats are willing to do, what Republicans are willing to do. He’ll say, ‘Here’s what’s going on, here are what the odds are of success.’ He doesn’t ever paint a rosier picture than exists.”

    The wonkish 41-year-old Nabors is also wading into the weeds of any potential fiscal cliff deal.

    “It’s clear when you talk to Rob that he’s not someone just reporting the news at 1600 [Pennsylvania Avenue]; he’s helping to make the news at 1600,” says Mike Sommers, Boehner’s chief of staff.

    “He is very methodical and takes you through things point by point,” says David Krone, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid’s chief of staff. “And if it is a point that is a priority [for the president], he makes that clear.”

    Nabors traveled to Capitol Hill with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner late last month to discuss the fiscal cliff with members of Congress. House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) was one of those present. While Geithner was there as the president’s proxy, it was Nabors who was critical to explaining the president’s position. Hoyer recalls that “Geithner frankly said, ‘Rob is here for the details.’ ”


  4. rikyrah says:

    Politico Accidentally Exposes Beltway Elite

    By Jonathan Chait
    Today at 10:44 AM

    Politico editors Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen today have published what may be the most revealing piece I have ever read about the Washington power elite. The value of the piece is almost entirely anthropological. That is to say, read at face value, it tells the reader almost nothing new. But examined as a cultural specimen, it offers profound insight. The piece reads as if it were written by Upton Sinclair, if he were taken prisoner and trying to smuggle messages out to the world past a particularly literal-minded group of censors.

    The subject of the piece is Allen and VandeHei’s report that broad agreement exists on the correct policy agenda, as revealed to them through “conversations we have had over the past three months with top lawmakers, officials, their senior aides and the CEOs who advise and lobby all of them.” The story proceeds to describe the obviously sensible agenda agreed upon by these sources: It is vital to reduce the deficit through tax reform and stingier entitlements, along with more free trade, resource extraction, and liberalized immigration.

    This is far from the Randian paranoia that has spread among so many millionaires in the Obama agenda. Indeed, I find most of it fairly sensible as policy. What makes the consensus so astonishing, and even nauseating, is the degree to which those who share it show no awareness of their own insularity. Their shared sense of a smart economic growth strategy excludes any monetary or fiscal plan to bring down unemployment through higher consumer demand, a position that commands strong support among economists. Their list of ailments also excludes skyrocketing income inequality and out-of-control carbon emissions. (Though, at the end of a passage extolling the glorious possibility that American oil production will exceed that of Saudi Arabia within a decade, VandeHei and Allen do note, “No doubt, there are environmental concerns, especially for drinking water.” Well, yes. Also for the future of the human race.)

    Obviously, the CEOs, lawmakers, and top aides have a shared economic interest in defining the agenda this way. Mass unemployment doesn’t hurt them, and rising inequality helps them. They not only support more free trade (as I do) but lack any sense that its corrosive effect on the bargaining power of labor might make it anything less than an unalloyed blessing. Non-self-interested rationales exist for all these policies, but the role of self-interest in making them attractive to the economic elite ought to be obvious. Yet all seem to believe implicitly that what is good for the CEO class is by definition what’s good for America.

    Even more remarkable is the approach Politico’s editors take toward the consensus. They have on their hands the most ripe material for a scathing exposé of a chummy, self-interested business-political elite. VandeHei and Allen, by contrast, understand their role here not as exposing the insider nexus but as uncritically transmitting its point of view. The authors begin by describing the consensus as the opinions of the CEO-Beltway class but never bother to mention dissenting opinions. By the middle of the piece, they dispense altogether with the convention of describing the opinions as such and merely repeat them as obvious truths (i.e., “Tax reform would raise more money to pay down the debt and help create the ‘certainty premium’ Moynihan spoke of.”)

    That mainstream journalists feel comfortable doing so is itself further confirmation of the extraordinary and almost unchallenged power commanded by the business and political elites. The Politico story is fairly typical of Washington reporting in its basic endorsement of the business-political elite consensus. The Sunday talk shows and editorial pages are filled to the brim with right-thinking people who would read this piece and nod along happily. What makes this one unusually valuable is that it approaches unusually close to what ought to be a moment of self-awareness — by making explicit rather than implicit the social web that produces the Beltway consensus — but then sprints as fast as can be in the other direction. It should be preserved for generations as the early-21st-century cri de coeur of an incestuous, self-satisfied economic and political elite.

  5. rikyrah says:

    The Right to Work Shot Heard Around the World Won’t End Well for Conservatives

    By: Sarah JonesDecember 11th, 2012

    The people calling themselves ‘conservatives’ are full of glee over what Americans for Prosperity (the same Koch-funded group behind Walker’s assault on workers) is calling the “shot heard around the world” – also known as the Michigan Republicans shoving an ALEC/ Koch funded kill unions bill down the people’s throats in the heart of the American union.

    They gloat. It’s what they do. But what they don’t see the long-term impact of what they’re doing.

    The unions have been dying for years. The orchestrated ALEC-based hits on collective bargaining in Republican-led states was no doubt meant to be the deathblow.

    But instead, it has sparked ongoing debate about the point of unions. Many Americans who never had a reason to think about unions before are now aware of the issue. So while it pains me personally that Republicans did this in my home state, taking aim at all my Grandfather worked for his entire life just weeks after he passed away, I see an opportunity here.

    This is the time to talk to your friends and neighbors about why the union was started, what collective bargaining rights have to do with human rights around the globe (collective bargaining is recognized internationally as a basic human right), and how the union isn’t Big Boss, but rather teacher Dad and line-worker Mom and electrican Brother, etc, and how unions actually help the market self-regulate.

    Worker-friendly states (those without “right to work” laws) have higher incomes on average and better working conditions. An NEA study concluded, “Eleven of the 15 states with the highest poverty rates are RTW, while nine of the 11 states with the lowest poverty rates are worker-friendly.” If that doesn’t get it, how about a discussion regarding productivity? An analysis of gross domestic product per capita shows that worker friendly states “appear to be significantly ‘more productive’ than the RTW states.” Furthermore, “12 of the 14 most productive states are worker-friendly states, while five of the six least productive states are RTW states. The median GDP per capita for the worker-friendly states is $41,529.50, compared to $38,745.50 in RTW states.”


  6. Soledad O’Brien Grills Jeff Sessions Over Cutting Food Stamps


    Soledad O’Brien grilled Sen. Jeff Sessions over his efforts to cut the federal food stamps program on Tuesday’s “Starting Point.”

    Earlier this year, Sessions proposed removing $11 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. He advocated cuts on Tuesday, arguing that food stamp spending has gone up even though unemployment is currently on the decline.

    O’Brien seemed skeptical. “There are people who’d say if you’re doing cuts, you invariably hurt people who need food and people who need food stamps to buy supplemental food,” she said.

    Sessions argued that the program has been “growing out of control” and “there are a lot of people receiving benefits who do not qualify and should not receive them.” O’Brien said that Sessions himself voted to expand the program in 2002 and 2008, and cited research that found the program has a low rate of fraud.

    Later, she said, “When you’re thinking of things to cut, people basically say, why are you trying to balance the budget on people making less than $23,000 a year… So why not cut something else? There are other things that could be on the table before you pick a program that is feeding the nation’s poor children.”

  7. Breaking News‏@BreakingNews

    At Oregon mall, shooter has been ‘neutralized,’ no longer active, police say – @KATUNews

  8. Chicago Tribune‏@chicagotribune

    At least four reported wounded in shooting at Oregon mall http://trib.in/126wfP2

  9. rikyrah says:

    Obama Administration Stimulus: White House Sees Fiscal Cliff Deal As Last, Best Hope

    Posted: 12/11/2012 4:41 pm EST | Updated: 12/11/2012 6:23 pm EST

    The conventional wisdom on the White House’s opening offer to resolve the fiscal standoff treats one particular element of that offer — the stimulus proposals — as a less-than-serious addendum that will be traded away in the end. It’s wrong.

    Senior Democratic officials on Capitol Hill and in the White House say that the media and Republicans are mistaken to assume that the stimulus measures were included as mere bargaining chips. In fact, the Democrats say, they’re important building blocks for President Barack Obama’s second term in office.

    That’s because the “fiscal cliff” deal may be Obama’s last, best chance to win spending or tax-code concessions from Republicans. Democrats and the White House know this, which is why they have chosen to draw the ire of conservatives by jacking up the short-term cost of their fiscal cliff proposal.

    The specific measures — extension of unemployment insurance benefits ($30 billion) and the payroll tax cut ($115 billion), infrastructure spending ($50 billion to $75 billion), and a series of other tax cut extenders ($27 billion) — hardly constitute a robust stimulus package, particularly considering all the spending cuts likely to surround them in any final deal. Yet top Democrats view these measures, drawn from the president’s proposed American Jobs Act, as an essential component of that deal.

    “Our approach must be ‘first, do no harm’ to the recovery,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told The Huffington Post. “That means extending emergency unemployment benefits and, if not preserving the payroll tax cut, then replacing it with something that gives similar help to middle-class families.”

    A top Senate Democratic aide — speaking about the talks, like many others, only on condition of anonymity — was blunter in his assessment. “The idea of extending UI [unemployment insurance] is not a trade-away chip. That’s essential. The idea of replacing payroll with something is something they feel very strongly about,” he said. Another top Senate aide said that the stimulus is “very real” and that it has consistently been a part of every proposal Democrats have made. A top GOP aide said he wasn’t sure how serious the White House is, but the stimulus has “been on every piece of paper they’ve sent us.”


  10. rikyrah says:

    John Boehner’s Attempt To Pressure Obama on the Fiscal Cliff Completely Backfires

    By: Jason Easley
    December 11th, 2012

    John Boehner took to the House floor to pressure President Obama, but instead he only made things worse for the Republican Party.

    Here is the video:


    Boehner and the Republicans are trying to use a little political sleight of hand in an attempt to distract the American people from the fact that they refuse to raise taxes on the wealthy. The one thing missing from Boehner’s remarks is any mention of raising taxes on the highest income earners. Instead, the Speaker pulled out the tired trick of hiding their protection of the wealthy behind concern for “small businesses.”

    Rep. Boehner’s refusal to even acknowledge raising taxes on the wealthy is why his latest blame Obama gamble is destined to blow up in his face. Boehner didn’t try to make his case to the American people for why spending cuts are better than tax increases. He simply refused to acknowledge the most important issue in the minds of the American people. This isn’t just bad politics. It’s bad governance.

    All Boehner managed to do was confirm that the Republicans are the ones standing in the way of a deal. The question of how we tackle deficit was already resolved on Election Day. Post election polls continue to show that the public is siding with Obama and the Democrats on the fiscal cliff issue.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Republicans are playing a losing hand, but it takes a special “talent” to turn a losing hand into total catastrophic failure.


  11. rikyrah says:

    Americans For Prosperity Fake an Attack On Their Tent at Michigan Right to Work Rally

    By: Sarah JonesDecember 11th, 2012

    Prepare to be confronted with yet another example of right wing deliberate deception. Today at the Right to Work protest in Michigan, an Americans for Prosperity tent came down with people inside of it. Naturally, Fox was there to capture the scene and AFP were quick to blame it on violent union supporters. Also, Breitbart had a video, naturally, blaming the tent falling on violent union supporters, with a video that doesn’t start until well after the melee (of course).

    But as you have learned, all is not what it seems in Right Wing world.

    A protester of the anti-union law passed today, Tom Duckworth, saw a man he’d spoken to earlier in the tent, wearing NRA garb, kick the tent poles from the inside of the tent. Duckworth thought they must be getting ready to leave, until he realized there were people inside the tent. So, basically, a person described by Duckworth as “clearly a member of Americans for Propserty” kicked the tent down and then AFP blamed it on the unions.

    December 11, 2012: Tom Duckworth explains what he saw at the Americans for Prosperity tent earlier today. Watch here via ProgressMichigan:


    Duckworth says that when the tent came down, people cheered, but nobody “rushed the tent” for about 30 seconds. Sure, they cheered – AFP are the people funding the death of a globally recognized human right. After about 30 seconds, the protesters did trample the fallen tent in their pleasure, cheering its demise

  12. rikyrah says:

    Hostess Steals From Employee Pensions. Blames Pensions for Company’s Demise.

    Posted on 12/11/2012 at 5:30 pm by JM Ashby

    Speaking of unhinged. I almost came unhinged reading this.

    Hostess Brands acknowledged for the first time in a news report Monday that the company diverted workers’ pension money for other company uses.

    The bankrupt baker told The Wall Street Journal that money taken out of workers’ paychecks, intended for their retirement funds, was used for company operations instead. Hostess, which was under different management at the time the diversions began in August 2011, said it does not know how much money it took.

    The hubris of Hostess management is astonishing.

    Hostess executives have spent the last several weeks crusading for the right to cut employee pensions while also divvying up retention bonuses for company executives who will oversee the company’s liquidation.

    Now it turns out some of those pensions have already been diverted to cover other costs.

    Even more dumbfounding is the fact that company management dipped into employee pensions to cover costs and still did not manage to save the company from bankruptcy. And they expect us to believe employee benefits are blame for the company’s demise? How can that be the case if you’ve already stolen from them?


  13. rikyrah says:

    Sebelius: Expansion of Medicaid is All or Nothing:

    HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reiterated today that a half-hearted or inconsequential expansion of Medicaid is unacceptable and that if states want to receive matching funds from the federal government, they must fully comply with the law.

    “Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote a letter to governors saying the administration “continue[s] to encourage all states to fully expand their Medicaid programs.”

    “In an accompanying blog post, she declared that “the law does not create an option for enhanced match for a partial or phased-in Medicaid expansion to 133 percent of poverty.”

    “In other words, the states must take all or nothing. That sets up a dilemma for Republican governors, who have to decide whether to stonewall Obamacare or accept the generous funding to cover their low-income uninsured residents.”


  14. rikyrah says:

    Violence Against Women Act: John Boehner, Eric Cantor Pressured By Republicans To Act

    Posted: 12/11/2012 5:56 pm EST | Updated: 12/11/2012 6:42 pm EST

    House Republican leaders have already been under pressure to pass an expanded version of the Violence Against Women Act in the lame-duck Congress, but now that pressure is coming from within their own party.

    On Tuesday, 10 House Republicans signed a letter authored by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and other Democrats urging House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to take up and pass a VAWA bill that covers all victims of domestic violence — much like the bill that passed the Senate — before Congress gavels out for the year.

    “We write today asking you to move quickly on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) by bringing a bill inclusive of protections for all victims of domestic violence, similar to that which has already passed the Senate, to the House floor for a vote during these final weeks of the 112th Congress,” reads the letter, which is also addressed to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). “We must send the President a strong, bipartisan bill that protects all those vulnerable to domestic violence.”

    Republicans on the letter include Reps. Judy Biggert (Ill.), Ted Poe (Texas), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Joe Heck (Nev.), Patrick Meehan (Pa.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), Jon Runyon (N.J.), David Reichert (Wash.) and Michael Fitzpatrick (Pa.). In total, 120 House lawmakers signed the letter.

    The House and the Senate have each already passed their own bills to reauthorize VAWA, but they differ in one major way: The bipartisan Senate bill includes new protections for members of the LGBT community, undocumented immigrants and Native Americans, and the House bill, which passed with only Republican votes, does not. So far, House Republican leaders have refused to accept the Senate additions, calling them politically driven. In the meantime, the issue has stalled and VAWA was left to expire, for the first time in its 18-year history, in September 2011.

    The fact that some House Republicans are now publicly calling on their party leaders to get behind a more inclusive bill is notable, given their relative silence on the matter in the months since passing their pared-down bill. Meanwhile, some Senate Republicans who voted against the Senate bill have recently had a change of heart and now want the House to pass it.

    Moore said there are other House Republicans who didn’t sign Tuesday’s letter but who are quietly trying to get their party leaders to support the provision relating to tribal jurisdictional matters and back the Senate bill. Without naming names, she said there are Republican women who are “prominent in the caucus” pushing their leaders to support the broader bill.


  15. rikyrah says:

    December 11, 2012 1:24 PM
    Simple Query

    By Ed Kilgore

    I’m sure I am not the first to have this insight, but it’s worth underlining: if right-to-work laws are indeed, as supporters claim, a “liberty” issue for workers who are otherwise slaves to “union bosses,” then why are Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan GOP legislators denying these “rights” to the most esteemed workers under their purview, police officers and firefighters? Do GOPers actually despise these workers, or are their justifications for taking this step a bit dishonest?

    I think we all know the answer to that question.


  16. rikyrah says:

    Today at 4:17 PM

    In Michigan, the Republican Will to Power
    By Jonathan Chait

    In November 1992, right before Bill Clinton defeated George H. W. Bush, Grover Norquist published a lengthy article in the American Spectator predicting the horrors a Clinton presidency would usher in. Norquist focused his attention not on the usual conservative bugbears — stagflation, big government, liberal judges — but rather on what he was certain would be a massive, sustained Democratic campaign to use the power of government in order to entrench Democratic control. Norquist rattled off a long list of actions he predicted Clinton would undertake: use the IRS to crack down on conservatives, unleash government organizations to engage in politicking, register legions of new voters (“not necessarily citizens”) at welfare offices and prison induction centers, grant Senate seats to the District of Columbia and perhaps Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and, of course, unleash a wave of compulsory unionization.

    Clinton never attempted any of these things, of course. But Norquist’s fever dream was a useful window into a poorly understood aspect of conservative thought, which is an obsession with the ways in which the power of government can be used to help the governing party maintain its own power. Norquist’s ill-founded suspicions of the Democrats was merely a failed attempt to mirror-image project his own operational mode, which is widely shared among movement conservatives. It was the driving force behind the Bush administration’s failed 2005 campaign to privatize Social Security, which conservatives widely and gleefully predicted would, if successful, bring tens of millions of Americans into the “investor class” and thus transmute them into allies of capital rather than labor.

    This is the same mentality at work in numerous states where Republicans, having gained power in the 2010 off-year election wave, have invested their political capital in legal changes designed primarily to tilt the future playing field in their party’s favor. That is the basic purpose of the wave of laws to make voting less convenient (Democrats being more heavily represented among sporadic voters) and to crush unions. As much as Republicans detest unions as economic actors, they hate them far more as political actors, organizing significant minorities of voters as discrete voting blocs aligned with the Democrats.

    This is the best way to understand the Republican party’s sudden attack on unions in Michigan. Last year, the Michigan director of Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing activist group, explained, “We fight these battles on taxes and regulation but really what we would like to see is to take the unions out at the knees so they don’t have the resources to fight these battles.” Republicans understand full well that Michigan leans Democratic, and the GOP has total power at the moment, so its best use of that power is to crush one of the largest bastions of support for the opposing party.

    Obviously, one should always be suspicious of theories that attribute malicious will to power to the other side while absolving one’s own allies of the same. I don’t think Democrats abstain from this behavior (to anything like the degree the GOP employs it) because it’s made of angels. Rather, the Democratic party comprises an economically diverse coalition, including not just labor but business as well. Even if Democrats could come up with a plan to crush the political power of business — which is hard because business is way larger and stronger than labor, even in Michigan — huge chunks of the party would object. Whereas nobody in the GOP cares about labor at all, so it’s easier to unify them behind the kind of political/class war strategy we’re seeing here.


  17. rikyrah says:

    On debt ceiling, GOP is defining extortion down

    Posted by Greg Sargent on December 11, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Until today, it was not certain whether Republicans would stage another showdown over the debt ceiling. They were said to be thinking about it, but reports carefully noted no decision had been made. However, as Brian Beutler reports, Mitch McConnell today publicly confirmed that it’s on.

    “I think I can speak for every single Republican that we think a request of any president to raise the debt ceiling in the future should involve a discussion with whoever the president is about what we might do about the debt,” McConnell said, adding: “We are going to insist that we have another discussion about the future of our country in connection with the request of us to raise the debt ceiling.”

    As Beutler notes, this is not an explicit declaration that Republicans will refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless they get the spending cuts they want. But it is certainly a threat to do this.

    Pay close attention to how this is covered. In a very general sense, the shrugs that greet the prospect of another debt ceiling fight suggest Republicans are successfully redefining the withholding of support for a debt limit hike as not agreeing to concessions requested by Democrats. In other words, Republicans won’t give Democrats the debt ceiling hike they want unless they get spending cuts in return.

    But raising the debt ceiling is not merely giving Democrats something they want. It is averting a threat to the economy and to the whole country. Top Republicans have admitted this. As Steve Benen recently documented, during the last debt ceiling battle John Boehner readily admitted that default would mean “financial disaster” for the global economy.

    Indeed, the mere threat of brinksmanship itself, let alone default, is potentially damaging. During the last debt ceiling fight Standard and Poors downgraded U.S. government debt before default occurred — partly because of the mere fact that Congress was fighting over whether to raise it.

    But McConnell and Boehner believe the threat of damage to the economy is a perfectly legitimate lever to use to get what the GOP wants. McConnell has said that the 2011 fight taught Republicans that the debt ceiling was a “hostage worth ransoming” to extract spending cuts. Recently, Boehner reportedly responded to Obama’s request for a debt ceiling hike by saying: “There is a price for everything.”


  18. rikyrah says:

    Soledad O’Brien to GOP Senator: “Why are you trying to balance budget on people making under $23,000 a year?”

    Posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 1:59 pm by GottaLaff

    Soledad O’Brien does it again. She’s previously grilled GOP Rep. Joe Heck on his bizarre quasi-defense of Susan Rice, argued with a Romney adviser about Romney’s position on Israel, had a heated exchange with Rudy Giuliani when he refused to answer a question about Benghazi, sparred with Sununu over that “act of terror” in Libya, went after Bay Buchanan on Romney’s 47% comments, and on and on.

    Her latest In Your Face was with Republican Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions pointing out his hypocrisy about cutting food stamps at the expense of his lower-income constituents.



    “You voted in fact in 2002 and 2008 to grow the program yourself. I think first under President Bush in 2002, and when it comes to fraud, this Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says SNAP has ‘the most rigorous quality control systems of any public benefit program in recent years, it’s received its lowest error rates on record.’”

    “Most people who are on it aren’t working the system, they are just hungry people.”

    “Twenty percent of your constituents are on food stamps and they look at the people who are actually eligible? It’s something like under 70 percent who are eligible who sign up.”

    “…When you’re thinking of things to cut, people basically say, why are you trying to balance the budget on people who are making under $23,000 a year. I think that range roughly, is the national average for what a family of four would get on food stamps. So why not cut something else? There are other things that could be on the table before you pick a program that is feeding the nation’s poor children.“


  19. rikyrah says:

    Chart: Michigan’s “Right to Work” law contains verbatim language from ALEC model bill

    Posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 2:46 pm by GottaLaff

    Michigan Governor Rick Snyder actually said that union busting is “pro-workers! It’s a good thing! This is a positive thing for unions!”

    The “Right-to-work” (aka right to work for less) measure passed in the Michigan Legislature today, and Snyder will sign it as early as tomorrow. This means that unions cannot require members to pay dues as a condition of employment. And it also means more massive protests and rallies in the months to come, not to mention the pursuit of possible legal remedies and initiatives.

    The Center for Media and Democracy’s Executive Director and friend of the blog, Lisa Graves, reported that the so-called “Right to Work” Act is political revenge because unions had the nerve to support Democrats. That’s true they did, but not nearly as much as big corporations supported Republicans:

    And the Center for Media and Democracy’s Brendan Fischer posted that the petty, vindictive RTW Act also happens to contain verbatim language from an ALEC model. Yep, twin bills. Read it and weep:

    The legislation is straight out of the Koch-funded ALEC playbook. Compare the language in HB 4003 and HB 4054 with the ALEC “model” Right to Work Act:


  20. rikyrah says:

    Poll-itics: Voters souring on Ohio’s John Kasich and So. Carolina’s Nikki Haley

    Posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 3:18 pm by GottaLaff

    After all the disgusting Right to Work for Less news, we need a pick me up. Why, here’s one now!

    Quinnipiac poll: Gov. John Kasich (R) is not too popular with Ohio voters; they say he doesn’t deserve a second term, 44% to 37%.

    Public Policy Polling: In a possible rematch, Vincent Sheheen (D) leads South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) 46% to 44%.


  21. rikyrah says:

    Meteorologist Fired for Responding to ‘Racist’ Facebook Post

    December 11, 2012 by Clutch

    Social media can land employees in a heap of trouble, and meteorologist Rhonda A. Lee found that truth out firsthand. Ms. Lee lost her job at KTBS-TV, an ABC affiliate in Shreveport, La. when she responded to a Facebook post criticizing her short afro.

    The post read as follows via Journal-isms:

    On Oct. 1, a viewer identified as Emmitt Vascocu wrote, “the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady.the only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. im not sure if she is a cancer patient. but still its not something myself that i think looks good on tv. what about letting someone a male have waist long hair do the news.what about that (cq).”

    Lee replied the same day, “Hello Emmitt–I am the ‘black lady’ to which you are referring. I’m sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer. I’m a non-smoking, 5’3, 121 lbs, 25 mile a week running, 37.5 year old woman, and I’m in perfectly healthy physical condition.

    “I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair. For your edification: traditionally our hair doesn’t grow downward. It grows upward. Many Black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more European grade of hair and that is their choice. However in my case I don’t find it necessary. I’m very proud of who I am and the standard of beauty I display. Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society. Little girls (and boys for that matter) need to see that what you look like isn’t a reason to not achieve their goals.

    “Conforming to one standard isn’t what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that.

    “Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend and thank for watching.”

    Vascocu replied that Lee was right to be proud of who she is and that he is not a racist, but “. . . this world has . . . certain standerd (cq). if youve come from a world of being poor are you going to dress in rags?. . .”

    Though Lee’s response seems professional and mature given the nature of Vascocu’s criticism, she was reprimanded by her employer and subsequently fired. It’s even more puzzling that KTBS-TV could not reference a documented rule that Ms. Lee was in violation of: “I had a meeting with my ND [news director] and GM [general manager] Friday trying to get my job back,” Lee said. “They told me the policy I violated isn’t written down, but was mentioned in a newsroom meeting about a month-and-a-half prior. A meeting I didn’t attend. So when I asked what rule did I break there isn’t anything to point to.”

    Lee cites racism as the impetus behind her firing, and says she’s experienced it regularly since becoming a meteorologist as “weather is [a] white boy business.” Be that as it may, she shouldn’t have to fight off racist attacks from viewers, and certainly not from her employer


  22. Toys for Tots

    First Lady Michelle Obama is escorted by SSgt Joel Vazquez as she arrives with a sack full of toys at the Toys for Tots Distribution Center at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., Dec. 11, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

  23. Why Texas Won’t Be Seceding From The Union Anytime Soon


  24. Ametia says:

    you’re inside my heda, Chauncy.

    MONDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2012

    If CNN Made a “White in America” TV Series What Questions Would You Like to See Featured?

    In this post, I suggested that CNN’s Black in America series is extremely problematic because of how it normalizes whiteness. I would like to play with that idea some more.

    The premise behind the Black in America series is that people of color are some type of fascinating Other to be deconstructed, explained, and their mysterious ways worked through on national television.

    Let us reverse the gaze for a moment. Decentering whiteness, and challenging how it is taken as a de facto, unmarked, and unnamed type of “normal” identity, is critical if we are to understand the roots–and implications–of white racial resentment and white fear in post civil rights America.

    The white identity politics of the Right, which they are doubling down on following Romney’s defeat by Obama, are a reaction to how conservatives perceive Whiteness as being challenged and under siege in this moment. As such, the timing is opportune for examining the “mysterious” and “problematic” ways of white folks. Such questions can serve the Common Good and better prepare all of us for an America where the colorline is in flux.


  25. rikyrah says:

    December 11, 2012 9:31 AM
    Ancient Battle

    By Ed Kilgore

    The right-to-work blitz in Michigan may have been a tactical surprise to unions and to Democrats. But timing aside, the legislation represents an ancient, almost primal cause among conservatives who view unions as both an economic and political threat to a free market society in which workers are independent contractors whose low pay and meager benefits are an accurate benefit of their limited value to the enterprises that make all good things possible.

    In a piece on how Gov. Rick Snyder has squandered his image as the rare “moderate” Republican, Salon’s Josh Eidelson links to a video where a national GOP leader from Michigan tells a Tea Party audience just a few months ago that conservatives are determined to enact right-to-work in Michigan by ballot initiative if Snyder and legislators don’t get it done legislatively. You’ll hear a lot of magic names as among the forces working towards that end: the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity, Amway founder Don DeVos, former Michigan Gov. John Engler, who now directs the Business Roundtable, etc.


  26. rikyrah says:

    John Boehner slow-walks the country towards the fiscal cliff
    Posted by Greg Sargent on December 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    John Boehner went on the House floor today to reiterate his demand that the White House propose detailed spending cuts to prove its seriousness about reaching a fiscal cliff deal:

    As you know, Dems have already agreed to well over $1 trillion in spending cuts in 2011 — cuts Boeher himself said were significant at the time. By contrast, Republicans have not agreed to a penny in new rates. Since experts believe we can’t raise a substantial enough amount in deficit reducing revenues without hiking rates, the basic situation here is simple: One side has made far more concessions towards real deficit reduction than the other has. And the one that hasn’t made as many concessions is the one demanding still more — even though it lacks the leverage here.

    I continue to remain puzzled about what this is supposed to accomplish. Obviously the idea is to try to blame the White House and Dems for the failure to reach a deal. But polls continue to show that Republicans are losing this PR battle badly. Yesterday’s Gallup poll found that only 26 percent of Americans approve of the GOP’s handling of the fiscal cliff talks, versus 64 percent who disapprove. For Obama the numbers are 48-44. That comes after Republicans have demanded for weeks that Dems detail spending cuts first. This would seem to suggest the current strategy is not working.


  27. rikyrah says:

    Raising Medicare age could leave hundreds of thousands uninsured
    Posted by Greg Sargent on December 11, 2012 at 11:56 am

    It looks increasingly possible that lawmakers will reach a fiscal cliff deal that includes a hike in the Medicare eligibility age — a concession to those on the right who seem determined to see very deep entitlement cuts, even if they take benefits away from vulnerable seniors. One argument for raising the eligibility age is that seniors who lose benefits can get insurance through Medicaid or the Obamacare exchanges.

    But a new report to be released later today undercuts that argument — and finds that up to half a million seniors could lose insurance if the eligibility age is raised.

    The report, by the Center for American Progress, points out a key fact that’s been mostly missing from the debate: The hope of getting seniors who lose Medicare insured through Obamacare could be seriously compromised by the Supreme Court decision allowing states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. This would inflate the number of seniors who could be left without insurance, because many would fall into the category of lower-income senior that would be expected to gain access to Medicaid through its expansion. (Jonathan Cohn has written about this extensively.)

    Here’s how CAP reached its conclusion. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently concluded that a rise in the eligibility age could mean as many as 270,000 seniors are left uninsured in 2021. But that’s assuming Obamacare is fully implemented in all states. The CAP report points out that 10 states have publicly declared they will opt out of the Medicaid expansion, and more are undecided.

    The CAP study then totaled up how many seniors below the poverty line live in states that may opt out of the Medicaid expansion, using 2011 data. The total: Over 164,000. This table shows how many of these seniors live in each of these states:


  28. rikyrah says:

    December 11, 2012 11:58 AM
    Obama Refuses To Help Wreck Obamacare

    By Ed Kilgore

    As you are probably aware, now that Republicans are in some disarray on the tax front, and are having to beg Democrats to propose Medicare cuts to give them cover for an abrupt abandonment of their recent Medigoguery, the one fiscal item GOPers can agree on with full-throated confidence is the ontological necessity of screwing up implementation of Obamacare. (Just yesterday a Forbes columnist wrote a piece on the “Resistance Movement Against Obamacare” that made the cause of denying one’s fellow citizens health care coverage sound like a war of liberation against fascism). And conservatives have been eager to egg on Republican governors and legislators to do everything within their power—and perhaps beyond it—to obstruct everything from the establishment of health exchanges to the expansion of Medicaid.

    Since this campaign of willful obstruction postdated the 2011 fiscal talks, it’s not at all surprising that the White House is backing away from one concession it put on the table back then: “blending” match rates for various Medicaid services in a way that would expose states to a higher share of costs while generating $100 billion in long-term savings for the feds. That’s just the excuse conservatives need to help justify their determination not only to oppose the super-matched Medicaid expansion but to press for the “flexibility” to gut existing Medicaid benefits and eligibility.

    You can expect considerable shrieking from Republicans about Obama “moving the goalposts” by rescinding this concession (as though they haven’t been “moving the golaposts” of acceptable domestic policies from the day of Obama’s election in 2008). But they have no one but themselves to blame for this particular development.


  29. rikyrah says:

    The spending cuts Boehner chooses not to see
    By Steve Benen
    Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:45 PM EST

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made a rare floor appearance this morning to demand answers from the White House as part of the ongoing fiscal talks: “Where are the President’s spending cuts?”


    It’s disconcerting, in a way, that Boehner still doesn’t seem to understand the larger debate he’s currently engaged in, but so long as the Speaker is confused, let’s try to give him a hand.

    First, if the Republican leader wants to know where President Obama’s spending cuts are, he can start with the more than $1 trillion in spending cuts Obama already accepted as part of the resolution to last year’s debt-ceiling crisis.

    Second, Obama’s debt-reduction plan, like Obama’s most recent budget plan, already includes additional spending cuts, on top of the cuts the president agreed to in 2011.

    And third — this is the part Boehner really doesn’t seem to understand — Obama has no incentive to negotiate with himself. The House Speaker is saying, in effect, “We’re demanding spending cuts, so Obama should propose some, and we’ll let him know when we’re satisfied.”

    The White House has decided not to play this game and for good reason. If Boehner wants more spending cuts, he can propose more spending cuts. That’s how negotiations are supposed to work.


  30. Ametia says:

    The Election Is Over, but the Voting Rights Fight Is in Full Swing
    Aura Bogado and Voting Rights Watch 2012 on December 10, 2012 – 11:05 AM ET

    One of the most popular post-election narratives remains that voter suppression efforts were soundly defeated. While the concept is essentially true, it says very little about how voting rights will fare in the near future—or how activists are continuing the work they began to preserve voting rights. Many voter ID measures, cut-offs to early voting and excessive voter purges were blocked or weakened at the state level in 2012, but lawmakers are aiming to propose new measures in 2013.

    The Supreme Court, meanwhile, has announced that it will hear a challenge to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 next year. That’s in addition to Arizona v. InterTribal Council of Arizona, which stems from a rule that demands voters demonstrate proof of citizenship when registering to vote. The two cases, which hinge on the Court’s interpretation of federal legislation that bars discrimination and its interpretation of what’s known as the Motor Voter Act, could make sweeping changes to the ways voting rights are—or are not—protected. Those stakes aren’t lost on community groups around the nation that hope to continue their voting rights work, even without the spotlight of a presidential election.


  31. rikyrah says:

    Michigan is a Union State

    by BooMan
    Tue Dec 11th, 2012 at 09:27:34 AM EST

    I have deep roots in Michigan. My grandfather went to school there and then raised his family in Kalamazoo. I went to school there. One of my brothers went to school there. My ex-wife is from Detroit. I cannot imagine Michigan as a right-to-work state. It’s a cultural thing. You either understand it, or you don’t. But it runs as deep as U of M’s maize and blue. I think it goes far beyond partisan politics. It’s more like how hunting and fishing are ingrained parts of the culture is many parts of the country (including Michigan). You can’t take that away just by signing a slip of paper that you call a law. The people won’t accept it.
    I guess that is what the state’s Democratic congressional delegation was trying to tell Gov. Rick Snyder:

    Top Democrats in the Michigan Congressional delegation just wrapped up their meeting with Governor Rick Snyder, during which they urged him in no uncertain terms: If you go forward with “right to work” legislation, you’ll be consigning the state to years of discord and division. They urged him to consider vetoing the legislation or postponing it until the next session — or even agreeing to subject it to referendum.
    According to Dems who were on the call, Snyder told them he would “seriously” take into account their objections — which they took as a genuine indication of possible willingness, for now, to reconsider…

    …Dems told Snyder that forging ahead with “right to work” legislation risked undermining the progress in labor-management relations in the state and could create a situation similar to Wisconsin, where an ongoing battle over collective bargaining tore the state apart for over a year.

    I don’t know much about Gov. Snyder’s personality, but I doubt he will heed these warnings. If he goes ahead and signs the right-to-work legislation, I expect that the GOP’s strength will be wiped out in most of the state, with the exception of some of the Detroit suburbs where auto executives make their home. The Republicans derive a lot of strength in Michigan from a combination of basic social conservatism (especially on the abortion issue) and hostility to Detroit (barely-veiled racial fear and resentment). But I think the culture of unionism trumps the culture of social conservatism. We saw this in recent presidential results in Ohio and Wisconsin, but the phenomenon is much stronger in Michigan.

    Going after unions in this way is a sure-fire way to get the so-called Reagan Democrats to drop the Republican Party, and with extreme prejudice.


  32. rikyrah says:

    December 11, 2012 2:28 PM
    Haley Muddies the Waters

    By Ed Kilgore

    It’s not every day a governor gets to place someone in the United States Senate, so I guess you can forgive Nikki Haley for milking as much publicity as she can from choice of a replacement for Jim DeMint.

    But the “short list” she’s now put out simply draws more attention to the fact that she hasn’t already made the choice national conservatives are begging for, reportedly reflecting DeMint’s own wishes: Rep. Tim Scott, the African-American right-winger from Charleston.

    Scott’s on the list, to be sure, but so, too are two women who sort of muddy the diversity waters: Jenny Sanford, the aggrieved former wife of the adulterous former Gov. Mark Sanford; and Catherine Templeton, the union-baiting former head of the state labor department who now runs the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

    Sanford is no token: an wealthy heiress and investment banker who was long considered her husband’s chief political strategist, she’s a force to be reckoned with in SC conservative politics, and has some close personal ties to Haley, though not as close as those possessed by Templeton, the living symbol of Haley’s signature hatred of unions.

    Conspicuously missing from Haley’s list is Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who is probably more popular with serious Palmetto State wingnuts than Scott. But she does include another Tea Party favorite, Rep. Trey Gowdy, who is the only member of the list from the GOP-heavy upstate region. Former Attorney General Henry McMaster, who was originally thought to be a “placeholder” possibility, rounds out the list.

    FWIW, Haley’s most prominent SC Republican critic, the well-connected if disreputable blogger Will Folks, rates Sanford the favorite. While passing over Scott would undoubtedly annoy the national conservative types who want him as a trophy, Sanford would probably be a very popular pick back home.


  33. rikyrah says:

    Rhoda’s terrific comment this morning:


    Good Morning, POU!

    Isn’t it damn amazing how when POTUS has all the cards, is winning, he’s being told to give Boehner cover and climb down and take the hit of proposing entitlement changes.

    Gerson in Washpo has a column on this and I’m not going to bother linking to it; but it makes clear POTUS is winning. The whole world knows POTUS is winning. And that the Republicans have no way to climb down and no hope that the debt ceiling will do anything but blow up in their faces. So MSM types want Democrats to propose entitlement cuts so that Republicans can pocket them and then run against Democrats for proposing and voting for them.

    Hello! We just saw Romney play this game; DEMS aren’t going there. Boehner has to man up and SAY what he wants to resolve this situation. That he is refusing to do so makes clear how bad the position he is in actually is.

    It’s not POTUS’ job to make it better; it’s his job to win what’s best for the country! I honestly think that a black man is winning gets them even more. I don’t remember them saying Bill Clinton has to let Newt Gingrich save face.

    • Ametia says:

      Spot on! POTUS is a WINNER Period.

      Is’nt this what Black men have been doing for centuries, doing all the hard work, and YT tries to take credit for it? Let’s watch as Boehner drowns in his drinks and sink out of the Speaker’s role.

  34. rikyrah says:

    Lizz Winstead‏@lizzwinstead
    Charles Koch “Working hard to understand the election results” http://bit.ly/VQMkI2 #LemmeHelp #YouLost

    Kochs Postpone Post-Election Meeting

    National Review Online has learned that the Koch brothers will postpone their semi-annual meeting, which was originally scheduled to be held next month. It will now be held in April. In an email to friends, Charles Koch says he wants to reflect on the results, and on election data, before he huddles with fellow business leaders.

    • Ametia says:

      LMBAO Even the CROTCH brothers are shivering in disbelief. November 6, 2012 will go down in history as the day, PBO’s relection win exaserbated MENTAL ILLNESS from the elites!

  35. rikyrah says:

    A GOP consultant’s accidental candor on voter-ID laws

    By Steve Benen
    Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:55 AM EST.

    When it comes to voter-suppression techniques, Republicans generally maintain a certain pretense, at least in public. They argue that measures such as voter-ID laws aren’t about blocking Americans’ access to their own elections, but rather, about preventing imaginary fraud. The defense isn’t compelling, but GOP officials generally repeat it with a straight face.

    Once in a great while, however, a Republican will slip and tell the truth.

    Republican campaign consultant Scott Tranter appeared on a panel Monday hosted by the Pew Center on the States to discuss the long lines and voter ID controversies that plagued the 2012 election. In his comments, Tranter seemed to imply that he believed these issues were helpful to Republicans and should be pursued for that reason.

    “A lot of us are campaign officials — or campaign professionals — and we want to do everything we can to help our side. Sometimes we think that’s voter ID, sometimes we think that’s longer lines — whatever it may be,” Tranter said with a laugh.


  36. Ametia says:


    The Michigan House has voted to pass two right-to-work bills, meaning workers no longer have to pay to join unions.

    Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, has said he will sign the measures.

    Advocates have said the bills will help attract businesses to the state, but critics said they would weaken labor’s bargaining strength by cutting union financial resources without doing anything to bring in more jobs.

  37. George Zimmerman, left, arrives at the Seminole County courthouse for a hearing, Tuesday, December 11, 2012.

    George Zimmerman, left, arrives at the Seminole County courthouse for a hearing, Tuesday, December 11, 2012. (Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel. / December 11, 2012

  38. Judge Nelson Denies Defendant’s Motions to Modify and Clarify Conditions of Release in Trayvon Martin Murder Case


    Judge Nelson denied the defendant’s motions to modify and to clarify the conditions of his release.

    The defendant’s motion to modify the conditions of his release was a request to terminate GPS monitoring and lift the travel restrictions. After Mark O’Mara opened by asserting the defendant’s innocence and supporting that claim with his revisionist history of the case, including waving a document with color copies side by side of the two manipulated photographs of the front and back of the defendant’s head, Bernie de la Rionda mocked the request with a righteous rant about the defendant’s desire to travel so that he could appear in public and sell more copies of his autograph.

    He also mentioned that Jose Baez had turned over two memos from Chris Serino dated early in the investigation when Serino and others were considering recommending that the defendant be charged with second degree murder.

    Judge Nelson denied the motion without comment.

    The defendant’s motion to clarify the conditions of his release was an effort to obtain permission to contact friends. Judge Nelson denied the motion noting that Judge Lester had imposed the conditions and there had not been any material change of circumstances to alter those conditions. She noted parenthetically that she did not see any prohibition in the order that would not allow him to contact his friends.

    In other words, the motion was a waste of the court’s time.

  39. Judge Nelson has DENIED Zimmerman’s motion to modify conditions of release.

    Next motion date: January 8, 2013.

    I got in on the hearing when it was almost over and I see Judge Nelson didn’t waste anytime…Bam! Bam! Bam! DENIED!

    Hello and Goodbye!

  40. …Come and ride with me in that open sleigh

    merry christmas banner Pictures, Images and Photos

  41. rikyrah says:

    In Talks, House Majority Weighs Loyalty to Voters


    Published: December 10, 2012

    As their leaders inch toward agreeing to higher tax rates, dozens of House Republicans find themselves caught between the will of a larger American public that favors higher taxes on the rich and the wishes of constituents who re-elected them overwhelmingly to oppose the Obama agenda at every turn.

    With the last House race decided over the weekend, the conflict between a Democratic president convincingly re-elected to a second term and the House Republicans who held their majority illustrates a striking dichotomy in the nation’s body politic: the president and a majority of senators, including a growing number of Republicans, back compromise on tax rates and say the public is on their side, and a majority of the House, in artfully drawn districts, claim just the opposite.

    “We ran aggressively talking about taxes and growth and spending, as did the president,” said Representative Sean P. Duffy, a first-term Republican from Wisconsin, who despite being a top target of Democrats easily won re-election by 12 percentage points. “The president keeps talking about his mandate. Well, he doesn’t have a mandate in the Seventh District.”

    Given the electoral dynamics, the lawmakers who are broaching the possibility of raising tax rates as a way to strike a deal and prevent the possibility of a recession are beginning to appeal to House members with a term not heard often in the House — the national interest.

    The numbers explain how both the president and House Republicans see themselves on solid ground. National polling has consistently shown a public that favors raising taxes on the affluent to help bring down the deficit. But few Republicans in the House fear the political ramifications of such polls.

    “My constituents want me to stand firm on cutting spending. I campaigned on that issue. That’s why they elected me,” said Representative Ted Poe, Republican of Texas, who won re-election with 65 percent of the vote. “I don’t see any scenario where raising tax rates, in any combination of compromise, will solve our problem.”


  42. rikyrah says:

    The Morning Plum: A way out for labor in Michigan?
    Posted by Greg Sargent on December 11, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Today, Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign “right to work” legislation in Michigan. Obviously, this will constitute a hard blow to organized labor, for a host of reasons, symbolic and practical alike.

    But NBC’s Michael O’Brien reports that labor operatives believe they may have it on a new procedural way to force a vote on the legislation. If the major unions avail themselves of this option — and if it pans out legally — this means the Dem threats to turn this into an extended all-out war could come to pass.

    Republicans have tried to protect the law from going before the voters by attaching an appropriation to it; spending bills can’t be overturned by legislative referendum in Michigan. But union operatives think there is another mechanism by which the law can be challenged. According to one good government group’s analysis of the state constitution, there exists the option of the “statutory initiative,” which would be forced by the collecting of signatures equal to at least eight percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election.

    Will unions and Michigan Democrats avail themselves of this options? Eddie Vale, a spokesman for the labor-funded Workers’ Voice, which played a big role in the Ohio and Wisconsin labor wars, tells me it’s being seriously considered. “The Michigan Constitution allows two other ways to let the people decide this issue on the ballot, and whether it’s one of those options or the 2014 Governor’s election itself, Michiganders will be heard loud and clear,” Vale says.

    The idea here is this: If such a tactic can force a vote on the “right to work” law, Governor Snyder will be heading into reelection in 2014 up against a heavily energized union base, a ton of money pumped into the state by national unions — even as there’s a major pro-collective bargaining initiative on the ballot. Of course, if this happens, major money from the right will flow into the state, too.

    Now, to be clear, the major unions may decide against this route — or it may not work. But if they do opt for it, and if it does work, you could see another extended showdown similar to the ones in Wisconsin and Ohio — still another nationally funded clash over the broader fate of organized labor. Stay tuned.


  43. rikyrah says:

    FLOTUS was on Steve Harvey this morning…thanking everyone for coming out to vote …and reminding us that the fight isn’t over. It’s just begun.

  44. rikyrah says:

    NYT: The decline of the middle class in this country has paralleled that of the labor movement, which has been battered by the relentless efforts of business groups and Republicans to drive down wages, boost corporate profits and inflate executive salaries and bonuses. Now that campaign is on the verge of a devastating victory in Michigan, home of the modern labor movement, which could transform the state’s economy for the worse.

    On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to pass a law that would allow workers to avoid paying dues to a union that represents their shop. Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, has reversed an earlier position and said he would sign the law….

    ….. As President Obama said on Monday, “These so-called ‘right-to-work’ laws, they don’t have to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics. What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.”

    Mr. Snyder’s turnabout shocked workers in his state, and Democratic officials have spent the last few days urging him to reconsider and prevent a needless drive to the bottom. By withholding his signature, he can ensure that Michigan remains both the birthplace and the economic foundation of middle-class security.


  45. rikyrah says:

    But … but … weren’t their Truths self-evident?

    What a difference desperation makes.

    Facing years of irrelevancy and idle torment in the philosophical wilderness, American conservatives–the non-officeholding ones, anyway–are discovering that moral imperatives set in political ideologies operating within electoral metamorphoses aren’t quite as imperative or morally compelling as they and their unchanging god of universal truths once thought.

    Divine mistakes have been made, it seems; or at any rate certain natural conservative bugaboos of eternal tradition are scheduled for preternatural modification–namely gay marriage, which the imperiously dandified George Will has now ruled acceptable because of “an emerging consensus” (thank you, George), and even that hellish harpy of a partisan hack Mary Matalin agrees, “because Americans have common sense.”

    But good luck, guys, persuading American conservatism’s Louie Gohmerts and Michele Bachmanns that they should join in your consensual orgy of common sense. Their universal truths are either gerrymandered or of the naturally wacko regional sort–a kind of religious splendor of secular political survival. Apostasy would be, as British Conservative MP David Davies put it yesterday, “barking mad,” since any political celebration of common sense would cost both Tories and conservative American pols a “large number of very loyal activists.”


  46. rikyrah says:

    Keeping the hostages on ice

    The Wall Street Journal editorial board’s capacity for Jacksonian moon-walking in print is truly an awesome quality to behold. Its latest contains so many fast shuffles they might easily be missed by the casual eye, but which at any rate beg for translation. For example, President Obama “is determined to rout [Republicans] on taxes” (i.e., he wishes to honor his campaign pledge, issued a gazillion times on the campaign trail); “The economic evidence is overwhelming” that raising taxes on the top 2 percent is harmful (i.e., the evidence is non-existent); and “[Tenn. GOP senator] Mr. Corker has proposed several specific and laudable entitlement changes, but note how Mr. Obama has declined to support a single one of them in public” (or, just as unspokenly valid, Mr. Obama has proposed several specific and laudable entitlement changes, but note how Mr. Corker has declined to support a single one of them in public).

    Thus the pursuit of truth–WSJ-style.

    But let’s move on, let us move from the WSJ’s rather conventional bamboozlement of its head-nodding readership to the editorial board’s supposedly unique proposal for resolving this tedious cliff-hanging issue


  47. rikyrah says:

    December 10, 2012

    The politics of pure hogwash

    Virtually zero. That’s the chance of any American politician being any more recklessly deceitful than the downhome, aw-shucks Sen. Lindsey Graham, who, today on Fox News, piled in a mere two sentences one contemptible threat on top of three colossal lies:

    We’re not going to raise the debt ceiling, we’re not going to let Obama borrow any more money or any American Congress borrow any more money until we fix this country from becoming Greece. And that requires significant entitlement reform to save Social Security and Medicare from bankruptcy.

    Even microscopic congressional minds can fathom the difference between little old Greece and the world’s largest economy with its own currency, yet the dire comparison is irresistible to Graham’s demagogic, elephantine mouth. As for the federal government borrowing more money–as though such borrowing is conducted on some sort of big-spending liberal whim–someone should remind the SC senator that these are his past debts we’re talking about, which, when incurred, most liberals protested against. Finally, on Social Security and Medicare’s “bankruptcy,” Graham is now up to three of the Washington Post’s Pinocchios.

    Why did I label the odds of outdoing Graham in deliberate deceit as “virtually” zero, rather than absolutely impossible? Because when it comes to spewing folksy, downhome, aw-shucks hogwash, Oklahoma’s Sen. Tom Coburn is a fierce and determined competitor.


  48. rikyrah says:

    RNC review process off to a rough start

    By Steve Benen
    Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:00 AM EST.

    Republicans clearly didn’t have the kind of election cycle they wanted or expected, so it seems wise of the party to go through a detailed process to determine what, exactly, went wrong. But while the idea may be sound, the RNC’s new “Growth and Opportunity Project” isn’t off to a great start

    Republicans raised more than $1 billion for the presidential campaign, blanketed the airwaves with campaign ads, dispatched hundreds of operatives to battleground states, and promised the best get-out-the-vote effort in party history.

    Now, more than a month after Mitt Romney’s loss in the presidential election, the Republican National Committee has formed a team to determine what went wrong. The RNC is calling its official postmortem the Growth and Opportunity Project, and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has picked five party leaders to head up the effort.


  49. rikyrah says:

    Scalia, civil rights, and murder

    By Steve Benen
    Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:35 AM EST

    Last week, the Supreme Court set the stage for a historic moment on American civil rights, agreeing to hear challenges to both the Defense of Marriage Act and to California’s Prop. 8. It will be the justices’ most important foray into the debate over marriage equality, and has the potential to overturn a series of discriminatory laws.

    But while we wait for the judicial process to unfold, it appears one justice’s vote is already pretty obvious.

    Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spoke at Princeton last night, and a student asked why the far-right jurist equates laws banning sodomy with those barring bestiality and murder.

    “I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s effective,” Scalia said, adding that legislative bodies can ban what they believe to be immoral. […]

    “It’s a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the ‘reduction to the absurd,'” Scalia told Hosie of San Francisco during the question-and-answer period. “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”

    The justice added that he wasn’t equating sodomy with murder.

    No, of course not. What could possibly give people that idea?


  50. rikyrah says:

    Obama’s New Southern Manifesto

    Reflections On | Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad |
    December 9, 2012 9:00 pm

    Efforts of the part of the Republican Party to block the possible nomination of United Nations Ambassador, Susan Rice, to replace Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State, have taken an all too familiar turn in American history. Similar to the symbolic actions taken in 1956, when the Supreme Court ordered school desegregation, “With All Deliberate Speed,” the House Republicans…lame duck House Republicans, mind you, have sought to take a meaningless stand in the debate around who will be the next lead diplomat for the United States.

    Ambassador Rice has come under fire for her real-time briefing of the situation in the Benghazi attack of the U.S. Embassy in Libya—that killed four Americans. Rice reported based on the intelligence she had, which Republicans are now calling intentionally false and misleading statements. Up until this point, Susan Rice had been one of the stars of the Obama Administration. She was considered an expert in foreign relations and a competent diplomat. Enough so, that she’s on President Obama’s “short list” for Secretary of State when Secretary Clinton leaves after the 2013 Inauguration.

    By most accounts, she appears to be one of the President’s favorites. Some even call her the top choice. That’s what makes members of Congress a little nervous. Why? We don’t know. All we know is suddenly there’s a Republican block threatening to block her confirmation before she’s even been nominated. It’s like telling the President, “Don’t even think about it.” Now, here’s the kicker…it’s from people who can’t even confirm her. The Senate confirms all Presidential appointments and judicial nominations.

    So, why is the powerless House up in the President’s grill on this? The politics of obstructionism again? Maybe. Another ideological grandstand? Probably. Coded symbolism (racism and sexism)? More than likely? To try to force the President’s hand another direction? Very unlikely. It’s primarily a signal to the Senate and Senator John McCain that they support the criticism of Susan Rice—flawed as it is—so that minority in the Senate won’t feel so alone. The filibuster is coming, but it will be seen as more stonewalling by a few members of the Senate. The House petition just makes the Red Monster look a little bigger, but no more challenging of a hurdle than it actually is. The House has no more authority to block Rice’s confirmation than Congress could reverse the Supreme Court outlawing unconstitutional law.

    Still the Republicans thought it was worth a try, and they sent out the clowns, via a letter from Congressman Jeff Duncan with 97, that’s right, ninety-seven signatures on it. It’s basically a bunch of mis-allegations over what they thought who said what. See the letter here.

    Now the question is, what does it really stand for? Ninety-seven signatures is less than 25% of house members. Is this a Tea Party flex alert? A call to arms for their beleaguered brothers after such a resounding defeat? Or just the Southern Manifesto, revisited?

    The Southern Manifesto was an attempt by Southern Congressmen to block the implementation of Brown v. Board of Education, first by declaring “interposition,” a theory that states rights were supreme in their own sphere of authority and that federal law couldn’t overturn state law or the states rights in the Tenth Amendment if the Constitution remains quite on the question (it can if it violates the Constitution). Or by “nullification,” a theory that the state could “nullify” federal law when they felt that it didn’t either apply to the state or agree with the state. It was a Civil War term that became outdated with the passing of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, still they tried to revive almost 90 years later. One hundred and one congressmen, 99 Dixiecrats and only two Republicans—all from the South, signed the manifesto, calling for the Supreme Court to reverse itself on Brown. When it didn’t, then they called for the impeachment of Chief Justice Earl Warren. It didn’t work, but it fueled the Massive Resistance Movement for ten years until Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The point in the comparison?


  51. rikyrah says:

    Entitlements Scare Tactics

    Posted on December 3, 2012 by James Kwak | 156 Comments

    By James Kwak

    A friend asked me about last week’s WSJ op-ed by Christopher Cox and Bill Archer claiming that the government’s true liabilities exceed $86 trillion—not the $16 trillion national debt that people usually talk about. There’s something to it, but there’s also a huge scary story in there that’s purely meant to frighten people.

    $16 trillion is the amount of Treasury debt outstanding at the moment. The more relevant figure is the amount of debt the federal government owes to people and institutions other than itself. If, for some reason, I lent money to my wife and she promised to pay it back to me, we wouldn’t count that as part of the debt owed by our household. The debt owed to the public is about $10 trillion these days.

    So where do Cox and Archer get $86 trillion? They are counting the present value of future unfunded liabilities. To take one example, if you add up all the money that Medicare Part A is expected to pay out over the next 75 years and figure out how much it would be worth today, you get a total of $21.2 trillion. If you add up all the money that Medicare Part A will bring in from payroll taxes and do the same, you get $15.6 trillion. So to make Medicare Part A balance over seventy-five years, the government would have to have $5.6 trillion that it doesn’t have today. Do the same for all of Medicare and you get a total of $38.6 trillion. This is all from Table V.F2 on page 238 of the latest trustees’ report on the Medicare trust funds. (Cox and Archer, who claim to be citing the same source, have $42.8 trillion in their op-ed; maybe they’re using an infinite time horizon instead of a 75-year timeframe.)

    Now, this is a meaningful exercise. It provides information that isn’t captured in the annual deficit figures and the current national debt, neither of which says anything about how spending and tax revenues are likely to evolve in the future. When we make decisions about taxes and spending, we should consider what we know about the future. In this case, we know that Medicare spending, under current law, is likely to increase faster than tax revenues because of demographic changes and health care inflation.


  52. rikyrah says:

    Obama Approves Health Insurance Marketplaces in 6 States


    Published: December 10, 2012

    The Obama administration gave conditional approval on Monday to health insurance marketplaces being set up by six states led by Democratic governors eager to carry out President Obama’s health care overhaul.

    The six are Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington.

    At the same time, the administration rejected pleas from other states that want to carry out a partial expansion of Medicaid, to cover fewer people than the president and Congress originally intended. Some states want to expand Medicaid to cover childless adults with incomes up to the poverty level, $19,090 for a family of three.

    But Cindy Mann, the top federal Medicaid official, said the federal government would pay the full cost of newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries only if a state raised the threshold to 133 percent of the poverty level — or 138 percent, with an adjustment allowed by federal law. This would guarantee Medicaid coverage for a family of three with income less than or equal to $26,340.

    Matt D. Salo, the executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, which represents state officials, summarized the administration’s position this way: “No partial expansion of Medicaid. No phased-in expansion. It’s all or nothing.”


  53. rikyrah says:


    THANK YOU for this daily Christmas spirit…



    May I have some hot chocolate?

    It’s COLD!!

  54. Ametia says:

    Godd Morning, Everyone :-)

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