Wednesday Open Thread

Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), better known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. Ray was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm & blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records.[1][2][3] He also helped racially integrate country and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, most notably with his Modern Sounds albums.[4][5][6] While with ABC, Charles became one of the first African-American musicians to be given artistic control by a mainstream record company.[

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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57 Responses to Wednesday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Tom Joyner ‏@TJMShow

    2morrow morning @Michelle Obama is checking in with us at 7ct/8et with a special message for all TJMS listeners! Be sure to join us

  2. rikyrah says:

    Wednesday, December 12, 2012
    What’s actually on the table

    Do you remember what many progressives did during the negotiations over health care reform? They focused all their attention on the public option while not noticing things like the Medical Loss Ratios (that limited what insurance companies could spend on administration and profits), the largest expansion of Medicaid in the program’s history, the free preventative services that caused so much controversy last year, etc.

    I’m beginning to feel like Yogi Berra with a sense of deja vu all over again. Right now it seems like all the left can talk about is whether or not lowering raising of the age for Medicare eligibility will be part of the deal. Meanwhile it feels to me like we are missing both the forest and the trees.

    When it comes to the trees, it sounds like the one thing President Obama HAS actually put on the table as part of the current negotiations is corporate tax reform. Part of that proposition is likely a reduction in the tax rate for corporations. But the truth is – with a top rate of 39% – the U.S. currently has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. The trouble is…most of the major corporations avoid paying much at all. For example, in 2011, the country’s 10 largest corporations paid an average 9%. And so a potential deal would mean lowering the top rate WHILE closing some of the loopholes that allow the biggest companies to avoid paying their fair share. This is a perfect area for President Obama to exploit the failure of Republicans to get into the weeds and actually work on the details. We should be paying attention to that one.

    Another item that has gone almost unnoticed is that the Obama administration has taken cuts to Medicaid off the table. Given the program’s critical role in Obamacare as well as its impact on the poor and elderly, that is – as VP Biden would say – a BFD.

  3. rikyrah says:

    The GOP’s Debt Ceiling Leverage Delusion

    Wednesday, December 12, 2012 |

    There has been a lot of chatter in Washington about how Republicans are planning to ultimately cave on the tax rates for the top 2% now and use the upcoming need to increase the debt ceiling to force deep cuts in the social safety net. They want a political war with the president next year (since, you know, their previous political wars against this president turned out sooo well).

    Bob Corker, Senator from Tennessee, led off the charge:

    CORKER: The Republicans know they have the debt ceiling, that is coming up around the corner, and, the leverage is going to shift, as soon as we get beyond this issue. The leverage is going to shift, to our side where hopefully we’ll do the same thing we did last time and that is if the president wants to raise the debt limit by $2 trillion we get $2 trillion in spending reduction and, hopefully, this time, it is mostly oriented towards entitlement and with no process. […

    The president has already responded to this, and he did so at a business forum: “I will not play that game,” said the president. Then, everyone’s favorite McCain lackey, Sen. Lindsay Graham, went on TV to say, “we will play that game,” indicating that Republicans in Congress would force the president’s hand.

    Well, I hate to break it to you, Sen. Graham, but it’s not a game you can win. And Sen. Corker, no, the leverage will not “shift” if we get to a debt limit fight next year. There is no there there. A debt ceiling hostage taking won’t work this time. But why not? The House is still in Republican hands, and they can, if they want, not approve a debt limit increase, right? Not really. The Republican strategy is really stupid. The president is poised to take the game off the table not simply because he says so. Not even because Democrats and progressives in Congress are already organizing to back him up fully (I’m glad they learned some lessons). It’s because the GOP’s own strategy has left him with the cards to do just that.

    Let’s see it again, shall we? They want to give the president the middle class tax breaks, and only the middle class tax breaks. That means they are leaving on the table several other things: namely, extended unemployment benefits that will expire, the payroll tax cut that will expire, etc. But that’s just on the middle class side of things. What else are they leaving on the table? The estate tax. On January 1, 2013, the inheritance tax is scheduled to reset to 55% for inheritances over $1 million (it is currently at 35% with a $5 million exemption, and President Obama wants it at 45% with a $3.5 million exemption).

    What else? Capital gains tax rate will go up from 15% to 20%, and all dividends will be taxed as ordinary income. The president’s proposal is to raise the capital gains rate and tax dividends as ordinary income, but only for incomes over $250,000.

  4. rikyrah says:

    December 12, 2012

    Republicans Have Run Out of White Voters
    GOP pollster Whit Ayres and the Hispanic Leadership Network’s Jennifer Korn released a strategy memo saying that Republicans risk becoming a “regional party” if they don’t increase support among Hispanic voters.

    “Mitt Romney won a landslide among white voters, defeating Barack Obama by 59 to 39 percent. In the process he won every large segment of white voters, often by double-digit margins: white men, white women, white Catholics, white Protestants, white old people, white young people. Yet that was not enough to craft a national majority. Republicans have run out of persuadable white voters. For the fifth time in the past six presidential elections, Republicans lost the popular vote. Trying to win a national election by gaining a larger and larger share of a smaller and smaller portion of the electorate is a losing political proposition

  5. rikyrah says:

    Mitchell: Group works to bring attention to Ald. Jackson’s alleged neglect of ward

    BY MARY MITCHELL December 12, 2012 6:52PM

    Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) has got to go.

    That’s the goal of a group that is fed up with crime and mayhem in the ward

    On Wednesday, Jackson squashed reports that she is contemplating resigning even though she spends much of her time in Washington, D.C.

    “I am not resigning. I am here. I am working,” Jackson told reporters. I intend to finish my term unless something catastrophic happens.”

    But some constituents are no longer willing to settle for a commuter alderman.

    A group of South Shore residents have launched the #SackSandi campaign to focus attention on Jackson’s alleged neglect of the ward.

    “If we are quiet, Jackson will think she can do anything,” said Mia Henry, an eight-year ward resident who is leading the effort. “This shouldn’t even be allowable. We have to put her on notice. A lot of people would like to see change.”

    Henry said she doesn’t want to run for office. What she wants is “responsible and accountable” leadership in South Shore.

  6. rikyrah says:

    December 12, 2012 02:00 PM
    Stupid Right-Wing Tweets: Ron Christie Edition
    By Blue Texan

    Atrios was right the other day — wingers have a rage addiction. So here we have Dick Cheney’s cabana boy outraged that Inauguration Day falls on a Sunday this year. That means Obama is being sworn in on January 20th, in a private ceremony, and they’ll be a public ceremony on the 21st. Just like Eisenhower did it.

    The 20th Amendment to the Constitution set January 20th as the official inaugural date. Because January 20, 1957 fell on a Sunday, President Eisenhower took the oath of office for his second term in a private White House ceremony.

    But to be fair to Christie, Eisenhower was a Republican, which obviously makes all the difference.

  7. rikyrah says:

    covers another aspect of PBO’s vision for green energy and environmental policies.

    President Obama and the forgotten urban agenda

    [….] The thumbnail version is this: Under President Obama, key federal agencies have begun to shift away from subsidizing suburban sprawl and toward reviving cities and creating dense, walkable, transit-friendly communities. Obama has put smart-growthers and new urbanists in key positions, begun to realign government agencies to prioritize sustainability, and launched partnerships and initiatives that one Bush administration veteran calls “mind blowing” — in a good way. Even Obama’s allies agree, however, that serious reform may have to wait for a second term.[….]

    Obama’s most farsighted effort — and the one that best illustrates what he’s up against — is the Sustainable Communities Initiative, which brings together the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to decide where government development dollars are best spent. How sensible, you’re thinking — let’s get the people who build the roads (or train lines or bike lanes) together with those that oversee housing and development policy, and toss in the people charged with making sure that we don’t create a mess of the environment in the process. But this wasn’t happening before

  8. rikyrah says:

    Vanessa Williams’ daughter has a new song and video out

  9. rikyrah says:

    ok my reality-tv watchers….

    for this title alone….it should get at least one viewing.

    premiering tonight on Discovery Channel:


  10. rikyrah says:

    Ending the Debt Ceiling Shenanigans

    By John Cole December 12th, 2012


    Whatever House Republicans might think, the White House is all steel when it comes to the debt ceiling. Their position is simple, and it’s typically delivered in the tone of voice that Bruce Willis reserves for talking to terrorists: They’re happy to raise the debt ceiling on their own, as would be the case under their proposal to take authority for the debt ceiling away from Congress. But if Congress rejects that offer, then the debt ceiling is Congress’s problem, and the White House will not help.

    The Obama administration is utterly steadfast on this point: They will not suffer a repeat of 2011, when they conducted negotiations over whether the United States should default. If Republicans go over the cliff and try to open up talks for raising the debt ceiling, the White House will not hold a meeting, they will not return a phone call, they will not look at the e-mails. They will move to an entirely public strategy, rallying voters and the business community against the GOP’s repeated brinksmanship. Recall Obama’s speech to the Business Roundtable last week:

    I want to send a very clear message to people here: We are not going to play that game next year. If Congress in any way suggests that they’re going to tie negotiations to debt ceiling votes and take us to the brink of default once again as part of a budget negotiation — which, by the way, we had never done in our history until we did it last year — I will not play that game. Because we’ve got to break that habit before it starts.

    They’re almost religious about this: They believe they owe it to future generations to break the back of the idea that minority parties can and should play Russian roulette with the economy

  11. rikyrah says:

    Discovery Channel takes viewers behind closed doors in the groundbreaking new series “Amish Mafia.”

    Untrusting of outside law enforcement, some Amish in Lancaster County, PA have for many years regularly turned to a small organized group of men for protection and justice. A sneak peek of Discovery’s new series Amish Mafia, which provides a first-ever look at the men who protect and maintain peace and order within the Amish community in Lancaster, will air Tuesday, December 11 at 10:30 PM ET/PT. The series will premiere Wednesday, December 12 at 9:00PM ET/PT.

    The 2006 School shootings in Lancaster County during which five young Amish girls were killed and five more seriously injured by a non-Amish milk truck driver brought to the nation’s attention the vulnerabilities of the Amish community, and their need for continued protection.

    When you think of the Amish, buggies, bonnets, peace and simplicity come to mind. In the historic Amish settlement of Lancaster, protection and “peace” can come at a price.

    Lebanon Levi is the Amish insider who holds the power and serves as protector of the community for a price. He exists above the law and occupies the role of police, judge and jury. Levi’s team engages in a life outside of Amish and non-Amish community codes as he quietly exerts his influence and control. Levi’s brand of order is precise as he seeks to keep outside forces from infiltrating the Amish community, while keeping the principles and morality within the community in check.

    Levi’s team is lean and fearless. Alvin is Levi’s right hand man and nobody gets to Levi without going through Alvin first. A lifelong friend, Alvin is at first glance an average passive Amish community member. However, he has a dark side, a past, and most importantly, Levi’s complete trust. Alvin will protect Levi at any cost.

    Other group members include Jolin, a Mennonite who serves as Levi’s foot soldier, and John, the youngest member of the group. As a non-Amish member of the group, Jolin has the freedom and ability to carry out punishments of all levels against offenders. John, the junior member of the group, is the son of the late former protector who maintained peace in the community for many years before Levi took power. John struggles with his desire to follow in his father’s footsteps and take Levi’s place as the head of the group.

    This is a side of Amish society that exists under the radar, and the Amish church denies the group’s existence. Amish Mafia provides eyewitness accounts of the incidents, misdeeds and wrongdoings within the Amish community, as well as a rare look at Levi and his team members who work together to maintain harmony. To protect participants and their family members, some identifying information and property has been changed. Some scenes have been reenacted.

  12. Ametia says:

    Well here’s the latest DOMESTIC TERRORIST


    The masked gunman who killed two people in the crowded Clackamas Town Center mall in suburban Portland, Ore., was identified today as Jacob Tyler Roberts.

    Roberts, 22, was armed with a stolen AR-15 semi-automatic weapon, Sheriff Craig Roberts told a news conference today. He was not wearing a bullet-proof vest as previously reported.

    Earlier today the sheriff told “Good Morning America” the gunman was intent on killing “as many people as possible.”

    “At this time we do not understand the motive of this attack except to say no apparent relationship between suspect and victims,” the sheriff said at the news conference.

  13. rikyrah says:

    Liberals warn Obama: We will fight any hike in Medicare age
    Posted by Greg Sargent on December 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    At a recent private caucus meeting among Senate Democrats, someone brought up the persistent media rumors that President Obama might accept raising the Medicare eligibility age as part of a fiscal cliff deal. There was an outpouring of outrage from the Senate’s liberal members, who bluntly told the room that this should be a nonstarter among Dems.

    So recounts Senator Jeff Merkley in an interview with me — underscoring again just how deep the opposition will run among Democrats if a hike in the Medicare age is incorporated into a deal.

    “The overwhelming sense was that this would be absolutely unacceptable,” Merkley told me. Of the President, Merkley added: “I can’t imagine he is seriously considering it.”

    In fact, it is not clear to what degree Obama is considering it. In an interview with ABC News he declined to rule it out, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. However, Merkley said it’s a good idea for liberals to spell out now their feelings on the issue. Speaking of the ABC interview, he said: “If this is a trial balloon, it’s a lead balloon.”

    In the drone of numbers that often accompanies discussion of the fiscal cliff talks, it’s easy to forget that the decisions made in them could directly impact the lives of hundreds of thousand of people — in some cases profoundly. Raising the Medicare age is one area where this is particularly true — and Merkley spelled out the human dimensions of such a decision in a particularly vivid way.

    “I do a lot of town halls,” Merkley said. “I can’t tell you how many times someone will come up to me and say, ‘Here’s the thing. I’m 61, and I have these major health problems. I don’t have insurance. I’m praying I make it to 65.’ The idea that we’re going to take all these folks with diseases setting in as they get older, and move them two years later? Absolutely unacceptable.”

    “We should be lowering the age, not raising it,” Merkley said. Speaking of the president, Merkley added: “I hope he hears long and loud from us who are connected to the real lives of working people.”


  14. rikyrah says:

    Looks like we’re stuck with GOP game playing on debt limit
    Posted by Jamelle Bouie on December 12, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Over the last 24 hours, the White House and House Speaker John Boehner have traded proposals on the fiscal cliff. The most recent one from Obama involves $1.4 trillion in revenue — down from the original $1.6 trillion — and $200 billion more in spending cuts, bringing the total to $600 billion.

    What hasn’t changed, however, is the administration’s original offer on the debt ceiling.

    The mechanism proposed by the president requires him to notify Congress that he needs an increase in the debt limit. The increase wouldn’t need Congressional passage, but Congress could vote to disapprove, which the president could then veto. The country continues to pay its debts, opponents can vote against it, and everyone walks away satisfied.

    Republicans immediately rejected this proposal, despite the fact that it was crafted, originally, by Mitch McConnell. Instead, GOP leaders insist on making the mistakes of last year, and using the debt ceiling as leverage for further spending cuts. CNN reports, for example, that John Boehner has not budged on the debt ceiling, saying that any increase must be matched by equivalent spending cuts. His allies in the Senate agree. Says Lindsey Graham of Obama’s proposal: “That’s going nowhere. He’s not king. He’s president.”

    As opposed to taxes, where Republicans are on the wrong side of opinion, there’s a chance that they could rely on public support in the event of another debt ceiling fight. During last year’s crisis, for instance, a plurality of voters were against raising the ceiling — 42 percent said they opposed an increase, as opposed to the 22 percent who favored one.

  15. rikyrah says:

    The Morning Plum: Don’t raise the Medicare eligibility age, Mr. President
    Posted by Greg Sargent on December 12, 2012 at 9:12 am

    I still think it’s not entirely clear that a hike in the Medicare eligibility age is definitely on the table in the fiscal cliff talks. And I would urge caution — we still don’t know what’s actually being discussed — before prematurely concluding a “cave” on the issue is imminent.

    However, in an interview with ABC News, Obama declined to rule it out. So it’s worth reiterating that raising the Medicare age is a terrible idea. And as I’m sure Obama himself would readily agree, he was not reelected to solve our fiscal problems in part by giving away the Medicare of people who need it.

    Here’s what he told ABC News, when asked about this option:

    “When you look at the evidence, it’s not clear that it actually saves a lot of money,” he said. “But what I’ve said is let’s look at every avenue, because what is true is we need to strengthen Social Security, we need to strengthen Medicare for future generations, the current path is not sustainable because we’ve got an aging population and health care costs are shooting up so quickly.”

    I expect some Congressional Dems will have something to say about this today. Obama has repeatedly indicated he expects to make some kind of sacrifice he and Democrats won’t like in the quest for a fiscal deal, since he sees compromise as a preferable outcome for the country. And it does seem very clear that conservatives will dismiss any entitlement reform that doesn’t harm beneficiaries as insufficient — making it a prerequisite to any deal.

  16. rikyrah says:

    December 11, 2012, 3:33 pm165 Comments

    Delusions of Wisdom

    Both Jonathan Chait and Charles Pierce have a field day with a Politico piece titled, without a hint of irony, Crafting a boom economy. In said piece they talk to various Very Serious People, and divine the insider consensus on What Must Be Done — which mainly seems to involve, naturally, cutting Social Security and Medicare while reducing corporate tax rates.

    What I find remarkable about this piece is that after everything that has happened these past five years or so, Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen still take it for granted that these people actually know what they’re talking about; the whole premise of the article is that the insiders really do have the key, not just to good policy, but to achieving a dramatic rise in the growth rate.

    Now, they don’t tell us everyone they talked to; but I think we can safely assume that, with few exceptions, the insiders in question:

    – Believed that financial deregulation was a great idea, because bankers had really learned to manage risk
    – Did not believe that there was a housing bubble
    – Insisted that budget deficits, even in a depressed economy, would send interest rates soaring any day now
    – Insisted that austerity measures would promote recovery, not hurt it, because of the confidence fairy

    And on and on.

    There are some remarkable economic assertions in here. That great economist Jeb Bush — yes, Jeb Bush — is quoted as declaring that ending structural deficits would boost the growth rate hugely; this would come as news to any economist I know. And, um, aren’t our structural deficits largely the result of his brother’s policies?

    Or take the blithe assertion that trade liberalization and tax reform would do wonders for growth. Again, the answers from people who have actually tried to address these issues seriously and put numbers to them are no and no.

    The whole theme of the Politico piece is that great things would happen if only the insiders could override all this messy democracy stuff. But the real lesson is that those insiders are not only self-dealing, but profoundly ignorant and wrong-headed. It’s too bad that so many journalists still can’t see that.

  17. rikyrah says:

    TPM: As Michigan Republicans pushed their controversial right to work legislation another step forward Tuesday, organized labor’s promise not to go quietly was realized.

    …. labor groups say they’ve found a way to unwind the Michigan Republicans’ attempt to write the law in a way that makes it impossible to be overturned at the ballot box …. A high-ranking labor source told TPM unions are ready to turn Michigan into the next Ohio.

    “If this bill is signed today, it will be Thunderdome for Governor Snyder and Michigan for the next two years,” the official said. “There are multiple options for a referendum, for the voters to have their say on this issue and all options are on the table, the fight is far from over.”

  18. rikyrah says:

    Bernanke stops being polite, starts getting real
    By Steve Benen
    Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:56 PM EST

    Three months ago, the Federal Reserve stepped up with a meaningful economic intervention plan, which was effectively the third round of quantitative easing. Just as important, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke made an “open-ended” commitment, suggesting efforts will simply continue indefinitely until the economy is in a healthier position.

    Most assumed that Bernanke would simply reiterate his support for that policy in his quarterly report this afternoon. Instead, the Fed is actually going much further.

    The Federal Reserve is keeping its foot hard on the economy’s accelerator amid persistent high unemployment that may be sapping the confidence of consumers and businesses.

    The nation’s central bank announced Thursday that it would purchase longer-term Treasury securities to the tune of $45 billion per month to maintain a drive to help accelerate the sluggish economy and boost employment.

    It also, for the first time, set a specific target for how long interest rates would remain at historic lows near zero percent: as long as the unemployment rate, now at around 7.9 percent, remains above 6.5 percent.

  19. rikyrah says:

    The Charlie Brown School of Dance (Peanuts)

  20. rikyrah says:

    A Teaching Moment

    by BooMan
    Wed Dec 12th, 2012 at 09:22:13 AM EST

    It’s interesting that the Obama administration seems totally intent on taking the debt ceiling bomb away from Congress. What I like about that is that it is a lesson for America about how incredibly irresponsible the Republicans were when they caused a downgrade in the nation’s credit rating. I know this is almost infinitely easier to do at the end of his first term than at the beginning, but this is exactly the lesson I wanted America to learn about torturing people and starting wars based on stove-piped intelligence. I also think America could have used a lesson on how criminally greedy the Wall Street assholes were who gave us the housing bubble based on the total destruction of sound mortgage credit. I don’t want to harp on the past, but sometimes it pays to make the effort to define certain behaviors as clearly beyond the pale of all acceptable civilized behavior. We missed some key chances to do that, but I am glad we’re taking the time now to make the point on the debt ceiling.

  21. rikyrah says:

    No Deal is Better Than a Bad Deal

    by BooMan
    Wed Dec 12th, 2012 at 10:45:09 AM EST

    While I can envision a deal that I would find acceptable that might ding Medicare benefits modestly, that’s highly theoretical and certainly not desirable. We would have to get a LOT of goodies in exchange for that, and the damage to actual Medicare recipients would have to almost non-existent for it to work for me. Basically, I’m talking about window-dressing here, just so the Republicans can save enough face to vote for the damn thing. Overall, there is no question that no deal is better than a bad deal. You can sign this petition that says that you will not support any deal that doesn’t increase taxes on the wealthy or that makes cuts to vital programs like Medicare or Social Security. That’s the position that Democracy for America is taking, and it’s the correct position. No one wants to go over the fiscal cliff, but there is no reason to make cuts to entitlements just to avoid it. If you think no deal is better than a bad deal, sign the petition.

    Personally, I still doubt that John Boehner can get the votes for a good deal.

  22. rikyrah says:

    Boehner not budging on tax breaks for wealthy
    By Steve Benen
    Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:39 PM EST.

    They’re nowhere near close.

    After several days of silence in the ongoing fiscal talks, there was a flurry of activity yesterday, with President Obama and House Speaker Boehner not only speaking to one another, but even trading new offers in the hopes of moving closer to a resolution. So, is this evidence of process? Not really.

    For his part, the president is making new concessions, telling the Republican leader he would accept $1.4 trillion in new revenue — down from $1.6 trillion in his previous proposal — and Obama is prepared to take a package that includes $600 billion in spending cuts, which is $200 billion more than the president originally planned.

    But if there were hopes that Boehner would reciprocate in kind, those hopes were soon dashed.

    Two sources familiar with the Obama-Boehner call yesterday described it to NBC News as a “tense” conversation. Amid dueling, new proposals, Boehner proposed a permanent extension of existing tax rates for the wealthy, a Democratic source familiar with the call told NBC’s Kristen Welker.

    Several other news organizations have reported the same thing.

    In other words, with time running out, Boehner’s first offer made no concessions whatsoever. His second offer seeks to permanently lock in lower rates on income above $250,000 — the one thing the president has said cannot be included in any deal.

    It’s almost as if the Speaker isn’t serious about working towards a resolution to the standoff he and his party chose to create.

  23. rikyrah says:

    Jindal’s selective concern for the poor
    By Steve Benen
    Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:36 AM EST.

    Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) school voucher scheme has been plagued by a series of problems, culminating in a legal defeat in a state court two weeks ago. But in a Brookings speech yesterday, the Republican governor said he still sees his plan as a national model.

    “I think there is a moral imperative that it’s not right that only wealthy parents get to decide where their kids go to school,” Jindal told an audience at Washington’s Brookings Institution. […]

    “To oppose school choice is to oppose equal opportunity for poor and disadvantaged students in America,” he said. “What we are putting in motion in Louisiana can be done across the country.”

    This is certainly standard rhetoric from the right. They’re not trying to privatize public schools out of existence, the argument goes, they’re simply trying to use tax dollars to provide new opportunities to “poor and disadvantaged” children.

    There’s always been one part of this argument that bugs me: why does the principle apply solely to education?

    For Jindal, poor and disadvantaged kids should have the same educational opportunities as kids from wealthy families. Fine. There’s ample evidence that vouchers don’t work, but let’s stick to the larger principle. The next question is pretty straightforward: can poor and disadvantaged kids have same access to quality health care as kids from wealthy families? How about the same access to safe and affordable housing? How about nutrition? And transportation? And political influence?


    Jindal and his allies want the public to see them as entirely sincere. They’re not trying to crush teachers’ unions, and they’re not on a privatization crusade, intent on destroying public institutions. They just want to help low-income children, even spending public funds to advance their goal.

    But their purported concern for the poor is literally unbelievable. When the issue is health care and housing, Jindal and other conservatives say struggling families should rely on the free market and their capacity to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. When the issue is education, suddenly the right cares deeply about disadvantaged children and is eager to “help.”

    When Jindal and other school voucher advocates are ready to assist “poor and disadvantaged” families in ways that don’t undermine public schools and teachers’ unions, I’ll gladly revisit the debate. Until then, this looks a lot like a scam.

  24. rikyrah says:

    It’s not just Michigan

    By Laura Conaway
    Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:35 AM EST.

    Now that Michigan’s anti-union laws are on their way to the books, organized labor faces a couple of questions. First, locally in Michigan, whether to take on a statewide initiative to get union rights back, or whether to focus instead of trying to win back control of the legislature and the governorship, or both. Any one of those items would be a challenge. Second, at the national level, there’s the question of whether any states might try to follow Michigan in stripping union rights, the way Michigan followed Indiana. Wisconsin, maybe? Kentucky? Or Ohio?

    Reporters in Ohio asked Republican Governor John Kasich this week whether he had been following the developments in Michigan. I’ll put the transcript after the jump. You can decide for yourself whether this is a “no” as in “no,” or as in Rick Snyder. The video’s from Ohio Capital Blog:

    You might remember Governor Kasich in January warning his party off Right to Work, fresh from a citizens’ repeal of bill to take union rights away from public workers. “Once in a while the shark eats you, OK?” Kasich said.

    If Kasich sounds a tad cautious still, that might be because his governorship is one of six that the AFL-CIO intends to contest over the next couple of years. The list is: Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — all states won by President Obama in 2012, but, except for Nevada, with Republican governance. At stake is whether labor claws back some power, or whether Republicans have a broad mandate in the states for anti-union economic policy designed to weaken their main political opponents. (H/t Tricia McKinney)

  25. rikyrah says:

    Virginia GOP eyes electoral-vote scheme
    By Steve Benen

    Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:11 AM EST.

    We talked last week about Republican officials in Pennsylvania who want to change the way the state allocates electoral votes in presidential elections — instead of a winner-take-all system, used by nearly every state, GOP officials in the Keystone State would apportion electoral votes by congressional district.

    It’s a horrible idea, crafted by partisans who want to rig elections in Republicans’ favor, and apparently, it’s spreading. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) wants this on the table in the Buckeye State, and it’s been raised in Virginia, too

    Virginia State Senator Charles “Bill” Carrico Sr. (R) has become the latest swing state-Republican to propose a scheme to rig presidential elections for future Republican candidates. Blue Virginia reports his proposed SB 723 would award the state’s electors based on which candidate gets the majority of votes in each gerrymandered Congressional district — rather than based on who gets the most votes statewide. […]

    With a Republican-controlled redistricting passed earlier this year, Virginia Democrats were heavily packed into three districts. Under these maps, Obama won Virginia by almost a 4 point margin, yet he carried just four Virginia Congressional Districts. Were Carrico’s scheme in place, Mitt Romney would have received seven of Virginia’s 11 electoral votes despite receiving just 47.28% of the vote statewide.

    Others, including John Putnam and Jonathan Bernstein, have explained in detail why the approach is so deeply flawed, but there’s another angle to this that stands out for me: Republicans must be really worried about Virginia’s partisan future.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Public rejects Boehner in fiscal fight

    By Steve Benen
    Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:31 AM EST.

    What House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is selling, the public isn’t buying. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that most Americans approve of President Obama’s handling of the ongoing fiscal talks, but the same cannot be said of the nation’s most powerful Republican.

    Oddly enough, part of the Speaker’s trouble comes from his own party. While Obama enjoys overwhelming support from Democrats, only 39% of Republicans endorse Boehner’s handling of the debt-reduction talks. Those who identify as “very conservative” approve of the Speaker’s efforts, but self-described “moderates” and those who are “somewhat conservative” do not.

    It reinforces the larger perception that Boehner has impressed his base — and no one else.

    Making matters slightly worse, for the House Republican leader, a new Bloomberg National Poll shows Obama’s approval rating reaching a three-year high, majorities of about 2-to-1 see the election results as a mandate to protect Social Security and Medicare benefits from GOP cuts, and nearly half of Republican voters agree that the president’s re-election serves as an endorsement to raise tax rates on income above $250,000.

    It’s hard to say how much public pressure sways GOP leaders, but if the mainstream’s attitudes matter at all, it’s clear Republican arguments have failed spectacularly to persuade most of the country.

  27. Ametia says:

    I see we have ANOTHER DOMESTIC TERRORIST shooting up folks in OREGON


    Dec. 12, 2012
    A masked gunman who opened fire in the crowded Clackamas Town Center mall in suburban Portland, Ore., killing two individuals and seriously injuring a third before killing himself, has been identified by police, though they have not yet released his name.
    The shooter, wearing a white hockey mask, black clothing, and a bullet proof vest, tore through the mall around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, entering through a Macy’s store and proceeding to the food court and public areas spraying bullets, according to witness reports.
    “We have been able to identify the shooter over last night,” Sheriff Craig Roberts told “Good Morning America” today. “At this point in time, because of the investigation, we’re actually doing supplemental search warrants, we’re not able to release the name of the individual at point in time for the reason being that we don’t want to jeopardize the investigation.”
    Police have not released the names of the two deceased. Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department Lt. James Rhodes said authorities are in the process of notifying victims’ families.
    The injured victim has been transported to a local hospital, according to Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts.

  28. rikyrah says:

    A cliff, an abyss, known knowns, and a bit of confusion

    CNN Politics reports that “top congressional Republicans called Tuesday for Obama to make public the specific spending cuts he will offer in a deficit reduction deal,” which is just peachy, except, as Matthew Yglesias notes, “the White House has already done this in both their FY 2013 budget request and their initial memo on the fiscal cliff,” all of which shows us just how serious those top congressional Republicans are.

    I like the CNN story, though, which is headlined less as news than as a comment on the right’s chronically depraved psychological condition: “Angry with Obama, GOP threatens political war next year.”

    That would be a reference, of course, to the next upcoming crisis of partisan-madmen predictability: yet another debt-ceiling calamity. We all expect it, we know it’s coming, just as sure as God made little red madmen, although I missed this situation-awareness-detached, thus ever so slightly hopeful observation from Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen:

    Threatening to tank the entire economy, which is what would happen if we ever defaulted on our debt, is not a kind of negotiating strategy that is going to be popular with the American people.

    Your point being, Congressman?

  29. rikyrah says:

    Judge rules Cory Booker did not have authority to vote for open Newark council seat

    David Giambusso/The Star-Ledger

    Posted: 12/11/2012 11:37 AM

    NEWARK —Judge Dennis Carey III probably knows all about how Newarkers live and breathe their politics. But if he didn’t, he got a learning moment today.

    After an hour of reading over musty statutes and debating which clauses superseded which subsections, Carey issued the words that mattered most to the packed chamber inside Newark’s opulent historic courthouse: “I am going to rule in favor of the Baraka plaintiffs.”

    With that, the crowd was on its feet in a cheer that shook the stately old chamber. Carey, taken aback, said if there was another outburst he would clear the room. Everyone stayed quiet, but when the door to the judge’s chambers shut, the crowd erupted again.

    The hearing stemmed from a near-riotous meeting three weeks ago over a council vacancy. The court had to decide whether Mayor Cory Booker had the power to vote for Shanique Davis Speight, and give her the five votes needed to join the City Council.

  30. rikyrah says:

    December 11, 2012

    Yet more evidence that the right is never wrong

    Absolutely. Let us revel in the right’s unabridged Second Amendment freedoms. Should one or two citizens suffer the lethal consequences of Wayne LaPierre’s stiff-rodded righteousness, well, so be it. The cost of liberty.

    And absolutely, let’s delight in the right’s wreckage of America’s state cradle of organized labor. Should wages plunge and employers profit even more, well, so be it. The cost of liberty.

    And, of course, absolutely, let us pray that the right’s indefatigable defense of the plutocracy’s bargain-basement tax bill in fact never tires. Should certain social guarantees for the elderly and disabled go the way of the dodo, well, so be it. The cost of liberty.

    And absolutely, needless to add, let us salute the right’s celebration of general ignorance, its rugged allegiance to white-male superiority, its tolerance of that silly half, its noble indulgence of the colored lessers, its undying attempts to limit the reckless franchise, its finer appreciation of women’s medical needs, its religious devotion often mistaken for Tartuffean hypocrisy, its sage definitions of “valid” love and marriage, its tough-minded suppression of scientific hubris, its undermining of socialistic education, its happy refusal to concede strangely modern and empirical economics–just a few of the many costs, nay, benefits, of right-wing liberty.

    Isn’t it grand? The right is just too goddamn good to us.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Corporate ‘job creators’ reject GOP antics
    By Steve Benen
    Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:40 AM EST.

    The Business Roundtable is not known for its moderation or sympathy towards Democratic economic ideas. On the contrary, the organization represents the chief executives of many of the nation’s largest companies, and has a reputation in D.C. for being a reliable Republican ally, especially on issues related to taxes, spending, and fiscal responsibility.

    It’s what made yesterday’s developments that much more noteworthy

    The Business Roundtable, a group of the nation’s top CEOs, Tuesday urged lawmakers to consider raising taxes to avert the fiscal cliff, a shift for business leaders who had previously said they wanted all tax cuts extended for one year.

    “We urge you to step forward and demonstrate that principled compromise is once again possible and that the American political system that underpinned the economic success of our nation and others can function as designed,” the group said in a letter to House and Senate leaders. A similar letter was also sent to the White House. The chief executives of Boeing Co., Dow Chemical Co., American Express Co. and other large businesses signed the letters. […]

    On Tuesday, Honeywell International Inc. Chief Executive David Cote explained the Roundtable’s change of heart: “We think that compromise and showing our ability to govern is more important than sticking to any particular ideological view.”

  32. Jenna Bush Hager: ‘I’m pregnant!’

    The next generation of the Bush family will arrive in 2013.

    TODAY correspondent Jenna Bush Hager is pregnant with her first child! Bush Hager announced on TODAY Wednesday that she and husband Henry Hager will become parents next year, four years after tying the knot.

    Jenna, who got married in May of 2008 at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, has said her parents are eager for her to start a family. Until recently, however, her parenting plans were limited to pets.”I’m fired up,” her dad, former president Bush, said on a phone call to the show. And Jenna’s mom, former first lady Laura Bush, said, “I’m thrilled.” “It’s a springtime baby,” said Jenna, who admitted she was “nervous and excited” to let the world know.

    “I just have a cat, to my parents’ dismay,” the 31-year-old told People magazine last year. “My dad saw my husband’s boss at a conference, and he said to stop paying my husband until we produce children.”

    Her famous father has made no secret of his desire to be a grandfather, telling AARP magazine in 2010, “I’m a little disappointed it hasn’t happened yet.”

    On the phone call Wednesday, Matt Lauer asked the former president what he’d like his new grandchild to call him, as Jenna suggested “Popsicle.”

  33. rikyrah says:

    Killing Medicare By Pretending to Save It

    Posted on 12/12/2012 at 7:18 am by Bob Cesca

    My Wednesday column:

    Here’s precisely why raising the Medicare eligibility age appears to be the only solution to keeping the program solvent: the Republican Party, which hates Medicare and always has, and the compliant DC news media, which self-consciously dittos the Republicans so as to not appear too “liberal,” say so.

    And so it is.

    But I probably don’t need to tell you that it’s really, really flipping stupid — times a thousand. And it’s simply designed to sabotage Medicare and the broader healthcare system.

    During election campaigns the Republicans invariably pretend to be in love with Medicare, as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan reminded us this year by turning the Affordable Care Act’s Medicare savings into a cudgel to flog the president and the Democrats as enemies of the program when in fact the opposite is true in nearly every way. Not only did Romney inject the $700 billion savings into the discourse as a campaign issue, it practically became a centerpiece of his campaign — not to mention one of his biggest lies. And now the same Republicans who joined Romney in this line of attack are insisting that Medicare be one of the programs on the fiscal cliff chopping block.

    The idea is a familiar one. They want to raise the eligibility age from 65 to 67, and they’re receiving hearty endorsements from the cynical, nearsighted and compliant DC press.

    • rikyrah says:

      for all you old mofos who voted GOP….

      kiss my young ass for being so damn stupid.

      we told you what they wanted…

      but… couldn’t get pass the BLACK MAN AS PRESIDENT.

  34. Ametia says:

    Ravi Shankar, Grammy-winning Indian sitar virtuoso, dies at 92

    By Robert Thomason, Published: December 11

    Ravi Shankar, the Grammy Award-winning Indian sitar virtuoso who became the world’s leading representative of South Asian music, exerted a major influence on popular music in the 1960s and was the father of the jazz-pop musician Norah Jones, died Tuesday. He was 92.

    Stuart Wolferman, a spokesman for Mr. Shankar, said he died at a hospital near his home in Encinitas, Calif. The cause of death was not immediately available.

  35. Disco queen Donna Summer named to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

    Disco queen Donna Summer, who died in May, is to join the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with Canadian rockers Rush and hip-hop pioneers Public Enemy, it was announced Tuesday.

    Veteran female rockers Heart, blues legend Albert King and singer-songwriter Randy Newman will also join the music pantheon, while producers Lou Adler and Quincy Jones will receive the Ahmet Ertegun Award, given to non-performers.

    “This year’s class of inductees … again represents the broad, compelling and significant definition of rock and roll,” said Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation boss Joel Peresman.

  36. MSNBC Anchors laugh as Michigan Governor claims union-busting is good for workers

  37. rikyrah says:

    Holder slams voting restrictions, suggests reforms

    By Steve Benen
    Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:59 AM EST

    There was a widely held fear after Election Day that systemic voting restrictions would soon be forgotten. The outrage over voter-suppression tactics was real — unnecessary voter-ID laws, closed early voting windows, ridiculously long lines and waiting times — but once the election came and went, would the political world’s short attention span forget the fiascos?

    Fortunately, no — or at least, not yet. Several Democratic members of Congress have already unveiled modest-but-helpful election reforms, and in the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder continues to take the issue very seriously.

    In a speech at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Holder slammed “our antiquated registration system” as the “single largest barrier” to American voters, specifically criticizing long voting lines and complicated registration rules during the 2012 election.

    Holder suggested an “automatic, portable” registration system that allows election officials to use government databases to register voters automatically and keep their registration current when they move. He also said reforms could include longer voting hours and weekend voting, same-day registration and a new method of redistricting “that can’t be abused to protect incumbents and undercut electoral competition.”


    Over the last two years, Republicans imposed the most sweeping voting restrictions since the Jim Crow era, and though the tactics failed to produce the electoral results they wanted, the GOP’s efforts made it more difficult for many Americans to participate in their own democracy. Indeed, looking ahead, many Republican officials still hope to make matters worse, as we’ll discuss in more detail a little later this morning.

    It’s why it’s heartening for the Attorney General to keep the issue on the front burner — the more attention this gets, the better.

  38. rikyrah says:

    To Save His Second Term, Obama Must Go Over the Fiscal Cliff

    Noam Scheiber

    December 10, 2012 | 10:54 pm

    The standard line on Barack Obama’s fiscal-cliff dilemma is that tactical considerations (i.e., how to get the best deal) recommend jumping over the edge, while strategic considerations (i.e., how to have the most successful presidency) recommend striking a deal. When it comes to tactics, after all, there’s no point in compromising with the GOP in order to raise tax rates below their Clinton-era levels, at least not when simply waiting until January 1 will restore them entirely, no concessions required. On the other hand, doing so could trigger a recession that derails Obama’s agenda. As Major Garrett of the National Journal put it a few weeks ago: “President Obama … has no hope of a second-term legacy of immigration reform, tax reform, or climate-change legislation (if he even wants it) if he drives the nation off the cliff. No one will follow Obama back out of the recessionary wilderness.”

    There is plenty to be said for this argument—president’s don’t normally find it easier to govern during a recession, of course. But as the fiscal cliff negotiations play out, it’s increasingly proving to be wrong. At this point, both tactical and strategic considerations point toward the necessity of taking the plunge.

    Simply put: The biggest threat to Barack Obama’s second-term agenda isn’t the economy. It’s the mania that has yet to loosen its grip on congressional Republicans, even after they lost seats in both houses and watched Obama roll to a comfortable re-election. To see this, look no further than the party’s internal discussions over its own fiscal-cliff positioning. The current debate within the GOP is between those who see that Obama has all the leverage in this particular episode and urge a quick deal on tax rates so the party can regroup for a bigger victory on entitlements, and those who still refuse to budge in any way on tax rates. Which is to say, it’s a debate between the moderately delusional and the utterly, irreconcilably delusional.

  39. rikyrah says: Would Like Black People And CNN To Please Shut Up About Being Black
    by Tommy Christopher | 6:17 pm, December 11th, 2012

    CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien recently premiered the fifth installment in her “Black In America” documentary series, an examination of the issue of “colorism” that asked the question “Who is black in America?”

    The provocative program has stirred thoughtful reaction from the folks at, who were so moved by the stirring, poetically-expressed experiences of 17 year-old Kai Davis, 16 year-old Hiwot Adilow, and 18 year-old Teila Allmond that they would like them to please stop appearing on CNN to silence opposition to the Obama agenda. Huh? Chief Black Menace Correspondent Ben Shapiro has moved on from attacking deceased pioneering black college professors to attacking living black teenage girls, who are pushing the notion that “being black is largely about experiencing racism from whites” because they recited some slam poetry (while “Standing on a dark stage”) about their own experiences occupying the “light-skinned” strata of America’s black experience:

  40. Happy 12 12 12 everyone!

    12 12 12

  41. Fired From TV for Explaining Black Hair?
    The meteorologist was let go after responding to a viewer’s racist remarks about her Afro.

    Meteorologist Responded to Critic of Her Short Afro

    A black female meteorologist has been fired from the ABC affiliate in Shreveport, La., she told Journal-isms, because she responded to a racial remark posted by a viewer on the station’s Facebook page.

    KTBS-TV’s action against Rhonda Lee followed a previous response by Lee to a viewer who questioned whether she should wear her short Afro, suggesting she put on a wig or grow more hair.

    Lee messaged Journal-isms on Saturday, “I had a meeting with my ND [news director] and GM [general manager] Friday trying to get my job back. 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.

    “The week I was brought in to discuss [the] last post, I was told by my ND that there were a few unclear things in the policy and that we were going to have a meeting with George Sirven, the GM about it. I was instead fired the next week — no discussion had. Sirven claims that even if a policy isn’t on paper we as employees are responsible for abiding by them. There isn’t anything in our employee manual talking about social media dos and don’ts. I was accountable for a rule that essentially isn’t in existence.”

    Sirven told Journal-isms by email, “We do not comment on personnel issues out of respect for the employee and the station.”

    Lee provided Journal-isms with copies of the relevant Facebook postings to the station’s website.

    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.

  42. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone at 3CHICS!

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