Serendipity SOUL | Thursday Open Thread | Hall & Oates Week!

Happy Thrusday, Everyone, Hope y’all are enjoying Hall & Oates week. Where’s the week gone?

Today’s tune is: RICH GIRL!

From David Plouffe

Hello –

Working with the President, Democratic and Republican lawmakers this week came together to approve a bill that prevents a tax hike on the middle class that could have thrown the economy back into recession. President Obama will soon sign this agreement into law.

Right now, it’s critical that we spread the facts about this bipartisan agreement among our friends and in our communities.

Can you forward this message to three people who would benefit from learning more?



David Plouffe
Senior Advisor
The White House


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92 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Thursday Open Thread | Hall & Oates Week!

  1. rikyrah says:

    SENATOR Elizabeth Warren

  2. [wpvideo hYVx9Mvk]

  3. Ametia says:

    Jeh Johnson’s interveiw with Maddow was IMPRESSIVE.

  4. Ametia says:

    Currently reading “Island Beneath the Sea.’ by Isabel Allende
    It’s EPIC.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Black Authors Thrive Through Business of Black Book Clubs

    Over the last 20 years, the channels for discovering new books, especially books by first-time and emerging authors, have shrunk or disappeared. Newspapers and magazines dedicate mere slivers of arts sections to book reviews — if at all. Those papers like the New York Times that do devote more space to book coverage rarely review debut authors. Likewise, bookstores prefer to invite already established, bestselling, or celebrity writers to do readings and signings. That leaves Oprah — and the Queen of Talk has endorsed only 72 books since she started her eponymous book club in 1996, including the two she has recommended since her 2.0 reboot.

    It’s even more difficult for black authors — new and established — to get their books on readers’ radars. As it is, African-American interest books receive a mere fraction of the coverage noted above, and with the closing of more than 100 black-owned independent bookstores in the last 15 years, as well as the shuttering of Black Issues Book Review there are even fewer places for black authors’ work to gain visibility. Mosaic, African Voices, and the new Spook can only review so much. “The last [issue of] Essence covered the same book Oprah covered,” observed Troy Johnson, founder of the African-American Literature Book Club better known as

    In this landscape, black book clubs offer authors a valuable — albeit extremely competitive —promotion and sales channel. “[Book clubs] have advanced far beyond the small get-togethers in someone’s living room,” says Carol Mackey, editor-in-chief of direct-to-consumer book club Black Expressions.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Nov. 15, 2012
    “We had just watched the movie ‘Lincoln’ in the White House theatre with the director, screenwriter and many of the actors attending. Later, the President invited Daniel Day-Lewis upstairs to see the Lincoln Bedroom in the private residence. Here is Day-Lewis, who had just come to life as Abraham Lincoln, viewing the Gettysburg Address.”
    —-Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

  7. Ametia says:

    If a Democrat were to tell John Boehner to go fuck himself, the Republicans would not pay for his contraception.

  8. rikyrah says:

    January 2nd, 2013

    The Strangely Underreported Decline in the Incarceration Rate

    by Keith Humphreys

    I hereby submit my nomination for the most underreported public policy story of the past year: The continuing decline in the number of Americans who are behind bars or on probation/parole. Both the change itself and low level of attention it has garnered are worthy of reflection.

    At the time of President Obama’s inauguration, the incarceration rate in the United States had been rising every single year since the mid 1970s. The relentless growth in the proportion of Americans behind bars had persisted through good economic times and bad, Republican and Democratic Presidents, and countless changes in state and local politics around the country.

    If a public policy trend with that much momentum had even slowed significantly, it would have been merited attention, but something far more remarkable occurred: The incarceration rate and the number of people under correctional supervision (i.e., including people on probation/parole) declined for three years in a row. At the end of 2011, the proportion of people under correctional supervision returned to a level not seen since the end of the Clinton Administration.

    You’d think this would be big news, but it’s gone largely unnoticed. Indeed, if you google on news articles and op-eds about incarceration that have appeared during the Obama Administration, you will find precious few that mention or even seem aware of the change. John Tierney dropped some breadcrumbs in his recent NYT article, which I hope means he will delve into the decline in incarceration as his series of articles on criminal justice progresses. There’s a great deal a good journalist could illuminate for the public, for example which policies and politics are producing the change and how it plays out on the ground.

    Why hasn’t the shrinkage of the correctional population received more attention already? Three forces are likely at play.

    (1) Most of the state, local and federal officials who have helped reduce incarceration are scared to publicly take credit for it. In general, reducing incarceration is a good thing, but probability dictates that in particular cases it will be a horrible thing. At least a handful of the roughly 100,000 fewer people under correctional supervision in 2011 versus 2010 for example will do something extremely violent and high-profile, and no politician wants to risk being in a story headlined “Convict released by thug-loving governor murders nun”.

    (2) Issue advocates, funnily enough, have an interest in downplaying news that the problem they address is lessening. When the Non-Profit Center to Combat X (where X is anything from hate crimes to spitting on the sidewalk) gives a quote to a reporter about their issue, they will virtually always say that things have never been worse/the problem is exploding/the window to act is closing rapidly etc. It’s not that advocates truly want their problem of interest to get worse, but that their fundraising and profile will suffer if the general public knows that the problem they address is declining in severity. Case in point: When the Pulitzer Prize-winning Politifact documented that President Obama has kept his promise to respond to drug addicted non-violent offenders with rehabilitation rather than incarceration, some libertarian drug policy activists went into a panic and publicly attacked Politifact for going off message rather than being happy that the President had made progress on an important issue about which they presumably care deeply.

    (3) “If it bleeds it leads” remains a journalistic norm. Many reporters and editorial writers want to produce sensational, morally outraged stories about how some problem is getting worse all the time with no end in sight. Progress on a long-entrenched social problem bores them, maybe because they think (wrongly, in my opinion) that it bores their readers too.

  9. rikyrah says:

    Sept. 28, 2012
    “A candid portrait of the President during a meeting, juxtaposed with the paintings of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, busts of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Lincoln, and the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s a difficult angle to get because I had to sit in front of the closed Oval Office door and hope that no one would open the door and knock me over.”
    —Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

  10. 10 People We’re Glad Are No Longer Members Of Congress #icymi

  11. rikyrah says:

    Sept. 6, 2012
    “While the President was waiting anxiously backstage before his speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., daughters Malia and Sasha came in to wish him well.”
    —Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

  12. rikyrah says:

    GOP declares tax debate ‘over’

    By Steve Benen
    Thu Jan 3, 2013 12:06 PM EST

    Whether there are negotiations over the debt ceiling or not, there will be bipartisan talks over sequestration cuts and keeping the government’s lights on very soon. For President Obama, there’s no reason the two sides can’t reach a “balanced” compromise.

    Congressional Republican leaders are already insisting that won’t happen. Take a look at this new op-ed from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.):

    Predictably, the President is already claiming that his tax hike on the “rich” isn’t enough. I have news for him: the moment that he and virtually every elected Democrat in Washington signed off on the terms of the current arrangement, it was the last word on taxes. That debate is over

  13. rikyrah says:

    No One Else Wanted to Be Speaker

    by BooMan
    Thu Jan 3rd, 2013 at 01:36:21 PM EST

    Steve Benen makes an observation:

    According to GOP leaders, policymakers need to replace the $1.2 trillion in automatic sequestration cuts with some other, comparable cuts, and need to come up with $1.5 trillion in cuts in order to raise the debt limit. Both will have to happen at around the same time, no later than the end of February, and be independent of the $1 trillion in cuts Obama already accepted during the last debt-ceiling fight in 2011.
    In other words, according to public comments from McConnell and Boehner, Republicans seriously believe President Obama must accept $2.7 trillion in cuts — without raising taxes at all — within the next two months. And if not, there will be an enormous crisis.

    And what is it, exactly, that GOP leaders expect to cut by $2.7 trillion? Oddly enough, they haven’t said, but (a) Republicans apparently anticipate deep cuts to social insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security; and (b) Democrats are supposed to help Republicans come up with the list of cuts.

    This won’t end well.

    Probably the only reason that Speaker Boehner still has his job is that no one else wants it. The president has no intention of even answering the phone when Boehner calls about the debt ceiling. As for sequestration, the president doesn’t have to sign anything he doesn’t want to sign, and he won’t. The Republicans are asking for nearly $3 trillion in cuts. Let them put that in a House bill and try to pass it. It should be very amusing to watch them try.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Feb. 16, 2012
    “Chuck Kennedy made this photograph of women reacting in the Red Room after being surprised by First Lady Michelle Obama during their White House tour.”
    –Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

  15. rikyrah says:

    March 30, 2012
    “We had just arrived aboard the Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn and the President was walking into the White House. I had seen this scene several times but had never been able to quite capture it the way I wanted. Here, finally, arriving at night, I was able to frame him walking into the light of the Diplomatic Reception Room, with the added bonus of his shadow being cast from the television lights off to the left.”
    —Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

    • Ametia says:

      Framing this one. Rik, do you have an Obama scrapbook? I do; and it’s growing trememdously. I literally have BINDERS FULL OF OBAMAS. LOL!

  16. rikyrah says:

    April 18, 2012
    “We were doing an event at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. Before speaking, the President was looking at some of the automobiles and exhibits adjacent to the event, and before I knew what was happening he walked onto the famed Rosa Parks bus. He sat in one of the seats, looking out the window for only a few seconds.”
    —Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

  17. rikyrah says:

    Obama First Since Eisenhower to Win 51% of Vote Twice

    A revised vote count eight weeks after the presidential election finds President Obama nationally won 65.9 million votes — or 51.1% of the vote — against challenger Mitt Romney, who took 60.9 million votes and 47.2% of the total, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

    Obama is the first president to achieve that level of support in two elections since President Dwight D. Eisenhower was re-elected in 1956.

  18. rikyrah says:

    I purchased and read David Corn’s long article about the 47% tape.

    It’s 50 pages.

    For political junkies, we knew most of the stuff in it, but he also goes into deeper detail about the person who did it, and how he got it. It was definitely worth the 99 cents to me.

  19. rikyrah says:

    June 28, 2012
    “Sonya Hebert made this photograph of the First Lady joining African Methodist Episcopal Church bishops for a group prayer at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tenn.”
    —Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert

  20. rikyrah says:

    George Lucas Engaged to DreamWorks Animation Chairman Mellody Hobson
    1:24 PM PST 1/3/2013 by Sophie A. Schillaci

    Just months after selling Lucasfilm Ltd. to Disney, George Lucas is ready for another big change: marriage.

    The Star Wars writer-director is engaged to longtime girlfriend and DreamWorks Animation chairman Mellody Hobson, a rep for Lucasfilm confirms to The Hollywood Reporter. It will be the first marriage for Hobson, 43, and the second for Lucas, 68.

    …“As I start a new chapter in my life, it is gratifying that I have the opportunity to devote more time and resources to philanthropy,” Lucas said at the time.

    It is not yet known when and where Lucas and Hobson, who have dated since 2006, will tie the knot.

  21. & FLOTUS taken at the wedding of Valerie Jarrett's daughter

    Potus and Flotus at the wedding of Valerie Jarrett’s daughter

  22. Glenn Beck says he will fire any of his staff who say “President Obama.”


    Glenn Beck needs to be kicked to the moon…with steel toe boots!

  23. rikyrah says:

    The Importance Of Biden

    Michael Hirsh highlights Joe Biden’s integral role in the Obama administration, wondering if he is the most influential VP in history:

    Over the past four years Biden has insinuated himself into the White House, while seeming hardly to try, in a way that no other vice president in memory has done. He and Obama, both consummate pragmatists though they tend to be liberal in outlook, have achieved something close to a mind meld across a whole range of issues, including foreign policy, the economy, and political strategy. Biden said it outright in his speech during the presidential campaign: “I literally get to be the last guy in the room with the president. That’s our arrangement.” That’s no small thing in a town where power is often measured in minutes of presidential face time.


    But by far the biggest achievement is wielding all this influence while being widely viewed as a joke. And the breadth of his portfolio is pretty amazing:

    Fiscal issues and guns are only a small sampling of this vice president’s portfolio. Back in 2010 it was Biden’s office that, in the main, orchestrated the handover to the Iraqis. It is Biden’s view of Afghanistan that has, bit by bit, come to dominate thinking inside the 2014 withdrawal plan. On financial reform it was Biden who prodded an indecisive Obama to embrace, at long last, Paul Volcker’s idea of barring banks from risky trading, according to Austan Goolsbee, formerly the head of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. The VP also tilted the discussion in favor of a bailout of the Big Three auto companies, according to Jared Bernstein, Biden’s former economic adviser. “I think he made a difference in president’s thinking,” Bernstein said. “He understood the importance of the auto companies to their communities, and throughout the country.”

  24. Ametia says:

    Democratic Leader Pelosi to GOP Colleagues: ‘Take Back Your Party’
    January 02, 2013 6:23 PM

    House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says she has urged Republican colleagues in Congress to “take back your party” from “anti-government ideologues” in their ranks.

    “As I view the Republicans in Congress, I don’t see them as a real reflection of many Republicans in our country,” Pelosi said in an interview Wednesday with NPR’s Steve Inskeep on Capitol Hill. “The Republican Party is the Grand Old Party. It’s made enormous contributions to the success of our country. And it is a party that has embraced its leadership role when it has had the majority or the White House. … While we may argue about the size of government, the Republican Party has not been a party that says, ‘I want to destroy government.’ ”

    In the interview, Pelosi continued:

    Listen here:

  25. Speakership election has begun in the House of Reps. LIVE NOW.


    Popcorn Smiley

  26. 113th Congress sworn in

  27. rikyrah says:

    Casual Observation

    by BooMan
    Thu Jan 3rd, 2013 at 09:31:50 AM EST

    Believe it or not, today the Senate will swear in 20 women, an historic high. Sixteen of those women will be Democrats. They think that their relative lack of testosterone will make the Senate a less confrontational place. I’m not sure if they are being overly optimistic or not, but I am a firm believer that more estrogen in government equals better policy. I base this, in part, on the observation that if this country still restricted the vote to white male property owners, we would be more reviled internationally than South Africa ever was. That is because white male property owners in this country are, as a group, overwhelmingly supportive of the policies of the right-wing of the Republican Party. And if this country was run by the right-wing of the Republican Party, most people in the world would want to crush our country for its unbelievably assholish outlook and behavior.

  28. rikyrah says:

    Krauthammer To O’Reilly: Obama Has Successfully ‘Neutered’ House Republicans

    On his first show of the new year, Bill O’Reilly brought on Charles Krauthammer to take on the last-minute fiscal cliff deal cobbled together by Congress. Krauthammer went after President Obama for rejecting compromise legislation that didn’t have enough spending cuts because he wanted to score political points over the Republican party, and by doing so, Krauthammer said the president successfully “neutered” the Republican-led House.

    Krauthammer said that there is “not a shred of evidence” that the president is interested in cutting any spending, arguing that while Obama said in his address last night that he wanted to cut spending, his language over increasing “investments” indicates he wants to raise spending anyway. O’Reilly wondered why Obama doesn’t understand that the nation’s huge debt would “wreck the currency if not checked,” suggesting the president may just be “ignorant of macroeconomics.”

    Krauthammer placed the blame squarely on Obama’s political ideology and desire to implement social justice through economic policy. O’Reilly admitted he was amazed at how lucky Obama seems to be politically, with both he and Krauthammer saying Obama should be studying economic failures in other nations to avoid the same kind of crisis.

  29. rikyrah says:

    From GN:


    It’s so fascinating; a recurring theme with the far right/PL-fauxgressive contingent is the desire to render President Obama invisible or somehow removed from the political process; it’s just completely bizarre:

    h/t @emokidsloveme:
    Tweeting from some alternate universe –> RT @JRubinBlogger: Time to cut out Obama and make some bipartisan deals

    these mofos just don’t get it.


  30. rikyrah says:

    America’s White Male Republican Evangelical Magical “Thinking” Racist Problem Is ALL of Our Problem

    By Frank Schaeffer

    The American political process is being hijacked by a reckless, whining dangerous gang of psychologically damaged white men who are far right ideologues. I used to be one of them. It’s time to tell the truth about our white male problem.

    NO– not everyone who disagrees with the president is a racist! Not even most people who do are! But the continuous attempt by the far white right in Congress to shut down the government rather than work with our black president has a lot to do with racism. And lurching from manufactured “crisis” to crisis isn’t about politics. It’s about pathology. It doesn’t make sense politically to take the blame for risking our American future – and the Republicans know they will/are taking the blame — so how can we conclude other than something else is going on here?

    I’m not talking about the white young male mass murderers we’re afflicted with carrying assault rifles courtesy of the NRA. I’m talking about the white far right males who hijacked the 112th Congress and are set to destroy the 113th. They have metaphorically done to our country what the killer in Newtown literally did to 20 children. And for the same apparent reason: alienation from the mainstream and retreat to a paranoid delusional fantasy land of — literal — mental impairment.

    This has less to do with politics and more to do with the fear and mental illness that grips a willfully ignorant minority of white males. But the mainstream media is talking about everything but the underlying racial and cultural and mental health issues afflicting the white male minority of far right congressmen holding us all hostage. And the extreme insanity of the right wing rhetoric over the last 4 years, from “birther” to Obama-is-a-Muslim etc., etc., conclusively points to something other than politics.

    The manufactured “crisis” we face are not about economics. These self-inflicted wounds are about a few people’s fear of being marginalized.

  31. Pakistan: U.S. Drone Strikes Kill 13, Including Militant Commander Maulvi Nazir

    PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Two U.S. drone strikes on northwest Pakistan killed a senior Taliban commander who fought American forces in Afghanistan but had a truce with the Pakistani military, intelligence officials said Thursday.

    The commander, Maulvi Nazir, was among nine people killed in a missile strike on a house in the village of Angoor Adda in the South Waziristan tribal region near the border with Afghanistan late Wednesday night, five Pakistani security officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

    At least four people were killed in a separate drone strike on Thursday morning near Mir Ali, the main town of the North Waziristan tribal region.

  32. ThinkProgress‏@thinkprogress

    FACT: The 112th Congress voted 33 times to repeal Obamacare #112thWorstMoments

  33. rikyrah says:

    ‘Cliff’ Deal is a Decent Start for Low-Income Americans

    Greg Kaufmann on January 2, 2013 – 4:16 PM ET

    If you had told me in recent months that on January 2, 2013, we would have unemployment insurance extended for a year, an improved child tax credit and earned income tax credit extended for five years and no cuts to food stamps (SNAP), Medicaid or Social Security—I would have told you that you were out of your mind.

    I understand that the criticism coming from the left about this deal is based largely on where things stand for the next round of negotiations, and also a concern that the deal didn’t raise sufficient revenues to avert substantial cuts down the road. But I’m troubled by the lack of attention being paid to how this deal benefits the more than one in three Americans living below twice the poverty line—earning less than $36,000 annually for a family of three, and the 46 million Americans living below the poverty line (less than $18,000 annually for a family of three).

    I’m reminded today of a politically active homeless woman I spoke with earlier this year, who—although she is disgusted with Republican policies—was even more frustrated with “so-called progressives” (her words) whom she said talk about caring about poor people but fail to sufficiently speak up about their issues, bring them into their advocacy work and address their concerns in an ongoing and substantive way.

    So let’s look at some of the particulars of this deal and how they affect low-income Americans.

  34. Glenn Beck tried to buy Current TV

    Before Al-Jazeera, there was Glenn Beck.

    According to The Wall Street Journal, Glenn Beck’s media company, The Blaze, approached Current Media about a sale last year, but was told in the words of one source that “the legacy of who the network goes to is important to us and we are sensitive to networks not aligned with our point of view.”

    The Blaze “reached out to them to buy it,” a source familiar with the talks told POLITICO. “They would have replaced Current programming with The Blaze programming, but were told on initial calls that [Current] wouldn’t sell to someone they weren’t ideologically in line with.”

    In explaining the reasons for selling to Al-Jazeera, Current co-founder and CEO Joel Hyatt told the Journal that the Qatari-based broadcaster “was founded with the same goals we had for Current,” including “to give voice to those whose voices are not typically heard” and “to speak truth to power.”

    Those familiar with Al-Jazeera English know that it is a straightforward, hard-hitting and thorough news-gathering channel. But critics on the right will no doubt find irony in the fact that Current, which was co-founded by climate change advocate Al Gore, agreed to be bought out by a broadcaster owned by the Qatari government, and therefore funded by oil.

  35. Erica Elliott‏@ericaelliott

    At approximately 12:45 p.m. we will have a manual roll call vote on the election of the Speaker.

  36. ed lazarus says:

    Every morning that I awake to President Obama being reelected is a good morning; the start of a good day! And the realization that it was possible that Romney would be our president is enough to throw my gag reflex into overdrive!
    America dodged a bullet on Nov. 6th., and it is up to us to be sure we NEVER AGAIN allow the republicans to control our government! They are simply unworthy of the honor and the responsibility!
    God bless and protect our president and his beautiful family!

  37. Ametia says:

    January 03, 2013 9:34 AM
    Tear Down Those Tax “Shrines”
    By Ed Kilgore

    In the web-wide effort to identify winners and losers in the “fiscal cliff” battle (with the best answer, IMO, being “nobody knows” until we see how it affects the next, and massively larger, fight), one of the arguments we’ve heard cited most often is that George W. Bush was the big “winner” because his signature tax cuts finally became part of permanent law, not some temporary budget measure. This conceit, in fact, has become a big part of the progressive case that Obama got rolled. Like Republicans rationalizing votes for the tax bill, these progressives are pretending most Americans got the Bush tax cuts all over again, shiny new and fiscally lethal as they were the first time around. And both sides are using the word “enshrined” to refer to the magical effect the vote had on the tax cuts first enacted in 2001.

    Sorry, I don’t buy it. Yes, the tax cuts expired on midnight of December 31, and you can easily make the argument Obama and Democrats didn’t sufficiently use that leverage in the negotiations (e.g., by getting an extension of the payroll tax cut, or some relief for the debt limit hostage the GOP is already tying up). But no, most Americans did not regard what happened as an action to restore, much less enshrine, tax cuts: it was, of course, a selectively applied tax increase, both before and after midnight. The “temporary” nature of the Bush cuts was never an advertised feature that Americans adjusted to and expected, but an inside-baseball trick by Republicans to make the cuts enactable through the budget process via reconciliation.

  38. Ametia says:

    This can’t be posted enough:

  39. rikyrah says:

    The Morning Plum: Media shouldn’t get rolled by GOP debt ceiling spin

    Posted by Greg Sargent on January 3, 2013 at 9:10 am

    The papers are filled with articles reporting in a matter-of-fact way that Republicans plan to use the debt ceiling fight to extract major spending cuts from the White House and Democrats. Mitch McConnell is out there this morning calling for a quick resolution to the standoff — one that exchanges a debt limit hike for deep cuts.

    The early returns, based on the coverage of this looming battle so far, suggest Republicans are successfully defining the terms of this debate — they are defining it as a standard Washington standoff, in which each side will demand concessions from the other. Indeed, you can read through reams of the coverage without learning three basic facts about this fight:

    1) Republican leaders will ultimately agree to raise the debt ceiling, and they know it, because they themselves have previously admitted that not doing so will badly damage the economy.

    2) Because of the above, a hike in the debt ceiling is not something that Democratic leaders want and that Republican leaders don’t. In other words, it is not a typical bargaining chip in negotiations, in the way spending cuts (which Republicans want and Dems don’t) or tax hikes (which Dems want and Republicans don’t) are.

    3) And so, if and when Republicans do agree to raise the debt ceiling, it will not constitute any kind of concession on their part — even though they will continue to portray it as such to demand concessions in return. It will only constitute Republicans agreeing not to damage the whole country, which does not constitute (one hopes) them making a sacrifice.

  40. rikyrah says:

    The Morning Plum: GOP can’t put Tea Party genie back in bottle

    Posted by Greg Sargent on January 2, 2013 at 9:11 am

    By any measure, the fiscal deal that finally passed the House yesterday should have been something House Republicans could have enthusiastically supported. After all, as Jonathan Weisman put it, the bill “locks in virtually all of the Bush-era tax cuts, exempts almost all estates from taxation, and enshrines the former president’s credo that dividends and capital gains should be taxed equally and gently.”

    Yet in order to get this through the House, we had to go through endless drama, histrionics, threats, and theatrics. And in the end, only 85 of 236 House Republicans voted for it — barely more than a third — meaning it passed largely because of Democratic support.

    This perfectly captures what has become of today’s Republican Party. And it doesn’t bode well for the coming debt ceiling battle, or indeed, for key chunks of Obama’s whole second term agenda.

    The story is being widely reported today as proof the GOP finally broke from decades of anti-tax orthodoxy. And that’s true, at least in the sense that Senate Republicans overwhelmingly supported the final deal. But the more important point is that a majority of House Republicans didn’t break from it — despite the action of their Senate counterparts — signaling that literally any kind of compromise with them may simply be impossible.

    This is the inevitable result of the GOP’s collective decision to organize itself for years around the idea that even the tiniest of tax rate increases on the smallest minority of super rich Americans is nothing short of apostasy. If yesterday’s events were such a horrific defeat for the GOP, as many conservatives are telling us, it’s only because Republican leaders have spent months or years drumming it into GOP base voters’ heads that the most modest of tax increases on the very richest among us would constitute a sellout of deeply sacred principles. Remember when every GOP presidential nominee vowed not to accept even a 10 to one ratio of spending cuts to tax increases? Such stuff is not just bombastic primary rhetoric designed to feed the true believers. For many House Republicans, this idea — and the broader refusal to compromise at any cost — seems to have become a deeply held and guiding governing principle.

    What does that tell us about what’s next? Last night Obama reiterated his vow not to negotiate if Republicans hold the debt ceiling hostage. That’s good. But I’m skeptical it will make any difference. Yesterday’s compromise has unleashed total fury among conservatives, and the pressure on Republicans to mount a sustained confrontation over the debt ceiling — and not to back down until they win major entitlement cuts — will be intense. Individual Republicans in safe districts are isolated from the currents of national opinion and have plenty of incentives to continue acting exactly as they are.

  41. rikyrah says:

    Shaking Hands With Obama in the Oval Office

    I felt guilty about meeting him.

    The guy had two full-time jobs: running for reelection and running the country. And yet every month he takes about an hour from his impossibly busy schedule to shake hands, chat briefly and take photos with certain members of the armed forces attached to the White House. It’s one of the perks. They must have served at least one year and must be departing in the next 60 days. Each is allowed one tag-along parent. I won the toss.

    Although we’d been warned that the President’s schedule could change “at a moment’s notice,” and therefore the grip-and-grin might have to be cancelled, ours was slated for 9:45, Tuesday morning, September 18.

    My son and I arrived in the wee hours at the “staging area” — near his base, about an hour from Washington, D. C.

    We’d also been advised that we could enter the White House, with a single “government-issued identification card” — a driver’s license. No camera phones, books, pens, coins. Nothing else.

    Before we boarded the secure bus, officials asked for our identification, checked off our names against a list and eyed our attire. (Parents who show up in shorts and flip-flops are sent home.) I’d been instructed to wear a dark suit. Military uniforms were scrutinized by a flashlight, because it was dark and overcast, as we departed at 7:10.

  42. rikyrah says:

    The middle class languishes as the super-rich thrive

    Washington’s proposed budget solutions are ever more irrelevant to the problems at hand while being more protective of the 1%.

    By Michael Hiltzik
    December 30, 2012

    The good news for the U.S. economy as we enter 2013 is that the election’s over. The bad news is that the election’s over.

    What’s good about it is that both parties in Washington can shed their preoccupation with the campaign theatrics that dominated our long national voyage from pre-primary jockeying through election day.

    Yet the most dispiriting thing about the campaign’s end is that the economic challenges facing the majority of Americans remain unaddressed. As these words are being written, the end-of-year deficit debate in Washington remains largely unresolved.

    UC Berkeley economist J. Bradford DeLong observed last week that we’re not heading toward the fiscal cliff so much as waiting for the “austerity bomb” to detonate. The lighted fuse on that bomb, he computed, has already cut likely growth in real gross domestic product for 2013 to 2.5% from 3%.

    The policy positions on both sides presage smaller government, which is not the right prescription for an economy still struggling to recover. There will be lower federal spending at a time when the government participation in the economy is still crucial; there will be less take-home pay for the middle class and the working class, who pump almost everything they have into the marketplace.

    The disagreement in Washington is no longer whether to cut, but where and by how much; and whether the seemingly inevitable end of the payroll tax holiday for working men and women will be balanced by continuation of their reduced income tax rates.,0,966732.column

  43. rikyrah says:

    Larry O goes off on how the President succeeded despite his ‘allies’.

  44. rikyrah says:

    The cost of those long lines to vote

    By Laura Conaway

    Wed Jan 2, 2013 2:51 PM EST

    Last year, when you folks sent photos of long lines for voting, we wondered in here whether the lines — and coverage of the lines — would suppress turnout. Last week, we got evidence that some people who faced more trouble voting became that much more determined to vote. We also got a sense of how many voters gave up because of the lines: in Central Florida alone, about 49,000. From the Orlando Sentinel:

    About 30,000 of those discouraged voters — most of them in Orange and Osceola counties — likely would have backed Democratic President Barack Obama, according to Theodore Allen, an associate professor of industrial engineering at OSU.

    About 19,000 voters would have likely backed Republican Mitt Romney, Allen said.

    To give you a sense of what it was like to be one of those people who couldn’t make it through the wait, I want to show you the photos sent by the mother of voter in a different part of Florida, starting above and continuing after the jump. (Thank you all again for kickstarting and fueling this story. How to send us stuff.)

  45. rikyrah says:

    Jan. 1, 2012 – Pete Souza: “A nice way to celebrate the New Year for the President was to jump in the ocean in his native state of Hawaii. He was on his annual Christmas vacation with family and friends, and went swimming at Pyramid Rock Beach in Kaneohe Bay.”
    —-White House Photo by Pete Souza

  46. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone! :-)

  47. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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