Monday Open Thread

Happy Monday, Everyone! Make it a great week.

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63 Responses to Monday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Young people like medical coverage, too

    By Steve Benen

    Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:47 PM EST

    BuzzFeed Ben Smith published a much-discussed piece today with a story on health care that falls right in Ben’s wheelhouse. The provocative headline is intended to drive clicks: “Obama Prepares To Screw His Base.”

    Well, the president must have done something pretty shocking to generate a headline like that one, right? Maybe there’s some massive giveaway planned for the State of the Union? Perhaps the White House intends to trade away some important progressive priority? No, in this case, Ben Smith thinks President Obama is “screwing” his base through the Affordable Care Act.

    President Obama’s enemies often accuse him, in the starkest political terms, of crudely acting to shift resources toward his political base: green-energy donors, single women, Latinos, African-Americans.

    But the next 12 months are likely to reveal the opposite. Imminent elements of Obama’s grandest policy move, the health-care overhaul known as ObamaCare, are calculated to screw his most passionate supporters and to transfer wealth to his worst enemies.

    It’s well documented that Obama has thrived politically thanks to the support of younger voters, but as Smith sees it, the administration’s signature domestic policy punishes those same voters due to a nefarious scourge known as … actuarial science.

    Just at the surface, the BuzzFeed charge may itself seem strange. After all, the Affordable Care Act allows young adults to stay on their family health care plans through until 26 — one of Obamacare’s most popular features. Indeed, the only segment of the adult population in which the rate of uninsured is falling is 18 to 25 year olds. It’s the same law that covers preventive care — including contraception — without a copay, which appears to be of some interest to young adults.

    If the president intends to “screw” this part of his base, he has a funny way of showing it.

    But just below the surface, Smith’s charge is not without a substantive policy foundation. Indeed, it’s one that’s been explored at length, many, many times, over the last several years.

    The biggest beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act — which is to say, those who’ll get the biggest bang for their health care buck — are those who are most likely to need medical care that they might otherwise be unable to afford. But the further we get from the needlessly inflammatory, please-Drudge-link-to-me BuzzFeed headline, the less outrageous the Obamacare policy is.

  2. rikyrah says:

    Rubio, Paul to deliver competing SOTU responses

    By Steve Benen

    Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:41 AM EST.

    Last week, Republican leaders announced that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) would deliver the party’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. There’s a bit of a risk associated with the move — these SOTU responses rarely provide a career boost — but Republicans seemed excited to have their “rising star” take center stage.

    But late on Friday, we learned there will be more than one Republican response

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will deliver a “Tea Party Response” to the State of the Union on Tuesday, immediately after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) delivers the official Republican response.

    Tea Party Express, a political action committee, announced Friday afternoon that Paul will deliver the rebuttal at the National Press Club and that it will stream it live on its website.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Michelle Obama hosting ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ discussion
    2/11/13 4:35 PM EST

    First lady Michelle Obama will welcome 80 middle and high school students to the White House Wednesday for an interactive workshop featuring cast and crew from “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

    As part of the workshop, Rachel Goslins, executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, will moderate a discussion in the State Dining Room about “the film, its production, and the inspirational themes within it that students can apply to their own lives,” the White House said in an announcement.

    “Featured members of the cast and crew, including Quvenzhané Wallis, will share their experiences as well as answer student questions.”

    Students selected to attend are from Washington and New Orleans, where the Oscar-nominated film is set.

  4. rikyrah says:

    102-year-old Florida woman who waited hours to vote to join Michelle Obama for State of the Union
    by Dara Kam | February 11th, 2013

    A 102-year-old Florida woman who waited more than three hours to vote before casting her ballot in North Miami will join First Lady Michelle Obama at President Obama’s state of the union address tomorrow night, highlighting his pledge to do something about the problems last fall that again cast an unwelcome spotlight on Florida elections.

    Desiline Victor, a Haitian-born U.S. citizen and former Belle Glade farm worker, waited three hours to vote on Oct. 28 at a public library.

    According to Advancement Project, the civil rights group that has worked with Victor and is bringing her to Washington, Victor waited in line for three hours at a Miami-Dade County public library on Oct. 28. After others standing in line with the elderly woman complained to Miami-Dade County election staff, she was told to come back later in the day when there wouldn’t be as long to wait and more Creole language assistance would be available. She cast her ballot later on her return trip to the early voting site.

    “We know that thousands of American citizens were kept from casting their ballots because of long lines and other unacceptable barriers. In a democracy, we have a responsibility to keep voting free, fair and accessible with equal access to the ballot for all. These problems could be fixed with federal voting standards that include early voting, modernized registration and other measures that protect our right to vote. Currently, we have 13,000 different jurisdictions who run elections 13000 different ways,” said Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of Advancement Project.

  5. rikyrah says:

    ¿GOP en Español? Not So Fast

    While the House Republican Conference tries to court some voters in Spanish, some of their own are fighting the effort.

    By Ben Terris

    Updated: February 11, 2013 | 5:33 p.m.
    February 11, 2013 | 2:52 p.m.

    One challenge facing Republican outreach to Hispanic voters is that the party is not speaking their language — and not just metaphorically.

    In an effort to address the communications gap, the House Republican Conference had planned last week to launch GOP en Español, which would translate and distribute Republican reactions to the State of the Union speech in Spanish. But not everyone was on board.

    Staffers working for two Congressmen, English-only hardliner Rep. Steve King of Iowa and Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, were invited to discuss the program. King’s team argued that the new program sent mixed signals about the importance of English in the United States. In an effort to build consensus, the conference decided to delay the announcement.

    “There’s a conflicting message that comes out from the Republicans if we want to recognize the unifying power of English, and meanwhile, we send out communications in multiple languages,” King said in an interview with National Journal. “Official business and documents needs to be in English.”

    The resistance behind closed doors contrasts with the public posture taken by most Republican Party leaders since seven out of 10 Hispanic voters rejected Mitt Romney in the 2012 election, and may give the party more reasons to worry about King’s possible run for the soon-to-be-open Senate seat in Iowa. Already, the Karl Rove-backed super PAC American Crossroads has launched the Conservative Victory Project to help quash primary candidates it views as outside the mainstream and destined to lose a general election. Since he is often seen on the fringe of the party, King could be a target if he runs for the seat left vacant by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin.

    After inquiries from National Journal about the GOP en Espanol program’s postponement, a spokesman for the House Republican Conference, Nate Hodson, denied it was ever in the works. Later, Hodson said the program was limited to a Twitter handle.

  6. Ametia says:

    After Threatening the President’s Life, Ted Nugent Rewarded with Ticket to the State of the Union
    SUBMITTED BY Brian Tashman on Monday, 2/11/2013 2:50 pm

    exas Republican congressman Steve Stockman announced today that he is “excited to have a patriot like Ted Nugent joining me in the House Chamber” during President Obama’s State of the Union, once again confirming Stockman’s position as one of the most far-right members of Congress.

    Nugent in the past has threatened to kill President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

    “I was in Chicago and I said hey Obama, you might want to suck on one of these you punk; Obama, he’s a piece of shit, and I told him to suck on my machine gun,” Nugent screamed during a concert while brandishing two machine guns, “Then I was in New York and I said, ‘Hey Hillary you might want to ride one of these into the sunset you worthless bitch…. Then I was out in California and I thought, Barbara Boxer, she might want to suck on my machine gun, hey Dianne Feinstein ride one of these you worthless whore.”

  7. rikyrah says:

    found this in the comments elsewhere about the Pope’s resignation:

    The Pope resigns shortly after he’s burgled by his butler who he then pardons. Maybe it’s cuz I watched Mea Maxima Culpa last night but I simply cannot believe someone isn’t forcing him to do this as penance for something he covered up. There is some Godfather III stuff goin’ on here.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Mother Of Slain Chicago Teen To Attend State Of The Union Address

    Cleopatra Pendleton, mother of slain Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton, will be Michelle Obama’s guest at the State of the Union on Tuesday.

    Pendleton was part of the King Collage Prep High School band that performed at several inaugural events in Washington. The First Lady attended Pendleton’s funeral on Saturday.

    Another mother, Carolyn Murray, who lost her 19-year-old son to a shooting, will also attend the speech as the guest of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). Murray began “a community gun buyback program” in response to her son’s death.

    President Obama is expected to call on Congress to adopt his comprehensive proposal to reduce gun violence. Democratic lawmakers have already introduced various measures to ban military-style weapons and a bipartisan group of lawmakers are working on legislation to expand background checks to all gun purchases and crackdown on gun trafficking.

  9. Ametia says:

    President Obama to do post-speech hangout on Google+ #thecircuit
    By Hayley Tsukayama

    Obama hangout: President Obama will take to Google+ two days after his State of the Union address to conduct a video hangout. Anyone will be able to submit video or text questions to him online ahead of the chat, which will take place at 4:50 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.

    Other participants in the hangout have not been announced, but Google’s politics lead for the social network, Ramya Raghavan, said in a company blog post that the event will be similar to the gun violence hangout hosted by Vice President Biden. At that hangout, leading journalists and thinkers on the issue of gun violence were invited to discuss those issues with the vice president.

  10. Ametia says:

    Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes Accuses Obama of Fomenting Hate
    by Howard Kurtz Feb 11, 2013 12:01 AM EST

    The Fox News chairman says the president pits blacks against whites, middle class against rich. Howard Kurtz on how Ailes undercut his largely positive message in a New Republic interview

    Roger Ailes says President Obama is whipping up hate.

    The Fox News chairman has never been a fan of the president, but even by his standards, those are strikingly harsh words.

  11. Ametia says:

    Source: Independent

    Comedienne Sarah Silverman’s sister arrested at Western Wall in Jerusalem for wearing male prayer shawl
    Alistair Dawber
    Monday 11 February 2013

    The sister of comedian Sarah Silverman was arrested at Jerusalem’s Western Wall today for wearing a male prayer shawl during an attempt by women to pray at Judaism’s holiest site.

    Rabbi Susan Silverman – a member of the liberal Reform movement – and her daughter Hallel, were detained by police for wearing a blue and white tallitot, a shawl reserved only for orthodox men. Rabbi Silverman belongs to ‘Women of the Wall’ – a group that visits the site each month wearing traditionally male religious garb. Yesterday as many as 300 people gathered at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, to protest at the orthodox control of the site.

    The issue of women praying at the Western Wall is fraught. Only a small section of the ancient site is reserved for women, with the rest given over to male worship. Before last month’s general election, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would consider ways of making the situation more equitable, despite a 2003 Supreme Court decision that upheld the divide.


    The police confirmed that the arrests of 10 women were connected to the wearing of “male style” tallitot. The monthly prayer sessions are usually highly charged, and often there are arrests.

    Read more:

  12. Ametia says:

    For Shame, Wealthy America: Some Facts About the Victims of Your Greed

    By Paul Buchheit

    Yes, you’ve caused people to suffer. You’ve taken from the poor and the middle class for thirty years, from Reagan to Obama, using a variety of strategies to redistribute wealth to the top. Yet you insist that the middle class should accept cuts in Social Security to pay off the deficit.

    Here is the effect of your funds transfer:

    In 1983 the poorest 47 percent of America owned $750 billion dollars, $15,000 per family, 2.5 percent of the nation’s wealth.

    In 2009 the poorest 47 percent of America owned ZERO PERCENT of the nation’s wealth (their debt exceeds their assets).

    Your thirty-year redistribution of wealth has most severely impacted four particularly vulnerable parts of American society:

    1. Children

    One out of every five American children now lives in poverty. A country that considers itself the greatest in the world is last among developed nations in providing the everyday needs of its youngest and most dependent citizens.

    The poverty level for U.S. children is up 50 percent since 1973. It’s an epidemic in the black community, where, shockingly, close to half the children under the age of six live in an impoverished household. And worse yet, the percentage of such families receiving assistance has dropped by two-thirds since 1995.

    Read on:

  13. rikyrah says:

    What to Expect This Year?

    by BooMan
    Mon Feb 11th, 2013 at 11:00:56 AM EST

    I think some people are getting a little carried away with the idea that bipartisanship has broken out on Capitol Hill. But that doesn’t mean that this Congress will be as unproductive as the last one. Setting aside the crisis over the sequester, there are bills that have a decent chance of becoming law with bipartisan support. I think the president will feel satisfied that he had a good year if he can pass the following:
    1. A renewal of the Violence Against Women Act- that this is even in question is pathetic, but it will probably get done.
    2. Gun violence control- a bill that creates a universal background check (closing the gun show loophole) and bans high-capacity magazines seems possible and should be considered a success.
    3. Cybersecurity- this is an unsexy subject, but it’s important and it will probably get done.
    4. Immigration reform- this is the biggie. If it passes with a pathway to citizenship, the president will be able to claim a giant victory.

    The president wants to work on election reform, education, climate, and transportation, but I don’t know if he can get anything worthwhile passed through Congress.

    Much of the oxygen on Capitol Hill will continue to be used up battling over the budget, the sequester, and tax reform.

    One thing I’d like to see is a push to normalize relations with Cuba. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has just taken over the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but he is also embroiled in scandal. Meanwhile, the other Cuban senator, Marco Rubio, could use some foreign policy accomplishment to bolster his presidential ambitions. The stars may be aligned just right for the two of them to come together and work with the State Department to end our 54-year stand off. They would both earn well-deserved and much needed praise.

    What to you expect to see this year?

  14. rikyrah says:

    Reagan-Appointed Judge On Race: ‘Eleanor Roosevelt Said Staffs Of One Color Always Work Better’

    By Ian Millhiser on Feb 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    A Texas civil rights group filed a complaint against Judge Lynn N. Hughes, a Ronald Reagan-appointee to a federal district court in Texas, criticizing his “outlandish racial comments” in a case brought by a South Asian man alleging employment discrimination:

    At one point, during a hearing in a racial discrimination case, Hughes reportedly said, “Eleanor Roosevelt said staffs of one color always work better.”

    During the same hearing, Hughes also reportedly questioned the role of diversity programs.

    “Why don’t they just hire people and let diversity take care of itself?” Hughes asked, according to the group’s complaint. “And what does the diversity director do? Go around and painting (sic) students different colors so that they would think they were mixed?”

    Judge Hughes also claimed in the hearing that South Asians are “Causcausian” and that this explains “why Adolph Hitler used the swastika.”

    This is the second time in just the past month that Hughes has come under attack for his questionable views on race. Last month, the severely conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit criticized Hughes for concluding that the statement “[i]f President Obama’s elected, they’re going to have to take the Statute of Liberty and put a piece of fried chicken in his [sic] hand” had nothing to do with race. According to Hughes, “no black individually and no blacks collectively owns [sic] the sensitivity rights to fried chicken or anything else.”

  15. Ametia says:

    Wonkbook: A policy primer for the 2013 SOTU
    Posted by Evan Soltas on February 11, 2013 at 7:11 am

    Welcome to Wonkbook, Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas’s morning policy news primer. To subscribe by e-mail, click here. Send comments, criticism, or ideas to Wonkbook at Gmail dot com. To read more by Ezra and his team, go to Wonkblog.
    Wonkbook’s Number of the Day: $23 billion. That’s the amount which, out of 2012′s budget cuts, was offset through “gimmicks” that avoided substantive reductions in government expenditures, according to this important story by David Fahrentold in The Washington Post.

  16. Ametia says:

    The political science of papal elections
    Posted by Dylan Matthews on February 11, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Pope Benedict XVI — né Joseph Ratzinger — has announced that he will step down at the end of this month. In doing so, he becomes the first pope to resign in 598 years. The last resignation, in 1415, occurred when Gregory XII stepped down to end the Western Schism in the Catholic Church, in which rival popes and antipopes, each recognized by a different set of secular governments in Europe, claimed sovereignty over the church.
    Which is to say that this is a pretty strange occurrence. But, as with normal papal successions, it will prompt the vote of the College of Cardinals, a group of up to 120 church leaders (current estimates put the number around 118) below the age limit of 80 who convene to elect new popes. Exactly how that process works, however, changes frequently, and indeed has changed since the election that elevated Benedict in 2005.

  17. rikyrah says:

    NRA Dismisses ‘Connecticut Effect,’ Suggests Grief Over Newtown Tragedy Will Be Short-Lived

    By Scott Keyes on Feb 11, 2013 at 9:01 am

    WAUSAU, Wisconsin—The National Rifle Association will wait until the “Connecticut effect” has subsided to resume its push to weaken the nation’s gun laws, according to a top NRA lobbyist speaking at the NRA’s Wisconsin State Convention this weekend.

    Though the NRA had been tight-lipped about how the Newtown tragedy would affect their efforts, lobbyist Bob Welch, who represents the Wisconsin NRA group, was anything but during their yearly meeting.

    “We have a strong agenda coming up for next year, but of course a lot of that’s going to be delayed as the ‘Connecticut effect’ has to go through the process,” Welch, a former Republican state senator, told the Wisconsin’s NRA State Association during the legislative update. The group’s president, Jeff Nass, had previously mentioned that they would push the Republican-controlled legislature to pass a Stand Your Ground law, the likes of which became famous following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida.

    Welch went on to bemoan the fact that the public’s focus on Newtown was preventing the NRA from pushing such bills through the legislature, but his remarks soon turned to braggadocio about the NRA’s legislative influence. He relayed an anecdote about how, following the Connecticut shooting, a pro-gun Democrat in the legislature had mentioned his desire to close the gun show loophole. “And I said [to him], ‘no, we’re not going to do that,” Welch boasted. “And so far, nothing’s happened on that.”

    WELCH: We have a strong agenda coming up for next year, but of course a lot of that’s going to be delayed as the “Connecticut effect” has to go through the process. […] What’s even more telling is the people who don’t like guns pretty much realize that they can’t do a thing unless they talk to us. After Connecticut I had one of the leading Democrats in the legislature—he was with us most of the time, not all the time—he came to me and said, “Bob, I got all these people in my caucus that really want to ban guns and do all this bad stuff, we gotta give them something. How about we close this gun show loophole? Wouldn’t that be good?” And I said, “no, we’re not going to do that.” And so far, nothing’s happened on that.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Graham: ‘No confirmation without information’
    By Steve Benen
    Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:30 AM EST.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) threats of political reprisals have recently become a running joke, which have made the Republican senator look rather foolish. But he showed on “Face the Nation” yesterday, Graham doesn’t seem to care.

    For those who can’t watch clips online, CBS’s Bob Scieffer asked Graham whether he’s prepared to block votes on Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel and CIA Director nominee John Brennan. Graham said he would, because he wants more information on the Benghazi attacks from last fall.

    “I want to know who changed the talking points,” Graham said. “Who took the references to al Qaeda out of the talking points given to Susan Rice? We still don’t know…. No confirmation without information.”

    It’s hard to overstate how ridiculous Graham is being. Every question he’s asked has been answered. Every person he’s sought testimony from — David Petraeus, Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, et al — has already given testimony. At this point, Graham appears to be throwing partisan tantrums just for the sake of throwing partisan tantrums. For crying out loud, the “who changed the talking points” question was resolved in early December, as Graham surely knows.

    As Kevin Drum recently put it, “This is very close to literal insanity. Graham knows perfectly well that these questions have been answered.”

  19. Ametia says:

    2 killed, 2 wounded at NCCo Courthouse; shooter also dead

    WILMINGTON — Two women were shot to death when a gunman opened fire at the New Castle County Courthouse this morning, state police said. The shooter is dead, and two male Capitol Police officers were wounded.

    Delaware State Police Sgt. Paul Shavack said the situation in the courthouse is “dynamic.” Police are going through the courthouse room by room just to make sure there are no other issues, Shavack said. People who were already in the courthouse are being held in place as they do the security sweep, Shavack said.

    It was unclear whether the shooter was killed by Capitol Police officers or he took his own life, according to state police spokesman Sgt. Paul Shavack. The shooter was in his late 20s to early 30s Police are still trying to determine his identity and the identities of the victims.

  20. Ametia says:

    President Obama is finally going home to Chicago. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the president plans to visit the city later this week as part of a national tour to promote his second-term priorities that he will lay out in tomorrow’s State of the Union address. The visit comes amid growing calls for the president to address Chicago’s onslaught of gun-related deaths.

    Over the weekend First Lady Michelle Obama attended the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl who was shot and killed in Chicago just days after performing at inauguration events for the president. The slain girl’s mother, Cleopatra Pendleton, is going to be in the White House chamber as a guest during the president’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

    However, Chicagoans wants action, not symbolic gestures. Lynn Sweet at the Chicago Sun-Times put it this way: “To Chicagoans, whatever economic messages Obama wants to underscore Friday will take a back seat to anything he says about the slaughters on the streets of Chicago — 506 murders in 2012, up 16 percent from 2011 — all happening on Emanuel’s watch.”

  21. Ametia says:

    Monday, February 11, 2013
    The great emo lie (updated)

    Bob Cesca does a good job of taking down the great emo lie: Obama = Bush. Or even more egregious, Obama is worse than Bush. I’d just like to add my thoughts.

    Of course any direct comparison is impossible because we are talking about two different times in history. As we all know, many of President Obama’s biggest challenges since coming to office have been to try to clean up the messes made by the Bush administration. When it comes to the kind of issues emos are usually referring to with this lie, one of the most vexing is the question of what to do with the small group of detainees at Gitmo who are the most dangerous but can’t be tried in a court of law due to the torture they were subjected to by the Bush administration. I could go on with tons of examples like this, but lets let that one suffice.

  22. Ametia says:

    Being first lady’s guest at speech can yield positive and sometimes unexpected results
    By Emily Heil,

    As President Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, the first lady’s guests will be on their best behavior.

    White House staffers will have coached those sitting in the gallery with Michelle Obama that at any moment the cameras might pan from the president’s podium to where they sit in the balcony. So they will watch their posture, stifle yawns and skip the chewing gum

    The everyday Americans invited to accompany the first lady as she watches her husband address Congress and the nation are essentially given roles by the White House. They are the human faces of the messages the president delivers, whether about the ingenuity of small business or the plight of returning troops.

  23. Ametia says:

    Nothing self-made about me

    By E.J. Dionne Jr.,

    I disagreed with former president George W. Bush on many things. But on one issue, I admired him greatly: He was wise enough to marry a teacher and a librarian. I’m unabashedly biased about this, since my late mom was also a teacher and a librarian.

    I have been thinking a good deal about her because she would have turned 100 last Friday. She died in 1995, and my sister and I have spoken often about the extraordinary social changes she came to terms with and was part of.

    In talking about history, we break the story up into discrete chunks: the Depression, World War II, the 1960s and the like. But lives aren’t broken up; we live them continuously. Thinking now as a parent myself, I cannot imagine how I would have dealt with children of my own had I been a father in the 1960s. How strange those years must have seemed to adults like my mom. How spoiled did my generation look to those who had lived through depression and war? It was not illogical to ask, as many did: “What are these kids complaining about?”

    In retrospect, I have been struck by how sensible my mom was through the social chaos, even though those were especially jarring times in our household. My dad, her husband of 29 years, passed away suddenly in the totemic year of 1968. Yet his death almost certainly made my sister and me less likely to rebel, and my mom cut us a bit of slack. The three of us were determined not to let the cultural hurricanes of the 1960s pull us apart.

  24. rikyrah says:

    Conservatives Revel In Their Racism As They Mock First Lady Michelle Obama

    By: RmuseFeb. 10th, 2013

    Habituation is one of the simplest forms of learning and, when bad behavior is repeated regularly, it becomes unnoticed and the person exhibiting it has no need for self-analysis that may inform them their habit is harmful. For most of this country’s history, white supremacy was the unequivocal governing ideology, and despite the struggle for civil rights for all Americans and the election of the first African American President in 2008, anti-African American racism is still prevalent in the population and within the conservative movement. Subsequently, it drives most of the opposition to President Obama and by extension, the Democratic Party and sadly, the President’s wife Michelle Obama.

    Recently, under cover of protesting so-called federal government meddling in people’s lives, Mrs. Obama’s effort to promote low-calorie school lunches incited a football coach in Alabama to deride the First Lady’s posterior and body shape. The coach in question said, “Those lunches you get, 600-calorie lunches – you know who’s behind that? Fat butt Michelle Obama and look … look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She’s overweight.” Another voice says, “Big fat gorilla” to which the coach responded, “I’m serious. Y’all, our country is, is, is going in the wrong direction. It’s going straight to hell.” The criticism of the First Lady’s derriere was the subject of a Rush Limbaugh rant nearly a year ago when he referred to her as “Michelle ‘my butts’ Obama,” and last year a Wisconsin Republican criticized Mrs. Obama’s healthy eating initiative loudly at an airport complaining that, “She lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself.”

    In the Alabama coach’s case, the conversation quickly morphed from nutritional school lunches to the First Lady’s derriere to the country’s direction, and it is a sign that the real issue is not Mrs. Obama’s body shape, it is her presence as First Lady that challenges the historic view of a black woman’s, or any African American’s, place in a historically white supremacist culture. Instead of acceptance that America is moving away from a white supremacist society, growing racial resentment is driving extremist conservatism of right-wing Republicans, and plays a major role in their total rejection of President Obama and the Democratic Party regardless the American people support the President’s agenda. Habits, especially old habits, die hard and it explains Republican obstructionism in their attempt to cling to an America dominated by what Senator Lindsey Graham termed, “angry white males.”

    In the last election, many Americans and politicians, and the press is implicit in this problem, focused their attention on the plight of white Americans despite their numbers, as a percentage of the population, are decreasing as Hispanics and African Americans are growing in a natural progression in a multi-cultural society. In fact, leading up to the 2012 election, the press was preoccupied with the white vote; the white working class, white women, and wealthy white people and how they would decide the election in favor of Willard Romney. However, Republicans lost part of the white vote because of their racial resentment and extremism that goes against the social conscience of mainstream Americans whose attitudes toward tolerance is becoming the norm and, like decent human beings, are more concerned with fairness and diversity instead of religious extremism and pandering to rich white Americans. America is not changing; it has changed, and as the Republican Party becomes more extreme, and racist, they will find themselves declining in popularity among decent Americans regardless of their race, social, or economic demographic.

    Hardline conservatives do not necessarily have a problem with Michelle Obama’s body shape, or her husband’s policies, it is with their race after white supremacy has been the explicit governing ideology throughout this nation’s history. The dominant idea that guided the concept of democracy, and the role of government policy, centered on improving the lives of white people and limiting it for African Americans and Hispanics who were kept out of good schools, good jobs, and decent housing that has shifted among the population that demands equal opportunity for all Americans that President Obama so eloquently championed in his inaugural address.

  25. rikyrah says:

    Roger Ailes’ Border War Can the Fox News CEO make his network more Latino-friendly?


    Roger Ailes is kvetching. “The president likes to divide people into groups,” he huffs into the phone. “He’s too busy getting the middle class to hate rich people, blacks to hate whites. He is busy trying to get everybody to hate each other.” With that off his chest, Ailes gets back on message. “We need to get along,” he says.

    It’s an unexpected plea from the Fox News CEO considering his impressive record of provocation. But recently, “getting along” has become an imperative for the conservative movement. Mitt Romney lost the Latino vote by nearly 50 points, and now almost everyone agrees that the Republican Party needs to improve with Hispanic voters to have a shot at the White House in 2016. That could also be Ailes’s last year at Fox News: His contract expires then, when he’ll be 76 years old. So if Roger Ailes wants to see a Republican win what may be his last presidential election as a major player, he’ll need to try to make conservatism more palatable to Latinos. Which, of course, he will.

    Roger Ailes wants to prove that the GOP is more appealing to Latinos than the alternatives, but will it work?

    “The fact is, we have a lot—Republicans have a lot more opportunity for them,” Ailes says. “If I’m going to risk my life to run over the fence to get into America, I want to win. I think Fox News will articulate that.”

  26. rikyrah says:

    I think Ms. Judd is scaring folks.


    Rand Paul Says Ashley Judd is Attractive, Articulate and Doesn’t Represent Kentucky

    By: Sarah JonesFeb. 10th, 2013

    Tea Party representative Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was on CNN’s State of the Union this morning in an attempt to establish his SOTU address pre-buttal narrative. Asked about the negative ads running against Ashley Judd, Mitch McConnell’s potential 2014 opponent in Kentucky, Rand Paul said she was attractive, articulate and and doesn’t represent Kentucky.

    Asked about Karl Rove’s negative ads against Judd in Kentucky, Rand said, “Part of politics is making sure people know about who you are running against. Ashley Judd’s a famous actress, she’s an attractive woman, and presents herself well, and from what I understand, is articulate. But the thing is, she doesn’t really represent Kentucky.”

    I guess Rand’s Kentucky doesn’t want to be represented by an attractive, articulate woman. Or maybe it’s that Rove’s GOP PAC Crossroads painted Judd out to be a radical liberal from Tennessee who loves ObamaCare because you should really “know” who is a Muslim Kenyan socialist without a birth certificate, rather than focusing on the people who are still clinging to the Affordable Care Act as a get out the vote tool even though they know they can’t overturn it. After all, the last thing Republicans can afford is to have actual policy discussions with voters.

    Rand also offered up his peculiar brand of Tea humor, “When I heard Ashley Judd might run for office I thought maybe it was Parliament since she lives in Scotland half the year.” Oh, European boogeywoman! Good one, Senator.

    If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Republicans aren’t worried about Judd, then why are they going out of their way to attack her? Good question. Mitch McConnell has lowest job approval rating among 90 members of the Senate. His job approval rating is at 37% with a 55% disapproval in Kentucky, according to a Public Policy Polling poll from December. And in a hypothetical match up, Judd was only trailing McConnell by 4% until voters were fed a few tidbits about her, such as her grandmother calling her a Hollywood liberal. Hence, the pre-emptive ads against Judd focusing on her comparative liberalism (also known as wanting Americans to have healthcare) in a conservative state like Kentucky.

  27. rikyrah says:

    Senate Poised To Pass Violence Against Women Act – But House Outlook Remains Uncertain

    Sahil Kapur-February 11, 2013, 6:00 AM
    The Senate is poised to pass the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization early this week, with a final vote expected Monday afternoon or Tuesday.

    The legislation enjoys broad bipartisan support in the Senate; it has 62 sponsors and moved forward last week by a vote of 85-8. The Senate voted 34-65 to reject an amendment by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to replace the measure with a scaled-back reauthorization.

    After voting on additional amendments, including one by VAWA chief sponsor Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to beef up resources to combat human trafficking, the legislation is expected to pass with expanded provisions to extend coverage to gays, illegal immigrants and Native Americans who suffer from domestic abuse.

    Despite the unusually large Senate consensus, there has been no perceptible movement among House Republican leaders since they passed a scaled-back version of VAWA on a party-line vote last year, rejecting the Senate legislation.

    In an exchange on the floor Wednesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) needled Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on VAWA. Cantor responded that it’s a “priority” for Republicans to “move and act on this bill” – but signaled that divisions linger.

    “We want to protect the women who are subject to abuse on tribal lands, and unfortunately there are issues that don’t directly bear on that that have come up, that have complicated it,” Cantor said. “But in working with [Hoyer’s] office as well as the vice president’s, I hope to be able to deal with this and bring it up in a expeditious manner.”

    By the end of the week, House Republican leaders had no progress to speak of.

    “Silence,” said a senior House Democratic aide.

    “There is no reason for them not to take this bill up and pass it,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) told TPM last Thursday, expressing hope that House leaders will permit a vote. “I think they are hearing from a number of their moderate Republican women, particularly after the last election. I think they are looking bad hiding behind not moving a strong bill.”

  28. rikyrah says:

    Child Molestation is Expensive

    by BooMan
    Sun Feb 10th, 2013 at 11:42:16 PM EST

    We’ve had our own problems in Philadelphia, but this is pretty low.

    Pressed to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars to settle clergy sex abuse lawsuits, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony turned to one group of Catholics whose faith could not be shaken: the dead.
    Under his leadership in 2007, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles quietly appropriated $115 million from a cemetery maintenance fund and used it to help pay a landmark settlement with molestation victims.

    The church did not inform relatives of the deceased that it had taken the money, which amounted to 88% of the fund. Families of those buried in church-owned cemeteries and interred in its mausoleums have contributed to a dedicated account for the perpetual care of graves, crypts and grounds since the 1890s.

    Mahony and other church officials also did not mention the cemetery fund in numerous public statements about how the archdiocese planned to cover the $660-million abuse settlement. In detailed presentations to parish groups, the cardinal and his aides said they had cashed in substantial investments to pay the settlement, but they did not disclose that the main asset liquidated was cemetery money.

    Sometimes it feels like simply citing this stuff without commentary is anti-Catholic.

  29. rikyrah says:

    NYT: (Missoula, Mont) This funky college town …. has long been a liberal pocket, an isolated speck of blue in a deeply red state. Now Montana is electing more politicians who lean that way, thanks to a different-minded generation of young voters animated by the recession and social issues.

    …. these students, and dozens of other young people interviewed here last week, give voice to a trend that is surprising pollsters and jangling the nerves of Republicans. On a central philosophical question of the day – the size and scope of the federal government – a clear majority of young people embraces President Obama’s notion that it can be a constructive force….

    …. Here in Montana, a state that backed John McCain in 2008 and Mr. Romney last year, voters under 30 have helped elect two Democratic senators and a new Democratic governor. Nationally, young voters have since 2004 been casting their ballots for Democrats by far wider margins than previous young generations – a shift that could reshape American politics for decades.


    Later in the article, the GOP response to young voters in Montanta helping elect Gov Steve Bullock and re-elect Sen Jon Tester (“Both times, polls stayed open hours past their official closing time to accommodate huge lines of students. Both times, Forward Montana ran huge voter registration drives”)?

    They are “now trying to undo a Montana law that permits voters to register on Election Day”.

  30. rikyrah says:

    Paul Krugman: Last week Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, gave what his office told us would be a major policy speech. And we should be grateful for the heads-up about the speech’s majorness. Otherwise, a read of the speech might have suggested that he was offering nothing more than a meager, warmed-over selection of stale ideas.

    To be sure, Mr. Cantor tried to sound interested in serious policy discussion. But he didn’t succeed – and that was no accident. For these days his party dislikes the whole idea of applying critical thinking and evidence to policy questions. And no, that’s not a caricature: Last year the Texas G.O.P. explicitly condemned efforts to teach “critical thinking skills,” because, it said, such efforts “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

  31. rikyrah says:


    Quietly Killing a Consumer Watchdog

    Published: February 10, 2013

    If you’d like to know why Republicans are trying to shut down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, take a look at three things the agency has already accomplished in its first 18 months:

    It called a halt to predatory practices by mortgage lenders, ensuring that borrowers are not saddled with loans they can’t afford and preventing brokers from earning higher commissions for higher interest rates.

    ¶It won an $85 million settlement from American Express, which it accused of deceptive and discriminatory marketing and billing practices.

    ¶It opened an investigation into questionable marketing practices by banks and credit card companies on college campuses, which often take place after undisclosed financial arrangements are made with universities.

    The consumer bureau has taken seriously its mandate to protect the public from the kinds of abuses that helped lead to the 2009 recession, and it has not been intimidated by the financial industry’s army of lobbyists. That’s what worries Republicans. They can’t prevent the bureau from regulating their financial supporters. Having failed to block the creation of the bureau in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, they are now trying to take away its power by filibuster, and they may well succeed.

    The bureau cannot operate without a director. Under the Dodd-Frank law, most of its regulatory powers — particularly its authority over nonbanks like finance companies, debt collectors, payday lenders and credit agencies — can be exercised only by a director. Knowing that, Republicans used a filibuster to prevent President Obama’s nominee for director, Richard Cordray, from reaching a vote in 2011. Mr. Obama then gave Mr. Cordray a recess appointment, but a federal appeals court recently ruled in another case that the Senate was not in recess at that time because Republicans had arranged for sham sessions.

    That opinion, if upheld by the Supreme Court, is likely to apply to Mr. Cordray as well, which could invalidate the rules the bureau has already enacted. The president has renominated Mr. Cordray, but Republicans have made it clear that they will continue to filibuster, using phony arguments to keep the agency from operating.

    Earlier this month, 43 Senate Republicans wrote a letter to the president, vowing to block any nominee until “key structural changes” are made, including a bipartisan commission to run the bureau instead of one director, and Congressional control of its appropriations. (It is now financed with bank fees paid to the Federal Reserve.)

  32. rikyrah says:

    Pope Benedict XVI Says He Will Resign
    Published: February 11, 2013

    ROME — Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who took office in 2005 following the death of his predecessor, said on Monday that he will resign on Feb. 28, the first pope to do so in six centuries.

    A profoundly conservative figure whose papacy was overshadowed by sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, the pope, 85, said that after examining his conscience “before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of his position as head of the world’s Roman Catholics.

    While there had been questioning about his health and advancing years, his announcement — even by the Vatican’s official account — stunned many. “The pope took us by surprise,” said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, who explained that many cardinals were in Rome on Monday for a ceremony at the Vatican and heard the pope’s address

  33. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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