Serendipity SOUL | Wednesday Open Thread | Bee Gees Week!

Happy HUMP day, Everyone. We hope you’re enjoying the Bee Gees this week. By now…

You Should Be Dancing

Nights on Broadway

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32 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Wednesday Open Thread | Bee Gees Week!

  1. rikyrah says:

    Father’s sting nets man allegedly trying to have sex with teen

    Believing his daughter was in danger, a father took matters into his own hands. We understand he set up his own sting and caught a man allegedly trying to have sex with his 13-year-old daughter.

    Antoine Martin said he held the man at his house on Detroit’s west side, called police and then waited until they took him into custody. According to the father, the man is a volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club of America.

    Martin said that he started monitoring his daughter’s Facebook conversations and soon realized this man had taken a liking to his daughter and the conversations became very inappropriate. The father quickly intervened and, acting as his daughter, started having conversations online with the man. The father then set up the sting, and said that Tuesday afternoon, the man showed up at his house, then admitted what he was trying to do.

    “He said he has a problem, he had a thirst is what he said, and that he was going to try to get help and this would be the last time,” Martin explained. “That’s just unacceptable.”

    “It’s not just for my daughter, but my daughter’s friends, for the other members of the club. I had to make sure that this stops.”

    Martin said the man even confessed what he did on his cell phone, and that he recorded that conversation.

    Martin said his family has been very involved with the Boys and Girls Club of America for years. In fact, his kids are getting ready to receive an award in the next couple of weeks. That is how they met this individual.

    Martin is concerned other girls may have been preyed on by this individual. If so, he hopes they will come forward and contact police.

    The CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Michigan told us that man is not a volunteer. He said he is a former volunteer, who has not been active with the organization for two years, although he did come back for a visit back in February. The CEO also said the Boys and Girls Club does background checks for all volunteers and staff members.

    Read more:

  2. rikyrah says:

    The Clap Looks Good By Comparison

    by BooMan
    Wed Apr 3rd, 2013 at 10:47:42 AM EST

    The Republican Party is really unpopular. But I wonder what it going to happen to their brand over the course of this year. Considering that the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce have agreed on an immigration reform deal, what will happen if Marco Rubio simply walks away from a deal? Or, what if the Senate passes a bill and the House can’t follow suit? Or, what if Boehner feels compelled to pass a bill that the majority of his caucus opposes?
    What if the Senate agrees on a universal background check on guns and the House won’t go along with it? Or, what if the Senate Republicans won’t give the president the vote he insisted on in the State of the Union? What if the House Republicans refuse to allow a vote? What if Boehner feels compelled to pass a bill that the majority of his caucus opposes?

    We can ask these same questions about fixing the sequester. If the Republicans continue to refuse to offer any revenues through tax reform and insist on cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security (a position opposed by 77% of the people and supported by only 17%) how much blame will they get for that?

    These are not even the most dangerous issues for the Republicans. Fooling around with the debt ceiling again or causing a government shutdown are both still real possibilities this year.

    We keep seeing analysis written through the prism of the red/blue divide, where Republicans have more to fear from primary challengers than from Democrats. But their positions on guns and immigration and the budget are not polling well at all. Obviously, their position on gay rights is also polling poorly. In fact, their positions are weak enough with independents and moderates that Republican lawmakers should not assume that they will get the same percentage of those votes in 2014 that they got in 2012.

    They are in trouble on individual issues, taking positions in some cases that are supported by less than one in ten voters. Overall, on the issues likely to be at the forefront of political discussion this year, they are fairly consistently taking positions that are supported by no more than a third of the voters. But they also have to worry about the meta-narrative they are creating. The new Quinnipiac poll shows the GOP’s favorability at 28%-52% and their congressional approval rating at 19%-71%. That’s a pretty bad place to start if you are planning another year of total obstruction and dysfunction. They don’t have any good will to work with. Their arguments are unpopular on the merits, so it’s not possible to improve things by getting their message out.

    The leaders are probably looking at how much of a boost New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got out of cooperating with the president on Sandy relief and wondering whether they’d get the same kind of bounce if they worked out some deals with the administration. But their rank and file doesn’t look like they are in any mood to permit that.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Tennessee’s nutty new Senate primary plan
    By Steve Benen
    Wed Apr 3, 2013 10:48 AM EDT.

    In every state, Senate elections follow a predictable pattern: candidates launch campaigns, the parties hold primaries, voters choose their candidates, and the winners face off in a general election.

    As Charlie Cook explained this week, Tennessee is weighing a proposal to change the system a bit. It’d be similar, except voters in the Volunteer State wouldn’t get to vote in Senate primaries anymore.

    Tennessee state Sen. Frank Nicely, a Republican from Strawberry Plains, has introduced S.B. 471, which would, beginning in 2016, eliminate party primaries for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee. Members of the state Legislature would instead select the nominees. Republican House and Senate caucuses would pick the GOP nominee, and their Democratic counterparts would select their candidate. State Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, has also introduced the bill in the Tennessee General Assembly.

    My first reaction was to be dismissive. In Washington, as in state legislatures around the country, we often see goofy bills and resolutions introduced, but most thankfully die without any action being taken. But what really got my attention was the news that the Tennessee Senate’s State and Local Government Committee voted 7-1 last week to advance the bill

    And why, pray tell, do Tennessee Republicans want to stop voters from participating in their own Senate primaries? It goes back to the far-right’s opposition to the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    As Ed Kilgore explained, “Many of you are probably aware that one of the wingnut ideas that has accompanied the rise of the Tea Party Movement was repealing the 17th amendment and letting state legislators — not those idiot looters and takers — choose U.S. Senators again…. Trouble is, of course, that enacting or repealing constitutional amendments is a pretty heavy lift.”

    Quite right. And since the Constitution probably won’t be changed anytime soon, and the 17th Amendment likely won’t be repealed, conservatives in Tennessee see this as the next best thing.

    Long-time readers may recall that the right’s preoccupation with the 17th Amendment has been ongoing for several years now. Conservatives would like to scrap at least one part of the 14th Amendment, “restore” the “original” 13th Amendment, and repeal the 16th Amendment, but it’s the 17th — the one that lets Americans choose their own U.S. senators — that really gets under conservatives’ skin.

    Why? In a nutshell, the far-right believes all hell broke loose after Americans starting electing U.S. senators — as opposed to the original system in which state legislatures chose U.S. senators and voters didn’t have much say in the matter. For conservatives, this meant senators stopped being beholden to state interests, which affected federalist principles in ways the right doesn’t like.

    And so, every year, new efforts pop up to repeal the 17th Amendment, and every year, people like me shake their heads in disappointment.

    But the story out of Tennessee is a little different. These state GOP lawmakers realize they can’t scrap the 17th Amendment, but they figure, if the state legislature picks the candidates, that will help ensure that U.S. senators are at least partially in state lawmakers’ debt. Sure, it takes power out of voters’ hands, but for the right, that’s a small price to pay — and besides, the election of senators will remain the electorate’s decision, at least until repealing the 17th becomes more realistic.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Roland Martin Responds to Prof Fauntroy who Responds to Roland Martin

    It should come as no surprise that former CNN commentator Roland Martin has responded to George Mason University Professor Michael Fauntroy‘s stinging rebuke of his skills as a political analyst.

    As we reported, Professor Fauntroy didn’t bite his tongue in his criticism of Martin. From his article/blog at Black Blue Dog, here’s some of what he wrote:

    Let’s resist the urge to make Roland Martin out to be some wrongly aggrieved talking head. He is a marginally knowledgeable loudmouth who was more sizzle than steak. No academic training politics and government. No significant campaign experience. No experience as a political reporter at a major media outlet (He wrote opinion pieces at CNN). He is lucky to have had his turn. So to those who are shedding tears following the announcement of his departure from CNN: Your time would be better spent applying pressure to the cable networks to put minorities on who actually know something about politics and government.

    Naturally those were fighting words as far as Roland Martin was concerned and on Tuesday he readily accepted Black Blue Dog‘s Dr. Boyce Watkins request to respond to Professor Fauntroy:

    How dumb can you be to write something like that and not even read my bio? I’ve only covered politics for 22 years. Covered city hall – in three cities; county govt reporter; covered seven national political conventions; interviewed three US presidents; countless Cabinet members, U.S. senators, House members, governors and mayors. I’ve used my TV One Washington Watch show and daily Tom Joyner Morning Show segments to give numerous black political scientists, economists, pollsters, and journalists an opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise. Did the same at the Houston Defender, Chicago Defender, Dallas Weekly, Savoy Magazine, and Poor Michael. I guess reading is fundamental, even for folks with Ph.Ds.

    And no, the story doesn’t end there. Dr. Watkins then reached out to Professor Fauntroy for his response to Martin (listen below). Hopefully it’ll be the end of the controversy. If not, we’ll let you know.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Priebus’s RNC rebranding effort takes a detour

    By Steve Benen
    Wed Apr 3, 2013 2:14 PM EDT

    Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has spent the last several weeks trying to subtly reposition his party. The gist of Priebus’ pitch is that his party is struggling, not because of policy, but for reasons having to do with culture and rhetoric. In particular, the RNC chair has suggested the party’s rigid social conservatism has alienated women and younger voters.

    Today, however, it appears the RNC’s rebranding effort has taken a detour. Priebus has published an item on a far-right website, Erik Erickson’s, arguing that the media has engaged in a “cover-up” to hide “Democrat-Backed Planned Parenthood’s support for infanticide.”

    [Last week] in Florida, lawmakers held a hearing about a bill to protect the lives of babies born during an attempted abortion procedure. The bill requires the abortionist to provide medical care to the newborn. It might seem obvious that a newborn should be cared for — but not to Planned Parenthood.

    They sent a lobbyist to the Florida legislature to testify in opposition to the bill.

    From there, Priebus notes the testimony of a Planned Parenthood lobbyist who, understandably, couldn’t answer questions about specific medical procedures, but explained that her organization believes medical decisions “should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician.” The RNC chair interpreted this as support for infanticide.

    The President, the Senate Majority Leader, the House Democratic Leader, and the Chair of the Democratic National Committee (in whose home state this hearing occurred) made funding Planned Parenthood an issue in the 2012 campaign. They should now all be held to account for that outspoken support. If the media won’t, then voters must ask the pressing questions: Do these Democrats also believe a newborn has no rights? Do they also endorse infanticide

    Oh my.


    First, while I’m certainly not in a position to speak for Planned Parenthood, but I’m reasonably certain the group does not believe “a newborn has no rights” and does not “endorse infanticide.”

    Second, the fact that news organizations didn’t much care about a Planned Parenthood lobbyist who couldn’t answer specific questions about specific medical procedures in hypothetical treatment scenarios is not evidence of a “cover-up.”

  6. rikyrah says:

    April 03, 2013 10:40 AM
    Bobby Jindal’s Ideological Freight

    By Ed Kilgore

    I noted briefly in the Day’s End post yesterday that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s approval ratings seem to be sinking like a stone. I’d like to wallow in that topic for a moment, not just for purposes of schadenfreude (though there is that), but because Jindal is so often touted as an example of the new wave of smart, pragmatic Republican governors who are the future of their party and perhaps our country.

    The two big nationally significant “ideas” Jindal has made his signature are private-school “backpack” vouchers (i.e., kids and parents call all the shots on where the kid takes his taxpayer subsidy; taxpayers themselves or their representatives have no say, and schools are not accountable for any particular results) and the abolition of the state income tax in favor of higher sales taxes. Neither of these are particularly new ideas—particularly the craven “idea” of bribing the wealthy into bringing their capital into your state by assuring them the poor and middle-class will pay most of the public bills—but the chattering classes have poor memories, and even old chestnuts falling from Bobby’s mouth are often treated like jewels.

    The latest poll from Louisiana, by the local firm Southern Media and Opinion Research, showed Jindal’s once-sterling job approval ratio dropping to 38/60 (by comparison, Sen. Mary Landriuex, often described by chortling conservatives as sure to lose in 2014, comes it at 55/41; and even President Obama, who’s lost the state twice by nearly 20 points, looks better at 43-56).

    But how’s about Bobby shiny “new ideas”? The same poll asked about them, and the results aren’t that pretty. The approval/disapproval rating for Jindal’s voucher system is 42/53. For his “tax switch” plan to abolish income taxes, it’s 27/63. And on a proposal that’s not so much an “idea” as a blatant ideological move, Jindal’s efforts to privatize state public hospitals registers at 32/60.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Why expanding background checks would, in fact, reduce gun crime

    Posted by Greg Sargent on April 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    With Congress set to debate the emerging plan to expand background checks, conservatives and Republicans — and even a few red state Democrats — continue to traffic heavily in deliberate misdirection and distortions about the proposal. They are getting widespread media play and are dominating the debate.

    So I asked Daniel Webster, a leading expert on gun violence who is the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, to respond to many of their arguments. Footnotes are at the end.

    Criminals won’t obey any background check laws. So why would expanding the current law do any good?

    The logic of this argument is flawed. It could be used to dismiss the utility of virtually any law because criminals will disobey it. The illogical exemption of private gun sales from background checks is the very reason that criminals don’t currently have to obey existing background check laws.

    State laws prohibiting high-risk groups — perpetrators of domestic violence, violent misdemeanants and the severely mentally ill — from possessing firearms have been shown to reduce violence. [1, 2] One of my studies found that a number of state laws prohibiting individuals under a domestic violence restraining order from owning guns produced an overall 19 percent reduction in intimate partner homicides. [3]

    Meanwhile, my research has shown that state universal background checks — along with other state laws designed to increase gun seller and purchaser accountability — significantly reduce the number of guns diverted to the illegal market, where the above high risk groups often get their guns [4, 5].

    At the same time, the success of these state gun laws in reducing the diversion of guns to criminals is undermined by gaps in federal laws which facilitate interstate gun trafficking from states with the weakest gun laws to those with the strongest gun laws. [6, 7] For example, we found that states without universal background check laws had 30 percent higher levels of exporting across state lines guns that were later recovered from criminals. [5]

  8. rikyrah says:

    The GOP’s border security roadblock

    Posted by Jamelle Bouie on April 3, 2013 at 11:25 am

    USA Today reports that order security continues to be a sticking point in negotiations over comprehensive immigration reform. In late March, John McCain insisted that the country needs more enforcement to “assure the American people that we have effective control of the border.” In a recent hearing, GOP Rep. Candice Miller — chair of a key House committee focused on border security — said: “If we do not as a nation have a high degree of confidence that we are securing our border…I think this whole comprehensive immigration reform is going to be a very difficult lift.”

    The problem with this requirement — almost unanimously voiced by Republicans — is that it’s hard to know what, if anything, would satisfy their demand.

    Last year the Obama administration spent $18 billion on border security and immigration enforcement, a significant increase over previous years. And those funds have gone towards deportations and border surveillance. In 2012 alone, the administration removed 409,849 unauthorized immigrants from the United States, a record number. Overall, in his four years in office, Obama has deported nearly 1.5 million people at a pace of 400,000 per year, far exceeding the number of deportations under previous presidents.

    This policy of strict immigration enforcement has brought results. The Government Accounting Office has found that 81 percent of the border with Mexico meets one of three top levels of security, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security. Actual unauthorized immigration has slowed to a halt, thanks to a stagnant economy in the United States and a growing one in Mexico. As the New York Times notes this morning: “the established cross-border networks of family connections that made possible one of the greatest immigration waves in American history are either tapped out — with most close relatives already in the United States — or they are sending people home.”

    There’s a strong case to be made that we’ve already achieved the goal of tighter border security. Which raises the question: Why do Republicans insist on even tighter layers of security? It might have something to do with the fact that a critical portion of their base opposes the main immigration proposal on the table: A comprehensive bill with a path to citizenship. Republicans have tried to get around this by demanding ever more concessions from Democrats on border security, in hopes of placating that base. But in the real world, there aren’t many more concessions that can be made. And it’s not clear whether there’s anything that could get the base to accept citizenship.

  9. rikyrah says:

    The Morning Plum: Republicans increasingly isolated on many major issues

    Posted by Greg Sargent on April 3, 2013 at 9:01 am

    One thing that remains striking about our politics right now is the degree to which public opinion among Republicans is increasingly isolated and drifting away from the rest of the electorate. You see this on pretty much every major issue facing the country.

    Case in point: Immigration. A new Washington Post poll finds that a path to citizenship is supported by 57 percent of Americans, including 58 percent of independents and 59 percent of moderates. But this is opposed by 60 percent of Republicans. Only 35 percent of them support it.

    As the Fix team puts it: “being involved in a comprehensive immigration reform deal might not be such good politics — at least as it relates to the party’s base — for ambitious Republicans.”

    This dynamic is apparent on other major issues, too. Marriage equality? A recent Post poll found that Americans think it should be legal by a 58-36 margin. Independents believe this by 62-33; moderates by 71-24. But Republicans oppose marriage equality by 59-34, preventing GOP officials from embracing it.

    Health care? A January New York Times/CBS poll on Obamacare found that only 33 percent of Americans want to “repeal the entire law.” But 62 percent of Republicans want the entire law repealed, forcing GOP officials to continue serving up myriad repeal proposals that may only serve to keep the base’s repeal fantasies alive.

    The safety net and the welfare state? Americans say they they want spending cuts in general. But numerous polls have shown broad opposition to reducing the deficit with deep entitlement cuts, and the public wants the deficit reduced partly with new revenues from the wealthy. But Republican officials continue to genuflect to the Ryan vision, which would radically restructure Medicare and roll back huge swaths of government in the name of balancing the budget in 10 years. Why? Partly because Republicans continue to see opposing any new taxes on the rich as an organizing principle, and partly because balancing the budget polls well with the GOP base as a moral issue, as GOP pollster Whit Ayres recently put it.

    All of which is to say that there seems to be little incentive for GOP politicians, particularly ones who are insulated from national opinion in safe districts with a lot of GOP base voters, to compromise with Obama or Democrats. But that puts the party as a whole out of step with the broader public on many major issues facing the country. Paging the political science types: How do Republicans get out of this hole? Is this a serious problem? Does it matter?

  10. rikyrah says:

    April 03, 2013 1:16 PM
    666 Pennsylvania Avenue

    By Ed Kilgore

    Since we’ve been talking off and on about the boundary-line that separates regular conservatives from the extremist fringe, and also because one of my regular topics is the intersection of politics and religion, check out this finding from a new PPP survey on subscription to conspiracy theories:

    13% of voters think Barack Obama is the anti-Christ, including 22% of Romney voters

    This is a national poll, mind you, not a straw poll at some conservative evangelical clambake. Its margin-of-error is 2.8%. Extrapolated to the national electorate, it suggests that over 13 million Americans believe the President of the United States is a demonic supernatural being sent into the world to set up an infernal kingdom until it’s all washed away by the End of Days.

    Now I understand all the limitations of this kind of polling. The Anti-Christ question is sprinkled in with all sorts of crazy questions about this or that odd theory (my favorite is: Do you believe that shape-shifting reptilian people control our world and gaining political power to manipulate our societies, or not? 4% of respondents are down with the “V hypothesis,” though the number rises to 11% among those self-identifying as “very conservative.”). Many Romney voters would be inclined to agree with anything negative said about Obama.

    Still, the Anti-Christ?


    UPDATE: On Twitter, TNR’s Nate Cohn reminds me to note that 19% of 2012 Romney voters are unsure whether Obama is the Anti-Christ (guess they are still reading the Book of Revelation and looking for signs). Only 59% are willing to say he’s not.

  11. rikyrah says:

    Sofia and Madea

  12. rikyrah says:

    uh huh

    uh huh

    she’s got the dough so they can keep the castle..

    yeah I watch Downton Abbey…I know the drill…LOL


    Emma McQuiston, Britain’s first black marchioness, to marry Ceawlin Thynne, Viscount of Weymouth

    Britain’s high society just got a bit more colorful. Emma McQuiston, the 26-year-old daughter of Suzanna McQuiston and Ladi Jadesimi, a Nigerian oil magnate, recently became the UK’s first black marchioness. McQuiston is engaged to Ceawlin Thynne, Viscount of Weymouth and the son of Alexander George Thynn, 7th Marquess of Bath.

    To put things in context, a marchioness is above the ranking of countess, but below duchess, and McQuiston’s new title has seemed to ruffle the feathers of the old guard, but she isn’t worried.

    ‘There has been some snobbishness, particularly among the older generation,’ she told The Daily Mail.

    She continued: “There’s class and then there’s the racial thing. It’s a jungle and I’m going through it and discovering things as I grow up. I’m not super-easily offended but it’s a problem when someone’s making you feel different or separate because of your race, or forming an opinion about you before they even know you.”

  13. Sean Hannity still angered by Obama daughters’ spring break trip

  14. Charles M. Blow‏@CharlesMBlow30m

    45 years ago today: “All we say to America is ‘be true to what you said on paper.'”—MLK, Mountaintop speech

  15. rikyrah says:

    North Carolina’s Turn On The Rack, Again

    By Zandar April 3rd, 2013

    Boy, North Carolina Republicans are really going straight for the insaneotrons, aren’t they.
    A bill filed by Republican lawmakers would allow North Carolina to declare an official religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights, and seeks to nullify any federal ruling against Christian prayer by public bodies statewide.

    The bill grew out of a federal lawsuit filed last month by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. In the lawsuit, the ACLU says the board has opened 97 percent of its meetings since 2007 with explicitly Christian prayers

    But FREEDOM and DON’T TREAD ON ME so we’ll ignore the First Amendment part that says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” and all that. But it gets even more awesome, now with LIBERTY

  16. rikyrah says:

    Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

    by BooMan
    Tue Apr 2nd, 2013 at 12:18:15 PM EST

    Let’s go along with Stu Rothenberg and call it a debate, and not an argument that he’s having with Daily Kos’s Steve Singiser. And let’s credit Rothenberg for conceding many of Singiser’s debating points. I still have a problem with this statement:

    But if the question is whether there is any evidence right now that Democrats can retake the House next year (especially considering historical trends and the number of swing districts), the answer has to be no. This conclusion is based on the evidence now, and if the evidence changes, so could my conclusion

    I conducted my own analysis of the House elections back on November 20th, and I found only 11 seats that the Democrats had a decent chance of winning in 2014. We would need 17 seats to win back control of the lower chamber, so my conclusion was that “The only way we can win back the House is to get on the ground in most of these districts and start organizing.” Yet, that doesn’t mean that I agree with Rothenberg that there are no signs that the Democrats can win back the House. There are signs everywhere. You have defense-oriented conservatives like John McCain and Lindsey Graham fighting with Tea Party-oriented conservatives like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. You have former RNC head Michael Steele fighting with current RNC chairman Reince Preibus. You have cultural conservatives like Gary Bauer and Mike Huckabee fighting with establishment conservatives like Karl Rove and Reince Priebus. You have pro-immigration reform conservatives fighting with anti-immigration reform conservatives. You have CPAC disinviting governors Chris Christie and Bob O’Donnell to their conference. You have Mid-Atantic Republicans like Peter King of Long Island declaring war on southern Republicans over delayed disaster aid. You have an internal battle going on over how to deal with gay marriage. You can see growing public disenchantment with the Republicans’ refusal to compromise, and they’re taking very unpopular positions on background checks for gun purchases that have the support of 90% of the population. Even the latest generic congressional preference poll from the right-leaning Rasmussen has the Democrats with a 7-point advantage (during last November’s election week, it was a 3-point advantage). In February, the DSCC outraised the NRSC by 2-to-1. And no one disputes that the Republicans have nothing like Organizing for America or their brilliant digital staff.

    What more signs does Rothenberg want?

    Of course, the Democrats are still going to have to recruit strong candidates that can win in districts that Romney carried. It’s premature to actually predict that the Democrats will win back the House. But it’s pure blindness to not see how badly the Republican Party has fallen into disarray and infighting in the aftermath of their disastrous election last November.

  17. rikyrah says:

    One of These Things is Not Like the Others

    by BooMan
    Tue Apr 2nd, 2013 at 09:22:22 PM EST

    Possibly because they were bored, Public Policy Polling asked the public about a variety of conspiracy theories. Interestingly, of all the ones they mentioned, the majority of the public only truly subscribes to one. They don’t think Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. In fact, only one in four Americans polled thinks that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. To me, that should withdraw it from the category of conspiracy theory. This is especially true because Congress concluded the same thing. Congress concluded that there was more than one shooter and therefore a conspiracy. They simply refused to endorse any particular theory of who was part of the conspiracy beside Oswald. Nothing else that PPP polled falls into this category. The government has never said that aliens crashed in Roswell or that bin-Laden is still alive or that chemtrails are real or that the moon landing was faked or that the CIA created the crack epidemic on purpose or that global warming is a hoax. Maybe people believe that there was a conspiracy to kill JFK because the government said that there was a conspiracy to kill JFK. It seems awfully strange to marginalize an opinion that has been endorsed by Congress as some kind of tin-foil hat delusion.

    And, yet, one is made to feel defensive about endorsing the government’s own findings. How strange is that?

  18. rikyrah says:

    The Right Leans In

    Lee Fang

    March 26, 2013

    The mood at the beginning of the meeting matched the weather: gray and dreary. The warm-up speaker told a joke about how local Republicans could merit placement on the endangered species list, which met with polite laughter. Talk of the most recent presidential election elicited audible groans.

    Days after Barack Obama took the oath of office for his second term, about 400 GOP donors gathered in a downtown San Francisco hotel to hear Jim DeMint—who had just resigned from the Senate to take a $1-million-a-year job as head of the Heritage Foundation—explain the way forward.

    “This is a battle we can win, and we are winning in many places around the country,” DeMint told the assembled donors confidently. He implored them to look beyond Washington, DC, and see that conservatives were scoring victories in state after state, citing the December move by Michigan Republicans to ram through anti-union legislation, as well as similar laws passed in Wisconsin and Indiana. Some of these victories would influence the Beltway as well. After all, the GOP’s control of state governments guaranteed that congressional districts were drawn in such a way that, in the 2012 elections, Republicans retained a thirty-three-seat majority in the House despite Democrats earning 1.3 million more votes for their candidates.

  19. rikyrah says:

    Rubio’s Immigration Cowardice

    For a while, it seemed like the Florida senator would do the right thing on immigration. Now it’s not so clear. Michael Tomasky on what this means for the future of immigration reform.

    by Michael Tomasky Apr 2, 2013 4:45 AM EDT

    Why were we all talking about Marco Rubio yesterday? Because Marco Rubio made sure of it. His little intervention into the immigration bill was designed to achieve a couple mostly obvious objectives: to make sure Chuck Schumer isn’t the one doing all the public framing of the issue, and to say to the Beltway crowd, or try to say, that he’s the one driving this train. But it was an odd incursion too. Rubio actually deserves credit for some of the steps he’s taken on immigration so far. But what he said over the weekend sounded for all the world like somebody who really secretly wants to kill the bill. He may or may not. But the one thing he definitely does not want to kill is his presidential chances, and it seems he’s figured that the way to do that is to keep his options on immigration open. If passage will help, he’ll push for that. But if it turns out that his party hasn’t changed, doesn’t want to change, that the famous outreach program meets resistance from the in-reach caucus—well then, adios.

    To review. It was a big deal over the weekend when the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO reached an agreement on the temporary and low-skill worker program. That was leaked, probably by the liberal side. Then Schumer—and others, including Republicans—went on the Sunday shows to talk about how the deal among the Senate Gang of Eight that’s been negotiating a bill was basically done.

    And that was the moment Rubio chose to release a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy to say let’s hold our horses. He wrote: “excessive haste in the pursuit of a lasting solution is perhaps even more dangerous to the goals many of us share … A rush to legislate, without fully considering all views and input from all senators, would be fatal to the effort of earning the public’s confidence.”

    Translated from the Senate, what that means is, “I’m not for this yet.” He spoke elsewhere of full hearings and lots of amendments. Everybody who follows the Senate knows that the best way to kill a piece of legislation in the Senate is to have full hearings and lots of amendments. By the time 100 senators finish kneading the dough of a piece of legislation it’s been turned into something a starving child wouldn’t eat. Rubio knows this.

    So he’s trying to do two things here at the same time, things that are completely at odds with each other. On the one hand he wants to be seen as the leader, or at least as the Republican leader, on immigration reform. He wants the spotlight in a big way. Benjy Sarlin of TPM made the keen observation yesterday that this is now the second time in this process that Rubio is “once again setting himself up to claim credit for winning concessions that no one opposed in the first place.”

    On the other hand, he wants to try to protect himself from being damaged too badly if reform collapses. He still isn’t sure, no one is sure, whether the hard-shell elements in the GOP are going to rise up against reform when crunch time hits. No one really knows what the Tea Party view will be (and Rubio of course comes from those swamps). No one yet knows how this border security as a prerequisite or “trigger” for a path to citizenship is going to look, or whether this trigger will even be in the final legislation, and this could be an immense sticking point, turning Limbaugh and the base against reform. So just in case there’s an eruption, Rubio wants to be able to say he was against it from the start.

  20. rikyrah says:

    Don’t Give Up on Guns, Immigration, or a Debt Deal

    It’s unfair to accuse Obama and Congress of foot-dragging, and too soon to assume failure.

    By Jill Lawrence

    Updated: April 2, 2013

    If Franklin Roosevelt were in office today, he’d probably be judged on his first 100 minutes instead of his first 100 days. President Obama still has a month before he reaches that milestone of his second term, but already some pundits are judging him–and Congress–as failures.

    The most angst is centered on gun-control laws, with polls showing public support for new restrictions was higher right after the Dec. 14 massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn. Why hasn’t Congress already acted? The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan asked recently on NBC. Why didn’t Obama lead better, and sooner? asked The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank. How could Obama and Congress have given up so easily on an assault-weapons ban? asks my colleague, Ron Fournier. On the eve of Obama’s trip to Denver, to give his second speech in a week pressing for gun safety measures, the message from some quarters is one of missed opportunities and lost hope.

    Please. Given the state of our nation and our politics, and the molasses-like tempo the Founders ensured with their pesky checks and balances, you could make the case that significant proposals are advancing at breakneck speed. Negotiators on a bipartisan immigration reform package cleared their major policy hurdles by April 1. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is bringing up a gun package next week, and will allow amendments that include the assault-weapons ban. A dim light even remains visible at the far end of the fiscal tunnel, with some in Congress still seeing an opportunity for a major bargain on spending and taxes, if not a grand one. And all this is well within the first 100 days of Obama’s inauguration.

    Results on any of these are not guaranteed, of course, but I don’t buy the argument that more speed or speeches by Obama could have shaped any of these outcomes. The real bottom line is political imperatives. Who needs what, how badly, and how fast?

    The national Republican Party is the neediest political entity out there these days, with its potentially fatal unpopularity among young and minority voters, and an obstructionist image so ingrained that in a new Gallup Poll question about GOP vulnerabilities, the top problem was “unwilling to compromise” and the people who mentioned it most were … Republicans.

    All of those factors are combining to produce what congressional scholar Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute cautiously calls “green shoots.” Ornstein and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution have written two definitive books on Washington dysfunction: The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get it Back on Track (2008), and It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism (2012). They’ve been so pessimistic for so long that it’s notable how relatively sanguine the two are now.

    Mann, about to board a flight, told me in an e-mail this week that “we still might get something useful if not transformative” on guns, but “Obama can do little to speed it or strengthen it.” Immigration, he said, “is coming along and will get done.” As for the budget, the no-tax pledge signed by nearly all Republicans in Congress “remains the big obstacle, but they are working at it.”

  21. rikyrah says:

    Sanford’s success sets stage for S.C. showdown

    By Steve Benen

    Wed Apr 3, 2013 8:00 AM EDT.

    Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) thanks his fiance and former mistress, Maria Belen Chapur, after his primary win

    South Carolina Republican Mark Sanford’s comeback is nearly complete. Three years after the former governor was caught cheating on his wife, lying to the public, misusing public funds, and violating state ethics guidelines, Sanford won a congressional special election primary last night.

    With the results in, the former governor easily dispatched GOP rival Curtis Bostic, 57% to 43%, despite the latter’s support from right-wing allies, including Rick Santorum, Ann Coulter, and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson. Sanford’s win allows him to advance to a general election next month against Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D).

    We don’t generally expect competitive congressional races in May, but this one will likely be a doozy. This is, to be sure, generally considered a safe district for Republicans — it was held by Tim Scott before his appointment to the U.S. Senate, and favored Mitt Romney last year by 18 points — but the far-right’s skepticism of Sanford and Colbert Busch’s acumen as a candidate makes it a contest worth watching.

    Indeed, while the Republican is the favorite, his party is clearly worried.

    Fellow GOP pols don’t like him. Neither do female voters. His campaign is largely an exercise in seeking forgiveness for his transgressions four years ago — a defensive crouch that makes it tricky to take the fight to Colbert Busch, the sister of late-night comedian Stephen Colbert. […]

    The concern among national Republicans that Colbert Busch could steal the 1st District seat is so real that they’re prepared to do whatever it takes to shepherd the former Republican governor to victory — including dumping cash into the race, sources told POLITICO.

    One national GOP official told Politico, “This race is by no means a slam dunk for Republicans. If anyone says they know how this race is going to play out, they’re kidding themselves.”

    This may sound like expectations-setting rhetoric, but in this case, I think it’s sincere.

  22. rikyrah says:

    What troubles Ted Cruz about ‘changes in climate’

    By Steve Benen

    Tue Apr 2, 2013 4:56 PM EDT.

    We talked a couple of weeks ago about Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) annoying his colleagues by objecting to a routine Senate resolution commemorating Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week. It had already been easily endorsed by House Republicans, but the far-right Texan was “unhappy with a clause in the resolution” — perhaps the one about “expanding access to medical treatment” for those affected with multiple sclerosis? — holding up its passage.

    And then it happened again.

    [In March], a deeply noncontroversial Senate resolution commemorating International Women’s Day had to be taken back and edited because someone objected to a paragraph — which had been in an almost identical version passed in the last Congress — stating that women in developing countries “are disproportionately affected by changes in climate because of their need to secure water, food and fuel for their livelihood.”

    You may be wondering who the objecting senator was. Normally, these things are supposed to be kind of confidential, but in this case the lawmaker in question is proud to let you know that he is — yes! — Ted Cruz of Texas.

    “A provision expressing the Senate’s views on such a controversial topic as ‘climate change’ has no place in a supposedly noncontroversial resolution requiring consent of all 100 U.S. senators,” a Cruz spokesman said.

    Keep in mind, the measure didn’t talk about the causes of the climate crisis; it simply acknowledged women that many women the in developing world are affected by the crisis. The same resolution was approved in the last Congress without incident, and there were plenty of right-wing climate deniers in that Congress, too.

    But for Cruz, it was a bridge too far.

  23. rikyrah says:

    What Republicans used to believe on guns

    By Steve Benen
    Tue Apr 2, 2013 3:46 PM EDT.

    Greg Sargent flags a video today that’s almost hard to believe. If anyone needed a reminder about the stunning trajectory of the debate over gun policy, this clip ought to do the trick.

    The video is a 30-second ad recorded by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2000, endorsing an Oregon ballot measure intended to expand firearm background checks. For those who can’t watch clips online, here’s the script:

    “I’m John McCain with some straight talk. Convicted felons have been able to buy and sell thousands of guns at gun shows because of a loophole in the law. Many were later used in crimes. That’s wrong.

    “Here in Oregon, Measure 5 will close this dangerous loophole by requiring criminal background checks by unlicensed dealers at gun shows. I believe law abiding citizens have the right to own guns — but with rights come responsibilities. Close the loophole; vote yes on 5.”

    Keep in mind, this was in 2000 — the year McCain sought the Republican presidential nomination, and won seven primaries.

    Thirteen years later, Republicans not only can’t bring themselves to agree with this same message, they’re actually prepared to kill any legislation that does what McCain wanted to do.

    In other words, in 2000, there was nothing especially shocking about a conservative Republican — someone with an “A” rating from the NRA, who enjoyed a national following — endorsing expanded firearm background checks. In 2013, in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, just about all congressional Republicans consider this idea to be outrageous assault on liberty that must be crushed.

  24. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone. :-)

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