Wednesday Open Thread | Old School Week | The O’Jays

O'Jays8During the remainder of the 1970s the O’Jays continued releasing hit singles, including “Put Your Hands Together” (Pop #10), “For the Love of Money” (Pop #9), “Give the People What They Want“, “Let Me Make Love To You”, “I Love Music” (Pop #5), “Livin’ for the Weekend“, “Message in Our Music” and “Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby (Sweet Tender Love)“. Original member William Powell died of cancer in 1977 at age 35.

After adding Sammy Strain (born December 9, 1941) (of Little Anthony and the Imperials), the O’Jays continued recording, though with limited success. 1978’s “Use ta Be My Girl” was their final Top Five hit, though they continued placing songs on the R&B charts throughout the 1980s. The O’Jays success was not confined to the United States, as they also logged up nine hit singles in the United Kingdom between 1972 and 1983, including four tracks that reached the Top 20 in the UK Singles Chart.[2] Their 1987 album, Let Me Touch You, was a breakthrough of sorts, and included the #1 R&B hit “Lovin’ You”.

About SouthernGirl2

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

  1. rikyrah says:

    Italy Appoints Black Cabinet Minister, Erupts With Racism

    NICOLE WINFIELD May 1, 2013, 12:08 PM

    ROME (AP) — It was hailed as a giant step forward for racial integration in a country that has long been ill at ease with its growing immigrant classes. But Cecile Kyenge’s appointment as Italy’s first black Cabinet minister has instead exposed the nation’s ugly race problem, a blight that flares regularly on the soccer pitch with racist taunts and in the diatribes of xenophobic politicians — but has now raised its head at the center of political life.

    One politician from a party that not long ago ruled in a coalition derided what he called Italy’s new “bonga bonga government.” On Wednesday, amid increasing revulsion over the reaction, the government authorized an investigation into neo-fascist websites whose members called Kyenge “Congolese monkey” and other epithets.

    Kyenge, 48, was born in Congo and moved to Italy three decades ago to study medicine. An eye surgeon, she lives in Modena with her Italian husband and two children. She was active in local center-left politics before winning a seat in the lower Chamber of Deputies in February elections.

    Premier Enrico Letta tapped Kyenge to be minister of integration in his hybrid center-left and center-right government that won its second vote of confidence Tuesday. In his introductory speech to Parliament, Letta touted Kyenge’s appointment as a “new concept about the confines of barriers giving way to hope, of unsurpassable limits giving way to a bridge between diverse communities.”

    His praise and that of others has been almost drowned out by the racist slurs directed at Kyenge by politicians of the anti-immigrant Northern League party, an on-again, off-again ally of long-serving ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, and members of neo-fascist Internet groups.

    In addition to his “bonga bonga” slur, Mario Borghezio, a European parliamentarian for the League, warned in an interview with Radio 24 that Kyenge would try to “impose tribal traditions” from her native Congo on Italy.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/italy-appoints-black-cabinet-minister-erupts-with-racism.php?ref=fpb

  2. rikyrah says:

    The tragedy of Cooper Union
    By Felix Salmon
    April 29, 2013

    This time last year, I wrote about the pressure that public companies face to grow at all costs, and how destructive that pressure can be. Growth is, weirdly, inimical to longevity: if you want something to last for a very, very long time, then what you really want to create is something large — but not huge — and which doesn’t need to grow at all. The world’s oldest companies are nearly all family-owned affairs; they’re big enough to keep those families well-off, and they tend to produce goods or services for which there is a steady demand across the centuries. (Hotels, for instance, or wine.)

    Peter Cooper understood this well. A wealthy man, he owned a lot of land in Manhattan — including the land underneath what is now the Chrysler Building — and he knew that land would, literally, produce healthy rents in perpetuity. A philanthropist, Cooper knew exactly what he wanted those rents to be spent on: he created the Cooper Union, a college with the defining characteristic that it would charge its students nothing. It was — and is — a noble cause. And in the early days, its trustees quite literally bought into that cause: they helped out with its endowment, and covered its deficits in years where it lost money.

    Cooper understood that free education doesn’t really scale. If you’re charging, then extra students provide extra income which can pay for extra teachers and administrators and buildings. But if you’re giving education away for free, then it’s imperative that you operate strictly within your means. The only way to grow is if you persuade some new generations of wealthy benefactors to contribute their own money or land. But at Cooper Union, that hasn’t happened for many decades.

    As a result, Cooper Union has always been an extremely special educational institution, the kind of place where a little went a very long way. The faculty was not well paid; the facilities were bare-bones. But the students were fantastic, because Cooper could pick the very best of the very best. And the college’s overriding social mission engendered a huge amount of loyalty and love for the institution, as well as being reflected deep in its curricula. Here’s Sangamithra Iyer, for instance:

    ………………………………

    The bland name for the building is a symptom of the fact that Cooper’s capital campaign, designed to raise the money for its construction, was a massive flop: no one gave remotely enough money to justify putting their name on the building. It’s also a symptom of the fact that no one on the board had any appetite for naming it after George Campbell, the main architect of the scheme which involved going massively into debt in order to construct this white elephant.

    Campbell, pictured grinning widely in a now-notorious 2009 WSJ article, claimed that Cooper was a financial success story when in fact it was on the verge of collapse. He’s the single biggest individual villain in the Cooper story, and it’s a vicious irony that Cooper’s latest Form 990 shows him being paid $1,307,483 in 2011 — after he left Cooper’s presidency. (Cooper Union explains that the amount represents six years of “deferred compensation/retention payments”, but the timing couldn’t be worse.)

    Campbell’s enablers and cheering squad were a small group of trustees, many of them Cooper-trained engineers gone Wall Street, who had so internalized the ethos of the financial world that it never occurred to them that they shouldn’t be constantly trying to get bigger and better and shinier. Campbell was paid $668,473 in his last year at Cooper — he was one of the highest-paid college presidents in the country, despite running a naturally small institution with serious space and money constraints. Board-member financiers enabled his dreams of growth and glory, hoping that some of the glamor from the newly-revitalized institution would reflect back on themselves. Naturally, when the whole project turned out to be a disaster, they scurried ignobly off the board as fast as they could.

    http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2013/04/29/the-tragedy-of-cooper-union/

  3. Ametia says:

    Breaking News: Greg Street, “R.I.P to Chris Kelly” (Of Kriss Kross)

    Sad to hear the loss of my lil homie, Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly. I met him and Chris “Daddy Mac” Smith in ’93. Their song “Jump” had been #1 on the billboard charts for eight weeks. Everyone knows Kriss Kross for their music and the crazy way they used to dress, but once they started working with So So Def, they became family.

    Kriss Kross just performed at the 20th anniversary of So So Def.

    Around 7:45 I received a phone call from his cousin saying they had found Kelly at the house just 20 minutes earlier and he was unresponsive.

    I just received confirmation that he has passed.

    http://v103.cbslocal.com/2013/05/01/breaking-news-greg-street-r-i-p-to-kriss-kelly-of-kriss-kross/

  4. Ametia says:

    Chris Kelly of the 1990s rap duo Kris Kross died on Wednesday, said Betty Honey of the medical examiner’s office in Fulton County, Georgia.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Red States targeting college students who vote in elections, again

    Voter suppression
    May 1, 2013
    By: David Phillip

    First it was North Carolina Republicans who filed a Bill last month that would raise the taxes on the parents of college kids if they register to vote at the school rather than in their parents’ hometown.

    Now, under a new budget amendment filed in the Ohio State Legislature by Republicans, they now want to punish their own ‘State Universities’ if they provide documents enabling their students to register to vote in their college town, rather than in the state where their parents reside. Under the proposed legislation, the Universities would be prohibited from charging those students out-of-state tuition.

    Tuition’s for in-state students and out-of-state students drastically go up if the student is from out of state. The proposed legislation would reduce funds for Ohio’s State Universities which would force them to eliminate some study programs. Student choices on where to get the best education in the fields they are pursuing, would also change.

    In 1979, the Supreme Court affirmed a decision holding that states cannot place unique burdens on college student votes that do not apply to other members of the electorate. But when has the Supreme Court stopped Republicans from trying to get around our voting laws.

    Why are they doing this you might ask? Because the majority of college students who do vote, vote for the Democratic Party.

    As the former New Hampshire House Speaker William O’Brien (R) said when explaining his support for measures to make it harder to vote, “the kids coming out of the schools and basically doing what I did when I was a kid, which is voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do.”

    The Republicans will never end their attempts to suppress voters who predominantly vote for the Democratic Party because the Democratic Party embraces all voting blocks and minority groups, while the Republican Party does just the opposite. Republicans don’t even try to earn their votes, so they make every effort they can to suppress the votes.

    North Carolina, Indiana, New Hampshire, and Ohio have all proposed laws that attack student voters, punish parents, or their own State Universities.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/red-states-targeting-college-students-who-vote-elections-again

  6. rikyrah says:

    Christie Lashes Out at Homeowners Opposed to Sand Dunes
    By Terrence Dopp – May 1, 2013 10:16 AM CT

    New Jersey (STONJ1) Governor Chris Christie, a Republican seeking re-election, lashed out at beachfront homeowners who won’t grant the state permission to build dunes to protect the state’s 127-mile coast after Hurricane Sandy.

    Christie, 50, said residents’ concerns that signing the easements would let the state build boardwalks, snack bars and bathrooms near their homes are off base. The homeowners face a deadline today to sign off on the agreements, or Christie said he plans to disclose the names of holdouts.

    “For those people who don’t want to give us the easements after tomorrow, I want to make it very clear to you that we are building these dunes,” he said yesterday at a town-hall meeting on Long Beach Island, an 18-mile (29-kilometer) stretch of shore towns that swell with summer tourists. “And we are building these dunes whether you consent or not.”

    During the meeting, Christie urged parents in the crowd of more than 500 people to cover their children’s ears and then used an expletive while rejecting homeowners’ objections that easements would allow construction other than dunes.

    “Here’s why they’re really concerned: they don’t want their view blocked,” he said. “Darn right, it’s about money because it almost always is.”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-30/christie-urges-swift-passage-of-n-j-homeowner-tax-credit.html

  7. Ametia says:

    I see Chris Matthews on MSNBC and that SMARMY Erin Burnett on TEA-NN are possessed with the Boston bombers radicalism.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Don’t Use Jason Collins as an Excuse to Blame Homophobia on Black People
    —By Adam Serwer | Wed May. 1, 2013 2:54 PM PDT

    …There was certainly homophobia in the civil rights movement—but in the 1950s and 60s, American society was homophobic, and Pierce offers no evidence that the civil rights movement was more homophobic than any other American institution during that period. Given that one of the architects of the civil rights movement’s nonviolent strategy was Bayard Rustin, it was arguably less homophobic than much of society at the time. With a few notable exceptions, surviving leaders of the movement, from Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), to Rev. James Lawson, to Jesse Jackson, to Julian Bond are all in favor of gay and lesbian rights.

    There’s also little evidence for the proposition that black
    homophobia is “the most virulent and stubborn of all.” Black folks, who were disenfranchised for centuries, didn’t put any of those old anti-sodomy laws on the books. The legal architecture of discrimination based on sexual orientation is one of the few things in America that dates back to colonial times that wasn’t built by black people.

    http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2013/05/jason-collins-charles-pierce-civil-rights-black-homophobia

  9. rikyrah says:

    May 1, 2013 01:42 PM PDT
    Scandal First Look: Fitz and Liv Have a Heated Phoner and the Mole Hunt Digs Up Results

    http://tvline.com/2013/05/01/scandal-season-2-spoilers-fitz-liv-video/

  10. Ametia says:

    Two Kazakh men, Cambridge man, face charges they disposed of laptop, backpack to help Boston Marathon bombing suspect
    (415) 05/01/2013 4:17 PM
    By John R. Ellement, Todd Wallack, Maria Sacchetti and Martin Finucane, Globe Staff

    Two men from Kazakhstan and a man from Cambridge were arrested and charged today in the Boston Marathon bombings investigation, federal prosecutors said.

    Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, both 19 and of New Bedford, were charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice by plotting to dispose of a laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks belonging to bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the US attorney’s office said in a statement.

    Robel Phillipos, 19, of Cambridge was charged with making false statements to law enforcement officials in a terrorism investigation, prosecutors said.

    All three were, or had been, students at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where Tsarnaev, 19, was also a student.

    Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev face maximum sentences of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Phillipos faces a maximum sentence of eight years and a $250,000 fine, prosecutors said.

    At a brief initial appearance this afternoon in US District Court in Boston, Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev waived their right to a bail hearing. They will appear in court again May 14. In a separate hearing, Phillipos also waived his right to a bail hearing. Another hearing was slated in his case for Monday.

    http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2013/05/01/three-additional-people-taken-into-custody-boston-marathon-bombings/dhLzU1e5vfbuhxyjWlBOSP/story.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=cheatsheet_afternoon&cid=newsletter%3Bemail%3Bcheatsheet_afternoon&utm_term=Cheat%20Sheet

  11. rikyrah says:

    The Ghetto Is Public Policy

    The wealth gap is not a mistake. It is the logical outcome of policy and democratic will.

    Ta-Nehisi CoatesMay 1 2013, 9:30 AM ET

    More

    .

    ContractBuying.jpg

    I spent the last week interviewing men and women, and the children of men and women, who bought their homes on contract in Chicago during the 1950s. Contract buying sprang up in Chicago after the federal government effectively refused to insure mortgages for the vast majority of black homeowners, even as it was insuring the mortgages of white homeowners, and encouraged banks to redline black and integrated neighborhoods. The import of mid-20th century housing policy — along with private actions (riots, block-busting, contract lending, covenants) — has been devastating for African Americans.

    Buying on contract meant that you made a down-payment to a speculator. The speculator kept the deed and only turned it over to you after you’d paid the full value of the house — a value determined by the speculator. In the meantime, you were responsible for monthly payments, keeping the house up, and taking care of any problems springing from inspection. If you missed one payment, the speculator could move to evict you and keep all the payments you’d made. Building up equity was impossible, unless — through some Herculean effort — you managed to pay off the entire contract. Very few people did this. The system was set up to keep them from doing it, and allow speculators to get rich through a cycle of evicting and flipping.

    I spent some time talking to a 90-year-old man who’d come up from Mississippi. His family had been reduced to sharecropping after the county government took their land. “In Mississippi, there was no law,” he told me. There was no law in Chicago either. The gentleman purchased his home for $26,000. He later found out that the deed-holder had purchased the same home — only weeks before — for $9,000.

    Above is a picture I took of a chart showing how the scheme could work. The chart was produced by activist lawyers in the late 60s trying to demonstrate the effects of contract buying. There are four columns “Documented Price Paid By Speculator,” “Documented Price Change To Negro Buyer,” “Markup,” “Approximate Additional Interest,” and “Total Additional Charges.” In that chart you can literally see black wealth leaving one neighborhood and migrating to another. It was not just legal. It was the whole point.

    Jim Crow — Northern or Southern — is usually rendered to us as an archaic system in which people irrationally decide to separate from each other just based on skin color. There’s a reason that so many of us remember Martin Luther King’s line about little white boys and little black boys holding hands. It’s comforting to us. Less comforting is that fact that Jim Crow amounted to the legal pilfering of resources from the black communities to advantage white people across generations. In Mississippi, it meant the right to reduce someone to sharecropping, or to benefit politically from their census numbers while not giving them any representation, or to tax them for services they did not enjoy equal access to. In Chicago, it meant the legalized theft of black wealth by white agents.

    It is very hard to accept this — the wealth gap is not a mistake. It is the logical outcome of policy and democratic will. From the streets of Cicero on up, the point was to imprison black people in the black belt and then exploit them. The goal was pursued through public policy, private action, and open terrorism. The goal was accomplished.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/the-ghetto-is-public-policy/275456/

  12. rikyrah says:

    Reports of a ‘train wreck’ have been greatly exaggerated

    By Steve Benen

    Wed May 1, 2013 12:58 PM EDT.

    1

    At yesterday’s White House press conference, Chuck Todd asked President Obama about the challenges associated with implementing the Affordable Care Act. The president didn’t seem concerned, saying implementation is already well underway and the system is “working fine.”

    That assessment is hardly universal. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) caused a stir two weeks ago when he said at a hearing on the law, “I just see a huge train wreck coming down.” David Brooks last week devoted a whole column to his prediction of health care “chaos,” arguing, “It was always going to be difficult to implement Obamacare, but even fervent supporters of the law admit that things are going worse than expected.”

    There have been all kinds of reports of worried officials fretting over hindrances, some substantive, some political.

    And yet, there was Obama yesterday, seemingly undaunted. Is he overlooking the looming “train wreck”? Not really. Jonathan Cohn had a great item this week on the lay of the land, and while he notes the initial adjustment “may not be easy” once full implementation begins next year, some of the recent handwringing is a bit much.

    The challenges are, of course, real. “Obamacare” has to overcome Republican sabotage efforts (at the state and federal levels), establish exchanges (the marketplaces for the uninsured), get the right people into them, and create the bureaucratic infrastructure to make all of this work. Spoiler alert: there will be bumps on this road.

    http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/05/01/18002409-reports-of-a-train-wreck-have-been-greatly-exaggerated?lite

  13. rikyrah says:

    Top liberals throw their weight behind Obama’s housing pick

    Posted by Greg Sargent on May 1, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    submit to reddit

    The news that Obama has nominated Congressman Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Administration, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is potentially a huge deal, with possible long term consequences for untold numbers of struggling homeowners — and, by extension, the health of the economy. There are two key questions to be asked about Watt, who would replace the Bush-appointed Ed DeMarco, who has been widely pilloried by liberals for refusing administration requests to allow Fannie and Freddie to offer debt relief to distressed home borrowers.

    The first: Is he a good pick for progressives and struggling homeowners? The answer to that one will turn on whether he supports using the agencies to relieve distressed home borrowers and whether he supports an aggressive stance towards mortgage lenders and investors when it comes to the ongoing foreclosure crisis.

    The second: Does Watt, who is quite liberal, have any chance at all of getting confirmed in the face of GOP opposition? That’s crucial to the left, because it’s critical that DeMarco be dislodged, in order to help distressed homeowners, which is urgent both for their sake and for the economy.

    On the first point, two top liberals — Senator Elizabeth Warren and Dem Rep. Keith Ellison, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus — both assured me that Watt is a solid choice for the left. “Mel Watt is the strongest consumer advocate you’re going to get,” Ellison told me. “He has a clear record on fighting predatory lending and protecting home owners. He is a key author of Wall Street reform. He is the kind of person homeowners can trust.”

    Indeed, Watt is on record supporting “principal reduction,” i.e., helping distressed borrowers with loans backed up by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Watt, along with other House Dems, signed a letter calling for it to be included in the fiscal cliff deal. So presumably he’ll support it if confirmed to head the new agency, though he should be asked this during the confirmation process.

    Some liberals, such as David Dayen and Matthew Yglesias, have noted that Watt has received a good deal of financial contributions from the banking industry and that he’s likely to be a reliable ally of banks headquartered in his home state of North Carolina. These are legitimate concerns, since the question is whether this would mean Watt would not be confrontational enough with mortgage lenders and investors when it comes to defending homeowners still struggling in the foreclosure crisis. It could allow GOP attacks to muddy the waters on which party is beholden to Wall Street.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/05/01/top-liberals-throw-their-weight-behind-obamas-housing-pick/

  14. rikyrah says:

    why does the GOP hate POTUS?

    A commenter elsewhere:

    Elie Says:

    They hate O because he has them nailed down to their extremist identities with no opportunity to move to reasonability without agreeing with him. They would have preferred for Obama to tack to more leftward stances, which would have vacated a nice, reasonable middle to them, and allowed them to more seriously point out how socialist he is. Instead, they are staked to the right and their only message has to be extreme and right — otherwise they are saying “me too” to Obama. And he isn’t budging off that center. He is also forcing to destroy themselves. In my opinion, THAT is why they hate him.. Oh sure, some number of them don’t like that he is black, or Democratic, or whatever. The main thing though is that he won’t allow them to escape their trap, and they resent the hell out of that..

  15. rikyrah says:

    SG2,

    a gif for you, compliments of Bob Cecsa

    http://bobcesca.thedailybanter.com/files/2013/05/seriously.gif

  16. rikyrah says:

    ‘Downton Abbey’ adds first black character

    May 1, 2013, 11:08 AM EST
    By Tony Maglio
    TheWrap
    It appears that history is catching up with “Downton Abbey.” Or perhaps it’s the other way around.

    “Downton Abbey” has officially added its first black cast member to the show. London-born Gary Carr will join the popular British period drama for its fourth season. Carr has appeared on television series “Bluestone 42” and “Death in Paradise.” Carr will play Jack Ross, a charming and charismatic jazz singer.

    “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes had been criticized for the show’s lack of diversity. While Fellowes said that he wanted to introduce black and Asian characters, he felt beholden to doing so in a manner that would be “historically believable.”

    Gareth Neame, an executive producer of “Downton Abbey,” said in a statement, “We are delighted to introduce another fantastic, dynamic character to ‘Downton Abbey.’ His addition will bring interesting twists to the drama which we can’t wait for viewers to see in Series four.”

    Other new cast members include: Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Nigel Harman, Joanna David and Dame Harriet Walter.

    http://tv.msn.com/tv/article.aspx?news=805422

    Here’s a pic:

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1503376128/nm3338149

    • Ametia says:

      Interesting how these shows have to somehow find a way to introduce POC into their scripts. It’s the time period pieces like D.A., that are facinating to observe. It’s going to be a sheer delight watching Gary Carr and his character.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Toomey’s candor sheds light on post-policy party
    By Steve Benen
    Wed May 1, 2013 11:37 AM EDT.

    When Senate Republicans last week killed expanded background checks on firearms purchases, they were taking a political risk. After all, it was only four months after a massacre at an elementary school, and the bipartisan proposal enjoyed overwhelming support from the public. Some of the senators who supported the Republican filibuster are now paying a steep price.

    So why did GOP senator put aside common sense and popular will? According to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who co-authored the bipartisan measure, it wasn’t just about the gun lobby — some of his Republican colleagues didn’t want to “be seen helping the president.”

    “In the end it didn’t pass because we’re so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it,” Toomey admitted on Tuesday in an interview with Digital First Media editors in the offices of the Times Herald newspaper in Norristown, Pa.

    Later, Toomey tried to walk that back a bit, saying he was referring not just to Senate Republicans, but also Republican voters, but I think in this case, Toomey’s original line was his honest assessment. Indeed, the clarification doesn’t even make sense — GOP voters “did not want to be seen helping the president”? C’mon.

    http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/05/01/18001650-toomeys-candor-sheds-light-on-post-policy-party?lite

  18. rikyrah says:

    Vitter, Inhofe have curious standards for ‘transparency’
    By Steve Benen
    Wed May 1, 2013 11:00 AM EDT.

    Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.), neither of whom has ever been celebrated as champions of the environment, have decided to ratchet up their pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency. What seems to be the trouble? According to The Hill, the Republicans want the EPA to detail their relationships with environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, so the public can see how these groups are shaping policy.

    “The American people deserve to understand the process EPA follows when crafting the environmental policies under which they must live,” Inhofe and Vitter wrote Monday in a letter to acting EPA administrator Bob Perciasepe.

    “It is important for Congress to understand the relationship between EPA and nongovernmental organizations, particularly as it relates to the coordination and influence over public policymaking,” the letter stated. “Moreover, these relationships have the potential to push states and other stakeholders out of the process. Accordingly, releasing the correspondence between the EPA and these entitles is in the public interest.”

    The push for EPA transparency seems more petty than substantive. The relationships between most public officials, NGOs, and non-profits are hardly nefarious, and the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency might occasionally seek input from prominent environmental organizations hardly seems worthy of congressional inquiry.

    But for the sake of conversation, let’s say Inhofe and Vitter are on to something here, and in the name of transparency, agencies and departments like the EPA have a responsibility to taxpayers to disclose, in detail, which groups they’ve contacted and why. It’s important to “understand the relationships” because the “coordination” has an “influence over public policymaking.”

    But if that’s true, why not also apply those same standards for disclosure to Sens. Vitter and Inhofe, too?

    ——————————————————————————–

    I think it’d be fascinating, for example, to know which lobbyists are able to have “influence over public policymaking” by meeting with Inhofe, Vitter, and their aides. The far-right senators are worried about the Sierra Club chatting with the EPA about clean-air standards? Fine. I’m worried about ExxonMobil lobbyists chatting with Republican senators about the same thing.

    http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/05/01/18001153-vitter-inhofe-have-curious-standards-for-transparency

  19. Ametia says:

    Tuesday, April 30, 2013
    President Obama Puts on the “Double Cork” for his Brilliant “Race Minstrel” Performance at the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Dinner

    SNIP

    Barack Obama’s genius performance at the 2013 Washington Correspondents’ Dinner was his version of “double corking.”

    Obama’s pretending to be Daniel Day-Lewis, a white man, depicting, the President, a black man, was also a type of “reverse passing.” In a complementary manner, Tracy Morgan, an African-American comedian who deftly manipulated and signified on stereotypes of black authenticity and race on the award winning TV show 30 Rock, was cast as Joe Biden.

    Obama’s double-corked comedy routine, was like the best humor and satire, a means for critique and truth-telling. It was also transgressive and revealing in some quiet, but no less sharp, ways.

    Obama is a man beset by paradoxes. He is the United States’ first black President; he is also a President who just happens to be black. Obama has made the tactical and strategic choice to be silent on matters of black uplift, and how racism continues to negatively impact the life chances of African-Americans and other people of color. Yet, his opponents on the Right have viciously savaged him by mobilizing white racial resentment, overt bigotry, and “dog whistle politics” to suggest that Barack Obama is an illegitimate, black usurper who wants to “oppress” white people.

    SNIP

    Read the rest here:

    http://wearerespectablenegroes.blogspot.com/2013/04/president-obama-puts-on-double-cork-for.html

  20. rikyrah says:

    A House divided against itself

    By Steve Benen

    Wed May 1, 2013 10:00 AM EDT.

    Getty Images

    It didn’t get much attention last week, but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) suffered a significant defeat last week. The Virginia Republican, as part of a larger rebranding campaign, crafted something called the “Helping Sick Americans Now Act,” which intended to transfer money from the Affordable Care Act to high-risk pools for the uninsured.

    Democrats saw through the scheme, but more importantly, House Republicans hated the idea, seeing it as a plan to “fix” Obamacare. Humiliated, Cantor was forced to pull his bill without a vote.

    The overlooked fiasco was a problem House GOP leaders saw coming.

    Less than two weeks ago, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy walked upstairs to Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Capitol office to discuss a sensitive issue: Why did Cantor schedule a vote before McCarthy had the chance to survey Republican support?

    The meeting — described as “tense” by several people familiar with it — ended with McCarthy abruptly standing up and storming out of the room. Aides downplayed the exchange. But a week later, it turned out that McCarthy’s pique was merited: The health care-related bill was suddenly pulled from the floor in what was the most recent stumble for House Republicans.

    If this was a rare misstep, and the Republican-led House ran like a well-oiled governing machine, it’d be easy to overlook. But the trouble with Cantor’s bill appears to be evidence of a much larger and deeper problem.

    We talked a month ago about House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) “Make the Senate go first” rule that effectively takes the House out of the governing process altogether, but Jake Sherman’s report makes it seem as if Boehner doesn’t have much of a choice — this is a House “in chaos.” Republican leader are “talking past each other”; the House conference “is split by warring factions”; and influential outside groups are fighting their ostensible allies.

    It’s ugly, and it’s getting worse.

    ——————————————————————————–

    There appear to be a series of factions, which clearly don’t see eye to eye. Right-wing lawmakers want to invest their time and energy into combating Democrats and voting on health care repeal; Cantor and his allies are focused on rebranding and conservative-friendly solutions; and Boehner has some big-ticket items in mind as he weighs the future of the so-called “Hastert Rule.”

    http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/05/01/18000724-a-house-divided-against-itself?lite

  21. rikyrah says:

    Wake Up, Sheeple!
    By mistermix May 1st, 2013
    The Gay Wizard of Big Data, Nate Silver, has a cool interactive map where you can dial in your prejudices preferences to figure out when each state will “tip” over to the Democrats or the Republicans as the great brown tidal wave of anchor babies is naturalized. That’s cool, and feel free to twiddle with it as much as you’d like, but any liberal/progressive who wants to get something done in the next decade is a fucking idiot if they think that map tells them much.

    The Presidency is important, but it’s the state legislatures, the rural Senate, and the gerrymandered House districts that are kicking our asses. And I predict that we won’t get much help from “big data” or whatever the latest buzzword for “putting stuff in a database and pumping it out with pretty graphs and maps” because that problem is what we trained Computer Scientists call “hard”. It requires a lot of what the kids are calling “time” and “effort”, and the underlying data is not available in an Excel spreadsheet for easy download and manipulation. The map I want to see isn’t one showing me how the browns are going to vote for President, it’s what needs to change in Congress to close Gitmo or pass gun safety legislation.

    If the last five years have shown us anything, it’s that a determined minority rules this country, not a majority, and having the Presidency is a necessary but by no means sufficient condition for passing one’s agenda. Yet the amount of time spent on Presidential reporting by the political press dwarfs all else. The explanation is simple, and it’s the same reason that local papers publish the police blotter: it’s a good way to fill space with easy-to-find information.

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2013/05/01/wake-up-sheeple/

  22. Ametia says:

    Reposting from yesterday’s thread

  23. rikyrah says:

    Obamacare’s New Paperwork Is Simpler than Private Insurers’A reason to hope that implementation won’t go as badly as people fear

    BY JONATHAN COHN

    The “chaos” of Obamacare just got a little less chaotic. On Tuesday morning, the Obama Administration released its new insurance application, for use on the new health insurance marketplaces. The marketplaces are for people without employer-sponsored coverage, and the idea has always been to make the application process as simple as possible.

    Here’s how it’s supposed to work: You go online. You enter some basic information about your family, income, and employment status. You find out what kind of insurance is available to you, whether it’s Medicaid or a regulated private insurance plan. And you find out whether you’re eligible for financial assistance that can reduce the premiums—or, depending on your income, eliminate the premiums altogether.

    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/113075/obamacare-implementation-revised-application-much-simpler-easier#

  24. rikyrah says:

    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka

    New Jersey hospitals see major drop in hospital infections and other preventable problems due to #ObamaCare

  25. rikyrah says:

    April 30, 2013, 3:28 pm

    How Immigration Reform and Demographics Could Change Presidential Math

    By NATE SILVER

    A bill to allow unauthorized immigrants to gain citizenship carries electoral risks and rewards for the Republican Party. On the one hand, if the bill were passed, some of those immigrants would eventually vote. Roughly 80 percent of illegal immigrants are Hispanic, and about 10 percent are Asian — groups that voted heavily Democratic in the last two elections.

    On the other hand, such legislation could plausibly improve the Republican Party’s brand image among Hispanics and Asian-Americans, perhaps allowing the party to fare better among these voters in future elections. Which of these effects would outweigh the other?

    The answer is not necessarily obvious. As Harry J. Enten of The Guardian points out, such immigration reform is unlikely to create an electoral “bonanza” for Democrats, as some faulty attempts to analyze the question have concluded. But whether the legislation could be net-beneficial to the Republican Party depends on the assumptions you make.

    So, I’ve designed a tool, in the form of an interactive graphic, that allows you to make different sets of assumptions about immigration reform, population growth and racial voting patterns. Although the graphic contains a number of simplifications, we hope it will be useful to experiment with.

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/how-immigration-reform-and-demographics-could-change-presidential-math/?smid=tw-fivethirtyeight&seid=auto

  26. rikyrah says:

    The Morning Plum: A good move on the housing crisis

    Posted by Greg Sargent on May 1, 2013 at 9:18 am

    The failure to adequately deal with the ongoing housing and mortgage crisis is one of the more disappointing aspects of Obama’s record, so it’s good to see that he’s nominating a strong pick to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. From the Huffington Post:

    President Barack Obama will nominate Mel Watt, a longtime Democratic congressman from North Carolina, to oversee government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in a move that may give the White House greater control over housing policy.

    Obama will announce his nomination of Watt to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter said. The nomination, subject to Senate approval, would thrust the Yale-educated lawyer into the center of U.S. economic policy as the government weighs how best to maintain the housing recovery while reducing the government’s role in propping up home prices and providing loans.

    Watt would replace the Bush-appointed Ed DeMarco, who has been widely pilloried by liberals for refusing Obama administration requests to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to offer relief to distressed home borrowers. Dems are pointing out this morning that Watt has a record of supporting legislation to fight predatory mortgage lending practices.

    Watt is all but certain to face opposition from Republicans. HuffPo again:

    Many Democrats have argued that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be used to advance policies that would aid the broader housing market, and by extension the economy. Republicans are opposed to using the mortgage financiers as tools for economic or social policy.

    Industry executives and Washington lobbyists view Watt as a potential FHFA chief who would go along with Obama administration requests. For that reason alone, Watt may face an uphill climb to confirmation due to potential Republican opposition. Since its creation in 2008 the FHFA has never had a Senate-confirmed director.

    It will be interesting to see if Republicans filibuster Watt. As one Dem remarked to me this morning, the optics will not be all that great if they block a well-qualified black former member of Congress who is devoted to bringing relief to middle class homeowners amid the continuing housing and mortgage crisis.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/05/01/the-morning-plum-a-good-move-on-the-housing-crisis/

  27. rikyrah says:

    Sen. Boxer To Hold Hearing On West, Texas Chemical Explosion

    Igor Bobic – 3:05 PM EDT, Tuesday April 30, 2013

    Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, announced Tuesday that she plans to schedule a hearing in hopes of investigating safety lapses at a West, Texas fertilizer plant, after a massive April 17 explosion killed 15 people and injured hundreds of others.

    “I cannot rest until we get to the bottom of what caused the disaster in West, Texas and the tragic loss of life,” Boxer said in a statement. “It is critical that we find out how this happened. We must ensure that facilities like the one in West are complying with chemical safety laws. We will look at how the laws on the books are being enforced and whether there is a need to strengthen them.”

    The facility reportedly failed to disclose a massive amount of ammonium nitrate — 1,350 times the maximum limit — that is ordinarily regulated by federal officials.

    http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/sen-boxer-to-hold-hearing-on-west-texas

  28. rikyrah says:

    Special election set for Massachusetts

    By Steve Benen

    Wed May 1, 2013 8:00 AM EDT.

    Yesterday was primary day in Massachusetts, where both major parties held fairly competitive contests in the race to fill Secretary of State John Kerry’s vacancy in the U.S. Senate. As it turns out, the polls were correct: despite low turnout, Rep. Ed Markey won the Democratic nod and Gabriel Gomez won the Republican nomination. The two will meet in a general election in eight weeks.

    If campaigns are about drawing contrasts, the Massachusetts race will be fairly easy: the candidates have very little in common. Markey, for example, is a political veteran with an impressive career in Congress; Gomez’s only previous experience was running for a local office in his small hometown — a race in which he came in third out of three candidates.

    http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/05/01/17999382-special-election-set-for-massachusetts?lite

  29. rikyrah says:

    New Obamacare Application Forms

    By Alex Rogers
    April 30, 2013

    As my colleague Joe Klein reported yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services released today new application forms required for people to join the new health care exchanges in 2014—a three-page application for individuals and a seven-page application for families (11 including the appendix). According to Klein, the average private insurance plan is 17 pages and can go as high as 35. An Administration official told Klein that the new applications took on average seven minutes to fill out in the paper version and less online. Here are the new individual, family, and individual without financial assistance application forms. You can also find them below:

    Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2013/04/30/new-obamacare-application-form/#ixzz2S2xv4Nxy

  30. rikyrah says:

    Ryan’s culture war agenda takes a detour
    By Steve Benen
    Wed May 1, 2013 8:30 AM EDT.

    As recently as a few weeks ago, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) reminded the political world of his aggressive culture-warrior side, speaking to a far-right group and urging his party to never stray from its opposition to reproductive rights. “Our critics say we should abandon our pro-life beliefs. But that would only demoralize our voters,” the congressman said, adding, “We don’t want a country where abortion is simply outlawed. We want a country where it isn’t even considered.”

    But while Ryan is unyielding when it comes to reproductive rights, he’s starting to budge a little when it comes to LGBT rights.

    Asked about his 1999 vote against adoption rights for same-sex couples in the District of Columbia, Ryan admitted that he’s changed his mind.

    “Adoption, I’d vote differently these days,” he said. “That was I think a vote I took in my first term, 1999 or 2000. I do believe that if there are children who are orphans who do not have a loving person or couple, I think if a person wants to love and raise a child they ought to be able to do that. Period.”

    I don’t want to overstate matters, and it’s worth emphasizing that Ryan has not yet changed any of his other views when it comes to gay civil rights — indeed, he reiterated his opposition to marriage equality at the same town-hall meeting — but incremental progress is still progress.

    http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/05/01/17999765-ryans-culture-war-agenda-takes-a-detour?lite

  31. rikyrah says:

    Why the Green Lantern Theory of Presidential Power persists

    Posted by Greg Sargent on April 30, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    At today’s press conference, President Obama spent a fair amount of time pushing back on what some of us are calling the “Green Lantern Theory of Presidential Power.” This theory — which seems to hold broad sway over many in the press — holds that presidents should be able to bend Congress to their will, and any failure to do so proves their weakness and perhaps even their irrelevance.

    What accounts for the persistence of this theory? The answer, I think, lies in the tendency of reporters and analysts who are trying to remain a neutral, nonpartisan posture to feel comfortable making process judgments, but not ideological ones.

    The extent and limits of presidential power were at the center of one of the most interesting exchanges of the day. ABC News’s Jonathan Karl asked this question:

    Mr. President, you are a hundred days into your second term. On the gun bill, you put, it seems, everything into it to try to get it passed. Obviously, it didn’t. Congress has ignored your efforts to try to get them to undo these sequester cuts. There was even a bill that you threatened to veto that got 92 Democrats in the House voting yes. So my question to you is do you still have the juice to get the rest of your agenda through this Congress?

    Obama answered that Republicans have the option of cooperating with him to avert the sequester. He also said:

    You seem to suggest that somehow, these folks over there have no responsibilities and that my job is to somehow get them to behave. That’s their job. They are elected, members of Congress are elected in order to do what’s right for their constituencies and for the American people. So if, in fact, they are seriously concerned about passenger convenience and safety, then they shouldn’t just be thinking about tomorrow or next week or the week after that; they should be thinking about what’s going to happen five years from now, 10 years from now or 15 years from now. The only way to do that is for them to engage with me on coming up with a broader deal. And that’s exactly what I’m trying to do is to continue to talk to them about are there ways for us to fix this.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/04/30/why-the-green-lantern-theory-of-presidential-power-persists/

  32. rikyrah says:

    Will Obamacare implementation be a major issue in 2014?

    Posted by Greg Sargent on April 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    At his presser today, President Obama was asked to respond to the fact that even some Democrats are worrying that implementation of Obamacare could create major problems. In response, Obama conceded that setting up the exchanges is a complicated task, and he acknowledged that GOP efforts to stymie the law on the state level were making implementation difficult.

    But Obama also argued that implementation would likely only impact a small portion of the population, and concluded:

    “The last point I’ll make, even if we do everything perfectly, there’ll still be, you know, glitches and bumps, and there’ll be stories that can be written that says, oh, look, this thing’s, you know, not working the way it’s supposed to, and this happened and that happened. And that’s pretty much true of every government program that’s ever been set up.

    “But if we stay with it and we understand what our long-term objective is, which is making sure that in a country as wealthy as ours, nobody should go bankrupt if they get sick and that we would rather have people getting regular checkups than going to the emergency room because they don’t have health care — if — if we keep that in mind, then we’re going to be able to drive down costs, we’re going to be able to improve efficiencies in the system, we’re going to be able to see people benefit form better health care, and that will save the country money as a whole over the long term.”

    A few points about this. First, when Congressional Democrats openly worry about implementation, that’s not necessarily a bad thing: That’s what they are supposed to be doing, i.e, calling for the policy to be executed successfully. There are certainly more constructive or less constructive ways for Dems to do this – Max Baucus’s “train wreck” comment is decidedly in the latter category — but calling for attention to be paid to implementation does not necessarily constitute running away from the law politically. Indeed, Democrats and Democratic candidates can — and should — criticize implementation where it’s falling short, while not tarring the law or its goals as a whole. That shouldn’t be too difficult a balance to strike. Indeed, if they do strike that balance, it could go some way towards insulating them from political blowback over implementation’s problems.

    Republicans are very confident that pending implementation difficulties will give them a major issue in 2014 in a way it didn’t in the last cycle. There’s no denying that there will be problems. But as Jonathan Cohn has explained at length, whatever problems we do encounter will be far, far preferable to the pre-reform status quo and even to the present. This isn’t to say that if implementation does go badly that it won’t be somewhat politically problematic. It may well be; a lot will turn on who is impacted and how. But Obamacare — as a whole, at least — has polled badly from the outset, even in years such as 2012 where Democrats won across the board, despite truly enormous GOP expenditures on ads attacking Democratic candidates over the law. Given that context, it’s hard to see how implementation challenges could produce that big an additional swing against Obamacare, let alone one that would be decisive in multiple Congressional elections.

    Finally, can Republicans really reap huge political dividends from implementation failures if they continue to call for full repeal of the law – which continues to be the de facto party-wide position, one demanded by the base – while failing to offer any meaningful alternative to replace it?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/04/30/will-obamacare-implementation-be-a-major-issue-in-2014/

  33. rikyrah says:

    @davidplouffe
    In today’s GOP, Ted Cruz is a plausible ‘nominee. Which would lead to an R elect college disaster. And the undertow could sweep away many.

  34. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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