Friday Open Thread | Frank Sinatra Week

Good Morning.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week with Frank Sinatra.

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Sinatra started the 1960s as he ended the 1950s. His first album of the decade, Nice ‘n’ Easy, topped Billboard’s chart and won critical plaudits. Sinatra grew discontented at Capitol and decided to form his own label, Reprise Records. His first album on the label, Ring-A-Ding Ding! (1961), was a major success, peaking at No.4 on Billboard and No.8 in the UK.

His fourth and final Timex TV special was broadcast in March 1960, and earned massive viewing figures. Titled It’s Nice to Go Travelling, the show is more commonly known as Welcome Home Elvis. Elvis Presley’s appearance after his army discharge was somewhat ironic; Sinatra had been scathing about him in the mid fifties, saying: “His kind of music is deplorable, a rancid smelling aphrodisiac. It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people.”[36] Presley had responded: “… [Sinatra] is a great success and a fine actor, but I think he shouldn’t have said it… [rock and roll] is a trend, just the same as he faced when he started years ago.”[37] Later, in efforts to maintain his commercial viability, Sinatra recorded Presley’s hit “Love Me Tender” as well as works by Paul Simon (“Mrs. Robinson”), The Beatles (“Something”, “Yesterday”), and Joni Mitchell (“Both Sides, Now”).[38]

Following on the heels of the film Can Can was Ocean’s 11, the movie that became the definitive on-screen outing for “The Rat Pack,” a group of entertainers led by Sinatra who worked together on a loose basis in films and casino shows featuring Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. Subsequent pictures together included Sergeants 3 and Robin and the 7 Hoods, although the movies’ rosters of actors varied slightly according to whom Sinatra happened to be angry with when casting any given film; he replaced Sammy Davis, Jr. with Steve McQueen in Never So Few and Peter Lawford with Bing Crosby in Robin and the 7 Hoods.

From his youth, Sinatra displayed sympathy for African Americans and worked both publicly and privately all his life to help them win equal rights. He played a major role in the desegregation of Nevada hotels and casinos in the 1960s. On January 27, 1961, Sinatra played a benefit show at Carnegie Hall for Martin Luther King, Jr. and led his fellow Rat Pack members and Reprise label mates in boycotting hotels and casinos that refused entry to black patrons and performers. He often spoke from the stage on desegregation and repeatedly played benefits on behalf of Dr. King and his movement. According to his son, Frank Sinatra, Jr., King sat weeping in the audience at a concert in 1963 as Sinatra sang Ol’ Man River, a song from the musical Show Boat that is sung by an African-American stevedore.

On September 11 and 12, 1961, Sinatra recorded his final songs for Capitol.

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In 1962, he starred with Janet Leigh and Laurence Harvey in the political thriller, The Manchurian Candidate, playing Bennett Marco. That same year, Sinatra and Count Basie collaborated for the album Sinatra-Basie. This popular and successful release prompted them to rejoin two years later for the follow-up It Might as Well Be Swing, which was arranged by Quincy Jones. One of Sinatra’s more ambitious albums from the mid-1960s, The Concert Sinatra, with a 73-piece symphony orchestra led by Nelson Riddle, was recorded on a motion picture scoring stage with the use of multiple synchronized recording machines that employed 35mm magnetic film (multi-track master tape machines were not yet a reality in the recording studio).

Sinatra’s first live album, Sinatra at the Sands, was recorded during January and February 1966 at the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra

In June 1965, Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Dean Martin played live in St. Louis to benefit Dismas House. The Rat Pack concert was broadcast live via satellite to numerous movie theaters across America. Released in August 1965 was the Grammy Award–winning album of the year, September of My Years, containing the single “It Was a Very Good Year”, which won the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male in 1966. A career anthology, A Man and His Music, followed in November, winning Album of the Year at the Grammys in 1966. The TV special, Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music, garnered both an Emmy award and a Peabody Award.

In the spring, That’s Life appeared, with both the single and album becoming Top Ten hits in the US on Billboard’s pop charts. Strangers in the Night went on to top the Billboard and UK pop singles charts, winning the award for Record of the Year at the Grammys. The album of the same name also topped the Billboard chart and reached number 4 in the UK.

Sinatra started 1967 with a series of important recording sessions with Antônio Carlos Jobim. Later in the year, a duet with daughter Nancy, “Somethin’ Stupid”, topped the Billboard pop and UK singles charts. In December, Sinatra collaborated with Duke Ellington on the album Francis A. & Edward K..

During the late 1960s, press agent Lee Solters would invite columnists and their spouses into Sinatra’s dressing room just before he was about to go on stage. The New Yorker recounted that “the first columnist they tried this on was Larry Fields of the Philadelphia Daily News, whose wife fainted when Sinatra kissed her cheek. ‘Take care of it, Lee,’ Sinatra said, and he was off.” The professional relationship Sinatra shared with Solters focused on projects on the west coast while those focused on the east coast were handled by Solters’ partner, Sheldon Roskin of Solters/Roskin/Friedman, a well-known firm at the time.[39]

Back on the small-screen, Sinatra once again worked with Jobim and Ella Fitzgerald on the TV special, A Man and His Music + Ella + Jobim.

With Sinatra in mind, singer-songwriter Paul Anka wrote the song “My Way”, inspired from the French “Comme d’habitude” (“As Usual”), composed by Claude François and Jacques Revaux. “My Way” would, ironically, become more closely identified with him than any other song over his seven decades as a singer even though he reputedly did not care for it. The chorus of Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” (subsequently covered by Paul Anka on Rock Swings) references the song in the line “My heart is like an open highway/Like Frankie said, I did it my way.”

Watertown (1970) was one of Sinatra’s most acclaimed concept albums[40] with music by Bob Gaudio (of the Four Seasons) and lyrics by Jake Holmes, but it was all but ignored by the public. Selling a mere 30,000 copies in 1970 and reaching a peak chart position of 101, its failure put an end to plans for a television special based on the album. Watertown was one of the only recording sessions having Sinatra sing against pre-recorded tracks vs. a live orchestra

On June 13, 1971 – at a concert in Hollywood to raise money for the Motion Picture and TV Relief Fund – at the age of 55, Sinatra announced that he was retiring, bringing to an end his 36-year career in show business.


In 1980, Sinatra’s first album in six years was released, Trilogy: Past Present Future, a highly ambitious triple album that found Sinatra recording songs from the past (pre-rock era) and present (rock era and contemporary) that he had overlooked during his career, while ‘The Future’ was a free-form suite of new songs linked à la musical theater by a theme, in this case, Sinatra pondering over the future. The album garnered six Grammy nominations – winning for best liner notes – and peaked at number 17 on Billboard’s album chart, while spawning yet another song that would become a signature tune, “Theme from New York, New York”, as well as Sinatra’s much lauded (second) recording of George Harrison’s “Something” (the first was not officially released on an album until 1972’s Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2).

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64 Responses to Friday Open Thread | Frank Sinatra Week

  1. rikyrah says:

    Not Too Shabby So Far: Obama’s Judicial Legacy

    Liberals may not be happy about the rate at which Obama has filled vacancies, but they ought to give him credit for significantly increasing diversity on the federal bench. And he still has three years to go

    Paul Waldman

    May 31, 2013


    Earlier this week, the White House announced that President Barack Obama would name nominees to fill three vacant seats on the D.C. Circuit Court, touching off a new battle between the White House and Republicans over filibusters and presidential privileges. Despite the fact that appointing judges is one of the powers given to every president by the Constitution, some Republicans reacted as though Obama were doing something horrible by fulfilling this obligation. (You’d almost think they didn’t accept the legitimacy of his presidency.) In any case, this argument is likely to heat up over the next few weeks, so we might benefit from some context as charges and counter-charges start flying.

    While the White House blames Republican obstruction for the large number of vacancies, that’s only part of the story, the other part being that the White House has been slow to name nominees for many of these seats. For instance, during his first term, Obama took an average of 406 days to fill each district-court vacancy, compared to 370 days for Bill Clinton and only 276 days for George W. Bush.

    Not only that, Obama’s nominees have been slightly older on average than those of his two predecessors (meaning they’ll serve for less time in the future). From the first year of his presidency, liberals have also complained that his nominees are too centrist, in contrast with prior presidents (particularly Ronald Reagan) who moved aggressively to install as many ideologues on the bench as possible. Whether this is a function of Obama’s timidity or a realistic expectation of what will produce implacable Republican opposition is debatable, but as Dahlia Lithwick has written, “a liberal jurist can be disqualified from a judicial confirmation hearing for expressing a single progressive idea in a law review article, whereas when it comes to conservative judicial nominees extreme and full-throated ideological exhortations are usually an added bonus.”

    Yet despite very real Republican obstruction of many nominees, when it comes to getting his nominees confirmed, Obama is not doing too much worse overall than his predecessors. According to the Alliance for Justice, at this point in his term, Clinton had seen 86 percent of his district-court nominees confirmed and 74 percent of his circuit-court nominees confirmed. Obama’s numbers are a nearly identical 85 percent and 77 percent, respectively. George W. Bush did much better on his district-court nominees, getting 98 percent confirmed by May of his fifth year in office, but slightly worse on his circuit-court nominees, at 69 percent.


    Liberals may not be happy about the rate at which Obama has filled vacancies, but they ought to give him credit for significantly increasing diversity on the federal bench. Prior presidents, particularly Republican ones, appointed men almost exclusively; for instance, though Ronald Reagan appointed the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court, she didn’t have a lot of company, as 92 percent of the judges Reagan selected were male. Even in the Clinton years, male appointees outnumbered females by more than 2 to 1. Obama, on the other hand, has gotten in the general vicinity of an even split; 57 percent of his appointees are men, and 43 percent are women.

    Obama’s record on racial diversity may be even better. Non-Hispanic whites are currently 64 percent of the population, but in prior presidencies, they made up a higher proportion of judicial nominees (especially that of Reagan, whose appointees were 94 percent white). But Obama’s nominees have been only 62 percent white. Blacks made up 19 percent of those he has put up for federal judgeships, Hispanics 12 percent, and Asian Americans 7 percent

  2. rikyrah says:

    There are real differences between us
    May 31, 2013 at 12:50 pm
    Aaron Carroll

    There are many times when it seems politically savvy to highlight the similarities between the positions we and those who disagree with us hold. But there are times when we do that too much. I’ve been thinking about that as I’ve watched the recent debate about “catastrophic” insurance and how “higher copays” are what’s bringing down health care spending.

    Let there be no hedging here. The RAND HIE showed that if you make people pay more of their own money for care, they spend less. Overall health care spending can go down. This is known, and no one here disputes that. The subtlety is that it turned out that people in the study were somewhat lacking in their ability to discriminate between necessary and unnecessary care. Sick, poor people had a higher mortality.

    If your main goal is to bring down health care spending, then go with high deductible plans. The tradeoff is that the health of the population may suffer. If your main goal is to improve the health of a population, then lower the deductible. The tradeoff is that spending will go up. These are two different goals, with different tradeoffs.

    As I have said many, many times: I believe the main goal of the ACA was to improve access. It was to reduce the number of people in the United States who lacked health insurance. I think in defining access, it was also a progressive policy in that it stipulated that insurance should meet certain minimum standards. The tradeoff for this is that it cost money, about a trillion dollars over a decade.

    Anyone who loves high deductible plans usually acknowledges that they are awesome for young, healthy people. They are. No one disputes that. By definition, young, healthy people don’t need care, so getting them to spend less is a pure benefit. The tradeoff is that it removes those people from the risk pool for other plans, which makes the insurance for sick or not-young people that much more expensive. If your goal is to maximize the freedom of young, healthy people, then you probably favor more HSAs and HDHCPs. But if your goal is minimize the cost for the entire risk pool, then you probably favor the ACA. In fact, you probably favor a single-payer system. But we compromise for political feasibility sometimes.

    If your main goal is to protect young healthy people from insurance that costs more than it could, then that’s fine. But I don’t think that’s what most people who supported or wrote the ACA held as a main goal. Maybe they weren’t clear about that. Take that up with them. That’s a political discussion. But from a policy perspective, it’s been pretty clear what the ACA was supposed to do.

    So I’ll state this for the record: I think that some young, healthy people are getting the shaft right now. Not all, because some can still get on their parents’ plans. Some can still still buy catastrophic insurance if they want. Some will get Medicaid. Some will get subsidies. But if you’re a young, healthy 28 year old male who makes 400% of the poverty line, and you currently have really cheap insurance, it’s likely your rates are going up.

    OK? I freely admit that my goal in health care reform was not to protect the status quo for young, healthy males. That’s wasn’t my goal for reform.

    They will have to pay a bit more. The tradeoff is that if they don’t stay healthy, they’ll still be able to get insurance for the same price. If they get sick, there will no longer be any lifetime or annual limits. When they get older, they’ll still be able to get a plan, and it won’t cost nearly as much as it otherwise would have.

    I think these tradeoffs are acceptable. You may not; that’s why we live in a democracy. But this was the plan. The law has not been rewritten. This blog, and many others, have been consistent in what they say about it. There is no “gotcha” here. The fact that young, healthy people are seeing a rise in premiums (without subsidies) as they transition from cheap, bare bones insurance to more comprehensive insurance is not a surprise. It’s not new, horrifying data about the failure of Obamacare. It’s an expected, and known, tradeoff to get a better healthcare system overall.

    You’re still free to disagree that the system will be better. I’m sure that debate will continue for some time. But let’s acknowledge that we do differ in what we want out of policy and be honest about what we value.

  3. rikyrah says:

    The Morning Plum: Republicans worry about attacking Obama too aggressively

    By Greg Sargent, Published: May 31, 2013 at 9:24 amE-mail the writer

    Ever since Beltway scandal-mania broke out, Republicans have struggled over how openly to acknowledge that pursuing the various scandals is all about weakening President Obama. This has created some comically contradictory messaging.

    House GOP investigations chief Darrell Issa recently insisted that the scandals are not ”about President Obama,” claiming Republicans are “not accusing the president” of anything yet. At the same time, though, Mitch McConnell has released a web video tying Obama himself directly to Nixon, and multiple Republicans keep blaming the scandals on an alleged “culture of intimidation” that flows directly from the top.

    The contradiction highlights what appears to be genuine worry among Republicans about overreaching in their efforts to use these scandals to attack the President, risking a voter backlash similar to the one Republican suffered in the 1998 midterms.

    But don’t take my word for it. In a must-read in the New York Times today, Republican officials confirm this to be the case. They warn the GOP against attacking Obama too directly, given his high favorability ratings, and openly worry about a rerun of the 1990s

    “I don’t think I’d personalize it,” said John Linder, the former congressman from Georgia who ran the National Republican Congressional Committee during the late 1990s while Newt Gingrich and House Republicans were preparing an impeachment case against President Bill Clinton. Mr. Linder said he fought and lost a battle with Mr. Gingrich over their strategy in the 1998 midterm elections, which Mr. Gingrich thought should be focused on assailing Mr. Clinton’s character.

    “I didn’t want to talk about Clinton at all,” Mr. Linder recalled, saying the same logic should apply today. “Obama was not in the Justice Department. Obama was not working in the I.R.S.” His advice? “Don’t overreach,” he said

    In the fall of 1998, Republicans poured tens of millions of dollars into a television ad campaign with slogans like “Honesty does matter,” a thinly veiled reference to Mr. Clinton’s duplicity about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. They lost big that year, and it marked the first time since 1822 that the party that held the White House gained seats in the House of Representatives during a second term.

  4. rikyrah says:

    I don’t know who’s more shocked…me or Speaker of the Illinois House Michael Madigan.

    Massa Michael Madigan just doesn’t lose.

    Not on his plantation

    Madigan’s pension-reform package goes down in flames


    A pension-reform package crafted by House Speaker Michael Madigan went down to spectacular defeat in the state Senate Thursday, thrusting the search for a solution to Illinois’ nearly $100 million pension crisis into legislative chaos.

    The bill’s demise came as the Democratic-led House and Senate faced a scheduled midnight Friday adjournment with no apparent breakthroughs on the spring legislative session’s biggest issues: pension reform, legalization of same-sex marriage, allowing people to carry concealed weapons and authorization for casinos in Chicago, the south suburbs and Lake County.

    With those issues seemingly mired in legislative tar, the House approved a sprawling economic-development package that would fund a new DePaul University basketball arena near McCormick Place and possibly jumpstart a south-suburban airport at Peotone. That measure, pushed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and backed by Gov. Pat Quinn, now moves to the Senate.

    But the 16-42 Senate vote on pension legislation opposed by the state’s largest public-sector unions unleashed a display of apparent bitterness from Madigan (D-Chicago) that seemingly targeted Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) for not turning the tide in favor of the pension package.

    “It’s a lack of leadership,” Madigan told the Chicago Sun-Times.

  5. rikyrah says:

    No same-sex marriage vote until November: ‘I’ve never been sadder,’ sponsor says

    BY DAVE MCKINNEY Springfield bureau chief May 31, 2013 4:18PM

    Gay and lesbian couples who want to legally marry in Illinois willl have to wait.

    His voice breaking with emotion, state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) tearfully said Friday that he will not call for a vote on his bill legalizing same-sex marriage before the session adjourns in a few hours.

    As chief sponsor of this legislation, decisions surrounding the legislation are mine and mine alone. Several of my colleages have indicated they’d not be willing to cast a vote on this bill today, Harris said shortly after 7 p.m.

    “And I’ve never been sadder to accept this request, but I have to keep my eye, as we all must, on the ultimate prize. They’ve asked for time to go back to their districts, talk to their constituents and reach out to their minds and hearts and have told me they’ll return in November with their word that they’re prepared to support this legislation.

    “And I take my colleagues at their word they shall.”

    His short speech was interrupted by shouts of protest from same-sex couples who came to Springfield in hopes of witnessing history.


    Harris and other supporters of same-sex marriage have had 105 days to amass the necessary 60 House votes to get the measure to Quinn’s desk since the Illinois Senate’s Valentine’s Day vote in support of the bill.

    But that 60-vote threshold has been illusory despite high-profile encouragement from former President Bill Clinton and Obama, during his appearance in Chicago this week.

    Stubborn resistance within the House Black Caucus, a 20-member bloc of African-American lawmakers who have faced a withering lobbying blitz against the plan from black ministers, has helped keep Harris’ legislation in check, with several House members still undecided.

    “For me, there’s really no net gain for me one way or another. I’m hearing equally. Do I philosophically disagree? No, I don’t. But I would like to see absolute protections for churches and religious organizations so they’re not pushed into something they don’t want,” said Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood). “For me, [a decision] will literally be when the bill comes up and after I sit and listen.”

    Several in the caucus have urged Harris to push the issue into the fall veto session — after which nominating petitions for the 2014 ballot have to be filed — to bring up same-sex marriage for a House vote.

    “The sense I have is blacks are tired of being lobbied or targeted. They’ve kind of turned back on some of the advocates and lobbyists and are asking, ‘Why don’t you get some Republicans?’” one high-level Democratic insider said Friday.

  6. rikyrah says:

    To Be Young and Black in America: Always Considered a Threat
    Mychal Denzel Smith on May 31, 2013 – 2:05 PM ET

    Over the course of my 26 years, I’ve developed three responses to most news headlines: “Couldn’t have been a black person,” “Please, Lord, don’t let it be a black person,” and “Oh, that was definitely a black person.”

    Miami-Dade police officers pinned a 14-year-old to the ground and put him in a chokehold after the teen gave them, in their words, a “dehumanizing stare” and clenched his fists. Can you guess which response I had?

    Tremaine McMillian was walking the beach on Memorial Day when police officers riding an ATV approached him and another teen to tell them their roughhousing was unacceptable behavior. The officers asked McMillian where his parents were, and as he walked away from them (McMillian says he was walking toward his mother, in an effort to answer the officer’s inquiry as to where his parents were) they jumped off the ATV and restrained McMillian. They choked the teen until he could not breathe and he urinated himself. The six-week-old puppy McMillian was holding and feeding when the officers approached him was also injured.

    Tremaine is being charged with felony resisting arrest with violence and disorderly conduct.

    I saw the story making the rounds of my social media networks and knew without clicking any links that the 14-year-old in question was black. And not because the headlines identified him as such, or because I saw that his name was Tremaine, or because I was there and witnessed the whole thing, but because racism is predictable. It’s the most consistent thing in my life.

    Also predictable is the trying to pretend this isn’t racism. Attempting to justify the use of force in this situation, Detective Alvaro Zabaleta said: “Of course we have to neutralize the threat in front of us. And when you have somebody that is being resistant, somebody that is pulling away from you, somebody that’s clenching their fist, somebody that’s flaring their arms, that’s the immediate threat.” You see, this had nothing to do with racism, it’s just the police doing their job.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Democrats come to Holder’s defense
    By Jonathan Easley – 05/31/13 12:14 PM ET

    Former Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Friday spoke out in defense of embattled Attorney General Eric Holder, saying that the Justice Department’s surveillance of reporters was justified by the executive branch’s responsibility to protect national security secrets.

    Speaking on MSNBC’s “Jansing & Co.,” Van Hollen was asked if Holder should resign.

    Of course not. The attorney general has not in any way broken the law,” he said. “There are questions about whether or not these investigations were conducted in the most sensitive way … but the reality is the White House, the executive branch, all of us, have an obligation to make sure that important and sensitive national security information that can put lives at risk is not leaked, and we can do that, I think consistent with the very important First Amendment right and the rights of the press.”

  8. rikyrah says:

    Think Harder

    by BooMan
    Fri May 31st, 2013 at 03:45:13 PM EST

    Paul Krugman is pissed off that the Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee are looking to slash spending on food stamps. But, as Steven points out, food assistance is one of those things that conservatives and libertarians really hate. They can’t stand anyone getting a meal for free. It’s the principle of the thing. They don’t care that food stamps prevent malnutrition in children or that food stamps are calculated by both governmental and independent analysts to be one the most efficient forms of stimulus for the economy. Giving people food assistance in a down economy actually creates jobs and helps end recessions. Even if preventing people from starving or suffering from malnutrition were not the right thing to do, it would still be a good idea to do it.

    One of the problems with conservative thinking is that it cannot account for nuance or complexity. They think that giving a starving person some free food will disincentivize them to go find work. They’ll become complacent moochers, happy with their lot in life. But to whatever pitifully small degree that is true, we’re making a good financial decision when we allow some of our tax dollars to go to these moochers. They will be less sick, their children will do better in school and then in life, paying more money in taxes into the system. The money they spend now will help create jobs in agriculture and throughout the food distribution system.

    Plus, if Romney really lost because 47% of the people are just looking for handouts, then picking on moochers seems like a bad strategy.

  9. Ametia says:

    Meet the New George Soros

    The aging, mostly hands-off Soros is still the right’s biggest bogeyman. Conservatives should pay more attention to Jeffrey Katzenberg.

    —By Andy Kroll
    | May/June 2013 Issue

    On the night of March 23, 2011, four political operatives arrived for dinner at Scarpetta, a posh Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills’ Golden Triangle. They wore DC power suits but ditched the ties—their one concession to LA fashion. For a bunch of hacks more at ease on Capitol Hill than Rodeo Drive, they blended in well enough. Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney had spent their adult lives climbing the rungs of Democratic politics, including a stint together in the Obama White House; pundit and consultant Paul Begala had advised Bill Clinton in the 1990s; Geoff Garin had been a top pollster for some 30 years. A hostess led them through the Mediterranean-themed dining room, all dark woods and tan walls lit by golden glass lamps, then up a flight of stairs to a private room. Awaiting them was the man they hoped would be their bell cow.

    Read on:

  10. Ametia says:


    Republican Congressman Says McCain Was Partly Responsible For The Benghazi Terror Attacks

    Right-wing conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney asked Gohmert on Gaffney’s radio show this week what he thought ofMcCain’s recent trip to Syria — which Gaffney described as McCain “hobnobbing with Jihadists” — and wondered whether “we’re going to get a proper investigation of the Benghazi-Gate scandal,” a “scandal” Gaffney said he believes “Sen. McCain’s bad advice got us into.” Gohmert agreed that McCain is to blame for Benghazi because McCain supported and advocated for the U.S. led war in Libya that ultimately helped Libyan rebels oust Muammar Qaddafi:

  11. Racist emails about Michelle Obama lead to resignation calls for Virginia school board member.

    RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A Virginia school board is calling for the resignation of one of its members, after he emailed what some called racist and inappropriate messages to his colleagues.

    This all goes back to the Isle of Wight school board member Herb Degroft and an e-mail he sent containing naked women and a reference to First Lady Michelle Obama.

    He forwarded two emails from his county email account. One had a picture with bare-breasted, African female warriors with the caption “Michelle Obama’s high school reunion.” Another e-mail claimed Mrs. Obama was paid $50 to model in National Geographic.
    They CANNOT stop themselves. We see first hand how the Obamas made folks lose their damn minds. Get over it or seek therapy mofos.

  12. rikyrah says:

    Health care law helps extend Medicare’s fiscal health
    By Steve Benen
    Fri May 31, 2013 12:33 PM EDT

    Despite many years of bipartisan support, Medicare has become a contentious partisan issue in recent years — Republicans have fought to eliminate the program and replace it with a voucher system in which seniors would get coupons they’d use to buy private insurance, while Democrats have pursued far more modest fiscal reforms. Both agree, however, on one thing: Medicare faces long-term fiscal challenges that will eventually need a remedy.

    The obvious question, of course, is how soon that solution will be necessary. Last year, Medicare’s trustees said fiscal troubles would begin for the program in 2024. This morning, the trustees pushed that deadline back by two years.

    The Medicare Hospital Insurance fund will exhaust its assets in 2026, two years later than projected last year and the assets in the Social Security funds will be depleted in 2033, the same date the trustees predicted in last year’s report.

    The trustees explained that the pushing back of the trust funds exhaustion date for Medicare’s hospital insurance program is due partly to lower projected spending in the future for skilled nursing facilities and other services.

    In an encouraging note for President Obama, the trustees said recent data suggest that certain parts of the Affordable Care Act will reduce growth in medical care costs “by more than was previously projected.”

    With congressional Republicans loath to even consider compromises or bipartisan reforms, Medicare’s extended solvency is certainly good news. Indeed, the White House can take a fair amount of credit for this — the Affordable Care Act has slowed Medicare spending and improved savings throughout the system.

  13. rikyrah says:

    A curious definition of ‘reasonable’
    By Steve Benen
    Fri May 31, 2013 1:32 PM EDT.

    Gina McCarthy’s nomination to lead the EPA probably won’t reach the Senate floor until July, and maybe between now and then, her Republican critics can up with better excuses to oppose her nomination than this.

    Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he still couldn’t support President Obama’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because she is “stonewalling.”

    “The job of EPA administrator has the potential to impact the life of every American in both positive and negative ways — and so I believe she has to be as forthcoming as possible in answering questions,” Sessions said Thursday. “To date, she has not provided responsive answers to many of the requests submitted by our ranking member, Sen. [David] Vitter (R-La.), or many of my questions.”

    The Alabama Republican added that he and his GOP colleagues have made “reasonable requests.”

    I suppose what is and isn’t “reasonable” is a subjective matter, but by any fair standard, Sessions’ complaint is hard to take seriously.

    As we discussed several weeks ago, BuzzFeed ran an interesting report on the number of questions Senate Republicans have asked McCarthy as part of her confirmation process. How ridiculous has it been? Combine all of the questions submitted for the record by Senate Republicans for the three previous EPA directors. Then double that number. Then double that number again. It still doesn’t come close to the 1,079 questions the Senate GOP has submitted to Gina McCarthy.

    Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) alone has asked 411 written questions, with 242 subparts. McCarthy answered all of them.

    “Reasonable requests?” I don’t think so.

  14. rikyrah says:

    James Comey, actual Republican
    By Steve Benen
    Fri May 31, 2013 2:40 PM EDT

    President Obama very likely hopes that choosing James Comey, a Republican and former top official in the Bush/Cheney Justice Department, to lead the FBI will give him some bipartisan credibility on the Hill. But it’s also easy to imagine the pushback from the right: sure Comey is a Republican, but is he really a Republican?

    After all, Comey rose to national prominence when he balked at the legality of the Bush/Cheney warrantless wiretap program, which the GOP widely supported. He also endorsed marriage equality, announced his support for trying terrorist suspects in America’s criminal-justice system, and backed Eric Holder’s Attorney General nomination in 2009.

    So is Comey some sort of center-left RINO? It’s a subjective question, but my colleague Michael Yarvitz flagged this report from David Steinbach that highlighted a relevant detail about Comey’s political contributions.

  15. rikyrah says:

    How Mitt Romney could have won

    By Chris Cillizza,
    Published: May 31, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Mitt Romney is planning a three-day gathering next week in Utah, the first step in a planned reemergence on the national scene, the former Massachusetts governor told the Wall Street Journal’s Neil King Jr. on Friday.

    Until now, Romney had been virtually nonexistent following his convincing loss at the hands of President Obama last November.

    But, was Romney’s loss that convincing? Check out the math in this cool infographic courtesy of the Smart Media Group.

    Of course, hypotheticals are just that. If the Fix was better at basketball, we could have made the NBA. We aren’t — and we didn’t.

    But the fact that just more than 200,000 votes would have given Romney a win — albeit it a narrow one — is a reminder that the margin for error for President Obama and his team was smaller in retrospect than it might have looked in the immediate aftermath of the election. Worth remembering: John Kerry lost Ohio by 262,000 votes in 2004. Win the Buckeye State and Kerry is president.

    While the chart above will likely give heart to some Republicans still in mourning following 2012, what it doesn’t take into account are the demographic changes in the country. HIspanic growth (and the continued inability of Republicans to be competitive for that voting bloc) will likely make GOP states into toss ups in 2016 (Arizona) or 2020 (Texas). It’s hard to see a solidly Democratic state that will be added to the GOP target list in that same time frame.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Back by unpopular demand

    By Steve Benen
    Fri May 31, 2013 10:00 AM EDT.

    Remember Mitt Romney? That national candidate who saw 47% of the country as lazy parasites? The one who assumed all the polls were “skewed” and that he was poised for victory? Apparently, he misses you.

    More than half a year after his election loss, Mitt Romney is putting a tentative foot back onto the public stage.

    Restless, a little wistful and sharply critical of President Barack Obama’s second term, Mr. Romney said in an interview that he plans to re-emerge in ways that will “help shape national priorities.” As a first step, the former Republican presidential nominee plans to welcome 200 friends and supporters to a three-day summit next week that he will host at a Utah mountain resort.

    He is considering writing a book and a series of opinion pieces, and has plans to campaign for 2014 candidates.

    Traditionally, failed presidential candidates, unless they hold office and/or plan to run again, quietly fade from public view, content with the knowledge that they had their say, made their pitch, and came up short.

    But Mitt Romney is apparently feeling restless. “By and large,” he told the Wall Street Journal, losing candidates “aren’t very much in the public view.” Romney then added, “But it doesn’t have to be that way.”

  17. rikyrah says:

    Why is Biden Unpopular?

    by BooMan
    Fri May 31st, 2013 at 10:14:09 AM EST

    A Quinnipiac poll shows that there has been an erosion in Hillary Clinton’s polling numbers over the last few months, which may indicate that the Benghazi obsession of the Republican Party is having an intended effect. On the other hand, Clinton still enjoys net-favorable numbers, while Joe Biden suffers with 37-44 net-unfavorable numbers. I really have no explanation for why Biden’s numbers are so bad. He isn’t associated with any scandal and he hasn’t been portrayed unfavorably in any news stories recently.
    What’s your guess?

  18. rikyrah says:

    VA school board member could lose job over Michelle Obama e-mail

    A Virginia school board is calling for the resignation of one of its members, after he emailed what some called racist and inappropriate messages to his colleagues.

    This all goes back to the Isle of Wight school board member Herb Degroft and an e-mail he sent containing naked women and a reference to First Lady Michelle Obama.

    He forwarded two emails from his county email account. One had a picture with bare-breasted, African female warriors with the caption “Michelle Obama’s high school reunion.” Another e-mail claimed Mrs. Obama was paid $50 to model in National Geographic.

    Some board members say they have been receiving similar e-mails from Degroft since January of 2012.

    In retrospect, Degroft admits he made a mistake. He says the e-mails were meant to be political, not racist. When it comes to resigning from his position, he said he is not going anywhere. However, that’s up to voters to decide.

    He wasn’t the only one who forwarded the e-mails. Isle of Wight Supervisor Byron Bailey did as well. The local NAACP and other community members are asking for both men to resign.

    Degroft’s current term as school board member ends in November. Bailey’s term doesn’t end until 2015.

  19. rikyrah says:

    The Destruction of Black Wall Street
    The events that destroyed a thriving Black Oklahoma community 92 years ago were much more than a ‘race riot’

    Greenwood, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa, was the type of community that African Americans are still, today, attempting to reclaim and rebuild. It was modern, majestic, sophisticated and unapologetically Black. Tragically, it was also the site of one of the bloodiest and most horrendous race riots (and acts of terrorism) that the United States has ever experienced.

    Today marks ninety-two years since as many as 300 African Americans lost their lives and more than 9,000 were left homeless when the small town was attacked, looted and literally burned to the ground beginning in 1921. It’s impossible, however, to realize what was lost in Greenwood, which was affectionately known as “Black Wall Street.”

    The Greenwood community seems almost imagined when we examine it through a historical lens. The oil booms of the early 1900’s had many moving to Tulsa for a shot at quick economic gains and high life, and African Americans hoped to prosper from the new industry as well. Tulsa, like many cities and towns throughout the US, was hostilely segregated, with African Americans settling into the northern region of the city. As we often saw before integration, Blacks in the area created entrepreneurial opportunities for themselves, which housed an impressive business center that included banks, hotels, cafes, clothiers, movie theaters, and contemporary homes. Greenwood residents enjoyed many luxuries that their White neighbors did not, including indoor plumbing and a remarkable school system that superiorly educated Black children.

    It was pure envy, and a vow to put progressive, high achieving African Americans in their place that would cause the demise of the Black Mecca many called “Little Africa”, and its destruction began the way much terrorism, violence and dispossession against African Americans did during that era. A young White woman accused a young Black man of attempted sexual assault, which gave local mobs and White men acting as police just cause to invade the unsuspecting community. On the malevolent and horrifying attack, Linda Christenson writes the following:

    “The term “race riot” does not adequately describe the events of May 31—June 1, 1921 in Greenwood… In fact, the term itself implies that both blacks and whites might be equally to blame for the lawlessness and violence. The historical record documents a sustained and murderous assault on black lives and property. This assault was met by a brave but unsuccessful armed defense of their community by some black World War I veterans and others.

    During the night and day of the riot, deputized whites killed more than 300 African Americans. They looted and burned to the ground 40 square blocks of 1,265 African American homes, including hospitals, schools, and churches, and destroyed 150 businesses. White deputies and members of the National Guard arrested and detained 6,000 black Tulsans who were released only upon being vouched for by a white employer or other white citizen. Nine thousand African Americans were left homeless and lived in tents well into the winter of 1921.”

    Read more at EBONY
    Follow us: @EbonyMag on Twitter | EbonyMag on Facebook

  20. rikyrah says:

    Why Benghazi-fixated Republicans may be all right with Victoria Nuland’s promotion

    Personal relationships explain some of the difference in treatment between Rice and Nuland,says Mark Landler in The New York Times, but “politics looms above all.” In many ways, the two women “had parallel experiences with Benghazi,” Landler says: “Neither was involved in security decisions surrounding the American mission,” and both became involved later, through the talking points. But Nuland has strong ties to Republicans, Rice has strong ties to Democrats, and it’s easier to shoot the messenger, he adds.

    “Susan Rice was exposed because at a critical moment, she was out there with a narrative about President Obama’s foreign policy that the Republicans couldn’t abide,” former diplomat Aaron David Miller tells The New York Times. “Toria was buried in the internal bureaucratic ticktock,” Miller said, using Nuland’s nickname. “She is also someone who has very good contacts across the aisle, and around Washington. Susan fits the Republican anti-Obama narrative; Toria does not.”

    The Times asked Sen. Graham to explain why Nuland was a fine pick but Rice is toxic. “That’s a good question,” he responded. Nuland is “going to have to explain the role she played,” but there is a difference between “protecting your bureaucratic turf,” as Nuland was doing, and making misleading statements to the American people, he said.

  21. rikyrah says:

    Detroit charter school students told to teach themselves

    DETROIT — It’s late-morning at Catherine Ferguson Academy for Young Women in Detroit.

    Caretakers gather at the entrance with strollers containing the children of students and begin a leisurely stroll down the sidewalk on Selden Street in Detroit.

    Out back, several students — teenage mothers or mothers to be — tend the vast urban garden that’s been touted as a cutting-edge educational tool for inner-city kids. It was the focus of a documentary named “Grown in Detroit.”

    All seems peaceful, but on Thursday, four students and a teacher walked out in protest of the school’s new self-taught format they say is robbing students of their rightful education and causing increasing numbers of students to drop out.

    They were joined by about a dozen others in a demonstration organized by youth-activist organization BAMN, which stands for “by any means necessary.”

    The school, which offers daycare to teen moms while they learn, was on the financially strained Detroit Public Schools chopping block in 2010. A vocal outcry to preserve the institution led to it remaining open as a charter school, which it became prior to the 2011-2012 academic year.

    Nicole Conaway, a teacher at Catherine Ferguson Academy for Young Women since 2006, says the new format is failing, teachers aren’t allowed to teach, and students are essentially left to fend for themselves without guidance.

  22. rikyrah says:

    A Religion of Colorblind Policy

    When your networks are rooted in a community with lots of uninsured people, you’ll find you bear many of the social costs — even if you have insurance yourself.

    Ta-Nehisi CoatesMay 30 2013, 10:39 AM ET
    Yesterday I wrote a post showing how ostensibly color-blind policy can disproportionately hurt people of color (for lack of a better term) or not benefit them as much as it should. I argued this by pointing out that black and brown people will make up a disproportionate number of those people who will not gain any insurance from Obamacare. That is because Medicaid is administered through the states, and the Supreme Court ruled that that states have the right to refuse Medicaid expansion. The result is not simply a disproportionate number of black and brown people left uninsured, but, in some states, a situation where an actual majority of the uninsured are black and brown.

    The effect is much worse when you consider that the African-American community is hyper-segregated highly segregated. You have to imagine a state like Mississippi, where the majority of the uninsured are going to be black and the black uninsured will be then mostly concentrated in black neighborhoods. In other words it will be other black people — uninsured and not — who will bear the entire social costs of this.

    Here is one way to think about this: You are black. You have gotten your college degree and a decent job. But your younger brother isn’t doing so well in school and needs some tutoring. And you’re worried about your grandmother because her neighborhood isn’t safe. And your homeboy, whom you were raised with, just finished a bid for intent to distribute. And your homegirl had a kid when she was 15, but the father is out.

    You have made it out of a poor community, but your network is rooted there and shows all the markers of exposure to poverty. Because of a history of American racism, your exposure will be higher than white people of your same income level. Perhaps you would like to build another network. That network, because of a history of racism, will likely be with other black people — black people who, like you, are part of a network that, on average, shows greater exposure to poverty. Meanwhile, white people are building other networks that are significantly less compromised by exposure to poverty.

    This is how segregation compromises the power of black community. It takes a societal ill — say a lack of insurance — and then concentrates it one community. Members of the whole community, uninsured and not, feel the effects of this to varying degrees, and a problem that is truly American somehow becomes “black.” The black uninsured of Mississippi — a majority of the uninsured of the state — are not going to be evenly distributed among the various networks of the state. They are going to be concentrated in one particular network.

    What the state won’t cover, private citizens must. Those citizen will tend to be black. The people who will have to drain their savings will be black. The people who will take out second mortgages will be black. The people who will pick up second jobs (if they can even get them) and miss parenting time will be black. You can multiply this out across social policy, and see how a wealth gap might be perpetuated. No fried chicken jokes required.

  23. Ametia says:

    Apparently its not just MSNBC that’s in trouble

    Yesterday I wrote about the challenges facing major media outlets. A lot of the talk lately has been about the bad news MSNBC got recently about their low ratings. Well, it seems as if the liberal-leaning cable network isn’t the only one in trouble. Check this out from Digby:

    …but I must point out that it’s not just MSNBC. The online left has seen a steep decline in traffic since the election as well…

    We’ve been through a number of elections, crises, other ups and downs over the past decade but I’ve not seen anything like the drop in interest over the past few months. If it was just me I’d attribute it to my little project having run its course but it’s happening across the liberal media spectrum.
    Digby didn’t provide any names regarding which online left sites she’s referring to other than her own (its certainly not this one), but a look at her blogroll might give you some idea (hint: there is only one site she includes that is listed here on my “Pragmatic Progressive Blogroll.”)

    It would be normal to see a drop in participation on blogs after a general election. But she’s saying that what she’s seeing is much bigger than that. So whassup? Digby writes it off to a “bored or disillusioned” left reacting to an “ineffectual president.” Surprise, surprise

  24. Ametia says:

    CONGRATULATIONS, ARVIND! All the kids were extraordinary. Loved their courage and persereverance. All but one contestant had participated in the Scripps National Spelling Bee more than once. For some it was there 3rd or 4th time around. NEVER GIVE UP, YOUTH.

  25. Ametia says:

    The GOP is too juvenile to govern
    By Eugene Robinson,
    Published: May 30E-mail the writer

    With budgetary tantrums in the Senate and investigative play-acting in the House, the Republican Party is proving once again that it simply cannot be taken seriously.

    This is a shame. I don’t share the GOP’s philosophy, but I do believe that competition makes both of our major parties smarter. I also believe that a big, complicated country facing economic and geopolitical challenges needs a government able to govern.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Health Care and Social Justice

    Look at which states have rejected the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion — and see how “color-blind” public policy can produce bigoted effects.

    Ta-Nehisi CoatesMay 29 2013, 10:52 AM ET

    The New York Times has a story up outlining the effects of the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act in general, and the Medicaid expansion in particular:

    Starting next month, the administration and its allies will conduct a nationwide campaign encouraging Americans to take advantage of new high-quality affordable insurance options. But those options will be unavailable to some of the neediest people in states like Texas, Florida, Kansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia, which are refusing to expand Medicaid.

    More than half of all people without health insurance live in states that are not planning to expand Medicaid. People in those states who have incomes from the poverty level up to four times that amount ($11,490 to $45,960 a year for an individual) can get federal tax credits to subsidize the purchase of private health insurance. But many people below the poverty line will be unable to get tax credits, Medicaid or other help with health insurance.

    I want to preface what I am about to say by pointing out the obvious — the ACA is a great thing. I suspect it will go down as the president’s greatest achievement and probably the best thing he’s done to fight income inequality.

    With that said, if you look at a map of which states are refusing the Medicaid expansion, and then look at this report from the Urban Institute, a troubling (if predictable) trend emerges. Approximately a fifth (about 18 percent) of all people who will remain untouched by the Medicaid expansion are black. When you start drilling down to the states where those black people tend to live, it gets worse. In Virginia and North Carolina, 30 percent of those who are going to miss out are black. In South Carolina and Georgia, the number is around 40 percent. In Louisiana and Mississippi, you are talking about 50 percent of those who would be eligible for the expansion but who will go uncovered.

    You look at Latinos and get a similar (and to some extent worse) picture. Nationally, Latinos make up 18 percent of those who stand to get health coverage. But in Arizona — where the legislature is fighting Jan Brewer’s effort to expand Medicaid — Latinos make up 34 percent of those who stand to gain coverage. In Florida, they make up 27 percent, and in Texas they make up 47 percent. Texas has the highest rate of uninsured in the country. The majority of people there who are going to miss out on care — over 60 percent — are black and Latino.

    This is one reason why color-blind — “lift all boats” — policy so often falls short. When you have a country grappling with the deep vestiges of bigoted policy, you do not need “colored only” signs to get “colored mostly” effects.

  27. Ametia says:

    May 31, 2013, 3:49 AM
    Ricin-letter investigation identifies Texas man as person of interest
    Updated at 9:20 a.m. ET

    A Texas man was identified as a person of interest Thursday in the investigation into threatening letters sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which contained the deadly toxin ricin, and to President Obama, which is being tested for the poison, sources told CBS News.

    The man is not under arrest. Sources told CBS News the person was questioned by the FBI in Texarkana, Texas.

    Authorities were seen searching a home in New Boston, Texas, on Thursday in video shot by CBS Shreveport, La., affiliate KSLA-TV.

    The Secret Service said Thursday that a suspicious letter addressed to Mr. Obama and intercepted before reaching the White House was similar to two threatening letters laced with the toxic poison that were sent to Bloomberg and his gun-control-advocacy group in Washington.

    CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reported Thursday that, according to two sources, the letter sent to Bloomberg carried the following threat:

    “You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional, God-given right and I will exercise that right till the day I die. What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what I’ve got planned for you.”

    All three letters were postmarked May 20 from Shreveport, Orr reports.

  28. rikyrah says:

    Rove’s limitless capacity for self-pity
    By Steve Benen
    Fri May 31, 2013 8:00 AM EDT.

    Nearly three years ago, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) noticed a problem with Karl Rove’s attack operation, American Crossroads. The group sought and received tax-exempt status from the IRS, but it was clearly a partisan political operation, not a “social welfare” group, raising vast sums from anonymous donors. The senator urged the tax agency to investigate whether Crossroads deserved the generous tax benefit.

    Rove, who in 2005 accused Durbin of trying to kill American troops by criticizing George W. Bush, apparently holds a grudge.

    Rove unloaded with both barrels on the Illinois Democrat, blasting him in an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News and in a column in The Wall Street Journal. Rove is charging that Durbin’s sending a letter in 2010 to Internal Revenue Service officials, asking them to investigate American Crossroads, was nothing less than a bid to “silence conservatives.”

    “What was going on is obvious: Mr. Durbin wanted the IRS to silence conservatives,” Rove wrote. … “[I]n the glare of public attention, using the IRS to cripple or destroy opponents looks corrupt. Abuse of power always is.”

    There’s a near-constant strain of self-pity and victimization that underscores Rove’s approach to politics, which makes this new argument rather predictable. Nevertheless, on the merits, the argument is also quite dumb.

    I can appreciate why the IRS controversy offers Republican media personalities an attractive excuse for self-indulgence, settling old scores against perceived enemies, but neither Durbin nor any other Democratic officials tried to “silence” anyone. The entire line of attack is nonsense.

  29. I’m so excited! My daughter got accepted into UT!

    Whoo Hoo!

  30. rikyrah says:

    Student loans reclaim center stage

    By Steve Benen
    Fri May 31, 2013 9:18 AM EDT

    In about an hour, President Obama will deliver remarks, flanked by college students, on a subject that too often goes overlooked: student loans. With a looming interest rate hike, the president will reportedly “call on Congress to help keep college affordable for middle-class families and students by preventing student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1.”

    Indeed, with just a month to go before the rate hike, Sahil Kapur reports that this issue is poised to reclaim center stage, just as it did at this point last summer.

    A battle is heating up between President Obama and Republicans on how to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling to 6.8 percent in July — a flashpoint in the ongoing efforts of both parties to win young voters, who strongly favor Democrats. […]

    Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) office lashed out at the White House Wednesday after the event was announced. Labeling it “stunning student loan cynicism,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck noted that unlike the Democratic-led Senate, the Republican-led House has already passed legislation to prevent student loan interest rates from spiking on July 1.

    “It’s obvious that the White House would love nothing more than to change the subject from its growing list of scandals, but scheduling this PR stunt reeks of desperation,” Buck wrote on the Speaker’s blog, noting the similarities in the two loan proposals. “Picking a fight out of thin air where there’s policy agreement isn’t going to get the White House out of trouble, and it certainly doesn’t do anything to help students facing a looming rate hike.”

    First, there is no list of White House scandals — the total is still zero. Second, the deadline matters to millions of families, so there’s no point in dismissing it as some kind of partisan distraction. And third, there isn’t policy agreement on student loan interest rates, as even the Speaker’s office should understand.

    Let’s back up and provide some context here. As we discussed several weeks ago, Congress passed a law in 2007 that kept the interest rate for federal Direct Stafford Loans at 3.4%. Last year, that law was set to expire, and without congressional action, the rate would have doubled, affecting more than 7.4 million students, who would have faced, on average, an additional $1,000 in debt.

    Policymakers eventually reached a deal and the lower rate was locked in, but it was temporary — on July 1 of this year, the rates are set to double again.

    House Republicans say they’ve already passed a bill on this, which is true. They also say their bill is worthwhile and consistent with White House demands, which is not true.


    Obama’s approach and the GOP’s bill do have one thing in common: they tie student-loan interest rates to the yield on 10-year Treasury bills. But the White House’s proposal includes all kinds of safeguards to make things easier on young people, including fixing the rate to whatever it is when the loan is first taken out (so students would suddenly see a spike when T-bill yields change) and shielding borrowers from having to make more than 10% of their income.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Wehner has it all figured out
    By Steve Benen
    Thu May 30, 2013 3:48 PM EDT

    It seems that Scandal Mania 2013, after a flurry of activity, has tapered off a bit. The Republican campaign to turn Benghazi into a political controversy fell apart; it seems pretty obvious the IRS matter was a bureaucratic mess that was not orchestrated by the White House; and Republicans don’t seem to know quite what to do with the AP subpoenas, which were almost certainly legal anyway.

    With no real revelations to speak of, the political world’s focus is starting to shift, and polls suggest the public never took a particular interest in the so-called “scandals” in the first place. The RNC this week was reduced to publishing a memo to news organizations, insisting that the controversies really are controversies — and once a reminder like this is deemed necessary, it’s not a good sign.

    So why is Scandal Mania 2013 losing steam? Common sense suggests it has something to do with the fact that there haven’t been any especially interesting revelations, compounded by the fact that there are no meaningful connections between the allegations and President Obama. On the other hand, Peter Wehner, the White House director of “strategic initiatives” in the Bush/Cheney era, has a very different explanation (via Jon Chait).

    The vast majority of journalists are highly sympathetic to a large federal government, and they know where these scandals, if pursued vigorously, will lead — to a further deepening distrust of government. A new Fox News poll shows that more than two-thirds of voters feel the government is out of control and threatening their civil liberties. Journalists are aware that these scandals have the potential to deal a devastating blow to their progressive ideology, which is why they will downplay these stories as much as they can

    I’d almost forgotten how entertaining Wehner can be

  32. rikyrah says:

    A Hillary Clinton 2016 Landslide? Don’t Count On It


    Five years ago, Hillary Clinton’s “electability” as a presidential candidate was debatable. Today, it is uncontested. Democratic partisans think she will paint the electoral map blue in 2016. Recent polls show Clinton leading Rick Perry in Texas, Chris Christie in New Jersey, both Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush in Florida, and tied with Rand Paul in Kentucky. Once you factor in her favorability rating in the 60s, it’s easy to start thinking of Clinton as a Democratic Eisenhower—a popular, senior statesperson, who could maximize the Democratic coalition and perform much better than the economic fundamentals suggest. But Clinton, though a very formidable candidate, is not preordained to win in an Eisehower-esque landslide: A different read of the polls reveals a candidate who is not as invincible as her lead suggests.

    The main issue is that Clinton is unlikely to maintain her extraordinary popularity through 2016. Her popularity was boosted by her position as Secretary of State, where she remained above domestic political disputes for four years. Perhaps for that reason, most of Clinton’s predecessors, like Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, have been broadly popular, as well. As she re-enters the fray and Republicans redirect their attacks away from the president and toward the ’16 Democratic frontrunner, her sky-high favorability rating will probably drop, as it has in the past. For instance, her ratings started out high as First Lady, but dropped when she pursued health care reform. The Monica Lewinsky scandal restored her popularity, but her pursuit of the Senate and Presidency brought her numbers back to earth. Her ratings surged once again after withdrawing from the 2008 presidential primaries.

    An Eisenhower-like victory might be more likely if she was winning in a landslide right now—a margin so wide that it would still yield a clear victory, even as her popularity faded and her opponents became better known. But Clinton isn’t winning too many Romney voters. National polls show her around 51 or 52 percent against Republicans other than Christie, while state polls typically show Clinton near Obama’s share of the vote. If Clinton isn’t winning Romney voters at the height of her popularity, there’s cause to be skeptical about whether she will in four years. In the critical battleground states of the Midwest and West, Clinton actually appears to be doing worse than Obama. Not only do recent surveys show her below 50 percent in Colorado and Iowa, but she leads candidates like Rand Paul by just 4 points in Iowa and 3 points in Colorado—worse than Obama’s 5-plus point victories in those states.

    On the other hand, Clinton is performing much better than Obama in Southern states with a large number of traditionally Democratic white voters who supported Romney, like Kentucky and even Florida. But Clinton’s strength in these areas might be especially likely to fade, or at least especially unlikely to pay off. Certainly, Clinton will perform better than Obama in those areas, but she’ll need to outperform Obama by more than 20 points to win Kentucky, West Virginia, or Arkansas. Conversely, Clinton’s area of relative weakness—the northwestern quadrant of the country—includes many states that tilted narrowly toward Democrats in the Obama years.

    None of this means that Clinton isn’t a strong candidate. Her strength among traditionally Democratic white Southerners and Appalachians could be decisive in Florida and Pennsylvania—two states that combine to give Democrats the presidency in nearly every circumstance. If Democrats now have a winning demographic hand, as I believe they do, then Clinton’s ability to all but guarantee a consolidated, unified Democratic base will make her very difficult for Republicans to defeat in a competitive presidential election. A big 450 electoral vote landslide is certainly conceivable if everything breaks perfectly—her support endures, her opponents are weak, the economy continues to recover. But her current standing is too reliant on an unsustainable peak in popularity and Southern conservative supporters who aren’t likely to stick around—at least in sufficient numbers to win too many states carried by Romney—once Republicans get around to attacking her.

  33. rikyrah says:

    Fool Me Once…

    by BooMan
    Thu May 30th, 2013 at 10:01:45 PM EST

    I picked up on this story earlier in the day. Apparently, Republican donors are showing little interest in the Massachusetts special election to fill out John Kerry’s term. I found one explanation for this kind of interesting:

    To one GOP insider, [Gabriel] Gomez’s problems with his own party stem from a larger problem: “So many Republicans thought we would win the presidency last year that they are now unable to believe that we can win anything.”

    So, this is kind of a problem of Dick Morris’s making. Or Gallup. Or the skewed polls guy. Political analysis is what I do, and I can tell you honestly that I don’t know how anyone who thought Mitt Romney would win, or even could win, has enough brainpower to operate their lungs. The proper conclusion for those people should be to get better sources of information. Bigtime Republican donors must of have been successful at something. They can’t all be trustfund babies. When they made money in business, did they keep consultants and advisors on the payroll who were consistently and epically and catastrophically wrong?

    People they trusted lied to them. They gave them false assurances. They took advantage of them. The takeaway from that should not be despondency and defeatism. It should be skepticism. Karl Rove lost everywhere and everything. He spent possibly as much as $160 million of rich Republican donors’ money, and he had nothing to show for it.

    I think that that performance is the real problem here. It’s not that Republican donors are defeatist. It’s that the people asking them for donations no longer have any credibilty with them.

  34. rikyrah says:

    White House Memo: 120 Health Insurance Plans Applied To Participate In Exchange

    The White House has received more than 120 applications from health insurance plans looking to sell on the new federal health care exchange, according to a White House memo released Thursday.[….] The White House estimates that about 90 percent of target enrollees will have five or more different insurance company choices.

    People can start enrolling in the exchanges on Oct. 1. The federal
    government will fully run the health care exchanges in 19 states and will work with 15 other states to help them run a marketplace. Seventeen states (including D.C.) have opted to run their own exchanges.[….]

  35. rikyrah says:

    Ohio projected to lose $53B if it rejects Medicaid expansion

    New report says expansion would help uninsured Ohioans with mental illness.
    Posted: 12:06 a.m. Friday, May 31, 2013

    Nearly a quarter of the estimated 1.5 million uninsured Ohioans live with mental illness and would benefit from expanding Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to a report Thursday from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

    Only two states — Nebraska and Minnesota — have a higher percentage of uninsured adults living with mental illness, according to the report, which found the rate in both states exceeds 30 percent. Minnesota has adopted expansion. Nebraska has rejected it.

  36. rikyrah says:

    Published on Nov 6, 2012

    President Obama’s final campaign speech in Iowa 11.5.2012. Great, emotional, inspiring!

  37. rikyrah says:

    I know you covered this in the Trayvon thread but for readers that didn’t go into that thread

    Rev. Al Sharpton interviews George Zimmerman’s attorney on MSNBC

    by theGrio | May 30, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    Rev. Al Sharpton on Thursday interviewed the attorney representing George Zimmerman, who is charged with second degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin. The interview appeared on Sharpton’s MSNBC program, “Politics Nation.”

    Sharpton asked Mark O’Mara about information released by the defense about Martin last week, about voice experts who have said the screams for help on the 911 calls on the night of the February 2012 shooting were not Zimmerman’s voice, and whether Sanford, Florida police erred in not initially arresting Zimmerman.

    Watch the segment above, and watch Sharpton’s reflections on the interview below:

    • Ametia says:

      Seriously, I was SMH throughout this interview. Rev. Al could try this case, that’s how much O’mara showed himself to be an INCOMPETENT HACK.

  38. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone. Happy FRY-day! :-)

    Rikyrah, the series on Mr. Sinatra has been OUTSTANDING. Girl, you knock me out. LOL

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