Sunday Open Thread

Good Morning. Enjoy the weekend with family and friends.

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38 Responses to Sunday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Damn!

    Plouffe went THERE with Issa.

    Never shoulda given y’all twitter.

    …………………………..

    David Plouffe @davidplouffe

    Strong words from Mr Grand Theft Auto and suspected arsonist/insurance swindler. And loose ethically today. http://thehill.com/video/house/302933-issa-calls-carney-a-paid-liar-on-irs-scandal
    5:00 PM – 2 Jun 2013

  2. Ametia says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAzWNaJWxyA

    Full interview tonight on OWN.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Task Forces Offer Hoarders a Way to Dig Out

    By JAN HOFFMAN
    Published: May 26, 2013

    Wet rag in hand, the older woman was trying to clean her filthy, packed garage to comply with a warning that she was violating city codes. As two officials approached to check on her progress, she proudly pointed to an open box in which she had placed two dead rats.

    For maximum display, she had perched the box atop one of the garage’s many dense, waist-high piles: bins overflowing with clothes and cans, a bicycle frame, a mildewed mop.

    Darren Johnson, an inspector with the Orange County Fire Authority, and Mary Lewis, a city code enforcement officer, smiled encouragingly. They maneuvered into the woman’s townhouse, its passageways blocked by the detritus of a troubled life. Both are members of the Orange County Task Force on Hoarding, trained not to gag at the stench, even as their shoes squished on newspapers slippery with rat urine.

    Mr. Johnson, who with Ms. Lewis accompanied a reporter into the woman’s home on the condition that she not be identified, shined a flashlight over tangled electrical cords and ancient magazines. If a fire broke out, he told the woman, “my guys would have a tough time getting inside.”

    “So we’d have to get you out through the window,” he told her. “But it would be hard for you to climb through this stuff to get there.”

    The fire inspector added softly, “Can you let us help you clean this up, to save yourself and not put everyone else at risk?”

    An estimated 3 percent to 5 percent of Americans suffer from hoarding, which was officially recognized as a disorder this month in a psychiatric diagnostic manual. But the impact of hoarding extends beyond the afflicted individual and relatives in the home: the behavior can also put immediate neighbors at risk, by creating perfect conditions for explosive house fires and infestations of vermin and disease.

    Across the country, local officials like Mr. Johnson and Ms. Lewis have begun grappling with hoarding as a serious public health hazard. More than 85 communities — from San Jose, Calif., to Wichita, Kan., to Portland, Me. — have established task forces, hoping to stave off catastrophes and help hoarders turn their lives around.

    The task forces on hoarding are finding their mandates daunting. With each case, officials must weigh when their authority to intervene trumps an individual’s right to privacy.

    “The nature of the disorder demands multiple resources,” said Christiana Bratiotis, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. “No one discipline has all the expertise needed.”

    The task forces typically include people from support as well as enforcement perspectives, added Dr. Bratiotis, a co-author of “The Hoarding Handbook,” an intervention guide. “There is value in the carrot-and-stick approach.”

    Hoarding disorder is poorly understood, complex and often recurring: over decades, cases wax, wane and become chronic. It is distinct from cluttering or insatiable collecting. The self-soothing need to acquire, coupled with a paralyzing inability to discard, significantly impairs one’s ability to function.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/health/when-hoarding-morphs-into-a-safety-hazard.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&emc=eta1

  4. rikyrah says:

    GOP Embracing New Poll That Also Shows 73% Say Economy Takes Precedence Over Scandals

    By: Sarah Jones
    May. 30th, 2013

    Republicans are running with a new Quinnipiac University National Poll that shows the President’s approval ratings dropping to 45%, but they are ignoring the other information from that poll — namely that by a 3-1 margin, Americans say the economy is more important than investigating the “controversies” (aka, largely GOP-manufactured scandals).

    Seventy-three percent of American voters believe that dealing with the economy should be a bigger priority than investigating the controversies of the IRS, Benghazi, and the AP, according to Quinnipiac poll released Thursday.

    Of the scandals, 44% of voters say the IRS is the most important one (luckily for the GOP, as their Benghazi scandal backfired and revealed their machinations behind the scenes to create said scandal). Twenty-four percent say the Benghazi attack, and 15% say the AP scandal. However, “American voters say 43 – 32 percent that congressional criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of the terrorist attack in Libya is ‘just politics.’” That number should alarm Republicans, who already face poor poll numbers and the appearance of doing nothing but obstructing the President.

    By 76 – 17 percent, voters say a special prosecutor should be appointed in the IRS scandal. I agree, and would suggest that the special prosecutor also investigate undue pressure on the IRS to lay off of conservative nonprofits that are clearly acting as PACs instead of social welfare groups.

    The president’s job approval rating dropped to 45% in this poll, but polls released last week showed him steady and on May 19, he actually had a bump, when by all conventional wisdom, his polls should have dropped. It should be noted that this poll may be slightly skewed by the demographics, which were 73% white voters and a majority older voters (age: 18-29 15%, 30-44 25%, 45-64 38%, 65+ 21%). While whites made up 72% of the 2012 election turnout, skewing older likely impacted the results.

    Last week, Speaker John Boehner gave a press conference in which he tried to convince the press that the Republican Party’s number one priority was jobs, but his party has not proposed a single jobs bill. He then proceeded to detail his outrage over the scandals, while explaining that it was their job to investigate the executive branch. We do need checks and balances, but those checks shouldn’t prohibit the House from doing their first job, which is to actually pass legislation and then reconcile said legislation with the Senate in order to actually legislate.

    http://www.politicususa.com/gop-embracing-poll-shows-73-economy-takes-precedence-scandals.html

  5. rikyrah says:

    When Pressed for Evidence Obama Was Behind IRS Scandal Darrell Issa Has Nothing

    When pressed for actual evidence that Obama is behind the IRS scandal, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) imploded and revealed that he has nothing.

    Candy Crowley is one person in the mainstream media who seems to have wised up to Rep. Issa’s pattern of cherry picking information to support his Obama conspiracies. Issa has zero evidence to support his claim that the White House was involved in the IRS scandal. When Crowley pushed him to release the full transcripts of his interviews, the California congressman revealed what this investigation is really about when he called White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a paid liar.

    Issa had so little evidence that when pressed he pulled out his standard cry that the White House won’t turn over the documents. Rep. Issa’s standard move when pressed for facts is to go all X-Files and claim the truth is out there, but Obama won’t let him have access to it.

    By claiming that the administration is lying without any proof to back it up, Issa has revealed that the IRS investigation is nothing more than another partisan witch hunt. The good news is that after getting burned by the Republican edited Benghazi emails, parts of the media are showing more caution when dealing with Issa’s conspiracy theories.

    Instead of bolstering his case for White House involvement in the IRS scandal, Rep. Issa shot himself in the foot. Issa couldn’t control his Obama hate on camera, and his outburst has blown a giant hole in Republican claims that President Obama was behind the IRS scandal.

    http://www.politicususa.com/pressed-evidence-obama-irs-scandal-darrell-issa.html

  6. rikyrah says:

    Why Diversity in Admissions Has Merit

    by BooMan
    Sun Jun 2nd, 2013 at 12:50:12 PM EST
    I am not up to speed on the Affirmative Action cases before the Supreme Court but it seems like there is a near-consensus that the Court is poised to gut Affirmative Action in college admissions with implications for the policy in general. What the Court does is beyond the control of the Republican Party, but upending Affirmative Action will do real and lasting damage to the GOP’s rebranding efforts and cost them even more support with women and racial minorities.

    One of the frustrating things about college admissions is that admission boards consider all kinds of things beside the raw data involved in grades and test scores. People receive preferential treatment if their parents are alumni or if they come from geographical areas with few applicants. They may be rewarded because they play a certain musical instrument or have extracurricular activities that fill a need with some school program. I think it’s a legitimate argument that students learn a lot from having contact from people from different regions of the country or different religious backgrounds, or from foreign countries. This is learning that occurs mainly outside of the classroom, but it’s an important part of the learning process. One could even make an argument that Yale classmates of George W. Bush benefitted by having contact with the grandson of a U.S. Senator and son of a congressman, despite the fact that Bush never would have been accepted based on objective metrics. It’s a weak argument, perhaps, but making powerful connections is one of the advantages of going to an elite university.

    Affirmative Action is intended, in part, to compensate for the fact that rich and powerful people already get preferential treatment in college admissions. But people like George W. Bush are supposed to benefit, too, because meeting people from other walks of life broadens perspectives and deepens knowledge. There are many competing considerations that the admissions officers rightly take into account when they go about building a class of students, and gender and racial diversity is as legitimate as any of the others.

    http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2013/6/2/125012/4948#1

  7. CarolMaeWY says:

    I enjoy all your great posts. I’m not good at expressing myself on paper or iPad. But I know good writing. Thank you for the page you made for GoBrooklyn. So heartfelt. Have a beautiful Sunday.

  8. rikyrah says:

    What happened to Black Wall Street on June 1, 1921?
    February 9, 2011

    Black Wall Street, the name fittingly given to one of the most affluent all-Black communities in America, was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of envious Whites. In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving Black business district in northern Tulsa lay smoldering – a model community destroyed and a major African-American economic movement resoundingly defused.

    The night’s carnage left some 3,000 African Americans dead and over 600 successful businesses lost. Among these were 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two movie theaters, plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half dozen private airplanes and even a bus system. As could have been expected, the impetus behind it all was the infamous Ku Klux Klan, working in consort with ranking city officials and many other sympathizers.

    The best description of Black Wall Street, or Little Africa as it was also known, would be to compare it to a mini Beverly Hills. It was the golden door of the Black community during the early 1900s, and it proved that African Americans could create a successful infrastructure. That’s what Black Wall Street was all about.

    The dollar circulated 36 to 100 times, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community. Now a dollar leaves the Black community in 15 minutes. As for resources, there were Ph.D.s residing in Little Africa, Black attorneys and doctors. One doctor was Dr. Berry, who owned the bus system. His average income was $500 a day, hefty pocket change in 1910.

    It was a time when the entire state of Oklahoma had only two airports, yet six Blacks owned their own planes. It was a very fascinating community.

    The mainstay of the community was to educate every child. Nepotism was the one word they believed in. And that’s what we need to get back to. The main thoroughfare was Greenwood Avenue, and it was intersected by Archer and Pine Streets. From the first letters in each of those three names you get G.A.P. And that’s where the renowned R&B music group the GAP Band got its name. They’re from Tulsa.

    http://sfbayview.com/2011/what-happened-to-black-wall-street-on-june-1-1921/#.UaqNmVp8ynw.twitter

    • Ametia says:

      Yes; this was equivalent to a BLACK HOLOCAUST, fueled by HATE, RACISM, and INFERIORITY COMPLEX.

      Remnants of theis bigotry and hate is alive and well in America, particularly in our school systems. And don’t get me started on intergrating schools back in the day. IT DAMAGED our neighboods and schools, but most importantly our children who were BUSED across towns into white neighborhoods where the students and the teachers showed disdain for black students. Our children were NOT prepared for the culture shock of entering white folks terrain, and the ADULTS are to blame for it.

  9. rikyrah says:

    Will Smith Scoffs at Kardashian Comparison
    June 2, 2013 by Cory Alexander Haywood

    *Will Smith does not want his family compared to the Kardashian clan—period (and really, who could blame him?).

    Sure there may be a few similarities—you know, money, fame, celebrity status, that kinda stuff. But the Smith family has substance (who cares that Big Willy’s eldest son, Trey, is never seen or heard from.)

    Nothing says “family” better than a father/son hookup for a major motion picture. “After Earth,” starring Will and son Jaden, opened this weekend. This is the duo’s second movie together, for which they have been making non-stop promotional appearances on a variety of shows and radio stations across the world.

    During a recent interview with New York’s Magazine Vulture, Jaden Smith was asked to make comparisons before his megastar dad interrupted by raising his hand as if to say he had enough. “I’m trying to understand,” Jaden said. “Don’t,” Will directed him. “You know he’s never had to, to deal with those kinds of questions.”

    Before allowing the reporter to change the subject, Will mimicked him and said: “’So how do you think your life is similar or un-similar to people’s names in Calabasas?’ For our family, the entire structure of our life, our home, our business relationships – the entire purpose is for everyone to be able to create in a way that makes them happy.”

    Will emphasized that although they are celebrities, his family members are in the spotlight because it is what they like to do.

    http://www.eurweb.com/2013/06/will-smith-scoffs-at-kardashian-comparison/

    • Ametia says:

      The media is going after Will Smith and his family. I was reading several reviews about his new movie with Jaden.

      They are attacking it; saying it’s based on Scientology. And they are attacking Will asking “Has Will Smith lost his MOJO?”

      WTF? IT’S A MOVIE!!! I plan to see it. Fuck the reviews!

      How many movies in Hollywood have been based on ethnic/religious content? Can you say Schindler’s List? “The Bible produced by roma Downey and her hubby Mark Burnett.

      I’m feeling that MJ vibe here. THE KING OF POP was relentlessly pursued and accused of child molestation and other weird shit. The media jackals didn’t let up, until they could tdo as much damage as they could to MJ’s image and LEGACY.

      Think about Will Smith making $10-20 million per movie and the movies become BLOCKBUSTERS, grossing hundreds of millions some close to half a billion.

      Ooops! time to put the brakes on this NEGRO’S SUCCESS!

  10. rikyrah says:

    Earl Ofari Hutchinson: The Never Ending War on Eric Holder
    May 30, 2013 by EurPublisher

    *There was nothing subtle about the Washington Times recent poll question: “It asked will Attorney General Eric Holder be forced to resign in six months.”

    The percentage of votes for yes was lopsided. Considering the source, the conservative Washington Times, the poll may have been more wishful longing than merely an objective gauge of public opinion about Holder.

    At the very least, it spoke to something that has been near and dear to conservatives virtually from the moment that President Obama announced his intention to nominate Holder for Attorney General in 2008. That something is to convert Holder into the whipping boy for all the GOP’s manufactured alleged sins of the Obama administration. Then once he has served that end, to try and force Obama to dump him, and point to that as example of a president with a penchant for getting a top cabinet official to do the administration’s dirty work.

    Holder is an all-purpose tool in the GOP’s relentless drive to mark Obama as a failed president. The call for Holder’s resignation is not new. Florida Senator Marco Rubio and then GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney called for his ouster last June. The ostensible reason was the hit Holder took for the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious gun sale sting. The call for his resignation got no traction at the time even among GOP Senators. But that didn’t mean Holder was off the hot seat.

    The war against Holder began during his Senate confirmation hearing in 2009. He was grilled over his role as Deputy Attorney General in Bill Clinton’s administration in a handful of controversial Clinton pardons, corporate lobbying, for enforcing the court order to send 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba, and for approving the clemency request for 16 members of the radical Puerto Rican independence group FALN, convicted of a string of terrorist bombings and murders.

    Holder was overwhelmingly confirmed as Attorney General. Yet, the flack he took was only the start. The GOP viewed him as a pawn in their relentless attack plan on Obama. If they could discredit, taint, and tarnish Holder for even the most picayune act, it would be another slap at Obama.

    In that respect, the overblown and manufactured scandals that supposedly rack the Obama Administration have been god sends for the GOP. It couldn’t wait to shove Holder back into the same congressional hot seat, as the fall guy for the administration’s alleged misconduct. The pattern has been agonizingly familiar. A GOP controlled House Committee drags Holder in for testimony on issues from the Justice Department’s target of reporters for leaks to a dredge up of the charges that Holder bungled, lied about, and had some culpability in the death of an operative in the Fast and Furious gun sting.
    Each time, the GOP saber rattles Holder with talk of contempt convictions, lawsuits against him, demands for his firing, or resignation, a perjury investigation, and even threats to start impeachment proceedings against him. It’s media catchy and sensational enough to try and taint Holder in the public and media eye. Typing Holder as the fount of secrecy, manipulation and wrongdoing in the Obama administration will be played and replayed in the run up to the 2014 elections. The aim will be to paint Holder as an incompetent, conniving political hack who supposedly typifies the poor and untrustworthy judgment of Obama in picking his political appointees.

    http://www.eurweb.com/?p=337467

  11. rikyrah says:

    An End to My Frustrations

    by BooMan
    Sun Jun 2nd, 2013 at 10:07:00 AM EST
    Well, I was almost done with a long piece of analytical wriiting on the alarming growth of sectarian fighting in the Middle East, when I was interrupted. The iPad I was using ran out of juice and it erased my article when it finally powered back up. I’ve been trying to write on an iPad with a wireless Bluetooth keyboard for the last week, and it is a torturous experience. My writing has suffered terribly and even my motivation to write has been greatly diminished. I am going to pick up my MacBook Air from the Genius Bar. They fixed it and it is waiting for me. I can’t wait to have it back because trying to write with an iPad feels like making a banjo player use a guitar. I know what I want to do, but it’s just too difficult to pull it off and it doesn’t come out right.

    The two articles I was referencing in my lost article were from the New York Times and the BBC. Perhaps you can read them and start a conversation about their meaning. That’s what I intended to happen this morning.

    http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2013/6/2/1070/26417

  12. rikyrah says:

    That hopey changey thing at the Department of Justice

    In Meridian Mississippi, where 4 of every 10 kids lives below the poverty line the public schools have been routinely jailing black children for offenses like: wrong color socks.

    In Meridian, when schools want to discipline children, they do much more than just send them to the principal’s office. They call the police, who show up to arrest children who are as young as 10 years old. Arrests, the Department of Justice says, happen automatically, regardless of whether the police officer knows exactly what kind of offense the child has committed or whether that offense is even worthy of an arrest. The police department’s policy is to arrest all children referred to the agency.

    Once those children are in the juvenile justice system, they are denied basic constitutional rights. They are handcuffed and incarcerated for days without any hearing and subsequently warehoused without understanding their alleged probation violations. [Colorlines]

    In a display of what Rand Paul would probably find unconstitutional Federal tyranny, the Department of Justice sued the school district, the police, and the local courts. The schools caved first and in March signed a consent order

    This consent decree essentially cancels most, if not all, police intervention for any issues that ca be “safely and appropriately handled under school disciplinary procedures.” This includes: disorderly conduct, school disturbances and disruptions, loitering, trespassing, profanity, dress code violations, and fighting that doesn’t include physical injury or weapons. Further, the school district can not share any information on students’ discipline records with any law enforcement agency unless court-ordered. It also requires schools to track discipline data, including by race, and then take corrective action if they find racial disparities.

    But the heavy handed Feds are not going to stop at little Meridian. They are going to prevent school districts from jailing 10 year olds all over the place as Colorines reports.

    Last month, Jocelyn Samuels, deputy assistant attorney general for DOJ’s civil rights division, told Hing that Meridian “is just the tip of the iceberg,” and that this consent decree could be a model for tackling the national problem of excessive punishment of black students

    http://krebscycle.tumblr.com/post/51912884114/that-hopey-changey-thing-at-the-department-of-justice

  13. rikyrah says:

    May 31, 2013 5:17 PM
    Two Biggest Ideological Challenges For “Conservative Reformers”

    By Ed Kilgore

    Of all the conservative responses to the discussion about “conservative reform” which progressives, notably our own Ryan Cooper, have conducted, the latest from one of Ryan’s subjects, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, is the most interesting and least evasive. Acknowledging the criticisms of “conservative reformers” for vagueness and timidity, Douthat tries to separate the “reforming” sheep from “rebranding” goats, and goes so far as to essay an actual (domestic-only) policy agenda.

    An awful lot of Douthat’s critique of conventional conservatism and his positive agenda is familiar to anyone who’s read his and fellow-reformer Reihan Salam’s periodic efforts to pursue “Sam’s Club Republicanism,” a policy and messaging strategy based on the simple premise that the GOP ought to champion the economic interests and cultural values of its most faithful followers, non-upscale white folks, even if that means departing from limited-government Gospel. So you see his favorite policy idea, “family-friendly tax reform” that reinforces the economic standing of “traditional families” of modest means. Beyond that, because he thinks conservatives should not reflexively defend whatever the business community wants, he encourages an assault on government-provided subsidies and a hostility to big banks. (His support for “market monetarism,” meaning an aversion to the hard-money idolatry of the Pauls and many other ideologues, is reasonably provocative coming from a conservative, though its main champion is another “reformer,” Ramesh Ponnuru). Beyond that, his recommended agenda is mostly conventional: Ryan-style “entitlement reform,” a bare-bones version of health reform, a resolute defense of cultural “traditionalism” (e.g., anti-choice on abortion), though presented more intelligently. His position on immigration is as confused as that of his party.

    While I welcome Douthat’s essay as constructive and illuminating, I do have to say that his kind of “conservative reform” faces two major challenges, beyond the little matter of its lack of support from actual Republican politicians, which he acknowledges (as well he might, since his original patron, Tim Pawlenty, largely abandoned the “Sam’s Club Republican” agenda when he ran for president in 2012, and lost anyway).

    The first is the most obvious: Douthat’s desire for a conservative economic message that doesn’t boil down to “job-creators know best” is not one he pursues that aggressively, and which cuts against a very powerful combination of ideological and donor interests in the GOP. On the first point, I suspect his zest for an anti-corporate subsidy agenda might not go much farther than the usual bashing of alternative-energy subsidies. A real reorientation of conservative economic thinking requires challenging the very basic assumption that capital rather than labor is the source of all good things, and thus that public policy must on every issue—taxes, regulation, trade, labor policy—bend to the almighty will of business owners.

    The second challenge to any “conservative reformer,” which Douthat does not even touch upon, is the fact that the currently ascendant ideological tendency on the Right and in the GOP defines any serious “reform,” and indeed any acknowledgement of the need to adjust to economic or political realities, as heresy. “Constitutional conservatives,” whether they lean libertarian or theocratic, stand firmly for the proposition that there is an eternally relevant, eternally effective, and most of all morally obligatory set of governing policies that brook no “reform,” ever. Mostly rooted in a Golden Age of strictly limited government power and traditionalist culture, probably peaking in the Coolidge Administration, the “constitutional conservative” agenda proclaims itself to be the same today and fifty and a hundred years from now. Jim DeMint isn’t interested in utilizing public policy to address the particular needs of working families right now or ever. Rand Paul doesn’t care about the empirical evidence for and against his positions unless it supports them entirely. And “constitutional conservatives,” almost all of them, could not care less about reflecting public opinion, except as it might bear on pure strategy and tactics; their whole argument is that quasi-absolute property rights and patriarchal culture should stand eternally against any and all popular majorities, even if that requires limiting or in extremis abolishing democracy.

    The scary thing is that “constitutional conservatives” think of themselves as the only genuine “conservative reformers;” every one else is a RINO or a squish or a whore who wants to buy votes with inherently illegitimate public-sector initiatives. And the problem with many of those who truly do want to “reform” conservatism or the Republican Party is that while they are debating with each other and with progressives, the “constitutional conservatives are playing for keeps without self-doubt or any interest in compromise.

    Better deal with that, Ross.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2013_05/two_biggest_ideological_challe045041.php

  14. rikyrah says:

    There is absolutely no f-in way that I would vote for this woman in a Democratic Primary.

    No.way.in.hell.

    …………………………………

    Springfield chaos and a Lisa run?

    BY CAROL MARIN cmarin@suntimes.com
    May 31, 2013 10:46PM

    Let’s pull out the crystal ball and examine why it looks like Attorney General Lisa Madigan is gearing up for a primary challenge to her party’s own incumbent governor. With a little help from her friends.

    The burning question of her potential candidacy has always been whether Lisa can neutralize the Dad problem. Dad being, of course, House Speaker Michael Madigan, the most powerful and polarizing political figure in Illinois.

    On that score, she has already begun. Most recently by making it clear she didn’t agree with Dad’s bill on conceal and carry. It was his original proposal that the NRA secretly liked but pretended to be neutral on. And that the attorney general didn’t agree with.

    Speaker Madigan, who is nothing if not strategic, happily acknowledged this squabble with his independent-minded daughter.

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/marin/20456113-452/springfield-chaos-and-a-lisa-run.html

  15. rikyrah says:

    Burke’s Law: Chicago alderman cashes in thanks to tax limit he helped enact

    By TIM NOVAK Staff Reporter | tnovak@suntimes.com
    June 1, 2013 2:10AM

    Ald. Edward M. Burke, the most powerful member of Chicago’s City Council, is also Edward M. Burke, attorney at law. His specialty: getting property-tax cuts and refunds for an A-list of business clients that includes Commonwealth Edison, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Avis Rent a Car and dozens of other companies that do business with City Hall.

    As alderman, Burke helped pass a measure in 2002 that sharply limited City Hall’s ability to get in the way when his law clients go before an obscure state agency appealing for refunds of property taxes they thought were too high.

    Burke (14th) was hardly the only alderman to vote for the resolution, which passed 47-0 and got so little attention at the time that even the head of the state agency it affects says he was unaware of it until now.

    But unlike other members of the City Council, Burke had a financial stake in his vote, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found.

    That appears to be a violation of the city ethics code, which bars elected officials from voting on matters that financially benefit themselves, though it’s unclear whether violators face any penalty.

    In the decade since the City Council passed the measure, Klafter & Burke, the small downtown law firm the alderman heads, has won more than $3.1 million in tax refunds and interest payments by convincing the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board to reduce the assessments for real estate the firm’s clients own in the city of Chicago, state and county tax records show. City Hall couldn’t challenge him in those cases or chose not to.

    http://www.suntimes.com/20001549-761/burkes-law-chicago-alderman-cashes-in-thanks-to-tax-limit-he-helped-enact.html

  16. rikyrah says:

    South suburban school board has three felons on it

    BY FRANK MAIN Staff Reporter/fmain@suntimes.com
    June 1, 2013 9:56AM

    Three members of a south suburban school board are felons — and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office is considering whether to seek their removal from office, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

    Joe Louis Sherman, Mark Mitchell and James J. Coleman are members of Ford Heights Public School District 169. They have presided over an estimated budget of $8.8 million for the current school year.

    Court records show that Sherman was convicted of battery and retail theft, Mitchell of marijuana possession, and Coleman of illegal possession of a gun — all felonies.

    Elected school district officials are barred from holding office if they are “convicted in any court in the state of Illinois or of the United States of a felony, bribery, perjury or other infamous crime.” Last year, a state appeals court upheld a decision to bar a Peoria man from running for a school board seat because he was convicted of a felony. He was convicted of theft in 1984.

    “It’s clear-cut,” said Burt Odelson, a south suburban attorney who specializes in municipalities and school boards. “You can’t hold an elected school office if you’re convicted of a felony. I’ve been doing this for a long time. There is no wiggle room.”

    Odelson said the state’s attorney’s office should file lawsuits to remove Sherman, Mitchell and Coleman from office.

    http://www.suntimes.com/20132540-761/south-suburban-school-board-has-three-felons-on-it.html

  17. rikyrah says:

    May 31, 2013 5:44 PM
    Push Coming to Shove on Immigration

    By Ed Kilgore

    The first big public rift in the coalition supporting the Senate Gang of Eight immigration bill is coming to light, per this report from The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, and it’s predictable enough:

    Pro-immigrant advocates are pushing back against the Gang of Eight’s strategy to win 70 votes or more for comprehensive immigration reform, fearing it would require too many concessions to Republicans.

    Liberal advocates of comprehensive immigration reform argue the bill only needs 60 votes to clear the Senate and that additional concessions to pad the vote total are not necessary.

    Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other members of the gang are pushing for 70 votes to give it maximum political momentum out of the upper chamber.

    But the cost of winning 15 to 17 Republican votes could prove steep. Pro-immigrant advocates are leery of proposed changes to strengthen enforcement provisions, which could lengthen the already arduous path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.

    Probably the easiest way to look at it is that a 70-vote bill would produce a product closer to the kind of stunted and punitive “reforms” likely to emerge from the House. But that doesn’t really mean “momentum” for the Senate bill; it could just as easily generate additional demands for concessions by House Republicans.

    But it’s no accident the biggest champion for additional changes in the Senate bill is Marco Rubio, who is quoted extensively in Bolton’s article. Assuming he has any interest in running for president ever, he needs to narrow the gap between “his” Senate bill and the position of conservatives in and beyond both chambers. Beyond that, the credit he’s due to get from “Establishment Republicans” for dragging his party into an immigration reform effort its base largely despises goes right down the drain if he can’t eventually get a bill enacted, even if it’s a pale imitation of what he professes to favor.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2013_05/push_coming_to_shove_on_immigr045042.php

  18. rikyrah says:

    Again, Let’s Focus on the Real Scandal

    by BooMan
    Sat Jun 1st, 2013 at 04:37:20 PM EST

    For whatever reason, the people who make Camel cigarettes decided to disclose that they had made large contributions to Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers last year. I suppose that the disclosure is commendable, but I wonder what type of social welfare they thought they were promoting when they paid for right-wing attack ads. The whole 501(4)(c) thing is a scam that big corporations use to fund right-wing politics. The IRS should have pounded these groups into dust, and yet they gave every single one of them tax-exempt status. Sure, they slow-footed them a bit and asked some impertinent questions, but they ultimately gave them what they wanted, which was the right to raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations in a naked effort to get Mitt Romney elected president, and to do it without disclosure or taxation.

    The IRS should not be partisan in any sense, but they also shouldn’t be stupid. These 501(4)(c) groups are not involved in social welfare. They are involved primarily in politics, usually for the furtherance of Republican aims.

    http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2013/6/1/163720/8404

  19. rikyrah says:

    The Fake Story About the IRS Commissioner and the White House
    White House records show Douglas Shulman signed in for 11 visits, not 157, between 2009 and 2012.

    Garance Franke-Ruta May 31 2013, 10:35 AM ET

    The latest twist in the conservative effort to tie the IRS tax-exempt targeting scandal to the president is to focus on public visitor records released by the White House, in which former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman’s name appears 157 times between 2009 and 2012. Unfortunately, few of those pushing this line have bothered to read more than the topline of that public information. Bill O’Reilly on Thursday called them the “smoking gun” and demanded of Shulman, “You must explain under oath what you were doing at the White House on 157 separate occasions.” His statement built on a Daily Caller story, “IRS’s Shulman had more public White House visits than any Cabinet member.” An Investors Business Daily story and slew of blog items repeated the charges.

    “The alibi the White House has wedded itself to is that it had to work closely with the IRS to implement ObamaCare,” the Investor’s Business Daily has written — as if that were not true.

    And yet the public meeting schedules available for review to any media outlet show that very thing: Shulman was cleared primarily to meet with administration staffers involved in implementation of the health-care reform bill. He was cleared 40 times to meet with Obama’s director of the Office of Health Reform, and a further 80 times for the biweekly health reform deputies meetings and others set up by aides involved with the health-care law implementation efforts. That’s 76 percent of his planned White House visits just there, before you even add in all the meetings with Office of Management and Budget personnel also involved in health reform.

    Complicating the picture is the fact that just because a meeting was scheduled and Shulman was cleared to attend it does not mean that he actually went. Routine events like the biweekly health-care deputies meeting would have had a standing list of people cleared to attend, people whose White House appointments would have been logged and forwarded to the check-in gate. But there is no time of arrival information in the records to confirm that Shulman actually signed in and went to these standing meetings.

    Indeed, of the 157 events Shulman was cleared to attend, White House records only provide time of arrival information — confirming that he actually went to them — for 11 events over the 2009-2012 period, and time of departure information for only six appointments. According to the White House records, Shulman signed in twice in 2009, five times in 2010, twice in 2011, and twice in 2012. That does not mean that he did not go to other meetings, only that the White House records do not show he went to the 157 meetings he was granted Secret Service clearance to attend.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/05/the-fake-story-about-the-irs-commissioner-and-the-white-house/276399/

    • CarolMaeWY says:

      I read somewhere Fox News is bragging about George W. Bush and his IRS commissioner was there only once. They are reaching. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . :)

  20. rikyrah says:

    June 01, 2013 9:13 AM
    American Austerity

    By Ryan Cooper

    The chart above (borrowed from Jim Pethokoukis) shows the rather staggering amount of austerity the US economy has been trying to choke down this year, mostly coming from the fiscal cliff deal and the sequester. A couple months ago, I was worried this would tip the country back into recession, but so far growth seems to be holding up quite well. What gives?

    First, it’s still a bit early. The sequester is only just beginning to bite, and consumers may yet cut back. We’ll have a better picture of this in a couple quarters.

    Second, the market monetarist crowd argues that free monetary policy means austerity has no effect on the economy (the “monetary offset”), but I’m not convinced. The counterfactual is that growth would have been stronger, and that’s difficult to disprove. Growth is still weak and the labor market is still horrible. And as Steve Roth points out, it’s hard to know what we’d be giving the Fed credit for, since they haven’t changed any policies or statements, except to state baldly that “fiscal policy is restraining economic growth.”

    So, on balance, I’d say austerity is still a bad idea for the United States. There’s especially no reason to keep squeezing lower-income Americans, who have been taking it on the chin for 40 years, with increased payroll taxes. Doubly so when US borrowing rates are at historic lows.

    However, having a Fed at least kinda-sorta committed to keeping the economy tottering along surely helps. Austerity has been doubly damaging in Europe because the European Central Bank doesn’t seem to care at all about keeping its weaker countries from falling to bits. This turned minor problems into major ones and major problems into catastrophes as multiple panics ripped through the periphery unrestrained. Trying to lure the “confidence fairy” through budget cutting is a mug’s game, but a collapse of confidence from policy mistakes (like, say, letting Lehman Brothers fail) can do stupendous damage.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2013_06/american_austerity045046.php

  21. rikyrah says:

    No political daylight for GOP in Virginia
    By Steve Benen
    Fri May 31, 2013 3:57 PM EDT

    For Virginia Democrats, the strategy for this year’s statewide elections came into sharp focus after the Virginia Republicans’ recent nominating convention. Step 1: explain to the commonwealth that the GOP slate is unusually radical, even by contemporary Republican standards. Step 2: make the case that there’s no real difference between the various culture warriors who’ll be on the same ballot.

    To that end, E.W. Jackson, the unhinged candidate for lieutenant governor, did Virginia Democrats a pretty big favor today.

    For those who can’t watch clips online, Jackson appeared on a radio show this morning and was asked about possible areas of disagreement between himself and gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli (R).

    “We are in fundamental agreement. I’ve heard that this ticket is probably more homogeneous than almost any ticket ever in the history of Virginia. So there’s no stark disagreement between us.”

    You can almost hear Virginia Democrats smiling.

    http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/05/31/18660578-no-political-daylight-for-gop-in-virginia?lite

  22. rikyrah says:

    Regular Order, Meet Schadenfreude

    Patrick Caldwell

    Republicans in the Senate have taken a few hasty steps back from calls for normal procedure now that Democrats have assembled a budget.

    May 30, 2013

    Regular order. For the past few months, it’s been a Republican byword, the potential cure to all that ails Washington. “The right process is the regular order,” Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, said in a statement this past January. “A second term presents the opportunity to do things differently, and in the Senate that means a return to regular order,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor earlier this year. “I believe that it’s time to do regular order,” House Speaker John Boehner told ABC News in March.

    The ceaseless parade of commissions, super committees, and gangs of six and eight could be traced back to the lack of a Democratic budget for these regular-order evangelicals. After all, Senate Democrats hadn’t even managed to propose a budget since the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency.

    For the latest issue of the Prospect, Jamelle Bouie and I profiled Patty Murray, the senior senator from Washington state who took over as chair of the Senate Budget Committee at the start of the year. It was an unenviable spot. Unlike her predecessor Kent Conrad, Murray was determined to produce a budget within the first few months at the gavel. She didn’t have much choice in the matter either: Republicans had demanded a new Democratic budget as a precondition before agreeing to increase the debt ceiling at the end of January. But Murray managed to marshal the competing elements of her party and pass a budget through an all-night voting session in the middle of March by a slim 50-49 vote. While the GOP voted against it en bloc, many Republicans praised Murray for at least getting operations back to normal. “I just want to commend Senator Murray … for conducting an open, complete, and full debate,” McConnell said on the floor just before the budget’s passage. “I know everyone is exhausted and you may not feel it at the moment, but this is one of the Senate’s finest days in recent years.”

    In late April when I asked Paul Ryan, Murray’s counterpart as the House GOP’s budget leader, if he expected to soon sit across the table from Murray at a conference committee, he said, “I assume. I do expect ultimately we will.”

    But despite being avowed regular-order groupies, Republicans haven’t followed through. Once both sides of Congress passed their budgets, both parties should have appointed representatives to a conference committee—a series of meetings where the two sides would hash out the differences between the competing budgets. Ryan and Murray spoke regularly throughout March and April to discuss forming a conference committee, but Ryan refused to cede ground and start the process. The conservatives in his party have stopped Republicans from beginning official negotiations until Democrats agree to give up on tax increases and raising the debt ceiling through the conference committee.

    ………………………………………….

    Left with no other options as House Republicans dilly-dallied and refused to appoint conferees, Harry Reid asked for unanimous consent to begin selecting members for the conference committee, only to be blocked. “After giving the Republicans what they said they wanted, regular order, countless votes and passage of a budget resolution, a strange thing happened: House Republicans did a complete 180,” Reid said in frustration when Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey blocked his request in late April. “They flipped. They’re no longer interested in regular order.” Since then, Murray has marched onto the Senate floor nine times to request a move toward conference, only to be stymied by GOP senators.

    http://prospect.org/article/regular-order-meet-schadenfreude

  23. rikyrah says:

    That Story You Knew Was Bullshit? Yeah, It Was Bullshit.

    —By Kevin Drum
    | Fri May. 31, 2013 9:25 AM PDT

    If you have a life, you may have missed Wednesday’s blockbuster Daily Caller story about IRS commissioner Doug Shulman’s 157 visits to the Obama White House. The number of White House visits over the past four years, the Caller reported breathlessly, “strongly suggests coordination by White House officials in the campaign against the president’s political opponents.”

    You may have noticed that I didn’t bother blogging about this in real time. I was too busy trying to decide whether to slit my wrists or jump off a tall building, so I didn’t have time. The story was obvious bullshit,1 of the kind the Caller specializes in, but who’s got the time to figure out exactly how and why it’s bullshit? And who was going to volunteer to spend a day of their lives they’d never get back debunking it?

    Well, the answer turns out to be Garance Franke-Ruta. And the explanation for all those entries in the White House log, roughly speaking, is (a) the fact that Shulman was cleared for a meeting doesn’t mean he actually attended a meeting, (b) nearly all of Shulman’s meetings were related to a biweekly group working on healthcare reform, and (c) virtually all of the meetings took place in buildings other than the White House.

    Is it worth clicking the link and reading the details? On the one hand, no, of course not. Are you serious? On the other hand, Franke-Ruta deserves to have her heroic efforts get some love. It’s your call.

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/05/story-you-knew-was-bullshit-yeah-it-was-bullshit

  24. rikyrah says:

    Can the GOP base really kill immigration reform? Not if Republicans don’t let it.

    By Greg Sargent, Published: May 31, 2013 at 2:14 pmE-mail the writer

    Will House Republicans really kill immigration reform, at a time when even some Republicans are worried that failure to repair relations with Latinos could seriously complicate the party’s chances in national elections for years to come?

    Well, one thing that is certain is that a majority of House Republicans may, indeed, vote against it in the end. And the reason why, as my Post colleague Aaron Blake points out, is that House Republicans may not be willing to support a path to citizenship, out of fear of facing primaries. He cites some recent Post/ABC News and Quinnipiac polling to support this argument:

    If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find there’s plenty for Republicans to lose by supporting a path to citizenship.

    According to the Post-ABC poll, 37 percent of Republicans say voting for a path to citizenship is a deal-breaker for them, while 12 percent say voting against it is a deal-breaker.

    The Q poll, similarly, shows that 36 percent of Republicans would be less likely to support someone who votes for a path to citizenship, while 15 percent would be more likely.

    In other words, for Republicans whose districts are so red that they only have to worry about their primaries — which is about two-thirds or three-fourths of House Republicans — it seems clear that voting against immigration reform is actually the more politically expedient path.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/05/31/can-the-gop-base-really-kill-immigration-reform-not-if-republicans-dont-let-it/

  25. rikyrah says:

    This Week in God
    By Steve Benen

    Sat Jun 1, 2013 9:56 AM EDT

    First up from the God Machine this week is a look at the unfortunate ways in which social-conservative activists are responding to American women’s economic empowerment.

    The Pew Research Center released a report this week that found women are now the sole or primary source of family income in 40% of U.S. households with children. These findings led to a bizarre Fox segment, featuring Lou Dobbs and his panel of all-male guests, who condemned the cultural/socioeconomic shift,

    As my friend Kyle Mantyla reported, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer raised some related concerns.

    For those who can’t watch clips online, Fischer cited his vision of a “biblical” family model, citing men’s “physical strength” and “brain power,” and the need for women for “to focus her energies … on making a home for her children and for her husband.” Fischer then argued

    “I don’t think it’s a healthy dynamic to have a wife out-earn her husband, because so much of his sense of worth as a male is tied up in what he does vocationally and providing for his family. That’s his calling. It’s not his wife’s job to provide for his family; he knows that it’s his job. And if he has a wife who out-earns him, I think that’s going to put some stress on his psyche. It’s going to put some stress on that marriage.

    In other words, according to this prominent leader in the religious right movement, women shouldn’t earn more money than men, because men’s feelings might be hurt — and the male “psyche” can’t handle it.

    http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/06/01/18679581-this-week-in-god?lite

  26. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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