Serendipity SOUL |Thursday Open Thread | Wes Montgomery Week!

Happy Thursday,, Everyone. Hope you’re enjoying the late, great, Mr. Wes Montgomery.


Wes Montgomery in Holland

George Benson & Lee Ritenour – Wes Montgomery Tribute

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55 Responses to Serendipity SOUL |Thursday Open Thread | Wes Montgomery Week!

  1. rikyrah says:

    Harvard Law student graduates at 22
    By Akilah Johnson
    | Globe Staff

    May 30, 2013

    On a recent Wednesday afternoon, 22-year-old Cortlan Wickliff walks into a pizzeria looking every bit the college student, with headphones, braces, and slightly overgrown hair. Finals are over, and there’s not much to do but have dinner with friends and watch movies, lots of movies, until graduation.

    Oh, and start studying for the bar exam.

    When Wickliff dons his cap and gown, regalia his mother had to remind him to order, the Texas native will be one of the youngest African-Americans ever to graduate from Harvard Law School.

    Wickliff was 19 when he graduated from Houston’s Rice University with a degree in bio­engineering in 2010. That fall he started law school, but said the age gap with his classmates, about five to six years, was not the biggest issue.

    “Being at a school where there aren’t any right answers when you have been in engineering or sciences classes, that’s a bit of a change,” he said with a shrug. “School was different because of my engineering background, being from the South, being from Texas, rather than different because of my age.”

    ‘Whenever you go somewhere you’re supposed to leave it better than when you came.’

    There is no age requirement for admission to Harvard Law; school administrators said the average age in the graduating Class of 2013 is 27. Students need strong test scores and grades. But more than anything, they must show an aptitude for advocating a point of view, something proven through work experience, extra­curricular activities, volunteering, leadership positions.

    “This is really about the classroom debate,” said Jessica Soban, an assistant dean and chief admissions officer at the law school. “In order to become an effective attorney, you have to be an effective advocate. And becoming an effective advocate comes with having your opinions and thoughts challenged in the classroom.”

    As a first-year law student, Wickliff seemed “puzzled and a bit overwhelmed” by the classroom comments made by his older and more experienced colleagues, said professor Charles Ogletree. But, as the ­semester progressed, Wickliff matured, Ogletree said.

    And by the time Wickliff submitted his final criminal law paper as a second-year student, Ogletree said, “I saw remarkable advancement in his ability to comprehend complex legal issues but also present them in straightforward fashion.”

    Wickliff’s paper was on the crack cocaine epidemic and result­ing mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines that mandate certain amounts of jail time for certain crimes.

    A law school degree is the second in a three-degree plan Wickliff created as an elementary school student. He decided to own and operate a medical device company, all before age 26. He learned that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. graduated from Boston University with a doctorate in theology at 26 and thought: “That seems really cool. I want to do that, too.”

    Wickliff initially wanted to be a doctor, but not being a fan of blood, he opted to build the devices that help doctors do their work. His resolve strengthened at 10 when his ­father died of a heart attack in a Texas town without a hospital.

  2. rikyrah says:

    further proof as to why Chris Hayes’ show can’t find viewers


    Democrat for Obama @areyou0

    Poll finds overwhelming support for drone strikes – NBC Politics … via @NBCnews
    3:44 PM – 6 Jun 2013

  3. rikyrah says:

    Change Nation @ChangeNation

    DREAMers and families hold a sit-in in @MarcoRubio ‘s office today demanding he show leadership on #CIR
    3:03 PM – 6 Jun 2013

  4. rikyrah says:

    Obama nominee behind ‘driving while black’ case
    by Nedra Pickler, Associated Press | June 5, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    A federal judge President Barack Obama wants to promote to the appellate bench successfully sued the Maryland State Police for racial profiling after his family was pulled over and searched for drugs while driving back from a funeral.

    The 1992 search has been at the center of two decades of litigation that’s become known as the “driving while black” case. U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins has shown an unyielding effort to combat racial profiling in drug stops through three subsequent lawsuits, the final one ultimately decided just this year.

    Wilkins, whom Obama nominated Tuesday to the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has said his family’s roadside detention for an eventual search by a drug-sniffing dog was a “humiliating and degrading experience” and he’s been determined to use the courts to prevent it from happening to others.

    The Wilkins stop came on May 8, 1992, during an all-night road trip home from his grandfather’s funeral in Chicago. His cousin Scott El-Amin was driving in their rented Cadillac, and his uncle and his uncle’s wife were also in the car. Wilkins has said they were hurrying because they were all due at work in the morning — Wilkins, then a public defender in Washington, had a court appearance scheduled.

    The family was stopped by a trooper who said they were going 60 mph in a 40 mph zone, and El-Amin was cited for speeding. They declined the trooper’s request to search their car and were told as a consequence they would have to wait for a canine search. As Wilkins tells it, the officer mentioned something about “problems with rental cars coming up and down the highway with drugs.”

    Wilkins said he identified himself as a public defender and cited Supreme Court precedent that they could not be held for a dog search without a reasonable suspicion they were carrying drugs. ButWilkins said the family was made to stand in the rain while the German shepherd sniffed over the car and found nothing, while the delay caused him to miss his court appearance, according to an account he provided at a 2009 world conference on racism held at the United Nations in Switzerland.

    “It is hard to describe the frustration and pain you feel when people presume you to be guilty for no good reason and you know that you are innocent,” Wilkins said in remarks prepared for delivery at the conference.

    Wilkins noted the stop came the same week as the Los Angeles riots in response to the police beating of Rodney King. “This was a time when black people all over the United States were asking themselves whether the country was making tangible progress in fighting racial discrimination and whether the country’s vaunted legal system was truly equipped and able to right these wrongs. We decided to take legal action,” he said.

    Wilkins said they uncovered a Maryland State Police criminal intelligence report that notified troopers of crack cocaine coming through the mountainous region of western Maryland, with traffickers who were predominantly black and traveling early in the morning or late at night in rental cars with Virginia registration.

    “Well, we fit the profile to a tee,” Wilkins said. “We were traveling on I-68, early in the morning, in a Virginia rental car. And, my cousin and I, the front seat passengers, were young black males. The only problem was that we were not dangerous, armed drug traffickers. It should not be suspicious to travel on the highway early in the morning in a Virginia rental car. And it should not be suspicious to be black.”

    Their suit was settled was settled in 1995. The Maryland State Police paid $50,000 to the four family members, $46,000 in attorney fees and banned racial profiling in drug stops. It required record keeping for all traffic stops with a narcotics dog, monitoring by a federal judge, training for troopers on the new policy and discipline for those who violated it.

    Wilkins said his family began to monitor Maryland State Police data and immediately saw a disturbing trend — 70-75 percent of those searched on Interstate 95 were black, even though only blacks made up only 17 percent of drivers traveling there. Wilkins said they filed another suit — this time a class action on behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and all minority motorists targeted for stops. After several years of negotiation, a second settlement was reached in 2003 requiring enhanced trooper training, a new process to handle racial profiling complaints and more oversight of the agency’s handling of it.

  5. rikyrah says:

    ‘Mad Men’ and black characters: Negative depictions in the name of diversity?
    by Mary C. Curtis | June 2, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    It’s all about choice. When artists create, they decide what to present, what to leave out and what to make up. A work of art need not follow any script, except the one in its creator’s head.

    But when part of the appeal of that creation is realism, a promise that the fiction accurately depicts what is or what was, the game changes and the artist should be prepared for the criticism that is sure to follow if his or her version of truth seems inaccurate.

    Calling for diversity when recreating history

    In 2013, in a diverse country, a television show that doesn’t reflect that diversity often has to deflect negative attacks from anyone who notices. Ask Lena Dunham, whose hit Girls on HBO depicts a city that my similarly-educated, 20-something New Yorker son would not recognize — a mostly-white one. Though she has been both praised and criticized for its monochromatic navel gazing, even many of her defenders concede the point that the show lacks a realistic depiction of racial variety.

    But make a period piece, and you’re immune from such a modern conundrum, right?

    This brings me to the AMC television show Mad Men, one I came to love back in 2007 because of the exquisite art direction, but stayed with for its complex storytelling and deft writing. In the foreground, it’s about the goings-on at a Madison Avenue advertising agency in the mid-1960s, and the relationships of agency staffers with their clients and one another. That bright world of wealth and Manhattan skyscrapers contrasts with what happens in the background, which is most of the real story. With its infidelities, double crosses, unhappy marriages and lonely suburban outposts, this world of boozing men and women is often grimy and corrupt.

    Mad Times: Getting some things right

    With the outwardly impervious creative director Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) leading the way, the show gets a lot right even as seen through an exaggerated TV lens – the cocktails and cigarettes, the casual sexism and racism.

    The impeccable casting includes Robert Morse – that imp from the mid-1960s high-finance satire How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying – all grown up now as an agency grand pooh-bah in the role of Bertram “Bert” Cooper. Subtle creative choices like these make the depictions in Mad Men superb.

    It doesn’t really bother me that pivotal events of this era, such as the Vietnam War, the assassinations of JFK and his brother Robert Kennedy, and the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, are experienced through its privileged main characters’ eyes. Isn’t that often the way the self-centered view important events? The show still manages to reflect its turbulent decade of war, protests and violence, as women and minorities demand access to rights their society has denied them.

    These depictions are accurate. Mostly, anyway.

  6. rikyrah says:

    House Republicans playing a very dangerous game on immigration

    By Greg Sargent, Published: June 6, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I’m not sure it’s fully appreciated just how dangerous a political game House Republicans are playing on immigration right now. Far right Republicans in the House are not just at risk of taking the blame for killing immigration reform. It’s potentially worse than that: They are at risk of taking the blame for killing the immigration overhaul over health care reform, something that is broadly popular among Latinos.

    Consider what is happening with the negotiations among the House “Gang of Eight” over their own immigration plan right now. Here’s what we know: GOP Rep. Raul Labrador, a key voice in the House on immigration, walked away from the House Gang of Eight talks last night because of differences over health care. In the statement Labrador released last night, his office said he could no longer support the emerging House compromise unless it required “that illegal immigrants would be responsible for their own health care costs, principally through requiring them to purchase health insurance.”

    A source close to the talks tells me that Labrador wanted undocumented immigrants who don’t cover their own health care costs to face deportation. What this would appear to mean, in effect, is that any undocumented immigrant might face a choice between not seeking, say, emergency room care (which would ultimately be covered by government) and potential deportation. (A Labrador spokesman didn’t immediately comment.)

    What that source tells me isn’t all that far off of a recent Los Angeles Times report, which said Republicans were balking at the House Gang of Eight talks because they wanted those on the pathway to citizenship who don’t purchase their own health coverage to face deportation. Dems have denounced this as too harsh, since many of them might be unable to afford their own coverage.

  7. rikyrah says:

    The Morning Plum: Immigration reform may be in trouble

    By Greg Sargent, Published: June 6, 2013 at 9:26 amE-mail the writer

    The fate of immigration reform comes down to this simple question: Can Republicans accept a pathway to citizenship that cannot be undermined by border security “triggers” that are deliberately designed for the very purpose of undercutting the prospects for real reform?

    GOP Senator John Cornyn has been pushing a new immigration compromise that would dramatically strengthen the border security “triggers” that would have to be met to make a path to citizenship operative. The argument is that this is the only way enough Republicans can be enticed to support reform to enable it to pass the Senate in broad numbers. Senate Democratic aides are rejecting Cornyn’s proposal, arguing that it is deliberately designed to make the pathway to citizenship unattainable — in other words, to undermine the core of reform.

    This has put Marco Rubio in a box, and it needs to be acknowledged that Cornyn’s move really does threaten the prospects for reform. Frank Sharry, of the pro-immigration America’s Voice, explains why in an email to me:

    Cornyn is trying to box Rubio in, and if he does, we’ve got a problem. Cornyn is taking dead aim at hardening the triggers – threatens the path to citizenship in a big way – in hopes of dragging Rubio to the right. The problem is that Rubio going right loses many Dems. Dicey moment. Cornyn stepped out in front with a proposal for more border security in way that undermines the path to citizenship. Rubio either goes with Cornyn — to look more conservative — and threatens the bipartisan core support for reform, or says no to Cornyn and looks weak, damaging the chance to get 15 Republicans to come in board.

    In other words, Cornyn has undercut Rubio by staking out a position much further to the right of the Gang of Eight compromise that Rubio had been taking (he’s been saying some changes are needed, but not to the degree Cornyn wants). This risks making Rubio look like he isn’t the real guardian of conservative interests in the negotiations. Rubio has already been very sensitive to this perception, which is why he’s been making noise about defecting from the Gang of Eight compromise. Cornyn has just further undercut Rubio’s delicate balancing act.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Obama Jabs Republicans By Calling Susan Rice a Patriot Who Puts Country First

    By: Jason Easley
    Jun. 5th, 2013

    While introducing National Security Adviser appointee Susan Rice, President Obama took a jab at Republicans by describing her as a patriot who puts her country first.

    The president starting off by praising outgoing National Security Adviser Tom Donilon. The president then announced that Susan Rice will be taking his place. He also nominated Samantha Power to take over for Rice as UN ambassador. The president called Rice an exemplary public servant. He said that he was “absolutely thrilled” that Rice will be back at his side leading his national security team. Obama said, “Susan is a patriot who puts her country first…” He also praised her record as the UN Ambassador. The president praised his nominee to replace Rice, Samantha Power and urged the Senate to confirm her immediately.

    If Rice is a patriot who puts country first, what does that make the congressional Republicans who demonized with their Benghazi conspiracy? The president’s use of the phrase country first was interesting because that was also John McCain’s campaign slogan when he ran for president in 2008.

  9. rikyrah says:

    Why the Virginia gubernatorial race matters for 2014

    By Jamelle Bouie, Published: June 6, 2013 at 11:48 amE-mail the writer

    Michelle Obama is heading to Virginia this evening, to speak in support of Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate in the commonwealth’s widely watched gubernatorial race.

    This election is more important than it looks. Remember, the 2009 race in Virginia was something of a preview for the Congressional elections of 2010. Barack Obama won the state by more than four points the previous year — making him the first Democrat to do so since 1964 — but he couldn’t transfer the energy of his supporters to the Democratic nominee, state Senator Creigh Deeds. The result was a win for the Republican candidate, Attorney General Bob McDonnell, who took advantage of low-turnout and anti-Obama discontent to claim a 19-point victory over Deeds. That was a harbinger of what happened in the 2010 midterm elections.

    Ken Cuccinelli doesn’t have the polish of McDonnell, and isn’t as plausibly moderate as the current governor. Whereas McDonnell came across as a center-right technocrat — the kind of candidates Virginians tend to rally behind (see: Mark Warner) — Cuccinelli’s national reputation is build on his extremism and fealty to Tea Party ideology. It’s why he holds such low favorability ratings with Virginia voters: according to the most recent survey from robofirm Public Policy Polling, forty-four percent of Virginians have an unfavorable opinion of the Attorney General, and among independents — the crucial demographic in Virginia — that number rises to 51 percent. Only 25 percent of independents have a favorable opinion of Cuccinelli, for a net unfavorable rating of 26 percent.

    But here’s the thing. Given the extremely low turnout of gubernatorial elections — the drop-off between 2008 and 2009 was close to fifty percent — Cuccinelli doesn’t have to be popular with Virginia voters to win, he just needs his supporters to come out in droves. Which isn’t a hard task. Not only is he the favorite of conservative Virginians, but the voters most likely to support Republicans — older whites — predominate in the commonwealth’s off-year elections.

    For Dem challenger Terry McAuliffe to win, he needs to match enthusiasm with enthusiasm. And as National Journal reports, recreating the turnout of Barack Obama’s operation has been the key project in the McAuliffe camp:

  10. rikyrah says:

    Mitchell: Rush-Kirk clash exposes class, race divide

    June 5, 2013 6:08PM

    The clash between Sen. Mark Kirk and Rep. Bobby Rush over how best to rid the city of gangs tells us a lot of why Chicago is struggling to end violence.

    The Chicago region may pass itself off as a “city of neighborhoods,” but the reality is we are still deeply divided by race and class.

    That division was on full display when Kirk, a Republican who lives near Highland Park, naively suggested that 18,000 black men be rounded up and put into jail for being gang members.

    Unbeknownst to Kirk, his remarks put him on the opposite side of most black people in a national conversation about mass incarceration sparked by Michelle Alexander’s best-selling book, “The New Jim Crow.”

    Even many of those impacted by street crime have come to realize that mass incarceration hasn’t worked.

    Instead of improving the quality of life in lower- and working-class communities, it has disrupted life by putting men in jail and returning them to our neighborhoods without any skills, or even the ability to earn an honest living.

    The resentment over the failed policies that has led to the devastation of many urban communities is boiling over, which partly explains why Rush lambasted Kirk’s approach to ending the cycle of violence in Chicago as an “upper-middle-class, elitist, white-boy solution to a problem he knows nothing about.”

    Needless to say, Rush shouldn’t have used a term loaded with racial disrespect. But Rush was not apologetic when I spoke to him on Wednesday, a day after he met with Kirk.

    “When I called him a ‘white boy’ it was not so much about personality, but mentality,” he told me Wednesday. “He comes from Kenilworth, and Kenilworth ain’t K-Town. There’s a K-Town worldview and a Kenilworth viewpoint.

    “His is a world of privilege and influence. Mine is a world of the underprivileged and poverty. That clash was articulated by me in terms of dealing with his mentality of a superior, privileged, smarter than thou,” he said.

  11. rikyrah says:

    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka

    I don’t see Greenwald, Emoprogs & some media folks being outraged about Stop & Frisk, but they’re mad about stuff we’ve known since 2001. Ok
    1:19 PM – 6 Jun 2013

  12. rikyrah says:

    The White House Smacks Around Fox News For Using Susan Rice to Revive Benghazi
    By: Jason Easley
    Jun. 5th, 2013

    Ed Henry of Fox News tried to use Susan Rice’s appointment to revive the Benghazi conspiracy, but was immediately smacked down White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.


    Henry: You described (Rice) as one of the most qualified, experienced foreign policy experts in America. If that’s the case, how did she get the information on Benghazi so wrong five days after the attack?

    Carney: Ed, I would welcome the opportunity to correct the record especially for some news outlets who persist in misrepresenting the facts. You have seen the so-called talking points. You have seen the testimony of the deputy director of the CIA and the documents that demonstrate that the central point that they made was drafted in the first instance and every instance thereafter.

    Henry: Then why did various intelligence officers say that they almost immediately knew that this was terror and if she’s so experienced why wouldn’t she see that as they saw it?

    Carney: So you are suggesting that a senior member of the national security team should disagree with the assessments of the intelligence community because somebody appeared on Fox News and said something?

    Why yes, that’s exactly what Ed Henry was suggesting. Henry and Fox News are following the orders of the conservative think tanks to the letter. They are going to try to turn everything into a connection to an Obama “scandal,” but as you can see Jay Carney wasn’t about to play along.

  13. rikyrah says:

    Quinn says he’s ready to deal on pensions, but Madigan’s not around

    June 4, 2013 2:12PM

    On Tuesday, Gov. Pat Quinn revealed that he was scrambling to get hold of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who was a no-show for a pension meeting with the governor and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton.

    A busy signal would have been good news.

    Instead, Quinn said that Madigan, who is out of state, doesn’t even carry a cellphone, leaving the governor to trade messages with Madigan’s wife in an effort to get the speaker plugged into a meeting via phone.

    Playing hooky from such meetings isn’t unusual in the Madigan playbook. He often frustrated ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his staff by not showing up at meetings to talk about budget issues or a statewide construction program in his Statehouse office. Three of the four legislative leaders typically would appear, but a chair for the speaker would remain empty in a sign of how deeply the two men disliked each other. Leading up to Friday’s anti-climactic ending of the spring legislative session, it was also a rarity for Quinn, Cullerton and Madigan to sit together in the same room, though they all engaged in shuttle diplomacy individually.

    Madigan has amassed so much power, he answers to few people. Catching him in the hallway in the state Capitol and extracting a comment is considered breaking news.

    “His public approval rating isn’t something that motivates or explains a lot of his behavior,” said Springfield political and policy expert Kent Redfield. “If the speaker chose to absent himself, that’s an indication that he thinks he has the better hand and that time’s on his side. I think there’s no reason to get together if you don’t have a plan. Right now, Madigan’s plan, I believe, is that the Senate is going to have to come to him and that time’s on his side. He feels he’s got the bill that most of the editorial boards favor and more favorably received by the bond houses.”

    Don Rose, another longtime political observer, said he believes Madigan finds himself in a unique position. Madigan had come up with a pension-reform solution that was gaining strong editorial support. If it passed, it would have made him the “savior” and the praise would hopefully reflect well on his daughter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, as she looks toward a possible run for governor.

    “I think he’s befuddled that he couldn’t get Cullerton to go along,” Rose said. “He’s never to my recollection faced a situation like this — where he had the answer and a presumption that eventually Cullerton would come his way” but he didn’t.

    If Madigan emerged publicly now without a solution, the blame for a stalemate could fall on him, Rose said.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Republicans Refuse to Investigate the Illegal Activities of the Kochs and John Boehner

    By: Rmuse
    Jun. 6th, 2013

    Republicans have been on a tear to portray the Obama Administration as doing something regarded as morally or legally wrong to engender public outrage against the President as well as cover their obstruction and incompetence in doing the work of the people. The Republican leading the investigations into the Benghazi incident and Internal Revenue Service for doing its due diligence, Darrell Issa, has been working overtime attempting to find some illegal action on the part of the White House, and it began the day after Republicans took control of the House in 2010 when he said “I want seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks.” There is little question Republicans are on a witch hunt against the President, but what boggles the mind is why Republicans or their surrogates never face investigations and charges when there is proof they have done what any reasonable American would regard as morally and legally wrong openly and with impunity.

    Over the past two years, there have been four instances of malfeasance that have been “overlooked” by the federal government and at least one of them is finally getting the attention it deserves. Republicans and the oil industry cheered after the State Department released a report on the environmental impact of the Keystone XL pipeline because it gave the environmentally damaging project a clean bill of health, and it should have because the report was conducted by an oil industry contractor, Environmental Resources Management (ERM), that has ties to the pipeline’s owner TransCanada, ExxonMobil, and Koch brothers who all have a stake in developing Canadian tar sand. According to the law, hiring an oil company contractor with a financial interest in the project is against federal conflict of interest laws, and as it turns out, “ERM misled the State Department at least twice in its proposal which most certainly lead the State Department to contract the Keystone XL review to an oil contractor with a vested interest in providing a favorable report.” Where is the Republican outrage at a real scandal with federal documents to back up the claim that ERM lied on its application and review report?

    There is more to the Keystone scandal that Darrell Issa, and the SEC, should have investigated regarding Speaker of the House John Boehner’s lies about the hundreds-of-thousands of jobs the pipeline would generate barely a year after he invested in 7 Canadian tar sand companies in 2010. It is an ethics violation for elected officials to use their political office to perform official acts on behalf of special interests, and particularly when the elected official lies about a project to profit him and his campaign donors. A complaint was sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission that accused TransCanada of using “false or misleading statements about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline” and that Boehner, on behalf of TransCanada “consistently used public statements and information they knew were false in a concerted effort to secure permitting approval of Keystone XL from the U.S. government.” The SEC should have fully investigated Boehner and TransCanada for violating SEC Rule 10b(5) – Employment of Manipulative and Deceptive Practices to bolster stock prices, but because it was a Republican and the oil industry who broke the law, the investigation never materialized. Where was Republican and Darrell Issa’s outrage over the Speaker of the House lying to profit the oil industry and bolster his stock portfolio using the power of his political office?

    Last year during the presidential campaign, Willard Romney claimed he left Bain Capital in 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Olympics, but filings with the SEC clearly listed Romney as Bain’s chief executive between 1999 and 2002. A former SEC commissioner said that “You can’t say statements filed with the SEC are meaningless. This is a fact in an SEC filing,” and yet Romney was never investigated or charged with lying on federal documents filed with the SEC. Even though it was legally impossible for Willard to deny what he stated on SEC documents and Massachusetts state filings, he continued lying and one cannot help but wonder why he was never charged with filing false government reporting documents which is a felony. Where was republican outrage and why has Romney still never been charged?

  15. rikyrah says:

    John Boehner Kills the Obama Verizongate Scandal Before It Even Starts

    By: Jason Easley
    Jun. 6th, 2013

    Speaker John Boehner said that President Obama must explain why the NSA program is important, but that he was sure that the intelligence committees were involved, and congress approved it.

    At his weekly press conference, Boehner said, “There are public policy and civil liberties concerns amongst Americans today. I trust that the president will explain to the American people why the administration considers this a critical tool in protecting our nation from the threats of a terrorist attack.”

    The Speaker was asked if this was potentially taking things to another level. He answered, “I am fully confident that both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees will, have provided oversight on the subject, and will continue to provide oversight on the subject. But it’s important for the president to outline to the American people why the tools that he has available are critical to the threats that we may have, so I’ll leave it to them to explain. Congress approved it. We’ll provide the oversight, but I think it’s time for the president to outline the issues here, and why in fact, it’s important.”

    Boehner later repeated that the Patriot Act gave the president the tools, and it is up to Obama to explain why this is important. Speaker Boehner would not say if he had been briefed on, or knew about the program. (Wink-win, that means he did.)

  16. rikyrah says:

    Where the Freelance Economy Is Booming

    There were 22.5 million U.S. businesses that didn’t have any paid employees in 2011, 1.7 percent more than in the year before, about 75 percent of total businesses. They reported $990 billion in total revenue, up 4.1 percent from 2010. About 18 million non-employer businesses, or about 80 percent of the total, reported receipts of less than $50,000. By non-employer businesses, we’re talking about a wide-ranging group, from freelance writers and fashion designers to real estate agents and taxi drivers who work for themselves—as well as necessity entrepreneurs who were pushed into self-employment by a rough job market in recent years.

    Those numbers are from the U.S. Census Bureau, which released its annual report on non-employer businesses yesterday. As for where they worked and what jobs they did, a couple of tidbits worth noting:

    • The number of non-employer businesses in North Dakota increased 4.3 percent, while the state’s non-employers’ sales increased 13.2 percent, to $2.3 billion. That’s the biggest sales increase nationwide. (Check out Kasia Klimasinska’s story on the complementary service businesses women are starting in North Dakota, sparked by the shale boom.)

    • Finance, insurance, and construction were the only industries nationwide to show fewer non-employers in 2011 than in 2010.

    • Fittingly, the fastest-growing sector in 2011 was what the Census Bureau lumps into “other services,” which includes auto repair, beauty salons, and dry cleaners.

    One reason the economy of non-employers might keep growing: The Affordable Care Act, the bulk of which takes effect next year, will make it easier for self-employed Americans to buy their own health insurance. To that end, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimates that their ranks will swell by 1.5 million in 2014.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Dr. Firestarter @docrocktex26

    House Republicans Booed As They Vote To Deport DREAMers via @thinkprogress Boo the GOP and the world boos with you…
    12:15 PM – 6 Jun 2013
    House Republicans Booed As They Vote To Deport DREAMers

    To a chorus of boos from the gallery, House Republicans voted 224-201 on Thursday to approve an amendment that defunds the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The amendment, from Rep….
    ThinkProgress @thinkprogress

  18. rikyrah says:

    Youth Outreach

    by BooMan
    Thu Jun 6th, 2013 at 12:56:33 PM EST
    Every Senate Republican except Dan Coats of Indiana (who didn’t cast a vote) just voted to sustain a filibuster against Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island’s bill to extend low interest rates on college loans. Independent Angus King of Maine, who caucuses with the Democrats, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia joined the Republicans. Needing 60 votes to end debate and have a vote on the actual bill, the Senate only came up with fifty-one votes. If Congress can’t agree to do something, college loan interest rates will double on July 1st.

    Republicans know that they are doing catastrophically badly with voters under thirty, and this is how they deal with it. I guess I am glad that they are so terrible at politics.

  19. rikyrah says:

    William K. Wolfrum @Wolfrum

    Make no mistake of this: When @AlGore was in politics, and had he continued, he worked as hard as anyone to maintain the status quo.
    11:39 AM – 6 Jun 2013

  20. rikyrah says:

    McDermott Remarks on IRS Hearing

    “But let’s not get lost. During the Bush administration liberal groups were targeted without any concern by Mr. Issa or anyone else in this committee. The Republicans are looking for a conspiracy where there isn’t one. Mr. Issa said he can feel in his gut that someone’s broken the law. Which is more likely: that midlevel employees took stupid, irresponsible shortcuts or that there’s an administration-wide plot to take down community organizers? Let’s not forget that this all happened under Republican IRS Commissioners and was investigated by a Republican Inspector General.

  21. rikyrah says:

    Gossip Juice: Kenya Moore Booted from Atlanta Mansion?
    June 5, 2013 by Cory Alexander Haywood

    *Kenya Moore (The Real Housewife of Atlanta) has a really nice home out in the suburbs of Atlanta.

    Oops, our mistake. She had a really nice home out there in the A-town, but no longer. According to reports, Moore is being asked by her landlord to vacate the premises because she failed to pay all of her rent last month. Court documents filed in Fulton County state that Kenya was $848 short on her rent in May.

    She agreed to pay $3,999 per month for the six-bedroom, six-bathroom home in the suburbs of Atlanta. Supposedly, she also defaulted on the terms and conditions of the lease. Now, Moore’s landlord is seeking June’s rent from Kenya, as well as $2,500 for eviction fees and damages. This might all come as news to poor Kenya, who reportedly has yet to see the actual eviction notice because it was posted while she was away.

    “The sheriff’s department posted the notice on Kenya’s home last Thursday,” a source from the neighborhood told Radar Online, “but she still doesn’t know that she has been evicted because she hasn’t been home yet.”

    And there’s word that her neighbors may be relieved to see Kenya go. Reportedly, there have been an awful lot of complaints about Kenya, who moved to the mansion in Roswell just to film “RHOA.”

    “The homeowner is incredibly upset at what is unwanted attention that has been caused as a result of Kenya moving into the neighborhood,” the source said.

  22. rikyrah says:

    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka

    You weren’t mad when the NYT exposed how Target profiles people and sends them customized info; but you’re mad at the NSA? Okay then.
    9:25 AM – 6 Jun 2013

  23. rikyrah says:

    Wieland @lawscribe

    Keep things straight: PATRIOT ACT & FISA are the law. The Executive uses what us given. Don’t like what is given? Change the law.
    8:14 AM – 6 Jun 2013


    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka

    BREAKING NEWS: Patriot Act has been in existence since 2001 and congress loves it. They reauthorized FISA until 2017.
    10:29 AM – 6 Jun 2013


    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka

    Before Republicans feign outrage, know that they were briefed and fully approved of what the NSA did.
    9:07 AM – 6 Jun 2013


    Jordan Ashby @JM_Ashby

    The report was written by Greenwald? Well, that turns something that was simply stupid into something hilarious.
    10:20 AM – 6 Jun 2013


    Dave @D_v_E

    Weird that Al Gore never called Bill Clinton’s extraordinary renditions “obscenely outrageous.” …
    10:31 AM – 6 Jun 2013


    Sahil Kapur @sahilkapur

    Chambliss on NSA: “This is nothing particularly new… Every member of the US Senate has been advised of this.”
    9:31 AM – 6 Jun 2013

  24. rikyrah says:

    Wisc. GOP’s new target: Investigative journalism
    By Zachary Roth

    Thu Jun 6, 2013 10:13 AM EDT

    With regional newspapers around the country paring back or folding up shop entirely, it hasn’t been a great few years for investigative journalism. Which is why it’s especially alarming that Wisconsin Republicans are now going after one of the state’s few outlets conducting aggressive reporting on government, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (WCIJ), which is housed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:

    Although the center receives no funding from the university, the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee added the provision to the state budget shortly before 6 a.m. Wednesday, prohibiting the UW System Board of Regents from permitting the center to occupy any facilities owned or leased by the regents, and UW employees from working with the center as part of their UW employment

    The vote was along party lines.

    The WCIJ says its mission is “to improve the quality and quantity of investigative journalism in Wisconsin,”adding: “Our focus is on government integrity and quality of life issues.” It won five awards at a Milwaukee Press Club event last month.

    It’s hard to know who would have a problem with that. Indeed, as the Journal-Sentinel notes, the legislative committee that voted to kick the WCIJ off campus relied on the news outlet’s reporting recently, when it voted against Gov. Scott Walker’s requested expansion of a program that uses GPS to track offenders. WCIJ had raised questions about the reliability of the tracking system.

    Of course, investigative journalism, by its nature, tends to make life difficult for those who hold political or economic power. And Wisconsin Republicans have shown in the past that they’re not afraid to go after institutions they view as antagonistic to their agenda.

  25. rikyrah says:

    The Real Paid Liar

    by BooMan
    Thu Jun 6th, 2013 at 10:20:34 AM EST
    The Beltway press’s defense of civility is breathtaking. Any lie can be told. And theory can be bandied about, no matter how little substantiation it has. But let the House chairman of the Oversight & Government Reform committee call the White House press secretary a “paid liar” and suddenly the world has come to an end.

    For the first few weeks, Republicans saw the Oversight hearings as a gift — no one likes the IRS, dead diplomats in Libya or the government snooping on reporters. But one misstep — like referring to a White House press secretary as a “paid liar” — could cause the effort to backfire.

    What about the fact that nothing that Darrell Issa says has any connection to the truth? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about the lying Issa does than allegations of lying he makes about others? Which should do more harm to his credibility?

    Shortly after Darrell Issa dubbed Jay Carney a “paid liar” on CNN last Sunday, House Republican leadership staffers called the California Republican’s aides with a message: Cool it.

    Oh noes! Issa is making it personal.

    “He has made this personal,” one senior Republican told POLITICO. “He’s added an unnecessary element to the news cycle.”

    “When you make Jay Carney the issue, that’s the problem,” said another senior House GOP leadership aide. “No one cares about Jay Carney. That’s a sideshow; it’s not the real issue.”

    How about the fact that he sounds like a 9/11 Truther when he alleges that the IRS had an enemies list that they used to help the president win reelection? No “cool it” for that?

    As for Benghazi, bring it on.

    Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who led the State Department-ordered investigation into the attack for the Obama administration, gave emotional closed-door testimony on Tuesday in front of Issa’s panel that stretched out over eight hours, sources said.

    Pickering said that he was very close to U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stephens, who was killed in the Benghazi attacks. At the age of 81, Pickering said, he has no incentive to cover anything up, these sources said.

    Democrats walked away from the testimony thinking they struck political gold, and if Issa allows Pickering to testify in public, the Benghazi issue will be put to bed.

  26. rikyrah says:

    May 30, 2013
    Glenn Greenwald’s Anti-Obama Vendetta Continues

    There was a time when I really wished I could understand what drives Glenn Greenwald’s hatred of President Obama. But then, I realized. I really don’t care. I just wish his editors would be a little more discerning with his use of links and, um, “facts.” I used to be able to count on the UK Guardian as an unwavering, very dependable news source, but it’s becoming more difficult to do so, when they hire people like Greenwald to write for them.

    First of all, they portray Greenwald as a progressive or liberal, and I don’t see him that way at all. But that isn’t what really bothers me about Greenwald. The most bothersome thing is the way he uses suppositions and facts interchangeably, as if they’re equal.

    Take his latest column, regarding Obama’s nomination of James Comey as director of the FBI. Greenwald, as usual, uses the column as a vehicle for tooting his own horn, and to make an unsubstantiated attack against President Obama. First, he tries to establish himself as an expert on the covert activities of the Bush Administration, because he’s written about it many times. Now, I would never belittle that. I actually find much of the information on the NSA spying program to be very credible. Yet, he seems to have chosen to ignore his own notes in some spots, only to remember them later, when he’s pretty sure readers have stopped reading. In this article, he makes statements about Comey that are simply not supported by available evidence, and then contradicts himself. In fact, after he starts like a house afire, and essentially blames Cowey for the downfall of civil rights, by the end of the article, he pretty much admits that Obama could have chosen much worse.

    The question I keep asking myself is, where are his editors? He’s not writing for his own personal blog; he’s representing a truly good news organization. Why does he get to tell outright lies and then contradict himself later within the same column.!%29

  27. Ametia says:

    Corbett to sign bill banning abortion coverage in Obamacare exchanges

    Under HB818, private insurers cannot offer plans that include abortions on state health exchange

    Gary Joseph Wilson, PA Independent
    Posted: Thursday, June 6, 2013, 6:05 AM

    HARRISBURG — Women in Pennsylvania will have the right to choose insurance through the state health exchange, but it won’t extend to abortion.

    NO CHOICE: Under HB818, private insurers cannot offer plans that include abortion coverage on the state health exchange.

    The state Senate on Wednesday voted 31-19 to approve House Bill 818, which prohibits insurance policies offered through Pennsylvania’s upcoming health-care insurance exchanges from offering abortion coverage. The bill, which already passed in the House, goes to Gov.Corbett.

    Christine Cronkright, a spokeswoman for Corbett, said the governor will sign the bill.

  28. Ametia says:

    Don’t fuck with PLANNED PARENTHOOD

    Did Backlash Prompt Komen’s Cancellations?
    by Winston RossJun 6, 2013 4:45 AM EDT

    The breast cancer charity scrapped fundraisers in seven cities, prompting questions about whether the group has run its course. Winston Ross talks to the followers-turned-critics.

    Lisa Boncheck Adams hopped off the Komen “bandwagon” years ago, long before the charity that puts on “Race For The Cure” events all over the world threatened to yank its funding for Planned Parenthood. Adams was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, and in the two years that followed she estimates she raised more than $20,000 in fundraising and events sponsored by the Dallas-based Susan G. Komen Foundation

    But Adams believes these cancellations are long overdue for Komen, which appears to now be feeling the repercussions of last year’s Planned Parenthood controversy. The Darien, Conn., woman backed away from Komen after discovering how little of the charity’s revenues are allotted to funding research — 15 percent, down from nearly twice that in years’ past. When the Planned Parenthood debacle hit, it turned off many Komen supporters. Despite the charity’s prompt reversal of the decision, Race for the Cure events saw a 10 to 15 percent average drop in participation last year, Rader said.

    “We know even though we reversed the decision, apologized and continued to fund 15 Planned Parenthood clinics this year, some people many not come back,” she said.


  29. rikyrah says:

    With Hispanics, Mitt Romney hasn’t learned his lesson

    By Esther J. Cepeda, Published: June 5

    CHICAGO — Mitt Romney is back — and so is his foot.

    As reported in The Wall Street Journal, Romney is planning on re-emerging in ways that will “help shape national priorities,” such as assisting the Republican Party as it tries to regain its footing with the non-white voters who ignored the GOP standard-bearer at the polls in 2012.

    Yes, the man known for favoring the term “self-deportation” and offending scores of Hispanics by using the word “illegals” over and over again during prime-time presidential debates wants to give Republicans advice on reaching out to minorities.

    Romney told the Journal that in addition to wishing his campaign had poured more money into ads targeting Hispanic voters, the GOP needs “to translate our message in a way that minorities understand.”

    Honestly, of all the slips Romney committed during last year’s campaign — from letting his staffers tell Spanish-language media that he was struggling with Latinos because they were simply not well-informed to never calling out his fellow Republicans for using degrading language when speaking about immigrants or Hispanics — this latest is probably the most insulting.

    Some Latino advocates spent the year leading up to the election painting him as a racist for not compromising on his views toward illegal immigration. But I always thought his biggest failure as a candidate was his inability to connect with people who aren’t rich and privileged. His terrible tone-deafness for non-whites was a close second.

    Let’s unpack his recent comment starting with the tricky, loaded word “translate.” My first impression was that Romney used the word because he, like so many others, still believes that most Hispanics can’t speak English.

    Can someone please get this man on the Pew Hispanic Center’s email list? Almost two-thirds of Hispanics report speaking only English, or speaking it very well, according to the nonpartisan research organization.

    That sounds touchy, you say? Well, what else could he have meant? The GOP’s 2012 platform said the party wanted to “rebuild the economy and create jobs, reform government to serve the people and build healthy families, great schools and safe neighborhoods.” These concepts don’t need to be broken down into some simplified code so minorities can make sense of them.

    And this is the second hot button Romney’s statement pushes. Did he not hear about how a leading Republican think tank, the Heritage Foundation, ticked off Latinos when it became known that an anti-immigration reform study was co-authored by a researcher who had authored a Harvard Ph.D. dissertation contending Hispanics have particularly low IQs?

    A mere month after that deeply offensive controversy is not the time to imply that minorities have a hard time comprehending the basic tenets of an organization’s values and need special help to understand.

    Actually, it’s Republicans such as Phyllis Schlafly and Pat Buchanan — who have suggested that what the GOP really needs is to double-down on white voters and lamented that “white folks are losing interest in politics and voting” — who need someone to translate for them.

    Schlafly, Buchanan and others who find it silly that some Republicans think immigration reform will send Latino voters into the arms of the GOP aren’t wrong to be skeptical about such a proposition. It’s a long shot at best and Republicans are better off banking on the fact that Latinos care more about education, the economy, health care and the federal budget deficit than immigration.

  30. rikyrah says:

    Immiserating the Poor for the Benefit of the Rich

    —By Kevin Drum
    | Wed Jun. 5, 2013 9:46 AM PDT

    Mark Bittman is appalled at the farm bill currently wending its way through Congress:

    The current versions of the Farm Bill [] could hardly be more frustrating. The House is proposing $20 billion in cuts to SNAP — equivalent, says Beckmann, to “almost half of all the charitable food assistance that food banks and food charities provide to people in need.”

    Deficit reduction is the sacred excuse for such cruelty, but the first could be achieved without the second. Two of the most expensive programs are food stamps, the cost of which has justifiably soared since the beginning of the Great Recession, and direct subsidy payments.

    This pits the ability of poor people to eat — not well, but sort of enough — against the production of agricultural commodities. That would be a difficult choice if the subsidies were going to farmers who could be crushed by failure, but in reality most direct payments go to those who need them least.

    I’m starting to lose my ability to write rationally about this stuff. I just don’t know any longer what I’m supposed to think about a political movement whose primary raison d’être, one they no longer even bother to conceal, is an almost gleeful immiseration of the poor for the benefit of the rich. How is it that the wealthiest country on earth has come to this?

    This would all be cruel enough even if the economy were good and you thought that folks on food stamps needed some motivation to get themselves off assistance and into jobs. Cruel but—arguably, anyway—perhaps best in the long run. But now? When the current level of SNAP spending is entirely due to the swollen ranks of the unemployed and underemployed, which makes it all but impossible for most recipients to entertain even a faint hope of either finding work or, for those lucky enough to have jobs, increase their incomes enough to escape poverty? Is there even a pretense of a reason for these cuts, aside from a desire not to reduce subsidies to agribusiness and not to raise taxes on the best off? Help me out. What is it?

  31. rikyrah says:

    Smears of Barack Obama’s loyalty 2006-

    December 2006: Columnist Debbie Schlussel notes that Obama’s father was a Muslim and asks “Where will his loyalties be?”

    February 2008: Radio talk show host Bill Cunningham calls Obama “this Manchurian candidate” but says “I do not believe Barack Hussein Obama is a terrorist or a Manchurian candidate.”

    April 2008: During an apperance on Glenn Beck’s show on CNN Headline News, Ann Coulter asks “Is Obama a Manchurian candidate to normal Americans who love their country? … Or is he being the Manchurian candidate to the traitor wing of the Democratic Party?”

    May 2008: Fox News analyst Dick Morris states that “the determinant in the election will be whether we believe that Barack Obama is what he appears to be, or is he somebody who’s sort of a sleeper agent who really doesn’t believe in our system and is more in line with [Rev. Jeremiah] Wright’s views?”

    June 2008: During separate television apperances on Fox News and NBC, Dick Morris says “[T]he question that plagues Obama is … Is he pro-American?” and states that “[T]his whole debate about what kind of president [Sen. Barack] Obama would make has swirled around almost an existential level. Is he sort of a Manchurian candidate? A sleeper agent? Or is he the great hope of the future?” Fox News host E.D. Hill also asked whether a fist bump between Obama and his wife was “A terrorist fist jab?”

    April 2009: Frank Gaffney claims on MSNBC that Obama’s apparent bow to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was “code” telling “our Muslim enemies that you are willing to submit to them.”

    May 2009: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich alleges on “Fox News Sunday” that there is a “weird pattern” in which Obama administration officials were “prepared to take huge risks with Americans in order to defend terrorists” and suggests that the Obama administration was proposing “welfare” for terrorists. He then claims on “Meet the Press” that the Obama administration’s “highest priority” is to “find some way to defend terrorists.”

    June 2009: Senator James Inhofe calls Obama’s Cairo speech “un-American” and says “I just don’t know whose side he’s on.” Talk show host Lee Rodgers asserts that Obama is “an anti-American president” and that Obama’s policies will lead to a “few million dead Americans.”

    August 2009: On the Lou Dobbs radio show, substitute host Tom Marr says “I have to believe that there is still an inner Muslim within this man that has some sense of sympathy towards the number one enemy of freedom and democracy in the world today, and that is Islamic terrorism.”

    September 2009: Gaffney says Obama is “pursuing [an agenda] that is indistinguishable in important respects from that of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose mission ladies and gentlemen, we know from a trial in Dallas last year, is to quote to destroy Western civilization from within by its own miserable hand.” Conservative pundit Tammy Bruce says on Fox News that Obama has “some malevolence toward this country.”

    November 2009: Fox’s Sean Hannity suggests that President Obama was somehow responsible for the Fort Hood shooting, stating that “our government apparently knew and did nothing” about “a terrorist act” and then asking “What does it say about Barack Obama and our government?”

    December 2009: Citing a dubious report that the Obama administration had threatened Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) with closing Offutt Air Force Base, home of the US Strategic Command, if Nelson didn’t support the health care reform bill in the Senate, Glenn Beck suggests that the allegation would constitute “high crimes,” asked “[H]ow much closer do you get to treason?”, and said the claim “borders treason” and “borders on treason.”

    January 2010: The New York Post publishes an editorial asking “Whose side is the Justice Department on: America’s or the terrorists’? … [T]he president and his administration also owe the American people an answer: Is the government’s prosecutorial deck stacked in favor of the terrorists?” Former senator Fred Thompson also jokes that the US could win the war in Afghanistan if we “[j]ust send Obama over there to campaign for the Taliban.”

    February 2010: During a conference call with conservative bloggers, Senator Kit Bond (R-Mo.) accuses the Obama administration of having a “a terrorist protection policy” and conducting a “jihad to close Guantanamo.” In addition, based on a superficial resemblance between two logos, Frank Gaffney suggests that President Obama’s missile defense policies “seem to fit an increasingly obvious and worrying pattern of official U.S. submission to Islam and the theo-political-legal program the latter’s authorities call Shariah.”

    April 2010: Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) writes an article for The Daily Caller alleging that Obama is “disadvantaging the United States one step at a time and undermining this country’s national defense on purpose.”

    July 2010: Writing in the Washington Times, former GOP Rep. and third party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo calls Obama “a more serious threat to America than al Qaeda” and “a dedicated enemy of the Constitution,” while columnist Jeffrey Kuhner of the Edmund Burke Institute describes Obama as an “usurper” who is creating “a socialist dictatorship” and has engaged in “treasonous” behavior by suing Arizona over its immigration law.

    August 2010: National Review’s Andrew McCarthy publishes an entire book claiming that Obama is pursuing an agenda that will aid Islamic radicals. The dust jacket states that “the global Islamist movement’s jihad … has found the ideal partner in President Barack Obama, whose Islamist sympathies run deep.” Commentary’s Jennifer Rubin writes that Obama’s “sympathies for the Muslim World take precedence over those, such as they are, for his fellow citizens” in a post criticizing Obama’s statement on the proposed Muslim community center near Ground Zero.

    September 2010: David Limbaugh suggests that Obama may be “trying intentionally to take us over the cliff” in a interview.

    September 2012: Republican National Committee chairman Reince Preibus alleged in a tweet that “Obama sympathizes with attackers [of the U.S. embassy] in Egypt.”

    May 2013: When asked whether Obama “actually switched sides in the War on Terror,” former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld answered, “You know, I just don’t feel competent to answer. I can’t tell.”

  32. rikyrah says:

    Can Obama’s Organizing Army Take Texas?

    Abby Rapoport

    June 5, 2013

    Progressive Texans just might lead a Democratic revival in the ultimate red state. Here’s how.

    Shortly before the Battleground Texas tour stopped in Austin’s old AFL-CIO building in early April, the sky opened up. Thunder and lightning raged, parts of the city flooded, and traffic came to a standstill. But Democrats kept arriving, some dripping wet, others clutching umbrellas rarely used in the city, and the meeting room soon filled with about 100 folks, some no doubt drawn by curiosity. Launched in February by two of Team Obama’s hotshot organizers, Battleground Texas was promising to inject into the nation’s biggest Republican stronghold the grassroots field tactics—the volunteer-organizing, the phone-banking and door-knocking, the digital savvy—that won the 2012 presidential election. After years of national Democrats seeing Texas as hopelessly red, what made this fledgling group think it could turn the state blue?

    Jenn Brown, Battleground Texas’s executive director, was pleasantly surprised by the turnout. But the 31-year-old California native, who projects the energy and enthusiasm of a camp counselor, knew she had some convincing to do. As one attendee put it, “We’re suffering from battered-spouse syndrome. We believe it is impossible to win.” The situation for Texas Democrats has been as gloomy as the day’s weather. The party hasn’t won a single statewide race since 1996—a 100-campaign losing streak. Republicans dominate the state legislature. Mitt Romney carried the state by more than 1.2 million votes. For nearly two decades, the Texas Democratic Party has been the political equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters’ perennial patsies, the Washington Generals.

    But the people leading Battleground Texas are proven winners. Brown headed up Barack Obama’s field operation in Ohio, which turned out 100,000 more African American voters in 2012 than in 2008. Battleground Texas founder and senior advisor Jeremy Bird, a 34-year-old Missouri native, is the wonky wunderkind who, as Obama’s national field director, oversaw the campaign’s state-of-the-art turnout operation. They’ve been joined by young, native Texan organizers such as Christina Gomez, formerly with the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, and Cliff Walker, who ran the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee. Bird and Brown got interested in Texas, they say, during the 2012 campaign. Bird was wowed by the enthusiasm of Texas volunteers, who made 400,000 calls to Florida voters in the last three days before the election. Brown says that wherever she went during the campaign, Obama staffers from Texas would talk excitedly about the potential for organizing the state, given its rapidly changing demographics.

    Since their effort launched in February, they’ve seen more encouraging signs. Attendance was strong on Battleground Texas’s 14-city getting-to-know-you tour, which stopped in both Democrat-friendly places like Austin and San Antonio and Republican strongholds like Waco and Lubbock. By mid-April, Battleground Texas already had more Facebook friends—23,000—than the Texas GOP. Its organizers refuse to comment on the group’s funding sources, but the state’s biggest Democratic donor, Steve Mostyn, has agreed to help the group raise its estimated $10 million annual budget. As of April, there were ten paid staffers, more than the state Democratic Party employs, with additional hires on the way.

    While Governor Rick Perry laughed off the effort to turn Texas blue as “the biggest pipe dream I have ever heard,” other Republican leaders are giving Battleground Texas free publicity by decrying it as a coven of dangerous outside agitators—“masters of the slimy dark arts of campaigning,” state Republican Party Chair Steve Munisteri wrote in a fundraising letter. Speaking at a lunch in Waco, Attorney General Greg Abbott called the arrival of Team Obama members “a new 
assault, an assault far more dangerous than what the leader of North Korea threatened when he said he was going to add Austin, Texas, as one of the recipients of his nuclear weapons. The threat that we’re getting is the threat from the Obama administration and his political machine.”

    For a fledgling effort, Battleground Texas has already become a national media darling, prominently featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Bloomberg News. In February, Bird even had a guest turn on The Colbert Report, where the host described him as “the man behind Obama’s minority outreach-around.” It’s easy to see why there’s so much interest. If Texas were to become a competitive state, the impact on national politics would be enormous. Without the state’s 38 electoral votes, Republicans would find it virtually impossible to win presidential elections with the current national map. Even the threat of losing Texas would influence a presidential contest. If the GOP has to start fighting for votes in such an enormous state—with 20 media markets—it will drain resources the party could devote to other battlegrounds.

    No state has greater potential for Democrats. Texas is already “majority-minority,” with Latinos making up 38 percent of the population and African Americans 12 percent. According to the state demographer, the number of Latinos will surpass the number of whites in the next decade; by 2040, 52 percent of the state will be Latino, and 27 percent will be white. Between just 2012 and 2016, about a million additional Latinos in Texas will become eligible to vote. But that’s been the trouble for Democrats: Latinos aren’t voting. Forty-seven percent of eligible Latinos have not even registered. In 2010, when Perry won re-election, the Latino turnout rate was an anemic 16 percent, about half the typical Latino turnout in New Mexico. An analysis by the Houston Chronicle shows that if Latinos voted at the same rate as whites, the state would already be a toss-up.

  33. rikyrah says:

    Most lawsuits aim to overturn Obamacare. A new complaint wants to expand it.

    By Michelle Andrews, Published: June 5, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Employer health plans routinely cover pregnancy costs for workers and their spouses — but not necessarily their daughters. According to a handful of new complaints filed with the federal government, that’s sex discrimination, and the Affordable Care Act doesn’t allow it.

    If these complaints are successful, they could expand the benefits that health insurance plans must cover under the Affordable Care Act

    The National Women’s Law Center is alleging that five institutions are discriminating against women by excluding pregnancy coverage from the health insurance benefits that they provide to their employees’ dependent children.

    “In these cases, men’s needs are being met whether they’re dependents or not,” says Sharon Levin, director of federal reproductive health policy at the NWLC. “But for these young women, maternity benefits are not being provided. It’s a health benefit that only applies to women and [the absence of the benefit] denies them comprehensive coverage.”

    The District-based advocacy group filed the complaints with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights. They allege that excluding coverage for maternity care for female dependent children violates Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which bars discrimination in any health program or activity that receives federal financial assistance, such as research grants or subsidies, says Levin.

    Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the NWLC, says it’s particularly important to address this issue now, since the health-care overhaul allows adult children to stay on their parents’ health plans until they reach age 26 in most instances, even if they’re married or financially independent.

  34. rikyrah says:

    Wednesday, June 05, 2013 | Posted by Liberal Librarian at 2:15 PM

    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka

    Screw You MT @codepink: FLOTUS should have been coached, long ago, on how to deal diplomatically w ppl who stand up to protest govt policies
    7:32 AM – 5 Jun 2013


    As it has made it all over the media, last night at a Democratic fundraiser Michelle Obama was heckled by an activist from Get Equal, a gay-rights group. Ellen Sturtz interrupted Mrs. Obama’s speech, demanding that her husband sign an executive order guaranteeing non-discrimination in employment. Forget the fact that any executive order could be overturned by the next GOP president; and forget the fact that Obama has done more to advance gay rights in this country than all other presidents put together. Also forget the fact that rights which are enshrined by law—such as the lifting of DADT—are the rights which will last, not those done away with by executive fiat. No. To Ellen Sturtz, all of the President’s achievements are nothing, because he has made the strategic and democratic decision to work through courts and Congress to solidify gay rights. When George W. Bush signed executive orders, the likes of Ellen Sturtz would have called him a dictator. Now they want President Obama to be a dictator from the left.

    But something strange happened. Mrs. Obama didn’t stand there and take her guff. She very politely offered those gathered a choice: they could listen to her, or they could listen to Sturtz. Suddenly, her bubble of privilege was punctured. She didn’t, in her wildest imaginings, think that Michelle Obama would actually stand up to her. She thought that because she had bought a $500 ticket she had the right to be rude to the First Lady, and to the other attendees who had bought their tickets to hear her speak. She was “taken aback” as she whined later at Mrs. Obama’s polite but forceful confrontation. She was quite ready to talk at Mrs. Obama; she was completely unprepared to be talked back to, as if she were the teacher and Mrs. Obama some unruly child.

    The megaphone Left swims in cynicism and privilege. With every stunt, they prove the stereotype most American have of them, a stereotype shared by the President’s real base. The vast majority of people who voted for Obama have no time for the antics of Get Equal or Code Pink. The concerns of those groups are not the concerns of Obama’s base. But, it gets them on television, gets them a few more meager clicks on their websites, keeps the donations flowing in, and makes them feel as if they’re fighting giants.

    They’re not fighting giants. They’re fighting the dwarfs within themselves. In six years of yelling at Obama, they’ve accomplished nothing. And every time Obama achieves another progressive milestone, the common reaction from them is “Yes, but what about this? Why didn’t you fix it already?” The Left has been so used to “confronting power” that it doesn’t know how to take advantage of having the most liberal American president since FDR in power by aligning itself with him. Of course, there will be disagreements; for all the prattle of the Right, Barack Obama is not a socialist. He is a realistic progressive. And it’s that realism which incenses those quarters of the Left most opposed to him. He doesn’t take on every pet cause. He chooses his battles, the ones which he knows if he wins will affect the most people for the better. He believes in the Constitution and the separation of powers; he’s not going to do Congress’ job for it and act like a liberal autocrat, thus fulfilling all of the Right’s worst fears. For this he’s called “spineless” and “weak”; but those are adjectives best reserved for the ankle biters on the Left.

    A progressive President needs a progressive Congress. Instead, he has a legislature mired in dysfunction. All of those attacking him from the Left would put their energies to better use if they organized to put forth candidates for Congress who had a chance of winning. They might not be as liberal as desired; but politics is a game of the possible. And that’s where the Left fails. It wants the impossible, wants it now, and brooks no excuses. And it will “educate” anyone who doesn’t toe the line.

    People don’t like to be talked down to. The Obamas are no different. Which is why they and their real allies have all but tuned out the screechers on the Left. Obama knows he can’t rely on them; he also knows he doesn’t need to, as they’re probably the people who sat on their hands and didn’t go to the voting booths in 2008, 2010, and 2012. They won’t vote in 2014 either. Expending energy on them is a waste; he will continue to do what he does, building a common-sense coalition which will hopefully propel Democrats to take the House in 2014. And the Left will again be left wailing incoherently, declaring that they’re “the base”, and wondering why they affect nothing. They will wallow in their privilege, watching the world move around them and past them. It’s a fitting end.

  35. rikyrah says:

    Obamacare and collective action

    By Jonathan Bernstein, Published: June 5, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    There’s been a big debate going on over the last two weeks about the Affordable Care Act and “young healthies” — people who don’t really need much health insurance, and who (conservatives have discovered) may pay more when the ACA fully kicks in.

    As Jonathan Cohn and Sarah Kliff point out in detail, the point is severely overstated, because Obamacare won’t just tend to raise premiums for those who don’t use much insurance, but also gives subsidies for lots of people, so that the overall outcome for many is actually better than the old status quo.

    That’s a very important point, but a reasonable response is that it doesn’t really matter very much whether or not the individual market is better or worse for young healthies; what matters, very much, is that they actually buy the insurance. If they don’t, then insurance companies will get clobbered because, under the new law, they’re not allowed to raise rates as much as they would like to on those who will use their insurance a lot — so they really need the “good” customers to make it all work.

    Not only that, but it could be that the young healthies themselves want it to work. As Jonathan Chait notes, the “bros” in question (presumably male because young men use less health care than young women?)

  36. rikyrah says:

    The virtue of Senate reform – for the minority

    By Jonathan Bernstein, Published: June 5, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Here’s the thing: Republicans don’t really want to defeat the nomination of Victoria Nuland, whom Barack Obama has nominated for a State Department promotion. Nuland, you may remember, is the non-partisan official at State who represented the department’s interests while editing the post-Benghazi talking points that have Republicans all worked up for no reason.

    In fact, the Nuland nomination is a great example of why the 60 vote supermajority requirement — something that was rare for executive branch nominations until it became mandatory in January 2009 — is basically a lousy deal…for the minority party.

    Think about what Republicans actually want here. First, they want an excuse to register, once again, their outrage with Barack Obama. (“Benghazi! Benghazi!”) That’s actually easier to do if they lose a confirmation vote. After all, then there are no further consequences; indeed, if all that’s scheduled was a simple-majority vote then they’re all free to vote against her, but if there’s a 60-vote threshold, then six unfortunate Republicans are going to be pressured to bite the bullet and vote to confirm.

    That’s not just true for Nuland. It’s almost certainly true for Gina McCarthy at EPA, and for Thomas Perez at Labor. After all, if they’re defeated, then someone else will get the job and carry out exactly the same policies. It’s just symbolic opposition; it shouldn’t bother Republicans if it has only symbolic effects.

    The other thing they want, however, is to use the nomination to gain enough leverage to force the administration to disclose more Benghazi information. Granted, in this particular case, that’s sort of silly, but in many cases it’s totally reasonable for any Senate minority, and for any single senator, to use nominations for leverage. What’s needed for that to work, however, is something like the current filibuster/cloture/hold system, in which a threat from a single senator is respected.

    The danger for Republicans, then, is that majority-imposed reform will take that leverage away by getting rid of minority party and single senator influence entirely by essentially making the Senate a lot more like the House. The obvious solution to all of this is to keep the same machinery in place for filibusters, clotures, holds, etc. — but to reduce the requirement for cloture on executive branch nominations to a simple majority, same as for confirmation.

  37. rikyrah says:

    Why is immigration reform losing steam? The IRS
    By Zachary Roth

    Thu Jun 6, 2013 8:26 AM EDT

    Remember when immigration reform was going to be the occasion for a big bipartisan love-fest? Republicans, the thinking went, knew they couldn’t afford to keep alienating Latino voters. The party’s corporate funders were solidly on board. Even Sean Hannity said he’d “evolved” on the issue.

    Those were the days. Now we’re seeing reports that negotiations in the House are on the verge of collapse. And in the Senate, Marco Rubio, in what Steve noted yesterday is a pretty stunning turnaround, is now saying that without stringent new border security provisions that Senate negotiators already rejected, he won’t support the bill he helped negotiate.

    How did things go downhill so fast?

    For one thing, conservative House Republicans are now insisting that immigrants be cut off from the benefits of Obamacare during their 15-year path to citizenship. In other words, as New York magazine’s Jon Chait puts it, “House Republicans’ hatred of Obamacare is at such deranged levels that it is leeching into even largely unrelated problems.” And Rubio, of course, is hampered by his presidential ambitions, which dictate that he not alienate his party’s right-wing base by appearing to concede too much to Obama and congressional Democrats.

    But Republicans’ hatred for Obamacare, and Rubio’s presidential ambitions, both existed a month or so ago, when immigration reform was going swimmingly. So what’s changed? How about the confluence of Obama administration “scandals”—the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups, the Justice Department’s aggressive pu

  38. rikyrah says:

    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka

    What you need to know about the NSA. Ignore Glenn Greenwald’s and the media’s hair on fire nonsense.
    11:13 PM – 5 Jun 2013

  39. rikyrah says:

    Ian @iboudreau

    Hey everyone: when you post something on social media, it’s public. When you use a cell phone, you’re broadcasting over radio.
    10:39 PM – 5 Jun 2013

    Ian @iboudreau

    If you carry a GPS-enabled cell phone, it takes 10 days of data collection to predict where you’ll be at any time with a >95% confidence.
    10:41 PM – 5 Jun 2013

    Ian @iboudreau

    Do you use a store-specific discount card? Target can use your purchase data to send you “new mom” ads before you’ve told your parents.
    10:43 PM – 5 Jun 2013

    Ian @iboudreau

    Privacy online is a stupid illusion. If you want information private, don’t put it on the internet.
    10:44 PM – 5 Jun 2013

    Ian @iboudreau

    When the NSA wanted to monitor internet usage 10 years ago, your ISP’s only question was, “would you like a side of fries with that?”
    10:46 PM – 5 Jun 2013

  40. rikyrah says:

    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka

    Your smartphone tracks and can pinpoint your exact location yet you’re feigning outrage at the NSA collecting phone records. Okay then.
    10:29 PM – 5 Jun 2013

  41. rikyrah says:

    Only4RM @Only4RM

    Wait til folks figure out their cellphone is basically a #GPSsnitch, tracking & “reporting” their whereabouts 24/ 7/ 365. #HairMeetFire
    10:25 PM – 5 Jun 2013

  42. rikyrah says:

    AdamSerwer @AdamSerwer

    Verizon’s chief security officer is…a former FBI attorney.

    Smartypants @Smartypants32

    @AdamSerwer Please notice that the subpoena was to Verizon BUSINESS Network Services, not Verizon.
    10:16 PM – 5 Jun 2013

  43. rikyrah says:

    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka

    Before Emoprogs begin calling Pres. Obama a monster, know that congress approved of what the NSA has been doing.
    10:06 PM – 5 Jun 2013

  44. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone! :-)

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