Friday Open Thread | Black Oscar Nominees

We continue our look at Black Oscar Nominees.

Today, we’ll look at Best Actress Nominees.


Best Actress in a Leading Role
Year Name Film Role Status
1954 Dorothy Dandridge Carmen Jones Carmen Jones Nominated
1972 Diana Ross Lady Sings the Blues Billie Holiday Nominated
Cicely Tyson Sounder Rebecca Morgan Nominated
1974 Diahann Carroll Claudine Claudine Nominated
1985 Whoopi Goldberg The Color Purple Celie Johnson Nominated
1993 Angela Bassett What’s Love Got to Do with It Tina Turner Nominated
2001 Halle Berry Monster’s Ball Leticia Musgrove Won
2009 Gabourey Sidibe Precious Claireece “Precious” Jones Nominated
2011 Viola Davis The Help Aibileen Clark Nominated
2012 Quvenzhané Wallis Beasts of the Southern Wild Hushpuppy Nominated
Youngest ever Best Actress nominee(aged 9);

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61 Responses to Friday Open Thread | Black Oscar Nominees

  1. rikyrah says:

    I usually don’t watch it, but I will be watching tomorrow: UP with Steve Kornacki

  2. rikyrah says:

    Today at 5:28 PM
    Six Reasons Chris Christie Is Probably Guilty
    By Jonathan Chait

    The New York Times reports that David Wildstein, the Port Authority official who oversaw punitive lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, had evidence that Chris Christie knew about it. The Times quickly changed its wording to reflect that fact that Wildstein merely says “evidence exists” that Christie knew.

    The wording change prompted a familiar Chinese fire drill of reporters, after having rushed to proclaim Christie’s political demise, to mock the Times and caution that Christie may survive this yet. And he might! Sometimes people who appear very guilty turn out to be innocent. (See: Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction.) But usually, people who appear very guilty turn out to be guilty. And Christie appears very guilty.

    1. Wildstein is claiming evidence exists that Christie knew. He would look bad if such evidence does not come to light.

    2. Wildstein spent time with Christie while the lanes were closed. If you had been ordered to close traffic lines for punitive reasons, and you saw the governor, wouldn’t you either tell him about it, or else already know he approved? Undertaking an action like that without knowing the governor approved it, and without having any desire to take credit, seems like an implausible motivation.

    3. Christie has changed his story about when he knew about the lane closings. Having first asserted he learned on October 1, Christie later claimed he learned earlier, though would not say when.

    4. His campaign manager is pleading the fifth.

    5. Carrying out petty retribution is fully in keeping with the pattern of Christie’s governing style of using petty retribution.

    6. Hell, allegations of abuse of power predate even his governorship. I keep mentioning the report in John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s campaign book about the Romney campaign vetting of Christie, because I find it mystifying that others aren’t taking it as seriously as I am. It’s not that partisan enemies are ginning up accusations. Republican Mitt Romney wanted to nominate Christie, but took a look at the vetting file and ran the other way:

  3. rikyrah says:

    The Champion Barack Obama
    Ta-Nehisi Coates Jan 31 2014, 12:32 PM ET

    Last week The New Yorker ran a lengthy profile of Barack Obama in which you can hear the president’s opinions on everything from marijuana legalization to war to racism. Obama is as thoughtful as ever, and I expect that admiration for his thoughtfulness will grow as the ages pile upon us. I have tried to get my head around what he represents. Two years ago, I would have said that whatever America’s roots in white supremacy, the election of a black president is a real thing, worthy of celebration, a sign of actual progress. I would have pointed out that you should not expect a black head of state in any other Western country any time soon, and that this stands as singular accolade in the long American democratic tradition. Today, I’m less certain about national accolades. I’m not really sure that a writer—whose whole task is the attempt to see clearly—can afford such attachments.

    More interesting to me is why this happened. If you begin from the proposition that African-Americans are fundamentally American, in a way that the Afro-French are not; and that America is, itself, a black country in a way that the other European countries are not, Barack Obama’s election strikes you somewhat differently. African-American politics is literally as old as American politics, as old as Crispus Attucks shot down for his nascent country. One of the earliest and bloodiest proving ground for “Western” democratic ideals was Gettysburg. The line that saved the Union, that ensured that “government of the people, for the people, by the people, shall not perish from this earth” was marked by the house of the black farmer Abraham Brian. On that Brian property lived the great Mag Palm, currently lost to our memory, who fought off man-catchers determined to reduce her to peonage.

    The first African-American to be nominated for president was Frederick Douglass, a biracial black man of exceptional gifts who dreamed of his estranged father as surely as the present occupant of the White House, perhaps even in this day, dreams of his. The last black Southerner to serve in Congress, before this country assented to the desecration of its own Constitution, was George Henry White, who did not leave in despair but in awesome prophecy:

    This is perhaps the Negroes’ temporary farewell to the American Congress, but let me say, Phoenix-like he will rise up some day and come again. These parting words are in behalf of an outraged, heart-broken, bruised and bleeding, but God-fearing people; faithful, industrious, loyal, rising people—full of potential force.

    And come again, we have.

    In a literal sense, Barack Obama’s presidency was made possible by the tradition of black politics—he could not have won in 2008 without the proportional allocation that came out of Jesse Jackson’s campaign 20 years before. Considering this history, and considering the valence of African-American culture and heritage in our collective lives, in the very founding of this country, in our politics, I am not sure how much comparisons with European countries can tell us.

    Barack Obama was not prophecy. Whatever had been laid before him, it takes gifted hands to operate, repeatedly, on a country scarred by white supremacy. The significance of the moment comes across, not simply in policy, by in the power of symbolism. I don’t expect, in my lifetime, to again see a black family with the sheer beauty of Obama’s on such a prominent stage. (In the private spaces of black America, I see them all the time.) I don’t expect to see a black woman exuding the kind of humanity you see here on such a prominent stage ever again. (In the private spaces of black homes, I see it all the time.) And no matter how many times I’ve seen it in my private life, at Howard, in my home, among my close friends, I don’t ever expect to see a black man of such agile intelligence as the current president put before the American public ever again.

    This symbolism has real meaning. What your country tells you it thinks of you has real meaning. If you see people around you acquiring college degrees and rising only to work as Pullman porters or in the Post Office, while in other communities men become rich, you take a certain message from this. If you see your father being ripped off in the sharecropping fields of Mississippi, you take a certain message about your own prospects. If the preponderance of men in your life are under the supervision of the state, you take some sense of how your country regards you. And if you see someone who is black like you, and was fatherless like you, and endures the barbs of American racism like you, and triumphs like no one you’ve ever known, that too sends a message.

    And this messenger—who is Barack Obama—becomes something more to black people. He becomes a champion of black imagination, of black dreams and black possibilities. For liberals and Democrats, the prospect of an Obama defeat in 2012 meant the reversal of an agenda they favored. For black people, the fight was existential. “Please proceed, governor,” will always mean something more to us, something akin to Ali’s rope-a-dope, Louis over Schmeling, or Doug Williams over John Elway.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Krispy Kreme’s former campaign manager took the FIFTH…

    ah, what a tangled web we weave, when we angle to deceive.

  5. rikyrah says:

    The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge in the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Friday that the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening, and that he had the evidence to prove it.


    Where are those 3CHICS gifs?

  6. Breaking News: Chris Christie knew about lane closing. .
    Uh oh! *BOOM*! goes the dynamite! David Wildstein singing like a canary.

    • Ametia says:

      Christie Knew About Lane Closings, Ex-Port Authority Official Says
      By KATE ZERNIKEJAN. 31, 2014

      The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge in the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Friday that the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening, and that he had the evidence to prove it.

      In a letter released by his lawyer, the official, David Wildstein, a high school friend of Mr. Christie’s who was appointed with the governor’s blessing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge, described the order to close the lanes as “the Christie administration’s order” and said “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference” three weeks ago.

      Document: Letter Says Governor Christie Knew About Lane Closings

      “Mr. Wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some,” the letter added.

    • Liza says:

      This really ticked me off. Humiliating children, throwing away food, no one could convince me that the person responsible for this is anything but a sadistic a$$hole.

  7. Hey Chicas!

    We’re having a Super Bowl Party at my house. Guess who’s bringing their girlfriend for the first time EVER? Josh! ooooooooooooooooooh

  8. rikyrah says:

    I’m glad all of you enjoyed the series this week.

    • You did it, Rikyrah! That’s a lot of hard work.

      Big up!

    • Liza says:

      Black Oscar week has been really interesting. I keep thinking that there were so many Oscar worthy performances and so few awards.

      I looked up 1993 this morning and noticed that Holly Hunter won the Best Actress for her role in “The Piano” when, in my opinion, Angela Bassett should have won for her role as Tina Turner. I suppose we could go on and on, and there is always disagreement about who should have won an Oscar. But I think it is safe to say that many outstanding performances by black actors have been overlooked.

      To be honest, I don’t put much stock in the Academy Awards. I have disagreed with their picks so much of the time that it’s been about ten years since I’ve even watched them. But, of course, it would be a good thing if they were recognize the best films, actors, etc… solely on the basis of merit.

  9. rikyrah says:

    IRS rules change seen as limiting free speech for nonprofit organizations

    Conservatives say they’re muzzled

    Conservative groups are mounting a major resistance effort against the Internal Revenue Service’s post-tea party targeting scandal rules, which are designed to clamp down on outside groups’ ability to organize as nonprofits and still play a role in political conversations.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell fired a major shot Thursday, taking to the chamber floor to say the rules amount to a declaration of war on free speech and vowing the GOP will try to block them.

    “Every American needs to know about this abuse of power,” said Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican. “Let me be clear: What the administration is proposing poses a grave threat to the ability of ordinary Americans to freely participate in the Democratic process.”

    Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which has faced IRS audits, said the rules would give the Obama administration more power to muzzle its critics.

    “We have seen that this administration cannot be trusted with the authority they have,” he said. “Why give them more?”

    But Stephen Spaulding, legal counsel at Common Cause, a nonprofit that advocates government transparency, said the rules apply to groups on both the right and left, and called the idea that they are anti-free speech “laughable.” He said they stemmed from a “kind of paranoid vision that the president is after them.”

    Read more:
    Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

  10. rikyrah says:

    Christie used Sandy money as political slush fund, evidence shows (Editorial)

    Looks like we must send out a new batch of subpoenas, this time over fresh and powerful evidence that the governor personally misused Hurricane Sandy funds to win an endorsement from a Democrat.

    This sounds like Hoboken in reverse. While Mayor Dawn Zimmer accuses the administration of withholding Sandy aid for political reasons in her city, the evidence in Belleville indicates that the governor provided extra aid for a mayor who was willing to dance.

    And here, the governor was directly involved.

    First, a reality check: The Sandy aid that New Jersey received was intended to help the victims of the storm, not as a political slush fund. The governor peeled off some of it for a TV campaign featuring himself and his family during the re-election campaign, a shameless stunt that is now under federal investigation. If Zimmer’s charges are true, he withheld aid from Hoboken in a bid to pressure her to approve a real estate project.

    The latest twist comes from Belleville, where The Star-Ledger’s Matt Friedman reported that Christie personally pushed his senior staff to provide a Sandy grant to help build a senior-citizen housing complex. And — surprise — the mayor endorsed the governor for re-election two weeks later

  11. rikyrah says:

    Koch-Tied Groups Funded GOP Effort to Mess With Electoral College Rules

    Last election season, a shadowy nonprofit pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into a campaign to change how electoral votes are counted. The group didn’t disclose who was funding its efforts—a fact that Mother Jones highlighted in a story titled “Who’s Paying for the GOP’s Plan to Hijack the 2012 Election?” But now, thanks to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonpartisan government watchdog, it’s clear that organizations with ties to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch footed at least some of the bill.

    Each state and the District of Columbia has a certain number of electoral votes, based on their population, and they get to decide for themselves how those votes should be allotted. Currently, every state except Maine and Nebraska gives all of their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the statewide popular vote. But in 2011, GOP lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin introduced bills that would divide electoral votes among candidates based on how many congressional districts they won. Because Republicans drew the boundaries of the districts in those states, this scheme would be almost certain to hand Republican presidential candidates the majority of their electoral votes—even if more voters cast ballots for Democrats. (Read more about how the plan would work here.) Presuming the race is close enough, this could decide the nationwide outcome.

    In the case of Pennsylvania, a mysterious nonprofit called All Votes Matter spent large sums lobbying for these changes. Local officials wondered about its funding sources. “They raised an awful lot of money very quickly—$300,000 in just a few days,” Democratic Pennsylvania state Sen. Daylin Leach told Mother Jones at the time. “We’re all curious where that level of funding comes from.” But All Votes Matter didn’t disclose its donors, nor did it have to. The group is organized as a 501(c)4 “social welfare” nonprofit, which means that it can spend money on politics while keeping its donors secret. (Such groups are not supposed to spend more than half of their budget on political causes, but IRS enforcement is slack.) Thus the public knew little about the agendas behind this effort to upend the mechanics of presidential elections.

    —By Mariah Blake

    | Fri Jan. 31, 2014 5:26 AM GMT

  12. rikyrah says:

    ‘Bette in Spokane,’ cited in McMorris Rodgers’ speech, declined health insurance options
    David Wasson The Spokesman-Review

    The woman described only as “Bette in Spokane” during a nationally televised address by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said Wednesday she had no idea her frustrations over increasing insurance premiums would become part of the Republican attack on health care reform.

    Not that Bette Grenier, a critic of the Affordable Care Act, minds that much.

    But the “nearly $700 per month” increase in her premium that McMorris Rodgers cited in Tuesday night’s GOP response to the State of the Union address was based on one of the pricier options, a $1,200-a-month replacement plan that was pitched by Asuris Northwest to Grenier and her husband, Don.

    The carrier also offered a less expensive, $1,052-per-month option in lieu of their soon-to-be-discontinued catastrophic coverage plan. And, Grenier acknowledged the couple probably could have shaved another $100 a month off the replacement policy costs by purchasing them from the state’s online portal, the Health Plan Finder website, but they chose to avoid the government health exchanges.

    “I wouldn’t go on that Obama website at all,” said Grenier, 58, who lives in the Chattaroy area and owns a roofing company with her husband. “We liked our old plan. It worked for us, but they can’t offer it anymore.”

  13. Yahtc says:

    Top Picks: Musician Dave Van Ronk’s memoir, Capitol Records’ remastered Beatles albums, and more

  14. Yahtc says:

    HELENA, Montana (AP) — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena is set to file for bankruptcy protection in advance of proposed settlements for two lawsuits that claim clergy members sexually abused 362 people over decades and the church covered it up.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Amazon considers hiking price for Prime delivery and online media
    Reuters staff, Reuters

    After missing Wall Street estimates for the holiday period, is considering a $20 to $40 increase in the annual $79 fee it charges users of its “Prime” two-day shipping and online media service, considered instrumental to driving online purchases of both goods and digital media.

    Amazon has been trying to sustain its pace of growth by investing heavily in retail and distribution networks across the globe, while expanding into the technology realm with Kindle digital devices, cloud computing services and online media.

    That has taken a toll on its bottom line. With revenue growth slowing as Amazon achieves unprecedented scale, analysts said investors may be getting impatient.

    “Amazon’s gotten so many hall passes on earnings,” said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Financial, adding that pressure on the company to produce profit is now rising. “Perhaps the market expectations for them to deliver income, as their revenue growth slows” is increasing, said Gillis.

    Amazon now has to tread carefully as it ponders a Prime fee-hike, which could boost revenue and earnings but also risks alienating tens of millions of existing customers or discouraging new ones.

    Executives said no decision had been made but stressed that they had not touched the fees since Prime’s inception.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Taking a Hatchet to healthcare (Pt. 3)

    The first two parts of this series have looked at the private market for health insurance and the government programs. Medicare is essentially unchecked while Medicaid gets a whole lot stingier. The private market is allowed to exclude and underwrite in some circumstances while the federal government backs away from a lot of regulation.

    The most fascinating part is the financing mechanism. Obamacare expanded coverage through a combination of generous tax credits and Medicaid expansion. The CBO scored that this expansion was paid for by a combination of cutting down on Medicare Advantage payments and a wide variety of taxes such as the medical device excise tax, the Cadillac plan tax, sun tanning tax, the reinsurance tax and income tax surcharges on high income individuals and families. The Hatch plan repealed Obamacare and all the taxes (interestingly, it also repeals a major student loan reform package, no mention of what is supposed to replace that system) but it claims to be deficit neutral so it has to pay for its limited subsidies somehow.

    And the way it does is a doozy that immediately shows how politically not viable this proposal is:

    Section 601: Capping the Exclusion of An Employee’s Employer-Provided Health Coverage

    our proposal caps the tax exclusion for employee’s health coverage at 65 percent of an average plan’s costs. The value of employer-sponsored health insurance would be capped and indexed to grow at an annual rate of CPI +1.

    So what does that mean?

  17. Ametia says:

    Rutgers University Offering Course Studying Beyonce
    01/30/14 02:53 PM ET EST

    NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — Beyonce is one of the world’s most scrutinized pop stars, and now that study is moving to academia.

    The Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University is offering a course called “Politicizing Beyonce.”

    Kevin Allred, a doctoral student who is teaching the class, tells the university’s online news site that he is using Beyonce’s career as a way to explore American race, gender and sexual politics.

    The class supplements an analysis of Beyonce’s videos and lyrics with readings from black feminists. Allred says he’s seeking to help students think more critically about media consumption.

    Rutgers also has a class examining the theology of Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics.

    Georgetown University has a class called “The Sociology of Hip-Hop: The Urban Theodicy of Jay-Z,” focusing on Beyonce’s rapper husband.

  18. Ametia says:

    January 30, 2014
    Fifty-five Bodies, and Zero Trials, at the Florida School for Boys
    Posted by Tim Wu

  19. rikyrah says:

    he is strictly amateur hour.


    Sen. Marco Rubio: Obama Has Lost All Credibility, No Chance For Immigration Reform While He’s In Office
    Published January 30, 2014
    Fox News Latino

    Sen. Marco Rubio, a major player on immigration policy, said Wednesday that there was no chance now of passing a broad overhaul because Republicans have lost trust in President Barack Obama.

    The first-term Florida lawmaker, a potential White House contender in 2016, cited GOP concerns about whether the president could be trusted to enforce tough security requirements in the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill that Rubio helped write.

    Rubio said the Obama administration has lost credibility as a result of how it handled the 2012 attack against a U.S. outpost in Libya and accusations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups.

    Rubio said doubts about Obama and his team colored his conversations with lawmakers he had hoped to persuade to back the immigration overhaul, now stalled in the House.

  20. ********************
    Go away, Ann Romney! Get it through your head…the people said NO!

  21. rikyrah says:

    The Morning Plum: GOP leaders stiff-arm the nativists
    By Greg Sargent
    January 31 at 9:20 am

    So House Republicans have now released their principles on immigration reform, and they rule out a “special path to citizenship,” while providing for undocumented immigrants to “live legally and without fear in the U.S.,” but only after “specific enforcement triggers have been implemented.”

    It’s dispiriting that Republicans have ruled out a path to citizenship. But it’s important to understand how much of a shift these principles nonetheless represent. Less than two years ago, the de facto party-wide position — echoed by the 2012 GOP presidential nominee — was self deportation, i.e., doing everything possible to get them the hell out of here. Now the party’s operating principle is that they should all stay, provided certain conditions are met — a real change from pandering to GOP base nativists to stiff-arming them in a big way. As the New York Times puts it today: “From absolute denial to the brink of grudging acceptance is a big step away from neo-nativism.”

    The key unknowns now: Will Republicans insist on prohibitively onerous triggers before legalization? Will Republicans ultimately insist reform must preclude citizenship for the 11 million? Will Republicans support steps to clear out some of the existing legal channels to citizenship, making legalization (without a “special pathway” to citizenship) a somewhat better deal for Democrats? If the first two are Yes, those are probably deal-killers. If the third is Yes, therein lies the possibility for a deal.

    But all of this will be settled by a larger question: Do Republicans think they need an actual policy agenda — actual policy accomplishments — to win in 2014?

    The initial reporting tells us many House Republicans angrily rejected the new principles. Their rationales ranged from distrust for Obama to a belief that engaging in difficult legislative initiatives right now is a mistake because it could upset an Obamacare-heavy political environment that makes victory in 2014 more likely.

    As Ron Brownstein puts it: “observers would be surprised if Republicans in Congress, believing that the botched Obamacare rollout has provided them the 2014 edge, throw Obama the lifeline of any big legislative accomplishments.”

  22. rikyrah says:

    A simple test for Republicans on poverty
    By Greg Sargent
    January 30 at 2:59 pm

    Republicans like Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, and Mike Lee have talked a lot about poverty lately. That’s a good thing. Senator But Sherrod Brown asks a good follow up question: If they want to do something to help the working poor, why don’t they support a currently existing bill to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit?

    Brown has been pushing a bill called the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2013, which would permanently extend the EITC — which, in general, is a policy device for helping poor people that Republicans support. The bill, which would also extend the Child Tax Credit, is supported by at least three dozen Dems, such as Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, and Elizabeth Warren.

    Republicans tend to like the EITC, which has conservative roots, because it doesn’t require employers to pay workers more, and since it’s a tax credit for those who work, it’s seen as an alternative to safety net solutions that lull people into a state of dependency (see Paul Ryan’s Hammock Theory of Poverty).

    No Republicans have signed on. But now that Senators like Rubio and Lee are talking about poverty, Brown plans to ask them to join his bill.

    “We’re hearing the right words coming from Republicans who say they want to address poverty in the name of religious teaching,” Brown told me today. “This is the easiest mechanism for helping people who are working hard for little money – it rewards their work.”

    Brown’s bill would not only make the EITC permanent; it would expand it to childless adults — another goal Republicans have generally supported. One of the leading ideas Rubio laid out in his recent speech on poverty was something very similar to expanding the EITC to childless adults. Rubio’s idea is for a “federal wage enhancement.” As Jonathan Cohn explains, the goal of Rubio’s plan is to “create a program in which childless adults get the same benefits as those with families.”

    But as Cohn also details, Rubio is not willing to spend any extra money to do this, which would almost certainly mean taking money away from children to extend the tax credit to adults without children. Brown’s bill, of course, would require more spending. And this gets to a core problem with GOP efforts to craft a new poverty agenda: the unwillingness to spend more money to help poor people.

  23. rikyrah says:

    Here, Bro, I Have a Hot Tip For You

    by BooMan
    Thu Jan 30th, 2014 at 08:46:32 AM EST

    One way you can advantage your family as governor is to let them know in advance that there will be a major renovation of a commuter rail station that will vastly increase the value of the surrounding property. Then, your brother can form an alliance with some preexisting building outfit that is also a major donor to the Republican Party, and they can snap up a bunch of property, renovating it modestly or building a new dwelling, and then sell it at an enormous profit. Never mind that these builders do not specialize in doing modest upgrades of low-grade residential properties.

    Nelson Ferreira, the third partner, is owner of Ferreira Construction, which was paid nearly $10 million in public contracts by state transportation agencies in 2012, records show. The firm serves as a construction manager at the World Trade Center site and has done heavy highway construction throughout New Jersey and Florida. Nelson Ferreira has also donated thousands to the Republican Governors Association led by [Gov. Chris] Christie and was appointed by the governor to a state board that oversees borrowing to pay for the state’s network of roadways, railways and other transportation assets.
    In comparison to the million-dollar contract work undertaken by Ferreira Construction, the Harrison projects seem small. They are mostly newly built homes crammed into narrow lots and sold for less than a half-million dollars.

    Yes, the Ferreiras teamed up with Todd Christie, the governor’s brother, to flip a bunch of residential housing, just like any schlub could do throughout the Aughts if they could cobble together a couple hundred grand for seed money. But they had the advantage of knowing exactly where to buy.

    Why would the Ferreiras take time out from renovating the World Trade Center complex to flip a few houses in Harrison, New Jersey with the governor’s brother?

    This is such low-level stuff that it hardly qualifies as news, but it’s still corrupt.

  24. rikyrah says:

    Going on offense to expand the vote
    By Greg Sargent
    January 30 at 4:55 pm

    Here’s a very interesting development that suggests Dems are beginning to take the war over voting far more seriously than in the past — and are gearing up for a protracted struggle over voting access that could make a real difference in 2016.

    A group of leading Democratic strategists is launching a new political action committee that will raise money for a very specific purpose: Getting Democratic secretaries of state who favor expanded voting elected in four states — Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, and Nevada.

    Jeremy Bird, a national field director for Obama’s presidential campaign, tells me the effort will aim to raise in the “significant seven figures” to spend on just those four races (read more about the races right here). That could have a real impact, Bird says, because the average secretary of state candidate in such races spends an average of $500,000 total. The group’s board of directors has ties into the world of Obama and Clinton donors.

    “The idea is that we need to flip the switch on this entire voting rights conversation, and go from defense on voter suppression, to offense on expanding access to voting,” Bird says of the effort, called iVote. “This isn’t a short term effort. We’ve got to be systematic. We’ve got to be dogged. We’ve got to be sure we’re out-organizing them.”

    To put what this means in perspective, remember that during the height of the 2012 campaign, there was a legal battle over early voting in Ohio. The Obama campaign, which wanted early voting in part to get more African Americans to the polls, prevailed. But that was anything but assured. Would a loss have cost Dems Ohio? Probably not. The Obama campaign also prevailed in other legal battles over early voting. Would a loss in one or more of those have mattered? Probably not.

    But those were short term victories, and Dems are increasingly recognizing that it’s time to ratchet up the intensity and electoral organizing around access to voting. A GOP super PAC is planning to spend millions in secretary of state races. “We’ve got to be on offense against the other side,” Bird says.

  25. rikyrah says:

    Perkins’ defenders speak up
    01/30/14 03:55 PM—Updated 01/31/14 06:25 AM
    By Steve Benen

    When venture capitalist Tom Perkins recently became the subject of a national controversy, comparing contemporary liberals to Nazis, there was a lingering question: why in the world did the Wall Street Journal publish his now-infamous letter to the editor? Today, the answer to that question came into sharper focus.

    To briefly recap, Perkins made the case that liberal criticism of the wealthiest 1% has “parallels” to Nazi genocide. “Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930,” he wrote, “is its descendent ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?” Soon after, Perkins appeared on Bloomberg Television and apologized for his word-choice, but defended his message. During the same interview, he boasted he “could buy a six pack of Rolexes” while arguing the rich feel put upon.

    It seemed odd that the Wall Street Journal would publish Perkins’ letter, knowing that many would likely find it offensive. Did the paper’s editors want to make him look bad? As it turns out, no – the newspaper published Perkins’ message because it’s sympathetic to his argument.

    Under a curious “Perkinsnacht” headline, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal argues today that progressive criticism of Perkins “is making our friend’s point about liberal intolerance.” Though the editorial board concedes that his Nazi comparison was “unfortunate,” today’s editorial nevertheless thinks Perkins was onto something.

    While claiming to be outraged at the Nazi reference, the critics seem more incensed that Mr. Perkins dared to question the politics of economic class warfare. The boys at Bloomberg View—we read them since no one else does—devoted an entire editorial to inequality and Mr. Perkins’s “unhinged Nazi rant.” Others denounced him for defending his former wife Danielle Steel, and even for owning too many Rolex watches.

    Maybe the critics are afraid that Mr. Perkins is onto something about the left’s political method

    Wait, it gets worse.

    The Journal’s editorial board proceeded to publish an odd indictment of “liberals in power,” including allegations that there are “federal agencies” trying to “shut down” the Koch brothers, and “President Obama’s IRS targeted conservative political groups.”

    For the record, there are no agencies trying to shut down the Koch brothers and the IRS “scandal” is discredited nonsense.

    The piece concludes, “The liberals aren’t encouraging violence, but they are promoting personal vilification and the abuse of government power to punish political opponents.”

    What we’re left with, then, is a Wall Street Journal letter to the editor that compared liberals to Nazis, and a Wall Street Journal editorial that rebukes the comparison, but still feels as if the offending letter has merit.

  26. rikyrah says:

    House GOP outlines immigration principles
    01/31/14 08:00 AM
    By Steve Benen

    Last year, senators working on immigration reform followed a fairly traditional path. Democrats negotiated with Republicans, while working in consultation with the White House, business leaders, labor leaders, immigrant advocates, and the religious community. The process produced a popular proposal that, according to independent estimates, would boost economic growth, reduce the deficit, and offer a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.

    This year, the House is following a less traditional path. House GOP leaders have already rejected the popular and bipartisan Senate legislation, refusing to even allow members to vote on it. Instead, they have an outline of sorts, which is the result of negotiations between Republicans and other Republicans.

    House Republican leaders support an immigration reform package that would provide legal status for many of the nation’s 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants, offer a pathway to citizenship to undocumented youth, bolster border security, and expand legal immigration, according to a draft framework released on Thursday.

    House Speaker John Boehner unveiled the principles to his caucus in a meeting Thursday at their annual retreat in Cambridge, Md.

    The entirety of the document is available online here (pdf).

    It’s important to note that scrutinizing the new Republican plan is difficult since there is no actual plan. What’s more, at this point, there’s no bill and no promise of a bill. In policy analysis, the details make all of the difference, but House GOP leaders have chosen to deliberately steer clear of any specifics, offering just 858 words on a one-page piece of paper

  27. rikyrah says:

    Watching the GOP Flail

    by BooMan
    Thu Jan 30th, 2014 at 07:12:42 PM EST

    Watching the House Republicans try to figure out how to pass some kind of immigration reform without inviting a fatal backlash from their racist base is one part comedy and one part tragedy. It’s funny because they all try to pretend to be standing on principle, but they are really trying to wait until most members have been renominated and cannot be defeated in a primary challenge. And it’s sad because the modern GOP has taken on all the attributes of a xenophobic, nationalistic, race-based fascist party. Even the people who want to do the right thing seem to want to do it less because it has intrinsic merit and more because they are dimly aware that fascism isn’t a long-term winning political strategy, at least so long as we keep having elections.
    I keep hearing “reasonable” Republican strategists arguing that the party cannot continue to alienate Latinos and Asians, but they say that because they know it will cost them elections. You almost never hear them slam the racists (unless anonymously) and it’s even rarer that they make a moral case for immigration reform.

    At some point, a decent person stops trying to convince a group of vile, angry bigots to reform and walks away from the group.

  28. rikyrah says:

    What It’s Come to in the Garden State

    by BooMan
    Fri Jan 31st, 2014 at 07:52:21 AM EST

    Do you want a sign of how debased New Jersey politics have become over the years? At the end of an article on whether or not Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey David Samson has earned his bipartisan reputation for integrity, the Senate President made the following observation:

    As the state Legislature presses on with its investigation, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said Samson’s connections to the controversies raise questions about his judgment.
    “When you get a guy like David Samson who is a former attorney general, that understands law, it’s pretty common sense — you step away from those things from one reason — if you are representing someone there is a direct financial benefit,” Sweeney said. “There is supposed to be a level of professional integrity. I know it’s New Jersey, but I still believe in that.”

    “I know it’s New Jersey, but…”

    But, what?

    This is coming out of the mouth of the top Democrat in the Senate.

    “I know it’s New Jersey, but…”

    But, could we have the barest shred of ethics around here?

    And Sweeney is a Christocrat.

  29. rikyrah says:

    Another bogus Obamacare story: The GOP’s ‘Bette’
    By Michael Hiltzik January 30, 2014, 5:20 p.m.

    The centerpiece of the Republican party’s attack on the Affordable Care Act following President Obama’s State of the Union address this week was the story of “Bette.”

    Bette was an otherwise unidentified Washington state resident featured in the official GOP response to the Obama speech delivered by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). According to Rodgers,
    Bette had written her a letter stating that she had “hoped the president’s healthcare law would save her money – but found out instead that her premiums were going up nearly $700 a month.” The lesson, according to Rodgers: “This law is not working.”

    Bette has now been tracked down by her hometown Spokane Spokesman-Review. She’s Bette Grenier, who owns a small business with her husband. Unsurprisingly, her story is much different from the sketchy description provided by Rodgers. That description perplexed experts, including Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who couldn’t understand how a state resident “would have no choice but to pay $700 per month more for a policy that meets the Affordable Care Act’s coverage requirements,” the newspaper reported.

    Grenier told the newspaper that she wrote Rodgers after her insurance company informed her that her $552-a-month catastrophic health plan would not be offered in 2014. It offered her an alternative plan complying with the ACA at $1,052 a month.

    But that sounds like her insurer trying to steer her to an overpriced option. A compliant plan meeting the Affordable Care Act’s coverage mandates actually is available from Washington’s insurance exchange for much less — and with a deductible far lower than the $10,000 she was paying under the old plan and broader coverage, though lacking a provision for four free doctor visits a year provided by her old plan.,0,1703947.story#ixzz2rz0qlWxr

  30. rikyrah says:

    Brain surgeon walked six miles during snowstorm for emergency operation

    By Becky Bratu, Staff Writer, NBC News

    Not a snowstorm, a traffic jam or a daunting six-mile walk through fresh powder could stop an Alabama neurosurgeon from getting to the hospital where he was needed for emergency surgery.

    Dr. Zenko Hrynkiw had to travel from Birmingham’s Brookwood Medical Center to Trinity Medical Center to perform the operation Tuesday, but a sudden snowstorm had snarled all traffic, with thousands of drivers getting stranded for hours.

    Authorities in Alabama had declared a state of emergency only for the southern half of the state, leaving out hard-hit Birmingham and sending available equipment the other way.

    Getting to the hospital by car would’ve been nearly impossible

    Instead, the neurosurgeon decided to make the trek by foot.

    “It really wasn’t that big of a deal,” Hrynkiw said Thursday. “I walk a lot, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.”

    He said he left Brookwood around 10:45 a.m. ET — and by 12:45 p.m. he was already operating on the patient.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Atlanta’s Problem with White Stuff
    JAN 30, 2014 2:50PM ET / POLITICS

    The ice storm that shut down Atlanta this week was a “fiasco” that was “manmade from start to finish,” according to Atlanta Magazine’s Rebecca Burns, writing for Politico. But we have to note that, in part, the men who made the fiasco were white ones.

    One of the recurring reasons given for people being stranded on roadways on Tuesday night, staying the night in stores and schools without a route home, was the decision to close schools and businesses at about the same time. That move sent huge numbers of people onto the roads simultaneously. Burns points out that a million vehicles tried to leave the city of Atlanta proper to get back home to the suburbs, in a region that is heavily car-dependent.

    Some areas, like Cobb County in the northwestern part of the metro area, had a harder time than others. In Cobb, schoolchildren were stranded at schools. At one point, a police dispatcher warned, “Don’t come into Cobb County,” since at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, “all major roadways and some intersections in [Marietta] were still gridlocked with traffic.”

    You can see Cobb County on the map at right; we’ve shaded it gray to show its relationship to the city of Atlanta itself. This is a transit map, from the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, or MARTA. Burns notes that MARTA doesn’t serve much of the region, though it was a good route out of the city during the storm. (It’s how Burns herself got home.)

    But: “There are few connections between MARTA and systems such as Cobb County Community Transit (CCT), which mostly operates bus routes between major commercial centers in Cobb and the heart of downtown Atlanta,” Burns writes. Notice that the lines within that gray block of Cobb County are purple, and not the orange on the rest of the map. That’s CCT, the separate transit system within Cobb County. Cobb County doesn’t use MARTA because Cobb County has consistently blocked expansions of MARTA into its jurisdiction. And that is at least in some part because of race.

    When the Atlanta Braves announced their intention to move to Cobb County last year, the issue of transportation came up. Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman outlined the debate, noting that it was a continuation of longstanding fears. This is a long quote, but an important one:

    When the Braves’ decision was announced, the head of the Cobb Taxpayers Association immediately worried that it was merely a Trojan horse used to disguise the larger goal of smuggling MARTA inside the county walls, with all the “crime” that would bring. That’s an odd leap of logic, but it tells you a lot about how visceral that issue remains.

    The chairman of the Cobb Republican Party, Joe Dendy, was equally blunt:

    “It is absolutely necessary the (transportation) solution is all about moving cars in and around Cobb and surrounding counties from our north and east where most Braves fans travel from, and not moving people into Cobb by rail from Atlanta.”

    Emphasis added to highlight the concerns: 1) crime being shuttled into Cobb County by MARTA and 2) moving people into Cobb by rail from Atlanta. Cobb County is 66 percent white. Atlanta is 54 percent black. Burns notes that 1965 and 1971 efforts to expand MARTA into Cobb County (and other suburbs) failed, “with votes following racial lines.” This is talking around the issue. Cobb County spiked an expansion of public transit because it was worried about black people funneling in.

  32. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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