Thursday Open Thread | Charles Mingus Week!

Charles Mingus 1960 Presents Charles Mingus a[822]

Charles Mingus – Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

Charles Mingus – Devils Blues

Take the A-Train

Better Git it in your Soul

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97 Responses to Thursday Open Thread | Charles Mingus Week!

  1. Ametia says:


  2. Ametia says:

    Aw SHIT, Mama Pope and Gingham Man’s booty call gal are in cohoots!

  3. Ametia says:


  4. Aretha has me in tears. Hallelujah!

  5. The Queen is taking us to Church!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sang, Aretha! 👏👏👏👏

  6. rikyrah says:

    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka

    Patti LaBelle to President Obama: “You have brought class, dignity, endurance to this office; and baby, you’ve got swag.”
    6:43 PM – 6 Mar 2014

  7. Go sista! Go sista! Soul sista! Go sista!

    The great Patti LaBelle performs Lady Marmalade at the White House's Women of Soul concert.

    — Nerdy Wonka(@NerdyWonka) March 7, 2014

  8. LIVE: President Obama and the First Lady Host “In Performance at the White House: Women of Soul”.

  9. Ametia says:

    March 06, 2014, 02:12 pm
    House opts against condemning Issa
    By Pete Kasperowicz

    ..The House on Thursday rejected a Democratic resolution that condemned Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) for shutting down a committee hearing without letting any Democrat speak.

    With dozens of Democrats standing by her, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) proposed the resolution Thursday morning, a day after Issa held a combative hearing with a former IRS official involved in the IRS targeting scandal.

    After former official Lois Lerner refused to answer his questions, Issa ended the hearing, and left ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) pleading to be heard. Issa’s committee has defended the move by saying the hearing was a continuation of a 2013 hearing in which Democrats were allowed to participate.

    Nonetheless, Fudge asked House GOP leaders on Thursday to consider her resolution. But in the early afternoon, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) moved to table it.

    That move to essentially push the resolution to the side was approved by the House in a 211-186 vote. A handful of Republicans started by voting with Democrats, but in the end, every Republican voted to table the resolution, and six voted “present.” Four Democrats also voted “present.”

    Read more:
    Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook

  10. rikyrah says:

    Senate Blocks Gillibrand’s Military Sexual-Assault Bill
    By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 2:41 p.m.

    The Senate narrowly turned back a proposal to remove decisions about prosecutions for felony-level crimes, including sexual assaults, from the chain of command structure, voting 55-45. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s side came up short of the 60 votes needed to limit debate.

    Senators on both sides of the debate — which has not split along party lines — knew the vote on the New York Democrat’s legislation would be close. Gillibrand said earlier Thursday morning that she was “hopeful” her side would have the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster hurdle.

    Shortly before the voting started, Gillibrand rejected the idea that the trust many senators have for superior officers in the armed forces is relevant if victims of sexual abuse do not share that trust and therefore do not report attacks.

    Gillibrand supporter Sen. Barbara Boxer had a similar sentiment.


    Women voted 17-3 for Gillibrand military sexual assault bill. Men voted 42-38 against

  11. rikyrah says:

    Paul Ryan and the brown bag
    03/06/14 02:45 PM—Updated 03/06/14 03:43 PM
    By Steve Benen

    House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) covered a fair amount of ground in his speech this morning at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), but there was one story in particular that stood out.

    “This reminds me of a story I heard from Eloise Anderson. She serves in the cabinet of my friend Governor Scott Walker. She once met a young boy from a poor family. And every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. But he told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch – one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids’. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him.

    “That’s what the Left just doesn’t understand.”

    I’ve read this a few times, hoping Ryan had some other subtle subtext, but I’m afraid the congressman really is as confused as his anecdote suggests.

    The child may have wanted a lunch in a brown-paper bag, but – and I hope Ryan pauses to really pauses to think about this – his family is poor. The boy “didn’t want a free lunch,” but – and this is key – he didn’t want to be hungry, either.

    It’s true that Republican policymakers could take away that free lunch the child received at the school, but that doesn’t mean the boy’s family will suddenly have more money to pack a healthy lunch in a brown-paper bag.

  12. rikyrah says:

    David Corn ✔ @DavidCornDC
    JIndal advocates going back to medical system where patient and docs just shook hands & patients paid as they could. Really. #CPAC2014

    11:35 AM – 6 Mar 2014

  13. rikyrah says:

    A ‘smoking pistol’ in the Willingham case?
    03/06/14 10:09 AM—Updated 03/06/14 10:54 AM
    By Steve Benen

    Several years ago, John Cole described the Cameron Todd Willingham case as a story that “reads like a Grisham novel – allegations of murder and arson, the execution of an innocent man, corrupt politicos.” As it happens, the real-life story appears to have a new chapter.

    As long time readers may recall, Texas executed Willingham a decade ago, after he was convicted of killing his daughters in a deliberate house fire. Prosecutors secured a conviction thanks to the testimony of an “expert” whose credibility and findings were later torn to shreds.

    But that’s really just the start. As controversy surrounding the case grew, the Texas Forensic Science Commission, created to consider the competence of those who offer forensic testimony, hired an actual arson expert to consider the evidence, but before the panel could proceed, Gov. Rick Perry (R) started firing commission members before they could discuss the case.

    But wasn’t there a jailhouse informant who said Willingham confessed to him? There was, but in the latest twist, “newly discovered evidence suggests that the prosecutor in the case may have concealed a deal with a jailhouse informant whose testimony was a key part of the execution decision.”

    In recent weeks, as part of an effort to obtain a posthumous exoneration from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Rick Perry, lawyers working on Mr. Willingham’s behalf say they have found evidence that [jailhouse informant Johnny Webb] gave his testimony in return for a reduced prison sentence. Evidence of an undisclosed deal could have proved exculpatory during Mr. Willingham’s trial or figured in subsequent appeals, but Mr. Webb and the prosecutor at trial, John Jackson – who would later become a judge – explicitly denied that any deal existed during Mr. Webb’s testimony.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Alabama advances 6-week abortion ban
    03/06/14 11:49 AM—Updated 03/06/14 12:23 PM
    By Steve Benen

    Efforts to restrict reproductive rights are ongoing in several states, but no state is being quite as ambitious as Alabama. Yesterday, the Republican-led state House approved four bills on abortion, including one that would prohibit women from terminating an unwanted pregnancy just six weeks after conception.

    The bill would make exceptions if the pregnancy endangers the woman’s life or if a fetus would be stillborn or die shortly after birth but does not make an exception for rape or incest.

    An unborn fetus is “a life regardless of the painful, painful circumstances,” McClurkin said.

    Physicians would be required to check for a fetal heartbeat. Doctors who perform an abortion without documenting the heartbeat could be charged with a Class C felony, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

    In case it’s not obvious, women sometimes don’t know they’re pregnant until after six weeks. In practical terms, then, Alabama state law would expect women to seek an abortion before they might know they want one.

    The restrictions still have to be approved by Alabama’s Republican-led state Senate and Republican governor, but proponents of the bills are optimistic.

    Of course, the likelihood of such proposals surviving a court challenge is poor, though state policymakers appear intent on going forward anyway.

    What’s more, let’s not overlook the other three bills that passed the Alabama House yesterday, which for reproductive-rights advocates, are no less offensive.

    My colleague Kate Osborn flagged this Reuters piece that helped summarize the other measures, one of which would lengthen the current waiting period to 48 hours. Another would make it harder for pregnant minors seeking an abortion, empowering parents – including abusive parents – to intervene in cases in which young women are seeking permission from a judge.

  15. rikyrah says:

    evil ass mofo


    Paul Ryan: Free School Lunch Means Poor Parents Don’t Care About Kids
    Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Thursday that liberals don’t understand disadvantaged students would rather have parents who care for them than a free lunch at school.

    Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Ryan said Republicans offer their constituents “ideas” while Democrats offer a “full stomach and an empty soul.”

    He then told an anecdote he said was relayed to him by Eloise Anderson, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) Department of Children and Families secretary.

    “She once met a young boy from a very poor family, and every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program,” Ryan said.

    “He told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids,” he continued. “He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand.”

  16. rikyrah says:

    Community lenders’ network commits to lend $1 billion in support of ‘My Brother’s Keeper’
    By Zachary A. Goldfarb, Thursday, March 6, 1:35 AM

    A network of community lenders is committing to lend $1 billion in support of President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative that aims to boost the life chances of young African and Hispanic men.

    The Opportunity Finance Network, which represents more than 225 community development financial institutions, will pledge Thursday it will expand financing for organizations and initiatives working to help young minority men.

    Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are private lenders set up to help organizations and companies operating in low-income and disadvantaged communities, often offering loans and other financial services at affordable rates.

  17. rikyrah says:

    This Texas Democrat Could Be the Future of Her Party—And Her Name Isn’t Wendy Davis

    —By Andy Kroll

    Minutes before midnight last June 25, after state Sen. Wendy Davis concluded her 12-and-a-half-hour filibuster of a bill to severely limit abortion access in Texas, a colleague of Davis’ took the mike. Angered that the Republican leadership seemed to be ignoring female senators like herself, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte asked, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?” The Davis supporters who’d filled the gallery suddenly erupted in applause, a roar that only got louder as order turned to chaos, midnight came and went, and the infamous SB 5 legislation was, for the time being, defeated.

    Today, 59-year-old Van de Putte once again finds herself alongside Davis, who’s running for governor. She is the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Texas and will face either incumbent David Dewhurst or hard-right conservative state Sen. Dan Patrick in November. (Dewhurst and Patrick will compete in a May 27 runoff to pick the GOP nominee.) Right now, Davis is the talk of Texas politics, grabbing all the headlines and raising eye-popping sums of money. But Van de Putte may figure larger in the future of her state. Latina, progressive, and a sixth-generation Texan, she has a serious chance of winning, especially if a fire-breather like Patrick wins the runoff, and she is the type of candidate Democrats need as they try to capitalize on the state’s growing Latino population and turn Texas blue.

    Every schoolchild, the saying goes, learns that the most powerful politician in Texas is the lieutenant governor. If the governor of Texas dies, the lieutenant governor assumes the top spot. If the governor leaves the state even for a few days, the lieutenant governor becomes sitting governor. The lieutenant governor appoints the powerful committee chairmanships in the state Senate, picks which committee bills are sent to, and decides when a bill comes up for a vote and when someone is recognized on the floor of the state Senate.

    In other words, if Van de Putte wins, instead of asking for permission to speak, as she did last June, she’d be giving it. While she may be an underdog—any Texas Democrat running for statewide office is—she’s no long shot. A recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune pollshowed her trailing Patrick by 9 percentage points—2 less than Davis’ deficit against her Republican rival, Attorney General Greg Abbott—and Dewhurst by 12. If Van de Putte did pull off an upset—and Davis fell short—it would still be the biggest win for state Democrats since Ann Richards won the governorship in 1990.

    Davis and Van de Putte share the top of the ballot, but in many ways they couldn’t be more different. Davis is composed, lawyerly, and on-message; Van de Putte (whose maiden name is San Miguel) practically preaches from the dais, her speeches peppered with one-liners and zingers and folksy wisdom. At one event last year, a copy of her prepared remarks given to reporters included the disclaimer: “**Please note that the Senator frequently diverges from her prepared remarks**”

    On a recent Sunday morning, Van de Putte didn’t appear to have any prepared remarks as she addressed a Texas AFL-CIO convention at a downtown Austin hotel. “My journey here was not an easy one,” she said. In the past year, her six-month-old grandson, 82-year-old father, a beloved employee of her husband’s company, and her husband’s mother had all died. Grief stricken, Van de Putte said she wouldn’t have thought about running for lieutenant governor but for her friend Becky Moeller, the president of the Texas AFL-CIO. Moeller gently nagged her about running, and gave her polling data showing a narrow path to victory. Van de Putte and her family prayed on the decision. Ultimately, seeing the direction her state was headed, she couldn’t say no. She told the convention attendees, “You know, Mama ain’t happy. And if your family’s like my family, Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.'” Pause. “And if Grandma’s not happy, run! And so I am.”

    Van de Putte’s 20-minute speech veered from the tragic (her family’s recent losses) to the euphoric to the hard-hitting. She singled out Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for “throwing a temper tantrum” that shut down the federal government. Yet as any politician worth her salt knows, Texans don’t take kindly to criticism of their beloved state, and Van de Putte’s speech deftly walked the line between touting the so-called Texas miracle (“It’s because of Texas families that we’re succeeding”) and slamming her Republican counterparts for not investing in public schools and infrastructure.

    Throughout her speech, Van de Putte hit on a populist theme: “I know who you are. I know where you’ve been. I know where you’re going.” She used that line to appeal to the teachers, tradesmen, communication workers, and others gathered in the ballroom, and she urged them to remember the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” That populist message could play well should the GOP nominee be Dewhurst, a wealthy businessman who spent about $25 million of his own money on a losing US Senate campaign in 2012. Dewhurst has said this will be his last run for office; Dewhurst, who was worth at least $200 million heading into his Senate run, recently told the Associated Press he needs to “go back [to the private sector] and earn some money.” Patrick, the other GOP hopeful, has come under fire for his overheated rhetoric, such as describing the flow of immigrants from Mexico to Texas as an “illegal invasion.”

    Of course, Van de Putte will need a lot more than her friends in the labor movement to win in November. But as local and national Democrats pour money, manpower, and technology into their quest of turning Texas blue, Leticia Van de Putte is a name you can expect to hear a lot more often.

  18. Dems, at ‘a boiling point,’ hammer Issa

    House Democratic leaders are amplifying their attacks on Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) a day after the Oversight Committee chairman cut short a rowdy hearing examining political targeting at the IRS.

    The Democrats charge that Issa not only violated House rules, but also undermined the workings of democracy when he cut the microphone on Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.) as the panel’s senior Democrat tried to speak.

    And they aren’t mincing words.
    “What happened was so outrageous, so demeaning, so un-judicial, so awful in every respect, that we just absolutely have reached a boiling point,” Rep. Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), senior Democrat on the House Rules Committee, said during a press briefing in the Capitol.

    Cummings accused Issa of staging a politically motivated attack on the Obama administration without allowing the Democrats to respond – a dynamic he characterized as “un-American.”

    “Basically what happened yesterday is Chairman Issa wanted to hold a hearing and then shut it down before the Democrats could [utter] one syllable. There’s definitely something wrong with that picture,” Cummings said. “It is un-American, it is unfair and I reminded Chairman Issa that each one of my colleagues on the Democratic side, we too are elected by 700,000 people, and they deserve a voice.”

    Wednesday’s Oversight hearing was the latest in a months-long GOP investigation into whether the IRS targeted groups and individuals for extra scrutiny based on their political beliefs. Appearing before the panel was Lois Lerner, a former IRS official at the center of the controversy, who invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

    After Lerner refused to answer a series of questions from Issa, the chairman quickly adjourned the hearing, prompting a loud protest from Cummings, who sat beside him on the dais.

    In response, Issa cut off Cummings’s microphone while Republicans hurried out of the hearing room.

    Issa has defended his conduct, saying he acted according to the committee rules and accusing Cummings of “slandering” him by criticizing the investigation. Just hours later, in response to Democratic calls for him to apologize, Issa suggested the Democrats should be doing the apologizing for Cummings’s “inappropriate” behavior.

    On Thursday, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stood squarely behind Issa, saying he “was within his rights to adjourn the hearing when he did.”

  19. All of you republicans on the Oversight panel speaking anonymously to apologize for Issa actions are COWARDS. Just hang your heads in shame.

  20. Josh on vacation.

    Josh in Florida

  21. CBC asks that Issa be stripped of gavel

    The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus is calling House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to be stripped of his gavel for his behavior at a contentious IRS hearing on Wednesday.

    Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) told Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday that Issa’s conduct in the hearing — which included cutting off the microphone of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat — amounted to “an affront to the expectations of the American people.” Fudge also said Issa should apologize on the House floor.

    “The American people have the right to expect that their elected leaders be held to the highest possible standards of conduct. Congressional committee leaders are held to an even higher standard due to their unique positions,” Fudge wrote in a letter to Boehner.

    “Congressman Darrell Issa of California abused his authority and therefore must be reprimanded to ensure the dignity of the House of Representatives is preserved.”

    Fudge’s letter comes in the wake of a memorable House Oversight hearing with Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the agency’s targeting controversy. While the Oversight Committee is no stranger to conflict, the hearing turned rowdy even by the committee’s usual standards.

  22. Hey 3CP! Look at this ish here.

    Boehner: Darrell Issa was “within his rights” to cut off ranking Democrat’s mic at IRS hearing

  23. Black Caucus calls for removal of Darrell Issa from Oversight Committee

    Black Caucus calls for removal of Darrell Issa from Oversight Committee

    House Committee hearings are rarely must-see television, but a heated exchange between Oversight chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and the ranking Democratic member Rep. Elijah Cummings yesterday was unprecedented.

    Issa was holding hearings to investigate alleged political bias within the IRS. When he deemed witness Lois Lerner uncooperative and tried to prematurely end the proceedings, Cummings fought back.

    “Mr. Chairman, you cannot run a committee like this. You just cannot do this. We’re better than that as a country, we’re better than that as a committee,” he said.

    Cummings later called out the entire investigation for not being bipartisan, while Issa tried to cut his microphone. The incident got national coverage and has provoked Rep. Marcia Fudge, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, to call for Issa’s removal from the Oversight Committee.

    In a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, Rep. Fudge wrote, “Under the applicable Rules of the House, we strongly encourage you to take disciplinary action against Mr. Issa and force him to present himself before the American people on the House floor with an apology.”

    It’s unlikely that Boehner will move to reprimand Issa, who he has given relative free reign during his tenure.

    Still, according to Fudge: “Mr. Issa not only violated House Rules 9 and 23, he also violated the rules of the committee he chairs. According to Oversight & Government Reform Committee Rule 9 and House Rule 11, each member is allowed five minutes to question a witness during a Congressional hearing. Mr. Issa blatantly disregarded this rule when he adjourned the hearing and denied committee members the opportunity to speak in the middle of the customary five minutes afforded to Ranking Member Cummings. Mr. Issa is a disgrace and should not be allowed to continue in a leadership role.”

    • Liza says:

      Good move on the part of the Black Caucus. Darrell Issa is a sleaze hound who must be having wet dreams about selling a “scandal” that the House can use to impeach PBO. He has been trying to manufacture a scandal within the Obama Administration non-stop for years. All he has accomplished is an extraordinary waste of time and money while taxpayers foot the bill for his witch hunts.

  24. rikyrah says:

    Muzzling the IRS

    Those going after the agency want to keep secret hundreds of millions in dark, undisclosed money to run political attack ads and muddy the waters.

    By Norm Ornstein


    Now, appropriately and commendably, the IRS is trying to write new and clear regulations that meet the test of complying with the explicit language of the law, as the Supreme Court itself, in decisions like Better Business Bureau v. the United States, has said means exactly what it says: Exclusively means exclusively.
    Not surprisingly, opponents are going to DEFCON 1—for one reason, and one reason only: They want to keep secret the hundreds of millions in dark, undisclosed money to run attack ads and muddy the waters. This attack on the IRS, by lawmakers like Mitch McConnell, Issa, and Dave Camp, and by their outside political hacks and counselors, is all about muzzling the IRS to maintain secrecy and avoid the disclosure that the Supreme Court wholeheartedly and almost unanimously endorsed in decisions including Citizens United.


  25. Ametia says:


    Alabama Lawmaker Says GOP Would Favor Abortion if Their Daughters Were Pregnant With Black Babies (Audio)

    By Michael Allen, Wed, March 05, 2014
    The State of Alabama is considering a Republican-sponsored bill that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat was detected.
    “If your heart is beating, that means you are alive,” said Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, who wrote the bill.
    Alabama State Rep. Alvin Holmes, Democrat, told Republican lawmakers yesterday that they would oppose the bill if their daughters were carrying black babies, noted (audio below).

  26. rikyrah says:

    Sen. Harkin: Senate Would Have Confirmed Obama’s Top Civil Rights Nominee If He Was White

    Igor Bobic – March 6, 2014, 10:07 AM EST214

    The U.S. Senate would have confirmed President Obama’s top civil rights nominee if he was white, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) suggested on Wednesday.

    In a surprise move, the Democratic-led Senate scuttled the nomination of Debo P. Adegbile, who was tapped to be Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, citing his poor relations with the law enforcement community and his background leading the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. As a lawyer for the NAACP, Adegbile defended a man who was convicted in 1981 of killing a police officer in Philadelphia.

    Eight Democrats joined every Republican in voting against advancing his nomination.

    Harkin, who is retiring at the end of his term, lamented on the Senate floor that his colleagues had set a “terrible double standard” by voting against Adegbile when they supported the nomination of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who once took on pro-bono work on behalf of a man executed for mass murder.

    “Here’s the message we sent today,” Harkin said. “You young people listen up. If you are a young white person and you go to work for a law firm … and that law firm assigns you to a pro bono case to defend someone who killed eight people in cold blood … my advice from this, what happened today, is you should do that … Because if you do that, who knows? You might wind up to be the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.

    “However, if you are a young black person and you go to work for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund … and you’re asked to sign an appeal for someone convicted of murder, what the message said today is, ‘Don’t do it! Don’t do it.’ Because you know what? If you do that, in keeping with your legal obligations and your profession, you will be denied by the U.S. Senate from being an attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice,” Harkin said.

    “What about that guy sitting over there — the chief justice of the Supreme Court — defended a person who killed eight people?” Harkin asked, pointing toward the nearby court building. “Maybe we should institute a — an impeachment process? Maybe that’s what we ought to do. Maybe my friends on the Republican side did not know this about John Roberts, that he had defended a mass murderer. Maybe that’s what we’ve got to do, bring up an impeachment process. Let’s impeach the chief justice because he had fulfilled his legal obligation to defend a murderer. Well, I hope that you see the ridiculousness of that argument.”

  27. rikyrah says:

    Thrown in jail for being poor: the booming for-profit probation industry

    Many poor Americans face jail when they can’t pay steep fines for nonviolent crimes, like $1,000 for stealing a $2 beer

    In January 2013, Clifford Hayes, a homeless man suffering from lupus and looking for a night off the streets, walked into the sheriff’s office in Augusta, Georgia. It was a standard visit: he needed police clearance, a requirement of many homeless shelters, to stay overnight at the Salvation Army.

    Hayes expected to go straight to the shelter. Instead, he was handcuffed and later thrown in jail. Hayes hadn’t committed a crime – or at least, he hadn’t in many years since 2007, when he committed several driving-related misdemeanor offenses, for which he pled guilty and was put on probation. That probation left him $2,000 in debt for court fines – and fees he was supposed to pay to a private company the state hired to monitor him until his probation ended. Hayes needed to pay $854 to the court to avoid a jail sentence; because he had no money except a $730-a-month disability check, he was thrown in Richmond County lockup.

    The cost to taxpayers of Hayes’ eight-month jail sentence: $11,500, according to Georgia court documents.

    Despite the fact that the US supreme court ruled in 1983 that offenders cannot be jailed when they can’t afford to pay their fines, an increasing number of poor, low-level offenders are doing time because they can’t keep up with fees they owe to courts and private probation companies. To some it resembles a variation on the old Victorian workhouses and debtors’ prisons, moved from Dickensian England to the modern United States.

  28. rikyrah says:

    Josh Marshall: Obama’s Critics Should Put Up Or Shut Up

    Do you remember when President Bush’s political adversaries starting ragging on him during the first days after 9/11? Or during the first days of the invasion of Iraq? Me neither. Whatever you think of the holder of the presidential office, if you are actually concerned about the nation’s welfare you don’t go on TV mocking him and saying he’s weak. The President’s critics talk about “resolve” and “leadership” and “toughness” because there are not any actual actions they can point to that they think he should do but isn’t. These phrases are plastic, can mean anything and can be puffed up with all manner of wish-projection and foreign policy fantasy untethered to any concrete and specifics actions.

    It recalls the glory days of #RomneyStrength. It’s really that clear. Vague and ambiguous phrases are used to conceal this. What President Obama could do is give Putin an ultimatum to leave Crimea or be forcibly expelled. Then we’d have a real test of strength and Putin would see deep potential costs to his actions. But even the President’s toughest critics recognize this would be insane. It’s really not a good idea to get into a land war with the world’s other major nuclear power on their own terrain. (And whatever we think of the relationship between Russia and Ukraine now they were part of a single country for centuries and in terms of experience, tactics and knowledge it’s home ground for the Russian Army.)

  29. rikyrah says:

    Isaac Chotiner: Meet Vladmir Putin’s American Apologist

    Given that I don’t watch much Russian state television, I naively assumed it would be possible (and even desirable) to go through an entire day without hearing a solid defense of Vladimir Putin’s warmongering. But when confronted with the figure of NYU Professor Stephen F. Cohen, this becomes impossible. In a piece for The Nationand an appearance on Fareed Zakaria’s CNN show, Cohen gave his best defense of Putin’s Ukraine policy, and inadvertantly showed why making excuses for an autocratic regime makes the apologist look worst of all.

    Cohen’s discussion with Fareed Zakaria was brief but telling. After first denying that Putin was a “rank dictator” and saying that he is not “a thug” or “anti-American” (would Putin even deny this last bit anymore?), Cohen got to the main point of his argument: Notice that Cohen initially argues that some sort of control over Ukraine is a requirement of Russian greatness. And then, after explaining this, he says the whole crisis was “imposed” on Putin! This is apologetics done well: first you explain why bad behavior is actually sensisble, and then you say that the bad behavior wasn’t really under the control of the bad actor.

  30. rikyrah says:

    Elijah Wolfson: How Obamacare May Lower The Prison Population More Than Any Reform In A Generation

    While many have focused on the individual mandate, and the online (and glitchy) insurance exchanges, one of the most potentially impactful elements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has flown more or less under the radar. It may be the biggest piece of prison reform the U.S. will see in this generation. In 1980, the number of Americans incarcerated for drug-related offenses was around 41,000. Then, in 1982, the country’s “War on Drugs” officially commenced, and by 2011, that number had shot up to 500,000. In conjunction with funding the front on drug users, President Ronald Reagan defunded federal mental health programs, dropping total mental health spending by over 30 percent. As a result, many of the nation’s mentally ill lost what was essentially their home and place of work, and many ended up on the street.

    Today, a good portion of those make their beds in prisons and jails. The last major study on mental health in prisons, conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, found that 64 percent of inmates in state and federal prisons met the criteria for mental illness at the time of their booking or during the twelve months leading up to their arrest. Many hope and believe that change is on its way. The Justice Department estimates suggest that with the expansion of Medicaid, 5.4 million ex-offenders currently on parole or probation could get the health care they need. (It’s important to note that 25 states plus Washington, D.C. have implemented the Medicaid expansion as of 2014. However, many policy experts expect the remaining states to fall in line, citing the historical example of how CHIP was initially rejected by many states when it rolled out in 1997, but is now utilized in every state in the country.)

  31. rikyrah says:

    Obama tells Democrats to focus on November midterms, not 2016
    By Reuters
    Thursday, March 6, 2014 9:51 EST

    BOSTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama gently chided Democratic donors on Wednesday for paying too much attention to the next presidential race in 2016 and not enough attention to the upcoming
    midterm elections in 2014.

    Reminding Democrats at a fundraiser in Boston that “we got whalloped”
    in the 2010 midterms, when Republicans took control of the U.S. House
    of Representatives, Obama warned that “it could happen again if we don’t fight on behalf of the things we care about in this election.”

    “No one could be more invested than me in having a Democrat
    succeed me,” Obama told about 70 supporters at a dinner where tickets cost $5,000 to $20,000. But he stressed to Democrats they need to invest time, money and energy on the November midterms.

    “In the midterms, Democrats too often don’t vote. Too often, when
    there’s not a presidential election, we don’t think it’s sexy, we don’t
    think it’s interesting, people tune out,” Obama said.

  32. rikyrah says:

    Top 10 Black Comic Book Characters of All Time!

    Out of the hundreds of really cool Black comic book characters you could only imagine how hard it was to come up with a list of only ten. Much less a top ten of all time. The thought of cheating and bumping it up to twenty did cross our minds but there’s nothing wrong with a challenge, right? Well here they are folks, enjoy

  33. Ametia says:

    Obama to Donors: Don’t Let Democrats Get ‘Walloped’

    BOSTON – President Barack Obama pleaded with Democratic donors not sit on the sidelines in the midterm elections, warning them the party could get “walloped” if their voters don’t turn out this November.
    Mr. Obama indicated at a fundraiser Wednesday that he’s concerned Democrats could suffer losses this fall because they are already so focused on the 2016 presidential campaign. No one will work harder than he will to make sure a Democrat succeeds him in office, he said, because he wants to “consolidate and solidify” the gains he’s made over two terms. But right now, he said, the party needs to focus on 2014.

    “I’m going to need you,” Mr. Obama told about 70 donors at a dinner held at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter. “The progress we’ve made is on the ballot.”

  34. rikyrah says:

    We Can’t Eat Lupita Nyong’o’s Black Beauty — Try As We Might

    There’s a weird edge to the way Hollywood idolizes beautiful black women. And that’s putting it politely. posted on March 5, 2014 at 7:07pm EST

    Heben Nigatu: When Lupita Nyong’o ascended those steps in a dress she’s described as “Nairobi blue,” I drew in my breath and held it. When she said, “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s,” I gasped and had to take a seat — which was funny because I was already sitting down. I wasn’t just watching an actress winning an award for a critically-acclaimed film. I felt however briefly, however distantly, I was watching my sister, gold lit, calling on the names of her ancestors while America looked on.

    To say that I find Lupita — talent, poise, looks, and wardrobe — affirming doesn’t do it justice. I have loved seeing all of her flawless looks on my Tumblr dashboard every day this awards season and listening to her incredibly moving words that speak to vulnerabilities I tell myself I’ve worked through. These moments have inspired a lot of conversations between me and my friends about beauty, about being a black woman and feeling fetishized, and of course, very angsty memories of high school dating. I wanted us to use this conversation to explore what this Lupita moment brings up for you. What have your conversations been like? What do you think is at work in her “moment” and in the way we talk about her?

    Eugene Lee Yang: Heben, there was definitely a visceral reaction to Lupita’s Oscar win at a screening I attended of this year’s Academy Awards – which might as well have been renamed the 1st Annual Lupita Appreciation Club – though not everyone’s was as profound as your experience. A diverse, educated company of friends, all of whom became fixated on Lupita’s “flawless skin tone,” surrounded me, pouring champagne while crowning their new idol of beauty. I paused to wonder how this has become the rabid discourse of the day among peers who rarely, if ever, date outside of their own race, let alone express any attraction to someone with a skin tone as, in Lupita’s own words, “night-shaded” as hers. I had this particularly telling exchange with a friend who was unaware of Lupita’s exact ethnic origins:

  35. rikyrah says:

    Deafening Silence: Why Conservatives Fear Obama’s Foreign Policy

    Trevor LaFauci| March 6, 2014

    What’s ironic about the Republican arguments against President Obama’s current course of action is the fact that they clearly aren’t based in reality and only serve to further embarrass the party. For a political party that used to pride itself on foreign policy victories, today’s Republican Party has officially become paranoid after a string of victories by the Obama administration. The problem focuses on the fact that diplomacy is now seen as a viable solution to solving major international conflicts. This undermines the entire Republican foreign policy of flexing our military muscle first and asking questions later.

    It also hurts the Republican Party where it matters most: its wallet. You see, if there are no boots on the ground or no planes overhead then our friends at Boeing and Haliburton can’t make a few million bucks producing products with that profit then trickling down to their shareholders who just happen to be Republican government officials. If American diplomacy not only is implemented, but also works, then maybe, just maybe, people might begin to suggest that this tactic always be used first when an international incident occurs. If that happens, if we actually have dialogue between major world leaders, if we actually have economic pressures and sanctions placed against countries that violate law, if we freeze a nation’s assets, then this could lead to a world where American diplomacy, rather than American destroyers, ends up solving international conflicts.

    And that, for Republicans, is a very scary world.

  36. rikyrah says:


    Blaming Obama First

    By EJ Dionne


    Moreover, Republicans were utterly unrestrained in casting opposition to Bush’s policies as disloyalty to the nation. When Nancy Pelosi accused Bush in 2004 of being “incompetent,” Tom DeLay, then the House majority leader, denounced the top House Democrat for being “so caught up in the partisan hatred for President Bush that her words are putting American lives at risk.”
    There’s also this. A remarkably broad cross-party consensus has quickly coalesced around two propositions: (1) we will not commit American military forces in this crisis, but (2) we should use every realistic form of pressure at our disposal to contain and then reverse Putin’s assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty. Must we pretend to disagree even when we agree?


  37. rikyrah says:

    CEO Of Bitcoin Exchange Found Dead In Singapore, Possible Suicide
    SATISH CHENEY – March 6, 2014, 7:45 AM EST

    SINGAPORE (AP) — The CEO of a virtual currency exchange was found dead near her home in Singapore.

    A police spokesman said Thursday that initial investigations indicated there was no suspicion of “foul play” in the Feb. 26 death, meaning officers do not suspect murder.

    The spokesman said police found 28-year-old Autumn Radtke, an American, lying motionless near the apartment tower where she lived.

    Police have so far classified the death as “unnatural,” which can mean an accident, misadventure, or suicide.

    Radtke’s company, First Meta, said it was “shocked and saddened by the tragic loss.”

    First Meta allows users of virtual currencies such as bitcoin to trade and cash out the currencies. It is one of several such exchanges.

    The future of bitcoin has been under scrutiny since the collapse of the Mt. Gox exchange in Tokyo last month.

    Radtke had worked at other tech companies

  38. rikyrah says:

    Tuesday, March 4, 2014
    The Return Of The Granny Starver
    Posted by Zandar

    If you have any doubt what GOP control of the Senate would mean in 2015, it would entail the GOP putting Paul Ryan’s budget on President Obama’s desk and saying “sign it or else”. Robert Costa pulls no punches:

    Ryan and his aides are unsparing in how they take the hammer to current federal policies. On page after page, the report casts a critical eye on how the government administers money to the poor and related bureaucracies, using a bevy of academic literature and federal studies as evidence.

    Ryan said the crux of the report is the conclusion that federal programs need to be entirely reimagined, with more than tweaks or axed appropriations, and that legislation this year should move toward broader solutions that solve what he thinks are structural weaknesses in how the government supports the poor.

    “Because these programs are means-tested — meaning that benefits decline as recipients make more money — poor families face very high implicit marginal tax rates,” the report says. “The federal government effectively discourages them from making more money.”

    During the Clinton years Republicans demanded that programs had to be means tested to make sure that Cadillac-driving welfare queens weren’t magically buying T-bone steaks on Uncle Sugar’s dime and getting rich.

    Now in the Obama years, means-testing means the welfare queens are poor and staying poor because it “discourages them from working”. So now “reforming” these programs means scrapping them entirely.

    According to the report, Head Start, a federal program for early-childhood education and nutrition, is “failing to prepare children for school,” and “a consolidated, well-funded system would be better.”

    Medicaid, which provides health coverage to low-income families, is the object of a sharply worded review. “Medicaid coverage has little effect on patients’ health,” the report says, adding that it imposes an “implicit tax on beneficiaries,” “crowds out private insurance” and “increases the likelihood of receiving welfare benefits.”

    Head Start and Medicaid have to go. Time for block grants, which means states can use the money however they want to, and that of course means “not for the poor”.

  39. rikyrah says:

    The birth of obstruction

    By now we all know that on the very day President Obama was inaugurated in 2009, Republican leaders were meeting to come up with a strategy to reach Sen. McConnell’s singular goal of “making him a one-term president.” We also know that the strategy they settled on was to eschew compromise (remember when Speaker Boehner couldn’t even say the word?) and obstruct anything he tried to accomplish.

    In light of that, its interesting to look at the recently released 1993 memo from Bill Kristol informing Republicans about what their response should be to President Clinton’s health care reform proposal.

    Any Republican urge to negotiate a “least bad” compromise with the Democrats, and thereby gain momentary public credit for helping the president “do something” about health care, should also be resisted…On grounds of national policy alone, the plan should not be amended; it should be erased.

    As we all know, the Republicans were successful in doing what Kristol suggested. And so its interesting to speculate about whether or not this was the birth of obstruction as a comprehensive strategy during the Obama era.

    But its also interesting to look at why Kristol so vehemently opposed health care reform during a time when Republicans were open to working with a Democratic president.

    Passage of the Clinton health care plan, in any form, would guarantee and likely make permanent an unprecedented federal intrusion into and disruption of the American economy–and the establishment of the largest federal entitlement program since Social Security. Its success would signal a rebirth of centralized welfare-state policy at the very moment we have begun rolling back that idea in other areas…

    But the long-term political effects of a successful Clinton health care bill will be even worse–much worse. It will relegitimize middle-class dependence for “security” on government spending and regulation. It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government.

    Kristol knew that health care reform would challenge the trajectory of rolling back federal programs that had begun during the Reagan years. In other words, it would be transformative because it would work (notice how he elusively compares it to a beloved and effective program like Social Security?) Here’s how Josh Marshall explains it:

    Take this out of con-speak and you have a very candid statement that health care reform would work. Average people would like it. And it would “rekindle” the belief that government activism can be part of the solution in helping sustain and protect the middle class. Kristol was clear that this would not only [be] an ideological defeat but also a political one inasmuch as Democrats are the party of government.

    And so here we are 20 years later and President Obama has succeeded where the Clintons failed (precisely because he learned from their mistakes). It is important that we recognize the battle over Obamacare for what it is – not only about health care for millions of Americans – but an ideological battle over the liberal/Democratic notion that good government has a role to play in our lives. Its about altering the trajectory set in motion during the Reagan years of distrusting a government that, from its outset, was to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

    Clearly the Republicans see the big picture and know what’s at stake here. Hopefully every liberal/Democrat does as well.

  40. rikyrah says:

    “The single best US analyst of Middle Eastern politics is Barack Obama”

    As regular readers here know, I’ve been pretty hard on the failure of our media lately. But the truth is, there are exceptions. Given that my focus over the last few years has been to try to understand President Obama, there are a few reporters who have ignored the “inside the bubble” conventional wisdom and eschewed partisan spin to simply listen/observe in an effort to provide us with insight into his approach.

    Two of the people who have done that are Michael Lewis and David Remnick. In addition, two years ago Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed President Obama on the topic of Israel/Iran and provided us with some fascinating insights that I recently suggested go beyond that topic. And then yesterday, Goldberg published another lengthy interview he had with the President last week that provides the same kind of insight. While the interview took place prior to the most recent events in Ukraine, it provides us with some grounding that counters much of the spin we’re currently being subjected to about his approach. So if you are reeling a bit from all of that, I highly recommend you follow the link and read this one.

    What we see from this interview is confirmation once again of President Obama’s long view, his pragmatism and his efforts to use his opponents objectives to accomplish his own (an affirmation of the Aikido Way).

  41. rikyrah says:


    President Obama today:

    I would also note just the way that some of this has been reported, that there’s a suggestion somehow that the Russian actions have been clever strategically. I actually think that this has not been a sign of strength but rather is a reflection that countries near Russia have deep concerns and suspicions about this kind of meddling, and if anything, it will push many countries further away from Russia.

    You see what he did? He’s suggesting that strength comes via partnership rather than dominance. That’s a game-changer right there!

  42. rikyrah says:

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

    The Grand Obama Derangement Theory

    Posted by Zandar

    The Power Line brain trust takes a crack at a uniting theory justifying Obama Derangement Syndrome in order to explain away why the President is both a domestic tyrant who must be brought low and a foreign policy milquetoast who nobody pays attention to. Paul Mirengoff complains that the ideas are not mutually (and comically) exclusive.

    Obama’s core stated foreign policy objectives are to keep the U.S. out of war and to transform America’s image from that of unilateralist bully to a nation that plays well with others. Thus, it makes plenty of sense that Obama would behave internationally in ways that most conservatives would find feckless and/or timid.

    Now, if Paul Mirengoff had written only this paragraph, he’d have a point. Since conservatives are all about idiotically invading countries and costing us tens of thousands in troops, millions of ruined lives, and trillions in taxpayer dollars, President Obama’s reasonable notion that such a policy may not be the best idea really does come across as “feckless and/or timid” to these credibility-free numbskulls. Alas, he keeps going right into the teeth of the derpstorm.

    The real question for conservatives who note the stark difference between Obama’s domestic and international posture is not whether they are being inconsistent but whether they are missing a unifying theme. The unifying theme would be an ideological aversion to the United States sufficient to cause Obama to (1) push for the radical transformation of the nation’s domestic policy through unlawful methods and (2) weaken the nation internationally by declining to assert American influence or even willfully ceding influence, including to our adversaries.

    To recap, it’s 2014, the sixth year of the man’s second term, and the right still hasn’t gotten past 2007’s “Obama obviously hates America!”schtick. And then he ends by invalidating his original complaint:

    The question, in other words, is whether Obama behaves as he does in foreign affairs because he is naive or because he understands how the world works and simply wants the U.S. to have much less say about it.

    The fact that Obama effectively plays domestic hard ball might cause some to tilt — Milbank style — in favor of the second explanation. But there is considerable naivety in the substance, if not the style, of Obama’s domestic policy.

    In order to explain away why the Feckless Tyrant Theory is not a oxymoronic mess, he gives you the Stupid Supervillain Theory.

  43. rikyrah says:

    California Man Guilty of Stealing DuPont Trade Secrets
    By Karen Gullo Mar 5, 2014 4:29 PM CT

    DuPont Co. (DD)’s secrets for cleanly manufacturing the ubiquitous white pigment found in paper and plastics were stolen and sold to a Chinese company by a California engineer, a jury said, handing a conviction to U.S. prosecutors cracking down on economic espionage.

    Walter Liew, 56, a consultant who rose from a farm in Malaysia to earn $28 million from contracts with a Chinese company, was found guilty by federal jurors in San Francisco of 22 counts of economic espionage, trade secret theft, witness tampering and making false statements. He sold the secrets to China’s Pangang Group Co., a Chengdu-based chemical company building a 100,000 metric-ton-per-year plant to produce titanium dioxide, a white pigment with a global annual sales of $14 billion, prosecutors said.

    The convictions of Liew and an ex-DuPont engineer are a victory for the U.S. Justice Department, which has charged about 20 people in recent years with stealing U.S. technology for China. The Obama administration has said Chinese spy agencies are involved in a far-reaching industrial espionage campaign targeting biotechnology, telecommunications, clean energy and nanotechnology industries. This case marks the first federal jury conviction on charges brought under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, federal prosecutors said.

    “As today’s verdict demonstrates, foreign governments threaten our economic and national security by engaging in aggressive and determined efforts to steal U.S. intellectual property,” Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney in San Francisco, said in a statement.

  44. rikyrah says:

    ‘50th time is the charm’
    03/05/14 09:28 AM
    By Steve Benen

    Last week, after House Republicans announced an upcoming vote on undermining the Affordable Care Act, President Obama took some time to mock GOP lawmakers for their pointless hobby. “You know what they say: 50th time is the charm,” he joked at a DNC event. “Maybe when you hit your 50th repeal vote, you will win a prize. Maybe if you buy 50 repeal votes, you get one free. We get it. We understand. We get you don’t like it. I got it.”

    But by all appearances, Republicans aren’t concerned about mockery. They’re proceeding today with their plan to go after the ACA’s individual mandate – again. By most counts, it will be the 50th time House Republicans have voted to gut some or all of the health care law since 2011, even though they fully realize their bill has no chance of being signed into law.

    The House is set to vote Wednesday on a bill by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) to effectively delay the individual mandate for one year by reducing the penalty in 2014 for not buying insurance from $95 to $0.

    The Republican-led chamber passed a similar bill last July, capturing 22 Democratic votes. Now that it’s an election year, it’s plausible that a significant number of Democrats will defect, given the unpopularity of the individual mandate and the likelihood that Senate Democrats will throw the bill in the garbage once it arrives.

    House Republicans are under no illusions about the legislation’s prospects, but governing isn’t the goal. This is about an election-year stunt intended to help GOP lawmakers feel better, maybe motivate the base a bit, and create the basis for some new attack ads against Democrats.

  45. rikyrah says:

    Reid sees GOP as ‘addicted to Koch’
    03/05/14 10:03 AM—Updated 03/05/14 07:43 PM
    By Steve Benen

    Under normal political circumstances, it’s quite unusual to see a powerful political leader go out of his or her way to blast prominent political donors. But these aren’t exactly normal political circumstances, and for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Charles and David Koch are more than just politically engaged contributors.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the floor on Tuesday to denounce the spending – now up to $14.5 million – by Charles and David Koch on Senate races, the latest attempt by Democrats to raise the profile of the free-spending conservative brothers in advance of the November election.

    Reid has never been shy, but the Nevada Democrat was especially aggressive during his floor remarks yesterday. “What is un-American is when shadowy billionaires pour unlimited money into our democracy to rig the system to benefit themselves and the wealthiest one percent,” he said of the Koch brothers,

    The majority leader added, “The Koch brothers and other moneyed interests are influencing the politics in a way not seen for generations. Republican senators have come to the floor to defend the Koch brothers’ attempt to buy our democracy. Once again, Republicans are all in to protect their billionaire friends. Not only have Senate Republicans come to the floor to defend the Koch brothers personally, they have again and again defended the Koch brothers’ radical agenda – and it is radical, at least from the middle-class perspective.”

    Congressional Republicans, Reid concluded, are “addicted to Koch.”

  46. rikyrah says:

    NC Republican: Obamacare ‘a great idea’
    03/05/14 10:49 AM—Updated 03/05/14 11:57 AM
    By Steve Benen

    For many Republican politicians, opposition to the Affordable Care Act is pretty straightforward: the law should be repealed in its entirety. The end. But for many others, especially those involved in competitive statewide elections, it’s not quite that simple.

    Yes, “Obamacare” is unpopular, creating an obvious incentive for conservative politicians to run against it, but wholesale repeal is unpopular, too. For that matter, many of the individual provisions of the ACA enjoy broad public support, and as enrollment totals grow, firm stands against the law are tantamount to promises to strip families of their health care benefits on purpose.

    It’s left some politicians trying (and failing) to walk a tightrope. Take North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, the leading Republican candidate in a crowded field for the U.S. Senate.

    Tillis opposes the Affordable Care Act, except for the popular parts, which he’d like to keep. He vaguely supports the alternative plan presented by his home-state ally Sen. Richard Burr (R), but not really.

    Yesterday, Greg Sargent flagged a recent comment Tillis made during a radio interview, in reference to the Democratic health care law:

  47. rikyrah says:

    Issa shuts down his own IRS hearing
    03/05/14 12:08 PM—Updated 03/05/14 12:41 PM
    By Steve Benen

    The first time House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) tried to hear testimony from Lois Lerner, the former head of the IRS’ tax exempt division, she asserted her Fifth Amendment rights, as expected. Today, Issa brought Lerner back, knowing she wouldn’t testify, but wanting to put on a little election-year show for the cameras anyway.

    But as the above video makes clear, the interesting development wasn’t Lerner’s decision not to testify, which everyone already knew would happen, but the heated confrontation between Issa and the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).

    For about 15 minutes, Issa, already well aware of the fact that Lerner wouldn’t answer his questions, strutted for the cameras, pushing his favorite talking points about the discredited scandal.

    When he was done, Issa decided to abruptly end the hearing. When Cummings sought an opportunity to speak, Issa invited everyone in attendance to leave. When Cummings proceeded anyway, Issa cut off the power to the congressman’s microphone.

    “I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America!” Cummings shouted. “I am tired of this.”

  48. rikyrah says:

    The ‘travesty’ of Debo Adegbile’s defeat
    03/05/14 02:33 PM
    By Steve Benen

    Attorneys are not supposed to be judged by the crimes of their clients. It’s a basic American principle that eluded the U.S. Senate today.

    The Senate voted 47-52 Wednesday to reject controversial nominee Debo Adegbile as an assistant attorney general.

    Seven Democrats voted against moving forward with President Obama’s nomination of Adegbile, which the Fraternal Order of Police and other groups opposed because of his involvement in the defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981.

    Adegbile’s nomination had 48 votes – two shy of a tie, which Vice President Biden would have broken in the nominee’s favor – but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had to switch his vote for procedural reasons.

    Every Republican in the chamber voted against Adegbile, and they were joined today by seven Democrats. It’s the first defeat for an Obama nominee since the so-called “nuclear option” was executed last fall.

    Any in this instance, it’s pretty easy to argue that Adegbile deserved better.

    Adam Serwer has been reporting on this nomination throughout the process.

    The child of a white mother and Nigerian father, Adegbile emerged from an impoverished upbringing in the South Bronx to become an experienced Supreme Court litigator as an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. That’s part of the reason his nomination is being opposed by many conservatives. On matters of voting rights, affirmative action, and racial discrimination, Adegbile holds views that are broadly consistent with the Obama administration, the mainstream of the Democratic Party, and in many cases longstanding legal precedent. Conservatives view those positions as tantamount to, if not worse than, the discrimination that the policies are meant to resolve.

    The issue that has stirred intense conservative opposition to Adegbile is the NAACP LDF’s successful defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a black radical who was convicted of murdering white police officer Daniel Faulkner in Philadelphia in 1982. He presided over the team that successfully persuaded a federal court to commute Abu-Jamal’s death sentence.

    The smear campaign against Adegbile from conservative media has been especially over the top, with one Fox News pundit going so far as to call him a “cop killer coddler.”

    It’s apparently easy for some – including a majority of the U.S. Senate – to forget that in the United States, we believe that everyone accused of a crime is entitled to a defense. It’s a basic principle woven into the fabric of our justice system. No matter how heinous or shocking the allegations, we’re committed to a process in which defendants are treated fairly, including a right to competent counsel.

  49. rikyrah says:

    Dems eye another round on jobless aid
    03/05/14 04:42 PM
    By Steve Benen

    It’s been nearly three months since congressional Republicans allowed extended unemployment benefits to lapse, despite independent warnings that this would cost the national economy hundreds of thousands of jobs. Since then Senate Democrats have brought multiple extensions to the floor for a vote, but in each instance, the bills failed due to Republican filibusters.

    The most recent attempt, which came a month ago tomorrow, came one vote shy of success. Proponents hope the fourth time will be the charm.

    Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said Wednesday that he will need to “pull out all the stops” to get enough GOP support for a 6-month extension to unemployment benefits that could come up for a vote next week.

    “I have to pull out all the stops to try to pick up another Republican vote, it’s not Democrats I have to worry about,” he said. “It’s getting the Republicans to allow these millions of people who are desperate long-term unemployed a shot in the arm.

    Weather in the nation’s capital has affected the calendar, but Reid’s office expects a vote next week, either Wednesday or Thursday.

  50. rikyrah says:

    Issa’s ‘dead end’
    03/06/14 08:00 AM—Updated 03/06/14 08:31 AM
    By Steve Benen

    House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) no doubt thought he was making a smart political move by scheduling another IRS hearing. The “scandal” stopped being interesting many months ago, but there’s an election coming up, and fundraising letters to be sent out, so Issa likely hoped a new hearing would serve some larger partisan purpose.

    Indeed, the California Republican seemed to have a plan: he’d demand testimony from Lois Lerner, the former head of the IRS’ tax exempt division; she would assert her Fifth Amendment rights; and Issa would share his righteous indignation for the cameras. It’s a custom-made stunt for the right, generating plenty of “IRS official takes the Fifth” headlines.

    But Issa just couldn’t control himself. Instead of the political world chattering about a discredited controversy, everyone is now shaking their head about Issa cutting off microphones and refusing to let Democrats speak at the hearing. Issa stopped pushing the story and quickly became the story.

    The conservative chairman soon after sounded like a man acknowledging defeat.

    A reporter than asked Issa if he was still “confident” the investigation would “get to the bottom of this.”

    “It may well be we have gotten to the bottom of it,” Issa said. “At this point, roads lead to Ms. Lerner. The witness who to took the Fifth. That becomes – she becomes one of the key characters at this point. Had she been willing to explain those emails which were provided through separate subpoenas, then we could have perhaps brought this to a close. Without that, it may dead end with Ms. Lerner.

  51. rikyrah says:

    Jobless claims improve to 3-month low
    03/06/14 08:51 AM
    By Steve Benen

    Initial unemployment claims have been stuck at a discouraging level lately, but according to the new figures from the Labor Department, last week offered a welcome break. The weather, however, may have contributed to the progress.

    The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by 26,000 to 323,000 in the week ended March 1, marking the lowest level since late November, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected claims to total 335,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. Like other economic reports, claims have been distorted by a harsh winter…. A better way to gauge the trend in claims is the four-week average that reduces the effects of weather and other unusual factors. The monthly average posted a much smaller decline of 2,000 to end up at 336,500, and it’s shown little change in 2014.

    To reiterate the point I make every Thursday morning, it’s worth remembering that week-to-week results can vary widely, and it’s best not to read too much significance into any one report.

  52. rikyrah says:

    Why I can’t stand white belly dancers

    Whether they know it or not, white women who practice belly dance are engaging in appropriation
    Randa Jarrar

    Google the term “belly dance” and the first images the search engine offers are of white women in flowing, diaphanous skirts, playing at brownness. How did this become acceptable?

    The term “belly dance” itself is a Western one. In Arabic, this kind of dance is called Raqs Sharqi, or Eastern dance. Belly dance, as it is known and practiced in the West, has its roots in, and a long history of, white appropriation of Eastern dance. As early as the 1890s in the U.S., white “side-show sheikhs” managed dance troupes of white women, who performed belly dance at world’s fairs (fun trivia: Mark Twain made a short film of a belly dancer at the 1893 fair). Many white women who presently practice belly dance are continuing this century-old tradition of appropriation, whether they are willing to view their practice this way or not.

    Growing up in the Middle East, I saw women in my community do Raqs Sharqi at weddings and parties. Women often danced with other women, in private spaces, so that this dance was for each other. When they danced at house parties with men in attendance, the dynamic shifted. When women danced for women alone, there was a different kind of eroticism, perhaps more powerful, definitely more playful, or maybe that’s how it felt to me, as a child and teenager, wary of men’s intentions. At weddings the dancing was celebratory and flirty and beautiful, something a professional dancer would come in to do, and something that everyone else would continue engaging in. If there was a drummer present, all the better. At my wedding, I was my own dancer. I hired a band that specialized in Arabic music and danced with my family and friends, not all of whom were Arab.

    One of the most awkward occurrences for me when I go out to an Arabic restaurant is the portion of the evening when the white belly dancer comes out. This usually happens on weekends, and I’ve learned to avoid those spaces then, but sometimes I forget. The last time I forgot, a white woman came out in Arab drag — because that’s what that is, when a person who’s not Arab wears genie pants and a bra and heavy eye makeup and Arabic jewelry, or jewelry that is meant to read as “Arabic” because it’s metallic and shiny and has squiggles of some kind — and began to belly-dance. She was not a terrible belly dancer. But she was incredibly thin and didn’t remind me, in any way, of Tahia Karioca or Hind Rostom or my absolute favorite Raqs Sharqi dancer, Fifi Abdo. Abdo used to dance in the expected bra and skirt but later danced mostly in robes that were somewhat shapeless and more traditional — a kind of relaxed housewear- streetwear dress that folks in Egypt rock daily. There are videos of her in these robes dancing at weddings and smoking sheesha while she dances. When I am having a particularly lousy day, I watch this video of her and dance along.

  53. rikyrah says:

    10 best-paying cities for women
    Here’s where women earn the highest median salaries. But even in some of these top-paying metro areas, wages show striking gender disparity.

    By Susan Adams, Forbes

    Where to find good, if not equal, pay
    In his State of the Union address in January, President Obama made a plea for higher women’s wages. “You know, today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns,” he said. “That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. Women deserve equal pay for equal work.”

    So is there a place in the United States where women make the same as men? Are there cities where women’s wages are higher than others? For answers we turned to financial literacy site NerdWallet, which has sorted through figures from the 2012 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census (the latest data available).

    The annual dataset tracks the median earnings of men and women working full-time, year-round in more than 500 major metropolitan areas across the U.S. NerdWallet has crunched the numbers and helped us figure out which metro areas pay the most in raw numbers and as a percentage of men’s salaries.

    At the top of the list: San Jose, Calif., where women earn a median income of $56,000. That’s more than double the salary in the worst-paying city for women: Laredo, Texas, where they make just $24,700. With the surge in the tech industry, it’s not surprising that salaries are highest in a slice of Silicon Valley. But the gender disparity there is striking, according to the Census numbers. Women earn just 74 percent of what men make.

    Other top-paying cities also fall short of even the national average: Women in Boulder, Colo., and Bridgeport, Conn., for example, earn high salaries, but just 72 cents for every dollar their male peers take home.

    There are several explanations, as explored in a smart post by the non-partisan site Politifact, which parsed President Obama’s 77 percent remark in the State of the Union: Difference in jobs held, difference in college degrees earned and time off for parenting. Although all of this is in flux, women tend to go into lower-paying fields like receptionists, nurses and teachers while men gravitate to jobs like truck drivers, managers and software engineers.

    That said, Politifact also notes that it can be most meaningful to look at the gender pay gap in specific professions. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research calculated pay parity for the top 20 occupations for women and found gaps of varying sizes in every profession but one (bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks). Women nurses make 96 cents for every dollar men earn. But female financial advisers make only 66 cents.

  54. rikyrah says:

    White House announces visa restrictions on Russians in response to Ukraine crisis

    By The Associated Press
    March 6, 2014 5:50 AM

    WASHINGTON – The White House is imposing visa restrictions on Russians and Crimeans who it says are “threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

    In addition, President Barack Obama has signed an executive order
    authorizing sanctions against “individuals and entities responsible for
    activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine.”

    The new action on visas comes in addition to a U.S. policy denying visas to those involved in human rights abuses related to political oppression in Ukraine.

    The White House announcement comes as Western nations have been wrestling with a response to Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

  55. rikyrah says:

    Ophelia DeVore, “Black Is Beautiful” Pioneer, Dead At 93
    Mar 5, 2014
    By Ruth Manuel-Logan

    History-maker Ophelia DeVore (pictured), one of the first African-American models in the U.S., and owner of the the legendary Grace Del Marco Modeling Agency and The Ophelia DeVore School of Self-Development and Modeling, passed away Friday at age 93 from stroke complications at a New York City hospice, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

    DeVore pioneered the “Black is Beautiful” movements, two famous institutions, provided lessons in modeling, etiquette, poise and posture, ballet, speech and self-presentation (including grooming lessons in hair styling, applying makeup and dressing in flattering clothes) and supported the social and professional aspirations of tens of thousands illustrious students such as Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson, Richard Roundtree, Gail Fisher, Susan Taylor, Gil Noble and Faith Evans.

  56. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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