Saturday Open Thread

Happy Saturday, Everyone! Hope you’re enjoying the weekend with friends & Famuly.

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18 Responses to Saturday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Why GOP Control of the Senate Would Be a Disaster
    The Editors on October 22, 2014 – 1:38PM ET

    The Nation usually argues for voting our hopes, not our fears. But this year, fear-based voting may be warranted—or at least understandable. With the midterms nearly upon us, and with polls suggesting that Republicans could take control of the Senate, the stakes are high—not just for the Obama administration and congressional Democrats, but for America. GOP control of the House and Senate could be catastrophic for the environment, for workers, for women and for minorities.

    Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has already promised the Koch brothers that “we’re not going to be debating all these gosh-darn proposals…like raising the minimum wage…extending unemployment…the student loan package.” And it won’t just be progressive proposals that are stymied. Consider the judges who will never make it to the bench, including the highest, if Chuck Grassley, not Pat Leahy, is in charge of the Judiciary Committee. Consider the destabilizing political circus Republicans will create if Darrell Issa’s hyperpartisan investigations into fake scandals spread from the House to the Senate.

    GOP control of key Senate committees will reorder the debate. What happens, for example, if Senator Pat Toomey, former president of the right-wing Club for Growth, takes over Sherrod Brown’s subcommittee overseeing financial institutions and consumer protection? What happens to nuclear negotiations with Iran if McConnell, Lindsey Graham and John McCain are deciding when to bring up a sanctions bill?

    But a GOP takeover is not a threat just because of what Republicans will do. Progressives should also worry about the many areas of potential agreement between Obama and a GOP-controlled Senate. It is Harry Reid, for example, not Republicans, who is denying the president fast-track authority on corporate trade deals. Without Reid in the way, pacts like the Trans-Pacific Partnership—which labor leaders describe as “NAFTA on steroids”—are likely to become the law of the land. Likewise, Obama and Republicans could agree to pursue lower corporate tax rates—as opposed to infrastructure investments and job creation—as their primary economic-development initiative. And let’s not forget that Obama has repeatedly floated Social Security cuts as a bargaining chip in negotiations with GOP leaders.

    Perhaps the most worrying consequence of a GOP-controlled Senate will be the extension of the damaging austerity agenda. Think, for example, about the next debt-ceiling fight. Republicans have repeatedly used the debt ceiling to hold the economy hostage, but they have relented each time because they knew that they would be blamed for the consequences—not the president. But if Republicans take control of the Senate, that calculus will change. What happens when they send Obama a bill to prevent default on our debt at the eleventh hour, attached to a bill that ravages Social Security? The Republicans will be able to force the president to choose between impossible options.

  2. rikyrah says:

    No, Americans Are Not All To Blame for the Financial Crisis Exposing the big lie of the post-crash economy
    By Dean Starkman

    Among my favorite anecdotes of the mortgage-industry decadence that preceded the global financial crisis is the one about Ameriquest’s wind machine. A motivational tool for managers, it made its appearance in the late ’90s at an executive conference at Las Vegas’s MGM Grand Hotel, where the future subprime leader hooked up a powerful fan to a plastic tent. Inside, exuberant branch managers jumped around amid a cascade of cash, allowed to keep as many swirling bills as they could grab.

    That was how it went at mortgage-firm retreats: Here, a money-grabbing contest; there, a round of ritual chanting—“The power of yes! The power of yes!”—at a 2004 Washington Mutual gathering that was like the high ceremony of some bizarre money cult. Before long such incentivizing was part of the daily culture, if not official policy. Countrywide, for example, had a marketing program called the “High-Speed Swim Lane” that linked the bonuses of sales reps working in football-field-sized call centers to the volume of loans they originated. Compressing the programs initials—and cutting to the chase—employees nicknamed it “The Hustle.”

    Mere excess was never enough for these companies. Though we’re all aware, by now, of the crookedness that infected the mortgage business last decade, the particulars are still striking. Did you know, for instance, that WMC Mortgage Corporation, owned by General Electric, hired former strippers and an ex-porn actress to entice brokers into selling their mortgages, according to a report by the Center for Public Integrity? Or that Wells Fargo gave its mortgage stars all-expense-paid vacations to Cancun and the Bahamas and treated them to private performances by Aerosmith, the Eagles, and Elton John? Or that New Century sent top loan sales reps to Porsche driving school?

    The upshot is clear enough: With Wall Street’s demand for mortgages unending and some loan producers managing to book up to 70 loans per day, the system didn’t just crash. It was brought down.

    But we’ve also been made to understand that subprime lenders and their Wall Street funders didn’t act alone. Instead, they were aided by the avarice of the American people, who were not victims of the crash so much as accomplices in it. Respondents to a Rasmussen poll done during the throes of the crisis overwhelmingly blamed “individuals who borrowed more than they could afford” (54 percent) over Wall Street (25 percent). To this day, the view is widespread and bipartisan: Main Street was an essential cause of the meltdown. The enemy was us.


    Is that not the truth?

    Actually: No, it’s not. The notion that American consumers share the blame for the mortgage crisis is a lie. And it is one of the most pernicious out there.

  3. rikyrah says:

    0 to go: “Putting aside the Democratic Party” is why we lose
    Posted on October 25, 2014 by Milt Shook

    I’ve been inundated with tons of stories extolling the virtues of Bernie Sanders as a presidential candidate in 2016. To their credit, most at least acknowledge that Sanders has no chance of ever actually becoming president. They envision his candidacy as one that would shake up the race and get candidates to talk about issues they don’t normally talk about. Unfortunately, most of these stories contains an element that is very disturbing. They envision Sanders running as an independent, or as a third-party candidate. Too often, these stories include a phrase similar to “putting aside the Democratic Party,” and imagines the establishment of a viable third party.

    I’ve seen at least three stories this week. That means, with less than two weeks to go before an election Democrats have to win, prominent progressives are ignoring the 2014 election, which Democrats have to win. Even worse, they’re sowing the seeds for screwing up the 2016 election, as well.

    We really need to focus on understanding two basic concepts:

    1. We’re not getting anything progressive done as long as we have a Republican majority in Congress.

    2. There is no “putting aside the Democratic Party,” if we ever hope to gain a foothold in, and actually running the government.

    First of all, it’s a week and a half before an election that we have to win. And by “we” I mean the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is not an enemy of progressives. In fact, the vast majority of progressives are Democrats. Therefore, when a progressive uses a concept like “putting aside the Democratic Party,” these people, who are mostly white and have enough wealth to build a name for themselves, have placed themselves on a plane of existence above the vast majority of progressives, including union members, African-Americans, Latinos, immigrants, the poor and others. They are essentially pinning their hopes on a minority of a minority. In a democracy, they are doomed to a fate that is far less than even mediocrity by doing so. Unfortunately, they have such loud voices, they are dragging everyone else with them, by ensuring a Republican-dominated government.

    This is not about Bernie Sanders. I’d like to see Bernie Sanders run for president, even though he has no chance of winning. He would have to run as a Democrat. In the debates, he would be a welcome voice and would perhaps inject viewpoints that wouldn’t otherwise be there. He could make people think. Unfortunately, if he ran as an independent or representing a nascent “third-party,” he can only do damage.

    Do the people who fantasize about “putting aside the Democratic Party” remember what happened in 2000 and 2004? One of the worst presidential candidates in US history was able to steal two elections because these progressives essentially split the progressive vote. They also chose to run against Democrats instead of their natural political enemies in the right-wing-dominated Republican Party. There was nothing politically clever about the George W Bush campaign. The reason we ended up with the Bush disaster was because the same people who are now fantasizing about Bernie Sanders “putting aside the Democratic Party” and winning, did the same thing with Ralph Nader.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Luvvie’s Scandal Recap


    The Key: Scandal Episode 405 Recap

    Luvvie —October 25, 2014

    Let’s just get right into this episode of Scandal.

  5. sunshine616 says:

    Patriots only see white, real Americans see what’s right. Patriots only see “thugs”, real Americans see badges on thugs. Patriots only see their rights to bear arms, real Americans see guns taking their children from their loving arms. Real Americans want to help their fellow man, patriots want to send the weary back to their land. I just can’t.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Republicans ramp up minority outreach nationwide ahead of 2016

    By Wesley Lowery October 25 at 9:05 AM 

    CLEVELAND —It was an at-times tense but by all accounts probing conversation when a few hundred gathered here recently in a downtown warehouse space outfitted with projectors, folding chairs and a modest stage.

    The two-hour forum was not unlike the scores of conversations on race that have taken place in community forums, on barstools and across kitchen tables throughout the country in recent months and years, fueled by the election of the nation’s first black president and a renewed focus on policing of black communities in light of the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown shootings.

    Voices were raised, ovations were given, disagreements were hugged out. Few solutions were uncovered — but no one really expected them to be on this night.

    What made the recent event stand out from other public forums was that the dialogue was facilitated and organized entirely by Republicans.

    The gathering is part of efforts by the local GOP, in advance of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, to reach out to communities that have been reliable Democratic constituencies in modern years — black, Hispanic and LGBT voters. As part of those efforts, led by Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Rob Portman, the Ohio GOP has brought in a number of young minority political operatives and reached out to donors and operatives previously aligned with local Democrats. The Ohio efforts are part of a larger U.S. strategy led by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to actively court black voters who have rebuffed outreach efforts targeting them in election cycles past.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Blogger Kevin Drum of Mother Jones has been diagnosed with cancer. Send positive thoughts and prayers his way.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Sun-Times journalists petition the newspaper’s owners, asking for reassurance that they won’t seek to influence editorial content.
    By Lynne Marek October 24, 2014

    Chicago Sun-Times journalists, whose colleague Dave McKinney resigned this week, are asking the newspaper’s owners for reassurance that the latter won’t seek to influence editorial content.

    The request comes in a petition that’s posted on the reporters’ union website. It follows the exit of Mr. McKinney, the Springfield bureau chief, who questioned in his resignation letter whether the newsroom is insulated from owners’ interests.

    Mr. McKinney quit Oct. 22 after management pulled him from his beat after a story he co-wrote was unfavorable to Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner. Mr. Rauner is a former investor in the newspaper’s parent company, Chicago-based Wrapports LLC, which is led by Chairman Michael Ferro and CEO Tim Knight.


    “We are deeply troubled by the situation leading up to Dave McKinney’s resignation,” reads the petition, which is signed by “Chicago Sun-Times Newsroom and supporters.”

  9. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

    • yahtzeebutterfly says:

      Good Morning Rikyrah and Everyone.

      Emmett W. Chappelle was born on this day in 1925. From Wikipedia:

      Emmett W. Chappelle (born 25 October 1925) is a scientist who made valuable contributions in several fields: medicine, philanthropy, food science, and astrochemistry.

      From 1950 to 1955 he served as an instructor of biochemistry at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. From 1955 to 1959, he was a research associate at Stanford University.

      In 1958 Chappelle joined the Research Institute in Baltimore, a division of the Martin Marietta Corporation which was famous for designing airplanes and spacecraft. There, Chappelle discovered that even one-celled plants such as algae, which are lightweight and can be transported easily, can convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. This discovery helped to create a safe food supply for astronauts.

      Chappelle went to work at Hazelton Laboratories in 1963 as a biochemist. In 1966, he joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as a research chemist, and later became a remote sensing scientist, studying natural systems to improve environmental management. Chappelle retired from NASA in 2001.

      Some of Chappelle’s most interesting work was in the area of luminescence, which is light without heat. While designing instruments for the Mars Viking spacecraft, he became interested in bioluminescence, which is warm light produced by living organisms.

      Chappelle used two chemicals from fireflies which give off light when mixed with ATP (adenosine triphosphate), an energy storage compound found in all living cells. This could provide a method of detecting life on Mars.

      He also showed how satellites can monitor luminescence levels to monitor crops (growth rates, water conditions and harvest timing).

      Chappelle has been honored as one of the 100 most distinguished African American scientists of the 20th Century.

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