I hope that everyone is enjoying the last couple of days, the decision is not the final say in the matter of GLBT issues, but it is a damn big deal….There are a few states holding out, and refusing to grant licenses and perform marriages to same sex couples.
The hate filled rhetoric is strong in some areas, like here in Banjoville. Add to this tension, the anger over taking away these right-wing christian racist asshole flags of confederate heritage, with a dose of Obamacare is a-go from last week, and you got yourself a power keg waiting to explode. It is frightening, the hate I am seeing. These people mean business.
I think things are going to get worse, did you see this? Who’s burning black churches? Arsonists hit at least 3 Southern congregations in the last 7 days
ur black churches burned overnight this week, and at least three have been attributed to arson.
Last week’s shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel AME was perhaps the deadliest attackon a black church since the 1963 church bombing by the Klan in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four children. Since then, another specter from America’s violent racist history is again rearing its head – setting black churches ablaze.
At least three have been intentionally set on fire in recent days, according to a surveyof news reports compiled by the Daily Kos.
On Tuesday, God’s Power Church of Christ in Georgia was intentionally set on fire, authorities told ABC News. Electronics and other equipment were also stolen in early morning fire. Authorities told reporters there is “no evidence” of a hate crime.
On Wednesday, Briar Creek Baptist Church in North Carolina burned in the middle of the night, causing $250,000 in damage, NBC News reports. Authorities are investigating whether the blaze was a hate crime. It took 75 firefighters to bring it under control.
On Friday, Glover Grove Missionary Baptist Church in South Carolina, was virtually destroyed in an overnight blaze, the Aiken Standard reports. While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the FBI has been called in.
Another blaze on Friday morning in Florida at predominantly-black Greater Miracle Apostolic Holiness Church caused $700,000 in damage. The fire is under investigation but fire officials believe it to be accidental, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.
Burning black churches has historical significance that harkens back to the civil rights era, according to the Atlanta Black Star.
“From slavery and the days of Jim Crow through the civil rights movement and beyond, white supremacists have targeted the Black church because of its importance as a pillar of the Black community, the center for leadership and institution building, education, social and political development and organizing to fight oppression,” David Love writes.
The Ku Klux Klan has ramped up recruiting activity in the days since the Charleston shooting. Residents in California, Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Georgia woke last weekend to find bags in their lawns filled with candy and Klan flyers seeking new members.
Oh and they will find plenty of eager members.
One of the shadowy figures who appears to have influenced alleged Charleston killer Dylann Roof is Harold Covington, the founder of a white separatist movement and, within supremacist circles, an influential sci-fi author. Covington, the latest in a long line of rightwing sci-fi writers, has been linked to racist crimes in the past and this week called the massacre “a preview of coming attractions”.
The racist manifesto and photos apparently posted by Roof makes mention of the Northwest Front, created by Covington, a former member of the American Nazi party who traveled to South Africa and Rhodesia in order to agitate for white power. In the accompanying photos, Roof wore patches with Rhodesian and apartheid-era South African flags on them.
Covington, if you believe his website, runs a growing enclave of white supremacists near Seattle called the Northwest Front. The non-profit group is reflected in a series of sci-fi novels, authored by Covington, about a dystopian future in which a white nation is the only answer to US economic and racial woes.
Days after appearing on CNN and calling efforts to remove the Confederate battle flag from state grounds an act of “cultural genocide,” League of the South state chairman Pat Hines went on Alan Colmes‘ Fox News radio program and celebrated the 150-year-old assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Transcript of the exchange below, via:
COLMES: Now the League Of The South in April had an event celebrating the assassination of President Lincoln.
HINES: That’s right.
COLMES: You support that?
HINES: Yes I do.
HINES: He was the most murderous, treasonous President that ever existed.
COLMES: So you honor the actions of John Wilkes Booth?
HINES: John Wilkes Booth was a Confederate agent, who sadly, he didn’t fulfill his mission for almost 2 1/2 years. But he was assigned to kill Lincoln. And it’s too bad that he took as long as he did to do it.
COLMES: You’re upset that it took John Wilkes Booth as long as it did to kill Abraham Lincoln?
COLMES: Why would you favor the assassination of an American President?
HINES: Well he was an United States President. Well, he was Commander-in-Chief, which makes him a legitimate target immediately.
COLMES: Is any Commander-in-Chief a legitimate target?
HINES: Well they are.
But you know that this Council of Conservative Citizens has donated thousands to the campaigns of GOP politicians…‘Supremacist’ Earl Holt III and his donations to Republicans – The Washington Post
News came Monday that Holt had donated about $65,000 over the years to Republican campaign funds. He gave about $25,000 to Republican candidates in 2012 including former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) and Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Rand Paul (Ky.).
These people are giving the money away to charity, etc.:
Four presidential hopefuls are among 23 Republicans who have given up more than $36,000 in campaign contributions from the leader of a white nationalist group said to have influenced the Charleston church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum led a GOP group spanning Congress and statehouses who said they would donate to charity or return money from Earl Holt, following the publication of a Guardian article on Sunday.
Many other Republicans who took money from Holt declined to comment on the contributions. Josh Mandel, Ohio’s state treasurer, said he would not return $1,500 Holt gave to his failed 2012 US Senate campaign, as it had been spent. Mandel’s campaign still has almost $50,000 in the bank.
Holt, the president of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), has contributed more than $74,000 to Republican candidates and committees in recent years, according to public filings, while making dozens of racist statements online.
…the CCC has become the largest white-supremacist group in the nation, according to some observers. Members have donated thousands of dollars to politicians; some national politicians have joined, and dozens have spoken to CCC meetings, often regretting it later. On Monday, Republicans around the country hastened to give back cash they’d received from the CCC’s president, Earl Holt III. Yet despite its size, influence, and unabashed espousal of white separatism, the CCC seems to often go unnoticed, surfacing mostly at times of high racial tension.
The CCC is now, according to the SPLC, the nation’s largest white nationalist group and at its peak boasted 15,000 members. Though the CCC is sometimes described as “thinly veiled” white supremacists or the like, that’s misleading—it makes little secret of its agenda. (Nonetheless, Ann Coulter has previously stepped forward to defend the group from the white-supremacy attack.) In a statement of principles, the group says:
We believe that the United States derives from and is an integral part of European civilization and the European people …. We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called “affirmative action” and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.
New members also receive a pamphlet about Martin Luther King Day co-written by the late racist Senator Jesse Helms. The Anti-Defamation League collects other examples of ties to hate groups and extremists.
The group also maintains ties overseas; in 1998, according to the white supremacist site American Renaissance, a delegation from the group “had the pleasure of presenting Jean-Marie Le Pen with a Confederate flag that had flown over the South Carolina state capitol.” Le Pen founded France’s far-right National Front, but was recently suspended from the party by its current leader—his daughter—for remarks casting doubt on the Holocaust.
The CCC also prominently protested in 2000 when South Carolina lawmakers moved the Confederate battle flag from atop the statehouse—where it had flown since 1961—to a site elsewhere on the capitol grounds in Columbia.
And more cartoons for you.
Now for some other news links:
This is far disturbing to see:
Transit officers working for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority are under investigation after several of them were recorded by a cell phone pushing and shoving an African American man holding onto a baby for reportedly not paying his $2.25 fare.
According to WPVI, SEPTA officials say they are reviewing their policies and procedures after the video — recorded Thursday night — went viral, calling attention to the officer’s actions.
In the video, three transit police can be seen talking to the man as he stays seated in the car holding a very small child. After another officer arrives and handcuffs the man, he is escorted off the rail car and then can be seen being shoved against the wall with the baby still in his arms.
As bystanders attempt to intervene, more than a dozen officers descend upon the platform pushing the crowd back as one man yells , “He still has his daughter in his hands!” as the baby can be heard crying in the background.
Detroit police chasing a fleeing car decided it would be appropriate to continue the chase into a residential neighborhood. Due to their poor decision-making and inability to let a minor offense go, two small children died and three more were seriously injured.
On June 24, police were chasing what eyewitnesses believed to be a red Charger when they “tapped” the car on the rear bumper. That caused the red car to lose control, hitting and instantly killing Makiah Jackson, 3, and her six-year-old brother, Michaelangelo Jackson. Witness Alisha Jackson told the Voice Of Detroit:
“[The police] were right on their rear, the police car bumped their tail a little bit, and the car flew up in the air. There was no need for the police to be that close. I yelled ‘watch out!’ but it was too late. When the car hit them, both of them just looked at me. They screamed. It just keeps re-playing in my head. I ran down there, I yelled out their names, but they were gone. Makiah’s eyes were wide open, they died on impact.”
Police could have — SHOULD have — stopped right then. But even after this horrific scene, the chase continued onto another residential street. There, the red car crashed into a driveway, hitting three children. Darius Andrews, Jr., 3, Isaiah Williams, 5, and Zyaire Gardner, 7, were critically injured and a 22-year-old woman was also injured.
The car police were chasing was driven by a man who is on parole but neglected to report to his Parole Officer. Now, that’s certainly against the law and Lorenzo Harris should be held accountable. But to chase him into a residential neighborhood, where children are playing and families are out in their yards, is so irresponsible as to beggar belief. What the hell were they thinking? And to then continue to chase the car after two children were run down? Outrageous!
Detroit Police Chief James Craig must know that this is inexcusable because he is scrambling. He’s changed his story several times. First he said that the police in the car had suspended the chase after they “lost sight of the car.” Witnesses blew a hole in that lie. Then he said that a supervisor had ordered the chase to end. There is nothing documented to prove this. Then he said that Harris had a gun. Then he said he didn’t. The cops had “made eye contact” with Harris and a passenger and we all know that if a black man makes eye contact with a cop, that’s all she wrote. That cops will have compliance no matter what. Even if it kills small children.
What the hell….
More news stories:
Obama’s new pact provides legal rights to corporations that it does not extend to unions and public interest groups
Now that President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law has twice been upheld by the nation’s highest court, Georgia’s state and federal leaders are coming to the begrudging recognition that the legislation won’t be changed any time soon.
But the well-dug trenches remain unmoved: Most Democrats insist on a Medicaid expansion in the state as the only path forward. Most Republicans are determined to repeal the law.
Meanwhile, a small cadre of lawmakers hope that Georgia’s involvement in a controversial waiver program could provide a new, and less contentious, path forward to bring in more federal funding for health care.
In the wake of Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling to maintain health insurance tax credits in states such as Georgia that did not create their own exchanges, the political and policy status quo remained unmoved.
Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston both signaled they don’t intend to step into what they see as a federal matter, and they called on Congress to give states more flexibility to use federal funding.
On the issue of Reproductive Rights:
There’s a little Easter egg in Friday’s marriage equality ruling that could have major repercussions for reproductive rights activists — if and when the Supreme Court takes up the issue of abortion again.
In his opinion for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy references the interplay of “personal choice” as it relates to same-sex marriage. But, in doing so, he also acknowledges the way individual autonomy relates to other life decisions, such as the right to use contraception or have a baby:
A first premise of the Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy. …Like choices concerning contraception, family relationships, procreation, and childrearing, all of which are protected by the Constitution, decisions concerning marriage are among the most intimate that an individual can make.
Let’s string some things together here: “choices concerning contraception…procreation, and childrearing…are protected by the Constitution.” It’s a single line, but it’s no throwaway — especially not in a SCOTUS decision that affirms equal access to happiness and control over one’s own life. It could set a precedent that’s invaluable to the fight to secure reproductive rights once and for all.
Oh if this could only be a good sign!
Check that link out…
The group, Women on Waves, flew the aircraft from Germany to highlight Poland’s restrictive laws against terminating pregnancies.
Waiting for the drone on the other side were two Polish women who took the pills, used to induce a miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy.
Abortion was legal in Poland in the Communist era, but outlawed in most cases in 1993.
It is only permitted in cases of rape or incest, in cases of irreversible foetal malformation, or if the mother’s life is at risk.
On the interest of the mob:
And other newsy stories:
Over 150,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced in the region of Mindanao during the armed rebellion that has shaken up southern Philippines for over four decades.
But there is more to Mindanao than war. Weaving, a centuries-old tradition, has become a refuge for some women in the conflict-ridden community. Weaving has helped these women to heal their wounds as they say that the stories of their land are revealed in their patterns.
But challenges are making it more difficult for these women to continue their work. The skills are not being passed on to the younger generation, and women often lack the financial capacity to continue.
A three-metre long mat takes at least two months to make. The patterns are created individually, no pattern is the same. Made from pineapple and abaca fabrics, they are dyed using tree bark and herbal extracts.
Eugene Strong, from the department of Agriculture, told Al Jazeera that “materials are expensive, there are only a few weavers left, and there are only a few buyers as well”.
“For example, here in Basilan, the fabrics are expensive, so not a lot of people buy. We are now looking at where to market it and luckily we have people who help us in the industry.”
Asdinan Baladji is a weaver who, despite the economic challenges, is teaching her daughter Myazare how to weave. “Life is not great but between household chores and a small income I am happy. We do the best we can.”
Video at the link.
The best link for last:
Considering that they’re known for crawling through the sprawling subterranean networks of the world, it should come as no surprise that rats actually dream about the places they want to go.
That’s according to researchers from University College London – who claimed that when the rodents are shown an inaccessible food treat, they’re likely to dream about how they can get it when they nod off to sleep.
Or as lead researcher Hugo Spiers put it: ‘It’s like looking at a holiday brochure for Greece the day before you go – that night you might dream about the pictures.’
Rats, like humans, have dreams about the future.
When they see a treat they can’t reach, rats’ later dreams depict them walking toward it, researchers have found. The discovery may one day provide some insight into what happens in the human mind during sleep.
Maps in the Brain
Scientists already knew that after a rat has explored an area, certain neurons in the hippocampus called “place cells” replay those patterns while the rat sleeps.
“Place cells” in both rats and humans help us store memories about location and form mental maps. When you’re in one spot, a set of place cells fires; when you move to another spot, a different set of place cells fire to mark the new location. If scientists can record the activity of specific brain cells, then, they can spy on how the mind maps new places. So far, that kind of recording requires implanting tiny electrodes on very thin wires into the brain, which can’t be done with human subjects for ethical reasons, but it’s possible with rats.
This is how the scientist found out:
First, researchers let rats explore a T-shaped track. The rats could run along the center of the T, but the arms were blocked by clear barriers. While the rats watched, researchers put food at the end of one arm. The rats could see the food and the route to it, but they couldn’t get there.
Then, when the rats were curled up in their cages afterwards, scientists measured their neuron firing. Their brain activity seemed to show them imagining a route through a place they hadn’t explored before. To confirm this, researchers then put the rats back into the maze, but this time without the barriers. As they explored the arm where they had previously seen the food, the rats’ place cells fired in the same pattern as they had during sleep.
This mental mapping process made up about 8 percent of the rats’ brain activity during sleep. That may not sound like much, but neuroscientist Hugo Spiers, a co-author on the study published in eLife, says it’s a significant amount of activity for the brain to devote to a single task during rest.
That is something to think about.
The rats’ activity may shed some light on what goes on in the human mind during sleep. Sleeping does seem to improve human performance on memory tasks – a finding which has been used to argue against all-night study sessions. And desire is also a crucial part of that process for people. “People are much better at doing the stuff that they’ll make more money on after they’ve slept,” said Spiers. “Something about sleep is using that desire information: that you do want to do better.”
Rats will also become cannibalistic, sort of like humans will…in a figurative sense.
Sorry this is so damn late….think of it as an open thread.
This is going to be sort of a cross between a morning reads post and a rant.
Yesterday, Dakinikat and I were talking about how lately it seems like it’s hard to find things to blog about because there’s nothing really new happening in the political world. Sure, there’s news coming out of DC, but it’s pretty much the same thing every day. The Republicans hate President Obama and continue to do their best to block everything he tries to do. Obama sort of sounds like a liberal at times, but he’s still offering that “grand bargain” to the Republicans who hate his guts and still letting down the voters who elected him in the process.
Republicans pretend to obsess over the federal deficit and debt and economic writers like Paul Krugman and Robert Reich repeatedly try to explain that the problem with our economy right now isn’t the deficit or the debt, but the high unemployment and stagnating wages that keep the lower 99 percent of us from spending our money as freely as we’d like.
As I looked around for Thursday reads last night, I began to feel as if I’d entered a surreal alternative reality–almost as if I had awakened to find myself in a Salvador Dali painting in which everything seems crazy and nothing ever changes. The only breaks from the tedium of the Village come when there’s news of another shooting and the media covers it for a few days–like the recent obsession with ex-cop “Rambo” Christopher Dorner.
Now that Dorner has gone down, there’s another high-profile shooting for the media to focus on. USA Today reports: Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius charged with murder.
South African police on Thursday said they would charge Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius with murder after his girlfriend was shot and killed at his home earlier Thursday morning.
The circumstances of the incident are still unclear but police in South Africa said they would oppose bail when the Paralympic gold medalist appears in court Friday. The hearing was scheduled for Thursday afternoon but was delayed to give forensics investigators time to do their work, the Associated Press reported.
Police in South Africa do not name suspects in crimes until they have appeared in court but police spokesperson Brigadier Denise Beukes said that Pistorius was at his home after the death of the victim and that “there is no other suspect involved,” The Associated Press reported.
Britain’s Sky News first named the woman as Reeva Steenkamp, a model and recent contestant on Tropika Island of Treasure 5, a South African reality TV show. A talent agent for Steenkamp said she was the victim. However, police have yet to confirm the woman’s relationship with the Olympic and Paralympic athlete.
Meanwhile, as the Villagers ignore the need for gun safety legislation and argue about the deficit and the supposed out-of-control government spending that isn’t actually happening, the rich get richer and the lower 99 percent get screwed. Case in point, please read this piece in The New Republic by Timothy Noah that the Villagers will either ignore or mock: The One Percent Gobbled Up the Recovery, Too. In fact, it put the 99 percent back in recession.
Emmanuel Saez, the Berkeley economist who (with Thomas Piketty, an economist at the École d’economie de Paris) first mapped the enormous 34-year run-up in income share for America’s top 1 percent, came up last year with a statistic that was widely quoted by people who care about rising income inequality. In 2010, the first year of economic recovery after the 2009-2010 recession, 93 percent of all pre-tax income gains went to the top 1 percent, which in that year meant any household making more than about $358,000. This was, I quipped at the time, a members-only recovery. No 99-percenters need apply.
Saez has now updated (PDF) this statistic to include 2011. When you look at the economic recovery’s first two years, the top one percent (which by 2011 meant any household making more than about $367,000) captured 121 percent of all pre-tax income gains.
How is it even possible for the one percent to capture more than 100 percent of all income gains since the last recession? Looked at from one point of view, it’s not. It is enough to say that in 2010 and 2011 all of the recovery went to the one percent. If you were in the bottom 99 percent, as by definition nearly all of us are, you didn’t see a dime of that recovery.
What happened to the rest of us then?
Over 2010 and 2011, it saw, on average, a slight net decline in pre-tax income of 0.4 percent. This “negative growth” is what, at least theoretically, boosts the one percent’s share of income gains from 100 percent to 121 percent. If you think of income distribution as a Pac-Man game, with the one percent as Pac-Man, imagine your Pac-Man consuming all the pac-dots in one game and then somehow, after you’ve left the arcade, gobbling up some of the pac-dots in the next player’s game too. Another way to put it is that the one percent didn’t just gobble up all of the recovery during 2010 and 2011; it put the 99 percent back into recession.
Sadly, airhead talking heads like Joe Scarborough will continue to have much more influence in the Village than actual economists like Emmanuel Saez and real reporters like Timothy Noah.
Speaking of airheads, after the SOTU speech on Tuesday night we had the pleasure of watching baby-faced Florida Senator Marco Rubio make a complete ass out of himself on the TeeVee. Hullabaloo blogger David Atkins, who–unlike Rubio–is somewhat knowledgeable about economics, tried to explain to the the latest “great Republican hope” (before his speech) that not only do deficits not cause unemployment, but also our federal deficit is steadily decreasing. Of course no reader of Dakinikat’s posts needs any of this explained. But I still want to link to Atkins’ concluding paragraphs.
Why is the deficit shrinking? Mostly, because of the pickup in economic activity. The elimination of some of the tax cuts for the wealthy will also help. The Affordable Care Act will also be taking a bite out of our extravagant healthcare costs.
4. None of this has any impact on unemployment. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of jobs: public sector and private sector. Even though the private sector is doing better, public sector jobs are still declining due to conservative policies theoretically designed to reduce deficits. Private sector jobs, meanwhile, depend on consumer demand–not corporate profit. American corporations are experiencing record profits, but they aren’t hiring because there’s not enough middle-class consumer demand for them to hire workers.
4a. The lack of consumer demand leading to poor private-sector job growth in spite of record profits has nothing to do with deficits or uncertainty in the investing climate. It has everything to do with income inequality and economic insecurity among the middle and lower classes.
4b. The obsession over deficits among conservative politicians is directly responsible for public sector job cuts that are helping to drive up the unemployment rate and kill consumer demand.
All of which means that politicians like Marco Rubio who insist that the deficit is directly hurting employment are either so ignorant of economics that they shouldn’t be handling public policy, or so cynically manipulative that they shouldn’t be handling public policy.
And no “reporter” in Washington or elsewhere should be covering Rubio’s statements without providing a basic lesson in macroeconomics as context for his fact-free response.
idiots “reporters” like Chris Cillizza pretty much ignored whatever substance there was in Rubio’s speech and approvingly reported on the personal history that Rubio discussed. But beforehand, Cillizza wrote that Obama should focus on deficit in State of the Union
It’s the deficit, stupid. A look back at Obama’s first three State of the Union speeches, plus the address to a joint session of Congress in 2009, suggests a similar thematic pattern: He starts with the economy, moves to education and then, in the middle section of the speech, addresses the deficit. (The exception was in 2011, when Obama began his speech with a riff on partisanship.) In 2012, Obama spent just five minutes on the debt — less time than he spent on partisanship (51/2 minutes) or foreign policy (six minutes).
He should flip that script in this State of the Union and spend the bulk of his time talking about the deficit. Here’s why: In January 2009 polling by Pew Research Center, 53 percent of respondents said reducing the deficit was a “top priority.” In January 2013, that number soared to 72 percent, by far the biggest increase of any issue over that time. (By contrast, 85 percent said strengthening the economy was a top priority in 2009, while 86 percent said so at the start of this year.)
The debt is the issue of the day, and one that, if Obama is beginning to eye his legacy as president, could go a long way toward shaping how history remembers him. Make this speech a deficit speech.
For Cillizza and his ilk, “the deficit” (or “the debt,” which he doesn’t seem to understand is not the same thing) is “the issue of the day,” and unemployment and the other struggles of the 99 percent are completely invisible. Oh, and by the way, Dick Cheney loved Rubio’s speech.
I could go on and on like this, but I’ll stop now. I just wanted to rant for a bit in hopes of pulling myself out of my current malaise. I’ve realized finally that there isn’t going to be any real change as because the Villagers (often including the President) are just going to continue focusing on cutting spending and ignoring the problems facing those of us who live in the real world.
If you stayed with me this far, thanks for letting me rant! Now, I welcome your links to whatever you are reading and blogging about today.
Good Morning and Happy New Year!!!
Sorry to be late with this post. I got so discouraged last night with our dysfunctional government that I went to bed completely disgusted. After a good night’s sleep, I’m feeling slightly more optimistic, if not truly hopeful. If I have any hope, it’s that perhaps the American people will rise up and let the president and Congress know what a horrible job they are doing.
So, what’s happening this morning? We officially went over the fiscal cliff at midnight even though the Senate approved a half-baked, crappy “deal.” Politico reports:
Congress lost a mad, New Year’s Eve dash to beat the fiscal cliff deadline, cinching a deal with President Barack Obama to raise taxes on the wealthy and temporarily freeze deep spending cuts but failing to get it through both chambers before midnight.
So over the cliff the country went — though perhaps for only a day or two and, assuming no snags, without incurring the double whammy of another recession and higher unemployment.
The measure, which would raise tax rates for families making more than $450,000 and delay deep across-the-board spending cuts for two months, cleared the Senate by an overwhelming 89-8 vote shortly after 2 a.m. The Republican-controlled House could take up the pact in a rare New Year’s Day session, though the timing of that chamber’s vote was not clear.
The $620 billion agreement was a major breakthrough in a partisan standoff that has dragged on for months, spooking Wall Street and threatening to hobble the economic recovery. It turned back the GOP’s two-decade-long refusal to raise tax rates, delivering a major win for the president.
The bill also canceled pay raises for members of Congress and averted an expected hike in the price of milk by extending expiring dairy policy.
Wow, they cancelled their own pay raises? That was big of them–not. They probably did that out of fear of an angry populace. And of course, we still have to watch the shameful spectacle of the tea party House wrangling over a deal that basically give them everything they wanted and more than they ever dreamed of.
From TPM, the Senators who voted against the deal:
The eight senators voting no were Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Carper (D-DE), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Richard Shelby (R-AL).
Robert Reich calls it “A Lousy Deal on the Edge of the Fiscal Cliff.” I’m thinking that could be the new logo for this administration–“The Lousy Deal” as opposed to Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” Reich writes:
Details of the agreement reached by the president and congressional Republicans are still forthcoming, but from the look of it, Obama gave ground where he need not have.
What else is new?
Yes, the deal finally gets Republicans to accept a tax increase on the wealthy, but this is an inside-the-Beltway symbolic victory. If anyone believes this will make the GOP more amenable to future tax increases, they don’t know how rabidly extremist the GOP has become.
The deal also extends unemployment insurance for more than 2 million long-term unemployed. That’s important.
But I can’t help believe the president could have done better than this. After all, public opinion is overwhelmingly on his side. Republicans would have been blamed had no deal been achieved.
More importantly, the fiscal cliff is on the president’s side as well. If we go over it, he and the Democrats in the next Congress that starts later this week can quickly offer legislation that grants a middle-class tax cut and restores most military spending. Even rabid Republicans would be hard-pressed not to sign on.
I hate to say it, but it really looks like Obama pushed for this so he could give more away that he would have had to if we had just gone over the cliff without all the fake deal making.
Noam Scheiber writes at The New Republic: Democrats’ Cliff Compromise Is Bad; But the Strategic Consequences Are Disastrous.
I think the president made a huge mistake by negotiating over what he’d previously said was non-negotiable (namely, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts on income over $250,000). Then the White House compounded that mistake by sending Biden to “close” the deal when Harry Reid appeared to give up on it. As a practical matter, this signaled to Republicans that the White House wouldn’t walk away from the bargaining table, allowing the GOP to keep extracting concessions into the absolute final hours before the deadline….
I think a reasonable person can defend the bill on its own terms. The fact is that nudging up the tax threshold to $450,000 only sacrifices $100-200 billion in revenue over the next decade (against the $700-800 billion the administration would have secured with its original threshold), while allowing unemployment benefits to lapse would cause real pain to both the 2 million people directly affected and, indirectly, to the economy. Yes, Obama could have gotten the latter without giving up the former had he just waited another few days—at which point what the GOP considers a tax increase suddenly becomes a tax cut. But these things are always easier to pull the trigger on when you, er, don’t actually have to pull the trigger. I can’t begrudge Obama his wanting to avoid some downside risk for only a marginally better deal.
My far bigger gripe with the whole fiscal-cliff exercise has always been the strategic dimension—how it affects the next showdown with the GOP, and the one after that. Coming into the negotiation, Obama had two big problems: First, no matter how tough he talked, Republicans always assumed he’d blink in the end, for the simple reason that he pretty much always had. (This is one of the major themes of my book about his first term.) Second, despite the results of the most recent election, in which Obama won a fairly commanding victory on a platform of raising taxes on wealthy people, the GOP continued to believe that public opinion was mostly on its side. House Republicans cited the preservation of their majority—never mind that their own candidates received fewer total votes than House Democratic candidates—and polls showing most Americans still think government is too big.
No kidding. And I disagree that we shouldn’t begrudge Obama for not sticking to his promise to hold the line at $250,000. As I’ve written previously, Obama should not be involved in negotiations, because he either wants to lose to the Republicans or his need to please the people who hate him is just too strong. I don’t know which is the real problem, and it really doesn’t matter for practical purposes. He’s just a horrible negotiator, period. Now we have to watch another repulsive display of childish squabbling in a couple of months. Is this going to be the extent of what happens in Obama’s second term? With this incompetent, useless Congress, it’s entirely possible.
And of course we still have to wait and see what Boehner and his gang do.
In a joint statement late Monday, House GOP leaders promised to keep their commitment to act on the measure if it passes the Senate. But they say they won’t decide whether to accept the measure or to amend it and send it back to the Senate until lawmakers and their constituents have a chance to review the legislation.
Give me a frickin’ break! I’m going to end here, because there doesn’t seem to be much other news. What are you reading today. I look forward to clicking on your links.
Whatever else happens, I hope everyone has a great day today and a very happy new year in spite of the idiocy in Washington DC!!
I just got home and noticed that President Obama has just started his post election press conference. He began by talking about extending the middle class tax cuts and letting the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% expire.
Now he’s opened it up for questions. I’ll update in the comments.
MSNBC is reporting that although every network has called Ohio for Obama, the Romney campaign refuses to concede that they have lost Ohio. Chris Matthews just said that Donald Trump is calling for revolution. I hate to think about the craziness we are going to see from Republicans in the days ahead. But thank goodness the danger of a Romney presidency is over.
Here’s a fresh thread to discuss what’s happening.
Here’s a fresh thread while we wait for any bits of exit poll results to be leaked. Let us know if you’ve heard any!
I’ve got a few entertaining links for you in case you’re looking for something to read while obsessively waiting for the polls to close in Florida and Virginia (7PM Eastern).
Can you believe Mitt Romney is charging reporters who want to be inside his campaign headquarters tonight when the returns come in?
BOSTON — The campaign of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney appears to be setting a precedent this election year in charging journalists and news organizations for any access to a presidential campaign headquarters on the night of the election.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is locked in a tight race with Democratic President Barack Obama, will be holding his election night gathering at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, where access costs anywhere from $75 for a chair in the ballroom to $1,020 for permission to use the media filing center. Broadcast news organizations will be paying up to $6,500 for workspace.
Obama’s campaign party will be held at McCormick Place, in Chicago, and although his campaign is charging for premiums, credentialed reporters are granted access, which includes a workstation, electrical power and a wireless Internet connection, at no cost.
Romney is ending his historically awful campaign as gracelessly as he ran it for the past year.
But Romney’s money men will be treated like kings tonight.
BOSTON, MASS. —Mitt Romney isn’t going to forget the folks who picked up the tab for his billion-dollar run for the White House tonight.
Roughly 2,000 mega donors and bundlers are flocking to Beantown on Election Day for one last get together —which includes some special perks — according to a source on the ground familiar with the finance teams efforts.
Some of Romney’s biggest supporters, including New York Jets owner Woody Johnson; Texan mega donors L.E. Simmons and Ray Washburn; Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute; Bobbie Kilberg, head of the Northern Virginia Technology Council; among others are expected to attend. Nevada gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson may also make an appearance, according to the source….
The festivities kick off with a dinner for the Romney Victory Council at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, just a few short steps from the convention center where Romney’s slated to speak later in the evening. The group, dubbed informally as the “Council of 100,”are those that have raised significant amounts of money and includes many of Romney’s state chair network.
Unlike the press, the mega donors will watch the festivities in style.
Following the dinner, the finance team has organized two massive rooms in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for election night watch parties, one for the victory council and another for the national finance committee members. The finance committee room will include the campaign’s high-end donors of the founding members and partners as well as the bundlers that hit their marks in the“Stars” and “Stripes” programs.
May they all end up crying in their champagne.
Even though Romney will lose badly in Massachusetts, voters are flocking to the polls for the Senate race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown.
Lines crawled down hallways of schools, outside firehouses and community centers around Cambridge, Somerville and Braintree just outside Boston.
At the end of the most expensive senate race in Massachusetts history, voters cast their choice as one for the decidedly progressive politics of Warren or the sense of moderation they felt that Brown–who shocked the nation when he won Kennedy’s seat in 2009–had brought to the Senate.
A few more links:
Emptywheel has an interesting post about her day working in “voter protection” at an African American district in Michigan: On the Ground Turnout in MI Feels Like It Did in 2008
At another Michigan polling place: Southfield Twp. voter appears to die, then asks ‘Did I vote?’
The Cleveland Leader reports that Sherrod Brown’s opponent, Josh Mandel got a surprise from some family members yesterday: Josh Mandel’s In-Laws Call Him Out on Anti-Gay Stance in Newspaper Ad
In Franklin County, Ohio Tea Party “observers” from “True the Vote” were “barred from Franklin County polling places.”
What are you hearing in your neck of the woods?
It’s still hard for me to believe that adult women in the US could not vote less than 100 years ago. This is something to think about as we approach election day tomorrow. I can’t remember when an election was this important for women. There are many women running for office while women’s rights have been under continual assault for two years now. This is the first time in years–make that decades–that we’ve had one presidential candidate that refuses to go on record about equal pay for equal work and the Lily Ledbetter Act. The choices couldn’t be clearer.
This issue is over 100 years old. Belva Ann Lockwood ran for president in 1884 and 1889 as the candidate of the National Equal Rights Party. She had to petition to become the first woman to appear before the Supreme court in 1879. All of this was decades before women could even vote. She was also a victim of systemic voter fraud.
It’s seems hard to believe that after so many years of fighting to get this far we have to fight candidate-after-candidate running for the Republican Party to stop the assault on the rights of women and the rights of minorities in this country. This is what you get when religious fundamentalists are allowed to ramrod their beliefs in to law. Religious fundamentalism is a threat to democracy all over the world. The only way to secure the blessings of liberty for all of us is to vote them out and keep them out. Theocracy Watch has an excellent history of how the Religious Right took over the Republican Party. There are a lot of good reads there if you’d like to see exactly how it happened.
Here’s one dangerous state amendment in Florida which is billed as a “religious” freedom mandate but is really a way for churches to get their hands on state money and to project their values on every level of government. Florida’s Amendment 8 will likely show up in a state near year if it hasn’t already. It mandates taxpayer support of religious institutions.
“Under Amendment 8,” observed Shapiro, “religious groups would have not only the right to seek taxpayer funding but the power to demand it in certain cases. Religious schools and other ministries of any and all religions could tap the public purse – my tax dollars and yours – and use those funds to promote their faith.”
He added, “Don’t buy the line that Amendment 8 is about protecting ‘faith-based’ social services. Those programs are in no danger. Religious groups in Florida can get tax funds to provide services to those in need – so long as they don’t use public funds to preach or proselytize.”
Shapiro opined that Amendment 8’s supporters also want to gain a foothold for school vouchers in the state. Currently, two provisions of the Florida Constitution have been interpreted to ban voucher subsidies for religious schools. If Amendment 8 passes, one of them will be removed.
Said Shapiro, “Some politicians are trying to use ‘religious freedom,’ which most Floridians fully support, as a cover for their agenda. They’d like to force all of us to subsidize various religions, whether we believe in those faiths or not. They want to give religious institutions special privileges.”
Minnesota is voting on Same-Sex Marriage on Tuesday. An amendment to the state’s constitution will ban same sex marriage in that state if passed.
For most gay Minnesotans, particularly those who would like to marry longtime partners, passage of the constitutional amendment would put that dream further out of reach. Defeat of the measure would by a welcome but largely symbolic victory for gay couples because the state’s current gay marriage ban would still be in effect, denying same-sex couples who consider themselves married in all but name the same protections and privileges as legally married couples.
That means worrying about things like being denied hospital visits to an ailing partner; being unable to honor a loved one’s wishes after death; or being excluded from parenting rights in cases where an unmarried person adopts the child of a partner. Gay rights supporters say those are just a few of the legal privileges they are denied or may have to fight to assert because of their inability to marry.
During the long campaign over the constitutional amendment, the group working to pass it has stressed that it’s not trying to hurt gay couples. “Everybody has a right to love who they choose,” says the narrator in a commercial from Minnesota for Marriage, a coalition of religious and socially conservative organizations.
The group contends that male-female marriage is a centuries-old societal building block that benefits children, and that redefining it in law could lead to intrusions on religious liberty and the right of parents to control influences on their children.
Further information on other state ballot initiatives can be found at this link. California is voting on labeling of Genetically modified food. Arizona has an initiative that tries to block federal access to state natural resources. It’s important to read up on what might show up on your ballot given ALEC and the republican party’s need to decimate local governments, economies, and lives. Oregon and several states have marijuana initiatives. Most states have ballot initiatives that impact natural resources and wildlife.
For many folks, the issue is going to be access to their right to vote. Just think, Constitutional Amendments and the Voting Rights Act have secured our right to vote. Many states are trying to suppress the popular vote among the elderly, women, and minorities. Stories of rampant voter suppression are coming from all over the country. The one thing I always bring to the polls with me is banned now in New Mexico.
From New Mexico, Community Journalist George Lujan writes in that the Secretary of State has banned the League of Women Voters’ voting guide at early voting locations. The League’s guide is nonpartisan, and has been used to educate voters for years. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the guide, on the pretext that it amounts to electioneering, is now banned.
George also writes in that voters received deceptive phone calls informing them that early voting had ended in Doña Ana County, despite the fact that early voting continues.
Follow that link above to the Nation to get a state by state account of state-level incidents that are either supported by Republican groups or Republican elected officials. Here’s the latest offense. Many polls in Florida have been closed early or shut down due to bomb threats. It seems ONE southern Florida County will have its election times extended and it’s a GOP stronghold.
Last night, voters in Miami-Dade County were forced to wait in line up to six hours to vote. In some precincts voters who arrived at 7PM were not able to cast their ballots until 1AM.
In response, Republican-affiliated election officials in Miami-Dade have effectively extended early voting from 1PM to 5PM today by allowing “in-person” absentee voting. But this accommodation will only be available in a single location in the most Republican area of the county.
Nearly every city within 5 to 10 miles of this location — including Hialeah, Miami Springs, Sweetwater and Miami Lakes — has a substantial Republican voter registration advantage.
The most populous city among those is Hialeah where Republicans, powered by a large Cuban community, have an overwhelming registration advantage of nearly 20,000 voters. There will not be an opportunity for in-person absentee voting in downtown Miami or South Dade, where there are heavy concentrations of Democratic voters.
The decision to make the accommodation available was presumably made by Miami-Dade Election Supervisor Penelope Townsley. She is registered with no party affiliation but was appointed to her position by Republican Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Mayor Gimenez did not request Gov. Rick Scott extend early voting throughout Miami-Dade county. Further, according to Jim DeFede, an investigative reporter for CBS News in Miami, the decision to have in-person absentee balloting was made last night but not announced publicly until 9:30AM this morning.
As the election season draws to a close, we’re beginning to see desperate campaigns do desperate things. Romney continues to harp on the President as an angry black man seeking revenge. Romney has the misguided notion that he some how is entitle to do and say what ever he wants to on the way to his anointment. That Romney sense of entitlement has never ceased to shock me. Romney twists other’ people’s words worse than his own.
In the final stretch of the campaign, suddenly there is a new storyline, with Mitt Romney harshly criticizing President Obama for telling a crowd of supporters that voting would be their “best revenge.” It all began when a crowd in Springfield, Ohio responded to Obama’s mention of Romney and Republicans by booing. The president tried to quieten them down, essentially saying their jeers were pointless. “No, no, no—don’t boo, vote! Vote! Voting is the best revenge.” (Video after the jump.) Romney seized on the remark: “Let me tell you what I’d like to tell you: Vote for love of country,” he told a crowd of supporters. He also released an ad about the remarks (watch after the jump). The message? As the conservative site Daily Caller succinctly puts it: “Romney is finishing his 2012 race by calling for love, change and hope, while President Barack Obama’s deputies are struggling to explain his call for ‘revenge.’”
It was an adlibbed line that for conservatives insist highlighted the worst of the president. “He really does think that opposing him is somehow dirty pool, and that ‘revenge’ is the appropriate treatment for those who fail to bow to the mighty Barack,” writes John Hinderaker in Power Line. Yet for others, the way in which the Romney camp rushed to seize on what was obviously a play on the familiar saying “living well is the best revenge” is “one last sustained expression of that contempt for the electorate” Romney has displayed in the past, writes the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent. In the Atlantic, James Fallows wonders whether it’s even “conceivable that [Romney] actually believes Obama was talking about revenge-voting as if it were basically like ‘revenge sex?’”
Obama was merely encouraging people to go to the polls, yet Romney somehow twisted the words, even if he left a basic question unanswered: Revenge for what? “Suddenly, we are in the rhetorical space of class warfare,” points out The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson. Although talking of revenge may be a new twist, it’s merely another way in which Romney has accused those who oppose him of resenting his success.
Meanwhile, poll-after-poll shows a gender gap, a Hispanic Gap, a black gap, and an age gap in voting patterns. It’s hard not to notice that every one recognizes what’s at stake. The Romney way-back machine takes most of us back to places that most of us fought to get out of. Be sure to hang on as we live blog the returns tomorrow and the latest in voter suppression efforts today. This pretty well sums up the Romney future for all of us: Romney staff refusing to let frostbitten children leave PA rally.
No, it’s quite credible. This is a group of people that wants complete control of what goes on in every American Woman’s Uterus. This is a group that will say anything–including scaring workers about their jobs–to score political points. This is a group that sends its VP candidate to re-rinse clean pots over the protests of charity owners and pays for a few boxes of canned goods over the requests of the Red Cross just to provide photo ops. This one man’s sense of entitlement and republican ideology will always leave all of us frostbitten in the cold. Just VOTE for any one but a Republican this election. It is important. I don’t want to see us all out there on the melting ice floes with endangered polar bears.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?