Evangelical Leaders Agree to Back Santorum

Yesterday around 150 evangelical leaders met at a Texas ranch to discuss a last ditch effort to deny Mitt Romney the Republican presidential nomination. In the end, a large majority agreed to support Rick Santorum, although they stopped short of asking other candidates to drop out. In anticipation of the meeting, Peter Wallsten and Karen Tumulty wrote in the Washington Post:

A near-panic has taken hold among some core conservative activists, who are now scrambling to devise a strategy to deny Mitt Romney the Republican presidential nomination….

Many of these activists see South Carolina’s primary on Jan. 21 as their last best hope of stopping Romney by consolidating in a united front against him. But many acknowledge that they have yet to figure out which of the remaining conservative rivals to rally behind and which should get out.

The Romney conundrum will be on the agenda Friday when about 150 evangelical leaders huddle at a Texas ranch to debate their next move. Likewise, the subject of consolidating conservative opposition to the former Massachusetts governor is expected to be a major point of discussion among about 500 attendees at a tea party convention set for this weekend in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where the list of speakers includes two Romney rivals seeking the conservative mantle, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

According to the Christian Broadcasting Network:

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council says conservatives are looking for a candidate who will repeal the nation’s health care law, fight for pro family values and address the national debt….

Expect conservative groups to start individually motivating their constituents to work for Santorum. Also look for more money and resources to start pouring into Santorum’s campaign. No question about it, this is excellent news for Santorum’s camp and a major blow to the Gingrich and Perry camps.

The LA Times has more from Perkins, who must be the ringleader of this uprising.

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, said the decision was reached after three rounds of balloting, with Santorum winning 85 votes in the final round, to Newt Gingrich’s 29. Texas Gov. Rick Perry had strong support at the beginning of the process, but was eliminated after the first round of balloting, Perkins said.

“The focus here was on people putting aside their preferences, putting aside the candidate they had signed up with, trying to reach a consensus,” Perkins said.

“Rick Santorum has consistently articulated the issues that are of concern to conservatives, both the economic and the social, and has woven those into a very solid platform,” Perkins said. “And he has a record of stability…He’s reliable.”

As I see it, they’ve chosen the candidate least likely to appeal to general election voters. I can’t imagine Santorum winning the nomination. I guess the real question is how many of these evangelicals will come around to voting for Romney in the end and how many of them will sit stay home on election day.


Open Thread: Stephen Colbert Enters Race for Republican Nomination

Reuters:

The Comedy Central funny man announced his intention to run for president of the “United States of America of South Carolina” at the taping of his show Thursday night and will try to compete in South Carolina’s GOP primary Jan. 21.

“I’m proud to announce I plan to form an exploratory committee to lay the groundwork for my candidacy,” Colbert said….

While Colbert won’t actually compete for the GOP nomination in the general election, this may give Republicans another option beyond Mitt Romney in a pivotal state. Every Republican presidential candidate since 1980 has won South Carolina’s primary.

“Clearly my fellow South Caroliniacs see me as the only Mitternative,” Colbert said.

The decision followed the news that Colbert is polling higher than Jon Huntsman in South Carolina–at 5%.

On tonight’s Daily Show, Colbert transferred control of his super PAC to Jon Stewart, since candidates aren’t permitted to have super PAC’s

If only he could participate in the debates!


SDB Evening News Reads 010512: Insane? Is it just a state of mind?

Good Evening!

The have caught a suspect in Florida in connection with the abortion clinic that burned down in an arson fire last week. Florida – Man Held After Fire at Abortion Clinic

The authorities arrested a man on Thursday on federal charges of setting a fire on Sunday that gutted a Pensacola abortion clinic that has faced violence in the past. Bobby Joe Rogers, 41, of was being held at the Escambia County Jail, the authorities said. Investigators said tips from the community led to the arrest. In an affidavit, prosecutors said he told investigators that he made a fire bomb and threw it at the clinic early Sunday. Mr. Rogers said he was pushed to action after he saw a young woman enter the clinic for an abortion while he was standing outside the clinic with a group of protesters recently, it said. The same clinic was bombed on Christmas Day in 1984, and in 1994 a doctor and a volunteer were shot to death as they arrived.

Makes me think of the last episode of the new Beavis and Butt-Head series… Whorehouse / Going Down

Oh, just seeing these “whores…fornicators” walking into a clinic “pushed” this guy to commit a federal crime. Is this the makings of an insanity plea?

Speaking of the insane, you may remember that Breivik, the Norwegian man who committed that mass murder last year, was found to be insane by a court hearing. Well, now it seems that decision/finding has been overturned. Doctors overturn Breivik insane ruling

Psychiatrists who are monitoring Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik say that he is not psychotic, contradicting an earlier diagnosis by experts.

A court filing by the public prosecutor said four experts at Ila Prison in Oslo had not observed any signs that Breivik was insane.

It was also revealed that he was not receiving any medication and the prison had not seen any need to move him to another facility. An earlier evaluation by two court-appointed psychiatrists described him as living in a “delusional universe” – a paranoid schizophrenic who had lost touch with reality.

Lawyers representing victims of last Juky’s massacre, when Breivik left 77 people dead, demanded the Oslo District Court order a second evaluation. But prosecutor Svein Holden yesterday said he has no plans to do so, fearing Breivik could manipulate new experts.

Wow…imagine this guy manipulating the doctors into finding him insane….or is he manipulating the experts into thinking he is sane. Sometimes when I read these articles, I find myself having to read them over again.

Sticking with the question of sanity, Santorum has Raked In $2 Million In Two Days

Enjoying a wave of momentum from his near-win in the Iowa caucuses, Rick Santorum’s campaign is raising money faster than ever before. Donors have added $2 million to his campaign’s war chest in the last 48 hours alone.

And a Santorum aide tells ABC News that in the space of 10 hours — between midnight Thursday and 10 a.m. — the campaign took in $250,000 of that $2 million total. The quarter-million figure total represents online contributions only.

Other than the obvious wingnuts, who would send this guy any money? 2 million…that figure is staggering. There are some mighty rich PLUBs out there, and you know that none of them would be willing to raise that much money to help teenage mothers…

Which reminds me, yesterday I wrote about the young teenager that was “mistakenly” deported to Columbia. I posted an update in the comments but I just wanted to bring it to the front page: Teenager Mistakenly Deported To Colombia

She is pregnant…and still being held by Columbia, but what is worse…the news and media are blaming the child.

Now she is pregnant, being held in a detention facility in Bogotá. God knows what has happened to that child after she was deported and now, but whatever it is, it shouldn’t ever have happened. ICE likes to brag about their numbers and say they’re deporting criminals and repeat offenders, but it seems that they’re a bit sloppy about how they’re doing it. They fingerprinted this child, for heavens’ sake! How hard would it have been to compare her fingerprints to those of the person whose name she used before sending her out of the country? I wonder if they ever thought the absence of a Columbian accent would have been a clue? Evidently not.

Even if the Houston police screwed up, and I believe they did, the responsibility and ultimate screwup sits firmly with this administration’s immigration authorities. An apology and restitution is the least they should do.

Step up, DHS. Get this girl home. Now.

Update: CNN just ran this report at 9 AM this morning. Note how the entire story is being twisted now to blame the victim. It’s HER fault she’s in Colombia. Somehow she plotted to use someone’s name who was never in the ICE system? According to CNN, she jacked the whole system to get from Texas to Colombia. They can’t imagine why, of course, but it’s clearly this 14-year old (now 15) African-American teenager’s fault that she is being held in the system in Colombia after being deported from this country.

Lavandera makes her sound like some kind of drug dealer:

So basically, what we know so far is this 14-year old girl — 15 now — was able to fool local authorities, also the ICE agents and ICE officials and the immigration process and on top of that the Colombian government to get the necessary paperwork to get deported back into Colombia without any of her own identification.

[...]

…and then at the point of being deported, at the very last minute, why not raise her hand and say “whoa whoa whoa I’m not who I’ve been saying I am.” They don’t understand that.

[...]

The big story here is that this girl has fooled many people on many different levels and it’s absolutely bizarre.

Here’s what I think is bizarre. That a CNN reporter who admits to not having all the facts ready or at his fingertips thinks it’s just fine to go on national television and trash a 14-year old girl who might — MIGHT — have had a student identification card as her sole ID. If she ran away, she could easily have been victimized by human traffickers who told her to use that name if she were arrested. Who knows? None of us know right now. What we DO know is that a 14-year old girl who is a United States citizen was deported. That’s what we know, and Lavandera’s effort to paint her as some kind of con artist was unwarranted and simply victimizes her all over again.

It was a reprehensible report and one that seems to have had ICE agents’ fingerprints on it in an effort to cover their own behinds. Really, we can do better than this.

According to the local TV station that broke the news:

Thursday afternoon, the family had a conference call with members of the National NAACP, congressional Black Caucus leaders and her attorney. They are all demanding the U.S. Embassy gets a chance to visit Jakadrien where she is being held, and to allow her to call her family, which the Colombian government has refused to do.

“I’m looking forward to that,” Turner said. “I just want to hear my baby’s voice.”

The biggest question now is how all this happened – something civil rights leaders are also asking.

Earlier today The Boston Globe endorsed Jon Huntsman for GOP nominee. For vision and national unity, Huntsman for GOP nominee – Editorials – The Boston Globe

Most of the editorial is bashing Romney…looks like Boston Boomer isn’t the only one who really doesn’t want a Romney presidency.

And for your last link of the night, Cosmic Log – What mystifies Dr. Hawking? Women

As famed physicist Stephen Hawking turns 70, the subject that most occupies his thoughts is not how the universe arose from nothing, or how he’s been able to live with neurodegenerative disease for so long. Here’s what he thinks about most: “Women. They are a complete mystery.”

That’s the bottom line from New Scientist’s interview with Hawking, timed to coincide with this weekend’s birthday celebration at Cambridge. The theorist is almost completely paralyzed due to his decades-long struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and had to provide his answers by laboriously twitching his cheek to operate a computerized speech-translation system.

Hawking also listed what he saw as his “biggest blunder in science” (his now-repudiated insistence that information was destroyed in black holes), the most exciting development in physics during his career (the discovery of the big bang’s imprint in cosmic microwave radiation) and the potential discovery that would do the most to revolutionize our understanding of the cosmos (discovery of supersymmetric particles at the Large Hadron Collider).

But it’s his brief comment on women that attracted the most attention: How could it be that a scientist who has plumbed the deepest mysteries of the cosmos finds himself mystified by women?

Hmmm…I guess the man is brilliant enough to discover the origins of the cosmos…

The saga of the super-smart professor who is flummoxed by interpersonal relations, particularly with the opposite sex, is at least as old as Sigmund Freud (who famously wondered, “What does a woman want?”), Jerry Lewis’ fictional “Nutty Professor” and the stereotype we have of Albert Einstein. It’s as up to date as the TV astrophysicist on “The Big Bang Theory” who can’t say a word to women unless he’s under the influence.

Somehow, folks get a satisfying sense of karma from the idea that geniuses are socially stupid. But the stereotype doesn’t really hold true, particularly in Hawking’s case.

Like the real-life Einstein, Hawking has had an active romantic life, marked by two marriages. (Einstein’s second marriage ended with the death of his wife and cousin Elsa; Hawking’s ended in an ugly divorce.) Hawking’s disease does not affect his sexual ability or his potency, and the fact that he’s fathered three children is evidence of that.

“The disease only affects voluntary muscle,” Hawking’s been quoted as saying.

The article goes on to say that Hawking is an incurable flirt, and has a thing for Marilyn Monroe, who he says is the one person he would want to meet if he could go back in time.

Even as he approaches the age of 70, Hawking seems to have kept his playful, pleasant, mischievous character. That may help explain his latest comment about the mystique surrounding women, as well as his own mystique.

Here’s a classic example: Actress Jane Fonda was clearly won over last year when Hawking came backstage after her performance in a play about a woman musicologist in the early stages of neurodegenerative disease. “I took his hand and carefully uncurled the fingers one by one, wanting to see how they felt and looked … soft, pale, safe,” she recalled in a blog posting.

When Fonda asked Hawking what he thought of her performance, Hawking typed out a short response: “You were my heartthrob” — which got a big laugh. Fonda came away starstruck. “This man who cannot move or speak, can, nonetheless, comprehend the incomprehensible,” she wrote.

Hmm … Maybe women aren’t such a complete mystery to Hawking after all.

That is all for tonight…catch ya later in the comments.


Live Blog: Watching the Republican Candidates Beating a Dead Horse?

Is this really only the 13th debate? It seems like about 30, doesn’t it? Do you have the stomach for it? I plan to listen on satellite radio for as long as I can stand. I figure there could be a few laughs to be had if Mitt and Newt go for each others’ throats. The only other candidate there tonight with a sliver a chance is {eeek!} Ron Paul.

The debate will be on Fox News at 9PM. Here’s how Fox sees it: Gingrich Faces Off Against GOP Field at Iowa Debate

Newt Gingrich enters the high-stakes debate in Iowa Thursday night with a political target on his back, as Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republican presidential candidates look to challenge his front-runner status ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

Gingrich, for his part, is vowing to stay positive.

On the day of the debate, his campaign aired a new Iowa ad that claimed his candidacy embodies “bold ideas and new solutions” for the country.

“Others seem to be more focused on attacks rather than moving the country forward. That’s up to them,” Gingrich said in the ad.

We’ll see how long it takes for Mr. Nasty to lash out at someone. Any bets? You can watch the live stream of the debate at Fox.com.
The coverage actually starts at 8:30PM.

Rasmussen Reports had a new poll out today with Romney taking the lead in Iowa, 23%, to Gingrich’s 20% and Paul’s 18%. So it appears that Romney still has a chance.

Business Insider says tonight’s debate is “HUGE.”

After a rollercoaster shadow primary, the stakes could not be higher this evening. With Newt Gingrich’s lead evaporating, the Iowa race is still anybody’s game. This debate is the candidates’ last chance to make an impression on voters before they hunker down for the holidays. A breakout performance — or major gaffe — tonight could actually make or break a campaign.

They ask: “Can Newt take the heat?” “Will the Mitt-bot self-destruct?” “Can Rick Perry hold it together?” “Will Ron Paul be a factor?” Plus they suggest that Jon Huntsman could be the next candidate to “surge.” I’ll believe that when I see it.

Chris Cillizza calls this “the kitchen sink debate,”

because you can bet any and every attack that the Republican candidates might have been keeping in their pocket will come out tonight. Why? Because it’s the last chance for Iowa voters — and voters nationally — to compare and contrast the candidates before an actual ballot is cast.

And brings up similar questions to those listed above from the Business Insider piece.

I’m ready to live blog, and home some of you will join me. I don’t know how long I’ll last, but I’ll hang in there as long as I can.


Late Evening News Reads: Open thread…

Good Evening

Have you even been so engrossed in something that you forget everything, even eating, until you realize..Damn, what time is it? When did it get dark?

Well, after painting all day I realized that it was 7pm, where did the day go! So tonight’s reads are going to be quick…and hopefully painless.

The big news tonight is about a press conference tomorrow:  First Read – Cain won’t preview tomorrow’s announcement

Speculation about the future of Herman Cain’s presidential campaign will likely come to an end in less than
24 hours, the candidate told supporters during a town hall here this afternoon.

“Tomorrow in Atlanta, I will be making an announcement, but nobody’s going to get me to make that announcement prematurely,” said Cain.”That’s all there is to that.  So tomorrow  we’re going to be opening our headquarters in Northwest Georgia where we will also clarify, there’s that word again, clarify exactly what the next steps are.”

Actually, I don’t really give two shits to listen to what he has to say…he just needs to go. As far as his wife is concerned, she needs to kick his ass out and tell him “Gloria Cain is doing what Gloria Cain should have done a looooong time ago!” Give Herman a bit of his own third person, charisma charmed back talk.

Next, there is yet another GOP debate set in the coming weeks, but this one is just beyond ridiculous. I had no idea that Donald Trump is one of the moderators, did you? Oh, please, as if the clown show wasn’t bad enough.

Trump to Moderate Republican Debate – NYTimes.com

It’s officially a reality television Republican primary now.

Donald Trump is pairing up with Newsmax, the conservative magazine and news Web site, to moderate a presidential debate in Des Moines on Dec. 27.

“Our readers and the grass roots really love Trump,” said Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media. “They may not agree with
him on everything, but they don’t see him as owned by the Washington establishment, the media establishment.”

Mr. Trump’s role in the debate, which will be broadcast on the cable network Ion Television, is sure to be one of the more memorable moments in a primary season that has already delivered its fair share of circus-like spectacle.

Hmmm, is Trump negotiating another reality show contract?

Newsmax sent candidates the invitation on Friday afternoon. It began, “We are pleased to cordially invite you to “The Newsmax Ion Television 2012 Presidential Debate,” moderated by a truly great American, Mr. Donald J. Trump.” Spokesmen for several candidates did not immediately respond to questions from The New York Times about whether they would accept.

Though presidential candidates may initially balk at the idea of appearing in a debate where Mr. Trump – with his bombast and The Hair – is the one posing the questions, they may ultimately see it as an invitation they can’t refuse. In fact many of the candidates have already met with him, some more publicly than others. Representative Michele Bachmann has sat down with Mr. Trump several times this year. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas had dinner with him at Jean Georges, the posh Manhattan restaurant. And Mitt Romney paid a visit but carefully avoided being photographed.

It is like Trump has become the left hand of the Almighty, which leaves the right hand for Grover Norquist…

You may have seen the how authority is shown in Medieval Art…the emperor or king would be seated in their throne, with the actual hand of God shinning upon them, as if to say, “That’s my boy!”

Charles the Bald, painted before 869 AD...See the hand? Signifying Divine Right of Kings.

Well, that is what I think of Trump, only instead of an outstretched hand, it would be his flamboyant orange squirrel tail, oops, I mean hair piece.  Imagine that kind of approval painted in the medieval style. Damn, I wish just once I could sketch this out…Oh what fun we could have!

Now see what I’ve gone and done, I got so carried away with The Donald’s rug, that I forgot to make a snarky comment about the “invite” the GOP candidates received.

All I have to do is quote one line:

“We are pleased to cordially invite you to “The Newsmax Ion Television 2012 Presidential Debate,” moderated by a truly great American, Mr. Donald J. Trump.”

Moderated by a truly great American…bwahaaahaa!

I’m sure the ass clowns all jumped at a chance to be moderated by Trump…except for Huntsman of course. Here’s The Huntsman Campaign’s Awesome RSVP To The Trump Debate

Tim Miller, a spokesman for Jon Huntsman’s presidential campaign, had this response when asked if his candidate would participate in the Dec. 27 Newsmax debate moderated by Donald Trump:

“Lol. We look forward to watching Mitt and Newt suck-up to The Donald with a big bowl of popcorn,” he said in an email to Business Insider.

Oh, that is sweet!

Deciding to sit-out the debate may help Huntsman with his message that he is the only adult in the GOP field. Another reason is more practical — Huntsman is wagering everything on New Hampshire, and leaving the state for even a day to debate in Iowa detracts from time he can spend wooing Granite State voters.

Speaking of Huntsman, check this out: Christine Todd Whitman to Jon Huntsman: Run third party – Tim Mak – POLITICO.com

Former New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman, who is leading a group to draft a third-party presidential candidate, is encouraging Jon Huntsman to make an independent bid for the White House.

“I would hope he would do it, frankly. He’s someone that I would support,” Whitman said Friday in an interview with POLITICO.

Whitman, a Republican, said a third-party effort by Huntsman is the way to go because she believes it’s unlikely he has much of shot at the GOP nomination. “I don’t see that kind of traction unless he can pull off a surprise in New Hampshire, where independents are allowed to vote,” she said.

Whitman, who headed the EPA under former President George W. Bush, serves on the board of directors of Americans Elect, which is trying to get ballots lines in all 50 states and have delegates take part in an online vote to select a bipartisan presidential ticket.

It looks like the Huntsman campaign is not jumping at Todd Whitman’s suggestion…

A Huntsman spokesman told POLITICO, “Unlike most of our opponents, Jon Huntsman is a lifelong Republican and he’s going to run for president as a Republican.”

Ugh…that is enough GOP crapola to make me want to lock myself away in a dark room!

So, what you doing tonight? Come on and post some links! This is an open thread…


Thursday Reads

Good Morning! So President Obama has set off another big battle in Washington by asking to give his highly touted jobs speech before a joint session of Congress next Wednesday–at the same time as the next Republican debate. For a guy who keeps harping on “bipartisanship,” you have to wonder why he did that. Maybe he’s trying to distract everyone from the fact that he has no new ideas about jobs? From Politico:

A presidential address to a joint session of Congress is usually one of Washington’s more dignified and predictable events — but President Barack Obama’s request to deliver a Sept. 7 speech quickly devolved into just another partisan pie fight.

Oval Office requests for a prime-time slot in the well of the House — whatever the motivation, topic or tenor of the times — are traditionally approved on a more or less pro forma basis. In fact, the official historian for the House of Representatives told reporters Wednesday that no such request has ever been publicly rejected.

But this is 2012 Washington, where the comforting little courtesies and old-shoe rituals that once kept bickering Democrats and Republicans from immobilizing the republic have been chucked in the constant quest for news-cycle leverage.

So Speaker Boehner told the President to move his speech to Thursday, and even on this, Obama caved. The speech will now be on Thursday. But why does the speech need to be given before a joint session of Congress anyway? Why does there even need to be a speech? Just DO something for Pete’s sake! All I can say is the White House gang had better come up with some startling ideas, or Obama is going to look incredibly lame. More talk about free trade agreements, patent reform, and extending the payroll tax holiday simply won’t cut it.

Chris Cilizza at the WaPo, discusses the likelihood that the WH scheduling was just a coincidence, as press secretary Jay Carney initially claimed.

when the White House announced today that President Obama would deliver his much-anticipated jobs speech on Sept. 7 at 8 pm— the exact same day and time that the 2012 Republican candidates are scheduled to debate in California — the idea that the timing was purely coincidental was, well, far-fetched.

Opinions varied on whether this was a good idea or not.

Some applauded the move as a sign of much-needed aggression from the White House “Whether intentional or not it sends a signal that the president and White House are coming out of their corner between rounds fists up, on their toes and ready to fight,” said Democratic strategist Chris Lehane.

But there were others within the party who worried that the White House’s scheduling gambit might backfire.

“It’s a bad idea [and] seems a little small,” said one Democratic consultant granted anonymity to speak candidly. “And it suggests perhaps his jobs plan wont be that appealing because now the coverage will be about the strategy and not the substance.”

Another senior Democratic operative suggested that scheduling the speech simultaneously with the GOP debate actually would muddy rather than clarify the contrast the White House is hoping for heading into 2012.

But none of this really matters now that Obama has caved to the Republicans, as usual; and now he has to compete with the opening of the NFL season.

Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has released his economic plan, and it’s a doozy. He want to reduce the marginal tax rate to 23 percent, giving the richest Americans the lowest tax rate since the Hoover administration. And how does he propose to pay for this? Here’s how.

Huntsman says he will pay for this supply-side bonanza by eliminating all so-called “tax expenditures.”…. Huntsman either hasn’t thought through — or doesn’t want people to know — what eliminating all tax expenditures would actually mean. So let’s take a look at the official tax expenditure list and see what would happen if we got rid of all of them:

– All Social Security benefits would become taxable. Senior citizens that currently receive the average Social Security benefit as their primary income source (as is the case for most seniors) currently pay no income taxes on those benefits, but would under Huntsman’s plan.

– Many middle-class parents would lose child tax credits and tax benefits for education and child care that are more valuable to them than a tax rate cut.

– Huntsman’s tax plan would also eliminate the employer health insurance exclusion, which helps enable some 160 million Americans get coverage through their jobs.

– One of the most successful pro-work, anti-poverty initiatives, the Earned Income Tax Credit, would be abolished.

– Veterans pensions and disability benefits would become subject to tax, as would all military combat pay, military housing allowances and meals, workers compensation payments, public assistance benefits, and state foster care payments.

This is just a partial list of the harsh and/or bizarre consequences that would occur if all tax expenditures were eliminated to fund a huge giveaway to the very rich.

In line with this latest Republican proposal to screw the poor and the elderly, on Tuesday, the New York Times editorial page took note of “the new resentment of the poor.”

In a decade of frenzied tax-cutting for the rich, the Republican Party just happened to lower tax rates for the poor, as well. Now several of the party’s most prominent presidential candidates and lawmakers want to correct that oversight and raise taxes on the poor and the working class, while protecting the rich, of course.

These Republican leaders, who think nothing of widening tax loopholes for corporations and multimillion-dollar estates, are offended by the idea that people making less than $40,000 might benefit from the progressive tax code. They are infuriated by the earned income tax credit (the pride of Ronald Reagan), which has become the biggest and most effective antipoverty program by giving working families thousands of dollars a year in tax refunds. They scoff at continuing President Obama’s payroll tax cut, which is tilted toward low- and middle-income workers and expires in December.

Until fairly recently, Republicans, at least, have been fairly consistent in their position that tax cuts should benefit everyone. Though the Bush tax cuts were primarily for the rich, they did lower rates for almost all taxpayers, providing a veneer of egalitarianism. Then the recession pushed down incomes severely, many below the minimum income tax level, and the stimulus act lowered that level further with new tax cuts. The number of families not paying income tax has risen from about 30 percent before the recession to about half, and, suddenly, Republicans have a new tool to stoke class resentment.

Speaking of cold-hearted Republicans, you’ve probably heard about Eric Cantor’s demand that any Federal help given to those hit by Hurricane Irene must be offset by cuts in other areas. Unfortunately for Cantor, he was singing another tune in 2004 when his state, Virginia, needed help.

Not only that but suddenly one of the new Republican stars is in need of help and doesn’t want to worry about debt and deficits and cutting government. He wants help for his state right now.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie reacted angrily to a fight brewing in Washington over whether Hurricane Irene disaster aid may need to be offset by federal spending cuts.

“Our people are suffering now, and they need support now. And they [Congress] can all go down there and get back to work and figure out budget cuts later,” the Republican governor told a crowd in the flood-ravaged North Jersey town of Lincoln Park.

Christie said no such discussion was held when help went to Joplin, Mo., where a deadly May tornado damaged 7,500 homes.

“We need the support now here in New Jersey, and that’s not a Republican or a Democratic issue,” Christie said, according to NorthJersey.com

Another hurricane could be on the way. Tropical Storm Katia may be a Hurricane soon. It looks like this one may hit the Gulf coast, and quite a few oil workers are already being evacuated.

The Miami-based center said Katia was forecast to become a “major” hurricane with winds over 111 mph (178 kph) on Sunday, but it was still too early to tell whether it would threaten land.

At 5 p.m. (2100 GMT), Katia was about 1,285 miles (2.070 km) east of the Caribbean’s Leeward Islands. It was moving rapidly west-northwest and was forecast to turn northwest in a couple of days on a course that would keep it away from the Caribbean islands.

Of course it’s too soon to know for sure what will happen, but maybe Mayor Bloomberg should get busy preparing another evacuation plan.

Meanwhile, things are still really bad in Vermont.

Federal and state environmental teams on Wednesday investigated the extent of health risks related to damaged sewage and water treatment plants in more than a dozen Vermont towns where flash flooding has left thousands of people without electricity or potable water since Sunday.

Engineers from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation visited several areas that had been cut off to assess the hazards, officials said. The teams were trying to determine the extent of damage to sewage and water plants in at least 13 towns, including chemical and other hazardous material spills and leaks, said Justin Johnson, deputy commissioner of the environmental department….

The Vermont National Guard continued to airlift supplies to residents in 13 towns stranded by washed out roadways, damaged bridges, fallen trees and mud. A helicopter from the Illinois National Guard joined the relief effort on Wednesday, helping distribute supplies, said Mark Bosma, a spokesman for Vermont Emergency Management.

By Wednesday night, crews had completed makeshift roads into all of the isolated towns, state officials said. They reached the last, Wardsboro, population 850, in south central Vermont, just before 6 p.m.

In a bit of good news, the Red Sox beat the Yankees last night, 9-5, and the Sox are now in first place by 1-1/2 games.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?


Sunday Reads: Poison in a bottle, Nuns are a dying breed, Women and Unemployment

It's Cheap!

Good Morning!

It’s Sunday…Geez, I remember when I was young, the sound of the ticking  stop watch on 60 minutes always signaled the end of the weekend.  Now a days, it is writing this post.  So here are some links for you to start the end of your weekend.

First up, the strike at Verizon is over, and no contract has been signed, or even reached. Verizon Strike Update: Workers Return Without Contract – ABC News

The 45,000 Verizon wireline workers will end their strike and return to work beginning Monday night, even though no new contract has been reached, the company announced today.

According to a statement from the company, the Verizon and the unions have made headway in negotiating a number of local and regional issues, and the parties have agreed on a process for moving forward to negotiate the major issues regarding benefits, cost structure, work flexibility and job security.

I hope that the workers get what they want, but it seems strange that they have given up the strike without a contract agreement.

Well, it looks like Bank of America is telling Rick Perry to make them an offer they can’t refuse.  CAUGHT ON TAPE: Bank Of America’s Director Of Public Policy Tells Rick Perry ‘We’ll Help You Out’ | ThinkProgress

A top Bank of America executive was caught on camera yesterday whispering to Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), “Bank of America. We’ll help you out,” as the GOP presidential candidate attended New Hampshire’s Politics and Eggs breakfast. The executive has been identified by the financial website Zero Hedge as James Mahoney, Director of Public Policy for the bank.

[…]

Over the years Gov. Perry has benefited greatly from Bank of America’s financial support, and it appears that largesse will continue as he seeks the presidency on a platform of — coincidentally enough — bank deregulation. His gubernatorial campaigns have received $125,900 from Bank of America’s PAC and executives since 2003. During the 2010 cycle alone, Perry’s campaign received $30,160 from the bank’s PAC and executives. According to Texans for Public Justice, Bank of America has also given generously Republican Governors Association, which Perry led until recently and just happens to be his largest donor, contributing $4 million between 2001 and 2010.

That link has the video clip of the special whisper, so take a look.

In other 2012 GOP news,  Huntsman gets more aggressive with opponents, Obama – The Washington Post

Jon M. Huntsman Jr. is finally making good on his pledge to be more aggressive with his opponents, saying in a recent interview that he “wouldn’t necessarily trust” any of his opponents when it comes to the handling of the economy.

[…]

“I have to say that there was zero leadership on display in terms of my opponents . . . zero leadership on display in terms of the president, who should have used the bully pulpit well ahead of time. He should have walked away from the teleprompter. The people want you to speak from your heart and soul. Tell us where you want us to go. Tell us what you expect from Congress. Tell us what’s on your mind. That never happened,” he said in the interview, which airs on “This Week With Christiane Amanpour.” “And it waited until the eleventh hour and then we had some of my Republican opponents who basically, I think, recommended something that would have been catastrophic for this economy.”

This week, the Latino community laid their continued support of Obama on the table, and the Obama Administration answered with a change in its immigration deportation policy.

This Thursday, the Obama administration announced it would do a “case-by-case review of deportations, allowing many undocumented immigrants without criminal records to stay in the United States” permitting them to apply for work permits and possibly stay.

The announcement came to a surprise for many Latinos, especially for the Latino groups and immigration reform advocates. During his speech last month at the National Council of la Raza, the largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S, there was no indication of a change in policy. Obama made it clear that although tempting to bypass Congress and change the laws himself that he wouldn’t because “that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions.” A lot has changed since that day.

This is why I found this next article in the Guardian interesting, because it gives the UK perspective of Obama’s changes in policy, and discusses the worries of illegal immigrants in the American South…Tensions rise as Latinos feel under siege in America’s deep south | World news | The Observer

The mobile home that Nancy Lugo and her two children live in might not seem like much to many people.

It sits off a dirt road, by a slow-moving creek, on the outskirts of the tiny Georgia town of Uvalda. It is surrounded by thick forest and fields full of the local speciality: Vidalia onions.

But for Lugo, 34, it is a symbol of a better life in America. Here in Georgia, far from her native Mexico, Lugo has a solid job, sends her kids to school and loves the rhythm of rural life. “It is peaceful. I am happy here,” she said.

The patch of land she bought for her trailer was vacant before she came. But she dug a well and sank septic tanks, carving a home from the wilderness in a grand American tradition. She got a job. She paid her taxes.

But Lugo is an illegal alien…she recently lost her job, working at a factory that makes equipment for the US Army, because of her illegal status.  The manager was worried he would be prosecuted under the new Georgia Law, and when no one else would take her low paying, back-breaking job, the plant re-hired her.

In Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, new laws have been signed that represent the toughest crackdown on illegal immigrants – the vast majority of whom are Hispanics – in America. They give the police sweeping new powers and require them, and employers, to check people’s immigration status. In Alabama, they even make helping illegal immigrants, by giving them a lift in a car or shelter in a home, into a serious crime. For many, the laws echo the deep south’s painful history of segregation, sending out a message to people of a different colour: you are not wanted here.

Yes, Georgia is no longer a brown-friendly state, but the real hypocrisy of these laws can truly be seen in Alabama.

Isabel Rubio, director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, …produced a copy of the law and pointed out a shocking segment. In the text there is an exemption for domestic service, meaning that anyone with an illegal immigrant maid is not defined as an “employer” under the law. It was a grim reminder of old social realities. “It’s Alabama,” said Rubio. “It means you can still have your Latina household help.”

Hmmm, I guess all those rich white god fearing folks can feel relieved with this “exemption” from being prosecuted of a crime. The double standard is disgusting.

So, if an illegal domestic is not “an employee” then what are they? Slaves?

There is a recent study that shows  US unemployment benefits and welfare are not reaching the people who need it the most.  Poor women and welfare reform in US: Working without a net

Welfare and Unemployment Insurance, considered important parts of Americans’ safety net during difficult financial times, have provided little to no help for many low-wage earners who have the shortest distance to fall. Poor women in a study by Indiana University sociologist Kristin Seefeldt grew to expect this.

“For the lowest income citizens in the U.S., they have very, very limited expectations about what government could or should do for them even though they are being hit so hard by the recession,” said Seefeldt, assistant professor in IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Government assistance is not enough for poor women to support themselves and their children.  However, with the recession, women are having an even harder time making ends meet, because the backup support they have relied on is gone.

The women in her study also saw the support they received from private safety nets, such as family members, diminish as the recession worsened. The women struggled with a variety of issues, such as not qualifying for public benefits despite their dire situations, red tape that appeared overly cumbersome or interfered with their jobs, and discouraging interactions with case workers. National data, Seefeldt said, has shown that cash welfare caseloads have not increased much since the recession began.

“Women have been left with nowhere else to turn but themselves,” Seefeldt said. “This renders them very poor. I’ve found that these women often carry enormous amounts of debt, get behind on bills.”

The study shows things are getting worse for women, who did not hold full-time jobs…

… the economic downturn and recession has provided the first test of the U.S. work-based welfare reforms enacted in 1996 with the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity and Reconciliation Act. Poor women with children can receive cash benefits if they meet work requirements, such as working or searching for work. These work requirements have remained in place during the recession, even though jobs are scarce.

Seefeldt said these women also have trouble benefiting from the Unemployment Insurance program for a variety of reasons, such as holding seasonal jobs, not having earned enough to receive benefits, or working for employers who contest their application for benefits.

Unemployment benefit is geared for the “full-time” worker…so a huge population of women are not getting the full benefits they deserve.  And with the loss of those support systems they used to rely on before the recession, these women are truly being left behind.

From Minx’s Missing Link File:  A new discovery has been announced that should be of interest to all those who fancy a “Little Egypt” out there.  Ancient Egypt queen ‘killed by poison in flask’ – Africa, World – The Independent

German researchers have discovered a carcinogenic substance in a flask believed to have belonged to Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt 3,500 years ago, raising the possibility that she may have accidentally poisoned herself.

The University of Bonn said that the flask contained what appears to have been a lotion or medicine used to tackle skin disorders such as eczema. Researchers also found benzopyrene, an aromatic and highly carcinogenic hydrocarbon.

“If one imagines that the queen had a chronic skin disease and the ointment gave her short-term relief, then she may have exposed herself to a major risk over… a few years,” said the university’s Helmut Wiedenfeld.

Moving on from Ancient Egypt, to the nunnery we go…

Easy like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: This one is for those of you who went to parochial school…I can still remember my “run-ins” with Sister Theodora…the thought that one day, penguins will become extinct, makes me think there will be generations who won’t “get” the joke in scenes like this:

Anyway, here is your Sunday Morning link of the week…  Nuns, a ‘Dying Breed,’ Fade From Leadership Roles at Catholic Hospitals – NYTimes.com

When Sister Mary Jean Ryan entered the convent as a young nurse in 1960, virtually every department of every Catholic hospital was run by a nun, from pediatrics to dietary to billing. After her retirement on July 31 as the chief executive of one of the country’s largest networks of Catholic hospitals, only 11 nuns remained among her company’s more than 22,000 employees, and none were administrators.

Franciscan Sisters of Mary.

The Franciscan Sisters of Mary arrived in St. Louis in 1872 and later took on ministering to patients in hospitals.

For SSM Health Care, a $4.2 billion enterprise that evolved from the work of five German nuns who arrived here in 1872, Sister Mary Jean’s departure after 25 years as the company’s first chief executive marks a poignant passing. The gradual transition from religious to lay leadership, which has been changing the face of Catholic health care for decades, is now nearly complete.

In 1968, nuns or priests served as chief executives of 770 of the country’s 796 Catholic hospitals, according to the Catholic Health Association. Today, they preside over 8 of 636 hospitals. With Sister Mary Jean’s departure, only 8 of 59 Catholic health care systems are directed by religious executives.

[…]

Sister Mary Jean’s order has dwindled to about 100 from a peak of more than 500. Most moved out of their convent last year and into a retirement and nursing home. There has not been an initiate for 25 years, and several years ago the sisters reluctantly stopped looking.

“It was painful,” Sister Mary Jean said in an interview in her modest apartment, “but I think it was also courageous to say we’re just not going to recruit any more. Let’s just live out the rest of our lives to the fullest that we possibly can and thank God for what we’ve been able to do. And when the time comes, as they say, the last person turn the lights out.”

So, here’s to all those “fat penguins” out there, from one of your former students who loves to hate you. ;)

What are you all reading about today, just go ahead and get busy in the comment section.