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Chernynkaya On August - 11 - 2011

You can access all the past editions of The Daily Planet on the green Category bar on the top of each page under the heading PlanetPOV.

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BUSINESS

 

 

AOL stock is crushed after it postpones turnaround, again

AOL shares got hammered on Tuesday after the company released its latest earnings, falling by as much as 30 percent from the previous day. That decline put the stock more than 50 percent lower than it was earlier this year whenthe web giant acquired The Huffington Post for $315 million. Why such a beating? Because while the company showed some revenue growth, it lowered its forecasts for the coming year, in effect telling investors and analysts that the much-promised turnaround they have been waiting for is still a long way off. […]

As we’ve described before, the acquisition of Arianna Huffington’s empire effectively amounted to a transplant operation, which saw many of AOL’s core editorial properties get shut down or gutted — a move that led to more than 900 layoffs — and replaced with HuffPo assets under the control of Arianna Huffington. The other big bet that AOL has been making in an attempt to turn its fortunes around is the estimated $100 million or so that it has spent on building out its hyperlocal Patch.com news operation, which is now up and running in almost 900 towns across the United States.

AOL’s two biggest bets have yet to pay off.

Neither of those large bets has paid off yet in any kind of significant way, however. While Huffington Post has been benefiting from the traffic that AOL can send it from its other properties, and Armstrong gave it credit for some of the ad-revenue improvement, its contribution has been relatively small — and Patch has not produced much in terms of advertising either. The network recently launched a Huffington Post-style “blog aggregation” platform in what appears to be an attempt to lower costs for the unit while still appealing to readers and advertisers with local content.

 

Delta threatens to leave US if it doesn’t get it’s union busting (NMB) rule  

Does somebody actually advise the chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines or does he just wing it when he talks tough like he did recently on Fox News?

In a fawning interview earlier this summer with anchorman, Neil Cavuto, Anderson sounded an awful lot like he was threatening to take his big ole Atlanta-based airline out of the country if those Obama liberals didn’t stop messin’ around with his nearly-non-union shop.

Anderson is grumpy because of a change in labor policy that makes it easier for union organizers to win elections.

To understand what’s changed you need to know that in the past, when employees were presented with the option of joining a union it wasn’t just the “yes” votes and the “no” votes that were counted. The number of people who did not vote was tallied too and those non-votes were considered “no” votes. The philosophy behind this somewhat odd practice is to make sure that a majority of all employees vote for the change, giving a voice even to those workers who don’t want one enough to actually cast a vote. […]

This ladies and gents, is the issue behind the two week suspension in FAA funding that saw workers laid off and progress on aviation projects like Next Gen, put on hold. The Delta boss was cited specifically by Sen. Jay Rockefeller as being the force putting the fiber in the Republicans. “I wish I understood why the policy objections of one company — Delta Air Lines — mattered more than the livelihoods of thousands of people,” the senator said during the dust-up last week.

Certainly Delta is not alone in opposing anything that will increase the likelihood of unionizing. Fed Ex and UPS are also said to be lobbying hard to overturn the new National Mediation Board policy on union elections.

But it’s only Delta’s top dog who decided to go on national television and threaten the nation with its exodus.

 

ECONOMY

Al Franken: Maybe the Treasury Department should have supported my bill against ratings agencies.

National Journal:

[…] But Franken is so exercised about Standard & Poor’s that he spoke to National Journal on Tuesday about what he considers to be one of the biggest outrages to come out of the financial crisis of 2008: the continuing and unjustified dominance of a few giant ratings agencies such as S&P, which last week downgraded the U.S. government for the first time to an AA+ rating from AAA.

“I think the ratings-agency issue should live on its own merits,” said Franken. “But this event does help in one respect: It shows the incompetence of S&P.”

To little notice, Franken took on the ratings agencies almost single-handedly in the spring of 2010 when he added an amendment to the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. Building on an earlier proposal from Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., Franken came up with a way of breaking the near-monopoly that firms S&P, Moody’s, and Fitch had on the ratings field. He sought to create an intermediary board that would rotate credit-rating agencies among firms issuing securities.

To his surprise, Franken encountered resistance from then-Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who was ushering the bill, as well as the Treasury Department. “I don’t have any fruit baskets from them,” Franken said. Dodd and Obama administration officials wanted the Securities and Exchange Commission to study the issue further. Franken fought back and won compromise language making his plan go into force automatically if the SEC couldn’t come up with a better alternative. “We turned ‘may’ into ‘shall.’ A big victory,” Franken said. […]

Because the big ratings agencies earn their revenues by taking fees from the investment banks for rating their securities—the so-called “issuer-pay model”—critics allege they are motivated to give better ratings to dubious securities. The ratings agencies did this to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars during the credit bubble, delivering up AAA assessments to securities that were often based on junky subprime mortgages. “That’s what led to the whole meltdown as far as I was concerned,” said Franken. “The main thing is to reward accuracy and not to create incentives to give AAA ratings to junk—because if we don’t give them a AAA, we won’t get the next meeting.”

Although S&P did not seem to have that conflict of interest when downgrading U.S. debt last week, Franken said that “corruption breeds incompetence.… This underscores the importance of having the initial ratings agencies be selected by an independent board. Issuer pay is in and of itself a huge problem and we should eliminate it. If my bill had been implemented, what would happen is that different rating agencies emerge and have different areas of expertise. After a certain amount of time, you would establish a track record.”

S&P, Moody’s, and Fitch have largely escaped whipping for their performance during the subprime bubble. They continue to be anointed by the government as “Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations,” in other words as arbiters of what banks, pension funds, and others restricted to “safe” investing can buy. Until recently they have even been given First Amendment protections afforded to journalists to protect them against liability for erroneous assessments.

It’s All Made in China? Not So Fast!

[…] While Chinese goods seem ubiquitous, especially given America’s economic woes, the reality is that imports from the country are a relatively small part of the economy: A total of 88.5 percent of consumer spending in the United States is on items made here, with only 2.7 percent spent on “Made in China” goods, according to new researchfrom the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco:


When you exclude the services sector, which naturally advantages the U.S.—you’re not going to Beijing for a Big Mac or a doctor’s appointment—China still takes a relatively small share, about 20 percent of household equipment and furniture spending and 35.6 percent of clothing and shoe sales.

Even that doesn’t entirely reflect the amount of money spent on Chinese goods that stays in the United States. Chinese goods need to be transported, sold and marketed here, and so it turns out that for every dollar spent on products made in China, 55 cents go to services produced in the United States.

The San Francisco Fed studied whether rising prices in China will affect prices of goods here in the United States, and concluded it’s not likely because the amount of spending on Chinese goods is already so low. Manufacturers in China—like FoxConn, a Taiwanese company that makes electronics, including many Apple products—are increasingly addressing workers’ demands for higher wages by seeking even cheaper locales for their plants and replacing people with robots. But it’s not clear that major shifts in price would affect U.S. Consumers.

The chart is a timely reminder of how much of our economic activity is right here at home, not just abroad.

That’s why consumer spending is so important in the United States—we’re our own biggest market—and why the drop in consumer confidence has made the Great Recession so much worse. But if the lack of consumer spending is a problem, it’s also an opportunity to figure out how to leverage our own buying power to pull the country out of an economic ditch.

Bachmann gave me a dumb idea: a new stimulus based solely on GOPers’ requests for public investments 

Steve Benen:

[…]What’s more, the phenomenon certainly isn’t limited to Bachmann — all kinds of right-wing lawmakers who swear public investments are fundamentally evil, including plenty of this year’s radical freshman class, have spent a fair amount of time pleading for more public investment in their states and districts, insisting the spending would be good for the economy. Rachel Maddow did a segment on this last year that still stands out as devastating.

The easy observation is to mock the GOP hypocrisy, but Bachmann gave me a new idea: how about a new stimulus package focused on granting Republicans’ requests for public investments?

Here’s the pitch: have the White House take the several hundred letters GOP lawmakers have sent to the executive branch since 2009, asking for public investments, and let President Obama announce he’ll gladly fund all of the Republicans’ requests that have not yet been filled.

This is especially important when it comes to infrastructure, a sector in which GOP members have pleaded for more investment in their areas. When pressed, these same Republicans will offer an explanation that “sounds like something out of the mouth of a Keynesian economist, rather than the musings of a congressman who proudly touts his support from the Tea Party movement.”

So, how about it? If these Republican lawmakers have identified worthwhile projects in need of government spending, which they themselves insist will boost the economy, why not start spending the money GOP officials want to see spent?

 

HEALTH

Food spoilage bacteria are harmless

Boing Boing:

[…] Spoilage bacteria turn last week’s roast chicken into a scene from Zombie Flesh Eaters. Like the undead, they’re everywhere (air, soil, water, plants, and animals), so the invasion of your groceries is pretty much inevitable. Evolved to consume corpses and dead plants, which are customarily served cool, they’re the dominant bacteria in your 35-40-degree fridge. (Conversely, temperatures above 85 degrees enervate them.) The stench is from the breakdown of amino acids into amines, which include the evocatively named cadaverine, putrescine, and spermidine. As repulsive as they are, only one, histamine, has been linked to negative health effects, and that’s just for people who have allergies to it or who eat certain kinds of improperly stored fish. Spoilage bacteria are harmless.

Pathogenic bacteria make you wish you could exchange your Caribbean bungalow for a hospital room with an IV drip and a bedpan. The preferred habitat of salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter—three moderately serious foodborne illnesses—is the nutrient-packed guts of warm-blooded animals, but these also do well at room temperature. The journey to your plate usually starts at the slaughterhouse or meat processing facility, where a minute amount of animal poop gets on your future burger. So long as the meat’s under refrigeration, that’s no big deal, since cold inhibits the proliferation of pathogens (most people can fight off low doses). But then—maybe at home, more likely at a food-service establishment—the ground beef sits out for several hours, allowing the bacteria to multiply. As a finishing touch, you order your patty medium rare, so the center doesn’t get hot enough to kill its microscopic passengers. It smells good, looks good, tastes good. (Pathogenic bacteria provide no sensory clues as to their presence in food.) But hours to days later: stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, or worse.

 

HEALTH CARE

Not a grand bargain, but a ‘doc-fix’?

Ezra Klein:

The more the debt “supercommittee” takes shape, with nine members now named, the less likely it seems that we’ll see a “grand bargain” on health care, with sweeping entitlement reforms. […]

There is some worry, though, about what the health sector could get instead: another version of the much-maligned “doc-fix” problem, where cuts written into law never actually take effect.

A bit of background: As part of the Balanced Budget Act back in the late 1990s, Congress created a new formula — called the Sustainable Growth Rate, or SGR — to contain costs in Medicare. The goal was to keep down Medicare spending by chaining it to GDP growth.

That hasn’t exactly worked out. Medical spending has grown much faster than inflation. And since 2002, Congress has consistently passed “doc-fixes,”or legislation to deliver the necessary money to ensure that Medicare doctors’ pay isn’t slashed. Right now, the gap between how much the SGR says doctors should be paid and how much it takes to keep their pay stable is in the neighborhood of $20 billion a year, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.

Now there’s some thought that any new health cuts that come out of the supercommittee could play out similarly.The supercommittee can write all the payment reductions it wants into law. There’s no requirement, however, that future Congresses have to let those cuts take effect. They could pass a pay-patch, as they do on Medicare doctor payments, tweak new formulas or just flat out delay them.

 

JUSTICE

Stat of the Day (Judicial Nominations)

Jonathan Bernstein:

The outcome of all those months in which the Republicans were blocking judicial nominations and Barack Obama and the Senate Democrats didn’t seem to care very much, from Emily Bazelon in the NYT Magazine this past Sunday (yeah, yeah, I’m a little behind):

Since 1981, Epstein says, Republicans have appointed 41 federal appellate judges under age 45 to the Democrats’ 10. Bush placed 13 judges in this group. Obama, so far, has zero.

Zero. Wow. I did not realize that one.

Obama so far has had 19 appellate judges confirmed. Let’s see…16 of them were born in 1957 or earlier, two in 1960, and one outlier in 1965. So it’s not just none under 45; it’s that only one of them is (now) under 50, and all but three will turn at least 55 next year.

There are currently 18 vacancies for Circuit Court spots, and Obama hasn’t even nominated anyone for seven of them. The Senate is scheduled to take up one of the nominees as soon as they get back from August recess. She was born in 1951.

A little context here…Sam Alito was born in 1950, reached the Supreme Court in 2006 after 15 years at the federal appeals level; John Roberts was born in 1955, and joined SCOTUS in 2005 after a couple of years on a Circuit Court. Sonia Sotomayor was born in 1955 and had 12 years as an appeals judge before her elevation, while Elana Kagan was born in 1960, and of course had not been a judge before joining the Supremes.

The obvious conclusion is that we should expect more varied paths to the Supreme Court in future Democratic picks, at least for now. Well, that, and that the combination of GOP obstruction and Obama’s apparent indifference has really had significant consequences even beyond the obvious ones.

Bank Of America Has Activist Arrested For Delivering Complaint On Code Violations At Vacant Properties

ThinkProgress:

Two weeks ago, the Chicago city council passed a new statute that “will make lenders liable for the upkeep of vacant homes even when the borrower still holds the title.” The law was passed unanimously and will take effect in September. The importance of this new law came into focus last week when two firefighters wereinjured battling a fire that sprung up in a vacant home in the Englewood neighborhood on the south side of Chicago.

As Aaron Krager notes, this outraged activists from Action Now, a local community group. Marsha Goddard, who is a board member of the organization, led a group of five people to a local branch of Bank of America, which owned the vacant property, to inform the bank about code violations that it would be liable for when the law goes into effect.

The megabank responded by having Goddard arrested. Action Now explains that it was not engaging in a civil disobedience action and simply wanted to share the code violations with Bank of America:

Marsha Godard, 52, a Westside mother and account holder at Bank of America, is a board member of Action Now. She led a group of five people into the Bank of America headquarters at LaSalle and Jackson today with copies of complaint forms filled out by community residents who want the bank to clean up and maintain the thousands of vacant properties the bank owns in neighborhoods across the city. Bank of America had refused to accept the complaints, and Marsha had said she wasn’t leaving until they did. They had her arrested immediately. […] This was not a planned civil disobedience action. We had no intention of taking arrests. In fact, we thought we had gone out of our way to do Bank of America a favor by doing the research for them on code violations.

Goddard and her fellow activists are not deterred by the arrest. They plan to hold rallies outside the bank branch every day for the rest of the week and will continue to call attention to dangerous vacant properties that it will soon be liable for maintaining.

Voter Suppression Complaint Filed Against Americans for Prosperity

When Charles Shultz received an absentee ballot application form in the mail on Thursday, July 28, it didn’t take long before he found something fishy with it.

The mailer, sent by conservative advocacy groupAmericans For Prosperity (AFP) to his North Hudson home, included directions to mail the application to Madison instead of his village clerk.

“It seems to me like it was an effort by this organization to delay the process or make the process more complicated,” Shultz said. “And, of course the date of when it should be returned was wrong.”

That set off red flags for Shultz.

The AFP mailer clearly states that he should return the absentee ballot application by Aug. 11, but the 10th Senate District recall election between challenger Shelly Moore (D) and Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R) takes place on Aug. 9.

On Saturday, after consulting with We Are Wisconsin workers based in Hudson and St. Croix County Clerk Cindy Campbell, Shultz officially filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB).

Shultz wrote the following on the complaint form:

I received an absentee ballot request form from Americans For Prosperity. It intentionally listed to return up to Aug. 11. The date of the election is Aug. 9. If I followed their instructions, my ballot would not be legal. I think they purposely intended to discount my vote. I understand such activity to be against the law. I believe I was targeted by this group because I am a Democrat and a senior citizen.

“It is interesting to me that I would receive it from the Republican organization, because I’m a Democrat,” Shultz said.

Matt Seaholm, director of the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity, could not immediately be reached by Hudson Patch for comment. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Seaholm said ‘no (mailing) list is perfect,’ and he blamed the error on a typo.

“I have no way of knowing what’s inside people’s intentions, but you would think if there’s anything you would proofread, it would be the date that you return it,” Shultz said.

Hannah Ledford, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Democratic Party based in Hudson, said “this is voter suppression,” and that Harsdorf, not Seaholm, is responsible for putting a stop to it.

“Sheila Harsdorf and her radical special interest friends are trying to lie, cheat, and steal their way to victory in this election because they know that voters are rejecting Senator Harsdorf’s radical agenda—an agenda that raises taxes on the middle class and seniors while giving tax breaks to corporations. Senator Harsdorf must immediately put a stop to this cynical scheme to suppress voter participation in these recall elections.”

The AFP mailer with the incorrect date was spotted in at least one other district with an Aug. 9 recall election.

The statewide confusion brought on by this mailer, and others, has prompted the GAB to issue a statement about unofficial absentee ballot applications. In the statement, Kevin Kennedy, Wisconsin’s chief election officer, said, “If you need or want to vote absentee, contact your municipal clerk directly and request a ballot.”

 

MEDIA

Pew Center for People and the Press: Number Hearing Mostly Bad Economic News Soars

Negative views of economic news have risen sharply since last month and now stand at their highest level in well more than two years.

Fully 67% say they are hearing “mostly bad” news about the economy, up 18 points in the last month alone and more than 40 points since the start of 2011.

The public’s current views of economic news are now as bleak as they were shortly before Barack Obama took office in January 2009. At that time, 67% also said they were hearing mostly bad news about the economy, but that number fell sharply during the first few months of Obama’s presidency.

The latest weekly News Interest Index, conducted Aug. 4-7 among 1,001 adults by the Pew Research for the People & the Press, finds increasingly downbeat views of news about individual economic sectors – from the financial markets to jobs to real estate.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) say they are hearing mostly bad news about the job situation, while more than six-in-ten say they are hearing mostly bad news about  financial markets (69%), gas prices (66%), real estate values (63%) and the prices of food and consumer goods (62%).

Evaluations of news about the job situation are as negative as at any point since the Pew Research Center first began tracking them in June 2009. Perceptions of news about financial markets are now clearly more negative than at any point during this period.

The survey finds the public closely tracked news about the economy last week, but the top story by far is the agreement by the president and Congress to cut federal spending and raise the debt limit. Nearly half (46%) followed news about the last-minute debt deal very closely; the same percentage followed news about the economy very closely. However, 45% say the debt limit agreement was the story they followed most closely; the economy was a distant second, at 19%.

The debt limit agreement by political leaders in Washington also garnered the media’s attention, accounting for about a quarter (26%) of news coverage, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ).

Other economic news filled 19% of the newshole. News about the Federal Aviation Administration’s partial shutdown, violence following political uprisings in Syria, the candidates for the 2012 presidential elections, and the food shortage in Somalia accounted for much smaller portions of the newshole and garnered less attention from the public.

 

Narrower Partisan Gap in Views of Economic News

Following a week of grim economic news from both Wall Street and Washington, majorities in nearly every demographic group now say they are hearing mostly bad economic news. More than six-in-ten Republicans (71%), Democrats (62%) and independents (69%) say that the news they are hearing about the economy is mostly bad.

Since July, negative impressions of news about the job situation have increased far more among Democrats (up 22 points) and independents (up 25 points) than among Republicans (seven points), who expressed more negative views in previous surveys.

Majorities across all age and income groups also say they are hearing mostly bad news about the economy. And while 72% of those who have been following news about the economy very closely see the news as mostly bad so too do 63% of those who have been following the news less closely.

No Bright Spots Seen in News about Economic Sectors

As negative perceptions of economic news have grown to near record highs, so too have views of news about specific economic sectors. The jobs report released by the government on Aug. 5 showed a modest uptick in employment, but the public’s perceptions of news about the job situation have turned much more negative.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) now say that the job news they are hearing is mostly bad, up from 58% in early June. The percentage saying they are hearing mostly bad news about jobs is at its highest point in more than two years.

Yet there has been even a larger increase in the percentage saying they are hearing mostly bad news about financial markets. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) say they are hearing mostly bad news about financial markets, up from just 40% two months ago.

Negative perceptions of news about real estate values also have increased substantially since spring. Currently, 63% say they are hearing mostly bad news about housing, while 27% say the news is a mix of good and bad. In May, perceptions of the real estate market were far less negative: 45% said they were hearing mostly bad news while 35% said news was mixed.

An exception to this trend is the public’s perception of news about gas prices. The percentage hearing mostly bad news about gas prices is unchanged from in June. Still, 66% say news about gas prices is mostly bad. That is well below the high point in March of this year, when fully 90% reported hearing mostly bad news about gas prices.

 

The Week’s Top Stories


Nearly half of all Americans (46%) say they paid very close attention to news that Congress and President Obama reached an agreement last week to cut federal spending and raise the debt limit. The public followed this news as closely as the budget battle in early April that nearly led to a federal government shutdown. About half (47%) followed those negotiations very closely.

The debt limit agreement was the week’s top story in terms of both interest and coverage: 45% say it is the news they followed most closely. For its part, the media devoted 26% of all coverage to the debt deal.

Broader economic news, including reports about the plunging stock market and the new jobs report, was followed very closely by 46% of the public. For two-in-ten (19%) the economy was the week’s top story and it accounted for the same share (19%) of the newshole, according to PEJ.

The public was far less attentive to the other top stories of the week. Just 3% each say that the candidates for the 2012 presidential elections, the food shortage in Somalia or a partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was their most closely followed story. The 2012 elections and the famine in Somalia each received 2% of news coverage, while the FAA shutdown accounted for 6% of the newshole. Congress approved a measure late Friday allowing the FAA to resume operations and bring furloughed employees back to work. Close to two-in-ten (17%) tracked this news very closely.

The percentage following news about 2012 presidential candidates very closely (18%) has changed little in the last several months, and is on par with interest in election news in early 2007. Republicans and Democrats are just as likely to report following news about the 2012 candidates very closely (20% and 16%, respectively).

 

 

MILITARY

 

U.S. hunts down, kills insurgents behind SEAL helicopter attack.

Slate:

An American airstrike in Afghanistan killed the Taliban insurgents responsible for shooting down a NATO helicopter and taking the lives of 30 U.S. service members, including 22 Navy SEALs, officials say.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the attack – which occurred in the Chak district of Afghanistan’s Wardak province on Tuesday – killed both the man who was determined to have been the shooter and Mullah Mohibullah, the Taliban leader in the area, as well as a number of other insurgents. According to a NATO official, Mohibullah was a “key facilitator” of the Taliban insurgency in the region.

Mohibullah and the man responsible for shooting down the helicopter on Saturday (who was not identified by name) were tracked down after an “exhaustive manhunt,” NATO said.

The attack against the helicopter on Saturday marks the worst loss of U.S. military lives in Afghanistan since the start of the war in 2001.

 

 

 

POLITICS

Liberals Have Been Played for Chumps

Kevin Drum, Mother Jones:

Centrist moderate balanced nonpartisan independent columnist Matt Miller on his irritation with President Obama right now:

Here’s the thing. I know Tea Party Republicans were behind the debt-ceiling standoff that wreaked needless damage on confidence in the United States. I wrote weeks ago of Standard & Poor’s outrageous nerve in threatening a downgrade when America’s ability to pay its debts can’t possibly be in doubt. In short, I know who the real villains are at this volatile moment.

So why am I so mad at Barack Obama?

Feel free to click the link if you want to read more. I didn’t much feel like bothering myself.

Honest to God, Republicans must all be sitting in their back rooms and just cackling like hell right now. Think about it. They developed a strategy to hamstring the president completely — a strategy that’s bulletproof thanks to our country’s Constitution — knowing that it would rally their base but also hoping that it would cause moderates and lefties alike to become disgusted with Obama’s weakness even though we all know who’s really responsible for what’s going on. And it worked! In fact, it’s worked better than they could possibly have imagined. They can probably barely keep from spitting up their beers right now.

We are such chumps.

 

 

GOP Voter Suppression Scams Spreading Fast

The Democratic Strategist:

Katrina vanden Heuval’s recent WaPo op-ed sketches a disturbing picture of Republican voter suppression in a number of state legislatures, an important story that has been bounced to the back pages of the MSM by the debt ceiling controversy. From her op-ed:

In states across the country, Republican legislatures are pushing through laws that make it more difficult for Americans to vote. The most popular include new laws requiring voters to bring official identification to the polls. Estimates suggest that more than 1 in 10 Americans lack an eligible form of ID, and thus would be turned away at their polling location. Most are minorities and young people, the most loyal constituencies of the Democratic Party.

The i.d. campaigns are based on a particularly flimsy excuse, the myth of “voter fraud” as a significant problem in the U.S. As vanden Heuval explains,

…Voter fraud, in truth, is essentially nonexistent. A report from the Brennan Center for Justice found the incidence of voter fraud at rates such as 0.0003 percent in Missouri and 0.000009 percent in New York. “Voter impersonation is an illusion,” said Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center. “It almost never happens, and when it does, it is in numbers far too small to effect the outcome of even a close election.”

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) disagrees. He argues that voter fraud is a serious problem that requires serious action. But as proof, Kobach cites just “221 incidents of voter fraud” in Kansas since 1997, for an average of just 17 a year. As a Bloomberg editorial points out, “During that same period, Kansans cast more than 10 million votes in 16 statewide elections. Even if the fraud allegation were legitimate . . . the rate of fraud would be miniscule.”

The suppression initiatives appear tweaked to fit demographics of different states. As vanden Heuval notes,

In Ohio, for example, a recently signed law to curb early voting won’t prevent voter impersonation; it will only make it more difficult for citizens to cast their ballot. Or take Florida’s new voter registration law, which is so burdensome that the non-partisan League of Women Voters is pulling out of Florida entirely, convinced that it cannot possibly register voters without facing legal liability. Volunteers would need to have “a secretary on one hand and a lawyer on the other hand as they registered voters,” said Deirdre MacNabb, president of the Florida League of Women Voters…This year Texas passed a voter ID law, but wrote in a provision that explicitly exempts the elderly from complying with the law. The law also considers a concealed handgun license as an acceptable form of ID, but a university ID as insufficient.

At the annual NAACP convention in Los Angeles, President Benjamin Jealous underscored concerns about the deliberate disenfranchisement of people of color leading up to the 2012 elections, reports Alexandra Zavis in the Los Angeles Times:

He cited new laws in 30 states that require voters to present approved photo identification at the polls. “Simply put, people who are too poor to own a car tend not to have a driver’s license,” he said…In Wisconsin alone, he said, half of black adults and half of Latino adults are now ineligible to vote because of this requirement.

Jealous also took issue with laws in Georgia and Arizona that require voters to attach a copy of their driver’s license, birth certificate or passport to their registration forms. And in Florida, he said, the establishment of a five-to-seven-year waiting period before felons can vote would disqualify more than 500,000 voters, including 250,000 blacks.

In addition to the i.d. requirements, shrinking of early voting periods and felon disenfranchisement expansion, the GOP is also suppressing voting power of people of color through redistricting. In North Carolina, for example, the Republicans are twisting the intent of the Voting Rights Act to dilute minority voting, as WRAL’s Laura Leslie explains:

According to Republicans, the VRA and resulting case law require lawmakers to create districts with majority populations of minority voters that can elect the candidate of their choice. They argue the creation of such districts will protect the state from potentially costly civil-rights lawsuits.

But Democrats disagree. They say the VRA does not require lawmakers to create such districts, except in truly exceptional cases. They’re accusing the GOP of using the VRA to justify “packing” minority voters into a handful of districts to reduce their influence elsewhere.

In the Senate, where the Senate and congressional map votes were strictly partisan, Democrats accused Republican mapmakers of drilling down to precinct-level caucus data to separate black voters from white ones…Senator Josh Stein, D-Wake, asked why the GOP Senate map splits 40 voting precincts in Wake County alone. “The only possible explanation is that you want to reach out and grab every black person you can find and put them in Dan Blue’s district. And for what purpose?”

The Republican voter suppression initiatives are not unconnected in purpose or timing, as vanden Heuval points out:

What’s worse is that these aren’t a series of independent actions being coincidentally taken throughout the country. This is very much a coordinated effort. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporate-funded organization that works with state legislators to draft model legislation. According to The Nation’s John Nichols, “Enacting burdensome photo ID or proof of citizenship requirements has long been an ALEC priority.” It’s not surprise then, that the Wisconsin state legislator who pushed for one of the strictest voter ID laws in the nation is also ALEC’s Wisconsin chair.

Vanden Heuval quotes Alexander Keyssar, a top voting rights scholar and author of “The Right to Vote”:

“What is so striking about the wave of legislation for ID laws is that we are witnessing for the first time in more than a century, a concerted, multi-state effort to make it more difficult for people to exercise their democratic rights…It is very reminiscent of what occurred in the North between 1875 and 1910 — the era of Jim Crow in the South — when a host of procedural obstacles were put in the way of immigrants trying to vote.”

This is the first part of what will almost certainly be a three-stage voter suppression program. Call it the pre-election suppression campaign, likely to be followed by election-day shenanigans at the polls and then ballot-counting “irregularities” in Florida and Ohio, among other states.

It’s tough to challenge voter suppression campaigns in Republican-controlled state legislatures and state and federal courts. But Democrats should keep demanding that the Justice Department review these laws for compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and have legal teams in place to monitor election-day suppression and ballot counting.

The Two Crises And The Triumph Of Magical Thinking

Jonathan Chait, The New Republic:

This morning, listening to Diane Rehm, I heard the host ask her guest what President Obama should do to fix the ailing economy. Her guest expert tried to answer, but did not point out that any proposal to address the economy would require passage by the House and Senate. It struck me, again, that our political discourse is consumed by magical thinking.

Two large economic problems have dominated the discourse — the Great Recession, and the long-term deficit. Now, one problem right off the bat is that much of the discussion weirdly fails to distinguish between these two problems, or treats any solution to one as mutually exclusive with the other, when in fact we can pursue policies that increase the deficit in the short run while decreasing it in the long run.

But the greater impediment is that we’re roadblocked by political disagreement between different bodies that must agree in order to produce any action. On the long-run deficit, President Obama favors a fiscal adjustment based on a mix of spending cuts and higher revenue, ideally through a tax reform that produces lower rates. Republicans believe that a fiscal adjustment is only desirable if it consists entirely of spending cuts.

On the Great Recession, Obama favors a variety of short-run policies to increase consumer demand, while the Republicans advocate short-term fiscal contraction. They will approve of some policies that increase short-term deficits, but only if those policies contribute permanently reduce effective tax rates for businesses or high-income individuals. Temporary payroll tax cuts no, but maybe yes if they’re paired with longer-term reductions in business taxes or extensions of the upper-bracket Bush tax cuts that increase the probability of making those tax cuts permanent.

I personally have some strong opinions on the merits of those positions. But I’m not trying to argue right now about the merits. I’m merely attempting to describe the scope of the disagreement. This disagreement is the key source of gridlock on both issue. You don’t have to conclude from this that any progress between now and November 2012 is impossible (though I do personally believe that progress is impossible.) It does not require magical thinking to argue for some innovative strategy to break down or evade the gridlock problem. Yet the vast reams of commentary urging action do not do this. They simply ignore the existing impediments to legislative action.

Part of the issue here is the cult of the presidency. We hold the president responsible for everything that happens. The notion that the president and both houses of Congress must agree on most actions in instinctively dissatisfying. And so we think of every problem as a question of “what should the president do.” Layered on top of that is a failure to recognize the deep-seated disagreement between Obama and the Republicans over what we should do.

In the New York Times today, the lead news analysis frames a “A Test for Obama”:

The Federal Reserve’s finding on Tuesday that there is little prospect for rapid economic growth over the next two years was the latest in a summer of bad economic news. One administration official called the atmosphere around the president’s economic team “angry and morose.”

There was no word on the mood of the president’s political team, but it was unlikely to be buoyed by the Fed’s assertion that the economy would still be faltering well past Mr. Obama’s second inauguration, should he win another term.

“The problem for Obama is that right now, the United States is either at a precipice or has fallen off it,” said David Rothkopf, a Commerce Department official in the Clinton administration. “If he is true to his commitment to rather be a good one-term president, then this is the character test. In some respects, this is the 3 a.m. phone call.”

Mr. Obama, Mr. Rothkopf argues, has to focus in the next 18 months on getting the economy back on track for the long haul, even if that means pushing for politically unpalatable budget cuts, including real — but hugely unpopular — reductions in Social Security, other entitlement programs and the military.

We have a couple problems here. First, an apparent blurring between the response to the Great Recession and the long-term deficit. And second, a framing of the question of the long-term deficit as an issue of presidential character. Obama has repeatedly endorsed proposals to reduce the long-term deficit via revenue-enhancing tax reform and spending cuts. Republicans oppose these plans. What else should Obama do? Should he agree to cut the deficit by $4 trillion entirely through spending reductions? Find some previously-unused method to persuade Republicans to alter their most sacred principle? Nobody says.

(Incidentally, we have former Clintonite Steve Rothkopf promoting this “3 a.m. phone call” business. The reference, in case you’ve forgotten, is to Hillary Clinton’s claim during the primary that Obama would be unprepared to deal with a sudden foreign policy crisis that occurs at a moment when he can’t lean on his advisers. The long-term deficit challenge is actually the precise opposite of this scenario — a domestic question that unfolds over an excruciatingly long period of time. The closest actual equivalent of the 3 a.m. phone call was the tip about Osama bin Laden.)

Meanwhile, Tom Friedman writes a column today envisioning a world in which both parties come together. Republicans agree to endorse Obama’s policy agenda, and Obama agrees to admit that he could have explained his agenda more clearly. I share Friedman’s enthusiasm for such an outcome, but I fail to see how this relates to the current impasse.

This is one way in which conservative journalism is actually far more sophisticated than mainstream news journalism. Conservative pundits, while usually slanting their account in highly partisan and often misleading terms, do a fairly good job of grasping and explaining the fact that the two parties fundamentally disagree on the causes of and solutions to the economic crisis and the long-term deficit. In this sense, a Rush Limbaugh listener may well be better informed about the causes of the impasse than listener of NPR or other mainstream organs. The former will have in his mind a wildly slanted version of the basic political landscape, while the latter’s head will be filled with magical thinking.

 

 

Andrew Sullivan: 23 Separate Polls

They all show heavy majorities (most in the mid-60s) in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy as part of a deficit reduction plan. Yet this is the one issue on which Republicans seem determined to take a stand. If the Democrats cannot marshall 2 – 1 support for their policies into actual legislation, they really need to pack it in as a viable party (although one could argue they packed it in years ago).

 

 

The Caucus: House and Senate Republicans Name Deficit Panel Members 

The top Republicans in the House and the Senate appointed six more lawmakers on Wednesday to the bipartisan committee that is supposed to recommend steps to reducefederal budget deficits by at least $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

Speaker John A. Boehner chose three senior Republican House members: Jeb Hensarling of Texas, and Dave Campand Fred Upton, both of Michigan.

Mr. Hensarling, who is chairman of the House Republican Conference, will be co-chairman of the new panel, along with Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington.

The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, chose Senators Jon Kyl of Arizona, Rob Portmanof Ohio and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania for the 12-member panel.

The panel, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, is supposed to come up with recommendations by Nov. 23

Mr. Kyl, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, is known as a staunch conservative who likes to delve into the details of legislation and policy. He is a member of the Senate Finance Committee and participated in deficit-reduction talks with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in May and June.

Mr. Portman, a House member from 1993 to 2005, was White House budget director under President George W. Bush. Throughout his time in Congress, he has worked well with Democrats even as he voted consistently with other Republicans.

Mr. Toomey served three terms in the House, from 1999 to 2005, and later became president of the Club for Growth, which champions low taxes, free markets and limited government.

Mr. Camp is chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which has authority over taxes and Medicare.

Mr. Upton, a House member for almost 25 years, had a moderate voting record on some issues, but turned to the right in his successful effort to become chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The announcements came a day after Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, appointed Ms. Murray and two other Democratic senators, Max Baucus of Montana and John Kerry of Massachusetts, to the panel.

 

 

Grover Norquist endorses GOP appointees to super committee, confident they’ll remain intransigent on taxes 

The Value of the WI Fight

TPM:

There are different ways to see what happened last night. Legislative recalls are extremely, extremely uncommon in the United States. Winning two of them last night was a big victory. Both senators won in 2010 and in the big Obama year of 2008. And the Democrats came very close to knocking off two more. Still, let’s be honest: they wanted to steal away the GOP’s unitary hold on the state government. And they didn’t. They came up short. And there’s a lot of very real and merited disappointment over that.

But it’s wrong to see political energy and resources as finite and something to be marshaled. It’s not a zero sum game. This kind of effort doesn’t take away from something else. It adds to it. It builds organizational muscle. In fact, it’s like muscle. You build it by exercising it. I don’t lose part of my allotment of muscle by doing some bench presses. I build it up. And the exercise itself demonstrates that a political movement can bite back.

In the recent budget and debt battle I saw numerous readers write in to say, Hey, how’d this Norquist guy get all this power? Or, Why is it that every time they can get every last member of their caucus to toe the line? Yes, Norquist’s got tons of cash from various moneyed interests. But his power is based on working this issue for literally decades in out of the way races across the country. Again, building muscle through the exercise of muscle. How do Republicans enforce such crazy amounts of party discipline? Because they have a record of primarying people. And over time people get that message. So yes, the Dems and the unions in Wisconsin came up short. But two Republican senators already lost their jobs over this. And people will remember that.

Politics ain’t bean bag and it also ain’t easy. It takes time. It would be a mistake to see this as a distraction, a big mistake.

 

 

 

Labor and Dems lost. They should be proud of what they accomplished.

Greg Sargent:

[…] But nonetheless, what they failed to accomplish does not diminish what they did successfully accomplish. The fact that all these recall elections happened at all was itself a genuine achievement. The sudden explosion of demonstrations in opposition to Walker’s proposals, followed by activists pulling off the collection of many thousands of recall signatures in record time, represented an undiluted organizing triumph. At a time of nonstop media doting over the Tea Party, it was a reminder that spontaneous grassroots eruptions of sympathy and support for a targeted constituency are still possible and can still be channeled effectively into a genuine populist movement on the left. At a time when organized labor is struggling badly and GOP governors earn national media adulation by talking “tough” about cracking down on greedy public employees, what happened in Wisconsin, as John Nichols put it, amounted to “one of the largest pro-labor demonstrations in American history,” one that carried echoes of the “era of Populist and Progressive reform in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.”

What’s more, no matter how many times conservatives falselyassert that labor and Dems subverted the popular will by fighting Walker’s proposals, in reality precisely the opposite happened.

By staging a fight that drew national attention, labor and Wisconisn Dems revealed an unexpected level of national sympathy for public employees, and, yes, for unions and their basic right to exist. This alone was an important achievement, flummoxing pundits who had confidently predicted that public employeees would make easy public scapegoats for the national conservative movement in dire economic times.

Even if Dems fell short of their objective in Wisconsin, what happened was, in fact, a referendum on Walkerism — one that conservatives lost in the mind of the broader public. Nate Silver Tweeted last night: “Dems would be silly not proceed with Walker recall based on tonight. The results project to a toss-up if you extrapolate out statewide.” I don’t think Dems will go through with it, but Silver’s larger point is intact: Walkerism triggered a strong public backlash that can’t be dismissed and will remain a factor. As Markos Moulitsas noted, the Wisconsin battle enabled Dems to hone a class-based message about GOP overreach that is showing some success in winning back white working class voters, with potential ramifications for 2012. The national outpouring of financial support for the Dem recall candidates showed that there’s a national liberal/Dem constituency that can be activated by Dems who don’t flinch from taking the fight to opponents with unabashedly bare-knuckled populism.

Will the national support for public employees in polls slow the drive of conservatives and GOP governors to roll back bargaining rights nationally? Probably not. Conservatives will point to yesterday’s events, with some justification, as proof that governors might not suffer direct electoral consequences in response to radical union-busting policies. But what Wisconsin showed us is that the broader public simply isn’t on their side. Let’s hope national Dems take heart.

The events in Wisconsin were a blow to organized labor. But the simple fact is that labor and Dems came within a hair of realizing an objective that was dismissed at the outset of this fight as a delusional lefty pipe dream. Wisconsin won’t chasten the left; Wisconsin will embolden it. And those who poured untold amounts of time and energy into the Wisconsin effort shouldn’t regret their efforts for a second.

The Secessionist Looms

Andrew Sullivan:

“I think [Perry] will put Romney in the microwave and turn it up to high. Romney’s been avoiding the heat so far, but not when Perry gets in,” – Mark McKinnon in an interesting piece by Dan Balz.

I find it fascinating that the youngest and brownest of the Bush scions has now endorsed Huntsman. Perry is no George W. He is far further to the right. That’s why one senses he could win this, unless Palin gets in the race. Given their ideological, stylistic and theocratic closeness, she would certainly be a permanent campaign fixture for him. And he is a perfect fit for the current GOP:

“Bush by nature, in Texas, wanted to be a conciliator,” said one Texas strategist, who requested anonymity to give a candid assessment of Perry. “I think he wanted to be somewhat bipartisan. I don’t think Perry’s particularly interested in those things. I don’t think he’s afraid to be partisan. I don’t think he’s afraid to be tough and mean when he has to.”

For these reasons, Perry would be toast in a fairly normal economy. But what we now know is that this will be an election in hard times, with populism and resentment and religious fundamentalism on the rise everywhere. My hunch is that in a Perry-Obama match, Obama would wipe the floor among Independents and those who remember the last president from Texas. But the wild card of recession makes me leery of any conviction about this.

 

 

Where Congressmen Really Go In The Recess

20 percent of the US House of Representatives will be on tours of Israel in the next three weeks. Staggering.

Democrats Make Gains Among Blue-Collar Whites in Wisconsin Recall Elections

National Journal:

Though Democrats failed to gain enough state Senate seats to retake the majority in Wisconsin’s recall elections, there were hopeful signs for the party even in one of the districts they lost. Returns from the recall elections suggest that Democrats have begun to recover blue-collar support in Wisconsin, which cratered in 2010 and will be key to President Obama’s chances across the Upper Midwest next November.

The six state Senate districts that held elections last night broke down simply along one economic measure: according to Census Bureau estimates, the median household income is above $50,000 per year in three districts and below that mark in the other three. Above the $50,000 level, the Democratic state Senate candidates made no gains against the Republican incumbents. But Democrats captured two of the lower-income districts last night (the 18th and 32nd) and lost narrowly in the third (the 14th), vastly improving on Democratic performance in those districts last November, and suggesting the party and its union allies successfully targeted working-class whites in the recall race.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett and now former-Sen. Russ Feingold each ran at about 40 percent in the 14th and 18th districts in 2010. But Democrats running in those districts’ recall elections Tuesday carried 48 and 51 percent of the vote, respectively. Barrett and Feingold did better in the 32nd district, winning close to half of the votes last November, and Democrat Jennifer Shilling also improved there, gathering 55 percent of votes cast. The Democratic Senate candidates all pulled close to Obama’s rates of support when he narrowly carried their districts in 2008.

There were no exit polls conducted in the recall election. But no more than a quarter of residents are college-educated in any of those three districts, and each is at least 90 percent white. Democratic gains could hardly have come from anywhere else but blue-collar whites. By contrast, the Democrats running in the more affluent state Senate districts yesterday failed to improve on the 2010 performance of Barrett and Feingold.

Poor support from non-college whites doomed Feingold, among others, to defeat in 2010. He actually won narrowly among Wisconsin’s white college graduates in 2010, according to exit polls, but now-Sen. Ron Johnson beat him badly, and sealed his overall victory by winning the state’s non-college whites 58-40 percent.

If these signs of recovery among non-college whites are more than fleeting, they will prove important to Democrats’ chances in the Upper Midwest in 2012. A real recovery among non-college whites will be welcome news for Obama and his party this cycle.

 


This is how Tea Baggers actually live

 David Atkins, Hullabaloo:

In case anyone was wondering if there would come a point at which basic reality would send a wake-up call to blinkered Tea Party conservatives, you have your answer in the Great State of Texas. Specifically, the town of Kemp, population 1,133

Water is flowing again from faucets in the town of Kemp.

Now, city leaders hope prayer will provide them with rain.

Water had been cut off in this Kaufman County town of 1,200 since Saturday. On Tuesday night, residents assembled at a local park to pray for rain — a vigil organized by town leaders.

“In Jesus’ name, we will have water and rain, and that all our problems here in Kemp will be solved and managed,” said one Kemp resident in prayer.

Jeff Culber works for the Kemp Housing Authority. In his prayer, he actually offered gratitude for the problems that caused the water shutdown.

“I want to thank You that these water lines have busted,” he said. “It has brought this circle of unity together to come to You and ask You for the resources to fix it…”

“I know that the answer is prayer. And that’s where the rain comes from… He’s the rainmaker,” said Kemp resident Nancy Schoenle.

[…]Thank God John Thorpe has some earthly answers for the town

Their infrastructure dates back to the 1930s. Most of the water system’s 30 miles of pipes haven’t been updated in decades.

It was these old, shoddy pipes that led directly to the water shortage and shutdown in Kemp. The heat wave that has gripped the southern United States for a month now taxed the system, and the pipes, which should have been updated recently but were not, burst. In the past three weeks, there have been fourteen separate water main breaks in Kemp.

[…] The city is currently spending $350,000 to replace 4,000 feet of pipe. That’s hardly going to make a dent in the problem today, and there may not be funding available for more repairs just yet. The city is represented in Congress by a Tea Party favorite, House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling.

Meanwhile, Kemp’s residents are without water in the middle of a non-stop, 100-degree-plus heat wave. While they wait and wonder when they’ll be able to drink again, Kemp’s residents have had plenty of time to reflect on what they learned by the circumstances.

Or will they? The town ran out of water last year, too. They spent three days with the water shut off as officials, once again, prayed for help.


There is no reality that will wake these people up. They will dance to the Tea Party tune right back to the Middle Ages if they’re given a chance, without once even looking back to see what alternatives actual civilization might provide.

If the town of Kemp wants to revert to the era of witch burning and dowsing rods, that’s ultimately their business in a democracy. At this point I’m inclined to say “go for it” and encourage anyone with half a lick of sense to get out of Dodge. The problem is that these people want to shove Rick Perry down our throats, and force the rest of us to jump off the ledge with them while our tax dollars support their unsustainable lifestyle.

There is no compromise with these people. You either defeat them, or separate political ties with them. Compromise isn’t an option.

 

 

 

Rand Paul: U.S. will face London-style riots if it doesn’t raise the retirement age 

 

 

SEIU launching major ad buy to shift conversation to jobs

[…] SEIU is launching a $1.5 million campaign, including TV and radio ads and direct mail, that’s designed to shift the conversation to jobs, and away from austerity, in six key swing states where unemployment is running very high.

The campaign, an SEIU official tells me, is meant to counteract ads being run by high profile conservative groups that are pushing an austerity agenda among voters who are struggling economically — and will pressure House Republicans to prioritize job creation over tax breaks for corporations and the rich.

Here’s the TV spot, to run in Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and Virginia:

[…] Davis acknowledged that Democrats in Congress, too, had been complicit in steering the conversation away from jobs and towards deficit reduction, but said Republicans should bear the brunt of the blame. He said Republicans should be the focal point of the campaign because they control the House and the Republican austerity vision is dominant in Congress right now.

“Rather than creating jobs by cutting taxes on the wealthy and hoping that it trickles down to the rest of us, we want to reframe and present an alternative theory that is more likely to create jobs,” he said. “Record low approval ratings for Congress speak to the fact that folks feel like there’s nothing of value going on here. We want to move whatever needs to move to get jobs created.”

The campaign reflects a sense among liberal groups and labor that deficit mania has hijacked the conversation to a truly alarming extent — lowering expectations for government action on the economy to the point where officials have essentially given up.

 

 

POLLS

More Democrats wanted to see Bill Clinton challenged in a primary in 1994 than want to see Obama challenged now. 

Significantly More Anger Directed Towards Republicans

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll finds lot of that anger directed toward the Republican party.

Key findings: Favorable views of the Republican party dropped eight points over the past month to 33%. Meanwhile, 59% say they have an unfavorable view of the Republican party, an all-time high dating back to 1992 when the question was first asked.

In contrast, views of the Democratic party have remained fairly steady, with 47% saying they have a favorable view of the Democrats and an equal amount saying they hold an unfavorable view.

Gallupnews:Tea Party Sparks More Antipathy Than Passion.


[…] Tea Party Support Dips to New Low

At 25%, overall support for the Tea Party among U.S. adults is similar to the previous low of 26% found in October 2010. Support increased to 32% last November — immediately after the 2010 midterm elections — and held at 30% in January and April of this year before dropping to the current new low.

Overall opposition to the Tea Party movement, now 28%, is about average for where it has been since early 2010, while the 42% saying they are neither supporters nor opponents is a new high.


Bottom Line

The national Tea Party movement appears to have lost some ground in popular support after the blistering debate over raising the nation’s debt ceiling in which Tea Party Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate fought any compromise on taxes and spending. Fourteen percent of Americans consider themselves strong supporters of the Tea Party movement, and, perhaps not coincidentally, 12% of the public consists of conservative Republicans who wanted members of Congress who shared their views on the budget to hold out for a deal they could agree with. That is according to a July 15-17 Gallup poll on the debt ceiling debate.

Along with the decline in overall support for the Tea Party from 30% to 25% in recent months, Gallup finds more Americans holding intensely negative feelings toward the movement than intensely positive feelings. It thus appears that, to date, the Tea Party’s leadership and activities may have been more successful at galvanizing the movement’s opponents than expanding its base of passionate supporters.

Most Americans say U.S. on wrong track: poll

Reuters:

Economic fears are weighing heavily on Americans, with a large majority saying the United States is on the wrong track and nearly half believing the worst is yet to come, a Reuters/Ipsos poll said on Wednesday.

The poll reflected growing anxiety about the economy and frustration with Washington after a narrowly averted government default last week, a credit rating downgrade by Standard & Poor’s, a stock market dive and a stubbornly high 9.1 percent jobless rate.

President Barack Obama came out bruised but relatively intact from the brutal, weeks-long debt debate. His approval rating dropped to 45 percent from 49 percent from a month ago, according to the poll conducted from Thursday to Monday.

But negative views on the economy are worrisome signs as he looks ahead to his 2012 re-election bid.

The poll found 73 percent of Americans believe the United States is “off on the wrong track,” and just one in five, 21 percent, think the country is headed in the right direction.

The level of discontent is the highest since Reuters/Ipsos began polling American public opinion in February 2009.

[…]

The survey of 1,055 adults found that 47 percent believe “the worst is yet to come” in the U.S. economy, an increase of 13 percentage points from a year ago when this question was last raised.

This is the highest measure since March 2009, when concern peaked at 57 percent, at the height of the recession. Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said it reflected “a general sense of unease.”

“A difficult economic situation will create a difficult situation for the president when it comes to re-election a year from now,” she said. “When the economy is bad, people look for a change.”

 

NEGATIVE VIEW OF TEA PARTY, REPUBLICANS

Republicans appear to be suffering the most from the last-minute debt deal last week that was reached only after anguished negotiations between Obama and congressional leaders.

The survey found 49 percent of Americans held a negative view of Republicans after the deal was reached and 42 percent held a negative opinion of the conservative Tea Party movement. Tea Party conservatives stuck closely to their demand that deficit reduction be handled solely through spending cuts and were willing to risk a default to achieve their aims.

By contrast, 40 percent of those polled saw Democrats in a negative light.

lame for the debt deal negotiations,” Clark said.

Obama was viewed negatively by 42 percent as a result of the debt deal, while House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top U.S. Republican, was viewed negatively by 37 percent.

More people surveyed, 53 percent, held a negative view of the compromise agreement, compared to 38 percent who think it is a good deal.

Democrats were more balanced in their views, with 47 percent approving it and 45 percent disliking it, while a majority of independents, 53 percent, and Republicans, 63 percent, did not like it.

“The process was very damaging to Washington,” said Clark.

Americans held mixed views on the best way to stimulate economic growth. Cutting spending, 49 percent, and taxing the wealthy, 46 percent, came highest, followed by investment in infrastructure, 34 percent.

Democrats are urging Obama to shift away from the debate over how to reduce America’s structural deficits and concentrate solely on creating U.S. jobs. Obama has signaled he plans to do this.

“Shift the focus on job creation,” former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson told MSNBC.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll of 1,055 adults, including 885 registered voters, had a margin of error of 3 percentage points for all respondents and 3.1 points for registered voters.

A key number from the new Post poll: Only 26 percent are confident the Federal government can solve economic problems, which could help explain why the idea of further government spending to create jobs has essentially vanished from the conversation.

Still: It’s also worth noting that only 18 percent are confident in Republicans to make the right decisions for our economic future, versus 33 percent who are confident in Obama.

63% Want Super Committee To Raise Taxes On Wealthy: 

WEDGE ISSUES

Obama to host Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan

The error of political prayer

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times:

There are vertical prayers and horizontal prayers. Vertical prayers are directed heavenward. Horizontal prayers are directed sideways at others.

It fills me with misgivings when a possible Presidential candidate warms up by running a “prayer rally” in a Texas sports stadium.

A prayer “rally?” I can think of words like gathering and meeting that might more perfectly evoke the spirit. Prayer rallies make me think of pep rallies. Their purpose is to jack up the spirits of the home team and alarm the other side.

Of course the other side has its own pep rallies, presumably leaving it to God to choose sides. That is why team prayers before a game strike me as somewhere between silly and sacrilegious. No infinite being can possibly care if Illinois beats Michigan. No God worthy of the description intervenes in the drift of a field goal kick.

It is sometimes said America was founded as a Christian nation. It was specifically not founded as a Christian nation, or the nation of any other religion. The founding European settlers were refugees from Christian nations, and had experienced quite enough at the hands of state religions. The separation of church and state is central to our democracy. It is impossible to conceive of any of the Founding Fathers approving of prayer rallies in connection with political campaigns. That is equally true of Fathers who were Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, atheist, deist or agnostic.

The rally convened by Texas Gov. Rick Perry was, like many such meetings, a free concert featuring rock and C&W singers. If prayer and only prayer has been offered, the attendance, I suspect, would have been smaller. Its purpose was achieved not so much inside the stadium as outside–so that they could pray horizontally at us.

Such prayer strikes me as unseemly. Your religion is a matter between you and the god of your definition. The eagerness to convert outsiders strikes me as one of the aspects of a cult. I believe the low emphasis placed on conversion by Jews is admirable. If you want to become a Jew, you go to them. I believe religions should convert by attraction, not promotion. Respect for other beliefs, or the lack of beliefs, should be at the heart of religions.

The separation of Church and State has rarely seemed more threatened. Many political leaders seem opposed to it. Some would translate their religious beliefs into the law of the land. Candidates are being asked to sign a “pledges” designed primarily to embarrass those who do not sign them. A self-respecting candidate would explain that he will make his own pledges, for himself, by himself.

I have not taken a liberal or a conservative position. I have not spoken as a believer or a non-believer. What I’ve written is Civics 101. I wonder that no political leaders of either party have had the nerve to question the rally in Texas.

There are not two sides to the separation of Church and State. There is only this: They must be separated for the health of our democracy. Americans are of many faiths and none. Our laws must apply equally to all. If your God doesn’t agree, does that mean He accepts instructions from you? Are you content with such a God?

AND IN OTHER NEWS…

Making The Shining

In 1980, Stanley Kubrick shot The Shining, the classic horror film based on Stephen King’s novel. During production, the director allowed his daughter Vivian, then 17 years old, to shoot a documentary called Making The Shining, which lets you spend 33 minutes being a fly on the wall. The film originally aired on the BBC and gave British audiences the chance to see Jack Nicholson revving himself up to act, and Shelley Duvall collapsing in the hallway from stress and fatigue. Minutes later, we watch Mr. Kubrick exert some directorial force on the actress, and we understand her predicament all the more.

TAKE ACTION

Progressives Say American Dream Movement Rivals Tea Party

Truthout:

As Americans face the economic fallout of the recent debt deal in Washington, members of the burgeoning American Dream Movement on Tuesday announced the Contract for the American Dream, a new agenda for economic recovery supported by a grassroots movement that progressive leaders say will rival the Tea Party in size and impact.

The contract is a list of ten sweeping policy proposals drawn from suggestions made by 131,203 Americans who gathered online and in neighborhood meetings to discuss solutions to the nation’s economic woes. The contract demands what Democrats conceded in the recent debt deal: investment in jobs, education and infrastructure and higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

MoveOn.org Director Justin Ruben told reporters that most Americans want jobs instead of spending cuts, and the people who contributed to the American dream contract are frustrated with both parties. He said the American Dream Movement has spread from the demonstrations in Wisconsin to a dozen other states where “people are fighting against Republican attacks on the middle class.”

“We’ve been critical of both parties, including the president,” Ruben said. “There is a an enormous opportunity for politicians to step up … because people are desperate.

The American Dreamers are already being compared to the divisive Tea Party that made countless headlines and shook up the GOP in recent years. Like the Tea Partiers on the right, promoters of the American Dream contract said Washington is out of touch with the views and needs of the rest of America.

“Too many people in Washington are giving up on the American dream, but the American people are not,” Ruben said.

Rebuild the Dream President Van Jones said the American Dream Movement is “real,” unlike the Tea Party, which was created with the help from “Fox News and Koch Brothers.” Jones said the American Dreamers are starting out with twice as many numbers as the Tea Party had in its early days, and the broad grassroots movement could “help DC as a whole do a major reset.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) said that she is working with members of the House progressive caucus to advance the contract’s agenda. Schakowsky recently introduced legislation that would increase spending on new jobs and raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but the bills are expected to face strong opposition in a divided Congress.

Schakowsky said the Obama administration has not indicated if it will support the legislation during the next Congressional session.

Small d inspiration 

digby:

These are very tough times and I am starting to see a lot of depression and fatalism and anger from people everywhere. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the left so despondent — and nights like last night in Wisconsin, although heartening in some respects, often make us feel worse because it takes so much energy just to move an inch. But I have to remind myself that it’s about more than just achieving the goal — it’s the process itself that makes you strong.

Here’s a note I got from reader Don P, who sent me the Stagecoach quote last week: 


I know we are in dark times and the nature of the quote was not bright, however seeing that happen was very satisfying and put a bounce in my step. Saturday, when the item appeared in Krugman’s column 
my union voted to approve a contract with Santa Clara County.

I was one of the negotiators and though contract contains cuts to the workers, I feel proud of what the negotiators accomplished. We negotiated from April 29th until 6:30 AM on August 3rd. It was grueling but we kept the worst pain from the lowest paid employees and tried to make the cuts as temporary as we could. We also avoided impasse and a strike.

I felt so incredibly proud that day of both achievements (contributing to your BLOG and successfully settling).

I also wish more people understood how democratic, ethical and downright American union work can be. We worked so hard to get all the voices heard, to discuss all the angles and represent the stated interests of the workers. The negotiation team practically tore itself apart but the sum of all this messy, difficult process was a contract that was as fair as possible under the circumstance. It felt like democracy in action and it gives me hope even in this dark time.

I want to galvanize people and get them involved civically with the kind of passion that the Tea Party has but oriented towards working on constructive solutions to the problems we face.

 

As long as people like Don are out there doing what they can for average working people, I figure I can’t succumb to the malaise that threatens to drag me under. I imagine there was some disappointment in Wisconsin last night that they didn’t take back the Senate. But they won two races — a very difficult task — and I doubt even one of the people who worked so hard to make that happen would give up having had the experience. As Don says, it’s difficult and exhausting, but the real fulfillment is in the doing of it. (And, by the way, practice makes perfect.)

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“It is better to be hated for what you are

than loved for what you are not.”
— André Gide

Written by Chernynkaya

I am an artist and have lived in Los Angeles all of my life, except for a brief hippie period when I lived in SF. I am currently (semi-unwillingly) retired, but have had several careers.

147 Responses so far.

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  1. “Every national church or religion has established itself by pretending some special mission from God, communicated to certain individuals. The Jews have their Moses; the Christians their Jesus Christ, their apostles and saints; and the Turks their Mahomet, as if the way to God was not open to every man alike.”--Thomas Paine

  2. texliberal says:

    You have to live in Texas to appreciate it’s strangeness. I moved here from Illinois 32 years ago. It was a culture shock. A strange mixture of individuality and theocracy. For instance, liquor laws here are very strict, but until 1987 you could drive while drinking a beer.

    Today it’s God, guns and High School Football. While many school districts don’t have enough teachers or books, Allen Texas a Dallas suburb just north of me just built a $56 million High School football stadium. That’s right $56 MILLION.

    The late Molly Ivins once said, “I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults.”

  3. ADONAI says:

    Sue,I bookmarked the link bito posted. If you think it is important that I read it before really making up my mind I will because I greatly value your input. Thank you.

    • SueInCa says:

      Oh and thanks Adonai

    • SueInCa says:

      Adonai
      That is all I respectively ask. I think if you do, you will see things in a differnet light. To my knowledge, Perry could be so dumb he does not even know what he is signing up for. But you can believe those people will be all over the WH like cockroaches if he is elected and he will be helpless to stop them. They DID NOT agree to back him without receiving something in return. They have also been courting Newt, Palin, Bachman and Pawlenty.

  4. SueInCa says:

    Hey I stopped by and saw some chatter about Perry. Remember is article I wrote in 2009? He is part of that 7 Mountains group. People should be very apprehensive about Perry.

    http://planetpov.com/2009/12/20/the-7-mountains-of-influence-in-culture-and-why-you-should-be-concerned/

    These people sponsored his prayer rally last week. Here is another read.

    http://www.texasobserver.org/cover-story/rick-perrys-army-of-god

      • SueInCa says:

        KQ thanks. There is so much more out there on these people. Max Blumenthal wrote Republican Gomorrah which is an excellent read on the “freaks that come out at night” crowd. I found out, though I had a suspicion, that my friend goes to one of these churches. I never would have suspected until she told me she was going to Bethel Church in Redding CA. So I did an internet search on her pastor, Mario Murillo and a few clicks on the internet tied him with this group as well. When I kept seeing her say how revival was happening and she was seeing healing right in front of her eyes, I knew it was a crackpipe religion like this.

    • AdLib says:

      Hey Sue, that article is remarkable! Required reading for anyone who wants to know about this powerful and dangerous movement operating under the radar.

      • SueInCa says:

        Adib
        i thought he did a great job giving a bird’s eye view. I can never be that concise.

      • SueInCa says:

        Adlib
        My grandson’s grandma is involved with these people. I had been meaning to look up her pastor to see wht I could find and I did tonite. By clicking on a church in Washington, I found her minister involved and that church was involved with Bill Johnson, one of the leaders in the New Apostolic Refamantion. Clicking on the internet will bring out all these cockroaches.

        • AdLib says:

          Wow, they are spreading like cockroaches.

          I think it ended up being a good thing that Perry had this rally because it gave a lot of exposure to this dangerous cult, they no longer have the same secrecy that protects them.

          And you bet that if Perry wins the nom, this will be getting a lot of play.

          Wish the nation was like we were all taught in school it was but you play the hand you’re dealt and America is a place where truly insidious groups reside.

    • Emerald1943 says:

      Hi SUE!!! I’m so glad you stopped in! We have been having quite a discussion about Rick Perry and those nutbags that sponsored his prayer rally.

      There are few people who really know about this fringe group, but I know from our discussion last year that you know a BUNCH about it!

      I think it’s so important for people to put Perry’s little prayer “rally” into the proper perspective…it’s not the prayers that are the problem. It’s those batshit crazy people he’s hanging with! Whether he is a true believe is still not known, but his association with these people needs closer scrutiny! Maybe he is just using them and their network to launch his campaign with the evangelicals, but my fear is that they think that they can use him in the White House! IMO, nothing is more frightening!

      I’m so glad you are posting about this as I know how much work you put into this same subject last year. BTW, the C Street gang has kinda’ gone underground of late. Any new news?

      • SueInCa says:

        Emerald he has met with these people and they are the ones who encouraged him to run. They would not have supported his prayer shindig if they were not going to support him.

      • SueInCa says:

        Emerald Not about C Street, but there is always things to look up about The New Apostolic Reformation aka 7 Mountains has been busy. I found some information in the article above that was new to me. It is funny people just don’t seem to want to hear about it or understand it. That is how we end up with creatures like Bush. But I will never shut up about it lol

  5. ADONAI says:

    I’m sorry KQ, I didn’t think the debate was about Rick Perry. I thought it was about “church and state”.

    False equivalency: A comparison predicated literally on duplicity, i.e. on the shifting, imprecise, or tactical (re)definition of a linking term.

    Sorry if you thought I was trying to deceive you. I was not. Thought i was being quite clear.

    Anyways, my argument is that a prayer rally IS NOT a violation of the First Amendment. if people don’t like it, fine. I don’t support Rick Perry because he is a douche,not because he prays.

    **EDIT**

    Also, did you mean a problem is that everyone doesn’t see things the same way? If everyone thought the same that would be a HUGE problem. But I must have misread.

    • KQuark says:

      You brought Perry into this by saying he did nothing wrong. He’s a Christianist who does not believe in the separation of church and state.

      You still fail to realize the damage of Christianists. Well the last president that ruled based on his Christianist beliefs was Bush. His misguided Christianist beliefs by his own words were a big reason he made the decisions he did like start an unnecessary war with Iraq.

      If you can’t understand how fundamentalists are different than other people I can’t help you. You can be devoutly religious like Jefferson was and not bring it into politics. Enlightened people like Jefferson knew religious beliefs and personal ethics were not the same thing.

      Now if you want unenlightened people to run the country that’s beyond my personal comprehension why anyone would want them in power, save for the relatively few that are the same.

      • ADONAI says:

        Well you can’t really talk about Rick Perry’s prayer rally being constitutional without mentioning Rick Perry.

        You’re missing the point KQ. I don’t want them in office but it’s not my call to make. It’s the people’s call.

        And Jefferson’s ethics were based on his Christian beliefs. If you believe he acted differently when in office you are wrong. He was as enlightened as his era permitted. You know what he drew form religion? Slavery is fine because blacks aren’t people like you and me. Women should been seen and not heard. And definitely kept from important affairs. an enlightened man who forced Native Americans off their land and further into decay. He was no different than most of them men of his day.

        And I don’t think anyone is different from me. That’s not a healthy way of thinking. It leads good men to do terrible things.

  6. funksands says:

    If a State is the only thing that can create a corporation, how is it a person?

    A State is not a person, how can it create a person?

    • foodchain says:

      funk, I guess that’d be hanky pank and against God’s wishes. :-)

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Funk it makes sense if you take KQ’s and my theory that Romney himself is not actually a human being. (Well, KQ acknowledges he probably is. 😉 ) Since he isn’t human (I’m going with Replicant) of course he views other non-humans as “people.” Further, it’s a pretty clever strategery: While folks are criticizing him for his “corporations are people too” statement they are distracted from the issue of HIS humanity.

    • bito says:

      funk have you been reading/watching Thom Hartman again? 😉 Bingo, you got it. Where is their birth certificate and who was the birth mother, the name of the hospital and the attending RN and doctor? Does it have a belly button? (that was for you Cher! :-) )
      It can’t exist without governmental action and approval and it can be bought, sold (slavery?)dissolved and broken up into pieces.

      http://planetpov.com/2010/01/24/corporations-are-people-too-by-dr-suits/

    • KQuark says:

      Great point. Funny how right wingers religious views’ never get in the way with their love for corporations when they are the most Godless organizations in the country.

      I’ll add a question for Romney.

      Romney, if corporations are people, how come God does not create corporations? I thought only God could create people.

  7. KQuark says:

    Separation of church and state really has too few laws governing said behavior. That’s how the right crosses the line over and over again. From church bulletins that tell you who to vote for to preachers that call Democrats murderers for upholding abortion laws. The problem is the only remedies are usually taken up in the courts that are filled with mostly Republicans. It’s a viscous cycle that produces a lawless environment when it comes to separation of church and state issues.

  8. ADONAI says:

    Can politicians still go to church? The ultimate prayer rally.

    • SueInCa says:

      Politicians can go to church all they want but their decisions need to be reality based and I don;t want to hear their preaching in speeches either. They need to keep their religion to themselves

    • foodchain says:

      This isn’t about free speech. This is about strongly implied government by religion if elected. This is about selling religion as a platform.

    • KQuark says:

      Of course ridiculous question. But it’s also free speech right to know what church a politician goes to and why. I guess you forgot about Obama’s good reverend and how much the right made out of that.

      Rallies are different because they have a political component and are usual much bigger.

      • ADONAI says:

        Really? Ever been to a church in Texas? Pretty big.

      • ADONAI says:

        I haven’t forgotten. Seems Rick Perry is getting the same treatment.

        • Obama didn’t hold a “public,” prayer rally asking god for a Christian president. Which is what Perry is, in essence, doing. Apples and Oranges.

        • KQuark says:

          Please your false equivalencies are getting annoying. I know you like to challenge the issues and that’s fine. But if you can’t see the absolute damage the religious right has done to this country you’ve lost me completely.

          Have you looked at the Texas curriculum lately. They set back education decades with their revisionist history and anti-evolution stickers on text books.

          • ADONAI says:

            I can’t KQ. So I lost you. I don’t fear religion.

            I don’t care if a state VOTED to put intelligent design in schools.
            I support democracy until that can no longer sustain. And we haven’t reached that point yet.

            I see the damage a lazy, uninterested citizenry has done to this country. And I see the many preachers and pastors who try to comfort the ones that lost everything.

            Not the fake debates the left and right want to have. So be done with me. I shall not budge.

            • SueInCa says:

              Bito I don;t think he is open to reading them. He does not see the danger and that is all good for him. I will never stop hitting on these people though. Someday people will take heed, probably when they wake up being told they have to attend “this” revival church service.

            • SueInCa says:

              Adonai
              We are not talking about a Billy Graham who visits the WH once in awhile. We are talking about a religious movement that wants to take over government and our country to make it a godly country. We are talking about leaders of this ministry who talks about supernatural ministry and declaring they are prophts. They claim they can call things like earthquakes, hurricanes and such on cities that have what they term “ungodly behavior”. A rick Perry can run for any office he wants but when the threat of those people being installed in government agencies is a threat, no he has no business as our President.

            • ADONAI says:

              Sue, I think I am out ahead. If I am a bad person for protecting religious freedom then so be it.

              and I don’t like the phrases I am reading. Like “allowing them onto government”.

              Where’s the end game? barring anyone with religious beliefs from politics?

              People will say that is a crazy leap to make but I would say the same thing about all this.

              And look at Em’s post below. “if they could take power”.

              That’s the point! This is a democracy! I will not support anything that subverts it.

              And if anyone believes they can turn this country into a giant church then they have given up on people. I have not.

            • SueInCa says:

              Adonai
              i read this comment and I am really surprised. I would expect you to be out ahead to get the problem of mixing religion and politics and allowing these people into the government. I have a series here called Coalition of Church and State. Perhaps you would read that and see if it changes your mind? Because they are a great danger.

            • bito says:

              Sue, In the related posts at the bottom, I think the whole series is listed.
              http://planetpov.com/2010/03/27/coalition-of-church-and-state-the-family/

            • Emerald1943 says:

              This comment is meant for KQ but I have no other place to put it!

              You are right. I simply wish that Adonai would read up on these nutbag people who would destroy the democracy, the New Apostolic Reformation. He says he supports a democracy but this is not what the NAR wants for the rest of us. They would take it down if they could gain the power. There is a wealth of information to be found on the web about these people and their insane agenda. I’m a pretty staunch Obama supporter but I wouldn’t want him hanging out with them either!

            • KQuark says:

              Please the only thing fake in this debate is your unending rationalizations to find false equivalencies on ever subject.

              One of the big problems we have in this country is too many people who don’t have the powers of discernment and see everything the same.

              If you really feel like defending Perry I would read up on his whole record then come back and say he’s not a radical right winger.

  9. KQuark says:

    Bob Cesca is one of the few people at AOLHP that really knows who the real enemy is.

    As superlative as that might sound, it’s not quite emphatic enough. The Republicans, inclusive of the tea party, have been orchestrating another economic decline knowing that it will damage the president’s re-election chances as well as the perceived efficacy of Democratic economic policies. Put another way, the Republicans are threatening your personal well-being in order to defeat the president, and they’ve just completed the latest successful attack in their economically bellicose strategy…

    …I only point out the Bush record to emphasize a crucial point in this sabotage argument, and we’ve all talked about this at some point or another so I’m not breaking any news when I repeat the observation that the Republicans only became concerned about the deficit when President Obama was inaugurated. Prior to that, I can’t recall a single tea party austerity rally or floor speech demanding an end to “out of control spending.” But when the president had no choice but to spend our way out of a worsening recession, the Republicans brandished their tri-corner hats and denied they had anything to do with the recession or the deficit.

    • Emerald1943 says:

      Thanks KQ!

      Chris Matthews, as I write this, is discussing this very issue on “Hardball”…that the rethugs are trying deliberately to tank this economy, hoping that if the situation is bad enough by next Fall, Obama can be defeated.

      We’ve all discussed this here at the Planet many times. I was pleased to hear Sen. Chuck Schumer come out and make the accusation against the GOP. But not enough of the MSM have picked up the story.

      I guess our only option is to keep beating the hell out of that drum and arguing with our crazy uncle at family reunions. Making the accusation is no guarantee that the voters will listen or take it to heart.

      Kudos to Bob Cesca for writing the piece…and to you for posting it!

  10. ADONAI says:

    1.)Heard a law professor on the Daily Show last night talking about Senator Franken and how he had, by far, the best idea for dealing with the credit mess. It sounds so simple and easy and that’s probably why it met so much resistance. No surprise Dodd didn’t like it.

    2.)Delta is a terrible airline. Please GOD let them leave. Go suck some other countries money away.

    3.)”And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” (Matthew 6:5)

    And there most certainly is 2 sides to the First Amendment. While you are being protected from the machinations of one religion or another, they are also protected from you. A prayer rally is not an affront to democracy. It is a living symbol of what makes this country so great. The Bible may have prohibitions against public prayer but we do not. If a politician wants to wear his religion on his sleeve we have no grounds to challenge it.

    4.)Can’t wait for the next Tea Party rally. The great speakers, the tens of people in the crowd.

    Hey, American Dream Movement. Aim higher than the Tea PArty.

    5.)”… to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.” —Moby-Dick, Ch. 135

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Roger Ebert said nothing whatsoever against a prayer rally other than to point out that the term “rally” denotes something different than actual prayer. I couldn’t agree more. He never said it wasn’t their Constitutional right to do so, and again I agree. What he did say is that when it is held by a powerful state Governor and Presidential candidate, it comes within a hair’s breadth of violating the founders’ insistence on the separation of church and state. Technically Perry didn’t violate that separation, but there is such a thing as intent versus letter of the law. His intent is without a doubt a blatant disregard for separating church and state and one he will violate if President. This is not a First Amendment issue at all.

      • ADONAI says:

        But “separation of church and state” deals with the legality of a government favoring one religion over another.

        First of all, the words “separation of church and state” aren’t in the Constitution.

        “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

        That phrase was from a Supreme Court case over 100 years ago. Jefferson originally wanted a “wall between Church and State” to protect religion from government interference. Not vice versa. though we take it to mean that as well now, and rightfully so.

        Perry did nothing wrong. People find religion scary. They wanna keep it out of public affairs. Too bad. First Amendment protects it from that.

        If hes’ requiring people to pray a Christian prayer, he’s overstepped his bounds. If he’s asking people to pray with him, he’s done nothing wrong. At all. Or even close to it.

        It exists to protect things we don’t like from us.

        • foodchain says:

          Adonai, help me with this:

          “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

          How is Perry, and others, not attempting to use the power of garnering votes to legislate the establishment of religious doctrine and prohibiting the non-practice of whatever Christian doctrine is these days? Isn’t making religious doctrine an election platform tantamount to it’s establishment as law?

          • ADONAI says:

            FC, If a candidate says he wants to establish Christian law and run the country according to GOD and you elect him, who is at fault here?

            And if he attempts to enforce his dogmatic views and no one points out that it is forbidden to do so, who is at fault?

            The country cannot support any laws favoring one religion over another. the country also cannot prevent people from expressing religious views regarding their politics.

            How do you keep the balance? eternal vigilance. Not flying off the handle over every little thing.

            • SueInCa says:

              Adonai I know you want to think the best about this country but how dumbed down is it already? People don’t research the people they vote for and they don;t do due diligence with the ministers running around this country either.

              It very well could happen that a majority of these people are in all three houses and the constitution is changed, just for this one thing, then oh yeah we should change just this one other thing. Or create a “shock doctrine” scenario and declare martial law. What do you think the debt debate was about? it was a test to see how far they could go. And this country is so weak that the small group of teapers in Congress got 98% of what they wanted. That does not worry you?

        • KQuark says:

          AD Perry is a Chirstianist. All these vial preachers want to have a great influence on government policy (laws) and Perry is joyfully kowtowing to them. So it’s an inherent breach of the separations of church and state.

        • Emerald1943 says:

          Hey Adonai, I don’t say that Perry did anything wrong with his “rally”. Anyone is certainly free to pray any time he wants to.

          My problem is a bit more philosophical, having to do with the people who sponsored and appeared with him. People like Hagee, Mike Bickle, and Bryan Fisher are definitely on the fringes and have their own agenda for the country. These “Dominionists” would relish having a RW Christian under their influence in the White House. These are the people who are actively working to bring on the “second coming”. Their intolerance for any other than white straight Christians is demonstrable in their sermons and writings.

          Some of these “ministers” believe in witchcraft, speaking in tongues, and sorcery…remember the African preacher who prayed over Sarah Palin to protect her from witchcraft? He was a member of this New Apostolic Reformation. Sarah’s church in Wasilla is connected to them.

          IMO, these people are dangerous. They are so far from main-stream Christianity. If Rick Perry is a believer in their brand of religion, then he is the LAST person we need in the White House. Surely he could have found more moderate Christian leaders to help him with his “rally”. I would have no problems with that other than calling him out for his blatant pandering.

          Here’s one link that can give you a little information about the NAR.

          http://www.conservativecrusader.com/articles/damnable-heresies-invading-the-church

          • ADONAI says:

            Em, I understand your point and I wouldn’t want those people running my city, state, or country either.

            But I’m not going to challenge their right to do so either. We live in a democracy and an open society. As long as they don’t advocate public policy that blatantly favors one religion over another I don’t have a problem.

            • Emerald1943 says:

              Ad, that is exactly the problem. They DO advocate public policy that favors their brand of Christianity (heretical, IMO). Their agenda, as crazy as it sounds, is to take over the government of the United States and form a theocracy. They believe themselves to be specially appointed by God to do so and that they are above any man-made laws.

              Also, if I’m remembering it correctly, some of these same guys are involved in the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda. They would readily do the same thing in the US if they had the power.

              The C Street group of religious “leaders” that sit in our Congress are loosely associated with the NAR and Sister Sarah’s church. I will try to find you a few links on this. I stumbled across some of this information last year when doing a little research on the C Street group, better known as “The Family”.

              These are some batsh*t crazy and dangerous people! Not the crowd I want my president to hang out with!

          • bito says:

            The Supporters Of Gov. Rick Perry’s August Prayer Event


            • foodchain says:

              I just keep seeing Warren Beatty as Bullworth. While the similarities end there, I wish he’d get drunk and say what he really thinks of us. Now that’s entertainment.

        • I think religion has 0 place in government, including campaigns. Perry IS walking a very thin line here. America is the land of religious freedom, not the land of Christian dictums. Perry is specifically reaching out to Christians. And what is actually meant by praying for a “better” country? I would like to see his definition of the word “better.” Perry is on a very slippery slope here. It’s not about fear of religion, but fear of religious beliefs seeping into our government processes and legislation.

        • Khirad says:

          I’ll split the difference and say he did nothing wrong but that it scares me, ’cause his intent might be towards the latter.

          I mean, Obama doing Iftar scares the shit out of the GOP, and I love that!

          • Perry’s motives are really thinly veiled here. He is using the religious right as a springboard to launch his presidential campaign. I am so sick of that shit. Especially considering there is no religious test for public office.

            • Khirad says:

              No doubt. But he’s still walking it. Also, the religious test clause is more proscriptive than prescriptive. Just because you can’t be barred from achieving high office for said religion doesn’t mean you can’t totally whore it.

      • Emerald1943 says:

        Cher, I think that Perry was pushing his limits on the separation of church and state thing. He held his little “rally” BEFORE he declared for the Presidency. If he had waited to hold the prayer meeting until after he declared, he would have been clearly OVER the line. There’s your “intent vs. letter of the law”. I don’t think his timing was any coincidence.

  11. KQuark says:

    The Delta CEO is a prime example of how big businesses are helping to stall the recovery, especially the jobs recovery. Big businesses are doing everything they can to collude with the GOP to keep hiring down as much as possible. There simply is no reason they are making record profits and not hiring more.

    Enter Romney “corporations are people (too)”.

    How anyone in this country really thinks Romney will look out for the real people’s interests is beyond me.

    I have a challenge for Romney since he’s suppose to be brilliant with this 1600 SATs.

    Name one corporation that fought and died to defend this country and I’ll even call them people.

  12. KQuark says:

    Andrew Sullivan about Romney “I’ve never met anyone quite like him, both in his aw-shucks affability and a political flexibility that could win him a place in the Cirque du Soleil. There’s a plasticness to him that makes him look as if he is always impersonating a human being rather than being one. Maybe it’s just me. But I find him unrelatable and unlikable, and, for good or ill, that matters in a presidential candidate. If you have no compelling personality and your positions seem both cynically and strongly held, you’re in trouble.”

    No it’s not just you Mr. Sullivan. I said the same thing yesterday.

  13. Emerald1943 says:

    Speaking of morality and the bending of the arc, this story warrants our attention. Warning: There is a very graphic picture of Mr. Kelly’s injuries after he was beaten by the police.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/09/1004875/-Civil-Unrest-OCDA-COPs-not-KillersKelly-Thomas-murder-debacle-worsens

    Witnesses to the beating are coming forward with pix and videos. This is far from over!

  14. AdLib says:

    You know how much my heart is breaking about HPAOL stock plummeting. Poor AOL, a sucker’s born every minute.

    Al Franken simply rocks!

    The story about Kemp says it all, Baggers will be led to slaughter all by their leaders, all the time praising how it’s bringing them closer to God.

    • foodchain says:

      Oh those pesky false idols. You can name it God but when it walks like a …..(trying to be kind)

    • Chernynkaya says:

      AdLib--I posted that just to torture you in particular, frankly.

      That Kemp story was just so perfect. It says it all about how they view the world, their place in it, their values, their stupidity. The only thing it left out is the eternal question of what makes people think like this. And it’s also illustrative of what the entire country would look like under their rule. Three words: It’s got electrolytes.


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