Sunday Morning Open Thread: UMPEECH!!!

new millenium gang signs knight life

(Keith Knight via GoComics.com)
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Well, this should cause plenty of soiled diapers among the stalwarts of the Wingnut Wurlizter. Per the NYTimes:

HONOLULU — President Obama plans to spend the weeks leading up to his State of the Union speech traveling across the country to promote different themes from it, a new approach by the commander in chief to the annual address to Congress.

In previous years, the administration waited until the day before the speech to disclose what the president planned to talk about, hoping that the element of surprise increased its news value and reach. Typically, Mr. Obama went on the road the day after the address, like the two previous presidents, to push his agenda.

But starting on Wednesday, according to the White House, Mr. Obama will begin a three-day, three-state trip in which he will lay out new executive actions and legislative policy proposals for higher education (Tennessee), housing (Arizona) and jobs (Michigan)…

The administration has not said whether Mr. Obama plans to do any additional traveling after the speech. But officials said they had changed their approach because they wanted the president to contrast with, and perhaps overshadow, Republicans, who will be taking over control of the Senate when the new Congress convenes on Tuesday…

“The president is eager to get to work, and looks forward to working with the new Congress on policies that will make sure middle-class Americans are sharing in the economic recovery,” the White House said. “There are a number of issues we could make progress on, but the president is clear that he will not let this Congress undo important protections gained — particularly in areas of health care, Wall Street reform and the environment.”

I believe this will be interpreted by the GOP as “YOUR CHEERIOS, I AM PEEING IN THEM”.
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Apart from donning our political ear protectors, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the weekend / the holidays?



He’s Useful, Idiots

Watching Up With Steve Kornacki because I refuse to watch the bobbleheads and the Cheney tonguebathing, so that means that MSNBC has two viewers this morning- me and Steve’s mom. Both of us want to tell him to comb his hair. At any rate, one large segment was devoted to how mad many Republicans are at Ted Cruz, and Steve repeatedly mentioned that Mitch McConnell, when asked about his caucus and whether he was mad at them, answered with a “wink and a smile.” This line of thinking tracks nicely with this TPM piece:

Other members of the Senate fumed Saturday over objections by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) that held up a $1.1 trillion omnibus bill meant to keep the government open. The objection was fueled by the two conservatives’ desire to fight President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration.

The objections by Cruz and Lee mean that the Senate must slog through procedural votes Saturday on nominees and also vote to end a filibuster on the omnibus bill at 1 a.m. on Sunday.

It was too much for Democrats and even Republicans to bite their tongues over.

The TPM goes on to offer up several sternly worded tweets so as to prove how angry people are at Cruz and Lee and their antics.

It’s all bullocks. The Republicans love Cruz. Notice what really got no attention whatsoever in the Senate? Elizabeth Warren, and something really worth fighting for in the CROMNIBUS, the big giveaway to Citigroup and friends (for a primer on why this was so important to them besides oodles of money, read this– it’s all about the credit ratings). Instead of having a serious debate about that, the conversation tilted to the right on immigration, and the progressive concerns were squelched as the right and center right banded together to fend off the “lunatic right,” and CROMNIBUS was passed and everyone not named Jamie Dimon gets screwed.

Cruz gets attention because McConnell and company want him to get attention, as he shifts the conversation to the right, making the already unpalatable right wing position seem palatable by comparison. You’d think watching how the Republicans did the bait and switch during the ACA debate, always making more and more demands while never being able to find a way to vote for the bill they helped craft would have clued some of our media in.

It hasn’t.



Hard to make plans when it’s impossible to see past your next shift

I’m really pleased this is getting attention:

As more workers find their lives upended and their paychecks reduced by ever-changing, on-call schedules, government officials are trying to put limits on the harshest of those scheduling practices.
The actions reflect a growing national movement — fueled by women’s and labor groups — to curb practices that affect millions of families, like assigning just one or two days of work a week or requiring employees to work unpredictable hours that wreak havoc with everyday routines like college and child care.
The recent, rapid spread of on-call employment to retail and other sectors has prompted proposals that would require companies to pay employees extra for on-call work and to give two weeks’ notice of a work schedule.
Vermont and San Francisco have adopted laws giving workers the right to request flexible or predictable schedules to make it easier to take care of children or aging parents. Scott M. Stringer, the New York City comptroller, is pressing the City Council to take up such legislation. And last month, President Obama ordered federal agencies to give the “right to request” to two million federal workers.

Chaos in families is part of it and that chaos ripples, because the people caring for the children of employees with “on call” schedules also become subject to the needs of the employer. It’s not just people with children, either, and they don’t need to be attending classes or doing something considered productive and industrious to ask for predictability and order. Maybe they just want to have certain planned blocks of time where the demands of their low wage employer are not put above their own needs or desires.

It’s pretty amazing what they were getting away with:

Fatimah Muhammad said that at the Joe Fresh clothing store where she works in Manhattan, some weeks she was scheduled to work just one day but was on call for four days — meaning she had to call the store each morning to see whether it needed her to work that day.
“I felt kind of stuck. I couldn’t make plans,” said Ms. Muhammad, who said she was now assigned 25 hours a week.

They were paying her for one day but they kept her tied up for five.



Beware of Trolls Bearing Concern

On Friday, David Frum, the former GWB speechwriter who invented the phrase “axis of evil” to sell his boss’s pointless war, published a piece in The Atlantic chiding Hillary Clinton for playing the victim card. He cites as evidence quotes cherry-picked from a recent interview Clinton did with Christiane Amanpour and also HRC’s supposed obsession with the non-existent “whitey tape,” as reported by rancid horserace hacks Mark Halperin and John Heilemann in “Game Change.”

The day after Frum’s piece ran, the NY Post released an excerpt of Edward Klein’s “Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas,” a title from wingnut screed factory Regnery Publishing, which publishes titles like “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” by Dinesh D’Souza, “The Case Against Barack Obama,” by David Freddoso and “Crimes Against Liberty,” by David Limbaugh.

In its inimitable style, the NY Post titled its sneak-peek “The feud between the Obamas and ‘Hildebeest.’” It contains stunning insights into the enmity between the first couples, such as that Bill Clinton hates President Obama “more than any man I’ve ever met, more than any man who ever lived” and that when President Obama and Mrs. Obama had the Clintons over for dinner at the White House, the president ignored his guests to play with his BlackBerry instead.

Steve M at No More Mr. Nice Blog reviewed the NY Post preview of “Blood Feud” yesterday and noted that “[w]hat Klein seems to have written is a bad pulp novel, disguised as non-fiction, made up exclusively of right-wing gossip, right-wing talking points, and right-wing punch lines.” He’s right; it’s a steaming load of anonymously sourced horseshit, just like everything Regnery publishes.

I’m not someone who wants to coronate Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee for 2016. I want to see a vigorous debate in the primary that brings liberal issues to the fore, and I’m hoping a viable candidate whose platform more closely matches my views emerges — just as Obama did in 2007 to capture my support. I would prefer that this happens after we retain the Senate and make gains in the House in the upcoming midterm elections.

But damned if we Democrats should allow wingnut concern trolls like Frum, Klein and Halperin to shape our views on any candidate — or anything at all. They are cynical, lying hacks, so why should we believe anything they say? What this recent emergence of high-profile wingnut concern trollery tells me is they think they’ve found a wedge to exploit. We shouldn’t let them.

Like many Obama supporters, I was pissed off at some of the Clintons’ tactics during the endless 2008 primary. But the Clintons and Obamas sure seemed to bury the hatchet and work together after that. Even if they despise one another (and there’s no credible evidence of that that I’ve seen), they made the calculation that working together was the best thing for the party because a feud would play into the Republicans’ hands. It was true in 2008 and 2012, and it’s still true today.

The piece by Frum and the latest Regnery Publishing bilge are cynical attempts to divide Obama supporters from a possible Democratic nominee, just as John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin was a cynical attempt to peel off HRC-supporting Democrats in 2008. It should fail just as hard.



Monday Morning Open Thread: You Go Get ‘Em, Darth

cheney on the ground wilkinson
(Signe Wikinson via GoComics.com)

Epic rant from Stephen Walt in Foreign Policy, “Being A Neocon Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry“:

From 2001 until sometime around 2006, the United States followed the core neoconservative foreign-policy program. The disastrous results of this vast social science experiment could not be clearer. The neoconservative program cost the United States several trillion dollars and thousands dead and wounded American soldiers, and it sowed carnage and chaos in Iraq and elsewhere…

… [G]iven their past failures, what explains neoconservatism’s apparent immunity from any degree of accountability? How can a group of people be so wrong so often and at such high cost, yet still retain considerable respect and influence in high circles? For America to pay the slightest heed to neoconservatives is like asking Wile E. Coyote how to catch the Road Runner, seeking marital advice from the late Mickey Rooney, or letting Bernie Madoff handle your retirement portfolio…

The zombie-like ability to maintain influence and status in the face of overwhelming evidence tells you that F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong: There are in fact an infinite number of “second chances” in American life and little or no accountability in the U.S. political system. The neocons’ staying power also reminds us that the United States can get away with irresponsible public discourse because it is very, very secure. Iraq was a disaster, and it helped pave the way to defeat in Afghanistan, but at the end of the day the United States will come home and probably be just fine. True, thousands of our fellow citizens would be alive and well today had we never listened to the neoconservatives’ fantasies, and Americans would be more popular abroad and more prosperous at home if their prescriptions from 1993 forward had been ritually ignored. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis would be alive too, and the Middle East would probably be in somewhat better condition (it could hardly be worse).

What, if anything, might reduce the neoconservative influence to its proper dimension (that is to say, almost nil)? I wish I knew, for if the past ten years haven’t discredited them, it’s not obvious what would. No doubt leaders in Moscow and Beijing derive great comfort from that fact: For what better way to ensure that the United States continues to lurch from crisis to crisis, and from quagmire to quagmire? Until our society gets better at listening to those who are consistently right instead of those who are reliably wrong, we will repeat the same mistakes and achieve the same dismal results. Not that the neoconservatives will care.

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Apart from trying not to repeat the same mistakes, what’s on the agenda for the start of the week?



Moral Mondays and now Truth and Justice Tuesdays

A reader sent me this:

The Moral Monday movement to protest changes in North Carolina public policy that organizers believe are extreme and hurt the state won’t abate in 2014 and will spread to other states, its leader said. Activists from a dozen states attended a meeting in Raleigh earlier this month to learn how to hold similar protests in their states.

“There is no stopping this deep, moral, constitutional critique of public policy,” said the Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, which began the protests. “It is a must.”

Among those attending the meeting in Raleigh was Democratic state Sen. Hank Sanders of Alabama, where groups were already holding Truth and Justice Tuesdays based on Moral Mondays. Georgia also plans to demonstrate against laws there.

More than 930 people, including Barber, were arrested during the 2013 legislative session as part of the protests as they moved weekly from the outdoors into the Legislative Building. After the session ended, the NAACP held events across the state, including Asheville, where an estimated 10,000 people showed up. Barber, who was convicted of two counts related to the protest earlier this month, is appealing the District Court judge’s decision.

The protests will continue next year starting with a planned march in downtown Raleigh on Feb. 8 and continuing when the North Carolina General Assembly goes back into session next May 14, Barber said.

The Moral Mondays protests will spread to Atlanta when the legislative session opens in Georgia on Jan. 13, said Tim Franzen, Atlanta economic justice program director for the American Friends Service Committee. “A lot of us are looking at it as a Southern strategy, the kind of Southern strategy that hasn’t existed in many decades,” said Franzen, who also attended the December session in North Carolina.

Art Pope is a conservative activist and wealthy donor who was appointed to a state position in North Carolina. Here’s a great piece from 2011 by Jane Mayer titled “State For Sale”. The state that was sold in 2012 is North Carolina. Art Pope bought it.

Since so many of the Moral Monday citizens were arrested there were public records of the arrests and (one of) Pope’s conservative lobbying groups used those records to create a site to smear the protesters. You can look through that site here. Mr. Pope’s employees had a lot of fun posting the mugshots of their fellow citizens on the smear site.

I’m grateful to the protestors but I’m also grateful to Art Pope for creating and funding such a handy site where these brave folks are all listed in one place.



Knows a thing or two about voting rights

Who’ll be the first to demand the birth certificate?

President Obama has nominated Debo Adegbile, senior counsel for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, to take over as head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The former head of that division, Thomas Perez, is now Secretary of the Department of Labor.
While Adegbile served as an attorney for the Senate Judiciary, working primarily on crafting a new Voting Rights Act bill, he’s more popularly known as the lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund who argued on behalf of preserving the Voting Rights Act before the U.S. Supreme Court. Adegbile defended it twice before the high court, successfully helping to protect it when it was challenged in 2006, and again this past February before Chief Roberts’ court gutted the landmark civil rights bill. Adegbile also represented Hurricane Katrina evacuees in a federal voting rights lawsuit shortly after the storm.
“Our country needs someone like Debo with significant experience in voting rights to protect the deeply held American value that each person has the right to a voice in our democracy,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP LDF. “Debo has precisely the type of broad civil rights experience that is required at this pivotal moment in our country.”
Adegbile is the son of parents who immigrated to America from Ireland and Nigeria. As a child he coped with poverty and homelessness before working his way through law school by way of loans, various jobs and scholarships. He is now considered one of the premiere civil rights attorneys in America.