03/03/2013 archive

A Troll and an Idiot

Two weeks of vacation start tonight, I’ll be hosting a repeat on Daily Kos @ 10:55.- ek

Scalia: Voting Rights Act Is ‘Perpetuation Of Racial Entitlement’

By Nicole Flatow and Ian Millhiser, Think Progress

Feb 27, 2013 at 11:52 am

The problem here, however, is suggested by the comment I made earlier, that the initial enactment of this legislation in a – in a time when the need for it was so much more abundantly clear was – in the Senate, there – it was double-digits against it. And that was only a 5-year term.

Then, it is reenacted 5 years later, again for a 5-year term. Double-digits against it in the Senate. Then it was reenacted for 7 years. Single digits against it. Then enacted for 25 years, 8 Senate votes against it. And this last enactment, not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same. Now, I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.

I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless – unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution. You have to show, when you are treating different States differently, that there’s a good reason for it.

That’s the – that’s the concern that those of us who – who have some questions about this statute have. It’s – it’s a concern that this is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress. There are certain districts in the House that are black districts by law just about now. And even the Virginia Senators, they have no interest in voting against this. The State government is not their government, and they are going to lose – they are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act.

Even the name of it is wonderful: The Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?

Massachusetts official challenges Chief Justice Roberts’ claim about voting

By Akilah Johnson, Boston Globe Staff

February 28, 2013

“Do you know which state has the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African-American voter turnout?” Roberts asked Donald Verrilli Jr., solicitor general for the Department of Justice, during Wednesday’s arguments.

“I do not know that,” Verrilli answered.

“Massachusetts,” Roberts responded, adding that even Mississippi has a narrower gap.

Roberts later asked if Verrilli knew which state has the greatest disparity in registration. Again, Roberts said it was Massachusetts.

The problem is, Roberts is woefully wrong on those points, according to Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin, who on Thursday branded Roberts’s assertion a slur and made a declaration of his own. “I’m calling him out,” Galvin said.

Galvin was not alone in his view. Academics and Massachusetts politicians said that Roberts appeared to be misguided. A Supreme Court spokeswoman declined to offer supporting evidence of ­Roberts’s view, referring a ­reporter to the court transcript.

Rant of the Week: Melissa Harris Perry

Voting is no ‘racial entitlement,’ Justice Scalia

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could mean the end of a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. At the heart of the case is the question of whether states with a long history of racial discrimination must still get permission from the Justice Department before changing their voting laws.

We’ll have to wait until summer for the Court’s decision. But we can take a pretty good guess about what one of the justices thinks about the VRA right now. In comments that drew gasps from lawyers listening in at the Court, he made no secret of his feelings about the law.

On This Day In History March 3

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

March 3 is the 62nd day of the year (63rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 303 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1887, Anne Sullivan begins teaching six-year-old Helen Keller, who lost her sight and hearing after a severe illness at the age of 19 months. Under Sullivan’s tutelage, including her pioneering “touch teaching” techniques, the previously uncontrollable Keller flourished, eventually graduating from college and becoming an international lecturer and activist. Sullivan, later dubbed “the miracle worker,” remained Keller’s interpreter and constant companion until the older woman’s death in 1936.

Sullivan, age 20, arrived at Ivy Green, the Keller family estate, in 1887 and began working to socialize her wild, stubborn student and teach her by spelling out words in Keller’s hand. Initially, the finger spelling meant nothing to Keller. However, a breakthrough occurred one day when Sullivan held one of Keller’s hands under water from a pump and spelled out “w-a-t-e-r” in Keller’s palm. Keller went on to learn how to read, write and speak. With Sullivan’s assistance, Keller attended Radcliffe College and graduated with honors in 1904.

Helen Keller became a public speaker and author; her first book, “The Story of My Life” was published in 1902. She was also a fundraiser for the American Foundation for the Blind and an advocate for racial and sexual equality, as well as socialism. From 1920 to 1924, Sullivan and Keller even formed a vaudeville act to educate the public and earn money. Helen Keller died on June 1, 1968, at her home in Westport, Connecticut, at age 87, leaving her mark on the world by helping to alter perceptions about the disabled.

Great Minds, and so do ours

I’ve had the opportunity to meet some other writers that should impress you if you’re paying attention at all and one of them is Gaius Publius who writes this today-

Obama economic adviser: Using the sequester to cut benefits was "part of the DNA from the start"

by Gaius Publius, Americablog

3/3/2013 10:00am

We now have stunning confirmation that Obama is using the sequester “battle” as blackmail to get his Grand Bargain (Grand Betrayal) passed – and that “entitlement” benefit cuts are, and always were, part of the plan. It could not be more clear.

Barack Obama wants to cut entitlements, and he’s using the sequester to do it. This, and no other reason, is why the sequester is happening.

The person who made the statement quoted in my headline – that cutting entitlements is “in the DNA” of the sequester – is Gene Sperling, a “top economic aide” to Barack Obama, and someone who knows what he’s talking about.

Why Obama Refuses to Kill the Sequester

Bill, Black, Naked Captalism

Monday, February 25, 2013

I wrote last year about the fact that President Obama had twice blocked Republican efforts to remove the Sequester. President Obama went so far as to issue a veto threat to block the second effort. I found contemporaneous reportage on the President’s efforts to preserve the Sequester – and the articles were not critical of those efforts. I found no contemporaneous rebuttal by the administration of these reports.

I raised the President’s efforts to save the Sequester because they revealed his real preferences. Those of us who teach economics explain to our students that what people say about their preferences is not as reliable as how they act. Their actions reveal their true preferences. President Obama has always known that the Sequester is terrible public policy. He has blasted it as a “manufactured crisis.”

When he acted to save the Sequester, Obama proved that he preferred the Sequester to the alternative. When the alternative threatened by the Republicans was causing a default on the U.S. debt (by refusing to increase the debt limit), one could understand Obama’s preference (though even there I would have called the Republican bluff). The Republicans, however, had extended the debt limit in both of the cases that President Obama acted to save the Sequester in 2011.

Similarly, President Obama has revealed his real preferences in the current blame game by not calling for a clean bill eliminating the Sequester. It is striking that as far as I know (1) neither Obama nor any administration official has called for the elimination of the Sequester and (2) we have a fairly silly blame game about how the Sequester was created without discussing the implications of Obama’s continuing failure to call for the elimination of the Sequester despite his knowledge that it is highly self-destructive.

The only logical inference that can be drawn is that Obama remains committed to inflicting the “Grand Bargain” (really, the Grand Betrayal) on the Nation in his quest for a “legacy” and continues to believe that the Sequester provides him the essential leverage he feels he needs to coerce Senate progressives to adopt austerity, make deep cuts in vital social programs, and to begin to unravel the safety net. Obama’s newest budget offer includes cuts to the safety net and provides that 2/3 of the austerity inflicted would consist of spending cuts instead of tax increases. When that package is one’s starting position the end result of any deal will be far worse.

Gaius again-

Obama wants the Grand Betrayal to be his legacy. Give it to him. Everyone reading this has some “reach” – some group of people you influence. Every time you talk about Obama, tell just tell the truth.

“Barack Obama wants to cut Social Security and Medicare. He’s tried it every time these phony crises come along. He just needs Republican tax hikes to hide the knife.”

In other words, rebrand him; paint him with the truth. Don’t hide it from yourself; don’t hide it from your friends. At some point, the new paint will stick. But for that to happen, we must persist.

I also recently had a chat with lambert strether of Corrente and Naked Capitalism and one of his major topics was rebranding.  Well, here’s the issue.

As much as I think other little things like War Crimes, Global Warming, and stuff are equally important indictments of current government policies; Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are supported by 90%! majorities.

The outcry against this must be as strong by true leftists (progressive is what liberals call themselves because they’re weak and ashamed and cowardly, and Democratic is merely a party of convenience rapidly compromising themselves into irrelevance) as it was against W.

Or are you just a tribalist celebrity suck up with no principles you’re not willing to sellout for an insincere smile?  History and voters will punish you.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Chris Hayes: Joining Chris will be: Josh Barro (@jbarro), lead writer for Bloomberg View‘s “The Ticker”; Mattie Duppler (@MDuppler), director of budget & regulatory policy for Americans for Tax Reform; Jim Antle (@jimantle), editor of the Daily Caller News Foundation, senior editor of The American Spectator; Stephanie Kelton (@deficitowl), chair of the department of economics at University of Missouri-Kansas City, contributor to New Economic Perspectives; Bryan Stevenson, founder & executive Director of Equal Justice Initiative, professor at New York University School of Law; Liz Mair (@LizMair), former online communications director for the Republican National Committee, political strategist & media adviser, founder & president of Mair Strategies; David Sirota (@davidsirota), contributor to Salon.com, author of “Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now-Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything“; Roberto Lovato (@robvato), writer for New American Media, contributor to The Nation, senior strategy fellow for Citizen Engagement Lab; and Jared Bernstein (@econjared), former chief economist & economic policy advisor to Vice President Biden (2009-2011), senior fellow at the Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, MSNBC contributor.

This Week with George Stephanopolis: Guests White House economic adviser Gene Sperling and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) speak to George Stephanopoulos about what comes next in the battle over the budget, Sunday on “This Week.”

The roundtable debates the budget showdown and all the week’s politics, with ABC News’ Matthew Dowd and Cokie Roberts; Democratic strategist James Carville; Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot; and Mia Love, Republican mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will appear this Sunday on “Face the Nation,” along with Cardinal Timothy Dolan and a politics roundtable with the Washington Post‘s Bob Woodward, the New York TimesDavid Sanger, Time Magazine‘s Rana Foroohar and CBS News’ John Dickerson.

The Chris Matthews Show: This week’s guests are Howard Fineman, The Huffington Post Senior Political Editor; Katty Kay, BBC Washington Correspondent; Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent; and Errol Louis, NY1 Inside City Hall.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: On this Sunday’s MTP  Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) sits down for an exclusive interview and explains why he believes the House has done its job to stop the impending sequester. The Washington Post‘s Bob Woodward will discuss his reporting on the administration and his clash with National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling.

The roundtable will break it all down with guests: Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID); columnist for the Washington Post Kathleen Parker; Managing Editor of TheGrio.com Joy Reid; NBC Chief White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd and NBC Special Correspondent Tom Brokaw.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: This Sunday, Ms. Crowley’s guests are Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); White House Economic Director Gene Sperling; Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR).

Her panel Stephen Moore from the Wall Street Journal, USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page, and Mark Zandi from Moody’s Analytics will look at how Washington gridlock will affect the economy.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

‘A concentration camp for little boys’: Dark secrets unearthed in KKK county

Excavators discover 50 bodies buried in the grounds of a boys’ borstal, which was only shut in 2010


For years, almost no one at the Dozier School even knew about the burial ground in a clearing in the woods on the edge of campus. It was forbidden territory. The soil here, churned in places by tiny ants, holds more than the remains of little boys. Only now is it starting to give up its dark secrets: horror stories of state-sanctioned barbarism, including flogging, sexual assault and, possibly, murder.

That the Arthur G Dozier School – a borstal for delinquent boys founded in 1900 – was not a gentle place was well-established. Boys as young as six were chained to walls, lashings with a leather strap were frequent and, in the early decades, children endured enforced labour, making bricks and working printing presses. When it was closed in 2011, it had already been the subject of separate federal and state investigations.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Chadian army chief claims troops killed al-Qaida terrorist behind Algeria plant attack

Three sisters raped and murdered: the tragedy that engulfed an Indian village

Kenya’s neighbors apprehensive as polls near

Hamas leader plays to win

Analysis: Castro brothers’ successor may inherit a very different Cuba

What We Now Know

In this weeks “Now We Know” segment, Up with Chis Hayes host Chris Hayes notes a new study from Brandeis that shows how the wealth gap between black people and white people in American has not only remained vast, but has grown massively over the last quarter century. Discussing what they have learned this week with Chris are Saru Jayaraman, author of “Behind the Kitchen Door,” co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Center; Andrew Moesel, spokesperson for the New York State Restaurant Association; Victoria Bruton, restauarant worker and member of Restaurant Opportunities Center; and Tom Colicchio, renowned chef, executive producer of the new documentary “A Place at the Table.”

Study shows racial wealth gap continues to widen

by Christine Dugas, USA Today

Years after the civil rights movement, racial inequality continues to deepen.

The wealth gap between white and African-American families has nearly tripled over 25 years, according to a study (pdf) released today by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University. [..]

Many Americans still believe that racial inequality is related to individual behavior, choices, character, marriage and child bearing, says Thomas Shapiro, IASP director. But homeownership has been the biggest cause of racial wealth disparity, followed by income, the study found. In the past 25 years, education has failed to be the great equalizer that many expected.

Sequestration Repeal Pushed By Progressive House Democrats

by Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced a one-sentence bill on Thursday entitled the “Cancel the Sequester Act of 2013,” which would eliminate the $85 billion in cuts looming at week’s end as part of the $1.2 trillion in defense and non-defense cuts that Congress imposed on itself over the next decade with the Budget Control Act of 2011. According to Conyers’ office, Reps. Sheila Lee Jackson (D-Texas) and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) will co-sponsor the repeal bill, and many members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are expected to follow suit.

“If Congress can’t or won’t come together to craft bipartisan agreement, I believe we have a duty to avert these catastrophic cuts by any means necessary,” Conyers told HuffPost in an email. The repeal bill “would give the leaders of both parties the time needed to reach some consensus on budget issues without forcing the average American to pay the price for Washington’s dysfunction.”

State Department Paves Way for Keystone XL Approval, Ignores Reality of Climate Change Impacts

by Gabe Elsner

This afternoon, the State Department released its Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on the controversial Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, claiming that the pipeline will “not likely result in significant adverse environmental effects.” The SEIS paves the way for President Obama’s approval of the pipeline despite widespread concern over the climate impacts of tar sands oil.

The State Department assessment does acknowledge that excavation of the Canadian tar sands oil would result in 17 percent more climate change emissions than the average barrel of heavy crude oil. But the report continues to say that the KXL pipeline would have no adverse impact on climate change because if the pipeline were not approved, companies would ship tar sands oil via railroad.

Christie Says He’ll Take U.S. Money to Expand Medicaid

by Kate Zernike, The New York Times

Gov. Chris Christie, one of the most strident Republican critics of President Obama’s health care overhaul, announced on Tuesday that he would accept federal money to expand the Medicaid program in New Jersey.

The expansion, which the governor described in his annual budget address to the Legislature, would provide health insurance to 104,000 of the poorest 1.3 million residents currently living without it, though some groups say the number could be higher.

Mr. Christie emphasized that it was a financial decision, not a philosophical shift; if New Jersey did not take the money, he said, the federal government would give it to other states.

Taliban Attacks Drop Reported By ISAF Was Incorrect

by Robert Burns, Huffington Post

In response to Associated Press inquiries about its latest series of statistics on security in Afghanistan, the coalition command in Kabul said it had erred in reporting a 7 percent decline in attacks. In fact there was no decline at all, officials said.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is among the senior officials who had publicly repeated the assertion of an encouraging drop-off in Taliban attacks last year, was disturbed to learn of the error, said his spokesman, George Little.

“This particular set of metrics doesn’t tell the full story of progress against the Taliban, of course, but it’s unhelpful to have inaccurate information in our systems,” Little said.

Covert Malaysian Campaign Touched A Wide Range Of American Media

Outlets from Huffington Post to National Review carried pieces financed by the Malaysian government. An international campaign against Anwar Ibrahim.

A range of mainstream American publications printed paid propaganda for the government of Malaysia, much of it focused on the campaign against a pro-democracy figure there.

The payments to conservative American opinion writers – whose work appeared in outlets from the Huffington Post and San Francisco Examiner to the Washington Times to National Review and RedState – emerged in a filing this week to the Department of Justice. The filing (pdf) under the Foreign Agent Registration Act outlines a campaign spanning May 2008 to April 2011 and led by Joshua Trevino, a conservative pundit, who received $389,724.70 under the contract and paid smaller sums to a series of conservative writers.


In Memoriam: Van Cliburn 1934 – 2013

Pianist Van Cliburn died February 27 in Fort Worth, TX after a long battle with bone cancer. Harvey Lavan “Van” Cliburn, Jr. was an American pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958 at the age of 23, when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow at the height of the Cold War.


It was his recognition in Moscow that propelled Cliburn to international fame. The first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 was an event designed to demonstrate Soviet cultural superiority during the Cold War, on the heels of their technological victory with the Sputnik launch in October 1957. Cliburn’s performance at the competition finale of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 earned him a standing ovation lasting eight minutes.

When it was time to announce a winner, the judges were obliged to ask permission of the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to give first prize to an American. “Is he the best?” Khrushchev asked. “Then give him the prize!”

Cliburn returned home to a ticker-tape parade in New York City, the only time the honor has been accorded a classical musician. His cover story in Time proclaimed him “The Texan Who Conquered Russia”.

Blessed Be. The Wheel Turns