SHAMUS COOKE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Finally, Obama will be delivering real change. But not the kind envisaged by those who voted for him. Rather, Obama's revolutionary change builds upon the foundations laid by Reagan, who drastically altered American society by promoting the corporate sector at the expense of working people.
Obama's State of the Union speech was the culmination of months of right-wing policies that began in earnest after the mid-term election, where his fake liberal garb was completely shed. Now, the naked, corporate President presides unhindered by any pretense to help working people.
And while Obama's policies will be explicitly pro-business, he'll continue to lavish encouraging words to working people, asking them for their patience as he attempts to make corporate America more "competitive and innovative." Obama has made it clear that he believes that job creation is created by the private sector (corporations), which will begin hiring once their profits are high enough. Reagan called this trickle down economics. It remains a lie.
TONY PEYSER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A pink tie? Nice choice, Mr. Speaker!
There wasn't any disagreeing
That this color in your accessorizing
Matched the elephants you were seeing.
To the dismay of groups hoping the White House would take the lead on proposed legislation to ban high-capacity extended magazines in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), President Barack Obama did not mention gun control in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
Even after the National Journal posted a copy of the speech obtained from a Democratic insider over an hour before the speech which didn't mention the issue, gun control advocates were still holding out hope that Obama would go off script.
"He's got a lot on his plate," Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) told me before the speech. "The President is known to speak off the cuff every once in awhile."
"I can understand if nothing is said tonight, but let's wait a see what he says. If not, I'll still go forward," McCarthy.
McCarthy said that if former Vice President Dick Cheney could come out in favor of a ban on high-capacity clips, she didn't know why other Republicans couldn't.
"I happened to be watching when he came out said that and I just went 'whoa.' I mean, Dick Cheney! If he can come out and say it..." McCarthy said. "Unfortunately the NRA is pushing that, putting false information out there and telling their people that if I get this though they're going to end up not having the guns to protect themselves. That's not true."
After the speech, those who supported more regulation on guns had mixed reactions to the White House's snub.
"I wasn't quite disappointed but of course I think it does raise some questions, given what happened in Tucson, whether that's something that should be thought about in some way," Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) told TPM.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), one of the top gun control advocates in Congress, told TPM after the speech that he wasn't disappointed that Obama didn't get around to one of his top issues.
"He covered a lot of ground. There's a lot of promises being made," Lautenberg said. "The interests and the spread of the audience was a kind of a different turn. I think it was helpful in the final analysis, but there was a lot of work that was laid out for all of us."
The more conservative Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) told TPM that everyone already knew what the issues were and that he wasn't sure more gun control should be on the federal agenda.
"If individual states need to strengthen their laws they should do it," Brown said.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) told TPM that Obama couldn't mention every issue on his agenda in his speech, but said the gun control issue was "going to be coming up" in the upper chamber.
From outside advocacy groups, the response was much more damning. The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence issued a statement building off the President's focus on the nine-year-old girl killed in the massacre in Arizona.
"It wasn't the lack of innovation, education or investment, or too many regulations or too much debt that ended Christina's life and her dreams -- it was a clearly dangerous man who had way too easy access to a gun with a high capacity ammunition magazine -- good only for killing many people quickly," Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign said in a statement. "We need the president to push for laws to reduce the gun violence that shattered Tucson, and Christina's family, and that shatters the lives of more than 100,000 Americans every year."
In a phone interview shortly after the State of the Union address, Helmke told me that he was still holding out hope until the leaked draft of the speech came out.
"He managed to work in every issue under the sun except gun violence," Helmke said.
The White House has steered clear of gun control for their entire time in office, even after the shooting. But there was some reason for gun control advocates to hold out hope. MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who had lunch with Obama on Tuesday, said last night that Obama was planning a separate address on the issue of gun control that hasn't been scheduled yet. Helmke said he hasn't heard from the White House about that speech yet.
Florida's new Governor, Rick Scott, didn't follow the law when he ran an insurance company. Why would anyone expect him to comport with a silly constitutional amendment passed by the voters of his state. Rick Scott does what Rick Scott wants:
Two voter-approved constitutional amendments requiring the Legislature to draw political districts along nonpartisan standards could be jeopardized by one of Gov. Rick Scott's first acts.At least someone in Florida is paying attention:
Three days after Scott took office, the state quietly withdrew its request that the U.S. Justice Department approve Amendments 5 and 6 as required under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, effectively stalling their implementation just as a Republican-led lawsuit challenges their constitutionality.
At the time, Scott was recruiting as his top elections adviser Kurt Browning, who actively campaigned against the two ballot measures last year while not working for the state. Browning's spokesman said he had no role in the decision.
"More than 3.1 million Floridians voted for these reforms in November, and your actions seem calculated to obstruct their implementation," said former state Sen. Dan Gelber, the Democratic candidate for attorney general in November and counsel to Fair Districts Now. "Further, Floridians have a right to know why their secretary of state and their governor are engaging in a course of conduct so clearly intended to frustrate their will as expressed at the polls."Seems like Rick Scott is just being Rick Scott. He can't be bothered with annoying laws and constitutional amendments.
I don't even know what to say about this. It's so bizarre, so utterly out in wingnut-land that I'm not sure how to describe it, other than to say it could possibly be the weirdest segment I've ever seen Glenn Beck do.
I could only think of this when he was stroking that bunny while the chain saw was blasting. And this was on during the afternoon here when little kids might see it?
What Anthony Weiner said of Michele Bachmann applies to Glenn Beck: he is clearly not in touch with the mother ship.
Those left behind in the infamous tax-cut deal, the 99ers, now comprise 1.4 million would-be American workers, according to the Congressional Research Service. Other estimates from advocates peg the number much higher.
Ninety-nine weeks is a milestone for the jobless because that's the limit for unemployment benefits (though 99 weeks are not available in all states). Beyond that point, the jobless aren't eligible for much help besides food stamps and charity. The job market for anyone out of work that long is downright hostile.
The 1.4-million figure, calculated using the latest data available as of October, is much smaller than some home-cooked estimates circulated online by advocates for additional weeks of benefits for these "99ers." Some of those estimates are as high as 7 million.
A spokesman for Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) told HuffPost on Monday that the Lee intends to reintroduce legislation to provide additional weeks of benefits, but more help for the jobless seems unlikely to pass a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
The long-term unemployed, as opposed to very long-term unemployed, are people who've been out of work for six months. As of December, 6.4 million people, or 44.3 percent of the 14.5 million total jobless, have been out of work for six months or longer.
The CRS report also showed that older workers are more likely to be among the very long-term unemployed. "Of jobless workers older than 45, 10.7 percent have been unemployed for 99 weeks, compared to 6 percent of workers younger than 35. And 44.4 percent of the very long-term unemployed are older than 45." This cohort of the unemployed is also comprised of all educational levels.
And, of course, as high unemployment rates continue, the ranks of the very long-term unemployed--the 99ers--are just going to grow. For one thing, employment discrimination among the currently unemployed is a significant factor. For another, the GOP House is more interested in kabuki votes against healthcare reform, banning abortion, and doing away with the campaign matching fund--their very first bills--than creating jobs.
A few months ago, ThinkProgress launched a series of investigations into relationship of the right flank of the Supreme Court — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Antonin Scalia — with corporate donors and Republican operatives. In October, we revealed, through a document obtained from Koch Industries, that Scalia and Thomas had attended secret right-wing fundraisers organized by Charles Koch to coordinate political strategy. ThinkProgress has now discovered more events attended by conservative Supreme Court justices.
The Manhattan Institute, funded by major corporations like CIGNA, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil, is a conservative think tank in New York that produces right-wing policy papers as well as sponsoring speeches for judges and Republican politicians. In 2008, Justice Thomas headlined the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lecture; last October, Justice Alito was the headline speaker for the same event. According to the Manhattan Institute’s website, an individual must contribute between $5,000 to $25,000 to attend the Wriston Lecture. “To be invited to the Wriston Lecture,” Debbie Ezzard, a development official at the Manhattan Institute told ThinkProgress, “you have to give $5,000.”
During the question and answer period of the Wriston Lecture, Roger Hertog, a major neoconservative donor, asked Alito if he would attend the 2011 State of the Union. Ironically, Alito — while speaking at a political fundraiser filled with powerful conservative donors — said he would avoid the event because it has “become very political”:
HERTOG: My question has nothing to do with judicial philosophy. It’s a more mundane question. It’s a calendar question. Will you attend the State of the Union this year?
ALITO: I said in my talk that judges learn primarily from experience, and I’ve found the example of those with greater experience. For many years, the more senior members of the Supreme Court — Justice Stevens before he retired, Justice Scalia — stopped the practice of attending State of the Union addresses because they have become very political events and they’re very awkward for the justices. We have to sit there like the proverbial plotted plant most of the time and we’re not allowed to applaud or those of us who are more disciplined refrain from manifesting any emotion or opinion whatsoever.
Scalia, Thomas, and Alito ultimately refused to attend the SOTU last night. At the end of his question and answer period during the Wriston Lecture, Thomas pledged to the room of donors to meet with them on a more informal basis whenever they visit Washington, DC.
Notably, both Thomas and Alito were introduced at the Manhattan Institute by its chairman, Paul Singer. Singer is the manager of one of the nation’s largest hedge funds, Elliott Management, and has been one of the largest contributors to the Republican Party and conservative causes in recent years. An opponent of financial regulations, Singer’s hedge fund contributed 96% of Rep. Scott Garrett’s (R-NJ) campaign committee. Garrett is the new subcommittee chairman overseeing hedge funds, including regulations passed by Democrats last year which will affect Singer’s firm.
Singer is also a “seven figure” contributor to Crossroads GPS, a front group managed by Karl Rove that has taken advantage of the new campaign finance landscape post-Citizens United. As ThinkProgress has reported, it’s not the first time Alito or Thomas has headlined a political fundraiser with corporate donors:
– In November, shortly after his Manhattan Institute fundraising appearance, ThinkProgress interviewed Justice Alito as he entered the annual fundraising gala for the American Spectator, attended by then-RNC Chairman Michael Steele and top Republican donors. Alito told us that his attendance to the fundraiser was “not important.” However, as we noted, Alito was the main draw for donors when he headlined the same event in 2008. The American Spectator is nominally a magazine; in the 90s, it served as a slush fund for wealthy donors to pay opponents of President Clinton, and recently, it organized a lobby group called the “Conservative Action Project” to orchestrate opposition to President Obama.
– In 2009, while the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the Citizens United case, Justice Thomas was featured at the annual fundraiser for the Heritage Foundation — and sat at a table for donors with investment banker Thomas Saunders and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). After the Citizens United decision, Heritage created a new nonprofit called “Heritage Action” to run attack ads against Democrats.
– In 2009, while the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the Citizens United case, Justice Alito headlined a fundraiser for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) ? the same corporate front that funded the rise of Republican dirty trickster James O?Keefe and anti-masturbation activist Christine O?Donnell. According to the sponsorship levels for the event, Alito helped ISI raise $70,000 or more from law firms like Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP. ISI is run partially by lobbyist James Burnley, who also is on the board of FreedomWorks.
– Last year, Justice Thomas helped headline a fundraiser for the National Association of Broadcasters, a lobby group representing News Corp, Cox Media Group, and other media companies. The event raised hundreds of thousands for NAB’s charity from a host of corporate sponsors, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, PhRMA, and CBS Corp.
Pursuant to our reporting, the good government group Common Cause found that Thomas had also failed to report more than $686,000 in income from his wife on his ethics disclosure forms. Monday evening, Thomas filed letters with the Supreme Court amending the gap in disclosure.
Let's see if this describes your investing during the past few years:
In 2008, you got out of the market, but only after your retirement account lost 35%. . . . → Full Story: How to Earn 26.5% on $20,000
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Boeing (NYSE:BA) said Wednesday its fourth-quarter earnings fell 8% to $1.16 billion, or $1.56 a share, from $1.27 billion, or $1.75 a share, in they year-ago period. Revenue fell . . . → Full Story: Market Update: Boeing (NYSE:BA), Toyota Motor (NYSE:TM), Xerox (NYSE:XRX)
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