Posts Tagged ‘article


rise and shine

Steve Benen: There were modest expectations for the new jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and in this case, the economy met them. A net total of 120,000 jobs were created in November, which is just about what economists and analysts said would happen. The same report showed the overall unemployment rate dropping from 9% to 8.6%.

As is always the case, there was a significant gap between the private and public sectors. Businesses added 140,000 jobs last month, while budget cuts forced the public sector to shed 20,000 jobs, which continues to be a major drag on the overall employment picture.

Republican policymakers, it’s worth noting, are eager to force more public-sector layoffs, making the jobs landscape worse on purpose, while Democrats have fought to do the opposite.

Full post here

Steven Walker


President Barack Obama shows military officials the White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room following a meeting, Dec. 1. The 18-foot-6 inch balsam fir is decorated with holiday cards created by military children and ornaments featuring medals, badges, and patches from all of the military branches. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


White House Live



USA Today: Later this morning, President Obama and former president Bill Clinton will take a tour of a building blocks away from the White House and announce a $4 billion initiative to improve the energy efficiency of government and private-sector buildings. Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks to reporters after the tour.


Steve Benen: The Senate held two votes on extending a payroll tax cut for more than 160 million Americans, most of whom are middle class. As expected, Republicans killed them both. What was unexpected, though, was the vote totals on the proposals.

First up was the Democratic plan, which would have kept the payroll break in place for another year, and pay for it with a slight surtax on millionaires and billionaires. A 51-member Senate majority supported the bill, but that was far short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster. It’s worth noting that one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine, broke ranks and supported the Dems’ proposal….

…. What was just as interesting was the next vote, when the Senate considered the GOP alternative, which would also keep the payroll break in place, but pay for it largely through a pay freeze on federal workers …. it was rejected 78 to 20, with more than half of Republicans opposed. Yep, most Republican senators opposed their own party’s legislation….

Full post here


Spiegel: The US Republican race is dominated by ignorance, lies and scandals. The current crop of candidates have shown such a basic lack of knowledge that they make George W. Bush look like Einstein. The Grand Old Party is ruining the entire country’s reputation.

Africa is a country. In Libya, the Taliban reigns. Muslims are terrorists; most immigrants are criminal; all Occupy protesters are dirty. And women who feel sexually harassed – well, they shouldn’t make such a big deal about it.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the US Republicans. Or rather, to the twisted world of what they call their presidential campaigns. For months now, they’ve been traipsing around the country with their traveling circus, from one debate to the next, one scandal to another, putting themselves forward for what’s still the most powerful job in the world.

As it turns out, there are no limits to how far they will stoop.

Full article here

Thanks JER



Sacbee: President Barack Obama, who is a fervent basketball fan, will get his NBA fix next month but his campaign will have to postpone the Obama Classic fundraiser that was to feature more than two dozen professional basketball stars.

The campaign on Thursday notified ticket holders the Dec. 12 event would now be held in the summer.

The fundraising all-star game was planned while a lockout put the NBA season in jeopardy, and top players had committed to play. But team owners and players reached an agreement and games are set to begin on Christmas Day.



Washington Post: There’s little doubt President Barack Obama has won high esteem among Native Americans by breaking through a logjam of inaction on issues that matter to them.

The Obama administration this week unveiled sweeping changes to federal tribal-land leasing rules that had not been touched in 50 years. Obama nominated a Native American to the federal bench, signed a law renewing the Indian Health Care Act and settled a tribal royalties lawsuit that had dragged over three administrations.

…. Obama on Friday speaks for the third time with the nation’s 565 tribal leaders in Washington….  Obama has gone beyond lip service, said Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, and “backed up his words with actions that have made a positive impact on the lives of Native people.”

…. Jacqueline Johnson Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians and an Alaska native, said native peoples’ enthusiasm for Obama goes deeper. Obama has embraced Native American tribal sovereignty preserved in the Constitution, court decisions and treaty agreements and made that the foundation for his administration’s dealings with tribes, Pata said.

…. “I think we have made strides under the Obama administration the likes of which tribes have not seen for 30 years,” said Stacy Bohlen, executive director of the National Indian Health Board…..

Full article here



Jonathan Capehart: …. GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich defended his stance against certain child labor laws during a campaign stop in Iowa Thursday, saying that children born into poverty aren’t accustomed to working unless it involves crime.

“Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday,” Gingrich claimed. “They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of I do this and you give me cash unless it is illegal,” he added.

….. Gingrich’s blanket condemnation of “really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods” is unbelievably disgusting. And it’s disrespectful of the overwhelming majority of those children and their families who live their lives with far more integrity and far less cash than Gingrich ever will.

Full post here



In case you missed them, lots more photos from last night’s Christmas concert here


Morning everyone ;-)


matthew shepard died 13 years ago today

Politicususa: … On October 7th, 1998, Matthew Shepard accepted a ride from Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson … they drove Matthew into the country, tied him to a fence post and beat him severely … they attacked Matthew because he was gay. They left him there in the cold dark, bleeding and unconscious until a cyclist found him, almost 18 hours later. Matthew died from his injuries on October 12th, 1998…

Eleven years after Matthew’s death, President Barack Obama signed into law The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Act … this bill makes it a federal crime to assault people based on their gender, sexual orientation and gender identity … Judy Shepard had visited President Obama in the Oval Office and he had made her a promise that this day would come. By signing The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Act into law, President Obama kept his promise to Matthew’s family.

…. I asked many people to share their memories of Matthew Shepard with me, including Captain Stephen Snyder-Hill … the Army officer who was booed at the Republican debate…

Joshua Snyder-Hill: … A year later I was taken to DC for my first equality event. I was still not out to my family or friends. The one thing I remember most were the people picketing the concert hall cheering Matthew’s death and celebrating it as a victory. I remember all my fear of coming out melted away. I had spent three days in DC seeing nothing but hope and activism until that moment; it was then and there I decided, I had to be part of the fight for equality. Matthew’s death and the energy behind it, made me want to be proud of who I was and show love conquered hate.

Full article here

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, 2009:

Rest in peace, Matthew Shepard


at your service

First lady Michelle Obama walks onstage to greet employees to thank them for their public service at US Secret Service headquarters in Washington

… with US Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan

Turns out everyone’s dickering over who gets which Secret Service agent.

Michelle Obama revealed the tongue-in-cheek family feud as she paid a visit to Secret Service headquarters on Wednesday to thank workers at the agency that, among its many duties, protects the first family.

“You all have really made us feel at home and safe, and there is no amount of thanks that I could convey that would give you a sense of how important you all are to us,” Mrs. Obama told hundreds of Secret Service employees….

“The work you do here is pretty scary,” she said. “All I can say, after my little tour, is ignorance is bliss. I just don’t want to know. You all can handle that. Just tell me where to run.”

The first lady said the Obamas have a special affinity for the agents assigned to protect them.

“People always ask what it is like to have Secret Service around,” Mrs. Obama said. “It’s like having family around …. We have a fight among our family over who’s getting which people.

“Sasha will come in, it’s like, ‘You took Scott!'” Mrs. Obama said. “Malia’s like, ‘You took Scott?  That’s not fair!’ And then I’ll say the same thing to Barack. It’s like, ‘Why did you get Beth?’ It’s dinner table conversation.”

…. greeting Secret Service employees after delivering remarks


koch industries, iran, bribes, corruption ….

Politicalgates: …. In a bold and spectacular move, Bloomberg Markets Magazine wrote a story titled “The secret sins of Koch Industries” which does not only focus on several new revelations, but also provides a comprehensive overview about scandals of Koch Industries which happened during the last decades. The story also explicitly puts the well known political activities of the Koch Brothers in context with their highly questionable behaviour in business.

…. No less than 15 Bloomberg-journalists in several countries have worked on it … This is Pulitzer-Prize territory….

…the article reveals, for example, that:

– Koch Industries used the European offices of their subsidiary Koch-Glitsch to sell millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran in an apparent violation of the US-Iran trade embargo, as recently as 2007

– Koch Industries paid bribes in six countries from 2002 to 2008 to win business in Africa, India and the Middle East, comparable to similar behaviour of German technology giant Siemens (Siemens subsequently had to pay a $ 1.6 billion fine!)

Read the full post here

Thanks desertflower


‘voting machines can be hacked by remote control’

Brad Friedman (Salon): ….. Voting machines used by as many as a quarter of American voters heading to the polls in 2012 can be hacked with just $10.50 in parts and an 8th grade science education …. experts say the newly developed hack could change voting results while leaving absolutely no trace of the manipulation behind.

The new findings echo long-ignored concerns about e-voting vulnerabilities  ….. “This is a national security issue,” says Roger Johnston, leader of the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. “It should really be handled by the Department of Homeland Security.”

…. Almost all voters in states like Georgia, Maryland, Utah and Nevada, and the majority of voters in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Texas, will vote on DREs on Election Day in 2012 … Voters in major municipalities such as Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and Pittsburgh will also use DREs of the type hacked by the Argonne National Lab.

…. In what John Warner (VAT) describes as “probably the most relevant attack for vote tampering,” the intruder would allow the voter to make his or her selections but when the voter actually attempts to push the Vote Now button, which records the voter’s final selections to the system’s memory card, he says, “we will simply intercept that attempt …. change a few of the votes,” and the changed votes would then be registered in the machine…..

Full article here

Thanks Tally – this is scary as hell.


‘david sirota and the white leftist version of racism’

Deaniac (The People’s View): It’s kind of funny when you think about it, but silver-pen David Sirota thinks he’s got a better grip on race than the founding director of the Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South at Tulane University, Melissa Harris-Perry.

After Professor Harris-Perry’s piece in The Nation chiding white Leftist electoral racism of double standards against a black president received acclaim and attention, Sirota, a renowned fantasy-land pretend-Leftist, decided that he was going to take on Professor Harris Perry, by being too cute by half.

Sirota’s argument, on the surface, is that the elite white Leftist class – who overlap with the Professional Left about 90% – is really mad at the president not out of some double standard they set for a black president, but on the basis of policy. Or as David calls it, policy betrayals. Clever. Because we have never seen the attempt to hide denial of race-privilege behind a thin veil of policy criticism ever before, right?

…. the first African American president is not treated with the same level of respect by the white Leftist elite, nor do his accomplishments enjoy among them the same praise had those same accomplishments come from a white president. And this part of the thesis, unfortunately, is not at all difficult to prove, either: See post for detailed examples

… The racist undertone is also present in the latent expectation that once you have elected a black president, he needs to be a magician and magically begin a utopia according to your likings …. The truth of liberal white elitism and racism is based on true observations, and is not much better than that from the Republicans: that the black guy, who’s working day and night to keep the car from slipping back into the ditch and move forward is not pushing it hard enough or the right way, and so on and so forth.

Full post here


‘like watching a hippo try to ice-skate’

Charles Pierce (Esquire) on the Florida GOP debate: ….. …. Huntsman proceeded to make his way through a story in which some coincidences attending his family’s adoption of a daughter from China were attributed to the Almighty. The story ended with his daughter’s reply to someone who asked her whom it was that had found her in the vegetable market where she’d been abandoned.

“She replied, simply, ‘Jesus’,” said Huntsman. “We call her our little bean curd,” he confided to the crowd, which was enough, as Dorothy Parker once put it, to make you fwow up.

…. Mitt Romney, perhaps the most consummate fake in American political history …. his finest moment may well have been telling The Boston Globe that, when he was doing his Mormon mission in France, he really wanted to be fighting in Vietnam. In other words, rather than pestering wine-growers in Provence …. This is so stupefyingly fraudulent as to be goddamn close to immortal.

….. A Republican may well get elected president next year. But, whoever that is, first has to answer, constantly, to the voices in the party’s head. It’s exhausting work …. … Decency doesn’t sell here …. This was an audience that thinks insurance-friendly health-care reform is half-past Trotsky, and that immigration reform means a higher wall, a deeper ditch, and larger caliber ammunition…..

….. watching Perry try to think on his feet is rather like watching a hippo try to ice-skate …. This is a party capable of winning elections, but not leading a nation. To borrow a line from that noted Republican, Bobby Knight, this party couldn’t lead a whore to bed.

Full article here

Thanks Meta


the reality of ‘obamacare’ (please send your best to ross in the comments)

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and senior staff, react in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, as the House passes the health care reform bill, March 21, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Des Moines Register: After more than five weeks on a ventilator, Amy Ward is finally being weaned off it to breathe on her own. She no longer requires dialysis. But a near-fatal infection resulting from a freak accident has left her with a long road of rehab ahead.

In the time he’s spent at his wife’s bedside in a hospital critical care unit, her husband has been able to do a lot of thinking. Ross Daniels, on unpaid family medical leave from his IT job to tend to his wife, has had to face the real possibility that he would lose her, though she’s just 39….

… Daniels has also thought about what would have happened if portions of the new federal health care law had not been in place. His wife’s insurance had a million dollar lifetime cap on benefits. Her current expenses have already exceeded that. One medication – a potent antifungal agent – costs $1,600 a dose. Without the protection against lifetime limits the new law provides, they would have had to declare bankruptcy.

That law, derisively dubbed “Obamacare” by the president’s opponents, has been portrayed as the essence of evil among Republican presidential candidates. At a tea party-sponsored debate this week, front-runners Rick Perry and Mitt Romney vowed to sign executive orders exempting states from enforcing it. Michele Bachmann bragged of working for its repeal in Congress.

Those attitudes confound Daniels, who says, “It is hard for us to believe that so many of the GOP candidates would have us go back to a time where an illness like this would have forced us, or any other family for that matter, into bankruptcy.” He’s also grateful for the law’s protection against insurance companies denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

…. by the time the next president is sworn in, enough people will have experienced the protections and benefits it offers that no elected official would risk his or her standing by rescinding it. That’s the value of first-hand experience, painful as it may be. It brings you closer to the truth than all the political platitudes in the world.

Full article here

Thank you JER, this is a brilliant article – make sure you read it all everyone, and spread it far and wide ;-)


‘the crybaby chorus’

Robert Shrum: It’s natural for the GOP to dismiss the facts in favor of misreading the entrails of a temporary congressional gain (in New York) which will be reversed in 2012. But it’s stupid, a sign of panic, and a pathetic and depressing picture to see Democrats joining in….

…. among the disaffected are elements of the labor movement …. Good luck to any union that sits out or sloughs off in 2012; if they end up with Romney or Perry, it could mark the end of organized labor in America.

…. too many members of his own party in Congress who pushed the president for a jobs bill, paid for by taxes on the wealthy, are now validating Will Rogers’s observation that they “don’t belong to any organized party. They’re Democrats”. Some of them are beginning to pick the bill apart, pursuing parochial interests …. Sen. Sherrod Brown warns that Democrats have to “compromise to get this bill up and running”; everybody can’t have all they want. He’s right, and so is Nancy Pelosi that Democrats can recapture the House – if they hold their nerve and stand with the president…..

Finally comes my friend James Carville to argue in a pyrotechnic CNN piece that yes, the White House should “panic” …. As Bill Clinton’s campaign chief in 1992, Carville didn’t panic – he certainly didn’t fire himself – in the early summer of that year, when Clinton was in last place, at 22 percent, in a three-way race with Ross Perot and the first George Bush.

…. Carville is on target about one thing: Obama has to “make a case like a Democrat”. But that’s what this president is doing now…..

…. the GOP is doing its best to block recovery as a conscious strategy to reclaim the White House: kill jobs to get the job. But there is grave risk for Republicans in this transparent cynicism; the president has the voice, and we’ve learned before that he has the strength of will to set the choice and win the big battle. Indeed, that’s what makes the comparison with Carter absurd; from health reform to financial reform to the salvation of the auto industry and the prevention of depression, Obama has a historic record of achievement.

…. Obama is a fourth quarter player. And the fourth quarter has come. It’s time for the crybaby chorus to leave the critic’s row and get in the game. The president will do his part. And then his victory in the 2012 election will be remembered long after his phony defeat in a peculiar special election fades into a footnote.

The panic isn’t justified — and Democrats can’t afford it. Grow up. As Carville might say, there’s too much at stake, stupid.

Full article here


‘the gop war on voting’


Ari Berman (Rolling Stone): As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008.

Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots. “What has happened this year is the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century,” says Judith Browne-Dianis, who monitors barriers to voting as co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C.

…. the GOP’s effort to disrupt voting rights has been more widespread and effective than ever. In a systematic campaign orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council – and funded in part by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party – 38 states introduced legislation this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process…..

Full article here


‘saving america from rick perry’

Ruth Marcus (Washington Post); Rick Perry is no George W. Bush. This is not a compliment … his 2010 Tea Party-steeped manifesto, “Fed Up!,” makes George Bush look like George McGovern. Perry has said he wasn’t planning to run for president when he wrote the book, and it shows:

● He floats the notion of repealing the 16th Amendment, which authorized the federal income tax. Perry describes the amendment as “the great milestone on the road to serfdom” because it “was the birth of wealth redistribution in the United States.”….

●He lambastes the 17th Amendment, which instituted direct election of senators, as a misguided “blow to the ability of states to exert influence on the federal government”….

● He laments the New Deal as “the second big step” – the 16th and 17th amendments being the first – “in the march of socialism and….”

● He specifically targets Social Security for “violently tossing aside any respect for our founding principles of federalism and limited government”….

● … he is even less happy about the Great Society, suggesting that programs such as Medicare are unconstitutional….

…. Perry’s views on the role of judges may be the most alarming given a president’s ability to shape the Supreme Court for decades to come. He writes about the current court with venomous disdain …. Disagreeing with liberal justices is one thing. Accusing them of not caring about the Constitution is like denouncing the opposing party as unpatriotic …

…. The subtitle of Perry’s book is “Our Fight to Save America from Washington.” Reading it summons the image of another, urgent fight: saving America from Rick Perry.

Full article here


‘in 2012, the issue won’t just be the economy’

Joplin, Mo., May 29, 2011

Deepak Chopra (SFGate): President Barack Obama is already pulling a bit of a hat trick, managing to sustain higher popularity than either George Bush or Ronald Reagan when they were stuck in economic doldrums …. with the Republican House effectively blocking any potential stimulus, and the entire Republican Party bent on being the party of “No” …. many commentators have jumped on a new bandwagon … now we are told that the Republican party is energized, thinks it can beat Obama and only needs a stand-up candidate….

I doubt it.

The pundits have left leadership out of the equation …

… There are three needs that serve as the foundation of a healthy society, as they do for a healthy individual.

1. Security: The country needs to be free of anxiety, with a sense that normal life isn’t overshadowed by threats … The President has consistently refused to give in to anxiety, maintaining that …. we will emerge from this recession stronger than ever

… the Republicans’ tactic, continued from the Bush era, is to increase our nervousness. The sky is always falling down on the right wing …. Not a single Republican, with the possible exception of Mitt Romney, offers a reassuring tone….

2. Achievement: … Obama has been rooting for the American spirit, promising a better future, and offering economic stimulus and jobs programs. He constantly points to a new future of innovation, restored infrastructure, stronger research and development and renewable energy. He doesn’t attack globalism but faces the fact that global competition means that change must come to America.

….Republican response is reactionary. They trumpet jingoistic slogans while hunkering down for a grim tomorrow. They block any kind of stimulus, viable jobs programs, renewable energy and so on…..

3. Unity and community: …. the President has talked about bipartisanship and the end of crippling divisiveness in politics …. he stands as a potent symbol for overcoming ancient social prejudice…..

… what Republican candidate is even trying to make America feel united? … even the most optimistic Republican strategists realize that all their candidates, with the possible exception of Romney, are dividers. The irony is that Romney divides Republicans, because he won’t tilt toward Tea Party extremism.

…. the President realizes that the level of the problem (fear, insecurity, divisiveness, uncertainty, frustration, anger) isn’t the level of the solution. The level of the solution is to fulfill the three needs just outlined. Trapped in their ideology and hostility to progress, the Republicans aren’t even on the map in these areas. Next November the pivot point won’t be the economy, not alone at least. The pivot will be whether the electorate wants its needs fulfilled or its anger expressed. I know it’s a tossup, but I can’t blame the president for not doing what leaders need to do. He is.

Full article here


libya, wednesday

Thank you Kasai



NowLebanon: The apparent downfall of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi will be an enormous foreign policy victory and vindication for US President Barack Obama.

His campaign of a limited military engagement in Libya, along with NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council states, was never popular. From the outset it was attacked on all sides as either too much or too little, misguided and unlikely to succeed. It was even said that the intervention would cost more lives in Libya than it would save and harm rather than promote the interests of the United States.

Now it seems certain that Obama can justifiably claim to have made the right decision. He can add Qaddafi’s scalp to that of slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Unless Libya degenerates into total anarchy over the next 12 months, Obama will be virtually untouchable on foreign policy issues….

The limited engagement in Libya also looks like powerful prima facie evidence that Obama’s approach of emphasizing multilateral alliances, proceeding cautiously and balancing interests with values produces better results than the aggressive and ideological unilateralism of the George W. Bush administration…..


President Barack Obama talks on the phone with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in Chilmark, Mass., Aug. 23. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


Joel Rubin: President Obama’s critics are on the verge of witnessing a third major Obama success in the Arab world in 2011.

First, longtime Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak was deposed after Obama refused to support him against the Egyptian people at the moment of truth.

Second, Osama bin Laden, America’s archenemy #1, was killed by Navy Seals on direct orders from Obama in a risky cross-border raid into Pakistan.

And now, Muammar Qadhafi is about to be knocked out of power by an international coalition in which Obama ensured that the U.S. played a leading team role.

It’s time for Obama’s neoconservative critics to acknowledge his leadership success on foreign policy, especially on Libya.

Why? Because Obama has done what his most ardent foreign policy critics have failed to do: he has ushered in a new era in the Arab world by supporting its organic democracy movements while also aggressively pursuing terrorists. This is foreign policy leadership, Obama style, and it works for American national security.

Why? Because unlike his harshest critics, Obama actually understands that you don’t promote democracy by invading other countries….

Why? Because the United States accomplished these successes and advanced our countries’ interests without either losing one American life or getting entangled in another Middle Eastern quagmire.

…. Obama’s leadership on Libya was aggressive, but unlike theirs, which called for American boots on the ground, was smart, realistic, and patient. A touch of humility and an understanding of the proper usage of American power is what is making this policy work and now the Libyan rebels, when finished, will own their victory.

There will certainly be tough days ahead for Libya; the dust is not yet settled on this drama. But it is clear that the rebels are in charge, that we are not stuck in a quagmire, and that the Arab revolutions will continue – all with the U.S. as an ally.

This is true leadership, Obama style, and it’s time for his critics to acknowledge his – and our – success.

Full post here (warning, it’s GOPolitico)


‘a very presidential friendship’


Pjstar: Forgive Tim and Diana Wheeler if they sometimes slip and refer to President Obama by his first name. After all, the Wheelers are quite possibly the only townsfolk in Alpha to know the leader of the free world on a first-name basis.

“Barack is coming to Alpha!” Tim Wheeler, 53, crowed with a chuckle Tuesday at Caterpillar Inc.’s Building HH, where he is a section manager.

Not that the Wheelers would be so informal Wednesday, when there’s a good chance – yet again – that they’ll get a few minutes to chat with their presidential pal. “We knew him before he was president,” Diane Wheeler, 50, said from Alpha. “We got in the habit of calling him by his first name. Out of respect, now it’s ‘Mister President.'”

Mind you, the Wheelers are no heavy-hitting politicos or deep-pocket contributors. They’re just workaday people who just happen to have the ear of the most powerful man on the planet. And when Obama saunters into the Country Corners Farm Market, the Wheelers stand the best chance of the Alpha’s 671 residents for a presidential one-on-one. It’s a special relationship, stretching from a hardscrabble farming burg to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. “We consider him a friend,” Diane Wheeler said.

The connection comes via son Marcus Wheeler, who in 2004 was a 19-year-old in dire need of a liver transplant. At the time, Tim Wheeler faced the loss of his 28-year job at Butler Manufacturing, which would leave Galesburg the next year. No job meant no insurance.

Meanwhile, Obama, then a state senator from Chicago, was campaigning for a U.S. Senate seat. On May 15 of that year, he made an unplanned stop at Galesburg’s Labor Temple, to talk with 25 local labor leaders. One was Wheeler, of United Steelworkers Local 2629.

When he got a chance with Obama, Wheeler sobbed as he told of his son’s need of a second transplant and expensive drugs. Obama promised to seek help via Medicare.

Two months later, die-hard Democrats Tim and Diana Wheeler flipped on their TV to see Obama address the Democratic National Convention, as John Kerry’s keynote speaker. A riveting speech bolstered his national gravitas, in part with the heartfelt plea, “We have more work to do. More work to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs. … More to do for the father that I met who was losing his job and choking back the tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits that he counted on.”

Stunned to tears, the Wheelers vowed to support Obama the next week at a Kewanee rally. Tim Wheeler approached Obama, who immediately said, “I want you to know: Every day I say a prayer for Marcus.” Thereafter, Obama would use the Wheeler story on the stump. Meanwhile, Tim Wheeler got a new job, at Cat, where insurance covered another two liver transplants for his son. In 2006, Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope” mentioned Galesburg several times, including the value of on-the-road encounters with people like the Wheelers: “Those were the stories you missed on a private jet at 40,000 feet.”

Later, they there were more meet-ups. When Marcus had treatment at the University of Chicago Hospitals, his dad met Michelle Obama in a hallway. She said her husband often prayed for the family. Later, as a U.S. senator, Obama gave a speech at the University of Illinois. Marcus Wheeler, en route to a bachelor’s degree in math, got a front-row seat. To start the speech, Obama mouthed, “Hi, Marcus.”

And in 2009, before Obama toured Cat here, Tim Wheeler was picked to join 200 workers to meet with Obama. Through the throng, the president summoned Wheeler for a few personal words for the first time since inauguration.

“How ya doing?” Wheeler asked.

“Oh,” Obama said with a grin, “I’ve been kinda busy these days.” ….

Full article here

Thank you LOL ;-)


‘failed missives to the almighty’

Texas Governor Rick Perry prays during “The Response,” an event billed as a call to prayer for a nation in crisis, at Reliant stadium in Houston August 6

BurntOrangeReport: The biggest gathering in Houston yesterday should tell America all it needs to know about Rick Perry. I’m not talking about the estimated 30,000 individuals who visited Reliant Stadium yesterday for The Response, a event endorsed by religious extremists and known hate-mongers.

I’m talking about the 100,000 Texans who waited in line for free school supplies, immunizations, fresh produce, and school uniforms….

While our three-term governor was busy self-promoting to evangelical Christians in preparation to announce his bid for President, the actual people he governs were attempting to mitigate the damage he’s done to regular working Texas families just trying to get by. While Perry’s faithful lined up to break their fast with hot dogs and nachos, his constituents stood in the 90+ degree heat for bags of fruit and vegetables.

… Where are the gasping media reports of over 100,000 Texans waiting in the hot sun for school supplies and food? Where are the statistics about how Texas has some of the highest rates nationally of poverty and food insecurity in all of the breathless coverage of Rick Perry’s ‘Texas Miracle’? Where was the caravan of reporters from news outlets across America, interviewing the victims, rather than the worshipers, of the Perry administration? I suppose it’s nice that The Response had an almost four-fold increase in turnout for a day of prayer over the expected 8,000, but it’s horrifying that a charitable event for families of Texas schoolchildren should also see such a tremendous increase in turnout.

After all, needy families are about as common in Texas as failed missives to the Almighty are at Reliant Stadium.

Am I crazy and naive to wish that those 30,000 in attendance at Reliant had spent their time yesterday actually clothing the poor, feeding the hungry, or visiting the sick, rather than just praying for the free market to fix it for them?

Because while Rick Perry was ministering to the flock at the football stadium, it sure looks like a whole lot more of the “least of these brothers and sisters” were waiting in line for school supplies yesterday, not waiting in line to sway and pray…..

Full post here

Thank you Kasai







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