May 10, 2013 at 8:51 am #87787
hat tip for this is Miranda at POU.
I can’t imagine their parents’ pride right now.
For the first time ever, a local college has co-valedictorians that are also identical twins.
Channel 2’s Erin Coleman spent the day at Spelman College with the Bronner twins, as they’re called, to talk about working hard, having faith, and sharing the title.
Kristie and Kirstie Bronner are the identical twins with identical grade point averages.
“Before we came to college we prayed that we would keep 4.0s all the way through but I don’t think we ever really expected it,” said Kirstie Bronner.
“You can have strength together,” Kristie said.
The Spelman College seniors will graduate in a matter of days. They say they worked hard – so hard at first, they made themselves sick. But eventually, they learned how to balance things.
“We learned how to have a balance to life and then to be able to appreciate the journey of college and be more healthy and be more happy,” Kristie said.
“Every semester we learned something new about life, things we could apply to life, things we could apply to school,” Kirstie said.
They both majored in music.
“You don’t have to be the smartest. You don’t have to be the one who came in with the prior knowledge to be the one to succeed,” Kristie Bronner said. “It’s a great testimony and it’s also fun to be able to share it with one another. I don’t think we’d want it any other way.”
After graduation, they will join the youth ministry of their father’s church, Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral. They also plan to record a youth contemporary gospel album.
TGIF and Good Morning.
As you go through your day, don’t forget JJP at TWIB.
Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.
And always, have a peaceful day.May 10, 2013 at 8:53 am #87788
LUVVIE’S SCANDAL RECAP IS ALREADY UP!!
Any Questions? I Have Many After Scandal’s Episode 221
[ 16 ] May 10, 2013 | Luvvie
After last week’s episode of Scandal left us all feeling all hot and bothered, I knew Shonda was gon turn the tables and just leave pour jaws on the floor for a completely different reason. The show team had told us that this episode is where we find out who the mole so we were dehydrated for it! Let’s just jump right in.May 10, 2013 at 8:57 am #87789
these mofos still haven’t learned…
KEEP THE OBAMA KIDS’ NAMES OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MOUTHS
Fox’s Bolling: Had It Been Sasha Or Malia Obama Who Died In Benghazi, Wouldn’t We “Be Asking Different Questions?”May 10, 2013 at 8:58 am #87790
What right-wing opposition to Lindsay Graham tells us about the GOP
Posted by Jamelle Bouie on May 9, 2013 at 11:12 am
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By any definition, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham is a conservative. Yes, he voted to confirm President Obama’s nominees for the Supreme Court and has voiced support for climate change legislation and higher taxes, but those are small deviations.
On almost everything else, Graham sides with the right flank of the GOP. He supported Paul Ryan’s budget and its variations, touted the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan — which calls for huge reductions in federal spending — and has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration on national security issues, including the ongoing controversy over the attack in Benghazi.
But for right-wing activists in South Carolina, Graham’s credentials still aren’t conservative enough. Politico reports that there’s a solid chance he’ll face a challenge from the right. It’s not just because of the issues, however. As Jonathan Martin writes: “What so irritates his conservative critics is not just his issue positions but the way he’s unapologetically pragmatic about politics in a way that’s gone out of fashion on GOP circles.”
That’s just another way to say that Graham’s critics are as upset with his willingness to compromise and legislate — even if it advances conservative priorities — as they are with his votes. The mere fact that Graham occasionally works with Democrats to accomplish something is enough to earn him opposition from the base of the Republican Party.
When observers like Jonathan Bernstein say that the Republican Party is “broken,” this is what they mean. The structure of our government doesn’t require comity or non-ideological political parties; after all, ideological polarization doesn’t preclude compromise.May 10, 2013 at 9:00 am #87791
Can immigration reform really be made much more `conservative’?
Posted by Greg Sargent on May 9, 2013 at 1:19 pm
We keep hearing that in order for immigration reform to pass Congress, it will have to be pushed considerably to the right. But given the current Gang of Eight compromise’s heavy emphasis on border security — combined with a path to citizenship that now stands at 13 years — how much more conservative can the measure actually become? And what would that look like, anyway?
Today we got the first glimpse of an answer to these questions, as the Senate Judiciary Committee took its first stab at marking up the bill. And the answer is pretty clear: While there may be some room for movement, the bottom line is that this bill just can’t be made much more conservative without undermining the very things that make it amount to comprehensive reform.
There were two main votes today that underscored this reality. First, the Judiciary Committee rejected a Chuck Grassley amendment that would have required the border be secure for six months before the 11 million get legal status. This would have struck directly at the bill’s core — requiring a trigger for legalization to occur later, rather than setting legalization in motion while requiring various security benchmarks to be hit. The fact that two Republicans — Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake, both members of the Gang of Eight — voted this down shows that there is bipartisan support for rebuffing the right’s most ambitious efforts to undermine reform.
Meanwhile, four Republicans (Graham, Flake, Orrin Hatch, and John Cornyn) voted with Dems to pass what’s called a “substitute amendment,” i.e., a new version of reform tweaked to deal with various problems — which signals strong bipartisan support for the compromise. The four Republicans who voted against this — Grassley, Ted Cruz, Jeff Sessions, and Mike Lee — illustrate that a hard right bloc remains opposed at all costs to reform that includes a path to citizenship, but that they were unable to derail the bill so far.May 10, 2013 at 9:03 am #87792
Colorado strikes a blow for voting reform
Posted by Greg Sargent on May 9, 2013 at 3:17 pm
It hasn’t gotten the national attention it deserves, but a sweeping measure to overhaul elections in Colorado is swiftly moving towards passage — one that could function as a model for other voting reformers in other states, and perhaps even nationally. The Colorado measure will represent a big step forward, because it sticks to the most fundamental principle that most reformers think should guide our efforts to fix voting: That voting should be made easier for as many people as possible.
This, at a time when conservative groups are working to restrict voting in the name of “voter fraud.” As Reid Wilson recently put it, the Colorado measure is “the Democratic comeback to voter ID.”
Reform advocates who have been briefed on Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s plans tell me they expect him to sign the legislation tomorrow. The measure, which has cleared both houses in Colorado, contains a number of key provisions. It requires a ballot to be mailed to every registered voter; voters choose how to vote, whether by mail or dropping off the ballot, or even in person, early or on election day. It lengthens the early voting period and shortens the time required for state residency in order to qualify to vote. It expands voter registration through Election Day. And it allows people to vote at any precinct within their county.
“The biggest problem is people showing up at the wrong precinct,” Ellen Dumm, spokesperson for Coloradans for Voter Access and Modernized Elections, tells me. “This is unique in that expands all options. It really does expand access to voting at a time when we’ve seen a lot of restriction of voting. This makes voting a lot easier.”
Republicans in Colorado strongly opposed the measure, arguing that it could facilitate vote fraud, and it comes after a number contentious legislative battles. But to reformers, what’s notable about this campaign is that even some Republicans — those who bureaucratically grapple with voting problems, that is — could support it. “We never would have gotten this passed without county clerks and county commissioners who are Republican,” Dumm says.May 10, 2013 at 9:05 am #87793
The real lesson of Benghazi
Posted by Jonathan Bernstein on May 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm
What’s the real lesson of Benghazi? It’s that the party-aligned press works so well for Republicans that they’ve become too lazy to bother explaining their ideas, or doing the hard work of actual oversight.
Look, it’s May, and they’ve been at this since September, and still, no one outside of the conservative information bubble has any idea what the “there” is. Never mind whether the accusations are true; no one has even bothered laying out a set of accusations that makes sense (see Marc Ambinder for more; see also also Andrew Sabl for what a real set of accusations would look like).
Remember, to begin with, Benghazi was a policy disaster: Four people died, and there’s every possibility that it didn’t have to happen. A normal political party could get some mileage out of that (yes, it’s crass, but that’s politics). In fact, the political system depends on the out-party demanding that the president, the White House, and the executive branch in general be held to account when things go wrong.
Instead, we’ve had months of gobbledegook about a set of talking points that supposedly were part of an effort to…you know, I don’t even want to bother. What matters is whether there were mistakes made that caused the disaster, whether people who made those mistakes were held accountable, and whether things have changed to make another disaster less likely. Unfortunately, Republicans don’t seem very interested in any of that.
Part of what’s happening is, as Jamelle Bouie pointed out today, the strong demand within the conservative marketplace for scandal. But there’s more than that; it’s not just a demand for scandal, but how easily the customers accept anything presented to them. The result — and Alex Pareene is very good on this today — is that they don’t bother putting together a “coherent or convincing narrative.”May 10, 2013 at 9:12 am #87794
God Love You, Joe
Thu May 9th, 2013 at 08:08:14 PM EST
It’s funny how some things happen. Joe Biden’s greatest virtue may be his tendency to go off script.
Last May, in the heat of President Obama’s reelection efforts, Biden went on “Meet the Press” and said he was “comfortable” with same-sex marriage. Obama had not at that point announced his support for gay marriage, and the vice president’s endorsement left the campaign lurching to clarify the administration’s position.
The following week, Obama acknowledged he had decided to make an announcement endorsing gay marriage before the election, but Biden’s comments forced his hand early.
Biden at the time said he apologized to the president for putting him in that position, but in the Rolling Stone interview, Biden said Obama couldn’t have been happier.
“I got blowback from everybody but the president,” Biden said. “I walked in that Monday, he had a big grin on his face, he put his arms around me and said, ‘Well, Joe, God love you, you say what you think.’ I knew he agreed with me. It wasn’t like he was in a different place.”
I wonder what would or wouldn’t have happened if Biden had taken the official line on that question. It seems like it was a seminal moment. Ever since, there has been a flood of progress on gay rights issues.May 10, 2013 at 9:15 am #87795
The Myth of Presidential Leadership
Many Washington pundits are critical of the president’s ability to wrangle concessions out of Congress, but they forget that his power has limits.
This article appeared in print as Is Obama Failing to Lead?
By Norm Ornstein
Updated: May 9, 2013 | 1:51 a.m.
May 8, 2013 | 9:30 p.m
The theme of presidential leadership is a venerated one in America, the subject of many biographies and an enduring mythology about great figures rising to the occasion. The term “mythology” doesn’t mean that the stories are inaccurate; Lincoln, the wonderful Steven Spielberg movie, conveyed a real sense of that president’s remarkable character and drive, as well as his ability to shape important events. Every president is compared to the Lincoln leadership standard and to those set by other presidents, and the first 100 days of every term becomes a measure of how a president is doing.
I have been struck by this phenomenon a lot recently, because at nearly every speech I give, someone asks about President Obama’s failure to lead. Of course, that question has been driven largely by the media, perhaps most by Bob Woodward. When Woodward speaks, Washington listens, and he has pushed the idea that Obama has failed in his fundamental leadership task—not building relationships with key congressional leaders the way Bill Clinton did, and not “working his will” the way LBJ or Ronald Reagan did.
Now, after the failure to get the background-check bill through the Senate, other reporters and columnists have picked up on the same theme, and I have grown increasingly frustrated with how the mythology of leadership has been spread in recent weeks. I have yelled at the television set, “Didn’t any of you ever read Richard Neustadt’s classic Presidential Leadership? Haven’t any of you taken Politics 101 and read about the limits of presidential power in a separation-of-powers system?”
But the issue goes beyond that, to a willful ignorance of history. No one schmoozed more or better with legislators in both parties than Clinton. How many Republican votes did it get him on his signature initial priority, an economic plan? Zero in both houses. And it took eight months to get enough Democrats to limp over the finish line. How did things work out on his health care plan? How about his impeachment in the House?May 10, 2013 at 9:16 am #87796
The Internet Declares War on the NRA
By Francis Wilkinson May 9, 2013 1:19 PM CT
The Internet is good for many things — conspiracy theories, shopping, sharing funny pictures with friends. But it may prove to be very, very bad for the extreme gun-rights movement.
Here are a few recent stories that the Web, in its collective wisdom, has plucked from relatively obscure locales in the past week and elevated to national prominence.
We have the case of the 2-year-old who shot himself in the head with a handgun about 50 miles from Dallas. He is dead.
There is the matter of the 3-year-old Tampa boy who fatally shot himself this week with his uncle’s gun. (Like 1 million Floridians, the uncle has a state permit to carry a concealed weapon. The boy apparently found the weapon in the uncle’s backpack.)
A 13-year-old in Florida this week shot his 6-year-old sister, who survived.
And, of course, there is the now notorious tragedy of the 5-year-old Kentucky boy who shot his 2-year-old sister to death with a rifle specially manufactured and marketed to small children.
In his blog at the Daily Beast, David Frum has been posting stories of hapless gun owners causing pointless tragedy. Here is Frum responding to a typically unnecessary death:
<I>Here’s the blunt fact: for all the talk about “responsible gun ownership,” guns are easily available to everybody, responsible or not. It’s an empty compliment even to refer to “responsible gun owners” – many of them are people who through good luck simply have not had their irresponsibility catch up with them yet, as so tragically happened yesterday to the Wanko family.</I>
The NRA has been remarkably successful in suppressing government research on gun violence and hindering dissemination of data on guns. Legislators in Washington and state capitals have been ghoulishly accommodating. The Internet, it seems, won’t be so easily bought.May 10, 2013 at 9:18 am #87798
Conservative Immigration Scholar: Black and Hispanic Immigrants Are Dumber Than European Immigrants
Jason Richwine, who coauthored a Heritage Foundation study on immigration, didn’t just argue that certain minorities are dumber in his scholarship–he also said it at a public panel.
—By Adam Serwer
| Wed May. 8, 2013 4:50 PM PDT
Jason Richwine, the coauthor of the conservative Heritage Foundation’s controversial study on the supposed $6.3 trillion cost of comprehensive immigration reform, has received much attention and criticism for his 2009 Harvard dissertation that argued there was “a genetic component” to racial disparities in IQ. But this dissertation wasn’t the first time Richwine had expressed such views publicly. In 2008, he told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute that “major” ethnic or racial differences in intelligence between the Irish, Italian, and Jewish immigrants who flocked to the United States at the turn of the 20th century and the immigrants coming to the US today justified severely restricting immigration.
Richwine’s remarks, which he made as a resident fellow at AEI, did not receive much public notice at the time, but they go beyond the arguments presented in his 2009 dissertation. In that dissertation, “IQ and Immigration Policy,” which was first reported by Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post, Richwine argued for restricting immigration based on IQ differences, which he believes are partially the result of genetic differences between ethnic groups. In the dissertation’s acknowledgements, Richwine wrote that “no one was more influential” than AEI scholar Charles Murray, coauthor of the much-criticized book The Bell Curve, which argued that racial disparities in IQ are partially the result of genetic differences between races. After the Post broke the story about the dissertation, the Heritage Foundation distanced itself from Richwine’s immigration reform study.
At the 2008 talk, Richwine said, “I do not believe that race is insurmountable, certainly not, but it definitely is a larger barrier today than it was for immigrants in the past simply because they are not from Europe.” The 2008 AEI panel focused on a book by immigration reform opponent Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors strict limits on all immigration. Krikorian’s book, The New Case Against Immigration, Both Legal and Illegal, began with Krikorian stating that the difference between modern immigration and immigration at the turn of the century “is not the characteristics of the newcomers but the characteristics of our society.”
Richwine firmly disagreed with part of Krikorian’s assessment. The “major difference,” he said, was the race of the immigrants: “There are real differences between groups.” He contended that today’s nonwhite immigrants are dumber. “Race is different in all sorts of ways, and probably the most important way is in IQ,” he said. “Decades of psychometric testing has indicated that at least in America, you have Jews with the highest average IQ, usually followed by East Asians, then you have non-Jewish whites, Hispanics, and then blacks. These are real differences, and they’re not going to go away tomorrow, and for that reason we have to address them in our immigration discussions and our debates.”
After he made his remarks in 2008, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that “Richwine’s remarks were warmly received on white nationalist blogs.”May 10, 2013 at 9:33 am #87799
Boehner, McConnell block their own Medicare goals
One of the funny things about congressional Republicans and health care policy is the extent to which they set clear goals and then oppose efforts to reach those goals. For example, GOP leaders want Democrats to accept policies that curtail Medicare costs, and then try to sabotage Democratic efforts to curtail Medicare costs.
<I>In a largely symbolic move, Republican leaders in Congress told President Barack Obama on Thursday that they will not participate in picking members of a controversial healthcare panel intended to restrain cost growth in the Medicare health insurance program for the elderly and disabled.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell informed the president in a May 9 letter that they will not recommend appointments to the 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, and want the panel repealed instead.</I>
I realize IPAB may seem like a relatively obscure part of the larger health care law, so in case anyone needs a refresher, let’s quickly recap.
As Paul Krugman explained a while back, “Arguably the most important thing we can do to limit the growth in health care costs is learning to say no; we cannot afford a system in which Medicare in particular will pay for anything, especially when that’s combined with an industry structure that gives providers a strong financial incentive to engage in excessive care.”
As we discussed in June, the Obama administration seeks to solve this problem through IPAB — putting the difficult decisions in the hands of qualified medical and health care professionals, free of the political process on Capitol Hill. And why is this necessary? In large part because Congress has failed so spectacularly in its ability to make these choices on its own.
In theory, Republicans should be delighted — we’re talking about a panel tasked with cutting entitlement spending and saving money. Indeed, it was rather gracious of the White House to reach out to GOP leaders to ask them to recommend officials to serve on the board.
The surface-level problem, however, is Republicans say they want to lower costs and cut spending, but also oppose a panel that would lower costs and cut spending. And the deeper problem is that they hope to sabotage IPAB because they prefer an alternative approach.
In terms of fiscal goals, both parties want roughly the same thing: a more stable fiscal future for health care costs, especially for seniors. Democrats see value in IPAB, and there’s ample reason to believe this is a responsible approach. Republicans, meanwhile, argue that Medicare should be eliminated, and replaced with a voucher program in which seniors effectively bring a coupon to the private insurance marketplace. This, too, would lower costs by shifting the financial burden from Medicare to financially vulnerable families.
And why do Republicans hate IPAB so intensely? Largely because they’re afraid it might work — if IPAB lowers costs and cuts spending, there won’t be any reason to listen to far-right lawmakers demanding the elimination of Medicare altogether.
So, Boehner and McConnell have come up with a plan, and it goes like this: if they can stop IPAB, they can prevent the panel from doing worthwhile work. And if IPAB is unable to lower costs, Medicare will become more fiscally unstable in the coming years. And if Medicare’s finances worsen, Republicans will have a stronger hand when they say they want to kill the Medicare program and privatize it out of existence.
Remember, for GOP lawmakers, the goal is not to solve a problem. Rather, the goal is to advance an ideological agenda that calls for slashing public investments and shrinking government, regardless of the consequences.May 10, 2013 at 10:35 am #87804
root_e So how come all our civil liberties pundits are so unconcerned about criminalizing high school for Kiera Wilmot?May 10, 2013 at 10:42 am #87805
‘Raging Grannies’ Turn Up the Heat On Conservative N.C. Proposals
Like a motorist swerving to avoid an accident, lawmakers in North Carolina have pulled the state to the far right, proposing a series of laws that seem intended to weaken voting rights, environmental protections, and protections for the poor.
But over the past two weeks, college students have been trying to bring the state back to the center with acts of civil disobedience and planned arrests designed to draw attention to the state’s conservative policies.
Now it looks like veteran reinforcements are on the way.
Call them the “Raging Grannies.”
A group of activist grandmothers, “Raging Grannies” joined a protest “pray-in” that included students, civil rights advocates, and clergy from around the state. About 30 people were arrested at the statehouse in the demonstration designed to force the state legislature to reconsider some of the bills that wouldreduce funding for preschool education, reduce aid to the state university system, and ease restrictions on gun purchasing.May 10, 2013 at 12:09 pm #87819
Massachusetts’ Gomez already struggling badly
By Steve Benen
Fri May 10, 2013 10:35 AM EDT
Just a week after winning his party’s Senate special election primary in Massachusetts, Republican Gabriel Gomez finds himself in the middle of two fairly serious controversies. As of yesterday, the novice candidate is handling both poorly.
The first issue is Gomez’s involvement in a head-shaking tax scam — he claimed a $281,500 tax deduction by claiming not to change the facade of his house, despite the fact that he was already forbidden under local bylaws from changing the facade of his house. The Senate candidate, in other words, accepted a very generous reward for failing to do something he couldn’t do anyway.
Asked for an explanation, Gomez said it’s “disgraceful” and “dishonorable” for his opponent, Rep. Ed Markey (D), to bring this up. Apropos of nothing, Gomez added that the veteran congressman is a “hack.”
Of course, that didn’t answer the question about his apparent tax scam. Neither did this.
<I>Republican US Senate nominee Gabriel E. Gomez, facing questions about a $281,500 historic tax deduction on his Cohasset home, rejected calls Thursday from the media and Democrats to release tax returns and other details about the deal.
“I have nothing to hide,” said Gomez on a campaign stop in Lawrence, when asked by a Globe reporter why he would not make public the details about how the federal tax deduction was calculated for the easement to limit changes on the home that the candidate and his wife bought for $2.1 million in November 2004.</I>
Here’s a tip for politicians everywhere: don’t say you have nothing to hide while you’re hiding things without explanation.
Complicating matters, while this story was raising questions about Gomez’s integrity, another story was putting the Republican’s credibility in doubt.
Gomez is a rookie when it comes to seeking public office — his only previous experience was running for a local office in his small hometown, and he came in third out of three candidates — but he’s not entirely new to politics. In fact, just last year, he worked with a right-wing super PAC called the “Special Operations Opsec Education Fund,” which seemed to exist only to attack President Obama over the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.
This week, Gomez sought to distance himself from the smear operation, saying he didn’t work for the group he used to work for.
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