Thursday, December 6, 2012

December 6

THAT doesn't look like an American car to me...
As the right wing continues to eat each other alive over the 2012 elections, Dick Armey has bailed out on FreedomWorks, the Koch Brothers' astroturfing outfit that booted the Tea Party into national prominence three years ago. And what a payout he's getting to go away.
A confidential contract obtained by The Associated Press shows that Armey agreed in September to resign from his role as chairman of Washington-based FreedomWorks in exchange for $8 million in consulting fees paid in annual $400,000 installments. Dated Sept. 24, the contract specifies that Armey would resign his position at both FreedomWorks and its sister organization, the FreedomWorks Foundation, by the end of November. According to the contract, Armey's consulting fees will be paid by Richard J. Stephenson, a prominent fundraiser and founder and chairman of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, a national cancer treatment network. Stephenson is on the board of directors of FreedomWorks. Armey's departure comes as a new sign of acrimony in conservative and Republican ranks as the party's bruised leadership struggles with its November electoral losses and uncertainty over how to recast its principles and issues to compete with an ascendant Democratic party.
Armey helped found FreedomWorks in 2004.  
President Obama made it very clear today that he will not negotiate on the national debt limit when he said "I will not play that game."

Joe Conason at The National Memo gets it.

Consider their treatment of Medicare, the popular social insurance program for seniors that Republicans have always despised. They have just emerged from a long national campaign in which they repeatedly and falsely claimed to "protect" Medicare from the president — whom they accused of wanting to slash $716 billion from the program — but now they complain that he won't cut it enough. The Obama cuts were mythical, but the Boehner budget proposal includes at least $600 billion in Medicare and Medicaid reductions.

Worse still, the Republicans propose to perform this crude surgery on Medicare without the slightest explanation of where they would cut.

But Obama is coming for your Medicare! Ooga booga!

What the Republicans are now proposing is actually worse than going over the fiscal cliff, which gives President Obama more reason than ever to ignore their demands. Because he knows just as well as you or I that they aren't serious people and should not be treated as such.


He's not a scientist, man!

GOP darling Marco Rubio has changed his mind on the whole how-old-is-the-earth debate. Or has he?

RUBIO: There is no scientific debate on the age of the earth. I mean, it's established pretty definitively, it's at least 4.5 billion years old. I was referring to a theological debate, which is a pretty health debate. And the theological debate is … how do you reconcile with what science has definitively established with what you may think your faith teaches. Now for me, actually, when it comes to the age of the earth, there is no conflict. I believe that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And I think that scientific advances have given us insight into when he did it and how he did it, but I still believe God did it…. I just think in America we should have the freedom to teach our children whatever it is we believe. And that means teaching them science, they have to know the science, but also parents have the right to teach them the theology and to reconcile the two things.

But I thought he wasn't a scientist, man.

There's just enough vagueness contained in Rubio's about-face on the age of the earth to entertain the idea that he still believes in creationism and that the earth is 6,000 years old, leaving himself room for plausible deniability.

Creationism aside, Rubio may have stepped in another pile of dung today when he declared that homosexuality is a sin.

ALLEN: Is homosexuality a sin?

RUBIO: Well, I can tell you what faith teaches and faith teaches that it is. And that's what the Bible teaches and that's what faith teaches. But it also teaches that there area bunch of other sins that are no less. For example, it teaches that lying is a sin. It teaches that disrespecting your parents is a sin. It teaches that stealing is a sin. It teaches that coveting your neighbor and what your neighbor has is a sin. So there isn't a person in this room that isn't guilty of sin. So, I don't go around pointing fingers in that regard. I'm responsible for my salvation and I'm responsible for my family's, and for inculcating in my family what our faith teaches, and they'll become adults and decide how they want to apply that in life. As a policy maker, I could just tell you that I'm informed by my faith. And my faith informs me in who I am as a person — but not as a way to pass judgment on people.

If your faith informs you as a lawmaker, that means you will either support or oppose legislation based on your faith. And if your faith says homosexuality is a sin, then you will oppose legislation that provides equal rights and opportunity to members of the LGBT community. That necessarily means you will be passing judgment on them.

Rubio is not as slick as he thinks he is, and all of this will be used against him without regard for his fickle tip-toeing.


Fox & Friends Outraged Over Obama Hosting Progressive Media But Had No Problem With George W Bush Hosting Right Wing Media



The word "lunatic" will be stricken from federal law under legislation that passed the House on Wednesday and is headed to President Obama for his signature.

The Congressional action is the latest effort to remove language from federal law that has become outdated or is considered demeaning. Two years ago Congress took out references to "mental retardation."

"The term 'lunatic' holds a place in antiquity and should no longer have a prominent place in our U.S. code," said Representative Robert C. Scott, Democrat of Virginia, shortly before the 398-to-1 vote in the House.

The lone "no" vote was cast by Representative Louie Gohmert…

You'd think he'd be happy to no longer be stigmatized. Although, then again, crazy people, much like stupid people, don't recognize they are crazy (or stupid). That's a burden the rest of has to bear.


Republicans alienate another large chunk of the population: According to the US Census Bureau [pdf], as of 2010, 56.7 million Americans from the civilian, non-institutionalized population had a disability—that's 18.7% of the US population. Of those, 38.3 million, 12.6 percent, had a severe disability. 


Wall Street Bank Cuts 11,000 Jobs After Paying Ousted Executives $14 Million


Oh goody, Citibank laid off almost 5% of their workforce RIGHT BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS, and this of course invites serious analysis about a variety of important topics. Like: what will these people and their families do vis a vis jobs? What about the fact that taxpayers bailed out Citi to the tune of $45 billion — does this create a sort of a social contract between Citi and the taxpayers and did Citi break it by laying these people off right before the holidays? What about the fact that recently-departed CEO Vikram Pandit took home over $200 million over the course of his five years at this company — was that appropriate in retrospect, considering that Citi is now engaging in massive layoffs, and if it's not, what steps should Citi take to ensure that executive pay packages are reasonable?

Except NONE of these topics were explored on CNBC, who devoted their Citi segment to discussing What This Means for the shareholders and for the market, which appeared to be pleased by Citi's human sacrifice. READ MORE »


Darden Restaurants, Inc. — owner of Red Lobster and Olive Garden — is battling back negative press attention in light of its October announcement that the company will use Obamacare as a reason to shift to part-time employees.

On Tuesday, the company released a statement revising down its prediction of profits, which led to a huge drop in stocks. Darden attributed the change to the negative attention around its stance on Obamacare, and promised to deal with the health care reform law "in ways that work for our employees":

"In light of these upcoming changes, we are being cautious about our sales and earnings forecast for the full year," [Darden's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Clarence Otis] continued. "Our outlook for the year also reflects the potential impact, though difficult to measure, of recent negative media coverage that focused on Darden within the full-service segment and how we might accommodate healthcare reform." [..]

"We are also committed to accommodating healthcare reform in ways that work for our employees and guests. Darden is a strong business which continues to generate solid cash flows that will support appropriate reinvestment in our brands, effective debt management and consistent dividend growth."

Under the Affordable Care Act, any business with 50 more full-time workers is required to offer a health care option to its employees by 2014. If a company chooses not to, and its workers instead seek subsidized care in the public exchanges, the company must pay a penalty.

Darden is one of several companies threatening to fire employees, switch workers to part time, or freeze hiring because of the health care law. One Applebee's franchise owner, the CEO of Papa John's Pizza, and a Denny's franchise CEO have made similar threats.

In addition to potentially earning those companies bad press, their complaints about the health reform law are off-base. In reality, Obamacare will, over time, decrease health care costs. It will also likely lead to more satisfied workers, competitive hiring, and higher rate of employee retention.

Update: AP is reporting that, in an effort to stem the negative attention, Darden will announce Thursday that they will not be moving any workers to a part-time schedule because of Obamacare. The company is, however, keeping the option open of relying more heavily on part-time employees in the future. Ultimately, reports a Darden spokesman, they tested a shift to part-time staff and found a decline in satisfaction all around:

After Darden's tests were reported in October, the company received a flood of feedback from customers through its website, on Facebook and in restaurants, said Bob McAdam, who heads government affairs and community relations for Darden. Additionally, he said that internal surveys showed both employee and customer satisfaction declined at restaurants where the tests were in place.

"What that taught us is that our restaurants perform better when we have full-time hourly employees involved," he said… McAdam declined to give specifics on the internal surveys but said the decline was "enough to make a decision."


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