Thursday, June 10, 2010

Drake Says He Got Played By Rihanna

Since Drake's debut album Thank Me Later leaked last week, one of the most-talked-about tracks is its opening song, "Fireworks," where he reveals a brief relationship with pop star Rihanna.

If you're up on your gossip, over a year ago, the rapper and RiRi were spotted at Lucky Strike Lanes & Lounge in New York, where they were rumored to have spent the evening making out. From there, they were rumored to be dating. However, neither publicly confirmed any relationship. That is, until now, because Drizzy lets it all out in the song.

"I could tell it wasn't love, I just thought you'd f*** with me / Who could've predicted Lucky Strike would have you stuck with me," Drake spits on "Fireworks." "Damn / I kept my wits about me luckily, what happened between us that night, it always seems to trouble me / Now all of a sudden these gossip rags wanna cover me, and you makin' it seem like it happened that way because of me / But I was curious, and I'll never forget it baby, what an experience / You could've been the one, but it wasn't that serious."

In a recent interview with the NY Times, Drake explained what happened between the couple.

"I was a pawn," he told the paper. "You know what she was doing to me? She was doing exactly what I've done to so many women throughout my life, which is show them quality time, then disappear. I was like, 'Wow, this feels terrible.' "

Apparently Drake wrote a song for Rihanna, but it was never released.

Damn, like that Drake?

By Allen Starbury

U.S. Arrests 429 People in Drug Sweep

Project Deliverance continues -- Attorney General Eric Holder announced the arrest of 429 people yesterday in a drug sweep. That brings the total number arrested to 2,200.

Yesterday, 429 individuals in 16 states were arrested as part of Project Deliverance, which targeted the transportation infrastructure of Mexican drug trafficking organizations in the United States, especially along the Southwest border, through coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement. More than 3,000 agents and officers operated across the United States to make yesterday's arrests. During yesterday's enforcement action, $5.8 million in U.S. currency, 2,951 pounds of marijuana, 112 kilograms of cocaine, 17 pounds of methamphetamine, 141 weapons and 85 vehicles were seized by law enforcement agents.


In a coordinated action, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on June 9, 2010, named two individuals and two entities linked to the international drug trafficking organization La Familia Michoacana as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers. This action targeted Wenceslao Álvarez Álvarez, aka Wencho, his frontman Ignacio Mejia Gutierrez and two entities, Mega Empacadora de Frutas, S.A. de C.V. and I mportaciones y Exportaciones Nobaro , S.A. de C.V. Under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, any assets these individuals or entities may have under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen. In addition, U.S. persons are prohibited from conducting financial or commercial transactions with the designees.

DEA press release here.

Shawn King, wife of Larry King, left suicide note after overdose

Project Deliverance continues -- Attorney General Eric Holder announced the arrest of 429 people yesterday in a drug sweep. That brings the total number arrested to 2,200.

Yesterday, 429 individuals in 16 states were arrested as part of Project Deliverance, which targeted the transportation infrastructure of Mexican drug trafficking organizations in the United States, especially along the Southwest border, through coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement. More than 3,000 agents and officers operated across the United States to make yesterday's arrests. During yesterday's enforcement action, $5.8 million in U.S. currency, 2,951 pounds of marijuana, 112 kilograms of cocaine, 17 pounds of methamphetamine, 141 weapons and 85 vehicles were seized by law enforcement agents.


In a coordinated action, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on June 9, 2010, named two individuals and two entities linked to the international drug trafficking organization La Familia Michoacana as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers. This action targeted Wenceslao Álvarez Álvarez, aka Wencho, his frontman Ignacio Mejia Gutierrez and two entities, Mega Empacadora de Frutas, S.A. de C.V. and I mportaciones y Exportaciones Nobaro , S.A. de C.V. Under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, any assets these individuals or entities may have under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen. In addition, U.S. persons are prohibited from conducting financial or commercial transactions with the designees.

No Black Jurors Selected For Oscar Grant Murder TrialView Photos

LOS ANGELES — The upcoming trial of a white ex-transit officer charged with killing an unarmed black man in Oakland has already sparked racial tensions in the city, one of the reasons the trial was moved to Los Angeles.

On Tuesday, a jury of seven whites, four Hispanics, one East Indian — and no blacks — was selected to hear the case against former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle, according to KTVU-TV.

Mehserle is accused of murdering Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day 2009 in a shooting that was captured on video by several bystanders. He has pleaded not guilty and his attorneys have said he mistakenly pulled his gun rather than a Taser in an attempt to subdue Grant.

Prosecutors contend he intended to shoot Grant and he used his weapon because officers were losing control of the situation.

The trial could be the most racially polarizing of its kind in California since four Los Angeles police officers were acquitted of beating Rodney King in 1992.

Jack Bryson, who attended Tuesday’s proceedings and whose sons — Jackie and Nigel — were with Grant when he was killed, left the courtroom in disgust just after the jury was selected.

“This is like a slap in the face,” Bryson told The Associated Press. “This case came all the way to Los Angeles after the judge in Alameda County said they couldn’t get a fair and impartial jury there.

“This is the best you can do, and you did this in two days. We could’ve stayed back in Oakland for this.”

Cephus “Bobby” Johnson, Grant’s uncle, said Tuesday that he was “extremely surprised” that given L.A. County’s black population that not one African American was selected from the jury pool.

Selection began Monday with defense attorney Michael Rains asking some prospective jurists whether they’ve been subjected to racial profiling.

One young black woman said her husband was detained by police in Louisiana when he was a teen for simply being “on the wrong side of the tracks.”

“I think it comes with the territory of being black,” she said.

Asked by Rains if racial profiling still exists for her in Southern California, she replied: “Not as frequently.”

Juror 103, a middle-age, white property manager, recounted that he was with a group of black friends one time when they were stopped by police for “driving while black.” He said he didn’t know how often racial profiling occurred but it may have some effect on how he would view the case.

“I just trust that it’s not uncommon,” he said.

Deputy District Attorney David Stein polled every potential juror, asking if they could possibly convict a former police officer. He also asked those who have friends or family who work in law enforcement if they could withstand criticism if the jury found Mehserle guilty. Most said they could.

Bay Area defense attorney Michael Cardoza, who attended several pretrial proceedings, said he was surprised that a jury in such a heated case was selected so quickly.

“This could be a wake up call for communities (of color) who don’t heed to a jury summons. I think that’s the message that has to be sent. If you want representation you have to get out and serve,” Cardoza said.

DA: No DNA found on 7-year-old gang-raped in NJ

TRENTON, N.J. — Preliminary DNA tests found no evidence of semen on a 7-year-old New Jersey girl who police said was gang-raped after her stepsister sold her for sex.

The lack of DNA evidence will not cripple the state's case against two men and three teenagers who have been charged with rape, Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Downing wrote in a court document obtained by The Associated Press. The stepsister, who is 15, also is charged as a juvenile with promoting prostitution, aggravated sexual assault and other counts.

"The majority of the state's sexual assault cases are prosecuted without the benefit of (DNA) evidence," Downing wrote. Prosecutors have said they have physical evidence, such as injuries to the girl that are consistent with sexual assault.

Downing also said the state will not seek to try the three teenage boys and the stepsister as adults. The prosecution also consented to a judge reducing bail for the two adults — 19-year-old Tiemare Lewis and 20-year-old Gregory Leary — to $75,000 each. Bail had been $300,000 for Lewis, $500,000 for Leary.

Lewis' lawyer, Jason Hageman, said a judge approved his client's bail reduction and granted him a probable cause hearing, scheduled for Aug. 10.

"My client is innocent. And he looks forward to the day he's exonerated," Hageman said. "Sometimes justice takes a long time but it's worth the wait."

Leary's lawyer, Robin Lord, has not agreed to the $75,000 offer for her client and is requesting an even lower amount, because Leary's family cannot afford it.

The 7-year-old was pressured to give a story that is inconsistent with what happened at a March 30 party, Lord said, and should be grounds for a dismissal.

"The case is hardly as solid as the police originally leaked," Lord said. Without the DNA evidence, "you have an ethical obligation as a prosecuting authority to seek justice, not just a conviction."

Police say the stepsister sold the 7-year-old child to have sex with as many as seven men and boys at the party. The stepsister is said to have had sex with Leary, and he told police the 15-year-old said she was 18.

Shemika Leary, Gregory Leary's sister, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that her family would sue the state if her brother is acquitted, especially considering there is no DNA evidence implicating him.

"It went nationwide that he raped a 7-year-old girl," Leary's sister said. "They said he did it. So they took the words 'innocent until proven guilty' and just threw it in the trash."

In April, the 7-year-old's stepfather defended Leary, Lewis and a 17-year-old boy accused in the case, claiming the three tried to get the girl out of the apartment. He said they were kept from helping by others who held them at gunpoint.

The Associated Press does not identify sex crime victims and is not naming the stepfather so as not to identify the 7-year-old.

The prosecution has offered plea deals to the juveniles in exchange for their testimony against the adults. Downing said she wants to resolve the juvenile cases before offering plea deals to the adults.

Check Out Line: End of “cheap” labor in China?

Check out workers in China angling for a bigger slice of the economic pie.

The labor unrest that began in China’s richer areas among foreign firms is now spreading to poorer, interior regions, as a new generation of workers seek a bigger portion of the nation’s growing wealth. What impact could that have on companies that have flocked over the decades to China, drawn by the low manufacturing and labor costs, as well as one of the world’s biggest and fastest growing economies?

Japanese automaker Honda and iPhone maker Foxconn International have dealt with high-profile strikes recently, and now a Taiwanese sports goods supplier and a Japanese sewing machine maker, both some distance from China’s wealthier regions around Hong Kong and Shanghai, have seen worker strikes. Resolutions of strikes at Honda and Foxxconn resulted in pay raises of 66 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

The burst of strikes and work actions is a worry for China’s ruling Communist Party, which has long discouraged worker action and punished protesters. However, a senior China trade official said the country’s rising labor costs would not deter foreign investors because policies to boost domestic consumption offer a new reason for them to seek profits.

Honda wants to restart its auto production in China, while Foxconn hopes to raise prices to offset higher wages. That could affect the consumer if prices of the final products rise in step.

Foreign investors have been lulled into a false sense of security about China’s labor force and is learning otherwise now, some analysts have said. Others argue labor unrest is good for China and ultimately the world.

The Last Days Of ESPN Zone

By Chris Morran

It looks like Times Square will be losing one of its most venerated eateries with the news today that the Walt Disney Co. has decided to close almost all of their ESPN Zone restaurants.

There are currently ESPN Zones in NYC, Chicago, Anaheim, Baltimore, Las Vegas, L.A. and Washington, D.C. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the only Zones that will survive the shuttering are those tied directly to a Disney property. The company has already closed ESPN Zones in Atlanta and Denver.

No date or specific reason was given for the closings, though a rep for the company hinted that it's really just a matter of cost:

“Since their inception, the Zones have served sports fans very well... But from a pure business perspective, the economics have been challenging.

So enjoy your ESPN Zone while you can. That overpriced chicken wing may be the last one they serve.

Bank of England keeps interest rates at record low

LONDON (AP) – The Bank of England on Thursday left its base interest rate at a record low of 0.5 percent for the 16th consecutive month as the economic recovery remaines fragile and public spending cuts are expected to hamper future growth.

Find Trades Today The decision by the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee had been widely expected by analysts despite a rise in consumer price inflation to 3.7 percent in April – well above the official target of 2 percent.

Britain’s economy is recovering slowly from a long recession, and Prime Minister David Cameron’s new coalition government has yet to disclose its plans for reducing deficit spending – which are crucial to shore up confidence in its credit worthiness but risks hurting growth in coming years.

"The MPC was always unlikely to act before seeing what grisly measures the emergency budget on 22 June has in store for the U.K. economy," said Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight.

Hetal Mehta, senior economic adviser to the Ernst & Young ITEM Club, said he believes inflation was at or close to its peak.

"Our forecast shows inflation drifting downwards over the remainder of this year as the high margin of spare capacity exerts an increasing influence, then dropping below 2 percent at the start of next year," he said.

Freeman joins US World Cup bid committee

IRENE, South Africa — Actor Morgan Freeman, who portrayed Nelson Mandela in the movie "Invictus" about the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, has joined the committee trying to bring soccer's World Cup back to the United States in 2018 or 2022.

Freeman won the Academy Award for best supporting actor in 2004 for "Million Dollar Baby."

"I have seen the power that sport, and in particular soccer, can have on individuals around the world," Freeman said Thursday.

FIFA's executive committee will select the 2018 and 2022 hosts on Dec. 2.

The U.S., which staged the tournament in 1994, is competing with Australia, England, Russia, Spain-Portugal and Netherlands-Belgium for both tournaments. Japan, Qatar and South Korea are bidding for 2022 only.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger also are on the committee.

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Jewish leaders pressed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the issues of incitement and direct talks.

Politicians Cause Downsizing

By Howard Rich

Of all the myths helping to sustain the unsustainable status quo in Washington, D.C., among the most widely accepted is the belief that a politician’s seniority translates into tangible economic benefits for his or her district. In fact, this perception works hand-in-glove with another central government myth — the one about politicians being able to create private sector jobs with your tax dollars in the first place.

Perpetuated by aspiring elected officials at all levels of government (and parroted by an intellectually incurious mainstream media), these Keynesian pillars have gone virtually unchallenged for years — allowing government to continue devouring additional chunks of private sector industries it claims to be strengthening.

In recent years, however, public distrust of government has fueled renewed skepticism regarding these two myths — although the academic appetite to challenge them theoretically has been predictably lacking.

In fact, the research that could end up blowing these myths out of the water seems to have come about accidentally — or at least as an afterthought. Three professors at Harvard Business School — Lauren Cohen, Joshua Coval and Christopher Malloy — were examining the correlation between politically-connected firms and powerful legislative committee chairmen when they stumbled upon something “unexpected.”

What did they discover? Something free market advocates have known for years: Government spending kills jobs.

Get full story here.

America’s CEO

Scott Brown Ideally Positioned to Restore Democratic Accountability on Climate Policy

By Kevin Mooney

After providing the decisive vote in favor of economically unsound legislation that would open the way for additional taxpayer-funded bailouts, Sen. Scott “it’s the people’s seat” Brown will have the opportunity to right his ship today when a resolution aimed at restoring democratic accountability is brought to the floor.

Sen. Brown is one of only three Republicans who have declined to co-sponsor a resolution that would negate the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) scientifically-dubious endangerment finding that declared carbon dioxide a pollutant. The measure cannot be filibustered and needs just 51 votes to win approval.

With public support for “cap and trade” schemes collapsing, the Obama Administration is working aggressively to impose environmental regulations without Senate approval. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who introduced S.J. Res. 26, has made it clear that her resolution was not designed as a referendum on the science of global warming but rather as a safeguard against extra-constitutional administrative activity that intrudes upon congressional authority.

Brown’s home state figures prominently in the equation here in that it was the 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA U.S. Supreme Court ruling that has helped fuel the EPA’s regulatory overreach. The court ruled that the agency needed to bring its practices more in line with the requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA) but did not outline any specific regulatory requirements.

Get full story here.

Organized labor flushed their members’ cash down the toilet

By Adam Bitely

A senior White House official told Ben Smith of that “Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members’ money down the toilet on a pointless exercise.” This comment was made in reference to Obama-backed Blanche Lincoln defeating Big Labor candidate Bill Halter in the Arkansas Senate Primary.

The comment from the White House is spot on. The labor unions, in a fit of anger at Senator Lincoln who has not always towed their party line, frivolously spent cash that their members could have benefited from on a campaign that ultimately failed. There is no way for the unions to recoup their losses. The money is gone and the membership of the labor unions involved should be outraged.

Taxpayers should be outraged as well.

At the same time Big Labor was spending money like drunken sailors in Arkansas, their lobbyists stand with their hands out demanding that taxpayers bail out their dramatically underfunded pension systems to the tune of a possible $165 billion.

These same Big Labor lobbyists are slipping their hands into taxpayer wallets by convincing the Obama Administration and state governments like the state of Maryland to impose laws that require that union wages be paid for construction projects at an increased cost of between 15-20 percent.

Notorious for wasting the money of the members, Big Labor has even convinced the Obama Labor Department to roll back regulations that would require them to show their members how they spend their money. Unions are bad with money — and worse at defending the interests of the members they supposedly protect.

Get full story here.

Senate Democrats propose fivefold increase in tax on offshore oil

Senate Democrats brought up legislation Tuesday coupling a fivefold increase in the tax that oil companies pay into a spill liability fund with help for the jobless, doctors and cash-starved states.

The sprawling, 364-page bill contains many provisions long overdue for completion by Congress, including the renewal of dozens of popular but expired tax breaks for individuals and businesses.

Senate Democrats propose fivefold increase in tax on offshore oil

Tough-talking Obama aims to reverse poll slide

President Obama on Tuesday began a public relations offensive geared toward boosting voters' attitudes toward his health care overhaul and trying to stem Democrats' midterm election losses from an electorate skeptical of his policies.

Before facing seniors anxious about the effects of the health care law at a suburban Maryland town-hall gathering, Mr. Obama, stung by early criticism of his handling of the Gulf oil spill, stepped up his hard line against BP by saying in an interview on NBC's "Today" program that he'd have fired the oil company's chief executive officer and was constantly monitoring the cleanup in order to know "whose ass to kick."

Tough-talking Obama aims to reverse poll slide

US-Pakistani man sentenced for helping al-Qaeda

New York, June 10, 2010: A Pakistani-American has been sentenced to 15 years in jail by a court in New York for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

Syed Hashmi was arrested in London in 2006 and became the first person to be extradited under laws brought in by the UK after the 11 September 2001 attacks.

Hashmi was charged with sheltering an al-Qaeda operative in London between 2004 and 2006 and lending him money.Correspondents say that in a 20-minute address to the court on Wednesday, Hashmi was at times defiant, choked with tears and contrite.

He attributed his “many, many mistakes” to a misunderstanding of Islam and being manipulated by others.”I did it when I was ignorant of Allah and his message,” he said. “Muslims cannot wage war against non-Muslims in their host country.

“Yes, I was wrong in helping my brothers the noble mujahideen, but they will always be in my prayers.”He also berated the US for its treatment of Muslims in prisons, saying they were “held in captivity” like animals.

Human rights groups have criticised the terms of his imprisonment because for the past three years he has been held in solitary confinement with 23-hour-a-day lock downs, constant video surveillance and almost no visitors.

A Pakistani-born US citizen, Hashmi went to the UK on a student visa in 2003 and joined the radical Islamist group, al-Muhajiroun.He was accused by prosecutors of sheltering an al-Qaeda operative at his flat in London, letting the man use his mobile phone, lending him £200 ($290), and helping him store clothing collected for al-Qaeda members.

Correspondents say his case has been a controversial one from the start.

WTF?!? CNN: Obama cannot get angry because he is a black man?

Good Lord Almighty! The Raaaaacism Industrial Complex has gone into overdrive. Check out this hot mess from John Blake at CNN:

Here's proof that President Obama has indeed ushered in a new era in race relations.

Who would have ever expected some white Americans to demand that an African-American man show more rage?

If you've followed the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, you've heard the complaints that Obama isn't showing enough emotion.

But scholars say Obama's critics ignore a lesson from American history: Many white Americans don't like angry black men.

It's the lesson Obama absorbed from his upbringing, and from an impromptu remark he delivered last summer. Yet it's a lesson he may now have to jettison, they say, as public outrage spreads.

"Folks are waiting for a Samuel Jackson 'Snakes on the Plane' moment from this president as in: 'We gotta' get this $#@!!* oil back in the $#!!* rig!' But that's just not who Obama is,'' says Saladin Ambar, a political science professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Some of the same people crying for Obama to show more emotion would have voted against him if he had displayed anger during his presidential run, says William Jelani Cobb, author of "The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress."

"It would have fed deeply into a pre-existing set of narratives about the angry black man," Cobb says. "The anger would have gotten in the way. He would have frightened off white voters who were interested in him because he seemed to be like the black guy they worked with or went to graduate school with -- not a black guy who is threatening." [MORE]

You must be kidding me. I cannot believe Blake is trying to use racism as an excuse for Obama’s failings. I am telling you; at this rate the old race card will be in tatters by 2012.

This “angry black man” argument doesn’t hold water for a minute. First of all, I would imagine that any white person who gets freaked out at the sight of an "angry black man", probably did not vote for Obama in 2008 and probably won’t come 2012. So why should Obama even be concerned about offending them?

Secondly, I still don’t understand why the left is insisting on Obama showing emotion over the oil spill. What the situation calls for is competence not emotion. We are more than 50 days from the start of this disaster, yet people in the Gulf are still asking for the basics to protect their shores and BP is still playing games with information on the size and scope of the spill. This is the result of Obama’s incompetent managing of the situation and not the result of his lack of emotion.

If I was a white person and I read Blake’s article or saw the segment below my days of watching CNN would be soooo over.

By Another Black Conservative

It's a shame there isn't a toilet big enough to flush Master Rahm down

One of these clowns is the president of the United States and one is his chief of staff. I'm not exactly sure which is which, but apparently it doesn't really matter.

"Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members' money down the toilet on a pointless exercise. If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November."

-- "a senior White House official," who called

Politico's Ben Smith to deliver this message

"Another senior Democrat (who also would not be quoted by name) echoed the point in an exchange with the Huffington Post. 'Labor is humiliated,' the source said. '$10 million flushed down the toilet at a time when Democrats across the country are fighting for their lives, they look like absolute idiots.' "

-- from Sam Stein's Huffpost report, "Blanche Lincoln Win
Sparks Furious Sniping Between White House, Labor"

by Ken

Howie was just fulminating ("Obama Should Flush Jm Messina And Rahm Emanuel Down The Toilet") about the first quote above, the one from the "senior White House official who called Politico's Ben Smith to wage war on American labor, but I'm in uncontrollable-fulminating mood too.

First off, especially in light of Sam Stein's uncovering of yet "another senior Democrat" talking trash about labor, there's no longer any doubt in my mind that Doodyhead A is Master Rahm, leaving the role of Doodyhead B free for the other possibility Howie was considering, Jim Messina (Mini-Rahm?). If Doodyhead A isn't Master Rahm, it's only because for purposes of deniability he wrote the script for the Smith phone jihad and handed it off to an aide. Surely there can't be any question about whose sensibility and politics are being expressed.

(Technical note: This afternoon I have been unable to get the alleged permalink [see above] for the original Ben Smith blogpost reporting the White House official's call to work, and to access the post had to log onto our Ben's blog and scroll, scroll, scroll down. I'm not making an accusation here regarding this technical glitch, or even insinuating that there might be a reason for it. I'm just noting the fact.)

The thing about Master Rahm is only partly that he's a vicious, politically fraudulent demon, totally without principle and totally ruthless, although it would be nice if he would make clear that calling himself a "Democrat" says nothing about his political beliefs. The point I would stress in this connection is that as a political operative he's borderline incompetent -- not only flushing vast sums of money down the toilet for unelectable thug candidates, and vast sums of money for unfortunately electable ones.

He's incompetent as a political operative simply because his first priority is his own aggrandizement -- a good operative's job is to make the boss look good. And he's minimally competent as a majority-builder because so many of his congressional candidates were not only inferior to better ones he opposed, but so many deserving candidates could have made a serious showing with even minimal support, support he withheld because those are candidates who were too far to the left of the Bushist "center."

The Democratic congressional majorities happened much more in spite of than because of him, for the simple reason that he was less interested in a Democratic majority as such than in a docile, corporately controllable right-wing Democratic majority, the only significant difference being the initial, "R" or "D," on the T-shirts of the sleazoids who tap the way larger share of all that corporate cash flowing down.

And now, since I have heard no indication that the Master has either been fired or submitted his resignation in order to be able to spend time with his family (whether his family wants it or not), I am declaring officially that Master Rahm's politics are President Obama's politics. I have to admit that, as much as I've learned to loathe this hateful troll, I thought Howie was being overdramatic, or at least a bit premature, when he responded to the news that the president-elect wanted Rahm to be his chief of staff as the death knell for the Obama presidency. Now I think he was simply being prescient.

In response to my latest musings last night on whatever the hell it is that the president thinks he's doing, our friend Balakirev opined in a comment:

Ken, the way I figure it, he's either completely clueless, spineless, and will always be rolled from the right, or he's been a Conservadem all along who talks a good progressive game. And--quel surprise!- Obama's pre-presidential voting record shows he was one of the most conservative Dems in Congress. So "bipartisanship," in his lexicon, could well mean "I want to go corporatist on this issue, and will rig any attempt to do anything else by calling in people who think like me."

No doubt about Obama's Senate voting record, B. Howie was bitching about it back when the 2008 Democratic presidential field was forming -- that and the fact that Senator Obama considered Joe Lieberman his mentor. We should have all learned from that.

What still leaves me baffled, though, is how poor his performance has been as a ConservaDem. Unless -- and this really gets conspiratorial -- that this year and a half of constant screwing up and seeming ineptitude on the part of the Obama administration is how corporatists pursue their agenda with a Democrat in the White House and Democrats in control of both houses of Congress. You can't expect the guy to come out and actively support their agenda, but what if he just ensures that key parts slip through and as little as possible happens that materially compromises the entrenched interests of the status quo-ers.

Way, way back in the early months of the Obama administration (I'm sorry to say I don't recall which of the administration's startling pushbacks against, not just a progressive agenda, but anything that could conceivable construed as a left-of-Bush one, was at issue), one of the smartest people I know mentioned that he had taken to speculating about the possibility that it was a "Nixon in China" moment -- a position on whatever the issue was that was so far right that a declared right-winger couldn't have sold it, because everyone to his left would have denounced it and him, but that from Obama was being accepted with only incidental murmuring and grumbling.

I no longer feel any need or even impulse to explain away the president's behavior in making Master Rahm the linchpin of his administration. The fact is that he did.

Of course what's really funny in what is mostly an appalling response to the election results (and remember, it wasn't a momentary off-the-cuff indiscretion; he -- or a henchman -- called Ben with the express intention of planting these remarks in Politico) is how little this administration has done for labor. Does the Master really believe it's possible to do less?

Maybe he's thinking that he could unleash the demon spawn of the Confederacy, whose goal would be to abolish labor unions altogether. Could Master Rahm be taking credit for saving unions from that fate as something he's done for labor?

South Carolina Dems Call On Greene To Drop Out Of Senate Race

BY Eric Kleefeld

The South Carolina Democratic Party has now called upon its new nominee for Senate, Alvin Greene, to withdraw from the race the day after he won the state primary.

Democrats have quickly become somewhat embarrassed by Greene's upset win in the primary, due to the revelation that he was arrested last November for allegedly showing obscene Web photos to a university student. His mysterious candidacy began when Greene, who is unemployed and lives with his parents, showed up with a personal check for over $10,000 to register as a candidate. (He was then told that a personal check was not a proper method of payment -- and quickly showed up a few hours later with a check from a campaign account.)

Greene raised no money and did not do any campaigning, but nevertheless defeated the state Dems' favored candidate, former judge and ex-state legislator Vic Rawl, with 59% of the vote. State Dem chair Carol Fowler speculated that this could have been because his name was in the first position on the ballot. Incumbent Republican Sen. Jim DeMint was heavily favored to win re-election already, but Greene's candidacy undoubtedly provides further trouble for Democrats in the state in their efforts to win other races.

"We are proud to have nominated a Democratic ticket this year that, with the apparent exception of Mr. Greene, reflects South Carolina's values," Fowler said in a press release. "Our candidates want to give this state a new beginning without the drama and irresponsibility of the past 8 years, and the charges against Mr. Greene indicate that he cannot contribute to that new beginning."

Asked how Greene responded to Fowler's request, Dem spokesperson Keiana Page said: "He didn't respond directly. We hope he is giving it strong consideration."

(Additional reporting by Justin Elliott.)