Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Does The Name Anita Moncrief Ring A Bell?

It should, if the media had done its job, that is. Well, the Wall Street Journal did a while back, and I did a piece back in November on her. Her name should be familiar because she was a whistleblower on ACORN. And, she was having conversations with the New York Times
about ACORN and Obama, a story on which the Times chose to sit before the election. Kinda like when the LA Times refused to release videos of Obama attending an anti-Israel testimonial for a professor friend of his. But I digress...

The Bulletin
, one of the oldest newspapers in the country, had this story on Monday,'New York Times' Spiked Obama Donor Story:Congressional Testimony: ‘Game-Changer’ Article Would Have Connected Campaign With ACORN. The title pretty much says it all, and what it says is that the NY Times has completely ceased to be a reputable news reporting organization, and has revealed itself to be nothing more than a propaganda arm for Barack Obama. Sure, sure, it still pretends to report stories, and yes, it even has Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winner, Princeton Economics professor as a columnist, who is often critical of Obama's whacked out ideas, but he is a voice crying in the NY Times wilderness, for all intents and purposes.

But let's get into the nuts and bolts of the article - honestly, this does not require a lot of commentary for me as it is plain, in my humble opinion, that the NY Times has failed MISERABLY as any kind of reputable news source:
A lawyer involved with legal action against Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) told a House Judiciary subcommittee on March 19 The New York Times had killed a story in October that would have shown a close link between ACORN, Project Vote and the Obama campaign because it would have been a “a game changer.”

Heather Heidelbaugh, who represented the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee in the lawsuit against the group, recounted for the ommittee what she had been told by a former ACORN worker who had worked in the group’s Washington, D.C. office. The former worker, Anita Moncrief, told Ms. Heidelbaugh last October, during the state committee’s litigation against ACORN, she had been a “confidential informant for several months to The New York Times reporter, Stephanie Strom.”

Ms. Moncrief had been providing Ms. Strom with information about ACORN’s election activities. Ms. Strom had written several stories based on information Ms. Moncrief had given her.

During her testimony, Ms. Heidelbaugh said Ms. Moncrief had told her The New York Times articles stopped when she revealed that the Obama presidential campaign had sent its maxed-out donor list to ACORN’s Washington, D.C. office.

Ms. Moncrief told Ms. Heidelbaugh the campaign had asked her and her boss to “reach out to the maxed-out donors and solicit donations from them for Get Out the Vote efforts to be run by ACORN.”

Ms. Heidelbaugh then told the congressional panel:

“Upon learning this information and receiving the list of donors from the Obama campaign, Ms. Strom reported to Ms. Moncrief that her editors at The New York Times wanted her to kill the story because, and I quote, “it was a game changer.”’

"IT WAS A GAME CHANGER." Emphasis mine, obviously. The NY Times withheld a critical story regarding Barack Obama because it would impact the election. How can that be viewed as anything less than unethical,immoral, and as a complete and utter failure to do the work the Fourth Estate has been entrusted to do?

There is more:
Ms. Moncrief made her first overture to Ms. Heidelbaugh after The New York Times allegedly spiked the story — on Oct. 21, 2008. Last fall, she testified under oath about what she had learned about ACORN from her years in its Washington, D.C. office. Although she was present at the congressional hearing, she did not testify.

U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., the ranking Republican on the committee, said the interactions between the Obama campaign and ACORN, as described by Ms. Moncrief, and attested to before the committee by Ms. Heidelbaugh, could possibly violate federal election law, and “ACORN has a pattern of getting in trouble for violating federal election laws.”

He also voiced criticism of The New York Times.

“If true, The New York Times is showing once again that it is a not an impartial observer of the political scene,” he said. “If they want to be a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party, they should put Barack Obama approves of this in their newspaper.”

Academicians and journalism experts expressed similar criticism of the Times.

“The New York Times keeps going over the line in every single campaign and last year was the worst, easily,” said Mal Kline of the American Journalism Center. “They would ignore real questions worth examining about Obama, the questions about Bill Ayers or about how he got his house. Then on the other side they would try to manufacture scandals.”

Mr. Kline mentioned Gov. Sarah Palin was cleared by investigators of improperly firing an Alaska State Trooper, but went unnoticed by The Times.

“How many stories about this were in The New York Times,” he asked.

“If this is true, it would not surprise me at all. The New York Times is a liberal newspaper. It is dedicated to furthering the Democratic Party,” said Dr. Paul Kengor, professor of Political Science at Grove City College. “People think The New York Times is an objective news source and it is not. It would not surprise me that if they had a news story that would have swayed the election into McCain’s favor they would not have used it.”

Liberal or not, the issue is their integrity as a reputable news organization. That lack of integrity is most troubling.

Naturally, the ACORN people had something to say about all of this:
ACORN has issued statements claiming that Ms. Moncrief is merely a disgruntled former worker.

“None of this wild and varied list of charges has any credibility and we’re not going to spend our time on it,” said Kevin Whelan, ACORN deputy political director in a statement issued last week.

Yeah, okay. Just like ACORN is a NON-PARTISAN organization, too, right, Kevin? That was completely unbiased int his past election? Like this?

Ahem. Just save it already. We're not buying what you're selling.

And finally, here is the response from the NY Times:
Stephanie Strom was contacted for a comment, and The New York Times’ Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications Catherine Mathis replied with an e-mail in her place.

Ms. Mathis wrote, “In response to your questions to our reporter, Stephanie Strom, we do not discuss our newsgathering and won’t comment except to say that political considerations played no role in our decisions about how to cover this story or any other story about President Obama.” (Michael P. Tremoglie can be reached at mtremoglie@thebulletin.us)

Yeah, I bet you don't discuss your "newsgathering" because then you would have to discuss your "newsDUMPING," Ms. Mathis!

Between the LA Times and the NY Times, with a whole bunch of "news sources" in between, our media has made it blatantly obvious that reporting critical stories that might actually reveal important, RELEVANT information to the people, is squashed. Our Fourth Estate is no more. It is now a part of the Executive Branch.

Lou Dobbs is right: this is "obscene and outrageous." And an affront to our democracy, such as it is since the "game changer" information was suppressed. The NY Times needs to change its saying from "All the news that's fit to print" to "all the news we deem fit to print that best protects our chosen candidate(s)." And that makes them a propaganda rag, nothing more.

Monday, March 30, 2009

"The Great Outdoors"

On the puppies four week "birthday," we decided to take them outside for the very first time. It was so much fun - for all of us. Initially, they slunk down, not quite sure what the green stuff was, or the breeze, or the sun. That lasted about 1.7 seconds. Then, they were off and running!

I have proof:

And yes, that is me frolicking with the puppies. Or rather them frolicking ON me. What a fun day. Naturally, they all crashed after their exciting fifteen minute foray into the wild.

So you can see how big each one is getting, here they are:

Lucas, the first born -

Lucky is the black/white one coming toward you -

Leo is the brown one on the left, and Lani is the one on the right -

Leila, the last one born on March 1st.

Lucy took a two hour break, then came Locomotion -

And last, but not least by any means, Luna -

That's Lucky on his back with his feet crossed, and Locomotion all spread out. I have to admit, seeing them do this absolutely had me in stitches:

Hope you enjoyed this little break with my pack (and Go, HEELS!!!)!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Time Is Telling

You know I have long though Obama was just another Dubya. And he has found yet another way to demonstrate that. Now, this one had to wait until he was actually in office, but happen it has!

Remember how we all blew a gasket over Bush making sure people who asked him questions were his loyal followers? Oh, yeah - Obama, too! You may recall that during his most recent "I must have my face on national television as much as is humanly possible" "press conference," he said he would be taking more questions via the internet from us, the people. Just your normal, average, every day Americans who might have some concerns we want to share with our "Compassionate" president who cares all about the little people. (I know - I can barely write this stuff out.)

Except not so much your average ol' American: Obama Town Hall Questioners Were Campaign Backers

President Obama has promised to change the way the government does business, but in at least one respect he is taking a page from the Bush playbook, stocking his town hall Thursday with supporters whose soft -- though far from planted -- questions provided openings to discuss his preferred message of the day.

Obama has said, "I think it's important to engage your critics ... because not only will you occasionally change their mind but, more importantly, sometimes they will change your mind," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs recounted to The Post's Lois Romano in an interview Wednesday.

But while the online question portion of the White House town hall was open to any member of the public with an Internet connection, the five fully identified questioners called on randomly by the president in the East Room were anything but a diverse lot. They included: a member of the pro-Obama Service Employees International Union, a member of the Democratic National Committee who campaigned for Obama among Hispanics during the primary; a former Democratic candidate for Virginia state delegate who endorsed Obama last fall in an op-ed in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star; and a Virginia businessman who was a donor to Obama's campaign in 2008.

Well, I'll be hornswoggled - REALLY?? He didn't choose random people's questions to show all over the internet?? Hell no, he didn't. Did we really believe he would?
Here are their stories:

1. Sergio Salmeron: Self-description at the White House: "My name is Sergio Salmeron. I want to find out about health care."

Salmeron became engaged with the Obama campaign early in 2008, writing on his blog at my.barackobama.com, "We need to mobilize towards changing the trend of '2 to 1 Latinos favoring Hillary over Barack.' Let's make a resolute commitment... Let's put the facts on the table, ask the questions, until we understand how this all applies to us. Then strategize [sic] to get the word out to Latinos in America, who want change as much as everyone else."

He was a volunteer canvasser for the campaign, he told The Post, and did voter registration work and translated materials for the campaign, as well. A partner at Global Paradigm Strategies, Salmeron is volunteer "member of the Democratic National Committee" and continues to be active with the Obama campaign's successor, Organizing for America, which is how he got the White House invite, he said.

"I got a call from this woman who has been working with me for the pledge drive," he said, referring to the Organizing for America drive on behalf of the president's budget proposal. "You know, we're trying to get support out for the president's agenda."

2. Tom Sawner: Self-description: "Sir, I'm Tom Sawner. I'm a service-disabled veteran, small-business owner in Arlington, Virginia. My company, Educational Options, works with public schools."

According to Federal Election Commission records, Sawner made a $250 donation to Obama's campaign on Oct. 27, 2008. He also, as he noted Thursday, served as an adviser on Obama's educational platform committee. He said he was invited to the White House town hall through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Executive Council.

Sawner's no stranger to the White House, either; he attended President Bush's Feb. 2008 signing ceremony for that year's economic stimulus package -- another Chamber of Commerce invite. And in April 2008, he even became an anecdote in one of Bush's speeches.

"And I met a guy named Tom Sawner," the 43rd president said at a small business summit. "Now, he's an old fighter pilot, which means there's no wall he can [sic] run through. He's a doer, an achiever, and he's got him a small business called Educational Options."

But the event with Obama, Sawner said, "was a whole different look and feel" than the one with Bush. "This is a president who is into openness." And he didn't know he was going to be able to ask a question until he got to the forum, he said.

3. Carlos Del Toro: Self-description: "My name is Carlos Del Toro. I served in the Navy for 26 years, retired four years ago, and started a small business."

In 2007, Del Toro stood as a Democratic candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, but did not win. A supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic presidential primaries, he backed Obama against McCain in the general, endorsing him in an Oct. 24, 2008 op-ed in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star.

"As a Virginia small-business owner, veteran, and Latino, I'm voting for Sen. Barack Obama for the same reasons as millions of other Americans: because I believe this country desperately needs change. Obama will change our economic policies to help middle-class families, promote the growth of small businesses, and increase funding for veterans' affairs, so no member of our armed services goes without the medical treatment he or she needs and deserves," he wrote.

In 2008, he donated $2,750 to Virginia Democratic candidates for office, according to the Center for Responsive Politics; in 2006, he gave $1000 to the campaign of now Sen. Jim Webb (Va.), FEC records show.

He also has ties to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Council.

Wouldn't it have been really funny if, say, Donna Brazile, was one of the people who got to ask the President a question? Sorry - just popped into my head, especially as she is trying to pass herself off as just another citizen when she speaks at the DOJ (Ani has an excellent post on the hubris, and downright insult of having Brazile, that very partisan back-stabber, not-exactly-a-major-feminist speaking on women's issues). Ahem. Sorry.

Here's the rest:
4. Linda Bock: "My name is Linda Bock and I'm a registered nurse just in Prince George's County, Maryland -- been there 34 years at a free senior health center. And I'm here with my fellow nurses from SEIU."

Bock, along with her chapter of the SEIU and her son and daughter, helped campaign and canvass for Obama, she said. After Obama was elected, she wrote in the Landover, Md., 1199 SEIU nurses' newsletter: "Now we have our work cut out for us -to hold our elected officials accountable. And I hope they hold us accountable too. We all have work to do to make the changes needed to restore our reputation, to heal the wounds of war, to repair our earth and regulate its resources; and, to secure our economic future. It will take sacrifice and service. It will take prayer and the grace of God. Now we have hope. We have President-elect Barack Obama. God bless America."

Her invite to the White House came through the Nurse Alliance Leadership Council, she said. And like Sawner, she didn't know until she got to the forum that it was open to the in real life participants. "I did not think we would be able to ask any questions," she said. "I wasn't personally anticipating being chosen to ask anything. We knew that the Web portion was people already lined up."

5. Bonnee L. Breese: "Hi, Mr. President. Thank you so very much for having me, a public school teacher from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, here to be with you.
THE PRESIDENT: What's your name?
Q Bonnee Breese.
THE PRESIDENT: Good to see you, Bonnee.
Q Thank you. I'm from Overbrook High School. I have to say that, because I know all the children are watching. (Laughter.)"

Breese has not donated a reportable amount to Obama, according to the FEC. She is a member of the 11,626-person Pennsylvania for Obama page on Facebook.

A supporter of the president's -- "Of course!" she said -- Breese was invited to the meeting through the American Federation of Teachers union. She sits on the executive board of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Local 3, she said, and is known in her area for being politically engaged.

The sixth in-person presidential questioner, "Ellie" from Maryland, did not give her surname. The White House did not respond to a request for it, but noted there were roughly 100 people in the audience.

"The audience was composed of approximately 100 people, including teachers, nurses, small business owners, and community leaders -- and the virtual audience of thousands across the country who have submitted questions online," said White House spokesman Nicholas S. Shapiro. "The White House reached out to a number of community groups and the chamber of commerce and those groups invited their folks to come and participate."

Oh, yes, I am just so sure they did pick some random people who are simply "concerned citizens" - who believe in supporting everything Obama does. Perfect. What next, a "White House of Chicago, IL"?? Maybe Farrakhan will let him buy his complex to do that. Since it is only a couple of blocks from his current home, he already knows the neighborhood and everything, so it makes sense. Or maybe Rezko can sell him some more property (at a cut rate, naturally) around the house he already has. Just a thought.

Gee - I wonder which Bush-type thing he'll do next??

Saturday, March 28, 2009

CIA Expert Reviews Electronic Voting Machines

I came across this interesting story the other day, "Most Electronic Voting Isn't Secure, CIA Expert Says." Well, no freakin' kidding - anyone who has paid the LEAST bit of attention to the issue of electronic voting machines knows that, right? Thank heavens, someone int he government is FINALLY addressing this issue! Except, just not here:
The CIA, which has been monitoring foreign countries' use of electronic voting systems, has reported apparent vote-rigging schemes in Venezuela, Macedonia and Ukraine and a raft of concerns about the machines' vulnerability to tampering.

Appearing last month before a U.S. Election Assistance Commission field hearing in Orlando, Fla., a CIA cybersecurity expert suggested that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his allies fixed a 2004 election recount, an assertion that could further roil U.S. relations with the Latin leader.

In a presentation that could provide disturbing lessons for the United States, where electronic voting is becoming universal, Steve Stigall summarized what he described as attempts to use computers to undermine democratic elections in developing nations. His remarks have received no news media attention until now.

Stigall told the Election Assistance Commission, a tiny agency that Congress created in 2002 to modernize U.S. voting, that computerized electoral systems can be manipulated at five stages, from altering voter registration lists to posting results.

"You heard the old adage 'follow the money,' " Stigall said, according to a transcript of his hour-long presentation that McClatchy obtained. "I follow the vote. And wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to . . . make bad things happen."

Stigall said that voting equipment connected to the Internet could be hacked, and machines that weren't connected could be compromised wirelessly. Eleven U.S. states have banned or limited wireless capability in voting equipment, but Stigall said that election officials didn't always know it when wireless cards were embedded in their machines.

Oh, goodie - yet more ways for people to commit voter fraud! Ahem. As if they NEED any more ways - and I know he is talking about other countries, but the possibility of wireless and Internet voting coming to a town/city/overseas military base is most DEFINITELY possible.

And now, to the good ol' USA:
While Stigall said that he wasn't speaking for the CIA and wouldn't address U.S. voting systems, his presentation appeared to undercut calls by some U.S. politicians to shift to Internet balloting, at least for military personnel and other American citizens living overseas. Stigall said that most Web-based ballot systems had proved to be insecure.

The commission has been criticized for giving states more than $1 billion to buy electronic equipment without first setting performance standards. Numerous computer-security experts have concluded that U.S. systems can be hacked, and allegations of tampering in Ohio, Florida and other swing states have triggered a campaign to require all voting machines to produce paper audit trails.

The CIA got interested in electronic systems a few years ago, Stigall said, after concluding that foreigners might try to hack U.S. election systems. He said he couldn't elaborate "in an open, unclassified forum," but that any concerns would be relayed to U.S. election officials.

Holy frijoles, really?? Yikes - another good reason not to do this. Not that we didn't have foreign interference this past election with campaign contributions, specifically to the Obama campaign (I wonder just how many laws Obama broke getting himself into the White House??)

The expert got more specific about a few countries:
Stigall, who's studied electronic systems in about three dozen countries, said that most countries' machines produced paper receipts that voters then dropped into boxes. However, even that doesn't prevent corruption, he said.

Turning to Venezuela, he said that Chavez controlled all of the country's voting equipment before he won a 2004 nationwide recall vote that had threatened to end his rule.

When Chavez won, Venezuelan mathematicians challenged results that showed him to be consistently strong in parts of the country where he had weak support. The mathematicians found "a very subtle algorithm" that appeared to adjust the vote in Chavez's favor, Stigall said.

Calls for a recount left Chavez facing a dilemma, because the voting machines produced paper ballots, Stigall said.

"How do you defeat the paper ballots the machines spit out?" Stigall asked. "Those numbers must agree, must they not, with the electronic voting-machine count? . . . In this case, he simply took a gamble."

Stigall said that Chavez agreed to allow 100 of 19,000 voting machines to be audited.

"It is my understanding that the computer software program that generated the random number list of voting machines that were being randomly audited, that program was provided by Chavez," Stigall said. "That's my understanding. It generated a list of computers that could be audited, and they audited those computers.

"You know. No pattern of fraud there."

A Venezuelan Embassy representative in Washington declined immediate comment.

The disclosure of Stigall's remarks comes amid recent hostile rhetoric between President Barack Obama and Chavez. On Sunday, Chavez was quoted as reacting hotly to Obama's assertion that he's been "exporting terrorism," referring to the new U.S. president as a "poor ignorant person."

Questions about Venezuela's voting equipment caused a stir in the United States long before Obama became president, because Smartmatic, a voting machine company that partnered with a firm hired by Chavez's government, owned U.S.-based Sequoia Voting Systems until 2007. Sequoia machines were in use in 16 states and the District of Columbia at the time.

Reacting to complaints that the arrangement was a national security concern, the Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States launched an investigation. Smartmatic then announced in November 2007 that it had sold Sequoia to a group of investors led by Sequoia's U.S.-based management team, thus ending the inquiry.

Again, WHY have we not had this level of investigation HERE??? Blackboxvoting.org has documented instance after instance after INSTANCE of electronic voting machine shenanigans (examples below), and we sure have not had the Treasury Department launching full scale investigations HERE! Pathetic.

As for Chavez allegedly fixing the election in 2004, I think it is safe to say we shouldn't be throwing stones (as in living in a glass house ourselves), no matter whether you like/hate Chavez. We need only look back at our past 3 elections to prove that point. Unless this is one of those, "do as we say, not as we do" kind of things...

And isn't it interesting that Obama is picking fights with Chavez, too, just like Bush did? Curious...

Back to the international scene:
In the former Soviet republic of Georgia, Stigall said, hackers took resurrecting the dead to "a new art form" by adding the names of people who'd died in the 18th century to computerized voter-registration lists. Macedonia was accused of "voter genocide" because the names of so many Albanians living in the country were eradicated from the computerized lists, Stigall said.

He said that elections also could be manipulated when votes were cast, when ballots were moved or transmitted to central collection points, when official results were tabulated and when the totals were posted on the Internet.

In Ukraine, Stigall said, opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko lost a 2004 presidential election runoff because supporters of Russian-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych "introduced an unauthorized computer into the Ukraine election committee national headquarters. They snuck it in.

"The implication is that these people were . . . making subtle adjustments to the vote. In other words, intercepting the votes before it goes to the official computer for tabulation."

Taped cell-phone calls of the ensuing cover-up led to nationwide protests and a second runoff, which Yushchenko won.

Election Assistance Commission officials didn't trumpet Stigall's appearance Feb. 27, and he began by saying that he didn't wish to be identified. However, the election agency had posted his name and biography on its Web site before his appearance.

Electronic voting systems have been controversial in advanced countries, too. Germany's constitutional court banned computerized machines this month on the grounds that they don't allow voters to check their choices.

Well, there's a concept. Germany actually cares that the voter can assure his or her vote is recorded accurately. What a concept! Ad more:
Stigall said that some countries had taken novel steps that improved security.

For example, he said, Internet systems that encrypt vote results so they're unrecognizable during transmission "greatly complicates malicious corruption." Switzerland, he noted, has had success in securing Internet voting by mailing every registered citizen scratch cards that contain unique identification numbers for signing on to the Internet. Then the voters must answer personal security questions, such as naming their mothers' birthplaces.

Stigall commended Russia for transmitting vote totals over classified communication lines and inviting hackers to test its electronic voting system for vulnerabilities. He said that Russia now hoped to enable its citizens to vote via cell phones by next year.

"As Russia moves to a one-party state," he said, "they're trying to make their elections available . . . so everyone can vote for the one party. That's the irony."

After reviewing Stigall's remarks, Susannah Goodman, the director of election reform for the citizens' lobby Common Cause, said they showed that "we can no longer ignore the fact that all of these risks are present right here at home . . . and must secure our election system by requiring every voter to have his or her vote recorded on a paper ballot."

Well, true that, Ms. Goodman. We have our own problems here, like Bev Harris of Black Box Voting finding garbage bags full of CERTIFIED votes tossed out in the trash, while another set were resented as the count. I am not making this crap up. Check it: Certified Votes found in trash in Florida.

Or how about this one: . Oh, now THAT'S some security there, because NO ONE can get a mini-bar key, right??

A NUMBER of states have had issues with voting machine problems. Check
HERE - I bet you'll find your state listed (special nod to my home state, NC, which had some machines that, once they reached their pre-designed total, began to count BACKWARDS.
Mini-bar key can open Diebold Electronic Voting Machines.

The problems in New Mexico were so rampant, it is thought they cost Kerry the presidency. They continued this past year, too, and not just in New Mexico.

Don't even get me started on Ohio, both in 2004 and 2008 (I have written about the voter fraud issues in Ohio a number of times, as have a bunch of others. You can view previous articles Here, Here, and Here, for starters.)

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of voting machine issues in this country.

Ms. Goodman is absolutely right - we cannot ignore the voting problems we have at home. I sure wish the FBI, Treasury Department, and anyone else in the upper echelons of government, would do as much work here at home as the CIA is doing abroad on this critical issue. In my humble opinion, we have not had legitimate elections since the introduction of the Diebold machines. Add in blatant voter fraud (and one man gleefully acknowledged he voted more than once on national tv), and I think it is safe to say our elections do not "count every vote" (neither does the Democratic Party for that matter - oh, wait - they do, just not the way in which the people cast them).

We need REAL voting machine reform in this country, too, the sooner the better, preferably by 2010 (elections are not THAT far away)...

Friday, March 27, 2009

"This One's For the Girls"

Since we have been talking about our beloved Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the one with the 70% approval rating, the one who was just honored as a Global Trailblazer and who received over 2 minutes of a standing ovation (MUST READ post by Ani: Hillary Receives Some Well Deserved Accolades), I wanted to share about another strong woman making a difference on an issue important to me: domestic violence. With Clinton's commitment to women and children, this is an extension of the love-fest by broadening the circle to include another woman doing the work.

Thursday, I happened to catch Martina McBride, whom I love, talking about her work with teens and the issue of domestic violence. She is involved with an organization entitled, loveisrespect, the mission of which is to educate teens on this issue, an issue that affects 1 out of 4 teens (just like the adult population). This is a part of the Love Is Not Abuse site, sponsored by Liz Claiborne.

In terms of Martina McBride specifically, the site has this:
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline have partnered in a new program called My Time to Shine, which has been announced in conjunction with the release of her new album, Shine.

As the mother of three daughters, four-time CMA Female Vocalist is passionate about the need to increase awareness for teens and parents about teen dating abuse, and about how to develop healthy relationships. Recent research has shown that one in three girls who have been in a serious relationship say they’ve been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner.

My Time to Shine was developed for Martina’s Shine CD and tour around the concept that the teen years should be a young person’s time to shine—the time in their lives when they discover who they are, what their talents are and how to have healthy relationships.

When the contemporary country singer released Independence Day in 1994*, she never dreamed that the song would resonate so powerfully with victims of family violence. It opened her eyes to the issue and changed her life. On concert tours, Martina began visiting high schools to talk to young women about self worth. Since then, she has been involved in fundraising for several programs that benefit women. My Time to Shine expands her work and is an opportunity for her to include her 14-year-old daughter, Delaney in a cause they can both relate to.

Starting with the morning TV shows this week, Martina will promote both the new CD and the awareness program. In addition Martina will
speak out in public service announcements which will be shown at her concert venues when her tour begins in October. My Time to Shine merchandise will be sold at Martina’s concerts to raise funds to benefit the teen helpline.

For more on the Shine album, visit www.martina-mcbride.com.

Heaven knows, we don't talk enough about domestic violence in general, much less how it affects our young women. And now there is additional technology to assist those who would abuse our young women - texting, Twittering, facebook, Myspace, you name it. So many new ways to keep up with them, try to isolate them, have ammunition to use against them, and to terrorize them. The statistics on teen girls is sobering:
Nearly three in four tweens (72%) say boyfriend/girlfriend relationships usually begin at age 14 or younger. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2008.)

62% of tweens (age 11-14) who have been in a relationship say they know friends who have been verbally abused (called stupid, worthless, ugly, etc) by a boyfriend/girlfriend. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2008.)

Only half of all tweens (age 11-14) claim to know the warning signs of a bad/hurtful relationship. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2008.)

More than three times as many tweens (20%) as parents (6%) admit that parents know little or nothing about the tweens dating relationships. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2008.)

1 in 3 teenagers report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by their partner. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.)

Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a break-up. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.)

13% of teenage girls who said they have been in a relationship report being physically hurt or hit. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.)

1 in 4 teenage girls who have been in relationships reveal they have been pressured to perform oral sex or engage in intercourse. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.)

More than 1 in 4 teenage girls in a relationship (26%) report enduring repeated verbal abuse. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.)

80% of teens regard verbal abuse as a "serious issue" for their age group. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.)

If trapped in an abusive relationship, 73% of teens said they would turn to a friend for help; but only 33% who have been in or known about an abusive relationship said they have told anyone about it. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.)

Twenty-four percent of 14 to 17-year-olds know at least one student who has been the victim of dating violence, yet 81% of parents either believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don't know if it is an issue. (Survey commissioned by the Empower Program, sponsored by Liz Claiborne Inc. and conducted by Knowledge Networks, Social Control, Verbal Abuse, and Violence Among Teenagers, December 2000)

Less than 25% of teens say they have discussed dating violence with their parents. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study of teens 13-17 conducted by Applied Research and Consulting LLC, Spring 2000)

89% of teens between the ages of 13 and 18 say they have been in dating relationships; forty percent of teenage girls age 14 to 17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend. (Children Now/Kaiser Permanente poll, December 1995)

Nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused in their intimate relationships continue to date their abuser. (City of New York, Teen Relationship Abuse Fact Sheet, March 1998)

Of the women between the ages 15-19 murdered each year, 30% are killed by their husband or boyfriend. (City of New York, Teen Relationship Abuse Fact Sheet, March 1998)

Wowie freakin' zowie. Sobering, indeed. Violence is so prevalent in our society, and the targets are far, far too often women. Systemic cultural violence needs to be addressed in general, but specifically as it relates to women and our teenage daughters, nieces, and grand-daughters.

Liz Claiborne and Martina McBride are doing just that, thank heavens, but we ALL need to be aware of this issue - educate ourselves and the young women in our lives, and work to end violence against women period. The time is now.

*This is "Independence Day," referenced above:

So, "This one is for the girls":

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Secretary Clinton In Mexico

Secretary Clinton participated in a press conference yesterday with Secretary Patricia Espinosa. From the State Department website:
At the invitation of Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa, Secretary Clinton is traveling to Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico from March 25 to 26. While in Mexico, Secretary Clinton will discuss a broad range of bilateral and international issues of mutual interest, including cooperation under the Merida Initiative.

The video from their joint press conference is below:

Check out the very first reporter - he asked Clinton a number of questions. She, being the brilliant, capable woman she is, just laughed, and began to answer them all. No "uh, um, er, ah, well, um, well, LOOK" crapola came out of her mouth.

How lovely that Secretary Espinosa asked Secretary Clinton to return often, and for Secretary Clinton to respond with great affection for Mexico, having spent her honeymoon there!

If you wish to follow her travel schedule, you can click HERE.

While in Mexico, Secretary Clinton stated, as noted in this article, "U.S. Drug Policies Failed, Fueled Mexico Drug Wars":
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Mexico on Wednesday with a blunt mea culpa, saying that decades of U.S. anti-narcotics policies have been a failure and have contributed to the explosion of drug violence south of the border.

"Clearly what we've been doing has not worked," Clinton told reporters on her plane at the start of her two-day trip, saying that U.S. policies on curbing drug use, narcotics shipments and the flow of guns have been ineffective.

"Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade," she added. "Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police, of soldiers and civilians."

Wow - that's huge. Clinton also said:
In comments to U.S. reporters, Clinton called for a new approach to tackling the drug problem, noting that "we have been pursuing these strategies for 30 years."

"Neither interdiction [of drugs] nor reducing demand have been successful," she said.

She continued in this vein, stating the issues without mincing words:
"Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the death of police officers, soldiers and civilians," Clinton told reporters during her flight to Mexico City.

"I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility."...

"We will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you ... Our relationship is far greater than any threat," Clinton said at a news conference in Mexico City.

As well we should.

Secretary Clinton continues her travels today, continuing her good work on behalf of our nation. Damn, she makes me proud. And DAMN, she should be our president. But many of you already know that...She does our country proud.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

And To Take Our Minds Off...

Yet another Obama mugging for the cameras, hopefully, a little change of subject. But first, are you as sick as I am of seeing his face EVERYWHERE??? Hell, you can't even go to the GROCERY store without seeing him on the front of Vanity Fair now. Anyway, he's back on tv, trying to convince us of why his BS plan of expanding the government even more, co-opting companies whole cloth (I could be wrong, but isn't that Socialism with a Capital "S" with a potential move to full on Communism when the government takes over COMPANIES?), and our ever expanding national debt, once again, I want to talk about Secretary Clinton.

Yes, that tireless worker for our country, who does not need a teleprompter every where she goes (I wonder if that is how he has conversations with family and friends, like all of those hilarious YouTube videos out now, showing the teleprompter as Obama's best friend - I'll include a link at the bottom just for fun), and is capable of speaking extemporaneously without looking like a deer in the headlights or stammering for 15 seconds at a time. Ahem.

Secretary Clinton is on her way to Mexico to discuss trade issues, but will also be discussing the increasing levels of violence there as the drug wars rage on. It is a pretty scary time for Mexico, and for the border states in the US. In fact, it is seen as such a concern that Janet Nappolitano announced Tuesday a $184 MILLION dollar boost to border security.

In case you aren't familiar with what is happening, here is one example:

And here is another one:

As you can see, Secretary Clinton will have her work cut out for her. Once she is there, and has had a chance to meet with folks, I'll let you know how it turned out. This is a big deal, though, and cannot be understated - what happens in Mexico definitely has an impact on us here in a NUMBER of ways. The violence alone, especially so close to the borders, is already having a massive impact(feel free to jump in with a way you see the impact, from immigration on). So, I'll get back to you on this very important trip.

And as promised, here is just one of the videos out now about Obama's relationship with his teleprompter:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

They Grow Up So Fast...

You asked for it, you got it! PUPPIES!!!!! I apologize that you cannot hear their barking and growling - I don't have a real video camera, so these will have to do. But, they are mighty, mighty cute, don't you think?

OH! So far, one of the vet techs at our very good vet want's one. I'm hoping that when we take them in for their four weeks check-up, some others there won't be able to resist. Take a look - could you??

I hope this is a nice distraction from whatever the current crapola is going on in the world...

Oh, THIS Should Bring About Change...

NOT!!! This is rich - so, rich. Check out this headline (h/t to Will Bowers): DNC's Kaine Picks Panel To Reform Democrats' Entire Nominating Process. Yep, Tim Kaine, the anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-stem cell Chair of the DNC is going to reform the Democratic Nominating Process. And wait until you see just who the great reformers are he has picked:
Good news for Michigan and Florida Democrats. You might not get cut out of the party's messy primary voting process again in 2012.

Of course, with an incumbent Barack Obama, the Democrats' presidential-candidate-picking process may be moot:

Assuming the rookie Great Change Agent quickly fills five dozen empty slots at Treasury, fixes the nation's economy, creates multiple millions of jobs, reforms the country's entire education system, makes it affordable to ever Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskilly American, creates a thriving green economy, reduces dependence on foreign oil, solves the housing crisis, keeps interest rates low, prevents inflation, avoids an Afghan quagmire, cuts taxes for 95% of Americans, screws over the other 5% and halves the national debt.

Oh, and cleanses the culture of greed and entitlement on every U.S. street including the one named Wall.

Last year's Democratic primaries were hardfought even bitter affairs, not helped by the initial banning of the results of those important twin states, which denied Hillary Clinton two crucial albeit sneaky victories.

What the hell does THAT mean?? The only one who was SNEAKY in this process was OBAMA!! He's the one who took his name taken off the ballot, and encouraged others to do so as well, to try and embarrass Clinton out of the win! He's the ONLY one who campaigned in Florida, and Clinton still won in a landslide. And SHE'S the one who is sneaky? Okay - I see how they are revising history on this one. Because we can't have anyone better than Precious, can we? Ah, yes, because EVERYONE wanted Obama, apparently - except for the majority who voted for Clinton, but let's not allow facts to influence the storyline. Ahem.

Back to the article:
And all presided over by another former unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate, Howard Dean.

Dean is gone now, unceremoniously dumped and denied a Cabinet job by the Obama camp, in favor of parttime chair, Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia. He''ll take over fulltime next year to earn his D.C. chops and, come 2012, probably replace aging Joe Biden as Obama's VP who, you may remember, was a senator way back when Obama was a sixth grader. (Although keep your eyes on Missouri's most Twittering senator.)

But watch out. CNBC announced today that Dean has signed on there as a commentator. Now, all that cable channel needs is some viewers and Dean can be heard to get even on-air.

Oh, yippee. But this is where is gets good:
The 37-member Democratic Change Commission will be headed by Sen. Claire McCaskill (who likes to Twitter) and Rep. James Clyburn, both ardent Obama backers. And Obama's ex-campaign manager David Plouffe is also on.

The goal, Kaine says, is "to put voters first and ensure that as many people as possible can participate." A complete list of commission members is below; scroll down or click on the "Read more" line.

The commission, which grows from a convention resolution by Obama last August, will have three goals: chop the number of superdelegates, reform the caucus system and change "the window of time" for caucuses and primaries. Should Iowa and New Hampshire be worried?

The commission's report is due by next New Years Day.

I'm sorry, but how are the same people who created the problems we had this past Primary going to REFORM it?? You have my back-stabbing, lying, conniving representative, James Clyburn in there, the one who pushed the meme that the Clinton's were racist. And DAVID PLOUFFE!!!! The man who orchestrated Obama's campaign, the one in which he engaged massive caucus fraud, and the above mentioned shenanigans.

This is just great. I wonder how they are going to reform it, exactly? Abolish it completely so Precious can forever on out be the Democratic Nominee?? Having these folks on this committee is a whole lot like having the foxes guard the chicken coop. I am not expecting a whole lot of protecting our votes here since this was the tack Plouffe took during the vote controversy: What we're interested in is a fair resolution; we don't think it's fair to seat them fully," Plouffe said.
"We're not going to support something that gives her too many delegates. We all last year played by the rules. It was only after the fact when they needed the delegates that they tried to change the rules. I don't think you can at the 11th hour change the rules that you try to live by because it benefits you." But Obama's stance on the issue, like his opponent's, has just as much to do with politics as principle; the Obama campaign clearly doesn't want Clinton to close the delegate gap enough that she can possibly convince enough superdelegates to throw their support her way, or give her a chance to claim a victory in the popular vote.

The One was the one who was trying to change things, but the key statement is the first one, "We're not going to support something that gives her too many delegates." Never mind that she WON those delegates with OUR votes. And taking lawfully cast and certified votes from one candidate to give to another is so far from any sense of fairness and decency, that I cannot imagine how someone like David Plouffe is going to "reform" the nominating process. All primaries will now be caucuses with ACORN running them? All voting precincts will be staffed with ACORN members, or Obama Army personnel? Only people whose last name beings with "O" and end in "a" can run? Whatever it it, I think they just may have to remove that pesky word from title - you know the one, "Democratic."

Here's the rest of the gang:
Membership of the 2009 Democratic Party Commission on Change:

Co-Chairs: Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri, and Rep. James Clyburn, South Carolina.

Members: Jeremy Alters, Florida; Jeff Berman, Washington, D.C; Ashley Bliss, Georgia; State Rep. Dan Blue, North Carolina; Bill Carrick, Los Angeles; Mayor Michael Coleman, Columbus, Ohio; Jeff Forbes, Washington; Joan Garry, New Jersey; Kansas state chairman Larry Gates; Adelita Grijalva, Arizona; Rob Hampshire, Pennsylvania; Ned Helms, New Hampshire.

Also on the commission: Alexis Herman, Virginia; Tribal Chairman Ron His Horse Is Thunder, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe; Teamsters Pres. James Hoffa, Michigan; Roseanne Hope, Minnesota; Nevada state senator Steven Horsford; Suzie LeVine, Seattle; UAW CAP Director Dick Long, Michigan; Andres Lopez, Puerto Rico; Patricia Madrid, New Mexico; Debbie Marquez, Colorado; Illinois state senator Iris Martinez; Jennifer McClellan, Virginia; Montana secretary of State Linda McCulloch.

Also: Iowa attorney general Tim Miller; Minyon Moore, Washington; Sunah Park, Pennsylvania; Plouffe, Washington; Rebecca Prozan, California; James Roosevelt, Jr., Massachusetts; Rep. Linda Sanchez, California; Randi Weingarten, New York; Oregon state chair Meredith Wood Smith; Martin Yeung, South Dakota.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What The...???

Thank heavens someone is doing some investigative reporting into the whole AIG bonus thing and how it came to be (H/T to SusanUnPC for this video). Peter Barnes sheds some light on this while matter in this video:

So, um, if the Bush people said, "Hell no!" to them getting TARP funds, and if Timmy Geithner, Tax Felon, was getting all these emails, and was in fact, the ARCHITECT of the plan, and Obama then hired him to be head of the Treasury, that's not good, right?? Gee, no wonder people are calling for his resignation(heck, I don't think he ever should have been confirmed in the FIRST place, but everyone wanted to give Obama everything he wanted, just like they did to Bush post 9/11 - go figure. This oughta learn 'em. Ha - as if these Congresspeople learn from their mistakes...). But Obama is standing by his man, no matter the extra TRILLION DOLLARS the Treasury Department plan will cost us. Way to stand up for the people, Obama - or in this case, just the one.

Sen. Gregg didn't stand by HIS man, though, when he told Obama he could take his job offer back. Rather, he is standing up for us when he says that Obama's budget Plan will BANKRUPT the nation. Yes, he did - he came right out and said it:

Holy TOLEDO!!!! See, here's the thing. When someone is completely inexperienced, and totally unqualified for a position, this is what you get. NONE of the professionals who voted for Obama would EVER hire someone with such a thin resume. Can you imagine a University Search Committee interviewing someone and having him say, "Well, no, I don't have any real experience, per se, but I can bring new hope to the students for a beautiful world! And I can change the pedagogy to make it even better, even though I have no experience in it, and everything will be FANTASTIC!" First of all, he would never have even gotten an INTERVIEW in that situation, much less be considered a viable candidate for a teaching position, much less the highest position at the school. You can extrapolate to any job ("well, gee, no, I've never worked on an oil rig before, but how hard can it BE? I'll have people I can ask about it, ya know!" ), and get my point. And that is how, just TWO MONTHS into his presidency, we have gotten here. While he vacations - AGAIN - in preparation for EASTER, three weeks away.

"This country country will go bankrupt." If those aren't sobering words, I don't know what is. Keep fiddling away while Rome burns, Obama, keep fiddling away.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Change of Topic

From the complete and utter buffonery of Obama's to someone who is not only capable, but exceeding in her role. Yes, of course, I mean Hillary Clinton. While Obama is trying to claim that he doesn't know what the hell is written in the Stimulus Package that he signed into LAW, or the part that his very own Chief of Staff helped craft with the other top Democrats, Hillary Clinton is taking the State Department to new highs - electronically, that is! Well, she's also already logged over 57,000 miles - I kid you not, and that's pretty high, but that is not the focus of this article, Hillary Clinton, E-diplomat, Embraces New Media. Once again, this is an AP article, but I'll share some with you:
Her videos aren't quite viral yet and she's not tweeting, but Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is embracing new media, using the Web to promote the agency and her role as the nation's top envoy.

In less than three months, Clinton's State Department has embarked on a digital diplomacy drive aimed at spreading the word about American foreign policy and restoring Washington's image. Part of a broader Internet outreach by President Barack Obama's administration, Clinton's Web efforts already have outpaced those of her predecessors.

Since taking over at Foggy Bottom, Clinton's team has built on e-diplomacy innovations developed during George W. Bush's presidency:

_They have revamped the department's Web site (http://www.state.gov) and the Dipnote blog (http://blogs.state.gov and http://twitter.com/dipnote) with a fresh array of features, graphics and colorful posts.

_Users can track her foreign travel on an interactive map (http://www.state.gov/secretary/trvl/map/?trip_id5).

_They can keep up virtually with her every move through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/statevideo).

_They can pose questions through an "ask-the-secretary" column (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/ask/secretary/117297.htm) that recently was revised to "text the secretary." (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/ask/secretary/120236.htm)

"New media is critical in this new era of diplomacy, where smart power and expanded dialogues are essential to achieving our foreign policy goals," said Cheryl Mills, Clinton's longtime confidante and chief of staff.

Even for a government Web site, early indications show a surge in interest, according to internal State Department statistics provided to The Associated Press.

Well, imagine that! We actually care about our Secretary of State and what she is doing. Ahem. And, here she is expanding the ways in which we can connect with her. In fact:
Daily views of the Dipnote have doubled from 10,000 a year ago to 20,000 today, with 700 subscribers to its RSS feed, twice as many as in March 2008. The number of followers of the department on Twitter has tripled since Jan. 20, when Obama took office, while the department's Facebook friends have increased by 2 1/2 times in the same period.

"What they are bringing in is more willingness to experiment," said Peter Daou, who was Clinton's Web guru during her 2008 presidential run. "They are starting to push the envelope."

What remains unclear, though, is whether the spike in interest reflects the revamped Web site or the public's fascination with Clinton's latest career shift.

"The personality behind it can't be dismissed," said Daou, who now blogs on human rights and other issues for U.N. Dispatch (http://www.undispatch.com).

These are all pretty cool ways to keep in touch with Secretary Clinton, and see what's going on. The Travel Map is really neat - it was there that I discovered how many miles she's already logged. This woman is tireless. Unlike the president for whom she works, she rolls up her sleeves, and does what needs to be done.

If you want to read the rest of the article, just click the link above, and it will take you there. And to whet your appetite for what you can see at the State Department's Video site (YouTube), here is Secretary Clinton's Welcome Remarks TO the State Department:

Those folks are INVIGORATED to have her there. As well they should be.

And goddess knows, Clinton is the one bright spot in the current Administration. As Secretary Clinton continues to log the travel miles in her work for the Nation, we can take some solace that the one representing us to the world IS far more than competent, but excels at her job. That seems to be a rare commodity these days...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I'm Just Wondering...

Why the hell most of us pay our taxes. Because it seems to me that it is just the regular folks out there who are bothering to do that. Believe it or not, I am not even talking about Tax Fraud Director of the IRS, Tim Geithner, either. Are you ready for this? According to this article, 13 Firms That Received Bailout Money Owe Back Taxes. I am not kidding you. Check it out:
At least 13 companies receiving billions of dollars in bailout money owe more than $220 million in unpaid federal taxes, a lawmaker said Thursday.

The lawmaker, Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia and chairman of a House subcommittee overseeing the federal bailout, said two companies owed more than $100 million each.

The House Ways and Means Committee’s subcommittee on oversight discovered the unpaid taxes in a review of tax records from 23 of the companies receiving the most bailout money, Mr. Lewis said, as he opened a hearing on the issue.

“This is shameful; it is a disgrace,” he said. “We are going to get to the bottom of what is going on here.”

The subcommittee said it could not legally release the names of the companies owing taxes.

Well, why the hell NOT?? If they can identify themselves to take OUR hard earned money, they can DAMN sure reveal themselves, or have Congress do it for them. That is absurd!

And John Lewis should sure know about shameful and disgraceful conduct, after the way he plunged the knife into Hillary Clinton's back about a thousand times (you may recall, he was one of her early supporters who sang her praises up one side and down the other. Until the Black Caucus and Jesse Jackson, Jr., on behalf of Barack Obama, told him, and a few other African American congresspeople who supported Clinton, that if they did not toe the line and support Obama, they could expect to have some heavily funded challengers come nest election season. So, he caved. Yes, he did. In the "karma sucks" department, though, he is having to face a challenger anyway because he supported Clinton in the FIRST place. Obama is just a tad vindictive, you see. Serve's his ass right, though, for having no freakin' integrity.

That is to say, spare me the indignation, Rep. Lewis.

Get this:
It said one recipient had almost $113 million in unpaid federal income taxes from 2005 and 2006. A second recipient owed almost $102 million dating to before 2004.

Mr. Lewis said that his panel planned to review tax records from other companies receiving federal money, but that he was unsure if it would look at every one.

Banks and other companies receiving federal money were required to sign contracts stating that they had no unpaid taxes, Mr. Lewis said. But he said the Treasury Department did not ask them to turn over their tax records.

The Internal Revenue Service, a division of the Treasury Department, said it would expect the unpaid taxes to be paid.

Oh, yeah - I'm sure Timmy Geithner is gonna get RIGHT on that!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

But here's the thing, Rep. Lewis. Y'ALL are the ones who crafted this document WITH NO OVERSIGHT IN SIGHT. And you're going to come back NOW and pretend outrage that these companies, who owe MILLIONS of taxes, are getting OUR tax money??? Seems to me the Congress just helped them STEAL money. Our money.

And if they had to sign a statement stating they didn't owe taxes and took BILLIONS anyway, then why aren't they being brought up on CRIMINAL charges? And WHY WON'T YOU REVEAL THEIR NAMES???? So much for transparency, eh, Rep. Lewis??

Oh, and get this hilarious joke:
“The I.R.S. recognizes that those entities that receive taxpayer support have a special obligation to pay their taxes,” an agency spokesman, Frank Keith, said in a statement. “And these taxpayer accounts will remain closely monitored by the I.R.S. to ensure that the full amount of taxes due are paid.”

Mr. Keith said there could be many reasons for an unpaid balance, including the possibility that a bill was being challenged.

Yeah, sure, okay - because the IRS has proved to be so competent in retrieving these high dollar taxes. Just spare me already. Now the rest of us know what Geithner and Daschle have known for a while - the IRS isn't exactly Johnny-On-The-Spot in securing taxes from the high rollers!

And while I am talking about Tim Geithner, my favorite economist, Paul Krugman, had this piece in the NY Times, Despair Over Financial Policy. Krugman writes:
The Geithner plan has now been leaked in detail. It’s exactly the plan that was widely analyzed — and found wanting — a couple of weeks ago. The zombie ideas have won.

The Obama administration is now completely wedded to the idea that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the financial system — that what we’re facing is the equivalent of a run on an essentially sound bank. As Tim Duy put it, there are no bad assets, only misunderstood assets. And if we get investors to understand that toxic waste is really, truly worth much more than anyone is willing to pay for it, all our problems will be solved.

To this end the plan proposes to create funds in which private investors put in a small amount of their own money, and in return get large, non-recourse loans from the taxpayer, with which to buy bad — I mean misunderstood — assets. This is supposed to lead to fair prices because the funds will engage in competitive bidding.

But it’s immediately obvious, if you think about it, that these funds will have skewed incentives. In effect, Treasury will be creating — deliberately! — the functional equivalent of Texas S&Ls in the 1980s: financial operations with very little capital but lots of government-guaranteed liabilities. For the private investors, this is an open invitation to play heads I win, tails the taxpayers lose. So sure, these investors will be ready to pay high prices for toxic waste. After all, the stuff might be worth something; and if it isn’t, that’s someone else’s problem.

Or to put it another way, Treasury has decided that what we have is nothing but a confidence problem, which it proposes to cure by creating massive moral hazard.

This plan will produce big gains for banks that didn’t actually need any help; it will, however, do little to reassure the public about banks that are seriously undercapitalized. And I fear that when the plan fails, as it almost surely will, the administration will have shot its bolt: it won’t be able to come back to Congress for a plan that might actually work.

What an awful mess.

Well, that's the understatement of the 21st century.

I could be wrong, but didn't people actually go to JAIL for the Texas S&L scandal??? Now Obama and Co. are actively PURSUING that strategy? What the hell is wrong with this picture???

Yes, this IS an "awful mess." When are the grown ups going to come along and put a stop to it, I wonder? Oh, wait - WE are the grown ups, and we have to tell them enough, no more, stop giving our tax dollars to companies that can't be bothered to pay THEIR taxes. Stop setting up plans that are identical to illegal strategies for which people have served time. Stop enabling this inept president who claims he didn't even know what was in the Stimulus bill he signed into law, which included a provision his chief of staff and his Treasury Secretary set in place. Stop the freakin' faux outrage, too, while you're at it, because we aren't buying the crap you are selling. And what you are selling is us down the river. Enough already!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Well, Maybe If They READ The Damn Thing...

That would be the Economic Stimulus bill, the one shoved through in such a hurry, no one had time to read it. No, they could not be bothered to take one WEEK to comb through the more than one THOUSAND pages of this bill. Maybe, just maybe, if they had, they would have noticed that little passage in there about, well, bonuses, for starters. But no, that is asking too much of our elected officials.

And so now, we have finger pointing between senators and representatives, the Department of the Treasury, and the White House. Do I even need to tell you that the White House is COMPLETELY blameless in this?? Oh, you know Obama is taking ZERO responsibility for the tax payers, many of whom have lost their own jobs, not just paying to keep these companies afloat, but giving them BONUSES!!! Oh, yes - Obama is just railing away, despite his Chief of Staff actually working on the whole piece that had the bonuses in it. Oh, wait - that was two minutes ago. That story has already changed to make everything, absolutely everything, Chris Dodd's fault. Except - Oh Wait - now we find out that Tim Geithner, the man who can't even be bothered to download Freakin' TURBO TAX, has admitted that Dodd was ASKED to put in this little loophole. By the Treasury Department. Oops!

So, um, Chris - how happy are you now that you threw your support to Obama?!?! Hahahahahaha! I mean, karma's a bitch, ain't it??

Anywho - the whole issue is discussed fully in the video below (H/T to SusanUnPC for the heads up on the video, and Cheneywatch for the video). Pay special attention to Charles Krauthammer:

Well, I gotta say, I think he makes a pretty good point, and not just because he talks about my team, the New York Yankees! Anyway - yes, in the scheme of things, it is not that much money. But I think what bugs people about it all, besides it being OUR taxpaying dollars, is the hubris of it all.

More importantly, though, is the manner in which the Democrats went about this. They have forgotten that when they are solely in power, they will solely take the blame, too. Rightly so, in this case, I think we can agree. Pelosi crafted this pork-laden stimulus bill, any number of top Democrats, they rammed it through, claiming all kinds of horrors would befall us if they didn't, then Obama sat on it for a couple of days so he could finish up his SECOND vacation (he's now on his third - in two months), then jet off to Denver to sign it. Yes, I can see why it was so important for them to use fear mongering tactics, then sit back and relax. And apparently, even THEN, no one bothered to read the damn thing. So we get loopholes like the one Dodd, or Emanuel, or Pelosi, or Reid, or Geithner, or WHOEVER the hell it really was, to allow bonuses for people at AIG. That kind of thing just doesn't sit very well with a lot of people. Still, it is, as Krauthammer was implying, a smokescreen for the BIGGER issues at hand, at which we should be looking, and that is the proposed Budget, the Economy, and the billions in earmark projects for which we are paying.

Well, wait - let me ask you, in this completely scientific way: Are YOU mad that your money is going to pay these other people's bonuses, especially at a company that you have already given around $173 BILLION dollars? Yes? Well, David Axelrod doesn't think you are. I am not kidding. That is his latest message: that the American people don't give a crap about stuff like this. Greg Sargent had this at The Plum:
Come on, guys, can’t we get the message straight on this one?

Yesterday I noted that Rahm Emanuel had said that Obama saw the AIG fiasco as a “big distraction” from efforts to fix the economy. Later in the day, Obama walked that back, asserting that the public was right to be “angry” about the whole mess and right to find it “consuming.”

Today, another senior Obama adviser, David Axelrod, is throwing in his lot with Rahm and the AIG-isn’t-a-huge-deal camp:

“People are not sitting around their kitchen tables thinking about AIG,” Axelrod said. “They are thinking about their own jobs.”

So are people upset about this, or aren’t they? Actually, people are thinking about the AIG disaster. Yesterday’s Gallup poll found that a big majority is very upset about it. Only 11% said they are “not particularly bothered” by it.

Again, this just seems weird politically. Why pretend that folks aren’t pissed off about this at a time when Republicans are moving aggressively to paint Obama as too passive on the issue and position themselves as the outraged and heroic defenders of the taxpapers?

Update: David Kurtz says: “I honestly don’t get what up-side they see politically in taking this tack.” He suggests that it’s “tone deaf.” Agreed on both counts.

I agree on both counts, too, in case you are keeping score.

Has it really only been two months of this guy? Good grief. I wonder who's going to have to take the fall for Obama next? Hmmm, maybe that new pup the girls are getting (and so much for the whole shelter dog thing - I think we all knew that was just words, too)...

Honestly, I'm getting motion sickness from all of this...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Obama's Contributors

Since AIG is big in the news right now, with Obama claiming his faux outrage over the bonuses, and Chris Dodd saying, "Don't blame me!" "I mean, do blame me!" (c'mon, don't you KNOW Rahm Emmanuel showed Chris just how they do it in Chicago to make him take the fall for this?), I thought I would share the following piece from Pajamas Media on an interesting twist:
Contributions to Obama Campaign Track Bailout Money

Barack Obama’s lack of leadership in a down economy has now hit [1] crisis proportions, as his claimed inability to block millions of dollars in bonuses for executives of bailout recipient AIG has caused even his supporters to turn on him.

But while the ire of Congress and the media focus are on the $165 million that AIG paid out in bonuses to their executives, the president is hoping you won’t notice the $100 billion in taxpayer bailout dollars that AIG paid out to other banks, including $58 billion to foreign banks and [2] $36 billion given to French and German banks alone.

The Obama administration is allowing AIG to bail out the rest of the world with your tax dollars.

So by all means, the president is happy to have you railing at “evil” but relatively small potatoes AIG executive bonuses, as it points your outrage away from his own far more costly executive abuses.

And of course, the re-distributor-in-chief hopes you won’t notice where much of the rest of the AIG bailout cash is being spent.

While $58 billion of your tax dollars — or more accurately, your children’s tax dollars — are being used to pay foreign banks, a substantial portion of that money ($43.5 billion) is being used to pay American banks, including Goldman Sachs, Merill Lynch, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wachovia, Morgan Stanley, AIG International, and JP Morgan.

The following recipients of President Obama’s trickle-down-to-my-donors bailout plan rank among his top 20 contributors to his 2008 presidential election campaign, according to [3] Open Secrets:

Goldman Sachs: $955,473

Citigroup: $653,468

JP Morgan Chase & Co.: $646,058

Morgan Stanley: $485,823

Well, looky there!! Don't THOSE names look just a little familiar?! Just WAIT:
Three other banks that were significant contributors to Obama received money through AIG:

Bank of America: $274,493

Wachovia: $214,151

AIG: $112,170

Lehman Brothers, which did not survive long enough to join the list of banks leaching off the work of the American taxpayer, also gave the Obama campaign [4] $276,088.

Individuals identifying themselves as working for the banks above gave Barack Obama’s presidential campaign $3,617,724. In other words, more than 3.6 million reasons for the president to help focus the media’s glare on the relatively minuscule $165 million in AIG executive bonuses, and away from their $43.5 billion portion of $100 billion of taxpayer dollars the administration, by design or incompetence, filtered to other banks through AIG.

In receiving $43.5 billion for their investment of just over $3.3 million, it looks like the banks that gambled on Wall Street certainly got their money’s worth out of their investment in Barack Obama.

Your tax paying dollars at work, folks! To help pay back Obama's big-money contributors to buy him the highest office in the land. Wheeee!!!!

If you want to read more on the AIG issue, SusanUnPC also has a good piece on the recent AIG/Dodd stuff, "Listen To Your Aunt Susan." There is also Larry Doyle's, "AIG Contracts A Brain Freeze," are just a couple of other articles at No Quarter on the AIG issue.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Which Way Will He Go?

Alert NQ reader, CG, provided the link to this article, and asked me what I thought about it. Here's the article:
Obama on Spot Over a Benefit to Gay Couples

Just seven weeks into office, President Obama is being forced to confront one of the most sensitive social and political issues of the day: whether the government must provide health insurance benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

In separate, strongly worded orders, two judges of the federal appeals court in California said that employees of their court were entitled to health benefits for their same-sex partners under the program that insures millions of federal workers.

But the federal Office of Personnel Management has instructed insurers not to provide the benefits ordered by the judges, citing a 1996 law, the Defense of Marriage Act.

As a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama said he would “fight hard” for the rights of gay couples. As a senator, he sponsored legislation that would have provided health benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

Now, Mr. Obama is in a tough spot. If he supports the personnel office on denying benefits to the San Francisco court employees, he risks agitating liberal groups that helped him win election. If he supports the judges and challenges the marriage act, he risks alienating Republicans with whom he is seeking to work on economic, health care and numerous other matters.

Already, some gay rights groups remain upset over Mr. Obama’s choice of the Rev. Rick Warren, an opponent of same-sex marriage, to give the invocation at his inauguration. Liberal groups also believe that Mr. Obama has not moved fast enough to reverse the policies of his predecessor on issues like detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects.

Here's a question I have. WHY are these groups continuing to focus on his choice of The Rev. Rick Warren, admittedly, a HORRIBLE choice, but it was for a one time event, rather than being WICKED upset over his choice of Gov. Time Kaine, a man who is anti-gay AND anti-choice (to name just TWO things), as the new face of the DNC? I mean, really - it just seems to be that they are missing the forest for the trees with this one. Tim Kaine as the DNC Chair is an even BIGGER slap in the face than The Rev. Rick Warren doing a prayer at his inauguration. Tim Kaine will be the "git that keeps on giving," if you get my point.

Back to the article:
In a letter on Feb. 20 to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, an arm of the federal judiciary, Lorraine E. Dettman, assistant director of the personnel office, said, “Plans in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program may not provide coverage for domestic partners, or legally married partners of the same sex, even though recognized by state law.”

Benefits are available to the spouse of a federal employee, Ms. Dettman said, but the 1996 law stipulates that “the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

Federal officials said they had to follow the laws on the books. But Richard Socarides, a New York lawyer who was an adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay issues, said he believed that Mr. Obama “has broad discretionary authority to find ways to ameliorate some of the more blatant examples of discrimination.”

The orders were issued by the chief judge of the appeals court, Alex Kozinski, and another member of the court, Judge Stephen Reinhardt.

Judge Kozinski, often described as a libertarian or an independent conservative, and Judge Reinhardt, a liberal, ruled not as part of a lawsuit, but in their role as employers resolving employee grievances.

Similar issues were raised in a lawsuit filed against the federal government last week in Boston by eight same-sex couples. The administration is weighing how to respond.

Gay federal employees said they were denied equal compensation when their partners were denied health benefits.

Administration officials declined to say what they planned to do in the California cases if the judges tried to enforce their orders.

Ben LaBolt, a White House spokesman, said: “While the president opposes gay marriage, he supports legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. He believes this country must realize its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect.”

Mr. Obama and his choice for director of the personnel office, M. John Berry, have endorsed the idea of providing health benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

The Office of Personnel Management estimates the cost at $670 million over 10 years.

Huh - well, that's interesting, considering the people with whom Obama continues to surround himself (do I REALLY need to go through the litany again? Meeks, Kmiec, Kaine, Warren, McClurkin, and that is off the top of my head.).

To return to the article again:
Mr. Berry, who is gay, has been director of the National Zoological Park since 2005. As an Interior Department official in the Clinton administration, he developed procedures to deal with complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation. They became a model for other agencies.

The pending cases involve Karen Golinski, 46, a lawyer who works for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and Brad D. Levenson, 49, a lawyer who works for the federal public defender in Los Angeles.

Ms. Golinski’s insurance plan, offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield, rejected her effort to obtain health benefits for her spouse, Amy Cunninghis. Mr. Levenson’s insurer, a Kaiser Foundation health plan, turned down his application for his spouse, Tony Sears, based on instructions from the Office of Personnel Management.

In Ms. Golinski’s case, Judge Kozinski said that federal law authorized the Office of Personnel Management to arrange health benefits for federal employees and their family members. The law, he said, defines the “minimum requirements” for health insurance, but the government can provide more.

Judge Reinhardt confronted the question differently, and concluded that the Defense of Marriage Act, as applied to Mr. Levenson’s request, was unconstitutional because it violated the Fifth Amendment guarantee of “due process of law.”

“A bare desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot provide a rational basis for governmental discrimination,” Judge Reinhardt wrote.

In adopting the Defense of Marriage Act, Congress said the government had a legitimate interest in “defending and nurturing the institution of traditional heterosexual marriage.”

But Judge Reinhardt said the denial of benefits to same-sex spouses would not encourage gay men and lesbians to marry members of the opposite sex or discourage same-sex marriages.

“So the denial cannot be said to nurture or defend the institution of heterosexual marriage,” the judge wrote.

Gary L. Bauer, president of American Values, a conservative advocacy group, said that if Mr. Obama extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers, he would “provoke a furious grass-roots reaction, reinvigorate the conservative coalition and undermine his efforts to portray himself as a moderate on social issues.”

Ms. Golinski has asked for a new hearing, where she will urge Judge Kozinski to enforce his order granting benefits to her partner. Mr. Levenson said he would soon ask Judge Reinhardt for a similar hearing.

In addition, Congress may soon weigh in.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, and Representative Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin, plan to introduce bills that would provide benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

Similar bills died in the past. But “the new administration will have a new view,” Ms. Baldwin said. (Sheryl Gay Stolberg contributed reporting.)

So what do I think about all this? I think Obama will continue to say one thing, do another, promise one group one thing, and the exact opposite to some other group. I guess I could have said, I don't believe a damn thing that comes out of his mouth. How can you trust what someone says when he tries to be all things to all people? It is impossible. I am sure, if the outcome is against benefits for same-sex couples, he will find a way to take no responsibility for it. It was an aide's fault. It was the way the judges went. It was out of his hands.

DO I WANT same-sex couples to be able to get federal benefits? Hell YES! Why shouldn't they? They have been supplementing heterosexual people's marriage benefits for, well, ever, and there are more of them than there are same-sex couples. It is way past time for us, all of us, whether we work for the federal government or not, to be treated equally, not in the disparate, unequal manner in which we have had to live despite us paying our taxes, contributing to society, and on and on.

Here's the bottom line about what I think about Obama's position here: no matter WHAT Obama says, what matters is what he DOES. When he chooses someone who holds so many diametrically opposed opinions to most Democrats like Kaine does to be the head of the DNC, THAT speaks volumes. As do the people with whom he surounds himself. So, let's not lose focus of the forest for the trees.

Thanks, CG, for asking!