Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Well, it being Halloween and everything, I thought about doing some snarky kind of post about politicians who are particularly scary, like Nancy Pelosi, or Barney Frank. But then I thought, "Why ruin a perfectly nice holiday?" Ahem.

So - for your enjoyment, I have the following photographs, sent to me by my cousin, who got them heaven-only-knows-where (somewhere on the internet). The headline of the emails was, "When Farm Kids Get Bored," and who happen to be a bit creative (who knows if these were even done by kids?). Anyway, for your Halloween Viewing Pleasure, here they are:

I hope you have a good, safe, day. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Friday, October 30, 2009

When "Change" Can Mean More Of The Same, Or Just Change

Most of us know that there are many positions, like being an ambassador to, say France and Monaco, is often a payback for the person giving tons of money to the candidate. Well, guess what? Not only is Obama doing just that, but the man who claimed to bring "change to Washington" has hit a new high - the highest in FOUR DECADES, in fact. Well, I guess that IS a change, isn't it?? Wait until you see all of the numbers.

Oh, and these positions aren't just "fun" ones, like being the Ambassador to the Bahamas, for instance. You may have heard of this position: US Attorney General. Yes, indeedy, Eric Holder was an Obama contributor, though comparatively speaking, he and Susan Rice got their jobs for not a whole lotta green (between $50 - 100,000). Ain't politics GRAND?

Naturally, rhese are paid positions - and the pay is mighty nice, as you will see below. What you might not realize is that there are actually professional diplomats. You know, people who know how to play the game of diplomacy. They would not be in this group of folks Obama is putting into these plum roles, either. Oh, you know they're happy about that - not.

Fredreka Schouten had this article in USA Today, Top Obama Fundraisers Get Posts. She should have written, "Plum Posts" in her title:
More than 40% of President Obama's top-level fundraisers have secured posts in his administration, from key executive branch jobs to diplomatic postings in countries such as France, Spain and the Bahamas, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

Twenty of the 47 fundraisers that Obama's campaign identified as collecting more than $500,000 have been named to government positions, the analysis found.

Overall, about 600 individuals and couples raised money from their friends, family members and business associates to help fund Obama's presidential campaign. USA TODAY's analysis found that 54 have been named to government positions, ranging from Cabinet and White House posts to advisory roles, such as serving on the economic recovery board charged with helping guide the country out of recession.

Nearly a year after he was elected on a pledge to change business-as-usual in Washington, Obama also has taken a cue from his predecessors and appointed fundraisers to coveted ambassadorships, drawing protests from groups representing career diplomats. A separate analysis by the American Foreign Service Association, the diplomats' union, found that more than half of the ambassadors named by Obama so far are political appointees, said Susan Johnson, president of the association. An appointment is considered political if it does not go to a career diplomat in the State Department.

That's a rate higher than any president in more than four decades, the group's data show, although that could change as the White House fills more openings. Traditionally about 30% of top diplomatic jobs go to political appointees, and roughly 70% to veteran State Department employees. Ambassadors earn $153,200 to $162,900 annually.

Dang - that's a mighty nice salary! Can you imagine being the Ambassador to, well, anywhere, but I'll pull one out - BELIZE - and getting that kind of salary? And BONUS - you don't even really have to know how to do the job!! Sheesh! No wonder real diplomats are a bit peeved:
"It is time to end the spoils system and the de facto sale of ambassadorships," Johnson said. "The United States is best served by having experienced, knowledgeable and trained career officers fill all positions in our diplomatic service."

The administration is "well aware of the historical target of career vs. non-career ambassadors, and we will be right on that target," said White House spokesman Thomas Vietor. He said the first round of diplomatic jobs traditionally go to political appointees because those are the first available when a president takes office.

Vietor said Obama also made it clear early on that he would "nominate extremely qualified individuals who didn't necessarily come up through the ranks of the State Department but want to serve their country."

Among the top Obama fundraisers with jobs: former technology executive Julius Genachowski as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and Nicole Avant, a music industry executive who is the top envoy in the Bahamas. Neither granted interview requests.

Always a man of his word, that Obama. Ahahahahaha - I could barely type that out. I mean, he does say words, and so what if he rearranges the order of those words from time to time so that their meaning is the exact opposite of what he said previously? Picky, picky.

I know you are worried about those people who gave Obama a bucket of money who DIDN'T get to come work in the White House, or in Paris. Don't you fret - Obama is taking care of them, too:
Those not in the administration benefited in other ways, including attending invitation-only White House bashes, such as a St. Patrick's Day gala.

Fundraiser David Gail, a Dallas lawyer that the campaign identified as raising between $100,000 and $200,000, joined dignitaries in July for an East Room country music concert featuring Alison Krauss and Charley Pride. He said he greeted Obama after the event but doesn't have special access to the president, who was elected on a pledge to change business-as-usual in Washington.

"I've seen people who have been included on conference calls or events who were very involved at the grass-roots level," Gail said.

"Contributing doesn't guarantee a visit to the White House," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday, "nor does it preclude it."

Oh. My. GODDESS. Have you ever seen such mealey mouthed contradictory hooey? Oh, wait, you probably have - the LAST time I quoted Gibbs. You know, someone who can hedge like that ought to have a career in landscape design, for cryin' out loud.

Okay, so some of these people aren't ambassadors, or the US Attorney General, or Chair of the FCC, but they are still getting by:
Others not on the campaign's list of official bundlers also have reaped rewards.

Sacramento developer Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, a fundraiser in Hillary Rodham Clinton's unsuccessful presidential campaign, was nominated this month by Obama to serve as ambassador to Hungary. Clinton is now secretary of state.

Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis did not respond to interview requests, and her office referred calls to the White House.

It's too early to tell how big a role Obama's fundraisers will play. On the ambassador front alone, nearly 100 top positions remain unfilled, according to the American Foreign Service Association's tally.

Ronald Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, wants Obama to limit political appointees to about 10% of diplomatic jobs. "The direction is not good," he said of Obama's appointments to date, "but you cannot definitively say what the picture will be for the whole administration."

"The direction is not good." Uh, yeah. These are the people either running our country, or having an impact on foreign affairs, or charged with ensuring the very laws that govern our land. And you wonder why Washington is such a mess. The people who are running it are the ones who washed someone's back, and are simply getting their payback. It is some kind of payback they are getting, too - plum positions, and positions of power. All because they have deep pockets. I bet that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside (for me, it is my blood pressure rising).

Below is the list of people thus far, also from the USA Today article. Have fun perusing it and seeing just what a few hundred grand will get you. Wait, is THAT the kind of "change" Obama meant??


President Obama has named 54 fundraisers to government positions. Here's a look at who they are and how much they raised. The campaign reported fundraising in broad ranges only.


Nicole Avant Ambassador to the Bahamas
Matthew Barzun Ambassador to Sweden
Don Beyer Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein
Jeff Bleich Ambassador to Australia**
Richard Danzig Member, Defense Policy Board
William Eacho Ambassador to Austria
Julius Genachowski Chairman of Federal Communications Commission
Donald Gips Ambassador to South Africa
Howard Gutman Ambassador to Belgium
Scott Harris General Counsel, Department of Energy
William Kennard Ambassador to the European Union**
Bruce Oreck Ambassador to Finland
Spencer Overton Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Thomas Perrelli Associate Attorney General
Abigail Pollack Member, Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino
Charles Rivkin Ambassador to France and Monaco
John Roos Ambassador of Japan
Francisco Sanchez Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade
Alan Solomont Ambassador to Spain and Andorra**
Cynthia Stroum Ambassador to Luxembourg**

RAISED BETWEEN $200,000 and $500,000

A. Marisa Chun Deputy associate attorney general
Gregory Craig White House counsel
Norman Eisen Special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform
Michael Froman Deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs
Mark Gallogly Member, Economic Recovery Advisory Board
Max Holtzman Senior adviser to the Agriculture secretary
James Hudson Director, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Jeh Johnson General counsel, Department of Defense
Samuel Kaplan Ambassador to Morocco
Nicole Lamb-Hale Deputy general counsel, Commerce Department
Andres Lopez Member, Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino
Cindy Moelis Director, Commission on White House Fellows
William Orrick Counselor to the assistant attorney general
John Phillips Chairman, Commission on White House Fellows
Penny Pritzker*** Member, Economic Recovery Advisory Board
Bob Rivkin General counsel, Transportation Department
Desiree Rogers White House social secretary
Louis Susman Ambassador to the United Kingdom
Robert Sussman Senior policy counsel, Environmental Protection Agency
Christina Tchen Director, White House Office of Public Engagement
Barry White Ambassador to Norway
RAISED BETWEEN $100,000 and $200,000
Preeta Bansal General counsel, Office of Management and Budget
Laurie Fulton Ambassador to Denmark
Fred Hochberg President, Export-Import Bank of the United States
Valerie Jarrett Senior adviser to the president
Kevin Jennings Assistant deputy secretary of Education
Steven Rattner Treasury Department adviser
Miriam Sapiro Deputy U.S. trade representative**
Vinai Thummalapally Ambassador to Belize

RAISED BETWEEN $50,000 and $100,000

Eric Holder Attorney general
David Jacobson Ambassador to Canada
Ronald Kirk U.S. trade representative
Rocco Landesman Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
Susan Rice Ambassador to the United Nations

** Nominated, not yet confirmed by Senate; *** National finance chairwoman
Sources: Obama campaign, Public Citizen; White House; USA TODAY research
Contributing: Andrew Seaman

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"What If Bush Had Done That?"

That is a question I have asked myself time and time again since Obama took office on a number of issues, including expanding the Faith Based Initiatives, or my fave, the incredibly unConstitutional "Prolonged Detention" of American Citizens, holding them in custody indefinitely without charges.

Turns out I am not the only one who wonders why Obama continues to get a free pass for actions that, had Bush done them, would be front page news (and again, I have NO love lost for Bush - absolutely zero, but fair is fair). Josh Gerstein of Politico had these same questions, about which he wrote in this article, What If Bush Had Done That?. Indeed:
A four-hour stop in New Orleans, on his way to a $3 million fundraiser.

Snubbing the Dalai Lama.

Signing off on a secret deal with drug makers.

Freezing out a TV network.

Doing more fundraisers than the last president. More golf, too.

President Barack Obama
has done all of those things — and more.

What’s remarkable is what hasn’t happened. These episodes haven’t become metaphors for Obama’s personal and political character — or consuming controversies that sidetracked the rest of his agenda.

It’s a sign that the media’s echo chamber can be a funny thing, prone to the vagaries of news judgment, and an illustration that, in politics, context is everything.

look on with a mix of indignation and amazement and ask: Imagine the fuss if George W. Bush had done these things?

The media's "echo chamber"? That is a kind reference for what they are really doing, or rather aren't doing: their jobs. Conservatives aren't the only ones questioning why this is happening. Anyone who truly cares about the our democracy and the state of journalism in this country are asking, too. But they do ask a good question:
And quickly add, with a hint of jealousy: How does Obama get away with it?

“We have a joke about it. We’re going to start a website:,” former Bush counselor Ed Gillespie said. “The watchdogs are curled up around his feet, sleeping soundly. ... There are countless examples: some silly, some serious.”

Indeed, Bush got grief for secret meetings with the oil industry, politicizing the White House and spending too much time on his beloved bike. But it’s not just Republicans who notice. Media observers note that the president often gets kid-glove treatment from the press, fellow Democrats and, particularly, interest groups on the left — Bush’s loudest critics, Obama’s biggest backers.

But others say there’s a larger phenomenon at work — in the story line the media wrote about Obama’s presidency. For Bush, the theme was that of a Big Business Republican who rode the family name to the White House, so stories about secret energy meetings and a certain laziness, intellectual and otherwise, fit neatly into the theme, to be replayed over and over again.

Obama’s story line was more positive from the start: historic newcomer coming to shake up Washington. So the negatives that sprung up around Obama — like a sense that he was more flash than substance — track what negative coverage he’s received, captured in a recent “Saturday Night Live” skit that made fun of his lack of accomplishments in office.

“There may well be almost an unconscious effort on the part of the media to give Obama a bit more slack because he is more likable, because he is the first African-American president. That plays into it,” said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst at the University of Southern California.

Democrats find the complaints of Obama “getting a pass” hard to stomach in light of the way the press treated Bush — particularly on the single biggest mistake of his presidency, relying on the faulty intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq. Now, Obama’s aides say, the positive coverage simply reflects the fact that their efforts are succeeding.

“As our administration makes progress on the agenda that Washington has ignored for too long, we expect we’ll get some news coverage of that progress that we like and some tough coverage that we don’t,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “It’s not unlike the New Orleans Saints, who are getting lots of good coverage of their perfect record so far — certainly better coverage than the [2-5] Redskins — but it doesn’t mean the Saints have liked every story that’s been written about them since training camp. It goes with the territory.”

There are signs the friendly tone toward Obama is ebbing. Case in point: a front-page story in The New York Times noting that Obama’s all-male basketball games drew fire from the head of the National Organization for Women, who called the games “troubling.”

I agree that Bush seemed to be treated with kit gloves, way, way too much for my liking. The media does seem to enjoy determining who our next president will be. But even Bush's treatment pales in comparison to the lovefest the MSM has had for Obama.

So yes, they are now asking why Obama excludes women (though he has now tried to rectify that by asking ONE woman, Melody Barnes, to play golf with him) in his games? We have known for ages that often, it is on the golf course or basketball court that favors are curried or power is amassed, hence the desire for women to achieve membership in numerous country clubs across the country. Oh, and Obama's response to the NY Time's articles highlighting that women were excluded? "Bunk, " he said. Uh, yeah, no. It isn't, President Obama.

There are too many examples of just how Obama has been allowed to skate free:
But here are other stories in which Obama seems to have gotten a pass:

New Orleans

As a candidate, Obama railed against the Bush administration for abandoning and then neglecting the people of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. He made five campaign trips to the city.

But as president, Obama waited almost nine months before visiting the Big Easy, spent less than four hours on the ground there and then jetted to San Francisco for a $3 million Democratic fundraiser.

“Don’t judge anybody on the amount of time that they’ve spent there. Judge only what this administration promised that they would do, what they’ve done every day and what they’re continuing to work on,” press secretary Robert Gibbs said, pointing to positive reviews of the federal government’s efforts under Obama.

For their part, Democrats can’t see how Bush officials can muster much umbrage over anything related to New Orleans, given how the Republican administration handled the initial response to Katrina.

Forget "Bush Officials." How about us plain ol' Americans? We're pretty pissed off about it, too. Just saying. A biggie is this:
Managing The Press

When the Obama administration moved in recent weeks to isolate and disparage Fox News as a wing of the Republican Party, there were few immediate howls of outrage — even from Fox’s fellow journalists in the media.

Press defenders and First Amendment advocates who jumped on the Bush administration for using military analysts to shape war coverage reacted with a yawn to the White House’s announcement that it had deemed Fox to be not a “legitimate news organization.”

“Had I said about MSNBC what the Obama White House said about Fox, the media uproar would still be going on,” said Ari Fleischer, who served as Bush’s press secretary until 2003. “I instinctively would have known ... the media would have leapt to their feet to defend them. I’m shocked it’s not happening now.”

One press veteran agreed. “If George Bush had taken on MSNBC, what would have happened?” said Phil Bronstein, editor-at-large of the San Francisco Chronicle. “That’s one place you can point to a real difference in how I’d imagine Bush would be treated.”

No freakin' kidding. People would be screaming their fool heads off about free speech. But the Obamam crowd? They just jump on the Fox bashing bandwagon. Nice.

And this is a big one, too:
Politicizing the White House

Throughout the Bush administration, liberal critics warned that the hand of Bush political adviser Karl Rove was spreading politics into all corners of government. Reporters were on alert for any sign that politics was infecting the work of federal agencies. One top appointee got in hot water for allegedly asking agency officials to work to “help our candidates” across the country.

So some Bush aides went nearly apoplectic earlier this month when they spotted Gibbs and Obama’s political guru, David Axelrod, in photos of a Situation Room meeting on Afghanistan policy.

“Oh, the howling and screaming that would have happened if Karl Rove was sitting in on even a deputies-level meeting where strategy was being hammered out. People would have just gone ballistic,” said Peter Feaver, a former White House aide for both Bush and Bill Clinton.

Also, in about nine months, Obama has already attended more than two dozen fundraising events, while Bush did only six in his first year in office, according to a tally by CBS’s Mark Knoller.

Gibbs said Obama had to do more to raise a similar amount of money, since the kinds of soft-money fundraisers Bush did early on were banned. “This president ... doesn’t accept money from PACs or lobbyists and doesn’t allow lobbyists to give at fundraisers that he’s at, as well,” Gibbs added.

Uh, yeah, sure, okay, Mr. Mealy Mouth Man. We all buy that one, right? Uh, yeah, no.

Then there is this one:
Dealing With Business, In Secret

Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney endured years of criticism and lawsuits that stretched all the way to the Supreme Court over secret meetings Cheney’s Energy Task Force held with oil and gas companies. When the policy emerged, critics said Cheney was carrying water for the industry.

Obama pledged to hash out health care reform live on C-SPAN and excoriated Bush for kowtowing to the drug industry. But aides signed off on the drug industry’s agreement to find $80 billion in savings to support reform. However, Obama aides didn’t disclose that the agreement involved the White House promising that current health legislation wouldn’t include further cuts or give the government the right to negotiate over drug prices.

I admit, this did actually get a rise from a few folks, like Greg Palast. But that moment seems to have passed now. Now, people rarely mention it. Big surprise...

And another issue near and dear to many of us:

Toning Down Human Rights

During the campaign, Obama talked tough on China. While candidate Obama pushed Bush to take a hard line, President Obama hasn’t. Hoping to win China’s help on Iran and North Korea, Obama skipped a meeting with the Dalai Lama and said little when China undertook a violent crackdown in its largely Muslim Xinjiang region. The White House has pledged to meet with the Dalai Lama later.

And while candidate Obama warned Bush against a “reckless and cynical initiative [that] would reward a regime in Khartoum that has a record of failing to live up to its commitments,” President Obama’s envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, seemed to lay out a similar incentive-driven approach.

“We’ve got to think about giving out cookies,” said Gration. “Kids, countries — they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement.” The White House backed away from Gration’s characterization of the strategy but did recently lay out a strategy of engaging with the Sudanese regime.

Obama snubbed the DALAI LAMA. C'mon already - THAT'S not going to get an outcry? He's the DALAI LAMA, for pete's sake! No? *Crickets*

Just for, um, fun:
Traveling And Recreating

In his campaign and as president, Bush was mocked for a lack of interest in all things foreign — seven minutes touring the Kremlin, 25 minutes at the Great Wall of China, before declaring, “Let’s go home.”

During a trip to Europe in June, Obama chastised German and French reporters for suggesting that he was snubbing those countries by making only brief stops in each. “There are only 24 hours in the day. And so there’s nothing to any of that speculation beyond us just trying to fit in what we could do on such a short trip,” he told reporters in Germany.

But after taking his wife out for an attention-grabbing date night, Obama promptly jetted back to Washington. Within about 90 minutes of arriving at the White House, the tightly scheduled president was on the move again — headed to Andrews Air Force Base to play nine holes of golf.

How quickly people change. If Bush had done ANY of these things, the HuffPo and Daily Kos crowds would have been going ballistic about it. But now that it's THEIR guy, it's peachy keen. Where is the sense of fair play? Where is the concept of right is right? No, all of that gets completely thrown out of the window if it is someone they actually LIKE.

That is just sad. While ethics can be situational, the similarities between Bush and Obama are glaring, as many of us said they were all along. To completely disregard any sense of decency because it's their guy weakens their arguments about choosing him in the first place. It makes it crystal clear that this is about winning at all costs, and choosing someone with little more than a teleprompter to do so.

It weakens their arguments against Bush, too, though they will most likely never admit that. But it's true. In this case, what's god for the gander, is, well, good for the gander.

Maybe if the media actually starts to do its job (for instance, where are all of the photos of Obama playing golf all of the time? Or basketball? They never failed to show Bush playing or riding his bike.), maybe they will start to open their eyes. One can hope, anyway. In the meantime, it continues to be our job to hold Obama's feet to the fire for decisions he makes, and doesn't make. It is our job to hold up the glaring similarities between Bush and Obama. And do so we will...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Outrage At What Happened At A High School Dance - Updated

I must warn you, this is a difficult story to read. Honestly, I had to stop a few times to compose myself. My comments will be limited as the horrific nature of this story is overwhelming. I will bold aspects of particular importance. And I know this introduction is a bit dry, but it is only because I am trying not to cry as I work on this.

Okay, here goes: Police: Gang Rape Outside School Dance Lasted Over Two Hours.

That pretty much says it all, but believe it or not, it is even worse once you see all of the facts of the case. If you choose, you can watch this video with the Police giving the basic outline of this case:

Yes, you heard that right. She had to be airlifted out:
A California high school student who police said was gang raped in a two-and-a-half-hour assault outside a homecoming dance remained hospitalized in stable condition Monday, two days after she was flown from the attack scene in critical condition.

As of late Monday, two suspects had been arrested in the case and a third was being questioned.

"There is one individual in custody who has made some spontaneous statements that have led me to believe that he is culpable for what happened," Richmond police Lt. Johan Simon said.

Nineteen-year-old Manuel Ortega, described as a former student at the school, was arrested soon after he fled the scene and will face charges of rape, robbery and kidnapping, police said.

A 15-year-old was later arrested and charged with one count of felony sexual assault. A third teenager was being interviewed, according to Lt. Mark Gagan of the police department in Richmond, California.

"Based on witness statements and suspect statements, and also physical evidence, we know that she was raped by at least four suspects committing multiple sex acts," Gagan said.

If you think this couldn't get much worse, it does:
Investigators said as many as 15 people, all males, stood around watching the assault, but did not call police or help the victim, a 15-year-old student at Richmond High School in suburban San Francisco.

"As people announced over time that this was going on, more people came to see, and some actually participated," Gagan said.

Authorities had interviewed the victim, and the search for other attackers and bystanders who watched and did not report the rape was in "full-court press," according to Gagan.

"We have checked Facebook and YouTube to try to find any revealing evidence," he said. "We're looking in particular to see if anyone posted any video of the incident."

Several other individuals were detained at the scene but not arrested, Simon said.

The attack occurred on school grounds as the annual homecoming dance was under way inside the school Saturday night, authorities said.

One moment, please...Alright. Here is the conclusion:
The victim was found unconscious and "brutally assaulted" under a bench shortly before midnight Saturday, after police received a call from someone in the area who had overheard people at the assault scene "reminiscing about the incident," Gagan said.

"She ended up with those guys under her own will because she knew one of the boys who had gone to the high school before," Gagan said. "Right now, we're looking at toxicology reports to determine her blood-alcohol content and to determine if she was drugged."

According to authorities, the victim was flown to an area hospital in critical condition. She was in stable condition Monday, police said.

"This just gets worse and worse the more you dig into it," Gagan said. "It was like a horror movie after looking at the evidence. I can't believe not one person felt compelled to help her." (CNN's Sara Pratley contributed to this report.)

Neither can I.

Not one person helped this girl. No one, NO ONE, called the police for her.

Observers joined in.

There are no words for what happened to this poor young girl. There are no words to describe the actions of these young men, participants and observers alike. I pray that this girl will recover fully from her assault, though physically is the only area in which I can see full healing to take place. Of course, I hope she will heal emotionally and psychologically, in time. But it will take a lot of time, a lot of work on her part, a tremendous amount of support, and a very good therapist. Even then, it may not be enough...

I do know that this girl will never be the same. Never.

UPDATE: This Link provides more information about the level of security at the school, the girl who was raped, and the four perpetrators arrested so far (though they think it was up to TEN perpetrators). H/t to NQ reader, "ImaLindaToo."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Issue of Women and Health Insurance, As Well As News That Will Be A Surprise

There has been a great deal of talk and debate about health care in the country recently as the Democrats push Heath Care Reform. A lot of animosity has been directed at the Health Insurance Industry as a whole. As it turns out, some is justified, but some is not. I was surprised by what is NOT justified, and I think you might be, too

But first, another reason to be angry at insurers, especially if you are female, and living in one of thirty-nine states in the union, as this article highlights, Women Pay Up To 50% More For Health Insurance Premiums. Now, maybe I was just naive to not realize this was happening, but happening it is. This article focuses on the state of Colorado:
Checking the "female" box when buying health insurance is likely to cost extra — perhaps up to 50 percent more than a man would pay for the same coverage.

Gender-rating — or what some term as flat-out sexual discrimination — is linked to the simple fact that women, particularly those under age 50 or so, go to the doctor more often than men.

But outrage over how women are treated in the individual health insurance market is mounting as stories emerge of companies refusing to cover maternity benefits and denying coverage because of past domestic violence or cesarean sections, including a Colorado woman who was told she would have to get sterilized to qualify for insurance.

Federal proposals, as well as pending state legislation, would ban gender-rating and require maternity coverage, even as the insurance industry warns that lowering premiums for younger women could mean higher premiums for most everyone else.

Colorado women age 40 and under shopping for health insurance in the individual market, not through an employer, pay from 10 percent to 59 percent more than men, according to analysis by the National Women's Law Center.

They pay more even when maternity coverage is not included. And in many cases, a female nonsmoker pays more for health coverage than a man who smokes.

"Women should not be penalized because their plumbing works differently and needs ongoing maintenance," Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marcy Morrison told a state health care task force.

Holy smokes. Did you know this?? So, being a woman is a pre-existing condition? That's a pretty difficult one to overcome. Especially since we're the only ones who can get pregnant, which has its OWN set of issues:
As a state lawmaker, Morrison fought insurance companies to stop "drive-through deliveries" so women could stay in the hospital longer after childbirth. She said gender-rating is discrimination tied to decades-old salary disparity, particularly in female-dominated professions such as nursing and teaching. And she is skeptical of insurance company claims that "the sky is going to fall" and premiums would rise if gender-rating were outlawed.

America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry's national association, proposed ending gender-rating and the practice of rejecting customers based on pre-existing conditions. In exchange, insurance companies want powerful legislation that would compel everyone to buy insurance.

Discrimination against women in the insurance market goes far beyond premium rates, reform advocates said.

And you are not even going to believe how:
Sterilization Suggested

Take, for example, Centennial resident Peggy Robertson, who was denied insurance by Golden Rule Insurance Co. because she delivered her second child by cesarean section in 2006. Maternity benefits weren't even part of the package.

Robertson, whose husband is a self-employed chiropractor, contacted the International Cesarean Awareness Network and filed a complaint with the state Division of Insurance, arguing the denial was unfair and that the company had asked her offensive questions during the application process.

Later, she received a letter from Golden Rule telling her the company would consider covering her if "some form of sterilization has occurred since the caesarean-section delivery."

"It was just really horrific and terribly insulting," said Robertson, a stay-at-home mom of two boys. "You felt like you were a herd of cattle or something."

Robertson's recent testimony before the U.S. Senate health committee in part prompted Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., to write a letter to Senate leaders adding his voice to the call for reform to ban gender-rating and other "harmful insurance industry practices."

Since denying Robertson, Golden Rule, an Indianapolis-based division of United Healthcare, now covers women who have had cesarean sections but only with increased premiums to cover the risk of a future cesarean birth or with exclusionary riders — clauses that deny coverage for cesareans for a certain number of years or forever.

"This helps us extend coverage to more people while keeping premiums lower for all of our customers," said Ellen Laden, public relations director for Golden Rule. "The real issue is how to deal broadly with providing access to health care for everyone while still keeping health insurance from being cost-prohibitive."

Sterilization??? What, are we back in the mid-1950's or something?? I noticed that they didn't suggest sterilization for MEN, which makes a lot more sense for the health insurers since it's CHEAPER, and doesn't require hospitalization. This is just staggering in this day and age. Thank heavens there are people fighting this suggestion:
Bennet and others, including the National Women's Law Center, are calling for an end to coverage denials based on pre-existing conditions such as pregnancy and surviving domestic violence or sexual assault — a problem revealed in a recent report from the law center.

Along those lines, there is another big issue that applies to women only:
Lack Of Maternity Benefits

Another common frustration among women who buy insurance individually — and there are 125,000 such women in Colorado — is that maternity benefits are almost nonexistent.

Suzanne Pariser, a Denver lawyer and mother of 2-year-old Willa, is putting off expanding her family because she cannot find an affordable insurance plan that includes maternity coverage.

"That's the main reason we're not having a baby right now," she said. "We definitely want to have another child."

Pariser is annoyed that insurance company executives, in essence, are determining her family planning.

"My anger is mostly that insurance companies view having a baby as a medical complication that costs them money," she said. "They view it as a disease."

The only plan she could find that offered maternity coverage was more expensive in the long run than paying out of pocket to have a baby, Pariser figured.

Costs vary by hospital or birthing center, but the average bill for a vaginal birth with no complications is about $7,500 and for a cesarean section, $13,200.

Viewing having a baby as a "disease." That is quite an indictment, especially taken in conjunction with suggesting sterilization.

Back to the overall concept of gender-biased insurance:
The insurance industry in Colorado has not taken an official position on statehouse bills that would ban gender-rating in the individual market and require maternity coverage. Their stance likely depends on national reform — and in particular, whether federal law will force everyone, even the healthiest people, to buy insurance.

But industry officials point out that higher premiums for women are based on analysis from actuaries, which show women are much more likely to visit the doctor. The rate at which women visit primary care physicians is more than 50 percent higher than for men, according to the New America Foundation.

By about age 50 or 55, men typically begin using health services more than women, and premiums for older men are typically more expensive than those for older women, said Ben Price, executive director of the Colorado Association of Health Plans.

"The insurance industry is engaged in its own internal discussion on this issue, and health plans here in Colorado are of course taking a fresh look at gender-rating and many other issues that have been raised as a part of the debate both in Washington and here in Colorado," he said.

Officials with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Colorado have "strong reservations" about eliminating gender-rating and requiring maternity coverage. The practice is rampant in the auto insurance industry, they argue.

"The most expensive purchase in auto (insurance) is the young, invincible male; they are the risk-takers," said Rebecca Weiss, director of government affairs. "For some reason, auto insurance doesn't seem as inflammatory to people as health insurance.

"Shouldn't health insurance premiums be based on some degree on how many medical services you receive so that everyone is paying according to what they are using?"

I am no doctor, or health insurer, but if women go go the doctor more often, isn't it possible that will keep them out of the hospital more often? Unless it's for a "disease" like having a baby or something. Ahem. But you know what the bottom line is: "
It Would Raise Prices"

Insurance companies probably would have to raise prices on other groups to make up the difference if they were forced to lower prices for younger women, said Tom Gosselin, director of small-group underwriting at Anthem.

"It definitely would raise the prices, is the simple thing," he said. "You are now charging the 22-year-old guy who has no concept in the world about having a baby for maternity. He's more likely to choose not to have health insurance at all."

Eleven states ban gender-rating in the individual insurance market.

A review by the National Conference of State Legislatures found that those states had not determined whether their bans caused health insurance rates to rise.

In Montana, which outlawed gender-rating in 1983, some lawmakers want to repeal the ban, arguing fewer insurers are willing to operate in the state because of it.

Colorado is among several states that have banned gender-rating in the small-group insurance market, which in this state applies to businesses with 50 or fewer employees. For businesses with more than 50 employees, insurance companies can consider age and sex when setting rates — but the risk is spread throughout the company so everyone's premiums are equal.

Reform advocates argue the policy adversely affects businesses where the workforce is predominantly female, such as child-care centers or home health agencies.

I just wonder if this issue is being addressed by the Congress as it looks at this whole health care reform thing? Seems to me it is a pretty big issue, as is the cost in general:
Care Requires Doctor Visits

A Denver Post review of online health insurance quotes found that a woman living in the same Denver ZIP code with the same date of birth would pay $20 to $35 per month — or up to $420 more per year — than a man for the same coverage. The rates reviewed were for basic, high-deductible plans, ranging from $71 to $158 per month.

NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado is among those fighting for change in the law, arguing that women are typically the responsible sex when it comes to birth control and that those prescriptions often require an annual doctor visit.

"Under the current health care system, women are penalized for taking responsibility for their own health," said Toni Panetta, NARAL's political director.

State Rep. Beth McCann, a Denver Democrat sponsoring the bill banning gender-rating, said insurance companies failed to produce "sufficient factual basis to charge different premiums for women and men."

"It seems as though it's somewhat arbitrary," she said. "It's a matter of equality and fairness."

If the state legislation passes during the next legislative session, it probably would take effect about two years ahead of national reform.

Mary Saracino, a self-employed writer in Lafayette who has had to purchase insurance on the individual market, said she is shocked "and, dare I say, angry" that monthly premiums for women are higher.

"It seems highly discriminatory," said Saracino, 55. "Would consumers put up with that if, say, men had to pay more for tires than women because some statistic says that male drivers are harder on their cars than female drivers?"

Uh, hell to the yes, it seems discriminatory! There just isn't a whole helluva lot we can do about being female (without getting into the whole issue of gender-realignment surgery, that is). Or want to do anything about it. A whole lot of us are actually happy to be women. To make us pay more money, especially when we typically make less money, for health insurance is reprehensible.

Here are the places you can live without fear of being charged for being a woman:
Some Protection

These 11 states ban gender- rating by insurers in the individual insurance market:

California, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington. (Jennifer Brown: 303-954-1593 or

That's it.

And now for the big surprise. I am telling you, I was really shocked when I learned this. Would you like to take a guess as to how much Insurers actually make in profits? About 2.2% above the amount of money they take in. In fact, they are 35th out of 53 for industries. I have no love lost for insurance companies, especially in light of articles like the one above, but that is startling. It is in complete opposition to EVERYTHING we have heard about them. Are they a pain in the ass to deal with in general, like filing claims, or having claims paid? Often, yes. But are they raking in the cash hand over fist as we have been hearing from Congress on a daily basis? Apparently not. That shocked the crap out of me. That doesn't immediately absolve them, of course, but it does greatly affect the very foundation for the arguments about health care in this country. Something to consider.

And since we are talking about women and health care, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Many of us, myself included, need to take the appropriate actions for our health.

Along those lines, I would like to leave you with the following, a recent interview with Elizabeth Edwards:

A brave soul, Elizabeth is. And one who is in my thoughts and prayers as she continues to live with breast cancer (I am trying really hard not to say something snarky here about her husband...). All the best to her. And to all women who are living with this disease, and hopefully, being cured of it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Start Spreading The News..."

(Captain Derek Jeter, Mark Texiera, and Alex Rodriguez celebrate win. Photo by Nick Latham, Getty Images)

That is to say, YANKEES WIN!!!! YANKEES WIN!!!! TTTTHHHEEEEEE YANKEES WIN!!! Woohoo! Yippee! Yay! The Bronx Bombers won their 40th American League Pennant Sunday night (Oct. 25).

(Getty Image.)

The Louisiana Southpaw hurler, Andy Pettitte, was on the mound for 6 1/3 innings. Joba Chamberlain took the ball, and got 2 outs to end the 7th. Then, one of the greatest closers of all time, Mariano "Mo" Rivera, came in to get the last 2 outs. He gave up a run in the process, but no matter as the final score was 5-2. Not only did the Yanks win their 40th pennant, but Andy Pettitte now has the most postseason wins in history, and Mariano Rivera earned his 37th postseason save.

(Mariano Rivera hugs catcher, Jorge Posada. Getty Image.)

Know who else is going to be really happy about this? Secretary of State Clinton! No doubt that is why she is smiling in the photo below (okay, not really, but hey, one can dream!):

(October 20, 2009 - Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America)

Yes, she's a Yankees fan, too! How nice that the Yanks clinched the Pennant the same day Secretary Clinton appeared on the cover of Parade Magazine! All in all, a great way to begin the day, with a story about a day in the life of Secretary Clinton, and to end it with the Yanks as the American League Champions. Woohoo!

Here is a glimpse of the excitement following the game:

Note the classiness of Angels Coach, Mike Scioscia. Impressive. No doubt, the Yankees will do their best to win the World Series, too, for the American League (sorry, Philly fans! I can't help it!).

By the way, CC Sabbathia won the ALCS MVP, as he should. He pitched two incredible games during this series, as he has most of the season. What a great addition HE is to the Yankees, especially since they lost their ace, Wang, with a shoulder injury early on in the season. CC stepped right up, and took on that role admirably.

Now, to the World Series with the reigning World Series Champions, the Philadelphia Phillies, beginning Wednesday might, Oct. 26th. I have to say, I know it isn't as much fun for the Midwest or West Coasts to not have a team in the Series, but for us East Coast folks to not have to stay up half the night watching a game is a blessed relief, I'll tell ya! So you know what I'll be doing come Wednesday night, wearing my Jeter jersey, and cheering on my boys in the Fall Classic!

To take a moment away from my celebrating, and believe you me, I am THRILLED about the Yankees' success, I do want to acknowledge the largest single day loss of 14 US troops in Afghanistan. My thoughts and prayers go out to them, their families, their friends, and the companies who suffered the loss of their fellows. My deepest sympathies and condolences.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Low, Low, Low, Low, Low, Low..."

Since Obama likes Rap so much, I figured a title taken from Flo Rida's "Low" song would be the perfect title for Obama's current poll ratings. Let's put it this way: they could be better. In fact, they could be a LOT better. You know, this is when the politician claims that s/he doesn't pay any attention to polls. Yeah, like that. The title of this article pretty much sums it up:
"Barack Obama Sees Worst Poll Rating Drop In 50 Years"

Gallup recorded an average daily approval rating of 53 per cent for Mr Obama for the third quarter of the year, a sharp drop from the 62 per cent he recorded from April.

His current approval rating – hovering just above the level that would make re-election an uphill struggle – is close to the bottom for newly-elected president. Mr Obama entered the White House with a soaring 78 per cent approval rating.

The bad polling news came as Mr Obama returned to the campaign trail to prevent his Democratic party losing two governorships next month in states in which he defeated Senator John McCain in last November's election.

Jeffrey Jones of Gallup explained: "The dominant political focus for Obama in the third quarter was the push for health care reform, including his nationally televised address to Congress in early September.

"Obama hoped that Congress would vote on health care legislation before its August recess, but that goal was missed, and some members of Congress faced angry constituents at town hall meetings to discuss health care reform. Meanwhile, unemployment continued to climb near 10 per cent."

Unfortunately for Obama, the People had something to say about the legislation that would so impact each and every one of us. I bet those legislators just HATE when their constituents throw a wrench into their grand plans, don't you?

Things aren't just bad for Obama, though:
Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey is in severe danger of defeat while Democrats are fast losing hope that Creigh Deeds can beat his Republican opponent in Virginia. Twin Democratic losses would be a major blow to Mr Obama's prestige.

Campaigning for Mr Corzine in Hackensack on Wednesday night, Mr Obama delivered a plea that almost seemed as much for himself as the local candidate: "I'm here today to urge you to cast aside the cynics and the sceptics, and prove to all Americans that leaders who do what's right and who do what's hard will be rewarded and not rejected."

Mr Corzine, a former Goldman Sachs executive and multi-millionaire, is currently running even in New Jersey, which is normally comfortably Democratic, while Mr Deeds is trailing badly in Virginia, a swing state that was key to Mr Obama's 2008 victory.

Let's just pause for a second and soak that in - Gov. Corzine is a former Goldman Sachs exec who made a gazillion buckaroos, and Obama is stumping for him. Perhaps this is one of those moments when Obama's minions might just get sobered up just a tad from the Kool Aide and realize that they bought a bill of goods.

It gets worse:
Mr Obama is also facing widespread criticism for his drawn-out decision-making process over what to do next in Afghanistan.

Republicans sense Mr Obama is in a vulnerable position and this week saw the return to the public stage of his perhaps most vehement opponent – Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Holy crapoli - Cheney? The man to whom we affectionately (cough) referred to as Darth Vader?? Whooey - this should be interesting:
In a blistering speech on Wednesday night, he accused Mr Obama of failing to give Americans troops on the ground a clear mission or defined goals and of being seemingly "afraid to make a decision" about Afghanistan "The White House must stop dithering while America's armed forces are in danger," Cheney said at the Center for Security Policy in Washington.

"Make no mistake, signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries."

He hit out at Obama aides who suggested that the Bush administration had failed to weigh up conditions in Afghanistan properly before committing troops.

"Now they seem to be pulling back and blaming others for their failure to implement the strategy they embraced. It's time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity."

Yikes. Nothing like being called on the carpet by the president, I mean, VICE president, from the past 8 years. Ahem. I reckon Obama and his Chicago pals thought all of their blaming of the Bush Administration would silence that Administration. Apparently, they were not paying attention to how Cheney rolls over the last 8 years, either. I'm sure Obama/Emmanuel/Axelrove will come up with SOME dismissive statement about Cheney's remarks, and still not do anything about Afghanistan, because that's how THEY roll.

Just in case you are keeping score (or want to), the Daily Presidential Tracking Poll at Rasmussen Reports has Obama's approval ratings at 49% as of Friday, Oct. 23rd.

But hey, these are just numbers. What are the people who formerly approved of Obama but are now sobering up saying? My good friend, Nunly, of Bad Habit fame, braved the Obamablogs, and found some mighty interesting comments by the Obama faithful. She was kind enough to leave this at my blog, and the comments in italics are her's (she's funny):
I went to look at AmericaBlog last night (I love to see what the Obots are up to) and thought you would LOVE to see what they think of Obama now. I've never seen so much whining, crying, gnashing of teeth since I told my kids they had to pay for their own car insurance.

...Aravosis has been covering the health care bill negotiations and I swear, the comments about Obama had me rolling on the floor laughing.

Here are a few of my favorite from that post. You could read the rest if you want, but they are all about the same.

Here goes..get your tissues out because you're gonna laugh until you cry

Mike_in_the_Tundra said:
I really don't remember voting for Olympia Snow during the presidential campaign.

Montiel said:
Obama campaigned on a strong public option.

When push came to shove he ran the other way.

What does it matter now what he says - we already know who he is.

(Mary Ellen's note: Then the following guy is trying to put the kool-aid stains on somebody else's upper lip and throws in a little Christian bashing to finish it off.)

JohnnyG [Moderator] 10 hours ago 2 people liked this.
Even if this is proven true, the kool-aid drinkers will still ignore it. All they care about is his "historical presidency." They'll be more than happy to let his dirty dealings be swept under the rug. Much like how Christians view God, anything good is credited to Jesus (Barack) and anything bad is credited to the devil (Rahm, anyone else handy.)

PresPlatitudes said:
why isn't obama pushing for the PO, instead of parading around on letterman like a vain opportunist?

(Below is my favorite comment!)

Judas Peckerwood
If Obama's ultra-secret overarching goal for his presidency is to make the PUMAs look sane in retrospect, then all I can say is "Well played sir, well played indeed."

(ROTFLMAO! They hate it that the PUMA's were right!)

Fireblazes(CheetohsandCatfood) said:
Obviously, he was lying about wanting the public option. No money in that, after all it takes a billion to become president.

godwillsortyouout said:
For what it's worth, in the 2008 Presidential campaign, McCain raised $8 million from people who worked for healthcare companies, including lots of executives.

Obama raised ** $19 million **. You do the math.

(They just figured that out? And HOW many times did we try to tell them that before and how did they reply? "Racist!" )

vkobaya said:
if President Obama isn't trying to scuttle his own campaign promise

No, no, of course, he isn't trying to scuttle his own campaign promise. No, like any card carrying Republican, he is trying to scuttle America, drag it down the tubes, destroy our nation, which he hates and despises.

I'm sick of the man. Revolted, bitter, and angry that I and so many others were played for suckers into voting for him. Would we have been worse off under McCain and Sarah Palin? Beginning to wonder. Probably would have been no different.

(More laughing...I thought "we" were the "bitter and angry" ones? Look who's bitter now!)...

Oh, how low they have gone, just like Obama's poll numbers. I would be more sympathetic if they hadn't treated all of us like Pure-T crap, or demeaned and belittled Hillary Clinton at every turn, demonizing her, downplaying her vast accomplishments, the warmth, the compassion, the intellect, the experience...So, yeah, I hate it for them, but they have no one to blame but themselves for how they're feeling now. See? Vetting the candidate really DOES matter! Wowie zowie, just like we said!! Sigh.

Well, all I can say is stay tuned - it's bound to be interesting at any rate, right? Can't wait to see what the coming week brings...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yep, It's His Mess Now

General McChrystal's proposal for Afghanistan has been on Obama's desk for almost two months now. And what is Obama doing about it? Well, he appears to be deciding on how to decide what his decision will be, but he's not there yet. Nope, instead, he is throwing up some smokescreen about the need for a do-over in Afghanistan's election (wait - how come WE can't get one of those??) before he will commit. And smokescreen it is. Even Secretary of Defense Gates has told him he can't wait that long.

Obama needs to stop tip-toeing around Afghanistan, and own it, as a part of his presidency. For that matter, he needs to own his presidency, as Peggy Noonan points out in this commentary, It's His Rubble Now: And the American people want him to fix it.. Uh, yeah. Pretty much. She writes:
At a certain point, a president must own a presidency. For George W. Bush that point came eight months in, when 9/11 happened. From that point on, the presidency—all his decisions, all the credit and blame for them—was his. The American people didn't hold him responsible for what led up to 9/11, but they held him responsible for everything after it. This is part of the reason the image of him standing on the rubble of the twin towers, bullhorn in hand, on Sept.14, 2001, became an iconic one. It said: I'm owning it.

Mr. Bush surely knew from the moment he put the bullhorn down that he would be judged on everything that followed. And he has been. Early on, the American people rallied to his support, but Americans are practical people. They will support a leader when there is trouble, but there's an unspoken demand, or rather bargain: We're behind you, now fix this, it's yours.

President Obama, in office a month longer than Bush was when 9/11 hit, now owns his presidency. Does he know it? He too stands on rubble, figuratively speaking—a collapsed economy, high and growing unemployment, two wars. Everyone knows what he's standing on. You can almost see the smoke rising around him. He's got a bullhorn in his hand every day.

It's his now. He gets the credit and the blame. How do we know this? The American people are telling him. You can see it in the polls. That's what his falling poll numbers are about. "It's been almost a year, you own this. Fix it."

Pretty much. Though he seems to be using his bullhorn for all the wrong things, IMHO. Noonan continues:
The president doesn't seem to like this moment. Who would? He and his men and women have returned to referring to what they "inherited." And what they inherited was, truly, terrible: again, a severe economic crisis and two wars. But their recent return to this theme is unbecoming. Worse, it is politically unpersuasive. It sounds defensive, like a dodge.

The president said last week, at a San Francisco fund-raiser, that he's busy with a "mop," "cleaning up somebody else's mess," and he doesn't enjoy "somebody sitting back and saying, 'You're not holding the mop the right way.'" Later, in New Orleans, he groused that reporters are always asking "Why haven't you solved world hunger yet?" His surrogates and aides, in appearances and talk shows, have taken to remembering, sometimes at great length, the dire straits we were in when the presidency began.

This is not a sign of confidence. Nor were the president's comments to a New York fund-raiser this week. Democrats, he said to the Democratic audience, are "an opinionated bunch." They always have a lot of thoughts and views. Republicans, on the other hand—"the other side"—aren't really big on independent thinking. "They just kinda sometimes do what they're told. Democrats, ya'll thinkin' for yourselves." It is never a good sign when the president gets folksy, dropping his g's, because he is by nature not a folksy g-dropper but a coolly calibrating intellectual who is always trying to guess, as most politicians do, what normal people think. When Mr. Obama gets folksy he isn't narrowing his distance from his audience but underlining it. He shouldn't do this.

But the statement that Republicans just do what they're told was like his famous explanation of unhappy voters are people who "cling to guns or religion." (What comes over him at fund-raisers?) Both statements speaks of a political misjudgment of his opponents and his situation.They show a misdiagnosis of the opposition that is politically tin-eared. Politicians looking to win don't patronize those they're trying to win over.

No kidding - insulting people you want to win over is thoroughly unhelpful, though it's a strategy we have seen way too much of of late (and for a great post on that little soundbite of Obama's, I recommend fellow No Quarter writer, Ani's, post, "President Obama Is Insulting Americans Again"). I, for one, do not respond well to it, but that's just me.

Back to Noonan:
But the point on the We Inherited a Terrible Situation and It's Not Our Fault argument is, again, that it is worse than unbecoming. It is unpersuasive.

How do we know this? Through the polls. In all of the major surveys, the president's popularity has gone down the past few months. A Gallup Daily Tracking Poll out this week reported Mr. Obama's job approval dropped nine points during the third quarter of this year, that is between July 1 and Sept. 30, when it fell from 62% to 53%. It was the biggest such drop Gallup has ever measured for an elected president during the same period of his term. A Fox News poll out Thursday showed support for the president's policies falling below 50% for the first time. Ominously for him, independents are peeling off. In 2006 and 2008 independents looked like Democrats. They were angry and frustrated by the wars, they sought to rebuke the Bush White House. Now those independents look like Republicans. They worry about joblessness, debts and deficits.

The White House sees the falling support. Thus the reminder: We faced an insuperable challenge, we're mopping up somebody else's mess.

The Democratic Party too sees the falling support, and is misunderstanding it. The great question they debated last week was whether the president is tough enough: Does he come across as too weak? It is true, as the cliché has it, that it's helpful for a president to be both revered and feared. But this president is not weak, that's not his problem. He willed himself into the presidency with an adroit reading of the lay of the land, brought together and dominated all the constituent pieces of victory, showed and shows impressive self-discipline, seems in general to stick to a course once he's chosen it, though arguably especially when he's wrong. His decision to let Congress write a health-care bill may yield at least the appearance of victory. And if Mr. Obama isn't twisting arms like LBJ, and then giving just an extra little jerk to snap the rotator cuff just for fun, the case can be made that day by day he's moving the Democrats of Congress in the historic direction he desires. All his adult life he's played the long game, which takes patience and skill.

She forgot the lying, cheating, stealing, and downright theft, that helped propel Obama into the presidency, but whatever. What I don't get is why people continue to forget that the Democrats were in charge of both houses of Congress for TWO YEARS before Obama became president. All of the stuff that happened in the two preceding years, like the stimulus bill, the economy, all of that, is on their hands. This, "Oh, poor me - look at how much I have to clean up! Being president is HARD WORK, just like Bush said!" has long passed its usefulness, if it ever had any.

It's more than that:
The problem isn't his personality, it's his policies. His problem isn't what George W. Bush left but what he himself has done. It is a problem of political judgment, of putting forward bills that were deeply flawed or off-point. Bailouts, the stimulus package, cap-and-trade; turning to health care at the exact moment in history when his countrymen were turning their concerns to the economy, joblessness, debt and deficits—all of these reflect a misreading of the political terrain. They are matters of political judgment, not personality. (Republicans would best heed this as they gear up for 2010: Don't hit him, hit his policies. That's where the break with the people is occurring.)

The result of all this is flagging public support, a drop in the polls, and independents peeling off.

In this atmosphere, with these dynamics, Mr. Obama's excuse-begging and defensiveness won't work.

Everyone knows he was handed horror. They want him to fix it.

At some point, you own your presidency. At some point it's your rubble. At some point the American people tell you it's yours. The polls now, with the presidential approval numbers going down and the disapproval numbers going up: That's the American people telling him.

Not for nothing, but he kept telling US he could handle this job. Many of us knew he couldn't, wouldn't, but at some point, it's sink or swim, and we are already beyond that point. No more whining and crying about the crap sandwich you got handed when you fought so dirty to get there in the first place. I guarantee you, Hillary Clinton wouldn't be complaining left and right. She'd push up her shirt sleeves and get to work. That is what we expect of Obama, too.

Oh, one last thing. About those fundraisers Obama is flitting around doing while we have all of these major issues detailed above? In the first nine months of his presidency, Obama has gone to TWENTY-THREE fundraisers. In the first twenty, he has raised $20 million for the DNC coffers. That's just jake.

Want to guess how many Bush did in the same amount of time? Six. I said, SIX. And Bush raised $48 million from his six, and he did none after the attacks on September 11th.

I can't leave Bill Clinton out. He did five fundraisers in nine months. That's it.

Sure shows you what is important to Obama, and it is not running this country. Time for him to own the presidency he fought so dirty to get, and roll up HIS shirt sleeves like Secretary Clinton has done. Way, way past time, in fact. Get to it already.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jake Tapper, And The Press Pool, Stand Together

With Fox News against the White House attempt to censor the cable network. Check that, to shut DOWN the network. I am assuming that, by now, you have heard of the concentrated attacks on the Fox News Network by Administration officials, and the president himself. Larry Johnson had a great piece on this earlier in the week, Fox Is Not A News Station?, if you need to catch up.

Well, the strangest thing has started to happen as the White House has continued its unprecedented attack on a major network, not just freezing out a reporter here or there as other administrations have done, but a flat out drive to shut down this network. I can scarcely believe it myself, but what has happened recently is that reporters from other networks, even the Washington Bureau chiefs of the main news outlets, have started to stand WITH Fox News.

It all began with one of my favorite reporters, Jake Tapper of ABC News. He is one of the very few national reporters from a major network to consistently challenge the Obama campaign, and now the Obama Administration. And he did so again just the other day as his post entry indicates:
"Today's Qs For O's WH - 10/20/09"
From this morning’s gaggle in White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’ office:

Tapper: It’s escaped none of our notice that the White House has decided in the last few weeks to declare one of our sister organizations “not a news organization” and to tell the rest of us not to treat them like a news organization. Can you explain why it’s appropriate for the White House to decide that a news organization is not one –

Let's just stop right there. Jake Tapper referred to Fox News as a "sister organization." That is HUGE, people. His use of that phrase speaks volumes, as he indicates a solidarity with Fox News (good post on that very topic at Commentary Magazine here). Perhaps it is even a bit of a warning shot across the bow that the White House needs to back the hell off from this attack on a major press outlet.

The Q&A continued:
(Crosstalk) Gibbs: Jake, we render, we render an opinion based on some of their coverage and the fairness that, the fairness of that coverage.

Tapper: But that’s a pretty sweeping declaration that they are “not a news organization.” How are they any different from, say –

Gibbs: ABC -

Tapper: ABC. MSNBC. Univision. I mean how are they any different?

Gibbs: You and I should watch sometime around 9 o’clock tonight. Or 5 o’clock this afternoon.

Tapper: I’m not talking about their opinion programming or issues you have with certain reports. I’m talking about saying thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a “news organization” -- why is that appropriate for the White House to say?

Gibbs: That’s our opinion. -jpt

You know I can't stand Gibbs anyway, that mealy mouthed worm. But Tapper demonstrates what a stand up guy he is by pursuing this line of questioning, and not letting Gibbs, or the White House, off the hook.

I mentioned above that the White House is doing its darndest to completely shut down Fox News. The following video is a good summation of what has happened thus far, the latest attack by the White House, and what the other networks did:

I know, right? They know, I gather, that this time around, it may be Fox News, but next time, it could be CNN, or MSNBC. I would love to think that the solidarity of the major networks was the result of it simply being the right thing to do.

The All Star Panel on Fox News takes this on, too, with a bonus clip of Obama's discussing Fox News:

Uh huh. Sure, he's not losing sleep over it. If he isn't, why are he and his minions going out of their way to ATTACK Fox News? It most certainly IS "breath-taking in its pettiness" as Mr. Barnes put it.

Thomas Jefferson
said it best:
"I am... for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents."

And, when he said this:
"Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it."

Finally, Thomas Jefferson said this about the importance of a free press and our responsibility to it:
"To preserve the freedom of the human mind... and freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom; for as long as we may think as we will and speak as we think, the condition of man (sic) will proceed in improvement."

Hopefully, that is exactly why the networks are standing shoulder to shoulder on this issue. They know, as we do, that our liberty is at risk when the press is under attack from its government.

Like Jefferson, like the Washington Bureau, like Jake Tapper, like many of you reading this, I stand on the side of a free press, and on the side of our liberty. It is our duty, it is our call, it is our very democracy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Is Tonight The Night?

You know, the night the Yankees clinch the American League Championship? They lead the series 3 - 1 over the Angels, and HOPEFULLY, will win again tonight to meet the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. The Phillies, in case you missed it, closed out the National League Championship over the LA Dodgers 4 -1. Now, many of us wanted to see a matchup with the Dodgers and the Yankees since the Yankees former manger, under whom they won their last World Series, Joe Torre, is now with the Dodgers. But, it wasn't meant to be, apparently. Congratulations to the Phillies and their fans for a back-to-back return to the World Series!

Now you know I am a huge Yankees fan. I was telling my dear friend Bronwyn's Harbor about the series, and got her started watching the games. I mentioned that I had a shrine to the Yankees in my living room. She suggested I share it with you, so here it is:

Let me just say, besides the t-shirt, and the baseball, I didn't buy ANY of those things. My Mets loving cousin was kind enough to send most of them to me. She has an eye for all things Yankees for me. She knows of my deep and abiding love for both the Yankees and their captain, Derek Jeter. The small framed piece is actually a painted feather from Belize that my niece gave me.

I might add, the baseball you can see there was not purchased, either, at least not with money from me. My partner took me to Cleveland for 3 games with the Indians for my 50th birthday (it just happened that they were in Cleveland for the day of my birthday). We were in the section to get autographs during batting practice. That baseball was hit by A-Rod, a screaming foul ball that hit my partner. While it was bad that it hit her, had she not been where she was, it would have hit the very pregnant woman next to her in the abdomen, which would NOT Have been good. Anyway, after batting practice, Johnny Damon came over and signed it for me while my partner was getting medical treatment (no permanent damage, but the bruise lasted for WEEKS. Seriously. It was A-Rod, after all!).

Speaking of Derek Jeter, he has been playing sick the past few days. Not that that has stopped him from hitting a home run, and getting on base in every game, not to mention great defensive plays. He embodies the very best of a Yankees Captain, IMHO.

And in a totally "Entertainment Weekly" kind of way, don't you think Derek Jeter and the singer, Leona Lewis, would make a beautiful couple? Check them out:

(PRNewsFoto/J Records)

Right?? I know! But, Derek is with the actress, Minka Kelly, and Leona lives with her high school boyfriend. Oh, well, as long as they're happy...(Don't worry - this is but a slight foray into Hollywood-style gossip. I'll be back to political pontificating ASAP.)

Anyhoo - I'm not going to take any chances about the Yankees winning tonight. I'll don my Yankees away gray t-shirt, put on my Derek Jeter official jersey, grab my Yankees cap, and watch the game with a Diet IBC Root Brewski or Diet Dr. Pepper in hand. Maybe if I play the video below a bunch, my prayers will be answered (major H/T to Nunly at Bad Habit). I warn you, the song may get stuck in your head, but it is SO worth it:

I just hope I won't be laughing so hard I don't miss a great play by the Captain, or another home run by A-Rod. And say what you will, but despite some apparent clashing between his new girlfriend, Kate Hudson, and the other Yankees' wives/girlfriends, he is having the very best post season he has ever had since he started seeing her (h/t to Bronwyn for the link). Maybe he's just a big Kurt Russell and/or Goldie Hawn fan, and likes having them around, too, since they often accompany Kate. Who knows? As long as he keeps hitting like this, I am happy, happy, happy.

So, you know what I'll be doing tonight - wishing, hoping, and yes, praying. Hopefully, I'll be CELEBRATING, too. Then, you know I'll be at the MLB shop getting my new American League Champions t-shirt to add to the shrine for the upcoming World Series!

Consider this an Open Thread. What's on YOUR mind today? Maybe that it's been fifty-four days since Gen. McChrystal;'s recommendations landed on Obama's desk about Afghanistan? Maybe the economy? Health Care Reform? Whatever it is, have at it!

ACORN's Fall Continues

Yes, indeedy - another videotape courtesy of James O'Keefe, the "pimp," and his "prostitute girlfriend," Hannah Giles, in a Philadelphia ACORN office. Only this time, O'Keefe is firing back at the ACORN employee who claimed she showed them the door tout de suite. But first, a round-up about this latest video at the National Press Club:

Here is the expanded version of the video O'Keefe mentioned:

Why is it people don't understand the concept of videotape?? Unlike the introductions to "Mission Impossible," it does NOT self-destruct after being played just once! So when someone goes on camera to make a claim, they might want to make sure there isn't a recording somewhere refuting their claims. I'm just sayin'.

You may recall that these videos raised the issues of funding for ACORN and investigations into their practices. Rep. John Conyers decided to, once again, investigate this organization. As a result of this expose, both the House and the Senate voted to cut their funding. Rightly so, I might add.

But not so fast - it is possible that funding will be restored once the FY 2010 Budget is passed, thus cutting ACORN's funding for TWO months. Clearly, this is something we will have to watch, but that this is even possible is absurd. Apparently, our elected representatives think we're a bunch of idiots. Let's make sure they know we aren't.

Until then, ACORN's continued fall couldn't happen to a more deserving group, don't you think?