Thursday, April 29, 2010

Giving New Meaning To The Term "Bully Pulpit"

Yet another crack in the Obama devotion from many in the MSM is surfacing. My colleague, Linda Anselmi, came across this article recently, and passed it on. This time, the focus is Obama's bullying tendencies. This is not a new concept to me - I have been writing about what a bully Obama is since March of 2008. But the author of this piece works for CNBC. Yep - the Central Network (for) Barack Constantly. To see this headline come out of ANYTHING related to NBC is pretty startling, Obama is a Bully: Kneale.

Wowie zowie - no mincing words, just putting it out there. Welcome to the party, Mr. Kneale:
Will someone please rein in our relentlessly hectoring President? Barrack Hussein Obama has taken his gift for inspirational oratory—one of the traits that got him elected—and turned it into something darker and more insidious.

Oh, just stop right there. "Inspirational oratory"? You mean the vapid statements written for him that he read off TOTUS, or this:

I couldn't listen to it all, either. Hardly eloquent, though, by any stretch of the imagination. Back to the point at hand:
Bam is a bully. Bad enough that he bashes Wall Street, but this President has gone farther than any in modern history in putting the wrong kind of “bully” back into what Teddy Roosevelt had called the bully pulpit.

Obama’s latest broadside came over the weekend, when he vehemently criticized the state of Arizona and its (Republican) governor for passing a tough new law on illegal immigration.

The President called the measure “misguided” and all but labeled it un-American. He even ordered the Department of Justice, before the ink on this bill-signing has even dried, to examine the civil-rights “implications” of the new law. Seems like the courts and rights groups could handle that once any problem actually emerges.

Can you remember any other modern President, wagging a finger from on high, so directly and bitterly criticizing a new law passed by any state?

This is hubris at best and ignorance of the Constitution at worst. The U.S. was founded in part on the precept of states’ rights as an important counterweight to a rapacious federal government. Thus a President must step softly here, questioning gently but avoiding rancor and browbeating.

Hold the phone - are you saying this so-called(by himself and his image creators) Constitutional Scholar doesn't know the Constitution? Maybe it's because this is a trumped up title, especially according to those who actually had to work with him at Chicago Law School. You know, at the position he was given by a Board member because he couldn't get it on his own merits. That one. I know - a mere technicality, especially for his supporters.

Back to the article:
The new state law itself is disturbing, even detestable, and I don’t like it. It forces immigrants to carry with them proof of their legal status and lets cops demand to see the “papers” of anyone (read: any foreign-looking person) to make sure he didn’t sneak into the country. It smacks of Nazis in the Jewish ghetto in Poland.

HOW does this smack of Nazism? Legal immigrants in this country are REQUIRED to carry their Green Cards anyway. Why, if not to be able to produce them on demand? No one is talking about rounding up a bunch of people and putting them in ghettos or concentration camps. They are talking about, with probable cause, to ensure that someone who is engaging in questionable activities is an American citizen or LEGAL immigrant. This is a red herring, meant simply to distract from the issue. Sheesh.

Back to the Obama the Bully:
But it is the law, and Arizona’s people duly elected the legislators who voted for it. They acted, moreover, on an issue the feds clearly have botched—immigration—and are trying to protect the state’s citizens from an influx of drug-cartel violence from Mexico.

Rather than trash an entire state, Bam could have privately lobbied Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and urged her to veto the bill. Or he could have said, simply, that he hoped to pass better solutions at the federal level.

That would have been statesmanlike, but this President gets pouty whenever anyone dares to disagree with him. He seems to view dissension not as healthy public debate but as a suspicious, pernicious challenge to his omnipotence and popularity.

Obama the Bully, at his State of the Union address, had the temerity to criticize the Supreme Court of the United States for its new ruling that companies have a right to free speech in political campaign advertising (a right that unions already enjoyed, by the way). He did this as the justices themselves sat before him in the audience, paying their respects to a leader who showed them none.

Perhaps President Obama had forgotten an American civics lesson: The Supreme Court is the supreme law of the land. It is unseemly and disrespectful for a President to so bluntly and blatantly question the justices’ judgment and intent—especially right in front of their faces.

I can’t remember of any other President in my memory having done this. Nixon maybe? An unfortunate comparison, indeed.

Another civics lesson Obama seems to have missed is what is in the Constitution of the United States, and what is in the Declaration of Independence, again, not so great for an alleged scholar:

Right. I don't know why Kneale is so surprised by this lack of decorum from Obama. He has done nothing but demonstrate a complete and utter lack of regard for decorum, stepping lightly, or exhibiting any modicum of humility, despite his claim that he is humble (missing the point of the word):
Similarly, President Obama maligns Wall Street for trying to have a say in financial reform and lobbying for its interests, though this input is a vital ingredient in any democratic process. Yet Obama doesn’t criticize giant unions like the AFL-CIO and the SEIU when they similarly lobby on fin-reg.

Why? Because the unions agree with him. Even though Wall Street has a far more legitimate claim to get involved in this debate than do the unions, which represent only 7% of the private work force and essentially should have no dog in this fight at all.

Hmm, now that I think about it, nor can I recall any other modern President who has spent so much effort lambasting his immediate predecessor. Reagan didn’t do it to Carter. Clinton didn’t do it to the first George Bush.

And the worst part is, we’re barely calling out Obama the Bully on this behavior at all. We are becoming entirely too accustomed to it, failing to see it for what it really is: a striking lack of civility, and an overflow of divisiveness, from a President who had promised to give us precisely the opposite.

Great - more from SEIU, the union that represents about 2 million people. Someone tell me again why they are so powerful? Are they now taking over for their sister organization, ACORN, since ACORN has been disgraced? Regardless, it is obscene for them to wield as much power in this country as they do, especially with Obama.

Yes, Obama is a bully. Anyone who TRULY watched him throughout the Primary Campaigns, or the Election Campaigns, knew that.

If you continue to doubt the bullying nature of Obama, check out this article in which he and his team call out SWAT cops on a peaceful gathering of Tea Partiers in Quincy, IL, Team Obama Calls Out Swat Team on Tea Party Patriots!. As you can see from the photo below, there was real cause for concern on the part of Obama and his people:

Ooohhhh, scary grandmotherly-looking women singing patriotic songs as you can hear in this clip (H/t to Logistics Monster):

Quite a difference from this recent protest in Arizona:

Yep, there is no doubt that Obama is a bully. There is also no doubt we are living in Upside Down World when SWAT cops are brought in against peaceful protesters, yet there is not an overwhelming presence in AZ when people are completely out of control. It is simply astonishing. Don't you think?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Is The Love Affair Over Between The Press And Obama?

One would certainly think so if this article is any indication, "Why Reporters Are Down On President Obama". Color me a bit surprised to learn that reporters were down on Obama. I could be jaded after the overwhelmingly positive articles of him during the election, especially compared to favorable articles on Hillary Clinton, but I hadn't noticed that they were "down on President Obama," had you?

Heck, just today, the Washington Post put out a poll it did with ABC News in which the headline says things might be a bit hairy for incumbents for the next election, but that overall, Obama is seen as trustworthy on a number of issues. But what you DON'T learn in that article is the breakdown of the 1001 people polled, and how Obama's positive numbers could be higher now than they were in a recent Gallup poll. Well, HotAir explains:
Why did Obama and the Democrats still manage to hold more trust over their GOP opponents? The pollster talked to more of them, that’s how — and more of them than they did in the last poll, relative to Republicans. In the March 26th poll, the WaPo/ABC sample had a D/R/I split of 34/24/38, giving Democrats a partisan advantage of 10 points in the poll. This time, the sample’s split went 34/23/38, and even the independents split in favor of the Democrats, 19/17, up from 17/17 last month. Just to give some perspective, the partisan gap from their November 2008 poll just before the election was nine points — and 26% of the sample was Republicans, compared to 23% now.

Given the expanding partisan gap shown in this poll, small wonder that Obama winds up with more trust than Republicans among respondents. It’s also no mystery why the WaPo/ABC poll shows Obama adding to his job approval rating, 54/44, when every other pollster has Obama sinking. That ten-point swing in the sample makes quite a difference.

It also makes a big difference in the consolation news the Post and ABC offered Democrats. The 46/32 split for Dems on trust by party shows that Democrats would be considerably narrower than the 14-point lead this survey shows. The eleven point lead that Obama has over the GOP for trust on the economy would be completely gone, and the 4-point edge Obama enjoys over Republicans on the deficit would have more than reversed itself.

So you can see why I was a bit surprised to see the Politico story indicating the love affair with Obama was over. Yet that is the claim in this lengthy article. (Let me say up front, I will not be including the whole thing here for space reasons, but I urge you to read the whole piece.)

And now to the story itself:
One of the enduring storylines of Barack Obama’s presidency, dating back to the earliest days of his candidacy, is that the press loves him.

“Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me,” Obama joked last year at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

But even then, only four months into his presidency, the joke fell flat. Now, a year later, with another correspondents’ dinner Saturday night likely to generate the familiar criticism of the press’s cozy relationship with power, the reality is even more at odds with the public perception.

President Obama and the media actually have a surprisingly hostile relationship – as contentious on a day-to-day basis as any between press and president in the last decade, reporters who cover the White House say.

Reporters say the White House is thin-skinned, controlling, eager to go over their heads and stingy with even basic information. All White Houses try to control the message. But this White House has pledged to be more open than its predecessors – and reporters feel it doesn’t live up to that pledge in several key areas:

— Day-to-day interaction with Obama is almost non-existent, and he talks to the press corps far less often than Bill Clinton or even George W. Bush did. Clinton took questions nearly every weekday, on average. Obama barely does it once a week.

— The ferocity of pushback is intense. A routine press query can draw a string of vitriolic emails. A negative story can draw a profane high-decibel phone call – or worse. Some reporters feel like they’ve been frozen out after crossing the White House.

— Except for a few reporters, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs can be distant and difficult to reach - even though his job is to be one of the main conduits from president to press. “It’s an odd White House where it’s easier to get the White House chief of staff on the phone than the White House press secretary,” one top reporter said.

— And at the very moment many reporters feel shut out, one paper - the New York Times - enjoys a favoritism from Obama and his staff that makes competitors fume, with gift-wrapped scoops and loads of presidential face-time.

“They seem to want close the book on the highly secretive years of the Bush administration. However, in their relationship with the press, I think they’re doing what they think succeeded in helping Obama get elected,” said the New Yorker’s George Packer.

“I don’t think they need to be nice to reporters, but the White House seems to imagine that releasing information is like a tap that can be turned on and off at their whim,” Packer said.

Okay. You know what I am going to say about this already. Had they actually done their jobs during the campaign, looked at who Obama really is, his job performance (or lack thereof), refrained from categorizing him as "cool" when he was being arrogant and aloof, maybe they would not surprised now.

And they sure would not be surprised by this, had they followed his "career":
Much of the criticism is off-the record, both out of fear of retaliation and from worry about appearing whiny. But those views were voiced by a cross-section of the television, newspaper and magazine journalists who cover the White House.

“These are people who came in with every reporter giving them the benefit of the doubt,” said another reporter who regularly covers the White House. “They’ve lost all that goodwill.”

And this attitude, many believe, starts with the man at the top. Obama rarely lets a chance go by to make a critical or sarcastic comment about the press, its superficiality or its short-term mentality. He also hasn’t done a full-blown news conference for 10 months.

Obama's White House aides can rightfully say they've set new standards for opening up access on several fronts, such as releasing previously secret visitors' logs, expanding White House web content and offering more than 150 sit-down interviews with Obama to selected reporters.

But Gibbs is unapologetic about sometimes taking a hard line in his dealings with the press, saying it’s a response to the viral nature of modern media.

“There’s a danger in letting something go. Trust me, I read a lot of news every day. Not a day goes by that something that I didn’t pay enough attention to, or close attention to, doesn’t go from being myth to reality over the course of several hours,” Gibbs told POLITICO.

“I understand if you’re a reporter and get 95 percent right, and your word choice isn’t right on 5 percent. But that 5 percent goes on to become reality. I’ve got to live with that, when it may or may not be true,” Gibbs said. “It does make our jobs difficult.”

The correspondents association recently met with Gibbs to discuss, in the words of Bloomberg's Ed Chen, "a level of anger, which is wide and deep, among members over White House practices and attitude toward the press.”

A few days later, Gibbs said at one of his briefings, “This is the most transparent administration in the history of our country.”

Peals of laughter broke out in the briefing room.

Hold the phone. Did they agree with Chris Matthews that a journalist's job was to make Obama's presidency a successful one and that's why they gave him goodwill he did not EARN?? If so, they are unclear about the role of a journalist in a free society.

At least they acknowledged the total Obama/Gibbs "Transparency" meme with the response it deserved - laughter.

Here are their beefs with the Obama Administration:
The press’s bill of particulars boils down to this:

Dodging questions

If you cover City Hall, you talk to the mayor. If you cover the Yankees, you’ll hang around Derek Jeter’s locker. The White House is no different, and aides past routinely filled that need by letting the press pool toss the president a couple of questions every so often, usually at one of the various events that fill his calendar every day.

Not Obama. He has severely cut back the informal exchanges with the press pool, marking a new low in presidential access.

The numbers speak for themselves: during his first year in office, President Bill Clinton did 252 such Q&A sessions—an average of one every weekday. Bush did 147. Obama did 46, according to Towson University Professor Martha Kumar.

“Too many of the president’s meetings are ‘no coverage’ for my taste,” said ABC’s Ann Compton. “That is a stark reduction in access for us.”

White House aides say Obama has hardly avoided the media. Indeed, he has done so many interviews that at times journalists have accused him of being overexposed. In his first year, Obama gave 161 interviews, according to Kumar’s tally. Bush and Clinton each did about 50.

Reporters point out that the Bush White House was no paragon of press transparency. And since the meeting with Gibbs this month, Obama took a couple of questions at a meeting with congressional leaders last week and still photographers got into a couple more events.

“I give credit to Robert for having the meeting, hearing our concerns and taking some action after the meeting to show that, while he may not agree to all the things we’re pushing for, he respects our concerns,” said CNN’s Ed Henry, the correspondents’ association’s secretary.

Playing favorites

It’s one thing to feed a scoop to the Times. Every White House does it.

But Team Obama did it right in front of the other reporters’ faces – then, in their view, lied about it.

Say Whaaaaa?? The Obama Administration LIED about something? Yeah, like every time Obama or Gibbs open their mouths. For the rest of this particular tale of how the White House dissed a whole bunch of reporters and lied about it, click HERE.

As for the New York Times being a favorite of the Administration, Spokesweasel Gibbs had this to say:
Gibbs denied an “unnecessary advantage” to the Times, while saying it has far more reporters covering topics of interest to the White House than most outlets. Times Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Dick Stevenson said it would be “absurd” to suggest the Times doesn’t get access in certain instances that others don’t.

But Stevenson said, “Like every other journalist in Washington I would say there’s a lot more they could do in terms of access for us and everyone else. While we appreciate the instances in which they cooperate and are accessible, there are plenty of cases where they’re not terribly accessible or responsive.”

While the Obama administration’s decision to stiff-arm Fox News caused a huge dust-up for a time last year, his back-benching of the Wall Street Journal has barely generated a peep. The Journal’s White House reporter, Jonathan Weisman, occasionally vents his frustration over the near freeze-out that has left the Journal with a single exclusive interview since Obama took office.

This was news to me. I read a lot of news. How is it that this was NOT out there? I mean, the Wall Street Journal is a pretty big news source, so why was this not discussed more? If anyone knows, I'd like to hear it.

Anyone who watched MSNBC during the Primaries/Campaign is familiar with Richard Wolffe, the Obama sycophant. Well, guess who is a WH fave? You got it:
[snip] Another event that riled many in the press corps took place on March 20. The Washington Examiner's Julie Mason confronted former Newsweek correspondent Richard Wolffe, author of a highly favorable book about the Obama campaign, when he attempted to join the White House pool on the Saturday before Congress' big health care vote.

"You're not in the pool," Mason recalled telling Wolffe. "You shouldn't be joining." Mason said Wolffe claimed that he was there courtesy of "a special invitation from the Obama administration." Wolffe is working on a second book on the Obama administration.

"Are you working for them officially now?" shot back Mason.

“The White House wants their friend to be in the pool and we don't know what recourse we have,” Mason later told POLITICO. “It's just completely unfair to the press corps and flies in the face of the concept of a free press."

Oh, snap. And a "free press"? Yeah, I'd love to see what this country was like if we REALLY had a free press. You know, one that actually covered the differences in protests between, say, Tea Partiers and AZ Anti-Immigration people. I suppose a girl can dream, right?

As indicated above, this White House can be a tad vindictive:
[snip]Getting mad

And just what happens when you upset the White House?

Among White House reporters, tales abound of an offhand criticism or passing claim low in an unremarkable story setting off an avalanche of hostile e-mail and voice mail messages.

“It’s not unusual to have shouting matches, or the email equivalent of that. It’s very, very aggressive behavior, taking issue with a thing you’ve written, an individual word, all sorts of things,” said one White House reporter.

“It’s a natural outgrowth of campaigning where control of the message is everything and where a very tight circle controls the flow of information,” the New Yorker’s Packer said. “I just think it is a mistake to transfer that model to governing. Governing is so much more complicated and is all about implementation—not just message.”

One of the most irritating practices of the Obama White House is when aides ignore inquiries or explicitly refuse to cooperate with an unwelcome story—only to come out with both guns blazing when it takes a skeptical view of their motives or success.

“You will give them ample opportunity on a story. They will then say, ‘We don’t have anything for you on this.’ Then, when you write an analytical graf that could be interpreted as implying a political motive by the White House, or something that makes them look like anything but geniuses, you will get a flurry of off the record angry e-mails after you publish,” one national reporter said. “That does no good. If you want to complain, engage!”

Gibbs said the White House’s efforts to push back tend to focus on fixing factual mistakes before they take hold in the media.

“The way we live these days, something that’s wrong can whip around and become part of the conventional wisdom in only a matter of moments and it’s hard to take it, put a top on it and put in back into the box,” Gibbs said. “That’s the nature by which the business operates right now.…This isn’t unique in terms of us and it’s likely to be more true for the next administration.”

Asked about some of the more aggressive tactics, including complaints to editors, Gibbs said, “We have to do some of those things....I certainly believe anyone who goes to an editor does so because it’s something they feel is very egregious. I don’t think people do it very lightly.”

Some reporters say the pushback is so aggressive that it undermines the credibility of Obama’s aides. “The willingness to argue that credible information is untrue is at its core dishonest and unfortunately calls into question everything else the press office says,” one White House reporter said.

While some reporters note improvements since the Bush era, like more informed deputy press secretaries and assistants, others complain of rigid image control pervading the government. “The access is much poorer than the Bush administration,” one national newspaper who regularly covers the White House said. “This is wider than just the White House. I feel like the political appointees in a variety of agencies are more difficult to get to. There are people…you could reach in the Bush administration that now they say ‘That position does not speak to the press. We do not give background. We do not give anything.’ ’’

Compton said that if the Obama White House’s sense of being besieged by the press is authentic it bespeaks a kind of innocence born from a candidate and a president who have never confronted a full-on Washington feeding frenzy.

“They ain’t seen nothing yet,” the longtime ABC reporter said. “Wait ‘till they have to start really circling the wagons when someone in the administration under attack, wait ‘till there’s a scandal, wait ‘till someone screws up, then it’ll get hostile.”

Well, it seems like the press is going to have ample opportunity with the revelation of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's phone calls with Obama. We shouldn't have long to wait to see if there is a "feeding frenzy" over THIS scandal.

And if the press actually does their job, I am sure the level of push-back will be noteworthy given what the press is receiving now:
Getting even

While complaining about stories is hardly unique to the Obama administration, White House reporters charge that sometimes, aides even retaliate against reporters who cross them.

One reporter said that after he wrote a story the White House viewed as critical, aides tried to cancel meetings he’d lined up with other administration officials. “I was told very clearly the press office tried to stop those appointments going ahead,” the journalist said.

Gibbs said he couldn’t recall any such instance. “I’m sure people may have thought that, though,” he said.

While the Times clearly enjoys more access than any other publication, its perceived transgressions often get a heated and sustained response from the White House. “There certainly is no lack of friction or the appropriate tension that goes into this relationship—to put it mildly,” Stevenson said.

And that is with a favored organization. I imagine we can extrapolate to those the WH does NOT like:
[snip]“They throw some brush-back pitches every now and then,” one White House reporter for a major newspaper said. “They’ve been pretty heavy handed and have cut some people off.”

Edward Luce of the Financial Times drew the ire of Obama aides for a couple of articles arguing that decision making in the Obama administration is extremely centralized. Neither piece was a devastating indictment of the White House, but they prompted a furious reaction.

“I was just in awe of the pummeling Ed took from top White House people,” said policy blogger and New America Foundation senior fellow Steve Clemons. He began talking to White House reporters and came away convinced that what he calls an “extremely unhealthy” relationship has developed in which the White House generally cooperates only with reporters who are willing to write source-greasers or other fawning articles.

Gibbs referred questions about the Luce stories to McDonough. “Who’s Ed Luce?” McDonough said. “I’m not familiar with that.”

Clemons’s post on his findings, “Communications Corruption at the White House,” was harsh, particularly coming from a policy wonk who tends to agree with most of Obama’s stances.

“Has the bar moved so far that a reasonable piece that gives and takes a little but provides both criticism and applause, that is something White House has to respond to in such a prickly, thin-skinned way?” asked Clemons.

Um, YES!! For the gazillionith time, we tried to tell you so. We tried to get you to really, really look at this candidate instead of regurgitating whatever talking points Obama wanted you to spew for him. Or to quit transferring definitions for one word to another, like "even keeled" for "prickly," "angry," or "dismissive." But would you listen? No. So on many levels, the press is getting what it has coming to it.

And that would be peachy keen-o if the press hadn't given such a massive pass to this man who now occupies the White House, shoving through policies that are disastrous for our country, using the legal system as his personal bully under the guise of the Constitution (several things come to mind, but I'll mention two: the DOJ supporting DADT, and Obama going after Arizona for trying to do something the Federal Government has failed to do - strengthen their border). Who knows, maybe when these reporters' own outlets decide it's cheaper to NOT cover their health care now that Obama got this god-awful law signed, they'll wish they had actually done their jobs a bit better.

You know, come to think of it, they deserve pretty much what they are getting from the White House now. I'm willing to bet good money that a Clinton White House, even a McCain White House, would not be treating the press - our eyes and ears in the public arena - with such callous disregard, and even contempt. But they wanted Obama in there, and as he noted, they (most likely) voted for him.

So how does it feel now? Those Kool Aide fumes dispersing any?? If so, welcome to our world, the one you, the media, helped bring upon us. And thanks shitloads for that. Ready to do your jobs now?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Senate Subpoena, Media Coverage Followup

Recently, I reported that Senators Lieberman and Collins subpoenaed the White House to have access to all of the information available on the Fort Hood Shooting, and Major Hasan. Well, the White House, Pentagon, and Justice Department have all said, "No." Ah, such transparency:
“We have repeatedly sought your departments’ cooperation,” they wrote. “Our efforts have been met with delay, the production of little that was not already public and shifting reasons for why the departments are withholding [information] that we have requested.”

Before he went on his terrorist rampage, Hasan was in regular e-mail contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, the US-born imam who ministered to at least three 9/11 hijackers as well as the would-be Christmas Day underwear bomber.

Indeed, FBI and Army investigators reportedly intercepted those e-mails, and also knew that he’d been heard making statements justifying suicide bombing.

“Given the warning signals about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s extremist radicalism,” ask Lieberman and Collins, “why was he not stopped before he took 13 American lives?”

Why not, indeed?

That is the question - why WON'T Holder and Gates provide the information the Senate needs to fulfill its duty? I am sure this will be dragging out for a while.

Then I reported that Gov. Rendell claimed the Tea Party is not a legitimate movement, basically asserting that its "popularity" is simply the result of positive media coverage. After I picked my jaw up off the floor at such an incredibly ridiculous statement based on FACTS, I found numerous instances of the media covering the Tea Party, but it was far from positive.

I was not the only one to refute this ridiculous claim, though, A Tea Party member, who is also a DJ, had this to say about Gov. Rendell's statement:

Uh, yeah. I might add, I was reminded by Karen For Hillary that Rendell had also tried to found an Anti-PUMA group during the election, one he termed, Hound Dogs (Ani provided the acronym Rendell coined, H.O.U.N.D. Ha - funny, right? Ahem.). Yeah, he needs some rehab from that Obama Kool Aide.

And while I am on the topic of the media, and the way it covers events, how about the coverage of the AZ protesters of the new Immigration law v. Tea Party coverage:

So Anti-Immigration protesters are heaving full water bottles at police officers, some are being arrested, and this is a PEACEFUL protest? Wow.

Finally, there is this call to violence by Slate's David Plotz:

Plotz acknowledged that he was indeed calling for violence (isn't that a crime? "Inciting a riot" is what it sounds like to me, though I'm no lawyer). Moreover, when asked if he wanted to burn people in effigy, he made it clear that "in effigy" was NOT his plan.

Can you imagine, can you JUST imagine, if ANYONE in the middle or the right issued such a call?? Ohmygosh, they would have the FBI at their door tout de suite.

I might add, Plotz is clearly uninformed - there IS a populist uprising in progress in this country right now. It's the TEA PARTY. Whether you agree with it or not, that is exactly what it is - a populist uprising against wasteful spending, taxation, and government expansion. You'd think someone who was in the news business would be aware of that. Ahem.

Stay tuned - I am sure there will be more to add in the coming days!

Monday, April 26, 2010

"The Tea Party Is Not A Legitimate Movement"

So claims Gov. Ed Rendell of PA. Yes, the governor thinks that it really is not a movement to be taken seriously, or that will have much of an impact, in the upcoming elections. I used to really like Ed Rendell, especially when he was such a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton. But since he tossed his hat in with Barack Obama, he does not seem able to put down that Hopium pipe, making connections and claims that, in my humble opinion, make him look downright foolish. It seems he will say ANYTHING to try and cast The One in a positive light, and anyone who dare question Obama is a nutjob. Sad, really.

But wait until you hear one of his more outlandish claims - I about snorted my double cappuccino through my nose when I heard this one:

Did you catch that? He claimed that it is because of the MEDIA that the Tea Party enjoys so much success. Oh, yes, because the MSM has discussed the Tea Party and its members in such GLOWING, positive terms, hasn't it? Let's look at a few of the headlines that really embody the support the media has given to the Tea Party.

First up, this headline from The Huffington Post: David Shuster: GOP "Going Nuts" For Teabagging, But "They Need A Dick Armey"

This is really a bonus one since it also includes a hommophobic term AND a sexual innuendo all at the same time! From the very people who try to tell us how GREAT the Democratic Party is for GLBT people. Yeah, right.

How about the Associated Press? Well, they did an "Analysis" of the Tea Party, to see if it was "brewing a revolution." They decided that it really has "little muscle." That's one of the least snarky things the article includes. For example:
This we know: Tea parties know how to produce crowds. In the footsteps of the pamphleteers of the 1770s, organizers use e-mail, social networking and other electronic tools to draw enormous numbers of disaffected Americans together. Some wear revolutionary-era garb and carry signs bearing the language of 18th century patriots — "Don't tread on me!" is a popular one.

But rally building is no big trick in the era of Twitter and Facebook, when people with cell phones can summon crowds from thin air for events as frivolous as snowball fights and bursts of song.

Wow, what a glowing recommendation for the Tea Party movement! No WONDER Gov. Rendell thinks the media has been helping them so much!! Right.

There are so, so many more - feel free to find your favorite headlines! I do have one last one to share, another point missed by Gov. Rendell: Foes Of Tea Party Movement To Infiltrate Rallies. Oh, yes. And this is what they hope to accomplish:
Opponents of the fiscally conservative tea party movement say they plan to infiltrate and dismantle the political group by trying to make its members appear to be racist, homophobic and moronic.

Isn't that special? Ironic, isn't it? The opponents want to portray Tea Partiers as homophobic and moronic when they display those very qualities every single time they use the term "Tea Baggers." Ahem.

Is there any evidence to support Gov. Rendell's supposition that it is the glowing references by the media that have helped this non-movement? Not according to this article:
Study: Networks Snub, Malign 'Tea Party'; Report finds news coverage of movement sparse, cynical

The big three television networks virtually ignored the massive, grass-roots "tea party" surge in 2009, and so far this year have maligned the movement as teeming with racists and violent fringe figures, according to a report by the Media Research Center.

"Rather than objectively document the rise and impact of this important grassroots movement, the 'news' networks instead chose to first ignore, and then deplore, the citizen army mobilizing against the unpopular policies of a liberal president and Congress," wrote MRC Research Director Rich Noyes.

Huh. That sounds like it completely contradicts Rendell's assertion. So does this:
As a nation-spanning "Tea Party Express" caravan plans to pull into Washington for a "tax day" rally on Thursday, a Rasmussen poll finds that the number of people who say they're part of the tea party movement nationally has grown to 24 percent, up from 16 percent a month ago.

"The rise in tea party support is perhaps not surprising at a time when more voters than ever (58 percent) favor repeal of the national health care plan just passed by Democrats in Congress and signed into law by President Obama," the pollster wrote.

The Media Research Center, a watchdog organization founded by conservative L. Brent Bozell III, compiled reams of statistics to support its findings about TV network coverage, among them:

• ABC, CBS and NBC aired 61 stories or segments on the anti-spending movement over a 12-month period, and most of that coverage is recent. "The networks virtually refused to recognize the tea party in 2009 (19 stories), with the level of coverage increasing only after Scott Brown's election in Massachusetts" in January, the report said, referring to the Republican's win of the Senate seat long held by Edward M. Kennedy.

• Overall, 44 percent of the networks' reports on the tea party suggested the movement reflected a fringe movement or a dangerous quality. "Signs and images at last weekend's big tea party march in Washington and at other recent events have featured racial and other violent themes," NBC anchorman Brian Williams said in a September report.

Oops - sorry, Governor. Your attempt at claiming up is down, and down is up, is not reflected in the actual facts. Nice try. Now, seriously - put down the Hopium, stop drinking the Kool Aide, and try to bring yourself back to the Reality based community. I promise, we'll welcome you back.

Please stop with this ridiculous assertion of yours about the media's warm embrace of the Tea Party movement. Really, it's just embarrassing.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's That Time Of Year

Yes, today is my birthday. I'm not sure what is on tap for today, maybe a party, maybe dinner with family and friends, I'm not sure. (We're out of town at the moment - I performed a celebration of marriage for one of my cousins on Sat. We're heading back home today.) One thing about which I am sure is that I'm taking the day off. Oh, and that I will have cake!

I hope you have a great day, and hopefully, you'll have some cake, too!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

These Democrats Don't Want to Wait On DADT; And A Thank You

This is an interesting turn of events. Recently, I reported that Obama is starting to face some real push back from Gay Rights groups over his lack of concrete action on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He had hecklers the other day, as well as military personnel discharged under this policy handcuff themselves to the White House fence (and the Lafayette Park police refusing to allow reporters access to do their jobs), and finally, Robert Gibbs, Obama's SpokesWeasel, admitting that the "study" Obama implemented on DADT will not even be finished until December 1, 2010.

Well, Gay Rights groups aren't the only ones upset about the lack of action on DADT. Honestly, I was a bit surprised by this article, but I am glad for it:
Dems In Congress Unwilling To Wait On Lengthy Repeal Of Military "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

WASHINGTON — The White House is facing a budding revolt over its carefully crafted strategy for repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military that would have pushed the decision past the November election.

Democrats in the House and Senate — including two key lawmakers from Colorado — say they are unwilling to wait for completion of a 10-month Pentagon study on repeal of the policy known as "don't ask, don't tell" and are instead moving to include immediate repeal in the defense reauthorization bill, scheduled for mark-up next month.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., among the Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee backing the move, said the committee was "within a vote or two" of including repeal in the must- pass legislation. He met with three discharged members of the military Tuesday, using their stories to highlight the need for repeal this year.

Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat and one of three openly gay members of Congress, holds a key position on the Rules Committee that he is willing to use to insert a similar provision in the House version of the spending bill, he said Tuesday.

Congressional aides said both approaches are likely to face opposition from the White House, which in February laid a timetable built around an extensive Pentagon study that won't be completed until Dec. 1, pushing a final move on the contentious issue past what's expected to be Democrats' toughest election cycle in years.

That's just it - this study, which is basically reinventing the wheel in terms of openly homosexual military personnel since many other countries already have LGB people serving openly. Not to be too cynical or anything, but it does provide cover for Obama to NOT have DADT repealed. If the study isn't completed until AFTER the elections, when Republicans are expected to at least reclaim the House, he can blame THEM for it not being repealed down the road.

Meanwhile, real people are being affected by DADT:
3 tales of careers ended

But the White House is facing pushback on several fronts at once. On Monday, repeal activists heckled President Barack Obama for several minutes at a fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer in California.

"The sooner we can end this policy, the better," Polis said. "There have been plenty of studies about this policy and how it continues to weaken our military every day that it exists."

The three former military personnel gathered in Udall's Senate office Tuesday each had stellar careers cut short when officials discovered they were gay.

Mike Almy was an Air Force major commanding a sensitive communications unit in the Middle East when a colleague discovered personal e-mails sent to relatives back home. After a 16-month investigation, he was discharged and escorted from the base by police "as if I were a common criminal or a threat to national security," he said.

David Hall spent five years loading bombs and missiles on F-15 fighter jets when he was accepted into an officer-training program, with a chance to become a fighter pilot. Ranked No. 1 in his cadet class, he was discharged when a female cadet told his superiors he was gay.

Stacey Vasquez had a career as a distinguished noncommissioned officer, including being named the top recruiter in the Army. It ended when a colleague's wife saw her kissing another woman in a club in Dallas, she said.

"Once I was discharged, I remember a distinct feeling as I was driving away from Fort Hood thinking, How could my country let me down like this?" Vasquez said.

"How could I give 12 years, how could I go out and tell kids how great the service was, and then one day — due to no misconduct — my country tells me that I'm not a valuable asset?" she said.

Udall cited the record of each and called repeal "the most common-sense step we could take to enhance our national security."

There are so many stories like these, TOO many stories like these. How is it that these people who have sacrificed so much, and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, be turned away like common criminals from serving? It is heartbreaking to hear these stories, to endure one's country turning its back on years of service.

What will it take to repeal this law then? The article continues:

Backers' strategy

Opponents of repealing don't ask, don't tell, which allows gays to serve in the military as long as their sexual orientation remains a secret, make the opposite argument: Allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military presents of risk of significant disruption in the midst of fighting two wars.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, supports including immediate repeal in the defense spending bill, aides said, a strategy that would require a super majority of 60 votes to remove it. Two or three Democrats on the committee are opposed, which means supporters will have to pick up some Republican allies.

But the most significant factor may be how far the White House is willing to go in opposing the idea.

"I'm going to push everybody possible to see this happens this year. We've had this discussion long enough," Udall said.

"The Pentagon has taken some big forward steps that they've never been willing to take," he said. "I don't under estimate the steps they're taking, but in the end we need to change the law." (Michael Riley: 303-954-1614 or

I think we have already seen how far the White House is willing to go. Obama commissioned a study to end AFTER the mid-term elections. I think that says it all.

I continue to marvel at the intestinal fortitude of those who continue this fight to serve their country when their country has let them down, when their Commander in Chief has let them down. This speaks volumes about them, and the stuff of which they are made.

And so, I would like to conclude by thanking those service members who have been discharged under this policy for their service; for those who are fighting to serve their country; and to all who put on the uniform for this country, past and present. I know this isn't Veterans Day, or Armed Services Day, but it doesn't mean this cannot be a "Thank Our Military" Day, especially for those who are fighting to stay in the service:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bertha Speaks (and shouldn't); And Funding Ban Back On

ACORN's Leader, Bertha Lewis, recently spoke to a group of young people. Her talk, excerpts below, was mighty interesting:

Holy moley, did you catch all of that? Let's see: Socialism, Check! Demean Tea Party members, Check! And on it goes.

Perhaps it was because of this speech that ACORN's funds are once again on hold, as this article spells out:
Appeals Court Temporarily Reinstates ACORN Funding Ban

The ruling by the three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan will remain in place until full arguments on the issue can be heard during the summer.

A federal appeals court on Wednesday temporarily blocked a judge's ruling that it was unconstitutional for Congress to cut funding to the activist group ACORN.

The ruling by the three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan will remain in place until full arguments on the issue can be heard during the summer.

Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who has led the charge against taxpayer funding for ACORN, cheered the ruling.

"I applaud the Court of Appeals for immediately addressing the effects of Judge Gershon's attempt to legislate from the bench," he said in a written statement. "With today's action by the Appeals Court, the Obama administration must take immediate steps to re-implement the funding ban for ACORN Congress put into law."

"In recent months, ACORN has undergone a rebranding campaign to disguise itself and its affiliates," Issa added. "As a result, the White House and all federal agencies must be extremely vigilant to ensure that rebranded organizations who have continued to make deals and maintain connections to ACORN don't receive taxpayer dollars."

Well, this is certainly an interesting change of fortune for ACORN. Maybe all of that name changing sleight of hand raised some red flags. Or maybe the Court wanted to look a bit closer into the reasons why the Funding was restored in the first place:
U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon has ruled twice in the past six months that the funding cutoff was unconstitutional.

The Brooklyn judge said ACORN was punished by Congress without having gone through processes to decide whether money had been handled inappropriately.

A series of secretly taped videos filmed at ACORN offices around the country last year caught employees giving advice to a couple posing as a pimp and prostitute, sparking a national scandal and helping drive the organization to near ruin.

On Wednesday, attorney Mark Stern argued for the Justice Department that Congress did nothing wrong when it took action last year against ACORN after it identified "widespread mismanagement."

Attorney Jules Lobel of the Center for Constitutional Rights said that funding for economically distressed people who receive government subsidies for homes was being blocked and that the money needed to be freed or some people would be homeless.

I am all for economically distressed people receiving funds to ensure they keep their homes. I am not all for the organization handling those funds to be rabidly partisan, and there is no doubt ACORN is that. It receives federal dollars - OUR dollars - as a non-partisan organization. That is but one of the many reasons why its funds are at risk, as well as charges of voter registration fraud, voter fraud, and a number of other potential hot-water issues.

It's a shame, too - it didn't have to be this way, but that is the road down which ACORN chose to go, no doubt emboldened by their relationship to Obama. They seem incapable of accepting responsibility for their own actions, blaming those who expect them to operate above board and want to hold them accountable for how they spend our money instead.

It could have been different, it SHOULD have been different. As a result of ACORN's own actions, people who needed this money will not be able to get it. ACORN has no one else to blame for this but itself.

So, I wonder when we can expect their acknowledgment of wrong doing, and an apology for mismanaging our money? Yeah, I'm scheduling it for "Never." How about you?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day

Senators to Obama: Stop Stonewalling!

This is a story about which we have not heard much in the news of late:

Two Senators Subpoena Obama Administration For Information On Fort Hood Shootings

Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) issued the first congressional subpoenas of the Obama administration Monday after accusing the White House of stonewalling their requests for information about the Fort Hood shootings.

In a letter with the subpoenas, the chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said the FBI and Defense Department had ignored their requests for five months. The Nov. 5 shootings at the Texas base, the largest Army post in the United States, left 13 people dead.

Lieberman and Collins said they sought witnesses and documents about what the government previously knew about the alleged gunman, Army psychiatrist Nidal M. Hasan, and whether it had adequately investigated his pre-shooting communications with Yemeni cleric and suspected terrorist Anwar al-Aulaqi.

Lawmakers gave the administration until April 26 to respond or face a committee vote to take the administration to court.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"The Gays" Aren't Happy With Obama **Updated**

Nope - they surely are not. Seems the LBGT community wants Obama to keep his promise about DADT. Yes, seems they believed him when he said he would get rid of it tout de suite (and I say "they" because I never thought for a second that he gave a damn about our community).

This week has brought two actions from GetEqual highlighting the need for Obama to get off the mark and DO something already. The first was at a fundraiser Obama attended for Barbara Boxer:

You'll notice Obama just deflects the cries of the protesters and does not really address the concerns. Nope, he was just his usual arrogant self. And that changes DADT not one whit.

It is precisely that lack of concern which spurred a number of military personnel to protest outside the White House, including decorated Iraq War veteran and West Point graduate, Lt. Dan Choi. I might add, Lt. Choi is a veteran now after being discharged from active duty for being gay. Still, he fights on:

You won't believe how the White House dealt with this protest. It is shocking:
Police chased reporters away from the White House and closed Lafayette Park today in response to a gay rights protest in which several service members in full uniform handcuffed themselves to the White House gate to protest "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

People who have covered the White House for years tell me that's an extremely unusual thing to do in an area that regularly features protests.

Here's a video of the police chasing the reporters away:

WOW. This is just difficult to believe, even from Obama. I knew he was no friend to our community, and is he ever proving it.

These people have served their country proudly and with valor. And they have done so despite their country not valuing that service or their willingness to lay their lives on the line. Yet, they want to serve. Still, despite it all, they want to continue to serve their country in the Armed Services.

Isn't it high time we just let them?

**UPDATED** NQ Reader, Meileen, supplied the following video of Obama's Spokes(weasel)man, Robert Gibbs, essentially acknowledging that Obama will NOT be doing anything on DADT this year:

As savvy readers have guessed, Obama will not take advantage of his Democratic Majority, but will wait until after the elections, to try and "push" for DADT. He knows that, most likely, Republicans will be taking over at least one part of Congress, and then he can blame them for not changing the law when he runs for re-election. Oh, you can see it now, "Oh, I wanted to fulfill my campaign promise to end DADT, and I tried, I really, really tried, but those MEAN Republicans just wouldn't let me! Vote for me again, and I PROMISE, this time, I will get it through. Promise!!" Blech.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Obama, Goldman Sachs, and Reform?

Goldman Sachs has been in the news a bit lately, and with good reason. As Larry Doyle has detailed, the SEC filed a civil suit against Goldman Sachs last week for fraud. Obama is trying to use this recent lawsuit as a way to increase restrictions against Wall Street. And as this LA Times article points out, the "Goldman Sachs Case Could Help Obama Shift Voter Anger:" The fraud charges may strengthen the president's campaign, against Republican resistance, to tighten regulations on Wall Street.

The article states:
Fraud charges leveled against the investment bank Goldman, Sachs & Co. center on complex financial dealings. But for President Obama, the accusations against the venerable Wall Street institution offer a chance to revitalize a simple political narrative that he has all but lost in recent months: that he and his party are protecting ordinary Americans victimized by the economic meltdown.

Republicans have been notably successful in mounting populist attacks on the administration, even framing the pending legislation that would increase regulation of Wall Street as a recipe for perpetual bailouts by taxpayers. Now the Goldman case gives the administration a chance to send a countervailing message that government intervention is essential in the face of unregulated trading that favors well-connected insiders.

Treasury officials were all smiles Friday after the Securities and Exchange Commission charges against Goldman Sachs were announced. The SEC, an independent commission, contends that Goldman stacked the deck on billions of dollars in mortgage securities in favor of insiders and against unknowing investors, a charge Goldman denies.

The Goldman case comes along at a time when the Democrats need help. Obama's approval rating is tumbling and independent voters are disillusioned with his leadership. Unemployment is expected to hover near 10% nationally for the rest of the year.

Well, that's some interesting timing. All of a sudden, the SEC is filing a civil lawsuit against them? Hey, I'm not saying they don't DESERVE to have a lawsuit against them, but it is just a little curious, isn't it? (Click HERE to read the rest of this piece.)

Why do I say that? Because during the campaign, Obama and Goldman Sachs were mighty friendly. As in, Goldman Sachs was Obama's biggest corporate contributor. Yes, indeedy. Isn't that curious that he is now railing against them? I think so.

So does Bob Ostretag in this piece, Goldman Sachs, Obama, Money. As they say, follow the money:
When Obama said he wanted bi-partisanship, this is probably not what he had in mind: Democrats and Republicans in Congress speaking in a united voice against corporate executives that have been equally cosy (sic) with Democrats and Republicans.

As in: equally cosy (sic) with Senator John Warner, that bad Republican, and Chris Dodd, who presented himself as a mild progressive in the last Democratic presidential primary.

As in: equally cosy (sic) with the Fed and Treasury under Clinton and Bush. As in: pretty darn cosy (sic) with President Obama himself.

Forget the bonuses at AIG. Chump change. Let's put what Goldman Sachs has been up to in plain English. Goldman Sachs had made a lot of esoteric financial transactions with AIG. Banks were collapsing at the time, leaving their investors with huge losses. When things started looking shaky at AIG, Goldman and other investors started calling in their claims, and pushed AIG off the cliff.

Now ask yourself: with banks collapsing, why would you push the one you had put so much money in to collapse?

Answer: because you had your boys on the inside in Washington, that's why. And your boys got a bail-out package for AIG which actually paid you more than your claims that broke the bank. What investors had demanded from AIG was collateral on debts. But they actually got with the bailout was the whole damn amount, 100 cents on the dollar.

Wow, nice work if you can get it, right? And if you're Goldman Sachs, you did:
To put it even more bluntly: if AIG had managed to not collapse and not require $180 billion in taxpayer money, Goldman Sachs would be sitting today with some very very shaky investments. But since AIG collapsed, the folks at Goldman cleaned up.

Or even more bluntly: Goldman used AIG as a funnel.

That's a nice trick. It's like two guys rolling someone on the street when the first guy comes up on the right and throws a punch after which the guy on the left quietly lifts the mark's wallet. Of course you run the risk that the cops might see you. Then again, if you have the cops in your pocket...

OK, that is a simplification. It is not the whole story. But it is a big part of the story.

But but... wasn't there an election between the AIG bail-out and today? The world changed, didn't it?

Goldman Sachs employees gave just shy of a million dollars to the Obama campaign, ranking second in contributions. Citigroup and JPMorgan ranked sixth and seventh. Goldman Sachs gave Obama four times more than they gave McCain.

This is one big fat ugly chicken that is coming home to roost.

So, to be clear - when Obama claimed to be a man of the people, does he mean Wall Street people? Because that's pretty much how it's looking. And now he is openly turning against them? Oh, this should be fun to watch:
Our political attention span being what it is, we might need reminding that there was actually a big debate over this very thing last year. From my July 1 blog:

When Barack Obama pulled out of public campaign financing, I wrote a column about his money machine, noting that despite all the small Internet donors, his campaign is still mostly funded in the most traditional of ways. Numerous readers taking offense at my characterization of Obama's fundraising as dominated by "fat cats." In light of new details on Obama's fundraising which have become available, now would be a good time to revisit this issue.

I noted that that, by the end of June, Wall Street had already given Obama $9.5 million, that four out of his top five contributors are employees of financial industry giants, with Goldman Sachs at the top of the list. Even conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks was appalled: "Over the past few years, people from Goldman Sachs have assumed control over large parts of the federal government. Over the next few they might just take over the whole darn thing."

The reader response was overwhelmingly negative. The debate was over which was more significant: the half of Obama's money that came in small Internet contributions, or the half that came from big corporate money. I argued that:

adding a layer of small Internet donations (45% of Obama's money) on top of all the traditional campaign money (55% of Obama's money) does not change the game of politics and money. It just adds another layer to the same old cake. To really change the game, one would need to replace all that traditional money with small Internet donations. ... Just think through the basics: if on one side you have over a million people giving you little donations that make up 45% of your budget, and on the other side you have a handful of people giving you big donations that make up 55% of your budget, whose telephone calls are you going to take?

So here we are with the world economy collapsing and the big question is exactly this: whose calls is Obama going to take? Because both sides are calling, big time. I don't have to tell you who is winning so far.

I am just going to guess it is the Big Cats on Wall Street even as Obama and the Democrats are demonizing them in the press. How does he get them to stay quiet while he is doing that, I wonder? I'd say, follow the money, but apparently, I am more cynical than Ostertag is:
But I am more optimistic than I thought I would be at this point. The looting of the US Treasury has not gone as planned. Everything is spiraling out of control. And Americans are actually mad! Bankers are in tears (at least according to their congressional testimony). When Republican congressmen are calling for corporate execs to commit mass suicide, you know the ground has shifted.

Have things changed so dramatically that Obama will have room to dump his biggest campaign contributers (sic) overboard? That question will be answered in the coming weeks.

Now is not the time to be quiet. Now is the time to yell bloody murder. We will soon know whose call comes through the loudest.

Yes, the question will be answered in the coming weeks. My bet is that Obama will continue to rail against the very companies that helped him get into office, just like he did with the insurance companies. The Democrats will try and tie the Republicans to Wall Street, like they are currently doing with Senator Judd Gregg as he urges caution:
"We should not legislate based on anecdotal events," Gregg said. "This is a big piece of legislation, we shouldn't overreact."

The reform bill, one of President Barack Obama's top domestic priorities, is awaiting passage by the Senate. Should it pass, the bill would have to be merged with the House's version approved last year, then it would have passed again by both houses before Obama can sign it.

Ah, yes. The Reform Bill. You will NEVER believe what is in it. Essentially, the Congress is abdicating some of its oversight responsibility, and giving it - GIVING it - to the Executive Branch. Oh, you know I am not making this up:

(If the video doesn't come up, click here.) Remember when we were all worried about crap like this happening with Bush?? Obama seems hellbent on amassing as much power as he possibly can, and unfortunately, this Democratic-heavy Congress is all too willing to hand it to him. So much for those pesky little checks and balances our founders thought were important enough to put into our Constitution. You know, the document the Congress, and the President, swore to uphold? Uh huh. That one. Well, the Democrats have decided not to bother with that whole democracy thing. Whatever...

I guess that's some kind of reform - trying to change three branches of government to only two...

Monday, April 19, 2010


As you probably have heard by now, there is a massive volcanic eruption occurring now in Iceland (and on the big island of Hawaii, Montserrat, and probably some other places, too). The plume of ash is extending so high, it is literally grounding planes in Europe:

While the EU may be considering easing the flying ban today, the eruption has caused all kinds of travel problems:
European Air-Travel Crisis Worsens With No End In Sight

LONDON -- An air-travel crisis caused by a spectacular volcanic cloud emanating from Iceland escalated sharply Saturday, with President Obama and other world leaders forced to cancel plans to attend the Polish president's funeral and millions of passengers from Washington to New Delhi left stranded by a bottleneck that could last for weeks.

Across Europe, commercial flight bans were in force in 24 countries, with some closing airports through Monday. But as majestic Eyjafjallajokull volcano continued an eruption that began Wednesday, the reality was dawning that air access to much of the region could be cut off for far longer, with potentially severe consequences for aviation-related industries and businesses dependent on air freight, such as those dealing in perishable goods.

Concerns have also been raised that a long period of closures and delays could affect the pace of European economic recovery when it is lagging behind that of the United States.

On Saturday, no end seemed in sight. Even when the eruption does stop, experts said, the high-altitude plumes of grit, which can cause jet engines to fail, could take at least two days to disperse.

"We're at the mercy of when the volcano dies down," said Graeme Leitch, of Britain's national weather agency. "It's up to the gods how long this goes on for."

Given the global links of international air travel, the problems in Europe were beginning to spread chaos worldwide. As far away as Singapore, the backup of international passengers was so bad that hotels rooms were becoming hard to find in the city-state.

Some airlines were offering little compensation, leaving cash-strapped travelers to turn a number of international airports into impromptu emergency shelters. Across Europe, meanwhile, authorities were weighing cancellations of championship soccer matches and heads of state were altering travel plans.

In addition to Obama, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Un-chan and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper abandoned plans to fly to Poland for the funeral Sunday of late President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, who were killed in an air crash April 10. All airspace in the country remained closed Saturday to flights above the cloud level of 20,000 feet.

In a statement released by the White House hours before his scheduled departure Saturday, Obama said: "Michelle and I continue to have the Polish people in our thoughts and prayers, and will support them in any way I can as they recover from this terrible tragedy. President Kaczynski was a patriot and close friend and ally of the United States, as were those who died alongside him, and the American people will never forget the lives they led."

U.S. troops injured in Iraq and Afghanistan were being flown directly to Andrews Air Force Base for treatment in the United States rather than at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the usual first stop for the wounded. Military planes unable to land in Germany because of the volcanic ash will refuel in midair or in Italy, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

Yes, Obama and the First Lady were unable to attend the Polish president's funeral, along with many other dignitaries. But there are bigger issues here:
Immediate Impact

In Europe, economists were assessing the longer-term impact of the historic flight disruptions, but winners and losers were emerging. Airlines and air-freight companies were the most affected, with the aviation industry facing losses estimated at $200 million a day. British Airways and other airlines said they are not insured against groundings by volcanic clouds.

Rail lines were seeing booming business, however, with many adding trains and operating at standing-room-only capacity. Auto rental agencies in Paris were running out of cars, and some taxi companies were scoring enormous cross-national fares.

"We have just arrived home after a 2,000 euro ($2,700) taxi ride from Courchevel in the French Alps," Michael Gore of Redditch, England, wrote on the BBC blog about the disruptions. "It was a tough decision to outlay the extra cash, which cannot be recovered from insurance, but . . . we are just relieved to be home having a nice cuppa."

Hotels were also cleaning up. Although many are seeing cancellations by guests who never arrived, in most cases those losses have been more than made up for by a captive market of travelers with no place to go.

Dora Paissiou, 36, said the hotel she owns in Vouliagmeni, a seaside resort town near Athens International Airport, has had a "full house" since the ash plume wafted over Europe. She described fielding calls from airlines with stranded passengers: "They call us and say, 'How many rooms do you have tonight?' And if we say 20, they take 20."

A breakdown in air cargo shipments into the largest cities in Europe, including London, Paris and Berlin, left supermarkets warning of looming shortages of fresh produce. The groundings meant fruit from Africa and South America were rotting in crates in their countries of origin.

The scope of the flight restrictions surpassed any seen since World War II. European aviation authorities said Saturday that commercial flights had been grounded across northern and central Europe, including Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, most of France and Germany, Hungary, Ireland, northern Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and Britain. Only 5,000 of the region's 22,000 regularly scheduled commercial flights took off Saturday, with Sunday disruptions potentially worse.

Industry officials said that U.S. carriers have had to shuffle their fleets to replace planes stranded in Europe but that there have been no knock-on cancellations of U.S. domestic flights.

No doubt. I have a friend stranded in the Netherlands right now. He's not complaining TOO much, especially since he had the foresight to purchase travel insurance. But overall, this has been a nightmare. Things may be shifting some now, though:
Faintly Bright Spots

Once the skies clear, passengers trying to rebook -- from the United States in particular -- are likely to face long delays. As airlines have cut costs, they have also reduced capacity over the past two years, meaning there will be few spare seats when flights resume.

"Even if Heathrow opens tomorrow, it's probably going to be days before you get on a flight," said Steven Lott, spokesman for the North America branch of the International Air Transport Authority.

One bright spot appeared in Iceland, where Foreign Ministry officials noted somewhat decreased activity early Saturday at the bellowing volcano. But they said that the eruption pattern had not seemed to change much since Eyjafjallajokull blew Wednesday and that the duration of the eruption was anybody's guess.

Prevailing winds have left Iceland's one major airport, in Reykjavik, open for business. And Icelanders are deriving amusement from foreign broadcasters' mangled attempts at the mouthful that is Eyjafjallajokull (EY-ya-fyat-lah-YOH-kuht). On Friday, Savannah Guthrie, co-host of MSNBC's "Daily Rundown," asked a colleague to pronounce the name and then said: "It's like you took the alphabet, threw it up in the air and let the letters land where they were."

Others, meanwhile, were reveling in the groundings. For residents of the area around Heathrow airport, Europe's busiest, the empty skies offered a rare respite.

"It's been wonderful," said Monica Robb, 80, who on Saturday afternoon was sitting in her back garden under a clear, blue sky, enjoying a lunch of toast and fruit. "I can hear the bees humming." (Staff writer Peter Finn in Washington contributed to this report.)

It's a mixed bag on some levels, but economically, and environmentally, the extent of the impact will not be fully known for some time. Hopefully the planes will be taking to the skies soon, though safety is clearly the highest priority. We will see what the morrow brings with the volcano...

UPDATE - Carol Haka brought to my attention that Obama, since he couldn't fly out to Poland for the funeral, decided to play golf instead. So, while world leaders are gathering to pay their respects to the Polish president, killed in a tragic accident along with many other high ranking officials, our Dear Leader plays a round of golf. I am CERTAIN the Polish people truly buy that Obama is praying for them while he out on the links as they mourn their country's great loss. Sure. What a show of compassion, sympathy, sensitivity, and decorum from The One. Or at least that's how his minions will try and spin this for him. But no spin will take away the reality - that is simply insulting, no matter how you look at it. Good grief.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's Time I Came Out

Okay. Here it is. Something you don't know about me. I'm a Gleek. That's right, a Geek for "Glee." I know, high school dramedy, but it has great characters, and AWESOME song/dance scenes in it. So, for today, I am taking a little break from my usual political focus. A body can't live by politics alone, after all. So, I want to share just a little bit about one of my favorite not-so-guilty pleasures. That would be "Glee."

For instance, there's this character named Kurt (Chris Colfer). He is gay, and came out to his dad after his dad caught him videotaping himself and two cheerleaders doing Beyonce's, "Single Ladies" (and honestly, I think his moves were sharper, but that's just me). In a later episode, Kurt wants to audition for the lead song - except it is usually done by a girl. His dad, a widower and the owner of an auto repair shop, went to bat for his son to be able to compete for the lead. The other diva in the Glee Club is Rachel (Lea Michele), whom everyone assumed would have the lead, and who has aspirations for making it to the Big Time. The Glee Club director agreed, and this was their "Diva-Off":

"Kurt" can hit that high note. He intentionally threw the competition, much to his father's consternation. Why did he do it? Right before the tryouts, his father received yet another crank call about his son, call his son a "faggot." Kurt told him that he saw the look of pain and hurt on his father's face after the call. He told his dad he knew who he was, and was happy with who he was. But he threw the audition because his dad didn't need to have a son singing the female lead in their town on top of it. (If you want to hear the studio version from "Glee" of this gorgeous song, "Defying Gravity" from the musical, "Wicked," click HERE.)

Oh,and that story has a basis in reality:
“When I was in high school, every year we would have a talent show,” explains Colfer. “Every year I would beg the teachers to let me sing “Defying Gravity” from [the musical] Wicked. And every year they turned me down because I’m a boy and it was ‘a girl’s song.’” Sound familiar? If you watched Wednesday’s show, it probably does. After Chris shared his story with Glee creator Ryan Murphy, the tale was incorporated into the story for the episode.

Colfer was able to finally sing that song in his grandmother's church (she's a minister) when he was 15. I could listen to him sing it all day long. Beautiful.

Add to that one of my all time fave actresses, Jane Lynch, as the coach of the Cheerios, the school cheerleaders. You may have seen Lynch in "Best in Show," or "40 Virgins," possibly "The L Word," or "Julie and Julia," to name a very few. Her character is acerbic in her wit, and downright mean sometimes, especially to Will Schuster, the director of the Glee Club, whom she hates (though even the coach has some soft spots). She will do whatever, whenever, however she needs to keep her Cheerios on top. Oh, boy. It makes for some definite hilarity, and aggravation, especially for Mr. Shue.

This upcoming episode is an homage to Madonna and her music. The coach, Sue Sylvester, is using Madonna as a way to get her girls to be empowered. As a result, there is the following video, a remake of the classic Madonna video, "Vogue," with Jane Lynch doing all of the singing (and changing the lyrics here and there):

C'mon, how freakin' awesome WAS that?!?! If you are now hooked like I am, you can catch the show at 9:00 pm (8:00 pm CT) on Tuesday nights. And you can watch full episodes here.

So there's that. Since they are in town this weekend, and it's a beautiful day, we are going to go see a show by the Blue Angels in Charleston:

Their leader, Commander Greg McWherter, is a graduate of the Citadel, where he was also a soccer standout. This is his first time back to Charleston since he graduated 18 years ago (he is a Navy pilot, and has been stationed elsewhere). Our aquarium is letting people come hang out at their place to watch the Blue Angels fly over the Charleston Harbor.

Cool, huh? Awe-inspiring is more like it.

Anyway, I hope you are having a good Sunday, too. Take a break, have some fun, do something you enjoy. Live life.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

At Least We Don't Have To Worry About CANADA Now!

This past week President Obama hosted his big Nuclear Summit, welcoming leaders from all over the world (except for Israel, of course - Obama seems intent on breaking up with our ally int he Middle East). Oh, yes - it was quite the big to-do. Obama was on tv freakin' non-stop, with one teleprompted speech after another.

So, just what was really ACCOMPLISHED in this major meeting? Charles Krauthammer whittles it all down in his article, Obama's Nuclear Strutting And Fretting. Huh - how's THAT for a soundbite? Think Robert Gibbs is going to co-opt that one? Yeah, me neither.

Anyway, here is what this whole big,"Historic!", "Unprecedented!" summit boiled down to:
There was something oddly disproportionate about the just-concluded nuclear summit to which President Obama summoned 46 world leaders, the largest such gathering on American soil since 1945. That meeting was about the founding of the United Nations, which 65 years ago seemed an event of world-historical importance.

But this one? What was this great convocation about? To prevent the spread of nuclear material into the hands of terrorists. A worthy goal, no doubt. Unfortunately, the two greatest such threats were not even on the agenda.

The first is Iran, which is frantically enriching uranium to make a bomb, and which our own State Department identifies as the greatest exporter of terrorism in the world.

Nor on the agenda was Pakistan's plutonium production, which is adding to the world's stockpile of fissile material every day.

Pakistan is a relatively friendly power, but it is the most unstable of all the nuclear states. It is fighting a Taliban insurgency and is home to al-Qaeda. Suicide bombs go off regularly in its major cities. Moreover, its own secret service, the ISI, is of dubious loyalty, some of its elements being sympathetic to the Taliban and thus, by extension, to al-Qaeda.

So what was the major breakthrough announced by Obama at the end of the two-day conference? That Ukraine, Chile, Mexico and Canada will be getting rid of various amounts of enriched uranium.

What a relief. I don't know about you, but I lie awake nights worrying about Canadian uranium. I know these people. I grew up there. You have no idea what they're capable of doing. If Sidney Crosby hadn't scored that goal to win the Olympic gold medal, there's no telling what might have ensued.

Oh, WHEW!!!!! Who cares about Pakistan and Iran's nuclear ambitions as long as we have our Neighbors To The North under control!!! I mean, really - with their hockey sticks and curling stones, there is no TELLING what they might try against us! Way to go, OBAMA!! (Better write down this date - I doubt you'll see something like that again, unless it is the day after the election in 2012, and Obama gets tossed out!)

Canada. O, Canada - thank you for your willingness to forgo your enriched plutonium. What a feather in Obama's cap, this summit was. I mean, it's a start, anyway:
Let us stipulate that sequestering nuclear material is a good thing. But, it is a minor thing, particularly when Iran is off the table and Pakistan is creating new plutonium for every ounce of Canadian uranium shipped to the United States.

Perhaps calculating that removing relatively small amounts of fissile material from stable, friendly countries didn't quite do the trick, Obama proudly announced that the United States and Russia were disposing of 68 tons of plutonium. Unmentioned was the fact that this agreement was reached 10 years ago -- and, under the new protocol, doesn't begin to dispose of the plutonium until 2018. Feeling safer now?

The appropriate venue for such minor loose-nuke agreements is a meeting of experts in Geneva who, after working out the details, get their foreign ministers to sign off. Which made this parade of world leaders in Washington an exercise in misdirection -- distracting attention from the looming threat from Iran, regarding which Obama's 15 months of terminally naive "engagement" has achieved nothing but the loss of 15 months.

Oh. Um. Well, not such a feather after all, it would seem. Oops. Hey, at least he tried, right? That's something, anyway. Maybe not:
Indeed, the Washington summit was part of a larger misdirection play -- Obama's "nuclear spring." Last week: a START treaty, redolent of precisely the kind of Cold War obsolescence Obama routinely decries. The number of warheads in Russia's aging and decaying nuclear stockpile is an irrelevancy now that the existential U.S.-Soviet struggle is over. One major achievement of the treaty, from the point of view of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, is that it could freeze deployment of U.S. missile defenses -- thus constraining the single greatest anti-nuclear breakthrough of our time.

This followed a softening of the U.S. nuclear deterrent posture (sparing non-proliferation compliant states from U.S. nuclear retaliation if they launch a biochemical attack against us) -- a change so bizarre and literally unbelievable that even Hillary Clinton couldn't get straight what retaliatory threat remains on the table.

All this during a week when top U.S. military officials told Congress that Iran is about a year away from acquiring the fissile material to make a nuclear bomb. Then, only a very few years until weaponization.

At which point the world changes irrevocably: The regional Arab states go nuclear, the Non-Proliferation Treaty dies, the threat of nuclear transfer to terror groups grows astronomically.

A timely reminder: Syria has just been discovered transferring lethal Scud missiles to Hezbollah, the Middle East's most powerful non-state terrorist force. This is the same Syria that was secretly building a North Korean-designed nuclear reactor until the Israeli air force destroyed the facility three years ago.

But not to worry. Canadian uranium is secured. A nonbinding summit communique has been issued. And a "work plan" has been agreed to.

Oh, yes. And there will be another summit in two years. The dream lives on. ( )

Dang, this is so irritating. This guy is such an egotist - and that is a huge piece to this puzzle. He wanted to notch his belt with another "accomplishment." Yep, getting Canada to bend to his will was QUITE the coup, eh? Please.

So just what did Obama accomplish at this Big Summit? Changes with China? North Korea? I think this sums it up nicely:

"Whether we like it or not" we're a military Superpower? Say huh, WHAAAAA? "Whether we like it or NOT?" WTH?? Whatever he meant by that, it was poorly, uh, uh, uh, worded, and further serves to undermine regardless of how he meant it. Doesn't he know he cannot stray from TOTUS?? Wow. What an unbelievable statement from the President of the United States.

So what did the Summit accomplish? Not Much. At great expense to us, no doubt, hosting all of these world leaders. And, great expense to them to have to come to this "event." That Obama - he sure does love his get-togethers, doesn't he? I wonder if his BFFs, Jay-z and Beyonce attended the Nuclear Disarmament Summit, too? Hey, I wouldn't be surprised. Surely if they are able to be in the Situation Room, attending this kind of Summit is nothing but a party. Woohoo!

What a wasted opportunity. At least we don't have to lose sleep over Canada...