Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Obama's Administration Employs Forgetful Tax Payer For SEIU Funds

How is it there are so many people in government who forget to pay their taxes? As it is, federal employees owe the US Government over $3 BILLION in unpaid taxes. But how is it that Obama keeps picking people to be in his Administration who "forget" to pay their taxes? I don't get it.

The most famous of these delinquent tax payers (otherwise known as "tax cheats") is now the head of the IRS, Timmy Geithner, who "forgot" to pay a boatload of taxes. I know, I know, the irony is just too rich. But the damn Congress passed him anyway - even knowing he owed $26 thousand dollars in back taxes. Wow. I cannot dwell on this too long, or else my head will explode.

Well, now another member of Obama's Administration has been identified by Rep. Darrell Issa as not paying his taxes and reporting earned income. Presumably, Patrick Gaspard may have continued to "forget" that he received $37,000 in funds from SEIU last year had Issa not made the discovery. And, yes, that SEIU of the purple shirts union which utilizes scare tactics, intimidates people at their homes, and demands the US Government bend to its will, which Obama seems all too willing to do.

Remember, the now-retired director, Andrew Stern, of the SEIU was a frequent visitor to the White House, and may have even violated lobbying rules. I wouldn't look for any investigation into that at any time soon, though. Not with this crowd anyway. Bear in mind the Department of Justice dismissed out of hand a clear case of voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers. So, don't look for them to do anything about Andy hanging out with Barry in the White House.

Anyway, I don't know how one forgets that kind of money, but that's just me. Here are the particulars:
The discrepancy was caught by California Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In a letter to the White House, he told Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina of the unstated income.

"As I am sure you are aware, there are very specific limitations on the outside earned income of presidential appointees," Issa wrote.

The administration downplayed Gaspard's failure to include the income on this and last year's disclosure forms. White House spokesman Bill Burton told Politico that the political director was in the process of correcting the forms to reflect that he did have an agreement for severance.

"We have made the small administrative change to this year's and last year's forms to indicate that part of the final payout to Patrick reflected in their typical severance of one week of pay for each of his nine years of service at Local 1199," Burton said.

So for two years he "forgot" that he had to pay taxes on this income? Seriously - have NONE of these people heard of TurboTax? It is not that hard. And he should have gotten a slip of paper indicating that he received these funds that the IRS woulds have gotten, too.

I'm just curious. How is it that these people in government never have the IRS come after them? They don't sound hard to find, do they? I mean, gee willikers - they are right there in DC. I just don't get it. And this cavalier attitude just irritates me.

Oh, one last quote from this article, which you can finish reading here:
Gaspard is a key player in the Obama White House, which maintains deep ties to labor unions, especially the service-industries' union. He worked for nearly a decade for SEIU 1199 before joining Obama's campaign
In other words, he can't be dismissed as some flunky in the Administration who slipped through the cracks. Huh uh. He is a close aide to the president. And he's a tax cheat along with Tim Geithner. What stand up people Obama hangs with, am I right?

And isn't it a comfort that the SEIU has someone right there in the White House who worked for them for 10 years? That's just perfect.

Hey, here's a thought. Instead of hiring over ten thousand new IRS agents for $1 billion a year to harass business owners to cough up big bucks for Obamacare, maybe they can just enforce the laws as they stand now to make federal employees, including those in the White House, pay their due. Shoot, they probably wouldn't even need a thousand new agents to do that, and they would bring in several billion bucks easy. I realize that getting federal employees and White House aides to pay their taxes like the rest of us do is a stretch, but hey - it would sure help offset the costs of programs like Obamacare, wouldn't it?

Maybe this is just too much of a common sense solution - hire fewer people to enforce current IRS laws for federal employees to reap bigger benefits. But it's worth a shot, right?

One last thought - maybe instead of these people in government only ponying up their fair share when they get caught (Geithner, Rangel, and this Gaspard guy come to mind), maybe they can just do the right thing and obey the LAW. What a concept.

Any other suggestions for people like Gaspard? I'm sure can think of a few...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Skimmers Are AWOL, But UnSkilled Workers Are Plentiful

It is hard to believe that this oil spill in the Gulf is still continuing, over 70 days later. And, it is hard to believe how much this situation has been mismanaged by both BP and the US Government. Sadly, that is the case on both counts.

For instance, BP continues to act stupidly by not utilizing fishers from the Gulf area to assist in cleaning up the area, as this article by Matthew Boyle highlights, Local Fishermen Watch As Clueless Out-Of-Staters Take On Cleanup Duties:
Local out-of-work fishermen around the Gulf of Mexico are fuming at the Unified Command Center and BP after hundreds of people from other parts of the country have showed up for work along the Gulf Coast with their boats.

Bob Zales, president of the National Association of Charterboat Operators, said that those people from out of the area are taking jobs away from the fishermen and others directly affected by the spill. They’re doing it, Zales said, by getting hired onto BP’s subcontractors’ workforces.

Companies BP subcontracted to handle cleanup operations include SWS Eagle, Parsons and PEC Premier.

Zales said things would be better if the workers were experts on the handling these kinds of issues or at least knew the area.

“These so-called professionals they’re bringing in from out of state don’t have a clue how to set up boom,” Zales said. “They’re just here making money. But we’ve got people begging for work.”

Zales said the subcontractors should kick out the workers from other parts of the country and hire the local fishermen who know the area and how to do the work correctly.

“These are companies that are allegedly experts on environmental issues,” Zales said. “But, I can tell you, that from what I’ve seen, they don’t know what they’re doing. If this wasn’t so serious, it would be a good comedy.”

Yes, indeed, they should use the fishers and boat captains from the area who know the area, know how to set up booms, and have a sense of urgency about the work they are doing. Since the effect of this spill is already catastrophic, it seems to me they would want to use people who were knowledgeable about the area, and knew what the hell they were doing.

Oh, and one last tidbit from this article:
In Panama City, Fla., SWS Eagle employed at least 11 illegal immigrants, all of whom were arrested by law enforcement officials in Bay County. The officials expect that many more illegal aliens are working on cleanup sites.

“Thirty people didn’t show up for the next shift,” Ruth Corley, Bay County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, said. “We had received several tips that BP had employed illegal aliens. It turned out it was a subcontractor situation.”

Yes, this would be laughable if it wasn't so serious, on a number of levels. What the hell is the matter with these people?? Sheesh. Click Local Fishermen Watch As Clueless Out-Of-Staters Take On Cleanup Duties">HERE to read the rest of this informative, and disturbing, article.

And then there is the Federal Government's mishandling of the spill. We know they stopped the sand berms from being built in Louisiana, which is bad enough. But there is another factor that is as egregious as they come, and that is the lack of oil skimmers being pressed into service, as this article by Karen Nelson highlights,
No Skimmers In Sight As Oil Floods Into Mississippi Waters:
A morning flight over the Mississippi Sound showed long, wide ribbons of orange-colored oil for as far as the eye could see and acres of both heavy and light sheen moving into the Sound between the barrier islands. What was missing was any sign of skimming operations from Horn Island to Pass Christian.

U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor got off the flight angry.

"It’s criminal what’s going on out there," Taylor said minutes later. "This doesn’t have to happen.”

A scientist onboard, Mike Carron with the Northern Gulf Institute, said with this scenario, there will be oil on the beaches of the mainland.

“There’s oil in the Sound and there was no skimming,” Carron said. “No coordinated effort.”


“They’re paying all these boats to run around like headless chickens,” Taylor said, as reporters gathered to hear his assessment of the Sound.

Great. Sounds like there is poor oversight and coordination of resources available to do the job that is needed to be done to keep the oil from reaching the mainland: [...]
Horn Island was doing its part Saturday, observers pointed out. The wiggly lines of sheen were coming straight at it from the south, headed for the island’s southern beaches. The island had boom in place to protect the inlets and sensitive wetlands along its northern shore, the side that faces the mainland.

Even the Pascagoula River was doing its part.

Carron pointed out the line where the river’s fresh water met the Sound’s salt water near Horn Island. All along the line was the orange oil caught between the two types of water and held at bay.

But where the failure came was in the human effort.

And that is the part that is most critical at this juncture, the human part. Rep. Taylor's frustration was evident: [...]
Taylor slipped a note to a fellow passenger.

It said: “I’m having a Katrina flashback. I haven’t seen this much stupidity, wasted effort, money and wasted resources, since then.”

Back on land in Gulfport, Taylor let loose.

“A lot of people are getting paid to say, ‘Look! There’s oil’ and not doing anything about it,” Taylor said. “There shouldn’t be a drop of oil in the Sound. There are enough boats running around.

“Nobody’s in charge,” Taylor said. “Everybody’s in charge, so no one’s in charge.

“If the president can’t find anyone who can do this job,” he said, “let me do it.”

Give the man the job, then. If he is willing and able to oversee the clean-up in the Gulf, and he clearly has a vested interest in it, give it to him already. Heaven knows he could scarcely do worse than what we are seeing now.

There is more in this article, and you can click here to read it all, but I think the following sums up the entire problem:
Taylor and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., took the morning flight on a National Guard helicopter with representatives of the state DEQ and BP.

After the flight Wicker said he feels it’s not too late for President Barack Obama to accept help from other countries that have offered the services of their large oil-skimming boats.

Wicker blamed bureaucracy and the president, but said, “Mississippi has been a champ from the beginning of this.”

He also said he noticed BP has been slow to accept prevention plans from local governments. [...]

Like I said at the beginning, it is a failure on the part of the two parties who need to get this right, BP and the Government. Now is not the time to be wasting money, bringing in people who haven't a clue what to do, or letting skimmers sit idly by. Now is the time for cohesive, coherent action, by all the parties involved.

There are people who have plans available, like Taylor, to get the job done. There are fishers out of work for the time being due to the spill who could be working to contain and clean up the spill. A little common sense would go a long way here. If the people overseeing this project are failing at it, replace them immediately with those who can. Send the skimmers, use planes to spot for the boats (as the article above suggests), do anything and everything to contain and clean up this spill before it contaminates more beaches.

Time is of the essence, especially with Tropical Storm Alex bearing down. Time is of the essence....

Monday, June 28, 2010

Obama's "Uncle" Wright Still Preaching The "Good News"

In the not-too-distant past, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright played an instrumental role in the spiritual life of Barack Obama. Yes, Obama sat in Wright's church, TUCC, for over 20 years. They were close, with Obama going to Wright for spiritual guidance often. Obama even referred to Rev. Wright as an "uncle," and claimed that his church was not a "particularly controversial one."

Huh. More evidence that Obama is not really clear on the definition of "controversial." In case you need a reminder of the kind of message preached by Rev. Wright, here are some "highlights":

What a moving message of love and peace from the reverend, don't you think? Naturally, once his comments came to light, Obama did what he does so well - throw people under the bus. Yep, he quickly disowned his "uncle." But, don't you worry - Wright still loves him his Barry no matter how much distance Barry puts between them. Ain't love grand?

One might have thought that after Obama dissed Wright, and distanced himself from his church of 20+ years, maybe Wright would have faded into the past. If that's what one thought, one would be wrong. Oh, no, he is still out there, as this piece by Maureen Callahan indicates, Obama's Race-Rant Rev. Rages On:
[...] During a five-day seminar Wright taught last week in Chicago, he was back at it, claiming that whites and Jews are controlling the flow of worldwide information and oppressing blacks in Israel and America.

"White folk done took this country," Wright said. "You're in their home, and they're gonna let you know it."

The course, advertised as focusing on politics and public policy in South Africa and America, was taught in a small, ground-floor room at the Chicago Theological Seminary, where Wright's voice echoed out an open window. The class was composed of about 15 to 20 students, mainly older African-American women who would arrive early and giddily linger during lunch breaks and after class, looking for the reverend's attention. (The course cost a little over $1,000 if taken for college credit and $300 if taken without.)

Holy moley. That's a pretty good chunk of change to be lectured with hate speech, isn't it? Wow - who knew? Ahem. But this is just the beginning of Wright's vitriol:
[...]"Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect," Obama said.

Yet during this course -- which was described as asking, "What is the response and public witness of persons of faith to ongoing developments in both countries?" -- Wright made many statements about what he believes are the true aims of whites and Jews.

"You are not now, nor have you ever been, nor will you ever be a brother to white folk," he said. "And if you do not realize that, you are in serious trouble."

He cited the writings of Bill Jones -- author of the book "Is God a White Racist?" -- as proof that white people cannot be trusted. "Bill said, 'They just killed four of their own at Kent State. They'll step on you like a cockroach and keep on movin', cause you not a brother to them.' "

What the hell?? Where does Wright come off with this kind of incendiary speech? And WHY is he preaching this hate-filled rhetoric? What is he trying to accomplish with this?

One last little gem from the, er, "good" reverend:
[...]The civil-rights movement, Wright said, was never about racial equality: "It was always about becoming white . . . to master what [they] do." Martin Luther King, he said, was misguided for advocating nonviolence among his people, "born in the oven of America."

"We probably have more African-Americans who've been brainwashed than we have South Africans who've been brainwashed," he said, and seemed to allude to President Obama twice: "Unfortunately, I got in trouble with a fella for saying this . . . All your commentaries are written by oppressors." At the mention of Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan -- whom Obama disavowed during the campaign -- black leaders "go cuttin' and duckin'," he said. [...]

Well, Wright may have retired from TUCC - to his million dollar home, built by TUCC, in a predominantly white neighborhood, mind you - but it hasn't stopped him from spreading his hate-mongering, racist tirades.

And our current president sat there for over twenty years listening to that rhetoric. Perhaps that explains Obama's selection of an Attorney General who, after a biracial man was elected president, declared Americans "cowards" when it comes to discussions on race. Or maybe that explains why the Department of Justice
dropped the charges against the New Black Panthers who intimidated voters in Philadelphia without bothering to read the memoranda on the case first. Never mind that the attorney handling the case, J. Christian Adams, said it was as clear a case of voter intimidation as well as a violation of federal law as he had seen in his Department of Justice career, one he resigned over this case. And it sure explains Obama's response to Israel and her prime minister.

Yep - I would say this explains a lot. Wouldn't you?

**Condolences to the family and friends of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, the longest serving Congressperson, who passed away this morning at the age of 92. Sen. Byrd was a man I had admired, until the summer of 2008. Still, prior to that time, he did a lot of good for the country.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Taking A Day Off

Yes, I am taking a day of rest to spend time with my grandnephew before I give him back to his parents today after having him for the week. Sure will miss the little guy. The house will sure be a lot quieter, too!

And I am in my hometown to help get some things cleared out of my mom's house after her passing. Still so much to do there, it is amazing.

I hope you have a good day, get to do something fun, get some rest, whatever it is you need.

See you tomorrow.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Is Obama TRYING To Piss People Off?

Either way, he is succeeding. One of Obama's latest decisions is a doozy - a man critical of enforcing immigration laws to be the one overseeing this very issue between federal and local authorities. Okay, I don't know how else one can see this besides Obama thumbing his nose completely at our current immigration law. Oh, and his choice is also a big "sanctuary city" proponent. It's all here:
The Obama administration has tapped an outspoken critic of immigration enforcement on the local level to oversee and promote partnerships between federal and local officials on the issue.

The Obama administration has tapped an outspoken critic of immigration enforcement on the local level to oversee and promote partnerships between federal and local officials on the issue.

Harold Hurtt, a former police chief in Houston and Phoenix, has been hired as the director for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Office of State and Local Coordination. Starting July 6, Hurtt will supervise outreach and communication between ICE, local law enforcement agencies, tribal leaders and representatives from non-governmental organizations.

"Chief Hurtt is a respected member of the law enforcement community and understands the concerns of local law enforcement leaders," said John Morton, the Homeland Security assistant secretary for ICE. "His experience and skills will be an invaluable asset to the ICEs outreach and coordination efforts."

But as a police chief, Hurtt was a supporter of "sanctuary city" policies, by which illegal immigrants who don't commit crimes can live without fear of exposure or detainment because police don't check for immigration papers.

He also, during his tenure as Houston police chief, criticized ICE's key program that draws on local law enforcement's support.

"There's no way you can head up an office if you don't believe in what the office is supposed to do," Curtis Collier of U.S. Border Watch, told the Houston Chronicle. "Immigration and Customs Enforcement's primary mission is to protect the American people. If this guy believes any of these programs should not be enforced, he's certainly going to be a very weak advocate for them."

Ya think? Good grief - it is as much of an "in-your-face" to people and states who want our immigration policies upheld as it could possibly be, if you ask me. But Hurtt has his supporters:
Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for ICE, told that Hurtt has always been a proponent of the jail model of the 287(g) program, which gives local police authority to initiate deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants linked to serious crimes -- but as a police chief, he didn't favor more proactive local enforcement because he didn't believe it was the best utilization of his resources.

"I think the critics are only talking about half of what he said," she said. "He's always been a strong proponent of every law enforcement agency making those decision on their own."

Critics say his pro-immigration policies enabled illegal immigrants to kill two police officers and seriously injure another in Phoenix before he left in 2005 and to kill an officer in Houston before he retired in 2009.

The widow of one of the officers, Rodney Johnson, who was fatally shot by an illegal immigrant with a long criminal record, is suing Hurtt for enacting policies that she says led to his death.

But Nantel dismissed such allegations.

"The responsibility of those homicides lies on the shoulder of the individuals who committed the crimes," Nantel said.

Hurtt's position at ICE reportedly pays $180,000 a year.

Ah, yes - his critics are just being SO unfair to him. Right.

And while I am at it, my good friend, Logistics Monster, had the following video of Gov. Brewer speaking out to Obama. And does the Governor have some things to say:

Short and to the point, isn't Gov. Brewer? Not to mention that she's right. But clearly, Obama shows his hand with the choice of Hurtt in terms of "Immigration Reform," not to mention his intent to uphold current law. So far, his loyalty seems to be with those who break immigration law. Interesting take for an American president, isn't it? Ahem.

I am sure this has NOTHING to do with the upcoming election, right? Yeah, right...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Feds Stop Sand Berms In LA

Yes, you read that right. The Department of the Interior under Ken Salazar has stopped the creation of sand berms to protect Louisiana. Honestly, is the complete and utter absurdity of how Obama is handling this grave, devastating issue ever going to stop?

Sure doesn't seem like it, according to this article, "Federal Gov't Halts Sand Berm Dredging; Nungesser Pleads With President To Allow Work To Continue." It pains me to even consider the implications of this decision. What is wrong with these people? Here is the rationale:
The federal government has shut down the dredging that was being done to create protective sand berms in the Gulf of Mexico.

The berms are meant to protect the Louisiana coastline from oil. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department has concerns about where the dredging is being done. The department says one area where sand is being dredged is a sensitive section of the Chandeleur Islands, and the state failed to meet an extended deadline to install pipe that would draw sand from a less-endangered area.

And there is the justification, but is it a valid one? That is addressed more fully below, but suffice it to say, this is not the whole picture. I know, what a surprise. Still, how can this work be stopped at this critical juncture? I'm not the only one who wants to know:
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who was one of the most vocal advocates of the dredging plan, has sent a letter to President Barack Obama, pleading for the work to continue.

Nungesser said the government has asked crews to move the dredging site two more miles farther off the coastline.

"Once again, our government resource agencies, which are intended to protect us, are now leaving us vulnerable to the destruction of our coastline and marshes by the impending oil," Nungesser wrote to Obama. "Furthermore, with the threat of hurricanes or tropical storms, we are being put at an increased risk for devastation to our area from the intrusion of oil.

Nungesser has asked for the dredging to continue for the next seven days, the amount of time it would take to move the dredging operations two miles and out resume work. Gov. Bobby Jindal on Wednesday also joined Nungesser in asking for an extension.

Work halted at midnight Wednesday.

The California dredge located off the Chandelier Islands has pumped more than 50,000 cubic yards of material daily to create a sand berm, according to Plaquemines Parish officials.

Nungesser's letter includes an emotional plea to the president.

"Please don't let them shut this dredge down," he wrote. "This requires your immediate attention!"

Can you just feel the immense frustration of the people in this area trying desperately to keep this oil from getting to sensitive areas, and having their own government impede their efforts time and time again? It is palpable - and I don't blame them one damn bit:

And here is what Gov. Bobby Jindal had to say about this decision:
[snip]“We got word yesterday that federal officials were going to shut down our dredging operations on the North Chandeleur Islands and those operations were indeed stopped under the federal government’s command at 6PM last night.

“Our request here today is simple,” said the governor. “We are again calling on the federal government to allow us to continue these dredging operations as we mobilize pipe for another two miles – which will take around just seven more days. Getting this pipe in place without stopping the dredging operations will allow us a seamless transition as we move the dredge to a new borrow site. After this pipe is in place, our dredger can disconnect and move to the next site where it can then resume dredging operations in just one day.

“We have told Col. Lee of the Army Corps of Engineers and every federal agency that we are in an emergency situation here. This is a disaster for our state. Days count. Hours count. We cannot wait for more conference calls and meetings for discussions. We need to adapt to the situation on the ground and continue our dredging operations for as long as possible until we can move to the next borrow site and continue to create sand boom.”

Over 5,000 feet of sand berm has been created in the Chandeleurs, in addition to 2.5 miles at East Grand Terre. Jindal has previously noted that sand berm can be highly effective in trapping oil, thus keeping it from coming inland into Louisiana’s estuaries and marshes.

“We have jumped through every hoop that the federal government has placed in front of us since this spill started,” he seethed. “On May 2, we submitted our initial boom plan to the Incident Command Post since there was not a plan. When BP and the Coast Guard were unable to provide the appropriate boom resources, we began developing innovative solutions like Tiger Dams, air-dropping sand bags, Hesco baskets, opening all freshwater diversions, vacuum barges and many other alternatives.

“On May 11th, we submitted a proposal to the regulatory agencies, BP and the Coast Guard to approve our sand berms. It took almost a month for the federal government to approve the plan and make BP pay for the work. Meanwhile, we had millions of gallons of oil covering our wetlands, killing our wildlife and forcing our people out of work.”

I don't think anyone can blame Jindal for his level of frustration. I'm frustrated by the stupidity with which this has been handled by the government, especially the ridiculous delay in granting emergency permits in the first place. I can only imagine what Jindal, and the other officials in LA, MS, AL, and FL are feeling. But Jindal wasn't done:
Jindal then took aim at the U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, which controls the Chandeleurs as a wildlife refuge. He showed a map of the erosion of the chain from 2001 to 2005 and delved into a short history of the disappearing islands.

“People used to live on these islands,” he noted. “It was a fishing community and even had some farming. From the mid-90’s until recently, the islands lost up to 300 feet per year under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service management.

“Now, this same agency has concerns that we are not being sensitive to the islands by wanting to continue to dredge for seven more days to ensure a smooth transition?

“They have not invested a penny in this area and are allowing it to erode at extraordinary rates. Meanwhile, they invest millions in other refuges in other parts of the country.

“Louisiana’s coast is one our most important resources. That is why we are fighting so hard to protect our wetlands, protect our fisheries and birds and to protect our way of life from this oil spill – with these sand booms. {snip}

“We have said from the beginning that we would backfill any dredging that would adversely affect these islands. That commitment still stands. Shutting down dredging operations while oil continues to hit our shores and the oil continues to flow into the Gulf is absolutely absurd. We need to act now.

“The area where the state was dredging remains within the area permitted by the federal government. When the dredging contractor began operations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service voiced objections to the location of the dredge. In an effort to prevent delay to the project, we worked out an agreement that would provide for backfilling the dredge site and the movement of the dredge vessel to a new location. The state remains committed to moving the dredge to another location within the permitted area and backfilling the first dredge site.”

Kinda makes you wonder just what in the sam hill the problem is, doesn't it? What is Obama really trying to gain from this? No doubt, there is something afoot:
The Governor then launched into a long riff on the Obamoratorium and the federal government’s attempts to stand it back up after U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman dismantled it with a preliminary injunction yesterday.

The federal judge’s ruling yesterday to grant an immediate injunction on President Obama’s deepwater drilling moratorium was welcome news. We absolutely agree with the judge’s conclusion that the Administration’s six-month, or longer, shut down of deepwater drilling was ‘arbitrary and capricious.’

“Not only does the moratorium threaten thousands of direct jobs in our state, it also jeopardizes many other industries that supply our oil and gas industry and the entire communities that depend on them. It is also deeply concerning that the President’s moratorium was enacted against the judgment of the Department of the Interior’s own expert advisors and scientists.

“The Administration now says that they will immediately appeal the ruling. They just don’t seem to understand that you can’t just turn a switch on and off with these rigs. When they leave our coast to produce oil in other parts of the country or the world, the jobs that support them go too. We absolutely do not want another spill or one more drop of oil on our coast or in our water, but thousands of Louisianians should not have to lose their jobs because the federal government can’t adequately do their job of ensuring drilling is done safely.

“The federal government has an entire agency dedicated to monitoring safe drilling. It shouldn’t take them six-months or longer to ensure safety measures are in place and their laws and regulations are being followed. Instead of an arbitrary moratorium, the Administration should listen to their own experts and enact the specific recommended steps from their own experts to ensure proper oversight and safe drilling.

“As Judge Feldman stated in his preliminary injunction ruling yesterday, ‘…the Secretary’s determination that a six-month moratorium on issuance of new permits and on drilling by the thirty-three rigs is necessary does not seem to be fact-specific and refuses to take into measure the safety records of those others in the Gulf. There is no evidence presented indicating that the Secretary balanced the concern for environmental safety with the policy of making leases available for development. There is no suggestion that the Secretary considered any alternatives: for example, an individualized suspension of activities on target rigs until they reached compliance with the new federal regulations said to be recommended for immediate implementation.’”

The Governor added, “The Commission that was supposed to study the moratorium for the President for six months now says they won’t have their first meeting until mid-July and they won’t finish their report until next year.

“I want to be very clear on this point. Each month that the work of the Commission is delayed means another month that thousands of Louisiana people won’t be able to work. Each month that the work of the Commission is delayed, we expect additional energy companies to move existing deepwater rigs to other parts of the world and/or to plan new deepwater drilling capacity for other parts of the world in lieu of the Gulf – further extending and expanding job losses in Louisiana. Each month that the work of the Commission is delayed will result in the loss of approximately $65 to 135 million in Louisiana wages. [snip]

“Moreover, the $100 million set aside by BP to offset the wage losses of deepwater rig workers will cover only a few weeks of lost wages for those workers – and these funds will do nothing to offset the hundreds of millions in wage losses for workers in support industries that count on deepwater drilling activity for their livelihood. Today, BP told us for the first time that they will not pay for moratorium-related losses above the $100 million.”

I don't recall ever seeing the Federal Government working so hard against its own citizens, or the land it is obligated to protect, as I have with this administration. Have you? The list of actions this Administration has taken since January, 2009, against its own citizens is staggering (feel free to list some, in addition to this debacle, suing one of the fifty states for trying to protect itself, and on and on). We knew it was going to be bad with Obama, but I don't think any of us expected it to be THIS bad, did we? And the hits keep coming...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nikki Haley Wins SC, One Of Many Women Running For Governor This Year

Well, the special elections have been held, the ballots counted, and Nikki Haley beat out her RNC competitor, Barrett Gresham, by a lot. She will now run to be the first female governor of South Carolina. Chances are good she will succeed, too. She is one of many, as this article highlights, Women Pounding on Governor Mansions' Glass Ceilings; Numerous Female Candidates Seek . About time, if you ask me (and no, let me just say, it is important to vote for the most QUALIFIED candidate, not just the gender or race, though women are woefully underrepresented in politics considering we are more than half of the population, so a little parity wouldn't hurt, either. Just to be clear.):
As she begins her general election race for South Carolina's top statehouse job, Republican Nikki Haley is part of a group of candidates this year who are simultaneously pursuing another goal: to be their state's first female governor.

Women are running to break the political glass ceiling in eight states that have never had a female governor, including California, New Mexico and Minnesota. Currently, six women three Democrats and three Republicans serve as governors.

In South Carolina, Haley beat four-term Rep. J. Gresham Barrett in a runoff election for the GOP nomination Tuesday. Haley will face Democratic state lawmaker Vincent Sheheen in November in the race to succeed Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, who is term-limited.

"South Carolina just showed the rest of the country what we're made of," Haley said after her victory. "It's a new day in our state, and I am very blessed to be a part of it."

The prevalence of female candidates for statewide office has been a defining narrative of the 2010 election season, particularly for Republicans. There are 13 GOP and 10 Democratic women running for Senate, according to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers.

"Part of it is timing and history," said Meg Whitman, a Republican who is running to be California's first female governor. "You've got a generation of women coming of age (who) are now engaging in the political process."

Yes, like with so many things, it is all about timing, especially for so many women to be running at the same time:
Thirty-one women have served as governor in 23 states, according to CAWP. If at least three of them win in the November elections, a majority of states would either have a woman in the governor's mansion or have had one in the past.

Debbie Walsh, the center's director, cautioned against putting too much stock in such benchmarks, though. New female governors may be elected this year, but three are retiring or face term limits, including Jodi Rell, R-Conn.; Linda Lingle, R-Hawaii; and Jennifer Granholm, D-Mich.

The percentage of women holding statewide executive offices has declined from 28.5% in 2000 to 22.9% in 2009, according to the center's statistics.

Conservative Women Have Success

"Having so few at any one time is part of the challenge," Walsh said, noting that statewide elected positions can serve as launching pads for presidential campaigns. Case in point: Hillary Rodham Clinton ran for president in 2008 as a Democratic senator from New York.

What's significant about 2010, Walsh said, is that "we are seeing more Republican women stepping up and taking the risk." In the past, she said, female GOP candidates have been more moderate than their male counterparts. This year, a fresh brand of female conservatives is having more success in primaries.

Several of those candidates, including Haley, have been endorsed by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

"Most of these women are not just Republicans, they are conservative Republicans," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which supports female politicians who oppose abortion rights. "This is the moment to seize because the environment is right," she said.

Plenty of Democratic women also are taking a stab at being their state's first female governor, including Florida's chief financial officer, Alex Sink, and state lawmaker Elizabeth "Libby" Mitchell, who is running in Maine.

Diane Denish, who was elected New Mexico's first female lieutenant governor in 2002, is now seeking the state's top job. She said the number of women running nationwide "sends a great message to women and girls that anything is possible."

Because her Republican opponent, Susana Martinez, is also a woman, the state is guaranteed to make history. In a statement, Martinez said she appreciates the "historic significance of this election, as well as the elections taking place in other states."

That's pretty cool, actually - no matter who wins, it will be historic. Huh - where have I heard that before? I know, before people started acting like only an Obama win would be historic. Ahem. Yes, history will be made with wins by a number of these women, but that's not all there is to it:
Many of the female candidates, including Whitman and Martinez, have downplayed the gender issue in their own campaigns arguing that it doesn't matter whether a man or woman is victorious, as long as whoever takes the job gets results.

"That, to me, doesn't matter as much," said Sarah Franks, a 34-year-old teacher who voted for Haley, but not because she's a woman. "I mean I think it's neat, but that doesn't matter as much as just getting some new blood in the system."

True that. New blood cannot hurt considering where we are now. Still, I admit I am happy that women are rising to this level, and so many qualified women at that. But of course, we cannot deny that sexism is alive and well in this country as we all well know from the debacle of 2008. And I think most of us can agree that women still have to work harder than men to get to the same levels, and even then, as we know from the Obama v. Clinton debacle, that far more qualified and experienced women still do not beat out the younger, less-qualified men. So, yes, I am glad to see that so many qualified women are running, and in some cases, will definitely be making history. That's just cool.

As noted above, many of the women running are politically and socially conservative. But, that does not necessarily mean they are not feminists, as I have said for some time, and as Kathleen Parker points out in this piece, True (or false) Feminism:
Proving one's feminist bona fides has become the latest challenge for women aspiring to public office.

Is she a "real" feminist who walks in lockstep with traditional feminist orthodoxy? Or is she a faux feminist, i.e., a woman who has benefited from traditional feminism, become all that she could be, but, alas, thinks independently on certain sacred tenets of the sisterhood?

The latest debate emerged recently when pundits on both sides of the widening chasm weighed in on the number of pro-life (and pro-life-ish) Republican women running for public office. The back-and-forth seems to have begun when feminist Jessica Valenti criticized Sarah Palin in The Washington Post for declaring herself a feminist.

The implication: A pro-life woman can't really be a feminist.

Soon thereafter, Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review senior editor and author of "The Party of Death," declared in The New York Times that 2010 is the year of the pro-life woman, listing all those on today's ballot who happen to be pro-life.

Among them: Sharron Angle in Nevada, who will oppose Harry Reid for the U.S. Senate; South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley; former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who won the Republican nomination in California for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Barbara Boxer; Susana Martinez, who became her party's nominee for governor of New Mexico.

Seeing so many accomplished women reach the top of the political heap, not to mention their professions in some cases, should be cause for feminist celebration -- except for that one thing. Thus, left-leaning feminists in the blogosphere have responded breathlessly, which I mention only to suggest passion rather than to imply debutante tendencies, though who can be sure?

Frankly, the absolute vitriol heaped on conservative women by so-called liberal women was startling (including the vitriol directed at Hillary Clinton, for that matter). As I have noted previously, when I was marching for Equal Rights For Women, I thought it meant ALL women, not just women who held the same liberal beliefs I did. I thought it was for all women to be self-actualized, not just ones like me. Parker continues:
This all would be tedious if it weren't so entertaining. In fact, this is the crux of the crux in the arena of so-called women's issues. Can one be a pro-life feminist, or is the question an oxymoron?

As a matter of orthodoxy, yes, but as a matter of reality, not really.

We've come a long way, baby, and there's more than one type of woman roaming the vales and plains. But then, it was always so. There just weren't many varieties of women in the public sphere, as Ponnuru points out.

Earlier feminists were almost universally pro-choice and have dominated political debate until now. Having access to abortion was viewed as the only way women could have full equality with men, who, until recently, couldn't get pregnant.

OK, they still can't, but we've now witnessed a bearded transgendering woman having babies -- and fake wombs are inevitable -- so anything's possible, apparently. Good luck with all that.

Back to the point, we now see women who have managed to gain equality with men while also raising children, none more explicitly than Sarah Palin. At the risk of terminal heresy, I would suggest that behind almost every successful mother/politician/CEO is … a very good man.

Palin's full house and career haven't happened without the manly support of one Todd Palin. Real men don't hold their wives back.

The reason Palin so upsets the pro-choice brigade is because she seems so content with her lot and her brood. One can find other reasons to think Palin shouldn't be president, but being a pro-life woman shouldn't be one of them.

Though this is ancient history for me and my generation, some of whom are now welcoming grandchildren into the world, some of the lessons we've learned bear repeating. Chief among them is that many women who have had babies find it harder, if not impossible, to see abortion as nothing more than a "choice" to eliminate an inconvenience.

I fall into this camp, though I've never been able to support reversing Roe v. Wade, which makes me unpopular with nearly everyone. Apart from legal arguments as to whether the Supreme Court ruling was constitutionally appropriate, I'm libertarian-leaning enough to insist that government should have no role in determining what anyone does with his or her body -- as long as no one else is hurt.

Save your "ah-ha's!" until the end, please. Obviously, the forming human life is destroyed, and thus I also can make a human-rights argument against abortion. I think we should.

That other women, such as Palin, want to reframe the abortion debate in new feminist terms, arguing that abortion hurts women and is, therefore, anti-woman, doesn't bother me a bit. And it shouldn't bother older-school feminists.

Equality, after all, means that every woman has a voice.

And that is the bottom line, is it not? For ALL women to have a voice. And this year, it may very well mean having more women's voices in positions of power. That, to me, is exciting. How about you?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Now Mexico Is Suing Arizona?

Okay, I am just shaking my head in disbelief at this, but it is, in fact, true. Yes, now Mexico is suing Arizona for having the audacity to try and protect its borders from illegal aliens. Oh, that's not how they phrase it - they just don't want their citizens to be asked for any identification when they cross the border into the United State, like every other country in the world, INCLUDING MEXICO, does when someone tries to enter the country. And yes, that is a bit of snark. Sorry, but this is just freaking lunacy.

Bear in mind, as you read this AP article, that Mexico has far, far more Draconian laws than the US would ever even dream of having, yet they are trying to tell one of OUR states how to protect its border from. Suffice it to say, if you are caught being in Mexico illegally, you are in for a world of hurt. And that is what makes this so rich:
Mexico Asks Court To Reject Ariz. Immigration Law

Mexico on Tuesday asked a federal court in Arizona to declare the state’s new immigration law unconstitutional, arguing that the country’s own interests and its citizens’ rights are at stake.

Lawyers for Mexico on Tuesday submitted a legal brief in support of one of five lawsuits challenging the law. The law will take effect July 29 unless implementation is blocked by a court.

The law generally requires police investigating another incident or crime to ask people about their immigration status if there’s a “reasonable suspicion” they’re in the country illegally. It also makes being in Arizona illegally a misdemeanor, and it prohibits seeking day-labor work along the state’s streets.

Citing “grave concerns,” Mexico said its interest in having predictable, consistent relations with the United States shouldn’t be frustrated by one U.S. state.

Mexico also said it has a legitimate interest in defending its citizens’ rights and that the law would lead to racial profiling, hinder trade and tourism, and strain the countries’ work on combatting drug trafficking and related violence.

“Mexican citizens will be afraid to visit Arizona for work or pleasure out of concern that they will be subject to unlawful police scrutiny and detention,” the brief said.

It will be to a U.S. District Court judge to decide whether to accept the brief along with similar ones submitted by various U.S. organizations.

Hold the phone. Mexican citizens "will be afraid to visit Arizona for work or pleasure" because they might be asked for their ID if they commit another crime for which they are stopped? If they are in the country legally, and have a legal right to be working in the United States, why would they be afraid?? Good grief. How is it possible people can get this far in life with logic like this (if it can be called "logic," that is).

Hopefully, the US District Court will not allow another nation to interfere into a US state law. Oh, and it would have been nice if someone had mentioned this to the governor:
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the law on April 23 and changes to it on April 30, has lawyers defending it in court.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, Brewer said she was “very disappointed” to learn of Mexico’s filing and reiterated that “Arizona’s immigration enforcement laws are both reasonable and constitutional.”

“I believe that Arizona will ultimately prevail and that our laws will be found constitutional,” Brewer added.

Brewer and other supporters of the bill say the law is intended to pressure illegal immigrants to leave the United States. They contend it is a needed response to federal inaction over what they say is a porous border and social problems caused by illegal immigration. They also argue that it has protections against racial profiling.

Mexican officials previously had voiced opposition to the Arizona law, with President Felipe Calderon saying June 8 that the law “opens a Pandora’s box of the worst abuses in the history of humanity” by promoting racial profiling and potentially leading to an authoritarian society.

Calderon voiced similar criticism of the law during a May visit to Washington.

U.S. officials have said the Obama administration has serious concerns about the law and may challenge it in court. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton recently went further by saying a lawsuit is planned.

Okay, maybe it's because I'm getting over being sick, or having an almost 6 year old here for the week and I am, well, let's say, not young, or both. But my response to this is, "Bite me" to Mexico. The law in Arizona does not violate human rights, does not violate Federal law, since that law requires ALL persons from other countries here legally to carry papers stating as much for 70 years now, and only comes into play when a violation of one sort or another has been committed (not, as Obama stupidly claimed, when a family merely goes out for ice cream).

And honestly, if they are going to go after Arizona, they should go after California, too, since they have some mighty strict laws about immigration themselves. Just saying.

Or, maybe they should treat their citizens better so they aren't trying to get into the United States illegally (again, almost 60% of illegal immigrants in the US are from Mexico, so I am not picking on them, but stating a fact. And ya don't hear the Canadian government threatening to sue, do ya? Nope.). Maybe they should work to make their border less porous, too, instead of making the US do the lion's share to keep their citizens out. Maybe they should just shut the hell up already since they are not bearing the tremendous cost to land, life, and finances that the US is bearing (you won't even believe what the US Dept. of the Interior is charging the U.S. Border Patrol - you read that right - for "environmental costs" to the border. I am not making this up. Try $50 million dollars. Yup.). Instead of going after one of our states, focusing on the speck in the eye of another, Mexico should focus on the plank in its own eye, to use a biblical metaphor.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

For What THe Hell Is Obama WAITING???

Okay, not to harp on this subject or anything, but the Gulf Oil Spill continues to be horribly mismanaged by Obama. I don't care how much he and the White House try to deflect attention away from Obama's own shortcomings, whether by blaming BP CEO Heyward, or harping on Heyward taking an afternoon sail with his son while Obama hits the links - again (after just having been to a ballgame two days before). There is NO DOUBT Obama is not doing everything at his disposal to help get the Gulf cleaned up from this spill. Frankly, I do not understand it.

And I am not the only one, though. Senator LeMieux of Florida has this to say about Obama's not using all resources at his disposal (h/t to Bronwyn's Harbor for the video):

Why in the hell is Obama not using these skimmers?? Why were they not pressed into duty immediately following the oil spill? What the hell is wrong with him, claiming he was going to let them sit idle, just in case they were needed somewhere. They ARE needed somewhere - the GULF!!!!!

And still - just about 10 weeks into this disaster, Obama has STILL not lifted the Jones Act to allow more ships in from other countries to help. Senators from the Gulf Coast area are tired of waiting for Obama to actually do his job, and are introducing a bill to allow foreign ships to come in and help with this devastating spill:
Three Republican senators from states on the Gulf of Mexico have introduced a bill they say will make it easier for the United States to accept foreign ships to help the BP oil spill clean-up effort.

Florida Senator George LeMieux, along with Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn of Texas have drafted a bill that would temporarily suspend the Jones Act in the Gulf region, which they say is keeping foreign ships from offering aid. The 90-year-old law, which already includes a provision that allows waivers for foreign ships on a case-by-case basis, mandates that vessels may only partake in coastwise transport between U.S. ports if they are “constructed in the United States, owned by United States citizens and crewed by United States citizens and/or permanent residents.” The bill’s sponsors say that given the emergency situation, the provisions currently in place do not go far enough.

“With still only 20 skimmers off the coast of Florida, we need to expedite additional assistance,” LeMieux said. “Any vessels ready to help should be allowed into the Gulf.”

No freakin' kidding - and they should have been allowed in IMMEDIATELY following this spill. Here we are 2 1/2 months into this mess, and STILL, Obama is dragging his feet. Not so with his predecessor:
Former President Bush temporarily suspended the law in the wake of hurricane disasters in 2005. According to Keith Hennessy, who served as Bush’s deputy at the White House National Economic Council at the time, the waiver’s actual impact was “small and diffuse … [but] every little bit helped.” The senators say they are taking action because President Obama has not issued an executive order to waive the protectionist law.

“The administration has failed to issue a waiver on the Jones Act, which is blockading foreign vessels from working with their American counterparts to remove the oil from the waters of the Gulf,” said Hutchison. “The federal response to this spill has been unacceptable, and we cannot wait around until the disaster gets worse.”

Despite reports that some foreign aid has been turned away
, a June 15 letter from U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen to Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson explained that all international offers that meet a “validated operational need” have been accepted, including skimmers from Mexico. Nelson’s office concluded that there is no need for any legislation for a blanket waiver.

“In no case has the [Federal On Scene Coordinator] or [Unified Area Command] declined to request assistance or accept offers of assistance of foreign vessels that meet an operational need because the Jones Act was implicated,” Allen wrote. “To date, no Jones Act waivers have been necessary because foreign flagged vessels involved in the BP Deepwater Horizon response have not been engaged in activities that would require such a waiver.”

Well, gosh - how to explain the ships that have been turned away? It would seem a waiver was in order:
Supporters of a blanket waiver say the current process involves more red tape than necessary.

“This bill will provide for a streamlined waiver process for any foreign vessel willing and able to help mitigate the impacts of the spill,” said LeMieux. “We can no longer wait for the Administration to work through its bureaucracy.”

A spokesman for the maritime industry said that the so-called barriers to getting foreign ships into the Gulf are much lower than reported.

“The waiver itself is not cumbersome at all,” said Mark Ruge of the Maritime Cabotage Task Force, adding that ships that operate beyond three miles of shore do not even need a Jones Act waiver.

Still, Hutchison said in a radio interview Monday that there was no reason why the U.S. should not be as open as possible to foreign aid.

“It’s just nonsense to not have every hand on deck,” she said.

I agree - it is nonsense. There is simply no excuse - NONE - for not doing everything humanly possible to get this spill cleaned up. All Obama is doing, especially with his cavalier attitude ("Fore!) is to highlight his incompetence.

Might be spills elsewhere while the Gulf is swimming in oil? Oh, brother. For what the hell is he waiting already??

Monday, June 21, 2010

Obama Playing Politics With Borders, Gulf Spill, and KSM

Recently, Sec. Hillary Clinton made news by telling an Ecuadorean reporter that, sure enough, Obama plans to sue Arizona over its new law. Huh. That was news to Gov. Brewer. Nice way for her to find out for sure.

But it begs the question, why. Why is Obama suing Arizona over its new law for real, not just the mealy mouthed circular logic BS Obama has been spewing? Well, Senator Kyl tells his constituents why, following a one-on-one conversation with Obama himself. Take a listen:

Did you catch that? Because Obama is arm-twisting the Republicans to support his Immigration policy (amnesty). That is why he is suing Arizona, and not helping with border protection, a CONSTITUTIONAL mandate. Nope, Obama wants something to do his duty, as Kyl said. That is seriously, seriously wrong.

And there is the Gulf Oil disaster, and the related clean-up. I think this headline says it all, Breaking: Obama Administration Only Accepted Help From 5 Countries Out of 28 That Offered Assistance. What?? WHY? That is the question:
Just last weekend Barack Obama announced that the BP oil spill was like 9-11. This weekend as President Obama went golfing and to the ballgame, the Obama State Department was STILL in the review process on deciding which countries the US would accept help from… 60 days after the disaster!

As the Gulf Coast shores continue to be coated with crude, the Obama Administration has only accepted assistance from 5 countries out of 28 who offered to assist the US with the cleanup.

This makes zero sense to me. Zero. What the hell is the matter with him? I am sure he will find a way to blame it on someone else. Hmm, like maybe Hillary? Possibly:

The State Department posted this on their website.
28 countries have offered to help assist the United States with the worst environmental disaster in American history. Only 5 offers have been accepted the rest are under review.
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I do not understand this one bit. Oil continues to gush into the Gulf, and the Obama Administration has only cleared FIVE countries to come help?? Look at some of the ones he has not yet cleared. It isn't like they are two-bit players. This makes zero sense. Either he is playing politics with this spill as he bows down to the unions, or he is continuing to show his complete lack of experience, qualifications, commitment, or all of the above. I am voting for all of the above. It is insane for him to not have all hands on deck to deal with this disaster NOW.

Then there is this, along with not having more countries help us in the Gulf, or setting up the borders to be porous as well as dangerous, without lifting a finger to help and suing states that try to do something about it to bend Republicans to his will. And that would be Eric Holder's decision to hold off on making a decision (!!) about where to try Khalid Sheik Mohammad. Naturally, Holder says this isn't at all political. He's a big liar, too, though (remember when he called the US a bunch of racists after just electing Obama? Uh huh.). I don't believe for one skinny second this isn't a political decision, despite the headline, Mid-term Elections Have Nothing To Do With 9/11 Trial Delay, Holder Says. Right. So what is his justification, then? Beats me. Maybe you can figure it out from this:
Attorney General Eric Holder said the decision over where to hold the trial for alleged 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was “weeks away” — three months ago.

Now advocates on both sides of the issue say they expect the Obama administration to punt the decision until after the November midterm elections— when the controversial plan could do less damage to the political fortunes of endangered Democrats and might face less resistance on Capitol Hill.

Holder last week explicitly denied the midterms had anything to do with the timing but would only say discussions are continuing. The White House had no comment.

Any further stalling could pose a serious political problem for President Barack Obama on the left – where advocates cheered his administration’s plan to break from the Bush administration and give top al-Qaida figures trials in American courtrooms, a sign to the country and the world that U.S.-style justice was enough to try to men accused of the worst crimes in the nation’s history. (Click HERE for the rest of the story.)

Seems pretty political to me, like Obama holding our borders hostage, as Kyl said. And, like not allowing other countries to come help clean up the oil, or lifting the Jones Act YET as he continues to kowtow to the unions.

This is criminal. Perhaps not in the strictly legal sense, though I think violating the mandates of the Constitution would rise to that level. So yeah - it most likely is in terms of the Borders and his lack of protection there, or the threat in the Gulf to livelihoods and life. As president, though, he is seriously derelict in his duty and must be held to account. Before 5/31/08, I never thought I would be upset at the Democrats holding all three chambers,, but these mid-terms cannot come quickly enough. Perhaps the Republicans will retake the House, and hold Obama accountable for his massive misdeeds, arm-twisting, coercions, and downright contempt for the protection of the people he swore to serve. He clearly is beholden to other interests, not the interests of the people or the country.

Nowhere is this clearer than Arizona and the Gulf Coast. Will they be Obama's Waterloo?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Are Teachers Fair Game?

An article by David Brooks, "Teachers Are Fair Game," caught my eye today. I will tell you right off the bat that I am not a fan of David Brooks, but the headline of this particular article caught my eye for a couple of reasons: 1., I had seen an article in my paper today about the reading ability of freshman in Charleston County (SC) abt which there will be more below; and 2., I had heard recently from a professor that Obama's new education plan is being seen as not much better than "No Child Left Behind." That sentiment seems to be supported by other teachers, too.

Now, let me say right upfront - I had a number of absolutely outstanding teachers during the course of my education. I had teachers who encourage, supported, believed, and pushed me to believe in myself. Their efforts helped me to rise to a high academic level. I have nothing but respect for the majority of teachers, their hard work, their care, their out of pocket expenditures for their students, and their passion for teaching. Those were the kinds of teachers I was fortunate enough to have, from first grade on up. I was fortunate to grow up in a state (NC) that had an outstanding public school system, as well as outstanding state universities.

But I know not all teachers are like the majority of the ones I had, unfortunately. And it is to that point that Brooks writes:
I started covering education reform in 1983, with the release of the “Nation at Risk” report. In those days everybody had some idea for how we should reorganize the schools or change the curriculum—cut school size, cut class size, create vouchers, create charters, get back to basics, do less basics, increase local control, increase the federal role.

Some of the reforms seemed promising, but the results were disappointing, and tangential to the core issue: the relationship between teacher and student. It is mushy to say so, but people learn from people they love.

Today, aided by the realization that teacher quality is what matters most, a new cadre of reformers have come on the scene, many of them bred within the ranks of Teach for America. These are stubborn, data-driven types with a low tolerance for bullshit. The reform environment they find themselves in is both softhearted and hardheaded. They put big emphasis on the teaching relationship, but are absolutely Patton-esque when it comes to dismantling anything that interferes with that relationship. This includes union rules that protect bad and mediocre teachers, teacher contracts that prevent us from determining which educators are good and which need help, and state and federal laws that either impede reform or dump money into the ancien régime.

Ah, and we have come to the crux of the matter - the unions:
The past few years have seen an absolute change in the correlation of forces. It used to be that a few policy wonks would write essays assailing union rules that protected mediocre teachers; these pronouncements were greeted with skepticism in the media and produced no political movement. Now powerful political players, most notably President Obama, are making such arguments. The unions feel the sand eroding under their feet. They sense their lack of legitimacy, especially within the media and the political class. They still fight to preserve their interests, but they’ve lost their moral authority, as we’ve seen in New York City, Denver, Chicago, and even Washington, D.C.

The battle is not over, not by a long shot. Although the environment for change is more fertile now than ever before, we have yet to see what it can yield. An education reformer sent me an e-mail a few months ago saying he had never been so optimistic about the state of education reform—and yet never so pessimistic about the government’s ability to solve fundamental problems.

As I was saying above - there are concerns about this new Plan of Obama's being little different from Bush's in the overall effect. And, of course, the issue of unions protecting teachers who shouldn't still be teaching (or in some cases, never allowed to start).

That brings me to the article that was in my paper on Sunday. What I didn't tell you was the full headline, particularly the subheading, which, frankly, brought me up short: Literacy Rates Show Improvement; In Charleston County, fewer incoming freshmen reading at fourth-grade level or worse. Did you catch that? High school students reading at a fourth grade level or BELOW. To me, it begs the obvious question - how in the HELL did they make it to high school??? Honestly, this just does not compute.

I might add, this is being said in a positive way. Here's more:
The Charleston County School District's new and aggressive campaign to improve students' reading already has sparked notable improvements, with the superintendent calling the gains a "great reflection of progress."

New figures show the percentage of next year's freshmen who read at a fourth-grade level or worse has dropped from 18 percent to 14 percent. Last year, nearly one in five students couldn't read better than a fourth-grader. This year, it's one in seven.

"When they came to me with these numbers, it was the best day I've had in a long time," said Superintendent Nancy McGinley. "It proves when we focus on something, we can get it done."

School officials learned about students' weak reading skills last year after The Post and Courier requested this analysis. The superintendent and school board responded by making literacy the district's top priority, and the emphasis on reading has permeated every school.

Oh, yay! But here is the take home message:
Still, while this year's results seem promising, it will take several years to know whether it's a one-year blip or part of a long-term trend. The district didn't track this information until last year.

Which begs another question: why not? Had the Post and Courier not asked them, they wouldn't have known how many of their Senior High school kids could not read the level of material for the class they were in?

But here's my favorite part:
Schools always have worked on literacy, but teachers and principals received a clear message this year that they would be accountable for students' reading skills, McGinley said. She said she thinks this year's results reflect several years of attention on the issue.

All evidence to the contrary, apparently. I am just saying, to claim they have "always worked on literacy" when such a large number of students cannot read anywhere CLOSE to a high school level, is laughable.

The good news is, though, they are going to work harder at it:
District officials made new efforts this year to promote literacy, and they plan to roll out a more expansive, intensive, multi-million-dollar plan this fall to identify and help weak readers.

The programs for struggling readers will be mandatory instead of voluntary, and the district will expand its reach to include first-graders and sixth-graders across the district. McGinley said she expects to see more progress among students as those plans take effect. (Click here to read the rest.)

I would certainly hope so.

Bear in mind, this is but one county here in SC, and holds one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the country within its confines (not that I am biased). To learn the level of literacy (or lack thereof) here is just astonishing.

Or is it? Maybe we're doing better here in Charleston County than I thought judging from this study, which has higher numbers for literacy (or illiteracy). Wow. This just blows me away.

Let me add that it isn't like I didn't know illiteracy was a problem in our country. I remember well working with prisoners and discovering they couldn't read (which meant they couldn't read the legal documents I presented to them), and being very surprised by the numbers (higher than I thought they would be). That was in MA, back in the '90's. But it was still a shock to realize how many people in this country, are reading far below the levels they need to be.

How about in your area? For the teachers in the crowd, what are the issues that get in the way of our children learning how to read and be functionally literate? What is happening in our schools that one-fifth of our students can't really read by the time they get to high school (again, how are they getting to high school???)? And what can we do to change these numbers? I look forward to your responses.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"Read My Lips - Healthcare Is NOT A Tax!"

I suppose none of us should be surprised by this, not really. There have been so few things about which Obama HAS told the truth (like making our energy costs skyrocket was actually true), that many of us assume he is lying from the get-go. I should say, those of us in the Reality-based Community assume he is lying unless proven otherwise. You know that old saying, "Fool me once..."

Many of us were not fooled with the lies and machinations the White House used to shove through Obamacare, like the cost (ha - turned out that was a big lie, and it is going to cost WAY more than Obama said), or that it is, indeed, a tax (h/t to Noogan for this heads-up). Well, at least it is according to his Justice Department anyway, Justice Department Rejects States’ Legal Challenge To Health Overhaul, Contradicts President In The Process. That lie didn't take too long to see the light of day:
The U.S. Justice Department officially responded to a legal challenge against the federal health-care overhaul Wednesday and called on a federal judge to dismiss the case.

Twenty attorneys general, led by Republican Bill McCollum of Florida, filed suit against the federal government immediately after President Obama’s health-care overhaul became law in March. The attorneys generals are questioning the constitutionality of the law, claiming that Congress does not have the power to require that all Americans purchase health insurance.

The federal health-care law requires that all legal U.S. residents be insured or else pay a penalty — beginning in 2014 — that fines individuals $695 annually or up to 2.5% of their income.

In its defense of the law, the Justice Department invoked the Commerce Clause and claimed penalties for Americans without health-care coverage were consistent with the federal government’s powers to regulate interstate commerce and impose taxes.

The Justice Department filing describes the penalty as a tax, stating that the law “imposes a tax on the choice of a method to finance the future costs of one’s health care.”

There ya have it. Right there. By the way, isn't it interesting how Obama continues to make the Justice Department do his dirty work? He did this with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," too, among other things (e.g., DOMA). Typical. McCollum wasn't amused:
McCollum responded to the Justice Department filings Thursday, claiming that the government’s response contradicted the comments that President Obama made during the health-care debate earlier this year.

“The Justice Department’s defenses clash directly with comments made by President Obama during the debate on the health care reform bill, including the President’s insistence on national television that the purchase mandate was absolutely not a tax. Yet in its motion to dismiss, the Obama administration defends the individual mandate under Congress’ ‘taxing and spending’ power,” said McCollum in a press statement.


Evidently Stephanopoulos was NOT reaching when defining what a "tax increase" was. But Obama was sure as hell lying though his teeth when he claimed the healthcare bill was NOT a tax, making his condescension toward Stephanopoulos even more inapproproate (and why is it that people always refer to that as a "professorial" trait with Obama? First of all, it's not like he was eve ra full professor, taught that long, or was event hat good at it. Condescension does NOT equal professorial. Just saying. But I digress...). Back to the issue at hand:
“Our lawsuit challenges the individual mandate that violates the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, the federal government is threatening our state sovereignty with this unprecedented expansion of federal powers and commandeering of state resources,” McCollum continued. “This is not acceptable, and we will pursue this litigation as far as necessary to obtain relief for our citizens and our states.”

Hearings on the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit will begin Sept. 14.

Another day, another lie from Team Obama. This is a whopper, though. Obama lost credibility with me LONG ago, but at some point, others are going to have to admit that Obama is nothing but a big, fat liar. Maybe this will push them over that edge.

I am sure you have other examples. Let's hear them!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Obama's Answer To The Oil Spill

Oh, it's a doozy. I admit, using Jon Stewart two times in one week is a bit unusual for me, but hey - it was Obama's first Oval Office speech, plus it was both telling, and funny, as hell. So here ya go - Obama's plan:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
An Energy-Independent Future
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Oh, goody. A commission. That should do the trick for the oil spill.

By the way, did Obama come mighty close to plagiarizing Bush II? And Bush II Clinton? Bush I? Carter? And on and on and on? Amazing to see how incredibly similar each one of their speeches was, wasn't it? And to be reminded that Tricky Dick is the one who gave us the EPA, Clean Water Act, and Marine Mammal Act. That is pretty amazing, really. I am sure if I ever knew it, I forgot it, or Watergate pushed it right out of my head...

And what does Obama want to do that is comparable to Nixon's accomplishments? Pass "Cap and Trade," which will necessarily raise costs. Check that, will make rates "Skyrocket," according to Obama. Don't believe me? Take a listen:

Just in case you missed it, or want to read along, here is what Obama said:
The problem is not technical, uh, and the problem is not mastery of the legislative intricacies of Washington. The problem is, uh, can you get the American people to say, “This is really important,” and force their representatives to do the right thing? That requires mobilizing a citizenry. That requires them understanding what is at stake. Uh, and climate change is a great example.

You know, when I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, uh, you know — Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it — whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.

They — you — you can already see what the arguments will be during the general election. People will say, “Ah, Obama and Al Gore, these folks, they’re going to destroy the economy, this is going to cost us eight trillion dollars,” or whatever their number is. Um, if you can’t persuade the American people that yes, there is going to be some increase in electricity rates on the front end, but that over the long term, because of combinations of more efficient energy usage, changing lightbulbs and more efficient appliance, but also technology improving how we can produce clean energy, the economy would benefit.

If we can’t make that argument persuasively enough, you — you, uh, can be Lyndon Johnson, you can be the master of Washington. You’re not going to get that done.

Yep - and that is just what Cap and Trade will do - make our energy costs skyrocket. According to Obama, it will be almost $1,800 per household a year in additional costs if Cap and Trade passes. You can go with that number if you want, but all I can say is one word: Obamacare. In other words, what Obama says it will cost is much less what it will actually cost. The Weekly Standard says it will cost more like $3,100 per household a year. The bottom line is, it will cost each one of us more, on top of all of the other elevated taxes with which we are being hit (in my county, real estate taxes are going up this year again, the energy company, initially looking for a 10% increase, are backing off that number after people went ballistic and is now going for a total around 7% for the year). If you want to find out what Obama's Cap and Trade will mean for your wallet, you can use this calculator.

The bottom line is, it's gonna cost us. Each and every one of us will be paying more. And taxes will be going up even more at the end of 2010 when the Bush tax cuts expire. Oh, yippee.

By the way, since we are talking about Obama's big plans for Energy Independence and all, what the hell happened to the 5 million green jobs campaign promise (that he seemed to have "borrowed" lock, stock, and barrel from Hillary Clinton)? I'm just wondering since unemployment continues to rise, with staggering numbers of Americans already unemployed or underemployed, so where are the jobs? Wouldn't THAT be a way to help us - finally - to become more "energy independent"? Put some of the stimulus money that is left over into actual job creation what would also help the planet?

Well, I am not surprised that Obama gives more lip service to programs than action, or calls for a "war" using commissions instead of plans, or has failed to promote "green-collar" jobs. No surprise to me at all. After seeing The Daily Show clip above, I guess what SHOULD surprise me is ANY president who is actually going to make changes in this area.

What a mess we have made of this planet, and continue to make, all political posturing and arm twisting aside. The bottom line is, we have made a huge mess, culminating in the Gulf of Mexico gusher now. So here's a question: if this kind of crisis doesn't get us to move away from responding politically and just doing what is right (like getting more countries involved), what will? As the marine life continues to suffer, moving closer to shore to get away from the oil, as food sources suffer, and jobs are lost, what, WHAT, will finally get us to just do what is right, politics be damned?

I'd sure like to know. Wouldn't you?