Saturday, October 31, 2009

The more things change . . .

"Congress' in-house Law Library is rebuffing calls from the chairmen of the House and Senate foreign relations committees to retract a report on the military-backed coup in Honduras that the chairmen charge is flawed and "has contributed to the political crisis that still wracks" the country. The request, by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., has sparked cries of censorship from Republicans who say the Democrats don't like what the August report said: that the government of Honduras had the authority to remove deposed president Manuel Zelaya from office. A spokeswoman for the Law Library - - one of six Library of Congress agencies - - said Thursday that the research agency stands by the report and that Librarian of Congress James Billington is preparing a response to the lawmakers."

So, the politicians are once more telling the professionals to shade their research and their report to support the foreign policy needs of their political bosses, and to destroy ("retract") research which contradicts the desired political conclusion. That's sort of how we ended up in Iraq.

Remember when candidate Kerry attacked the Bush administration for doing the exact same thing? And, when Congressional Republicans did what Kerry and Berman are doing?

Obama meets returning war dead

"Hours after a personal encounter with the grim cost of war, President Barack Obama said Thursday the sight of 18 flag-covered cases holding the remains of Americans killed this week in Afghanistan can't help but influence his thinking about sending more troops overseas. "It was a sobering reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our young men and women in uniform are engaging in every single day, not only our troops but their families as well," Obama said from the White House, reflecting briefly on his surprise middle-of-the-night trip to Dover Air Force Base to observe the return of the fallen Americans to the United States."

I give Obama credit for doing this.

Every president should greet our war dead coming home from every war of choice. I'm convinced that there would be less wars of choice if every president was expected to do this.

Now, let's see if this was a one time photo op (to lay the groundwork for his upcoming Afghanistan troop decision), or a new practice.

Stopgap spending bills, again

"The Senate on Thursday cleared a stopgap spending measure to avoid shutting down most federal agencies at midnight Saturday. The measure - now ready for President Barack Obama's signature - would give Congress until Dec. 18 to finish seven incomplete spending measures that were supposed to be wrapped up by Sept. 30."

Remember when this type of stopgap spending measure was front page news, and cited as proof of Congressional incompetence?

Chavez in trouble

"For more than a decade, Chávez has dominated Venezuelan politics, establishing a grip on power unequalled in the region, outside of Cuba. But lower oil prices, as well as the effects of economic mismanagement and neglected infrastructure, have begun to erode his popular support. . . . Late last year, Chávez mocked critics who warned that Venezuela, more than 90 percent dependent on oil revenues for its foreign earnings, was poorly positioned to ride out the global crisis. The country's economy, he said, was "bulletproof." . . . But after more than four years of rapid growth, Venezuela is now firmly in recession. Worse still, its shrinking economy has done little to blunt inflation, which is running at close to 30 percent a year - - around three times the regional average. And the economic downturn is having a predictable effect on the government's popularity, just as it gears up to fight crucial legislative elections next year. The latest data from polling company Datanálisis shows voters evenly split, for the first time since mid-2004, over whether the president has been good or bad for "national wellbeing."

Chavez is rabidly anti American, and is a conduit for Iranian influence in South America. Isn't this the time to actively oppose Chavez, while he's weak, rather than "opening dialogue" with him?

Friday, October 30, 2009

If they like you?

If they don't like you, you lied and broke your promises.

If they like you? You're "pragmatic".

"It has been almost a year since the American people issued their own call to action at the polls, heeding Obama's message that he would boldly change the way government — and by extension, the country — works. Nine months after he took office . . . "He may be even more pragmatic than Bill Clinton, which has surprised me" . . . "He's basically moved to the position that, 'I'll take whatever I can get.' I thought he'd be more of a crusading, turning-point president. Is this the next liberal renaissance or not?" . . . Armisen ticked off Obama's promises on issues from Guantanamo Bay to gays in the military and said he's failed to accomplish anything on them. . . . "He's the victim of the expectations people have set for him" . . ."

Got that? Obama breaks his promises, and "he's the victim".

Something is terribly wrong

"The number of people arrested in the gang rape of a 15-year-old girl outside a high school dance in Northern California has increased to six and could get higher, authorities said."

You read about something like this in the newspapers almost daily.

And, the kids who do these things either get off with a smack on the hand as juvenile offenders, or go to adult prison and learn to be better criminals.

We're doing something wrong.

(But, rest easy. We are cracking down on wasteful light bulbs, smoking and "drunk biking". )

Not yet . . .

Now, we're down to three competing healthcare reform plans under discussion, the House plan, the Senate plan, and the administration's secret plan.

"A landmark health care bill crafted by House Democratic leaders underscores the challenges lawmakers in Congress continue to face as they race to finish work on President Obama's top domestic priority by the end of the year. After months of negotiations, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., unveiled legislation that by 2019 would provide insurance to 36 million Americans who wouldn't otherwise have it. Obama praised the measure as a "critical milestone" in his effort to revamp the nation's health care system."

By the way - - if there's such a crisis, requiring immediate radical action, why does the House plan phase in over 10 years?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stimulus success lies

"An early progress report on President Obama's economic recovery plan overstates by thousands the number of jobs created or saved through the stimulus program, a mistake that White House officials promise will be corrected in future reports. The government's first accounting of jobs tied to the $787 billion stimulus program claimed more than 30,000 positions paid for with recovery money. But that figure is overstated by least 5,000 jobs . . . some counts were more than 10 times as high as the actual number of jobs; some jobs credited to the stimulus program were counted two and sometimes more than four times; and other jobs were credited to stimulus spending when none was produced."

"Overstated" in Washington means "lied and got caught".

It's no accident when bureaucrats "overstate" by a factor of 10, or count something twice and four times, or claim something exists that doesn't.

Domestic terrorism

"The leader of what federal authorities describe as an Islamic separatist group was shot and killed Wednesday during a series of raids in Dearborn and Detroit that resulted in 10 other men being charged . . . Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, also known as Christopher Thomas, was gunned down after refusing to surrender and opening fire when the FBI raided a Dearborn warehouse . . . The defendants "are members of a group that is alleged to have engaged in violent activity over a period of many years and known to be armed" . . . "Abdullah told his followers it is their duty to oppose the FBI and the government and it does not matter if they die." . . . The complaint describes Abdullah as "a highly placed leader of a nationwide radical fundamentalist Sunni group consisting primarily of African Americans, some of whom converted to Islam while they were serving sentences in various prisons across the United States." The group calls itself "Ummah" and "seeks to establish a separate Sharia-law (Islamic) governed state" within the U.S."

Maybe the authorities should start keeping a closer eye on what people are taught in prison?


"More than 40% of President Obama's top-level fundraisers have secured posts in his administration, from key executive branch jobs to diplomatic postings in countries such as France, Spain and the Bahamas . . . Twenty of the 47 fundraisers that Obama's campaign identified as collecting more than $500,000 have been named to government positions . . . Overall, about 600 individuals and couples raised money from their friends, family members and business associates to help fund Obama's presidential campaign . . . 54 have been named to government positions, ranging from Cabinet and White House posts to advisory roles . . . Nearly a year after he was elected on a pledge to change business-as-usual in Washington, Obama also has taken a cue from his predecessors and appointed fundraisers to coveted ambassadorships, drawing protests from groups representing career diplomats."

Another campaign promise gone and forgotten.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What about Mexico?

Our government is fully invested in fighting terrorism and terrorists in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, in Mexico:

"Authorities say four police officers were killed by assailants who opened fired on them during a traffic stop in the central Mexico city of Puebla.A statement issued Tuesday by the Puebla state public security department says the officers had responded to a report of a suspicious car in a wealthy neighborhood. The officers ordered the car to stop and the occupants shot them with AR-15 rifles.The department says no one has been arrested and the motive for the attack is unknown.In the border city of Tijuana, a teenage girl was killed Tuesday by a stray bullet during a shootout between police and gunmen. Tijuana police spokeswoman Cristina Perez says the 15-year-old was waiting for a bus to go to school.",0,4371833.story

Over time, terrorism next door (just on the other side of our porous border) in Mexico will be a bigger problem. Why do we ignore it?

Bipartisanship on healthcare

The Senate has finally developed a truly bipartisan position on healthcare reform.

All Senate Republicans, plus two to four Senate Democrats, opppose the Reid / Senate plan.

Something no one else noted

The only reported news lately regarding party identification is the "recent Washington Post/ABC News poll which says only 20 percent of Americans now identify themselves as Republican. It's the lowest figure in the 26 years the poll has posed the question."

Of course, not reported is that "only 33 percent of Americans call themselves Democrats, a decline of seven percentage points just since March 2008."

In other words, "none of the above" is getting awfully close to being the majority view.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Post healthcare reform - - still 20+ million uninsured?

The healthcare debate began with, "How do we rationally, logically and economically guaranty the minimum necessary level of medical care to everyone?" The way we are doing it now - - the poor and insured wait until they get really, really sick, and then go to the emergency room for really, really expensive treament at the expense of taxpayers and/or the insured - - makes no sense from either a medical or an economic perspective.

But, over time, the healthcare debate has morphed from a discussion of healthcare delivery into a discussion of health insurance reform.

And, the participants debating and deciding the issue behind closed doors seem to have forgotten the original problem and the original goal.

"The high cost of health insurance premiums would continue to put coverage out of reach for millions even if Congress approves legislation President Obama says is intended to ensure "that every American has affordable health care." The number of people who remain uninsured will depend on how House and Senate leaders reconcile separate versions of health care legislation to arrive at a final bill. The factors include the size of government subsidies to help low-income families pay for insurance and the scope of penalties that would be charged for those who don't buy a plan. . . . The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates 17 million Americans would remain uninsured under the Senate Finance Committee's 10-year, $829 billion health care bill. Health experts such as Rowland say that number would include families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to pay for insurance. Others who could remain uninsured under the Finance Committee bill include people who choose to pay a proposed $750-a-year fine rather than buy coverage and those who are eligible for Medicaid but don't enroll."

In other words, after all is said and done, there will still be 20+ million uninsured (plus illegal aliens) waiting until they get really, really sick, and then going to the emergency room for really, really expensive treament at the expense of taxpayers and/or the insured, which makes no sense from either a medical or an economic perspective.

What we're doing is simply cutting the problem (the number of uninsured) in half.

Why John Kerry is not president

"Sen. John Kerry warns that a major U.S. troop pullout could trigger civil war in Afghanistan, and a small-scale counterterror campaign is not an alternative to the broader U.S.-led military operation already underway. Kerry's position would appear to rebut anti-war Democrats and others who question calls to deepen the U.S. stake in the 8-year-old war. But the Democratic senator also would not endorse a major military increase as advocated by the commanding U.S. general in Afghanistan. Kerry says General Stanley McChrystal's plan goes too far, too fast."

John Kerry never takes a strong clear well articulated position. He says don't withdraw, but don't try a small scale offensive, and start a broader operation, but neither oppose the war nor increase troop strength. That's what you call "dithering". And, it's why John Kerry lost the presidency in 2004, and has no business being in a Senate leadership role in 2009.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Because major league baseball is against the use of performance enhancing drugs

"The St. Louis Cardinals have scheduled a midday news conference amid reports that Tampa native Tony La Russa will return for a 15th season as manager and possibly bring Mark McGwire as hitting coach. . . . The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported La Russa will return, and was negotiating with McGwire to be the hitting coach . . . McGwire hit a record 70 home runs in 1998, a mark since topped by Barry Bonds. McGwire has largely been out of the public eye since retiring in 2001. He attended Congressional hearings on steroid abuse, and has fallen far short in balloting for the Hall of Fame despite 583 homers."

The fact that McGwire's even being seriously considered for the job proves that MLB is still ignoring and enabling steroid abuse.

14 more Americans killed in Afghanistan

"A series of helicopter crashes killed 14 Americans in insurgent-wracked Afghanistan on Monday, the U.S. military said. It was one of the deadliest days of the war for U.S. troops. In the first crash, a chopper went down in the west of the country after leaving the scene of a firefight with insurgents, killing 10 Americans — seven troops and three civilians working for the government. Eleven American troops, one U.S. civilian and 14 Afghans were also injured.
In a separate incident in the south, two other U.S. choppers collided while in flight, killing four American troops and wounding two more, the military said."

Where are all the phony "anti war" protesters? The "anti war" media? The "anti war" politicians?

I guess they think war is only bad if it's led by someone you don't like.

Stimulus fraud

"The Department of Defense has awarded nearly $30 million in stimulus contracts to six companies while they were under federal criminal investigation on suspicion of fraud. The companies claimed to be small, minority-owned businesses, giving them preference in bidding for government contracts, Air Force documents allege. But government investigators found they were part of a larger minority-owned firm and not eligible for small-business contracts. The Air Force and Army awarded the companies 112 stimulus projects, federal contract records show. It wasn't until Sept. 23 — more than a year after the investigation started — that the Air Force suspended the firms from new federal contracts."

The federal government tried to spend three quarters of a trillion dollars in stimulus money within a few months, with few guidelines, and almost no oversight.

Over the next few years, cronyism, insider contracts, fraud, waste and abuse on an unimaginable scale will be revealed.

Still no final healthcare bill

"Businesses would not be required to provide health insurance under legislation being readied for Senate debate, but large firms would owe significant penalties if any worker needed government subsidies to buy coverage on their own, according to Democratic officials familiar with talks on the bill. For firms with more than 50 employees, the fee could be as high as $750 multiplied by the total size of the work force if only a few workers needed federal aid, these officials said. That is a more stringent penalty than in a bill that recently cleared the Senate Finance Committee, which said companies should face penalties on a per-employee basis. These officials also said individuals would generally be required to purchase affordable insurance if it were available, and face penalties if they defied the requirement. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity . . ."

It's hard to be in favor of the proposed healthcare legislation when there is as yet no proposed heathcare legislation to support or oppose, merely several conflicting concepts.

And, contrary to the promises, everything's being hammered out behind closed doors by a handful of insiders and lobbyists who release information only "on condition of anonymity". So much for open discussion and debate.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mideast elections

"After three days of long sessions and continuous delays, the Iraqi parliament failed Wednesday to reach agreement on a new election law, asked a little-used national political council to resolve the impasse and adjourned until Sunday. The speaker of the parliament, Dr. Ayad al Samarrai, said at a news conference that the parliament had resolved 90 percent of what he called obstacles -- including allowing Iraqis to vote directly for individual candidates, not just party lists -- but that lawmakers remained deadlocked over how January's scheduled parliamentary elections should be conducted in oil-rich northern Kirkuk province."

When will we learn that elections in the Middle East are never won by forces favorable to the U.S.?

Our friends the Saudis

"A Saudi court on Saturday convicted a female journalist for her involvement in a TV show, in which a Saudi man publicly talked about sex, and sentenced her to 60 lashes."

This wasn't a sex show. It was something that would be considered too tame for Oprah.

When will we get tough with the Saudis' medieval theocratic autocracy?

I can't wait until we invent a gasoline substitute and/or electric car.

Then, without the money from fuel sales, let them eat sand.

I feel better already

"President Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, giving his health chief the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to speed treatment and protect noninfected patients."

What bothers me is that it requires a presidential declaration of emergency to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite. Why are decisions like that in the federal government's job description?

Sunday morning experts

As you watch and listen to all the Sunday morning talk and news shows, with all their politicians and media talking heads and economists and pundits spouting off with their predictions and prescriptions, remember:

- they didn't predict the housing crisis;

- they didn't predict the banking crisis;

- they didn't predict the financial crisis; and,

- they didn't predict 10% unemployment.

Face it. They don't know what they're talking about. They're just giving their opinions which express their prejudices and ideologies without any real basis in fact or common sense.

And, common sense tells you that the best and pretty much only thing the government can do with long term effect to help the economy is balance the budget and pay off the national debt (whether through spending cuts or tax increases).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Where's the shame?

She knew what her husband was up to.

She joined him in his cover up.

She stood by him as he said, "Vote for me, my wife has cancer."

Wouldn't you think she'd be ashamed to be seen testifying before congress?

Al Qaeda attacks Pakistani nuclear weapons site

"A suicide bomber attacked a suspected nuclear weapons site Friday in Pakistan, raising fears about the security of the nuclear arsenal, while two other terrorist blasts made it another bloody day in the country's struggle against extremism. Increasingly daring and sophisticated attacks by terrorists allied with al Qaeda on some of Pakistan's most sensitive and best-protected installations have led to warnings that extremists could damage a nuclear facility or seize nuclear material. Pakistan's nuclear sites are mostly in the northwest of the country, close to the capital, Islamabad, to keep them away from the border with archenemy India, but that places them close to Pakistani Taliban extremists, who are massed in the northwest. Al Qaeda has made clear its ambitions to get hold of a nuclear bomb or knowledge of nuclear technology. Several other sites associated with Pakistan's nuclear weapons have been hit previously."

Why don't we use our 200,000 troops in the region to seize and secure all nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon sites in the AfPak theatre, dismantle everything, and then withdraw?

They hate us now, they'll hate us then, but they won't have any more weapons of mass destruction.

Census "under counting"

"Convinced the U.S. Census Bureau has long underestimated Miami's population and income levels -- discouraging retailers, banks and supermarkets from opening shop in the city -- Mayor Manny Diaz's administration commissioned an in-depth study that confirms the existence of a substantial gap. How large? Try 65,000 people missing from the 2008 Census population estimates, a sum that would bring the city population to a record 480,000. In addition, the study said traditional Census-based market estimates missed a whopping $1.3 billion in residents' income. Armed with the study, to be formally released Monday and conducted by respected nonprofit research group Social Compact, the city has filed an official challenge of the 2008 population estimate with the Census Bureau."

A dirty little secret - - the overwhelming majority of the "under counted" are running from the law for one reason or another, whether because of immigration status or criminal status.

Modern feudalism

"The number of properties on the market may be much larger than anyone thought and appears likely to swamp South Florida with more deeply discounted homes, clouding the prospects for a housing recovery. Figures from the Florida Association of Realtors released Friday show that South Florida's median home prices have stabilized over the past several months and sales are up year-over-year as the number of properties on the market shrinks. But an analysis of the so-called shadow market done for The Miami Herald suggests the number of homes and condos in the pipeline to come on the market in South Florida is nearly five times larger than all residential properties currently listed for sale by Realtors. LPS Applied Analytics, a firm that supplies loan data to the federal government, did the analysis on the shadow market, which refers to properties that will eventually be listed for sale -- because they are about to enter foreclosure, are in foreclosure or already owned by banks."

We've entered a period of modern near-feudalism - - people are tied to their property (by upside down mortgages, rather than by the local lord), and are unable to move without facing dire financial consequences.

The biggest domestic mistake of the Obama administration so far was to bail out the mortgagees (the banks) rather than the mortgagors (the upside down home owners). Who would have thought the new Democratic administration would have trusted aid to the banks to "trickle down" to the borrowers?

Friday, October 23, 2009


Daniel Ken "Dan" Inouye is a Democratic U.S. senator from Hawaii since 1963, the first Asian American senator, and a recipient of numerous military medals and honors for his service in World War II, including the Medal of Honor.

"On April 21, 1945, in Italy, Inouye was grievously wounded while taking a heavily-defended ridge, Colle Musatello. Three German machine guns had pinned down his men and hit him in the gut. Despite his wounds, he launched a single-handed assault on the guns. He took out the first and second machine guns with grenades and his Tommy Gun. As he pulled the pin off another grenade to throw at the third machine gun nest, his right arm was nearly torn off by shrapnel. The live grenade fell on the ground. With his left hand, he pried his dead fingers from the grenade and threw it. He was hit yet again in the leg and fell off the hillside. Later, his arm was amputated without anesthetic, as he had been given too much morphine at an aid station. His story, along with interviews with him about the war as a whole, were featured prominently in the 2007 Ken Burns documentary The War."

Inouye is a loyal but sceptical Democrat. Here's what one of the civil, well mannered, open minded on line "progressives" posted about Inouye yesterday:

"Inouye to strip Anti-Rape Amendment from Bill . . . I say we cut off his other arm, and then move South."

Wouldn't you think that story would be removed or that slur edited?

If a similar comment was posted on a conservative site, and directed towards an unquestioning proponent of Obamacare, it would be front page news across the country.

Another Polanski defender

Frederic Mitterrand is the French Minister of Culture and Communication, and the nephew of a former French President.

He is the leading European defender of admitted child rapist Roman Polanski.

"Mitterrand's autobiographical novel The Bad Life (French: La mauvaise vie) was a best seller in 2005. In the book he details his "delight" whilst visiting the male brothels of Bangkok, and writes, 'I got into the habit of paying for boys . . . The profusion of young, very attractive and immediately available boys put me in a state of desire I no longer needed to restrain or hide.'"

It's no surprise that Mitterrand defends Polanski. It is surprising that anyone else wants to be on the same side as Mitterrand and Polanski.

Eastern Europe betrayal

"US Vice President Joe Biden kicks off a trip on Tuesday that will take him to Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania and is meant to reiterate US commitment to eastern European defense. Critics questioned the US's intentions towards eastern Europe after President Obama shelved a Bush-era plan to build a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic following criticism from Russia.",,4798213,00.html

"The administration's planned replacement would instead be aimed against Iranian short- and intermediate-range missiles; it says that makes more sense in part because Iran doesn't yet have long-range capabilities."

The country which last invaded, conquered and colonized Eastern Europe is Russia.

We agreed to assist Eastern European defense against Russia with a misssile shield.

We broke our promise.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Obama and Crist

"Turning a romp into a race, U.S. Senate contender Marco Rubio has cut Gov. Charlie Crist's lead in half in a nationally recognized poll.. . . Just days before President Barack Obama makes his second trip to Florida, the poll pegged his approval at 48 percent. Unlike in February, when a more popular Obama touted his stimulus plan in Florida, Crist isn't planning to join the president next week."

They deserve each other.

A "revenue neutral" healthcare bill?

"Doctors' Medicare fees would be cut 21 percent next year unless some change is approved, and quickly, but Senators sent a strong signal Wednesday that they're reluctant to spend billions on a long-term solution. Despite a strong effort by the American Medical Association, the Senate rejected a bid to continue debate on a 10-year plan by 13 votes because of concerns it isn't paid for. . . . Before the end of the year, the change is expected to pass . . . a 10-year, $246.9 billion plan that would freeze rates during that period . . . "

How can anyone with any degree of integrity say the health care bill is "revenue neutral", when everyone knows they've simply sliced off $246+ billion in related healthcare costs into a separate bill?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Healthcare: Still no public support for legislation

"Americans are increasingly worried about the cost and quality of medical care that could result from President Obama's effort to revamp health care, but a majority still trust him more than Republicans to change the system, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows. The poll, which comes as Senate leaders are crafting a bill for a critical floor vote, finds that people who fear their costs would increase under the measure jumped 7 percentage points since last month, to 49%. There were similar increases among those who believe that both quality of health care and insurance company red tape will get worse if legislation passes. The findings underscore the skepticism Obama and other Democrats face as they work on key details of their health care plan. One-third of those polled say they expect to oppose the final bill, one-fourth say they would support it, and 39% are undecided."

I still don't understand how you push through such massive structural changes with such limited public support.

The latest on Bernie Madoff

"Convicted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff promoted a "culture of sexual deviance" at his New York headquarters that featured vast quantities of cocaine and drug-fueled parties with topless waitress, according to details of a new lawsuit. "Madoff's affinity for escorts, masseuses and attractive female employees was well known in the office culture," the complaint says. "A significant amount of the money stolen from investors went towards these lavish indulgences as well as other expenses for his employees, family and favorite feeders." The suit charges that a number of the "feeders" brought investors to Madoff and also took part in the 'sexual revelry" including trysts on his office couch."

The degree of immorality among those at the upper reaches of American society is shocking.

By the way - - if someone gets your business by giving you hookers and coke, why would you be surprised if he turns out to be less than trustworthy with your money?

White House neglecting bioterrorism

"The Obama administration is working hard to curb nuclear threats but failing to address the more urgent and immediate threat of biological terrorism, a bipartisan commission created by Congress is reporting today. The report obtained by USA TODAY cites failures on biosecurity policy by the White House, which the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction says has left the country vulnerable."

The primary responsibility of government is to guarantee public safety. There's no excuse for ignoring any aspect of public safety.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Biden's boys

"A judge has thrown out a lawsuit against Vice President Joe Biden's youngest son and brother over their 2006 purchase of a hedge fund firm, saying an investor failed to be specific enough in claiming that they underhandedly shoehorned him out of the deal."

I never heard about a fraud suit against Biden's son and brother. Did you?

"Lotito sued the Bidens separately over the Paradigm purchase. The two sides reached a settlement with confidential terms last December. Lotito had claimed the Bidens negotiated their own deal to buy the hedge funds behind his back and cheated him out of money."

I never heard that the Bidens had to pay to settle claims that they cheated someone out of money. Did you?

These are the stories the media buries if they like you.

Afghan indecision

"The Obama administration needs to decide on a war strategy for Afghanistan without waiting for a government there to be widely accepted as legitimate, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday."

Shouldn't we know who and what we're fighting for before we ask our troops to risk their lives in the fight?

How do you ask young men and women to fight for "whatever"?

Guessing the economic future

"The housing market is turning up. The Dow Jones industrial average last week broke 10,000 for the first time in a year. And recently, the slowly bubbling economy has even prompted some Federal Reserve Board members to argue for raising interest rates sooner rather than later to head off inflation. But a small cadre of economists remains worried about a more insidious threat: deflation."

Basically, no one knows what they're talking about, no one agrees with everyone else, and everyone listens to whoever says what they want to hear.

No one knows. They're all just guessing.

P.S. They all celebrated the Dow breaking 10,000. No one mentioned that it then dropped back down below 10,000.

Early census news

"Turbulent political and economic times roiling the nation are expected to diminish initial participation by households in next year's Census despite a $326 million marketing blitz that far outspends previous Census campaigns. Mounting mistrust of government, rising identify theft and record numbers of foreclosures could discourage people from mailing back Census forms next year, according to the Census Bureau."

Among the reasons people might skip the census:

"The crackdown on illegal immigrants at the border and in the workplace may deter the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants from participating. Although most Hispanic rights groups support participation in the Census, the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders is urging a boycott to pressure lawmakers to change laws and create ways for illegal immigrants to gain legal status. Unprecedented foreclosure rates and relocations after Hurricane Katrina have disrupted living patterns, forcing large numbers of people into temporary living quarters. As a result, millions of Census forms may end up reaching vacant homes."

If lower income groups and immigrants are under-counted, this hurts Democrats.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Working with the Taliban

Lately, we're hearing that we can "work with the Taliban" in Afghanistan.

Who are the Taliban?

". . . life in Afghanistan before U.S. forces overthrew the Taliban. These ultra-fanatical Muslims tried to replicate their vision of 7th century Islamic life. Even Iran said they went too far. They destroyed women's lives. They forbade women's education, banned them from work, forced them to cover all, even their eyes when they went out, and banned them from leaving their houses unless accompanied by male relatives. Public executions and beatings for minimal infractions became regular events. In 1998 Physicians for Human Rights declared, "The extent to which the Taliban regime has threatened the human rights of Afghan women is unparalleled in recent history.'' PHR researchers described Kabul in 1998 as "a city of beggars -- women who had once been teachers and nurses now moving in the streets like ghosts under their enveloping burqas, selling every possession and begging to feed their children.'' Women could not be treated by male doctors or go to hospitals, except for a dilapidated 35-bed facility with no running water. The Taliban forbade women to wear shoes that made a sound and even banned laughter. Happiness was out of reach."

The poorest of the poor

"The government programs that provide health care to the poor would expand to cover nearly one in five Americans under health insurance legislation pending in Congress, putting pressure on federal and state budgets. . . . That would be the biggest single expansion since Medicaid was created in 1965. . . . "This is one of the most significant changes in the health reform bills," says Ron Pollack, executive director of the liberal health care advocacy group Families USA. "This affects the people who are the poorest of the poor."

That's one way to justify an expansion of Medicaid - - simply redefine "one in five Americans" as "the poorest of the poor".

There was a time when we focused on getting people off welfare and helping them become self sufficient, not on simply expanding eligibility for welfare programs.

The White House vs. The Health Insurers

"Seven months ago, insurance companies vowed to be allies in President Obama's effort to revamp health care, with one industry leader later telling Congress that "health insurance reform needs to be done this year." But as an $829 billion, 10-year health care bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee moves toward debate by the full Senate this month, the insurance industry and the Obama administration are increasingly at odds over key provisions in the bill."

Initially, the insurance industry agreed to a new, strong regulatory regime and the White House agreed to new, strong nearly universal mandates. Both sides went back on their words.

Who was more naive - - the White House for trusting the insurance industry, or the insurance industry for trusting the White House?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Another 4 U.S. dead in Afghanistan

Remember when 4 U.S. dead in one day was front page news?

I guess it's not as noteworthy, now that we have a so-called "anti war" president.

Iraqi refugees

"More than 30,000 Iraqis have moved to the United States under a resettlement program that began in 2007 while much smaller numbers have gone to other countries, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday. The big United States intake, which began with the program in 2007, came after Washington had been heavily criticized for taking in too few Iraqi refugees."

Always remember this hidden cost of every U.S. foreign adventure - - when our troops come home, we bring tens if not hundreds of thousands of refugees home with us

Beware of Medicare cost reform

"Much of the hard work for changing costs could come in a new Medicare Commission, where experts would figure out what care is most productive and how to reshape payment plans. Congress would still get a say, but only after the commission had made its determinations."

"What care is most productive"?

How would you like to need a procedure that this independent unanswerable unaccountable panel of "experts" decides doesn't pass their cost / benefit analysis?

President Obama: The reviews are coming in

"The big question on the domestic front right now is whether President Obama understands the gravity of the employment crisis facing the country. Does he get it?"

"This is the president we now have: He inspires lots of affection but not a lot of awe. . . . Does he have the stomach and commitment for what is likely to continue to be an unpopular war? . . . But based on his zigzagging so far and the suggestion from the Copenhagen trip that the somber seriousness of the presidency has yet to sink in, we have reason to wonder."

Keep in mind that Bob Herbert of the New York Times and Richard Cohen of The Washington Post are two of the leading liberal columnists on two of the leading liberal papers. They're his base.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Healthcare nonsense

"Sen. Tom Harkin, leader of the powerful Senate Health Committee, said Friday that vast differences in Medicare costs - - as exist between the high-cost Miami and lower-cost areas - - must be ended to make for sensible healthcare reform. "These huge disparities can't continue,'' the Iowa Democrat said in a teleconference sponsored by the consumer group Families USA. Dartmouth studies have shown that the average Miami [Florida] senior costs almost two-and-a-half times what a senior in Minneapolis does. . . . He noted that Iowa has always ranked near the top in quality of care measures while ranking 48th of 50 in Medicare costs."

Homes are more expensive in Miami than Iowa. Gas is more expensive in Miami than Iowa. Dinner out is more expensive in Miami than Iowa. Healthcare is also more expensive in Miami than Iowa, because everything is more expensive in Miami than Iowa.

There are many obvious reasons for this. It is frightening to think that a powerful U.S. Senator doesn't understand the reality of regional cost differences.

Double digit unemployment

"Florida's unemployment rate edged up in September, rising two-tenths of a point to 11 percent, the state labor department announced Friday. That's the highest since October 1975, and represents just over one million Floridians out of work."

It's safe to assume the national rate will be up there soon.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The will of the people

Remember that?

According to the latest polls, the proposed healthcare plan is opposed by 46.8%, and supported by only 44.1%.

And, these numbers aren't from any partisan poll - - it's the average of all polls.

The Bush withdrawal plan

"Plans to hold a referendum that could have accelerated the withdrawal of American forces have quietly been shelved, as even those Iraqi politicians who were pushing for the poll conclude that it would no longer be a useful exercise. . . . Troop levels have been reduced since January by 23,000, to 120,000, and are scheduled to fall rapidly after the January elections, reaching 50,000 by August, U.S. officials say. The security pact was negotiated during the Bush administration . . ."

The anti war president has only managed to withdraw 23,000 troops from Iraq in 9 months, while strictly following the Bush withdrawal plan, being implemented by Bush's re-appointed secretary of defense and Bush's generals.

The anti Iraq war movement achieved nothing.

First visit to New Orleans

"Insisting he's "just getting started," President Barack Obama defended his administration Thursday against complaints from some residents of the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast that federal help in recovering from the 2005 disasters hasn't improved much since he took office. . . . As a candidate, Obama criticized former President George W. Bush's response to Katrina, when the government showed up late and unprepared and the Federal Emergency Management Agency became the object of widespread scorn. . . . Obama wanted to use his first visit as president to the Gulf Coast to listen to residents' concerns about the recovery effort."

Imagine the scandal it would have been if President McCain had waited 9 months to show up in New Orleans, after visiting numerous foreign countries first, and then only stayed for a few hours. Obama spent more time and effort in Copenhagen working on the Chicago Olympic bid.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Assault weapons: Another promise broken

"The United States should reinstate a Clinton-era ban on assault weapons to prevent such guns from reaching Mexican drug cartels, former officials from both countries said in a report released Tuesday. . . . During his run for office, President Barack Obama promised to push to reinstate the ban. He has since said he would rather enforce existing laws that make it illegal to send assault weapons across the border."

$250 payments to seniors

"President Barack Obama called on Congress Wednesday to approve $250 payments to more than 50 million seniors to make up for no increase in Social Security next year."

I seem to remember that when Bush did this, this idea was criticized as stupid and pointless . . . by some of the same people who will now support it.

Of course, people who supported the idea when Bush proposed it will probably now oppose it.

And, in my opinion, it's still a bad idea that's about buying votes, not fixing the economy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Afghan strategy 'weeks' away?

"After five intense meetings on his war-fighting strategy in Afghanistan, President Obama is finished gathering data and assessing all the options and is now "in the decision-making phase," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told Fox. "We have finished at the broad landscape level," Gibbs said. "We are in the decision-making phase now." Gibbs added that a decision is far from imminent -- possible even "several weeks" away."

Our troops in Afghanistan continue to face death daily, and still no one in charge can articulate what they're to do or why they're there.

Aid for oil producers?

"Saudi Arabia is trying to enlist other oil-producing countries to support a provocative idea: if wealthy countries reduce their oil consumption to combat global warming, they should pay compensation to oil producers."

If and when we reduce our oil consumption . . . let them eat sand.

Rev. Moon and the conservative movement

"From South Korea to South America, Rev. Sun Myung Moon married tens of thousands of couples in the Unification Church's largest mass wedding in a decade and potentially the last for the 89-year-old leader. The spectacle comes as Moon, the church's controversial founder moves to hand day-to-day leadership over to three sons and a daughter, though the Rev. Moon Hyung-jin, the 30-year-old tapped to take over religious affairs, insists his father is healthy and remains in charge. . . . Critics say the weddings show the church operates like a cult, brainwashing adherents into turning their lives and salaries over to Moon. In the past, Moon routinely paired off couples, with many first meeting on their wedding day."

The conservative movement should be embarrassed that it allowed Rev. Moon to buy his way to respectability through his purchase of the conservative-leaning Washington Times (and his employment of many conservative opinion shapers by the Times).

More North Korean missiles

"North Korea fired five short-range missiles off its east coast on Monday, news reports said, even as South Korea proposed working-level talks with its communist neighbor. South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing an unidentified South Korean government official, said the North test-fired two short-range missiles on Monday morning and three others on Monday afternoon from mobile launch pads. Yonhap said the missiles were surface-to-surface KN-02 rockets with a range of up to 75 miles (120 kilometers). The reported launches were the first since the regime conducted a barrage of seven ballistic missile tests in early July, and come despite signs North Korea is reaching out to rival South Korea and the United States after months of heightened tensions over its missile and nuclear programs."

So far, our "anti nuclear" policy is having no effect on North Korean (and Iranian) efforts to develop nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems.

What's the problem?

"In its search for fugitives, the FBI has begun using facial-recognition technology on millions of motorists, comparing driver's license photos with pictures of convicts in a high-tech analysis of chin widths and nose sizes. . . . But privacy advocates worry that the method allows authorities to track people who have done nothing wrong. "Everybody's participating, essentially, in a virtual lineup by getting a driver's license," said Christopher Calabrese, an attorney who focuses on privacy issues at the American Civil Liberties Union."

An individual voluntarily applies for a driver's license. The process includes sitting for a photograph. Why would anyone object to a search of those photos for the purpose of finding dangerous fugitives?

Sometimes it seems as if these organizations complain because they're paid to complain, even if there's nothing to complain about.

Iran: Now what?

"If Hillary Clinton was hoping to win Russian support for efforts to use a threat of sanctions to pressure Iran to come clean about its nuclear ambitions, her first trip to Moscow as secretary of state got off to a rocky start Tuesday. Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said that economic sanctions or similar moves during the current standoff with Iran about its nuclear program would be 'counterproductive.'''

Without Russian participation, sanctions against Iran will be ineffective.

What's the plan now?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Scoring banks

"Conservative Republicans are capitalizing on the troubles of community activist group ACORN -- ranging from charges of voter registration fraud to embarrassing videos of its employees -- to revive their long-standing fight against a federal law that grades banks on their investments in poor and minority neighborhoods. The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act was intended to end redlining, a practice in which banks in effect walled off many inner-city neighborhoods from mortgage loans. But some GOP lawmakers say it has outlived its purpose and is being used inappropriately by ACORN to shake down banks for money."

Banks should be scored by the government on the quality of their underwriting and on the creditworthiness of their borrowers.

If we continue to score banks by measuring the location, race or ethnicity of their borrowers, we are choosing to continue bailing out banks that make bad loans.

That is the choice.

Healthcare: What happens if Republicans take back Congress?

"President Barack Obama's effort to overhaul the nation's health care system is expected to clear its last committee hurdle Tuesday - but almost certainly without the strong bipartisan endorsement he and some moderate Republicans have sought. The Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote on a plan that would require nearly all Americans to get coverage, while barring insurers from denying people policies because of pre-existing conditions and imposing excise taxes on insurers' most expensive plans. The committee is the last of five congressional panels considering the measure. Once Finance is done, Senate leaders and the White House will merge the proposal with another one written by the Senate Health Committee over the summer, creating one bill likely to be considered by lawmakers later this month. Three House of Representatives committees also have finished writing bills, and those, too, will merge into one. Final House action also is expected in late October. In the Finance Committee, while virtually all 13 Democrats are expected to back the proposal, only one of the 10 Republicans, Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, is viewed as a possible supporter."

Any healthcare bill will be passed with little or no Republican votes. All the proposed healthcare bills are being drafted so they don't take effect until at least 2013, i.e., the actual effects (taxes, fees, penalties, mandates, etc.) won't be felt until Obama no longer has to run for reelection.

Put aside the question of why the solution to a so called "crisis" is not going to be put into effect immediately.

Ask yourself what happens if Republicans take back one or both houses of Congress in 2010 or 2012, and simply refuse to fund.

More Afghanistan

"The U.S. mission in Afghanistan is in "serious jeopardy" and needs more troops to turn the tide against an increasingly potent Taliban insurgency, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Sunday, putting her at odds with an influential Democratic colleague on military matters. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's views are more closely aligned with those of key Republicans than members of her own party. Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee, urged a more methodical approach that begins with crafting a new, comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan. "I'm saying at this time, don't send more combat troops," said Levin, D-Mich., who wants the emphasis to be on strengthening Afghanistan's own security forces so they can bear a greater share of the security burden. But Feinstein, D-Calif., whose post gives her access to sensitive information about the war's progress, said delaying the reinforcements also puts the forces already in Afghanistan at greater risk. She pointed to an Oct. 3 battle in northeastern Afghanistan in which eight U.S. soldiers were killed during an enemy attack on their remote outpost."

Even those who favor continuing the war in Afghanistan don't agree as to what to do or why we're doing it.

Just get out.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Anti terrorism and American Muslims

"As the FBI pursues one alleged terrorist plot after another, Muslim Americans are grappling with a widespread sense that the government thinks they all could be terrorists. In dozens of interviews across the country, McClatchy has found that the government's search for the enemy within is threatening to divide and destroy America's Muslim communities. "It's not a guilty complex; it's the stigma of being a Muslim and constantly having to defend religion," said Edina Lekovic, the communications director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council. "It causes people to give up and say, `Why should I bother? No one likes me. Why should I keep trying?'" Americans of all faiths support the government's efforts to keep them safe, but the war on terrorism looks different to those who find themselves under constant scrutiny because of their religion, ethnicity or both. Many American Muslims say the government's hunt for hidden enemies has tainted their mosques, charities and community centers by making them a front line in the war on terrorism. Many think that their mosques are filled with FBI informants because the government is treating their community more as suspect than as citizen and presumes Muslims guilty rather than innocent."

During World War II, German and Italian Americans never complained about any government efforts to root out Axis supporters in their communities. Instead, they volunteered and fought for their country.

Young Japanese Americans left family behind in "relocation centers", and fought in the U.S. armed forces, in the process demonstrating their community's patriotism and disproving the racist accusations of disloyalty.

Today, we should fight anti Muslim ignorance, bigotry and prejudice. We must recognize that the overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans have no sympathy for Middle Eastern terrorists. In fact, the overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans are not of Middle Eastern or Arab descent. On the other hand, don't complain if stopping people from blowing up more buildings hurts anyone's self esteem.

Health insurance mandates for young people

"Guy Lilavois is 'invincible.' He's not a superhero -- just healthy, happy and voluntarily uninsured. . . . That gamble has become a crucial point in the debate over healthcare reform and how to pay for it, as the proposals in Congress would mandate that everyone buy insurance or face steep penalties. Supporters of mandatory coverage, including President Barack Obama, say it's a key step in making insurance affordable for everyone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 19 million people age 18 to 34 don't have health insurance. That's about 27 percent of people in that age range -- the largest segment of Americans to go without. . . . Come Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee might move one step closer to taking this choice out of the hands of the invincibles, when it is scheduled to vote on its healthcare-reform bill. The committee's bill, as well as versions in the House of Representatives, include plans for ``individual mandates'' that would require all American adults to purchase insurance policies or face financial penalties."

Largely left unsaid in the healthcare debate has been the fact that a large portion of "the uninsured" are voluntarily uninsured healthy young people, "nearly 19 million people age 18 to 34", "about 27 percent of people in that age range", who are uninsured because they don't want insurance.

In other words, of the 30 million uninsured cited by Obama in his last major speech on the subject, nearly two thirds are voluntarily uninsured young people.

It's safe to assume that these voluntarily uninsured young people voted overwhelmingly for Obama. Who will they vote for when hit with new charges, taxes and penalties in an era of declining employment prospects for young people?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Afghan strategy

It looks like Obama will go with an alternative to the broader counterinsurgency strategy favored by Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal. We will continue the fight against al Qaeda, and learn to live with the Taliban:

"As the Obama administration reconsiders its Afghanistan policy, White House officials are minimizing warnings from the intelligence community, the military and the State Department about the risks of adopting a limited strategy focused on al Qaeda, U.S. intelligence, diplomatic and military officials told McClatchy. Recent U.S. intelligence assessments have found that the Taliban and other Pakistan-based groups that are fighting U.S.-led forces have much closer ties to al Qaeda now than they did before Sept. 11, 2001, which would allow the terrorist network to reestablish bases in Afghanistan and would help Osama bin Laden export his radical brand of Islam to Afghanistan's neighbors and beyond, the officials said."

As our soldiers patrol Afghanistan, how are they supposed to tell the difference between the Taliban and al Qaeda? It's not like they wear different color uniforms, or they walk around with a capital "T" or "A" on the back of their robes.

Charlie Rangel

Corruption is corruption, even when it involves a good guy who you wish didn't have to end his career this way.

Neither Rangel nor the Democratic caucus is doing anybody any favors by dragging out and delaying the inevitable resignation in shame.

Rangel should know that - - - he's the young hotshot who won the seat after scandal brought down Adam Clayton Powell.,_Jr.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Obama administration defends Sharia Law?

Obama's adviser on Muslim affairs, Dalia Mogahed, appeared on a British television show hosted by an extremist group to talk about Sharia Law:

“Miss Mogahed, appointed to the President's Council on Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships, said the Western view of Sharia was "oversimplified" and the majority of women around the world associate it with "gender justice". The White House adviser made the remarks on a London-based TV discussion programme hosted by Ibtihal Bsis, a member of the extremist Hizb ut Tahrir party. The group believes in the non-violent destruction of Western democracy and the creation of an Islamic state under Sharia Law across the world. . . . the two members of the group made repeated attacks on secular "man-made law" and the West's "lethal cocktail of liberty and capitalism". They called for Sharia Law to be "the source of legislation" and said that women should not be "permitted to hold a position of leadership in government". Miss Mogahed made no challenge to these demands and said that "promiscuity" and the "breakdown of traditional values" were what Muslims admired least about the West. She said: . . . "The majority of women around the world associate gender justice, or justice for women, with sharia compliance.” . . . Miss Mogahed, who was born in Egypt and moved to America at the age of five, is the first veiled Muslim woman to serve in the White House.”

Sharia law is broadly based on the Koran, and in its fundamentalist form in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia requires fasting, dressing modestly, the separation of men and women, death by stoning for adultery and homosexuality, and the removal of a hand for theft, and deprives women of all political, social, legal and economic rights or equality.

Why does a member of the Obama team defend sharia law and ignore attacks on “decadent Western democracy”?

At the Florida State Democratic Conference, Pt. VI

Cong. Kendrick Meek, candidate and likely Democratic U.S. Senate nominee, addressed the convention regarding health care.

He primarily spoke about the expense and hassle of dealing with your health insurer - - increasing premiums, long waits on the telephone, limitations on scheduled procedures, fees and reimbursements, etc.

That's how you talk to people with health insurance (the overwhelming majority of Americans) when you're attempting to reform the system. Why do the other Democrats address everyone as if we're all uninsured or uninsurable?

At the Florida State Democratic Conference, Pt. V

Another interesting ad in the official program: GreenbergTraurig.

Jack Abramoff's law firm.

And, they represented Stanford in setting up his businesses.

There is such a thing as dirty money.

At the Florida State Democratic Conference, Pt. IV

As U. S. Senator Bill Nelson is working the room, I get my 60 seconds face time.

I say, "I'm very concerned about the deficit. That's the long term risk. What are we going to do about it?"

Nelson's reply, "Well, the Finance Committee's healthcare bill cuts the deficit by over $80 billion dollars!", as he moves on to the next delegate.

The deficit is almost $1.5 trillion. Nelson's answer is an $80 billion cut, and he knows that the Finance Committee bill won't be the final bill, and everyone knows that healthcare reform will ultimately not result in any spending cuts. But, that's all he got.

At the Florida State Democratic Conference, Pt. III

Last night, Florida's Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is about to introduce Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink at the welcome reception.

Attempting to rally the crowd, Nelson asks, "Who do we want for governor?"

Before the Sink campaign staffers peppered through the crowd can respond, someone shouts, "Alan Grayson!" Laughter and applause follow.

And, it's true. If he jumps into any statewide Democratic primary, for any office, he'd win overwhelmingly.

At the Florida State Democratic Conference, Pt. II

To a large extent, the conference is a rally for healthcare reform and the public option.

But, when you open the official program for the conference, the full page ad on the front inside cover (the most expensive one) is for BlueCross BlueShield of Florida.

That tells you all you need to know as to whether the healthcare reform proposals jeopardize health insurers' profits or meaningfully regulate the health insurance industry.

At the Florida State Democratic Conference, Pt. I

I'm at the Florida Democratic Party 2009 State Conference in Walt Disney World.

What's striking is the ethnic breakdown. The delegates appear to be "majority minority", but the leadership on display so far is lily white.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama wins Nobel peace prize

for "changing the tone" of U.S. foreign policy.
Not for anything he's accomplished, but for "changing the tone".
Getting something before he's earned it has been great for Obama, but hasn't worked out so well for the rest of us lately.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

34 banks fail to make their quarterly TARP repayment

"The U.S. taxpayers' investments in smaller banks are increasingly at risk. In a sign that more banks are under great pressure from the recession, 34 financial institutions did not pay their quarterly dividends in August to the Treasury on funds obtained under the Troubled Asset Relief Fund (TARP). The number almost doubled from 19 in May when payments were last made, and also raised questions about Treasury's judgment in approving these banks as "healthy," a necessary step for them to get TARP funding. "The banks are not paying their dividends because they are worried about preserving capital," says Eric Fitzwater, associate director of research at SNL Financial. The Treasury Department says it cannot force an institution to pay dividends."

Imagine how many people we could have helped if we'd given assistance directly to the people who can't pay their mortgages rather than to the banks.

Record deficits

Remember all those crazy "tea baggers", with their wacky warnings of out of control deficits?

"The federal budget deficit tripled to a record $1.4 trillion for the 2009 fiscal year that ended last week, Congressional analysts said Wednesday. The Congressional Budget Office estimate, while expected, is bad news for the White House and its allies in Congress as they press ahead with healthcare-overhaul legislation that could cost $900 billion over the next decade. The flood of red ink flows from several factors, including a big drop in tax revenues due to the recession, $245 billion in emergency spending on the Wall Street bailout and the takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Then there is almost $200 billion in costs from President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill, as well as increases in programs such as unemployment benefits and food stamps. The previous record deficit was $459 billion and was set just last year."

Unless Obama has a stunningly successful run of economic good luck, he will go down in history as our most fiscally irresponsible president.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Another socialist dynasty in Greece

"Prime Minister George Papandreou . . . a Socialist, was sworn in after his crushing election victory over the scandal-battered conservatives . . . Papandreou, a former foreign minister and scion of one of Greece’s two main political dynasties, follows in the footsteps of his father Andreas and grandfather George, who both served several terms as prime minister."

Isn't it a contradiction in terms to be a third generation dynastic socialist prime minister? Democratic socialists used to oppose dynasties and inherited power.

Obama weighing next move in Afghanistan?

"US President Barack Obama moved closer to a crucial decision on the US-led war in Afghanistan after receiving a request from his commander to send in more troops, officials said on Wednesday. With the appeal for reinforcements in hand, Obama and his top advisers could start talking about committing yet more troops to the unpopular war later this week after a wide-ranging strategy review, the White House said. "It could happen as early as Friday, it could be next week," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters. As the NATO-led mission struggles to counter a spreading insurgency, Obama faces an appeal for up to 40,000 troops from the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. On Tuesday, the president [said] . . . he had no intention of reducing the US military force in Afghanistan, which will reach 68,000 troops by the end of this year, an administration official said on condition of anonymity. The choice for Obama may lie somewhere between keeping roughly the current level of troops or opting for the commander's "all-in" approach that would inject tens of thousands of additional troops into the fight against Islamist insurgents."

He was running for president for two years before the election, and he's been commander in chief for nine months. Isn't this something Obama should have thought about by now?

Guantanamo: It was a suicide

"A Navy criminal investigation has concluded that a Yemeni man found dead in the Guantanamo prison camps' psychiatric ward in June committed suicide, the detention center commander said Tuesday."

Don't expect any apologies to our military men and women serving in Guantanamo from those who wrote stories like this one:

Local law enforcement can't enforce immigration laws?

"The Obama administration is curbing the powers of an Arizona sheriff who has led one of the most contentious fights against illegal immigrants. Under an agreement involving local enforcement of federal immigration law, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputies will no longer have the authority to arrest suspected illegal immigrants in the streets in the course of their duty."

Why do local law enforcement officers need permission to enforce any law?

Isn't that their job?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Taliban leader cracking jokes

"Flanked by heavily armed fighters, the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban sat on a blue blanket, amiable and relaxed as he cracked jokes and mixed in threats of vengeance for deadly U.S. airstrikes. One day later, a suicide bomber attacked a U.N. office in Islamabad. Hakimullah Mehsud met with reporters Sunday for the first time since winning control of the militant group, quashing speculation that he had been slain in a succession struggle following the killing of his predecessor in a U.S. drone attack. He also described his group's relationship to al-Qaida as one of "love and affection." Osama bin Laden and other top al-Qaida leaders are believed to be hiding out in the remote border region with Afghanistan, possibly in territory controlled by Hakimullah."

As long as the head of the Taliban can hold a press conference and "crack jokes" with reporters, don't believe the spin that Pakistan is looking better.

More race and healthcare

"Black and Latino groups said Monday that they would begin an ad campaign aimed at urging swing state lawmakers in Congress to back overhauling health care. . . . Deepak Bhargava, the executive director of the Center for Community Change, which specializes in mobilizing grass-roots campaigns, countered, "If Congress fails to deliver a robust public option that most Americans want, it's communities of color that have the most to lose" . . . The organizers want to remind Democratic lawmakers who are facing tough midterm elections next year that the outcome of the health care debate will be a litmus test for how African-Americans and Hispanics vote."

Get that? An astro-turf group "which specializes in mobilizing grass-roots campaigns" is organizing "African-Americans and Hispanics" in support of healthcare reform.

Don't wait for all the media folks who accused opponents of Obamacare of "astro-turfing" and racism to be equally concerned about this development.

No death penalty for suspect in bombings of U.S. embassies

"The Tanzanian national indicted in the 1998 terrorist bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania will not face the possibility of the death penalty, according to a letter issued by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday. Holder's letter directed U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara "not to seek the death penalty" against Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani. CNN obtained the letter from the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. . . . The nearly simultaneous bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya; and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1998 killed 224 people, including 12 Americans."

This man bombed two U.S. embassies and killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

The Obama administration will not seek the death penalty.

What does a terrorist have to do to deserve the death penalty?

Making a mess of military morale

"Amid tension between the military and President Barack Obama over military action in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told a gathering of Army officers Monday that the Pentagon would follow any strategy that Obama orders. . . . U.S. military officers, both in Washington and Afghanistan, recently have expressed growing frustration with the administration and its prolonged debate over policy in Afghanistan. The administration is now reconsidering its strategy just months after it named McChrystal as its commander there, calling him the best military mind the United States has to fight a counterinsurgency war. McChrystal has asked for as many as 45,000 troops, but the White House said it needs weeks to consider that request, with some suggesting the United States may redefine its goals there all together. In an assessment submitted to the Pentagon, McChrystal that found the effort there could fail without more troops."

If you want to destroy military morale, first send troops into harm's way before you determine your strategy, and then publicly debate and undermine the generals in charge. That's what Obama's administration is doing.

Watch for several senior military resignations within the next 6 months.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Iran's "signs of progress"

"The White House said Sunday it sees signs of progress in confronting Iran's nuclear program . . ."

"Signs of progress" will be an Iran without nuclear weapons, or an Iran that no longer poses a threat to its neighbors, or an Iran that no longer supports terrorism, or an Iran that treats its people with respect, or an Iran that respects the democratic process. Until then, there are no "signs of progress" from Iran.

Bad for troop morale

"National Security Adviser James Jones today chided General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, for his public push for a big increase in American troops and said he expected that McChrystal and other military leaders "will be willing to present different options and different scenarios" as President Obama decides on his next step."

It's wrong to send troops into battle without a strategy. It's worse to send them into battle during a public debate over strategy.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Our Afghani friends

"An Afghan policeman conducting a joint operation with U.S. soldiers opened fire on the Americans, killing two of them before fleeing, an Afghan official said Saturday, raising fears that militants have infiltrated the ranks of Afghan forces. The U.S. military earlier said two American troops died in a firefight in Wardak on Friday, but declined to confirm any new details. Although Afghan forces have periodically turned their guns on international troops, training and working jointly with Afghan police and soldiers on patrols and operations are key to the U.S. strategy of curbing the spreading Taliban-led insurgency."

Which is worse? That our "allies" are shooting our troops, or that our military initially covered it up?

Women could lose?

Liberal / feminist columnist Ellen Goodman just noticed that "women could lose" in healthcare reform. Although "the pro-choice president" "said, 'If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan'", that's no guarantee.

If that's the case, why did she spend her summer making fun of town hall protesters? It turns out the protesters were not all wrong. Obama's word as to keeping your existing healthcare plan is no guarantee.

8 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan

"Militant fighters streaming from an Afghan village and a mosque attacked a pair of remote outposts near the Pakistani border, killing eight U.S. soldiers and as many as seven Afghan forces in one of the fiercest battles of the eight-year war."

It's getting worse over there, not better.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Anti Israel bias via Andrew Sullivan

Look at this anti Israel chart, courtesy of The Economist by way of Andrew Sullivan:

It "proves" that Israel is the "top military spender".

Of course, that's the "top military spender" per person (i.e., over $2300 per year per Israeli). And, there aren't too many Israelis.

But, if you look at the much smaller pie chart in the lower right corner, actual total "defense spending", Israel doesn't even get it's own slice. That's because Israel is in fact not one of the top defense spenders, and is lumped in with "rest of world".

Also, note how Israel is a "military spender", but the actual top spenders are "defense" spenders.

As they say, figures don't lie, but liars figure.

By the way, does anyone think Israel wants to have to spend all that money?

Smoothing the impact

"Fearing a backlash, Democrats worked to smooth the impact of sweeping health care legislation on working-class families Thursday as they pushed President Barack Obama's top domestic priority toward a crucial Senate advance."

If the plan has no additional cost and no additional impact, why do they need to "smooth the impact"?

Medicare drug costs will rise under Senate healthcare reform provisions

"Medicare recipients could see higher premiums for prescription drug coverage as a result of changes to complex provisions in a Senate health care bill . . . As the prescription benefit is designed now, taxpayers cover three-fourths of the cost of the benefit, while Medicare recipients pay the remaining 25 percent. The amendment would allow the new Medicare commission to recommend "reductions in federal premium subsidies" to the private insurance plans that deliver the prescription drug benefit."

In other words, seniors and retirees will eventually pay a greater share of the cost of their prescription drug benefit in order to subsidize healthcare reform.

I'll never understand why they are promising that more people will get better coverage without spending any more money or cutting anyone's benefits. Everyone knows that's a lie. They should have simply said, "More people and better coverage will cost more money, and it's worth it."

Friday, October 2, 2009

More unemployment

"First-time claims for jobless benefits increased more than expected last week, a sign employers are reluctant to hire and the job market remains weak."

Expect to see double digit unemployment in the next report.

And, remember, the real unemployment rate is at least one third higher, because the official number doesn't count "discouraged workers" who are no longer looking.


"In a vote of high drama, the bustling Brazilian carnival city of beaches, mountains and samba beat surprise finalist Madrid, which got a big helping hand from a very influential friend. Chicago was knocked out in the first round -- in one of the most shocking defeats ever handed down by the International Olympic Committee. . . . . "I'm shocked" Gosper said . . . "To have the president of the United States and his wife personally appear, then this should happen in the first round is awful and totally undeserving" . . . Obama had held out the enticing prospect of a Chicago games helping to reconnect the United States with the world after the presidency of George W. Bush."

Maybe people are getting tired of Obama always talking about how bad America was before January, 2009. I am.

More devolution

A few days ago, I wrote about the devolution of public morality from the death of Michael Jackson to the death of Ted Kennedy to the arrest of Roman Polanski.

I ended by asking, "What's next?" Today, we found out.

"Late-night host David Letterman acknowledged on Thursday's show that he had sexual relationships with female employees and that someone tried to extort $2 million from him over the affairs. CBS says an employee has been charged with attempted grand larceny in the case.",2933,558902,00.html

It's a tale of "sexual relationships" (plural) with "female employees" (plural), and Letterman's telling of the story got a big laugh on his show.

I guess if he's a big enough television star, an older married man is allowed to establish a harem among his staff at work.

You do remember that this is the guy who was offended by Palin's daughter's promiscuity.

Stopgap spending bills

"The House passed legislation on Friday to head off a government shutdown next week by temporarily extending spending on most federal programs at current levels. The bill also increases the budgets for lawmakers’ offices by more than 8 percent. The one-month stopgap measure, approved on a 217-to-190 vote, is needed because Congress failed to complete work on any of the 12 annual spending bills required to keep the government running."

When Republicans were in control, this type of "continuing resolution" was front page news, and cited as proof that the Republican Congress couldn't do the job. Remember?

Bigger news in the old days? Congress "extends spending" "at current levels" but "increases the budgets for lawmakers’ offices by more than 8 percent". That would have required condemnation on the editorial page of every newspaper.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hope, change and Arlen Specter

"The seesaw 2010 Senate race in Pennsylvania tips to Republican Pat Toomey, who has 43 percent to recently converted Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter's 42 percent, too close to call, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. This reverses a 45 - 44 percent tip to Sen. Specter July 22 and wipes out a 20-point Specter lead May 4, in the flush of Specter's switch from Republican to Democrat to escape a primary battle with Toomey. President Barack Obama's job approval rating in the Keystone State has dropped to a new low, 49 - 42 percent, the first time he has been under 50 percent in the state, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds."

Specter's conduct at the Thomas confirmation hearings was a national disgrace.

Specter's name then became a national punchline in the movie "JFK" (and by extension in Seinfeld's Keith Hernandez / "magic loogie" episode).

Recently, Specter's party switch (and his embrace by and of Obama) became the classic example of cynical, careerist, political opportunism. Further, it proved that "change" was an empty promise, if change meant another six years of Specter in office.

I'm not surprised Specter and Obama are bringing each other down.

New rules

"Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando has taken the heated rhetoric over healthcare reform to a new pitch by accusing Republicans of offering this as their healthcare plan: "Don't get sick" but if you do, "die quickly." . . . Grayson apologized Wednesday in a second floor speech, but it was not the one his critics wanted. He apologized to the dead and invoked the Holocaust. Citing a study showing thousands of Americans each die because they lack health insurance, Grayson said: "I call upon the Democratic members of the House, I call upon the Republican members of the House, I call upon all of us to do our jobs for the sake of America, for the sake of those dying people and their families. I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America."

So, what's the rule - - can you or can't you use "You're a Nazi!" rhetoric in the healthcare debate? Or, does it depend on who uses it?

I always thought that no one was supposed to.

Ugly American?

"Michelle Obama is ready for "a battle." She told White House reporters she sat next to Brazil's first lady during a G-20 economic summit dinner in Pittsburgh. "I adore her," Michelle Obama said. "But I said, 'I'm going to hug you now and then I'm going after you in Copenhagen.' And she said, 'You too.' So the gloves are off."

If Barbara or Laura Bush did that, it would be further proof that the First Lady was an arrogant, over bearing, "ugly American". Why isn't it now?