Government of the people, by the elected officials and appointed bureaucrats, for the elected officials, appointed bureaucrats and special interest groups that helped them get into power – Michael KaerySource
Yea sure sometime tomorrow night we will have elected a new Emperor and the evil Emperor George W. Bush will soon be history. But in reality nothing will have changed and government after the election will be just the same as government before the election.
John McSame is often used to say McCain is the same as Bush. But there isn’t a dimes difference between John McSame and Obama. After all John McCain and Barack Obama both voted to give the rich Wall Street brokers and bankers a $700 billion hand out of corporate welfare. John and Barack both voted to steal $2,333 from every man, woman and child in the USA and give it to rich Wall Street brokers and bankers. Since children don’t pay taxes John McCain and Barack Obama both voted to steal about $5,000 from every adult in America and give it to rich Wall Street brokers and bankers.
Obama and McCain both talk about bring change to America. The only change they will bring to America is the change in your bank account when they loot it and give it to the special interest groups that helped get them elected.
The only other change will be an already shredded Bill of Rights will trashed as your rights are destroyed so they can hire more Homeland Security thugs to protect you from imaginary terrorists.
Of course if Thomas Jefferson and his buddies were around today they would not be voting the election, they would be out with their guns hunting down and killing the enemy just like they did to King George!
Yea, new election, new Emperor, but nothing has change.
Clinton stays mum on tart response to questioner
By MATTHEW LEE and BARRY SCHWEID, Associated Press Writers Matthew Lee And Barry Schweid, Associated Press Writers – 27 mins ago
MONROVIA, Liberia – A close aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton dismissed as "psychobabble" the fuss over the secretary of state's barbed response to a questioner asking for her famous husband's opinion instead of her own. Clinton ignored questions about the episode as she wound down a marathon African trip Thursday.
Clinton had reacted strongly earlier this week when a Congolese student in Kinshasa asked her for the opinion of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, about an international economic issue.
"Wait. You want me to tell you what my husband thinks?" a wide-eyed Clinton asked Tuesday in response. "My husband is not the secretary of state; I am. So you ask my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I'm not going to be channeling my husband."
Asked Thursday about the impact of the widely reported exchange, Clinton was silent, then quickly launched into a glowing assessment of her 10-day tour of seven African nations.
Holding up the front page of a local tabloid, The Analyst, Clinton pointed to a smiling photograph of herself and a headline, "Hillary Arrives, Liberia Glees."
"I opened this newspaper and I think she looks like she's having great time," Clinton said.
Melanne Verveer, an ambassador-at-large for global women's issues and a longtime Clinton friend, said Thursday that the episode "was much ado about very little."
"I don't want psychobabble read into it," Verveer said during a conference call about the State Department's commitment of $17 million to combat gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Verveer added that "this whole question was very much a side event" during "an incredible discussion with college students who wanted to have a heart-to-heart discussion."
The Congolese student who raised the former president's name later approached Clinton insisting he had meant to ask about President Barack Obama instead of her husband.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said later that Clinton bristled because the question seemed to seek a male response instead of her view.
"As the question was posed to her, it was posed in a way that said, 'I want to get the views of two men, but not you, the secretary of state,'" Crowley said.
Clinton's African trip had just started last week when administration officials revealed that her husband was flying to North Korea to negotiate for the release of two American journalists being held for straying over the border.
Bill Clinton's mission succeeded, and media attention to his return with the two freed journalists stole the spotlight from his wife's trip.
Hillary Clinton then drew some negative attention for comparing a disputed Nigerian election with the 2000 U.S. stalemate that ended with George W. Bush winning out over Al Gore, who served as Bill Clinton's vice president.
"Our democracy is still evolving," Clinton said. "You know we had some problems in some of our presidential elections. As you may remember, in 2000 our presidential election came down to one state where the brother of one of the men running for president was governor of the state. So we have our problems too."
Don't blame me! I am a Libertarian! I didn't vote for Obama or McCain. Either of them is just as bad! Sadly this time around the Libertarian guy Barr was also a jerk!
Obama in Mountain West, knows his vulnerability
by Liz Sidoti and Kristen Wyatt - Aug. 14, 2009 07:11 AM
DENVER - Perhaps no region of the country better illustrates Barack Obama's political vulnerabilities than the mountain West, a region traditionally wary of the federal government.
He's hoping to ease some of those concerns in a Western swing blending town hall appearances and visits to national parks beginning Friday.
Democrats have made recent election inroads in the region by successfully courting independents, Republican crossovers and conservative-to-moderate loyalists in their own party. But it's these very voters - gun owners, civil libertarians, private property advocates - who seem to be turning away from the president across the country because of deep-seated concerns about expanding government and soaring budget deficits. They are people who bristle at big business bailouts and decry government's reach into their own lives. They don't see Obama's stimulus plan jump-starting the economy or boosting employment. They fret about the enormous price tags of his sweeping proposals to overhaul health care and revamp energy policy.
"People are ready to see him move beyond the rhetoric. People want to see jobs come back. We want to see the economy recover. So we're still, I think, waiting to see that," says Chris Lawson, 30, who voted for Obama last fall and says he doesn't regret it. The Littleton, Colo., resident expressed worries about health care in particular, saying: "We are clearly moving toward more government in more people's lives. ... That's not a good thing, more government."
Another Obama voter, Eric Schreiber, 44, of Denver argued it's too early to judge the president. But, he added, Obama definitely hasn't sold him on the health care overhaul. "It's a good idea to do health reform, but I think everybody wants to know more about how it will work," Schreiber said.
Obama is hoping he can allay such worries as he promotes his plan at town hall-style events in reliably Republican areas: Friday in Bozeman, Mont., and Saturday in Grand Junction, Colo., near the Utah state line. The first family also plans to visit Yellowstone and Grand Canyon to highlight the country's national parks.
Just eight months ago, the president took office with sky-high job approval ratings, the first Democrat since Lyndon B. Johnson to win the White House with more than 50 percent of the popular vote. He did it by cobbling together support that spanned the ideological spectrum. He pulled new voters - particularly left-leaning young people and minorities - into the process and turned out his Democratic base in droves. And independents, disaffected Republicans and middle-of-the-road Democrats put him over the top.
That coalition - coupled with a national desire for change after years of Republican George W. Bush - made it possible for Obama to win a slew of states that hadn't voted for a Democrat in years, Colorado and Nevada, among them. He also won New Mexico, a perennial swing state, came very close to winning Montana, and lost by just 9 percentage points in Republican John McCain's home state of Arizona. Still, Obama lost badly in ultraconservative Republican bastions, including Idaho, Wyoming and Utah.
Since his inauguration, Obama has watched his support slide nationally. It hovered at 55 percent in a recent AP-GfK poll, though other surveys show him under 50 percent.
Out-of-power Republicans have tagged Obama as a classic big-spending, big-government liberal, and those gripes may have resonated with independents and centrists who polls show have turned away from Obama or whose support is soft. The GOP's message may be particularly well-received in the mountain West, a region traditionally wary of the federal government.
"Democrats had some success last year. Since then, I think the president has slipped not just a little but a great deal," said Dave Hansen, head of the Utah GOP who once held the same position in Montana. "He's a charming, charismatic guy, but all of a sudden the issues are taking over, and it's not going over well."
Tracking polls by Gallup from January through June show that of the 10 states where Obama's approval rating was the lowest, five are in the mountain West. They include the two states Obama is visiting this weekend as well as Wyoming, Idaho and Utah.
Those findings raise the question: Will the recent Democratic successes in the region last?
"I don't think we can say that yet," said Bob Loevy, a political scientist at Colorado College.
Certainly Obama's successful nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court will help with the region's rapidly growing Hispanic communities, a pivotal Democratic-leaning constituency. And future trips to the West are certain between now and midterm elections next fall.
For its part, the GOP in the mountain West has its work cut out for it.
The party can't seem to even field strong candidates to challenge incumbent Democrats. Most recently, Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., decided against challenging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid next year in Nevada, even though the Democrat's job performance numbers are dismal.
These are the same folks who promise to give us fantastic and cheap universal health care? Nope those bozos are at the Federal level!
For Arizona jobless, the wait for benefits is agonizing
Unemployment checks arrive months late for some
by Chad Graham - Aug. 16, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Shirley Whattler lost her job at DHL a year ago and was living on $265 per week in unemployment benefits.
The Chandler resident was able to make partial payments on her mortgage until the money suddenly stopped in July. For weeks, she called and called the Arizona agency in charge of the program.
The few times she reached a live person, she was promised that the money was on its way. It never arrived. Then came the bank notice.
Whattler had to make a payment on her house or foreclosure proceedings would start.
Tens of thousands of struggling Arizonans have been stuck in limbo trying to collect unemployment.
And the waiting is painful. They're unable to find jobs. Their savings are gone. They can't pay bills. People have lost homes, apartments and vehicles. They've resorted to hocking valuables and skipping meals.
The Arizona Department of Economic Security manages unemployment benefits, and it has been overwhelmed by the worst recession in decades. Department officials are apologetic and say the recession is to blame. Operations are jammed with new and continuing claims, phone lines are flooded each day, and delays in paying out money are among the worst in the country.
The U.S. Department of Labor mandates that at least 87 percent of first-time payouts should reach people in 14 to 21 days. In the past year, Arizona met that deadline 68 percent of the time. Thousands of first-time filers in the state have waited months to receive their funds.
When people try to resolve problems, it can take hours to reach a real person at a DES call center. About a decade ago, Arizona stopped accepting unemployment claims in person and moved to a phone system.
The online experience is no better. A computer problem earlier this month left an estimated 46,000 Arizonans unable to file continued claims on time. The DES Web site continues to function at minimal capacity.
Whattler struggled for six weeks to restart her unemployment benefits under a federal extension. After repeated attempts to solve the problem, the money suddenly appeared in her account last week. "It was a huge mess," she said.
In February, as the recession continued to deepen, DES reported it was receiving 10,000 to 13,000 new claims per week compared with 4,500 to 5,000 per week in February 2008.
At that time, the agency was deluged with 8,000 calls per hour. Qwest had to step in and limit the number of calls that DES' unemployment system accepted so that callers weren't being placed on hold for hours.
Most states are experiencing similar problems. Some, such as California and Michigan, have had to borrow billions from the federal government to continue to pay unemployment benefits.
Phoenix resident Don Eamon was laid off from Kmart in February. He applied for unemployment immediately and expected benefits to start in a couple of weeks.
No money arrived in March or April.
The single, divorced father's savings dried up. Eamon borrowed money from his ex-wife and a daughter to make ends meet. He mowed lawns. He filled out online surveys that paid a few dollars apiece.
He called DES about 50 times to check on his delayed benefits. He got through twice and was told his claim was being processed but would be delayed because of a large backlog.
By May, no money had arrived. Eamon didn't have the $600 to cover his June rent. "I was within days of being homeless," he said.
Then, suddenly, the benefits arrived.
Eamon has just started a new job resetting merchandise layouts at grocery stores. He's grateful and knows things could have been much worse.
"It's really sad how all these people are hurting," he said. "I was one of the lucky ones; I did not go homeless."
Unemployment benefits were introduced in the 1935 Social Security Act to provide a financial buffer while Americans searched for work. The program has become critical during the current deep recession.
Arizona's job loss has been among the worst in the nation - and the steepest during any recession in the state since the Great Depression, according to Federal Reserve data.
Nearly 240,000 jobs have been shed since December 2007.
From August 2007 to August 2009, nearly 80,000 Valley homes have been foreclosed on.
Statewide bankruptcy filings were 3,174 in July, up 78 percent over July 2008 and the most since October 2005.
Interior designer Melinda Mattson lost her job at a Phoenix architecture firm in April and immediately filed for unemployment benefits.
Mattson expected to see a check by the beginning of May, but no money arrived. She was six months pregnant at the time.
She called and was told benefits were backlogged up to 16 weeks. There also had been a mix-up about her unused vacation time at her former job.
She continued to wait and try to contact DES again.
"I couldn't resolve (the delay) because I couldn't talk to anybody," she said. "I e-mailed and nobody got back."
She waited through the summer.
Mattson got so frustrated that she called the office of U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., which referred her to Arizona lawmakers.
The money finally arrived on July 30.
"I feel like I got a good resolution, because I ended up going to the extreme," said Mattson, who has since given birth to a baby girl.
Promise to improve
Ellen Katz, attorney and director of the William E. Morris Institute for Justice in Phoenix, received so many complaints about Arizona's unemployment system that her organization filed suit against DES in March to speed up benefits.
The institute, which advocates for low-income people, cited the agency's failure to meet timeliness guidelines.
Katz dismissed the lawsuit in April after DES officials laid out steps that would be taken to improve their operations, including adding more staff.
She said she is monitoring the situation, adding that DES' performance has improved slightly during the summer.
Phoenix secretary Tina Wells still needs answers.
She collected unemployment for a year until the money suddenly stopped coming in June. DES agents had told her that she was eligible for two federal extensions.
Wells was told the delay is partly due to the fact that the agency mistakenly thought it was missing documents, but then discovered that was not the case.
DES has repeatedly promised her that her money was coming.
She has not seen one cent.
Wells continues to look for a job. Without the unemployment benefits that were her only source of income, she has had to store her possessions at her boyfriend's house. Her truck has been repossessed. She sold the electronics she inherited.
"I'm single. I can't even pay my rent," she said. "They don't care. They're getting their paychecks. What do they care if I get one or not?"
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why is Congressman Harry Mitchell on a junket to Israel? I thought he was a congressman who represented Tempe? Not Israel?
Reps. Harry Mitchell and Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona were among 29 Democratic House members who spent last week in Israel on a fact-finding trip sponsored by the American Israel Education Fund.
Protester with gun didn't rattle Giffords
by Dan Nowicki - Aug. 16, 2009 12:20 AM
The Arizona Republic
The town-hall fury over President Barack Obama's proposed health-care overhaul dominated national politics last week, with protesters invoking their freedom-of-speech rights and top House Democrats denouncing town-hall disruptions as un-American.
Most critics are content just to bring their opinions and, maybe, a sign or two. But one protester this month brought a gun to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Congress on Your Corner event in Douglas. Police were alerted after he dropped the firearm.
"When you represent a district that includes the home of the O.K. Corral and Tombstone, 'the Town Too Tough to Die,' nothing's a surprise out in Cochise County," Giffords, D-Ariz., said Tuesday in an interview with The Arizona Republic Editorial Board. The man in question shouted "some pretty disparaging comments," Giffords said, but "at no point did I ever feel in danger and at no point did I ever feel there was a problem."
In other developments:
• Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who held a town-hall meeting Monday in Chandler, is criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., for characterizing noisy attempts to drown out health-care-reform supporters as un-American.
"Far from being an angry mob, the discussion was civil and courteous," Flake wrote the next day in a letter to Pelosi.
Outside Flake's event, however, passions ran high as some in the overflow crowd argued among themselves.
• Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., like Flake a foe of Democrat-backed health-care reform, also defended the integrity of a large group of critics who converged Aug. 8 on his Glendale office.
"These were salt-of-the-earth, everyday, hard-working Americans who didn't take their marching orders from anyone," Franks told The Republic.
• Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., is one lawmaker who needn't worry about aggressive questioning at his town halls. He's not holding any and won't say why, said his spokeswoman, Maura Cordova.
• Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl, both Arizona Republicans, hope to hold a joint telephone town hall this month.
• Reps. Harry Mitchell and Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona were among 29 Democratic House members who spent last week in Israel on a fact-finding trip sponsored by the American Israel Education Fund.
Both Mitchell and Kirkpatrick this month have been targeted by demonstrators and may have found even the notoriously tense Middle East a respite from the heat back home.
Nowicki is The Republic's national political reporter. Keep track of Arizona's congressional delegation on his blog, azdc.azcentral.com.
I saw a magazine called the Advocate in Frys today. I picked it up because it had one of Obmas campain posters on it and below it said in large letters NOPE. I knew the magazine would write off Obama.
I didn't realize that it was a gay magazine until I started reading it. The main article was about Obama and it said he was their hero at the beining of the election but up till now he has done absolutely nothing for gays. And it went on to say that while Obama has done nothing for gays their is a tiny tiny bit of hope that he will. But not much.
It's nice to see the gay crowd has written off Obama. Too bad they didn't write him off before the election and vote Libertarian.
I found the online edition of the magazine and here is a copy of the article
Hope and History
As a candidate Obama promised us a lot; as president he’s delivered very little -- and many gay people are getting impatient. Does the outcry unmask this president’s indifference, or reveal our own impotence as a movement?
By Michael Joseph Gross
From The Advocate September 2009
He looked like a hero, and that was the problem. Barack Obama seemed almost reckless with the truth, implausibly idealistic -- and (though we might not have said this out loud) we worried that America wasn’t “ready for a black president.”
After eight years of George W. Bush, we were sick of being excluded, sick of being hated. Hillary Clinton seemed the safer choice. We knew that she knew how power worked, and we wanted someone who could win. Moreover, many gay leaders -- the men and women with money and influence, whose success was built on cunning -- looked at her and saw themselves: making her way by wile, unafraid to sacrifice integrity when the game demands it.
But truth will out, and many placed their bets on Barack Obama, and when he took the lead in the primaries, he won over most of the rest. He talked to us -- and about us -- more, and more explicitly, than any nominee before him. And not just when he had to. Not just at Human Rights Campaign dinners. At black churches, in his stump speech, on the night he was elected: He said the word that every major candidate before him had found every excuse not to say. He named us. He said gay.
After his election Obama named someone else. The world’s most influential Protestant minister, Rick Warren, who campaigned against gay marriage, was asked to give the inauguration’s invocation. Obama tried to quell outrage and concern by restating his commitment to be “a fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans.” And during his first months in office, while he worked with Congress on the economic stimulus package and the wars, and laid groundwork for legislation to protect the environment and reform health care, we were on our best behavior, waiting for him to reveal his plans to keep his promises to us.
Momentum for gay equality kept building -- in the courts, in legislatures, and in culture. Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine legalized gay marriage -- which was, significantly, also endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Dick Cheney too announced his support for marriage equality, as did top Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, who managed John McCain’s presidential campaign. Polls showed clear majorities supporting repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” even among conservatives and churchgoers -- constituencies that had long been in favor of the antigay military policy. Still, through all of this, one word was conspicuously absent from the president’s vocabulary.
The hero was a player after all.
We began to see Obama differently. As the press took stock of his first 100 days, The Washington Post published an op-ed by Richard Socarides, a former adviser to Bill Clinton on gay issues, who called out President Obama’s inaction. A Post copy editor suggested the headline, “Where’s Our ‘Fierce Advocate’?” -- which inspired the title of a new regular feature on the MSNBC show hosted by Rachel Maddow, one of many journalists who began to ask, relentlessly, why the president dropped the ball on the Defense of Marriage Act, DADT, and other gay rights issues.
During a May 18 White House press briefing, Kerry Eleveld, this magazine’s Washington correspondent, asked press secretary Robert Gibbs what the president was doing to push for repeal of DOMA, and Gibbs had no answer. Soon White House correspondents from ABC, NBC, and Time.com were joining Eleveld in hammering Gibbs with questions about gay policies. What was Obama doing? Why not more, and why not faster?
Dan Choi, an articulate, telegenic Iraq war veteran and Arabic linguist who was booted from the Army after he founded Knights Out, a group of gay West Point alumni, became a leading spokesman for the movement this summer. He says a few TV producers told him, “We’re so grateful to you, because everyone says we don’t criticize the president enough, and this story lets us go after him” -- without expending any real political capital with the White House or with viewers.
Online, rhetoric reached helium pitch. Frustrated on the one hand with inaction in the White House and on the Hill, and on the other with what they saw as unacceptably incremental strategies pursued by gay rights groups, some activists vented in the virtual realm. One group wrote a document called “The Dallas Principles,” demanding “full civil rights for the LGBT community.” (Visitors to the website are offered two opportunities for action: They can sign an electronic petition asking House speaker Nancy Pelosi to expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include LGBT people, and they can download and print an image of pink flip-flops to send to the White House, asking President Obama not to “flip-flop” on DOMA.) On his blog, Bill Clinton’s gay former adviser David Mixner suggested a gay march on Washington for October -- an idea that was taken up by activists Cleve Jones and Dustin Lance Black. The website for the march features a blog with statements such as “I want it all and I want it now” and one opportunity for action: a video with instructions for making YouTube clips (tagged “LGBTMeetOnTheMall”) of yourself reading a scripted statement in support of equality. In the campaign’s first 23 days, YouTube videos were made by a total of 27 people -- most of whom identified themselves as straight allies.
On June 11 the Justice Department filed a brief making vigorous defense of DOMA in a California court. The White House first defended the brief, then apologized for it, but many in the movement erupted in fury. Prominent gay Democrats, including Mixner, millionaire WordPerfect founder Bruce Bastian, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders civil rights project director Mary Bonauto, and blogger Andy Towle, boycotted a major Democratic National Committee fund-raiser where Vice President Joe Biden gave the keynote address.
Pressure got results. The next week the president issued a memorandum granting same-sex partners of federal employees some benefits, but it didn’t include health insurance, which Robert Gibbs said would require an act of Congress. Then, to mark Pride Month, the White House held a reception for 200 prominent gays, from Quark founder Tim Gill to Vogue’s André Leon Talley. (One guest says the White House official who invited him also asked if he’d “behave.”) The president gave an impassioned speech, inviting his guests to pressure him, and drew a dramatic analogy: “I know that many in this room don’t believe that progress has come fast enough, and I understand that. It’s not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African-Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago.”
The following week brought even more signs that the administration was beginning to budge. Gibbs announced the goal of repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” by the end of the first term -- the first time the White House had named a deadline for repeal. A few days later Defense secretary Robert Gates declared that his department was considering interim measures to address the ban (which might include issuing an executive order to halt DADT investigations until the policy can be reviewed).
“The die is cast,” Socarides says. “This administration seems to respond to pressure on this issue. So, as a community, we have to have our own timetable, and we have to be focused like a laser beam on getting Congress and the White House to act on our schedule.”
I asked more than a dozen leaders of the movement how that can happen -- how we can move from receptions to repeal -- and their answers continually sent me back to one line from the president’s speech at the party in the East Room: Obama described the Stonewall rebellion as a moment when “these folks who had been marginalized rose up to challenge not just how the world saw them but also how they saw themselves.” The remark revealed, perhaps unintentionally, that this movement can make no meaningful progress until we confront an enemy that no one -- least of all the president -- can save us from.
“Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod are at the White House wondering, If we actually file a bill to end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,” is the gay movement willing to work, to do what environmental reform advocates are willing to do, to get its legislation passed?” says Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Gill Action Fund. “The question is, Are you ready to own your responsibility to the movement?”
History offers an uncomfortable answer. At the start of the 1990s, when Bill Clinton had a vision for America and we were part of it, gay people were intoxicated with excitement and a sense of opportunity. By decade’s end, the president had signed DOMA and “don’t ask, don’t tell.” “The movement was not honest enough with itself about our own failures,” Guerriero says. “The president caved to Congress because we didn’t show up and provide the air cover he needed with smart, strategic, robust activism.”
That’s because, on the federal level, “we don’t have an organization that fights for us with sufficient teeth in their arsenal,” says novelist, playwright, and gay rights pioneer Larry Kramer. “I’m sick of saying it, and everyone thinks I’m nothing but a curmudgeon. But I am approaching closer and closer to death, to my death, without being able to marry my lover, without being able to leave my estate to my lover without it being taxed into oblivion.”
Kramer’s tone isn’t curmudgeonly. It’s weary, almost shell-shocked. Gay activists in Washington are feckless, he argues, because they are enchanted by a false idea of power. “We are not here to make friends,” he says. “We are here to get our rights. And these two statements do not join together to blend into one happy halo.”
The national gay rights movement is trapped between activism and politics, between anger and ambition. We are trapped between wanting equal rights and wanting to get invited to parties at the White House. Even Joe Solmonese, the president of HRC, who according to Kramer represents the movement at its most complacent, suggests that to become real players we are going to have to start acting a little more like heroes: “One of the things our movement does not give enough appreciation and reverence to is ACT UP. Their rage. Their anger. But always with an endgame, always with a strategic center,” he says.
Kramer, who founded ACT UP in 1987 to address the AIDS crisis, says the group worked on very simple principles. “We all, hundreds of us, got ourselves in a room, and we planned very specific points of attack, and we divided the various plans into segments, each of which was taken over by one or another of our committees and put into operation. You go after the things that you want. Marriage, inheritance, adoption, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ repeal of DOMA. And then you start doing public demonstrations about each of them. Passing out detailed literature explaining the action. Naming names of the people who are preventing progress on these actions. You are merciless in confronting [those people], day after day. Consistency is so important. You have to be an activist every day, seven days a week, until you reach your goal. It’s not rocket science, any of this. You want something that somebody won’t give you? You find out how to get it.”
The gay movement today, he contends, lacks leaders with the level of commitment that animated ACT UP -- people who are willing to employ the shaming techniques that ACT UP used, and people who are willing to identify as gay first and foremost.
Kramer’s right on both points. Yet the problem is intractable. Shy of another dozen equally well-publicized Matthew Shepards or a new plague, it’s hard to see how a critical mass of gay people might be moved to experience themselves as “gay first and foremost,” how we might be moved to choose the radically separatist identity that has been, in our own history, our best weapon. Is it possible that the enemy has changed? If so, is it possible that different techniques are called for?
“I do not see a different enemy,” Kramer says. “The enemy is the enemy. We are hated too much by too many. And we are afraid to acknowledge this and to look it in its face for what it really is, hate, and to stare it down and fight it back. And become, as we did in ACT UP, our own heroes.”
There is in these remarks a huge amount of truth. There is also, I believe, a toxic measure of self-pity and sentimentality that ignores the progress we have made.
Our progress is measured by the generation gaps that fracture the movement. There is a gap between the ACT UP cohort and the daughters and sons of Will & Grace (who, having escaped the worst of the plague, don’t share their elders’ righteous anger except when they try) -- and another between the Will & Grace generation and the Facebook generation (most of whom don’t know a single person who has died of AIDS).
These gaps aggravate the mutual resentment of elders who see younger gays as lazy and entitled, and younger gays who see older ones as peevish and irascible. The gaps also create confusion about what our goals should be, because younger people want access to the very social institutions from which older people struggled to liberate themselves. The Stonewall generation and the ACT UP generation were defined by separateness. It was their salvation, the only way that they could live. It also defined their suffering, and it continues to define our suffering today.
To be, as Kramer and many of the ACT UP generation wish us to be, “gay first and foremost” is to make a fetish of our separateness. To win equal rights, we must not only reclaim the strongest parts of our collective history but also look beyond it.
Maybe there’s a good reason that we have yet to rise up and demand equality. Maybe most of us believe that ending the wars, fixing the economy and health care, and protecting the environment are more important than any of the gay rights legislation before Congress. If you offered me a choice between marriage equality and climate change, I’d choose climate change.
Unquestionably, a lot of us have been patient about progress on gay civil rights during these first months because we are still traumatized by the culture wars. We fought hard to get this president and Congress elected, and we don’t want to mess up their chance to fix what’s broken. But the window of opportunity for bold action on gay rights at the federal level grows narrower every day. Obama will probably never have as much political capital as he has now. Things will go wrong: Unemployment shows no sign of slowing, the wars could drag on for years. To move beyond this impasse we must learn not only from our history as a movement but also from our history as individuals.
The anxiety that a fight for equal rights for gays could derail this administration bears more than a passing resemblance to the anxiety that the world will end if you come out to your parents. For some people, of course, the world does end. For most of us, however, those fears turn out to be narcissistic fantasies. When we come out the truth does set us free. Usually, the people we feared would abandon us rise to the challenge and accept us.
We have to face the fact that we are in a moral battle and that the truth is on our side. Bruce Bastian says, “The president and Congress have really big items on their plate. I’m sure some politicians think, Why can’t the gays be patient? Well, every day that we’re patient we have more gay kids killing themselves. We have more soldiers getting their careers destroyed. We have more religious bigots convincing people to stay in the closet. You can’t get rid of bigotry with legislation, but you certainly can stall it. You can shut it up. Every day that we sit quiet and stay patient, we are losing people.”
Suspending “don’t ask, don’t tell” “is a winnable moral victory,” says Nathaniel Frank, the author of Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America. Frank thinks this issue, if framed in moral terms, could remind both gay and straight people of what we most admired about Obama in the first place. “Obama can’t get us out of the Middle East overnight or cure poverty or fix the environment with an executive order. But he can do this,” he says. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, the straight Irish Catholic Iraq war veteran who became chief sponsor of the House bill for repeal, makes the same point: “This is about speaking truth to power, choosing the harder right over the easier wrong. You have to expect people to do the right thing.”
To act with moral authority we must confront and dismantle our enemies’ fears. “The antigay Christians are afraid that we want to normalize homosexuality in the schools and that their kids will be taught that homosexuality is OK. They’re right. That is what we’re trying to do,” says Mitchell Gold, chairman of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture and founder of Faith in America, a nonprofit that fights religious prejudice against gay people. “I want gay 14-year-olds to know that it’s OK. What the president is looking for is to have this great educational epiphany with antigay opponents, but how is that going to happen?”
We need better tools for educating ourselves, our allies, and our opponents about our issues. Some of these tools are straightforward, old-fashioned techniques that have been honed in recent years at the state level. Groups like the Equality Federation and Gill Action have organized grassroots work that’s delivered unprecedented progress with staggering speed toward the goal of marriage equality -- which was, until the first Massachusetts same-sex weddings took place in 2004, an even more audacious concept than a black president. Legislators, mayors, and governors who worried they would lose elections if they supported us found out instead that we had their backs.
So far no elected official who voted for marriage in any state has been defeated, because a network of LGBT volunteers and straight allies knocked on doors, made phone calls, registered voters, and made sure that those lawmakers got reelected. At the state level this campaign strategy has created strong bonds between gay activists and other progressives -- labor, environmentalists, people of color -- and defied the common, counterproductive, and well-founded stereotype of gay activists as being unable to think of anything but ourselves.
We also need to be more intentional and strategic about telling our stories, not just expressing our opinions. Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, points out that most Americans have a false idea of the story of gay life. “Most Americans think we are rich, white, and live in big cities,” she says. “But most of us are middle-class or working poor. A huge number of us are LGBT folks of color. And we live in rural and suburban settings. We are not privileged -- economically or educationally -- any more than anyone else. Families who are already struggling to pay their bills and provide for their kids on top of that have to worry about being harassed on the job based on their sexual orientation. They fear that their families and communities will alienate them if they are honest about who they are. We have to show the toll it takes to live that lie -- that narrative of people living in fear. We have to give America a chance to feel empathy for these people.”
Chris Hughes, the gay cofounder of Facebook who ran Barack Obama’s online campaign -- a virtual arsenal of tools that, arguably, was the most decisive factor in Obama’s long-shot election -- says we haven’t even begun to tap the power of the Web to “tell the story not just of gay politics, but the story of everyday people who face injustice in their everyday lives.” We need an online resource, he says, that pulls together “a chorus of individuals who are united, focused, organized, seizing a political moment in order to pull it together in a political movement. This would send a powerful message to the White House, to the people who make the news, who decide what movies and books get made and published. A well-organized movement of people who tell their own stories loudly, together, diversely, would be the most powerful thing. That’s what’s missing right now.”
Hughes says no leaders of any national gay organizations have asked for his help or advice about how to create virtual mechanisms for creating publicity and leveraging action. Think about that. Not asking this guy for help is like having Marie Curie as your chemistry lab partner and letting yourself flunk out of school. (To his credit, Hughes is quick to add that he has not offered his advice to these organizations either.)
We also have to learn from the history of the liberation movements that preceded us. Since ACT UP we have done nothing on a mass scale to exploit the potential of passive resistance and nonviolent civil disobedience, the most effective, proven techniques of social action refined in the last century. Aside from a few rogue players who’ve applied for marriage licenses and small bands of activists like Soulforce (who’ve been arrested for trespassing on Christian college campuses where they try to instigate conversations about homosexuality) , we have not even tried. When gay soldiers get kicked out of the military, why don’t they refuse to leave? Why don’t the rest of us go to support them? Why haven’t we tried? HRC’s Joe Solmonese says such action “has to be organic.”
But the Montgomery bus boycott was not organic. Rosa Parks worked for the NAACP. She did not just wake up one morning and decide not to go to the back of the bus. Her choice was deliberate. It was planned. It was part of a strategy that entailed sacrifice, which is the basis of the greatest moral authority in friendships, families, businesses, schools, religions, governments, and societies. Martin Luther King Jr. was not considered the leader of the black civil rights movement until he was arrested. Who among us—and who among our leaders, who among those 200 that gathered in the East Room—is willing to be arrested to bring attention to our experience of inequality?
“When push comes to shove, we always get pushed,” says Rich Tafel, founding president of Log Cabin Republicans. “I want the chaos, the anger, the truth, whatever it is, to come out. Otherwise it’s a big Kabuki dance in Washington, fund-raising letters about nothing. Who’s willing to fast? Who’s willing to get handcuffed? This president will actually care. The last one didn’t.
“People like it when you appeal to their better angels. Because people want to be better. Most people do. They want to be appealed to.”
And we are going to have to make the appeal. It’s true that where we’re concerned he has expressed no shortage of understanding and good intentions. To the NAACP, he said, “The pain of discrimination is still felt in America…by our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights”—reiterating the analogy he made in the East Room. It’s as if he’s daring us: showing us the door is open, telling us to come in and get him. Even if his heart is in the right place, Barack Obama is not going to just wake up one morning and put you at the top of his list. His primary task right now is learning how to govern, learning how to work with Congress to get things done. His primary link to the Democratic caucus, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, is one of the most risk-averse human beings in Washington. Marsha Scott, a straight woman who worked closely with Emanuel when she was chief of staff in Bill Clinton’s personnel office (Scott also served as Clinton’s first liaison to the LGBT community), says, “Rahm can never stop thinking about winning elections. Rahm is good at governing effectively, but he’s not good on social justice issues. Rahm’s goal is to not lose one seat in Congress at midterms.”
He looked like a hero, and that was the problem. His apparent integrity frightened us at first. Then it became the reason we chose him. We voted for Obama because he appealed to our better angels, because we wanted to be better.
And it worked. One of the most profound and least remarked-upon effects of this presidency is the speed with which doubt that America was “ready” for a black president has come to seem absurd. That doubt, which was nursed by people of all races, has been exposed for what it is: a delicate hatred, or self-hatred, on its very best behavior.
We have him to thank for shattering that hatred, for showing us that, without knowing it, we were ready to do the right thing. Now it’s our turn to return the favor.
"State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, will host a pro-war, pro-Obama rally" - In the past Kyrstin Sinema was always on the anti-war side. Now Kyrsten Sinema is supporting war monger President Barack Obama!
I guess Kyrsten Sinema is a hypocrite who will take money from anybody who supports her socialist policies.
August 17, 2009
White House backs off health plan
Public insurance may be sacrificed to reach a deal
by Ken Alltucker - Aug. 17, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
The Obama administration hinted Sunday that it may back away from its plan to create a government-run health-insurance program that would compete with private insurance companies.
The so-called public option has been a key part of President Barack Obama's plan to overhaul the nation's health-care system and provide coverage to the nearly 50 million Americans who do not have health insurance. But it also has become the prime target for Republicans, private insurance companies and other opponents who consider it to be one of the most overreaching aspects of health-care reform.
Local groups planning to protest Obama's health-care plan when he speaks today before the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention said dropping the public option would be a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, they will show up in downtown Phoenix to criticize national health-care reform.
"People will still turn out in large numbers . . . because they are concerned about Washington dictating their health-care options," said Tom Jenney, president of the Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity, which is helping to organize one protest downtown.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday that a government alternative to private insurance is "not the essential element" of the administration's plan. The White House would be open to health-insurance cooperatives rather than a government-run program.
While liberals are still pushing for a government-run program, a switch to cooperatives may help Obama gain support for a reform package in the Senate. Obama had favored a government-run plan to help cover the nation's uninsured, but he didn't include it as one of his three core principles of controlling rising costs, improving the quality of care, and ensuring choice and accessibility.
The demonstrations planned today come on the heels of at-time raucous town halls held nationwide to debate the merits of competing health-reform proposals now making their way through Congress.
State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, will host a pro-Obama rally. Sinema, who serves on Obama's health-reform task force, will be joined by his grass-roots organization, Organizing for America.
The rally aims to raise awareness about the need for health reform and debunk rumors about the president's plan, said Sara El-Amine, a state field director for Organizing for America.
The Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity will join the national Tea Party movement, which protests higher taxes and government spending.
Jenney said his group's main beef with Obama's plan has been government-run health insurance, which he said could become a bureaucratic nightmare that wastes tax dollars. Jenney said he will encourage rally participants to offer their own critique of Obama's health plan.
"We'll just pass the bullhorn around to citizens who have something on their mind," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Obama slams wasteful nickle and dime spending by the military but doesn't say a word about the $2 trillion in corporate welfare he has handed out to failing Wall Street Bankers, bankrupt auto companies and other multi-million dollar corporations. He didn't even mention the tiny $2 billion cash for clunkers either he just signed.
Obama slams wasteful spending in speech to veterans
The Associated Press
August 17, 2009 - 10:25AM , updated: August 17, 2009 - 11:39AM
President Barack Obama addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention Monday, Aug. 17, 2009, at the Phoenix Convention Center.
Darryl Webb, TribunePresident Barack Obama took on both the defense establishment and freespending lawmakers on Monday, saying they were draining the nation's military budget with "exotic projects."
"If Congress sends me a defense bill loaded with a bunch of pork, I will veto it," he declared in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Obama protests, rallies heat up in Phoenix
Health care fight shadows Obama visit
He accused members of Congress of using the Pentagon budget to protect jobs back home, including on wasteful projects he said were diverting money needed for U.S. military forces battling everything from nuclear weapons to "18th century style piracy and 21st century cyber threats."
Obama thanked America's veterans and praised U.S. fighting forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he also spoke harshly of a "defense establishment (that) has yet to fully adapt to the post-Cold War world."
His speech, in the convention center in downtown Phoenix, was respectfully received by the veterans, who frequently interrupted him with polite applause.
Turning to the two current foreign wars engaging the United States, Obama spoke of fierce fighting against Taliban and other insurgents leading up to Thursday's national elections in Afghanistan.
He said U.S. troops are working to secure polling places so the elections can go forward and Afghans can choose their own future.
Attaining that peaceful future "will not be quick, nor easy," Obama said.
He said the United States still has a deep interest in the long-term outcome. "So this is not only a war worth fighting. ... This is fundamental to the defense of our people," he said.
He told the veterans that the U.S. didn't choose to fight in Afghanistan but was forced to invade that country to stop future Sept. 11-style attacks.
He said his new strategy recognizes that al-Qaida has moved its bases into remote areas of Pakistan and that military power alone will not win that war.
As to Iraq, Obama reiterated his commitment to remove all combat brigades by the end of next August and to remove remaining troops from the country by the end of 2011.
U.S. troops withdrew from cities and other urban areas in June.
At home, Obama noted that his administration was committed to increased spending on VA health care.
"And since there's been so much misinformation out there about health insurance reform, let me say this: One thing that reform won't change is veterans' health care. No one is going to take away your benefits. That is the plain and simple truth."
Obama said he was also directing each of the 57 regional VA offices "to come up with the best ways of doing business, harnessing the best information technologies, breaking through the bureaucracy."
He said the government would then pay to put the best ideas into action "all with a simple mission — cut these backlogs, slash those wait times and deliver your benefits sooner."
Assailing what he called wasteful spending, Obama told the VFW: "You've heard the stories, the indefensible no-bid contracts that cost taxpayers billions and make contractors rich."
He cited "the special interests and their exotic projects that are years behind schedule and billions over budget, the entrenched lobbyists pushing weapons that even our military says it doesn't want. The impulse in Washington to protect jobs back home building things we don't need has a cost that we can't afford."
Despite objections and veto threats from the White House, a $636 billion Pentagon spending bill was approved by a 400-30 vote in the House late last month. It contains money for a much-criticized new presidential helicopter fleet, cargo jets that the Pentagon says aren't needed and an alternative engine for the next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that military leaders say is a waste of money.
The Senate will deal with the spending measure in September.
The president laid out a vision of a nimble, well-armed and multilingual fighting force of the future, not one that was built to fight land battles against the Soviets in Europe.
"Because in the 21st century, military strength will be measured not only by the weapons our troops carry, but by the languages they speak and the cultures they understand," the president said.
He praised Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican and his opponent in the 2008 presidential contest, for joining him and Defense Secretary Robert Gates in opposing unneeded defense spending.
Shortly after Obama won the White House, McCain had pointedly suggested there was no need for the Marine Corps to bring on newer helicopters to ferry the president at a cost of billions of dollars.
"Now, maybe you've heard about this," Obama said of the helicopters. "Among its other capabilities, it would let me cook a meal while under nuclear attack. Now, let me tell you something. If the United States of America is under nuclear attack, the last thing on my mind will be whipping up a snack."
Text of Obama's VFW speech in Phoenix
August 17, 2009 - 10:44AM
Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared For Delivery
Fulfilling America’s Responsibility to Those Who Serve
Veterans of Foreign Wars
August 17, 2009
Thank you, Commander Gardner, for your introduction and for your lifetime of service. I was proud to welcome Glen and your executive director, Bob Wallace, to the Oval Office just before the Fourth of July, and I look forwarding to working with your next commander—Tommy Tradewell.
Let me also salute Jean Gardner and Sharon Tradewell, as well as Dixie Hild, Jan Title and all the spouses and family of the Ladies Auxiliary. America honors your service as well.
Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, I am honored and humbled to stand before you as Commander-in-Chief of the finest military the world has ever known. And we’re joined by some of those who make it the finest force in world—from Luke Air Force Base, members of the 56th Fighter Wing.
Whether you wear the uniform today, or wore it decades ago, you remind us of a fundamental truth. It’s not the powerful weapons that make our military the strongest in the world. It’s not the sophisticated systems that make us the most advanced. No, the true strength of our military lies in the spirit and skill of our men and women in uniform.
You know this. It is the story of your lives. When fascism seemed unstoppable and our harbor was bombed, you battled across rocky Pacific islands and stormed the beaches of Europe, marching across a continent—my own grandfather and uncle among your ranks—liberating millions and turning enemies into allies.
When communism cast its shadow across so much of the globe, you stood vigilant in a long Cold War—from an airlift in Berlin to the mountains of Korea to the jungles of Vietnam. When that Cold War ended and old hatreds emerged anew, you turned back aggression from Kuwait to Kosovo.
And long after you took off the uniform, you’ve continued to serve: supporting our troops and their families when they go to war and welcoming them when they come home; working to give our veterans the care they deserve; and when America’s heroes are laid to rest, giving every one that final fitting tribute of a grateful nation. We can never say it enough: for your service in war and in peace, thank you VFW.
Today, the story of your service is carried on by a new generation—dedicated, courageous men and women who I have the privilege to lead and meet every day.
They’re the young sailors—the midshipmen at the Naval Academy who raised their right hand at graduation and committed themselves to a life of service.
They’re the soldiers I met in Baghdad who have done their duty, year after year, on a second, third or fourth tour.
They’re the Marines of Camp Lejeune, preparing to deploy and now serving in Afghanistan to protect Americans here at home.
They’re the airmen, like those here today, who provide the close air support that saves the lives of our troops on the ground.
They’re the wounded warriors—at Landstuhl and Walter Reed and Bethesda and across America—for whom the battle is not to fight, but simply to speak, to stand, to walk once more.
They’re the families that my wife Michelle has met at bases across the country. The spouses back home doing the parenting of two. The children who wonder when mom or dad is coming home. The parents who watch their sons and daughters go off to war. The families who lay a loved one to rest—and the pain that lasts a lifetime.
To all those who have served America—our forces, your families, our veterans—you have done your duty. You have fulfilled your responsibilities. And now a grateful nation must fulfill ours. And that is what I want to talk about today.
First, we have a solemn responsibility to always lead our men and women in uniform wisely. This starts with a vision of American leadership that recognizes that military power alone cannot be the first or only answer to the threats facing our nation.
In recent years, our troops have succeeded in every mission America has given them, from toppling the Taliban to deposing a dictator in Iraq to battling brutal insurgencies. At the same time, forces trained for war have been called upon to perform a whole host of missions. Like mayors, they’ve run local governments and delivered water and electricity. Like aid workers, they’ve mentored farmers and built new schools. Like diplomats, they’ve negotiated agreements with tribal sheikhs and local leaders.
But let us never forget. We are a country of more than 300 million Americans. Less than one percent wears the uniform. And that one percent—our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen—have borne the overwhelming burden of our security. In fact, perhaps never in American history have so few protected so many.
The responsibility for our security must not be theirs alone. That is why I have made it a priority to enlist all elements of our national power in defense of our national security—our diplomacy and development, our economic might and our moral example. Because one of the best ways to lead our troops wisely is prevent the conflicts that cost American blood and treasure tomorrow.
As President, my greatest responsibility is the security and safety of the American people. As I’ve said before, this is the first thing that I think about when I wake up in the morning. It's the last thing that I think about when I go to sleep at night. And I will not hesitate to use force to protect the American people or our vital interests.
But as we protect America, our men and women in uniform must always be treated as what they are: America’s most precious resource. As Commander-in-Chief I have a solemn responsibility for their safety. And there is nothing more sobering than signing a letter of condolence to the family of serviceman or woman who has given their life for our country.
That is why I have made this pledge to our armed forces: I will only send you into harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary. When I do, it will be based on good intelligence and guided by a sound strategy. And I will give you a clear mission, defined goals and the equipment and support you need to get the job done.
That is our second responsibility to our armed forces—giving them the resources and equipment and strategies to meet their missions. We need to keep our military the best trained, the best-led, the best-equipped fighting force in the world. That’s why—even with our current economic challenges—my budget increases defense spending.
We will ensure that we have the force structure to meet today’s missions. That is why we’ve increased the size of the Army and Marines Corps two years ahead of schedule and have approved another temporary increase in the Army. And we’ve halted personnel reductions in the Navy and Air Force. This will give our troops more time home between deployments, which means less stress on families and more training for the next mission. And it will help us put an end, once and for all, to stop-loss for those have done their duty.
We will equip our forces with the assets and technologies they need to fight and win. So my budget funds more of the Army helicopters, crews and pilots urgently needed in Afghanistan; the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance that gives our troops the advantage; the special operations forces that can deploy on a moment’s notice. And for all those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, including our National Guard and Reserve, more of the protective gear and armored vehicles that saves lives.
As we fight in two wars, we will plan responsibly, budget honestly and speak candidly about the costs and consequences of our actions. That is why I’ve made sure my budget includes the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Iraq, after more than six years of war, we took an important step forward in June. We transferred control of all cities and towns to Iraq’s security services. The transition to full Iraqi responsibility for their own security is now underway. This progress is a testament to all those who have served in Iraq, uniformed and civilian. And our nation owes these Americans—and all who have given their lives—a profound debt of gratitude.
As they take control of their destiny, Iraqis will be tested and targeted. Those who seek to sow sectarian division will attempt more senseless bombings, more killing of innocents. This we know.
But as we move forward, the Iraqi people must know that the United States will keep its commitments. And the American people must know that we will move forward with our strategy. We will begin removing our combat brigades from Iraq later this year. We will remove all our combat brigades by the end of next August. And we will remove all our troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. And for America, the Iraq war will end.
By moving forward in Iraq, we’re able to refocus on the war against al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why I announced a new, comprehensive strategy in March. This strategy recognizes that al Qaeda and its allies had moved their base to the remote, tribal areas of Pakistan. This strategy acknowledges that military power alone will not win this war—that we also need diplomacy and development and good governance. And our new strategy has a clear mission and defined goals—to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies.
In the months since, we’ve begun to put this comprehensive strategy into action. And in recent weeks, we’ve seen our troops do their part. They’ve have gone into new areas—taking the fight to the Taliban in villages and towns where residents have been terrorized for years. They’re adopting new tactics, knowing that it’s not enough to kill extremists and terrorists; we also need to protect the Afghan people and improve their daily lives. And today, our troops are helping to secure polling places for this week’s election so Afghans can choose the future they want.
These new efforts have not been without a price. The fighting has been fierce. More Americans have given their lives. And as always, the thoughts and prayers of every American are with those who make the ultimate sacrifice in our defense.
As I said when I announced this strategy, there will be more difficult days ahead. The insurgency in Afghanistan didn’t just happen overnight. And we won’t defeat it overnight. This will not be quick. This will not be easy.
But we must never forget. This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people.
Going forward, we will constantly adapt our tactics to stay ahead of the enemy and give our troops the tools and equipment they need to succeed. And at every step of the way, we will assess our efforts to defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies, and to help the Afghan and Pakistani people build the future they seek.
Even as we lead and equip our troops for the missions of today, we have a third responsibility to fulfill. We must prepare our forces for the missions of tomorrow.
Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen adapt to new challenges everyday. But as we all know, much of our defense establishment has yet to fully adapt to the post-Cold War world, with doctrine and weapons better suited to fight the Soviets on the plains of Europe than insurgents in the rugged terrain of Afghanistan. Twenty years after the Cold War ended, this is not simply unacceptable. It is irresponsible. And our troops and taxpayers deserve better.
That is why our defense review is taking a top-to-bottom look at our priorities and posture, questioning conventional wisdom, rethinking old dogmas and challenging the status quo. We’re asking hard questions about the forces we need and the weapons we buy. And when we’re finished, we’ll have a new blueprint for the 21st century military we need. In fact, we’re already on our way.
We’re adopting new concepts—because the full spectrum of challenges demands a full range of military capabilities—the conventional and the unconventional, the ablilty to defeat both the armored division and the lone suicide bomber; the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and the Improvised Explosive Device; 18th-century-style piracy and 21st century cyber threats. No matter the mission, we must maintain America’s military dominance.
So even as we modernize our conventional forces, we’re investing in the capabilities that will reorient our force of the future: an Army that is more mobile and expeditionary and missile defenses that protect our troops in the field; a Navy that not only projects power across the oceans but operates nimbly in shallow, coastal waters; an Air Force that dominates the airspace with next-generation aircraft—manned and unmanned; a Marine Corps that can move ashore more rapidly in more places. And across the force, we’re investing in new skills and specialties. Because in the 21st century, military strength will be measured not only by the weapons our troops carry, but by the languages they speak and the cultures they understand.
But here’s the simple truth. We can’t build the 21st century military we need—and maintain the fiscal responsibility that Americans demand—unless we fundamentally reform the way our defense establishment does business. It’s a simple fact. Every dollar wasted in our defense budget is a dollar we can’t spend to care for our troops, protect America or prepare for the future.
You know the story. The indefensible no-bid contracts that cost taxpayers billions and make contractors rich. The special interests and their exotic projects that are years behind schedule and billions over budget. The entrenched lobbyists pushing weapons that even our military says it doesn’t want. The impulse in Washington to protect jobs back home building things we don’t need at a cost we can’t afford.
This waste would be unacceptable at any time. But at a time when we’re fighting two wars and facing a serious deficit, it’s inexcusable. It’s unconscionable. It’s an affront to the American people and to our troops. And it’s time for it to stop.
This isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. It’s about giving our troops the support they need. And that’s something on which all Americans can agree. So I’m glad that I have a partner in this effort in a great veteran, a great Arizonan, and a great American who has shown the courage to stand and fight this waste—Senator John McCain. And I’m proud to have Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—who has served under eight presidents of both parties—leading this fight at the Pentagon.
Already, I’ve put an end to unnecessary no-bid contracts. I signed bipartisan legislation to reform defense procurement so weapons systems don’t spin out of control. And even as we increase spending on the equipment and weapons our troops do need, we have proposed cutting tens of billions of dollars in waste we don’t need.
Think about it. Hundreds of millions of dollars for an alternate second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter—when one reliable engine will do just fine. Nearly two billion dollars to buy more F-22 fighter jets when we can move ahead with a fleet of newer, more affordable aircraft. Tens of billions of dollars to put an anti-missile laser on a fleet of vulnerable 747s.
And billions of dollars for a new presidential helicopter. Maybe you heard about this. Among other capabilities, it would let me cook a meal while under nuclear attack. I’ll tell you something. If the United States of America is under nuclear attack, the last thing on my mind will be whipping up a snack.
It’s simple enough. Cut the waste. Save taxpayer dollars. Support the troops. But we all know how Washington works. The special interests, contractors and entrenched lobbyists are invested in the status quo. And they’re putting up a fight.
But make no mistake, so are we. If a project doesn’t support our troops, we will not fund it. If a system doesn’t perform, we will terminate it. And if Congress sends me a defense bill loaded with that kind of waste, I will veto it. We will do right by our troops and taxpayers. We will build the 21st century military we need.
Finally, we will fulfill our responsibility to those who serve by keeping our promises to our people.
We will fulfill our responsibility to our forces and families. That is why we’re increasing military pay, building better family housing and funding more childcare and counseling to help families cope with the stresses of war. And we’ve changed the rules so military spouses can better compete for federal jobs and pursue their careers.
We will fulfill our responsibility to our wounded warriors. For those still in uniform, we’re investing billions of dollars for more treatment centers, more case managers and better medical care so our troops can recover and return to where they want to be—with their units.
But for so many veterans the war rages on—the flashbacks that won’t go away, the loved ones who now seem like strangers, the heavy darkness of depression that has led too many of our troops to take their own lives. Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury are the defining injuries of today’s wars. So caring for those affected by them is a defining purpose of my budget—billions of dollars for more treatment and mental health screening to reach our troops on the frontlines and more mobile and rural clinics to reach veterans back home. We will not abandon these American heroes.
We will fulfill our responsibility to our veterans as they return to civilian life. I was proud to co-sponsor the Post-9/11 GI Bill as a senator. Thanks to VFW members across the country—and leaders like Arizona’s Harry Mitchell in Congress—it’s now the law of the land. And as President, I’m committed to seeing that it is successfully implemented.
For so many of you, like my grandfather, the original GI Bill changed your life—helping you to realize your dreams. And it transformed America—helping to build the largest middle class in history. We’re saying the same thing to today’s Post-9/11 veterans—you pick the school, we’ll help pick up the bill.
And as these veterans start showing up on campuses, I’m proud that we’re making this opportunity available to all those who have sacrificed, including reservists and National Guard members and spouses and children, including kids who’ve lost their mom or dad. In an era when so many people and institutions have acted irresponsibly, we chose to reward the responsibility and service of our forces and their families.
Whether you left the service in 2009 or 1949, we will fulfill our responsibility to deliver the benefits and care that you earned. That’s why I’ve pledged to build nothing less than a 21st-century VA. And I picked a lifelong soldier and a wounded warrior from Vietnam to lead this fight—General Ric Shinseki.
We’re dramatically increasing funding for veterans health care. This includes hundreds of millions of dollars to serve veterans in rural areas as well as the unique needs of our growing number of women veterans. We’re restoring access to VA health care for a half-million veterans who lost their eligibility in recent years—our Priority 8 veterans.
And since there's been so much misinformation out there about health insurance reform, let me say this. One thing that reform won't change is veterans health care. No one is going to take away your benefits. That's the truth.
We’re keeping our promise on concurrent receipt. My budget ensures that our severely disabled veterans will receive both their military retired pay and their VA disability benefits. And I look forward to signing legislation on advanced appropriations for the VA so that the medical care you need is never held up by budget delays.
I’ve also directed Secretary Shinseki to focus on a top priority—reducing homelessness among veterans. Because after serving their country, no veteran should be sleeping on the streets.
And we’re keeping our promise to fulfill another top priority at the VA—cutting the red tape and inefficiencies that cause backlogs and delays in the claims process. This spring, I directed the departments of defense and veterans affairs to create one unified lifetime electronic health record for members of the armed forces—a single electronic record, with privacy guaranteed, that will stay with them forever. Because after fighting for America, you shouldn’t have to fight over paperwork to receive the benefits you earned.
Today, I can announce that we’re taking another step. I have directed my Chief Performance Officer, my Chief Technology Officer and my Chief Information Officer to join with Secretary Shinseki in a new reform effort. We’re launching a new competition to capture the very best ideas of our VA employees who work with you every day.
We’re going to challenge each of our 57 regional VA offices to come up with the best ways of doing business, harnessing the best information technologies, breaking through the bureaucracy.
And then we’re going to fund the best ideas and put them into action. All with a simple mission—cut those backlogs, slash those wait times and deliver your benefits sooner. I know, you’ve heard this for years. But with the leadership and resources we’re providing, I know we can do this. And that is our mission.
Taken together, these investments represent an historic increase in our commitment to America’s veterans—a 15 percent increase over last year’s funding levels and the largest increase in the VA budget in more than 30 years. And over the next five years we’ll invest another $25 billion more.
These are major investments, and these are difficult times. Fiscal discipline demands that we make hard decisions—sacrificing certain things we cannot afford. But let me be clear. America’s commitments to its veterans are not just lines in a budget. They are bonds that are sacrosanct—a sacred trust we are honor bound to uphold. And we will.
These are the commitments we make to the patriots who serve—from the day they enlist to the day they are laid to rest. Patriots like you. Patriots like Jim Norene.
His story is his own, but in it we see the larger story of all who serve. A child of the Depression who grew up to join that greatest generation. A paratrooper in the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne. Jumping in a daring daylight raid into Holland to liberate a captive people. Rushing to Bastogne at the Battle of the Bulge where his commanding general—surrounded by the Germans and asked to surrender—declared, famously, “Nuts.”
For his bravery, Jim was awarded the Bronze Star. But like so many others, he rarely spoke of what he did or what he saw—reminding us that true love of country is not boisterous or loud but, rather, the “tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”
He returned home and built a life. Went to school on the GI Bill. Got married. Raised a family in his small Oregon farming town. And every Veterans Day, year after year, he visited schoolchildren to speak about the meaning of service. And he did it all as a proud member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Then, this spring, Jim made a decision. He would return to Europe once more. Eighty-five years old, frail and gravely ill, he knew he might not make it back home. But like the paratrooper he always was, he was determined.
Near Bastogne, he returned to the places he knew so well. At a Dutch town liberated by our GIs, schoolchildren lined the sidewalks and sang The Star-Spangled Banner. And in the quiet clearing of an American cemetery, he walked among those perfect lines of white crosses of fellow soldiers who had fallen long ago, their names forever etched in stone.
Then—back where he had served 65 years before—Jim Norene passed away. At night. In his sleep. Quietly. Peacefully. The “tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”
The next day, I was privileged to join the commemoration at Normandy to mark that day when the beaches were stormed and a continent was freed. There were presidents and prime ministers and veterans from the far corners of the earth. But long after the bands stopped playing and the crowds stopped cheering, it was the story of a departed VFW member that echoed in our hearts.
Veterans of Foreign Wars, you have done your duty—to your fallen comrades, to your communities, to your country. You’ve always fulfilled your responsibilities to America. And so long as I am President, America will always fulfill its responsibilities to you.
God bless you. God bless all our veterans. And God bless the United States of America.
Obama gets some votes for his re-election in 2012 from the war-mongering Veterans of Foreign Wars crowd!
Health-care remarks draw biggest applause
by Dan Nowicki, Daniel González and
Ken Alltucker - Aug. 18, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Even in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, President Barack Obama couldn't escape the overarching issue of the day: health-care reform.
Though Obama's speech Monday to the VFW's national convention in downtown Phoenix included updates on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and a broadside against wasteful spending by the "defense establishment," the president drew the most positive reaction with promises not only to protect but also boost veterans' health-care benefits.
"Since there's been so much misinformation out there about health-insurance reform, let me say this: One thing that reform won't change is veterans' health care," Obama told the crowd of a few thousand mostly older veterans and family members.
"No one is going to take away your benefits - that is the plain and simple truth. We're expanding access to your health care, not reducing it."
At the moment, health care is weighing heavily on America's collective conscious.
Outside the Phoenix Convention Center, the health-care debate raged through protests and counterdemonstrations. Nationally, lawmakers and special interests criticized Sunday's news that the White House may be backing off a controversial "public option" in the evolving health-care legislation. The August congressional recess has been characterized by sometime-raucous town halls with angry constituents.
Obama's 33-minute speech at the annual VFW gathering, delivered about an hour earlier than scheduled, capped the president's third trip to Arizona since taking office in January.
Veterans in attendance confirmed their concerns about health care and generally praised Obama for his support.
"It surprised me that he was so in favor of the veterans' benefits, because we had heard that they were planning to cut them," said Paul Sausedo, 63, a Vietnam War veteran from VFW Post 6310 in Tolleson.
"But from what he said, they're going to improve our benefits for the veterans. I hope he comes through with what he has promised. He seems like he's real concerned about the issues."
Other veterans echoed Sausedo's sense of relief.
"I feel a lot more secure right now," said Stanley Wengert, 77, of Modesto, Calif., who served in the Air Force from 1951 through 1974 and had heard rumors that veterans benefits may be at risk.
Obama's remarks went to the heart of what is ailing many of America's former fighting men and women.
He said his administration and Congress are "dramatically increasing funding for veterans' health care" and characterized post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury as "the defining injuries of today's wars." He said his budget includes billions of dollars more for treatment and mental-health screenings to reach troops on the frontlines and to provide mobile and rural clinics to reach veterans back home.
"We will fulfill our responsibility to our wounded warriors," Obama said.
"But as the VFW well knows, for so many veterans, the war rages on: the flashbacks that won't go away, the loved ones who now seem like strangers, the heavy darkness of depression that has led to too many of our troops taking their own lives."
Sausedo said he has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder ever since he served as an Army infantryman in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967.
"I had recurring nightmares, nightmares of people I killed. Every so often, I wake up in a cold sweat thinking about it," said Saucedo, who said it's vital that returning Iraq and Afghanistan vets receive the treatment that he did not start getting until about four years ago.
"When I came home, I was very angry," he said. "That is how I lost my first wife."
In Phoenix, the veterans health system has used a large increase in funding to hire eight more psychiatrists to treat rising numbers of soldiers returning from war with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Within the last year, there has been a lot more support geared toward mental health," said Gabriel Pérez, medical director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System.
Monroe Todd, 60, commander of VFW Post 9560 in Folkston, Ga., said his post-traumatic-stress claim has stalled, but he was heartened by Obama's stated commitment to "cutting the red tape and inefficiencies that cause backlogs and delays in the claims process."
"He sounded good, but we hope the staff will be able to do it," said Todd, who served in Vietnam.
Dave Hampton, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Veterans Services, said the time it takes for benefits claims to be processed is a major issue and was encouraged to hear that Obama wants to cut the time.
"The amount of time is way too long, six to nine months," he said.
Obama said he directed the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to create one unified lifetime electronic health record for members of the armed forces aimed at cutting down on paperwork and reducing backlogs that delay benefits.
The administration also has directed the 57 regional VA officers to come up with ways to streamline the bureaucracy.
Richard Anderson, 69, a Vietnam veteran and chief of staff of the VFW of Tennessee, said he appreciated Obama mentioning the recently enacted Post-9/11 GI bill that will help spouses and children of veterans pay for college.
"That will be a big savings for parents," Anderson said.
At the event, Obama praised Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., for his work on the new GI bill.
Bill Talcott, 65, a Vietnam veteran and Republican who served in the Army, said he was impressed by the president's speech.
"He touched on all the right buttons. He said all the things we wanted to hear," he said, mentioning Obama's vow to defeat al-Qaida, support troops with the equipment they need and maintain health-care benefits to veterans.
I bet gun grabbers President Barack Obama and Congressman Harry Mitchell are mad they missed the chance to steal this mans gun!
Congressman Harry Mitchell is a lifetime gungrabber. As Tempe Mayor Harry Mitchell, Congressman Harry Mitchell passed a law making guns illegal on Mill Avenue. The law was later declared unconstitutional.
Perhaps Congressman Harry Mitchell should move to some third world police state where the goverment has disarmed it subjects. We don't need gun grabbers like Congressman Harry Mitchell in the USA.
And the big question is David Dorn going to start spreading lies that Chris is a government snitch because Chris doesn't like to give out his last name?
Get outta here David Dorn! Get off of my web page and never come back here you jerk!
August 18, 2009 |
Man makes legal point of right to bear arms
by Scott Wong - Aug. 18, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Neatly dressed in a white shirt, black tie and gray slacks, a man who identified himself only as Chris joined the health-care debate outside the Phoenix Convention Center on Monday with a pistol at his side and an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle on his shoulder.
Arizona is an "open-carry" state, which means anyone legally allowed to have a firearm can carry it in public as long as it's visible. A permit is required if the weapon is concealed.
"Because I can do it," Chris said when asked why he brought guns to the rally outside President Barack Obama's speech to the national VFW convention. "In Arizona, I still have some freedoms left."
"What he is doing is perfectly legal," said Detective J. Oliver of the Phoenix Police Department.
Detectives monitored about a dozen people carrying weapons.
This is at least the third time this month that a demonstrator has taken a gun to a health-care-related event. At an Obama town hall last week in New Hampshire, also an open-carry state, William Kostric, 36, formerly of Scottsdale, stood outside with a gun holstered at his thigh.
Early this month, a protester dropped a gun on the floor during a town hall with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
Obama flys to Phoenix on the taxpayers dime to get votes in the 2012 election!
Both wars are on course, Obama tells vets
By David Jackson, USA TODAY
President Obama told veterans Monday that his administration is on course to end the war in Iraq, win the conflict in Afghanistan and prepare for future military challenges. "We will do right by our troops and taxpayers," Obama said in Phoenix to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). "We will build the 21st-century military that we need."
Obama also pledged to improve health care for veterans and lamented that there has been "so much misinformation" about his proposals.
"One thing that reform won't change is veterans' health care," he said, "No one is going to take away your benefits." Obama said a health care overhaul will include new programs to improve electronic health records and reduce the number of homeless veterans.
In a speech devoted primarily to military policy, Obama said U.S. commanders will be flexible as they combat a resurgent Taliban on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. "We will constantly adapt to new tactics to stay ahead of the enemy and give our troops the tools and equipment they need."
A roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan killed a U.S. servicemember Monday, while an American civilian working for the military died after insurgents attacked a patrol in the east, the U.S. military said.
The military death brings to 22 the number of U.S. troops killed in August, as foreign and Afghan forces step up their fight against the Taliban-led insurgency raging in the country's south and east.
Obama told the veterans' group that victory in Afghanistan is essential because "those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again." He called the Afghan conflict "a war of necessity," as opposed to a "war of choice," his description for the Iraq war.
Afghans will elect a president and members of provincial councils on Thursday. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is seeking a second five-year term.
On Iraq, Obama repeated his pledge that the U.S. will begin pulling out combat brigades later this year. All U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, he said.
Obama also vowed to change the contracting process so troops have the best equipment at the lowest cost. Denouncing "exotic projects" such as an alternative engine for the F-35, Obama said, "if Congress sends me a defense bill loaded with a bunch of pork, I will veto it."
He praised congressional efforts to rein in wasteful Pentagon spending and singled out Arizona Sen. John McCain, his opponent in last year's election.
Obama drew laughter with one example of military waste: a new helicopter fleet that would allow presidents to cook amid a nuclear war. "If the United States of America is under nuclear attack," he said, "the last thing on my mind will be whipping up a snack."
Contributing: Associated Press
"A venue is considered a federal site when the Secret Service is protecting the president, and weapons are not allowed on a federal site" - Interesting! The Secret Service says the 2nd Amendment is null and void when the President is around!
Man carries assault rifle to Obama protest -- and it's legal
PHOENIX, Arizona (CNN) -- A man toting an assault rifle was among a dozen protesters carrying weapons while demonstrating outside President Obama's speech to veterans on Monday, but no laws were broken. It was the second instance in recent days in which weapons have been seen near presidential events.
A man is shown legally carrying a rifle at a protest against President Obama on Monday in Phoenix, Arizona.
Video from CNN affiliate KNXV shows the man standing with other protesters, with the rifle slung over his right shoulder, a handgun in a holster on his left hip and a bullet clip in his back pocket.
"I'm exercising my rights as an American in Arizona," the man, who refused to give his name, told KNXV.
Phoenix police said authorities monitored about a dozen people carrying weapons while peacefully demonstrating.
"It was a group interested in exercising the right to bear arms," police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill said.
Arizona law has nothing in the books regulating assault rifles, and only requires permits for carrying concealed weapons. So despite the man's proximity to the president, there were no charges or arrests to be made. Hill said officers explained the law to some people who were upset about the presence of weapons at the protest.
"I come from another state where 'open carry' is legal, but no one does it, so the police don't really know about it and they harass people, arrest people falsely," the man said. "I think that people need to get out and do it more so that they get kind of conditioned to it."
The man, wearing a shirt and tie at the health care rally, added that he was unhappy with some health care reform proposals.
"I'm absolutely, totally against health care, health care in this way, in this manner," he said. "Stealing it from people, I don't think that's appropriate."
Gun-toting protesters have demonstrated around the president before. Last week, a man protesting outside Obama's town hall meeting in New Hampshire had a gun strapped to his thigh. That state also doesn't require a license for open carry.
U.S. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan acknowledged the incidents in New Hampshire and Arizona, but said he was not aware of any other recent events where protesters attended with open weapons. He said there was no indication that anyone had organized the incidents.
Asked whether the individuals carrying weapons jeopardized the safety of the president, Donovan said, "Of course not."
The individuals would never have gotten close to the president, regardless of any state laws on openly carrying weapons, he said. A venue is considered a federal site when the Secret Service is protecting the president, and weapons are not allowed on a federal site, he said. [Interesting, the Secret Service says that all Arizona laws are null and void when the President is nearby! I guess the SS says the 2nd Amendment is also null and void when the President is around! Heil Hitler! I mean Heil Obama!]
In both instances, the men carrying weapons were outside the venues where Obama was speaking.
"We pay attention to this obviously ... to someone with a firearm when they open carry even when they are within state law," Donovan said. "We work with our law enforcement counterparts to make sure laws and regulations in their states are enforced."
Man carrying assault weapon attends Obama protest! So what! This is Arizona!!!!
Man carrying assault weapon attends Obama protest
By AMANDA LEE MYERS and TERRY TANG, Associated Press Writers Amanda Lee Myers And Terry Tang, Associated Press Writers – Tue Aug 18, 8:53 am ET
PHOENIX – About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside the convention center where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday — the latest incident in which protesters have openly displayed firearms near the president.
Gun-rights advocates say they're exercising their constitutional right to bear arms and protest, while those who argue for more gun control say it could be a disaster waiting to happen.
Phoenix police said the gun-toters at Monday's event, including the man carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder, didn't need permits. No crimes were committed, and no one was arrested.
The man with the rifle declined to be identified but told The Arizona Republic that he was carrying the assault weapon because he could. "In Arizona, I still have some freedoms," he said.
Phoenix police Detective J. Oliver, who monitored the man at the downtown protest, said police also wanted to make sure no one decided to harm him.
"Just by his presence and people seeing the rifle and people knowing the president was in town, it sparked a lot of emotions," Oliver said. "We were keeping peace on both ends."
Last week, during Obama's health care town hall in Portsmouth, N.H., a man carrying a sign reading "It is time to water the tree of liberty" stood outside with a pistol strapped to his leg.
"It's a political statement," he told The Boston Globe. "If you don't use your rights, then you lose your rights."
Police asked the man to move away from school property, but he was not arrested.
Fred Solop, a Northern Arizona University political scientist, said the incidents in New Hampshire and Arizona could signal the beginning of a disturbing trend.
"When you start to bring guns to political rallies, it does layer on another level of concern and significance," Solop said. "It actually becomes quite scary for many people. It creates a chilling effect in the ability of our society to carry on honest communication."
He said he's never heard of someone bringing an assault weapon near a presidential event. "The larger the gun, the more menacing the situation," he said.
Phoenix was Obama's last stop on a four-day tour of western states, including Montana and Colorado.
Authorities in Montana said they received no reports of anyone carrying firearms during Obama's health care town hall near Bozeman on Friday. About 1,000 people both for and against Obama converged at a protest area near the Gallatin Field Airport hangar where the event took place. One person accused of disorderly conduct was detained and released, according to the Gallatin Airport Authority.
Heather Benjamin of Denver's Mesa County sheriff's department, the lead agency during Obama's visit there, said no one was arrested.
Arizona is an "open-carry" state, which means anyone legally allowed to have a firearm can carry it in public as long as it's visible. Only someone carrying a concealed weapon is required to have a permit.
Paul Helmke, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said people should not be allowed to bring guns to events where Obama is.
"To me, this is craziness," he said. "When you bring a loaded gun, particularly a loaded assault rifle, to any political event, but particularly to one where the president is appearing, you're just making the situation dangerous for everyone."
He said people who bring guns to presidential events are distracting the Secret Service and law enforcement from protecting the president. "The more guns we see at more events like this, there's more potential for something tragic happening," he said.
Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said armed demonstrators in open-carry states such as Arizona and New Hampshire have little impact on security plans for the president.
"In both cases, the subject was not entering our site or otherwise attempting to," Donovan said. "They were in a designated public viewing area. The main thing to know is that they would not have been allowed inside with a weapon."
Representatives of the National Rifle Association did not return calls for comment.
Congressman Harry Mitchell a big time socialist who wants to raise your taxes!
August 22, 2009 |
Aura of respect needed in health-care discussion
by Harry Mitchell - Aug. 22, 2009 12:00 AM
With an issue as vitally important as health care, it's understandable that the debate would evoke impassioned responses from across the political spectrum. If we all tone down the rhetoric, and really listen to each other, I think we'd be surprised about how much agreement there actually is.
Most notably, most agree we're facing a serious problem. [Yes it is you government nannies who are forcing socialized medician on us!]
Rising health-care costs are hurting families - even those with insurance. Insurance premiums are rising due, in part, to the costs associated with millions of Americans who lack coverage. When the uninsured end up in emergency rooms, hospitals are forced to charge more to those of us who have insurance to help pay for it. The average American family is paying an extra $1,100 in premiums a year to pay for the shifted cost. [Because government tax and spend Congressmen like Harry Mitchell have passed laws requiring emergency rooms to provide free medical services to poor people! Repeal the stupid law and the problem is gone!]
Rising health-care costs are hurting businesses - even those that provide insurance. The strain is especially severe on small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy. Since 2000, health-insurance premiums for small businesses have risen 130 percent. This is particularly worrisome in Arizona, since 73 percent of our businesses are small businesses. [A lot of those rising costs are direct results of laws passed by Congressman Harry Mitchell which force health service providers to follow many silly expensive rules]
Employees also are at risk - even those with insurance. If they lose their job, or need to change jobs, it's difficult for them to keep their insurance, or obtain new coverage because insurers can currently deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. A number of Democrats and Republicans have called for an end to this practice, including me. [What rubbish! You're giving a corporate hand out to people that provide medical services because you think it will get you a few votes!]
Another concept that has drawn bipartisan support is the establishment of a health-insurance exchange, in which individuals and small businesses can combine or "pool" their purchasing power and comparison-shop for competitive rates that best meet their needs.
The risk pool would be spread across a wider scale, which would require insurers to compete and lower costs to gain business. I believe this makes sense. It's similar to the type of system used for members of Congress and federal employees, and if it has worked and can be expanded, others should be allowed access.
Finally, there are many Democrats who agree with Republicans that the federal government should not take over the entire health-insurance system. I'm one of them. [You are a liar Harry Mitchell - you are a tax and spend socialist!] If you like your current insurance, you should be able to keep it. Reform should provide more choice, not less.
There is common ground here upon which we can build. In my experience, that's the best place for discussion to start.
I have no illusion, as the debate continues, that we will hear more and more about areas of disagreement. This is an issue that is intensely personal and affects us all - even those with whom we may disagree. However, I implore everyone, on all sides of the debate, to remember that ultimately everyone is aiming for the same thing: the best, most affordable health care for us and our loved ones. So let's engage respectfully, and see if we can work together to achieve it.
And as with anything that comes out of Washington, I encourage you to verify information that's being circulated and visit my Web site, mitchell.house.gov, for information.
Harry Mitchell, a Democrat, represents Arizona's 5th Congressional District, which includes the northeastern suburbs of Phoenix and the communities of Cave Creek, Sunflower, Fountain Hills, Scottsdale, Tempe and Tortilla Flat.
Looks like that war in Afghanistan ain't going too well. Remindes me of good old Vietnam!
Afghanistan poses tough choices for Obama
Posted 8/24/2009 7:39 AM ET
By Richard Lardner, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON — With the nation's top military officer calling the situation in Afghanistan dire, President Barack Obama soon may face two equally unattractive choices: increase U.S. troops to beat back a resilient enemy, or stick with the 68,000 already committed and risk the political fallout if that's not enough. Adm. Mike Mullen on Sunday described the situation in Afghanistan as "serious and deteriorating," but refused to say whether additional forces would be needed.
"Afghanistan is very vulnerable in terms of (the) Taliban and extremists taking over again, and I don't think that threat's going to go away," he said.
Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is completing an assessment of what he needs to win the fight there. That review, however, won't specifically address force levels, according to Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
But military officials privately believe McChrystal may ask for as many as 20,000 additional forces to get an increasingly difficult security situation in Afghanistan under control. And one leading Republican is already saying McChrystal will be pressured to ask for fewer troops than he requires.
"I think there are great pressures on General McChrystal to reduce those estimates," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "I don't think it's necessarily from the president. I think it's from the people around him and others that I think don't want to see a significant increase in our troops' presence there."
Mullen also expressed concern about diminishing support among a war-weary American public as the U.S. and NATO enter their ninth year of combat and reconstruction operations.
In joint TV interviews, Mullen and U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry said last week's presidential election in Afghanistan was historic, given the threats of intimidation voters faced as they headed to polling stations. It could be several weeks, however, before it's known whether incumbent Hamid Karzai or one of his challengers won.
Charges of fraud in the election are extensive enough to possibly sway the final result, and the number of allegations is likely to grow, according to the independent Electoral Complaints Commission, the U.N.-backed body investigating the complaints.
Obama's strategy for defeating the Taliban and al-Qaida is a work in progress as more U.S. troops are sent there, Mullen said.
Three years ago, the U.S. had about 20,000 forces in the country. Today, it has triple that, on the way to 68,000 by year's end when all the extra 17,000 troops that Obama announced in March are in place. An additional 4,000 troops will help train Afghan forces.
Mullen said the security situation in Afghanistan needs to be reversed in the next 12 to 18 months.
"I think it is serious and it is deteriorating, and I've said that over the last couple of years, that the Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated," he said.
Just over 50 percent of respondents to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released this past week said the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting.
Mullen, a Vietnam veteran, said he's aware that public support for the war is critical. "Certainly the numbers are of concern," he said.
"We're just getting the pieces in place from the president's new strategy on the ground now," he said. "I don't see this as a mission of endless drift. I think we know what to do."
McChrystal's orders from Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were "to go out, assess where you are, and then tell us what you need," Mullen said.
"And we'll get to that point. And I want to, I guess, assure you or reassure you that he hasn't asked for any additional troops up until this point in time," he said.
Mullen and Eikenberry appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" and CNN's "State of the Union."
"Obama has said interrogators would not face charges if they followed legal guidelines" - looks like Obama is saying that torture is OK if your just following orders
"White House officials said they plan to continue the controversial practice of rendition of suspects to foreign countries" - Nothing has changed with Obama
CIA terror tactics spur changes, new probe
Aug. 25, 2009 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is setting strict new standards for treatment of terror suspects, as the Justice Department launches a criminal probe of past interrogation tactics during President George W. Bush's war on terrorism.
A newly declassified version of a CIA report revealed Monday that CIA interrogators once threatened to kill a Sept. 11 suspect's children and suggested another would be forced to watch his mother sexually assaulted.
The fresh crop of damaging revelations only intensified the long-running political fight about the secret interrogation program - whether it protected the United States then, and whether spilling its secrets now will weaken the nation's future security.
Top Republican senators said they were troubled by Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to begin a new criminal probe, which they said could hamper U.S. intelligence efforts.
And former Vice President Dick Cheney told The Weekly Standard, a conservative journal, that the decision "serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this administration's ability to be responsible for our nation's security."
On the other side, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the revelations showed the Bush administration went down a "dark road of excusing torture."
Holder said Monday he had chosen a veteran prosecutor, John Durham, to open a preliminary investigation to determine whether any CIA officers or contractors should face criminal charges for crossing the line on rough but permissible tactics. Durham already is investigating the destruction of CIA interrogation videos.
At the same time, President Barack Obama ordered changes in future interrogations, bringing in other agencies besides the CIA under the direction of the FBI and to be supervised by his own national security adviser. The administration pledged that questioning would be controlled by the Army Field Manual, with strict rules, and said the White House would keep its hands off the professional investigators doing the work.
Despite the announcement of the criminal probe, White House aides declared anew that Obama "wants to look forward, not back" at Bush-era tactics.
White House officials said they plan to continue the controversial practice of rendition of suspects to foreign countries, though they said that in future cases there would be greater safeguards to ensure such suspects are not tortured.
Monday's five-year-old report by the CIA's inspector general, newly declassified and released under a federal court's orders, described severe tactics used by interrogators on terror suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Seeking information about possible further attacks, interrogators threatened one detainee with a gun and a power drill, choked another and tried to frighten still another with a mock execution of another prisoner.
And other once-secret documents released late Monday show that parts of the CIA's tough treatment program continued even after Bush's September 2006 transfer of agency prisoners to the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden, appointed by Bush in 2006, expressed dismay at the prospect of prosecutions for CIA officers. He noted that career prosecutors already had reviewed and declined to prosecute the alleged abuses.
Obama has said interrogators would not face charges if they followed legal guidelines, but the report by the CIA's inspector general said they went too far - even beyond what was authorized under Bush era Justice Department legal memos that have since been withdrawn and discredited. The report also suggested some questioners knew they were crossing a line.
"Ten years from now we're going to be sorry we're doing this (but) it has to be done," one unidentified CIA officer was quoted as saying, predicting the questioners would someday have to appear in court to answer for such tactics.
The report concluded the CIA used "unauthorized, improvised, inhumane" practices in questioning "high-value" terror suspects.
In one instance cited in the new documents, Abd al-Nashiri, the man accused of being behind the 2000 USS Cole bombing, was hooded, handcuffed and threatened with an unloaded gun and a power drill. The unidentified interrogator also threatened al-Nashiri's mother and family, implying they would be sexually abused in front of him, according to the report.
The interrogator denied making a direct threat.
Another interrogator told alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, "if anything else happens in the United States, 'We're going to kill your children,' " one veteran officer said in the report.
Death threats violate anti-torture laws.
Investigators credited the detention-and-interrogation program for developing intelligence that prevented multiple attacks against Americans.
"In this regard, there is no doubt that the program has been effective," investigators wrote, backing an argument by former Cheney and others that the program saved lives.
But the inspector general said it was unclear whether so-called enhanced interrogation tactics contributed to that success. Those tactics included waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique that the Obama administration says was torture. Measuring the success of such interrogation is "a more subjective process and not without some concern," the report said.
The report described at least one mock execution, which would also violate U.S. anti-torture laws. To terrify one detainee, interrogators pretended to execute the prisoner in a nearby room. A senior officer said it was a transparent ruse that yielded no benefit.
We are royal rulers and can do anything we want! We are above the law and Constitution!
Cheney criticizes "political" CIA probe plan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney criticized President Barack Obama's ability to handle national security after the Justice Department appointed a special prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogation abuses.
Cheney, who has emerged as a vocal defender of Bush administration policies since leaving the White House, said the intelligence obtained from harsh interrogation techniques had saved lives.
"The people involved deserve our gratitude. They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions," he said in a statement dated Monday.
Cheney took issue with the Obama administration's decisions this week to have a special prosecutor investigate CIA prisoner abuse cases and to have a new group handling terrorism interrogations report to the White House.
"President Obama's decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel, and his decision to remove authority for interrogation from the CIA to the White House, serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this Administration's ability to be responsible for our nation's security," Cheney said.
Earlier this year, Cheney had asked the CIA to declassify two memos that he said showed the effectiveness of using harsh interrogation methods on terrorism suspects.
The CIA in May rejected that request, but on Monday released the documents, with classified portions blacked out.
"The activities of the CIA in carrying out the policies of the Bush Administration were directly responsible for defeating all efforts by al Qaeda to launch further mass casualty attacks against the United States," Cheney said.
Good riddance! He was just part of the American Socialist Police State Royality!
I have always hated his brother, John F. Kennedy's quote
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.Jesus the government takes two thirds of our income in taxes and John F. Kennedy says don't worry about what the government can give you for the taxes the goverment took, but instead bend over and offer to give the government more money!
Screw the Kennedys! They are just royal rulers!
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy dies from brain tumor at age 77
by Glen Johnson and Bob Salsberg - Aug. 26, 2009 09:30 AM
HYANNIS PORT, Mass. — Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the last surviving brother in an enduring political dynasty and one of the most influential senators in history, died Tuesday night at his home on Cape Cod after a yearlong struggle with brain cancer. He was 77.
In nearly 50 years in the Senate, Kennedy, a liberal Democrat, served alongside 10 presidents — his brother John Fitzgerald Kennedy among them — compiling an impressive list of legislative achievements on health care, civil rights, education, immigration and more.
In a brief statement to reporters at his rented vacation home on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., President Barack Obama eulogized Kennedy as one of the “most accomplished Americans” in history — and a man whose work in Congress helped give millions new opportunities. “Including myself,” added the nation's first Black president.
A source, speaking on grounds of anonymity because plans were still under way, told The Associated Press that Kennedy will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. At the eternal flame rests four Kennedy family members, including the former president, Jacqueline Kennedy, their baby son, Patrick, who died after two days, and a still-born child. Former Sen. Robert Kennedy F. Kennedy is buried a short distance away.
Kennedy's only run for the White House ended in defeat in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter turned back his challenge for the party's nomination. More than a quarter-century later, Kennedy handed then-Sen. Barack Obama an endorsement at a critical point in the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, explicitly likening the young contender to President Kennedy.
To the American public, Kennedy was best known as the last surviving son of America's most glamorous political family, father figure and, memorably, eulogist of an Irish-American clan plagued again and again by tragedy. But his career was forever marred by an accident at Chappaquiddick in 1969, when a car he was driving plunged off a bridge, killing a young woman.
Kennedy's death triggered an outpouring of superlatives from Democrats and Republicans as well as foreign leaders.
“If Teddy were here, .. as they say in the Senate, if you would excuse a moment of personal privilege, I personally think it would be inappropriate for me to say too much about the initiative we're announcing today and not speak to my friend,” Vice President Joe Biden said during a public appearance. He said he was “truly, truly distressed by his passing.”
“Teddy spent a lifetime working for a fair and more just America and for 36 years I had the privilege of going to work every day ... and being a witness to history,” an emotional Biden added. “Every day I was with him ... He restored my sense of idealism and my faith in the possibilities of what this country could do.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch, the conservative Republican from Utah who was alternately a political partner and opponent of the unapologetic liberal for three decades, said “Ted Kennedy was an iconic, larger than life United States Senator whose influence cannot be overstated.” He listed of nearly a dozen bipartisan bills they worked on jointly, including a federally funded program for victims of HIV/AIDS, health insurance for lower-income children and tax breaks to encourage the development of medicine for rare diseases.
Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., the longest-serving senator, said: “I had hoped and prayed that this day would never come. My heart and soul weeps at the lost of my best friend in the Senate, my beloved friend, Ted Kennedy.”
Kennedy's family announced his death in a brief statement released early Wednesday.
“We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,” it said. “We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all.”
A few hours later, two vans left the famed Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port in pre-dawn darkness. Both bore hearse license plates — with the word “hearse” blacked out.
Several hundred miles away, flags few at half-staff at the U.S. Capitol, and Obama ordered the same at the White House and all federal buildings.
There was no immediate word on funeral arrangements. Two of Kennedy's brothers, John and Robert, are buried at Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac River from Washington.
In his later years, Kennedy cut a barrel-chested figure, with a swath of white hair, a booming voice and a thick, widely imitated Boston accent. He coupled fist-pumping floor speeches with his well-honed Irish charm and formidable negotiating skills. He was both a passionate liberal and a clear-eyed pragmatist, willing to reach across the aisle.
He was first elected to the Senate in 1962, taking the seat that his brother John had occupied before winning the White House, and served longer than all but two senators in history.
His own hopes of reaching the White House were damaged — perhaps doomed — in 1969 by the scandal that came to be known as Chappaquiddick. He sought the White House more than a decade later, lost the Democratic nomination to President Jimmy Carter, and bowed out with a stirring valedictory that echoed across the decades: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”
Kennedy was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor in May 2008 and underwent surgery and a grueling regimen of radiation and chemotherapy.
He made a surprise return to the Capitol last summer to cast the decisive vote for the Democrats on Medicare. He made sure he was there again last January to see his former Senate colleague Barack Obama sworn in as the nation's first black president, but suffered a seizure at a celebratory luncheon afterward.
He also made a surprise and forceful appearance at last summer's Democratic National Convention, where he spoke of his own illness and said health care was the cause of his life. His death occurred precisely one year later, almost to the hour.
He was away from the Senate for much of this year, leaving Republicans and Democrats to speculate about the impact what his absence meant for the fate of Obama's health care proposals.
Under state law, Kennedy's successor will be chosen by special election. In his last known public act, the senator urged Massachusetts state legislators to give Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick the power to name an interim replacement. But that appears unlikely, leaving Democrats in Washington with one less vote for at least the next several months as they struggle to pass Obama's health care legislation.
His death came less than two weeks after that of his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver on Aug. 11. Kennedy was not present for the funeral, an indication of the precariousness of his own health. Of nine children born to Joseph and Rose Kennedy, only one — Jean Kennedy Smith, survives.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Kennedy's son Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., said his father had defied the predictions of doctors by surviving more than a year with his fight against brain cancer.
The younger Kennedy said that gave family members a surprise blessing, as they were able to spend more time with the senator and to tell him how much he had meant to their lives.
Kennedy arrived at his place in the Senate after a string of family tragedies. He was the only one of the four Kennedy brothers to die of natural causes.
Kennedy's eldest brother, Joseph, was killed in a plane crash in World War II. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down in Los Angeles as he campaigned for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination.
Years later, in 1999, John F. Kennedy Jr. was killed in a plane crash at age 38. His wife died with him.
It fell to Ted Kennedy to deliver the eulogies, to comfort his brothers' widows, to mentor fatherless nieces and nephews. It was Ted Kennedy who walked JFK's daughter, Caroline, down the aisle at her wedding.
Tragedy had a way of bringing out his eloquence.
Kennedy sketched a dream of a better future as he laid to rest his brother Robert in 1968: “My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.”
After John Jr.'s death, the senator said: “We dared to think, in that other Irish phrase, that this John Kennedy would live to comb gray hair, with his beloved Carolyn by his side. But like his father, he had every gift but length of years.”
His own legacy was blighted on the night of July 18, 1969, when Kennedy drove his car off a bridge and into a pond on Chappaquiddick Island, on Martha's Vineyard. Mary Jo Kopechne, a 28-year-old worker with RFK's campaign, was found dead in the submerged car's back seat 10 hours later.
Kennedy, then 37, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a two-month suspended sentence and a year's probation. A judge eventually determined there was “probable cause to believe that Kennedy operated his motor vehicle negligently ... and that such operation appears to have contributed to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.”
At the height of the scandal, Kennedy went on national television to explain himself in an extraordinary 13-minute address in which he denied driving drunk and rejected rumors of “immoral conduct” with Ms. Kopechne. He said he was haunted by “irrational” thoughts immediately after the accident, and wondered “whether some awful curse did actually hang over all the Kennedys.” He said his failure to report the accident right away was “indefensible.”
After Chappaquiddick especially, Kennedy gained a reputation as a heavy drinker and a womanizer, a tragically flawed figure haunted by the fear that he did not quite measure up to his brothers. As his weight ballooned, he was lampooned by comics and cartoonists in the 1980s and 90s as the very embodiment of government waste, bloat and decadence.
In 1991, Kennedy roused his nephew William Kennedy Smith and his son Patrick from bed to go out for drinks while staying at the family's Palm Beach, Fla., estate. Later that night, a woman Smith met at a bar accused him of raping her at the home.
Smith was acquitted, but the senator's carousing — and testimony about him wandering about the house in his shirttails and no pants — further damaged his reputation.
Kennedy offered a mea culpa in a speech at Harvard that October, recognizing “my own shortcomings, the faults in the conduct of my private life.”
Politically, his concession speech at the Democratic convention in 1980 turned out to be a defining moment. At 48, he seemed liberated from the towering expectations and high hopes invested in him after the death of his brothers, and he plunged into his work in the Senate. In his later years, after he had divorced and remarried, he came to be regarded as a statesman on Capitol Hill, with a growing reputation as an effective, hard-working lawmaker.
His legislative achievements included bills to provide health insurance for children of the working poor, the landmark 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, Meals on Wheels for the elderly, abortion clinic access, family leave, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
He was also a key negotiator on legislation creating a Medicare prescription drug benefit for senior citizens, was a driving force for peace in Ireland and a persistent critic of the war in Iraq.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada issued a statement that said: “Ted Kennedy's dream was the one for which the Founding Fathers fought and for which his brothers sought to realize. The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die.”
Former first Lady Nancy Reagan said that her husband and Kennedy “could always find common ground, and they had great respect for one another.”
“Even facing illness and death he never stopped fighting for the causes which were his life's work. I am proud to have counted him as a friend and proud that the United Kingdom recognized his service earlier this year with the award of an honorary knighthood.” — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Whatever his national standing, Kennedy was unbeatable in Massachusetts. He won his first election in 1962, filling out the unexpired portion of his brother's term. He won an eighth term in 2006. Kennedy served close to 47 years, longer than all but two senators in history: Robert Byrd of West Virginia (50 years and counting) and the late Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who died after a tenure of nearly 471/2 years.
Born in 1932, the youngest of Joseph and Rose Kennedy's nine children, Edward Moore Kennedy was part of a family bristling with political ambition, beginning with maternal grandfather John F. “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, a congressman and mayor of Boston.
Round-cheeked Teddy was thrown out of Harvard in 1951 for cheating, after arranging for a classmate to take a freshman Spanish exam for him. He eventually returned, earning his degree in 1956.
He went on to the University of Virginia Law School, and in 1962, while his brother John was president, announced plans to run for the Senate seat JFK had vacated in 1960. A family friend had held the seat in the interim because Kennedy was not yet 30, the minimum age for a senator.
Kennedy was immediately involved in a bruising primary campaign against state Attorney General Edward J. McCormack, a nephew of U.S. House Speaker John W. McCormack.
“If your name was simply Edward Moore, your candidacy would be a joke,” chided McCormack.
Kennedy won the primary by 300,000 votes and went on to overwhelmingly defeat Republican George Cabot Lodge, son of the late Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, in the general election.
Devastated by his brothers' assassinations and injured in a 1964 plane crash that left him with back pain that would plague him for decades, Kennedy temporarily withdrew from public life in 1968. But he re-emerged in 1969 to be elected majority whip of the Senate.
Then came Chappaquiddick.
Kennedy still handily won re-election in 1970, but he lost his leadership job. He remained outspoken in his opposition to the Vietnam War and support of social programs but ruled out a 1976 presidential bid.
In the summer of 1978, a Gallup Poll showed that Democrats preferred Kennedy over President Carter 54 percent to 32 percent. A year later, Kennedy decided to run for the White House with a campaign that accused Carter of turning his back on the Democratic agenda.
The difficult task of dislodging a sitting president was compounded by Kennedy's fumbling answer to a question posed by CBS' Roger Mudd: Why do you want to be president?
“Well, it's um, you know you have to come to grips with the different issues that, ah, we're facing,” Kennedy said. “I mean, we can, we have to deal with each of the various questions of the economy, whether it's in the area of energy ...”
Long afterward, he said, “Well, I learned to lose, and for a Kennedy that's hard.” Kennedy married Virginia Joan Bennett, known as Joan, in 1958. They divorced in 1982. In 1992, he married Washington lawyer Victoria Reggie. His survivors include a daughter, Kara Kennedy Allen; two sons, Edward Jr. and Patrick, a congressman from Rhode Island; and two stepchildren, Caroline and Curran Raclin.
Edward Jr. lost a leg to bone cancer in 1973 at age 12. Kara had a cancerous tumor removed from her lung in 2003. In 1988, Patrick had a noncancerous tumor pressing on his spine removed. He has also struggled with depression and addiction and announced in June that he was re-entering rehab.
Kennedy's memoir, “True Compass,” is set to be published in the fall.
——— On the Net: Kennedy's office: kennedy.senate.gov
If Obama says Kennedy was a great man that is proof Kennedy was a big time socialist!
Obama: Kennedy was greatest senator of our time
Posted 8/26/2009 1:04 PM ET
By Glen Johnson And Philip Elliott, Associated Press Writers
CHILMARK, Mass. — A grieving President Barack Obama paid tribute to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy Wednesday, calling him a colleague, counselor and friend who etched his place in history as a "singular figure" on the American political landscape. "Even though we knew this day was coming, we awaited it with no small amount of dread," Obama said. "For his family, he was a guardian. For America, he was a defender of a dream."
Wednesday morning's brief remarks by Obama, appearing tieless and coatless at a makeshift podium on the grass outside his rented compound on the island of Martha's Vineyard, were delayed several times as he and aides polished it. Obama had been awakened at his vacation home on this island off Massachusetts by a top aide just after 2 a.m. EDT and told of Kennedy's death. He spoke with the senator's widow, Victoria, around 2:25 a.m. and ordered flags flown at half-staff on all federal buildings.
The Massachusetts senator died late Tuesday night at his home on Cape Cod, Mass., after a yearlong struggle with brain cancer. He was 77.
"His fight has given us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank-you and goodbye," Obama said.
White House aides said that Obama plans to attend services for Kennedy but will let the family announce details of the schedule. They also said the president plans to speak about his former Senate colleague, whose endorsement came during a crucial time during last year's marathon primary contests.
Vice President Joe Biden diverged from planned remarks at an Energy Department event to talk at length -- fighting tears the whole time -- about his friend and colleague of many decades in the Senate.
"I truly, truly am distressed by his passing," Biden said haltingly.
The president cited Kennedy's counsel during Obama's short time serving as a senator from Illinois.
But probably Kennedy's greatest gift to Obama came during last year's presidential race. Kennedy, and his niece Caroline, shook up the Democratic establishment in January 2008 when they endorsed Obama over Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton at a critical point in the campaign. Kennedy lit up the Democratic base with his comparisons between young contender Obama and former President John F. Kennedy.
Then, risking his own health, Sen. Kennedy traveled to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, where Obama accepted the presidential nomination, to give a rousing speech on Obama's behalf. It was almost exactly one year before Kennedy's death. The senator also returned to the Capitol in January to see Obama sworn in as the nation's first black president, suffering a seizure at a celebratory luncheon afterward.
"I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the presidency," Obama had said earlier in a written statement.
Obama pointed out many people -- seniors, children, families -- whose lives have been improved by Kennedy's work on key legislation, saying many can now "pursue their dreams in an America that is more equal and more just, including myself" because of him.
"The outpouring of love, gratitude and fond memories to which we've all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives," the president said. "His extraordinary life on this Earth has come to an end. The extraordinary good that he did lives on."
Kennedy had been away from the Senate for much of this year, leading to speculation about the impact of his absence on Obama's health care proposals. Still, Obama said, "even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as president from his encouragement and wisdom."
Obama last met with Kennedy in late April, when he signed a $5.7 billion national service bill that tripled the size of the AmeriCorps service program over the next eight years and carries the senator's name. Kennedy championed the legislation with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, an example of Kennedy's work across party lines for his hallmark issues.
The pair spoke on June 2 about the health care overhaul effort and again on July 10, after Obama delivered a letter from Kennedy to Pope Benedict XVI during the president's visit to the Vatican, according to the White House.
"An important chapter in our history has come to an end," said Obama. "Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time."
White House aides were in contact with the family to coordinate details on final details of his memorial services.
Kennedy will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, according to an Associated Press source who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans have not yet been made public.
Kennedy's slain brothers, former President John F. Kennedy and former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, also are buried at Arlington, along with some other members of the family.
The White House said there were no plans for Obama to visit the Kennedys at their compound on Cape Cod. Instead, Obama took his family to a private beach after his remarks.
Hmmm.... And Obama says that he doesn't think employees of the American government who are doing this torture in "good faith" should be prosecuted. Ain't a dimes difference between Obama and George W. Bush.
CIA details tactics in questioning detainees
Aug. 26, 2009 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - As the session begins, the detainee stands naked, except for a hood covering his head. Guards shackle his arms and legs, then slip a small collar around his neck. The collar will be used later; according to CIA guidelines for interrogations, it will serve as a handle for slamming the detainee's head against a wall.
Five years after the CIA's secret detention program came to light, much is known about the spy agency's decision to use harsh techniques to pry information from suspected al-Qaida leaders. Now, with the release late Monday of guidelines for interrogating high-value detainees, the agency has provided the first detailed description of the procedures used to crush a detainee's will to resist.
"Certain interrogation techniques place the detainee in more physical and psychological stress and, therefore, are considered more effective tools," according to the memo, released under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Amnesty International USA and the American Civil Liberties Union.
In the initial days of detention, an assessment interview would determine whether the captive would cooperate willingly. If no such leads were volunteered, a coercive phase would begin.
Interrogations at CIA prisons occurred in special cells outfitted on one side with a plywood wall, to prevent severe head injuries. The nude, hooded detainee would be placed against the wall and shackled. Then the questioning would begin.
If there is no response, the interrogator would use an "insult slap" to immediately "correct the detainee or provide a consequence to a detainee's response."
Each failure would be met with increasingly harsher tactics. After slamming a detainee's head against the plywood barrier multiple times, the interrogator could douse him with water; or deprive him of toilet facilities and force him to wear a soiled diaper; or make him stand or kneel for long periods while shackled in a painful position.
Just what part of the Constitution gives the feds the power to ban phone calls? And what part of the First Admendment says "execpt for phone calls"? I don't hear an answer. Does that mean this law is unconstitutional?
Notice the unconstitional ban on calls doesn't included call the government nannies make to you trying to get re-elected.
Government to restrict 'robocall' annoyance
by Deborah Yao - Aug. 27, 2009 12:27 PM
Associated Press .
Americans tired of having their dinners interrupted by phone calls touting car warranties or vacation packages will soon get some relief.
The Federal Trade Commission said Thursday it is banning many types of prerecorded telemarketing solicitations, known as robocalls. Currently, consumers must specifically join a do-not-call list to avoid them. Starting Sept. 1, telemarketers will first need written permission from the customer to make such calls.
"American consumers have made it crystal clear that few things annoy them more than the billions of commercial telemarketing robocalls they receive every year," said Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the FTC. Violators will face penalties of up to $16,000 per call.
Don't expect phone solicitations to disappear completely, though.
Calls that are not trying to sell goods and services to consumers will be exempt, such as those that provide information like flight cancellations and delivery notices and those from debt collectors.
Other calls not covered include those from politicians, charities that contact consumers directly, banks, insurers, phone companies, surveys and certain health care messages such as prescription notifications. The FTC said those don't fall under its jurisdiction.
And calls made by humans rather than automated systems will still be allowed, unless the phone number is on the National Do Not Call Registry.
But the FTC said the ban should cover most robocalls, forcing marketers to turn to more expensive live calls, or ramp up efforts in direct mail, e-mail and TV ads.
The ban is part of amendments to the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule announced a year ago.
Because the ban has been known, telemarketers already have been phasing out robocalls, said Tim Searcy, chief executive of the American Teleservices Association, a trade group whose members include telemarketers.
He said the public won't see much of a change.
"For the consumer, the behavior is going to look the same Sept. 1 as it did Aug. 31," he said.
Searcy also said the ban will do little to stop calls touting illegal scams.
People who get an unauthorized call can file complaints with the commission online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.
"If consumers think they're being harassed by robocallers, they need to let us know, and we will go after them," Leibowitz said.
Ain't a dimes worth of difference between Obama and Bush! They are both police state war mongers! Well Obama has a nicer personality and you will thank him after he reams you!
I can understand customs searching people for illegal contraband like drugs when they enter the USA. But searching your computer files and reading your private papers looking for illegal thoughts seems like a violation of the 4th and perhaps the 1st and 5th Amendments,
Bush policy on searching travelers will be retained
by Ellen Nakashima - Aug. 28, 2009 12:00 AM
Washington Post .
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration will largely preserve Bush-era procedures allowing the government to search, without suspicion of wrongdoing, the contents of a traveler's laptop computer, cellphone or other electronic device, although officials said new policies would expand oversight of such inspections.
The policy, disclosed Thursday in a pair of Department of Homeland Security directives, describes more fully than did the Bush administration the procedures by which travelers' laptops, iPods, cameras and other digital devices can be searched and seized when they cross a U.S. border. And it sets time limits for completing searches.
But representatives of civil-liberties and travelers groups say they see little substantive difference between the Bush-era policy, which prompted controversy, and this one.
"It provides a lot of procedural safeguards, but it doesn't deal with the fundamental problem, which is that under the policy, government officials are free to search people's laptops and cellphones for any reason whatsoever," said Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday framed the new policy as an enhancement of oversight.
"Keeping Americans safe in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully screen materials entering the United States," she said. "The new directives . . . strike the balance between respecting the civil liberties and privacy of all travelers while ensuring DHS can take the lawful actions necessary to secure our borders."
We are not a nation where the law is applyed equally to everybody!
Government rulers always try to say the everybody is equal under the law, but that is a bold face lie!
CIA probe shows Holder's sway
Prosecutor appointment sheds light on influence of Justice Department
by Carrie Johnson and Anne E. Kornblut - Aug. 28, 2009 12:00 AM
Washington Post .
WASHINGTON - Five weeks ago, faced with a crucial decision on how to react to brutal CIA interrogation practices, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. concluded it would be all but impossible to follow President Barack Obama's mandate to move forward, rather than investigate divisive episodes from the Bush war on terror.
Holder notified the White House that he reluctantly was leaning toward naming a prosecutor to review whether laws had been broken during interrogations - the very thing Obama had said he wanted to avoid. And the word he got back, according to people familiar with the conversations, was that the decision was up to him.
The back story to Monday's appointment of career prosecutor John Durham illustrates Holder's influence in the new administration and sheds light on the emerging and delicate relationship between the White House and the Justice Department. In this and other big battles, including the decision to release memos earlier this year by Bush administration officials giving the green light to harsh interrogation tactics, Holder and his Justice Department have prevailed over strong objections from the CIA and the intelligence community. Holder hasn't won every one of those battles, but he has won many. In this case, on a matter of civil liberties and national security, it signals a dynamic that could play out on a range of sensitive issues that will come to define the Obama administration.
Administrations dating at least back to the Richard M. Nixon have grappled with the balance between political sensibilities in the White House and the independence of the attorney general, the nation's top law enforcement officer.
This week, after Holder announced his decision to examine about 10 cases of detainee abuse by CIA interrogators in overseas prisons, the Obama White House described it as Holder's prerogative. But the official accounts did not mention Holder's conversations with the White House, nor Obama's own deep, if cautious, engagement with the issues.
"There are some things he recognizes are the attorney general's prerogative to do, but at the same time, it's not like he just says, 'Well, whatever he does, he'll do,' " a senior administration official said of the president. "He wants to make sure we take into account those decisions and take the appropriate steps within the White House to deal with them, particularly from the standpoint of making sure we maintain that very capable, robust counter-terrorism capability."
Holder is carving out his role in history, finding his comfort zone between such predecessors as Alberto Gonzales, widely considered to be too close to the Bush White House, and Janet Reno, who sometimes alienated President Clinton and the FBI with her stubborn independence and her investigations of cabinet members.
Holder's aides would not describe his thought process in the weeks leading up to the announcement. But Holder himself acknowledged the seriousness of the move and its possible fallout this week, saying that he shared the president's conviction that backward-looking inquiries could fracture the country.
"As Attorney General, my duty is to examine the facts and to follow the law," Holder said. "In this case, given all of the information currently available, it is clear to me that this review is the only responsible course of action for me to take."
For his part, Obama appears determined to enter relationships with his Cabinet members as a strategic participant. People who brief him say he is able to game out scenarios before the experts in the room, even on foreign policy, national security and other issues in which he had relatively little expertise before running for president.
Obama is approaching the issues as a game of "three dimensional chess," said John Brennan, an assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. "It's not kinetic checkers. And I think the approach in the past was kinetic checkers. There are moves that are made on the chess board that really have implications, so the president is always looking at those dimensions of it."
CIA Will Cover Legal Fees
Policy Will Help Officers Ensnared in Interrogation Probe
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 28, 2009
CIA Director Leon Panetta decided Thursday that the agency will ensure legal representation for case officers who become caught up in investigations of alleged interrogation abuses of detainees at overseas locations, a senior intelligence official said.
Panetta's decision follows Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s appointment of a special prosecutor earlier this week to conduct a preliminary review of whether federal laws were violated during the interrogations. When working on controversial assignments, many CIA officers take out personal liability insurance, which sometimes reimburses legal fees if they face lawsuits or criminal charges, but others do not.
"Panetta will do everything he can to ensure that anyone who needs legal representation has it, whether they have liability insurance or not," said the senior intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak before the decision is publicly announced. "It's a question of fairness. People who did tough jobs for the country won't be left by the side of the road."
The new federal inquiry will be conducted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John H. Durham, who since 2008 has been investigating the destruction of CIA videotapes of detainees undergoing waterboarding.
In that investigation, Durham has asked agency contractors to give testimony before a grand jury in Alexandria next month, according to three sources familiar with the matter. It is not clear that the witnesses will testify.
Officials said the number of CIA employees seeking legal representation could grow larger than the relatively small number of people directly engaged in contact with detainees as Durham gathers information, interviews agency employees and takes testimony in his expanded inquiry.
Several CIA officials already have private lawyers being paid by insurance companies, and others are having fees covered directly by the agency. At least one officer has a lawyer working without charge, according to individuals familiar with the situation.
One insurance firm specializing in federal employee professional liability insurance, Wright & Co., charges $292 annually for coverage and pays up to $200,000 "in defense costs for federal government initiated administrative proceedings and investigations," according to its Web site. But experts said legal fees could run far higher than that for lengthy cases.
"Most CIA officers don't have much money and could go into debt to hire a good lawyer," said a lawyer who has represented an agency official in the past and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he may be involved in future investigations.
President Obama in April told senior CIA officials that the administration would not prosecute or investigate agency personnel in the wake of disclosure of Justice Department memos that first outlined harsh interrogation techniques.
In announcing Durham's inquiry on Monday, Holder said CIA officers "need to be protected from legal jeopardy when they act in good faith and within the scope of legal guidance."
Staff writer Carrie Johnson contributed to this report.
Obama, Bush - their ain't much difference!
N. Korea's offer to talk is dilemma for Obama
by Robert Burns - Aug. 28, 2009 12:00 AM
Associated Press .
WASHINGTON - After being portrayed for years as a reclusive villain with nuclear ambitions, it's North Korea that wants to talk. And it's the Obama administration - champion of engaging adversaries - that does not.
By insisting that it will not deal one-on-one with the North Koreans until they return to international negotiations on nuclear disarmament, has the administration maneuvered its way into a diplomatic bind?
So it would seem. "Clearly there is a little bit of tension in their current situation," said Bruce Bennett, a North Korea expert at the RAND Corp. think tank. He thinks the U.S. may have been outmaneuvered at this stage of a seesawing struggle that dates to 1992, when North and South Korea pledged to rid their peninsula of nuclear arms.
Since April, when North Korea abandoned the international negotiations known as the "six-party talks" with the U.S., South Korea, Japan, China and Russia, it has vowed to restart its nuclear-weapons production, conducted an underground atomic test and promised to "wipe out the aggressors on the globe once and for all" if the United States resorts to military action.
Just this week, the North said it was ready to talk - but only with the Americans. The State Department quickly responded by saying it would talk, but only as part of the six-party format.
The picture began to shift early this month when former President Bill Clinton visited Pyongyang and met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who agreed to free two U.S. journalists detained in the North.
The question now is how President Barack Obama will slip out of the predicament to regain the upper hand and take advantage of North Korea's new interest in talks.
One possibility, in Bennett's view, would be a U.S. decision to send its special envoy on North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, to Pyongyang for one-on-one talks as part of a broader consultation that would include separate visits to Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo and Moscow - the other players in the six-party approach.
That would get around the North Koreans' refusal to participate directly in the six-party talks. But it's not clear whether the U.S. partners - especially South Korea and Japan - would go along. The partners thus far have publicly expressed no willingness to let the U.S. bypass the six-party talks.
At stake is Obama's standing on the world stage, important at a time when he is juggling other high-priority national-security problems like wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, trouble in Pakistan and the prospect of a showdown with Iran over its own alleged ambition to build a nuclear weapon.
An even more primary worry is the potential for a nuclear-arms race in Asia. Many worry that if the North Koreans cannot be persuaded to irreversibly eliminate its nuclear program, Japan and South Korea might feel compelled to develop nuclear programs as a counterweight to the North.
That is one of the key reasons the Obama administration believes it cannot accept North Korea's offer to hold talks that do not include South Korea and Japan as well as former close North Korean allies China and Russia. That six-party format was started in 2003.
"We do not want to be disconnected from our regional partners," State Department spokesman Ian C. Kelly said Wednesday. "So when we have talks with the North Koreans on these kinds of security issues, we want to have these talks together with our partners. We don't want to disenfranchise them."
Chappaquiddick a lasting taint
Kopechne's death derailed Kennedy's presidential hopes
by Michael Muskal - Aug. 27, 2009 12:00 AM
Los Angeles Times .
If there was a single event that ended Sen. Edward Kennedy's quest to become president and fulfill his family's legacy, it was probably the death of Mary Jo Kopechne in a car accident off the small Massachusetts island of Chappaquiddick.
Kennedy eventually pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury and received a suspended sentence. But the events that began with a party in summer 1969 came to haunt him, keeping him out of the sweepstakes for his party's presidential nomination during the next decade, when he arguably had his best shot at winning.
Chappaquiddick is an island near Martha's Vineyard. On July 18, 1969, Kennedy attended a party of the "boiler-room girls," six women who worked on Sen. Robert Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign. Kennedy was visiting a local regatta, and Kopechne attended the reunion.
Based on Kennedy's later statements to authorities, it was about 11:15 p.m. when he and Kopechne left after she had asked for a ride to the ferry going to Edgartown, Mass. They drove off in his Oldsmobile.
Kennedy testified later that he was driving at about 20 mph when he made a wrong turn onto a dark dirt road called Dike Road. Instead of the ferry, he faced a wooden bridge with no guardrail.
Kennedy said he braked but the heavy car drove off the side into Poucha Pond, where the vehicle landed upside down, underwater.
Kennedy said he swam out of the car, but Kopechne didn't.
He told authorities he called for the woman and tried to swim down to get her several times before taking a breather on the shore. He then returned to the party to get help from friends to try to rescue Kopechne.
Kennedy never called authorities and later said that after the failed rescue efforts, he swam across the channel to Edgartown, where he collapsed in his hotel room. He told authorities he slept fitfully, hoping that Kopechne had miraculously escaped.
The next morning, Kennedy met with friends, and they went back to the scene of the accident. He still hadn't reported the incident.
Around 8:30 a.m., a fisherman notified authorities of the overturned car. Divers discovered Kopechne's body inside.
The questions immediately began to swirl around Kennedy. Was he drunk that night, impairing his judgment and driving ability? Could Kopechne have been saved if help had arrived quickly? What was the nature of Kopechne's relationship with Kennedy? And, later, especially among conservative critics, were authorities too lenient because of Kennedy's political prominence?
Kennedy tried to address the issues in a televised statement on July 25, after he entered his plea to leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury.
Specifically, he denied having an "immoral" relationship with Kopechne and insisted he was not drunk. He acknowledged his actions after the incident made no sense to him but added that he had sustained a concussion and was in shock. He did not use his own medical condition as an excuse and said it was indefensible that he had not reported the accident.
Kennedy went on to ask the people of Massachusetts to decide whether he should resign. He won re-election the next year with 62 percent of the vote.
But questions continued and effectively ended his presidential hopes. Despite favorable polls, he withdrew from consideration for 1972, leaving the Democratic field open for George McGovern, who was trounced in the general election by Richard M. Nixon. Kennedy later withdrew from the Democratic nomination race in 1976, when a little-known Georgia politician, Jimmy Carter, won the White House.
In 1980, Kennedy failed in his bid to unseat Carter.
The sad thing is U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell is talking about himself and he is right!
“There is going to be an election, whether you vote or not and you don’t want a bunch of jerks [in office],” - and one of those jerks is Congressman Harry Mitchell.
Mitchell said too many young people become cynical about politics at a young age, choosing not to participate because they are distrustful of both sides of the political spectrum. Many elections, he said, are a matter of choosing between the lesser of two evils.
And he is right; vote Republican and you get screwed, vote Democrat and you get screwed. Of course he didn't mention the third party which is the only party that will set you free with less government. They are the Libertarians.
Congressman, state reps tell ASU Dems to get involved
Published On: Monday, August 31, 2009
Lawmakers representing Tempe on the state and national level told a meeting of the ASU Young Democrats their participation in the 2010 Congressional and state legislative elections is “vital".
U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell joined state Reps. Ed Ableser and David Schapira in the meeting at the Tempe campus’ Discovery Hall Friday to talk to about 150 students concerning the elections, the economy, health care reform and the state budget.
Each lawmaker stressed the importance of participation and called on the students to encourage their peers to take an active interest in politics.
Mitchell said too many young people become cynical about politics at a young age, choosing not to participate because they are distrustful of both sides of the political spectrum. [ He is right! If you vote for the Democrats they will screw you! If you vote for the Republicans they will screw you! For once try voting Libertarian and see what happens! Libertarians are the only party that promises less government ] Many elections, he said, are a matter of choosing between the lesser of two evils.
“There is going to be an election, whether you vote or not and you don’t want a bunch of jerks [in office],” he said. [ Again Congressman Harry Mitchell is right! Congressman Harry Mitchell is one of the bunch of jerks in office ]
Ableser and Schapira both said young people need to pay more attention to politics at the state level. Ableser pointed to the funding cuts to the University, which he said prompted tuition increases and the economic recovery surcharge, examples of how state politics affect students.
“You have the opportunity to advocate for issues that affect you in your everyday life,” said Ableser.
The representatives also discussed issues affecting their particular levels of government. Mitchell explained his position on health care reform in response to a student’s question. He said he would only support President Barack Obama’s idea of a public health care option if it does not undercut the market price of health insurance.
“If we could have a public option that is truly competitive, then I would support it,” Mitchell said. “If it levels the playing field and if it does not pay under-market rates, I will support it.”
Mitchell added that the debate surrounding the issue has been complicated by the fact that there are several different versions of the bill in the House and Senate — and Obama has not endorsed any of them.
“He does not have a bill yet,” Mitchell said. “There are five different bills out there right now.”
Ableser and Schapira also took the opportunity to take shots at the Republican majority in the state Legislature, which they blamed for the delays in passing the 2010 state budget.
Ableser said Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposed sales tax hike, which would give additional tax incentives to businesses in the state after three years, is misleading.
“It is a bait and switch,” Ableser said. “They’re trying to get the Democrats to vote for this sales tax increase of one percent and then cut corporation taxes, and put that burden on the lower- and middle-income families.”
Schapira again stressed the importance of student participation and said student support was instrumental in putting him and Ableser in office.
“The only way to make the situation better is to elect more Democrats,” Schapira said. [ Sorry Mr. Schapira, but the only solution is to take chase down all the existing government rulers with pitch forks and torches and sting them up from street lights. Only then will we have less government and be free. ]
Political science and philosophy sophomore Erica Pederson, vice president of the Young Democrats, said the two legislators play an important role in replacing the state leadership she blames for millions of dollars in cuts to education and budget process delays.
“There’s not a lot they can do because they’re in the minority [party], but they can get the word out to vote the Republicans out of office,” Pederson said.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com.
The notion that Obama moving the government to the left "is laughable ..."
Analysis: Obama keeps Bush nominees in top posts
By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer Tom Raum, Associated Press Writer – Mon Aug 31, 8:45 am ET
WASHINGTON – For all the GOP howling about Barack Obama radically steering the government to the left and leading the nation toward socialism, some of his major appointments are Republican men and women of the middle.
In what may be the top two national posts in light of today's crises at home and abroad, Obama stuck with the picks of former President George W. Bush in reappointing Fed chief Ben Bernanke and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Bernanke last week was given another four-year term to preside over nothing less than saving the U.S. economy and then keeping it strong. He was appointed by Bush in 2006 after a short stint as chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. Gates was kept in his Pentagon post to wind down the war in Iraq and build up the one in Afghanistan.
The loss of Sen. Ted Kennedy to brain cancer led to a chorus of laments about the dearth of politicians these days able to reach across party lines. While Obama hasn't had much luck with the highly polarized Congress in building bipartisan support on legislation, he's reached out often to Republicans in filling key jobs.
The notion that he's moving the government to the left "is laughable, it's utterly laughable," said Thomas E. Mann, a government scholar at the Brookings Institution. Mann said the decision to keep Bernanke and Gates "doesn't buy him a thing with Republicans but was a sign of good judgment in both cases" because Bernanke and Gates were doing good jobs.
Obama's larger problem is that he still does not have his own people in a majority of the government's top policymaking positions requiring Senate confirmation. But those he has put in top positions include a number of Republicans or nontraditional Democrats.
Along with Gates and Bernanke, they include:
• Sheila Bair as holdover chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. She has played a major role in the management of the financial crisis. A one-time unsuccessful candidate for a Kansas House seat, Bair was first appointed by Bush in June 2006. Forbes Magazine ranks her as the second most powerful woman in the world behind German chancellor Angela Merkel.
• Ray LaHood, a former congressman from Illinois, as transportation secretary. He was elected as part of the "Gingrich Revolution" of 1994 and was so trusted by both Republicans and Democrats that he was selected to preside over the House during the impeachment vote against President Bill Clinton.
• Former Rep. John McHugh from upstate New York, as Army secretary. McHugh was known by his House colleagues for an even temperament and willingness to work with Democrats.
• Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who was a Mormon missionary in China in his youth, as ambassador to China.
• Francis Collins, an evangelical Christian, as director of the National Institutes of Health.
Unlike the others on the list, Collins is not a Republican and worked in the Obama presidential campaign. But he doesn't fit the usual mold of liberal Democrat as portrayed by many Republicans.
Collins discussed his religious views in a 2006 book. Although some questions have been raised about whether he could keep his religious views separate from his work, the physician-geneticist is well respected in his field for landmark discoveries of disease genes and as head of the Human Genome Project.
Meanwhile, Obama has been contending with an angry left upset at him for not insisting more forcefully on a government-run health insurance option and for his decisions to retain some Bush-era counterterrorism policies.
"The effort to portray Obama as dangerously leftist just doesn't have any traction," said Stephen Cimbala, a political science professor at Penn State. "I think if they want to pick up seats in 2010 and get back up off the floor where Bush left them, they're going to have to find a way to go beyond the very narrow core Republican base and reach out to moderates. The case they have to make against Obama is a case about competency and performance. Not about ideology."
Republicans are going all out on the war path, especially on health care overhaul and budget issues.
"Obama and his liberal congressional allies want to saddle taxpayers with even more debt through their government-run health care experiment that will cost trillions of dollars," said Republican party chief Michael Steele. House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, accused Obama of a management style that's "not leadership, it's negligence." Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said in Saturday's GOP video and Internet address that Obama's Democrats favor "cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the elderly to create new government programs."
In asking Bernanke to stay on, Bush praised the former Princeton economist for "his calm and wisdom" in steering the economy through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
At the time he announced he was sticking with Gates at the Pentagon, Obama said he didn't ask the member of the Bush war cabinet to remain because of his party affiliation but because he felt he could best "serve the interests of the American people." Obama said he was "going to be welcoming a vigorous debate inside the White House."
Meanwhile, Obama returned from his vacation in Massachusetts on Martha's Vineyard and, after a few days at Camp David, will redouble his efforts "toward getting a bipartisan result" on health care overhaul, said deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton. "After he gets a little time to recharge his batteries...he's going to come back as rip-roaring as he was before," Burton said.
What a great way lie to the American people about the war in Afghanistan. Use some clever accounting tricks. Remove 14,000 troops that function as clerks and cooks and use civilian contractors to do their work. Then replace the 14,000 non-combat troops with 14,000 combat troops and pretend you have not increased the number of military troops in the Afghanistan war. Hey Obama is just as good of a liar as Bush was, maybe even better.
By Julian E. Barnes
September 2, 2009
Reporting from Washington - U.S. officials are planning to add as many as 14,000 combat troops to the American force in Afghanistan by sending home support units and replacing them with "trigger-pullers," Defense officials say.
The move would beef up the combat force in the country without increasing the overall number of U.S. troops, a contentious issue as public support for the war slips. But many of the noncombat jobs are likely be filled by private contractors, who have proved to be a source of controversy in Iraq and a growing issue in Afghanistan.
The plan represents a key step in the Obama administration's drive to counter Taliban gains and demonstrate progress in the war nearly eight years after it began.
Forces that could be swapped out include units assigned to noncombat duty, such as guards or lookouts, or those on clerical and support squads.
"It makes sense to get rid of the clerks and replace them with trigger-pullers," said one Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the plans have not been announced. Officials have spoken in recent days about aspects of the plan.
The changes will not offset the potential need for additional troops in the future, but could reduce the size of any request from Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and allied commander, officials said.
McChrystal submitted a broad assessment of the Afghanistan war effort this week, calling the situation there "serious."
Details of the assessment remain secret, but officials said it did not contain a request for more troops. Such a request could be submitted in coming weeks.
The planned changes in the U.S. troop mix are part of what military officials call a "force optimization" review, a critical middle step between the assessment and a request for additional troops, designed to ensure that the existing force is operating as efficiently as possible.
The plan reflects the view that much of the military bureaucracy that has built up in Afghanistan no longer serves a useful purpose. Services performed by troops that are no longer considered crucial could be outsourced to contractors or eliminated, officials said.
Defense officials said they would not know how many positions and jobs might be eliminated until the McChrystal review was completed. But two officials estimated the total could be 6,000 to 14,000 troops.
The review will scour the U.S. roster for situations in which several people perform the same job or for service members considered less than fully utilized, for example, working just a six-hour shift.
Army Col. Wayne M. Shanks, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said that some people may no longer be needed and can be "streamlined."
"We have asked all commands to take a hard look to reduce redundancy, eliminate any excess and generally look for efficiencies in all our structures," Shanks said.
He declined to outline any specific groups of soldiers or Marines that were no longer needed, but said the command would not "compromise the welfare of the troops."
Raising the overall number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is a controversial issue.
President Obama has ordered an additional 21,000 troops to Afghanistan to bring the U.S. force to about 68,000. About 38,000 non-U.S. troops with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are also deployed in the country.
Top Obama administration officials have sent mixed signals about whether they would approve more troops.
Complicating any decision to approve more troops is declining public support for the Afghanistan war as the number of casualties climbs, with August the deadliest month for U.S. troops there since the war began. According to a CNN poll, 57% of Americans oppose the war, up from 46% at the end of last year.
But advisors to the military command believe that McChrystal needs a larger force to carry out his counterinsurgency strategy, perhaps as many as 20,000 additional troops. Culling unneeded units would allow McChrystal to increase U.S. combat power without running afoul of political sensitivities at home.
One Defense official said the effort wasn't designed primarily to reduce the size of any potential troop increases, but to ensure that everyone being deployed was in a "mission critical" job.
"If he is asking for more, he certainly wants to ensure we are maximizing the use of everyone that is here now," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Most of the dozens of combat outposts and outlying bases in Afghanistan have soldiers or Marines assigned to gates or guard towers. But the Pentagon official said those troops could be shifted to more valuable duty.
"They just stare out from the tower. So let's bring in contractors," the Pentagon official said. "Now you can have a thousand more troops in the field."
Any needed job left vacant could be filled by hiring Afghans or using military contractors, officials said.
But contractors serving in some capacities, notably as security guards in Iraq, have been accused of excessive violence and wrongdoing.
In Afghanistan, a government watchdog group said Tuesday that many of the 450 private guards employed by a subsidiary of U.S.-based Wackenhut Services Inc. have engaged in lewd and drunken behavior in a "Lord of the Flies" environment. The workers guard the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the capital, under a $189-million contract.
State Department officials said they are investigating.
Critics have charged that the military has relied too heavily on contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, handing over too many crucial responsibilities to outsiders.
A recent Congressional Research Service found that there were more contractors than military personnel serving in Afghanistan. The report was based on figures gathered in March, before additional troops ordered by Obama began arriving.
Terry Goddard and Kyrsten Sinema are in violation of Arizona's right-to-run law.
Even if the laws are silly Terry Goddard and Kyrsten Sinema are hypocrites for forcing us to obey their rules, but then breaking their own rules.
Ariz. GOP chairman wants probes of Goddard, Sinema
Associated Press - September 2, 2009 2:14 PM ET
PHOENIX (AP) - The state Republican chairman is calling for investigations of whether Attorney General Terry Goddard and a Democratic legislative leader are in violation of Arizona's right-to-run law.
The 1980 voter-approved law requires elected officials to step down if they declare candidacies for another office before their current term's final year.
Republican Chairman Randy Pullen says statements by Goddard and Representative Kyrsten Sinema that they intend to run for other offices cross the line and warrant appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate.
Goddard spokeswoman Anne Hilby says Pullen is engaging in a 'frivolous political stunt.' But she says the office will review Pullen's request, with an official other than Goddard making the final decision.
2 Dems accused of breaking resign-to-run law
by Matthew Benson - Sept. 3, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen on Wednesday asked state Attorney General Terry Goddard to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether Goddard and a Democratic legislator violated the state's resign-to-run law in recent months.
At the heart of the complaint is a murky, oft-debated law that was approved by Arizona voters in 1980 with the intent of preventing elected officials from spending the bulk of their time in office actively campaigning for a future post.
Unless an official is in the final year of his or her term, they are required to resign before announcing their candidacy for another office. Pullen alleges that Goddard and Phoenix Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, both Democrats, broke that provision with public pronouncements about their campaign plans. Democrats shrugged off the GOP allegations as political gamesmanship, but the ramifications are serious. If found in violation, both Goddard and Sinema could be forced to resign.
Goddard, who is term-limited as attorney general and is considered a likely candidate for governor in 2010, was asked at a May 27 Democratic meeting whether he would enter the race. "Since you were kind enough to ask, I intend to run for governor," Goddard told the crowd, according to an audio clip of the meeting provided by the Arizona GOP.
"You can't complain as much as I do and not be willing to put yourself on the line," Goddard continued. "That's exactly what I will do, and I really solicit all of your help in that mission."
Five months earlier, on Dec. 31, Sinema updated her Facebook social-networking page with a statement that read, in part: "This is my brand new 'politician' page. I'm running for State Senate in 2010 and would love to have your support."
Given Goddard's obvious stake in the case, Pullen called it "appropriate" for the attorney general to recuse himself and appoint a special prosecutor. Pullen said he would file a lawsuit if Goddard decides against appointing a special prosecutor.
"Citizens expect lawmakers to comply with the very laws they enact, but these two apparently feel the laws don't apply to them," Pullen told reporters Wednesday.
The Attorney General's Office said it will take the complaint under review, but discounted notions that Goddard had strayed from the law. A spokesman for Goddard doesn't believe his statement to the group of Democrats in May qualifies as an official announcement
"The attorney general feels he is well within the law," said Goddard spokeswoman Anne Hilby. "He is not a candidate for any office at this time."
Sinema, meanwhile, characterized her initial Facebook statement as a "typographical error," and said she has since updated the page to reflect that she's merely "exploring" a run for state Senate. Candidates are allowed at any point to form exploratory committees to consider a run for future office, and the tactic has become a favorite among elected officials looking to dodge the state's resign-to-run law.
"It was just a small error," Sinema said of her earlier Facebook phraseology. "This is just a silly waste of time. I haven't filed nomination papers, I'm not collecting signatures, I haven't opened a campaign committee."
Goddard has filed no campaign paperwork with the secretary of state for a run for governor; Sinema has filed for her exploratory committee in state Senate District 15.
The resign-to-run law states that an individual has made their candidacy official once they file nomination papers or make a "formal public declaration of candidacy." What constitutes a "formal public declaration" remains blurry, though.
Lisa Hauser, who served as chief counsel to then-Gov. Fife Symington, said she advises would-be candidates hoping to stay on the right side of the law to consider the totality of their actions. That means being careful about any public statements, limiting fundraising and couching campaign materials issued while exploring a campaign.
In 2008, the state Democratic Party accused then-state Senate President Tim Bee, a Republican, of being in violation of resign-to-run as he maintained his state office while exploring a bid for Congress.
No action was brought against Bee, whose congressional campaign was unsuccessful.
His monument stands all around us
The most revealing moment in Edward "Ted" Kennedy's political life came Nov. 4, 1979, just three days before he would officially launch his challenge to a sitting president of his own party, Jimmy Carter. In a televised interview, CBS News correspondent Roger Mudd asked the already stout Massachusetts senator a "giveaway" question, a question about as tough as a quiz show host trying to help break the ice with a nervous contestant by asking, "What color is grass?"
Roger Mudd asked: "Why do you want to be president?"
Ted Kennedy, 47, was about to challenge an incumbent president of his own party, with whom his ideological differences were minimal. Why not wait just four years more? Dividing one's own party in such a way must always weaken the party, creating an opening for the other party's challenger in the general election (Ronald Reagan, in this case) no matter who wins the primary.
Any mature politician considering such a move -- any thoughtful man who had seen two elder brothers assassinated for their trouble in seeking that office -- would have asked himself, not once or twice, but a hundred times, "Do I really want to do this? Is seeking the White House -- heck, even winning the White House -- the best thing for my family, my country, my party, for me? What can I accomplish that Jimmy Carter cannot, and how important is it?"
Instead, Ted Kennedy was caught flat-footed when Mudd asked him why he wanted to be president. This was not merely a "bad moment." His rambling, directionless answer -- vague bromides about the European nations doing better on energy policy and on fighting inflation -- made it clear he was merely being swept along by those who wanted to benefit from installing him in the seat of power. He was running because it was "his turn" ... or something.
The little boy who had always been overshadowed by his big brothers; the spoiled brat who was kicked out of Harvard for paying someone else to take his Spanish exam for him; the confused, panicked drunk who returned to the party and left Mary Jo Kopechne to drown in his car as it sank into the waters off Chappaquiddick Island (unless we choose to give the event a more ominous interpretation -- Gene Frieh, the undertaker, told reporters death "was due to suffocation rather than drowning"; John Farrar, the diver who removed Kopechne from the car, claimed she was "too buoyant to be full of water"; there was never an autopsy) was finally on his own, asked a question that any thoughtful man would have been rehearsing in his own mind for months.
And the second-term senator was revealed to have the quality of intellect we'd expect from some babbling beauty contestant, a creature whose life and purpose and ambition were, to be as kind as possible, unexamined.
Oh, some will moan, you're just concentrating on the bad parts. The man's body is barely cold, for heaven's sake. Can't you talk about his achievements, all the good he did?
Read the paeans from the left, praising him as a "lion of the Senate." They speak of his endless concern for the "underprivileged," though they're woefully short on specifics.
The socialists and redistributionists always seek forgiveness for their errors and excesses -- the policies that have driven this country to the brink of bankruptcy and hyperinflation -- in terms of what they meant to accomplish for "the poor and the downtrodden." But who suffers worst in the hard times their policies have brought about? The hardworking poor, who find their jobs gone, their mortgages upside down, the once-proud currency in which their savings and investments are denominated increasingly worthless.
The welfare classes will do all right -- for a while. But what favor have the condescending handouts of the Ted Kennedys of Washington done them, by locking them into multiple generations of fatherless, spiritless, smoldering angry dependence, while gradually sapping and enervating the larger, entrepreneurial, once-vibrant free market economy that could have offered them real opportunity?
Suits from central casting
I was raised a New England Democrat. Far from hating the Kennedys, I suppose I almost worshiped them. I wish John and Bobby had not been killed. Though you would have had to be deaf not to hear older New Englanders note that the family money had come from crime (bootlegging, specifically); that JFK's multiple adulteries (including with Sam Giancana's Mafia moll, Judith Campbell Exner -- in the White House!), creating so much cover-up work for the press and the Secret Service, so disrespectful of the lovely mother of his young children, only echoed his father's famous affair with Hollywood actress Gloria Swanson; that he was asking for trouble when he asked the unions and the mob to help him steal the presidency by rigging the returns in Illinois and West Virginia -- and then turned his back on them, actually siccing his younger brother Bobby on them like an attack dog, as soon as he got elected.
Republicans fail by losing the presidency when they do the sensible thing: nominating old Washington hands like Bob Dole, a perfectly decent fellow who knew the ropes and probably would have made a competent if uninspiring administrator. A "go-along" kind of guy with unarticulated (if any) economic principles who never stood in the path of the profligacies of Ted Kennedy and his ilk, Bob Dole was no hero of mine.
But Democrats do something far more interesting. Democrats fail -- not incrementally but massively, disastrously -- by winning the presidency, which they do by nominating virile younger men in whom Americans see the image of the brave, handsome, smooth-talking, dapper guy they wish they were.
John F. Kennedy was woefully unprepared to be president. His lack of experience and his health problems, so obligingly covered up by a press corps that loved him -- Addison's disease, colitis and back problems so severe he had to wear a brace, possibly caused by his decades-long steroid treatments, while all we got to see was touch football on the beach -- left him woefully inadequate in his summit meetings with Khrushchev in Vienna. Khrushchev read the callow young president as a playboy dilettante and decided he could get away with deploying missiles to Cuba, bringing the world to the brink of war.
Did Kennedy "bravely stand him down," as we were all taught? Kennedy agreed to pull our own missiles out of Turkey. (We're told "they were obsolete, anyway." We won the battle of Guadalcancal with stuff that was more obsolete.) Khrushchev won ... in the short run, which is all the victory a socialist can ever hope for, given that their underlying philosophy will always breed poverty and disaster in the end.
Bill Clinton was of the same mold but worse -- a greedy crook with his hand always out for a check (whether it be a corporation looking for a contract in Little Rock, or the Chinese military seeking our satellite and missile technology), but nonetheless a big, handsome teddy bear of a foul-mouthed multiple adulterer, if not (as I believe) something closer to a serial rapist.
And now the Democrats have given us Barack Obama, a handsome, dapper, smooth-talking, virile younger president who is -- hard as it is to believe -- vastly less qualified for the presidency than John F. Kennedy.
He has no idea he has taken an oath to protect a Constitution that promises us a government of sharply limited powers. (Where in that Constitution does he find any authority for federal bureaucrats to manage auto companies? To meddle in medicine or insurance?) He has no experience commanding even the small military units once officered by JFK or Jimmy Carter -- let alone the mighty administrative experience in matters of life and death once shouldered by Washington, Jackson, Eisenhower.
He has never worked in, let alone managed, a small business that had to meet payroll by selling actual merchandise to actual customers. (At least Harry Truman once sold shirts.) He is the perfect creature of the arrogant leftist academy -- actually believing in the magic power of rhetoric to alter reality, seeing no need to test out such theories on some little hamburger or yogurt stand before attempting to micro-manage the largest economy in the world.
For six months, Barack Obama has had it all his way, with a populace virtually hypnotized into allowing him to advance a far-left agenda learned at the knees of his mother's communist friends, aided by such powerful and privileged yet philosophically hollow allies as Ted Kennedy.
Oh, son, what have you built?
America now awakens from a 50-year dream. Where have we been transported, during the 50 years of our infatuation with the virile Kennedy boys in whom we wished to believe? When John F. Kennedy took office, the Democratic Party was actually still capable of tax-cutting and pro-business policies. (Yes, John Kennedy called for a cut of 20 percent in top tax rates -- actually signed by his successor, Lyndon Johnson.) Today, the Republican Party is much further to the left than the Democratic Party of 1962, while the Democrats themselves ...
For 50 years, America has fancied itself as the fictional character which was reportedly one of John Kennedy's favorites -- dapper, swinging, love-em-and-leave-em James Bond. We could go where we wanted, never a concern about footing the bills (that's what government is for) and always shoot our way out of trouble.
Am I "skipping the good parts" about Ted Kennedy? I hope there were some. But he was, from all I can learn, a drunken lout, wandering around Palm Beach with his pants down around his ankles, encouraging and covering up the love-em-and-leave-em sprees of the younger males of the family, just as he had seen done by most of the males of the Kennedy family from the time he was a spoiled, cheating little boy.
He was rich and secure enough that he could at any time have taken a year off, read Hayek and Rothbard and Hazlitt and Bastiat and von Mises, contemplated what he might accomplish if he were to bend his inherited wealth and power to making Americans more truly prosperous and free. (Heck, even George McGovern finally retired and invested in a New England motel, coming to learn the terrors of the very regulatory government bureaucracies he had once so cheerfully fostered.)
Ted Kennedy never did. It was not in his nature. There does not appear to have been a contemplative, self-questioning bone in his body.
I have never hated the Kennedys. I do not hate wealth, nor the personal freedom it brings. All Americans should seek wealth, at least for the betterment of their own families, and if they can do so by flouting stupid government prohibitions, selling an honest product to willing buyers, as Joe Kennedy Sr. did, well, more power to them. (Though I do wonder why us little guys are no longer "allowed" to set up immortal family trusts as useful and tax-proof as those established by families like the Kennedys and the Rockefellers, so many decades ago. Why them, and not us? Are we now governed by some kind of feudal aristocracy, after all?)
The more interesting question is what one sets out to do with wealth, power and privilege.
The family wealth, power and privilege got Ted Kennedy back into Harvard after that little cheating thing. It got him a suspended sentence for "leaving the scene of an accident" after his drunken driving caused the death of Mary Jo Kopechne -- if that's really what happened -- just as the family wealth and power covered up that little security problem when young Lt. John Kennedy ignored all advice and continued his affair with that married lady and suspected Nazi spy during World War II. The Kennedy boys were taught that their family wealth and power would get them out of anything.
But will they get us out of anything? Are Americans more free today than before Ted Kennedy put on his engineer's cap and started running the little toy train set he inherited from his older brothers?
The liberals will lie to themselves and to us, screeching, "Yes! The poor are more 'free' of hunger and poverty and fear of guns and drugs, thanks to all the wise new prohibitions we have enacted, all the loot the Left has seized and redistributed from you greedy rich guys!"
Perhaps I should have said, some of us now awaken from a dream of 50 years.
Government still runs -- at massive expense, funded by unprecedented looting and borrowing, in part thanks to Teddy Kennedy -- a compulsory confinement school system designed to indoctrinate successive generations in the wisdom and righteousness of government looting and coercion, though it's no longer so good at teaching spelling, geography, history or even "counting change."
Government has bureaucratized and thus seriously degraded large parts of the best medical system in the world, and seems determined to finish the job, since they know their socialized Medicare and Medicaid schemes will soon go bankrupt unless the vampires are given large new docile herds to feed upon.
Now they even threaten to punish through economically crippling taxation the production of energy. Energy!
Everywhere we look we see government, as vast, terrifying and powerful as Shelley's famous statue of Ozymandias. It is the monument of Ted Kennedy, the man who could not explain why he should be -- or even why he wanted to be -- president. An achievement of those who accrue votes and wealth and power as ends in themselves without ever stopping to contemplate why everything they do requires some new and even larger exercise in Draconian coercion, some new and even larger allocation of looted wealth, to supposedly "fix" what they messed up the last time.
This is Ted Kennedy's monument. It is built on sand.
As Vin Suprynowicz says the schools are nothing but government propaganda camps.
Schools address Obama's speech unease
Many offer parents option to have kids skip talk
by Ray Parker - Sept. 4, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Gilbert parent Keith James wants his child to skip President Barack Obama's address to schools next week.
It's not that he thinks the president shouldn't support education. It's that he thinks the speech could have a hidden agenda.
"Being a Black conservative and not comfortable with the president's agenda, this going-into-the-classroom thing really bugs me," said James, who will have his eighth-grade son skip the speech. Across Arizona, school-district officials are scrambling to deal with the growing national controversy, and they are responding in a variety of ways.
Many districts will follow the middle path taken by Mesa Public Schools, Arizona's largest district. The district will allow parents to have their children opt out of the speech, but only if they contact the school first. It is the same policy the district uses for similar situations - if a parent objects to a reading assignment, for instance.
Other districts, such as Scottsdale Unified, are taking the extra step of actually sending opt-out forms home with all students.
Still other districts have put all-or-nothing guidelines on the speech. Tempe Elementary School District will require all students to watch the president's speech with no opt-out provision. Prescott Unified School District, on the other hand, will not have any students watch it.
"The president's speech next week is a perfect example of 'a good idea gone astray,' " Prescott Superintendent Kevin Kapp wrote on the district's Web site. "After reviewing the materials associated with the speech, (Prescott schools) will not televise the speech or broadcast it via computers."
Obama will address students via the Internet in what U.S. Department of Education officials said will be a back-to-school speech "about persisting and succeeding in school."
The speech is expected to be about 15 to 20 minutes long, and the Education Department has prepared classroom materials for all grades to accompany it.
"I think it's really unfortunate that politics has been brought into this," White House deputy policy director Heather Higginbottom told the Associated Press. "It's simply a plea to students to really take their learning seriously. Find out what they're good at. Set goals. And take the school year seriously."
But after conservative media figures started calling the speech "indoctrination," parents started calling Valley school districts this week requesting their children skip the speech.
Critics are particularly upset about the lesson plans the administration created to accompany the speech. The lesson plans originally recommended having students "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president."
The White House revised the plans Wednesday to say students could "write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals."
"That was inartfully worded, and we corrected it," Higginbottom said.
Some parents are not convinced.
"Is this part of the district curriculum or a way for the White House to get into classrooms?" asked Mesa parent Linda Grant, who has a seventh-grade daughter who will opt out.
In Arizona district offices, school officials said there's been some gnashing of teeth.
Mesa schools Superintendent Mike Cowan said the district had received a number of complaints, but it was not a large percentage of the district's nearly 70,000 students. He said Obama's speech will be shown in schools, yet, as always, parents can choose to have their children opt out.
"Considering this is an historic event, we will do what we can do," Cowan said, noting that seven months ago President Obama gave a national speech about stemming home foreclosures inside Mesa's Dobson High School.
The Department of Education has provided six pages of supplemental online material for educators dealing with the speech. Before the speech, for example, teachers inpre-kindergarten to sixth grade can build "background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama."
Tom Horne, the Republican state superintendent of public instruction in Arizona, said he's troubled that the accompanying federal materials "are too worshipful toward Obama" and are "educationally unsound."
Richard Ban Dyne, who taught social studies in Valley schools for 34 years, disagreed.
"There's nothing objectionable in that material," he said. "Come on, it encourages students to be responsible for their education."
Obama's speech, which will be broadcast at Arizona schools at 9 a.m. Tuesday, isn't the first of its kind, although the use of the Internet does make it accessible to a wider audience.
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush spoke to students at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, D.C., imploring them to study hard and to stay away from drugs. The speech was broadcast nationwide.
The Department of Education broadcast Bush's speech live, and the White House sent letters to schools around the country encouraging principals and teachers to have students tune in. The speech reached 4.4 million children in 110,000 schools, according to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
Avondale parent Maggie Stinson, who has two children in high school, said she was surprised by the controversy.
"I would have thought that the Republican Party would have chosen a much more pressing topic to pick Obama apart on (since) there are plenty," Stinson said. "But that is only my opinion after skeptically listening, analyzing and thinking critically about this upcoming speech," she said.
To read the supplemental material provided by the Department of Education, log on to ed.gov/admins/lead/academic/bts.html.
Alex Bloom, Emily Gersema, Megan Gordon, Kerry Fehr-Snyder, Eugene Scott, Jeffrey Javier and the Associated Press contributed to this article.
President to address schoolchildren
Questions and answers about President Obama's address to schoolchildren.
Question: When will the president deliver his address?
President Obama will speak to students at 9 a.m. Arizona time on Tuesday.
Q: How will students watch the president?
Viewers can watch the address via the Internet by visiting the White House Web site at whitehouse.gov/live/
, where the address will be streamed live. C-SPAN, the cable public-affairs network, will cover the president's speech live and provide live streaming video online at C-SPAN.org. The speech also will be aired live on C-SPAN Radio (Channel 132 on XM Satellite Radio). White House television will make the address available via satellite for access by local broadcast outlets and school districts.
Q: How long will the president's address last?
The president is scheduled to speak for 15 to 20 minutes.
Q: Will the address be available after the original broadcast?
Yes, video downloads will be made available at whitehouse.gov/mediaresources/ and ed.gov.
Source: U.S. Department of Education
Congress Harry Mitchell doesn't answer any questions (well almost)"My wife and I are over 65 and covered by Medicare. We do not participate in any health-insurance plan offered to members of Congress or federal employees" and "I do not personally receive my health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program" - Congressman Harry Mitchell
Hmmm... Congressman Harry Mitchell says he doesn't use the Royal Medical Care given to the rest of the members of the Royal American Congress. I wonder if he is lying? Or does that mean him and his wife didn't use the royal congressional medical plan this week or month?
Last but not least the title of the article is very misleading. Congressman Harry Mitchell only answered two of the questions and just rambled on with re-election BS for the other questions.
Rep. Mitchell responds to health-care questions
Many readers accepted our invitation to submit questions to U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell regarding health-care reform.
Here are Mitchell's answers.
Question: In general, do you favor the Obama health-care proposal and are you going to vote for it?
— Jack Tracey, Scottsdale
Answer: Both Republicans and Democrats agree that the current health-insurance system needs reform. More and more families are losing access to the care they need, and our economy is suffering as businesses try to cope with escalating costs. Individuals with pre-existing illnesses or chronic disease are often denied coverage.
I agree with Sen. John McCain when he says that we cannot afford to do nothing. While I support reform of our health-insurance system, current proposals in Congress are still not complete.
[Congressman Harry Mitchell didn't answer the question of "do you favor the Obama health-care proposal and are you going to vote for it? "]
Q: How will health-care reform get 40 percent of its funding from Medicare without diminishing the quality and availability of care available to seniors?
— Paula Ricehouse, Scottsdale
A: My wife and I are over 65 and covered by Medicare. We do not participate in any health-insurance plan offered to members of Congress or federal employees.
I strongly support strengthening Medicare and could not support a plan that would reduce services or diminish quality. I agree with the proposals in Washington that increase the reimbursement rates for physicians so seniors have greater access to the doctors they choose. I also believe that the federal government should be able to negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices, allowing us to close the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole.”
It is important to ensure that our tax dollars are not being wasted. Medicare has an alarming amount of fraud and abuse and we cannot allow these practices, such as paying for procedures that have not been performed, to continue.
[Again Congressman Harry Mitchell didn't answer the question of "How will health-care reform get 40 percent of its funding from Medicare without diminishing the quality and availability of care available to seniors? "]
Q: Many seniors are on Medicare and have supplemental insurance. How would the proposed health-care reform affect them?
— From numerous readers
A: Our doctors and community hospitals are losing money when treating folks on Medicare and some are not accepting new Medicare patients because of this. I want to make sure that any reform doesn't end up putting any additional strain on Medicare, weakening community hospitals or potentially leaving people with fewer options.
It is important to remember that there is not a final version of a bill in Congress.
[Again Congressman Harry Mitchell didn't answer the question. He just rambled on with the re-elect me it will be great stuff]
Q: Why won't Congress pass tort reform (medical malpractice, in particular)? That would save billions of dollars in legal costs and unnecessary tests for the health-insurance industry, and its customers (us).
— John O'Connell, Scottsdale
A: I am troubled by the stories of doctors playing defensive medicine by ordering unnecessary tests, which only adds to everyone's costs. At the same time, I want to ensure that we continue to vigorously protect patient rights. I believe this is an important discussion in which there will be passionate views on all sides. I agree that there are other areas of our health-care system that Congress will ultimately need to consider, and this includes having a rigorous debate on tort reform.
[Again Congressman Harry Mitchell didn't answer the question. He just rambled on with the re-elect me it will be great stuff]
Q: Does this bill include a government-appointed committee or use formulas based on statistics that can deny a patient medical treatment due to age, long-term success with such a treatment, or based on some determination of productive years of life left? Could a patient be denied a hip replacement, for instance, if such a board or formula says it is not worth the expense based on that patient's life expectancy?
— Michael Frost, Ahwatukee
A: Like many Democrats as well as Republicans, I oppose rationing, and oppose a government takeover of our nation's health-care system.
While there is still not a final version of a bill, no proposal that has received serious consideration in Congress contains “death panels” or committees that will ration care based on age, life expectancy, productivity or any measure.
[Wow! Congressman Harry Mitchell answered the question!!!]
Q: President Barack Obama has stated that health-care reform must reduce the rate of health-care inflation, be deficit neutral over 10 years and be deficit reducing over the longer term. Will you vote for a health-care reform bill that doesn't do what the president has requested, i.e. be deficit reducing?
— Kevin Condon, Ahwatukee
A: I strongly believe that we need health-insurance reform, and I also strongly believe that it must be deficit neutral.
[Again Congressman Harry Mitchell didn't answer the question. He did not say how he would vote]
Q: After reading HR 3200, there is no wonder that members of Congress do not want to participate in the new system, rather electing to retain your present health-insurance plan. If this plan is good enough for America, why is it not good enough for Congress?
— John & Rita Elef, Mesa
A: While, as a matter of principle, I do not personally receive my health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, I do not believe members of Congress should have any better or worse health insurance than anyone else. If anything, we should be working to make the kind of coverage that members of Congress and federal employees receive available to more Americans.
Currently, federal employees, including members of Congress, participate in an insurance exchange through which they receive the choice of several private health plans, with literally hundreds of options.
Many Republicans and Democrats in Congress, including me, support the concept of a broader insurance exchange in which individuals and small businesses, many of whom cannot currently afford coverage, could pool their purchasing power and comparison shop for competitive rates that best meet their needs.
For the first time, private-insurance companies would compete against each other in a way they've never done before. In addition, the pool would be spread across a wider scale, which would require insurers to compete for your business.
[Again Congressman Harry Mitchell didn't answer the question. He just rambled on with the government nannies don't deserve better coverage stuff]
Q: Where will we get the additional doctors needed to cover 50 million people who currently do not have insurance?
— From several readers
A: Although millions of Americans don't have health insurance, it doesn't mean they don't get sick and don't ultimately get treated.
Those without insurance are often forced to wait until potentially preventable conditions reach a crisis point, when they receive care at the most expensive point in our health-care system. The costs associated with this type of care end up hurting families — even those with insurance.
Access to primary-care physicians before their condition reaches a crisis point not only cuts down on costs, but it keeps patients healthier. I believe that we need to expand family-practice medicine and do more to encourage people to become primary-care physicians. I support expanding family-practice residency programs, increasing the Medicare reimbursement rates, and expanding loan forgiveness for those that choose to go into family practice.
[Wow! Congressman Harry Mitchell answered the question!!! Well at least kind of sort of answered it!]
Not a dime worth of difference between George W Obama and Barack W Bush! Heil Hitler! Heil Bush! Heil Obama!
Secrecy urged for terrorist watch-list data
Sept. 6, 2009 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration wants to maintain the secrecy of terrorist watch-list information it routinely shares with federal, state and local agencies, a move that rights groups say would make it difficult for people who have been improperly included on such lists to challenge the government.
Intelligence officials in the administration are pressing for legislation that would exempt "terrorist identity information" from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
Such information - which includes names, aliases, fingerprints and other biometric identifiers - is widely shared with law enforcement agencies and intelligence "fusion centers," which combine state and federal counterterrorism resources. Still, some officials say public disclosure of watch-list data carries the risk of alerting terrorism suspects that they are being tracked and may help them evade surveillance.
Advocates of civil liberties and open government argue that the administration has not proved the secrecy is necessary and that the proposed changes could make the government less accountable for errors on watch lists.
The proposed FOIA exemption has been included in pending House and Senate intelligence authorization bills at the administration's request.
Bin Laden calls Obama 'powerless' in Afghan war
Posted 9/14/2009 12:02 PM ET
By Maamoun Youssef, Associated Press Writer
CAIRO — Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden described President Barack Obama as "powerless" to stop the war in Afghanistan and threatened to step up guerrilla warfare there in a new audiotape released to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. In the 11-minute tape, addressed to the American people, bin Laden said Obama is only following the warlike policies of his predecessor George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and he urged Americans to "liberate" themselves from the influence of "neo-conservatives and the Israeli lobby."
The tape was posted on Islamic militant Web sites two days after the eighth anniversary of the 2001 suicide plane hijackings. The terror leader usually addresses Americans in a message timed around the date of the attacks, which sparked the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan the same year, and then in Iraq two years later.
Bin Laden said Americans had failed to understand that al-Qaida carried out the attacks in retaliation for U.S. support for Israel. If America reconsiders its alliance with the Jewish state, al-Qaida will respond on "sound and just bases."
The Saudi construction magnate's son-turned "holy warrior" and his deputies have frequently sought to wrap al-Qaida in the Palestinian cause, seeking to draw support in the Arab world, where the issue is one of the public's top concerns.
Al-Qaida has also sought to depict Obama as no different from Bush, who was widely despised in the Arab world for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and his close support of Israel. Obama has won greater popularity in the region, giving a landmark speech in Cairo in June, moving to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and taking a somewhat harder stance on Israel in the peace process.
"If you end the war (in Afghanistan), so let it be," bin Laden said. "But if it is otherwise, all we will do is continue the war of attrition against you on all possible axes."
"You are waging a hopeless and losing war for the benefit of others, a war the end of which is not visible on the horizon," he said, according to a translation of the tape Monday by SITE Intelligence Group, a terrorist-monitoring firm, and by The Associated Press.
Bin Laden, who is believed to be in hiding in the Afghan-Pakistan border region, said the current White House is merely following the Bush-Cheney strategy to "promote the previous policies of fear to market the interest of big companies."
When Obama retained the Bush administration's Defense Secretary Robert Gates, "reasonable people knew that Obama is a powerless man who will not be able to end the war as he promised," bin Laden said.
Bin Laden devoted much of his address to discussing U.S. connections with Israel and castigated Americans for failing to understand that the issue was behind al-Qaida's animosity. As he often does in his addresses, he cited books by American scholars and others that he said support his claim. Such citations also serve to show he keeps close watch on current events and media despite being a fugitive in a war zone.
"The delay in your knowing those causes has cost you a lot without any result whatsoever," he said. "This position of yours, combined with some other injustices, pushed us to undertake the events of (Sept. 11)."
"Ask yourselves to determine your position: Is your security, your blood, your children, your money, your jobs, your homes, your economy, and your reputation dearer to you than the security of the Israelis, their children and their economy?" he said.
If Americans realized the extent of the suffering "suffering from the injustice of the Jews ... you will realize that both our nations are victims of the policies of the White House," which he described as "a hostage" to interest groups and companies.
The message was issued late Sunday by al-Qaida's media wing, Al-Sahab, in a video in which the audiotape plays over a still picture of bin Laden. IntelCenter, another company that monitors terrorist propaganda, said the message is the 49th release by Al-Sahab in 2009. Al-Sahab is averaging one release every five days so far in 2009, IntelCenter said.
Sep. 13, 2009
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: Which group of armed men should we fear?
Touring the country to peddle his collectivist schemes, President Barack Obama made stops in New Hampshire and then in Phoenix during the month of August.
At several of these events, a handful of those who gathered outside the halls to protest wore firearms. No one got arrested, since no one brandished their firearms in a threatening manner. They just wore them, safely slung or holstered, which is still perfectly legal in both New Hampshire and Arizona.
The fact that many Americans need to be re-acclimatized to the normalcy of an armed citizenry was quickly revealed by the nearly hysterical rantings from the Left after the TV cameras picked up fleeting images of these legally owned and carried civilian firearms.
Cartoonist Ted Rall writes a syndicated column. Mr. Rall's Aug. 27 column says: "Two weeks ago, a right-wing man protested outside the president's health care meeting in New Hampshire wearing a gun strapped to his leg. ... A week later, a dozen men appeared outside Obama's appearance in Phoenix brandishing loaded guns ... (including) one, who carried an AR-15 military-style automatic rifle. ...
"Make no mistake: guns don't have anything to do with health care. This is a revival of Klannism. A black man is president, and the good ol' boys don't like it. That's what this is about: putting him in his place. Which, if they or someone they inspire has their way, will be six feet under. ...
"God. The smirks those turds wear!" Mr. Rall went on. "Run a Google Image search on 'Klansmen' or 'lynching.' Same ones."
Interesting. I chatted with 28-year-old Chris Broughton, a Phoenix machinist, the man who wore the aforementioned AR-15 slung across his back outside President Obama's Aug. 17 appearance at the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, there. (Needless to say, it's the kind that fires one shot each time you pull the trigger -- not an "automatic.")
Is Chris Broughton one of the "same ones" you'll find if you "run a Google Image search on 'Klansmen' or 'lynching,' " as Mr. Rall suggests? Only if you look at the guy hanging in the tree. Chris Broughton is black.
"MSNBC actually went so far as to edit the video so they (viewers) could only see the rifle," he told me. "You couldn't see if I was black or white, and then they used that video when they were talking about white supremacists and Nazis, talking about people hating a black president. They purposely cropped the picture so they couldn't see I was black as they used it over this report about dangerous racists and white supremacists. In the original video, my whole body was visible in the video the whole time. ...
"There's one point I've been meaning to make with all these different reporters," Chris said. "People are up in arms about me doing something perfectly legal at a time when our president is traveling the country trying to sell an unconstitutional health reform. ...
"Aren't the hospitals required to treat anyone in the emergency rooms? If they weren't required to treat people, then the costs wouldn't be spread to us, right? If you think about it, we already have universal health care. People are whining because health care costs are out of control. That's because the producers are paying for those who aren't producing. Universal health care will just be more of the same. If more people get free care and the rest of us pay for it, then prices are going to go up, not down. Anyone can figure that out."
I guess to some that's scary, racist talk.
Phoenix talk radio host Ernie Hancock, who was also armed that day, tells me that a group of marching, chanting guys carrying bullhorns and wearing SEIU T-shirts approached the corner where he and Chris were standing outside the Phoenix convention center on Aug. 17.
"They were telling people to get out of their way," Ernie says. "They acted like that was their street corner, like they had it reserved so they could stand there where the TV cameras could see them. But as soon as they saw a bunch of guys already standing on that corner, wearing guns, they got really quiet. One of the cops came up to me later and said, 'You guys did the right thing.' "
Barack Obama has thousands of guys -- many with real machine guns -- to help him promote his vision for a socialist America. But one guy with a semi-automatic, safely slung, standing outside on the sidewalk answering people's questions -- that's scary?
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the daily Las Vegas Review-Journal, and author of "Send in the Waco Killers" and the novel "The Black Arrow."
Obama's health speech is full of lies!
Obama speech doesn't quell cost concerns
by Ceci Connolly - Sept. 11, 2009 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - One day after President Barack Obama pitched his plan for comprehensive health-care reform in a joint session of Congress, administration officials struggled Thursday to detail how he would achieve his goal of extending coverage to millions of uninsured Americans without increasing the deficit.
In two public appearances and private meetings with a dozen lawmakers Thursday, Obama promised a "full court press," saying, "We have talked this issue to death." He also argued that new Census Bureau figures showing a slight uptick in the number of uninsured Americans only underscores the urgency of enacting major legislation this year.
The 10-year, $900 billion proposal envisioned by Obama borrows heavily from concepts circulating on Capitol Hill, but there was little immediate evidence that the broad ideas were sufficient to break a logjam in Congress. After refusing for months to identify himself with the details of emerging legislation, Obama for the first time Wednesday embraced a set of ideas as "my plan." But the White House released scant specifics on legislation advertised as including new taxes, changes in malpractice law, a new national high-risk insurance pool, a commission on eliminating Medicare fraud and tax credits for individual consumers and small businesses that can't afford insurance.
"His speech was very specific and, as promised, answered the big questions about how we should proceed on providing a secure and stable health system for all Americans," White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said. "Many of the details will be worked out in the legislative process."
Even the president's efforts to bridge the partisan divide - he endorsed two ideas developed by Republicans in his speech - were met with skepticism.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who grinned broadly Wednesday night when Obama announced that he was backing McCain's idea for a high-risk pool that would serve as a safety net for those individuals who are currently difficult to insure, was collecting signatures Thursday on a petition in opposition to the president's entire plan.
The Obama proposal is an "egregiously expensive and expansive form of government-run health care," McCain said in an online letter to supporters.
More troubling for Obama were the mixed signals from Democrats who, absent any signs of significant Republican support, have increasingly become the focus of the president's personal lobbying effort. After a White House meeting with the president, Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., voiced concerns that the most prominent health-reform proposals fall short.
"We all understand that we want to move toward universal coverage, but I don't think we're focusing enough on costs," he said.
Although virtually every Democrat found something to like in the president's 47-minute address, the interpretations of what he meant varied widely, suggesting more difficult negotiations ahead. On the controversial question of whether to form a new public insurance option, many liberals characterized what was widely interpreted as Obama's neutral stance to be unwavering support for the measure.
"We were pleased you explicitly expressed your support for a public option as a central piece of achieving true reform," leaders of the House Progressive Caucus wrote in a letter to Obama.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said the bill that will be sent to the floor for a vote in the House "of course" will have a public option. But other high-ranking Democrats suggested the idea could be sacrificed.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he could support non-profit, member-run cooperatives as an alternative.
Acknowledging that different wings of the party were focusing on the parts of Obama's speech that fit their own legislative preferences, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., nevertheless said the current state of affairs is far better than the infighting that led up to it.
"Are you surprised that people are focused on the part of the speech they liked best?" he told reporters. "That always happens, and we all do that. But I think we are making progress."
Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg said Obama's speech soothed voter unease over cost and likely resonated with middle-class insured Americans. "The critical step now is for Congress to move," he said.
Bruce Josten, a vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, however, said, "I don't think we heard anything from the president that sets Congress back on track."
The broad concepts sketched out by Obama would, if enacted, move the country to a health-care system in which individuals and employers share the burden of medical costs. Obama wants to give tax credits to working Americans and some small businesses to buy insurance, but he has yet to identify who would be eligible for the credits, how large they would be or how much they would cost.
Obama did specify one policy change to help pay for reform, singling out a proposal by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to tax insurance companies on high-priced "Cadillac" policies. Aides could not say at what level the tax would kick in or how high it would be, but Pfeiffer noted that Obama has previously endorsed other financing ideas.
"From Day 1, we have laid out several very specific options from within the system and to raise revenue to pay for health care. He outlined another proposal last night," Pfeiffer said. "What should be crystal clear is that the president is 100 percent committed to the signing a health-reform bill that does not add a dime to the deficit."
In a 3 1/2-page document posted on www.whitehouse.gov, the administration proposes a new commission tasked with ferreting out waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare. But some aides said the proposal entails giving the new panel authority to advance much broader changes in coverage and reimbursement rates under Medicare.
Many of the Obama concepts are similar to those in a blueprint drafted by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont. The panel's bipartisan "Gang of Six" negotiators still appear to be struggling to settle basic questions, such as how much health coverage uninsured people should be required to buy and how much the government should help to pay for it. That nettlesome challenge has dominated discussions in the group for at least two months.
Baucus hopes to release his bill on Sept. 18, with Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, appearing to be the Republican most likely to support it.
"The ideal bill would be one that takes the president's specifics, mixes that with what Democrats can agree to in the Baucus plan and stretch it to hold Snowe," said Len Nichols, head of health policy at the New America Foundation.
Obama's reassurances are just not believable
by Robert Robb - Sept. 11, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
If the American people want government to have a larger and stronger role in health care, so be it. I've long thought it was probably inevitable.
But the leap shouldn't be made based upon the reassurances President Barack Obama sought to convey in his speech to Congress. There's substantial reason to doubt each and every one of them.
Let's begin with the most important reassurance: If you like the health insurance you have, you'll be able to keep it. In the bills congressional Democrats have produced to date, this reassurance comes with a condition and an expiration date. Existing plans are grandfathered in, but no new enrollees are permitted. And after five years, all plans have to conform to new federal requirements yet to be determined.
Employers are not going to maintain plans for long that new employees cannot participate in.
More fundamentally, Obama's other proposals completely scramble the health-care market. The federal government will determine policies and benefits packages that can be offered. Medical underwriting will be prohibited and pricing differentials for other factors sharply limited. New taxes will be imposed on insurers and employers.
At the end, no one can say what insurance products will be available at what cost. Or what health insurance, if any, employers will offer.
And then, there's the public option. Obama says it will compete on a level playing field, but this is impossible to believe. The federal government isn't going to sponsor a health-insurance program and then be indifferent to its success.
The government-sponsored health-insurance plan will crowd out private insurers. We've seen this play before. Government-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dominated the secondary-mortgage market. When they got into trouble, the federal government bailed them out - as investors assumed would happen all along, despite claims to the contrary by federal officials.
If there's a public option, chances are, over time, private insurance will be relegated to a supplementary role, such as it currently has with Medicare.
The second reassurance in which the American people should place no faith is the assertion that health-care reform as Obama has proposed will not add to the deficit. So far, congressional Democrats have yet to field a health-care reform that doesn't add to the deficit. And that's after giving credit to phony savings from provider cuts that Obama says will pay for most of the plan.
This is a game Congress has played many times. When it needs to show some paper savings, it passes cuts to health-care providers, particularly in Medicare. Then, doctors quit taking Medicare patients and hospitals start to squawk. And the cuts are restored.
Health care isn't going to be expanded without it costing more, particularly if nothing is done to change the perverse economic incentives inherent in a third-party payer system.
Relatedly, the promise to seniors that Medicare services will not be cut also should not be credited. Even without health-care reform, current Medicare financing is unsustainable. The hospitalization trust fund is already running a deficit.
More directly, Obama cannot fund health-care expansion elsewhere through Medicare-spending reductions without cutting Medicare services or changing its basic fee-for-service approach. In short, Obama's pledge to seniors not to cut services is incompatible with his pledge to the American people not to increase the deficit.
Now, I happen to favor fundamental health-care reform. I'm among those Obama described as wanting to end employer-provided health care and make it an individually purchased product, the same as all other personal insurance.
However, the gaps in the existing system that most concern Americans are easily and relatively inexpensively filled: simply allow people who have expended a certain percentage of their income on health care to buy into the Medicaid program. No one goes without coverage because of pre-existing conditions; no one goes bankrupt because of sickness.
Despite his protests, however, Obama isn't really building on the existing system. Intentionally or not, he's proposing to blow it up. What arises in its aftermath is pure conjecture.
Reach Robb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch out Wall Street! Piss off Obama and no more trillion dollar pork handouts (well maybe a few billion dollar handouts if you grease the right hand in government)
Obama gives stern warning to Wall Street
'Reckless behavior' will no longer be tolerated
Sept. 15, 2009 12:00 AM
NEW YORK - President Barack Obama delivered a stern message to Wall Street on Monday: Don't forget what we did for you.
A year after the failure of investment bank Lehman Brothers and an unprecedented government campaign to prevent the collapse of the financial system, Obama encouraged the industry to reform itself voluntarily and not to stand in the way of new laws meant to prevent excesses from returning.
His administration has two major messages: The economy and financial system are indeed stabilizing. But that should not be an excuse for Wall Street to resume practices that precipitated a deep recession and trillions of dollars in government bailouts. "Normalcy cannot lead to complacency," Obama told an audience of bankers, traders, lawmakers and others at Federal Hall, steps from the New York Stock Exchange.
"There are some in the financial industry who are misreading this moment," he said. "Instead of learning the lessons of Lehman and the crisis from which we are still recovering, they are choosing to ignore them. ... We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess at the heart of this crisis."
Obama was seeking to refocus attention on proposals to overhaul financial regulation. His administration has identified this as a priority, but efforts have lost some momentum as the financial crisis has eased and lawmakers are occupied with the health-care debate.
In his speech, Obama offered a reminder that financial firms survived the meltdown last fall only because of expansive efforts by the government, which came at potentially huge cost to taxpayers. Among the dramatic actions were bailing out American International Group, offering a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. guarantee of bank debt, letting investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley come under the Federal Reserve's protective umbrella, and creating a $700 billion financial-rescue fund.
"Many of the firms that are now returning to prosperity owe a debt to the American people," Obama said. "American taxpayers, through their government, took extraordinary action to stabilize the financial industry. They shouldered the burden of the bailout, and they are still bearing the burden of the fallout."
Even absent legislation, he said that financial firms should use plain language in dealings with consumers, put bonuses for senior executives up to a shareholder vote, rework compensation practices to encourage long-term performance, help struggling homeowners modify their mortgages, and assist small-business owners and communities that need loans.
He also urged support for the far-reaching changes to financial regulation that he has proposed. These include creating a new agency with broad powers to protect consumers of financial products such as mortgages, give the Federal Reserve new powers to oversee risks to the overall financial system, and obligate firms to meet stronger capital and liquidity requirements.
Financial-industry officials, at least those who spoke publicly, said they agree with the president that fundamental changes are necessary.
"I agree with his comments on responsibility," said Timothy Ryan, chief executive of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. "We recognize that we have a responsibility to acknowledge that we helped contribute to the pain the nation is experiencing and that we have a responsibility to do what we can to diminish the chance it happens again."
But, behind the scenes, financial companies have pushed to dilute or delay elements of the administration's plan on Capitol Hill.
Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, an advocacy group invited to hear Obama's speech, said that she was encouraged by the president's focus on protecting consumers. "It's going to be difficult because of the special-interest groups," she said. "But, for the first time in eight years, we've got a seat at the table."
"Obama ... suspects there is a predisposition among some military planners to think more troops is the answer to almost any problem" - How true. Sadly people like Obama and Congressman Harry Mitchell think the same way. That more taxes and more government are the solution for every problem too.
Obama 'skeptical' about more troops
Reuters Josh Gerstein Josh Gerstein – Sun Sep 20, 9:59 am ET
President Barack Obama is warning U.S. commanders that he’s “skeptical” about whether more troops will make a difference in Afghanistan, saying he’ll approve an upcoming request only if the forces fit into a strategy to beat back al-Qaida and protect the United States.
“Until I'm satisfied that we've got the right strategy I'm not gonna be sending some young man or woman over there — beyond what we already have,” Obama said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I'm not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan or saving face or, in some way – you know, sending a message that America is here for the duration.”
U.S. generals are preparing to seek as many as tens of thousands additional troops for the increasingly unpopular conflict, but in several of his five Sunday talk show interviews, Obama made clear that he’s far from convinced about the need for a massive infusion of troops and won’t be rushed on the decision.
“We’re going to test whatever resources we have against our strategy, which is, if by sending young men and women into harm’s way, we are defeating al Qaeda–and that can be shown to a skeptical audience, namely me, somebody who is always asking hard questions about deploying troops— then we will do what’s required to keep the American people safe,” Obama said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
Obama also said he suspects there is a predisposition among some military planners to think more troops is the answer to almost any problem.
“There is a natural inclination to say, ‘If I get more, then I can do more,’” Obama said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But right now, the question is—the first question is, are we doing the right thing? Are we pursuing the right strategy?”
“We’re not going to put the cart before the horse and just think by sending more troops we’re automatically going to make Americans safe,” Obama told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Obama had made a focus on the war in Afghanistan a central tenet of his foreign policy when he ran for president – often holding up the decision to invade Afghanistan, home to the 9/11 plotters, as the right move compared to President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.
And earlier this year, Obama announced a new Afghan strategy and approved sending 21,000 more troops to the eight-year-long war, in part to provide security for the recent national elections. That would bring the total to 68,000 U.S. troops by year’s end.
But now the U.S. commander there, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is preparing to ask for thousands of more troops, right at a moment when U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan are hitting a peak and polls show a majority of Americans no longer support the war. Also, Obama is facing pressure inside his own party to bring the troops out of Afghanistan.
Obama denied a CNN report that the White House has told McChrystal to hold off on formally requesting the additional forces. The Pentagon is preparing to give the White House a report assessing U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Officials have said that report will not contain any requests for troop increases, but such a request is expected to come separately soon thereafter from McChrystal.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) picked up on the CNN report to question whether Obama was purposely stalling a decision on the troop increase. He said Republicans would back the president if he decides to send more troops to the war – but McConnell didn’t answer whether he believes more troops are needed now, saying that he trusts the judgment of McChrystal and other generals.
“We think the time for decision is now. As Senator [John] McCain has pointed out, when you delay a decision like this, you may be arguably endangering the lives of our soldiers,” McConnell said on CNN. “The sooner you can make that decision, the better.” Obama said during the interviews that he inherited a war and a strategy that had gone awry. In the ABC interview, Obama said that when he took office, U.S. efforts in Afghanistan were no longer intensely focused on Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
“When we came in, basically, there had been had been drift in our Afghan strategy. Everybody acknowledges that,” Obama said. “We lost that focus for a while and you started seeing a classic case of mission creep, where we’re just there and we start taking on a whole bunch of different missions.”
Obama also told CNN that narrowing the focus of U.S. operations in Afghanistan will also improve the chances of tracking down and killing Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
“If we have a overarching strategy that reminds us every day that that’s our focus… we have a better chance of capturing and killing him and certainly keeping Al Qaida on the run than if we start drifting into a whole bunch of other missions that really aren't related to what is our essential strategic problem and rationale for being there,” the president said.
During his Sunday show interviews, Obama sounded so intent on avoiding “mission creep” that at one point he seemed to rule out any use of American troops in peacekeeping operations that don’t have a direct impact on U.S. security.
“The only reason I send a single young man or woman in uniform anywhere in the world is because I think it’s necessary to keep us safe,” the president said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
If Obama meant to rule out the use of U.S. military personnel to ward off genocide or humanitarian crises, that would be something of a surprise. One of his national security advisers, Samantha Power, is renowned as an advocate of using force to head off massive human rights violations.
The reluctant approach Obama signaled toward the possibility of more troops in Afghanistan sounded broadly consistent with a suggestion his national security adviser, James Jones, made to U.S. commanders during a visit to the country in June. According to the Washington Post, Jones, using a sanitized abbreviation for an expression of surprise, said any request for more troops was likely to cause Obama to experience a “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? moment.”
Obama did not elaborate Sunday on the other missions which he believes distracted U.S. personnel. However, even as elections went forward in Afghanistan last month, his administration was stepping back from some of the Bush administration’s more ambitious goals for democracy in that country and elsewhere.
In recent months, U.S. military and diplomatic personnel have been more willing to cut deals and make alliances with regional chiefs that some Afghans regard as warlords. There have even been discussions about trying to co-opt elements of the Taliban.
“Afghanistan is very much still a tribal area,” CIA director Leon Panetta told Voice of America last week. “Some of the Taliban are to our discouragement are individuals who are engaging in military actions against the United States…Others are those who we think more concerned about trying to establish some stability. So, you don’t just have one brand of Taliban.”
Obama’s comments came as resistance to more troops is also increasing on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said last week that she supports putting time limits on the U.S. military commitment to Afghanistan. “I do not believe we can build a democratic state in Afghanistan. I believe it will remain a tribal entity,” she said.
Others, including Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) have called on Obama to set a flexible timeline for getting out of Afghanistan – much as many Democrats did with Bush on Iraq. Obama didn’t answer directly on whether he supported a timeline, but said his strategy contained “benchmarks” for achievements to assess the progress of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
Seems like Obama bends the truth a lot! Something which is called lying.
1) It's not a tax! Well no, he will tax rich people to pay for it.
2) People will be fined if they don't buy health insuranse. Well that is the same as a tax.
3) The government is going to magically reduce health care waste which will pay for the plan. Yea sure!
Obama pitches healthcare in Sunday talk show blitz
He says his message on reform is not 'breaking through.' His critics suggest it's not a communications problem: People just don't like the president's plan.
September 21, 2009
Reporting from Washington - Acknowledging that he hasn't persuaded the American public and Congress to support sweeping changes to healthcare, President Obama offered a humbling admission Sunday: His message is sometimes not "breaking through."
"I think there have been times where I have said, 'I've got to step up my game in terms of talking to the American people about issues like healthcare,' " he said during an unprecedented spree of appearances on five Sunday television news shows.
Asked if he had lost control of the healthcare debate at those times, the president said: "Well, not so much lost control, but where I've said to myself, somehow I'm not breaking through."
The president's Sunday blitz -- which skipped Fox News Channel -- marked yet another effort to explain to a divided public why he is trying to remake the healthcare system. Taped on Friday at the White House, his appearances on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Univision followed a prime-time address to a joint session of Congress this month and a series of town-hall-style appearances and rallies across the country aimed at reviving the fervor for "change" that propelled Obama into the White House. He also plans to be on David Letterman's "Late Show" tonight, a first for a sitting president.
The media venture underscores the administration's confidence that Obama is the best salesman for his policies.
But his critics suggested that people had heard the president's message -- they just weren't buying it.
"Actually, he has broken through. People don't like what he is selling," said Alex Castellanos, a Washington-based Republican consultant and campaign media expert. "This is not a communications problem."
The phalanx of TV appearances presents a risk for the president, as does his broader strategy of staking so much political capital on a healthcare overhaul, said Doug Schoen, a Democratic pollster who served President Clinton.
"If he doesn't get a bill, he's been on five Sunday shows, David Letterman, and, if he doesn't move the needle, it's hard to see how he wins. And the midterm elections become very problematic" for his party, Schoen said. "He is doubling down, betting the ranch and putting it all on the line on the basis that his communications skills are superior and that he can carry the day."
With the proposed healthcare overhaul, Obama and supporters in the Democratic-controlled Congress are promising better health insurance for Americans who already have it and coverage for millions lacking it -- without raising taxes on anyone who earns less than $250,000 a year. They are also aiming to rein in healthcare costs that are consuming a large part of the family budget and, through Medicare and Medicaid, the federal budget.
"I don't think I've promised too much at all," Obama said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” "Everyone recognizes this is a problem. Everyone recognizes the current path we're on is unsustainable. . . . We know that standing still is not an option."
Republicans are not the only ones resisting Obama's plans. So are some lawmakers in his own party.
Many liberal Democrats insist that any healthcare overhaul must include a "public option" -- a government-run health insurance plan to compete with private companies. That's anathema to Republicans and many conservative Democrats.
House Democratic leaders say they cannot pass a bill without a government-run insurance program, but it appears that the Senate cannot pass a bill that includes one.
Obama insists he has not given up on the public option, even though he has said that it's negotiable.
"I absolutely do not believe that it's dead," he said on Spanish-language Univision. "I think that it's something that we can still include as part of a comprehensive reform effort."
The president calmly addressed the fervor of recent protests and the public debate, suggesting that much of the vitriol aimed at him stems from a natural fear of "big changes" in government -- and not, as former President Carter has suggested, because opponents cannot accept the fact that an African American is president.
"Unfortunately, we've got . . . a 24-hour news cycle where what gets you on the news is controversy," Obama said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” "What gets you on the news is the extreme statement. The easiest way to get 15 minutes on the news, or your 15 minutes of fame, is to be rude."
Speaking about his political opponents' stance on healthcare, Obama said on Univision’s “Al Punto Con Jorge Ramos”: "I think that the opposition has made a decision. They are just not going to support anything for political reasons. . . . There's some people who just cynically want to defeat me politically."
The president has called for a civil debate, and analysts said his steadfastness and calmness set a certain tone.
"First, he is the administration's best spokesperson," said John Geer, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University. "Second, he gets to be the story, as opposed to others, such as Jimmy Carter, who can muddle and undermine the message."
Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, lauded Obama's strategy.
"It is a smart move to saturate the Sunday interview shows," West said. "This gives the president a chance to dominate the news cycle and get his views on healthcare into the papers. You cannot buy that kind of publicity."
Asked about the risk of putting so much on the plate without winning any converts, West said: "Presidents have to communicate, because if they don't, their opponents will fill the void."
Those opponents were ready for the Sunday media blitz.
Michael S. Steele, the Republican National Committee chairman, followed Obama on CBS' "Face the Nation."
"The president said a lot without saying anything," Steele said. "There was nothing that moved the needle on this debate."
But Castellanos, the Republican consultant, suggested that Republicans had failed to reach the public with their own healthcare proposals -- leaving Obama to benefit from the absence of a clear GOP alternative.
"If the Republicans have failed at anything, it's to be clear enough that there are alternatives to what he is proposing," Castellanos said.
But he suggested that the president's words could be lost in a storm of controversy -- amid conservative commentary on television, the recent tax protester march on Washington and the sheer length and contentiousness of the healthcare debate.
"When you drop a pebble in a still pond, you make ripples," Castellanos said. "When you drop a pebble in a stormy sea, you change nothing. . . . He dropped a few pebbles in a very stormy sea."
SPIN METER: $2 trillion in health savings? Where?
By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press Writer Alan Fram, Associated Press Writer – Mon Sep 21, 3:35 am ET
WASHINGTON – It was a watershed moment in the health care struggle: Leaders of the insurance, hospital and other medical industries stood with President Barack Obama at the White House and promised steps to save $2 trillion over the next decade.
Whatever happened to those savings, announced with much fanfare well before Congress had written any of the costly health overhaul bills now in play? Industry groups say they're a work in progress. Many health analysts say they're largely speculative.
"We should have cashed the check in May," said Joe Antos, a health expert for the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "Those numbers never had any great significance then and there's little now."
The White House event on May 11 clearly had political significance. It was an early sign that the same interest groups that helped derail President Bill Clinton's drive to reshape the nation's health system in the early 1990s were willing to give it a go this year. That helped create momentum for Obama's effort.
"The value is it showed the interest groups were trying to be at the table this time," said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan group that studies health issues.
The promised savings, however, are a different matter.
For starters, the $2 trillion in reduced costs for care, administrative work and other medical expenses were supposed to be savings for the entire economy, not just the government.
That means that even if the savings were realized, much of it — no one knows exactly how much — would not be available to help Congress pay for its health overhaul bills. Those measures have ranged from an $856 billion bill by the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to House Democrats' $1.5 trillion version, both covering 10 years.
So far, the pharmaceutical and hospital industries have agreed to cuts that would total $235 billion in 10-year savings for the government. That's a fraction of both the cost of health legislation and the $2 trillion in promised reductions.
"Insurance companies, drug companies are going to have to be ponying up," Obama said Sunday on CBS-TV's "Face the Nation," without specifying any amounts.
Health care executives say their effort to produce the savings is real and ongoing. They say they continue to talk, within the industry and with government officials, about initiatives to produce the money. Some would require federal approval, while providers could adopt others on their own.
"We're committed to getting rid of unnecessary costs," Dr. J. James Rohack, president of the American Medical Association, said in an interview.
Industry officials also cite a 28-page letter they sent Obama in June, following up on their May announcement, that described steps they were advocating.
In it, drug makers proposed improvements in assuring patients follow doctors' orders on taking prescriptions. Insurers wanted to streamline administrative work such as submitting claims, while the AMA said it has begun studying ways to reduce unneeded medical procedures.
The American Hospital Association said it was seeking ways to reduce hospital infections, while medical device manufacturers said they are looking for ways to reduce medical errors. Another participant — the Service Employees International Union, representing hospital and other health care workers — suggested savings through moving more patients from nursing facilities to their homes.
"We've been working with members of Congress to honor our commitment," said Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, the insurance industry trade group.
Analysts, though, say there are no assurances the proposals will become reality. The plans lack detail, could take years to perfect and implement, and in some cases could be resisted by practitioners inside and outside the medical profession who don't want to lose money, they say.
The AMA, for example, says money could be saved by forgoing unneeded procedures if doctors could be protected from malpractice lawsuits as long as they followed specified treatments. Trial lawyers are vehemently against limits on such suits, however, and it is unclear what Congress will do when these two well-funded lobbies clash.
Experts also cite the uncertainty of measuring how much money the proposals would save because it would be hard to calculate what medical spending would have been without them. In addition, it would be difficult to enforce the new rules. A medical company, for example, might lose income in one area but raise prices in another to earn the money back.
Robert Reischauer, a former head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and now president of the Urban Institute, put it this way: "There's no way they could make it a number you could write down on a deposit slip for a bank."
On the Net:
Kaiser Family Foundation: http://healthreform.kff.org/
American Medical Association: http://www.ama-assn.org/
American Hospital Association: http://www.aha.org/
Service Employees International Union: http://www.seiu.org
America's Health Insurance Plans: http://www.ahip.org/
I bet the Iraqi citizens are real happy that the American Empire invaded them and brought peace and democracy to their country! Honest! Really! Ok I am joking! But Congressman Harry Mitchell is glad he voted to continue the war! He can give his supporters pork because of it.
After years of war, Iraqis hit by frenzy of crime
Sept. 21, 2009 11:48 AM
BAGHDAD - The kidnappers holding an Iraqi auto mechanic's 11-year-old son gave him just two days to come up with $100,000 in ransom. When he could not, they were just as quick to deliver their punishment: They chopped off the boy's head and hands and dumped his body in the garbage.
The boy's final words to his father came in an agonizing phone call. "Daddy, give them the money. They are beating me," Muhsin Mohammed Muhsin pleaded a day before he was killed.
As the worst of the country's sectarian bloodshed ebbs, Iraqis now face a new threat to getting on with their lives: a frenzy of violent crime. Many of those involved are believed to be battle-experienced former insurgents unable to find legitimate work. They often bring the same brutality to their crimes that they showed in the fighting that nearly pushed the country into a Sunni-Shiite civil war in 2006 and 2007.
The result has been a wave of thefts and armed robberies, hitting homes, cars, jewelry stores, currency exchanges, pawn shops and banks.
Kidnapping, too, remains terrifyingly common, as it was during the peak of the insurgency. Now, however, the targets are increasingly children, and the kidnappers, rather than having sectarian motives, are seeking ransoms.
In southern Baghdad's Saydiyah neighborhood, photos of missing children are pasted on electricity poles and the concrete blast walls that enclose many areas of the bomb-battered capital.
There are few statistics tracking the number and kinds of crimes, in part because the government remains focused on the bombings and other insurgent attacks that continue to plague Baghdad and Iraq's north.
But in the minds of the public, crime has become at least as consuming as the violence directly related to the war. And like the lack of electricity and other services, crime is now a top complaint of Iraqis.
To cope, some businesses are hiring more guards and even taking their money out of Iraqi banks, believing it will be safer in secret locations under private guard or in banks outside the country.
Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said investigations found that 60 to 70 percent of the criminal activity is carried out by former insurgent groups or by gangs affiliated with them - partly explaining the brutality of some of the crimes.
"After the success our forces have achieved in tightening the noose on insurgent groups, we are seeing that some of them are turning to form well-organized criminal gangs," al-Moussawi said.
Some members of Iraq's security forces are also involved, perhaps a sign that militants are still infiltrating the security services.
In August, two gunmen in their 20s broke into a neighbor's house in Baghdad's southern Dora district, beheading a father and his 1-year-old daughter and severely injuring her mother and another child. They stole 5 million Iraqi dinars, or about $4,300, and some jewelry.
They were arrested the next day. One of them was a former soldier who left the Iraqi army seven months ago.
In one of the most high-profile crimes in recent years, several members of Iraq's presidential guards - which protect senior officials - broke into the state-run Rafidain Bank on July 28 and stole about 5.6 billion Iraqi dinars, or $4.8 million. They tied up eight guards at the bank in Baghdad's central Karradah area and shot each one execution-style.
Four of the robbers were convicted and sentenced to hang. Three others remain at large.
In another heist, four gunmen with Interior Ministry ID cards robbed a private bank on Aug. 13 after forcing employees into a side room at gunpoint. The gunmen surrendered after a shootout with police, and no one was hurt.
In April, Iraq created a military task force to battle gangland-style crime after gunmen with silencer-fitted weapons killed at least seven people during a daylight heist of jewelry stores.
Still, criminals continue to operate seemingly without fear of getting caught.
Muhsin Mohammed Muhsin, the 11-year-old, was kidnapped around noon on his way home from a neighbor's funeral on Aug. 31 in Baghdad's eastern Shiite district of Sadr City.
His father frantically searched through police and hospitals records and distributed his son's picture. The kidnappers called two days later.
"They were calling us once every eight hours for two straight days," said Mohammed Muhsin, the 39-year-old father of six. "They said, You are wealthy people' and asked for $100,000, but I told them I could only secure $10,000."
"The next day, the police found him dumped in the garbage ... with his head and hands chopped off. His body showed burns and marks of torture."
Muhsin is wealthy by Iraqi standards. Besides his work as a mechanic, he and his brother own a truck and two private generators that help power his neighborhood during frequent outages - a significant source of income that perhaps made him a specific target.
"He was the closest to my heart," he said of his son. "They knew whom to kidnap."
Sadr City, where he and his family live, is home to about 2.5 million Shiites and was a stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia of the anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who fought U.S. troops intermittently until he declared a unilateral cease-fire in 2007.
When it was under militia control, kidnappings there were extremely rare.
Alarmed by the crime wave, Baghdad-based businessmen Sabir Hassan, 54, and Alaa al-Moussawi, 45, have taken new precautions.
Hassan, owner of a transportation company, has hired two more guards to protect his trucks.
"The past four months have been scary with the number of criminal acts and robberies increasing, especially against cars traveling on remote highways," Hassan said.
Al-Moussawi, chairman of an export and import company, has pulled most of his capital out of the bank to keep it in a secret place.
"What feeds the fear inside us and increases our worries is that some of these gangs are members of the security forces," he said.
Tea Party protesters target Mitchell
Sept. 26, 2009 10:45 AM
The republic | azcentral.com
The Scottsdale Tea Party and the Arizona Federation of Taxpayers are conducting a protest today to challenge U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell on health care and tax and spend issues.
The protest will take place between 10 a.m.-noon at Goodwill of Central Arizona, 8912 E. Via Linda, Scottsdale,where Mitchell is expected to be participating in a drug safety event with the Scottsdale Police Department
I wonder if the govenrment lies as much as parents lie? Come on that is a silly question! The government lies more then parents? Haven't you heard of the police testilying? Ever hear of an elected official who did what he promised to do when he was running for office? What about those WMD or Weapons of Mass Destruction Bush told us that existed in Iraq? And Obama told us at least 5 or 6 lies before he got elected! And of course Congressman Harry Mitchell always slings the BS by starting out almost every question with "Both Republicans and Democrats agree that ... " and then he dodges the question and doesn't answer it.
Parents Lie to Children Surprisingly Often
livescience.com – Tue Sep 29, 8:32 am ET
Parents might say "honesty is the best policy," but when it comes to interacting with their own kids, mom and dad stretch the truth with the best of them, finds a new study.
From claiming the existence of magical creatures to odd consequences of kids' actions, parents often come up with creative tales to shape a child's behaviors and emotions.
"We are surprised by how often parenting by lying takes place," said study researcher Kang Lee of the University of Toronto, Canada. "Our findings showed that even the parents who most strongly promoted the importance of honesty with their children engaged in parenting by lying."
Lee and colleagues acknowledge that their work is preliminary, bringing to the forefront an issue that is rarely studied. They are not sure the implications of parental lying, but suggest such tall tales could give kids mixed messages at a time when they are trying to figure out how to navigate the social world.
Lies could also harm parent-child bonds, said study researcher Gail Heyman of the University of California, San Diego.
It could even keep children from learning certain rules. "If I am always lying to the child in order to get the child to do X, Y, or Z, then they have never learned why they should do X, Y, or Z," said Victoria Talwar of McGill University in Montreal, who was not involved in the current study. "If it's constantly being used, [lying] may be preventing learning opportunities for the child."
The scientists also acknowledge that it's sometimes okay to be less than truthful with a child, say, telling a fib about how beautiful a scribbled drawing looks. But Heyman urges parents to think through the issues and consider alternatives before resorting to the expedient prevarication.
The research is published in the September issue of the Journal of Moral Education and was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
The lies we tell
To get the scoop on lying parents, the researchers ran two studies in which parents and students commented on nine hypothetical scenarios in which a parent lied to a child to either shape behavior or make the kid happy.
For instance, one behavior-molding scenario reads: "A parent is embarrassed by a child's crying and says, 'The police will come to make sure that you behave if you don't stop crying now.'"
Another scenario, aimed at shaping emotions, goes: "A favorite uncle has just died and the child is told that he has become a star to watch over the child." Another emotion-shifter: "A child is told, 'you did a good job at cleaning up your room' after making things messier."
In one study, about 130 undergraduates read each scenario and indicated on a scale from 1 (absolutely no) to 7 (absolutely yes) whether their parents had said something similar to them.
Nearly 90 percent of students gave a positive rating (5 or greater) to at least one of the tales.
Then, the researchers tested the scenarios on nearly 130 parents, mostly moms, asking each participant to indicate whether they had told similar lies. Parents also rated on a scale from 1 (very bad) to 7 (very good) what the parent in each vignette had said. More than 70 percent said they teach their children that lying is unacceptable. Even so, nearly 80 percent of parents indicated they had told at least one similar lie.
Their own examples revealed parental lying went beyond the little white lie in which politeness or the child's best interest was at stake. Parents were fibbing to prevent tantrums or excessive talking, for instance.
Many parents reported telling their children that bad things would happen if they didn't go to bed or eat certain foods. One mother recalled telling her child that if he didn't finish his food he would get pimples all over his face.
Others reported inventing magical creatures, with one parent saying, "We told our daughter that if she wrapped up all her pacifiers like gifts, the 'paci-fairy' would come and give them to children who needed them...I thought it was healthier to get rid of the pacifiers, and it was a way for her to feel proud and special."
Why parents lie
Parents lie for various reasons, Heyman said, ranging from benefiting the parents themselves (say, lying to keep a child from crying when you head out for dinner) to protecting the child from scary issues, such as lying to a child about a murder in the news.
"Children sometimes behave in ways that are disruptive or are likely to harm their long-term interests," said Heyman. "It is common for parents to try out a range of strategies, including lying, to gain compliance. When parents are juggling the demands of getting through the day, concerns about possible long-term negative consequences to children's beliefs about honesty are not necessarily at the forefront."
Regardless of whether parental lying is justified, Heyman said parents should figure out their policy on it ahead of time.
"Parents often lie on the spur of the moment, and they don't think about what they're saying and how it will affect their child," Heyman told LiveScience. She added, "I think parents should figure it out in advance what their general beliefs are so when it comes to the situation you're working with your beliefs rather than what pops into your head at the moment."
Some Chicago residents hoping Olympics bid a bust
By DON BABWIN, Associated Press Writer Don Babwin, Associated Press Writer
CHICAGO – The mayor, the president and Oprah Winfrey may hope to return to Chicago from Copenhagen with the 2016 Olympic Games, but some around town hope the International Olympic Committee deems the Second City the second city.
As in second to Rio de Janeiro. Or Tokyo. Or Madrid.
The opposition is not as visible as the "We Back the Bid" signs plastered across town. But in a city all too familiar with stories of public corruption and problems with public services, there is serious concern the games can only mean more troubles — and bills — for residents.
"I know it's going to cost us money somehow," said Joseph Patrick, a 51-year-old stay-at-home dad. "The government doesn't have a job (so) the only place they can get money is from us."
A new Web site — Chicagoansforrio.com — is the talk of the town and features the game "Match the Olympic host with its estimated budget overrun." About 170 protesters marched outside City Hall on Tuesday night, many insisting that no matter what organizers say, the games will push people from their homes, lead to more corruption and raise taxes.
"I don't believe anything the city and the 2016 committee says," said Larry Rivkin, who grew up in Chicago.
At least one person was later arrested for trying to interfere with workers erecting Olympic symbols in a downtown plaza.
It's not that the bid does not enjoy wide support. Laid-off laborer Dennis Ries, 45, said the Olympics would bring jobs. Resident Molly Mason, 53, sees the games enhancing tourism and public transportation.
"There's no downside, only upside," Mason said.
Others note protests routinely accompany Olympic bids.
"The Olympics always galvanizes all sorts of opposition," said A.D. Frazier, chief operating officer for the 1996 Atlanta Games.
In Chicago, though, the opposition seems to be getting stronger.
A poll released this month by the Chicago Tribune showed residents almost evenly split, with 47 percent in favor of the bid and 45 percent against; that's a drop from the 2-1 support the newspaper found in a February poll.
The 2016 bid committee said its own poll last week shows support from 72 percent of Chicagoans. But even that segment has concerns.
Seconds after saying the games in Chicago would be "thrilling," Susan Blaine was wondering what tens of thousands more riders will do to an already overwhelmed public transportation system.
"A Cubs game turns my commute to chaos," said Blaine, 51. "You're belly button to belly button."
For others, concerns about taxes have only intensified since Mayor Richard Daley flip-flopped in April, telling the IOC he'd sign a contract promising the city would take full financial responsibility for the games after long maintaining he wouldn't.
"For a lot of people that was definitely a major moment, when they said, `Wait a minute, we're going to be ... on the hook financially for a very large amount,'" said Anna Tarkov, who writes The Daily Daley blog and opposes the bid.
Organizers have tried to allay such fears, but it can be a tough sell at a time of headline-grabbing corruption cases, the biggest one involving former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich — a Chicagoan accused of trying to sell President Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.
"I just think that the history of corruption sets the stage for a brutal series of events like misuse of funds and insider dealings," said Brian Hayes, 53, of Chicago.
Frazier, of the Atlanta Games, doesn't think the opposition matters to the IOC.
"They will probably be disappointed if there wasn't anything," he said.
Members of a group called No Games Chicago hope he's wrong. They're headed to Copenhagen to tell the IOC that Chicago is in such financial straits that it cannot afford the games and is such a hotbed of political corruption that it doesn't deserve them.
"We are bringing materials to back up our claim that Chicago is not fit to host the games," said Tom Tresser, an organizer for the group.
Jobless rate reaches 9.8 percent in September
By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer Christopher S. Rugaber, Ap Economics Writer
WASHINGTON – The unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent in September, the highest since June 1983, as employers cut far more jobs than expected.
The report shows that the worst recession since the 1930s is still inflicting widespread pain and underscores one of the biggest threats to the nascent economic recovery: that consumers, worried about job losses and stagnant wages, will restrain spending. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the nation's economy.
Most analysts expect the economy to continue to improve, but at a slow, uneven pace. Government stimulus efforts, such as the Cash for Clunkers auto rebates, likely boosted the economy in the July-September quarter, but economists worry that growth will slow once the impact of such programs fades.
"Consumers ... are going to struggle to increase their income," said Brian Fabbri, North American chief economist for BNP Paribas. "If they're struggling, they're not consuming. That just takes some of the legs out of recovery."
The Labor Department said Friday that the economy lost a net total of 263,000 jobs last month, from a downwardly revised 201,000 in August. That's worse than Wall Street economists' expectations of 180,000 job losses, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.
The unemployment rate rose from 9.7 percent in August, matching expectations.
If laid-off workers who have settled for part-time work or have given up looking for new jobs are included, the unemployment rate rose to 17 percent, the highest on records dating from 1994.
All told, 15.1 million Americans are now out of work, the department said. And 7.2 million jobs have been eliminated since the recession began in December 2007.
The stock market was down modestly in afternoon trading. The Dow Jones industrial average dipped about 5 points, and broader indices also edged down.
The department said 571,000 of the unemployed dropped out of the work force last month, presumably out of frustration over the lack of jobs. That sent the participation rate, or the percentage of the population either working or looking for work, to a 23-year low.
The unemployment rate would have topped 10 percent if the labor force hadn't shrank, Fabbri said.
Older, laid-off workers are dropping out and requesting Social Security at a faster-than-expected pace, according to government officials. The Social Security Administration said earlier this week that applications for retirement benefits are 23 percent higher than last year, while disability claims have risen by about 20 percent.
Meanwhile, the number of people out of work for six months or longer jumped to a record 5.4 million, and they now make up almost 36 percent of the unemployed — also a record.
Persistent joblessness could pose political problems for President Barack Obama, who pushed through an ambitious $787 billion stimulus package in February intended to "save or create" 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010.
"We still think the overall trend is moving in the right direction," said Christina Romer, chair of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. "We're going from much larger job losses earlier this year. They are moderating. We want them to moderate more."
Republicans note that job losses have continued despite the stimulus. "Wasteful government spending is not the solution to what ails this economy," said Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, chairman of the House Republican caucus.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday that even if the economy were to grow at a 3 percent pace in the coming quarters, it would not be enough to quickly drive down the unemployment rate. Bernanke said the rate is likely to remain above 9 percent through the end of 2010.
Besides the sagging jobs market, other potential obstacles to a smooth recovery include wary consumers, the troubled commercial real estate market, and a tight lending environment for individuals and businesses, said Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
"These challenges will likely make the recovery rather restrained by historical standards, with subdued levels of spending and lending continuing to hold back a more rapid recovery," Rosengren said in a speech in Boston on Friday.
Against that backdrop, key monetary and fiscal policy supports will need to be keep in place to help foster a recovery, Rosengren said.
Hourly earnings rose by a penny last month, while weekly wages fell $1.54 to $616.11, according to the government data.
The average hourly work week fell back to a record low of 33 in September. That figure is important because economists are looking for companies to add more hours for current workers before they hire new ones.
The uncertainty that surrounds the recovery has made employers reluctant to hire. The Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs from large corporations, said earlier this week that only 13 percent of its members expect to increase hiring over the next six months.
While job losses have slowed since the first quarter of this year when they averaged 691,000 a month, the cuts actually worsened last month in many sectors compared with August.
Construction jobs fell by 64,000, more than the 60,000 eliminated in August. And service sector companies cut 147,000 jobs, more than double the 69,000 in the previous month. Retailers lost 38,500 jobs, compared to less than 9,000 in August.
Government jobs fell 53,000, the report said, with local governments cutting the most.
One the bright side, temporary help agencies eliminated only 1,700 jobs, down from the previous month. Economists see temporary jobs as a leading indicator, as employers are likely to hire temp workers before permanent ones.
Tig Gilliam, CEO of Adecco North America, a temporary job agency, said the industry likely will add jobs next month.
According to a separate report Friday, U.S. factory orders fell in August by the largest amount in five months.
The Commerce Department said demand for manufactured goods dropped 0.8 percent, much worse than the 0.7 percent gain that economists had expected. The August decline reflected plunging demand for commercial aircraft, a category that surged in July.
AP Economics Writer Jeannine Aversa and Associated Press Writer Mark S. Smith contributed to this report.
Afghanistan will be Obama's Vietnam!Source
White House: Leaving Afghanistan not an option
By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer Ben Feller, Associated Press Writer – 40 mins ago
WASHINGTON – The White House said Monday that President Barack Obama is not considering a strategy for Afghanistan that would withdraw U.S. troops from the eroding war there.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that walking away isn't a viable option to deal with a war that is about to enter its ninth year.
"I don't think we have the option to leave. That's quite clear," Gibbs said.
The debate over whether to send as many as 40,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan is a major element of a strategy overhaul that senior administration policy advisers will consider this week as they gather for top-level meetings on the evolving direction of the war.
Obama has invited a bipartisan group of congressional leaders to the White House on Tuesday to confer about the war. He said the administration would brief leaders from both parties and key committee chairmen and would seek their opinions.
"They're an important part of this and the president wants to hear from them," Gibbs said.
Analysis: Campaign vow meets harsh Afghan reality
By BETH FOUHY, Associated Press Writer Beth Fouhy, Associated Press Writer – Mon Oct 5, 10:38 am ET
NEW YORK – As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama denounced the war in Iraq, saying there is no military solution there. Now he may be forced to decide there is no military solution in Afghanistan, either.
"He really did make a strong point as a candidate about the significance of Afghanistan as the place to fight against terrorism, but it's a lot easier said than done," said Natalie Davis, a political science professor at Alabama's Birmingham-Southern College. "You have a sense now that the current thinking among many around him is that this is a loser, that it really does resemble Vietnam."
Campaign rhetoric is coming up against a tough reality for the president, who now must make a crucial decision about how to proceed in what he's called a war of necessity.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that whatever course Obama chose would be consistent with his pledge during the campaign to treat Afghanistan as the central front in the war on terrorism.
"There isn't a military solution alone to any of this," Gibbs said, but rather "a series of solutions."
At issue is the recent assessment by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, that more resources are needed to fight the Taliban or any hope of a military victory is lost. McChrystal has asked for up to 40,000 more troops, a major combat commitment to a mountainous, ungoverned nation that has been a quagmire for every invader.
During the campaign, Obama vowed as president to send two more brigades — about 7,000 combat troops — to Afghanistan. He has done that and more, sending 21,000 troops to Afghanistan in March while vowing a new, robust strategy to keep the Taliban from returning to power.
But now, because of McChrystal's report, Obama is weighing the request for additional troops against advice from others on his national security team.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Richard Holbrooke, the special envoy to Afghanistan, are said to be leaning in favor of a troop increase while Defense Secretary Robert Gates has not signaled his preference. Others are more skeptical, including National Security Adviser Jim Jones and Vice President Joe Biden who wants Obama to consider dialing down U.S. forces in favor of a counterterrorism campaign along the Pakistan border where many al-Qaida operatives are believed to be hiding.
On that score, another campaign pledge could face a test. In August 2007, Obama made a major foreign policy speech in which he said that as president, he might order U.S. troops to breach the Pakistan border and nab terrorism suspects if there were "actionable intelligence" of high-level targets.
Obama's threat of military force in Pakistan was criticized at the time by Clinton, then Obama's chief rival for the Democratic nomination, and by Republican John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee. Both Clinton and McCain suggested it showed Obama did not understand the complexities of the region and that it undermined the U.S. relationship with Pakistan and its leader at the time, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
Even now, some of Obama's political allies are warning him against taking such a path, including Gen. Wesley Clark, the former supreme commander of NATO.
"Taking the fight directly into Pakistan with ground forces risks expanding the conflict and undercutting a fragile Pakistani civilian government," Clark wrote in a recent op-ed piece.
Right now, the border is being patrolled by unmanned aircraft, or drones, that have launched missile attacks on dozens of targets. Officials said the drone attacks have succeeded in taking out dozens of suspected terrorists.
Obama finds himself in a situation not unlike that confronting President George W. Bush in early 2007: Whether to buck public opinion and commit thousands of additional troops in a country riven by rivalries with an unstable and possibly illegitimately elected government.
But Bush's quandary was about Iraq. And faced with a growing insurgency and deteriorating military situation, Bush accepted the recommendation of his commanders and sent some 25,000 additional troops. Obama strongly opposed the increase and voted as a senator in May 2007 to cut money for troops there.
The strategy, undertaken just as the Sunni resistance was parting ways with its more hard line al-Qaida allies, worked. It stabilized the country and reduced the violence enough that the U.S. is on track to begin drawing down troops next year.
To be sure, the strategic challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't fully analogous, including the decision to send more troops.
Topographically, Iraq is much less daunting; its hot desert terrain makes a more manageable environment for conventional military maneuvers than does Afghanistan's often snowy and impassable mountains.
Iraq also proved to have no weapons of mass destruction and few if any links to al-Qaida or any other terrorist organizations before the U.S. invasion. Afghanistan, by contrast, served as a safe haven for al-Qaida plotters who launched the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Lets stick our heads in the sand and pretend we have not lost the war in Afghanistan
No Afghanistan pullout, White House says
Oct. 5, 2009 08:35 PM
WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Robert Gates appealed Monday for calm amid intense administration debate over the flagging war in Afghanistan, asking for time and privacy for the president to come to a decision - an apparent message to the commanding U.S. general there who has pressed publicly for more American troops.
Gates' careful remarks appeared to stand as an implicit rebuke of the man he helped install as the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, for his lobbying as President Barack Obama faced a critical week of decision over whether to escalate the Afghan war.
In two separate appearances Monday, Gates made the point that Obama needs elbow room to make strategy decisions about the war - as the internal White House debate went increasingly public. "It is important that we take our time to do all we can to get this right," Gates said at an Army conference. "In this process, it is imperative that all of us taking part in these deliberations - civilians and military alike - provide our best advice to the president candidly but privately."
Later, speaking alongside Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Gates praised McChrystal and said no matter what Obama decides the general will execute it faithfully.
The fierce Taliban attack that killed eight American soldiers over the weekend added to the pressure. The assault overwhelmed a remote U.S. outpost where American forces have been stretched thin in battling insurgents, underscoring the appeal from the top Afghanistan commander for as many as 40,000 additional forces - and at the same time reminding the nation of the costs of war.
Gates has not said whether he supports McChrystal's recommendation to expand the number of U.S. forces by as much as nearly 60 percent. He is holding that request in his desk drawer while Obama sorts through competing recommendations and theories from some of his most trusted advisers.
"I believe that the decisions that the president will make for the next stage of the Afghanistan campaign will be among the most important of his presidency," Gates told the Army conference.
In trying to blunt the impression that the White House and military are at odds, Gates did not name names. But his remarks came days after McChrystal bluntly warned in London that Afghan insurgents are gathering strength. Any plan that falls short of stabilizing Afghanistan "is probably a shortsighted strategy," the general said, and he called openly for additional resources.
That prompted Obama's national security adviser, retired four-star Gen. James Jones, to say Sunday that military advice is best provided "up through the chain of command."
Obama may take weeks to decide whether to add more troops, but the idea of pulling out isn't on the table as a way to deal with a war nearing its ninth year, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.
"I don't think we have the option to leave. That's quite clear," Gibbs said.
The question of whether to further escalate the conflict after adding 21,000 U.S. troops earlier this year is a major decision facing Obama and senior administration policy advisers this week.
Obama also invited a bipartisan group of congressional leaders to the White House on Tuesday to confer about the war. And Obama will meet twice this week with his top national security advisers.
Divided on Afghanistan, Congress takes up a massive defense spending bill this week even before the president settles on a direction for the war.
At issue is whether U.S. forces should continue to focus on fighting the Taliban and securing the Afghan population, or shift to more narrowly targeting al-Qaida terrorists believed to be hiding in Pakistan with unmanned spy drones and covert operations.
Gates and Clinton said Monday the goal for the war remains to disrupt al-Qaida and prevent it from again threatening the United States, but they added that a reassessment of the means to do that is appropriate. Speaking to CNN during a rare joint interview with Gates, Clinton said a "snap decision" about the next step would be counterproductive. The interview will air Tuesday.
Gates and some other advisers appear to favor a middle path. A hybrid strategy could preserve the essential outline of an Afghan counterinsurgency campaign that McChrystal rebuilt this summer from the disarray of nearly eight years of undermanned combat, while expanding the hunt for al-Qaida next door.
"Speaking for the Department of Defense, once the commander in chief makes his decisions, we will salute and execute those decisions faithfully and to the best of our ability," Gates told the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army.
The top three U.S. military officials overseeing the war in Afghanistan favor continuing the current fight against the Taliban, and have concluded they need tens of thousands more U.S. troops beyond the 68,000 already there.
Officials across the Obama administration have acknowledged that the Taliban is far stronger now than in recent years, as underscored by the U.S. deaths in Nuristan province.
The fighting Saturday marked the biggest loss of U.S. life in a single Afghan battle in more than a year. It also raised questions about why U.S. troops remained in the remote outposts after McChrystal said he planned to close down isolated strongholds and focus on more heavily populated areas as part of his new strategy to focus on protecting Afghan civilians.
Also being considered as part of a potential force increase is the impact on troops who are already stretched thin from fighting in two wars. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told reporters that he cannot rule out extending the length soldiers are sent to fight - from 12 months to 15 - although "I would hope we don't get there."
Casey also signaled that the year that soldiers are currently guaranteed at home between deployments could be at risk.
"Simple math: The more troops you have deployed, the less time they'll spend at home," Casey said Monday.
Congressman Harry Mitchell is using this weight as a congressman to get pork for veterans. Congressman Harry Mitchell is a war monger who supports the illegal and unconstitutional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He supported the Vietnam war too when he was Mayor of Tempe!
Vets await financial assistance
GI Bill benefits delayed, VA issuing emergency checks
Published On:Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., is pressuring the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to release GI Bill benefits to thousands of veterans, a process that has been delayed this year by an increase in veterans applying for federal aid.
For veterans attending college and awaiting financial assistance, the VA announced last week that it would begin issuing emergency checks sometime this week for up to $3,000 for tuition, books and living expenses.
More than 25,000 claims of GI Bill benefits have yet to be processed nationwide, leaving thousands wondering if and when they will receive assistance, according to a release by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Whether we’re in a bad economy or not, promises made to our veterans must be kept,” said Adam Bozzi, a spokesman for Mitchell’s office.
The bill, passed in 1944, provides returning veterans with funding for education, vocational training and home loans. It has undergone several changes since then, including the latest post-9/11 chapter that provides veterans who served after Sept. 11, 2001 with expanded benefits.
The expansion, which became law in August, has caused the number of applications for GI benefits this year to increase fivefold, said Lee Sevy, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services. Sevy said he blames delays in the system on this increase in applications.
“There has been a great number of veterans desiring to get the benefits from the new post-9/11 GI Bill, and this has created quite a large backlog,” he said.
Sevy added that Arizona’s Department of Veterans’ Services, which is not affiliated with the federal agency, has been working to help inform veterans of alternate options, including picking up an emergency check at the VA regional office in Phoenix.
“The only thing we [can] do right now is get the word out to veterans so they can make an intelligent decision,” he said.
Charlene Kamani, supervisor of the ASU Veterans Services office, said she also attributes the delay to the out-of-date system the VA uses to process new claims.
The University office helps veterans attending ASU navigate the transition into higher education.
“The technology their offices are [using] to implement this program is so outdated that they’re not able to handle and manage this number of claims all at once,” Kamani said. “They’re planning to upgrade those systems. It’s just a matter of funding and timing.”
Kamani added that the University is working with veterans affected by the delay by deferring tuition and fee payments, as well as offering financial aid.
“Our office and the University in general have taken a proactive approach to helping vets get started this term because we knew the VA would be backlogged,” Kamani said. “We’ve tried to offer them [benefits] to help them get started.”
Mitchell has been pressuring the VA since last month, when he wrote two letters to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki asking for “a full accounting of the problems the VA is encountering and what the VA is doing to resolve them.”
Mitchell is pleased the VA is making efforts to help veterans affected by the delay, Bozzi said, but is also demanding an explanation from the agency. He wants to hold a congressional hearing with the VA sometime this month, Bozzi said.
“Congressman Mitchell is not satisfied with the fact that there are still thousands of veterans awaiting their benefits,” he said. “In a difficult economy, it’s important that our veterans have the resources they earned when they joined the military.”
Obama tells us that he is doing a fantastic job protecting us from terrorists!
Hmmm... reminds me of H. L. Mencken's quote
"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."Source
Oct 6, 12:18 PM EDT
Obama: US 'making real progress' fighting terror
By JULIE PACE
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama on Tuesday thanked counterterrorism employees who work to prevent attacks on the United States and its allies, crediting them with "making real progress" in disrupting al-Qaida and other extremist networks.
"The record of your service is written in the attacks that never occur - because you thwarted them - and in the countless Americans who are alive today because you saved them," Obama told his audience at the National Counterterrorism Center outside Washington. "For that, America is in your debt."
Obama also warned, though, that the enemies of the United States are relentless, resourceful and "still plotting."
"No one can ever promise that there won't be another attack on American soil," Obama said. "But I can promise you this: I pledge to do everything in my power as president to keep America safe. And I pledge to give all of you the tools and support you need to get that job done here at home."
Obama's visit was meant to give a boost to analysts who work in obscurity at the center, a cross-agency body formed after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The center has a dual mission of intelligence analysis and operational planning. Employees collect and share information to combat terrorism within the United States and abroad.
Obama said he uses the center's "product" every day to make national security decisions. He spoke after meeting privately with the center's leadership.
Obama is using our tax dollars to get re-elected in 2012. Watch out Sarah Palin, Obama and the Democrats going to out spend you using taxpayer dolars!
AP IMPACT: Obama's travels carry a touch of blue
Posted 10/13/2009 10:08 AM ET
By Philip Elliott, Associated Press Writer
PITTSBURGH — For President Barack Obama, it's almost as if the election campaign never ended. Just look at his travel schedule. The same states that Obama targeted to win the White House are seeing an awful lot of the president, Vice President Joe Biden and top Cabinet officials. Only this year, the taxpayers are footing the multimillion-dollar tab for the trips, and Obama officials are delivering wheelbarrows of economic stimulus money -- also compliments of taxpayers.
An Associated Press review of administration travel records shows that three of every four official trips Obama and his key lieutenants made in his first seven months in office were to the 28 states Obama won. Add trips to Missouri and Montana -- both of which Obama narrowly lost -- and almost 80 percent of the administration's official domestic travel has been concentrated in states likely to be key to Obama's re-election effort in 2012.
While similar data hasn't been compiled for previous administrations, new presidents traditionally have used official travel to shore up -- and add to -- their political base. Just look at President George W. Bush.
"When we were trying to build support for key policy initiatives, it made sense for President Bush to travel to states with persuadable citizens," says Scott Stanzel, a former White House spokesman who was the press secretary for Bush's 2004 re-election bid. "That meant visits to 'purple states' where people weren't as likely to already support or oppose the president's plans."
For Obama, the key policy initiative early on was a $787 billion economic stimulus package. While aimed at the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, it also gave the new administration a chance to reap political benefits traditionally reserved for lawmakers touting pork-barrel projects back home.
Though insisting that the stimulus legislation include no such "earmarked" congressional projects, Obama, Biden and the Cabinet spent months traveling the country to announce billions of dollars in new federal job-creating money that was going for bridge construction and green-energy projects, and for extended unemployment benefits.
Biden in particular has been the bearer of stimulus good news, making nearly two dozen trips to 14 states to tout the legislation and its impact on local communities.
The vice president has made five stimulus trips just to Pennsylvania, a must-win state in 2008 that never faded from Obama's political planning meetings. All told, administration officials have been to the Keystone state more than three dozen times since January.
Obama spoke last month to the nation's largest labor organization in a packed Pittsburgh ballroom. Days before, Biden was at a Labor Day parade there and praised the reliably Democratic union members. Obama was back a week later, this time to meet with the leaders of the world's 20 largest economies, whom he had invited to the one-time steel city that the White House sees as a barometer of its political standing.
Yes, the White House loves Pittsburgh -- and places like it in states that will play a key role in 2012. When Obama visits cities like Cleveland and Columbus, or Detroit and Denver, he gets wall-to-wall coverage in the local press from the time Air Force One lands until it departs, and his poll numbers in the area generally tick upward.
In August, for example, Obama went to Elkhart, Ind., to announce $2.4 billion in stimulus grants for production of electric and hybrid cars. Indiana and Michigan -- the two states benefiting the most -- both backed Obama in 2008 and will be important politically to him next time.
Colorado, which has shifted from Republican-leaning to Democrat-friendly in recent years, had seen Obama officials 35 times through early August, including Obama's Feb. 17 trip to Denver to sign the stimulus bill into law. Virginia, which gave Obama a surprise victory in 2008 and has one of this year's two governor's races, has gotten 17 visits. Combined, those states have received $8.9 billion from the stimulus bill.
The White House defended the travel as necessary to promote the administration's agenda for the country.
"President Obama and key members of his team have traveled to communities large and small ... to discuss the encouraging impact of the Recovery Act and to reinforce this president's commitment to creating the kind of jobs that will lay a new foundation for America's long-term economic strength," deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.
Earnest said Obama plans to travel this week to Louisiana and Texas, states that Republican Sen. John McCain won in the 2008 election.
Sometimes, the administration's travel has been political as well as personal.
Before joining the Cabinet, many of Obama's appointees were popular figures in their home states -- four secretaries most recently were governors, four were members of Congress and Biden was a longtime senator. When they go home to announce a new grant or see a program firsthand, the administration has a spokesman who already has standing.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu, for example, has made California his top destination; the Nobel Prize-winning physicist taught at the University of California, Berkeley, until he joined the administration. Similarly, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shawn Donovan has made New York and Connecticut his top destinations; he was New York's housing chief before being tapped in December.
The AP review of travel costs -- some agencies refused to provide costs for security reasons -- documented that the taxpayers have paid at least $1.4 million for trips by top administration officials this year, and that doesn't include any costs for trips by Obama and Biden.
It also doesn't include travel costs by the secretaries of Homeland Security, Labor and Justice, whose departments declined to release tallies. Nor does it include the cost of security agents who travel everywhere with officials in the presidential line of succession, or the military aides who are always at their sides. It does, however, reflect the props needed at events, such as sound equipment, oversized U.S. flags, microphones and room rental.
Costs vary widely from trip to trip, and from official to official:
_Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood spent $747 to attend a Pullman Porters event in Philadelphia; he took Amtrak for the one-day trip.
_Commerce Secretary Gary Locke spent $8,013 to address the National Conference of State Legislatures, also in Philadelphia, also a one-day trip.
_Interior Secretary Ken Salazar spent $13,194 to meet with the families of Flight 93, the hijacked United Airlines plane that crashed into a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001; he returned to Washington that night.
Travel costs, provided voluntarily by the Cabinet agencies at the White House's urging, depend in large degree on the number of staff who accompany high-level officials. For instance, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson took a two-day trip to Tampa, Fla., that cost $10,408, with more than $9,200 attributed to traveling staff. While there, she spoke to the National Association of Black Journalists and announced $95 million in stimulus grants.
When Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made a two-day trip to New Hampshire in July, taxpayers picked up the $6,742 tab for the secretary, two aides and a dairy expert. Of that total, $4,467 went to staff costs.
Associated Press writers Devlin Barrett, Dina Cappiello, Kevin Freking, H. Josef Hebert, Kimberly Hefling, Henry C. Jackson, Libby Quaid, Eileen Sullivan, Erica Werner and Hope Yen in Washington and Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.
Standard Harry Mitchell and Obama tactic. Give money in exchange for votes! You can count on the seniors who get $250 payments to votes for Harry Mitchell and Obama!
Obama calls for $250 payments to seniors
Oct. 14, 2009 01:08 PM
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to approve $250 payments to more than 50 million seniors to make up for no increase in Social Security next year.
The White House put the cost at $13 billion.
The Social Security Administration is scheduled to announce Thursday that there will be no cost of living increase next year. By law, increases are pegged to inflation, which has been negative this year. It would mark the first year without an increase in Social Security payments since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975.
The $250 payments would also go to those receiving veterans benefits, disability benefits, railroad retirees and public employee retirees who don't receive Social Security.
Congressman Harry Mitchell is great at shoveling the BS. He can talk for hours with out telling you how he will vote! But give you lots of reasons to vote for him. Some quotes:
November 10, 2009
Why I voted for health reform
by Harry Mitchell - Nov. 10, 2009 12:00 AM
Special for the Republic
Almost everyone agrees our current health-care system is unsustainable. Yet most folks in Washington are more concerned with scoring political points for next year's election than delivering reforms we need.
Some on the left suggested we eliminate private insurance, and replace it with an all government-run system. Some on the right suggested we eliminate the employer-based system, and build a new one based on tax credits. I believe we need to keep what works and fix what doesn't.
H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, is far from perfect. No bill ever is. I believe it contains significant improvements from the bill that was circulated over the summer, in no small part due to feedback from constituents across the country. Doing nothing is the politically safe thing to do. But playing it safe is why big problems - like health care and immigration reform - haven't been tackled by Congress. That's why I voted to keep reform efforts moving forward. Doing nothing is not an option.
Over time, reform can slow rising costs and bring increased competition and choice to families faced with the quiet struggle to get by. Rapidly rising premiums hurt families - especially those with insurance. It's not fair for those with insurance to shoulder the burden of higher premiums to subsidize those who choose not to exercise personal responsibility. The average family policy now exceeds $13,000 a year and is likely to increase to $24,000 a year over the next decade.
Small businesses have it even worse. Since 2000, premiums have risen 130 percent, and are projected to rise another 15 percent next year.
Additionally, many who want insurance and are willing to pay for it are denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Too many families are one medical emergency away from raiding their 401k, going into foreclosure or declaring bankruptcy.
While concerns over some issues remain, the bill contains no death panels, government takeovers or dismantling of the private insurance industry. It doesn't provide illegal immigrants with coverage nor does it weaken Medicare. As someone who is over 65 and depends on Medicare, I wouldn't have voted to move it forward if it did. In fact, the bill strengthens Medicare by immediately closing the prescription drug "doughnut hole" and has been endorsed by AARP.
I believe further improvements need to be made and the House needs to work with the Senate to get it done. But we can only make improvements if we move the ball forward. American lives are depending on it.
To see how health-care reform affects you, visit www.mitchell.house.gov.
Harry Mitchell is a U.S. congressman representing Arizona's 5th District, which includes the northeastern suburbs of Phoenix, Cave Creek, Sunflower, Fountain Hills, Scottsdale, Tempe and Tortilla Flat.
Here is some new propaganda and lies on how Harry Mitchell, Obama and the other Democrats who handed out $2 trillion in pork claim to have created millions of jobs.
Laurie Roberts' Columns & Blog
Laurie Roberts is a columnist for The Arizona Republic.
Az stimulus job claims are overblown
No less than Vice President Joe Biden was in town this week, touting the effects of federal stimulus spending in Arizona.
“Folks, it's working,” a beaming Biden reported.
Actually, I agree. The stimulus is working. It's stimulating imaginations far and wide.
In Chandler, they imagine that a plan to install speed bumps and other traffic calming devices along a three-quarter mile stretch of a road will create 49 jobs for Arizona.
Over on the San Carlos Apache reservation, they imagine that using stimulus funds to give Head Start teachers a raise will save 53 jobs.
And at the universities, well, they didn't imagine anything. They just swooped in and vacuumed up nearly 10 percent of the stimulus money doled out in Arizona. This, to conduct research on such pressing issues as the effect of climate change on bluebirds and the division of labor among ants.
The ants, at least, have jobs.
Arizonans, not so much. Stimulus math, from what I can tell, seems largely based on imaginary numbers. According to the Obama administration, 12,283 jobs have been created or saved in Arizona thanks to the arrival of nearly $816 million in stimulus funds.
About 8,000 of those are school or government jobs that were spared – for now. Hundreds more were summer jobs for teens or work-study jobs for college students and as for the rest, many of the numbers seem highly suspect.
So I went to the state's resident expert on this stuff. Aaron Sandeen is the deputy director of the Arizona Office of Economic Recovery, the guy who was responsible for reporting to the feds how many state jobs were affected by the stimulus program.
Me: Do you really believe that 12,283 jobs have been created or saved in Arizona? Sandeen: “Absolutely not.”
Sandeen said while he's confidant in the number of state jobs saved, some of the job numbers elsewhere appear bogus, probably because the people who got stimulus money didn't understand how to report it.
“I don't think they got the proper guidance to calculate this right,” he said. “I think they just counted the total people that worked, not the total full-time equivalent hours, which means you can't compare this data to anything.”
In reporting jobs created or saved to the federal government, Sandeen said one job is supposed to be the equivalent of one full-time person working for a year, pro-rated to the 32-week reporting period. Instead, people appear to have just counted bodies.
Which is how Chandler comes to have created 49 jobs to calm traffic along a three-quarter-mile stretch of Knox Road according to recovery.gov, the website set up to track stimulus spending.
Jim Phipps, Chandler's spokesman, said the city reported everyone who would work on the $376,000 project – whether they worked a day, a week or longer -- because that's what the feds said to do. “I know now they're saying when you finally get the job going, you have to report FTE's on the job but those were not the instructions months and months ago,” he said.
Phipps said Chandler reported that the job would take 5,124 man hours.
That's two, maybe three jobs -- not 49.
Chandler isn't alone in achieving monumental job creation numbers.
Republic reporter Matt Wynn crunched the numbers from the 949 awards given to Arizona's public and private sectors. Reading this stuff will send your eyebrows through your hairline. (Try it. It's posted here. )
Glencroft Towers, for example, got $123,000 in rent subsidies for its low-income residents. For that, we are to believe that six jobs were saved. Greenview Apartments got nearly $64,000 in rent subsidies. Another four jobs.
Painted Desert Demonstration Projects, a Flagstaff company, got $21,000 to repair a school playground and install evaporative coolers. Jobs created: 10. Another 10 jobs were created when Smily-Lacina Joint Venture got $11,000, for a week-long job, painting a water tank building. Maricopa Community Colleges got $26,400 to provide health services to 1,000 low-income people. For this, they claim 34.5 jobs were created.
Then there are the universities. They slurped up more than $76 million for research, creating or saving 195 jobs, many of them student gigs.
That is $390,000 in stimulus funds for every job created to study a range of truly vital topics.
There's the $500,000 so ASU can study the division of labor in ant colonies, an undertaking that created two undergraduate jobs. Not to be outdone, UofA got $450,000 to study the division of labor in turtle ants, worth 1.46 jobs.
There is research on asexual fungi and research on East Antarctic bedrock and research on the impact of physical affection on stress. ASU got $115,000 in stimulus funds for that last one. Jobs created: 0.
In fact, of the $76 million tapped for university research, $40 million created no work.
Just in case you were wondering where all the stimulus jobs are…
To find out how federal stimulus money is being spent in Arizona, check out our searchable database.
(Column published Nov. 21, 2009, The Arizona Republic)
You can always count on elected officials and politicians to be liars and hypocrites!
McCain: Palin attacks 'vicious'
by Andy Barr - Nov. 25, 2009 10:23 AM
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday night that the attacks on Sarah Palin, his former vice presidential running mate, are unlike anything he has ever seen.
"I'm entertained and sometimes a little angry when I see this constant, vicious attacks by people on the left," McCain said of Palin during an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren.
"'I've never seen anything like it in all the years that I've been in politics," McCain continued, "the viciousness and the personalization of the attacks on Sarah Palin."
McCain did not mention that some of the harshest attacks against the former Alaska governor have come from former members of his own presidential campaign – who he has defended to some extent – but did said that he is "very proud" of Palin.
"I'm proud of the job she's doing. And I believe that she will play a major role in the politics in America. Americans like her," McCain said, "whether the New York Times and others happen to like that or not."
Asked about media circus that follows Palin everywhere she goes, McCain said, "I think it's fantastic."
The Arizona Republic is a member of the Politico Network.
The politically incorrect way to say this is "Please buy in the City of Phoenix so we can tax the krap out of you!" You see if you buy in Scottsdale instead of Phoenix Mayor Gordon doesn't get a cut of the sales tax.
Gordon, Rep. Mitchell stress buying locally
Mayor: Make 1 out of 3 purchases from local stores
by Cathryn Creno - Nov. 28, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
As the recession takes it toll on the state and municipal general funds, U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon on Friday joined forces with an organization called Local First Arizona and urged Phoenix residents to start making at least one out of three purchases in locally-owned stores.
The officials spoke at a news conference at an Ahwatukee Foothills Bashas'. The Chandler-based grocery chain, which owns Bashas', Food City and AJ's Fine Foods, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization last summer.
"For every $100 that is spent in a locally-owned store, we get to keep $45 of it in our community," said Gordon, quoting information from a national study of the impact of local buying by an Austin-based organization, Civic Economics.
Gordon said local companies like Bashas, for instance, not only tend to use more Arizona suppliers than chains that are based out of state but also use more high-level Arizona workers, including attorneys, accountants and advertising agencies.
"My call to action is that for every three purchases, make one at a locally owned store," he said. "That will help grow our economy."
Mitchell, whose family has lived in Arizona for generations, talked about less tangible contributions that locally-owned businesses add to communities: Festivals such as First Friday in downtown Phoenix and Bashas' recent turkey drive for a local food bank.
When in town, Mitchell said, he still gets haircuts at a long-time institution called Ray's Barber Shop, 905 E. Lemon St., in Tempe. His father went there and so did his grandfather.
"Now my son and my grandson are getting their hair cut there," Mitchell said. "There is something comforting about that. And you don't normally find that kind of thing if it is not a locally-owned shop."
Not everyone believes local shopping is a complete answer to Arizona's economic woes.
Reached after the news conference, Arizona's Walmart spokeswoman Delia Garcia shared data that shows that the Bentonville, Ark., retailer employs 32,000 Arizonans, spent $1 billion with Arizona suppliers last year, paid $342 million in state sales taxes and donated $10 million to Arizona charities.
Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who represents Ahwatukee and also spoke briefly at the news conference, noted that 40 percent of Phoenix's general fund comes from sales tax. He said it is important that residents shop in Phoenix stores - both locally and non-locally owned - to help prevent cuts to city services.
"You need a balance" of types of retail, DiCiccio said. "There is a need for everything."
Congressman Harry Mitchell says bend over I'm bringing you Univesal Health Care
Congressman Harry Mitchell says this won't hurt one bit, but please empty out your wallet before you bend over!Bend over! This won't hurt at all! Congressman Harry Mitchell is bringing you Universal Health Care! And empty out your wallet before you bend over.
Pain, then gain in health reform
Costs will come quickly; benefits will develop gradually
Dec. 23, 2009 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Americans will feel the pain before the gain from the health-care overhaul Democrats are close to pushing through Congress.
Proposed taxes and fees on upper-income earners, insurers, even tanning parlors, take effect quickly. So would Medicare cuts.
Benefits, such as subsidies for lower middle-income households, consumer protections for all, eliminating the prescription-coverage gap for seniors, come gradually. "There's going to be an expectations gap, no question about that," said Drew Altman, president of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. "People are going to see their premiums and out-of-pocket costs go up before the tangible benefits kick in."
Most of the 30 million uninsured helped by the bill won't get coverage until 2013 at the earliest, well after the next presidential election.
More than two-thirds of Americans get their coverage through large employer plans and their premiums won't go up because of the legislation, according to number-crunchers at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
But Congress can't abolish medical inflation, so don't hold your breath waiting for premiums to drop.
For people who buy their own insurance policies - about one of every six Americans - premiums will go up. But that's for better benefits prescribed under the legislation. And about half of those Americans would get tax credits to substantially lower their costs.
Don't forget Tempe Congressman Harry Mitchell voted to screw you with Universal Health Care! Vote Congressman Harry Mitchell out of office!
For the first time, the government would require nearly every American to carry insurance. When I was working I bought health insuranse for about $1,000 a year. Under the "new" government plan I bet it will cost me at least $5,000 a year to buy the health insurance the government will force on me.
A couple reasons for that. I used to buy insuranse with a high deductable. I bet the government forces me to buy insuranse with a much lower deductable, which will cause the cost to rise. I am a very healthy person and because of that I got a lower rate. Since the government forces insuranse companies to insure people with pre-existing conditions that will make my insuranse cost sky rocket.
Landmark health-care measure OK'd by Senate on 60-39 vote
by Erica Werner - Dec. 24, 2009 08:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats passed a landmark health care bill in a climactic Christmas Eve vote that could define President Barack Obama's legacy and usher in near-universal medical coverage for the first time in the country's history.
"We are now finally poised to deliver on the promise of real, meaningful health insurance reform that will bring additional security and stability to the American people," Obama said shortly after the Senate acted. [What a bunch of BS!]
"This will be the most important piece of social legislation since Social Security passed in the 1930s," said Obama, standing with Vice President Joe Biden in the State Room of the White House.
The 60-39 vote on a cold winter morning capped months of arduous negotiations and 24 days of floor debate. It also followed a succession of failures by past congresses to get to this point. Biden presided as 58 Democrats and two independents voted "yes." Republicans unanimously voted "no."
The tally far exceeded the simple majority required for passage.
The Senate's bill must still be merged with legislation passed by the House before Obama could sign a final bill in the new year. There are significant differences between the two measures but Democrats say they've come too far now to fail.
Both bills would extend health insurance to more than 30 million more Americans. Obama said the legislation "includes the toughest measures ever taken to hold the insurance industry accountable." [Translation - this bill will give 30 million Americans free health insuranse and make the rest of us pay for it. Making the insurance industry accountable - this is PC for making the insuranse companies give out free insuranse which the rest of us will pay for.]
Vicki Kennedy, the widow of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, who made health reform his life's work, watched the vote from the gallery. So did Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., the longest-serving House member and a champion of universal health care his entire career.
"This morning isn't the end of the process, it's merely the beginning. We'll continue to build on this success to improve our health system even more," Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said before the vote. "But that process cannot begin unless we start today ... there may not be a next time."
At a news conference a few moments later, Reid said the vote "brings us one step closer to making Ted Kennedy's dream a reality."
The Nevadan said that "every step of this long process has been an enormous undertaking."
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee, said he "very happy to see people getting health care they could not get."
It was the Senate's first Christmas Eve vote since 1895, when the matter at hand was a military affairs bill concerning employment of former Confederate officers, according to the Senate Historical Office.
The House passed its own measure in November. The White House and Congress have now come further toward the goal of a comprehensive overhaul of the nation's health care system than any of their predecessors.
The legislation would ban the insurance industry from denying benefits or charging higher premiums on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions. [Translation - this will make insuranse costs skyrocket] The Congressional Budget Office predicts the bill will reduce deficits by $130 billion over the next 10 years, an estimate that assumes lawmakers carry through on hundreds of billions of dollars in planned cuts to insurance companies and doctors, hospitals and others who treat Medicare patients. [Translation - We came up with these numbers so you think its free. But when the public gets the bill they will have been screwed!]
For the first time, the government would require nearly every American to carry insurance, and subsidies would be provided to help low-income people to do so. Employers would be induced to cover their employees through a combination of tax credits and penalties. The legislation costs nearly $1 trillion over 10 years and is paid for by a combination of taxes, fees and cuts to Medicare [yea and you can bet the crooks in Congress used smoke and mirrors to come up with those numbers].
Republicans were withering in their criticism of what they deemed a budget-busting government takeover. If the measure were worthwhile, contended Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., "they wouldn't be rushing it through Congress on Christmas Eve."
House Minority Leader John Boehner assailed the bill moments after passage.
"Not even Ebenezer Scrooge himself could devise a scheme as cruel and greedy as Democrats' government takeover of health care," the Ohio Republican said in a statement.
"Senator Reid's health care bill increases premiums for families and small businesses, raises taxes during a recession, cuts seniors' Medicare benefits, adds to our skyrocketing debt, and puts bureaucrats in charge of decisions that should be made by patients and doctors," he said.
The occasion was moving for many who'd followed Kennedy, who died in August.
"He's having a merry Christmas in Heaven," Sen. Paul Kirk, D-Mass., appointed to fill Kennedy's seat, told reporters after the tally.
Kirk said he was "humbled to be here with the honor of casting essentially his vote."
Said Dingell: "This is for me, this is for my dad, this is for the country."
Reid nailed the last votes down in a rush of dealmaking in the last week that is now coming under attack because of special provisions obtained by a number of senators. In Nebraska, home to conservative Democrat Ben Nelson, the Democrats' crucial 60th vote, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of a planned Medicaid expansion in perpetuity, the only state getting that deal.
Negotiations between the House and Senate to reconcile differences between the two bills are expected to begin as soon as next week. The House bill has stricter limits on abortion than the Senate, and unlike the House, the Senate measure omits a government-run insurance option, which liberals favored to apply pressure on private insurers but Democratic moderates opposed as an unwarranted federal intrusion. Obama has signaled he will sign a bill even if it lacks that provision.
Don't forget Tempe Congressman Harry Mitchell voted to screw you with Universal Health Care! Vote Congressman Harry Mitchell out of office!
It's just a shell game! We were promised Universal Health Care for FREE! As expected we don't get anything for FREE, execpt a bunch of new taxes!
Pain before gain in health care overhaul
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR (AP)
WASHINGTON — The costs of health care reform being pushed through Congress by Democrats will be felt long before the benefits.
Proposed taxes and fees on upper-income earners, insurers, even tanning parlors, take effect quickly. So would Medicare cuts.
Benefits, such as subsidies for lower middle-income households, consumer protections for all, and eliminating the prescription coverage gap for seniors, come gradually.
"There's going to be an expectations gap, no question about that," said Drew Altman, president of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. "People are going to see their premiums and out-of-pocket costs go up before the tangible benefits kick in."
Most of the 30 million uninsured helped by the bill won't get coverage until 2013 at the earliest, well after the next presidential election.
More than two-thirds of Americans get their coverage through large employer plans and their premiums won't go up because of the legislation, according to number crunchers at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
But Congress can't abolish medical inflation, so don't hold your breath waiting for premiums to drop.
For people who buy their own insurance policies — about one of every six Americans — premiums will go up. But that's for better benefits prescribed under the legislation. And about half of them would get tax credits to substantially lower their costs.
As Senate Democrats cleared the second of three 60-vote procedural hurdles, over unanimous GOP opposition Tuesday, it looked like the White House was already celebrating. "Health care reform is not a matter of if, health care reform now is a matter of when, and I think the president is enormously encouraged by that," declared spokesman Robert Gibbs.
Republicans, bolstered by opinion polls that show a majority of Americans opposed to the legislation, aimed their fire at dozens of deals Democratic leaders cut to line up the 60 votes needed in the Senate. "Senator so-and-so may have gotten his deal," said GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "But the American people haven't signed off."
If the Senate passes the bill Thursday, as now seems likely, the pressure will be on Democrats to quickly sort out House and Senate differences and get final legislation to Obama's desk. That would end a divisive debate that has soured the public mood.
But there are significant differences between the bills, including stricter abortion language in the House version as well as a government-run insurance plan that is missing from the Senate package. The Senate plan also embraces a tax on high-value insurance plans, something strongly opposed by unions and many House Democrats.
One thing that won't emerge in the end is a government takeover of health care. The government-run insurance plan some liberals were hoping would be a step to Medicare-for-all lacks support in the Senate. If negotiators put it back, moderate Democrats in the Senate say they'll oppose the final bill. And Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., needs every one of his party's 60 votes.
Instead, the final package could end up looking like the Medicare prescription drug benefit, delivered through private insurance companies but subsidized and regulated by the government.
Just as seniors now pick their drug coverage from a range of private plans, Americans who were previously uninsured would select brand-name coverage through a new kind of insurance supermarket called an exchange. As seniors do today, they would have to pay part of the cost themselves. Most people with employer coverage wouldn't need to go to the exchange.
The exchanges could be national, regional or state-based. They'd be up and running in 2013 under the House bill, a year later in the Senate version. Around that same time, other major changes would snap into place:
_Health insurance companies would be prohibited from denying coverage to people with health problems, or charging them more. [Of course this will drive health care costs thru the roof for healthy people]
_For the first time, Americans would be required to carry health insurance, either through an employer, Medicare or Medicaid, or by buying it themselves. Refusal would bring fines, except in cases of financial hardship. [So it is a TAX, not a Univesal Health Care plan]
_Federal subsidies would start flowing to individuals and small businesses buying coverage in the exchange, helping them afford the premiums.
_Most employers would be required to offer coverage or pay a tax, [Again driving the cost of doing business thru the roof] under the House bill. In the Senate version, employers would get a bill if any of their workers got subsidized coverage in the exchange.
_Medicaid coverage would be expanded to pick up millions more living near the poverty line.
Debated since President Harry Truman's administration, health care overhaul would finally be in place. An estimated 94 percent to 96 percent of Americans, not counting illegal immigrants, would have coverage.
But there's a catch.
Cost is the Achilles' heel of the whole complicated undertaking. To keep the cost of the bill at around $1 trillion over 10 years, lawmakers had to limit subsidies for people seeking coverage through the exchange. [You can bet the Congressmen fudged the numbers on this. It will probably cost 10 times what they estimate it will cost]
The aid tapers off dramatically for households with solid middle-class incomes. A family of four making $66,000 a year would still have to spend about 10 percent of its income on premiums [Which will be about $1,650 a person. And they probably fudged the numbers to sell the plan so the cost will probably be a lot more like it always is in these government plans] — less than a mortgage but more than a car payment. And that's without counting copayments and deductibles. Several million otherwise eligible Americans could still be priced out.
Altman, the Kaiser Foundation expert, thinks Democrats won't be able to resist the temptation to keep tinkering with the legislation to improve or speed up coverage. "The legislation is going to be out there, and politics can change," he said. "There's a potential for modification and amendment."
Health care overhaul could be back for an encore.
Don't forget Tempe Congressman Harry Mitchell voted to screw you with Universal Health Care! Vote Congressman Harry Mitchell out of office!
Healthcare overhaul one step closer to completion
By Janet Hook
December 24, 2009 | 6:51 p.m.
Reporting from Washington - The drive to enact President Obama's sweeping healthcare overhaul entered its final phase with today's passage of the Senate bill, but hardened differences with the House -- over abortion, taxes and the government's role in the insurance market -- remain to be resolved.
While Congress will not reconvene until mid-January, efforts to reconcile the two versions of the bill are underway on an informal level, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said they would continue next week.
The 60-39 vote on strict party lines came in an unusual Christmas Eve session, with exhausted senators gathering at 7 a.m. It was the 25th day of debate, and Vice President Joe Biden -- who by law serves as the chamber's president -- made a rare appearance to oversee the roll call.
"With today's vote, we are now incredibly close to making health insurance reform a reality in this country," Obama said. "Our challenge, then, is to finish the job. We can't doom another generation of Americans to soaring costs and eroding coverage."
The bill that goes back to the House and Senate for a vote almost certainly will increase the number of people covered by government and private insurance by at least 30 million.
It will require most individuals to buy coverage, offer federal subsidies to help pay premiums, impose penalties on employers that do not offer affordable policies and set up an insurance marketplace for individuals without job-based coverage.
It will not, however, include a government-run insurance program.
In addition, insurers no longer will be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions or set a lifetime cap on benefits. Young adults will be able to stay on their parents' plan longer, and families' preventive healthcare -- such as well-baby visits and mammograms -- will be 100% covered.
The price of changing how America gets its healthcare would, under the Senate bill, cost $871 billion over 10 years. However, tax increases and spending cuts called for in the legislation would end up reducing the federal deficit over time [if you beleive in the tooth fairy you probably will slso beleive this! Yea sure!!!!!].
"This is a victory because we've affirmed that the ability to live a healthy life in this great country is a right, not a privilege," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). [This plan is a jobs program for doctors and others who provide medical services. It is pure pork that will increase the cost of medical services]
Despite bipartisan consensus that the nation's current healthcare system was unacceptable, debate in the Senate was especially bitter, personal and partisan.
Not a single Republican voted for the bill; the only one who did not cast a "no" vote was Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), who was absent because of family commitments, his office said. And GOP leaders did everything they could to delay the vote. They spent more than 80 hours in Senate floor speeches denouncing the Democrats' bill as an expensive, ill-considered, pork-laden "monstrosity" that would do little to curb costs and rising insurance premiums.
Undaunted by the Christmas Eve vote, Republicans vowed to keep up the battle -- not just in Congress, but on the campaign trail during the 2010 mid-term elections.
"This fight isn't over," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). "I guarantee you the people who voted for this bill are going to get an earful when they finally get home for the first time since Thanksgiving. They know there is widespread opposition to this monstrosity."
Underscoring the drama, senators cast their votes from their desks on the Senate floor -- a custom reserved for the most momentous occasions.
Watching from the public gallery were soldiers in the long battle for universal healthcare, such as Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.). Also present was Victoria Kennedy, widow of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), a lifelong champion of universal healthcare who died of cancer in August.
"This is for my friend Ted Kennedy," the ailing, 92-year-old Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) said before casting his vote.
In a sign of exhaustion after weeks of round-the-clock work on the bill, Reid accidentally voted "no" when his turn came. As his colleagues burst into laughter, he threw up his hands and corrected the mistake.
"I spent a very restless night last night trying to figure out how I could show some bipartisanship," he joked afterward. "I think I was able to accomplish that for a few minutes today."
The outcome of the Senate vote had been all but certain since last weekend, when the last two holdouts in the Democratic caucus -- Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) -- were persuaded to support the bill. That gave Democrats the 60 votes needed to break a threatened Republican filibuster.
Lieberman joined the effort after Reid dropped the most controversial part of the plan: a government-run "public option" that would compete with private companies to make premiums more affordable. Nelson held out for tighter restrictions on federal funding of abortions.
Those issues will have to be revisited in House-Senate negotiations to craft a compromise bill.
Typically, joint House-Senate conference committees are made up of the chairmen whose committees the bills passed through. In this case, that would mean Baucus, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Reps. George Miller (D-Martinez), Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), and Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.).
But as the Senate completed its work today, sentiments were growing on Capitol Hill that a formal conference may not be necessary.
Since Democrats see no hope of attracting GOP support, it is possible that a handful of leaders from both chambers -- and perhaps some key committee chairs -- would hammer out a deal behind closed doors.
Members of the Obama administration also will be heavily involved in the talks.
"We've got two bills, one in the House, one in the Senate; they're 95% similar," White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said. "We're going to be actively working to iron out the rest of the differences and get a bill passed and signed."
One of the thorniest issues is abortion.
Language in the House bill, drafted by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), would prohibit anyone receiving federal premium subsidies from buying a policy through the insurance exchange that covers abortion. The Senate bill would prohibit the use of federal funds for such coverage, requiring insurers to segregate public and private funds to assure that. Stupak has pledged to fight the less-restrictive Senate language, but it was unclear how many anti-abortion Democrats would vote against the entire bill over that issue.
Another politically explosive question is how to raise revenues to pay for new healthcare programs. [Translation they are going to tax the krap out of us to pay for this!]
The Senate bill would impose a 40% excise tax on high-cost insurance plans -- a tax that analysts predict would be passed on to consumers in higher premiums or reduced benefits. That "Cadillac tax" is a deal-breaker for labor unions, which argue that workers have given up wage increases in exchange for negotiating generous benefit packages. But advocates of the Cadillac tax say it will help contain healthcare costs by discouraging companies and employers from offering high-end plans.
The House bill would pay for its plan by imposing an income tax surcharge of up to 5.4% on individuals making more than $500,000 and families making more than $1 million. [While taxing the krap out of the rich to pay for programs for the poor sounds great on paper it never works. The rich always evade the high taxes and the poor get screwed either way]
In a Wednesday conference call of House Democrats to discuss the upcoming negotiations, some lawmakers reportedly expressed anger at the presumption that they would accede to the Cadillac tax and other Senate concessions in order to appease conservatives.
According to sources who participated in the call and requested anonymity when discussing party strategy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) assured her rank and file that the House would not just rubber stamp the Senate bill.
Among the issues House Democrats may try to insist on, a leadership aide said, was having premium subsidies and insurance exchanges take effect in 2013; the Senate's start date for many key provisions is 2014. House Democrats also want to increase federal premium subsidies for low- and middle-income people over Senate levels, and make the exchanges a national marketplace rather than the state-based programs the Senate wants.
But if the Senate prevails on key points, the compromise bill may be more appealing to conservative Democrats.
Lawmakers hope to send a final bill to the White House before Obama delivers his State of the Union address in late January or early February, but they say it probably will take a bit longer.
James Oliphant in the Washington Bureau contributed to this report.
A simple way of explaining the plan is "bend over and spread your legs as wide as you can, your going to be screwed by the government" - That's the politically incorrect explanation. Government rulers always give a sugar coated version.
Understanding the effects of the health-care overhaul
House, Senate bills target coverage criteria, sanctions, more
Dec. 25, 2009 12:00 AM
Wire services .
WASHINGTON - The health-care bills recently approved by the Senate and House would expand coverage to at least 31 million Americans who don't have coverage and enact safeguards for those who already have it.
For example, insurance companies would be prohibited from setting caps on total payments, or denying coverage on the basis of a pre-existing health condition. [Which will drive costs thru the roof for paying customers]
Young adults up to age 26 would be able to stay longer on their parents' health plan. Families would pay nothing for preventive health care such as well-baby visits and mammograms. [Which will drive costs thru the roof] However, the bills would for the first time require most individuals to buy health insurance. They would offer federal subsidies to help pay premiums and impose penalties on employers that do not offer workers affordable policies.
They also would set up an insurance exchange in which individuals could shop for coverage if they have no job-based option.
Here's how you might be affected:
Question: I get health-care coverage from my employer. Can I keep it?
Answer: Yes. Workers who get health benefits from an employer will continue to pay a share of the costs and receive coverage. They are not eligible to switch to an insurance exchange.
The Senate bill would impose a 40 percent excise tax on high-premium health plans that cost more than $8,500 annually for individuals and $23,000 for families. [tax the krap out of rich people]
Q: I want health coverage, but can't afford it. How would the legislation affect me?
A: Both bills would expand Medicaid programs for poor people, known as AHCCCS in Arizona, to include millions of people, including childless adults and those with disabilities. Under the House bill, individuals with incomes up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level, or $16,245, would be eligible for Medicaid. Under the Senate bill, eligibility would reach 133 percent of poverty, or $14,404 for individuals. [Cool free medical care for poor people and the rest of us pay for it!]
Even if you make too much for Medicaid, you could get help buying private insurance in the new marketplaces, called exchanges.
Both bills would provide billions of dollars for subsidies once premiums exceed a certain percentage of annual income. The subsidies end at four times the poverty level, $88,200 for a family of four.
Even if you make too much to qualify for subsidies, you could get some financial relief.
Both bills would require your insurer to pick up your out-of-pocket costs, such as coinsurance, the portion of the bills that you pay, once they exceed a certain amount. The House limits are up to $5,000 a year for an individual and $10,000 for a family; the Senate's are slightly higher. [So insuranse plans with deductable amounts are now illegal! That will drive the cost of insuranse thru the roof!]
Q: How much is all this going to cost? Will it increase my taxes?
A: The House-passed bill is estimated to cost $1 trillion over a decade, the Senate bill $871 billion. [That is $3,333 for every man, woman, and child in the USA!] The final measure probably will be closer to the Senate bill. President Barack Obama has said that he would like the cost kept below $900 billion. [And like most government welfare plan the cost will many times the initial estimates - and you and me will be stuck with the costs]
Both bills hit the wealthy, but in different ways. The House would impose a 5.4 percent income-tax surtax on individuals who earn more than $500,000 a year and couples that earn more than $1 million. The Senate would increase the Medicare payroll-tax rate from 1.45 percent to 2.35 percent for people who earn more than $200,000 a year and families that earn more than $250,000.
To raise money to pay for the legislation, the Senate would impose a 40 percent tax on the portion of most employer-sponsored health coverage that exceeds $8,500 a year for individuals and $23,000 for families. [Wow a 40% tax! That will drive up the cost of health care like crazy!] The Senate also would raise the threshold for deducting medical expenses to 10 percent of income, up from 7.5 percent.
Both the House and Senate would place new fees on the medical-device industry, and would limit to $2,500 a year the amount you could place in flexible savings accounts.
Q: I'm over 65. How would the legislation affect seniors?
A: The Medicare prescription-drug benefit would be improved substantially under both bills, though only the House bill would eliminate the sizable coverage gap called the "doughnut hole" by 2019. Both bills would enable most seniors to get half-price brand-name drugs when they hit the gap. The final bill to emerge from conference might favor the more generous House approach.
Under both bills, government payments to Medicare Advantage, the private-plan part of Medicare, would be cut back. If you're one of the 10 million beneficiaries whom those private plans cover, you could lose extra benefits that many of the plans offer, such as free eyeglasses, hearing aids and gym memberships. [So Uncle Sam is going to screw you and drive yo our health care costs if you have a private plan]
Both bills would make all Medicare preventive services, such as screenings for colon, prostate and breast cancer, free to beneficiaries. [Free medical care is an oxymoron. Somebody has to pay for it!]
Q: I own a small business. Would I have to buy insurance for my workers? What help could I get?
A: Both the House and Senate bills would exempt small businesses from having to provide coverage, and would provide tax credits for some small firms. Your firm's bottom line is more likely to benefit from the Senate version.
The Senate would exempt companies with fewer than 50 workers from having to offer insurance. The House excuses companies with annual payrolls of less than $500,000; firms that are bigger would pay a fee equivalent to a portion of their payroll costs if they don't offer insurance. That payment would rise to 8 percent of payroll for the largest firms. [Wow! An 8 percent payroll tax to pay for health insuranse! To be honest it is no longer health insuranse - it is really "pre-paid medical expenses", because people with pre-existing conditions have to be covered]
If your firm has no more than 25 employees, it might be eligible for tax credits as high as 50 percent of premium costs under both bills. The full credits are for the smallest firms with low-wage workers; they shrink as the size of your company and your workforce's earnings rise.
The House tax credits are available only if your employees' average wages don't exceed $40,000 a year, while the Senate allows firms with average wages of up to $50,000 to qualify. The House's tax credits aren't available to employers for workers who earn more than $80,000 a year.
Q: Would the health bill make it easier for me to get coverage, even if I have health problems?
A: If you have a medical condition, both bills would make it easier for you to get coverage; insurers would be barred from rejecting applicants based on health status once the exchanges are operating, in 2013 in the House bill and 2014 in the Senate version. [I have cancer and want to get insuranse to pay for my treatment - no problem! They have to sell you insuranse! Kind of like letting an arsonist buy fire insuranse on a home he is about to burn down so he can collect the insuranse]
In the meantime, both bills would create a temporary high-risk pool for people who have been rejected for coverage or have pre-existing medical conditions. Both bills also would bar insurers from retroactively canceling the policies of individuals who fall ill with costly conditions.
Both bills say insurers couldn't set lifetime-coverage limits; the Senate also restricts annual limits. Those who want to keep their existing policies, even if they don't meet the new standards, generally could do so. [How sweet! Uncle Sam is forcing insurance companies to offer insuranse below their cost. Wonder how that will work out?]
Q: I buy my own insurance. How would the legislation affect how much I pay?
A: Because insurers wouldn't be permitted to charge sick people more, their premiums might initially cost less compared with what they would pay under current law. Younger, healthier people might pay more. [Congress is going to tax the krap out of young people and make them pay for the medical bills of old farts! Ain't government great!] Also, under the House bill, older people could be charged only two times more than younger people; in the Senate, older people could be charged up to three times more.
- Kaiser Health News and wire services
Congressman Harry Mitchell votes for "tax tax" which will make young people pay for the medical bills of old folks.
Young foks need to vote tax and spend Congressman Harry Mitchell out of office!
Tan tax will drive tanning salons out of business and make young people pay for the medical bills of older folks.
Tax on indoor tanning has salon owners worried
by Sheryl Jean and Jason Roberson - Dec. 25, 2009 01:03 PM
Dallas Morning News .
DALLAS - Trying to keep that golden glow through the new year? It could cost you a little bit more.
A last-minute change in the federal health care bill ditched a proposed 5 percent tax on cosmetic medical procedures and replaced it with a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services.
Goodbye Botox tax. Hello tan tax.
Dallas is a big market for both cosmetic surgery and fake tans, so the region would have taken a hit either way. Texas is home to two of the nation's largest indoor tanning chains - Farmers Branch-based Palm Beach Tan, with more than 250 locations, and Houston-based Darque Tan, with more than 100 locations.
John Overstreet, executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association, said he's been getting frantic phone calls from tanning salon owners all week.
"They're scared to death," he said. "They're already suffering through this recession."
The International Smart Tan Network, a Jackson, Miss.-based educational trade association for the tanning salon industry, estimates the tax could cause 1,000 tanning business to shut down and up to 9,000 job cuts in 2010. Nationally, there are more than 20,000 indoor tanning salons, and that doesn't count gyms, hair salons and other places that also offer tanning services.
Some Dallas-area independent tanning salon owners said they won't be able to absorb the 10 percent tax and will either have to pass the cost on to customers, cut staff or increase their own hours. One of them is Randy Ranew, owner of 12-year-old Inwood Tan in Dallas. He said the tax would amount to about $30,000 a year based on his annual revenue.
"Times are really tough right now," Ranew said. "I can't absorb this. I don't know how it will all work out, but I see it costing us business and eliminating a lot of smaller businesses."
The impact to consumers is difficult to determine because salon owners could handle the tax differently. If an owner decided to pass along the full tax to the customer, then a $20 tanning session would increase to $22.
Tiffany Kirkland, owner of 18-month-old Golden Beach Tan in Allen with her husband, Scott Kirkland, expects to lose customers if she has to raise prices. Scott Kirkland projects the tax would cost them $13,000 to $15,000 next year.
The tan tax popped up in the health care bill last weekend after powerful medical lobbies - including the American Academy of Dermatology Association, American Medical Association, American Society of Plastic Surgeons and Botox-maker Allergan - persuaded Congress to remove a tax on cosmetic medical procedures and replace it with a 10 percent surcharge on indoor tanning services.
"We were a sacrifice for another more politically powerful group," Overstreet said. "It speaks of what's wrong with Washington. You're taking it away from wealthy doctors and wealthy clients and putting the tax on working people."
Dallas plastic surgeon Dr. Steven White said his associations - the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery - lobbied Congress extensively against a tax on cosmetic surgery.
"Since 90 percent of cosmetic surgery patients are women, this would have been a very discriminatory tax," said White, who opposed the cosmetic surgery tax.
The indoor tanning industry is made up of more than 20,000 small businesses, with at least 75 percent owned by women, according to the Indoor Tanning Association. Salon owner Ranew said 90 percent of his customers are women.
One concern with these so-called vanity taxes is there's no guarantee the demand for cosmetic surgeries, or a tan, will remain strong enough to generate the projected tax revenue. In 2004, New Jersey became the first and only state to tax cosmetic medical procedures, but less than one-third of the expected revenue was collected, White said.
The so-called Botax would have raised about $5 billion over 10 years, according to the International Smart Tan Network.
Congress estimates the tan tax will generate $2.7 billion over 10 years, but industry groups say that figure is too high. The International Smart Tan Network estimates the tax would generate less than $170 million, based on 2009 data. The industry generates more than $5 billion in annual retail, manufacturing and distribution sales combined.
Another issue appears to be the source of ultraviolet light treatment. The American Academy of Dermatology warns of significant health risks caused by indoor tanning.
Indoor tanning industry groups note that dermatologists use tanning equipment in their offices for cosmetic skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, in phototherapy treatments that cost up to $100 per visit billed to health insurance companies. In contrast, indoor tanning salons cost as little as $6 to $20 per session.
The tan tax would exempt phototherapy services performed by a licensed medical professional.
"This is like Coke being allowed to lobby the government to tax Pepsi, but that Coke be allowed to sell the same product and not be taxed for it," International Smart Tan Network Vice President Joseph Levy said in a statement. "It's unbelievable."
It's easy to hand out bonuses when your paying for it with the taxpayers money! Look at the money our Congressmen gave to their staffers!
Congressman Rick Renzi gave each of his staff a bonus of $11,333!
Tempe Congressman Harry Mitchell gave each of his staff members a bonus of $3,800!
December 27, 2009
Congressmen gave $300,000 in bonuses in '08
Most in Ariz. delegation paid staff extra
by Christine Rogel - Dec. 27, 2009 12:00 AM
Cronkite News Service .
While dealing with the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, seven Arizona members of the U.S. House of Representatives granted about $300,000 in total staff bonuses in late 2008, a Cronkite News Service review found.
All but one member, Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, rewarded staff with extra pay courtesy of taxpayers. Six members confirmed giving bonuses, and payroll data for the staff of outgoing Republican Rep. Rick Renzi showed increases consistent with bonuses.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva, a Democrat, said bonuses help keep high-quality staff members who would earn more in the private sector. "We reward merit. That's all we're doing," said Grijalva, who, according to the review, granted 16 staff members a total of $52,000 in bonuses. "It's appropriate when available, and that's the way you retain staff."
Bonuses are a long-standing tradition on Capitol Hill. In 2008, House aides earned $24.9 million more in the fourth quarter, according to LegiStorm, an organization that publishes congressional expenditures online.
While confirming giving nine aides bonuses of $1,500 each, Rep. Ed Pastor, a Democrat, said his office regularly returns money to the U.S. Treasury from its annual operating budget.
"I felt that we were frugal and efficient during the year, so I thought that we, meaning my staff, deserved a small bonus," Pastor said.
Cronkite News Service examined LegiStorm's House of Representatives payroll data back to 2001, comparing payroll in the calendar year's fourth quarter with other quarters. When a staff member's fourth-quarter pay was markedly higher than the following quarter, it was considered a bonus.
Cronkite News Service presented bonus figures and methodology to each congressional office, providing the opportunity, sometimes in multiple interviews, to challenge totals.
To read responses from the lawmakers' offices, along with instructions on how to track the information yourself, go to
Congressional staff bonus amounts
Here are fourth-quarter 2008 staff bonus amounts that Cronkite News Service determined from payroll data for members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona.
While Rep. Ed Pastor provided totals, the offices of other members of the delegation confirmed only that bonuses were awarded. Former Rep. Rick Renzi did not return calls seeking comment.
• Former Rep. Rick Renzi, Republican, District 1: $136,000 total for 12 staff members. [Wow each member got a bonus of $11,333]
• Rep. Raúl Grijalva, Democrat, District 7: $52,000 total for 16 staff members. [Each member got a bonus of $3,250]
• Rep. Harry Mitchell, Democrat, District 5: $38,000 total for 10 staff members. [Each member got a bonus of $3,800]
• Rep. Jeff Flake, Republican, District 6: $36,000 total for 13 staff members. [Each member got a bonus of $2,769]
• Rep. John Shadegg, Republican, District 3: $24,000 total for nine staff members. [Each member got a bonus of $2,666]
• Rep. Trent Franks, Republican, District 2: $22,000 total for nine staff members. [Each member got a bonus of $2,444]
• Rep. Ed Pastor, Democrat, District 4: $13,500 total for nine staff members. [Each member got a bonus of $1,500]
• Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat, District 8: No bonuses. [Thank you Gabrielle Giffords for not using my hard earned tax dollars to give your overpaid staff bonuses!]
9,297 pork bills! That is 92 pork bills for each of the 100 Senators and 21 pork bills for each of the 435 House members. For each Senators that is $102 million in pork and for each Congressman that is $23.5 million in pork. Each and every Congressman and Senators is part of the problem (well execpt for Ron Paul). I wonder how much of this pork is going to the illegal, immoral and unconstitional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And going to the unconstitional drug war against the American people.
How many of these pork bills is Tempe Congressman Harry Mitchell behind and who how much money did Harry Mitchell get for passing the pork bills from special intrest groups that help him raise money to get re-elected?
Congressional 'earmarks' in spending bills cut by a third
By Matt Kelley, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The 2010 federal spending bills disclose $10.2 billion for pet projects inserted by members of Congress, a drop of nearly a third since 2008, an analysis of the bills shows.
The 9,297 "earmarks" reported in spending legislation for 2010 were down from 11,282 reported for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, according to data compiled by the non-partisan watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. The 2009 earmarks were worth $14.3 billion.
Still, the spending bills contain billions of dollars for other special-interest programs that aren't reported as earmarks, says Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense. Ellis said his group found $4.9 billion worth of such undisclosed funding in last year's spending bills, for example, but hasn't finished its analysis of the latest bills.
"At least in the disclosed earmarks, there has been a haircut," Ellis said. "Although we would like to see a much deeper reduction, it's a small step, a shuffle, in the right direction."
Ellis also noted that the $787 billion economic stimulus package passed last year included billions of dollars for projects often funded with earmarks, such as highways, levees and federal buildings.
Congress required earmarks in the annual spending bills to be publicly listed for the first time in 2008. There were 11,234 worth $14.8 billion that year.
Still, Tom Schatz of Citizens Against Government Waste, another budget watchdog group, said lawmakers "don't follow all of their rules all of the time." For example, Schatz cited $3.2 billion in the Pentagon spending bill President Obama signed last month, including $2.5 billion for building C-17 cargo planes.
Although no one was listed as an earmark sponsor of the cargo planes, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., issued a news release saying he worked to preserve the funding "against short-sighted efforts by the administration to eliminate the C-17."
Little government tyrants move up the food chain and become big government tyrants.
Congressman Harry Mitchell started off as a power hungry teacher at Tempe High School who ruled his class with an iron fist. He become a small time tyrant as Tempe’s mayor, moved on to being a petty tyrant the Arizona Legislator and is now a big time tyrant as a U.S. Congressman. Sadly petty tyrant Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon could take the same path and move on to being a big time tyrant in the U.S. Congress.
Sadly voting in these elections is often like having an election where you get to vote for Hitler, Stalin or Mao. They are all bad choices and you don’t want any of them as your master. Sadly you don’t get to vote for “None of the Above” meaning you don’t want a government master to micro-manage your life and steal your money!
Nowakowski the next Phoenix mayor?
Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski said he thinks Mayor Phil Gordon would make a pretty good congressman.
Of course, if Gordon does resign and officially throw his hat in the ring to replace retiring Rep. John Shadegg, Nowakowski would become mayor pro tempore.
"I've been getting calls left and right from individuals saying, 'Congratulations, Michael, you're the next mayor,' " Nowakowski (below) said Friday, half jokingly.
You see, Nowakowski last week was elected by his colleagues as vice mayor, a mostly ceremonial title that demands appearances at lots of groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings.
But the city charter states that upon the mayor's resignation, the vice mayor automatically becomes mayor until the council appoints one of its members on an interim basis.
The council must make the appointment between 12 and 15 days after the resignation.
Because there is more than one year left on Gordon's term, the council also would need to call a special election, possibly in August, to fulfill the remainder of the term.
Council members would have to resign their seats before entering the race for mayor. The remaining members then would have to fill those vacancies through an appointment process.
In other words, it would be a big mess.
This scenario has happened before in Phoenix.
When Mayor Paul Johnson resigned in March 1994 to run for governor, Councilman John Nelson became mayor. He served just 11 days before the council appointed colleague Thelda Williams as interim mayor.
The office changed hands again on Nov. 4 of that year when Councilman Skip Rimsza won a special election.
Buzz about a possible Gordon bid for Congress began swirling Thursday after Shadegg, the eight-term GOP congressman, said he was retiring and not seeking re-election in November.
The Democratic mayor now appears to be weighing whether to enter the race for the Republican-leaning Congressional District 3. Election laws would require Gordon to resign if he were to announce his candidacy for higher office.
Councilman Bill Gates, whose district is located in CD3, said a number of strong Republican candidates are lining up for the job, but conceded Gordon could be a formidable candidate.
Democrats "are going to have a tough hill to overcome there, with the Republican registration advantage. We don't know how it will end up. It could be a every good year for Republicans, but then again in this state it could be a good cycle for Democrats," said Gates, a Republican.
Someone who knows something about name recognition, Gates added: "He (Gordon) has very strong name ID, so he will have that as a built-in advantage."
Wow! Obama must be really screwing things up if the socialist republic of Tucson is voting Republican! Same goes for the socialist republic of Tempe where Harry Mitchell is hated for helping Obama screw up the USA.
Giffords' re-election bid could be hurt by Obama backlash
by Erin Kelly - Feb. 2, 2010 12:00 AM
Republic Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - As President Barack Obama and Democratic congressional leaders scramble to find a new message after a string of election defeats, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords appears increasingly vulnerable for her loyalty to the White House.
Just four months ago, the two-term Democrat looked so secure in her re-election that her district was rated solidly Democratic by the "Cook Political Report," a nonpartisan newsletter that analyzes congressional races. Since then, the rating has slipped to "likely Democratic" and then to "leans Democratic."
The latest drop came shortly after Republican state Sen. Jonathan Paton announced he was joining three other GOP candidates to challenge Giffords.
"Giffords will have to use all of her considerable campaign-trail talents to defend her votes for the stimulus package and the health-care and energy bills in a district that has a track record supporting 'middle of the road' candidates," wrote analyst David Wasserman for the "Cook Political Report."
Giffords, whose 8th Congressional District encompasses parts of Tucson and communities in Arizona's southeastern corner, voted with the president 90 percent of the time last year, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan publication Congressional Quarterly.
Although Democratic Reps. Harry Mitchell and Ann Kirkpatrick also are considered vulnerable, they are less closely identified with Obama at a time when his priorities have been losing support in public-opinion polls and at the ballot box.
Those policies, including health-care reform and government spending on stimulus projects, were successfully attacked by Republicans who won the Massachusetts Senate seat last month and governorships in Virginia and New Jersey last fall.
Mitchell and Kirkpatrick voted with the White House 67 percent of the time, placing them in a tie for third on Congressional Quarterly's list of the most rebellious Democrats. They opposed the climate-change bill that Giffords voted for.
Supporters said the bill would limit the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause global warming and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Opponents said it would increase Americans' energy bills and cost U.S. jobs.
"I think an alert has gone out that any Democrat can get caught up in the kind of election backlash we saw in Massachusetts, especially a Democrat with a presidential-loyalty rating as high as 90 percent," said Richard Herrera, associate professor of political science at Arizona State University.
Still, Giffords has a likable personality and a reputation for strong constituent service, qualities that should serve her well as she seeks re-election to a third term, Herrera said.
"Voters know her in a way they didn't know Martha Coakley (the defeated Democratic Senate candidate in Massachusetts) or haven't gotten to know the president," Herrera said.
Giffords also could benefit from emphasizing some of her independent votes and appearing more centrist, he said.
There already are signs she is moving in that direction. The week before the Democrats' defeat in Massachusetts, Giffords wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., expressing concern that the Senate health-care-reform bill would hurt Arizona by raising the state's Medicaid costs.
"I think that was a smart move," Herrera said. "It's an effort to pre-empt the charge that she is wholesale supporting everything the president or Democratic leadership proposes."
Andy Stone, Western regional press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Giffords has shown her fiscally conservative side by breaking with her leadership and voting against bills to raise the debt limit, bail out failing automakers and create the Cash for Clunkers program.
He also said the congresswoman has long understood that job creation is the top priority. The president and Democratic congressional leaders have been trying to refocus their message to emphasize jobs and aid to the middle class in the wake of the Jan. 19 Massachusetts election.
"Congresswoman Giffords has worked incredibly hard to bring solar-energy jobs and other opportunities to aid her district, she's raised the necessary campaign funds, and she's never taken anything for granted," Stone said.
Giffords raised more than $286,000 in campaign contributions in the last quarter of 2009, according to a report she just filed with the Federal Election Commission. She ended the year with nearly $1.6 million in cash.
Her closest competitor, Jesse Kelly, raised nearly $102,000 during the same period and reported nearly $180,000 on hand.
Republicans say Giffords is not the centrist she has portrayed herself to be.
"It's kind of late in the game for her to try to make the case that she's a moderate," said Joanna Burgos, Western regional press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "She already voted for the biggest bills that people are angry about, whether it's the stimulus bill that didn't deliver the jobs it promised, or the government-run health-care plan, or the (climate change) bill that would raise energy costs."
Senator John McCain - Honest I didn't know I voted for the 3/4 trillion bail out for rich Wall Street Bankers & Brokers - Honest! I am sure Congressman Harry Mitchell will use the same lie when the issued comes up on why did Congressman Harry Mitchell vote for this trillion dollar pork program.
by Dan Nowicki - Feb. 22, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Under growing pressure from conservatives and "tea party" activists, Sen. John McCain of Arizona is having to defend his record of supporting the government's massive bailout of the financial system.
In response to criticism from opponents seeking to defeat him in the Aug. 24 Republican primary, the four-term senator says he was misled by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. McCain said the pair assured him that the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program would focus on what was seen as the cause of the financial crisis, the housing meltdown.
"Obviously, that didn't happen," McCain said in a meeting Thursday with The Republic's Editorial Board, recounting his decision-making during the critical initial days of the fiscal crisis. "They decided to stabilize the Wall Street institutions, bail out (insurance giant) AIG, bail out Chrysler, bail out General Motors. . . . What they figured was that if they stabilized Wall Street - I guess it was trickle-down economics - that therefore Main Street would be fine."
Nearly 15 months later, commercial lenders still are in shaky condition and the commercial real-estate industry is in trouble, he said. On Friday, President Barack Obama announced $1.5 billion in funding for new measures to help Arizona and four other states hit hard by the tanked housing market and by joblessness.
But McCain stopped short of calling the TARP a mistake.
"Something had to be done because the world's financial system was on the verge of collapse," he said. "Any economist, liberal or conservative, would agree with that. The action they took, I don't agree with."
Republican Senate primary challenger J.D. Hayworth is using the TARP vote as a bludgeon against McCain's reputation as a fiscal hawk. Tea partyers point to it as the start of a new explosion of federal spending that has continued into the Obama administration.
Paulson, President George W. Bush's Treasury secretary from 2006 to 2009, also is dishing out criticism of McCain, who on Sept. 24, 2008, temporarily suspended his ultimately unsuccessful presidential campaign to go to Capitol Hill to confront the economic crisis.
In his new book "On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System," Paulson belittles McCain's contribution to the response, noting that "when it came right down to it, (McCain) had little to say in the forum he himself had called." He also called McCain's decision to return to Washington, apparently without a plan, "impulsive and risky" and even "dangerous."
McCain said Bush called him in off the campaign trail, saying a worldwide economic catastrophe was imminent and that he needed his help. "I don't know of any American, when the president of the United States calls you and tells you something like that, who wouldn't respond," McCain said. "And I came back and tried to sit down and work with Republicans and say, 'What can we do?' "
McCain last month voted against confirming Bernanke for a second term as Fed chairman, saying he should be held responsible for his contribution to the meltdown. Bernanke still won easy Senate approval.
War is a great excuse to create government pork. Which is why the Democrats want to keep the Afghan and Iraq wars going!
Arizona's representatives all voted against the measure. [Arizona's congressmen are all war mongering thieves! That includes warmonger Congressman Harry Mitchell from Tempe!]
House votes not to exit Afghan war
Faction forced debate on bringing troops home
Mar. 11, 2010 12:00 AM
Tribune Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Congressional opponents of the war in Afghanistan forced a debate Wednesday on the floor of the House on a resolution to bring U.S. forces home and end the 8-year-old war.
The measure ended up losing, 356-65, a vote that had been expected. Nonetheless, anti-war representatives welcomed the debate as a chance to express pent-up frustration with the continued troop buildup in Afghanistan and to express their view that the original mission of U.S. forces, defeating al-Qaida, had been lost.
Five Republicans, including Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, joined 60 Democrats in supporting the measure to force a troop withdrawal. Arizona's representatives all voted against the measure.
The debate took place as Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on a visit to Afghanistan, suggested a drawdown of U.S. forces could begin before July 2011, the date the Obama administration said a U.S. troop surge would peak and forces would begin to withdraw.
The troop-withdrawal resolution was sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, a former presidential candidate, and would force the president to withdraw U.S. forces within 30 days of passage of the measure by the House and Senate.
Kucinich based his resolution on the 1973 War Powers Act, passed during the Vietnam War era to require the president to obtain congressional approval when he sends troops to a conflict for more than 90 days.
Congress authorized the use of military force to fight terrorists in 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks, but Kucinich said both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations had wrongfully used that authority as carte blanche to circumvent the role of Congress in sending Americans to war.
Among those who voted for the measure was Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., who gave an impassioned speech. The U.S. policy of needlessly sending troops into harm's way was "shameful," Kennedy said. He chastised the media for focusing "24/7" on former Rep. Eric Massa of New York, who resigned from Congress amid sexual-harassment allegations, at a time when lawmakers were debating the future of the war.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Rep Harry Mitchell under pressure to vote for health care pork!
Arizonans under pressure on health vote
by Dan Nowicki - Mar. 18, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Two fence-sitting U.S. representatives from Arizona are feeling the heat as the House pushes toward a historic vote on health-care reform that could come as early as this weekend.
Democratic Reps. Harry Mitchell and Gabrielle Giffords remain on a dwindling list of undecided lawmakers, although Giffords has signaled she will vote "yes" if the final version fixes problems with the bill passed by the Senate in December. Both lawmakers are under scrutiny as they brace for potentially tough re-election fights in their swing congressional districts.
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., another Republican target in 2010, until Tuesday sat with Mitchell and Giffords in the Capitol Hill pressure cooker, but she announced that she will vote for the health-care overhaul, President Barack Obama's No. 1 domestic priority.
Democrats from centrist or GOP-leaning congressional districts, such as Mitchell and Giffords, are in the difficult position of weighing the opposition of many constituents against loyalty to the president and their party leaders.
"This isn't an ordinary vote - this is the issue that the White House has staked its reputation on," said Fred Solop, chairman of Northern Arizona University's politics and international-affairs department. "If this fails, I think we will see a very weakened Obama White House moving into the future, and other agenda items such as education and immigration are just not going to go anywhere."
Reform foes, meanwhile, "are essentially threatening representatives that this will be their defining vote and that they will remember their vote on Election Day," he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other House Democratic leaders are working to round up the 216 votes needed to approve the bill passed Dec. 24 by the Senate. The measure would make sweeping changes to the health-care system that aim, among other goals, to extend insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans who don't have it and end unpopular industry practices such as denying coverage or charging more expensive rates based on pre-existing medical conditions.
Complicating the political calculus: Democratic House leaders also may choose to invoke a rule that would allow them to avoid the up-or-down, roll-call vote on the Senate-passed bill, which remains controversial with the public because it includes special deals negotiated to win the votes of particular senators. One such deal is the Medicaid break for Nebraska that critics derisively dubbed the "Cornhusker Kickback."
Though Republicans in the past have used the same maneuver, which would deem the legislation passed without a vote, opinions sharply differ as to whether it is appropriate for a piece of legislation as divisive as this one.
And while many House Democrats express hope that they can fix the Senate bill's problems by using the budget-reconciliation process, a separate procedural move that would diminish the Republicans' ability to use the filibuster, there still is no guarantee that their proposed fixes can get through the Senate.
"This vote will end some careers, there's no question about it," said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "We just don't know how many, and in what districts. It's impossible to say."
Arizona's House delegation consists of five Democrats and three Republicans. GOP Reps. Jeff Flake, Trent Franks and John Shadegg are expected to vote "no" on the Democratic health-care plan.
Democratic Reps. Ed Pastor and Raul Grijalva, who represent solidly Democratic districts, also officially remain undecided, but Capitol Hill insiders are counting that both will vote for it. Grijalva, who with other House liberals wanted a robust public health-insurance option, at times has threatened to oppose the legislation.
All five House Democrats from Arizona voted for the original House bill in November.
The Arizona Republic requested interviews with Mitchell, Giffords and Kirkpatrick. None was available to talk.
C.J. Karamargin, Giffords' spokesman, pointed to a written statement Giffords issued Friday. In it, she said, "I strongly and enthusiastically support reform. . . . The legislation before us, while far from perfect, represents a needed step forward." But Giffords, who has come under attack in television and radio ads, also said she won't commit herself to voting for the bill until she is convinced that certain provisions that would hurt Arizona will be fixed.
On Tuesday, the labor-union-backed Health Care for America Now campaign began running a television ad in Arizona urging viewers to "tell Congressman Harry Mitchell to keep standing up for us, not the insurance companies."
"When you're independent, and in the middle, both sides target your vote," Mitchell spokesman Adam Bozzi said. "The truth of the matter is he believes there's a need for reform - health-care costs are hurting the economy and slowing down the recovery - but we haven't seen the final reconciliation package yet. So, without that information, it's hard to speculate."
In a written statement, Kirkpatrick said she is putting the needs of her district first by voting for the health-care package, which she said she will work to improve by pushing to scrap the special Nebraska provision.
"Health-insurance reform is critical to ending denials of coverage based on pre-existing conditions, making sure our children can get the care they need and protecting our seniors from unaffordable prescription-drug costs," Kirkpatrick said.
Congress Harry Mitchell votes for a corporate welfare program to make rich doctors and multi-million dollar corporations that provide medical services even richer!
Rep. Mitchell will vote for health-care reform package
Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., one of the final holdouts on the health-care-reform bill, on Friday his announced he will support the package. He cited proposed fixes for the Senate-passed legislation that would help Arizona.
Mitchell, who represents a Republican-leaning suburban congressional district centered on Scottsdale and Tempe, also decried the "extremist rhetoric and blatantly false statements" of some reform foes. As a fence-sitter, Mitchell was under pressure from both sides.
Here is Mitchell's written statement in its entirety: [ get ready to read some stuff from a man who is a true master of shoveling BS! Harry Mitchell you are a master at shoveling the BS! That is in addition to being a master at stealing money from us serfs and giving it to people who grease your palm with campaign contributions. ]
“Through a year of debate and studying several bills, I have heard from health-care professionals, insurers, patients, and tens of thousands of passionate and concerned Arizonans both for and against reform.
“One thing has been made clear. We cannot sustain the path we are on because health care costs are burdening Arizona families, hurting the economy and slowing the recovery. While not perfect, the reconciliation package addresses several of the concerns I had with the Senate bill. It closes the prescription drug donut hole for seniors, helps to mitigate the impact of Medicaid costs on Arizona, and eliminates special deals like the 'Cornhusker Kickback.' Whether one supports or opposes the underlying bill, I believe a vote to block these fixes is irresponsible. These fixes help Arizona and I strenuously urge the Senate to adopt them. [Talk about shoveling the BS - fantastic job Harry Mitchell, that is at shoveling the BS!]
“This package would ban insurance companies from denying people with pre-existing conditions, set up a free-market exchange that allows insurance companies to compete across state lines, strengthen Medicare, and ensure that small business owners and individuals have access to affordable plans. Additionally, it would rein in costs and reduce the deficit.
“While I have been heartened by the many thoughtful questions, comments and suggestions I have received, I have also been extremely disappointed by much of the extremist rhetoric and blatantly false statements that some have injected into this discussion. The jarring use of imagery such as hanging people in effigy or the use of swastikas is appalling. It does not add to a serious civil discussion, nor does it respect the memory of the millions of Holocaust victims who died at the hands of evil. Our democracy is better than that.
“The package does not contain so-called “death panels” or government takeovers of health care, and it will not dismantle the private insurance industry. It does not allow federal dollars to fund abortion or provide coverage for illegal immigrants. If it did, I would not vote for it.
“And make no mistake, the state’s decision to kick kids off state health insurance, risk billions in federal matching funds and kill over 42,000 jobs is not a recipe for economic recovery. The state of Arizona had a fiscal crisis before this bill and decisions like that will keep it mired in one without it. I believe the governor and the state legislature need to spend more time getting our state’s fiscal house in order, and less time blaming others for the problems they are exacerbating by putting their politics ahead of the people they were elected to serve.” [Wow! When it comes to shoveling BS Harry Mitchell does a fantastic job! Harry Mitchell also does a damn good job of stealing money from poor people and giving it to rich corporations who give him campaign contributions!]
All five of Arizona's House Democrats have announced they either will vote for the bill or are leaning toward doing so. All three of the state's House Republicans will vote no. The big vote is expected Sunday.
"Tar and feather Harry Mitchell" - sounds like a great idea to me!
The "angry conservative housewife" is alarmed by a mandate in the bill requiring that most people purchase health insurance or face a fine - sounds like a corporate welfare program for the companies that sell health insurance.
'Tea party' protesters target Mitchell for health vote
by Dustin Gardiner - Mar. 20, 2010 03:47 PM
The Arizona Republic
"Tea party" protesters gathered outside the Scottsdale offices of Rep. Harry Mitchell on Saturday to protest federal health-care reform and what some called a "socialist" restructuring of the United States.
The protesters were enraged by the Democratic congressman's Friday announcement that he would vote "yes" on legislation to overhaul the nation's health insurance system, adding to crucial momentum to party leaders trying to muster enough votes to pass the bill in the House of Representatives.
"This is not about health care; they want to change the fundamental structure of America," said Morton Mitchell, of Fountain Hills. "This is just the beginning. They want to make America a socialist state."
The so-called "tea partiers" rallied at the intersection of Camelback and Scottsdale Roads for more than three hours, waving U.S. flags and holding signs denouncing Mitchell and "Obamacare."
Several were also there to campaign for former conservative talk radio host J.D. Hayworth, who is trying to unseat Sen. John McCain in the Republican primary, though the state "tea party" organization has opted not to endorse Hayworth.
Motorists who passed the demonstrators throughout the day sounded their horns in support. About 150 people gathered at the intersection for the rally.
"The noise level is so high I've got to cover my ears sometimes," said Suzanne James, of Tempe. "Harry is done for."
Judy Hoelscher, of Phoenix, carried a sign, saying, "Tar and feather Harry Mitchell."
The self-described "angry conservative housewife" said she is particularly alarmed by a mandate in the bill requiring that most people purchase health insurance or face a fine.
"You're being forced to buy a product. That's unconstitutional," Hoelscher said. "The end result will be single-payer, government-run health care."
The House is expected to vote on the health care bill sometime Sunday.
Harry Mitchell has always been a jerk - even before he got in the gun sights of Sarah Palin! Source
Kirkpatrick quick to use Palin threat to raise money
WASHINGTON -- Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who will campaign in Arizona this week on behalf of her former presidential running mate Sen. John McCain, announced Tuesday via Facebook that she also hopes to help defeat three of the state's U.S. House Democrats who voted Sunday to pass the health-care-reform bill.
Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, Harry Mitchell and Gabrielle Giffords are among 17 Democrats that Palin plans to hold "accountable for this disastrous Obamacare vote."
"We’re paying particular attention to those House members who voted in favor of Obamacare and represent districts that Senator John McCain and I carried during the 2008 election," Palin wrote on Facebook.
For her part, Kirkpatrick, who represents Arizona's sprawling rural 1st Congressional District, has used Palin's threat as an opportunity to fire off a fundraising appeal to supporters:
"Today, Sarah Palin announced she would be targeting me in November. She believes that she knows better than people here what Greater Arizona's needs are, and she and other corporate special interest money are going to spend money to tell us what we should think.
"This is just the beginning -- many more national special interest groups are going to throw hundreds of thousands of dollars at this district to try to defeat me because of my independent record and my recent vote for health care reform. I am not going to let anyone from Washington come in and tell us where we should stand. I am going to fight back, and I hope I can rely on your support as I do. Will you make a contribution today to make sure that Arizona's voices are not drowned out by Washington insiders, national politicians, and corporate special interests?"
Palin will stump for McCain's re-election Friday in Tucson and Saturday in Mesa.
Mitchell, family targets of threats, harassment
by Dan Nowicki - Mar. 26, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
WASHINGTON - Rep. Harry Mitchell received death threats and his wife and son have been harassed in connection with his vote in favor of President Barack Obama's landmark health-care overhaul.
Mitchell, D-Ariz., represents a Republican-leaning congressional district that includes Scottsdale, Tempe, Fountain Hills and parts of Phoenix and Mesa. He is one of a group of at least 10 lawmakers that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., this week said had been targeted with threats.
"Congressman Mitchell has received physical threats, including threats on his life, both before and after a vote on health-care reform," Adam Bozzi, his spokesman, said in a written statement released Thursday. "Recently, the congressman received a call from an individual who said she was so filled with rage that she warned the congressman to 'watch his back' and called for a bomber to blow up his Scottsdale office."
Mitchell and his office in Scottsdale also have received numerous hostile phone calls as well as notes attached to animal feces throughout the past year, Bozzi's statement said. His wife "has been harassed at their Tempe home" while his son, Tempe City Councilman Mark Mitchell, also received "menacing calls," Bozzi said.
Details about other disturbing incidents directed at pro-health-reform lawmakers have emerged since the House's historic Sunday night action to pass the health bill.
Around 2 a.m. Monday, just hours after the vote, a vandal shattered, possibly with a pellet gun or air pistol, a glass door and adjacent glass panel at the Tucson office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., on Wednesday announced that someone threw a brick at her Niagara Falls district office and left a message "referencing snipers" on her campaign office's answering machine.
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., received numerous nasty threats. Someone cut a gas line at the home of the brother of Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Va. A blogger had erroneously identified the brother's home address as the lawmaker's.
On Thursday, House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, denounced the disturbing trend, saying, "Threats and violence should not be part of a political debate."
During an interview Wednesday with The Arizona Republic, Mitchell didn't mention the death threats. He described constituent reaction to his vote as "mixed."
"I'm hearing from those who didn't like it, and I'm hearing from those who like it. I'm hearing both," Mitchell said in his Capitol Hill office. "I'm looking forward to coming back (to my district). There are a lot of misconceptions about the bill."
Bozzi said Mitchell at the time wasn't aware of some of the vicious voice mail left at his district office or the incidents involving his family members. The threats were reported to U.S. Capitol Police and the animal feces were reported to Scottsdale police, Bozzi said.
Staffers from Mitchell's office in Scottsdale informed Scottsdale police about the notes with the animal feces about a month ago, said Sgt. Mark Clark, a police spokesman.
Mitchell's office also informed Scottsdale police on Thursday about harassing voice mails left at the congressman's office in Scottsdale this week. The voice mails were turned over to U.S. Capitol Police, Clark said.
Nowicki is The Republic's national political reporter. He is reporting this week from Washington, D.C.
Are Republicans worse then Democrats? Democrats worse then Republican? Well it depends on which ones are in power. A Democrat or Republic tyrant in power is always worse then a member of the opposite part who is not in power. Or maybe better said the tyrant in power can screw you better then a tyrant who is not in power!
And of curse these three Democratic tyrants are terrorizing us these days - Harry Mitchell, Gabriella Giffords and Ann Kirkpatrick.
Arizona Democrats suffering from Obama's agenda
Posted: Tuesday, June 29, 2010 11:07 am
Austin Hill, Commentary
It wasn’t all that long ago when they fawned over him.
But now, three congressional Democrats from Arizona — Harry Mitchell, Gabriella Giffords and Ann Kirkpatrick — are twisting in the wind, as their beloved party leader President Barack Obama continues to punish our cash-strapped state with a costly and unpopular lawsuit to prevent the implementation of Arizona’s new illegal immigration law. It’s Obama vs. we, the people — with congressional Democrats caught in the middle.
But things were different on Feb. 17, 2009.
The delegation standing on the tarmac was electrified with excitement, as Air Force One taxied to a stop at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The man who was the embodiment of all their dreams — who would give everyone a job, apologize to the world for President Bush, punish the “rich people” who “earned too much” over the previous eight years, give everyone in the U.S. “free” health care, make the world love America again, and ensure a Democrat majority in the Congress for years to come. Obama was visiting Arizona, and this was their special moment.
Mitchell, giddy with excitement, stood with a camera strap draped over his neck, snapping photos by the second as the president stepped down from the aircraft. It was cute to see this older gentleman so caught up in the victorious moment of a much younger man, like a dad on the sidelines at his son’s big game.
But Mitchell is an elected member of the United States Congress. He represents hundreds of thousands of people in the House of Representatives, and these people expect more from him than mere cheerleading.
Today, Mitchell appears to be on a path to electoral defeat because of 18 months of cheerleading and adoration of a president with a very self-serving agenda. Things have become so bad that Mitchell has had to publicly chastise Obama and suggest that he might spend taxpayers’ money in some more productive fashion than suing Arizona. Worse still, Mitchell has had to publicly call for securing the U.S./Mexico border, an idea that has been championed by Arizona Republicans for decades, and by Tea Partiers and Minutemen enthusiasts for at least the past six years.
Mitchell has made the terrible mistake — along with the majority of Congress — of finding his hopes and aspirations in the embodiment of one man, one personality, one persona. Mitchell should have known better, being a retired government and civics teacher. As constitutionally and historically illiterate as many members of Congress may be, there are still millions of us who understand that the United States is a nation resting on the foundation of specific principles and ideals, and not on the whims and charm of any individual personality.
Congressional Democrats like Mitchell are now in the painful process of discovering that Obama’s agenda was never about them, never about “the party” and never about the United States. They have been empowering a man who is committed to his own raw pursuit of power, and they are now finding themselves to be victims of his agenda.
Building a bigger better police state one day at a time! Hitler, Stalin and Mao would be proud of our government rulers! Heil Hitler! Was Tempe Congress man Harry Mitchell wearing his Nazi arm band when he introduced this bill? - " Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., introduced a bipartisan bill this week that would allow federal authorities to seize drophouses."
Report lauds Arizona wire-transfer tracking work
by Erin Kelly - Jul. 23, 2010 12:00 AM
Republic Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - The federal government should follow Arizona's lead in following the money to catch the ruthless human traffickers who smuggle illegal immigrants across the border, says a federal report released Thursday.
The report, by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, says U.S. Immigration and Customs would do well to adopt the investigative tools used in Arizona to track the money wired to smugglers from immigrants' families.
By searching wire transfers for suspicious activity involving large sums of money flowing into Arizona from Mexico, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard's office was able to track the payoffs to drophouses where smugglers stashed illegal immigrants until they received payment.
From 2004 to 2006, Arizona seized about $20 million in cartel assets, arrested hundreds of smugglers and shut down 22 businesses that laundered the smugglers' money.
Arizona's techniques could be used by federal authorities to track smugglers throughout the Southwest border region, according to the report.
"Arizona mined data to identify patterns and connect dots," said Richard Stana, director of homeland security issues for the GAO. "That kind of strategy, we think, is really important."
Stana said it also would help federal authorities break up smuggling cartels if they had the power to seize the drophouses the way they can now seize other assets used in criminal enterprises.
Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., introduced a bipartisan bill this week that would allow federal authorities to seize drophouses.
"They're magnets for violent crime, and they threaten the safety of our community," Mitchell said.
Federal efforts to secure the Southwest border have failed to focus enough attention on catching smugglers, Goddard told a key House panel Thursday.
Goddard, testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, urged Congress to provide at least $50 million to double the current funding of the four-state Southwest Border Anti-Money Laundering Alliance. The alliance, made up of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, aims to disrupt the Mexican crime cartels that smuggle drugs across the border and have also seized control of the human-trafficking industry.
"Perhaps the biggest failure of our national debate on border security is that the cartel threat seems to have taken a back seat to discussions about immigration," Goddard testified. "Yet, if we eliminate the cartel organizations, the ability of large numbers to illegally cross our Southwest border would be dramatically reduced. Very few illegal border crossers would make the trip across the harsh Sonoran Desert without the smuggling cartels who transport them."
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer sent a statement to the hearing saying that her state is paying a high cost for the federal government's failure to stop the smugglers.
"The consequences of human smuggling are widespread and impact every single taxpayer," Brewer said. "Naturally, human smuggling leads to illegal immigration, but it also leads to illegal-alien deaths, crime and violence, an increased financial burden on taxpayers, environmental damage and degradation, and poses a national security threat to the United States as the Southern border is an open invitation to terrorists."
James Dinkins, executive associate director of homeland security investigations for ICE, said his agency has been working with other law-enforcement authorities to crack down on human smuggling through the Border Enforcement Security Task Forces in Phoenix and 16 other cities.
"From October 2008 through June 2010, the (task forces) have initiated 396 human-smuggling investigations nationwide resulting in 582 criminal arrests, 291 indictments, and 361 convictions," Dinkins said.
Neither Republican or Democrats can win elections on their own! They need 3rd party voters or independents to get them elected - "If Schweikert can hold Mitchell to less than 60 percent of the independent vote, he will probably win. If he can hold Mitchell to less than 55 percent of the independent vote, he will certainly win."
How David Schweikert can unseat Harry Mitchell
by Robert Robb, columnist - Sept. 11, 2010 07:03 PM
The Arizona Republic
From the political notebook:
• The best chance for a Republican pickup of a congressional seat in Arizona is probably David Schweikert's challenge against Harry Mitchell in the East Valley.
There are two reasons for this. The first is the political arithmetic.
There are 38,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats in the district. That compares with a 17,000 Republican-registration advantage in Gabrielle Giffords' southern Arizona district and a 20,000 registration disadvantage in Ann Kirkpatrick's district in northern Arizona.
The second is the quality of candidates. Schweikert is a mainstream conservative with a track record as a state legislator and county treasurer, as well as previous congressional bids. He's not the leap in the dark voters would be making with Jesse Kelly, Gifford's challenger, or Paul Gosar, who's taking on Kirkpatrick.
To maximize his chances, however, Schweikert needs to run an unconventional and unlikely campaign.
To overcome the registration disadvantage, Mitchell relies on crossover Republicans and particularly the large segment of the district, 32 percent, registered independent. Given the prevailing national and local sentiment, crossover Republicans are going to be much harder for Mitchell to find, making him even more dependent on the independent vote.
If Schweikert can hold Mitchell to less than 60 percent of the independent vote, he will probably win. If he can hold Mitchell to less than 55 percent of the independent vote, he will certainly win.
The best Schweikert approach to independents wouldn't be to attempt to demonize Mitchell. Indeed, it would be respectful of Mitchell's iconic status in much of the district, after 40 years of public service on the Tempe City Council, as Tempe mayor, in the state Legislature and in Congress.
And it wouldn't attempt to depict Mitchell as a clone of Nancy Pelosi, which he is not. In fact, it would acknowledge Mitchell's occasional acts of deviation from Democratic orthodoxy, such as on taxes.
Instead, the argument would be as follows: Mitchell is a good man who has served his community with honor. However, at this point in our country's history, we just cannot afford a congressman who occasionally votes no on small things, such as mostly meaningless budget resolutions. Instead, we need a congressman who will vote no consistently on big things, such as a $700 billion bank bailout, an $800 billion stimulus spending spree, and a trillion-dollar health-care plan.
That's where independent voters in the district are probably at. And in politics, the easiest way to get voters to vote your way is to show them how what they already believe naturally leads to the conclusion you want them to reach.
Nuanced arguments such as this, however, don't come naturally to candidates or political consultants. Their instincts are always for smash-mouth politics.
Given the temper of the times, smash-mouth politics might get it done for Schweikert. But it doesn't maximize his chances.
• This tendency toward smash-mouth politics irrespective of the circumstances was on display in last week's attorney-general debate on "Horizon," particularly by Democratic candidate Felecia Rotellini.
In reality, both Rotellini and her Republican opponent, Tom Horne, are well-qualified for the office. Both have extensive and relevant legal experience. Both have managed state agencies reasonably well.
And, in all likelihood, they would run the office in much the same way probably 90 percent of the time. The differences would be in the narrow circumstances in which political considerations are taken into account. Horne would probably do this more than Rotellini, but not by a large margin.
That, however, doesn't make for much of a debate, or much of an opportunity for a Democrat to overcome a Republican statewide registration advantage of 118,000.
So, smash-mouth politics it was for Rotellini, who was constantly on the attack. I suspect it was intended to show that she's tough and knowledgeable. Instead, it just made her seem unpleasant, which in real life she is not.
• One of Rotellini's constant attacks was the securities ban imposed on Horne in the 1970s. Horne's response was inadequate.
Horne repeatedly said that Rotellini was mischaracterizing the action taken against him but never once explained what was inaccurate in her description.
Whenever the issue has been raised, Horne has been dismissive, saying it was something that happened 40 years ago. When pressed, he becomes cagey rather than candid. He leaves the impression that there is something about the incident he is still hiding.
It is understandable that Horne would want voters to focus on his long legal career and his record in public office, not a failed business venture in his 20s. Nevertheless, a lifetime securities ban is a serious thing.
If Horne wants voters to set it aside, he needs to deal with it more forthrightly and fully.
Reach Robb at email@example.com or 602-444-8472. Read his blog at robbblog.azcentral.com.
Libertarian Nick Coons thinks taxes are stealing - “I really don’t support any taxes, When you take someone’s property from someone without their consent, that’s theft. And I don’t support that.”
Oddly socialist Harry Mitchell made one true statement - “I’m a member of Congress and I think it’s dysfunctional” - of course we don't know if Harry Mitchell blamed the mess in Congress on himself.
The issued of the drug war didn't come up but I suspect that Libertarian Nick Coons wants to legalize ALL drugs.
Mitchell, Schweikert spar in Tempe debate
By Matt Hendley October 12, 2010 at 11:08 pm
Congressional candidates continued lobbying attacks in a debate Tuesday afternoon at Tempe City Hall.
Republican David Schweikert and Libertarian Nick Coons joined incumbent Democrat Harry Mitchell in a debate hosted by The Arizona Republic, with immigration, education and the economy becoming the main talking points in the race for Arizona’s 5th Congressional District.
Mitchell, who was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006, is seeking his third term representing CD 5, a district that covers all of Tempe and Scottsdale, as well as parts of Chandler, Mesa and Ahwatukee.
Mitchell said he supported tax cuts, especially in the interest of promoting small businesses, and called Schweikert’s support of the FairTax plan a consumption tax in place of a federal income tax, as “ludicrous.”
Schweikert said it’s time to make a change regarding taxes for the benefit of visibility to the public.
“If we’re going to start growing our economy, we have to have an understanding of where we’re going, especially tax-wise,” Schweikert said. “The fair tax wouldn’t be much different from the system we have today.”
Coons stuck to a traditional Libertarian view on taxes.
“I really don’t support any taxes,” he said. “When you take someone’s property from someone without their consent, that’s theft. And I don’t support that.”
On the topic of education, Mitchell and Schweikert vehemently disagreed.
Mitchell attacked Schweikert for his views on reforming the education system.
He said that not only did Schweikert oppose Proposition 100, the 1 percent state sales tax increase to benefit funding of public education that passed in May, he also wanted to dismantle the Department of Education, which Mitchell, a 30-year teacher, said is “very offensive to me.”
“Mr. Schweikert spearheaded and was a co-sponsor to oppose Prop 100, which would have put local tax dollars into the schools,” Mitchell said. “Here he was not wanting the federal government to have any, and then asks people to vote against Proposition 100.”
Schweikert countered, saying the revenue from the sales tax increase went to the control of bureaucrats.
“I’m passionate about getting the cash out of the bureaucrat’s hands and into our neighborhood school districts,” Schweikert said. “It’s very simple. I want the dollars, and I want them here in my community.”
On the subject of immigration, both Mitchell and Schweikert said they wanted a fence built along the border, but Coons said he thought it should be easier for people to come to this country for opportunities.
“Anyone who wants to come here for opportunities should be allowed to come,” Coons said. “When people come here, they need to support themselves, and it should be easy for people to come here.”
Mitchell said one of the largest issues relating to illegal immigration is people overstaying legal work visas.
However, it’s very difficult for the federal government and immigration agencies to track those who overstay on visas, he said.
In response, Schweikert asked Mitchell, “Somehow Blockbuster can fine me when I’ve kept my DVD a few days long, but the federal government can’t fine people who have overstayed their visas?”
Schweikert said the technology and methodology of immigration agencies would have to be improved to counter such problems.
Moderator Robert Leger, an opinions editor for The Arizona Republic touched on the issue of negative campaign advertising, which Mitchell and Schweikert have both spent heavily on.
Schweikert said he was personally affected by Mitchell’s negative campaign ads, several of which said he was engaging in “predatory business practices” in a real estate company he co-owns with his wife.
“You turn on the TV, my wife comes in with tears in her eyes saying, ‘Why are they attacking us?’” Schweikert said. “We buy houses from people and fix them up as rentals. We thought we were the good guys.
“Because of what’s going on in the political environment, Congressman Mitchell is trying to destroy me as a person,” he said.
Mitchell said the accusations, including one that Schweikert’s company served a foreclosure notice on a 12-year-old child, were confirmed by court documents.
In closing statements, the candidates resonated the concern that there needed to be a change in directive, and maybe leadership, in Washington.
“I’m a member of Congress and I think it’s dysfunctional,” Mitchell said.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Will the voters dump Harry Mitchell for his support of the unconstitutional Obamacare? Let's hope so! Booting a government tyrant from office is the 2nd best thing the people can do.
Mitchell an Obamacare true believer
From the political notebook:
* I suspect the election outcome in the congressional race between Democratic incumbent Harry Mitchell and Republican challenger David Schweikert is already baked.
Republicans are galvanized this year, so Mitchell can't count on much of a crossover vote in this Republican leaning district. The question is whether Mitchell's votes for the $700 billion bank bailout, the $800 billion Obama stimulus and the $1 trillion dollar health care bill will break the strong bond he has always had with independents, who are a third of the district's electorate.
Certainly there was nothing in this week's Arizona Republic sponsored debate that would affect the outcome. But I was struck by one thing: Mitchell's staunch defense of the health care bill.
The health care vote is toxic for Democrats in swing districts. Democrats who voted for it are trying to limit the political damage by saying things such as: I voted for the bill because we had to break the grip of heartless insurance companies on the American people. I know the bill is badly flawed and there's a lot about it I don't like. If elected, I'll fight to keep the good parts and get rid of the bad.
Mitchell's not engaging in this political dodge. He defends the bill's specifics with what, for him, amounts to passion. He clearly thinks that its general approach of substantial federal government regulation of private health insurance is the right way to go.
At the time the bill passed, Mitchell commented that he felt that it gave him a chance to be on the right side of a historically important moment. He seems willing to accept the political price for that, if there's one to be paid.
Among endangered Democrats, Mitchell may be the only true believer in Obamacare. At least publicly.
* Mitchell's campaign is touting the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this week as proof that he's an independent Democrat, and not the kind that needs to be tossed out of office if the country is to chart a different fiscal path.
Voters, however, would be wise to peak around the corners of the chamber endorsement.
There are three major votes that have Republicans enflamed and independents very concerned about the country's fiscal direction, the aforementioned bank bailout, stimulus and Obamacare. The chamber supported two of them, the bank bailout and the stimulus.
Businesses and their organizations are not necessarily true supporters of a competitive market system. They are not necessarily opponents of big government. Most are quite willing to see government tilt the playing field their way and bail them out of their mistakes.
This was true when Adam Smith first observed it more than two centuries ago. It's true today.
* Democrats for down-ballot offices such as secretary of state have a daunting challenge. The Republican registration advantage and higher turnout propensity put Democrats in a hole from the beginning. And Democrats rarely have enough money for down-ballot state offices to compensate for this built-in disadvantage.
So, they have to do something to shake things up and get the attention of voters.
The Democratic candidate for secretary of state, Chris Deschene, tried to do this by accusing incumbent Republican Ken Bennett of standing idly by while Republicans tried to run some sham Green Party candidates for the Legislature. That didn't fly, since it was instinctive to most people that the guy who runs elections shouldn't be getting into the business of deciding who is a legitimate representative of any particular party and who isn't.
Now Deschene is claiming that Bennett is too cozy with lobbyists he is supposed to regulate. If Deschene had just stuck with that, he'd have somewhat of a point. Bennett does move comfortably within the statehouse political culture.
But Deschene had to go further, and call for government to license lobbyists and regulate them for conflicts of interest.
Let's be blunt. Interest groups that can afford to hire lobbyists are political big boys. They don't need government's protection.
And this is dangerous territory, given that lobbying is, as much as people don't like to hear it, a protected First Amendment activity.
Mitchell, Schweikert in battle for Congressional District 5 seat
Posted: Saturday, October 23, 2010 5:00 pm | Updated: 10:44 pm, Fri Oct 22, 2010.
Dan Zeiger, Tribune
David Schweikert remembers knocking on doors in Arizona's Fifth Congressional District in 2008, saying that, in some cases, the conversation abruptly ceased when he revealed that he was the Republican nominee for the seat.
"They would shut their door," Schweikert said. "If I was a Republican, they weren't talking to me. Now, those same houses have yard signs for us."
The chilly reception was not out of line in the toxic-to-Republicans election cycles of 2006 and '08, but in the first federal election of a new decade, Schweikert reports that his sales job is much easier.
The candidate and Republican Party hope that translates into ballot-box success.
If 2010 is the "wave" GOP election that some analysts expect, Schweikert - who was defeated by Democrat Harry Mitchell, 53 percent to 44 percent, two years ago - has a good chance to win the rematch in the GOP-leaning district that covers all of Tempe and Scottsdale and parts of Chandler, Mesa and Phoenix.
The race appears to be a toss-up, with the most recent independent poll within the margin of error.
"I was in Washington, D.C., (recently) with about 50 other candidates who feel good about carrying their own races," said Schweikert, a real-estate investor and former state legislator and Maricopa County treasurer. "The elections of 2006 and 2008 were Democratic wave years, no doubt about it. ... But it looks like voters are going to give our party another chance, and we can't squander it."
Mitchell, a former Tempe mayor who ousted Republican incumbent J.D. Hayworth to win the seat in '06, acknowledges that voter frustration with the slow economic recovery makes it a challenging political climate for Democrats, whose House majority could be in peril.
However, he added that he subscribes to the philosophy of former House Speaker Tip O'Neill - all politics is local.
"This district has always been one that looks at individual issues that affect its people the most," Mitchell said. "The fact that I've served as a Democrat in this district shows that I've been willing to reach across the aisle. I know people are trying to make this a national election, but I feel good about where we are because I know we have served this district well."
The district was carried by George W. Bush in 2000 and '04 and John McCain in '08.
According to the Arizona Secretary of State's office, there are 143,198 registered Republicans in the district, 104,781 Democrats, 3,115 Libertarians, 654 Greens and 116,623 classified as independent/other.
Nick Coons, a Libertarian, is the only other candidate on the ballot.
An Oct. 12-14 poll conducted for The Hill, a Washington political newspaper, has Schweikert leading 45-42, with 10 percent of likely voters undecided and a 4.9-percent margin of error. Independents are breaking for Mitchell, the paper said.
Both candidates have touted internal polls that have them on top.
Schweikert said that his primary campaign focus is on Mitchell's voting record, claiming his yes votes on such issues as health-care reform and the $787 billion stimulus are more in line with Democratic leadership than district voters.
Mitchell countered with his 80-percent pro-business voting score - highest among Arizona's eight-member Congressional delegation - from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2009.
"I haven't introduced a bill in Congress without a Republican co-sponsor," Mitchell said. "Even though that may seem symbolic, I think it's more than that."
Both candidates expressed support of extending the Bush-era tax cuts, for all income levels.
Schweikert, echoing GOP candidates nationwide, said that cutting the deficit - for fiscal year 2010, it was $1.25 trillion, down slightly from the previous year - is of vital importance.
In an interview with the Tribune's editorial board, Schweikert offered little specifics on spending cuts.
Republicans failed to stay focused on their conservative economic principles the last time they held a Congressional majority, Schweikert said. "We should be committed to fiscal sanity, and we abandoned that," he said.
According to The Hill, the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent $744,000 in independent funds on the race, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee $571,000.
Federal Election Commission data indicates that, through the end of September, Mitchell's campaign had $296,241 cash on hand, Schweikert $204,666.
"We're ready for our final push," Mitchell said. "If there's an voting enthusiasm gap (between the parties), we're not seeing it here."
Voters Dump Police State Tyrannt Harry MitchellWhen Harry Mitchell was a history teacher at Tempe High School he rules his class with an iron fist. When Harry Mitchell become mayor of Tempe he also ruled over his serfs in the City of Tempe with an iron fist. And Harry Mitchell continue to rule over his serfs with an iron fist when he was elected to Congress.
Thank God the voters have come to their senses and dumped police state thug Harry Mitchell.
F*ck you Harry Mitchell. It's a pleasure to see the voters boot you out of office.
East Valley Tribune - Arizona Local News
November 3, 2010 | 08:11 am
Voters changed the balance of Arizona's congressional delegation from heavily Democratic to majority Republican on Tuesday.
Republicans picked up two seats and will have at least five of eight Arizona seats in the new Congress.
Voters rejected another term in office for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick in the 1st District and Harry Mitchell in the 5th District.
Tea party favorite Paul Gosar will take over Kirkpatrick's seat and David Schweikert will replace Mitchell.
In southern Arizona, Democrats Gabrielle Giffords and Raul Grijalva held thin leads in their districts late Tuesday.
Republican Ben Quayle held onto a GOP seat being vacated by retiring Rep. John Shadegg, turning back Democratic challenger Jon Hulburd.
Voters re-elected Democrat Ed Pastor and Republicans Jeff Flake and Trent Franks by wide margins.
And in the Senate, longtime Arizona Republican John McCain easily won re-election.
The Arizona results showed two things to Arizona State University political science professor Richard Herrera.
"The first thing I take away is that Democrats did not turn out in Arizona like they did in other areas, and that led to some close-race losses," Herrera said, noting that Nevada Democrats sent majority leader Harry Reid back to the Senate with a win of about five percentage points.
"And the second thing is that Arizona may very well just be coming back to where its natural location is ideologically, and that results in a five-three Republican congressional delegation."
Schweikert defeated incumbent Mitchell with 53 percent of the vote to Mitchell's 43 percent late Tuesday.
Schweikert benefited from a national Republican election year and millions in spending by his campaign and outside groups that linked Mitchell to President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Mitchell also spent freely and received national support, but it was too much for the popular former mayor of Tempe.
Mitchell won the seat four years ago in a tight battle with former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, who was tainted by association with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The district leans Republican, and Herrera said the voters swung back to the right during a Republican year.
"I think it was the message and a combination of frustration with a lot of voters feeling betrayed by the Democrat agenda, a Republican tide, the difficulties we're having in Arizona, it all came together at once," said Schweikert, who lost to Mitchell in 2008 but came out ahead on Tuesday. "Let's face it, elections are made up of a lot of moving parts.
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Some more news on that $700 billion corporate welfare program!