This web page lists stories which show how the American President or American Emperor is truely an emperor, like rulers of past Empires.
Originally this was page was here but I split it into two web pages. This web page and a second web page whichs shows the main purpose of government is to aid the elected officials and the special interest groups that helped elect them, not the people they claim to serve. Or as Michael Kaery said -
"Government of the people by the elected officials and appointed bureaucrats, for the elected officials, appointed bureaucrats and special intrest groups that helped them get into power!"
Obama update: Rail, bus and street restrictions
Metro riders, bus riders and motorists should all brace for delays and inconvenience Wednesday (May 13) as President Barack Obama delivers the commencement speech at ASU while the Diamondback take on the Cincinnati Reds at the same time.
The twin events mean Metro will run all 50 of its available train cars for the first time. The presidential visit will mean tight security and the Secret Service is requiring temporary closures of train stations, streets and bus stops.
Here¡¦s a quick rundown of events:
Metro will cease running trains between Veterans Way and University Drive stations between 6 and 9:30 p.m. During that time, passengers will be forced off trains and directed to a shuttle bus bridging the gap. One of 15 buses will ferry them around the campus to connect onward service.
Commencement attendees are advised to arrive no later than 5 p.m. to allow time for everyone to be screened by metal detectors. Between 2:30-6 p.m. Westbound Metro passengers are asked to disembark at the University Drive/Rural Road Station and take a free shuttle to the stadium. Eastbound passengers can do the same at Veterans Way/College Station. Metro also encourages people to walk the three-quarters of a mile to avoid long waits at the stations.
Diamondback fans should expect delays if they travel by train to the game after 3 p.m. or leave the stadium before 10:30 p.m. Metro has identified overflow park-and-ride lots at Park Central Mall, 38th Street and Washington, and Price Freeway and Apache Boulevard. Train passengers are advised to use passes or buy all-day tickets in advance.
The City of Tempe announced the following street closures, and restrictions:
And from 8 p.m. until traffic clears the following detours:
ASU Police Commander Jim Hardina says people should expect the same routine as for football games except the parking lot next to the stadium will be closed. The security measures also affect various bus routes:
Flights restricted during Obama visit
by Eddi Trevizo ƒpand Jane Larson - May. 13, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Airspace surrounding Arizona State University's Sun Devil Stadium will be restricted Wednesday evening to coincide with President Barack Obama's commencement address at ASU graduation ceremonies.
Only regularly scheduled commercial-passenger and all-cargo carriers, and law-enforcement, air-ambulance and military aircraft supporting the president and Secret Service, will be allowed to fly within a 12-mile radius of Sun Devil Stadium from 5:30 to 10:05 p.m. today, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Private flights within the 12-mile radius immediately surrounding the stadium will be prohibited, said Ian Gregor, spokesman for the FAA. ¡§The restrictions will have minimal effects on airlines, but will prevent private pilots from flying in and out of Sky Harbor International Airport, Scottsdale Airport, Falcon Field Airport and Chandler Airport while they're in effect,¡¨ Gregor said.
Scottsdale Airport and Falcon Field are widely used by a variety of corporate and other private aircraft.
The temporary flight restrictions also apply to flight-training, hang-gliding, crop-dusting and balloon operations, the FAA said. Under the temporary flight restriction, private flights arriving and departing from airports 12 to 30 miles from the stadium must file flight plans and maintain communication with air-traffic controllers. In addition, flights will be allowed only if air-traffic controllers can handle the load.
Private-aircraft service and training companies said the restrictions will cause only minor disruption to their businesses, since the restrictions are late in the day.
Arizona Aviation Flight Services, which is based at Falcon Field in Mesa, does ground training during temporary flight restrictions. Although longer daytime restrictions place a financial burden on the company, today's restriction won't affect it because it is after operating hours, said Jeanne Rieck, office manager for Arizona Aviation.
Chandler Air Service Inc. also resorts to ground training during temporary flight restrictions.
¡§The last time he came, that was a pain because he spent the night and the restriction was longer,¡¨ said John Walkup, owner of Chandler Air Service. ¡§This time, it's less than half an hour.¡¨
71,000 to greet Obama today
by Dan Nowicki - May. 13, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
President Barack Obama returns to Arizona State University today to rally graduates sobered by bleak job prospects and tout the value of higher education and public service.
Obama will deliver the commencement address during what has evolved into a Sun Devil Stadium extravaganza that will pit his trademark soaring oratory against the Valley's soaring temperatures. Many of the 71,000 people expected for the speech will wait for hours in searing triple-digit heat to hear a speech that will last about 20 minutes.
The president is expected to "discuss the amazing opportunity that graduates have, the challenging world that they enter into," said Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary. As he has done before, he is likely to talk about the importance of "the choices that you make leaving college, about being involved in your community and serving a purpose higher than yourself." Later this month, Obama will deliver commencement addresses at the University of Notre Dame and the U.S. Naval Academy.
Obama, who visited the Tempe campus in October 2007 as a presidential candidate and views Arizona as a key swing state for his 2012 re-election, comes to ASU as his administration readies a major education-reform push. The White House has hinted that, unlike Obama's Feb. 18 announcement in Mesa of his administration's housing-mortgage rescue plan, today's address will focus less on policy and more on traditional, forward-looking inspirational rhetoric.
Still, observers doubt Obama can ignore the economic uncertainty and anxiety that they say is "palpable" among the ASU student body.
"One of the things he can do is help recalibrate some expectations," said Kelly McDonald, an assistant professor of communication at ASU's School of Letters and Sciences who plans to attend today's ceremony. "Because where two, three, four years ago, most of the graduates sitting in the audience would have jobs lined up, across the board that's not happening."
Obama spent the days immediately after his Jan. 20 inauguration almost singularly focused on the ailing economy. A massive $787 billion economic-stimulus package passed in February. This week, Obama launched his No. 1 domestic legislative priority: health-care reform. And his $3.4 trillion fiscal 2010 budget also puts a new emphasis on education, particularly higher education.
Among other higher-education goals, Obama's budget aims to provide more federal money for Pell Grants, reform college- and university-funding formulas, simplify student-aid programs, triple the graduate fellowships in science, forge a partnership with states to bolster college completion, and make permanent the pro-college American Opportunity Tax Credit created by the economic-stimulus legislation.
Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., a former longtime Tempe mayor whose district includes ASU's main campus, is hoping Obama delivers an optimistic message to the outgoing students.
"While economic times are difficult now, the future is bright. No school better prepares its students to enter the workforce than Arizona State University," said Mitchell, a former high-school teacher and ASU adjunct professor. "The students graduating this year will be our leaders in the next generation, and, if we all make the right decisions, they will see extraordinary prosperity in this country."
Political speechwriters said they would not be surprised if Obama acknowledged the tough work environment facing his crowd.
"Does he have to? No. Should he? Probably," said Matt Latimer, a former spokesman for Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who later wrote speeches, including commencement addresses, for President George W. Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and is the author of the forthcoming book "Speech-less: Tales of a White House Survivor."
"He's pretty smart, so I bet he will," Latimer said.
Mark Salter, who has written many commencement speeches for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Obama's presidential-campaign opponent, predicted Obama will stay upbeat if he broaches the economy.
"If he does, it'll be something like, 'We're in a rough patch, obviously, but we'll come out of it. We've come out of worse, it's a great country and there's still a lot of opportunity in the country,' " Salter said.
The hot weather could influence the scope and length of Obama's speech.
"Sometimes, (presidential commencement addresses) put out a policy initiative, but sometimes, they just talk about public service or community," said Latimer, whose boss delivered 23 commencement addresses. "But the president I worked for always wanted it short. He thought about people sitting in an audience on a hot day who don't want to hear someone drone on for 45 minutes, so our instructions were 'short and funny.' We didn't always accomplish 'funny,' but we usually accomplished 'short.' "
Some conflicted about Obama address
Students honored by visit, don't share his views
by John Faherty - May. 13, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
It's an honor. But . . .
Some students at Arizona State University were conflicted as the school prepared for tonight's graduation ceremony featuring President Barack Obama.
They all agreed that having a sitting president address the crowd is good for the school's reputation.
But then it got complicated by politics and religion and sexual orientation.
Lance Robinson is graduating with a political-science degree and is a member of the ASU College Republicans.
Last fall he volunteered on Arizona Sen. John McCain's presidential bid.
"I put in so many hours for McCain. I was volunteering every week," Robinson said. "I even went to New Mexico for the 72-hour get-out-the-vote effort."
Tuesday afternoon, Robinson was still not sure if he would attend tonight's ceremony. He may choose to only attend a smaller ceremony for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on Friday.
"On behalf of ASU, it's really cool President Obama is coming. It's a great honor," Robinson said. "But personally I am against everything he has done."
Some people did vote for President Obama and are glad he will be speaking at the graduation, but they have mixed feelings as well.
Max Feldhake described himself as a Hillary Clinton supporter and an Obama voter.
"I like him, I do," Feldhake said outside of the campus office of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer and Questioning Coalition.
Obama's reputation in the gay-rights community is uneven.
He is opposed to same-sex marriage but favors civil unions giving gay couples the same legal rights as married couples.
He chose Rev. Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor who opposes same-sex marriage, to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. But in March, the Obama administration said it would endorse a United Nations declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality.
"There is a clear right and wrong on these issues," Feldhake said. "It is a disappointment. It has been slow, but I am a realist. I am glad he is coming."
Jessica Bender, a member of the ASU College Republicans, thinks the school went too far in creating the Barack Obama Scholars Program, which provides scholarships for needy students.
"We're barely past the 100 days, and now we have a scholarship named after him?" Bender said. "What about Goldwater? It's frustrating."
At lunchtime on Tuesday, Alyssa Bachman was sitting in the All Saints Catholic Newman Center across the street from campus.
Like many graduating seniors, she was on a computer looking for work.
Bachman is aware of the debate swirling around the University of Notre Dame campus as the pro-choice president prepares to speak at the Catholic school. The Catholic church is opposed to abortion.
"I have a lot of respect for that controversy. I understand it," she said. "At ASU, I think we are more conflicted about the heat than whether or not this fits in our political or moral beliefs."
Obama seems to be using the God line to get relected, and probably does mix government and religion.
Obama invokes Jesus more than Bush
KENS 5 - TV San Antonio Eamon Javers Eamon Javers – Tue Jun 9, 5:09 am ET
He’s done it while talking about abortion and the Middle East, even the economy. The references serve at once as an affirmation of his faith and a rebuke against a rumor that persists for some to this day.
As president, Barack Obama has mentioned Jesus Christ in a number of high-profile public speeches — something his predecessor George W. Bush rarely did in such settings, even though Bush’s Christian faith was at the core of his political identity.
In his speech Thursday in Cairo, Obama told the crowd that he is a Christian and mentioned the Islamic story of Isra, in which Moses, Jesus and Mohammed joined in prayer.
At the University of Notre Dame on May 17, Obama talked about the good works he’d seen done by Christian community groups in Chicago. “I found myself drawn — not just to work with the church but to be in the church,” Obama said. “It was through this service that I was brought to Christ.”
And a month before that, Obama mentioned Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount at Georgetown University to make the case for his economic policies. Obama retold the story of two men, one who built his house on a pile of sand and the other who built his on a rock: “We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand,” Obama said. “We must build our house upon a rock.”
More than four months into the Obama presidency, a picture is emerging of a chief executive who is comfortable with public displays of his religion — although he has also paid tribute to other faiths and those he called “nonbelievers” during his inaugural address.
Obama’s invocation of the Christian Messiah is more overt than Americans heard in the public rhetoric of Bush in his time in the White House — even though Bush’s victories were powered in part by evangelical voters.
“I don’t recall a single example of Bush as president ever saying, ‘Jesus’ or ‘Christ,’” said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Christian group Family Research Council. “This is different.”
To Perkins, Obama’s overtly Christian rhetoric is a welcome development from an administration that he largely disagrees with on the issues, though Perkins sees a political motive behind it, as well.
“I applaud that. It gives people a sense of comfort,” Perkins said. “But I think it’s a veneer, a facade that covers over a lot of policies that are anti-Christian.” That includes, in his view, Obama’s stance in favor of abortion rights.
The Rev. Barry Lynn, the executive director of the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State, doesn’t like the trend with Obama: “I don’t need to hear politicians tell me how religious they are,” Lynn said. “Obama in a very overt way does what Bush tended to do in a more covert way.”
Obama’s public embrace of his Christianity so far has not included choosing a church in the capital, and he has attended Sunday services only once since his election, on Easter Sunday. The White House said at the time the family was still looking for a spiritual home in Washington.
But inside his White House, Obama has placed his Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships — run by a 26-year old Pentecostal minister named Josh DuBois — under the White House’s Domestic Policy Council. That was widely seen as an effort to involve a religious perspective in the administration’s policy decisions.
Also, religious leaders meet with White House policymakers on a regular basis — and help to shape decisions on matters large and small. A White House speechwriter working on Obama’s Egypt speech called several faith leaders to get their thoughts. After the White House unveiled its budget in April, officials convened a two-hour conference call with religious leaders to discuss how the spending plan would help the poor.
“President Obama is a committed Christian, and he’s being true to who he is,” DuBois told POLITICO. “There’s an appropriate role for faith in public life, and his remarks reflect that. And they also reflect a spirit of inclusivity that recognizes that we are a nation with a range of different religious backgrounds and traditions.”
Still, it is ironic that Obama, who rode a wave of young, Internet-savvy and more secular voters to the White House, would more freely invoke the name of Jesus Christ than did Bush.
In his first year as president, Bush mentioned “Jesus” or “Christ” a handful of times — but only in innocuous contexts, such as his Easter proclamation, a Christmas message and a proclamation on “Salvation Army Week.”
To be sure, Bush talked openly about his faith. On the day of his second inauguration as governor of Texas, Bush reportedly told Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, “I believe that God wants me to be president.” As a Texas governor running for president, Bush declared in a presidential debate that the philosopher he most identified with was Jesus.
And in an interview for Bob Woodward’s 2004 book “Plan of Attack,” Bush was asked whether he’d talked to his father, the President George H.W. Bush, about the decision to invade Iraq.
“There is a higher father that I appeal to,” Bush said.
But there are different political imperatives driving the two presidents. Obama has every incentive to broadcast his Christianity, while Bush, for other reasons, chose to narrowcast his religious references to a targeted audience.
For Obama, Christian rhetoric offers an opportunity to connect with a broader base of supporters in a nation in which 83 percent of Americans believe in God. What’s more, regularly invoking Jesus helps Obama minimize the number of American who believe he is a Muslim — a linkage that can be politically damaging. According to a Pew Research Center study, 11 percent of Americans believe, incorrectly, that Obama is a Muslim; it’s a number that is virtually unchanged from the 2008 presidential campaign.
Yet Obama has targeted his messages, too. He used speeches in Turkey and last week in Egypt to highlight the Muslim relatives in his past as a way to draw a connection with his Muslim audiences — something he shied away from during his presidential campaign.
For Bush, invoking Jesus publicly was fraught with political risk. He was so closely politically identified with the Christian right that overt talk of Christ from the White House risked alienating mainstream and secular voters. Bush instead quoted passages from scripture or Christian hymns, as he did in his 2003 State of the Union Address when he used the phrase “wonder-working power.” That sort of oblique reference resonated deeply with evangelical Christians but sailed largely unnoticed past secular voters.
To some, the difference between the two presidents goes beyond rhetoric. David Kuo, a former official in Bush’s faith-based office who later became disillusioned with the president he served, worries that both men have exploited religious phraseology for political gain. “From a spiritual perspective, that’s a great and grave danger,” he said. “When God becomes identified with a political agenda, God gets screwed.”
And he suspects that Obama has an even larger goal: the resurrection of the largely dormant Christian Left, a tradition that encompasses Martin Luther King’s civil rights leadership and dates back as far as Dorothy Day, the liberal activist who co-founded the Catholic Worker movement in the 1930s.
Recast in 21st Century terms, that long-dormant stream of American political life could become a powerful political force. A Pew survey released May 21 found that even as Americans remain highly religious, there has there been a slow decline in the number of Americans with socially conservative values – especially among young voters. That creates an opening for Obama, especially at a time when some conservative evangelicals are telling pollsters they are frustrated and disillusioned with politics.
“In the long term, this could be huge,” said Stephen Schneck, director of the Life Cycle Institute at The Catholic University of America, who is active in left-leaning political efforts. “There are swing Catholics and swing Protestants even within the evangelicals. To the extent Obama can mobilize those people as part of a new Democratic coalition, that marginalizes Republicans even further.”
Obama is not the President of the American people. Obama is the President of the government nannies that rule the American people. This includes the generals who are running the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Obama seems to be doing what his generals tell him. Keep the war secret! The American public don't need to know the crimes they commit!
Obama seeks to block release of abuse photos
Posted 5/13/2009 2:53 PM ET E-mail | Save | Print
By Jennifer Loven, AP White House Correspondent
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is seeking to block the release of hundreds of photos showing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan being abused, reversing his position after military commanders warned that the images could stoke anti-American sentiment and endanger U.S. troops.
The pictures show mistreatment of detainees at locations beyond the infamous U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Word of Obama's decision on Wednesday came after top military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan expressed fears that publicizing the pictures could put their troops in danger. When the Abu Ghraib photos emerged in 2004 of grinning U.S. soldiers posing with detainees, some naked, some being held on leashes, they caused a huge anti-American backlash around the globe, particularly in the Muslim world.
Obama decided he did not feel comfortable with the photos release, and was concerned it would inflame tensions in Iraq and Afghanistan, put U.S. soldiers at higher risk and make the U.S. mission in those two wars more difficult, according to White House officials.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that the president was concerned that the photos' release would pose a national security threat, an argument the administration has not made yet in the courts.
"The president does not believe that the strongest case regarding the release of these photos was presented to the court and that was a case based on his concern about what the release would do to our national security," Gibbs said.
Gibbs said that the main argument previously was a privacy one.
The move represented a sharp reversal from Obama's repeated pledges for open government, and in particular from his promise to be forthcoming with information that courts have ruled should be publicly available.
As such, it was sure to invite criticism from the more liberal segments of the Democratic Party that want a full accounting -- and even redress -- for what they see as the misdeeds of previous years under former President George W. Bush.
May 29, 2009
Photos show a young, 'cool' Obama
Exhibit features president as college student in Calif.
May. 29, 2009 12:00 AM
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - He was tall and stunningly good-looking, a guy who could appear pensive and serious one moment and then, with smoke from an unfiltered cigarette swirling around his face, morph into the hippest-looking dude this side of James Dean.
Which is why budding photographer Lisa Jack knew the moment she saw Barack Obama walk into the campus snack shop at Los Angeles' Occidental College in 1980 that she had to get the freshman in front of a camera.
"I was doing portraits of fellow students, the cool people on campus," Jack, a slender, 49-year-old bundle of energy, recalled this week as she stood in a West Hollywood photo gallery surrounded by framed black-and-white photos of the president as a young man. "A friend of a friend said, 'There's this REALLY cool guy, REALLY good-looking, you have to get his picture.' And as he said it, he (Obama) walked in. He (the friend) said, 'Hey, Barry, come here.' "
Soon after, they had made arrangements for a photo shoot at Jack's small off-campus apartment, a nondescript hovel furnished with little more than a worn couch that had been salvaged from the side of the road and an overturned shopping cart that doubled as an end table.
To Jack's surprise, the future president, dressed in jeans and a shirt with sleeves rolled up, arrived with his own props, including a leather bomber jacket, a wide-brimmed Panama hat and a package of cigarettes.
"He had so much charisma, even back then, it was amazing," the photographer said, looking at a portrait of Obama, a broad grin on his face, one palm outstretched as though he's about to welcome a visitor. In another, his head is tilted back, eyes closed, a grin again fixed on his face.
"Some of these are goofy. He could be a goofball," Jack said, chuckling as she surveyed them.
Then, she moved on to view photos of the future president looking pensive and sometimes lost in thought, still others of him in his classic cool pose, cigarette smoke swirling around his face, others in the bomber jacket, hat off, showing a medium-length Afro. She shot just one 36-exposure roll of film, going on to earn an A in her photo class.
Emperor Obama to make another taxpayer funded campaign trip to Arizona ie: re-elect Emperor Obama in 2012
Obama should pick up some votes at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Phoenix. He is turning out to be a war monger just like Bush! Heil Emperor Obama, Heil Bush, Heil Hitler!
Obama to make stops at Grand Canyon, Phoenix
by Eric Kelly - Aug. 7, 2009 11:57 AM
Republic Washington Bureau
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha plan to spend the day in Arizona on Sunday, Aug. 16, White House officials said today.
The Obamas will visit the Grand Canyon and Phoenix, said Adam Abrams, western regional press spokesman for the White House. Details of the president's public appearances have not yet been released.
The Arizona visit will be part of a multi-state trip that the president is making to Western states, Abrams said. Although Obama lost the state to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the 2008 presidential election, it is seen as a swing state that is up for grabs in 2012.
While details on the visit are unknown, the trip will coincide with the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars at the Phoenix Convention Center, which runs Aug. 15-23. VFW spokesman Jerry Newberry told a Republic reporter earlier this week that the organization had invited the president to speak. President George W. Bush addressed the group in Orlando, Fla., last year.
Obama has visited Arizona three times since becoming president. In May,Obama spoke at Arizona State University's commencement inTempe. In February, he traveled to Mesa tounveil a planto address the mortgage crisis.
I guess the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Phoenix is a fitting place for Emperor Obama to speak at. After all Obama Barack is a war monger just like former President George W. Bush! Heil Obama! Heil Bush! Heil Hitler! Long live the Emperor! (just joking! I never met an emperor I liked)
Obama to talk about military at VFW in Phoenix
by Dan Nowicki - Aug. 13, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
President Barack Obama will speak Monday before the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Phoenix, the White House announced Wednesday as details of his upcoming trip to Arizona continue to trickle out.
"President Obama will be discussing our responsibility to maintain the world's finest military in the 21st century, to give our troops and veterans the care, the benefits and the respect that they have earned," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha will arrive Saturday from Grand Junction, Colo. The family intends to visit the Grand Canyon on Sunday. Gibbs said he doubted Obama would take questions at the closed-to-the-public VFW gathering at the downtown Phoenix Convention Center.
"It is a time-honored tradition for the commander-in-chief of our nation's armed forces to address the national convention of America's largest organization of combat veterans, which celebrates its 110th anniversary next month," VFW National Commander and Vietnam War veteran Glen M. Gardner Jr. said in a written statement.
"We are grateful to President Obama for taking the time to speak to us on issues that are vitally important to our nation's veterans, her military and their families."
I find it disturbing that the media is paint the guy as a crackpot criminal! After all what is wrong calling for:
"resistance ... against unconstitutional or illegal behavior by government officials."Is the media suggesting that our government rulers are royal rulers who don’t have to obey the Constitution? Or suggesting that because the man was wearing a gun he is a criminal. Or even worse suggesting that wearing a gun at a political rally makes him a criminal?
Man with gun at town-hall rally has right-wing ties
by Robert Anglen - Aug. 13, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
The man who brought a gun to President Barack Obama's town-hall meeting on Tuesday is a former Arizona resident with ties to a right-wing group that calls for "resistance ... against unconstitutional or illegal behavior by government officials."
William Kostric, 36, formerly of Scottsdale, stood outside the New Hampshire meeting on health care with a gun holstered at his thigh and holding a sign proclaiming that "it is time to water the tree of liberty." State law permitted Kostric to openly carry a licensed handgun.
The quote, often referenced by those in separatist and militia movements, refers to Thomas Jefferson's famous call for vigilance: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots." Web sites indicate that Kostric is a "team member" of the Arizona chapter of We the People Foundation, which has a stated goal of "returning America to its founding principles."
On its Web site, We the People's founder Robert Schulz says, "Our recent initiatives have focused largely on questioning the federal government's abuse of its Constitutional powers to incur debt, tax labor, create currency by fiat, conduct war and police the peace."
The group maintains that it is not concerned with politics or personalities in office. But Schulz supports the so-called birther movement, which promotes the idea that Obama wasn't really born in the United States and shouldn't be president. We the People joined a lawsuit that unsuccessfully challenged Obama's presidency based on the citizenship claim.
Kostric could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Records show that he moved from Scottsdale to New Hampshire last year.
Kostric's MySpace page contains tributes to militia ideology and individuals.
Nope its not a vacation for Obama and his family paid for the tax payers its a trip to encourage people to visit the national park system during the summer's third and last "fee-free" weekend, when entry fees are waived.
Tusayan awaits visit by Obamas
By CYNDY COLE
Sun Staff Reporter
Thursday, August 13, 2009
The community of Tusayan, just outside the South Rim entrance gate to Grand Canyon National Park, has been waiting, watching and asking all week about the arrival of President Obama and the first family.
Secret Service personnel and men with military haircuts have been noted around town, as have cargo planes landing at an airport typically used for small aircraft and air tours over the Grand Canyon. Local pilots are expecting to hear about related flight restrictions Friday, with the Obamas landing in Tusayan sometime Sunday morning and leaving Sunday afternoon.
The White House has said that this visit is a family trip to the Grand Canyon and that no statements or public appearances were planned in Flagstaff or the park, at least as of Wednesday.
As the main entry point for Grand Canyon Village, Tusayan is used to seeing presidential motorcades.
The community received visits from both the elder and younger President Bush, and President Clinton, who came to announce the designation of Vermilion Cliffs and Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument.
"Here, as soon as Air Force One flies over, you know you've got a period of time to go stand by the road," said Clarinda Vail, owner of the Red Feather Lodge.
Each time it's different, Vail said.
George H.W. Bush waved to crowds and drove through with the windows down.
When the younger Bush drove by, it was difficult to tell which vehicle was his, she said.
A few in Tusayan also pondered whether the airport would hold up this time.
The arrival of the Air Force One jet has previously been powerful enough to blow out the lights there.
Local hoteliers report rooms are already mostly full due to the summer season, but they also note the presence of White House trip-planners in town, and a few are probably booking remaining rooms.
At Grand Canyon Camper Village inside the national park, most of the visitors are European, and largely unaware of the upcoming visit.
Try as they might, the staff at We Cook Pizza and Pasta can't get any hints about the schedule from the official-looking types now frequenting the restaurant, said Manager Brian Ciesielski.
"Anytime a president comes, it's a big to-do in the community, and we're all secretly hoping he comes in and says 'Hi' like anyone else might do," he said.
More realistically, he just wants to know what time Sunday to go stand by the side of the road.
"We hope we get to see him, and we'd love to meet him," Ciesielski said. "We also understand that that opportunity is remote."
Obama is visiting Bozeman, Mont., Yellowstone National Park, Grand Junction, Colo., and Phoenix as part of series of visits to national parks, paired with talks on proposed changes to the nation's health care system.
The White House has said the trips are meant, in part, to encourage people to visit the national park system during the summer's third and last "fee-free" weekend, when entry fees are waived.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that Obama would speak to the Veterans of Foreign War convention on Monday in Phoenix. Gibbs says Obama will discuss the United States' responsibilities to maintain the world's finest military.
Gibbs also says Obama will speak about the nation's responsibility to the men and women of the armed services when they return home from combat. Presidents typically address the convention. Obama spoke to the group last year as a presidential candidate.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Cyndy Cole can be reached at 913-8607 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grand Canyon community anxiously awaits Obama
Aug. 13, 2009 10:34 AM
FLAGSTAFF - Residents of the Grand Canyon community of Tusayan are anxiously awaiting Sunday's arrival of President Barack Obama and his family.
Already Secret Service personnel have been seen in town. Cargo jets have also landed at the nearby airport that normally serves as a hub for air tour operators.
The White House has said the visit is a family trip to the Grand Canyon and that no statements or public appearances were planned in Flagstaff or the park. As the gateway to the Grand Canyon, Tusayan has seen its share of presidential motorcades.
The community received visits from President Bush and President Clinton.
After his visit to northern Arizona, President Obama is expected to return to Phoenix. Monday, he addresses the Veterans of Foreign War convention.
"the White House and Park Service are working to create a private atmosphere for the Obamas and their two children" - at that sweet! They are closing a national park to the public so the Emperor and his family can enjoy it!
Obama trip may cause some disruptions at Grand Canyon
Parks officials warn tourists of possible closures, delays
by Dennis Wagner - Aug. 14, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Planning to end your summer with a visit to the Grand Canyon this Sunday?
You may wind up staring at roadblocks and Secret Service agents rather than a splendid abyss and towering cliffs.
David Eaker, a National Parks spokesman, said tourists should expect "some closures and some delays" as President Barack Obama and his family tour one of the world's seven natural wonders. Air Force One is scheduled to arrive in Tusayan at 10 a.m. Sunday, and the Obama family will spend about seven hours touring the Canyon before flying back to Phoenix. For security reasons, Eaker said, authorities will not announce details of the first family's itinerary, so it is impossible to know in advance which South Rim roads and attractions may be closed at any given time.
Crowds are typical at the Canyon in mid-August, and the numbers are expected to swell this weekend because the Park Service has waived admission fees that normally cost $25 per vehicle or $12 for pedestrians.
"It is a busy time," said park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge, noting that campgrounds and area hotels are typically full. "People are taking the last bit of vacation before kids head off to school."
Asked about the Obamas' visit on a fee-free weekend, Eaker said it is sheer coincidence, then chuckled at a suggestion that the president's family might be scrimping on its budget.
The Grand Canyon attracts nearly 5 million visitors annually from around the world, most of them drawn to the accessible South Rim where the Obama family will tour.
Eaker said a National Parks team has helped plan the presidential excursion, trying to minimize the impact on visitors. At the same time, he added, the White House and Park Service are working to create a private atmosphere for the Obamas and their two children. A White House news release stresses that the Canyon visit "will be closed to the press," and Grand Canyon Airport will be closed to the public during presidential arrivals and departures.
"For the first family, in reality, this is as much as it can be a vacation," Eaker said.
Grand Canyon National Park covers more than 1,900 square miles around a 270-mile stretch of the Colorado River, which flows a mile beneath the rim. The area first received federal protection in 1893 and was named a national park in 1919.
Other presidents who visited the Canyon while in office include William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Give me a break! This wasn't a threat on Obama's life! It was just some guy using his free speech! It sounds like the Secret Service guys make a jobs program for themselfs by arresting anybody who says any trivial thing about the President! If the Secret Service used this policy in Iraq 99 percent of the country would be in jail for wishing death on Bush and Obama!
'Death to Obama' sign holder detained
Aug. 13, 2009 10:24 AM
HAGERSTOWN, Md. - The Secret Service is investigating a man who authorities said held a sign reading "Death to Obama" outside a town-hall meeting on health-care reform in western Maryland.
The sign also read, "Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids," referring to the first name of President Barack Obama's wife, said Washington County Sheriff's Capt. Peter Lazich.
Lazich said deputies detained the unidentified, 51-year-old man near the entrance to Hagerstown Community College about 1 p.m. Wednesday after getting calls from a number of people attending the meeting held by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. Obama was not at the meeting.
The sheriff's office turned the man over to the Secret Service, Lazich said.
Barbara Golden, special agent in charge of the agency's Baltimore field office, said Thursday that an investigation is ongoing but declined further comment. A spokesman at the agency's Washington headquarters also declined to discuss the investigation.
Police said there were no other arrests among the nearly 1,000 people, some carrying protest signs, who came to the college for the meeting or demonstrated off-campus.
Cardin's national communications director, Sue Walitsky, called the incident "unfortunate." She said she was unaware of it until Thursday morning.
Again in this article the cops seem to be making a big deal out of nothing - the cops didn't arrest him for anything - other then two OLD unrelated misdemeanor warrants
Police standoff ends at LA federal building
Aug. 13, 2009 10:49 PM
LOS ANGELES — A man suspected of making threats against the White House was pulled from his car Thursday after an hours-long standoff in the parking lot of the Federal Building in West Los Angeles.
The man had refused to leave his red Volkswagen Beetle and withstood four rounds of chemical agents tossed inside the car after police broke a rear window. About an hour later, officers shot out the drivers window with a bean bag gun, used a Taser on the man and pulled him out.
Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan identified the suspect as Joseph Moshe, 56, of Los Angeles. Moshe is suspected of calling a police dispatch number Wednesday and making threatening statements about the White House, Donovan said. Police pulled him from the car after he ignored repeated attempts to negotiate his surrender.
The Federal Building had been locked down since noon, and employees were told to stay inside, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
Officers spotted Moshe's car around 10 a.m. near his home in the Westchester neighborhood and pursued him through the city's west side, police Det. Gus Villanueva said.
He drove around the federal building parking area once before a police SUV blocked his path as he tried to return to the street. Officers then surrounded his car with police cruisers and a large armored vehicle.
The man sat in the car smoking for hours before a robot broke a rear window of the car so officers could see inside, police Lt. Ruben de la Torre said.
Police did not know if the man was armed, he said.
Villanueva said Moshe was booked on two previous unrelated misdemeanor warrants but did not provide details. Officials later said he was taken to a hospital for observation.
Asked how the man was able to withstand multiple rounds of what appeared to be tear gas, Villanueva said some people are able to resist the chemicals.
“I can't explain that, there's no way to explain that,” he said.
Obamas expected to stay at Phoenician
Industry buzz hints luxury resort will host VIP guests during trip
by Dawn Gilbertson - Aug. 15, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
President Barack Obama will have a different view of Camelback Mountain on his second overnight trip to Phoenix this year.
The president and his family, arriving tonight for a two-night stay, are expected to stay at the Phoenician on Camelback Road at the base of the iconic mountain. In February, Obama stayed at the new InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa at Lincoln Drive and Tatum Boulevard, on the other side of the mountain.
The White House does not disclose where the president stays, and Phoenician officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment. But the tourism industry is abuzz with word that the 21-year-old Phoenician will get its presidential pedigree. The Arizona Biltmore has the richest history as the presidential pad of choice in Arizona, a legacy chronicled in photographs on the lobby walls. More recently, Montelucia and the Royal Palms Resort and Spa have joined the exclusive club. All confirmed the Obamas are not going to be checking in this weekend.
The Phoenician is one of a handful of resorts in metropolitan Phoenix to earn five-diamond status, the highest accolade from AAA. Canyon Suites, its even-more-exclusive hotel-within-a-hotel, also has five diamonds.
It's unclear whether the Obamas will be staying in the main resort, Canyon Suites or the Phoenician Residences, an enclave of homes on the resort's golf course.
Since it's summer, regular room rates this weekend are low, starting at $177 a night, and government rates are likely lower. In good times, the resort routinely commands $500-$600 a night and up.
On Thursday, the hotel's Web site had the presidential suite available this weekend at $1,600 a night. It was not available on the Web site on Friday. However, industry executives say the president doesn't always stay in the presidential suite.
The 60-room Canyon Suites, also home to a presidential suite with a baby grand piano and full kitchen, shows no availability this weekend. A reservations agent said it is closed for the month of August for upkeep.
The first family won't have much time to lounge by the Phoenician's mother-of-pearl pool, Centre for Well-Being spa or check out its new restaurants, including J&G Steakhouse by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. This is not an official vacation like the one planned in Martha's Vineyard later this month, complete with a reported $25,000 vacation rental on a privately owned farm.
They arrive in Phoenix around dinner time today after a visit to Yellowstone National Park and a health-care town hall in Colorado.
If they arrive by dusk, the president's daughters could head to the Oasis Pool for an Arizona summer tradition: dive-in movies. "Monsters vs. Aliens" is showing today, according to a resort concierge.
The family gets up early Sunday and heads to the Grand Canyon like many tourists, although the trip will be on Air Force One rather than a rental car or a tour bus. They return Sunday evening and will be in Phoenix on Monday morning. They head back to Washington on Monday after Obama's speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in downtown Phoenix.
Kate Birchler, senior marketing manager for Scottsdale Fashion Square, just over a mile from the Phoenician, thinks that leaves plenty of time for a shopping trip and is ready with her sales pitch.
"If they wanted to do some serious back-to-school shopping, they could take advantage of the upper level by Macy's, with Roxy, Quiksilver and American Eagle," she said.
Obama sightings beyond scheduled events are not out of the question. During a combination business/sightseeing trip to Paris and London earlier this summer, the Obamas dined at the restaurant at the Eiffel Tower, a French bistro and a British pub and also squeezed in some shopping, according to media reports.
At the Montelucia, an even-shorter trip than this weekend's, the president was seen running on a treadmill and walking the grounds.
The Phoenician may not have checked in a sitting president before, but the resort has history with the government. In the middle of the night in November 1989, federal regulators seized control of the resort from developer Charles H Keating Jr. The hotels were owned by a subsidiary of his failed savings and loan.
The resort is currently owned and managed by lodging giant Starwood Hotels & Resorts, parent of the Westin, Sheraton and W brands, among others.
Reach the reporter at 602-444-8617.
The Emperor and his family gets the Grand Canyon for themselfs?
Obama, family hiking Grand Canyon
by J. Craig Anderson and Shaun
McKinnon - Aug. 16, 2009 10:45 AM
The Arizona Republic
President Barack Obama and his family have arrived at the Grand Canyon and appear to be headed for a hike.
The first family was whisked away in an SUV soon after landing in Tusayan.
They are expected to be at the Grand Canyon until around 2 p.m.
The president left Sky Harbor International Airport at about 9:30 on Sunday morning for the short flight to the canyon. The Obamas had been expected to spend about seven hours at the scenic wonder, but now will spend less than four hours there before returning to Phoenix.
Dressed in slacks and a casual shirt, Obama boarded Air Force One with his wife Michelle, who was dressed in shorts. Daughters Malia and Sasha bounded up the stairs behind the first couple. The president's Grand Canyon visit is billed as a private affair and he doesn't plan any public events.
Security for the Obamas' arrival in Phoenix was extremely tight, with all airport traffic shut down for about 15 minutes until the presidential motorcade drove away.
After arriving in Phoenix on Saturday evening, the Obamas dined at Macayo's Mexican Kitchen in central Phoenix, the chain's flagship restaurant that opened in 1952.
The first family arrived just before 8 p.m. at the Phoenician resort, 6000 E. Camelback Road in Phoenix, where the family is scheduled to stay while in town.
Phoenix police Sgt. Andy Hill said local police will be assisting the Secret Service throughout the family's stay.
Tourists visiting the Grand Canyon today should expect some closures and delays while the president and his family are taking their private tour, a National Parks spokesman said.
On Monday morning, Obama is expected to speak at the 110th Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention at the Phoenix Convention Center downtown, after which the Obama family plans to depart for Washington.
Republic reporters David Kadlubowski, Alex Bloom, Glen Creno and the Associated Press contributed to this article.
Pierre Theze, 46, of Switzerland, didn't mind that his planned helicopter tour was canceled Sunday because of security for the Emperor.
Grand Canyon tourists looking for Obama
by Dennis Wagner and Dan Nowicki - Aug. 16, 2009 01:54 PM
The Arizona Republic
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK - For tourists at the Grand Canyon Sunday, the political star power of President Barack Obama and the First Family temporarily eclipsed the landmark's majestic natural beauty.
Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha arrived at the canyon's West Rim at 10:24 a.m. to the cheers of about 250 onlookers waiting along the road. Many of the visitors had temporarily turned their backs on the Canyon to catch a glimpse of the presidential motorcade.
“Is the president really here? Cool,” said Andrea Jordi, 37, of Switzerland, who had just hiked out of the canyon via the Bright Angel Trail. “We're so lucky then.”
It was Obama's first time to the Grand Canyon since childhood. “Pretty nice, eh?” Obama said of the view from Hopi Point. “Last time I was here was when I was 11 years old.”
A ranger asked if it looked the same. “It does!” Obama replied. The Obamas were expected to cut their Canyon stop a few hours short and return to Phoenix earlier than planned. No immediate explanation for the change in schedule was available. Obama on Monday will address the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention at the downtown Phoenix Convention Center.
Authorities shut down the West Rim for the visit, during which the Obamas were expected to take two short hikes before heading back to Phoenix. Some Canyon guests expressed frustration at road closures and other inconveniences, but most didn't mind the imposition of the first family.
Pierre Theze, 46, of Switzerland, was making visit to the canyon, having booked his trip eight months ago. He didn't mind that his planned helicopter tour was canceled Sunday because of security reasons.
“I'm so excited. It's not disturbing — I think it's great,” Theze said. “Quite exciting.”
Joyce Rudofsky, 58, Parks, Ariz., and her husband, Neil, wanted to bicycle to West Rim but ran into a road block.
“I think it's the perfect place for him to take his family,” Joyce Rudofsky said.
Corinne Conley, 21, of Chicago, also had her personal Sunday canyon plans disrupted.
“It's kind of fun, but it is cramping my style,” she said. One tourist, 43-year-old Alexandra Wonderl from the Netherlands, identified herself as a member of “the Dutch Obama fan club.”
“When Obama was inaugurated, we held a big party and sometimes we get together and talk about how he's doing,” Wonderl said.
The onlookers along the Rim Road wanted to get the best look at the Obama caravan as it arrived.
“I think it's cool. I'm glad he's coming,” Ron Steffen, 54, of Phoenix said. “I've never seen a motorcade before.”
Mark Klett, 56, a Tempe resident and a photography instructor at Arizona State University, wanted to shoot a photo of Obama arriving in hopes of matching it up with a historic image of former President Theodore Roosevelt riding a mule into the Canyon.
“We can't get the president doing that, but maybe we will get the motorcade,” Klett said. “We'll just get what we can.”
Neil Rudofsky, 65, thought he captured the historic moment on video.
“The excitement came. I got the perfect shot. I mean, I had it all — he waved at us,” Rudofsky said. “And then I didn't push the record button.”
The Associated Press and Republic reporters Shaun McKinnon and Glen Creno contributed to this report.
6 pilots violated the Emperors 30 mile airspace restriction during Obama visit. This is a little over 2,800 square miles of land pilots are not allowed to fly in when the Emperor visits Phoenix.
FAA: 6 pilots violated airspace restriction during Obama visit
by Megan Gordon - Aug. 16, 2009 10:32 PM
The Arizona Republic
Six pilots violated airspace restrictions Sunday, according to a Federal Aviation Administration.
Due to President Barack Obama's stay in Phoenix, FFA official's restricted airspace in a 30-mile radius, with the center near Sky Harbor International Airport, said Ian Gregor, FFA spokesperson.
The 10-mile-radius is a "no-fly zone . . . where nobody goes in except for scheduled airlines and emergency aircraft," Gregor said.
Between the 10 and 30-mile-radius pilots are allowed to fly as long as they stay in contact with air-traffic controllers, he said.
All of the six violations were in that ring.
Gregor said the Secret Service and Air Force decide how to respond to the infractions.
Depending on the severity of the violation, FFA officials can penalize the pilots anywhere from a warning to a revocation of a license.
Obama arrival smooth; Valley traffic snarls
Andre Bowser, Tribune
August 15, 2009 - 8:24PM
President Barack Obama landed in Phoenix against a tequila sunset Saturday evening and was greeted by Gov. Jan Brewer and Mayor Phil Gordon. The president arrived to vacation with his family as well as address a national veterans convention.
Health care fight shadows Obama visit
But far from Air Force One and the heat-island tarmac, the real story was happening on roads surrounding the airport, where hundreds of drivers are fed into terminals by a series of Valley highways, like connecting arteries.
But, the heart of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport had stopped as Terminal 2 was closed by authorities for the president’s arrival at the executive terminal.
Phoenix police officials declined to give specifics regarding the president’s comings and goings, citing security concerns.
But police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill did offer, “There will be traffic disruptions Monday morning in the downtown area and in surrounding areas.”
That was a tip many drivers who sat in traffic Saturday evening failed to get.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety reported no closures on the highways in connection with the president’s arrival.
But ADOT spokesman Timothy Tait said, “There will be rolling closures as the motorcade or other elements of the president’s group progresses.”
It made sense that most of the traffic jam centered around the airport, rather than farther out on the traffic arteries.
“It’s not as though we shut down a freeway hours in advance,” Tait said.
Tait said the rolling closures would be a part of life for the next few days.
The president and his family are scheduled to head to the Grand Canyon today, and he will speak Monday at the 110th Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention at the Phoenix Convention Center, according to White House staff.
Brewer may cross paths with the president on Monday, as well. She is also scheduled to speak at the veterans convention.
In unrelated road closures, Loop 101 in Tempe and Chandler will be closed through today. Also, the Loop 202 interchange at Brown Road in east Mesa will be closed until 3 p.m. The eastbound Loop 202 off-ramp is closed at McClintock Drive until 5 a.m. Monday for freeway widening.
Obama protests, rallies heat up in Phoenix
Ryan Gabrielson, Michelle Reese, Tribune
August 17, 2009 - 7:25AM , updated: August 17, 2009 - 10:47AM
Protesters and proponents of health care reform square off in downtown Phoenix with President Obama making a visit to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention convention Monday, Aug. 17, 2009.
Darryl Webb, TribuneThe blare of megaphones rose with the sun in downtown Phoenix Monday as more than 1,000 protestors from all over the political spectrum called for President Barack Obama to take action on myriad issues.
The largest crowds swelled at Washington and Third streets, just outside the Phoenix Convention Center, where the president began delivering his speech shortly after 10 a.m. at the national Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.
The crowds got louder as the president’s arrival neared, and tempers flared as people with different views passed each other on the streets.
Most dominant among the crowds, of course, are critics and supporters of the current health care reform proposal.
Dave Armstrong, of Surprise, wasn’t subtle about his thoughts as he stood at the corner of Adams and Third streets, holding a sign that read “Obama health care call 1-800-Death.”
The White House’s shift to consider a removal of the government-operated healthcare option on Sunday didn’t assuage Armstrong and his fellow protestors’ concerns.
“He’s minimizing it to get it in,” Howard Seith, who stood beside Armstrong, said of the health care reforms. “Once he gets it in, he’ll piecemeal (the public option) back in over two or three years.”
While these protestors don’t trust Obama, Seith and Armstrong said, they hold Republican lawmakers in low esteem, as well. Government’s involvement in health care is like trying to treat patients with leaches, “it eventually kills the patient,” Armstrong said.
On the other side, Obama supporters appeared energetic about the president as well as his proposed reforms.
And already, verbal sparring between groups has begun.
Supporters could be heard shouting: “Hope not fear.”
They were answered by “Kill the bill.”
When an older man walked through a crowd of Democratic supporters and made a derogatory comment about health care, the president’s supporters shouted at him: “Then get rid of your Medicare card.”
Steve Hamma, 55, a Navy veteran of the Vietnam conflict, stood with hundreds of supporters, holding a sign: “Veterans for Obama.”
“I wanted to show our president, who I consider the best president of my lifetime, my support,” he said. “I supported him on our stimulus package and I support him on his health care plan. If he can’t do it, I don’t think it’s going to be done in my lifetime.
“I believe as an American if you put in a day’s work, you are a part of this country and a part of this system. You deserve health care,” Hamma continued. “I don’t care if you are a janitor or a maid, if you work, you are a part of the system.”
Karen Bayless Feldman, of Phoenix, said she came out to see Obama because he was so close to her home and she supports his healthcare plan. Three years ago her son, now 11, had a brain tumor removed. Her concern is one day he would be denied health coverage.
“I always knew that, but I didn’t think of it until he was sick … he still has epilepsy because of it. He has a condition that needs constant treatment.”
Critics of the plan, however, were out in force, as well.
Nicole Woods, 37, of Mesa, sitting with a large crowd a few blocks west of the conference center held up a sign: “Choice is a right. Healthcare is not.”
“Choice is a right. I don’t believe the direction the country is going is right,” she said. “We don’t want government in our healthcare. I’m not an angry mobster. I’m an American. I’m exercising my American rights.”
Shelby Yates, 20, of Peoria, said: “We don’t believe the government should be part of the healthcare system. They aren’t good at running systems. Medicare and Social Security aren’t doing so well. Yates was with Scott Goss, 18, also of Peoria. Goss was carrying a sign that read: “Where will the Canadians go, eh?”
Meanwhile, other forms of protest were attempting to draw attention from the downtown crowds: A moving truck driving around the area had pictures of aborted fetuses and the president’s picture.
Jim Sawyer, a combat photographer with the Air Force in the Korean War, shook his head at the general protest scene.
“Every time the president comes to this, people have something to say,” said the VFW member from Maine who was planning to attend the president’s address. “The minute he is gone, this will be gone.”
Another veteran, Clifford James, 81, sat near the convention center having breakfast. He said he agrees with the protestors who are against the public health care option.
“They’ve got every right and I agree with them. Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, that’s what we are fighting for,” said James, who did not plan to attend the president’s address but would be going to the VFW conference. “I didn’t vote for him. I respect the office, but I don’t respect the man in the office.”
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.
Macayo's? A place that sells White people food that pretends to be Mexican food! Gringo food that looks like Mexican food! Nada mas!
Obama doesn't know nothing about finding good Mexican food compared to what he does about giving giving out billion dollar handouts of corporate welfare to rich corporations.
Let's sum up Macayo's in two words! Macayo's sucks!
Obamas' Macayo's pick leaves locals baffled
The Obama family's surprise visit to Macayo's Mexican Kitchen Saturday night sent many Valley foodies and burro enthusiasts into a tizzy.
Instead of chowing down at one of the area's many local, independent Mexican joints, the First Family opted to celebrate the birthday of Barack Obama's half-sister at the central Phoenix restaurant, the flagship in a chain of 18 Macayo's in Arizona and Nevada.
On Twitter, a number of observers knocked the president's choice.
lafinguy wrote: "Obama & fam ate at Macayo's on Central? Damn. Too bad they couldn't enjoy good Mexican food while they were here."
Added neilends: "I mean really, which moron staffer for the Arizona Dems recommended to White House staff that he eat at Macayo's?"
But there may be several good reasons why the White House -- and the Secret Service, who scoped the place out before the Obamas arrived -- went with Macayo's.
It's a short drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where the Obamas landed Saturday evening. The restaurant has a second-floor dining area, where the family ate, providing privacy and better security.
And the casual, family-friendly eatery, known for its faux Mayan temple facade, likely appealed to daughters Malia,11, and Sasha, 8, who along with First Lady Michelle Obama are accompanying the president on his trip to Arizona.
Obama ordered the Triple Combo Fajitas de Macayo, which includes beef, chicken and shrimp, a waitress told media outlets. He also had a margarita straight up.
Sampling the local Mexican fare has been a pastime of past presidents.
In the 1999, Bill Clinton rode out a monsoon noshing on tacos and chimichangas at Poncho's Mexican Food and Cantina in south Phoenix. The restaurant painted a mural of the former president at the table where he ate.
While president in 2004, George W. Bush ordered the enchiladas, rice and beans at Tee Pee Mexican Food on Indian School Road. The combo is now called the "presidential platter."
"Bush ate at TeePee; Obama ate at Macayo's. Bipartisan mediocrity? Where's the change I voted for? ;)" tweeted David_SB.
After touring the Grand Canyon, the Obamas will be returning to Phoenix this afternoon. Where would you recommend they eat?
-- Scott Wong
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!
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?
F* off 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.
Macayos serves the same stuff they serve at Denny's. Execpt the food has Mexican names instead of gringo names. Buts it's just as bland and tasteless as the stuff at Denny's.
Imagine that armed thugs watching the cooks as they make the Emperor's food!
Obamas pay surprise visit to Phoenix Macayo's
by By Karen Fernau and Randy Cordova -
Aug. 17, 2009 04:00 PM
The Arizona Republic
A half-hour before the private party of 10 arrived Saturday at Macayo's Mexican Kitchen on Central Avenue in Phoenix, the restaurant staff learned of its cut of the presidential stimulus program: The name of the party, "Christina," booked for 6:30 p.m. was fake. The real guests were Barack Obama and family.
Details: 4001 N. Central Ave. Phoenix, AZ. 85012. 602-264-6141.
Price: Under $20.
Secret Service agents posted themselves in the kitchen to make sure nobody tampered with the food. The two waitresses previously assigned to the private party were told of the presidential visit, and guests in the main dining room were not.
"It was quite a surprise, and exciting," manager Jennifer Villa said. "They entered the second-floor private dining room through a private entrance and were very nice, regular people."
As regular as anyone else arriving with an armed entourage, anyway.
Paul Pedersen didn't expect to spend Saturday night sitting in the same restaurant as Obama, but as the Phoenix training manager was driving with some friends to pick up some takeout food from Chipotle, he saw a very presidential-looking motorcade moving up Third Street. When the caravan stopped at Macayo's, Pedersen changed his plans.
"We figured if Macayo's is good enough for the president, it's good enough for us," he quipped.
Pedersen and his pals didn't actually see Obama, because the president and his family had a private room upstairs. But he said the restaurant was buzzing about being in such close proximity to the leader of the free world.
"Everyone in the restaurant was pretty stoked up," Pedersen said. "I joked to the waitress that I'll have whatever Barack is having."
Obama ordered the beef, chicken and shrimp fajita platter. His wife, Michelle, ordered fish tacos and the 65-year-old eatery's signature beef tamale. Both ordered margaritas. Daughters, Malia, 11, and Sasha, 8, ordered quesadillas. They ate a "normal" amount of chips and salsa, Villa said.
Since news of the Obamas' meal went public, Macayo's, opened in 1946 by high-school sweethearts Woody and Victoria Johnson, has been flooded with diners ordering what the first family ate and asking to sit at the same table where the family gathered to celebrate the birthday of Obama's half-sister.
So why did the Obamas - seasoned Mexican-food eaters and regulars at the internationally celebrated Mexican-food eatery of celebrity chef Rick Bayless in Chicago - pick Macayo's, a fine restaurant but one not known for gourmet flair?
Villa credits the storied history of the family-owned Mexican-food chain, top-notch food and snap service.
Howard Seftel, the Arizona Republic restaurant critic, believes the decision was driven more by politics than culinary preferences.
"It was brilliant politically," Seftel said. "It's a locally owned, middle-of-the-road Mexican-food restaurant that serves food that everybody is familiar with. It shows that he is not an elitist, but rather eats food that most people can identify with. Presidents come to Phoenix and eat Mexican food, not a $150 steak dinner."
Reed Johnson, director of operations for the Valley chain, said the restaurant was surprised by the presidential visit.
"Things got kind of strange when people showed up around 2:30 to check out the restaurant," Johnson said. "Then they shut down the road, so you kind of figured something big was going on."
The president proved to be a generous tipper, Johnson said, though he declined to name the amount. Shrewd move, as that should help guarantee a return visit. Still, he's not sure why the family initially chose the restaurant.
"I hope it's our good food and our name," he said. "Maybe it's part of the thing about being a family-owned institution in Phoenix and that we've been around for 63 years?"
The president signed a menu for the eatery, which Johnson will frame and put on display.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton rode out a monsoon eating tacos and chimichangas at Poncho's Mexican Food and Cantina in south Phoenix. To commemorate, the restaurant painted a mural of the former president at his table.
Not to be outdone, President George W. Bush dined in 2004 at east Phoenix's Tee Pee.The only glitch at Macayo's Saturday came just prior to serving the birthday cake. Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama's half-sister, was celebrating her 39th birthday.
"The birthday cake was really tall, and we needed to take a big knife upstairs so they could cut the cake," Villa said. "But the wait staff got nervous, for security reasons, about carrying a big knife up the stairs and into the room with the president and his family.
So the staff asked for and received prior approval from the presidential security detail."
"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.
White House Backs Right to Arms Outside Obama Events
But Some Fear Health Talks Will Spark Violence
By Alexi Mostrous
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Armed men seen mixing with protesters outside recent events held by President Obama acted within the law, the White House said Tuesday, attempting to allay fears of a security threat.
Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said people are entitled to carry weapons outside such events if local laws allow it. "There are laws that govern firearms that are done state or locally," he said. "Those laws don't change when the president comes to your state or locality."
Anti-gun campaigners disagreed with Gibbs's comments, voicing fears that volatile debates over health-care reform are more likely to turn violent if gun control is not enforced.
"What Gibbs said is wrong," said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "Individuals carrying loaded weapons at these events require constant attention from police and Secret Service officers. It's crazy to bring a gun to these events. It endangers everybody."
The past week has seen a spate of men carrying firearms while milling outside meetings Obama has held to defend his health-care reform effort. On Monday, a man with an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle strapped to his shoulder was outside a veterans' event in Phoenix. He was one of a dozen men who reportedly had guns outside the forum.
Phoenix police made no arrests, saying Arizona law allows weapons to be carried in the open.
Last week, a man with a gun strapped to his leg held a sign outside an Obama town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., that read: "It's time to water the tree of liberty."
Before the same meeting, Richard Terry Young, a New Hampshire resident, was arrested by the Secret Service for allegedly having a loaded, unlicensed gun in his car. Young was stopped inside the school where Obama held the forum, having reportedly sneaked past a security perimeter.
Ed Donovan, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said incidents of firearms being carried outside presidential events are a "relatively new phenomenon." But he said the president's safety is not being jeopardized.
"We're well aware of the subjects that are showing up at these events with firearms," he said. "We work closely with local law enforcement to make sure that their very strict laws on gun permits are administered. These people weren't ticketed for events and wouldn't have been allowed inside and weren't in a position outside to offer a threat." The immediate area occupied by Obama on such trips is considered a federal site where weapons are not permitted, Donovan said.
Lawmakers holding tense town hall debates about health-care reform also have seen armed constituents. The staff of some, including Rep. Stephen I. Cohen (D-Tenn.), have taken precautions to guard against guns being brought into gatherings.
"We asked everyone with firearms to check them with the sheriff before we began the meeting," said Marilyn Dillihay, Cohen's chief of staff, describing an Aug. 8 town hall debate in Memphis. "We've never done that before." The decision was made because the number of people at the event and the subject of the debate created a "potentially a volatile situation," she said.
"Obviously there's a lot of emotion with health care," Dillihay said. "Feelings are very tense, and we were just trying to make sure that things were safe."
One man at the meeting disclosed that he had a firearm and complied with a request to put it in his vehicle, she said.
Other lawmakers said they intended to take no precautions in future town hall meetings or to ask the advice of local law enforcement. C.J. Karamargin, a spokesman for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), said the congresswoman will "balance rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment and providing her constituents with a safe forum to share their views."
Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino, said concern about whether Obama will enact new gun restrictions may also be contributing to the tense political climate.
"There's a lot of anger out there," Levin said.
"A key thing that's been bubbling under the surface is what's going on with President Obama and guns," he said. "There is a real question mark not only for extremists but for gun rights advocates in the mainstream."
Staff writer Carrie Johnson contributed to this report.
D.C. delegate calls for ban on guns near Obama
By Jordy Yager
Posted: 08/19/09 05:51 PM [ET]
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) called on the Homeland Security Department and the U.S. Secret Service on Wednesday to provide tighter restrictions on citizens carrying weapons, openly or concealed, while in the vicinity of President Barack Obama.
Norton, who sits on the Homeland Security Committee, made the request after numerous news reports have shown groups of people brandishing firearms while outside of events held by Obama over the past several weeks.
“It is clear that if the Secret Service can temporarily clear all aircraft from air space when the president is in the vicinity, the agency has the authority to clear guns on the ground that are even closer to the President,” Norton said. [ Gee I guess she if right. If the Secret Service can unconstitutionally ban all air travel within 30 miles of the President, they should be able to also flush the 2nd Amendment down the toilet and ban all guns within 30 miles of the President!]
But the Secret Service says that Obama was never in danger when a group of about a dozen protesters brandished their firearms outside the Phoenix convention center earlier this week where he was speaking.
One man carried an AR-15 assault rifle, but Arizona law allows people to carry unconcealed guns and police made no arrests.
“This doesn’t change what already exists for Secret Service,” said Secret Service spokesman Malcolm Wiley of Norton’s request.
“Whenever the Secret Service travels somewhere in the country, we are able to determine what the security parameters will be for any particular site and anything within those parameters fall under federal law as far as being able to control what happens there.”
“So even if the state law says that you can have a gun as long as it’s not concealed, it doesn’t mean that you can bring a gun into a protected site.”
Norton has been battling with gun rights supporters for years because of the District’s former ban on handguns, which was struck down by the Supreme Court last year. More recently, a bill to grant the District a representational vote in Congress has stalled in the House because of an amendment that would make it easier to own a gun in D.C.
The Arizona event followed a similar instance in New Hampshire – which has open-carry laws – last week when police arrested a man for having a loaded, unlicensed gun in his car near where Obama was set to hold a healthcare-related forum. Another man outside of that event had a licensed handgun strapped to his leg and held a sign that read: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
“In both instances, those guys were outside of the outer-most perimeter of security, so what would apply is state law,” said Wiley. “They never had any proximity to the president at any time. They weren’t trying to gain access to the event and they weren’t in a position outside the event where they could have affected the president.”
But the Brady Campaign, a gun control group, said that these increasing instances of brandishing firearms in public could lead to escalated scenarios in the future that put the president at risk because it stretches law enforcement thin.
“Law enforcement has to keep an eye on these people,” said Paul Helmke, president of the group. “So the more people [who] carry guns, the more people you need to keep an eye on them, which stretches limited resources further. You get an event like in Phoenix with maybe 12 or 13 people, what if at the next event there are 100? [wouldn't that be nice! 100+ armed citizens at the next Obama event] And when you take the law enforcement resources away, that makes the president more vulnerable.”
Larry Pratt, executive director of the Gun Owners of America, a gun rights group in Virginia, said that this is nothing new nor is it different than law-abiding gun owners bringing their weapons into restaurants, as they have been known to do periodically in the Commonwealth.
“There have been a few calls to the police and the police have come to the point now where they ask one question: ‘What are these gun carriers doing?’ And they get the response that they’re eating and say, ‘Well, if they start doing something, let us know.’ So when somebody goes to a rally, obviously if the president is there it’s going to get more attention, but I don’t think we’re really dealing with anything different.”
Steve Benson the cartoonist at the Arizona Republic drew this anti-gun cartoon as a result of the Obama event in Phoenix where a number of protesters showed up with guns!
Steve Benson works for free at his second job as a reserve police officer for the city of Gilbert. I think Steve Benson is a hypocrite because he thinks it’s ok for him and his cop friends to have guns, while he wants to keep us serfs from having guns.
Steve Benson who is a public servant as a police officer is given a gun by his master – “The People” to protect “The People”. I find it wrong that the servant who has a gun, demands that guns be taken away from his master “The People”.
I thought it was really great when Chris showed up with a AR-15 rifle at the Obama event. The gun grabbers at the Arizona Republic are certainly angry about it. And look at Steve Benson's cartoon. Benson appears to hate gun owners. Well execpt for cops who own guns. And Steve Benson is a reserve cop for the city of Gilbert. I guess Steve Benson thinks that only government goons like himself should have guns.
August 20, 2009 |
Yankee Doodle zealots should keep guns at home
Aug. 20, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Arizona gets a visit from the president of the United States and, a day later, the national headlines are trained on 12 attention-starved exhibitionists showing off their rifles and revolvers.
If that weren't embarrassing enough, we got the full tricorn and twaddle of these wannabe Patrick Henrys. "We will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority," said one. And so, Arizona's profile grows in the national eye. Land of sunsets, saguaros, assault rifles and Yankee Doodle.
Within living memory, we've had one president assassinated, one seriously wounded and one who escaped two assassination attempts. No wonder Americans are agog that a dozen people in Arizona thought it wise to strap on revolvers and parade around a U.S. president.
Anyone who believes in responsible gun ownership should worry. These armed protesters shot themselves in the foot and the kneecap and the thigh and noggin.
Dave Kopel, a gun-rights expert at the Independence Institute in Colorado, told the Christian Science Monitor that protesters are "trying to make a statement about Second Amendment rights, but they're doing it in a way that probably sets back that cause."
Even to KFYI radio, stalwart defenders of the Second Amendment, it all went way beyond the pale. Talk host Mike Broomhead, to his good credit, put a blowtorch to these loons. "When you bring the rifle, nobody cares about anything else! Just the rifle!"
One of the gun-toting patriots at the president's speech aired his grievances on a YouTube video. Showing off his AR-15 rifle, he talked about "forcefully" resisting, and told an Obama supporter, "Just because you sic the government on people doesn't make it morally OK to steal money from people. Taxation is theft."
Give it a rest, pal. This is how civilized society works: If you don't like how much you pay in taxes, there's a way to change that. Go and do the hard work of electing candidates who will make your case.
But to strap on a rifle and spew your threats tells us two things about you. One, you're lazy. Two, you're a thug.
Gun toter at Obama rally says he didn't seek spotlight
by Robert Anglen and JJ Hensley -
Aug. 21, 2009 01:20 PM
The Arizona Republic
The man who brought an assault rifle to President Barack Obama's rally on Monday in a staged media event that drew national attention is a Phoenix resident with ties to several anti-government or nativist groups.
The man, who until now has only been identified as "Chris B." is actually 28-year-old Christopher Broughton, a former employee of a Tempe plastic mold manufacturer who says he wasn't seeking a personal spotlight by arming himself and strolling through crowds of Obama supporters.
"I want attention brought to the ideas that I espouse," Broughton told The Arizona Republic, which confirmed his identity through relatives and former coworkers on Friday. "I don't think the political process works any more. It is done . . . This government is the most corrupt Mafioso on the face of the earth." Broughton, who reluctantly conceded that he was the gun-toting Chris B., shares membership in the same right-wing group with William Kostric, the man who brought a handgun to an Obama rally in New Hampshire last week.
Broughton and Kostric are both listed as "team members" of the Arizona chapter of We the People Foundation, which calls for "resistance ... against unconstitutional or illegal behavior by government officials."
In New Hampshire, Kostric stood outside the Obama town hall meeting with a gun strapped to his thigh and holding a sign proclaiming, "It is time to water the tree of liberty."
Broughton called the timing and the circumstances of the armed protests coincidental. Broughton said the rifle, a loaded AR-15 that he brought to the Phoenix rally, is a symbol of resistance, the modern-day equivalent of a pitchfork that citizens once took up in opposition to oppressive political leaders.
"It's a simple as this. The people who support government, the ones who like government, they are using government like a weapon," he said. "The government continues to take over more and more things. The government takes and spends, takes and spends."
Broughton came to the protest at the request of Ernest Hancock, a well-known Arizona Libertarian and host of conservative talk radio show "Declare Your Independence with Ernest Hancock." Hancock also came to the rally armed. The two, who have been acquainted for years from their joint work on the presidential campaign of Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, engaged in a staged interview that was later broadcast on You Tube.
Broughton said he had no desire to become a public figure.
"I don't want to be Joe-the-Plumber. I don't want to be famous. I'm hoping my 15 minutes are over."
Looks like that war in Afghanistan ain't going too well for Emperor Barack Obama. Remindes me of good old Vietnam and Emperor Richard Nixon!
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.
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.
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."
Sadly a large number of elected officials have the low ethics that Sen. Edward Kennedy showed here. They will do ANYTHING to get elected and stay in power!
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 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.
Lets forget about the 8 years the other President wasted in Afghanistan because Obama is going to win the war! Yea sure! What rubbish! Obama is going to lose the war just like Bush did!
Gates: It's not time to leave Afghanistan
By LARA JAKES and PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writers Lara Jakes And Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press Writers
WASHINGTON – Facing eroding public support for the war in Afghanistan, the Pentagon chief said Thursday that the Obama administration's effort in the eight-year-old conflict is "only now beginning."
Defense Secretary Robert Gates also said he disagrees with people who say it's time to get out of Afghanistan.
Several recent public opinion polls have shown Americans expressing declining support for the idea of sending more troops to the conflict and falling confidence in how the campaign is going. But at a Pentagon news conference, Gates challenged the public perception that the effort is getting away from the administration.
"I don't believe that the war is slipping through the administration's fingers," Gates said. "The nation has been at war for eight years. The fact that Americans would be tired of having their sons and daughters at risk and in battle is not surprising."
Gates argued that President Barack Obama's new strategy in Afghanistan hasn't even been given a chance to work.
"I think what is important to remember is the president's decisions on this strategy were only made at the very end of March; our new commander appeared on the scene in June," Gates said, adding that the extra troops Obama ordered are not even all there yet, nor is the "civilian surge" he wants on hand to help.
"So we are only now beginning to be in a position to have the assets in place and the strategy or the military approach in place to begin to implement the strategy," he said.
The new U.S. and NATO commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, on Monday delivered a classified assessment of how the war is going and is expected in the coming weeks to ask for more troops and money to turn the war around.
Obama is reading the report during the long Labor Day weekend at Camp David, his aides said.
Neither Gates nor Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen responded to a question about what the still-classified report concludes. But they repeatedly dropped references to some of McChrystal's recommendations, with Mullen calling it a "frank and candid" look at how military forces can accomplish the Afghanistan mission.
Much of the debate around Afghanistan has centered on how many additional troops are needed there, and for how long. By the end of the year, an estimated 68,000 troops will be in Afghanistan — 21,000 of which were ordered there by Obama last spring. Military commanders and State Department officials on the ground, however, say many more are needed to get the job done.
Mullen said questions of how many more troops might be sent was just a piece of the needs that the Pentagon soon will ask Congress to fulfill. "It's a piece — critical, but it's not total," Mullen said.
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
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! Long Live the American Emperor!
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 email@example.com.
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 many other government nannies 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.
Clinton said it's how you define sex. I guess Obama is saying it is how you define a tax! If you ask me a BJ is sex just like the govenrment requiring you to buy health insuranse is a tax.
Obama: Health insurance mandate no tax increase
Posted 9/20/2009 4:30 PM ET
By Ben Feller, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says requiring people to get health insurance and fining them if they don't would not amount to a backhanded tax increase.
"I absolutely reject that notion," the president said. Blanketing most of the Sunday TV news shows, Obama defended his proposed health care overhaul, including a key point of the various health care bills on Capitol Hill: mandating that people get health insurance to share the cost burden fairly among all. Those who failed to get coverage would face financial penalties.
Obama said other elements of the plan would make insurance affordable for people, from a new comparison-shopping "exchange" to tax credits.
Telling people to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase, Obama told ABC's "This Week."
"What it's saying is, is that we're not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore," [Well if the Feds repealed the law requiring hospital ER rooms to treat people for free that would happen with out mandating health insuranse] said Obama. "Right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase." [laws that mandate auto insuranse as bad as laws that mandate health insuranse]
Obama faces an enormous political and communications challenge in selling his health care plan as Congress debates how to pay for it all.
He told CBS' "Face the Nation" that he will keep his pledge not to raise taxes on families earning up to $250,000, and that much of the final bill -- hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years -- can be achieved from savings within the current system. Coming up with the rest remains a key legislative obstacle.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said there is no way Obama can achieve his goals without raising taxes.
"He has to. How else do you pay for it?" he told CBS.
Obama put his support behind the idea of taxing employers that offer high-cost insurance plans.
"I do think that giving a disincentive to insurance companies to offer Cadillac plans that don't make people healthier is part of the way that we're going to bring down health care costs for everybody over the long term," Obama said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Obama's network interviews were taped Friday at the White House. He became the first president to appear on five Sunday network shows in the same morning, an extraordinary effort to build public support for his top domestic priority.
The goal is to expand and improve health insurance coverage and rein in long-term costs.
Yet despite so many weeks of speeches, town halls and interviews, Obama said he has found it difficult at times to make a complex topic clear and relevant.
"I've tried to keep it digestible," Obama said. "It's very hard for people to get their arms around it. And that's been a case where I have been humbled and I just keep on trying harder."
Obama told Univision's "Al Punto" ("To the Point") that the strong opposition to his plan is part of a political strategy.
"Well, part of it is ... that the opposition has made a decision," he said. "They are just not going to support anything, for political reasons."
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Obama doesn't understand Republicans' opposition.
"I don't know anybody in my Republican conference in the Senate who's in favor of doing nothing on health care," McConnell said. "We obviously have a cost problem and we have an access problem."
But he told CNN's "State of the Union" that the Democrats' plan is simply too rushed.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Obama has ignored grave concerns over his plan and his media blitz won't change that.
"The president is selling something that people, quite frankly, are not buying," Graham told NBC's "Meet the Press."
"He's been on everything but the Food Channel," he added.
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/
Obama is a big time socialist who wants to expand the failing American government school system.
American kids currently spend more time in school then Oriental kids, but American kids get worse grades then the same Oriental kids. That is not because American kids are stupid, it is probably is because American schools are lousy. Obama wants to American kids to spend even more time in the failing system, and throw more money into a system that doesn't work!. The solution is to get government out of the schools!
More school: Obama would curtail summer vacation
By LIBBY QUAID, AP Education Writer Libby Quaid, Ap Education Writer – 2 hrs 55 mins ago
WASHINGTON – Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama gets his way.
Obama says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe.
"Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas," the president said earlier this year. "Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom."
The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go.
"Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
Fifth-grader Nakany Camara is of two minds. She likes the four-week summer program at her school, Brookhaven Elementary School in Rockville, Md. Nakany enjoys seeing her friends there and thinks summer school helped boost her grades from two Cs to the honor roll.
But she doesn't want a longer school day. "I would walk straight out the door," she said.
Domonique Toombs felt the same way when she learned she would stay for an extra three hours each day in sixth grade at Boston's Clarence R. Edwards Middle School.
"I was like, `Wow, are you serious?'" she said. "That's three more hours I won't be able to chill with my friends after school."
Her school is part of a 3-year-old state initiative to add 300 hours of school time in nearly two dozen schools. Early results are positive. Even reluctant Domonique, who just started ninth grade, feels differently now. "I've learned a lot," she said.
Does Obama want every kid to do these things? School until dinnertime? Summer school? And what about the idea that kids today are overscheduled and need more time to play?
Obama and Duncan say kids in the United States need more school because kids in other nations have more school.
"Young people in other countries are going to school 25, 30 percent longer than our students here," Duncan told the AP. "I want to just level the playing field."
While it is true that kids in many other countries have more school days, it's not true they all spend more time in school.
Kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests — Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years (190 to 201 days) than does the U.S. (180 days).
Regardless, there is a strong case for adding time to the school day.
Researcher Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution looked at math scores in countries that added math instruction time. Scores rose significantly, especially in countries that added minutes to the day, rather than days to the year.
"Ten minutes sounds trivial to a school day, but don't forget, these math periods in the U.S. average 45 minutes," Loveless said. "Percentage-wise, that's a pretty healthy increase."
In the U.S., there are many examples of gains when time is added to the school day.
Charter schools are known for having longer school days or weeks or years. For example, kids in the KIPP network of 82 charter schools across the country go to school from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than three hours longer than the typical day. They go to school every other Saturday and for three weeks in the summer. KIPP eighth-grade classes exceed their school district averages on state tests.
In Massachusetts' expanded learning time initiative, early results indicate that kids in some schools do better on state tests than do kids at regular public schools. The extra time, which schools can add as hours or days, is for three things: core academics — kids struggling in English, for example, get an extra English class; more time for teachers; and enrichment time for kids.
Regular public schools are adding time, too, though it is optional and not usually part of the regular school day. Their calendar is pretty much set in stone. Most states set the minimum number of school days at 180 days, though a few require 175 to 179 days.
Several schools are going year-round by shortening summer vacation and lengthening other breaks.
Many schools are going beyond the traditional summer school model, in which schools give remedial help to kids who flunked or fell behind.
Summer is a crucial time for kids, especially poorer kids, because poverty is linked to problems that interfere with learning, such as hunger and less involvement by their parents.
That makes poor children almost totally dependent on their learning experience at school, said Karl Alexander, a sociology professor at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, home of the National Center for Summer Learning.
Disadvantaged kids, on the whole, make no progress in the summer, Alexander said. Some studies suggest they actually fall back. Wealthier kids have parents who read to them, have strong language skills and go to great lengths to give them learning opportunities such as computers, summer camp, vacations, music lessons, or playing on sports teams.
"If your parents are high school dropouts with low literacy levels and reading for pleasure is not hard-wired, it's hard to be a good role model for your children, even if you really want to be," Alexander said.
Extra time is not cheap. The Massachusetts program costs an extra $1,300 per student, or 12 percent to 15 percent more than regular per-student spending, said Jennifer Davis, a founder of the program. It received more than $17.5 million from the state Legislature last year.
The Montgomery County, Md., summer program, which includes Brookhaven, received $1.6 million in federal stimulus dollars to operate this year and next, but it runs for only 20 days.
Aside from improving academic performance, Education Secretary Duncan has a vision of schools as the heart of the community. Duncan, who was Chicago's schools chief, grew up studying alongside poor kids on the city's South Side as part of the tutoring program his mother still runs.
"Those hours from 3 o'clock to 7 o'clock are times of high anxiety for parents," Duncan said. "They want their children safe. Families are working one and two and three jobs now to make ends meet and to keep food on the table."
Associated Press writer Russell Contreras in Boston contributed to this report.
How do you spell pork! So the Federal government thinks it should be involved in the Olympics!
Obama to make in-person pitch for Olympics
Sept. 28, 2009 07:14 AM
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will travel to Denmark to support Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, projecting the highest-ever White House profile in lobbying for the international event.
Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, told The Associated Press Monday morning that Obama will leave Thursday and join his wife, Michelle, in Copenhagen, where they'll make the pitch to the International Olympic Committee. Obama would be the first U.S. president to actually appeal in person to the International Olympic Committee for an Olympics event.
The International Olympic Committee is meeting in Copenhagen to select a host city for the 2016 Summer Games. Chicago faces tough competition from Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo. The White House later formally announced the trip, saying that Obama and his wife "will both make presentations to the IOC during Friday's session. They will discuss why Chicago is best to host the 2016 Summer Games, and how the United States is eager to bring the world together to celebrate the ideals of the Olympic movement." The IOC is scheduled to decide the site on Friday.
While in Denmark, the statement said, Obama and his wife also will meet with Queen Margrethe and the president will meet with Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen of Denmark.
Obama, who represented Illinois in the U.S. Senate after serving in the Illinois Legislature, is a longtime supporter of Chicago's bid. Michelle Obama is a native of the city and he considers it his adopted home town. Obama recently sent letters to selected IOC members promising a "spectacular Olympic experience for one and all."
"President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama symbolize the hope, opportunity and inspiration that makes Chicago great, and we are honored to have two of our city's most accomplished residents leading our delegation in Copenhagen," Mayor Richard M. Daley said in a statement. "Who better to share with members of the International Olympic Committee the commitment and enthusiasm Chicago has for the Olympic and Paralympic Movement than the President and First Lady."
The president had held off on announcing a trip to Copenhagen, saying his first priority was the ongoing debate in Washington over health care reform. But aides said the president determined that his trip wouldn't take away from that process. The legislation is a signature piece of his domestic policy agenda and negotiations on Capitol Hill have been contentious.
But with heads of state representing Rio and Madrid already scheduled to attend the IOC meeting Friday, Chicago's bid organizers had hoped Obama would make an in-person appeal.
"I don't think there's an IOC member on the planet that wouldn't love to meet your president. He's a transformational figure in the world today," longtime IOC member Dick Pound said recently.
Obama is also mobilizing his administration on behalf of Chicago's bid. Senior adviser Jarrett, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, will also be joining the president and first lady in Copenhagen. All are from Illinois.
They join a Chicago contingent already packed with more star power than a Hollywood red carpet. The first lady is one of the few people who rivals her husband in visibility, and she'll be joined by talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who trails only Angelina Jolie on Forbes' annual Celebrity 100 list, a ranking of the rich and famous' most powerful.
Chicago is also bringing 14 Olympic and two Paralympic gold medalists, including Michael Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Nadia Comaneci and Nastia Liukin.
Doesn't the Secret Service have any real criminals to hunt down?
Secret Service probing Facebook poll on Obama
Sept. 28, 2009 12:10 PM
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Secret Service is investigating an online survey that asked whether people thought President Barack Obama should be assassinated, officials said Monday.
The poll, posted Saturday on Facebook, was taken off the popular social networking site quickly after company officials were alerted to its existence. But, like any threat against the president, Secret Service agents are taking no chances.
“We are aware of it and we will take the appropriate investigative steps,” said Darrin Blackford, a Secret Service spokesman. “We take of these things seriously.” The poll asked respondents “Should Obama be killed?” The choices: No, Maybe, Yes, and Yes if he cuts my health care.
The question was not created by Facebook, but by an independent person using an add-on application that has been suspended from the site.
“The third-party application that enabled an individual user to create the offensive poll was brought to our attention this morning,” said Barry Schnitt, Facebook's spokesman for policy.
Because the application was disabled, the responses to the nonscientific polls are not available.
“We're working with the U.S. Secret Service, but they'll need to provide any details of their investigation,” Schnitt said.
Is Obama the President of Chicago?
Who is paying for this? The American taxpayers or the city of Chicago?
Obama runs risk in his push for Chicago Games
by Peter Slevin - Sept. 29, 2009 12:00 AM
CHICAGO - In the final days of Chicago's quest to host the 2016 Olympics, President Barack Obama is making himself a central player in the race to bring the Summer Games to his adopted hometown, raising the political stakes for the White House with no assurance that the Windy City will win.
Obama announced Monday that he will fly to Denmark for a speaking part in Chicago's final presentation to the International Olympic Committee, ending what has been a concerted behind-the-scenes lobbying effort by the White House and Obama friends on behalf of their hometown. First lady Michelle Obama, born and raised on the city's South Side, will also address IOC members, who will make their decision Friday, choosing among Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.
Obama said in mid-September that health-care legislation probably would keep him too busy to make the trip, but he now plans to leave Washington on Thursday night for Copenhagen, returning Friday afternoon. "I think the president believes health care is in better shape," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "I believe he felt strongly and personally that he should go and make the case for the United States, and that's what he's going to do."
Obama appears to be taking a calculated risk. He is setting up the Olympic bidding process as a measure of his powers of diplomatic persuasion while simultaneously confronting issues such as health care, Afghan policy and Iran's nuclear ambitions - potentially raising questions anew about whether he is doing too much at once.
"You're darned if you do, you're darned if you don't. I'd rather be on the side of doing it," Michelle Obama told reporters, referring to her husband's Olympics decision. "One conversation or one example or illustration that connects could make a difference, and our view is we're not taking a chance."
The competing cities will each be represented in Copenhagen by a head of government, but Obama will be the first U.S. president to make such a per- sonal pitch.
Gibbs called the Chicago bid "far and away" the strongest of the contenders and said in response to potential criticism: "Surely it's within the purview of the president to root for America."
Loyalty to Chicago was central to Obama's choice. And the connection between the city's host committee and the White House could hardly be closer, with speechwriters, Cabinet officers and other administration figures working to capture an Olympics whose opening ceremony would take place three blocks from the Obamas' South Side house.
At last week's meetings at the United Nations and the Group of 20 economic summit in Pittsburgh, the Obamas made pitches to foreign leaders. They have also made personal appeals to IOC members, an effort that will intensify when Michelle Obama arrives in Copenhagen on Wednesday.
Valerie Jarrett, an adviser to the president who also was a deputy chairwoman of the Chicago host committee, is coordinating the White House effort and will accompany the first lady.
"It's like a caucus, where we're really looking at every single IOC member and what strategy we should implement to secure their votes," said Jarrett, who spent an hour last week with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, widely credited with swaying the last few votes when London edged out Paris in the contest to host the 2012 Games.
If the voting goes beyond one round and Chicago survives as expected, the second choices of some IOC members will come into play.
The Chicago proposal, which carries a city government guarantee against cost overruns, has been in the works for more than three years. Mayor Richard M. Daley, a Democrat, has acted as cheerleader in chief, arguing that the Olympics would boost the Windy City's image and spirits and bring in billions of dollars.
Despite an effort widely endorsed by the city's business and political luminaries, a recent Chicago Tribune/WGN poll suggested that residents are divided. Forty-seven percent favored the bid, and 45 percent opposed it.
Daley blamed economic anxiety and the media, saying Chicago residents would come around.
He contends that the Olympics would be a transforming moment for a city whose international profile has already risen because of Obama.
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."
Michelle Obama arrives for Olympics pitch
Sept. 30, 2009 07:18 AM
COPENHAGEN - Michelle Obama's welcoming party was more like a stopover. She chatted with the ambassador, kissed Chicago Mayor Richard Daley on the cheek and gave her old friends quick hugs hello before climbing into the waiting SUV.
With only two days until the 2016 games are awarded, there's no time to waste.
Mrs. Obama arrived here Wednesday morning to lend her support to Chicago's efforts to win the 2016 Summer Olympics. As head of Chicago's delegation - and her husband's representative until he arrives Friday - she plans to meet with as many IOC members as possible to try to persuade them to pick her hometown over Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo.
"That's the perspective I bring," Mrs. Obama said earlier this week, referring to her Chicago roots. "That's the voice that I'm most comfortable using. But in this case, it's probably helpful, particularly given the fact that so much of where the games are going to be held are sort of right in my backyard."
President Barack Obama has been an ardent supporter of the bid since he was a U.S. Senator, and he's been working the phones in recent weeks. But when it looked as if the health care debate might keep him in Washington, he asked his wife to come to Copenhagen to meet with IOC members.
"Our goal is this: we don't take a single vote for granted," said Valerie Jarrett, Obama's senior adviser and former vice chair of Chicago 2016. "We're going to work as hard as we have for the last three-plus years in the last couple of days."
Although IOC president Jacques Rogge has taken great pains to say heads of state aren't expected to attend, their presence has been instrumental in recent votes. Tony Blair is widely credited for tipping the 2012 vote in London's favor, spending two days doing one-on-one meetings with IOC members in his hotel suite.
Vladimir Putin did much the same thing two years later, when Sochi won the 2014 Olympics.
And there are few people better to sell Chicago's bid than Michelle Obama.
Funny, gracious and incredibly accomplished, she's one of the few people who can rival her husband's popularity. She also knows the neighborhoods where the games would be, having grown up on the South Side of Chicago. The Obamas' Chicago home is a short walk from the planned Olympic stadium.
"These are my neighborhoods," Mrs. Obama said.
Jarrett met with Blair last week to get advice on making the best use of these last few days. Because most IOC members are just beginning to arrive, Mrs. Obama flew in Wednesday morning - on a plane with a big U.S. flag on the tail and "United States of America" on its side.
The U.S. ambassador to Denmark, Laurie S. Fulton, was there to greet her, as were Daley and his wife, Maggie, Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Chicago 2016 president Lori Healey and Marty Nesbitt, one of the president's good friends. Kai Holm, president of the Danish Olympic Committee, also was there.
Mrs. Obama planned to meet with IOC members later Wednesday and Thursday, and also has a meeting scheduled with Rogge. She'll attend Chicago's welcome bash - along with Oprah Winfrey - and has lunch plans Thursday with the Danish queen.
On Friday, she and her husband will both be part of Chicago's final presentation to IOC members.
"We're not going to sing together or anything," Mrs. Obama said recently, drawing laughs. "I don't know if I can elaborate any more without giving away too much of it. ... All I have are my stories, my experiences as a Chicagoan, as an American, as someone who believes deeply that health and fitness have got to play a greater role in the lives of our kids and our communities, and as someone who believes that the
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.
Chicago doesn't get 2016 Olympics
COPENHAGEN – Chicago was eliminated in the first ballot of voting for the 2016 Olympics on Friday, a stunning defeat for the city that was expected to be one of the two finalists. Tokyo was also eliminated, leaving Rio de Janeiro and Madrid as the finalists.
Not even the presence of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama — nor a long list of celebrities — was enough to help the United States' third-largest city.
Chicago had seemed to pick up momentum in the last few days, with many International Olympic Committee members seemingly charmed by Mrs. Obama. But when IOC president Jacques Rogge announced the results of the first vote, Chicago's name was announced.
Olympic-sized loss of political face for Obama and Daley
posted by Rick Pearson
Chicago’s first-round knockout in the voting for the 2016 Olympic Games presents a serious loss of face to President Barack Obama and Mayor Richard Daley, who each staked personal as well as political capital on the city’s bid.
Obama, who had originally placed a priority on passage of healthcare reform over a trip to Copenhagen, was in the air returning to the United States from the International Olympic Committee voting site as his hometown was tossed out of consideration.
It was a worst-case scenario for the president, who was already facing criticism for getting involved in the effort even before the decision was made. Obama has found his public support slumping amid the controversial efforts to reform the health care system, the national recession and the war in Afghanistan. Nationally, Republicans had been using Obama’s choice to quickly fly to Copenhagen as an effort to help his “Chicago Fat Cat Friends.” The GOP pointed out that the September unemployment for the country had risen to 9.8 percent while the president was trying to bring jobs to Chicago “seven years from now.”
Daley, who had derided the Olympic selection process before throwing his weight behind a Chicago bid in 2005, was counting on a win to boost Chicago’s economy and reinvigorate his own standing. The quick loss represents an embarrassment of international and local dimensions for a mayor who has dominated the city landscape and is used to getting what he wants.
Princeton presidential scholar Fred Greenstein said for Obama, “the net result will be negative, but on the other hand, I don’t think this will be a body blow to his presidency.”
The loss would have been diminished if Chicago actually had made it to the final rounds of voting, he said.
“It doesn’t do him any good, I don’t think,” Greenstein said of Chicago’s first-round ouster. “He certainly made the effort. Even Obama has limits to his energy, including crossing the Atlantic to make the presentation.”
The defeat “means more in Chicago, than it does in the nation,” he noted. “I think it’s a fairly small issue compared with health and whether the economy bounces back and whether the administration does something plausible in Afghanistan.”
In today’s highly polarized political environment, Obama stands to be criticized for whatever he does, and an ongoing problem—slippage in his support from centrist voters—could be exacerbated by Chicago’s defeat, since Obama threw his personal and political prestige behind it, Greenstein said.
City Council's $3.7 million allowance:
How aldermen spent taxpayer moneyBy Hal Dardick, Ryan Mark, Joe Germuska and Brian Boyer | Tribune Staff
Aug. 15, 2009
Aldermen hired relatives, friends and campaign workers, leased automobiles and rented downtown parking spaces with money from their taxpayer-funded expense accounts, according to city databases and public records compiled by the Tribune.
The aldermen's expense allowance more than doubled in 2008 to $73,280 each from $33,280. Half of the city's 50 aldermen spent more than $70,000 of last year’s allowance. The municipal code of the City of Chicago defines appropriate uses for the allowance but allows broad discretion by the City Council members. Oversight is minimal. Aldermen are merely told to ensure that their spending is legal.
Aldermen spent $132,788 on automobile leases, $28,186 on downtown parking spots and $11,277 on bottled water. The city last year allocated up to $3.7 million for expenses; aldermen spent $3.1 million.
It is interesting to see how out of touch with the public the Chicago city council members are. They voted 49 to zero to try to host the Olympics. But polls show that the public is split on wanting to host the Olympics in Chicago. 50% of the people want to host them and 50% of the people are against hosting the Olympics!
Chicago aldermen, lawmakers 'stunned' by city's quick Olympics loss
Posted by Hal Dardick and Katherine Skiba
Chicago aldermen, who voted 49-0 last month in a show of support for the Olympic bid, said they're "stunned" by today's swift elimination of the city from the competition to host the 2016 Summer Games.
Ald. Robert Fioretti, 2nd, whose ward would have included many Olympic facilities, said he was shocked by the decision.
“It’s geo-political forces that were beyond our control,” he said, citing a perception that U.S. actions triggered the worldwide recession. “We had a good bid, a solid bid,” he added. “It was one that we should all be proud of. It would have propelled us beyond any other city in the United States.”
Word spread quickly in Washington. “It’s disappointing,” said one Capitol Hill aide. “We’re all watching the coverage. Sen. Durbin was fully behind the bid, and it’s disappointing.”
Durbin, the assistant Senate majority leader, was on board Air Force One with President Obama when the news came.
The senator had predicted large sums of federal money would flow to Illinois if Chicago captured the Games.
“We feel that this is going to bring about investments in infrastructure, mass transit, highways and housing that will create jobs, spark the economy of Illinois and leave a solid legacy to build on,” he said Thursday before departing for Denmark.
Freshman U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Chicago, chose to look on the bright side.
"Chicago was a world-class city before today’s decision, and Chicago will be a world-class city tomorrow. Although disappointment hangs in the air, this is not the time for regret, but rather to see opportunity in the incredible work that was done across Chicago over the past months," Quigley said in a statement.
Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, 4th, whose ward would have housed the Olympic Village, said she was “stunned” that Chicago was eliminated in the first round.
“I have no idea” why it turned out that way, she said, adding that it likely had to do with “the dynamics of the international Olympic community.”
But she said development of the Michael Reese Hospital site, which the city bought, would proceed anyway.
“We’re going to develop the site, and I think it’s a great location for a new community in Chicago, even without the Olympics,” Preckwinkle said. “It would have been easier if we had the Olympics. We would have had more resources.”
She added: “It’s a beautiful spot on the lakefront. I don’t think it will be hard to pitch to a developer.”
Asked if the bid loss hurt Daley politically, she said: “Every effort was made to secure the bid. It’s not as if we didn’t put our best foot forward and do everything we could to prepare for the bid.”
Ald. Joe Moore, 49th, was at a crowded Daley Center Plaza hoping for a victory celebration, said there was a great sense of disbelief among the hundreds of people assembled there.
“It sounds cliché to say this, but it’s true: It was complete and utter shock,” Moore said. “I don’t think anyone expected us to be eliminated in the first round. Nobody. So people could not believe what they were hearing.”
He compared the predictions that Chicago and Rio de Janeiro were in the lead to predictions made about election contests.
“I guess the lesson is that conventional wisdom is wrong more often than it’s right,” he said. “That’s certainly true in politics. It is true here. Nobody though we were going to be eliminated in round one.”
Like Fioretti, Moore speculated that the IOC’s decision had more to do with international perceptions than the bid itself.
“I think it has more to do with geo-politics than local politics,” he said. “I’m just speculating, but New York got hammered four years ago, and today we go our head handed two us.”
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.
Look I am against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 100 percent. But if we are going to have armys and generals they should be allowed to tell the public about how they feel about the White Houses plan to fight the war!
White House furious at Gen. McChrystal for publicly objecting to new strategy
October 5, 2009 | 8:36 am
It started in London last week, when Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who heads U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, told an audience at the Institute of International and Strategic Studies that he does not support a new military strategy being floated privately by Vice President Joe Biden.
The idea, under review at the White House, is to withdraw troops from Afghanistan towns and refocus them on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where Al Qaeda forces are headquartered. The alternative strategy also envisions using more drone missile strikes and special forces ops against the terrorist network.
During his remarks in London, McChrystal predicted that such a plan was "short-sighted," that it would produce "Chaos-istan" and that he would not support it.
Now, London's Telegraph is reporting that White House advisers were "shocked and angered" by the bluntness of McChrystal's remarks and noting that the very next day President Obama summoned the general for a 25-minute, one-on-one meeting aboard Air Force One as it sat on the runway in Copenhagen after the president's unsuccessful bid to win the 2016 Olympics for Chicago.
Asked if the president had told the general to tone down his remarks, National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones told CBS on Sunday: "I wasn't there so I can't answer that question. But it was an opportunity for them to get to know each other a little bit better. I am sure they exchanged direct views."
In fact, in a series of Sunday talk show appearances, Jones, a retired Marine general and former Allied commander in Europe, carried the administration's message that the military -- perhaps conditioned by the Bush administration to expect its opinions to reign -- had better respect civilian command.
"Ideally, it's better for military advice to come up through the chain of command," Jones told CNN. "I think that Gen. McChrystal and the others in the chain of command will present the president with not just one option, which does, in fact, tend to have a ... enforcing function, but a range of options that the president can consider."
I think in military lingo they call that a dressing down.
-- Johanna Neuman
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.
October 06, 2009
The forgotten promise of more open government
Oct. 6, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Barack Obama campaigned for president on a platform that called for greater transparency and accountability in government. Since taking the oath of office, he has taken strides in this area, as well as a few steps backward.
But a big disappointment came last week, when he sought to gut a bill that would help hold government accountable.
It's the Free Flow of Information Act, which would help protect reporters' confidential sources. The bill, which overwhelmingly passed the House and now is in the Senate Judiciary Committee, came in reaction to a rash of subpoenas from government and private attorneys seeking to force journalists to reveal the sources of their information. The danger isn't that reporters can end up in jail, but that whistle-blowers will go quiet if their identities can easily be revealed. The public would be denied information about abuses within government. The corrupt would get away with it.
As a senator, Obama co-sponsored this bill. He spoke in favor of it on the campaign trail.
That ended last week. According to the New York Times, the president proposed revisions that would make the bill meaningless.
As written, the bill requires private attorneys and prosecutors to exhaust other methods to identify a source before subpoenaing a reporter. It instructs judges to balance investigators' needs against the public interest in a free flow of information.
Obama objected to this balancing act when national-security leaks are involved. His revisions would require judges to accept without question any claim that "significant" national-security harm will occur unless a source is identified, the Times said. This puts him in the same camp as Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.
It's a position that ignores history. From the Pentagon Papers forward, administrations have hidden behind "national security" to squelch embarrassing disclosures.
Meaningful judicial review would separate those covering their backsides from true patriots. The government will not lose a case when national security truly is at issue. But if judges' hands are tied, the public will lose the ability to hold accountable those who abuse power.
The president should back down. His instincts as a senator were right. The Free Flow of Information Act, with legitimate judicial review, serves openness and the public interest.
Lets keep what goes on in government secret!
Gates Says Military Recommendations to President Should Be Kept Private
By Al Pessin
05 October 2009
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the current review of U.S. and NATO strategy in Afghanistan should remain private, and that the military will do whatever the president orders. But in a speech in Washington Monday, he also repeated his opposition to an approach advocated by some officials that would rely more on air power.
Secretary Gates told a U.S. Army convention that Afghanistan has been on a "worrisome trajectory" with violence up 60 percent compared to last year. He said U.S. troops fighting terrorism around the world are facing "increasingly battle-hardened and lethal enemies."
The secretary told the gathering that the decisions President Barack Obama will make in the coming weeks "will be among the most important of his presidency," and he needs to take the time to get the decisions right.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday the president is not considering a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. The addition of 21,000 troops President Obama approved earlier this year, and more aggressive operations against the Taliban and related groups, resulted in a sharp rise in U.S. casualties in recent months, including 16 killed in the first few days of October. That's the same number killed in all of October last year.
Senior commanders have recommended continuing the counterinsurgency approach, focusing on ground operations and requiring a further increase of U.S. troops. But Secretary Gates says whatever the president decides, the military will comply.
"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. And, 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 said.
The secretary has joined military commanders in criticizing proposals to make more use of air strikes to target terrorist leaders in Afghanistan, and to limit ground operations in order to reduce casualties and avoid the need to send more troops. A month ago, Gates said one such proposal was not in accord with reality.
He did not discuss specific options on Monday, but speaking about plans to further modernize U.S. Army capabilities, he said this:
"We must always recognize the limits of technology - and be modest about what military force alone can accomplish. Advances in precision, sensor information, and satellite technologies have led to extraordinary gains that will continue to give the U.S. military an edge over its adversaries. But no one should ever neglect the psychological, cultural, political, and human dimensions of war or succumb to the techno-optimism that has muddled strategic thinking in the past," Gates said.
Secretary Gates will join President Obama and other senior civilian and military leaders at two lengthy White House meetings this week to continue discussing the way forward in Afghanistan. Officials say there will be at least two more meetings after that, and they expect the president to decide how to proceed within a few weeks.
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
H. L. Mencken
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.
Hmmm... Obama is all for mixing religion and government!
Court hears arguments about cross on park land
Posted 10/7/2009 11:44 AM ET
By Mark Sherman, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is taking up a long-running legal fight over a cross honoring World War I soldiers that has stood for 75 years on public land in a remote part of California. The cross, on an outcrop known as Sunrise Rock in the Mojave National Preserve, has been covered in plywood for the past several years following federal court rulings that it violates the First Amendment prohibition against government endorsement of religion.
The justices were to hear arguments Wednesday in a case the court could use to make an important statement about its view of the separation of church and state. The Obama administration is defending the presence of the cross, which court papers describe as being 5 feet to 8 feet tall.
A former National Park Service employee, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued to have the cross removed or covered after the agency refused to allow erection of a Buddhist memorial nearby. Frank Buono describes himself as a practicing Catholic who has no objection to religious symbols, but he took issue with the government's decision to allow the display of only the Christian symbol.
Easter Sunrise services have been held at the site for decades.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has repeatedly ruled in Buono's favor. Congress has intervened on behalf of the cross, prohibiting the Park Service from spending money to remove the cross, designating it a national memorial and ultimately transferring the land to private ownership.
The appeals court invalidated the 2004 land transfer, saying that "carving out a tiny parcel of property in the midst of this vast preserve -- like a doughnut hole with the cross atop it -- will do nothing to minimize the impermissible governmental endorsement" of the religious symbol.
Veterans groups are on both sides of the case, with some worrying that other religious symbols that serve as war memorials could be threatened by a ruling in Buono's favor. Jewish and Muslim veterans, by contrast, object that the Mojave cross honors Christian veterans and excludes others.
The administration wants the court to rule that Buono had no right to file his lawsuit because, as a Christian, he suffers no harm from the cross. His main complaint is that others may feel excluded, the government says.
Alternatively, the administration says the land transfer took care of any First Amendment problem.
The case is Salazar v. Buono, 08-472.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
[ I love FOX because they point out all of Obama's flaws! But sadly FOX also makes up a lot of lies about Obama, which makes them look like jerks. If FOX stuck with telling the dirty truth they would be much more credibale.
Of course I don't like Bush or McCain any better then I like Obama. They are all jerks!]
Obama aide accuses Fox of operating as GOP arm
NEW YORK — One of President Barack Obama's top aides says Fox News Channel acts like a wing of the Republican Party.
White House Communications Director Anita Dunn told CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday that Fox News operates "almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party."
It's another sign of the White House's aggressively going after Fox.
Commentators Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity have been strong Obama critics, and Bill O'Reilly has taken tough looks at the administration. The president avoided Fox when he visited five Sunday morning news shows last month, and a recent White House blog post accused Beck of lying.
Fox News executive Michael Clemente (cleh-MEN'-tay) says most viewers know the difference between news and opinion shows. He says attacking the messenger doesn't work.
Obama is singing Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran to the tune of that Beach Boy's song!
Hmmm .... Didn't Obama just get a Nobel Peace Prize?
The Obama administration's plans to bring the bomb on line more quickly indicate that the weapon is still part of the long-range backup plan. [No it wasn't McCain singing Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran to the tune of the Beach Boys song Barbara Ann, it was Obama!]
That is in addition to Obama's two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan!
US wants huge bomb, denies Iran is reason
Oct. 13, 2009 07:41 AM
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is speeding up delivery of a colossal bomb designed to destroy hidden weapons bunkers buried underground and shielded by 10,000 pounds of reinforced concrete.
Call it Plan B for dealing with Iran, which recently revealed a long-suspected nuclear site deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom.
The 15-ton behemoth - called the "massive ordnance penetrator," or MOP - will be the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal and will carry 5,300 pounds of explosives. The bomb is about 10 times more powerful than the weapon it is designed to replace. The Pentagon has awarded a nearly $52 million contract to speed up placement of the bomb aboard the B-2 Stealth bomber, and officials say the bomb could be fielded as soon as next summer.
Pentagon officials acknowledge that the new bomb is intended to blow up fortified sites like those used by Iran and North Korea for their nuclear programs, but they deny there is a specific target in mind.
"I don't think anybody can divine potential targets," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said. "This is just a capability that we think is necessary given the world we live in."
The Obama administration has struggled to counter suspicions lingering from George W. Bush's presidency that the United States is either planning to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities itself or would look the other way if Israel did the same.
The administration has been careful not to take military action off the table even as it reaches out to Iran with historic talks this month. Tougher sanctions are the immediate backup if diplomacy fails to stop what the West fears is a drive for a nuclear weapon.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently said a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities would probably only buy time. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen has called a strike an option he doesn't want to use.
The new U.S. bomb would be the culmination of planning begun in the Bush years. The Obama administration's plans to bring the bomb on line more quickly indicate that the weapon is still part of the long-range backup plan.
"Without going into any intelligence, there are countries that have used technology to go further underground and to take those facilities and make them hardened," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. "This is not a new phenomenon, but it is a growing one."
After testing began in 2007, development of the bomb was slowed by about two years because of budgetary issues, Whitman said, and the administration moved last summer to return to the previous schedule.
North Korea, led by Kim Jong Il, is a known nuclear weapons state and has exploded working devices underground. The United States and other countries have offered to buy out the country's weapons program. The Obama administration is trying to lure Pyongyang back to the bargaining table after a walkout last year.
Iran is a more complex case, for both diplomatic and technical reasons. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, claims its nuclear program is peaceful and meant only to produce energy, but the West suspects a covert bomb program that may be only a year or so away from fruition.
"I don't really see it as a near-term indication of anything being planned. I think certainly down the road it has a certain deterrent factor," said Kenneth Katzman, a specialist on Iran and the Middle East at the Congressional Research Service. "It adds to the calculus, let's say, of Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il."
Details about Iran's once-secret program have come out slowly and often under duress, as with last month's surprise confirmation of the hidden underground development site near Qom.
That revelation came a month after the Pentagon had asked Congress to shift money to speed up the MOP program, although U.S. and other intelligence agencies had suspected for years that Iran was still hiding at least one nuclear development site.
The MOP could, in theory, take out bunkers such as those Saddam Hussein had begun to construct for weapons programs in Iraq, or flatten the kind of cave and tunnel networks that allowed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to escape U.S. assault in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, shortly after the U.S. invasion in 2001.
The precision-guided bomb is designed to drill through earth and almost any underground encasement to reach weapons depots, labs or hideouts.
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 Obama tactic. Give money in exchange for votes! You can count on the seniors who get $250 payments to votes for 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.
Looks like Obama made wrong choice!
It's not "loneliness", its POWER! As Bush said "I'm the decider!"
And of course Obama is the "Emperor" also!
Obama faces loneliness of power on Afghanistan
by Stephen Collinson Stephen Collinson – Sun Oct 18, 1:57 pm ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) – It comes to every US president -- and now looms relentlessly for Barack Obama: the moment when he must shoulder the lonely duty of his office and take a fateful decision on national security.
After weeks of in-depth meetings and drawing counsel from top advisors, Obama will eventually have to make up his mind on whether to send thousands more troops into the cauldron of Afghanistan.
"It's really coming down to him," said Julian Zelizer of Princeton University, author of a forthcoming book on US foreign policy.
"This is a lesson that presidents always learn when dealing with military affairs."
Obama has launched an exhaustive and collective review of Afghan policy within his national security council.
But the constitutional authority vested in the president means the buck stops sooner or later with the commander-in-chief.
"It is not a collective decision. Abraham Lincoln said there was only one vote that counted in his cabinet," said David Rothkopf, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International peace.
"There is only one vote that counts at the national security council," added Rothkopf, author of a history of the president's top foreign policy body.
Signs are mounting that Obama may be nearing a critical point in his deliberations. He said last week he would complete the process in "the coming weeks."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN: "We've done a thorough job of analysis, and now we're moving into the decision phase."
Obama's stakes may match or even exceed those faced by other recent presidents, like Lyndon Johnson who agonized over the Vietnam War, or Bill Clinton who worried whether to intervene in Bosnia.
Soaring expectations at home and abroad may be on the line in a decision many observers feel could drain the reforming momentum from Obama's presidency should it go wrong.
Obama's own audacity, in refusing to temper high hopes and raising the stakes by likening himself to political greats like ex-president Lincoln and even his recent Nobel Prize may also stoke the pressure.
Not to mention the burden of the lives of any of more than 60,000 US troops at war, the tens of thousands who may follow, and unknown numbers of Afghans.
Pressure is building as Pakistan's insurgency worsens and US public support dims for the increasingly bloody fight in Afghanistan.
Critics accuse Obama of undue delay -- but the long wait may reflect the fact the president has few palatable options in the eight-year war.
Obama has conducted five extended briefings with top military, political, diplomatic and intelligence aides and has another this week.
Official photos from the secure White House Situation Room reveal intense sessions, with Obama in deep conversation with national security aides.
"I think the president has been extremely skillful in probing and asking all the hard questions," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN.
Broadly, Obama, who has already ruled out withdrawing troops, has three options -- unless he can conjure another that few analysts have considered.
He can go all-out with an Afghan counter-insurgency strategy advocated by war commander General Stanley McChrystal, which requires at least 40,000 more troops.
An approach pushed by Vice President Joe Biden would see more targeted tactics, focusing on destroying Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and especially Pakistan, but eschewing a full-scale counter-insurgency.
A middle path, attractive to top Democrats in Congress, might see thousands of troops being deployed only to train the Afghan army.
Obama backers view his thorough analysis of US options in Afghanistan as a break from the gut-level decision-making of the Bush administration.
That NSC allowed power players like vice president Dick Cheney and secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld to freelance, with disastrous results in Iraq.
The Obama NSC has reined in the president's vaunted "team of rivals" cabinet of heavyweights, despite their healthy egos and political powerbases.
It also reveals Obama's own disciplined, "no drama" self-image as a leader, who probes every angle of a problem.
But is there a point when deliberation becomes procrastination?
"There is a certain time period when it looks like a president is being deliberative and thoughtful," said Zelizer.
"After that time period, it looks like a president who can't make tough decisions, either way -- the kind of Jimmy Carter syndrome."
Rothkopf added: "deliberations can go on too long -- I don't think they have yet."
Obama blames Afghanistan war loss on the puppet government
Looks like Obama is going to blame the falure of the Afghanistan war on the puppet government we installed.
Hey Obama its YOUR puppet government! Blame the failure on YOURSELF!
Hey who cares if it is a big lie. If it causes us to leave the stupid war that will be create!
White House casts doubt on Afghan reliability
by Robert Burns - Oct. 18, 2009 10:51 AM
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will not commit more U.S. troops to Afghanistan until he is convinced that the central government can be a credible and effective U.S. partner, a senior White House aide said Sunday.
But it was unclear whether Obama intends to accept the recommendation by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, for thousands more American troops and other resources in the 8-year-struggle to stabilize Afghanistan.
The central question before Obama, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said, is "not how much troops you have, but whether in fact there's an Afghan partner."
The issue of developing an effective Afghan central government has dogged the U.S. mission virtually from the war's start after the attacks against the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. It gained new urgency after an Aug. 20 presidential election marred by charges of ballot-stuffing and voter coercion.
An election fraud investigation could lead to a runoff election between President Hamid Karzai and his top challenger, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.
A second round of balloting would have to be held before winter, which traditionally begins in mid-November. Once heavy snows block mountain passes, thereby limiting voter access to polling places, a runoff would have to wait until spring, leaving the country in political limbo for months as the Taliban gains strength.
Adding to the uncertainty is the prospect of Karzai's not accepting an outcome requiring a runoff.
"For the moment we are worried ... because it seems that not everybody is ready to accept the results," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters Sunday in Kabul, the Afghan capital. "They must accept the results."
The weakness of the Afghan government has undermined the U.S. and NATO military mission in several respects. It has created disillusionment among ordinary Afghans who then turn to the Taliban militants for security and other services. That has been an important factor in the Taliban's resurgence over the past four years.
In Sunday talk show interviews, Emanuel did not answer directly when asked whether Obama would wait for a final election outcome before deciding U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan. He repeatedly underlined doubts about the Kabul government as a reliable partner for the U.S.
"There's not a security force, an army, the type of services that are important for the Afghans to become true partners," Emanuel said. "It would be reckless to make a decision on U.S. troop level if, in fact, you haven't done a thorough analysis of whether, in fact, there's an Afghan partner ready to fill that space that the U.S. troops would create and become a true partner in governing."
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, who visited Kabul over the weekend, said Obama should wait until the election cloud has lifted.
"I don't see how President Obama can make a decision about the committing of our additional forces or even the further fulfillment of our mission that's here today without an adequate government in place or knowledge about what that government's going to be," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
Critics, including some Republicans in Congress, have blasted Obama for undertaking a lengthy review.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Obama may be emboldening U.S. enemies.
"At some point, deliberation begins to look more like indecisiveness, which then becomes a way of emboldening our enemies," Cornyn said, "and causing our allies to question our resolve."
Emanuel provided no timeline for Obama to finish his Afghan review, which began in September. He said additional strategy sessions with the president's senior national security aides would be held over the next two weeks.
A leading figure in that review, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, headed to Asia and Europe on Sunday for talks that are expected to include a plea for NATO partners and Asian allies to continue contributing to the Afghan effort.
Kerry said a successful U.S. and NATO mission depends as much on the effectiveness of the Afghan government and the sufficiency of international civilian support as it does on the size of the U.S. military presence.
"It would be very hard, I think, for the president to make a commitment to X' number of troops, whatever it might be, or to a new strategy, without knowing that all of the components of the strategy are indeed capable of being achieved," Kerry said, adding that the political and civilian components must be assured.
"And I'm not yet convinced that we're there," he said.
On the specifics of U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, Kerry said he is convinced that narrowing the mission to a hunt for al-Qaida and other terrorists would be wrong. The counterterrorism effort must be part of a larger military mission that targets Taliban and other insurgent groups with conventional ground forces, he said.
Kerry and Emanuel were on CNN's "State of the Union" and CBS' "Face the Nation." Cornyn appeared on CBS.
Wow! Obama is trying to get the Vietnam GIs to vote for him in 2012
Unit honored for heroism in Vietnam
'Scary' rescue mission in 1970 long overlooked
by Barbara Barrett - Oct. 21, 2009 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Pfc. Paul Evans was rocking and rolling on his M-16 on a long-ago afternoon in Vietnam, spraying fire toward an unseen enemy hidden deep within the jungle. He was a terrified 18-year-old who knew, as other men fell around him, that he was about to die.
Then out of nowhere, American tanks thundered out of the jungle, Evans later recalled. Alpha Troop had arrived.
The men of Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry, rushed in to rescue Evans and the rest of his infantry company, which had been pinned down for most of the day after wandering into a cluster of North Vietnamese bunkers. For two hours, Alpha's tanks suppressed fire enough to weaken the enemy. Then, as night fell and the Americans feared being surrounded in the dark, everyone fled through the blackening foliage.
Many of the soldiers tucked away their memories for years, only now describing the day's horror.
Kenny Euge of Belleville, Ill., drove one of the tanks that barreled through the jungle to Charlie Company's aid, closest to the enemy. He recalled a rocket-propelled grenade flying just over his head, like a flaming basketball.
"It was all scary. It was all scary," Euge recalled this week, his voice breaking as he spoke. "Even the drive back was scary. It didn't get unscary until you got back."
However, the Army overlooked the clash that became known as the Anonymous Battle. When one man ended his tour and was asked about any major battles he'd been in, he looked to the soldier who was processing his paperwork. The processor shook his head. There'd been no battles that day.
The veterans - and now everyone else - know differently.
On Tuesday morning, President Barack Obama gave about 100 veterans of Alpha Troop the Presidential Unit Citation, the highest award for valor that a military unit can receive.
Nearly 40 years after the battle, men with graying mustaches, growing paunches and weakening eyes were honored for that day of hell in March 1970.
Old soldiers in dark suits or dress uniforms - some wearing old medals pinned to their chests, some lean and ramrod straight, others leaning on canes - listened in the White House Rose Garden as birds chirped under a bright sky and the commander in chief praised their valor.
"Some may wonder: After all these years, why honor this heroism now?" Obama said in his remarks to the soldiers. "The answer is simple. Because we must. Because we have a sacred obligation."
Forty years ago, little felt sacred to Alpha Troop. The night before the battle, the tank company had lost several of its members when a mortar round accidentally exploded in one of its vehicles. The men were exhausted after removing charred bodies from the scene of the blast.
"That morning, after I got up, there were chunks of flesh on my tank," Euge recalled. "How I rationalized that was 'chunks of barbecue.' ... At the battle, I rationalized, 'It's just a movie. Pretend you're making a movie.' "
A few miles off, they could hear gunfire. They learned that Charlie Company, a group of infantry troops from the 1st Cavalry Division caught along the border with Cambodia, was in trouble. It could be wiped out within hours.
Alpha Troop's commander, John Poindexter, volunteered his men to go fetch the grunts.
"Let's go," he told them.
"It's a story of resolve," Obama said. "For Alpha Troop could have simply evacuated their comrades and left that enemy bunker for another day - to ambush another American unit. But as their captain said, 'That's not what the 11th Cavalry does.' "
Obama again blames the war loss on the puppet government the American Empire installed in Afghanistan instead of himself and Bush!
U.S. relieved by - but leery of - Afghan runoff
Karzai agrees to new vote, but problems may persist
by Anne Gearan - Oct. 21, 2009 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - No matter who wins the November election runoff that Afghan President Hamid Karzai agreed to during pressured consultations with American leaders, the United States is wedded to a shaky government in which corruption has become second nature.
President Barack Obama's relief at the agreement that could quiet the political crisis over Afghanistan's spoiled election masks his predicament as he weighs an expansion of the unpopular war in Afghanistan.
The administration says its ambitious plans for Afghanistan rely on a "credible partner" in Kabul. But there is no guarantee that the hastily arranged voting will confer the legitimacy the fraudulent Aug. 20 election lacked. "This has been a very difficult time in Afghanistan to not only carry out an election under difficult circumstances, where there were a whole host of security issues that had to be resolved, but also postelection a lot of uncertainty," Obama said Tuesday.
Obama pointed to the Nov. 7 runoff as "a path forward in order to complete this election process." He said nothing about his deliberations over what could be a huge surge of U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan, a calculation badly thrown off by the botched August voting.
For the U.S., a runoff emerged as perhaps the least bad option to restore momentum and the important perception that Afghans themselves are invested in their government and its success.
But another election risks the same fraud that derailed the Aug. 20 vote, and the same risk of inciting violence and increasing ethnic divisions.
"Another election where there's no credible government to operate with continues to undermine our reason for being there," said Richard "Ozzie" Nelson, a former White House counterterrorism expert now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It would push us further down the slippery slope of what to do next."
If there are any more delays, the vote could also be hampered by winter snows that block off much of the north of the country starting mid-November.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a warning to Afghan election officials.
"We will advise the Independent Election Commission not to re-recruit those officials who might have been involved in fraudulent electoral processes," Ban said.
Having pushed for a do-over, U.S. officials have even less ability to scold the winner. That winner is likely to be incumbent Karzai, who conceded Tuesday, under heavy international pressure, that a runoff is "legitimate, legal and according to the constitution of Afghanistan."
The Afghan leader did not express any regret over fraud that led U.N.-backed auditors to strip him of nearly a third of his votes.
"This is not the right time to discuss investigations, this is the time to move forward toward stability and national unity," Karzai said at an awkward joint appearance with U.S. and U.N. go-betweens.
The Obama administration has kept an obvious distance from Karzai, a silver-tongued charmer whom the George W. Bush administration had considered a successful protege despite mounting claims of incompetence and corruption.
The U.S. was represented most visibly Tuesday not by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or even the U.S. ambassador in Kabul, but by a visiting senior senator.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., leaned hard on Karzai over several days to concede that he did not win in the first round. The two men took a long, dramatic walk Tuesday before an uncharacteristically grim Karzai stepped up to the microphones.
Although Karzai was favored to win all along, Obama's advisers thought they could forge a workable partnership that would be the building block for a new war strategy emphasizing the security and welfare of ordinary Afghans.
The strategy, which military officials quickly assumed would mean an infusion of thousands of additional U.S. troops and a larger expansion of Afghanistan's own armed forces, frayed when the expensive, carefully monitored election went bad.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama has not decided whether to move ahead with a revamped strategy and the prospect of more troops before results of the runoff are known.
The Taliban will surely try to disrupt the voting again, and turnout is expected to be low in areas where voters were intimidated.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States and NATO-led partners can provide security for the upcoming vote.
"Virtually all of the countries that sent in additional forces to help with election security have kept those forces in place," Gates said Tuesday, ahead of the expected runoff announcement.
"I think the key consideration before us at this point is actually less security than with the passage of time, the weather. And so, getting something done before winter sets in will clearly be very important."
Obama has the same problem witht he First Amendment that Bush had! He thinks it should only apply to the President and not the people!
Obama takes aim at critics' free speech
Jay Ambrose, Commentary
October 20, 2009 - 4:54PM
Jay Ambrose/Scripps Howard News Service
One way or another, the Obama administration is trying to shut up its critics, and if that requires plopping First Amendment free-speech guarantees into a six-foot grave and covering the principles up with mud, so be it.
That's emphatically (if figuratively) what happened when bureaucrats in the Department of Health and Human Services told Humana Inc. that it would be in deep, deep trouble if it kept sending letters to some 900,000 people warning of an unwanted fate if Congress proceeded with a $400 billion Medicare cut: loss of important benefits.
The anger was high. President Barack Obama himself fumed aloud about insurance companies supposedly misleading the public. Democratic senators barked and then the bureaucrats began biting, informing Humana it was under investigation and must abide by a gag order.
Bothering to be accurate, some observers replied that Humana was telling the truth about what inevitably has to happen when you take away funds for private options to Medicare, adding that even if you think the firm's points arguable, the Constitution permits dispute with government positions.
Though it still made some minor demands, Health and Human Services retreated, disposing of the gag order. But this administration has hardly retreated from its all-out assault on contrary voices, as witness the way in which Fox News has been demonized by Obama himself, by White House political advisor David Axelrod, by Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and, of course, by Communications Director Anita Dunn.
The administration has essentially been saying that no one should take Fox seriously because even its news shows are pure, unadulterated opinion. They are not. Opinion may pose as news on Fox sometimes, but does anyone think that doesn't happen with The New York Times, with NBC, with CNN? Come off it.
The big difference is that Fox is less reluctant to challenge Obama or to go after his policies with vigor on commentary shows that ordinarily offer up opposite views at the same time. I happen to think much of the Obama coverage by traditional outlets is embarrassingly embracing, and that even Fox's sometimes overreaching comedian-commentator Glenn Beck is beating them on stories they ought to have.
He has been out front, for instance, in comments about various ideological radicals in the administration, including Mark Lloyd, chief diversity officer of the Federal Communications Commission, who is a real danger to open debate, it seems to me.
Lloyd is someone who has spoken glowingly of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez -- who thinks it OK to eliminate radio stations that do not support him -- as leading a true democratic revolution. Lloyd has written of freedom of speech as something sometimes misused to thwart democratic aspirations. He has co-authored a paper saying the radio-controlling Fairness Doctrine never went out of existence and that radio station license renewals in this country should be challenged with tough standards.
What do you suppose he wants to achieve in his job?
There are still others in the administration whose attachment to free speech seems less than wholehearted -- for instance, Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Read up on positions he has taken over the years and you find that he thinks speech in America should be regulated to bring about improved deliberation of public affairs. Enough of this marketplace of ideas crud.
And there are still other actions by the administration that show little if any respect for the concept of people being allowed to speak up. It has, as a particularly scary example, favored a U.N. resolution saying that citizens of the world should not be free to stereotype people by race or religion, according to an article in The Weekly Standard. What that can mean if actually enforced is the end of all kinds of legitimate inquiry and discussion that have no hostile intent or prejudicial content whatsoever.
Hold on to your First Amendment, fellow Americans. This could be a long, bumpy ride.
Jay Ambrose, a former Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay@aol.com.
Govenrnment! Its all about money! Top Obama fundraisers get pay backs! Source
Top Obama fundraisers get posts
By Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — More than 40% of President Obama's top-level fundraisers have secured posts in his administration, from key executive branch jobs to diplomatic postings in countries such as France, Spain and the Bahamas, a USA TODAY analysis finds.
Twenty of the 47 fundraisers that Obama's campaign identified as collecting more than $500,000 have been named to government positions, the analysis found.
Overall, about 600 individuals and couples raised money from their friends, family members and business associates to help fund Obama's presidential campaign. USA TODAY's analysis found that 54 have been named to government positions, ranging from Cabinet and White House posts to advisory roles, such as serving on the economic recovery board charged with helping guide the country out of recession.
Nearly a year after he was elected on a pledge to change business-as-usual in Washington, Obama also has taken a cue from his predecessors and appointed fundraisers to coveted ambassadorships, drawing protests from groups representing career diplomats. A separate analysis by the American Foreign Service Association, the diplomats' union, found that more than half of the ambassadors named by Obama so far are political appointees, said Susan Johnson, president of the association. An appointment is considered political if it does not go to a career diplomat in the State Department.
That's a rate higher than any president in more than four decades, the group's data show, although that could change as the White House fills more openings. Traditionally about 30% of top diplomatic jobs go to political appointees, and roughly 70% to veteran State Department employees. Ambassadors earn $153,200 to $162,900 annually.
"It is time to end the spoils system and the de facto sale of ambassadorships," Johnson said. "The United States is best served by having experienced, knowledgeable and trained career officers fill all positions in our diplomatic service."
The administration is "well aware of the historical target of career vs. non-career ambassadors, and we will be right on that target," said White House spokesman Thomas Vietor. He said the first round of diplomatic jobs traditionally go to political appointees because those are the first available when a president takes office.
Vietor said Obama also made it clear early on that he would "nominate extremely qualified individuals who didn't necessarily come up through the ranks of the State Department but want to serve their country."
Among the top Obama fundraisers with jobs: former technology executive Julius Genachowski as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and Nicole Avant, a music industry executive who is the top envoy in the Bahamas. Neither granted interview requests.
Those not in the administration benefited in other ways, including attending invitation-only White House bashes, such as a St. Patrick's Day gala.
Fundraiser David Gail, a Dallas lawyer that the campaign identified as raising between $100,000 and $200,000, joined dignitaries in July for an East Room country music concert featuring Alison Krauss and Charley Pride. He said he greeted Obama after the event but doesn't have special access to the president, who was elected on a pledge to change business-as-usual in Washington.
"I've seen people who have been included on conference calls or events who were very involved at the grass-roots level," Gail said.
"Contributing doesn't guarantee a visit to the White House," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday, "nor does it preclude it."
Others not on the campaign's list of official bundlers also have reaped rewards.
Sacramento developer Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, a fundraiser in Hillary Rodham Clinton's unsuccessful presidential campaign, was nominated this month by Obama to serve as ambassador to Hungary. Clinton is now secretary of state.
Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis did not respond to interview requests, and her office referred calls to the White House.
It's too early to tell how big a role Obama's fundraisers will play. On the ambassador front alone, nearly 100 top positions remain unfilled, according to the American Foreign Service Association's tally.
Ronald Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, wants Obama to limit political appointees to about 10% of diplomatic jobs. "The direction is not good," he said of Obama's appointments to date, "but you cannot definitively say what the picture will be for the whole administration."
FROM FUNDRAISER TO STAFFER
President Obama has named 54 fundraisers to government positions. Here's a look at who they are and how much they raised. The campaign reported fundraising in broad ranges only.
RAISED MORE THAN $500,0000
Nicole Avant Ambassador to the BahamasRAISED BETWEEN $200,000 and $500,000
Matthew Barzun Ambassador to Sweden
Don Beyer Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein
Jeff Bleich Ambassador to Australia**
Richard Danzig Member, Defense Policy Board
William Eacho Ambassador to Austria
Julius Genachowski Chairman of Federal Communications Commission
Donald Gips Ambassador to South Africa
Howard Gutman Ambassador to Belgium
Scott Harris General Counsel, Department of Energy
William Kennard Ambassador to the European Union**
Bruce Oreck Ambassador to Finland
Spencer Overton Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Thomas Perrelli Associate Attorney General
Abigail Pollack Member, Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino
Charles Rivkin Ambassador to France and Monaco
John Roos Ambassador of Japan
Francisco Sanchez Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade
Alan Solomont Ambassador to Spain and Andorra**
Cynthia Stroum Ambassador to Luxembourg**
A. Marisa Chun Deputy associate attorney generalRAISED BETWEEN $100,000 and $200,000
Gregory Craig White House counsel
Norman Eisen Special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform
Michael Froman Deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs
Mark Gallogly Member, Economic Recovery Advisory Board
Max Holtzman Senior adviser to the Agriculture secretary
James Hudson Director, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Jeh Johnson General counsel, Department of Defense
Samuel Kaplan Ambassador to Morocco
Nicole Lamb-Hale Deputy general counsel, Commerce Department
Andres Lopez Member, Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino
Cindy Moelis Director, Commission on White House Fellows
William Orrick Counselor to the assistant attorney general
John Phillips Chairman, Commission on White House Fellows
Penny Pritzker*** Member, Economic Recovery Advisory Board
Bob Rivkin General counsel, Transportation Department
Desiree Rogers White House social secretary
Louis Susman Ambassador to the United Kingdom
Robert Sussman Senior policy counsel, Environmental Protection Agency
Christina Tchen Director, White House Office of Public Engagement
Barry White Ambassador to Norway
Preeta Bansal General counsel, Office of Management and BudgetRAISED BETWEEN $50,000 and $100,000
Laurie Fulton Ambassador to Denmark
Fred Hochberg President, Export-Import Bank of the United States
Valerie Jarrett Senior adviser to the president
Kevin Jennings Assistant deputy secretary of Education
Steven Rattner Treasury Department adviser
Miriam Sapiro Deputy U.S. trade representative**
Vinai Thummalapally Ambassador to Belize
Eric Holder Attorney general** Nominated, not yet confirmed by Senate
David Jacobson Ambassador to Canada
Ronald Kirk U.S. trade representative
Rocco Landesman Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
Susan Rice Ambassador to the United Nations
*** National finance chairwoman
Sources: Obama campaign, Public Citizen; White House; USA TODAY research
Contributing: Andrew Seaman
Media revolts against Obama's attempt to blacklist Fox News
October 23, 1:34 AM
Des Moines Conservative Examiner
The Obama administration's war on Fox has turned the usually fawning media against the President. Thursday's attempt to exclude Fox News from a round of network interviews with a White House official backfired. Very badly.
One of Obama's three dozen czars was made available to the network pool members, which include Fox, CNN, NBC, CBS and ABC. However, in yet another attempt to attack de-legitimize Fox News, the White House told FNC they would not be allowed to participate in the interviews.
Thankfully, the Washington bureau chiefs for the other networks rallied to Fox's defense. They told the Obama administration that none of them would do the interviews if Fox was excluded. Obama's minions relented.
The support of the other networks was more about protecting the First Amendment, and their own hides, than it was about helping Fox News. The networks are smart enough to realize that excluding one particular media member from White House coverage sets a dangerous precedent.
The moment also provided a nice push back against the bullying tactics Obama's top two advisors tried on CNN and ABC last Sunday. It also comes in direct contradiction to a statement made by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday, when he claimed he would not dictate who belongs in the media pool. That is exactly what Gibbs' office attempted to do three days later, by excluding Fox.
Barack Obama and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel also flat-out lied to us this week when they claimed they were not focusing on Fox News. That is exactly what they are doing. Three senior staffers, the President, and the White House website are all using our tax dollars to go after one specific member of the media, because FNC airs stories that do not always jibe with Obama's liberal agenda.
Obama even whined about Fox News during an off-the-record meeting with the most liberal members of the national media, including MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. Fox's commentators are certainly no worse than Olbermann and Maddow in terms of expressing their point of view. The only difference is MSNBC's hosts are liberal, and tend to support Obama. Fox's are more conservative, and tend to oppose him. You cannot claim Fox is not a legitimate news organization because they express a point of view, without doing the same to MSNBC. But Obama would never attack MSNBC. He needs them to boost his ever-dwindling poll numbers.
Fox News is the least of Obama's problems. Between growing job losses, a record $1.4 trillion deficit, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Al Qaeda, Russia, rising gas prices, and health care, you would think this administration has plenty of things to occupy its time. Instead of fixing problems, they go after their critics.
If really he wanted to know who to blame for America's woes, Barack Obama should take a good look at the face that stares back at him in the mirror. But the narcissistic president is simply too much in love with what he sees.
Fox News relishes Obama administration scorn
By Matea Gold
October 26, 2009
Reporting from New York - It's been a long time since Fox News, which avidly cultivates its outsider status, got to play the underdog. But after White House aides recently labeled the top-rated cable news channel "a wing of the Republican Party" and argued that it is not a news network, Fox News found itself back in a spot it relishes: firing back at a more powerful adversary.
The salvos by administration officials have rallied liberals who complain that the channel has a conservative agenda. The activist group MoveOn instantly jumped in the fray, urging Democrats to stay off Fox News programs.
But the White House's stance also gave extra lift to the network at a time when it is on track to record its best ratings year ever. This year, Fox News has averaged nearly 1.2 million viewers across all its programming, a 16% increase over the same period last year, according to Nielsen. In the two weeks since aides to President Obama took after the coverage, the audience has been 8% larger than the previous two weeks.
If anything, the Obama administration has succeeded in reinforcing Fox News' identity as a thorn in the side of the establishment -- a role the network loves to play.
"We may be No. 1, but there is sort of an insurgent quality to Fox News," said senior political analyst Brit Hume. "And that's kind of our attitude: 'Hoist a Jolly Roger, pull out our daggers and look for more throats to slit.' This is tremendous fodder for us. My lord, we've been living on it."
Glenn Beck, the network's newest star, gleefully unveiled a red telephone on his set, saying it was a special line for the White House to use to correct any mistakes he makes. Sean Hannity proudly labeled his program "Not White House approved." And Bill O'Reilly repeatedly hammered the White House in his nightly editorial.
"There is something very disturbing about the Obama administration fighting harder against Fox News than against the Taliban," he said last week.
Administration officials said they anticipated that Fox would try to capitalize on their remarks but felt they had to push back against the network's torrent of criticism.
"They were misrepresenting our programs and policies," said White House Communications Director Anita Dunn. "They were attacking members of the administration. And they were organizing political opposition on their shows. We wanted to set the record straight."
Fox News executives said the administration is failing to distinguish between their commentators and news programs.
"They talk about the opinion shows and they say, 'See, you're not doing journalism,' " said Michael Clemente, the channel's senior vice president of news, calling the contention that Fox News is not a news organization a "smear."
"I think it reinforces the fact that on the news side, we're the people that will ask the right questions, whatever those questions are," he added.
The back-and-forth is the latest chapter in a tortured relationship between Obama and Fox News. Early in the 2008 presidential campaign, he mostly steered clear of the channel amid pressure from liberal activists, forcing the cancellation of two Fox-hosted debates. But as the Democratic primary race moved to swing states such as Indiana, Obama stepped up his appearances on the network. He even granted O'Reilly a sit-down in September.
Tensions returned after Obama's victory. The network gave ample coverage to the "tea party" rallies protesting the administration's spending, with its hosts urging viewers to participate. Beck called Obama a racist and doggedly went after White House aides such as "green jobs" advisor Van Jones, slamming him for signing a petition questioning whether the U.S. had a role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Jones ultimately resigned. The story was belatedly picked up by the rest of the media, prompting editors at the New York Times and other news organizations to say they needed to watch the network more closely.
The idea of Fox News setting the news agenda alarmed White House officials, who decided to vocalize their criticism of its coverage to try to dissuade other reporters from following the network's lead.
"I think the mainstream media has to ask themselves at a time when there are wars, when there is a bad economy, when there are huge challenges facing this country, whether they want to chase a narrow political agenda," Dunn said.
It's unclear whether the tactic will be effective. Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, said that "if someone else breaks a good story, and if -- important if -- our own reporting backs it up, we'll run it. Even if it's Fox."
Los Angeles Times Editor Russ Stanton took a similar stance, saying, "We would follow any news story -- after confirming the facts and figuring out a way to advance it -- if we believed it was important to the readers of the Los Angeles Times, regardless of the organization or individual that broke it."
News executives at the other broadcast and cable television networks declined to comment on the dust-up. But there are signs that some in their ranks are uncomfortable with the White House's tack. Last week, ABC senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper quizzed Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about the appropriateness of the White House determining what constituted a news organization.
On Thursday, the Washington bureau chiefs of the networks balked when the Treasury Department sought to exclude Fox from a series of interviews with executive pay czar Kenneth Feinberg that was being filmed with a pool camera. The bureau chiefs insisted that Fox be included because it was part of the five-network pool, said CBS bureau chief Christopher Isham. "There was no debate," he said.
A senior administration official said the White House had not told Treasury to exclude Fox, and Gibbs told correspondent Major Garrett it had been a mistake.
On NBC last week, Obama tried to play down the dispute.
"What our advisors have simply said is that we are going to take media as it comes," he said. "And if media is operating basically as a talk radio format, then that's one thing. And if it's operating as a news outlet, then that's another thing. But it's not something I'm losing a lot of sleep over."
Mr. President, please grow a pair
Published: October 28, 2009, 12:00 am ET
By Mike Padovano
During the past two weeks, the apparent war between the White House and Fox News has become more than just a minor blip on the political radar, but a major story. Each day there are numerous articles, from multiple news sources – CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Bloomberg, the Huffington Post and just about every newspaper and blog imaginable. Some will claim this whole debate is a waste of time, which might be true. This is why it’s important to remember who it was who forced us to have this debate to begin with: White House officials.
This whole spectacle began a few weeks ago when White House officials called out Glenn Beck for confusing the facts on the Olympics, and since has turned into a back-and-forth cat fight, with three senior advisers to Barack Obama calling Fox News “illegitimate” and calling on other news outlets to no longer treat Fox as legitimate journalism. Since then, Robert Gibbs has pointed to Beck and Sean Hannity as the real problems with Fox.
Now it’s obvious that White House officials and Fox have never had a great relationship, but what has happened recently is something that has not been seen since Richard Nixon was in office. It’s pretty funny, and sad at the same time, that the Obama administration feels so threatened by Fox News. After all, as the president’s approval ratings have been falling, Fox News’ ratings have been climbing, and it now attracts more viewers than all the other cable news networks combined, so maybe it is something to fear.
This has forced the administration to realize that its policies are not flying in mainstream America. With Fox as its most vocal opponent, it figures that by forcing the country to re-examine Fox, people will see the light and go crawling back into the arms of Obama. Unfortunately, this debate has fired up the right even more than it already was. By claiming Fox News is illegitimate, do the people watching it have illegitimate concerns? Furthermore, if Beck and Hannity are reasonable enough to claim Fox is illegitimate, shouldn’t Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow be enough to make MSNBC illegitimate? No, because MSNBC doesn’t criticize the administration at all.
Unfortunately for White House officials, this is yet another issue to blow up in their faces. Once again, Obama has shown his willingness to get sidetracked on trivial, stupid matters. Just like the professor Gates situation, and flying to Europe to petition for the Olympics, Obama is wasting critical time when decisions have to be made.
That there is no strategy for Afghanistan, yet Obama and his administration feel they can waste time on TV talking about Fox, is something that worries me, and should worry you. Obviously, Fox has a certain bias; the only people who don’t think so are those with Fox itself. But, people who want to watch Hannity and Beck are going to do so, regardless of what the administration says.
By getting involved, the administration is showing it’s willing to get involved in the media. Whether it be to regulate, there is no place for government interference with the media. That Fox’s ratings are growing every day means concerns about taxes, deficit and government intervention are real and spreading.
Rather than wasting time attacking people who share different views, White House officials should address these issues and prove them to be false. Beck frequently points to the government’s ever-growing role in our lives. By its willingness to take a position in the media, the administration has only shown these allegations to be all the more true.
Imagine if George W. Bush made a fuss every time he was treated unfairly by a news organization. He probably would’ve been impeached for violating the Constitution. Obama won’t be able to change the views of Hannity or Beck; but that doesn’t matter because they aren’t journalists, nor do they claim to be. They are entertainers who get high ratings by saying ridiculous things, so the best way to deal with them is to ignore them.
As the president, Obama’s duty is to rise above these entertainers and other negative press, and focus on doing his job. If Bush could put up with multiple networks calling him names for eight years, Obama can handle it from one network.
I hope the American public will soon realize that once again a distraction has been created for it. But before we move past this, as we had to do with the Professor Gates fiasco, who keeps bringing these ludicrous things into the public eye? Not Fox News, but Obama. If he is so focused on having a meaningful debate on the issues, why is he saying his opposition is illegitimate and why is he wasting precious time debating things that don’t matter?
If this is how the administration reacts when it is afraid, or in the face of someone who opposes it, I am afraid to think about how it will handle a real crisis or emergency. Will it go on different channels and complain that someone is being unfair or work toward proving its critics wrong? I guess only time will tell
Obama's war on Fox News provides big ratings boost
October 26, 11:54 PM
Des Moines Conservative Examiner
Barack Obama's war on Fox News Channel is paying huge dividends. For Fox News. While Obama's approval numbers are sinking below the 50 percent mark, FNC's ratings are higher than ever.
Two weeks ago, the Obama White House began its assault on Fox News Channel, with communications director Anita Dunn calling the channel a "research arm of the Republican Party." Since that time, FNC's ratings are up almost 10 percent. Even more important, the ratings leaped 14 percent in the coveted 25-54 year old demographic.
Glenn Beck, who is particularly despised by the thin-skinned Obama administration, now owns the second highest rated show in all of cable news. Beck's show airs at 5 pm eastern, three hours before prime time viewing even begins. Altogether, FNC has the top 11 highest rated shows in cable news, and 13 of the top 14. Thanks in part to Obama's inadvertent help, FNC is on pace for its best ratings year ever.
The Obama administration has used its heaviest hitters to attack Fox News. The President's top two advisors tried to bully ABC and CNN into not following up on stories first reported by Fox. The networks pushed back when the White House tried to exclude Fox from network pool coverage. Then, when the Obama administration lied and claimed they did not try to block FNC, CBS News exposed their fraud.
Obama joined the fray by saying the channel is more like talk radio than a news outlet. This statement exposes the President's extreme hypocrisy. MSNBC is every bit as opinionated at Fox News. But since MSNBC is liberal, they receive praise, not scorn. In fact, their two most boisterous hosts were invited to the White House last week to listen to Obama whine even more about Fox News.
Even Obama's liberal supporters believe this war with Fox is a losing strategy for the White House. Fox, on the other hand, hopes the White House fires more ammunition. They are laughing all the way to bank.
Oct. 23, 2009
President Obama's Feud with FOX News
After Months of Taking Heat from FOX News Stars, the White House is Firing Back
White House Takes Aim at Fox News
(CBS) After months of taking incoming fire from the prime-time stars of Fox News, the Obama White House is firing back, charging that FOX News is different from all other news.
"FOX News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican party," said Anita Dunn, White House communications director.
"If media is operating basically as a talk radio format, then that's one thing, and if it's operating as a news outlet, then that's another," Mr. Obama said.
And the White House has gone beyond words, reports CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield. Last Sept. 20, the president went on every Sunday news show - except Chris Wallace's show on FOX. And on Thursday, the Treasury Department tried to exclude FOX News from pool coverage of interviews with a key official. It backed down after strong protests from the press.
"All the networks said, that's it, you've crossed the line," said CBS News White House correspondent Chip Reid.
Tension between presidents and the press is as old as the Republic. FDR was so incensed by the war reporting of one New York Daily News correspondent he tried to present him with an Iron Cross from Nazi Germany. John Kennedy tried to get New York Timesman David Halberstam pulled out of Vietnam; and Vice-President Spiro Agnew's assaults on the network press is legendary.
"We have more than our share of nattering nabobs of negativism," Agnew said.
What gives this dust-up special irony is that FOX News success comes in no small part from its ability to convince its viewers that the "mainstream" media are slanted to the left. Now, the White House is arguing that the network is not a real news organization at all, and that has brought some mainstream media voices to its defense.
There's no question that FOX's prime-time voices come from the right. Moreover, its owner, Rupert Murdoch is a staunch conservative, and its first and only CEO, Roger Ailes, is a veteran of Republican media wars.
But MSNBC in prime-time has its own lineup of commentators - all of whom are on the left side of the spectrum, some of whom met with the president the White House this week.
So why is the White House out to "de-legitimize" FOX? Not because it has opinions, but because its opinion voices are so hostile to Mr. Obama - and because FOX News is, as it has been for a decade, by far the most watched of the cable news networks. In fact, its ratings have increased 13 percent this summer. So if FOX is feeling any pain from the White House's stance, it's crying all the way to the bank.
Fox News Feud
October 26, 2009 04:29 PM ET
It does not matter what Fox says about the president, it is the freedom of a true democracy to allow the voice of opposition ["White House: Fox Pushed Team Obama Over the Brink," usnews.com]. It is not the leader's position to say which opposition is accurate and which isn't; in fact, this is entirely irrelevant to the position of a leader. Furthermore, it is not the place of any leader of a "free nation" to muffle the sounds of a voice; no matter how inaccurate it is. That is not freedom of speech. It is the leader's freedom to choose not to listen to that voice, and that is exactly what President Obama should have done.
Fox News Channel, Obama administration talking
By DAVID BAUDER (AP)
NEW YORK — Fox News Channel and the Obama administration are talking.
The network confirmed a Politico report that Fox news executive Michael Clemente met at the White House on Wednesday with Robert Gibbs, President Barack Obama's press secretary. There were no details given about the meeting.
Fox has been battling with the administration, which contends the network operates more like a wing of the Republican Party than a news organization.
The meeting came a day after Fox anchor Shepard Smith apologized for a "lack of balance" following a political report where the Republican candidate for New Jersey governor was interviewed and the Democratic incumbent wasn't.
Fox correspondent Shannon Bream had wrapped up a live interview with GOP candidate Chris Christie on Smith's afternoon news show Tuesday when the anchor asked, "When will you be interviewing Jon Corzine?"
Bream replied that despite "multiple requests," Corzine hadn't made himself available for an interview.
"I didn't know that was about to happen," Smith then said. "My apologies for the lack of balance there. If I had control, it wouldn't have happened."
Smith is the network's chief news anchor and has even angered Fox viewers with some of his stories, including expressions of anger at the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina.
During Smith's second newscast on Tuesday evening, a New Jersey report included a Corzine sound bite given to the Fox broadcast network's New York affiliate.
The race in New Jersey is one of two marquee contests in 2009, along with the gubernatorial campaign in Virginia. Corzine trailed Christie in the early stages of the campaign, but recent polls show the governor has closed the gap.
Meanwhile, Fox received support Wednesday from an unlikely source: CNN's prime-time host Campbell Brown. She interviewed Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and asked whether the White House considered left-leaning MSNBC biased as well. Jarrett wouldn't speak about the network.
She "seems loathe to admit that MSNBC has a bias," Brown said. "And that is where I think the White House loses all credibility on this issue."
If the White House wants to talk about bias in the media, officials "should elevate the conversation and talk about bias on the right and on the left," Brown said. "Because when you just target one side, you reveal your own bias — that you are only critical of those who are critical of you."
Fox, White House Said To Agree To Truce
by Charles Cooper
(CBS)Looks as if Fox News and the White House caught the holiday spirit a couple of months early. Not exactly peace in our time, but at least it's a start.
A report late Wednesday by FishbowlDC (and subsequently confirmed by Politico,) brings word of a truce following a meeting between Fox News senior vice president, Michael Clemente, and White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs.
From my (admittedly narrow) perspective, I must confess that I'm sorry to see the abrupt end of what was turning into a prime-time novella. For a blogger looking for easy pickings, this ridiculous cat fight was simply too easy to lampoon. But let's acknowledge the obvious: both sides wised up and did the right thing. (The biz dev guys would describe it as a win-win.)
From the get-go, there was little upside for the Obama administration. After being singled out as unfair, Fox easily turned the tables on the White House and played the role of plucky underdog to its advantage. The ruckus also gave the unholy trinity of Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck more fodder than they knew what to do with. The Fox freeze-out also left the White House seeming petty and prickly. When Barack Obama started getting mentioned in the same breath as Richard Nixon, the PR geniuses counseling the president ought to have recalibrated the White House media strategy in a big hurry.
Meanwhile any temporary ratings boost, notwithstanding, Fox didn't come out of this episode smelling like a rose. The network's protestations that it accorded a fair shake to a liberal Democratic administration invited a new round of complaints that Rupert Murdoch's minions sorely failed to live up to the network's professed standard of being `fair and balanced.' That may not bother the red meat eaters who comprise the network's core audience. But the legions of journalists and producers who work at Fox aren't any different than the folks who go to work at the other electronic media outlets. They want to get stories first and they want to get them accurately - a big enough job by itself. Having to defend themselves from charges of reportorial bias was not something they signed up for.
Of course, a cease fire isn't worth the paper it's written on if the two sides fail to find common ground. Let's see how long the truce lasts. Think it will last through Christmas?
Doesn't take much for Obama to flush our civil liberties down the toilet!
About the only bad thing I can see about swine flue is it's a jobs program for government nannies!
Obama declares swine flu a national emergency
Oct. 24, 2009 09:28 AM
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency.
The White House on Saturday said Obama signed a proclamation that would allow medical officials to bypass certain federal requirements. Officials described the move as similar to a declaration ahead of a hurricane making landfall.
Swine flu is more widespread now than it's ever been and has resulted in more than 1,000 U.S. deaths so far. Health authorities say almost 100 children have died from the flu, known as H1N1, and 46 states now have widespread flu activity.
The White House said Obama signed the declaration on Friday evening.
Interesting how out of touch with their people the NATO governments are. The people in Europe hate the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan more then the people in the USA!
On the other hand if Obama gives the rulers of the NATO governments lots of pork they will probalby do anything that Obama asks for!
NATO backs a U.S. surge strategy
by Julian E. Barnes - Oct. 24, 2009 12:00 AM
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - NATO defense ministers signaled broad support Friday for a robust counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, adding to the momentum favoring a substantial U.S. troop hike.
Without discussing troop levels, NATO ministers meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, endorsed the strategy put forward by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and allied commander. The alliance rejected competing proposals to narrow the military mission to simply fighting the remnants of al-Qaida.
"The only way to ensure that Afghanistan does not become once again a safe haven for terrorism is if it is made strong enough to resist the insurgency as well," said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO's secretary-general. "In Afghanistan, you cannot separate counterterrorism from counterinsurgency."
As the Obama administration reviews U.S. strategy, the NATO endorsement is likely to add impetus to McChrystal's request for 40,000 additional troops to protect the Afghan people, shore up the government and counter Taliban militants.
It is unlikely the defense ministers would have issued such an unambiguous endorsement of McChrystal's plan without at least the tacit approval from U.S. officials who maintain close contact with NATO-member governments on the issue.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates attended the meeting but made no attempt to counter the move by the ministers to back McChrystal. Gates is considered a supporter of McChrystal but has avoided publicly discussing his views.
The NATO ministers' support could prove crucial to the White House. Showing that the administration has the support of its allies would be critical to President Barack Obama's ability to make his case for a troop increase to the U.S. public.
The endorsement came at a time of increasing confidence among military and other government officials in Washington that the administration will agree to much of McChrystal's troop request.
It also came days after developments in Afghanistan's presidential election promised to clear another potential hurdle to a troop increase.
President Hamid Karzai's acceptance of a runoff election could provide the Afghan government with the legitimacy experts say is essential to McChrystal's strategy.
Together, the Afghan runoff and the NATO endorsement undercut proposals by Vice President Joe Biden and others to focus more on hunting terrorists than on defeating the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan.
"It does not solve the problems in Afghanistan just to hunt down and kill individual terrorists," Rasmussen said.
"What we need is a much broader strategy."
Obama administration officials have been reviewing their strategy for the past six weeks. Gates said that the analytical phase of internal deliberations is nearly finished and that specific options will be discussed over the next "two to three weeks."
The final decision by Obama could come right before or soon after the Nov. 7 runoff between Karzai and his challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister.
The runoff is important to U.S. plans because a legitimate government in Kabul is seen as critical to the success of a counterinsurgency plan.
Controversy surrounding election fraud from the country's August ballot fueled White House interest in reopening the strategy debate.
Actual troop commitments will not be discussed by NATO until November, but Gates said a number of allies indicated they are thinking about increasing their military or civilian contributions.
"I detected a commitment and an energy on the part of our allies, both in uniform and civilians, in terms of their determination to participate with us in Afghanistan and see this through to a successful conclusion," Gates said.
The NATO meeting posed challenges for the Obama administration and its NATO allies, said Rick Nelson, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
It gave the administration a critical opportunity to keep allies onboard during the White House strategy review. For the alliance, it showed Afghanistan remains a crucial test.
"The success of Afghanistan is tied to the success of the post-Cold War NATO," Nelson said.
"So, they want to be successful. Cutting and running won't play into anyone's favor."
Yes I hate criminal pirates! But where in the American Constitution does it say we are the world polices force. The Constitution says wars have to be declared! Congress has not declared war on Iraq, Afghanistan or these pirates in Somalia!
U.S. drones patrol Somalia's coast to fend off pirates
Oct. 24, 2009 12:00 AM
NAIROBI, Kenya - For the first time, sophisticated U.S. military surveillance drones capable of carrying missiles have begun patrolling waters off Somalia in hopes of stemming rising piracy.
Three ships have been seized in a week off Africa's lawless eastern coast and Vice Adm. Robert Moeller, deputy commander for the U.S. Africa Command, said pirates continue to pose a significant challenge.
With the monsoon season now ended, there has been a rash of attacks as pirates return to the open seas. More than 130 crew members from seven ships are being held, including about 70 from the latest attacks. In an effort to stem the surge, unmanned U.S. military surveillance planes called MQ-9 Reapers stationed on the island nation of Seychelles are being deployed to patrol the Indian Ocean in search of pirates, Moeller told the Associated Press in an interview at command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. The patrols began this week, military officials said.
The 36-foot-long Reapers are the size of a jet fighter, can fly about 16 hours and are capable of carrying a dozen guided bombs and missiles. They are outfitted with infrared, laser and radar targeting.
Military officials said Friday that the drones would not immediately be fitted with weaponry, but they did not rule out doing so in the future.
Analysts said they expected the Reapers would also be used to hunt al-Qaida and other Islamist militants in Somalia. While Moeller said the aircraft would "primarily" be used against pirates, he acknowledged they could also be used for other missions.
Even the drones and the presence of an international naval armada are unlikely to deter pirates, Moeller said. Pirates are "prepared to take their chances against the warships that are patrolling the area, simply because the potential for big financial gain is significant," he said.
Looks like Obama wants to give money to Republicans in exchange for votes in the 2012 election. Here is some corporate wefare to vote for Obama in 2012
Obama wants banks to lend more to small businesses
Posted 10/24/2009 2:04 PM ET
By Alan Fram, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON — Banks should return the favor they received in their recent taxpayer-financed bailout by lending more money to small businesses, President Barack Obama said Saturday. In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said too many small business owners remain unable to get credit despite administration steps to jump-start lending, which was virtually frozen when the financial crisis took hold last year.
"These are the very taxpayers who stood by America's banks in a crisis, and now it's time for our banks to stand by creditworthy small businesses and make the loans they need to open their doors, grow their operations and create new jobs," Obama said.
"It's time for those banks to fulfill their responsibility to help ensure a wider recovery, a more secure system and more broadly shared prosperity," said Obama.
The president said the administration will "take every appropriate step to encourage them to meet those responsibilities." He did not specify what those steps might be.
Obama's were the latest instance of the populist tone he has employed to pressure the financial industry.
Earlier this week, Obama criticized the banking and finance industries for working through Congress to try to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Agency he has proposed. He accused them of "using every bit of influence they have to maintain the status quo that has maximized their profits at the expense of American consumers, despite the fact that recently those same American consumers bailed them out as a consequence of the bad decisions that they made."
The financial bailout package cost taxpayers $700 billion.
In his address Saturday, Obama said small businesses have created nearly two-thirds of the nation's new jobs over the past decade and a half.
"They must be at the forefront of our recovery," he said.
This year's $787 billion economic stimulus package made $5 billion in tax breaks available to small business and cut the costs of Small Business Administration loans, Obama said. Last week, he asked Congress to increase the size of some SBA loans and announced a plan to provide low interest loans to small banks that agree to lend more money to small businesses.
Is Obama going to blame Bush for Obama's first failure in Afghan?
In Afghanistan, President Obama has run out of "blame Bush" passes
Columnist Charles Krauthammer
WASHINGTON — Old Soviet joke:
Moscow, 1953. Stalin calls in Khrushchev.
"Niki, I'm dying. Don't have much to leave you. Just three envelopes. Open them, one at a time, when you get into big trouble."
A few years later, first crisis. Khrushchev opens envelope 1: "Blame everything on me. Uncle Joe."
A few years later, a really big crisis. Opens envelope 2: "Blame everything on me. Again. Good luck, Uncle Joe."
Third crisis. Opens envelope 3: "Prepare three envelopes."
In the Barack Obama version, there are 50 or so such blame-Bush free passes before the gig is up. By my calculation, Obama has already burned through a good 49. Is there anything he hasn't blamed George W. Bush for? The economy, global warming, the credit crisis, Middle East stalemate, the deficit, anti-Americanism abroad — everything but swine flu.
It's as if Obama's presidency hasn't really started. He's still taking inventory of the Bush years. Just this Monday, he referred to "long years of drift" in Afghanistan in order to, I suppose, explain away his own, well, yearlong drift on Afghanistan.
This compulsion to attack his predecessor is as stale as it is unseemly. Obama was elected a year ago. He became commander in chief two months later. He then solemnly announced his own "comprehensive new strategy" for Afghanistan seven months ago. And it was not an off-the-cuff decision. "My administration has heard from our military commanders, as well as our diplomats," the president assured us. "We've consulted with the Afghan and Pakistani governments, with our partners and our NATO allies, and with other donors and international organizations" and "with members of Congress. "
Obama is obviously unhappy with the path he himself chose in March. Fine. He has every right — indeed duty — to reconsider. But what Obama is reacting to is the failure of his own strategy.
There is nothing new here. The history of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars is a considered readjustment of policies that have failed. In each war, quick initial low-casualty campaigns toppled enemy governments. In the subsequent occupation stage, two policy choices presented themselves: the light or heavy "footprint."
In both Iraq and Afghanistan, we initially chose the light footprint. For obvious reasons: less risk and fewer losses for our troops, while reducing the intrusiveness of the occupation and thus the chances of creating an anti-foreigner backlash that would fan an insurgency.
This was the considered judgment of our commanders at the time, most especially Centcom commander (2003-2007) Gen. John Abizaid. And Abizaid was no stranger to the territory. He speaks Arabic and is a scholar of the region. The overriding idea was that the light footprint would minimize local opposition.
It was a perfectly reasonable assumption, but it proved wrong. The strategy failed. Not just because the enemy proved highly resilient but because the allegiance of the population turned out to hinge far less on resentment of foreign intrusiveness (in fact the locals came to hate the insurgents — al-Qaida in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan — far more than us) than on physical insecurity, which made them side with the insurgents out of sheer fear.
What they needed, argued Gen. David Petraeus against much Pentagon brass opposition, was population protection, i.e., a heavy footprint.
In Iraq, the heavy footprint — also known as the surge — dramatically reversed the fortunes of war. In Afghanistan, where it took longer for the Taliban to regroup, the failure of the light footprint did not become evident until more recently when an uneasy stalemate began to deteriorate into steady Taliban advances.
That's where we are now in Afghanistan. The logic of a true counterinsurgency strategy there is that whatever resentment a troop surge might occasion pales in comparison with the continued demoralization of any potential anti-Taliban elements unless they receive serious and immediate protection from U.S.-NATO forces.
In other words, Obama is facing the same decision on Afghanistan that Bush faced in late 2006 in deciding to surge in Iraq.
In both places, the deterioration of the military situation was not the result of "drift," but of considered policies that seemed reasonable, cautious and culturally sensitive at the time, but ultimately turned out to be wrong.
Which is evidently what Obama now thinks of the policy choice he made on March 27.
He is to be commended for reconsidering. But it is time he acted like a president and decided. Afghanistan is his. He's used up his envelopes.
Charles Krauthammer's column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Obama to get Indian votes! Of course Obama will screw them after he gets their votes! Just like Obama has screwed everybody else on his promises!
Obama to Indians: 'You will not be forgotten'
Agencies ordered to improve relations with tribes
by Ledyard King - Nov. 6, 2009 12:00 AM
Gannett Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Telling American Indian leaders "I'm on your side," President Barack Obama issued an order Thursday instructing federal agencies to do a much better job of consulting with tribes on numerous policies affecting Indian country.
The order, signed in front of a cheering throng of tribal leaders, was the highlight of a one-day summit that Obama pledged to hold during his presidential campaign last year.
Obama called the summit the largest gathering of Native American tribal leaders in U.S. history. The federal government is obligated under established treaties to provide basic services to tribes, but Indians say the government rarely consults them about how those services should be delivered. This order directs every Cabinet agency to draw up a detailed plan to improve tribal consultation.
"After all, there are challenges we can only solve by working together," Obama said.
Representatives of 386 federally recognized tribes paid their way to come to the Interior Department for the summit, which featured discussion panels with Cabinet secretaries, federal lawmakers and the heads of agencies that deal directly with Indian issues.
The mood was generally upbeat, and the summit program included Indian ceremony and tradition. The president playfully engaged the crowd during a question-and-answer session, a sign of the kinship Indians feel with Obama despite the deep resentment many have toward the federal government.
Thorny issues of tribal lands and trust responsibilities, which are the subjects of lawsuits brought by tribes against the government, were discussed, as was the need for more money for health care, education and law enforcement. But few expect the gathering to solve problems immediately.
Talking about the poor treatment Indians have received, the president said he could relate from his own personal experiences as the son of a teenage mother and a father who abandoned his family.
"I'm on your side. I understand what it means to be an outsider. I know what it means to feel ignored and forgotten, and what it means to struggle. So you will not be forgotten as long as I'm in this White House," he said.
Indians say they finally have an ally in the White House. Obama campaigned on their reservations, beefed up aid to their tribes, appointed several Indians to key administration positions and delivered on the summit.
"You've restored hope to the Indian communities," said Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians and a member of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, who introduced the president. "We want to thank you for restoring that, not only just by your words, but by your actions."
One of those actions is the order Obama signed Thursday.
Though it does not guarantee more money or favorable outcomes, the order promises a spirit of cooperation from Washington that Indian leaders said has been missing for years. President Bill Clinton issued a similar order about a decade ago, but Indian leaders said little was done to enforce it.
They are much more optimistic about Obama.
Said Theresa Two Bulls, president of the South Dakota Oglala Sioux Tribe, one of the most impoverished in the nation: "It's truly a beginning."
The Washington Post and the Associated Press contributed to this article.
Unemployment surges to 10.2% - Obamas gonna cut it down - personally!
Hmmm .... If the all powerful Obama is going to personally reduce the unemployment rate why did the all powerful Obama let the unemployment rate get so high?
Obama "I won't let up until the Americans who want to find work can find work and until all Americans can earn enough to raise their families and keep their businesses open"
Let's face it ain't jack sh*t Obama can do to reduce the unemployment rate other then reduce taxes and government regulations and that is something Obama won't do!
Unemployment surges to 10.2%
Highest rate since 1983; job losses likely to continue well into 2010
Nov. 7, 2009 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - As bad as Friday's jobs report was, showing October's unemployment rate jumping sharply to 10.2 percent, the outlook is likely to worsen for American workers well into next year. Economists expect the jobless rate to keep climbing, perhaps above 11 percent, as employers produce more with fewer workers and shy away from hiring.
The nation's unemployment rate rose a larger-than-expected four-tenths of a percentage point in October and hit its highest level since April 1983, even as the pace of job losses slowed sharply, the Labor Department said Friday.
While the jobless rate, which stood at 9.8 percent in September, hasn't yet topped the post-World War II high of 10.8 percent, many experts say this recession is worse.
Employers shed 190,000 jobs in October, the slowest pace almost since the devastating recession began in December 2007. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised its August and September unemployment numbers to reflect that 91,000 fewer jobs were lost over those two months than first reported.
That trend is positive. It shows that the torrid pace of job losses in the first half of the year has slowed dramatically. That supports the recent report that the U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annual rate from July through September.
There are other positive signs. The professional and business services sector added 18,000 jobs in October. Temporary employment, which usually rises before a return to broader hiring, was up by almost 34,000 last month, the third straight month of gains.
Yet the surge in the unemployment rate overshadowed all else.
"History tells us that job growth always lags behind economic growth," President Barack Obama cautioned in a statement from the White House Rose Garden, shortly after he signed a new $24 billion economic-stimulus bill into law. The measure provides tax incentives to homebuyers and extends unemployment benefits for the longtime unemployed. The House of Representatives passed the measure 403-12 Thursday in a rare bipartisan vote, a day after the Senate passed it unanimously.
Obama called the October jobless report "a sobering number that underscores the economic challenges that lie ahead. ... I won't let up until the Americans who want to find work can find work and until all Americans can earn enough to raise their families and keep their businesses open."
When discouraged workers and underemployed ones are factored in, a more broadly defined unemployment rate stands at 17.5 percent. Thirty-five percent of the jobless, about 5.6 million Americans, have been unable to find work for more than six months.
Many economists had expected unemployment to hit 10 percent this year, but few thought the rate would reach that by October. After Friday's sharp jump, they began revising job forecasts down.
Mark Zandi, the chief economist for Moody's Economy.com, thinks that the jobless rate could hit 11 percent by mid-2010.
"Unemployment is rising while labor force is declining. Once labor force begins to rise, this will add to unemployment, as many coming back in will be unemployed," Zandi said.
Smaller firms, which provide the most jobs, remain cash-poor and credit-starved. They're expected to continue shedding workers or at best hold the line.
"The job market isn't deteriorating as fast as it was earlier in the year, but it isn't going to improve until next spring at the earliest," Zandi said.
Sageworks Inc., a financial firm that specializes in data about privately held companies, reported that small firms will keep cutting payrolls.
"They're going to reduce their overhead. They're going to reduce their payroll. They represent at least 50 percent of the employment in the United States, and that doesn't look like it's coming back anytime soon," said Drew White, the group's chief financial officer.
Only four sectors of privately held companies are showing revenue growth before expenses this year, he said: health care, utilities, education and information.
Still, some analysts found grounds for optimism.
"What people aren't talking about today and won't talk about for a couple of days is that if you take the peak of job losses and plot the trend, we still get to zero jobs lost sometime in the first quarter of 2010. That means we start adding jobs the next month after we hit zero," Fred Fraenkel, vice chairman of investment manager Beacon Trust Co., said in a research note. "Most people are talking about the U.S. starting to add jobs back in the second half of next year. It looks like that will start in the first half of the year, not the second half."
October was the 22nd consecutive month that employers shed jobs, the longest such streak since the Great Depression. Nine of those months were under the Obama administration, 13 under the Bush administration.
Last month's job losses followed a familiar script as construction, manufacturing, hospitality and leisure, and the retail sector reduced jobs. Government hiring was flat. Health and education showed some positive growth, and in a pleasant surprise, professional and business services added jobs.
Employers shed an average of 188,000 jobs in each of the past three months, the Labor Department said. That's better than the 357,000 jobs lost on average in each of the three preceding months.
Delete two of these images!
Make the remaining image align on the left with the text
Better yet delete ALL of the images and get the orginal drawing from the Ramiz web site
237 members of Congress are millionaires.
I guess that "government of the people, by the people, for the people" thing ain't true any more!
It's more like "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 in power" is how it works now! The common man on the street is NOT the one who Congress looks out for.
Obama and Congress just gave out about $2 trillion in corporate welfare. I wonder how much of that went to themselfs and the companies they run?
And the reason they refuse to legalize victimless drug war crimes is they don't want the liquor businesses they own to lose money due to new recreational drugs. Arizona's John McCain is one of those liquor barons, or at least his wife is.
And of course that is why the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue even though most of the pubic is against them – there is too much money to be made by members of Congress supplying the military with the tools of the trade to kill woman and children in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Report: 237 millionaires in Congress
by Erika Lovley - Nov. 6, 2009 05:31 PM
Talk about bad timing.
As Washington reels from the news of 10.2 percent unemployment, the Center for Responsive Politics is out with a new report describing the wealth of members of Congress.
Among the highlights: Two-hundred-and-thirty-seven members of Congress are millionaires. That’s 44 percent of the body – compared to about 1 percent of Americans overall.
CRP says California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa is the richest lawmaker on Capitol Hill, with a net worth estimated at about $251 million. Next in line: Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), worth about $244.7 million; Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), worth about $214.5 million; Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), worth about $209.7 million; and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), worth about $208.8 million.
All told, at least seven lawmakers have net worths greater than $100 million, according to the Center’s 2008 figures.
“Many Americans probably have a sense that members of Congress aren’t hurting, even if their government salary alone is in the six figures, much more than most Americans make,” said CRP spokesman Dave Levinthal. “What we see through these figures is that many of them have riches well beyond that salary, supplemented with securities, stock holdings, property and other investments.”
The CRP numbers are somewhat rough estimates – lawmakers are required to report their financial information in broad ranges of figures, so it’s impossible to pin down their dollars with precision. The CRP uses the mid-point in the ranges to build its estimates.
Senators’ estimated median reportable worth sunk to about $1.79 million from $2.27 million in 2007. The House’s median income was significantly lower and also sank, bottoming out at $622,254 from $724,258 in 2007.
But CRP’s analysis suggests that some lawmakers did well for themselves between 2007 and 2008, even as many Americans lost jobs and saw their savings and their home values plummet.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gained about $9.2 million. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) gained about $3 million, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) had an estimated $2.6 million gain, and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) gained about $2.8 million.
Some lawmakers have profited from investments in companies that have received federal bailouts; dozens of lawmakers are invested in Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America.
Among executive branch officials, CRP says the richest is Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary L. Schapiro, with a net worth estimated at $26 million.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is next, worth an estimated $21 million. President Barack Obama is the sixth-wealthiest, worth about an estimated $4 million. Vice President Joe Biden has often tagged himself as an original blue collar man. The CRP backs him up, putting his net worth at just $27,000.
He’s hardly the worst off.
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), freshman Rep. Harry Teague (D-N.M.), Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.) and Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) each a net worth of less than zero, CRP says.
One caveat on those numbers: Federal financial disclosure laws don’t require members to list the value of their personal residences. That information could alter the net worth picture for many lawmakers.
Even so, Levinthal said, “It is clear that some members are struggling financially.
“Over a calendar year, one’s wealth can change drastically. Many peoples’ investments took a nose dive over night in the last year,” he said.
A number of lawmakers are estimated to have suffered double-digit percentage lossed in their net worth from 2007 to 2008. The biggest losers include Kerry, who lost a whopping $127.4 million; Warner lost about $28.1 million; Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) lost about $11.8 million; and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lost about $10.1 million.
The Arizona Republic is a member of the Politico Network.
Obama - "The United States will continue to stand with Iraq as a strong partner and as a friend."
Yes sure! American is a friend and partner of Iraq!
Last time I checked the American Empire had invaded, conquered and installed a puppet government in Iraq. The American Empire is the ruling power in Iraq. And most Iraqis don’t consider American to be either a friend or a partner. We are an evil invading power that has conquered and occupied their country!
Iraq electoral law passes, sets up national vote
by Qassim Abdul-Zahra - Nov. 8, 2009 10:57 PM
BAGHDAD - Iraq's parliament ended weeks of debate Sunday and passed a long-delayed law paving the way for the planned January election to go forward, sidestepping a crisis that could have delayed the U.S. troop withdrawal.
The decision appeared to resolve a key sticking point - who will be allowed to vote in the disputed, oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The issue had threatened to delay Iraq's key parliamentary elections, which in turn would likely have affected how quickly American combat forces can leave the country.
In a sign of how intensely Washington was following the debate, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill could be seen shuttling between various political factions before the law's passage. President Barack Obama, speaking at the White House, welcomed the new legislation.
"This is an important milestone as the Iraqi people continue to take responsibility for their future," Obama said. "I want to congratulate Iraq's leaders for reaching this agreement. The United States will continue to stand with Iraq as a strong partner and as a friend."
Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in a statement posted on his Web site, hailed the election law's passage as a "historic victory of the will of the people" and described it as a strong response to those trying to undermine Iraq's security.
Vote key for drawdown
Speaking to reporters after the vote, Hill said the American troop drawdown will proceed as scheduled.
Military commanders have said the withdrawal would start in earnest about 60 days after the vote, the idea being that the country would be on stable footing by then.
"What is important is that with the election law, we are very much on schedule for the drawdown," Hill said.
Under the president's plan, all U.S. combat troops will be out of Iraq by the end of August, leaving about 50,000 trainers and support troops, who in turn would leave by the end of 2011.
It was not clear whether the election would be held Jan. 16 - as originally planned - or a later date in January.
The head of the Independent High Electoral Commission, Faraj al-Haidari, said he expected the vote to be held within a week of Jan. 16., while Deputy Parliament Speaker Khalid al-Attiyah said it would likely be held Jan. 21 or 23.
The Iraqi constitution mandates the vote take place in January but does not specify a day.
The law's passage had been repeatedly delayed by sharp disagreements over how voting would take place in the northern city of Kirkuk, claimed by both Arabs and Kurds and a major flashpoint in the country.
Kurds consider Kirkuk a Kurdish city and want it part of their self-ruled region in northern Iraq. During the rule of former dictator Saddam Hussein, tens of thousands of Kurds were displaced under a forced plan by Saddam to make Kirkuk predominantly Arab, though many of them have since returned.
The Arab-led central government vehemently opposes anything that would remove Kirkuk from its control.
Under the legislation passed Sunday, the vote in Kirkuk would be held just as in other regions around the country, but the votes - and those in other disputed areas - could be subject to a special review if it is determined that there was a large population increase. Arabs and Turkomens claim Kurds have packed the city with immigrants to tip the balance in their favor.
All sides claim victory
Both Kurds and Arabs appeared to claim victory after the sometimes raucous parliament session that was televised live on Iraqi state TV.
"This is a good law because it occurred after broad agreement and it presents a solution to a problem that we have now solved, said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish lawmaker. "It doesn't achieve all our (Kurdish) ambitions, but it achieves a balance."
Omar al-Jabouri, a Sunni member of parliament, called the voting "a great victory" because, he said, Kurds were forced to accept special circumstances in the Kirkuk voting.
The law passed with 141 votes, but it was not immediately known how many of the parliament's 275 members voted against the legislation or even attended the session.
"It's a good step," said Michael Wahid Hanna, an analyst at the New York-based Century Foundation.
He cautioned, however, that disputes such as the long-brewing debate over the election law have paralyzed Iraq's political process and "have shown that it's incapable of solving the big questions," such as how to deal with disputed territories.
What a joke! In his first year in office Obama has given out almost $2 trillion in corporate welfare and now he is going to save money by cutting back departments by a measly 5%!
I must give Obama credit for his ability shovel the BS. Many people will hear Obama's latest line of BS and think he is doing a good job.
Obama eyes domestic spending freeze
By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer Andrew Taylor, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has alerted domestic agencies to plan for a freeze or even a 5 percent cut in their budgets, part of an election-year push to rein in record deficits that threaten the economy and Democrats' political prospects next fall.
China, the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities, has expressed concern about the size of U.S. deficits. U.S. policymakers worry that alarm over deficits could push foreigners into cutting back on their purchases of Treasury debt. President Barack Obama will visit China as part of his current tour of Asia.
White House budget director Peter Orszag said Friday that it is imperative to start curbing the flow of red ink in coming years so as not to erode the fledgling economic recovery and raise interest rates. But he called it a balancing act and said acting too fast could undercut the recovery.
Orszag wouldn't comment on the specifics of the upcoming budget, which will be unveiled in February, right after Obama's State on the Union address in which the initiative is sure to be a major focus.
Democratic officials in the White House and on Capitol Hill say options for locking in budget savings include caps on the amount of money Congress gets to distribute each year for agency operating budgets. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to frankly discuss internal deliberations.
"As part of that fiscal 2011 budget, we will be putting forward proposals that will put us back on a fiscally sustainable path and that have lower deficits," Orszag said in a recent Associated Press interview. "I'm not going to get into the mix between spending and revenues. Obviously deficit reduction requires some combination of those two."
On Thursday, the government reported that the federal deficit hit a record for October as the new budget year began. The Treasury Department said the deficit for October totaled $176.4 billion, even higher than the $150 billion imbalance that economists expected. The deficit for the 2009 budget year, which ended on Sept. 30, set an all-time record in dollar terms of $1.42 trillion. That was $958 billion above the 2008 deficit, the previous record holder.
The budget freeze was planned before Democratic setbacks in last week's elections. But the bad results for Democrats — independent voters that were central to Obama's winning coalition last year voted roughly 3 to 1 for GOP gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey — appear to have added urgency to the deficit-cutting drive.
Independents, pollsters say, tend to be more concerned about the deficit than other voters and getting them back in the Democratic column is crucial to the party' chances in midterm congressional elections.
The mandate to domestic agencies to limit their budget requests for the 2011 budget year comes as an economic advisory board chaired by Paul Volcker is debating ways to reform the tax code. Virtually all budget experts say there will have to be revenue increases to make any significant dent in the deficit.
The White House edict to agencies to submit spending plans at least freezing their budgets is but one round in internal administration deliberations on the budget. Cabinet heads are sure to seek exemptions, and Orszag warned that firm budget decisions haven't been made.
Given Democrat's poor poll number on the deficit, cutting it may be a case in which the adage that good policy is good politics holds true.
Still, politicians have typically avoided politically painful deficit-cutting steps in election years and recent history has not been kind to politician who have tackled the issue.
Tax-raising deficit deals in 1990 and 1993 had big political consequences for President George H.W. Bush, who lost his re-election bid, and for President Bill Clinton, whose party lost control of Congress the following year.
Let me get this straight. The planes that flew into the World Trade Center were flown by the Afghanistan Air Force and that is what justified the US invasion of Afghanistan!
Now they are saying it was not an invasion by the Afghanistan government but a criminal act.
Jesus Obama is just as bad as bush!
9/11 suspects face trial in NYC
Civilian trial for Gitmo detainees sets off intense political debate
by Greg Gordon and Leila Fadel - Nov. 14, 2009 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Attorney General Eric Holder, rejecting concerns about security risks, announced Friday that confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four men accused of being underlings will face a federal trial in New York just blocks from the scene of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.
Holder said that, because of his complete confidence in a "successful outcome," he had elected to forgo military trials and proceed with the first U.S. criminal prosecution of the figures suspected of direct involvement in the suicide-hijacking plot. He said he expects to ask for the death penalty.
Americans, especially family members of the 2,872 people who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, "deserve the opportunity to see the alleged plotters of those attacks held accountable in court, an opportunity that has been too long delayed," Holder told a news conference. The decision to attempt criminal prosecutions of the defendants set off intense debate from both ends of the political spectrum over whether the trial will make New York a magnet for terrorism, risk the release of some of the world's most dangerous terrorists because of issues such as brutal interrogation techniques used on them in secret prisons or be unfair because some or all of the defendants are mentally incompetent after years of isolation.
Human-rights groups hailed the decision, which administration officials described as a "significant step" toward fulfilling President Barack Obama's campaign promise to close the detention center at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Congressional Republicans promptly accused the Obama administration of trying to return to a pre-Sept. 11 mentality of criminalizing terrorism.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, warned that "bringing these dangerous individuals onto U.S. soil needlessly compromises the safety of all Americans."
House GOP leader John Boehner of Ohio said the possibility that the terror suspects "could be found not guilty due to some legal technicality just blocks from Ground Zero should give every American pause."
Pentagon and Justice Department officials said privately that even in the unlikely case of an acquittal, other options would enable authorities to avoid releasing the defendants into the general U.S. population.
Holder also said that he had decided that five other Guantanamo detainees will stand trial before military commissions, including Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of orchestrating the October 2007 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors and injured 39 others.
The attorney general said his first duty in deciding how to handle the Sept. 11 suspects was to follow the law and do "what's best for the American people."
"To the extent that there are political consequences, I'll just have to take my lumps," he said. "I think the criticism will be relatively muted."
A big obstacle could be whether an impartial jury can be impaneled so close to where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood.
Holder said that a careful jury-selection process should dispel those concerns. "I would not have authorized the bringing of these prosecutions unless I thought that the outcome ... would ultimately be successful," he said. "I will say that I have access to information that has not been publicly released that gives me great confidence that we will be successful in federal court."
He said a grand-jury indictment soon will be returned against:
• Mohammed, who has admitted spearheading the planning but whom U.S. interrogators subjected to simulated drowning techniques at a secret overseas prison after his capture in March 2003.
• Ramzi Binalshibh, who was turned away at the U.S. border four times before the attacks.
• Waleed bin Attash, who the U.S. government says was intended to be a hijacker.
• Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, suspected of being the paymaster.
• Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, a Pakistan-based operative who reportedly transferred money to the U.S. operatives.
All five have been held for years at Guantanamo Bay.
Asked about the decision at a Tokyo news conference before Holder's announcement, Obama said: "I am absolutely convinced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be subject to the most exacting demands of justice. The American people will insist on it, and my administration will insist on it."
Court proceedings for mastermind of 9/11 a worry for some New Yorkers
by David B. Caruso - Nov. 14, 2009 12:00 AM
NEW YORK - The move to put the self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind on trial just blocks from Ground Zero raises a host of legal, political and security questions, chief among them: Can a fair-minded jury be found in a city still nursing deep wounds from the attack on the World Trade Center?
Some also worry that the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will make New York an even bigger terrorist target and that he will use the proceedings to incite more violence against Americans.
The loudest protests Friday came from relatives of the victims, many of whom oppose any civilian trial for terror suspects - especially at the federal courthouse 1,000 yards from the spot where nearly 3,000 people died.
"If we have to bring them to the United States, New York City is not the place to have it, let alone in a courthouse that is in the shadows of the twin towers," said Lee Ielpi, whose firefighter son died in the 9/11 attacks. The city's wounds, he said, are simply still too raw.
"Ripping that scab open will create a tremendous hardship," he said.
Some city leaders seemed to relish the chance to hold the evildoers accountable at the scene of the crime.
"It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly also said that holding the trial in the city most devastated by the 2001 attack is appropriate, and he pronounced the Police Department prepared to meet any security challenge.
It may be years before Mohammed is brought to trial, and there is no guarantee the proceedings will actually be held in the city.
A defense attorney is almost certain to ask the judge to move the proceedings to someplace less likely to produce a jury tainted by extreme hatred of the defendant, said James Benjamin, a New York City lawyer who has studied terrorism prosecutions.
Still, he added, the city has handled big terrorism cases before.
Trials arising from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and another plot to attack city landmarks were held in federal court in New York.
Manhattan has jails ready to receive Mohammed. Terrorism defendants have been taken to the Metropolitan Correctional Center - an austere, 10-story building next to the courthouse - and placed in solitary confinement in 10 South, a cellblock for high-risk prisoners.
For the 2001 trial in the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, spectators had to pass through two sets of metal detectors, the courtroom and surrounding hallways were monitored round-the-clock, and videotape recorded any movements.
The defendants were strip-searched before being led through a passageway connecting the jail to the courthouse. Their feet were shackled throughout the proceedings, the chains shielded from the jury by a curtain attached to the defense table.
"The courts have handled many sensational cases fairly and effectively over the years," Benjamin said.
Civil-rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, said Mohammed is likely to be treated more fairly in New York, despite the hatred for him here, than he would before a military tribunal.
In announcing that Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay detainees will be brought to trial in New York, Attorney General Eric Holder expressed confidence that a "searching, complete" selection process will produce a fair-minded jury.
"We can come up with a process that ensures the defendants can get a fair trial in New York," he said.
Still, others with personal ties to the case predicted chaos.
"It will be a travesty!" said Debra Burlingame, sister of Charles Burlingame, one of the pilots of the airliners hijacked on Sept. 11.
She said Mohammed's court appearances will be a "three-ring circus," with the defendant using every opportunity to spout anti-American views as he did in front of 9/11 family members who traveled to Guantanamo to face him in court.
"He's going to be exulting in the suffering of the families," she said. "He will ridicule the judge. He will ridicule his lawyers. He will rally his jihadi brothers all over the world to kill more Americans."
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who favors trials before a military tribunal, said that providing security for the Mohammed case would further stretch the Police Department's resources: "They already have 1,000 cops working on counterterrorism."
Things must really suck when the American Emperor is forced to drive instead of fly! Of course I feel sorry for the serfs and peons that the Secret Service chased off the roads so the American Emperor could have the road to himself from Andrews Air Force Base to the White House.
Snow storm slams East Coast, knocks out power
By SARAH KARUSH, Associated Press Writer Sarah Karush, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – A winter storm socked the East Coast on Saturday and dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas, creating treacherous conditions and misery for motorists on the weekend before Christmas.
Forecasts called for up to 20 inches of snow across the region and a blizzard warning was in effect for the nation's capital, which was virtually a sea of white. Tens of thousands of power outages were reported across the region.
Snowplows cleared the runway at Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Washington as President Barack Obama returned from climate talks in Copenhagen. The White House said Obama rode in a motorcade back to the White House, instead of taking his helicopter, because of the conditions.
Maybe for us normal people the snow storm is making Washington impassible. But for Obama things sound like normal. During normal weather every time the President takes a trip his Secret Service goons chase everybody off the streets so the Emperor has them to himself.
Of course that ain't no different then now during this snow storm. The only difference is the Secret Service goons don't have anyone to chase off of the streets. Of course either way the President still has the streets to himself.
Obama calls capital's blizzard `Snowmageddon'
WASHINGTON – "Snowmageddon" — that's what President Barack Obama calls the storm that's shut down Washington.
His motorcade made it a few blocks through deserted streets so he could speak at the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting on Saturday.
In his opening remarks, Obama thanked activists for being willing to brave the blizzard. The streets around the hotel where the meeting was held were blocked by snow and police ahead of Obama's arrival.
California Rep. Mike Honda was delayed on the slow-running subway. Other officials who stumbled into the hotel were caked in snow and ice. Obama said he saw a sign that said "Californians for Obama" — and he joked that "you guys aren't used to this."
The party chairman, Tim Kaine, said "it's like an April day in Chicago" — that's Obama's hometown.
Obama lies to get re-elected in 2012. In his first year Obama has increased the National debt by $2 trillion from $10 trillion to $12 trillion and how he is shoveling us the BS he is going to cut spending. How do you spell OXYMORON?
Obama: New budget rules will rein in spending
by Darlene Superville - Feb. 14, 2010 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama said Saturday that new budget rules that say spending cuts must accompany spending increases will force Congress to "pay for what it spends, just like everybody else."
Obama signed a bill Friday reinstating budget rules known as "paygo" - short for "pay as you go." [It's really print as you go. Congress runs the printing presses printing money to pay for almost half of their bills]
In place during the 1990s, the rules helped create balanced budgets and surpluses. Obama blames eliminating them for creating much of the $1.3 trillion deficit he faced upon taking office in January 2009 and for a total debt of $8 trillion projected over the next decade. [Of course Obama is all talk and no action on cutting spending]
The president has been trying to show a public alarmed by higher government spending in the midst of an economic downturn that he is taking steps to tighten Washington's purse strings. [Of course! He wants to get re-elected in 2012!]
But the bill also lifted the cap on the amount of money the U.S. can borrow by $1.9 trillion - to a total of $14.3 trillion.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said the "politics of the moment" often overwhelms the desire Democrats and Republicans have to produce balanced budgets.
"Now, Congress will have to pay for what it spends, just like everybody else," he said. [Yea Sure! Like all governments the members of Congress have always spent other people money on their projects.]
Obama did not discuss raising the debt ceiling in his message. [Why would he want to mix truth with the big lie that he is reducing spending?]
The president also repeated a promise to create, by executive order, a panel of Democrats and Republicans to suggest ways for closing the gap between what the government spends and what it collects in revenue. [Yea sure! Since when can an executive order limit the constitutional spending power of Congress?] His proposal is weaker than a similar plan recently defeated by the Senate because Congress would not be required to vote on the presidential panel's recommendations.
The administration is projecting a $1.56 trillion deficit for the budget year ending Sept. 30. [While at the same time pretending to want to cut spending as this article claims]
Republicans mocked Obama for signing the "paygo" bill behind closed doors. [Sadly when it comes to spending our money like drunk sailors Republicans are not any better then Democrats!]
"With a simple stroke of his pen, President Obama now has the ability to continue his binge spending agenda to the tune of an additional $1.9 trillion, the largest one-time increase in our history," Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele said Friday. "Taxpayers will continue to foot the bill for the Democrats' fiscal irresponsibility."
Michelle Obama - American Royalty in Spain!
Critics rain on Spain getaway for first lady
by Nancy Benac - Aug. 9, 2010 02:29 PM
WASHINGTON- It sounded simple enough: a mother-daughter getaway during the dogs days of August.
But it's not so simple when Mom is the first lady of the United States. And the trip is to a luxury resort on Spain's Costa del Sol during tough economic times at home.
Michelle Obama's five-day trip to the south of Spain with daughter Sasha touched off a mini-firestorm stoked by questions about the wisdom of such a glamorous trip and over-the-top speculation about who was footing the bill and how many friends were along for the ride.
Suddenly, the popular first lady was being compared to Marie Antoinette and labeled a "material girl" sponging off taxpayers.
A day after her Air Force plane returned home, the White House and its defenders still were trying to tamp down the flames Monday.
Obama aides scurried to fact-check over-the-top speculation about trip: The first lady traveled with a "minimal" number of friends, not 40, though no exact number was given. The friends got to Spain on their own, not flying on government aircraft. Mrs. Obama and her friends paid for their own meals and hotel rooms. She did not attend a fancy gala. And so on.
But the first lady does travel with Secret Service protection - at taxpayer expense, cost unannounced - and the expense of flying her military jet to Europe and back must have been considerable. Her entourage did book 60 rooms at one posh hotel, where the average room price is about $660, and claimed more rooms elsewhere. And police did shut down a 100-meter section of Mediterranean beach for the Obamas during a Friday visit to Estepona.
In a time of nearly double-digit unemployment and economic uncertainty, that sounded more than a little off-key to many in the U.S.
And although the White House seemed blindsided by the criticism, perhaps it shouldn't have been a surprise.
"Obviously, this was a risk," said Anita McBride, who served as chief of staff to former first lady Laura Bush. "The more expensive a trip, the more criticism it invites. And yet that has to be balanced against the fact that the first lady, like anybody else, is in need of a vacation and a change of scenery."
Longtime presidential friend Marty Nesbitt said in an interview that the idea for the trip originated with his wife, Anita Blanchard. Blanchard, a doctor who delivered both of the Obamas' daughters, suggested that Mrs. Obama and Sasha accompany her and her daughters on a trip to Spain. Another Obama friend joined the two women, he said.
Noting that his wife's father had recently died, he said, "They're good friends and that's a tough time." He added, "When someone delivers your children, that's kind of an important bond, I think."
White House adviser David Axelrod said Monday on CNN, "Yes, she is the first lady of the United States. She's also a mom. She wanted to take her daughter on a trip. They went with some friends of the family to celebrate another little girl's birthday. There aren't all that many places to go where you get privacy. Wherever you go, security is going to come, not because she asked for it, but because that is a nature of her - of her position in life."
While in Spain, Mrs. Obama and her daughter also paid an official visit to King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia. And the first lady kept up on issues back home, issuing a statement praising congressional approval of child nutrition legislation.
Democrats said any criticism of her personal travels was out of bounds.
"It's wrong to talk about the first lady's family vacation as a politician," Democratic Party Chairman Tim Kaine said Monday on NBC's "Today" show. "She's a mom."
She's a mom who knows her every word, move, gesture and fashion choice can be subject to analysis.
For the most part, Mrs. Obama has managed to avoid controversy during her time as first lady, sticking to a handful of relatively safe issues such as fighting childhood obesity, helping military families and promoting national service and mentoring.
A Gallup poll released last month found the first lady's favorability ratings topped those for her husband, Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and a host of other figures in the public eye.
But Mrs. Obama has not been immune to criticism.
Early in her husband's presidency, the first lady was skewered for wearing pricey sneakers by French design house Lanvin when she volunteered at a food bank. (The shoes can go for upwards of $500.)
And the first couple caught criticism when the president and Mrs. Obama flew Air Force One to New York last year for a date.
"If I weren't president, I would be happy to catch the shuttle with my wife to take her to a Broadway show, " Barack Obama groused months later. "The notion that I just couldn't take my wife out on a date without it being a political issue was not something I was happy about."
There also was a bit of grumbling last year when Obama ended a four-nation trip with some Paris sightseeing with his wife and their two daughters, including a stop at Notre-Dame Cathedral. The girls and the first lady lingered in the city after the president left for home, visiting the Eiffel Tower and other spots.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs last week tried to dismiss questions about the first lady's trip by saying, "She is a private citizen and is the mother of a daughter on a private trip."
But fair or not, any action by a modern president - or his wife - is sure to be viewed through a political prism, said McBride, who was Mrs. Bush's chief of staff.
"Everything you do when you're in a political environment has to be weighed," she said. "It's just the reality of being a public person."
Mrs. Obama isn't the first first lady to leave her husband home and go on vacation overseas.
Hillary Rodham Clinton and daughter Chelsea traveled by prop plane, land rover and rowboat to take a weekend break at a jungle lodge in Nepal during a mother-daughter tour of South Asia in 1995. And when the first lady and her daughter clambered atop a 10-foot-tall elephant to go on safari, the entourage includes Secret Service agents packed onto another pachyderm.
The fact that the personal weekend retreat was sandwiched in the middle of a whirlwind 12-day official trip across South Asia may have helped avoid stirring criticism.
When Jacqueline Kennedy and her daughter Caroline spent three weeks at a seaside villa in Italy in 1962, the biggest controversy seemed to be over the first lady's decision to take Caroline water skiing. A London tabloid, which displayed a photo of Kennedy holding her crying daughter's head above water after a spill, proclaimed the outing "madness." A Colorado minister criticized her for appearing in public in a bathing suit and staying out until the early morning hours "while away from the U.S. and her husband."
Associated Press writer Deanna Bellandi in Chicago and AP researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.
White House keeps photographers from shirtless Obama
By Michael Calderone
Mon Aug 16, 11:27 am ET
President Obama didn't want this weekend's getaway to Florida's Gulf Coast to be a repeat of past beach trips, where the media spent days commenting on his toned physique. When press photographers snapped the president elect baring his upper torso during a Hawaii beach vacation in late 2008, for instance, Webby pandemonium ensued.
But the White House took measures this time out. "I'm not going to let you guys take a picture of me with my shirt off," he told CNN's Ed Henry on Saturday. For this trip, the Obama administration wanted media attention focused on the region's recovery from the disastrous BP oil spill, not on his pec-profile.
And that remained the game plan for press handlers throughout the weekend. The White House press team kept photographers at a distance when Obama took a dip during the family's weekend trip to Florida.
The New York Times reports that photographers traveling with the president "were led into a hotel by the White House staff and remained there for about three hours while Mr. Obama swam."
The White House released one photo on Flickr, but it isn't as "pec-tacular"as previous shots that landed on the covers of newspapers and magazines, and subsequently fueled hours of chatter from cable news hosts. (See the comparatively more tame Flickr shot, by White House photographer Pete Souza, above).
Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told the Times that it was simply easier logistically to rely on the White House photographer.
It's not the first time the White House has rankled news photographers by distributing an official picture instead of allowing them to take their own shots. Just as news organizations don't run White House press releases verbatim, some outlets refuse to run official photos along with their editorial content.
Michael Oreskes, the Associated Press's managing editor for U.S. News, described White House-distributed photos as "visual press releases" to me back in January 2009. The AP, then and now, has refused to send such photos over the wire.
The issue continues to come up within the press corps. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs discussed it with members of the White House Correspondents Association this past April, too. "We talked extensively about access, particularly around the use of official photos" he later told the Upshot.
Obama raises a quick $1 million — and some L.A. commuter ire
By Jim Tankersley, Tribune Washington Bureau
August 17, 2010
Reporting from Los Angeles —
With a quick visit to Los Angeles at rush hour, President Obama raised $1 million Monday for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
He also alienated some Angelenos, at least temporarily, as his motorcade mangled evening traffic en route from the Beverly Hilton to the Hancock Park home of producer John Wells, whose credits include "West Wing," "ER" and "Southland."
Onlookers lined Olympic Boulevard, snapping cellphone photos. One person held a small sign declaring, "We need jobs."
Although it was a friendly crowd, the street closures snared not just vehicles but pedestrians — if calls, e-mails and posts to The Times' website were any guide.
"I was an Obama supporter, but … was stopped by police from crossing Olympic to get home … during my daily dog walk," Amy Christine said on the website. "I've lost all belief in his judgment. Can he really think he's more important than the tens of thousands of people trying to get home to their families?"
The Los Angeles Police Department said that it had received several calls from people about the traffic and that the Secret Service had not shared street-closure information with the department.
Immigration rights supporters demonstrated in Hancock Park dressed in costumes from "The Wizard of Oz." Their signs asked, "Obama, where is the reform?"
Despite the anger and frustration in the streets, the atmosphere inside the fundraiser was relaxed.
The president strode to the microphone in the cool of the setting sun, amid a garden of lemon trees, a manicured lawn and a long aquamarine pool.
"What a spectacular evening," Obama said. "Let's just hang out."
About 200 people attended, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- San Francisco), J.J. Abrams, Judd Apatow, Taye Diggs and his wife, Tony Award winner Idina Menzel.
The entry fee was $2,500, but co-hosts — including Abrams, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg, and Barbra Streisand — paid $30,400 a couple. They didn't all attend, however.
Obama told the crowd that he and congressional Democrats, through the economic stimulus measure, had "made the biggest investments in clean energy in our history — building solar panels and wind turbines and advanced batteries."
Reaching out to Republicans — and evoking his message at a stop he made earlier in the day — Obama said, "On energy, we're willing to compromise on a whole bunch of issues, but we've got to have a strategy that starts to limit carbon, because we want those clean-energy jobs here in the United States. Not in China. Not in Germany."
On his way west, the president visited Wisconsin, where he told workers at ZBB Energy Corp. that his administration had helped jump-start "a homegrown clean-energy industry."
The Menomonee Falls company produces cutting-edge batteries and other devices that store energy from the wind and sun.
Obama told the workers that the stimulus package had helped save or create dozens of jobs at their company.
White House officials said ZBB won a $1.3-million loan to help expand production, which will lead to the creation of 80 more jobs.
Also as part of the stimulus, the company secured a nearly $15-million advanced energy manufacturing tax credit to fund a new plant, part of an effort to seed clean-energy factory jobs. Obama has asked Congress to approve another $5 billion in such credits, which he and Democrats hope will revitalize a battered Midwestern manufacturing sector.
After visiting the plant, Obama told a Milwaukee fundraiser that the heart of his economic strategy in the months ahead "will be three powerful words: 'Made in America.' "
But analysts warn that federal efforts to encourage clean-energy manufacturing could shrivel without steps to mandate its use.
The administration so far has failed to convince Congress to pass sweeping energy legislation that would boost clean technologies by requiring renewable sources for electricity and raising the price of fossil fuels through a "carbon price" — in effect a tax on fossil fuels.
Joshua Freed, clean-energy program director at the moderate Democratic think tank Third Way, said energy manufacturing tax credits encouraged U.S. companies to hire workers and compete with foreign energy firms.
"But in the long term," he said, "a price on carbon that funds innovation and helps spark demand for clean energy is critical to multiply the clean-energy jobs that the tax credit is giving birth to."
Two dozen states boast renewable electricity standards, but clean-energy trade groups say they alone can't trigger the factory job growth that Obama envisions.
"The difficulty for the [energy tax credits] program as it applies to renewables is that it hasn't been accompanied by a demand-side policy," said Ethan Zindler, head of North American research for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which tracks clean-energy investments.
The administration's conservative critics go further, saying the stimulus spending on clean energy is, by definition, fleeting.
At the Los Angeles fundraiser, Obama called for emissions limits – the first time he had mentioned them all day.
Fighters sent after violation of Air Force 1 space
Aug. 17, 2010 02:40 PM
SEATTLE - The North American Aerospace Defense Command says military fighter jets were scambled to respond to an airspace violation near Air Force One in Seattle.
Spokesman John Cornelio says the jets were sent from Portland, Ore., as President Obama was visiting Seattle after a report that an aircraft violated the restricted airspace. He says the aircraft left the restricted area before the Air National Guard jets arrived, and there was no intercept.
Two loud noises, apparently sonic booms, were felt throughout the Puget Sound area.
Obama was in Seattle on Tuesday to stump for Sen. Patty Murray on a three-day campaign swing for endangered Democrats.
Cornelio says the fighters were from the Guard's 142nd Fighter Wing.
The American Emperor visits Los Angeles! Heil Obama, Heil Bush, Long live tyranny!
It's unanimous, president's visit leaves L.A. boiling
By Carla Hall, Los Angeles Times
August 18, 2010
We have one word for you, Mr. President, the next time you want to sweep into Los Angeles late on a weekday afternoon: Helicopter. That way, you can avoid the streets the rest of us mere residents must use to get around.
President Obama's fundraising mission in Los Angeles on Monday evening may have been a whirlwind trip for him, but it was a tedious slog for the thousands who found themselves in gridlock from the Westside to downtown.
A Brentwood resident's two-mile jaunt took 45 minutes. An Echo Park couple who left home at 5:30 p.m. found their usual 20-minute drive west to Olympic and Rimpau boulevards took a whopping hour and 15 minutes. An attorney left his Miracle Mile-area office at 5:45 p.m. and sat unmoving in traffic for 45 minutes.
No matter their politics, Los Angeles residents found themselves united. "It was a beautiful thing," said Brentwood resident Myles Berkowitz, commiserating with his neighbors on Montana Avenue. "Young, old, black, white — everyone was pissed off."
All this traffic angst was stirred up by street closures as the president made his way from the Beverly Hilton hotel to the Hancock Park home of "West Wing" and "ER" producer John Wells to raise $1 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Frustrated motorists took to websites — including that of the Los Angeles Times — to vent.
"If you want an investigation, start with John Wells and everyone at his fundraiser who thought this was a good idea," wrote one man on The Times' website. "Yes, I understand that the actions yesterday were at the Secret Service's direction, but you'd think the president should know by now that when he travels, this is what happens. He could have easily said no or done it at a hotel near the airport. All of that yesterday for a million bucks, just phenomenally inconsiderate."
Indeed, raising money may have cost Obama some goodwill, mused one public relations professional who had her commute Tuesday morning to her Santa Monica office lengthened by 15 minutes as authorities cordoned off streets for the president's departure.
"This probably won't affect people's view of Obama long term, but it's not a very good P.R. move," said Karen Diehl.
Deprived of his straight-shot commute east on Wilshire Boulevard, physical therapist Chris Hisamune had to wind his way from Santa Monica east then north then south and even briefly backtracking west before heading east again to his Beverly Hills office.
"It did sweep through my head: I'm never voting for Obama again," Hisamune said. "My next thought is: It's the president, and if anyone deserves the security, he does. If only there were a way to minimize it, warn us and give us a buffer."
The U.S. Secret Service puts together the routes for motorcades along with local and state law enforcement agencies, said Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan.
The agency tries to be mindful of traffic disruptions. "We always look at those issues," he said. "We want to make as small an impact as possible on a community. That's always a consideration."
But in this instance, officials had to get Obama across town without benefit of an easy freeway route. Residents trying to navigate their way — at rush hour, no less — from Beverly Hills to Hancock Park know that the drive requires a patchwork of surface streets.
Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese, who helped coordinate the Los Angeles Police Department's work on Obama's visit, said the department avoided any significant overtime costs by pulling in officers who were in the middle of regular shifts. About 150 officers were positioned along the motorcade route, manning street closures and fixed posts, Albanese said.
In addition to rank-and-file officers, an undisclosed number of officers from the LAPD's elite Metropolitan Division assisted the Secret Service — a task the division performs whenever the president or other high-profile dignitaries come to Los Angeles.
At least Obama availed himself of his Marine One helicopter to travel to and from LAX to Beverly Hills on both days, thus sparing drivers from having to share the 405 Freeway with the president.
Times staff writers Martha Groves, Joel Rubin, Andrew Blankstein and Jim Tankersley contributed to this report.
I think we should call him King Obama or Emperor Obama, after all the sun never sets on the American Empire!
Obama doesn't travel light -- even on vacation
Posted 8/22/2010 8:04 AM ET
By Glen Johnson, Associated Press Writer
VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. — President Barack Obama had a simple task for his first morning on vacation: shoot over to a Martha's Vineyard bookstore to fill out his daughters' summer reading list and grab himself a novel.
Easier said than done.
His 20-vehicle motorcade passed through a cordon of police motorcycle officers, in a protective cocoon of Secret Service agents. Tagging along for the quick trip Friday were White House communications trucks, an ambulance and two vans full of reporters and photographers.
It was the same drill Saturday when he went to the beach for a picnic lunch with his family.
This may be down time for Obama, but like all modern presidents he must move about with a not insignificant entourage. It includes security officers and their array of arms, as well as advisers, friends in and out of politics, and a cook who doubles as a golfing buddy.
"They all have it and they all hate it," said Ron Kaufman, political director for former President George H.W. Bush. "Every president that I know has been accused of taking off too much time and ignoring the responsibilities of their job. But the truth is, they never get away from it."
Obama aides said before the Massachusetts trip that the president would travel light, with a skeleton staff. Accompanying him on Air Force One were senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and his counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan.
Brennan, who wants to give the president his space while on vacation, briefed Obama on national security issues during the first day on the trip. Brennan also said he would rely on the phone and e-mail to provide other updates not requiring a visit to Blue Heron Farm, the 30-acre property the Obama family was using.
"Communication systems are very robust. We can move information at the speed of light," said Brennan. "If there were to be some type of event that would require immediate engagement with the president, I am certain I can do it as quickly as I could do back in Washington."
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was taking his own vacation during the president's 10-day break. Other top aides, including chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and political strategist David Axelrod, were nowhere in sight.
Deputy press secretary Bill Burton was among the traveling party. In a nod to the more casual tone, he brought along his wife.
It ain't murder if the President orders it. At least that's what the President says!
Wonder what George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would do if they were around today and found out the President was ordering American citizens who are suspected criminals to be murdered? Would George and Thomas revolt like they did against King George? Hell King George was probably a nice guy compared to Obama and Bush!
Rights groups challenge Obama on targeted killings
By Jeremy Pelofsky Jeremy Pelofsky – Mon Aug 30, 5:52 pm ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Civil liberties groups sued the Obama administration on Monday over a program they said illegally tries to kill U.S. citizens believed to be militants living abroad, like the anti-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of Nasser al-Awlaki, the father of the Muslim cleric, arguing targeted killings violate the U.S. Constitution and international law.
U.S. authorities have tied the cleric to the failed bombing attempt of a U.S. commercial jet on Christmas Day in 2009 and to an Army major who went on a shooting spree that killed 13 people last year at Fort Hood in Texas.
No charges have been publicly filed against al-Awlaki, who was born in the United States but left in late 2001. He is believed to be in Yemen, where al Qaeda has been growing.
"A program that authorizes killing U.S. citizens, without judicial oversight, due process or disclosed standards is unconstitutional, unlawful and un-American," Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said in a statement.
President Barack Obama's National Security Council gave the Central Intelligence Agency the green light earlier this year to kill al-Awlaki, officials have said.
White House officials have also said Americans who fight alongside groups like al Qaeda are "legitimate targets" for lethal strikes.
The Obama administration declined to comment specifically about the lawsuit filed by the two group, but said the government has the right to use force to defend the country and to defeat al Qaeda.
"The U.S. is careful to ensure that all its operations used to prosecute the armed conflict against those forces, including lethal operations, comply with all applicable laws, including the laws of war," said Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller.
"This administration is using every legal measure available to defeat al Qaeda, and we will continue to do so as long as its forces pose a threat to this nation," he said.
The civil liberties groups argued that Americans accused of wrongdoing should be tried in court under the Constitution and could be targeted for killing only if there were an imminent threat from a person and there were no other ways to stop it.
The groups said the people being targeted are far from any battlefield like in Iraq or Afghanistan, which they said undermines the administration's justification.
They asked for a federal judge to issue an injunction preventing the Obama administration from killing al-Awlaki and forcing it to publicly reveal the criteria for determining who can be targeted.
CIA spokesman George Little said: "This agency acts in strict accord with American law." Representatives of the Defense Department had no immediate comment.
(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by John O'Callaghan and Jackie Frank)
When Obama talks remember it's "Do as I say, not as I do!"
Obama like most other politicians and government rulers is a hypocrite and expects US to do as he SAYS, not as he does. All that green talk that he spews out is to get him reelected and for us to do, not him.
Obama's 'Beast' of a limo stands out at green NATO summit
LISBON (AFP) – The Portuguese hosts of Friday's NATO summit hoped to use the event to promote clean-energy and electric cars, but all eyes were on US President Barack Obama's diesel-guzzling "Beast" instead.
As is usual when he travels, Obama's eight-tonne armoured behemoth of a limousine was flown out to Lisbon before the US leader's arrival, and it ferried him from the airport tarmac to his first meetings of the weekend.
Doubtless he didn't intend the Beast's roar to drown out his hosts' green message, but a US presidential motorcade and its attendant escort of Secret Service SUVs do attract attention, even at the most elite gatherings.
Earlier, Prime Minister Jose Socrates and his fellow Portuguese, the president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, had arrived at the summit in quiet, zero-emission electric cars.
"I'd like to underline the priority both our countries assign to renewable energy and electric vehicles," Socrates said, after meeting Obama, amid amused sniping from the Portuguese press at the mixed messages.
Portugal is proud of the lead it has taken in introducing what it says is the world's first national electric vehicle charging network, with 100 power outlets in 25 towns and plans to install 1,300 by next year.
The government was particularly keen for the press covering the summit to underline this, and a news release describing the recharging network was already on each of the tables in the media centre as the global pack arrived.
Within the highly secure summit site, electric buses were put on to ferry journalists between venues.
In theory, at least, Obama was on side with the plan, remarking: "An area where I want to congratulate the prime minister and the Portuguese people is for the extraordinary leadership that you've shown in clean energy.
"The prime minister's leadership on electric cars will create new opportunities for American companies here in Portugal ... and this is an example of what Portugal and America can achieve together."
But there was no immediate reaction from the White House to criticism of Obama's rather less green form of transport, and the administration has in the past said that the president's security arrangements are non-negotiable.
Bush signing books today at Desert Ridge
Dec. 9, 2010 07:59 AM
Former President George W. Bush is scheduled to appear at a Phoenix book store Thursday to sign copies of his book "Decision Points."
People began lining up Wednesday for a chance to meet the 43rd president.
Before they can meet Bush, patrons will be put through Secret Service security checks at the Barnes and Noble store at Desert Ridge mall.
Phoenix police and Secret Service were in the store early Thursday preparing for Bush's arrival.
Only people handed a wristband will get a chance to meet and greet Bush Thursday.
Barnes and Noble has not said how many wristbands were given out, but store managers tell KTVK-TV it's similar to Sarah Palin's recent book signing. There were 1,000 wristbands for that event.
If you ask me the British should treat royalty like the French do - chop their head off!
Royal attack prompts big questions on UK security
Posted 12/10/2010 10:26 AM ET
By Cassandra Vinograd, Associated Press
LONDON — British officials defended the country's security practices Friday amid a flury of questions over the royal family's safety after rampaging student protesters attacked a car carrying Prince Charles and his wife Camilla.
The chief of the Metropolitan Police pledged to investigate after protesters set upon the heir to the throne's Rolls Royce as it drove through London's busy West End on Thursday night. The royal couple was attending a charity event at London's Palladium theater.
Students poured into central London to protest sharp rises in university tuition fees as lawmakers debated and passed the hikes in Parliament. Most of the students were herded by riot police into contained areas, but many groups broke free and ran through some of the city's most famous shopping areas.
Some of the protesters chanted "Off with their heads!" and smashed one of the royal couple's clear car windows. The car was also splashed with white paint, and an Associated Press picture showed Charles and Camilla visibly shaken but unharmed.
The security breach is embarrassing for police and the royal household in the run-up to Prince William's wedding on April 29, raising questions about whether security needs to be boosted.
Protesters generally have to apply for permission to demonstrate but there's nothing to say similar protests couldn't erupt during the wedding, which is expected to draw international crowds.
Neither Buckingham Palace nor the police will comment on royal security procedures for the wedding, or how many police officers regularly accompany royal figures.
Experts cited numerous failings in planning and coordinating Thursday's royal outing, warning that the prince was lucky to have escaped unharmed.
Police should have been liaising with the royal protection squad to ensure they never came near the protests -- and most certainly not in a vintage Rolls Royce, said Alex Bomberg, a former aide to the royal family and current CEO of a close protection security firm. The car reportedly only had reinforced windows and was not bullet proof.
"You can't blame the royal protection squad for a bunch of anarchists' bad behavior," Bomberg said. "But you can blame someone for not doing their job correctly and not understanding the situation as it was unfolding. Someone's head should bloody roll."
Bomberg said using live video feeds, police should have kept the royal protection squad apprised of the situation on the ground and warned them to use a different route or to wait until the path was clear, Bomberg said. London's theater district is a maze of narrow one-way streets but other less direct routes were available. The other option would have been to cancel the outing given the protest, which drew thousands to the streets of London.
The prince's vehicle, which experts say lacks speed and maneuverability, also was a poor choice.
"You couldn't get away in an emergency in a vintage 1977 Rolls Royce," Bomberg said. "They should have used something more high powered and up to date." Without a clear escape route, the vehicle and route should never have been used, he added.
Security analyst and former police officer Charles Shoebridge called the attack one of "the most serious security breaches of the past decade."
"Some of the demonstrators yesterday were carrying petrol, specifically to use in arson attacks. If the can of paint had been a can of petrol, it would have been very different," he said.
Although riot police were used in Thursday's protests, very few of Britain's police carry fire arms.
"It wasn't potentially dangerous -- it was dangerous," he said. "The best means of preventing a subject being attacked is to keep him out of harm's way in the first place."
Prime Minister David Cameron said police must learn from the incident. He stopped short, however, of blaming the police.
"Let's be very clear about where responsibility lies," said Cameron, speaking in Downing Street. "Responsibility for smashing property, or violence, lies with the people who perpetrate that violence and I want to see them arrested and punished in the correct way."
Police said 34 protesters were arrested but would not say whether any of the arrests were linked to the royal attack.
Metropolitan Police Chief Paul Stephenson commended officers for their bravery and said the nearly 3,000-strong contingent of officers showed restraint in dealing with the "thugs."
Obama craves familiarity on Hawaiian vacation
By JULIE PACE, Associated Press Julie Pace, Associated Press – 4 mins ago
HONOLULU – More than a week into his Hawaiian holiday, President Barack Obama is proving to be a creature of habit.
While some travelers seek adventure and spontaneity, Obama seeks comfort and consistency. His routine here in Oahu, the island where he was born and mostly raised, is by now patently familiar to the locals trying to catch a glimpse of their hometown president, and the reporters who come here to cover him.
Obama is almost certain to spend his mornings working out at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. A leisurely dinner with friends and family at Alan Wong's Restaurant, an award-winning eatery in the neighborhood where Obama grew up, is now an annual tradition. And a guaranteed place to spot the president is at Island Snow, a shop near his rented oceanfront home, where he treats daughters Malia and Sasha to shave ice, the Hawaiian version of the snow cone.
So, doesn't the president ever want to mix things up a bit, maybe go somewhere new? Not really, says White House spokesman Bill Burton, who is with the president in Hawaii.
"Like most Americans, the president knows what he likes in his own hometown," Burton said. "He's been going to a lot of these places since he was a very young child and they hold an important place in his life."
Of course, things have changed since the days when Obama lived here with his grandparents and scooped ice cream at a local Baskin Robbins. The logistics of any presidential movement make a truly spontaneous stop nearly impossible. Advance teams scope out all potential destinations ahead of Obama's arrival, and Secret Service agents have to sign off on security.
That means no more walks in the park or swimming at public beaches. The Obamas now spend their beach time at Pyramid Rock, a secluded spot on the marine base, and snorkel only at Hanauma Bay on Tuesdays, when the nature preserve is closed to the public. There are also no more rounds of golf at Olomana, a course next to a busy highway where Obama played as senator. He instead opts to play at the course on base or at the more secluded Mid Pacific Country Club.
Another familiar element of Obama's Hawaiian vacations is the small circle of friends and family he surrounds himself with while he's here. His sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, lives on Oahu with her family. Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker, two of Obama's friends from Chicago join him here for the holidays, as do childhood friends Mike Ramos and Bobby Titcomb.
While Obama's trips here still generate excitement, some local residents would like to see the president more engaged with the community.
"Just because we're in Hawaii and it's paradise doesn't mean it's paradise for everyone," said Mike Irvine, who has lived in Honolulu since 1985. "Going to a black church, or maybe a homeless shelter would be a big deal."
Obama's desire for consistency and familiarity during his vacations in nothing new for occupants of the Oval Office. Ronald Reagan frequently retreated to his mountaintop ranch near Santa Barbara, Calif., spending more than a year there over the course of his presidency. George H.W. Bush sought sanctuary at his oceanfront home in Maine, and his son, George W. Bush, rarely left his sprawling ranch during trips to Crawford, Tex.
Former President Bill Clinton was the rare exception. He was often spotted jogging, sailing and dining out during summer trips to Martha's Vineyard. And with no vacation home of his own, Clinton varied his destinations, traveling to Jackson Hole, Wy., golfing on Amelia Island, Fla., and skiing in Park City, Utah.
US Capitol briefly evacuated by airspace violation
Posted 1/1/2011 3:07 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AP) — Authorities say the U.S. Capitol and surrounding buildings were evacuated and fighter jets were scrambled after an airliner flying into Washington's Reagan airport went out of radio contact.
The FAA says a Piedmont Airlines flight from Hilton Head, S.C., lost radio contact Saturday as it approached the area. The North American Aerospace Defense Command scrambled fighter jets out of Andrews Air Force Base in response.
Capitol Police issued an evacuation order on Saturday warning workers that an aircraft entered restricted airspace.
The order was called off after controllers made contact with the plane and it landed at Reagan, which is directly across the Potomac River from Washington.
Come early to UA, leave bags at home
Obama talks to Tucson tonight
President Obama will speak at a memorial event today at the University of Arizona in response to Saturday's mass shooting.
There will be speeches, blessings and readings.
UA classes are canceled today.
Here's what you need to know if you plan to go to the gathering, which is open to the public.
When: Plan to arrive early at McKale Center, but camping is not allowed on campus.
You can visit the UA Mall in the afternoon to write notes on a paper chain.
McKale doors open at 4 p.m. and the event begins at 6 p.m.
Where to go: Be prepared to wait in line. There will be about 12,000 seats inside. Overflow areas outside will be set up. Park in outlying campus parking lots, and watch for news updates about traffic and parking.
Neither food nor plastic drink bottles can be brought into McKale.
Security: Expect airport-like screening. No backpacks, bags, large purses or laptops allowed. Also not permitted: Weapons, sharp objects, posters or signs. Small cameras are OK.
Shuttle: Sun Tran is offering free shuttle rides today to the memorial.
Shuttles will begin at 2 p.m. with the last shuttle departing for McKale at 5:30 p.m. Shuttles will also provide return service at the conclusion of the event.
You can get on a bus at these locations:
• El Con Mall, 3601 E. Broadway, in the northeast parking lot just off of Dodge Boulevard.
• Hi Corbett Field, East 22nd Street and South Randolph Way. Park on the east side of the baseball field.
You can also watch a live streaming feed of the memorial this evening by following the link above.
White House stops staging photo events for the media
White House shutters staged photos
by David Bauder - May. 13, 2011 12:00 AM
NEW YORK - The White House said it is ending its long-running practice of having presidents re-enact televised speeches for news photographers following major addresses to the country, a little-known arrangement that fed suggestions of fakery when Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden.
After Obama's live, late-evening address from the East Room of the White House on May 1, five photographers were ushered in to shoot pictures as the president stood at the podium and re-read a few lines of his speech - a practice that news organizations have protested for years.
Even though the Associated Press and other news outlets said in captions to the photos that they were taken after the president delivered his address, many people who saw them may have assumed they depicted the speech itself. That raised questions of whether news organizations were staging an event.
The issue also drew attention when Jason Reed of Reuters, one of the photographers who took part, blogged about the assignment, saying the president "re-enacted the walkout and first 30 seconds of the statement for us."
This week, the White House stepped in.
"We have concluded that this arrangement is a bad idea," Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said late Wednesday. He said the administration is open to working out some new arrangement with photographers.
The practice of re-enactments has a long history. Washington veterans say President Harry Truman would deliver speeches over radio and then repeat them for newsreel cameras. Doug Mills, a photographer for The New York Times who was on duty May 1, said he has seen every president from Ronald Reagan to Obama take time after a speech so still photographers could get their shots.
Photographers know that for these major televised addresses, delivered from the White House without an audience, newspapers and websites expect to illustrate their stories with a picture of the president speaking. News organizations disdain White House handout photos, preferring to take the pictures themselves. They consider "screen grabs" from TV to be of poor quality.
Yet the presence of still photographers with cameras that make noise can be a distraction to a president, particularly in cramped settings such as the Oval Office, and perhaps to viewers of the speech. "All it takes is for some photographer to drop something and the president react to it, and it looks terrible on television," Mills said.
Obama - Screw the "War Powers" law
It's sad that our government rulers often don't even pretend to obey their own laws.
In this case Obama is supposed to get congressional approval for U.S. military invasion of Libya.
And of course Obama isn't the only problem. The Constitution requires Congress to declare war, but currently the USA has 3 undeclared wars going, two started by Bush in Iraq and Afghanistan and one started by Obama in Libya.
Obama misses deadline on Libya conflict
by David A. Fahrenthold - May. 21, 2011 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama missed a legal deadline Friday - set in a 1973 law - that required him to obtain congressional approval for U.S. military operations in Libya.
Friday was the 60th day since Obama formally notified Congress that U.S. planes would strike targets in Libya, a bid to protect civilians from the government of strongman Moammar Gadhafi. Under the Richard Nixon-era War Powers Resolution, the president must obtain congressional authorization of military action within 60 days or else begin withdrawing forces.
Neither happened. Instead, in a letter sent Friday night to congressional leaders, Obama expressed support for a proposed resolution that "would confirm that Congress supports the U.S. mission in Libya."
The president also described U.S. military efforts as "supporting" and "more limited" than in the campaign's early days. He said they include providing logistical and intelligence help to the NATO-led operation, as well as supplying aircraft and drones to attack Libyan targets.
Obama did not, however, explicitly say whether he thinks the War Powers Resolution applies to the Libyan operation. That act makes no specific exception for limited or supporting action: It applies to any instance in which military forces are "introduced into hostilities" or sent into foreign territory or airspace while equipped for combat.
Congressional leaders have showed little desire to challenge Obama on the deadline. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton also had not obtained congressional approval for overseas actions, with little repercussion from Capitol Hill.
After Obama sent his letter, Jon Summers, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said only that "Senator Reid has received the letter and is giving it his full consideration."
An aide to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the lawmaker had not seen the draft resolution that Obama mentioned. "No decisions will be made until such a review takes place and we discuss the matter with our members," Michael Steel wrote in an e-mail.
But the resolution has not been formally introduced, said a spokeswoman for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one of a group of senators whom Obama cited as its sponsors. Brooke Buchanan said the current draft expresses general support for the operation in Libya and contains no mention of the War Powers Resolution.
Legal scholars say that congressional inaction could severely weaken a law intended to take back legislative control of U.S. warmaking.
"The fundamental point is: Before we engage in a serious military endeavor, both branches should give their consent," said Bruce Ackerman, a Yale University law professor. If Obama ignores the law, he said, "we go back to the status quo before 1973; I mean, Richard Nixon will have won."
The War Powers Resolution was an attempt to settle a dispute as old as the Constitution. That document says only Congress has the power to declare war, but the president is commander in chief of the military.
Obama: would raid Pakistan again if militant found
I guess that is a polite way for Obama to say "F*ck International law, the American Empire will do whatever it feels like doing"
Obama: would raid Pakistan again if militant found
– Sun May 22, 7:07 am ET
LONDON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama would approve a new incursion into Pakistan if the United States found another leading militant there, he said in a BBC interview broadcast on Sunday.
U.S. Navy SEALs killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the September 11 attacks on U.S. cities in 2001, in a raid on his fortified compound in Pakistan on May 2, ending a manhunt for the world's most-wanted militant.
Asked if Obama would do the same again if the United States discovered another "high-value target" in Pakistan or another country, such as a senior al Qaeda member or Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, he said he would "take the shot."
"We are very respectful of the sovereignty of Pakistan. But we cannot allow someone who is actively planning to kill our people or our allies' people, we can't allow those kind of active plans to come to fruition without us taking some action," Obama told the BBC.
"I had made no secret. I had said this when I was running for the presidency, that if I had a clear shot at bin Laden, that we'd take it."
A spokesman for Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, Farhatullah Babar, said in response to Obama's remarks: "We need to move away from unilateral actions and should focus on cooperation in countering terrorism." He declined to comment further.
Obama's comments echoed those of U.S. Senator John Kerry, a Democrat close to his administration and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Asked this month if the United States would conduct a similar raid in Pakistan to kill Omar if they knew his whereabouts, he said Washington would consider all its options.
U.S. officials have long maintained Omar fled to Pakistan after the Taliban government was overthrown in late 2001 by U.S.-backed Afghan forces and is still in hiding there. Islamabad has denied reports he is in Pakistan.
Obama arrives in Britain on Tuesday for a three-day state visit -- the first state visit by a U.S. president since 2003.
He will hold talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron and address the parliament to hail the two countries' special relationship and stress the importance of transatlantic ties.
(Reporting by Olesya Dmitracova; additional reporting by Kamran Haider in Islamabad)
Mon May 23, 11:52 am ET
Obama hits car trouble in Ireland
President Obama made quite an exit Monday as his armored car attempted to leave the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, Ireland.
As crowds of onlookers patiently waited for a glimpse of the president, the White House motorcade began to peel out of the embassy via the exit ramp Monday morning. But when the car--the armored Cadillac nicknamed "The Beast"--holding Obama and wife Michelle reached the gate, a loud "clang" resounded and the car lurched.
The crowd immediately switched from cheering to groaning as the vehicle stopped and sat on the exit ramp.
A reporter with Ireland's RTE network said the car's low underbelly appeared to have caught on a piece of metal possibly related to the embassy gate.
The Beast is built to withstand much tougher perils than a piece of metal in an Irish road. As Wired writer Ben Mack notes "you can bet Obama's ride is the toughest, most sophisticated car anywhere. Think of it as the road-going equivalent to Air Force One."
Mack is speculating because the precise nature of the presidential limo's security feature is a closely guarded national security secret. But as he goes on to write:
Limo One is believed to weigh between seven and eight tons, and spy shots suggest it rides on a GM medium-duty truck chassis propelled by a diesel engine. The body is sheathed in military-grade armor as much as 8 inches thick on the doors (each of which weighs as much as the cabin door on a Boeing 747, Motor Authority says). The armor reportedly is a mix of dual-hardness steel, aluminum, titanium, and ceramic. The windows are ballistic glass said to be 5 inches thick, and Dan Neil of the Los Angeles Times says there's probably a woven Kevlar mat covering the floorboard to protect the car from blasts. The cabin is believed to feature a sealed air recirculation system to protect its occupants from chemical attacks.
This isn't the first time the Beast has created a stir abroad, either. At a NATO summit in Lisbon last year, other world leaders made a show of arriving in low-emission hybrid vehicles, to advertise their commitment to the kind of green technology that was taking center stage at the gathering. So Obama's eight-ton diesel-fueled limo was rather conspicuous. As AOL News reported at the time, Portuguese President Jose Socrates drily told reporters on hand, "I'd like to underline the priority both our countries assign to renewable energy and electric vehicles." Portugal then proceeded to drive the contrast home with special notices to the press touting its "world pioneering leadership in electric mobility."
AFP reports that the Obamas eventually switched to another car to drive to the Marine Force One helicopter en route to Moneygall--the town where the president's great-great-great grandfather once lived.
Obama code-named ‘smart alec’ in Britain
By Rachel Rose Hartman
Do Brits think Barack Obama is a bit of a "smart alec"?
The label certainly appears to fit in the minds of British police. Scotland Yard, the UK's police force, has given Obama the security codename 'Chalaque' for his visit this week to the United Kingdom, the UK Daily Mail reports. The term is reportedly a Punjabi word meaning someone who is too clever for his own good, according to the newspaper.
A Punjabi speaker told the newspaper that the word is 'not considered rude', but could be 'mildly offensive'. "It is also said to mean 'cheeky, crafty and cunning'," the paper notes.
Scotland Yard insiders told the Sunday Times that codewords are randomly generated by computer, "but the paper wondered why officials decided to stick with them, when they could have simply had another word selected that would be less provocative," the paper notes.
As in Britain, security code names are used in America by U.S. Secret Service to identify high-profile individuals under their protection.
President Obama's code name at the time of the 2008 election was "Renegade" and Michelle Obama's was "Renaissance." Secret Service code names typically change over time.
The president and the First Lady on Tuesday travel to Buckingham Palace as guests of Queen Elizabeth. Yesterday, the president's armored car -- nicknamed the Beast -- got stuck as it tried to leave the U.S. embassy in Dublin
F-15s intercept plane near US presidential retreat
– Sat Jun 11, 6:59 pm ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Two US F-15 fighter jets on Saturday intercepted a small civilian plane flying near Camp David, the presidential retreat where Barack Obama is spending the weekend with his family.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said the jets intercepted the Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft near the Maryland retreat at around 3:25 pm (1925 GMT) and escorted it away "without incident."
"The civilian aircraft, which was out of radio communication, was intercepted approximately 11 miles from Camp David," it said in a statement.
"The F-15s... escorted the aircraft out of the area and it landed at Hagerstown, Maryland, without incident."
NORAD spokeswoman Stacey Knott said the plane was intercepted out of an "abundance of caution" because it was out of radio contact, adding that it did not appear to pose any threat.
I would say this is also an indication that the Secret Service uses it's tight police state security to flush the free speech of American down the toilet where ever President Obama goes.
Flying protest banner intrudes on Mexican president's graduation speech at Stanford
June 13, 2011 | 3:38 pm
President Felipe Calderon of Mexico delivered the 2011 commencement address before 30,000 people at Stanford University on Sunday. The event made headlines in Mexico after an unidentified airplane carried a banner over Stanford Stadium during the president's speech with a protest message directed at Mexico's drug war.
"40,000 DEAD!" the banner read. "HOW MANY MORE?"
In a video that Calderon's office released of the speech, the sound of a light aircraft is heard at about the 15-minute mark into the 18-minute address, which Calderon delivered in English.
The president appears either to ignore or not notice the plane with a few quick glances he makes toward the sky, the video shows. Here's an amateur YouTube clip showing the airplane flying over the stadium. Several amateur photos of the plane and banner also quickly popped up on Twitter.
The banner was marked with the logo of an antiwar group in Mexico known as "No más sangre," or, "No more blood." Yet as of Monday, no one had come forward claiming responsibility for the intrusion on Stanford's commencement, and a spokeswoman for the group in Mexico City said they were not involved.
"We would have loved if it were us, but it was not," spokeswoman Nelly Muñohierro told La Plaza on Monday.
"Obviously it had to have been someone with a lot of cash, possibly even a political party, maybe the PRI," she added, referring to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which dominated institutions in Mexico until 2000 and was the brunt of fierce criticism in Calderon's speech.
Another member of the collective organization, the Mexico-based political scientist John Ackerman, said the group is "not in any way a structured or financed movement that in any way could pay for an airplane over there."
[Update: 11:50 a.m. June 14: Activist poet Javier Sicilia suggested in a press report on Monday that the San Francisco-based organization Global Exchange was behind the protest banner. However, Ted Lewis, human-rights director at Global Exchange, said in an interview Tuesday that the banner was not directly financed by the organization but by a group of "local citizens, Mexican and U.S. citizens, that decided they wanted to ask the president that question."]
The incident was the first signal that Mexico's nascent grassroots peace movement had made inroads with like-minded activists in the United States and is willing to engage in political publicity stunts to get its message across to U.S. voters and policymakers. The "No + sangre" insignia was designed by a political cartoonist in Mexico and has been taken up as a rallying symbol by many different branches and organizations represented within the country's antiwar movement.
U.S. media reports from the commencement at one of the country's premiere private universities barely mentioned the stunt, but the incident was being parroted by news outlets and on social networking sites in Mexico as Calderon faces sustained pressure to change his government's strategy against the powerful drug cartels. The San Jose Mercury News reported some protesters were present outside the event, with one holding a sign that read: "Calderon stay here. Mexico is better off without you."
An estimated 38,000 people -- but possibly many more -- have been killed since Calderon dispatched the Mexican military to take on the country's main drug-trafficking organizations. Opponents of the government's campaign against the cartels say 40,000 have been killed in the past 4 1/2 years since Calderon took office.
The Mexican president exhorted Stanford graduates to stick to their ideals no matter the odds, citing his own political upbringing as a young activist for the National Action Party, or PAN, in his native state of Michoacan. Following in his father's footsteps, Calderon worked for the PAN during a period in which the PRI machine was at its strongest and most corrupt.
"You must never stop defending your ideas and dreams," said the president, whose term ends in 2012. "Do not hesitate in your efforts because in the end man's power to create is bigger than his power to destroy."
-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City
on the American Emperor!
Aug 6, 2013 Emperor Obama visits Phoenix
put all the details of Obama Phoenix visit here!!!!!!!!!
Some stuff at the bottom
More news on the American Emperor!