the America Emperor

the President of the United States of America

Danae has got the talent and skills to be a professional politician

Danae has got the talent and skills to be a professional politician

  "Government of the people; by the elected officials and appointed bureaucrats; for the elected officials, appointed bureaucrats and special interest groups that helped them get into power!

    Michael Kaery


Afghan trip: Obama visits troops, phones Karzai


By BEN FELLER, AP White House Correspondent Ben Feller, Ap White House Correspondent – 2 mins ago

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – President Barack Obama slipped unannounced into dangerous Afghanistan on Friday, one year after widening an ever deadlier war and just days before a pivotal review about the 9-year-plus conflict.

Plans for a face-to-face meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai were scrapped at the last minute. Instead, the two leaders spoke by phone, Obama at the air base and Karzai in Kabul.

Under intense security, Obama landed in darkness after a clandestine departure from the White House on Thursday, where plans of his trip into the war zone were tightly guarded. Obama stepped off Air Force One just after 8:30 p.m. local time, clad in a leather jacket.

He was to personally thank U.S. troops for their service during the holidays.

The White House said rough weather forced the president to abruptly drop plans to meet Karzai in Kabul. The White House determined the wind, dust and cloud cover made it unsafe for the president to fly by helicopter from the huge military complex here to the presidential palace.

In a rapidly changing sequence of events, the White House then said the two would speak by secure videoconference — then said that, too, was dropped.

In total, Obama was to spend three hours on the ground in Afghanistan, about half the time he had scheduled.

His visit to thank troops came ahead of an upcoming full review of his war plan later this month. On the flight, the White House said the review would include no major policy changes.

The secret trip had been in the works for more than a month. National Security aide Ben Rhodes said Obama wanted to go to Afghanistan between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"It's always tough to serve in harm's way but when you're away from loved ones in the holiday season it's particularly hard, and the president wanted the ability to come out and have some time with them," Rhodes said.

Rhodes said the scrapping of the personal visit with Karzai would not have consequences because the two just met at a NATO summit in Lisbon two weeks ago.

Obama's visit comes at a particularly awkward moment in already strained U.S. relations with Afghanistan. Leaked U.S. cables show American diplomats portraying Afghanistan as rife with graft to the highest levels of government, with tens of millions of dollars flowing out of the country and a cash transfer network that facilitates bribes for corrupt Afghan officials, drug traffickers and insurgents.

A main concern in the cables appears to be Karzai himself, who emerges as a mercurial figure. In a July 7, 2009, dispatch, U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry describes "two contrasting portraits" of the Afghan president.

"The first is of a paranoid and weak individual unfamiliar with the basics of nation building and overly self-conscious that his time in the spotlight of glowing reviews from the international community has passed," the cable says. "The other is that of an ever-shrewd politician who sees himself as a nationalist hero. ... In order to recalibrate our relationship with Karzai, we must deal with and challenge both of these personalities."

In Afghanistan on Friday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said weather and technical problems prevented the videoconference with Karzai.

Reporters traveling with Obama were escorted outside the massive air field hanger to get a glimpse of the conditions that grounded Obama here. The wind was blowing strongly, kicking up dust clouds as troops streamed in to hear Obama. An American flag whipped against its pole.

Journalists who had gone to the presidential palace were told by officials that Obama was expected, and they pointed out camera angles to capture where both leaders would be standing. An American flag hung outside a doorway. U.S. armored vehicles were securing entrances to the palace. Carpets were ready to be unrolled.

The news of the cancellation of the in-person meeting with Karzai was conveyed late in the flight. Even Gibbs seemed surprised to learn of it. He was interrupted with the news on the weather problem after he had started a briefing with reporters traveling with Obama toward the end of the flight.

Obama was greeted on the tarmac by the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, and Eikenberry.

The president later met with Petraeus and Eikenberry and headed to a hospital on the base to visit wounded soldiers.

The war in Afghanistan is the nation's longest after Vietnam, launched in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Obama wanted to personally thank the troops at a time when millions back home are thinking of holiday peace, not war. This has been the deadliest year to date for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. More than 450 have been killed in 2010.

The president's visit comes nearly a year to the day after he announced he was sending an additional 30,000 troops to try to gain control — and then get the United States out — of a worsening conflict.

Obama and Karzai met less than two weeks ago at a NATO summit in Portugal. The two leaders and their governments need each other but share a blunt and at times contentious partnership, tested by questions of trust and the high costs of war.

Obama's trip to Afghanistan was his second as commander in chief; the first was in March 2010. He made a similarly unannounced and highly secure trip to Iraq as president in 2009.

He left the executive mansion without notice on Thursday night after a celebration of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. The small group of reporters traveling with Obama aboard Air Force One on the 13-hour flight consented to confidentiality and reported on the trip only after he was in Afghanistan.

The U.S. now has about 100,000 forces in Afghanistan, a record total. More than 1,300 U.S. forces have died here since the war began, and more of them in 2010 than in any other year as the fight against the Taliban has grown even fiercer.

Obama's plan is to start pulling U.S. forces out of Afghanistan in July. The goal is to shift control to Afghan authorities by the end of 2014, a deadline embraced by NATO partners, who have 40,000 of their own forces in harm's way.

Yet much depends on the hastened training of Afghan forces amid the fighting. And the progress is precarious.

Just this week, six U.S. soldiers were killed by an Afghan border policeman who turned his gun on his American trainers. The Taliban claimed responsibility. On the night before Obama left for Afghanistan, top members of his national security team stood on a cold tarmac at Dover Air Force Base, honoring the six soldiers who returned in flag-covered caskets.

Overall, Obama's approval rating on the war has held at around 50 percent since March 2010, though support for the war itself is lower. According to a September AP-GfK poll, just 37 percent of Americans said they favored the war in Afghanistan, the lowest reading measured in AP polling during Obama's tenure.

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."

I guess Obama lied to us about vetoing any and all earmark pork?


Earmarks used to lure support for tax-cut bill

Dec. 11, 2010 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - In the spirit of the holiday season, President Barack Obama's tax-cut deal with Republicans is becoming a Christmas tree tinseled with gifts for lobbyists and lawmakers.

There are ethanol subsidies for rural folks, commuter tax breaks for their cousins in the cities and suburbs, wind and solar grants for the environmentalists - all aimed at winning votes, particularly from reluctant Democrats.

The holiday additions are being hung on the big bill that was Congress' main reason for spending December in Washington, long after the elections that will give Republicans new power in January. The measure will extend Bush-era tax cuts, averting big tax increases for nearly all Americans, and keep jobless benefits flowing.

Republicans generally liked that agreement, worked out by Obama and GOP leaders. Democrats generally didn't, hence the add-ons.

It's expected to come to a decisive vote next week, at a total cost by the latest congressional estimate of $857.8 billion.

Almost $5 billion in subsidies for corn-based ethanol and a continuing tariff to protect against ethanol imports were wrapped up and placed on the tree Thursday night for farm-state lawmakers and agribusiness lobbyists. Environmentalists won more grants for developers of renewable energy, like wind and solar.

For urban lawmakers, there's a continuation of about-to-expire tax breaks that could save commuters who use mass transit about $1,000 a year.

Other popular tax provisions aimed at increasing production of hybrid automobiles, biodiesel fuel, coal and energy-efficient household appliances would be extended through the end of 2011 under the new add-ons.

The package also includes an extension of two Gulf Coast tax-incentive programs enacted after Hurricane Katrina to spur economic development in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

While the add-ons may have won more votes for the Obama-GOP deal in the Senate, their potential impact is less clear in the House, where Democrats have criticized the package as a tax giveaway to the rich.

There's the possibility the added goodies will have opposite the intended effect for some lawmakers. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said the add-ons could turn his fiscally conservative colleagues against the bill.

"You don't want to be accused out there of supporting stimulus three," he said. "It will knock some votes off in the House, but more than anything, it will show the voters out there that things haven't changed with Republicans."

Everybody hates Obama!

Obama has sold out the right and Obama has sold out the left

From this cartoon you should get the message that pretty much everybody hates Obama. Obama sold out the left wingers that helped him get elected. Obama also sold out right wingers that hated Bush and McCain and also helped him get elected.

Their ain't a dimes difference between Obama and Bush and between Obama and McCain. Obama even though he was elected as a Democrats is carrying out the war monger policies of Bush, the same policies that John McCain promised to continue. If you love the police state yell as loud as you can:

Hiel Hitler
Hiel Bush
Hiel Obama
the right and the left both hate Obama

Another lie Obama told us to get elected.

Obama said he would cut US government secrecy if elected. Instead Obama increased US government secrecy.


Target secrecy, not WikiLeaks leader

A U.S. focus on openness would make Assange irrelevant

by Dana Milbank - Dec. 22, 2010 12:00 AM

Washington Post Writers Group

WASHINGTON - Julian Assange was insufferable as he left a London courthouse last week. "During my time in solitary confinement in the bottom of a Victorian prison, I had time to reflect on the conditions of those people around the world also in solitary confinement," he said after posting bail - as if nine days in an English jail fighting extradition to Sweden on sex charges made him a regular Nelson Mandela.

Before Assange motored off to his house arrest at a friend's mansion, one of his lawyers expressed his determination that Assange "will not be going back to that cell once occupied by Oscar Wilde." Oscar Wilde? Those cheeky Brits. Assange's indiscriminate dump of American government secrets over the last several months, with hardly a care for who might be hurt or what public good was served, can be summarized nicely by one of the playwright's aphorisms: Nothing succeeds like excess. I can understand why Obama administration figures want to prosecute Assange on espionage charges or other crimes. I confess I'd like to throw a cream pie in his face myself. But prosecuting Assange would give him exactly what he wants: proof that America is hypocritical, that we don't live by the freedoms we preach.

Assange would like nothing more than to be a martyr, and President Obama shouldn't give him that. The better way to deal with Assange is to make him irrelevant. The only reason WikiLeaks has been a sensation is the absurd secrecy of the Obama administration, in some ways worse than that of George W. Bush.

The reflexive classifying of things that shouldn't be secret has, by creating the perception that the United States government has much to hide, created a market for WikiLeaks. In fact, the WikiLeaks disclosures have been generally benign. Vice President Biden said Thursday that he didn't see "any substantive damage" from them. The biggest revelation was that so many supposed government secrets really aren't secrets.

The episode spotlighted Obama's surprisingly poor record on government openness. The administration has already undertaken four prosecutions of government leakers, more than any predecessor, in some cases using the arcane, World War I-era Espionage Act. At the same time, the administration stymied efforts in Congress to pass a "shield law" to protect journalists' confidential sources.

Government-secrecy watchdog Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists reports that the administration has yet to produce recommendations for the "fundamental transformation" of the security-classification system Obama ordered a year ago. The government in the first six months of this year declassified only 8 million of the 400 million documents it is supposed to release by 2013.

Overclassification is so prevalent that even the Pentagon Papers, leaked by Daniel Ellsberg nearly four decades ago, are still classified as top secret. It's little wonder that Ellsberg himself has empathy for WikiLeaks. At a news conference at the National Press Club on Thursday, shortly before going to chain himself to the White House fence in a protest, the 79-year-old Ellsberg said Assange is a hero. Convicting Assange, he said, "would mean that the crown had returned to America ... and that we're really under a monarchical system of total control of information."

Ellsberg was accompanied by an activist from Assange's Australia, who lectured Americans on free speech.

"We thought that America stood firm for the Constitution, for its First Amendment rights," said the activist, Brett Solomon. "If something has changed, then let us know."

That bloke was as insufferable as Assange.

It achieves little to punish Assange. Instead, end the obsessive classification that made Assange possible and refuse to grant him the martyrdom he desires.


Car crashes onto President Bush's lawn in Texas

Dec. 23, 2010 12:33 AM

Associated Press

George W. Bush - George W. Hitler DALLAS - Police and security agents were sent scrambling when a driver crashed onto the front lawn of former President George W. Bush's home near Dallas.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan says the single-car accident happened Wednesday, and neither Bush nor his wife were injured. He says there was no reported damage to their house.

Donovan says the driver was questioned but released after the accident. He says the man had been visiting one of Bush's neighbors.

Dallas police are investigating. The Bushes live in a gated community in North Dallas.

In a statement, Bush spokesman David Sherzer says the Bushes were home but never in danger.

Lots of electronic data on Bush for public records requests?


Electronic info dominates George W. Bush's archive

Posted 12/23/2010 1:56 AM ET

By Jamie Stengle, Associated Press

George W. Bush - George W. Hitler LEWISVILLE, Texas — Archivists responsible for putting together the presidential library of former President George W. Bush are tasked with processing 80 terabytes of electronic information -- 20 times the Clinton administration's four terabytes.

Bush's electronic archives contain more than 200 million e-mails, compared with about 20 million in former President Bill Clinton's. Bush's archives also include share drives, hard drives, scheduling systems and digital photography, which his administration switched to about halfway through his tenure.

The average size of a quality digital photo is about three megabytes, meaning just one terabyte can store more than 300,000 such pictures.

The Bush administration e-mails alone would take up an estimated 600 million printed pages, said Alan Lowe, director of Bush's presidential library and museum. Combined with 70 million paper documents, the haul far eclipses the 550 to 580 million printed pages Lowe estimates are in all other National Archives' presidential libraries.

"In the old days, the National Archives went in and packed up trucks and trucks full of paper," Lowe said.

The preponderance of electronic files presents new challenges, ranging from dealing with the sheer volume to ensuring consistent redacting of information in an e-mail chain that may have been sent back and forth dozens of times.

Lockheed Martin Corp. has created the Electronic Records Archives system for the National Archives that is specifically designed to preserve the federal government's digital records. Lowe said the system was designed to ensure digital files will be accessible as computer programs evolve.

"It's not dependent on any sort of operating system that we're using right now," he said.

Bush archivists already have the ability to search the system and retrieve documents. Now they must begin processing the data, reading through each document to decide what might need to be redacted for personal or national security reasons. They'll also put even more specific topic designators on each document to make them easier to find.

On Jan. 20, 2014 -- five years to the date after Bush left office -- citizens will be able to request access to his administration's archives through the Freedom of Information Act. Lowe said in anticipation, archivists already have started processing the administration's paper records and will start on electronic files in the next year, when the new system has finalized redacting capabilities.

Lowe said processing all the records ultimately will take decades, but some records also will be handled as requests come in.

"It's going to take a long time," Lowe said. "I have no idea the number of years."

It's slow-going even without a wealth of electronic files. National Archives' staff noted in an article in the "The Public Historian" that Ronald Reagan's presidential library only processed about 9 percent of its records in the five years after he left office, while George H.W. Bush's got through about 7 percent.

Presidential archives in any form offer insight into an administration and can shed light on how policies developed, said Bruce Buchanan, a government professor specializing in presidential studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

"If you assemble these archives and interpret them carefully you can come to understand how a president makes decisions," Buchanan said.

But he said e-mail is new enough that until the archives can be accessed, it remains difficult to say how much additional insight can be gained from them. Much also will depend on researchers' patience.

"It's going to take lots of sifting and interpreting," he said.

Former Bush adviser Karen Hughes said although they were told in initial staff meetings that all correspondence eventually would be public, "it's not something you think about every time you send an e-mail."

Still, she said, the most important conversations and decisions took place in face-to-face meetings with the president.

The George W. Bush Presidential Center -- including the library, museum and a policy institute -- is set to open in February 2013 on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Until then, the archives are being kept at a large warehouse in the Dallas suburb of Lewisville. Aside from electronic and paper files, the archives also will include about 42,000 artifacts ranging from the bullhorn Bush used when visiting ground zero days after Sept. 11, 2001, to extravagant gifts from other heads of state.

The archives will include records from everyone who was part of the Executive Office of the President, but don't expect to see e-mail from Bush himself. The former president said during an interview at Facebook's headquarters earlier this month that he didn't use the technology.

"I didn't want any of those (e-mails) to be mine," he said. "The problem is that if you were to read some of my e-mails today you can read anything you want into them."

George W. Bush's presidential library will be the 13th overseen by the National Archives and Records Administration; the first was President Herbert Hoover's. Some earlier presidents have libraries that aren't part the National Archives' system and other presidential records are kept at the Library of Congress, Lowe said.

The Presidential Records Act, which designates administration records as public property rather than giving presidents legal ownership, came about after the Watergate scandal and President Richard Nixon's attempts to keep his papers and tape recordings. It first applied to Reagan.



Obama's insular White House worries his allies

By Peter Nicholas, Washington Bureau

7:06 p.m. CST, December 24, 2010

Reporting from Washington — In the West Wing it had become a pretty common sight: two national security aides with close ties to the president, Thomas Donilon and Denis McDonough, hurrying into the Oval Office to show him the latest piece of hot intelligence.

Some administration officials who watched the scene unfold worried that James L. Jones, the national security advisor at the time, was being left out of the loop and that Obama was being given raw reports before their meaning and import were clear.

A strong national security advisor might weed out what the president doesn't need to see. Yet Obama never quite clicked with Jones — and the absence of a personal connection with the commander in chief turned out to be a handicap.

In the fall, Jones abruptly resigned. Obama quickly replaced him with Donilon, a member of his 2008 transition team and a figure with a long history in Democratic politics. McDonough, a top foreign policy aide on Obama's campaign team, was made Donilon's No. 2.

Obama's executive style relies heavily on a cordon of advisors who were with him at earlier points in his career. In nearly every instance, as senior advisors have resigned, Obama has filled the vacancies with trusted confidants who are closer to him than the people they replaced.

Gone is Christina Romer, a UC Berkeley professor who chaired his Council of Economic Advisors. In is Austan Goolsbee, a longtime Obama campaign aide who is confident enough about his relationship with the president that at a celebrity comic night last year he joked: "Look, I'm not saying that in 1961 we were, like, separated at birth — in a village in Kenya — what I'm saying is that we're friends."

Out is Rahm Emanuel, the ambitious chief of staff now running for mayor of Chicago; in is Pete Rouse, who was chief of staff in Obama's Senate office and who helped chart Obama's rise from freshman senator to president.

Atop the pyramid is a quartet of longtime friends and campaign aides: senior advisors Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, and Rouse. Though Obama is likely to reshuffle staff next year and assign some people to different roles, none of the big four is expected to leave his orbit. Axelrod will leave the White House to begin planning for the reelection campaign, but his replacement is expected to be David Plouffe, who ran the 2008 Obama campaign.

For the foreseeable future Obama will be surrounded by a phalanx of aides utterly devoted to his political interests. That probably will focus the decision-making. But Democratic allies and even some White House officials are hoping he doesn't lean too far in this direction, creating an insular presidency.

With Republicans in charge in the House next year, the Democrats contend, Obama needs new faces who might be better suited to negotiate with a resurgent GOP and come up with a fresh alternative to the now-dated 2008 campaign message of "hope and change." Some names being tossed around: former Secretary of State Colin Powell; outgoing Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell; and Erskine Bowles, a former chief of staff to Bill Clinton and co-chairman of Obama's deficit reduction panel.

"He's dealing with a new reality," Douglas Schoen, a pollster who advised Clinton, said in an interview. "He desperately needs new people inside and outside of government to advise him and help frame a strategy to deal with an environment where Republicans have a new majority."

In the Clinton era, the White House would call in governors, politicians and others to explain major undertakings like the 1996 welfare overhaul. When governors would come to town, Clinton's staff would often invite them in to smoke a cigar with the president in the White House residence.

The White House "is a very isolating place," said former Clinton aide Marcia Hale, "unless you really try to break out."

"The thing that's not there now that has been there in the past is base-touching and outreach contact," said Peter Peyser, a Democratic lobbyist whose clients include cities and states. "What's lacking is a taking of the pulse of people outside the circle."

The White House says Obama likes to hear many voices and does not favor his inner team. Aides often point to Obama's habit of going around the room at meetings and calling on comparatively junior-level staff members who hadn't spoken out. The White House says that Jones was involved in all important meetings and that his views were accorded great value, adding that Donilon has ample foreign policy expertise and by virtue of his experience was able to make a seamless transition to the top security job.

In many ways, the White House structure is a reflection of the Obama temperament.

This is a president who doesn't like surprises. He prefers familiar faces and rituals. He plays golf with a stable foursome that often includes Marvin Nicholson, his trip director and a former caddy; takes vacations with a close circle of friends from Chicago; stays in the same hotels on the road (in Des Moines, a modest Hampton Inn) as he did during his campaign.

Not just anyone gets close. In a 10-day getaway to Martha's Vineyard this summer, the president stayed with his family at the same secluded farm they had rented the year before. On rainy days he played Scrabble with longtime Chicago friend and senior advisor Valerie Jarrett. He dined with Jarrett and two other Chicago friends, Eric and Cheryl Whitaker, at the Sweet Life Cafe, the same restaurant he had visited the previous year. Whitaker has rejoined Obama in Honolulu this week, golfing with him Thursday.

As the midterm election played out, Obama's method of operation faced withering scrutiny. He lost his working majority in the House and seemed rattled by the dimensions of what he called a "shellacking." In the last seven weeks, his team can point to a rebound: In the historic lame-duck session of Congress, Obama pushed through a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, averted a New Year's tax increase and did away with the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

But his fundamental problem remains unsolved. The economy isn't creating nearly enough jobs, leaving the unemployment rate stuck at nearly 10%. So long as that number stays high, political analysts and even loyal Democrats say Obama is at risk of being a one-term president.

At comparable crisis points, other presidents have taken a different path. Obama has spoken privately with Clinton about how to cope with the new Republican majority. But he doesn't seem eager to reprise the Clinton model.

Like Obama, Clinton faced a disastrous midterm election 16 years ago that cost his party control of Congress. Clinton rebuilt his White House through major personnel and policy moves. He began listening to outside pollsters and political advisors such as Schoen, Schoen's polling partner Mark Penn and Republican strategist Dick Morris.

Obama's outreach is more ad hoc. From time to time he calls in former Secretary of State Powell for a consultation. And he recently invited in outside economists, including Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, to sound them out about the economy.

One former administration official said that even if Obama were inclined to bring in new faces, that might not be enough. White House advisors need entree to the president — and for that, they need to get past the big four: Axelrod, Jarrett, Rouse and Gibbs.

Asked whether the president is most comfortable with those aides, one former administration official said: "That's true. And to some extent they're going to keep it that way."

Sounds like a double standard to me. We invade Iraq and Afghanistan, but anybody who fights back is treated as a civilian who is committing crimes against the American government.

I doubt that Obama will let Americans accused of war crimes by the Iraqi or Afghanistan people be put on trial in civilian courts in Iraq and Afghanistan?

But I think that would be great!!! For starters we can extradite Bush and Obama to Iraq and Afghanistan to be put on trial for their war crimes!


Obama: Civilian trials needed in terror cases

But he signs defense bill creating moratorium

by Erica Werner - Jan. 8, 2011 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama forcefully declared his support Friday for U.S. civilian trials of Guantanamo detainees, pledging to overturn language in a sweeping defense bill that would effectively block such trials from happening anytime soon.

"The prosecution of terrorists in federal court is a powerful tool in our efforts to protect the nation and must be among the options available to us," the president said.

"Any attempt to deprive the executive branch of that tool undermines our nation's counterterrorism efforts and has the potential to harm our national security."

Obama made the comments even while signing the legislation, which also allows funding for a wide range of military and national-security programs that the president said were too important to dispense with.

The law bans the use of Defense Department dollars to transfer terror suspects held at the U.S. Navy prison in Cuba to the United States, where they could be tried in civilian court. That effectively prevents any such transfer from happening during the period covered by the legislation: fiscal 2011, which runs through September.

The language reflects deep concerns in Congress about Guantanamo detainees being tried on U.S. soil. The first Guantanamo detainee tried in federal court was acquitted in November on all but one of more than 280 charges that he took part in the al-Qaida bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. That case ignited strident opposition to any more such trials.

Another case is that of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, professed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, who had been slotted for trial in New York before Obama bowed to political resistance and blocked the Justice Department's plans.

But Obama said the provision blocking the transfer of detainees amounts to "a dangerous and unprecedented challenge to critical executive-branch authority to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees."

Translation - Please reelect me in 2012!!!!


Arizona shooting: President Obama's speech to remember victims

by Dan Nowicki - Jan. 12, 2011 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will try to soothe a grieving nation from a Tucson stage today with a speech remembering the victims of a bloody shooting rampage that critically wounded an Arizona congresswoman and killed a federal judge and five others.

Obama is expected to be accompanied at the memorial ceremony on the University of Arizona campus by first lady Michelle Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy also is attending. He is the high court's circuit justice for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Arizona.

One political expert said the stakes for the Obama speech are high, characterizing the aftermath of Saturday's chilling assassination attempt on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as "a crisis moment" when Americans are looking to the president for leadership. Past presidents have similarly stepped up in times of national tragedy, like President Bill Clinton did after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and President George W. Bush did after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

"This is an opportunity for the president to heal some wounds, to send a message of cooperation and peace and really extend the olive branch to all sides," said Fred Solop, chairman of Northern Arizona University's politics and international-affairs department. "This is an opportunity to define the next two years of the Obama presidency. He came off the election in a more weakened position and on the defensive. This is an opportunity to reach for the higher ground and to elevate the conversation that is taking place in Washington."

A White House official told The Republic that Obama will devote most of his remarks to memorializing the victims. Holder, Napolitano and Gov. Jan Brewer also will speak during what is expected to be an hourlong event.

"It's a case where the best politics is no politics," said John J. "Jack" Pitney Jr., a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California. "The best approach for him would be not to say anything that sounds political or sounds critical of any political faction. If he can deliver a message of unity, compassion and resolve, then that's a good thing."

The "Together We Thrive: Tucson and America" program at McKale Memorial Center on the UA campus will come hours after the House of Representatives debates a resolution honoring the victims of the mass shooting at a Safeway near Tucson. The six dead included U.S. District Judge John Roll and Gabe Zimmerman, Giffords' outreach director. Thirteen people, including Giffords, were wounded in the attack.

Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., will manage floor debate on the resolution for the majority House Republicans. Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., will manage the debate for the House Democrats. After the action, Flake and other members of Arizona's House delegation plan to fly to Tucson with the president on Air Force One. Arizona's Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl and GOP Gov. Jan Brewer also are expected to attend the Tucson memorial. McCain shortened an official trip to South America to return to Arizona.

It's unclear whether Brewer and Obama will meet or speak privately before the event. The two spoke Saturday by phone, just hours after the rampage. In contrast to their previous conversations and meetings, Brewer described Saturday's phone call as one of kindness. In the past, Brewer and Obama have disagreed on a host of politically charged issues, including immigration, border security and the federal government's health-care reform plan.

"He was very, very gracious," Brewer said. "It was totally nonpartisan."

The trip marks Obama's fourth visit to Arizona since becoming president and his first since August 2009. Arizona, which was carried by home-state candidate McCain in the 2008 election, once was seen as a possible 2012 pickup for Obama. However, the Obama administration and Arizona Republican leaders spent much of 2010 at odds. The Justice Department sued to block Arizona's controversial immigration-enforcement law, Senate Bill 1070, from going into effect.

Pitney doubted that Obama's visit today will do much to reset his administration's relationship with its Arizona critics.

"I don't think this necessarily connects with partisan politics at all," Pitney said.

Reporter Ginger Rough contributed to this article.

Emperor Obama comes to Tucson trying to get reelected!!!!


President Obama: Giffords opened eyes for first time since shooting

by Sean Holstege - Jan. 12, 2011 07:40 PM

The Arizona Republic

TUCSON - A somber President Barack Obama delivered to an overflow audience inside the University of Arizona's McKale Center a stirring tribute to the fallen and the living after last weekend's massacre near Tucson.

The most emotional moment came midway through the address, when Obama strayed from the script to tell the crowd that Giffords had opened her eyes for the first time. The line was met with a sustained roar from a tearful crowd, while the first lady and Giffords' astronaut husband Mark Kelly embraced.

An estimated 14,300 crammed into the arena, while 13,000 more could only see the historic event from the football stadium. The event drew young and old, people in wheelchairs and people of all races.

Obama wore a dark suit and black tie, as the dedication began with a live performance of "Fanfare for the Common Man."

He opened his 34-minute speech with humility.

"There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. But know this: the hopes of a nation are here tonight. We mourn with you for the fallen," Obama said.

Obama said Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot during a "quintessentially American scene that was shattered by a gunman's bullets. And the six people who lost their lives on Saturday - they too represented what is best in America."

Then the president paid homage to those who perished: Judge John Roll, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard, Gabe Zimmerman and nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green.

"Our hearts are broken by their sudden passing. Our hearts are broken - and yet, our hearts also have reason for fullness."

Obama said the nation is grateful to the people who tended to the stricken and stopped the gunman from killing more.

"Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned - as it was on Saturday morning," Obama said.

Obama did not shirk from the controversies about free speech, gun rights and partisanship that have erupted since the attack.

"It's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds," he said.

As the arena filled in, the Obamas met with the families of all the shooting victims and dignitaries, including former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Arizona Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl, plus State Majority Leader Kirk Adams, R-Mesa, and Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix.

Before the speech began, a huge screen showed dignitaries, plus some of the people being heralded as heroes in the aftermath of Saturday's shooting. The University of Arizona surgeons who operated on Giffords and her aid, Daniel Hernandez, Jr., who staunched her bleeding, got huge receptions.

The Obamas hugged Hernandez and the president shook his hand.

Obama ended on a message of hope, as a mostly smiling crowd sat riveted by his oratory.

"I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us."

"That's what I believe, in part because that's what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine: Here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy," Obama said. "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us, we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectation."

Staff writers David Fritze, Anne Ryman, Ginger Rough, Dan Nowiki and Ron Hansen contributed to this report.

Tucson Gabrielle Giffords event was a scripted rally to get Obama reelected in 2012?

I was also annoyed by the number of speakers who read long passages from the Bible at this government event where in theory we are supposed to have separation of church and state!


Some question pep rally atmosphere at Obama speech



Thu Jan 13, 6:46 pm ET

TUCSON, Ariz. – What was billed as a memorial for victims of the Arizona shooting rampage turned into a rollicking rally, leaving some conservative commentators wondering whether President Barack Obama's speech was a scripted political event. Not so, insisted the White House and host University of Arizona.

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday he and other aides didn't expect the president's remarks at the school's basketball arena to receive as much rousing applause as it did. Gibbs said the crowd's response, at times cheering and shouting, was understandable.

"I think part of the grieving process is celebrating the lives of those that were lost, and celebrating the miracles of those that survived," he said.

The university said it did the planning with minimal input from the White House. The school paid for the event, including $60,000 for 10,000 T-shirts bearing the words "Together We Thrive." The shirts were handed out for free. T-shirts. The money will not come student tuition, fees or tax dollars. [duh! Well where is is coming from? Perhaps the reelect Obama in 2012 fund?]

Well before Obama arrived, the atmosphere had become celebratory. People lined up for hours, and when the doors finally opened about two hours before the start, a huge cheer went up and the crowd surged into the arena.

With the exception of elected officials, victims and their families, first responders and medical professionals, the capacity crowd of about 14,000 was admitted on a first-come, first-served basis Wednesday, university spokeswoman Jennifer Fitzenberger said.

But the choreographed nature of the event was too much for some.

"Can't the Democrat political stage managers give it a break just once?," conservative commentator Michelle Malkin wrote in a column on her website, then questioned the lack of White House interaction with the university.

"Given the Obama White House's meticulous attention to stage prop details, however, I would say the odds of involvement by Axelrod/Plouffe & Co. are high."

David Plouffe is a presidential adviser who was the architect of Obama's presidential campaign; David Axelrod has been his political strategist and just left the White House to advise the Obama's re-election campaign.

Rich Lowry of the National Review wrote that "the pep-rally atmosphere was inappropriate and disconcerting," although he admired the president's speech.

To observers, the crowed was spontaneous.

They cheered when the two trauma surgeons who treated Rep. Gabrielle Giffords entered and were shown on the overhead screen. As the camera would focus on other individuals thrust into the spotlight after the shooting, the crowd would go wild, whether it was the first responders, the woman who grabbed the alleged gunman's ammunition, the intern who helped Giffords. In some cases, the person would wave to the camera.

Despite the celebrations in the rafters, the mood below where the families of the victims, the president and other officials sat was far more somber.

Obama frequently bowed his head, resting his chin on his clasped hands. First lady Michelle Obama wiped tears from her eyes. Families of the victims held each other close as speakers shared personal memories of their loved ones.

The president himself appeared taken aback at the sustained applause he received after his remarks. He waved quickly to the crowd as he left the stage, stood with his head down as the crowd continued to cheer, then reached for his wife, and kissed her several times on the cheek.


Christie reported from Phoenix. Associated Press writer Julie Pace in Washington and Tucson contributed to this report.

Obama - F*ck the FOIA!

OK, he didn't say that, but the results are the same!

Obama - F*ck the FOIA! Well he didn't say exactly that, but the result is the same! I guess the good news is Emperor Obama ain't any worse then Emperor Bush in that area!


House panel wants Homeland Security papers

by Alan Fram - Jan. 16, 2011 03:18 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - A House committee has asked the Homeland Security Department to provide documents about an agency policy that required political appointees to review many Freedom of Information Act requests before the records were released, according to a letter obtained Sunday by The Associated Press.

The letter to Homeland Security was sent late Friday by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. It represents an early move by House Republicans who have vowed to launch numerous probes of President Barack Obama's administration, ranging from its implementation of the new health care law to rules curbing air pollution to spending in Iraq and Afghanistan.

AP reported in July that Homeland Security had sidetracked hundreds of requests for federal records to top political advisers to the department's secretary, Janet Napolitano. The political appointees wanted information about those requesting the materials, and in some cases the release of documents considered politically sensitive was delayed, according to numerous e-mails that were obtained by AP.

The Freedom of Information Act is supposed to ensure the quick public release of requested government documents without political consideration. Obama has said his administration would emphasize openness in providing requested federal records.

According to Issa's letter, Homeland Security's chief privacy officer and FOIA official told committee staff in September that political appointees were simply made aware of "significant and potentially controversial requests."

Mary Ellen Callahan told them that political appointees reviewed the agency's FOIA response letters for grammatical and other errors and did not edit or delay their release, the letter states. She also told the committee that Homeland Security abandoned the practice in response to the AP's article, according to Issa's letter.

On Sunday, Oversight panel spokesman Frederick Hill said Issa sent the letter "because the committee has received documents that raise questions about the veracity of DHS officials" on the matter. He did not elaborate.

Issa asked the agency to provide the documents by Jan. 29.

Homeland Security officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last summer, officials said fewer than 500 requests were vetted by political officials. The department received about 103,000 requests for information in a recent 12-month period.

The agency's directive said political appointees wanted to see FOIA requests for "awareness purposes," regardless of who had filed them. The AP reported that the agency's career employees were told to provide political appointees with information about who requested documents, where they lived, whether they were reporters and where they worked.

According to the directive, political aides were to review requests related to Obama policy priorities, or anything related to controversial or sensitive subjects. Requests from journalists, lawmakers and activist groups were to also to be examined.

Under a new policy last summer, documents are given to agency political advisers three days before they are released, but they can be distributed without those officials' approval.

Obama to cut spending - after he leaves office!

Obama to cut spending - after his term ends - "most of those cuts would be held off until after the end of his first term" - Even if Obama is a crook who wants to steal every cent out of your wallet and give it to the special interest groups that helped him get elected you have to give him an A+ for his ability to shovel the BS!


Obama sends Congress $3.73 trillion budget vowing 'tough choices' but with record deficits


10:20 a.m. CST, February 14, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.73 trillion budget Monday that holds out the prospect of eventually bringing deficits under control through spending cuts and tax increases. [ If you believe Obama is going to bring the deficits under control I have some land in Florida I would like to sell you! ] But the fiscal blueprint largely ignores his own deficit commission's plea to slash huge entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Obama called his new budget one of "tough choices and sacrifices," but most of those cuts would be held off until after the end of his first term.

Overall, Obama proposed trimming the deficits by $1.1 trillion over a decade although his changes would actually add to the deficits this year and next. Obama is projecting the deficit will hit an all-time high of $1.65 trillion this year and then drop sharply to $1.1 trillion in 2012, with an expected improvement in the economy and as reductions in Social Security withholding and business taxes expire. [ Hmmm ... so Obama is going to spend our money like a drunken sailor now, and then magically cut spending next year! Hey! For this year I am going to eat nothing but ice cream, pies, candy and junk food and then next year I plan to go on a diet and lose 200 pounds in January! Honest! ]

Obama's 2012 budget would actually add $8 billion to the projected deficit for that year because the bulk of the savings he will achieve through a freeze in many domestic programs would be devoted to increased spending in areas Obama considers priorities, such as education, clean energy and high-speed rail.

"We have more work to do to live up to our promise by repairing the damage this brutal recession has inflicted on our people," Obama said.

Republicans, who took control of the House in the November elections and picked up seats in the Senate in part because of voter anger over the soaring deficits, called Obama's efforts too timid. Lawmakers are set to begin debating on Tuesday $61 billion in cuts for the remaining seven months of fiscal 2011.

"Presidents are elected to lead and address big challenges," said Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. "The big challenge facing our economy today and our country tomorrow is the debt crisis. He's making it worse, not better."

Obama's deficit commission made a host of painful recommendations including raising the Social Security retirement age and curbing benefit increases, eliminating or sharply scaling back popular tax breaks, reforming a financially unsound Medicare program and almost doubling the federal tax on gasoline. Obama included none of these proposals in his new budget. The deficit panel called for savings by making these politically tough choices of $4 trillion over a decade, four-times the savings that Obama is projecting.

The Obama budget plan, which is certain to be changed by Congress, would spend $3.73 trillion in the 2012 budget year, which begins Oct. 1, a reduction of 2.4 percent from what Obama projects will be spent in the current budget year.

Of the $1.1 trillion in deficit savings that Obama is projecting over the next 10 years, two-thirds would come from spending cuts including $400 billion in savings from a five-year freeze on domestic programs that account for one-tenth of the budget. The other one-third of deficit savings would come from tax increases such as limiting the tax deductions high income taxpayers, a proposal that Obama put forward last year only to have it rejected by Congress. Obama also proposes raising taxes on energy companies.

The president's projected $1.65 trillion deficit for the current year would be the highest dollar amount ever, surpassing the $1.41 trillion deficit hit in 2009. It would also represent 10.8 percent of the total economy, the highest level since the deficit stood at 21.5 percent of gross domestic product in 1945, reflecting heavy borrowing to fight World War II.

The president's 2012 budget projects that the deficits will total $7.21 trillion over the next decade with the imbalances never falling lower below $607 billion. Even then that would exceed the deficit record before Obama took office of $458.6 billion in 2008, President George W. Bush's last year in office. [ Proof that Republicans can steal our money and spend it like drunken sailors just as well as the Democrats do! ]

Administration officials project that the deficits will be trimmed to 3.2 percent of GDP by 2015 — one-third of the projected 2011 imbalance and a level they said would not harm the economy.

However, to achieve the lower deficits required the administration to assume the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would fall to $50 billion annually after 2012. The budget also fails to pay for the cost of keeping payments for doctors after 2013. Obama's budget also makes assumptions about economic growth that are more optimistic that many private economists. [Translation - assumptions is a politically correct word that means we won't have to say we are sorry for lying. ]

While cutting many programs, the new budget does propose spending increases in selected areas of education, biomedical research, energy efficiency, high-speed rail and other areas Obama judged to be important to the country's future competitiveness in a global economy.

In the energy area, the budget would support Obama's goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 and doubling the nation's share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

The budget proposes program terminations or spending reductions for more than 200 programs at an estimated savings of $33 billion in 2012. Programs targeted for large cuts included Community Development Block Grants, trimmed by $300 million. A program that helps pay heating bills for low-income families would be cut in half for a savings of $2.5 billion. Another program supporting environmental restoration of the Great Lakes would be reduced by one-fourth for $125 million in savings.

The biggest tax hike would come from a proposal to trim the deductions the wealthiest Americans can claim for charitable contributions, mortgage interest and state and local tax payments. The administration proposed this tax hike last year but it was a nonstarter in Congress.

Obama's budget would also raise $46 billion over 10 years by eliminating various tax breaks to oil, gas and coal companies.

While Obama's budget avoided painful choices in entitlement programs, it did call for $78 billion in reductions to Pentagon spending over five years. That would be achieved by trimming what it views as unnecessary weapons programs such as the C-17 aircraft, the alternative engine for the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and the Marine expeditionary vehicle.

Administration officials said that the savings from limiting tax deductions for high income taxpayers would be used to keep the Alternative Minimum Tax from hitting more middle-class families over the next two years.

The budget proposes $1 billion in cuts in grants for large airports, almost $1 billion in reduced support to states for water treatment plants and other infrastructure programs and savings from consolidating public health programs run by the Centers for Disease Control and various U.S. Forest Service programs.

The administration also proposed saving $100 billion from Pell Grants and other higher education programs over a decade through belt-tightening with the savings used to keep the maximum college financial aid award at $5,550.

The surge in deficits reflect the deep 2007-2009 recession, the worst since the Great Depression, which cut into government tax revenues as millions were thrown out of work and prompted massive government spending to jump-start economic growth and stabilize the banking system.

Republicans point to still-elevated unemployment levels and charge the stimulus programs were a failure. The administration contends the spending was needed to keep the country from falling into an even deeper slump.


Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor, Darlene Superville and Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.

Hmmm I thought after the huge government welfare programs for the auto industry that the US government was a major owner of most of the American auto companies - "the government still owns 25 percent of GM's stock [and] 9 percent of Chrysler stock"

If that is true shouldn't the TAXPAYERS get getting these bonuses as pay back for the corporate welfare we gave the auto companies?

Since Obama is also effectively the President of GM I guess these $4,000 bonuses for factory workers are really $4,000 bribes to vote for Obama in 2012. [When I studied accounting they taught us that when you own 10 percent a companies stock you effectively controlled the company. That is because if you own 10 percent of the stock you can usually get at least another 41 percent of the stockholders to vote with you and thus effectively control the company]


AP Source: GM hourly workers get $4,000 bonuses

By TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher, Ap Auto Writer – Mon Feb 14, 12:32 pm ET

DETROIT – General Motors Co. will pay more than $189 million in profit-sharing to 48,000 U.S. hourly workers and millions more in performance bonuses to salaried employees, according to company documents obtained by The Associated Press.

GM will pay most hourly workers more than $4,000 each as compensation for its strong financial performance last year, said a person briefed on the bonuses. The payments come less than two years after the automaker emerged from bankruptcy protection with the help of a huge government bailout. They're more than double the previous record payment of $1,775 in 1999, at the height of the boom in sales of sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

"On the whole, we made tremendous progress last year," CEO and Chairman Dan Akerson said in an e-mail message to employees announcing the payments on Monday. "With our collective teamwork, this can be just the beginning."

GM's 28,000 salaried workers, such as engineers and managers, will get bonuses equal to 4 to 16 percent of their base pay. Fewer than 1 percent will get 50 percent or more; another 3 percent will get from 16 percent to around 50 percent, the person said. GM is not giving annual pay raises.

GM made $4.2 billion in the first nine months of 2010 and is expected to soon announce a fourth-quarter profit. The company needed a $49.5 billion government bailout to survive a mid-2009 bankruptcy filing, and the government still owns 25 percent of GM's stock. Chrysler, which needed a $12.5 billion bailout, plans to pay bonuses as well. The government owns about 9 percent of Chrysler stock.

The payments were condemned by a leading critic of the industry bailout in Congress.

"Since the taxpayers helped these companies out of bankruptcy, the taxpayers should be repaid before bonuses go out," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement. "It sends a message that those in charge take shareholders, in this case the taxpayers, for a sucker."

Final numbers for the bonuses won't be calculated until after GM announces its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings, said the person briefed on the bonuses, who asked not to be identified because the numbers have not been made public.

The 45,000 hourly workers at GM's factories will get more than $4,000. Another 3,000 workers at four factories that GM took back from Delphi Corp. will get around $3,000, the person said. GM is trying to sell the old Delphi facilities in Kokomo, Ind.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Lockport, N.Y.

The person briefed on the payments did not know the total cost of the salaried bonuses, but it's likely to top $200 million. Most GM salaried workers make more than $100,000. A bonus of 8 percent, the midpoint of the range, would give them roughly $8,000. That means GM would pay out roughly $224 million.

Bonuses for white-collar workers rise with the level of responsibility and are based on the performance of the worker and the company, the person said.

The size of the white-collar bonuses could become an issue later this year when the Detroit Three begin contract talks with the United Auto Workers union. The master contract with all three companies expires in September.

The payments follow GM's surprising return to profitability last year. The company emerged from bankruptcy cleansed of most of its debt and burdensome contracts. Union concessions cut labor costs and helped the company make money even at historically low sales volumes. Buyers bought only 11.6 million cars and trucks in the U.S. last year, far below the peak of 17 million in the middle of the last decade.

The GM documents say the white-collar bonuses are based on operating cash flow, earnings before interest and taxes, and global market share. This year, the company plans to add vehicle quality to the formula, measured by warranty claims and outside rankings from Consumer Reports magazine and J.D. Power and Associates, the person said.

GM has said its top 100 earners are still covered under government pay restrictions. Cash salaries have been capped at $500,000, but further compensation can be made in stock. Many of the executives still will take home more than $1 million.

Chrysler's roughly 22,000 blue-collar workers were to get $750 in bonuses even though the company lost $652 million last year. It expects to post a net profit this year after revamping its aging model lineup. Chrysler salaried workers also were to get bonuses, despite a $12.5 billion government bailout.

GM's other Detroit-area competitor, Ford Motor Co., plans to pay its 40,600 U.S. factory workers a bonus of $5,000 each, the first such checks since 1999. The Dearborn, Mich., company, which avoided bankruptcy and did not get a government bailout, made $6.6 billion last year. It also plans to pay performance bonuses to white-collar workers, but it would not reveal the amounts.

Last month, Akerson said that GM would not give white-collar raises but would give bonuses tied to company performance. GM, he said, used to give annual raises all the time.

"Three percent times five years in a row is 15 percent added to your cost structure," he said. "All of the sudden you're starting to really narrow the possibilities and flexibility of any reaction to a downturn. It's very difficult to overcome," he said.


Associated Press Writer Ken Thomas in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report

Obama to cut spending - after his term ends - "most of those cuts would be held off until after the end of his first term" - Even if Obama is a crook who wants to steal every cent out of your wallet and give it to the special interest groups that helped him get elected you have to give him an A+ for his ability to shovel the BS!


Obama sends Congress $3.73 trillion budget vowing 'tough choices' but with record deficits


10:20 a.m. CST, February 14, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.73 trillion budget Monday that holds out the prospect of eventually bringing deficits under control through spending cuts and tax increases. [ If you believe Obama is going to bring the deficits under control I have some land in Florida I would like to sell you! ] But the fiscal blueprint largely ignores his own deficit commission's plea to slash huge entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Obama called his new budget one of "tough choices and sacrifices," but most of those cuts would be held off until after the end of his first term.

Overall, Obama proposed trimming the deficits by $1.1 trillion over a decade although his changes would actually add to the deficits this year and next. Obama is projecting the deficit will hit an all-time high of $1.65 trillion this year and then drop sharply to $1.1 trillion in 2012, with an expected improvement in the economy and as reductions in Social Security withholding and business taxes expire. [ Hmmm ... so Obama is going to spend our money like a drunken sailor now, and then magically cut spending next year! Hey! For this year I am going to eat nothing but ice cream, pies, candy and junk food and then next year I plan to go on a diet and lose 200 pounds in January! Honest! ]

Obama's 2012 budget would actually add $8 billion to the projected deficit for that year because the bulk of the savings he will achieve through a freeze in many domestic programs would be devoted to increased spending in areas Obama considers priorities, such as education, clean energy and high-speed rail.

"We have more work to do to live up to our promise by repairing the damage this brutal recession has inflicted on our people," Obama said.

Republicans, who took control of the House in the November elections and picked up seats in the Senate in part because of voter anger over the soaring deficits, called Obama's efforts too timid. Lawmakers are set to begin debating on Tuesday $61 billion in cuts for the remaining seven months of fiscal 2011.

"Presidents are elected to lead and address big challenges," said Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. "The big challenge facing our economy today and our country tomorrow is the debt crisis. He's making it worse, not better."

Obama's deficit commission made a host of painful recommendations including raising the Social Security retirement age and curbing benefit increases, eliminating or sharply scaling back popular tax breaks, reforming a financially unsound Medicare program and almost doubling the federal tax on gasoline. Obama included none of these proposals in his new budget. The deficit panel called for savings by making these politically tough choices of $4 trillion over a decade, four-times the savings that Obama is projecting.

The Obama budget plan, which is certain to be changed by Congress, would spend $3.73 trillion in the 2012 budget year, which begins Oct. 1, a reduction of 2.4 percent from what Obama projects will be spent in the current budget year.

Of the $1.1 trillion in deficit savings that Obama is projecting over the next 10 years, two-thirds would come from spending cuts including $400 billion in savings from a five-year freeze on domestic programs that account for one-tenth of the budget. The other one-third of deficit savings would come from tax increases such as limiting the tax deductions high income taxpayers, a proposal that Obama put forward last year only to have it rejected by Congress. Obama also proposes raising taxes on energy companies.

The president's projected $1.65 trillion deficit for the current year would be the highest dollar amount ever, surpassing the $1.41 trillion deficit hit in 2009. It would also represent 10.8 percent of the total economy, the highest level since the deficit stood at 21.5 percent of gross domestic product in 1945, reflecting heavy borrowing to fight World War II.

The president's 2012 budget projects that the deficits will total $7.21 trillion over the next decade with the imbalances never falling lower below $607 billion. Even then that would exceed the deficit record before Obama took office of $458.6 billion in 2008, President George W. Bush's last year in office. [ Proof that Republicans can steal our money and spend it like drunken sailors just as well as the Democrats do! ]

Administration officials project that the deficits will be trimmed to 3.2 percent of GDP by 2015 — one-third of the projected 2011 imbalance and a level they said would not harm the economy.

However, to achieve the lower deficits required the administration to assume the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would fall to $50 billion annually after 2012. The budget also fails to pay for the cost of keeping payments for doctors after 2013. Obama's budget also makes assumptions about economic growth that are more optimistic that many private economists. [Translation - assumptions is a politically correct word that means we won't have to say we are sorry for lying. ]

While cutting many programs, the new budget does propose spending increases in selected areas of education, biomedical research, energy efficiency, high-speed rail and other areas Obama judged to be important to the country's future competitiveness in a global economy.

In the energy area, the budget would support Obama's goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 and doubling the nation's share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

The budget proposes program terminations or spending reductions for more than 200 programs at an estimated savings of $33 billion in 2012. Programs targeted for large cuts included Community Development Block Grants, trimmed by $300 million. A program that helps pay heating bills for low-income families would be cut in half for a savings of $2.5 billion. Another program supporting environmental restoration of the Great Lakes would be reduced by one-fourth for $125 million in savings.

The biggest tax hike would come from a proposal to trim the deductions the wealthiest Americans can claim for charitable contributions, mortgage interest and state and local tax payments. The administration proposed this tax hike last year but it was a nonstarter in Congress.

Obama's budget would also raise $46 billion over 10 years by eliminating various tax breaks to oil, gas and coal companies.

While Obama's budget avoided painful choices in entitlement programs, it did call for $78 billion in reductions to Pentagon spending over five years. That would be achieved by trimming what it views as unnecessary weapons programs such as the C-17 aircraft, the alternative engine for the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and the Marine expeditionary vehicle.

Administration officials said that the savings from limiting tax deductions for high income taxpayers would be used to keep the Alternative Minimum Tax from hitting more middle-class families over the next two years.

The budget proposes $1 billion in cuts in grants for large airports, almost $1 billion in reduced support to states for water treatment plants and other infrastructure programs and savings from consolidating public health programs run by the Centers for Disease Control and various U.S. Forest Service programs.

The administration also proposed saving $100 billion from Pell Grants and other higher education programs over a decade through belt-tightening with the savings used to keep the maximum college financial aid award at $5,550.

The surge in deficits reflect the deep 2007-2009 recession, the worst since the Great Depression, which cut into government tax revenues as millions were thrown out of work and prompted massive government spending to jump-start economic growth and stabilize the banking system.

Republicans point to still-elevated unemployment levels and charge the stimulus programs were a failure. The administration contends the spending was needed to keep the country from falling into an even deeper slump.


Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor, Darlene Superville and Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.

We have won the war in Afghanistan - Honest! Well OK that's what the spin master General David Petraeus says. OK, even if the General is lying that sounds like a great excuse pretend we won the war in Afghanistan and get the f*ck out of their like we did when we pretended to win the war in Vietnam!

OK maybe he is lying. A couple of paragraphs they cover their butts and say - "It's going to be a couple of years before we know what these accomplishments mean" - Translation - Obama wants us to pretend we are winning the war so he can get reelected in 2012!

"It's going to be a couple of years before we know what these accomplishments mean."


General: Heart of Afghanistan insurgency beaten

By Jim Michaels, USA TODAY

By Heidi Vogt, AP

Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Mills, right, talks with Gen. David Petraeus, NATO's top commander in Afghanistan, on Jan. 10.

"This is really the heart of the insurgency," Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Mills said of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. "I believe they have been beaten."

The province is among the first targets of a surge of 30,000 U.S. servicemembers ordered into Afghanistan by President Obama in December 2009. The first Marines associated with the surge began arriving in the province shortly afterward.

At the time, the Taliban had control over Marjah, a center of the country's opium trafficking industry that the insurgents had used to pay for its fighters and supplies, according to the Pentagon. The Marines pushed the Taliban out of Marjah soon after and for months after moved into outlying areas, some of which saw heavy fighting.

The progress in Helmand province "shows you the momentum is shifting," said James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Loosening the Taliban's grip on the drug trade "could have a cascading effect in the years ahead," he said.

Other Afghanistan analysts say the battlefield successes must be followed by improvements in services and the economy if the Afghans who are liberated from Taliban rule are to cooperate with the Afghan government and coalition forces.

"We can hold with massive U.S. forces," said Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "We haven't shown that Afghan forces can hold.

"It's going to be a couple of years before we know what these accomplishments mean."

Mills said coalition forces have succeeded in disrupting the Taliban's ability to control and resupply its insurgents in Helmand province, and that militants have had to take refuge away from populated areas. "They've suffered defeat after defeat on the battlefield," Mills said.

The increased security has given the government an opportunity to win over the population. Mills said stores, schools and local businesses have been flourishing in areas that have been cleared and held by coalition and Afghan forces. "You saw a population that turned on the Taliban," he said.

Recently, Marines faced strong resistance in Sangin, a remaining insurgent stronghold. Mills said the city center is now relatively quiet.

"There is still a fight going on in certain outlying areas," he said of Sangin. In Helmand province, "They have certainly lost the momentum they had, and they have lost the support of the people within the province," said Mills.

Securing the neighboring province of Kandahar, traditional homeland of the Taliban, will be critical to turning the tide in Afghanistan, analysts say.

"My impression is it's harder to root out the Taliban in urban areas than in rural areas where they can be more easily isolated," Phillips said.

White House stops staging photo events for the media


White House shutters staged photos

by David Bauder - May. 13, 2011 12:00 AM

Associated Press

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 Post

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)


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.

Stanford protests Felipe Calderon's drug war

Stanford protests Felipe Calderon's drug war - No! 40,000+ dead!!! How many more?

Lucky this didn't happen at a speech by Emperor Obama, F-16 fighter planes would have shot the plane with the protest message out of the sky.

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

Obama ignored legal advice on Libya


Reports: Obama ignored advice on Libya

Jun. 18, 2011 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama decided he could continue the air war in Libya without congressional approval despite rulings to the contrary from Justice Department and Pentagon lawyers, according to a published report.

The president relied instead on the opinions of other senior administration lawyers that continuing U.S. participation in the air operations against the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi did not constitute "hostilities," triggering the need for congressional permission under the War Powers Resolution, the New York Times reported in its online edition Friday.

Among those reported to support the president's action were White House counsel Robert Bauer and State Department legal adviser Harold Koh, the paper said. Those opposed included Pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson and Caroline Krass, acting head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

One issue was reported to be whether firing missiles from drones amounted to hostilities.

Presidents can ignore the advice of the Office of Legal Counsel, but they rarely do so, the newspaper said.

The 1973 law prohibits the military from being involved in actions for more than 60 days without congressional authorization, plus a 30-day extension. The 60-day deadline passed last month with the White House saying it is in compliance with the law. The 90-day mark is Sunday.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Associated Press.

Hmmm... when Obama became President he ordered 30,000 new troops added to the war in Afghanistan. Now he is pretending to have won the war by removing 10,000 of those troops?

I think it's time we win the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq like we did in Vietnam. Pretend we won the war, bring the troops home, and let the local freedom fighters who kicked our asses regain control of their country.


Obama likely to cut 10K troops from Afghanistan

Posted 6/21/2011 3:16 PM ET

By Robert Burns And Julie Pace, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is expected to withdraw roughly 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan this year, with about 5,000 forces leaving this summer and an additional 5,000 Americans coming home by the end of the year, a senior U.S. defense official said Tuesday.

Obama could also announce a timetable for recalling the 20,000 other troops he ordered to Afghanistan as part of his December 2009 decision to send reinforcements to reverse the Taliban's battlefield momentum. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the plans before Obama's formal announcement. .

Obama spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that the president had finalized his decision on the withdrawal plan and would address the nation from the White House at 8 p.m. Wednesday. He said the president informed his national security team of his plans during a White House meeting Tuesday morning.

While Carney would not discuss the details of Obama's decision, he said the drawdown set to begin next month puts the U.S. on a path toward giving Afghans control of their own security by 2014.

A reduction this year totaling 10,000 troops would be the rough equivalent of two brigades, which are the main building blocks of an Army division. It's not clear whether Obama's decision would require the Pentagon to pull out two full brigades or, instead, a collection of smaller combat and support units with an equivalent number of troops.

Obama was given a range of options for the withdrawal last week by Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan. The military has favored a gradual reduction in troops but other advisers were advocating for significant decrease in the coming months.

The president has said he favors a "significant" withdrawal, his advisers have not quantified that statement.

At a democratic fundraiser in Washington Monday night, Obama said that by the end of the year, "we will be transitioning in Afghanistan to turn over more and more security to the Afghan people."

Following the announcement on the drawdown, Obama will visit troops Thursday at Fort Drum, the upstate New York military base that is home to the 10th Mountain Division, one of the most frequently deployed divisions to Afghanistan and Iraq.

While much of the attention is focused on how many troops will leave Afghanistan next month, the more telling aspects of Obama's decision center on what happens after July, particularly how long the president plans to keep the surge forces in the country.

Military commanders want to keep as many of those forces in Afghanistan for as long as possible, arguing that too fast a withdrawal could undermine the fragile security gains in the fight against the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, the al-Qaida training ground for the Sept. 11 attacks. There are also concerns about pulling out a substantial number of U.S. forces as the heightened summer fighting season gets under way.

Gates, who is retiring from the Pentagon next week, has said he believes the initial drawdown should be "modest."

But other advisers backed a more significant withdrawal that starts in July and proceeds steadily through the following months. That camp believes the slow yet steady security gains in Afghanistan, combined with the death of Osama bin Laden and U.S. success in dismantling much of the al-Qaida network in the country, give the president an opportunity to make larger reductions this year.

Gates said Monday that Obama's decision needs to incorporate domestic concerns about the war in Afghanistan into his decision on drawing down American troops there.

"It goes without saying that there are a lot of reservations in the Congress about the war in Afghanistan and our level of commitment. There are concerns among the American people who are tired of a decade of war," Gates said during a news conference at the State Department.

Twenty-seven senators, Democrats as well as Republicans, sent Obama a letter last week pressing for a shift in Afghanistan strategy and major troop cuts.

"Given our successes, it is the right moment to initiate a sizable and sustained reduction in forces, with the goal of steadily redeploying all regular combat troops," the senators wrote. "The costs of prolonging the war far outweigh the benefits."

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, differed with that assessment. He told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday that he agreed with Gates in hoping the withdrawal would be "modest."

"I believe that one more fighting season and we can get this thing pretty well wrapped up," McCain said.

There is broad public support for starting to withdraw U.S. troops. According to an Associated Press-GfK poll last month, 80 percent of Americans say they approve of Obama's decision to begin withdrawal of combat troops in July and end U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan by 2014. Just 15 percent disapprove.

Obama has tripled the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan since taking office, bringing the total there to about 100,000. The 30,000-troop surge he announced at the end of 2009 came with the condition that he would start bringing forces home in July 2011.

The president took months to settle on the surge strategy. This time around, aides say the process is far less formal and Obama is far more knowledgeable about the situation in Afghanistan than he was in 2009, his first year in office.

With the troop withdrawal set to begin next month, U.S. officials in Afghanistan said that military operations will become more focused and less ambitious over the coming three years. As troop levels decline the military will shift from a comprehensive counterinsurgency doctrine, which emphasizes small military-led development projects to gain the confidence of the local population, to counterterrorism, which focuses on capturing and killing insurgents, officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Obama has not announced the troop plan yet.

There are also indications that the administration, having learned from the U.S. experience in Iraq, will set deadline dates for the drawdown as it progresses, in order to keep pressure on the Afghans and give Congress mileposts.

With Iraq as a blueprint, commanders will need time to figure out what they call "battlefield geometry" -- what types of troops are needed where. Those could include trainers, intelligence officers, special operations forces, various support units -- from medical and construction to air transport -- as well as combat troops.

Much of that will depend on where the Afghan security forces are able to take the lead, as well as the state of the insurgency. Part of the debate will also require commanders to determine the appropriate ratio of trainers versus combat troops.


Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor and Matthew Lee in Washington and Solomon Moore in Kabul, Afghanistan contributed to this report.


Julie Pace can be reached at http://twitter/jpaceDC

Obama pretends to wage peace in Afghanistan

Obama shoveling the BS to get reelected in 2012

I want all the troops out NOW!!! In both Afghanistan and Iraq!

Obama pretends to support peace in Afghanistan so he can be reelected in 2012.

But even with his alleged removal of 30,000 troops in two years the war will be just as large as when he entered office and escalated the American war effort.


Obama: 30,000-plus surge troops leaving Afghanistan

Jun. 22, 2011 05:55 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Beginning to wind down a long and devastating war, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday night he was pulling home 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by next summer, withdrawing the "surge" of forces he had sent to rescue a flailing effort. Said Obama to a country eager for an exit: "The tide of war is receding."

A total of 10,000 troops will leave the war zone by the end of this year -- fulfilling Obama's promise -- and more than 20,000 additional forces will leave by the summer of 2012, shortly before the president will go before voters in search of a second term.

Still, almost 70,000 U.S. troops will remain in an unstable country, fighting in a war bound to see more Americans killed. Obama said they will leave at a steady pace, but the U.S. combat mission is not expected to end until December 2014 -- and even then, a sizable and enduring contingent may remain in a different role.

Obama's announcement from the White House came in a perilous political environment, with Americans soured on the war and the economy, many members of Congress pushing him to get troops home even faster, and his Republican presidential rivals taking shots at his leadership at every chance. Conceding the economic strain of waging war at a time of rising debt and fiscal constraint, Obama said it was time for America "to focus on nation building here at home."

The withdrawal is supported by the bold bottom-line claims of his security team: Afghanistan, training ground for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America, is no longer a launching pad for exporting terrorism and hasn't been for years. Yet the White House insists the U.S. must maintain a strong fighting force in Afghanistan for now to keep the country from slipping back into a haven for al-Qaida terrorists.

Obama said the materials recovered during the raid to get Osama bin Laden in Pakistan showed that the al-Qaida terror network was under deep strain. He said bin Laden himself expressed concern that his network would be unable to effectively replace senior leaders that had been killed.

The president declared, "We have put al-Qaida on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done."

Some fellow Democrats suggested Obama wasn't going fast enough. "We will continue to press for a better outcome," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

The president spoke for about 13 minutes from a silent East Room. It was a strategic moment for him to try to explain a turning point in the war effort without elevating it to a major Oval Office address -- more of a stay-the-course case of progress and resilience.

"Of course, huge challenges remain," the president said. "This is the beginning -- but not the end -- of our effort to wind down this war. We will have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we have made while we draw down our forces and transition responsibility for security to the Afghan government."

Significant questions still loom, including whether Afghanistan's government and security forces will be up to enormous job within a few years.

Yet Obama made clear the United States was ready to move on from a decade defined by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, at a cost at of thousands of lives lost and more than $1 trillion spent.

War monger John McCain will never shut up!!!!


Afghan drawdown risky, McCain says

by Erin Kelly - Jun. 23, 2011 12:00 AM

Republic Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is taking "an unnecessary risk" by withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan at a faster rate than his military generals recommend, Sen. John McCain said Wednesday.

The president should leave the 33,000 troops in place through another fighting season in 2012 to bring eastern Afghanistan under control and reinforce the progress that has been made since the troop surge began 18 months ago, McCain said in an interview.

"As president, you have the power to overrule your military leaders, but at the same time my conclusion is that it creates an unnecessary risk of failure in Afghanistan," McCain said.

The Republican senator from Arizona said he could have supported a modest withdrawal of about 5,000 troops as advocated by Gen. David Petraeus and other military leaders.

McCain said he understood that Obama was under pressure from many in Congress who want to cut federal spending.

The war has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $440 billion over 10 years and has become increasingly unpopular with the public.

"Listen, I understand the war weariness," McCain said. "But we have had over 1,500 young Americans sacrifice their lives in this war, and we have to make sure that wasn't in vain."

On the other side, Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, said the president was not withdrawing enough troops fast enough.

The congressman said he believed the president should have announced the withdrawal of at least half of the approximately 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with a timetable to withdraw the rest.

"This dribbling out of Afghanistan is not going to satisfy the American people, and I'm sure there's going to be a great deal of disappointment in Congress as well," Grijalva said.

Grijalva said his Arizona constituents have had enough of America's longest-running war.

"There has been an increasing voice from people who used to be supportive or neutral on the war who are now saying that we have a lot of problems here at home, we need to get people back to work, and we could use the money we're spending on this war to do just that," he said.

Support for the war has ebbed throughout the country. A Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday reported that 56 percent of those surveyed said the troops should be brought home as quickly as possible.

Whoppie! We won the war in Afghanistan. Well at least that is what Emperor Obama is telling us. Of course he is telling the public about how we won the war in Afghanistan just in time to help him get reelected in 2012.

Of course if we won the war, how come he isn't withdrawing ALL the troops?

One other comment. You mean we spend a trillion plus tax dollars in Afghanistan so "that markets were able to reopen and girls could go to school"?


Obama Will Speed Pullout From War in Afghanistan


Published: June 22, 2011

WASHINGTON — President Obama declared Wednesday that the United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan, setting in motion a substantial withdrawal of American troops in an acknowledgment of the shifting threat in the region and the fast-changing political and economic landscape in a war-weary America.

The troop reductions came after a short but fierce internal debate.

Asserting that the country that served as a base for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks no longer represented a terrorist threat to the United States, Mr. Obama declared that the “tide of war is receding.” And in a blunt recognition of domestic economic strains, he said, “America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home.”

Mr. Obama announced plans to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. The remaining 20,000 troops from the 2009 “surge” of forces would leave by next summer, amounting to about a third of the 100,000 troops now in the country. He said the drawdown would continue “at a steady pace” until the United States handed over security to the Afghan authorities in 2014.

The troop reductions, which were decided after a short but fierce internal debate, will be both deeper and faster than the recommendations made by Mr. Obama’s military commanders, and they will come as the president faces relentless budget pressures, an increasingly restive American public and a re-election campaign next year.

Only hours after Mr. Obama spoke, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said on Thursday that he would also begin drawing down the 4,000-strong French contingent in Afghanistan.

”Given the progress we have seen, France will begin a gradual withdrawal of reinforcement troops sent to Afghanistan, in a proportional manner and in a calendar comparable to the withdrawal of American reinforcements,” Mr. Sarkozy said in a statement issued by his office, Reuters reported.

Mr. Obama, speaking in businesslike tones during a 15-minute address from the East Room of the White House, talked of ending America’s longest war and of the painful lessons he thought could be taken from it. While justifying the nation’s decade-long commitment, he talked of “ending the war responsibly” and warned of the perils of overextending the military by sending large numbers of soldiers into combat. He acknowledged that huge challenges remained before an end to the conflict that has cost hundreds of billions of dollars and 1,500 American lives.

The withdrawals would begin winding down the military’s counterinsurgency strategy, which Mr. Obama adopted 18 months ago. Administration officials indicated that they now planned to place more emphasis on focused clandestine counterterrorism operations of the kind that killed Osama bin Laden, which the president cited as Exhibit A in the case for a substantial American troop reduction.

“We are starting this drawdown from a position of strength,” Mr. Obama said. “Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11.” He said that an intense campaign of drone strikes and other covert operations in Pakistan had crippled Al Qaeda’s original network in the region, leaving its leaders either dead or pinned down in the rugged border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Of 30 top Qaeda leaders identified by American intelligence, 20 have been killed in the last year and a half, administration officials said.

But the withdrawal of the entire surge force by the end of next summer will significantly change the way that the United States wages war in Afghanistan, analysts said, suggesting that the administration may have concluded it can no longer achieve its loftiest ambitions there.

Mr. Obama acknowledged as much in his remarks. “We will not try to make Afghanistan a perfect place,” he said. “We will not police its streets or patrol its mountains indefinitely. That is the responsibility of the Afghan government.”

Mr. Obama’s decision is a victory for Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has long argued for curtailing the military operation in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama indicated a willingness to move toward more focused covert operations of the type that the United States is conducting in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. “When threatened, we must respond with force,” he said. “But when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas.”

The pace of the withdrawal is a setback for the president’s top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, who has been named director of the Central Intelligence Agency. General Petraeus did not endorse the decision, said another official. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates argued publicly against a too-hasty withdrawal of troops, but he said in a statement on Wednesday that he supported Mr. Obama’s decision.

During the internal debate, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also expressed reservations about the scale of the reductions, officials said.

General Petraeus had recommended limiting withdrawals to 5,000 troops this year and another 5,000 over the winter.

He and other military commanders argued that the 18 months since Mr. Obama announced the troop increase did not allow for enough time for the Americans to consolidate the fragile gains that they had made in Helmand and other provinces.

But troops have succeeded in clearing many towns and cities of insurgents, and then keeping them safe so that markets were able to reopen and girls could go to school, for example.

Military officials say the withdrawal of American troops will impose limits on which areas of the country can be pacified. In particular, plans to pivot extra American troops from south and southwestern Afghanistan to volatile areas in the east, along the Pakistan border, will be curtailed or even canceled, officials said.

The effort to transfer responsibility for security to Afghan forces remains elusive because the Afghan troops are proving unprepared for the job. Corruption in the government of President Hamid Karzai continues to be rampant, sapping the confidence of many Afghans.

Still, the growing disenchantment in the United States with the war, particularly given the ballooning national debt, the country’s slow economic recovery and the whopping $120 billion price tag of the Afghan conflict this year alone, were all considerations weighed by the president. “Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war at a time of rising debt and hard economic times,” Mr. Obama said. “Now, we must invest in America’s greatest resource: our people.”

Republican presidential candidates including Mitt Romney and Jon M. Huntsman Jr. are demanding a swift withdrawal from Afghanistan, while Democrats complain that the cost of the war is siphoning money away from efforts to create jobs in the United States. Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, called on Mr. Obama to speed the withdrawal. “If we’re going to leave, we should leave,” he said in a statement. “The centralized system of government foisted upon the Afghan people is not going to hold after we leave. So let’s quit prolonging the agony and the inevitable.”

Highlighting the unusual political splits the war is causing, other Republicans criticized the president for pulling out too soon. Representative Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, suggested that Mr. Obama was playing politics with the troop reduction, saying, “The president is trying to find a political solution with a military component, when it needs to be the other way around.” He said the situation in Afghanistan was “very precarious,” and that the White House seemed to be panicking about the levels of violence.

Mr. Obama’s speech, delivered at dawn on Thursday, Kabul time, is expected to be the subject of a speech by Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, scheduled for later in the day. Senior figures in Mr. Karzai’s administration began signaling that they were comfortable with the withdrawal of 10,000 troops by year’s end.

Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said the Afghan National Army “has this capability and quantity to fill the gap of those places where the foreign troops withdraw and leave Afghanistan.”

“We are ready,” General Azimi said.

Muhammad Siddique Aziz, an adviser to Mr. Karzai on tribal affairs, said the withdrawal plan was acceptable, but he warned against a complete withdrawal of American troops before the Afghan government was strong enough to administer the country on its own. “I think they have to concentrate more on the Afghan government so when they leave, the government can stand up on its own,” Mr. Aziz said.

Obama expands the war in Afghanistan

When Obama became the American Emperor where were only 32,000 troops in Afghanistan.

American President Obama added a total of 50,000 more troops to the Afghanistan war. Obama sent in 20,000 troops there in early 2009, followed by 33,000 troops in December 2009.

Now Obama is pretending that we won the war, and pretending that he is withdrawing the troops.

Bottom line is what when Obama gets booted out of office in 2012, or gets reelected to the job of American Emperor there will be more troops in Afghanistan then when Obama became the American Emperor in 2008.


Obama slides toward Afghan exit

– Wed Jun 22, 10:23 pm ET

President Barack Obama is gambling that his gradual military withdrawal from Afghanistan won’t prompt the tribal country to spin out of control in the next 12 months, but will help him run as a jobs-and-growth candidate in the 2012 election.

“America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home,” Obama declared in his prime-time announcement from the White House.

“Let us responsibly end these wars, and reclaim the American Dream that is at the center of our story,” he said in a speech that segued into a campaign-style pitch for the 2012 election.

There were 32,000 troops in Afghanistan when Obama was inaugurated in January 2008. He sent 20,000 troops there in early 2009, and announced an extra surge of 33,000 troops in December 2009. Those extra troops have allowed the U.S. to counter-attack Taliban force in the south, and to persuade wavering tribes to abandon the Taliban’s coalition and rally to the central government, led by Hamid Karzai.

In his speech, Obama said he would withdraw 10,000 by the end of the year, and another 33,000 by September 2012. Most of the remaining 66,000 U.S. troops will then be withdrawn by the end of 2014, he said.

“We set clear objectives: to refocus on al Qaeda; reverse the Taliban’s momentum; and train Afghan Security Forces to defend their own country,” Obama said of the 2009 troop surge plan. “I also made it clear that our commitment would not be open-ended, and that we would begin to drawdown our forces this July.”

In his speech, Obama lowered the goals for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and invited the Afghan government to negotiate a deal with the Taliban, the ultra-orthodox Islamic group that hosted al Qaeda organizers of the 9/11 mass-murder.

“Our position on these talks is clear: they must be led by the Afghan government, and those who want to be a part of a peaceful Afghanistan must break from al Qaeda, abandon violence, and abide by the Afghan Constitution,” he said.

“The goal that we seek is achievable, and can be expressed simply: no safe-haven from which al Qaeda or its affiliates can launch attacks against our homeland, or our allies,” he declared in his speech.”

He did not call for democracy in Afghanistan, nor legal rights for women, nor did he call for military victory, nor did he mention the military sacrifice of U.S. allies, such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Holland. He did discuss Iraq, but largely as a painful war from which he has withdrawn 100,000 soldiers. He did not repeat his earlier description of Iraq as an emerging democracy and an potential ally.

Obama’s retreat from Afghanistan before the Islamic Taliban is defeated is militarily risky, because it may embolden Taliban attackers and fracture the central’s government shaky coalition. If additional U.S. troops are killed, or the country is split by war in the fall before the 2012 election, Republicans will likely pin the blame on the president.

Already, many Afghans have begun maneuvering for advantage in a post-American Afghanistan. An alliance of groups from Northern Afghanistan — “the Coalition for Change and Hope” — has openly split with Karzai’s government and begun to seek alliances with Southern anti-Taliban tribal leaders.

“This spits and realignments are unsurprising, said Ahmad Majidyar, a senior research at the American Enterprise Institute, “Because many leaders and communities were killed or wrecked in the civil-war that followed the retreat of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. A civil-war can be avoided only if the U.S acts as a honest broker and strong backer in the politically diverse country.”

Even as Obama downgraded U.S. goals in Afghanistan, he took time to justify his limited intervention in Libya’s spasmodic civil war as a reasonable balance between two foreign-policy extremes.

“When innocents are being slaughtered and global security endangered, we don’t have to choose between standing idly by or acting on our own,” he said, adding that the U.S. is “supporting allies in protecting the Libyan people and giving them the chance to determine their destiny.”

Obama ended his speech by pivoting to a campaign-style list of his domestic priorities intended to unite his activist base, allied business and advocacy coalitions, voter blocs and swing-voting independents.

“We must unleash innovation that creates new jobs and industry, while living within our means. We must rebuild our infrastructure and find new and clean sources of energy … we must recapture the common purpose that we shared at the beginning of this time of war [because] our nation draws strength from our differences, and when our union is strong no hill is too steep and no horizon is beyond our reach,” he said, before reiterating the speech’s theme, that “America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.”

His much-anticipated announcement was planned for the same day that two bad-news reports were expected to hit the media. In the morning, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the national debt would outgrow the nation’s annual income in 2021, and double again in another 15 years. The growth of health care spending contributes 80 percent of the problem, and the heavy debt will shrink the economy’s growth by 6 percent in 2025, and 18 percent by 2035, said the report.

That afternoon, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke delivered a bad-news economic message to the assembled TV cameras. “I believe slowdown is partly temporary and we’ll see greater growth going forward … [but because] we can’t explain the entire slowdown, growth in the near-term might be less than we anticipate.”

The Dow index fell by 80 points on Wednesday, further reducing hope of significantly reducing the nation’s unemployment rate of at least 9.1 percent before next year.

Left-leaning Democratic legislators and a widening slice of the Democratic base are urging withdrawal from Afghanistan, which is divided by steep mountains and a pre-modern tribal culture, exemplified by its many warring tribes.

For example, the left-of-center Center for American Progress has called for withdrawal of 60,000 troops by the end of 2012. But such groups aren’t likely to cause significant political difficulties for Obama. The CAP declared after the speech that “the president’s announcement to move 33,000 troops out by September 2012 is wholly justified by America’s national security interests.”

The successful killing in May of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden helps advocates who urge a troop-reduction make their case to the public. These advocates, who include Vice-President Joe Biden, say U.S. forces should be sharply reduced, and redirected away from counter-insurgency and nation-building, and towards a counter-terrorism strategy that would raid Al Qaeda hideouts whenever they are detected.

Republicans leaders are splitting over the Afghan campaign. National security hawks urged continued attacks on the Taliban in expectation that the Afghan government will gradually build an army that is cohesive enough enough to rule Afghanistan without much American help.

But other Republicans, including several candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, say they support a faster pullout. Yet some of the candidates, such as Gov. Mitt Romney or Gov. Tim Pawlenty, say they would seek military advice, or not establish a withdrawal time-line that could spur Taliban attacks.

Public support fades for President Obama's military actions against Libya

"[Obama] stated that the missiles, bombings and strafings are not hostilities"


As the House votes today, public support fades for President Obama's military actions against Libya

Americans' support for President Obama's attacks against Libya is suddenly crumbling.

A new Gallup poll out this morning finds that more than three months into the air assaults that were supposed to last days, not weeks, Americans are now more likely to disapprove than approve of the Democrat's military action.

The poll comes just two days after Obama, noting Americans' war fatigue with the 10-year conflict in Afghanistan, rejected more cautious advice from generals and ordered a sharp drawdown in American troops before the 2012 presidential election.

House Speaker John Boehner says that body will vote today on two resolutions on the Libyan war, one to limit the U.S. role in the allied action and one to support it, although the president has not sought such support nor authorization for the ongoing combat.

In a speech nine days after the first missiles struck, Obama said the air attacks on regime forces prevented bloodshed. He justified the attacks as being in the U.S. national interest because they prevented a possible "humanitarian crisis" of dictator Moammar Kadafi's troops killing innocent civilians.

Last week, in documentation delivered to Congress, the president said the conflict has so far cost in excess of $700 million and is projected to cost more than $1 billion by SepteLibya war a Crashed US F-15E on 3-22-11mber.

He stated that the missiles, bombings and strafings are not hostilities, a claim that Boehner said "defies rational thought."

Obama says such ongoing normal military activities with NATO allies are therefore not subject to the 1973 War Powers Act requiring presidential notification of Congress and approval or cessation within 90 days.

The 90-day limit on the Libyan action expired last Sunday. Bipartisan anger at Obama's attitude has been growing in recent days.

"This is primarily a fight between the Congress and the president over his unwillingness to consult with us before making this decision," the Republican said.

The new Gallup poll finds that overall American attitudes toward this third ongoing Middle Eastern conflict have shifted from 47% approve-37% disapprove in late March to 39% approve-46% disapprove on June 22.

Democrats' support for the attacks on Libya and Kadafi has remained stable since the assaults began March 19 as Obama toured South America.

Attitudes on the assault shifted most sharply among Republicans, with approval plummeting from 57% to 39% while disapproval climbed from 31% to 47%.

Among independents, who were a crucial part of Obama's victorious electoral coalition in 2008, approval dropped from 38% to 31% while disapproval rose from 44% to 52%, the highest disapproval among all political affiliations.

Gallup's questions probing voter objections determined they had little to do with the authorization issue that preoccupies Congress. That bothered only 29%.

However, 64% felt the United States simply shouldn't be involved in Libya at all.


Depends on what the meaning of "sex" "war" is

Depends on what the meaning of sex is - Depends on what the meaning of war is

Using tax dollars to get reelected

VP Joe Biden staff will start sending out tweets for him


VP Joe Biden's tweets paid for with taxpayer money!

Using tax dollars to get reelected - VP Joe Biden staff will start sending out tweets for him.

"Not to worry - like most politicians' tweets, Biden's will be staff-written"


Biden sends first-ever Tweet Monday

by ERICA WERNER - Jul. 4, 2011 10:39 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Now appearing on Twitter: Vice President Joe Biden.

The famously verbose veep sent his first-ever tweet Monday, a Fourth of July message from himself and wife Jill Biden asking Americans to take time to think about U.S. troops and military families.

His office announced the development with a post on the White House blog.

Given his gift for gab - not to mention gaffes - Biden might seem an unlikely candidate to say it in 140 characters or less. Not to worry - like most politicians' tweets, Biden's will be staff-written.

It's part of the White House's growing focus on social media. The White House regularly communicates via Twitter, as does President Barack Obama's re-election campaign. Obama has told supporters he'll personally author some of the campaign tweets.

On Wednesday the White House will even hold a Twitter town hall. Obama will take questions via Twitter, though he'll respond verbally. The official White House Twitter account, (at)whitehouse, [@whitehouse] has 2.25 million followers.

Biden's Twitter username is (at)VP. [@VP] His office said the account will keep followers posted on "all things happening in the Office of the Vice President," including Biden's travels and behind-the-scenes looks at his life.

Two civilian planes intercepted near Camp David

I wonder how long it will be before the trigger happy Secret Service agents

who guard the President will shoot down a civilian airplane for getting too

close to the American Emperor.


Two civilian planes intercepted near Camp David

ReutersBy Dan Whitcomb

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fighter jets intercepted two civilian planes in the vicinity of Camp David on Saturday, in separate incidents that both took place while President Barack Obama was there.

In both cases the planes were met by F-15 fighter jets and landed without incident at nearby airports, North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis said.

They marked the third and fourth such incidents in a month, all four of them taking place while Obama was at the Maryland presidential retreat.

The first plane, identified only as a civilian aircraft out of radio communication, was intercepted by a pair of fighter jets at about 12:17 p.m. local time on Saturday, Lewis said.

The second, a Cessna 210, was intercepted at about 6:56 p.m. on Saturday and was met by law enforcement at Carroll County Regional Airport in Maryland. No further details were immediately available.

Last Saturday, a small plane got within six miles of the presidential retreat before it was intercepted by an F-15 fighter jet.

And on June 11, fighter jets scrambled to guide another small plane away from the area without incident.

Camp David has been a presidential weekend and holiday retreat in the nearby Maryland mountains for decades.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Greg McCune)


Obama the tax and spend President - Same as Bush!

Obama the tax and spend President, just like Bush - Obviously the problem is not enough taxes!

Do as I say, not as I do!!!!

More of that "Do as I say, not as I do" from our government masters!

Obama motorcade fined in London for "congestion levies"


Jul 21, 2011

Obama motorcade fined in London

By Evan Vucci, AP

Presidential motorcades annoy some people, mostly because they back up traffic and sometimes because of environmental concerns.

One critic -- London Mayor Boris Johnson -- is in a position to do something about it.

Johnson has fined the United States 120 pounds -- some $200 -- in "congestion levies" from Obama's motorcade during his state visit to Great Britain in May.

It's the latest in a long-running feud between British officials and the U.S. embassy over previous (unpaid) fines.

The London Evening Standard reports:

Only one of the cars in the convoy is understood to have been issued with a fine, which the Americans refused to pay.

A Transport for London spokesman said: "Any vehicle, regardless of where it is registered, which is identified within the Congestion Charging Zone during the hours of operation without a valid charge, discount or exemption can be subject to a penalty. TfL pursues penalties from foreign registered vehicles that have not paid the charge."

The latest fines were issued as part of a long-running row with the US Embassy, which owes more than £5 million in unpaid congestion charge fines, having received more than 45,000 notices since its introduction in 2003.

Mr Johnson raised the issue with Mr Obama at a banquet at Buckingham Palace in a "very friendly conversation" in May.

He has argued that The Beast and the rest of the convoy should have paid the charge as London's roads were not closed - unlike during the Pope's visit last autumn, when the Popemobile was exempt.

The American Embassy defended the refusal by US diplomats to pay the C-charge insisting it was "wholly in accordance" with the 1960 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which a spokesman said "prohibits the imposition of this sort of tax on diplomatic missions".


Cough up! Obama's London convoy among foreign drivers that owe £50m in unpaid London congestion charges

By Daniel Martin

Last updated at 10:00 AM on 21st July 2011

Barack Obama has been landed with a £120 fine for not paying the congestion charge on his recent state visit to London.

The charge was levied on the U.S. President’s motorcade after his visit in May – but Obama’s own limousine, nicknamed the ‘Beast’, escaped a fine as roadside cameras were unable to capture a picture of the number plate.

The unpaid fine is part of more than £50million owed by diplomatic missions in the capital.

London Mayor Boris Johnson spoke to President Obama during his visit to ask him to pay the £10 congestion charge for each of the vehicles in the presidential motorcade.

But even though the US Embassy has refused to comply, only one of the cars in the convoy was issued with a fine.

The Beast, President Obama’s armour-plated limousine, escaped a fine because congestion charge cameras were unable to record its number plate as it was travelling slowly, close to other vehicles in the motorcade.

Figures released by the Foreign Office yesterday show the U.S. has now racked up more than £5million in 45,005 unpaid congestion charge fees since the scheme’s introduction in 2003. Around £50million is owed by foreign diplomats for entering central London

Around £50 million is owed by foreign diplomats for entering central London

Barack Obama was asked to cough up for his convoy's failure to pay the congestion charge Boris Johnson said he spoke with Barack Obama about the outstanding bill in a 'very friendly conversation'

Boris Johnson said he spoke with Barack Obama about the outstanding bill in a 'very friendly conversation'

It makes the US the largest offender out of 62 countries who have outstanding of more than £100,000.

Russia, Japan, Germany and Nigeria all have bills for unpaid congestion charge fines running into the millions

Russia, Japan, Germany and Nigeria all have bills for unpaid congestion charge fines running into the millions

The US embassy argues it should not pay because the 1960 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations ‘prohibits the imposition of this sort of tax on diplomatic missions’. However the British authorities say the charge is not a tax.

But the U.S. embassy argues it should not pay as the 1960 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations ‘prohibits this sort of tax on diplomatic missions’.

A spokesman for Transport for London said: ‘TfL pursues penalties from foreign registered vehicles that have not paid the charge.’

‘No Congestion Charge payments were made for the vehicles in the Presidential motorcade. TfL has issued penalty charges to the registered keepers where it was able to do so.’

A total of 14 countries owe more than £1million, including Russia (£4.4million), Japan (£3.5million), Germany (£3.4million) and Nigeria (£2.6million).

In addition, some £491,000 has been racked up in unpaid parking fines, including £27,700 from China after 257 unpaid fines. Second on the list is Afghanistan, with 245 unpaid fines totalling £25,800.


Whoops! Barack Obama Fined Over London Congestion Charge

by Mitch Marconi

It looks like being the President of the United States doesn't always get you a free pass when it comes to green paper.

President Barack Obama's presidential motorcade has been fined over the London congestion charge, but the president has reportedly refused to pay the issued fine for his presidential vehicle 'The Beast', as cameras photographing the motorcade was not able to capture a photograph of Obama's license plate number, as the 'Beast' was bumper-to-bumper with the other cars in the motorcade.

According to The Standard, Obama was fined over the London congestion charge he refused to pay. The initial charge was for £10, but now the fine has bumped up the amount to £120. Yikes.

A Transport for London (TfL) spokesman said: "Any vehicle, regardless of where it is registered, which is identified within the Congestion Charging Zone during the hours of operation without a valid charge, discount or exemption can be subject to a penalty. TfL pursues penalties from foreign registered vehicles that have not paid the charge."


Events that never happened

Events that never happened - Y2K, Swine flu, Carmageddon, Obama's change and hope

  Of course Y2K did happen, but it wasn't anywhere near as bad as the people in the media predicted it would. And it happened mostly on mainframe computers, not the PC pictured in the cartoon.

The swine flue H1N1 was mostly a government scare plot along with the medical industry to get more government welfare money for the medical industry. Of course it never materialized.

And of course last weeks Carmageddon was more of a media and government hype. So what another traffic jam on the San Diego Freeway (405) in Los Angeles. Big stinking deal.

And of course Obama's HOPE was a big lie. Obama sold out everybody that he promised to help. Obama screwed the gay crowd. Obama screwed the anti-war crowd. Obama screwed the medical marijuana crowd. Bottom line Obama is just a carbon copy clone of Emperor George W. Bush, who is a Democrat instead of a Republican.

Americans think Obama sucks?


Obama adviser: Numbers grim for '12 campaign

by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen - Aug. 4, 2011 10:44 AM


The politics of the debt fight were a drag for President Barack Obama, yanking his popularity to new lows. Here's an even bigger drag: Obama emerges from the months-long fracas weaker -- and facing much deeper and more durable political obstacles -- than his own advisers ever imagined.

The consensus has been that for all his problems, Obama is so skilled a politician -- and the eventual GOP nominee so flawed or hapless -- that he'd most likely be reelected.

Don't buy into it.

This breezy certitude fails to reckon with how weak his fundamentals are a year out from the general election. Gallup pegs his approval rating at a discouraging 42 percent, with his standing among independents falling 9 points in four weeks.

His economic stats are even worse. The nation has 2.5 million fewer jobs today than the day Obama took office, a fact you're sure to hear the Republicans repeat. Consumer confidence is scraping levels not seen since March 2009.

Where's the bright spot? Hard to see. Obama has few, if any, domestic achievements that enjoy broad public support. No one assumes employment, growth or housing prices to pick up much, if at all -- something Obama is essentially powerless to change. And the political environment and electoral map are significantly tougher than in 2008, especially in true up-for-grabs states.

"The historical precedents of what happens to incumbent presidents in these economic circumstances are not positive or encouraging," said Geoff Garin, a top Democratic pollster. "There has been a false sense of confidence among a lot of Democratic activists."

Obama advisers acknowledge the challenges posed by the economy but argue that voters will like his rescue of the auto industry, signing of Wall Street reform, championing of new restrictions on credit-card issuers, repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," investments in clean energy and victory on insurance protection for people with pre-existing conditions.

"We're spending the year building infrastructure in the states to ensure that we can compete on the widest playing field possible in 2012," said Ben LaBolt, press secretary for Obama's reelection campaign. "We are evaluating potential pickup opportunities [like Arizona and Georgia], and believe there are many paths to victory."

Privately, however, Obama's team is concerned about the factors beyond its control, talking of an imminent need to retool their economic message and strategy heading into 2012. Absent the president's ability to defy political gravity, one Obama adviser conceded, "The numbers add up to defeat."

Based on interviews with a wide array of top government and political officials, here's why the adviser might be onto something:


Fast-forward a year or so, when voters are starting to tune in, and the Republican nominee will be able to pluck economic data -- not spin, empirical data -- to make the following case against Obama:

"We were promised hope and change -- but instead life has been a drag in the Obama years. Millions of people lost jobs, saw the value of their house drop every month he's been in office, never realized the economic growth he promised and were so cash-strapped they couldn't buy the big-ticket items they were used to."

No Republican has harnessed all the available data to make the broader case against the president.

One will. And Obama's advisers don't expect the data points to change much by the time the attacks start rolling in.

The White House anticipates unemployment at 8.25 percent, and Goldman Sachs and others warn the number could be higher -- close to 9 percent, which would mean no net job growth after the biggest stimulus package in the history of the world. No president has won reelection when unemployment was higher than 7.2 percent in 50 years.

Median home values have declined every month Obama has been in office, too, according to Zillow, which monitors real estate markets. The site's chief economist now predicts home value won't bottom out until 2012 "or later." So, the one asset Americans relied on for wealth -- and until the crash, for spending money -- will be the biggest concern for many.

And because economic growth never lived up to the expectations set early by different White House officials at different times -- remember "the summer of recovery"? -- voters simply don't have the money or confidence to buy big things like they used to.

The auto industry is on pace to sell nearly 30 percent fewer new cars than it did a decade ago, and the sales of stoves and ovens haven't been this low since 1992, according to David Leonhardt, The New York Times columnist who often defends the Obama administration's economic policies. He provided Republicans some handy stats last month in a column with the stark conclusion: "We are living through a tremendous bust."

Democratic Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley worries that Obama will be blamed for a "jobs crisis" -- and that he realized the danger too late. "The president's reelection depends on people understanding that he wakes up every day searching for ways, and fighting as hard as he can, to save and create jobs," O'Malley said in a phone interview. "If the president has made a mistake, it's that he hasn't gone far enough on reinvestment and stimulus and recovery."

Obama will argue -- and he will be correct -- that he alone isn't to blame for any of this. And by the fall of 2012, the economy should be gaining steam as the economic cycle turns upward. A late recovery, however, might be too late to matter, just as it was for the first George Bush. But you go to the campaign with the economic facts you have, not the ones you want.


The backdrop for the economic debate has been, is and will remain the broader argument about the size of government -- and debt.

The new litmus tests for GOP presidential candidates are the Paul Ryan Medicare plan and repealing the Obama health care plan, both of which go straight to the heart of this philosophical fight about the scope of government. For that reason alone, it is unimaginable that debt doesn't become an even bigger issue in the presidential election.

The size-of-government spat is a hard one for the president to win.

By the time the next election rolls around, the government will have taken on almost $7 trillion in debt under Obama. It's hard to explain away a number so big.

Republicans will find clever ways to make that number more digestible, including handy stats such as reducing that amount to $22,500 in new debt for every man, woman and child in the nation -- enough to pay for a new Toyota Corolla for each of them.

Or look at it from another vantage point.

In the past four years, the average voter has grown more dependent on government for his or her income than at any point since at least 1929, when such numbers were first tracked.

This means Social Security, Medicare and unemployment are the big income drivers -- not new jobs and bigger salaries.

"The big issue for him will be whether people see light at the end of the tunnel when they ultimately vote," Democratic Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire said in a telephone interview. "The people in my state want to hear that there is a good and bright and sound future. The average person is really concerned."

White House officials agree, which is one reason they are willing to take on their liberal base to get a deal on debt now -- and tax reform in the next six months.


All of these points meet on the electoral map, which isn't looking great for Obama.

The country seems to hate all of Washington, where as in 2008 it was much more down on the GOP and the Bush years.

And putting aside the bleak psychological climate Obama faces as he starts his run, the physical terrain -- the states needed to add up to 270 electoral votes -- looks more difficult than Democratic officials had expected even a few months ago. Obama's electoral map from 2008 will be tough to duplicate, with all three perennial bellwethers -- Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania -- once again up for grabs.

The states Obama won in 2008 have lost six electoral votes, complicating his quest. And in most of the nine states Obama won that Sen. John Kerry lost in 2004 -- Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada, Virginia and Colorado -- Democrats took a drubbing in the midterms. One poll has half the voters in Ohio down on Obama's job performance, for instance.

Democrats say they are encouraged that the Republican governors in three critical states -- Rick Scott in Florida, John Kasich in Ohio and Scott Walker in Wisconsin -- have taken a hit in polls in recent months and look as if they may be less help to the Republican nominee than they would be if they were politically stronger.

Looking at Obama's 2008 swing-state wins, Democrats have all but given up on Indiana and know that he will have trouble keeping two other traditionally red states, Virginia and North Carolina; may have been hurt in Florida by unhappiness in the Jewish community about Obama's handling of Israel; and will have a dogfight for the Rust Belt prizes of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan (where one respected state poll had him narrowly lagging Romney). Obama's reelection strategy depends on running strong in the Mountain West, most critically in Colorado.

But without at least a couple of the traditional bellwether states, Obama will be a one-term president.


A big hurdle for the president is the unpopularity of the very policies that his team thought would be big accomplishments in the first term.

Obama delivered on his promise to help prevent an economic collapse early on, help save the auto industry, crack down on Wall Street and then enact the most sweeping expansion of government-supported health care coverage since the 1960s. It's not clear he's getting much of a political boost for any of it.

A top Democratic strategist who is close to the White House said that Obama's first-term record "is going to be, on balance, probably a liability" for his reelection, partly "because of the failure to sell and explain the things that they were doing."

"I believe history will judge what they did to be correct," the strategist said. "But the failure to communicate why they were doing it has meant that there is such confusion. ... It's ground he's going to have to make up, rather than things he's going to be able to run on."

Polls show his economic policy, the health care law and the auto bailout get positive reviews from fewer than half of voters. Hard to see how that changes.

Mark Penn, chief strategy for Hillary Clinton in 2008 and CEO Worldwide of Burson-Marsteller, said "the biggest problem is that he has not accumulated enough domestic accomplishments that people can easily recall. He either has to start accumulating them as [President Bill] Clinton did -- and a budget deal is a big opportunity -- or he has to convince people that he has the right policies overall -- they just haven't worked yet."


Even in good times, Obama would have a tough reelection. The 2008 election -- featuring a weak GOP candidate, in a terrible political environment for Republicans -- obscured the inescapable fact of modern politics: This is a 50-50 nation, controlled at the presidential level by independents.

Obama gets this. There is a reason he shifted so quickly to being a Bill Clinton centrist after the 2010 congressional defeats. He knows the key to reelection is winning back the independent voters who helped elect him -- and then bolted in the face of his health care push. It helps explain why after largely ignoring debt in the first two years -- then again after his own debt commission offered a clear path in November, then again with State of the Union speech, then again with his first proposed budget for next year -- he became the champion of a $4 trillion debt reduction plan. It's called survival politics.

He entered office with 62 percent support among independents. But they took flight in the spring of 2009 -- and have never returned. Those voters helped Republicans win the off-year gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, now-Sen. Scott Brown's race in Massachusetts a few months later, ultimately control of the House -- and, more important but less talked-about, many state legislatures around the country.

Make no mistake: Obama brings some advantages to the race, not least of which is the continued strong support of black and Hispanic voters and young people. Voters generally seem to find him likable and hard-working and uniformly give him higher marks than Republicans in Congress.

Obama will do his best to paint his opponent as extreme -- if not personally, then as the head of a party beholden to the tea party. The GOP candidate will be implicitly asking these independent voters to, in effect, reverse the history they made just four years earlier and vote out the first African-American president in U.S. history.

At the same time, he's been mired in the low 40s in the Gallup Poll for more than two years, with episodic bumps (including after the bin Laden killing) that prove fleeting. As president, Obama will have opportunities to boost his standing and a big megaphone to try to win over voters to his side, but this could just as easily remain the same or worsen as the economy drags.


Bill Burton, the former White House official who now runs the pro-Obama super-PAC known as Priorities USA Action, nicely sums up the dominant strand of Democratic thinking these days.

The president faces "pretty tremendous headwinds," Burton said, but Republicans will never nominate a broadly appealing candidate who can "make an effective argument on the economy."

That might be wishful thinking.

There is broad agreement among the most powerful Republicans that they need to nominate a candidate who doesn't get spooled up over social issues but instead focuses maniacally on the economy and size of government. This helps explain Mitt Romney's early success, despite running a rather dull campaign. Numerous social conservatives have told POLITICO they are happy to stand down on distracting social fights if they get an authentic conservative who can prevail in the economic fight.

It is true Romney and other GOP candidates still trail Obama, and likely will, well into next year. But a Gallup Poll from last month shows how that could change once the messy primary season ends, and the Republican nominee darts back to the middle. The poll found Obama trailing a generic Republican, 47-39.

Another assumption among top Democrats is that Obama, who will very likely raise between $750 million and $1 billion for various parts of his reelection efforts, will benefit decisively from the use of overwhelming force, burying his opponent with ads before lift-off.

No doubt, the most recent fundraising data support this theory. Obama easily outraised the GOP field combined.

One comforting possibility to Democrats is that the GOP's supposed savior might end up being Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a candidate who surely would remind middle-of-the-road voters of another Texas governor who just exited the political scene and whom they were happy to see gone.

But two things trouble Democratic insiders.

First, it is clear many of the most prolific GOP fundraisers are sitting on the sidelines -- but only for now. Operatives in both parties paid close attention to a smart story by USA Today showing that only one in five of John McCain's elite fundraisers is working on behalf of a current GOP candidate. The same is true for many of former President George W. Bush's elite money men and women.

This provides plenty of room for a new, more broadly electable, establishment-backed candidate such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to jump in, or for Romney or another current candidate to eventually pull this hugely influential group off the sidelines.

The second troubling sign is a persistent -- and probably irreparable -- rift between Obama and many small and large business leaders. The White House worked hard after the 2010 elections at reconciliation, but there are few signs it worked.

Several top CEOs have said they and others will get into this race in a big way eventually, often by exploiting the Supreme Court ruling that allows them to funnel unlimited sums of money into presidential politics without fingerprints. At a private meeting the billionaire founder of Home Depot arranged last week between wealthy donors, including some Democrats, and Christie, the main rant in the room was that Obama was hostile to free markets and needed to be stopped.

If rich business leaders get off the sidelines, the big financial edge everyone expects Obama to enjoy could be a mirage.

Obama's political advisers are sounding this alarm to any liberal donor who will listen, worried that their own biggest contributors are growing complacent. But its been hard to re-create the magic of 2008 -- which just might be Obama's biggest problem.

Us serfs to pay for Emperor Obama's reelection bus campaign

I guess us serfs will pick up the tab for Emperor Obama's reelection bus campaign.


White House claims Obama’s bus tour is presidential, so taxpayers will fund it

August 5, 2011 | 5:10 am

Somehow, from somewhere, a bright political strategist on the president's reelection team has come up with the idea of sending Obama out in a bus on Midwestern roads in two weeks, just like real Americans, or real Americans who can still afford a short summer road trip.

The spectacle of a passing politician's bus and waving citizens provides grand visuals for TV during the usually slow summer news days. The president of the United States might even happen upon a curbside lemonade stand operated by surprised children who deserve the kind of future he has in mind for all Americans. And more of that.

Not so good visuals of the trailing motorcade of press buses, Secret Service SUVs, SWAT team vans and communications cars. Nor the angry motorists stalled nearby because the highway and every on- and off-ramp has been closed by uniformed motorcyclists wearing large guns.Obamatalks Debt at another Podium 8-2-11

But a presidential bus tour could help refresh the image of this poll-plagued Democrat a year before his renomination for POTUS.

For weeks now Obama's only been seen at a pompous lectern lecturing members of Congress about the need to raise the national debt limit so he can make new "investments" in America's future and avoid default.

Or he's been seen reminiscing about the good old disastrous days of 2008 with Windy City poobahs who dropped $35,800 each to say they had dinner with the president.

Or Obama could not be seen in closed-door meetings with union leaders, who really liked the $787 billion stimulus plan but don't like any of this spending cut talk. As one result, Obama's job approval has never been lower.

So, on Aug. 15-17 he'll set out from somewhere and go somewhere else in a bus. You wouldn't announce your itinerary until the last minute either if you had Republicans itching to buy critical billboards along the route. And compute how few miles per gallon your big bus gets.

Political road tours do have other dangers. Remember Democrat John Edwards' bus breaking down on an icy Iowa roadside in early 2008, providing an irresistible media metaphor for his campaign on life-support?

So, where's the commander-in-chief going? Politically, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan make strong sense. Yes, they're all run by Republicans now after last November's Democratic debacle. But Obama's got to retake at least two of them if he hopes to keep putting his feet up on that Oval Office desk.

However, according to Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney, the 72-hour bus trip is not political. (Laughter) No, really. Carney told doubting reporters this week, "The air of cynicism is quite thick. The idea that the president of the United States should not venture forth into the country is ridiculous."

Carney was fed such lines during his reporting days. But he persevered with the president's pitch: "It is absolutely important for the president, whoever that person is, in the past and in the future, to get out and hear from the people in different communities." Scroll down to watch Carney attempt to make that case on video.

The main trip topics will be the economy and jobs, he said. And no one would suspect the topics have anything to do with more discouraging employment figures expected out this morning.

Anyway, because the bus trip is so clearly presidential, America's taxpayers will be footing the bill for the non-political, three-day Obama odyssey through politically important Midwestern battleground states.

After all, taxpayers covered all the costs of Sarah Palin's successful One Nation bus tour back in June. Oh, wait. No, they didn't. Her political action committee paid for that.

75-year-old pilot explains encounter with F-16s


75-year-old pilot explains encounter with F-16s

APBy DON BABWIN - Associated Press | AP – 23 hrs ago

CHICAGO (AP) — Myrtle Rose was taking a short flight over suburban Chicago when the 75-year-old aviation enthusiast looked out her cockpit window to see two F-16 fighter jets. She assumed the military pilots were just slowing down to get a closer look at her antique plane.

It wasn't until she landed her 1941 Piper J-3 Cub that friends and the police told her the attention was much more serious — for straying into restricted airspace during a visit by President Barack Obama.

Rose, who tries to fly every day when weather permits, said she had been itching to get back in the air Wednesday after a number of days on the ground. She normally uses her computer to check for airspace restrictions, but it wasn't working properly.

"I hadn't flown in over a week," she said. "It was a beautiful afternoon." After some guests departed her home, she "just climbed in the airplane and left."

To make matters worse, she said, "I didn't have my radio on. I was just flying around."

On any other day, the brief flight would never have attracted notice. But Obama was in Chicago for a fundraiser marking his 50th birthday.

"There's really no excuse for not knowing," said Lt. Col. Mike Humphreys, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which scrambled the two warplanes, a proposition that costs $9,000 an hour for each jet. "Anyone who flies an aircraft should know the restrictions."

Rose said she was about 30 miles from O'Hare Airport when her plane was intercepted. As the fighters appeared, she wasn't alarmed.

"I thought, 'Oh, well, they're just looking at how cute the Cub is," she said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press. The blue-and-yellow plane had won a best-in-class award at the Oshkosh Air Show, a huge annual gathering in Wisconsin.

Another NORAD representative suggested Rose had no business thinking that a military jet racing toward her would be in any way related to the cuteness of her plane.

"The biggest thing to keep in mind is that when F-16s come screaming up to you, they are probably trying to tell you something," spokeswoman Stacey Knott said.

Rose, who has been flying since the mid-1960s and even performed as a wing walker until five or six years ago, said the jet pilots could not have been more considerate.

Though she never saw their faces — hard to do, she said, since she was puttering along at about 60 mph and the jets were doing what she figured was about 300 mph — she was impressed with the way the pilot who pulled in front of her kept his distance to avoid rattling her wood-and-fabric plane.

"He was very respectful," she said.

Rose returned to land on the grass airstrip at her home in the affluent South Barrington area. Her late husband owned Rose Packing Co., a meat packer that supplies Canadian bacon to McDonald's restaurants.

Once she was on the ground, some friends rushed over and told her that the rendezvous had nothing to do with the good looks of the plane named Winston. After the aircraft was in the hangar, her yard began filling with police cars.

Rose said she filled out a report with the Federal Aviation Administration, including a note describing how she mistakenly believed the jets were circling to admire her plane. She said she has not heard from the agency.

FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory said the investigation would probably take several weeks. Penalties could include a fine or a suspension of her pilot's license, or the agency might not take any action at all.

Rose, a Republican who said she did not vote for Obama, joked about mailing the president a note for his birthday.

"Oh, dear, maybe I should send him a belated birthday card and say, 'You should have stayed home and Michelle baked you a birthday cake.'"

Rose said she does have a bone to pick with NORAD, or whoever released the information about her close encounter with the jets.

"The worst part is they put my age in there," she said. "I don't think that was nice."

Obama 1776

Obama - 1776


US thieves in DC know more about the economy then S&P - Trust us!


Obama calls U.S. AAA nation despite AA+ Rating

Aug. 8, 2011 11:12 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Monday essentially dismissed the first-ever downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, reassuring investors and the public that the nation's leaders need only show more "common sense and compromise" to tame a staggering accumulation of debt.

Seeking to demonstrate command in a volatile economic climate, Obama said he hoped the decision by Standard & Poor's would at least give Congress a renewed sense of urgency to tackle debt problems. He said that must be done mainly by taking on the politically difficult issues of reforming taxes and entitlement programs in the coming months.

In his first public comments on the credit downgrade, which S&P announced Friday, Obama said Washington had the power to fix its own political dysfunction. [ But I can assure you that the thieves in Washington, D.C. won't stop raping us taxpayers and serfs they rule over. ]

"Markets will rise and fall," he said. "But this is the United States of America. No matter what some agency may say, we've always been and always will be a triple-A country."

Obama does a great job shoveling the BS!

Obama is great at shoveling the BS. Sadly people buy this BS!


Obama's penchant for speeches now sounding hollower by the word

August 9, 2011 | 2:10 am

This is the 931st day of the Barack Obama presidency.

Yesterday Obama gave a strange statement to the media. He'd been away on another mini-vacation at Camp David. So, it was left to aides and Treasury Secy. Geithner to attempt to discredit the first-ever credit downgrading of the federal government.

Every politician has at least one major weakness. Bill Clinton's is, well, well-known. George W. Bush's political weakness was thinking his intuition and instincts could carry him through any challenge. Barack Obama's weakness is thinking he can talk his way in or out of virtually any opportunity or difficulty.

Being a Real Good Talker helped him get the job heading the law review. And entering politics. And succeeding early there, albeit within Chicago's rigged system. And being an RGT thrust him onto the national stage at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 when delegates had the foolish notion that John Kerry and John Edwards could win.

Obama is very proud of his talking. In May this year he told a Boston fundraiser: "Back in 2004, I gave a little speech here that got some attention." And he waited for the crowd's applause. Which he got.

Have you noticed how many remarks Obama has been making in recent weeks? Not a coincidence that they coincide with his lowest approval ratings ever.Obama reads Debt remarks from his Teleprompter 8-8-11 When in trouble, give a speech. Even if there's no visible audience.

Calling on Congress to do this and that. Calling for more job creation. Calling for green cars and more windmills. Calling for a balanced approach from others when he had none of his own.

Claiming his positions were quite clear, when they weren't. Calling for compromise between Republicans and Democrats, as if he was in the middle and not the nation's top Democrat.

So, it was natural Monday when -- after a weekend's stewing, global markets reacted negatively to the U.S. downgrade -- Obama's instinct tempted him to make a public statement.

Military aside, this may be any president's most powerful tool. Say something, anything. Everyone listens. And obediently runs off to alert the world. Just don't permit media questions that might create other news to clutter the message.

So aides loaded his Teleprompter with 1,531 words. And off Obama went, as he so often does. If you listened to his words, they sounded fine, although dragging the slain U.S. soldiers in at the end of fiscal remarks felt forced.

But if you read the full statement, as anyone could right here on The Ticket, you kept waiting for the point, the real rhetorical reason for the remarks. Like a grand restaurant with the most romantic atmosphere, crackling fireplace, flickering candles, exquisite place settings. And with impressive style the waiter proudly serves an empty plate -- and awaits your awe.

Trouble is, real leadership is more than talking and calling for things. It takes a while, but over time listeners begin to notice rote rhetoric, predictable patterns, empty words. An example:

We didn’t need a rating agency to tell us that we need a balanced, long-term approach to deficit reduction. That was true last week. That was true last year. That was true the day I took office.

The day Obama took office, 931 of them ago. Subsequently, in his Monday remarks the president said this:

I intend to present my own recommendations over the coming weeks on how we should proceed.

Over the coming weeks? The need for a balanced, long-term approach was clear the day he took office $3+ trillion dollars ago and sometime soon he'll share his plans?

Obama is still saying, 'Yes, we can.' But he never explains why we haven't.

Then more solicitous empathizing:

The American people have been through so much over the last few years, dealing with the worst recession, the biggest financial crisis since the 1930s, and they’ve done it with grace. And they’re working so hard to raise their families, and all they ask is that we work just as hard, here in this town, to make their lives a little easier.

This from the guy who doesn't have a long-term deficit reduction plan 133 weeks in and just stepped from his helicopter after two days off in the Maryland mountains.

No wonder the markets plunged 200 more points as he talked.

Obama - don't blame me, it's Bush's fault?

Wasn't that his promise? To fix the things Bush and the Republicans f*cked up? Of course Obama didn't deliver his promise and now he is saying it's not his fault.

Of course if you analyze things you will soon figure out that government is the CAUSE of the problem, not the solution to the problem.


Obama says he inherited economic problems

ReutersBy Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday he inherited many of the country's problems with high debt and deficits when he entered the White House, sounding a theme likely to dominate his 2012 re-election campaign.

Speaking at a Democratic fundraiser, where families paid $15,000 to get a picture with him, Obama defended his economic record and noted that problems in Europe were affecting the United States.

"We do have a serious problem in terms of debt and deficit, and much of it I inherited," Obama said. The financial crisis, he said, made the problem worse. [OK, maybe that's true. But didn't you promise to fix all of these problems Bush and the Republicans created?]

Democrats and Republicans agreed to a deal to raise the debt ceiling and cut government spending last week, but credit rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the United States, contributing to a steep fall in stock markets on Monday.

Obama noted that the United States had seen 17 months of consecutive private-sector job growth, rising corporate profits and stabilized credit markets under his watch. [So I guess Obama wants us to believe that his great and exalted Presidency caused this?]

"What's absolutely true, even before these last couple days in the stock market, is that recovery wasn't happening fast enough," he said. "When you have problems in Europe and in Spain and in Italy and in Greece, those problems wash over into our shores," he said.

Some 140 people attended the fundraiser, which was held at a private home.


Obama, who is ramping up his fundraising after taking a hiatus while the debt-ceiling debate raged in Washington, said the deficit issue would provide a clear contrast for voters in the 2012 race for the White House. [Is Obama promising to fix all our problems in 2012?]

"What we're going to have is 16 months in which we debate this vision for America, and it's going to be as fundamental a debate as 2008," he said.

"In some ways it may be even a more profound debate because the contrast is going to be clear and it's going to be sharp."

Obama is pressing for Congress to extend a payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance to help boost the economy, but he expressed skepticism that lawmakers would get a lot done. [So don't blame Obama, it's Congress's fault? OK, I guess that is true? But why did Obama lie and tell us HE could solve all our problems?]

"As president of the United States my job is to work with Congress to try to get as much done as possible," he said.

"Whether we're going to see any progress out of this Congress right now -- because so far we haven't seen much when it comes to innovative ideas that actually put people to work and grow the economy -- remains to be seen."

Under the debt-ceiling agreement, a "super committee" in Congress will find further ways to tackle the deficit in the coming months. Obama said on Friday he would outline his own recommendations for that committee.

At a separate event for potential campaign donors on Monday, Obama previewed what could make up those recommendations, saying revenues needed to be raised, the tax code would have to be reformed, and modest adjustments to the Medicare healthcare program would have to be enacted.


Obama's Gallup numbers show 12 states in play in 2012

By David Lauter, Los Angeles Times

August 15, 2011, 6:48 a.m.

Twelve states constitute the likely battlegrounds for the 2012 election, based on Gallup’s state-by-state ratings of President Obama’s approval level.

The ratings, which aggregate Gallup polling done from January through June, came out just as Gallup was releasing its latest tracking poll showing Obama’s approval nationwide at 39%, the lowest in his presidency. If Obama’s national approval remains stuck at that level -- or even in the low 40s – then state-by-state assessments probably won’t matter much. Historically, presidents don’t win re-election with that sort of approval rating.

But assuming Obama can move his national numbers back upward, then the 16 states plus the District of Columbia in which he had approval of 50% or better this spring can reasonably be considered his electoral base. They have 215 electoral votes.

At the other end of the scale, there were 22 states where Obama’s approval was below 43% during the spring. Those states, plus Mississippi, where his approval was 45%, but which he stands virtually no chance of carrying, constitute the GOP base, with 168 electoral votes. (Mississippi is a special case because of the racial polarization in its voting; Obama is extremely popular among blacks, who make up almost 40% of the state’s electorate, and very unpopular among whites in the state).

There are 12 states in between. Not all of them will end up being in play – some are likely to prove out of Obama’s reach early on. And although some states may drop off the list, it’s unlikely that many will move onto it. One exception could be New Hampshire – a state that Obama carried in 2008 but in which he is currently quite unpopular. It could become competitive again, depending on the GOP nominee. There are also a few states in Obama’s base that moved sharply toward the GOP in the 2010 election, notably Wisconsin and Minnesota, which the White House still has to worry about.

For now, however, the battleground dozen in the middle of Gallup’s rankings have 155 electoral votes, and to win, Obama would have to capture 55 of those while holding his base. The battlegrounds, which also appear on lists drawn up by strategists in both parties, are two perennial swing states, Florida (29) and Ohio (18); Iowa (6); three in the South, Virginia (13), North Carolina (15) and Georgia (16); and five states in the West, Oregon (7) plus a grouping in the interior West made up of Nevada (6), Arizona (11), New Mexico (5) and Colorado (9). For those states, Obama would have to depend on a large Latino turnout. The Southern states would require a heavy turnout among blacks plus support from moderate-to-liberal suburban whites.

Gallup’s numbers come from its daily nationwide tracking polls, which surveyed 89,965 adults, age 18 and older, between Jan. 2-June 30.

Secret Service buys two $1.1 million buses for Emperor Obama's Midwest campaign trip


Secret Service using new $1.1 million buses for Obama Midwest trip

By Associated Press, Published: August 15

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is traveling the Midwest on a new $1.1 million bus purchased by the Secret Service, an impenetrable-looking conveyance the size of a cross-country Greyhound, painted all in black, with dark tinted windows and flashing red and blue lights.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan emphasized that the bus wasn’t purchased solely for the president and would be used for other dignitaries in the future. He said the agency has not previously had buses in its fleet and was overdue to get some since it’s had to protect politicians traveling by bus for decades.

In the past, the service has had to lease buses and retrofit them for that purpose.

Donovan said two buses were purchased and one is being used by Obama as he travels through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. Both will be used by other officeholders and candidates.

Donovan declined to comment on the buses’ design or capability. He said the decision to purchase the buses was made about a year ago but had been under discussion longer, and that the money was taken from a fund for transportation and armored vehicles.


$1.1M Secret Service Bus Makes Debut On Obama’s Midwest Tour

Ryan J. Reilly | August 15, 2011, 9:30PM

With President Barack Obama embarking on his mid-August tour of the midwest on Monday, the public got its first look at one of two $1.1 million armored buses that, as TPM first reported back in April, were recently purchased by the Secret Service and will be used on the campaign trail.

The bus is "an impenetrable-looking conveyance the size of a cross-country Greyhound, painted all in black, with dark tinted windows and flashing red and blue lights," according to a Associated Press description.

But don't worry, Republicans: you get one too. An identical bus was purchased by the Secret Service and will be made available to the eventual Republican presidential candidate, presumably once the politician is afforded Secret Service protection. The vehicles wouldn't be exclusive to the campaign trail -- they'll also be useful for when the Secret Service transports dignitaries, according to the agency.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told TPM the agency wasn't getting into the details of the security and communications features of the vehicles. But he said that like the presidential limousine known as "The Beast," the buses meet the standards for transporting the commander-in-chief.

Donovan told TPM back in April that the agency was "overdue for having this type of protective asset in our fleet" and that designing their own vehicle "really gave us a level of security which we don't get when we lease a bus."


U.S. Secret Service gets 2 new buses ahead of Obama tour

By Mark Knoller

Updated: 6:15 p.m. ET

The U.S. Secret Service has two new buses in its fleet for President Obama to use on his three-day, three-state Midwestern bus trip that kicked off Monday.

CBS News has learned the buses were purchased in recent months at a cost of just under $1.1-million each and will serve as part of the fleet of vehicles the Service uses for all of its protectees.

In the past, the Secret Service would lease buses as needed and outfit them with the security and communications equipment.

"We have not been satisfied with the level of protection offered by leased buses," said a Secret Service official.

Last year, the Secret Service placed an order for two buses with the Hemphill Brothers Coach Company of Whites Creek, Tennessee at a combined cost of $2,191,960.

The buses have lavish interiors and are usually leased to transport stars of the entertainment industry.

The company's website says its clients have included Beyonce, Cher, Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Madonna, Jack Nicholson, and Pope Benedict.

Mr. Obama will travel through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois on the tour. He has four town hall meetings planned, as well as a forum on rural economic issues.

Although the bus trip has the feel of a campaign swing, the White House is billing it as "official." That means taxpayers pick up all the related costs. When Mr. Obama ventures out on political trips, his campaign or the Democratic National Committee pay a small portion of the cost of presidential travel, as required by the Federal Elections Commission.

But spokesman Jay Carney says "the president is not engaged in a primary election and he is doing what presidents do, which is go out in the country and engage with the American people, have discussions about the economy and other policy issues."

Aboard Air Force One en route to the start of the bus trip in St. Paul, Minn., Carney told reporters that "to suggest that any time the president leaves Washington it's a political trip would mean that presidents could never leave unless they were physically campaigning on their own behalf, and he's not; he's out here doing his job and meeting with the American people."

But Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called a news conference in Minnesota this morning to raise objections to the taxpayer-funded nature of the president's trip.

Wow, so far under Emperor Obama the National Debt has increased by $4 trillion, from $10.6 trillion to $14.6.

Of course while Obama is a tax and spend Democrat, he also seems to be an almost identical twin to warm monger George W. Bush, with his policies of keeping America's war machine running at full speed and turning American into a Homeland Security police state.


New national debt data: It's growing about $3 million a minute, even during his vacation

August 23, 2011 | 5:32 am

Swallow all liquids in your mouth before reading any further.

Updated numbers for the national debt are just out: It's now $14,639,000,000,000.

When Barack Obama took the oath of office twice on Jan. 20, 2009, CBS' amazing number cruncher Mark Knoller reports, the national debt was $10,626,000,000,000.

That means the debt that our federal government owes a whole lot of somebodies including China has increased $4,247,000,000,000 in just 945 days. That's the fastest increase under any president ever.

Remember the day the Democrat promised to close the embarrassing Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility within one year? That day the national debt increased $4,247,000,000. And each day since that the facility hasn't been closed.

Same for the day in 2009 when Obama flew all the way out to Denver to sign the $787 billion stimulus bill that was going to hold national unemployment beneath 8% instead of the 9.1% we got today anyway? Another $4,247,000,000 that day. And every day since, even Obama golfing and vacation days.

Same sum for the day Obama flew Air Force One nearly four hours roundtrip to Columbus, Ohio for a 10-minute speech about how well the stimulus was working in the politically crucial Buckeye state. Ohio's unemployment rate just jumped to 9% from 8.8% anyway.Obama stops his tour bus to Eat some Ice Cream in Iowa 8-16-11

Or last week's three-day Midwestern tour in the president's new $1.1 million Death Star bus? National debt went up $16,988,000,000 while he rode around speaking and buying ice cream cones.

Numbers with that many digits are hard to grasp, even for a Harvard head. So, let's put it another way:

One billion seconds ago Bill Clinton was nearing the end of his two terms and George W. Bush's baseball collection was still on the shelves in the Austin governor's office.

The nation's debt increased $4.9 trillion under President Bush too, btw. But it took him 2,648 days to do it. Obama will surpass that sum during this term.

Now, how to portray a trillion, or 1,000 billions. One trillion seconds ago much of North America was still covered by ice sheets hundreds of feet thick. And the land was dotted by only a few dozen Starbuck's.

Obama is saying yes, we can get control of the national debt. But ominously every time he says that he adds that trillions of dollars in infrastructure repairs are badly needed across the country. And with interest rates so low, according to the thinking on Obama's planet, now is an excellent time to borrow even more money.

So, it looks like not too long before Americans learn what comes after 1,000 trillions.

It's quadrillion. But for Bernanke's sake, please don't tell anyone in Washington.

Attack Watch - Protecting the President from his political enemies!!!

Not only are they shoveling BS to make Obama look good you have to give them stinking money (total amount must be between $3 and $4,800) before you can visit the web site. Translation. It's a fundraising tool for Obama.

Source - Attach Watch - My BS is more correct then their BS???

Posted at 12:56 PM ET, 09/14/2011

Attack Watch, new Obama campaign site to ‘fight smears,’ becomes laughing stock of conservatives

By Elizabeth Flock

As the 2012 presidential campaign heats up, President Obama’s campaign team has set up a new Web site,, to challenge negative statements about the president made by Republican presidential candidates and conservatives.

Obama for America national field director Jeremy Bird told ABC News that the site’s goal is to offer “resources to fight back” against attacks. Mostly, that means fact checking statements from the likes of GOP presidential contenders Mitt Romney and Rick Perry and conservative commentator Glenn Beck and offering evidence to the contrary. The site is designed in bold red and black colors, and uses statements like “support the truth” and “fight the smears.”

The response to the site has been less than stellar.

On Twitter, where the Web site has an account to help Obama supporters submit evidence of “attacks” on the president using the hashtag #attackwatch, nearly every tweet about the site — mostly from conservatives — has ridiculed it.

“There's a new Twitter account making President Obama look like a creepy, authoritarian nutjob,” an Arizonan tweeted. “In less than 24 hours, Attack Watch has become the biggest campaign joke in modern history,” a contributor to conservative blog The Right Sphere wrote. The contributor linked to the following parody commercial for Attack Watch:

Tommy Christopher of Mediaite noted sarcastically of the site, “Great. Sounds like a terrific content-generating resource for right-wing bloggers, too. Everybody wins!”

While the initiative is reminiscent of a similar online effort launched during the 2008 campaign, called Fight the Smears, the intimidating design and language of the new site seems to be what’s causing a bigger ruckus.

Fight the Smears looked and felt far less scary, quoting Obama at the top of its page in a classic hope-change statement: “What you won’t hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon — that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge but enemies to demonize.”

Attack Watch, on the other hand, uses the shorter tag­line, “Get the Truth. Fight the Smears.”

It’s safe to say that in its 24 hours of existence, Attack Watch has already backfired, becoming a tool for conservatives to use against Obama 2012. A tweet by conservative author Brad Thor summed up the critics’s argument: “Wow, not only are Obama & Co. incredibly thin-skinned, they're paranoid.”

Update, Wednesday, 5:11 p.m.

Obama 2012’s press office just returned an earlier request for comment. According to deputy press secretary Katie Hogan, 100,000 people signed up for the site in the first 24 hours.

“This site is a tool providing our supporters with the facts they need to fight back against lies and distortions about the President’s record,” Hogan said.

Swear to God, it's just good government. Didn't have a thing to do with the $50,000 to $100,000 they gave Obama. Swear to God!!!!


White House altered energy loan to favor donors

Private investors moved ahead of taxpayers for repayment in case of default

by Matthew Daly and Jack Gillum - Sept. 17, 2011 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration restructured a half-billion dollar federal loan to a troubled solar-energy company in such a way that private investors - including a fundraiser for President Barack Obama - moved ahead of taxpayers for repayment in case of a default, government records show.

Administration officials defended the loan restructuring, saying that without an infusion of cash earlier this year, solar-panel maker Solyndra Inc. would likely have faced immediate bankruptcy, putting more than 1,000 people out of work.

Even with the federal help, Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month and laid off its 1,100 employees.

The Fremont, Calif.-based company was the first renewable-energy company to receive a loan guarantee under a stimulus-law program to encourage green energy and was frequently touted by the Obama administration as a model.

Obama visited the company's Silicon Valley headquarters last year, and Vice President Joe Biden spoke via satellite at its groundbreaking.

Since then, the implosion of the company and revelations that the administration hurried Office of Management and Budget officials to finish their review of the loan in time for the September 2009 groundbreaking has become an embarrassment for Obama as he sells his new job-creation program around the country.

An Associated Press review of regulatory filings shows that Solyndra was hemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars for years before the Obama administration signed off on the original $535 million loan guarantee in September 2009. The company eventually got $528 million.

Given the company's shaky financial condition, Republican lawmakers said the decision to restructure the loan raises questions about whether the administration protected political supporters at taxpayers' expense.

"You should have protected the taxpayers and made some forceful actions here after this analysis," Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., told a top Energy Department official this week. "Because you should have seen the problems. And you should have said, 'Taxpayers need to be protected and this has got to stop.' "

The loan restructuring is one element congressional investigators are focusing on as they look into the federal loan guarantee Solyndra received under the economic stimulus law.

Under terms of the February loan restructuring, two private investors - Argonaut Ventures I LLC and Madrone Partners LP - stand to be repaid before the U.S. government if the solar company is liquidated.

The two firms gave the company a total of $69 million in emergency loans. The loans are the only portion of their investments that have repayment priority above the U.S. government.

Argonaut is an investment vehicle of the George Kaiser Family Foundation of Tulsa, Okla. The foundation is headed by billionaire George Kaiser, a major Obama campaign contributor and a frequent visitor to the White House.

Kaiser raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama's 2008 campaign, federal election records show. Kaiser has made at least 16 visits to the president's aides since 2009, according to White House visitor logs.

Madrone Partners is affiliated with the Walton family, descendants of Walmart founder Sam Walton.

Rob Walton, the eldest son of Sam Walton, contributed $2,500 last year to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The AP review also found that officials at Solyndra had been seeking a second round of loans from the Energy Department to expand the company's Silicon Valley headquarters. The request for a second loan was denied.

More drone strikes in Yemen

American Empire increases drone bombings in Yemen


U.S. increases Yemen drone strikes

By Karen DeYoung, Published: September 16

The Obama administration has significantly increased the frequency of drone strikes and other air attacks against the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen in recent months amid rising concern about political collapse there.

Some of the the strikes, carried out by the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have been focused in the southern part of the country, where insurgent forces have for the first time conquered and held territory as the Yemeni government continues to struggle against escalating opposition to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year rule.

Unlike in Pakistan, where the CIA has presidential authorization to launch drone strikes at will, each U.S. attack in Yemen — and those being conducted in nearby Somalia, most recently on Thursday near the southern port city of Kismayo — requires White House approval, senior administration officials said.

The officials, who were not authorized to discuss the matter on the record, said intended targets must be drawn from an approved list of key members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula deemed by U.S. intelligence officials to be involved in planning attacks against the West. White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan last week put their number at “a couple of dozen, maybe.”

Although several unconfirmed strikes each week have been reported by local media in Yemen and Somalia, the administration has made no public acknowledgment of the escalated campaign, and officials who discussed the increase declined to provide numbers.

The heightened air activity coincides with the administration’s determination this year that AQAP, as the Yemen-based group is known, poses a more significant threat to the United States than the core al-Qaeda group based in Pakistan. The administration has also concluded that AQAP has recruited at least a portion of the main insurgent group in Somalia, al-Shabab, to its anti-Western cause.

From its initial months in office, the Obama administration has debated whether to extend the air attacks that have proved so effective in Pakistan to the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa. Military and intelligence officials have long argued in favor of attacks against al-Shabab camps in Somalia, which have been under overhead surveillance for years. Other officials have questioned the legal and moral justification for intervening in what, until recently, has been a largely domestic conflict.

The administration has said its legal authority to conduct such strikes, whether with fixed-wing planes, cruise missiles or drones, derives from the 2001 congressional resolution authorizing attacks against al-Qaeda and protection of the U.S. homeland, as well as the international law of self-defense.

“The United States does not view our authority to use military force against al-Qaeda as being restricted solely to ‘hot’ battlefields like Afghanistan,” Brennan said in remarks prepared for delivery Friday night at Harvard Law School. “We reserve the right to take unilateral action if or when other governments are unwilling or unable to take the necessary actions themselves.”

“That does not mean we can use military force whenever we want, wherever we want,” Brennan said. “International legal principles, including respect for a state’s sovereignty and the laws of war, impose important constraints on our ability to act unilaterally — and on the way in which we can use force — in foreign territories.”

In Somalia, the administration backs a tenuous government whose control does not extend beyond the capital, Mogadishu.

In Yemen, Saleh has been a close counterterrorism ally, and Brennan said last week that Yemen’s political turmoil, which began in March as part of the upheaval known as the Arab Spring, has not affected that cooperation. U.S. officials have emphasized that violence between loyalist troops and those backing breakaway army officers and tribal leaders has not involved U.S.-trained Yemeni special operations forces. This week, government forces reportedly made gains fighting against entrenched insurgent fighters in the southern port town of Zinjibar.

In the Yemeni capital Sanaa, thousands of anti-government protesters have been camping out in what is known as Change Square for several months, demanding an end to Saleh’s rule. The camp has remained quiet for weeks, but Reuters, citing doctors, reported Saturday that soldiers opened fire near the camp overnight and wounded eight protesters. The troops shot in the air to stop demonstrators from trying to expand the area of protest.

As the political conflict drags on, concern has increased over insurgent expansion and future cooperation with whatever government emerges in Yemen.

For months, the administration has called on Saleh to sign an agreement put forward this summer by Persian Gulf states to transfer power to an interim government and hold early elections. His intransigence seems to have increased since June, when Saleh departed for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia after being severely injured in an attack on his presidential palace. He has repeatedly insisted he intends to return to Yemen and retake control of his government, currently being run by Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Last week, the ruling General People’s Congress sent a delegation to Riyadh and secured Saleh’s agreement to allow Hadi to negotiate with the opposition and implement a political transition. While the opposition called the deal a trick, the Obama administration has tried to push Hadi and the government to take the initiative and negotiate a deal with opponents.

In a statement released late Thursday, the State Department called on the Yemeni government to sign and implement the agreement “within one week.”

Until May, the first and only known drone strike in Yemen was launched by the CIA in 2002. As part of its stepped-up military cooperation with Yemen, the Obama administration has used manned aircraft to strike at targets indicated by U.S. and Yemeni military intelligence forces on the ground. In May, JSOC first used a drone to kill two AQAP operatives as part of its new escalation in Yemen.

This summer, the CIA was also tasked with expanding its Yemen operations, and the agency is building its own drone base in the region. It is not clear whether the unilateral strike authority the CIA has in Pakistan will be extended to Yemen.

Administration officials have described the expanded drone campaign as utilizing a “mix of assets,” and a senior military official said he knew of no plans or discussions “to change the nature of operations.”

“The new base doesn’t connote that [the CIA] will be in the lead,” the official said. “It offers better teamwork and collaboration between the agencies.”

Staff writer Greg Jaffe contributed to this report.

U.S. building new secret drone bases


Officials: U.S. building new secret drone bases

by Craig Whitlock and Greg Miller - Sept. 21, 2011 12:00 AM

Washington Post

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is assembling a constellation of secret drone bases for counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula as part of a newly aggressive campaign to attack al-Qaida affiliates in Somalia and Yemen, U.S. officials said.

One of the installations is being established in Ethiopia, a U.S. ally in the fight against al-Shabab, the militant group that controls much of Somalia.

Another base is in the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, where a small fleet of "hunter-killer" drones resumed operations this month after an experimental mission demonstrated that the unmanned aircraft could effectively patrol Somalia from there.

The U.S. military also has flown drones over Somalia and Yemen from bases in Djibouti, a tiny African nation at the junction of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. In addition, the CIA is building a secret airstrip in the Arabian Peninsula so it can deploy armed drones over Yemen.

The rapid expansion of the undeclared drone wars is a reflection of the growing alarm with which U.S. officials view the activities of al-Qaida affiliates in Yemen and Somalia, even as al-Qaida's core leadership in Pakistan has been weakened by U.S. counterterrorism operations.

The U.S. government is known to have used drones to carry out lethal attacks in at least six countries. The negotiations that preceded the establishment of the base in the Republic of Seychelles illustrate the efforts the United States is making to broaden the range of its drone weapons.

The island nation of 85,000 people has hosted a small fleet of MQ-9 Reaper drones operated by the U.S. Navy and Air Force since September 2009.

U.S. and Seychellois officials have previously acknowledged the drones' presence but have said that their primary mission was to track pirates in regional waters. But classified U.S. diplomatic cables show that the unmanned aircraft have also conducted counterterrorism missions over Somalia, about 800 miles to the northwest.

The cables reveal that U.S. officials asked leaders in the Seychelles to keep the counterterrorism missions secret. The Reapers are described by the military as "hunter-killer" drones because they can be equipped with Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs.

U.S. officials said they had no plans to arm the Reapers when the mission was announced. The cables show, however, that U.S. officials were thinking about weaponizing the drones.

During a meeting with Seychelles President James Michel on Sept. 18, 2009, American diplomats said the U.S. government "would seek . . . specific discussions . . . to gain approval" to arm the Reapers "should the desire to do so ever arise," according to a cable summarizing the meeting.

Remember Obama owns the streets of Los Angeles

Remember as a taxpayer you don't own the streets of Los Angles! Emperor Obama owns them. So treat the American Emperor with the respect he deserves or the Secret Service will shoot and kill you. (And if they run out of bullets the LAPD and LA County Sheriff will shoot you if the SS goons miss)


Drivers Warned Ahead of President Obama's Visit


4:08 a.m. PDT, September 26, 2011

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- President Barack Obama is returning to the Los Angeles area Monday, and drivers on the Westside can expect major traffic delays.

Obama is scheduled to attend two separate events to help raise funds for his 2012 re-election campaign.

As many as 1,500 people are expected to pack the House of Blues for a benefit concert at 4:30 p.m. hosted by "Modern Family" actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson. The sold out concert, with tickets ranging from $250 to $10,000, will feature performances from B.o.B., Adam 12 and the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles.

The President will then travel down to Fig & Olive on Melrose for a private fundraiser at 6 p.m. where the price per plate is a whopping $17, 900 per person.

Sheriff's officials have issued a traffic alert, detailing street closures and telling drivers to avoid the area, if possible.

"Local access will be restricted in some areas. Residents, businesses, and visitors to West Hollywood are strongly encouraged to plan ahead to avoid any inconveniences," the advisory stated.

The following streets will be affected:

  • Sunset Boulevard (from Doheny Drive to Sweetzer Avenue);
  • Santa Monica Boulevard (from Doheny Drive to La Cienega Boulevard);
  • Olive Drive (from Sunset Boulevard to Santa Monica Boulevard);
  • Holloway Drive (front Sunset Boulevard to La Cienega Boulevard);
  • La Cienega Boulevard (from Sunset Boulevard to Rosewood Avenue);
  • Fountain Avenue (from La Cienega Boulevard to Sweetzer Avenue);
  • Delongpre Avenue (from Fountain Avenue to Flores Street).
The following closure will be in effect from 6 a.m. Monday through noon Tuesday:
San Vicente Boulevard (from Santa Monica Boulevard to Melrose Avenue)
Obama's visit to the area in August 2010 caused what drivers described as a traffic nightmare on the Westside.

Meantime, authorities are investigating a vandalism attack against Obama's campaign office in West Los Angeles.

The president is expected to leave Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Obama's not stupid, he is a crook.


Obama was warned of loan dangers long before Solyndra sank

September 27, 2011 | 3:08 am

Top economic advisors to President Obama warned him a year ago about the serious political and financial risks of the Energy Department's loan guarantee program that has resulted in taxpayers likely being responsible for the loss of $527 million loaned to the politically-connected California solar firm Solyndra.

That loan is currently under investigation by a House subcommittee and the FBI, which raided company offices earlier this month.

Obama visited the Solyndra plant in 2010, touting it as a shining example of his program to simultaneously boost the U.S. green-energy industry and create new jobs. Last winter the Energy Dept. restructured the more than half-billion dollar loan to the troubled firm.Lawrence Summers 9-11

But on Aug. 31 the company, whose major owner was also a major fundraising bundler for the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign, filed for bankruptcy and eliminated most of its 1,100 jobs.

In a detailed story posted overnight, The Times' Tom Hamburg, Kim Geiger and Matea Gold outline the danger signals set off in October 2010 when secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner and chief economic advisor Lawrence Summers warned the president that Energy's vetting process was not stringent enough to weed out troubled applicants in advance.

Energy Secy. Steven Chu, who like Obama holds a Nobel Prize, was eager to push through applications by 30 companies for the program's $17 billion. He wanted even less oversight from Treasury.

The story has developed legs for two reasons:

One, it hints at possible high-level political favoritism using taxpayer dollars in risky ventures with well-connected business people, what some have labeled "crony capitalism."

And, two, it's a classic example of the fundamental ongoing D.C. debate over government's proper role in the economy and the financial dangers to taxpayer funds inherent when officials and bureaucrats, not free market forces, pick corporate winners and losers.

Pencil this into your calendar for future political debate throughout 2012.

Obama claims to have lowered business taxes?

Obama shovels the BS when claiming he cut taxes?

While the Washington Post only gave him One Pinocchio on a scale of 1 to 4, I would call him a habitual, compulsive liar and give him a 4.


President Obama’s claim of lower small business taxes

By Glenn Kessler

(Associated Press)

“As I said, we’ve actually cut taxes for small business 16 times since I’ve been in office. So taxes for small businesses are lower now than they were when I came into office.”

--President Obama, Town Hall with LinkedIn, Sept. 26, 2011

We’ve been meaning to look into the administration’s claim that the president has cut small business taxes “16 times,” and now the president’s appearance in Silicon Valley has given us an opportunity. (The White House also has claimed as many as 17 small business tax cuts, including a tax cut in a bill signed at the end of 2010.)

The president, in fact, went even further this week and asserted: “Taxes for small businesses are lower now than they were when I came into office.” That’s a big claim. How true is this?

The Facts

The White House first began to cite “16 tax cuts” last year, as the president prepared to sign a small business bill. The fact sheet distributed by the White House stated that bills signed by the president in 2009 and 2010 (primarily the stimulus bill) had yielded “eight separate small business tax cuts,” and that the new bill would add another eight.

But there is less here than meets the eye, which is usually the case when a politician brags about a large number of tax cuts. There are important tax cuts—and then there is small beer. The list includes simplified tax deductions for cellphones (in other words, fewer reporting requirements) or for reducing the penalties for investing in tax-shelter schemes. (We kid you not; here is the technical explanation for these provisions.)

The list also appears to be inflated. The first group of eight tax cuts includes bonus depreciation; the second group of tax cuts extends this provision. There is also an expansion on the limits of small-business expensing in the first list; the second set of tax cuts includes this provision. To us, these seem to be more or less the same tax cut, though others may disagree.

Moreover, these tax cuts are often quite limited in impact. Not only do many require the small business executive to do something to get the tax cuts—as opposed to a real cut in tax rates--but they have sometimes narrowly drawn criteria.

Take, for instance, a small-business health-care tax credit. Not only must a company offer health care to even get the credit, but then it must pass through a series of hoops to qualify for it all, including a) having fewer than 10 people on the payroll; b) paying average wages of less than $25,000 a year; and c) contributing at least 50 percent of an individual employee’s health-insurance premium.

The National Federation of Independent Business estimates that fewer than 250,000 businesses would qualify for the full health-care tax credit—out of an estimated 27 million small businesses--while another 1.2 million would qualify for a partial credit.

Finally, we have to look at the other side of the equation. The new health-care law includes taxes, especially an increase in Medicare payroll taxes, which in 2013 would begin to affect more affluent small business owners making net income of more than $200,000 (single) or $250,000 (couple). That amounts to about three percent of all small businesses.

Obama has also repeatedly proposed increased income taxes on such businesses, though at the moment such proposals have no chance of becoming law because of Republican opposition. (Republicans, in fact, often inflate the percentage of small businesses affected by this proposal, as we have previously documented.) Meanwhile, the president’s jobs bill—which also has no hope of becoming law--would cut payroll taxes on the first $5 million of payroll.

“We have put in place and are proposing to put in place significant tax cuts for small businesses—that have reduced the amount small businesses pay in taxes,” a senior administration official said in response to our questions. “It’s true that some of the tax cuts are targeted and others are not… However you cut it, we’ve decreased the amount of taxes small businesses have paid in our first four years in office.”

The Pinocchio Test

Obama is engaging in some grade inflation. The number of tax cuts, be it 17 or 16, does not really explain that many are so heavily targeted to such a narrow slice of the business community. Only in the most technical sense could the president argue that small business taxes overall are lower, given that there are tax increases coming down the pike. He would do better to explain exactly what he’s done, as opposed to tossing out a rather meaningless figure.

One Pinocchio

Massachusetts airport sues Secret Service over Obama visit


Massachusetts airport sues Secret Service over Obama visit

Sept. 28, 2011 11:57 AM

Associated Press

BOSTON - The owner of a small Massachusetts airport has sued the Secret Service for $676,000 for damage he says was caused by President Barack Obama's security detail during a visit last year.

Robert Stetson, owner of the private Marlboro Airport, filed suit Tuesday in federal court in Worcester.

Stetson says in his lawsuit that Secret Service vehicles caused severe damage to the airport's runway and grass apron when the president's helicopter landed there in April 2010. Obama was in Massachusetts to inspect severe flooding in the area.

Stetson says the helicopter had permission to land and caused no damage, but he never gave permission for the accompanying vehicles.

Stetson says the Secret Service has denied causing damage.

A Secret Service spokesman says the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

Obama: A disaster for civil liberties

Obama is a police state thug, just like Bush!!!!

"President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them"

"Obama reportedly promised Bush officials in private that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture"

"Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised. He continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals that denied defendants basic rights. He asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. His administration has fought to block dozens of public-interest lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses."


Obama: A disaster for civil liberties

By Jonathan Turley

September 29, 2011

With the 2012 presidential election before us, the country is again caught up in debating national security issues, our ongoing wars and the threat of terrorism. There is one related subject, however, that is rarely mentioned: civil liberties.

Protecting individual rights and liberties — apart from the right to be tax-free — seems barely relevant to candidates or voters. One man is primarily responsible for the disappearance of civil liberties from the national debate, and he is Barack Obama. While many are reluctant to admit it, Obama has proved a disaster not just for specific civil liberties but the civil liberties cause in the United States.

Civil libertarians have long had a dysfunctional relationship with the Democratic Party, which treats them as a captive voting bloc with nowhere else to turn in elections. Not even this history, however, prepared civil libertarians for Obama. After the George W. Bush years, they were ready to fight to regain ground lost after Sept. 11. Historically, this country has tended to correct periods of heightened police powers with a pendulum swing back toward greater individual rights. Many were questioning the extreme measures taken by the Bush administration, especially after the disclosure of abuses and illegalities. Candidate Obama capitalized on this swing and portrayed himself as the champion of civil liberties.

However, President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them. The earliest, and most startling, move came quickly. Soon after his election, various military and political figures reported that Obama reportedly promised Bush officials in private that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture. In his first year, Obama made good on that promise, announcing that no CIA employee would be prosecuted for torture. Later, his administration refused to prosecute any of the Bush officials responsible for ordering or justifying the program and embraced the "just following orders" defense for other officials, the very defense rejected by the United States at the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised. He continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals that denied defendants basic rights. He asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. His administration has fought to block dozens of public-interest lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses.

But perhaps the biggest blow to civil liberties is what he has done to the movement itself. It has quieted to a whisper, muted by the power of Obama's personality and his symbolic importance as the first black president as well as the liberal who replaced Bush. Indeed, only a few days after he took office, the Nobel committee awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize without his having a single accomplishment to his credit beyond being elected. Many Democrats were, and remain, enraptured.

It's almost a classic case of the Stockholm syndrome, in which a hostage bonds with his captor despite the obvious threat to his existence. Even though many Democrats admit in private that they are shocked by Obama's position on civil liberties, they are incapable of opposing him. Some insist that they are simply motivated by realism: A Republican would be worse. However, realism alone cannot explain the utter absence of a push for an alternative Democratic candidate or organized opposition to Obama's policies on civil liberties in Congress during his term. It looks more like a cult of personality. Obama's policies have become secondary to his persona.

Ironically, had Obama been defeated in 2008, it is likely that an alliance for civil liberties might have coalesced and effectively fought the government's burgeoning police powers. A Gallup poll released this week shows 49% of Americans, a record since the poll began asking this question in 2003, believe that "the federal government poses an immediate threat to individuals' rights and freedoms." Yet the Obama administration long ago made a cynical calculation that it already had such voters in the bag and tacked to the right on this issue to show Obama was not "soft" on terror. He assumed that, yet again, civil libertarians might grumble and gripe but, come election day, they would not dare stay home.

This calculation may be wrong. Obama may have flown by the fail-safe line, especially when it comes to waterboarding. For many civil libertarians, it will be virtually impossible to vote for someone who has flagrantly ignored the Convention Against Torture or its underlying Nuremberg Principles. As Obama and Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. have admitted, waterboarding is clearly torture and has been long defined as such by both international and U.S. courts. It is not only a crime but a war crime. By blocking the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for torture, Obama violated international law and reinforced other countries in refusing investigation of their own alleged war crimes. The administration magnified the damage by blocking efforts of other countries like Spain from investigating our alleged war crimes. In this process, his administration shredded principles on the accountability of government officials and lawyers facilitating war crimes and further destroyed the credibility of the U.S. in objecting to civil liberties abuses abroad.

In time, the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties. Now the president has begun campaigning for a second term. He will again be selling himself more than his policies, but he is likely to find many civil libertarians who simply are not buying.

Jonathan Turley is a professor of law at George Washington University.

Obama murders American cleric in Yemen

Obama murders American cleric in Yemen with drone airstrike.

"Civil liberties groups have questioned the government's authority to kill an American without trial" - Hell I question the American government authority to kill anybody, with a trial or without a trail.


U.S. strike kills American al-Qaida cleric in Yemen

Sept. 30, 2011 06:30 AM

Associated Press

SANAA, Yemen - In a significant new blow to al-Qaida, U.S. airstrikes in the mountains of Yemen on Friday killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American militant cleric who became a prominent figure in the terror network's most dangerous branch, using his fluent English and Internet savvy to draw recruits for attacks in the United States.

Yemen's Defense Ministry also Friday said another American militant, Samir Khan, who produced an English-language al-Qaida Web magazine, died in the U.S. airstrike that killed American-Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

The strike was the biggest U.S. success in hitting al-Qaida's leadership figures since the May killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. But it raises questions that other strikes did not: Al-Awlaki was an American citizen who has not been charged with any crime. Civil liberties groups have questioned the government's authority to kill an American without trial.

The 40-year-old al-Awlaki was for years an influential mouthpiece for al-Qaida's ideology of holy war, with his English-language sermons urging attacks on the United States widely circulated among militants in the West.

But U.S. officials say he moved into a direct operational role in organizing such attacks as he hid alongside al-Qaida militants in the rugged mountains of Yemen. Most notably, they believe he was involved in recruiting and preparing a young Nigerian who on Christmas Day 2009 tried to blow up a U.S. airliner heading to Detroit, failing only because he botched the detonation of explosives sewn into his underpants.

Khan, in his 20s, was an American of Pakistani heritage from North Carolina who produced "Inspire," an English-language Web magazine which spread al-Qaida ideology and promoted attacks against U.S. targets, even running articles on how to put together explosives.

In one issue. Khan wrote that he had moved to Yemen and joined al-Qaida's fighters, pledging to "wage jihad for the rest of our lives."

Washington has called al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as the branch in Yemen is called, the most direct threat to the United States after it plotted that attack and a foiled attempt to mail explosives to synagogues in Chicago.

In July, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said al-Awlaki was a priority target alongside Ayman al-Zawahri, bin Laden's successor as the terror network's leader. The Yemeni-American had been in the U.S. crosshairs since his killing was approved by President Barack Obama in April 2010 - making him the first American placed on the CIA "kill or capture" list. At least twice, airstrikes were called in on locations in Yemen where al-Awlaki was suspected of being, but he wasn't harmed.

A U.S. counterterrorism official said American forces targeted a convoy in which al-Awlaki was travelling with a drone and jet attack and believe he's been killed. The official was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Yemeni government announced that al-Awlaki was "targeted and killed" around 9:55 a.m outside the town of Khashef in mountainous Jawf province, 87 miles (140 kilometers) east of the capital Sanaa. It gave no further details.

Local tribal and security officials said al-Awlaki was travelling in a two-car convoy with two other al-Qaida in Yemen operatives from al-Jawf to neighboring Marib province when they were hit by an airstrike. They said the other two operatives were also believed dead. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

Al-Awlaki, born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, began as a mosque preacher as he conducted his university studies in the United States, and he was not seen by his congregations as radical. While preaching in San Diego, he came to know two of the men who would eventually become suicide-hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The FBI questioned al-Awlaki at the time but found no cause to detain him.

In 2004, al-Awlaki returned to Yemen, and in the years that followed, his English-language sermons - distributed on the Internet - increasingly turned to denunciations of the United States and calls for jihad, or holy war. The sermons turned up in the possession of a number of militants in the U.S. and Europe arrested for plotting attacks.

Al-Awlaki exchanged up to 20 emails with U.S. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, alleged killer of 13 people in the Nov. 5, 2009, rampage at Fort Hood. Hasan initiated the contacts, drawn by al-Awlaki's Internet sermons, and approached him for religious advice.

Al-Awlaki has said he didn't tell Hasan to carry out the shootings, but he later praised Hasan as a "hero" on his Web site for killing American soldiers who would be heading for Afghanistan or Iraq to fight Muslims.

In New York, the Pakistani-American man who pleaded guilty to the May 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt told interrogators he was "inspired" by al-Awlaki after making contact over the Internet.

After the Fort Hood attack, al-Awlaki moved from Yemen's capital, Sanaa, into the mountains where his Awalik tribe is based and - it appears - grew to build direct ties with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, if he had not developed them already. The branch is led by a Yemeni militant named Nasser al-Wahishi.

Yemeni officials have said al-Awlaki had contacts with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the accused would-be Christmas plane bomber, who was in Yemen in 2009. They say the believe al-Awlaki met with the 23-year-old Nigerian, along with other al-Qaida leaders, in al-Qaida strongholds in the country in the weeks before the failed bombing.

Al-Awlaki has said Abdulmutallab was his "student" but said he never told him to carry out the airline attack.

The cleric is also believed to have been an important middleman between al-Qaida militants and the multiple tribes that dominate large parts of Yemen, particular in the mountains of Jawf, Marib and Shabwa province where the terror group's fighters are believed to be holed up.

Last month, al-Awlaki was seen attending a funeral of a senior tribal chief in Shabwa, witnesses said, adding that security officials were also among those attending. Other witnesess said al-Awlaki was involved in negotiations with a local tribe in Yemen's Mudiya region, which was preventing al-Qaida fighters from travelling from their strongholds to the southern city of Zinjibar, which was taken over recently by Islamic militants. The witnesses spoke on condition of anonumity for fear of reprisals and their accounts could not be independently confirmed.

Yemen, the Arab world's most impoverished nation, has become a haven for hundreds of al-Qaida militants. The country has also been torn by political turmoil as President Saleh struggles to stay in power in the face of seven months of protests. In recent months, Islamic militants linked to al-Qaida have exploited the chaos to seize control of several cities in Yemen's south, including Zinjibar.

A previous attack against al-Awlaki on May 5, shortly after the May raid that killed Osama bin Laden, was carried out by a combination of U.S. drones and jets.

The operation was run by the U.S. military's elite counterterrorism unit, the Joint Special Operations Command - the same unit that got bin Laden. JSOC has worked closely with Yemeni counterterrorism forces for years, in the fight against al-Qaida.

Top U.S. counterterrorism adviser John Brennan says such cooperation with Yemen has improved since the political unrest there. Brennan said the Yemenis have been more willing to share information about the location of al-Qaida targets, as a way to fight the Yemeni branch challenging them for power. Other U.S. officials say the Yemenis have also allowed the U.S. to fly more armed drone and aircraft missions over its territory than ever previously, trying to use U.S. military power to stay in power. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters of intelligence.

Obama is a carbon copy clone of Emperor Bush

I have always said Obama is almost a carbon copy clone of Bush


Cheney: After Yemen strike, Obama owes apology to Bush

By Joby Warrick, Published: October 2

Former vice president Dick Cheney on Sunday called last week’s CIA drone strike against al-Qaeda operative Anwar Awlaki a validation of the George W. Bush administration’s terrorist-fighting strategy, and said that President Obama should apologize for his past criticism of those policies.

Cheney endorsed the killing of Awlaki as “justified,” despite Awlaki’s U.S. citizenship, and suggested that the Obama White House was being hypocritical when it approved a deadly strike against the New Mexico-born Awlaki while condemning Bush’s use of so-called enhanced interrogation methods of al-Qaeda prisoners.

“They’ve agreed they need to be tough and aggressive in defending the nation and using some of the same techniques that the Bush administration did,” Cheney said on CNN’s Sunday talk show “State of the Nation with Candy Crowley.” “And they need, as I say, to go back and reconsider some of the criticisms they offered about our policies.”

The Obama administration defended its decision to kill Awlaki, the first U.S. citizen to be added to the CIA’s target list, saying the al-Qaeda propagandist was part of a terrorist organization actively planning attacks on the United States. A Justice Department memo providing legal justification for the strike concluded that Awlaki was not entitled to normal legal protections because he was a combatant in a war against Americans.

But that reasoning rankled Cheney, who noted that Obama had criticized Bush-era decisions that justified the harsh treatment of al-Qaeda prisoners.

“They, in effect, said that we had walked away from our ideals, or taken policy contrary to our ideals, when we had enhanced interrogation techniques,” said Cheney, who has acknowledged supporting the Bush-era use of secret prisons and waterboarding for al-Qaeda suspects. “Now they clearly have moved in the direction of taking robust action when they think it is justified.”

Asked by host Crowley if he would like an apology, he replied: “Well, I would.”

But Cheney said that the Awlaki hit “was a good strike.”

On the same broadcast, the former head of the House Intelligence Committee called on the White House to release the legal memos justifying the use of lethal force against Awlaki. Former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) said Obama should allow a public debate about the legal basis for its fight against terrorism, avoiding what she said was excessive secrecy under Bush and Cheney.

Of Cheney’s request for an apology, she said: “I think Vice President Cheney has a rather thin skin for a guy who has been in the partisan wars as long as he has.”

The scapegoat strategy - It's not MY fault!!!!!!

To be honest Obama isn't any different then any other crooked politician.

They all promise us that they will solve ALL the worlds problems if we elect them into office. Of course that has never happened.

And like Obama when they don't live up to their promises they usually blame somebody else. "It's Bush's fault! He left me with a screwed up economy!"

Well look Mr. Obama, when you were running for office in 2008 you knew that Bush had allegedly screwed up the economy, so why did you promise to fix it, if you couldn't?

Of course the truth to this is government is always the "cause" of the problem and never the solution to the problem.

Governments only do two things. First they steal money from people and give it to special interest groups. Unless you are on the receiving end of the cash that doesn't solve people's problems. And in most cases you are on the "I got screwed" end because the government took your money and gave it to some special interest group.

Second they pass laws which micromanage people lives. Again they usually screws up peoples lives. Unless you are one of the special interest groups these laws were passed for, which cause money to flow into your wallet, most people get screwed by these laws.


The scapegoat strategy

By Charles Krauthammer, Published: October 13

What do you do if you can’t run on your record — on 9 percent unemployment, stagnant growth and ruinous deficits as far as the eye can see? How to run when you are asked whether Americans are better off than they were four years ago and you are compelled to answer no?

Play the outsider. Declare yourself the underdog. Denounce Washington as if the electorate hasn’t noticed that you’ve been in charge of it for nearly three years.

But above all: Find villains.

President Obama first tried finding excuses, blaming America’s dismal condition on Japanese supply-chain interruptions, the Arab Spring, European debt and various acts of God.

Didn’t work. Sounds plaintive, defensive. Lacks fight, which is what Obama’s base lusts for above all.

Hence Obama’s new strategy: Don’t whine, blame. Attack. Indict. Accuse. Who? The rich — and their Republican protectors — for wrecking America.

In Obama’s telling, it’s the refusal of the rich to “pay their fair share” that jeopardizes Medicare. If millionaires don’t pony up, schools will crumble. Oil-drilling tax breaks are costing teachers their jobs. Corporate loopholes will gut medical research.

It’s crude. It’s Manichaean. And the left loves it. As a matter of math and logic, however, it’s ridiculous. Obama’s most coveted tax hike — an extra 3 to 4.6 percent for millionaires and billionaires (weirdly defined as individuals making more than $200,000) — would have reduced last year’s deficit (at the very most) from $1.29 trillion to $1.21 trillion. Nearly a rounding error. The oil-drilling breaks cover less than half a day’s federal spending. You could collect Obama’s favorite tax loophole — depreciation for corporate jets — for 100 years and it wouldn’t cover one month of Medicare, whose insolvency is a function of increased longevity, expensive new technology and wasteful defensive medicine caused by an insane malpractice system.

After three years, Obama’s self-proclaimed transformative social policies have yielded a desperately weak economy. What to do? Take the low road: Plutocrats are bleeding the country, and I shall rescue you from them.

Problem is, this kind of populist demagoguery is more than intellectually dishonest. It’s dangerous. Obama is opening a Pandora’s box. Popular resentment, easily stoked, is less easily controlled, especially when the basest of instincts are granted legitimacy by the nation’s leader.

Exhibit A. On Tuesday, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed punitive legislation over China’s currency. If not stopped by House Speaker John Boehner, it might have led to a trade war — a 21st-century Smoot-Hawley. Obama knows this. He has shown no appetite for a reckless tariff war. But he set the tone. Once you start hunting for villains, they can be found anywhere, particularly if they are conveniently foreign.

Exhibit B. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin rails against Bank of America for announcing a $5-a-month debit card fee. Obama echoes the opprobrium with fine denunciations of banks and their hidden fees — except that this $5 fee is not hidden. It’s perfectly transparent.

Yet here is a leading Democratic senator advocating a run on a major (and troubled) bank — after two presidents and two Congresses sunk billions of taxpayer dollars to save failing banks. Not because they were deserving or virtuous but because they are necessary. Without banks, there is no lending. Without lending, there is no business. Without business, there are no jobs.

Exhibit C. To the villainy-of-the-rich theme emanating from Washington, a child is born: Occupy Wall Street. Starbucks-sipping, Levi’s-clad, iPhone-clutching protesters denounce corporate America even as they weep for Steve Jobs, corporate titan, billionaire eight times over.

These indignant indolents saddled with their $50,000 student loans and English degrees have decided that their lack of gainful employment is rooted in the malice of the millionaires on whose homes they are now marching — to the applause of Democrats suffering acute Tea Party envy and now salivating at the energy these big-government anarchists will presumably give their cause.

Except that the real Tea Party actually had a program — less government, less regulation, less taxation, less debt. What’s the Occupy Wall Street program? Eat the rich.

And then what? Haven’t gotten that far.

No postprandial plans. But no matter. After all, this is not about programs or policies. This is about scapegoating, a failed administration trying to save itself by blaming our troubles — and its failures — on class enemies, turning general discontent into rage against a malign few.

From the Senate to the streets, it’s working. Obama is too intelligent not to know what he started. But so long as it gives him a shot at reelection, he shows no sign of caring.

Obama Sending 100 Armed Advisers to Africa

Damn! Obama really is a carbon copy clone of George W. Hitler!

I guess if Obama gets reelected we can count on 4 more years of war!!!!!


Obama Sending 100 Armed Advisers to Africa to Help Fight Renegade Group


Published: October 14, 2011

President Obama said Friday that he had ordered the deployment of 100 armed military advisers to central Africa to help regional forces combat the Lord’s Resistance Army, a notorious renegade group that has terrorized villagers in at least four countries with marauding bands that kill, rape, maim and kidnap with impunity.

The deployment represents a muscular escalation of American military efforts to help fight the Lord’s Resistance Army, which originated as a Ugandan rebel force in the 1980s and morphed into a fearsome cult-like group of fighters. It is led by Joseph Kony, a self-proclaimed prophet known for ordering village massacres, recruiting prepubescent soldiers, keeping harems of child brides and mutilating opponents.

“For more than two decades, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has murdered, raped and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children in central Africa,” Mr. Obama wrote in a letter to Congress announcing the military deployment. “The LRA continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security.”

Mr. Obama’s decision to deploy armed advisers into the region also raises the risk of putting American military personnel in harm’s way. Mr. Obama wrote that he had decided to act because it was “in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”

Mr. Obama also wrote that the deployment was justified by a law passed by Congress in May 2010, the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which favored “increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability.”

American efforts to combat the group also took place during the Bush administration, which authorized the Pentagon to send a team of 17 counterterrorism advisers to train Ugandan troops and provided millions of dollars worth of aid, including fuel trucks, satellite phones and night vision goggles, to the Ugandan army. Those efforts scattered segments of the LRA in recent years; its remnants dispersed and regrouped in Uganda’s neighbors. In the spring of 2010, apparently desperate for new conscripts, Mr. Kony’s forces killed hundreds of villagers in the Congolese jungle and kidnapped hundreds more, according to witnesses interviewed at the time.

Unlike the earlier effort, the 100 military advisers will be armed, Mr. Obama said. They will be providing assistance and advice to their African hosts, he said, and “will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.”

The initial deployment will be in Uganda, the president said, and the advisers will operate in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo “subject to the approval of each host nation.”

Another lie about withdrawing from Iraq

Another lie about withdrawing from Iraq
"All American troops will leave Iraq except for about 160 active-duty soldiers attached to the U.S. Embassy"
Well except for these 5,000 or so ones
"About 5,000 security contractors and personnel will be tasked with helping protect American diplomats and facilities around the country"

Troops will leave Iraq by January, U.S. officials say

by Lara Jakes and Rebecca Santana - Oct. 16, 2011 12:00 AM

Associated Press

BAGHDAD - The U.S. is abandoning plans to keep U.S. troops in Iraq past a year-end withdrawal deadline, the Associated Press has learned. The decision to pull out fully by January will effectively end more than eight years of U.S. involvement in the Iraq war, despite ongoing concerns about its security forces and the potential for instability.

The decision ends months of hand-wringing by U.S. officials over whether to stick to a Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline that was set in 2008 or negotiate a new security agreement to ensure that gains made and more than 4,400 American military lives lost since March 2003 do not go to waste.

In recent months, Washington has been discussing with Iraqi leaders the possibility of several thousand American troops remaining to continue training Iraqi security forces. A Pentagon spokesman said Saturday that no final decision has been reached about the U.S. training relationship with the Iraqi government.

But a senior Obama administration official in Washington confirmed Saturday that all American troops will leave Iraq except for about 160 active-duty soldiers attached to the U.S. Embassy.

A senior U.S. military official confirmed the departure and said the withdrawal could allow future but limited U.S. military training missions in Iraq if requested.

Throughout the discussions, Iraqi leaders have adamantly refused to give U.S. troops immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts, and the Americans have refused to stay without it. Iraq's leadership has been split on whether it wants American forces to stay.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has told U.S. military officials that he does not have the votes in Parliament to provide immunity to the American trainers, the U.S. military official said.

A western diplomatic official in Iraq said al-Maliki told international diplomats he will not bring the immunity issue to Parliament because lawmakers will not approve it.

Pentagon press secretary George Little said the U.S. remains "committed to keeping our agreement with the Iraqi government to remove all of our troops by the end of this year."

"At the same time, we're building a comprehensive partnership with Iraq under the Strategic Framework Agreement including a robust security relationship, and discussions with the Iraqis about the nature of that relationship are ongoing," Little said.

The Strategic Framework Agreement allows for other forms of military cooperation besides U.S. troops on the ground. It provides outlines for the U.S.-Iraqi relationship in such areas as economic, cultural and security cooperation.

Regardless of whether U.S. troops are here or not, there will be a massive American diplomatic presence.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is the largest in the world, and the State Department will have offices in Basra, Irbil and Kirkuk as well as other locations around the country where contractors will train Iraqi forces on U.S. military equipment they're purchasing.

About 5,000 security contractors and personnel will be tasked with helping protect American diplomats and facilities around the country, the State Department has said.

Vote for me to keep us Blacks in power?

Don't think of it as a Black vs White thing. Obama has screwed everybody on the promises he made in 2008, including Blacks.

I think Obama's new message to Blacks is look, even if I screwed you over you should vote for me to keep us Black folks in power.


Can Obama hold on to African American voters in 2012?

By Krissah Thompson, Published: October 17

For several months, radio host Tom Joyner has pleaded with his 8 million listeners to get in line behind the first black president.

“Stick together, black people,” says Joyner, whose R&B morning show reaches one in four African American adults.

President Obama said Monday that he's gone out of his way to cooperate with Republicans because he's "eager" to see them stand up with a "serious approach" to getting people back to work.

President Obama said Monday that he's gone out of his way to cooperate with Republicans because he's "eager" to see them stand up with a "serious approach" to getting people back to work.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, an ally of President Obama who has a daily radio show and hosts a nightly cable television program, recently told the president’s black critics, “I’m not telling you to shut up. I’m telling you: Don’t make some of us have to speak up.”

Even as Obama and his campaign play down the suggestion that support among African Americans is flagging, a cadre of powerful allies is snapping back at critics in the black community and making explicit appeals for racial loyalty.

“Let’s not even deal with the facts right now. Let’s deal with just our blackness and pride — and loyalty,” Joyner wrote on his blog. “We have the chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man.”

That message is pointed at racial unity much more than it was in 2008, when just the prospect of electing the nation’s first black president brought out record numbers of African American voters. This time, high-profile Obama supporters are tailoring their appeal in hopes of reigniting enthusiasm among blacks, a critical part of the president’s base that has been disproportionately hurt by the lagging economy and high unemployment rates.

Recent Washington Post-ABC News polls have shown a drop in the number of blacks who have ”strongly favorable” views of Obama and those who think his policies are improving the economy. This has coincided with vocal criticism of the president among some members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other African American leaders.

But the focus on sticking together has prompted criticism from some who call it an overly simplistic view that shuts off dialogue about Obama’s achievements and his failures.

“It truncates vibrant conversation in the black community,” said Eddie Glaude Jr., a professor of religion and African American studies at Princeton University. “What I hear them saying is, ‘Black folk need to get in lock step because we don’t want Republicans to take the White House.’ There is a kind of disciplining of the black polity that doesn’t lend itself to a vibrant and detailed consideration about political issues.”

The message is that criticism of Obama should be treated like a family argument — not to be made public — said Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University.

“What they seem to be trying to do now is shift the tone of the discussion in the black community,” she said. “You have these radio hosts talking about unity and that now is not the time for disagreement with the president. It could be effective.”

The calls for racial solidarity have not come from the White House, and Obama has been careful to speak in broad terms, even when talking about how his policies have helped African Americans. At the same time, his campaign has welcomed the support of black media figures. Those “validators” make clear that they back the president’s policies, and a White House aide noted that their support is deeper than the color of Obama’s skin. “You don’t see them supporting Herman Cain or Alan Keyes,” the aide said.

This past weekend, Obama called on the legacy of the civil rights movement at the dedication in Washington of the monument honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., an event that followed a march chaired by Sharpton and Joyner in support of Obama’s jobs act.

The White House has turned to black radio often in recent weeks, building on the relationships Obama established during his 2008 primary campaign. In a video greeting to thousands at an Atlanta event this month sponsored by a gospel radio host, the president spoke about blacks supporting one another.

President Obama said Monday that he's gone out of his way to cooperate with Republicans because he's "eager" to see them stand up with a "serious approach" to getting people back to work.

President Obama said Monday that he's gone out of his way to cooperate with Republicans because he's "eager" to see them stand up with a "serious approach" to getting people back to work.

“It is in times like these that we need our faith more than ever,” Obama said. “Because we’ve been through hard times before. . . . We have moved forward one step at a time with the knowledge that I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper.”

Much of this conversation has played out on urban radio, and in a city like Norfolk, where half a dozen radio stations focus on black audiences, the message has moved on to the streets.

Jack Jackson, who works for the city’s water treatment plant, said he is tired of the appeals to black identity politics.

“Leave the race game alone,” said Jackson, 53, who said he supports Obama. “Let’s not keep holding on to that. It’s been done. . . . We should put our faith in God, not Obama.”

But Corry McGriff, 42, said the call to stick together resonates with him, and McGriff has begun telling his friends that they have a responsibility to support the president, too. “We need to keep him in there. By him becoming president, he is showing African Americans that it can be done,” said McGriff, who works for a federal defense contractor. “He helped the race. ”

Kychelle Green, 18, a nursing student at Norfolk State University, agreed. “You know it’s not really his fault that things aren’t changing,” she said. “He’s really trying but he can’t change every rule on his own. Now people are trying to criticize him because he is African American.”

Green said she listens every morning to Steve Harvey, who is among the radio hosts who are promoting the message that Obama deserves support.

Warren Ballentine, a black talk radio host based in North Carolina who has interviewed Obama about a dozen times, speaks about the president’s accessibility. “It’s not like he is not hearing black America,” he said.

Ballentine specifically reminds his listeners of the racial undertones he saw in the 2008 campaign.

“It’s almost like we’ve forgotten what this man had to go through to get into the office. We need to remember the hatred and vitriol that came out.”

Sharpton said he learned an important lesson about supporting black politicians in the early 1990s, when David Dinkins, who was New York’s first black mayor, was running for reelection. Sharpton criticized Dinkins’s “deliberative” style and thought his policies were not progressive enough. Dinkins was hurt by the diminished enthusiasm and turnout among black voters.

“We beat up on him. He went down and we ended up with eight years of Rudy Giuliani,” said Sharpton, who has been among Obama’s most aggressive supporters. “I said I’ll never make that mistake again.”

Obama slings his BS with a teleprompter?

Obama slings his BS with a teleprompter?

Does it matter if he slings the BS using "old fashioned" notes, or a high tech "teleprompter". Either way it's still BS!!!!


Republicans mock Obama’s teleprompter use

By Philip Rucker, Published: October 18

It’s one of the very symbols of the presidency — the ultimate accessory to the ultimate bully pulpit, seemingly trumpeting to all that the words being uttered actually matter.

So why, on the campaign trail, has the teleprompter instead become a symbol of ineptitude, mocked repeatedly by Republican candidates?

The Washington Post's Philip Rucker talks about how the teleprompter has made its way into the 2012 GOP presidential campaign as a way for the candidates to separate themselves from President Obama.

The Washington Post's Philip Rucker talks about how the teleprompter has made its way into the 2012 GOP presidential campaign as a way for the candidates to separate themselves from President Obama.

Picking up on a theme that has been rippling through GOP circles for two years, Republican presidential candidates are trying to use President Obama’s reliance on teleprompters to deflate one of his biggest strengths — his oratorical skill. If Obama can’t give a two-minute speech without a screen telling him what to say, the critique goes, it’s a sign that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and can’t be trusted to do his job.

“Obama ruined the teleprompter for the rest of the politicians,” said Fred Davis, a media strategist who advised Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in his 2008 presidential run and, until this summer, Republican candidate and former ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr.

“If you use it now, you’re like Obama,” Davis said. “It’s a negative because it’s a sign of inauthenticity. It’s a sign that you can’t speak on your own two feet. It’s a sign that you have handlers behind you telling you what to say.”

Since its invention a half­century ago, the teleprompter has been used by presidents and presidential candidates, Republicans and Democrats alike, seeking precision and accuracy in their speeches. But this year, the Republican hopefuls are generally just winging it.

Michele Bachmann says she will never use a teleprompter and often proclaims that if she makes it to the White House, she’ll ban them. Businessman Herman Cain joked last week that he threw the teleprompter off his campaign bus to “get rid of some dead weight.” And when Mitt Romney wrapped up a town hall meeting in Florida this month, a woman approached him and observed: “You did all of this without a teleprompter. Good job!”

“You didn’t see the teleprompter?” Romney replied. “It’s in my watch, actually. I just look down.”

From a politician sometimes ridiculed as robotic that qualified as a joke.

But Romney and the other candidates do still roll out the teleprompters for certain occasions, such as when the former Massachusetts governor recently delivered a major speech on foreign affairs at the Citadel. And sometimes candidates can be seen looking down at notes.

When Obama launched his campaign in 2007, he used teleprompters. He frequently addressed audiences off the cuff but almost always delivered the big speeches of his campaign from teleprompters — at the time making him appear more presidential, if voters noticed at all.

But now, Obama’s speechmaking is constant fodder for conservative radio, cable news and Internet outlets. On Tuesday, after someone took a truck in Virginia containing some of the most symbolic objects of the presidency, including the lectern and seal, it was the teleprompter that the conservative Web site Drudge Report zeroed in on: “SPEECHLESS: OBAMA’S TELEPROMPTER STOLEN!”

No matter — the president had another one up and running for his stops in North Carolina and Virginia.

Almost every time the president delivers a speech or makes remarks, no matter how mundane or brief, he reads from a teleprompter. (Two of them, actually — twin glass panes that rise on narrow sticks at eye level, one to his left and the other to his right, projecting an electronic visual of the scrolling text of his prepared remarks.)

The Washington Post's Philip Rucker talks about how the teleprompter has made its way into the 2012 GOP presidential campaign as a way for the candidates to separate themselves from President Obama.

The Washington Post's Philip Rucker talks about how the teleprompter has made its way into the 2012 GOP presidential campaign as a way for the candidates to separate themselves from President Obama.

On the second day of his American Jobs Act bus tour, the President stopped in Jamestown, North Carolina. He continued to call on Congress to pass the American Jobs Act piece-by-piece. (Oct. 18)

President George W. Bush used teleprompters, but usually only for important speeches, said Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary. “Ordinarily, when he would just go hit the hustings, he’d use notecards, little 5-by-8 cards,” Fleischer said. “That was his standard style.”

There are clear benefits to using teleprompters. Speakers can deliver speeches just as they and their brain trust envision them. And they allow them to appear to be talking eye to eye with their audiences.

There’s a practical rationale as well. Presidents often give multiple speeches a day, covering a variety of subjects — a far tougher feat to pull off without a teleprompter than a candidate’s delivery of the same speech a couple of times a day.

Teleprompters also protect a president whose every word is picked over, shielding him from inadvertently making a diplomatic faux pas.

“It’s not that Obama’s not smart enough to be able to give a really good speech from outlined notes,” said Doris Kearns Goodwin, a presidential historian who was a White House aide to Lyndon B. Johnson, one of the first presidents to use a teleprompter.

“It’s one thing for a presidential candidate to say something stupid and cable news goes through it for a couple days,” she said. “But if a president says something that is not what he meant to say, it could be an international situation.”

Still, Obama’s habitual use of teleprompters feeds a negative narrative that Republicans are pushing.

“It’s sort of a soft joke that the president needs a teleprompter because he doesn’t have a sound command of the issues and doesn’t know what he’s doing,” conservative strategist Greg Mueller said. “He’s still in job training.”

At the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference, then-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty ripped into Obama, saying his promise of “the next era of hope and change” had become an era of “hope and change and teleprompters.”

A year later, however, when Pawlenty launched his campaign for president, he read from twin teleprompters.

So, too, did Romney when he launched his campaign a few weeks later on a New Hampshire farm. Since then, Romney has used teleprompters at least four times, usually when he has addressed large audiences.

But for most other speeches, Romney has spoken without them. When he rolled out his 59-point economic plan in Nevada last month, he held up a single page of hand-scribbled notes on a white legal pad. “I don’t have a teleprompter here,” he said.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry used teleprompters when he unveiled his energy agenda at a Pittsburgh area steel plant last week but does not use them in his stump speeches.

When Cain addressed a tea party rally in Bartlett, Tenn., last week, a man shouted midway through his speech, “Where’s your teleprompter?” The audience erupted in laughter, and the candidate said, jokingly: “The teleprompter fell off the bus on the way over here. We were moving too fast. We had to get rid of some dead weight, so we threw the teleprompter off the bus!”

Meanwhile, after Bachmann’s flawed experience with a teleprompter in January — the Minnesota congresswoman delivered her tea party response to Obama’s State of the Union address into the wrong camera — she said she has banned them. “I know you’re not used to seeing a president without teleprompters,” she told an Iowa rally this summer. “But I’m here to tell you that President O’Bach — President Bachmann will not have teleprompters in the White House.”

Then again, if Bachmann had been reading from a teleprompter perhaps she would not have flubbed her own name.

Staff writer Sandhya Somashekhar in Bartlett, Tenn., contributed to this report.

Kadafi is another notch on Obama's lethal-force belt

The socialists I know in the anti-war movement hate this, but their beloved Obama is warmonger just as big and bad as George W. Bush or John McCain!

If you want peace you ain't going to get it by voting for a Democrat or Republican. If you don't vote Libertarian in the next election you will have wasted your vote.


Kadafi is another notch on Obama's lethal-force belt

By Peter Nicholas and David Lauter, Los Angeles Times

October 20, 2011, 9:29 p.m.

Reporting From Washington— For a president who promised to end the gunslinger ways of his predecessor, Barack Obama has proven himself comfortable with the use of lethal force.

In the last six months, he authorized Navy SEALs to kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. He approved the fatal drone strike on an American cleric in Yemen and dispatched military advisors to Uganda to help hunt down the leaders of a notorious militia. All told this year, he has sent U.S. troops into action on land or in the skies of seven countries on two continents.

Now he has added Moammar Kadafi to the list of enemies eliminated.

"This comes at a time when we see the strength of American leadership across the world," Obama said from the White House Rose Garden, tabulating his achievements with language that betrayed a trace of bravado.

"We've taken out Al Qaeda leaders, and we've put them on a path to defeat."

Those foreign victories are unlikely to bring the president much reward at home. With voters singularly focused on the economy, developments overseas have little influence on Obama's approval rating. His bump in the polls after Bin Laden's death in May lasted barely a month. No one expects a similar boost from Kadafi's demise.

About the most Obama and his strategists can hope for politically is that killing U.S. enemies such as Bin Laden and Kadafi will help defend him against Republican charges that he is a weak, indecisive leader. Though he may be stuck with Jimmy Carter-esque economic numbers, Obama has avoided the image of foreign policy weakness that helped make Carter vulnerable in his quest for a second term.

Obama's aides have not been shy in making that point. Asked in a recent interview whether Obama had been prepared for the presidency, David Axelrod, a top campaign advisor, replied, "Maybe you should go ask Osama bin Laden if he thought he was prepared."

In recent months, the Libya air campaign, which was launched in March, had become almost an afterthought in Washington, where the president and his Republican opponents are locked in stalemate over the economy and the overall size of government.

But while foreign military operations may not grab the public's attention, they have become one of the Obama administration's clearest legacies. It has embraced a distinct style of war that can be seen clearly in the commando raid on Bin Laden's compound, the Hellfire missile attack that killed Anwar Awlaki in Yemen and the airstrikes in Libya.

Obama made clear his preference for those sorts of engagements in his most prideful line Thursday: "Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objective," he said.

That change has been partly imposed by circumstances. Obama went into the Libya crisis determined to not stretch American military resources further, with U.S. forces committed in Iraq and Afghanistan and the domestic economy struggling. The result is a new approach to waging war.

"The contrast between [George W.] Bush's handling of Iraq and Afghanistan and Obama's handling of Libya is breathtaking," said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "No ground footprint, no U.S. casualties and no responsibility for the day after."

Obama's willingness to engage militarily has angered some of his Democratic supporters. But he was never the dove that some imagined in 2008. As a candidate, Obama argued that terrorist groups in Afghanistan were a more direct threat to the U.S. than were the insurgents in Iraq, and he sent an additional 13,000 troops there a month after taking office.

Late in 2009, he approved 30,000 more, which increased the overall U.S. troop presence to nearly 100,000. Even when the troop surge ends after next summer, there will still be more U.S. troops in Afghanistan than when Obama took office.

But in contrast to President Bush, Obama has tried to avoid at least the appearance of America acting as a solo sheriff. In his remarks after Kadafi's death, he linked the end of the Libyan regime to that broader foreign policy theme as he stressed that the U.S. had acted as part of a "coalition that included … NATO and Arab nations."

Libya may be back on the administration's problem list long before the 2012 election rolls around, of course.

Kadafi is "gone, but what will be the character of the political order that emerges in his wake?" asked Andrew Bacevich, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. "I don't think the U.S. will have a tremendous amount of influence in determining what the character of that order will be."

U.S. and allied officials acknowledged that it would be a struggle to bring Libya's independent militias under central control, to gather up Kadafi's remaining arms, and to build a democracy in a country that has no tradition of independent political institutions.

"There is going to be a population of people — a small one, but nevertheless one that has to be contended with — who believe they were better off with Kadafi," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in an interview with CBS.

She also said that the country remained "awash in weapons," in what is "a big concern for the United States."

Despite those caveats, administration aides have reason to regard the seven-month Libya mission as a success — and were quick to claim it as such.

"The bottom line is this is a huge victory for the Libyan people, but we wouldn't be where we are today without the decisions that the president made," said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for communications. "We were able to see a dictator of over 40 years fall in less than eight months, and that's an extraordinary pace of events."

Times staff writers Paul Richter, David S. Cloud, Brian Bennett and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

Obama wins Iraq & Libya wars?

Hmmm ... so Obama won both the war in Iraq and the war in Libya for us? How many terrorists did Obama personally kill? Well other then the ones he ordered to be murdered like bin Laden and the American cleric in Yemen.

I guess politicians will sling any BS they can to get reelected.


Obama cites military triumphs, economic challenges

By Richard Wolf, USA TODAY

President Obama is citing military successes in Iraq and Libya as inspiration for what he hopes will be economic victories here at home.

In his weekly radio address, the president boasts of "renewed American leadership in the world" following word that the U.S. will pull all of its troops from Iraq this year and NATO will end its mission in Libya as early as this month.

"These successes are part of a larger story. After a decade of war, we're turning the page and moving forward, with strength and confidence," Obama said.

Now the focus must move to renewing the nation's economic strength, he said -- something that has proven more difficult than bringing the conflicts in Iraq and Libya to a close. He urged Congress to pass his $447 billion jobs package, even though Senate Republicans have twice refused to consider the measure.

Here's the president's complete address:

This week, we had two powerful reminders of how we've renewed American leadership in the world. I was proud to announce that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of this year. And in Libya, the death of Moammar Qadhafi showed that our role in protecting the Libyan people, and helping them break free from a tyrant, was the right thing to do.

In Iraq, we've succeeded in our strategy to end the war. Last year, I announced the end of our combat mission in Iraq. We've already removed more than 100,000 troops, and Iraqi forces have taken full responsibility for the security of their own country. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, the Iraqi people have the chance to forge their own future. And now the rest of our troops will be home for the holidays.

In Libya, our brave pilots and crews helped prevent a massacre, save countless lives, and give the Libyan people the chance to prevail. Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives. Soon, our NATO mission will come to a successful end even as we continue to support the Libyan people, and people across the Arab world, who seek a democratic future.

These successes are part of a larger story. After a decade of war, we're turning the page and moving forward, with strength and confidence. The drawdown in Iraq allowed us to refocus on Afghanistan and achieve major victories against al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. As we remove the last of our troops from Iraq, we're beginning to bring our troops home from Afghanistan.

To put this in perspective, when I took office, roughly 180,000 troops were deployed in these wars. By the end of this year that number will be cut in half, and an increasing number of our troops will continue to come home.

As we end these wars, we're focusing on our greatest challenge as a nation -- rebuilding our economy and renewing our strength at home. Over the past decade, we spent a trillion dollars on war, borrowed heavily from overseas and invested too little in the greatest source of our national strength -- our own people. Now, the nation we need to build is our own.

We have to tackle this challenge with the same urgency and unity that our troops brought to their fight. That's why we have to do everything in our power to get our economy moving again. That's why I'm calling on Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, so we can rebuild our country -- our schools, our roads, our bridges -- and put our veterans, construction workers, teachers, cops and firefighters back to work. And that's why I hope all of us can draw strength from the example of our men and women in uniform.

They've met their responsibilities to America. Now it's time to meet ours. It's time to come together and show the world why the United States of America remains the greatest source for freedom and opportunity that the world has ever known.

Obama Tries to Hack Medical Marijuana Off at the Knees

Obama is a liar and a hypocrite on his medical marijuana stance.

For those of you who want to end the unconstitutional drug war, which really is a war on the Constitution and a war on the American people your only hope is to vote Libertarian.

Obama, who many Democrats thought to be their savior is just as much as a drug war tyrant as his predecessor George W. Bush.

Why? I suspect Obama is after the law enforcement vote in 2012? Almost all city governments hire more police officers then then all other employees combined. And the drug war is a jobs program for these cops. And when you have voter turnout of 10 percent in a large number of elections it is fairly easy for the cops to swing the elections when all of then show up and vote, not because they are patriotic, but because voting for the drug war means money in their pockets.


In a Strange About-Face, the President Tries to Hack Medical Marijuana Off at the Knees

By Ray Stern Thursday, Oct 20 2011

Emperor Obama says Nope to Medical Marijuana

The new federal crackdown on medical marijuana announced on October 7 by California's four U.S. Attorneys sent chills through the industry. It was a stunning reversal by the Obama administration.

Only two years ago, Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden wrote his infamous "Ogden Memo," announcing that the feds wouldn't bother businesses in compliance with their own state laws. It proved a dose of Miracle-Gro to California, where pot-selling stores had multiplied since voters approved the state's 1996 medical-marijuana law. By late last year, California reportedly had more dispensaries than Starbucks outlets.

Colorado also made it legal in 2000, seeing a similar explosion of new storefronts. The same thing was happening to varying degrees in 16 states, from Arizona to Washington, New Jersey to Delaware.

But the feds' tolerance wasn't quite what it seemed. While legal weed grew to an estimated $10 billion to $100 billion industry — no one's quite sure of the exact figure — activists noticed an alarming undercurrent to the rhetoric: Raids on growers and dispensaries actually increased under President Barack Obama.

As hundreds of thousands of state-approved, doctor-recommended patients happily bought their medicine in well-lighted stores from knowledgeable "budtenders," the ire of cops and prohibitionists rose.

The first sign of Obama's subterfuge came in late 2010, as California prepared to vote on a ballot proposition that would have legalized growing and possessing small amounts of marijuana for anyone over age 21. Under pressure from teetotalers — nine former Drug Enforcement Agency chiefs begged Obama to oppose the measure — Attorney General Eric Holder said it didn't matter what Californians thought. The feds would continue to bust people regardless of the election.

The measure got 46 percent of the vote, but not enough to pass. Yet the medical side of things kept going strong — too strong for Obama.

When the Oakland City Council prepared to authorize large-scale cultivation centers, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of California's Northern District issued the first in what would become a series of letters from her fellow attorneys general. She reminded residents — in no uncertain terms — that marijuana was still criminalized under federal law, considered equal to heroin or meth, irrespective of its medicinal value.

Nor did she care what the California law said. Her "core priority" would be to prosecute "business enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana" under federal law.

Over the next few months, U.S. Attorneys from Maine to Washington wrote their own increasingly menacing letters. In Washington, the feds even threatened to arrest state workers who helped facilitate the industry.

Then the Obama administration released a new letter to "clarify" Ogden's memo. Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole verified the about-face: The only people safe from arrest were the "seriously ill" patients and their caregivers.

Everyone else? Be forewarned.

The letter didn't just target those directly involved in the trade. Cole also threatened supporting industries (read: banks) with money-laundering charges for dealing in the proceeds from marijuana. Obama had launched a full-on attack on the industries essential to any functioning enterprise.

Banks responded by canceling their weed-related accounts. "Perhaps there may be a few financial institutions here or there that are still accepting accounts," says Caroline Joy, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Bankers Association. "Those facilities don't want to reveal who they are."

The president's push grew louder last month. The U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms bureau warned medical-marijuana patients that they couldn't legally use pot and own or buy guns.

Then came a one-two punch.

On October 5, the IRS ruled that one of the largest California dispensaries, Harborside Health Center, owed $2.5 million in taxes because federal law precluded standard deductions for businesses engaging in illegal activity.

In other words, Obama not only was blowing off state laws. He was declaring that legal businesses were now nothing more than criminal rackets. And he was carving away every tool they needed to function.

Harborside's owner said he'd go out of business if the IRS didn't reverse course. Dispensaries nationwide saw it as a crippling decision.

Then came another blow two days later: The bombshell dropped by California's four U.S. Attorneys.

They now were going after people who leased stores and land to the pot industry. Violators were given 45 days to close doors, uproot plants, and kick out renters. The penalty for not acting: seizure of property and arrest.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy of California's Southern District went so far as to threaten media with prosecution for taking pot advertising. (Disclosure: This newspaper accepts such ads.)

There was no doubt about it: Obama was intent on killing an entire industry — in the middle of a depression, no less. Left unexplained was why, especially since he was giving the finger to voters in 16 states just a year before he would face them in his own election.

Democratic strategists were perplexed. Roger Salazar, a California party consultant, believes the president may be trying to reach out to a broader base. But that doesn't explain the attack on his own base; Democrats support medical marijuana at high percentages. It doesn't even make sense in luring conservatives. With the country in economic tatters, no one has weed high on their radar.

Except one group, says Salazar: "It's a mystery . . . where the pressure is coming from. My sense is it's coming from law enforcement."

Certainly, Obama's threats are real. He may be loath to jail landlords, bankers ,or even dispensary owners. Arresting non-violent, state-sanctioned businesspeople wouldn't be popular. But his quieter war of chopping merchants off at the knees through credit and leasing would ravage the trade.

Still, the president has thrown himself into an uphill fight. There is reason to believe medical marijuana will persist, despite his betrayal.

Earlier this month, in a timely coincidence, the California Medical Association's board voted to encourage the feds to legalize marijuana.

Though spokeswoman Molly Weedn emphasizes that the decision by the doctors' group hinges on a call for more research, a report studied by the CMA board before its decision makes it clear that — at the least — marijuana shows promise as a medicine.

The CMA's Council on Clinical and Scientific Affairs "has also concluded that components of medical cannabis may be effective for the treatment of pain, nausea, anorexia, and other conditions."

The report goes on to say:

"Cannabinoids are presently thought to exhibit their greatest efficacy when implemented for the management of neuropathic pain, which is a form of severe and often chronic pain resulting from nerve injury, disease, or toxicity."

The University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research reported recently to the California Legislature the results of a number of studies. Four studies involved the treatment of neuropathic pain; and all four demonstrated a significant improvement in pain after cannabis administration."

The doctors note that using marijuana may contain risks, such as addiction, but they argue that its prohibition may be more dangerous than the drug itself:

"Under the current prohibition of cannabis, public health is also affected by increased rates of crime surrounding cannabis cultivation, sale and use. The California Legislative Analyst's Office estimates that the incarceration and parole supervision of cannabis offenders costs the state tens of millions of dollars annually."

Nationally, prohibition burns through billions of dollars in lives lost to the violence inherent in the black market, the incarceration of thousands of productive, non-violent Americans, and the lack of access to a beneficial medicine.

Are lots of people using weed without suffering from a medical problem? Absolutely. But just because you've heard that half or more of patients take the drug for "severe and chronic pain" doesn't mean they're all faking it.

In June, the Institute of Medicine estimated that 116 million Americans suffer from significant, chronic pain.

As more research comes in showing that pot can be an effective treatment, and with America's elderly population exploding in the coming decades, interest in its medicinal qualities apparently will only rise.

Ignorance, false propaganda, and rank political posturing tend to be the foundation of the anti-marijuana argument. (Throw in bureaucratic turf protection, as well. The DEA, for example, would need fewer agents if pot was decriminalized nationwide.)

A new Gallup poll shows that a record 50 percent of Americans believe marijuana — and not just the medical kind — should be legalized. The poll follows a continuing trend over the past several years of increasing support for legalization.

Obama has chosen to swim against the tide. But there's reason to believe his fight is about politics, not public safety. If this were about safety, alcohol would be his primary target.

Politics cause both sides to fudge the truth. Yet prohibitionists and the government have been particularly egregious. The government is using taxpayer dollars to prop up its side, with the U.S. Justice Department's 64-page booklet, "Speaking Out About Drug Legalization," being a prime example.

Distributed in print and online, the booklet states that "smoked marijuana is not scientifically approved medicine." Forget that by labeling it a drug on par with heroin, the DEA is curtailing the proper study of marijuana, since it prevents even scientists from possessing it for research. The publicly funded propaganda also flies in the face of the opinions of doctors, who see pot's potential as medicine.

It's a strategy that's trickled to states with functionaries unhappy about executing the voters' will. Last December in Arizona, Will Humble, the state's Department of Health Services director, held a proposed-rules-on-medical-marijuana news conference about the state's new Medical Marijuana Act. He took a moment to remind reporters that more than 1,000 Arizonans died last year from accidental overdoses of prescription drugs.

But when asked how many of them died from marijuana, Humble refused to answer — to chuckles from the audience. He referred the question to his chief medical officer, Laura Nelson, who would only say she'd "have to do the research on that" before she could answer.

Then Nelson began stammering about the danger of marijuana related to "car accidents" — though she had done no research on that, either.

The CMA's new report, interestingly enough, sheds light on statements like Nelson's. It says that prohibitionists often make unsubstantiated claims about car crashes or other purported harms. Studies disagree on its risks to motorists, though there's no question that alcohol increases the chances of a crash, the report says. Moreover, simulated driving tests reveal that pot smokers overestimate their degree of impairment and "compensate effectively."

A cynic might also view U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy's threat to target advertising as a less than subtle threat to control the debate.

True: Federal law prohibits advertising illegal drugs. Google, for example, agreed to pay a $500 million fine this summer for taking online ads promoting rogue Canadian pharmacies.

But pot dispensaries are legal businesses within their states. Under Duffy's threat, the feds will have their say, while the pro-pot message would be erased from public view.

Kent Scheidegger, legal director for the conservative Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, tells New Times that Duffy's threat gave him the willies.

"They're on much thinner ice going after the newspaper," says Scheidegger, who otherwise believes the feds should enforce its own laws against marijuana. "Maybe there is a political strategy."

It's called the "shut them up" strategy.

Federal law is, for now, on the side of the prohibitionists.

Scheidegger downplays the state victories handed to medical marijuana. He says that if the American people want to change the law, they need to encourage Congress to do so.

Yet that ignores a basic political reality: It's extremely difficult for any politician to stand up for marijuana. He or she will be quickly painted as pro-pothead.

Like women's suffrage, the medical-marijuana movement has — in 10 states, anyway — benefited by the direct democracy of citizens initiatives. These elections have taken the pulse of voters in a way that congressional elections cannot.

In six other states and Washington, D.C., medical marijuana was legalized by local lawmakers. Other states are bound to vote in favor of decriminalizing pot in the next few years in spite of federal laws.

Phoenix attorney Ty Taber sees it as a major states' rights issue. "Basically, the citizens of these states . . . want marijuana legalized," he says. If Obama wants to play hardball, he says, "You're going to get pushback."

Taber represents Compassion First, a company that helps set up dispensaries. The firm sued Arizona after Governor Jan Brewer, in blatant defiance of voters' wishes, derailed the dispensary portion of Arizona's new law by instructing the Department of Health to reject applications. She simultaneously sued the federal government, asking a judge to rule on whether the state's new law was legal. (Ironically, the U.S. Justice Department is defending against the lawsuit — and if the feds win, Arizona might just get its first dispensaries.)

Compassion First wants the program implemented as Arizonans intended, and to remove blockades Brewer has thrown in its path. For instance, Arizona requires dispensary owners to have been residents for at least three years.

But the point isn't so much whether the company will win its lawsuit — it's that it's fighting back, and it's not alone.

Across the country, advocates are returning fire of their own in the court system. Which means Obama won't be able to do battle by the relatively cheap means of letters and threats. He'll have to burn through millions of dollars in litigation – money he doesn't have.

Taber thinks the president may have underestimated his foe. "The people behind this marijuana movement — they're committed. They are zealots. And these are smart people — not stoners saying, 'Hey, dude, pass another slice of pizza.'"

The latest crackdown will be bad for the pot business. No question. But Obama could be doing much, much more.

He could go after patients. Over the summer, a federal judge ruled that the DEA could peek at the names on Michigan's patient registry. Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, said Judge Hugh Brenneman Jr., patients can't expect privacy.

The feds could also hit pot-tolerant cities. The law doesn't allow municipal workers to be jailed in such prosecutions, but cities or counties could be heavily fined just for setting up zoning requirements for dispensaries.

There's a huge downside to that, of course. Obama only will appear mean and small for having sickly grandmas arrested. And fining cities just enrages residents picking up the tab — the very people the president will need a year from now.

All of which leaves him fighting at partial speed. That, in turn, leaves the "zealots" Taber mentions betting their money and freedom that even if the feds throw the book at some, it won't be them.

Last week, the feds raided several growing operations in California and Oregon, including one in Mendocino County that appeared to be playing by state rules. But it seems safe to assume that few of the hundreds of other growers in Mendocino County did not uproot their crops in response — just as the hundreds of dispensaries in California did not immediately close their doors after the feds' ominous warning on October 7.

The industry seems to be practicing a form of civil disobedience. And it has tens of thousands of seriously sick people behind it, who will holler loudly if they're forced back to the black market.

Indeed, there are some signs that Obama's crackdown will be what SF Weekly's Chris Roberts calls a "passive aggressive" strategy. Rather than offend Americans with news footage of police raids, Obama has launched a war of attrition.

Landlords, worried the feds will steal their property, will tell dispensaries to move out. Banks won't handle money for pot-themed businesses. Dispensaries will be taxed so heavily they won't be to cover the payroll or pay the electric bill.

Yet it remains to be seen whether federal prosecutors, who undoubtedly have even more serious criminals with which to contend, are willing and able to carry out the threat. When Jack Gillund, Melinda Haag's spokesman, was asked whether her office had the resources to go after every dispensary or grower who doesn't comply with the 45-day deadline, he responded: "No comment."

Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner in California's Eastern District, says Wagner's goal isn't to shut down everything. He's focusing on "large, professional, money-making operations — the commercial operations."

Horwood also says it's wrong to call it "Obama's crackdown." She says the California U.S. Attorneys decided to take action on their own because the situation has grown out of control among recreational users. But she acknowledges that they received Obama's blessing.

It's classic political strategy: Send the underlings out to take the heat, while the bosses hide under their skirts.

Either way, the end result casts Obama as even more zealous than George W. Bush. Bush threatened owners of dispensary properties in 2007 but never followed up. Meanwhile, Colorado and other states have seen no similar crackdowns. Only time will tell whether Obama plans to destroy the entire medical-marijuana industry or merely smack California around for a while.

"I'm willing to give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt," says Blair Butterworth, a Democratic consultant in Seattle, where about 100 dispensaries operate. "In California, they may be sitting on uncontrollable drug sales. They need to slap some wrists."

It's easy to pick on California, a state known for its excesses. But "the last thing Obama needs right now is to go to war nationally with the medical-marijuana community," Butterworth says.

Leniency for marijuana users, medical or otherwise, continues to be a popular Democratic stance, he says. Butterworth is helping the campaign put outright legalization on the Washington state ballot next year. He thinks it's got a good chance.

Of course, a successful election could just tick off the feds even more.

An estimated one million people in California have obtained a doctor's recommendation to grow and use marijuana legally.

More than 150,000 medical-marijuana patients had registered in Colorado, as of July. Tens of thousands of patients are registered in the other weed-friendly states.

If the feds shut down every dispensary in the country, all these people will still be able to legally possess marijuana — no matter where they bought it — under their state laws.

The only difference is they'll be forced to go back to buying their weed from Mexican drug cartels, rather than from Americans who provide jobs and pay taxes.

It's akin to the feds saying that Anheuser-Busch can no longer sell beer; they'd prefer that people only buy from Al Capone.

Hey, wait — didn't something like that happen?

If the feds shut down every dispensary in the land, medical-marijuana patients still can possess pot legally under state laws — they'll just have to go back to buying it from Mexican drug cartels rather than from taxpaying and job-providing Americans.

Administration officials double as Obama campaign speakers

Spending your tax dollars to get Obama reelected - and keep their cushy, overpaid jobs


Administration officials double as Obama campaign speakers

By Peter Nicholas, Washington Bureau

November 16, 2011

Reporting from Washington— Obama administration Cabinet members and senior aides are fanning out across the country in an aggressive fundraising drive, taking advantage of porous campaign finance laws that allow them to appear as marquee speakers and raise substantial money for the president's reelection effort.

The Obama campaign's "Speaker Series" program turns Cabinet secretaries and top White House advisors into fundraising surrogates. For $5,000, a donor can get a kind of season pass to see officials when they come to town — a bargain compared with the $35,800 typically charged for dinner with President Obama.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson traveled to San Francisco this month to give a speech and appear at a private dinner. Education Secretary Arne Duncan headlined an event last month at a residence in the Los Angeles area. Senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett spoke at a closed event in Northern California, helping raise as much as $70,000, according to one person who attended.

None of this is illegal, although the appearances must be carefully choreographed to avoid running afoul of the federal Hatch Act, which regulates political activity by government employees but allows ample wiggle room.

Invitations can't mention the official's title. Steven Chu, for example, can appear as "the Honorable Steven Chu," but not as secretary of Energy. Officials must attend functions in their "personal capacity." Any biographical material included in a program can't place excessive emphasis on government titles.

And the speakers are not supposed to discuss their agency's specific work, putting them in awkward situations because those are precisely the topics many donors pay to hear about.

"This is a gray area," said Ana Galindo-Marrone, chief of the Hatch Act unit of the Office of Special Counsel, the agency that enforces the law. "These issues arise with every White House in every election cycle.

"Let's say we were asked, 'What can an administration official say at a fundraiser?' My advice would be that if the official gets questions about specific agency initiatives, it would be best if she reminded the audience that she's there in her personal capacity."

Obama has raised nearly $90 million thus far, more than all of the GOP presidential candidates combined.

Spokespeople for the Cabinet secretaries say that they have been careful not to step over the line. Some people who have attended recent fundraisers described situations that came close to the limit.

When Jackson spoke at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco recently, for example, she fielded questions about the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline project that environmentalists oppose, according to a donor who attended the event. Jackson talked about the EPA's role in reviewing how the pipeline would affect the environment, the donor said.

Jackson also spoke about EPA regulations that Obama had proposed to limit ozone pollution, the attendee said. The president had scrapped those in September, angering environmentalists.

Duncan mentioned the Education Department's Race to the Top initiative and talked about the administration's education priorities, said one person who saw him speak.

Among the questions posed to Jarrett were one from a hospital executive about Obama's healthcare plan and another from a high-tech executive about U.S. trade policy, according to a person who was at that event.

Spokespeople for Jackson and Duncan said their remarks were permissible. "We are aware of the laws and the issues that govern how he should conduct himself in these events, and we will follow them," said Justin Hamilton, a spokesman for Duncan. Jarrett's office declined to comment.

Katie Hogan, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, called the speaker series "entirely appropriate under the rules, and consistent with past practices."

In recent years, presidents have grown more inventive in how they have used their incumbency to raise money. "It's one of the spoils that you have when you're the incumbent," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

President Clinton famously opened up the Lincoln Bedroom to campaign donors. An office in George W. Bush's White House devolved into a "political boiler room," where partisan briefings to staffers were held in violation of the Hatch Act, the Office of Special Counsel ruled.

Obama took office pledging to do things differently. But groups that favor limits on campaign money say his vows now look empty.

"It was wrong to do under previous presidents, and we don't think it's the right thing to do now, either," said David Donnelly, national campaigns director for the Public Campaign Action Fund. "This is the kind of thing that makes the public sick to their stomachs."

Obama is already outpacing his predecessor when it comes to raising money. He has been to at least 59 fundraising events this year, twice the number that President Bush had attended at a comparable point in his 2004 reelection campaign, according to research by Brendan Doherty, who teaches at the U.S. Naval Academy.

The courts have been a factor. The Supreme Court ruled in January 2010 that corporations and unions could spend money directly on campaigns. That sparked the rise of "super PACs" — which are allowed to raise unlimited sums — and the GOP promptly launched an aggressive campaign for the midterm election. The ruling was a game-changer that will result in hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on behalf of political campaigns next year.

Another reality is that the process of identifying Hatch Act violations, which can draw penalties ranging from a 30-day suspension without pay to removal from office, is slow.

When the Office of Special Counsel determined that Bush White House officials had violated the act, no one was punished. The report came earlier this year. All of the staff members involved were long since out of office.

Kim Geiger in the Washington bureau contributed to this report.

It ain't about being a "public servant", it's about getting reelected!


Obama’s politically strategic inaction

By Charles Krauthammer, Published: November 17

In 2008, the slogan was “Yes We Can.” For 2011-12, it’s “We Can’t Wait.” What happened in between? Candidate Obama, the vessel into which myriad dreams were poured, met the reality of governance.

His near-$1 trillion stimulus begat a stagnant economy with 9 percent unemployment. His attempt at Wall Street reform left in place a still-too-big-to-fail financial system, as vulnerable today as when he came into office. His green-energy fantasies yielded Solyndra cronyism and a cap-and-trade regime not even a Democratic Congress would pass.

And now his signature achievement, Obamacare, is headed to the Supreme Court, where it could very well be struck down. This comes just a week after its central element was overwhelmingly repudiated (by a 2-to-1 margin) by the good burghers of Ohio.

So what do you do when you say you can, but, it turns out, you can’t? Blame the other guy. Charge the Republicans with making governing impossible. Never mind that you had control of Congress for two-thirds of your current tenure. It’s all the fault of Republican rejectionism.

Hence: “We Can’t Wait.” We can’t wait while they obstruct. We can’t wait while they dither with my jobs bill. Write Congress today! Vote Democratic tomorrow!

We can’t wait. Except for certain exceptions, such as the 1,700-mile trans-USA Keystone XL pipeline, carrying Alberta oil to Texas refineries, that would have created thousands of American jobs and increased our energy independence.

For that, we can wait, it seems. President Obama decreed that any decision must wait 12 to 18 months — postponed, by amazing coincidence, until after next year’s election.

Why? Because the pipeline angered Obama’s environmental constituency. But their complaints are risible. Global warming from the extraction of the Alberta tar sands? Canada will extract the oil anyway. If it doesn’t go to us, it will go to China. Net effect on the climate if we don’t take that oil? Zero.

Danger to a major aquifer, which the pipeline traverses? It is already crisscrossed by 25,000 miles of pipeline, enough to circle the Earth. Moreover, the State Department had subjected Keystone to three years of review — the most exhaustive study of any oil pipeline in U.S. history — and twice concluded in voluminous studies that there would be no significant environmental harm.

So what happened? “The administration,” reported the New York Times, “had in recent days been exploring ways to put off the decision until after the presidential election.” Exploring ways to improve the project? Hardly. Exploring ways to get past the election.

Obama’s decision was meant to appease his environmentalists. It’s already working. The president of the National Wildlife Federation told The Post (online edition, Nov. 10) that thousands of environmentalists who were galvanized to protest the pipeline would now support Obama in 2012. Moreover, a source told The Post, Obama campaign officials had concluded that “they do not pick up one vote from approving this project.”

Sure, the pipeline would have produced thousands of truly shovel-ready jobs. Sure, delay could forfeit to China a supremely important strategic asset — a nearby, highly reliable source of energy. But approval was calculated to be a political loss for the president. Easy choice.

It’s hard to think of a more clear-cut case of putting politics over nation. This from a president whose central campaign theme is that Republicans put party over nation, sacrificing country to crass political ends.

Nor is this the first time Obama’s election calendar trumped the national interest:

● Obama’s decision to wind down the Afghan surge in September 2012 is militarily inexplicable. It comes during the fighting season. It was recommended by none of his military commanders. It is explicable only as a talking point for the final days of his reelection campaign.

● At the height of the debt-ceiling debate last July, Obama pledged to veto any agreement that was not long-term. Definition of long term? By another amazing coincidence, any deal large enough to get him past Election Day (and thus avoid another such crisis next year).

●On Tuesday it was revealed that last year the administration pressured Solyndra, as it was failing, to delay its planned Oct. 28 announcement of layoffs until Nov. 3, the day after the midterm election.

A contemporaneous e-mail from a Solyndra investor noted: “Oddly they didn’t give a reason for that date.” The writer was obviously born yesterday. The American electorate was not — and it soon gets to decide who really puts party over nation and reelection above all.

We can’t wait.

Vote for me - I love gays!!!!!

And I am spending your tax dollars to prove it and get reelected

I am not gay, but I think that all people should have the same rights including gays. But the problem here is last time I checked the U.S. Constitution doesn't give the Federal government the power to promote gay rights.

If Obama thinks gays should have the same rights as straight folks that's great. Maybe he should be spending this own hard earned cash to do it, instead of spending our tax dollars since the Constitution doesn't give him that power.

On the other hand I suspect the main reason Obama is promoting gay rights with our tax dollars is to help him get reelected in 2012.

Of course Obama recruited the gay folks to help him get elected in 2008, and then he sold them out by refusing to promote marriage rights for gays like he promised.


US to use foreign aid to promote gay rights


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is announcing a wide-ranging effort to use U.S. foreign aid to promote rights for gays and lesbians abroad, including combating attempts by foreign governments to criminalize homosexuality.

In a memorandum issued Tuesday, President Barack Obama directed U.S. agencies working abroad, including the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, to use foreign aid to assist gays and lesbians who are facing human rights violations. And he ordered U.S. agencies to protect vulnerable gay and lesbian refugees and asylum seekers.

"The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States' commitment to promoting human rights," Obama said in a statement.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is also expected to speak about the announcements in Geneva later Tuesday.

The White House said Tuesday's announcement marked the first U.S. government strategy to combat human rights abuses against gays and lesbians abroad.

The order also directs U.S. government agencies to use foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance non-discrimination, and work with international organizations to fight discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Obama's announcement is part of the White House's outreach to gays and lesbians, a core Democratic constituency. Since taking office, Obama has advocated for the repeal of the military's ban on openly gay service members and ordered the administration to stop enforcing a law defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

However, Obama has stopped short of backing gay marriage, saying only that his personal views on the matter are evolving. [ I suspect Emperor Obama is afraid of losing a few votes if he does the right thing and back gay marriage! F*** the hypocrite! ]

Gay rights groups praised the order as a significant step for ensuring that gays and lesbians are treated equally around the world.

"Today's actions by President Obama make clear that the United States will not turn a blind eye when governments commit or allow abuses to the human rights of LGBT people," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy organization.

The presidential directive applies to all U.S. agencies involved in foreign aid, assistance and development, including the Departments of States, the Treasury, Defense and Homeland Security.

Obama signs defense bill but balks at terrorism provisions

Emperor Obama is a tyrant who is just as bad as Emperor Bush was!


Obama signs defense bill but balks at terrorism provisions

By Peter Nicholas, Washington Bureau

December 31, 2011, 6:56 p.m.

Reporting from Honolulu— President Obama signed a controversial military funding bill Saturday but vowed to interpret its measures regarding the treatment of detainees in ways that comport with his own judgment on how best to wage the fight against terrorists.

In a signing statement released by the White House, Obama indicated that he might not strictly follow certain requirements spelled out in the new law, saying that "my administration will interpret and implement the provisions … in a manner that best preserves the flexibility on which our safety depends and upholds the values on which this country was founded." [So Obama feels the President is above the law!!!]

He specifically pointed to a provision requiring that certain foreign fighters captured by the U.S. be held in military custody, outside the reach of the civilian law enforcement system. Obama said there might be occasions when "law enforcement provides the best method of incapacitating a terrorist threat." He said he would waive any military custody requirement if he decided that were the best course.

"Under no circumstances will my administration accept or adhere to a rigid across-the-board requirement for military detention," Obama said.

The new law, the National Defense Authorization Act, provides more than $660 billion for military pay raises, weapon systems, military contracts and funding for the war in Afghanistan. [Obama is a tax and spend war monger - That's a little over half a trillion for war]

Obama had threatened a veto at one point if Congress set limitations on his ability to confront terrorists. But White House aides said Saturday that Obama retained the discretion a commander in chief needed to protect the U.S. from Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

"The president is going to continue to adhere to the policies that he has held over the last three years, making sure that none of these congressional provisions impede the ability of the counter-terrorism and law enforcement and military professionals who are keeping this country safe," a senior White House aide told reporters Saturday in Hawaii, where the president is vacationing with his family.

Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said the new law aimed to "offer a structure for holding those who would do us harm." McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) said the structure was one "both parties found preferable to the ad hoc course the White House has been on for nearly four years."

As a candidate for office, Obama said he would be judicious in his use of signing statements. His predecessor, President George W. Bush, was criticized for issuing signing statements in which he invoked his executive authority to bypass certain provisions of laws he disliked. Answering a survey by the Boston Globe in 2007, Obama said that "it is a clear abuse of power to use such statements as a license to evade laws that the president does not like or as an end run around provisions designed to foster accountability." [Again Emperor Obama is pretty much a clone of Emperor Bush]

But Obama has made repeated use of signing statements, employing them 18 times in about the first 2 1/2 years of his presidency, according to Politifact, a respected fact-checking service. The White House has said Bush abused this power, but that Obama has invoked it only to raise constitutional concerns about bills passed by Congress.

Obama mentioned a provision in the defense bill that bars the transfer of detainees to foreign countries. Obama said this "hinders the executive's ability to carry out its military, national security and foreign relation activities" in ways that could violate constitutional separation of powers. He said his administration would interpret the law in a fashion that would not crimp his constitutional authority.

The White House also suggested it would not comply with a provision in the bill requiring Obama to send a report to Congress 60 days before sharing classified missile defense information with Russia. [So the American Emperor is above the law!]

Obama wrote that he wanted to keep Congress "fully informed" of efforts to "cooperate" with Russia on a ballistic missile defense system. But he said that the measure intruded on his "constitutional authority to conduct foreign affairs." [Well then veto the bill if it is unconstitutional]

Obama wrote that he would treat that and certain other provisions in the law as "nonbinding" should he determine that they "conflict with my constitutional authorities." [Again Emperor Obama thinks he is above the law]

The president based his argument partly on his success in combating Al Qaeda. He said he had employed a flexible approach that benefited from minimal congressional interference.

As president, he has chalked up major victories in the effort to destroy Al Qaeda. He ordered the special operations mission that killed Osama bin Laden. And his administration has launched strikes that have wiped out many of Al Qaeda's other leaders.

GOP plan: Use Obama’s own words against him

Hey Emperor Obama is fantastic when it comes to slinging the BS. While the Republican candidates can't sling the BS as well as Obama, they certainly tell as many lies as Emperor Obama does.

Perhaps this article should have been title:

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
If you want any meaningful change your only hope is to vote Libertarian. Of course in this elections there is one exception to that, which is Ron Paul. If Mr. Paul gets on the Republican ticket I will certainly vote for him.


GOP’s election battle plan: Use Obama’s own words against him

By Peter Wallsten, Sunday, January 1, 10:58 AM

With Republican voters in Iowa set to finally begin picking a nominee to challenge President Obama, GOP officials in Washington are quietly and methodically finishing what operatives are calling “the book” — 500 pages of Obama quotes and video links that will form the backbone of the party’s attack strategy against the president leading up to Election Day 2012.

The document, portions of which were reviewed by The Washington Post, lays out how GOP officials plan to use Obama’s words and voice as they build an argument for his defeat: that he made specific promises and entered office with lofty expectations and has failed to deliver on both.

Republican officials say they will leverage the party’s newly catalogued video library containing every publicly available utterance from Obama since his 2008 campaign. Television and Internet ads will juxtapose specific Obama promises of job gains, homeowner assistance, help for people in poverty, lower health insurance premiums and stricter White House ethics standards against government data and news clippings that paint a different reality.

The decision by GOP officials to finalize a strategy at this stage underscores the view, in both parties, that the general election campaign has begun — even if an official Republican nominee has not been selected.

The new GOP playbook is designed to take one of Obama’s great assets — the power of his oratory — and turn it into a liability. It details hundreds of potential targets, partially a result of a president who Republican strategists say is unusually prone to making detailed promises.

A 2009 Obama statement that his stimulus bill would lift 2 million Americans out of poverty, for example, is paired against census data showing that more than 6 million Americans have fallen into poverty since he took office. A pledge that an administration housing plan would “help between 7 and 9 million families restructure or refinance their mortgages” is paired against news reports showing the government spent far less than promised and aided fewer than 2 million. And his 2008 Democratic nomination acceptance speech vow that a green jobs initiative would create 5 million jobs is matched up against news reports from this year depicting lackluster results and headlines about Solyndra, the failed solar panel maker that received hundreds of millions in federal loan guarantees.

One Obama quote will be featured prominently: In 2009 he said on NBC’s “Today” show that if he could not fix the economy in three years, “then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”

“That’s a clip the American people will hear and see over and over and over again throughout the next year,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. “The nice thing about Barack Obama is that he’s given us plenty of material. The one thing he loves to do is give speeches.”

A similar in-his-own-words strategy has already been adopted by Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee designed to portray GOP front-runner Mitt Romney as a flip-flopper.

A “Mitt vs. Mitt” online video, showing Romney expressing opposing views on various issues over time, gained considerable attention and prompted a new round of questions from primary rivals and journalists about whether Romney can be trusted.

With a campaign war chest expected to total at least $750 million, the Obama campaign and the DNC are likely to continue hammering Romney’s shifting stances on hot-button issues to portray him as lacking a moral core.

At the same time, Obama’s team is compiling data to defend his record, such as a Congressional Budget Office report showing that the stimulus raised employment by millions of jobs and testimony from economists that the legislation helped end the Great Recession. Democratic strategists believe voters are more apt to see Romney as untrustworthy than to question the president’s leadership.

“Four years ago on Iowa caucus night, the president promised to make health care affordable and accessible for all Americans, put a middle class tax cut in the pockets of working Americans, start to free us from our dependence on foreign oil and end the war in Iraq — promises that have been fulfilled,” said Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt. “Compare that to a candidate like Mitt Romney who has been on both sides of every key issue and will say anything to try to hide that he was a corporate buyout specialist who bankrupted companies and fired workers and a governor with the third-worst job creation record in the country.”

GOP officials are set to roll out new attacks in the coming days, starting Tuesday on caucus day in Iowa with a new video showing clips from Obama’s victory speech there four years ago. The RNC will buy TV ad time in select battleground-state markets within weeks.

Once a nominee is established, the strategy book will then serve as a turnkey battle plan as the campaign and RNC staff begin close coordination.

A Romney win should make for an easy transition, as the book’s primary author, Joe Pounder, a 28-year-old specialist in the political dark arts and the RNC’s research director, is a former Romney campaign aide. And Romney appears to already have adopted the same approach — often quoting Obama directly and even visiting venues where Obama spoke as a candidate or as president.

Over the summer, Romney spoke at a now-shuttered Allentown, Pa., metal works factory that Obama had hailed a year earlier before it closed as a symbol of his economic success. The event was accompanied by a video, called “Obama Isn’t Working,” depicting images of the Obama visit coupled with a year-after picture of the abandoned factory floor.

Last week, Romney spoke in Davenport, Iowa, down the street from the spot where Obama gave one of his last pre-caucus campaign speeches four years earlier.

“He closed with these words: ‘This is our moment. This is our time,’ ” Romney said. “Well, Mr. President, you have now had your moment. We have seen the results. . . . You have failed to deliver on the promises you made here in Davenport.”

Several Republican strategists said that striking the right tone in attacking Obama will be tricky, because many Americans, even if they disapprove of his job performance, still see the country’s first black president as a historic and admirable figure. Polls show that most people like him personally — making them more likely to discount traditional attack ads.

Still, party officials believe many independent voters — more than eight in 10 of whom believe the country is on the wrong track, according to a November Washington Post-ABC News poll — are ready to accept the premise that Obama didn’t work out. Officials said they settled on the plan to use the president’s own words after examining private and public polls showing that the approach resonated with swing voters nationally and in key battlegrounds.

“Because the president remains personally well liked, [the GOP strategy] is a good way to not have to swim against that tide,” said Ed Gillespie, a former RNC chairman who is in regular contact with senior party officials. “It’s his own words.”

Similar conclusions emerged from months of focus groups and polling conducted by American Crossroads, the pro-GOP group that along with its affiliate, Crossroads GPS, expects to have raised $240 million during the 2011-12 cycle. A recent ad by the group featured a mom lying awake at night recalling that she backed Obama because he “spoke so beautifully” and promised recovery but now worrying that his policies were costly and ineffective.

“We don’t bang voters upside the head with an anti-Obama message, but we appeal to their sensibility that maybe they supported him in the past, and we make it okay for them to not support him now,” said Jonathan Collegio, a Crossroads spokesman.

The RNC’s Obama book reflects a number of technology developments since the last campaign, such as video archives that are searchable by keyword. It has been collected in part by a team of staff members and interns who spend each day in a windowless room on the RNC’s ground floor, staring at a dozen flat-screen TVs and monitoring the Web.

In the past, opposition research books took the form of three-ring binders. Many of those binders, dating to the 1976 race against President Jimmy Carter and spanning to the admittedly thin 2008 text on Obama, now sit on a bookshelf in the office of Pounder, the RNC research chief writing the 2012 book. This time, the document will exist only online, complete with links to videos, government reports, transcripts and other background material.

The new book contains more than a dozen chapters, including a 73-page section titled “The Obama Economy,” and has separate chapters logging local-level campaign promises delivered during stops in places such as Scranton, Pa., Denver and Cleveland.

When Obama heads out on the campaign trail, officials will use the newly compiled quotes and data to put in place a full-scale mobilization, including videos, op-eds in local papers, calls with local media and appearances by local GOP supporters all designed to highlight the president’s past statements in each locale, said Sean Spicer, the RNC’s spokesman. Promises relating to the Hispanic community will be fed to Hispanic bloggers and media.

“He made so many promises in so many places,” Spicer said. “The goal is whenever he does an interview in Scranton, Columbus, Ames, Cleveland or wherever, that every local reporter, blogger and concerned citizen says, ‘Hey, we’re armed here with information about the last time you were here, and we want you to answer to yourself.”

The strategy can be seen in several Internet ads produced by the party in recent weeks.

A video titled “Failed Promises: Scranton” was released in November to coincide with an Obama visit to the northeastern Pennsylvania city. It shows Obama speaking about jobs and the economy, his face depicted through shattered windows of an abandoned factory as job-loss stats flash across the screen.

Another RNC ad, “It’s Been Three Years,” shows Obama as a candidate saying the “real question” is whether Americans would be better off in four years. Then it shows a clip from an October ABC interview when he tells George Stephanopoulos that “I don’t think they’re better off than they were four years ago.”

The spot ends with Obama the 2008 candidate drawing roaring applause when he proclaims: “This country can’t take four more years of the same failed policies. It’s time to try something new.”

Polling analyst Scott Clement contributed to this report.

Obama circumvents Congress to make appointments

From what I saw on TV, the logic is the President can appoint people to jobs when Congress is not in session.

So in the past the President would wait till Congress was out of session to make his appointments. Which meant he didn't need Congress's approval for appointments.

To stop that Congress has held sham or pretend sessions where it is in session 365 days a year, but they do nothing on these sham session days.

In this case Obama said it was a sham Congressional session and didn't count so he appointed Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.


Obama circumvents Congress to make appointments

By Peter Nicholas, Lisa Mascaro and Jim Puzzanghera, Washington Bureau

January 4, 2012, 6:45 p.m.

Reporting from Washington and Shaker Heights, Ohio— President Obama kicked off the election year aggressively, picking a fight with congressional Republicans by sidestepping the Senate to fill the top job at the government's newly created consumer protection bureau.

He also filled three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board, which referees labor-management controversies — a priority of his allies in labor unions.

The appointments Wednesday, which had been stalled in the Senate, came as Obama moved to make confronting Congress a central part of his strategy for reelection. His job approval rating remains low, but Congress' standing is even lower — "as unpopular as Ebola virus" — as one administration aide recently put it. In a confrontation between the two, the president will have the upper hand, White House aides say. [ Maybe the White House slogan should be "We suck less than Congress"? Or perhaps, "There are more crooks in the Senate and the House, than in the White House"? ]

In the case of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the White House hopes to portray Obama as standing up for middle-class families and Republicans as beholden to banks and mortgage companies.

Underscoring the political theme, aides hung a large blue banner proclaiming "We can't wait" in the high school gymnasium here where Obama announced the appointment of Richard Cordray, Ohio's former attorney general, to head the bureau. It was Obama's 17th trip to Ohio, a major swing state in the election, and came the day after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won a narrow victory in the first contest in the Republican nomination battle. [ Don't worry, it's not about good government, it's about getting Obama reelected in 2012! ]

Cordray's nomination has been blocked in the Senate since summer by a Republican filibuster, which Obama said had hurt consumers. "Every day that we waited was another day when millions of Americans were left unprotected," he said. "Without a director in place, the consumer watchdog agency that we've set up doesn't have all the tools it needs to protect consumers against dishonest mortgage brokers or payday lenders and debt collectors who are taking advantage of consumers.

"That's inexcusable. It's wrong. And I refuse to take no for an answer."

Republicans reacted furiously. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) called Obama's move "an extraordinary and entirely unprecedented power grab." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the president had acted "arrogantly" and that his decision "fundamentally endangers the Congress' role in providing a check on the excesses of the executive branch."

Romney called the appointments "Chicago-style politics at its worst."

Obama made the appointments under his power to fill vacancies during a congressional recess. Republicans have been forcing the Senate into pro forma sessions much of the year to forestall precisely that move. They argue that Congress has not been on recess for more than three days at a time and that Obama's move broke a long-standing gentlemen's agreement over the use of recess appointments.

Democrats, under Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, sporadically used the same strategy of calling "pro forma" sessions to prevent President George W. Bush from making recess appointments. But the Republicans used the strategy throughout 2011 as the procedural arms race in Congress escalated.

White House lawyers believe that the pro forma sessions are a "gimmick," said Gene Sperling, the White House economic policy chief, and contend that Obama was within his authority.

In addition to Cordray, Senate Republicans have blocked nominations to the National Labor Relations Board, saying Obama's appointees were too favorable to unions. The stalemate had left the five-person board without a quorum to take most actions.

The appointments are almost certain to lead to legal challenges from businesses affected by the consumer bureau or the labor board. Unless a court rules otherwise, the nominees can serve until the end of 2013.

The procedural snarl comes on top of a bitterly waged substantive fight over the consumer bureau. Several Republicans have spoken highly of Cordray, but 44 GOP senators said last year they would block any nominee to the agency until changes were made to reduce its powers. That fight was part of an overall effort by Republicans to roll back parts of the 2010 financial reform law of which the consumer agency was a centerpiece.

Cordray's nomination got 53 votes last month, a majority, but short of the 60 needed to end a filibuster. Just one Republican, Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, voted with Democrats in his favor. Brown announced support of Cordray's appointment Wednesday. He is seeking reelection and is likely to be running against Democrat Elizabeth Warren, the liberal favorite who was largely credited with creating the new consumer bureau.

The impasse had stalled the bureau's ability to issue rules governing finance companies, payday lenders and mortgage brokers. The agency formally opened in July and took over existing government authority to regulate banks. But the law said it could not regulate other consumer finance industries until an agency director was in place.

Before his speech, Obama, along with Cordray, met at the Cleveland home of an elderly couple who had been victims of a mortgage scam. William and Endia Eason had signed up with a broker who took out loans intended for home repairs, pocketed the money and disappeared, according to the White House.

"The only reason Republicans in the Senate have blocked Richard is because they don't agree with the law that set up a consumer watchdog in the first place," Obama said. "They want to weaken the law. They want to water it down. And by the way, a lot of folks in the financial industry have poured millions of dollars to try to water it down.

"The financial firms have armies of lobbyists in Washington looking out for their interest," Obama said. "You need somebody looking out for your interest and fighting for you, and that's Richard Cordray."

Obama's move probably will further embitter relations between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. But Obama's advisors believe that lawmakers have little leverage over the White House in 2012. By contrast with previous years, when Obama advanced an ambitious legislative agenda, this year, the White House has identified only one "must-do" issue for Congress: renewal of the payroll tax cut through Dec. 31.

Obama received Reid's blessing for the confrontational strategy. The White House also made a cursory call to McConnell's office Wednesday morning before the announcement.

Reid criticized Republicans for blocking a vote on Cordray. "Americans are looking to us to find common ground, not grind the business of the American people to a halt until one side gets everything it wants," he said.

Obama gives bin Laden secrets to Hollywood big wigs?

I think when the American Empire murdered bin Laden it was wrong. But if Obama gives the details about the murder to a bunch of Hollywood big wigs they should be available to anybody on the planet.


White House's Hollywood ties scrutinized

by Greg Miller - Jan. 5, 2012 10:29 PM

Washington Post

WASHINGTON - Until it was over, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was one of the best-kept secrets in the history of Washington. Whether the Obama administration later went too far in spilling secrets about the operation to Hollywood is now getting at least a cursory look.

Newly released letters from the Pentagon and the CIA indicate they will examine their cooperation with Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and movie director Kathryn Bigelow on a forthcoming bin Laden film.

The letters were sent to Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, in response to his calls for an investigation into whether the Obama administration had given filmmakers "top-level access to the most classified mission in history."

When King first raised the issue in August, the administration scoffed, noting that the White House and other federal agencies routinely work with authors, filmmakers and others to ensure they have access to accurate information. A spokesman for the National Security Council called King's claims "ridiculous."

Months later, the CIA and Pentagon are being a little less dismissive.

The CIA offered no indication that it would formally investigate the matter but said its public-affairs office was "developing a written policy to create a single point of reference" to guide the agency on its interactions with filmmakers. The letter was signed by Patricia Lewis, deputy inspector general.

The Pentagon's Inspector General's Office went a step further, notifying the department's intelligence chief and special-operations command, among others, that "we plan to begin a subject investigation immediately."

The planned film from the director of "The Hurt Locker" has potential political implications. Sony moved its release date into 2013 amid concerns that a fall 2012 release could boost President Barack Obama's prospects one month before the presidential election.

Obama only lies when his lips are moving!!!


The fine print in Obama’s ‘Promises Kept’ ad

Posted by Glenn Kessler at 06:02 AM ET, 01/06/2012

One of the key issues in any president’s reelection campaign is whether he has kept his promises. So a web video released this week by the Obama campaign, in conjunction with the Iowa caucuses, can be seen as an example of the White House laying the groundwork for making the case that the president has kept his promises.

The video shows Obama making his victory speech four years ago in Iowa, and then interjects it with headlines showing how the president has met his pledge. The overall result is slick, but a careful viewer will note that the words that follow in the headlines do not always quite match up with the president’s words.

The Obama campaign provided extensive documentation--13 pages!--on their assertions in this ad. We have included a copy of the documention at the end so readers can judge for themselves. But we think this is an object lesson in how political ads can leave a misleading impression.

“I’ll be a president who finally makes health care affordable and available to every single American.”

--Obama 2008 speech

“Passed the Affordable Care Act to make health care more affordable for more than 30 million Americans.”

--headline after his statement

No matter what one thinks of Obama’s health care law, it was certainly a signature legislative achievement—the most sweeping health care law since the creation of Medicare. But notice that Obama said he would bring health care to “every single American,” but the headline simply says “more than 30 million Americans.”

That translates into 95 percent of nonelderly Americans—when the law is fully implemented in 2016. That is certainly an increase over the 82-percent level that would have been expected in the absence of the law, but it is not “every single American.”

Moreover, at this point it is debatable whether the law has made health care more affordable. Insurance premiums have gone up, in part because of new benefits mandated by the law. The Obama fact sheet cites a number of studies (many by Families USA, a pro-health care group) suggesting costs will go down for Americans because of the law; opponents can point to other studies, such as by the Congressional Budget Office, that costs could go up.

“I will be a president who ends tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and put a middle-class tax cut into the pockets of working Americans who deserve it.”

--Obama 2008 speech

“Cut taxes for 95% of working families and closed corporate loopholes that were sending profits overseas.”

--headline after his statement

We have no quibble with the tax-cut claim but the “ship jobs overseas” language immediately jumped out at us because Obama’s efforts to get this proposal enacted into law have repeatedly died in Congress.

Notice that the headline speaks of “sending profits overseas”—not sending jobs overseas.

The Obama campaign says this refers to a single loophole (not “loopholes”) that was closed. The loophole had allowed companies to avoid U.S. taxes on foreign profits while receiving a tax credit for taxes paid to foreign governments. Our friends at Politifact had previously faulted Obama for suggesting that closing this loophole had anything to do with shipping jobs overseas.

Here, the Obama campaign is trying to have its cake and eat it too, by quoting Obama and then running a headline that is factually correct but has nothing to do with his previous statement.

“I will be a president who harnesses the ingenuity of farmers and scientists and entrepreneurs to free the nation from the tyranny of oil once and for all.”

--Obama 2008 speech

“Put in place historic fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks to lower costs at the pump and reduce dependence on foreign oil.”

--headline after his statement

Strangely, the headline does not try to back up Obama’s pledge. But the Obama fact sheet provides some evidence of how the administration has invested in clean energy (no mention of the Solyndra controversy!) and how foreign oil imports have fallen.

But the phrase “lower costs at the pump” is not proven at all, and appears to be an effort to gloss over the fact the gasoline prices have risen sharply since Obama took office. (A president, of course, has little to do with rising oil prices.)

“I’ll be a president who ends this war in Iraq and finally brings our troops home.”

--Obama 2008 speech

“Ended the war in Iraq”

--headline after his statement

No argument there, though there is no mention of the fact that Obama significantly boosted troop levels in Afghanistan.

We asked the Obama campaign for comment. “President Obama’s record is clear – he’s ended the war in Iraq, made health care more affordable and accessible for Americans, cut taxes for working families while closing corporate tax loopholes and reduced our dependence on foreign oil,” said Obama campaign deputy press secretary Kara Carscaden. “Those achievements stand in stark contrast to our Republican opponents, who want to reverse the progress we’ve made and undo the promises we’ve kept.”

The Pinocchio Test

So has Obama kept these promises? The ad slickly suggests he did, but the disconnect between his words and some of the headlines is jarring, particularly in the case of cracking down on companies that ship jobs overseas. A word to the wise when watching these types of ads—read the fine print very carefully

One Pinocchio

Obama’s recess appointments are unconstitutional


Obama’s recess appointments are unconstitutional

By Edwin Meese III and Todd Gaziano, Published: January 5

Edwin Meese, who served as U.S. attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, is chairman of the Center for Legal & Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation. Todd Gaziano worked in the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel under three previous presidents and is director of Heritage’s Center for Legal & Judicial Studies.

President Obama’s attempt to unilaterally appoint three people to seats on the National Labor Relations Board and Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (after the Senate blocked action on his nomination) is more than an unconstitutional attempt to circumvent the Senate’s advise-and-consent role. It is a breathtaking violation of the separation of powers and the duty of comity that the executive owes to Congress.

Yes, some prior recess appointments have been politically unpopular, and a few have even raised legal questions. But never before has a president purported to make a “recess” appointment when the Senate is demonstrably not in recess. That is a constitutional abuse of a high order.

As a former U.S. attorney general and a former Office of Legal Counsel lawyer who provided advice to presidents on recess appointment issues, we have defended and will continue to defend the lawful use of the recess appointment power. Although originally conceived by the Framers for a time when communicating with and summoning senators back to the Capitol might take weeks, it is still valid in a modern age — but only as long as the Senate is in recess. Not only was the Senate not in recess when these purported appointments were made, it constitutionally could not have been.

Article I, Section 5, of the Constitution states that neither house of Congress may adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other house. The House of Representatives did not consent to a Senate recess of more than three days at the end of last year, and so the Senate, consistent with the requirements of the Constitution, must have some sort of session every few days.

The president and anyone else may object that the Senate is conducting “pro forma” sessions, but that does not render them constitutionally meaningless, as some have argued. In fact, the Senate did pass a bill during a supposedly “pro forma” session on Dec. 23, a matter the White House took notice of since the president signed the bill into law. The president cannot pick and choose when he deems a Senate session to be “real.”

It does not matter one whit that most members of Congress are out of town and allow business to be conducted by their agents under unanimous consent procedures, because ending a session of Congress requires the passage of a formal resolution, which never occurred and could not have occurred without the consent of the House.

President Obama is not the first to abuse the recess appointment power. Theodore Roosevelt did as well, but for almost 90 years the executive branch has generally agreed that a recess as recognized by the Senate of at least nine to 10 days is necessary before the president can fill any vacancies with a recess appointment.

When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) kept the chamber in pro forma sessions at the end of the George W. Bush administration, he declared that was sufficient to prevent Bush’s use of the recess appointment power. Reid was right, whether or not his tactics were justified.

President Obama’s flagrant violation of the Constitution not only will damage relations with Congress for years to come but will ultimately weaken the office of the presidency. There eventually may be litigation over the illegal appointments, but it will be a failure of government if the political branches do not resolve this injustice before a court rules. The White House has refused to admit or deny whether it received advice from the Justice Department (or overruled its advice), which is telling enough, but its campaign-style announcements about the propriety of its actions are not legally credible.

Congressional leaders of both parties must vigorously (though thoughtfully) defend their prerogatives. Senators could filibuster all presidential nominations, as Sen. Robert C. Byrd did in 1985 over a lesser recess appointment issue, until Obama rescinds these wrongful appointments. The House or Senate could condition all “must-pass” legislation for the remainder of 2012 on an agreement to rescind these appointments. The House also could require the attorney general to produce legal justification and testify at oversight hearings.

If Congress does not resist, the injury is not just to its branch but ultimately to the people. James Madison made clear that the separation of powers was not to protect government officials’ power for their sake but as a vital check on behalf of individual liberty. To prevent future tyrannical usurpations of power, Congress must act to redress this serious threat to our liberty.

Emperor Obama to give Federal workers a pay raise

"Federal employees are paid better, receive better benefits and enjoy unparalleled job security, compared to their private sector counterparts"

They like to call themselves "public servants", I consider them "public parasites", kind of like the "parasites" that occur in a monarchy or dictatorship. The folks that earn their pay by being loyal to the king, dictator or president, not the people.

I suspect this is more about getting "reelected" then about good government. There are about 2 million who might vote for Obama in 2012 if they get a pay raise.


White House calls for modest 0.5% pay raise for federal civilian workers

By Ed O’Keefe, Published: January 6

After a two-year freeze in federal workers’ salaries, President Obama will propose a 0.5 percent pay increase for civilian employees as part of his 2013 budget, senior administration officials said Friday.

The plan is likely to become part of an election-year confrontation between the White House and Congress over government spending. Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates have called for freezing basic pay rates for at least one more year, with some pitching it as a way to pay for extending the payroll tax cut.

Obama called for the pay freeze shortly after the November 2010 midterm elections, saying federal workers needed to share the burden of getting the deficit under control. The proposal disclosed Friday, which requires congressional approval, means that federal civilian employees would get a modest across-the-board pay jump next January.

Despite the freeze, raises have continued for workers who graduate into higher steps of the General Schedule pay system or who are promoted — a practice some GOP lawmakers say should be halted to help trim the federal debt.

Rep. Dennis A. Ross (R-Fla.), who chairs a House subcommittee overseeing the federal workforce, called the pay plan “pure politics” and labeled Obama “a public sector union puppet” for making the proposal.

“Federal employees are paid better, receive better benefits and enjoy unparalleled job security, compared to their private sector counterparts,” Ross said in a statement.

But administration officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly, said the White House would no longer support using pay freezes as a way to cut the federal deficit. And in a tight budget year, they said, the small increase was all they could afford.

The jump would be well below the 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment that took effect this week for Social Security recipients and most federal retirees to keep pace with inflation. It is also far below private-sector earnings, which climbed an average of roughly 2 percent in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The White House informed federal agencies of the decision Friday in order to put the finishing touches on its 2013 budget proposal, which is expected to be unveiled in early February.

Virtually nobody with a federal paycheck has had a significant raise in recent years. Obama froze the salaries of top West Wing staffers and political officials after taking office in 2009. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers have not had a raise in four of the past six years.

No decision has been made on a raise for uniformed military personnel, the officials said, although troops received a 1.6 percent pay bump this month. Lawmakers and federal worker unions traditionally push to ensure pay parity between civilian and military personnel, the standard practice for many years before 2009.

Some rank-and-file federal workers said Friday that the proposed raise is nominal at best and that they think they’ve sacrificed enough.

“My rent went up 10 percent in the last two years,” said Jared Hautamaki, an Environmental Protection Agency employee, adding that the proposed 0.5 percent increase “is an insult to federal workers.”

John Sakowski, a Food and Drug Administration employee from Bowie, said the raise would mean an additional $500 annually — less than $20 per paycheck, before taxes. “For that much, why bother?”

Nancy Bryant, a Department of Veterans Affairs employee from Waco, Tex., agreed. “I’m not a wealthy bureaucrat. I’m a low-level administrative worker who lives paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “I’ve been sacrificing a great deal by having my pay frozen.”

Bruce Rodman, with the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board in Naperville, Ill., said that he felt fortunate to potentially earn a raise but that considering the small percentage, “why not just freeze salaries for another year?”

The federal government has about 2 million civilian federal employees, with about 85 percent of them living and working outside the Washington area. The federal sector added about 2,000 jobs in December, according to statistics released Friday.

Federal law calls for raises based on the rate of private-sector wage growth as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, although in practice, increases are negotiated in the budget process. By increasing salaries by just 0.5 percent, administration officials said the government would save $2 billion in fiscal 2013.

Federal worker union leaders said that Friday’s news wouldn’t help workers much — nor shield them from potentially devastating GOP cost-cutting proposals.

“It’s obviously not going to have a real impact on their ability to spend money or help the economy or stay even with the private sector,” said Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union. “It’s a move in the right direction, just not as substantive as it could have been.”

John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said that GOP cost-cutting proposals remain “a real threat” as lawmakers begin meeting to hammer out a long-term deal on the payroll tax cut. But any cost-cutting plan that targets federal jobs and pay is “shortsighted,” he said.

Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.), whose district is home to about 65,000 federal employees, said Friday that small pay increases and a sustained effort to cut federal pay and benefits could compel federal workers to retire early or quit.

Sakowski, the FDA worker from Bowie, said he may do just that.

“When the economy eventually rebounds, I’ll take my education and experience and flee government service for the private sector,” he said.

Staff writers Ryan Kellett and Eric Yoder contributed to this report.

Mavericks’ Delonte West: ‘I’m banned from going to the White House’

If we are going to ban alleged criminals from the White House, why not ban alleged criminals from paying taxes too. I will gladly pass up any opportunities to met the American Emperor if I don't have to pay taxes for the rest of my life.


Mavericks’ Delonte West: ‘I’m banned from going to the White House’

By Kelly Dwyer

White House bans basketball player Delonte West of the Dallas Mavericks for a victimless drug war crime c onviction The Dallas Mavericks have earned themselves a visit to the White House on Monday, as each of the 2011 champions will be awarded a meeting with President Barack Obama, along with new editions to the 2011-12 Mavs outfit. All save for one Maverick, oft-troubled off guard Delonte West.

West, who had a high profile arrest over two years ago while under the influence of prescribed medication, is "banned" (to use his words) from stepping foot in the White House after the President's security team ran a routine background check on the guard.

Dwain Price of the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram quoted West following Saturday night's Mavericks win:

"I'm banned from going to the White House, so I'm not going to make it,'' West said after tonight's 96-81 win over the New Orleans Hornets. "But I'm going home to D.C., I'm just not allowed to go to the White House. That's what happens when you make bad decisions in your life. You can't go to the White House.''
I've been there 100 times in my lifetime,'' said West, who was born in D.C. "I live right around the corner. I live in D.C. It's going to be ashamed the President isn't going to get a chance to meet me. I'm the president of my house.''

The oddly-worded admission came on what appeared to be a seemingly rough night for West, who later went on a Twitter rant following his session with Dallas reporters. The profane Tweets, since deleted, can be found here. Why West targeted former Akron Beacon Journal Cavaliers beat writer Brian Windhorst (someone that covered West, seemingly without incident, for two years), who now writes for ESPN and wasn't at the Mavericks' game on Saturday, is beyond me.

As has been the case since he entered the NBA in 2004, West remains a talented starting-caliber guard who certainly can put a very good team -- like the Mavs -- over the top. But even while medicated his moods tend to swing, and being constantly reminded of his previous mistakes certainly isn't helping much. Journalists can't be asked to back off, though. Especially when he'll conspicuously be the lone Maverick left off the bus ride to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Monday.

I will now back off and let what will almost certainly become the strangest comment sections in the history of the internet take over from here.

Emperor Obama to visit Phoenix Jan 25


President Obama to visit Arizona Jan. 25

by Dan Nowicki and Erin Kelly - Jan. 18, 2012 11:54 AM

The Republic |

In another sign that Democrats believe that they might carry Arizona in the 2012 election, President Barack Obama will travel to the Phoenix area on Jan. 25, a White House official confirmed Wednesday.

The president's trip to Arizona will be part of a five-state, three-day swing across the country that will begin the day after he delivers his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday.

In addition to Arizona, the president will visit Iowa, Colorado, Michigan and Nevada, all potential swing states in this year's presidential election.

The White House will release more details about the trip as they become available.

Obama did not carry Arizona in the 2008 race, but Democrats have blamed that at least partly on the home-state advantage of Sen. John McCain, Obama's Republican opponent that year.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman and Democratic National Committee chairwoman, told The Arizona Republic last month that "all the ingredients are here for Arizona to be in play," including a growing Hispanic population that should favor Democrats.

Obama has strayed from transparency pledge


Latest moves prove Obama has strayed from transparency pledge

Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 4:41 pm

Guest Commentary by Michael “Winey” Weinstein

We all remember President Obama's campaign promise of "transparency" in government. Just a day after he was inaugurated as our 44th President of the United States, he promised us a new era of "openness in the government."

In one of his first memos to the federal agencies he was now directing, he wrote, "We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government."

Huh! I wonder what happened to all that transparency. As a matter of fact, many on both sides of the aisle believe that this President has been far from transparent. Perhaps, even one of the most nontransparent Presidents this nation has ever seen.

Nothing could be more indicative to this argument than his latest abuse of power. Last week, President Obama circumvented our system of "checks and balances" by making four critical recess appointments while the senate was away.

In this move, the President appointed three officials to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and awarded Richard Cordray the post of director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). All four of the appointments have the potential to be disastrous to the country.

"The move is a breathtaking violation of the separation of powers," according to former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese, among others.

What was President Obama's rationale? Simple, "We can't wait!" What the President couldn't wait for was for the system of "checks and balances" setup by the Constitution to take is due course.

To many experts, this is a clear violation of the legislative process and an abuse of the Constitution's mandated process. Isn't this what or forefathers feared? Isn't this what they worked hard to guard us against?

What I find the most ironic about the President's moves is the fact that he taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992-2004. It makes me wonder what he taught his students. Perhaps: when the Constitution gets in your way, ignore it.

So, what do these recess appointments mean? For starters, the CFPB will now have absolute power to issue more and more regulations and red tape upon our business sector. That's what we need! To strangle American business even more. I guess that "laser beam" on jobs was not to create jobs, but to obliterate them.

Through the NLRB appointment, the President will have more power to advance his agenda to give unions more power. Again, this will ultimately cripple the job growth we were promised. It seems that everything the President's hands touch turns to unemployment.

Now, before you get all up in arms about the latest unemployment numbers, let's take into account the real unemployment among this nation and the temporary jobs created through the Christmas season. The next quarter will reveal the truth.

When will this continual abuse of power stop? At least the President is not longer teaching future lawyers and lawmakers about the content found in our Constitution.

Emperor Obama seeing a little rain fall


Emperor Obama seeing a little rain fall

Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2012 3:28 pm

Guest Commentary by Michael Reagan

Much like one of his predecessors, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Barack Obama has all but declared war on the United States Supreme Court.

It will be remembered that in 1937 FDR was angry over the high court's refusal to put a stamp of approval on much of his New Deal agenda, and sought to bend the court to his will by adding new members to the existing court membership.

Contemptuously calling the court's members a collection of "nine old men," FDR sought to "pack" the high court with up to six additional members more likely to do his bidding. The proposal lost steam and, thankfully, failed.

Mr. Obama has not gone quite that far - yet. But he's getting close. Like most U.S. presidents who chafe under the high court's authority to rule on the constitutionality of aspects of their agendas, Obama is unhappy with the court's failure to recognize the divinity of his proposals, if not that of his personhood.

Too bad. As we are often reminded, "Into each life some rain must fall."

Thanks to the high court, Mr. Obama has been much in need of an umbrella of late. The president's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was correctly overruled in a case involving religious freedom. The court clearly stated that the First Amendment protects churches in their decisions regarding workers with religious duties, a "ministerial exception" to employment-discrimination laws. This exception had already been supported by lower courts and many states.

Tragically for Mr. Obama and his vastly elevated ego, choirs of angels singing of the glories of his agenda cannot be heard. Despite the frantic efforts of his captive media to tune them in, the president remains a mere mortal, subject to all the slings and arrows that always target any holder of high office.

Soon the issue before the court will be Mr. Obama's health care program, rammed through Congress despite the widespread opinion that it was, and remains, nothing short of an opening to national socialized medicine. A ruling is expected by early July.

The question is whether the Constitution's Commerce Clause can be stretched beyond recognition to reach into everyone's pocketbook with the Obamacare mandate. We pray that the Supreme Court will put the question to rest with an emphatic rejection.

The notorious failings of Britain's socialized medicine have not failed to diminish the hopes and plans of our own fans of socialized everything - of a government so big and so powerful that nothing can resist its meddlesome reach.

That is a lesson Barack Hussein Obama has yet to learn. If he doesn't learn his lesson by July, he will certainly learn it in November.

Obama touting tourism for jobs

If Emperor Obama wants tourists to visit the USA his jackbooted homeland security thugs who inspect, feel up, search, steal toe nail clippers and fingernail files from travelers and terrorize plane passengers need to go.

Of course the real way to create jobs in the USA is thru less government regulations, not a bunch of silly executive orders aimed at getting Obama reelected in 2012.


Obama touting tourism for jobs

Plan to lure visitors to U.S. may aid Ariz.

by Daniel González - Jan. 19, 2012 11:00 PM

The Republic |

President Barack Obama said Thursday that he wants to create more jobs by drawing more international tourists to the United States, a plan White House officials said would especially benefit states like Arizona, home to the Grand Canyon and other national parks.

Creating jobs has become a central part of Obama's re-election campaign. On Wednesday, Obama will visit the Valley as part of a five-state tour to build upon themes -- likely jobs and economic development -- that he will emphasize Tuesday in his annual address to Congress.

He unveiled his new tourism plan Thursday at Walt Disney World in the battleground state of Florida.

White House officials said the president wants to create jobs by boosting international tourism, which has suffered in part amid tighter restrictions put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Obama on Thursday directed top officials from the Commerce and Interior departments to come up with a plan to create tourism and recreation jobs by promoting foreign travel to the nation's national parks, monuments, historic sites, wildlife refuges and public lands. The Interior Department manages national parks, monuments and other public lands.

White House officials listed Arizona among several states that will reap the most benefits from the initiative because tourism and outdoor recreation already play a large role in Arizona's economy and the state's iconic landscapes and many national parks and monuments already draw visitors from all over the world.

Tourism is a $17.7 billion industry in Arizona, and there are 152,200 jobs directly generated by tourism, according to the state Office of Tourism. Tourism in Arizona generates a total of $2.5 billion in local, state and federal taxes, the office said.

In 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, 4.7 million international tourists visited Arizona, according to the Office of Tourism.

To boost international tourism, the Obama administration will focus on drawing more visitors from developing countries with fast-growing middle-class travelers, notably Brazil, China and India, White House officials said.

Obama directed the State Department to speed up the processing of applications for visitor visas to the U.S. from travelers in Brazil and China, officials said.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer welcomes more international tourism, but she is concerned that granting more tourism visas could lead to an increase in illegal immigration, said Matthew Benson, her spokesman.

"Tourism is immensely important to the Arizona economy," Benson said. "At the same time, we know that roughly half the individuals in this country illegally overstay their visas, so the key is going to be in how these additional visas are managed. By all means, we want international tourists to come to Arizona, see our beautiful state, spend some money and then go home."

In her budget proposal released last week, Brewer included $7 million for the state's Office of Tourism, partly so it can better market Arizona to national and international visitors.

"I don't think there's any question that we recognize the value of bringing in more national tourists, as well as tourists from these international markets," Benson said.

Arizona tourism officials said Obama's plan to boost international tourism is good news for the state.

"Anything that helps increase international tourism is going to help Arizona because it gives us an opportunity to promote the state," said Kiva Couchon, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Tourism.

In the past, Arizona has primarily focused its tourism-promotion campaigns in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany and France. About 70 percent of international tourists to the state come from Mexico, Couchon said.

But, more recently, the state has targeted Brazil, China and South Korea because those countries have growing numbers of tourists interested in visiting the U.S., she said.

"They are countries showing interest in the United States as a destination," Couchon said. "Now, we are trying to get them to understand Arizona as a destination."

As part of his tourism plan, Obama also announced that, by executive order, he is making permanent a pilot program that allows returning U.S. citizens to more quickly pass through immigration and customs checkpoints at airports.

The program is being expanded to airports in four cities, including Phoenix, White House officials said. The others airports are in Charlotte, Denver and Minneapolis.

The program is already in place at airports in 20 cities, Customs and Border Protection officials said.

The Global Entry program is one way the Department of Homeland Security and CBP maintain "the highest standards of security" while promoting travel and tourism to stimulate the economy, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said.

"Global Entry expedites the customs and security process for trusted air travelers through biometric verification and will improve customer service at airports across the country," she said.

In addition to U.S. citizens, the federal government plans to expand the program to allow international travelers from some countries, including the Netherlands and Mexico, to apply for speedy entry into the U.S., CBP officials said.

To be approved, U.S. travelers currently must pass a background checks and interview and submit fingerprints in order to use their passport to quickly pass through immigration and customs checkpoints upon their return to the U.S. from traveling abroad.

Heather Lissner, a spokeswoman for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, said airport officials support the program.

Republic reporter Yvonne Wingett Sanchez contributed to this article.

CIA officer charged with leaking classified info to press

This guy should be awarded the "medal of honor", instead he gets arrested.

And of course it offers more evidence that Emperor Obama is pretty much just a clone of Emperor Bush! - this "marks the fifth time during the Obama administration that charges of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 have been brought against current or former government officials who allegedly leaked information to journalists"


Former CIA officer charged with leaking classified info to press

By Ken Dilanian

January 23, 2012, 1:20 p.m.

A former CIA officer is facing decades in prison after being charged Monday with disclosing classified information to journalists, the latest in an unprecedented Obama administration crackdown against national security leaks.

John Kiriakou, who made news in 2007 when he became one of the first CIA operatives to speak publicly about water boarding, is accused of providing secrets, including the name and activities of one his undercover colleagues, to reporters. One reporter is alleged to have turned over the name of the covert CIA officer to lawyers for Guantanamo Bay prisoners, who were seeking to identify CIA employees involved in coercive interrogations.

The journalist and the defense lawyers were not charged.

The case against Kiriakou marks the fifth time during the Obama administration that charges of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 have been brought against current or former government officials who allegedly leaked information to journalists — a record unmatched in any previous administration, said Steven Aftergood, who follows the intelligence community for the Federation of American Scientists.

A sixth defendant, Bradley Manning, has been charged under the act in connection with alleged disclosure of documents to the website Wikileaks.

CIA Director David Petraeus issued a statement Monday saying the agency backed the investigation.

"Unauthorized disclosures of any sort — including information concerning the identities of other agency officers — betray the public trust, our country, and our colleagues," he said.

Aftergood and other skeptics of official secrecy questioned how the government could use the Espionage Act to prosecute people who are not accused of spying for another country or terrorist group, but instead are accused of providing information to reporters.

"What's missing from all these cases is any allegation that these people have actually caused harm to the United States," said Jesselyn Radack, National Security and Human Rights director for the Government Accountability Project, who represented former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake in an Espionage Act case that collapsed last year.

In a criminal complaint, the Justice Department alleges that it possesses emails from Kiriakou to journalists in which he disclosed classified information. When confronted about it during a meeting on Jan. 12 with FBI agents, who recorded the interview, Kiriakou flatly denied doing so, the document says.

The complaint also charges Kiriakou with trying to include classified information in his memoir by lying to the CIA's Publication Review Board, which reviews and approves all written material by former CIA officers. The book, published in 2010, was titled, "Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror."

Kiriakou is charged with two counts of violating the Espionage Act, which each carry a maximum term of 10 years in prison; one count of making false statements, which carries a maximum prison term of five years; and one count of illegally disclosing a covert officer's name, which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and must be served in addition to any other prison term.

The investigation of Kiriakou was led by Patrick Fitzgerald, who in 2007 successfully prosecuted former vice presidential aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby for telling journalists the name of Valerie Plame, who at the time was a covert CIA officer.

Fitzgerald was appointed by the Justice Department as special counsel in January 2009 to look into how detainees at Guantanamo obtained photographs of U.S. government employees and contractors. The investigation revealed they got them from their defense team, and that an investigator on the team had obtained the names of two CIA officers from a reporter. Emails showed the reporter got them from Kiriakou, the federal complaint says.

More on that "Food Stamp President" thing

Many years ago when I worked for DES I found out that 1 out of every 10 people gets food stamps. I was rather shocked. Today it is worse. I think 1 out of every 8 people now get food stamps. Who says America ain't a socialist police state?

Next time you are getting your groceries at Fry's, Basha's or Safeway remember that for every 8th guy in line, the 7 people in front of him are being forced by the government to pay for the 8th guy's food.

"Food stamp use has soared over the last decade, and now some 44 million people receive the assistance" (That is about 14 percent of America's 300 million population)


Who's getting food?

Fraud is a risk to federal safety-net programs

January 23, 2012

Newt Gingrich revels in politics by hand grenade, and he tossed one last week when he said "more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history." Gingrich implied this was evidence of a White House that wants to expand public dependency on the government.

If Gingrich hadn't been so intent on scoring lusty cheers at a South Carolina presidential primary debate, he might have clued people into an important and unsettling issue.

Food stamp use has soared over the last decade, and now some 44 million people receive the assistance. You can call this a bipartisan phenomenon: reports that the number of people using food stamps jumped by 14.7 million during Republican George W. Bush's term and has risen by 14.2 million so far under Democrat Obama.

The nation's economic troubles explain much of that. Unemployment was just 4.2 percent in January, 2001. Even with three successive months of decline, it stood at 8.5 percent last month.

But joblessness doesn't explain all of what's going on with food assistance. Program costs have shot up from $16 billion in fiscal 2001 to $76 billion in the last fiscal year — far outpacing inflation, unemployment, poverty rates or any other relevant measure.

The federal government operates two-dozen food subsidy programs. The most important federal anti-hunger programs operate under the Agriculture Department, including school lunches and the biggest of them all: food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

SNAP provides money to low-income households to buy food at approved retailers. In Illinois, recipients receive their benefit electronically on plastic "LINK" cards that work like debit cards.

The freefalling economy accounted for part of the spending increase between 2007 and 2010, but a bigger share of the increase came from rule changes, a University of Chicago study shows. Relaxed eligibility standards and a boost in maximum benefits accounted for much more of the additional spending than did the poor economy, the study shows.

More people eligible for food stamps are collecting them. In a meeting last week with the Tribune editorial board, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said his agency, which runs the program jointly with state governments, has worked diligently to raise participation rates.

A healthy economy producing more jobs and better wages will be the best antidote to rising food stamp demands. But the government does need to do a better job of oversight on eligibility. The government should assist the poor … but not everyone who figures out how to claim free food. We don't see enough scrutiny to separate need from fraud in government food programs.

A recent Chicago Tribune analysis of the federal free-lunch program in Chicago Public Schools uncovered disturbing signs of fraud. Far more students receive the benefit than would be expected, based on participation rates in related anti-poverty programs.

Apparently it's common and easy to fool Uncle Sam.

In one case, the Tribune reported, when an application for the program showed a student's family made too much money to qualify for free lunch, a school clerk provided a fresh form to be resubmitted with falsified information. "Nobody checks the applications anyway," the clerk explained.

Vilsack tells us that fraud in food-subsidy programs is at a record low. But he also tells us that his agency is cutting its staff, even as the number of Americans claiming food stamps has soared. The agency relies on state administrators to weed out recipients who don't belong on the program. States are cutting back staff sharply too.

Law enforcement tends to uncover food-stamp fraud in the course of investigating other crimes. Just before Christmas, for instance, a resident of East St. Louis, Ill., was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison in a tax-fraud case. Turned out she lied to obtain food stamps as well. In fiscal 2011, states disqualified 44,483 individuals for fraud. That represents one-tenth of 1 percent of program participants.

In December, the Agriculture Department announced "new tactics" to combat fraud, but they don't inspire confidence. Among them, for instance, was a "policy clarification" saying that offering food stamps for sale on Craigslist or Facebook is a no-no. The department claims that illegal trafficking in food stamps has fallen from four cents on the dollar in 1993 to a penny on the dollar between 2006 to 2008, which it refers to as the "current level," despite the huge numbers who have qualified for benefits since 2008.

If it took the agency until the end of last year to address the trafficking potential of social media, its claims about "current" fraud levels should be viewed skeptically.

The Agriculture Department and a lot of other government agencies are going to face significant constraints on spending in the coming years. They have to justify every dollar. The government can justify spending to provide sustenance to the poor … but it has to make sure that that sustenance goes to the poor.

We've seen enough reports about forms being falsified, LINK cards being bartered for cash and subsidies going to the deceased to conclude that oversight needs improvement. Taxpayers should have assurance that their money is going to those who need it. Continued support for these important safety-net programs depends on public confidence in their integrity.

Remember that school clerk: "Nobody checks ..." Start checking, and see what turns up.

FACT CHECK: Gingrich flubs history in GOP debate

They are not lying, they are saying how things where supposed to have been. At least that's what they think.


FACT CHECK: Gingrich flubs history in GOP debate

By CALVIN WOODWARD | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Newt Gingrich called rival Mitt Romney a "terrible historian" but flubbed his own history in Congress on Monday night when he claimed the nation ran four consecutive budget surpluses during his time as House speaker. Romney attacked Gingrich's financial links to Freddie Mac while ignoring his own.

The accusations were fast out of the gate in the latest Republican presidential debate, and reality got tromped in the process.

A look at some of claims and how they compare with the facts:


GINGRICH: "When I was speaker, we had four consecutive balanced budgets."

THE FACTS: Actually, two.

The four straight years of budget surpluses were 1998 through 2001. Gingrich left Congress in 1999, so he only had a hand in surpluses for his last two years. The budget ran deficits for his first two years as speaker.

The highest surplus of that four-year string came in budget year 2000, after Gingrich was out of office.

Overall, the national debt went up during the four years Gingrich was speaker. In January 1995, when he assumed the leadership position, the gross national debt was $4.8 trillion. When he left four years later, it was $5.6 trillion, an increase of $800 billion.


ROMNEY: "I don't think we can possibly retake the White House if the person who's leading our party is the person who was working for the chief lobbyist of Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac was paying Speaker Gingrich $1.6 million at the same time Freddie Mac was costing the people of Florida millions upon millions of dollars."

THE FACTS: While going after Gingrich forcefully on the issue, Romney did not mention his own earnings from the government-backed lender and its sister entity, Fannie Mae, which came to light in his most recent financial disclosure report.

The report shows he has as much as $500,000 invested in the two lenders. GOP presidential hopefuls almost across the board have blamed the two institutions for contributing to the housing crisis that helped to drag the nation into recession. Among Romney's ties: a mutual fund worth up to $500,000 that includes assets from both lenders among other government income, and separate investments in each of the lenders in Romney's individual retirement account, each worth between $100,000 and $250,000.

Romney campaign officials said Monday the investments were handled by a trustee with no direction by the candidate.


GINGRICH: "I left the speakership after the 1998 election because I took responsibility for the fact that our results weren't as good as they should be. I think that's what a leader should do. I took responsibility. And I didn't want to stay around, as Nancy Pelosi has. I wanted to get out and do other things."

ROMNEY: "He had to resign in disgrace."

RON PAUL: "I think the reason he didn't ... run for speaker, you know, two years later — he didn't have the votes. That was what the problem was. So this idea that he voluntarily reneged and he was going to punish himself because we didn't do well in the election, that's just not the way it was."

THE FACTS: Gingrich didn't exactly resign in disgrace after he became the first speaker reprimanded and fined for ethics violations, slapped with a $300,000 penalty, in January 1997. He limped to re-election as speaker after that. But his number was soon up.

Within months, he was fending off a revolt from fellow Republicans weary of his antics and mercurial ways.

As Paul suggested in the debate, unexpected GOP losses in the 1998 elections were the last straw for Gingrich in the eyes of House Republicans. Three days later Gingrich announced he was stepping down as speaker and giving up his seat in Congress.

Paul's recollection now is supported by some of Gingrich's words back then. He told Republicans, "I'm willing to lead but I'm not willing to preside over people who are cannibals," sounding less like a man interested in a career change than one intent on escaping a boiling pot.


ROMNEY: "Our Navy is now smaller than any time since 1917. And the president is building roughly nine ships a year. We ought to raise that to 15 ships a year. Under this president, under prior presidents, we keep on shrinking our Navy."

THE FACTS: Romney is correct about the size of the Navy, but the numbers alone don't tell the story.

At 285 ships the Navy is small by its own historical standards but still larger than the navies of the next several nations combined. These days, it's not how many ships but what they can do. There is a longstanding trend toward smaller numbers of more complex and expensive vessels.

Still, the Navy has noted the smaller size of the current fleet and plans to add 28 ships over several years. The shrinking of the fleet size has spanned Republican and Democratic administrations, as the Navy restructures and plans for the addition of new platforms.


RICK SANTORUM: "One of (my proposals) would be to be able to deduct losses from the sale of your home. Right now you can't do that. You have to pay gains, depending on the amount, but you can't deduct the losses, as other capital losses can be."

THE FACTS: For a brief description, it was accurate. What Santorum did not explain, in appealing to Floridians who have one of the worst housing markets in the country, is that the tax code is already stacked in favor of home ownership.

Homeowners get many tax breaks from the government, most notably mortgage interest and property tax deductions. Under federal law, when you sell your private residence, you can make up to $250,000 in profit — $500,000 if you are married — and not owe any capital gains taxes. That's a large tax break. There's no such break if you have such a profit in selling stocks or works of art.

But there is a trade-off: You can't claim a loss when you sell your private residence.


ROMNEY: President Barack Obama's $814 billion economic stimulus program "didn't create private-sector jobs."

THE FACTS: There is no support for that assertion. Between 1.2 million and 3.7 million full-time-equivalent jobs were created last year because of the stimulus, according to an August 2011 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Meanwhile, another government report found the stimulus program has paid $34.5 billion in tax incentives to businesses, including $260 million to hire younger, unemployed war veterans.

Economists debate whether the stimulus lived up to its promise or was worth the cost, but no one seriously argues that it created no jobs. Many believe it helped to end the recession even while falling short of its employment goals.


Associated Press writers Tom Raum, Jim Drinkard, Anne Gearan and Jack Gillum contributed to this report.

Gingrich’s firm paid $25,000 a month by Freddie Mac


Gingrich’s firm paid $25,000 a month by Freddie, according to contract

Gingrich’s former firm releases Freddie Mac contract

By Dan Eggen, Published: January 23

GOP candidate Newt Gingrich, who has said he never lobbied on behalf of his consulting clients, reported to a top lobbyist with Freddie Mac as part of a $25,000-a-month contract, according to records released late Monday.

The one-year contract overseen by Freddie Mac executive Craig Thomas represents only a portion of the former House speaker’s long relationship with the mortgage giant, which spanned eight years and resulted in at least $1.6 million in fees for Gingrich’s empire.

The partial documentation also appears unlikely to quell escalating demands from GOP rival Mitt Romney, who has sharply criticized Gingrich for his lucrative career collecting tens of millions of dollars in fees from Freddie Mac, health-care firms and other clients.

The attacks, repeated in Monday night’s presidential debate, are part of an attempt by Romney to blunt Gingrich’s momentum after a commanding primary victory in South Carolina on Saturday. A new ad from the Romney campaign alleges that Gingrich “cashed in” on the housing meltdown by taking money “from the scandal-ridden agency that helped create the crisis.”

The 15 pages of documents released late Monday consisted primarily of contractual boilerplate, along with signature pages laying out the $300,000 annual fee. The “scope of services and fees” consists of a single paragraph with no details.

The Gingrich campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether it planned to release any more Freddie Mac records.

Gingrich has offered varying explanations for his ties to the mortgage company, initially claiming he was hired as a “historian” and later characterizing himself as a strategic adviser. Gingrich and his supporters have repeatedly denied that he acted as a lobbyist for Freddie Mac or any other client.

“If you read the contract,” Gingrich said in Monday’s debate, “. . . I was supposed to do consulting work. There is no place in the contract that provides for lobbying.”

Thomas, who at the time was director of public policy at Freddie Mac, was identified as the “project director” in the Gingrich contract. Thomas was listed as a lobbyist for Freddie Mac in 2000, 2005 and 2006, according to disclosure records.

The Freddie Mac contract is part of a series of tit-for-tat releases between Gingrich and Romney, who is releasing his 2010 tax returns after withering attacks from Gingrich on the issue. Gingrich released records last week showing that he and his wife paid an effective federal tax rate of about 32 percent on income of $3.14 million.

Gingrich has been dogged for months by questions about his lucrative consulting contracts with Freddie Mac, a government-sponsored mortgage company that is viewed by many conservatives as a prime cause of the housing crisis. Gingrich has said he warned the company about its “insane” lending practices.

Bloomberg News reported that Gingrich had earned up to $1.8 million from Freddie Mac from 1999 to 2008 to build support among Republicans for its private-public business model. The Gingrich campaign disputed portions of the report, but resisted releasing any documents from the arrangement until now.

In an explanation on its Web site, the Gingrich campaign says that “at no time did Gingrich lobby for Freddie Mac,” nor did he “ever advocate against pending legislation affecting Freddie Mac.” The campaign said Gingrich “offered strategic advice” to Freddie Mac and a “very wide range of clients” through his consulting firm.

Gingrich also repeatedly sought to play down his personal role in the contract, suggesting in one interview that he only spent about an hour a month talking with Freddie Mac officials.

The Freddie Mac contracts were just a small part of a vast financial empire, often dubbed Newt Inc., assembled over the past decade. The private and nonprofit groups led by Gingrich brought in an estimated $150 million since he left Congress.

One entity, a think tank called the Center for Health Transformation, collected dues of up to $200,000 per year from insurers, hospitals and other health-care firms in exchange for “access to Newt Gingrich” and political advice, according to records and interviews.

Why does he want a job that pays a measly $400,000

If Mitt Romney made $45 Million the last two years I wonder why he is running for President which pays a lousy $400,000 per year with a dinky $50,000 expense allowance?


January 24, 2012, 12:35 am

Romney Tax Returns Show 2-Year Income of $45 Million


Mitt Romney’s campaign released details of his federal tax returns on Tuesday morning, showing that he is likely to pay a total of $6.2 million in taxes on $45 million in income over the two tax years of 2010 and 2011. (View full returns here)

The details of the returns, confirmed by a senior campaign official, provide the most detailed view yet of his wealthy family’s finances. The disclosure comes after a barrage of pressure to release his returns — which Mr. Romney has never done, even when he was elected governor of Massachusetts.

The disclosure — reported early Tuesday by The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News — showed a vast array of investments, from a recently closed Swiss bank account to holdings in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, all underscoring the breadth and depth of his wealth, which has become a central issue in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Mr. Romney said last week that his effective tax rate was “about 15 percent,” a figure lower than that of many affluent Americans. But his returns suggested that he paid an effective tax rate of nearly 14 percent.

In addition to his 2010 taxes, Mr. Romney is set to release estimates for his 2011 taxes, which he will file in April. The campaign will report that he will pay $3.2 million in taxes for 2011, for an effective tax rate of 15.4 percent. That is a slightly higher effective rate than he paid the year before, when he paid about $3 million to the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Romney, a Mormon, has long said that he had promised to give 10 percent of his income to his church. His tax return shows that over two years he and his wife, Ann, gave $7 million in charitable contributions, including $4.1 million to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more,” Mr. Romney said during Monday night’s debate. “I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes.”

Mr. Romney also said that there were “no surprises” in his tax returns. Referring to the fact that nearly all of his income is taxed as capital gains at a 15 percent rate, rather than as earned income at rates of up to 35 percent, Mr. Romney questioned a proposal by Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, to reduce capital gains taxes to zero.

“Under that plan, I’d have paid no taxes in the last two years,” Mr. Romney said.

The Romneys hold as much as a quarter of a billion dollars in assets, much of it derived from Mr. Romney’s time as founder and partner in Bain Capital, a private equity firm. And in federal financial disclosures Mr. Romney made when he began his presidential campaign he said those assets generated at least $9.6 million in income in 2010 and part of 2011, most of it from capital gains, dividends and interest on their investments.

Questions about Mr. Romney’s wealth have dogged him for weeks as his rivals for the Republican nomination assailed his tenure at Bain Capital and pressed for details about his taxes.

Mr. Romney hesitated repeatedly when asked whether he would release his tax returns, as his father had done when he was running for president several decades ago.

Initially, Mr. Romney said that he had no intention of releasing his tax returns, maintaining that the financial disclosure reports that all federal candidates must provide should suffice.

But the pressure grew stronger when Mr. Romney — apparently in an offhand, unplanned way — acknowledged that he pays about 15 percent in taxes, most of it on dividends and capital gains.

Following that statement, the pressure grew for Mr. Romney to release more information by making his tax returns public. Mr. Gingrich pressed him on the issue in two debates

Details about Mr. Romney’s tax payments, wealth and income will inevitably be compared with similar disclosures already made by Mr. Gingrich, as well the man Mr. Romney and Mr. Gingrich hope to unseat, President Obama.

Mr. Gingrich, who on Saturday won the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina, released his own tax returns last week showing that he and his wife, Callista, had an adjusted gross income of $3,162,424 from their various business ventures in 2010. They paid $994,708 in federal tax, according to the return, for an effective tax rate of 31.7 percent.

Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, released their tax returns in April, showing an adjusted gross income of $1,728,096 for 2010 — much of it from sales of his books “Dreams From My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.” The Obamas paid $453,770 in federal taxes, for an effective tax rate of 26.3 percent.

During the debate, Mr. Romney had predicted that there would be little in his tax returns that would prove to be controversial.

“You’ll see my income, how much taxes I’ve paid, how much I’ve paid to charity,” Mr. Romney added in the debate. “You’ll see how complicated taxes can be. And will there be discussion? Sure. Will it be an article? Yeah. But is it entirely legal and fair? Absolutely. I’m proud of the fact that I pay a lot of taxes.”

But the documents are sure to be a source of ammunition for his Republican rivals and his Democratic critics, who have made his personal wealth an issue as he seeks the nomination of his party.

In a memorandum to reporters on Sunday, Bill Burton, a former deputy press secretary to Mr. Obama, hammered Mr. Romney for his initial unwillingness to release his returns.

“Even though he is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Romney pays a lower tax rate than many middle class Americans,” said Mr. Burton, who now runs a “super PAC” on behalf of Mr. Obama.

“Romney also has access to complicated legal maneuvers involving offshore accounts and retirement savings that simply are not available to everyday Americans,” Mr. Burton said.

2012 Presidential Elections

For a while I was putting articles related to the 2012 Presidential election on this web page. But I decided to put all the articles related to the 2012 election on this new web page

Tired of having an American Emperor?

If you are tired of having an American Emperor maybe you should vote for Ron Paul.

Emperor Obama shovels the State of the Union BS


FACT CHECK: Obama pushes plans that flopped before

by Calvin Woodward - Jan. 24, 2012 08:49 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- It was a wish list, not a to-do list.

President Barack Obama's array of plans in his State of the Union speech was light on a key piece of context -- namely, that his hands are so tied until after the election that it is doubtful many if any of them can be done in the remainder of his term. There can be little more than wishful thinking behind his call to end oil industry subsidies -- something he could not get through a Democratic Congress, much less today's divided Congress, much less in this election year.

And there was more recycling, in an even more forbidding climate than when the ideas were new: He pushed for an immigration overhaul that he couldn't get past Democrats, permanent college tuition tax credits that he asked for a year ago, and familiar discouragements for companies that move overseas.

A look at Obama's rhetoric Tuesday night and how it fits with the facts and political realities of the day:

OBAMA: "We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That's long enough. It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that's rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that's never been more promising."

THE FACTS: This is at least Obama's third run at stripping subsidies from the oil industry. Back when fellow Democrats formed the House and Senate majorities, he sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request. He called again to end such tax breaks in last year's State of the Union speech. And he's now doing it again, despite facing a wall of opposition from Republicans who want to spur domestic oil and gas production and oppose tax increases generally.

OBAMA: "Our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program."

THE FACTS:That's only half true. About half of the more than 30 million uninsured Americans expected to gain coverage through the health care law will be enrolled in a government program. Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income people, will be expanded starting in 2014 to cover childless adults living near the poverty line.

The other half will be enrolled in private health plans through new state-based insurance markets. But many of them will be receiving federal subsidies to make their premiums more affordable. And that's a government program, too.

Starting in 2014 most Americans will be required to carry health coverage, either through an employer, by buying their own plan, or through a government program.

OBAMA, asking Congress to pay for construction projects: "Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home."

THE FACTS: The idea of taking war "savings" to pay for other programs is budgetary sleight of hand. For one thing, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been largely financed through borrowing, so stopping the wars doesn't create a pool of ready cash, just less debt. And the savings appear to be based at least in part on inflated war spending estimates for future years.

OBAMA: "Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that's built to last - an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values."

THE FACTS: Economists do see manufacturing growth as a necessary component of any U.S. recovery. U.S. manufacturing output climbed 0.9 percent in December, the biggest gain since December 2010. Yet Obama's apparent vision of a nation once again propelled by manufacturing -- a vision shared by many Republicans -- may already have slipped into the past.

Over generations, the economy has become ever more driven by services; not since 1975 has the U.S. had a surplus in merchandise trade, which covers trade in goods, including manufactured and farm goods. About 90 percent of American workers are employed in the service sector, a profound shift in the nature of the workforce over many decades.

The overall trade deficit through the first 11 months of 2011 ran at an annual rate of nearly $600 billion, up almost 12 percent from the year before.

OBAMA: "The Taliban's momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home."

THE FACTS: Obama is more sanguine about progress in Afghanistan than his own intelligence apparatus. The latest National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan warns that the Taliban will grow stronger, using fledgling talks with the U.S. to gain credibility and stall until U.S. troops leave, while continuing to fight for more territory. The classified assessment, described to The Associated Press by officials who have seen it, says the Afghan government hasn't been able to establish credibility with its people, and predicts the Taliban and warlords will largely control the countryside.

OBAMA: "On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world's number one automaker. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs."

THE FACTS: He left out some key details. The bailout of General Motors and Chrysler began under Republican President George W. Bush. Obama picked up the ball, earmarked more money, and finished the job. But Ford, which Obama mentions as well, never asked for a federal bailout and never got one. It's managed to get along on its own. Also, as part of its restructuring, Chrysler is not really a U.S. automaker anymore. Italian automaker Fiat now owns a 30 percent share, and it will eventually go to 51 percent under terms of the U.S. bailout and its bankruptcy restructuring.

OBAMA:"We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there's no reason why Congress shouldn't at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation."

THE FACTS: With this statement, Obama was renewing a call he made last year to require 80 percent of the nation's electricity to come from clean energy sources by 2035, including nuclear, natural gas and so-called clean coal. He did not put that percentage in his speech but White House background papers show that it remains his goal.

But this Congress has yet to introduce a bill to make that goal a reality, and while legislation may be introduced this year, it is unlikely to become law with a Republican-controlled House that loathes mandates.

OBAMA:"Anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned doesn't know what they're talking about ... That's not how people feel from Tokyo to Berlin; from Cape Town to Rio; where opinions of America are higher than they've been in years."

THE FACTS: Obama left out Arab and Muslim nations, where popular opinion of the U.S. appears to have gone downhill or remained unchanged after the spring 2011 reformist uprisings in the Middle East. A Pew Research Center survey in May found that in predominantly Muslim countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Pakistan, views of the U.S. were worse than a year earlier. In Pakistan, a major recipient of U.S. foreign aid that went unmentioned in Obama's speech, just 11 percent of respondents said they held a positive view of the United States.

Associated Press writers Tom Raum, Anne Gearan, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Martin Crutsinger, Jim Drinkard, Dina Cappiello, Erica Werner and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.

Obama wants a third of your income and not a penny more!!!!

Wow, Emperor Obama thinks the Federal government deserves almost a third of the income of wealthy people!

When the first income tax came out in 1913 the tax rate was only between 1 and 7 percent. And it only applied to wealthy people who made more then $3,000, which is about $50,000 to $60,000 in current dollars. Back then most people lived on farms and didn't make enough money to pay income tax.


President Obama says all must pay 'fair share' of taxes

By Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey, Washington Bureau

January 24, 2012, 11:23 p.m. Reporting from Washington— President Obama opened his reelection campaign with a combative State of the Union speech, proposing to require that millionaires pay at least 30% of their income in taxes and to eliminate deductions that save companies money if they move jobs overseas.

He also proposed rewarding businesses that manufacture and create jobs in the U.S. with lower corporate tax rates.

Heavy in emphasis on income inequality and its causes, the president's speech included several ideas already snubbed by House Republicans, including a program to upgrade roads and bridges and a fee on banks to help "responsible" homeowners refinance their mortgages.

The plans drew lines for a year of partisanship between now and the November election.

Obama hopes to campaign as the protector of an endangered middle class suffering under an unfair system. If Americans want to make it through tough times and build a stable economy, he argues, the affluent should shoulder more of the burden, and government should take an active role in spurring job growth.

"We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules," he told a joint session of Congress gathered in the chambers of the House of Representatives. "What's at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them."

Republicans argue that higher taxes will kill jobs and that Washington needs to cut spending instead.

"The president's policies have made our economy worse," said House SpeakerJohn A. Boehner(R-Ohio). "And you know, the president's policies, again, are just going to double down on what hasn't worked."

Withdrawal from two wars and success in the fight against Al Qaeda will be key parts of Obama's reelection campaign. He opened Tuesday night's speech by paying tribute to service members as he listed those accomplishments.

As he spoke, the gallery of the House provided an illustration of the conflicting narratives Republicans and Democrats will tell as the election year unfolds. Michelle Obama was surrounded by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. They included the admiral who led the operation that killed Osama bin Laden and a gay Air Force intelligence officer who is now allowed to serve openly because of the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Obama twice referred to the death of Bin Laden and said he kept the flag that Navy Seals carried with them on that mission last May. As he closed his 65-minute speech, he pointed to the Seals' teamwork and called for lawmakers to work together.

"Each time I look at that flag," he said, "I'm reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes."

As he entered the House chamber, Obama found and embraced Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who returned to say farewell. She is expected to resign her seat on Wednesday to concentrate on recovering from a gunshot wound suffered more than a year ago when a man opened fire while she spoke with constituents in Tucson. Twelve others were wounded and six people died. Giffords' husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, sat with Michelle Obama.

Boehner's list of invited guests spanned oil company managers, including one from ConocoPhillips, and backers of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that Obama has shelved, for now, pending further study.

Other unmentioned characters also played a role in the evening's stage play. On the same day that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney disclosed that he pays about 15% in taxes on millions in income, Obama spelled out a legislative agenda that would ensure those who make $1 million or more pay at least 30%.

Obama has pushed for higher taxes for the most affluent for much of his tenure, without success. Months after coming up with the "Buffett Rule" — which says high-earners like billionaire Warren Buffett should pay the same tax rate as those who earn less — Obama added the 30% target to his wish list.

Seated in the gallery for the announcement was Buffett's secretary, who, as Buffett and the president frequently point out, pays a higher income tax rate than her boss.

"You can call this class warfare all you want," Obama said. "But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense."

The 30% minimum rate would mean a tax hike for many top earners. The average effective tax rate for the top 1% last year was 26%, according to a study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

In a shot at Romney and other Republican presidential contenders who criticized the administration's 2009 decision to bail out General Motors and Chrysler, Obama noted his plan had worked.

"We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back" and has added nearly 160,00 jobs, he said. Republicans largely sat silent.

Taxes were not the only area in which Obama stressed proposals that Republicans opposed.

He called on Congress to send him a version of the Dream Act, designed to grant citizenship to some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as young children. Even if Congress cannot agree on comprehensive immigration reform, he said, "let's at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people."

Obama also called for a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut, which is due to expire at the end of February. It was one of the few lines that drew bipartisan applause.

As he did last year during the fight over the tax break, the president is taking his proposals to the public. That strategy helped reverse a slide in his approval ratings last fall when he launched his campaign against a "do-nothing Congress." Obama departs Wednesday morning for a three-day trip around the country. He will unveil details about central elements of his plan as he visits Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Michigan — all states he hopes to win in November.

The president's blueprint calls for spurring manufacturing through several changes to the tax code. He wants to wipe out the deductions that many companies get for the costs of shutting down a factory in the U.S., such as for mothballing the building or doing environmental remediation.

If those companies open factories overseas, administration officials say, they shouldn't qualify for deductions.

Obama also proposes making companies pay a minimum tax for profits and jobs overseas, giving American corporations less of an incentive to relocate their businesses to other countries. Aides to the president say he will name a specific tax figure around the time he unveils his new budget, expected the second week of February.

In hopes of easing the continuing housing crisis, the blueprint suggests imposing a fee on banks to help cover the costs of refinancing for distressed homeowners.

"Responsible homeowners shouldn't have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief," he said.

Some advisors to the president say they believe some collaboration with Congress is possible, especially if Americans rally behind the ideas. But a jaded faction within the White House expects little or no cooperation.

Obama alluded to the bitter battles that paralyzed Washington for much of the last year — as well as his determination to confront those who oppose him.

"As long as I'm president, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum," he said. "But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place."

Staff writers James Oliphant and Lisa Mascaro in Washington contributed to this report.

Brewer, Obama exchange tense words over book, immigration at airport


Brewer, Obama exchange tense words over book, immigration at airport

by Carrie Budoff Brown - Jan. 25, 2012 04:04 PM House Correspondent

The following is a White House pool report filed shortly after President Barack Obama's arrival in Chandler, Arizona:

Arizona governor and tyrant Jan Brewer gives American Emperor and tyrant Obama a piece of her mind

"President Obama arrived in Phoenix at 3:15 pm local time, finding the chilly weather of Iowa giving way to sunny skies and temperatures in the high 60s.

He stepped off Air Force One at 3:28 pm and was greeted by Gov. Jan Brewer. She handed him a handwritten letter in an envelope and they spoke intensely for a few minutes. At one point, she pointed her finger at him.

Afterwards, (I) spoke with the governor.

"He was a little disturbed about my book, Scorpions for Breakfast," Brewer said. "I said to him that I have all the respect in the world for the office of the president. The book is what the book is. I asked him if he read the book. He said he read the excerpt. So."

Asked what aspect of the book disturbed him, Brewer said: "That he didn't feel that I had treated him cordially. I said I was sorry he felt that way but I didn't get my sentence finished. Anyway, we're glad he's here. I'll regroup."

On the letter, she said it was personal letter asking him to sit down with her to discuss the "Arizona comeback."

She said she "reiterated an invitation that I've extended to him before with regards to coming to arizona and going to the border with me." She said she would take him to lunch.

"We've had a remarkable comeback here and I want to share that with him."

She said the president brought up the book.

"I thought we probably would've talked about the things that were important to him and important to me, helping one another. Our country is upside down. Arizona was upside down. But we have turned it around. I know again that he loves this country and I love this country."

Brewer is not going to Intel for the visit.

Obama was also greeted by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith.

During his brief stop at the airport, Obama worked the rope line.

Obama was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd, among them the mother of a 2 1/2 month old baby girl. The President grabbed the baby, as her mother took a picture with her phone, uttering "Oh my God!" in disbelief

The President was given a basketball and a jersey, that Marvin Nicholson took care of. One of the greeters got the president to sign on his cast.

An update, filed at 4:11 p.m.

Obama arrived at the Intel campus after a brief ride in the motorcade, which was greeted by thick crowds of onlookers lining the streets.

A little more from the Brewer-Obama encounter.

It was clear from the moment they greeted one another that this would not be a run-of-the-mill encounter between the president and a local official. At one point, she was pointing her finger at him and at another, they were talking at the same time, seemingly over each other.

He appeared to walk away from her while they were still talking, and she confirmed that by saying she didn't finish her sentence.

When Brewer spoke with your pooler, the AP and an NBC producer for several minutes afterwards, she appeared a bit flustered and taken aback by the conversation. Asked if she was, that's when Brewer said, "I'll regroup."

Emperor Obama shovels the BS in Phoenix


Manufacturing key part of Obama economic plan

by Dan Nowicki - Jan. 25, 2012 11:43 PM

The Republic |

With a stunning $5 billion Intel construction site as his backdrop, President Barack Obama brought his traveling State of the Union roadshow to Chandler on Wednesday, reiterating his commitment to reinvigorating U.S. manufacturing.

The speech marked Obama's fifth visit to Arizona as president and his first of 2012, a presidential election year in which Democrats are hoping that they can turn the traditional red state Arizona blue.

Chandler was the second stop on Obama's three-day tour of five potential swing states. Earlier Wednesday, Obama made remarks at an auger-making factory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and he has appearances planned for today in Las Vegas and Denver and for Friday in Ann Arbor, Mich.

For the 6,000 people gathered at Intel's sprawling Ocotillo campus, Obama largely repeated the points he made earlier in Iowa, citing "a blueprint for an economy built to last" that he first talked about Tuesday in his State of the Union speech. [Same old BS, coming from the mouth of a different politician]

"It's an economy built on the American manufacturing, with more good jobs and more products made in America," Obama told the Intel workers and guests. "It's an economy built on American energy fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources that make us more secure and less dependent on foreign oil. It's an economy built on the skills of American workers, getting people the education and the training they need so they're prepared for the jobs of today and ready to compete for the jobs of tomorrow."

Most importantly, Obama said, the economy is built on classic American values such as hard work, responsibility and "the same set of rules for everybody, from Wall Street to Main Street."

The White House chose Intel's Ocotillo Fab 42 because the project is responsible for thousands of manufacturing and construction jobs. Intel says Fab 42 will be the most state-of-the-art high-volume semiconductor-manufacturing plant in the world.

"This project is going to employ thousands of construction workers who will put in more than 10 million hours on the job," Obama said while standing before a background of massive criss-crossing construction cranes as a huge U.S. flag hung from the plant's skeletal construction frame. "When this factory is finished, Intel will employ around 1,000 men and women, making the computer chips that power everything from your smartphone to your laptop to your car. As an American, I'm proud of companies like Intel, who create jobs here. We all are."

In visiting Intel, Obama is singling out the company as an example of a high-tech electronics firm that has decided to expand in the country, said Dennis Hoffman, who directs the L. William Seidman Research Institute at Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business. [Is Emperor Obama going to claim responsibility for bringing Intel to Phoenix???]

"And they are doing so because they've tapped into quality workers across the state of Arizona, they have good proximity to markets through our airports and transportation infrastructure, and they have received very favorable tax and regulatory treatment from the state and local governments," Hoffman said.

Although construction and tourism are often associated with Arizona, high-tech manufacturing is actually the lifeblood of Arizona's economy because high-tech workers earn higher wages and they produce products that draw money into the state, according to ASU business researchers.

"People have to understand that it's manufacturing, the production of products in this state to be shipped outside the state, that is ... responsible for driving wealth and creating wealth in an economy," Hoffman said. "If you use resources in your economy to produce products that are shipped out of state, then dollars flow in from out of state in return and it is those dollars that are ultimately responsible for buying goods and services in our state."

In 2010, the most recent year figures are available, manufacturing made up about $20.3 billion, or 8 percent, of the state's $253.6 billion economy, according to Tom Rex, a researcher at the school.

Of the 3.2 million jobs in Arizona in 2010, 161,000, or 5 percent, were in manufacturing. About a third of all manufacturing jobs in the state are concentrated in the high-paying, high-tech fields, notably in aerospace and electronics, Rex said.

The typical high-tech manufacturing job in Arizona pays between $60,000 and $80,000. By comparison, the median wage in Arizona is $36,000, Hoffman said.

Republicans have been critical of the president's election-year trip, saying the itinerary reflects political-campaign strategy. They also predict that Obama's economic message won't resonate with voters.

"Clearly, the president's State of the Union address last night and this, again, taxpayer-funded campaign stop in Arizona, makes it abundantly clear that this president has given up completely on governing and he's gone into full-time campaign mode," Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee chairman, told reporters on a conference call in advance of Obama's Wednesday appearance in Chandler.

Priebus and U.S. Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Ariz., speaking on the same conference call, both doubted that Arizona was becoming more hospitable to Obama. Arizona has been carried by only two Democrats in the past 64 years: Harry Truman in 1948 and Bill Clinton in 1996.

"I've got to tell you that I was surprised that he chose Arizona to launch this tour because Arizona is not going to be a battleground state," Quayle said.

A crowd of about 200 people gathered at Intel's entrance at the intersection of Ocotillo and Dobson roads. There were protesters, supporters and people who just wanted to see the presidential motorcade.

On the north side of Ocotillo were Obama supporters, and on the south side were many "tea party" supporters wearing tea-party T-shirts and waving flags. The sides shouted back and forth as they waited for the president's motorcade.

A handful of workers on the Intel construction site complained Wednesday about the fact that work had been shut down for the day and that they would not be paid for the unscheduled day off.

One tradesman working on the Fab 42 project estimated that about 3,000 workers had been affected by the work stoppage.

Intel's Chandler spokeswoman, Dawn Jones, said the one-day hiatus would be handled the same as if a thunderstorm had rolled into town Wednesday. A make-up day would be scheduled, and crews would be paid to work that day instead, Jones said. A White House official said that work on the site wrapped up in the late morning and that many of the workers were invited to come to the president's speech.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, caused a stir when she confronted Obama after Air Force One touched down at the East Valley's Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. When he disembarked, Brewer handed him a handwritten note, her finger-wagging.

In a written statement later, Brewer said that she and Obama discussed "the 'Arizona Comeback' firsthand" and that she believes the president is taking the wrong economic path. Brewer contrasted her state regulatory moratorium with Obama's 2009 economic-stimulus package, suggesting hers was the better idea.

"This much is clear: Arizona is on the way back, with job growth over the last year rated seventh-best nationally," Brewer said in the written statement. "Our state budget is not only balanced, we have a surplus. Most important, we are putting in place the fundamentals for sustained economic growth: quality education, competitive tax policy and low regulation."

Republic reporters J. Craig Anderson, Daniel González, Anne Ryman, Rebekah L. Sanders, Sean Holstege, Laurie Merrill, Jim Walsh, Edythe Jensen, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Gary Nelson and Alia Beard Rau contributed to this article.

Chandler City Councilman Jeff Weninger criticizes Obama visit


Chandler councilman absent at Obama's visit

by Edythe Jensen - Jan. 26, 2012 09:28 AM

The Republic|

It was the first time a sitting President visited Chandler, and many local leaders put partisan politics aside to bask in the positive attention President Barack Obama's stop at Intel Wednesday brought to the city. [They will kiss anybodies *ss to get a photo of them with the President!]

Except Councilman Jeff Weninger. The outspoken conservative was the only council member not to attend the event, and he posted criticism of the visit on his political Facebook page.

Weninger said the visit was political move by Obama to take credit for the Intel project. "I respect the President and am happy he is coming to Chandler and highlighting Intel and our great business community," he posted on his political Facebook page. "I'm just saying it's not true if he insinuates that his policies led to this expansion. It didn't. When you couple his press release with the visit a day after the State of the Union, its hard to come to a different conclusion."

That brought a social media scolding from Chandler firefighter Marc Sepulveda, son of former Chandler City Councilman Martin Sepulveda. "Jeff, you are a city councilman. Perhaps you should look at the positives that this media coverage will bring to our city," Marc Sepulveda wrote on Weninger's Facebook wall. "Do not forget you are in a non partisan elected office. Focus on our city and getting us out of these rough economic times rather than perpetuating the divisive politics that fail to allow for compromise and progress, while catering to talking points that stir emotions of certain voter populations. Shame on you."

This is the second time in three months that the Chandler Intel facility has drawn a national leader. In November U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner toured the plant and issued a plea for Arizonans to support Obama's proposed job-creation initiatives.

"This underscores what I've been saying about this project; it's one of international significance and the kind of manufacturing we want to keep in this country," said Mayor Jay Tibshraeny, a Republican and former state senator who lauded Obama's visit. "It's good to be on the world stage."

Tibshraeny greeted the President and said the two talked briefly about mutual acquaintances and the Intel project. When Obama recognized Tibshraeny in his speech, "he actually pronounced my name right, which doesn't happen very often."

Councilman Jack Sellers, a Republican who has been active in regional economic development issues, said the visit could bring an additional boost to the city and potential federal help for promising projects. "I realize a lot of people feel it's just political, but the fact that the President acknowledges that this is a significant facility not just for Arizona or just for Chandler but for the whole country is something we need to play for all it's worth."

And Councilman Kevin Hartke, also a Republican and Christian minister, said "I am thankful that there are great things going on in Chandler economically that attract the eye of the President and the nation."

"Intel is making quite an investement her, and it's great exposure for Chandler to have the President come," said Councilwoman Trinity Donovan, a Democrat.

Chandler and Sun Lakes residents made up a significant part of a mixed crowd of about 300 opponents and supporters that gathered along Dobson and Ocotillo roads across the street from Intel's entrance when the presidential motorcade arrived. The divided crowd held up signs and flags, sometimes chanted or shouted but had no physical confrontations. Lori Dwyer lives within walking distance of Intel and brought her golden retriever to the corner as she watched for the President's arrival. Amy Billingley and Janelle Lieder rode to the site on bicycles with their children. Obama supporter Lydia Corbin of Chandler said she took her two nephews out of school so they could see the President drive by in his motorcade; the boys tossed a football as they waited on the north side of Ocotillo Road where most of the supporters gathered.

On the south side of the road Deb Klemkosky of Chandler joined sign- and flag-bearing Tea Party members with a placard that read "Pro-God, Pro-Gun, Pro-Country, Anti-Obama." She said she planned to hold up her middle finger when the President drove by. Two Phoenix Tea Party members shouted on megaphones about illegal immigration and welfare .

Bill Steiner of Sun Lakes heckled Minda Martine of Scottsdale who carried a sign that read, "calculators not teleprompters."

"Do you know what a calculator is, lady?" Steiner shouted. Martine said she did but "we're in debt and he (Obama) obviously doesn't know how to use one.

Merrie and Tom Bingham of Chandler said they just wanted a peek at the President they support and stood on the south side of Ocotillo near Tea Party protesters. "I don't want any problems here; I just want to see him," Tom Bingham said.

F* those public record laws, I'm the Emperor of Arizona

Well at least that's how Arizona Governor Jan Brewer feels!

I have probably sent at least 100 requests for public records to the members of the Tempe City Council and the Tempe Mayor. They have ignored almost all of them.

It seems like most elected officials consider themselves royal rulers who are above the law.

Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer seems to feel the same way.


Brewer won't release copy of letter she handed to Obama

by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez - Jan. 26, 2012 11:56 AM

The Republic |

Gov. Jan Brewer will not release a copy of the letter she delivered to President Barack Obama on Wednesday, her spokesman said, because it was a "personal, handwritten" correspondence and no one in her administration has a copy of it.

The spokesman, Matthew Benson, directed The Republic to the White House to obtain a copy, later writing in part, "The only copy is with President Obama."

A spokesman for the White House said Thursday the executive branch typically does not release letters sent to the president and directed the newspaper to Brewer's office.

The handling of the letter, considered a public record by experts, raises legal questions about the way the Governor's Office is complying with the state's public-records law.

"Absolutely it's a public record - it's created in her official capacity," Dan Barr, a First Amendment attorney, said Thursday.

"There's nothing remotely personal about this. She presented it to the president of the United States in the most public way possible. The whole reason to hand him this letter in public is for political theater, and then to be asked what was in the letter. I find it incredible to believe there is no copy - and that there is not at least a draft of this letter lying around. My response to that excuse is - is that your story? Really?"

The Republic asked for a copy of the letter Wednesday and earlier today, filed a records request for the letter, among other records pertaining to the note.

Benson denied the requests, repeating his statement that the letter was personal, and the office had no copy. He also said that any draft media release or e-mails to and from staff about the letter are "considered work product" and not subject to release.

A public record generally is defined as any record created or maintained by a public official or government entity, no matter whether it is handwritten, typed or recorded. The public records law requires all public officials to make and maintain records "reasonably necessary to provide knowledge of all activities they undertake in the furtherance of their duties."

Experts say a letter from a sitting governor to the president regarding the economy, jobs and border security, is "obviously" a public record.

Brewer delivered the letter, sealed in a white envelope, to Obama as she welcomed him on the tarmac of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. The two spoke intensely for a few minutes and at one point, she pointed her finger at him. During the encounter, they were talking over each other before Obama appeared to walk away from the governor while they were still talking.

Later, Brewer described the contents of the letter on national TV, saying she wrote the note to invite the president to lunch and a tour of the Arizona-Mexico border to discuss border security.

Brewer said she wrote to Obama to tell him about "Arizona's comeback," "our great economy," "how great Arizona is," and asked for a chance to sit down and talk to him.

David Bodney, a Phoenix attorney and public-records expert, said the Governor's Office was obliged to keep - and release - a copy of the letter.

"It doesn't matter if it was hand-written, it doesn't matter if she used governor's stationary, it doesn't matter if she used a personal pen," said Bodney, who also provides legal counsel to The Republic. "What matters is the content. One is hard-pressed to imagine a letter from the governor of Arizona to the president of the United States could be purely personal and exempt from the public-records law on the assumption that it was not purely personal," he added, "Then her office would have been obliged to maintain a record of that correspondence.


Transcript of Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer's letter to President Obama

Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2012 6:28 pm | Updated: 6:47 pm, Thu Jan 26, 2012.


A copy of the handwritten letter Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer delivered to President Barack Obama on the tarmac at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport was released Thursday afternoon.

The letter reads as follows:

Dear Mr. President,

Welcome to Arizona!

You've arrived in a state at the forefront of America's recovery -- and her future. We were at the brink. We were at the bottom of the list in job creation. Today, we have a balanced budget and we're in the top 10 for job creation.

I'm proud of that hard-won recovery -- the result of many tough decisions, courage and perseverance.

My hope is while you are here you will have a chance to see our tremendous results first hand.

We both love the great country, but we fundamentally disagree on how to best make America grow and prosper once again. I'd love an opportunity to share with you how we've been able to turn Arizona around with hard choices that turned out to be the right ones.

And, of course, my offer to visit the border -- and buy lunch -- still stands!

With respect,


Here is a link to a PDF copy of the handwritten letter


Brewer releases copy of letter she handed to Obama

by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez - Jan. 26, 2012 10:43 PM

The Republic |

In a sudden about-face, Gov. Jan Brewer on Thursday evening made public a copy of the letter she handed President Barack Obama during their high-profile encounter a day earlier that dominated national news, the blogosphere and water-cooler conversation.

Brewer had presented the letter to Obama during an official airport welcome that turned into a brief confrontation, during which she pointed a finger at the president.

At one point Thursday, the feisty interaction at the start of the president's visit to the Valley sent "Jan Brewer" to No. 8 on Twitter's trending topics in the U.S. Online sales of Brewer's book "Scorpions for Breakfast" exploded. And the "finger wag" led to a petition by state Democrats asking Brewer to apologize to the president.

Brewer continued to defend her actions Thursday, saying she meant no disrespect to the president and explaining that she often gestures when she speaks. She called allegations that their confrontation was a publicity stunt "absolutely ridiculous."

In a Thursday night interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Obama shrugged off the tarmac encounter.

"What I have discovered is that -- I think it's always good publicity for a Republican if they're in an argument with me."

He added: "But this was really not a big deal."

Some of the discussion Thursday in the media and on the Internet about the encounter centered on what was in the letter the governor delivered to Obama on the tarmac of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, particularly after her office said it would not be releasing the letter.

When The Arizona Republic requested a copy, Brewer's spokesman, Matthew Benson, said no copies existed and the letter was "personal, handwritten" correspondence not subject to open-records laws.

On Thursday, Benson released the letter, saying: "Unbeknownst to me" a copy was made. "I sincerely regret the miscommunication."

The one-page letter was written in cursive script on Executive Office stationery. The letter touches on job creation, the state's budget, and Brewer mentions visiting the border.

The letter says in part:

"You've arrived in a state at the forefront of America's recovery -- and her future," she wrote. "We both love this great country, but we fundamentally disagree on how to best make America grow and prosper once again. I'd love an opportunity to share with you how we've been able to turn Arizona around with hard choices that turned out to be the right ones. And, of course, my offer to visit the border -- and buy lunch -- still stands."

The governor signed the letter "With respect, Jan."

After Brewer delivered the letter to Obama, the two spoke intensely for a few minutes and she pointed her finger at him. During the encounter, they were talking over each other before Obama appeared to walk away from the governor while they were still talking.

Brewer later said that the conversation left her "breathless" and that Obama had brought up her book.

Brewer's book, "Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America's Border," deals with the state's tough immigration law, Senate Bill 1070, the events that precipitated it and the fallout from its passage.

She repeatedly skewers the president in the book, painting a different picture of her June 2010 Oval Office meeting with Obama than she did in media interviews after the event, when she told media it "was a successful meeting, and I'm encouraged by that."

In the book, however, the governor criticizes Obama for publicly mocking the state and SB 1070. She said Obama was condescending towards her during their 2010 meeting and lectured her about his efforts for comprehensive immigration reform.

"It wasn't long before I realized I was hearing the president's stump speech," the book said. "Only I was supposed to listen without talking. He was patronizing."

And after Wednesday's encounter, she called Obama disrespectful because he walked away from her in mid-sentence.

"Well, I would never have walked away from anybody having a conversation," she said. "And, of course, that is what it is. It is disrespectful for me."

Video and photos of the encounter overshadowed the presidential visit and once again catapulted Brewer into the national spotlight.

She's been there before for different reasons.

In 2010, when she signed immigration law SB 1070 into law, she did it on a national stage. Months earlier, she was thrust in the national spotlight after she paused for 13 seconds during a televised campaign debate. Critics ridiculed her for mangling the English language, saying "We have did what was right for Arizona."

Despite her most recent headlines, Jay Carney, a White House press secretary, on Thursday told reporters on Air Force One that the airport confrontation was "overblown."

"It's not a very big deal, at all," Carney said. "Some of this is political theater, to some degree, I guess."

Brewer's initial handling of the letter, and her contention that it was personal, raised legal questions about the way the Governor's Office was complying with the state's public-records law. Experts considered the letter to be a public record that should be released.

"There's nothing remotely personal about this," said Dan Barr, a First Amendment attorney who also advises the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona Inc. "She presented it to the president of the United States in the most public way possible. The whole reason to hand him this letter in public is for political theater, and then to be asked what was in the letter."

A public record generally is defined as any record created or maintained by a public official or government entity, no matter whether it is handwritten, typed or recorded.

Benson said late Thursday that he does not know who made a copy of the letter, and he would not say who informed him of the copy.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Is it a crime to dislike or disagree with the President?


Is it a crime to dislike or disagree with the President?

Peoria students, officer under scrutiny for Obama T-shirt photo

by Sonu Munshi and Kristena Hansen - Jan. 27, 2012 12:49 PM

The Republic |

Seven students who appeared in a photo on a Facebook page, some posing with guns and one holding up a bullet-riddled T-shirt depicting President Barack Obama's image, attend Centennial High School in Peoria.

Pat Shearer, a 25-year Peoria police sergeant, on whose Facebook page the photo was posted, remains on active duty, but he faces an internal administrative investigation.

The inquiry was triggered after the photo was brought to the attention of the U.S. Secret Service, which is looking into the matter.

Peoria police spokesman Jay Davies said that although the department has a social-media policy, it does not specify what the implications might be for someone who flouts them.

"The discipline for any policy violation is based on a wide variety of factors, including the employee's discipline history, the circumstances surrounding the violation, discipline handed down in prior similar cases, etcetera," Davies said.

The policy states that employees "shall not post, transmit, reproduce and/or disseminate information ... to the Internet or any other forum (public or private) that would tend to discredit or reflect unfavorably upon the department or any of the department's employees."

The photo, which was posted last Friday, has since been removed from Shearer's page. According to the New York Times, the photo was also posted on the Facebook page of one of the students.

Danielle Airey, spokeswoman for the Peoria Unified School District, said the district will continue to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

"While the incident did not occur on our campus, it is an unfortunate event that happens to involve students and adults," Airey said. "It does not represent what we are as a school or district or community."

In an e-mailed statement Friday, Peoria spokesman Bo Larsen said the "city values a high standard of professional conduct and ethical behavior."

"These are expectations we have of all our employees," Larsen said.

Doonesbury makes fun of Ron Paul & Libertarians

Doonesbury makes fun of Ron Paul & Libertarians

Dr. Paul, your candidacy defies understanding.

Doonesbury makes fun of Ron Paul & Libertarians

Excuse me?

While everyone shares some of your views, very few people share them all.

Does he mean like ending the insane "war on drugs"? Ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Cutting the literally billions of dollars in government welfare programs for rich corporations in the industrial military complex? Ending the unconstitutional Patriot Act? Ending the Homeland Security and TSA, who's main functions is to grope and feel up travelers at airports? Expecting Americans to pay 30 percent of their income to support the insane, bloated Federal bureaucracy? In addition to paying another 10 percent of their income to support their bloated state government bureaucracies?

Doonesbury makes fun of Ron Paul & Libertarians

The fact is, your philosophy is pure utopianism. No modern society could function under a Libertarian government, which is why none exists.

I suspect King George and all the other tyrants in the 18th century said that about the new dangled democracy brought on by the American revolution.

Give Libertarianism a little time. The Libertarian Party was only founded in the 1970's.

Doonesbury makes fun of Ron Paul & Libertarians

Is there a question in there?

No. What would be the point?

I suspect the point is that the author of Doonesbury wants you to write off Ron Paul and Libertarianism without analyzing the it.

Of course he doesn't want that to happen because it would cut into the status quo the Democratic and Republican Parties have.

More on the Doonesbury anti-Libertarian and anti Ron Paul cartoon here.

Obama, the tax and spend President


State of the Union showdown: Obama vs. Daniels

From the political notebook:

* There was a revealing inconsistency in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

The most memorable phrase from the speech was this: “It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom. No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts.”

The rest of the speech was a litany of preferences and punishments, different rules for different people depending on whether Obama approves or disapproves of their behavior.

One of our major problems is that the federal government has gotten too complicated to operate or be effectively managed. Obama want to compound the complications.

One of the reasons Obama didn’t embrace the tax simplification plan proposed by his debt commission, even though it would produce more additional revenue for the federal government than his own soak-the-rich proposals, is that it would rob the government of the power to reward and punish people through the tax code.

The U.S. corporate tax code is a mess. It has one of the highest nominal rates in the world and is an impenetrable thicket of exclusions, deductions and credits. Virtually every outside expert from every political point of view believes it should be simplified and the nominal rate reduced.

Yet Obama proposed no less than five additional tax classifications, rates or treatments just for American manufacturers. He wants to increase taxes on American businesses that expand overseas. He proposed a minimum tax on multinational corporations. He advocated a lower tax burden for those increasing manufacturing in the United States. An even lower rate for manufacturers in whatever gets defined as high-tech. And new government subsidies for manufacturers who expand in “a community that was hard hit when a factory left town.”

All of this will require reams of regulations to define and armies of bureaucrats, both public and private, to implement. It will distort capital decisions as manufacturers try to figure out how to take advantage of the benefits and avoid the punishments.

Obama’s proposals to make the taxation of American manufacturers even more complicated is likely to produce far more jobs for lawyers and accountants than for American factory workers.

* In his State of the Union rebuttal, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels gave the speech every Republican candidate for federal office should give every day from now until the election.

Daniels made fixing the federal government’s finances central in a way that neither Mitt Romney nor Newt Gingrich is doing.

Romney gives higher priority to getting the economy moving. Gingrich depicts the race as a broad ideological choice between Obama’s European-style social welfare state and Newtism – whatever Newtism happens to be that day.

A bit of this is emphasis and nuance. Daniels talked about other things, particularly the economy, and Romney and Gingrich talk about fixing the federal government’s finances. But the difference in emphasis is a big one politically.

What the government can do to improve the economy is speculative and debatable. As is what it can do to help spread democratic capitalism abroad and keep Iran from getting a nuke.

There is, however, no question that the president and Congress can decide how much the federal government spends and where it gets its money.

Republicans should be telling voters: If you give us control over the presidency and both houses of Congress, we will fix the finances of the federal government.

As Daniels put it: “Let us rebuild our finances, and the safety net, and reopen the door to the stairway upward; any other disagreements we may have can wait.”

There’s political risk in this. It’s not clear that the American electorate is ready to downsize government to the extent necessary. But if it’s not, governing the country for the next four years will be a miserable job for whoever gets stuck with it.

History appears to have given Republicans the assignment of fixing the federal government’s finances. At this point, only Daniels and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan seem willing to embrace the assignment. And neither of them is running for president.

Newt Gingrich's thugs attack Ron Paul supporter

I suspect this isn't something unusual that accidentally happened. I have been jerked around many times by police thugs for thinking I have "Constitutional Rights", so I suspect the way Gingrich's thugs handled this guy was their normal run of the mill operating method.


‘Everyone step on his toes!’ Gingrich security harasses Ron Paul supporter: Scenes from the Florida primary

By Yahoo! News

SNIP I removed the first article

WINDERMERE, Fla.--Next time, Eddie Dillard won't wear flip-flops.

Dillard, a 29-year-old Ron Paul supporter from this suburb near Orlando, arrived to vote at his precinct at Winderemere Baptist Church early Tuesday morning. Pulling into the parking lot, Dillard noticed a man outside the polling place with a Gingrich sign. He decided to run home, slip into his "Ron Paul Rocks America" T-shirt, grab a "Ron Paul 2012" sign from his garage, and return to give his candidate some representation outside the precinct after he cast his vote.

Dillard found a quiet spot along a sidewalk lined with tiny American flags and held up his sign. Little did he know, Newt Gingrich had chosen that very spot to make his first Primary Day campaign stop.

When Gingrich's bus pulled up, Dillard stood silently holding his sign and watched the news-media horde swamp the candidate. Gingrich stepped down from the bus and made a beeline for Dillard. He stopped in front of Dillard and his sign and parked himself for a round of handshaking and pictures with voters. The placement couldn't have been worse. There was Gingrich, standing with his wife Callista at their first event of the day, and a giant Ron Paul sign floated inches from their crowns.

Noticing the awkward optics, Gingrich aides and security personnel swarmed Dillard, trying to intimidate him into moving. One of Gingrich's security agents stepped in front of him. When Dillard didn't budge, the agent lifted his heeled shoe over Dillard's bare foot and dug the back of it into his skin, twisting it side-to-side like he was stomping out a cigarette. Shocked, Dillard kept his ground and took a picture of the agent with his phone, which was quickly knocked out of his hand. Dillard slipped off his flip-flop to pick up the phone with his foot, and a Gingrich supporter kicked the sandal away.

"Don't kick me!" Dillard said to the man who knocked away his sandal. More members of Gingrich's security retinue approached, shoving their shoulders and chests in front of him.

"Just block him!" a Gingrich campaign aide said. "Everyone step on his toes!"

Gingrich supporters handed a "Newt 2012" yard sign up to the front to put in front of Dillard's Paul sign. The two signs, zipping back and forth inches from Gingrich's head, circled each other in the air like a fighter jets in a dogfight.

When the candidate finished taking pictures with voters, furious Gingrich aides grilled Dillard.

"If we did this to you, you guys would be furious," said an aide before stomping back toward the bus. "They have no class. No class."

As Gingrich pulled away, Dillard looked down at his foot. With the adrenaline pumping, he hadn't noticed the pain, but now it was starting to sink in. A bruise was forming, and there was a cut mark where the security agent had dug in his heel.

"That was really something," Dillard said afterwards. "My heart's racing. Not what I expected to happen today."

--Chris Moody, 12:01 p.m. ET

U.S. has expanded no-fly list

I guess Emperor Obama lied when he was running for President and promised to reduce the police state.


U.S. has expanded no-fly list

by Eileen Sullivan - Feb. 2, 2012 11:58 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has more than doubled, to about 21,000 names, its secret list of suspected terrorists who are banned from flying to or within the United States, including about 500 Americans, the Associated Press has learned.

The government lowered the bar for being added to the list, even as it says it's closer than ever to defeating al-Qaida.

The size of the government's secret no-fly list has jumped from about 10,000 in the past year, according to government figures provided to the AP.

The surge comes as the government says it's close to defeating al-Qaida, after killing many of its senior members. But senior officials said the threat does not stop there.

"As long as we sustain the pressure on it, we judge that core al-Qaida will be of largely symbolic importance to the global jihadist movement," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress on Thursday. "But regional affiliates and, to a lesser extent, small cells and individuals will drive the global jihad agenda."

Those are the people added to the no-fly list, current and former counterterrorism officials said. Most are from other countries; about 500 are Americans.

"Both U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement communities and foreign services continue to identify people who want to cause us harm, particularly in the U.S. and particularly as it relates to aviation," Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole said in an interview.

Affiliated terror groups in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Algeria and elsewhere, as well as individuals who ascribe to al-Qaida's beliefs -- "All are in the mix," said Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center. "And no one is claiming that they are shrinking."

The flood of new names began after the failed Christmas 2009 bombing of a Detroit-bound jetliner.

The government lowered the standard for putting people on the list and then scoured its filesfor anyone who qualified.

The government will not disclose who is on itslist or why someone might have been placed on it.

Among the most significant new standards is that now a person doesn't have to be considered only a threat to aviation to be placed on the no-fly list.

People who are considered a broader threat to domestic or international security or who attended a terror training camp also are included, said a U.S. counterterrorism official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security matters.

The Christmas attack led to other changes in how the U.S. assembles its watch list.

Intelligence agencies across the government reviewed old files to find people who should have been on the government's terror watch list all along, plus those who should be added because of the new standards put in place to close security gaps.

After the Christmas attack, "We learned a lot about the watch-listing process and made strong improvements, which continue to this day," said Timothy Healy, director of the Terrorist Screening Center, which produces the no-fly list.

As agencies complete the reviews of their files, the pace of growth is expected to slow, the counterterrorism official said.

Terror-related developments

The remains of a top leader of the regional Jemaah Islamiyah terror network have not been found, the Philippine military said today, a day after announcing that he had been killed in a U.S.-backed airstrike. Troops on the ground were still searching the jungle camp that was hit Thursday for the body of Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan. At least 15 people were killed in the dawn strike on a militant camp on Jolo Island, including two other high-level leaders.

The Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people during the Fort Hood shooting rampage will go on trial in June, a military judge ruled after agreeing to a three-month delay. Attorneys for Maj. Nidal Hasan argued during a hearing at the Army post in Texas that they still lacked key evidence needed to prepare for the March trial.

The New York Police Department recommended increasing surveillance of thousands of Shiite Muslims and their mosques, based solely on their religion, as a way to sweep the Northeast for signs of Iranian terrorists, according to interviews and a newly obtained secret police document. The document reveals that NYPD intelligence officers listed a dozen mosques from central Connecticut to the Philadelphia suburbs. None has been linked to terrorism.

-- Wire services

The administration’s muddled message on Afghanistan

Translation - The American Empire is losing the war in Afghanistan!


The administration’s muddled message on Afghanistan

By Editorial Board, Published: February 2

IT’S BECOMING increasingly difficult to reconcile the Obama administration’s military and diplomatic initiatives on Afghanistan. Last month, the State Department unveiled a “fight and talk” strategy that could involve the transfer of senior Taliban commanders from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar. The aim, officials said, was to induce Taliban leaders to accept what they have repeatedly rejected: talks with the Afghan government and a peace settlement based on the current Afghan constitution, including its protections for women.

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta floated an entirely different plan: an end to most U.S. and NATO combat operations in Afghanistan by the second half of 2013, a year earlier than expected, and a substantial cut in the previously planned size of the Afghan armed forces. So much for “fight.” Though Mr. Panetta didn’t say so, this strategy implies another big U.S. troop reduction in 2013, beyond the pullout of about one-third of troops already planned for this year. U.S. commanders have lobbied to keep the troop strength steady from this coming autumn until the end of 2014 — the current endpoint for the NATO military commitment.

The new timetable may sound good to voters when Mr. Obama touts it on the presidential campaign trail. But how will the Taliban, and its backers in Pakistan, interpret it? Before negotiations even begin, the administration has unilaterally and radically reduced the opposing force the Taliban can expect to face 18 months from now. Will Taliban leader Mohammad Omar have reason to make significant concessions between now and then? More likely, the extremist Islamic movement and an increasingly hostile Pakistani military establishment will conclude that the United States is desperate to get its troops out of Afghanistan, as quickly as possible — whether or not the Afghan government and constitution survive.

Administration officials argue that the plan for NATO to remain in Afghanistan until the end of 2014 hasn’t changed — and that negotiations are underway with the Afghan government for a U.S. commitment of trainers and advisers well past that date. In theory, a robust U.S. stay-on force — say, of 20,000 troops, with air support — could ensure against a Taliban return to power in Kabul and force its leaders to make concessions.

But the total U.S. pullout from Iraq can’t have inspired much confidence in Kabul about U.S. steadfastness. And the trend of administration policy is toward a much smaller effort in Afghanistan. Since the death of Osama bin Laden in a Special Forces raid last May, administration strategy has veered sharply toward the concept that narrowly defined U.S. interests, such as keeping al-Qaeda in check, can be accomplished through the use of Special Forces and drones while ground troops are withdrawn.

In our view that theory is badly mistaken. A rapid U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan will most likely lead to a renewed civil war in which the Taliban could again gain the upper hand. That would endanger U.S. interests throughout the region — starting with a nuclear-armed Pakistan — and mean an unforgivable breach of faith with the Afghan women and men the United States promised to enfranchise and defend.

But if President Obama has decided to pursue that course, there’s an inevitable next question. If the goal of a stable and democratic Afghanistan is to be subordinated — if timetables are to be accelerated, regardless of conditions — why should U.S. ground troops fight and die this year?

Winding down the war in Afghanistan

Translation - The American Empire is losing the war in Afghanistan!


In winding down war, a fundamentally different challenge in Afghanistan than in Iraq

By Greg Jaffe and Kevin Sieff, Published: February 2

The narrative that the Obama administration has laid out for winding down the war in Afghanistan has a familiar feel: It is intended to evoke the gradual withdrawal from Iraq.

But the administration faces a fundamentally different challenge in Afghanistan and a host of problems that it did not have in the latter days of the Iraq war.

In Afghanistan, heavy fighting is likely to persist well into 2014, particularly in the provinces along Pakistan’s border, senior military officials said. In contrast with Iraq, the Afghan government and security forces will require billions of dollars annually in U.S. support for the foreseeable future. It seems unlikely that the insurgents’ haven in Pakistan will shrink.

“In Afghanistan, you will be fighting a much tougher war over the next few years compared with Iraq post-2008,” said retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, who previously served as the top U.S. commander in Kabul.

Obama administration officials made the comparison to Iraq on Thursday as they scrambled to clarify Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s remarks that the United States hoped to end its combat mission in Afghanistan by the middle of next year, more than a year earlier than scheduled, and shift to advising Afghan forces.

“Iraq is a helpful reference point in this,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. Just as in Iraq, he said, American advisers would remain in the country and would “continue to participate in combat missions.”

But by mid-2010, when the Obama administration declared an end to the U.S. combat mission in Iraq, American forces had already pulled out of the country’s major cities, where the war’s fiercest and bloodiest battles took place. The 49,000 U.S. advisory troops that remained took casualties, but the vast majority of the fighting was carried out by Iraqi forces.

In Afghanistan, Taliban forces still control swaths of territory in the mountainous eastern regions along the border, where they continue to kill Afghan government forces and intimidate villagers.

“Are we ready to take over? In some places, we are,” said one Afghan commander, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “But in others, we aren’t now, and we won’t be in a year.”

The Afghan commander’s concerns were echoed by senior U.S. military officials in Kabul who insisted that Panetta’s remarks did not signal a change in U.S. policy or even a planned diminution in combat operations for U.S. forces.

In many ways, the dust-up caused by Panetta’s remarks reflects a political divide within the Obama administration over how quickly the United States can and should turn over responsibility for security to an Afghan government that remains weak.

Senior military officials cautioned that the U.S. forces would still be in the lead in battles abutting havens in Pakistan, where commanders believe insurgents still receive assistance from that country’s intelligence service.

“We’re still going to be fighting,” said a senior military official in Kabul. “As time passes, we’ll become more distant to the [Afghan forces] as they become more self-sufficient and capable across 2014-2015.” The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to appear as though he was contradicting his civilian leadership.

In Afghanistan, U.S. and Afghan officials have sought to build confidence among Afghan soldiers and civilians in the ability of the country’s institutions to maintain security. For the past six months, Afghan and U.S. officials have held formal ceremonies to celebrate the transition of cities, districts and provinces to Afghan control — early steps toward a post-NATO Afghanistan.

Billboards have been posted across the country with photos of U.S. soldiers handing their guns over to their Afghan counterparts. Afghan units have begun crafting their own missions and going on independent patrols.

Such measures, although sometimes dismissed as hollow symbols by officials in Kabul, have prompted Afghan officers to play a more active role in traditionally NATO-led military operations, Western military officials say.

Though more than a dozen formal transition ceremonies have been held since last summer, most have been in relatively peaceful provinces or in small patches of cities, sometimes only a few square miles.

Those handovers are a far stretch from the challenges to come. American officials planned to use early transition exercises as a litmus test for the broader shift to Afghan control.

Afghan commanders questioned whether the looming security handover is a testament to their own progress or a product of U.S. politics and war weariness. “For those who understand the reality, Panetta’s announcement sends a vague message. Many will argue, how can we trust the U.S. when they keep changing their words?” said Afghan Maj. Kosh Sadat.

Even among senior U.S. military commanders there has been a spirited debate over how quickly to press Afghan forces to take on more responsibility. This spring, American commanders will begin pairing up some of their small advisory teams with the more capable Afghan forces, U.S. officials said. The full complement of American advisory teams should be in place by early 2013.

Some U.S. military officials have pressed for giving Afghan units more responsibility sooner to test their ability to stand on their own as U.S. forces withdraw. “The time to figure out how good the Afghan forces are isn’t in 2014,” said Andrew Exum, a senior fellow with the Center for a New American Security. “It is now.”

In Kabul, military officials worry about losing ground gained from the insurgency during tough battles over the past two years.

“In 2013, we are moving to the decisive portion of the campaign where the Afghan forces will be in the lead but heavily advised, assisted and enabled” by NATO forces, one senior military official said.

The Karzai administration appeared unfazed by Panetta’s statement, with officials claiming that they are still confident the United States will remain a stabilizing force in Afghanistan.

“The international troops are focusing more on the strengthening, equipment and funding of Afghan forces, and this will make the Afghan forces self-sufficient and ready to take on this big responsibility,” said Hakim Asher, a government spokesman. He called the statement a “natural part of the process of transition.”

But to many in Washington, Panetta’s remarks were interpreted as the latest sign of the administration’s eagerness to bring the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan to an end.

“We have interests in Afghanistan, but they are limited, so people are groping around for a limited way of dealing with it,” said Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “My worry is that we run the risk of backing into a situation where the investment we are making will not produce an adequate return.”

Sieff reported from Kabul.

Obama says his faith is driving his economic policies

What part of the First Amendment doesn't Emperor Obama understand????


Obama says his faith is driving his economic policies

Feb. 3, 2012 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Blending politics and religion, President Barack Obama said his Christian faith is a driving force behind his economic policies, from Wall Street reform to his calls for the wealthy to pay higher taxes.

Obama's remarks Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast were his most explicit account of how his personal religious beliefs factor into his decision-making on the nation's pressing problems. The comments came amid election-year criticism from Catholic groups and some Republicans that the president is waging a war on religion following his decision to require church-affiliated institutions to cover free birth control for employees.

Speaking to more than 3,000 people at the annual breakfast, Obama said "faith and values" should play as much a role in tackling the nation's challenges as sound decision-making and smart policies.

He said, for example, that his own call for fairness in the tax code -- a central tenet of his State of the Union address and his 2012 campaign -- is both economically sound and consistent with the teachings of Jesus.

"If I'm willing to give something up as somebody who's been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that's going to make economic sense," he said. "But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus' teaching that 'for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.' It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who've been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others."

He also said the Wall Street reform he championed both "makes the economy stronger for everyone" and abides by God's command to "love thy neighbor as thyself" because it helped people who had been hurt or treated unfairly by financial institutions.

And Obama said he believed in a "biblical call" to care for the poor and to follow "the responsibility we're given in Proverbs to 'Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.' "

Who reviews the U.S. 'kill list'?

"We needed a court order to eavesdrop on him [Anwar Awlaki, the New Mexico-born member of Al Qaeda], but we didn't need a court order to kill him"

"There has been remarkably little public debate about the drone strikes, which have killed at least 1,300 people in Pakistan"

"Obama and his aides have refused to answer questions about drone strikes because they are part of a covert program, yet they have repeatedly taken credit for their victories in public"


McManus: Who reviews the U.S. 'kill list'?

By Doyle McManus

February 5, 2012

When it comes to national security, Michael V. Haydenis no shrinking violet. As CIA director, he ran the Bush administration's program of warrantless wiretaps against suspected terrorists.

But the retired air force general admits to being a little squeamish about the Obama administration's expanding use of pilotless drones to kill suspected terrorists around the world — including, occasionally, U.S. citizens.

"Right now, there isn't a government on the planet that agrees with our legal rationale for these operations, except for Afghanistan and maybe Israel," Hayden told me recently.

As an example of the problem, he cites the example of Anwar Awlaki, the New Mexico-born member of Al Qaeda who was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen last September. "We needed a court order to eavesdrop on him," Hayden notes, "but we didn't need a court order to kill him. Isn't that something?"

Hayden isn't the only one who has qualms about the "targeted killing" program. The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), has been pressing the administration to explain its rules for months.

In a written statement, Feinstein said she thinks Awlaki was "a lawful target" but added that she still thinks the administration should explain its reasoning more openly "to maintain public support of secret operations."

As Hayden puts it: "This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president, and that's dangerous."

There has been remarkably little public debate about the drone strikes, which have killed at least 1,300 people in Pakistan alone since President Obama came to office. Little debate inside the United States, that is. But overseas, the operations have prompted increasing opposition and could turn into a foreign policy headache.

It's odd that the Obama administration, which came into office promising to be more open and more attentive to civil liberties than the previous one, has been so reluctant to explain its policies in this area. Obama and his aides have refused to answer questions about drone strikes because they are part of a covert program, yet they have repeatedly taken credit for their victories in public. After months of negotiations, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. won approval from the White House to spell out some of the administration's legal thinking in the Awlaki case. But his statement, originally promised for last month, has been delayed by continued internal wrangling.

When it is issued, officials said, the statement is likely to add a few details to the bare-bones rationale the administration has offered in a handful of public statements and court proceedings. The administration has said that strikes against suspected terrorists are justified for two reasons: First, that Al Qaeda is at war with the United States, which makes any participant in Al Qaeda operations an enemy combatant; and second, that anyone directly involved in terrorist plots against Americans poses an "imminent danger" to U.S. security.

Holder may also shed light on an issue that has been less clear: Should a terrorist suspect who is a U.S. citizen get special treatment? Some in the intelligence community argue that the answer is no — that a U.S.-born member of Al Qaeda is no different from an American who joined, say, the German army in World War II. But civil libertarians argue that in a murky war against terrorism, an American such as Awlaki deserves some kind of due process before his name goes on the CIA's "kill list."

In fact, officials say, Awlaki did get more due process than most Al Qaeda suspects on the list. They say the administration made a point of naming Awlaki publicly as an Al Qaeda leader — putting him on notice, in effect — before he was killed. And they say the Justice Department held that Awlaki could be killed only if it was not feasible to capture him. The administration has refused to release that legal opinion, in part because it's not sure it wants those standards to turn into a binding precedent for later cases.

But there are questions that go beyond the legal underpinning for targeted killing. Who puts names on the "kill list," and who reviews them? And is the process rigorous enough to withstand outside scrutiny?

In the case of a U.S. citizen such as Awlaki, Obama makes the final call. Or so said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who offered a rare bit of on-the-record clarity in an interview withCBS' "60 Minutes" last week. "In the end, when it comes to going after someone like that, the president of the United States has to sign off," Panetta said.

There's also scrutiny from Congress. "There is no intelligence activity the [Senate] Intelligence Committee follows more closely, or conducts more oversight on, than CIA counter-terrorism operations along the Afghan-Pakistan border," Feinstein said, studiously avoiding the word "drone."

But congressional oversight comes after the fact, and it is divided between Congress' intelligence committees, which review CIA operations, and its armed forces committees, which review military operations.

That's one reason some former officials argue that the administration needs to set up a clearer, more rigorous system of internal review — for its own good. John B. Bellinger III, who served as the State Department's top lawyer during the Bush administration, believes a good solution would be to expand the jurisdiction of the judges who currently authorize wiretaps to cover targeted killing cases as well.

But most intelligence officials hate that idea. "Why on earth would you want to get a judge involved?" asked one. A better solution, he said, would be appointing a special review office made up of seasoned officials who can't be fired, to insulate them from bureaucratic pressure. But that would still invest life-or-death power in a secret corner of the intelligence community, without a clear constitutional foundation.

The biggest problem with this newly invented form of clandestine warfare is that its rules have been made on the fly. The Obama administration, like the Bush administration, has made crucial decisions with little outside review and virtually no public scrutiny.

The administration says it has the authority to kill U.S. citizens who are active in Al Qaeda, but it's never explained how that squares with the Constitution's guarantee of due process. It's past time that it did so.

Obama turning American into a police state with jobs programs for cops

Obama is turning America into a police state with his jobs programs for cops - "Obama said in his address last month that his administration will “help our communities hire veterans as cops”"


Obama to announce Veterans Job Corps

By Steve Vogel, Published: February 2

President Obama will announce details Friday for a $1 billion Veterans Job Corps that the White House says will put up to 20,000 veterans to work over the next five years on projects to preserve and restore national parks and other federal, state and local lands.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki on Thursday described the program as “a bold new effort” to lower the high unemployment rate for post-Sept. 11 military veterans, which stood at 13.1 percent in December. The government estimates that 250,000 post-Sept. 11 veterans are unemployed.

Obama proposed the corps in his State of the Union address last month, describing it as “enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our nation.”

At an appearance Friday at an Arlington County firehouse, Obama is also expected to announce that the budget to be released this month includes $5 billion in funding proposed in the American Jobs Act to spur police and firefighter hiring in 2012.

Preferences for the grants will go to communities that hire post-9/11 veterans.

Obama said in his address last month that his administration will “help our communities hire veterans as cops and firefighters, so that America is as strong as those who defend her.”

The White House also is announcing an expansion of entrepreneur training for service members leaving the military.

The Veterans Job Corps will involve projects such as repairing trails, roads, levees and recreational facilities, according to the White House.

Other work could include providing visitor programs, restoring habitat, protecting cultural resources, eradicating invasive species and cutting brush to reduce the risk of forest fires.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said that the Civilian Conservation Corps, established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Depression to put hundreds of thousands of the unemployed to work on projects in government parks and lands, serves as a “very good indicator” of what the administration hopes to accomplish with the Veterans Job Corps.

“When one looks back at the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps, we take great comfort that those who take this on will leave a great legacy for the United States,” Salazar said during a conference call with reporters Thursday to discuss the veteran employment initiatives.

Salazar said that the program would “make a significant dent” in the deferred maintenance that has become common at many federal, state, local and tribal lands as government budgets have been cut.

Salazar said the veterans program could serve as a “gateway to permanent positions” with the National Park Service, as many young people who take temporary jobs at national parks or wildlife refuges end up making a career of such work.

“Those veterans who have served will have a place here at the Department of Interior,” he said.

Salazar noted that some of the nation’s first park rangers were from African American cavalry regiments known as Buffalo Soldiers, which patrolled Yosemite and Sequoia national parks to protect wildlife against poachers

Obama lied about cutting the deficit

Politicians only lie when their lips are moving!!!!

Obama will not make good on a promise to cut the deficit in half in his first term. Obama made the promise in 2009.


Obama sells budget as effort to 'keep this recovery on track'

By Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey

February 13, 2012, 8:42 a.m.

Reporting from Washington -- —

President Obama gave Congress a budget this morning that calls for $3.8 trillion in spending next year -- $901 billion more than the government will take in.

Obama said the country can’t just “cut our way to growth,” speaking to a group of students at a northern Virginia community college as the details of his proposal became public.

“The main idea in the budget is this: At a time when our economy is growing and creating jobs at a faster clip, we’ve got to do everything in our power to keep this recovery on track,” Obama said.

The deficit projections in the president’s budget make clear that Obama would not make good on a promise to cut the deficit in half in his first term. Obama made the promise in 2009, when the deficit hit $1.4 trillion. The budget estimates a $1.3 trillion deficit in 2012, a slight increase over 2011.

But cutting the deficit is only “part of our job,” Obama said this morning. By reducing the deficit over the long term, Obama said, the government will be able to invest in things that will “help grow our economy right now.”

That means the wealthy are going to have to pay more, Obama told the crowd.

It’s just a matter of math, Obama said, “that folks like me are going to have to do a little bit more.”

Obama shovels the BS on the 2012 budget

Obama shovels the BS on the 2012 budget!

Bush and Obama budget tricks seem to suggest war costs nothing but ending it frees a ton of money.


FACT CHECK: There are budget phantoms in the room

Associated Press


WASHINGTON (AP) — When a president introduces a budget, there are always phantoms flitting around the room. President Barack Obama's spending plan sets loose a number of them.

It counts on phantom savings from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's underpinned by tax increases Republicans won't let happen and program cuts fellow Democrats in Congress are all but certain to block.

And it assumes rates of growth that the economy will have to become strikingly undead to achieve.

A look at three budget ghosts, sometimes known as gimmicks:


BUDGET: Claims about $850 billion in savings from ending the wars and steers some $230 billion of that to highways.

REALITY: There is no direct peace dividend from ending the wars because the government borrowed to pay for them. The government would have to keep borrowing that amount of money to have it to spend on something else.

Counting the end of wars as a dividend is like a student coming out of college loaded with debt and aching to buy things, says Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "When you finish college, you don't suddenly have thousands of dollars a year to spend elsewhere — in fact, you have to find a way to pay back your loans."

MacGuineas says, "Drawing down spending on wars that were already set to wind down and that were deficit-financed in the first place should not be considered savings."

President George W. Bush kept the cost of the wars out of his budgets, a contentious accounting maneuver that may have papered over the impact on spending projections but deepened the national debt as surely as if the price tag had been shown transparently. Taken together, the Bush and Obama budget tricks seem to suggest war costs nothing but ending it frees a ton of money.


BUDGET: Forecasts healthy growth in years ahead, with GDP growth predicted to reach 4 percent in 2014 and 4.2 percent in 2015.

REALITY: It's obviously too soon to know, but reputable private forecasts are not nearly as rosy as the administration's assumptions, and their track record tends to be better. They are generally forecasting a percentage point lower or close to that, a huge difference, and don't see reaching 4 percent growth in the foreseeable future.

Last year, the administration built its proposed budget on a projection of 2.7 percent growth in 2011; it turned out to be 1.7. The forecast for 2012 was 3.6 percent, which the White House lowered in the new budget to 3 percent. IHS Global Insight, a leading forecaster in Lexington, Mass., projects 2.1 percent.

Such projections are key because the government's spending and debt plans rest on how much revenue can be expected to come in.


BUDGET: Assumes taxes will go up on the rich, tax breaks will end for the oil and gas industry, and spending will be cut for programs the president is willing to sacrifice.

REALITY: Tax increases are a non-starter before the election, with Republicans standing in the way, so sweeping parts of Obama's budget plan are little more than a campaign platform laying out what he would try to get done if re-elected.

Some of his proposals are not so tied to the election. They have little or no chance of passing Congress regardless of what happens in November.

For example, he proposes using money from a Justice Department fund for crime victims for other purposes. But Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, quickly signaled he would work to protect the fund, just as he has successfully done in the past.

Obama is the latest in a line of presidents to zero out — provide no money for — programs in order to show budget savings even while knowing Congress will restore the money. Amtrak and the post office are among institutions that have seen such phantoms before.


Associated Press writers Martin Crutsinger and Pete Yost contributed to this report.

The End of America as we know it????

Yes, I make fun of Robert Robb for being a socialist. But when Robert Robb thinks were are screwed under Obama, things must be really bad.

The good news, for history buffs is that things are so screwed up we might even get to see the collapse of the American Empire in the next 10 to 20 years. Of course us tax payers will also be screwed in the process by the thieves in the US Congress and Senate.


Obama budget vs. Simpson-Bowles

Let’s assume that President Obama’s budget was enacted in its entirety, down to the very last detail. What would be the federal government’s financial condition at the end of its 10-year horizon?

It would stink. Really, really bad.

Federal debt is currently $16 trillion. Under Obama’s budget, it would increase to $26 trillion over 10 years.

The annual cost of servicing the national debt is currently $225 billion. Under Obama’s budget, it would rise to $850 billion by 2022. Debt service would increase from its present 6 percent of federal outlays to nearly 15 percent.

The federal debt currently exceeds 100 percent of annual Gross Domestic Product. Economic historians believe that is the point at which sovereign debt begins to burden the performance of the private economy and raise questions about the government’s ability to pay it back. Under Obama’s budget, federal debt remains above that red line for the entire decade.

The reason federal debt continues to accumulate at such alarming levels is that Obama doesn’t propose to do anything meaningful to get federal spending under control. Remember, these debt numbers are what Obama’s own budgeteers project even after every tax increase he proposes for the rich is enacted, down to the very last detail, and they raise exactly what he says they will raise.

From 2007 to 2009, federal spending increased 29 percent, supposedly to deal with the turbulence in financial markets and the subsequent recession.

What Obama has done is to treat this explosion in what was supposed to be temporary spending as a new base, and continue to increase spending from the swollen base.

Forget the claims about spending and debt reduction. This is the bottom line: Obama proposes that federal spending increase from $3.8 trillion today to $5.8 trillion in 2022 – an annual rate of growth of 4.4 percent. In real, per-capita terms, the increase is 17 percent.

Basically, Obama is proposing that the country not even try to turn the corner on debt for the next decade.

An instructive comparison is the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles debt commission. It, after all, was appointed by the president to make recommendations on reducing the national debt.

The debt commission proposed roughly the same amount of increased annual revenue as Obama’s budget contains, but from broadening bases and lowering rates, not sharply increasing marginal tax rates. As Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has said, there are smart ways and dumb ways to get more money from the rich. The debt commission recommended the smart way.

The real difference, however, is in spending. From 2007 to 2009, federal spending leapt from 20 percent of GDP to 25 percent, again supposedly as a temporary countercyclical measure.

The debt commission proposed to get spending back down to 21.6 percent of GDP by 2015. Under Obama’s budget, it remains at 22.8 percent through 2022.

The difference is enormous. From 2013 through 2020, the debt commission’s recommendations would result in $2 trillion less in annual deficits than Obama proposes. For 2020, the debt commission’s recommended deficit is less than half that recommended by Obama.

The debt commission offered a blueprint for turning the corner on the federal debt, breaking its peak and having it constitute a declining share of GDP over time.

Why Obama would appoint the debt commission and then largely ignore its recommendations is a political mystery and one of history’s great missed opportunities.

But he did, and he has not offered an alternative approach to turning the corner on the national debt. Instead, he proposes that the country remain mired in it and threatened by it.

This Obama cannot blame on Republicans. This isn’t what he is left with after recalcitrant Republicans refuse to pass his initiatives. This is actually what he proposes for the country.

We won the war! Time to release the POWs in Guantanamo

Emperor Obama lied! We didn't win the war and the POWs won't be released!

Hmmm ... if we have won the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan how come the POWs in Guantanamo are not being released??? OK, I guess Emperor Obama lied about winning and ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But hey, it's not the first time a politician has lied to get elected.

Some people don't know this, but it's pretty easy to detect a politician that's lying. Their lips are moving. OK, that method doesn't work 100 percent of the time, but it's almost always correct when you hear a campaign speech.


This War Is Not Over Yet


Published: February 15, 2012

THE defense secretary, Leon E. Panetta, recently announced that America hoped to end its combat mission in Afghanistan in 2013 as it did in Iraq last year. Yet at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere, the United States continues to hold enemy detainees “for the duration of hostilities.”

Indeed, the “ending” of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq appears to have no consequences for the ending of detention. Because the end of a war is traditionally thought to be the moment when a president’s war powers begin to ebb, bringing combat to a close in Afghanistan and Iraq should lead to a reduction in executive power — including the legitimate basis for detaining the enemy.

But there is a disconnect today between the wars that are ending and the “war” that is used to justify ongoing detention of prisoners. Originally, the war in Afghanistan was part of the Bush administration’s “war on terror.” This framing had rhetorical power, but it quickly drew criticism because a war on terror has no boundaries in space or time, and no prospect of ever ending.

When he took office, President Obama abandoned the “war on terror” rhetoric, focusing instead on Iraq and Afghanistan. American war now seemed more manageable and traditional. A confined war in a specific war zone was a war that presumably could end once the enemy was defeated within that territory. But it was not so simple: Qaeda fighters slipped over the Afghan border to Pakistan, extending the zone of conflict.

Ending wars has never been easy, of course. On the Korean Peninsula, fighting came to a halt with an armistice agreement in 1953, but a peace treaty has never been signed, so there has been no formal end to that war. Faced with continuing threats from North Korea, American troops continue to maintain a presence in South Korea. Had today’s logic been applied there, Korean prisoners of war might still be serving the rest of their years in detention.

During the Vietnam War, North Vietnamese soldiers also crossed a border, into Cambodia. But once that war came to an end, the basis for ongoing detention of North Vietnamese enemy soldiers ended, even if a cold war against communism continued.

America’s recent wars have been hard to end, but our presidents have done their best to argue that our goals have been accomplished. President George W. Bush did this memorably when he declared victory in Iraq in May 2003 on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln under the banner “Mission Accomplished” — and yet that conflict was far from over.

President Obama had his own “Mission Accomplished” moment, when he declared the “end of combat in Iraq” in August 2010. Like Mr. Bush’s episode, Mr. Obama’s was principally a media event, as reporters spoke with excitement about the historic moment, as American combat troops crossed the border into Kuwait. Yet at the time, 50,000 United States troops remained in Iraq, and the Army quickly reassured them that, even though “conflict” had ended, “conflict conditions” persisted, and hence soldiers would still receive additional pay for serving in a hostile zone. That first “ending” of the Iraq war has now been largely forgotten, eclipsed by the December 2011 withdrawal — a much more extensive drawdown than initially planned.

The “end of combat” in Afghanistan, slated for 2013, could become yet another made-for-media event. But at the very least it should force Americans to confront the contradiction of ending two wars while invoking a nebulous and never-ending third one to justify the continued detention of prisoners.

Administration lawyers have an answer for this: the original post-9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force gave the president authority to act against Al Qaeda and its supporters.

Mr. Obama brought his definition of war into line with this more expansive view in January 2010 by declaring that the United States is “at war against Al Qaeda.” This broadened the scope of Mr. Obama’s rhetoric on war by divorcing it from geography. And it provided a way of bringing into the ambit of American war terrorists outside of Iraq and Afghanistan, such as Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric tied to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who was killed by an American drone strike in Yemen last September.

Like the Bush administration’s version of the war on terror, this war with Al Qaeda allows us to follow our enemies wherever they may go. It also enables us to continue framing terrorists as warriors, subject to detention without charges as long as threats related to Al Qaeda exist.

Mr. Obama is trying to have it both ways. Ending major conflicts in two countries helps him deliver on campaign promises. But his expansive definition of war leaves in place the executive power to detain without charges, and to exercise war powers in any region where Al Qaeda has a presence.

By asserting, for political purposes, that the nation’s two wars are ending while planning behind the scenes for a longer-term war against Al Qaeda terrorists, the man who pledged to bring America’s wars to an end has instead laid the basis for an endless battle.

Mary L. Dudziak, a professor of law, history and political science at the University of Southern California, is the author of “War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences.”

Don't buzz the Emperor when you have 40 pounds of weed on your plane!!!!


Pilot detained after straying into Obama's airspace

By Dan Weikel and Ari Bloomekatz, Los Angeles Times

February 17, 2012

A small private plane carrying a load of marijuana strayed into President Obama's no-fly zone over Los Angeles on Thursday and was forced to land at Long Beach Airport after being intercepted by U.S. Air Force jet fighters, authorities said.

The four-seat Cessna entered the restricted airspace about 11 a.m. as the president was flying from Orange County to Los Angeles aboard Marine One, a military helicopter provided for his use. Federal officials said the aircraft was never close enough to endanger Obama.

Air traffic controllers tried repeatedly to contact the single-engine Cessna, authorities said, but the pilot did not respond. The plane was quickly intercepted by two F-16 fighters from March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, they said.

After the Cessna touched down, federal agents and Long Beach police detained the pilot for questioning and found what law enforcement officials described as a large amount of marijuana on board the aircraft.

The pilot was taken into custody by Long Beach police, but his identity and other details were not released because of the continuing drug investigation.

Aircraft are typically prohibited from flying within 10 miles of any plane or helicopter carrying the president.

Brian Leary, a spokesman for the United States Secret Service, which provides protection for the president, said the plane violated temporary restrictions that had been imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration for Obama's visit.

Pilots who violate airspace restricted for security reasons can face revocation of their flying certificates, FAA officials said. If illegal drugs are found onboard, the aircraft can be confiscated by law enforcement agencies.

After his morning fundraisers, Obama departed from Los Angeles International Airport about 2:45 p.m. and flew to San Francisco, White House officials said. They declined to comment on the airspace violation.

It was not clear who was piloting the Cessna, which according to federal records was manufactured in 1961. The plane's FAA registration lists the owner as David W. Major, 52, of Grover Beach, a town south of Pismo Beach in San Luis Obispo County.

Major holds a student pilot certificate issued in 2008, according to the FAA. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Nutty old uncle Ron Paul isn't so nutty!!!!

"He would balance the budget in three years by rolling back federal spending across the board to 2006 levels and start cutting from there ... The math of Paul's proposal works. The politics do not"


GOP not prepared to cut federal debt

by Robert Robb, columnist - Feb. 22, 2012 12:00 AM

The Republic

The Republican presidential candidates regularly rail against the debt President Obama has racked up and proposes for the future. So, are they leveling with the American people about the problem and making proposals to bring the national debt under control?

Except for Ron Paul, the answer is: Not really.

Mitt Romney says he would cap federal spending at 20 percent of GDP "immediately." Reducing Obama's proposed spending of 23 percent of GDP to 20 percent would require cuts of more than $500 billion a year. Romney doesn't advocate specific cuts that come close to adding up to that.

Romney says he would reduce non-security discretionary spending by 5 percent and reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent. That would save about $40 billion.

Romney, as well as the other Republican candidates, would repeal "Obamacare." Estimates on what Obamacare will really cost are goosey, but repealing it would save big bucks. Let's assume somewhere in the range of $100 billion to $200 billion a year.

Romney has also excoriated Obama for his proposed defense budget and says he will keep defense spending at a minimum of 4 percent of GDP. That means, 10 years out, Romney proposes to spend $400 billion more on defense than Obama does. That significantly exceeds the total of any specific spending cuts Romney has advocated.

Rick Santorum proposes a balanced budget amendment at 18 percent of GDP, which would require cuts in what Obama proposes to spend in excess of $800 billion a year.

Santorum has embraced a broader array of spending restraints than has Romney. He would roll back non-defense discretionary spending to 2008 levels, impose a soft freeze on defense spending and freeze most social spending for five years. He would also cut the federal workforce and phase out agricultural and energy subsidies.

Coupled with repealing Obamacare, this would meaningfully reduce the deficit. But Santorum gives these savings away, and more, with his tax plan.

The Simpson-Bowles commission recommended lowering individual tax rates by broadening the base. Santorum proposes to lower rates but narrow the base by tripling the exemption for dependent children. Along with other tax proposals, the Tax Policy Center estimates that the Santorum plan would reduce federal revenues by $900 billion a year.

Newt Gingrich says that better management of the federal government could save $500 billion a year. Even if true, Gingrich also gives away more than that with his tax plan, which features an optional 15 percent flat tax. Those using the option will obviously be those who would pay more under the current system. The Tax Policy Center estimates the revenue loss at $850 billion a year.

Chances are these estimates of revenue loss are overstated. But even if off by a third or more, the bottom line is that neither Santorum nor Gingrich are, net, proposing much that would actually reduce the federal debt.

Ron Paul is. He would balance the budget in three years by rolling back federal spending across the board to 2006 levels and start cutting from there. He would completely eliminate five federal agencies -- Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Interior and Education.

The math of Paul's proposal works. The politics do not. The country might accept the kind of serious steps necessary to fix the federal government's finances over time. It's not ready to go cold turkey.

The Republican candidates are considerably better than Obama on entitlement reform. But entitlement reform relieves the longer-term debt problem. It doesn't get the country back on the path to fiscal rectitude in the intermediate term.

The bad news for the country is that President Obama isn't serious about getting federal debt under control. The really bad news is that, at this point, neither are the Republican candidates to replace him.

Reach Robb at or 602-444-8472.

Obama says his faith is driving his economic policies

What part of the First Amendment doesn't Emperor Obama understand????


Obama says his faith is driving his economic policies

Feb. 3, 2012 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Blending politics and religion, President Barack Obama said his Christian faith is a driving force behind his economic policies, from Wall Street reform to his calls for the wealthy to pay higher taxes.

Obama's remarks Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast were his most explicit account of how his personal religious beliefs factor into his decision-making on the nation's pressing problems. The comments came amid election-year criticism from Catholic groups and some Republicans that the president is waging a war on religion following his decision to require church-affiliated institutions to cover free birth control for employees.

Speaking to more than 3,000 people at the annual breakfast, Obama said "faith and values" should play as much a role in tackling the nation's challenges as sound decision-making and smart policies.

He said, for example, that his own call for fairness in the tax code -- a central tenet of his State of the Union address and his 2012 campaign -- is both economically sound and consistent with the teachings of Jesus.

"If I'm willing to give something up as somebody who's been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that's going to make economic sense," he said. "But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus' teaching that 'for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.' It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who've been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others."

He also said the Wall Street reform he championed both "makes the economy stronger for everyone" and abides by God's command to "love thy neighbor as thyself" because it helped people who had been hurt or treated unfairly by financial institutions.

And Obama said he believed in a "biblical call" to care for the poor and to follow "the responsibility we're given in Proverbs to 'Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.' "

Bend over the President wants your money!


Who Pays for Presidents to Raise Money for Re-election Campaigns? You Do!

By Jake Tapper, Richard Coolidge & Sherisse Pham

Power Players – Fri, Feb 24, 2012

President Obama and Democrats have raised $250 million dollars so far this election cycle. But who actually pays for the president's travel costs so he can get to these multimillion dollar mansions to raise money? In part, you and I do.

So far this year, President Obama has taken four trips, including 18 fundraisers outside the greater Washington, D.C. area. But during each trip he also conducted official business. That means that the White House -- in other words, taxpayers -- splits the cost with the Obama campaign.

But how do they split it? Take Obama's recent trip out west, when he travelled to three states over three days. He attended eight fundraisers, and held just two official events - a factory tour in Wisconsin and a Boeing plant visit in Seattle.

The cost of operating Air Force One is $179,750 per hour, according to the U.S. Air Force. White House Pool reports show that the plane flew for nearly 12 hours for that trip, which means the plane ride alone cost more than $2 million. That doesn't even include the cost of flying advance workers and specialty vehicles ahead of time to the president's destination, not to mention the cost of setting up security.

So what was the total cost of that trip to taxpayers?

"We'll never know," said Brendan Doherty, who tracks presidential travel as a political scientist at the United States Naval Academy.

"Even on a trip that ends up designated as 100 percent political," he added, "taxpayers end up bearing most of the cost."

The campaign does not reimburse the government for the cost of flying Air Force One, but for the equivalent cost of flying the president and his staff first class on a commercial airline.

Indeed, Presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, and on and on all used this same formula. Doherty says when it comes to presidents taking advantage of this billing technicality, each one exploits it more than his predecessor.

"If we were having this conversation 20 plus years ago, we'd be talking about George H.W. Bush's record-breaking funds. Four years after that we would be talking about Bill Clinton and how he shattered George H.W. Bush's records. Eight years later we'd be talking about George W. Bush eclipsing the fundraising pace that Bill Clinton set in his first term," said Doherty. "And now eight years later Barack Obama is breaking records that George W Bush set."

So far the Obama campaign has reimbursed the government $1.5 million.

The "war on terror" is just an extension of the "war on drugs"

White House helps pay for NYPD Muslim surveillance

The "war on terror" is just an extension of the "war on drugs". This article seems to confirm that - "Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush and Obama administrations have provided $135 million to the New York and New Jersey region through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, known as HIDTA ... The HIDTA grant program is overseen by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy"

And of course Obama promise to make the government open and accountable for it's actions is 100 percent BS - "John Brennan, Obama's top counterterrorism adviser ... would not elaborate. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ... refused in recent months to discuss the police tactics. Tom Perez, the Justice Department's top civil rights lawyer, has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the NYPD"


White House helps pay for NYPD Muslim surveillance

WASHINGTON (AP) – Millions of dollars in White House money has helped pay for New York Police Department programs that put entire American Muslim neighborhoods under surveillance.

Attorney Nadia Kahf, left, stands with Mohamed Elfilali of the Islamic Center of Passaic County during a news conference in Newark to address NYPD spying.

The money is part of a little-known grant intended to help law enforcement fight drug crimes. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush and Obama administrations have provided $135 million to the New York and New Jersey region through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, known as HIDTA.

Some of that money — it's unclear exactly how much because the program has little oversight — has paid for the cars that plainclothes NYPD officers used to conduct surveillance on Muslim neighborhoods. It also paid for computers that store even innocuous information about Muslim college students, mosque sermons and social events.

When NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly was filled in on these efforts, his briefings were prepared on HIDTA computers.

The AP confirmed the use of White House money through secret police documents and interviews with current and former city and federal officials. The AP also obtained electronic documents with digital signatures indicating they were created and saved on HIDTA computers. The HIDTA grant program is overseen by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The disclosure that the White House is at least partially paying for the NYPD's wholesale surveillance of places where Muslims eat, shop, work and pray complicates efforts by the Obama administration to stay out of the fray over New York's controversial counterterrorism programs. The administration has championed outreach to American Muslims and has said law enforcement should not put entire communities under suspicion.

The Obama administration, however, has pointedly refused to endorse or repudiate the NYPD programs it helps pay for. The White House last week declined to comment on its grant payments.

John Brennan, Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, last year called the NYPD's efforts "heroic" but would not elaborate. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, whose department also gives grant money to the NYPD and is one of the lead federal agencies helping police build relationships with Muslims, has refused in recent months to discuss the police tactics. Tom Perez, the Justice Department's top civil rights lawyer, has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the NYPD.

Outside Washington, the NYPD's efforts drew increased criticism last week. College administrators at Yale, Columbia and elsewhere issued harsh rebukes for NYPD's infiltration of Muslim student groups and its monitoring of school websites. New Jersey's governor and the mayor of its largest city have complained about the NYPD's widespread surveillance there, outside New York's police jurisdiction.

The White House HIDTA grant program was established at the height of the drug war to help police fight drug gangs and unravel supply routes. It has provided about $2.3 billion to local authorities in the past decade.

After the terror attacks, law enforcement was allowed to use some of that money to fight terrorism. It's unclear how much HIDTA money has been used to pay for the intelligence division, in part because NYPD intelligence operations receive scant oversight in New York.

Congress, which approves the money for the program, is not provided with a detailed breakdown of activities. None of the NYPD's clandestine programs is cited in the New York-New Jersey region's annual reports to Congress between 2006 and 2010.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did not respond to questions the AP sent to him in two emails about the White House money and the department's intelligence division.

Most of the money from the White House grants in New York and New Jersey has been spent fighting drugs, said Chauncey Parker, director of the program there. He said less than $1.3 million was spent on vehicles used by the NYPD intelligence unit.

"Those cars are used to collect and analyze counterterrorism information with the goal of preventing a terrorist attack in New York City or anywhere else," Parker said. "If it's been used for specific counterterrorism effort, then it's been used to pay for those cars."

Former police officials told the AP those vehicles have been used to photograph mosques and record the license plates of worshippers.

In addition to paying for the cars, the White House money pays for part of the office space the intelligence division shares with other agencies in Manhattan.

When police compiled lists of Muslims who took new, Americanized names, they kept those records on HIDTA computer servers. That was ongoing as recently as October, city officials said.

Many NYPD intelligence officers, including those that conducted surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods, had HIDTA email addresses. Briefing documents for Kelly, the police commissioner, were compiled on HIDTA computers. Those documents described what police informants were hearing inside mosques and which academic conferences Muslim scholars attended.

When police wanted to pay a confidential informant, they were told to sign onto the HIDTA website to file the paperwork, according to a 2007 internal document obtained by the AP.

Parker said the White House grant money was never used to pay any of the NYPD intelligence division's confidential informants. The HIDTA computer systems, he said, are platforms that allow different law enforcement agencies to share information and work.

"I am shocked to hear that federal dollars may have helped finance the NYPD's misguided efforts to spy on Muslims in America," said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., one of 34 members of Congress who have asked the Justice Department and House Judiciary Committee to investigate the NYPD.

The connection between NYPD and the White House anti-drug grant program surfaced years ago, during a long-running civil rights lawsuit against police. Civil rights attorneys asked in court about a "demonstration debriefing form" that police used whenever they arrested people for civil disobedience. The form carried the seal of both the NYPD Intelligence Division and HIDTA.

A city lawyer downplayed any connection. She said the NYPD and HIDTA not only shared office space, they also shared office supplies like paper. The NYPD form with the seal of a White House anti-drug program was "a recycled piece of paper that got picked up and modified," attorney Gail Donoghue told a federal judge in 2003.

The issue died in court and was never pursued further.

Last week, the controversy over NYPD's programs drew one former Obama administration official into the discussion.

After the AP revealed an extensive program to monitor Muslims in Newark, N.J., police there denied knowing anything about it. The Newark police director at the time, Garry McCarthy, has since moved on to lead Chicago's police department where President Barack Obama's first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is now the mayor.

"We don't do that in Chicago and we're not going to do that," Emanuel said last week.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the NYPD surveillance in his state was "disturbing" and has asked the attorney general to investigate. Christie was New Jersey's top federal prosecutor and sat on the HIDTA executive board during 2006 and 2007 when the NYPD was conducting surveillance in New Jersey cities. Christie said he didn't know that, in 2007, the NYPD catalogued every mosque and Muslim business in Newark, the state's largest city.

Sheriff Joe says President Obama is an illegal???

Is Sheriff Joe shoveling the BS to distract people from his problems? Sometimes shoveling the BS higher and deeper is the best defense!

Personally I don't like Emperor Obama any more then I liked Emperor Bush, but I find it hard to believe the Emperor Obama is an illegal alien from Kenya!


Arpaio unveils Obama birth-certificate probe

Mar. 1, 2012 03:36 PM

Associated Press

America's self-proclaimed toughest sheriff finds himself entangled these days in his own thorny legal troubles: a federal grand jury probe over alleged abuse of power, Justice Department accusations of racial profiling and revelations that his department didn't adequately investigate hundreds of Arizona sex-crime cases.

Rather than seek cover, though, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is seeking to grab the spotlight in the same unorthodox fashion that has helped boost his career as a nationally known lawman.

Arpaio on Thursday unveiled preliminary results of an investigation, conducted by members of his volunteer cold-case posse, into the authenticity of President Barack Obama's birth certificate, a controversy that has been widely debunked but which remains alive in the eyes of some conservatives.

At a news conference, Arpaio said the probe revealed that there was probable cause to believe Obama's long-form birth certificate released by the White House in April is a computer-generated forgery. He also said the selective service card completed by Obama in 1980 in Hawaii also was most likely a forgery.

"We don't know who the perpetrators are of these documents," Arpaio said, although he said he doesn't think the president forged the documents.

Earlier, the 79-year-old Republican sheriff defended his need to spearhead such an investigation after nearly 250 people connected to an Arizona tea party group requested one last summer.

"I'm not going after Obama," said Arpaio, who has criticized the president's administration for cutting off his federal immigration powers and conducting a civil rights investigation of his office. "I'm just doing my job."

Some critics suggest Arpaio's aim is to divert attention from his own legal troubles while raising his political profile as he seeks a sixth term this year. The sheriff vehemently denies such strategies are in play.

"You say I need this to get elected? Are you kidding me? I've been elected five times. I don't need this," he said in a recent interview.

Democratic state Sen. Steve Gallardo said Arpaio is pandering to relentless critics of the president.

"It doesn't matter what President Obama does, they'll never support him," Gallardo said. "It's those folks who will continue to write checks to Sheriff Joe because of this stuff."

Arpaio's probe comes amid a federal grand jury investigation into the sheriff's office on criminal abuse-of-power allegations since at least December 2009, focusing on the sheriff's anti-public corruption squad. Separately, the U.S. Justice Department has accused Arpaio's office of racially profiling Latinos, basing immigration enforcement on racially charged citizen complaints and punishing Hispanic jail inmates for speaking Spanish. Arpaio denies the allegations and said the investigation is politically motivated.

Critics also have sought Arpaio's resignation for more than 400 sex-crimes cases over a three-year period ending in 2007 that were either inadequately investigated or weren't investigated at all by the sheriff's office after the crimes were reported. The sheriff's office said the backlog was cleared up after the problem was brought to Arpaio's attention.

Speculation about Obama's birthplace has swirled among conservatives for years. "Birthers" maintain that Obama is ineligible to hold the country's highest elected office because, they contend, he was born in Kenya, his father's homeland. Some contend Obama's birth certificate must be a fake.

Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed Obama's citizenship, and Obama released a copy of his long-form birth certificate in April in an attempt to quell citizenship questions. Courts also have rebuffed lawsuits over the issue. Of late, the president's re-election campaign has poked fun at it, selling coffee cups with a picture of the president's birth record.

On Thursday, Obama's campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt offered a light-hearted dismissal of Arpaio's probe -- he tweeted what he referred to as a "live link" to the sheriff's news conference, but instead provided a link to a snippet of the old conspiracy-theory based TV series, "The X-Files."

Arpaio has said he took deliberate steps to avoid the appearance that his investigation is politically motivated. Instead of using taxpayer money, the sheriff farmed it out to lawyers and retired police officers who are volunteers in a posse that examines cold cases. Other posses assist deputies in duties that include providing free police protection at malls during the holiday season or transporting people to jail.

Even as he is under fire by the federal government, the sheriff remains popular among Republicans.

GOP presidential candidates have courted him for his endorsement throughout the primary season. At last week's GOP presidential debate in Arizona, Arpaio won loud cheers. During a question about Arizona's border woes, Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said the government ought to give local police agencies the chance to enforce immigration law as Arpaio has.

Bruce Merrill, a longtime pollster and senior research fellow at Arizona State University's Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said the subject of the investigation plays to the sheriff's base of supporters. And, he said, it highlights Arpaio's gift for publicity.

"It's something that the press will cover," Merrill said. "He'll get a lot of exposure from it."

Emperor Obama to invade Iran????

Good news if you own stock in the military industrial complex!!! Or if you love bullies!!!

Emperor Obama is beating the war drums about Iran.

Of course for the rest of that means Emperor Obama is war monger just like Emperor Bush who will use any lame excuse to invade anybody.

It's too bad Iran doesn't already have a nuclear bomb, because bullies don't invade people that can defend themselves.


Obama: Attacking Iran over nuclear dispute still option

by Ben Feller - Mar. 4, 2012 11:34 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama said Sunday he would not hesitate to attack Iran to keep it from getting a nuclear bomb, hoping a forceful assurance will discourage Israel from launching a unilateral strike that could ignite the Middle East and drag the U.S. into war.

Pleading for time for diplomacy to work, Obama warned that "loose talk of war" was only undermining world security.

Addressing a powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, Obama delivered messages to multiple audiences: Israel, Iran, Jewish voters, a restless Congress, a wary international community and three Republican presidential contenders who will speak to the same group Tuesday.

At the core was his bullish assertion that the United States will never settle for containing a nuclear-armed Iran or fail to defend Israel.

"I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests," Obama said. [American isn't defending it's self. It's an unprovoked attack on another country]

But he framed military force as a last resort, not the next option at a time when sanctions are squeezing Iran. The president seemed intent on quieting a drumbeat for war, saying even the talk of it has driven up the price of oil to the benefit of Iran.

"Now is not the time for bluster," Obama said. "Now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in."

Obama's speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee set a tone for a vital meeting today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose embattled Mideast nation fears it will soon lose a window to strike Iran before it becomes a target of nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu, standing his ground against what his country perceives as a threat to its existence, said he perhaps most appreciated hearing Obama say, "Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat." Speaking to reporters in Canada ahead of his arrival in the U.S., Netanyahu made no reference to the sanctions and diplomacy Obama emphasized.

The U.S. fears an Israeli strike on Iran would do little to derail Tehran's long-term nuclear weapons pursuit, and, in the near term, would turn Iran into a victim. Many analysts believe an Israeli attack would result in a region-wide conflict, including Iranian attacks on American troops in the Persian Gulf.

The influence of the lobbying group, known as AIPAC, has turned its annual conference into a must-attend event for politicians. Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum will all address the group Tuesday via satellite.

Why it's OK for Obama to murder Americans abroad!!!!

Hey, the President is the American Emperor and he can murder anybody he feels like. Well that's what they want us to think.


Holder expected to explain rationale for targeting U.S. citizens abroad

By Sari Horwitz and Peter Finn, Published: March 4

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday plans to provide the most detailed account to date of the Obama administration’s legal rationale for killing U.S. citizens abroad, as it did in last year’s airstrike against an alleged al-Qaeda operative in Yemen, officials said.

The rationale Holder plans to offer resembles, in its broad strokes, those previously offered by lower-ranking officials. But his speech Monday will mark a new and higher-profile phase of the administration’s campaign to justify lethal action in those rare instances in which U.S. citizens, such as New Mexico-born Anwar al-Awlaki, join terrorist causes devoted to harming their homeland.

Civil libertarians and other critics have been demanding a more thorough and public accounting of the administration’s logic since the killing of Awlaki in September. Administration officials have relied on a classified opinion, written by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, that provides a legal framework for the unusual action, but they have refused repeated requests to release it despite intense internal debate on the subject.

Holder plans to argue that the killing of an American terrorist abroad is legal under the 2001 congressional authorization of the use of military force, according to an official briefed on the speech, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss its details ahead of its formal release. This official also said Holder plans to say that the U.S. right to self-defense is not limited to traditional battlefields as the government pursues terrorists who present an imminent threat.

Awlaki, 40, was a skilled propagandist and the chief of external operations for al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, which has attempted a number of terrorist attacks on the United States, according to administration officials. He had been placed on “kill lists” compiled by the CIA and and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command. Awlaki died when a joint CIA-JSOC drone operation fired missiles at him.

He was the first U.S. citizen deliberately targeted by the U.S. government.

Major address on security

The Awlaki operation was carried out after the administration requested and received the Justice Department opinion saying that targeting and killing U.S. citizens overseas was legal under domestic and international law, according to administration officials. The classified memo also included intelligence material about his operational role within al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.

Senior Obama administration officials, including John O. Brennan, the president’s counterterrorism adviser, and Harold Koh, the State Department legal adviser, have given speeches that offered a broad rationale for U.S. drone attacks on individuals in al-Qaeda and associated forces.

On Feb. 22, in a speech at Yale Law School, Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson said the targeted killing of those suspected of engaging in terrorist activities against the United States, including U.S. citizens, is justified and legal. He did not mention Awlaki by name or the secret CIA drone program.

Holder’s remarks will be included in what administration officials are calling a major national security speech at Northwestern University’s law school in Chicago. The speech may not mention Awlaki by name, but his case has been central to the legal thinking on the issue and in the preparation of the text of Monday’s speech, officials said.

In the administration, there was some reluctance on the part of the intelligence community to discuss the subject publicly. But others argued that the killing of an American citizen by the U.S. government was such an extraordinary event that it required some public accounting.

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked a federal court to force the Obama administration to release legal and intelligence records related to the killing of Awlaki and two other U.S. citizens in drone attacks in Yemen last year. Samir Khan, also a U.S. citizen, was reported to have been killed in the Awlaki attack. And Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, was reportedly killed in a JSOC drone strike two weeks later.

After the killing of Awlaki, several senators called on the Obama administration to release the classified legal memo.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said that “for both transparency and to maintain public support of secret operations, it is important to explain the general framework for counterterrorism actions.”

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also urged administration officials to release the memo.

Civilian vs. military custody

Holder’s speech will also outline the Obama administration’s approach to counterterrorism and the rule of law, according to an official familiar with the address. Holder will discuss the broad new waivers that President Obama issued last week that allow U.S. law enforcement agencies to retain custody of al-Qaeda terrorism suspects rather than turn them over to the military.

Holder also plans to highlight the success of the civilian court system in the prosecutions and convictions of terrorism suspects. One case he will cite as an example is that of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to bring down a U.S. commercial flight on Christmas Day 2009 by attempting to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear. He was sentenced last month to life in prison.

Abdulmutallab was arrested by federal law enforcement agents, given his Miranda rights within an hour and processed through the civilian criminal justice system. Some Republican critics argued that Abdulmu­tallab should never have been advised of his rights to counsel and that the administration should have considered turning him over to the military to continue his interrogation.

But administration officials said that they got the intelligence they needed from him immediately and that later he provided further details on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Some of that information, including on Awlaki’s alleged operational role, was revealed at Abdulmutallab’s sentencing.

Prosecutors said Abdulmu­tallab was acting on the orders of Awlaki, which may have been a critical factor in the legal reasoning in the classified Justice memo justifying his killing.

Holder will also discuss the debate over whether terrorism suspects should be tried in federal criminal courts or by military commissions. The administration argues that military commissions are appropriate for a small and select group of cases but that it should have the ability to transfer some suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States for trial. Congress, however, has blocked such prosecutions

A preemptive strike against Iran violates the U.S. and international law

Since the Senate overwhelmingly ratified the United Nations Charter as a treaty in 1945, the president is constitutionally required to abide by Article 51 of the charter. This provision allows states to use military force in self-defense only when responding to an "armed attack."


The legal case against attacking Iran

A preemptive strike against Iran would violate both U.S. and international law.

By Bruce Ackerman

March 5, 2012

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington has provoked a broad debate over the military and political wisdom of an attack on Iran. But so far, there has been little attention to the legal issues involved, which are crucial. American support for a preemptive strike would be a violation of both international law and the U.S. Constitution.

Article II of the Constitution requires the president to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed," and Article VI says that treaties are part of the "supreme law of the land." [Which means treaties override over normal laws passed by Congress] Since the Senate overwhelmingly ratified the United Nations Charter as a treaty in 1945, the president is constitutionally required to abide by Article 51 of the charter. This provision allows states to use military force in self-defense only when responding to an "armed attack." Preemptive attacks are another matter. [And of course both the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are violations of Article 51, along with the war in Vietnam]

In 1981, the United States joined in the U.N. Security Council's unanimous condemnation of Israel's preemptive assault on an Iraqi nuclear reactor. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher put it bluntly: "Armed attack in such circumstances cannot be justified. It represents a grave breach of international law."

In standing with the Security Council to condemn the Israeli raid, the Reagan administration was embracing a tradition of U.S. statesmanship that began with Secretary of State Daniel Webster. In 1837, the British were trying to suppress a revolt in eastern Canada. Because U.S. militias were assisting the uprising, the British launched a night raid into New York state, burning a U.S. ship, the SS Caroline, and sending it over Niagara Falls.

After lengthy negotiations, Webster gained British consent to a treaty that prohibited such preemptive strikes. The two sides agreed in 1842 that a cross-border strike was legitimate only if there was a "necessity of self-defense, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation." This Anglo-American formula remains a part of international law today.

The United States was also the central player at the decisive moment for self-defense in the 20th century: the judgment at Nuremberg. We remember these trials for their condemnation of genocide. But this was not their central focus. The main charge was that the Nazis had waged aggressive war — and this required the Allies to endorse the limited doctrine of self-defense enshrined in traditional law.

Even when the United States felt itself to be directly threatened during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy did not invoke the right of preemptive self-defense. Although the risk of mass destruction was high, the president's legal arguments were carefully constrained: When intercepting Soviet missiles on the high seas, Kennedy relied on the regional peacekeeping provisions of the U.N. Charter.

A departure from this restrictive approach came only recently, during the run-up to the war in Iraq, when the George W. Bush administration pointed to Saddam Hussein's purported looming nuclear threat to American cities as justification for the U.S.-led invasion. The tragic outcome of this adventure only emphasizes the wisdom of Webster's insistence that the "necessity of self-defense" be "instant" and "overwhelming."

Today, we are at a crucial legal turning point. If President Obama supports Netanyahu's preemptive strike, he will transform Bush's Iraq aberration into the founding precedent of a new era of international law. He should instead reaffirm Reagan's position in 1981 and return the presidency to its traditional commitments to international law abroad and constitutional fidelity at home.

The wrong choice would have profound consequences. We are moving into a multipolar world, where the United States and its allies will have diminished power to secure the peace. This is not the time to unleash an open-ended doctrine of preemptive self-defense that will permit other nations to avoid Security Council approval for the aggressive use of military force.

This moment of decision comes at an awkward time, given election-year politics. But it is the president's job to govern according to law while pursuing the long-run interests of the United States.

Bruce Ackerman is a professor of law and political science at Yale and the author, most recently, of "The Decline and Fall of the American Republic."

Eric Holder: U.S. can murder American citizens in terror fight

I wonder when the American Empire will start using drones to murder suspected criminals on US soil??? I suspect the first murder will be a person suspected of a victimless drug war crime!


Eric Holder: U.S. can target citizens overseas in terror fight

By Richard A. Serrano and Andrew R. Grimm

March 5, 2012, 1:44 p.m.

Reporting from Chicago— Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. defended the U.S. right to target and kill American citizens overseas in the war on terror, telling an audience at the Northwestern University law school that when those individuals pose a real threat to this country and cannot be captured unharmed, "we must take steps to stop them."

But according to the text of his remarks released by the Justice Department, he stressed that it can only be done "in full accordance with the Constitution," [I bet he had his fingers crossed!] and asserted that a targeted slaying, like that of American-born Anwar Awlaki in a U.S. drone attack in Yemen last year, can be ordered only after an "imminent threat" was posed to this country and their capture was "not feasible."

"In this hour of danger, we simply cannot afford to wait until deadly plans are carried out," Holder said. "And we will not."

He said the legal right to kill U.S. citizens overseas without benefit of a trial was based in Congress’ authorization to use all necessary and appropriate force against the perpetrators of 9/11 or those who helped them and the president’s power "to protect the nation from any imminent threat of violent attack." [Hmmm so Congress can vote to suspend the Constitution and let the President murder anybody he feels like????]

That authority is "not limited to the battlefields in Afghanistan," Holder said, adding that, "We are at war with a stateless enemy, prone to shifting operations from country to country."

His speech, in a carefully orchestrated address Monday at the law school’s Chicago campus, came after sharp questions over the Obama administration’s slaying of Awlaki, born in New Mexico, and how his killing comports with the oft-repeated stance from Holder and the White House that terrorists should be brought to justice in U.S. federal courts in this country.

The attorney general has been at the center of the controversy over trying to defend the administration’s policy toward handling terrorists.

Obama in the 2008 campaign pledged to close the military prison for terrorists at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and he and Holder have repeatedly insisted that terrorists should be tried in federal civilian courts rather than military tribunals. But after intense pressure from Republicans and some Democrats, they have had to back off on shutting Guantanamo Bay, as well as their plan to try five top Sept. 11 plotters in federal court in New York.

Since the drone attack last fall that killed Awlaki and a second American citizen, Samir Khan, conservatives began casting the administration as two-faced in its policy for terrorists, and liberals questioned how Obama and Holder could justify killing Americans.

Holder did not mention the September slayings of Awlaki or Khan, or the reported slaying of Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, in a drone attack two weeks later. Nor did he discuss the Department of Justice Office of Legal Policy document giving the administration legal justification for the use of force. Indeed, he did not even acknowledge that such a document exists, although several organizations have filed suit to make it public.

Holder did not take questions from reporters after his remarks, and while he originally was going to answer questions from the law school audience, on Monday morning he abruptly canceled that plan.

Evidence has shown the 40-year-old Awlaki, a radical cleric, was a major propagandist for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He also was linked to Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is being court-martialed for the 2009 rampage that killed 13 at Ft. Hood, Texas, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian sentenced in federal court in Detroit last month to life in prison with no parole for trying to ignite a bomb on a jetliner on Christmas Day 2009.

The government has alleged Awlaki encouraged Hasan and Abdulmutallab in their plots to kill Americans, with Holder on Monday strongly suggesting that someone like him meets three criteria for an attack with lethal force – he poses an imminent threat against the U.S, his capture is not feasible, and his slaying "would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles."

Holder argued that the Supreme Court has applied a "balancing approach" to the 5th Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which guarantees a citizen his right to due process of law that also "takes into account the realities of combat."

"Here," he said, "the interests of both sides of the scale are extraordinarily weighty."

But, the attorney general added, "it is imperative for the government to counter threats posed by senior operational leaders of al Qaeda, and to protect the innocent people whose lives could be lost in their attacks."

Serrano reported from Washington.

John McCain - Bomb Syria

I suspect Senator John McCain wants to start another American war so that the special interest groups in the military industrial complex that give him campaign contributions will make lots of money off of this tragedy in Syria. And of course to create a jobs program for his general and admiral buddies in the military.

Yes our government masters love war, because it gives them lots of excuses to spend money on the special interest groups that helped them get elected.


McCain seeks airstrikes on Syria; U.S. presses Putin

Mar. 5, 2012 03:30 PM

Assocaited Press

WASHINGTON -- Frustrated by a diplomatic logjam and a bloody Syrian offensive, Republican Sen. John McCain on Monday urged the United States to launch airstrikes against President Bashar Assad's regime to force him out of power -- a call for dramatic military intervention that wasn't supported by the Obama administration or its European or Arab partners.

McCain's statement on the Senate floor came as the U.S. and European governments pleaded for Russia's Vladimir Putin to rethink his anti-interventionist stance on Syria, in what appeared to be an increasingly desperate effort for consensus among world powers to stop a crackdown that has killed more than 7,500 people. Hundreds fled to neighboring Lebanon on Monday fearing they'd be massacred in their homes.

But the trans-Atlantic calls for Russia to abandon its opposition to strong U.N. action were delivered at a curious time: a day after Putin showed his strength by resoundingly winning re-election as president, a position he held from 2000 to 2008. Even the modest aim of gaining Russian support for a humanitarian strategy in Syria faced renewed resistance Monday -- showing just how limited the diplomatic options were despite the ongoing violence.

McCain's strategy would be far more direct, though it's unclear how popular it would be. His statement was as much a critique of President Barack Obama as a rallying call for an international military campaign, accusing the president of being too soft on Assad.

McCain, the GOP's presidential nominee in 2008 and his party's senior member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. should change policy by arming Syria's rebels and spearheading a military effort to support them.

"The only realistic way to do so is with foreign airpower," McCain concluded. "The United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad's forces."

McCain's proposal will likely divide American lawmakers, many of whom opposed a similar operation in Libya last year. Even if it were championed by the Obama administration and its NATO allies, the plan would divide other countries hostile to the Assad regime but unwilling to support another Western military intervention in the Muslim world. And it would be anathema to Russia, which sees Syria as its primary ally in the Middle East.

Unlike the international Libya campaign that ousted Moammar Gadhafi in Libya last year, military action against Syria would not have the backing of the U.N. Security Council and would be difficult to justify under international law. In many ways, it would also be a rejection of Obama's doctrine stressing international collaboration on applying military force.

Obama's strategy has been to use sanctions and international diplomatic isolation to pressure Assad into handing over power as part of a political transition. At the minimum, Western countries want aid guaranteed for civilians caught between Assad's forces and the increasingly militarized opposition, but are struggling even to convince Damascus and its Russian and Iranian backers of that.

Russia, alongside fellow veto-wielding Security Council member China, has stood by Assad even while his forces have killed thousands over the past year, rejecting two U.N. resolutions critical of the Syrian government. Negotiations on a narrower, third resolution are ongoing in New York, and the Kremlin again seems to be standing in the way.

"I hope that Russia now, after the elections and with a clear view, will see that it stands on the wrong side of history," said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. "The people in Syria who are standing up for democracy and their freedom need solidarity from the international community."

Speaking in Prague, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said an Arab League meeting this weekend would offer Putin a chance to work with the rest of the world on getting humanitarian assistance into besieged cities such as Homs, and recognizing "that there needs to be a new leadership in Syria."

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington planned to immediately take up the Syrian issue with Moscow. She said the U.S. is open to compromise on U.N. action as long as Russia stopped trying to equate the Assad regime's violent repression of protesters with rebels trying only to defend their communities.

"We hope that their sense of humanity and compassion will encourage them to join us in pressing the Assad regime to silence its guns," she said.

The entreaties failed to make an immediate impression on Moscow. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov instead drew attention to a months-old Russian resolution demanding that Syria's government and the opposition hold talks on reforms. The Russian approach would keep the levers of power in Assad's hands, while requiring his opponents to end their rebellion.

"I don't think there is a need for any new initiatives," Lavrov said Monday. He said other countries "shouldn't expect one another to take any action, but sit down together and decide what steps need to be taken so that the Syrians stop shooting at each other."

Syria is Russia's primary ally in the Middle East, having maintained close ties with Damascus since the Cold War, when the Arab country was led by the current leader's father, Hafez Assad. Putin, Russia's prime minister for the past four years, called last week for government and opposition forces to pull out of besieged cities, accusing the West of encouraging the rebels to fight by refusing to make that demand.

Western countries, meanwhile, added to the pressure and isolation against Assad on Monday.

The Obama administration added Syria's state television and radio to a U.S. sanctions list for its role in supporting the crackdown, while Canada joined the list of governments that have closed their embassies in Damascus to protest the violence.

McCain's call for airstrikes was a marked change from his remarks last month, when he said the U.S. should find ways to help the Syrian people without putting American "boots on the ground." Then, he said the options included providing medical care and technical assistance to safe havens for refugees of the violence.

He had since called for arming Syria's rebels, another step the Obama administration is hesitant to take. It fears a further militarization of Syria, and says the government's superior firepower in the form of tanks and artillery means funneling weapons to Assad's opponents may neither save lives nor accelerate the end of the regime.

Obama is a war monger just like the Republicans

I have said that Emperor Obama is just a clone of Emperor Bush. Or for that matter Emperor Obama is just a clone of his competitor John McCain in the 2008 election. This article seems to agree with that. Obama is a war monger just like the Republican candidates are. Of course the only exception is Ron Paul who wants get get America out of all it's current wars.


Candidates Hammer Obama Over Iran, but Approaches Differ Little


Published: March 5, 2012

WASHINGTON — To rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, Mitt Romney says he would conduct naval exercises in the Persian Gulf to remind Iran of American military might. He would try to ratchet up Security Council sanctions on Iran, targeting its Revolutionary Guards, and the country’s central bank and other financial institutions. And if Russia and China do not go along, he says, the United States should team up with other willing governments to put such punitive measures in place.

As it turns out, that amounts to what President Obama is doing.

As their tone on Iran escalates in advance of appearances via satellite Tuesday morning before the country’s most influential pro-Israel lobbying group, the Republican candidates for president have tried to draw stark contrasts between themselves and Mr. Obama when it comes to stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Mr. Obama’s Iran strategy, Rick Santorum said recently on “Meet the Press” on NBC, risked turning the United States into a “paper tiger.” Newt Gingrich said that on Iran, “we’re being played for fools.”

On Sunday, Mr. Romney, appearing in Atlanta, offered this: “If Barack Obama gets re-elected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon.” And on Monday, he wrote an op-ed article in The Washington Post comparing Mr. Obama to President Jimmy Carter, who he said “fretted in the White House” as Iran held American hostages for 444 days.

Mr. Obama and his backers have cried foul, saying the Republican candidates, in the quest to appear tough, are playing a dangerous game that could end up driving Iran closer to a nuclear weapon, as Mr. Obama implied in his own address Sunday to a pro-Israel group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, echoed that in an interview on Monday.

“To be making a blanket statement that if he’s president they’ll have one, and if Romney’s president they won’t have one, is the most craven political thing to say,” he said. “To make up differences is to play in Iranian hands.” Mr. Kerry said it could further drive up the price of oil, which helps Iran, as traders on world markets build in expectations of a military strike.

Though advisers to Mr. Romney say they see significant differences between his Iran policy and Mr. Obama’s, other Iran experts and former officials in Republican and Democratic administrations say they do not see how the Iran policies being espoused on the Republican presidential campaign trail would do much more to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon. In the case of Mr. Romney, they said, his Iran policy is essentially Mr. Obama’s Iran policy.

“They seem to talk more in the realm of their imagination, and what they think will pass as good policy in an election campaign, as opposed to taking into account the realities on the ground,” said Abbas Milani, an Iran expert at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University who has advised the administrations of both Mr. Obama and President George W. Bush on Iran.

R. Nicholas Burns, the State Department’s top Iran negotiator under President Bush, said: “The attacks on Obama basically say, ‘He’s weak and we’re strong.’ But when you look at the specifics, you don’t see any difference.”

For instance, Mr. Romney’s Iran issues statement, available on his Web site, argues that to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, he would “repair relations with Israel, increase military coordination and assistance, and enhance intelligence sharing to ensure that our allied capabilities are robust and ready to deal with Iran.” In addition, Mr. Romney calls for restoring the “regular presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region simultaneously.”

But in recent years, the United States has always had one or two aircraft carrier strike groups deployed in the Persian Gulf region at a time, although there has generally not been one in the Mediterranean since 2003. However, American carriers do routinely transit the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal on passages to and from the United States and the Persian Gulf. There are also a number of American destroyers and cruisers regularly deployed to the Mediterranean.

As for assistance to Israel, while Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel have had a rocky personal relationship, the United States remains Israel’s most dependable ally. Last year, Mr. Obama drew global criticism when he opposed a Palestinian bid for statehood through the Security Council, and his administration boycotted a racism conference in Durban in 2009 on the grounds that it allowed anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denial views. Mr. Obama has also increased military aid to Israel and promoted sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program, with Europe agreeing to impose an oil embargo on Iran, a step unthinkable four years ago.

Mr. Romney’s backers insisted Monday that the two men were far apart on Iran.

“President Obama for three years refused to build on previous administrations’ work to penalize Iran for its enrichment programs with the hopes that the regime would come around to his reset policies and softer world view,” said Richard Grenell, who was the spokesman for the American mission to the United Nations under Mr. Bush. Mr. Obama, he said, “is now scrambling to talk tough just in time for the U.S. elections.”

Eric S. Edelman, a Pentagon under secretary in the Bush administration and a senior adviser to Mr. Romney, said a key difference between the president and Mr. Romney was that Mr. Obama had spent too much time minimizing the military option.

Although Mr. Obama has repeatedly said that using military force remains on the table, “he didn’t say, ‘I’m ready to use force to stop Iran from getting a bomb,’ ” Mr. Edelman said. “He has made the credibility of the U.S. military option very low. If you talk to the Saudis and the Emiratis, they don’t think the president is really ready to pull the trigger.”

Elisabeth Bumiller contributed reporting.

Running for President

Spending millions to get a job that pays a lousy $400,000 a year???

Spending hundreds of millions of dollars to get a job that pays a lousy $400,000 a year???


Obama Mines for Voters With High-Tech Tools


Published: March 8, 2012

CHICAGO — With a “chief scientist” specializing in consumer behavior, an “analytics department” monitoring voter trends, and a squad of dozens huddled at computer screens editing video or writing code, the sprawling office complex inside One Prudential Plaza looks like a corporate research and development lab — Ping-Pong table and all.

There may always be a role for campaign buttons, but inside the Prudential Plaza building, the Obama re-election team is taking a much more high-tech approach.

But it is home to the largely secret engine of President Obama’s re-election campaign, where scores of political strategists, data analysts, corporate marketers and Web producers are sifting through information gleaned from Facebook, voter logs and hundreds of thousands of telephone or in-person conversations to reassemble and re-energize the scattered coalition of supporters who swept Mr. Obama into the White House four years ago.

Mr. Obama has already begun reprising his election-style appearances of 2008, attacking Republicans and defending his record as he did in a White House press briefing on Tuesday. And his team is ready to begin a major election-year advertising blitz at a moment’s notice once the Republican nominating contest appears to be drawing to a close.

But a huge part of the effort here is dedicated to less flashy yet potentially vital behind-the-scenes work to address some of Mr. Obama’s more hidden political challenges.

Many of the small donors who gave early and often in 2008 have failed to rematerialize, (though officials say that with new donors and increasing enthusiasm they have no doubt that they will at least raise the $750 million they did then). Some of the volunteers who went to work enlisting friends and neighbors have been turned off by unmet expectations and the hard realities of partisan Washington, though the Republican attacks on Mr. Obama this year have helped bring some back into the fray.

And, campaign officials say, they have literally lost track of many reliable Democratic voters, particularly lower-income people who have lost their homes or their jobs or both, and can no longer be reached at the addresses or phone numbers the campaign has on file.

So Mr. Obama’s re-election team is sifting through reams of data available through the Internet or fed to it by its hundreds of staff members on the ground in all 50 states, identifying past or potential supporters and donors and testing e-mail and Web-based messages that can entice them back into the fold.

Campaign officials said the Republican fight for the nomination had bought them critical time to develop their campaign machinery. They have been carefully tracking the comments of Mitt Romney and his rivals, holding a news conference Wednesday, for instance, where they sought to portray Mr. Romney’s performance in the Super Tuesday nominating contests in the most negative light possible.

But for now, “that is a side show,” Jim Messina, the campaign manager, said in an interview.

The president’s re-election base here looks more like a company than a campaign. For the last year, an office that appears nearly as long and as wide as a football field has steadily grown, with more than 300 workers now sitting bunched together. The campaign declines to say how many additional employees are posted in offices across the county, but a payroll of $3 million in January suggests the staff is larger than any ever assembled for a presidential race.

Having spent $48 million already, the campaign invested heavily in its effort to find and reconnect with past donors and volunteers, as well as identify potential supporters, and to entice them all to engage, through small donations, say, or by volunteering for one of the thousands of neighborhood “teams” the campaign is seeking to build across the nation.

For instance, with the help of Web developers recruited from the private sector, it has dedicated considerable hours creating technology that can make its Web site,, fit perfectly onto any screen, be it an iPhone, Blackberry or Droid — a seemingly small detail that campaign officials say can make a huge difference when it comes to enticing donors or volunteers to stay connected or click a “donate” button.

It has tested various messages sent to different profiles of Internet users to see which get the best responses in terms of commitments of money or time — a single color change, advisers say, can keep an online user on site for longer. That effort has been helped along by the chief scientist, Rayid Ghani, who joined the campaign last year from Accenture Technology Labs in Chicago.

Political strategists, data analysts and others spend a lot of time sifting through information from places like Facebook and voter logs as they try to reassemble the old winning team.

A review of Mr. Ghani’s academic papers during his time at Accenture shows that he specializes in gleaning consumers’ personal interests from available data online, and then developing messages to entice them to buy certain products based on predictive models of human behavior.

“Given the large amounts of data being captured by retailers and the emergence of personal devices that consumers will have access to while shopping in retail stores, the challenge is to create applications and techniques that can learn patterns of behaviors for individual customers and then enable interactions that are highly personalized,” read a paper he helped write, “Data Mining for Individual Consumer Models and Personalized Retail Promotions.”

Obama campaign officials declined to describe Mr. Ghani’s work in detail. But, in interviews, they said they were intensely studying ways to reach their supporters and to figure out what sorts of messages are most likely to get the best responses.

Officials said they were not indiscriminately scooping up personal data on potential supporters. All of the people they are seeking to contact or tailor messages to, they said, had either provided their e-mail addresses to the campaign or connected with it via its Web site or social network sites like Facebook.

With 13 million e-mail subscribers as of 2009, more than 12 million Twitter subscribers and some 25 million followers of its Facebook page (compared with, for instance, 1.5 million following Mr. Romney), the campaign has instantaneous access to a huge universe of people, a considerable percentage of the more than 69 million people who voted Obama in 2008, though the campaign refuses to divulge specific numbers.

On top of that, its staff and volunteers around the country are regularly feeding back information from personal contacts they make by phone, e-mail and in person as they seek to understand the voting preferences of people in virtually every neighborhood in the top electoral battlegrounds.

The Obama campaign does not claim to be reinventing the wheel; as in 2008, it is in many ways emulating the 2004 Bush campaign, which had a similar focus on building a volunteer army and highly focused and individualized messages for potential volunteers, donors and voters using personal data. And the Republican Party and its 2012 nominee are certain to employ the same techniques to the degree they have the time and money to catch up.

But the Obama team does claim to be building perhaps the biggest such wheel ever made, with a scale officials called “unprecedented.”

Veterans of President George W. Bush’s re-election effort said they did not doubt it, saying there was no comparing the amount of online data and communication available now compared with just eight years ago.

“What is new is the power of the Web, the sophistication of what you can do to target people on the Internet, which is 100 percent new and continues to evolve,” said Sara Taylor Fagen, a senior strategist in the 2004 Bush campaign who is now a specialist in online advertising and analytics.

Both supporters and critics of the Obama campaign’s approach say it may in the end change the outcome by only a few percentage points. But that, campaign officials said, is enough.

“We’re under no illusions that this is going to be anything but a close race,” Mr. Messina, the campaign manager, said. “We are preparing for a very close race, as we always have been.”

Obama's going to save you $8,000 a year in gas costs????

How can Emperor Obama save you $8,000 a year on gas costs, when the average family only spends $3,000 or less a year on gas. The only other surprise is the Washington Post gave this big lie one Pinocchio instead of the maximum 4 Pinocchios.


Obama’s $8,000 in gas savings a year — oops, over a car’s life

Posted by Glenn Kessler at 06:02 AM ET, 03/09/2012

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “Now, because of these new standards for cars and trucks, they’re going to — all going to be able to go further and use less fuel every year. And that means pretty soon you’ll be able to fill up your car every two weeks instead of every week — and, over time, that saves you, a typical family, about $8,000 a year.”

AUDIENCE MEMBER: “We like that.”

OBAMA: “You like that, don't you?”


OBAMA: “Eight thousand dollars — that's no joke. … It looks like somebody might have fainted up here.”

— Exchange during President Obama’s speech in Mount Holly, N.C., March 7, 2012

It is certainly possible to get carried away at a rally with adoring supporters. And every politician misspeaks from time to time. But these remarks stand out because the president engaged in conversation with the audience about his figure – savings of $8,000 a year in gasoline costs – and declared “that’s no joke.”

Oops. No wonder folks were fainting. The average annual cost for gasoline is less than $3,000, according to the Consumer Federation of America.

Let’s take a closer look at this figure.

The Facts

To be fair to the president, he has gotten this $8,000 figure correct on a number of occasions — at least four times in the past two weeks.

As he put it in a weekly radio address this month:

“Thanks to new fuel efficiency standards we put in place, they’re building cars that will average nearly 55 miles per gallon by the middle of the next decade. That’s almost double what they get today. That means folks will be able to fill up every two weeks instead of every week, saving the typical family more than $8,000 at the pump over time.”

“Over time” means the life of a “typical car.” In other words, the savings is not over a year — an impossibility unless gasoline prices really soar — but over many, many years.

In fact, according to a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration calculation (page 624), the typical maximum age for a passenger car is calculated as 26 years, or nearly 162,000 miles. NHTSA does not add much fuel savings for any driving of a car past age 20 but, still, you will need to drive a long time to get every drop of fuel savings.

As we said, everyone misspeaks and we do not like to play gotcha. But people should admit mistakes. After waiting a day, we are disappointed to note that the White House has not tried to correct the transcript with some sort of explanatory note. At least one news organization reported “$8,000 a year” as fact. And Politico also highlighted the presidential error.

When Obama does say this talking point correctly, note the careful wording — “$8,000 at the pump over time.” He’s talking about the savings on gasoline, the happy part of the story. But he has left out part of the total picture — the costs of compliance with the new rules.

The standards are coming in two phases. The first, which affects cars in model years 2012-2016, will increase the average cost of model 2016 car about $950, while saving $4,000 in fuel, according to government estimates. So the net savings is about $3,000. The second set of standards, which affects cars in model years 2017-2025, will add $2,200 to the cost of a model 2025 car, while reducing fuel costs by $6,600, for a net lifetime savings of $4,400. (Gasoline is presumed to cost about $3.42 before taxes.)

For complicated reasons, the predicted fuel savings from the two rules appears to amount to a maximum of $8,000, while the cost of the rules amounts to about $3,000, for a total savings of $5,000 over the life of the car. The proposed rule for the 2017-2025 standard suggests it will take about four years for the car owner to recoup the higher vehicle cost through gasoline savings.

For perspective, one study calculates (page 24) that more than $4,700 of the cost of a 2009 car already stems from added safety and emission equipment. So these rules would add about $3,000 on top of that.

The administration makes these trade-offs clear in the proposed rule and in its news releases, but as far as we can tell, Obama himself has never spelled it out directly.

The Pinocchio Test

Increasing fuel economy as a way to reduce greenhouse emissions and reliance on oil imports is a laudable goal, but the president should do a better job of making clear the costs and benefits of his approach.

Meanwhile, the White House should also make a habit of correcting presidential mistakes in the official transcripts, which after all are part of the historical record.

These are both one-Pinocchio errors.

One Pinocchio

You can bribe Obama with as little as $50,000


The Influence Industry: Obama gives administration jobs to some big fundraisers

By T.W. Farnam, Published: March 7

Big donors considering whether to work the phones raising money for President Obama’s reelection campaign might consider the fate of his 2008 bundlers. Many of them, it turns out, won plum jobs in his administration.

Obama campaigned on what he called “the most sweeping ethics reform in history” and has frequently criticized the role of money in politics. That hasn’t stopped him from offering government jobs to some of his biggest bundlers, volunteer fundraisers who gather political contributions from other rich donors.

More than half of Obama’s 47 biggest fundraisers, those who collected at least $500,000 for his campaign, have been given administration jobs. Nine more have been appointed to presidential boards and committees.

At least 24 Obama bundlers were given posts as foreign ambassadors, including in Finland, Australia, Portugal and Luxembourg. Among them is Don Beyer, a former Virginia lieutenant governor who serves as ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

“In filling these posts, the administration looks for the most qualified candidates who represent Americans from all walks of life,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz. “Being a donor does not get you a job in this administration, nor does it preclude you from getting one.”

It is a time-honored tradition to reward political supporters with administration jobs, ambassadorships in particular. And Obama’s administration falls in line with the previous one in terms of the share of ambassadors who are political appointees rather than career Foreign Service officers.

The Foreign Service Act of 1980, however, states that “contributions to political campaigns should not be a factor in the appointment of an individual as a chief of mission.”

Obama has appointed 59 ambassadors who were not career Foreign Service officers, and of those, 40 percent were bundlers.

“We think that the pendulum has swung a bit too far toward the patronage side of things,” said Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association, which represents career officers.

Not all political appointees have been bad ambassadors, Johnson said, but some have been less qualified, making them “costly in terms of advancing and protecting our interests and costly for the taxpayers.”

Obama has appointed campaign bundlers to a range of other jobs as well. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was a bundler, raising at least $50,000, as was Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who raised at least half a million dollars.

Obama hired bundler Steve Spinner as a liaison in the Energy Department. According to internal e-mails turned over in a congressional investigation, Spinner pressed for staff members to finalize a government loan for Solyndra, the now-shuttered solar company in which another campaign bundler was a major investor. Spinner, according to the Obama administration, did not make any decisions affecting Solyndra.

At least two of Obama’s bundler-ambassadors have had rocky tenures, according to reports from the State Department inspector general.

Nicole Avant, a music industry executive who raised at least $500,000, served as ambassador to the Bahamas until November.

The inspector general wrote that her tenure was part of “an extended period of dysfunctional leadership and mismanagement, which has caused problems throughout the embassy.” The report said Avant spent roughly 40 percent of her time out of the country over a two-year period.

In an interview, Avant said that she inherited an embassy with management problems and that her travel was not out of line.

“Part of my job as a U.S. ambassador was to travel,” she said.

Avant is now helping the Obama campaign raise money from donors in Hollywood.

Luxembourg Ambassador Cynthia Stroum, a Seattle venture capitalist who raised $500,000 for Obama, was also criticized in an inspector general’s report, which said she sent her staff on a house-hunting mission, billed the government for bedding after being told she couldn’t and was “keenly interested” in the materials used for remodeling two bathrooms in her residence.

“Most employees describe the ambassador as aggressive, bullying, hostile, and intimidating,” inspectors wrote of Stroum.

Stroum did not return messages seeking comment.

She was replaced by another bundler, Robert Mandell, a Florida real estate developer who raised between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama’s campaign.

Statistics kept by the American Foreign Service Association show that certain posts are favored for political appointees. In recent decades, many European capitals, for example, have been staffed by political appointees more than 70 percent of the time. A representative of the association called those the “well-known sumptuous posts.”

Staff writer Carol Leonnig contributed to this report.

Presidential campaign inevitably boosts war with Iran

If you happen to be antiwar, your only option is Ron Paul. Paul wants to stay out of other people’s business and cut the military.


Presidential campaign inevitably boosts war with Iran

By David Horsey

March 9, 2012, 5:00 a.m.

Who’s ready to go to war with Iran?

Oh, I forgot. Since we now have an army of professionals, none of the rest of us is actually required to go to war. And, since we now allow commanders-in-chief to unilaterally send that army into battle whenever they please, members of Congress don’t have to bother voting for a declaration of war.

War has become a matter of presidential choice. That’s why we should take seriously what the candidates for president have to say about attacking Iran. They can promise to cut the deficit or bring down gas prices or scuttle Obamacare, but, if they promise war, it’s the one promise we know they can keep.

If you happen to be antiwar, your only option is Ron Paul. He has made it clear he does not really care if Iran builds nuclear weapons. Paul wants to stay out of other people’s business and cut the military. In stark contrast, the other Republican candidates are trying to outdo one another in their bellicosity.

I suspect, as on most issues in this primary season, Mitt Romney does not actually mean what he is saying and is not quite as eager to rush to battle as his rivals, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. If Romney were president, in fact, his policy would probably be similar to that of the man he criticizes as too soft on Iran, President Obama.

Obama has pushed tough sanctions on Iran. His hard-edged diplomacy has gotten Europeans to line up with him to demand that Iran refrain from building nukes. The president, showing his grimmest face, insists he is not bluffing when he says that military action is a real and ready option if Iran does not comply with the demands of the international community (at least the international community that does not include Russia and China, which, for obvious self-interested reasons, do not approve of military intervention in countries where the governments are corrupt and authoritarian).

Obama’s rhetoric may be more nuanced than the campaign speeches of Santorum and Gingrich – that is why the Republicans attack him for "apologizing" to America’s adversaries -- but the president’s foreign policy is very much in line with the philosophy that has guided U.S. actions in the world since 1945: engagement everywhere on the globe where there is a perceived national interest, backed by military power that is second-to-none and quick to be employed.

To the rest of the world, it may seem absurd for Republicans to throw charges of weakness at a president who has doubled down on the war in Afghanistan, carried out relentless drone attacks against terrorist targets in Pakistan and sent Navy SEALs to kill Osama bin Laden and fight Somali pirates. But this merely illustrates how Americans measure a president by the way he wields the big stick of military power. And, no matter what Teddy Roosevelt counseled, political reality dictates that it is better to speak loudly when you carry a big stick. Speaking softly is for wimps.

The truth is, Americans are not a peace-loving people. We pretend otherwise because it seems wrong to admit that the United States is a nation that has mostly benefited from war. We were not like the contented Canadians, who patiently waited for the Mother Country to bestow self-government. We went to war and tossed the British out. Through one war with Mexico and relentless wars with Indian tribes, we became a country that spanned a continent. The Spanish-American War and the First World War marked our arrival on the world stage. And the Second World War left us as one of the two preeminent powers on the planet.

Wars in Korea and Vietnam were not popular, but, by the time of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Americans had become used to fighting wars with ambiguous results. War is now simply what we do. It is part of our national identity; facing any foe, bearing any burden in the twilight struggle to defend freedom.

Put in less idealistic terms, our country is a national security state built on the vast military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about. Our government and our economy are permanently geared up for war, and very few Americans can remember a time when this was not so. It’s hard to imagine any president resisting the temptation to use this awesome force and even harder to imagine that a majority of Americans would ever elect a man who would.

Watch out, Iran, here we come.

Who says politics ain't about money???


Top Obama fundraisers among state dinner guests

Associated Press


WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House extended state dinner invitations to more than 30 of President Barack Obama's top fundraisers, including a handful of donors to an independent political group backing his re-election effort, an Associated Press review has found.

Such coveted seats for Wednesday's event honoring British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife went to about two dozen supporters who each raised $200,000 or more for Obama's campaign. Those included film producer Harvey Weinstein, New York financier Orin Kramer and Miami public-policy consultant Joseph Falk.

Indeed, it is not uncommon for presidents to reward major supporters with access to dignitary dinners: President George W. Bush invited dozens of his "pioneer" supporters to state dinners, and President Bill Clinton did the same. But Obama previously has criticized Washington's pay-for-access privileges, and even donors themselves complained early in his presidency that they were kept at arm's length.

The AP's review also found some of those same donors, including Kramer and Falk, have written big checks to Priorities USA Action, a "super" political action committee run by former White House aides. Both donors contributed more than $10,000 to the group, which has struggled to raise the kind of big cash that Republican-leaning super PACs have banked on.

The nearly three dozen top donors who mingled with the dinner's 360 total guests are also known as "bundlers" — the high-profile fundraisers who collect campaign checks from friends and business associates. Since federal campaign rules cap individual contribution limits — $2,500 each for the primary and general elections — bundlers have become significant figures for Obama's campaign.

All told, bundlers at Wednesday's event raised more than $8 million for his re-election efforts, records show.

"I'm so thrilled he's running for re-election," said Weinstein, who raised more than $500,000 this campaign. "He's done a fantastic job, and he's the most underestimated president I've seen. He's too humble, and his accomplishments far outweigh his esteem, but people will learn that in time."

Obama and the Democratic Party have cashed more than $250 million in contributions as of late January, surpassing all of his potential Republican challengers, including frontrunner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. But Democratic strategists have warned that the president faces the potential of being out-raised by major sources of cash supporting the eventual GOP nominee come this summer.

In turn, Obama encouraged his supporters last month to donate to Priorities USA Action, a decision that drew criticism from campaign-finance watchdogs and Republicans who said Obama flip-flopped on his earlier stance assailing super PAC money. For their part, Democratic aides said they were playing by the same rules as everyone else, but also conceded they would not be left at a disadvantage in November.

An Obama campaign spokesman declined to comment for this story.

While Obama's campaign has released its list of bundlers, Romney has yet to disclose the identities of his major fundraisers.


Follow Jack Gillum at

Obama will say anything to get your vote!!!!

No ‘Afghanistan’ in new Obama campaign video

They will say anything to get your vote!!!! This article picks on Emperor Obama, but President Obama is just as guilty of lying to the American public as the other politicians are.


No ‘Afghanistan’ in new Obama campaign video

By Olivier Knox | The Ticket

President Barack Obama's re-election campaign late Thursday released a Hollywood-caliber campaign film, 16 minutes and 56 seconds of Tom Hanks-narrated footage that trumpets Obama's achievements since taking office three years ago, highlights the challenges still ahead—and never once mentions America's longest war, the conflict in Afghanistan, by name.

The movie, directed by Oscar-winner Davis Guggenheim, defends Obama's handling of the economic collapse of 2007-2008, highlights the auto industry bailout, puts the May 2011 raid in Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden at the center of his argument for another four years in the White House, lays out the immediate benefits of his landmark health care overhaul, and notes he fulfilled his promise to withdraw from Iraq.

But Obama's controversial decision to "surge" troops into Afghanistan, and his plan to withdraw American forces by the end of 2014, never appear in the film, which was released in full just days after an American soldier allegedly slaughtered 16 Afghan civilians and plunged already frayed relations into a new crisis.

The only Republican critic cited by name is Mitt Romney, whose November 2008 op-ed entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" appears at 5 minutes and 13 seconds into the film.

Former president Bill Clinton—who appears several times—defends the bailout, while former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel sticks the shiv a little further into Romney, describing his approach as a callous "let it (the auto industry) go … can't be saved …"

Republicans quickly assailed the film, with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus saying: "We don't need a Hollywood movie to know what the president accomplished over the past three years."

"Unfortunately Americans live Obama's accomplishments every day from higher gas prices, food prices, health care costs, unemployment and record debt. Hollywood may not be able to find anything wrong with Obama's first term but Americans literally can't afford to find out what another four years looks like under Obama," Priebus said.

Obama himself does not speak directly to the camera until 8 minutes and 49 seconds into the film, and does so to defend in poignant, personal terms the Affordable Care Act that Republicans scornfully dubbed "Obamacare."

"When my mom got cancer, she wasn't a wealthy woman, and it pretty much drained all her resources," the president says.

He later gives voice to uniquely presidential worries about the May 2011 raid to kill Osama bin Laden at his fortified compound in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad.

"A lot of people have asked, 'How did you feel when you first heard that it was bin Laden and he had been killed?' And the truth is I didn't have time for a lot of feelings at that point, because our guys were still in that compound, and it wasn't until I knew that they were across the border, they were safe, everybody was accounted for—including the dog—that I allowed some satisfaction," he says.

Vice President Joe Biden casts the go-ahead decision as far from the obvious choice. He relates the tense atmosphere in the White House's Situation Room as Obama asks his top advisers what he should do.

"And they say 'well, 49 percent chance he's there, 51. It's a close call, Mister President,'" says Biden. "If he was wrong, his presidency was done. Over."

"It was the ultimate test of leadership," says Hanks, who calls the raid "a victory for our nation."

The video also highlights Obama's kept promise to pull U.S. forces out of Iraq, showing him meeting with General David Petraeus in the Oval Office, before cutting to soldiers on patrol, and then the president telling returning troops, "Welcome home."

With the fragile U.S. economy—and stubbornly high unemployment still over 8 percent—weighing heavily on Obama's re-election efforts, the film casts the situation he inherited as a "horror movie" scenario that shocked the new president and his top aides at a meeting shortly after the 2008 election.

"All I was thinking at that moment was 'could we get a recount?'" quips senior campaign strategist David Axelrod.

The film revives the famous "bikini graph" that the president's supporters use to illustrate the turnaround in job creation since Obama took office.

At 13 minutes in, the film turns into something of a laundry list: It describes the benefits of Obama's health care law in some detail; highlights his commitment to improved fuel efficiency and renewable energy; cites achievements in education standards, student loan reform, and the Dodd-Frank rewrite of Wall Street rules; and trumpets his recess appointment of Richard Cordray—over stiff Republican objections—to head the consumer protection bureau created by the health care law.

It shows Obama meeting with the Dalai Lama, celebrating the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act aimed at erasing some gender-based disparities in pay. It lingers over the swearing-in ceremonies for Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

And it notes that the U.S. auto industry has recovered.

The final words are from Hanks, who urges voters to "look forward to the work still to be done."

Obama administration says San Diego cross should stay


Obama, f*ck the 1st Amendment, I need the vote of the religious right!!

Obama administration says San Diego cross should stay

By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau

March 17, 2012

Reporting from Washington -- The Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to allow a 43-foot-tall cross that serves as a war memorial to remain atop Mt. Soledad in San Diego, arguing that the cross has been there since 1954 and is not an endorsement of religion.

The government should not be required "to tear down a cross that has stood without incident for 58 years as a highly venerated memorial to the nation's fallen service members," Solicitor Gen. Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said in a new appeal to the high court.

He urged the justices to reverse a decision last year by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that said the cross was primarily a Christian symbol and therefore unconstitutional. Its prominent display on public land in La Jolla amounted to an official "endorsement of religion" in violation of the 1st Amendment, the panel of judges said in a 3-0 ruling.

If the Supreme Court takes up the case this year — which is likely — the justices could be forced to finally resolve whether religious symbols, such as crosses or depictions of the Ten Commandments, can be prominently displayed on public land.

Two years ago, the high court rejected a challenge to the display of a small cross in the Mojave National Preserve, but the five justices in the majority disagreed on the reasons. The 9th Circuit's latest opinion mostly ignored that ruling.

Since 1989, lawsuits from several veterans have challenged the Mt. Soledad cross, arguing that a single religious symbol did not speak for all veterans. But the San Diego city government and, more recently, Congress have intervened to preserve the cross.

Critics say the cross is unquestionably a religious symbol, not a universal symbol that honors all fallen soldiers. The 9th Circuit judges said the cross "has never been used to honor all American soldiers in any military cemetery." For example, Jewish soldiers often have a Star of David on their headstones in military cemeteries.

The 9th Circuit judges also noted that until the 1980s, the Mt. Soledad cross was a gathering place for Christians and a scene for Easter services. Its role as a war memorial came only after the litigation began, the judges said.

Defenders of the cross say it serves as a symbol of sacrifice and a memorial to honor the nation's fallen soldiers dating back to World War I. In 2006, Congress moved to take possession of Mt. Soledad and its cross to preserve the memorial.

If the Supreme Court were to deny the appeal, Verrilli said the cross would have to be taken down. Such an act "unnecessarily fosters the very divisiveness" over religion that the Constitution was designed to avoid, he said.

The justices are likely to decide this spring whether to hear the case, known as U.S. vs. Trunk.

Obama’s whopper about Rutherford B. Hayes and the telephone


Obama’s whopper about Rutherford B. Hayes and the telephone

Posted by Glenn Kessler at 06:02 AM ET, 03/16/2012

“Of course, we’ve heard this kind of thinking before. If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail, they must have been founding members of the Flat Earth Society. … There always have been folks who are the naysayers and don't believe in the future, and don't believe in trying to do things differently. One of my predecessors, Rutherford B. Hayes, reportedly said about the telephone, ‘It’s a great invention, but who would ever want to use one?’ That's why he's not on Mt. Rushmore because he’s looking backwards. He’s not looking forwards. He’s explaining why we can't do something, instead of why we can do something.”

--President Obama, remarks on energy, Largo, Maryland, March 15, 2012

In a speech on energy Thursday, the president took aim at the “cynics and naysayers” who dismiss potential new sources of energy, such as wind and solar. Leave aside the canard about most Europeans believing the earth was flat before Columbus—that’s an elementary-school tale with little basis in fact.

What about President Hayes? Was he really so dismissive about the invention of the telephone?

The Facts

Hayes, the nation’s 19th president, served only one term, 1877-1981, after a very close and disputed election that needed to be settled by a electoral commission. (He went to bed thinking he had lost to Democrat Samuel Tilden.) He was a master politician who banned liquor from the White House for political purposes (and to curb boorish behavior by members of Congress).

The quote cited by Obama does exist on the Internet, but we would expect the White House staff to do better research than that. (This line was in the president’s prepared text, so it was not ad-libbed.) But the trouble is, historians say that there is no evidence Hayes ever said this. Not only that, contrary to Obama’s jab, Hayes was interested in new technology.

According to Ari Hoogenboom, who wrote the definite biography, “Rutherford B. Hayes: Warrior and President,” Hayes entertained Thomas A. Edison at the White House. Edison demonstrated the phonograph for the president. “He was hardly hostile to new inventions,” Higgenboom said.

Hayes, in fact, was such a technology buff that he installed the first telephone in the White House. A list of telephone subscribers published in the article “The Telephones Comes to Washington,” by Richard T. Loomis, shows that the White House was given the number “1.”

The White House phone initially was connected to the Treasury Department. Hoogenboom, in his book, writes that Hayes’ wife Lucy requested that a Quartet sing on October 26, 1877 to inaugurate the service, but the concert abruptedly ended because the powerful bass voice of one singer smashed “to atoms” the “sounding board of the telephone.”

Nan Card, curator of manuscripts at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, in Fremont, Ohio, can pinpoint when Hayes first tried out the phone: June of 1877. Hayes, it turns out, kept 126 scrapbooks of newspaper articles that featured him, and on page 82 of the 111th scrapbook there was the following account from the June 29 edition of the Providence Journal.

The version of events certainly is different than Obama’s telling. We reprint the whole report below because it gives a real flavor of the moment.

The President at the Telephone

About 3 o’clock the President enjoyed a new sensation. Under the direction of Mr. Fred A. Gower, managing agent of Prof. [Alexander Graham] Bell, a telephone wire was connected with the Western Union Telegraph wire, tendered for the purpose of manager Bradford, and telephone communication established with Prof. Bell at the City Hotel in this city.

The President was then invited to place one of the telephones, which by the way resembled a rather large-sized bobbin, against one ear, which he did, when Mr. Gower spoke in the other in a moderate tone of voice, saying, “Prof. Bell, I have the honor to present to you the President of the United States, who is listening at the other telephone; do you understand?”

The President listened carefully while a gradually increasing smile wreathed his lips, and wonder shone in his eyes more and more, until he took the little instrument from his ear, looked at it a moment in surprise, and remarked, “That is wonderful.”

During this time Prof. Bell said, according to Mr. Gower, who was listening at the telephone: “Mr. President, I am duly sensible of the great honor conferred upon me in this for the first time presenting the speaking telephone to the attention of the President of the United States. I am located in one of the parlors of the City Hotel, in Providence. I am speaking to you through thirteen miles of wire, without the use of any galvanic current on the line. I hope that you understand distinctly what I say, and I shall be very glad to hear something from you in reply, if you please.”

At the suggestion to him from Mr. Gower, that he should speak to Prof. Bell, the President said, “Please speak a little more slowly.” A few more messages passed, when the President again remarked, “That is wonderful,” saying he could understand some words very well, but could not catch sentences.

[Pennsylvania] Gov. [John] Hartranft also tried the wonderful little instrument, with much the same experience as the President, saying in answer to a query from Prof. Bell, “I understand you very well.”

Note that Hayes first tried the “wonderful” telephone at the end of June, and then had it installed in the White House just four months later. So, rather than “not looking forwards,” as Obama put it, Hayes quickly embraced the new technology.

In fact, he was a little too ahead of his time, because there were so few telephones installed elsewhere in the county. (The telephone list mentioned above shows only 190 subscribers in Washington two years after the telephone first came to Washington.) According to Hoogenboom, most communications from the White House continued to be done by telegraph during the rest of Hayes’ presidency.

Hoogenboom, who is an Obama supporter, added that contrary to many Republicans today, Hayes was an advocate of federal action, particularly spending on education. He even wanted to use the federal budget surplus to direct more money to poor districts.

Besides historians, Obama’s staff also could have checked with the White House Historical Association, which recounts Hayes’ interest in the telephone in a classroom lesson for children in grades 4-8.

Card said that the Hayes presidential library has never been able to find evidence of the alleged Hayes quote. “It seems to be out there, as people say it all the time,” she sighed. (Run a Nexis search and you’ll see many examples.)

White House spokesman Jay Carney pointed to those “multiple media references,” as well as an Encyclopaedia Britannica reference and even a previous comment by President Ronald Reagan as evidence that Obama was not out of line in citing this tall tale about Hayes.

“I’m not arguing that this is not in dispute but the quote is widely cited,” Carney said. He added that Obama was using the anecedote in service of a broader point.

Reagan did once made a similar observation, according to Feb. 23, 1985 report by UPI reporter Helen Thomas. In this case, Reagan poked fun at his age, clearly making a joke:

Reagan recalled that President Rutherford B. Hayes once was “shown a recently invented device.”

“That's an amazing invention,” he said. “But who would ever want to use one of them?” He was talking about a telephone. I thought at the time that he might be mistaken.”

Of course, Reagan--“80 percent of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation”-- was widely mocked for getting his facts wrong. So we are not sure he is the best source for presidential history.

We contacted Encyclopaedia Britannica senior technology editor Rob Curley about its use of the Hayes reference, in a book titled “100 Most Influential Investors of All Time,” and he said he would recheck its sources.

The Pinocchio Test

It’s bad enough for one president to knock another one for not being on Mt. Rushmore, but it’s particularly egregious to do so based on incorrect information.

We went back and forth over whether this error was worth three or four Pinocchios. We nearly decided on three Pinocchios because Obama used the phrase “reportedly” and because others have said this before him. The Encyclopeadia Brittanica reference especially gave us pause. That’s a legitimate, but not infallible, source. But then we remembered it took only a phone call to a real historian to find out the truth.

Our final ruling was swayed in the end by this: The president in particular has a responsiblity to get historical facts correct, and in this case he got them completely backwards. Obama mocked Hayes for “looking backwards...not looking forwards.” In reality, Hayes embraced the new technology. He should be an Obama hero, not a skunk.

Hayes is dead and buried, but he deserves an apology.

Four Pinocchios

U.S. has expanded no-fly list

I guess Emperor Obama lied when he was running for President and promised to reduce the police state.


U.S. has expanded no-fly list

by Eileen Sullivan - Feb. 2, 2012 11:58 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has more than doubled, to about 21,000 names, its secret list of suspected terrorists who are banned from flying to or within the United States, including about 500 Americans, the Associated Press has learned.

The government lowered the bar for being added to the list, even as it says it's closer than ever to defeating al-Qaida.

The size of the government's secret no-fly list has jumped from about 10,000 in the past year, according to government figures provided to the AP.

The surge comes as the government says it's close to defeating al-Qaida, after killing many of its senior members. But senior officials said the threat does not stop there.

"As long as we sustain the pressure on it, we judge that core al-Qaida will be of largely symbolic importance to the global jihadist movement," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress on Thursday. "But regional affiliates and, to a lesser extent, small cells and individuals will drive the global jihad agenda."

Those are the people added to the no-fly list, current and former counterterrorism officials said. Most are from other countries; about 500 are Americans.

"Both U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement communities and foreign services continue to identify people who want to cause us harm, particularly in the U.S. and particularly as it relates to aviation," Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole said in an interview.

Affiliated terror groups in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Algeria and elsewhere, as well as individuals who ascribe to al-Qaida's beliefs -- "All are in the mix," said Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center. "And no one is claiming that they are shrinking."

The flood of new names began after the failed Christmas 2009 bombing of a Detroit-bound jetliner.

The government lowered the standard for putting people on the list and then scoured its filesfor anyone who qualified.

The government will not disclose who is on itslist or why someone might have been placed on it.

Among the most significant new standards is that now a person doesn't have to be considered only a threat to aviation to be placed on the no-fly list.

People who are considered a broader threat to domestic or international security or who attended a terror training camp also are included, said a U.S. counterterrorism official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security matters.

The Christmas attack led to other changes in how the U.S. assembles its watch list.

Intelligence agencies across the government reviewed old files to find people who should have been on the government's terror watch list all along, plus those who should be added because of the new standards put in place to close security gaps.

After the Christmas attack, "We learned a lot about the watch-listing process and made strong improvements, which continue to this day," said Timothy Healy, director of the Terrorist Screening Center, which produces the no-fly list.

As agencies complete the reviews of their files, the pace of growth is expected to slow, the counterterrorism official said.

Terror-related developments

The remains of a top leader of the regional Jemaah Islamiyah terror network have not been found, the Philippine military said today, a day after announcing that he had been killed in a U.S.-backed airstrike. Troops on the ground were still searching the jungle camp that was hit Thursday for the body of Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan. At least 15 people were killed in the dawn strike on a militant camp on Jolo Island, including two other high-level leaders.

The Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people during the Fort Hood shooting rampage will go on trial in June, a military judge ruled after agreeing to a three-month delay. Attorneys for Maj. Nidal Hasan argued during a hearing at the Army post in Texas that they still lacked key evidence needed to prepare for the March trial.

The New York Police Department recommended increasing surveillance of thousands of Shiite Muslims and their mosques, based solely on their religion, as a way to sweep the Northeast for signs of Iranian terrorists, according to interviews and a newly obtained secret police document. The document reveals that NYPD intelligence officers listed a dozen mosques from central Connecticut to the Philadelphia suburbs. None has been linked to terrorism.

-- Wire services

Obama shovels the BS on his energy policies

First of all the U.S. Constitution doesn't give the President, or even Congress the power to set the price of oil or gasoline. But our politicians often pretend that it does and make up lies to either get themselves elected or prevent the competition from getting elected.

In this article Charles Krauthammer points out that Emperor Obama seems to be slinging the BS about his energy policy to get himself reelected in 2012.


Seaweed in your gas tank?

Charles Krauthammer

March 19, 2012

WASHINGTON — Yes, of course, presidents have no direct control over gas prices. But the American people know something about this president and his disdain for oil. The "fuel of the past," he contemptuously calls it. To the American worker who doesn't commute by government motorcade and is getting fleeced every week at the pump, oil seems very much a fuel of the present — and of the foreseeable future.

President Barack Obama incessantly claims energy open-mindedness, insisting that his policy is "all of the above." Except, of course, for drilling

• off the Mid-Atlantic coast (as Virginia, for example, wants),

• off the Florida Gulf Coast (instead, the Castro brothers will drill near there),

• in the broader Gulf of Mexico (where drilling in 2012 is expected to drop 30 percent below pre-moratorium forecasts),

• in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (more than half the size of England, the drilling footprint being the size of Dulles Airport),

• on federal lands in the Rockies (where leases are down 70 percent since Obama took office).

But the event that drove home the extent of Obama's antipathy to nearby, abundant, available oil was his veto of the Keystone pipeline. It gave the game away because the case for Keystone is so obvious and overwhelming. Vetoing it gratuitously prolongs our dependence on outside powers, kills thousands of shovel-ready jobs, forfeits a major strategic resource to China, damages relations with our closest ally, and sends billions of oil dollars to Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin and already obscenely wealthy sheiks.

Obama boasts that on his watch production is up and imports down. True, but truly deceptive. These increases have occurred in spite of his restrictive policies. They are the result of Clinton- and Bush-era permitting. This has been accompanied by a gold rush of natural gas production resulting from new fracking technology that has nothing at all to do with Obama.

"The American people aren't stupid," said Obama (Feb. 23), mocking "Drill, baby, drill." The "only solution," he averred in yet another major energy speech last week, is that "we start using less, that lowers the demand, prices come down." Yet five paragraphs later he claimed that regardless of "how much oil we produce at home … that's not going to set the price of gas worldwide."

So: Decreasing U.S. demand will lower oil prices, but increasing U.S. supply will not? This is ridiculous. Either both do or neither does. Does Obama read his own speeches?

Obama says of drilling: "That's not a plan." Of course it's a plan. We import nearly half of our oil, thereby exporting enormous amounts of U.S. wealth. Almost 60 percent of our trade deficit — $332 billion out of $560 billion — is shipped overseas to buy crude.

Drill here and you stanch the hemorrhage. You keep those dollars within the U.S. economy, repatriating not just wealth but jobs, and denying them to foreign unfriendlies. Drilling is the single most important thing we can do to spur growth at home while strengthening our hand abroad.

Instead, Obama offers what he fancies to be the fuels of the future. You would think that he'd be a tad more modest today about his powers of divination after the Solyndra bankruptcy, the collapse of government-subsidized Ener1 (past makers of the batteries of the future) and GM's suspension of production — for lack of demand — of another federally dictated confection, the flammable Chevy Volt.

Deterred? Hardly. Our undaunted seer of the energy future has come up with his own miracle fuel: algae. Yes, green slime, upon whichSteven Chu'sEnergy Department will be sprinkling yet another $14 million of taxpayer money.

This is the very same Chu who famously said in 2008 that he wanted U.S. gas prices to rise to European levels of $8-$10 a gallon — and who Tuesday, eight months before Election Day, publicly recanted before Congress, Galileo-style.

Whom do they think they're fooling? An oil crisis looms, prices are spiking — and our president is extolling algae. After Solyndra, Keystone and promises of seaweed in their gas tanks, Americans sense a president so ideologically antipathetic to fossil fuels — which we possess in staggering abundance — that he is utterly unserious about the real world of oil in which the rest of us live.

High gasoline prices are a major political problem for Obama. They are not just a pain at the pump, however. They are a constant reminder of three years of a rigid, fatuous, fantasy-driven energy policy that has rendered us scandalously dependent and excessively vulnerable.

Washington Post Writers Group

Charles Krauthammer is a syndicated columnist based in Washington.

Marine sergeant being dismissed for criticizing Obama

No freedom of speech in the American military


Marine sergeant being dismissed for criticizing Obama

March 21, 2012 | 7:12 pm

The Marine Corps is moving to boot out a Marine for having made "political statements" about the commander-in-chief on a Facebook page.

Sgt. Gary Stein, 26, a nine-year veteran, put comments on a Facebook page called the Armed Forces Tea Party page that said he would not follow unlawful orders from President Obama such as ordering the killing of Americans or taking guns away from Americans. He also criticized comments made by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about Syria.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits uniformed personnel from making comments critical of their chain of command, including the commander-in-chief, or engaging in political activity in a context that suggests that are acting as military members.

An investigation into Stein's comments was ordered March 8 by the commanding officer of the weapons and field training battalion at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. On Wednesday, the Marine Corps announced that rather than file charges against Stein, the matter is being handled "through administrative action."

Stein, an Iraq veteran who hoped to reenlist, told the Associated Press that he plans to fight the Marine Corps' intention to dismiss him.

"I'm completely shocked that this is happening," he told the AP. "I've done nothing wrong. I've only stated what our oath states: That I will defend the Constitution and that I will not follow unlawful orders. If that's a crime, what is America coming to?"

Stein, a weather specialist, had come to the attention of his superiors two years ago for using the Internet to criticize Obama's healthcare proposal. At that time, he offered to take down the comments.

His most recent postings came during a Facebook discussion about events in Afghanistan. In one posting, he said he believes that military personnel should be allowed to express their political opinions because they are required to risk their lives to advance political objectives.

Uncle Sam is spying on you


U.S. to keep data on citizens with no terror ties

by Eileen Sullivan - Mar. 22, 2012 08:53 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The U.S. intelligence community will be able to store information about Americans with no ties to terrorism for up to five years under new Obama administration guidelines.

Until now, the National Counterterrorism Center had to destroy immediately information about Americans that already was stored in other government databases when there were no clear ties to terrorism.

Giving the NCTC expanded record-retention authority had been urged by members of Congress, who said the intelligence community did not connect strands of intelligence held by multiple agencies leading up to a failed bombing attempt on a U.S.-bound airliner on Christmas 2009.

"Following the failed terrorist attack in December 2009, representatives of the counterterrorism community concluded it is vital for NCTC to be provided with a variety of datasets from various agencies that contain terrorism information," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a statement late Thursday. "The ability to search against these datasets for up to five years on a continuing basis as these updated guidelines permit will enable NCTC to accomplish its mission more practically and effectively."

The new rules replace guidelines issued in 2008 and have privacy advocates concerned about the potential for data-mining information on innocent Americans.

"It is a vast expansion of the government's surveillance authority," Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said of the five-year retention period.

The government put in strong safeguards at the NCTC for the data that would be collected on U.S. citizens for intelligence purposes, Rotenberg said. These new guidelines undercut the Federal Privacy Act, he said.

"The fact that this data can be retained for five years on U.S. citizens for whom there's no evidence of criminal conduct is very disturbing," Rotenberg said.

"Total Information Awareness appears to be reconstructing itself," he said, referring to the Defense Department's data-mining research program that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks but was stopped in 2003 because of privacy concerns.

The Washington Post first reported the new rules Thursday.

The Obama administration said the new rules come with strong safeguards for privacy and civil liberties, as well.

The NCTC was created after the Sept. 11 attacks to analyze and integrate intelligence regarding terrorism.

Afghans: U.S. paid $50,000 per shooting spree victim

I guess Obama is running for re-election in Afghanistan too - "They were told that the money came from U.S. President Barack Obama"


Afghans: U.S. paid $50,000 per shooting spree victim

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) – The United States has paid $50,000 in compensation for each Afghan killed in the shooting spree attributed to a U.S. soldier in southern Afghanistan, an Afghan official and a community elder said Sunday.

The families of the dead received the money Saturday at the governor's office, said Kandahar provincial council member Agha Lalai. Each wounded person received $11,000 Lalai said. Community elder Jan Agha confirmed the same figures.

They were told that the money came from U.S. President Barack Obama, Lalai said.

A U.S. official confirmed that compensation had been paid but declined to discuss exact amounts, saying only that it reflected the devastating nature of the incident. The official spoke anonymously because of the sensitive nature of the subject.

A spokesman for NATO and U.S. forces declined to confirm or deny the payments, saying that while coalition members often make compensation payments, they are usually kept private.

"As the settlement of claims is in most cases a sensitive topic for those who have suffered loss, it is usually a matter of agreement that the terms of the settlement remain confidential," Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings said.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is accused of sneaking out of his base before dawn on March 11 then creeping into the houses of two nearby villages and opening fire on sleeping families within.

It was not immediately clear how much money had been paid out in all. Afghan officials and villagers have counted 16 dead — 12 in the village of Balandi and four in neighboring Alkozai — and six wounded. The U.S. military has charged Bales with 17 murders without explaining the discrepancy.

The 38-year-old soldier is accused of using his 9mm pistol and M-4 rifle, which was outfitted with a grenade launcher, to kill four men, four women, two boys and seven girls, then burning some of the bodies. The ages of the children were not disclosed in the charge sheet.

The families had previously received smaller compensation payments from Afghan officials.

Also Sunday, officials said that a bomb exploded in the south of the country as a foot patrol of Afghan and NATO forces was passing by the previous day, killing nine Afghans and one international service member.

The group was patrolling through Arghandab district in Kandahar province late Saturday when it was caught in the blast, said Shah Mohammad, the district administrator. Arghandab is a farming region just outside Kandahar city that has long been a bed-down area for Taliban insurgents. It was one of a number of communities around Kandahar city that were targeted in a 2010 sweep to oust the insurgency from the area.

The Afghan dead included one soldier, three police officers, four members of the Afghan "local police" — a government-sponsored militia force — and one translator, Mohammad said.

NATO reported earlier Sunday that one of its service members was killed in a bomb attack in southern Afghanistan on Saturday but did not provide additional details. It was not clear if this referred to the same incident, as NATO usually waits for individual coalition nations to confirm the details of deaths of their troops.

Obama - 'After My Election I Have More Flexibility'

So I guess Obama doesn't want to tell Americans his true feelings, because he is he may get run out of office if he tells the truth???

Hey, politicians have to lie to us to get elected. Why else would we have the joke that says you can always tell a politician is lying when his lips are moving.


President Obama Asks Medvedev for 'Space' on Missile Defense - 'After My Election I Have More Flexibility'

ABC NewsBy Jake Tapper | ABC News – 5 hrs ago

SEOUL, South Korea - At the tail end of his 90 minute meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev Monday, President Obama said that he would have "more flexibility" to deal with controversial issues such as missile defense, but incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to give him "space."

The exchange was picked up by microphones as reporters were let into the room for remarks by the two leaders.

The exchange:

President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it's important for him to give me space.

President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…

President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.

President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.

When asked to explain what President Obama meant, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes told ABC News that there is room for the U.S. and Russia to reach an accommodation, but "there is a lot of rhetoric around this issue - there always is - in both countries.

A senior administration official tells ABC News: "this is a political year in which the Russians just had an election, we're about to have a presidential and congressional elections - this is not the kind of year in which we're going to resolve incredibly complicated issue like this. So there's an advantage to pulling back and letting the technical experts work on this as the president has been saying."

-Jake Tapper

The reckoning on Obamacare


The reckoning on Obamacare

Charles Krauthammer

March 26, 2012

WASHINGTON — Obamacare dominated the 2010 midterms, driving its Democratic authors to a historic electoral shellacking. But since then, the issue has slipped quietly underground.

Now it's back, summoned to the national stage by the confluence of three disparate events: the release of new Congressional Budget Office cost estimates, the approach of Supreme Court hearings on the law's constitutionality and the issuance of a compulsory contraception mandate.

Obamacare was carefully constructed to manipulate the standard 10-year cost projections of the CBO. Because benefits would not fully kick in for four years, President Barack Obama could trumpet 10-year gross costs of less than $1 trillion — $938 billion to be exact.

But now that the near-costless years 2010 and 2011 have elapsed, the true 10-year price tag comes into focus. From 2013 through 2022, the CBO reports, the costs of Obamacare come to $1.76 trillion — almost twice the phony original number.

It gets worse. Annual gross costs after 2021 are more than a quarter of $1 trillion every year — until the end of time. That, for a new entitlement in a country already drowning in $16 trillion of debt.


Beginning Monday, the Supreme Court will hear challenges to the law. The American people, by an astonishing two-thirds majority, want the law and/or the individual mandate tossed out by the court. In practice, however, questions this momentous are generally decided 5 to 4, i.e., they depend on whatever side of the bed Justice Anthony Kennedy gets out of that morning.

Ultimately, the question will hinge on whether the Commerce Clause has any limits. If the federal government can compel a private citizen, under threat of a federally imposed penalty, to engage in a private contract with a private entity (to buy health insurance), is there anything the federal government cannot compel the citizen to do?

If Obamacare is upheld, it fundamentally changes the nature of the American social contract. It means the effective end of a government of enumerated powers — i.e., finite, delineated powers beyond which the government may not go, beyond which lies the free realm of the people and their voluntary institutions. The new post-Obamacare dispensation is a central government of unlimited power from which citizen and civil society struggle to carve out and maintain spheres of autonomy.

Figure becomes ground; ground becomes figure. The stakes could not be higher.


Serendipitously, the recently issued regulation on contraceptive coverage has allowed us to see exactly how this new power works. All institutions — excepting only churches, but not excepting church-run charities, hospitals, etc. — will be required to offer health care that must include free contraception, sterilization and drugs that cause abortion.

Consider the cascade of arbitrary bureaucratic decisions that resulted in this edict:

(1) Contraception, sterilization and abortion pills are classified as medical prevention. On whose authority? The secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, invoking the Institute of Medicine. But surely categorizing pregnancy as a disease equivalent is a value decision, disguised as scientific. If contraception is prevention, what are fertility clinics? Disease inducers? And if contraception is prevention because it lessens morbidity and saves money, by that logic, mass sterilization would be the greatest boon to public health since the pasteurization of milk.

(2) This type of prevention is free — no co-pay. Why? Is contraception morally superior to or more socially vital than — and thus more of a "right" than — penicillin for a child with pneumonia?

(3) "Religious" exemptions to this edict extend only to churches, places where the faithful worship God, and not to church-run hospitals and charities, places where the faithful do God's work. Who promulgated this definition, so subversive of the whole notion of godliness, so stunningly ignorant of the very idea of religious vocation? The almighty HHS secretary.

Today, it's the Catholic Church whose free-exercise powers are under assault from this cascade of diktats sanctioned by — indeed required by — Obamacare. Tomorrow it will be the turn of other institutions of civil society that dare stand between unfettered state and atomized citizen.

Rarely has one law so exemplified the worst of the Leviathan state — grotesque cost, questionable constitutionality and arbitrary bureaucratic coerciveness. Little wonder the president barely mentioned it in his latest State of the Union address. He wants to be re-elected. He'd rather talk about other things.

But there's no escaping it now. Oral arguments begin Monday at 10 a.m.

Washington Post Writers Group

Charles Krauthammer is a syndicated columnist based in Washington.

Is that Obamacare or Romneycare? Or both???

I don't know and I don't care, but the point is these professional politicians will lie and say anything to get your vote.

And oddly it sure seems like Obamacare was based on Romneycare, which many say was invented by Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts.


Review of ‘Obamacare’ puts GOP spotlight on Romney’s Massachusetts health care law

By Philip Rucker and Dan Balz, Published: March 26

SAN DIEGO — Health care was supposed to be Mitt Romney’s Achilles’ heel: The state overhaul he championed as governor of Massachusetts is so similar to the sweeping federal law conservatives deride as “Obamacare” that it was once widely regarded as a big enough liability to doom his presidential chances.

But Romney remains the overwhelming favorite in a topsy-turvy campaign in which health care has rarely been the driving issue, and he is picking up the support of prominent conservatives as he moves toward securing his party’s nomination.

This week, as the Supreme Court reviews the Obama administration’s health-care law, Romney’s remaining opponents for the Republican presidential nomination are trying to capi­tal­ize on what may be one of their last opportunities to deny him the prize.

Rick Santorum is urgently attacking “Romneycare,” arguing that Romney would effectively forfeit one of the biggest issues Republicans have to run against Obama.

Santorum pounces

His campaign has fired off daily e-mails and videos highlighting the Massachusetts law, while the former senator from Pennsylvania has been particularly animated in talking about the issue; he uttered an expletive Sunday night at a New York Times reporter who asked him to clarify his line of attack on Romney.

“It’s the best opportunity for us to make the case about big government, to make the case about individual liberty, to make the case about budget deficits being blown wide open, to make the case about people not getting quality health care and have rationing of health care and government mandating you and making you do something against your economic interests, against your religious interests,” Santorum told reporters Monday over breakfast in Washington.

Calling health care “the mega issue,” he argued that Romney is “the one guy who can’t make the case.”

To emphasize his differences with Romney on health care, Santorum held a campaign event Monday on the steps of the ­Supreme Court as the justices were concluding the first of three days of oral arguments.

He told reporters that the Massachusetts law is “one of the reasons the jury’s still very much out” on Romney’s candidacy.

GOP voters cite economy

But it is difficult to measure how much it has hurt Romney in the nominating contest. Just 6 percent of Republicans nationally rated health care as the top issue, well behind the economy and general dissatisfaction with government, in a March Gallup poll. In January, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 27 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents said Romney’s health-care record was a major reason to oppose him. But 21 percent saw it as a reason to support him.

Romney’s biggest problem may be that his overhaul in Massachusetts places him ideologically to the left of much of the GOP base. In three big states whose primaries Romney won — Florida, Illinois and Ohio — about four in 10 Republican voters called Romney “not conservative enough” in exit polls.

“It’s clearly a vulnerability for Governor Romney, but by coming out so strongly for repealing and replacing Obamacare, while he may not have completely neutralized the issue, he’s taken a good deal of the sting out of it,” GOP pollster Whit Ayres said.

Romney has been trying to neutralize his problems with the conservative opponents of the Obama law by recommitting to repealing it.

“There are a lot of reasons not to like Obamacare,” he said Monday during a campaign stop in San Diego. “My colleagues the other day listed a whole series of them — and there are about 30 things — and I chuckled as I looked down, just shaking my head at the things Obamacare is doing.”

But Romney is picking up more conservative support as impediments to his nomination appear to be diminishing. On Monday, he trumpeted the endorsements of a handful of prominent conservative leaders — House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas and tea party star Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) — who called on Republicans to unite behind Romney.

Repackaging issue

Looking toward a campaign against the president this fall, Romney has begun to frame the health-care law as just one part of a broader overreach by the administration, which he says represents “an attack on economic freedom unlike anything we have ever seen before.”

Yet as Romney visited a medical-device company here that makes artificial spines, delivering a speech in front of a banner that read “Repeal and Replace Obamacare,” he did not directly call for its repeal. Nor did he refer to the week’s activity at the Supreme Court.

And although Romney stands by the Massachusetts program and has at times detailed the differences between it and the federal overhaul, he made no mention of it on Monday.

Instead, he spoke broadly about what he considers a culture of government regulation and taxation brought on by the Obama administration.

“I just don’t think the president and his people understand that as they burden enterprise with taxation and with regulation, they hurt all of us,” Romney said. “This is not just about the business itself being attacked, bad enough as that is, and the employees who work there being attacked, bad enough as that is, but the entire economy, all of America, slows down.”

Romney repeatedly referred to NuVasive, the company that hosted him Monday, and noted that its chief executive, Alexis V. Lukianov, emigrated from Russia to start the business.

“These dreams that people like Alex have had, these dreams are crushed — tax by tax, regulator by regulator, regulation by regulation,” Romney said. “Washington is crushing the dreams and crushing the dreamers. We can’t let it happen.”

Balz reported from Washington. Polling analyst Scott Clement in Washington contributed to this report.

Obama is lying about increasing the supply of oil???

Obama shoveling the BS bragging his administration is increasing the supply of oil???


Blaming Obama for gas prices unfair, but just

It’s unfair to blame President Barack Obama for high gas prices. But there’s some poetic justice in him getting blamed for them.

Obama is running around the country saying he’s an “all-of-the-above” energy guy. It’s pretty pathetic to watch.

Obama didn’t run for president as an all-of-the-above energy guy. He hasn’t governed as an all-of-the-above energy guy.

Obama ran for office, and has attempted to govern, as an anti-fossil fuels guy.

Remember his claim when he cinched the Democratic nomination, that this would be remembered as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal”? That wasn’t because universal health care would be passed. It was because Obama was going to cut down on the use of fossil fuels.

And he was going to do that, in part, by increasing the cost of fossil fuels. The whole purpose of the cap-and-trade regimen Obama tried to get Congress to pass is to put a price on carbon emissions and increase the cost of the fuels that produce them. Higher gas prices, as well as higher prices for electricity produced from fossil fuels, were part of the Obama policy.

Obama also proposed to reduce the use of fossil fuels by massively subsidizing alternatives, such as solar, wind and biofuels. This was not only his environmental policy. It was his economic policy, as well. The Obama economy was going to be built on green energy jobs that weren’t subject to foreign competition or being exported.

The massive subsidization of alternative energy sources part of the Obama agenda has been implemented. But the early returns aren’t encouraging.

Large solar-concentrating plants are having a hard time getting off the ground despite the massive subsidies. Wind requires huge investments in transmission that don’t pencil out for an intermittent source of power.

As it turns out, green energy manufacturing is as subject to global competition as any other kind of manufacturing. This is most clearly evident in solar panels. The Obama administration has slapped tariffs on Chinese imports. Domestic producers, despite the subsidies, are struggling and several have gone bankrupt.

And now that gas prices are sky-high, at least in the minds of voters, Obama is running around the country bragging about all the drilling for fossil fuels that has happened on his watch. I guess slowing the rise of the oceans and healing the planet can wait until the second term.

Obama is being more than a little disingenuous. The increase in drilling has occurred on private lands. On federal lands, it has gone down – just as you would expect from Obama the anti-fossil fuels guy.

But those who blame Obama for high gas prices are also being disingenuous. There are no alternative federal energy policies that could have been pursued over the last three years that would have made a material difference in today’s price of gas.

And those who maintain that all that stands between the American people and low gas prices are Obama and other greenies blocking domestic production are selling their own acre of sunshine.

Obama is wrong to pooh-pooh the potential of expanded production of domestic traditional energy sources. But even if a true all-of-the-above strategy were pursued and barriers to domestic production substantially lowered, it is unclear how much additional production would actually take place. It would depend on how the cost of production in the United States compared to the cost of production elsewhere.

Here’s the only thing we can know for sure: we don’t need for politicians to figure this out. Americans buy more than $1 trillion of energy a year to make things run or go. If politicians would stop trying to tip the balance, markets would figure out the most cost-effective way to meet those needs.

Military persecutes Marine for selling Nobama stickers

Military persecutes Marine for selling Nobama stickers

F*ck the First Amendment, you don't have any free speech rights in the military.


Marine sold 'Nobama' stickers, prosecutors say

Apr. 5, 2012 02:25 PM

Associated Press

CAMP PENDLETON, California -- A Marine is facing dismissal from the military for posting Facebook images of President Barack Obama's face superimposed on a jackass and for selling "Nobama" bumper stickers online, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Sgt. Gary Stein, 26, acted irresponsibly and disregarded repeated warnings that his anti-administration postings violated Pentagon policy involving members of the military, Marine Corps Capt. John Torresala said during a hearing at Camp Pendleton.

Comments that were prejudicial to good order and discipline were posted on the Facebook page used by military meteorologists and could have influenced junior Marines, the prosecutor said.

Stein's security clearance was taken away and he has no future in the Marine Corps because he can't do his job, Torresala said.

Backed by a team of lawyers and congressmen, Stein is fighting to stay in the military and test its longtime policy of limiting the free speech of members.

His lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union contend his views are protected by the First Amendment.

Stein has rallied support since he was notified last month that the military was moving to discharge him after determining he was in violation of the Pentagon policy barring service members from engaging in political activities.

"The military may be different from the civilian world, but it's not exempt from the First Amendment," said David Loy, legal director for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial counties. "Sgt. Stein didn't say anything for which the Marine Corps has any right to punish him."

The Marine Corps has said it decided to take administrative action after Stein declared on Facebook that he would not follow unlawful orders from Obama.

In addition to being discharged, Stein said, he would have his rank reduced to lance corporal if he is proven to be in violation.

He said he was removed from his job at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego on Wednesday and given a desk job with no access to computers.

Loy said Stein did not threaten order or discipline or take positions that anyone would attribute to the Corps. Instead, the Corps is threatening loyalty and morale in its ranks by persecuting a Marine for exercising his free speech rights, Loy said.

Stein, a nine-year member of the Marine Corps, has said he started a Facebook page called Armed Forces Tea Party to encourage fellow service members to exercise their rights.

Defense lawyers began the hearing Thursday by asking board members about their understanding of military policy limiting members from engaging in political activities and the guidelines on expressing their personal opinions.

California federal Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, a former Marine, wrote a letter to Stein's commanding officer stating the sergeant should not face dismissal for an opinion shared by a majority of Marines. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, also has expressed support for Stein.

Stein said his statement about Obama was part of an online debate about NATO allowing U.S. troops to be tried for the Quran burnings in Afghanistan. In that context, he said, he was stating that he would not follow orders from the president if it involved detaining U.S. citizens, disarming them or doing anything else that he believes would violate their constitutional rights.

The military has had a policy since the Civil War limiting the free speech of service members, including criticizing the commander in chief. Military law experts have said Stein may have crossed the line.

Pentagon directives say military personnel in uniform cannot sponsor a political club; participate in any TV or radio program or group discussion that advocates for or against a political party, candidate or cause; or speak at any event promoting a political movement.

Commissioned officers also may not use contemptuous words against senior officials, including the defense secretary or the president.

Democrats give special interests a role at convention


Democrats give special interests a role at convention

By Matea Gold, Washington Bureau

April 5, 2012, 9:04 p.m.

WASHINGTON — As a candidate in 2008, Barack Obama vowed to squelch the role of special interests in financing the party conventions — so he barred corporations and lobbyists from contributing money to this year's national convention in Charlotte, N.C.

But even as Democrats tout the three-day event in September as a populist gathering, organizers have found ways to skirt the rules and give corporations and lobbyists a presence at the nominating convention. That suggests they can't raise the $37 million for the political extravaganza without at least some help from moneyed interests.

Despite the ban on corporate money, for example, convention officials have encouraged corporate executives to write personal checks, according to sources familiar with the fundraising. And they have suggested that corporations can participate by donating goods and services to the convention, and by giving up to $100,000 through a corporate foundation.

They have also quietly explained to lobbyists that while they can't make contributions, they can help raise money from their clients — by soliciting personal checks from executives or in-kind contributions from corporations. Lobbyists who bundle high sums will get perks like premium credentials and hotel rooms.

Labor unions, meanwhile, are not specifically prohibited from giving. They provided millions of dollars for the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver.

The role of special interests at the convention reflects Obama's broader struggle to fulfill his 2008 vow to limit the influence of money in politics.

"What they're doing sounds like the old forms of raising money that they claimed they were not going to do," said Fred Wertheimer, president of the campaign finance reform group Democracy 21. "They may not be violating the letter of their own rules, but they certainly are not complying with the spirit of their own rules."

Obama's defenders say he has gone further than others in trying to reduce the clout of special-interest money. Unlike his GOP challengers, he doesn't accept campaign contributions from lobbyists or political action committees, and he discloses the names of bundlers who solicit major donations. And while the Democrats have set rules for who can finance their convention, the Republicans have not adopted similar restrictions for their convention in Tampa, Fla.

"We've done more to promote reform than any convention in history," said Democratic convention spokeswoman Kristie Greco. "Republicans are still operating under the status quo, playing by the same old rules that cater to the highest bidders."

But in his 2008 campaign and statements as president, Obama promised more than just to do better than his opponents. He cast himself as a reformer — leaving himself open to criticism from both the left and the right when he strays from the ethical high ground.

The Republican National Committee pounced last month when Vice President Joe Biden hired a former lobbyist, Steve Ricchetti, despite a White House ban on hiring people who have worked as lobbyists in the last two years. (Ricchetti de-registered as a lobbyist in 2008, though he still was running a lobbying shop.)

Earlier this year, Obama reversed his long-standing opposition to outside political groups and gave his blessing to an independent "super PAC" backing his reelection. He was responding to unfettered spending in the GOP presidential primaries, made possible by a series of court rulings in 2010 that allowed massive donations by billionaires and corporations to super PACS.

"You've got a campaign and a candidate who showed his ideals and intentions in the 2008 campaign, but the political reality of how the Republicans changed that landscape have forced them to become more pragmatic," said Democratic strategist Joe Trippi.

The latest example involves the party conventions, which the Federal Election Commission decided in 1977 could be produced in part through unlimited donations to a local host committee charged with promoting the host city.

Four years ago, organizations such as corporations and unions gave 86% of the $61 million Democrats raised for their convention in Denver. Nearly three-quarters of the donations were in amounts of $250,000 and up, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and the Campaign Finance Institute.

"If you want to go rub shoulders with elected officials and give them your 30-second elevator speech, the convention is the place to go. It's like shooting fish in a barrel," said former Democratic lobbyist LeeAnn Petersen, whose consulting firm Conventions 2012 arranges logistics for corporate clients seeking a presence at the events.

This year, "the rules are making it a little harder, but we've still got tons of interest," she said.

Under terms set by the Democratic National Committee, individuals are limited to giving $100,000 to the host committee, the organization raising money for the convention. Donations from for-profit corporations, political action committees and lobbyists are prohibited. Corporations that have not repaid money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program or other bailout programs cannot make in-kind contributions.

The host committee is emphasizing its efforts to attract small contributions; a promotion that launched Wednesday will plaster the names of $5 donors on a NASCAR stock car.

But lobbyists can still bundle large donations and qualify for special perks, such as platinum credentials, concierge services and VIP tickets to special events for those who raise $1 million.

"They have a policy of encouraging ineligible people to help them raise money," said Tony Podesta, a top Democratic lobbyist who is soliciting contributions from interested clients. "I don't take it personally."

Corporations that provide in-kind services can also receive the goodies donors crave: hotel rooms and convention passes.

In addition, the Charlotte host committee set up a separate fund that is accepting unlimited sums from corporations. That committee, called New American City, is covering administrative costs and welcome parties for the media and delegates. Although donors won't get convention passes, they could still get prominent exposure.

Convention Chief Executive Steve Kerrigan and Jim Rogers, chief executive of Duke Energy and co-chairman of the host committee, met with Democratic fundraisers and lobbyists on Dec. 15 at Washington's posh Jefferson Hotel to lay out the ways corporations and lobbyists could help raise money, according to sources familiar with the briefing. The meeting was first reported by Bloomberg News.

The approach irritated some who attended, who said that the organizers still want the help of lobbyists even while claiming they are not involved.

Convention officials said the meeting was an effort to educate people about the new rules, not to recruit lobbyists as bundlers.

It is unclear how the restrictions are affecting fundraising. Charlotte officials refuse to reveal how much they have brought in, saying only that they are on track.

But several Democrats involved in helping the effort said the rules had made it hard for organizers, particularly because executives of publicly traded companies aren't eager to personally give $100,000.

Some party strategists said it might have been unrealistic to try to finance the convention through small donors.

"There is no history of these conventions not being dependent on money from all kinds of corporate entities," said Democratic consultant Bill Carrick. "They've always been involved — there's no other donor base for it."

Secret Service agents like high class hookers????

If you ask me all victimless crimes, including prostitution should be legalized.

My problem is when government hypocrites enforce these laws against us serfs, but think that they are above the laws and break them as these Secret Service agents are accused of doing.


Misconduct alleged against Secret Service agents

Apr. 13, 2012 09:55 PM

Associated Press

CARTAGENA, Colombia -- A dozen Secret Service agents sent to Colombia to provide security for President Barack Obama at an international summit have been relieved of duty because of allegations of misconduct.

A caller who said he had knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press the misconduct involved prostitutes in Cartagena, site of the Summit of the Americas. A Secret Service spokesman did not dispute that.

A U.S. official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and requested anonymity, put the number of agents at 12. The agency was not releasing the number of personnel involved.

The Washington Post reported that Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said the accusations related to at least one agent having involvement with prostitutes in Cartagena. The association represents federal law enforcement officers, including the Secret Service. Adler later told the AP that he had heard that there were allegations of prostitution, but he had no specific knowledge of any wrongdoing.

Ronald Kessler, a former Post reporter and the author of a book about the Secret Service, told the Post that he had learned that 12 agents were involved, several of them married.

The incident threatened to overshadow Obama's economic and trade agenda at the summit and embarrass the U.S. The White House had no comment.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan would not confirm that prostitution was involved, saying only that there had been "allegations of misconduct" made against Secret Service personnel in the Colombian port city hosting Obama and more than 30 world leaders.

Donovan said the allegations of misconduct were related to activity before the president's arrival Friday night.

Obama was attending a leaders' dinner Friday night at Cartagena's historic Spanish fortress. He was due to attend summit meetings with regional leaders Saturday and Sunday.

Those involved had been sent back to their permanent place of duty and were being replaced by other agency personnel, Donovan said. The matter was turned over to the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles the agency's internal affairs.

"These personnel changes will not affect the comprehensive security plan that has been prepared in advance of the president's trip," Donovan said.

President Obama pretends we are winning the drug war!!!

South American governments want to end drug war!!!

South American governments want to end drug war!!!

Of course the American government is going to stick it's head in the sand and pretend we are winning the insane, unconstitutional drug war.


At Latin America summit, Obama to face push for drug legalization

By Christi Parsons and Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times

April 13, 2012, 4:45 p.m.

CARTAGENA, Colombia — President Obama will highlight trade and business opportunities in Latin America at a regional summit in Colombia this weekend, but other leaders may upstage him by pushing to legalize marijuana and other illicit drugs in a bid to stem rampant trafficking.

Obama, who opposes decriminalization, is expected to face a rocky reception in this Caribbean resort city, which otherwise forms a friendly backdrop for a U.S. president courting Latino voters in an election year. But the American demand for illegal drugs has caused fierce bloodshed, plus political and economic turmoil, across much of the region.

Colombia's president, Juan Manuel Santos, wants the 33 leaders at the Summit of the Americas to consider whether the solution should include regulating marijuana, and perhaps cocaine, the way alcohol and tobacco are. Other member states also are calling for that dialogue despite the political discomfort it may cause Obama back home.

"You haven't had this pressure from the region before," said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank in Washington. "I think the [Obama] administration is willing to entertain the discussion, but hoping it doesn't turn into a critique of the U.S. and put the U.S. on the defensive."

Obama also is expected to take flak from leaders frustrated by the lack of U.S. movement on two other troublesome issues, immigration reform and the long-standing embargo of Cuba. Cuban leaders are not participating in the summit, but many regional governments oppose the U.S. policy of embargo.

In internal debates, White House officials have weighed the risk of talking about decriminalization, which is still taboo for many U.S. voters, against concern about alienating leaders who bear the brunt of the battle against the heavily armed cartels that supply most marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines to U.S. markets.

White House officials say Obama will not change his drug policy. They hope to keep talk of legalization behind closed doors while he focuses publicly on other tactics, including improving security forces, reforming governance and enhancing economic opportunities.

The call for change comes from front-line veterans of the drug wars, including Colombia. Santos says he has the moral authority to seek new solutions because his country's citizens and security forces have spilled so much blood fighting drug traffickers.

Also leading the charge isGuatemala'spresident, Otto Perez Molina. After a pre-summit meeting with leaders of Costa Rica and Panama, he called for a "realistic and responsible" discussion of decriminalization in Cartagena.

"We cannot eradicate global drug markets, but we can certainly regulate them as we have done with alcohol and tobacco markets," he wrote in the British newspaper the Observer on April 7.

White House officials plan to argue that no evidence indicates legalization would slow the flow of narcotics or reduce drug-related killings. Vice President Joe Biden offered a preview in Miami Beach last month.

"We should have this debate, and the reason is to dispel some of the myths that exist about legalization," Biden told reporters. "There are those people who say, 'If you legalize, you are not going to expand the number of consumers significantly.' Not true."

U.S. officials also will emphasize administration efforts to reduce illicit drug use in the United States, the world's largest consumer of cocaine and other illegal drugs.

The Justice Department, for example, has added special courts that can sentence drug abusers to treatment programs instead of prison. And the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, assuming it survives Supreme Court review, requires the medical industry to treat substance abuse as a chronic disease.

Marijuana use in America has increased by 15% since 2006, but cocaine use has dropped by 40% in that time, according to theU.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Experts say the global market for cocaine is unchanged because use in Europe more than doubled in the last decade.

The idea of regulating and taxing the production and sale of illegal drugs isn't new. A panel led by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and past presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia concluded in a report in June that the drug war had "failed" and recommended easing penalties for farmers and low-level drug users.

That doesn't make the issue any easier for Obama.

"I don't think anybody thinks the current policy works right now, but public opinion hasn't gotten to the point of accepting the idea of legalization," said David Damore, a political scientist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas who writes about U.S. and Latino politics. "There's nothing to be gained from it politically, and it opens you up to an attack."

Parsons reported from Cartagena and Bennett from Washington.

America is out of touch with the rest of the world???

America is out of touch with the rest of the world??? I think so!!!

The US is alone on it's stance to continue the insane unconstitutional drug war, which is a dismal failure.

The US is also alone on it's stance to isolated Cuba from the rest of the world.

I suspect this quote by H. L. Mencken is one of the reasons for America's political positions:

"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."
Of course two of those hobgoblins are the "drug war" and Communistic Cuba, along with the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


U.S, Canada alone on Cuba at summit

by Vivian Sequera - Apr. 14, 2012 10:32 AM

Associated Press

CARTAGENA, Colombia -- A summit of 33 Western Hemisphere leaders opens Saturday with the United States and Canada standing firm, but alone, against everyone else's insistence that Cuba join future summits.

The Sixth Summit of the Americas has also taken on a tabloid tinge with 12 U.S. Secret Service agents sent home for alleged misconduct that apparently included prostitutes and days of heavy pre-summit poolside drinking.

U.S. President Barack Obama has been clinging stubbornly to a rejection of Cuban participation in the summits, which everyone but Canada deems unjust.

"This is the last Summit of the Americas," Bolivia's foreign minister, David Choquehuanca, told The Associated Press, "unless Cuba is allowed to take part."

The fate of the summit's final declaration was thrown into uncertainty Friday as the foreign ministers of Venezuela, Argentina and Uruguay said their presidents wouldn't sign it unless the U.S. and Canada removed their veto of future Cuban participation.

Vigorous discussion is also expected on drug legalization, which the Obama administration opposes. And Obama will be in the minority in his opposition to Argentina's claim to the British-controlled Falkland Islands.

The charismatic Obama may be able to charm the region's leaders as he did in 2009 with a pledge of being an "equal partner," but he will also have to prove the U.S. truly values their friendship and a stake in their growth.

"The United States should realize that its long-term strategic interests are not in Afghanistan or in Pakistan but in Latin America," the host, Colombian President Juan Santos, said in a speech to business leaders at a parallel CEO summit on Friday.

In large part, declining U.S. influence comes down to waning economic clout, as China gains on the U.S. as a top trading partner. It has surpassed the U.S. in trade with Brazil, Chile, and Peru and is a close second in Argentina and Colombia.

"Most countries of the region view the United States as less and less relevant to their needs -- and with declining capacity to propose and carry out strategies to deal with the issues that most concern them," the Washington-based think tank the Inter-American Dialogue noted in a pre-summit report.

Stereotypes of ugly Americans were, unfortunately, reinforced on summit eve with misconduct allegations

A caller who alerted The Associated Press to the case said the misconduct involved prostitutes.

A Secret Service spokesman did not dispute that. Nor did the U.S. official who, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the matter's sensitivity, put the number of agents sent home at 12. The agency was not releasing the number of personnel involved.

One employee of the hotel where the agents stayed, the beachfront Caribe, said the agents drank large quantities of alcohol at the poolside daily for about a week before being dressed down by a supervisor and sent home Thursday. The employee spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared for his job.

Obama faced challenges enough at the summit without that distraction.

Cuba was proving the biggest.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa was boycotting the summit over Cuba's exclusion, while moderates such as Santos and President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil said there should be no more America's summits without the communist island.

Obama's administration has greatly eased family travel and remittances to Cuba, but has not dropped the half-century U.S. embargo against the island, nor moved to let it back into the Organization of American States, under whose auspices the summit is organized.

Another big issue will be drug legalization, which the Obama administration firmly opposes. Santos left it off the official agenda but has said all possible scenarios should be explored and the United Nations should consider them.

Meeting with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez at his request, Obama can expect to discuss that country's claim to the Falkland Islands, known as the Malvinas by the Argentines, after Argentina lost a war with Britain 30 years ago while trying to seize them.

Among the hemisphere's leaders, there is nearly unanimous support for Argentina's position.

One potentially prickly confrontation for Obama was averted Saturday when Venezuela's foreign minister announced that President Hugo Chavez would skip the summit. The minister, Nicolas Maduro, said Chavez took the decision because of a medical recommendation.

Chavez was heading instead to Cuba to continue treatments for cancer.

He has grabbed the spotlight at past summits. But, suffering from an unspecified type of cancer, he has lately been shuttling back and forth to Cuba for radiation treatment.

Obama's dismal record in solving our debt crisis


Obama's dismal record in solving our debt crisis

Charles Krauthammer

2:55 p.m. CDT, April 15, 2012

WASHINGTON — Here we go again.

At the beginning of his presidency, Barack Obama argued that the country's spiraling debt was largely the result of exploding health care costs. That was true. He then said the cure for these exploding costs would be his health care reform. That was not true.

It was obvious at the time that it could never be true. If government gives health insurance to 33 million uninsured, that costs. Costs a lot. There's no free lunch.

Now we know. The Congressional Budget Office's latest estimate is that Obamacare will add $1.76 trillion in federal expenditures through 2022. And, as one of the Medicare trustees has just made clear, if you don't double count the $575 billion set aside for the Medicare trust fund, Obamacare adds to the already crushing national debt.

Three years later, we are back to smoke and mirrors. This time it's not health care but the Buffett Rule, which would impose a minimum 30 percent effective tax rate on those making $1 million or more. Here is how Obama introduced it last September:

"Warren Buffett's secretary shouldn't pay a (higher) tax rate than Warren Buffett. … And that basic principle of fairness, if applied to our tax code, could raise enough money" to "stabilize our debt and deficits for the next decade. … This is not politics; this is math."

OK. Let's do the math. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates this new tax would yield between $4 billion and $5 billion a year. If we collect the Buffett tax for the next 250 years — a span longer than the life of this republic — it would not cover the Obama deficit for 2011 alone.

As an approach to our mountain of debt, the Buffett Rule is a farce. And yet Obama repeated the ridiculous claim again last week. "It will help us close our deficit." Does he really think we're that stupid?

Hence the fallback: The Buffett Rule is a first step in tax reform. On the contrary. It's a substitute for tax reform, an evasion of tax reform. In three years, Obama hasn't touched tax (or, for that matter, entitlement) reform, and clearly has no intention to. The Buffett Rule is nothing but a form of redistributionism that has vanishingly little to do with debt reduction and everything to do with re-election.

As such, it's clever. It deftly channels the sentiment underlying Occupy Wall Street (original version, before its slovenly, whiny, aggressive weirdness made it politically toxic). It perfectly pits the 99 percent against the 1 percent. Indeed, it is OWS translated into legislation, something the actual occupiers never had the wit to come up with.

Clever politics, but in terms of economics, it's worse than useless. It's counterproductive. The reason Buffett and Mitt Romney pay roughly 15 percent in taxes is that their income is principally capital gains. The Buffett Rule is, in fact, a disguised tax hike on capital gains. But Obama prefers to present it as just an alternative minimum tax because 50 years of economic history show that raising the capital gains tax backfires: It reduces federal revenues, while lowering the tax raises revenues.

No matter. Obama had famously said in 2008 that even if that's the case, he'd still raise the capital gains tax — for the sake of fairness.

For Obama, fairness is the supreme social value. And fairness is what he is running on — although he is not prepared to come clean on its price. Or even acknowledge that there is a price. Instead, Obama throws in a free economic lunch for all. "This is not just about fairness," he insisted on Wednesday. "This is also about growth."

Growth? The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. Now, in the middle of a historically weak recovery, Obama wants to raise our capital gains tax to the fourth highest. No better way to discourage investment — and the jobs and growth that come with it.

Three years ago, Obama promised universal health care that saves money. Today, he offers a capital gains tax hike that spurs economic growth. This is free-lunch egalitarianism.

The Buffett Rule redistributes deck chairs on the Titanic, ostensibly to make more available for those in steerage. Nice idea, but the iceberg cometh. The enterprise is an exercise in misdirection — a distraction not just from Obama's dismal record on growth and unemployment but, more important, from his dereliction of duty in failing to this day to address the utterly predictable and devastating debt crisis ahead.

Washington Post Writers Group

Charles Krauthammer is a syndicated columnist based in Washington.

CIA wants to murder suspected terrorists in Yemen!

CIA wants permission to murder people in Yemen that "might" be terrorists!!!

I wonder when the DEA will ask permission to use drone strikes in the USA to murder people who "might" be drug dealers???

This sure brings up memories of the book "1984"! Can you imagine the CIA flying drones around the world on a 24/7 basis, so they can kill "suspected" criminals on a moments notice with a drone launched missile???

And of course this comes on President Obama's shift who was labeled as anti-war by the lefties. Sadly President Obama is just as bad of a tyrant as President Bush was.


CIA seeks new authority to expand Yemen drone campaign

By Greg Miller, Published: April 18

The CIA is seeking authority to expand its covert drone campaign in Yemen by launching strikes against terrorism suspects even when it does not know the identities of those who could be killed, U.S. officials said.

Securing permission to use these “signature strikes” would allow the agency to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior, such as imagery showing militants gathering at known al-Qaeda compounds or unloading explosives.

Violence in Yemen has repeatedly erupted between government and opposition forces, as well as between the government and al-Qaeda.

The practice has been a core element of the CIA’s drone program in Pakistan for several years. CIA Director David H. Petraeus has requested permission to use the tactic against the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, which has emerged as the most pressing terrorism threat to the United States, officials said.

If approved, the change would probably accelerate a campaign of U.S. airstrikes in Yemen that is already on a record pace, with at least eight attacks in the past four months.

For President Obama, an endorsement of signature strikes would mean a significant, and potentially risky, policy shift. The administration has placed tight limits on drone operations in Yemen to avoid being drawn into an often murky regional conflict and risk turning militants with local agendas into al-Qaeda recruits.

A senior administration official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations, declined to talk about what he described as U.S. “tactics” in Yemen, but he said that “there is still a very firm emphasis on being surgical and targeting only those who have a direct interest in attacking the United States.”

U.S. officials acknowledge that the standard has not always been upheld. Last year, a U.S. drone strike inadvertently killed the American son of al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki. The teenager had never been accused of terrorist activity and was killed in a strike aimed at other militants.

Some U.S. officials have voiced concern that such incidents could become more frequent if the CIA is given the authority to use signature strikes.

“How discriminating can they be?” asked a senior U.S. official familiar with the proposal. Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen “is joined at the hip” with a local insurgency whose main goal is to oust the country’s government, the official said. “I think there is the potential that we would be perceived as taking sides in a civil war.”

U.S. officials said that the CIA proposal has been presented to the National Security Council and that no decision has been reached. Officials from the White House and the CIA declined to comment.

Proponents of the plan said improvements in U.S. intelligence collection in Yemen have made it possible to expand the drone campaign — and use signature strikes — while minimizing the risk of civilian casualties.

They also pointed to the CIA’s experience in Pakistan. U.S. officials said the agency killed more senior al-Qaeda operatives there with signature strikes than with those in which it had identified and located someone on its kill list.

In Pakistan, the CIA “killed most of their ‘list people’ when they didn’t know they were there,” said a former senior U.S. military official familiar with drone operations.

The agency has cited the Pakistan experience to administration officials in arguing, perhaps counterintuitively, that it can be more effective against al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate if it doesn’t have to identify its targets before an attack. Obama, however, ruled out a similar push for such authority more than a year ago.

Increasing focus on Yemen

The CIA, the National Security Agency and other spy services have deployed more officers and resources to Yemen over the past several years to augment counterterrorism operations that were previously handled almost exclusively by the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command.

The CIA began flying armed drones over Yemen last year after opening a secret base on the Arabian Peninsula. The agency also has worked with the Saudi and Yemeni intelligence services to build networks of informants — much the way it did in Pakistan before ramping up drone strikes there.

The agency’s strategy in Pakistan was centered on mounting a drone campaign so relentless that it allowed no time between attacks for al-Qaeda operatives to regroup. The use of signature strikes came to be seen as critical to achieving that pace.

The approach involved assembling threads of intelligence from multiple sources to develop telltale “signatures” of al-Qaeda activity based on operatives’ vehicles, facilities, communications equipment and patterns of behavior.

A former senior U.S. intelligence official said the CIA became so adept at this that it could tell what was happening inside an al-Qaeda compound — whether a leader was visiting or explosives were being assembled, for example — based on the location and number of security operatives surrounding the site.

The agency might be able to replicate that success in Yemen, the former intelligence official said. But he expressed skepticism that White House officials, including counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan, will approve the CIA’s request.

The situation in Pakistan’s tribal territory “is far less ambiguous than in Yemen,” the former official said. “Brennan has been deliberate in making sure targets we hit in Yemen are terrorist targets and not insurgents.”

As a result, the CIA has been limited to “personality” strikes in Yemen, meaning it can fire only in cases where it has clear evidence that someone on its target list is in a drone’s crosshairs.

Often, that requires information from multiple sources, including imagery, cellphone intercepts and informants on the ground.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, as the Yemen-based group is known, has not been linked to a major terrorist plot since its failed attempt to mail parcels packed with explosives to addresses in Chicago in 2010. The death of Awlaki in a CIA drone strike last year is thought to have diminished the group’s ability to mount follow-on attacks.

But U.S. counterterrorism officials said that Awlaki’s death did not extinguish the group’s determination to attack the United States and noted that other key operatives — including Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who designed the bombs used in the parcel plot — remain at large.

A quickening pace

The pace of U.S. airstrikes in Yemen is still far from the peak levels in Pakistan, but it is on a distinctly upward trend, with about as many strikes so far this year as in all of 2011.

Which U.S. entity is responsible for each strike remains unclear. In Pakistan, the CIA carries out every drone strike. But in Yemen, the United States has relied on a mix of capabilities, including drones flown by the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command, as well as conventional military aircraft and warships parked off the coast.

The JSOC has broader authority than the CIA to pursue militants in Yemen and is not seeking permission to use signature strikes, U.S. officials said.

Obama administration officials have refused to provide details of how militants are targeted or to disclose the identities of those killed.

Asked to explain the surge in strikes this year, U.S. officials denied that there has been any change in authorities. Instead, they attributed the pace to intelligence-gathering efforts that were expanded several years ago but are only beginning to pay off.

“There has never been a decision to step up or down” the number of strikes, said a senior U.S. official involved in overseeing the Yemen campaign. “It’s all intelligence-driven.”

The Long War Journal, a Web site that tracks drone operations, estimates that there have been 27 strikes in Yemen since 2009 and that 198 militants and 48 civilians have been killed.

Awlaki was killed last September, six weeks after the CIA began flying armed drones over Yemen. This year, one senior AQAP operative has been killed: Abdul Mun’im Salim al Fatahani, who was suspected of involvement in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, was killed in January by a drone strike in Abyan province, according to the Long War Journal.

Staff writers Karen DeYoung and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Obama gives students free money in exchange for votes????

Vote for me and you will get a bigger student loan???


Obama woos students, pushes low-rate student loans

by Ben Feller - Apr. 24, 2012 11:17 PM

Associated Press

MORRISVILLE, N.C. -- President Barack Obama went after the college vote Tuesday, pitching cheaper student loans as he courted the one age group where he has a decided advantage over Republican rival Mitt Romney. The twist? Romney, too, has endorsed the idea, though it's unclear whether deficit-leery Republicans in Congress will go along.

In the race for the White House, both the Obama and Romney campaigns see huge opportunities to court younger voters. This week, their efforts are focused on the millions of students -- and their parents -- who are grappling with college costs at a time when such debt has grown so staggering it exceeds the totals for credit cards or auto loans.

Obama crossed the nation, visiting North Carolina and Colorado, to sell his message to college students. Both stops, as well as the one he will make today in Iowa, came in states vital to his re-election bid.

Trying to make it personal, Obama told students at the University of North Carolina that he and first lady Michelle Obama had "been in your shoes" and didn't pay off their student loans until eight years ago.

"I didn't just read about this. I didn't just get some talking points about this. I didn't just get a policy briefing on this," Obama said. "We didn't come from wealthy families. When we graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of debt. When we married, we got poor together."

Obama's emphasis on his personal experience set up a contrast with Romney, whose father was a wealthy auto executive. It's a point the president is sure to return to during this summer's campaigning.

Late Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., introduced legislation that would keep the interest rate for subsidized loans for poorer and middle-class students at their current level for another year at a cost of $5.9 billion.

The timing is important because the rate will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1 without intervention by Congress, an expiration date chosen in 2007 when a Democratic Congress voted to chop the rate in half.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has estimated that about 15 percent of Americans, or 37 million people, have outstanding student-loan debt. The bank puts the total at $870 billion, though other estimates have reached $1 trillion. About two-thirds of student-loan debt is held by people younger than 30.

Members of both parties are assessing ways to cover the costs and then gain the votes in the House and Senate. Both parties have a political incentive to keep the rates as they are.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday: "I don't think anybody believes this interest rate ought to be allowed to rise." He added, "The question is how do you pay for it, how long do you do the extension."

Under the Democratic plan, the measure would be paid for by closing a loophole that lets owners of privately owned companies called S corporations avoid paying the Social Security and Medicare payroll tax on part of their earnings. It would apply to such companies with incomes over $250,000. The higher payroll taxes would also be required for some law firms, doctors practices and other professional-services partnerships.

Congressional Republicans, however, were panning the idea of paying for the student-loan plan with higher payroll taxes on those companies' owners.

"I don't think the temporary interest-rate cut should expire this year," McConnell said. "But the way to prevent that is not by raiding Social Security and Medicare while making it more difficult for small businesses to hire college students already struggling in the Obama economy."

Romney said this week that he agrees the loan rates shouldn't be raised, coupling that stance with criticism of Obama's economic leadership.

"Given the bleak job prospects that young Americans coming out of college face today, I encourage Congress to temporarily extend the low rate," Romney said in a statement.

Some conservative activists have denounced Romney's decision to match Obama's position on student-loan rates.

"Mitt Romney is going to sell out conservatives in his party" to improve his chances in the November election, Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote in a blog carried by sites including Free Republic.

By taking on student debt, Obama spoke to middle-class America and also targeted a growing economic burden that could hamper the national recovery.

While leaning on Republicans in Congress to act, he also sought to energize the young people essential to his campaign -- those who voted for him last time and the many more who have turned voting age since. Obama urged students to go to social-media sites such as Twitter to pressure their lawmakers to prevent the interest rates on the loans "from shooting up and shaking you down."

Romney's supporters said Tuesday that Obama's policies had hurt younger voters and questioned whether the president could garner the same amount of support as in 2008.

"Young people are sitting here 3 1/2 years later, and they're not better off," said Alex Schriver, chairman of the College Republican National Committee.

Obama carried voters ages 18-29 by a ratio of about 2-to-1 in 2008, but many recent college graduates have had difficulty finding jobs. That raises concerns for the president about whether they will vote and volunteer for him in such large numbers again.

What the Secret Service could learn from drunken sailors


What the Secret Service could learn from drunken sailors

By Roberto Loiederman, Published: April 26

Roberto Loiederman, a merchant seaman from 1966 to 1974, is a writer in California. He co-authored “The Eagle Mutiny,” an account of the 1970 mutiny on a U.S. vessel.

What happened in Cartagena, Colombia, with the Secret Service seems unsavory to me, but not for the reasons you might think.

I make no judgments about men spending a night with escorts. As far as I’m concerned, those who take a holier-than-thou attitude about this are like Inspector Renault in “Casablanca” when he says he’s “shocked, shocked” to discover there is gambling at Rick’s Cafe . . . just before someone hands him his winnings.

No, what the Secret Service agents apparently did seems unsavory because of my own experiences.

More than 40 years ago, I was a merchant seaman. Whenever our ship would get to port — any port — we’d hurry to an area near the docks filled with bars and women. Valparaiso or Santos, Pusan or Saigon, Djibouti or Cartagena — the only changes, from port to port, were the local women’s ethnicity and language.

As a seaman, what other options do you have? You’re in a strange city for a few days. You’re with other hardworking, hard-playing guys. And you’ve got cash in your pocket. So you go to a bar, drink more than you should, smile at the women buzzing around, maybe dance with one and then — for a pre-arranged fee — take her to a hotel room.

I imagine the Secret Service agents in the scandal du jour went through similar steps. Of course, the current situation is different from what I remember. The women involved in the Secret Service scandal are “escorts,” not the type of ladies who hang out with seamen, as a Colombian woman in question made clear to the New York Times. The bar where the U.S. personnel met these women is an upscale discotheque, not some mosquito-ridden dive. Like us, the Secret Service men drank far too much, but it was expensive vodka, not cheap whiskey.

There’s another major difference: One of the Secret Service agents did something no self-respecting seaman would have done.

When I worked on ships, seamen were a superstitious lot. When there was a bad storm, while the ship pitched and rolled, the crew, unable to eat or sleep, would gather in the messroom and grumble. Anyone who remembers Coleridge’s ancient mariner knows that seamen don’t blame the wind and tides for bad weather and rough seas. Rather, they blame a fellow member of the crew — someone who has, say, killed an albatross. During storms, they’d mumble darkly that a crew member had “Jonah’d” the ship — done something wicked, while ashore, that caused the seas to rise up and take revenge.

Inevitably, someone would point out that the likely cause of the foul weather was that one of our crew had committed the worst sin of all: not paying a whore. All would nod gravely. In my day, seamen were convinced that this was such a serious infraction it could threaten a ship’s survival. More than once I saw fellow crew members, who’d come back to the ship so drunk they couldn’t remember where they’d been, make superhuman efforts to send money to a woman ashore in a desperate attempt to avoid the curse of the unpaid prostitute.

I thought about this while reading about the scandal in Cartagena. It appears that getting drunk and going back to the hotel with the women wasn’t, in itself, what got the Secret Service personnel into trouble. What got them busted was that someone in their group refused to pay an escort the pre-arranged price. One of the escorts wanted $800. She said that a Secret Service agent offered her $30. (To put that figure in perspective, it’s more or less what seamen used to pay in Cartagena 45 years ago for all-night companionship.)

The stereotype of “spending like a drunken sailor” is true. We prided ourselves on spending our money foolishly. Working on a ship headed to Latin America was known as a “romance run” because it would often end up costing us more than we made. But we didn’t care. We’d give a woman whatever she asked for. If the requested price was steep — like, say, $800 — we’d keep enough for the taxi back to the ship and give her whatever we had.

I don’t want to romanticize the seedy life of merchant seamen, but if the Secret Service personnel involved in this scandal had played by the same rules and followed the same ethical standards as the drunken sailors I used to work with, there would have been no confrontation, and they might still have their jobs

Obama - I'm a bigger war monger then Mitt Romney???

Obama - I'm a bigger war monger then Mitt Romney???

Of course in the last election many people supported Obama because he seemed to be less of a war monger then Bush and McCain. Sadly Obama seems to be just as much of a war monter as both Bush and McCain are!!!!

The video is at:

Romney would not have killed bin Laden, implies new Obama campaign ad

By Olivier Knox | The Ticket

Would Mitt Romney have ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden? President Barack Obama's re-election campaign released a new video on Friday that strongly implies that he would not have, using the presumptive Republican nominee's own words against him.

Ever since Vice President Joe Biden boiled down Obama's 2012 slogan to "bin Laden is dead, GM is alive," it has been clear that the embattled incumbent would not hesitate to use the May 2, 2011, Navy SEAL strike as a political weapon.

Fighting over the political use of bin Laden is hardly new—as Obama's 2008 presidential campaign could tell you, since they complained about then-rival Hillary Clinton doing just that. Clinton's camp ran an ad that used Osama bin Laden and implied that Obama (the ad didn't use his name) didn't have the foreign policy chops to be president.

The video, taken from footage shot for Obama's 17-minute campaign commercial "The Road We've Traveled," opens with the message "The Commander-in-Chief gets one chance to make the right decision" and turns to former President Bill Clinton for validation. "That's one thing George Bush said that was right: The president is the decider in chief. Nobody can make that decision for you."

"Look, he knew what would happen," says Clinton. "Suppose the Navy SEALs had gone in there and it hadn't been bin Laden. Suppose they had been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for him, but he reasoned 'I cannot in good conscience do nothing.' He took the harder and the more honorable path and the one that produced in my opinion the best result," he says, amid images including a photograph of New York City firefighters cheering the news of bin Laden's death.

"Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?" asks the on-screen text. The video recalls Romney's contention, in an April 2007 interview with the Associated Press, that Americans will not be markedly safer if bin Laden were killed and that "it's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." (Days later, in a May 3, 2007, debate, Romney was asked about his words and responded, "We'll move everything to get him. ... This is a global effort we're going to have to lead to overcome this jihadist effort. It's more than Osama bin Laden. But he is going to pay, and he will die.") It also cites a Reuters report referring to an August 2007 Republican candidates debate: "Mitt Romney criticized Barack Obama for vowing to strike al-Qaeda targets inside Pakistan if necessary." (That's probably safer than directing viewers to the transcript of the debate: Romney criticized Obama for openly discussing the possibility of striking inside Pakistan, not for entertaining the idea. When moderator George Stephanopoulos asks whether it's fair to summarize his position as "keep this option on the table, but it is foolish to talk about it in public," Romney doesn't disagree.)

The Obama campaign video wraps up with Clinton saying: "He had to decide and that's what you hire a president to do. You hire the president to make the calls when no one else can do it."

Romney has taken pains to praise Obama for the raid. On Friday, Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul bristled at the video.

"It's now sad to see the Obama campaign seek to use an event that unified our country to once again divide us, in order to try to distract voters' attention from the failures of his administration. With 23 million Americans struggling for work, our national debt soaring, and household budgets being squeezed like never before, Mitt Romney is focused on strengthening America at home and abroad," she said.

The Obama video came one day after Vice President Biden, in a speech assailing Romney on foreign policy, declared: "On this gut issue, we know what President Obama did. We can't say for certain what Gov. Romney would have done."

Elect me President - I murdered bin Laden!!!!

For Obama, bin Laden killing becomes campaign tool

This is interesting because President Obama's murder of bin Laden was a violation of both American law and of international law, but he is using it as a campaign tool to get reelected.

Remember American was not at war with Pakistan, where President Obama sent the American military on a mission to kill bin Laden! Nor the did the American government have the permission of the Pakistan government to enter that country and murder bin Laden.

Last bin Laden was never convicted in any court, American or otherwise of doing anything wrong, but President Obama still ordered his execution.


For Obama, bin Laden killing becomes campaign tool


Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The killing of Osama bin Laden has become a campaign weapon for President Barack Obama.

Obama's re-election campaign is portraying his risky decision to go after America's top enemy as a defining difference between him and his Republican presidential opponent. His team is suggesting Mitt Romney may not have had the guts to order a mission that put lives and perhaps a presidency at stake.

Obama himself is opening up anew— and opening the secretive Situation Room as an interview stage — to hail the one-year anniversary of the raid.

Romney's campaign says it is "sad" for Obama to use a unifying event to divide the nation.


SB 1070 - Did you remember to bring my birth certificate

Did you remember to bring my birth certificate - based on Arizona's racist SB 1070 law which runs Mexicans out of Arizona

Jan Brewer shakes her finger at Emperor Obama

You're not entering Arizona until I see your immigration papers -  Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to President Obama - Wow! Reminds me of Arizona's racist SB 1070 law

Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran

As President I wouldn't hesitate to bomb Iran - I'd bomb Iran on my first day in office - I'd bomb Iran on election day - (Sigh) I guess I'd better find something to wear too!

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The American Emperor

The President of the United States of America