the America Emperor

the President of the United States of America


I split this web page into two web pages.

This web page doesn't get into the details of how the American President is really an Emperor, but just has articles on the normal corrupt political stuff that most politicians are involved with. Stuff whichs shows the main purpose of government is to aid the elected officials and the special intrest groups that helped elect them, not the people they claim to serve. Or as Michael Kaery said -

"Government of the people;
by the elected officials and appointed bureaucrats;
for the elected officials, appointed bureaucrats and special interest groups that helped them get into power!
The other web page lists stories which show how the American President or American Emperor is truely an emperor, like rulers of past Empires.

Obama seems to be using the God line to get relected, and probably does mix government and religion.


Obama invokes Jesus more than Bush

KENS 5 - TV San Antonio Eamon Javers Eamon Javers – Tue Jun 9, 5:09 am ET

He’s done it while talking about abortion and the Middle East, even the economy. The references serve at once as an affirmation of his faith and a rebuke against a rumor that persists for some to this day.

As president, Barack Obama has mentioned Jesus Christ in a number of high-profile public speeches — something his predecessor George W. Bush rarely did in such settings, even though Bush’s Christian faith was at the core of his political identity.

In his speech Thursday in Cairo, Obama told the crowd that he is a Christian and mentioned the Islamic story of Isra, in which Moses, Jesus and Mohammed joined in prayer.

At the University of Notre Dame on May 17, Obama talked about the good works he’d seen done by Christian community groups in Chicago. “I found myself drawn — not just to work with the church but to be in the church,” Obama said. “It was through this service that I was brought to Christ.”

And a month before that, Obama mentioned Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount at Georgetown University to make the case for his economic policies. Obama retold the story of two men, one who built his house on a pile of sand and the other who built his on a rock: “We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand,” Obama said. “We must build our house upon a rock.”

More than four months into the Obama presidency, a picture is emerging of a chief executive who is comfortable with public displays of his religion — although he has also paid tribute to other faiths and those he called “nonbelievers” during his inaugural address.

Obama’s invocation of the Christian Messiah is more overt than Americans heard in the public rhetoric of Bush in his time in the White House — even though Bush’s victories were powered in part by evangelical voters.

“I don’t recall a single example of Bush as president ever saying, ‘Jesus’ or ‘Christ,’” said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Christian group Family Research Council. “This is different.”

To Perkins, Obama’s overtly Christian rhetoric is a welcome development from an administration that he largely disagrees with on the issues, though Perkins sees a political motive behind it, as well.

“I applaud that. It gives people a sense of comfort,” Perkins said. “But I think it’s a veneer, a facade that covers over a lot of policies that are anti-Christian.” That includes, in his view, Obama’s stance in favor of abortion rights.

The Rev. Barry Lynn, the executive director of the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State, doesn’t like the trend with Obama: “I don’t need to hear politicians tell me how religious they are,” Lynn said. “Obama in a very overt way does what Bush tended to do in a more covert way.”

Obama’s public embrace of his Christianity so far has not included choosing a church in the capital, and he has attended Sunday services only once since his election, on Easter Sunday. The White House said at the time the family was still looking for a spiritual home in Washington.

But inside his White House, Obama has placed his Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships — run by a 26-year old Pentecostal minister named Josh DuBois — under the White House’s Domestic Policy Council. That was widely seen as an effort to involve a religious perspective in the administration’s policy decisions.

Also, religious leaders meet with White House policymakers on a regular basis — and help to shape decisions on matters large and small. A White House speechwriter working on Obama’s Egypt speech called several faith leaders to get their thoughts. After the White House unveiled its budget in April, officials convened a two-hour conference call with religious leaders to discuss how the spending plan would help the poor.

“President Obama is a committed Christian, and he’s being true to who he is,” DuBois told POLITICO. “There’s an appropriate role for faith in public life, and his remarks reflect that. And they also reflect a spirit of inclusivity that recognizes that we are a nation with a range of different religious backgrounds and traditions.”

Still, it is ironic that Obama, who rode a wave of young, Internet-savvy and more secular voters to the White House, would more freely invoke the name of Jesus Christ than did Bush.

In his first year as president, Bush mentioned “Jesus” or “Christ” a handful of times — but only in innocuous contexts, such as his Easter proclamation, a Christmas message and a proclamation on “Salvation Army Week.”

To be sure, Bush talked openly about his faith. On the day of his second inauguration as governor of Texas, Bush reportedly told Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, “I believe that God wants me to be president.” As a Texas governor running for president, Bush declared in a presidential debate that the philosopher he most identified with was Jesus.

And in an interview for Bob Woodward’s 2004 book “Plan of Attack,” Bush was asked whether he’d talked to his father, the President George H.W. Bush, about the decision to invade Iraq.

“There is a higher father that I appeal to,” Bush said.

But there are different political imperatives driving the two presidents. Obama has every incentive to broadcast his Christianity, while Bush, for other reasons, chose to narrowcast his religious references to a targeted audience.

For Obama, Christian rhetoric offers an opportunity to connect with a broader base of supporters in a nation in which 83 percent of Americans believe in God. What’s more, regularly invoking Jesus helps Obama minimize the number of American who believe he is a Muslim — a linkage that can be politically damaging. According to a Pew Research Center study, 11 percent of Americans believe, incorrectly, that Obama is a Muslim; it’s a number that is virtually unchanged from the 2008 presidential campaign.

Yet Obama has targeted his messages, too. He used speeches in Turkey and last week in Egypt to highlight the Muslim relatives in his past as a way to draw a connection with his Muslim audiences — something he shied away from during his presidential campaign.

For Bush, invoking Jesus publicly was fraught with political risk. He was so closely politically identified with the Christian right that overt talk of Christ from the White House risked alienating mainstream and secular voters. Bush instead quoted passages from scripture or Christian hymns, as he did in his 2003 State of the Union Address when he used the phrase “wonder-working power.” That sort of oblique reference resonated deeply with evangelical Christians but sailed largely unnoticed past secular voters.

To some, the difference between the two presidents goes beyond rhetoric. David Kuo, a former official in Bush’s faith-based office who later became disillusioned with the president he served, worries that both men have exploited religious phraseology for political gain. “From a spiritual perspective, that’s a great and grave danger,” he said. “When God becomes identified with a political agenda, God gets screwed.”

And he suspects that Obama has an even larger goal: the resurrection of the largely dormant Christian Left, a tradition that encompasses Martin Luther King’s civil rights leadership and dates back as far as Dorothy Day, the liberal activist who co-founded the Catholic Worker movement in the 1930s.

Recast in 21st Century terms, that long-dormant stream of American political life could become a powerful political force. A Pew survey released May 21 found that even as Americans remain highly religious, there has there been a slow decline in the number of Americans with socially conservative values – especially among young voters. That creates an opening for Obama, especially at a time when some conservative evangelicals are telling pollsters they are frustrated and disillusioned with politics.

“In the long term, this could be huge,” said Stephen Schneck, director of the Life Cycle Institute at The Catholic University of America, who is active in left-leaning political efforts. “There are swing Catholics and swing Protestants even within the evangelicals. To the extent Obama can mobilize those people as part of a new Democratic coalition, that marginalizes Republicans even further.”

Obama is not the President of the American people. Obama is the President of the government nannies that rule the American people. This includes the generals who are running the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Obama seems to be doing what his generals tell him. Keep the war secret! The American public don't need to know the crimes they commit!


Obama seeks to block release of abuse photos

Posted 5/13/2009 2:53 PM ET E-mail | Save | Print

By Jennifer Loven, AP White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is seeking to block the release of hundreds of photos showing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan being abused, reversing his position after military commanders warned that the images could stoke anti-American sentiment and endanger U.S. troops.

The pictures show mistreatment of detainees at locations beyond the infamous U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Word of Obama's decision on Wednesday came after top military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan expressed fears that publicizing the pictures could put their troops in danger. When the Abu Ghraib photos emerged in 2004 of grinning U.S. soldiers posing with detainees, some naked, some being held on leashes, they caused a huge anti-American backlash around the globe, particularly in the Muslim world.

Obama decided he did not feel comfortable with the photos release, and was concerned it would inflame tensions in Iraq and Afghanistan, put U.S. soldiers at higher risk and make the U.S. mission in those two wars more difficult, according to White House officials.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that the president was concerned that the photos' release would pose a national security threat, an argument the administration has not made yet in the courts.

"The president does not believe that the strongest case regarding the release of these photos was presented to the court and that was a case based on his concern about what the release would do to our national security," Gibbs said.

Gibbs said that the main argument previously was a privacy one.

The move represented a sharp reversal from Obama's repeated pledges for open government, and in particular from his promise to be forthcoming with information that courts have ruled should be publicly available.

As such, it was sure to invite criticism from the more liberal segments of the Democratic Party that want a full accounting -- and even redress -- for what they see as the misdeeds of previous years under former President George W. Bush.


May 29, 2009

Photos show a young, 'cool' Obama

Exhibit features president as college student in Calif.

May. 29, 2009 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - He was tall and stunningly good-looking, a guy who could appear pensive and serious one moment and then, with smoke from an unfiltered cigarette swirling around his face, morph into the hippest-looking dude this side of James Dean.

Which is why budding photographer Lisa Jack knew the moment she saw Barack Obama walk into the campus snack shop at Los Angeles' Occidental College in 1980 that she had to get the freshman in front of a camera.

"I was doing portraits of fellow students, the cool people on campus," Jack, a slender, 49-year-old bundle of energy, recalled this week as she stood in a West Hollywood photo gallery surrounded by framed black-and-white photos of the president as a young man. "A friend of a friend said, 'There's this REALLY cool guy, REALLY good-looking, you have to get his picture.' And as he said it, he (Obama) walked in. He (the friend) said, 'Hey, Barry, come here.' "

Soon after, they had made arrangements for a photo shoot at Jack's small off-campus apartment, a nondescript hovel furnished with little more than a worn couch that had been salvaged from the side of the road and an overturned shopping cart that doubled as an end table.

To Jack's surprise, the future president, dressed in jeans and a shirt with sleeves rolled up, arrived with his own props, including a leather bomber jacket, a wide-brimmed Panama hat and a package of cigarettes.

"He had so much charisma, even back then, it was amazing," the photographer said, looking at a portrait of Obama, a broad grin on his face, one palm outstretched as though he's about to welcome a visitor. In another, his head is tilted back, eyes closed, a grin again fixed on his face.

"Some of these are goofy. He could be a goofball," Jack said, chuckling as she surveyed them.

Then, she moved on to view photos of the future president looking pensive and sometimes lost in thought, still others of him in his classic cool pose, cigarette smoke swirling around his face, others in the bomber jacket, hat off, showing a medium-length Afro. She shot just one 36-exposure roll of film, going on to earn an A in her photo class.

Obama slams wasteful nickle and dime spending by the military but doesn't say a word about the $2 trillion in corporate welfare he has handed out to failing Wall Street Bankers, bankrupt auto companies and other multi-million dollar corporations. He didn't even mention the tiny $2 billion cash for clunkers either he just signed.


Obama slams wasteful spending in speech to veterans

The Associated Press

August 17, 2009 - 10:25AM , updated: August 17, 2009 - 11:39AM

President Barack Obama addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention Monday, Aug. 17, 2009, at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Darryl Webb, TribunePresident Barack Obama took on both the defense establishment and freespending lawmakers on Monday, saying they were draining the nation's military budget with "exotic projects."

"If Congress sends me a defense bill loaded with a bunch of pork, I will veto it," he declared in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Obama protests, rallies heat up in Phoenix

Health care fight shadows Obama visit

He accused members of Congress of using the Pentagon budget to protect jobs back home, including on wasteful projects he said were diverting money needed for U.S. military forces battling everything from nuclear weapons to "18th century style piracy and 21st century cyber threats."

Obama thanked America's veterans and praised U.S. fighting forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he also spoke harshly of a "defense establishment (that) has yet to fully adapt to the post-Cold War world."

His speech, in the convention center in downtown Phoenix, was respectfully received by the veterans, who frequently interrupted him with polite applause.

Turning to the two current foreign wars engaging the United States, Obama spoke of fierce fighting against Taliban and other insurgents leading up to Thursday's national elections in Afghanistan.

He said U.S. troops are working to secure polling places so the elections can go forward and Afghans can choose their own future.

Attaining that peaceful future "will not be quick, nor easy," Obama said.

He said the United States still has a deep interest in the long-term outcome. "So this is not only a war worth fighting. ... This is fundamental to the defense of our people," he said.

He told the veterans that the U.S. didn't choose to fight in Afghanistan but was forced to invade that country to stop future Sept. 11-style attacks.

He said his new strategy recognizes that al-Qaida has moved its bases into remote areas of Pakistan and that military power alone will not win that war.

As to Iraq, Obama reiterated his commitment to remove all combat brigades by the end of next August and to remove remaining troops from the country by the end of 2011.

U.S. troops withdrew from cities and other urban areas in June.

At home, Obama noted that his administration was committed to increased spending on VA health care.

"And since there's been so much misinformation out there about health insurance reform, let me say this: One thing that reform won't change is veterans' health care. No one is going to take away your benefits. That is the plain and simple truth."

Obama said he was also directing each of the 57 regional VA offices "to come up with the best ways of doing business, harnessing the best information technologies, breaking through the bureaucracy."

He said the government would then pay to put the best ideas into action "all with a simple mission — cut these backlogs, slash those wait times and deliver your benefits sooner."

Assailing what he called wasteful spending, Obama told the VFW: "You've heard the stories, the indefensible no-bid contracts that cost taxpayers billions and make contractors rich."

He cited "the special interests and their exotic projects that are years behind schedule and billions over budget, the entrenched lobbyists pushing weapons that even our military says it doesn't want. The impulse in Washington to protect jobs back home building things we don't need has a cost that we can't afford."

Despite objections and veto threats from the White House, a $636 billion Pentagon spending bill was approved by a 400-30 vote in the House late last month. It contains money for a much-criticized new presidential helicopter fleet, cargo jets that the Pentagon says aren't needed and an alternative engine for the next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that military leaders say is a waste of money.

The Senate will deal with the spending measure in September.

The president laid out a vision of a nimble, well-armed and multilingual fighting force of the future, not one that was built to fight land battles against the Soviets in Europe.

"Because in the 21st century, military strength will be measured not only by the weapons our troops carry, but by the languages they speak and the cultures they understand," the president said.

He praised Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican and his opponent in the 2008 presidential contest, for joining him and Defense Secretary Robert Gates in opposing unneeded defense spending.

Shortly after Obama won the White House, McCain had pointedly suggested there was no need for the Marine Corps to bring on newer helicopters to ferry the president at a cost of billions of dollars.

"Now, maybe you've heard about this," Obama said of the helicopters. "Among its other capabilities, it would let me cook a meal while under nuclear attack. Now, let me tell you something. If the United States of America is under nuclear attack, the last thing on my mind will be whipping up a snack."


Text of Obama's VFW speech in Phoenix


August 17, 2009 - 10:44AM

Remarks of President Barack Obama

As Prepared For Delivery

Fulfilling America’s Responsibility to Those Who Serve

Veterans of Foreign Wars

Phoenix, Arizona

August 17, 2009

Thank you, Commander Gardner, for your introduction and for your lifetime of service. I was proud to welcome Glen and your executive director, Bob Wallace, to the Oval Office just before the Fourth of July, and I look forwarding to working with your next commander—Tommy Tradewell.

Let me also salute Jean Gardner and Sharon Tradewell, as well as Dixie Hild, Jan Title and all the spouses and family of the Ladies Auxiliary. America honors your service as well.

Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, I am honored and humbled to stand before you as Commander-in-Chief of the finest military the world has ever known. And we’re joined by some of those who make it the finest force in world—from Luke Air Force Base, members of the 56th Fighter Wing.

Whether you wear the uniform today, or wore it decades ago, you remind us of a fundamental truth. It’s not the powerful weapons that make our military the strongest in the world. It’s not the sophisticated systems that make us the most advanced. No, the true strength of our military lies in the spirit and skill of our men and women in uniform.

You know this. It is the story of your lives. When fascism seemed unstoppable and our harbor was bombed, you battled across rocky Pacific islands and stormed the beaches of Europe, marching across a continent—my own grandfather and uncle among your ranks—liberating millions and turning enemies into allies.

When communism cast its shadow across so much of the globe, you stood vigilant in a long Cold War—from an airlift in Berlin to the mountains of Korea to the jungles of Vietnam. When that Cold War ended and old hatreds emerged anew, you turned back aggression from Kuwait to Kosovo.

And long after you took off the uniform, you’ve continued to serve: supporting our troops and their families when they go to war and welcoming them when they come home; working to give our veterans the care they deserve; and when America’s heroes are laid to rest, giving every one that final fitting tribute of a grateful nation. We can never say it enough: for your service in war and in peace, thank you VFW.

Today, the story of your service is carried on by a new generation—dedicated, courageous men and women who I have the privilege to lead and meet every day.

They’re the young sailors—the midshipmen at the Naval Academy who raised their right hand at graduation and committed themselves to a life of service.

They’re the soldiers I met in Baghdad who have done their duty, year after year, on a second, third or fourth tour.

They’re the Marines of Camp Lejeune, preparing to deploy and now serving in Afghanistan to protect Americans here at home.

They’re the airmen, like those here today, who provide the close air support that saves the lives of our troops on the ground.

They’re the wounded warriors—at Landstuhl and Walter Reed and Bethesda and across America—for whom the battle is not to fight, but simply to speak, to stand, to walk once more.

They’re the families that my wife Michelle has met at bases across the country. The spouses back home doing the parenting of two. The children who wonder when mom or dad is coming home. The parents who watch their sons and daughters go off to war. The families who lay a loved one to rest—and the pain that lasts a lifetime.

To all those who have served America—our forces, your families, our veterans—you have done your duty. You have fulfilled your responsibilities. And now a grateful nation must fulfill ours. And that is what I want to talk about today.

First, we have a solemn responsibility to always lead our men and women in uniform wisely. This starts with a vision of American leadership that recognizes that military power alone cannot be the first or only answer to the threats facing our nation.

In recent years, our troops have succeeded in every mission America has given them, from toppling the Taliban to deposing a dictator in Iraq to battling brutal insurgencies. At the same time, forces trained for war have been called upon to perform a whole host of missions. Like mayors, they’ve run local governments and delivered water and electricity. Like aid workers, they’ve mentored farmers and built new schools. Like diplomats, they’ve negotiated agreements with tribal sheikhs and local leaders.

But let us never forget. We are a country of more than 300 million Americans. Less than one percent wears the uniform. And that one percent—our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen—have borne the overwhelming burden of our security. In fact, perhaps never in American history have so few protected so many.

The responsibility for our security must not be theirs alone. That is why I have made it a priority to enlist all elements of our national power in defense of our national security—our diplomacy and development, our economic might and our moral example. Because one of the best ways to lead our troops wisely is prevent the conflicts that cost American blood and treasure tomorrow.

As President, my greatest responsibility is the security and safety of the American people. As I’ve said before, this is the first thing that I think about when I wake up in the morning. It's the last thing that I think about when I go to sleep at night. And I will not hesitate to use force to protect the American people or our vital interests.

But as we protect America, our men and women in uniform must always be treated as what they are: America’s most precious resource. As Commander-in-Chief I have a solemn responsibility for their safety. And there is nothing more sobering than signing a letter of condolence to the family of serviceman or woman who has given their life for our country.

That is why I have made this pledge to our armed forces: I will only send you into harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary. When I do, it will be based on good intelligence and guided by a sound strategy. And I will give you a clear mission, defined goals and the equipment and support you need to get the job done.

That is our second responsibility to our armed forces—giving them the resources and equipment and strategies to meet their missions. We need to keep our military the best trained, the best-led, the best-equipped fighting force in the world. That’s why—even with our current economic challenges—my budget increases defense spending.

We will ensure that we have the force structure to meet today’s missions. That is why we’ve increased the size of the Army and Marines Corps two years ahead of schedule and have approved another temporary increase in the Army. And we’ve halted personnel reductions in the Navy and Air Force. This will give our troops more time home between deployments, which means less stress on families and more training for the next mission. And it will help us put an end, once and for all, to stop-loss for those have done their duty.

We will equip our forces with the assets and technologies they need to fight and win. So my budget funds more of the Army helicopters, crews and pilots urgently needed in Afghanistan; the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance that gives our troops the advantage; the special operations forces that can deploy on a moment’s notice. And for all those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, including our National Guard and Reserve, more of the protective gear and armored vehicles that saves lives.

As we fight in two wars, we will plan responsibly, budget honestly and speak candidly about the costs and consequences of our actions. That is why I’ve made sure my budget includes the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Iraq, after more than six years of war, we took an important step forward in June. We transferred control of all cities and towns to Iraq’s security services. The transition to full Iraqi responsibility for their own security is now underway. This progress is a testament to all those who have served in Iraq, uniformed and civilian. And our nation owes these Americans—and all who have given their lives—a profound debt of gratitude.

As they take control of their destiny, Iraqis will be tested and targeted. Those who seek to sow sectarian division will attempt more senseless bombings, more killing of innocents. This we know.

But as we move forward, the Iraqi people must know that the United States will keep its commitments. And the American people must know that we will move forward with our strategy. We will begin removing our combat brigades from Iraq later this year. We will remove all our combat brigades by the end of next August. And we will remove all our troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. And for America, the Iraq war will end.

By moving forward in Iraq, we’re able to refocus on the war against al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why I announced a new, comprehensive strategy in March. This strategy recognizes that al Qaeda and its allies had moved their base to the remote, tribal areas of Pakistan. This strategy acknowledges that military power alone will not win this war—that we also need diplomacy and development and good governance. And our new strategy has a clear mission and defined goals—to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies.

In the months since, we’ve begun to put this comprehensive strategy into action. And in recent weeks, we’ve seen our troops do their part. They’ve have gone into new areas—taking the fight to the Taliban in villages and towns where residents have been terrorized for years. They’re adopting new tactics, knowing that it’s not enough to kill extremists and terrorists; we also need to protect the Afghan people and improve their daily lives. And today, our troops are helping to secure polling places for this week’s election so Afghans can choose the future they want.

These new efforts have not been without a price. The fighting has been fierce. More Americans have given their lives. And as always, the thoughts and prayers of every American are with those who make the ultimate sacrifice in our defense.

As I said when I announced this strategy, there will be more difficult days ahead. The insurgency in Afghanistan didn’t just happen overnight. And we won’t defeat it overnight. This will not be quick. This will not be easy.

But we must never forget. This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people.

Going forward, we will constantly adapt our tactics to stay ahead of the enemy and give our troops the tools and equipment they need to succeed. And at every step of the way, we will assess our efforts to defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies, and to help the Afghan and Pakistani people build the future they seek.

Even as we lead and equip our troops for the missions of today, we have a third responsibility to fulfill. We must prepare our forces for the missions of tomorrow.

Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen adapt to new challenges everyday. But as we all know, much of our defense establishment has yet to fully adapt to the post-Cold War world, with doctrine and weapons better suited to fight the Soviets on the plains of Europe than insurgents in the rugged terrain of Afghanistan. Twenty years after the Cold War ended, this is not simply unacceptable. It is irresponsible. And our troops and taxpayers deserve better.

That is why our defense review is taking a top-to-bottom look at our priorities and posture, questioning conventional wisdom, rethinking old dogmas and challenging the status quo. We’re asking hard questions about the forces we need and the weapons we buy. And when we’re finished, we’ll have a new blueprint for the 21st century military we need. In fact, we’re already on our way.

We’re adopting new concepts—because the full spectrum of challenges demands a full range of military capabilities—the conventional and the unconventional, the ablilty to defeat both the armored division and the lone suicide bomber; the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and the Improvised Explosive Device; 18th-century-style piracy and 21st century cyber threats. No matter the mission, we must maintain America’s military dominance.

So even as we modernize our conventional forces, we’re investing in the capabilities that will reorient our force of the future: an Army that is more mobile and expeditionary and missile defenses that protect our troops in the field; a Navy that not only projects power across the oceans but operates nimbly in shallow, coastal waters; an Air Force that dominates the airspace with next-generation aircraft—manned and unmanned; a Marine Corps that can move ashore more rapidly in more places. And across the force, we’re investing in new skills and specialties. Because in the 21st century, military strength will be measured not only by the weapons our troops carry, but by the languages they speak and the cultures they understand.

But here’s the simple truth. We can’t build the 21st century military we need—and maintain the fiscal responsibility that Americans demand—unless we fundamentally reform the way our defense establishment does business. It’s a simple fact. Every dollar wasted in our defense budget is a dollar we can’t spend to care for our troops, protect America or prepare for the future.

You know the story. The indefensible no-bid contracts that cost taxpayers billions and make contractors rich. The special interests and their exotic projects that are years behind schedule and billions over budget. The entrenched lobbyists pushing weapons that even our military says it doesn’t want. The impulse in Washington to protect jobs back home building things we don’t need at a cost we can’t afford.

This waste would be unacceptable at any time. But at a time when we’re fighting two wars and facing a serious deficit, it’s inexcusable. It’s unconscionable. It’s an affront to the American people and to our troops. And it’s time for it to stop.

This isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. It’s about giving our troops the support they need. And that’s something on which all Americans can agree. So I’m glad that I have a partner in this effort in a great veteran, a great Arizonan, and a great American who has shown the courage to stand and fight this waste—Senator John McCain. And I’m proud to have Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—who has served under eight presidents of both parties—leading this fight at the Pentagon.

Already, I’ve put an end to unnecessary no-bid contracts. I signed bipartisan legislation to reform defense procurement so weapons systems don’t spin out of control. And even as we increase spending on the equipment and weapons our troops do need, we have proposed cutting tens of billions of dollars in waste we don’t need.

Think about it. Hundreds of millions of dollars for an alternate second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter—when one reliable engine will do just fine. Nearly two billion dollars to buy more F-22 fighter jets when we can move ahead with a fleet of newer, more affordable aircraft. Tens of billions of dollars to put an anti-missile laser on a fleet of vulnerable 747s.

And billions of dollars for a new presidential helicopter. Maybe you heard about this. Among other capabilities, it would let me cook a meal while under nuclear attack. I’ll tell you something. If the United States of America is under nuclear attack, the last thing on my mind will be whipping up a snack.

It’s simple enough. Cut the waste. Save taxpayer dollars. Support the troops. But we all know how Washington works. The special interests, contractors and entrenched lobbyists are invested in the status quo. And they’re putting up a fight.

But make no mistake, so are we. If a project doesn’t support our troops, we will not fund it. If a system doesn’t perform, we will terminate it. And if Congress sends me a defense bill loaded with that kind of waste, I will veto it. We will do right by our troops and taxpayers. We will build the 21st century military we need.

Finally, we will fulfill our responsibility to those who serve by keeping our promises to our people.

We will fulfill our responsibility to our forces and families. That is why we’re increasing military pay, building better family housing and funding more childcare and counseling to help families cope with the stresses of war. And we’ve changed the rules so military spouses can better compete for federal jobs and pursue their careers.

We will fulfill our responsibility to our wounded warriors. For those still in uniform, we’re investing billions of dollars for more treatment centers, more case managers and better medical care so our troops can recover and return to where they want to be—with their units.

But for so many veterans the war rages on—the flashbacks that won’t go away, the loved ones who now seem like strangers, the heavy darkness of depression that has led too many of our troops to take their own lives. Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury are the defining injuries of today’s wars. So caring for those affected by them is a defining purpose of my budget—billions of dollars for more treatment and mental health screening to reach our troops on the frontlines and more mobile and rural clinics to reach veterans back home. We will not abandon these American heroes.

We will fulfill our responsibility to our veterans as they return to civilian life. I was proud to co-sponsor the Post-9/11 GI Bill as a senator. Thanks to VFW members across the country—and leaders like Arizona’s Harry Mitchell in Congress—it’s now the law of the land. And as President, I’m committed to seeing that it is successfully implemented.

For so many of you, like my grandfather, the original GI Bill changed your life—helping you to realize your dreams. And it transformed America—helping to build the largest middle class in history. We’re saying the same thing to today’s Post-9/11 veterans—you pick the school, we’ll help pick up the bill.

And as these veterans start showing up on campuses, I’m proud that we’re making this opportunity available to all those who have sacrificed, including reservists and National Guard members and spouses and children, including kids who’ve lost their mom or dad. In an era when so many people and institutions have acted irresponsibly, we chose to reward the responsibility and service of our forces and their families.

Whether you left the service in 2009 or 1949, we will fulfill our responsibility to deliver the benefits and care that you earned. That’s why I’ve pledged to build nothing less than a 21st-century VA. And I picked a lifelong soldier and a wounded warrior from Vietnam to lead this fight—General Ric Shinseki.

We’re dramatically increasing funding for veterans health care. This includes hundreds of millions of dollars to serve veterans in rural areas as well as the unique needs of our growing number of women veterans. We’re restoring access to VA health care for a half-million veterans who lost their eligibility in recent years—our Priority 8 veterans.

And since there's been so much misinformation out there about health insurance reform, let me say this. One thing that reform won't change is veterans health care. No one is going to take away your benefits. That's the truth.

We’re keeping our promise on concurrent receipt. My budget ensures that our severely disabled veterans will receive both their military retired pay and their VA disability benefits. And I look forward to signing legislation on advanced appropriations for the VA so that the medical care you need is never held up by budget delays.

I’ve also directed Secretary Shinseki to focus on a top priority—reducing homelessness among veterans. Because after serving their country, no veteran should be sleeping on the streets.

And we’re keeping our promise to fulfill another top priority at the VA—cutting the red tape and inefficiencies that cause backlogs and delays in the claims process. This spring, I directed the departments of defense and veterans affairs to create one unified lifetime electronic health record for members of the armed forces—a single electronic record, with privacy guaranteed, that will stay with them forever. Because after fighting for America, you shouldn’t have to fight over paperwork to receive the benefits you earned.

Today, I can announce that we’re taking another step. I have directed my Chief Performance Officer, my Chief Technology Officer and my Chief Information Officer to join with Secretary Shinseki in a new reform effort. We’re launching a new competition to capture the very best ideas of our VA employees who work with you every day.

We’re going to challenge each of our 57 regional VA offices to come up with the best ways of doing business, harnessing the best information technologies, breaking through the bureaucracy.

And then we’re going to fund the best ideas and put them into action. All with a simple mission—cut those backlogs, slash those wait times and deliver your benefits sooner. I know, you’ve heard this for years. But with the leadership and resources we’re providing, I know we can do this. And that is our mission.

Taken together, these investments represent an historic increase in our commitment to America’s veterans—a 15 percent increase over last year’s funding levels and the largest increase in the VA budget in more than 30 years. And over the next five years we’ll invest another $25 billion more.

These are major investments, and these are difficult times. Fiscal discipline demands that we make hard decisions—sacrificing certain things we cannot afford. But let me be clear. America’s commitments to its veterans are not just lines in a budget. They are bonds that are sacrosanct—a sacred trust we are honor bound to uphold. And we will.

These are the commitments we make to the patriots who serve—from the day they enlist to the day they are laid to rest. Patriots like you. Patriots like Jim Norene.

His story is his own, but in it we see the larger story of all who serve. A child of the Depression who grew up to join that greatest generation. A paratrooper in the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne. Jumping in a daring daylight raid into Holland to liberate a captive people. Rushing to Bastogne at the Battle of the Bulge where his commanding general—surrounded by the Germans and asked to surrender—declared, famously, “Nuts.”

For his bravery, Jim was awarded the Bronze Star. But like so many others, he rarely spoke of what he did or what he saw—reminding us that true love of country is not boisterous or loud but, rather, the “tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”

He returned home and built a life. Went to school on the GI Bill. Got married. Raised a family in his small Oregon farming town. And every Veterans Day, year after year, he visited schoolchildren to speak about the meaning of service. And he did it all as a proud member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Then, this spring, Jim made a decision. He would return to Europe once more. Eighty-five years old, frail and gravely ill, he knew he might not make it back home. But like the paratrooper he always was, he was determined.

Near Bastogne, he returned to the places he knew so well. At a Dutch town liberated by our GIs, schoolchildren lined the sidewalks and sang The Star-Spangled Banner. And in the quiet clearing of an American cemetery, he walked among those perfect lines of white crosses of fellow soldiers who had fallen long ago, their names forever etched in stone.

Then—back where he had served 65 years before—Jim Norene passed away. At night. In his sleep. Quietly. Peacefully. The “tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”

The next day, I was privileged to join the commemoration at Normandy to mark that day when the beaches were stormed and a continent was freed. There were presidents and prime ministers and veterans from the far corners of the earth. But long after the bands stopped playing and the crowds stopped cheering, it was the story of a departed VFW member that echoed in our hearts.

Veterans of Foreign Wars, you have done your duty—to your fallen comrades, to your communities, to your country. You’ve always fulfilled your responsibilities to America. And so long as I am President, America will always fulfill its responsibilities to you.

God bless you. God bless all our veterans. And God bless the United States of America.

Macayo's? A place that sells White people food that pretends to be Mexican food! Gringo food that looks like Mexican food! Nada mas!

Obama doesn't know nothing about finding good Mexican food compared to what he does about giving giving out billion dollar handouts of corporate welfare to rich corporations.

Let's sum up Macayo's in two words! Macayo's sucks!


Obamas' Macayo's pick leaves locals baffled

The Obama family's surprise visit to Macayo's Mexican Kitchen Saturday night sent many Valley foodies and burro enthusiasts into a tizzy.

Instead of chowing down at one of the area's many local, independent Mexican joints, the First Family opted to celebrate the birthday of Barack Obama's half-sister at the central Phoenix restaurant, the flagship in a chain of 18 Macayo's in Arizona and Nevada.

On Twitter, a number of observers knocked the president's choice.

lafinguy wrote: "Obama & fam ate at Macayo's on Central? Damn. Too bad they couldn't enjoy good Mexican food while they were here."

Added neilends: "I mean really, which moron staffer for the Arizona Dems recommended to White House staff that he eat at Macayo's?"

But there may be several good reasons why the White House -- and the Secret Service, who scoped the place out before the Obamas arrived -- went with Macayo's.

It's a short drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where the Obamas landed Saturday evening. The restaurant has a second-floor dining area, where the family ate, providing privacy and better security.

And the casual, family-friendly eatery, known for its faux Mayan temple facade, likely appealed to daughters Malia,11, and Sasha, 8, who along with First Lady Michelle Obama are accompanying the president on his trip to Arizona.

Obama ordered the Triple Combo Fajitas de Macayo, which includes beef, chicken and shrimp, a waitress told media outlets. He also had a margarita straight up.

Sampling the local Mexican fare has been a pastime of past presidents.

In the 1999, Bill Clinton rode out a monsoon noshing on tacos and chimichangas at Poncho's Mexican Food and Cantina in south Phoenix. The restaurant painted a mural of the former president at the table where he ate.

While president in 2004, George W. Bush ordered the enchiladas, rice and beans at Tee Pee Mexican Food on Indian School Road. The combo is now called the "presidential platter."

"Bush ate at TeePee; Obama ate at Macayo's. Bipartisan mediocrity? Where's the change I voted for? ;)" tweeted David_SB.

After touring the Grand Canyon, the Obamas will be returning to Phoenix this afternoon. Where would you recommend they eat?

-- Scott Wong

Obama gets some votes for his re-election in 2012 from the war-mongering Veterans of Foreign Wars crowd!


Health-care remarks draw biggest applause

by Dan Nowicki, Daniel González and

Ken Alltucker - Aug. 18, 2009 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic

Even in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, President Barack Obama couldn't escape the overarching issue of the day: health-care reform.

Though Obama's speech Monday to the VFW's national convention in downtown Phoenix included updates on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and a broadside against wasteful spending by the "defense establishment," the president drew the most positive reaction with promises not only to protect but also boost veterans' health-care benefits.

"Since there's been so much misinformation out there about health-insurance reform, let me say this: One thing that reform won't change is veterans' health care," Obama told the crowd of a few thousand mostly older veterans and family members.

"No one is going to take away your benefits - that is the plain and simple truth. We're expanding access to your health care, not reducing it."

At the moment, health care is weighing heavily on America's collective conscious.

Outside the Phoenix Convention Center, the health-care debate raged through protests and counterdemonstrations. Nationally, lawmakers and special interests criticized Sunday's news that the White House may be backing off a controversial "public option" in the evolving health-care legislation. The August congressional recess has been characterized by sometime-raucous town halls with angry constituents.

Obama's 33-minute speech at the annual VFW gathering, delivered about an hour earlier than scheduled, capped the president's third trip to Arizona since taking office in January.

Veterans in attendance confirmed their concerns about health care and generally praised Obama for his support.

"It surprised me that he was so in favor of the veterans' benefits, because we had heard that they were planning to cut them," said Paul Sausedo, 63, a Vietnam War veteran from VFW Post 6310 in Tolleson.

"But from what he said, they're going to improve our benefits for the veterans. I hope he comes through with what he has promised. He seems like he's real concerned about the issues."

Other veterans echoed Sausedo's sense of relief.

"I feel a lot more secure right now," said Stanley Wengert, 77, of Modesto, Calif., who served in the Air Force from 1951 through 1974 and had heard rumors that veterans benefits may be at risk.

Obama's remarks went to the heart of what is ailing many of America's former fighting men and women.

He said his administration and Congress are "dramatically increasing funding for veterans' health care" and characterized post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury as "the defining injuries of today's wars." He said his budget includes billions of dollars more for treatment and mental-health screenings to reach troops on the frontlines and to provide mobile and rural clinics to reach veterans back home.

"We will fulfill our responsibility to our wounded warriors," Obama said.

"But as the VFW well knows, for so many veterans, the war rages on: the flashbacks that won't go away, the loved ones who now seem like strangers, the heavy darkness of depression that has led to too many of our troops taking their own lives."

Sausedo said he has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder ever since he served as an Army infantryman in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967.

"I had recurring nightmares, nightmares of people I killed. Every so often, I wake up in a cold sweat thinking about it," said Saucedo, who said it's vital that returning Iraq and Afghanistan vets receive the treatment that he did not start getting until about four years ago.

"When I came home, I was very angry," he said. "That is how I lost my first wife."

In Phoenix, the veterans health system has used a large increase in funding to hire eight more psychiatrists to treat rising numbers of soldiers returning from war with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Within the last year, there has been a lot more support geared toward mental health," said Gabriel Pérez, medical director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System.

Monroe Todd, 60, commander of VFW Post 9560 in Folkston, Ga., said his post-traumatic-stress claim has stalled, but he was heartened by Obama's stated commitment to "cutting the red tape and inefficiencies that cause backlogs and delays in the claims process."

"He sounded good, but we hope the staff will be able to do it," said Todd, who served in Vietnam.

Dave Hampton, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Veterans Services, said the time it takes for benefits claims to be processed is a major issue and was encouraged to hear that Obama wants to cut the time.

"The amount of time is way too long, six to nine months," he said.

Obama said he directed the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to create one unified lifetime electronic health record for members of the armed forces aimed at cutting down on paperwork and reducing backlogs that delay benefits.

The administration also has directed the 57 regional VA officers to come up with ways to streamline the bureaucracy.

Richard Anderson, 69, a Vietnam veteran and chief of staff of the VFW of Tennessee, said he appreciated Obama mentioning the recently enacted Post-9/11 GI bill that will help spouses and children of veterans pay for college.

"That will be a big savings for parents," Anderson said.

At the event, Obama praised Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., for his work on the new GI bill.

Bill Talcott, 65, a Vietnam veteran and Republican who served in the Army, said he was impressed by the president's speech.

"He touched on all the right buttons. He said all the things we wanted to hear," he said, mentioning Obama's vow to defeat al-Qaida, support troops with the equipment they need and maintain health-care benefits to veterans.

I bet gun grabbers President Barack Obama and Congressman Harry Mitchell are mad they missed the chance to steal this mans gun!

And the big question is David Dorn going to start spreading lies that Chris is a government snitch because Chris doesn't like to give out his last name?

F* off David Dorn! Get off of my web page and never come back here you jerk!


August 18, 2009 |

Man makes legal point of right to bear arms

by Scott Wong - Aug. 18, 2009 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic

Man with a pistol and an AR-15 rifle makes legal point of right to bear arms Neatly dressed in a white shirt, black tie and gray slacks, a man who identified himself only as Chris joined the health-care debate outside the Phoenix Convention Center on Monday with a pistol at his side and an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle on his shoulder.

Arizona is an "open-carry" state, which means anyone legally allowed to have a firearm can carry it in public as long as it's visible. A permit is required if the weapon is concealed.

"Because I can do it," Chris said when asked why he brought guns to the rally outside President Barack Obama's speech to the national VFW convention. "In Arizona, I still have some freedoms left."

"What he is doing is perfectly legal," said Detective J. Oliver of the Phoenix Police Department.

Detectives monitored about a dozen people carrying weapons.

This is at least the third time this month that a demonstrator has taken a gun to a health-care-related event. At an Obama town hall last week in New Hampshire, also an open-carry state, William Kostric, 36, formerly of Scottsdale, stood outside with a gun holstered at his thigh.

Early this month, a protester dropped a gun on the floor during a town hall with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.

Macayos serves the same stuff they serve at Denny's. Execpt the food has Mexican names instead of gringo names. Buts it's just as bland and tasteless as the stuff at Denny's.

Imagine that armed thugs watching the cooks as they make the Emperor's food!


Obamas pay surprise visit to Phoenix Macayo's

by By Karen Fernau and Randy Cordova -

Aug. 17, 2009 04:00 PM

The Arizona Republic

A half-hour before the private party of 10 arrived Saturday at Macayo's Mexican Kitchen on Central Avenue in Phoenix, the restaurant staff learned of its cut of the presidential stimulus program: The name of the party, "Christina," booked for 6:30 p.m. was fake. The real guests were Barack Obama and family.


Cuisine: Mexican.

Details: 4001 N. Central Ave. Phoenix, AZ. 85012. 602-264-6141.

Price: Under $20.

Secret Service agents posted themselves in the kitchen to make sure nobody tampered with the food. The two waitresses previously assigned to the private party were told of the presidential visit, and guests in the main dining room were not.

"It was quite a surprise, and exciting," manager Jennifer Villa said. "They entered the second-floor private dining room through a private entrance and were very nice, regular people."

As regular as anyone else arriving with an armed entourage, anyway.

Paul Pedersen didn't expect to spend Saturday night sitting in the same restaurant as Obama, but as the Phoenix training manager was driving with some friends to pick up some takeout food from Chipotle, he saw a very presidential-looking motorcade moving up Third Street. When the caravan stopped at Macayo's, Pedersen changed his plans.

"We figured if Macayo's is good enough for the president, it's good enough for us," he quipped.

Pedersen and his pals didn't actually see Obama, because the president and his family had a private room upstairs. But he said the restaurant was buzzing about being in such close proximity to the leader of the free world.

"Everyone in the restaurant was pretty stoked up," Pedersen said. "I joked to the waitress that I'll have whatever Barack is having."

Obama ordered the beef, chicken and shrimp fajita platter. His wife, Michelle, ordered fish tacos and the 65-year-old eatery's signature beef tamale. Both ordered margaritas. Daughters, Malia, 11, and Sasha, 8, ordered quesadillas. They ate a "normal" amount of chips and salsa, Villa said.

Since news of the Obamas' meal went public, Macayo's, opened in 1946 by high-school sweethearts Woody and Victoria Johnson, has been flooded with diners ordering what the first family ate and asking to sit at the same table where the family gathered to celebrate the birthday of Obama's half-sister.

So why did the Obamas - seasoned Mexican-food eaters and regulars at the internationally celebrated Mexican-food eatery of celebrity chef Rick Bayless in Chicago - pick Macayo's, a fine restaurant but one not known for gourmet flair?

Villa credits the storied history of the family-owned Mexican-food chain, top-notch food and snap service.

Howard Seftel, the Arizona Republic restaurant critic, believes the decision was driven more by politics than culinary preferences.

"It was brilliant politically," Seftel said. "It's a locally owned, middle-of-the-road Mexican-food restaurant that serves food that everybody is familiar with. It shows that he is not an elitist, but rather eats food that most people can identify with. Presidents come to Phoenix and eat Mexican food, not a $150 steak dinner."

Reed Johnson, director of operations for the Valley chain, said the restaurant was surprised by the presidential visit.

"Things got kind of strange when people showed up around 2:30 to check out the restaurant," Johnson said. "Then they shut down the road, so you kind of figured something big was going on."

The president proved to be a generous tipper, Johnson said, though he declined to name the amount. Shrewd move, as that should help guarantee a return visit. Still, he's not sure why the family initially chose the restaurant.

"I hope it's our good food and our name," he said. "Maybe it's part of the thing about being a family-owned institution in Phoenix and that we've been around for 63 years?"

The president signed a menu for the eatery, which Johnson will frame and put on display.

In 1999, President Bill Clinton rode out a monsoon eating tacos and chimichangas at Poncho's Mexican Food and Cantina in south Phoenix. To commemorate, the restaurant painted a mural of the former president at his table.

Not to be outdone, President George W. Bush dined in 2004 at east Phoenix's Tee Pee.The only glitch at Macayo's Saturday came just prior to serving the birthday cake. Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama's half-sister, was celebrating her 39th birthday.

"The birthday cake was really tall, and we needed to take a big knife upstairs so they could cut the cake," Villa said. "But the wait staff got nervous, for security reasons, about carrying a big knife up the stairs and into the room with the president and his family.

So the staff asked for and received prior approval from the presidential security detail."

"A venue is considered a federal site when the Secret Service is protecting the president, and weapons are not allowed on a federal site" - Interesting! The Secret Service says the 2nd Amendment is null and void when the President is around!


Man carries assault rifle to Obama protest -- and it's legal

PHOENIX, Arizona (CNN) -- A man toting an assault rifle was among a dozen protesters carrying weapons while demonstrating outside President Obama's speech to veterans on Monday, but no laws were broken. It was the second instance in recent days in which weapons have been seen near presidential events.

A man is shown legally carrying a rifle at a protest against President Obama on Monday in Phoenix, Arizona.

Video from CNN affiliate KNXV shows the man standing with other protesters, with the rifle slung over his right shoulder, a handgun in a holster on his left hip and a bullet clip in his back pocket.

"I'm exercising my rights as an American in Arizona," the man, who refused to give his name, told KNXV.

Phoenix police said authorities monitored about a dozen people carrying weapons while peacefully demonstrating.

"It was a group interested in exercising the right to bear arms," police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill said.

Arizona law has nothing in the books regulating assault rifles, and only requires permits for carrying concealed weapons. So despite the man's proximity to the president, there were no charges or arrests to be made. Hill said officers explained the law to some people who were upset about the presence of weapons at the protest.

"I come from another state where 'open carry' is legal, but no one does it, so the police don't really know about it and they harass people, arrest people falsely," the man said. "I think that people need to get out and do it more so that they get kind of conditioned to it."

The man, wearing a shirt and tie at the health care rally, added that he was unhappy with some health care reform proposals.

"I'm absolutely, totally against health care, health care in this way, in this manner," he said. "Stealing it from people, I don't think that's appropriate."

Gun-toting protesters have demonstrated around the president before. Last week, a man protesting outside Obama's town hall meeting in New Hampshire had a gun strapped to his thigh. That state also doesn't require a license for open carry.

U.S. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan acknowledged the incidents in New Hampshire and Arizona, but said he was not aware of any other recent events where protesters attended with open weapons. He said there was no indication that anyone had organized the incidents.

Asked whether the individuals carrying weapons jeopardized the safety of the president, Donovan said, "Of course not."

The individuals would never have gotten close to the president, regardless of any state laws on openly carrying weapons, he said. A venue is considered a federal site when the Secret Service is protecting the president, and weapons are not allowed on a federal site, he said. [Interesting, the Secret Service says that all Arizona laws are null and void when the President is nearby! I guess the SS says the 2nd Amendment is also null and void when the President is around! Heil Hitler! I mean Heil Obama!]

In both instances, the men carrying weapons were outside the venues where Obama was speaking.

"We pay attention to this obviously ... to someone with a firearm when they open carry even when they are within state law," Donovan said. "We work with our law enforcement counterparts to make sure laws and regulations in their states are enforced."

Man carrying assault weapon attends Obama protest! So what! This is Arizona!!!!


Man carrying assault weapon attends Obama protest

By AMANDA LEE MYERS and TERRY TANG, Associated Press Writers Amanda Lee Myers And Terry Tang, Associated Press Writers – Tue Aug 18, 8:53 am ET

PHOENIX – About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside the convention center where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday — the latest incident in which protesters have openly displayed firearms near the president.

Gun-rights advocates say they're exercising their constitutional right to bear arms and protest, while those who argue for more gun control say it could be a disaster waiting to happen.

Phoenix police said the gun-toters at Monday's event, including the man carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder, didn't need permits. No crimes were committed, and no one was arrested.

The man with the rifle declined to be identified but told The Arizona Republic that he was carrying the assault weapon because he could. "In Arizona, I still have some freedoms," he said.

Phoenix police Detective J. Oliver, who monitored the man at the downtown protest, said police also wanted to make sure no one decided to harm him.

"Just by his presence and people seeing the rifle and people knowing the president was in town, it sparked a lot of emotions," Oliver said. "We were keeping peace on both ends."

Last week, during Obama's health care town hall in Portsmouth, N.H., a man carrying a sign reading "It is time to water the tree of liberty" stood outside with a pistol strapped to his leg.

"It's a political statement," he told The Boston Globe. "If you don't use your rights, then you lose your rights."

Police asked the man to move away from school property, but he was not arrested.

Fred Solop, a Northern Arizona University political scientist, said the incidents in New Hampshire and Arizona could signal the beginning of a disturbing trend.

"When you start to bring guns to political rallies, it does layer on another level of concern and significance," Solop said. "It actually becomes quite scary for many people. It creates a chilling effect in the ability of our society to carry on honest communication."

He said he's never heard of someone bringing an assault weapon near a presidential event. "The larger the gun, the more menacing the situation," he said.

Phoenix was Obama's last stop on a four-day tour of western states, including Montana and Colorado.

Authorities in Montana said they received no reports of anyone carrying firearms during Obama's health care town hall near Bozeman on Friday. About 1,000 people both for and against Obama converged at a protest area near the Gallatin Field Airport hangar where the event took place. One person accused of disorderly conduct was detained and released, according to the Gallatin Airport Authority.

Heather Benjamin of Denver's Mesa County sheriff's department, the lead agency during Obama's visit there, said no one was arrested.

Arizona is an "open-carry" state, which means anyone legally allowed to have a firearm can carry it in public as long as it's visible. Only someone carrying a concealed weapon is required to have a permit.

Paul Helmke, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said people should not be allowed to bring guns to events where Obama is.

"To me, this is craziness," he said. "When you bring a loaded gun, particularly a loaded assault rifle, to any political event, but particularly to one where the president is appearing, you're just making the situation dangerous for everyone."

He said people who bring guns to presidential events are distracting the Secret Service and law enforcement from protecting the president. "The more guns we see at more events like this, there's more potential for something tragic happening," he said.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said armed demonstrators in open-carry states such as Arizona and New Hampshire have little impact on security plans for the president.

"In both cases, the subject was not entering our site or otherwise attempting to," Donovan said. "They were in a designated public viewing area. The main thing to know is that they would not have been allowed inside with a weapon."

Representatives of the National Rifle Association did not return calls for comment.


White House Backs Right to Arms Outside Obama Events

But Some Fear Health Talks Will Spark Violence

By Alexi Mostrous

Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

America Obama has changed - Obama with a Hitler mustache Armed men seen mixing with protesters outside recent events held by President Obama acted within the law, the White House said Tuesday, attempting to allay fears of a security threat.

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said people are entitled to carry weapons outside such events if local laws allow it. "There are laws that govern firearms that are done state or locally," he said. "Those laws don't change when the president comes to your state or locality."

Anti-gun campaigners disagreed with Gibbs's comments, voicing fears that volatile debates over health-care reform are more likely to turn violent if gun control is not enforced.

"What Gibbs said is wrong," said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "Individuals carrying loaded weapons at these events require constant attention from police and Secret Service officers. It's crazy to bring a gun to these events. It endangers everybody."

The past week has seen a spate of men carrying firearms while milling outside meetings Obama has held to defend his health-care reform effort. On Monday, a man with an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle strapped to his shoulder was outside a veterans' event in Phoenix. He was one of a dozen men who reportedly had guns outside the forum.

Phoenix police made no arrests, saying Arizona law allows weapons to be carried in the open.

Last week, a man with a gun strapped to his leg held a sign outside an Obama town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., that read: "It's time to water the tree of liberty."

Before the same meeting, Richard Terry Young, a New Hampshire resident, was arrested by the Secret Service for allegedly having a loaded, unlicensed gun in his car. Young was stopped inside the school where Obama held the forum, having reportedly sneaked past a security perimeter.

Ed Donovan, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said incidents of firearms being carried outside presidential events are a "relatively new phenomenon." But he said the president's safety is not being jeopardized.

"We're well aware of the subjects that are showing up at these events with firearms," he said. "We work closely with local law enforcement to make sure that their very strict laws on gun permits are administered. These people weren't ticketed for events and wouldn't have been allowed inside and weren't in a position outside to offer a threat." The immediate area occupied by Obama on such trips is considered a federal site where weapons are not permitted, Donovan said.

Lawmakers holding tense town hall debates about health-care reform also have seen armed constituents. The staff of some, including Rep. Stephen I. Cohen (D-Tenn.), have taken precautions to guard against guns being brought into gatherings.

"We asked everyone with firearms to check them with the sheriff before we began the meeting," said Marilyn Dillihay, Cohen's chief of staff, describing an Aug. 8 town hall debate in Memphis. "We've never done that before." The decision was made because the number of people at the event and the subject of the debate created a "potentially a volatile situation," she said.

"Obviously there's a lot of emotion with health care," Dillihay said. "Feelings are very tense, and we were just trying to make sure that things were safe."

One man at the meeting disclosed that he had a firearm and complied with a request to put it in his vehicle, she said.

Other lawmakers said they intended to take no precautions in future town hall meetings or to ask the advice of local law enforcement. C.J. Karamargin, a spokesman for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), said the congresswoman will "balance rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment and providing her constituents with a safe forum to share their views."

Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino, said concern about whether Obama will enact new gun restrictions may also be contributing to the tense political climate.

"There's a lot of anger out there," Levin said.

"A key thing that's been bubbling under the surface is what's going on with President Obama and guns," he said. "There is a real question mark not only for extremists but for gun rights advocates in the mainstream."

Staff writer Carrie Johnson contributed to this report.


D.C. delegate calls for ban on guns near Obama

By Jordy Yager

Posted: 08/19/09 05:51 PM [ET]

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) called on the Homeland Security Department and the U.S. Secret Service on Wednesday to provide tighter restrictions on citizens carrying weapons, openly or concealed, while in the vicinity of President Barack Obama.

Norton, who sits on the Homeland Security Committee, made the request after numerous news reports have shown groups of people brandishing firearms while outside of events held by Obama over the past several weeks.

“It is clear that if the Secret Service can temporarily clear all aircraft from air space when the president is in the vicinity, the agency has the authority to clear guns on the ground that are even closer to the President,” Norton said. [ Gee I guess she if right. If the Secret Service can unconstitutionally ban all air travel within 30 miles of the President, they should be able to also flush the 2nd Amendment down the toilet and ban all guns within 30 miles of the President!]

But the Secret Service says that Obama was never in danger when a group of about a dozen protesters brandished their firearms outside the Phoenix convention center earlier this week where he was speaking.

One man carried an AR-15 assault rifle, but Arizona law allows people to carry unconcealed guns and police made no arrests.

“This doesn’t change what already exists for Secret Service,” said Secret Service spokesman Malcolm Wiley of Norton’s request.

“Whenever the Secret Service travels somewhere in the country, we are able to determine what the security parameters will be for any particular site and anything within those parameters fall under federal law as far as being able to control what happens there.”

“So even if the state law says that you can have a gun as long as it’s not concealed, it doesn’t mean that you can bring a gun into a protected site.”

Norton has been battling with gun rights supporters for years because of the District’s former ban on handguns, which was struck down by the Supreme Court last year. More recently, a bill to grant the District a representational vote in Congress has stalled in the House because of an amendment that would make it easier to own a gun in D.C.

The Arizona event followed a similar instance in New Hampshire – which has open-carry laws – last week when police arrested a man for having a loaded, unlicensed gun in his car near where Obama was set to hold a healthcare-related forum. Another man outside of that event had a licensed handgun strapped to his leg and held a sign that read: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

“In both instances, those guys were outside of the outer-most perimeter of security, so what would apply is state law,” said Wiley. “They never had any proximity to the president at any time. They weren’t trying to gain access to the event and they weren’t in a position outside the event where they could have affected the president.”

But the Brady Campaign, a gun control group, said that these increasing instances of brandishing firearms in public could lead to escalated scenarios in the future that put the president at risk because it stretches law enforcement thin.

“Law enforcement has to keep an eye on these people,” said Paul Helmke, president of the group. “So the more people [who] carry guns, the more people you need to keep an eye on them, which stretches limited resources further. You get an event like in Phoenix with maybe 12 or 13 people, what if at the next event there are 100? [wouldn't that be nice! 100+ armed citizens at the next Obama event] And when you take the law enforcement resources away, that makes the president more vulnerable.”

Larry Pratt, executive director of the Gun Owners of America, a gun rights group in Virginia, said that this is nothing new nor is it different than law-abiding gun owners bringing their weapons into restaurants, as they have been known to do periodically in the Commonwealth.

“There have been a few calls to the police and the police have come to the point now where they ask one question: ‘What are these gun carriers doing?’ And they get the response that they’re eating and say, ‘Well, if they start doing something, let us know.’ So when somebody goes to a rally, obviously if the president is there it’s going to get more attention, but I don’t think we’re really dealing with anything different.”

Steve Benson the cartoonist at the Arizona Republic drew this anti-gun cartoon as a result of the Obama event in Phoenix where a number of protesters showed up with guns!

Steve Benson works for free at his second job as a reserve police officer for the city of Gilbert. I think Steve Benson is a hypocrite because he thinks it’s ok for him and his cop friends to have guns, while he wants to keep us serfs from having guns.

Steve Benson who is a public servant as a police officer is given a gun by his master – “The People” to protect “The People”. I find it wrong that the servant who has a gun, demands that guns be taken away from his master “The People”.

Steve Benson is police officer who is also a gun grabber

I thought it was really great when Chris showed up with a AR-15 rifle at the Obama event. The gun grabbers at the Arizona Republic are certainly angry about it. And look at Steve Benson's cartoon. Benson appears to hate gun owners. Well execpt for cops who own guns. And Steve Benson is a reserve cop for the city of Gilbert. I guess Steve Benson thinks that only government goons like himself should have guns.


August 20, 2009 |

Yankee Doodle zealots should keep guns at home

Aug. 20, 2009 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic


Arizona gets a visit from the president of the United States and, a day later, the national headlines are trained on 12 attention-starved exhibitionists showing off their rifles and revolvers.

If that weren't embarrassing enough, we got the full tricorn and twaddle of these wannabe Patrick Henrys. "We will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority," said one. And so, Arizona's profile grows in the national eye. Land of sunsets, saguaros, assault rifles and Yankee Doodle.

Within living memory, we've had one president assassinated, one seriously wounded and one who escaped two assassination attempts. No wonder Americans are agog that a dozen people in Arizona thought it wise to strap on revolvers and parade around a U.S. president.

Anyone who believes in responsible gun ownership should worry. These armed protesters shot themselves in the foot and the kneecap and the thigh and noggin.

Dave Kopel, a gun-rights expert at the Independence Institute in Colorado, told the Christian Science Monitor that protesters are "trying to make a statement about Second Amendment rights, but they're doing it in a way that probably sets back that cause."

Even to KFYI radio, stalwart defenders of the Second Amendment, it all went way beyond the pale. Talk host Mike Broomhead, to his good credit, put a blowtorch to these loons. "When you bring the rifle, nobody cares about anything else! Just the rifle!"

One of the gun-toting patriots at the president's speech aired his grievances on a YouTube video. Showing off his AR-15 rifle, he talked about "forcefully" resisting, and told an Obama supporter, "Just because you sic the government on people doesn't make it morally OK to steal money from people. Taxation is theft."

Give it a rest, pal. This is how civilized society works: If you don't like how much you pay in taxes, there's a way to change that. Go and do the hard work of electing candidates who will make your case.

But to strap on a rifle and spew your threats tells us two things about you. One, you're lazy. Two, you're a thug.


Gun toter at Obama rally says he didn't seek spotlight

by Robert Anglen and JJ Hensley -

Aug. 21, 2009 01:20 PM

The Arizona Republic

The man who brought an assault rifle to President Barack Obama's rally on Monday in a staged media event that drew national attention is a Phoenix resident with ties to several anti-government or nativist groups.

The man, who until now has only been identified as "Chris B." is actually 28-year-old Christopher Broughton, a former employee of a Tempe plastic mold manufacturer who says he wasn't seeking a personal spotlight by arming himself and strolling through crowds of Obama supporters.

"I want attention brought to the ideas that I espouse," Broughton told The Arizona Republic, which confirmed his identity through relatives and former coworkers on Friday. "I don't think the political process works any more. It is done . . . This government is the most corrupt Mafioso on the face of the earth." Broughton, who reluctantly conceded that he was the gun-toting Chris B., shares membership in the same right-wing group with William Kostric, the man who brought a handgun to an Obama rally in New Hampshire last week.

Broughton and Kostric are both listed as "team members" of the Arizona chapter of We the People Foundation, which calls for "resistance ... against unconstitutional or illegal behavior by government officials."

In New Hampshire, Kostric stood outside the Obama town hall meeting with a gun strapped to his thigh and holding a sign proclaiming, "It is time to water the tree of liberty."

Broughton called the timing and the circumstances of the armed protests coincidental. Broughton said the rifle, a loaded AR-15 that he brought to the Phoenix rally, is a symbol of resistance, the modern-day equivalent of a pitchfork that citizens once took up in opposition to oppressive political leaders.

"It's a simple as this. The people who support government, the ones who like government, they are using government like a weapon," he said. "The government continues to take over more and more things. The government takes and spends, takes and spends."

Broughton came to the protest at the request of Ernest Hancock, a well-known Arizona Libertarian and host of conservative talk radio show "Declare Your Independence with Ernest Hancock." Hancock also came to the rally armed. The two, who have been acquainted for years from their joint work on the presidential campaign of Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, engaged in a staged interview that was later broadcast on You Tube.

Broughton said he had no desire to become a public figure.

"I don't want to be Joe-the-Plumber. I don't want to be famous. I'm hoping my 15 minutes are over."

Looks like that war in Afghanistan ain't going too well for Emperor Barack Obama. Remindes me of good old Vietnam and Emperor Richard Nixon!


Afghanistan poses tough choices for Obama

Posted 8/24/2009 7:39 AM ET

By Richard Lardner, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — With the nation's top military officer calling the situation in Afghanistan dire, President Barack Obama soon may face two equally unattractive choices: increase U.S. troops to beat back a resilient enemy, or stick with the 68,000 already committed and risk the political fallout if that's not enough. Adm. Mike Mullen on Sunday described the situation in Afghanistan as "serious and deteriorating," but refused to say whether additional forces would be needed.

American terrorist Admiral Mike Mullen "Afghanistan is very vulnerable in terms of (the) Taliban and extremists taking over again, and I don't think that threat's going to go away," he said.

Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is completing an assessment of what he needs to win the fight there. That review, however, won't specifically address force levels, according to Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

But military officials privately believe McChrystal may ask for as many as 20,000 additional forces to get an increasingly difficult security situation in Afghanistan under control. And one leading Republican is already saying McChrystal will be pressured to ask for fewer troops than he requires.

"I think there are great pressures on General McChrystal to reduce those estimates," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "I don't think it's necessarily from the president. I think it's from the people around him and others that I think don't want to see a significant increase in our troops' presence there."

Mullen also expressed concern about diminishing support among a war-weary American public as the U.S. and NATO enter their ninth year of combat and reconstruction operations.

In joint TV interviews, Mullen and U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry said last week's presidential election in Afghanistan was historic, given the threats of intimidation voters faced as they headed to polling stations. It could be several weeks, however, before it's known whether incumbent Hamid Karzai or one of his challengers won.

Charges of fraud in the election are extensive enough to possibly sway the final result, and the number of allegations is likely to grow, according to the independent Electoral Complaints Commission, the U.N.-backed body investigating the complaints.

Obama's strategy for defeating the Taliban and al-Qaida is a work in progress as more U.S. troops are sent there, Mullen said.

Three years ago, the U.S. had about 20,000 forces in the country. Today, it has triple that, on the way to 68,000 by year's end when all the extra 17,000 troops that Obama announced in March are in place. An additional 4,000 troops will help train Afghan forces.

Mullen said the security situation in Afghanistan needs to be reversed in the next 12 to 18 months.

"I think it is serious and it is deteriorating, and I've said that over the last couple of years, that the Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated," he said.

Just over 50 percent of respondents to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released this past week said the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting.

Mullen, a Vietnam veteran, said he's aware that public support for the war is critical. "Certainly the numbers are of concern," he said.

"We're just getting the pieces in place from the president's new strategy on the ground now," he said. "I don't see this as a mission of endless drift. I think we know what to do."

McChrystal's orders from Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were "to go out, assess where you are, and then tell us what you need," Mullen said.

"And we'll get to that point. And I want to, I guess, assure you or reassure you that he hasn't asked for any additional troops up until this point in time," he said.

Mullen and Eikenberry appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" and CNN's "State of the Union."

"Obama has said interrogators would not face charges if they followed legal guidelines" - looks like Obama is saying that torture is OK if your just following orders

"White House officials said they plan to continue the controversial practice of rendition of suspects to foreign countries" - Nothing has changed with Obama


CIA terror tactics spur changes, new probe

Aug. 25, 2009 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is setting strict new standards for treatment of terror suspects, as the Justice Department launches a criminal probe of past interrogation tactics during President George W. Bush's war on terrorism.

A newly declassified version of a CIA report revealed Monday that CIA interrogators once threatened to kill a Sept. 11 suspect's children and suggested another would be forced to watch his mother sexually assaulted.

The fresh crop of damaging revelations only intensified the long-running political fight about the secret interrogation program - whether it protected the United States then, and whether spilling its secrets now will weaken the nation's future security.

Top Republican senators said they were troubled by Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to begin a new criminal probe, which they said could hamper U.S. intelligence efforts.

And former Vice President Dick Cheney told The Weekly Standard, a conservative journal, that the decision "serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this administration's ability to be responsible for our nation's security."

On the other side, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the revelations showed the Bush administration went down a "dark road of excusing torture."

Holder said Monday he had chosen a veteran prosecutor, John Durham, to open a preliminary investigation to determine whether any CIA officers or contractors should face criminal charges for crossing the line on rough but permissible tactics. Durham already is investigating the destruction of CIA interrogation videos.

At the same time, President Barack Obama ordered changes in future interrogations, bringing in other agencies besides the CIA under the direction of the FBI and to be supervised by his own national security adviser. The administration pledged that questioning would be controlled by the Army Field Manual, with strict rules, and said the White House would keep its hands off the professional investigators doing the work.

Despite the announcement of the criminal probe, White House aides declared anew that Obama "wants to look forward, not back" at Bush-era tactics.

White House officials said they plan to continue the controversial practice of rendition of suspects to foreign countries, though they said that in future cases there would be greater safeguards to ensure such suspects are not tortured.

Monday's five-year-old report by the CIA's inspector general, newly declassified and released under a federal court's orders, described severe tactics used by interrogators on terror suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Seeking information about possible further attacks, interrogators threatened one detainee with a gun and a power drill, choked another and tried to frighten still another with a mock execution of another prisoner.

And other once-secret documents released late Monday show that parts of the CIA's tough treatment program continued even after Bush's September 2006 transfer of agency prisoners to the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden, appointed by Bush in 2006, expressed dismay at the prospect of prosecutions for CIA officers. He noted that career prosecutors already had reviewed and declined to prosecute the alleged abuses.

Obama has said interrogators would not face charges if they followed legal guidelines, but the report by the CIA's inspector general said they went too far - even beyond what was authorized under Bush era Justice Department legal memos that have since been withdrawn and discredited. The report also suggested some questioners knew they were crossing a line.

"Ten years from now we're going to be sorry we're doing this (but) it has to be done," one unidentified CIA officer was quoted as saying, predicting the questioners would someday have to appear in court to answer for such tactics.

The report concluded the CIA used "unauthorized, improvised, inhumane" practices in questioning "high-value" terror suspects.

In one instance cited in the new documents, Abd al-Nashiri, the man accused of being behind the 2000 USS Cole bombing, was hooded, handcuffed and threatened with an unloaded gun and a power drill. The unidentified interrogator also threatened al-Nashiri's mother and family, implying they would be sexually abused in front of him, according to the report.

The interrogator denied making a direct threat.

Another interrogator told alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, "if anything else happens in the United States, 'We're going to kill your children,' " one veteran officer said in the report.

Death threats violate anti-torture laws.

Investigators credited the detention-and-interrogation program for developing intelligence that prevented multiple attacks against Americans.

"In this regard, there is no doubt that the program has been effective," investigators wrote, backing an argument by former Cheney and others that the program saved lives.

But the inspector general said it was unclear whether so-called enhanced interrogation tactics contributed to that success. Those tactics included waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique that the Obama administration says was torture. Measuring the success of such interrogation is "a more subjective process and not without some concern," the report said.

The report described at least one mock execution, which would also violate U.S. anti-torture laws. To terrify one detainee, interrogators pretended to execute the prisoner in a nearby room. A senior officer said it was a transparent ruse that yielded no benefit.

We are royal rulers and can do anything we want! We are above the law and Constitution!


Cheney criticizes "political" CIA probe plan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney criticized President Barack Obama's ability to handle national security after the Justice Department appointed a special prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogation abuses.

Cheney, who has emerged as a vocal defender of Bush administration policies since leaving the White House, said the intelligence obtained from harsh interrogation techniques had saved lives.

"The people involved deserve our gratitude. They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions," he said in a statement dated Monday.

Cheney took issue with the Obama administration's decisions this week to have a special prosecutor investigate CIA prisoner abuse cases and to have a new group handling terrorism interrogations report to the White House.

"President Obama's decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel, and his decision to remove authority for interrogation from the CIA to the White House, serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this Administration's ability to be responsible for our nation's security," Cheney said.

Earlier this year, Cheney had asked the CIA to declassify two memos that he said showed the effectiveness of using harsh interrogation methods on terrorism suspects.

The CIA in May rejected that request, but on Monday released the documents, with classified portions blacked out.

"The activities of the CIA in carrying out the policies of the Bush Administration were directly responsible for defeating all efforts by al Qaeda to launch further mass casualty attacks against the United States," Cheney said.

Hmmm.... And Obama says that he doesn't think employees of the American government who are doing this torture in "good faith" should be prosecuted. Ain't a dimes difference between Obama and George W. Bush.


CIA details tactics in questioning detainees

Aug. 26, 2009 12:00 AM

Washington Post

WASHINGTON - As the session begins, the detainee stands naked, except for a hood covering his head. Guards shackle his arms and legs, then slip a small collar around his neck. The collar will be used later; according to CIA guidelines for interrogations, it will serve as a handle for slamming the detainee's head against a wall.

Five years after the CIA's secret detention program came to light, much is known about the spy agency's decision to use harsh techniques to pry information from suspected al-Qaida leaders. Now, with the release late Monday of guidelines for interrogating high-value detainees, the agency has provided the first detailed description of the procedures used to crush a detainee's will to resist.

"Certain interrogation techniques place the detainee in more physical and psychological stress and, therefore, are considered more effective tools," according to the memo, released under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Amnesty International USA and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In the initial days of detention, an assessment interview would determine whether the captive would cooperate willingly. If no such leads were volunteered, a coercive phase would begin.

Interrogations at CIA prisons occurred in special cells outfitted on one side with a plywood wall, to prevent severe head injuries. The nude, hooded detainee would be placed against the wall and shackled. Then the questioning would begin.

If there is no response, the interrogator would use an "insult slap" to immediately "correct the detainee or provide a consequence to a detainee's response."

Each failure would be met with increasingly harsher tactics. After slamming a detainee's head against the plywood barrier multiple times, the interrogator could douse him with water; or deprive him of toilet facilities and force him to wear a soiled diaper; or make him stand or kneel for long periods while shackled in a painful position.

Ain't a dimes worth of difference between Obama and Bush! They are both police state war mongers! Well Obama has a nicer personality and you will thank him after he reams you!

I can understand customs searching people for illegal contraband like drugs when they enter the USA. But searching your computer files and reading your private papers looking for illegal thoughts seems like a violation of the 4th and perhaps the 1st and 5th Amendments,


Bush policy on searching travelers will be retained

by Ellen Nakashima - Aug. 28, 2009 12:00 AM

Washington Post .

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration will largely preserve Bush-era procedures allowing the government to search, without suspicion of wrongdoing, the contents of a traveler's laptop computer, cellphone or other electronic device, although officials said new policies would expand oversight of such inspections.

The policy, disclosed Thursday in a pair of Department of Homeland Security directives, describes more fully than did the Bush administration the procedures by which travelers' laptops, iPods, cameras and other digital devices can be searched and seized when they cross a U.S. border. And it sets time limits for completing searches.

But representatives of civil-liberties and travelers groups say they see little substantive difference between the Bush-era policy, which prompted controversy, and this one.

"It provides a lot of procedural safeguards, but it doesn't deal with the fundamental problem, which is that under the policy, government officials are free to search people's laptops and cellphones for any reason whatsoever," said Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday framed the new policy as an enhancement of oversight.

"Keeping Americans safe in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully screen materials entering the United States," she said. "The new directives . . . strike the balance between respecting the civil liberties and privacy of all travelers while ensuring DHS can take the lawful actions necessary to secure our borders."

We are not a nation where the law is applyed equally to everybody!

Government rulers always try to say the everybody is equal under the law, but that is a bold face lie!


CIA probe shows Holder's sway

Prosecutor appointment sheds light on influence of Justice Department

by Carrie Johnson and Anne E. Kornblut - Aug. 28, 2009 12:00 AM

Washington Post .

WASHINGTON - Five weeks ago, faced with a crucial decision on how to react to brutal CIA interrogation practices, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. concluded it would be all but impossible to follow President Barack Obama's mandate to move forward, rather than investigate divisive episodes from the Bush war on terror.

Holder notified the White House that he reluctantly was leaning toward naming a prosecutor to review whether laws had been broken during interrogations - the very thing Obama had said he wanted to avoid. And the word he got back, according to people familiar with the conversations, was that the decision was up to him.

The back story to Monday's appointment of career prosecutor John Durham illustrates Holder's influence in the new administration and sheds light on the emerging and delicate relationship between the White House and the Justice Department. In this and other big battles, including the decision to release memos earlier this year by Bush administration officials giving the green light to harsh interrogation tactics, Holder and his Justice Department have prevailed over strong objections from the CIA and the intelligence community. Holder hasn't won every one of those battles, but he has won many. In this case, on a matter of civil liberties and national security, it signals a dynamic that could play out on a range of sensitive issues that will come to define the Obama administration.

Administrations dating at least back to the Richard M. Nixon have grappled with the balance between political sensibilities in the White House and the independence of the attorney general, the nation's top law enforcement officer.

This week, after Holder announced his decision to examine about 10 cases of detainee abuse by CIA interrogators in overseas prisons, the Obama White House described it as Holder's prerogative. But the official accounts did not mention Holder's conversations with the White House, nor Obama's own deep, if cautious, engagement with the issues.

"There are some things he recognizes are the attorney general's prerogative to do, but at the same time, it's not like he just says, 'Well, whatever he does, he'll do,' " a senior administration official said of the president. "He wants to make sure we take into account those decisions and take the appropriate steps within the White House to deal with them, particularly from the standpoint of making sure we maintain that very capable, robust counter-terrorism capability."

Holder is carving out his role in history, finding his comfort zone between such predecessors as Alberto Gonzales, widely considered to be too close to the Bush White House, and Janet Reno, who sometimes alienated President Clinton and the FBI with her stubborn independence and her investigations of cabinet members.

Holder's aides would not describe his thought process in the weeks leading up to the announcement. But Holder himself acknowledged the seriousness of the move and its possible fallout this week, saying that he shared the president's conviction that backward-looking inquiries could fracture the country.

"As Attorney General, my duty is to examine the facts and to follow the law," Holder said. "In this case, given all of the information currently available, it is clear to me that this review is the only responsible course of action for me to take."

For his part, Obama appears determined to enter relationships with his Cabinet members as a strategic participant. People who brief him say he is able to game out scenarios before the experts in the room, even on foreign policy, national security and other issues in which he had relatively little expertise before running for president.

Obama is approaching the issues as a game of "three dimensional chess," said John Brennan, an assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. "It's not kinetic checkers. And I think the approach in the past was kinetic checkers. There are moves that are made on the chess board that really have implications, so the president is always looking at those dimensions of it."


CIA Will Cover Legal Fees

Policy Will Help Officers Ensnared in Interrogation Probe

By Walter Pincus

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, August 28, 2009

CIA Director Leon Panetta decided Thursday that the agency will ensure legal representation for case officers who become caught up in investigations of alleged interrogation abuses of detainees at overseas locations, a senior intelligence official said.

Panetta's decision follows Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s appointment of a special prosecutor earlier this week to conduct a preliminary review of whether federal laws were violated during the interrogations. When working on controversial assignments, many CIA officers take out personal liability insurance, which sometimes reimburses legal fees if they face lawsuits or criminal charges, but others do not.

"Panetta will do everything he can to ensure that anyone who needs legal representation has it, whether they have liability insurance or not," said the senior intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak before the decision is publicly announced. "It's a question of fairness. People who did tough jobs for the country won't be left by the side of the road."

The new federal inquiry will be conducted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John H. Durham, who since 2008 has been investigating the destruction of CIA videotapes of detainees undergoing waterboarding.

In that investigation, Durham has asked agency contractors to give testimony before a grand jury in Alexandria next month, according to three sources familiar with the matter. It is not clear that the witnesses will testify.

Officials said the number of CIA employees seeking legal representation could grow larger than the relatively small number of people directly engaged in contact with detainees as Durham gathers information, interviews agency employees and takes testimony in his expanded inquiry.

Several CIA officials already have private lawyers being paid by insurance companies, and others are having fees covered directly by the agency. At least one officer has a lawyer working without charge, according to individuals familiar with the situation.

One insurance firm specializing in federal employee professional liability insurance, Wright & Co., charges $292 annually for coverage and pays up to $200,000 "in defense costs for federal government initiated administrative proceedings and investigations," according to its Web site. But experts said legal fees could run far higher than that for lengthy cases.

"Most CIA officers don't have much money and could go into debt to hire a good lawyer," said a lawyer who has represented an agency official in the past and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he may be involved in future investigations.

President Obama in April told senior CIA officials that the administration would not prosecute or investigate agency personnel in the wake of disclosure of Justice Department memos that first outlined harsh interrogation techniques.

In announcing Durham's inquiry on Monday, Holder said CIA officers "need to be protected from legal jeopardy when they act in good faith and within the scope of legal guidance."

Staff writer Carrie Johnson contributed to this report.

Obama, Bush - their ain't much difference!


N. Korea's offer to talk is dilemma for Obama

by Robert Burns - Aug. 28, 2009 12:00 AM

Associated Press .

WASHINGTON - After being portrayed for years as a reclusive villain with nuclear ambitions, it's North Korea that wants to talk. And it's the Obama administration - champion of engaging adversaries - that does not.

By insisting that it will not deal one-on-one with the North Koreans until they return to international negotiations on nuclear disarmament, has the administration maneuvered its way into a diplomatic bind?

So it would seem. "Clearly there is a little bit of tension in their current situation," said Bruce Bennett, a North Korea expert at the RAND Corp. think tank. He thinks the U.S. may have been outmaneuvered at this stage of a seesawing struggle that dates to 1992, when North and South Korea pledged to rid their peninsula of nuclear arms.

Since April, when North Korea abandoned the international negotiations known as the "six-party talks" with the U.S., South Korea, Japan, China and Russia, it has vowed to restart its nuclear-weapons production, conducted an underground atomic test and promised to "wipe out the aggressors on the globe once and for all" if the United States resorts to military action.

Just this week, the North said it was ready to talk - but only with the Americans. The State Department quickly responded by saying it would talk, but only as part of the six-party format.

The picture began to shift early this month when former President Bill Clinton visited Pyongyang and met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who agreed to free two U.S. journalists detained in the North.

The question now is how President Barack Obama will slip out of the predicament to regain the upper hand and take advantage of North Korea's new interest in talks.

One possibility, in Bennett's view, would be a U.S. decision to send its special envoy on North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, to Pyongyang for one-on-one talks as part of a broader consultation that would include separate visits to Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo and Moscow - the other players in the six-party approach.

That would get around the North Koreans' refusal to participate directly in the six-party talks. But it's not clear whether the U.S. partners - especially South Korea and Japan - would go along. The partners thus far have publicly expressed no willingness to let the U.S. bypass the six-party talks.

At stake is Obama's standing on the world stage, important at a time when he is juggling other high-priority national-security problems like wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, trouble in Pakistan and the prospect of a showdown with Iran over its own alleged ambition to build a nuclear weapon.

An even more primary worry is the potential for a nuclear-arms race in Asia. Many worry that if the North Koreans cannot be persuaded to irreversibly eliminate its nuclear program, Japan and South Korea might feel compelled to develop nuclear programs as a counterweight to the North.

That is one of the key reasons the Obama administration believes it cannot accept North Korea's offer to hold talks that do not include South Korea and Japan as well as former close North Korean allies China and Russia. That six-party format was started in 2003.

"We do not want to be disconnected from our regional partners," State Department spokesman Ian C. Kelly said Wednesday. "So when we have talks with the North Koreans on these kinds of security issues, we want to have these talks together with our partners. We don't want to disenfranchise them."

Sadly a large number of elected officials have the low ethics that Sen. Edward Kennedy showed here. They will do ANYTHING to get elected and stay in power!


Chappaquiddick a lasting taint

Kopechne's death derailed Kennedy's presidential hopes

by Michael Muskal - Aug. 27, 2009 12:00 AM

Los Angeles Times .

If there was a single event that ended Sen. Edward Kennedy's quest to become president and fulfill his family's legacy, it was probably the death of Mary Jo Kopechne in a car accident off the small Massachusetts island of Chappaquiddick.

Kennedy eventually pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury and received a suspended sentence. But the events that began with a party in summer 1969 came to haunt him, keeping him out of the sweepstakes for his party's presidential nomination during the next decade, when he arguably had his best shot at winning.

Chappaquiddick is an island near Martha's Vineyard. On July 18, 1969, Kennedy attended a party of the "boiler-room girls," six women who worked on Sen. Robert Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign. Kennedy was visiting a local regatta, and Kopechne attended the reunion.

Based on Kennedy's later statements to authorities, it was about 11:15 p.m. when he and Kopechne left after she had asked for a ride to the ferry going to Edgartown, Mass. They drove off in his Oldsmobile.

Kennedy testified later that he was driving at about 20 mph when he made a wrong turn onto a dark dirt road called Dike Road. Instead of the ferry, he faced a wooden bridge with no guardrail.

Kennedy said he braked but the heavy car drove off the side into Poucha Pond, where the vehicle landed upside down, underwater.

Kennedy said he swam out of the car, but Kopechne didn't.

He told authorities he called for the woman and tried to swim down to get her several times before taking a breather on the shore. He then returned to the party to get help from friends to try to rescue Kopechne.

Kennedy never called authorities and later said that after the failed rescue efforts, he swam across the channel to Edgartown, where he collapsed in his hotel room. He told authorities he slept fitfully, hoping that Kopechne had miraculously escaped.

The next morning, Kennedy met with friends, and they went back to the scene of the accident. He still hadn't reported the incident.

Around 8:30 a.m., a fisherman notified authorities of the overturned car. Divers discovered Kopechne's body inside.

The questions immediately began to swirl around Kennedy. Was he drunk that night, impairing his judgment and driving ability? Could Kopechne have been saved if help had arrived quickly? What was the nature of Kopechne's relationship with Kennedy? And, later, especially among conservative critics, were authorities too lenient because of Kennedy's political prominence?

Kennedy tried to address the issues in a televised statement on July 25, after he entered his plea to leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury.

Specifically, he denied having an "immoral" relationship with Kopechne and insisted he was not drunk. He acknowledged his actions after the incident made no sense to him but added that he had sustained a concussion and was in shock. He did not use his own medical condition as an excuse and said it was indefensible that he had not reported the accident.

Kennedy went on to ask the people of Massachusetts to decide whether he should resign. He won re-election the next year with 62 percent of the vote.

But questions continued and effectively ended his presidential hopes. Despite favorable polls, he withdrew from consideration for 1972, leaving the Democratic field open for George McGovern, who was trounced in the general election by Richard M. Nixon. Kennedy later withdrew from the Democratic nomination race in 1976, when a little-known Georgia politician, Jimmy Carter, won the White House.

In 1980, Kennedy failed in his bid to unseat Carter.

The notion that Obama moving the government to the left "is laughable ..."


Analysis: Obama keeps Bush nominees in top posts

By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer Tom Raum, Associated Press Writer – Mon Aug 31, 8:45 am ET

WASHINGTON – For all the GOP howling about Barack Obama radically steering the government to the left and leading the nation toward socialism, some of his major appointments are Republican men and women of the middle.

In what may be the top two national posts in light of today's crises at home and abroad, Obama stuck with the picks of former President George W. Bush in reappointing Fed chief Ben Bernanke and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Bernanke last week was given another four-year term to preside over nothing less than saving the U.S. economy and then keeping it strong. He was appointed by Bush in 2006 after a short stint as chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. Gates was kept in his Pentagon post to wind down the war in Iraq and build up the one in Afghanistan.

The loss of Sen. Ted Kennedy to brain cancer led to a chorus of laments about the dearth of politicians these days able to reach across party lines. While Obama hasn't had much luck with the highly polarized Congress in building bipartisan support on legislation, he's reached out often to Republicans in filling key jobs.

The notion that he's moving the government to the left "is laughable, it's utterly laughable," said Thomas E. Mann, a government scholar at the Brookings Institution. Mann said the decision to keep Bernanke and Gates "doesn't buy him a thing with Republicans but was a sign of good judgment in both cases" because Bernanke and Gates were doing good jobs.

Obama's larger problem is that he still does not have his own people in a majority of the government's top policymaking positions requiring Senate confirmation. But those he has put in top positions include a number of Republicans or nontraditional Democrats.

Along with Gates and Bernanke, they include:

• Sheila Bair as holdover chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. She has played a major role in the management of the financial crisis. A one-time unsuccessful candidate for a Kansas House seat, Bair was first appointed by Bush in June 2006. Forbes Magazine ranks her as the second most powerful woman in the world behind German chancellor Angela Merkel.

• Ray LaHood, a former congressman from Illinois, as transportation secretary. He was elected as part of the "Gingrich Revolution" of 1994 and was so trusted by both Republicans and Democrats that he was selected to preside over the House during the impeachment vote against President Bill Clinton.

• Former Rep. John McHugh from upstate New York, as Army secretary. McHugh was known by his House colleagues for an even temperament and willingness to work with Democrats.

• Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who was a Mormon missionary in China in his youth, as ambassador to China.

• Francis Collins, an evangelical Christian, as director of the National Institutes of Health.

Unlike the others on the list, Collins is not a Republican and worked in the Obama presidential campaign. But he doesn't fit the usual mold of liberal Democrat as portrayed by many Republicans.

Collins discussed his religious views in a 2006 book. Although some questions have been raised about whether he could keep his religious views separate from his work, the physician-geneticist is well respected in his field for landmark discoveries of disease genes and as head of the Human Genome Project.

Meanwhile, Obama has been contending with an angry left upset at him for not insisting more forcefully on a government-run health insurance option and for his decisions to retain some Bush-era counterterrorism policies.

"The effort to portray Obama as dangerously leftist just doesn't have any traction," said Stephen Cimbala, a political science professor at Penn State. "I think if they want to pick up seats in 2010 and get back up off the floor where Bush left them, they're going to have to find a way to go beyond the very narrow core Republican base and reach out to moderates. The case they have to make against Obama is a case about competency and performance. Not about ideology."

Republicans are going all out on the war path, especially on health care overhaul and budget issues.

"Obama and his liberal congressional allies want to saddle taxpayers with even more debt through their government-run health care experiment that will cost trillions of dollars," said Republican party chief Michael Steele. House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, accused Obama of a management style that's "not leadership, it's negligence." Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said in Saturday's GOP video and Internet address that Obama's Democrats favor "cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the elderly to create new government programs."

In asking Bernanke to stay on, Bush praised the former Princeton economist for "his calm and wisdom" in steering the economy through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

At the time he announced he was sticking with Gates at the Pentagon, Obama said he didn't ask the member of the Bush war cabinet to remain because of his party affiliation but because he felt he could best "serve the interests of the American people." Obama said he was "going to be welcoming a vigorous debate inside the White House."

Meanwhile, Obama returned from his vacation in Massachusetts on Martha's Vineyard and, after a few days at Camp David, will redouble his efforts "toward getting a bipartisan result" on health care overhaul, said deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton. "After he gets a little time to recharge his batteries...he's going to come back as rip-roaring as he was before," Burton said.

What a great way lie to the American people about the war in Afghanistan. Use some clever accounting tricks. Remove 14,000 troops that function as clerks and cooks and use civilian contractors to do their work. Then replace the 14,000 non-combat troops with 14,000 combat troops and pretend you have not increased the number of military troops in the Afghanistan war. Hey Obama is just as good of a liar as Bush was, maybe even better.


By Julian E. Barnes

September 2, 2009

Reporting from Washington - U.S. officials are planning to add as many as 14,000 combat troops to the American force in Afghanistan by sending home support units and replacing them with "trigger-pullers," Defense officials say.

The move would beef up the combat force in the country without increasing the overall number of U.S. troops, a contentious issue as public support for the war slips. But many of the noncombat jobs are likely be filled by private contractors, who have proved to be a source of controversy in Iraq and a growing issue in Afghanistan.

The plan represents a key step in the Obama administration's drive to counter Taliban gains and demonstrate progress in the war nearly eight years after it began.

Forces that could be swapped out include units assigned to noncombat duty, such as guards or lookouts, or those on clerical and support squads.

"It makes sense to get rid of the clerks and replace them with trigger-pullers," said one Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the plans have not been announced. Officials have spoken in recent days about aspects of the plan.

The changes will not offset the potential need for additional troops in the future, but could reduce the size of any request from Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and allied commander, officials said.

McChrystal submitted a broad assessment of the Afghanistan war effort this week, calling the situation there "serious."

Details of the assessment remain secret, but officials said it did not contain a request for more troops. Such a request could be submitted in coming weeks.

The planned changes in the U.S. troop mix are part of what military officials call a "force optimization" review, a critical middle step between the assessment and a request for additional troops, designed to ensure that the existing force is operating as efficiently as possible.

The plan reflects the view that much of the military bureaucracy that has built up in Afghanistan no longer serves a useful purpose. Services performed by troops that are no longer considered crucial could be outsourced to contractors or eliminated, officials said.

Defense officials said they would not know how many positions and jobs might be eliminated until the McChrystal review was completed. But two officials estimated the total could be 6,000 to 14,000 troops.

The review will scour the U.S. roster for situations in which several people perform the same job or for service members considered less than fully utilized, for example, working just a six-hour shift.

Army Col. Wayne M. Shanks, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said that some people may no longer be needed and can be "streamlined."

"We have asked all commands to take a hard look to reduce redundancy, eliminate any excess and generally look for efficiencies in all our structures," Shanks said.

He declined to outline any specific groups of soldiers or Marines that were no longer needed, but said the command would not "compromise the welfare of the troops."

Raising the overall number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is a controversial issue.

President Obama has ordered an additional 21,000 troops to Afghanistan to bring the U.S. force to about 68,000. About 38,000 non-U.S. troops with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are also deployed in the country.

Top Obama administration officials have sent mixed signals about whether they would approve more troops.

Complicating any decision to approve more troops is declining public support for the Afghanistan war as the number of casualties climbs, with August the deadliest month for U.S. troops there since the war began. According to a CNN poll, 57% of Americans oppose the war, up from 46% at the end of last year.

But advisors to the military command believe that McChrystal needs a larger force to carry out his counterinsurgency strategy, perhaps as many as 20,000 additional troops. Culling unneeded units would allow McChrystal to increase U.S. combat power without running afoul of political sensitivities at home.

One Defense official said the effort wasn't designed primarily to reduce the size of any potential troop increases, but to ensure that everyone being deployed was in a "mission critical" job.

"If he is asking for more, he certainly wants to ensure we are maximizing the use of everyone that is here now," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Most of the dozens of combat outposts and outlying bases in Afghanistan have soldiers or Marines assigned to gates or guard towers. But the Pentagon official said those troops could be shifted to more valuable duty.

"They just stare out from the tower. So let's bring in contractors," the Pentagon official said. "Now you can have a thousand more troops in the field."

Any needed job left vacant could be filled by hiring Afghans or using military contractors, officials said.

But contractors serving in some capacities, notably as security guards in Iraq, have been accused of excessive violence and wrongdoing.

In Afghanistan, a government watchdog group said Tuesday that many of the 450 private guards employed by a subsidiary of U.S.-based Wackenhut Services Inc. have engaged in lewd and drunken behavior in a "Lord of the Flies" environment. The workers guard the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the capital, under a $189-million contract.

State Department officials said they are investigating.

Critics have charged that the military has relied too heavily on contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, handing over too many crucial responsibilities to outsiders.

A recent Congressional Research Service found that there were more contractors than military personnel serving in Afghanistan. The report was based on figures gathered in March, before additional troops ordered by Obama began arriving.

Lets forget about the 8 years the other President wasted in Afghanistan because Obama is going to win the war! Yea sure! What rubbish! Obama is going to lose the war just like Bush did!


Gates: It's not time to leave Afghanistan

By LARA JAKES and PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writers Lara Jakes And Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON – Facing eroding public support for the war in Afghanistan, the Pentagon chief said Thursday that the Obama administration's effort in the eight-year-old conflict is "only now beginning."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates also said he disagrees with people who say it's time to get out of Afghanistan.

Several recent public opinion polls have shown Americans expressing declining support for the idea of sending more troops to the conflict and falling confidence in how the campaign is going. But at a Pentagon news conference, Gates challenged the public perception that the effort is getting away from the administration.

"I don't believe that the war is slipping through the administration's fingers," Gates said. "The nation has been at war for eight years. The fact that Americans would be tired of having their sons and daughters at risk and in battle is not surprising."

Gates argued that President Barack Obama's new strategy in Afghanistan hasn't even been given a chance to work.

"I think what is important to remember is the president's decisions on this strategy were only made at the very end of March; our new commander appeared on the scene in June," Gates said, adding that the extra troops Obama ordered are not even all there yet, nor is the "civilian surge" he wants on hand to help.

"So we are only now beginning to be in a position to have the assets in place and the strategy or the military approach in place to begin to implement the strategy," he said.

The new U.S. and NATO commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, on Monday delivered a classified assessment of how the war is going and is expected in the coming weeks to ask for more troops and money to turn the war around.

Obama is reading the report during the long Labor Day weekend at Camp David, his aides said.

Neither Gates nor Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen responded to a question about what the still-classified report concludes. But they repeatedly dropped references to some of McChrystal's recommendations, with Mullen calling it a "frank and candid" look at how military forces can accomplish the Afghanistan mission.

Much of the debate around Afghanistan has centered on how many additional troops are needed there, and for how long. By the end of the year, an estimated 68,000 troops will be in Afghanistan — 21,000 of which were ordered there by Obama last spring. Military commanders and State Department officials on the ground, however, say many more are needed to get the job done.

Mullen said questions of how many more troops might be sent was just a piece of the needs that the Pentagon soon will ask Congress to fulfill. "It's a piece — critical, but it's not total," Mullen said.


His monument stands all around us


The most revealing moment in Edward "Ted" Kennedy's political life came Nov. 4, 1979, just three days before he would officially launch his challenge to a sitting president of his own party, Jimmy Carter. In a televised interview, CBS News correspondent Roger Mudd asked the already stout Massachusetts senator a "giveaway" question, a question about as tough as a quiz show host trying to help break the ice with a nervous contestant by asking, "What color is grass?"

Roger Mudd asked: "Why do you want to be president?"

Ted Kennedy, 47, was about to challenge an incumbent president of his own party, with whom his ideological differences were minimal. Why not wait just four years more? Dividing one's own party in such a way must always weaken the party, creating an opening for the other party's challenger in the general election (Ronald Reagan, in this case) no matter who wins the primary.

Any mature politician considering such a move -- any thoughtful man who had seen two elder brothers assassinated for their trouble in seeking that office -- would have asked himself, not once or twice, but a hundred times, "Do I really want to do this? Is seeking the White House -- heck, even winning the White House -- the best thing for my family, my country, my party, for me? What can I accomplish that Jimmy Carter cannot, and how important is it?"

Instead, Ted Kennedy was caught flat-footed when Mudd asked him why he wanted to be president. This was not merely a "bad moment." His rambling, directionless answer -- vague bromides about the European nations doing better on energy policy and on fighting inflation -- made it clear he was merely being swept along by those who wanted to benefit from installing him in the seat of power. He was running because it was "his turn" ... or something.

The little boy who had always been overshadowed by his big brothers; the spoiled brat who was kicked out of Harvard for paying someone else to take his Spanish exam for him; the confused, panicked drunk who returned to the party and left Mary Jo Kopechne to drown in his car as it sank into the waters off Chappaquiddick Island (unless we choose to give the event a more ominous interpretation -- Gene Frieh, the undertaker, told reporters death "was due to suffocation rather than drowning"; John Farrar, the diver who removed Kopechne from the car, claimed she was "too buoyant to be full of water"; there was never an autopsy) was finally on his own, asked a question that any thoughtful man would have been rehearsing in his own mind for months.

And the second-term senator was revealed to have the quality of intellect we'd expect from some babbling beauty contestant, a creature whose life and purpose and ambition were, to be as kind as possible, unexamined.

Oh, some will moan, you're just concentrating on the bad parts. The man's body is barely cold, for heaven's sake. Can't you talk about his achievements, all the good he did?

Read the paeans from the left, praising him as a "lion of the Senate." They speak of his endless concern for the "underprivileged," though they're woefully short on specifics.

The socialists and redistributionists always seek forgiveness for their errors and excesses -- the policies that have driven this country to the brink of bankruptcy and hyperinflation -- in terms of what they meant to accomplish for "the poor and the downtrodden." But who suffers worst in the hard times their policies have brought about? The hardworking poor, who find their jobs gone, their mortgages upside down, the once-proud currency in which their savings and investments are denominated increasingly worthless.

The welfare classes will do all right -- for a while. But what favor have the condescending handouts of the Ted Kennedys of Washington done them, by locking them into multiple generations of fatherless, spiritless, smoldering angry dependence, while gradually sapping and enervating the larger, entrepreneurial, once-vibrant free market economy that could have offered them real opportunity?

Suits from central casting

I was raised a New England Democrat. Far from hating the Kennedys, I suppose I almost worshiped them. I wish John and Bobby had not been killed. Though you would have had to be deaf not to hear older New Englanders note that the family money had come from crime (bootlegging, specifically); that JFK's multiple adulteries (including with Sam Giancana's Mafia moll, Judith Campbell Exner -- in the White House!), creating so much cover-up work for the press and the Secret Service, so disrespectful of the lovely mother of his young children, only echoed his father's famous affair with Hollywood actress Gloria Swanson; that he was asking for trouble when he asked the unions and the mob to help him steal the presidency by rigging the returns in Illinois and West Virginia -- and then turned his back on them, actually siccing his younger brother Bobby on them like an attack dog, as soon as he got elected.

Republicans fail by losing the presidency when they do the sensible thing: nominating old Washington hands like Bob Dole, a perfectly decent fellow who knew the ropes and probably would have made a competent if uninspiring administrator. A "go-along" kind of guy with unarticulated (if any) economic principles who never stood in the path of the profligacies of Ted Kennedy and his ilk, Bob Dole was no hero of mine.

But Democrats do something far more interesting. Democrats fail -- not incrementally but massively, disastrously -- by winning the presidency, which they do by nominating virile younger men in whom Americans see the image of the brave, handsome, smooth-talking, dapper guy they wish they were.

John F. Kennedy was woefully unprepared to be president. His lack of experience and his health problems, so obligingly covered up by a press corps that loved him -- Addison's disease, colitis and back problems so severe he had to wear a brace, possibly caused by his decades-long steroid treatments, while all we got to see was touch football on the beach -- left him woefully inadequate in his summit meetings with Khrushchev in Vienna. Khrushchev read the callow young president as a playboy dilettante and decided he could get away with deploying missiles to Cuba, bringing the world to the brink of war.

Did Kennedy "bravely stand him down," as we were all taught? Kennedy agreed to pull our own missiles out of Turkey. (We're told "they were obsolete, anyway." We won the battle of Guadalcancal with stuff that was more obsolete.) Khrushchev won ... in the short run, which is all the victory a socialist can ever hope for, given that their underlying philosophy will always breed poverty and disaster in the end.

Bill Clinton was of the same mold but worse -- a greedy crook with his hand always out for a check (whether it be a corporation looking for a contract in Little Rock, or the Chinese military seeking our satellite and missile technology), but nonetheless a big, handsome teddy bear of a foul-mouthed multiple adulterer, if not (as I believe) something closer to a serial rapist.

And now the Democrats have given us Barack Obama, a handsome, dapper, smooth-talking, virile younger president who is -- hard as it is to believe -- vastly less qualified for the presidency than John F. Kennedy.

He has no idea he has taken an oath to protect a Constitution that promises us a government of sharply limited powers. (Where in that Constitution does he find any authority for federal bureaucrats to manage auto companies? To meddle in medicine or insurance?) He has no experience commanding even the small military units once officered by JFK or Jimmy Carter -- let alone the mighty administrative experience in matters of life and death once shouldered by Washington, Jackson, Eisenhower.

He has never worked in, let alone managed, a small business that had to meet payroll by selling actual merchandise to actual customers. (At least Harry Truman once sold shirts.) He is the perfect creature of the arrogant leftist academy -- actually believing in the magic power of rhetoric to alter reality, seeing no need to test out such theories on some little hamburger or yogurt stand before attempting to micro-manage the largest economy in the world.

For six months, Barack Obama has had it all his way, with a populace virtually hypnotized into allowing him to advance a far-left agenda learned at the knees of his mother's communist friends, aided by such powerful and privileged yet philosophically hollow allies as Ted Kennedy.

Oh, son, what have you built?

America now awakens from a 50-year dream. Where have we been transported, during the 50 years of our infatuation with the virile Kennedy boys in whom we wished to believe? When John F. Kennedy took office, the Democratic Party was actually still capable of tax-cutting and pro-business policies. (Yes, John Kennedy called for a cut of 20 percent in top tax rates -- actually signed by his successor, Lyndon Johnson.) Today, the Republican Party is much further to the left than the Democratic Party of 1962, while the Democrats themselves ...

For 50 years, America has fancied itself as the fictional character which was reportedly one of John Kennedy's favorites -- dapper, swinging, love-em-and-leave-em James Bond. We could go where we wanted, never a concern about footing the bills (that's what government is for) and always shoot our way out of trouble.

Am I "skipping the good parts" about Ted Kennedy? I hope there were some. But he was, from all I can learn, a drunken lout, wandering around Palm Beach with his pants down around his ankles, encouraging and covering up the love-em-and-leave-em sprees of the younger males of the family, just as he had seen done by most of the males of the Kennedy family from the time he was a spoiled, cheating little boy.

He was rich and secure enough that he could at any time have taken a year off, read Hayek and Rothbard and Hazlitt and Bastiat and von Mises, contemplated what he might accomplish if he were to bend his inherited wealth and power to making Americans more truly prosperous and free. (Heck, even George McGovern finally retired and invested in a New England motel, coming to learn the terrors of the very regulatory government bureaucracies he had once so cheerfully fostered.)

Ted Kennedy never did. It was not in his nature. There does not appear to have been a contemplative, self-questioning bone in his body.

I have never hated the Kennedys. I do not hate wealth, nor the personal freedom it brings. All Americans should seek wealth, at least for the betterment of their own families, and if they can do so by flouting stupid government prohibitions, selling an honest product to willing buyers, as Joe Kennedy Sr. did, well, more power to them. (Though I do wonder why us little guys are no longer "allowed" to set up immortal family trusts as useful and tax-proof as those established by families like the Kennedys and the Rockefellers, so many decades ago. Why them, and not us? Are we now governed by some kind of feudal aristocracy, after all?)

The more interesting question is what one sets out to do with wealth, power and privilege.

The family wealth, power and privilege got Ted Kennedy back into Harvard after that little cheating thing. It got him a suspended sentence for "leaving the scene of an accident" after his drunken driving caused the death of Mary Jo Kopechne -- if that's really what happened -- just as the family wealth and power covered up that little security problem when young Lt. John Kennedy ignored all advice and continued his affair with that married lady and suspected Nazi spy during World War II. The Kennedy boys were taught that their family wealth and power would get them out of anything.

But will they get us out of anything? Are Americans more free today than before Ted Kennedy put on his engineer's cap and started running the little toy train set he inherited from his older brothers?

The liberals will lie to themselves and to us, screeching, "Yes! The poor are more 'free' of hunger and poverty and fear of guns and drugs, thanks to all the wise new prohibitions we have enacted, all the loot the Left has seized and redistributed from you greedy rich guys!"

Perhaps I should have said, some of us now awaken from a dream of 50 years.

Government still runs -- at massive expense, funded by unprecedented looting and borrowing, in part thanks to Teddy Kennedy -- a compulsory confinement school system designed to indoctrinate successive generations in the wisdom and righteousness of government looting and coercion, though it's no longer so good at teaching spelling, geography, history or even "counting change."

Government has bureaucratized and thus seriously degraded large parts of the best medical system in the world, and seems determined to finish the job, since they know their socialized Medicare and Medicaid schemes will soon go bankrupt unless the vampires are given large new docile herds to feed upon.

Now they even threaten to punish through economically crippling taxation the production of energy. Energy!

Everywhere we look we see government, as vast, terrifying and powerful as Shelley's famous statue of Ozymandias. It is the monument of Ted Kennedy, the man who could not explain why he should be -- or even why he wanted to be -- president. An achievement of those who accrue votes and wealth and power as ends in themselves without ever stopping to contemplate why everything they do requires some new and even larger exercise in Draconian coercion, some new and even larger allocation of looted wealth, to supposedly "fix" what they messed up the last time.

This is Ted Kennedy's monument. It is built on sand.

As Vin Suprynowicz says the schools are nothing but government propaganda camps.


Schools address Obama's speech unease

Many offer parents option to have kids skip talk

by Ray Parker - Sept. 4, 2009 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic

Gilbert parent Keith James wants his child to skip President Barack Obama's address to schools next week.

It's not that he thinks the president shouldn't support education. It's that he thinks the speech could have a hidden agenda.

"Being a Black conservative and not comfortable with the president's agenda, this going-into-the-classroom thing really bugs me," said James, who will have his eighth-grade son skip the speech. Across Arizona, school-district officials are scrambling to deal with the growing national controversy, and they are responding in a variety of ways.

Many districts will follow the middle path taken by Mesa Public Schools, Arizona's largest district. The district will allow parents to have their children opt out of the speech, but only if they contact the school first. It is the same policy the district uses for similar situations - if a parent objects to a reading assignment, for instance.

Other districts, such as Scottsdale Unified, are taking the extra step of actually sending opt-out forms home with all students.

Still other districts have put all-or-nothing guidelines on the speech. Tempe Elementary School District will require all students to watch the president's speech with no opt-out provision. Prescott Unified School District, on the other hand, will not have any students watch it.

"The president's speech next week is a perfect example of 'a good idea gone astray,' " Prescott Superintendent Kevin Kapp wrote on the district's Web site. "After reviewing the materials associated with the speech, (Prescott schools) will not televise the speech or broadcast it via computers."

Obama will address students via the Internet in what U.S. Department of Education officials said will be a back-to-school speech "about persisting and succeeding in school."

The speech is expected to be about 15 to 20 minutes long, and the Education Department has prepared classroom materials for all grades to accompany it.

"I think it's really unfortunate that politics has been brought into this," White House deputy policy director Heather Higginbottom told the Associated Press. "It's simply a plea to students to really take their learning seriously. Find out what they're good at. Set goals. And take the school year seriously."

But after conservative media figures started calling the speech "indoctrination," parents started calling Valley school districts this week requesting their children skip the speech.

Critics are particularly upset about the lesson plans the administration created to accompany the speech. The lesson plans originally recommended having students "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president."

The White House revised the plans Wednesday to say students could "write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals."

"That was inartfully worded, and we corrected it," Higginbottom said.

Some parents are not convinced.

"Is this part of the district curriculum or a way for the White House to get into classrooms?" asked Mesa parent Linda Grant, who has a seventh-grade daughter who will opt out.

In Arizona district offices, school officials said there's been some gnashing of teeth.

Mesa schools Superintendent Mike Cowan said the district had received a number of complaints, but it was not a large percentage of the district's nearly 70,000 students. He said Obama's speech will be shown in schools, yet, as always, parents can choose to have their children opt out.

"Considering this is an historic event, we will do what we can do," Cowan said, noting that seven months ago President Obama gave a national speech about stemming home foreclosures inside Mesa's Dobson High School.

The Department of Education has provided six pages of supplemental online material for educators dealing with the speech. Before the speech, for example, teachers inpre-kindergarten to sixth grade can build "background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama."

Tom Horne, the Republican state superintendent of public instruction in Arizona, said he's troubled that the accompanying federal materials "are too worshipful toward Obama" and are "educationally unsound."

Richard Ban Dyne, who taught social studies in Valley schools for 34 years, disagreed.

"There's nothing objectionable in that material," he said. "Come on, it encourages students to be responsible for their education."

Obama's speech, which will be broadcast at Arizona schools at 9 a.m. Tuesday, isn't the first of its kind, although the use of the Internet does make it accessible to a wider audience.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush spoke to students at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, D.C., imploring them to study hard and to stay away from drugs. The speech was broadcast nationwide.

The Department of Education broadcast Bush's speech live, and the White House sent letters to schools around the country encouraging principals and teachers to have students tune in. The speech reached 4.4 million children in 110,000 schools, according to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Avondale parent Maggie Stinson, who has two children in high school, said she was surprised by the controversy.

"I would have thought that the Republican Party would have chosen a much more pressing topic to pick Obama apart on (since) there are plenty," Stinson said. "But that is only my opinion after skeptically listening, analyzing and thinking critically about this upcoming speech," she said.

To read the supplemental material provided by the Department of Education, log on to

Alex Bloom, Emily Gersema, Megan Gordon, Kerry Fehr-Snyder, Eugene Scott, Jeffrey Javier and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

More on this topic

President to address schoolchildren

Questions and answers about President Obama's address to schoolchildren.

Question: When will the president deliver his address?

President Obama will speak to students at 9 a.m. Arizona time on Tuesday.

Q: How will students watch the president?

Viewers can watch the address via the Internet by visiting the White House Web site at

, where the address will be streamed live. C-SPAN, the cable public-affairs network, will cover the president's speech live and provide live streaming video online at The speech also will be aired live on C-SPAN Radio (Channel 132 on XM Satellite Radio). White House television will make the address available via satellite for access by local broadcast outlets and school districts.

Q: How long will the president's address last?

The president is scheduled to speak for 15 to 20 minutes.

Q: Will the address be available after the original broadcast?

Yes, video downloads will be made available at and

Source: U.S. Department of Education

Congress Harry Mitchell doesn't answer any questions (well almost)

"My wife and I are over 65 and covered by Medicare. We do not participate in any health-insurance plan offered to members of Congress or federal employees" and "I do not personally receive my health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program" - Congressman Harry Mitchell

Hmmm... Congressman Harry Mitchell says he doesn't use the Royal Medical Care given to the rest of the members of the Royal American Congress. I wonder if he is lying? Or does that mean him and his wife didn't use the royal congressional medical plan this week or month?

Last but not least the title of the article is very misleading. Congressman Harry Mitchell only answered two of the questions and just rambled on with re-election BS for the other questions.


Rep. Mitchell responds to health-care questions

Many readers accepted our invitation to submit questions to U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell regarding health-care reform.

Here are Mitchell's answers.

Question: In general, do you favor the Obama health-care proposal and are you going to vote for it?

— Jack Tracey, Scottsdale

Answer: Both Republicans and Democrats agree that the current health-insurance system needs reform. More and more families are losing access to the care they need, and our economy is suffering as businesses try to cope with escalating costs. Individuals with pre-existing illnesses or chronic disease are often denied coverage.

I agree with Sen. John McCain when he says that we cannot afford to do nothing. While I support reform of our health-insurance system, current proposals in Congress are still not complete.

[Congressman Harry Mitchell didn't answer the question of "do you favor the Obama health-care proposal and are you going to vote for it? "]

Q: How will health-care reform get 40 percent of its funding from Medicare without diminishing the quality and availability of care available to seniors?

— Paula Ricehouse, Scottsdale

A: My wife and I are over 65 and covered by Medicare. We do not participate in any health-insurance plan offered to members of Congress or federal employees.

I strongly support strengthening Medicare and could not support a plan that would reduce services or diminish quality. I agree with the proposals in Washington that increase the reimbursement rates for physicians so seniors have greater access to the doctors they choose. I also believe that the federal government should be able to negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices, allowing us to close the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole.”

It is important to ensure that our tax dollars are not being wasted. Medicare has an alarming amount of fraud and abuse and we cannot allow these practices, such as paying for procedures that have not been performed, to continue.

[Again Congressman Harry Mitchell didn't answer the question of "How will health-care reform get 40 percent of its funding from Medicare without diminishing the quality and availability of care available to seniors? "]

Q: Many seniors are on Medicare and have supplemental insurance. How would the proposed health-care reform affect them?

— From numerous readers

A: Our doctors and community hospitals are losing money when treating folks on Medicare and some are not accepting new Medicare patients because of this. I want to make sure that any reform doesn't end up putting any additional strain on Medicare, weakening community hospitals or potentially leaving people with fewer options.

It is important to remember that there is not a final version of a bill in Congress.

[Again Congressman Harry Mitchell didn't answer the question. He just rambled on with the re-elect me it will be great stuff]

Q: Why won't Congress pass tort reform (medical malpractice, in particular)? That would save billions of dollars in legal costs and unnecessary tests for the health-insurance industry, and its customers (us).

— John O'Connell, Scottsdale

A: I am troubled by the stories of doctors playing defensive medicine by ordering unnecessary tests, which only adds to everyone's costs. At the same time, I want to ensure that we continue to vigorously protect patient rights. I believe this is an important discussion in which there will be passionate views on all sides. I agree that there are other areas of our health-care system that Congress will ultimately need to consider, and this includes having a rigorous debate on tort reform.

[Again Congressman Harry Mitchell didn't answer the question. He just rambled on with the re-elect me it will be great stuff]

Q: Does this bill include a government-appointed committee or use formulas based on statistics that can deny a patient medical treatment due to age, long-term success with such a treatment, or based on some determination of productive years of life left? Could a patient be denied a hip replacement, for instance, if such a board or formula says it is not worth the expense based on that patient's life expectancy?

— Michael Frost, Ahwatukee

A: Like many Democrats as well as Republicans, I oppose rationing, and oppose a government takeover of our nation's health-care system.

While there is still not a final version of a bill, no proposal that has received serious consideration in Congress contains “death panels” or committees that will ration care based on age, life expectancy, productivity or any measure.

[Wow! Congressman Harry Mitchell answered the question!!!]

Q: President Barack Obama has stated that health-care reform must reduce the rate of health-care inflation, be deficit neutral over 10 years and be deficit reducing over the longer term. Will you vote for a health-care reform bill that doesn't do what the president has requested, i.e. be deficit reducing?

— Kevin Condon, Ahwatukee

A: I strongly believe that we need health-insurance reform, and I also strongly believe that it must be deficit neutral.

[Again Congressman Harry Mitchell didn't answer the question. He did not say how he would vote]

Q: After reading HR 3200, there is no wonder that members of Congress do not want to participate in the new system, rather electing to retain your present health-insurance plan. If this plan is good enough for America, why is it not good enough for Congress?

— John & Rita Elef, Mesa

A: While, as a matter of principle, I do not personally receive my health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, I do not believe members of Congress should have any better or worse health insurance than anyone else. If anything, we should be working to make the kind of coverage that members of Congress and federal employees receive available to more Americans.

Currently, federal employees, including members of Congress, participate in an insurance exchange through which they receive the choice of several private health plans, with literally hundreds of options.

Many Republicans and Democrats in Congress, including me, support the concept of a broader insurance exchange in which individuals and small businesses, many of whom cannot currently afford coverage, could pool their purchasing power and comparison shop for competitive rates that best meet their needs.

For the first time, private-insurance companies would compete against each other in a way they've never done before. In addition, the pool would be spread across a wider scale, which would require insurers to compete for your business.

[Again Congressman Harry Mitchell didn't answer the question. He just rambled on with the government nannies don't deserve better coverage stuff]

Q: Where will we get the additional doctors needed to cover 50 million people who currently do not have insurance?

— From several readers

A: Although millions of Americans don't have health insurance, it doesn't mean they don't get sick and don't ultimately get treated.

Those without insurance are often forced to wait until potentially preventable conditions reach a crisis point, when they receive care at the most expensive point in our health-care system. The costs associated with this type of care end up hurting families — even those with insurance.

Access to primary-care physicians before their condition reaches a crisis point not only cuts down on costs, but it keeps patients healthier. I believe that we need to expand family-practice medicine and do more to encourage people to become primary-care physicians. I support expanding family-practice residency programs, increasing the Medicare reimbursement rates, and expanding loan forgiveness for those that choose to go into family practice.

[Wow! Congressman Harry Mitchell answered the question!!! Well at least kind of sort of answered it!]

Not a dime worth of difference between George W Obama and Barack W Bush! Heil Hitler! Heil Bush! Heil Obama! Long Live the American Emperor!


Secrecy urged for terrorist watch-list data

Sept. 6, 2009 12:00 AM

Washington Post

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration wants to maintain the secrecy of terrorist watch-list information it routinely shares with federal, state and local agencies, a move that rights groups say would make it difficult for people who have been improperly included on such lists to challenge the government.

Intelligence officials in the administration are pressing for legislation that would exempt "terrorist identity information" from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

Such information - which includes names, aliases, fingerprints and other biometric identifiers - is widely shared with law enforcement agencies and intelligence "fusion centers," which combine state and federal counterterrorism resources. Still, some officials say public disclosure of watch-list data carries the risk of alerting terrorism suspects that they are being tracked and may help them evade surveillance.

Advocates of civil liberties and open government argue that the administration has not proved the secrecy is necessary and that the proposed changes could make the government less accountable for errors on watch lists.

The proposed FOIA exemption has been included in pending House and Senate intelligence authorization bills at the administration's request.


Bin Laden calls Obama 'powerless' in Afghan war

Posted 9/14/2009 12:02 PM ET

By Maamoun Youssef, Associated Press Writer

CAIRO — Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden described President Barack Obama as "powerless" to stop the war in Afghanistan and threatened to step up guerrilla warfare there in a new audiotape released to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. In the 11-minute tape, addressed to the American people, bin Laden said Obama is only following the warlike policies of his predecessor George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and he urged Americans to "liberate" themselves from the influence of "neo-conservatives and the Israeli lobby."

The tape was posted on Islamic militant Web sites two days after the eighth anniversary of the 2001 suicide plane hijackings. The terror leader usually addresses Americans in a message timed around the date of the attacks, which sparked the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan the same year, and then in Iraq two years later.

Bin Laden said Americans had failed to understand that al-Qaida carried out the attacks in retaliation for U.S. support for Israel. If America reconsiders its alliance with the Jewish state, al-Qaida will respond on "sound and just bases."

The Saudi construction magnate's son-turned "holy warrior" and his deputies have frequently sought to wrap al-Qaida in the Palestinian cause, seeking to draw support in the Arab world, where the issue is one of the public's top concerns.

Al-Qaida has also sought to depict Obama as no different from Bush, who was widely despised in the Arab world for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and his close support of Israel. Obama has won greater popularity in the region, giving a landmark speech in Cairo in June, moving to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and taking a somewhat harder stance on Israel in the peace process.

"If you end the war (in Afghanistan), so let it be," bin Laden said. "But if it is otherwise, all we will do is continue the war of attrition against you on all possible axes."

"You are waging a hopeless and losing war for the benefit of others, a war the end of which is not visible on the horizon," he said, according to a translation of the tape Monday by SITE Intelligence Group, a terrorist-monitoring firm, and by The Associated Press.

Bin Laden, who is believed to be in hiding in the Afghan-Pakistan border region, said the current White House is merely following the Bush-Cheney strategy to "promote the previous policies of fear to market the interest of big companies."

When Obama retained the Bush administration's Defense Secretary Robert Gates, "reasonable people knew that Obama is a powerless man who will not be able to end the war as he promised," bin Laden said.

Bin Laden devoted much of his address to discussing U.S. connections with Israel and castigated Americans for failing to understand that the issue was behind al-Qaida's animosity. As he often does in his addresses, he cited books by American scholars and others that he said support his claim. Such citations also serve to show he keeps close watch on current events and media despite being a fugitive in a war zone.

"The delay in your knowing those causes has cost you a lot without any result whatsoever," he said. "This position of yours, combined with some other injustices, pushed us to undertake the events of (Sept. 11)."

"Ask yourselves to determine your position: Is your security, your blood, your children, your money, your jobs, your homes, your economy, and your reputation dearer to you than the security of the Israelis, their children and their economy?" he said.

If Americans realized the extent of the suffering "suffering from the injustice of the Jews ... you will realize that both our nations are victims of the policies of the White House," which he described as "a hostage" to interest groups and companies.

The message was issued late Sunday by al-Qaida's media wing, Al-Sahab, in a video in which the audiotape plays over a still picture of bin Laden. IntelCenter, another company that monitors terrorist propaganda, said the message is the 49th release by Al-Sahab in 2009. Al-Sahab is averaging one release every five days so far in 2009, IntelCenter said.


Sep. 13, 2009

Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: Which group of armed men should we fear?

Touring the country to peddle his collectivist schemes, President Barack Obama made stops in New Hampshire and then in Phoenix during the month of August.

At several of these events, a handful of those who gathered outside the halls to protest wore firearms. No one got arrested, since no one brandished their firearms in a threatening manner. They just wore them, safely slung or holstered, which is still perfectly legal in both New Hampshire and Arizona.

The fact that many Americans need to be re-acclimatized to the normalcy of an armed citizenry was quickly revealed by the nearly hysterical rantings from the Left after the TV cameras picked up fleeting images of these legally owned and carried civilian firearms.

Cartoonist Ted Rall writes a syndicated column. Mr. Rall's Aug. 27 column says: "Two weeks ago, a right-wing man protested outside the president's health care meeting in New Hampshire wearing a gun strapped to his leg. ... A week later, a dozen men appeared outside Obama's appearance in Phoenix brandishing loaded guns ... (including) one, who carried an AR-15 military-style automatic rifle. ...

"Make no mistake: guns don't have anything to do with health care. This is a revival of Klannism. A black man is president, and the good ol' boys don't like it. That's what this is about: putting him in his place. Which, if they or someone they inspire has their way, will be six feet under. ...

"God. The smirks those turds wear!" Mr. Rall went on. "Run a Google Image search on 'Klansmen' or 'lynching.' Same ones."

Interesting. I chatted with 28-year-old Chris Broughton, a Phoenix machinist, the man who wore the aforementioned AR-15 slung across his back outside President Obama's Aug. 17 appearance at the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, there. (Needless to say, it's the kind that fires one shot each time you pull the trigger -- not an "automatic.")

Is Chris Broughton one of the "same ones" you'll find if you "run a Google Image search on 'Klansmen' or 'lynching,' " as Mr. Rall suggests? Only if you look at the guy hanging in the tree. Chris Broughton is black.

"MSNBC actually went so far as to edit the video so they (viewers) could only see the rifle," he told me. "You couldn't see if I was black or white, and then they used that video when they were talking about white supremacists and Nazis, talking about people hating a black president. They purposely cropped the picture so they couldn't see I was black as they used it over this report about dangerous racists and white supremacists. In the original video, my whole body was visible in the video the whole time. ... "There's one point I've been meaning to make with all these different reporters," Chris said. "People are up in arms about me doing something perfectly legal at a time when our president is traveling the country trying to sell an unconstitutional health reform. ...

"Aren't the hospitals required to treat anyone in the emergency rooms? If they weren't required to treat people, then the costs wouldn't be spread to us, right? If you think about it, we already have universal health care. People are whining because health care costs are out of control. That's because the producers are paying for those who aren't producing. Universal health care will just be more of the same. If more people get free care and the rest of us pay for it, then prices are going to go up, not down. Anyone can figure that out."

I guess to some that's scary, racist talk.

Phoenix talk radio host Ernie Hancock, who was also armed that day, tells me that a group of marching, chanting guys carrying bullhorns and wearing SEIU T-shirts approached the corner where he and Chris were standing outside the Phoenix convention center on Aug. 17.

"They were telling people to get out of their way," Ernie says. "They acted like that was their street corner, like they had it reserved so they could stand there where the TV cameras could see them. But as soon as they saw a bunch of guys already standing on that corner, wearing guns, they got really quiet. One of the cops came up to me later and said, 'You guys did the right thing.' "

Barack Obama has thousands of guys -- many with real machine guns -- to help him promote his vision for a socialist America. But one guy with a semi-automatic, safely slung, standing outside on the sidewalk answering people's questions -- that's scary?

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the daily Las Vegas Review-Journal, and author of "Send in the Waco Killers" and the novel "The Black Arrow."

Obama's health speech is full of lies!


Obama speech doesn't quell cost concerns

by Ceci Connolly - Sept. 11, 2009 12:00 AM

Washington Post

WASHINGTON - One day after President Barack Obama pitched his plan for comprehensive health-care reform in a joint session of Congress, administration officials struggled Thursday to detail how he would achieve his goal of extending coverage to millions of uninsured Americans without increasing the deficit.

In two public appearances and private meetings with a dozen lawmakers Thursday, Obama promised a "full court press," saying, "We have talked this issue to death." He also argued that new Census Bureau figures showing a slight uptick in the number of uninsured Americans only underscores the urgency of enacting major legislation this year.

The 10-year, $900 billion proposal envisioned by Obama borrows heavily from concepts circulating on Capitol Hill, but there was little immediate evidence that the broad ideas were sufficient to break a logjam in Congress. After refusing for months to identify himself with the details of emerging legislation, Obama for the first time Wednesday embraced a set of ideas as "my plan." But the White House released scant specifics on legislation advertised as including new taxes, changes in malpractice law, a new national high-risk insurance pool, a commission on eliminating Medicare fraud and tax credits for individual consumers and small businesses that can't afford insurance.

"His speech was very specific and, as promised, answered the big questions about how we should proceed on providing a secure and stable health system for all Americans," White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said. "Many of the details will be worked out in the legislative process."

Even the president's efforts to bridge the partisan divide - he endorsed two ideas developed by Republicans in his speech - were met with skepticism.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who grinned broadly Wednesday night when Obama announced that he was backing McCain's idea for a high-risk pool that would serve as a safety net for those individuals who are currently difficult to insure, was collecting signatures Thursday on a petition in opposition to the president's entire plan.

The Obama proposal is an "egregiously expensive and expansive form of government-run health care," McCain said in an online letter to supporters.

More troubling for Obama were the mixed signals from Democrats who, absent any signs of significant Republican support, have increasingly become the focus of the president's personal lobbying effort. After a White House meeting with the president, Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., voiced concerns that the most prominent health-reform proposals fall short.

"We all understand that we want to move toward universal coverage, but I don't think we're focusing enough on costs," he said.

Although virtually every Democrat found something to like in the president's 47-minute address, the interpretations of what he meant varied widely, suggesting more difficult negotiations ahead. On the controversial question of whether to form a new public insurance option, many liberals characterized what was widely interpreted as Obama's neutral stance to be unwavering support for the measure.

"We were pleased you explicitly expressed your support for a public option as a central piece of achieving true reform," leaders of the House Progressive Caucus wrote in a letter to Obama.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said the bill that will be sent to the floor for a vote in the House "of course" will have a public option. But other high-ranking Democrats suggested the idea could be sacrificed.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he could support non-profit, member-run cooperatives as an alternative.

Acknowledging that different wings of the party were focusing on the parts of Obama's speech that fit their own legislative preferences, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., nevertheless said the current state of affairs is far better than the infighting that led up to it.

"Are you surprised that people are focused on the part of the speech they liked best?" he told reporters. "That always happens, and we all do that. But I think we are making progress."

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg said Obama's speech soothed voter unease over cost and likely resonated with middle-class insured Americans. "The critical step now is for Congress to move," he said.

Bruce Josten, a vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, however, said, "I don't think we heard anything from the president that sets Congress back on track."

The broad concepts sketched out by Obama would, if enacted, move the country to a health-care system in which individuals and employers share the burden of medical costs. Obama wants to give tax credits to working Americans and some small businesses to buy insurance, but he has yet to identify who would be eligible for the credits, how large they would be or how much they would cost.

Obama did specify one policy change to help pay for reform, singling out a proposal by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to tax insurance companies on high-priced "Cadillac" policies. Aides could not say at what level the tax would kick in or how high it would be, but Pfeiffer noted that Obama has previously endorsed other financing ideas.

"From Day 1, we have laid out several very specific options from within the system and to raise revenue to pay for health care. He outlined another proposal last night," Pfeiffer said. "What should be crystal clear is that the president is 100 percent committed to the signing a health-reform bill that does not add a dime to the deficit."

In a 3 1/2-page document posted on, the administration proposes a new commission tasked with ferreting out waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare. But some aides said the proposal entails giving the new panel authority to advance much broader changes in coverage and reimbursement rates under Medicare.

Many of the Obama concepts are similar to those in a blueprint drafted by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont. The panel's bipartisan "Gang of Six" negotiators still appear to be struggling to settle basic questions, such as how much health coverage uninsured people should be required to buy and how much the government should help to pay for it. That nettlesome challenge has dominated discussions in the group for at least two months.

Baucus hopes to release his bill on Sept. 18, with Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, appearing to be the Republican most likely to support it.

"The ideal bill would be one that takes the president's specifics, mixes that with what Democrats can agree to in the Baucus plan and stretch it to hold Snowe," said Len Nichols, head of health policy at the New America Foundation.

Obama's reassurances are just not believable

by Robert Robb - Sept. 11, 2009 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic

If the American people want government to have a larger and stronger role in health care, so be it. I've long thought it was probably inevitable.

But the leap shouldn't be made based upon the reassurances President Barack Obama sought to convey in his speech to Congress. There's substantial reason to doubt each and every one of them.

Let's begin with the most important reassurance: If you like the health insurance you have, you'll be able to keep it. In the bills congressional Democrats have produced to date, this reassurance comes with a condition and an expiration date. Existing plans are grandfathered in, but no new enrollees are permitted. And after five years, all plans have to conform to new federal requirements yet to be determined.

Employers are not going to maintain plans for long that new employees cannot participate in.

More fundamentally, Obama's other proposals completely scramble the health-care market. The federal government will determine policies and benefits packages that can be offered. Medical underwriting will be prohibited and pricing differentials for other factors sharply limited. New taxes will be imposed on insurers and employers.

At the end, no one can say what insurance products will be available at what cost. Or what health insurance, if any, employers will offer.

And then, there's the public option. Obama says it will compete on a level playing field, but this is impossible to believe. The federal government isn't going to sponsor a health-insurance program and then be indifferent to its success.

The government-sponsored health-insurance plan will crowd out private insurers. We've seen this play before. Government-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dominated the secondary-mortgage market. When they got into trouble, the federal government bailed them out - as investors assumed would happen all along, despite claims to the contrary by federal officials.

If there's a public option, chances are, over time, private insurance will be relegated to a supplementary role, such as it currently has with Medicare.

The second reassurance in which the American people should place no faith is the assertion that health-care reform as Obama has proposed will not add to the deficit. So far, congressional Democrats have yet to field a health-care reform that doesn't add to the deficit. And that's after giving credit to phony savings from provider cuts that Obama says will pay for most of the plan.

This is a game Congress has played many times. When it needs to show some paper savings, it passes cuts to health-care providers, particularly in Medicare. Then, doctors quit taking Medicare patients and hospitals start to squawk. And the cuts are restored.

Health care isn't going to be expanded without it costing more, particularly if nothing is done to change the perverse economic incentives inherent in a third-party payer system.

Relatedly, the promise to seniors that Medicare services will not be cut also should not be credited. Even without health-care reform, current Medicare financing is unsustainable. The hospitalization trust fund is already running a deficit.

More directly, Obama cannot fund health-care expansion elsewhere through Medicare-spending reductions without cutting Medicare services or changing its basic fee-for-service approach. In short, Obama's pledge to seniors not to cut services is incompatible with his pledge to the American people not to increase the deficit.

Now, I happen to favor fundamental health-care reform. I'm among those Obama described as wanting to end employer-provided health care and make it an individually purchased product, the same as all other personal insurance.

However, the gaps in the existing system that most concern Americans are easily and relatively inexpensively filled: simply allow people who have expended a certain percentage of their income on health care to buy into the Medicaid program. No one goes without coverage because of pre-existing conditions; no one goes bankrupt because of sickness.

Despite his protests, however, Obama isn't really building on the existing system. Intentionally or not, he's proposing to blow it up. What arises in its aftermath is pure conjecture.

Reach Robb at

Watch out Wall Street! Piss off Obama and no more trillion dollar pork handouts (well maybe a few billion dollar handouts if you grease the right hand in government)


Obama gives stern warning to Wall Street

'Reckless behavior' will no longer be tolerated

Sept. 15, 2009 12:00 AM

Washington Post

NEW YORK - President Barack Obama delivered a stern message to Wall Street on Monday: Don't forget what we did for you.

A year after the failure of investment bank Lehman Brothers and an unprecedented government campaign to prevent the collapse of the financial system, Obama encouraged the industry to reform itself voluntarily and not to stand in the way of new laws meant to prevent excesses from returning.

His administration has two major messages: The economy and financial system are indeed stabilizing. But that should not be an excuse for Wall Street to resume practices that precipitated a deep recession and trillions of dollars in government bailouts. "Normalcy cannot lead to complacency," Obama told an audience of bankers, traders, lawmakers and others at Federal Hall, steps from the New York Stock Exchange.

"There are some in the financial industry who are misreading this moment," he said. "Instead of learning the lessons of Lehman and the crisis from which we are still recovering, they are choosing to ignore them. ... We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess at the heart of this crisis."

Obama was seeking to refocus attention on proposals to overhaul financial regulation. His administration has identified this as a priority, but efforts have lost some momentum as the financial crisis has eased and lawmakers are occupied with the health-care debate.

In his speech, Obama offered a reminder that financial firms survived the meltdown last fall only because of expansive efforts by the government, which came at potentially huge cost to taxpayers. Among the dramatic actions were bailing out American International Group, offering a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. guarantee of bank debt, letting investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley come under the Federal Reserve's protective umbrella, and creating a $700 billion financial-rescue fund.

"Many of the firms that are now returning to prosperity owe a debt to the American people," Obama said. "American taxpayers, through their government, took extraordinary action to stabilize the financial industry. They shouldered the burden of the bailout, and they are still bearing the burden of the fallout."

Even absent legislation, he said that financial firms should use plain language in dealings with consumers, put bonuses for senior executives up to a shareholder vote, rework compensation practices to encourage long-term performance, help struggling homeowners modify their mortgages, and assist small-business owners and communities that need loans.

He also urged support for the far-reaching changes to financial regulation that he has proposed. These include creating a new agency with broad powers to protect consumers of financial products such as mortgages, give the Federal Reserve new powers to oversee risks to the overall financial system, and obligate firms to meet stronger capital and liquidity requirements.

Financial-industry officials, at least those who spoke publicly, said they agree with the president that fundamental changes are necessary.

"I agree with his comments on responsibility," said Timothy Ryan, chief executive of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. "We recognize that we have a responsibility to acknowledge that we helped contribute to the pain the nation is experiencing and that we have a responsibility to do what we can to diminish the chance it happens again."

But, behind the scenes, financial companies have pushed to dilute or delay elements of the administration's plan on Capitol Hill.

Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, an advocacy group invited to hear Obama's speech, said that she was encouraged by the president's focus on protecting consumers. "It's going to be difficult because of the special-interest groups," she said. "But, for the first time in eight years, we've got a seat at the table."

"Obama ... suspects there is a predisposition among some military planners to think more troops is the answer to almost any problem" - How true. Sadly people like Obama and many other government nannies think the same way. That more taxes and more government are the solution for every problem too.


Obama 'skeptical' about more troops

Reuters Josh Gerstein Josh Gerstein – Sun Sep 20, 9:59 am ET

President Barack Obama is warning U.S. commanders that he’s “skeptical” about whether more troops will make a difference in Afghanistan, saying he’ll approve an upcoming request only if the forces fit into a strategy to beat back al-Qaida and protect the United States.

“Until I'm satisfied that we've got the right strategy I'm not gonna be sending some young man or woman over there — beyond what we already have,” Obama said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I'm not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan or saving face or, in some way – you know, sending a message that America is here for the duration.”

U.S. generals are preparing to seek as many as tens of thousands additional troops for the increasingly unpopular conflict, but in several of his five Sunday talk show interviews, Obama made clear that he’s far from convinced about the need for a massive infusion of troops and won’t be rushed on the decision.

“We’re going to test whatever resources we have against our strategy, which is, if by sending young men and women into harm’s way, we are defeating al Qaeda–and that can be shown to a skeptical audience, namely me, somebody who is always asking hard questions about deploying troops— then we will do what’s required to keep the American people safe,” Obama said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

Obama also said he suspects there is a predisposition among some military planners to think more troops is the answer to almost any problem.

“There is a natural inclination to say, ‘If I get more, then I can do more,’” Obama said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But right now, the question is—the first question is, are we doing the right thing? Are we pursuing the right strategy?”

“We’re not going to put the cart before the horse and just think by sending more troops we’re automatically going to make Americans safe,” Obama told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Obama had made a focus on the war in Afghanistan a central tenet of his foreign policy when he ran for president – often holding up the decision to invade Afghanistan, home to the 9/11 plotters, as the right move compared to President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.

And earlier this year, Obama announced a new Afghan strategy and approved sending 21,000 more troops to the eight-year-long war, in part to provide security for the recent national elections. That would bring the total to 68,000 U.S. troops by year’s end.

But now the U.S. commander there, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is preparing to ask for thousands of more troops, right at a moment when U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan are hitting a peak and polls show a majority of Americans no longer support the war. Also, Obama is facing pressure inside his own party to bring the troops out of Afghanistan.

Obama denied a CNN report that the White House has told McChrystal to hold off on formally requesting the additional forces. The Pentagon is preparing to give the White House a report assessing U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Officials have said that report will not contain any requests for troop increases, but such a request is expected to come separately soon thereafter from McChrystal.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) picked up on the CNN report to question whether Obama was purposely stalling a decision on the troop increase. He said Republicans would back the president if he decides to send more troops to the war – but McConnell didn’t answer whether he believes more troops are needed now, saying that he trusts the judgment of McChrystal and other generals.

“We think the time for decision is now. As Senator [John] McCain has pointed out, when you delay a decision like this, you may be arguably endangering the lives of our soldiers,” McConnell said on CNN. “The sooner you can make that decision, the better.” Obama said during the interviews that he inherited a war and a strategy that had gone awry. In the ABC interview, Obama said that when he took office, U.S. efforts in Afghanistan were no longer intensely focused on Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

“When we came in, basically, there had been had been drift in our Afghan strategy. Everybody acknowledges that,” Obama said. “We lost that focus for a while and you started seeing a classic case of mission creep, where we’re just there and we start taking on a whole bunch of different missions.”

Obama also told CNN that narrowing the focus of U.S. operations in Afghanistan will also improve the chances of tracking down and killing Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

“If we have a overarching strategy that reminds us every day that that’s our focus… we have a better chance of capturing and killing him and certainly keeping Al Qaida on the run than if we start drifting into a whole bunch of other missions that really aren't related to what is our essential strategic problem and rationale for being there,” the president said.

During his Sunday show interviews, Obama sounded so intent on avoiding “mission creep” that at one point he seemed to rule out any use of American troops in peacekeeping operations that don’t have a direct impact on U.S. security.

“The only reason I send a single young man or woman in uniform anywhere in the world is because I think it’s necessary to keep us safe,” the president said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

If Obama meant to rule out the use of U.S. military personnel to ward off genocide or humanitarian crises, that would be something of a surprise. One of his national security advisers, Samantha Power, is renowned as an advocate of using force to head off massive human rights violations.

The reluctant approach Obama signaled toward the possibility of more troops in Afghanistan sounded broadly consistent with a suggestion his national security adviser, James Jones, made to U.S. commanders during a visit to the country in June. According to the Washington Post, Jones, using a sanitized abbreviation for an expression of surprise, said any request for more troops was likely to cause Obama to experience a “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? moment.”

Obama did not elaborate Sunday on the other missions which he believes distracted U.S. personnel. However, even as elections went forward in Afghanistan last month, his administration was stepping back from some of the Bush administration’s more ambitious goals for democracy in that country and elsewhere.

In recent months, U.S. military and diplomatic personnel have been more willing to cut deals and make alliances with regional chiefs that some Afghans regard as warlords. There have even been discussions about trying to co-opt elements of the Taliban.

“Afghanistan is very much still a tribal area,” CIA director Leon Panetta told Voice of America last week. “Some of the Taliban are to our discouragement are individuals who are engaging in military actions against the United States…Others are those who we think more concerned about trying to establish some stability. So, you don’t just have one brand of Taliban.”

Obama’s comments came as resistance to more troops is also increasing on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said last week that she supports putting time limits on the U.S. military commitment to Afghanistan. “I do not believe we can build a democratic state in Afghanistan. I believe it will remain a tribal entity,” she said.

Others, including Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) have called on Obama to set a flexible timeline for getting out of Afghanistan – much as many Democrats did with Bush on Iraq. Obama didn’t answer directly on whether he supported a timeline, but said his strategy contained “benchmarks” for achievements to assess the progress of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

Clinton said it's how you define sex. I guess Obama is saying it is how you define a tax! If you ask me a BJ is sex just like the govenrment requiring you to buy health insuranse is a tax.


Obama: Health insurance mandate no tax increase

Posted 9/20/2009 4:30 PM ET

By Ben Feller, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says requiring people to get health insurance and fining them if they don't would not amount to a backhanded tax increase.

"I absolutely reject that notion," the president said. Blanketing most of the Sunday TV news shows, Obama defended his proposed health care overhaul, including a key point of the various health care bills on Capitol Hill: mandating that people get health insurance to share the cost burden fairly among all. Those who failed to get coverage would face financial penalties.

Obama said other elements of the plan would make insurance affordable for people, from a new comparison-shopping "exchange" to tax credits.

Telling people to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase, Obama told ABC's "This Week."

"What it's saying is, is that we're not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore," [Well if the Feds repealed the law requiring hospital ER rooms to treat people for free that would happen with out mandating health insuranse] said Obama. "Right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase." [laws that mandate auto insuranse as bad as laws that mandate health insuranse]

Obama faces an enormous political and communications challenge in selling his health care plan as Congress debates how to pay for it all.

He told CBS' "Face the Nation" that he will keep his pledge not to raise taxes on families earning up to $250,000, and that much of the final bill -- hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years -- can be achieved from savings within the current system. Coming up with the rest remains a key legislative obstacle.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said there is no way Obama can achieve his goals without raising taxes.

"He has to. How else do you pay for it?" he told CBS.

Obama put his support behind the idea of taxing employers that offer high-cost insurance plans.

"I do think that giving a disincentive to insurance companies to offer Cadillac plans that don't make people healthier is part of the way that we're going to bring down health care costs for everybody over the long term," Obama said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Obama's network interviews were taped Friday at the White House. He became the first president to appear on five Sunday network shows in the same morning, an extraordinary effort to build public support for his top domestic priority.

The goal is to expand and improve health insurance coverage and rein in long-term costs.

Yet despite so many weeks of speeches, town halls and interviews, Obama said he has found it difficult at times to make a complex topic clear and relevant.

"I've tried to keep it digestible," Obama said. "It's very hard for people to get their arms around it. And that's been a case where I have been humbled and I just keep on trying harder."

Obama told Univision's "Al Punto" ("To the Point") that the strong opposition to his plan is part of a political strategy.

"Well, part of it is ... that the opposition has made a decision," he said. "They are just not going to support anything, for political reasons."

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Obama doesn't understand Republicans' opposition.

"I don't know anybody in my Republican conference in the Senate who's in favor of doing nothing on health care," McConnell said. "We obviously have a cost problem and we have an access problem."

But he told CNN's "State of the Union" that the Democrats' plan is simply too rushed.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Obama has ignored grave concerns over his plan and his media blitz won't change that.

"The president is selling something that people, quite frankly, are not buying," Graham told NBC's "Meet the Press."

"He's been on everything but the Food Channel," he added.

Seems like Obama bends the truth a lot! Something which is called lying.

1) It's not a tax! Well no, he will tax rich people to pay for it.

2) People will be fined if they don't buy health insuranse. Well that is the same as a tax.

3) The government is going to magically reduce health care waste which will pay for the plan. Yea sure!


Obama pitches healthcare in Sunday talk show blitz

He says his message on reform is not 'breaking through.' His critics suggest it's not a communications problem: People just don't like the president's plan.

September 21, 2009

Reporting from Washington - Acknowledging that he hasn't persuaded the American public and Congress to support sweeping changes to healthcare, President Obama offered a humbling admission Sunday: His message is sometimes not "breaking through."

"I think there have been times where I have said, 'I've got to step up my game in terms of talking to the American people about issues like healthcare,' " he said during an unprecedented spree of appearances on five Sunday television news shows.

Asked if he had lost control of the healthcare debate at those times, the president said: "Well, not so much lost control, but where I've said to myself, somehow I'm not breaking through."

The president's Sunday blitz -- which skipped Fox News Channel -- marked yet another effort to explain to a divided public why he is trying to remake the healthcare system. Taped on Friday at the White House, his appearances on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Univision followed a prime-time address to a joint session of Congress this month and a series of town-hall-style appearances and rallies across the country aimed at reviving the fervor for "change" that propelled Obama into the White House. He also plans to be on David Letterman's "Late Show" tonight, a first for a sitting president.

The media venture underscores the administration's confidence that Obama is the best salesman for his policies.

But his critics suggested that people had heard the president's message -- they just weren't buying it.

"Actually, he has broken through. People don't like what he is selling," said Alex Castellanos, a Washington-based Republican consultant and campaign media expert. "This is not a communications problem."

The phalanx of TV appearances presents a risk for the president, as does his broader strategy of staking so much political capital on a healthcare overhaul, said Doug Schoen, a Democratic pollster who served President Clinton.

"If he doesn't get a bill, he's been on five Sunday shows, David Letterman, and, if he doesn't move the needle, it's hard to see how he wins. And the midterm elections become very problematic" for his party, Schoen said. "He is doubling down, betting the ranch and putting it all on the line on the basis that his communications skills are superior and that he can carry the day."

With the proposed healthcare overhaul, Obama and supporters in the Democratic-controlled Congress are promising better health insurance for Americans who already have it and coverage for millions lacking it -- without raising taxes on anyone who earns less than $250,000 a year. They are also aiming to rein in healthcare costs that are consuming a large part of the family budget and, through Medicare and Medicaid, the federal budget.

"I don't think I've promised too much at all," Obama said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” "Everyone recognizes this is a problem. Everyone recognizes the current path we're on is unsustainable. . . . We know that standing still is not an option."

Republicans are not the only ones resisting Obama's plans. So are some lawmakers in his own party.

Many liberal Democrats insist that any healthcare overhaul must include a "public option" -- a government-run health insurance plan to compete with private companies. That's anathema to Republicans and many conservative Democrats.

House Democratic leaders say they cannot pass a bill without a government-run insurance program, but it appears that the Senate cannot pass a bill that includes one.

Obama insists he has not given up on the public option, even though he has said that it's negotiable.

"I absolutely do not believe that it's dead," he said on Spanish-language Univision. "I think that it's something that we can still include as part of a comprehensive reform effort."

The president calmly addressed the fervor of recent protests and the public debate, suggesting that much of the vitriol aimed at him stems from a natural fear of "big changes" in government -- and not, as former President Carter has suggested, because opponents cannot accept the fact that an African American is president.

"Unfortunately, we've got . . . a 24-hour news cycle where what gets you on the news is controversy," Obama said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” "What gets you on the news is the extreme statement. The easiest way to get 15 minutes on the news, or your 15 minutes of fame, is to be rude."

Speaking about his political opponents' stance on healthcare, Obama said on Univision’s “Al Punto Con Jorge Ramos”: "I think that the opposition has made a decision. They are just not going to support anything for political reasons. . . . There's some people who just cynically want to defeat me politically."

The president has called for a civil debate, and analysts said his steadfastness and calmness set a certain tone.

"First, he is the administration's best spokesperson," said John Geer, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University. "Second, he gets to be the story, as opposed to others, such as Jimmy Carter, who can muddle and undermine the message."

Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, lauded Obama's strategy.

"It is a smart move to saturate the Sunday interview shows," West said. "This gives the president a chance to dominate the news cycle and get his views on healthcare into the papers. You cannot buy that kind of publicity."

Asked about the risk of putting so much on the plate without winning any converts, West said: "Presidents have to communicate, because if they don't, their opponents will fill the void."

Those opponents were ready for the Sunday media blitz.

Michael S. Steele, the Republican National Committee chairman, followed Obama on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"The president said a lot without saying anything," Steele said. "There was nothing that moved the needle on this debate."

But Castellanos, the Republican consultant, suggested that Republicans had failed to reach the public with their own healthcare proposals -- leaving Obama to benefit from the absence of a clear GOP alternative.

"If the Republicans have failed at anything, it's to be clear enough that there are alternatives to what he is proposing," Castellanos said.

But he suggested that the president's words could be lost in a storm of controversy -- amid conservative commentary on television, the recent tax protester march on Washington and the sheer length and contentiousness of the healthcare debate.

"When you drop a pebble in a still pond, you make ripples," Castellanos said. "When you drop a pebble in a stormy sea, you change nothing. . . . He dropped a few pebbles in a very stormy sea."


SPIN METER: $2 trillion in health savings? Where?

By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press Writer Alan Fram, Associated Press Writer – Mon Sep 21, 3:35 am ET

WASHINGTON – It was a watershed moment in the health care struggle: Leaders of the insurance, hospital and other medical industries stood with President Barack Obama at the White House and promised steps to save $2 trillion over the next decade.

Whatever happened to those savings, announced with much fanfare well before Congress had written any of the costly health overhaul bills now in play? Industry groups say they're a work in progress. Many health analysts say they're largely speculative.

"We should have cashed the check in May," said Joe Antos, a health expert for the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "Those numbers never had any great significance then and there's little now."

The White House event on May 11 clearly had political significance. It was an early sign that the same interest groups that helped derail President Bill Clinton's drive to reshape the nation's health system in the early 1990s were willing to give it a go this year. That helped create momentum for Obama's effort.

"The value is it showed the interest groups were trying to be at the table this time," said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan group that studies health issues.

The promised savings, however, are a different matter.

For starters, the $2 trillion in reduced costs for care, administrative work and other medical expenses were supposed to be savings for the entire economy, not just the government.

That means that even if the savings were realized, much of it — no one knows exactly how much — would not be available to help Congress pay for its health overhaul bills. Those measures have ranged from an $856 billion bill by the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to House Democrats' $1.5 trillion version, both covering 10 years.

So far, the pharmaceutical and hospital industries have agreed to cuts that would total $235 billion in 10-year savings for the government. That's a fraction of both the cost of health legislation and the $2 trillion in promised reductions.

"Insurance companies, drug companies are going to have to be ponying up," Obama said Sunday on CBS-TV's "Face the Nation," without specifying any amounts.

Health care executives say their effort to produce the savings is real and ongoing. They say they continue to talk, within the industry and with government officials, about initiatives to produce the money. Some would require federal approval, while providers could adopt others on their own.

"We're committed to getting rid of unnecessary costs," Dr. J. James Rohack, president of the American Medical Association, said in an interview.

Industry officials also cite a 28-page letter they sent Obama in June, following up on their May announcement, that described steps they were advocating.

In it, drug makers proposed improvements in assuring patients follow doctors' orders on taking prescriptions. Insurers wanted to streamline administrative work such as submitting claims, while the AMA said it has begun studying ways to reduce unneeded medical procedures.

The American Hospital Association said it was seeking ways to reduce hospital infections, while medical device manufacturers said they are looking for ways to reduce medical errors. Another participant — the Service Employees International Union, representing hospital and other health care workers — suggested savings through moving more patients from nursing facilities to their homes.

"We've been working with members of Congress to honor our commitment," said Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, the insurance industry trade group.

Analysts, though, say there are no assurances the proposals will become reality. The plans lack detail, could take years to perfect and implement, and in some cases could be resisted by practitioners inside and outside the medical profession who don't want to lose money, they say.

The AMA, for example, says money could be saved by forgoing unneeded procedures if doctors could be protected from malpractice lawsuits as long as they followed specified treatments. Trial lawyers are vehemently against limits on such suits, however, and it is unclear what Congress will do when these two well-funded lobbies clash.

Experts also cite the uncertainty of measuring how much money the proposals would save because it would be hard to calculate what medical spending would have been without them. In addition, it would be difficult to enforce the new rules. A medical company, for example, might lose income in one area but raise prices in another to earn the money back.

Robert Reischauer, a former head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and now president of the Urban Institute, put it this way: "There's no way they could make it a number you could write down on a deposit slip for a bank."


On the Net:

Kaiser Family Foundation:

American Medical Association:

American Hospital Association:

Service Employees International Union:

America's Health Insurance Plans:

Obama is a big time socialist who wants to expand the failing American government school system.

American kids currently spend more time in school then Oriental kids, but American kids get worse grades then the same Oriental kids. That is not because American kids are stupid, it is probably is because American schools are lousy. Obama wants to American kids to spend even more time in the failing system, and throw more money into a system that doesn't work!. The solution is to get government out of the schools!


More school: Obama would curtail summer vacation

By LIBBY QUAID, AP Education Writer Libby Quaid, Ap Education Writer – 2 hrs 55 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama gets his way.

Obama says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe.

"Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas," the president said earlier this year. "Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom."

The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go.

"Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

Fifth-grader Nakany Camara is of two minds. She likes the four-week summer program at her school, Brookhaven Elementary School in Rockville, Md. Nakany enjoys seeing her friends there and thinks summer school helped boost her grades from two Cs to the honor roll.

But she doesn't want a longer school day. "I would walk straight out the door," she said.

Domonique Toombs felt the same way when she learned she would stay for an extra three hours each day in sixth grade at Boston's Clarence R. Edwards Middle School.

"I was like, `Wow, are you serious?'" she said. "That's three more hours I won't be able to chill with my friends after school."

Her school is part of a 3-year-old state initiative to add 300 hours of school time in nearly two dozen schools. Early results are positive. Even reluctant Domonique, who just started ninth grade, feels differently now. "I've learned a lot," she said.

Does Obama want every kid to do these things? School until dinnertime? Summer school? And what about the idea that kids today are overscheduled and need more time to play?


Obama and Duncan say kids in the United States need more school because kids in other nations have more school.

"Young people in other countries are going to school 25, 30 percent longer than our students here," Duncan told the AP. "I want to just level the playing field."

While it is true that kids in many other countries have more school days, it's not true they all spend more time in school.

Kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests — Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years (190 to 201 days) than does the U.S. (180 days).


Regardless, there is a strong case for adding time to the school day.

Researcher Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution looked at math scores in countries that added math instruction time. Scores rose significantly, especially in countries that added minutes to the day, rather than days to the year.

"Ten minutes sounds trivial to a school day, but don't forget, these math periods in the U.S. average 45 minutes," Loveless said. "Percentage-wise, that's a pretty healthy increase."

In the U.S., there are many examples of gains when time is added to the school day.

Charter schools are known for having longer school days or weeks or years. For example, kids in the KIPP network of 82 charter schools across the country go to school from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than three hours longer than the typical day. They go to school every other Saturday and for three weeks in the summer. KIPP eighth-grade classes exceed their school district averages on state tests.

In Massachusetts' expanded learning time initiative, early results indicate that kids in some schools do better on state tests than do kids at regular public schools. The extra time, which schools can add as hours or days, is for three things: core academics — kids struggling in English, for example, get an extra English class; more time for teachers; and enrichment time for kids.

Regular public schools are adding time, too, though it is optional and not usually part of the regular school day. Their calendar is pretty much set in stone. Most states set the minimum number of school days at 180 days, though a few require 175 to 179 days.

Several schools are going year-round by shortening summer vacation and lengthening other breaks.

Many schools are going beyond the traditional summer school model, in which schools give remedial help to kids who flunked or fell behind.

Summer is a crucial time for kids, especially poorer kids, because poverty is linked to problems that interfere with learning, such as hunger and less involvement by their parents.

That makes poor children almost totally dependent on their learning experience at school, said Karl Alexander, a sociology professor at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, home of the National Center for Summer Learning.

Disadvantaged kids, on the whole, make no progress in the summer, Alexander said. Some studies suggest they actually fall back. Wealthier kids have parents who read to them, have strong language skills and go to great lengths to give them learning opportunities such as computers, summer camp, vacations, music lessons, or playing on sports teams.

"If your parents are high school dropouts with low literacy levels and reading for pleasure is not hard-wired, it's hard to be a good role model for your children, even if you really want to be," Alexander said.

Extra time is not cheap. The Massachusetts program costs an extra $1,300 per student, or 12 percent to 15 percent more than regular per-student spending, said Jennifer Davis, a founder of the program. It received more than $17.5 million from the state Legislature last year.

The Montgomery County, Md., summer program, which includes Brookhaven, received $1.6 million in federal stimulus dollars to operate this year and next, but it runs for only 20 days.

Aside from improving academic performance, Education Secretary Duncan has a vision of schools as the heart of the community. Duncan, who was Chicago's schools chief, grew up studying alongside poor kids on the city's South Side as part of the tutoring program his mother still runs.

"Those hours from 3 o'clock to 7 o'clock are times of high anxiety for parents," Duncan said. "They want their children safe. Families are working one and two and three jobs now to make ends meet and to keep food on the table."


Associated Press writer Russell Contreras in Boston contributed to this report.

How do you spell pork! So the Federal government thinks it should be involved in the Olympics!


Obama to make in-person pitch for Olympics

Sept. 28, 2009 07:14 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will travel to Denmark to support Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, projecting the highest-ever White House profile in lobbying for the international event.

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, told The Associated Press Monday morning that Obama will leave Thursday and join his wife, Michelle, in Copenhagen, where they'll make the pitch to the International Olympic Committee. Obama would be the first U.S. president to actually appeal in person to the International Olympic Committee for an Olympics event.

The International Olympic Committee is meeting in Copenhagen to select a host city for the 2016 Summer Games. Chicago faces tough competition from Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo. The White House later formally announced the trip, saying that Obama and his wife "will both make presentations to the IOC during Friday's session. They will discuss why Chicago is best to host the 2016 Summer Games, and how the United States is eager to bring the world together to celebrate the ideals of the Olympic movement." The IOC is scheduled to decide the site on Friday.

While in Denmark, the statement said, Obama and his wife also will meet with Queen Margrethe and the president will meet with Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen of Denmark.

Obama, who represented Illinois in the U.S. Senate after serving in the Illinois Legislature, is a longtime supporter of Chicago's bid. Michelle Obama is a native of the city and he considers it his adopted home town. Obama recently sent letters to selected IOC members promising a "spectacular Olympic experience for one and all."

"President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama symbolize the hope, opportunity and inspiration that makes Chicago great, and we are honored to have two of our city's most accomplished residents leading our delegation in Copenhagen," Mayor Richard M. Daley said in a statement. "Who better to share with members of the International Olympic Committee the commitment and enthusiasm Chicago has for the Olympic and Paralympic Movement than the President and First Lady."

The president had held off on announcing a trip to Copenhagen, saying his first priority was the ongoing debate in Washington over health care reform. But aides said the president determined that his trip wouldn't take away from that process. The legislation is a signature piece of his domestic policy agenda and negotiations on Capitol Hill have been contentious.

But with heads of state representing Rio and Madrid already scheduled to attend the IOC meeting Friday, Chicago's bid organizers had hoped Obama would make an in-person appeal.

"I don't think there's an IOC member on the planet that wouldn't love to meet your president. He's a transformational figure in the world today," longtime IOC member Dick Pound said recently.

Obama is also mobilizing his administration on behalf of Chicago's bid. Senior adviser Jarrett, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, will also be joining the president and first lady in Copenhagen. All are from Illinois.

They join a Chicago contingent already packed with more star power than a Hollywood red carpet. The first lady is one of the few people who rivals her husband in visibility, and she'll be joined by talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who trails only Angelina Jolie on Forbes' annual Celebrity 100 list, a ranking of the rich and famous' most powerful.

Chicago is also bringing 14 Olympic and two Paralympic gold medalists, including Michael Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Nadia Comaneci and Nastia Liukin.

Doesn't the Secret Service have any real criminals to hunt down?


Secret Service probing Facebook poll on Obama

Sept. 28, 2009 12:10 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Secret Service is investigating an online survey that asked whether people thought President Barack Obama should be assassinated, officials said Monday.

The poll, posted Saturday on Facebook, was taken off the popular social networking site quickly after company officials were alerted to its existence. But, like any threat against the president, Secret Service agents are taking no chances.

“We are aware of it and we will take the appropriate investigative steps,” said Darrin Blackford, a Secret Service spokesman. “We take of these things seriously.” The poll asked respondents “Should Obama be killed?” The choices: No, Maybe, Yes, and Yes if he cuts my health care.

The question was not created by Facebook, but by an independent person using an add-on application that has been suspended from the site.

“The third-party application that enabled an individual user to create the offensive poll was brought to our attention this morning,” said Barry Schnitt, Facebook's spokesman for policy.

Because the application was disabled, the responses to the nonscientific polls are not available.

“We're working with the U.S. Secret Service, but they'll need to provide any details of their investigation,” Schnitt said.

Is Obama the President of Chicago?

Who is paying for this? The American taxpayers or the city of Chicago?


Obama runs risk in his push for Chicago Games

by Peter Slevin - Sept. 29, 2009 12:00 AM

Washington Post

CHICAGO - In the final days of Chicago's quest to host the 2016 Olympics, President Barack Obama is making himself a central player in the race to bring the Summer Games to his adopted hometown, raising the political stakes for the White House with no assurance that the Windy City will win.

Obama announced Monday that he will fly to Denmark for a speaking part in Chicago's final presentation to the International Olympic Committee, ending what has been a concerted behind-the-scenes lobbying effort by the White House and Obama friends on behalf of their hometown. First lady Michelle Obama, born and raised on the city's South Side, will also address IOC members, who will make their decision Friday, choosing among Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

Obama said in mid-September that health-care legislation probably would keep him too busy to make the trip, but he now plans to leave Washington on Thursday night for Copenhagen, returning Friday afternoon. "I think the president believes health care is in better shape," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "I believe he felt strongly and personally that he should go and make the case for the United States, and that's what he's going to do."

Obama appears to be taking a calculated risk. He is setting up the Olympic bidding process as a measure of his powers of diplomatic persuasion while simultaneously confronting issues such as health care, Afghan policy and Iran's nuclear ambitions - potentially raising questions anew about whether he is doing too much at once.

"You're darned if you do, you're darned if you don't. I'd rather be on the side of doing it," Michelle Obama told reporters, referring to her husband's Olympics decision. "One conversation or one example or illustration that connects could make a difference, and our view is we're not taking a chance."

The competing cities will each be represented in Copenhagen by a head of government, but Obama will be the first U.S. president to make such a per- sonal pitch.

Gibbs called the Chicago bid "far and away" the strongest of the contenders and said in response to potential criticism: "Surely it's within the purview of the president to root for America."

Loyalty to Chicago was central to Obama's choice. And the connection between the city's host committee and the White House could hardly be closer, with speechwriters, Cabinet officers and other administration figures working to capture an Olympics whose opening ceremony would take place three blocks from the Obamas' South Side house.

At last week's meetings at the United Nations and the Group of 20 economic summit in Pittsburgh, the Obamas made pitches to foreign leaders. They have also made personal appeals to IOC members, an effort that will intensify when Michelle Obama arrives in Copenhagen on Wednesday.

Valerie Jarrett, an adviser to the president who also was a deputy chairwoman of the Chicago host committee, is coordinating the White House effort and will accompany the first lady.

"It's like a caucus, where we're really looking at every single IOC member and what strategy we should implement to secure their votes," said Jarrett, who spent an hour last week with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, widely credited with swaying the last few votes when London edged out Paris in the contest to host the 2012 Games.

If the voting goes beyond one round and Chicago survives as expected, the second choices of some IOC members will come into play.

The Chicago proposal, which carries a city government guarantee against cost overruns, has been in the works for more than three years. Mayor Richard M. Daley, a Democrat, has acted as cheerleader in chief, arguing that the Olympics would boost the Windy City's image and spirits and bring in billions of dollars.

Despite an effort widely endorsed by the city's business and political luminaries, a recent Chicago Tribune/WGN poll suggested that residents are divided. Forty-seven percent favored the bid, and 45 percent opposed it.

Daley blamed economic anxiety and the media, saying Chicago residents would come around.

He contends that the Olympics would be a transforming moment for a city whose international profile has already risen because of Obama.

I wonder if the govenrment lies as much as parents lie? Come on that is a silly question! The government lies more then parents? Haven't you heard of the police testilying? Ever hear of an elected official who did what he promised to do when he was running for office? What about those WMD or Weapons of Mass Destruction Bush told us that existed in Iraq? And Obama told us at least 5 or 6 lies before he got elected! And of course Congressman Harry Mitchell always slings the BS by starting out almost every question with "Both Republicans and Democrats agree that ... " and then he dodges the question and doesn't answer it.


Parents Lie to Children Surprisingly Often – Tue Sep 29, 8:32 am ET

Parents might say "honesty is the best policy," but when it comes to interacting with their own kids, mom and dad stretch the truth with the best of them, finds a new study.

From claiming the existence of magical creatures to odd consequences of kids' actions, parents often come up with creative tales to shape a child's behaviors and emotions.

"We are surprised by how often parenting by lying takes place," said study researcher Kang Lee of the University of Toronto, Canada. "Our findings showed that even the parents who most strongly promoted the importance of honesty with their children engaged in parenting by lying."

Lee and colleagues acknowledge that their work is preliminary, bringing to the forefront an issue that is rarely studied. They are not sure the implications of parental lying, but suggest such tall tales could give kids mixed messages at a time when they are trying to figure out how to navigate the social world.

Lies could also harm parent-child bonds, said study researcher Gail Heyman of the University of California, San Diego.

It could even keep children from learning certain rules. "If I am always lying to the child in order to get the child to do X, Y, or Z, then they have never learned why they should do X, Y, or Z," said Victoria Talwar of McGill University in Montreal, who was not involved in the current study. "If it's constantly being used, [lying] may be preventing learning opportunities for the child."

The scientists also acknowledge that it's sometimes okay to be less than truthful with a child, say, telling a fib about how beautiful a scribbled drawing looks. But Heyman urges parents to think through the issues and consider alternatives before resorting to the expedient prevarication.

The research is published in the September issue of the Journal of Moral Education and was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The lies we tell

To get the scoop on lying parents, the researchers ran two studies in which parents and students commented on nine hypothetical scenarios in which a parent lied to a child to either shape behavior or make the kid happy.

For instance, one behavior-molding scenario reads: "A parent is embarrassed by a child's crying and says, 'The police will come to make sure that you behave if you don't stop crying now.'"

Another scenario, aimed at shaping emotions, goes: "A favorite uncle has just died and the child is told that he has become a star to watch over the child." Another emotion-shifter: "A child is told, 'you did a good job at cleaning up your room' after making things messier."

In one study, about 130 undergraduates read each scenario and indicated on a scale from 1 (absolutely no) to 7 (absolutely yes) whether their parents had said something similar to them.

Nearly 90 percent of students gave a positive rating (5 or greater) to at least one of the tales.

Then, the researchers tested the scenarios on nearly 130 parents, mostly moms, asking each participant to indicate whether they had told similar lies. Parents also rated on a scale from 1 (very bad) to 7 (very good) what the parent in each vignette had said. More than 70 percent said they teach their children that lying is unacceptable. Even so, nearly 80 percent of parents indicated they had told at least one similar lie.

Their own examples revealed parental lying went beyond the little white lie in which politeness or the child's best interest was at stake. Parents were fibbing to prevent tantrums or excessive talking, for instance.

Many parents reported telling their children that bad things would happen if they didn't go to bed or eat certain foods. One mother recalled telling her child that if he didn't finish his food he would get pimples all over his face.

Others reported inventing magical creatures, with one parent saying, "We told our daughter that if she wrapped up all her pacifiers like gifts, the 'paci-fairy' would come and give them to children who needed them...I thought it was healthier to get rid of the pacifiers, and it was a way for her to feel proud and special."

Why parents lie

Parents lie for various reasons, Heyman said, ranging from benefiting the parents themselves (say, lying to keep a child from crying when you head out for dinner) to protecting the child from scary issues, such as lying to a child about a murder in the news.

"Children sometimes behave in ways that are disruptive or are likely to harm their long-term interests," said Heyman. "It is common for parents to try out a range of strategies, including lying, to gain compliance. When parents are juggling the demands of getting through the day, concerns about possible long-term negative consequences to children's beliefs about honesty are not necessarily at the forefront."

Regardless of whether parental lying is justified, Heyman said parents should figure out their policy on it ahead of time.

"Parents often lie on the spur of the moment, and they don't think about what they're saying and how it will affect their child," Heyman told LiveScience. She added, "I think parents should figure it out in advance what their general beliefs are so when it comes to the situation you're working with your beliefs rather than what pops into your head at the moment."


Michelle Obama arrives for Olympics pitch

Sept. 30, 2009 07:18 AM

Associated Press

COPENHAGEN - Michelle Obama's welcoming party was more like a stopover. She chatted with the ambassador, kissed Chicago Mayor Richard Daley on the cheek and gave her old friends quick hugs hello before climbing into the waiting SUV.

With only two days until the 2016 games are awarded, there's no time to waste.

Mrs. Obama arrived here Wednesday morning to lend her support to Chicago's efforts to win the 2016 Summer Olympics. As head of Chicago's delegation - and her husband's representative until he arrives Friday - she plans to meet with as many IOC members as possible to try to persuade them to pick her hometown over Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo.

"That's the perspective I bring," Mrs. Obama said earlier this week, referring to her Chicago roots. "That's the voice that I'm most comfortable using. But in this case, it's probably helpful, particularly given the fact that so much of where the games are going to be held are sort of right in my backyard."

President Barack Obama has been an ardent supporter of the bid since he was a U.S. Senator, and he's been working the phones in recent weeks. But when it looked as if the health care debate might keep him in Washington, he asked his wife to come to Copenhagen to meet with IOC members.

"Our goal is this: we don't take a single vote for granted," said Valerie Jarrett, Obama's senior adviser and former vice chair of Chicago 2016. "We're going to work as hard as we have for the last three-plus years in the last couple of days."

Although IOC president Jacques Rogge has taken great pains to say heads of state aren't expected to attend, their presence has been instrumental in recent votes. Tony Blair is widely credited for tipping the 2012 vote in London's favor, spending two days doing one-on-one meetings with IOC members in his hotel suite.

Vladimir Putin did much the same thing two years later, when Sochi won the 2014 Olympics.

And there are few people better to sell Chicago's bid than Michelle Obama.

Funny, gracious and incredibly accomplished, she's one of the few people who can rival her husband's popularity. She also knows the neighborhoods where the games would be, having grown up on the South Side of Chicago. The Obamas' Chicago home is a short walk from the planned Olympic stadium.

"These are my neighborhoods," Mrs. Obama said.

Jarrett met with Blair last week to get advice on making the best use of these last few days. Because most IOC members are just beginning to arrive, Mrs. Obama flew in Wednesday morning - on a plane with a big U.S. flag on the tail and "United States of America" on its side.

The U.S. ambassador to Denmark, Laurie S. Fulton, was there to greet her, as were Daley and his wife, Maggie, Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Chicago 2016 president Lori Healey and Marty Nesbitt, one of the president's good friends. Kai Holm, president of the Danish Olympic Committee, also was there.

Mrs. Obama planned to meet with IOC members later Wednesday and Thursday, and also has a meeting scheduled with Rogge. She'll attend Chicago's welcome bash - along with Oprah Winfrey - and has lunch plans Thursday with the Danish queen.

On Friday, she and her husband will both be part of Chicago's final presentation to IOC members.

"We're not going to sing together or anything," Mrs. Obama said recently, drawing laughs. "I don't know if I can elaborate any more without giving away too much of it. ... All I have are my stories, my experiences as a Chicagoan, as an American, as someone who believes deeply that health and fitness have got to play a greater role in the lives of our kids and our communities, and as someone who believes that the


Some Chicago residents hoping Olympics bid a bust

By DON BABWIN, Associated Press Writer Don Babwin, Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO – The mayor, the president and Oprah Winfrey may hope to return to Chicago from Copenhagen with the 2016 Olympic Games, but some around town hope the International Olympic Committee deems the Second City the second city.

As in second to Rio de Janeiro. Or Tokyo. Or Madrid.

The opposition is not as visible as the "We Back the Bid" signs plastered across town. But in a city all too familiar with stories of public corruption and problems with public services, there is serious concern the games can only mean more troubles — and bills — for residents.

"I know it's going to cost us money somehow," said Joseph Patrick, a 51-year-old stay-at-home dad. "The government doesn't have a job (so) the only place they can get money is from us."

A new Web site — — is the talk of the town and features the game "Match the Olympic host with its estimated budget overrun." About 170 protesters marched outside City Hall on Tuesday night, many insisting that no matter what organizers say, the games will push people from their homes, lead to more corruption and raise taxes.

"I don't believe anything the city and the 2016 committee says," said Larry Rivkin, who grew up in Chicago.

At least one person was later arrested for trying to interfere with workers erecting Olympic symbols in a downtown plaza.

It's not that the bid does not enjoy wide support. Laid-off laborer Dennis Ries, 45, said the Olympics would bring jobs. Resident Molly Mason, 53, sees the games enhancing tourism and public transportation.

"There's no downside, only upside," Mason said.

Others note protests routinely accompany Olympic bids.

"The Olympics always galvanizes all sorts of opposition," said A.D. Frazier, chief operating officer for the 1996 Atlanta Games.

In Chicago, though, the opposition seems to be getting stronger.

A poll released this month by the Chicago Tribune showed residents almost evenly split, with 47 percent in favor of the bid and 45 percent against; that's a drop from the 2-1 support the newspaper found in a February poll.

The 2016 bid committee said its own poll last week shows support from 72 percent of Chicagoans. But even that segment has concerns.

Seconds after saying the games in Chicago would be "thrilling," Susan Blaine was wondering what tens of thousands more riders will do to an already overwhelmed public transportation system.

"A Cubs game turns my commute to chaos," said Blaine, 51. "You're belly button to belly button."

For others, concerns about taxes have only intensified since Mayor Richard Daley flip-flopped in April, telling the IOC he'd sign a contract promising the city would take full financial responsibility for the games after long maintaining he wouldn't.

"For a lot of people that was definitely a major moment, when they said, `Wait a minute, we're going to be ... on the hook financially for a very large amount,'" said Anna Tarkov, who writes The Daily Daley blog and opposes the bid.

Organizers have tried to allay such fears, but it can be a tough sell at a time of headline-grabbing corruption cases, the biggest one involving former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich — a Chicagoan accused of trying to sell President Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.

"I just think that the history of corruption sets the stage for a brutal series of events like misuse of funds and insider dealings," said Brian Hayes, 53, of Chicago.

Frazier, of the Atlanta Games, doesn't think the opposition matters to the IOC.

"They will probably be disappointed if there wasn't anything," he said.

Members of a group called No Games Chicago hope he's wrong. They're headed to Copenhagen to tell the IOC that Chicago is in such financial straits that it cannot afford the games and is such a hotbed of political corruption that it doesn't deserve them.

"We are bringing materials to back up our claim that Chicago is not fit to host the games," said Tom Tresser, an organizer for the group.


Chicago doesn't get 2016 Olympics

COPENHAGEN – Chicago was eliminated in the first ballot of voting for the 2016 Olympics on Friday, a stunning defeat for the city that was expected to be one of the two finalists. Tokyo was also eliminated, leaving Rio de Janeiro and Madrid as the finalists.

Not even the presence of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama — nor a long list of celebrities — was enough to help the United States' third-largest city.

Chicago had seemed to pick up momentum in the last few days, with many International Olympic Committee members seemingly charmed by Mrs. Obama. But when IOC president Jacques Rogge announced the results of the first vote, Chicago's name was announced.


Olympic-sized loss of political face for Obama and Daley

posted by Rick Pearson

Chicago’s first-round knockout in the voting for the 2016 Olympic Games presents a serious loss of face to President Barack Obama and Mayor Richard Daley, who each staked personal as well as political capital on the city’s bid.

Obama, who had originally placed a priority on passage of healthcare reform over a trip to Copenhagen, was in the air returning to the United States from the International Olympic Committee voting site as his hometown was tossed out of consideration.

It was a worst-case scenario for the president, who was already facing criticism for getting involved in the effort even before the decision was made. Obama has found his public support slumping amid the controversial efforts to reform the health care system, the national recession and the war in Afghanistan. Nationally, Republicans had been using Obama’s choice to quickly fly to Copenhagen as an effort to help his “Chicago Fat Cat Friends.” The GOP pointed out that the September unemployment for the country had risen to 9.8 percent while the president was trying to bring jobs to Chicago “seven years from now.”

Daley, who had derided the Olympic selection process before throwing his weight behind a Chicago bid in 2005, was counting on a win to boost Chicago’s economy and reinvigorate his own standing. The quick loss represents an embarrassment of international and local dimensions for a mayor who has dominated the city landscape and is used to getting what he wants.

Princeton presidential scholar Fred Greenstein said for Obama, “the net result will be negative, but on the other hand, I don’t think this will be a body blow to his presidency.”

The loss would have been diminished if Chicago actually had made it to the final rounds of voting, he said.

“It doesn’t do him any good, I don’t think,” Greenstein said of Chicago’s first-round ouster. “He certainly made the effort. Even Obama has limits to his energy, including crossing the Atlantic to make the presentation.”

The defeat “means more in Chicago, than it does in the nation,” he noted. “I think it’s a fairly small issue compared with health and whether the economy bounces back and whether the administration does something plausible in Afghanistan.”

In today’s highly polarized political environment, Obama stands to be criticized for whatever he does, and an ongoing problem—slippage in his support from centrist voters—could be exacerbated by Chicago’s defeat, since Obama threw his personal and political prestige behind it, Greenstein said.


City Council's $3.7 million allowance:

How aldermen spent taxpayer moneyBy Hal Dardick, Ryan Mark, Joe Germuska and Brian Boyer | Tribune Staff

Aug. 15, 2009

Aldermen hired relatives, friends and campaign workers, leased automobiles and rented downtown parking spaces with money from their taxpayer-funded expense accounts, according to city databases and public records compiled by the Tribune.

The aldermen's expense allowance more than doubled in 2008 to $73,280 each from $33,280. Half of the city's 50 aldermen spent more than $70,000 of last year’s allowance. The municipal code of the City of Chicago defines appropriate uses for the allowance but allows broad discretion by the City Council members. Oversight is minimal. Aldermen are merely told to ensure that their spending is legal.

Aldermen spent $132,788 on automobile leases, $28,186 on downtown parking spots and $11,277 on bottled water. The city last year allocated up to $3.7 million for expenses; aldermen spent $3.1 million.

It is interesting to see how out of touch with the public the Chicago city council members are. They voted 49 to zero to try to host the Olympics. But polls show that the public is split on wanting to host the Olympics in Chicago. 50% of the people want to host them and 50% of the people are against hosting the Olympics!


Chicago aldermen, lawmakers 'stunned' by city's quick Olympics loss

Posted by Hal Dardick and Katherine Skiba

Chicago aldermen, who voted 49-0 last month in a show of support for the Olympic bid, said they're "stunned" by today's swift elimination of the city from the competition to host the 2016 Summer Games.

Ald. Robert Fioretti, 2nd, whose ward would have included many Olympic facilities, said he was shocked by the decision.

“It’s geo-political forces that were beyond our control,” he said, citing a perception that U.S. actions triggered the worldwide recession. “We had a good bid, a solid bid,” he added. “It was one that we should all be proud of. It would have propelled us beyond any other city in the United States.”

Word spread quickly in Washington. “It’s disappointing,” said one Capitol Hill aide. “We’re all watching the coverage. Sen. Durbin was fully behind the bid, and it’s disappointing.”

Durbin, the assistant Senate majority leader, was on board Air Force One with President Obama when the news came.

The senator had predicted large sums of federal money would flow to Illinois if Chicago captured the Games.

“We feel that this is going to bring about investments in infrastructure, mass transit, highways and housing that will create jobs, spark the economy of Illinois and leave a solid legacy to build on,” he said Thursday before departing for Denmark.

Freshman U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Chicago, chose to look on the bright side.

"Chicago was a world-class city before today’s decision, and Chicago will be a world-class city tomorrow. Although disappointment hangs in the air, this is not the time for regret, but rather to see opportunity in the incredible work that was done across Chicago over the past months," Quigley said in a statement.

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, 4th, whose ward would have housed the Olympic Village, said she was “stunned” that Chicago was eliminated in the first round.

“I have no idea” why it turned out that way, she said, adding that it likely had to do with “the dynamics of the international Olympic community.”

But she said development of the Michael Reese Hospital site, which the city bought, would proceed anyway.

“We’re going to develop the site, and I think it’s a great location for a new community in Chicago, even without the Olympics,” Preckwinkle said. “It would have been easier if we had the Olympics. We would have had more resources.”

She added: “It’s a beautiful spot on the lakefront. I don’t think it will be hard to pitch to a developer.”

Asked if the bid loss hurt Daley politically, she said: “Every effort was made to secure the bid. It’s not as if we didn’t put our best foot forward and do everything we could to prepare for the bid.”

Ald. Joe Moore, 49th, was at a crowded Daley Center Plaza hoping for a victory celebration, said there was a great sense of disbelief among the hundreds of people assembled there.

“It sounds cliché to say this, but it’s true: It was complete and utter shock,” Moore said. “I don’t think anyone expected us to be eliminated in the first round. Nobody. So people could not believe what they were hearing.”

He compared the predictions that Chicago and Rio de Janeiro were in the lead to predictions made about election contests.

“I guess the lesson is that conventional wisdom is wrong more often than it’s right,” he said. “That’s certainly true in politics. It is true here. Nobody though we were going to be eliminated in round one.”

Like Fioretti, Moore speculated that the IOC’s decision had more to do with international perceptions than the bid itself.

“I think it has more to do with geo-politics than local politics,” he said. “I’m just speculating, but New York got hammered four years ago, and today we go our head handed two us.”


Jobless rate reaches 9.8 percent in September

By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer Christopher S. Rugaber, Ap Economics Writer

WASHINGTON – The unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent in September, the highest since June 1983, as employers cut far more jobs than expected.

The report shows that the worst recession since the 1930s is still inflicting widespread pain and underscores one of the biggest threats to the nascent economic recovery: that consumers, worried about job losses and stagnant wages, will restrain spending. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the nation's economy.

Most analysts expect the economy to continue to improve, but at a slow, uneven pace. Government stimulus efforts, such as the Cash for Clunkers auto rebates, likely boosted the economy in the July-September quarter, but economists worry that growth will slow once the impact of such programs fades.

"Consumers ... are going to struggle to increase their income," said Brian Fabbri, North American chief economist for BNP Paribas. "If they're struggling, they're not consuming. That just takes some of the legs out of recovery."

The Labor Department said Friday that the economy lost a net total of 263,000 jobs last month, from a downwardly revised 201,000 in August. That's worse than Wall Street economists' expectations of 180,000 job losses, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

The unemployment rate rose from 9.7 percent in August, matching expectations.

If laid-off workers who have settled for part-time work or have given up looking for new jobs are included, the unemployment rate rose to 17 percent, the highest on records dating from 1994.

All told, 15.1 million Americans are now out of work, the department said. And 7.2 million jobs have been eliminated since the recession began in December 2007.

The stock market was down modestly in afternoon trading. The Dow Jones industrial average dipped about 5 points, and broader indices also edged down.

The department said 571,000 of the unemployed dropped out of the work force last month, presumably out of frustration over the lack of jobs. That sent the participation rate, or the percentage of the population either working or looking for work, to a 23-year low.

The unemployment rate would have topped 10 percent if the labor force hadn't shrank, Fabbri said.

Older, laid-off workers are dropping out and requesting Social Security at a faster-than-expected pace, according to government officials. The Social Security Administration said earlier this week that applications for retirement benefits are 23 percent higher than last year, while disability claims have risen by about 20 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of people out of work for six months or longer jumped to a record 5.4 million, and they now make up almost 36 percent of the unemployed — also a record.

Persistent joblessness could pose political problems for President Barack Obama, who pushed through an ambitious $787 billion stimulus package in February intended to "save or create" 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010.

"We still think the overall trend is moving in the right direction," said Christina Romer, chair of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. "We're going from much larger job losses earlier this year. They are moderating. We want them to moderate more."

Republicans note that job losses have continued despite the stimulus. "Wasteful government spending is not the solution to what ails this economy," said Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, chairman of the House Republican caucus.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday that even if the economy were to grow at a 3 percent pace in the coming quarters, it would not be enough to quickly drive down the unemployment rate. Bernanke said the rate is likely to remain above 9 percent through the end of 2010.

Besides the sagging jobs market, other potential obstacles to a smooth recovery include wary consumers, the troubled commercial real estate market, and a tight lending environment for individuals and businesses, said Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

"These challenges will likely make the recovery rather restrained by historical standards, with subdued levels of spending and lending continuing to hold back a more rapid recovery," Rosengren said in a speech in Boston on Friday.

Against that backdrop, key monetary and fiscal policy supports will need to be keep in place to help foster a recovery, Rosengren said.

Hourly earnings rose by a penny last month, while weekly wages fell $1.54 to $616.11, according to the government data.

The average hourly work week fell back to a record low of 33 in September. That figure is important because economists are looking for companies to add more hours for current workers before they hire new ones.

The uncertainty that surrounds the recovery has made employers reluctant to hire. The Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs from large corporations, said earlier this week that only 13 percent of its members expect to increase hiring over the next six months.

While job losses have slowed since the first quarter of this year when they averaged 691,000 a month, the cuts actually worsened last month in many sectors compared with August.

Construction jobs fell by 64,000, more than the 60,000 eliminated in August. And service sector companies cut 147,000 jobs, more than double the 69,000 in the previous month. Retailers lost 38,500 jobs, compared to less than 9,000 in August.

Government jobs fell 53,000, the report said, with local governments cutting the most.

One the bright side, temporary help agencies eliminated only 1,700 jobs, down from the previous month. Economists see temporary jobs as a leading indicator, as employers are likely to hire temp workers before permanent ones.

Tig Gilliam, CEO of Adecco North America, a temporary job agency, said the industry likely will add jobs next month.

According to a separate report Friday, U.S. factory orders fell in August by the largest amount in five months.

The Commerce Department said demand for manufactured goods dropped 0.8 percent, much worse than the 0.7 percent gain that economists had expected. The August decline reflected plunging demand for commercial aircraft, a category that surged in July.


AP Economics Writer Jeannine Aversa and Associated Press Writer Mark S. Smith contributed to this report.

Look I am against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 100 percent. But if we are going to have armys and generals they should be allowed to tell the public about how they feel about the White Houses plan to fight the war!


White House furious at Gen. McChrystal for publicly objecting to new strategy

October 5, 2009 | 8:36 am

It started in London last week, when Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who heads U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, told an audience at the Institute of International and Strategic Studies that he does not support a new military strategy being floated privately by Vice President Joe Biden.

The idea, under review at the White House, is to withdraw troops from Afghanistan towns and refocus them on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where Al Qaeda forces are headquartered. The alternative strategy also envisions using more drone missile strikes and special forces ops against the terrorist network.

During his remarks in London, McChrystal predicted that such a plan was "short-sighted," that it would produce "Chaos-istan" and that he would not support it.

Now, London's Telegraph is reporting that White House advisers were "shocked and angered" by the bluntness of McChrystal's remarks and noting that the very next day President Obama summoned the general for a 25-minute, one-on-one meeting aboard Air Force One as it sat on the runway in Copenhagen after the president's unsuccessful bid to win the 2016 Olympics for Chicago.

Asked if the president had told the general to tone down his remarks, National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones told CBS on Sunday: "I wasn't there so I can't answer that question. But it was an opportunity for them to get to know each other a little bit better. I am sure they exchanged direct views."

In fact, in a series of Sunday talk show appearances, Jones, a retired Marine general and former Allied commander in Europe, carried the administration's message that the military -- perhaps conditioned by the Bush administration to expect its opinions to reign -- had better respect civilian command.

"Ideally, it's better for military advice to come up through the chain of command," Jones told CNN. "I think that Gen. McChrystal and the others in the chain of command will present the president with not just one option, which does, in fact, tend to have a ... enforcing function, but a range of options that the president can consider."

I think in military lingo they call that a dressing down.

-- Johanna Neuman

Afghanistan will be Obama's Vietnam!


White House: Leaving Afghanistan not an option

By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer Ben Feller, Associated Press Writer – 40 mins ago

WASHINGTON – The White House said Monday that President Barack Obama is not considering a strategy for Afghanistan that would withdraw U.S. troops from the eroding war there.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that walking away isn't a viable option to deal with a war that is about to enter its ninth year.

"I don't think we have the option to leave. That's quite clear," Gibbs said.

The debate over whether to send as many as 40,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan is a major element of a strategy overhaul that senior administration policy advisers will consider this week as they gather for top-level meetings on the evolving direction of the war.

Obama has invited a bipartisan group of congressional leaders to the White House on Tuesday to confer about the war. He said the administration would brief leaders from both parties and key committee chairmen and would seek their opinions.

"They're an important part of this and the president wants to hear from them," Gibbs said.


Analysis: Campaign vow meets harsh Afghan reality

By BETH FOUHY, Associated Press Writer Beth Fouhy, Associated Press Writer – Mon Oct 5, 10:38 am ET

NEW YORK – As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama denounced the war in Iraq, saying there is no military solution there. Now he may be forced to decide there is no military solution in Afghanistan, either.

"He really did make a strong point as a candidate about the significance of Afghanistan as the place to fight against terrorism, but it's a lot easier said than done," said Natalie Davis, a political science professor at Alabama's Birmingham-Southern College. "You have a sense now that the current thinking among many around him is that this is a loser, that it really does resemble Vietnam."

Campaign rhetoric is coming up against a tough reality for the president, who now must make a crucial decision about how to proceed in what he's called a war of necessity.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that whatever course Obama chose would be consistent with his pledge during the campaign to treat Afghanistan as the central front in the war on terrorism.

"There isn't a military solution alone to any of this," Gibbs said, but rather "a series of solutions."

At issue is the recent assessment by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, that more resources are needed to fight the Taliban or any hope of a military victory is lost. McChrystal has asked for up to 40,000 more troops, a major combat commitment to a mountainous, ungoverned nation that has been a quagmire for every invader.

During the campaign, Obama vowed as president to send two more brigades — about 7,000 combat troops — to Afghanistan. He has done that and more, sending 21,000 troops to Afghanistan in March while vowing a new, robust strategy to keep the Taliban from returning to power.

But now, because of McChrystal's report, Obama is weighing the request for additional troops against advice from others on his national security team.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Richard Holbrooke, the special envoy to Afghanistan, are said to be leaning in favor of a troop increase while Defense Secretary Robert Gates has not signaled his preference. Others are more skeptical, including National Security Adviser Jim Jones and Vice President Joe Biden who wants Obama to consider dialing down U.S. forces in favor of a counterterrorism campaign along the Pakistan border where many al-Qaida operatives are believed to be hiding.

On that score, another campaign pledge could face a test. In August 2007, Obama made a major foreign policy speech in which he said that as president, he might order U.S. troops to breach the Pakistan border and nab terrorism suspects if there were "actionable intelligence" of high-level targets.

Obama's threat of military force in Pakistan was criticized at the time by Clinton, then Obama's chief rival for the Democratic nomination, and by Republican John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee. Both Clinton and McCain suggested it showed Obama did not understand the complexities of the region and that it undermined the U.S. relationship with Pakistan and its leader at the time, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Even now, some of Obama's political allies are warning him against taking such a path, including Gen. Wesley Clark, the former supreme commander of NATO.

"Taking the fight directly into Pakistan with ground forces risks expanding the conflict and undercutting a fragile Pakistani civilian government," Clark wrote in a recent op-ed piece.

Right now, the border is being patrolled by unmanned aircraft, or drones, that have launched missile attacks on dozens of targets. Officials said the drone attacks have succeeded in taking out dozens of suspected terrorists.

Obama finds himself in a situation not unlike that confronting President George W. Bush in early 2007: Whether to buck public opinion and commit thousands of additional troops in a country riven by rivalries with an unstable and possibly illegitimately elected government.

But Bush's quandary was about Iraq. And faced with a growing insurgency and deteriorating military situation, Bush accepted the recommendation of his commanders and sent some 25,000 additional troops. Obama strongly opposed the increase and voted as a senator in May 2007 to cut money for troops there.

The strategy, undertaken just as the Sunni resistance was parting ways with its more hard line al-Qaida allies, worked. It stabilized the country and reduced the violence enough that the U.S. is on track to begin drawing down troops next year.

To be sure, the strategic challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't fully analogous, including the decision to send more troops.

Topographically, Iraq is much less daunting; its hot desert terrain makes a more manageable environment for conventional military maneuvers than does Afghanistan's often snowy and impassable mountains.

Iraq also proved to have no weapons of mass destruction and few if any links to al-Qaida or any other terrorist organizations before the U.S. invasion. Afghanistan, by contrast, served as a safe haven for al-Qaida plotters who launched the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Lets stick our heads in the sand and pretend we have not lost the war in Afghanistan


No Afghanistan pullout, White House says

Oct. 5, 2009 08:35 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Robert Gates appealed Monday for calm amid intense administration debate over the flagging war in Afghanistan, asking for time and privacy for the president to come to a decision - an apparent message to the commanding U.S. general there who has pressed publicly for more American troops.

Gates' careful remarks appeared to stand as an implicit rebuke of the man he helped install as the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, for his lobbying as President Barack Obama faced a critical week of decision over whether to escalate the Afghan war.

In two separate appearances Monday, Gates made the point that Obama needs elbow room to make strategy decisions about the war - as the internal White House debate went increasingly public. "It is important that we take our time to do all we can to get this right," Gates said at an Army conference. "In this process, it is imperative that all of us taking part in these deliberations - civilians and military alike - provide our best advice to the president candidly but privately."

Later, speaking alongside Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Gates praised McChrystal and said no matter what Obama decides the general will execute it faithfully.

The fierce Taliban attack that killed eight American soldiers over the weekend added to the pressure. The assault overwhelmed a remote U.S. outpost where American forces have been stretched thin in battling insurgents, underscoring the appeal from the top Afghanistan commander for as many as 40,000 additional forces - and at the same time reminding the nation of the costs of war.

Gates has not said whether he supports McChrystal's recommendation to expand the number of U.S. forces by as much as nearly 60 percent. He is holding that request in his desk drawer while Obama sorts through competing recommendations and theories from some of his most trusted advisers.

"I believe that the decisions that the president will make for the next stage of the Afghanistan campaign will be among the most important of his presidency," Gates told the Army conference.

In trying to blunt the impression that the White House and military are at odds, Gates did not name names. But his remarks came days after McChrystal bluntly warned in London that Afghan insurgents are gathering strength. Any plan that falls short of stabilizing Afghanistan "is probably a shortsighted strategy," the general said, and he called openly for additional resources.

That prompted Obama's national security adviser, retired four-star Gen. James Jones, to say Sunday that military advice is best provided "up through the chain of command."

Obama may take weeks to decide whether to add more troops, but the idea of pulling out isn't on the table as a way to deal with a war nearing its ninth year, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

"I don't think we have the option to leave. That's quite clear," Gibbs said.

The question of whether to further escalate the conflict after adding 21,000 U.S. troops earlier this year is a major decision facing Obama and senior administration policy advisers this week.

Obama also invited a bipartisan group of congressional leaders to the White House on Tuesday to confer about the war. And Obama will meet twice this week with his top national security advisers.

Divided on Afghanistan, Congress takes up a massive defense spending bill this week even before the president settles on a direction for the war.

At issue is whether U.S. forces should continue to focus on fighting the Taliban and securing the Afghan population, or shift to more narrowly targeting al-Qaida terrorists believed to be hiding in Pakistan with unmanned spy drones and covert operations.

Gates and Clinton said Monday the goal for the war remains to disrupt al-Qaida and prevent it from again threatening the United States, but they added that a reassessment of the means to do that is appropriate. Speaking to CNN during a rare joint interview with Gates, Clinton said a "snap decision" about the next step would be counterproductive. The interview will air Tuesday.

Gates and some other advisers appear to favor a middle path. A hybrid strategy could preserve the essential outline of an Afghan counterinsurgency campaign that McChrystal rebuilt this summer from the disarray of nearly eight years of undermanned combat, while expanding the hunt for al-Qaida next door.

"Speaking for the Department of Defense, once the commander in chief makes his decisions, we will salute and execute those decisions faithfully and to the best of our ability," Gates told the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army.

The top three U.S. military officials overseeing the war in Afghanistan favor continuing the current fight against the Taliban, and have concluded they need tens of thousands more U.S. troops beyond the 68,000 already there.

Officials across the Obama administration have acknowledged that the Taliban is far stronger now than in recent years, as underscored by the U.S. deaths in Nuristan province.

The fighting Saturday marked the biggest loss of U.S. life in a single Afghan battle in more than a year. It also raised questions about why U.S. troops remained in the remote outposts after McChrystal said he planned to close down isolated strongholds and focus on more heavily populated areas as part of his new strategy to focus on protecting Afghan civilians.

Also being considered as part of a potential force increase is the impact on troops who are already stretched thin from fighting in two wars. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told reporters that he cannot rule out extending the length soldiers are sent to fight - from 12 months to 15 - although "I would hope we don't get there."

Casey also signaled that the year that soldiers are currently guaranteed at home between deployments could be at risk.

"Simple math: The more troops you have deployed, the less time they'll spend at home," Casey said Monday.


October 06, 2009


The forgotten promise of more open government

Oct. 6, 2009 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic

Barack Obama campaigned for president on a platform that called for greater transparency and accountability in government. Since taking the oath of office, he has taken strides in this area, as well as a few steps backward.

But a big disappointment came last week, when he sought to gut a bill that would help hold government accountable.

It's the Free Flow of Information Act, which would help protect reporters' confidential sources. The bill, which overwhelmingly passed the House and now is in the Senate Judiciary Committee, came in reaction to a rash of subpoenas from government and private attorneys seeking to force journalists to reveal the sources of their information. The danger isn't that reporters can end up in jail, but that whistle-blowers will go quiet if their identities can easily be revealed. The public would be denied information about abuses within government. The corrupt would get away with it.

As a senator, Obama co-sponsored this bill. He spoke in favor of it on the campaign trail.

That ended last week. According to the New York Times, the president proposed revisions that would make the bill meaningless.

As written, the bill requires private attorneys and prosecutors to exhaust other methods to identify a source before subpoenaing a reporter. It instructs judges to balance investigators' needs against the public interest in a free flow of information.

Obama objected to this balancing act when national-security leaks are involved. His revisions would require judges to accept without question any claim that "significant" national-security harm will occur unless a source is identified, the Times said. This puts him in the same camp as Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.

It's a position that ignores history. From the Pentagon Papers forward, administrations have hidden behind "national security" to squelch embarrassing disclosures.

Meaningful judicial review would separate those covering their backsides from true patriots. The government will not lose a case when national security truly is at issue. But if judges' hands are tied, the public will lose the ability to hold accountable those who abuse power.

The president should back down. His instincts as a senator were right. The Free Flow of Information Act, with legitimate judicial review, serves openness and the public interest.

Lets keep what goes on in government secret!


Gates Says Military Recommendations to President Should Be Kept Private

By Al Pessin


05 October 2009

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the current review of U.S. and NATO strategy in Afghanistan should remain private, and that the military will do whatever the president orders. But in a speech in Washington Monday, he also repeated his opposition to an approach advocated by some officials that would rely more on air power.

Secretary Gates told a U.S. Army convention that Afghanistan has been on a "worrisome trajectory" with violence up 60 percent compared to last year. He said U.S. troops fighting terrorism around the world are facing "increasingly battle-hardened and lethal enemies."

The secretary told the gathering that the decisions President Barack Obama will make in the coming weeks "will be among the most important of his presidency," and he needs to take the time to get the decisions right.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday the president is not considering a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. The addition of 21,000 troops President Obama approved earlier this year, and more aggressive operations against the Taliban and related groups, resulted in a sharp rise in U.S. casualties in recent months, including 16 killed in the first few days of October. That's the same number killed in all of October last year.

Senior commanders have recommended continuing the counterinsurgency approach, focusing on ground operations and requiring a further increase of U.S. troops. But Secretary Gates says whatever the president decides, the military will comply.

"It is imperative that all of us taking part in these deliberations, civilians and military alike, provide our best advice to the president candidly, but privately. And, speaking for the Department of Defense, once the commander-in-chief makes his decisions, we will salute and execute those decisions faithfully and to the best of our ability," Gates said.

The secretary has joined military commanders in criticizing proposals to make more use of air strikes to target terrorist leaders in Afghanistan, and to limit ground operations in order to reduce casualties and avoid the need to send more troops. A month ago, Gates said one such proposal was not in accord with reality.

He did not discuss specific options on Monday, but speaking about plans to further modernize U.S. Army capabilities, he said this:

"We must always recognize the limits of technology - and be modest about what military force alone can accomplish. Advances in precision, sensor information, and satellite technologies have led to extraordinary gains that will continue to give the U.S. military an edge over its adversaries. But no one should ever neglect the psychological, cultural, political, and human dimensions of war or succumb to the techno-optimism that has muddled strategic thinking in the past," Gates said.

Secretary Gates will join President Obama and other senior civilian and military leaders at two lengthy White House meetings this week to continue discussing the way forward in Afghanistan. Officials say there will be at least two more meetings after that, and they expect the president to decide how to proceed within a few weeks.

Obama tells us that he is doing a fantastic job protecting us from terrorists!

Hmmm... reminds me of H. L. Mencken's quote

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

H. L. Mencken


Oct 6, 12:18 PM EDT

Obama: US 'making real progress' fighting terror


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama on Tuesday thanked counterterrorism employees who work to prevent attacks on the United States and its allies, crediting them with "making real progress" in disrupting al-Qaida and other extremist networks.

"The record of your service is written in the attacks that never occur - because you thwarted them - and in the countless Americans who are alive today because you saved them," Obama told his audience at the National Counterterrorism Center outside Washington. "For that, America is in your debt."

Obama also warned, though, that the enemies of the United States are relentless, resourceful and "still plotting."

"No one can ever promise that there won't be another attack on American soil," Obama said. "But I can promise you this: I pledge to do everything in my power as president to keep America safe. And I pledge to give all of you the tools and support you need to get that job done here at home."

Obama's visit was meant to give a boost to analysts who work in obscurity at the center, a cross-agency body formed after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The center has a dual mission of intelligence analysis and operational planning. Employees collect and share information to combat terrorism within the United States and abroad.

Obama said he uses the center's "product" every day to make national security decisions. He spoke after meeting privately with the center's leadership.

Hmmm... Obama is all for mixing religion and government!


Court hears arguments about cross on park land

Posted 10/7/2009 11:44 AM ET

By Mark Sherman, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is taking up a long-running legal fight over a cross honoring World War I soldiers that has stood for 75 years on public land in a remote part of California. The cross, on an outcrop known as Sunrise Rock in the Mojave National Preserve, has been covered in plywood for the past several years following federal court rulings that it violates the First Amendment prohibition against government endorsement of religion.

The justices were to hear arguments Wednesday in a case the court could use to make an important statement about its view of the separation of church and state. The Obama administration is defending the presence of the cross, which court papers describe as being 5 feet to 8 feet tall.

A former National Park Service employee, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued to have the cross removed or covered after the agency refused to allow erection of a Buddhist memorial nearby. Frank Buono describes himself as a practicing Catholic who has no objection to religious symbols, but he took issue with the government's decision to allow the display of only the Christian symbol.

Easter Sunrise services have been held at the site for decades.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has repeatedly ruled in Buono's favor. Congress has intervened on behalf of the cross, prohibiting the Park Service from spending money to remove the cross, designating it a national memorial and ultimately transferring the land to private ownership.

The appeals court invalidated the 2004 land transfer, saying that "carving out a tiny parcel of property in the midst of this vast preserve -- like a doughnut hole with the cross atop it -- will do nothing to minimize the impermissible governmental endorsement" of the religious symbol.

Veterans groups are on both sides of the case, with some worrying that other religious symbols that serve as war memorials could be threatened by a ruling in Buono's favor. Jewish and Muslim veterans, by contrast, object that the Mojave cross honors Christian veterans and excludes others.

The administration wants the court to rule that Buono had no right to file his lawsuit because, as a Christian, he suffers no harm from the cross. His main complaint is that others may feel excluded, the government says.

Alternatively, the administration says the land transfer took care of any First Amendment problem.

The case is Salazar v. Buono, 08-472.


Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

How does Obama spell Vietnam? Afghanistan

[ I love FOX because they point out all of Obama's flaws! But sadly FOX also makes up a lot of lies about Obama, which makes them look like jerks. If FOX stuck with telling the dirty truth they would be much more credibale.

Of course I don't like Bush or McCain any better then I like Obama. They are all jerks!]


Obama aide accuses Fox of operating as GOP arm


NEW YORK — One of President Barack Obama's top aides says Fox News Channel acts like a wing of the Republican Party.

White House Communications Director Anita Dunn told CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday that Fox News operates "almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party."

It's another sign of the White House's aggressively going after Fox.

Commentators Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity have been strong Obama critics, and Bill O'Reilly has taken tough looks at the administration. The president avoided Fox when he visited five Sunday morning news shows last month, and a recent White House blog post accused Beck of lying.

Fox News executive Michael Clemente (cleh-MEN'-tay) says most viewers know the difference between news and opinion shows. He says attacking the messenger doesn't work.

Obama is singing Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran to the tune of that Beach Boy's song!

Hmmm .... Didn't Obama just get a Nobel Peace Prize?

The Obama administration's plans to bring the bomb on line more quickly indicate that the weapon is still part of the long-range backup plan. [No it wasn't McCain singing Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran to the tune of the Beach Boys song Barbara Ann, it was Obama!]

That is in addition to Obama's two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan!


US wants huge bomb, denies Iran is reason

Oct. 13, 2009 07:41 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is speeding up delivery of a colossal bomb designed to destroy hidden weapons bunkers buried underground and shielded by 10,000 pounds of reinforced concrete.

Call it Plan B for dealing with Iran, which recently revealed a long-suspected nuclear site deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom.

The 15-ton behemoth - called the "massive ordnance penetrator," or MOP - will be the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal and will carry 5,300 pounds of explosives. The bomb is about 10 times more powerful than the weapon it is designed to replace. The Pentagon has awarded a nearly $52 million contract to speed up placement of the bomb aboard the B-2 Stealth bomber, and officials say the bomb could be fielded as soon as next summer.

Pentagon officials acknowledge that the new bomb is intended to blow up fortified sites like those used by Iran and North Korea for their nuclear programs, but they deny there is a specific target in mind.

"I don't think anybody can divine potential targets," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said. "This is just a capability that we think is necessary given the world we live in."

The Obama administration has struggled to counter suspicions lingering from George W. Bush's presidency that the United States is either planning to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities itself or would look the other way if Israel did the same.

The administration has been careful not to take military action off the table even as it reaches out to Iran with historic talks this month. Tougher sanctions are the immediate backup if diplomacy fails to stop what the West fears is a drive for a nuclear weapon.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently said a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities would probably only buy time. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen has called a strike an option he doesn't want to use.

The new U.S. bomb would be the culmination of planning begun in the Bush years. The Obama administration's plans to bring the bomb on line more quickly indicate that the weapon is still part of the long-range backup plan.

"Without going into any intelligence, there are countries that have used technology to go further underground and to take those facilities and make them hardened," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. "This is not a new phenomenon, but it is a growing one."

After testing began in 2007, development of the bomb was slowed by about two years because of budgetary issues, Whitman said, and the administration moved last summer to return to the previous schedule.

North Korea, led by Kim Jong Il, is a known nuclear weapons state and has exploded working devices underground. The United States and other countries have offered to buy out the country's weapons program. The Obama administration is trying to lure Pyongyang back to the bargaining table after a walkout last year.

Iran is a more complex case, for both diplomatic and technical reasons. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, claims its nuclear program is peaceful and meant only to produce energy, but the West suspects a covert bomb program that may be only a year or so away from fruition.

"I don't really see it as a near-term indication of anything being planned. I think certainly down the road it has a certain deterrent factor," said Kenneth Katzman, a specialist on Iran and the Middle East at the Congressional Research Service. "It adds to the calculus, let's say, of Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il."

Details about Iran's once-secret program have come out slowly and often under duress, as with last month's surprise confirmation of the hidden underground development site near Qom.

That revelation came a month after the Pentagon had asked Congress to shift money to speed up the MOP program, although U.S. and other intelligence agencies had suspected for years that Iran was still hiding at least one nuclear development site.

The MOP could, in theory, take out bunkers such as those Saddam Hussein had begun to construct for weapons programs in Iraq, or flatten the kind of cave and tunnel networks that allowed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to escape U.S. assault in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, shortly after the U.S. invasion in 2001.

The precision-guided bomb is designed to drill through earth and almost any underground encasement to reach weapons depots, labs or hideouts.

Obama is using our tax dollars to get re-elected in 2012. Watch out Sarah Palin, Obama and the Democrats going to out spend you using taxpayer dolars!


AP IMPACT: Obama's travels carry a touch of blue

Posted 10/13/2009 10:08 AM ET

By Philip Elliott, Associated Press Writer

PITTSBURGH — For President Barack Obama, it's almost as if the election campaign never ended. Just look at his travel schedule. The same states that Obama targeted to win the White House are seeing an awful lot of the president, Vice President Joe Biden and top Cabinet officials. Only this year, the taxpayers are footing the multimillion-dollar tab for the trips, and Obama officials are delivering wheelbarrows of economic stimulus money -- also compliments of taxpayers.

An Associated Press review of administration travel records shows that three of every four official trips Obama and his key lieutenants made in his first seven months in office were to the 28 states Obama won. Add trips to Missouri and Montana -- both of which Obama narrowly lost -- and almost 80 percent of the administration's official domestic travel has been concentrated in states likely to be key to Obama's re-election effort in 2012.

While similar data hasn't been compiled for previous administrations, new presidents traditionally have used official travel to shore up -- and add to -- their political base. Just look at President George W. Bush.

"When we were trying to build support for key policy initiatives, it made sense for President Bush to travel to states with persuadable citizens," says Scott Stanzel, a former White House spokesman who was the press secretary for Bush's 2004 re-election bid. "That meant visits to 'purple states' where people weren't as likely to already support or oppose the president's plans."

For Obama, the key policy initiative early on was a $787 billion economic stimulus package. While aimed at the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, it also gave the new administration a chance to reap political benefits traditionally reserved for lawmakers touting pork-barrel projects back home.

Though insisting that the stimulus legislation include no such "earmarked" congressional projects, Obama, Biden and the Cabinet spent months traveling the country to announce billions of dollars in new federal job-creating money that was going for bridge construction and green-energy projects, and for extended unemployment benefits.

Biden in particular has been the bearer of stimulus good news, making nearly two dozen trips to 14 states to tout the legislation and its impact on local communities.

The vice president has made five stimulus trips just to Pennsylvania, a must-win state in 2008 that never faded from Obama's political planning meetings. All told, administration officials have been to the Keystone state more than three dozen times since January.

Obama spoke last month to the nation's largest labor organization in a packed Pittsburgh ballroom. Days before, Biden was at a Labor Day parade there and praised the reliably Democratic union members. Obama was back a week later, this time to meet with the leaders of the world's 20 largest economies, whom he had invited to the one-time steel city that the White House sees as a barometer of its political standing.

Yes, the White House loves Pittsburgh -- and places like it in states that will play a key role in 2012. When Obama visits cities like Cleveland and Columbus, or Detroit and Denver, he gets wall-to-wall coverage in the local press from the time Air Force One lands until it departs, and his poll numbers in the area generally tick upward.

In August, for example, Obama went to Elkhart, Ind., to announce $2.4 billion in stimulus grants for production of electric and hybrid cars. Indiana and Michigan -- the two states benefiting the most -- both backed Obama in 2008 and will be important politically to him next time.

Colorado, which has shifted from Republican-leaning to Democrat-friendly in recent years, had seen Obama officials 35 times through early August, including Obama's Feb. 17 trip to Denver to sign the stimulus bill into law. Virginia, which gave Obama a surprise victory in 2008 and has one of this year's two governor's races, has gotten 17 visits. Combined, those states have received $8.9 billion from the stimulus bill.

The White House defended the travel as necessary to promote the administration's agenda for the country.

"President Obama and key members of his team have traveled to communities large and small ... to discuss the encouraging impact of the Recovery Act and to reinforce this president's commitment to creating the kind of jobs that will lay a new foundation for America's long-term economic strength," deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.

Earnest said Obama plans to travel this week to Louisiana and Texas, states that Republican Sen. John McCain won in the 2008 election.

Sometimes, the administration's travel has been political as well as personal.

Before joining the Cabinet, many of Obama's appointees were popular figures in their home states -- four secretaries most recently were governors, four were members of Congress and Biden was a longtime senator. When they go home to announce a new grant or see a program firsthand, the administration has a spokesman who already has standing.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, for example, has made California his top destination; the Nobel Prize-winning physicist taught at the University of California, Berkeley, until he joined the administration. Similarly, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shawn Donovan has made New York and Connecticut his top destinations; he was New York's housing chief before being tapped in December.

The AP review of travel costs -- some agencies refused to provide costs for security reasons -- documented that the taxpayers have paid at least $1.4 million for trips by top administration officials this year, and that doesn't include any costs for trips by Obama and Biden.

It also doesn't include travel costs by the secretaries of Homeland Security, Labor and Justice, whose departments declined to release tallies. Nor does it include the cost of security agents who travel everywhere with officials in the presidential line of succession, or the military aides who are always at their sides. It does, however, reflect the props needed at events, such as sound equipment, oversized U.S. flags, microphones and room rental.

Costs vary widely from trip to trip, and from official to official:

_Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood spent $747 to attend a Pullman Porters event in Philadelphia; he took Amtrak for the one-day trip.

_Commerce Secretary Gary Locke spent $8,013 to address the National Conference of State Legislatures, also in Philadelphia, also a one-day trip.

_Interior Secretary Ken Salazar spent $13,194 to meet with the families of Flight 93, the hijacked United Airlines plane that crashed into a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001; he returned to Washington that night.

Travel costs, provided voluntarily by the Cabinet agencies at the White House's urging, depend in large degree on the number of staff who accompany high-level officials. For instance, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson took a two-day trip to Tampa, Fla., that cost $10,408, with more than $9,200 attributed to traveling staff. While there, she spoke to the National Association of Black Journalists and announced $95 million in stimulus grants.

When Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made a two-day trip to New Hampshire in July, taxpayers picked up the $6,742 tab for the secretary, two aides and a dairy expert. Of that total, $4,467 went to staff costs.


Associated Press writers Devlin Barrett, Dina Cappiello, Kevin Freking, H. Josef Hebert, Kimberly Hefling, Henry C. Jackson, Libby Quaid, Eileen Sullivan, Erica Werner and Hope Yen in Washington and Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.

U.S. Foreign Policy - Support Afghanistan voter fraud

U.S. Foreign Policy - Support Afghanistan voter fraud

Standard Obama tactic. Give money in exchange for votes! You can count on the seniors who get $250 payments to votes for Obama!


Obama calls for $250 payments to seniors

Oct. 14, 2009 01:08 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to approve $250 payments to more than 50 million seniors to make up for no increase in Social Security next year.

The White House put the cost at $13 billion.

The Social Security Administration is scheduled to announce Thursday that there will be no cost of living increase next year. By law, increases are pegged to inflation, which has been negative this year. It would mark the first year without an increase in Social Security payments since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975.

The $250 payments would also go to those receiving veterans benefits, disability benefits, railroad retirees and public employee retirees who don't receive Social Security.

Timetable for repeal of anti-gay laws?  Quit asking because I'm not telling!

Timetable for repeal of anti-gay laws?

Quit asking because I'm not telling!

Looks like Obama made wrong choice!

Obama, who has already ruled out withdrawing troops

The title of the article is pretty bad "loneliness"?

It's not "loneliness", its POWER! As Bush said "I'm the decider!"

And of course Obama is the "Emperor" also!


Obama faces loneliness of power on Afghanistan

by Stephen Collinson Stephen Collinson – Sun Oct 18, 1:57 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – It comes to every US president -- and now looms relentlessly for Barack Obama: the moment when he must shoulder the lonely duty of his office and take a fateful decision on national security.

After weeks of in-depth meetings and drawing counsel from top advisors, Obama will eventually have to make up his mind on whether to send thousands more troops into the cauldron of Afghanistan.

"It's really coming down to him," said Julian Zelizer of Princeton University, author of a forthcoming book on US foreign policy.

"This is a lesson that presidents always learn when dealing with military affairs."

Obama has launched an exhaustive and collective review of Afghan policy within his national security council.

But the constitutional authority vested in the president means the buck stops sooner or later with the commander-in-chief.

"It is not a collective decision. Abraham Lincoln said there was only one vote that counted in his cabinet," said David Rothkopf, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International peace.

"There is only one vote that counts at the national security council," added Rothkopf, author of a history of the president's top foreign policy body.

Signs are mounting that Obama may be nearing a critical point in his deliberations. He said last week he would complete the process in "the coming weeks."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN: "We've done a thorough job of analysis, and now we're moving into the decision phase."

Obama's stakes may match or even exceed those faced by other recent presidents, like Lyndon Johnson who agonized over the Vietnam War, or Bill Clinton who worried whether to intervene in Bosnia.

Soaring expectations at home and abroad may be on the line in a decision many observers feel could drain the reforming momentum from Obama's presidency should it go wrong.

Obama's own audacity, in refusing to temper high hopes and raising the stakes by likening himself to political greats like ex-president Lincoln and even his recent Nobel Prize may also stoke the pressure.

Not to mention the burden of the lives of any of more than 60,000 US troops at war, the tens of thousands who may follow, and unknown numbers of Afghans.

Pressure is building as Pakistan's insurgency worsens and US public support dims for the increasingly bloody fight in Afghanistan.

Critics accuse Obama of undue delay -- but the long wait may reflect the fact the president has few palatable options in the eight-year war.

Obama has conducted five extended briefings with top military, political, diplomatic and intelligence aides and has another this week.

Official photos from the secure White House Situation Room reveal intense sessions, with Obama in deep conversation with national security aides.

"I think the president has been extremely skillful in probing and asking all the hard questions," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN.

Broadly, Obama, who has already ruled out withdrawing troops, has three options -- unless he can conjure another that few analysts have considered.

He can go all-out with an Afghan counter-insurgency strategy advocated by war commander General Stanley McChrystal, which requires at least 40,000 more troops.

An approach pushed by Vice President Joe Biden would see more targeted tactics, focusing on destroying Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and especially Pakistan, but eschewing a full-scale counter-insurgency.

A middle path, attractive to top Democrats in Congress, might see thousands of troops being deployed only to train the Afghan army.

Obama backers view his thorough analysis of US options in Afghanistan as a break from the gut-level decision-making of the Bush administration.

That NSC allowed power players like vice president Dick Cheney and secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld to freelance, with disastrous results in Iraq.

The Obama NSC has reined in the president's vaunted "team of rivals" cabinet of heavyweights, despite their healthy egos and political powerbases.

It also reveals Obama's own disciplined, "no drama" self-image as a leader, who probes every angle of a problem.

But is there a point when deliberation becomes procrastination?

"There is a certain time period when it looks like a president is being deliberative and thoughtful," said Zelizer.

"After that time period, it looks like a president who can't make tough decisions, either way -- the kind of Jimmy Carter syndrome."

Rothkopf added: "deliberations can go on too long -- I don't think they have yet."

Obama blames Afghanistan war loss on the puppet government

Looks like Obama is going to blame the falure of the Afghanistan war on the puppet government we installed.

Hey Obama its YOUR puppet government! Blame the failure on YOURSELF!

Hey who cares if it is a big lie. If it causes us to leave the stupid war that will be create!


White House casts doubt on Afghan reliability

by Robert Burns - Oct. 18, 2009 10:51 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will not commit more U.S. troops to Afghanistan until he is convinced that the central government can be a credible and effective U.S. partner, a senior White House aide said Sunday.

But it was unclear whether Obama intends to accept the recommendation by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, for thousands more American troops and other resources in the 8-year-struggle to stabilize Afghanistan.

The central question before Obama, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said, is "not how much troops you have, but whether in fact there's an Afghan partner."

The issue of developing an effective Afghan central government has dogged the U.S. mission virtually from the war's start after the attacks against the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. It gained new urgency after an Aug. 20 presidential election marred by charges of ballot-stuffing and voter coercion.

An election fraud investigation could lead to a runoff election between President Hamid Karzai and his top challenger, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.

A second round of balloting would have to be held before winter, which traditionally begins in mid-November. Once heavy snows block mountain passes, thereby limiting voter access to polling places, a runoff would have to wait until spring, leaving the country in political limbo for months as the Taliban gains strength.

Adding to the uncertainty is the prospect of Karzai's not accepting an outcome requiring a runoff.

"For the moment we are worried ... because it seems that not everybody is ready to accept the results," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters Sunday in Kabul, the Afghan capital. "They must accept the results."

The weakness of the Afghan government has undermined the U.S. and NATO military mission in several respects. It has created disillusionment among ordinary Afghans who then turn to the Taliban militants for security and other services. That has been an important factor in the Taliban's resurgence over the past four years.

In Sunday talk show interviews, Emanuel did not answer directly when asked whether Obama would wait for a final election outcome before deciding U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan. He repeatedly underlined doubts about the Kabul government as a reliable partner for the U.S.

"There's not a security force, an army, the type of services that are important for the Afghans to become true partners," Emanuel said. "It would be reckless to make a decision on U.S. troop level if, in fact, you haven't done a thorough analysis of whether, in fact, there's an Afghan partner ready to fill that space that the U.S. troops would create and become a true partner in governing."

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, who visited Kabul over the weekend, said Obama should wait until the election cloud has lifted.

"I don't see how President Obama can make a decision about the committing of our additional forces or even the further fulfillment of our mission that's here today without an adequate government in place or knowledge about what that government's going to be," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

Critics, including some Republicans in Congress, have blasted Obama for undertaking a lengthy review.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Obama may be emboldening U.S. enemies.

"At some point, deliberation begins to look more like indecisiveness, which then becomes a way of emboldening our enemies," Cornyn said, "and causing our allies to question our resolve."

Emanuel provided no timeline for Obama to finish his Afghan review, which began in September. He said additional strategy sessions with the president's senior national security aides would be held over the next two weeks.

A leading figure in that review, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, headed to Asia and Europe on Sunday for talks that are expected to include a plea for NATO partners and Asian allies to continue contributing to the Afghan effort.

Kerry said a successful U.S. and NATO mission depends as much on the effectiveness of the Afghan government and the sufficiency of international civilian support as it does on the size of the U.S. military presence.

"It would be very hard, I think, for the president to make a commitment to X' number of troops, whatever it might be, or to a new strategy, without knowing that all of the components of the strategy are indeed capable of being achieved," Kerry said, adding that the political and civilian components must be assured.

"And I'm not yet convinced that we're there," he said.

On the specifics of U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, Kerry said he is convinced that narrowing the mission to a hunt for al-Qaida and other terrorists would be wrong. The counterterrorism effort must be part of a larger military mission that targets Taliban and other insurgent groups with conventional ground forces, he said.

Kerry and Emanuel were on CNN's "State of the Union" and CBS' "Face the Nation." Cornyn appeared on CBS.

Wow! Obama is trying to get the Vietnam GIs to vote for him in 2012


Unit honored for heroism in Vietnam

'Scary' rescue mission in 1970 long overlooked

by Barbara Barrett - Oct. 21, 2009 12:00 AM

McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - Pfc. Paul Evans was rocking and rolling on his M-16 on a long-ago afternoon in Vietnam, spraying fire toward an unseen enemy hidden deep within the jungle. He was a terrified 18-year-old who knew, as other men fell around him, that he was about to die.

Then out of nowhere, American tanks thundered out of the jungle, Evans later recalled. Alpha Troop had arrived.

The men of Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry, rushed in to rescue Evans and the rest of his infantry company, which had been pinned down for most of the day after wandering into a cluster of North Vietnamese bunkers. For two hours, Alpha's tanks suppressed fire enough to weaken the enemy. Then, as night fell and the Americans feared being surrounded in the dark, everyone fled through the blackening foliage.

Many of the soldiers tucked away their memories for years, only now describing the day's horror.

Kenny Euge of Belleville, Ill., drove one of the tanks that barreled through the jungle to Charlie Company's aid, closest to the enemy. He recalled a rocket-propelled grenade flying just over his head, like a flaming basketball.

"It was all scary. It was all scary," Euge recalled this week, his voice breaking as he spoke. "Even the drive back was scary. It didn't get unscary until you got back."

However, the Army overlooked the clash that became known as the Anonymous Battle. When one man ended his tour and was asked about any major battles he'd been in, he looked to the soldier who was processing his paperwork. The processor shook his head. There'd been no battles that day.

The veterans - and now everyone else - know differently.

On Tuesday morning, President Barack Obama gave about 100 veterans of Alpha Troop the Presidential Unit Citation, the highest award for valor that a military unit can receive.

Nearly 40 years after the battle, men with graying mustaches, growing paunches and weakening eyes were honored for that day of hell in March 1970.

Old soldiers in dark suits or dress uniforms - some wearing old medals pinned to their chests, some lean and ramrod straight, others leaning on canes - listened in the White House Rose Garden as birds chirped under a bright sky and the commander in chief praised their valor.

"Some may wonder: After all these years, why honor this heroism now?" Obama said in his remarks to the soldiers. "The answer is simple. Because we must. Because we have a sacred obligation."

Forty years ago, little felt sacred to Alpha Troop. The night before the battle, the tank company had lost several of its members when a mortar round accidentally exploded in one of its vehicles. The men were exhausted after removing charred bodies from the scene of the blast.

"That morning, after I got up, there were chunks of flesh on my tank," Euge recalled. "How I rationalized that was 'chunks of barbecue.' ... At the battle, I rationalized, 'It's just a movie. Pretend you're making a movie.' "

A few miles off, they could hear gunfire. They learned that Charlie Company, a group of infantry troops from the 1st Cavalry Division caught along the border with Cambodia, was in trouble. It could be wiped out within hours.

Alpha Troop's commander, John Poindexter, volunteered his men to go fetch the grunts.

"Let's go," he told them.

"It's a story of resolve," Obama said. "For Alpha Troop could have simply evacuated their comrades and left that enemy bunker for another day - to ambush another American unit. But as their captain said, 'That's not what the 11th Cavalry does.' "

Obama again blames the war loss on the puppet government the American Empire installed in Afghanistan instead of himself and Bush!


U.S. relieved by - but leery of - Afghan runoff

Karzai agrees to new vote, but problems may persist

by Anne Gearan - Oct. 21, 2009 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - No matter who wins the November election runoff that Afghan President Hamid Karzai agreed to during pressured consultations with American leaders, the United States is wedded to a shaky government in which corruption has become second nature.

President Barack Obama's relief at the agreement that could quiet the political crisis over Afghanistan's spoiled election masks his predicament as he weighs an expansion of the unpopular war in Afghanistan.

The administration says its ambitious plans for Afghanistan rely on a "credible partner" in Kabul. But there is no guarantee that the hastily arranged voting will confer the legitimacy the fraudulent Aug. 20 election lacked. "This has been a very difficult time in Afghanistan to not only carry out an election under difficult circumstances, where there were a whole host of security issues that had to be resolved, but also postelection a lot of uncertainty," Obama said Tuesday.

Obama pointed to the Nov. 7 runoff as "a path forward in order to complete this election process." He said nothing about his deliberations over what could be a huge surge of U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan, a calculation badly thrown off by the botched August voting.

For the U.S., a runoff emerged as perhaps the least bad option to restore momentum and the important perception that Afghans themselves are invested in their government and its success.

But another election risks the same fraud that derailed the Aug. 20 vote, and the same risk of inciting violence and increasing ethnic divisions.

"Another election where there's no credible government to operate with continues to undermine our reason for being there," said Richard "Ozzie" Nelson, a former White House counterterrorism expert now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It would push us further down the slippery slope of what to do next."

If there are any more delays, the vote could also be hampered by winter snows that block off much of the north of the country starting mid-November.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a warning to Afghan election officials.

"We will advise the Independent Election Commission not to re-recruit those officials who might have been involved in fraudulent electoral processes," Ban said.

Having pushed for a do-over, U.S. officials have even less ability to scold the winner. That winner is likely to be incumbent Karzai, who conceded Tuesday, under heavy international pressure, that a runoff is "legitimate, legal and according to the constitution of Afghanistan."

The Afghan leader did not express any regret over fraud that led U.N.-backed auditors to strip him of nearly a third of his votes.

"This is not the right time to discuss investigations, this is the time to move forward toward stability and national unity," Karzai said at an awkward joint appearance with U.S. and U.N. go-betweens.

The Obama administration has kept an obvious distance from Karzai, a silver-tongued charmer whom the George W. Bush administration had considered a successful protege despite mounting claims of incompetence and corruption.

The U.S. was represented most visibly Tuesday not by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or even the U.S. ambassador in Kabul, but by a visiting senior senator.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., leaned hard on Karzai over several days to concede that he did not win in the first round. The two men took a long, dramatic walk Tuesday before an uncharacteristically grim Karzai stepped up to the microphones.

Although Karzai was favored to win all along, Obama's advisers thought they could forge a workable partnership that would be the building block for a new war strategy emphasizing the security and welfare of ordinary Afghans.

The strategy, which military officials quickly assumed would mean an infusion of thousands of additional U.S. troops and a larger expansion of Afghanistan's own armed forces, frayed when the expensive, carefully monitored election went bad.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama has not decided whether to move ahead with a revamped strategy and the prospect of more troops before results of the runoff are known.

The Taliban will surely try to disrupt the voting again, and turnout is expected to be low in areas where voters were intimidated.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States and NATO-led partners can provide security for the upcoming vote.

"Virtually all of the countries that sent in additional forces to help with election security have kept those forces in place," Gates said Tuesday, ahead of the expected runoff announcement.

"I think the key consideration before us at this point is actually less security than with the passage of time, the weather. And so, getting something done before winter sets in will clearly be very important."

Obama has the same problem witht he First Amendment that Bush had! He thinks it should only apply to the President and not the people!


Obama takes aim at critics' free speech

Jay Ambrose, Commentary

October 20, 2009 - 4:54PM

Jay Ambrose/Scripps Howard News Service

One way or another, the Obama administration is trying to shut up its critics, and if that requires plopping First Amendment free-speech guarantees into a six-foot grave and covering the principles up with mud, so be it.

That's emphatically (if figuratively) what happened when bureaucrats in the Department of Health and Human Services told Humana Inc. that it would be in deep, deep trouble if it kept sending letters to some 900,000 people warning of an unwanted fate if Congress proceeded with a $400 billion Medicare cut: loss of important benefits.

The anger was high. President Barack Obama himself fumed aloud about insurance companies supposedly misleading the public. Democratic senators barked and then the bureaucrats began biting, informing Humana it was under investigation and must abide by a gag order.

Bothering to be accurate, some observers replied that Humana was telling the truth about what inevitably has to happen when you take away funds for private options to Medicare, adding that even if you think the firm's points arguable, the Constitution permits dispute with government positions.

Though it still made some minor demands, Health and Human Services retreated, disposing of the gag order. But this administration has hardly retreated from its all-out assault on contrary voices, as witness the way in which Fox News has been demonized by Obama himself, by White House political advisor David Axelrod, by Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and, of course, by Communications Director Anita Dunn.

The administration has essentially been saying that no one should take Fox seriously because even its news shows are pure, unadulterated opinion. They are not. Opinion may pose as news on Fox sometimes, but does anyone think that doesn't happen with The New York Times, with NBC, with CNN? Come off it.

The big difference is that Fox is less reluctant to challenge Obama or to go after his policies with vigor on commentary shows that ordinarily offer up opposite views at the same time. I happen to think much of the Obama coverage by traditional outlets is embarrassingly embracing, and that even Fox's sometimes overreaching comedian-commentator Glenn Beck is beating them on stories they ought to have.

He has been out front, for instance, in comments about various ideological radicals in the administration, including Mark Lloyd, chief diversity officer of the Federal Communications Commission, who is a real danger to open debate, it seems to me.

Lloyd is someone who has spoken glowingly of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez -- who thinks it OK to eliminate radio stations that do not support him -- as leading a true democratic revolution. Lloyd has written of freedom of speech as something sometimes misused to thwart democratic aspirations. He has co-authored a paper saying the radio-controlling Fairness Doctrine never went out of existence and that radio station license renewals in this country should be challenged with tough standards.

What do you suppose he wants to achieve in his job?

There are still others in the administration whose attachment to free speech seems less than wholehearted -- for instance, Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Read up on positions he has taken over the years and you find that he thinks speech in America should be regulated to bring about improved deliberation of public affairs. Enough of this marketplace of ideas crud.

And there are still other actions by the administration that show little if any respect for the concept of people being allowed to speak up. It has, as a particularly scary example, favored a U.N. resolution saying that citizens of the world should not be free to stereotype people by race or religion, according to an article in The Weekly Standard. What that can mean if actually enforced is the end of all kinds of legitimate inquiry and discussion that have no hostile intent or prejudicial content whatsoever.

Hold on to your First Amendment, fellow Americans. This could be a long, bumpy ride.

Jay Ambrose, a former Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at

Govenrnment! Its all about money! Top Obama fundraisers get pay backs! Source

Top Obama fundraisers get posts

By Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — More than 40% of President Obama's top-level fundraisers have secured posts in his administration, from key executive branch jobs to diplomatic postings in countries such as France, Spain and the Bahamas, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

Twenty of the 47 fundraisers that Obama's campaign identified as collecting more than $500,000 have been named to government positions, the analysis found.

Overall, about 600 individuals and couples raised money from their friends, family members and business associates to help fund Obama's presidential campaign. USA TODAY's analysis found that 54 have been named to government positions, ranging from Cabinet and White House posts to advisory roles, such as serving on the economic recovery board charged with helping guide the country out of recession.

Nearly a year after he was elected on a pledge to change business-as-usual in Washington, Obama also has taken a cue from his predecessors and appointed fundraisers to coveted ambassadorships, drawing protests from groups representing career diplomats. A separate analysis by the American Foreign Service Association, the diplomats' union, found that more than half of the ambassadors named by Obama so far are political appointees, said Susan Johnson, president of the association. An appointment is considered political if it does not go to a career diplomat in the State Department.

That's a rate higher than any president in more than four decades, the group's data show, although that could change as the White House fills more openings. Traditionally about 30% of top diplomatic jobs go to political appointees, and roughly 70% to veteran State Department employees. Ambassadors earn $153,200 to $162,900 annually.

"It is time to end the spoils system and the de facto sale of ambassadorships," Johnson said. "The United States is best served by having experienced, knowledgeable and trained career officers fill all positions in our diplomatic service."

The administration is "well aware of the historical target of career vs. non-career ambassadors, and we will be right on that target," said White House spokesman Thomas Vietor. He said the first round of diplomatic jobs traditionally go to political appointees because those are the first available when a president takes office.

Vietor said Obama also made it clear early on that he would "nominate extremely qualified individuals who didn't necessarily come up through the ranks of the State Department but want to serve their country."

Among the top Obama fundraisers with jobs: former technology executive Julius Genachowski as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and Nicole Avant, a music industry executive who is the top envoy in the Bahamas. Neither granted interview requests.

Those not in the administration benefited in other ways, including attending invitation-only White House bashes, such as a St. Patrick's Day gala.

Fundraiser David Gail, a Dallas lawyer that the campaign identified as raising between $100,000 and $200,000, joined dignitaries in July for an East Room country music concert featuring Alison Krauss and Charley Pride. He said he greeted Obama after the event but doesn't have special access to the president, who was elected on a pledge to change business-as-usual in Washington.

"I've seen people who have been included on conference calls or events who were very involved at the grass-roots level," Gail said.

"Contributing doesn't guarantee a visit to the White House," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday, "nor does it preclude it."

Others not on the campaign's list of official bundlers also have reaped rewards.

Sacramento developer Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, a fundraiser in Hillary Rodham Clinton's unsuccessful presidential campaign, was nominated this month by Obama to serve as ambassador to Hungary. Clinton is now secretary of state.

Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis did not respond to interview requests, and her office referred calls to the White House.

It's too early to tell how big a role Obama's fundraisers will play. On the ambassador front alone, nearly 100 top positions remain unfilled, according to the American Foreign Service Association's tally.

Ronald Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, wants Obama to limit political appointees to about 10% of diplomatic jobs. "The direction is not good," he said of Obama's appointments to date, "but you cannot definitively say what the picture will be for the whole administration."


President Obama has named 54 fundraisers to government positions. Here's a look at who they are and how much they raised. The campaign reported fundraising in broad ranges only.


Nicole Avant Ambassador to the Bahamas

Matthew Barzun Ambassador to Sweden

Don Beyer Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein

Jeff Bleich Ambassador to Australia**

Richard Danzig Member, Defense Policy Board

William Eacho Ambassador to Austria

Julius Genachowski Chairman of Federal Communications Commission

Donald Gips Ambassador to South Africa

Howard Gutman Ambassador to Belgium

Scott Harris General Counsel, Department of Energy

William Kennard Ambassador to the European Union**

Bruce Oreck Ambassador to Finland

Spencer Overton Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General

Thomas Perrelli Associate Attorney General

Abigail Pollack Member, Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino

Charles Rivkin Ambassador to France and Monaco

John Roos Ambassador of Japan

Francisco Sanchez Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Alan Solomont Ambassador to Spain and Andorra**

Cynthia Stroum Ambassador to Luxembourg**

RAISED BETWEEN $200,000 and $500,000
A. Marisa Chun Deputy associate attorney general

Gregory Craig White House counsel

Norman Eisen Special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform

Michael Froman Deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs

Mark Gallogly Member, Economic Recovery Advisory Board

Max Holtzman Senior adviser to the Agriculture secretary

James Hudson Director, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

Jeh Johnson General counsel, Department of Defense

Samuel Kaplan Ambassador to Morocco

Nicole Lamb-Hale Deputy general counsel, Commerce Department

Andres Lopez Member, Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino

Cindy Moelis Director, Commission on White House Fellows

William Orrick Counselor to the assistant attorney general

John Phillips Chairman, Commission on White House Fellows

Penny Pritzker*** Member, Economic Recovery Advisory Board

Bob Rivkin General counsel, Transportation Department

Desiree Rogers White House social secretary

Louis Susman Ambassador to the United Kingdom

Robert Sussman Senior policy counsel, Environmental Protection Agency

Christina Tchen Director, White House Office of Public Engagement

Barry White Ambassador to Norway

RAISED BETWEEN $100,000 and $200,000
Preeta Bansal General counsel, Office of Management and Budget

Laurie Fulton Ambassador to Denmark

Fred Hochberg President, Export-Import Bank of the United States

Valerie Jarrett Senior adviser to the president

Kevin Jennings Assistant deputy secretary of Education

Steven Rattner Treasury Department adviser

Miriam Sapiro Deputy U.S. trade representative**

Vinai Thummalapally Ambassador to Belize

RAISED BETWEEN $50,000 and $100,000
Eric Holder Attorney general

David Jacobson Ambassador to Canada

Ronald Kirk U.S. trade representative

Rocco Landesman Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts

Susan Rice Ambassador to the United Nations

** Nominated, not yet confirmed by Senate

*** National finance chairwoman

Sources: Obama campaign, Public Citizen; White House; USA TODAY research

Contributing: Andrew Seaman

Obama attempts to blacklist Fox News

Media revolts against Obama's attempt to blacklist Fox News

Obama sounds like Arizona Governor Ev Mecham who tried to blacklist a reporter who was given him flack! And Obama isn't doing any better in his attempt to supress bad press then Ev Mecham did.


Media revolts against Obama's attempt to blacklist Fox News

October 23, 1:34 AM

Des Moines Conservative Examiner

Kevin Hall

The Obama administration's war on Fox has turned the usually fawning media against the President. Thursday's attempt to exclude Fox News from a round of network interviews with a White House official backfired. Very badly.

One of Obama's three dozen czars was made available to the network pool members, which include Fox, CNN, NBC, CBS and ABC. However, in yet another attempt to attack de-legitimize Fox News, the White House told FNC they would not be allowed to participate in the interviews.

Thankfully, the Washington bureau chiefs for the other networks rallied to Fox's defense. They told the Obama administration that none of them would do the interviews if Fox was excluded. Obama's minions relented.

The support of the other networks was more about protecting the First Amendment, and their own hides, than it was about helping Fox News. The networks are smart enough to realize that excluding one particular media member from White House coverage sets a dangerous precedent.

The moment also provided a nice push back against the bullying tactics Obama's top two advisors tried on CNN and ABC last Sunday. It also comes in direct contradiction to a statement made by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday, when he claimed he would not dictate who belongs in the media pool. That is exactly what Gibbs' office attempted to do three days later, by excluding Fox.

Barack Obama and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel also flat-out lied to us this week when they claimed they were not focusing on Fox News. That is exactly what they are doing. Three senior staffers, the President, and the White House website are all using our tax dollars to go after one specific member of the media, because FNC airs stories that do not always jibe with Obama's liberal agenda.

Obama even whined about Fox News during an off-the-record meeting with the most liberal members of the national media, including MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. Fox's commentators are certainly no worse than Olbermann and Maddow in terms of expressing their point of view. The only difference is MSNBC's hosts are liberal, and tend to support Obama. Fox's are more conservative, and tend to oppose him. You cannot claim Fox is not a legitimate news organization because they express a point of view, without doing the same to MSNBC. But Obama would never attack MSNBC. He needs them to boost his ever-dwindling poll numbers.

Fox News is the least of Obama's problems. Between growing job losses, a record $1.4 trillion deficit, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Al Qaeda, Russia, rising gas prices, and health care, you would think this administration has plenty of things to occupy its time. Instead of fixing problems, they go after their critics.

If really he wanted to know who to blame for America's woes, Barack Obama should take a good look at the face that stares back at him in the mirror. But the narcissistic president is simply too much in love with what he sees.


Fox News relishes Obama administration scorn

By Matea Gold

October 26, 2009

Reporting from New York - It's been a long time since Fox News, which avidly cultivates its outsider status, got to play the underdog. But after White House aides recently labeled the top-rated cable news channel "a wing of the Republican Party" and argued that it is not a news network, Fox News found itself back in a spot it relishes: firing back at a more powerful adversary.

The salvos by administration officials have rallied liberals who complain that the channel has a conservative agenda. The activist group MoveOn instantly jumped in the fray, urging Democrats to stay off Fox News programs.

But the White House's stance also gave extra lift to the network at a time when it is on track to record its best ratings year ever. This year, Fox News has averaged nearly 1.2 million viewers across all its programming, a 16% increase over the same period last year, according to Nielsen. In the two weeks since aides to President Obama took after the coverage, the audience has been 8% larger than the previous two weeks.

If anything, the Obama administration has succeeded in reinforcing Fox News' identity as a thorn in the side of the establishment -- a role the network loves to play.

"We may be No. 1, but there is sort of an insurgent quality to Fox News," said senior political analyst Brit Hume. "And that's kind of our attitude: 'Hoist a Jolly Roger, pull out our daggers and look for more throats to slit.' This is tremendous fodder for us. My lord, we've been living on it."

Glenn Beck, the network's newest star, gleefully unveiled a red telephone on his set, saying it was a special line for the White House to use to correct any mistakes he makes. Sean Hannity proudly labeled his program "Not White House approved." And Bill O'Reilly repeatedly hammered the White House in his nightly editorial.

"There is something very disturbing about the Obama administration fighting harder against Fox News than against the Taliban," he said last week.

Administration officials said they anticipated that Fox would try to capitalize on their remarks but felt they had to push back against the network's torrent of criticism.

"They were misrepresenting our programs and policies," said White House Communications Director Anita Dunn. "They were attacking members of the administration. And they were organizing political opposition on their shows. We wanted to set the record straight."

Fox News executives said the administration is failing to distinguish between their commentators and news programs.

"They talk about the opinion shows and they say, 'See, you're not doing journalism,' " said Michael Clemente, the channel's senior vice president of news, calling the contention that Fox News is not a news organization a "smear."

"I think it reinforces the fact that on the news side, we're the people that will ask the right questions, whatever those questions are," he added.

The back-and-forth is the latest chapter in a tortured relationship between Obama and Fox News. Early in the 2008 presidential campaign, he mostly steered clear of the channel amid pressure from liberal activists, forcing the cancellation of two Fox-hosted debates. But as the Democratic primary race moved to swing states such as Indiana, Obama stepped up his appearances on the network. He even granted O'Reilly a sit-down in September.

Tensions returned after Obama's victory. The network gave ample coverage to the "tea party" rallies protesting the administration's spending, with its hosts urging viewers to participate. Beck called Obama a racist and doggedly went after White House aides such as "green jobs" advisor Van Jones, slamming him for signing a petition questioning whether the U.S. had a role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Jones ultimately resigned. The story was belatedly picked up by the rest of the media, prompting editors at the New York Times and other news organizations to say they needed to watch the network more closely.

The idea of Fox News setting the news agenda alarmed White House officials, who decided to vocalize their criticism of its coverage to try to dissuade other reporters from following the network's lead.

"I think the mainstream media has to ask themselves at a time when there are wars, when there is a bad economy, when there are huge challenges facing this country, whether they want to chase a narrow political agenda," Dunn said.

It's unclear whether the tactic will be effective. Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, said that "if someone else breaks a good story, and if -- important if -- our own reporting backs it up, we'll run it. Even if it's Fox."

Los Angeles Times Editor Russ Stanton took a similar stance, saying, "We would follow any news story -- after confirming the facts and figuring out a way to advance it -- if we believed it was important to the readers of the Los Angeles Times, regardless of the organization or individual that broke it."

News executives at the other broadcast and cable television networks declined to comment on the dust-up. But there are signs that some in their ranks are uncomfortable with the White House's tack. Last week, ABC senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper quizzed Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about the appropriateness of the White House determining what constituted a news organization.

On Thursday, the Washington bureau chiefs of the networks balked when the Treasury Department sought to exclude Fox from a series of interviews with executive pay czar Kenneth Feinberg that was being filmed with a pool camera. The bureau chiefs insisted that Fox be included because it was part of the five-network pool, said CBS bureau chief Christopher Isham. "There was no debate," he said.

A senior administration official said the White House had not told Treasury to exclude Fox, and Gibbs told correspondent Major Garrett it had been a mistake.

On NBC last week, Obama tried to play down the dispute.

"What our advisors have simply said is that we are going to take media as it comes," he said. "And if media is operating basically as a talk radio format, then that's one thing. And if it's operating as a news outlet, then that's another thing. But it's not something I'm losing a lot of sleep over."


Mr. President, please grow a pair

Published: October 28, 2009, 12:00 am ET

By Mike Padovano

Collegian Columnist

During the past two weeks, the apparent war between the White House and Fox News has become more than just a minor blip on the political radar, but a major story. Each day there are numerous articles, from multiple news sources – CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Bloomberg, the Huffington Post and just about every newspaper and blog imaginable. Some will claim this whole debate is a waste of time, which might be true. This is why it’s important to remember who it was who forced us to have this debate to begin with: White House officials.

This whole spectacle began a few weeks ago when White House officials called out Glenn Beck for confusing the facts on the Olympics, and since has turned into a back-and-forth cat fight, with three senior advisers to Barack Obama calling Fox News “illegitimate” and calling on other news outlets to no longer treat Fox as legitimate journalism. Since then, Robert Gibbs has pointed to Beck and Sean Hannity as the real problems with Fox.

Now it’s obvious that White House officials and Fox have never had a great relationship, but what has happened recently is something that has not been seen since Richard Nixon was in office. It’s pretty funny, and sad at the same time, that the Obama administration feels so threatened by Fox News. After all, as the president’s approval ratings have been falling, Fox News’ ratings have been climbing, and it now attracts more viewers than all the other cable news networks combined, so maybe it is something to fear.

This has forced the administration to realize that its policies are not flying in mainstream America. With Fox as its most vocal opponent, it figures that by forcing the country to re-examine Fox, people will see the light and go crawling back into the arms of Obama. Unfortunately, this debate has fired up the right even more than it already was. By claiming Fox News is illegitimate, do the people watching it have illegitimate concerns? Furthermore, if Beck and Hannity are reasonable enough to claim Fox is illegitimate, shouldn’t Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow be enough to make MSNBC illegitimate? No, because MSNBC doesn’t criticize the administration at all.

Unfortunately for White House officials, this is yet another issue to blow up in their faces. Once again, Obama has shown his willingness to get sidetracked on trivial, stupid matters. Just like the professor Gates situation, and flying to Europe to petition for the Olympics, Obama is wasting critical time when decisions have to be made.

That there is no strategy for Afghanistan, yet Obama and his administration feel they can waste time on TV talking about Fox, is something that worries me, and should worry you. Obviously, Fox has a certain bias; the only people who don’t think so are those with Fox itself. But, people who want to watch Hannity and Beck are going to do so, regardless of what the administration says.

By getting involved, the administration is showing it’s willing to get involved in the media. Whether it be to regulate, there is no place for government interference with the media. That Fox’s ratings are growing every day means concerns about taxes, deficit and government intervention are real and spreading.

Rather than wasting time attacking people who share different views, White House officials should address these issues and prove them to be false. Beck frequently points to the government’s ever-growing role in our lives. By its willingness to take a position in the media, the administration has only shown these allegations to be all the more true.

Imagine if George W. Bush made a fuss every time he was treated unfairly by a news organization. He probably would’ve been impeached for violating the Constitution. Obama won’t be able to change the views of Hannity or Beck; but that doesn’t matter because they aren’t journalists, nor do they claim to be. They are entertainers who get high ratings by saying ridiculous things, so the best way to deal with them is to ignore them.

As the president, Obama’s duty is to rise above these entertainers and other negative press, and focus on doing his job. If Bush could put up with multiple networks calling him names for eight years, Obama can handle it from one network.

I hope the American public will soon realize that once again a distraction has been created for it. But before we move past this, as we had to do with the Professor Gates fiasco, who keeps bringing these ludicrous things into the public eye? Not Fox News, but Obama. If he is so focused on having a meaningful debate on the issues, why is he saying his opposition is illegitimate and why is he wasting precious time debating things that don’t matter?

If this is how the administration reacts when it is afraid, or in the face of someone who opposes it, I am afraid to think about how it will handle a real crisis or emergency. Will it go on different channels and complain that someone is being unfair or work toward proving its critics wrong? I guess only time will tell


Obama's war on Fox News provides big ratings boost

October 26, 11:54 PM

Des Moines Conservative Examiner

Kevin Hall

Barack Obama's war on Fox News Channel is paying huge dividends. For Fox News. While Obama's approval numbers are sinking below the 50 percent mark, FNC's ratings are higher than ever.

Two weeks ago, the Obama White House began its assault on Fox News Channel, with communications director Anita Dunn calling the channel a "research arm of the Republican Party." Since that time, FNC's ratings are up almost 10 percent. Even more important, the ratings leaped 14 percent in the coveted 25-54 year old demographic.

Glenn Beck, who is particularly despised by the thin-skinned Obama administration, now owns the second highest rated show in all of cable news. Beck's show airs at 5 pm eastern, three hours before prime time viewing even begins. Altogether, FNC has the top 11 highest rated shows in cable news, and 13 of the top 14. Thanks in part to Obama's inadvertent help, FNC is on pace for its best ratings year ever.

The Obama administration has used its heaviest hitters to attack Fox News. The President's top two advisors tried to bully ABC and CNN into not following up on stories first reported by Fox. The networks pushed back when the White House tried to exclude Fox from network pool coverage. Then, when the Obama administration lied and claimed they did not try to block FNC, CBS News exposed their fraud.

Obama joined the fray by saying the channel is more like talk radio than a news outlet. This statement exposes the President's extreme hypocrisy. MSNBC is every bit as opinionated at Fox News. But since MSNBC is liberal, they receive praise, not scorn. In fact, their two most boisterous hosts were invited to the White House last week to listen to Obama whine even more about Fox News.

Even Obama's liberal supporters believe this war with Fox is a losing strategy for the White House. Fox, on the other hand, hopes the White House fires more ammunition. They are laughing all the way to bank.


Oct. 23, 2009

President Obama's Feud with FOX News

After Months of Taking Heat from FOX News Stars, the White House is Firing Back

White House Takes Aim at Fox News

(CBS) After months of taking incoming fire from the prime-time stars of Fox News, the Obama White House is firing back, charging that FOX News is different from all other news.

"FOX News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican party," said Anita Dunn, White House communications director.

"If media is operating basically as a talk radio format, then that's one thing, and if it's operating as a news outlet, then that's another," Mr. Obama said.

And the White House has gone beyond words, reports CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield. Last Sept. 20, the president went on every Sunday news show - except Chris Wallace's show on FOX. And on Thursday, the Treasury Department tried to exclude FOX News from pool coverage of interviews with a key official. It backed down after strong protests from the press.

"All the networks said, that's it, you've crossed the line," said CBS News White House correspondent Chip Reid.

Tension between presidents and the press is as old as the Republic. FDR was so incensed by the war reporting of one New York Daily News correspondent he tried to present him with an Iron Cross from Nazi Germany. John Kennedy tried to get New York Timesman David Halberstam pulled out of Vietnam; and Vice-President Spiro Agnew's assaults on the network press is legendary.

"We have more than our share of nattering nabobs of negativism," Agnew said.

What gives this dust-up special irony is that FOX News success comes in no small part from its ability to convince its viewers that the "mainstream" media are slanted to the left. Now, the White House is arguing that the network is not a real news organization at all, and that has brought some mainstream media voices to its defense.

There's no question that FOX's prime-time voices come from the right. Moreover, its owner, Rupert Murdoch is a staunch conservative, and its first and only CEO, Roger Ailes, is a veteran of Republican media wars.

But MSNBC in prime-time has its own lineup of commentators - all of whom are on the left side of the spectrum, some of whom met with the president the White House this week.

So why is the White House out to "de-legitimize" FOX? Not because it has opinions, but because its opinion voices are so hostile to Mr. Obama - and because FOX News is, as it has been for a decade, by far the most watched of the cable news networks. In fact, its ratings have increased 13 percent this summer. So if FOX is feeling any pain from the White House's stance, it's crying all the way to the bank.


Fox News Feud

October 26, 2009 04:29 PM ET

It does not matter what Fox says about the president, it is the freedom of a true democracy to allow the voice of opposition ["White House: Fox Pushed Team Obama Over the Brink,"]. It is not the leader's position to say which opposition is accurate and which isn't; in fact, this is entirely irrelevant to the position of a leader. Furthermore, it is not the place of any leader of a "free nation" to muffle the sounds of a voice; no matter how inaccurate it is. That is not freedom of speech. It is the leader's freedom to choose not to listen to that voice, and that is exactly what President Obama should have done.


Fox News Channel, Obama administration talking


NEW YORK — Fox News Channel and the Obama administration are talking.

The network confirmed a Politico report that Fox news executive Michael Clemente met at the White House on Wednesday with Robert Gibbs, President Barack Obama's press secretary. There were no details given about the meeting.

Fox has been battling with the administration, which contends the network operates more like a wing of the Republican Party than a news organization.

The meeting came a day after Fox anchor Shepard Smith apologized for a "lack of balance" following a political report where the Republican candidate for New Jersey governor was interviewed and the Democratic incumbent wasn't.

Fox correspondent Shannon Bream had wrapped up a live interview with GOP candidate Chris Christie on Smith's afternoon news show Tuesday when the anchor asked, "When will you be interviewing Jon Corzine?"

Bream replied that despite "multiple requests," Corzine hadn't made himself available for an interview.

"I didn't know that was about to happen," Smith then said. "My apologies for the lack of balance there. If I had control, it wouldn't have happened."

Smith is the network's chief news anchor and has even angered Fox viewers with some of his stories, including expressions of anger at the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina.

During Smith's second newscast on Tuesday evening, a New Jersey report included a Corzine sound bite given to the Fox broadcast network's New York affiliate.

The race in New Jersey is one of two marquee contests in 2009, along with the gubernatorial campaign in Virginia. Corzine trailed Christie in the early stages of the campaign, but recent polls show the governor has closed the gap.

Meanwhile, Fox received support Wednesday from an unlikely source: CNN's prime-time host Campbell Brown. She interviewed Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and asked whether the White House considered left-leaning MSNBC biased as well. Jarrett wouldn't speak about the network.

She "seems loathe to admit that MSNBC has a bias," Brown said. "And that is where I think the White House loses all credibility on this issue."

If the White House wants to talk about bias in the media, officials "should elevate the conversation and talk about bias on the right and on the left," Brown said. "Because when you just target one side, you reveal your own bias — that you are only critical of those who are critical of you."


Fox, White House Said To Agree To Truce

by Charles Cooper

(CBS)Looks as if Fox News and the White House caught the holiday spirit a couple of months early. Not exactly peace in our time, but at least it's a start.

A report late Wednesday by FishbowlDC (and subsequently confirmed by Politico,) brings word of a truce following a meeting between Fox News senior vice president, Michael Clemente, and White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs.

From my (admittedly narrow) perspective, I must confess that I'm sorry to see the abrupt end of what was turning into a prime-time novella. For a blogger looking for easy pickings, this ridiculous cat fight was simply too easy to lampoon. But let's acknowledge the obvious: both sides wised up and did the right thing. (The biz dev guys would describe it as a win-win.)

From the get-go, there was little upside for the Obama administration. After being singled out as unfair, Fox easily turned the tables on the White House and played the role of plucky underdog to its advantage. The ruckus also gave the unholy trinity of Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck more fodder than they knew what to do with. The Fox freeze-out also left the White House seeming petty and prickly. When Barack Obama started getting mentioned in the same breath as Richard Nixon, the PR geniuses counseling the president ought to have recalibrated the White House media strategy in a big hurry.

Meanwhile any temporary ratings boost, notwithstanding, Fox didn't come out of this episode smelling like a rose. The network's protestations that it accorded a fair shake to a liberal Democratic administration invited a new round of complaints that Rupert Murdoch's minions sorely failed to live up to the network's professed standard of being `fair and balanced.' That may not bother the red meat eaters who comprise the network's core audience. But the legions of journalists and producers who work at Fox aren't any different than the folks who go to work at the other electronic media outlets. They want to get stories first and they want to get them accurately - a big enough job by itself. Having to defend themselves from charges of reportorial bias was not something they signed up for.

Of course, a cease fire isn't worth the paper it's written on if the two sides fail to find common ground. Let's see how long the truce lasts. Think it will last through Christmas?

Doesn't take much for Obama to flush our civil liberties down the toilet!

About the only bad thing I can see about swine flue is it's a jobs program for government nannies!


Obama declares swine flu a national emergency

Oct. 24, 2009 09:28 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency.

The White House on Saturday said Obama signed a proclamation that would allow medical officials to bypass certain federal requirements. Officials described the move as similar to a declaration ahead of a hurricane making landfall.

Swine flu is more widespread now than it's ever been and has resulted in more than 1,000 U.S. deaths so far. Health authorities say almost 100 children have died from the flu, known as H1N1, and 46 states now have widespread flu activity.

The White House said Obama signed the declaration on Friday evening.

Interesting how out of touch with their people the NATO governments are. The people in Europe hate the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan more then the people in the USA!

On the other hand if Obama gives the rulers of the NATO governments lots of pork they will probalby do anything that Obama asks for!


NATO backs a U.S. surge strategy

by Julian E. Barnes - Oct. 24, 2009 12:00 AM

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON - NATO defense ministers signaled broad support Friday for a robust counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, adding to the momentum favoring a substantial U.S. troop hike.

Without discussing troop levels, NATO ministers meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, endorsed the strategy put forward by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and allied commander. The alliance rejected competing proposals to narrow the military mission to simply fighting the remnants of al-Qaida.

"The only way to ensure that Afghanistan does not become once again a safe haven for terrorism is if it is made strong enough to resist the insurgency as well," said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO's secretary-general. "In Afghanistan, you cannot separate counterterrorism from counterinsurgency."

As the Obama administration reviews U.S. strategy, the NATO endorsement is likely to add impetus to McChrystal's request for 40,000 additional troops to protect the Afghan people, shore up the government and counter Taliban militants.

It is unlikely the defense ministers would have issued such an unambiguous endorsement of McChrystal's plan without at least the tacit approval from U.S. officials who maintain close contact with NATO-member governments on the issue.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates attended the meeting but made no attempt to counter the move by the ministers to back McChrystal. Gates is considered a supporter of McChrystal but has avoided publicly discussing his views.

The NATO ministers' support could prove crucial to the White House. Showing that the administration has the support of its allies would be critical to President Barack Obama's ability to make his case for a troop increase to the U.S. public.

The endorsement came at a time of increasing confidence among military and other government officials in Washington that the administration will agree to much of McChrystal's troop request.

It also came days after developments in Afghanistan's presidential election promised to clear another potential hurdle to a troop increase.

President Hamid Karzai's acceptance of a runoff election could provide the Afghan government with the legitimacy experts say is essential to McChrystal's strategy.

Together, the Afghan runoff and the NATO endorsement undercut proposals by Vice President Joe Biden and others to focus more on hunting terrorists than on defeating the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan.

"It does not solve the problems in Afghanistan just to hunt down and kill individual terrorists," Rasmussen said.

"What we need is a much broader strategy."

Obama administration officials have been reviewing their strategy for the past six weeks. Gates said that the analytical phase of internal deliberations is nearly finished and that specific options will be discussed over the next "two to three weeks."

The final decision by Obama could come right before or soon after the Nov. 7 runoff between Karzai and his challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister.

The runoff is important to U.S. plans because a legitimate government in Kabul is seen as critical to the success of a counterinsurgency plan.

Controversy surrounding election fraud from the country's August ballot fueled White House interest in reopening the strategy debate.

Actual troop commitments will not be discussed by NATO until November, but Gates said a number of allies indicated they are thinking about increasing their military or civilian contributions.

"I detected a commitment and an energy on the part of our allies, both in uniform and civilians, in terms of their determination to participate with us in Afghanistan and see this through to a successful conclusion," Gates said.

The NATO meeting posed challenges for the Obama administration and its NATO allies, said Rick Nelson, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

It gave the administration a critical opportunity to keep allies onboard during the White House strategy review. For the alliance, it showed Afghanistan remains a crucial test.

"The success of Afghanistan is tied to the success of the post-Cold War NATO," Nelson said.

"So, they want to be successful. Cutting and running won't play into anyone's favor."

Yes I hate criminal pirates! But where in the American Constitution does it say we are the world polices force. The Constitution says wars have to be declared! Congress has not declared war on Iraq, Afghanistan or these pirates in Somalia!


U.S. drones patrol Somalia's coast to fend off pirates

Oct. 24, 2009 12:00 AM

Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya - For the first time, sophisticated U.S. military surveillance drones capable of carrying missiles have begun patrolling waters off Somalia in hopes of stemming rising piracy.

Three ships have been seized in a week off Africa's lawless eastern coast and Vice Adm. Robert Moeller, deputy commander for the U.S. Africa Command, said pirates continue to pose a significant challenge.

With the monsoon season now ended, there has been a rash of attacks as pirates return to the open seas. More than 130 crew members from seven ships are being held, including about 70 from the latest attacks. In an effort to stem the surge, unmanned U.S. military surveillance planes called MQ-9 Reapers stationed on the island nation of Seychelles are being deployed to patrol the Indian Ocean in search of pirates, Moeller told the Associated Press in an interview at command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. The patrols began this week, military officials said.

The 36-foot-long Reapers are the size of a jet fighter, can fly about 16 hours and are capable of carrying a dozen guided bombs and missiles. They are outfitted with infrared, laser and radar targeting.

Military officials said Friday that the drones would not immediately be fitted with weaponry, but they did not rule out doing so in the future.

Analysts said they expected the Reapers would also be used to hunt al-Qaida and other Islamist militants in Somalia. While Moeller said the aircraft would "primarily" be used against pirates, he acknowledged they could also be used for other missions.

Even the drones and the presence of an international naval armada are unlikely to deter pirates, Moeller said. Pirates are "prepared to take their chances against the warships that are patrolling the area, simply because the potential for big financial gain is significant," he said.

Looks like Obama wants to give money to Republicans in exchange for votes in the 2012 election. Here is some corporate wefare to vote for Obama in 2012


Obama wants banks to lend more to small businesses

Posted 10/24/2009 2:04 PM ET

By Alan Fram, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — Banks should return the favor they received in their recent taxpayer-financed bailout by lending more money to small businesses, President Barack Obama said Saturday. In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said too many small business owners remain unable to get credit despite administration steps to jump-start lending, which was virtually frozen when the financial crisis took hold last year.

"These are the very taxpayers who stood by America's banks in a crisis, and now it's time for our banks to stand by creditworthy small businesses and make the loans they need to open their doors, grow their operations and create new jobs," Obama said.

"It's time for those banks to fulfill their responsibility to help ensure a wider recovery, a more secure system and more broadly shared prosperity," said Obama.

The president said the administration will "take every appropriate step to encourage them to meet those responsibilities." He did not specify what those steps might be.

Obama's were the latest instance of the populist tone he has employed to pressure the financial industry.

Earlier this week, Obama criticized the banking and finance industries for working through Congress to try to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Agency he has proposed. He accused them of "using every bit of influence they have to maintain the status quo that has maximized their profits at the expense of American consumers, despite the fact that recently those same American consumers bailed them out as a consequence of the bad decisions that they made."

The financial bailout package cost taxpayers $700 billion.

In his address Saturday, Obama said small businesses have created nearly two-thirds of the nation's new jobs over the past decade and a half.

"They must be at the forefront of our recovery," he said.

This year's $787 billion economic stimulus package made $5 billion in tax breaks available to small business and cut the costs of Small Business Administration loans, Obama said. Last week, he asked Congress to increase the size of some SBA loans and announced a plan to provide low interest loans to small banks that agree to lend more money to small businesses.

Is Obama going to blame Bush for Obama's first failure in Afghan?


In Afghanistan, President Obama has run out of "blame Bush" passes

Columnist Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON — Old Soviet joke:

Moscow, 1953. Stalin calls in Khrushchev.

"Niki, I'm dying. Don't have much to leave you. Just three envelopes. Open them, one at a time, when you get into big trouble."

A few years later, first crisis. Khrushchev opens envelope 1: "Blame everything on me. Uncle Joe."

A few years later, a really big crisis. Opens envelope 2: "Blame everything on me. Again. Good luck, Uncle Joe."

Third crisis. Opens envelope 3: "Prepare three envelopes."

In the Barack Obama version, there are 50 or so such blame-Bush free passes before the gig is up. By my calculation, Obama has already burned through a good 49. Is there anything he hasn't blamed George W. Bush for? The economy, global warming, the credit crisis, Middle East stalemate, the deficit, anti-Americanism abroad — everything but swine flu.

It's as if Obama's presidency hasn't really started. He's still taking inventory of the Bush years. Just this Monday, he referred to "long years of drift" in Afghanistan in order to, I suppose, explain away his own, well, yearlong drift on Afghanistan.

This compulsion to attack his predecessor is as stale as it is unseemly. Obama was elected a year ago. He became commander in chief two months later. He then solemnly announced his own "comprehensive new strategy" for Afghanistan seven months ago. And it was not an off-the-cuff decision. "My administration has heard from our military commanders, as well as our diplomats," the president assured us. "We've consulted with the Afghan and Pakistani governments, with our partners and our NATO allies, and with other donors and international organizations" and "with members of Congress. "

Obama is obviously unhappy with the path he himself chose in March. Fine. He has every right — indeed duty — to reconsider. But what Obama is reacting to is the failure of his own strategy.

There is nothing new here. The history of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars is a considered readjustment of policies that have failed. In each war, quick initial low-casualty campaigns toppled enemy governments. In the subsequent occupation stage, two policy choices presented themselves: the light or heavy "footprint."

In both Iraq and Afghanistan, we initially chose the light footprint. For obvious reasons: less risk and fewer losses for our troops, while reducing the intrusiveness of the occupation and thus the chances of creating an anti-foreigner backlash that would fan an insurgency.

This was the considered judgment of our commanders at the time, most especially Centcom commander (2003-2007) Gen. John Abizaid. And Abizaid was no stranger to the territory. He speaks Arabic and is a scholar of the region. The overriding idea was that the light footprint would minimize local opposition.

It was a perfectly reasonable assumption, but it proved wrong. The strategy failed. Not just because the enemy proved highly resilient but because the allegiance of the population turned out to hinge far less on resentment of foreign intrusiveness (in fact the locals came to hate the insurgents — al-Qaida in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan — far more than us) than on physical insecurity, which made them side with the insurgents out of sheer fear.

What they needed, argued Gen. David Petraeus against much Pentagon brass opposition, was population protection, i.e., a heavy footprint.

In Iraq, the heavy footprint — also known as the surge — dramatically reversed the fortunes of war. In Afghanistan, where it took longer for the Taliban to regroup, the failure of the light footprint did not become evident until more recently when an uneasy stalemate began to deteriorate into steady Taliban advances.

That's where we are now in Afghanistan. The logic of a true counterinsurgency strategy there is that whatever resentment a troop surge might occasion pales in comparison with the continued demoralization of any potential anti-Taliban elements unless they receive serious and immediate protection from U.S.-NATO forces.

In other words, Obama is facing the same decision on Afghanistan that Bush faced in late 2006 in deciding to surge in Iraq.

In both places, the deterioration of the military situation was not the result of "drift," but of considered policies that seemed reasonable, cautious and culturally sensitive at the time, but ultimately turned out to be wrong.

Which is evidently what Obama now thinks of the policy choice he made on March 27.

He is to be commended for reconsidering. But it is time he acted like a president and decided. Afghanistan is his. He's used up his envelopes.

Charles Krauthammer's column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is

Obama Nixon

Enemies list

  • Fox News
  • Dissent
  • Capitalism
  • Freedom of Speech
  • Rush
  • Democracy
Obama is Nixon! Enemies list! Fox News, Dissent, Capitalism, Freedom of Speech, Rush, Democracy

Obama's puppet government in Afghanistan

Obama selects Karzai to head American puppet govenment

Abdullah - "The systems rigged and a complete fraud"

Obama's puppet government in Afghanistan

But I'm the Messia - Obama

But I'm the Messia - Obama

You can always count on elected officials and politicians to be liars and hypocrites!


McCain: Palin attacks 'vicious'

by Andy Barr - Nov. 25, 2009 10:23 AM


Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday night that the attacks on Sarah Palin, his former vice presidential running mate, are unlike anything he has ever seen.

"I'm entertained and sometimes a little angry when I see this constant, vicious attacks by people on the left," McCain said of Palin during an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren.

"'I've never seen anything like it in all the years that I've been in politics," McCain continued, "the viciousness and the personalization of the attacks on Sarah Palin."

McCain did not mention that some of the harshest attacks against the former Alaska governor have come from former members of his own presidential campaign – who he has defended to some extent – but did said that he is "very proud" of Palin.

"I'm proud of the job she's doing. And I believe that she will play a major role in the politics in America. Americans like her," McCain said, "whether the New York Times and others happen to like that or not."

Asked about media circus that follows Palin everywhere she goes, McCain said, "I think it's fantastic."

The Arizona Republic is a member of the Politico Network.

Obama to get Indian votes! Of course Obama will screw them after he gets their votes! Just like Obama has screwed everybody else on his promises!


Obama to Indians: 'You will not be forgotten'

Agencies ordered to improve relations with tribes

by Ledyard King - Nov. 6, 2009 12:00 AM

Gannett Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Telling American Indian leaders "I'm on your side," President Barack Obama issued an order Thursday instructing federal agencies to do a much better job of consulting with tribes on numerous policies affecting Indian country.

The order, signed in front of a cheering throng of tribal leaders, was the highlight of a one-day summit that Obama pledged to hold during his presidential campaign last year.

Obama called the summit the largest gathering of Native American tribal leaders in U.S. history. The federal government is obligated under established treaties to provide basic services to tribes, but Indians say the government rarely consults them about how those services should be delivered. This order directs every Cabinet agency to draw up a detailed plan to improve tribal consultation.

"After all, there are challenges we can only solve by working together," Obama said.

Representatives of 386 federally recognized tribes paid their way to come to the Interior Department for the summit, which featured discussion panels with Cabinet secretaries, federal lawmakers and the heads of agencies that deal directly with Indian issues.

The mood was generally upbeat, and the summit program included Indian ceremony and tradition. The president playfully engaged the crowd during a question-and-answer session, a sign of the kinship Indians feel with Obama despite the deep resentment many have toward the federal government.

Thorny issues of tribal lands and trust responsibilities, which are the subjects of lawsuits brought by tribes against the government, were discussed, as was the need for more money for health care, education and law enforcement. But few expect the gathering to solve problems immediately.

Talking about the poor treatment Indians have received, the president said he could relate from his own personal experiences as the son of a teenage mother and a father who abandoned his family.

"I'm on your side. I understand what it means to be an outsider. I know what it means to feel ignored and forgotten, and what it means to struggle. So you will not be forgotten as long as I'm in this White House," he said.

Indians say they finally have an ally in the White House. Obama campaigned on their reservations, beefed up aid to their tribes, appointed several Indians to key administration positions and delivered on the summit.

"You've restored hope to the Indian communities," said Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians and a member of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, who introduced the president. "We want to thank you for restoring that, not only just by your words, but by your actions."

One of those actions is the order Obama signed Thursday.

Though it does not guarantee more money or favorable outcomes, the order promises a spirit of cooperation from Washington that Indian leaders said has been missing for years. President Bill Clinton issued a similar order about a decade ago, but Indian leaders said little was done to enforce it.

They are much more optimistic about Obama.

Said Theresa Two Bulls, president of the South Dakota Oglala Sioux Tribe, one of the most impoverished in the nation: "It's truly a beginning."

The Washington Post and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

Unemployment surges to 10.2% - Obamas gonna cut it down - personally!

Hmmm .... If the all powerful Obama is going to personally reduce the unemployment rate why did the all powerful Obama let the unemployment rate get so high?

Obama "I won't let up until the Americans who want to find work can find work and until all Americans can earn enough to raise their families and keep their businesses open"

Let's face it ain't jack sh*t Obama can do to reduce the unemployment rate other then reduce taxes and government regulations and that is something Obama won't do!


Unemployment surges to 10.2%

Highest rate since 1983; job losses likely to continue well into 2010

Nov. 7, 2009 12:00 AM

McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - As bad as Friday's jobs report was, showing October's unemployment rate jumping sharply to 10.2 percent, the outlook is likely to worsen for American workers well into next year. Economists expect the jobless rate to keep climbing, perhaps above 11 percent, as employers produce more with fewer workers and shy away from hiring.

The nation's unemployment rate rose a larger-than-expected four-tenths of a percentage point in October and hit its highest level since April 1983, even as the pace of job losses slowed sharply, the Labor Department said Friday.

While the jobless rate, which stood at 9.8 percent in September, hasn't yet topped the post-World War II high of 10.8 percent, many experts say this recession is worse.

Employers shed 190,000 jobs in October, the slowest pace almost since the devastating recession began in December 2007. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised its August and September unemployment numbers to reflect that 91,000 fewer jobs were lost over those two months than first reported.

That trend is positive. It shows that the torrid pace of job losses in the first half of the year has slowed dramatically. That supports the recent report that the U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annual rate from July through September.

There are other positive signs. The professional and business services sector added 18,000 jobs in October. Temporary employment, which usually rises before a return to broader hiring, was up by almost 34,000 last month, the third straight month of gains.

Yet the surge in the unemployment rate overshadowed all else.

"History tells us that job growth always lags behind economic growth," President Barack Obama cautioned in a statement from the White House Rose Garden, shortly after he signed a new $24 billion economic-stimulus bill into law. The measure provides tax incentives to homebuyers and extends unemployment benefits for the longtime unemployed. The House of Representatives passed the measure 403-12 Thursday in a rare bipartisan vote, a day after the Senate passed it unanimously.

Obama called the October jobless report "a sobering number that underscores the economic challenges that lie ahead. ... I won't let up until the Americans who want to find work can find work and until all Americans can earn enough to raise their families and keep their businesses open."

When discouraged workers and underemployed ones are factored in, a more broadly defined unemployment rate stands at 17.5 percent. Thirty-five percent of the jobless, about 5.6 million Americans, have been unable to find work for more than six months.

Many economists had expected unemployment to hit 10 percent this year, but few thought the rate would reach that by October. After Friday's sharp jump, they began revising job forecasts down.

Mark Zandi, the chief economist for Moody's, thinks that the jobless rate could hit 11 percent by mid-2010.

"Unemployment is rising while labor force is declining. Once labor force begins to rise, this will add to unemployment, as many coming back in will be unemployed," Zandi said.

Smaller firms, which provide the most jobs, remain cash-poor and credit-starved. They're expected to continue shedding workers or at best hold the line.

"The job market isn't deteriorating as fast as it was earlier in the year, but it isn't going to improve until next spring at the earliest," Zandi said.

Sageworks Inc., a financial firm that specializes in data about privately held companies, reported that small firms will keep cutting payrolls.

"They're going to reduce their overhead. They're going to reduce their payroll. They represent at least 50 percent of the employment in the United States, and that doesn't look like it's coming back anytime soon," said Drew White, the group's chief financial officer.

Only four sectors of privately held companies are showing revenue growth before expenses this year, he said: health care, utilities, education and information.

Still, some analysts found grounds for optimism.

"What people aren't talking about today and won't talk about for a couple of days is that if you take the peak of job losses and plot the trend, we still get to zero jobs lost sometime in the first quarter of 2010. That means we start adding jobs the next month after we hit zero," Fred Fraenkel, vice chairman of investment manager Beacon Trust Co., said in a research note. "Most people are talking about the U.S. starting to add jobs back in the second half of next year. It looks like that will start in the first half of the year, not the second half."

October was the 22nd consecutive month that employers shed jobs, the longest such streak since the Great Depression. Nine of those months were under the Obama administration, 13 under the Bush administration.

Last month's job losses followed a familiar script as construction, manufacturing, hospitality and leisure, and the retail sector reduced jobs. Government hiring was flat. Health and education showed some positive growth, and in a pleasant surprise, professional and business services added jobs.

Employers shed an average of 188,000 jobs in each of the past three months, the Labor Department said. That's better than the 357,000 jobs lost on average in each of the three preceding months.

Delete two of these images!

Make the remaining image align on the left with the text

Better yet delete ALL of the images and get the orginal drawing from the Ramiz web site

237 members of Congress are millionaires.

I guess that "government of the people, by the people, for the people" thing ain't true any more!

It's more like "government of the people, by the elected officials and appointed bureaucrats for the elected officials, appointed bureaucrats and special interest groups that helped them get in power" is how it works now! The common man on the street is NOT the one who Congress looks out for.

Obama and Congress just gave out about $2 trillion in corporate welfare. I wonder how much of that went to themselfs and the companies they run?

And the reason they refuse to legalize victimless drug war crimes is they don't want the liquor businesses they own to lose money due to new recreational drugs. Arizona's John McCain is one of those liquor barons, or at least his wife is.

And of course that is why the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue even though most of the pubic is against them – there is too much money to be made by members of Congress supplying the military with the tools of the trade to kill woman and children in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Report: 237 millionaires in Congress

by Erika Lovley - Nov. 6, 2009 05:31 PM


Talk about bad timing.

As Washington reels from the news of 10.2 percent unemployment, the Center for Responsive Politics is out with a new report describing the wealth of members of Congress.

Among the highlights: Two-hundred-and-thirty-seven members of Congress are millionaires. That’s 44 percent of the body – compared to about 1 percent of Americans overall.

CRP says California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa is the richest lawmaker on Capitol Hill, with a net worth estimated at about $251 million. Next in line: Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), worth about $244.7 million; Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), worth about $214.5 million; Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), worth about $209.7 million; and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), worth about $208.8 million.

All told, at least seven lawmakers have net worths greater than $100 million, according to the Center’s 2008 figures.

“Many Americans probably have a sense that members of Congress aren’t hurting, even if their government salary alone is in the six figures, much more than most Americans make,” said CRP spokesman Dave Levinthal. “What we see through these figures is that many of them have riches well beyond that salary, supplemented with securities, stock holdings, property and other investments.”

The CRP numbers are somewhat rough estimates – lawmakers are required to report their financial information in broad ranges of figures, so it’s impossible to pin down their dollars with precision. The CRP uses the mid-point in the ranges to build its estimates.

Senators’ estimated median reportable worth sunk to about $1.79 million from $2.27 million in 2007. The House’s median income was significantly lower and also sank, bottoming out at $622,254 from $724,258 in 2007.

But CRP’s analysis suggests that some lawmakers did well for themselves between 2007 and 2008, even as many Americans lost jobs and saw their savings and their home values plummet.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gained about $9.2 million. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) gained about $3 million, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) had an estimated $2.6 million gain, and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) gained about $2.8 million.

Some lawmakers have profited from investments in companies that have received federal bailouts; dozens of lawmakers are invested in Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America.

Among executive branch officials, CRP says the richest is Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary L. Schapiro, with a net worth estimated at $26 million.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is next, worth an estimated $21 million. President Barack Obama is the sixth-wealthiest, worth about an estimated $4 million. Vice President Joe Biden has often tagged himself as an original blue collar man. The CRP backs him up, putting his net worth at just $27,000.

He’s hardly the worst off.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), freshman Rep. Harry Teague (D-N.M.), Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.) and Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) each a net worth of less than zero, CRP says.

One caveat on those numbers: Federal financial disclosure laws don’t require members to list the value of their personal residences. That information could alter the net worth picture for many lawmakers.

Even so, Levinthal said, “It is clear that some members are struggling financially.

“Over a calendar year, one’s wealth can change drastically. Many peoples’ investments took a nose dive over night in the last year,” he said.

A number of lawmakers are estimated to have suffered double-digit percentage lossed in their net worth from 2007 to 2008. The biggest losers include Kerry, who lost a whopping $127.4 million; Warner lost about $28.1 million; Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) lost about $11.8 million; and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lost about $10.1 million.

The Arizona Republic is a member of the Politico Network.

Obama - "The United States will continue to stand with Iraq as a strong partner and as a friend."

Yes sure! American is a friend and partner of Iraq!

Last time I checked the American Empire had invaded, conquered and installed a puppet government in Iraq. The American Empire is the ruling power in Iraq. And most Iraqis don’t consider American to be either a friend or a partner. We are an evil invading power that has conquered and occupied their country!


Iraq electoral law passes, sets up national vote

by Qassim Abdul-Zahra - Nov. 8, 2009 10:57 PM

Associated Press

BAGHDAD - Iraq's parliament ended weeks of debate Sunday and passed a long-delayed law paving the way for the planned January election to go forward, sidestepping a crisis that could have delayed the U.S. troop withdrawal.

The decision appeared to resolve a key sticking point - who will be allowed to vote in the disputed, oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The issue had threatened to delay Iraq's key parliamentary elections, which in turn would likely have affected how quickly American combat forces can leave the country.

In a sign of how intensely Washington was following the debate, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill could be seen shuttling between various political factions before the law's passage. President Barack Obama, speaking at the White House, welcomed the new legislation.

"This is an important milestone as the Iraqi people continue to take responsibility for their future," Obama said. "I want to congratulate Iraq's leaders for reaching this agreement. The United States will continue to stand with Iraq as a strong partner and as a friend."

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in a statement posted on his Web site, hailed the election law's passage as a "historic victory of the will of the people" and described it as a strong response to those trying to undermine Iraq's security.

Vote key for drawdown

Speaking to reporters after the vote, Hill said the American troop drawdown will proceed as scheduled.

Military commanders have said the withdrawal would start in earnest about 60 days after the vote, the idea being that the country would be on stable footing by then.

"What is important is that with the election law, we are very much on schedule for the drawdown," Hill said.

Under the president's plan, all U.S. combat troops will be out of Iraq by the end of August, leaving about 50,000 trainers and support troops, who in turn would leave by the end of 2011.

It was not clear whether the election would be held Jan. 16 - as originally planned - or a later date in January.

The head of the Independent High Electoral Commission, Faraj al-Haidari, said he expected the vote to be held within a week of Jan. 16., while Deputy Parliament Speaker Khalid al-Attiyah said it would likely be held Jan. 21 or 23.

The Iraqi constitution mandates the vote take place in January but does not specify a day.

The law's passage had been repeatedly delayed by sharp disagreements over how voting would take place in the northern city of Kirkuk, claimed by both Arabs and Kurds and a major flashpoint in the country.

Kurds consider Kirkuk a Kurdish city and want it part of their self-ruled region in northern Iraq. During the rule of former dictator Saddam Hussein, tens of thousands of Kurds were displaced under a forced plan by Saddam to make Kirkuk predominantly Arab, though many of them have since returned.

The Arab-led central government vehemently opposes anything that would remove Kirkuk from its control.

Under the legislation passed Sunday, the vote in Kirkuk would be held just as in other regions around the country, but the votes - and those in other disputed areas - could be subject to a special review if it is determined that there was a large population increase. Arabs and Turkomens claim Kurds have packed the city with immigrants to tip the balance in their favor.

All sides claim victory

Both Kurds and Arabs appeared to claim victory after the sometimes raucous parliament session that was televised live on Iraqi state TV.

"This is a good law because it occurred after broad agreement and it presents a solution to a problem that we have now solved, said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish lawmaker. "It doesn't achieve all our (Kurdish) ambitions, but it achieves a balance."

Omar al-Jabouri, a Sunni member of parliament, called the voting "a great victory" because, he said, Kurds were forced to accept special circumstances in the Kirkuk voting.

The law passed with 141 votes, but it was not immediately known how many of the parliament's 275 members voted against the legislation or even attended the session.

"It's a good step," said Michael Wahid Hanna, an analyst at the New York-based Century Foundation.

He cautioned, however, that disputes such as the long-brewing debate over the election law have paralyzed Iraq's political process and "have shown that it's incapable of solving the big questions," such as how to deal with disputed territories.

What a joke! In his first year in office Obama has given out almost $2 trillion in corporate welfare and now he is going to save money by cutting back departments by a measly 5%!

I must give Obama credit for his ability shovel the BS. Many people will hear Obama's latest line of BS and think he is doing a good job.


Obama eyes domestic spending freeze

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer Andrew Taylor, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has alerted domestic agencies to plan for a freeze or even a 5 percent cut in their budgets, part of an election-year push to rein in record deficits that threaten the economy and Democrats' political prospects next fall.

China, the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities, has expressed concern about the size of U.S. deficits. U.S. policymakers worry that alarm over deficits could push foreigners into cutting back on their purchases of Treasury debt. President Barack Obama will visit China as part of his current tour of Asia.

White House budget director Peter Orszag said Friday that it is imperative to start curbing the flow of red ink in coming years so as not to erode the fledgling economic recovery and raise interest rates. But he called it a balancing act and said acting too fast could undercut the recovery.

Orszag wouldn't comment on the specifics of the upcoming budget, which will be unveiled in February, right after Obama's State on the Union address in which the initiative is sure to be a major focus.

Democratic officials in the White House and on Capitol Hill say options for locking in budget savings include caps on the amount of money Congress gets to distribute each year for agency operating budgets. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to frankly discuss internal deliberations.

"As part of that fiscal 2011 budget, we will be putting forward proposals that will put us back on a fiscally sustainable path and that have lower deficits," Orszag said in a recent Associated Press interview. "I'm not going to get into the mix between spending and revenues. Obviously deficit reduction requires some combination of those two."

On Thursday, the government reported that the federal deficit hit a record for October as the new budget year began. The Treasury Department said the deficit for October totaled $176.4 billion, even higher than the $150 billion imbalance that economists expected. The deficit for the 2009 budget year, which ended on Sept. 30, set an all-time record in dollar terms of $1.42 trillion. That was $958 billion above the 2008 deficit, the previous record holder.

The budget freeze was planned before Democratic setbacks in last week's elections. But the bad results for Democrats — independent voters that were central to Obama's winning coalition last year voted roughly 3 to 1 for GOP gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey — appear to have added urgency to the deficit-cutting drive.

Independents, pollsters say, tend to be more concerned about the deficit than other voters and getting them back in the Democratic column is crucial to the party' chances in midterm congressional elections.

The mandate to domestic agencies to limit their budget requests for the 2011 budget year comes as an economic advisory board chaired by Paul Volcker is debating ways to reform the tax code. Virtually all budget experts say there will have to be revenue increases to make any significant dent in the deficit.

The White House edict to agencies to submit spending plans at least freezing their budgets is but one round in internal administration deliberations on the budget. Cabinet heads are sure to seek exemptions, and Orszag warned that firm budget decisions haven't been made.

Given Democrat's poor poll number on the deficit, cutting it may be a case in which the adage that good policy is good politics holds true.

Still, politicians have typically avoided politically painful deficit-cutting steps in election years and recent history has not been kind to politician who have tackled the issue.

Tax-raising deficit deals in 1990 and 1993 had big political consequences for President George H.W. Bush, who lost his re-election bid, and for President Bill Clinton, whose party lost control of Congress the following year.

Let me get this straight. The planes that flew into the World Trade Center were flown by the Afghanistan Air Force and that is what justified the US invasion of Afghanistan!

Now they are saying it was not an invasion by the Afghanistan government but a criminal act.

Jesus Obama is just as bad as bush! Source

9/11 suspects face trial in NYC

Civilian trial for Gitmo detainees sets off intense political debate

by Greg Gordon and Leila Fadel - Nov. 14, 2009 12:00 AM

McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Eric Holder, rejecting concerns about security risks, announced Friday that confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four men accused of being underlings will face a federal trial in New York just blocks from the scene of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.

Holder said that, because of his complete confidence in a "successful outcome," he had elected to forgo military trials and proceed with the first U.S. criminal prosecution of the figures suspected of direct involvement in the suicide-hijacking plot. He said he expects to ask for the death penalty.

Americans, especially family members of the 2,872 people who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, "deserve the opportunity to see the alleged plotters of those attacks held accountable in court, an opportunity that has been too long delayed," Holder told a news conference. The decision to attempt criminal prosecutions of the defendants set off intense debate from both ends of the political spectrum over whether the trial will make New York a magnet for terrorism, risk the release of some of the world's most dangerous terrorists because of issues such as brutal interrogation techniques used on them in secret prisons or be unfair because some or all of the defendants are mentally incompetent after years of isolation.

Human-rights groups hailed the decision, which administration officials described as a "significant step" toward fulfilling President Barack Obama's campaign promise to close the detention center at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Congressional Republicans promptly accused the Obama administration of trying to return to a pre-Sept. 11 mentality of criminalizing terrorism.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, warned that "bringing these dangerous individuals onto U.S. soil needlessly compromises the safety of all Americans."

House GOP leader John Boehner of Ohio said the possibility that the terror suspects "could be found not guilty due to some legal technicality just blocks from Ground Zero should give every American pause."

Pentagon and Justice Department officials said privately that even in the unlikely case of an acquittal, other options would enable authorities to avoid releasing the defendants into the general U.S. population.

Holder also said that he had decided that five other Guantanamo detainees will stand trial before military commissions, including Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of orchestrating the October 2007 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors and injured 39 others.

The attorney general said his first duty in deciding how to handle the Sept. 11 suspects was to follow the law and do "what's best for the American people."

"To the extent that there are political consequences, I'll just have to take my lumps," he said. "I think the criticism will be relatively muted."

A big obstacle could be whether an impartial jury can be impaneled so close to where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood.

Holder said that a careful jury-selection process should dispel those concerns. "I would not have authorized the bringing of these prosecutions unless I thought that the outcome ... would ultimately be successful," he said. "I will say that I have access to information that has not been publicly released that gives me great confidence that we will be successful in federal court."

He said a grand-jury indictment soon will be returned against:

• Mohammed, who has admitted spearheading the planning but whom U.S. interrogators subjected to simulated drowning techniques at a secret overseas prison after his capture in March 2003.

• Ramzi Binalshibh, who was turned away at the U.S. border four times before the attacks.

• Waleed bin Attash, who the U.S. government says was intended to be a hijacker.

• Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, suspected of being the paymaster.

• Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, a Pakistan-based operative who reportedly transferred money to the U.S. operatives.

All five have been held for years at Guantanamo Bay.

Asked about the decision at a Tokyo news conference before Holder's announcement, Obama said: "I am absolutely convinced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be subject to the most exacting demands of justice. The American people will insist on it, and my administration will insist on it."


Court proceedings for mastermind of 9/11 a worry for some New Yorkers

by David B. Caruso - Nov. 14, 2009 12:00 AM

Associated Press

NEW YORK - The move to put the self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind on trial just blocks from Ground Zero raises a host of legal, political and security questions, chief among them: Can a fair-minded jury be found in a city still nursing deep wounds from the attack on the World Trade Center?

Some also worry that the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will make New York an even bigger terrorist target and that he will use the proceedings to incite more violence against Americans.

The loudest protests Friday came from relatives of the victims, many of whom oppose any civilian trial for terror suspects - especially at the federal courthouse 1,000 yards from the spot where nearly 3,000 people died.

"If we have to bring them to the United States, New York City is not the place to have it, let alone in a courthouse that is in the shadows of the twin towers," said Lee Ielpi, whose firefighter son died in the 9/11 attacks. The city's wounds, he said, are simply still too raw.

"Ripping that scab open will create a tremendous hardship," he said.

Some city leaders seemed to relish the chance to hold the evildoers accountable at the scene of the crime.

"It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly also said that holding the trial in the city most devastated by the 2001 attack is appropriate, and he pronounced the Police Department prepared to meet any security challenge.

It may be years before Mohammed is brought to trial, and there is no guarantee the proceedings will actually be held in the city.

A defense attorney is almost certain to ask the judge to move the proceedings to someplace less likely to produce a jury tainted by extreme hatred of the defendant, said James Benjamin, a New York City lawyer who has studied terrorism prosecutions.

Still, he added, the city has handled big terrorism cases before.

Trials arising from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and another plot to attack city landmarks were held in federal court in New York.

Manhattan has jails ready to receive Mohammed. Terrorism defendants have been taken to the Metropolitan Correctional Center - an austere, 10-story building next to the courthouse - and placed in solitary confinement in 10 South, a cellblock for high-risk prisoners.

For the 2001 trial in the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, spectators had to pass through two sets of metal detectors, the courtroom and surrounding hallways were monitored round-the-clock, and videotape recorded any movements.

The defendants were strip-searched before being led through a passageway connecting the jail to the courthouse. Their feet were shackled throughout the proceedings, the chains shielded from the jury by a curtain attached to the defense table.

"The courts have handled many sensational cases fairly and effectively over the years," Benjamin said.

Civil-rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, said Mohammed is likely to be treated more fairly in New York, despite the hatred for him here, than he would before a military tribunal.

In announcing that Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay detainees will be brought to trial in New York, Attorney General Eric Holder expressed confidence that a "searching, complete" selection process will produce a fair-minded jury.

"We can come up with a process that ensures the defendants can get a fair trial in New York," he said.

Still, others with personal ties to the case predicted chaos.

"It will be a travesty!" said Debra Burlingame, sister of Charles Burlingame, one of the pilots of the airliners hijacked on Sept. 11.

She said Mohammed's court appearances will be a "three-ring circus," with the defendant using every opportunity to spout anti-American views as he did in front of 9/11 family members who traveled to Guantanamo to face him in court.

"He's going to be exulting in the suffering of the families," she said. "He will ridicule the judge. He will ridicule his lawyers. He will rally his jihadi brothers all over the world to kill more Americans."

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who favors trials before a military tribunal, said that providing security for the Mohammed case would further stretch the Police Department's resources: "They already have 1,000 cops working on counterterrorism."

Well execpt when it comes to FOX News which according to Obama is a wing of the Republican Party that needs to be shut down!


Obama to China: Uncensored society is healthy

Nov. 16, 2009 07:07 AM

Associated Press

BEIJING - President Barack Obama pointedly nudged China on Monday to stop censoring Internet access, offering an animated defense of the tool that helped him win the White House and suggesting Beijing need not fear a little criticism.

The president's message during a town hall-style meeting with university students in Shanghai, China's commercial hub, focused on one of the trickiest issues separating China's communist government and the United States - human rights.

It was a delicately balanced message and Obama couched his admonitions with words calling for cooperation, heavy with praise and American humility. "I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable," Obama told students during his first-ever trip to China. "They can begin to think for themselves."

The first-term U.S. president then flew to Beijing where Obama quickly drove to the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse for Obama's third meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Trade, climate change and economic issues were expected to dominate. The two leaders had dinner in the government complex and were scheduled to meet again Tuesday.

In brief remarks before their initial talks, Hu noted Obama's meeting with students, calling the session "quite lively."

Obama smiled broadly, throughout the Chinese leaders welcoming remarks, then told Hu that "the world recognizes the importance of the U.S.-Chinese relationship" in tackling global problems.

Obama's message, aside from his proddings on human rights, was clear: few global challenges can be solved unless the world's only superpower and its rising competitor work together. He and his advisers have insisted in virtually all public utterances since he arrived in Japan on Friday: "We do not seek to contain China's rise."

During Obama's opening statement to university students in Shanghai, he spoke bluntly about the benefits of individual freedoms in a country known for limiting them.

"We do not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation," Obama said. Then he added that freedom of expression and worship, unfettered access to information and unrestricted political participation are not unique to the United States; instead, he called them "universal rights."

The line offered echoes of Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, who often talked of the "universality of freedom." Obama talked at length about the Internet, which he said helped him win the presidency because it allowed for the mobilization of young people like those in his audience in Shanghai.

"I'm a big supporter of non-censorship," Obama said. "I recognize that different countries have different traditions. I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free Internet - or unrestricted Internet access is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged."

Given where Obama was speaking, such a comment carried strong implications. And he appeared to be talking directly to China's leaders when he said that he believes free discussion, including criticism that he sometimes finds annoying, makes him "a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don't want to hear."

China has more than 250 million Internet users and employs some of the world's tightest controls over what they see. The country is often criticized for having the so-called "Great Firewall of China," which refers to technology designed to prevent unwanted traffic from entering or leaving a network.

Obama's town hall was not broadcast live across China on television. It was shown on local Shanghai TV and streamed online on two big national Internet portals, but the quality was choppy and hard to hear.

Obama is in the midst of a weeklong Asia trip. He came with a vast agenda of security, economic and environmental concerns, although always looming was how he would deal with human rights while in China.

His China visit features the only sightseeing of his journey. He will visit the Forbidden City, home of former emperors in Beijing, and the centuries-old Great Wall outside of the city. Aides have learned that finding some tourist time calms and energize their boss amid the grueling schedule of an international trip.

U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman called Obama's event the first ever town-hall meeting held by a U.S. president in China. Yet former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also spoke to students and took questions from them during stops in China.

China is a huge and lucrative market for American goods and services, and yet it has a giant trade surplus with the U.S. that, like a raft of other economic issues, is a bone of contention between the two governments. The two militaries have increased their contacts, but clashes still happen and the United States remains worried about a dramatic buildup in what is already the largest standing army in the world.

Amid all that, Obama has adopted a pragmatic approach that stresses the positive, sometimes earning him criticism for being too soft on Beijing - particularly in the area of human rights abuses and what the United States regards as an undervalued Chinese currency that disadvantages U.S. products.

The two nations are working together more than ever on battling global warming, but they still differ deeply over hard targets for reductions in the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause it. China has supported sterner sanctions to halt North Korea's nuclear weapons program, but it still balks at getting more aggressive about reining in Iran's uranium enrichment.

Obama recognizes that a rising China, as the world's third-largest economy - on its way to becoming the second - and the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt, has shifted the dynamic more toward one of equals. For instance, Chinese questions about how Washington spending policies will affect the already soaring U.S. deficit and the safety of Chinese investments now must be answered by Washington.

The White House hoped Monday's town hall meeting with Chinese university students would allow Obama to telegraph U.S. values - through its successes and failures - to the widest Chinese audience possible.

But those hopes had their limits in communist-ruled China.

How do you spell OXYMORON? Read the article! Obama worrying about over taxing us! Since when does a Democrat (or Republican these days) worry about over taxing their serfs?


Obama warns of a 'double dip' recession

Posted 11/18/2009 11:04 AM ET

BEIJING (AP) — President Barack Obama says he's worried that spending too much money to help revive the economy could undermine a fragile U.S. recovery and throw the economy into a double-dip recession.

That's when the economy begins to recover briefly from a recession only to be dragged back under. Obama told Fox News in an interview Wednesday that his administration is weighing tax breaks that could encourage businesses to begin hiring again.

But he added that it's important to recognize that if the nation keeps adding to deficit spending through tax cuts or more stimulus spending, at some point people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy and that could "lead to a double-dip recession."

Obama's been running for re-election since he got into office. Here is some new propaganda and lies on how the great Obama created millions of jobs.


Laurie Roberts' Columns & Blog

Laurie Roberts is a columnist for The Arizona Republic.

Az stimulus job claims are overblown

No less than Vice President Joe Biden was in town this week, touting the effects of federal stimulus spending in Arizona.

“Folks, it's working,” a beaming Biden reported.

Actually, I agree. The stimulus is working. It's stimulating imaginations far and wide.

In Chandler, they imagine that a plan to install speed bumps and other traffic calming devices along a three-quarter mile stretch of a road will create 49 jobs for Arizona.

Over on the San Carlos Apache reservation, they imagine that using stimulus funds to give Head Start teachers a raise will save 53 jobs.

And at the universities, well, they didn't imagine anything. They just swooped in and vacuumed up nearly 10 percent of the stimulus money doled out in Arizona. This, to conduct research on such pressing issues as the effect of climate change on bluebirds and the division of labor among ants.

The ants, at least, have jobs.

Arizonans, not so much. Stimulus math, from what I can tell, seems largely based on imaginary numbers. According to the Obama administration, 12,283 jobs have been created or saved in Arizona thanks to the arrival of nearly $816 million in stimulus funds.

About 8,000 of those are school or government jobs that were spared – for now. Hundreds more were summer jobs for teens or work-study jobs for college students and as for the rest, many of the numbers seem highly suspect.

So I went to the state's resident expert on this stuff. Aaron Sandeen is the deputy director of the Arizona Office of Economic Recovery, the guy who was responsible for reporting to the feds how many state jobs were affected by the stimulus program.

Me: Do you really believe that 12,283 jobs have been created or saved in Arizona? Sandeen: “Absolutely not.”

Sandeen said while he's confidant in the number of state jobs saved, some of the job numbers elsewhere appear bogus, probably because the people who got stimulus money didn't understand how to report it.

“I don't think they got the proper guidance to calculate this right,” he said. “I think they just counted the total people that worked, not the total full-time equivalent hours, which means you can't compare this data to anything.”

In reporting jobs created or saved to the federal government, Sandeen said one job is supposed to be the equivalent of one full-time person working for a year, pro-rated to the 32-week reporting period. Instead, people appear to have just counted bodies.

Which is how Chandler comes to have created 49 jobs to calm traffic along a three-quarter-mile stretch of Knox Road according to, the website set up to track stimulus spending.

Jim Phipps, Chandler's spokesman, said the city reported everyone who would work on the $376,000 project – whether they worked a day, a week or longer -- because that's what the feds said to do. “I know now they're saying when you finally get the job going, you have to report FTE's on the job but those were not the instructions months and months ago,” he said.

Phipps said Chandler reported that the job would take 5,124 man hours.

That's two, maybe three jobs -- not 49.

Chandler isn't alone in achieving monumental job creation numbers.

Republic reporter Matt Wynn crunched the numbers from the 949 awards given to Arizona's public and private sectors. Reading this stuff will send your eyebrows through your hairline. (Try it. It's posted here. )

Glencroft Towers, for example, got $123,000 in rent subsidies for its low-income residents. For that, we are to believe that six jobs were saved. Greenview Apartments got nearly $64,000 in rent subsidies. Another four jobs.

Painted Desert Demonstration Projects, a Flagstaff company, got $21,000 to repair a school playground and install evaporative coolers. Jobs created: 10. Another 10 jobs were created when Smily-Lacina Joint Venture got $11,000, for a week-long job, painting a water tank building. Maricopa Community Colleges got $26,400 to provide health services to 1,000 low-income people. For this, they claim 34.5 jobs were created.

Then there are the universities. They slurped up more than $76 million for research, creating or saving 195 jobs, many of them student gigs.

That is $390,000 in stimulus funds for every job created to study a range of truly vital topics.

There's the $500,000 so ASU can study the division of labor in ant colonies, an undertaking that created two undergraduate jobs. Not to be outdone, UofA got $450,000 to study the division of labor in turtle ants, worth 1.46 jobs.

There is research on asexual fungi and research on East Antarctic bedrock and research on the impact of physical affection on stress. ASU got $115,000 in stimulus funds for that last one. Jobs created: 0.

In fact, of the $76 million tapped for university research, $40 million created no work.

Just in case you were wondering where all the stimulus jobs are…


To find out how federal stimulus money is being spent in Arizona, check out our searchable database.

(Column published Nov. 21, 2009, The Arizona Republic)

Hmmm .... Obama ain't gonna let Palin get any free publicity on government property. At least he tried. Yea sure Obama beleives in the First Admendment!


Army relents, will allow media at Sarah Palin's book signing

Nov. 21, 2009 12:00 AM

Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. - The U.S. Army said Friday that it would open Sarah Palin's appearance on Fort Bragg to media, a reversal from earlier in the week, when the military wanted the event closed out of fears it would prompt political grandstanding against President Barack Obama.

The attempt to ban media at the event scheduled for Monday was met with protests from the Associated Press and the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. The military then proposed limited media coverage, but lifted that plan Friday.

"Given an outpouring over the past two days of media interest in covering the Nov. 23 book signing at Fort Bragg's North Post Exchange, Fort Bragg will assist interested news media who wish to cover former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin," said a statement released by Fort Bragg spokesman Tom McCollum.

The Army now plans to allow any interested media to cover Palin's appearance, including allowing interviews with people who attend the event and rotating journalists into the building where Palin will be signing books.

McCollum said Thursday that officials planned to allow the general public on base but prevent media from attending so the Palin book signing would not become a political platform to express opinions "directed against the commander in chief."

Palin's visit to Fort Bragg is one of many stops on a tour promoting a new memoir, "Going Rogue." Publisher HarperCollins said Friday that the book sold 300,000 copies its first day.

Obama wants it both ways! He wants the anti-war people to vote for him because he is stopping the war in Afghanistan and he wants the pro-war people to vote for him because he is stepping up the war in Afghanistan. Obama has not stopped running for re-election in 2012 since the day he entered the White House!



Gates: Only 'handful' of troops to withdraw in '11

by Paul Richter - Dec. 7, 2009 12:00 AM

Chicago Tribune

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Robert Gates denied Sunday that President Barack Obama had set an exit strategy for Afghanistan, and he forecast only a "handful" of U.S. troops may leave the country in July 2011, when a withdrawal is to begin.

Gates, appearing on television news programs with other senior U.S. officials, said the Obama administration intends to maintain its commitment to Afghanistan but gradually shift security responsibilities to its government.

"This is a transition," the secretary said on ABC's "This Week." "We are not talking about an abrupt withdrawal. We are talking about something that will take place over a period of time." Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser James Jones appeared on the Sunday talk shows in a continuing effort to explain a policy that hopes to satisfy those who want to end the war and those who want to stay until U.S. goals are met.

Obama announced last week he that would soon send 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, bringing the total to nearly 100,000, but that some would start to return home in 18 months.

His decision to set this "inflection point" when troops will begin to depart has proven the most difficult point to explain to domestic audiences and allied governments.

Gates said troops would first be withdrawn from areas where the Taliban pose less of a threat, mostly in the north. He said U.S. military commanders had reason for optimism a surge of at least 18 months would work because they have seen progress in the south where U.S. forces already have been added.

Gates also sought to prepare Americans for higher casualties, which are expected as U.S. troops flood the most hotly contested parts in the south and the east.

"We'll have an increase in casualties at the front end of this process, but over time it'll actually lead to fewer casualties," he said.

Another element in the strategy will be to try to peel away less-committed Taliban fighters. But Clinton said it was not likely their senior leadership would give up.

Clinton and Gates approved of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's statement that his army can take control of parts of the country in three years, and its entirety in five, a goal seen as highly ambitious.

Hmmm.... Now Obama is handing out free corporate welfare to small businesses to help him get re-elected in 2012


Obama lays out initiative to relieve joblessness

Dec. 8, 2009 09:09 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will set out fresh plans Tuesday to reinvigorate the U.S. economy, focusing on incentives to small businesses and hiring to bring down the country's 10 percent unemployment rate.

Senior administration officials said Obama will be looking to push money left over from the Troubled Asset Relief Programs toward the small business community for hiring. Additional funds also would be sought from other sources for infrastructure improvements and rebates to consumers who make their homes more energy efficient.

The officials spoke Tuesday shortly before Obama was to detail his plans in a speech at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. They emphasized that new accounting showed the $700 billion TARP program will end up costing the government $200 billion less than anticipated. The officials, who spoke anonymously to reveal portions of the speech before it was delivered, said Obama also wanted to used an unspecified part of the fund for deficit reduction.

The Republican opposition in Congress has said the money should all go for deficit reduction.

The administration officials would not provide specific spending targets except to say there was a plan to alter tax accounting temporarily to allow small business to report investments of up to $250,000 as an expense, thus reducing reported income and taxes on the profits.

Also, they said, Obama will propose an elimination of fees on loans to small businesses coupled with federal guarantees of those loans through the end of next year.

On infrastructure measures, the officials said the administration would focus on pushing money still not spent in the separate $787 billion Recovery Act into projects more quickly. The clean energy component would be designed to set up a rebate system akin to the highly popular cash-for-clunkers program to encourage homeowners to invest in energy efficiency.

The president told reporters Monday there might be "selective approaches" for tapping into the TARP money that was allocated to prop up seriously ailing financial institutions. The administration and its allies on Capitol Hill still would have to get around a provision in the 2008 bailout legislation requiring money repaid by banks or left over to be used exclusively for reducing the federal deficit.

With a tough election year coming up, Obama and congressional Democrats want badly to do something about jobs. Turning a highly unpopular financial rescue program, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), into a potentially popular one that creates new jobs has strong political appeal. Republican critics have depicted such an approach as a backdoor way of enacting a second economic stimulus package.

"TARP has turned out to be much cheaper than we had expected, although not cheap," Obama told reporters at the White House on Monday. "It means that some of that money can be devoted to deficit reduction. And the question is: Are there selective approaches that are consistent with the original goals of TARP - for example, making sure that small businesses are still getting lending - that would be appropriate in accelerating job growth?"

By providing incentives to small businesses that have struggled during the recession with a lack of ready credit, the administration is banking on new hiring as a byproduct.

Honest we can win the war in 18 months and get Obama re-elected in 2012 Source

Afghan war commander: New strategy achievable

Dec. 8, 2009 08:07 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The general in charge of the war in Afghanistan is telling Congress that President Barack Obama's new war strategy is achievable and that combat force levels can be reduced starting in the summer of 2011.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal said he supports Obama's new war strategy - as did Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, who had voiced misgivings previously. The new battle plan includes an 18-month timeline until the first U.S troops come home.

Democrats will likely try to get the general to say the plan amounts to a muddle. Republicans plan to press him on whether the 2011 deadline encourages the Taliban insurgents. McChrystal said Obama's decision "recognizes that the next 18 months will likely be decisive, and ultimately, enables success."

New Obama plans: 'spend our way out' of downturn - Hey SPEND like TAX and SPEND is Obama's middle name! I'm not knocking Obama because the Democrats taught the Republicans everything they know about taxing and spending. They both are just as bad!


New Obama plans: 'spend our way out' of downturn

By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer Philip Elliott, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama outlined new multibillion-dollar stimulus and jobs proposals Tuesday, saying the nation must continue to "spend our way out of this recession" until more Americans are back at work.

Without giving a price tag, Obama proposed a package of new spending for highway, bridge and other infrastructure projects, deeper tax breaks for small businesses and tax incentives to encourage people to make their homes more energy efficient.

"We avoided the depression many feared," Obama said in a speech at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. But, he added, "Our work is far from done."

For the third time in a week, Obama sought to focus on job creation, noting that the unemployment rate was still at 10 percent in November, though down slightly from its 10.2 percent peak. He said "a staggering" 7 million Americans have lost jobs since the recession began two years ago.

While his proposal did not include the kind of direct federal public works jobs that were created in the 1930s, he said government could set the stage for more job creation by private businesses.

A major part of his package is new incentives for small businesses, which account for two-thirds of the nation's work force. He proposed a new tax cut for small businesses that hire in 2010 and an elimination for one year of the capital gains tax on profits from small-business investments.

Obama also proposed an elimination of fees on loans to small businesses, coupled with federal guarantees of those loans through the end of next year.

He called for more government spending on infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and water projects and for new tax breaks for consumers who invest in energy-efficient retrofits in their homes. This could be what some administration officials have called a "Cash for Caulkers" program modeled on the now-expired Cash for Clunkers program of tax rebates for people who turned in old cars for more fuel-efficient models.

The administration also is eyeing ways to get money still not spent in the $787 billion stimulus bill passed last winter into projects more quickly.

Obama did not characterize his new proposals as another stimulus program like that mammoth measure, but Republican critics have called it just that and have said it will increase a federal deficit that is already at a record level.

Obama included sharp criticism for Republicans in his speech, accusing them of opposing economic stimulus efforts and his health care overhaul while supporting tax cuts and spending that have ballooned the deficit.

He said that soon after taking office, he and congressional Democrats took "a series of difficult steps" to try to stabilize the financial system and pull the economy out of a deep recession.

"And we were forced to take those steps largely without the help of an opposition party which, unfortunately, after having presided over the decision-making that led to the crisis, decided to hand it to others to solve."

Obama did not say how much his proposals would cost, although congressional Democrats are eyeing a $70 billion package to help create jobs and to provide aid to hard-pressed state and local governments. Administration aides suggested that the part of the package dealing with roads, bridges and other infrastructure could total about $50 billion.

While acknowledging increasing concerns in Congress and among the public over the nation's growing debt, Obama said critics present a "false choice" between paying down deficits and investing in job creation and economic growth.

To pay for the new programs, the administration is citing the Treasury Department's report on Monday that it expects to get back $200 billion in taxpayer-approved bank bailout funds faster than expected.

Obama suggested this windfall would both help the government spend money on job creation while also paying down the nation's debt, which now totals $12 trillion.

Obama called the bank bailout, under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), "galling."

"There has rarely been a less loved — or more necessary — emergency program," Obama said. The program is expected to go out of business at the end of this year unless extended by Congress.

Since the program is costing taxpayers at least $200 billion less than expected, Obama said, "This gives us a chance to pay down the deficit faster than we thought possible and to shift funds that would have gone to help the banks on Wall Street to help create jobs on Main Street."

But Republicans continued to insist that the leftover and repaid TARP money must be used exclusively for deficit reduction and not for a new jobs program.

"The president's announcement is further proof that TARP has morphed from an emergency injection of liquidity to thaw frozen credit markets into a $700 billion revolving slush fund to promote the Democrats' political, social and economic agenda," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.

Obama said he is backing the measures he outlined because they "will generate the greatest number of jobs while generating the greatest value for our economy."

"These targeted initiatives are right, and they are needed," he said.

Translation from government double speak to English - Obama lied about winning the Afghan war in 18 months. It's going to take more then 30,000 troops and 18 months to win the war in Afghanistan! Of course the webmaster knows we are going to lose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan just like we lost Vietnam!


Petraeus says progress will be slow in Afghanistan

Posted 12/9/2009 11:46 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top-ranking American warned Congress Wednesday that the military situation in Afghanistan likely will "get harder before it gets easier." Yet Gen. David Petraeus, who executed the Iraq surge in 2007, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Afghanistan is in no worse condition now than Iraq was when he arrived there to take command of U.S. forces two years ago.

Petraeus also said the aims of the Taliban and the al-Qaida are "mutually reinforcing missions that cannot be untethered" from one another. Petraeus is commanding general of US Central Command, which has responsibility for overseeing US military activities in Central Asia -- including Afghanistan and Pakistan -- as well as the Middle East.

Petraeus said he believes that the new policy announced last week by President Barack Obama "will over the next 18 months enable us to make important progress."

He said he thought the change in strategy should help "reverse the Taliban momentum" while increasing the effectiveness of the Afghan security forces, improving the safety of the Afghan people and upgrading "the Afghan governance." Petraeus said he thought all those factors would help "set the conditions" leading to a possible drawdown of U.S. forces in a year and a half.

Obama lied again. We won't really pull out of the Afghanistan war in 18 months. It will take YEARS. But that 18 month fib will get him re-elected in 2012.


Obama: Afghanistan troop drawdown won't be steep

Posted 12/10/2009 11:39 AM ET

OSLO (AP) — President Barack Obama said Thursday that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, set to start in 19 months, will be gradual, and U.S. aid to that nation will last for years. "We're not going to see some sharp cliff, some precipitous drawdown," Obama told reporters in Oslo, where he traveled to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

The president said he is sticking to his plan to start the drawdown in July 2011, but he signaled that the United States will help Afghanistan train its security forces and develop its economy for some time.

"Several years after U.S. combat troops have been drastically reduced in the region," he said, "the Afghanistan government is still going to need support for those security forces. We are still going to have an interest in partnering with Afghans and Pakistanis and others in dealing with the remnants of terrorist activities there."

Some critics have questioned Obama's timetable because the United States is about to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Many liberals in Congress and elsewhere oppose the buildup in the first place.

Obama said there should be no confusion about his intentions.

"Starting in July 2011 we will begin that transition, that transfer of responsibility," he said.

"The pace at which that takes place, the slope of a drawdown, how it occurs tactically, those are all going to be conditions-based," he said, just as there has been "a constant monitoring of the situation" in Iraq.

Obama seemed to place more emphasis on the eventual transfer of responsibilities to Afghans than on solid timetables for bringing U.S. troops home.

"July 2011 will signal a shift in our mission," he said.

Meanwhile in Washington, the top U.S. military commander and top diplomat in Afghanistan continued the weeklong effort to explain Obama's new strategy on Capitol Hill.

In the eighth hearing since Obama announced the plan Dec. 1, members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee questioned Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Ambassador Karl Eikenberry on lawmakers' concerns about the timeline for withdrawal, the strain new deployments put on the armed forces, corruption within the Afghan government, and insurgent safe havens in neighboring Pakistan.

Should we call him Uncle Tom Obama? I think some Black folks fell that Obama's middle name is Uncle Tom!


Black lawmakers grow impatient with White House

Posted 12/10/2009 7:13 AM ET

By Ben Evans, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — Black lawmakers who have held their tongues during most of President Barack Obama's first year in office are stepping up their demands that the nation's first black president do more for minority communities hit hardest by the recession.

While still careful about criticizing Obama publicly, they appear to be losing their patience after a year of watching him dedicate trillions of dollars to prop up banks and corporations and fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while double-digit unemployment among blacks crept even higher.

"Obama has tried desperately to stay away from race, and all of us understand what he's doing," said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo. "But when you have such a disproportionate number of African-Americans unemployed, it would be irresponsible not to direct attention and resources to the people who are receiving the greatest level of pain."

Dating back to Obama's campaign, many black leaders have pressed him to take more of a stand on the challenges facing minorities. Most voiced criticisms privately for fear of jeopardizing his candidacy or undercutting his popularity after his election. They also have tread lightly so as not to be at odds with their own majority-black constituencies, who strongly support Obama.

But frustration has been building.

The 42-member Congressional Black Caucus flexed its influence last week when 10 of its members held up a financial regulation bill backed by the administration until leaders agreed to add about $3 billion in foreclosure relief for struggling homeowners. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., later added $1 billion for neighborhood revitalization programs.

During the stalemate, the lawmakers issued a statement saying they would no longer support public policy "defined by the world view of Wall Street."

"Policy for the least of these must be integrated into everything that we do," they said.

And earlier this week, the all-Democratic caucus responded to Obama's proposal for a new jobs package by saying it would insist on initiatives targeted to minorities. Pointing to outsized percentages of African-Americans losing their jobs and homes, caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said Obama must live up to his campaign talk that racial disparities cannot be ignored.

"The facts speak for themselves," Lee said. "The gaps are very real."

Some have sought to pin blame on the president's advisers.

"It's not the president. It's his economic team," said Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla. "I don't think they're doing their job."

The unemployment rate among African-Americans is nearly 16 percent, almost double the 9 percent rate for whites. Roughly one in four blacks lives in poverty, compared with about 11 percent of whites.

Obama was a black caucus member in the Senate before winning the White House last year, but he has never had a close relationship with the group. In recent interviews, he has addressed their criticisms by saying he must represent the entire country, not any one population, and the best way to help low-income communities is to improve the overall economy.

"I think it's a mistake to start thinking in terms of particular ethnic segments of the United States rather than to think that we are all in this together and we are all going to get out of this together," he said.

Many blacks in Congress take exception to that view, arguing that decades of neglect and discrimination warrant particular attention to minority concerns. Veteran black lawmakers such as Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., have been among the most vocal.

Conyers told The Hill newspaper that Obama called last month to ask why Conyers was "demeaning" him so much. Conyers has since declined to discuss the call, and Lee wouldn't say whether she has had a similar conversation with the president.

Black lawmakers say the differences are not new and Obama shouldn't take them personally. The caucus has had similar disputes with most recent presidents, including in 1993 when it spurned an invitation to meet with President Bill Clinton over potential budget cuts to domestic programs such as Medicare.

"What I think the CBC is saying is that our voices have to be raised on behalf of our constituents, just as the Blue Dogs or any other caucus does," said Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., referring to the conservative Democratic group that has leverage because it often holds swing votes. "In politics, what happens is the squeaky wheel gets the oil."

Things must really suck when the American Emperor is forced to drive instead of fly! Of course I feel sorry for the serfs and peons that the Secret Service chased off the roads so the American Emperor could have the road to himself from Andrews Air Force Base to the White House.


Snow storm slams East Coast, knocks out power

By SARAH KARUSH, Associated Press Writer Sarah Karush, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – A winter storm socked the East Coast on Saturday and dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas, creating treacherous conditions and misery for motorists on the weekend before Christmas.

Forecasts called for up to 20 inches of snow across the region and a blizzard warning was in effect for the nation's capital, which was virtually a sea of white. Tens of thousands of power outages were reported across the region.

Snowplows cleared the runway at Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Washington as President Barack Obama returned from climate talks in Copenhagen. The White House said Obama rode in a motorcade back to the White House, instead of taking his helicopter, because of the conditions.

How do you spell oxymoron? Obama plans to reduce the deficit! After raising the National debt from about $10 trillion to $12 trillion Obama plans to reduce the deficit by cutting spending of a few million here and there. Yea sure! Source

Obama unveils budget strategy to limit spending

Plan would limit spending, help middle-class families

by Ben Feller and Andrew Taylor - Jan. 26, 2010 12:00 AM

Associated Press .

WASHINGTON - Facing voter anger over mounting budget deficits, President Barack Obama will ask Congress to freeze spending for some domestic programs for three years beginning in 2011, administration officials said Monday. Separately, Obama unveiled plans to help a middle class "under assault" pay its bills, save for retirement and care for kids and aging parents.

The spending freeze would apply to a relatively small portion of the federal budget, affecting a $477 billion pot of money available for domestic agencies whose budgets are approved by Congress each year. Some of those agencies could get increases, others would have to face cuts; such programs got an almost 10 percent increase this year.

The federal budget total was $3.5 trillion.

The three-year plan will be part of the budget Obama will submit Feb. 1, senior administration officials said, commenting on condition of anonymity to reveal private details. They said Obama is expected to propose the freeze Wednesday night in his State of the Union address.

The Pentagon, veterans programs, foreign aid and the Homeland Security Department would be exempt from the freeze.

The savings would be small at first, perhaps $10 billion to $1 billion, one official said. But over the coming decade, savings would add up to $250 billion.

The White House is under considerable pressure to cut deficits - the red ink hit a record $1.4 trillion this year - or at least keep them from growing. Encouraged by last week's Massachusetts Senate victory, Republicans are hitting hard on the issue, and polls say voters are increasingly concerned.

Obama's separate public comments previewed other topics in the State of the Union address.

The proposals he described won't create jobs, but he said they could "re-establish some of the security that's slipped away." His remarks aimed to lift the nation's dour mood and show he is in touch with the daily struggles of millions of people as resentment runs high about lost jobs and the economy.

The initiatives amount to a package of tax credits, spending expansions and new mandates on employers to encourage retirement savings by workers. Most of them will be included in Obama's budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, and they will require approval from Congress. Obama will release that budget Feb. 1.

The president's latest rollout of ideas served as a preview of his prime-time State of the Union address. The economic elements of that speech will also cover Obama's plans to boost job creation and reduce swelling budget deficits, areas of concern to the public.

Obama's address will outline his second-year agenda across a spectrum of issues, including tighter rules on Wall Street behavior and a push for financial discipline in Washington.

He also is expected to touch on the controversial issue of gays in the military.

Among the president's economic ideas:

• Nearly doubling the tax credit that families making under $85,000 can receive for child-care costs, with some help for families earning up to $115,000, too.

• Capping the size of periodic federal college-loan repayments at 10 percent of borrowers' discretionary income to make payments more affordable.

• Increasing by $1.6 billion the money pumped into a federal fund to help working parents pay for child care, covering an estimated 235,000 additional children.

• Requiring employers who don't offer 401(k) retirement plans to offer direct-deposit IRAs for their employees, with exemptions for the smallest firms.

• Spending more than $100 million to help people care for their elderly parents and get support for themselves as well.

The White House maintained that its imperative still is to create jobs. Unemployment remains in double digits, and the economy is the public's top concern. Yet Obama said that squeezed families need help in other ways, too: paying for child care, helping out aging parents, saving for retirement, paying off college debt.

What matters ultimately to people, Obama said, is "whether they see some progress in their own lives. So we're going to keep fighting to rebuild our economy so that hard work is once again rewarded, wages and incomes are once again rising, the middle class is once again growing."

Less clear was how much the programs would cost or where the money would come from.

Officials deferred comment until the release of the budget.

Obama, whose poll numbers are off, is trying to sharpen his economic message in a way that shows people he is on their side.

White House officials say they know people have been turned off by the long, messy fight for health-insurance reform. Plus, there's a perception that families have gotten far less help than big banks.

The economy is growing but not fast enough to bring down widespread joblessness. The unemployment rate is at 10 percent, and most economists say it could take until at least 2015 for it to return to more normal levels.

The plans Obama set forth came from the yearlong work of a task force, led by Vice President Joe Biden, that was charged with helping the middle class.

"We're talking about dignity. We're talking about security," Biden said. "We're talking about knowing your pension is safe, your health insurance is reliable, your elderly parents and your children are going to be cared for, your neighborhood is safe."

On the matter of gays in the military, Obama has promised to lift the ban on gays serving openly, and several lawmakers support a repeal of the law. But some senior military advisers and members of Congress have urged the president not to shake up the status quo at a time of two wars.

"Change has not come fast enough," - No President Obama, change has not come AT ALL! You are just a Democratic clone of George W. Bush. Nothing has changed at all. We are still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. You did not keep your promise to close Gitmo. We still have the "don't ask don't tell policy in the military". And you are taxing the krap out of us more then George W. Bush. You lied about vetoing all bills that contained pork. You lied about balancing the budget. Mr Obama you are a hypocrite! You are an Uncle Tom. You lied about bring us change!

I listed to some of your speech and you just sounded like a sugar daddy making promises to give money to every segment of society so that you can be reelected in 2012. We will give more money to xxx so they can do yyyy and more money to .... blah, blah, blah!


Obama declares 'I don't quit' in his State of Union address

Jan. 28, 2010 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Declaring "I don't quit," President Barack Obama fought to recharge his embattled presidency with a State of the Union vow to get jobless millions back to work and stand on the side of Americans angry at Wall Street greed [isn't Obama the guy who gave them almost a trillion dollars in corporate welfare?] and Washington bickering. Defiant despite stinging setbacks, he said he would fight on for ambitious overhauls of health care, energy and education.

"Change has not come fast enough," Obama acknowledged Wednesday night before a politician-packed House chamber and a TV audience of millions. "As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may be, it's time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth." [didn't he say that a year ago when he was running for President?]

Obama looked to change the conversation from how his presidency is stalling — over the messy health care debate, a limping economy and the missteps that led to Christmas Day's barely averted terrorist disaster — to how he is seizing the reins. He spoke to a nation gloomy over double-digit unemployment and federal deficits soaring to a record $1.4 trillion [duh Obama is the cause of the $1.4 trillion debt!], and to fellow Democrats dispirited about the fallen standing of a president they hoped would carry them through this fall's midterm elections. [How on earth is Obama who is a carbon copy clone of George W. Bush get them thru the elections - people are against Obama and the Obama Democrats because they are the same as the Bush gang]

With State of the Union messages traditionally delivered at the end of January, Obama had one of the presidency's biggest platforms just a week after Republicans scored an upset takeover of a Senate seat in Massachusetts, prompting hand-wringing over his leadership. With the turnover erasing Democrats' Senate supermajority needed to pass most legislation, it also put a cloud over health care and the rest of Obama's agenda.

Obama implored lawmakers to press forward with his prized health care overhaul, in severe danger in Congress. "Do not walk away from reform," he said. "Not now. Not when we are so close." [well really it is a corporate welfare program for the rich doctors and companies that provide medical services]

Republicans applauded the president when he entered the chamber and craned to welcomed Michelle Obama. But bipartisanship disappeared early, with Republicans sitting stone-faced through several rounds of emphatic Democratic cheering and as Obama took a sharp jab at GOP congressional strategy. "Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership," he said. [translation - I am a big time tax and spender - ain't any tax and spend bill I could vote no on]

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, appointed by President George W. Bush, made a dismissive face, shook his head in disagreement and seemed to mouth the words "not true" as Obama said the court in a recent decision had "reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections."

The president devoted about two-thirds of his speech to the economic worries foremost on Americans' minds as recession persists. "The devastation remains," he said.

Obama emphasized his ideas, some new but mostly old and explained anew, for restoring job growth, taming budget deficits and changing a Washington so polarized that "every day is Election Day." Such roots of intense voter emotions once drove supporters to Obama but now are turning on him as he governs. [IE ain't a dimes difference between Obama and George W. Bush]

Declaring that "I know the anxieties" of Americans' struggling to pay the bills while big banks get bailouts and bonuses, Obama prodded Congress to enact a second stimulus package "without delay," urging that it contain help for small businesses and funding for infrastructure projects. Also, fine tuning a plan first announced in October, Obama said he will initiate a $30 billion program to provide money to community banks at low rates, if they boost lending to small businesses. The money would come from balances left in the $700 billion Wall Street rescue fund — a program "about as popular as a root canal" that Obama made of point of saying "I hated." [Well why didn't you vote for a trillion dollar corporate welfare program for small businesses the first time - probably because it would have pissed the American people off too badly!]

Acknowledging frustration at the government's habit of spending more than it has, he said he would veto any bills that do not adhere to his demand for a three-year freeze on some domestic spending. [So we are going to cut spending the same time we increase spending - isn't that an oxymoron?] He announced a new, though nonbinding bipartisan deficit-reduction task force (while supporting the debt-financed jobs bill). He said he would cut $20 billion in inefficient programs in next year's budget and pore over it "line by line" to find more.

Positioning himself as a fighter for the regular guy, he urged Congress to require lobbyists to disclose all contacts with lawmakers or members of his administration and to blunt the impact of last week's Supreme Court decision allowing corporations greater flexibility in supporting or opposing candidates. "We face a deficit of trust," the president said. [the problem is the thieves in Congress, not the lobbyists! If Congress could just say NO we would not have any of this pork]

Even before Obama spoke, some of the new proposals, many revealed by the White House in advance, were dismissed — on the right or the left — as poorly targeted or too modest to make a difference. [But they are promises to get Obama re-elected and that is all that counts] And one of Obama's economic point men, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, was verbally pummeled by Democrats and Republicans alike over his role in the $180 billion bailout of insurance giant AIG Inc., a venting of the public's anger about Wall Street.

In the Republican response to Obama's speech, Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia showed no sign of his party capitulating to the president.

In fact, the choice of McDonnell to represent Republicans was a symbolic showcase of recent GOP election victories by him and others. McDonnell reflected the anti-big government sentiment that helped lead to their wins, saying, "today, the federal government is simply trying to do too much." [But Obama is going to stop big government by making government bigger - again an oxymoron]

In his speech, Obama hoped to rekindle the energy of his historic election. [Historic? Nope, just another guy who pumped us full of lies to get elected] But he surely taxed viewers' patience with an address that ran to an hour and nine minutes with applause — longer than any State of the Union since the Clinton era despite aides labors to whittle it down.

Obama took blame for not adequately explaining his plans to the public and connecting with their everyday worries. [That sounds like he is saying he is sorry for not promising to solve ALL our problems - time to run when a man from the government shows up and says he can solve ALL your problems if you give him unlimited access to your wallet]

"I campaigned on the promise of change, change we can believe in,' the slogan went," he said. "And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren't sure if they still believe we can change, or at least that I can deliver it." [Obama could have delivered change but he chose not to. Obama is just a clone of George W. Bush]

At the same time, he offered an unapologetic defense of pursuing the same agenda on which he won. He said that includes the health care overhaul, as well as an aggressive approach to global warming (though without a plug for the controversial cap-and-trade system for emissions that he favors), sweeping changes to address the nation's millions of illegal immigrants, "serious" reform of how Wall Street is regulated and children are educated.

Obama called on lawmakers to resist the temptation to substitute a smaller-bore health care solution for his far-reaching ideas, but he didn't say how. He simply said, "As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we've proposed."

Hoping to salve growing disappointment in a key constituency, Obama said he would work with Congress "this year" to repeal the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, without a commitment to suspend the practice in the interim. [What a lie! Obama as the President is the Commander and Chief of the military and can issue an order to stop the military policy that treats gays as 2nd class citizens - but he didn't]

In a remarkable shift from past addresses, and notable for a president whose candidacy first caught fire over Iraq war opposition, foreign policy took a relative back seat. Obama made no mention of three of the toughest challenges he faced in his first year: failing to close the terrorist prison compound at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, failing to get Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace negotiations, and struggling with the al-Qaida havens in Pakistan that are at the core of the terrorist threat to America.

He proclaimed some success, saying that "far more" al-Qaida terrorists were killed under his watch last year in the U.S.-led global fight than in 2008. [Yea and because of the American Empires terrorist acts Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan we have created far more freedom fighters (terrorists as called by Obama) who are justified in hating the American government and people]

The president is keeping to the tradition of taking his themes on the road. He will travel to Florida on Thursday to announce $8 billion in grants for high-speed rail development, to Maryland on Friday to a House Republican retreat, and to New Hampshire Tuesday to talks jobs. Cabinet officials were fanning out too.

Hmmm ... Yesterday I posted an article on how Obama was going to cut out the Federal pork. I guess he was lying on that. On the other hand maybe the Obama math says he is going to reduce the National Debt by cutting a million here and there [and ignoring the spending of a billion here and there].


White House doles out $8 billion for trains

31 states to create high-speed rail lines

Jan. 29, 2010 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - High-speed rail projects in California, Florida and Illinois are among the big winners of $8 billion in grants announced Thursday by the White House - the start of what some Democrats tout as a national rail-building program that could rival the interstate highways begun in the Eisenhower era.

President Barack Obama announced the awards during a town-hall meeting in Tampa, Fla., a follow-up to Wednesday's State of the Union address that focused on getting Americans back to work. Thirteen passenger-rail corridors in 31 states will receive grants.

Obama said focusing on building 21st century infrastructure projects is an important element of the economic recovery.

"It creates jobs immediately and it lays the foundation for a vibrant economy in the future," Obama said.

Though the administration bills the program as "high-speed rail," most U.S. projects won't reach the speeds seen in Europe and Asia. California's trains would be by far the fastest, exceeding the 200 mph achieved by some trains overseas.

In the U.S., only the projects in California and Florida are planned to reach maximum speeds of 150 mph or more, what most transportation experts consider high-speed rail.

Projects awarded the largest grants include:

• California: $2.3 billion to begin work on an 800-mile-long, high-speed rail line tying Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area to Los Angeles and San Diego.

• Florida: $1.25 billion to build a rail line connecting Tampa on the west coast with Orlando in the middle of the state, eventually going south to Miami.

• Illinois-Missouri: $1.1 billion to improve a rail line between Chicago and St. Louis so that trains travel up to 110 mph.

Wow! Obama really is a tax and spend tyrant. The National Debt has gone up from about $10 trillion when he took office to $14.3 trillion.

Of course the Republicans helped Obama with the $4.3 trillion increase. McCain and Obama both supported the $1 trillion corporate welfare handout to the rich Wall Street brokers and bankers. And the hand out to the Detroit automakers.

And of course Obama is continuing the expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that Bush started!


Senate OKs lifting U.S. debt limit by $1.9 trillion

Legal ceiling for borrowing by feds would be $14.3 tril

by Lori Montgomery - Jan. 29, 2010 12:00 AM

Washington Post

WASHINGTON - The Senate agreed Thursday to raise the legal limit on government borrowing to a record $14.3 trillion, a total that would permit the Treasury Department to cover the nation's bills through the end of this year.

The vote fell strictly along party lines, with all 60 Democrats supporting and 39 Republicans opposing a plan to increase the cap by $1.9 trillion. If lawmakers had approved a smaller increase, Democrats would have had to revisit the deeply unpopular topic of the soaring national debt before facing voters in November.

Even as they expanded the Treasury's ability to keep borrowing, Democrats moved to rein in the historically large budget deficits that are projected to expand the debt further through the end of this decade. As part of the debt-limit bill, the Senate voted in another party-line vote to revive the pay-as-you-go budget rules that bar lawmakers from increasing future deficits through tax cuts or new entitlement spending.

The rules are designed to curb the spiraling deficit by requiring spending increases or tax cuts to be "paid for" with cuts to other programs or tax increases. If the rules are broken, the White House budget office would force automatic cuts to programs like Medicare, farm subsidies and veterans pensions.

A similar rule helped the nation balance its budget in the 1990s, but the new version would carve out $1.6 trillion in exceptions, so Democrats could extend tax cuts for the middle class and avert a scheduled pay cut for doctors who treat Medicare patients without finding ways to offset those costs.

With public concern rising over the budget mess deepened by last year's recession, President Barack Obama has also proposed a three-year freeze on much of the government's discretionary spending, a move that would generate modest savings but send a powerful political signal. And Obama has pledged to create a bipartisan commission to come up with a more far-reaching plan for cutting future deficits. On Thursday, the White House delivered written assurances to a group of conservative Senate Democrats that the commission's recommendations would get an up-or-down vote in both chambers of Congress by the end of this year.

Without those assurances, more than a dozen Democrats had threatened to vote against raising the debt cap by such a substantial sum.

The budget commission is likely to form the centerpiece of Obama's deficit-reduction efforts. Under an agreement with congressional leaders, the panel would have 18 members - six Democratic lawmakers, six Republican lawmakers and six presidential appointees - and could issue recommendations only if 14 of them agreed.

The panel's goal would be to cut the annual deficit to 3 percent of the economy by 2015, a target that would require more than $500 billion in tax hikes or spending cuts in that year alone.

The panel would be required to issue its recommendations after the November election, with a vote in Congress before the end of the year. Under an agreement ratified by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., those recommendations would be taken up immediately in the Senate, with few prospects for amendment.

If the Senate approved the plan, which undoubtedly would include painful tax increases and spending cuts, the House would then vote on whatever the Senate had passed and send it to the president.

The commission's work could be severely undercut by Republicans, however, who have so far shown little interest in participating in an effort that would permit Democrats to show action on the deficit without actually doing anything about it until after the election.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, "It's too early to say" how Republicans will respond to Obama's call to serve on the task force, adding: "This proposal is just political cover for Washington Democrats who are realizing that their out-of-control spending is scaring the hell out of the American people."

The Associated Press contributed to this article

I thought they were war criminals? Oh that's right, Bush and now Obama want to have it both ways. They are civilian crimes and war crimes. Which means either way the American Empire can jail them for life!


Administration urged to change terror trial site

Posted 1/29/2010 7:57 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) — A leading House Republican turned up the heat on the Obama administration Friday to cancel plans to put self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on trial later this year in New York City.

Embracing a position that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken, Rep. Mike Pence said Friday it is "a terrible idea to return the mastermind of 9/11 to the scene of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history." The Indiana Republican commented on ABC's "Good Morning America" a day after Bloomberg appealed to Attorney General Eric Holder to reconsider the prosecutorial strategy.

Pence said he believes some congressional Democrats will join Republicans in seeking legislation to block funding for security-related costs if the administration doesn't back down.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said Thursday he has introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of Justice Department funds to try Guantanamo detainees in federal civilian courts. Hours later, New York Gov. David Paterson said he wants discussion with federal officials on the issue of venue.

Last month, the Obama administration announced that professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others would be tried in federal court in lower Manhattan.

Bloomberg said he called Holder to lobby for moving the trial outside lower Manhattan. They spoke Thursday afternoon; both sides declined to comment afterward.

Bloomberg initially supported the Manhattan trial decision, declaring: "It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site, where so many New Yorkers were murdered."

But the mayor this week reversed from what he said in November, when the administration announced its plans.

"Unless the administration comes to its senses and abandons this absurd idea," Pence said Friday, "the Republicans, and I suspect some Democrats, will abandon funding."

In addition, six senators on Tuesday wrote to Holder and urged him to abandon the idea.

The letter read, in part, "You will be providing them one of the most visible platforms in the world to exalt their past acts and to rally others in support of further terrorism."

It was signed by Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut; John McCain, Republican of Arizona; Blanche L. Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas; Susan M. Collins, Republican of Maine; Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia; and Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.

Paterson said that although he's certain New York City will be safe, he thinks there should be a discussion with federal officials over whether to move the trial.

How do you spell hypocrite?

In Obamas first year he increased the National Debt from $10 trillion to about $12 trillion and just last week the Senate voted to allow the National Debt to increase by another $1.5 trillion.

Now Obama is pretending he wants to cut the deficit! What a liar!


Obama: Cutting deficit as important as job growth

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press Writer Darlene Superville, Associated Press Writer – Sat Jan 30, 9:36 am ET

WASHINGTON – Trimming budget deficits is as important as creating jobs to sustain the economic recovery, President Barack Obama said Saturday.

The government reported Friday the economy grew at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the final three months of 2009. It was the second consecutive quarter of growth and the fastest rate in more than six years.

"A sign of progress," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. "But as we work to create jobs, it is critical that we rein in the budget deficits we've been accumulating for far too long."

Hammered by Republicans for billions of dollars in spending that added to the deficit, Obama outlined steps he said would rein in spending. They include rules requiring that spending or tax cuts be offset by cuts to other programs or tax increases, a freeze on most discretionary spending and a presidentially appointed commission to recommend ways to reduce the deficit.

Obama said "pay-as-you-go" rules that were in place in the 1990s led to surpluses at the end of the decade. But after Congress eliminated the rules, Obama said the result was the $1.3 trillion deficit he faced upon taking office in January 2009.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has predicted a deficit of about the same size for the 2010 budget year.

"Reinstating this law will help get us back on track, ensuring that every time we spend, we find somewhere else to cut," Obama said.

The Senate voted Thursday to reinstate the rules. The House must still act on the measure.

Obama also has proposed a three-year freeze on most domestic spending, beginning in the budget year that starts Oct. 1. Spending related to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and national security would be exempt.

The president also promised to create a "fiscal commission" to develop ideas for reducing the deficit.

But his plan would be weaker than a now-defeated Senate proposal that would have created such a commission and required Congress to vote on its recommendations. There is no way to force Congress to vote on recommendations from a presidential panel.

The Senate defeated the measure when anti-tax Republicans and Democrats leery of being railroaded into cutting Social Security and Medicare voted against it.

Wow almost $4 trillion. That is almost a third of the current $12 trillion National Debt. And almost half of the $10 trillion or so that existed when Bush left office.


Obama's $3.8 trillion budget heading to Congress

Posted 1/31/2010 10:08 PM ET

By Andrew Taylor And Martin Crutsinger, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's proposed budget predicts the national deficit will crest at a record-breaking almost $1.6 trillion in the current fiscal year, then start to recede in 2011 to just below $1.3 trillion.

Still, the administration's new budget to be released Monday says deficits over the next decade will average 4.5 percent of the size of the economy, a level that economists say is dangerously high if not addressed.

A congressional official provided the information, which comes from a White House summary document circulating freely on Capitol Hill and among Washington's lobbyists. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the spending proposal is not supposed to be made public until tomorrow.

Details of the administration's budget headed for Congress include an additional $100 billion to attack painfully high unemployment. The proposed $3.8 trillion budget would provide billions more to pull the country out of the Great Recession while increasing taxes on the wealthy and imposing a spending freeze on many government programs.

Administration projections show the deficit never dropping below $700 billion, even under assumptions that war costs will drop precipitously to just $50 billion in some years instead of more than three times that this year and next.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the administration believed "somewhere in the $100 billion range" would be the appropriate amount for a new jobs measure made up of a business tax credit to encourage hiring, increased infrastructure spending and money from the government's bailout fund to get banks to increase loans to struggling small businesses.

That price tag would be below a $174 billion bill passed by the House in December but far higher than a measure that could come to the Senate floor this week.

Gibbs said it was important for Democrats and Republicans to put aside their differences to pass a bill that addresses jobs, the country's No. 1 concern. "I think that would be a powerful signal to send to the American people," Gibbs said in an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union."

Job creation was a key theme of the budget President Barack Obama was sending Congress on Monday, a document designed, as was the president's State of the Union address, to reframe his young presidency after a protracted battle over health care damaged his standing in public opinion polls and contributed to a series of Democratic election defeats.

Obama's $3.8 trillion spending plan for the 2011 budget year that begins Oct. 1 attempts to navigate between the opposing goals of pulling the country out of a deep recession and dealing with a budget deficit that soared to an all-time high of $1.42 trillion last year.

The startling budget numbers -- deficits would total $8.5 trillion over the decade -- are raising worries among voters and the foreign investors who buy much of the country's debt.

On the anti-recession front, congressional sources said Obama's new budget will propose extending the popular Making Work Pay middle-class tax breaks of $400 per individual and $800 per couple through 2011. They were due to expire after this year.

The budget will also propose $250 payments to Social Security recipients to bolster their finances in a year when they are not receiving the normal cost-of-living boost to their benefit checks because of low inflation. Obama will also seek a $25 billion increase in payments to help recession-battered states.

Obama's new budget will set off months of debate in the Democratically controlled Congress, especially in an election year in which Republicans are hoping to use attacks against government overspending to gain seats. Obama has argued that he inherited a deficit of more than $1 trillion and was forced to increase spending to stabilize the financial system and combat the worst recession since the 1930s.

Obama's new budget was expected to repeat many of the themes of his first budget. But in a bow to worries over the soaring deficits, the administration is proposing a three-year freeze on spending for a wide swath of domestic government agencies. Military, veterans, homeland security and big benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare would not feel the pinch.

The freeze would affect $447 billion in spending and is designed to save $250 billion over a decade. However, it would not fall equally on all domestic agencies. Some would see budget cuts to free up spending for programs the administration wants to expand such as education and civilian research efforts.

NASA's mission to return astronauts to the moon would be grounded with the space agency instead getting an additional $5.9 billion over five years to encourage private companies to build, launch and operate their own spacecraft for the benefit of NASA and others. NASA would pay the private companies to carry U.S. astronauts.

Obama's budget repeats his recommendations for an overhaul of the nation's health care system, the fight that dominated his first year in office. It proposes to get billions of dollars in savings from the Medicare program and again seeks increased taxes on the wealthy by limiting the benefits they receive from various tax deductions. Both ideas have met strong resistance in Congress.

Gibbs insisted Sunday that the president's push for health care was "still inside the 5-yard line," but Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, also appearing on CNN, said the public was overwhelmingly against the bill and the administration should "put it on the shelf, go back and start over."

In addition to the freeze on discretionary nonsecurity spending, Obama is proposing to boost revenues by allowing the Bush administration tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 to expire at the end of this year for families making more than $250,000 annually. Tax relief for those less well-off would be extended.

The new Obama budget will also include a proposal to levy a fee on the country's biggest banks to raise an estimated $90 billion to recover losses from the government's $700 billion financial rescue fund. Those losses are expected to come not come from the bank bailouts but from the support extended to General Motors and Chrysler and insurance giant American International Group as well as help provided to homeowners struggling to avoid foreclosures.

Also on the deficit front, the president has endorsed a pay-as-you-go proposal that passed the Senate last week. It would require any new tax cuts or entitlement spending increases to be paid for, and he has promised to create a commission to recommend by year's end ways to trim the deficits. However, a legislatively mandated panel was rejected in a Senate vote last week. Republicans opposed establishing the panel because it might recommend tax increases to close the deficit.


AP Science Writers Seth Borenstein and Alicia Chang contributed to this report.

Why doesn't Obama just order the military's sexist ban on gays to be eliminated? Well Obama is more concerned about being re-elected then doing the right thing!

I bet Obama ordered his generals to study the issue and have the study come up with the pre-determined answer that gays should have equal rights and be allowed to serve in the military.

Allowing gays to serve in the military is the right thing to do. But Obamas plan of having a rigged study to force the issue is the wrong way to do it. Obama should just proclaim that the military s policy of discriminating gays is wrong and order it to be eliminated.


Joint Chiefs chair says gays and lesbians should serve openly in the military

By Julian E. Barnes

February 3, 2010

Reporting from Washington - The nation's top military officer said Tuesday that he supported allowing gays to openly serve -- adding a powerful voice to the deeply controversial issue as the Pentagon announced steps to prepare for possibly ending its 17-year-old policy on homosexuality.

Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the military would follow the 1993 law known as "don't ask, don't tell." Nonetheless, he said, his personal views were firm.

"Speaking for myself and myself only, it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do," Mullen said.

His views are particularly important in the debate. It was one of his predecessors, Gen. Colin L. Powell, who played a major role in derailing then-President Clinton's bid to allow gays to serve openly in the military. In 1993, Powell called the policy a "healthy compromise." But in December 2008, he said the ban should be reviewed.

Mullen on Tuesday announced a yearlong Defense Department review that he said would examine the effects of repealing "don't ask, don't tell," as well as gauge changes that would have to be made in military benefits, rules and facilities.

More immediately, Pentagon officials said that within 45 days they would decide how to change the way the military enforced the law -- which prohibits gays from serving openly and can result in involuntary discharge. More than 14,000 service members have been booted out after being accused of being gay or having said that they were.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, said that they would consider temporarily suspending the requirement that the Pentagon enforce the law. But President Obama wants "don't ask, don't tell" rescinded this year. And although some in Congress favor an immediate repeal, others may want to wait for the results of the Pentagon review.

Advocates for gay service members said that they were disappointed with the Pentagon's timeline.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during the hearing that in addition to the yearlong review, a change in the law should be implemented over the course of another year. Gates and other officials believe that it is crucial to move slowly so that the changes are understood and accepted by service members.

Gates said that he understood that gays and their supporters might be frustrated with the length of the review, but he said that the Pentagon needed time to minimize disruption and to talk to service members about the change.

"The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it. We have received our orders from the commander in chief and we are moving out accordingly," Gates said. "However, we also can only take this process so far, as the ultimate decision rests with you, the Congress."

By relaxing the law's enforcement, Gates said, military officials could prevent the policy from being used vindictively. Gates said that the department could require that more senior officers initiate and conduct investigations of sexual orientation. He also said the military could "raise the bar" on what counts as reliable evidence in such inquiries.

"Overall, we can reduce the instances where a service member who is trying to serve the country honorably is outed by a third person with a motive to harm the service member," Gates said.

Democrats at the hearing were supportive of Gates and Mullen.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, supports ending the ban. After the hearing, he said that he had not decided how to approach the issue legislatively. One possibility is including a moratorium on discharges of gay service members in this year's defense authorization bill, he said.

Republicans, however, voiced support for the "don't ask, don't tell" law. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the senior Republican on the committee, said that while imperfect, the policy had worked and should not be changed.

In 2006, McCain said in an interview that he would seriously consider dropping the ban if the military leadership advocated a change. But Tuesday, he appeared in no mood to reverse his opposition. Instead, he accused Gates and Mullen of trying to force through a change in the law.

"I'm happy to say that we still have a Congress of the United States that would have to pass a law to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell,' despite your efforts to repeal it in many respects by fiat," McCain said.

Mullen's support for repeal comes as Obama heads into a difficult year with a fractured political coalition.

The president's aides are looking for ways to bolster his standing among liberal voters, who have been disappointed with the administration over the failure to pass a healthcare overhaul or close the Guantanamo Bay prison. Political advisors hope that moving forward on repealing the ban -- even at a glacial pace -- will rally progressives before November's midterm elections.

Mullen, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush and then reappointed by Obama, is the first Joint Chiefs chairman to endorse repeal of the ban. But attitudes within the military have been shifting, particularly among younger service members but also with more senior officers.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said that Tuesday's testimony marked an important moment. "This reflects a change in society and, frankly, a change in the world," Carey said. "We're now at a moment when people are ready to support those men and women who are, at great risk to themselves and their families, willing to serve."

Mullen said that the Joint Chiefs understood Obama's desire to overturn the ban and were developing advice on how such a policy change could be implemented. Mullen said that he had made up his own mind that the law needed to change.

"No matter how I look at the issue," he said, "I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens."

He is saying that as the Feds run the printing presses to pay their bills that will cause inflation. And the inflation is a huge, but indirect tax on Americans.

Wow! Obama has only been in office a year and the National Debt has jumped from $11.3 trillion to $14.3 trillion.


As statutory debt ceiling is lifted, expect consumer prices to increase

Feb. 6, 2010 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic's Jan. 7 front-page story "Gas prices could top $3 a gallon in spring" will probably prove correct. But it leaves unaddressed the fundamental cause of higher prices: the mess the monetary and fiscal authorities have made of the U.S. dollar and its prospects.

When freshman Sen. Barack Obama said that a George W. Bush debt- ceiling hike was a sign of "leadership failure," he was right. When Bush came into office, the debt ceiling was less than $6 trillion dollars; it was $11.3 trillion when he went out the door. Bush presided over seven increases in eight years. Now Congress has raised the debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion, the third increase in Obama's presidency.

Just the increase in the debt under the leadership of Bush and Obama in the past two years is almost three times the entire federal debt accumulated between the nation's founding in 1776 and 1980.

Because long-term increases in sensitive barometers like the global price of oil and gold are a reflection of the world's assessment of the prospects for the dollar, a referendum on the U.S. debt and America's fiscal irresponsibility, it should come as no surprise that under Bush and Obama, increases in the debt ceiling have been a harbinger of higher gold and oil prices.

Gold tells the story in detail. In November 2004, a Republican Congress under a Republican president raised the government's debt ceiling to $8.18 trillion. Gold was $434 that day. Sixteen months later, March 2006, Congress voted to raise the debt ceiling again, this time to $9 trillion. Gold had moved up as well, to $556.

After the Republican majority had made a fiscal mess of things for a few years and sent gold to $625, Americans thought it was time to try the Democrats again and gave them a majority in both houses in the next midterm elections, November 2006.

But it was business as usual. A year later, the Senate voted an additional $850 billion increase in the debt ceiling, increasing it to almost $10 trillion. Gold had begun the month at $672; that day, it traded at about $740.

It has kept climbing ever since except for a short period during last year's mortgage meltdown, when hedge funds and other institutions sold everything in sight to raise cash for a flood of redemptions. But even that was a short-lived reversal as gold prices soon resumed their march to the faster and faster drumming of national-debt hikes.

Meanwhile, oil, about $35 a barrel when Bush was inaugurated, has now moved back up to more than $80.

The rest of the world sees America's exploding debt and wonders why anyone would want to continue trusting the U.S. dollar. And, in fact, they are losing trust in the dollar.

As crude oil moves back toward the highs of 2008, even during a period of "weak" global energy demand, it should be noted that the Gulf Cooperation Council monetary-union agreement was recently ratified by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. It is a major step toward the establishment of a Gulf central bank and joint currency that could be pegged against something other than the dollar. Similar steps reflecting dollar skepticism are being taken elsewhere in the world. In November, the central bank of India chose to substantially dishoard its dollar reserves, buying 200 metric tons of gold instead.

It is something everybody can understand: Congress passes a bill, it is signed by the president, allowing them to spend more money and take the country deeper into debt.

It is as though a family could raise its Visa or MasterCard credit limit around the dinner table. Of course, if a family were allowed to simply print money to pay its bill, it probably could raise its own credit-card limit!

Sometime this year, the federal debt will approach $14 trillion, a sum equal to the entire U.S. gross domestic product. This exploding debt will change the willingness of foreigners to fund our spending. Federal Reserve money printing will make up the difference, as oil and gold prices are signaling. Don't be surprised when, as those prices are also signaling, consumer prices take off.

Charles Goyette is the author of "The Dollar Meltdown: Surviving the Impending Currency Crisis With Gold, Oil, and Other Unconventional Investments."

Maybe for us normal people the snow storm is making Washington impassible. But for Obama things sound like normal. During normal weather every time the President takes a trip his Secret Service goons chase everybody off the streets so the Emperor has them to himself.

Of course that ain't no different then now during this snow storm. The only difference is the Secret Service goons don't have anyone to chase off of the streets. Of course either way the President still has the streets to himself.


Obama calls capital's blizzard `Snowmageddon'

WASHINGTON – "Snowmageddon" — that's what President Barack Obama calls the storm that's shut down Washington.

His motorcade made it a few blocks through deserted streets so he could speak at the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting on Saturday.

In his opening remarks, Obama thanked activists for being willing to brave the blizzard. The streets around the hotel where the meeting was held were blocked by snow and police ahead of Obama's arrival.

California Rep. Mike Honda was delayed on the slow-running subway. Other officials who stumbled into the hotel were caked in snow and ice. Obama said he saw a sign that said "Californians for Obama" — and he joked that "you guys aren't used to this."

The party chairman, Tim Kaine, said "it's like an April day in Chicago" — that's Obama's hometown.

Obama lies to get re-elected in 2012. In his first year Obama has increased the National debt by $2 trillion from $10 trillion to $12 trillion and how he is shoveling us the BS he is going to cut spending. How do you spell OXYMORON?


Obama: New budget rules will rein in spending

by Darlene Superville - Feb. 14, 2010 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama said Saturday that new budget rules that say spending cuts must accompany spending increases will force Congress to "pay for what it spends, just like everybody else."

Obama signed a bill Friday reinstating budget rules known as "paygo" - short for "pay as you go." [It's really print as you go. Congress runs the printing presses printing money to pay for almost half of their bills]

In place during the 1990s, the rules helped create balanced budgets and surpluses. Obama blames eliminating them for creating much of the $1.3 trillion deficit he faced upon taking office in January 2009 and for a total debt of $8 trillion projected over the next decade. [Of course Obama is all talk and no action on cutting spending]

The president has been trying to show a public alarmed by higher government spending in the midst of an economic downturn that he is taking steps to tighten Washington's purse strings. [Of course! He wants to get re-elected in 2012!]

But the bill also lifted the cap on the amount of money the U.S. can borrow by $1.9 trillion - to a total of $14.3 trillion.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said the "politics of the moment" often overwhelms the desire Democrats and Republicans have to produce balanced budgets.

"Now, Congress will have to pay for what it spends, just like everybody else," he said. [Yea Sure! Like all governments the members of Congress have always spent other people money on their projects.]

Obama did not discuss raising the debt ceiling in his message. [Why would he want to mix truth with the big lie that he is reducing spending?]

The president also repeated a promise to create, by executive order, a panel of Democrats and Republicans to suggest ways for closing the gap between what the government spends and what it collects in revenue. [Yea sure! Since when can an executive order limit the constitutional spending power of Congress?] His proposal is weaker than a similar plan recently defeated by the Senate because Congress would not be required to vote on the presidential panel's recommendations.

The administration is projecting a $1.56 trillion deficit for the budget year ending Sept. 30. [While at the same time pretending to want to cut spending as this article claims]

Republicans mocked Obama for signing the "paygo" bill behind closed doors. [Sadly when it comes to spending our money like drunk sailors Republicans are not any better then Democrats!]

"With a simple stroke of his pen, President Obama now has the ability to continue his binge spending agenda to the tune of an additional $1.9 trillion, the largest one-time increase in our history," Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele said Friday. "Taxpayers will continue to foot the bill for the Democrats' fiscal irresponsibility."

Obama is just a Black clone of George W. Bush! Heil Hitler! Almost NONE of the cases where the Patriot Acts draconian measures have been used were against terrorists. The Patriot Act is mostly used against domestic criminals, not foreign terrorists! The Patriot Act is nothing more then an illegal and unconstitutional law to flush the Bill of Rights down the toilet!


Obama signs 1-year extension of Patriot Act

Feb. 27, 2010 04:13 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has signed a one-year extension of several provisions in the nation's main counterterrorism law, the Patriot Act.

Provisions in the measure would have expired on Sunday without Obama's signature Saturday.

The act, which was adopted in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, expands the government's ability to monitor Americans in the name of national security.

Three sections of the Patriot Act that stay in force will:

—Authorize court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones.

—Allow court-approved seizure of records and property in anti-terrorism operations.

—Permit surveillance against a so-called lone wolf, a non-U.S. citizen engaged in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.

Obama's signature comes after the House voted 315 to 97 Thursday to extend the measure.

The Senate also approved the measure, with privacy protections cast aside when Senate Democrats lacked the necessary 60-vote supermajority to pass them. Thrown away were restrictions and greater scrutiny on the government's authority to spy on Americans and seize their records.

Do as I say, not as I do! President Obama telling us how to live our lives! Government nannies always think they know how to run our lives better then we do.


Obama yet to kick smoking habit, should eat better

Posted 2/28/2010 5:02 PM ET

By Steven R. Hurst, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama hasn't kicked the smoking habit, takes anti-inflammatory medication to relieve chronic tendinitis in his left knee and should eat better to lower his cholesterol, his team of doctors concluded Sunday after the 48-year-old's first medical checkup as commander in chief.

The hoops-happy chief executive, who has endured an exhausting White House run and yearlong battles with congressional Republicans, was otherwise declared in excellent health and fit for duty.

The White House physician, Navy Capt. Jeffrey Kuhlman, said Obama should stick with "smoking cessation efforts," the use of nicotine gum, and come back in August 2011 after he turns 50.

Obama cholesterol levels have crept up to borderline high and he should alter his diet accordingly, according to a report the White House released after the 90-minute examination at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. While at the facility, he visited 12 military service members receiving treatment and rehabilitation for injuries suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The president is the picture of health, eats modest portions and exercises regularly. He is an avid basketball player and golfer. The slightly elevated cholesterol levels, tendinitis in his left knee and occasional smoking were the only negatives noted.

Obama said at a June news conference that he still had an occasional cigarette. It was his first public acknowledgment that he hadn't kicked the habit. He chews nicotine gum to avoid regular smoking, and his doctor said that should continue.

Kuhlman also said the president should modify his diet to bring his LDL, or bad cholesterol, below 130. At the time of his last exam, Obama's total cholesterol was 173, while his LDL was 96 and HDL, or good cholesterol, was 68.

This time, total cholesterol was up to 209, with HDL down slightly at 62. LDL was up to 138. Borderline high cholesterol starts at 200, with LDL considered in the same category at 130.

Kuhlman said Obama last checkup was in July 2008 when he was seen by the attending physician to Congress when Obama was an Illinois senator. During the 2008 White House race, his campaign released a statement from his longtime Chicago doctor saying Obama was in excellent health when examined January 2007.

Sunday's report said Obama is 6-foot-1 and weighs 180 pounds in shoes and exercise clothing. His pulse rate is 56, which is very good, as is his blood pressure -- 105 over 62. The doctor said Obama's vision was 20/20 in both eyes for both distance and near vision.

The president was checked for and found free of colon cancer with a virtual colonoscopy, a scan that avoids the more invasive visual inspection with a camera device that is passed into the large intestine.

The tendinitis that Obama suffers in his left leg could be the result of his regular basketball playing.

Kuhlman said that there was mild popping and grinding in Obama's left knee and "some weakness" in his left hip, also possibly a result of rigorous and extended periods on the basketball court.

The doctor said Obama should:

_Have another exam for colon cancer in five years

_Continue smoking cessation efforts, a daily exercise program, a healthy diet, moderation in alcohol intake, periodic dental care, and remain up to date with recommended immunizations.

_Keep up a modified exercise regimen to strengthen his legs to ward off more difficulties with his knee.

_Modify his diet to lower his LDL cholesterol below 130.

Is Obama guilty of gambling. And transporting liquor across state lines with out a permit. Hell no. The government rulers are above the law! Of course if us serfs made the same bet that would be a different story!


Big beer bet for Obama, Harper on hockey

WASHINGTON (AP)—President Barack Obama owes his Canadian counterpart a case of beer.

Obama made the friendly wager with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper before Sunday’s U.S.-Canada gold medal game. Canada beat the United States 3-2 on Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama had a case of Yuengling, a Pennsylvania regional brew, riding on the game. Harper wagered 24 bottles of Molson. The beer battle pitted Canada’s oldest brewery against the oldest beer maker in the United States. Molson Canada is now a subsidiary of Molson Coors Brewing Co., a marriage of Molson and Denver-based Coors.

There was no word on where the cross-border exchange would occur.

Obama has been trying to get re-elected in 2012 since he stepped into office in 2008


State of Union 'pep rally' irks Roberts

Chief justice questions why court members attend

Mar. 10, 2010 12:00 AM

Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Chief Justice John Roberts told law students Tuesday that he found it "very troubling" to be surrounded by loudly cheering critics at President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, saying it was reason enough for the justices not to attend the annual speech to Congress.

"To the extent the State of the Union has degenerated into a political pep rally, I'm not sure why we are there," Roberts said at the University of Alabama Law School.

Obama's January speech came a week after the court ruled 5-4 that corporations had a free-speech right to spend unlimited sums to elect or defeat candidates for office. The president, looking down at the six justices in attendance, sharply criticized the court for having "opened the floodgates for special interests" to sway elections.

Senate Democrats rose to their feet, applauding and cheering the president's comments.

When asked about this Tuesday, Roberts said the criticism itself did not bother him. "Anybody can criticize the Supreme Court. ... I have no problem with that," he said. He objected to criticism in such a public setting, where the justices had no choice but to sit silently.

"The image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering while the court - according to the requirements of protocol - has to sit there expressionless, I think is very troubling," he said.

"It does cause me to think, 'Why are we there?' " he added.

Fly near the Presidents home you could be shot down by fighter planes!


3 planes violate airspace over Obama's home, forced to land

June 1, 2010 3:17 AM

At least three single-engine planes violated a temporarily restricted flight area apparently set up over the area this past weekend for President Barack Obama's return to Chicago, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Maj. Mike Humphreys declined to say specifically that the restricted area was being enforced for the president's visit but said that, in general, the zones are put in place for various reasons including "POTUS movements."

"It's not so unusual that these incidents occur," he said. In most cases the incursions are accidents, "but we have to be ready every time."

In the most recent incident -- which was posted on NORAD's Facebook and Twitter pages -- a Cessna 152 flew about two miles into the restricted space about 8:55 p.m. Sunday before two F-15 fighter jets and an HH-65 Dolphin Coast Guard helicopter intercepted the plane and escorted it to the Lewis University Airport in Romeoville.

In another incident Saturday morning, Humphreys said, another Cessna 152 "barely encroached" into the restricted area and was met by a Dolphin helicopter and escorted to Schaumburg Airport.

On Friday night, two F-15s escorted an RV-8 plane that had flown into the restricted area to Aurora Municipal Airport.

Humphreys referred other questions about the incidents to the Federal Aviation Administration. A spokeswoman, Elizabeth Isham Cory, said the agency would be looking into the incidents and the investigations could take days or weeks. She would not speculate on what sort of penalties, if any, the pilots would be subject to.

It's not clear if the pilots of the planes were aware of the flight restrictions.

According to the FAA Web site, the restricted area over the Chicago area went into effect on Friday at 3 p.m. Central Time and ends at 5:30 p.m. today. The zone, centered in Chicago, extends in all directions to a radius of about 35 miles. The purpose for the restricted area is labeled "Temporary flight restrictions for VIP (Very Important Person) Movement."

A separate temporary flight restricted area was in effect above Elwood, where the president is attending Memorial Day services at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.

The Obamas arrived in Chicago on Thursday. With the exception of much of Friday, when he flew to Louisiana to view damage from the Gulf of Mexico oil leak, the president has spent much of his time in Chicago with his family. He is scheduled to leave the city tonight.

-- Andrew L. Wang

Obama is shoveling the BS to help himself get re-elected in 2012! Yea Sure BP will pay every cent of the oil spill damages! Of course about 10 years along Congress passed a law which limited the liability of BP and other oil companies to a measly $75 million in damages for oil spills like this one. Current articles on the spill say that the damages will be in excess of $4 billion, yep $4 billion with a big "B" and BP most likely won't pay a dime more then the $75 million the the law requires them to pay.


Obama says administration is mobilized for spill, promises BP will pay 'every single dime' owed

June 5, 2010 | 8:52 am

In his weekly address Saturday, President Obama worked to highlight his administration’s response to the massive oil spill, ticking off government efforts underway, including the deployment of National Guard troops and the mobilization of scientists and engineers.

The president, who Friday wrapped up his third trip to the gulf in the last six weeks, also reiterated his pledge to take a tough line with BP and push necessary legislative changes to prevent future catastrophes.

“If laws are inadequate, laws will be changed,” Obama said. “If oversight was lacking, it will be strengthened. And if laws were broken, those responsible will be brought to justice.” And Obama promised to hold BP accountable for the costs of the damage.

"We will make sure they pay every single dime owed to the people along the Gulf Coast," he said.

-- Noam Levey

Jesus with the amount of BS elected officials spew out of their mouths you would figure that lying would be a job qualification for running for a political office or working for the government.

Obama is promising us a huge number of things that he simply doesn't have the power to do as President. I guess that won't prevent a lot of stupid people from voting for him in 2012.

On the other hand a lot of stupid people voted Obama into office in 2008. Like most elections that one was the choice of the lesser of two evils. Like an election between Hitler and Stalin running for President the public had to choose between McCain and Obama, two lousy choices.

Gulf coast will be better after the BP disaster then before! Honest! Trust Obama!

Hey get this! According to Obama his government goons are going to do such a good job cleaning up the BP disaster that the coast will be in better shape after the disaster then before - "I am confident that we're going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before"

Believe that and I have some swamp land in Florida I would like to see you!


Gulf oil spill: Obama ready to seize claims process, White House says

Jun. 15, 2010 07:29 AM

Associated Press

PENSACOLA, Fla. - President Barack Obama is poised to seize the handling of oil spill damage claims from BP, his chief spokesman said Tuesday, as Obama sought to reassure people he's up to the enormous challenge of helping them recover from the environmental disaster. He will outline his specific plans and expectations in a prime-time Oval Office speech.

The aim of wresting the claims-handling from the British petroleum giant, press secretary Robert Gibbs said, would be to make economically distressed individuals and businesses "whole." The claims processing problem is among several difficult issues that Obama planned to address directly in the talk to the nation.

From the White House, Gibbs was interviewed on several network morning news shows as Obama prepared for a second day of briefings - this time in Florida - and got ready for a speech at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. He was to fly back to Washington for the 8 p.m. address from the Oval Office.

Voicing increasing confidence in his ability to confront the nation's worst environmental crisis, Obama was set to outline a comprehensive response and recovery program, while assuring not only the people from the afflicted region, but all across America, that his administration will guide the country to a recovery.

On the matter of the disputed damage payments, Gibbs said, "We have to get an independent claims process. I think everyone agrees that we have to get BP out of the claims processes and, as I said, make sure that fishermen, hotel owners have a fast, efficient and transparent claims process so that they're getting their livelihoods replaced."

"This disaster has taken their ability to make a living away from them," he said. "We need to do this quickly, and we have to make sure that whatever money goes into that - that in no way caps what BP is responsible for. Whatever money they owe to anybody in the Gulf, they're going to have to pay regardless of the amount."

He noted in one interview that Obama "has the legal authority" to make the claims process independent. And Gibbs said "the best way to prevail upon BP is to take the claims process away from BP."

"The president will either legally compel them," he said, "or come to an agreement with BP to get out of the claims process, give that to an independent entity."

Obama's address to the nation sets the stage for his showdown White House meeting Wednesday with top BP executives. BP leased the rig that exploded April 20 and led to the leak of millions of gallons of coast-devastating crude. It's part of an effort by Obama, who's been accused of appearing somewhat detached as the oil spill disaster has unfolded, to convince a frightened Gulf Coast and a skeptical nation that he is in command.

Obama was to deliver the speech upon his return from a two-day swing through Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, his fourth trip to the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion that set off the disaster, but his first outside the hardest-hit state of Louisiana.

The trip gave him ammunition for the speech and for his meeting with BP executives where he intends to finalize the details of a victims compensation fund. He visited vacant beaches in Mississippi where the threat of oil had scared off tourists, heard the stories of local employers losing business, watched hazmat-suited workers scrub down boom in a staging facility in Theodore, Ala., and took a ferry ride through Mobile Bay and then to Orange Beach, Ala., where oil has lapped on the shore.

He was beginning the day Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla., where he was to attend a briefing and then make remarks at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

"We're gathering up facts, stories right now so that we have an absolutely clear understanding about how we can best present to BP the need to make sure that individuals and businesses are dealt with in a fair manner and a prompt manner," the president said Monday.

"I am confident that we're going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before," he said.

That pledge was reminiscent of George W. Bush's promise to rebuild the region "even better and stronger" than before Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Bush could not make good on that promise, and Obama did not spell out how he would fulfill his. Tuesday's speech will give him the chance.

Presidents reserve the Oval Office for rare televised addresses. When they take their place behind the desk, it's a time for solemnity and straight talk - often a moment of history. There is a sense of gravity. One man by himself before one television camera speaking to the nation.

Oval Office addresses typically aren't lengthy discourses like a State of the Union, but if a president has to go for broke, this is where he does it. Bush addressed the nation from the Oval on the evening of Sept. 11, 2001. Ronald Reagan spoke there after the space shuttle Challenger explosion. John F. Kennedy grimly explained the Cuban missile crisis. Richard Nixon announced his resignation.

Obama hasn't used it yet. Not even during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Not to explain painfully high unemployment rates. Or bank and auto company bailouts. Not to speak of terrorism threats. Even when his health insurance plan was in peril, he did not speak from the Oval Office to rally support or explain to Americans why he considered it vital.

Gibbs appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today" show and CNN.

Obama is shoveling the BS to get reelected? Damn right! Hell the Gulf Coast will be BETTER after the BP disaster and you can thank my administration for that! Yea sure!!!!


Obama likely won't be able to keep promises on spill

by Tom Raum - Jun. 16, 2010 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's vow to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than before the oil spill sounds familiar. It eerily echoes President George W. Bush's pledge after Hurricane Katrina to rebuild New Orleans "higher and better."

Bush wasn't able to keep that 2005 promise. And Obama probably won't be able to keep his either.

If Americans were looking for details on how Obama would meet such goals and a plan for action, they didn't get much from the president's first speech to the nation from the Oval Office on Tuesday.

He used the address to try to assure people that he has a plan for a problem that didn't exist two months ago, to suggest that this crisis proves he was right about energy legislation and that, in spite of all of this, he hasn't forgotten that recovery from recession is still his job No. 1.

Part of Obama's predicament may be of his own making. He has consistently set high expectations for his performance, first in his presidential campaign and now in office.

His eagerness to take "responsibility" has run into a wall of reality with three crises that defy easy resolution: an ocean-floor oil gusher neither BP nor government scientists can stop, a nearly decadelong war in Afghanistan that Obama can't seem to end and a fragile economic recovery that isn't creating new jobs.

In each instance, Obama has responded by balancing expressions of hope with cautions that the road ahead is a long and difficult one.

But patience is running short.

A majority of Americans - 52 percent - disapprove of how Obama has handled the spill, up significantly from last month, when many more Americans were reserving judgment, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

The poll was conducted June 9-14 by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications. It involved interviews on landline and cell phones with 1,044 adults nationwide, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

Heading toward fall elections that will determine who controls Congress, the administration and lawmakers are attempting to deflect as much political blame for the spill as possible.

Obama's choice of the Oval Office for Tuesday night's prime-time address to the nation was a piece of presidential stagecraft designed to emphasize the seriousness of the situation, while projecting strength and engagement. It was an attempt to show him fully in charge and sympathetic to people along the Gulf Coast and to try to counter any remaining impressions of aloofness and detachment.

"Make no mistake: We will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever's necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy," Obama said.

Obama used a large portion of his speech to promote his energy legislation, which encourages a "transition away from fossil fuels" and a transition to clean energy.

Republicans immediately accused Obama of trying to use the crisis to build support for new taxes on carbon-based fuels that contribute to climate change.

Even some Democrats called the speech a missed opportunity to send a message of competency.


Obama makes bold reassurances on Gulf oil leak

by James Oliphant and Peter Nicholas - Jun. 16, 2010 12:00 AM

Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Calling the widening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico "the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced," President Barack Obama vowed Tuesday in a prime-time address that the oil will be contained and the Gulf's ecology restored and that oil company BP will fully compensate the spill's victims.

"We will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long it takes," Obama said. "We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused."

The president also urged the nation to "tackle our addiction to fossil fuels," prevailing upon Congress to pass a comprehensive bill that would embrace alternative sources of energy.

He said he will not tolerate inaction.

"The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is too big and too difficult to meet," Obama said. " . . . The same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon. And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom."

The speech, the first of Obama's presidency delivered from the Oval Office, came as the government increased its estimates of oil flowing from a pipe nearly a mile deep in the Gulf, saying that as much as 60,000 barrels a day could be leaking into the ocean, and as oil company BP continued its efforts to stem the spread of the spill.

The president vowed that the administration and BP will capture up to "90 percent" of the oil leaking in the Gulf before the end of the summer. But he also spoke of damage to the region that will linger for years.

He outlined a long-term plan to restore the "unique beauty and bounty" of the Gulf Coast wetlands and habitats, battered by decades of erosion, hurricanes and saline infiltration. He said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus will develop the plan, working with local officials, fishermen and conservationists.

In part, the president's address was a bid to reverse sinking public approval of his administration's efforts to respond to the disaster. Obama offered an unswerving defense of the White House's actions in the days and weeks after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20. "Because of our efforts, millions of gallons of oil have already been removed from the water," he said.

A poll released Tuesday by the Associated Press indicated that 52 percent of Americans do not approve of Obama's handling of the spill.

That's up sharply from a month ago, but far more were critical of BP: 83 percent disapproved of the company's performance in the wake of the rig explosion that has sent millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf. The AP-GfK Poll was conducted June 9-14 among 1,044 adults nationwide. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

But, even as the president Tuesday spoke of BP's "recklessness," he avoided a lengthy and pointed critique of the company's actions before and since the accident. Members of Congress, many worried about voter skepticism about the government's effectiveness, have been less reticent, saying BP ignored safety concerns in favor of cost-cutting measures.

The speech was not delivered with Obama's trademark evenhanded efficiency, likely to assuage critics who have charged that he has failed to display enough anger over the scope of the disaster.

Obama pledged to make Gulf Coast residents and businesses whole and said that a compensation fund will be set up that will be funded by BP and administered by an independent third party. All legitimate claims, he said, will be paid in a "fair and timely manner."

The president was to meet with BP executives today at the White House to discuss the fund, which could run into the billions.

Obama also called on Congress to pass a comprehensive energy bill without going so far as to endorse limits on carbon emissions. Disagreement over such limits has stalled such a bill in the Senate.

The president earlier Tuesday named a former Justice Department inspector general, Michael Bromwich, to revamp the Minerals Management Service, the agency that oversees oil drilling, and which, the president said, "became emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility."

Bromwich, Obama said in the Oval Office address, will become a "watchdog" of the oil industry.

Hours before the president's address, the Interior Department dramatically revised its flow estimates from a previous high of 40,000 barrels a day to as much as 60,000 barrels a day. The increased flow came after the pipe leaking into the Gulf was severed earlier this month as part of a plan to stanch the spill.

The agency also said that BP was launching a second containment effort that could capture up to 28,000 barrels of the flow per day, up from the 18,000 barrels the company is trapping now.

Before returning to Washington for the speech, Obama wrapped up his fourth visit to the Gulf since the explosion.

Obama slinging the BS to get elected in 2012!


FACT CHECK: Obama left blanks in oil spill speech


By CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press Writer Calvin Woodward, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – In assuring Americans that BP won't control the compensation fund for Gulf oil spill recovery, President Barack Obama failed to mention that the government won't control it, either.

That means it's anyone's guess whether the government can, in fact, make BP pay all costs related to the spill.

Obama aimed high in his prime-time Oval Office address Tuesday night — perhaps higher than the facts support and history teaches — as he vowed to restore livelihoods and nature from the still-unfolding calamity in the Gulf of Mexico.

A look at some of his statements and how they compare with those facts:

OBAMA: "We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused and we will do whatever's necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy. ... Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness. And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent, third party."

THE FACTS: An independent arbiter is no more bound to the government's wishes than an oil company's. In that sense, there is no certainty BP will be forced to make the Gulf economy whole again or that taxpayers are off the hook for the myriad costs associated with the spill or cleanup. The government can certainly press for that, using legislative and legal tools. But there are no guarantees and the past is not reassuring.

It took 20 years to sort through liability after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, and in the end, punitive damages were slashed by the courts to about $500 million from $2.5 billion. Many people who had lost their livelihoods in the spill died without ever seeing a check.


OBAMA: "In the coming days and weeks, these efforts should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well."

THE FACTS: BP and the administration contend that if all goes as planned, they should be able to contain nearly 90 percent of the worst-case oil flow. But that's a big "if." So far, little has gone as planned in the various remedies attempted to shut off or contain the flow. Possibly as much as 60,000 barrels a day is escaping. BP would need to nearly triple its recovery rate to reach the target.


OBAMA: Temporary measures will capture leaking oil "until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that is expected to stop the leak completely."

THE FACTS: That's the hope, but experts say the relief well runs the same risks that caused the original well to blow out. It potentially could create a worse spill if engineers were to accidentally damage the existing well or tear a hole in the undersea oil reservoir.


OBAMA: "From the very beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge of the largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation's history."

THE FACTS: Early on, the government established a command center and put Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen in charge of coordinating the overall spill response. But officials also repeatedly have emphasized that BP was "responsible" and they have relied heavily on BP in making decisions from hiring cleanup workers to what oil dispersing chemicals to use. Local officials in the Gulf region have complained that often they don't know who's in charge — the government or BP.


OBAMA: "We have approved the construction of new barrier islands in Louisiana to try and stop the oil before it reaches the shore."

THE FACTS: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and local officials pleaded for weeks with the Army Corps of Engineers and the spill response command for permission to build about 40 miles of sand berms along the barrier islands.

State officials applied for an emergency permit to build the berms May 11, but as days went by Jindal became increasingly angry at federal inaction. The White House finally agreed to a portion of the berm plan on June 2. BP then agreed to pay for the project.

The corps was worried that in some cases such a move would alter tides and drive oil into new areas and produce more harm than good.


OBAMA: "Already, I have issued a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. I know this creates difficulty for the people who work on these rigs, but for the sake of their safety and for the sake of the entire region, we need to know the facts before we allow deepwater drilling to continue."

THE FACTS: Obama issued a six-month moratorium on new permits for deepwater drilling but production continues from existing deepwater wells.


Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, H. Josef Hebert and Jim Drinkard in Washington, Brian Schwaner in New Orleans and Carol Druga in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Obama slings the BS to get elected in 2012

It's not lying, it's what was supposed to happen!

Jesus with the amount of BS elected officials spew out of their mouths you would figure that lying would be a job qualification for running for a political office or working for the government.

Obama is promising us a huge number of things that he simply doesn't have the power to do as President. I guess that won't prevent a lot of stupid people from voting for him in 2012.

On the other hand a lot of stupid people voted Obama into office in 2008. Like most elections that one was the choice of the lesser of two evils. Like an election between Hitler and Stalin running for President the public had to choose between McCain and Obama, two lousy choices.

Gulf coast will be better after the BP disaster then before! Honest! Trust Obama!

Hey get this! According to Obama his government goons are going to do such a good job cleaning up the BP disaster that the coast will be in better shape after the disaster then before - "I am confident that we're going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before"

Believe that and I have some swamp land in Florida I would like to see you!


Gulf oil spill: Obama ready to seize claims process, White House says

Jun. 15, 2010 07:29 AM

Associated Press

PENSACOLA, Fla. - President Barack Obama is poised to seize the handling of oil spill damage claims from BP, his chief spokesman said Tuesday, as Obama sought to reassure people he's up to the enormous challenge of helping them recover from the environmental disaster. He will outline his specific plans and expectations in a prime-time Oval Office speech.

The aim of wresting the claims-handling from the British petroleum giant, press secretary Robert Gibbs said, would be to make economically distressed individuals and businesses "whole." The claims processing problem is among several difficult issues that Obama planned to address directly in the talk to the nation.

From the White House, Gibbs was interviewed on several network morning news shows as Obama prepared for a second day of briefings - this time in Florida - and got ready for a speech at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. He was to fly back to Washington for the 8 p.m. address from the Oval Office.

Voicing increasing confidence in his ability to confront the nation's worst environmental crisis, Obama was set to outline a comprehensive response and recovery program, while assuring not only the people from the afflicted region, but all across America, that his administration will guide the country to a recovery.

On the matter of the disputed damage payments, Gibbs said, "We have to get an independent claims process. I think everyone agrees that we have to get BP out of the claims processes and, as I said, make sure that fishermen, hotel owners have a fast, efficient and transparent claims process so that they're getting their livelihoods replaced."

"This disaster has taken their ability to make a living away from them," he said. "We need to do this quickly, and we have to make sure that whatever money goes into that - that in no way caps what BP is responsible for. Whatever money they owe to anybody in the Gulf, they're going to have to pay regardless of the amount."

He noted in one interview that Obama "has the legal authority" to make the claims process independent. And Gibbs said "the best way to prevail upon BP is to take the claims process away from BP."

"The president will either legally compel them," he said, "or come to an agreement with BP to get out of the claims process, give that to an independent entity."

Obama's address to the nation sets the stage for his showdown White House meeting Wednesday with top BP executives. BP leased the rig that exploded April 20 and led to the leak of millions of gallons of coast-devastating crude. It's part of an effort by Obama, who's been accused of appearing somewhat detached as the oil spill disaster has unfolded, to convince a frightened Gulf Coast and a skeptical nation that he is in command.

Obama was to deliver the speech upon his return from a two-day swing through Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, his fourth trip to the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion that set off the disaster, but his first outside the hardest-hit state of Louisiana.

The trip gave him ammunition for the speech and for his meeting with BP executives where he intends to finalize the details of a victims compensation fund. He visited vacant beaches in Mississippi where the threat of oil had scared off tourists, heard the stories of local employers losing business, watched hazmat-suited workers scrub down boom in a staging facility in Theodore, Ala., and took a ferry ride through Mobile Bay and then to Orange Beach, Ala., where oil has lapped on the shore.

He was beginning the day Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla., where he was to attend a briefing and then make remarks at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

"We're gathering up facts, stories right now so that we have an absolutely clear understanding about how we can best present to BP the need to make sure that individuals and businesses are dealt with in a fair manner and a prompt manner," the president said Monday.

"I am confident that we're going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before," he said.

That pledge was reminiscent of George W. Bush's promise to rebuild the region "even better and stronger" than before Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Bush could not make good on that promise, and Obama did not spell out how he would fulfill his. Tuesday's speech will give him the chance.

Presidents reserve the Oval Office for rare televised addresses. When they take their place behind the desk, it's a time for solemnity and straight talk - often a moment of history. There is a sense of gravity. One man by himself before one television camera speaking to the nation.

Oval Office addresses typically aren't lengthy discourses like a State of the Union, but if a president has to go for broke, this is where he does it. Bush addressed the nation from the Oval on the evening of Sept. 11, 2001. Ronald Reagan spoke there after the space shuttle Challenger explosion. John F. Kennedy grimly explained the Cuban missile crisis. Richard Nixon announced his resignation.

Obama hasn't used it yet. Not even during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Not to explain painfully high unemployment rates. Or bank and auto company bailouts. Not to speak of terrorism threats. Even when his health insurance plan was in peril, he did not speak from the Oval Office to rally support or explain to Americans why he considered it vital.

Gibbs appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today" show and CNN.

Obama is shoveling the BS to get reelected? Damn right! Hell the Gulf Coast will be BETTER after the BP disaster and you can thank my administration for that! Yea sure!!!!


Obama likely won't be able to keep promises on spill

by Tom Raum - Jun. 16, 2010 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's vow to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than before the oil spill sounds familiar. It eerily echoes President George W. Bush's pledge after Hurricane Katrina to rebuild New Orleans "higher and better."

Bush wasn't able to keep that 2005 promise. And Obama probably won't be able to keep his either.

If Americans were looking for details on how Obama would meet such goals and a plan for action, they didn't get much from the president's first speech to the nation from the Oval Office on Tuesday.

He used the address to try to assure people that he has a plan for a problem that didn't exist two months ago, to suggest that this crisis proves he was right about energy legislation and that, in spite of all of this, he hasn't forgotten that recovery from recession is still his job No. 1.

Part of Obama's predicament may be of his own making. He has consistently set high expectations for his performance, first in his presidential campaign and now in office.

His eagerness to take "responsibility" has run into a wall of reality with three crises that defy easy resolution: an ocean-floor oil gusher neither BP nor government scientists can stop, a nearly decadelong war in Afghanistan that Obama can't seem to end and a fragile economic recovery that isn't creating new jobs.

In each instance, Obama has responded by balancing expressions of hope with cautions that the road ahead is a long and difficult one.

But patience is running short.

A majority of Americans - 52 percent - disapprove of how Obama has handled the spill, up significantly from last month, when many more Americans were reserving judgment, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

The poll was conducted June 9-14 by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications. It involved interviews on landline and cell phones with 1,044 adults nationwide, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

Heading toward fall elections that will determine who controls Congress, the administration and lawmakers are attempting to deflect as much political blame for the spill as possible.

Obama's choice of the Oval Office for Tuesday night's prime-time address to the nation was a piece of presidential stagecraft designed to emphasize the seriousness of the situation, while projecting strength and engagement. It was an attempt to show him fully in charge and sympathetic to people along the Gulf Coast and to try to counter any remaining impressions of aloofness and detachment.

"Make no mistake: We will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever's necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy," Obama said.

Obama used a large portion of his speech to promote his energy legislation, which encourages a "transition away from fossil fuels" and a transition to clean energy.

Republicans immediately accused Obama of trying to use the crisis to build support for new taxes on carbon-based fuels that contribute to climate change.

Even some Democrats called the speech a missed opportunity to send a message of competency.


Obama makes bold reassurances on Gulf oil leak

by James Oliphant and Peter Nicholas - Jun. 16, 2010 12:00 AM

Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Calling the widening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico "the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced," President Barack Obama vowed Tuesday in a prime-time address that the oil will be contained and the Gulf's ecology restored and that oil company BP will fully compensate the spill's victims.

"We will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long it takes," Obama said. "We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused."

The president also urged the nation to "tackle our addiction to fossil fuels," prevailing upon Congress to pass a comprehensive bill that would embrace alternative sources of energy.

He said he will not tolerate inaction.

"The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is too big and too difficult to meet," Obama said. " . . . The same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon. And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom."

The speech, the first of Obama's presidency delivered from the Oval Office, came as the government increased its estimates of oil flowing from a pipe nearly a mile deep in the Gulf, saying that as much as 60,000 barrels a day could be leaking into the ocean, and as oil company BP continued its efforts to stem the spread of the spill.

The president vowed that the administration and BP will capture up to "90 percent" of the oil leaking in the Gulf before the end of the summer. But he also spoke of damage to the region that will linger for years.

He outlined a long-term plan to restore the "unique beauty and bounty" of the Gulf Coast wetlands and habitats, battered by decades of erosion, hurricanes and saline infiltration. He said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus will develop the plan, working with local officials, fishermen and conservationists.

In part, the president's address was a bid to reverse sinking public approval of his administration's efforts to respond to the disaster. Obama offered an unswerving defense of the White House's actions in the days and weeks after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20. "Because of our efforts, millions of gallons of oil have already been removed from the water," he said.

A poll released Tuesday by the Associated Press indicated that 52 percent of Americans do not approve of Obama's handling of the spill.

That's up sharply from a month ago, but far more were critical of BP: 83 percent disapproved of the company's performance in the wake of the rig explosion that has sent millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf. The AP-GfK Poll was conducted June 9-14 among 1,044 adults nationwide. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

But, even as the president Tuesday spoke of BP's "recklessness," he avoided a lengthy and pointed critique of the company's actions before and since the accident. Members of Congress, many worried about voter skepticism about the government's effectiveness, have been less reticent, saying BP ignored safety concerns in favor of cost-cutting measures.

The speech was not delivered with Obama's trademark evenhanded efficiency, likely to assuage critics who have charged that he has failed to display enough anger over the scope of the disaster.

Obama pledged to make Gulf Coast residents and businesses whole and said that a compensation fund will be set up that will be funded by BP and administered by an independent third party. All legitimate claims, he said, will be paid in a "fair and timely manner."

The president was to meet with BP executives today at the White House to discuss the fund, which could run into the billions.

Obama also called on Congress to pass a comprehensive energy bill without going so far as to endorse limits on carbon emissions. Disagreement over such limits has stalled such a bill in the Senate.

The president earlier Tuesday named a former Justice Department inspector general, Michael Bromwich, to revamp the Minerals Management Service, the agency that oversees oil drilling, and which, the president said, "became emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility."

Bromwich, Obama said in the Oval Office address, will become a "watchdog" of the oil industry.

Hours before the president's address, the Interior Department dramatically revised its flow estimates from a previous high of 40,000 barrels a day to as much as 60,000 barrels a day. The increased flow came after the pipe leaking into the Gulf was severed earlier this month as part of a plan to stanch the spill.

The agency also said that BP was launching a second containment effort that could capture up to 28,000 barrels of the flow per day, up from the 18,000 barrels the company is trapping now.

Before returning to Washington for the speech, Obama wrapped up his fourth visit to the Gulf since the explosion.

Obama slinging the BS to get elected in 2012!


FACT CHECK: Obama left blanks in oil spill speech


By CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press Writer Calvin Woodward, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – In assuring Americans that BP won't control the compensation fund for Gulf oil spill recovery, President Barack Obama failed to mention that the government won't control it, either.

That means it's anyone's guess whether the government can, in fact, make BP pay all costs related to the spill.

Obama aimed high in his prime-time Oval Office address Tuesday night — perhaps higher than the facts support and history teaches — as he vowed to restore livelihoods and nature from the still-unfolding calamity in the Gulf of Mexico.

A look at some of his statements and how they compare with those facts:

OBAMA: "We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused and we will do whatever's necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy. ... Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness. And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent, third party."

THE FACTS: An independent arbiter is no more bound to the government's wishes than an oil company's. In that sense, there is no certainty BP will be forced to make the Gulf economy whole again or that taxpayers are off the hook for the myriad costs associated with the spill or cleanup. The government can certainly press for that, using legislative and legal tools. But there are no guarantees and the past is not reassuring.

It took 20 years to sort through liability after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, and in the end, punitive damages were slashed by the courts to about $500 million from $2.5 billion. Many people who had lost their livelihoods in the spill died without ever seeing a check.


OBAMA: "In the coming days and weeks, these efforts should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well."

THE FACTS: BP and the administration contend that if all goes as planned, they should be able to contain nearly 90 percent of the worst-case oil flow. But that's a big "if." So far, little has gone as planned in the various remedies attempted to shut off or contain the flow. Possibly as much as 60,000 barrels a day is escaping. BP would need to nearly triple its recovery rate to reach the target.


OBAMA: Temporary measures will capture leaking oil "until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that is expected to stop the leak completely."

THE FACTS: That's the hope, but experts say the relief well runs the same risks that caused the original well to blow out. It potentially could create a worse spill if engineers were to accidentally damage the existing well or tear a hole in the undersea oil reservoir.


OBAMA: "From the very beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge of the largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation's history."

THE FACTS: Early on, the government established a command center and put Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen in charge of coordinating the overall spill response. But officials also repeatedly have emphasized that BP was "responsible" and they have relied heavily on BP in making decisions from hiring cleanup workers to what oil dispersing chemicals to use. Local officials in the Gulf region have complained that often they don't know who's in charge — the government or BP.


OBAMA: "We have approved the construction of new barrier islands in Louisiana to try and stop the oil before it reaches the shore."

THE FACTS: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and local officials pleaded for weeks with the Army Corps of Engineers and the spill response command for permission to build about 40 miles of sand berms along the barrier islands.

State officials applied for an emergency permit to build the berms May 11, but as days went by Jindal became increasingly angry at federal inaction. The White House finally agreed to a portion of the berm plan on June 2. BP then agreed to pay for the project.

The corps was worried that in some cases such a move would alter tides and drive oil into new areas and produce more harm than good.


OBAMA: "Already, I have issued a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. I know this creates difficulty for the people who work on these rigs, but for the sake of their safety and for the sake of the entire region, we need to know the facts before we allow deepwater drilling to continue."

THE FACTS: Obama issued a six-month moratorium on new permits for deepwater drilling but production continues from existing deepwater wells.


Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, H. Josef Hebert and Jim Drinkard in Washington, Brian Schwaner in New Orleans and Carol Druga in Atlanta contributed to this report.


Oil spill overtaking Obama's presidency

by Nancy Benac - Jun. 20, 2010 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - BP chief executive Tony Hayward committed a faux pas when he admitted he wanted his life back. President Barack Obama is too smart to say it aloud, but he wants his presidency back.

To that end, the president's team last week unilaterally declared an "inflection point" in the Gulf of Mexico debacle. He framed his Oval Office address and BP's creation of a $20 billion compensation fund as a turning point when the public regained confidence in Obama's response to an environmental disaster whose negative political effects are spreading along with the gushing crude.

The crisis has cost Obama dearly, in time and focus. He'd rather devote his time to push for passage of jobs legislation, put in place his new health-care plan, develop an energy package, tend to two wars and deal with other priorities.

That doesn't just hurt him; it's frustrating congressional Dems anxious to project a can-do image ahead of fall elections.

Obama's address to the nation Tuesday night was designed to reassure people that he's in charge in the Gulf, thinking ahead to the nation's broader energy needs and keeping up with the myriad demands of office. He also offered rosy talk that BP soon could capture up to 90 percent of the oil spewing from the broken well. That's iffy.

For all the hype attached to the speech, Obama did himself far more good a day later when he delivered more than words - the $20 billion BP-financed fund to cover the mounting economic costs to those whose lives the oily menace has upended.

Then, Obama tried to shift attention elsewhere.

The president, who began his week on the Gulf's beaches, ended it at a government-financed road project in Ohio, putting his focus squarely on jobs and the economy.

The administration is calling this "Recovery Summer." That refers to an anticipated spike in jobs created by last year's $862 billion economic-stimulus package. But it could just as well reflect the administration's hopeful thinking about public perceptions of Obama's handling of the spill, the economy and more.

It will take more than a catchy title, though, to make up for lost ground - on the economy or in the Gulf.

Economic growth has rebounded in the past year. Yet the unemployment rate still is perilously close to 10 percent. About 1 million gallons or more of oil per day still are spewing into the Gulf. An AP-Gfk poll released midweek found that people are angry about the government's handling of the spill, and many doubt Washington really could help them in a disaster.

For all of that, though, the president's overall job performance rating is holding steady at a respectable 50 percent.

Obama has acknowledged that joblessness probably will continue at high levels into next year. He's spoken of the limits of his power in responding to the Gulf spill.

He told people at a Louisiana bait shop: "I can't suck it up with a straw. All I can do is make sure that I put honest, hard-working, smart people in place" to contain the oil and do right by those it is harming.

And, he might add, put the screws to BP.

That's an important shift from Obama's earlier, scattershot efforts to demonstrate he's tuned in to public sentiment and in control.

The $20 billion recovery fund helps Obama pivot from empathy to problem-solving.

But there's still a risk that high expectations will give way to frustration with how the fund is administered by an independent arbiter - not the government.

Bill Galston, a former Clinton administration domestic-policy adviser now at the Brookings Institution, said fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg is highly regarded, but also a very careful man. Careful administration of the fund may well mean a slower pace of disbursements than affected families and businesses in the Gulf want. It also could mean that BP isn't asked to pay for everything that the government wants.

Whether the issue is damage claims from the Gulf or jobs created in Ohio, the public is hungry for tangible results.

"The single most important thing right now is to show change that people can believe in," says Galston. "And at this point, the only change they'll believe in is change that they can touch and see and feel - and that's true both in the Gulf and in the economy."

Emperor Obama Proclaims you have the right to have your neighbor pay for your health care! Could someone please tell me where in the Constitution this is allowed?


White House releases 'patients' bill of rights'


By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press Writer Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Most health insurance plans will soon be barred from turning children down due to pre-existing medical problems, the White House announced Tuesday, spelling out how early benefits of the new health care law will work.

President Barack Obama is marking the first 90 days since he signed the landmark health care overhaul by packaging a series of consumer safeguards into what the administration is calling a "patients' bill of rights."

The law's major benefit — expansion of coverage to some 32 million now uninsured — doesn't come until 2014. So Obama is doing his best to showcase modest early benefits for a nation that remains divided over the legislation.

In addition to guaranteed coverage for children, the safeguards include:

• A ban on lifetime coverage limits. More than 100 million people are enrolled in plans that currently impose such limits, the White House said.

• Phasing out annual coverage limits. Starting this year, plans can set annual limits no lower than $750,000. Such limits rise to $2 million in 2012, and will be completely prohibited in 2014.

• Forbidding insurers from canceling the policies of people who get sick. Unintentional mistakes on application forms cannot be used to revoke a policy.

• Guaranteed choice of primary care doctors and pediatricians from a plan's network. No referral needed for women to see an ob-gyn specialist. No prior approval needed to seek emergency care out-of-network.

The new rules apply to most health plans, except in cases where they are "grandfathered" under the law.

The White House announcement comes as administration officials meet privately with state insurance commissioners, and CEOs of major insurance companies, amid concerns over continued premium hikes. Obama was expected to attend at least part of the session, and is scheduled to make a speech later.

Consumers who buy their policies directly faced increases averaging 20 percent this year, according to a survey released Monday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Although most Americans are covered on the job, about 14 million purchase insurance on the individual market and have the least bargaining power when it comes to costs.

It's still unclear how insurance companies will price the new guaranteed coverage for children. If premiums are too high, families may still be unable to get health insurance.



Obama fires General Stanley McChrystal

General Stanley McChrystal may be a jerk and a liar but the problem is Obama and not him.

I am sure that General McChrystal realizes that winning the Afghanistan and Iraq wars will require lots of dead American bodies.

On the other hand Obama is living in a dream world were he wants to win both wars with out taking the huge number of deaths that will be required.

I am sure General McChrystal was fired because he refused to give Obama his dream world answers that the war could be won without taking on large number of causalities.

Looks like Obama only wants YES men in the White House who rubber stamp what Emperor Obama says!


McChrystal speaks up one too many times

Jun. 23, 2010 12:19 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Known for his blunt and uncompromising instincts, Gen. Stanley McChrystal spoke his mind once too often.

The commander of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan lost his job Wednesday as penance for his jaw-droppingly blunt remarks in a magazine article about the Obama administration's war effort.

Calm and introspective in public, if a bit brusque, the lanky four-star general has never been one to suffer fools gladly. But challenging the president and his team is another matter.

President Barack Obama, in announcing McChrystal's ouster, said the general did not measure up to "the standard that should be set by a commanding general."

It was McChrystal's hard-nosed realism that had earned him the job to begin with.

"You brought somebody in to get the job done after eight years of neglect and failure," said Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst with close ties to the Defense Department. "You brought somebody in basically to fight his way through the bureaucratic and organizational barriers."

McChrystal, 55, wasn't trained to maneuver inside the Washington political machine, though. He spent most of his long military career in the dark world of special operations, including five years as head of Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

In the Rolling Stone article, McChrystal complained that Obama had handed him "an unsellable position" on the war. "I found that time painful," he said. His aides were quoted making even more provocative statements about the president's team.

The interview wasn't the first time McChrystal had irked Obama's team.

Last year, McChrystal decided that more troops were needed in Afghanistan and sent the Pentagon a secret request for 40,000 reinforcements. The request leaked, and White House aides were infuriated.

They believed McChrystal had put Obama in a dilemma - ignore a decorated war general, or send more troops at the expense of political support.

Later that year, Obama agreed to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan on the condition they begin leaving by July 2011.

McChrystal previously drew criticism for the handling of the friendly fire shooting of Army Ranger Pat Tillman, a former NFL star, in Afghanistan. An investigation at the time found that McChrystal was "accountable for the inaccurate and misleading assertions" contained in papers recommending that Tillman get a Silver Star award.

McChrystal acknowledged he had suspected several days before approving the Silver Star citation that Tillman might have died in friendly fire. He sent a memo to military leaders warning them of that, even as they were approving Tillman's Silver Star. The award's citation claimed Tillman had "put himself in the line of devastating enemy fire."

Still, McChrystal told investigators he believed Tillman deserved the award. In 2007, the Army overruled a Pentagon recommendation that McChrystal be held accountable for his "misleading" actions.

Unlike many successful military officers, McChrystal's resume includes only two years spent at the Pentagon - once as a vice director of operations on the Joint Staff, from 2002 to 2003, and again in 2008 for a brief stint as director of the Joint Staff - before being picked by Obama in May 2009 to run the war.

Much of his career has been spent on the front lines in the war on terrorism, studying al-Qaida and orchestrating secret raids. In 2006, his operation was credited with nabbing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq and one of the most-wanted fugitives.

His special operations forces that year were also accused by human rights activists of abusing detainees at Camp Nama at Baghdad International Airport.

But it wasn't until Obama chose him as the top commander in Afghanistan that McChrystal was thrust into a public debate. His predecessor, Gen. David McKiernan, had been on the job for less than a year and wanted more troops. But Obama's political base, including most Democrats in Congress, didn't want an escalation of the war.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said his decision to fire McKiernan and hire McChrystal was not because he disagreed with McKiernan's repeated requests for more forces.

But Gates said he believed the war could not be won by military means alone. So he turned to McChrystal, who as a former Green Beret was intimately familiar with counterinsurgency tactics that, it was hoped, could swing the war around.

In cutting McChrystal loose, Obama declared the war effort was "bigger than any one man or woman."

The president seemed to suggest McChrystal's military career was over, saying the nation should be grateful "for his remarkable career in uniform."

The general, for his part, went to his quarters at Fort McNair and issued a terse statement that had all the discipline that was lacking in the magazine comments.

"It was out of respect for this commitment - and a desire to see the mission succeed - that I tendered my resignation," he said. "It has been my privilege and honor to lead our nation's finest.

The Runaway General

Rolling Stone Magazine interview with General Stanley McChrystal

Rolling Stone Magazine interview with General Stanley McChrystal, the guy who is running the American war effort in Afghanistan. As you read it you will think this is a replay of the Vietnam war.


The Runaway General

Stanley McChrystal, Obama's top commander in Afghanistan, has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House

By Michael Hastings

Jun 22, 2010 10:00 AM EDT

This article appears in RS 1108/1109 from July 8-22, 2010, on newsstands Friday, June 25.

'How'd I get screwed into going to this dinner?" demands Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It's a Thursday night in mid-April, and the commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is sitting in a four-star suite at the Hôtel Westminster in Paris. He's in France to sell his new war strategy to our NATO allies – to keep up the fiction, in essence, that we actually have allies. Since McChrystal took over a year ago, the Afghan war has become the exclusive property of the United States. Opposition to the war has already toppled the Dutch government, forced the resignation of Germany's president and sparked both Canada and the Netherlands to announce the withdrawal of their 4,500 troops. McChrystal is in Paris to keep the French, who have lost more than 40 soldiers in Afghanistan, from going all wobbly on him.

"The dinner comes with the position, sir," says his chief of staff, Col. Charlie Flynn.

McChrystal turns sharply in his chair.

"Hey, Charlie," he asks, "does this come with the position?"

McChrystal gives him the middle finger.

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The general stands and looks around the suite that his traveling staff of 10 has converted into a full-scale operations center. The tables are crowded with silver Panasonic Toughbooks, and blue cables crisscross the hotel's thick carpet, hooked up to satellite dishes to provide encrypted phone and e-mail communications. Dressed in off-the-rack civilian casual – blue tie, button-down shirt, dress slacks – McChrystal is way out of his comfort zone. Paris, as one of his advisers says, is the "most anti-McChrystal city you can imagine." The general hates fancy restaurants, rejecting any place with candles on the tables as too "Gucci." He prefers Bud Light Lime (his favorite beer) to Bordeaux, Talladega Nights

(his favorite movie) to Jean-Luc Godard. Besides, the public eye has never been a place where McChrystal felt comfortable: Before President Obama put him in charge of the war in Afghanistan, he spent five years running the Pentagon's most secretive black ops.

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"What's the update on the Kandahar bombing?" McChrystal asks Flynn. The city has been rocked by two massive car bombs in the past day alone, calling into question the general's assurances that he can wrest it from the Taliban.

"We have two KIAs, but that hasn't been confirmed," Flynn says.

McChrystal takes a final look around the suite. At 55, he is gaunt and lean, not unlike an older version of Christian Bale in Rescue Dawn. His slate-blue eyes have the unsettling ability to drill down when they lock on you. If you've (expletive)ed up or disappointed him, they can destroy your soul without the need for him to raise his voice.

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"I'd rather have my ass kicked by a roomful of people than go out to this dinner," McChrystal says.

He pauses a beat.

"Unfortunately," he adds, "no one in this room could do it."

With that, he's out the door.

"Who's he going to dinner with?" I ask one of his aides.

"Some French minister," the aide tells me. "It's (expletive)ing gay."

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The next morning, McChrystal and his team gather to prepare for a speech he is giving at the École Militaire, a French military academy. The general prides himself on being sharper and ballsier than anyone else, but his brashness comes with a price: Although McChrystal has been in charge of the war for only a year, in that short time he has managed to piss off almost everyone with a stake in the conflict. Last fall, during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave in London, McChrystal dismissed the counterterrorism strategy being advocated by Vice President Joe Biden as "shortsighted," saying it would lead to a state of "Chaos-istan." The remarks earned him a smackdown from the president himself, who summoned the general to a terse private meeting aboard Air Force One. The message to McChrystal seemed clear: Shut the (expletive) up, and keep a lower profile

Now, flipping through printout cards of his speech in Paris, McChrystal wonders aloud what Biden question he might get today, and how he should respond. "I never know what's going to pop out until I'm up there, that's the problem," he says. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner.

"Are you asking about Vice President Biden?" McChrystal says with a laugh. "Who's that?"

"Biden?" suggests a top adviser. "Did you say: Bite Me?"

When Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, he immediately set out to deliver on his most important campaign promise on foreign policy: to refocus the war in Afghanistan on what led us to invade in the first place. "I want the American people to understand," he announced in March 2009. "We have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan." He ordered another 21,000 troops to Kabul, the largest increase since the war began in 2001. Taking the advice of both the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he also fired Gen. David McKiernan – then the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan – and replaced him with a man he didn't know and had met only briefly: Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It was the first time a top general had been relieved from duty during wartime in more than 50 years, since Harry Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur at the height of the Korean War.

Even though he had voted for Obama, McChrystal and his new commander in chief failed from the outset to connect. The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn't go much better. "It was a 10-minute photo op," says an adviser to McChrystal. "Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. Here's the guy who's going to run his (expletive)ing war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed."

From the start, McChrystal was determined to place his personal stamp on Afghanistan, to use it as a laboratory for a controversial military strategy known as counterinsurgency. COIN, as the theory is known, is the new gospel of the Pentagon brass, a doctrine that attempts to square the military's preference for high-tech violence with the demands of fighting protracted wars in failed states. COIN calls for sending huge numbers of ground troops to not only destroy the enemy, but to live among the civilian population and slowly rebuild, or build from scratch, another nation's government – a process that even its staunchest advocates admit requires years, if not decades, to achieve. The theory essentially rebrands the military, expanding its authority (and its funding) to encompass the diplomatic and political sides of warfare: Think the Green Berets as an armed Peace Corps. In 2006, after Gen. David Petraeus beta-tested the theory during his "surge" in Iraq, it quickly gained a hardcore following of think-tankers, journalists, military officers and civilian officials. Nicknamed "COINdinistas" for their cultish zeal, this influential cadre believed the doctrine would be the perfect solution for Afghanistan. All they needed was a general with enough charisma and political savvy to implement it.

As McChrystal leaned on Obama to ramp up the war, he did it with the same fearlessness he used to track down terrorists in Iraq: Figure out how your enemy operates, be faster and more ruthless than everybody else, then take the (expletive)ers out. After arriving in Afghanistan last June, the general conducted his own policy review, ordered up by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The now-infamous report was leaked to the press, and its conclusion was dire: If we didn't send another 40,000 troops – swelling the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan by nearly half – we were in danger of "mission failure." The White House was furious. McChrystal, they felt, was trying to bully Obama, opening him up to charges of being weak on national security unless he did what the general wanted. It was Obama versus the Pentagon, and the Pentagon was determined to kick the president's ass.

Last fall, with his top general calling for more troops, Obama launched a three-month review to re-evaluate the strategy in Afghanistan. "I found that time painful," McChrystal tells me in one of several lengthy interviews. "I was selling an unsellable position." For the general, it was a crash course in Beltway politics – a battle that pitted him against experienced Washington insiders like Vice President Biden, who argued that a prolonged counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan would plunge America into a military quagmire without weakening international terrorist networks. "The entire COIN strategy is a fraud perpetuated on the American people," says Douglas Macgregor, a retired colonel and leading critic of counterinsurgency who attended West Point with McChrystal. "The idea that we are going to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the Islamic world is utter nonsense.

In the end, however, McChrystal got almost exactly what he wanted. On December 1st, in a speech at West Point, the president laid out all the reasons why fighting the war in Afghanistan is a bad idea: It's expensive; we're in an economic crisis; a decade-long commitment would sap American power; Al Qaeda has shifted its base of operations to Pakistan. Then, without ever using the words "victory" or "win," Obama announced that he would send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, almost as many as McChrystal had requested. The president had thrown his weight, however hesitantly, behind the counterinsurgency crowd.

Today, as McChrystal gears up for an offensive in southern Afghanistan, the prospects for any kind of success look bleak. In June, the death toll for U.S. troops passed 1,000, and the number of IEDs has doubled. Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the fifth-poorest country on earth has failed to win over the civilian population, whose attitude toward U.S. troops ranges from intensely wary to openly hostile. The biggest military operation of the year – a ferocious offensive that began in February to retake the southern town of Marja – continues to drag on, prompting McChrystal himself to refer to it as a "bleeding ulcer." In June, Afghanistan officially outpaced Vietnam as the longest war in American history – and Obama has quietly begun to back away from the deadline he set for withdrawing U.S. troops in July of next year. The president finds himself stuck in something even more insane than a quagmire: a quagmire he knowingly walked into, even though it's precisely the kind of gigantic, mind-numbing, multigenerational nation-building project he explicitly said he didn't want.

Even those who support McChrystal and his strategy of counterinsurgency know that whatever the general manages to accomplish in Afghanistan, it's going to look more like Vietnam than Desert Storm. "It's not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win," says Maj. Gen. Bill Mayville, who serves as chief of operations for McChrystal. "This is going to end in an argument."

The night after his speech in Paris, McChrystal and his staff head to Kitty O'Shea's, an Irish pub catering to tourists, around the corner from the hotel. His wife, Annie, has joined him for a rare visit: Since the Iraq War began in 2003, she has seen her husband less than 30 days a year. Though it is his and Annie's 33rd wedding anniversary, McChrystal has invited his inner circle along for dinner and drinks at the "least Gucci" place his staff could find. His wife isn't surprised. "He once took me to a Jack in the Box when I was dressed in formalwear," she says with a laugh.

The general's staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs. There's a former head of British Special Forces, two Navy Seals, an Afghan Special Forces commando, a lawyer, two fighter pilots and at least two dozen combat veterans and counterinsurgency experts. They jokingly refer to themselves as Team America, taking the name from the South Park-esque sendup of military cluelessness, and they pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority. After arriving in Kabul last summer, Team America set about changing the culture of the International Security Assistance Force, as the NATO-led mission is known. (U.S. soldiers had taken to deriding ISAF as short for "I Suck at Fighting" or "In Sandals and Flip-Flops.") McChrystal banned alcohol on base, kicked out Burger King and other symbols of American excess, expanded the morning briefing to include thousands of officers and refashioned the command center into a Situational Awareness Room, a free-flowing information hub modeled after Mayor Mike Bloomberg's offices in New York. He also set a manic pace for his staff, becoming legendary for sleeping four hours a night, running seven miles each morning, and eating one meal a day. (In the month I spend around the general, I witness him eating only once.) It's a kind of superhuman narrative that has built up around him, a staple in almost every media profile, as if the ability to go without sleep and food translates into the possibility of a man single-handedly winning the war.

By midnight at Kitty O'Shea's, much of Team America is completely (expletive)faced. Two officers do an Irish jig mixed with steps from a traditional Afghan wedding dance, while McChrystal's top advisers lock arms and sing a slurred song of their own invention. "Afghanistan!" they bellow. "Afghanistan!" They call it their Afghanistan song.

McChrystal steps away from the circle, observing his team. "All these men," he tells me. "I'd die for them. And they'd die for me."

The assembled men may look and sound like a bunch of combat veterans letting off steam, but in fact this tight-knit group represents the most powerful force shaping U.S. policy in Afghanistan. While McChrystal and his men are in indisputable command of all military aspects of the war, there is no equivalent position on the diplomatic or political side. Instead, an assortment of administration players compete over the Afghan portfolio: U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Special Representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, National Security Advisor Jim Jones and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, not to mention 40 or so other coalition ambassadors and a host of talking heads who try to insert themselves into the mess, from John Kerry to John McCain. This diplomatic incoherence has effectively allowed McChrystal's team to call the shots and hampered efforts to build a stable and credible government in Afghanistan. "It jeopardizes the mission," says Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who supports McChrystal. "The military cannot by itself create governance reform."

Part of the problem is structural: The Defense Department budget exceeds $600 billion a year, while the State Department receives only $50 billion. But part of the problem is personal: In private, Team McChrystal likes to talk (expletive) about many of Obama's top people on the diplomatic side. One aide calls Jim Jones, a retired four-star general and veteran of the Cold War, a "clown" who remains "stuck in 1985." Politicians like McCain and Kerry, says another aide, "turn up, have a meeting with Karzai, criticize him at the airport press conference, then get back for the Sunday talk shows. Frankly, it's not very helpful." Only Hillary Clinton receives good reviews from McChrystal's inner circle. "Hillary had Stan's back during the strategic review," says an adviser. "She said, 'If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.'?"

McChrystal reserves special skepticism for Holbrooke, the official in charge of reintegrating the Taliban. "The Boss says he's like a wounded animal," says a member of the general's team. "Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he's going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous. He's a brilliant guy, but he just comes in, pulls on a lever, whatever he can grasp onto. But this is COIN, and you can't just have someone yanking on (expletive)."

At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. "Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke," he groans. "I don't even want to open it." He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance.

"Make sure you don't get any of that on your leg," an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail.

By far the most crucial – and strained – relationship is between McChrystal and Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador. According to those close to the two men, Eikenberry – a retired three-star general who served in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2005 – can't stand that his former subordinate is now calling the shots. He's also furious that McChrystal, backed by NATO's allies, refused to put Eikenberry in the pivotal role of viceroy in Afghanistan, which would have made him the diplomatic equivalent of the general. The job instead went to British Ambassador Mark Sedwill – a move that effectively increased McChrystal's influence over diplomacy by shutting out a powerful rival. "In reality, that position needs to be filled by an American for it to have weight," says a U.S. official familiar with the negotiations.

The relationship was further strained in January, when a classified cable that Eikenberry wrote was leaked to The New York Times. The cable was as scathing as it was prescient. The ambassador offered a brutal critique of McChrystal's strategy, dismissed President Hamid Karzai as "not an adequate strategic partner," and cast doubt on whether the counterinsurgency plan would be "sufficient" to deal with Al Qaeda. "We will become more deeply engaged here with no way to extricate ourselves," Eikenberry warned, "short of allowing the country to descend again into lawlessness and chaos."

McChrystal and his team were blindsided by the cable. "I like Karl, I've known him for years, but they'd never said anything like that to us before," says McChrystal, who adds that he felt "betrayed" by the leak. "Here's one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, 'I told you so.'?"

The most striking example of McChrystal's usurpation of diplomatic policy is his handling of Karzai. It is McChrystal, not diplomats like Eikenberry or Holbrooke, who enjoys the best relationship with the man America is relying on to lead Afghanistan. The doctrine of counterinsurgency requires a credible government, and since Karzai is not considered credible by his own people, McChrystal has worked hard to make him so. Over the past few months, he has accompanied the president on more than 10 trips around the country, standing beside him at political meetings, or shuras, in Kandahar. In February, the day before the doomed offensive in Marja, McChrystal even drove over to the president's palace to get him to sign off on what would be the largest military operation of the year. Karzai's staff, however, insisted that the president was sleeping off a cold and could not be disturbed. After several hours of haggling, McChrystal finally enlisted the aid of Afghanistan's defense minister, who persuaded Karzai's people to wake the president from his nap.

This is one of the central flaws with McChrystal's counterinsurgency strategy: The need to build a credible government puts us at the mercy of whatever tin-pot leader we've backed – a danger that Eikenberry explicitly warned about in his cable. Even Team McChrystal privately acknowledges that Karzai is a less-than-ideal partner. "He's been locked up in his palace the past year," laments one of the general's top advisers. At times, Karzai himself has actively undermined McChrystal's desire to put him in charge. During a recent visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Karzai met three U.S. soldiers who had been wounded in Uruzgan province. "General," he called out to McChrystal, "I didn't even know we were fighting in Uruzgan!"

Growing up as a military brat, McChrystal exhibited the mixture of brilliance and cockiness that would follow him throughout his career. His father fought in Korea and Vietnam, retiring as a two-star general, and his four brothers all joined the armed services. Moving around to different bases, McChrystal took solace in baseball, a sport in which he made no pretense of hiding his superiority: In Little League, he would call out strikes to the crowd before whipping a fastball down the middle.

McChrystal entered West Point in 1972, when the U.S. military was close to its all-time low in popularity. His class was the last to graduate before the academy started to admit women. The "Prison on the Hudson," as it was known then, was a potent mix of testosterone, hooliganism and reactionary patriotism. Cadets repeatedly trashed the mess hall in food fights, and birthdays were celebrated with a tradition called "rat (expletive)ing," which often left the birthday boy outside in the snow or mud, covered in shaving cream. "It was pretty out of control," says Lt. Gen. David Barno, a classmate who went on to serve as the top commander in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005. The class, filled with what Barno calls "huge talent" and "wild-eyed teenagers with a strong sense of idealism," also produced Gen. Ray Odierno, the current commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.

The son of a general, McChrystal was also a ringleader of the campus dissidents – a dual role that taught him how to thrive in a rigid, top-down environment while thumbing his nose at authority every chance he got. He accumulated more than 100 hours of demerits for drinking, partying and insubordination – a record that his classmates boasted made him a "century man." One classmate, who asked not to be named, recalls finding McChrystal passed out in the shower after downing a case of beer he had hidden under the sink. The troublemaking almost got him kicked out, and he spent hours subjected to forced marches in the Area, a paved courtyard where unruly cadets were disciplined. "I'd come visit, and I'd end up spending most of my time in the library, while Stan was in the Area," recalls Annie, who began dating McChrystal in 1973.

McChrystal wound up ranking 298 out of a class of 855, a serious underachievement for a man widely regarded as brilliant. His most compelling work was extracurricular: As managing editor of The Pointer, the West Point literary magazine, McChrystal wrote seven short stories that eerily foreshadow many of the issues he would confront in his career. In one tale, a fictional officer complains about the difficulty of training foreign troops to fight; in another, a 19-year-old soldier kills a boy he mistakes for a terrorist. In "Brinkman's Note," a piece of suspense fiction, the unnamed narrator appears to be trying to stop a plot to assassinate the president. It turns out, however, that the narrator himself is the assassin, and he's able to infiltrate the White House: "The President strode in smiling. From the right coat pocket of the raincoat I carried, I slowly drew forth my 32-caliber pistol. In Brinkman's failure, I had succeeded."

After graduation, 2nd Lt. Stanley McChrystal entered an Army that was all but broken in the wake of Vietnam. "We really felt we were a peacetime generation," he recalls. "There was the Gulf War, but even that didn't feel like that big of a deal." So McChrystal spent his career where the action was: He enrolled in Special Forces school and became a regimental commander of the 3rd Ranger Battalion in 1986. It was a dangerous position, even in peacetime – nearly two dozen Rangers were killed in training accidents during the Eighties. It was also an unorthodox career path: Most soldiers who want to climb the ranks to general don't go into the Rangers. Displaying a penchant for transforming systems he considers outdated, McChrystal set out to revolutionize the training regime for the Rangers. He introduced mixed martial arts, required every soldier to qualify with night-vision goggles on the rifle range and forced troops to build up their endurance with weekly marches involving heavy backpacks.

In the late 1990s, McChrystal shrewdly improved his inside game, spending a year at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and then at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he co-authored a treatise on the merits and drawbacks of humanitarian interventionism. But as he moved up through the ranks, McChrystal relied on the skills he had learned as a troublemaking kid at West Point: knowing precisely how far he could go in a rigid military hierarchy without getting tossed out. Being a highly intelligent badass, he discovered, could take you far – especially in the political chaos that followed September 11th. "He was very focused," says Annie. "Even as a young officer he seemed to know what he wanted to do. I don't think his personality has changed in all these years."

By some accounts, McChrystal's career should have been over at least two times by now. As Pentagon spokesman during the invasion of Iraq, the general seemed more like a White House mouthpiece than an up-and-coming commander with a reputation for speaking his mind. When Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made his infamous "stuff happens" remark during the looting of Baghdad, McChrystal backed him up. A few days later, he echoed the president's Mission Accomplished gaffe by insisting that major combat operations in Iraq were over. But it was during his next stint – overseeing the military's most elite units, including the Rangers, Navy Seals and Delta Force – that McChrystal took part in a cover-up that would have destroyed the career of a lesser man.

After Cpl. Pat Tillman, the former-NFL-star-turned-Ranger, was accidentally killed by his own troops in Afghanistan in April 2004, McChrystal took an active role in creating the impression that Tillman had died at the hands of Taliban fighters. He signed off on a falsified recommendation for a Silver Star that suggested Tillman had been killed by enemy fire. (McChrystal would later claim he didn't read the recommendation closely enough – a strange excuse for a commander known for his laserlike attention to minute details.) A week later, McChrystal sent a memo up the chain of command, specifically warning that President Bush should avoid mentioning the cause of Tillman's death. "If the circumstances of Corporal Tillman's death become public," he wrote, it could cause "public embarrassment" for the president.

"The false narrative, which McChrystal clearly helped construct, diminished Pat's true actions," wrote Tillman's mother, Mary, in her book Boots on the Ground by Dusk. McChrystal got away with it, she added, because he was the "golden boy" of Rumsfeld and Bush, who loved his willingness to get things done, even if it included bending the rules or skipping the chain of command. Nine days after Tillman's death, McChrystal was promoted to major general.

Two years later, in 2006, McChrystal was tainted by a scandal involving detainee abuse and torture at Camp Nama in Iraq. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, prisoners at the camp were subjected to a now-familiar litany of abuse: stress positions, being dragged naked through the mud. McChrystal was not disciplined in the scandal, even though an interrogator at the camp reported seeing him inspect the prison multiple times. But the experience was so unsettling to McChrystal that he tried to prevent detainee operations from being placed under his command in Afghanistan, viewing them as a "political swamp," according to a U.S. official. In May 2009, as McChrystal prepared for his confirmation hearings, his staff prepared him for hard questions about Camp Nama and the Tillman cover-up. But the scandals barely made a ripple in Congress, and McChrystal was soon on his way back to Kabul to run the war in Afghanistan.

The media, to a large extent, have also given McChrystal a pass on both controversies. Where Gen. Petraeus is kind of a dweeb, a teacher's pet with a Ranger's tab, McChrystal is a snake-eating rebel, a "Jedi" commander, as Newsweek called him. He didn't care when his teenage son came home with blue hair and a mohawk. He speaks his mind with a candor rare for a high-ranking official. He asks for opinions, and seems genuinely interested in the response. He gets briefings on his iPod and listens to books on tape. He carries a custom-made set of nunchucks in his convoy engraved with his name and four stars, and his itinerary often bears a fresh quote from Bruce Lee. ("There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.") He went out on dozens of nighttime raids during his time in Iraq, unprecedented for a top commander, and turned up on missions unannounced, with almost no entourage. "The (expletive)ing lads love Stan McChrystal," says a British officer who serves in Kabul. "You'd be out in Somewhere, Iraq, and someone would take a knee beside you, and a corporal would be like 'Who the (expletive) is that?' And it's (expletive)ing Stan McChrystal."

It doesn't hurt that McChrystal was also extremely successful as head of the Joint Special Operations Command, the elite forces that carry out the government's darkest ops. During the Iraq surge, his team killed and captured thousands of insurgents, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. "JSOC was a killing machine," says Maj. Gen. Mayville, his chief of operations. McChrystal was also open to new ways of killing. He systematically mapped out terrorist networks, targeting specific insurgents and hunting them down – often with the help of cyberfreaks traditionally shunned by the military. "The Boss would find the 24-year-old kid with a nose ring, with some (expletive)ing brilliant degree from MIT, sitting in the corner with 16 computer monitors humming," says a Special Forces commando who worked with McChrystal in Iraq and now serves on his staff in Kabul. "He'd say, 'Hey – you (expletive)ing muscleheads couldn't find lunch without help. You got to work together with these guys.'?"

Even in his new role as America's leading evangelist for counterinsurgency, McChrystal retains the deep-seated instincts of a terrorist hunter. To put pressure on the Taliban, he has upped the number of Special Forces units in Afghanistan from four to 19. "You better be out there hitting four or five targets tonight," McChrystal will tell a Navy Seal he sees in the hallway at headquarters. Then he'll add, "I'm going to have to scold you in the morning for it, though." In fact, the general frequently finds himself apologizing for the disastrous consequences of counterinsurgency. In the first four months of this year, NATO forces killed some 90 civilians, up 76 percent from the same period in 2009 – a record that has created tremendous resentment among the very population that COIN theory is intent on winning over. In February, a Special Forces night raid ended in the deaths of two pregnant Afghan women and allegations of a cover-up, and in April, protests erupted in Kandahar after U.S. forces accidentally shot up a bus, killing five Afghans. "We've shot an amazing number of people," McChrystal recently conceded.

Despite the tragedies and miscues, McChrystal has issued some of the strictest directives to avoid civilian casualties that the U.S. military has ever encountered in a war zone. It's "insurgent math," as he calls it – for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies. He has ordered convoys to curtail their reckless driving, put restrictions on the use of air power and severely limited night raids. He regularly apologizes to Hamid Karzai when civilians are killed, and berates commanders responsible for civilian deaths. "For a while," says one U.S. official, "the most dangerous place to be in Afghanistan was in front of McChrystal after a 'civ cas' incident." The ISAF command has even discussed ways to make not killing into something you can win an award for: There's talk of creating a new medal for "courageous restraint," a buzzword that's unlikely to gain much traction in the gung-ho culture of the U.S. military.

But however strategic they may be, McChrystal's new marching orders have caused an intense backlash among his own troops. Being told to hold their fire, soldiers complain, puts them in greater danger. "Bottom line?" says a former Special Forces operator who has spent years in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I would love to kick McChrystal in the nuts. His rules of engagement put soldiers' lives in even greater danger. Every real soldier will tell you the same thing."

In March, McChrystal traveled to Combat Outpost JFM – a small encampment on the outskirts of Kandahar – to confront such accusations from the troops directly. It was a typically bold move by the general. Only two days earlier, he had received an e-mail from Israel Arroyo, a 25-year-old staff sergeant who asked McChrystal to go on a mission with his unit. "I am writing because it was said you don't care about the troops and have made it harder to defend ourselves," Arroyo wrote.

Within hours, McChrystal responded personally: "I'm saddened by the accusation that I don't care about soldiers, as it is something I suspect any soldier takes both personally and professionally – at least I do. But I know perceptions depend upon your perspective at the time, and I respect that every soldier's view is his own." Then he showed up at Arroyo's outpost and went on a foot patrol with the troops – not some bull(expletive) photo-op stroll through a market, but a real live operation in a dangerous war zone.

Six weeks later, just before McChrystal returned from Paris, the general received another e-mail from Arroyo. A 23-year-old corporal named Michael Ingram – one of the soldiers McChrystal had gone on patrol with – had been killed by an IED a day earlier. It was the third man the 25-member platoon had lost in a year, and Arroyo was writing to see if the general would attend Ingram's memorial service. "He started to look up to you," Arroyo wrote. McChrystal said he would try to make it down to pay his respects as soon as possible.

The night before the general is scheduled to visit Sgt. Arroyo's platoon for the memorial, I arrive at Combat Outpost JFM to speak with the soldiers he had gone on patrol with. JFM is a small encampment, ringed by high blast walls and guard towers. Almost all of the soldiers here have been on repeated combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and have seen some of the worst fighting of both wars. But they are especially angered by Ingram's death. His commanders had repeatedly requested permission to tear down the house where Ingram was killed, noting that it was often used as a combat position by the Taliban. But due to McChrystal's new restrictions to avoid upsetting civilians, the request had been denied. "These were abandoned houses," fumes Staff Sgt. Kennith Hicks. "Nobody was coming back to live in them."

One soldier shows me the list of new regulations the platoon was given. "Patrol only in areas that you are reasonably certain that you will not have to defend yourselves with lethal force," the laminated card reads. For a soldier who has traveled halfway around the world to fight, that's like telling a cop he should only patrol in areas where he knows he won't have to make arrests. "Does that make any (expletive)ing sense?" asks Pfc. Jared Pautsch. "We should just drop a (expletive)ing bomb on this place. You sit and ask yourself: What are we doing here?"

The rules handed out here are not what McChrystal intended – they've been distorted as they passed through the chain of command – but knowing that does nothing to lessen the anger of troops on the ground. "(expletive), when I came over here and heard that McChrystal was in charge, I thought we would get our (expletive)ing gun on," says Hicks, who has served three tours of combat. "I get COIN. I get all that. McChrystal comes here, explains it, it makes sense. But then he goes away on his bird, and by the time his directives get passed down to us through Big Army, they're all (expletive)ed up – either because somebody is trying to cover their ass, or because they just don't understand it themselves. But we're (expletive)ing losing this thing."

McChrystal and his team show up the next day. Underneath a tent, the general has a 45-minute discussion with some two dozen soldiers. The atmosphere is tense. "I ask you what's going on in your world, and I think it's important for you all to understand the big picture as well," McChrystal begins. "How's the company doing? You guys feeling sorry for yourselves? Anybody? Anybody feel like you're losing?" McChrystal says.

"Sir, some of the guys here, sir, think we're losing, sir," says Hicks.

McChrystal nods. "Strength is leading when you just don't want to lead," he tells the men. "You're leading by example. That's what we do. Particularly when it's really, really hard, and it hurts inside." Then he spends 20 minutes talking about counterinsurgency, diagramming his concepts and principles on a whiteboard. He makes COIN seem like common sense, but he's careful not to bull(expletive) the men. "We are knee-deep in the decisive year," he tells them. The Taliban, he insists, no longer has the initiative – "but I don't think we do, either." It's similar to the talk he gave in Paris, but it's not winning any hearts and minds among the soldiers. "This is the philosophical part that works with think tanks," McChrystal tries to joke. "But it doesn't get the same reception from infantry companies."

During the question-and-answer period, the frustration boils over. The soldiers complain about not being allowed to use lethal force, about watching insurgents they detain be freed for lack of evidence. They want to be able to fight – like they did in Iraq, like they had in Afghanistan before McChrystal. "We aren't putting fear into the Taliban," one soldier says.

"Winning hearts and minds in COIN is a coldblooded thing," McChrystal says, citing an oft-repeated maxim that you can't kill your way out of Afghanistan. "The Russians killed 1 million Afghans, and that didn't work."

"I'm not saying go out and kill everybody, sir," the soldier persists. "You say we've stopped the momentum of the insurgency. I don't believe that's true in this area. The more we pull back, the more we restrain ourselves, the stronger it's getting."

"I agree with you," McChrystal says. "In this area, we've not made progress, probably. You have to show strength here, you have to use fire. What I'm telling you is, fire costs you. What do you want to do? You want to wipe the population out here and resettle it?"

A soldier complains that under the rules, any insurgent who doesn't have a weapon is immediately assumed to be a civilian. "That's the way this game is," McChrystal says. "It's complex. I can't just decide: It's shirts and skins, and we'll kill all the shirts."

As the discussion ends, McChrystal seems to sense that he hasn't succeeded at easing the men's anger. He makes one last-ditch effort to reach them, acknowledging the death of Cpl. Ingram. "There's no way I can make that easier," he tells them. "No way I can pretend it won't hurt. No way I can tell you not to feel that. . . . I will tell you, you're doing a great job. Don't let the frustration get to you." The session ends with no clapping, and no real resolution. McChrystal may have sold President Obama on counterinsurgency, but many of his own men aren't buying it.

When it comes to Afghanistan, history is not on McChrystal's side. The only foreign invader to have any success here was Genghis Khan – and he wasn't hampered by things like human rights, economic development and press scrutiny. The COIN doctrine, bizarrely, draws inspiration from some of the biggest Western military embarrassments in recent memory: France's nasty war in Algeria (lost in 1962) and the American misadventure in Vietnam (lost in 1975). McChrystal, like other advocates of COIN, readily acknowledges that counterinsurgency campaigns are inherently messy, expensive and easy to lose. "Even Afghans are confused by Afghanistan," he says. But even if he somehow manages to succeed, after years of bloody fighting with Afghan kids who pose no threat to the U.S. homeland, the war will do little to shut down Al Qaeda, which has shifted its operations to Pakistan. Dispatching 150,000 troops to build new schools, roads, mosques and water-treatment facilities around Kandahar is like trying to stop the drug war in Mexico by occupying Arkansas and building Baptist churches in Little Rock. "It's all very cynical, politically," says Marc Sageman, a former CIA case officer who has extensive experience in the region. "Afghanistan is not in our vital interest – there's nothing for us there."

In mid-May, two weeks after visiting the troops in Kandahar, McChrystal travels to the White House for a high-level visit by Hamid Karzai. It is a triumphant moment for the general, one that demonstrates he is very much in command – both in Kabul and in Washington. In the East Room, which is packed with journalists and dignitaries, President Obama sings the praises of Karzai. The two leaders talk about how great their relationship is, about the pain they feel over civilian casualties. They mention the word "progress" 16 times in under an hour. But there is no mention of victory. Still, the session represents the most forceful commitment that Obama has made to McChrystal's strategy in months. "There is no denying the progress that the Afghan people have made in recent years – in education, in health care and economic development," the president says. "As I saw in the lights across Kabul when I landed – lights that would not have been visible just a few years earlier."

It is a disconcerting observation for Obama to make. During the worst years in Iraq, when the Bush administration had no real progress to point to, officials used to offer up the exact same evidence of success. "It was one of our first impressions," one GOP official said in 2006, after landing in Baghdad at the height of the sectarian violence. "So many lights shining brightly." So it is to the language of the Iraq War that the Obama administration has turned – talk of progress, of city lights, of metrics like health care and education. Rhetoric that just a few years ago they would have mocked. "They are trying to manipulate perceptions because there is no definition of victory – because victory is not even defined or recognizable," says Celeste Ward, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation who served as a political adviser to U.S. commanders in Iraq in 2006. "That's the game we're in right now. What we need, for strategic purposes, is to create the perception that we didn't get run off. The facts on the ground are not great, and are not going to become great in the near future."

But facts on the ground, as history has proven, offer little deterrent to a military determined to stay the course. Even those closest to McChrystal know that the rising anti-war sentiment at home doesn't begin to reflect how deeply (expletive)ed up things are in Afghanistan. "If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular," a senior adviser to McChrystal says. Such realism, however, doesn't prevent advocates of counterinsurgency from dreaming big: Instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further. "There's a possibility we could ask for another surge of U.S. forces next summer if we see success here," a senior military official in Kabul tells me.

Back in Afghanistan, less than a month after the White House meeting with Karzai and all the talk of "progress," McChrystal is hit by the biggest blow to his vision of counterinsurgency. Since last year, the Pentagon had been planning to launch a major military operation this summer in Kandahar, the country's second-largest city and the Taliban's original home base. It was supposed to be a decisive turning point in the war – the primary reason for the troop surge that McChrystal wrested from Obama late last year. But on June 10th, acknowledging that the military still needs to lay more groundwork, the general announced that he is postponing the offensive until the fall. Rather than one big battle, like Fallujah or Ramadi, U.S. troops will implement what McChrystal calls a "rising tide of security." The Afghan police and army will enter Kandahar to attempt to seize control of neighborhoods, while the U.S. pours $90 million of aid into the city to win over the civilian population.

Even proponents of counterinsurgency are hard-pressed to explain the new plan. "This isn't a classic operation," says a U.S. military official. "It's not going to be Black Hawk Down. There aren't going to be doors kicked in." Other U.S. officials insist that doors are going to be kicked in, but that it's going to be a kinder, gentler offensive than the disaster in Marja. "The Taliban have a jackboot on the city," says a military official. "We have to remove them, but we have to do it in a way that doesn't alienate the population." When Vice President Biden was briefed on the new plan in the Oval Office, insiders say he was shocked to see how much it mirrored the more gradual plan of counterterrorism that he advocated last fall. "This looks like CT-plus!" he said, according to U.S. officials familiar with the meeting.

Whatever the nature of the new plan, the delay underscores the fundamental flaws of counterinsurgency. After nine years of war, the Taliban simply remains too strongly entrenched for the U.S. military to openly attack. The very people that COIN seeks to win over – the Afghan people – do not want us there. Our supposed ally, President Karzai, used his influence to delay the offensive, and the massive influx of aid championed by McChrystal is likely only to make things worse. "Throwing money at the problem exacerbates the problem," says Andrew Wilder, an expert at Tufts University who has studied the effect of aid in southern Afghanistan. "A tsunami of cash fuels corruption, delegitimizes the government and creates an environment where we're picking winners and losers" – a process that fuels resentment and hostility among the civilian population. So far, counterinsurgency has succeeded only in creating a never-ending demand for the primary product supplied by the military: perpetual war. There is a reason that President Obama studiously avoids using the word "victory" when he talks about Afghanistan. Winning, it would seem, is not really possible. Not even with Stanley McChrystal in charge.

This article appears in in RS 1108/1109 from July 8-22, 2010, on newsstands Friday, June 25.

These are the jobs Obama created for us? Well Obama lied about the jobs being created by HIM! Actually they were created by the folks who wrote the Constitution 200+ years ago and decided to have a census every 10 years to calculate how many seats in the House each state gets.

But of course like most politicians Obama will lie and say anything to get elected or re-elected.


Census layoffs drag payrolls down 125K; jobless rate falls

By Paul Davidson, USA TODAY

Employers cut 125,000 jobs in June as many temporary U.S. Census workers were laid off while the more critical private sector added a fewer-than-expected 83,000 jobs, the Labor Department said Friday in a report that points to a continuing but sluggish recovery.

The jobless rate fell to 9.5% from 9.7% in May but only because 652,000 Americans left the labor force, including many discouraged workers who gave up hunting for jobs.

The private-sector jobs gains — spurred by additions in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and temporary staffing — fell short of the 110,000 projected by economists. But after recent dismal reports on consumer confidence, housing and retail sales that left some economists worrying the nation was slipping back into recession, Friday's news served as mild relief.

"There's no double dip (recession)," says Wells Fargo Chief Economist John Silvia. "We have an economic recovery, but it's certainly not living up to people's expectations."

The 125,000 net job losses resulted from an anticipated 225,000 cuts of temporary Census workers. The 83,000 private-sector jobs gains marked a rebound from the disappointing 33,000 additions in May but a drop from the 119,000 average monthly gains in the second quarter.

"It certainly does raise the possibility that the momentum has turned down again going into the third quarter," says James O'Sullivan, chief economist of MF Global.

The economy and stock market have been buffeted recently by the financial crisis in Europe and the expiration of an $8,000 tax credit for home buyers.

O'Sullivan, who has been bullish on job growth, says he may downgrade his predictions for monthly additions to about 150,000 in the second half from 175,000 to 200,000. Silvia is more cautious, projecting about 100,000 new jobs a month. The economy typically must add that amount simply to keep the jobless rate from rising.

Another disappointing sign: the average number of hours worked by private-sector employees dipped to 34.1 from 34.2 after rising fairly steadily since October. Employers typically increase the hours of part-time employees before hiring new full-time workers. Also, average hourly earnings slipped to $22.53 from $22.55 in May.

Still, total hours worked in the second quarter rose at an annualized pace of 3.3% in the second quarter.

Also worrisome is that a near-record number of Americans — 6.7 million or 45.5% of all those out of work — were unemployed at least six months, though the total dipped slightly for the first time in months. The long-term unemployed typically find it even harder to find work as time goes on.

A possible good sign: the number of people working part time because they couldn't find full-time work edged down by 182,000 and is down 525,000 the past two months. The drop pushed down the underemployment rate — which also includes discouraged workers who have stopped looking for work and those who are unemployed — to 16.5% from 16.6% in May.

Also heartening is the addition of 21,000 temporary workers in June and 379,000 since September. Employers generally beef up temporary staff before hiring permanent employees.

Among other industries, professional and business services added 46,000 jobs. The leisure and hospitality industries added 37,000 positions, transportation and warehousing added 14,600. Manufacturing, meanwhile hired a net additional 9,000 workers; that's down from recent months but the sector had added 136,000 jobs since December.

Yet construction continues to lag, with companies cutting 22,000 jobs. And retailers chopped 6,600 slots, financial firms sliced 15,000 and state and local government cut 10,000.

Jeff Kleintop, chief market strategist for LPL Financial, says retailers might be bracing for fewer sales after Congress recently failed to extend unemployment benefits for many Americans.

Obama, Hitler, Bush? What's the difference?

"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."
H. L. Mencken
H. L. Mencken was born years before Obama was a child and his statements are still true on this matter.

Hey ain't a dimes difference between Obama and Bush. And I think Bush is pretty much the same as Hitler, Stalin or Mao! So what's the big deal with linking Obama to them? I guess because our government rulers don't want us thinking we are no different then the serfs that were ruled by Hitler, Stalin, Mao, King George and other tyrants.

Sure Obama hasn't kill 6 millions Jews. But him and his predecessor George W. Bush have murdered 100,000+ Iraqi and Afghanistan civilians! Does that number have to hit 6 million before we say bad things about Obama?

A lot of people seem to say your a racist if you don't like Obama.

But what's the big deal. A government tyrant is still a government tyrant regardless of the color of his skin. And of course Obama is just a Black Democrat who continues the illegal, unconstitutional and immoral government policies of George W. Bush who was a White Republican government tyrant.

Obama, Hitler, Stalin


Billboard linking Obama, Hitler draws complaints


By LUKE MEREDITH, Associated Press Writer Luke Meredith, Associated Press Writer – Tue Jul 13, 10:30 pm ET

DES MOINES, Iowa – A billboard created by an Iowa tea party group that compares President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin is drawing sharp criticism — even from fellow tea party activists who have condemned it as offensive and a waste of money.

The North Iowa Tea Party began displaying the billboard in downtown Mason City last week. The sign shows large photographs of Obama, Nazi leader Hitler and communist leader Lenin beneath the labels "Democrat Socialism," "National Socialism," and "Marxist Socialism."

Beneath the photos is the phrase, "Radical leaders prey on the fearful & naive."

The co-founder of the roughly 200-person group said the billboard was intended to send an anti-socialist message. But Bob Johnson admitted Tuesday that the message may have gotten lost amid the images of fascist and communist leaders.

"The purpose of the billboard was to draw attention to the socialism. It seems to have been lost in the visuals," Johnson said. "The pictures overwhelmed the message. The message is socialism." He said he didn't know of any plans to remove the sign.

But others in the tea party movement criticized the sign.

"That's just a waste of money, time, resources and it's not going to further our cause," said Shelby Blakely, a leaders of the Tea Party Patriots, a national group. "It's not going to help our cause. It's going to make people think that the tea party is full of a bunch of right-wing fringe people, and that's not true."

Blakely also expressed outrage at linking Obama to Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany who oversaw the killing of 6 million Jews and whose invasions of neighboring countries led to World War II.

"When you compare Obama to Hitler, that to me does a disservice to the Jews who both survived and died in the Holocaust and to the Germans who lived under Nazi regime rule," Blakely said.

John White, an Iowa coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, said that he can understand the North Iowa group's perception that Obama is "Hitler-esque," but he thinks the billboard is offensive and unproductive. White said that he planned to discuss the matter with national tea party officials.

"I fear they may end up in some kind of trouble over it, because it's basically slanderous," White said. "I don't know that it's the message we want to send. I'd much rather see billboards that say 'Remember in November. Get Out and Vote.'"

The billboard is owned by Waitt Outdoor of Omaha, Neb. Waitt general manager, Kent Beatty, said the company didn't have a problem with the message.

"We believe in freedom of speech," Beatty said. "It doesn't reflect our views, necessarily."

The White House declined to comment on the sign.

One person who welcomed the billboard was Dean Genth, a Democratic activist from Mason City, a city of 30,000 people just south of the Minnesota border, who said he thinks the sign lays bare the views of tea party supporters.

"I welcome them to continue to spew that kind of stuff because I think it's going to do a lot of good for the good Democrats around the state," Genth said.


Associated Press writer Julie Pace in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

Obama is just a Democratic clone of Bush! A politer nicer government tyrant who shakes your hand as he steals the money out of your wallet!


Poll: Obama's support fading in Arizona

Posted: Sunday, July 18, 2010 6:13 pm | Updated: 9:35 pm, Sun Jul 18, 2010.

Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

Most Arizonans no longer think Barack Obama is doing a decent job as president.

A new Behavior Research Poll released Sunday shows that nearly four out of every 10 Arizonans now rate Obama's performance as poor or very poor. That is up just 5 points from the same survey taken in January.

But what's different is that the number of those who think he is doing an excellent or good job has plummeted.

Three months after taking office, fully 51 percent of Arizonans gave him positive ratings, even though the state went for hometown favorite John McCain in the 2008 election. A year into office, that had slid to 40 percent. But by the time pollster Earl de Berge did this latest survey between June 30 and July 11, only 28 percent of Arizonans were willing to say they like the job he is doing.

According to de Berge, much of that slide tracks with a separate poll he does asking Arizonans about their views on the economy and current job market conditions.

"As might be expected, those who think the job market is static or worsening have the least favorable view of his performance,'' de Berge said.

But the survey also was taken about the time it became clear that the Department of Justice, asked to look at Arizona's new immigration law, intended to file suit. In fact, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an interview with a television station in Ecuador, spilled the beans early in June.

That all became official when the Obama administration went to federal court on July 6 -- right in the middle of the polling -- asking a judge to block the statute from taking effect as scheduled July 26.

The law, which spells out when police have to ask those they have stopped about their immigration status, is popular in Arizona, with every survey showing it is backed by more than half of state residents.

Obama is still maintaining his popularity with Democrats, 52 percent of whom still have a positive assessment of the job he is doing. Still, that's down from 85 percent in April of 2009.

But his positive ratings among independents, which was 54 percent in that first post-election survey, now has dropped to just 22 percent. And a scant 8 percent of Republicans now score his performance as excellent or good.

The survey of 800 adult heads of households has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

The Behavior Research Poll results closely mirror the latest national Rasmussen Reports survey released Sunday which, asking a slightly different question, found that 27 percent of voters nationwide approve of the job the president is doing while 43 percent strongly disapprove.

Obama job performance ratings



Time Excellent/goodNet positive to negative
July 2010 28% (11%)
January 2010 40% +5%
September 2009 45% +14%
April 2009 51% +31%

(negative numbers in parentheses)

-- Source: Behavior Research Center

NOAA is helping Obama get reelected in 2012?

The oil is all gone and you can thank Obama for getting rid of it. Honest! Well at least that is what Obama is having the NOAA tell us.


NOAA says the oil is mostly gone

Critics of report call it more spin than science

by Seth Borenstein - Aug. 5, 2010 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - With a startling report that some researchers call more spin than science, the government said Wednesday that the mess made by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is mostly gone already.

On the same day they trumpeted success in plugging up the leaking well with drilling mud, federal officials announced that nearly 70 percent of the oil spilled dissolved naturally, or was burned, skimmed, dispersed or captured, with almost nothing left to see - at least on top of the water.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey announced in the five-page report that only 52.7 million gallons of oil are left in the Gulf. That is about 31 percent of the 172 million gallons that spewed into the water from the broken BP well.

Just because the oil is out of sight doesn't mean the Gulf is out of harm's way, federal scientists emphasized. And what's left in the water is still almost five times the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez in 1989.

Nevertheless, Wednesday was a day of cautious celebration by a White House that has had little to cheer about from the oil spill.

"I think it is fairly safe to say ... that many of the doomsday scenarios that we talked about and repeated a lot have not and will not come to fruition," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said at a briefing with NOAA's top scientist.

Much of the reasoning behind the disappearing oil has to do with the natural resilience of the Gulf, which is teeming with microbes that eat oil. On top of that is the natural tendency of oil in seawater to evaporate and dissolve to half its volume in about a week - something even critics acknowledge.

The federal calculations are based on direct measurements for only 18 million gallons of the oil spilled - the stuff burned and skimmed. The other numbers are "educated scientific guesses," said NOAA emergency response senior scientist Bill Lehr, an author of the report. That is because it is impossible to measure oil that is dispersed, he said.

That's what worries some outside scientists.

"This is a shaky report. The more I read it, the less satisfied I am with the thoroughness of the presentation," Florida State University oceanography Professor Ian MacDonald said. "There are sweeping assumptions here."

NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco acknowledged the numbers could be off by as much as 10 percent. One of the scientists who peer-reviewed the work and is mentioned in the report, Ed Overton of Louisiana State University, said he wasn't comfortable with NOAA's putting precise percentages of how much oil is left in the Gulf. What would be more accurate would be a much broader range of, say, 40 million to 60 million gallons, he said.

Still, Overton thought the report was mostly good work. He said the Gulf itself deserves much of the credit, describing the body of water in two words: "incredibly resilient."

The White House claimed only 26 percent of the oil remained in the Gulf, but that was based on a 206-million-gallon figure for the spill that included oil that spewed from the pipe but was captured by BP and never got into the Gulf. Using the 172 million gallons that got into the Gulf, 31 percent of the oil remains.

So what happened to the oil?

Thank nature more than the federal government. Burning, skimming and chemically dispersing the spill got rid of 35 million gallons of oil, while natural processes of dispersion, evaporation and dissolving got rid of 84 million gallons, according to the report.

"Mother Nature is assisting here considerably," Lubchenco said. She cautioned that the oil that's left can harm wildlife for years or even decades to come, saying: "Diluted and out of sight doesn't necessarily mean benign."

Still, outside scientists said this was a just too-simple explanation for a complex oil spill that has confounded federal scientists at every turn.

"This is just way too neat," said Larry McKinney, director of the Texas A&M University research center on the Gulf of Mexico. "How can you even do this at this point? There's a lot of oil still floating out there."

McKinney said he most worried that this overly optimistic assessment would cost the government - and save BP - billions of dollars in the damage-assessment process. McKinney, who has served as a Texas trustee in the process, said, "BP attorneys are placing this in plastic and putting this in frames."

White House energy adviser Carol Browner said, "We are going to continue to ensure BP is held accountable for damage they did."

I suspect this trip is to convince us that Obama fixed the BP oil well leak and we should reelect him in 2012? One question is why didn't Obama go to one of the beaches in a state that was badly hit by the oil spill like Louisiana? The oil spill hardly touched Florida. I'm sorry, I forgot, when it comes to getting reelected we have to forget about the facts and remember what was supposed to have happened as opposed to what actually happened!


Obamas make quick trip to promote Gulf Coast


By JULIE PACE, Associated Press Writer Julie Pace, Associated Press Writer

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. – With a quick family trip to the Gulf Coast, President Barack Obama is offering his personal assurance that the region is a safe, clean vacation destination despite the massive oil spill.

Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, daughter Sasha and family dog Bo arrived Saturday for a 27-hour stop in the Florida Panhandle. As many residents here had hoped, Obama took Sasha for a swim in the Gulf waters that have absorbed 200 million gallons of oil since an offshore rig exploded in April.

The Obamas' other daughter, Malia, is at summer camp.

"Beaches all along the Gulf Coast are clean, they are safe, and they are open for business," said Obama.

The president's dip happened away from the media. The White House released an official photo, but The Associated Press does not publish such handout images. According to the White House, the Obamas swam off Alligator Point, which is in Saint Andrew Bay, not the Gulf.

The first family spent much of the day at their beachfront hotel, venturing to Lime's Bayside Bar & Grill, where they relaxed on an outdoor deck overlooking the water and ate a lunch of fish tacos, chicken tenders and burgers. They later headed into town for a round of miniature golf, where 9-year-old Sasha stole the show with a hole-in-one off the first tee. The family was to return to Washington Sunday evening.

The White House scheduled the trip after facing criticism that the president wasn't heeding his own advice that Americans vacation in the Gulf. Obama vacationed in North Carolina this spring, Maine earlier this summer, and will head to Martha's Vineyard, off the Massachusetts coast, later in August. Mrs. Obama also traveled to Spain this month with Sasha.

Although only 16 of the 180 beaches in the western part of the Panhandle were affected by the spill, tourism officials say many potential visitors have stayed away, deterred by images of oil-slicked waters and tarball-strewn beaches in other parts of the region.

Though the oil may no longer be spewing from BP's offshore oil rig that exploded April 20, Obama told residents here that there is still much work to be done, and promised the federal government would not abandon them.

"I'm here to tell you that our job is not finished and we are not going anywhere until it is," Obama said.

Meantime, the government's point man on the Gulf spill said he wants additional testing before he orders BP to finish drilling a relief well that will allow the oil giant to plug the well for good.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen told reporters it could be late Monday or early Tuesday before officials know the results of those tests.

That means it would be Tuesday at the earliest before he gives his final order to proceed with the relief well, and next weekend at the earliest before the damaged well would be plugged for good.

The Emperor won't let you take a photo of him shirtless


White House keeps photographers from shirtless Obama

By Michael Calderone

Mon Aug 16, 11:27 am ET

President Obama didn't want this weekend's getaway to Florida's Gulf Coast to be a repeat of past beach trips, where the media spent days commenting on his toned physique. When press photographers snapped the president elect baring his upper torso during a Hawaii beach vacation in late 2008, for instance, Webby pandemonium ensued.

But the White House took measures this time out. "I'm not going to let you guys take a picture of me with my shirt off," he told CNN's Ed Henry on Saturday. For this trip, the Obama administration wanted media attention focused on the region's recovery from the disastrous BP oil spill, not on his pec-profile.

And that remained the game plan for press handlers throughout the weekend. The White House press team kept photographers at a distance when Obama took a dip during the family's weekend trip to Florida.

The New York Times reports that photographers traveling with the president "were led into a hotel by the White House staff and remained there for about three hours while Mr. Obama swam."

The White House released one photo on Flickr, but it isn't as "pec-tacular"as previous shots that landed on the covers of newspapers and magazines, and subsequently fueled hours of chatter from cable news hosts. (See the comparatively more tame Flickr shot, by White House photographer Pete Souza, above).

Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told the Times that it was simply easier logistically to rely on the White House photographer.

It's not the first time the White House has rankled news photographers by distributing an official picture instead of allowing them to take their own shots. Just as news organizations don't run White House press releases verbatim, some outlets refuse to run official photos along with their editorial content.

Michael Oreskes, the Associated Press's managing editor for U.S. News, described White House-distributed photos as "visual press releases" to me back in January 2009. The AP, then and now, has refused to send such photos over the wire.

The issue continues to come up within the press corps. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs discussed it with members of the White House Correspondents Association this past April, too. "We talked extensively about access, particularly around the use of official photos" he later told the Upshot.

I think we should call him King Obama or Emperor Obama, after all the sun never sets on the American Empire!


Obama doesn't travel light -- even on vacation

Posted 8/22/2010 8:04 AM ET

By Glen Johnson, Associated Press Writer

VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. — President Barack Obama had a simple task for his first morning on vacation: shoot over to a Martha's Vineyard bookstore to fill out his daughters' summer reading list and grab himself a novel.

Easier said than done.

His 20-vehicle motorcade passed through a cordon of police motorcycle officers, in a protective cocoon of Secret Service agents. Tagging along for the quick trip Friday were White House communications trucks, an ambulance and two vans full of reporters and photographers.

It was the same drill Saturday when he went to the beach for a picnic lunch with his family.

This may be down time for Obama, but like all modern presidents he must move about with a not insignificant entourage. It includes security officers and their array of arms, as well as advisers, friends in and out of politics, and a cook who doubles as a golfing buddy.

"They all have it and they all hate it," said Ron Kaufman, political director for former President George H.W. Bush. "Every president that I know has been accused of taking off too much time and ignoring the responsibilities of their job. But the truth is, they never get away from it."

Obama aides said before the Massachusetts trip that the president would travel light, with a skeleton staff. Accompanying him on Air Force One were senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and his counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan.

Brennan, who wants to give the president his space while on vacation, briefed Obama on national security issues during the first day on the trip. Brennan also said he would rely on the phone and e-mail to provide other updates not requiring a visit to Blue Heron Farm, the 30-acre property the Obama family was using.

"Communication systems are very robust. We can move information at the speed of light," said Brennan. "If there were to be some type of event that would require immediate engagement with the president, I am certain I can do it as quickly as I could do back in Washington."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was taking his own vacation during the president's 10-day break. Other top aides, including chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and political strategist David Axelrod, were nowhere in sight.

Deputy press secretary Bill Burton was among the traveling party. In a nod to the more casual tone, he brought along his wife.

Obama, Palin, Rush Limbaugh and George W. Bush are cousins

Obama, Palin are cousins, genealogists say


Obama, Palin are cousins, genealogists say

by Natasha Lennard - Oct. 13, 2010 10:15 AM

It's a plot twist worthy of Dickens: Fierce political rivals in the midst of a contentious battle discover they are, in fact, related.

No, really. On Wednesday, — the world's largest online family history resource — revealed that Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are actually cousins.

The relationship is, however, distant. Obama and Palin are 10th cousins through a common ancestor named John Smith — who settled in Massachusetts in the mid-17th century. And there's more: Palin isn't Obama's only surprising relative. In the course of its research, the genealogy company also discovered that POTUS shares an ancestor with his vociferous critic (and newly discovered 10th cousin once removed), Rush Limbaugh, and is 11th cousins with George W. Bush. (In case you are wondering: Bush and Palin are also 11th cousins, according to the site.)

Researchers at used historical records and documents to glean these findings.

At first glance, it seems that if such a broad spectrum of political figures are related to each other from a similar distance (10th or 11th cousins), such a connection could be shared by just about any two people with any early ancestors in this country at all. POLITICO spoke with Anastasia Tyler, a genealogist with, to find out the significance of these far-reaching family tree branches.

"If you think about it, the president and Sarah Palin share an ancestor in the mid-1600s. That's not that long ago. Sure, a number of people with American roots will also share this ancestor, but not everybody," Tyler told POLITICO.

Don't look too deeply: was hardly trying to make a big point. "We were looking at political main players as just another way to show how family history is interesting," she said. (Last year, in fact, the site noted that POTUS had links to billionaire Warren Buffett as well.)

The takeaway? "Obama has a very diverse family tree," she said, "just like America."

Obama has screwed over almost every group that supported him. Obama lied about ending the war in Iraq. Obama lied about supporting medical marijuana in California. Obama lied about supporting gays in the military. Obama lied about supporting amnesty for illegal Latino workers in the US. Obama lied about vetoing any and all pork bills. And now Obama plans to f*ck over the voters of California if they legalize marijuna. Obama is a tyrant just like Bush!


Feds oppose legalizing pot in Calif.

by Pete Yost - Oct. 15, 2010 07:33 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Eric Holder says the federal government will enforce its marijuana laws in California even if the state's voters approve a ballot measure to legalize the drug.

Holder says the Justice Department strongly opposes California's Proposition 19 and remains firmly committed to enforcing the federal Controlled Substances Act in all states.

He made the comments in a letter to former chiefs of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter, dated Wednesday.

"We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law," Holder wrote.

He also said that legalizing recreational marijuana in California would be a "significant impediment" to the government's joint efforts with state and local law enforcement to target drug traffickers, who often distribute marijuana alongside cocaine and other drugs. Holder said approval of the ballot measure would "significantly undermine" efforts to keep California communities safe.

If Proposition 19 passes in November, California would become the first state to legalize and regulate recreational pot use. Adults could possess up to one ounce of the drug.

California already allows medical marijuana.

This is like a teenager telling you he won't drive drunk if you give him the keys to the Corvette and a couple cases of beer. Or a priest telling you that you can trust him with your kids for an overnight sleep over.

Yea sure Obama is going to try and cut the Federal deficit! He isn't going to steal one more dime from us if we keep his gang of Democratic crooks in power.

OK lets face it Obama is out shoveling the BS trying to help his fellow Democrats to get elected and will make up any lie to keep this gang of theives in power.

I am sorry if I offended any of the Republican crooks by not saying that you guys steal just as good as your fellow Democrats. Your pretty much the same gang of theives. Maybe we should call you Demapublicans or is it Repubicrats?


President Barack Obama likely to focus on deficit

Must work with GOP in new term to cut spending

by Ben Feller - Oct. 25, 2010 12:00 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Preparing for political life after a bruising election, President Barack Obama will put greater emphasis on fiscal discipline, a nod to a nation sick of spending and to a Congress poised to become more Republican, conservative and determined to stop him.

He is already giving clues about how he will govern in the last two years of his term.

Obama will try to make gains on deficit reduction, education and energy. He will enforce his health-care and financial overhauls and try to protect them from repeal should Republicans win control of Capitol Hill. He will use executive authority when blocked by Congress, and steel for scrutiny and investigations if the GOP is in charge.

While trying to save money, Obama will have to decide whether to bend to Republican and growing Democratic pressure to extend Bush-era tax cuts, even for the wealthy, that expire at year's end. Obama wants to extend them for people making less than $200,000 and married couples making less than $250,000, but a broader extension is gaining favor with an increasing number of Democrats.

Moving to the fore will be a more serious focus on how to balance the federal budget and pay for the programs that keep sinking the country into debt.

In other times, that discussion might seem like dry Washington talk. Not now. People are fed up with federal spending, particularly as many remain jobless.

The White House refuses to talk about how the president will have to adjust his style or goals if power in Congress tilts right, for fear of undermining what Obama is still campaigning hard to do: keep Democrats in power. There is no conceding as Obama recruits voters and rallies supporters all the way to Nov. 2. [I guess his message is Trust me, we are not going to do the things we have done in the past if you reelect us - Honest - Trust us again!]

Yet if polls and analysts are on target, Republicans are poised to win big, possibly taking control of the House and gaining seats in the Senate, where Obama's party already lacks the votes to overcome bill-killing delay tactics. Obama probably will operate in an environment with even fewer moderate Republicans.

The president has signaled that at the start of the new year, he will speak more directly to the country about the financial choices ahead. "If we're going to get serious about the deficit, then we're going to have to look at everything: entitlements, defense spending, revenues. ... And that's going to be a tough conversation," he said. [Shoveling the BS deeper and deeper eh!!!]

It's one that will be framed by a bipartisan debt commission, whose ideas this December will give Obama political cover on where to suggest unpopular cuts.

Obama says the most frustrating part of his presidency is that he had to keep spending money and adding to the deficit in his first six months in office "to save the economy." He has from the start called deficit reduction a goal, but one that had to get bumped in favor of sparking the economy. [He "had to"? Was somebody pointing a gun at his head forcing him to spend, spend, spend? Where were the Secret Service thugs that protect him?]

Almost 60 percent of likely voters now say cutting the yearly budget shortfall is the priority, even if that means the government can't spend on new education programs, develop alternative-energy sources or enact his health-care overhaul or alternative-energy policies, an Associated Press-GfK poll found.

Obama defends the huge economic-stimulus plan and the bailout of U.S. automakers, and doesn't blame people for getting tired of all the spending. But he does accuse Republicans of showing a lack of genuineness about fixing the systemic problems that have driven up the debt long before he won the White House.

And there rests the true trouble.

Even though Obama and the Republicans ostensibly share the goals of reducing debt and creating jobs, they disagree fundamentally on their approaches. That problem appears to be worsened by the lack of a serious working relationship among the leaders. Newly empowered Republicans and a Democratic president seeking re-election may both pay the price.

"It's going to be very hard to find common ground," said James Thurber, a professor of government at American University.

House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said if Obama and his team are going to work with the new Congress, then they must accept the end of government stimulus efforts as a means for creating jobs.

"They're going to have to signal some kind of willingness to work with Republicans to cut spending," Boehner said.

"Cutting government spending is what the American people want, and it's an approach neither party has tried yet."

WikiLeaks docs seems to say Obama is a liar about not torturing

What else is new? Obama lied about decriminalizing pot, about ending the Iraq war, about giving gays the same rights as straights, about cutting pork, about don't ask, don't tell.


WikiLeaks docs raise questions of Obama policies

Posted 10/26/2010

By Raphael G. Satter And Paisley Dodds, Associated Press Writers

LONDON — President Barack Obama stepped into the White House pledging to end George W. Bush's gloves-off approach to interrogations and detention -- but a flood of leaked documents suggests that some old habits were hard to break.

Field reports from the Iraq war published by WikiLeaks show that, despite Obama's public commitment to eschew torture, U.S. forces turned detainees over to Iraqi forces even after signs of abuse.

Documents also show that U.S. interrogators continued to question Iraqi detainees, some of whom were still recovering from injuries or whose wounds were still visible after being held by Iraqi security forces.

"We have not turned a blind eye," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Monday, noting that one of the reasons why U.S. troops were still in Iraq was to carry out human rights training with Iraqi security forces. "Our troops were obligated to report abuses to appropriate authorities and to follow up, and they did so in Iraq."

Crowley added, "If there needs to be an accounting, first and foremost there needs to be an accounting by the Iraqi government itself, and how it has treated its own citizens."

Obama signed three executive orders shortly after taking office, vowing to return America to the "moral high ground" in the war on terrorism.

The implication was that the United States would do more to make sure terror suspects weren't tortured or abused -- either at the hands of U.S. forces or by governing authorities to whom the detainees were handed over for detention or interrogation.

WikiLeaks recently published almost 400,000 U.S. military logs, mainly written by soldiers on the ground, detailing daily carnage in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion: detainees abused by Iraqi forces, insurgent bombings, sectarian executions and civilians shot at checkpoints by U.S. troops.

In one leaked document from a U.S. military intelligence report filed Feb. 9, 2009 -- just weeks after Obama ordered U.S. personnel to comply with the Geneva Conventions -- an Iraqi says he was detained by coalition forces at his Baghdad home and told he would be sent to the Iraqi army if he didn't cooperate. According to the document, the detainee was then handed over to Iraqis where he said he was beaten and given electric shocks.

U.S. interrogators also cleared detainees for questioning, despite signs that they had suffered abuse from Iraqi security forces, the documents show.

One report by a U.S. interrogation detention team based in Baghdad on April 2, 2009, summarizes claims made by a prisoner who said he was hog tied and beaten with a shovel as part of dayslong torture ordeal at the hands of the Iraqi army. The report noted he had a catalog of "minor injuries," including "rope burns on the back of his legs and a possible busted ear drum."

A second report from April 2009 describes an Iraqi detainee as being covered in bruises and a scar from being bludgeoned with a pickax.

In both cases, the men were still cleared for U.S. interrogations, which international lawyers say is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

A fourth report in May of 2009 goes even farther. "There are indications of abuse. Detainee has been medically cleared for interrogation," the document reads.

The field reports also showed that there were signs of abuse upon regular inspections of Iraqi police stations and holding facilities, raising questions about whether detainees were still turned over to the same authorities.

A U.S. military police brigade filed a report in May last year saying they had discovered two wounded Iraqi prisoners, one of whom said he had been so badly beaten he was urinating blood. An American officer tried to get the men some medical attention, but the Iraqis allegedly refused.

One report, filed in September of 2009, described how American forces inspecting an Iraqi army facility found a detainee with two black eyes, scabs, bruises, and what the report described as a neck that had turned "red/yellow."

The report said the detainee was given electric shocks to elicit a confession. The Iraqis claimed he suffered the injuries while trying to escape.

The Pentagon has condemned WikiLeaks for publishing the documents, saying that U.S. and Iraqi lives could be put at risk -- an allegation that WikiLeaks has dismissed. On Monday, founder Julian Assange defended his decision, swatting away suggestions that the leaked intelligence was of historical interest.

"Certainly for Iraqis this war is not history," said Assange.

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Saturday attacked the leak as an attempt to malign him and stir tension.

While there's no proof in any of the files that the U.S. or its allies directly mistreated detainees, there were at least four allegations where coalition troops were accused of prisoner abuse after Obama signed his executive order.

One of those incidents occurred last year in Mosul, Iraq, when a soldier allegedly choked a detainee and threatened to kill his family. A fifth report states that a detainee was "kicked around for several moments" while awaiting transfer from U.S. custody.

In Washington, the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Obama's 2009 executive order banning torture resulted in any different instructions to U.S. forces in Iraq.

"This is official evidence that there was a cover-up of crimes, either by turning suspects over or torturing them directly," Dan Ellsberg, who is credited for leaking the 1971 Pentagon Papers that exposed secrets about the Vietnam War, told The Associated Press on Monday night.

But Ellsberg said he wasn't sure the leak would have much of an impact -- either in Iraq or in the United States. Coverage of the documents has been widespread in Europe where public opinion against the Iraq war swelled for years.

"The truth is the Pentagon Papers did affect public opinion. It did not affect Nixon's policy," Ellsberg said. "I don't have confidence that even a massive change of public opinion will have an effect, but even if there is a small chance it could change policy it is worth it."


Associated Press Writers Anne Gearan and Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Washington.

White House considers Yemen drone strikes

Screw the Constitutional thingy about the President getting Congress to declare. He ain't the President he is the Emperor and the American Emperor can do anything he wants! Hiel Hitler!


White House considers Yemen drone strikes, officials say

By David S. Cloud, Tribune Washington Bureau

11:53 p.m. CST, November 7, 2010

Reporting from Washington — The Obama administration is debating a plan to begin drone strikes against militants in remote areas of Yemen, a move that would represent a major escalation of U.S. involvement there, according to two U.S. officials.

Use of missile strikes by unmanned drones is one of several options that administration officials have been discussing in recent days in response to an attempt by militants in Yemen to place explosives on cargo jets bound for the U.S. two weeks ago, the officials said.

The U.S. has been flying unmanned aircraft over Yemen since earlier this year, but the drones have been used for surveillance and not for attacking militants who have taken refuge in the country's rugged hinterlands.

The option under consideration by the White House would escalate the effort, enlisting Yemeni government support for drone strikes and developing more intelligence sources about where militants are hiding, the officials said.

The plan, along with other options, is expected to be debated by senior officials in coming weeks. The two U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions.

A senior Obama administration official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said Sunday that the U.S. was "engaged in a robust dialogue with the Yemeni government about a range of things, and have been even before the recent events."

The prospect that the strikes would go forward remains unclear. Winning Yemeni approval for airstrikes carried out exclusively by the U.S. could prove difficult.

In a rare admission Sunday, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abubakr Qirbi told CNN that U.S. drones were used in "surveillance operations" and there was "intelligence information that is exchanged about the location of the terrorists by the Americans."

But in a sign of the sensitivity Yemen feels about allowing U.S. military operations, he said that recent airstrikes against militant hide-outs had been conducted by the Yemeni air force.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that the U.S. had been flying drones over Yemen for several months but had not fired any missiles because it lacked sufficient intelligence on militants' locations.

It has not previously been reported that the Obama administration is considering seeking the approval of the Yemeni government to launch such strikes. CIA officials declined to comment Sunday night.

The discovery last month of a plot to blow up airliners with bombs hidden inside computer printers has forced officials to reassess the U.S. approach in Yemen, amid growing evidence that an Al Qaeda faction in the Arabian Peninsula is intent on attacking the U.S. and its allies.

But the use of drone strikes in Yemen carries risks, including the possibility that an escalation of the campaign could worsen unrest within Yemen, especially among tribes that are giving sanctuary to militants. Such a move could also weaken Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose grip on power is showing signs of slippage.

If a campaign of drone strikes begins, the U.S. also would have to be careful not to be maneuvered by Saleh into going after his opponents among Yemen's powerful tribes.

Enlisting the support of Saleh is considered vital before deciding whether to proceed, the two U.S. officials said, because he has shown a willingness to break off cooperation if the U.S. undertakes operations on Yemeni territory without his approval.

If approved, U.S. involvement in Yemen could come to resemble its effort in Pakistan, where the CIA has been carrying out an escalating campaign of drone strikes against militants in the tribal areas, with unacknowledged assistance from the Pakistani government.

The effort in Yemen is unlikely to ever reach the scale as the one in Pakistan, where multiple strikes have been occurring every week. There are believed to be fewer militants in Yemen and far fewer drones available, since most of the CIA's resources are focused on Pakistan.

One of the issues U.S. officials are debating is whether Pentagon equipment and personnel should be placed under CIA control for the purpose of carrying out an expanded covert program in Yemen, the two officials said.

The U.S. has been providing equipment and training to Yemeni armed forces, and a small number of U.S. Special Forces troops are in the country to assist with the effort and with developing intelligence on the whereabouts of militants.

But administration officials have decided that the growing threat from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of Al Qaeda that is believed to be responsible for the latest plot, requires ramping up U.S. covert operations, the officials said.

Until now, the relatively small number of attempts by the U.S. and the Yemeni government to kill militants in Yemen have been carried out by other means — either by bombs dropped from conventional aircraft or cruise missiles fired from U.S. Navy vessels. In other cases, Yemeni security forces have undertaken ground operations against suspected militant hide-outs.

U.S. Predator and Reaper drones are considered likely to produce better results because they can linger unseen for hours over a single location to gather intelligence and can immediately respond when an opportunity arises to fire a missile. Drone strikes are also considered more precise than other airstrikes and thus less likely to cause civilian casualties.

In his only public comments, President Obama on Oct. 29 emphasized the need to work cooperatively with Yemen's government.

"Going forward, we will continue to strengthen our cooperation with the Yemeni government to disrupt plotting by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and to destroy this Al Qaeda affiliate," Obama said. "We'll also continue our efforts to strengthen a more stable, secure and prosperous Yemen so that terrorist groups do not have the time and space they need to plan attacks from within its borders."

Forensic analysis of the cargo bombs indicated they were constructed by Ibrahim Hassan Asiri, a member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who is also believed to have built the devices used in two previous attempted attacks, including a failed effort to blow up a U.S. airliner in December.

Asiri is also believed to have built the bomb used by a suicide attacker last year against Saudi Arabia's intelligence director.

McCain looks bad in Bush's new book


McCain looks bad in Bush's new book

by James Hohman - Nov. 8, 2010 11:25 AM


Sen. John McCain never asked then-President George W. Bush to campaign for him in 2008, though Bush thinks he could have helped the Arizona senator.

In his forthcoming memoir, "Decision Points," Bush explores his "complex relationship" with McCain.

"I understood he had to establish his independence," Bush wrote. "I thought it looked defensive for John to distance himself from me. I was confident I could have helped him make his case. But the decision was his. I was disappointed I couldn't do more to help him."

The 43rd president suggests his opponent for the Republican nomination in 2000 blew an opportunity to capitalize politically on the financial crisis eight years later. Without saying it explicitly, Bush portrays then-Sen. Barack Obama as more presidential than McCain in his handling of the financial crisis.

Bush's approval rating bottomed out at 25 percent the week before the 2008 election. While he left office as one of the most unpopular presidents ever, Bush remained relatively popular with some elements of the GOP's conservative base. It was partly a need to shore up this right flank that pushed McCain toward elevating Sarah Palin from obscure Alaska governor to his running mate.

After Lehman Bros. filed for bankruptcy in September 2008, with the global economy on the verge of a meltdown, Bush thought McCain could turn the rotten economy to his advantage.

"Our party controlled the White House, so we were the natural target for the finger-pointing," he writes. "Yet, I thought the financial crisis gave John his best chance to mount a comeback. In periods of crisis, voters value experience and judgment over youth and charisma. By handling the challenge in a statesmanlike way, John could make the case that he was the better candidate for the times."

He didn't.

Instead, McCain called Bush on Sept. 24, a few hours before the president would deliver his nationally televised speech on the necessity of the Troubled Asset Relief Program bailouts, to demand he convene a White House meeting on the rescue package.

"I asked John how he was feeling about the campaign, but he went directly to the reason for his call," Bush said.

Bush asked him to hold off. He was worried that such a meeting would undercut Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's negotiations with congressional leaders. Indeed, none of Bush's top advisers were keen on calling a meeting.

McCain disregarded Bush's plea. He issued a statement calling for a meeting, went on TV just "minutes" after his call to Bush and "suspended" his campaign so he could work on the bill.

It proved a pivotal moment that allowed Obama to paint McCain as "erratic in crisis." It also forced Bush's hand, who felt like he didn't have a choice after McCain went public.

"I could see the headlines: 'Even Bush Thinks McCain's Idea Is a Bad One,'" he writes.

Meanwhile, Bush describes Obama as gracious.

"Anytime the president calls, I will take it," Bush quotes Obama saying, agreeing to interrupt his campaign to fly to Washington.

Before the sit-down in the Cabinet room, Bush had a private moment with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"She clearly suspected that my motive was to sabotage the Democrats," Bush recalls, reflecting on their conversation. "Like a volcano ready to erupt, she said, 'Barack Obama will be our spokesman.'" He describes Obama's "calm demeanor" during his conversation with the group. "I thought it was smart when he informed the gathering that he was in constant contact with Hank," Bush said. "His purpose was to show that he was aware, in touch, and prepared to help get a bill passed."

When Bush turned to McCain, the senator had nothing to say. He passed.

"I was puzzled," Bush wrote. "He had called for this meeting. I assumed he would come prepared to outline a way to get the bill passed." Toward the end of the meeting, McCain finally spoke. Bush complains that he spoke only "in general terms" about how hard it would be for Republicans to back the TARP bill. "What had started as a drama quickly descended into a farce," he concludes. "I was watching a verbal food fight, which would have been comical except that the stakes were so high. ... After everyone had their chance to vent, I decided there was nothing more we could accomplish." This account corroborates much of what Paulson already wrote in "On the Brink," his February memoir.

"McCain's comments were anticlimactic, to say the least," Paulson wrote. "His return to Washington was impulsive and risky, and I don't think he had a plan in mind."

Bush also notes disagreements with McCain on tax cuts, Medicare reform and terrorist interrogation. He expresses gratitude that McCain courageously backed the 2007 troop "surge" in Iraq, which ended up working.

"The surge gave him a chance to create distance between us, but he didn't take it," Bush said. The former president also thinks McCain's old age partly explains why he lost. "Like Dad in 1992 and Bob Dole in 1996, John McCain was on the wrong side of generational politics," he said. "Electing him would have meant skipping back a generation. By contrast, 47-year-old Barack Obama represented a generational step forward." McCain, now 74, easily won a fifth term this week. He was only 63 in 2000 when he upset Bush in the New Hampshire primary. In a bitter nomination battle, McCain ran an ad comparing Bush to President Bill Clinton in the South Carolina primary. "That crossed the line," Bush said. "I went on air to counterpunch." Hard feelings were eventually patched over, and McCain campaigned with Bush during the 2000 general and 2004 reelection.

Bush's much-anticipated book comes out Tuesday. POLITICO obtained a copy at a Washington bookstore.

In the two years since he left office, as Obama increasingly struggled to connect with swing voters, Bush has earned a second look from many Americans who soured on him after his 2004 victory. A Gallup Poll in July found that 45 percent of adults hold a favorable view of him, including 85 percent of Republicans.

All along, he has expressed confidence that the passage of time would validate his tenure and that historians would view him more favorably. The book, coming just a week after his party retook the House, is an important first step in Bush's efforts to rehabilitate his legacy.

Bush's 25 percent job approval rating during the week before the 2008 election essentially matched Richard Nixon's on the eve of his 1974 resignation.

"President Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon, once regarded as one of the worst mistakes in presidential history, is now viewed as a selfless act of leadership," Bush writes in the epilogue. "And it is quite something to hear the commentators who once denounced President Reagan as a dunce and warmonger talk about how the Great Communicator had won the Cold War."

It's called casting your mistakes in stone! - "On launching a war with Iraq, Bush expresses no hesitation when asked if he would make the same choice again"


As book tour starts, George W. Bush still confident in his decisions

By Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau

1:26 p.m. CST, November 8, 2010

Reporting from Washington — George W. Bush was conspicuously absent during the midterm election campaign, despite Democratic efforts to resurrect him as a political punching bag.

But on the eve of the release of his memoirs, the former president is back in the public eye in a big way, starting a publicity tour that includes a prime-time network special and a visit to Oprah's couch.

Excerpts from the book and interviews about it offer new insight into Bush's presidency, but show a familiar certainty and self-assuredness about the decisions he made.

On launching a war with Iraq, Bush expresses no hesitation when asked if he would make the same choice again, knowing all that he knows today.

"You just don't have the luxury when you're president," Bush tells NBC's Matt Lauer in an interview set to air Monday night. "I will say definitely the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power, as are 25 million people who now have a chance to live in freedom."

He acknowledges missteps, with the public response to Hurricane Katrina, for instance — a photo of him surveying the damage from Air Force One was a "huge mistake." But it was Kanye West's statement in a fundraising telethon that Bush didn't "care about black people" that he calls "one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency."

"My record was strong I felt when it came to race relations and giving people a chance. It was a disgusting moment."

Among revelations in Bush's book are a potential biological weapons attack on the White House just after the attacks of Sept. 11. The New York Times also reports from excerpts that Bush considered replacing Vice President Cheney on the ticket in his reelection bid, at Cheney's suggestion.

Bush also offers his thoughts on contemporary politics, telling Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity that the "tea party" movement is "a good thing for the country."

"It inspires me to know that our democracy still functions," he said in the interview, set to air Tuesday.

He also said he wishes his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, would run for president.

"He has made it clear he is not running in 2012," he said. "And when the man says, 'I'm not running,' he means it."

Beyond that, he says he's keeping out of politics — even when it comes to talking about his successor, or another potential White House hopeful — Sarah Palin.

"I am not a political pundit. I'm really not," he tells Oprah Winfrey. "A lot is gonna happen between now and the nominating process. I have no clue."

In the book and interviews, Bush dwells on his heavy drinking earlier in life, calling it “a love” that interfered with his family life. Bush quit drinking at the age of 40, about 10 years after receiving a drunk driving ticket that first became public weeks before the 2000 presidential election.

Once, he said, he was drunk at his parents’ dinner table, with his family and wife. “And I'm sitting next to a beautiful woman, a friend of Mother and Dad's,” he recalled. “And I said to her out loud, ‘What is sex like after 50?’”

The episode showed he was a “wiseass,” Bush told Lauer. Then, on his own 50th birthday, the same woman wrote to Bush when he was governor of Texas and asked if he had discovered the answer, the former president said.

As Bush's publicity tour rolls on, he also is set to break ground on his new presidential library in Dallas on Nov. 16. It is due to be completed in 2013.

Gee American Emperor Obama is in favor of executing people just like like American Emperor Bush was.

Everybody knows that George W. Bush was a bloodthirsty tyrant who enjoyed executing people. But Obama pretends to be a kinder gentler Emperor who is concerned about human rights. I guess Obama is a liar and hypocrite!


US rejects UN call to abolish death penalty

By FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press Frank Jordans, Associated Press

GENEVA – The United States dismissed international calls Tuesday to abolish the death penalty as friends and foes alike delivered their recommendations on how Washington can improve its human rights record.

U.S. State Department legal adviser Harold Koh said capital punishment was permitted under international law, brushing aside long-standing appeals by European countries and others to temporarily halt or completely abolish the death penalty, which critics say is inhumane and unfairly applied.

"While we respect those who make these recommendations, we note that they reflect continuing policy differences, not a genuine difference about what international law requires," Koh told the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council.

The call to abolish the death penalty was repeated throughout the list of 228 recommendations by other nations that formed part of the first comprehensive review of Washington's human rights record before the council.

Other nations also urged the U.S. to reduce overcrowding in prisons, ratify international treaties on the rights of women and children, and take further steps to prevent racial profiling.

Koh said the U.S. was committed to rooting out injustices and would seriously consider some of the recommendations, including one to sign a U.N. declaration on the rights of indigenous people.

But in response to recommendations made by adversaries such as Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, Koh said some proposals were "plainly intended as political provocations, and cannot be taken seriously." He didn't elaborate.

Civil society groups have praised the United States for involving them in the review process, which all U.N. member states have to undergo every four years.

"This international engagement must be followed by concrete domestic policies and actions and a commitment to fixing all domestic human rights abuses, not just the ones that are most convenient," the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's human rights program, Jamil Dakwar, said in a statement.



U.N. Universal Periodic Review:

Honest even Presidents lie! Check out this report Obama wrote!


Report: White House altered drilling safety report

Posted 11/10/2010 1:07 PM ET

By Dina Cappiello, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Interior Department's inspector general says the White House edited a drilling safety report in a way that made it falsely appear that scientists and experts supported the idea of the administration's six-month ban on new drilling.

The inspector general says the editing changes resulted "in the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer reviewed." But it hadn't been. The scientists were only asked to review new safety measures for offshore drilling.

"There was no intent to mislead the public," said Kendra Barkoff, a spokeswoman for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who also recommended in the May 27 safety report that a moratorium be placed on deepwater oil and gas exploration. "The decision to impose a temporary moratorium on deepwater drilling was made by the secretary, following consultation with colleagues including the White House."

The Interior Department, after one of the reviewers complained about the inference, promptly issued an apology to the reviewers during a conference call, with a letter and personal meeting in June.

The inspector general's report, which was originally requested by Louisiana Sen. David Vitter and Rep. Steve Scalise in June, said the administration did not violate federal rules because the executive summary did not say the experts approved the recommendations and the department offered a formal apology and had publicly clarified the nature of the expert review. [Hey Obama had his fingers crossed so it wasn't really lying - Honest!]

But Louisiana Rep. Bill Cassidy, a Republican, said in a statement that the investigation proved "that the blanket drilling moratorium was driven by a politics and not by science."

"Candidate Obama promised that he would guided by science, not ideology," Cassidy said. [Hey Obama promised lots of stuff. But he had his fingers crossed when he made all those promises. Obama only made the promises so he would be elected!] Cassidy said if that were true thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity would have been preserved on the Gulf coast.

The Web site Politico was first to report the inspector general's findings. The Associated Press on Wednesday obtained a copy of the report, which has not been publicly released.

U.S. OKs 1st use of tanks in Afghanistan

Obama is a war monger just like President George W. Bush!


U.S. OKs 1st use of tanks in Afghanistan

by Rajiv Chandrasekaran - Nov. 19, 2010 12:00 AM

Washington Post

The U.S. military is sending a contingent of heavily armored battle tanks to Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war, U.S. military officials said, a shift that signals a further escalation in the aggressive tactics that have been employed by American forces this fall to attack the Taliban.

The deployment of a company of M1 Abrams tanks, which will be fielded by the Marines in the country's southwest, will allow ground forces to target insurgents from a greater distance - and with more of a lethal punch - than is possible from any other U.S. military vehicle. The 68-ton tanks are propelled by a jet engine and equipped with a 120mm gun that can destroy a house more than a mile away.

Despite an overall counterinsurgency strategy that emphasizes the use of troops to protect Afghan civilians from insurgents, statistics released by the NATO military command in Kabul and interviews with several senior commanders indicate that U.S. troop operations over the past two months have been more intense and have had a harder edge than at any point since the initial 2001 drive to oust the Taliban government.

The pace of Special Operations missions to kill or capture Taliban leaders has more than tripled over the past three months. U.S. and NATO aircraft unleashed more bombs and missiles in October - 1,000 total - than in any single month since 2001. In the districts around the southern city of Kandahar, soldiers from the Army's 101st Airborne Division have demolished dozens of homes that were thought to be booby-trapped, and they have used scores of high-explosive line charges - a weapon that had been used only sparingly in the past - to blast through minefields.

Some of the tougher methods, particularly Special Operations night raids, have incensed Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who told the Washington Post last week that the missions were undermining support for the U.S.-led war effort. But senior U.S. military officials involved in running the war contend that the raids, as well as other aggressive measures, have dealt a staggering blow to the insurgency.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss specific tactics, said the combination of the raids, the airstrikes and the use of explosives on the ground have been instrumental in improving security in areas around Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold that has been the focus of coalition operations this fall.

"We've taken the gloves off, and it has had huge impact," one of the senior officials said.

That, in turn, appears to have put U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top coalition commander, in a much stronger position heading into a Friday meeting of NATO heads of state in Lisbon, where Afghanistan will be a key topic of discussion. It also will help the general make his case that the military's strategy is working when President Barack Obama and his advisers conduct a review of the war next month.

A U.S. officer familiar with the decision said the tanks will be used initially in parts of northern Helmand province, where the Marines have been engaged in intense combat against resilient Taliban cells that typically are armed with assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and homemade bombs. The initial deployment calls for about 16 tanks, but the overall number and area of operations could expand depending on needs, the officer said.

"The tanks bring awe, shock and firepower," the officer said. "It's pretty significant."

Although the officer acknowledged that the use of tanks this many years into the war could be seen as a sign of desperation by some Afghans and Americans, he said they will provide the Marines with an important new tool in missions to flush out pockets of insurgent fighters. A tank round is far more accurate than firing artillery, and it can be launched much faster than having to wait for a fighter jet or a helicopter to shoot a missile or drop a satellite-guided bomb.

The Marines had wanted to take tanks into Afghanistan when they began deploying in large numbers in spring 2009, but the top coalition commander then, Army Gen. David McKiernan, rejected the request, in part because of concern it could remind Afghans of the tank-heavy Soviet occupation in the 1980s.

This time, the decision rested with Petraeus, in charge since July. He approved it last month, the officials said.

Although Petraeus is widely regarded as the father of the military's modern counterinsurgency doctrine, which emphasizes the role of governance, development and other forms of soft power in stabilization missions, he also believes in the use of intense force, at times, to wipe out opponents and create conditions for population-centric operations.

When Obama talks remember it's "Do as I say, not as I do!"

Obama like most other politicians and government rulers is a hypocrite and expects US to do as he SAYS, not as he does. All that green talk that he spews out is to get him reelected and for us to do, not him.


Obama's 'Beast' of a limo stands out at green NATO summit


LISBON (AFP) – The Portuguese hosts of Friday's NATO summit hoped to use the event to promote clean-energy and electric cars, but all eyes were on US President Barack Obama's diesel-guzzling "Beast" instead.

As is usual when he travels, Obama's eight-tonne armoured behemoth of a limousine was flown out to Lisbon before the US leader's arrival, and it ferried him from the airport tarmac to his first meetings of the weekend.

Doubtless he didn't intend the Beast's roar to drown out his hosts' green message, but a US presidential motorcade and its attendant escort of Secret Service SUVs do attract attention, even at the most elite gatherings.

Earlier, Prime Minister Jose Socrates and his fellow Portuguese, the president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, had arrived at the summit in quiet, zero-emission electric cars.

"I'd like to underline the priority both our countries assign to renewable energy and electric vehicles," Socrates said, after meeting Obama, amid amused sniping from the Portuguese press at the mixed messages.

Portugal is proud of the lead it has taken in introducing what it says is the world's first national electric vehicle charging network, with 100 power outlets in 25 towns and plans to install 1,300 by next year.

The government was particularly keen for the press covering the summit to underline this, and a news release describing the recharging network was already on each of the tables in the media centre as the global pack arrived.

Within the highly secure summit site, electric buses were put on to ferry journalists between venues.

In theory, at least, Obama was on side with the plan, remarking: "An area where I want to congratulate the prime minister and the Portuguese people is for the extraordinary leadership that you've shown in clean energy.

"The prime minister's leadership on electric cars will create new opportunities for American companies here in Portugal ... and this is an example of what Portugal and America can achieve together."

But there was no immediate reaction from the White House to criticism of Obama's rather less green form of transport, and the administration has in the past said that the president's security arrangements are non-negotiable.


Obama's 2012 re-election prospects uncertain: poll


– Mon Nov 22, 10:32 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama faces uncertain prospects for re-election in 2012 as many voters question whether he deserves a second term, a new poll said on Monday.

The Quinnipiac University poll said American voters by 49 percent to 43 percent do not think Obama has earned a second four-year term, and they put him in a statistical dead heat with potential Republican challengers Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.

Obama has struggled to bring down the stubbornly high U.S. jobless rate of 9.6 percent and his Democrats sustained huge losses in November 2 congressional elections.

At this point, Obama leads possible Republican challenger Sarah Palin by 48 percent to 40 percent, the poll found.

Romney is a former governor of Massachusetts, Huckabee was governor of Arkansas and Palin was governor of Alaska and her party's 2008 vice presidential nominee.

Democratic voters say by 64 percent to 27 percent that they do not want anyone to challenge Obama for their party's nomination in 2012.

"The Democratic base remains squarely behind Obama when it comes to his re-election, but his weakness among independent voters at this point makes his 2012 election prospects uncertain," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

The poll found only 39 percent of men, 34 percent of whites, 35 percent of political independents and 38 percent of those over age 35 think Obama deserves re-election.

In trial heats for 2012, Romney receives 45 percent to 44 percent for Obama, while the president gets 46 percent to 44 percent for Huckabee.

Palin is viewed the most negatively of the possible Republican candidates in 2012. She is viewed unfavorably by 51 percent of voters and favorably by 36 percent.

Brown said that "virtually all voters have formed an opinion about Palin and that opinion is not encouraging for her candidacy."

In a mythical Republican primary, Palin gets 19 percent, including 25 percent of Republican women, followed by Romney with 18 percent, Huckabee at 17 percent, former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich at 15 percent and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty at 6 percent.

"The best thing Obama has going for him when it comes to his re-election may be that at this point the Republicans don't have a candidate who is both nationally well-known and well-liked by a majority of voters," said Brown.

Quinnipiac University conducted the poll November 8-15, surveying 2,424 registered voters nationwide by telephone. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Doina Chiacu)


Obama elbowed in game, gets 12 stitches

by Darlene Superville - Nov. 26, 2010 02:08 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama needed 12 stitches in his lip after taking an errant elbow during a pickup basketball game Friday with a group of family and friends visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday, the White House said.

First word about the injury came in a statement from press secretary Robert Gibbs nearly three hours after the incident saying that Obama was inadvertently struck by someone's elbow. The individual was not identified.

Obama received the stitches under local anesthesia in the doctor's office on the ground floor White House after he returned home. The medical unit that treated Obama used a smaller filament than typically used, which increases the number of stitches but makes a tighter stitch and results in a smaller scar.

The president had gone to nearby Fort McNair to indulge in one of his favorite athletic pursuits, a game of basketball. It was a five-on-five contest involving family and friends and including Reggie Love, Obama's personal assistant who played at Duke University.

Obama emerged from the building after about 90 minutes of play, wearing a short-sleeve T-shirt and gym pants, and was seen dabbing at his mouth with what appeared to be a wad of gauze. A few hours later, reporters who had gathered on the White House driveway for the arrival of the Christmas tree, saw the president in an upstairs window, pressing an ice pack against his mouth before he stood and walked away.

"After being inadvertently hit with an opposing player's elbow in the lip while playing basketball with friends and family, the president received 12 stitches today administered by the White House Medical Unit," Gibbs said.

Obama's motorcade obeyed all traffic stops, the custom for nonofficial trips, during the return to the White House.

In February, Obama, 49, was deemed to be in excellent health and fit for duty after his first medical checkup as president. Doctors reported then that Obama had yet to kick a smoking habit, takes anti-inflammatory medication to relieve chronic tendinitis in his left knee and should make dietary changes to reduce his cholesterol levels.

Obama was told to return for another physical exam in August 2011, after he turns 50. In addition to regular pickup basketball games, Obama is also an avid golfer.

Obama had no public events scheduled during the long holiday weekend.

His stitched lip, however, could make for some interesting small talk on Tuesday, when Obama is to meet with the congressional leadership. The session originally was announced for Nov. 18, but was delayed after Republicans, who will control the House and increase their numbers in the Senate come January, said they couldn't accommodate the president.

Medical help is always nearby for U.S. presidents. A doctor or nurse is stationed at the White House around the clock and accompanies the president in his motorcade and aboard Air Force One.

Recent presidents have had a number of medical scares.

George W. Bush choked on a pretzel and briefly lost consciousness, falling and hurting his head. Bill Clinton had surgery and used crutches for months for a torn tendon in his knee when he stumbled on steps at the Florida home of golf pro Greg Norman.

The elder Bush, George H.W. Bush, was hospitalized for an erratic heartbeat while jogging at Camp David, a problem later diagnosed as a thyroid ailment. The senior Bush also collapsed at a state dinner in Tokyo, which the White House blamed on an intestinal flu.

Jimmy Carter fainted briefly while jogging near Camp David. Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest in a 1981 assassination attempt.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, 69, has had five heart attacks since age 37. He had surgery this year to install a pump to help his heart work. Cheney said he has congestive heart failure.


Obama Needed 12 Stitches After Getting Whacked in the Lip


Nov. 27, 2010

The president was playing defense when Rey Decerega, an opposing player, turned into him to take a shot and his elbow hit Obama in the mouth.

"I learned today the president is both a tough competitor and a good sport," Decerega, who works for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, said in a written statement. "I enjoyed playing basketball with him this morning. I'm sure he'll be back out on the court again soon."

The president was given a local anesthetic for the procedure.

The White House Medical Unit used a smaller filament that requires more stitches but makes them tighter, resulting in a smaller scar, the administration said.

While leaving Fort McNair, cameras captured the president holding a gauzelike material to his lip.

Jonathan Smith, a sports fitness instructor at Fort McNair, told ABC News he noticed a few "trickles of blood" on the president's lip as he and his entourage were leaving.

They had been playing for about 90 minutes when the incident occurred, Smith said.

The injury occurred in the last of the five games Obama was playing with his friends, which included his nephew, Avery Robinson, personal aide Reggie Love and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Neither the first lady nor the Obama daughters, Malia and Sasha, were there.

Later, at the Christmas tree arrival ceremony, Obama could be seen looking through a window at the front of the White House, holding what looked like an icepack to his lip.

Obama's love of basketball is well documented and he's a regular on the court with his friends. The president, who played basketball for his high school team in Hawaii, has on a few occasions stepped away from the White House to attend college and professional games.

As a presidential candidate, Obama told HBO's Bryant Gumbel that people can take away a lot about a person based on their game.

"I do think you can tell something about people from how they play basketball,'" said Obama. "For example, people who keep on shooting even though they have no jump shot,'' he said with a laugh. "You can tell that there is a certain self-delusional aspect to their game that says something about who they are.''

For his birthday this year, the president invited a remarkable group of athletes to play a pickup game with him, including LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Derek Fisher, Chris Paul, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Chauncey Billups, Grant Hill, Derrick Rose and Bill Russell. Kobe Bryant was also on hand but did not play.

When it comes to shooting hoops, the president is no soft player. In a Nov. 2008 CNN interview, Alexi Giannoulias, who ran for Obama's Senate seat and lost, said the president is a tough player.

"It's just a five on five game. Again, people are, no one wanted to hurt Barack Obama. No one wanted to give him a black eye. But we still played very competitive," Giannoulias said. "He plays very, very hard. He's a smiley guy. But out there, he's just competitive. He's plays really tough. And he's a phenomenal basketball player."

"No one wants to elbow anybody. The beauty of us getting a chance to play and just hang out as friends. We don't look at him like he's the president of the United States. He's one of the guys," he added.

The injury came on the heels of a relatively low-key Thanksgiving for the Obamas.

On Thursday morning, Obama called 10 members of the U.S. armed services -- two members each from the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy -- to thank them for their service and sacrifice, and to wish them and their families a Happy Thanksgiving. The 10 service members are all deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama's Thanksgiving message to Americans this year was focused on the economy, and the president called for bipartisan compromise moving forward.

Obama - We almost killed Osama - Honest! Vote for me in 2012!

Obama - We almost killed Osama and whatshisface - Honest! Vote for me in 2012!

I wonder is this REAL news? Or is it a fake press release put out by the American government to make our leaders look like heroes? Or perhaps better said bumbling heroes? Of course there is no way to verify these stories of what the CIA, Homeland Security and other American government agencies are doing in secret!

We almost killed Bin Laden! Honest! So vote for me in 2012 I'm a hero! - Obama


AP Exclusive: Close calls for al-Qaida's No. 2

By ADAM GOLDMAN and KATHY GANNON, Associated Press Adam Goldman And Kathy Gannon, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The CIA has come closer to capturing or killing Osama bin Laden's top deputy than was previously known during the last nine years, The Associated Press has learned.

Tragically, the agency thought it had its best chance last year at a secret base in Afghanistan, but instead fell victim to a double agent's devastating suicide bombing.

The CIA missed a chance to nab Ayman al-Zawahri in 2003 in the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar, where he met with another senior al-Qaida leader who was apprehended the next day, several current and former U.S. intelligence officials said.

The fugitive Egyptian doctor may also have narrowly survived a bombing by Pakistani military planes in 2004, the former and current officials said. And a well-publicized U.S. missile strike aimed at him in 2006 failed because he did not turn up at the attack site, they said.

Targeting al-Zawahri — along with bin Laden — is a main goal of U.S. counterterror efforts, focused on a man who has retained control of al-Qaida's operations and strategic planning even as he has led an underground existence in Pakistan's rugged tribal border zone.

"Finding senior al-Qaida terrorists — at a time when we're pursuing the most aggressive counterterrorism operations in our history — is of course a top priority for the CIA," said agency spokesman George Little.

But unlike bin Laden, a cipher since the Sept. 11 attacks who has surfaced only in occasional taped statements, al-Zawahri has kept a higher public profile, taking risks that expose him more.

He is known to travel cautiously and regularly issues audio and video harangues that are scrutinized closely for clues, said the current and former officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the classified hunt for the al-Qaida leader.

The CIA's pursuit of al-Zawahri climaxed last December in the suicide bombing that left seven agency employees dead at the agency's eastern Afghanistan base in Khost, one of the worst U.S. intelligence debacles in recent decades.

The bomber turned out to be an al-Qaida double agent who had lulled U.S. intelligence into believing he could bring them closer to al-Zawahri. Part of the terrorist's bait was his claim that al-Zawahri suffered from diabetes — a revelation about his health, if true.

A blunt internal inquiry raked the CIA last month for failing to properly vet the double agent in the months before the bombing and suggested its preoccupation with al-Zawahri may have led to lapses in judgment. One person familiar with the inquiry said the agency's intent on getting to al-Zawahri was a "significant driver" behind the mistakes, a conclusion even CIA director Leon Panetta acknowledged.

"That's what this mission was all about," Panetta said. "It was the opportunity that we all thought we had to be able to go after No. 2." He added that "in some ways maybe the mission itself clouded some of the judgments that were made here."

Al-Zawahri has presented a more opportunistic target than bin Laden both because of his visibility and also because of the CIA's ability to develop better intelligence about his movements.

"We felt like we did at times come very close to getting him," said a former senior U.S. official familiar with the targeting efforts. "We had more of it (intelligence) and we had better confidence in it."

Former intelligence officials say both bin Laden and al-Zawahri take elaborate precautions, keeping their distance from each other to ensure that al-Qaida's top leadership would not be eliminated in a single strike.

Bin Laden, 53, is believed to be hiding near the border between Pakistan's lawless tribal regions and Afghanistan. Al-Zawahri, 59, appears to have spent time in Pakistan's northwest tribal region of Bajaur, populated by large numbers of Wahabi Islam followers.

Both men are believed wary of using cell or satellite phones. But al-Zawahri has tried at times to make contact with family members in Egypt, former intelligence officials say. More importantly, he has remained in the public eye with numerous messages.

According to the private SITE Intelligence Group, bin Laden has made 23 audio and one video tape since 2006. Al-Zawahri has outpaced his superior, making 37 audio and 22 video recordings in the same period. In al-Zawahri's latest audio recording, issued Nov. 4, he warned the U.S. that "we will fight you until the last hour."

Each time al-Zawahri speaks, he increases the chances the U.S. could zero in on him. The CIA scours his recordings for clues, the former officials said, sifting for signs that might indicate how long it takes al-Zawahri to receive information about current events he cites.

"It tells us about information flow," said Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism research fellow at the New America Foundation.

But despite the risks he takes, al-Zawahri has always been able to keep several steps ahead of his pursuers.

The CIA had its first chance on Feb. 28, 2003. Former intelligence officials say al-Zawahri met that day in a car with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-professed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, in Peshawar. Al-Zawahri, a former official said, was on his way to the remote northern tribal region.

The former officials say the CIA was pursuing Mohammed at the time, but did not have a fix on him until an informant sent a text message to a CIA handler the next day that he was in Rawalpindi, about 110 miles to the east. Pakistan's spy service, which was working with the CIA, moved in and captured Mohammed.

By then, al-Zawahriwas gone.

Mohammed was flown to a CIA black site in Poland and interrogated using harsh methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning. Mohammed admitted he had met with al-Zawahribut would not disclose the details, a former CIA officer said.

The next chance to target al-Zawahricame in mid-March 2004, former officials said. A detainee in U.S. custody passed along information about a possible al-Qaida hideout in the mountainous northwest Pakistani region of South Waziristan, where government troops, helicopters and planes were mounting a military offensive against militants.

The CIA passed the intelligence to the Pakistan military, which bombed the village of Azam Warzak near the Afghan border. The former U.S. officials said they later received reports that al-Zawahriwas at the scene during the bombing and suffered minor injuries.

Pakistani military spokesman Gen. Athar Abbas would not confirm the reports, but noted recently that "these were the times when the two intelligence agencies were working hand in glove."

Taliban operatives and Pakistani civilians told AP recently that al-Zawahriwas injured in the attack. The al-Qaida leader then spent three days in the town of Mir Ali in north Waziristan before heading north to Bajaur, said the militants and locals, all who insisted on anonymity for safety reasons.

One key to locating al-Qaida's upper echelon, former U.S. officials said, is cracking the crude but effective communications network linking the fugitive terrorists. The system uses a chain of human couriers ensuring no one messenger interacts with either bin Laden or al-Zawahri.

A Taliban operative who filmed one of al-Zawahri's messages told AP that both bin Laden and al-Zawahri rely heavily on Arabs instead of locals for security. The operative insisted on anonymity for safety reasons. His role inside al-Qaida was confirmed by Afghan officials.

The CIA appeared to come close to cracking the network in May 2005, when Pakistani intelligence officials nabbed a high value detainee near Peshawar named Abu Faraj al-Libi. The suspect took command of the terror group's operations and communications after Mohammed's 2003 arrest.

The CIA had intelligence indicating the Libyan acted as "communications conduit," relaying messages from senior al-Qaida leaders to bin Laden. The former officials said al-Libi "almost certainly" had met with bin Laden or al-Zawahri after 9/11.

The day he was arrested, al-Libi was believed to be delivering a message to al-Zawahri. Taken to a black site in Romania, al-Libi gave up no information about al-Zawahri and bin Laden or how they traded messages, the former officials said.

"Libi seemed to be the key to the puzzle but it turned out he was a dead end," said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Saban Center and a former CIA officer.

Despite his silence, the CIA thought it had another chance to target al-Zawahri on January 13, 2006. The CIA had received a tip their target was headed to a gathering of top al-Qaida operatives in the town of Damadola in the Bajaur region. Al-Zawahri reportedly had met with al-Libi a year earlier in Bajaur_ where locals had also pinpointed the terrorist leader after the 2004 bombing.

A former senior CIA official familiar with the episode said all the "intelligence signatures" pointed to al-Zawahri's arrival that day. Former CIA Director Porter Goss gave a green light to launch a drone missile strike, the former senior official said. Goss declined comment through a spokeswoman.

The drone strike obliterated a mud compound, killing eighteen people, provincial officials said, including several al-Qaida figures and a dozen civilians.

But al-Zawahri was not among them. Pakistani intelligence officials said at the time that he was invited to the dinner but decided instead to send several aides. The CIA initially thought the strike had missed the terrorist leader by an hour, but a current U.S. official recently acknowledged al-Zawahri never showed up.

Later that month after the strike, al-Zawahri taunted then-President George W. Bush in a videotape. "Bush," he said, "do you know where I am? I am among the Muslim masses."

The CIA thought it had its best chance yet to strike at al-Zawahri last year when a doctor working with Jordanian intelligence claimed to offer new details suggesting the terrorist leader suffered from diabetes. The former and current U.S. officials said there were already indications al-Zawahri might have the disease.

CIA officers began working with the informant, Humam al-Balawai, believing the doctor might gain access to al-Zawahri for medical reasons, the former officials said. When al-Balawi was taken to meet with CIA officials at a secret base in Khost, in eastern Afghanistan, last Dec. 30, the double agent detonated hidden explosives as the officials neared him.

Those familiar with the CIA's inquiry into the suicide bombing said the operation aimed at al-Zawahri ran afoul of one of the spy game's cardinal perils — wishfulness. In this case, the CIA was convinced it might finally have him in its sights after so many misses.

It proved to be one more miss, and a costly one.


Gannon reported from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Islamabad, Pakistan. Eileen Sullivan and Kimberly Dozier in Washington contributed to this report.


Obama makes surprise visit to Afghanistan

December 3, 2010 10:18 AM

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.

Under intense security, Obama landed in night's darkness after a clandestine departure from the White House on Thursday, where plans of his trip into the war zone were tightly guarded.

He was to spend up to six hours in Afghanistan, meeting with President Hamid Karzai in the capital and with troops at giant Bagram Air Field, the main U.S. base here. Bad weather forced Obama to cancel a face-to-face meeting with Karzai. He will talk by video hookup. Obama also was talk with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. and NATO war commander in Afghanistan, and Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.

Obama's trip was meant to show personal resolve toward ending a war that was launched in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and is now raging in its 10th year, making it the longest U.S. conflict other than Vietnam.

He also 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 another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to try to gain control - and then get the United States out - of a worsening conflict.

The timing is also significant because Obama is expected within a couple weeks to receive a report about whether the revamped strategy he unveiled a year ago for Afghanistan and Pakistan is working as intended. The review will guide the direction of the U.S.-led war, one that has seen deteriorating support from the American people.

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. Since the summit, the release of thousands of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables by the WikiLeaks website added another strain. One U.S. memo said Karzai freed dangerous detainees and pardoned suspected drug dealers because they had connections to powerful figures, adding to the multiple allegations of corruption in his government.

Obama was to meet with Karzai at the presidential palace in Kabul after his arrival at Bagram Air Field, about 30 miles to the north, and flight by helicopter into the capital.

Obama was to speak to troops near the end of his visit at the Bagram complex, the hub of U.S. forces in the country.

The site itself been a target of extremists at different times.

In May, Taliban insurgents armed with rockets, grenades and suicide vests stormed the air field in the darkness before dawn, triggering an eight-hour firefight that killed an American contractor and at least 10 attackers and wounded nine U.S. service members.

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

For security, the White House said nothing in advance about Obama's travels.

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 Obama's trip only after he was in place 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.

Obama's visit comes in the midst of a key week for the president at home. As legislative days wane, he is trying to secure deals with lawmakers on tax rates, unemployment benefits and a nuclear treaty with Russia, among other unfinished business. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said this, though, was the right time for Obama to go to Afghanistan.

"You've got thousands of brave men and women who are thousands of miles from their home during the holidays, a time when we all want to be at home," Gibbs said. "The president wants to reiterate his appreciation for their service."

Obama says his goal is to end the type of U.S. combat missions now under way in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. In comments at the NATO summit last month, he also left room for what the U.S. troop presence will be at that time and beyond. "I'll make that determination when I get there," said Obama, looking ahead to a potential second term.

The core elements of Obama's war strategy are to boost Afghan forces toward self-reliance, defeat Taliban insurgents and prevent al-Qaida terrorists from having haven in the country or neighboring Pakistan. Obama has ended the combat mission in Iraq and shifted attention, resources and money into Afghanistan, declaring U.S. security is at stake.

As he told troops in Afghanistan eight months ago: "We can't forget why we're here. We did not choose this war. This was not an act of America wanting to expand its influence ... We were attacked viciously on 9/11."

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.

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