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The Obama Timeline

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Harconen
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« Reply #120 on: July 29, 2009, 02:37:51 pm »

            CNBC analyst Jim Cramer blasts Obama, saying he “has undeniably made things worse by creating an atmosphere of fear and panic rather than an atmosphere of calm and hope.” [1551]

            On March 5, a federal judge throws out a lawsuit challenging Obama’s eligibility to serve as president, calling the case a waste of time. U.S. District Judge James Robertson’s written opinion states, “This case, if it were allowed to proceed, would deserve mention in one of those books that seek to prove that the law is foolish or that America has too many lawyers with not enough to do.” [1564]

            Obama names Vivek Kundra his Federal Chief Information Officer, where he will direct “…the policy and strategic planning of federal information technology investments” and be “responsible for oversight of federal technology spending.” Obama states that “Kundra will bring a depth of experience in the technology arena and a commitment to lowering the cost of government operations to this position” and “he will play a key role in making sure our government is running in the most secure, open, and efficient way possible.” (Within a week, Kundra is on a leave of absence after an FBI raid of his former place of employment, the technology office of the city of Washington, D.C. Although several of his former co-workers are arrested, there is no immediate indication that Kundra is a target of any investigation.) [1697, 1698, 1699]

            A crowd generously estimated at 50,000 marches on New York City’s City Hall on March 5, demanding that the state’s budget not be cut because of a $15 billion shortfall. The governor, David Paterson, has proposed across the board cuts in education, health care, senior services, disability services, housing assistance, and crisis intervention programs; many of the protesters are state workers and union members. Protesters demand raising state taxes on those earning more than $250,000, on top of the Obama tax increases coming for that group. (It is not known what solution they will propose when, out of economic self-defense, a large number of those high-income earners choose to leave the state.) [1574]

            The public interest group Judicial Watch announces on March 5 that it has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Joseph “the plumber” Wurzelbacher. The lawsuit charges that Ohio officials violated Wurzelbacher’s rights when they illegally accessed his private information from government databases, allegedly in an effort to smear his reputation and discourage others from challenging Obama’s policies. [295, 312, 1552]

            The nonprofit government watchdog group Freedom Watch files a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents relating to the involvement of special interest groups in writing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) legislation. The founder of Freedom Watch, Larry Klayman, states, “It is important that the American people know who is pulling the strings of our government, especially when those are this nation’s purse strings. With budget projections over the next eight years ranging from such substantial sums of money as $3.5 trillion in 2010 to a whopping $4.9 trillion in 2018, the time for transparency is now, in the initial stages while the budget is still being finalized. The accountability has to start now, the exposure has to happen now; otherwise we may find ourselves in another Iraq-like economic and political debacle, only this time it may be a financial insurgency without end. Instead of roadside bombs, it will be bank failure and corporate bankruptcy, instead of sectarian violence, it will be the ‘haves’ clashing against the ‘have-nots.’” [1555]

            When constituents ask Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) to look into Obama’s possible ineligibility to serve as president because he may not be a natural born citizen, his response is a form letter with the lame answer that “Presidential candidates are vetted by voters at least twice—first in the primary elections and again in the general election. President-Elect Obama won the Democratic Party’s nomination after one of the most fiercely contested presidential primaries in American history… The voters have made clear their view that Mr. Obama meets the qualifications to hold the office of president.” Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) responds to similar inquiries by referring constituents to Web sites Snopes.com, which, in turn, refers readers to FactCheck.org—which is financed and operated supporters of Obama. Neither Martinez nor Kyl confronts the issue directly. [606, 1556, 1557]

            Senate Republicans, with help from several Democrats, block approval of Obama’s pork-filled $410 billion spending bill. Most Senators oppose the bill because of the massive waste it includes, while several object to its easing of travel restrictions to Cuba without getting any concessions from the Cuban government in return. (The ailing Edward Kennedy is brought in to vote for the bill.) The House had previously approved the bill 245–178, with 20 Democrats voting against it. A stopgap Senate bill is needed to fund government operations until the legislation can be amended to gain approval of more Senators. [1558]

            Obama declines Rush Limbaugh’s offer to debate, but the Democrat National Committee (DNC) childishly decides to enter the fray by placing an anti-Limbaugh billboard where he may see it as he drives around his neighborhood in Florida. The DNC invites Democrats across the country to compose insults (of 10 words or less) for the billboard, with a free T-shirt going to the winning slogan. In response to the DNC, Limbaugh jokes on his radio show that he hopes they are not spending taxpayer stimulus funds on the billboard. Wisely or not, Obama is making a concerted effort to attack Limbaugh, going so far as to have an unidentified senior White House aide “tasked with helping to guide the Limbaugh strategy.” (Using taxpayer dollars to pay a White House aide to engage in political mudslinging is arguably illegal. The aide may perhaps be Shauna Daly, who has the newly created job of White House Counsel Research Director. The 29-year-old Daly’s job experience consists mostly of digging dirt on political rivals, but she is no doubt aided by political gamesman David Axelrod.) The combined Obama/DNC anti-Limbaugh antics boost the talk show host’s ratings significantly. By the end of March, revenue for Limbaugh’s talk show will likely exceed its entire 2008 revenue. The eventual winning entry for the Democrat billboard is the unimaginative and unimpressive “Americans didn’t vote for a Rush to failure.” (Little should be expected in return for a T-shirt.) The Obama administration also shows signs of intentionally going after Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA) for his strong opposition to the Obama agenda. [1128, 1562, 1568, 1572, 1585, 1633, 1663, 2183]
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« Reply #121 on: July 29, 2009, 02:38:25 pm »

            Forbes, Inc.’s CEO, Steve Forbes, charges Obama with repeating the mistake of George W. Bush in continuing mark-to-market accounting for banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions. The practice requires revaluing assets to their current market value, which prompts even stable assets to be downgraded. (If a home’s market value drops from $400,000 to $300,000, for example, but the mortgage is for $350,000, some argue the investment should be downgraded to $300,000. On the other hand, if the homeowner is staying in the home and making his mortgage payments promptly each month, the mortgage-holder might still consider the loan a valuable asset worth $350,000.) [1565]

            Word leaks on March 6 that Obama will soon sign an executive order reversing restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Tax dollars will then be used for obtaining stem cells from aborted fetuses, as scientists start applying for taxpayer-funded grants through the National Institute of Health. Researchers want Obama to reverse the policy in order to receive NIH money. Non-controversial research on adult stem cells has so far produced 72 cures and treatments, while worldwide embryonic stem cell research has produced none. (In fact, one Israeli child with a lethal brain disease was injected with fetal stem cells that ended up triggering fatal tumors in his brain and spinal cord.) Most private money has flowed to adult stem cell research because it has been yielding results. Investors know there are yet no proven uses for embryonic stem cells. Some supporters of abortion view embryonic stem cell research as a way to justify abortions by creating an aura of a “noble cause” around the gruesome practice. [1571, 1618, 1635, 1636]

            Michael J. Boskin, a professor of economics at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, “Obama’s Radicalism is Killing the Dow,” that “It’s hard not to see the continued sell-off on Wall Street and the growing fear on Main Street as a product, at least in part, of the realization that our new president’s policies are designed to radically re-engineer the market-based U.S. economy, not just mitigate the recession and financial crisis.” [1653]

 
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« Reply #122 on: July 29, 2009, 02:38:57 pm »



“Are You a Socialist?”

 

Aboard Air Force One a reporter asks Obama, “Are you a socialist, as some people have suggested?” Obama responds, “You know, let’s take a look at the budget—the answer would be no.” After returning to the White House Obama apparently has misgivings about his response to the question, and he takes the unusual step of making a defensive, “It wasn’t me who broke the window with my baseball” telephone call to reporters. He deflects the big-government argument by blaming former President Bush for starting the socialist ball rolling, saying, “I did think it might be useful to point out that it wasn’t under me that we started buying a bunch of shares of banks. It wasn’t on my watch. And it wasn’t on my watch that we passed a massive new entitlement—the prescription drug plan—without a source of funding. And so I think it’s important just to note when you start hearing folks throw these words around that we’ve actually been operating in a way that has been entirely consistent with free-market principles and that some of the same folks who are throwing the word ‘socialist’ around can’t say the same.” (As Senator, Obama voted for the original Wall Street bailout in October 2008. Obama was not yet a Senator when the prescription drug bill was passed. It is difficult for Obama to argue, however, that he would have voted against a federal prescription drug plan for seniors when he has consistently been a supporter of a single-payer national health plan.) [1601]

            When asked by reporters on Air Force One if the United States is winning the war in Afghanistan, Obama answers, “No.” He states that he might be willing to reach out to some of the Islamic fundamentalists in the Taliban, somehow separating the hard-core radicals from the rest. It is unclear how he would distinguish one group from the other, how he would persuade the less radical elements to turn against the other insurgents, or how he would prevent the moderates in the Taliban (if there even are any) from abusing women and continuing Shari’ah law. It is also unclear how Obama could negotiate a deal with any elements of the Taliban. Afghanistan is a sovereign nation, and any agreements must be made with its government. (Similarly, the Afghan government must deal with the United States government; it cannot negotiate with one political or revolutionary group within the United States.) Further, Taliban leader Mullar Omar is not one to make deals—especially when he believes the Taliban is winning. It is unclear why Obama would think he could negotiate with the Taliban at a time when he publicly states the United States is not winning the war, because he would be negotiating from a position of weakness. [1592, 1627]

            Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Brussels, Belgium to meet with the European Union’s Parliament, where she remarks she has “…never understood multiparty democracy. It is hard enough with two parties to come to any resolution, and I say this very respectfully, because I feel the same way about our own democracy, which has been around a lot longer than European democracy.” It is not known where Clinton got the mistaken idea that American democracy pre-dates European democracy (and the United States of America is technically a republic, not a democracy), but she does make it clear that she feels it would be easier to govern or “rule” without the “annoyance” of other political parties. (Republicans and Independents, in her opinion, are apparently entitled to democracy only if they support Democrat policies.) Clinton further insults her hosts by referring to foreign policy chief Javier Solana as Javier “Solano,” and external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner as “Benito.” [1577]

            Clinton proposes a high-level conference on Afghanistan to which both Pakistan and Iran would be invited. Obama’s approach is described as emphasizing a “non-military means of blunting the power of the Taliban.” It is unclear what “non-military means” might dissuade the Taliban from curtailing its violent methods. [1586]

            Clinton visits Russia to meet with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and presents him with a gift, a small box with a red “reset” button intended to represent a “resetting” of Russian-American relations under the new Obama administration. The gift is strangely evocative of the 1950s and 1960s fears of the Soviet Union pressing a red “nuclear button” to annihilate the United States in thermonuclear missile strikes. The button (which resembles the “easy button” from the Staples television commercials) is mislabeled with the Russian word for “overcharge” rather than the word for reset. (Apparently, the State Department needs better English-Russian language translators among its 18,000 employees. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks fluent Russian and would not have made the translation mistake; nor would the Bush administration have presented the Russians with a tacky button—something no doubt dreamed up by one of the inexperienced and na´ve members of the Obama foreign relations team.) [1577]
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« Reply #123 on: July 29, 2009, 02:39:36 pm »

            Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez encourages Obama to “come over to the dark side” in remarks he makes on his state-run television. “I recommend to Obama—they’re criticizing him because they say he’s moving towards socialism—come Obama, ally with us on the path to socialism, it’s the only road.” [1579]

            After the media in the United Kingdom erupts in outrage over Obama’s shoddy treatment of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, sources close to the White House say Obama is “not getting enough rest.” (Obama has been in office less than two months.) British officials remark that Obama’s aides were seemingly unfamiliar with the requirements of a state visit. (Obama’s snub of Brown was either an intentional insult or an act of incompetents who are in over their heads.) A “well-connected Washington figure” observes, “Obama is overwhelmed. There is a zero sum tension between his ability to attend to the economic issues and his ability to be a proactive sculptor of the national security agenda. That was the **** these guys made at the front end of this presidency and I think they’re finding it a hard thing to do everything.” [1603]

            The Pentagon reports that five Chinese ships harassed a U.S. Navy surveillance ship operating in international waters. Officials say the incident occurred on March 8, after several days of “increasingly aggressive” acts by Chinese ships. Many assume the actions are simply an effort to test and intimidate Obama, to see whether he sends U.S. ships right back into international waters near China (along with a powerful escort), or simply orders the Navy to “back off.” (Obama later orders the Navy to “back off” and cease surveys near Chinese territorial waters.) [1634, 2521]

            Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (who was responsible for the federal government’s last balanced budgets) comments that Obama’s attack on Rush Limbaugh is a “deliberate strategy” to take attention from more pressing issues. “I think what they did with the whole Rush Limbaugh thing—they can’t defend signing the 9,000 earmarks, they can’t defend an energy-tax increase, they can’t defend Geithner’s failure to pay his income taxes, so they decide, ‘Let’s have a fight over Rush Limbaugh.’ It is the exact opposite of what the president promised… to focus on large things, not small things.” The White House attacks on Limbaugh are also reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s “enemies list” of the early 1970s… and just as beneath the office of the presidency. [1605]

            Dr. Sanjay Gupta declines Obama’s offer to become Surgeon General, saying he wants to “focus more on his medical career and his family.” (Some say Gupta withdrew because of criticism over his “flimsy political record,” although politics should be irrelevant to the position of Surgeon General.) [1628, 2530]

            Radio station KFI-AM hosts a Los Angeles-area tea party tax revolt on March 7 that draws an estimated 8,000–15,000 demonstrators protesting the high taxes and deficit spending of the California legislature, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Obama administration. [1623, 1624]

            On March 8, Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is interviewed on a Palestinian television show. Clinton is asked, “A little young girl from a village in Ramallah wants to know what you would do if your daughter Chelsea was unfortunate enough to have been born under occupation, to be born deprived of freedom and liberty?” Clinton takes the bait and responds in beauty pageant contestant fashion: “Well I would do what so many parents here in the West Bank and in Gaza do. I would love her, I would take care of her, I would get the best education I could for her, and I would never lose hope, I would never give up on the dream of a Palestinian State. No matter what happens, no matter what people do to try and [sic] derail that dream. I would tell my daughter and I would hope my daughter would believe with all of her heart that she has the same opportunities for the best future that any child anywhere in the world does and that’s what my goal will be.” The town mentioned in the question, Ramallah, is the administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority. If a little girl in Ramallah has a difficult life, it is perhaps the fault of the Palestinian National Authority as much as Israel. Clinton could have corrected the questioner, but may not have been aware of the facts. [1728, 1729]

            Arguably, Clinton could also have rejected the “born under occupation” premise of the question. The disputed territories were taken by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967. Israel was not the aggressor in that war; Israel was defending itself against attacks by Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. (Had Egypt not amassed one thousand tanks and 100,000 troops on the Israeli border and closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships, there perhaps would not have been a war.) By the end of the fighting, Israel gained control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. Palestinians consider the disputed areas Arab land illegally “occupied” by Israel, just as many Mexicans consider Texas territory illegally “occupied” by the United States. But both Israel and the United States won those territories by being victorious in wars… and to the victors go the spoils. Jews have more of a historical right to Israel than do Arabs, wars notwithstanding, but Clinton and Obama are siding with the Arabs. (Mexicans may similarly argue that they have a historical claim to Texas and California and would rather the Americans “go back to Europe,” but the Mexicans themselves are descendants of Spaniards who invaded the continent. One can just as easily argue that Mexicans should “go back to Spain.”)

            A March 9 Rasmussen poll places Obama’s approval index at +6 (a new low), with 38 per cent strongly approving his job performance and 32 per cent strongly disapproving (a new high). [1604]
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« Reply #124 on: July 29, 2009, 02:40:19 pm »

            Former Congressman Pat Toomey, who came close to defeating Senator Arlen Specter in the 2004 primary, indicates he may try again in 2010. “We could’ve had a constructive pro-growth compromise. Instead, these guys (Senators Specter, Collins, and Snowe) just completely sold out (by voting for the stimulus bill).” Toomey charges that Obama’s tax-and-spend policies won’t work to help the economy recover, partly because they promote uncertainty. “There’s a real danger that capitalism is going to go on strike, because the capitalists don’t know what the government is going to do next. And this episodic, quasi-nationalization of financial services companies, and perhaps the car companies and others, is very, very disturbing and destabilizing. So some certainty about government policy would be enormously helpful. The best thing we could do is make the 2003 tax cuts permanent,” Toomey states. “But while we’re at it, let’s just eliminate capital gains taxes, and how about temporarily suspending the payroll tax?” [1606]

            The Obama administration challenges all signing statements issued by former President Bush. (Signing statements are comments issued to clarify parts of a law the president may find objectionable, but which are not significant enough to warrant a veto of the entire bill. They are used because a line-item veto has never been authorized by Congress.) Obama argues that before anyone agrees to Bush’s previous signing statements officials should first consult with Attorney General Holder, who will be deciding which of Bush’s orders should be ignored. Obama himself plans on continuing the practice of issuing signing statements, and his will no doubt not be second-guessed by Holder. (Obama should be careful… if Bush’s signing statements can be reviewed and ignored simply because he is no longer in office, Obama’s signing statements may face the same scrutiny by his successor.) [1612]

            On March 9, Obama signs an executive order allowing taxpayer dollars to fund research using embryonic stem cells. Obama calls his decision a “difficult and delicate balance.” (It is unclear why the decision should be difficult. Killing a fetus for medical research would seem, to someone like Obama who supports unrestricted abortions, easily more justifiable than killing a fetus because the mother simply decided not to have the baby). Obama also indirectly brings up the global-warming controversy, saying that promoting science “…is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it’s inconvenient especially when it’s inconvenient. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.” Obama laughingly contradicts himself with his statement because he has already decided for the nation that the “science is settled” with regard to man-caused global warming; in May 2007 Obama voted for a bill that requires global warming be factored into federal project plans—hardly a reasonable requirement if the government should be making “…decisions based on fact, not ideology.” (An agreement disputing any global warming crisis has been signed by more than 31,000 American scientists, a number more than sufficient to refute Obama’s claim that there is a “consensus” on man-caused global warming. A Gallup poll found that 41 per cent of Americans believe that climate change warnings are exaggerated. The president of the European Union, Czech president Vaclav Klaus, has stated that global warming alarmists “want to change us and our behavior. Their ambition is to control and manipulate us.”) [97, 1619, 1727, 1729, 1747, 2552]

            Generally unreported by the media is Obama’s related action to rescind Bush’s executive order that provided federal funding for “induced pluripotent stem cell” research, which uses adult stem cells mimicking embryonic stem cells, but without their associated high risk of inducing tumors. Obama’s executive order therefore eliminates federal funding for the more promising research, while authorizing funding for what is less promising and riskier. [1669, 2681]

            Obama’s stem cell policy comments include the remark that “…we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction,” apparently leaving the door open for cloning for other purposes—not so that parents can someday be able to “re-create” a child that dies, but to clone a human for the purpose of killing it to obtain its stem cells. Lobbyists have already pushed legislation that would legalize cloning human embryos for harvesting their stem cells. Obama’s executive order means that taxpayer funds will now be used to create and then kill human life for the sole purpose of scientific experimentation and exploitation. (A California company dealing with in vitro fertilization already advertises “gender selection,” allowing pregnant mothers to choose to have an early abortion should the fetus have the “wrong” gender, eye color, or hair color.) Obama does not make clear why cloning for the purpose of creating life is worse than cloning for the purpose of destroying it. [1649, 1664]

            Former President Bill Clinton is interviewed by CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta and, in an attempt to defend Obama’s executive order on stem cell experimentation, inadvertently reveals an astounding ignorance of the origin of human life. Clinton remarks that “I think the American people believe it’s a pro-life decision to use an embryo that’s frozen that’s never going to be fertilized for embryonic stem cell research” and says that scientists should only use embryos that “have been placed beyond the pale of being fertilized before their use.” Clinton apparently does not understand that there is no such thing as an “unfertilized embryo”—it is the egg that is unfertilized. The embryo is by definition the result of an egg that has been fertilized. When Clinton argues that he opposes stem cell experimentation if there is any chance that the embryo can become a human being, he is missing the point because the embryo already is a human being. Researchers cannot, as Clinton seems to suggest, use stem cells from unfertilized eggs because there are none; the stem cells do not exist until the egg has been fertilized and the embryo forms. (That is why they are called embryonic stem cells; there is no such thing as an “egg stem cell.”) Clinton is either colossally ignorant or he is playing with words to make stem cell research seem less objectionable to people who do not know any better. Gupta—who certainly should know better—does not correct Clinton. (Gupta, along with other CNN personalities, has been a “featured attendee” at Clinton Global Initiative annual meetings and perhaps does not want to harm his chances of being denied future invitations from the former president.) [1689, 1691, 2630]
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« Reply #125 on: July 29, 2009, 02:41:04 pm »

            Billionaire investor and informal Obama advisor and supporter Warren Buffet tells CNBC that investors see no clear plan coming from Washington and that is contributing to the nation’s economic difficulties. “And I think we’ve had, and it’s the nature of the political process somewhat, but we’ve had muddled messages and the American public does not know. They feel they don’t know what’s going on, and their reaction then is to absolutely pull back,” remarks Buffet. Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, reacts defensively, saying no one should be surprised that “all of the problems that took many years to take hold haven’t necessarily been solved.” [1706, 1707]

            Amid criticism that Obama is unable to speak cogently in public without a teleprompter, reports surface that he uses the device not just for prepared speeches, but also for notes. That is, responses, and “talking points” are fed to Obama while he is answering questions. White House technicians are allegedly also working on a small computer device for him to place on the lectern. [1706]

            Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announces a $1 million scholarship program to help Palestinian students enroll in universities in the Middle East and the United States. Clinton says the program will allow students from the West Bank and Gaza to “compete along with students in other countries for the opportunity to further their academic training in America.” Neither Clinton nor Obama explain why U.S. tax dollars should go toward the education of students who have been raised to hate Americans. [1656]

            Dr. Orly Taitz, an attorney representing plaintiffs challenging Obama’s status to serve as president of the United States, meets Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on March 9 at a reception. Taitz manages to get to the microphone at the event and asks Justice Scalia if he will hear her case, in which she represents 9 state legislators and 120 military officers. Taitz later relates, “Scalia stated that it would be heard if I can get four people to hear it. He repeated, ‘you need four for the argument.’ I got a feeling that he was saying that one of these four (of the Supreme Court Justices) that call themselves constitutionalists went to the other side.” When Justice Scalia later autographs his book for her, Dr. Taitz asks, “Tell me what to do, what can I do, those soldiers (the plaintiffs) can be court-martialed for asking a legitimate question, who is the president, is he legitimate.” Justice Scalia responds, “Bring the case, I’ll hear it, I don’t know about the others.” The inference is that Justice Scalia and perhaps two others would be willing to hear the case, but one more is needed. (Four of the nine justices must agree to review the case or it is ignored.) The other Justices are John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas (who tend to follow the Constitution more strictly), Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter, John Paul Stevens (who tend to be more “activist” in loosely interpreting the Constitution), and Anthony Kennedy, who is often considered to be the swing vote on controversial issues. [1646]

            After almost two months of waiting for the promised “brilliant” economic plan by Secretary of the Treasury Geithner and not seeing evidence of any plan at all, the Intrade.com prediction market adds a “future” on whether Geithner would resign or be fired by the end of 2009. As of March 9, the odds are 22 per cent, with an eight per cent chance of Geithner not lasting beyond June 30. The magazine The Nation calls Geithner possibly “Obama’s biggest mistake.” [1621, 1652]

            Obama’s energy and climate change czar, Carol Browner, tells U.S. News and World Report the United States needs to use electricity in a more cost-effective way, and looks forward to “…a system where an electric company will be able to hold back some of the power so that maybe your air conditioner won’t operate at its peak, you’ll still be able to cool your house, but that’ll be a savings to the consumer. And so (we will be) giving people and companies a role in the management of how we use electricity.” Obama’s energy czar apparently will be “looking after” Americans by ensuring that their air conditioners lose power at the hottest time of the day; making those decisions for them is Browner’s way of “giving people and companies a role” in electricity management. [1744]

            It is reported that a former correspondent for CNN en Espanol, Mauricio Funes, is a presidential candidate in El Salvador. Funes is a member of the communist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). The U.S. State Department has lodged complaints against Funes for using photographs of Obama in his campaign. He considers himself to be “El Salvador’s Barack Obama” and uses his “Yes we can!” campaign theme. (For the record, Obama co-opted the phrase, “Si se puede!” from California union organizer Cesar Chavez.) [1625, 2611]

            After Obama remarks he would like to reach out to “moderates” in the Taliban, a spokesman for the terrorist group, Qari Mohammed Yousuf (who, unlike Obama, understands that the Taliban essentially has no moderates) responds, “This does not require any response or reaction for this is illogical. The Taliban are united, have one leader, one aim, one policy… I do not know why they are talking about moderate Taliban and what it means. If it means those who are not fighting and are sitting in their homes, then talking to them is meaningless. This really is surprising the Taliban.” The Taliban, in addition to believing that they are winning the war, think that an additional 17,000 troops sent by Obama will not be enough to defeat them. They further believe the United States will not be willing to make the financial or military commitments necessary to win. (One of the alleged “moderates” in the Taliban, Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, was released from the detention camp in Guantanamo in December of 2007. The United States handed him over to the Afghan government, which subsequently also released him. Rasoul changed his name to Mullah Abdullah Zakir and is now in charge of Taliban operations against U.S. and Afghan forces in southern Afghanistan.) [1629, 1641]
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« Reply #126 on: July 29, 2009, 02:41:35 pm »

            The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) states it is not planning to suspend the mark-to-market rule that forces banks to lower the value of assets. Some argue the rule forces unjustified write-downs that contributed to the banking collapse. [1630]

            After an article appears that describes how negative information about Obama is being promptly eliminated from his biography on Wikipedia.com, the Web site locks most users from making any entries on that page. The result is a mostly glowing biography of Obama, free of references to William Ayers, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, or his birth certificate controversy. [1631]

            On March 10, Vice-President Biden tells NATO allies the United States is “…not now winning the war (in Afghanistan), but the war is far from lost.” [1632]

            An amendment is introduced in the Senate to renew the popular and successful Washington, D.C. school voucher system (the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program) that was cancelled in the House version of the $410 billion spending bill. Of the 58 votes to kill the amendment, 54 are cast by Democrats (most of whom have sent their own children to private schools). A study by the Department of Education that confirmed the effectiveness of the voucher program was kept secret until after the vote. The Hoover Institution’s Deroy Murdock states that the winners in the vote to kill the program are “the teachers’ unions, who hate school choice, hate vouchers, and don’t give a damn about school kids when they threaten union pay, benefits, and control of classrooms.” Teachers’ unions have donated more than $55 million to political candidates between 1999 and 2008, with virtually all of the cash going to Democrats. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) is a top 10 recipient of cash from the National Education Association teachers union; Durbin was among those who voted to kill he scholarship program. [1406, 1412, 1750, 2433]

            A New York Times puff piece on Michelle Obama swoons over her commitment to healthy eating after she hands out food at a non-profit facility serving the homeless. The article goes out of its way to criticize former First Lady Laura Bush, who “…insisted that fresh, organic foods be served in the White House, but did not broadcast that fact to the public.” The editor of Gourmet magazine is rounded up to praise Michelle Obama for “…making a point. She thinks communities across the nation deserve to have [sic] access to fresh fruits and vegetables.” The article does not indicate which American communities, if any, lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables. [1673]

            Although a fan of Obama in the past, columnist Howard Fineman begins to doubt Obama’s abilities in a March 10 column in Newsweek. Fineman writes that, although Obama’s general public poll numbers remain high, “…in ways both large and small, what’s left of the American establishment is taking his measure and, with surprising swiftness, they are finding him lacking.” Fineman argues that Obama “…gave up the moral high ground on spending not so much with the (stimulus bill) but with the $400 billion supplemental spending bill, larded as it was with 9,000 earmarks,” is “…throwing good money after bad in at least two cases—the sinkhole that is Citigroup (there are many healthy banks) and General Motors (they deserve what they get),” and proposed “…a 2010 budget that tries to do far too much, with way too rosy predictions on future revenues and growth of the economy. This led those who fear we are about to go over Niagara Falls to deride Obama as a paddler who’d rather redesign the canoe.” [2190]

            Charles W. Freeman decides not to accept Obama’s offer to chair the National Intelligence Council, after relentless criticism of his anti-Israel stance, overly pro-China attitude, and closeness to the Saudis. Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) remarks that “The administration made yet another mistake not doing its homework before nominating someone to a senior position of unique sensitivity, and then learned from the press further and further embarrassing details. He (Freeman) was heavily encumbered by multiple conflicts of interest involving Chinese, Saudi and other business dealings that all should have been disclosed long before.” New York Senator Charles Schumer says that Freeman showed an “irrational hatred of Israel.” Freeman publishes a letter on the Web site of Foreign Policy magazine in which he “concluded the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office.” Freeman, who for some reason Obama thought would be capable of offering sound security advice, had sent a 1989 e-mail defending the Chinese government in its attack on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square, saying it was not “…acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be.” (Chinese citizens demanding the right to free speech are, in Freeman’s view, dispensing “propaganda.”) The White House attempts to cover Obama’s tracks by saying he had “not been informed” of Freeman’s appointment by National Intelligence Director Admiral Dennis Blair. (Blair himself has been criticized by many for denying that Iran is making nuclear weapons.) [1637, 1644, 1671, 1757]

            On March 10, the Senate passes the $410 billion spending bill on a vote of 62–35, despite the massive amount of waste it contains. (It includes $747,000 for the removal of driftwood from the Potomac River.) Obama later signs the bill in private, perhaps to avoid anyone reminding him of his campaign pledge to “go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.”  Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warns that Congress should “keep the door open” for another stimulus bill, and remarks, “The word of the day is confidence. Confidence in our markets, confidence in lending, confidence in our financial institutions.” A lack of confidence in the federal government, however, is at the heart of the stock market’s reluctance to gain ground because investors have little faith in Washington’s schemes and wonder where the money will come from to pay for them. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell warns, “We’re spending the first 50 days of this new administration at the rate of one billion dollars an hour.” [1638, 1639, 1640, 1676]
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« Reply #127 on: July 29, 2009, 02:42:23 pm »

            Republican Senators who vote for the $410 spending bill are Lamar Alexander (TN), Christopher Bond (MO), Thad Cochran (MS), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Richard Shelby (AL), Olympia Snowe (ME), Arlen Specter (PA), and Roger Wicker (MS). Because Speaker Nancy Pelosi refuses to allow any changes to the pork-filled bill in the House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid makes a deal with Senate Republicans to allow them floor time to propose amendments after they pass the bill—knowing the amendments would never become law but would give Senators some cover with their constituents back home. (“Well, I tried to amend it but I got out-voted.”) The bill also includes an easing of travel restrictions to Cuba; no reciprocal concessions have been received by Obama from the Castro regime. [1642, 1645]

            Seventy-five members of Congress ask House leaders to close a loophole in the stimulus bill that allows jobs to go to illegal immigrants. The original bill had language requiring that employers confirm workers are legal residents, but that was removed by someone “high up” in the Democrat Party (possibly Obama, Pelosi, or Reid). The state of North Carolina has introduced a bill requiring that state contractors receiving federal funds verify workers’ residency. [1643]

            The United States and the United Nations criticize Sudan for expelling Darfur humanitarian aid groups. The action was taken by Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir, after he was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his campaign against Darfur rebels that involved rapes, atrocities, and the killings of thousands of innocent people. Obama states the violence, which has been going on since 2003, is “not acceptable,” and “We need to be able to get those humanitarian organizations back on the ground. The United States wants to work as actively as possible with the United Nations to try to resolve the immediate humanitarian crisis and to start putting us on a path toward long-term peace and stability in the Sudan.” A group of Sudanese jihadists and Darfur Arabs called the “Alliance of Jihadist Suicide Groups” threatens to carry out a “new 9/11” in the United States and other nations that support the ICC’s actions against al-Bashir. [1679, 1680, 1681]

            An unscientific MSNBC online survey asks, “If you were grading Barack Obama on his performance as president, what (grade) would he get?” The 109,047 responses broke down as A (16 per cent), B (6.4 per cent), C (5 per cent), D (12 per cent), and F (60 per cent). [1648]

            The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) estimates that Obama’s national health care plan will cost as much as $2 trillion over 10 years. Obama has estimated the cost to be “only” $637 billion. (The federal government has neither the $637 billion nor the $2 trillion.) [1651]

            On March 11, Obama signs an executive order creating a White House Council on Women and Girls. According to the New York Times, the new council would “…help eliminate the challenges faced by women and girls and to ensure that cabinet level agencies coordinate their policies and programs that affect women and families.” There is no indication as to how much the new council would cost taxpayers, or exactly where authorization for its creation can be found in the U.S. Constitution. [1672]

            A unit commander at Fort Campbell, Kentucky orders all soldiers under his command to provide the location and registration number of any private weapon they own. The order is quickly rescinded, however, and a base spokesperson says the letter was a “mistake.” One soldier who lives off-post and who objected to the order comments, “It just seems a little coincidental to me that within 90 days (after) the most anti-firearm president in history is inaugurated, some of the nastiest anti-firearm laws are put on the table in Washington; and then the Army comes around wanting what amounts to a registration on all firearms, even if they are off post, and doesn’t provide any reason or purpose as to why.” [1889]

            On March 12, former law enforcement officials hold a press conference to demand a renewed investigation of a 1970 bombing murder of a San Francisco police officer, which they believe involved William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn (former Weather Underground terrorists and friends of Obama). Former FBI informant and Weather Underground infiltrator Larry Grathwohl states that Ayers told him Dohrn planted the bomb, which killed Police Sergeant Brian V. McDonnell. Grathwol relates that several years ago “…the FBI and the San Francisco Police Department were looking to prosecute Bernardine Dohrn for murder. They were really pushing it and then it dropped off the radar.” Between January of 1969 and April of 1970, there were more than 4,330 bombings in the United States, an average of nine every day. It is unknown how many were the work of the Weather Underground, but it was certainly more than a few. [1659, 1678]

            Attorney General Holder’s Justice Department later tells San Francisco police officers to remain silent about their belief that Ayers and Dohrn were involved in the bombing. The officers had made public a letter stating, “There are irrefutable and compelling reasons to believe that Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn are largely responsible for the bombing of Park Police Station.” The letter called for bringing “…those responsible for the murder of Sgt. Brian McDonnell and the injuries to other officers to the justice they have so long eluded.” Although William Ayers has stated, “We killed no one and hurt no one,” former FBI informant Larry Grathwohl says in his book, Bringing Down America, that Ayers described the details of the event to him. Grathwohl quotes Ayers as having said, “It was a success. But it’s a shame when someone like Bernardine has to make all the plans, make the bomb and then place it herself. She should have to do only the planning.” It is not clear why the Justice Department wants the San Francisco police officers to remain quiet. [1940]

            Bernard Madoff pleads guilty to 11 counts of fraud in his multi-billion dollar investment scheme. His bond is immediately revoked and he is sent to jail to await sentencing. Madoff, a Democrat, has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrat candidates—none of whom offers to return the cash to help some of the investors who were bilked by Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. [1690]
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« Reply #128 on: July 29, 2009, 02:42:55 pm »

            Democrats in both the Senate (Tom Harkin) and the House (George Miller) introduce the Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow unions to avoid secret ballots when organizing workers. The legislation would make it far easier to unionize a company, which would necessarily result in higher prices when the costs of the demanded increased wages and benefits are passed on to consumers. In many cases, unionization will drive companies overseas or out of business. Although Obama has promised he would sign the bill (as payback for the massive campaign support he received from organized labor), the bill may not get enough votes to pass in the Senate. [1665]

            A survey of 49 economists gives Obama and his Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, failing grades for their handling of the economy. Obama receives a grade of 59 (out of 100). Geithner’s grade of 51 is even lower than the score of 57 given to his predecessor, Henry Paulson. [1667]

            Obama tells reporters he has no plans to send federal troops to Texas to stop violence that has spilled over the border from the Mexican drug wars, despite pleas for assistance from Texas Governor Rick Perry. Obama states, “We’ve got a very big border with Mexico. I’m not interested in militarizing the border,” leaving Perry and Texas to fend for themselves. (It is not just drugs and Mexicans that enter the United States through its southern border; the terrorist group Hizbullah uses the drug routes to smuggle personnel.) Obama offers the excuse that “The average person who’s seeking serious substance abuse treatment in a big city like Dallas or Chicago typically has a three, four, or six-month waiting list to get enrolled.” That could be construed by some as meaning Obama doesn’t want to cut off the illegal drugs of anyone who has not yet received substance abuse treatment. (It is not, as Obama suggests, a matter of choosing between treatment for addicts or closing the border; both should be possible.) Obama also makes the argument, “If we can reduce demand, obviously that allows us to focus more effectively where interdiction is needed,” but cutting off the supply of drugs at the border renders the demand side of the equation meaningless. (The police departments of Phoenix and Tucson have reported the kidnappings of more than 400 Americans by Mexicans, but Obama is not interested in militarizing the border.) [1670, 2016, 2063]

            In a 65–28 vote the Senate confirms pornography lawyer David Ogden as Deputy Attorney General. Ogden’s opponents include Richard Shelby (R-AL), who states that Ogden “…is more than just a lawyer who has had a few unsavory clients. He has devoted a substantial part of his career, case after case, for 20 years, in defense of pornography.” Former Justice Department official and pornography prosecutor Pat Trueman says Ogden “…was picked for a reason, and that’s because of his radical agenda. I don’t think President Obama picked him because he’s going to help pornographers. I think he picked him because he’s a radical attorney who’s going to radicalize the Justice Department.” [1675, 1701]

            On March 12, Dr. Orly Taitz files a motion to the Supreme Court to reconsider her case, Lightfoot v. Bowen, which challenges Obama’s eligibility to serve as president of the United States. Arguments made by Dr. Taitz include the fact that the case was not forwarded from conference to oral argument and at least one Justice (Antonin Scalia) had never even heard of the case or similar Obama eligibility cases. (Taitz implies that court clerks improperly pulled cases or misrepresented them before the Justices.) Taitz’ argument for reconsideration also includes the charge that Clerk of the Court Danny Bickel intentionally mishandled the case, and that the case was erased from the docket two days before the Court was scheduled to meet on the issue. Taitz further argues that her case was prejudiced by a private meeting Obama had with eight of the nine Justices prior to its scheduled review. [1682]

            The FBI raids the technology office of the city of Washington, D.C., and its acting chief security officer, Yusuf Acar, is held without bond as a flight risk after $70,000 in cash was found in his home. A former employee, Sushil Bansal, was released but ordered not to travel. Acar (who is a native of Turkey) and Bansal (who is from India) allegedly defrauded the government by billing the city for computer items that were never delivered and for hiring “ghost employees.” Their former boss, Vivek Kundra, was chosen by Obama to be his coordinator of federal computer systems. Kundra is now on leave from his White House job. Obama’s press secretary states the case is a “serious matter.” Kundra, whose job involves changing the way the government buys technology from vendors, is reportedly not a target of the investigation. In a speech given on March 12 Kundra said, “Imagine the vast depository of information the federal government has and what people could do if they had access to it—how it could change the engagement model and help create a more perfect union.” [1685, 1699]

            South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford rejects $700 million of Obama’s stimulus bill money because the strings attached to the funds would end up harming his state financially. State legislators are expected to overrule Sanford’s objections and accept the cash, along with its accompanying burdensome and expensive restrictions. The stimulus bill included specific language, inserted by Democrat Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, to allow state legislatures to overrule their governors as a way of forcing the rules and restrictions. (That language likely violates the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment.) Sanford points out the obvious that millions refuse to see, “What you’re doing is buying into the notion that if we just print some more money that we don’t have and send it to different states, we’ll create jobs. If that’s the case, why isn’t Zimbabwe a rich place?” (The nation of Zimbabwe has been continuously printing money in an effort to improve its economy, with predictably disastrous inflationary results. Prices have gone so high that the country even has $100 trillion currency denominations. Citizens are billionaires, but a trip to the market can cost hundreds of millions in Zimbabwe currency. At one point the country’s annual inflation rate was an astounding 230 million per cent.) [1686, 1815, 1847]

            In New York’s 20th Congressional District, vacated by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand when she was appointed to Hillary Clinton’s vacant Senate seat, Republican candidate Jim Tedisco leads his challenger by 14 points. The election, which many might consider a referendum on Obama’s policies, is March 31. New Jersey chooses a new Governor in November of 2009, and in the polls incumbent Jon Corzine trails potential challengers Christopher Christie (49 to 34 per cent) and Steve Lonegan (43 to 35 per cent). [1687, 1692]

            Although the $410 billion spending bill includes a provision to end a temporary experimental practice of allowing Mexican trucks to cross the border into the United States for deliveries (within a 20 mile corridor), the Obama administration is working to restore the policy. Mexico insists that the United States must allow the practice in order to comply with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but opponents argue that inspections have shown hundreds of safety violations by long-haul rigs allowed on U.S. roads. (A survey commissioned by the Arizona Republic newspaper found that the Mexican trucks operating in the United States had a better safety record than U.S.-owned trucks.) Critics, like Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who previously charged that President Bush was “Hell-bent on opening our borders” without requiring that “Mexican drivers and trucks meet the same safety standards as U.S. drivers and trucks,” will now be fighting Obama for the same reasons. [1688, 1874]
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« Reply #129 on: July 29, 2009, 02:43:31 pm »

            Obama meets with 65 CEOs from the Business Roundtable, where he asks for support of his health care, education, and energy agendas, and suggests that in return he might be willing to lower the corporate tax rate (which stands at 35 per cent, second only to Japan’s 39.5 per cent). “Obama said he would be willing to consider lowering the 35 per cent corporate tax rate as he closes other business-tax loopholes,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Obama tells the group (allegedly with a straight face) “I’ve always been a strong believer in the power of the free market. It has been and will remain the very engine of America’s progress—the source of a prosperity that has gone unmatched in human history.” (In his book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama clearly states he does not like free enterprise capitalism; he describes it as “chaotic and unforgiving,” and says he would roll back the “ownership society.”) In complete contradiction to his actions since becoming president, Obama says, “I believe that jobs are best created not by government, but by businesses and entrepreneurs like you who are willing to take risks on a good idea. And I believe that our role as lawmakers is not to disparage wealth, but to expand its reach; not to stifle the market, but to strengthen its ability to unleash the creativity and innovation that still makes this nation the envy of the world.” [271, 1693, 1723]

            On Friday the 13, two deputy U.S. marshalls visit Jesse H. Merrell because of a passionate letter he had sent to U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson. Merrell criticized Robertson for dismissing a lawsuit (Hollister v. Soetoro) that challenged Obama’s natural born citizen status and eligibility to serve as president. The judge had written that “The issue of the president’s citizenship was raised, vetted, blogged, texted, twittered, and otherwise massaged by America’s vigilant citizenry during Mr. Obama’s two-year-campaign for the presidency, but this plaintiff (retired Air Force Colonel Gregory Hollister) wants it resolved by a court.” Merrell relates that he told the marshalls, “Unless the First Amendment had been repealed, or they were going to arrest me, we had nothing to talk about.” According to Merrell, the marshalls cited “some obscure law which made it illegal to say anything that caused ‘emotional distress’ to a federal judge.” Merrell said in his letter, “How dare people use a flimsy thing like the Constitution to darken your sanctimonious door! The insane idea that a (candidate) slashing our Constitution has to prove U.S. (natural born) citizenship—as our silly old Constitution demands—is too absurd to consider in the sacred chambers of the tiny tin gods of the Potomac, adorning the royal purple and sipping Jim Jones Kool-Aid. Thanks to smug, slimy shysters like you, Obama gets a free ride—snootily stomping on our foolish Constitution, which supercilious idiots like you have long ago shredded for their own stupid opinions!” Although Merrell’s letter did not contain any specific threats against Judge Robertson, it is admittedly inflammatory. Merrell states that his anti-government attitude can perhaps be attributed to his fourth great grandfather, Captain Benjamin Merrell, who was in 1771 hanged, drawn, and quartered by the British for protesting high taxes. [1791, 1890]

            Obama appoints Derek Anthony West as Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. West was the attorney who represented John Walker Lindh, the American who was captured in Afghanistan fighting for the Taliban and later sentenced to 20 years in prison. President Bush refused to pardon Lindh, but since the inauguration of Obama prison officials have “eased restrictions” on the “American Taliban.” West was also the finance co-chair for Obama in California, where he raised a record $65 million. [2003, 2004, 2005]

 
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« Reply #130 on: July 29, 2009, 02:44:13 pm »

“Be Nice to the Countries That Lend You Money”

 

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao warns the United States not to devalue the dollar through reckless spending. China holds an estimated $1 trillion in U.S. bonds, which would be worth considerably less in real terms if Obama finances his massive spending plans by printing money and causing hyperinflation. “Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I’m a little bit worried,” said Wen. “I would like to call on the United States to honor its words, stay a credible nation and ensure the safety of Chinese assets.” If the federal government is not careful, China will stop buying bonds—or even start selling them off—leaving Obama with the problem of finding buyers for the enormous debt he is accumulating. (China was also noticeably annoyed that Secretary Treasury Geithner, prior to his confirmation hearing, claimed it had been manipulating its currency.) The president of the China Investment Company, Gao Xiqing, warns, “Be nice to the countries that lend you money.” [1696, 1761, 1832]

            When China warns the United States to get its economic house in order, the Obama administration (which had been preaching nothing but gloom and doom and an economic catastrophe in an effort to get its spending programs passed quickly and without scrutiny) suddenly starts talking up the economy and the stock market. Obama’s top economic advisor Larry Summers says that stock prices are now the “sale of the century,” Obama himself says we are at “…the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal if you’ve got a long term perspective,” and we have “the most dynamic free market economy on earth.” (Obama is mistaken; the United States does not enjoy a free market economy, it is a mixed economy. A totally free market operates with no government intervention.) Obama’s press secretary Robert Gibbs says, “There is no safer investment in the world that [sic] in the United States.” To reassure the markets and the Chinese, Obama (sounding suspiciously like the John McCain he strongly criticized just a few months ago for saying “the fundamentals of the economy are strong”) declares that “If we are keeping focused on all the fundamentally sound aspects of our economy—all the outstanding companies, workers, all the innovation and dynamism in this economy—then we’re going to get through this.” [1515, 1527, 1709]

            A California judge tosses out a lawsuit brought by presidential candidate Alan Keyes challenging Obama’s eligibility to serve as president. The lawsuit argues that the Secretary of State, the person responsible for running elections, has an obligation to confirm that an individual is qualified before placing his name on the state’s ballots. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen argued she had no “ministerial duty” to demand proof of citizenship, and the judge, Michael P. Kenny, found Bowen’s argument “persuasive.” Legally, therefore, anyone can get their name on the ballot in the state of California because the Secretary of State feels she is under no obligation to challenge a candidate’s qualifications. (In 1968, California Secretary of State Frank Jordan had Peace and Freedom Party candidate Eldridge Cleaver removed from the ballot after determining from his birth certificate that he was only 34 years old; an individual must be at least 35 to serve as president.) The judge argues that only members of Congress can challenge the qualifications of the president (which is convenient for a candidate whose political party controls both the House and the Senate), but nowhere in the U.S. Constitution does it state that a candidate’s eligibility can be challenged only by Congress. [1713]

            Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL) introduces H.R. 1503, an amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. Posey’s amendment would require presidential candidates to provide birth certificates and other documents to prove they meet the Constitution’s eligibility requirements. Posey’s spokesman, George Cecala, states, “Once we pass this bill, we can be assured that future elections won’t have this (Obama eligibility) problem. It’s not an attack on President Obama; it’s just clarifying (the situation) for future elections.” With Democrats in control of both the House and the Senate, the odds of the amendment passing are zero. Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) later becomes co-sponsor of the bill. [1714, 2661]

            At a public event where Joe Biden points out how $1.3 billion of stimulus money would help rebuild train stations and rail lines, a former Senate colleague addresses him as “Mr. Vice-President.” Not realizing the microphone is on Biden chides the Senator, “Give me a **** break!” [1731]

            The Obama administration decides to stop using the term “enemy combatants” and says it will embrace “international law” as its basis for holding terrorist suspects at Guantanamo. The new policy, according to the Justice Department, “…provides that individuals who supported al-Qaeda or the Taliban are detainable only if the support was substantial. And it does not employ the phrase ‘enemy combatant.’” (It is not made clear by the Justice Department exactly how much support a terrorist has to provide for it to be considered “substantial” by the Obama administration.) The new policy “…draws on the international laws of war.” Attorney General Holder states, “As we work toward developing a new policy to govern detainees, it is essential that we operate in a manner that strengthens our national security, is consistent with our values, and is governed by (international) law.” The new Attorney General apparently prefers following international laws to those of the United States—laws which he took an oath to follow and protect. (Mindful that our Founding Fathers fought a revolution to free themselves from British law, Georgetown University professor Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz has proposed a Constitutional Amendment to forbid the practice of using foreign laws to interpret or change U.S. laws. The Amendment reads simply, “This Constitution was ordained and established by the People of the United States, and so it shall not be construed by reference to the contemporary laws of other nations.”) [1715, 2067]
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« Reply #131 on: July 29, 2009, 02:48:08 pm »

            Attorney Orly Taitz travels to the University of Idaho to attend a public event featuring Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. During the question and answer session after Roberts’ remarks, Dr. Taitz is able to mention the Lightfoot v. Bowen case and complain that she believes court clerk Danny Bickel sabotaged her efforts to get the case reviewed by the Supreme Court. Dr. Taitz had brought with her 350,000 signatures on petitions asking that the case be heard, along with all the relevant documents of the case (including Taitz’s motion to reconsider Lightfoot v. Bowen, Quo Warranto Easterling et al v. Obama, 3,300 pages of petitions, and a copy of a 164-page dossier sent to Attorney General Holder). Chief Justice Roberts agrees to accept the documents, stating, “I will read your documents, I will review them. Give them to my Secret Service Agent and I will review them.” [1716, 1726, 1737]

            The New York Times reports that the Obama administration may be considering taxing employer-provided health insurance to raise as much as $246 billion per year in tax revenue. During the campaign in 2008, Obama harshly criticized his opponent, Senator John McCain, for even considering such a proposal. Under McCain’s plan, the taxing of employer-paid health insurance would be offset by tax credits for the cost of purchasing health insurance. The logic of McCain’s proposal is that, acting in their own economic self-interest, employees would purchase their own health insurance policies—policies that would likely be much less expensive than what their employers provide. (For example, an employee might buy a policy with a high deductible or out-of-pocket limit in order to save money on premiums, or a policy that covers the “big-ticket” items but not occasional physician visits for things like strep throat.) The Obama administration’s plan would more likely tax the employer-provided health insurance but not also provide a tax credit toward the purchase of an individual policy. Instead, the employee would, in order to avoid higher taxes, simply elect to be covered by Obama’s nationalized health plan. Thus, Obama would force socialized health care on the nation by making it economically impractical to remain under a private plan. Obama could argue that his plan provides “choice”—but the choice would be between his highly regulated federal plan and a tax-penalized private plan. Obama’s budget director, Peter Orszag, has also previously suggested taxing employer-provided health benefits. Orszag’s current position is that the option “most firmly should remain on the table.” [1718]

            Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar cancels oil and gas leases on 77 parcels of federal land, covering about 130,000 acres in Utah. Republicans, meanwhile, urge Salazar to approve offshore drilling with 31 previously planned oil and gas lease sales. There are an estimated 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas off U.S. coasts, according to the Department of the Interior, but it is unclear how Obama intends to make the United States energy independent while at the same time prohibiting drilling for oil and gas. The cancellation of the leases will cause job losses in Utah and cost the state millions of dollars in annual tax revenue. (The December 19 lease sales were disrupted by an environmental activist, Tim DeChristopher, who offered the winning bid of $1.8 million for leasing 31 of the 77 parcels. DeChristopher is a University of Utah student who never intended to pay for the leases (and likely does not have the $1.8 million either) but wanted to prevent legitimate businesses from gaining access to the drilling rights. Federal charges against DeChristopher may be filed.) Placing U.S. continental and offshore oil and gas field off-limits for drilling, while imposing massive energy taxes on anyone who dares to emit carbon dioxide, prompts some to label Obama’s energy plan nothing more than, “Lock up the best and tax the rest.” [1719, 1720, 1721, 1722, 2304]

            State sovereignty resolutions run into opposition in Arkansas, Washington, and New Hampshire, where Democrats kill them in committee or in floor votes. About half the remaining states with current resolutions in progress have Democrats controlling one or both houses in the legislatures, making passage less likely. Despite strong grass roots support for the resolutions in many states, Democrats seem unable to muster the courage to recognize, let alone support, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. [1724]

            Polls reflect that an ever-increasing number of Americans suspect Obama is in over his head. Actions taken by Obama to help the economy may actually make it worse, according to 83 per cent of those surveyed; 82 per cent are worried about the incredible rise in the national debt; 78 per cent believe inflation is on the way; and 69 per cent have no confidence in government-mandated fixes. Only 60 per cent believe the stimulus bill will stimulate the economy, and 12 per cent believe it will unfairly help irresponsible people. Nevertheless, Obama’s generic approval ratings remain relatively high—mostly because Americans currently blame Congress more than they blame him. [1725]

            North Korea announces it will launch a rocket over Japan and toward the Pacific Ocean between April 4 and 8. Japan protests and announces it has the right to shoot down the rocket because its trajectory is a danger to the nation. (The first stage of the rocket is expected to land within 75 miles of Japan.) “Legally speaking,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura, “if this object falls toward Japan, we can shoot it down for safety reasons.” A launch by North Korea would be in violation of a 2006 U.N Security Council resolution banning any ballistic missile activity by the communist nation.  A launch would “threaten the peace and stability in the region,” states U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.  Obama’s State Department spokesman, Robert Wood, says, “We think the North needs to desist, or not carry out this type of provocative act, and sit down… and work on the process of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” Some argue that Obama’s election created a “power vacuum” and the world’s more dangerous nations, sensing weakness in the new president, intend to fill it. North Korea’s action is seen by some as a provocation simply to see what Obama will do, with the expectation that he will do nothing but issue a weak statement of condemnation with no follow-up action. [1730]
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« Reply #132 on: July 29, 2009, 02:49:35 pm »

            At a time when the economy is in less than ideal shape and the national debt is growing by trillions of dollars, Obama decides the federal government needs to spend tax money on a new White House staff position. The new employee, Kareen Dale, will be charged with “overseeing arts and culture.” (Dale, a partially blind lawyer, had been the Obama campaign’s national disability director.) The White House describes the new position as “a big step forward in terms of connecting cultural and government with mainstream administration policy.” (Justification for a federal employee charged with “overseeing arts and culture” is nowhere to be found in the U.S. Constitution.) [1732]

            The Organizing for America (OFA) project is officially unfurled. OFA is a grass roots movement according to Obama, but it is sponsored and funded by the Democrat National Committee. OFA will use a massive database of Obama supporters (estimated at 13 million) that was collected during the campaign to “mobilize support for the president’s legislative agenda.” Individuals who sign up are asked to take a pledge… to Obama and his “bold plan.” Obama will use OFA to enable him to contact people most willing to lobby for his proposals. When he needs to “round up the troops” OFA will, for example, issue mass e-mails to members requesting them to pressure their neighbors, local community leaders, and Congressmen to “help Obama succeed.” The OFA Web site asks individuals to “Create a Pledge Project Canvass in your neighborhood on Saturday, March 21st, to knock-on-doors and ask your neighbors to take a pledge of support for President Obama’s bold approach to renew America’s economy and invest in energy, health care, and education.” [1849, 1850, 1875]

            The OFA Web site includes planned activities such as an April 4 Chicago workshop, “Getting Paid to cause Trouble: Careers in Organizing for Social Change (Community Service).” An article in The American Thinker points out that organizers from various Illinois unions will be present at the event and asks, “Since when is training union organizers, or recruiting people into a union organizer training program, ‘community service’?” [1994]

            The New York Times reports, “The Obama administration is signaling to Congress that the president could support taxing some employee health benefits, as several influential lawmakers and many economists favor, to help pay for overhauling the health care system. The proposal is politically problematic for President Obama, however, since it is similar to one he denounced in the presidential campaign as ‘the largest middle-class tax increase in history.’” [2530]

            On CNN’s State of the Union program on March 15, former Vice-President Dick Cheney warns that Obama’s policies “raise the risk” of a terrorist attack and points to the scheduled closing of the detention camp at Guantanamo, limiting interrogation methods, and suspending military tribunals for captured terrorists. Cheney states, “When you go back to the law enforcement mode, which I sense is what they’re doing… they are very much giving up that center of attention and focus that’s required, and that concept of military threat that is essential if you’re going to successfully defend the nation against further attacks.” Cheney also confirms that the policies the Bush administration had in place, which Obama is trying to eliminate, successfully prevented a number of specific terrorist attacks after September 11, 2001; but he adds that the information is “…still classified. I can’t give you the details of it without violating classification, but I can say there were a great many of them.”  Cheney is also critical of Obama’s choice of Christopher Hill as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. “He’s not the man I would have picked for that post. He doesn’t have any experience in the region. He’s never served in that part of the world before. He doesn’t speak the language,” and has “none of the skills and talents” of his predecessor, Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Cheney said that Crocker deserves credit, along with former Iraq commander General David Petraeus, for “the success we’ve seen now in Iraq.” Hill had been an ineffective negotiator with North Korea over its nuclear program. Cheney remarks that, “I didn’t think the North Koreans were going to keep their end of the bargain in terms of what they agreed to, and they didn’t.” Cheney likely suspects Iran will be no more trustworthy than North Korea, and that its regime can hoodwink Hill as easily as had North Korea. [1733, 1758]

            Christina Romer, head of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, appears on NBC’s Meet the Press and is asked if the fundamentals of the economy are sound. She replies, “Of course they are sound,” even though Obama budget director Peter Orszag had said only a week earlier that “fundamentally, the economy is weak.” (During the campaign, when the economy was in better shape and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was about 4,000 points higher, Senator John McCain was criticized by Obama and the media for insisting that “The fundamentals of the economy are strong.”) Romer states that $730 million of the $787 billion stimulus package would be available to help owners of small businesses via reduced lending fees and higher loan guarantees. “We know that small businesses are the engine of growth,” said Romer. “We absolutely want to do things to help them.” If the administration believes that small businesses are the engine of job growth, it should not have allocated less than one-tenth of one per cent of the stimulus bill funds for them. The $730 million allocated to help small businesses at a time of economic crisis is even less than the $900 million the Obama administration pledged to the Palestinian Authority. Some wonder about Obama’s priorities when more money is given more quickly to people who hate the United States than to the hard-working men and women who maintain the engine of the American economy. ($730 million for the 23 million small businesses in the United States is an average of only $31.74 per business if it were to be disbursed equally.) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell remarks that the Obama administration is “…taking advantage of a crisis in order to do things that had nothing to do with getting us into the crisis in the first place.” [1734, 1743, 1749, 1782]

            On March 15, as many as 4,000 angry citizens gather at Cincinnati’s Fountain Square for the latest of many tea party tax protests directed at high taxes and wasteful government spending. “I’m frustrated with the way things are going in Congress. They need to remember that they work for us, and right now, we don’t approve,” says protestor Sean Lynch. “This is not a Democrat thing or a Republican thing, it’s a government thing.” One five-year-old girl in the crowd holds a “Where’s my free pony?” sign, and her mother expresses concern that her daughter’s generation would be stuck paying for “today’s excessive government spending.” To date, at least 150 such tea party protests have been held or have been scheduled. Nationwide tea party protests are scheduled for April 15, 2009. [1738, 1745, 1755, 1859, 1938]

            A March 15 Rasmussen poll shows Republicans leading Democrats 41 to 39 per cent on a “generic congressional ballot.” This marks a significant change, as the “generic Democrat” candidate has led the “generic Republican” candidate in the poll for years. [1792]
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« Reply #133 on: July 29, 2009, 02:50:08 pm »

            Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke appears on CBS’s 60 Minutes on March 15 and says the recession might end in 2009 if banks lend more freely again and the financial markets start working more normally. (To some critics Bernanke’s remark is about as astute as, “The blizzard might end if the wind dies down and it stops snowing.”) Bernanke cautions, “We’ve seen some progress in the financial markets, absolutely, but until we get that stabilized and working normally, we’re not going to see recovery. But we do have a plan. We’re working on it. And, I do think that we will get it stabilized, and we’ll see the recession coming to an end probably this year.” Bernanke also warns that the unemployment rate of 8.1 per cent will likely continue to climb. [1740]

            Obama’s March 16 Rasmussen Presidential approval index is +4, his lowest rating to date. The +4 represent the difference between those who strongly approve of Obama’s performance (36 per cent) and those who strongly disapprove (32 per cent). [1739]

            Obama names Van Jones to a newly created position as special advisor on “green” jobs. Jones is an admitted radical communist and Black Nationalist, and is the founder of Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM). [2323, 2324]
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« Reply #134 on: July 29, 2009, 02:50:56 pm »

AIG Bonuses and Demagoguery

 

Obama, top Democrats, and more than a few Republicans excoriate AIG for issuing $165 million in bonuses to executives, after having received federal bailouts of $173 billion. ($173 billion is enough to pay the electric bill of every American for an entire year.) Obama states he’s doing everything he can to stop the payment of the bonuses and asked Treasury Secretary Geithner to “pursue every single legal avenue.” If the bonuses are required by employee contracts, he has little, if any, ability to rescind them. (Stopping the bonuses would be tantamount to taking away a sales commission defined in one’s employment contract.) It is also the case that the bailouts, which Obama voted for as Senator, were approved with virtually no restrictions. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CN) even inserted language in the bailout bill to exempt the bonuses from being rescinded. The bill provided an “exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed to on or before February 11, 2009.” (Dodd is the Senate’s largest recipient of campaign donations from AIG, having received $103,100. Obama was close behind, collecting $101,332 from the company.) If the government is able to prevent the payment of the $165 million in bonuses, it is effectively also removing that $165 million from the New York economy. The bailout money was essentially given to the Secretary of the Treasury (first Henry Paulson, and then Timothy Geithner) to disburse as they saw fit. (ABC’s George Stephanopolous later remarks, “They feel caught in a bind. When they respond to this populist anger, they feel they get a very negative reaction from the business community and the stock market. When they try to appease the business community and the stock market, the public rises up. It’s a tough dilemma.”) While Obama criticizes AIG’s bonus payments, it is disclosed that $93 billion of the $173 billion given to AIG went not to AIG but to Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (former employer of Secretary Paulson, which received $12.9 billion) and several European banks, including Germany’s Deutsche Bank ($11.8 billion), France’s Societe Generale ($11.9 billion), Great Britain’s Barclays ($8.5 billion), and Switzerland’s UBS bank ($5 billion). U.S. taxpayer money was thus used to bail out a company whose major investors are German, French, British, and Swiss. [1743, 1760, 1762, 1763, 1774, 1785, 1787, 1796, 2111]

            Had AIG been allowed to file bankruptcy and not been given federal bailout money in the first place there would have been no fuss about executive bonuses, because salary and bonus contracts would have been nullified and voided under the bankruptcy provisions. There would have been a liquidation and sale of the company’s assets, and the taxpayers would have saved $173 billion. Obama and Geithner pretend as though they knew nothing of the executive bonuses, but it was Geithner who was the main architect of the AIG bailout months earlier, working on bailouts with Paulson and Bernanke even before Obama’s inauguration. [1788]

            While Obama and Congress feed the public’s “hate Wall Street” frenzy for its massive losses, most Americans and the media seem to have forgotten that less than a year earlier everyone was consumed with anger over Exxon Mobil’s record profits. The oil giant made $11.68 billion in profits in the second quarter of 2008 ($1,485.55 in profits per second), but paid $32.36 billion in taxes ($4,114 in taxes per second). It is not clear what the politicians and American citizens expect from private enterprise, when being successful and making a profit results in scorn and resentment, and losing money generates hatred and anger. (It is assumed that Congress will not consider legislation requiring that all American businesses earn exactly zero profit and zero losses.) [1877]

            The Department of Defense terminates its sale of expended military brass to re-manufacturers. New rules require that fired brass shell casings be destroyed, rather than sold for re-use. Re-manufacturers will no longer be able to buy surplus brass from the government. It will instead be shredded and sold as scrap, most likely to China (one of the world’s largest purchasers of U.S. metals). This policy change will make it more difficult for ammunitions manufacturers to meet consumer demands; that will cause prices to skyrocket. [1751]

            In response to former Vice-President Dick Cheney’s warning that Obama’s policies “raise the risk” of a terrorist attack, Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, sarcastically tells the press on March 16 “I guess Rush Limbaugh was busy so they trotted out the next most popular member of the Republican cabal.” Gibbs adds that “The president has made (it) quite clear that keeping the American people safe and secure is the most serious job that he has each and every day,” but does not address the specific points raised by Cheney: that the closing of Guantanamo and CIA detention camps, weakening detainee interrogation methods, and suspending military tribunals for enemy combatants will merely embolden terrorists who believe the new administration is weak. [1733, 1758]

            In retaliation for the termination of an experimental NAFTA program allowing Mexican trucks to cross the border into the United States (up to 20 miles) for deliveries, Mexico announces a 90 per cent tariff on products from the United States. The tariff is expected to affect $2.4 billion in annual trade and at least 90 agricultural and industrial products. Teamster President James Hoffa, Jr., calls the tariff increase an “absurd reaction,” and adds, “The right response from Mexico would be to make sure its drivers and trucks are safe enough to use our highways without endangering our drivers. The border must stay closed until Mexico upholds its end of the bargain.” Obama is expected to work to reinstate the NAFTA program. If the dispute is not resolved, American jobs will be lost because of selling billions of dollars less in products to Mexico. (There are about 6.5 million trucks in the United States and the NAFTA program has involved fewer than one hundred from Mexico.) [1688, 1764, 1874, 2530]
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