Saturday, July 31, 2010

Maxine Waters Faces House Ethics Trial

Looks like Rep Maxine Waters, (D-CA) is in some hot water of her own making. According to The Washington Post, Waters is charged with violating House ethics rules by moving federal funds to a bank in which she and her husband have a stake. She insured the bank received TARP funds.

Waters is facing scrutiny for her efforts to arrange meetings in 2008 between Treasury Department officials and minority-owned banks, including representatives from OneUnited Bank. One of the sessions was geared toward ensuring that the banks received a share of bailout funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and OneUnited got $12.1 million in TARP money soon after the second meeting.

Waters reportedly did not tell Treasury Department officials that she had personal and financial ties to OneUnited. Waters's husband, Sidney Williams, had served on the bank's board of directors and owned shares in the company worth at least $500,000. Waters herself had previously owned shares in the bank herself but sold them years earlier.

Waters finds herself in the same spot as fellow Black Caucus member Rep Charlie Rangel. Neither have agreed, to date, to settle their case before the trial by House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

Waters was responsible in arranging meetings between OneUnited Bank and the Treasury Department to secure TARP funds. The result is that OneUnited Bank received $12.1 million. What Waters didn't disclose at the time was that her husband, Sidney Williams, served as a director on the bank's board and held shares in the bank worth at least $500,000. At one time Waters herself owned shares in the bank but at the time of the talks the shares had been sold.

Waters claims she was just providing a way for minority-owned banks to receive their fair share of government bailout monies.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fundraiser-in-Chief Obama

With the ascension of Barack Obama as President of the United States, we were promised change. Lots and lots of change. We gotten it, alright. It's just wildly unpopular change. About the only function Obama has left is to raise money - without press present - for the Democratic party.

As Michael Barone reminds us, "Two years ago, Barack Obama was elected president with a historic 53 percent of the vote -- more than any other Democrat in history except Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson". He has squandered any good feelings from the majority of the American people.

As written in The Washington Times, President Obama is chasing the big bucks for the Democratic party. The president is headlining four Democratic fundraisers in three days and hosting another four events next week. For now, he's playing it safe, holding the eight events in noncompetitive states or in a competitive place where he's sure to be embraced - his home state of Illinois.

Despite increasingly low polling numbers, he can still sell high dollar tickets to fundraising events. This is what a president does. Even during the darkest of days in the Bush administration, people were willing to attend fundraising events with him as the headliner. The president is traditionally viewed as the head poohbah of his party and the task of fundraising for the party is all important.

The ironic thread with the current president, however, is shining forth for even the most slobbering of reporters to note. As Michael Shear writes in The Washington Post,And yet as his poll numbers slide, the president's greatest utility to Democratic candidates may not be his presence at campaign events -- some would prefer that he keep his distance -- but his still impressive skill at vacuuming up millions of dollars from some of the country's richest and most generous donors.

After eighteen months in office, after eighteen months with the bully pulpit, after eighteen months of lambasting Wall Street executives and successful CEO's, guess who comprise the guest lists for Obama fundraisers? Obama loves him some "fat cats", though he enjoys making them the villains in political agenda speechifying.

The DNC has a $50 million fund for campaigns throughout the country. The Hill reports To date, the DCCC has received $1.5 million, the DSCC has received $1.5 million, and various governor’s races have received a total of $1.5 million in support.

The Hill reports the latest Democratic scheme in the pool of re-election moves is to paint the GOP in line with the Tea Party movement. “You don’t know where the Republican Party ends and the Tea Party begins, and they have to own that,” she said. Wasserman Schultz said the Tea Party had some “disturbing elements” and noted, based on her own observation, “there are racist elements in the Tea Party.”

While Wasserman Schultz said the events of last summer featured “a lot of people who really were abusive and rude,” there has been “no angst expressed in caucus meetings over that happening again.”
Good thing all those paid union members bussed into Connecticut towns to protest CEO's of bailed out companies and banks never acted "abusive and rude".

Locally, the Houston Tea Party Society is doing a series of Grassroots Training Series for those willing to stop the influx of Democratic money and people on the ground. From a recent message: November is right around the corner. Do you know what the Left is doing in Harris County? Do you know how many people they are bringing in from all over the nation to train to register new voters? Do you know how many hundreds of thousands of dollars they are spending here on getting out the vote?

And those polls Obama claims he doesn't really pay any attention to? Sam Stein at HuffPo reports he's paid more out to conduct them than Bush did. The White House declined to comment on the nature of its polling, noting that it was done under the purview of the DNC. But sources familiar with the expenditures say that the administration has indeed done broad-themed polls on several recent hot-button issues including immigration and energy reform. And while the administration claims it hasn't made decisions based on the results, it does put heavy stock in the data.

Among the firms that have benefited are David Binder Research, which has been paid close to $800,000 this cycle; Harstad Strategic Research, which was paid more than $850,000; Benenson Strategy Group, which took in the biggest haul at $2.36 million; and AKP&D Message and Media -- WH Senior Adviser David Axelrod's old firm - which has not done polling itself but for $334,000 has helped coordinate messaging and questions for the polls, prompting the CRP to define those receipts as a polling expense.
It's good to be a part of the Chicago gang!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Arizona SB1070 Blocked By Judge Bolton

The much anticipated decision by Judge Susan Bolton yesterday on the Arizona legislation dealing with illegal immigration brought forward an important question: Why hasn't President Obama visited the Arizona border? He has an open invitation to go there with Governor Brewer to see up close the problems that brought about this legislation.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton issued a temporary injunction against SB1070, the Arizona legislation set to be new law today dealing with the thorny issue of illegal immigration. The interesting chatter of activist judges entered the public discourse by those for and against her ruling.

From the website Judgepedia: On the recommendation of U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, Bolton was nominated to the United States District Court for the District of Arizona by President Bill Clinton on July 21, 2000 to a seat vacated by Robert Broomfield. Bolton was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 3, 2000 on the unanimous consent of the Senate and received commission on October 13, 2000

Those who agree with her decision call her a conservative judge. The fact that Arizona Senator Jon Kyl recommended that former President Clinton name Bolton to the bench is the reasoning that she is a conservative. The fallacy of that train of thought is that the members of the other party are often consulted when a President makes a decision on a judge opening to fill and that member chooses someone believed to be the best of the choices given. It would be safe to assume Clinton did not present any names that a Republican would have had on the list. In this case, Kyl would have thought Bolton was the best of the choices available. So, is she a conservative judge? Probably not.

Those who supported SB1070 no doubt believe this is another case of judicial activism.

So, what was the ruling? Judge Bolton stopped the major pieces of the legislation. She blocks the requirement that law enforcement determine immigration status when a person is stopped under suspicion of breaking the law. This was the heart of the law. This doesn't mean an officer cannot ask for proof of legal status, it only means if the person isn't carrying the proof then that person cannot be arrested for illegally being in Arizona. Bolton states this is a federal issue.

The ruling struck down the provision that it is a crime for an illegal immigrant to seek work. It does allow prosecution of employers hiring illegal immigrants - specifically those who scout commonly used areas where illegal immigrants congregate and wait for those needing workers to come by.

Judge Bolton agrees something must be done. She is concerned, however, that law enforcement will have too great a burden by directing them to check immigration status if they suspect a person is here illegally. She is concerned abuses will occur and lawsuits will be plentiful. Arizona can maintain it is illegal for a city to be a sanctuary city. Arizona can maintain it is illegal to pick up workers at locations they frequent as illegal immigrants waiting for work opportunities. It keeps in place that it is unlawful to transport human beings into the country illegally. Those are statements we can all agree on in this debate.

This goes on to the 9th Circuit now as the appeals are filed. The 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, is known as the most liberal in the country. It is also the most overturned by the Supreme Court. And, rest assured, this will go all the way at the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's The Obama Fatigue, Stupid

We are 97 days out from the mid-term elections in November. Anticipating a very bad evening of Democratic losses, the President is hitting the road to spotlight pet projects of his hugely unsuccessful stimulus spending programs.

Unfortunately for the President, Americans are just plain tired. We are tired of the bad news of the very, very slow economic recovery. We are tired of the constant wah-wahing by President Obama about Republican opposition to his grand agenda. We are tired of the daily barrage of photo ops and bon mots uttered to the White House press corps without actually answering any questions. We are tired of learning that yet another huge piece of legislation has passed without the politicians voting on it having read the thing - financial "reform" being the last example.

Americans are fearful. There is too much uncertainty circulating around of the future as it will unfold under sweeping changes. We will be paying higher fees and taxes for a nationalized health care system that will not be fully implemented until 2014. We are still having a tough time with small business loans and personal financing matters, though we are told the money is there - it's just being hoarded. We are told it is not right for the Bush tax cuts to remain in effect though most Americans benefited from them, not just "the rich". And, where did the cut off of $250,000 come from when determining who is rich and who isn't? "Rich" is a relative term to most Americans. "Rich" in Bedford, Indiana is not "rich" in Manhattan, financially speaking.

Americans are angry. Americans were sold a bill of goods in the candidacy of Barack Obama, one of hope and change and post-partisan and post racial and no red states/blue states, just the United States. The popularity of the President is suffering - his policies are out of touch with main street Americans and they are angry he stubbornly carries on as though it is just that he hasn't gotten his message out. We have heard the message. We want no part of it. Now, in order to beef up his points with housewives, he will be a guest on a morning talk show moderated by 4 women. He was a guest on the show as he ran for President, as were Hillary and McCain but now he is President. It is not becoming for the President to behave as a celebrity, not a statesman. He doesn't have room in his very busy fundraising schedule to stop by and speak at the historic 100 year anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America jamboree in Washington, D.C. but there's time to yuk it up with the fawning ladies, who noted as they made their announcement that Obama would be a guest - "last time we called him Barack. Now we'll address him as Mr. President". Oh, how exciting. Too bad, Boy Scouts. Obama truly buys into his own publicity - he thinks he's a celebrity, and behaves as such. It is sickening, not endearing.

Americans are waiting for Obama to rise to the position. There is much need for a strong leadership who instills confidence that we are going on the right track. Consumer confidence is at an all time low. Unemployment is at 9.5% and rising, not dropping. Public sector employment is rising and private sector hiring is stalled. The housing bubble that burst and caused the current recession has not been addressed. In the behemoth financial regulation 'reform' bill, neither Fannie Mae or Freddy Mac were addressed. The Senate Majority Leader claims Social Security is solvent and we are not to worry about that. Never mind that in a matter of a very few years, the projected payouts will outpace the contributions to the fund. There have been no attempts to reform Social Security since former President Bush tried and the Democrats shut that initiative down. From 2007 to 2009, Democrats were in control of Congress with a GOP president. They were very adept at being the party of no.

Our country's people are falling into a Carter-esque malaise. It is not just the economy, it is Obama fatigue.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rally for Economic Survival

A Rally for Economic Survival was held at the Cajundome in Lafayette, LA on July 21, 2010. More than 11,000 people joined local and state politicians to express their demand that the offshore deep water oil drilling moratorium be lifted and allow the oil industry to survive in the Gulf of Mexico.

The federal moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico threatens to destroy tens of thousands of jobs in Louisiana and devastate the economy in less than a year. Concerned citizens will pack the Lafayette Cajundome on July 21st to send a message to the Obama administration to lift the moratorium immediately. The Rally for Economic Survival will feature local, state and national speakers who share the same concern that the moratorium will create a seismic economic ripple effect that will negatively impact every citizen of the United States.

Billy Nungesser expressed it like this: "This moratorium will turn Louisiana into a state of bankrupt businesses," said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who has become a familiar face on national news outlets as his parish battled the aftermath of the oil spill.

"It will cripple the economy of a state that has come back after Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. And we can't afford to be crippled again."

It is brutally obvious at this junction that the Obama administration intends to push an anti-drilling agenda. The Deepwater Horizon explosion was the tragic incidence that is to be used to "not let a crisis go" as the paraphrase from Rahm Emanuel is frequently quoted, to push the green agenda at the expense of our Gulf coast way of life. Green is useful in a comprehensive energy plan but it is decades away from making a real difference. To push aside deep water offshore oil drilling is to send more money to countries who do not necessarily have our nation's best interests at heart. Our dependence on foreign oil is at 62%. Do we really want to continue increasing that dependence?

Interior Secretary Salazar claims the commission set up by President Obama to study the disaster and make recommendations will be able to shed light on the way forward. Nonsense. The commission is stacked with vocal, activist career people from the world of environmental extremists with no intention of supporting oil drilling. They will insist the risk is not worth the potential for damage. This is not the history of the oil industry - up until April 20, 2010 - but that will not matter to them. This is their shot at putting into place their agenda.

From American Thinker: If the president's intention was to prevent future leaks, why would he appoint a commission with no knowledge of drilling? The answer, it would seem, is that this commission was never meant to perform the task it was officially charged with. It was never really intended to be a commission on drilling safety, but rather a group of environmental activists intent on regulating and taxing the oil and gas companies out of business. Its report is unlikely to focus on improved safely measures with the intent of increasing oil and gas exploration and production. It will more likely issue a blueprint on how to restrict drilling while extorting profits from oil companies by way of new fees and regulation.

The residents of the Gulf coast deserve better. America deserves better.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Boycotts Do Not Work

As the oil in the Gulf of Mexico gushed, the frequent call for a boycott of BP was heard around the country. The problem with that call is BP is not the one feeling the pinch in such an action.

If you are an ordinary consumer and want to participate in a boycott of BP, what would you do? Stop filling up your vehicle's gas tank at the neighborhood gas station? If your answer is yes, think again. The person suffering from that decision is the small business owner operating the gas station. His/her family is dependent on your support.

It is in the country's best interests to support small business owners, especially as our country is still in the clutches of a deep recession and unemployment hovers around 10%. Most are struggling to hang on.

The biggest purchaser of BP's products is the federal government. Did you know that? No wonder BP was the top contributor to candidate Obama's campaign. They were backing the one with whom they placed faith in victory. Same with Wall Street, by the way, despite the demagouging by the president.

If BP continues to bleed profits, it is the shareholder who is penalized. A majority of BP stockholders are Brits. They are invested through pension funds. For the rest of this year, they have been told to forget about any more dividends paid out. Sorry, Granny, look elsewhere for grocery money. It is of no benefit for them to suffer.

Disagree with the Arizona illegal immigration legislation and pondering cancelling a vacation there? Who is hurt? The Governor still has her job and the citizens of the state still overwhelmingly support it, including the majority of Hispanic citizens of Arizona. The ones who suffer are the ones at the bottom of the employment ladder - the workers in restaurants, the cleaning staff at the empty hotels, the very workers the outraged pretend to support.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rangel Faces Ethics Violations Charges

Rep Charles Rangel (D-NY) has been found to be in violation of House ethics rules. After more than two years, Rangel now has the options of accepting the charges and staying on, standing for trial or resigning. The trial will likely be in September. It is likely his fellow Democrats will pressure him to resign instead of putting them through the bad political narrative so close to the mid-term election.

So, what it is that led him here? Rangel (D-N.Y.) has been under the House ethics committee's microscope since early 2008 after it was reported that he may have used his House position to benefit his financial interests. Two of the most serious inquiries have focused on Rangel's failure to declare $239,000 to $831,000 in assets on his disclosure forms, and on his effort to raise money for a private center named after him at City College of New York using his congressional letterhead.

In March, Rangel reluctantly stepped down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee -- a week after the ethics panel ruled in a separate case that he had broken congressional gift rules by accepting trips to conferences in the Caribbean that were financed by corporate interests. The panel said that, at a minimum, Rangel's staff knew about the corporate backing for the 2007 and 2008 trips -- and that the congressman was therefore responsible.

It is reported that had Rangel accepted the allegations against him, he could skip the trial in the House. Rangel remains defiant, however, and negotiations broke down between him and the subcommittee. To date, he has used more than $2 million from his campaign treasury on legal fees, according to the Washington Post article.

The Wall Street Journal reports on Rangel's alleged violations: Allegations include Mr. Rangel's failure to report assets and income totaling at least a half-million dollars that, when he "amended" his reporting last year, doubled his net worth; his use of four rent-stabilized apartments in New York's tony Lenox Terrace complex, including one that he used as a campaign office; concealing taxable rental income from his Dominican Republic beachfront villa at the Punta Cana Yacht Club; and using his official Congressional letterhead to solicit donations for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York.

Rangel stepped down as Chairman of the powerful, tax bill writing House Ways and Means Committee as his troubles mounted and the Democratic leadership could no longer ignore the atmosphere. All along, Rangel has maintained his woes are just oversights in paperwork, as though "forgetting" about half a billion of assets is commonplace.

When the Democrats took back the House of Representatives in 2007 and Nancy Pelosi became the Speaker of the House, she took great pleasure in the dramatic claim that the House would be the "most ethical" and "most transparent" ever. She claimed she would "drain the swamp". She made much of the ethical troubles of a few GOP members during the election leading up to her rise in power. You can count on the GOP returning the favor this fall. It is interesting that Rangel's chairmanship was safe up until the facts of his travel being paid for improperly came up. Tax evasion? Improper use of his federal office? Those allegations weren't enough to do it.

"Today's announcement is a sad reminder of Speaker Pelosi's most glaring broken promise: to 'drain the swamp' in Washington instead of presiding over 'the most honest, most open and most ethical' Congress in history," said Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Interior Dept Under Investigation For Document Tampering

The Inspector General sent a letter to the Natural Resources Committee Republicans: In response to a letter from Natural Resources Committee Republicans, Department of Interior (DOI) Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall today confirmed she is conducting an open investigation into allegations that the Department altered the 30-day safety report to the President on Outer Continental Shelf drilling to include recommendation of a deepwater drilling moratorium after it was peer-reviewed by seven experts from the National Academy of Engineers.

From Ranking Member Doc Hastings (W-04) “After thousands of Americans have lost their jobs, a federal judge has slapped back Secretary Salazar’s moratorium as ‘arbitrary’, and the experts themselves have publicly challenged the moratorium document, it’s certainly time for the Administration’s actions to be investigated. It is clear now more than ever that the government’s deepwater drilling decisions need to be guided by strong science, not partisan politics. If the Obama Administration purposefully manipulated the views of known experts on deepwater drilling and deceived the public, there should be serious consequences. The current moratorium on deepwater energy exploration is costing Americans their jobs and causing significant economic harm to a region that cannot afford more hardships.”

The hypocrisy of the Obama administration manifests in the talking points that they will rely on 'true' science. It is a slap at the former Bush administration, in their claims that the Bush administration fudged scientific conclusions to fit their agenda. Everyone reads into science what the desired result is for them. The debate on the extent of climate change on our planet is an example of that. The Obama administration is no different. In this case, in the rush to shut down deep water oil drilling and force a deliberate collapse of a vital energy industry, the Interior Department altered a statement from the scientists questioned on the need for the six month moratorium. Salazar's office altered the conclusions to fit it's desire for the moratorium.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Team Obama.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Michelle Bachmann Launches Tea Party Caucus

Rep Michelle Bachmann has gotten out in front of conservatives and received permission to establish the Tea Party caucus in Congress. She states it will be bi-partisan and offered membership to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as verification of that claim.

Bachmann said
the idea for the caucus originated when Republican Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul said that if he wins election this November, he would form a Tea Party Caucus in the Senate.

“’Well, we’re here. Why wait?” Bachmann said.“Lets go ahead and launch one.’”

Bachmann claims that 'average Americans' will be heard by the caucus, not a parade of experts normally called for testimony by caucuses. Never mind the irony that the Tea Party movement was founded on an independence of voters, not as an extension of either political party. The Tea Party activists enthusiastically criticize the GOP as loudly as the Democrats. Perhaps a natural home for them would be the GOP, as their premiere issue is financial responsibility, but that all remains to be seen.

If Bachmann and the politicians who have signed on to join the Tea Party caucus are most interested in speaking with and listening to "average Americans", there is a venue for that - town hall meetings. That is the Tea Party way. The caucus organization smacks of political opportunism by Rep Bachmann and the others. It is as though they are shouting, "see, we hear you and we'll pose for this photo together to prove that." Also, it is more publicity opportunities for Bachmann.

The Contract from America is a document used to demand candidate's loyalty to Tea Party principles. It's for show, too. Yet, politicians will fall for it. Purity tests don't work.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shirley Sherrod Is Owed An Apology And A Job

NAACP leadership has been taken for a ride. In order to prove relevance in today's world, where people of all races and background stories are more equal than ever, the NAACP allowed itself to be played as useful idiots for the Obama administration. A once powerful and noble organization has fallen on its own sword.

In today's bitter political atmosphere, a lazy but effective tactic to end an argument is to lob the racist card at one's opponent. Don't agree with President Obama? You must be a racist. Don't like this administration's policies of government involved in absolutely every aspect of our lives? You must be a racist. What? You didn't even vote for President Obama in the first place? You must be a racist. And heaven help you if you identify yourself as a member of the Tea Party movement. You clearly must be a racist.

Someone in the West Wing of the White House has decided that the only way to keep the mid-term elections from being a complete blow-out for the GOP is to once again turn it into an opportunity to cast inaccurate and hateful accusations against those seeking to gain power. Out of nowhere last week, the NAACP discussed and then voted on a resolution declaring the Tea Party crowd as racist. The national media seized upon this action and ran with it in every news cycle as important and breaking news.

Why the NAACP and why now? This came after a civil rights division attorney from the Justice Department resigned and went public with his allegations that the department is under orders to not prosecute black defendants for actions against alleged white victims. The mainstream media has largely ignored this man's claims and, if it is mentioned, it is to paint the man as a conservative with an agenda. That is code for racist in today's world where liberals rule. Are you a conservative? You must be a racist.

It is nothing new for liberals to assert that conservatives are racist. It is standard procedure to call a conservative opponent a racist to stop an argument over political policy in any debate. This tactic has brought our national discourse to a low place indeed.

So, in order to change the conversation from scrutiny of the Obama administration's Justice Department and its policies, the decision was made to attack its most vocal and newly powerful opponent - the Tea Party movement in general. This charge of racism has been ongoing and predictable from the beginning but with the NAACP's insertion into the fray it was impossible for the media to resist the chance to cover it as a big story.

Enter a 62 year old USDA employee in Georgia. As conservatives and those in the Tea Party pushed back on the banal attack from the NAACP, the finger pointing was in full escalation. Each side of the political spectrum blaming the other as more racist. Shirley Sherrod was making a testimonial style speech to the NAACP back in March.

A video clip of Ms. Sherrod's speech to a NAACP event in March was splashed on the Internet by a conservative website. It went viral in no time. Conservatives were eager to point out what looked like a liberal's racism on full display. She told a story of having a white farmer come to her office for assistance. Her office was set up to primarily help black farmers with problems so she felt conflicted. She said she gave the man as little help as she could - that she didn't use the full resources available to her. Then she went on to tell her story of a change of heart on racial matters - her attitude and heart changed. This was a story of redemption. The full video told the story, not the clip used to destroy her career. And her name.

The white farmer and his wife have since came forth with the fact that Ms. Sherrod ended up helping them to save their farm.

Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, fired Ms. Sherrod. Not only did this cabinet member act swiftly - so swiftly that Ms. Sherrod received the cell phone call while driving, demanding she pull over to the side of the road and resign right then and there - but it would appear that he acted without bothering to look at the full tape and hear the entire speech. This is the same mistake those crying out against Ms. Sherrod made. Ms. Sherrod received "at least three phone calls from the Obama administration", as she said on a cable television show that night, demanding she resign immediately to avoid the story ending up on a FOX News cable show hosted by a conservative opponent of all things Obama. Sherrod claims an undersecretary from the agriculture department told her the White House wanted her to resign, though the White House denies any involvement.

According to this in the Washington Post today, Vilsack acted so quickly because he pledged to right the wrongs of past racial discrimination within agriculture as he came into the position. Now that the whole story is out and the administration, along with the NAACP, has egg on its face, Vilsack is backpeddling: Tom Vilsack, USDA and civil rights leaders have some explaining to do.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said early Wednesday morning that he's willing to reconsider his decision to force Shirley Sherrod's resignation.

"I am of course willing and will conduct a thorough review and consider additional facts to ensure to the American people we are providing services in a fair and equitable manner," Vilsack said in a statement that arrived in inboxes after 2 a.m.

But to understand why he sought Sherrod's resignation so quickly, let's go back to February 2009. That's when Vilsack publicly vowed to tackle USDA's troubled civil rights history by ensuring that employees fairly treated minority and women farmers.

"Some folks refer to USDA as the last plantation, and it has a pretty poor history of taking care of people of color," Vilsack said at the time. "You've got outright bias and discrimination."

The NAACP gave the media a statement denouncing Ms. Sherrod as the controversy brewed. This is odd, since she was on a video the NAACP had in its possession - it was from their event, remember. Why didn't they look at the tape? By trying to get out in front of the story and save face, they slimed themselves. Useful idiots, indeed.

NAACP President Ben Jealous jumped on the dump Sherrod bandwagon early on. From this article, he said,
late Monday he was “appalled” by the actions of U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod, who resigned earlier in the day after video surfaced of her speaking at an NAACP event about discriminating against a white farmer seeking government help.

Jealous also promised to look into why members of the audience at an NAACP fundraiser in Georgia this past March reacted, as shown in the video, by nodding and in some cases laughing at Sherrod’s remarks. But Jealous distanced the national NAACP from the incident.
Also disturbing but mostly ignored is the fact that the audience members of Sherrod's speech laughed and nodded in agreement during the parts as she described her prejudice towards whites. Heal yourselves, NAACP members.

Then yesterday, as everyone became aware that the full story tells a different story of Ms. Sherrod, Jealous issued a statement that the organization was "snookered" by FOX News and the conservative blogosphere. He is too blinded by his own agenda to be embarrassed by such a small-minded statement. Does he really want to play victim as his organization's agenda is exposed? Why didn't he do due diligence and watch the whole tape before acting in the first place?

Ms. Sherrod is the victim of the worst edges of politics. Shame on Team Obama for conjuring the whole episode up. Barack Obama ran on a promise to be post-racial. We are waiting for him to step up and fulfill that pledge.

Ms. Sherrod is owed an apology from the White House and the NAACP. She is also owed her job back.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Business Leaders Turn Sour on Obama Agenda

Seems the Chamber of Commerce is over its crush on Obama. In a scathing open letter to President Obama, Congress and the American People, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that once the economy was stabilized, the White House and Congress took their "eyes off the ball."

"Instead of continuing their partnership with the business community and embracing proven ideas for job creation, they vilified industries while embarking on an ill-advised source of government expansion, major tax increases, massive deficits, and job-destroying regulations," the letter says.

The Business Roundtable has voiced concerns over Team Obama's approach to the economy, too. Current head of the organization, John J. Castellani, will leave to replace Billy Tauzin as the head lobbyist for Big Pharma.

The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executives of many of the largest U.S. corporations, is an influential player in the Beltway. The group said Thursday it was searching for a new chief to replace Castellani.

As head of the Business Roundtable, Castellani recently has expressed concerns that President Barack Obama is taking an overly tough stance toward the business community, at a time when some CEOs are beginning to speak out with similar concerns. He recently met with White House officials to detail certain regulations he believed were burdensome.

From a recent article in The Washington Post: In recent months, however, that relationship has begun to fray. First, Democrats included a provision in the health-care bill -- over the Roundtable's objection -- that reduced corporate subsidies for drug coverage to retirees, a move that could cost big companies millions of dollars. Then the EPA unveiled rules to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions even without climate-change legislation, creating uncertainty about the future cost of energy.

The final straw, said Roundtable president John Castellani, was the introduction of two pieces of legislation, now pending in Congress, that the group views as particularly bad for business. One, a provision of the administration's financial regulation overhaul, would make it easier for shareholders to nominate corporate board members. The other would raise taxes on multinational corporations. The rhetoric accompanying the tax proposals has been particularly harsh, Castellani said, with Democrats vowing to campaign in this fall's midterm elections on a platform of punishing companies that move jobs overseas.

The White House sent a response to the Chamber of Commerce: “While we may not agree on every single issue, we should always remember that there is much that we agree on and that we are all working toward the same goal of putting Americans back to work and getting our economy back on track. The stakes are far too high for us for to be working against one another,” Emanuel and Jarrett say in the letter.

“That is why we were surprised and disappointed at the rhetoric we have heard from some in the business community — rhetoric that fails to acknowledge the important steps this administration has taken every single day to meet our shared objectives.”

The stimulus spendapalooza has not jump started the economy. Home builders report their sector is at an all time low. Consumer confidence is stagnant. Major investors are holding on to up to a trillion dollars. The upcoming health care mandates and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts have business owners nervous. Barack Obama is not a business friendly leader. Without business support, there is no new job creation. The federal government can not continue to outpace the private sector with job creation.

Obama made a conscious decision to make Wall Street and business the bad guys in the class warfare he deals in for political gain. This has backfired. And, the American public is realizing the lack of true leadership skills from Obama. His poll numbers continue to fall.

Monday, July 19, 2010

TX Public Policy Foundation Analysis on Gulf Oil Spill

Financial Times online reports that Britain's Prime Minister Cameron will meet with President Obama this week to discuss the need for maintaining BP's financial viability. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico not only affects the financial well-being of tens of thousands of Americans but also Brits depending on pension dividends from BP.

The political attacks on BP in the US Congress have continued this week, with allegations over the company’s role in the release of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber, and a threat to stop it securing any more offshore exploration leases.

BP is concerned that the pressure from US politicians could cripple the company, leaving it vulnerable to a bid from ExxonMobil, the largest US oil group.

Carl-Henric Svanberg, BP’s chairman, met Mr Cameron on Friday to urge him to help counter the attacks being directed against BP from Capitol Hill.

Mr Cameron told Mr Svanberg that he did not want to inflame the row but that he would deliver a firm reminder to Barack Obama, US president, and congressional leaders of the importance of BP to the UK economy.

“The prime minister will be keen to make clear how important the company is as a UK employer and how important it is for pension funds,” one official said, speaking after the 45-minute meeting with Mr Svanberg.

This ties into another interesting aspect of the oil spill fallout - the deliberate attempts of the Obama administration to bring about an oil shortage within the U.S. due to its dangerous policy decisions. Not only has presidential leadership gone missing during this national crisis, the policies being made by the Interior Department and the EPA have strengthened the potential of further dire economic consequences along the Gulf coast.

Mario Loyola is a policy analyst in the Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit free-market research institute based in Austin, Texas. He has written extensively for national and international publications, including features for National Review and The Weekly Standard, and op-eds in The Wall Street Journal He writes the cover story for the latest issue of National Review magazine.

According to Loyola's analysis, much of what I have been writing about since the spill is in the works due to decisions being made by those determined to shut down oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Actions taken by the administration include the moratorium on offshore drilling, demands for assets before actual liabilities are proven, a standstill on issuing emissions permits for Texas refineries, and the lack of permits processed for license renewals of shallow water wells. The oil drilling industry can not survive like this. This appears to be the Obama plan.

Loyola notes that oil rigs will simply move overseas. As I have previously noted, Diamond has already announced that the company will move two rigs currently in deep water to Egypt. Blocking new wells prevents hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day from production. Diminished supply will increase prices to consumers. And that to the fact that foreign oil purchases will increase. Nations who are not our friends will profit as well as increase the likelihood of accidents to the environment - tankers carrying oil spill oil in much higher quantities than oil rigs. Remember, the Exxon Valdez was a tanker accident, not a drilling accident. The Deepwater Horizon tragedy is the first in the Gulf of Mexico's sixty year history of drilling in America's waters on the Gulf coast.

This administration is determined to decimate an entire industry for its own ideological tunnel vision. The continued insistence on a drilling moratorium and the ratcheted up regulations on an industry known as the most regulated in our country, is a knee jerk reaction which will cost Americans dearly in the pocketbook.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Obamas Vacation in Maine, Not Gulf Coast

The Obama are weekending in Bar Harbor, Maine. Good for them. The group includes staff, like best pal Valerie Jarrett, and also Bo, the family pooch. It was noted in the aforementioned link that Bo traveled in the second private jet, accompanied by staff and friends.

Let's get this out of the way - there is nothing wrong with the President of the United States enjoying a road trip with the family for some rest and relaxation. No matter the job held, everyone needs that. Get out of your personal bubble and regroup with a change of scenery, meet some new people, learn something new. It's all good.

This year, there is a gusher of an oil spill belching in the Gulf of Mexico. It may be contained but the clean up is ongoing. The tourist industry is vital to the Gulf coast. Tourists and area residents enjoy the beautiful beaches and family friendly getaways. President Obama finally mentioned that people should not be afraid to continue on with plans to vacation on the Gulf coast, as he visited briefly three weeks ago. And, it is noted he said it from the panhandle of Florida. Better late than never, we said. Yes, encourage people to support our Gulf coast.

So, what is the President doing himself? He goes to Maine for his very well publicized family getaway. True, it is undeniably beautiful and peaceful. Having had the pleasure of a month's stay in the Portland area a few years back, I can personally vouch for the area. Our little family enjoyed a fabulous July 4th there that summer and stuffed ourselves with fresh lobster to excess. The husband was commissioning an oil drilling rig at the shipyard and our son and I were able to join him there. It was great.

Can you imagine the impact a presidential family vacation would have on tourism on the Gulf coast? It couldn't hurt.

This again makes the words of the President look hollow. He must learn to lead by example. Whether it is his frequent photo op lunches eating hamburgers and fries as the First Lady preaches about healthy nutrition programs or making vacation suggestions to ordinary Americans, words and actions must mesh.

It is reported that a second family vacation is planned for Cape Cod. There is still time to change that. Will they?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Snake Oil, Mr. President?

Recently, President Obama went to Nevada to campaign for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in a tight race for re-election. The man who campaigned on his personal skills of rising above standard partisan politics was in full partisan voice. He amused himself with the use of the term "snake oil" in describing GOP policies. Such dignified speech from the President of the United States.

Well, if anyone knows "snake oil", it would be Barack Obama.

HERE some inconvenient facts on our economy: Let’s take a look at the facts. Unemployment when Obama came into office was 7.6%, it’s now 9.5%. Since Obama’s stimulus went into affect America has lost another 3 million jobs. The deficit, in George Bush’s last full budget year was $460 billion dollars. Obama has tripled that.

Obama went to Michigan this week and mocked Republicans who attend "ribbon cuttings" yet didn't support his massive spending/taxing bill passed earlier in his term. In this post on the Internet from the event, sponsored by Michigan Rep Pete Hoekstra now running for Governor, In the latest stop on his “Recovery Summer” tour, rock star President Barack Obama landed in Holland, Michigan Thursday, insulted its congressman, handed American stimulus dollars to a Korean corporation, and proclaimed Obamanomics a success even as Michigan has lost 94,000 jobs since his Recovery Act was enacted. It was most definitely a shot to Hoekstra, even though he was a host of the presidential publicity op and previously told a questioner that he would attend out of respect for the office of the President.

Too bad President Obama doesn't understand the importance of his office within the national discourse. Or, maybe part of his idea of 'change' is to so dilute the dignity of the office that simple bare knuckle politics will be expected from the Oval Office. Maybe he assumes Americans will be content with a president who simply chooses to publicly serve only his own political party. So much for the 'post partisan' Obama.

Completely void of leadership skills, Obama has lost credibility with even his own party. A recent article in - Financial Times - noted his growing credibility crisis. Even liberal pollsters are finding data that supports the premise that Americans feel the Obama agenda is too liberal. Stanley Greenberg of Democracy Corps and husband to a member of the House of Representatives who frequently works with James Carville, comes to this conclusion. He found that 55 per cent of Americans think Obama is a socialist and that 48 per cent of Americans support Republicans versus 42 per cent support for Democrats.

"The bottom line here is that Americans don't believe in President Obama's leadership," says Rob Shapiro, another former Clinton official and a supporter of Mr. Obama. "He has to find some way between now and November of demonstrating that he is a leader who can command confidence and, short of a 9/11 event or an Oklahoma City bombing, I can't think of how he could do that."

Ratcheting up the partisan name calling and ridicule of the minority party does him no favors. He is too small of a man, though to realize this. He confuses the Illinois state legislature with the Oval Office. His complete lack of executive experience is on display. The man never ran a business, a team of any kind, or a state government. It shows.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jindal Plan for Gulf Coast Revitalization

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has a plan for revitalization of the Gulf coast.

Jindal has issued a 4 point plan:
1.Implementing a coastal restoration plan by securing funding from Congress and other sources.
2.Certifying Louisiana’s seafood and getting fishermen back on the water.
3.Lifting the federal government’s offshore drilling moratorium before it devastates the Louisiana economy.
4.Holding BP accountable for damages until Louisiana’s wildlife, air and marshes are restored.

Governor Jindal has a well-deserved reputation as a hands-on manager for his state. He thinks out of the box and is open to all points of view. Unfortunately, he has been mostly on his own in handling this oil spill crisis. As BP and the federal government argue over who is in charge, Governor Jindal is doing the work on the ground.

With the Obama administration hell bent on pursuing the drilling moratorium that will be devastating to the Gulf coast, Governor Jindal has asked BP for $10 million for therapeutic and psychiatric services for those hard hit by such ill-advised policy. The moratorium will affect tens of thousands of people in and outside of Louisiana. Small businesses will not be able to remain in business, unemployment will rise, fishermen will not be able to pursue their livelihoods or pass on a generational business to their children. Wildlife is devastated, too. Health concerns for those living and working on the Gulf coast is a reality.

Barack Obama has no leadership or management skills. He leaves it to cabinet level staff who are ill equipped to make the important decisions outside of their own ideological lens. This is tragic.

Fortunately, Governor Jindal has risen to the role of crisis management.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Crisis Management by Committee - Day 86 of Oil Spill

This article from The Washington Times speaks to unintended consequences of the oil drilling moratorium. The six-month moratorium already has thrown thousands of oil workers in the Gulf region out of work and jeopardized the outlook for tapping the most promising prospects for oil discoveries in the U.S. since the 1970s.

But the repercussions from the work stoppage have only begun. Soon, an expected decrease in U.S. oil production will lead to increased imports to replace some of the 1 million barrels a day of oil produced in the Gulf, just as the nation had begun to make progress in reversing its rising dependence on foreign oil.

I think, at this point, with the continued promise of continuing on with the bans on offshore drilling that the Obama administration has determined it will double down and to hell with the people of the Gulf coast. I think this is the perfect opportunity for those in the administration who seek domination of environmental policies and energy policy to exploit this tragedy for their own ideologic goals. Useful idiots, like Homeland Security Director Napolitano will play along to get along.

Interior Secretary Salazar, a man who has made it perfectly clear that he is no friend to the oil drilling sector, has now issued a denial of drilling permits. As reported in the Houston Chronicle Oil and natural gas producers drilling in 500 feet or less of water will be able to resume operations once they resubmit exploratory plans and comply with new safety standards the Interior Department is set to begin advancing soon. In a drilling safety report issued May 27, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar provided a hint of some of the new requirements, including recertification of essential safety equipment and stiffened standards for capping wells.

This article speaks to the drilling rigs set to leave the Gulf of Mexico. Given that Diamond has put the process into motion by announcing its rigs moving to Egypt, this is not unexpected. In fact, it is what those of us living within the oil drilling industry have been shouting from the rooftops about.

“We believe the risk that a substantial number of deepwater rigs will leave the gulf has risen considerably,” FBR Capital Markets analysts wrote in a July 13 research note after Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar issued a new moratorium on deepwater drilling. A New Orleans federal judge struck down the first drilling ban.

Salazar reissued a drilling moratorium on July 12 until Nov. 30, pending interim rules that might end it sooner. He also reserves his right to end the moratorium earlier or to extend it.

“Despite the focus on a Nov. 30 horizon, we believe that the content of the decision memo will increase the uncertainty in the minds of the deepwater producers as to when the moratorium may end,” FBR analysts said.

The government has decided to allow its panels of non-drilling experts to set the pace for the latest effort to stop the gusher - the newer cap installation. This speaks to the new government demands delaying the testing.

BP's work to cap its Gulf of Mexico gusher was in limbo Wednesday after the federal government raised concerns the operation could put damaging pressure on the busted well and make the leak worse. There is concern that added pressure from the new cap could cause the leak to increase. The stopped flow may cause an underground rupture, to the government's way of thinking. The government 'experts' have consulted with academics and Energy Secretary Chu for the latest decision - to use an "abundance of caution" so that the valves to be shut and cap tests don't increase pressure on the well. The extent of the damage to the well bore and the casting pipe has been uncertain from the start.

Adm Allen has decided to instruct BP to proceed with the well integrity test. This will be done in six hour intevals and after 48 hours the testing will be in stand down mode. A question to be asked is, why was the public not told immediately that the testing of the new capping stack was delayed? The cap was put into place on Monday and on Wednesday afternoon we learn of the decision made by the government on its instruction to BP. Where is the transparency? It was a last minute evaluation, with Adm Allen describing it as so.

Crisis management by committee. Day 86.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

PolitiFact Vouches for GOP on Unemployment Benefits Vote

As verified and fact checked by PolitiFact, the Democrats claim that the Republicans in the Senate didn't want to extend unemployment benefits is false. PolitiFact leans left so the finding was interesting.

From June 18 through June 30, Senate Democrats failed to secure enough votes to extend unemployment benefits while increasing the deficit. Reid ultimately fell a vote short of the 60 votes needed to block a filibuster on an amendment that would have extended unemployment benefits through Nov. 30, retroactive to June 2, the expiration date for the previously extended benefits. The Congressional Budget Office projected the blocked extension would cost $33.9 billion through 2020.

Republicans said they would support extending benefits if they were paid for up front. And on June 30, McConnell, the minority leader, proposed a two-month extension — rather than the Democratic-backed extension through November — that he said reduced the deficit by $1.7 billion. How? By adjusting Medicaid payments, trimming stimulus-funded food stamps in 2014, cutting $600 million in stimulus-supported programs to expand broadband Internet access and eliminating a provision letting qualified residents receive their earned-income tax credit throughout the year instead at the end of the tax filing season.

So as the finger pointing continues in Washington and the Democrats continue to complain that the Republicans are simply the party of no and no alternatives, think about this nod from PolitiFact to the minority party.

Obama Sarcastic and Petulant on Campaign Trail

President Obama is not a happy warrior. It seems fitting that he drag out the ratcheted up campaign rhetoric as he stumped for Harry Reid in Nevada. Two peas in a pod, those two men. It's ugly out there with the deep discontent swallowing up the American voter and Barack Obama is nervous. The mid-term elections in November will not be pretty for him and he knows it. Americans are angry with the incumbents and in this cycle, that is a strong majority held by the Democrats, led by him.

This article speaks to the ugly side of the campaigning Obama:

Mid-term elections in November are crucial for Obama, as Republicans are threatening to win back the House of Representatives and trim the Democratic majority in the Senate.

Such a scenario would enable them to block the still ambitious political program the president is intent on passing.

Democrats see the polls with increasing dread -- a number of party big names -- including Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, are in unexpectedly tough reelection fights.

His mask of hope and change is long gone. Many of us have been proven correct in our assessment of him - he is a hyper partisan, not the post partisan he claimed to be. His skin is thin and he doesn't take criticism well - more in line with a petulant teenager. When he is up against opposition, he doubles down in the bad behavior and that is unfortunate. This personality trait does not flatter him. In this article by Roger L. Simon points out that Obama was elected on a lie. I think it is because Obama was elected on a lie, a big one that was enabled by the mainstream media, and that by the time he was in office he had spent his credit. Belief was gone. Everyone knew he was a liar, including many liberals, even if they wouldn’t admit it to themselves and even if they had colluded with him in the lie.

Obama has also gleefully seized on slip-ups by leading Republican figures, to launch explicit personal attacks. Essentially, they have little else, in the land of Obama.

Barack Obama's political world will very likely change dramatically in November. This may be a good thing for him, in the long run. Instead of being enabled and emboldened by the far left leaning leadership on the House and Senate he will have to learn to work with Republicans. He will have to tailor his political agenda to reflect more closely with the demands of the American voter. He will not be able to simply ram through legislation in the middle of the night - legislation that entails thousands of pages of words that no one has read and no one is able to answer questions on.

From an editorial in Sunday's Las Vegas Review-Journal, after the campaigning for Reid:

"Two years ago, the majority of American voters supported freshman U.S. Sen. Barack Obama for president. Today, neither he nor his party seem that popular. Why? No one supported candidate Obama on his achievements - military legislative, administrative, or creating jobs in the private sector. There weren't any. What they embraced was his vow to move past race and partisanship, to seek not merely Democratic solutions or Republican solutions, but bi-partisan solutions, multi-partisan solutions, American solutions...Instead, Mr. Obama was here to raise funds for one of those aforementioned graying partisans of the Senate, Sen. Harry Reid. And Mr. Obama continued to blame all his-and our- problems on the mess he inherited two years ago."

Sum it all up nicely.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Texas Democrat Loses Cool Under Pressure

Tx Rep Ciro Rodriguez loses his cool as he explains his yes vote for Obamacare:

Updates on the Gulf Oil Spill

The president's 'independent' oil spill commission meets for the first time today. Day 84 into this tragedy. They will first hear from Gulf Coast victims of the oil spill and from state officials.The commission will also dig into what it calls the root causes of the BP oil rig explosion, looking deeper than just equipment failures.

Adm Thad Allen was on a morning talk show today. Some of the boom equipment has been stolen lately and he spoke to the new security measures being taken along the area. He also spoke about the restrictions of journalists trying to report about the progress of the clean up and recovery. He indicated by opening up the area to too many people leaves the equipment and area vulnerable to thieves. That isn't a bit of the story normally heard.

Rep Henry Waxman sent a letter to Exxon Mobil's chairman asking for information on the health problems of clean up workers from the Exxon Valdez tanker oil spill. According to reports, more than 50,000 workers have been through two to four hours safety and awareness courses and 1,000 have been through a 40-hour training module on hazardous waste operations and emergency response (HAZWOPER).

The Subcommittee on Energy and Environment held a legislative hearing entitled “Legislation to Respond to the BP Oil Spill and to Prevent Future Oil Well Blowouts.”

Attorney General Holder, in a televised interview, stated that BP is not the only company or entity the government is considering legal action against in relation to the oil spill. "We opened a criminal investigation but did not indicate what the subject of the investigation was," Holder told CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer at the Aspen Institute's 2010 Aspen Ideas Festival. "There are a variety of entities and a variety of people who are the subjects of that investigation." Holder added, "For people to conclude that BP is the focus of this investigation might not be correct."

The containment cap has been removed and oil is now gushing without restraint into the Gulf of Mexico. This will continue until the new cap is in place, perhaps by the middle of the week, according to Adm Allen. Allen credited the decision from the Obama administration to approve the action to the weather, saying forecasters are predicting a seven to 10-day window of calm weather.

"We think this weather window presents a significant opportunity for us to accelerate the process of capping — shutting down the well from the top and increasing the prospects for being able to kill the well from below through the relief wells," Allen said.

Should the new containment cap take longer than anticipated to put into place, BP has given Allen a list of back-up actions. Should the initial action fail, BP's Bob Dudley provided this: it would be to station between the Deepwater Horizon site and the Gulf Coast nearly 400 boats and more than 50 aircraft that would be expected to spot and scoop up the additional oil that would flow into the Gulf between the time the current containment cap is removed and the time the new one is installed.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Chicago-Pol-In-Chief

The trial in Chicago of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is illuminating. Too bad the dinosaur press and the slobbering fans of Obama from cable television land are conveniently ignoring the implications towards the Chicago-Pol-In-Chief.

From The Wall Street Journal: This is a Barack Obama the White House would prefer the public not see. The conversation suggests a president who (like any good Chicago politician) knows the feds have half the city wiretapped, and so resorts to the wink-and-nod tactics of sending an emissary. It suggests a president whose first call on a big political issue was to a union boss. It suggests a president willing to elide the truth in an official report. It may be technically accurate that the president didn't directly speak to Mr. Blagojevich—and didn't directly demand Mrs. Jarrett—but that wasn't really the point, was it?

Clearly, the Obama domestic agenda is all about rewarding his union pals and stroking them for continued campaign support. And the big bucks. It is no coincidence that recently retired union president Andy Stern visited the White House more times than any other visitor. Now he just waits for the call from Obama to sit on commissions. How cozy.

From Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal: The president, of course, got his victory on health care. But a funny thing is, normally the press and the public judge a president's effectiveness in large part by legislative victories—whether he has "the ability to get his program through Congress." Winning brings winning, which increases popularity. Mr. Obama won on more than health care; he won on the stimulus package and the Detroit bailout. And yet his poll numbers continue to float downward. He is not more loved with victory. To an unusual and maybe unprecedented degree his victories seem like victories for him, and for his party, and for his agenda, but they haven't settled in as broad triumphs that illustrate power and competence.

The Chicago thuggery does not bode well in foreign relations either. Leslie Gelb, Council on Foreign Relations, believes the administration is clueless on the politics of the Middle East. He suggests advisers must be fired but actually, it is the top guy himself.

Gelb writes that Obama entered office with a “near-zero base of foreign-policy knowledge and no experience in the Middle East,” demanded a pre-negotiation halt to West Bank construction, to which “no Israeli leader, even a dovish one” would ever agree, adopted the “brilliant tactic” of publicly humiliating Israel’s prime minister (not even shaking his hand at the end of the prior meeting), and “only made matters worse” this week by appearing as if he were cowed by domestic politics into treating Netanyahu well. Gelb concludes that Obama needs new advisers.

As the piece points out, Netanyahu has made big inroads towards the peace process with no help from his Palestinean counterparts.

Over the past year, Netanyahu (1) formed a coalition government with parties to both his right and left, (2) proposed immediate negotiations with no preconditions, (3) formally endorsed a two-state solution (as long as one of them is Jewish and the other is demilitarized), (4) removed scores of West Bank roadblocks and checkpoints, (5) implemented an unprecedented settlement moratorium, and (6) plans even more gestures to the perpetually confidence-impaired Palestinians to encourage them to join negotiations to give them a state.

Obama did the 'my best friends are Jews' schtick to an Israeli reporter after Netanyahu's last visit. He actually said Jews in Israel are suspicious of him because his middle name is Hussein. Really. He said Rahm Emanuel is Israeli and that David Axelrod's parents are Halocaust survivors. Mazel tov, Barack!

It's not the middle name that is a problem with Obama. It is his ham-handed methods and his continuing actions that are meant to embarrass the foreign leaders unwilling to succumb to his vision of the world. To paraphrase James Carville, it's the policy, stupid.

And the blatant thuggery. Chicago style.

This piece notes the preferred campaign style of Barack Obama - naked partisanship and nasty political taunts. He's doubled down by bringing in sarcasm into the mix.

Obama road-tested his pitch to grassroots Democrats and wavering independent voters during a two-day western campaign swing last week, flinging partisan rhetoric at foes of his 17-month presidency.

His swipes at Republicans and calls for change were a reminder of stump skills that few US politicians can match, recalling his 2008 campaign.

But Obama also adopted a sarcastic tone, rarely seen back then, likely distilled from months of frustrating political combat in Washington.

Obama's poll numbers on job approval continue to drop. He is now in the mid 40's range and the country is sliding into a Carteresque malaise. No wonder, really, with this guy in charge.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 80 Of Oil Spill Comes and Goes

Day 80 has come and gone in the continuing battle to plug the oil gushing into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the Deepwater Horizon explosion. But, don't worry - we have a commission. What do presidents do when there are no other ideas out there? They call together a commission to jawbone it for a while.

From The Wall Street Journal, even the Democrats are not satisfied with the agenda coming from this bunch. The Democrats on the Senate Energy Committee noticed the absence of real experts in the energy field - certainly as it pertains to oil drilling - and came to the conclusion that some action was needed.

Five Democrats on the Senate Energy Committee last week delivered an embarrassing rebuke to the White House, voting with Republicans to have Congress set up an "independent" commission to investigate the BP disaster, bypassing the President's appointees. Offered by Wyoming Republican John Barrasso to broader oil-spill legislation, the amendment that passed the committee on an 15-8 vote charges the Democratic and Republican leaderships with naming a 10-person commission. It emphasizes that appointees should have "technical expertise in offshore oil exploration, health and safety, and environmental protection." Mr. Obama gets to name only the chairman.

And, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, made a legitimate point using the example of former President Bush, the favorite bad guy of Team Obama and the Democrat lemmings:

By contrast, the President's seven-member commission contains not a single expert on drilling or petroleum engineering and is instead loaded with such anti-oil and antidrilling activists as Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke and former Florida Senator Bob Graham.

"I would suggest to my Democratic friends that if the shoe were on the other foot, and President Bush was the President and he had submitted a list of names like this to us and everyone was related to the defense of oil companies, we would say this is not fair," said Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. "And I'm saying to my colleagues this is not fair." She was joined by Democrats Tim Johnson (South Dakota), Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas), Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire) and Mark Udall (Colorado).

The Obama administration plans to issue a new ban on deep water oil drilling within a week. Secretary Salazar and President Obama are clueless to the response and the effects of their actions. It looks as though they are simply committed to ending oil drilling in this nation and that is their folly. As a nation we currently import 62% of oil for our domestic consumption. Most of that is from nation's without our best interests at heart.

For 60 years, America has drilled for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. This is the first disaster.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Berwick's Recess Appointment Is Cowardly Move

The latest of the blame game is on in Washington. Without the GOP to blame for every ill hoisted upon the world, the Democrats have nothing but their own abysmal governance of the town. Now Team Obama is blaming the Republicans for the recess appointment of the new director of Medicare and Medicaid.

Did the White House forget that it is the Democratic party in charge of the process? Democrats have controlled Congress since 2007. Democrats schedule the hearings. Democrats call the votes. Democrats, simply put, have the power. This nomination was announced in April and no hearings have been scheduled. Why? Because the GOP has let it be known they are chomping at the bit for the committee hearings on this nominee. They want his record in full view of the American public. The last issue this administration wants to boil over again, as the mid-term elections approach, is the health care debate.

From The Washington Times: The top Republican on the Senate finance panel, Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, said he requested a hearing on Dr. Berwick two weeks ago.

"The American people have a right to know about Berwick's background, his past statements supporting rationing and government-run health care, and any potential conflicts of interest. All of that is hidden when the confirmation process is circumvented," Mr. Grassley said.

And from Byron York in the Washington Examiner: What has received less attention is that the House bypassed the Senate confirmation process after Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, asked Berwick for detailed information about the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a nonprofit organization Berwick founded and for which he serves as chief executive officer.

The Institute describes its work as an effort “to accelerate improvement [in health care] by building the will for change, cultivating promising concepts for improving patient care, and helping health care systems put those ideas into action.” It has about 110 employees and net assets of $49.5 million, according to its 2008 filing with the IRS. (2008 is the most recent year for which such filings are publicly available.) A 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, the Institute reported receiving $12.2 million in contributions and grants in ‘08, as well as $27.4 million in revenue from its various programs.

As CEO, Berwick received $2.3 million in compensation in 2008. That was a substantial raise from 2007, when he received $637,006 in compensation, and from 2006, when he received $585,008 in compensation.

At the time the White House decided to bypass the Senate on Berwick’s nomination, Senate sources say, Berwick had already completed the questionnaire required by the Finance Committee, as well as provided his tax returns and other documents. He had answered one round of vetting questions from senators.

Then, on June 4, Grassley asked for information about the Institute. In particular, Grassley wanted to know the sources of the millions of dollars in grants and contributions to the nonprofit organization. Who has been giving? (Nonprofits like the Institute are not required to report that information to the IRS.) Given all the money that has been flying around in the health care debate, it was an entirely reasonable question.White

This is an acknowledgement by the Obama administration that the American public doesn't want the monstrosity known as Obamacare. Berwick not only supports Obamacare, he is infatuated with the British national health care system. He cannot wait for the rationing to begin at the federal level.

As we say in south Louisiana, laissez les bonne temps rouler! Let the good times roll!

For those with short memory spans, let us refresh our memory: It was the Democrats who held Congress in session full time rather than allow former President Bush any recess appointments. They put a token Senator out there for each break who would go into the Senate chamber and gavel in the body each morning. I expect Republicans to return this gesture when they take back Congress in November.

Press Secretary Gibbs throws this gasoline onto the fire, from the same article: "There are aspects of the health care law that have to be implemented on a timeline that I'm sure many who oppose Dr. Berwick for political reasons didn't want to see implemented," Mr. Gibbs told reporters. "We are not going to have the viewpoints of a few hold up the law of the land." Interesting. It was a minority of "viewpoints" who rammed through the wildly unpopular health care legislation to begin this charade. Perhaps the irony is lost on the smirking, arrogant Gibbs.

The Wall Street Journal weighs in: Even Max Baucus, the Senate Finance Chairman, issued a statement critical of this end-around. President Obama claimed Republicans were stalling the appointment "for political purposes," but Mr. Baucus hadn't scheduled hearings and the nomination paperwork wasn't even finished 11 weeks after he was named. Mr. Obama's real calculation was to dodge a debate in election season over Dr. Berwick's frequent praise for European health systems that ration care. The last thing most Democrats want now is to reprise the ObamaCare controversy.

The popularity of the health care reform bill rammed through by the Democrats is even less than it was as the sausage was made. The president can go on all the jaunts through swing states drumming up the issue and begging for support, but it's not happening. This recess appointment does nothing but fan the flames. He is certainly entitled to recess appointments, that is not the point. The point is that this was solely a cowardly, political gamble.

The up side? Recess appointments don't last long, by design. This is just another glaring example of the absence of 'change' from the man who promised it. Who knew that change meant ratcheting up the unseemly behavior?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Force Majeure Continues In Gulf of Mexico Fallout

This article reports more oil drilling rigs falling victim to Force Majeure. As previously written here, those who have contracted drilling rigs are using this legal maneuver to avoid the rising costs of rigs going idle due to a deliberate backlog of permits and the moratorium put in place by the Obama administration.

Diamond Offshore reported that four operators have declared force majeure on drilling rigs under contract in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

Devon and Murphy Oil have declared force majeure on semisubmersibles Ocean Endeavor and Ocean Confidence, while Chevron and Arena have declared force majeure on jackups Ocean Columbia and Ocean Scepter respectively.

The operators have said the drilling moratorium implemented by the U.S. government would prevent them from drilling in the Gulf.

The hits keep coming. And these are shallow stuff. Diamond resisted the push into deep water, resting on their Ocean American class rigs, capable of 4k feet and the deepest in the world until the Deepwater rigs were built.

Diamond has nine rigs under contract in the Gulf of Mexico, including five under contract for work in greater than 500 feet of water.

Last month, Cobalt Energy International declared force majeure on its contract for Diamond semi Ocean Monarch, also working in the Gulf of Mexico.

This announcement by NPR declares the 5th District three judge panel has denied the administration's plea to reinstate the moratorium struck down by the original ruling from the Federal Judge:

A federal appeals court in New Orleans has rejected the U.S. government's effort to keep a six-month deepwater drilling moratorium in place.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled soon after a Thursday afternoon hearing in a lawsuit filed by companies that oppose the drilling ban.

The Interior Department said the moratorium was necessary while it studied deepwater drilling risks in the wake of the BP oil spill.

The moratorium was previously struck down by a lower court on June 22.

The appeals court ruling found that the Interior Department failed to show the federal government would suffer "irreparable injury" if the ban isn't restored while it appeals the lower court's decision.

I See November From My House

This is truly a world gone mad.

Republicans will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory if the distractions do not stop. Why are we letting the Democrats and national media dictate the conversation? True, we are pitifully outnumbered in the media but, still, it behooves us to stand on a rooftop now and then and let the shouting begin.

I have been shaken to the core and it is a call to arms. No, not to continue the good fight against the insanity that is Democratic dominance in Washington, D.C. That is a given. It will continue. I'm talking about my fellow Republicans and conservatives. In this case, though, it truly is the Republicans since I think if you are not committed to the party enough to call yourself a Republican, then shut up about anything concerning the governance of the party. Pick a team and work for it. Rise above the arrogance of saying you are a conservative first then a Republican or an Independent.

My fellow Republicans have once again allowed the subject to be changed from the utter incompetence of the Obama administration and given the gift of an entire holiday weekend of stories to the slobbering press, enjoying wholeheartedly reporting conservatives demanding the resignation of Michael Steele, Chairman of the Republican Party.

Chairman Steele made another public faux pas in his speech during a GOP fundraiser and it was captured on video. The video has been shown time and time again with the words highlighted that Steele claims Afghanistan is "Obama's War". A misguided sentence, at best. Steele has had a few bad moments as he has made unfortunate public remarks and the pile-on always immediately begins. Mostly lead by those who would really like his job inside the party. Sad, but true.

I read this opinion piece today and was floored to agree with the author. Normally she is one with whom I flinch a bit over the crassness of her thoughts displayed in print. For those still bellowing, I suggest you read the piece, too.

We must, as Republicans, stop the nonsense. This is a very serious time in our country and the fast approaching November elections are crucial if we hope to turn the tide of a government out of control. The Tea Party people are out there and still working hard and we must match their enthusiasm and energy, too. Is ousting the party chairman less than four months out from such an important election a winning strategy? Think of the chaos at the national office and the focus on his successor instead of winning elections. It is crazy.

Steele's term is over soon enough. Let is go. Next time, find a less outgoing persona. Recruit someone who is happy behind the scenes, raising money and establishing a 50 state plan. Let the choice be between truly good people who have a vision for the party, not some no names with memberships at country clubs which have recent history of excluding minorities as members or far right social conservatives that are not comfortable with those who are more open in thought. Choose candidates with the true Reagan philosophy of big tents and 80% agreement with the party platform instead of those demanding purity tests and who don't understand the Reagan they claim to be their hero.

Instead of destroying those within our own party, focus on those in the other party running against us. They are the ones who need our attention. Just focus, people.

I see November from my house. Do you?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Obama Justice Department Files Suit Against Arizona

President Obama gave a speech on immigration reform at American University, his first such speech on the topic since he came into the office. He now claims it is a policy that must be hashed out and finished as soon as possible, though up until now he has shown no interest in the subject. He now claims that it can only be done with bi-partisan support.

Funny, when he took over 1/6 of the U.S. economy with the health care reform legislation, he did it with only Democratic support. With such a large and strong Democratic majority in Congress plus a Democrat in the White House, he can ram through any legislation he wishes to make an issue. Claiming he needs bi-partisan support is simply taking another shot at Republicans. The bully in the Oval Office know full well that Republicans want immigration reform just as Democrats do.

This is Senator John Cornyn, (R-TX) as reported in the Dallas Morning-News:

"Giving a speech on [Thursday] morning at 11 am at American University, without any specific proposals but just sort of this exhortation that you know, things are not good and they need to be fixed -- I just don't think is the kind of leadership that you would expect."

Obama laid out the reasoning that the borders are too vast, that they are simply impossible to secure. What has he moved to as inspiration now? Is it now "no, we can't"? He is really only interested in policy changes and not actual border security.

This article notes that Obama gave rare praise to former President Bush in his efforts towards immigration reform.:

It was only toward the end of the speech that he acknowledged in passing that his “predecessor” had “shown courage” on the issue. In fact, George W. Bush put forward a not dissimilar package of immigration reform in 2005.

But unlike Bush, who unveiled his immigration plan at the start of his second term hoping (in vain, as it turned out) to cash in some of his political capital on an issue he cared about, Obama’s purpose here seems to be about politics, not principle, as he is hoping that Hispanics will blame Republicans for the inevitable failure of this proposal. While this may ratchet up the Hispanic vote for the Democrats, it’s hard to see how this will work in a midterm election in which many Democrats around the country are just as likely to resent illegal immigrants as Republicans.

Funny, too, that Obama didn't acknowledge just how much of the 'bi-partisan' legislation from the Bush administration that he voted against during his brief time in the U.S. Senate. He voted against a guest worker program, for instance.

This article speaks to the sheer vanity of the speech: The 44th president and son of an immigrant covered a wide array of issues: He described his Democratic administration's ambitious legislative efforts to address healthcare, the faltering economy, the need for more government financial regulations, education changes and clean energy.

He didn't have time to get into the stubbornly high unemployment rates and the ongoing gulf oil spill. Nor his faltering job rating and the poll majorities supporting repeal of his beloved healthcare legislation and support for Arizona's illegal immigrant enforcement legislation.

But he did claim credit for standing up to fierce opposition. "Despite the forces of the status quo," the president said, "despite the polarization and the frequent pettiness of our politics, we are...

...confronting the great challenges of our times." And he vowed to not "just kick the can down the road."

Now, the Obama Justice Department has sued the State of Arizona over legislation that is not even law yet. The Arizona legislation does not become law until the end of July. The suit demands a preliminary injunction of a law that is not on the books. The suit also does not even address the potential for discrimination at the hands of law enforcement as Obama is so fond of saying. It is simply politics - pandering to potential Hispanic voters.

Isn't it odd that Obama continues in his display of so little respect for the good sense of law enforcement? He did so during the incident in Cambridge with his friend and the police officer checking on a report of a burglary in progress and now by claiming that Arizona law enforcement will be too tempted to wily nily demand identification from folks in Arizona. Another instance of this president who claimed to be the post racial, post partisan candidate. My how it all changes once the job is acquired, even by the alleged candidate of change.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A Whale of a Skimmer

An article in The Washington Times reported the skimmer, named A Whale, is being tested close to the wellhead "because officials believe it will be most effective where the oil is thickest rather than closer to shore". Makes sense.

Governor Jindal expresses frustration with the Obama rhetoric versus reality:

During a Thursday tour of the inlet to Barataria Bay, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said it was exasperating to have A Whale anchored offshore instead of being put to immediate use.

"They've used the war rhetoric," Jindal said aboard a Louisiana state wildlife boat floating in oil-slicked waters near Grand Isle. "If this is really a war, they need to be using every resource that makes sense to fight this oil before it comes to our coast

And, in The Washington Examiner, the report of Placquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser being silenced by the administration is disturbing. Shades of heavy Chicago-style politics surface yet again from this administration. Nungesser is a familiar face on television with the leadership fortitude to demand stronger federal action. According to Mr. Nungesser, he was visited on Father's Day at his office by two White House officials. They were there to silence his criticism of the federal response. "What do we have to do to keep you off tv?" He simply replied, "give me what I need". He claims at a later town hall meeting, a request was made for 20 skimmers. "They gave us two skimmers to shut us up."

The Obama administration is doing heavy duty public relations spin control. Caught flat-footed from the beginning of this tragedy, with local leaders willing to speak truth to power, like Mr. Nungesser, we read that it was very definitely BP in control of disaster management from the beginning. The Coast Guard was taking orders from BP up until President Obama's May 28, 2010 visit. You may remember the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010.

Is vital equipment being rationed out as the voices grow louder? Why is it not the top priority of this administration to manage this disaster with competence? If it were the East coast and not the Gulf coast, would the response be different?

Day 77.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Oil Spill Clean-Up Incompetence

A point can be made that there is very little the federal government can actually do to plug the gusher of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. What the federal government can do, however, and indeed is the responsibility of the federal government is the clean-up effort along the Gulf coast.

This is an accurate accounting, in my opinion, of how the administration could be doing things differently. On day 73, I read this. Here is a flavor of the main point, the possible reasons for the lack of response:

One possibility is sheer incompetence. Many critics of the president are fond of pointing out that he had no administrative or executive experience before taking office. But the government is full of competent people, and the military and Coast Guard can accomplish an assigned mission. In any case, several remedies require nothing more than getting out of the way.

Another possibility is that the administration places a higher priority on interests other than the fate of the Gulf, such as placating organized labor, which vigorously defends the Jones Act.

Finally there is the most pessimistic explanation—that the oil spill may be viewed as an opportunity, the way White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said back in February 2009, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." Many administration supporters are opposed to offshore oil drilling and are already employing the spill as a tool for achieving other goals. The websites of the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, for example, all feature the oil spill as an argument for forbidding any further offshore drilling or for any use of fossil fuels at all. None mention the Jones Act.

This administration, make no mistake about it, fully intends to do everything possible to kill domestic oil drilling. Carol Browner, EPA czar and protege of Al Gore, has said as much. In The Wall Street Journal (7/3/10) she said, "Maybe this is a sector where you really need large companies who can bring to bear the expertise and who have the where-withal to cover he expense if something goes wrong." She acknowledges a willing acceptance of a lesser draconian energy bill - she calls it "just to get started".

Who is bigger than BP? Not only are they a huge presence in offshore oil drilling, but they are also bold contributors to the Obama agenda. What kind of logic is it that only large companies can drill offshore because something horrible may happen and then it's all about the money? It was the big company in the field that did this current disaster, not one of the little guys. Perhaps it is just standard knee jerk Browner logic. She is an avowed socialist - having joined a socialist movement in her field in her years between the Clinton and Obama administrations - so maybe she just drifts where the wind blows. Maybe she just goes with whatever opinion gets her the job and the pay-off.

Carol Browner - bad for the nation under President Clinton, still bad for the nation. Some things don't change. This is the uber-liberal environmentalist's dream -exploiting a tragedy for her own agenda.