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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Is Gitmo Worse Under Obama?

Exclusive: Lawyer says Guantanamo abuse worse since Obama

Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:23pm EST
By Luke Baker

LONDON (Reuters) - Abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has worsened sharply since President Barack Obama took office as prison guards "get their kicks in" before the camp is closed, according to a lawyer who represents detainees.

Abuses began to pick up in December after Obama was elected, human rights lawyer Ahmed Ghappour told Reuters. He cited beatings, the dislocation of limbs, spraying of pepper spray into closed cells, applying pepper spray to toilet paper and over-forcefeeding detainees who are on hunger strike.

The Pentagon said on Monday that it had received renewed reports of prisoner abuse during a recent review of conditions at Guantanamo, but had concluded that all prisoners were being kept in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

"According to my clients, there has been a ramping up in abuse since President Obama was inaugurated," said Ghappour, a British-American lawyer with Reprieve, a legal charity that represents 31 detainees at Guantanamo.

"If one was to use one's imagination, (one) could say that these traumatized, and for lack of a better word barbaric, guards were just basically trying to get their kicks in right now for fear that they won't be able to later," he said.

"Certainly in my experience there have been many, many more reported incidents of abuse since the inauguration," added Ghappour, who has visited Guantanamo six times since late September and based his comments on his own observations and conversations with both prisoners and guards.

He stressed the mistreatment did not appear to be directed from above, but was an initiative undertaken by frustrated U.S. army and navy jailers on the ground. It did not seem to be a reaction against the election of Obama, a Democrat who has pledged to close the prison camp within a year, but rather a realization that there was little time remaining before the last 241 detainees, all Muslim, are released.

"It's 'hey, let's have our fun while we can,'" said Ghappour, who helped secure the release this week of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident freed from Guantanamo Bay after more than four years in detention without trial or charge.

"I can't really imagine why you would get your kicks from abusing prisoners, but certainly, having spoken to certain guards who have been injured in Iraq, who indirectly or directly blame my clients for their injuries and the trauma they have suffered, it's not too difficult to put two and two together."


Following a January 22 order from Obama, the U.S. Defense Department conducted a two-week review of conditions at Guantanamo ahead of the planned closure of the prison on Cuba.

Admiral Patrick Walsh, the review's author, acknowledged on Monday that reports of abuse had emerged but concluded all inmates were being treated in line with the Geneva Conventions.

"We heard allegations of abuse," he said, asked if detainees had reported torture. "And what we did at that point was to go back and investigate the allegation... What we found is that there were in some cases substantiated evidence where guards had misconduct, I think that would be the best way to put it."

Walsh said his review looked at 20 allegations of abuse, 14 of which were substantiated, but he did not go into details. Generally he said the abuse ranged from "gestures, comments, disrespect" to "preemptive use of pepper spray."

Ghappour said he had spoken to army guards who, unsolicited, had described the pleasure they took in abusing prisoners, whether interrupting prayer or physical mistreatment. He said they appeared unconcerned about potential repercussions.

He also saw evidence of guards pulling identity numbers off their uniforms or switching them once they were on duty in order to make it more difficult for them to be identified.

Ghappour said he had filed two complaints of serious detainee abuse since December 22 but received no response from U.S. authorities. In one case his client had his knee, shoulder and thumb dislocated by a group of guards, Ghappour said.

In one of the six main camps at Guantanamo, the lawyer said all the detainees he knew were on hunger strike and subject to force-feeding, including with laxatives that induced chronic diarrhea while they were strapped in their feeding chairs.

"Several of my clients have had toilet paper pepper-sprayed while they have had hemorrhoids," Ghappour said.

Another area of concern was evidence that detainees were being abused on the way to meetings with their lawyers -- sometimes so badly that they no longer wanted to meet with counsel for fear of the beatings they would receive, he said.

"Some detainees are convinced they are going to be locked up there forever, despite the promises to close the camp," he said.

(Additional reporting by Randall Mikkelsen and Andrew Gray in Washington, editing by Mark Trevelyan)

© Thomson Reuters 2008

My Thoughts
Is this the kind of "hope and change" were going to continue to expect? This could be inmates and their lawyers trumping up abuses or just making them up to get favor for themselves especially if think that Obama and the new administration will be pushovers.

I am highly suspect of the charges, but I'll keep tracking this story.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Democratic Gov. Of Tennessee Rejects Part of Pelosi's Porkulus Package

Tennessee may reject stimulus aid for jobless Bredesen balks at conditions tied to federal package, long-term costs
February 25, 2009

Tennessee could reject a portion of the $787 billion economic stimulus package out of concerns that it would force the state to raise taxes on businesses in the future.

At the National Governors Association meetings in Washington, D.C., Gov. Phil Bredesen said this week that he might turn down relief for unemployed workers worth an estimated $143 million because of conditions placed on the money by Congress.

The stimulus package would also raise unemployment benefits by $25 a week for all workers, but in addition, lawmakers want states to expand the pool of people who can apply for benefits. That would put more pressure on an unemployment trust fund that is already trying to stave off insolvency.

"We are evaluating this piece of money, whether it makes sense for us to take it," Bredesen said in an interview Monday with the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "We're in the position of going back to our legislature this year for changes in our tax structure just to keep our fund whole, and taking it to a new level may be too much of a lift for the legislature this spring."

Balanced against that is the boost the state's unemployment fund could get from the stimulus package.

The plan would give every person claiming unemployment an extra $25 a week through 2009, starting next month. That part of the stimulus is funded separately and has already been approved by the governor.

Benefits in Tennessee are currently capped at $275 a week, and many people receive less.

"I think it would be good, very helpful," Danny Heyward, 50, an unemployed construction worker, said Tuesday. "Of course we would like more, but we have to take what we can get."

The stimulus package would also give money to the states to shore up their unemployment funds. The Republican governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina have already committed to turning down unemployment assistance because of strings attached to the money.

Critics say the conditions will saddle states with a host of people who are newly eligible for unemployment benefits, an obligation legislatures will have to fund long after money from the stimulus package has been doled out.

"We're looking at adding new benefits that don't fall under the scope of unemployment," said Jim Brown, state director for the National Federation of Independent Business. "There's real mission drift."

The stimulus package allocates $7 billion to states for unemployment trust funds, but to get the money, they must meet two sets of requirements:

>> One-third of the payout is contingent on states' changing the formulas used to calculate whether people qualify for unemployment payments. The change is meant to make more people eligible for benefits.

>> Two-thirds of the payout is contingent on states' taking two actions on a menu of four options. These options are: adding a $15 allowance for dependents, lengthening benefits for people who are training for a new job, extending benefits to people looking for part-time work or letting people claim unemployment if they leave work for some family reasons, such as a sick relative or domestic violence.

"It's getting away from what unemployment benefits are intended for," Brown said.

Fund loses money

The changes would come as Tennessee's unemployment system is already dealing with record claims from a recession that is putting large numbers of people out of work and keeping them unemployed longer.

In the second week of February alone, more than 12,000 people filed claims for unemployment benefits, more than double the number from a year ago.

The rising number of claimants has drained the unemployment trust fund.

The fund's balance stood at $315.7 million last week, down from $526.1 million a year ago.

The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development is preparing to raise unemployment insurance premiums paid by employers to bring more money into the fund. But even with that extra revenue factored in, the fund is expected to become insolvent sometime next year.

Adding more obligations to the unemployment system could make it even harder to cover the shortfall, said Bill Fox, an economist at the University of Tennessee and an adviser to the fund. It might require even higher payments by businesses after the recession is over.

"We have a stimulus package that is intended to be short-term, and this would have a long-term effect on the structure of the system," Fox said. "To use the leverage of the stimulus in that way is not right."


My Thoughts

It's not good if the Democratic governors start seeing the folly of Pelosi's Porkulus Package.

Also, I wonder when House Whip Clyburn (D) will start calling Gov. Bredesen a "racist" foe neglecting the blacks that live in Memphis.

Rotten ACORN, LaRaza Gets Extra Helping of Pork From "Porkulus" Bill, New Spending Bill

ACORN, LaRaza get double-dips of pork barrel in stimulus, omnibus spending bills
By Barbara Hollingsworth
Examiner Columnist | 2/25/09 5:42 PM

So President Barack Obama wants to cut the federal deficit in half by 2013? He can start by downsizing the amount of pork fat flowing to dozens of special interest groups that supported his candidacy.

About a hundred of these groups, including the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the National Education Association (NEA) and the National Council of La Raza, have already received billions of tax dollars under Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan. Yet they now stand to rake in even more federal money under the $410 billion omnibus spending bill now wending its way through Congress.

“The Democrats are asking taxpayers to pay for over 100 accounts in the omnibus bill that are also in the stimulus bill,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.

“It strikes us that we're on a spending spree of gargantuan proportions here. A good time to stop it would be getting this omnibus appropriation bill down to a size that’s consistent with the current budget,” McConnell said.

How can congressional Democrats possibly justify giving the same organizations that already got a heaping helping of pork in the stimulus bill another scoop in the omnibus bill while taxpayers are suffering?

Despite Obama’s campaign promise to reduce earmarks, which are essentially handouts to the favored few, Taxpayers for Common Sense found 8,570 earmarks worth $7.7 billion in the current omnibus bill.

Adding those to the $6.6 billion in earmarks passed last fall, TSC calculates there are a total of $14.3 billion in for FY09 – a mere $500 million less than the year before. Democrats have clearly not eliminated the “culture of corruption” rampant on Capitol Hill, just changed the names of the beneficiaries.

Speaking of beneficiaries, the omnibus bill contains a $473,000 earmark for La Raza, which has called for Mexico to annex the southwestern states. Maybe it’s time to take them up on the offer and let the Mexican government bail out California for a change.

The omnibus bill also contains more funding for ACORN, which has been implicated in voter fraud in several states. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, also discovered that more than $7 million in earmarks are targeted for clients of the former PMA – currently under investigation by the FBI for campaign fraud.

So here we are, in the middle of a full-blown economic crisis, and Congress is still planning to fund a planetarium in Peoria, potato cloning in Maine, and a “World Trade Center” in Montana. There’s even a $5.8 million earmark for the “Ted Kennedy Institute for the Senate,” which will presumably teach generations of future senators how to stick it to productive Americans, if there’s any of them left by then.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD, tried to deflect well-deserved criticism of such wanton spending by distributing flyers at his weekly press conference that read: “You can’t spell ‘earmark’ without an R.”

Hoyer pointed out that 40 percent of the earmarks in the bill were sponsored by Republicans. Fair enough. But that means that 60 percent are sponsored by his fellow Democrats.

Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, is calling on Obama to keep his campaign promise. “The president should say, ‘Get that pork outta there, or I’ll veto it!’” McCain told FOX News. “We can’t afford to do this anymore.” Especially since the national debt will increase from $120K to $152K for each American household.

The omniporkus bill contains an eight percent increase over baseline spending at twice the rate of inflation, representing the largest discretionary spending hike since the “malaise” days of Jimmy Carter.

We all know what happened to him.

Barbara F. Hollingsworth is the Examiner’s local opinion editor.


My Thoughts

Why do we keep rewarding failure? Why do we pay them for being a HUGE part of our economic troubles that we are facing today?

I guess he still owes them money for them supporting him during the campaign. Too bad he can't pay off the different cities that he still hasn't owes for campaign events.

Biden Reenters Bizarro World

Biden Asks for Web Site's 'Number'

The vice president made a techie gaffe Wednesday as he asked an aide to tell him a Web site's "number," stirring questions online whether he knows how the Web works.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Vice President Joe Biden, tasked with overseeing the $787 billion stimulus package, has been having a little trouble with his "numbers."

During an interview on CBS' "Early Show" on Wednesday, Biden told viewers to check out a government-run Web site tracking stimulus spending, but admitted he was embarrassed because he couldn't remember the site's "number."

"You know, I'm embarrassed. Do you know the Web site number?" he asked an aide standing out of view. "I should have it in front of me and I don't. I'm actually embarrassed."
Biden, who seemed to indicate that he thought the Internet worked like a giant telephone, sounded an unusually Luddite note inside an administration often heralded for its mastery of the Web.

Web sites, as much of the "Early Show" audience may have been aware, are generally referred to by their URLs or addresses. The one Biden was searching for was, which he announced moments later when reminded of the proper address.
Bloggers wondered aloud whether the vice president knew how to use the Web, though some correctly pointed out that Web sites do indeed use a number system, and are identified by their numeric Internet Protocol address.

A spokeswoman for the vice president had not offered comment by the time this article was published.

Biden isn't the first politician to make a serious flub concerning the ways of the Internet -- former Sen. Ted Stevens called it a "series of tubes" in a now-famous address on the floor of the Senate.

But this wasn't even Biden's first error involving the name of the Web site. During a nationally televised address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Feb. 20, he directed the assembled leaders to visit the stimulus site -- but sent them to the wrong one.

"We've already set up a Web site,, which will show where and how the money is being spent," he said, apparently unaware that the government has its own domain. Before a government tweak last Friday, directed Web users to a commercial research company.


My Thoughts
Good nite! This is the guy one heartbeat away from the presidency. Scary. How can anyone, much less people like Hamas, Putin, or Chavez, take him seriously?

Robert Byrd Says Obama "Threatens the Constitutional System" With Executive "Power Grab"

Byrd: Obama in power grab

By JOHN BRESNAHAN | 2/25/09 10:34 AM EST 

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the longest-serving Democratic senator, is criticizing President Obama’s appointment of White House “czars” to oversee federal policy, saying these executive positions amount to a power grab by the executive branch.

In a letter to Obama on Wednesday, Byrd complained about Obama’s decision to create White House offices on health reform, urban affairs policy, and energy and climate change. Byrd said such positions “can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances. At the worst, White House staff have taken direction and control of programmatic areas that are the statutory responsibility of Senate-confirmed officials.”

While it's rare for Byrd to criticize a president in his own party, Byrd is a stern constitutional scholar who has always stood up for the legislative branch in its role in checking the power of the White House. Byrd no longer holds the powerful Appropriations chairmanship, so his criticism does not carry as much weight these days. Byrd repeatedly clashed with the Bush administration over executive power, and it appears that he's not limiting his criticism to Republican administrations.

Byrd also wants Obama to limit claims of executive privilege while also ensuring that the White House czars don’t have authority over Cabinet officers confirmed by the Senate.
“As presidential assistants and advisers, these White House staffers are not accountable for their actions to the Congress, to cabinet officials, and to virtually anyone but the president,” Byrd wrote. “They rarely testify before congressional committees, and often shield the information and decision-making process behind the assertion of executive privilege. In too many instances, White House staff have been allowed to inhibit openness and transparency, and reduce accountability.”

The West Virginia Democrat on Wednesday asked Obama to “consider the following: that assertions of executive privilege will be made only by the president, or with the president’s specific approval; that senior White House personnel will be limited from exercising authority over any person, any program, and any funding within the statutory responsibility of a Senate-confirmed department or agency head; that the president will be responsible for resolving any disagreement between a Senate-confirmed agency or department head and White House staff; and that the lines of authority and responsibility in the administration will be transparent and open to the American public.”

Obama faces a decision as early as next week on whether to support a claim of executive privilege made by former President Bush in refusing to allow Karl Rove, the former deputy White House chief of staff, to be deposed by the House Judiciary Committee on the White House’s role in the 2006 firing of nine U.S. attorneys.

Bush claimed “absolute immunity” for top advisers in resisting such subpoenas, but Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, filed a lawsuit over the issue. The case is on appeal, and the Obama administration is scheduled to file a motion next week laying out its stance on the issue.


My Thoughts

I don't know exactly what to make of this. I have always been a huge critic of the former KKK Exalted Cyclops, but I find myself actually agreeing with the Kleagle. Hell must have frozen over.

We must be careful not to give away too many our capitalist ideals that have made this country great. If we are too scared, we will let the government and Obama do whatever they want to do so that we will feel like we're going to be ok.

“They (White House czars) rarely testify before congressional committees, and often shield the information and decision-making process behind the assertion of executive privilege. In too many instances, White House staff have been allowed to inhibit openness and transparency, and reduce accountability.”

What happened to the most transparent administration in history?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Taxpayer's Clearing House

MSM Media Reporter Fired After Fabricating Racism Story About FNC Host

Baltimore Reporter Out of a Job After Posting Doctored Video Clip
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
By Joshua Rhett Miller

A reporter for an NBC affiliate in Baltimore who inserted a racist remark into a video clip of FOX News' John Gibson and posted it on YouTube is no longer employed by the station, has learned.

The offensive video clip was doctored so that the viewer heard Gibson using the words "bright blue scrotum" in reference to Attorney General Eric Holder, rather than to a defining characteristic of a monkey on the loose in Seattle.

The video circulated rapidly on blogs and news Web sites Thursday and was not corrected for hours.

John Sanders, the technology reporter for WBAL-TV, admitted in a report that he was the person responsible for the clip. The station confirmed Sanders' actions on Tuesday and, in a statement, referred to him as a "former" employee.

"WBAL-TV management has learned that a former WBAL-TV employee posted a video regarding Fox News' John Gibson and Attorney General Eric Holder on his personal YouTube page without the prior knowledge or consent of anyone at WBAL-TV or Hearst-Argyle Television," the station said in its statement.

"This video was not approved by, used, or sanctioned in any way by WBAL-TV or Hearst-Argyle Television and we do not condone such behavior."

The station refused to say in the statement if Sanders was fired or had resigned. Sanders' profile was removed from WBAL's Web site.

Gibson, who is considering legal action, said he was "outraged" by the clip.

"I've had to endure people misinterpreting things I have actually said and mischaracterizing things I've actually said," Gibson told "But this was going the extra step ..."

"I feel like I've been harmed, but I don't know if it meets the legal standard. But we'll see."

The fake video produced hundreds of angry comments directed at Gibson, many demanding disciplinary action. Gibson said he is also concerned that some blogs and other news aggregating sites may not have posted corrections or his actual video.

"I worry about these things because they go viral, and all of a sudden, you're getting buried in e-mails and there's no way of backing out of it," Gibson said. "The volume gets to be so incredible and it's hard to scrub this out of people's memories."

Media critic Howard Kurtz, a columnist for the Washington Post and host of CNN's "Reliable Sources," likened the clip's doctoring to a "journalistic felony" and said it wasn't funny under any circumstances.

"Well, I'm outraged," Kurtz said in an e-mail to "I think the reaction has been muted because most people don't know about it. If someone doctored a video and put it on the air or online, that's a journalistic felony. If it was a private joke picked up by others — well, it's still a pretty bad and hurtful joke."

Attempts to reach Sanders were unsuccessful Tuesday. During an interview with's Scott Baker last week, Sanders said: "I heard the very end of it and thought, 'Wow, that little bit could go there and it would sound funny as long I disclosed that he had not actually said it that way.'"

Baker told on Tuesday he thought the video clip wasn't maliciously trying to harm Gibson's reputation.

"I think he was just trying to do something funny and wasn't thinking through the consequences of it," Baker said. "It's a great question of ethics in the new digital age."


My Thoughts

I still can’t believe the audacity of many in the liberal MSM. Like Dan Rather, many don’t care if it is actually the truth or not as long as it embarrasses, minimizing, and takes down conservatives.

Obama's Approval Ratings Dip Below 60% For First Time

February 24, 2009
Obama Job Approval Dips Below 60% for First Time
Fifty-nine percent now approve as more express no opinion on his performance
by Jeffrey M. Jones

PRINCETON, NJ -- For the first time since Gallup began tracking Barack Obama's presidential job approval rating on Jan. 21, fewer than 60% of Americans approve of the job he is doing as president. In Feb. 21-23 polling, 59% of Americans give Obama a positive review, while 25% say they disapprove, and 16% have no opinion.

To date, Obama has averaged 64% approval, but, as the graph shows, there has been a slight but perceptible decline in his approval rating since he took office. This decline has largely occurred among Republicans.

The drop below 60% approval within the past week -- from 63% in Feb. 18-20 polling to 59% in Feb. 21-23 polling -- has mostly come among independents. Late last week, 62% of independents approved of Obama, compared with 54% in the last three days. His approval rating among Democrats has dipped slightly (but not to a statistically significant degree), while approval among Republicans has not changed.

While Obama's overall approval rating has fallen by four percentage points in recent days (from 63% in Feb. 18-20 polling to the current 59%), his disapproval rating has been steady (24% in Feb. 18-20 polling to the current 25%). Rather, the percentage of Americans without an opinion of his job performance has increased, from 13% to 16. In essence, Americans in recent days are becoming increasingly unsure about how Obama is doing, rather than becoming more critical.

As the table suggests, most of the movement among independents in recent days has been from the approval to the no opinion category. And his disapproval rating has dropped among Republicans, with a concomitant increase in no opinion. Thus, Americans' assessments of Obama are in a period of flux.

Given that Obama is addressing the nation tonight, he has a tremendous opportunity to convert Americans who are now on the fence -- in addition to those who now disapprove of him -- into supporters. The latest USA Today/Gallup poll shows Americans are most interested in hearing about economic matters, particularly how Obama will address unemployment, the mortgage crisis, and how the economic stimulus package will be administered.


My Thoughts

While 59% is still good, it should be troubling for him that his approval ratings are going down slowly but surely. Is it just normalizing of his ratings that every president experiences after their honeymoon with the country dies down, or is it because of his unpopular executive orders or stimulus package.

It is still early though.

Houston Mayor: I'll Help Citizens Pay Debts, Later That Day: Never Mind

White backs off 'credit score enhancement' with tax $$
Houston plan 'hit a nerve across this country,' councilwoman says
By CAROLYN FEIBEL Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle
Feb. 24, 2009, 3:25PM

Mayor Bill White this afternoon announced that a plan for the city to pay off some debts for first-time home buyers has been pulled from tomorrow's City Council agenda.

Council members are now professing their "embarrassment" about the proposal, which has hit the national news circuit, including, which picked up this morning's Houston Chronicle story about the plan

"This issue has hit a nerve across this country," said Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck. "Not just here in the city of Houston. Giving people the ability to increase their credit score artificially because we're allowing them to pay off their credit cards is exactly what got us into this (national economic) crisis in the first place."

Councilman Jarvis Johnson said the city should continue to help people move from renting to owning.

"But I do believe we can do it in a better way, a more thoughtful way," he said. "But we don't want to become enablers, where people count on the city to be the cure-all."

The “Credit Score Enhancement Program” would have given up to $3,000 in grants to individuals who are trying to qualify for mortgages through the city’s homebuyers assistance program. City officials say some applicants fall short of eligibility by only 10 or 20 points on their credit scores, and paying off some debt balances can quickly improve their numbers.

The proposal aroused critics who say the city should not use public funds to help people pay down car loans, credit card balances, or other debts — even if the slight credit bump would help them realize the dream of home- ownership.

“We just can’t give away government money to help people with their credit scores,” Councilman Mike Sullivan said Monday. “You’re giving them other taxpayers’ money to pay off the bills.”

Clutterbuck called the program well-intentioned, but said it would have gone too far.

“If this credit crisis has taught us anything, we need to focus on paying off our debts and saving more,” she said. “Using government money to help someone pay off their debts is not the same as asking them to pay off their debts themselves.”

The $444,000 proposed for the program is leftover money from a $1.5 million appropriation the city made for emergency home and roof repairs after Hurricane Ike.

The city has three programs that provide grants for down payments and closing costs for qualified homebuyers. The most generous one offers a $37,500 grant to buy a home that costs $135,000 or less, but only in certain disadvantaged Houston neighborhoods the city is trying to revitalize. Participants cannot earn more than 80 percent of the Houston median income.

Some support

Affordable housing advocates were cautiously optimistic about the proposal Monday. The tightening credit market has made it harder for previously qualified families to get mortgages, said Stephan Fairfield, president of Covenant Community Capital Corp., a Houston nonprofit that helps low-income families build assets.

Some banks previously had accepted credit scores of 580 or 600 as a qualifying threshold, but most are now requiring 620, Fairfield said.

“New tools are needed to help families move forward towards home ownership,” he said. “If there are lenders that are offering loan approvals subject to retiring the outstanding payables, or if there is something that can help them get over the credit score threshold, it certainly makes sense.”

John Henneberger, co-director of the Texas Low-Income Housing Information Service, called the Houston plan “a very aggressive approach” to housing assistance. He said he needed to know more details but ventured that it could work if the city provided a good pre-purchase homebuyer education program. The city requires all applicants to complete an educational program.

Henneberger said the subprime meltdown and global financial crisis have made housing advocates take a “more conservative tack.”

“We’ve certainly learned that we don’t do low-income people a whole lot of favors when we get them overly extended on credit.”

‘A bad idea’

Anti-tax activists also cited the harsh lessons of the housing crash and recession.

“I just don’t see any way someone could justify this, with everything that has gone on in the credit market,” said Michael Quinn Sullivan, president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. “This is precisely what got us into it, with the playing fast and loose with the credit score.”

“One would think from the federal problem we’ve just had, the city of Houston officials would have learned from that,” said Peggy Venable, state director of Americans for Prosperity, a limited government advocacy group. “It’s a bad idea.”

Program backers defended the proposal, saying it certainly was not for people with poor or damaged credit.

“We don’t talk to them about this unless their credit score is pretty close,” said Brian Stoker, community banking manager for Amegy Bank. The bank is one of the lenders the city uses for its affordable-housing programs.

“For somebody who really qualifies and should have a home, it doesn’t take much to help them get there,” Stoker said. “I think it would be a really innovative and good program. And, of course, it’s not for everybody.”

The city made 130 grants to homebuyers last year and hopes to raise that to 540 in 2009, according to Juan Chavez, manager of the city’s Homebuyers Assistance Program.

“What we’ve seen is that $3,000 will increase a credit score significantly and relatively fast,” Chavez said.


My Thoughts
Too bad, he backtracked. I was planning a move to Houston after I heard about this. I guess I’ll have to unpack.

It was rightfully ridiculed, dissed, and dismissed. That kind of “help” to get people loans that couldn’t have afforded it otherwise is exactly what landed us in the mortgage and foreclosure crisis in this country that we have now.

The idea fits the definition of insanity by Mayor Bill White of Houston. Doing the same type of loan stupidity is what organizations like ACORN and the Democrats through bills like the Community Reinvestment Act during forced banks to do is what landed us in the first place.

So Much For No More Earmarks, 9,000 of Them Found In Next Spending Bill

Earmark reform? 2009 spending bill contains 9,000 of them
February 22, 2009 01:00:04 PM

WASHINGTON — During the 2008 presidential campaign, candidates Barack Obama and John McCain fought vigorously over who would be toughest on congressional earmarks.

"We need earmark reform," Obama said in September during a presidential debate in Oxford, Miss. "And when I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely."

President Obama should prepare to carve out a lot of free time and keep the coffee hot next week as Congress prepares to unveil a $410 billion omnibus spending bill that's riddled with thousands of earmarks, despite his calls for restraint and efforts on Capitol Hill to curtail the practice.

The bill will contain about 9,000 earmarks totaling $5 billion, congressional officials say. Many of the earmarks - loosely defined as local projects inserted by members of Congress - were inserted last year as the spending bills worked their way through various committees.

So while Obama and McCain were slamming earmarks on the campaign trail, House and Senate members - Democrats and Republicans - were slapping them into spending bills.

"It will be a little embarrassing for the president if he signs a bill with that many earmarks on it," said Stan Collender, a veteran Washington budget analyst. "He'll say they're left over from the Bush years, and he as to say that next year the bill will be clean."

Experts agree most earmarks are legitimate. Cary Leahey, senior economist with Decision Economics in New York, said the nation's economic crisis is a contributing factor to the plethora of earmarks. Lawmakers can argue that for a relatively small price they've helped boost the economy.

"One congressman's earmark is another legislative way to fix a serious problem in his district," Leahey said.

Kenneth Thomas, a lecturer in finance at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of business, agrees.

"I generally believe that the priority is getting money into the system sooner rather than later, especially if it's for projects that will use local contractors and create jobs," he said.

Still, it wasn't supposed to be this way. Earmarks have come under fire because of those that seem to provide what Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, calls "laugh lines," such as Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere" or North Dakota's Lawrence Welk Museum.

Obama pledged to take a hard hand on earmarks and warned lawmakers in a Feb. 3 letter from Budget Director Peter Orszag not to decorate the recently signed $787.2 billion stimulus bill with them.

Democrats declared the bill earmark-free. Republicans disagreed.

"While this bill does not include traditional earmarks, we should all understand that there are earmarks in this bill," said Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. "There is $850 million ... to bail out Amtrak, a $75 million earmark for the Smithsonian, a $1 billion earmark for the 2010 census."

Democrats have been trying to revamp the earmark process for about two years. In 2007, they instituted a system that required members to explain the contents of each earmark, as well as a justification for why it was included in the legislation that way. They claimed this led to a reduction in earmarks by as much as 43 percent.

But critics contended the system still had problems. Simply making information more available, they said, didn't address the major criticism: That such projects should go through the regular legislative process, subject to detailed hearings and bipartisan votes.

But critics contended the system still had problems. Simply making information more available, they said, didn't address the major criticism: That such projects should go through the regular legislative process, subject to detailed hearings and bipartisan votes.

Not only does this mean the public has no chance to challenge questionable spending, but too often powerful interests who know how to work the system get favorite measures inserted.

For instance, Congressional Quarterly reported recently that more than 100 House members got earmarks for clients of the PMA Group, a lobbying firm with close ties to Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who heads the powerful defense spending subcommittee. The CQ Politics analysis said in the 2009 defense spending bill, which Congress approved last year, PMA clients got about $300 million.

The CQ study came after reports the FBI is investigating the possibility of illegal campaign contributions by PMA to Murtha and other lawmakers. A Murtha spokesman said earlier this month the FBI probe has nothing to do with Murtha. A PMA spokesman declined to comment on the probe.

Appropriations committee chairmen say they are on track to reform the earmark process beginning in fiscal 2010 by requiring members to make public their requests early, so the public can scrutinize them and presumably contact lawmakers.

The change, though, doesn't apply to the 2009 funding Congress will consider next week.

Several experts believe that dramatically reducing the number of earmarks, while a laudable goal, is almost impossible. But others contend earmarks aren't that big of a problem.

"Earmarks get more attention than they deserve," said MacGuineas. "The problem is that they cause a loss of confidence in the whole budget process."

© 2009, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


My Thoughts

Obama's going to need an army to help him to go "line-by-line" taking the earmarks out this next spending bill.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Breaking News: Rotten ACORN's Next Act of Civil Disobedience in Tuscon, Arizona

EyesandEars: Home Owner Protests Foreclosure in Tuscon, AZ

This story was reported and written by Robert Temple. He is one of the HuffPost citizen journalists helping cover the on the ground effects of the foreclosure crisis.

As you drive south along South Park Avenue in southern Tucson, you pass streets named for U.S. states: Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Oklahoma. A symbolic reminder of the national scope of the housing crisis.

Ana Castro lives on Kentucky Street, filled with modest homes and lined with Palm and Palo Verde trees. Located just six miles from the Davis Mountain Air Force Base, the peaceful setting is often temporarily interrupted as pairs of A-10 Thunderbolt (a.k.a. 'Warthog') fighter jets streak by on training missions.

Ana's house isn't filled with expensive frills. A modest, well kept one story, two bedroom house of about 1000 square feet, there is no cable or high speed Internet connection. Ana doesn't own a computer, and the television brings in only local channels using a rabbit ear antenna.

She has lived in this house for fifteen years, easily affording the $430 mortgage payment while making small home improvements like planting a lemon tree and installing landscaping bricks with the help of friends and neighbors.

That began to change three years ago when she refinanced with Wells Fargo. What started out as an affordable $650 per month payment for the first two years started to increase. Her monthly payment is now $1450 at an interest rate of 17.5%. With Ana's job as a Prep cook at the Universal Medical Center bringing in $10.50 per hour, she is unable to keep up with her steadily increasing house payment.

How did Ana find herself in this situation? Ana says that the bank lied to her about the terms of her loan. Before she signed the finance agreement she was insistent about the monthly payments. She wanted to make sure she could afford them. The bank assured her she qualified.

Two years later when Ana noticed her payments rising, she called Wells Fargo asking for an explanation. Each time she called she talked with someone different than the last time. What didn't change was their answer: she agreed to the terms of the loan at the time she signed the papers, and she had no choice but to make the payments.

Soon Ana was unable to afford the monthly payments on her home of 15 years and the bank started foreclosure proceedings. Now when she calls them they tell her she has to make a payment of $4000 before they can even begin to do anything to help her.

In addition, the foreclosure has damaged Ana's credit rating, making it impossible for her to obtain other financing options.

With no where left to turn, Ana called the Tucson ACORN office. They have been a great source of support for Ana, providing financial advice and advocating in her behalf. ACORN also has a support system of volunteers called "Home Defenders", which are a group of volunteers foreclosed families can call at any time for support.

Through it all, Ana is hopeful and determined. Although feeling the stress of her uncertain future, she gives thanks to ACORN, as well as friends and neighbors and for their support and "Prays to God every single day" to let her keep her house.

Today, ACORN is hosting a protest and press conference at Ana's house. Jorge Garza is organizing the event, and is joined by others whose homes are being foreclosed. Madeleine Troyon, Dolores Fair and Maria Jimenes are all members of, and being supported by, ACORN. They each have a unique story to tell.

Madeleine was upbeat about the future, saying "I am so happy we have a president that is helping us."

Dolores is hoping for broader support, telling the people gathered there "We need our community to stand with us."

Jorge Garza, who works with victims of predatory lenders every day, sums it up this way: "Banks do not deserve 20 years of someone's life just because [the banks] were greedy."

As for Ana, she expects to keep her home, and says "We will fight to the last" to do so.


My Thoughts

Looks like the ACORN thugs' next act of "civil disobedience" will be in Tuscon, Arizona. I'll keep you posted.

Obama Says Illegal Immigrant Amnesty Is High On His Agenda, Threatens US National Security, Economy

US Legislative Immigration Update
February 23, 2009

Right Side News Reports from the Federation for American Immigration Reform In This February 23rd Legislative Weekly...

• Despite High Unemployment, Obama Puts Amnesty on the Agenda
• IRLI Defends Arizona Ranchers' Right to Protect Selves, Property Against Illegal Aliens
• No Shortage of Low-Skilled Workers
• New Studies Reveal How Illegal Aliens Strain Federal
• UPDATE: Freedom Finally Attained for Former Border Patrol Agents Resources

Despite High Unemployment, Obama Puts Amnesty on the Agenda
This week, as a guest on a Spanish language radio show, President Obama stated his continued support for giving amnesty to 12 million illegal immigrants, which would force Americans looking for a job to compete with amnestied aliens for work.  (El Piolin Interview, February 18, 2009 and CBS4 - South Florida).

During the radio interview, President Obama said: "We're going to start by really trying to work on how to improve the current [immigration] system so that people who want to be naturalized, who want to become citizens ... are able to do it; that it's cheaper, that it's faster, that they have an easier time in terms of sponsoring family members." Following that, President Obama acknowledged what legal American workers already know intuitively - that amnesty is not in their best interest - but then endorsed amnesty anyway.  President Obama said: "And then we've got to have comprehensive immigration reform. ... Politically it's going to be tough.  It's probably tougher now than it was, partly because of the fact that the economy has gotten worse."  (El Piolin).

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, over 11.6 million Americans are currently unemployed and the number of unemployed Americans has increased by 4.1 million over the past year.  (Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2009).  Millions more have simply stopped looking for work.  Just last month, 598,000 Americans lost their jobs.  Particularly troubling among the unemployment data is the fact that certain minorities such as African-Americans are experiencing greater unemployment (12.6 percent) than the nation as a whole.

President Obama also said his staff was working on amnesty already, stating: "we've got some wonderful people on my White House staff who are working on this issue on an ongoing basis." Earlier this week, open-borders advocates suggested that they expect that Congress will debate amnesty legislation in the fall of 2009.  (NDN, February 20, 2009).  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's director of Hispanic media has confirmed the likely timing for debate as well.  (O Jornal, January 30, 2009).


My Thoughts

I guess Obama's illegal immigrant aunt is going to be ok.

Obama and the Democrats want to make it legal for anyone to invade this country. If this comes to pass, it'll open our borders to not just those immigrants who are law-abiding and hard-working but also those that want to use this country as new turf to spread crime and gangs into the US, and the American people will be their prey.

Let's not forget that this could also potentially let terrorists into this country with impunity. They could in turn conspire together and kill many American citizens thanks to Obama's amnesty.

This would be a huge hit to our national security, and would endanger the lives of everyone living in this country for no reason.

I'm not saying that we should not let anyone into this country, but there should be restrictions for those that come in and a proces that all appicants should have to follow to be able to come into this country. There shouldn't be any exceptions.

Pentagon: Gitmo Doesn't Violate Geneva

Guantanamo Meets Humane Standards, Report Finds

The conditions of confinement at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba meet the standards set forth in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, according to a Pentagon report.

By Justin Fishel
Monday, February 23, 2009

The Pentagon concluded in a report that the conditions of confinement at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba meet the standards set forth in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, a top naval officer announced Monday. 

While the conditions do meet he standards, the report offers five major areas in which the detention center needs to improve in order to "go beyond a minimalist approach to compliance."

The review was requested in an executive order handed down from President Obama in the first days of his administration.

Vice Admiral Patrick M. Walsh presented the report's findings Monday to the Pentagon press after a 13-day investigation that included interviews with more than 100 guards, leadership staff, interrogators, and a dozen captives held at the detention facility.

Recommendations include the need for increased socialization among the detainees, improved access to health care services, and the practice of video archiving of all interrogations. 

The goal of the report, he said, was not to look at past instances of alleged abuse but rather to look at what the standards are now. 

Video archiving is an issue that has come up for the Pentagon in the past, and many have argued certain videos were destroyed because they held evidence of torture. 

Walsh said that not all videos were kept on file due to "technical limitations," but the report recommends all interrogations be recorded and archived going forward.

"It's very important to be able to put everyone on notice in terms of accountability... and the root issue, as far as we're concerned, is being able to have undeniable proof as to the events that took place," Walsh said. 

Social interaction was the top on the list of necessary improvements.

"The ability to interact, person to person, is critically important for folks to be able to socialize and to be able to be intellectually stimulated," Walsh said. But different detainees are being held for different reasons, and mingling them could pose a risk.

Camp 7, which Walsh described as the equivalent of super-maximum security prison that holds high profile detainees such as the alleged 9/11 co-conspirators, will not allow its members to interact with other camps. They will be permitted to have more access to recreational activities -- giving them more than the 2 to 4 hours they get now.

Detainees in lower security areas like Camp 4, where one third of the detainees are held, have access to recreation 20 hours a day and are often held in communal spaces with a television.

Among the low security prisoners are 17 Chinese Uighurs whose pending case for release is causing  "increased tension and anxiety within the detainee population," according to the report. The review calls for their case to be solved as soon as possible in order to reduce those tensions.

The fifth major recommendation suggests as many cases as possible should be decided in order to suppress the uncertainly and anxiety that detainees are experiencing. "Understandably, these detainees continue to express their extreme frustration with their continued detention ... and it complicates conditions of detention."

It's mental health issue, according to Walsh. 

"So what we're doing here in this report is we're saying there's another dimension to this that we have to look at, and that's mental welfare, and we think that's critically important," Walsh said. 

He said 8 percent of the detainees suffer from a mental illness that requires medication, and although that's less than that of the general U.S. population, its still cause for concern. Maintaining a good mental health record among the population is a major part of achieving the standards of humane treatment set forth in the Geneva Conventions.


My Thoughts

I believe the word that Left is looking for is "sorry". It turns out that the conditions of the military prison might not have been that bad under then Pres. Bush.

They spent the last few years claiming that war crimes were going on at Guantanamo Bay under the orders of Pres. Bush. Their propaganda machine was incesnsed by the horrible conditions that the inmates were living under at the prison in Cuba. Now, the Pentagon under the Obama administration says that it isn't that bad.

It's amazing what a difference that a different president can make.

News The Rotten ACORN Doesn't Want You to Know and the MSM Won't Report

I am just going to leave the link her for everyone to click and read. It shows the real story behind the poster child of ACORN's campaign against the "evils" of home foreclosures.


My Thoughts

Couldn't they have picked someone better than Donna Hanks to be their poster child for home foreclosures that are happening to good, honest people who were doing their best to pay their mortgages but just can't. Could they not find one? Or did they not care about the truth just about spreading their propaganda. The truth be damned I guess. Will the liberal left lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Democrats: What Is Good For Mexicans Isn't Necessarily Good For Americans

Friday, February 20, 2009 |

Examiner Editorial Special Report:Card Check co-sponsors favor secret ballot for Mexico, but not for U.S. workers
By Kevin Mooney Editorial Staff Writer |
2/20/09 5:44 AM

Democrats leading the charge in 2009 for legislation that critics say will abolish secret ballots for employees voting in U.S. workplace unionization contests signed a 2001 letter urging Mexican officials to protect their workers’ electoral privacy as a defense against union thugs.

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA or “Card Check”) would allow labor activists to gather signatures from 51 percent of employees to force a company to accept a unionized workplace. Current law requires a representation election in which workers are guaranteed a secret ballot.

Critics, including officials with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Right to Work Committee and Members of Congress from both parties who oppose EFCA, say the card system invites abuse because workers could be intimidated into signing.

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the main “card check bill” sponsor on the House side, and nine other Democratic co-sponsors,” all signed the letter to Mexico demanding that the secret ballot be maintained. Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.),  Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.),  Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.), Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.). all joined Miller in both co-sponsoring EFCA and signing the 2001 letter.

“We understand the secret ballot is allowed for, but not required by Mexican labor law. However, we feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose,” Miller and the other card check co-sponsors said in the letter.

“We respect Mexico as an important neighbor and a trading partner, and we feel that the increased use of the secret ballot in union recognition elections will help bring real democracy to the Mexican workplace,” they said.

Aaron Albright, a spokesperson for Democrats on the Education and Labor Committee, told The Washington Examiner that EFCA has been on the receiving end of “corporate misinformation” and that it will not jeopardize the secret ballot for workers.

“These are two separate situations,” Albright said. “These workers in Mexico were represented by a sham union and they were trying to replace this company dominated union with an independent one. In that circumstance a secret ballot is absolutely warranted and is the same as the law in this country, and it’s going to remain the same as this country. It’s a particular situation that was occurring in Mexico that the letter was addressing; the law will be exactly the same here.”

“My fellow Members of Congress and I wrote to Mexican authorities in 2001 arguing in favor of a secret ballot election in a specific case, where workers were trying to replace a phony, company-dominated union with an independent union,” Baca told The Washington Examiner.  “The Employee Free Choice Act is responsible legislation that is consistent with this principle.”

The 2001 letter makes a strong case for the secret ballot in union representation elections everywhere, said Alexa Marrero, a spokesman for Republican labor committee members.

“I could not have defended secret ballots better myself,” she said. “I think they spell out exactly why voters could be pressured into voting for a union that they don’t support in their own words and I think this is incredibly relevant to the discussion today.”

The public is becoming more aware of the “card check bill’s” true intentions and they understand that it would put secret ballots in jeopardy contrary to what the co-sponsors have argued, Marrero said.

Union officials predicted after the 2008 congressional elections that EFCA would be approved by Congress within its first 100 days of 2009, thanks to expanded Democratic majorities, Marrero said.

“The dynamics have changed and the Democrats seem to be slowly backing away from the bill,” she said. “The more the public knows about this legislation, the less they like it. “Our strategy right from the beginning has been to push as much information out there as we can to let people know what exactly is at stake and what this legislation would do.”



My Thoughts

Typical liberal double standard and hypocrisy. The Big Labor movement is too strong within the party. This letter shows that they know better than to actually put card check into law. We'll see if they really will do things that are better for the American people as a whole or do what is best for them by catering to their very liberal base.

Rotten ACORN Breaks Law in Act of "Civil Disobedience"

Feb 19, 2009 6:50 pm US/Eastern

ACORN Trains Citizens To Protest Home Foreclosures

A community organization breaks into a foreclosed home in what they are calling an act of civil disobedience.

The group wants to train homeowners facing eviction on peaceful ways they can remain in their homes.

Derek Valcourt reports their actions are not without controversy.

Near Patterson Park, the padlock on the door and the sign in the window tell part of Donna Hanks foreclosure story.

"The mortgage went up $300 in one month," said Hanks, former homeowner.

She says the bank refused to modify her loan and foreclosed, kicking her out of the house in September.

The community group ACORN calls Hanks a victim of predatory lending.

"This is our house now," said Louis Beverly, ACORN.

And on Thursday afternoon, they literally broke the foreclosure padlock right off the front door and then broke into the house, letting Hanks back in for the first time in months.

"We are actually trespassing, and so this is a way of civil disobedience to try to stay in the house," said Beverly. "Legally it's wrong, but homesteading is the only means that she has left to stay in her house. And we feel as though this is the right thing to do at this particular time to save this family."

Inside, there's spray paint on the walls and evidence that someone has possibly been remodeling.

The group says it was staging similar demonstrations in six other cities nationwide while urging a moratorium on foreclosures.  They want that until President Obama's stimulus plan begins on March 4. The plan is designed to help threatened homeowners.

"As you all can see, Donna is reclaiming her home, and she's putting a lock on her door at this time," said Beverly.

But that padlock won't stay there for long.

The current property managers told Eyewitness News they were unaware of ACORN's actions Thursday and were contacting the police and their lawyers.


My Thoughts

Well, this is just the beginning of the "community organizing" that they will do.

The "predatory lending" that was perpetrated against Mr. Hanks was the result of ACORN's bullying and intimidation of the banks and their managers to lend to people that could never pay it back or even get loan in the first place without ACORN's intervention. They have some nerve to just ignore their role in the mortgage crisis and pretend that it's not their fault.

People should be "community organizing" "civil disobedience" against ACORN.

Specter Receives Backlash For Turning on Fiscal Responsibility

Sen. Specter Jeered For Voting For Stimulus Plan PITTSBURGH (KDKA) ―

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter was greeted with jeers at a press conference in Cranberry Township.

Conservatives are fuming after Specter cast the deciding vote that led to the passage of President Barack Obama's stimulus plan.

Specter, 79, acknowledges his run for re-election will be tough.

He says he's not completely happy with Obama's plans but he points out that he was able to cut the price tag by over $100 billion and he says he was able to increase the amount of tax cuts.

Even so, Specter acknowledges the Republican Party's conservative wing will attempt to unseat him in next year's primary race.

Six years ago, Specter barely won the Republican primary, but he says he's not afraid to fight for the job one more time.


My Thoughts

He deserves worse. I think that the people in Pennsylvania need to send him pork rinds, protest outside his office, call and write in their displeasure with his actions. We cannot let up. If we do we'll wake up one day and be Sweden or, dare to think, California.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Arizona High School Students Don't Even Buy What Obama and the Democrats Are Selling

Dobson students question Obama's plan

Hayley Ringle, Tribune
February 18, 2009 - 2:59PM

Students inside Jeff Sherrer's advanced placement government class view President Barack Obama's address via closed circuit television on the campus of Dobson High School in Mesa.

Tim Hacker, Tribune

A Dobson High School Advanced Placement government class with strong opinions about Barack Obama watched the president's speech Wednesday on a small, grainy TV in the corner of their classroom.

Some of the students attentively watched the speech, giving questioning looks and comments, shaking their heads and laughing at some of Obama's words. Other students listened, occasionally glancing up to watch, while texting on their cell phones, reading a book or finishing school work.

The gymnasium's events were shown simultaneously in rooms throughout the Mesa school, and teachers were given discretion on whether to show the speech, the students said.

The students in the class were hopeful things will work out but questioned whether Obama's plan would actually work to dig the country out of its economic woes. They also expected a longer speech.

Senior Syna Daudfar took some notes during the speech and was among the most vocally opposed to Obama's words.

At one point, when he talked about the costs of his stimulus plan, senior Maaike Albach and Daudfar looked at each other and said, "uh-oh."

"Overall I think it's a good idea, but he's not addressing the issues of the economic crisis," said Daudfar, a John McCain supporter who added he leans more toward being a moderate conservative. "The spending bill he just passed is just progressing the Democratic agenda rather than addressing the economic issues in the country."

Daudfar thinks Obama's plan is backward and deals with the "less important stuff" first. "Bailing out businesses" and "providing better regulatory systems for giving out money to businesses" should have been first, he said.

"If businesses can't afford to hire people, then people won't be able to work and pay off their mortgages," he said. "It's kind of like putting money into a funnel."

Albach, who is also a Republican, said Obama's plan sounds good but questioned how Obama can want to rely on "people's responsibility" when that is "what got us in this economic crisis in the first place."

"This puts us more into debt," said Albach, 18. "It's a horrible situation we're in."

Senior Brandon Miller wore a shirt with the words, "Hitler gave great speeches, too" above a picture of Obama.

Miller said he had been an Obama supporter "because of his speeches," but after debating the issues in this class and looking more into Obama's policies, his vote was swayed toward McCain.

He showed a video on his camera he had just taken of the president's minutelong motorcade and talked about what a "great experience" it was to watch it. Miller had also spent a couple of hours in front of the school, hanging out and watching the protesters.

"Even though I don't support him, I think it's cool he's here," said Miller, 18. "I just don't believe all the things he's telling us. His goal is just too big and broad."

Miller wanted to hear more about the costs and guidelines the stimulus bill entails. Senior Katelyn Meyer, who also leans more toward being a Republican, said Obama's plan sounds good, "but it's easier said than done."

"I like the refinancing part, and I like the part about mortgages, but I'm afraid we're going to put the money in but won't see any effect," said Meyer, 18, who still thought it was "cool" to say the president was at her school, even though she didn't get to see him live.

The students also questioned why Obama chose their school for his speech since he wasn't talking about education and wondered how much money the district spent on beautifying the campus while district positions and services are being cut.

District officials noted this week that the landscaping project completed over the weekend at Dobson was already in the works and was just expedited by the president's visit. Funding came from voter-approved bonds.

New sod was laid in front of the school Tuesday, and Daudfar said, "The joke at the school is they're going to take it away when he (Obama) leaves."

AP government teacher Jeff Sherrer said his students "feel very strongly about the issues, maybe more than the general population." He thought at least one of his students was outside protesting, and he had planned to take his students outside as a class project to show them what was going on but didn't get the chance.

"These kinds of kids really get into it," Sherrer said. "During the election we had lots of debates on the issues."


My Thoughts

Be careful kids! After what we saw in OKC, I would watch out for the cops and the secret service. In the days of "The One", dissent is no longer tolerated or American.

Oklahoma City: Obama Dissent Illegal?

Oklahoma City police officer pulls man over for anti-Obama sign on vehicle

By Johnny Johnson Feburary 19,2009

The police officers who stopped Oklahoma City motorist Chip Harrison and confiscated a sign from his car told him he has a right to his beliefs, but the U.S. Secret Service "could construe this as a threat against President Obama," according to the incident report released this morning.

Capt. Steve McCool of the Oklahoma City Police Department is seen in this video frame grab. McCool says an officer who wrongly pulled a man over last week and confiscated an anti-Barack Obama sign from his vehicle misinterpreted the sign as threatening. 

The sign, which read "Abort Obama Not the Unborn," was returned to Harrison later that day, the report said.

Police spokesman Steve McCool said this morning that the sign was taken in error, and Oklahoma City residents should not be worried that their First Amendment rights will be violated. He said a supervisor "intervened and quickly returned the sign" after Harrison called the police department.

"Obviously, it was not a good decision to confiscate the sign," McCool said.

Harrison, who could not be reached for comment this morning, told the officers that in his opinion the words "Abort Obama" meant to impeach him. He told the officers he does not believe in abortion because he is a Christian.

Harrison was stopped while driving a white truck on westbound Interstate 44 at SW 119th at 8:45 a.m. on Feb. 12, according to the police report.

--------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------

My Thoughts

I guess that they are going to make dissent illegal now.

You dare to challenge "The One"; off to the Gulag with you. You will pay the price in Siberia.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Are Private Jet Sales Green?

Stimulus Includes Tax Break to Promote Private Jet Sales

Just a few months after lawmakers scolded auto executives for flying to Washington in private jets, Congress approves incentives to help plane makers by reducing the tax bill of companies that buy assets like business planes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009
WASHINGTON  -- Just a few months after lawmakers scolded auto executives for flying to Washington in private jets, Congress approved a tax break in the stimulus package to help businesses buy their own planes.

The incentive -- first used to help plane makers recover from the 2001 terror attacks -- sharply reduces the up front tax bill for companies who buy assets like business planes.
The aviation industry, which is cutting jobs as it suffers from declining shipments and canceled orders, hopes the tax break in the economic-stimulus bill just signed by President Barack Obama will persuade more companies to buy planes and snap a slump in general aviation that began last year.
"This is exactly the type of financial incentive that should be included in a stimulus bill," said Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., in an interview. His state lost at least 6,900 jobs at Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft, both based in Wichita.

Roughly 11,000 jobs have been cut in the last three months by the 65 or so member companies of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, an industry trade group.

The industry needs a stronger economy, not a tax break, to recover, according to aviation consultant Richard Aboulafia with the Teal Group in Fairfax, Va.

"People and companies buy jets when they need new planes and feel good about the economy," he said. "If they don't feel good about things, a tax break isn't going to help."

Officials from industry trade groups disagree, saying a tax break will spur purchases, and give sales teams another tool to keep customers from canceling orders.

Many economists believe the current recession will last until at least the end of this year and may extend into 2010.
"It's trying to give you a reason to act now, rather than sit on the sidelines for the next two years," said CEO Ed Bolen of the National Business Aviation Association, a trade group that represents general aviation interests of 8,000 companies.

The incentive -- known as accelerated depreciation -- lets companies take a larger deduction in the early years of the life of an asset such as a plane.

Companies will have to place orders by the end of 2009, and those planes will need to be delivered by the end of 2010 to take advantage of the tax benefit.

First used in the months following 9/11, an industry study found accelerated depreciation helped boost sales by 43 percent, and later contributed an additional $2 billion in sales when implemented again in 2003.

Even with its previous success, both industry officials and lawmakers concede the incentive is by no means a cure-all during one of the worst recessions seen in decades.

"It's not a silver bullet as a stand-alone effort," said Tiahrt. "(But) this will certainly be helpful. This will sell aircraft that we wouldn't have sold before."

The industry was able to convince lawmakers to remove a provision in an early draft of the stimulus bill that would have prohibited banks that receive bailout money from buying or leasing private aircraft.

The provision grew out of scorn for leaders of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, who flew to Washington on private jets in November to ask Congress for $25 billion in taxpayer money.

Two of the largest makers of general-aviation aircraft -- Cessna, a unit of Providence, R.I.-based Textron and Hawker Beechcraft -- have also launched advertising campaigns to tell business executives to ignore criticism and keep buying planes.

It's too soon to know whether those appeals to corporate ego will work. For now, the main response of many general-aviation companies has been to cut jobs, hunker down and hope the recession doesn't drag on.
Teal Group's Aboulafia said companies must cut costs while continuing to push ahead with development of new planes and parts that will drive growth once the economy rebounds.
Cessna spokesman Doug Oliver, who said the company reduced its 2009 delivery forecast for jets to 375 from 535, thinks the tax break will help.

"It is a big deal," he said, adding that it helped pull the industry out of the post-9/11 slump that lasted into 2003. Oliver said cutting prices is not the answer for private-plane manufacturers.

"Planemakers don't like to discount pricing because it cheapens the value of planes they already sold," he said. "You are not going to see deep discounting on business jets, but we still negotiate with customers."

Piper Aircraft Inc. just cut 300 jobs but is pushing ahead with plans to unveil a $2.2 million jet model by the end of 2011.

Mark Miller, a spokesman for Piper, said orders for the jet have held at more than 200, while cancelations spiked in the last two weeks of January for its current lineup of prop planes.

Vero Beach, Fla.-based Piper, whose planes start around $200,000, recently cut its forecast for 2009 deliveries to 110 from 135. That was down further from a September projection of 236 deliveries.

Miller said the accelerated depreciation of aircraft "is promising," but sales would be helped more if banks lend more for aircraft purchases. Some experts say banks that previously demanded only 5 or 10 percent down on a plane now insist on 20 to 30 percent.

"Our customers are small business owners and professionals like lawyers," Miller said. "They're recession-resistant, but they're not recession-proof."


My Thoughts

Not only is it odd that they choose to add this after they chastise the 3 little pigs of Detroit for coming to Washington in jets, but it's also odd that Obama and the Democrats claimed to want to create green jobs with the "porkulus" bill.

I'm just sayin.

North Dakota Looks to Outlaw Abortion

ND House Passes Abortion Ban

Feb 17 2009 7:37PM

North Dakota's House of Representatives has passed a bill effectively outlawing abortion.

The House voted 51-41 this afternoon to declare that a fertilized egg has all the rights of any person.

That means a fetus could not be legally aborted without the procedure being considered murder.

Minot Republican Dan Ruby has sponsored other bills banning abortion in previous legislative sessions - all of which failed.

He also sponsored today's bill and says it is compatible with Roe versus Wade - the Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion.

(Rep. Dan Ruby, -R- Minot) "This is the exact language that's required by Roe vs. Wade. It stipulated that before a challenge can be made, we have to identify when life begins, and that's what this does." VO CONTINUES But Minot Democrat Kari Conrad says the bill will land North Dakota in court, trying to defend the constitutionality of a law that goes against the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

(Rep. Kari Conrad, -D- Minot) "People who presented this bill, were very clear that they intended to challenge Roe versus Wade. So they intend to put the state of North Dakota into court defending Roe vs. Wade"

The bill now goes to the North Dakota Senate.

My Thoughts

This would be a great, if it went through. I know Ashley Judd feels like an America with little or no restrictions is "America" to her, vut I feel that an America that would stop massacring innocent babies would be "America" to me.

Two Out of the Three Little Pigs Return to Government Trough

GM and Chrysler Request Billions More in Loans

GM presented particularly dire outlook for the future, saying it may need $30 billion in additional government aid but is asking now for $16.6 billion in loans

AP Tuesday, February 17, 2009

DETROIT -- General Motors and Chrysler said Tuesday their request for federal aid ballooned to a staggering $39 billion -- only months after receiving billions in loans -- in new plans that envision massive job losses and intense restructuring to survive a deepening recession.

General Motors Corp. presented a survival plan that calls for cutting a total of 47,000 jobs globally and closing five more U.S. factories, a move that represents the largest work force reduction announced by a U.S. company in the economic meltdown. Chrysler LLC said it will cut 3,000 more jobs and stop producing three vehicle models.

The grim reports came as the United Auto Workers union said it had reached a tentative agreement with GM, Chrysler and Ford Motor Co. on contract changes. Concessions with the union and debt-holders were a condition of the government bailout.

GM said it could need up to $30 billion from the Treasury Department, up from a previous estimate of $18 billion. That includes $13.4 billion the company has already received. The world's largest automaker said it could run out of money by March without new funds and needs $2 billion next month and another $2.6 billion in April.

"We have a lot of work to do," GM Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said. "We're still going at this with a great sense of urgency."

GM's request includes a credit line of $7.5 billion to be used if the downturn is more pronounced than expected. But the automaker claimed it could be profitable in two years and repay its loans by 2017.

The requests pale in comparison to what it might cost taxpayers if GM or Chrysler go bankrupt, said Aaron Bragman, auto industry analyst for the consulting firm IHS Global Insight in Troy, Mich.

"These are not small, insignificant organizations," he said. "These are the lifeblood of American manufacturing."

The company looked into three bankruptcy scenarios, all of which would cost the government more than $30 billion, GM Chief Operating Officer Fritz Henderson said. The worst scenario would cost $100 billion because GM's revenue would severely drop, he said.

Although little is known about whether people would buy cars from a bankrupt automaker, some research "suggests that sales fall off a cliff," Henderson said.

Chrysler LLC requested $5 billion in new loans on top of the $4 billion it received in December. That's $2 billion more than expected.

Both requests were part of restructuring plans the two automakers owed the government in exchange for earlier loans.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who will lead an Obama administration task force reviewing the plans, said his team would meet "later this week to analyze the companies' plans and to solicit the full range of input from across the administration."

Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford, which borrowed billions from private sources before credit markets tightened, has said it can make it through 2009 without government help.

GM and Chrysler plan to reduce the number of models they offer. GM raised the possibility its Saturn brand could be phased out and said its Swedish-based Saab unit could file bankruptcy this month.

The restructuring plans must be vetted by the Obama administration's new autos team. President Barack Obama's top spokesman told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday that he wouldn't rule out bankruptcy for the Detroit automakers.

The GM job cuts include 10,000 salaried and 37,000 blue-collar positions, amounting to 19 percent of its current global work force of 244,500. Jobs outside the U.S. account for 26,000 of the reductions.

The cuts would take place by the end of this year, and more would follow: The new plan has the U.S. work force declining from about 92,000 hourly and salaried employees at year-end 2008 to 72,000 by 2012.

Wagoner said the new plan was "significantly more aggressive" than the one presented to the government on Dec. 2 because the global economy and auto sales had deteriorated swiftly.

Chrysler had 54,007 employees at the end of 2008, so Tuesday's cuts would equal about 6 percent of its work force.

Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Chrysler said it now projects that automakers will sell 10.1 million vehicles in the U.S. this year, the lowest level in four decades.

"We have continued to see an unprecedented decline in the automotive sector," Chrysler Chief Executive Bob Nardelli said.

Chrysler will eliminate the Dodge Aspen, Durango and Chrysler PT Cruiser, company president Jim Press said. The Aspen and Durango, both large sport utility vehicles, have sold poorly while the PT Cruiser, released to much fanfare in 2000 due to its retro look, has also slumped in sales.

Detroit-based GM said it plans to sell or spin-off its Saturn brand. If those attempts are unsuccessful, GM will phase it out by 2011. GM is discussing the sale of its Hummer division and could complete the talks by March.

The automaker has also sought buyers for its Saab unit. Selling or eliminating those brands would leave GM to focus on Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick, with Pontiac reduced to one or two models.

GM would also reduce the number of vehicle models, dropping the nameplates from 48 in 2008 to 36 by 2012, four fewer models than in the December plan.

All of GM's major U.S. vehicle launches from 2009 to 2014 would be high-mileage cars and crossovers.

Details were unveiled the same day President Barack Obama signed into law a massive economic recovery plan. Signs that the recession was deepening were more immediate for investors, however, and they dumped stocks and pushed oil prices sharply lower.

The UAW said discussions were continuing regarding the union-run trust fund that will take on retiree health care expenses starting next year.

Terms of the union deal were not announced, but they were expected to eliminate the jobs bank in which laid-off workers get most of their pay, as well as changes that make the companies' labor costs competitive with their Japanese counterparts that have U.S. factories.

"The changes will help these companies face the extraordinarily difficult economic climate in which they operate," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement.

GM Chief Financial Officer Ray Young said the company hopes to exchange two-thirds of its roughly $28 billion in unsecured bond debt by the end of March. Bondholders, he said, signed a letter saying that they were making progress with the company.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she was hopeful the plans would help lead to the "transformation of our domestic automobile industry into a viable, technologically advanced, and globally competitive manufacturing force."


My Thoughts

It didn't take long for the pigs to come back to the tit of the government. In a few short months after the bridge loan to nowhere, we are in the same place as before.

Hopefully, the government has learned its lesson from the first time. Somehow, I doubt it.

I wonder what kind of deal they made with the UAW. Whatever the specifics, I'm sure it wasn't enough. The UAW has to go. They have torn a once proud industry down into a textbook example of a union that has gone away from doing what is best for the workers to doing what is best for itself.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Update: Individual's Property Rights Upheld

Jury: Rancher didn't violate migrants' rights By ARTHUR H. ROTSTEIN Associated Press Writer © 2009 The Associated Press Feb. 17, 2009, 6:07PM

TUCSON, Ariz. — A federal jury found Tuesday that a southern Arizona rancher didn't violate the civil rights of a group of illegal immigrants who claimed that he detained them at gunpoint in 2004.

The eight-member civil jury also found Roger Barnett wasn't liable on claims of battery and false imprisonment.

But the jury did find him liable on four claims of assault and four claims of infliction of emotional distress and ordered Barnett to pay $77,804 in damages — $60,000 of which were punitive.

Barnett declined to comment afterward, but one of his attorneys, David Hardy, said the plaintiffs lost on the bulk of their claims and that Barnett has a good basis for appeal on the two counts on which he lost.

"They won a fraction of the damages they were seeking," Hardy said.

All six plaintiffs are citizens of Mexico, five of whom are living in the United States with visa applications pending, and the sixth resides in Mexico but was allowed into the U.S. for the trial, said Nina Perales, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She declined to say where in the U.S. they're residing.

Perales called the outcome "a resounding victory that sends a message that vigilante violence against immigrants will not be tolerated."

David Urias, attorney for the plaintiffs, said, "Obviously we are disappointed with some aspects of the verdict. But I think that overall this was a victory for the plaintiffs."

For years, Arizona has been the busiest point along the Mexican border for illegal immigrants entering the United States.

For more than a decade, Barnett has been a controversial figure in southern Arizona. He's known for aggressively patrolling his ranch property and along highways and roads in the area, often with his wife and brothers, on the lookout for illegal immigrants.

The plaintiffs alleged that Barnett threatened them with his dog and told them he would shoot anyone who tried to escape.

Barnett's lawyers argued that his land was inundated with illegal immigrants who left trash on his property, damaged his water supply and harmed his cattle.

Barnett's wife and a brother were dismissed as defendants; in addition, another 10 people initially named as plaintiffs were dropped from the proceedings.

Barnett has been known to wear a holstered 9-mm pistol on his hip and upon coming across groups of migrants, to flash a blue and gold badge resembling that of the highway patrol, with the wording "Barnett Ranch Patrol. Cochise County. State of Arizona."

The Barnetts detain and turn over those whom they encounter to the U.S. Border Patrol. In 2006, Barnett estimated that he had detained more than 10,000 illegal immigrants in 10 years.

His actions have resulted in formal complaints from the Mexican government against what it considers vigilante actions, and in several other lawsuits, including one stemming from an October 2004 incident.

In that case, a jury awarded a family of Mexican-Americans on a hunting trip $100,000 in damages, later upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court.

Barnett's 22,000-acre ranch, about five miles north of the Mexican border, includes private and federal lease holdings in addition to nearly 14,000 acres of state-leased land.


My Thoughts

This is a good news, bad news ending. On one hand, most of the lawsuit was deemed frivilous as it should have been. On the other hand, they still did make him liable for too much.
It still could give people pause whenever they are in a situation where they must defend themselves, family, or property.

Overall, it is a good day for all Americans. If the verdict would of went the other way, it would have been endangered the everyones ability defend their own property and family.

He was found liable for assault and going overboard on the threats he shouted at the plantiffs. If he did kick the woman as MALDEF claims, it was the right decision. There wouldn't have been any excuse for assaulting them.

On the other hand, no real harm came to them because of the threats. That should have been a non-issue. After all, Mr. Barnett was a victim of a crime that was committed by the plantiffs as well.

There could be some appeals made by either party. I'll keep following this story as it develops.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What? Liberal Harassment on a College Campus?

Student Sues, Says Prof Called Him a "Fascist Bastard"
Updated 8:45 AM PST, Mon, Feb 16, 2009

Student Jonathan Lopez says a professor, John Matteson, called him a "fascist bastard" and refused to let him finish his speech against gay marriage during a public speaking class.

A student is suing Los Angeles City College over an incident in which a professor refused to let him finish a speech against gay marriage, according to the Los Angeles Times. (LA Times)
Student Jonathan Lopez told the Times that the professor, John Matteson, called him a "fascist bastard" and refused to let him finish his speech during a public speaking class last November, weeks after California voters approved Proposition 8 banning gay marriage.

Lopez also said the teacher threatened to have him expelled when he complained to college authorities.

Lopez is represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization based in Scottsdale, Ariz., and co-founded by evangelical leader James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Alliance staff counsel David J. Hacker told The Times Lopez was a victim of religious discrimination.

"He was expressing his faith during an open-ended assignment, but when the professor disagreed with some minor things he mentioned, the professor shut him down," Hacker said. "Basically, colleges and universities should give Christian students the same rights to free expression as other students."


My Thoughts

What there is liberal indoctrination and harassment of conservatives, traditional views in college by apostatizing liberal college professors? I'm shocked.

Sen. Feinstein Embarrasses Pakastani Government

Feinstein's remarks on Predator likely to embarrass Pakistan

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, likely made Pakistan squirm by indicating that the armed, unmanned U.S. drones operating in Pakistan are based there, the Los Angeles Times reports.

For months, Pakistani leaders have criticized the use of Predator-launched CIA missiles against Islamic extremists along the northwest border.

The California Democrat's remarks came during a Congressional hearing in which she expressed surprise over Pakistani opposition to the use of the missiles.

"As I understand it, these are flown out of a Pakistani base," she said.

Philip J. LaVelle, a spokesman for Feinstein, said her comment was based solely on previous news reports that Predators were operated from bases near Islamabad, the newspaper reports.


My Thoughts

For being on the Intelligence Committee, what Sen. Feinstein said wasn't that intelligent.

How could she not realize that saying that could cause turmoil and embarrassment in the always volatile Pakistani government? Wouldn't being the leader of the "Intelligence" committee allow her access to that kind of information?

She endangered our relationship with an important ally in the war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The mood in the country is difficult because there are many Islamic fundamentalists in the country that would not take kindly to their government helping the "Great Satan". It could lower the chances that the Pakistani government will help us in the future with fighting them, if they thought that it would be blabbed by someone in our government.