Wednesday, September 30, 2009
As Ed Morrissey of Hot Air noted with this PSA came out, Will was paid $20,000,000 for the movie "Bewitched" in 2005 and, therefore, may not have much room to complain about other people being "overpaid."
Thankfully, someone came out with a spoof of the above video that is actually funny. And it calls out Will and the other celebrities for their un-informed, self-righteousness:
There is nothing that makes me smile like self-righteous people getting called out for their vapid positions.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
President Obama wants a unified front against Iran, and to that end he stood together with Nicolas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown in Pittsburgh on Friday morning to reveal the news about Tehran's secret facility to build bomb-grade fuel. But now we hear that the French and British leaders were quietly seething on stage, annoyed by America's handling of the announcement.
Both countries wanted to confront Iran a day earlier at the United Nations. Mr. Obama was, after all, chairing a Security Council session devoted to nonproliferation. The latest evidence of Iran's illegal moves toward acquiring a nuclear weapon was in hand. With the world's leaders gathered in New York, the timing and venue would be a dramatic way to rally international opinion.
President Sarkozy in particular pushed hard. He had been "frustrated" for months about Mr. Obama's reluctance to confront Iran, a senior French government official told us, and saw an opportunity to change momentum. But the Administration told the French that it didn't want to "spoil the image of success" for Mr. Obama's debut at the U.N. and his homily calling for a world without nuclear weapons, according to the Paris daily Le Monde. So the Iran bombshell was pushed back a day to Pittsburgh, where the G-20 were meeting to discuss economic policy.
Le Monde's diplomatic correspondent, Natalie Nougayrède, reports that a draft of Mr. Sarkozy's speech to the Security Council Thursday included a section on Iran's latest deception. Forced to scrap that bit, the French President let his frustration show with undiplomatic gusto in his formal remarks, laying into what he called the "dream" of disarmament. The address takes on added meaning now that we know the backroom discussions.
"We are right to talk about the future," Mr. Sarkozy said, referring to the U.S. resolution on strengthening arms control treaties. "But the present comes before the future, and the present includes two major nuclear crises," i.e., Iran and North Korea. "We live in the real world, not in a virtual one." No prize for guessing into which world the Frenchman puts Mr. Obama.
"We say that we must reduce," he went on. "President Obama himself has said that he dreams of a world without nuclear weapons. Before our very eyes, two countries are doing exactly the opposite at this very moment. Since 2005, Iran has violated five Security Council Resolutions ...."
Again, President Obama demonstrates that he is completely out of his depth and has no clue how the real world works or reacts. Perhaps this is why some members of the British media have started referring to him as "President Pantywaist."
Monday, September 28, 2009
(H/T to Sweetness and Light for locating and posting the ad).
Here is the transcript for the ad on the off chance that someone scrubs it from You Tube:
Hillary For President“True”TV : 30
Announcer: Barack Obama says he has the judgment to be president. But as chairman of an oversight committee charged with the force of fighting Al Qaeda in Afghanistan–he was too busy running for president to hold even one hearing.
Barack Obama: “I became chairman of this committee, at the beginning of this campaign-at the beginning of 2007, so it is true that we haven’t had oversight hearings on Afghanistan.”
Announcer: Hillary Clinton will never be too busy to defend our national security-bringing our troops home from Iraq and pursing Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Hillary Clinton: “I’m Hillary Clinton and I approved this message.”
Let's see, we have Iran test firing long-range missiles that can reach Israel and announcing that it's got a second nuclear facility strategically buried under a military base near a holy city, our military leaders in Afghan are waiting for President Obama to act on their request 30,000 to 40,000 more troops because that war is going to hell in a hand basket, and our economy continues to suck with the unemployment rate for people ages 16 to 24 years old at over 50%.
So what is President Obama doing? He's heading to Copenhagen, Denmark later this week to schlep for Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid:
At the same time, it appears that President Obama does not have time to discuss Afghanistan with General Stanley McCrystal, the man he handpicked to lead our war effort:
The president called Mayor Richard Daley, who left for Copenhagen Friday, at 6:55 a.m. Eastern time to say that he was indeed going to Denmark.
“President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama symbolize the hope, opportunity and inspiration that makes Chicago great, and we are honored to have two of our city’s most accomplished residents leading our delegation in Copenhagen,” Daley said in a statement.
“Who better to share with members of the International Olympic Committee the commitment and enthusiasm Chicago has for the Olympic and Paralympic Movement than the President and First Lady.”
Patrick Ryan, CEO of Chicago 2016 is equally enthused.
“There is no greater expression of the support our bid enjoys, from the highest levels of government and throughout our country, than to have President Obama join us in Copenhagen for the pinnacle moment in our bid,” Ryan said. “We are honored that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will be with us to extend a hand of friendship on behalf of our nation and the City of Chicago as we seek to welcome the world for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
The military general credited for capturing Saddam Hussein and killing the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq says he has only spoken to President Obama once since taking command of Afghanistan.
“I’ve talked to the president, since I’ve been here, once on a VTC [video teleconferece],” General Stanley McChrystal told CBS reporter David Martin in a television interview that aired Sunday.
“You’ve talked to him once in 70 days?” Mr. Martin followed up.
“That is correct,” the general replied.
Seriously?? I really just do not even know what to say at this point other than the President and his administration seem entirely out of their depth. And our country is the worse for it.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Okay, I think it makes sense for schools to recognize the historic nature of President Obama's election and his accomplishments. But to have kids sing songs that glorify him and indoctrinate him to his political positions is neither good nor healthy; no, it is something you would expect to see in North Korea. Even the folks at MSNBC, which will never be accused of being a right-wing mouthpiece, recognized this point:
Also, when I first saw the video, I had just assumed that it was a lone teacher who had simply gone a little overboard. No, apparently, the kids sang this song at an official school function back in February, and the school district was okay with the song. Here is statement that the district released yesterday:
Dear Burlington Township Families:
Today we became aware of a video that was placed on the internet which has been reported in the media. The video is of a class of students singing a song about President Obama. The activity took place during Black History Month in 2009, which is recognized each February to honor the contributions of African Americans to our country. Our curriculum studies, honors and recognizes those who serve our country. The recording and distribution of the class activity were unauthorized.
If you have any further questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me or Dr. King, Principal of B. Bernice Young School, directly.
Dr. Christopher M. Manno,
Superintendent of Schools
Again, teaching the kids about President Obama's historic election, good; indoctrinating them to his political beliefs, bad. It does not appear that Dr. Manno understands this point. I hope that the kids' parents do.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
The story arose from an August 10 teleconference that Yosi Sergant, then Communications Director of the NEA, arranged, and Michael Skolnick, political director for hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons (an aside- do most hip-hop moguls have political directors?), chaired. Participants in the teleconference also included 21 artists and arts-related non-profit groups, including Patrick Courrielche, who recently received grants from the NEA, Buffy Wicks, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and Nell Abernathy, Director of Outreach for Serve.Gov, which is part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency.
To his great credit, the call deeply offended Patrick Courrielche, and he details what happened in the call and how Sergent and the White House subsequently lied about the Administration's role in the call here. Courrielche also includes a full transcript and audio of the call. Here are some of the highlights from the major players named above.
- “I’ve been asked by folks in the White House and folks in the NEA … we had the idea that I would help bring together the artist community…”
- “…the Hope poster obviously is a great example, but it’s clear as an independent art community as artists and thinkers and tastemakers and marketers and visionaries that are on this call, the role that we played during the campaign for the president…”
- “…the President has a clear arts agenda and has been very supportive of using art and supporting art in creative ways to talk about some issues that we face here in our country, but also to engage people. And I think all of us who are on this phone call, you know, were selected for a reason.”
- “And so I’m hoping that through this group, and the goal of all this, and the goal of this phone call, is through this group we can create a stronger community amongst ourselves to get involved in things we’re passionate about as we did during the campaign. But to continue to get involved in those things, to support some of the President’s initiatives, but also to do things that we are passionate about and to push the President and push his administration…"
Wicks, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement:
- “I just first of all want to thank everyone for being on the call and just a deep deep appreciation for all the work you all put into the campaign for the 2+ years we all worked together.”
- “We won.”
- “I’m actually in the White House and working towards furthering this agenda, this very aggressive agenda.”
- “We’re going to come at you with some specific asks here.”
- “I hope you guys are ready.”
- “I would encourage you to pick something, whether it’s health care, education, the environment, you know, there’s four key areas that the corporation has identified as the areas of service.”
- “And then my ask would be to apply artistic, you know, your artistic creative communities utilities and bring them to the table.”
- “Again, I’m really, really honored to be working with you; the National Endowment for the Arts is really honored.”
- “You’re going to see a lot more of us in the next four and hopefully eight years.”
- “This is a community that knows how to make a stink.”
- “…this is just the beginning. This is the first telephone call of a brand new conversation.”
- “We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What that looks like legally?”
- “So bear with us as we learn the language so that we can speak to each other safely…”
- “I would encourage you to pick something whether it’s health care, education, the environment, you know, there’s four key areas that the corporation has identified as the areas of service.”
- “My ask would be to apply artistic, you know, your artistic creative community’s utilities and bring them to the table.”
Ben Shapiro, a recent Harvard Law grad, sets out what happened after the call and legal issues arising from the call:
So you would think that the national news media would be concerned about a White House is potentially using the NEA's grant system for propaganda purposes. But no, not really.
On August 25, artist Patrick Courrielche told the story of a conference call he attended on August 10. That conference call was hosted by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, and United We Serve. The goal of the conference call: “to help lay a new foundation for growth, focusing on core areas of the recovery agenda – health care, energy and environment, safety and security, education, community renewal.” The call would push “a group of artists, producers, promoters, organizers, influencers, marketers, taste-makers, leaders or just plain cool people to join together and work together to promote a more civically engaged America and celebrate how the arts can be used for a positive change!”
If this sounds suspicious to you, that’s because it is. Never before has the NEA explicitly urged artists to tackle particular social issues like health care. But that is how this Administration works.
The people behind the conference call, Courrielche reported, were Yosi Sargent, Director of Communications for the National Endowment for the Arts; Buffy Wicks, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; Nell Abernathy, Director of Outreach for United We Serve; Thomas Bates, Vice President of Civic
Engagement for Rock the Vote; and Michael Skolnik, Political Director for Russell Simmons. Sargent sent the actual email invitation. When The Washington Times called Sargent for confirmation, Sargent denied involvement with the email. He claimed that Skolnik had sent the invitation.
The email came directly from Sargent – which is to say, from the NEA itself. Most astonishingly, the email contained a copy of a notice from United We Serve. That notice read: “A call has come in to our generation. A call from the top. A call from a house that is White. … President Obama is asking us to come together … Now is the time for us to answer this call.” Sargent has since been “reassigned” at the NEA.
Two days after the conference call, on August 12, 21 separate arts organizations came out and endorsed Obama’s health care plan.
All of this – particularly the government-sponsored conference call itself – is in blatant violation of the Anti-Lobbying Act (19 U.S. Code §1913), which explicitly provides: “No part of the money appropriated by any enactment of Congress shall, in the absence of express authorization by Congress, be used directly or indirectly to pay for any personal service, advertisement, telegram, telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device, intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress, a jurisdiction, or an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation, whether before or after the introduction of any bill, measure or resolution proposing such legislation, law, ratification, policy or appropriation …”
Violation of this law, in turn, violates 31 U.S. Code §1352, which bans use of “funds appropriated by any Act [from being] expended by the recipient of a Federal contract, grant, loan, or cooperative agreement to pay any person for influencing or attempting to influence an officer or employee of any agency, a Member of Congress, an officer or employee of Congress, or an employee of a Member of Congress in connection with any Federal action …”
According to a government guide put out by the National Institutes of Health Ethics Program (which is a governmental agency: ethics.od.nih.gov), the Anti-Lobbying Act prevents government employees from engaging in “substantial ‘grass roots’ lobbying campaigns … expressly urging individuals to contact government officials in support of or opposition to legislation …. Provid[ing] administrative support for lobbing activities of private organizations …” Every provision was violated by this conference call, which urged artists to support the president’s agenda – and which connected potential voters to private lobbying organizations indirectly, as banned by the Act itself.
Violation of the Anti-Lobbying Act carries punishment: “Any person who makes an expenditure … shall be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $10,000 and not more than $100,000 for each such expenditure.” And that’s not all: “An imposition of a civil penalty under this subsection does not prevent the United States from seeking any other remedy that the United States may have for the same conduct that is the basis for the imposition of such civil penalty.” In other words, criminal prosecution is available here.
I just ran searches for "Yosi Sergent" on the websites for CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, and CBS News and came up with a September 10 blog entry from Jack Tapper of ABC about this story. Tapper's entry ends with the following:
White House spokesman Shinn Inouye said the White House does not believe the incident reflects a politicization of NEA funding. “The United We Serve effort is an attempt to get Americans from all walks of life to answer the President’s call for people to get involved with their communities,” he said.Serving their communities by advancing the President's legislative agenda??
Friday, September 18, 2009
Some others have noticed the President's "omnipresence" as well. Here are some takes on President Obama's decision to appear on five Sunday talk shows and David Letterman next week to discuss health care:
Over at the Corner:
I see that President Obama is going to be featured on four or five (!) of the Sunday talk shows this weekend. It is simply unbelievable to me that none of the political experts in the White House has told or convinced the president that more yakking on his part on health care or anything else would be counterproductive, and that this is the time for him to sit back and be presidential, while the crass politicians in Congress fight things out.
But . . . no. Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, ACORN's gotta engage in fraud, and Obama's gotta talk. It's really that simple; and it is amazing, given how little this guy actually knows about economics, about foreign affairs, about, well, just about anything. This reminds me of a footnote, minor but revealing, from the 2004 Democratic National Convention, at which Obama was the keynote speaker. His rhetoric, as usual, was as empty as a dry well, even as it drew the crowd to its feet time and again. Obama was reported, after the speech and the thunderous reception that it received, to have said to someone, "You know, I can play in this league."
And so there we have it: Obama really believes at his core that empty rhetoric is the same as substance and judgement. I have to believe that it was then that he began to view himself as presidential timber. A small bit of vanity for a man; a giant looming danger for America and the cause of liberty.
And ABC's Jack Tapper:
Polls indicate that Americans say the more they hear about the president’s proposed overhaul, the less they like it. An ABC News/Washington Poll last week showed 54 percent of Americans feel that way. White House officials say that’s because Americans are hearing false attacks on Obama’s plan, not reality -- hence the PR blitz.
Republican strategist Kevin Madden says it’s too much.
“I think the worry is it’s gone beyond over exposure and now we have what I would call the ‘Obama omnipresence.’ You almost can’t escape this president,” Madden said on ABC News’ “Top Line.” “It goes beyond just cable news and it goes into whether or not you’re flipping on ESPN and you’re seeing him talk about basketball or you turn on the Lifetime channel and you hear what Michelle Obama is wearing this week. And I think that begins to wear on a lot of people.”
I agree. I wish the President would spend more time running the government we have instead of campaigning constantly to expand it.
Tevi Troy over at the Corner asks (jokingly, I think) whether the implosion of ACORN will rank as President Obama's biggest accomplishment:
When I served in government, it was well known that ACORN was receiving massive amounts of funding for questionable purposes. In fact, many a new political official would learn about the level of funding ACORN received and ask what could be done about this blatantly political subsidy. The grizzled green-eyeshade budget staffers would always shake their heads sadly at the new guy and say something like, "You'd better take that up with the Hill. ACORN is untouchable up there."
If nothing else, the election of ACORN ally Barack Obama as president shined some light on ACORN's practices and enormous federal funding for those activities, and it was that disinfecting sunshine that paved the path for the House vote to defund ACORN. ACORN, it seems, is now untouchable, but in the opposite way. All but the
absolutely safest Democrats have abandoned it. As the Wall Street Journal noted, even ACORN promoter Barney Frank was conveniently — and suddenly — absent for the House vote. At the end of four or eight years, I doubt that the Obama White
House will include the defunding of ACORN among their proudest accomplishments, but conservatives will probably place this at the top of the list.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
The White House is scrapping a Bush-era plan for an Eastern European missile-defense shield, saying a redesigned defensive system would be cheaper, quicker and more effective against the threat from Iranian missiles.
Mr. Gates said the previous administration's plans will be changed, moving away from the installation of a missile-defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland in
the near future. He said a second phase to begin in 2015 could result in missiles being placed on land in Eastern Europe.
The White house confirmed that it will ditch Bush plans to erect a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, a move likely to mean greater cooperation with Russia.
Russia on Thursday welcomed the news but said it saw no reason to offer concessions in return. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened last November to station tactical Iskander missiles on Poland's border if the U.S. system was deployed.
"The Bush plans on the missile defense as we knew them until now were nothing more than a provocation of security in the European region," said Dmitry Rogozin,
Russia's ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in a phone interview.
Jan Fischer, the Czech Republic interim prime minister, said he got a phone call from Mr. Obama just after midnight Thursday about the plans.
The Polish government doesn't plan to make an immediate statement on its Thursday meeting with U.S. officials on the missile shield, Foreign Ministry spokesman Piotr Paszkowski said.
Huh?? You inform the leader of a key ally that your hanging out to dry by calling him "just after midnight." Now, that is some strong leadership.
It also appears to be at odds with a speech that President Obama gave in Prague all the way back on April 5, 2009. At that time, President Obama said, in part:
So let me be clear: Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran's neighbors and our allies. The Czech Republic and Poland have been courageous in agreeing to host a defense against these missiles. As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven. (Applause.) If the Iranian threat is eliminated, we will have a stronger basis for security, and the driving force for missile defense construction in Europe will be removed. (Applause.)
Words. Just words. And as an aside, I like how the White House Press Office lets us know when the crowd applauded during the speech. It makes me feel like I was actually there.
Oddly, some of our European friends do not seem to excited about this decision. Here is Niles Gardiner from London's Telegraph:
This is bad news for all who care about the US commitment to the transatlantic alliance and the defence of Europe as well as the United States. It represents the appalling appeasement of Russian aggression and a willingness to sacrifice American allies on the altar of political expediency. A deal with the Russians to cancel missile defence installations sends a clear message that even Washington can be intimidated by the Russian bear.
What signal does this send to Ukraine, Georgia and a host of other former Soviet satellites who look to America and NATO for protection from their powerful neighbour? The impending cancellation of Third Site is a shameful abandonment of America’s friends in eastern and central Europe, and a slap in the face for those who actually believed a key agreement with Washington was worth the paper it was written on.
Okay, you say, but you've never heard of Niles Gardiner and really don't care what he has to say on the subject. Fair enough, so I also offer Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa:
Former Polish President and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Lech Wałesa, has spoken out about media reports that the US has scrapped plans to install a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.
“Americans have always cared only about their interests, and all other [countries] have been used for their purposes. This is another example,” Mr Wałęsa told TVN24. “[Poles] need to review our view of America, we must first of all take care of our business,” he added.
“I could tell from what I saw, what kind of policies President Obama cultivates,” the former president added. “I simply don't like this policy, not because this shield was required [in Poland], but [because of] the way we were treated,” he concluded.
Finally, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has called the President's decision "deeply regrettable:"
"This deeply regrettable decision sends the wrong message to Tehran, Moscow, and
our European allies at a critical time in our effort to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program," Lieberman said. "Moreover, it means that we will have a less capable missile defense system to protect the United States and our European allies against the Iranian threat. The administration must take immediate and tangible action to reassure our allies in Central and Eastern Europe that we are committed to their security and independence."
Deeply regrettable indeed.
Update: I did not realize that today was the 70th Anniversary of the Soviet Union's invasion of Poland. Now, that is some unfortunate timing.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Amazingly, ACORN has now acknowledged the obvious: it needs to get its s**t together. And it is suspending its operations to do so. Apparently, the videos aren't quite as doctored as ACORN had originally claimed.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has made this keen observation about ACORN's decision:
Humble is what follows after humiliation, in most cases, and that’s exactly what ACORN has suffered for the past week. Humble would have gone a long way toward moderating the public backlash against ACORN in the wake of these (now) “indefensible” actions by ACORN offices in Baltimore, New York City, Washington DC, and San Bernardino. Had they acknowledged the obvious from the very beginning, the rest of these exposés would have become anti-climactic.
Instead, Lewis played the race card, and now has egg on her face and that of the entire organization. ACORN definitely needs to clean house, and they should start with Lewis. She has become the Baghdad Bob of ACORN and has zero credibility after accusing everyone of being racists for their offense at taxpayer dollars going to an organization that offers advice on how to cheat the IRS.
Last night, Sen. Obama received the more than necessary two-thirds of the majority needed from our elected national leadership to secure the endorsement,” said Maude Hurd, ACORN’s National President. “Over the past months, we have worked with the leading candidates; ACORN’s members have deep appreciation and respect for Senators Clinton and Edwards and their work on behalf of our communities. What it came down to was that Senator Obama is the candidate who best understands and can affect change on the issues ACORN cares about like stopping foreclosures, enacting fair and comprehensive immigration reform, and building stronger and safer communities across America.”
In the past three weeks, Sen. Obama has met with ACORN leaders regarding foreclosure prevention solutions, including a roundtable discussion on Tuesday in San Antonio.
When Obama met with ACORN leaders in November, he reminded them of his history with ACORN and his beginnings in Illinois as a Project Vote organizer, a
nonprofit focused on voter rights and education. Senator Obama said, "I come out of a grassroots organizing background. That's what I did for three and half years before I went to law school. That's the reason I moved to Chicago was to organize. So this is something that I know personally, the work you do, the importance of it. I've been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.”
Oddly, after ACORN's PAC endorsed then candidate Obama, his campaign paid ACORN subsidiary Citizens Services Inc. $800,000 in 2008 for get-out-the-vote efforts. From my perspective, it almost looks like Barack Obama is ACORN, and ACORN is Barack Obama. Perhaps it's time that someone look into the actual extent of that relationship.
For the record, I recall understanding this basic economic concept back in the 3rd grade.
THE INSTA-DAUGHTER, THE OTHER DAY: “Barack Obama since the campaign is like Avril Lavigne after she dumped The Matrix — still big, but without the magic.” She has a point. The Matrix production team did a great job of capitalizing on her substantial-but-limited talent while covering up the limits. After that, well . . . .
Oddly, I don't think I would have come up with this one on my own.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
What ?? You haven't heard of ACORN's problem? Don't worry, you are not alone, neither has Charlie Gibson, the lead anchor for ABC's World News Tonight.
By way of background, ACORN bills itself as "the nation’s largest grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people with over 400,000 member families organized into more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in 110 cities across the country." According to its website, ACORN is engaged in the following activities on behalf of low and moderate-income people:
Community organizing: Each of the 1,200 local ACORN neighborhood chapters in 110 cities and 40 states brings neighbors together to work for stronger, safer and more just communities.
Issue campaigns: Each ACORN office carries out multiple issue campaigns. ACORN members across the country work to raise the minimum wage or enact living wage policies; eliminate predatory financial practices by mortgage lenders, payday lenders, and tax preparation companies; win the development of affordable housing and community benefits agreements; improve the quality of and funding for urban public schools; rebuild New Orleans; and pass a federal and state ACORN Working
Families Agenda, including paid sick leave for all full time workers. A recent study shows that our issue campaign victories have delivered approximately $15 billion in direct monetary benefits to our membership and constituency over the past 10 years.
So your saying to yourself, well, that's nice, Bru, but why would anyone get all that concerned about a non-partisan, social justice organization? Well, first, the Washington Examiner has reported that ACORN has received $53,000,000 in federal funding since 1994 and is eligible to receive up to $8,000,000,000 in funds from this year's stimulus package. So ACORN uses our money to help fund its activities. Second, while ACORN is supposedly "non-partisan," Barack Obama's presidential campaign paid ACORN's subsidiary Citizens Services Inc. $800,000 for "get-out-the-vote" activities last year. That strikes me as oddly partisan for a non-partisan group. And, third, its voter registration efforts have had some significant verification, er, fraud issues.
Service delivery: ACORN and its allied organizations provide extensive services to our members and constituency. These include free tax preparation focusing on the Earned Income Tax Credit; screening for eligibility for federal and state benefit programs; and, through the ACORN Housing Corporation, first time homeowner mortgage counseling and foreclosure prevention assistance, and low income housing development.
Ballot initiatives: ACORN-backed ballot-initiative campaigns in 2006 helped raise the minimum wage in Ohio, Arizona, Missouri and Colorado, working with community-faith-labor coalitions on successful campaigns in each state.
Voter participation: Since 2004, ACORN has helped more than 1.7 million low- and moderate-income and minority citizens apply to register to vote.
Now, a 20 year-old female and her 25 year-old male colleague, who were apparently concerned about ACORN's potential malfiesance with federal money, have added a fourth reason for you to care about ACORN. These two activist journalists went to ACORN's various local offices with a hidden video camera, posed as a prostitute and her pimp, explained that they were having trouble getting a mortgage to buy a house, said that they wanted to purchase the house to run a brothel with a bunch of underage girls that they were bringing up from El Salvador, said that they intended to use the proceeds from the brothel to help fund the pimp's future political campaigns, and asked for ACORN's help in getting a mortgage.
The results so far have been devastating. The two activist journalists have released a video a day (excluding the weekend) since last Thursday and posted them at a website they started with the help of Andrew Breitbart. They have also promised more videos in the days to come.
On Thursday of last week, these two videos were released on ACORN's Baltimore, Maryland office:
On Friday of last week, the two videos concerned ACORN's local Washington, D.C.:
Yesterday, the released videos were from ACORN's Brooklyn office:
I understand that today's video will concern an ACORN office in the Los Angeles area.
ACORN has responded by claiming that the videos are doctored lies and stating that they intend to sue the two who made them because Maryland law prohibits videotaping another person without that person's prior knowledge and consent. I think that ACORN might have some First Amendment issues with its potential lawsuit given that these videotapes address a matter of public concern. But we'll see.
Regardless, I cannot see the Democrats rushing to aid an organization with employees who will attempt to help individuals who claim to run a brothel stocked with underage girls from El Salvador. Indeed, Shannon Love (via Instapundit) has noted that these videotapes appear to establish that ACORN has systemic leadership problems:
Update, 9/15, 5:06 p.m.: And, now, it appears that we have reached a new level of crazy:
[A] rule of thumb evolved after observing the failures of millions of computers. We learned that three separate computers would only suffer the same failure if the failure arose from a common source in the computers themselves. Just three machines out of millions told us we most likely had a systemic problem.
This brings me to the Acorn child prostitution scandal.
* One report from an Acorn office was a fluke. Any large organization, public or private of any creed can be infected by amoral individuals who will try to use the organization to commit illegal or unethical acts. No organization larger than a few dozen people can police the actions of every member, all the time.
* Two reports from two separate Acorn offices was just a disturbing coincidence. The same reasoning as above applies, because in a large organizations, just as in a large installed base of computers, it’s possible for two separate bad eggs carrying out the same acts to show up in the same organization.
* Three identical reports of the same failure from three separate offices indicates the criminality arises from the organization itself. It is highly unlikely that, out of the hundreds of Acorn offices around the nation, the journalist just happened to wander into the three offices whose managers wouldn’t blink an eye at helping to set up a brothel using children.
This degree of organizational systemic rot has to come from the head. I think that much is obvious. Something in Acorn’s organizational culture made these people feel that it was okay and expected for them to give the criminal advice that they did. Certainly, if Acorn had been a private for-profit company, three separate and wholly unrelated incidents would have been enough for leftists to demand the heads of the corporate officers.
By the way, the two activist journalists who are publishing these videos in accordance with Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals. Alinsky is very popular among left-wing community organizers, his followers include President Obama, and his published these rules as a means to bring about a socialist revolution in the U.S.
Alinsky Rule #8 is: "Keep the pressure on. Never let up." The journalists behind this campaign against ACORN are following this rule by slowly releasing their videos, and they have promised more to come.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Some people were animated by a single issue -- health care, taxes, the Second Amendment. But in dozens of interviews with marchers, the picture that emerged was of people who believe things are racing out of control along a whole range of fronts in Washington, and that no one is representing their interests. Obama and the Democrats in Congress, they believe, are simply pushing too hard on too many things. It's unlikely that there would have been a rally this size just about the stimulus, or just about cap-and-trade, or just about the takeovers of the auto companies, or even health care. But put them all together, and there is an enormous and growing fear that Obama and his allies are rushing to wreck the system.Reason.tv has put together this video about the protest that tries to capture the marchers' concerns. From the looks of it, the protesters were remarkably normal:
Indeed, while I have seen some commentators, such as Maureen Dowd, say that the protesters main motive is the color of President Obama's skin, his administration has correctly tried to put this assertion to rest:
A day after tens of thousands of conservatives gathered in Washington to protest the policies of the Obama administration, a top White House aide said that President Obama doesn’t think the protests and the growing conservative movement against Obama are motivated by racism.
“I don’t think the president believes that people are upset because of the color of his skin,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
Pointing to the upcoming first anniversary of the collapse of investment banking giant Lehman Brothers, Gibbs said he thought the anger directed at the administration stems from the federal government’s unprecedented intervention in the private sector during the financial crisis that began last fall.
According to Bloomberg, the Chinese responded by announcing their own investigation into "unfair subsidies" and dumping of U.S. poultry and automobiles in China. Hopefully, this trade dispute will remain limited in nature because, as the Bloomberg article notes, "[r]ising protectionism may hamper world trade and undermine the global economy’s recovery from recession."
Perhaps this would be a good time for President Obama to have a lesson or two in economics. To that end, I offer the economist and sometime actor Ben Stein, who explained in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, that the Great Depression did not really become "Great" until Congress passed the protectionist Hawley-Smoot (or Smoot-Hawley) Tariff Act, which increased tariffs on imports to the United States and led to a significant trade war in the late 1920s and early 30s:
Friday, September 11, 2009
Seriously, have they forgotten what happened on this day at that spot?
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Now, we can argue about whether or not our laws should allow illegal aliens to purchase health insurance coverage (hospitals have to provide them with medical care, so perhaps illegals should be allowed, and maybe encouraged, to purchase coverage). And we can also argue about whether Rep. Wilson breached the rules of civility with his comment. But what we can't argue about is the fact that President Obama lied when he said that illegals would not be allowed to purchase health insurance coverage if H.R. 3200 becomes law.
How can I make this comment? Because the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service (think of them as Congress's own, private, non-partisan think tank) has reviewed H.R. 3200 and issued a report entitled (appropriately enough): Treatment of Noncitizens in H.R. 3200. Here is what the CRS says on page 2 of this report:
H.R. 3200 includes an individual mandate to have health insurance, with tax penalties for noncompliance. Individuals who do not maintain acceptable health insurance coverage for themselves and their children would be required to pay an additional tax. Some individuals, including nonresident aliens, would be exempt from the individual mandate. “Nonresident alien” is a term under tax but not immigration law. For federal tax purposes, alien individuals are classified as resident or nonresident aliens. In general, an individual is a nonresident alien unless he or she meets the qualifications under a residency test. Thus, legal permanent residents, and
noncitizens and unauthorized aliens who qualify as resident aliens (i.e., meet the substantial presence test), would be required under H.R. 3200 to have health insurance.
In addition, under H.R. 3200, a “Health Insurance Exchange” would begin operation in 2013 and would offer private plans alongside a public option. The Exchange would provide eligible individuals and small businesses with access to insurers’ plans, including the public option, in a comparable way. Individuals would only be eligible to enroll in an Exchange plan if they were not enrolled in other acceptable coverage (for example, from an employer, Medicare and generally Medicaid). H.R. 3200 does not contain any restrictions on noncitzens participating in the Exchange—whether the noncitizens are legally or illegally present, or in the United States temporarily or permanently. Nonetheless, only aliens who could be classified as resident aliens would be required under the bill to have health insurance.
So, yeah, regardless of what you think about this as a policy matter or a breach of decorum, Rep. Wilson was right last night: President Obama is a liar. Hmm, perhaps I should reconsider my decision to give him the benefit of the doubt when he tells me he has no interest in a government take over of the health care industry.
Update 5 p.m., 9/11/09: Hmm, here is some additional proof that Rep. Wilson may have had a point the other night. Time reports that the Senate has moved to close a loophole in the proposed legislation that would allow illegal aliens to obtain health insurance coverage (emphasis added):
The controversy over Republican Representative Joe Wilson's shouting "You lie!"
at the President over his claim that illegal immigrants wouldn't benefit from health-care reform apparently sparked some reconsideration of the relevant language. "We really thought we'd resolved this question of people who are here illegally, but as we reflected on the President's speech last night, we wanted to go back and drill down again," said Senator Kent Conrad, one of the Democrats in the talks after a meeting Thursday morning. Later that afternoon, Baucus said the group would add a proof-of-citizenship requirement for participation in the new health exchange — a move likely to inflame the left.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
the man is an admitted Communist. But that's no big deal since I am pretty sure that Franklin Roosevelt had a couple of those in his administration as well.
Via Jack Trapper of ABC News:
A top environmental official of the Obama administration issued a statement Thursday apologizing for past incendiary statement and denying that he ever agreed with a 2004 petition on which his name appears, a petition calling for congressional
hearings and an investigation by the New York Attorney General into "evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur."
Van Jones, the Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, is Number 46 of the petitioners from the so-called "Truther" movement which suggests that people in the administration of President George W. Bush "may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war."
In a statement issued Thursday evening Jones said of "the petition that was circulated today, I do not agree with this statement and it certainly does not reflect my views now or ever."
He did not explain how his name came to be on the petition. A source said Jones did not carefully review the language in the petition before agreeing to add his name.
Oddly, I would have thought that one of the first items on the FBI's background questionnaire for getting a job at the White House would be: "items on the FBI background questionnaire for a job at the White House would be: "Have you ever been associated with the 9/11 Truther Movement? If yes, please explain your association in detail." Apparently, not.
Update: Two items. First, Jonah Goldberg notes at the Corner blog how implausible the highlighted sentence above is given the circles that Jones has run in over the last several years:
Now, Van Jones clearly speaks to lefty audiences all the time. He organizes the lefty rabble. Fueling resentments is his calling. He goes to lefty confabs and learn-ins, he's comfortable shaking hands and finding common cause with coffee house Maoists and has no doubt saluted the entire parade of horribles that perambulate the furthest fringes of the flaky Left.
Now, the idea that he didn't know what 911Truth.org was when he signed the petitition is remotely, faintly, ever-so-slightly plausible if one is willing to give the man a lifetime supply of benefit-of-the-doubt. The idea that he didn't learn the truth after years slogging through these swamps, talking to Truthers, getting invitations and emails from Truthers, is just the most high-octane balderdash currently on offer.
Second, Jim Hoft, the Gateway Pundit, notes on his blog that, yes, Jones is lying about his past support of the Truther Movement:
Update II: Jack Tapper at ABC News continues to ask questions about Van Jones and his involvement in the 9/11 Truther Movement:
This article at Rense.com from 2002 links Van Jones to the 9-11 Truther movement at its infancy...
It looks like the well-oiled Axelrodian machine in the White House forgot about Google when they released their statment.Bummer.
While an administration official told ABC News that controversial White House official Van Jones's signature on a 2004 petition suggesting that the Bush administration let 9/11 happen in order to justify war was because he did not carefully review the language in the petition, another link between Jones and the Truther movement has emerged.
This is becoming problematic for the Obama administration, which spent much time and energy belittling the fringe "Birther" movement of those alleging, despite myriad evidence, that President Obama was not born in the U.S.
Jones said in a statement yesterday that he did not agree with the 2004 Truther petition and it "does not reflect my views now or ever."
But in March 2002, a march in San Francisco was called to demand a congressional inquiry into 9/11. Jones was on the "organizing committee."
Stating that the 9/11"attacks are used to justify the bombing of Afghanistan, the administration is clearly more interested in controlling the oil resources of Central Asia than in 'ridding the world of terrorism or terrorists' which it has funded, trained, and used for decades through the C.I.A.," the marchers said they would "demand" answers to questions such as:
"What is the relationship between Bin Laden, his family and the Bush family and the Carlyle Group?
"Why were no fighter planes dispatched to intercept the four hijacked planes on September 11th, in violation of standard procedures?
"Who actually was in control of the 'hijacked planes'? …
"Did the CIA have foreknowledge of the attack, who tried to profit with put options on American, United, Merrill Lynch stock just before the attack?...
"What are Bush's and Cheney's connections to the drug industry?
"Why is the evidence being destroyed when an investigation of the World Trade Center collapse is needed?"
The White House had no immediate comment.
Supporting materials for the Truther questions, as provided by the committee, included articles such as "IF THE CIA AND THE GOVERNMENT WEREN'T INVOLVED IN THE SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACKS, WHAT WERE THEY DOING?"
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I received this email from President Obama's campaign/grassroots community organization, Organizing for America yesterday with the subject tag line "Power." And it is a dozy. The email actually claims that those who oppose Obamacare, er health insurance reform "have power:"
Opponents of health insurance reform have power. Some reap huge profits from the status quo. Others take large campaign contributions from those who profit.
So they'll do anything to keep the current system in place. When fact-based arguments don't work, they attack President Obama with outlandish lies about a government takeover and euthanizing the elderly. And once that doesn't work, they'll go even further.
We don't know what they'll do next. What we do know is that we'll have to be prepared for anything -- ready to set the record straight, ready to make sure the media and Congress see the overwhelming support for reform, and ready to pass real reform this year.
Hmm, that's odd. I thought it was President Obama and the Democrats who "have power." Apparently, controlling the Executive Branch and both houses of Congress just isn't what it used to be.
The other laugher in this email is the claim opponents of Obamacare "take large campaign contributions from those who profit" under the current health care system." Uh, pot, kettle; kettle, pot. I mean President Obama did reach a deal with large pharmaceutical companies that will limit the cost savings that the government can extract from them under Medicare's prescription drug program, and, oddly, those companies are now spending $150,000,000 on advertising in support of Obamacare. (To put that figure in perspective, it is more than Senator McCain spent on advertising in last year's presidential campaign).
Of course, the President's deal with Big Pharma looks more of a quid pro quo than a contribution, but I am not sure that makes it any better.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
In fact, surveying current politics, I find myself missing Richard Nixon.
No, I haven’t lost my mind. Nixon was surely the worst person other than Dick Cheney ever to control the executive branch (ed. -Uh, Cheney was the Vice President and so did not control the executive branch; minor point).
But the Nixon era was a time in which leading figures in both parties were capable of speaking rationally about policy, and in which policy decisions weren’t as warped by corporate cash as they are now. America is a better country in many ways than it was 35 years ago, but our political system’s ability to deal with real problems has been degraded to such an extent that I sometimes wonder whether the country is still governable.
As many people have pointed out, Nixon’s proposal for health care reform looks a lot like Democratic proposals today. In fact, in some ways it was stronger. Right now, Republicans are balking at the idea of requiring that large employers offer health insurance to their workers; Nixon proposed requiring that all employers, not just large companies, offer insurance.
Nixon also embraced tighter regulation of insurers, calling on states to “approve specific plans, oversee rates, ensure adequate disclosure, require an annual audit and take other appropriate measures.” No illusions there about how the magic of the marketplace solves all problems.
Okay, I realize that Krugman is a Nobel Prize winning economist, and I am not, but I have to respectfully disagree with any column built on the proposition that Nixon was a man with rational economic policies. After all, Nixon imposed price and wage controls in the early 1970s that wrecked havoc on the economy and helped lead to the very thing he wanted to avoid - stagflation.
Moreover, Krugman makes a strawman argument when he implies that Nixon, unlike today's health care opponents, had "[n]o illusions ... about how the magic of the marketplace solves all problems." I am not aware of anyone who believes that the free market "solves all problems." Problems will always arise in any marketplace given the limitations of human knowledge. But unlike policies imposed by law, a marketplace free from government interference can self-correct once problems are identified. If only those in Washington understood this simple principle.
I share the Founders’ vision of limited government and the ability of people to voluntarily join with others to help their communities and themselves. I don’t agree with the conservatives who want government to play the role of morals policemen, and I don’t agree with the nanny state liberals. I’m a libertarian.
Georgetown University Professor John Hasnas has this take on what it feels like to be a libertarian these days:
It feels bad. Being a libertarian means living with an almost unendurable level of frustration. It means being subject to unending scorn and derision despite being inevitably proven correct by events.
Imagine spending two decades warning that government policy is leading to a major economic collapse, and then, when the collapse comes, watching the world conclude that markets do not work.
Imagine continually explaining that markets function because they have a built in corrective mechanism; that periodic contractions are necessary to weed out unproductive ventures; that continually loosening credit to avoid such corrections just puts off the day of reckoning and inevitably leads to a larger recession; that this is precisely what the government did during the 1920's that led to the great depression; and then, when the recession hits, seeing it offered as proof of the failure of laissez-faire capitalism.
Yup. It often feels bad. But so what? It’s our job to fight for freedom.
I agree with Stossel's conclusion and also recommend that you read Professor Hasnas entire take. It is insightful and depressing, especially the conclusion:
If you’d like a taste of what it feels like to be a libertarian, try telling people that the incoming Obama Administration is advocating precisely those aspects of FDR’s New Deal that prolonged the great depression for a decade; that propping up failed and failing ventures with government money in order to save jobs in the present merely shifts resources from relatively more to relatively less productive uses, impedes the corrective process, undermines the economic growth necessary for recovery, and increases unemployment in the long term; and that any "economic" stimulus package will inexorably be made to serve political rather than economic ends, and see what kind of reaction you get. And trust me, it won’t feel any better five or ten years from now when everything you have just said has been proven true and Obama, like FDR, is nonetheless revered as the savior of the country.Given his declining poll numbers, I am hopeful that President Obama won't ultimately be revered as the savior of our country, but only time will tell.