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Friday, February 20, 2009

Ohhhhhohohoho puleeeese I hope he did him over good.

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Mention 'Sean Hannity' to Stanford Coins & Bullion and get a free guidebook.
Yup, that's Stanford as in Stanford Financial Group, or Allen Stanford, the Texas billionaire who is apparently on the lam after being charged Tuesday in connection with a multi-billion-dollar fraud.
"Stanford Coins & Bullion, a member of the Stanford Financial Group, their name as good as gold," Hannity intones on advertisements that regularly run on his radio show.
"I couldn't believe it when I heard the advertisement," said Michael Levine, a regular Hannity listener from Westchester County, New York.
He called the radio station on Tuesday to inform them Stanford had been implicated in what the SEC termed "massive, ongoing" fraud. "They told me they had no idea what I was talking about," Levine told the Huffington Post.
Hannity spokesman Hosea Belcher did not return a call for comment.
Stanford Coin & Bullion "is just a telemarketer boiler room-type of company that calls during dinner and tries to fleece you," said Jon Nadler, a senior analyst at gold firm Kitco.com.
The SEC charged Stanford, who is the first American to be knighted by the government of Antigua, for fraud Tuesday. The Texas native has spent millions in the Caribbean island, erecting sports facilities and other community facilities. He is charged with allegedly trying to bilk 50,000 clients out of $8 billion through a scheme involving high-interest-rate CDs.
The cricket fanatic--he founded the Stanford Super Series where Caribbean teams compete against the British for a $20 million purse--has allegedly been perpetrating the fraud for at least 13 years.
Stanford has also donated millions of dollars to politicians, and counts as friends several powerful Washington, D.C. powerbrokers, including Tom DeLay, Chris Dodd and Colin Powell. He also has an endorsement deal with golf superstar Vijay Singh. LinkHere

Jindal Turns Down $90 Million In Stimulus Funds For Unemployed

Jindal Rejects $90 Million In Recovery Funding That Would Have Benefited 25,000 Louisiana Residents»
When President Obama signed the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act last week, it included three different provisions to benefit unemployed workers. The first provided funding to states that allowed for a $25 per week increase in benefits. The second extended the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program which gives 20 weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits to individuals “who had already collected all regular state benefits,” while the third provision widened the pool of people eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
Today, however, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced his intention to oppose changing state law to allow his Lousiana citizens to qualify for the second two unemployment provisions. Jindal said the state would only be accepting money to increase the unemployment insurance payments for those who currently qualify for unemployment insurance.
In all, Jindal turned away nearly $100 million in federal aid for his state’s unemployed residents. Further, as the National Employment Law Project projected on Febuary 13, EUC extension alone would have benefited 24,981 Louisiana residents. Jindal justified his decision by claiming that expanding unemployment benefits would result in tax increases for businesses. In a press release, the governor’s office explained:
The Governor said the state will not use a portion of the stimulus package that requires the state to change its law to expand unemployment insurance (UI) coverage to qualify for up to $32.8 million of the federal stimulus funding because it ultimately would result in a tax increase on Louisiana businesses.
But it is not clear why participating in the expanded unemployment insurance program would result in tax increases for business. By Jindal’s own estimate, the recovery package would have funded his state’s unemployment expansion for three years, at which point the state could — if it chose to do so — phase out the program.
As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin suggested earlier today, perhaps Jindal’s presidential ambitions are “clouding” his judgement. “I think he’s been tapped as the up-and-coming Republican to petition a run for president the next time it goes around. So he has a certain vernacular, and a certain way he needs to talk right now,” Nagin said.

Obama To Mayors: Don't Screw Up The Stimulus

Sounding, at times, like a school teacher lecturing a classroom of mischievous students, President Barack Obama warned a gathering of mayors on Friday that the stimulus money they received better be spent wisely, transparently and without political motives."There is an unprecedented responsibility and accountability on all our parts," said Obama. "The American people are watching. They need this plan to work. They expect to see the money that they've earned... I want to be clear about this: we cannot tolerate business was usual. We will use the new tools that the recovery act gives us to watch the taxpayer's money with more rigor and transparency than ever... If a federal agency proposes a project that wastes that money, I will not hesitate to call them out on it and put a stop to it. I want everybody here to be on notice that if a local government does the same, I will call them out on it."
There was a scolding tone to the speech. And implicit in it was the notion that local governments have failed in this task in the past.
In addition, Obama seems cognizant of the future traps and binds that the stimulus represents. For better or worse his administration owns the economic recovery package. So while each job saved or created can be chalked up as a political success, so too will each report of corruption, misappropriation, or the lining of pockets with federal largesse be treated as an indictment of the president's big-money proposal.
We have, Obama concluded on Friday, an "unprecedented obligations to spend that money wisely. Free from politics, free from personal agenda." LinkHere

Gibbs V. Santelli: He Should Read President's Plan (VIDEO)

Rick Santelli, the CNBC reporter who went into a certifiable rant against the Obama housing plan Thursday, found himself in the White House bullseye 24-hours later: the object of scorn and humorous derision from the president's press secretary Robert Gibbs.
"I'm not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives or in what house he lives in," Gibbs said during the daily briefing. "But the American people are struggling every day to meet their mortgage, stay in their jobs, pay their bills to send their kids to school, and to hope that they don't get sick or somebody they care for gets sick that sends them into bankruptcy. I think we left a few months ago the adage that if it was good for a derivatives trader, that it was good for main street. I think the verdict is in on that."
Ouch. But from there it got almost more personal. Gibbs picked up a hard copy of the housing plan from the briefing room lectern and implored Santelli to "download it, hit print and begin to read it." Gibbs added: "I would be more than happy to have him come here and read it. I'd be happy to buy him a cup of coffee, decaf." The press in the room laughed.

LinkHere

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Political Author, Blogger, and New Media Producer
I'm calling upon Sean Hannity to use his prime time television program as a platform to rally Republican politicians, cable news hacks and citizens alike to refuse delivery of not just recovery bill spending, but all so-called "socialist" government programs. Send it all back. End American socialism now! But if the money somehow gets through Hannity's blockade and steams its way to socialist Republican governors like Charlie Crist and Arnold Schwarzenegger (embracing "economic girly man" status), and if those jobs are created anyway, Sean Hannity ought to heroically command his viewers in these states to not accept those jobs. They're socialist jobs, after all

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Media Covers Raw Politics, Not the Policies of Recovery Package

It seems oddly fitting that on the day that President Barack Obama is set to sign his economic stimulus package into law, that the press is mainly obsessed with the fact that he's doing so in Denver, Colorado. What does It All Mean? What statement does it make about Magical, Wonderful Bipartisanship? What can be divined by Obama's decision to Avoid Washington? Pure window-treatment stuff. But what can you expect? The media have come to the end of a month of politicking over the economic stimulus and, from what I gather, have managed to mostly unlearn as much as they could about the principles upon which the proposed plan is based.
If you were a member of the public who wanted cogent answers to questions such as, "How will infrastructure stimulate the economy?" or "Can targeted tax cuts add value to the package?" or "What type of spending translates into the fastest job growth?" -- you know, the nuts and bolts of a set of ideas that voters are asked to take on faith -- you were basically out-of-luck. Instead, the press was filled with daily news of the soap opera over bipartisanship. Can any idea really be a good idea if eighty people won't vote for it? If the overall package gets less effective on the road to consensus, will the economy hand out extra credit points, because of the fantastic procedural accomplishment? These were the inane obsessions of the professional political media.
And here is a nice litany of their accomplishments: LinkHere


President Obama's stimulus plan may be met with dismay by conservatives such as Sean Hannity, but it has clearly stimulated a flourishing of creativity among his Fox News video team. Opening his show tonight was a 2-minute video montage, set to the ominous sounds of "O Fortuna" from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana (you'll know it when you hear it), that painted the passing of the stimulus bill as a practically apocalyptic event.
The clip splices together scenes of GOP leaders denouncing the push to pass the stimulus spending (such as John Boehner's theatrics before the House last Friday) while Democrats aggressively argue for their agenda. The piece ends with an undeniably cheesy graphic showing a recent edition of Newsweek--the one with the headline declaring "We Are All Socialist Now"--rising up from the ocean to tower above the Statue of Liberty and the Lincoln Memorial.
Watch it in all its operatic glory.


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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Victoria fires photograph of Sam the Koala raises $300,000 for Country Fire Authority

More than 15,000 copies of photo sold
SAM the koala has not only brought a smile to people's faces after the Victoria fires, but she has raised $300,000 for firefighters. News Limited has sold more than 15,000 copies of the famous photograph of CFA volunteer David Tree giving Sam a drink.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

By Patrick Cockburn in northern IraqThe exact sum missing may never be clear, but a report by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) suggests it may exceed $50bn, making it an even bigger theft than Bernard Madoff's notorious Ponzi scheme.
Continue
Obama Picture Taken Down From US Air Force Base
President Barack Obama's picture was removed this week from a Presidents Day sign at the Peterson Air Force Base commissary after customers complained that the image did not fit the holiday commemorating the birthdays of past presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
The head of the local NAACP and a commissary employee say it was blatant racism.
Read the whole story here.

Advisers: Obama to use sales skills

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama plans to travel and campaign more to pressure Republicans in Congress rather than trying to win their loyalty, sources say.
Now that a mammoth, $787 billion economic stimulus bill has been approved virtually without Republican support, White House advisers have determined that Capitol Hill horse-trading with GOP opponents wasn't successful and that Obama should instead tap his immense popularity and public salesmanship skills to push legislation in the future, the Washington publication Politico reported Saturday.
"We've got to get him out of that White House," a unnamed top White House adviser said, listing "some very valuable lessons" learned from the stimulus fight. "He's happier, he's better, he's more effective. The inside game is important, but it's actually not where the success of his presidency is going to come."
Obama plans to use the tactic in upcoming pushes to pass New Deal-style plans to rescue struggling homeowners and rewrite regulations on the financial markets, plus a budget proposal that lays the groundwork for sweeping healthcare reform, Politico said.
LinkHere

Sunday, February 15, 2009

THEY STILL DON'T GET IT

The author is a very "with-it" old lady who aspires to bring a bit of truth, justice, and commom sense to a nation that has lost touch with its humanity in the search for societal "perfection".
Just three weeks after Barack Obama was sworn in as our new president, we are barraged with complaints because he has not yet wiped out all the vestiges of the Bush administration from the environs of Washington, D.C. We are daily confronted by newspaper items, editorials, and blogs telling us of his shortcomings and failure to correct all the bad Department of Justice decisions, all the illicit Executive Orders, the no-bid contractors, to withdraw all the troops from Iraq, and to restore our country to a state of peace. And yet, the polls show an unprecedented approval by the people!
This is, above all, a man who is measured and prudent in his thinking and has established his priorities for action. He has chosen first to put right our economic state -- no insignificant or simple task. Believing in our tripartite system of government, he allowed the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives to write the necessary legislation, to offer it for a vote, and send it to the Senate where it was amended, passed, and sent to Conference. It moved through the process in record time and is within his recommendations as to the amount of money involved.
This is the way it should be done, people! Are we all so accustomed to the Bush system of change that we expect the President to issue an order and both parties match in lockstep to issue a blank check as they did in his request for authority to "handle" the aftermath of September 11, 2001? Now, that really worked, didn't it?
In the meantime, behind the scenes, there is a small army of people working feverishly; going through records and issuing subpoenas to those who are lacking; compiling data, uncovering facts, and putting information into presentation form that will be given his attention in the order of his pre-determined order of priorities. Buried in those piles of papers are things of which we, the people, have known nothing and we can expect to find several surprises there which President Obama will deal with as they arrive.

Iraq vet: We're losing 'more soldiers to suicide than to al Qaeda'

The Army's suicide rate is the highest it has been in three decades, and a week-long series of articles at Salon.com has been highlighting what it calls "habitual mistreatment behind the preventable deaths."Paul Rieckhoff, the founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Thursday, "In January, we lost approximately 24 soldiers in the Army to suicide. That's more folks than we lost in combat. ... We lost more soldiers to suicide than to al Qaeda." "If we lost that many soldiers to an enemy weapon system, the entire country would be outraged," Rieckhoff continued. "The Pentagon would be scrambling to do something about it. We need the same level of urgency around these suicides."Rieckhoff's group has been lobbying Congress this week to do more for veterans needs. "We took dozens of veterans from around the country," he told Maddow proudly. "We met with over a hundred lawmakers, we held two press events. ... We highlighted ... the need for mandatory mental health counseling and we called for advance funding of the VA."

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WASHINGTON — Barack Obama without a basketball?
His press secretary says there are very few days he doesn't see the commander in chief either handling or dribbling a basketball at some point.
Spokesman Robert Gibbs says playing ball helps Obama get exercise and relieve stress. Gibbs says that when Obama plays, he can think about something different _ even if only for a short time.
Basketball has been a part of Obama's life since he was a kid growing up in Hawaii. A big part of life even today, as Gibbs sees it.
Gibbs spoke on CNN's "State of the Union."
On CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, host John King sits down with basketball greats Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Chris Paul to analyze the president's b-ball skills.
Watch a preview of the segment:

They Sure Showed That Obama

AM I crazy, or wasn’t the Obama presidency pronounced dead just days ago? Obama had “all but lost control of the agenda in Washington,” declared Newsweek on Feb. 4 as it wondered whether he might even get a stimulus package through Congress. “Obama Losing Stimulus Message War” was the headline at Politico a day later. At the mostly liberal MSNBC, the morning host, Joe Scarborough, started preparing the final rites. Obama couldn’t possibly eke out a victory because the stimulus package was “a steaming pile of garbage.”
Less than a month into Obama’s term, we don’t (and can’t) know how he’ll fare as president. The compromised stimulus package, while hardly garbage, may well be inadequate. Timothy Geithner’s uninspiring and opaque stab at a bank rescue is at best a place holder and at worst a rearrangement of the deck chairs on the TARP-Titanic, where he served as Hank Paulson’s first mate.
But we do know this much. Just as in the presidential campaign, Obama has once again outwitted the punditocracy and the opposition. The same crowd that said he was a wimpy hope-monger who could never beat Hillary or get white votes was played for fools again.
On Wednesday, as a stimulus deal became a certainty on Capitol Hill, I asked David Axelrod for his take on this Groundhog Day relationship between Obama and the political culture.
“It’s why our campaign was not based in Washington but in Chicago,” he said. “We were somewhat insulated from the echo chamber. In the summer of ’07, the conventional wisdom was that Obama was a shooting star; his campaign was irretrievably lost; it was a ludicrous strategy to focus on Iowa; and we were falling further and further behind in the national polls.” But even after the Iowa victory, this same syndrome kept repeating itself. When Obama came out against the gas-tax holiday supported by both McCain and Clinton last spring, Axelrod recalled, “everyone in D.C. thought we were committing suicide.”
The stimulus battle was more of the same. “This town talks to itself and whips itself into a frenzy with its own theories that are completely at odds with what the rest of America is thinking,” he says. Once the frenzy got going, it didn’t matter that most polls showed support for Obama and his economic package: “If you watched cable TV, you’d see our support was plummeting, we were in trouble. It was almost like living in a parallel universe.”
For Axelrod, the moral is “not just that Washington is too insular but that the American people are a lot smarter than people in Washington think.”
Here’s a third moral: Overdosing on this culture can be fatal. Because Republicans are isolated in that parallel universe and believe all the noise in its echo chamber, they are now as out of touch with reality as the “inevitable” Clinton campaign was before it got clobbered in Iowa. The G.O.P. doesn’t recognize that it emerged from the stimulus battle even worse off than when it started. That obliviousness gives the president the opening to win more ambitious policy victories than last week’s. Having checked the box on attempted bipartisanship, Obama can now move in for the kill.
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Republicans will also be judged by the voters. If they want to obstruct and filibuster while the economy is in free fall, the president should call their bluff and let them go at it. In the first four years after F.D.R. took over from Hoover, the already decimated ranks of Republicans in Congress fell from 36 to 16 in the Senate and from 117 to 88 in the House. The G.O.P. is so insistent that the New Deal was a mirage it may well have convinced itself that its own sorry record back then didn’t happen either.

I mean, pot meet kettle."

Dems Fed Up With McCain: "Angry Old Defeated Candidate"
Democrats are growing increasingly frustrated with the brash political attacks Sen. John McCain has launched against Barack Obama in the weeks since the new president took office. No one expected the Arizona Republican to be a legislative ally for this administration. But it was widely assumed that Obama's overtures to McCain in the weeks after the election would dull some of the hard feelings between the two. Now, they are realizing, it has not.
"He is bitter and really angry," Bob Shrum said of McCain in an interview on Friday. "He is angry at the press, which he thinks is unfair. He is angry at Obama and angry at the voters. He has gone from being an angry old candidate to being an angry old defeated candidate."
Indeed, during the debate over the economic stimulus package it was McCain, as often as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who spearheaded the opposition. The Arizona Republican denounced the proposal as pure pork on the Senate floor and introduced an alternative measure compromised nearly entirely of tax cuts.
On Sunday, McCain wouldn't let the fight die, even with the legislation through Congress. Appearing on CNN, he described the $787 billion measure as "generational theft" and said that the bill's authors should "start over now and sit down together."

"You know, I am an eternal optimist. That doesn't mean I'm a sap."

Obama On Republicans: 'I'm An Optimist, Not A Sap'
In an interview with columnists aboard Air Force One, President Obama talked about what he learned from the stimulus battle. Pronouncing himself impressed with his team for moving the legislation through Congress so quickly, he said the plan wasn't everything he wanted but was still a "very good start on moving things forward."
As for his experience with congressional Republicans, the president said, "I made every effort to reach out to Republicans early to get their input and to get their buy-in. I think that there were some senators and House members who have a sincere philosophical difference with the idea of any government role in boosting demand in the economy. They don't believe in [John Maynard] Keynes and they're still fighting FDR ... I think we can disagree without being disagreeable on that front."
He added that the GOP also made a "political and tactical" decision to oppose the stimulus as a way to rally their base. "Whether that's a smart strategy, I think you should ask them." He said that it was his impression that the House Republicans decided to vote party-line against the bill before he met with them. "I'm not sure that there was a whole host of things that we were going to do that was going to make a difference." (Republicans dispute that interpretation, claiming they were open to the stimulus when they met with Obama.)
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said recently that Obama lost control of the stimulus debate by focusing too much on bipartisanship.
Asked if he would be so willing to reach out to Republicans in the future, the president responded, "You know, I am an eternal optimist. That doesn't mean I'm a sap."
Looking more forward, the president also outlined his priorities for the rest of the year:
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