My name is Patrick M McCormick and I have created this blog as a platform for my political views as well as those of select contributors.

I believe that American Politicians have lost sight of their goal: To uphold the Constitution and protect the rights of the people of the United States. They argue and bicker on the floor of their respective houses, positioning themselves for the next election, while they accomplish very little business for the citizens of this country.

Meanwhile our economy is sliding downward. Millions of our precious jobs have have been exported overseas. Our social safety net and other public services are being cut. Our middle class is rapidly disappearing and the numbers of citizens existing below the poverty line is increasing dramatically.

I plan to examine the causes of these terrible changes to our American way of life. Your comments will help us all arrive at some important conclusions.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Is Big Brother is Hiding in Your Trash Bin?

Remember when recycling was voluntary... it was too good to last. Don't get me wrong, I am in favor of recycling everything we use. It's just that millions of people are out of work and many millions more are earning less than they used to; a lot less.

Government workers are paid out of tax revenue. When tax revenue goes down, pressure is on governments to take a pay cut, cut hours or let some people go. Oh no! They intend to maintain the lifestyle they have become accustomed to. Instead of making cuts somewhere, they are getting creative; increasing fees, increasing fines and in the case of Cleveland... inventing new fines.

It seems to me that squeezing revenue out of struggling citizens in hard times is not serving their needs. It is preying upon them. When government officials and employees behave like this, they are not servants of the people. They are self-serving, greedy tyrants that need to be voted out of office.

Look out America, this is heading your way. Read it and weep.

Intelligent Trash Bins To Enforce Recycling
August 24, 2010

The city of Cleveland is implementing a waste-conscious initiative to enforce recycling efforts. 25,000 households per year will be provided with intelligent recycling bins equipped with sensors that passively detect how frequently residents bring recycling to the curb – until all 150,000 homes are covered. Households are fined if they fail to bring their recycling out frequently, and are found to have more than 10% recyclable material in their regular trash.
Similar programs have been launched in England that measure the amount of waste thrown out, fining households for excess waste.
City of Cleveland

Are We Engaged in an Ideological War With Ourselves?

“Shock Jock” personalities like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have gained very large followings preaching negative messages to their followers. They claim they have all the answers. Are they the new American Prophets or our new Fuhrers?

The sad fact is they are dealing in hatred and fear and might as well be dealing drugs or guns. The damage done to our society by their actions is incalculable. Our country, The United States of America was created on great principles like, "We, the people", "All men are created equal", “United We Stand”,” Liberty and Justice for All” and the “Bill of Rights”. These words are not found in their battle cries.

The use of hatred and fear serves only to drive wedges between US. By creating disharmony, these media personalities hope to gain some political or financial advantage for themselves and their sponsors. Their tactics follow social experiments conducted by Adolph Hitler and Saddam Hussein, to name a few. In difficult economic times, these tactics always find some support among the disenfranchised. Historically, the followers of these self-proclaimed prophets seldom benefit themselves and are discarded when no longer needed. Remember Hitler’s Brown Shirts.

Before anyone repeats their messages or follows one of these personalities blindly, ask yourself these questions, “What do I have to gain, personally, from this. Then ask, “How will my actions benefit my country and my neighbors”. Will my actions make America stronger, or weaker? Your answers are important, to you and me and our nation.

Think about it.

Should We Ditch the 14th Amendment?

I read an article by Roland S. Martin, CNN Contributor. He wrote, “Republicans such as Sens. Lindsey Graham, John Kyl and John Cornyn are tripping over themselves to jump on the latest "Dumb Way to Solve the Illegal Immigration Problem" by suggesting Congress examine repealing the 14th Amendment, which deals with one way of becoming a U.S. citizen.

The far right has latched onto the idea that the provision in question -- which grants citizenship to children born in the U.S. -- is being abused by illegal immigrants who choose to come to America to have their children, thus worsening the illegal immigration problem.”

Although Mr. Martin was negative, I was appalled. My opinion of the matter is this;

It is not the 14th amendment that is at fault. Most American citizens today are the descendants of foreign immigrants. Many of their grandparents never became citizens, but their children became citizens at birth because of the 14th Amendment. The system has worked well for more than a century.

We have laws in place to deal with illegal immigrants. What we need to do is enforce our current laws, protect our boarders and institute an intelligent Guest Worker Program. That would provide the temporary labor force that many of our businesses rely on, as well as eliminate most of the criminals and terrorists that everyone fears. It would also deter the pregnant illegal’s that sneak under our fences in order to have their children here.

Hard working individuals that wish to migrate to the United from any location, and do so legally, will establish families here; that is human nature. Children of those families will become citizens under the 14th Amendment, just like the rest of US. It is not the American way to single out one group of people and legislate against them.

The entire world has recognized America as the Great Melting Pot for decades. That ethnic diversity has made US a strong and resilient nation. Do we really want to change a law that has worked so well in the past, when there is no sound moral reason to do so.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Is That All There Is to "The Plan" God Save US

August 28, 2010
Rubio: Republican alternative not 'all that complicated'
Posted: August 28th, 2010 09:15 AM ET

From CNN's Jeff Simon

(CNN) –- Marco Rubio, the Republican candidate for Senate in Florida, said in this week’s Republican address that his party’s alternative to President Obama’s economic policies “really isn’t all that complicated.”

The address features a somber Rubio discussing the issue most on the minds of voters — the economy.

Rubio outlined the three pillars of the GOP’s economic plan: Extend the tax cuts that have been in place since 2001 and 2003, shut down the stimulus program and use the remaining funds to reduce the federal debt and repeal the health care bill passed by congressional Democrats and signed by President Obama in March.

Rubio is locked in a three-way race with Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek and Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running as an independent candidate. The three are vying to fill the seat of Sen. George LeMieux, who was appointed by Crist when former Sen. Mel Martinez stepped down last August.

Underlying Rubio’s address is a personal story about his parents and a message about the nation’s children.

The former Florida House Speaker says that he knows “firsthand that it is possible to lose your country because my parents lost theirs.”

Rubio’s parents emigrated from Cuba to the United States before he was born.

“If we stay on the road Washington has us on right now, we will lose our exceptionalism and our country will become no different than any other country in the world,” Rubio says.

“But if we embrace free enterprise, if we accept spending discipline, well then America’s future will be brighter than her history. And we will secure for our children what they deserve to inherit: The greatest nation in all of human history,” he added.

Filed under: Marco Rubio • Republican Party

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hide Your Women and Children... The F-Bombs are Coming

Government appeals ruling on FCC indecency rule

AP Technology Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal regulators are appealing a recent court decision that struck down a 2004 government policy that says broadcasters can be fined for allowing even a single curse word on live television.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York threw out the Federal Communications Commission policy last month, saying it was unconstitutionally vague and left broadcasters uncertain of what programming the agency will find offensive.

The FCC and the Justice Department asked the court Thursday to reconsider that decision, warning that the ruling appears to invalidate the FCC's entire approach to regulating indecency over the airwaves. In a statement, FCC General Counsel Austin Schlick said the ruling raises "serious concerns about the commission's ability to protect children and families from indecent broadcast programming."

The FCC wants the three-judge panel or the full court to reconsider the decision.

The commission has stepped up broadcast indecency enforcement in recent years _ issuing record fines for violations _ spurred in part by widespread public outrage following Janet Jackson's breast-baring performance during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

The agency also put its so-called "fleeting expletive" policy in place in 2004 after U2 lead singer Bono uttered the phrase "f------ brilliant" during a January 2003 NBC broadcast of the Golden Globes awards show. The FCC said the F-word in any context "inherently has a sexual connotation" and can lead to sanctions.

The Fox television network, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., and other broadcasters challenged the policy in 2006 after the FCC said a number of television broadcasts from 2002 to 2005 had violated the rules. Those included a December 2002 broadcast of the Billboard Music Awards in which singer Cher used the phrase "F--- 'em," and a December 2003 Billboard awards show in which reality show star Nicole Richie said, "Have you ever tried to get cow s--- out of a Prada purse? It's not so f------simple."

In its ruling last month, the 2nd Circuit panel said the FCC policy inhibits speech by forcing broadcasters to "choose between not airing or censoring controversial programs and risking massive fines or possibly even loss of their licenses."

The ruling came after the Supreme Court last year upheld the FCC policy on procedural grounds and returned it to the 2nd Circuit for consideration of constitutional arguments. The case is widely expected to go back to the Supreme Court.

In their filing on Thursday, the FCC and Justice Department said the 2nd Circuit decision is at odds with the landmark 1978 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the FCC's reprimand of a New York radio station for airing George Carlin "Filthy Words" monologue, containing a 12-minute string of expletives, in the middle of the afternoon.

The Parents Television Council, a group that supports strong broadcast-indecency rules, praised the FCC's decision to appeal.

"The importance of the broadcast-decency law has become abundantly apparent as the broadcast networks demonstrate their desire to push ever-more graphic content at all times of the day," Tim Winter, the group's president, said in a statement. "The airwaves have become a battleground for networks to out-cuss, out-sex and out-gore each other; and sadly it is children and families who are in the crossfire."

Both Fox and the National Association of Broadcasters had no comment.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Samonella, the Egg and the Trickle Down Theory

The many sins of deregulation

By Harold Meyerson
Thursday, August 26, 2010

Who's afraid of a little egg? Of late, anyone who eats them, at least since the announcement of massive recalls of the salmonella-tainted spheroids.

The deregulated chickens have come home to roost. The Food and Drug Administration, the New York Times reported Wednesday, considered mandating the vaccination of chickens with bacterial shots -- and decided against it. Instead, the vaccinations are merely recommended. In Britain, where such vaccinations have been required for egg vendors who wish to put an industry-standard label on their eggs, the incidence of salmonella in eggs has dropped 96 percent.

A diagram of our egg-safety bureaucracies could be presented as an illustration of the old question of whether the chicken or the egg comes first. The Agriculture Department oversees chickens and grades eggs for their quality. The FDA is responsible for the safety of eggs in their shells. The FDA inspects egg farms after an outbreak of egg-borne disease has been detected -- not before.

Nor is this mish-mash confined to eggs. Responsibility for food safety in general is divided, often along lines as arbitrary as those that segment the eggs, between the FDA and the USDA. And the faith in deregulation still lingers, if the FDA's reluctance to require the vaccinations is any evidence. The FDA, for example, can't mandate a recall of diseased food; it can do no more than try to persuade the responsible company to recall the product on its own.

A new food-safety bill, which would give the FDA the power of mandatory recall and would otherwise strengthen food-safety regulation, has passed the House but is stalled in the Senate. (My laptop, after I've written the words "has passed the House but," automatically slots in the words "has stalled in the Senate.")

Meanwhile, moving from land to sea, The Post's Juliet Eilperin and Scott Higham have laid out the dismal history of the late and unlamented Minerals Management Service (MMS), the Interior Department agency charged -- absurdly -- with both the promotion and regulation of mining and oil drilling. The agency was the creation of Ronald Reagan's zealously anti-environmental interior secretary, James Watt, who structured it to lease public lands to oil and mining companies and regulate them as well -- which meant, of course, not very well at all.

So great was pressure to deregulate business that under the Clinton administration, the MMS embraced "performance-based regulation," by which the companies themselves largely set the standards they would labor under. Today, Eilperin and Higham report, Clinton Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt laments that shift. There should be "no place for performance-based regulation," Babbitt told them, "because of the high risk."

But the deregulatory sins of the Clinton administration were as nothing next to those of its successor. George W. Bush established the National Energy Policy Development Group, chaired by Dick Cheney, who convened a series of private meetings with energy company CEOs. The panel recommended, among other things, the expansion of deepwater drilling -- a recommendation the president embraced, with consequences that have been plain for all to see since the great gulf blowout.

Are we keeping count? That's inadequate regulation of food, energy -- did I mention banks? And yet, if we listen to Republican legislators, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and kindred souls, we hear that America suffers from too much regulation and is not sensitive enough to the concerns of business.

Indeed, these are precisely the arguments invoked by those who oppose the nomination of Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The problem with Warren, some argue, is that in her advocacy for consumers, she will not be sufficiently solicitous of the banking industry. She needs to also be concerned with ensuring the banks' profit margins, we're told -- just as the MMS was concerned with the well-being of the oil industry, and as the food-safety bureaucracy has at times looked out for agribusiness revenue while scanting its own mandate.

The purpose of regulation, of course, is to protect the public. If the Republicans and the chamber don't like that, they can suck a deregulated egg.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Slimy Green Giant... A Protected Species !

A Gulf Science Blackout
Published: August 24, 2010

THE Deepwater Horizon blowout may be capped and the surface oil slick dispersed, but the scientists’ job has just begun: hundreds of us are working in and around the gulf to determine the long-term environmental impact of the drilling disaster.

Although we are all doing needed research, we’re not receiving equal money or access to the affected sites. Those working for BP or the federal government’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment program are being given the bulk of the resources, while independent researchers are shoved aside.

The problem is that researchers for BP and the government are being kept quiet, and their data is unavailable to the rest of the community. When damages to the gulf are assessed in court or Congress, there might not be enough objective data to make a fair judgment.

Transparency is vital to successful science: researchers must subject their proposals to the scrutiny of colleagues, and publications require peer review. When it comes to field research, scientists need equal access to the same sites to test competing hypotheses.

But BP, which controls access to the Deepwater Horizon site and vast stretches of the water around it, seems unconcerned about those principles. Some suspect that the oil company is focusing its research on gathering material to support its legal case; we can’t know for sure, though, because researchers who get money from BP must sign strict three-year confidentiality agreements. In any case, whatever research comes out of BP’s efforts will be tainted by secrecy.

The damage-assessment process isn’t much more accessible. It has amassed enormous amounts of data but offered only vague promises to make it public, and it likewise requires confidentiality agreements from the researchers it finances. This research will probably be used against BP in court; chances are, then, that it will not be subject to outside scrutiny out of fear that a weakness in the government’s case could be exposed.

Independent researchers like me and my team — we study the effect of things like oil and dispersants on insects — have had to rely on the meager discretionary funds provided by our university departments, particularly in the early weeks of the disaster. And, as the weeks have rolled into months, we have found ourselves blocked from a widening list of sites, all of which are integral to completing our investigations.

True, the National Science Foundation has a rapid-response grant program that has been a lifeline to independent researchers, dispersing more than $14 million to 90 short-term research projects associated with the disaster. My team submitted a proposal that was quickly peer-reviewed and approved, allowing us to continue our research. But given the unprecedented nature of the disaster, that’s not nearly enough money.

Instead, we need a unified national research plan administered by the National Science Foundation. It would place a priority on coordinated, independent research, with a finance stream unconnected to BP or the damage-assessment process. Proposals would be peer-reviewed and methods vetted, and all results would be available for public scrutiny.

Moreover, the federal government should require that all credentialed scientists have access to the affected sites. Without such a commitment to independent financing and equal access, the legal process and the rehabilitation of the gulf will be seriously undermined.

Linda Hooper-Bui is a professor of entomology at Louisiana State University.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Our Leaders Fiddle While the Republic Burns

The war of words on the economy escalated today as Vice President Joe Biden dueled with House Minority Leader John Boehner, who earlier today called for the resignation of President Obama's economic team.

It's "very constructive advice and we thank the leader for that," Biden said sarcastically to muted laughter. "For eight years before we arrived in the West Wing, Mr. Boehner and his party ran economy and the middle class literally into the ground."

"Mr. Boehner is nostalgic for those good old days, but the American people are not. They don't want to go back. They want to move forward, and so folks, I'm still waiting for what it is that they are for," Biden said today in a speech to give an update on the Economic Recovery Act.

Speaking in Cleveland earlier today, Boehner berated the "president's job-killing agenda," and called on him to veto an energy bill, the controversial "card check" legislation -- a union-favored bill that Obama has vowed to fight for -- and support the repeal of the health care bill that was signed into law in March.

House Republican attempts at repealing the health care law have been largely unsuccessful.

"This spring, when power changed hands in Britain -- another country racked by red ink -- one Treasury minister left a note for his successor and the note said, 'I am afraid to tell you there is no money left,'" Boehner said. "Well, I am not afraid to tell you there is no money left, we're broke!"

The Ohio Republican pointed to the resignation of Christina Romer as chair of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, who announced her decision to step down shortly after Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, resigned.

"We have been told that the president's economic team is 'exhausted' -- already, his budget director and his chief economist have moved on or are about to. Clearly, they see the writing on the wall, and the president should too," Boehner said. "President Obama should ask for -- and accept -- the resignations of the remaining members of his economic team, starting with Secretary Geithner and Larry Summers, the head of the National Economic Council."

Seizing on the large budget deficit accumulated during the Bush administration, Biden today accused Boehner of returning to the policies that led to the crisis "from which we are still digging out."

"They gave free rein to special interests to write their own rules at the expense of everyone else, not just the middle class," Biden said.

The top Republican in the House earlier blasted the Obama administration for raising taxes on small businesses and Americans, a charge that Biden denied. Instead, he pointed the finger at Republicans for wanting to extend tax cuts to "Wall Street" and not the "Main Street."

"We've seen this movie before," the vice president said. "And we know how it ends. The American people deserve something different and something better."

The war of words come as a new Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday shows that Americans are increasingly concerned about jobs and the economy, but want tax cuts extended.

Forty-nine percent of those polled said they wanted to see the Bush tax cuts extended for all Americans, while 31 percent said they should expire for people whose salary is above $200,000. More than half thought that reducing the budget deficit was a bigger priority than lowering taxes.

Seventy-two percent of people polled said they were very worried about unemployment and 67 percent said they were very concerned about government spending, the Reuters/Ipsos poll found. Only 45 percent approved of the president's performance, according to the poll and his disapproval rating jumped to 52 percent. The president's approval rating was less than 50 percent in August.

Rookie Road Builders Cause Nine-Day Traffic Jam That Panics Beijing

Nine-day traffic jam stretches over 100km

From: NewsCore
August 23, 2010 6:35PM

MAINTENANCE work, wrecks and broken down cars caused a nine-day traffic jam in China that stretched for more than 100 kilometers, Chinese daily newspaper The Global Times reported.

The traffic jam, on the Beijing-Tibet Expressway between Beijing and Huai'an, began on August 14 when thousands of Beijing-bound coal and fruit trucks jammed the roadway.

A major cause of the congestion was maintenance work on the nearby National Expressway 110, which had suffered damage from heavy vehicles.

The roadworks work forced drivers to use the Beijing-Tibet Expressway instead.

Coupled with several minor accidents and broken down cars, traffic has now been stranded on the expressway for the past nine days.

The traffic jam is expected to last for almost a month with maintenance work on the National Expressway 110 not due to be finished until September 13.

Drivers were reportedly playing cards to kill time on the roadway.

Residents who live along the roadway were reportedly profiting from the traffic jam, selling food to stranded drivers at inflated prices.

"Instant noodles are sold at four times the original price while I wait in the congestion," one driver told the Global Times. "Not only has the congestion annoyed me, but also those vendors."

Others joked that concerts should be held along the roadway to keep drivers entertained.

About 400 traffic police are on duty by the roadway to maintain law and order.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Incredible Inedible Egg

As egg producers consolidate, problems of just one producer can be far-reaching

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The largest egg recall in U.S. history comes at a point of great consolidation in the egg industry, when a shrinking number of companies produce most of the eggs found on grocery shelves and a defect in one operation can jeopardize a significant segment of the marketplace.

Just 192 large egg companies own about 95 percent of laying hens in this country, down from 2,500 in 1987, according to United Egg Producers, an industry group. Most of those producers are concentrated in five states: Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and California.

"I don't think people have any idea when they see all these brand names in the stores that so many are coming from the same place," said Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch, a food safety organization. "It raises the stakes -- if one company is doing something wrong, it affects a lot of food."

That magnified effect is illustrated by the current recall: Just two Iowa producers, Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, have been implicated in a nationwide outbreak of Salmonella enteritis, with the companies recalling 500 million eggs sold under 24 brands. "The size of this thing is kind of amazing," Lovera said.

The complexity of the distribution chain means additional recalls are likely as investigators wade through invoices and try to piece together where the affected eggs have ended up.

"A few large manufacturers send product to wholesalers and distributors who repackage and sell it under other brand names," said Jeff Farrar, the FDA's associate commissioner for food protection, who said it can take days or weeks to figure out where tainted food has been sold. "Wright County Egg would sell large volumes of eggs to their customers, some of whom would package these eggs under different brand names or sell bulk eggs to their customers, who may repackage under different names."

As in the beef and hog industries, the consolidation of the egg business has been driven by economies of scale, said Dan Otto, an economics professor at Iowa State University.

Iowa, with its abundant corn, can supply cheap feed to egg companies. The companies have created massive campuses that include hatcheries, egg laying facilities and multiple processing plants, where some eggs are broken and pumped as liquid into tanker trucks, while others are packaged whole for the wholesale or retail markets.

As the mega producers have developed during the past 20 years, they have gone largely unregulated by government agencies responsible for making sure food is safe.

The Food and Drug Administration, which has responsibility for the safety of whole eggs, had not inspected the two Iowa-based facilities at the heart of the massive recall that began 10 days ago. Nor had the U.S. Agriculture Department or the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. In the case of Wright County Egg, the company had a history of labor and environmental infractions, including one that stemmed from workers handling manure and dead chickens with bare hands.

"It is shocking that nobody was in these facilities, but it also illustrates that egg laying facilities have fallen into the crack between the government agencies that are responsible for food safety," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group.

Although it has broad authority to regulate the production of food, the FDA historically has inspected egg-laying facilities only if it suspected contamination, said Farrar. That is likely to change under a new agency rule that took effect in July. And food safety legislation pending on Capitol Hill would require the FDA to routinely inspect high-risk food facilities, including hen houses.

As egg producers consolidate, problems of just one producers can be far-reaching
Under a long-standing regulatory divide, the USDA regulates the health of the chickens, not the eggs they produce. The agency has visited the producers at the heart of the outbreak, but only to grade the quality of their eggs as part of a voluntary program, according to USDA spokesman Caleb Weaver. Quality graders visit packaging facilities, not laying houses, Weaver said.

And while some states inspect farms and egg laying facilities -- and several conduct vigorous inspection programs -- Iowa, the leading egg-producing state, does not, said Dustin Vande Hoef, spokesman for the state's department of agriculture and land stewardship. "Clearly this is a tragic situation, but two federal agencies have been given the responsibility to ensure food safety and we count on them in that regard," Vande Hoef wrote in an e-mail.

Under legislation that has passed in the House and is expected to be taken up by the Senate in September, the FDA would be required to visit Wright County Egg and other similar producers annually. It would have access to internal company documents that show results of microbial testing and the company would be required to adopt a strategy to prevent contamination and prove that it follows the strategy. The bill also would require companies to keep uniform distribution records, making it easier and faster for the FDA to track contaminated food.

"This is a patchwork of government programs where everyone can point to someone else who they thought was doing the job," DeWaal said. "This debate over who regulates the hens and the eggs has been going on for 20 years. The bottom line is, these laying houses should be regulated."

Salmonella enteritis infections can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and fever. The illness can be briefly severe, but is rarely life-threatening. In people with depressed immune systems, such as AIDS patients, however, salmonella can cause fatal bloodstream infections. No deaths have been reported in the ongoing national investigation but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention thinks that tainted eggs have sickened at least 1,300 people since May.

On Monday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee launched an investigation into the tainted eggs. Farrar said that about 20 FDA microbiologists and inspectors have been dispatched to the two Iowa plants. So far, microbial testing has not confirmed the presence of Salmonella enteritis in either facility, but the agency is awaiting the results of further tests, he said.

If anything were to slow or reverse the consolidation of the egg industry, it would be a massive, costly recall, said economist Otto. "This might do it."

A President in Need of a Political Spark

By David Ignatius
Sunday, August 22, 2010

Last January, President Obama made a tellingly unpolitical comment to ABC's Diane Sawyer: "I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president."

Obama was talking to Sawyer about his pet project of health-care legislation, which already was politically dicey. He explained his approach to governing in the most idealistic terms: "You know, there's a tendency in Washington to think that our job description of elected officials is to get reelected. That's not our job description. Our job description is to solve problems and to help people."

I heard Obama make a similar disavowal of politics at a White House lunch for columnists in December, when he defended his politically risky (but generally correct) decisions to bail out Wall Street and the auto industry:

"If I were basing my decisions on polls," he said, "then the banking system might have collapsed, and we probably wouldn't have GM or Chrysler, and it's not clear that the economy would be growing right now."

I turn back to these comments because the country is still struggling with Obama's views on the right of Muslims to build a mosque near Ground Zero. Intervening on this issue was a classic dumb move, politically. Hillary Clinton, say, would have known instantly that the correct answer is to leave this complex issue to the elected officials of New York City. The White House had taken this position until Obama decided, on principle, that he must speak out for tolerance.

I think the president is right on the mosque issue (as on health care and his economic rescue efforts). But the larger point is that we truly have a leader who keeps doing the wise thing on policy (assuming you agree with him) but the dumb thing on politics.

Politicians often like to brag about how they aren't really political animals but public servants. It's almost a political cliche, to accompany a craven decision with the statement: "I'm not doing this to win votes, but because it's the right thing to do."

But Obama is different. He truly doesn't seem to relish politics, in the raw, mix-it-up sense. Most of all, he isn't needy for public attention in the way our most neurotic and gifted politicians have been -- walking outpatients such as Richard Nixon or Lyndon Johnson or Bill Clinton. He doesn't like red-hot; he likes cool and deliberative.

Obama's tidy, button-down style is clear when you look at those who have prospered in his administration and those who haven't.

Let's examine first the people who got bounced. Adm. Dennis Blair's biggest crime as director of national intelligence, near as I can tell, was that he talked too much in briefings, inserting what the president thought were personal opinions. Greg Craig's demise as White House counsel is still a puzzle, given his legal talent, but critics argued that the expansive Craig ran an untidy shop.

An interesting example of the administration's ability to shrink large political personalities is Richard Holbrooke, the special coordinator for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Holbrooke's garrulous style is utterly different from Obama's, and the White House appeared to be on the verge of dumping him early this year when the secretary of state is said to have intervened. Holbrooke has been on a short leash -- not making trouble, but not as effective as he might be.

Now look at the people who have Obama's ear: Defense Secretary Bob Gates, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They're low-key, low-maintenance personalities who could fit in a moderate Republican administration as easily as this one.

If national security adviser Jim Jones (another disciplined, button-down guy) retires at the end of this year, there's talk he may be replaced by Gen. James Cartwright, the current vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. His precise, laser-sharp briefing style has impressed Obama. And Obama has ended up embracing Gen. David Petraeus, perhaps the greatest briefer in modern times, who could rival Obama in a Mr. Cool contest.

Maybe Obama, the anti-politician, really doesn't care if he gets reelected, so long as he's doing what he thinks is right. Somehow, I can't imagine this breakthrough president stepping aside to write law-review articles. But to stand a chance in 2012, he's going to need someone to light a fire under him, someone who can play politics fiercely -- and also can bring in some new voters.

Surely it's obvious that I am describing Obama's second-term masterstroke: Vice President Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Is Obama Right On With Campaign Finance Reform ?..Take Our Poll.

Personally, I find it distasteful to think some foreign corporation or even a foreign government can influence our elections by donating a lot of money for campaign advertisements. Limitations on contributions, transparency and harsh penalties for candidates breaking the rules would make the process much cleaner. After all, they do not give the funding without getting something in return. They get votes on issues they care about.

Think about this; British Petroleum, a foreign company, operates a billion dollar business in our territorial waters. There are obvious risks involved in deep water drilling, like the well that spewed crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico for three months. They also pay US royalties on the amount of oil they extract. B.P. donates to officials in all political parties. The well in question did not have a safety inspection or an audit for a number of years. When the accident happened, nobody knew how much oil that well was producing. It's a billion dollar oil field. No one, except B.P, was looking. How could that happen? Government officials said, "It was an oversight". Do you believe them?

With a little imagination, you could look at the current process as nothing more than influence peddling or a common protection racket. I have not read any argument in defense of the situation as it is that makes any sense, much less favor the voter's position.

We will never have a government Of The People, By The People and For The People as long as our office holders spend much of their time repaying their campaign contributors. They are working for them, not US, regardless of what they say.

Campaign Financing Reform is necessary. It is needed now and there is not much room for negotiation. The power of each of our votes has all ready been compromised. It is a serious problem that needs to be corrected. Does the government belong to the people, or do the people belong to the government? Reform will give the power of the government back to the people. It is time.

If you think I am right, please re tweet this...Then take our poll...Thanks

Open Your Eyes America....Obama Warns of Corporate Takeover

Obama Warns of Corporate Takeover
U.S. News

Published: Aug. 21, 2010 at 6:01 AMWASHINGTON, Aug. 20 (UPI)

U.S. President Barack Obama Saturday warned of a "corporate takeover" of democracy and said Republicans want the public kept "in the dark" on campaign funding.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, the Democratic president found fault with a Supreme Court ruling that permits corporations, unions and other organizations to spend "unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections."

"They can buy millions of dollars worth of TV ads -- and worst of all, they don't even have to reveal who is actually paying for them," he said.

"A group can hide behind a phony name like 'Citizens for a Better Future,' even if a more accurate name would be 'Corporations for Weaker Oversight.'"

He blamed GOP leaders for killing legislation this summer that would require "corporate political advertisers to reveal who's funding their activities."

"But the Republican leaders in Congress said no," Obama said. "In fact, they used their power to block the issue from even coming up for a vote.

"This can only mean that the leaders of the other party want to keep the public in the dark.

"Well, we cannot allow the corporate takeover of our democracy," he said, while urging Americans to "challenge every elected official who benefits from these ads to defend this practice or join us in stopping it."

Friday, August 20, 2010

9/11 Quran Burning on Hold in Florida

Florida city denies church permit for 9/11 Quran burning

GAINESVILLE, Florida (AP) — Officials in a Florida city have denied a church that is seeking to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11 a permit to set a bonfire.

Interim Fire Chief Gene Prince said Wednesday that the open burning of books is not allowed under Gainesville's burning ordinance.

The Dove World Outreach Center drew international attention after announcing a plan to burn copies of the Islamic holy text on church grounds to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Prince says the church will be fined if the burning is held.

In an e-mail sent out Wednesday, the church said, "City of Gainesville denies burn permit — BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS."

The Gainesville church made headlines last year after distributing T-shirts that said, "Islam is of the Devil."

The Plan For Social Security; Work Longer, Pay More and Get Less

Social Security Cuts Weighed by Panel


A White House-created commission is considering proposals to raise the retirement age and take other steps to shore up the finances of Social Security, prompting key players to prepare for a major battle over the program's future.

The panel is looking for a mix of ideas that could win support from both parties, including concessions from liberals who traditionally oppose benefit cuts and from Republicans who generally oppose higher taxes, according to one member of the commission and several people familiar with its deliberations.

In addition to raising the retirement age, which is now set to reach age 67 in 2027, specific cuts under consideration include lowering benefits for wealthier retires and trimming annual cost-of-living increases, perhaps only for wealthier retirees, people familiar with the talks said.

Work More, Get Less

Ideas for shoring up Social Security

Raise the retirement age.

Reduce the rate at which benefits grow each year.

Reduce benefits for wealthier retirees.

Subject a greater portion of income to Social Security tax.

Raise the Social Security payroll tax, now 6.2% for employer and employee.

On the tax side, the leading idea is to increase the share of earned income that is subject to Social Security taxes, officials said. Under current law, income beyond $106,000 is exempt. Another idea is to increase the tax rate itself, said a Democrat on the commission.

Even before the commission settles on a plan, many liberals are vowing to block any cut in retirement benefits. But the White House and the powerful senior group AARP appear open to a deal.

Republicans on the commission have mostly held their fire. One of them, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas) said Thursday he opposes tax increases but wouldn't rule anything out at this stage in the discussions. Otherwise, he said, "the thing blows up before it has a chance to work."

The commission's Social Security proposals would face an uncertain reception in Congress, which would have to approve changes to the program. But some commissioners were optimistic.

"Are Republicans willing to sign onto a tax increase, and are Democrats ready to sign onto a benefit cut? I think the answer is probably yes in both cases if the other is willing to do it," said Alice Rivlin, a Democrat and former White House budget director. Some have suggested raising the retirement age to as high as 70, but Ms. Rivlin said she doubts there is support on the commission to go that high.

Some in the White House view a deal on Social Security as a confidence-building measure that could prepare the political system to tackle even tougher fiscal questions, such as the federal government's budget deficit. Asked about Social Security on Wednesday, President Barack Obama hinted of coming changes, saying: "We're going to have to make some modest adjustments in order to strengthen it."

The 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is charged with generating solutions to address medium- and long-term fiscal problems. To be endorsed by the panel, an idea must garner 14 votes.

The commission includes 12 members of Congress, six Democrats and six Republicans appointed by congressional leaders, plus four non-lawmakers chosen by the White House. The White House also appointed the co-chairmen, Democrat Erskine Bowles, a former White House chief of staff, and Alan Simpson, a retired GOP senator. The group is to issue its report by Dec. 1.

The Congressional Budget Office underscored the challenge Thursday, forecasting that the federal government's budget deficit for this fiscal year would total $1.34 trillion. That is slightly less than previous projections as a result of lower-than-expected spending on the Troubled Asset Relief Program financial rescue. The deficit will fall to just over $1 trillion in 2011, due to lower stimulus spending, the office said. But the deficit would grow if Congress extended the Bush tax cuts.

Social Security officials project that beginning in 2014, the program will routinely pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes, requiring it to draw on reserves that have been funding the rest of the government. By 2037, the reserves would be depleted and the program would only be able to pay about 75% of promised benefits.

The U.S. is facing the same demographic trends that are at play in most other parts of the world: life expectancies have lengthened while fertility rates have fallen, leaving countries with a shrinking proportion of young workers to help support elderly residents.

The problem is particularly acute in Europe. Germany raised its retirement age by two years, to age 67. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed raising the retirement age to 62, up two years. According to the World Bank, Hungary has raised its retirement age, while Poland has moved to reduce incentives for early retirement, and other nations have changed the way benefits are calculated.

In the U.S., this election year's political debate on Social Security has been dominated by Democratic attacks on Republicans who support individual private accounts that could be invested in stocks, an idea that President George W. Bush pushed unsuccessfully in 2005. But many predict any 2011 debate on Social Security will focus on the issue of benefit cuts and tax increases.

Liberal Democrats are already organizing to head off any proposal that cuts Social Security benefits, including any plan to raise the retirement age. They argue the program's finances can be fixed with tax increases alone and that benefit cuts would harm low-income seniors who have little savings.

"People would rather pay more or have revenue raised than cut the benefits," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.), a commission member. She said she was fairly confident a proposal that included benefit cuts would not garner the needed 14 votes.

Many liberals are particularly opposed to any plan that would link cuts in Social Security to deficit reduction. They say that because the retirement program has long run a surplus, it is not to blame for the budget deficit. The commission's mandate is to examine ways to balance the budget and to address the growth of entitlement programs.

Outside the commission,, the Campaign for America's Future and other liberal groups are pressuring candidates for Congress to promise not to support benefit cuts, posting name-by-name results on a website. A coalition of 125 groups, called Strengthen Social Security, calls for closing the shortfall with tax increases alone. But others are open to the conversation, including the powerful senior group AARP.

"We're prepared to be quite supportive of a real engagement on the issue," said John Rother, director of public policy for AARP. Acting sooner allows for changes to be made gradually, he said, and will reassure younger workers that the program will be there for them. He dismisses those who said they can never support benefit cuts. "I know all these people personally and they'll say we have to be hard line now to influence the debate...I kind of take it with a grain of salt, these emphatic statements."

—John McKinnon contributed to this article.

Write to Laura Meckler at

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Fight Over the Mosque…Morally Right and Legally Wrong vs Legally right and Morally wrong.

Primitive Politics 8/19/2010
Pat McCormick

The various News Feeds carry hundreds of stories daily concerned with the construction of this Mosque near the site of the 9/11 attack. There are two basic sides to the argument. Dozens of political figures have added their voices to one side or another. Everyone has an opinion. It has the potential for a second tragedy at ground zero.

The Press and the Politicians fan the fires of hatred for their own selfish reasons. The winner will be nobody; nobody will win anything. In the end, our Constitutional ideals will be diminished and the memory of the dead will be tarnished. The Mosque will stand as a monument to the pain caused by the attack and the benefit to its members will be minimized.

Our emotions blind us. We have engaged in a fight that can have no clear winner. The best thing that could happen would be for the builders to move the project to another location. The worst thing that could happen would be for our government to force a change in location.

We are like a pack of dogs chasing our tails while the important issues of the day are pushed aside by the frenzy. People in America are hungry and homeless. Jobs are scarce. Our debts are high. The economy wobbles and the environment suffers. We have become a dysfunctional society in a land of plenty.

We need to make some serious changes before our foundation crumbles. Although our situation is precarious, it is not hopeless. We still have the potential to realize the American Dream. We just need to open our eyes and reach for it… together.

We all know the drill, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall. One Nation Under God, With Liberty and Justice For All".

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The T.S.A.... A Barny Fiefdom

Daniel Rubin: An infuriating search at Philadelphia International Airport

By Daniel Rubin

Inquirer Columnist

At what point does an airport search step over the line?

How about when they start going through your checks, and the police call your husband, suspicious you were clearing out the bank account?

That's the complaint leveled by Kathy Parker, a 43-year-old Elkton, Md., woman, who was flying out of Philadelphia International Airport on Aug. 8.

She says she was heading to Charlotte, N.C., for work that Sunday night - she's a business support manager for a large bank - and was selected for a more in-depth search after she passed through the metal detectors at Gate B around 5:15 p.m.

A female Transportation Security Administration officer wanded her and patted her down, she says. Then she was walked over to where other TSA officers were searching her bags.

"Everything in my purse was out, including my wallet and my checkbook. I had two prescriptions in there. One was diet pills. This was embarrassing. A TSA officer said, 'Hey, I've always been curious about these. Do they work?'

"I was just so taken aback, I said, 'Yeah.' "

What happened next, she says, was more than embarrassing. It was infuriating.

That same screener started emptying her wallet. "He was taking out the receipts and looking at them," she said.

"I understand that TSA is tasked with strengthening national security but [it] surely does not need to know what I purchased at Kohl's or Wal-Mart," she wrote in her complaint, which she sent me last week.

She says she asked what he was looking for and he replied, "Razor blades." She wondered, "Wouldn't that have shown up on the metal detector?"

In a side pocket she had tucked a deposit slip and seven checks made out to her and her husband, worth about $8,000.

Her thought: "Oh, my God, this is none of his business."

Two Philadelphia police officers joined at least four TSA officers who had gathered around her. After conferring with the TSA screeners, one of the Philadelphia officers told her he was there because her checks were numbered sequentially, which she says they were not.

"It's an indication you've embezzled these checks," she says the police officer told her. He also told her she appeared nervous. She hadn't before that moment, she says.

She protested when the officer started to walk away with the checks. "That's my money," she remembers saying. The officer's reply? "It's not your money."

At this point she told the officers that she had a good explanation for the checks, but questioned whether she had to tell them.

"The police officer said if you don't tell me, you can tell the D.A."

So she explained that she and her husband had been on vacation, that they'd accumulated some hefty checks, and that she was headed to her bank's headquarters, where she intended to deposit them.

She gave police her husband's cell-phone number - he was at her mother's with their children and missed their call.

If You Can't Get Them Jobs...Get Them Stoned

Lifted from ABC News

Scientists Suggest Fresh Look at Psychedelic Drugs
Mind-Altering Drugs Could Be Combined With Psychotherapy to Help People With Depression, Scientists Suggest

By Kate Kelland
August 18, 2010

LONDON (Reuters) - Mind-altering drugs like LSD, ketamine or magic mushrooms could be combined with psychotherapy to treat people suffering from depression, compulsive disorders or chronic pain, Swiss scientists suggested on Wednesday.

Research into the effects of psychedelics, used in the past in psychiatry, has been restricted in recent decades because of the negative connotations of drugs, but the scientists said more studies into their clinical potential were now justified.

The researchers said recent brain imaging studies show that psychedelics such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), ketamine and psilocybin -- the psychoactive component in recreational drugs known as magic mushrooms -- act on the brain in ways that could help reduce symptoms of various psychiatric disorders.

The drugs could be used as a kind of catalyst, the scientists said, helping patients to alter their perception of problems or pain levels and then work with behavioral therapists or psychotherapists to tackle them in new ways.

"Psychedelics can give patients a new perspective -- particularly when things like suppressed memories come up -- and then they can work with that experience," said Franz Vollenweider of the Neuropsychopharmacology and brain imaging unit at Zurich's University Hospital of Psychiatry, who published a paper on the issue in Nature Neuroscience journal.

Depending on the type of person taking the drug, the dose and the situation, psychedelics can have a wide range of effects, experts say, from feelings of boundlessness and bliss at one end of the spectrum to anxiety-inducing feelings of loss of control and panic at the other.


Vollenweider and his colleague Michael Kometer, who also worked on the paper, said evidence from previous studies suggests such drugs might help ease mental health problems by acting on the brain circuits and neurotransmitter systems that are known to be altered in people with depression and anxiety.

Economic Pressure Forces NY Times Into the Fruit and Vegetable Business

e New York Times Takes on Big Melons

What's going on with melons these days? As it turns out, we may be witnessing a big shift in preference, as more people opt for small melons over their larger counterparts. The New York Times takes a look.

Do you like big melons, or small melons? On the one hand, big melons are "just right for greasing up and throwing in a pool." In the other hand, small melons have their advantages: "You can handle them better," according to melon expert Ernest Brown, who doesn't mind that the melons he handles are "just a bit flatter."

But there's a certain nostalgia attached to big melons, especially in places like Arkansas, where melons "grow particularly big and sweet," and in the summer, it used to be routine that kids "went and looked at the giant" melons. Listen to the reminiscences of enthusiast Lloyd Bright:

"When I was growing up, the guys were always talking big melons," said Mr. Bright, a retired biology teacher and school administrator who got into the big-melon game in 1973.

"Larger, more traditional-looking" melons still dominate "the game." But "personal melons"—"round balls of sweet" that fit into the "cute-melon category"—might be the future. Listen to Susan Blew of Franklin Township, NJ:

She's never thought about growing those really big melons... For one thing, the climate's not right. And even if it were, she doubts they would sell.

"People just like a sweet, little melon," she said.

The fact is, there's no clear answer—as expert Terry Kirkpatrick says, "There's big, and then there's good" (though he himself prefers "the old standard" melons, "mainly for nostalgic reasons"), and some small-melons enthusiasts decry the big-melon game as "a chemical-heavy practice."

Whatever size melons you prefer, make sure you're using proper techniqe. To choose good melons, check their "shape, color and weight and, perhaps, try a thump or a slap." And experiment with different ways of enjoying them, as Times reporter Kim Severson did when she visited Bright:

He cuts out the hearts and puts them in the refrigerator to eat. He says they're delicious, though his monsters weren't ripe when this reporter was standing in his fields late last month, hinting around for a taste.

Just remember: Use a light touch, because bludgeoning something to death is never a good idea. And also: Stay away from low-hanging fruit.

Send an email to Max Read, the author of this post, at

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Secret to Economic Recovery...Germany Shows US How

Defying Others, Germany Finds Economic Success

Gordon Welters for The New York Times

BERLIN — Germany has sparred with its European partners over how to respond to the financial crisis, argued with the United States over the benefits of stimulus versus austerity, and defiantly pursued its own vision of how to keep its economy strong.

Statistics released Friday buttress Germany’s view that it had the formula right all along. The government on Friday announced quarter-on-quarter economic growth of 2.2 percent, Germany’s best performance since reunification 20 years ago — and equivalent to a nearly 9 percent annual rate if growth were that robust all year.
The strong growth figures will also bolster the conviction here that German workers and companies in recent years made the short-term sacrifices necessary for long-term success that Germany’s European partners did not. And it will reinforce the widespread conviction among policy makers that they handled the financial crisis and the painful recession that followed it far better than the United States, which, they never hesitate to remind, brought the world into this crisis.

A vast expansion of a program paying to keep workers employed, rather than dealing with them once they lost their jobs, was the most direct step taken in the heat of the crisis. But the roots of Germany’s export-driven success reach back to the painful restructuring under the previous government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
By paring unemployment benefits, easing rules for hiring and firing, and management and labor’s working together to keep a lid on wages, Germany ensured that it could again export its way to growth with competitive, nimble companies producing the cars and machine tools the world’s economies — emerging and developed alike — demanded.

Government officials here are confident they found the right approach, including a better solution to unemployment. They extended the “Kurzarbeit” or “short work” program to encourage companies to furlough workers or give them fewer hours instead of firing them, making up lost wages out of a fund filled in good times through payroll deductions and company contributions.

At its peak in May 2009, roughly 1.5 million workers were enrolled in the program. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recently estimated that by the third quarter of 2009, more than 200,000 jobs may have been saved as a result.

Behind the Wheel.....A Pair of Tragedies

Fasten Your Seat belt!

A Swedish driver who was allegedly caught driving 180 mph in Switzerland is facing a record-breaking speeding fine of more than $1 million.

The driver was caught on a highway between Bern and Lausanne in his sports car going about two and half times above the speed limit. Police say it took the driver "over a half a kilometer of road to come to a halt." The 37-year-old reportedly blamed the speedometer.

The current record fine, held by a Swiss citizen, stands at $290,000.
Copyright Time contributed to this report.

And "One More For the Road"... Gulp!

Is Life Sentence For Man Convicted of Ninth DWI

Texas District Attorney Says Punishment Fits Repeated Crime

Aug. 13, 2010

The ninth conviction was the breaking point for one Texas judge who earlier this week sentenced a habitual drunken driver to life in prison.

Bobby Stovall, 54, was driving his truck in Round Rock, Texas, in early July when he weaved through several lanes of traffic and hit another vehicle, injuring the driver. It was later determined that Stovall had a blood alcohol concentration of .32, four times the legal limit in Texas.

And while that DWI was certainly enough to get Stovall in trouble with the law, when the judge found out the defendant had eight prior DWI convictions across several different counties in Texas, he ordered up a life sentence for Stovall.
"This is someone who very deliberately has refused to make changes and continued to get drunk and get in a car and before he kills someone we decided to put him away," said Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley.

Bradley said that in addition to the multiple DWI convictions , Stovall also had a extensive rap sheet for other crimes, including burglary, credit card abuse and supplying alcohol to a minor.

"He basically walked through the penal code for the past twenty years without any regard for safety or society," said Bradley. "In every single one of his cases he had an opportunity to change."

Personally... I Think B.P's Campaign Donations Bought a Lot of Coverup

Read it at The Daily Beast
1.BP's Oil Spill Coverup

Three-quarters of the 5 billion gallons of oil unleashed into the Gulf of Mexico has disappeared, federal officials say. But as The Daily Beast's Rick Outzen writes, some fishermen understand that they're not supposed to report tar balls—some as big as three inches wide—they find floating off the coast. One fisherman was told he was sent into the Gulf to remove booms only—"no reporting of tar balls or oil anymore." Another fisherman's finding of dispersant was dismissed as algae. Several others had similar experiences. With the oil having supposedly vanished, BP has scaled back its response operations. Much of the country is sighing with relief as the crisis appears to be over—but maybe that appearance is misleading. Both BP and the government have an interest in minimizing the damage after facing harsh criticism all summer over their responses to the spill.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stop Arguing About How We Hit the Iceberg and Fix the Hole in the Boat.

Reagan's Top Economist, David Stockman, Says GOP Misled the U.S. and Tanked the Economy

Source: MarketWatch, August 10, 2010

Lost in the 24/7 news cycle has been a July 31, 2010 opinion-editorial by David Stockman, former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. Stockman was closely tied to the development of the Reaganomics ideology, but now he points to massive failures by Republicans, while they were in power, to assure that financial accounts were balanced in government, international trade, on the ledgers of central banks and in the affairs of private businesses and households. Stockman excoriates modern Republicans, and particularly Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for claiming the party's current economic doctrines as rooted in traditional GOP financial philosophy. He points to a list of misguided Republican actions that have led the country to economic disaster: Richard Nixon's gold policies that contributed to the country living beyond its means, the runaway growth of public debt resulting "not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party's embrace ... of the insidious doctrine that deficits don't matter if they result from tax cuts," the neocon's sky-high inflation of the military budget, the "warfare state," the removal of traditional restrictions on leverage and speculation by the financial sector which led to a "vast, unproductive expansion of our financial sector," and the steady sending of jobs and production offshore. Stockman charges that Republicans have strayed so far from their ideological roots that they have "made a mockery of party ideals" and led the country into adopting policies that have crippled our economy.

Candidates Returning Wall Street Donations...How About BP's

A series of retirements and controversies have prompted House and Senate lawmakers to return $16 million in campaign donations since the beginning of 2009, up nearly 70 percent from the last elections, according to a USA TODAY review.

The uptick comes as campaigns are under pressure from opponents to return money from Wall Street donors following the 2008 banking collapse and, more recently, to oil companies after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. But the bulk of the increase stemmed from retirements and candidates dropping out of races.

"It was just the right thing to do our in our case -- showed integrity," said Nick Jordan, a Republican who withdrew from a Kansas House race in April and returned $114,500 in contributions. "They could put it in someone else's campaign."

The largest refunds came from retiring senators such as Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who turned back more than 600 donations worth $1.1 million, and Evan Bayh, D-Ind., who refunded about $700,000. They both announced this year that they wouldn't run again.

In all, House and Senate candidates have raised about $1.2 billion for this year's midterm elections, which will decide control of Congress, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Democrats, who control Congress, gave back about $10 million, more than double the $4.4 million returned by GOP committees. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is still reviewing recent campaign reports filed by senators, so the number of refunds may increase.

A candidate who drops out before a primary election is required by law to refund contributions specifically targeted to help in the general election. The candidate may choose to refund money donated for the primary but is not required to do so.

Robert Kelner, who heads the election and political law practice at the Covington & Burling law firm, said he has heard from more clients this year who want their money back.

"Because it's a turbulent election year, we're seeing more serious campaigns derailing," he said. "That may be what is engendering broader-than-usual efforts by donors to retrieve their funds."

Is McCain Using His Brain... Again?

Sen. John McCain says he does not support changing the Constitution to end automatic citizenship for children born to illegal immigrants.

The Republican Arizona senator said despite the current flurry of news stories on the topic and a statement he made last week that was widely interpreted as saying he supported hearings on the matter, he remains unconvinced that such a change is needed.

Instead, he argued that fully securing the border would "dramatically reduce" the problem.

McCain says he's not calling for hearings on the matter, but will listen to a debate if one is held. But he says he is fundamentally in favor of leaving the Constitution as it is.

Chernobyl Was Simply Swept Under the Rug...The Rug is Glowing

Chernobyl: The Gift That Never Stops Giving

August 13, 2010 · By Robert Alvarez

The threats to human health and the environment from Chernobyl fallout, scientists are now finding, will persist for a very long time.

It's been 24 years since the catastrophic explosion and fire occurred at Chernobyl in the Ukraine. The accident required nearly a million emergency responders and cleanup workers. According to a recent report published by the New York Academy of Medicine nearly one million people around the world have died from Chernobyl fallout.

Now we are finding that threats to human health and the environment from the radioactive fallout of this accident that blanketed Europe (and the rest of the world to a lesser extent) will persist for a very long time. There is an exclusionary zone near the reactor, roughly the size of Rhode Island (1000sq kilometers), which because of high levels of contamination,people are ostensibly not allowed to live there for centuries to come. There are also"hot spots" through out Russia, Poland Greece, Germany, Italy, UK, France, and Scandinavia where contaminated live stock and other foodstuff continue to be removed from human consumption.

My friends tell me that a growing number of Ukrainians are immigrating to Youngstown, OH ( where I grew up),Cleveland, Chicago, and other Ukrainian-American enclaves because of Chernobyl contamination threats.

Here are a few recent examples:

* A fast-growing number of wild boars in Germany are having to be destroyed and disposed as radioactive wastes.
* The mammal population in the exclusionary zone near the reactor is declining, despite the absence of humans, indicative of growing radiation damage to fauna and flora.
* Wildfires in Russia appear to be spreading high levels of radioactive contamination from Chernobyl.

True to form, governments with major nuclear programs or ambitions are silent and are encouraging the view that it's time we forget about Chernobyl.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Religious Freedom is More Important Than the Location of a Mosque

Republicans attack Obama over Muslim center comments

Sun Aug 15, 12:09 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans attacked President Barack Obama on Sunday for his comments on a controversial plan to build a Muslim cultural center in New York, saying he was "disconnected" from the nation in an election year.

Obama waded into the debate on Friday when he appeared to offer his backing for the center called Cordoba House to be built two blocks from the "Ground Zero" site of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York City.

On Saturday, seeking to clarify his position, Obama said he supported the right of Muslims to build the center but would not comment on the "wisdom" of deciding its location in Lower Manhattan.

Prominent Republicans have opposed the proposed site of the center, saying it was insensitive and reopened the wounds of the attacks. On Sunday, several criticized Obama for what they said was his support of the center's construction and subsequent waffling on the issue.

"This is not about freedom of religion because we all respect the right of anyone to worship according to the dictates of their conscience ... but I do think it's unwise to build a mosque at the site where 3,000 Americans lost their lives as the result of a terrorist attack," Texas Republican John Cornyn said on the "Fox News Sunday" program.

"To me it demonstrates that Washington, the White House, the administration, the President himself seems to be disconnected from the mainstream of America," Cornyn said.

Peter King, a Republican congressman from New York who opposes the location of the center, told CNN's "State of the Union" program that Obama clearly gave the impression he supported its construction but then backed off the next day.

"If the President was going to get into this, he should have been much more clear, much more precise and he can't be changing his decision from day to day on an issue which does go to our Constitution ..."

Obama's remarks put him in the middle of a heated political debate months before November elections, which are expected to result in big losses for Obama's Democrats and a potential power shift in Congress in favor of Republicans.

Earlier this month a New York City agency cleared the way for the construction of Cordoba House, a 13-story building that would include meeting rooms, a prayer space, an auditorium and a pool.
Some of the families of those killed in the attacks have mounted an emotional campaign to block it, calling the center provocative and a betrayal of the memory of the victims.

"It does put salt on the wound," King said. He urged Muslim leaders behind the project to reconsider the location.

Supporters of the right to build the center, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, argue that religious tolerance is the best answer to religious extremism.

"The fallacy is that Al Qaeda attacked us. Islam did not attack us," Jerrold Nadler, a Democratic congressman whose district includes the "Ground Zero" site, said on "State of the Union."

"We were not attacked by all Muslims. And there were Muslims who were killed there."

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll showed a majority of Americans across the political spectrum opposed the project being built near the site of the attacks.

The survey, released on Wednesday, showed nearly 70 percent of Americans opposed it, including 54 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of independents.

Republicans said the November elections will be about jobs, and that the president should be addressing high unemployment in the United States instead of speaking about religious freedom.

"Intellectually the President may be right. But this is an emotional issue and people who lost kids, brothers, sisters, fathers, do not want that mosque in New York and it's going to be a big, big issue for Democrats across this country," Ed Rollins, a Republican strategist, told CBS' "Face The Nation" program.

(Additional reporting by Alan Elsner; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Paul Simao)

Florida T-Party Candidate Wants to put Illegals in "Camps"

Aug 12 The Faster Times John Knefel

Hmmmmmmm, does this quote strike anyone else as a bit, um, obviously insane?

“We can follow what happened back in the 40s or 50s—I was just a little girl in Miami—and they built camps for the people that snuck into the country. Because they were illegal. They put them in the camps and they shipped them back.”

That’s Florida State House candidate Marg Baker, arguing for the creation of “camps” in which we can store them illegals — one might say concentrate them — to make it easier to deport them. I would say we shouldn’t do that, but what do I know. I’m just some guy, some guy who doesn’t want to round up people and put them in camps, so my position on these camps comes from a no-camp bias. That’s just me.

As Matt Yglesias notes, it’s also not clear what she’s talking about. There were refugee camps in Europe in the 40s, which is different from Miami, but it seems unlikely to me that Marg is talking about refugee camps. More likely, Marg has created an alternate history in which Ronald Reagan single-handedly rounded up the brown Nazis and killed them all, Utah style. That’s what we call The Good Old Days.

Maybe I’m being unfair though. Marg did an interview with Salon that cleared the air and made her seem totally electable, in Florida.

“We can ship them out to the middle of the country and put up high walls and leave them there,” said Marg Baker…

Whoopsie daisy. You’re gonna want to walk that one back a little.

They’re trying to think I want to erect some sort of prison camps like over in Germany” — which she is not, Baker said.

Now we’re talking!

She added, “You’ve gotta have places for them to eat and sleep and breathe fresh air. It can be a tent city … You don’t want to make them too comfortable or they’ll want to come back.”

She stressed to Salon that she would want all illegal immigrants, not just Hispanics, put in the camps. Though she added, cryptically, “the people are walking among us, and who knows.”

Saturday, August 14, 2010

You Can Stop a Bicycle by Sticking Your Foot in It's Spokes

To Our Elected Officials in Washington

You were elected to serve the needs of the people of the United States. Look out your window, a lot of those people are suffering. They are waiting for you to help them solve their problems. If you spend your time fighting with each other and refuse to cooperate, that suffering will continue. Think about what you are doing and how much you could have done if you tried to work things out. You can stop a bicycle by jamming your foot in its spokes, but you will dump the rider, damage the bicycle and injure your foot. When you deliberately jam the government process, that is what you are doing. Think about US, the voters. We expect better things from you.

Following the Rule of Law can be a Painful Ordeal

Obama Endorses Ground Zero Mosque

During a White House Ramadan dinner Friday night, President Obama followed New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s lead and came out in support of Park51, the planned Muslim community center and mosque two blocks away from the World Trade Center site. “Let me be clear: As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,” Obama said. “That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.” Such remarks are sure to fuel debate over the mosque, with Republicans like Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani speaking out in sharp opposition to the plans. Tim Brown, a 9/11 first-responder, isn't happy, either. He called Obama’s remarks “upside down” and “anti-American.”
Read it at New York Daily News

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Federal Grasshoppers Fiddle While US Worker Ants Suffer

August 12, 2010
Federal workers earning double private sector workers
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While the economy - with nearly 10 percent unemployment - is struggling to get on its feet, it seems like it's still a pretty good time to work for the federal government.

USA Today reports that on average, federal employees earn double what private sector workers make. In 2009, federal civil servants earned about $123,000 - that's the total of pay and benefits... compared to $61,000 for private workers. For nine years in a row, federal workers have been getting bigger pay and benefit increases than private employees... and the compensation gap between the two groups has grown from $30,000 10 years ago to almost $62,000 today.

Unions for public employees insist this is because most federal jobs require a high level of skill and education; and because the government contracts out many lower-paying jobs to the private sector. But a lot of people don't buy that argument. Critics say federal workers are overpaid. And Republicans in Congress want to cancel the 1.4 percent across-the-board pay hike for federal workers that Pres. Obama is calling for.

Consider this: federal compensation has grown nearly 37 percent since 2000... compared to less than nine percent for private sector employees. It's no wonder our government can't keep a lid on spending with statistics like this... the federal budget deficit just for the month of July was more than $165 billion. Meanwhile millions of Americans are losing or have lost their jobs, and millions of others have been forced to take a pay cut.

Mike Hukabee Shows Common Sense on Immigration

Huckabee: Don't Punish Children of Illegal Immigrants
Posted by Stephanie Condon 43 comments

Mike Huckabee (Credit: AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Former GOP presidential contender and potential 2012 candidate Mike Huckabee said Wednesday that he does not support a repeal of the 14th Amendment -- a part of the Constitution other Republican leaders have called into question recently because it guarantees citizenship for children born in the United States, regardless of their parents' immigration status.

Huckabee said in an interview Wednesday that he does not support a repeal, NPR reports.

While the former Arkansas governor said, "I'm not for an amnesty program," he added, "You do not punish a child for something the parent did."

The 14th Amendment has come under scrutiny from Republicans as the nation takes a closer look at its immigration problems. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), once a backer of comprehensive immigration reform, said last month that "birthright citizenship is a mistake" and that he may introduce a constitutional amendment to change the rules. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and other Republicans have advocated for congressional hearings on the issue of birthright citizenship.

Huckabee told NPR that the nation is better off giving all children opportunities to succeed as citizens, even if they were not born in the United States.

"The question is: Is [an undocumented child born outside of the U.S.] better off going to college and becoming a neurosurgeon or a banker or whatever he might become, and becoming a taxpayer, and in the process having to apply for and achieve citizenship, or should we make him pick tomatoes?" Huckabee said. "I think it's better if he goes to college and becomes a citizen."

A new study by the Pew Research Center shows that in 2009, there were about 4 million U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrant parents living in the country. Another 1.1 million foreign-born children of undocumented immigrants resided in the U.S. in 2009.

An estimated 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008, or about 8 percent, were the offspring of undocumented immigrants, the study shows. Pew's figures come from the U.S. Census Bureau's March 2009 Current Population Survey.

Free Speech Must be Dead in New Hampshire

Democrat quits N.H. House over anti-Palin remark

By The Associated Press

Published: August 12, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. - A New Hampshire Democrat has quit the state legislature after cracking a joke on Facebook about Sarah Palin's death.

Rep. Timothy Horrigan of Durham posted a comment Wednesday that a "dead Palin wd be even more dangerous than a live one" and she "is all about her myth & if she was dead she cdn't commit any more gaffes."

Horrigan apologized Thursday and resigned. He is also discontinuing his re-election campaign.

The state Democratic Party chairman calls the remarks "out of line."

Another New Hampshire Democrat has also been criticized this week for a Facebook comment about Palin, the former governor of Alaska. House candidate Keith Halloran apologized Thursday for posting a death wish for Palin in response to a post about the plane crash that killed former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

US Government Confirms Global Warming...Dah!

Global Warming "Undeniable," U.S. Government Report Says
National Geographic News

"Global warming is undeniable," and it's happening fast, a new U.S. government report says.

An in-depth analysis of ten climate indicators all point to a marked warming over the past three decades, with the most recent decade being the hottest on record, according to the latest of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Administration's annual "State of the Climate" reports, which was released Wednesday. Reliable global climate record-keeping began in the 1880s.
The report focused on climate changes measured in 2009 in the context of newly available data on long-term developments.(See "Heat Wave: 2010 to Be One of Hottest Years on Record.") For instance, surface air temperatures recorded from more than 7,000 weather stations around the world over the past few decades confirm an "unmistakable upward trend," the study says. And for the first time, scientists put data from climate indicators—such as ocean temperature and sea-ice cover—together in one place.

Their consistency "jumps off the page at you," report co-author Derek Arndt said.
"This is like going to the doctor and getting your respiratory test and circulatory test and your neurosystem test," said Arndt, head of the Climate Monitoring Branch of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. "It's testing all the parts, and they're all in agreement that the same thing's going on."

Three hundred scientists analyzed data on 37 climate indicators, but homed in on 10 that the study says are especially revealing.
Those indicators include:
• humidity,
• sea-surface temperature,
• sea ice cover,
• snow cover,
• ocean heat content,
• glacier cover,
• air temperature in the lower atmosphere,
• sea level,
• temperature over land,
• and temperature over oceans.

As scientists would predict in a hotter world, some of the indicators—such as ocean heat content and temperature over land—are increasing. Others, such as sea ice cover and snow cover, are decreasing.

The influx of greenhouses gases into the atmosphere has also hit oceans particularly hard, the NOAA report says. (See an interactive on the greenhouse effect and global warming.)

New evidence suggests that more than 90 percent of that heat trapped by greenhouses gases over the past 50 years has been absorbed into the oceans. Because water expands as it warms, the added ocean heat is contributing to sea level rise as well as to the rapid melting of Arctic summer sea ice. That melting in 2010 is on track to be worse than 2007, when Arctic ice cover reached its lowest point on record.

Such climatic shifts are already ushering in extreme weather, which plagued much of the globe in 2009, according to the report. (See a world map of potential global warming impacts.) For instance, Australia experienced its third hottest year on record.

On one February 2009 day—labeled "Black Saturday"—in Australia, 400 wildfires swept across the state of Victoria, killing 173 people and destroying 3,500 buildings.

NOAA Climate Report Offers Real-World Data
The NOAA report—published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society—is different from other climate publications, because it's based on observed data, not computer models, making it the "climate system's annual scorecard," the authors wrote. "It's telling us what's going on in the real world, rather than the imaginary world," said Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the Boulder, Colorado-based National Center for Atmospheric Research. Even so, the report "does not carry the authority of the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] by any means," Trenberth noted.

That's partially because IPCC reports—the latest of which came out in 2007 with a similar claim that warming is "unequivocal"—are produced on longer time scales, with more time for review. And even with real-world data, "the theory with regard to global warming is still incomplete"—especially since the atmosphere is so complex, Trenberth cautioned.

This "can be seen at a glance," for example, "by looking out of the window at the wondrous, great variety in clouds."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Make Plans to leave.... Earth ...Man!

Stephen Hawking's Warning: Abandon Earth—Or Face Extinction

Andrew Dermont on August 6, 2010, 12:00 AM

Let's face it: The planet is heating up, Earth's population is expanding at an exponential rate, and the the natural resources vital to our survival are running out faster than we can replace them with sustainable alternatives. Even if the human race manages not to push itself to the brink of nuclear extinction, it is still a foregone conclusion that our aging sun will expand and swallow the Earth in roughly 7.6 billion years.

So, according to famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, it's time to free ourselves from Mother Earth. "I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space," Hawking tells Big Think. "It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn't have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let's hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load."

Hawking says he is an optimist, but his outlook for the future of man's existence is fairly bleak. In the recent past, humankind's survival has been nothing short of "a question of touch and go" he says, citing the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963 as just one example of how man has narrowly escaped extinction. According to the Federation of American Scientists there are still about 22,600 stockpiled nuclear weapons scattered around the planet, 7,770 of which are still operational. In light of the inability of nuclear states to commit to a global nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the threat of a nuclear holocaust has not subsided.

In fact, "the frequency of such occasions is likely to increase in the future," says Hawking, "We shall need great care and judgment to negotiate them all successfully." Even if humans manage to avoid a nuclear stand-off over the next thousand years, our fate on this planet is still pretty much certain. University of Sussex astrophysicist Dr. Robert Smith says eventually the aging Sun will accelerate global warming to a point where all of Earth's water will simply evaporate.

"Life on Earth will have disappeared long before 7.6 billion years," says Smith, "Scientists have shown that the Sun's slow expansion will cause the temperature at the surface of the Earth to rise. Oceans will evaporate, and the atmosphere will become laden with water vapor, which (like carbon dioxide) is a very effective greenhouse gas. Eventually, the oceans will boil dry and the water vapor will escape into space. In a billion years from now the Earth will be a very hot, dry and uninhabitable ball."

Finally, between the next thousand years or so that Hawking says it will take man to make the planet uninhabitable and the billion years it will take for the sun to turn our planet into an arid wasteland, there is always the chance that a nearby supernova, an asteroid, or a quick and painless black hole could do us in.

Will an Asteroid or some Bacteria end Our World. Odds are on NDM-1

Alarm over 'unbeatable' enzyme that could make all bacterial diseases resistant to antibiotics

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 3:43 PM on 11th August 2010

• Gene makes bacteria resistant to almost all antibiotics
• Patients brought enzyme back from India and Pakistan

An enzyme that can make any bacteria resistant to antibiotics that has 'an alarming potential to spread' has reached Britain.

Fifty cases have already been reported in the UK, brought in by patients who have had surgery or other treatments in India or Pakistan.

Scientists have warned that the new gene - called New Delhi-Metallo-1 - infects bacteria allowing them to become resistant to nearly all known antibiotics.
Vulnerable: Young and elderly patients will be particularly susceptible to the 'superbugs', which have emerged recently and are immune to almost all antibiotics

It has been seen largely in E. coli bacteria, the most common cause of urinary tract infections, and on DNA structures that can be easily copied and passed onto other types of bacteria.

The 'super' bacteria has been found in patients traveling to areas of Asia for cosmetic surgery, cancer treatment and transplants, who have then returned to Britain for further care.

The enzyme can jump easily from one bacterium to another and experts fear it will start attaching itself to more dangerous diseases causing them to become resistant to antibiotics.

The spread of the enzyme that makes any bug 'super' The enzyme New Delhi-Metallo-1 or NDM-1 was first reported in a Swedish patient in 2008. This patient had previously received medical treatment in India.

A spate of cases have since been reported in the UK. Many of these patients had gone to India or Pakistan for elective operations such as cosmetic surgery.

In 2009, the Health Protection Agency issued an alert reporting that NDM-1 was resistant to most antibiotics.

Today a study in The Lancet confirmed the UK to be the first western country to register the 'widespread presence' of the bacteria, with 50 cases. The researchers said this was 'unsurprising' given the 'historical links between India and the UK.'
They added that the bacteria will probably spread worldwide as India provides cheaper cosmetic surgery for Europe and the U.S as well.

The researchers said enzyme-enhanced bacteria appeared to be already circulating widely in India, where the health system is much less likely to identify its presence or have adequate antibiotics to treat patients. Scientists warn in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases that 'it has an alarming potential to spread and diversify'.

Professor David Livermore, from the Health Protection Agency, who co-wrote the research with Professor Timothy Walsh from Cardiff University, said: 'The NDM-1 problem is likely to get progressively worse in the foreseeable future. 'The potential for wider international spread and for NDM-1 to become endemic worldwide are clear and frightening.'

A team of experts has tracked the enzyme in Britain, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and believes it to be more widespread than first thought. The gene has also been detected in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the U.S. and Sweden.

It is said to be resistant even to a class of antibiotics known as carbapenems, which are reserved for use in emergencies and used when bacteria are found to be resistant to more commonly prescribed antibiotics.

Worryingly, there are only two antibiotics that work against NDM-1 and the likelihood is that they will also be overcome before long. Professor Walsh said: 'In many ways, this is it. This is potentially the end. There are no antibiotics in the pipeline.'

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nepotism ... Alive and Well in Wasilla

By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press Writer Becky Bohrer, Associated Press Writer – Tue Aug 10, 3:22 am ET

JUNEAU, Alaska – From Playgirl to ... politico?

That's right: Levi Johnston's manager, Tank Jones, is confirming a report that Johnston is planning to run for city office in his hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, as part of a reality TV show.

Wasilla is where Sarah Palin got her start in politics, moving up from City Council to mayor before winning election as Alaska's governor in 2006. Johnston, 20, is the father of Palin's grandson, Tripp, and the recently off-again flame to her daughter Bristol.

Jones said Johnston is serious about a run, either for mayor or City Council.

"Let me put it to you like this: If you live in a town and things are happening in that town, and you're displeased with it, what do you do? You try to change those things," Jones said.

He declined to give specifics on what Johnston wants to change but insisted the run is real. "This is not a spoof. This is not a joke," Jones said.

According to the Wasilla city clerk, the next mayoral election is in 2011. The candidate filing period for council elections this October closed July 30. Johnston isn't listed among those candidates.

Wasilla's outspoken current mayor, Verne Rupright, was at a meeting Monday and didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Johnston has seemingly come to embrace the spotlight since first being thrust into it in 2008, amid Palin's bid for vice president, when he and Bristol were unwed teenagers expecting a child together.

Since then, he's gone on to pose for Playgirl and appear with Kathy Griffin on her reality show. On Sunday, he walked the red carpet at the Teen Choice Awards with singer Brittani Senser, with whom he agreed to shoot a music video.

Asked whether he believed people would take Johnston's run for office seriously, with TV cameras rolling, Jones said: "People questioned Jesus Christ, so I definitely don't care about these mere mortals questioning Levi Johnston.

"People can question whatever they want. I mean, he's going to keep on doing his thing," he said. "He was going to do this, even if this wasn't a reality show."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Leak Plugged but We are Still Bleeding

By GREG BLUESTEIN and HARRY R. WEBER, Associated Press Writers Greg Bluestein And Harry R. Weber, Associated Press Writers

NEW ORLEANS – BP began pumping a steady stream of fresh cement into its blown-out oil well Thursday, hoping to seal for good the ruptured pipe that blew its top months ago and spewed crude into Gulf of Mexico in one of the world's worst spills.

A day before, crews forced a slow torrent of heavy mud down the broken wellhead to push the crude back to its underground source. This next step in the so-called "static kill" is intended to keep the oil from finding its way back out.

"This is not the end, but it will virtually assure us that there will be no chance of oil leaking into the environment," retired Adm. Thad Allen, who oversees the spill response for the government, said in Washington.

Thin versus Fat;...Who decides what you can eat

California Bill To Toughen School Soft Drink Ban
Publication: convenience store news
Date: Tuesday, July 26 2005

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger promoted legislation Monday that would encourage healthier food and drinks in schools, including a bill that would extend a ban on soft drinks from lower grades to high schools.

"This legislation is absolutely critical, not only for bringing more healthy food into our schools, but also because California is facing an obesity epidemic," Schwarzenegger said at a news conference.

According to the Associated Press report, Schwarzenegger urged lawmakers to pass SB395, which would only allow high schools to sell soda 30 minutes before and after the school day. During the day, schools could sell water, milk, drinks that are at least 50 percent fruit juice with no added sweeteners and sport drinks designed to replace electrolytes.

California became the first state to ban the sale of soft drinks in middle and elementary schools in 2003, over the objections of the beverage industry.


Government Knows Best: San Francisco Criminalizes Juice and Soft Drinks

Gavin Newsom, the Mayor of San Francisco and Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of California, recently came to the conclusion that his hatred for soft drinks and juices containing sugar constitutes an outright ban on the sale of either products in vending machines. Of course, the Board of Supervisors deemed this as madness and effectively told him to take a hike.

Their decision did not get a good little tyrant like Gavin down, however. He decided that the only way to save the poor, feeble minded populace of San Francisco from themselves was to issue an executive order which would make his dreams a reality. In record time one was drafted, signed by him, and made law.

So, there you have it. The Great Big Government of one of America's largest cities has banned affordable and popular food items just as the Great Recession prepares to take an unexpected double dip. That should really turn things around for the better.