Saturday, January 31, 2009

White House Plans First Assult on Free Speech

Financial news service reported Saturday that White House lawyers seek to control the use of the president’s image, recognizing the worldwide interest about Obama’s election, First Amendment free-speech rights and easy access to videos and photos on the Web.

“Our lawyers are working on developing a policy that will protect the presidential image while being careful not to squelch the overwhelming enthusiasm that the public has for the president,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

White House lawyers may have to make case-by-case determinations about the best ways to protect the presidential image without tempering enthusiasm or trampling on free-speech protections, said Jonathan Band, an intellectual property lawyer in Washington.

Typically, imagery and text produced at taxpayer expense by the government is considered in the public domain for press and non-commercial uses.

Read it.

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Obama Admits Failure of Quick Fix for Economy

President Barack Obama said on Saturday "Our economic recovery will take years -- not months."

Obama, who has made fighting the country's economic and financial crises the top priority of his administration, called on the U.S. Senate to approve what many are calling a pork-laden spending bill that the House of Representatives passed absent of any Republican support.
"Soon my Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, will announce a new strategy for reviving our financial system that gets credit flowing to businesses and families," Obama, a Democrat, said in his weekly radio address.

"We'll help lower mortgage costs and extend loans to small businesses so they can create jobs."
Obama did not offer specifics about the new plan or say when it would be unveiled. His chief spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said on Friday that the White House would hold meetings next week about financial industry regulation.

Read it.

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Obama Sends $20.3 Million Stimulus to Gaza

President Barack Obama Friday authorized the use of $20.3 million in emergency funding for immediate assistance to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the U.S. State Department said.

The announcement follows remarks by U.S. Middle East special envoy George Mitchell, who said, “President Obama has expressed the deep concern of the United States about ... the needs in Gaza” at a briefing in Ramallah in the West Bank on January 29.

Read it.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Obama Economy: GDP Rises 1.3% for 2008, Crashes at 3.8% Rate in 4th Qtr.

The economy shrank at its fastest pace in nearly 27 years in the fourth quarter, government data showed, sinking deeper into recession as consumers and business cut spending, Reuters reported today.
The Commerce Department on Friday said gross domestic product, which measures total goods and services output within U.S. borders, plummeted at a 3.8 percent annual rate, the lowest pace since the first quarter of 1982, when output contracted 6.4 percent. GDP fell 0.5 percent in the third quarter. These were the first consecutive declines in GDP since the fourth quarter of 1990 and the first three months of 1991.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast GDP contracting 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter. The U.S. economy slipped into recession in December 2007, driven by the collapse of the housing market and resulting global credit crisis.
For 2008, GDP rose 1.3 percent, the slowest pace of growth since 2001, when the economy expanded 0.8 percent.

The 1.3 percent rise in the GDP for 2008 is counter to reports in the media claiming that the country's economy is in the worst shape since the Depression.

In 1982, domestic output contracted at 6.4 percent.

President Reagan's tax cuts are widely credited as reversing the downward economic trend.

Read it.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Backfire: Obama Declares War on Limbaugh

President Obama and an outside ally are stepping up efforts to ensure passage of the massive economic stimulus package.

Americans United for Change, a liberal group, will begin airing radio ads in three states Obama won — Ohio, Pennsylvania and Nevada — with a tough question aimed at the GOP senators there: Will you side with Obama or Rush Limbaugh?
“Every Republican member of the House chose to take Rush Limbaugh’s advice,” says the narrator after playing the conservative talk radio giant’s declaration that he hopes Obama “fails.”

“Every Republican voted with Limbaugh — and against creating 4 million new American jobs. We can understand why a extreme partisan like Rush Limbaugh wants President Obama’s Jobs program to fail — but the members of Congress elected to represent the citizens in their districts? That’s another matter. Now the Obama plan goes to the Senate, and the question is: Will our Senator"—here the ad is tailored by state to name George Voinovich in Ohio, Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, and John Ensign in Nevada—"side with Rush Limbaugh too?”
There is little evidence the so-called stimulus package is anything more than a massive Democrat spending budget that would create few if any of the jobs being pitched in talking points supporting its passage.

You can read the details of the bill here and here.

Rush Limbaugh responds: and a bunch of unions announced a series of TV ads going up tomorrow in several states aimed at scaring GOP Senators into voting for Obama's Porkulus Bill. The ads pit me against Obama.

Laughing Out Loud here. I am being Alinskied. Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, Number 13: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy.

I am being used to distract from the polls (Rasmussen) showing falling support for the Porkulus bill. Senate Republicans need to understand this is NOT about me. It is about them, about intimidating them, especially after the show of unity in House. It is about the 2010 and 2012 elections. This is an opportunity for Republicans to redefine themselves after a few years of wandering aimlessly looking for a "brand" and identity.

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Senate Banking Chairman Dodd Wants to Confiscate Wall Street Bonuses

In a post that appeared on The Hill blog late Thursday, Alexander Bolton reports Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) has vowed to use all legal means available to allow the government to forcefully confiscate Wall Street bonuses paid out at the end of last year.

Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, told reporters that he would press the Treasury Department to recoup the more than $18 billion in Wall Street bonuses paid out in 2008, according to The Hill.

The Hill report seems to indicate Dodd intends to confiscate bonuses paid whether or not taxpayer money was involved in those bonuses.
“If you do it I’m going to bring you before the committee and demand to know why you have the right to give those kind of benefits to people in the midst of this kind of crisis when American [taxpayers] are writing checks to underwrite this kind of activity,” Dodd said.
Dodd's remarks are particularly chilling as government, now under full control of Democrats, seeks to entrench itself throughout the free market in a wave of nationalism.

The New York state comptroller could not determine if taxpayer money was used to pay Wall Street bonuses in 2008.

Read it.

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House Vote on Stimulus Package (H.R.1, Roll Call 46)

Here is a breakdown of the U.S. House vote on 'Making supplemental appropriations for fiscal year ending 2009' or what the media is calling the House stimulus bill.

244 Democrats voted for the bill.

11 Democrats joined with Republicans in bi-partisan rejection of the spending package and voted against the bill:

Bright, AL
Griffith, AL
Boyd, FL
Minnick ID
Ellsworth, IN
Kratovil, MD
Peterson, MN
Taylor, MS
Shuler, NC
Kanjorski, PA
Cooper, TN

0 Republicans voted for the bill.

177 Republicans voted against the bill.

1 Republican did not vote: Virginia Brown-Waite, FL.


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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Media Misreports Gingrey Comments About Limbaugh

"I see eye-to-eye with Rush Limbaugh. Regardless of what yesterday’s headline may have read, I never told Rush to back off."
--Congressman Phil Gingrey
Major media outlets including The Politico, The New York Post, The Washington Times, and the Real Clear Politics blog reported yesterday that Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) is telling conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh to shut up.

Today Rep. Gingrey, whose comments were taken out of context and misreported, set the record straight. Here are Gingrey's comments taken from his Web site on the Rush misunderstanding:
Because of the high volume of phone calls and correspondence received by my office since the Politico article ran, I wanted to take a moment to speak directly to grassroots conservatives. Let me assure you, I am one of you. I believe I was sent to Washington to fight for and defend our traditional values of smaller government, lower taxes, a strong national defense, and the lives of the unborn. In my six years in Washington, I have led the charge on many of these issues. In fact, in 2008 The National Journal ranked me the #1 most conservative Member of the House of Representatives.

As long as I am in the Congress, I will continue to fight for and defend our sacred values. I have actively opposed every bailout, every rebate check, every so called “stimulus.” And on so many of these things, I see eye-to-eye with Rush Limbaugh. Regardless of what yesterday’s headline may have read, I never told Rush to back off. I regret and apologize for the fact that my comments have offended and upset my fellow conservatives—that was not my intent. I am also sorry to see that my comments in defense of our Republican Leadership read much harsher than they actually were intended, but I recognize it is my responsibility to clarify my own comments.

Now more than ever, we need to articulate a clear conservative message that distinguishes our values and our approach from those of liberal Democrats who are seeking to move our nation in the wrong direction. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, and other conservative giants are the voices of the conservative movement’s conscience. Everyday, millions and millions of Americans—myself included—turn on their radios and televisions to listen to what they have to say, and we are inspired by their words and by their determination. At the end of the day, every member of the conservative movement, from our political commentators and thinkers to our elected officials, share an important and common purpose in advancing the cause of liberty, reigning in a bloated federal government, and defending our traditional family values.
Read it.

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$335 Million in Stimulus for STDs

Because pork buried deep within the so-called job stimulus bill has been uncovered, Democrats may have eliminated provisions on birth control and sod for the National Mall -- but found deep on page 147 of the bill is economic stimulation for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

The House Democrats’ bill includes $335 million for sexually transmitted disease (STD) education and prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the DRUDGE REPORT reported today.
In the past, the CDC has used this STD education funding for programs that many Members of Congress find objectionable and arguably unrelated to a mission of economic stimulus [such as funding events called “Booty Call” and “Great Sex” put on by an organization that received $698,000 in government funds.]

"Whether this funding has merit is not the question; the point is it has no business in an economic plan supposedly focused on job creation," says a stimulated Hill source.
Read the bill.

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Obama's Pentagon No. 2 Pick Lobbyist Cash Ties Run Deep

Last week I reported here that on January 8, President-elect Barack Obama appointed William J. Lynn III, senior vice president of government operations at Raytheon Co., to become the No. 2 official at the Defense Department.

The 55 year old Lynn is a former Pentagon comptroller and Senate staffer. He was a registered lobbyist for Raytheon from 2003 through June 2008, according to the Obama transition team.

I reported at the time that as a lobbyist Lynn worked on Pentagon budget matters including contracting policy, the military's use of space, missile defense, munitions and artillery, sensors and radars and advanced technology programs. Raytheon is one of the military's top contractors, doing $18.3 billion in U.S. government business in 2007.

Under an executive order signed January 21, lobbyists must wait two years before accepting positions at federal agencies they have lobbied. The order also bans federal employees from accepting gifts and appointees from accepting jobs from lobbyists, and it requires greater transparency of government documents.

Writing at The Politico today, Kenneth P. Vogel notes that Lynn is in line for a payout of as much as $1.25 million in the coming weeks for his work as a lobbyist for Raytheon.

Lynn’s financial disclosure statement, filed two weeks ago with the Office of Government Ethics, also reveals that his financial connections to the company are deeper than previously known.
Lynn reported earning $369,615 from Raytheon last year as a senior vice president, He also reported 6,000 shares of restricted company stock worth between $500,000 and $1 million that will vest in February – at a time when he would be on the Pentagon payroll.

Plus, the statement shows that Lynn’s 2008 cash bonus of as much as $250,000 - “pursuant to previously established bonus target formula” – is payable in March.

Additionally, the statement, which pegs most assets only in ranges not precise values, shows Lynn owns "unvested restricted stock" in the company worth between $250,000 and $500,000.

Also, much of Lynn’s retirement is tied up with Raytheon, from a 401k plan worth more than $50,000 to a defined benefit plan that will begin paying him $4,320 a month in 2019.

Lynn has said he will sell his Raytheon stock. Obama also has decided to waive provisions of his new ethics policy specifically for Lynn, including a ban on former lobbyists going to work for agencies they lobbied.

Lynn’s other assets include stock in IBM and Formtek, Inc., a privately held Washington, D.C. software firm, as well as a variety of Goldman Sachs funds.
The Politico
Obama Pick for Pentagon No. 2 Stalls Amid Lobbying Concerns

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

WSJ: Stimulus Bill Nears $900 Billion Mark

The U.S. economic stimulus package neared $900 billion in the Senate, as President Barack Obama wooed Republicans ahead of an expected House vote Wednesday, according to a article released late Tuesday for Wednesday publication in The Wall Street Journal.
The rare trip by a president to Capitol Hill revealed the urgency in Congress and the White House over a cure for the souring economy. More than 70,000 layoffs were announced this week and fresh data showed U.S. unemployment last month rose in all 50 states.
The Journal reported that Tuesday was marked by Democratic deal-making to win support from skeptical Republicans. The Obama administration sweetened the deal by indicating it would add a $69 billion proposal to shield tens of millions of middle-income Americans from the so-called alternative minimum tax, a priority of Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. White House officials also spread the word that Mr. Obama was willing to drop a proposed expansion of contraceptive coverage under Medicaid that has become a symbol for Republican critics.
The magnitude of the spending bill, and its urgency, drew a swarm of lobbyists seeking money and tax breaks. The concrete and asphalt industries battled over how the government should spend billions proposed for road and bridge repairs, while dairy and beef cattle producers butted heads over talk that the government might buy up dairy cattle for slaughter to drive up depressed milk prices. Unions backed infrastructure spending. States sought budget bailouts.

[. . .]

The economic stimulus package proposed by Democratic House leaders includes three broad pieces: a $365.6 billion spending measure for such brick-and-mortar projects as highways and bridges; a $180 billion measure to boost jobless benefits and Medicaid, among other things; and a $275 billion tax-relief package, which includes a plan to give a $500 payroll tax holiday to all workers, a proposal from Mr. Obama's presidential campaign.
Read it.

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Read the Stimulus Package: The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009

The Read the Stimulus Web site allows you to search through the 1,500+ pages of spending in the The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009. It will take an army to discover everything packed into this.

We have all heard words of an era of increased transparency. With nearly a trillion dollars under debate in the proposed stimulus package, such transparency would be most useful right now: before we as a nation make irrevocable decisions about how to deal with the economic crisis that we face together.

Unfortunately, Congress remains mired in old procedures and processes, and almost seems to go out of its way to make it difficult for citizens to be able to read and understand legislation as it makes its way through the process of becoming law. The web makes great things possible: if it chose, Congress could easily make fully searchable, web-friendly versions of pending legislation available for citizens to comment upon.

But, it has not. And since nothing official along these lines has been forthcoming for the stimulus bill, this site aims to fill that gap, and make available as much information as possible about this critical legislation. With support from our partner organizations (see the left sidebar), we are presenting the various documents which together make up the stimulus bill in searchable format. Browse through a document of your choice, or use the search function to drill down to the topics that interest you most. And on any page of any document, you can contribute your own comments and thoughts --- and read those by fellow citizens.
Visit Read the Stimulus.

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List of Republicans Voting to Confirm Geithner

Here is a list of Republican U.S. Senators who voted with the 60 to confirm Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary:

Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Ensign (R-NV)
Gregg (R-NH)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Voinovich (R-OH)

Here is the list of Democrat U.S. Senators who joined with the small group of Republicans having doubts about Timothy Geithner:

Byrd (D-WV)
Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)
Sanders (I-VT)

Here is the list of U.S. Senators not voting:

Bond (R-MO)
Brown (D-OH)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Wyden (D-OR)


Updated to fix the misspelling of Timothy Geithner's last name. Please accept my apologies for the boneheaded error.

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Geithner Hires Lobbyist as Top Aide

Writing in The Politico, Jeanne Cummings reports newly installed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner issued new rules Tuesday restricting contacts with lobbyists – and then hired one to be his top aide.
Mark Patterson, a former advocate for Goldman Sachs, will serve as chief of staff to Geithner as the Treasury Department revamps the Wall Street bailout program that sent an infusion of cash to his former employer.

Patterson’s appointment marks the second time in President Barack Obama’s first week in office that the administration has had to explain how it’s complying with its own ethics rules as it hires a bevy of Washington insiders for administration jobs.
Patterson first began lobbying for Goldman Sachs in 2005, after working as policy director for then-Senate majority leader Tom Daschle. According to publicly filed lobbying disclosure records, he worked on issues related to the banking committee, climate change and carbon trading and immigration reform, among others.

Patterson is one of over a dozen recent lobbyists in line for important posts in the Obama administration, despite a presidential order severely restricting the role of lobbyists in his administration.

Sources: ABC News, Politico

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Top-10 Porkers in the Stimulus

What do $21 million worth of sod, $650 million in digital TV coupons, and $4.19 billion to the notoriously corrupt ACORN conspiracy have to do with stimulating the economy? Most people would agree: Absolutely nothing.

So now, without further ado, we present, in no particular order, ten of the fattest lipstick wearing pigs the so-called American Recovery and Reinvestment Act seeks to engorge at the expense of the hard-working taxpayer:

1. $4.19 billion to ACORN – According to House Minority Leader John Boehner’s website, the legislation makes ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) eligible for $4.19 billion for “neighborhood stabilization activities.” Although originally intended for other groups, House Democrats are pushing to make the money available to far left community organizations like ACORN.

ACORN’s numerous counts of voter registration fraud, federal investigations, and extensive role in the collapse of the housing market and subsequent financial meltdown are apparently of no concern to Congressional Democrats. After all, the Democrats owe them for all the hard work ACORN has done for them over the years—whether on or off the record.

2. $200 million for the beautification of the National Mall, including $21 million for sod – Although it probably won’t grow the economy or jobs, at least it will grow the grass. And that’s not the kind of green Americans desperately need now.

3. Over $200 million for contraceptives and the abortion industry – Perhaps one of the most controversial measures included in the “stimulus” bill is the plan to use taxpayer money to finance the expanded federal funding of contraceptives, “family planning” services, and abortions.

When asked on ABC how such a provision helps the economy, Nancy Pelosi offered up “no apologies”, remarking that the money would “reduce costs to the state and to the federal government,” apparently meaning that poor people are simply too much of a drain.

4. $650 million for digital TV coupons – When the national February 17th transition to digital television ensues, Democrats insist—to the tune of $650 million—that the American people must continue to watch their TVs. After all, how else would the public receive their left-wing propaganda that passes for news? Heaven knows the internet and radio news outlets are much more balanced and far less sympathetic to the Big Government agenda than their television counterparts.

5. $136 billion for the creation of at least 32 new government programs – As Representative Boehner’s website explains, more than a third of H.R.1’s spending provisions would go towards growing the government—not the economy.

6. $600 million for new cars for the federal bureaucrats – Although Democrats are doing all they can to encourage Americans to sacrifice their planet-warming vehicles on the altar of environmentalism, they are ensuring that those in the government will have a garage-full of shiny new cars to take out on afternoon drives around the lush National Mall.

7. $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts – In short, elitism lives.

8. $6 billion for colleges and universities – As Mr. Boehner also points out, many of these higher learning institutions already have billion dollar endowments. And, as ALG News Bureau has pointed out, taxpayer financed four-year colleges are as exorbitant as they may be antiquated.

9. $300 billion to bail out state governments – Even the fiscally inept states like California and New York are asking for a federal bailout. It appears the days of state governments taking care of themselves and balancing their own budgets are over. And, of course, the federal government is more than willing to capitulate. As Representative Boehner remarked:
““[P]roviding $300 billion of this package to states—$166 billion in direct aid to the states, another $140 billion in education funding—this is not going to do anything, anything to stimulate our economy, to help the—our ailing economy.”
10. Increased spending on over 150 different federal programs – In their “targeted” plan, Democrats have embraced a shot-gun approach to funding such programs as Amtrak, despite the fact that only a minuscule number of Americans use—or ever can use—the service.

Source: Bill Wilson

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Video: Obama's 1st TV Interview as President With Arab Network


President Barack Obama gave his first formal television interview as president to an Arabic cable TV network, telling Al-Arabiya that when it comes to Middle East matters "all too often the United States starts by dictating."

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Obama's 1st Formal Interview as President is With Al-Arabiya

ABC News' Jake Tapper reports Monday that President Obama has sat for his first formal TV interview with the Arabic cable TV network Al-Arabiya.

Al Arabiya is an international news station is based in Dubai Media City, United Arab Emirates, and is partly owned by the Saudi-controlled broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC).

Al Arabiya had been banned from reporting from Iraq by the country's interim government in November 2003 after it broadcast an audio tape on November 16 purportedly made by the deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

In some reports, the network has been accused of being particularly pro-Saudi because of its ownership ties.

Read it

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List of Republicans Voting to Confirm Geithner

Here is a list of Republican U.S. Senators who voted with the 60 to confirm Geithner as Treasury Secretary:

Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Ensign (R-NV)
Gregg (R-NH)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Voinovich (R-OH)

Here is the list of Democrat U.S. Senators who joined with the small group of Republicans having doubts about Geithner:

Byrd (D-WV)
Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)
Sanders (I-VT)

Here is the list of U.S. Senators not voting:

Bond (R-MO)
Brown (D-OH)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Wyden (D-OR)


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