DoD braces for a fight with Pelosi Pentagon officials are bracing for a fight with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over her desire to allow lawmakers’ adult children to tag along on taxpayer-funded travel for free.Pentagon officials are bracing for a fight with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over her desire to allow lawmakers’ adult children to tag along on taxpayer-funded travel for free.

DoD braces for a fight with Pelosi
June 14, 2007
Pentagon officials are bracing for a fight with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over her desire to allow lawmakers’ adult children to tag along on taxpayer-funded travel for free.

Pelosi wants them to be able to fill the role of lawmakers’ spouses when the latter are unable to make a trip because of health issues or work commitments.


“It has been longstanding policy that, in the absence of a congressional spouse, the adult child of a member of Congress may accompany the member on official U.S. government travel abroad for protocol reasons and without reimbursing the U.S.
Treasury,” Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said. “Speaker Pelosi believes that a modern policy must reflect the professional responsibilities or health realities that might prevent a spouse from participating, and instead permit an adult child to fulfill the protocol needs of the official trip.”

Pentagon officials say the policy is that the Treasury must be reimbursed at commercial rates for children who accompany members on such trips, often called codels.

Pelosi’s office inquired about such travel on June 1, according to a Department of Defense memo obtained by The Hill.
In a June 8 memo, the head of legislative affairs for the Pentagon, Robert L. Wilkie, told Defense Secretary Robert Gates that he sees Pelosi’s question as a first step toward challenging the policy.

“We were told that the Speaker would expect that members’ children (of married and unmarried [members of Congress]) would not have to reimburse the Treasury,” Wilkie wrote. “We expect future challenges from the House leadership on this policy.”

Pentagon aides did not respond to requests for comment.

But taxpayer watchdog groups and ethics advocates said they were surprised Pelosi would seek more perks for members.

“One of the things she was praised for when she came in was her sweeping reforms on gifts and travel,” said Craig Holman of Public Citizen. “It is very disheartening if she is, in fact, backsliding on this.”

Public Citizen filed a complaint with the IRS last year, saying that family members who receive free travel by accompanying lawmakers should pay taxes on the travel’s value. The complaint focused on privately sponsored travel, but Holman said it should apply to taxpayer-funded travel as well.

“I don’t see any difference,” Holman said.

In its first week with a Democratic majority this year, the House passed what Pelosi called “the toughest congressional ethics reform in history.” It forbade gifts and travel from lobbyists and banned travel on corporate jets. It did not address publicly funded travel such as codels.

Lawmakers’ children currently can travel gratis if they get a waiver, termed an “invitation,” from the secretary of defense, according to Dan Stanley, a former assistant secretary for legislative affairs at the Pentagon. He said it was rare for a lawmaker to travel with his or her children.

“Children have always flown as an exception to policy,” Stanley said. “I’m unaware of any substantial policy that would allow children to take the representational role of a spouse.”

The president’s family, such as President Bush’s twin daughters, can travel without reimbursement. They cannot fly commercially for security reasons.

But most executive-branch officials either do not bring family members on military aircraft or reimburse, Stanley said.
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would fly with his wife back to Taos, N.M., he said, but was scrupulous about reimbursing.

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All Roads Of Incompetence Lead To Hillary

All Roads Of Incompetence Lead To Hillary

At least America likes Congress less than the President. The country is at an historical level of pessimism. Which is fine, because we’re only in the middle of World War III.

Bleak Mood Drags Down
Support for Bush, Congress

By JOHN HARWOOD, Wall Street Journal
June 13, 2007 8:08 p.m.

An increasingly gloomy political environment has soured Americans on
President Bush and Congress, scrambled the Republicans’ 2008 field,
and strengthened Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton’s
, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

As the Iraq war drags on and Washington is embroiled in inconclusive
policy debates, just 19% of Americans now say the nation is headed in
the right direction. More than three times that proportion, 68%, say
things in the U.S. are “off on the wrong track.” That’s approaching
the most pessimistic mood in the history of the WSJ/NBC poll.

(Read More)

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It’s Over

It’s Over

The Palestinian President dissolves the government as Gaza descends into a ring of fire

Murder in the streets and the fall

Hamas Crushes

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Terrorists’ Bill of Rights

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Freedom, not climate, is at risk

Freedom, not climate, is at risk

By Vaclav Klaus

Published: June 13 2007 17:44 | Last updated: June 13 2007 17:44

We are living in strange times. One exceptionally warm winter is enough – irrespective of the fact that in the course of the 20th century the global temperature increased only by 0.6 per cent – for the environmentalists and their followers to suggest radical measures to do something about the weather, and to do it right now.

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Vaclav KlausIs climate change just propaganda? Vaclav Klaus will answer your questions in an online Q&A. Post a query now

In the past year, Al Gore’s so-called “documentary” film was shown in cinemas worldwide, Britain’s – more or less Tony Blair’s – Stern report was published, the fourth report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was put together and the Group of Eight summit announced ambitions to do something about the weather. Rational and freedom-loving people have to respond. The dictates of political correctness are strict and only one permitted truth, not for the first time in human history, is imposed on us. Everything else is denounced.

The author Michael Crichton stated it clearly: “the greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda”. I feel the same way, because global warming hysteria has become a prime example of the truth versus propaganda problem. It requires courage to oppose the “established” truth, although a lot of people – including top-class scientists – see the issue of climate change entirely differently. They protest against the arrogance of those who advocate the global warming hypothesis and relate it to human activities.

As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning.

The environmentalists ask for immediate political action because they do not believe in the long-term positive impact of economic growth and ignore both the technological progress that future generations will undoubtedly enjoy, and the proven fact that the higher the wealth of society, the higher is the quality of the environment. They are Malthusian pessimists.

The scientists should help us and take into consideration the political effects of their scientific opinions. They have an obligation to declare their political and value assumptions and how much they have affected their selection and interpretation of scientific evidence.

Does it make any sense to speak about warming of the Earth when we see it in the context of the evolution of our planet over hundreds of millions of years? Every child is taught at school about temperature variations, about the ice ages, about the much warmer climate in the Middle Ages. All of us have noticed that even during our life-time temperature changes occur (in both directions).

Due to advances in technology, increases in disposable wealth, the rationality of institutions and the ability of countries to organise themselves, the adaptability of human society has been radically increased. It will continue to increase and will solve any potential consequences of mild climate changes.

I agree with Professor Richard Lindzen from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who said: “future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st century’s developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a roll-back of the industrial age”.

The issue of global warming is more about social than natural sciences and more about man and his freedom than about tenths of a degree Celsius changes in average global temperature.

As a witness to today’s worldwide debate on climate change, I suggest the following:
■Small climate changes do not demand far-reaching restrictive measures
■Any suppression of freedom and democracy should be avoided
■Instead of organising people from above, let us allow everyone to live as he wants
■Let us resist the politicisation of science and oppose the term “scientific consensus”, which is always achieved only by a loud minority, never by a silent majority
■Instead of speaking about “the environment”, let us be attentive to it in our personal behaviour
■Let us be humble but confident in the spontaneous evolution of human society. Let us trust its rationality and not try to slow it down or divert it in any direction
■Let us not scare ourselves with catastrophic forecasts, or use them to defend and promote irrational interventions in human lives.

The writer is President of the Czech Republic

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I pledge allegiance…

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Happy Flag Day–and Happy Birthday, Army

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China Attempting Cyberspace Dominance

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Barack Obama Campaign: No Answer to Hate Charges

Barack Obama Campaign: No Answer to Hate Charges

by Bill Levinson

We just called the Obama campaign at (866) 675-2008 in response to yet another E-mail in which Barack Obama asked for our support, and talked about the success of his Walk for Change event last Saturday. We hope that any Walk for Change volunteers who collected money or financial pledges from the people they contacted were sufficiently ethical to retrace their steps and return the money when they learned about Obama’s blatant connections with hate organizations and hate mongers who promote anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of hatred that have no place in our society.

The Obama volunteer’s response to our concerns was that Obama is not a racist or anti-Semite, that she had other calls to take, and if we didn’t want to receive Obama’s E-mails, we should unsubscribe. (We never subscribed to them in the first place, although we did E-mail the Obama campaign with our concerns about his association with Al Sharpton and his National Action Network, and We received, in addition to unsolicted bulk E-mail, a flippant response to the effect that “people can disagree without being disagreeable.” Bottom line: Obama and his campaign manager David Ploufe are telling us that they will associate with whatever Jew-haters, racists, and Catholic-baiters they please as long as the money keeps flowing in.

We told the person at Obama headquarters politely but firmly that we will be unable to vote for Obama next year no matter what the Republicans put up, because of his open association with racists, anti-Semites, and other prominent bigots. These include explicitly and most prominently Al Sharpton, whose followers were responsible for two incidents of anti-Semitic violence (Crown Heights and Freddy’s Fashion Mart) in which people were killed. We made it clear that Sharpton and his people had used racist and/or anti-Semitic terms in both incidents, and that Sharpton’s followers had yelled “Kill the Jews” in the Crown Heights incident. Yankel Rosenbaum was the Jew whom they killed.

Plenty of other things can be said about Sharpton’s prolific use of derogatory terms for white people, Jews, gay people (”Greek homos”), and even Black people whom he dislikes (specifically the N word), although we did not have time to discuss them with the Obama campaign’s representative this afternoon. Suffice to say that, if we inverted the colors in this picture, we would have a Caucasian candidate standing arm in arm with the Klan’s David Duke or the White Aryan Resistance’s Tom Metzger.

We added that Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright consorted with Louis Farrakhan, who called Judiasm a “gutter religion” and the Pope the Antichrist. (The two went to Libya to visit Moammar Khadafy, although we did not mention that. Also note that Al Sharpton said that Farrakhan is not an anti-Semite.) Furthermore, Obama accepted money from a fundraiser hosted by a former Knicks player (Allan Houston) who, with a teammate, effectively called Jews “Christ Killers.” They said, to be precise, that Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death.

Finally there was the matter of, which published a derogatory picture of Pope Benedict while welcoming anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic hate speech at its Action Forum. Obama appeared at a MoveOn PAC event.

The Obama representative nonetheless denied that Obama consorts with hatemongers, and was very unapologetic about his conduct. As we all know, “Denial” is not a river in Egypt. The key point is, however, that Obama’s people will deny in the face of overwhelming evidence, including pictures of Obama arm in arm with a prominent racist and anti-Semite, that Obama consorts with hatemongers. It is now eminently clear that money is more important to Barack Obama than principles or ethics, and that his phony smile is nothing more than hype.

Posted by Bill Levinson @ 3:59 pm |

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Tehran’s tentacles

Tehran’s tentacles

June 14, 2007

It’s impossible to talk about Hamas, apparently on the verge of vanquishing a rival Palestinian faction in Gaza on Wednesday, without talking about Iran. Iran has been arming Hamas terrorists via smuggling tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border. A Hamas takeover of Gaza would create immense new security problems for Israel and potentially carve out a terrorist haven in the region.

It’s impossible to talk about the murder of another prominent anti-Syrian lawmaker in Lebanon, his car blown up Wednesday in Beirut, without talking about Iran and its partner, Syria. Anything that weakens the democratically elected anti-Syrian government in Beirut strengthens the influence of Syria and Iran in Lebanon. Tehran is funding and arming Hezbollah terrorists via Syria, and has rearmed them since Hezbollah’s war against Israel last summer. Syria desperately hopes to thwart a UN tribunal recently established to try suspects — possibly including some top Syrian officials — in the 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

It’s impossible to talk about the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan without noting that Iran is now apparently helping to arm its erstwhile arch foes. On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that sizable shipments of Iranian weapons are flowing to the Taliban, probably with the knowledge of the Iranian government. That’s astonishing because only a few years ago the Iranians were reportedly helping the U.S. destroy the despised Sunni fundamentalists of the Taliban. Could Tehran be operating under the premise that the enemy of my enemy is my friend?

It’s impossible to view the Wednesday bombing of two minarets at the revered Shiite shrine of Askariya in Iraq — raising the threat of a renewed sectarian bloodbath — without acknowledging that any setback for the U.S. security plan is a victory for Tehran. The mullahs, who’ve pledged to “help” stabilize Iraq, actually are funding violent Shiite militias. They may also be supplying lethal roadside bombs that can penetrate even some armored vehicles to Shiite extremists in Iraq. Tehran wins by keeping Iraq just unstable enough to be a pliant and unthreatening neighbor.

In short, it’s impossible to view the serious violence that erupted across the Middle East on Wednesday — and the portents for even greater trouble in the region — without tracing the significant and rising influence of Iran.

Now imagine a Tehran with nuclear weapons — and the ability to spread nuclear expertise to its terrorist clients throughout the region.

That is what the world faces. Tehran has proclaimed its progress in enriching uranium, a sure path to an atomic bomb. It’s toying with International Atomic Energy Agency officials, setting up a meeting to allegedly come clean on its past nuclear work, then canceling it at the last minute.

Iran has tromped through deadline after UN-imposed deadline to freeze its outlaw nuclear program. The last one passed three weeks ago. There were threats of more sanctions. But so far, nothing. That fecklessness only gives Iran the widest possible leeway to underwrite terrorists across the region.

Wednesday was a good day for Iran, one of many in recent months. It was a bad day for those who seek peace and democracy in the Middle East. If those ideals are to have any chance to flourish in the region, then Iran’s going to have to have more bad days than good ahead.Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

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