Obama to seal US-UN relationship–Barack Obama will cement the new co-operative relationship between the US and the United Nations this month when he becomes the first American president to chair its 15-member Security Council.

Obama to seal US-UN relationship

By Harvey Morris at the United Nations

Published: September 8 2009 19:59 | Last updated: September 8 2009 19:59

Barack Obama will cement the new co-operative relationship between the US and the United Nations this month when he becomes the first American president to chair its 15-member Security Council.

The topic for the summit-level session of the council on September 24 is nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament – one of several global challenges that the US now wants to see addressed at a multinational level.

“The council has a very important role to play in preventing the spread and use of nuclear weapons, and it’s the world’s principal body for dealing with global security cooperation,” Susan Rice, US envoy to the UN, said last week.

Her remarks were the latest by the Obama administration to emphasise a shift from the strategy of the previous Bush administration, sometimes criticised by its UN partners for seeking to use the world body principally to endorse its own unilateral policies. The US currently holds the month-long rotating presidency of the Security Council.

Mr Obama will join other heads of government in New York during the week of the nuclear summit for the opening of the 64th session of the UN General Assembly. The annual meeting of world leaders is this year raising expectations on a number of fronts.

UN officials hope a climate change debate on September 22 will give fresh impetus to the search for a global climate deal at Copenhagen in December. There are also hopes a possible meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president, that Mr Obama would host, could lead to a breakthrough about a timetable for Middle East peace.

Heads of state are also likely to consider how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Mr Obama gave Tehran a September deadline to reply to his offer of negotiations. Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad will attend the General Assembly “to encourage Iranian views in managing the world,” an aide said.

US officials are concerned Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi might try to steal the limelight during his first visit to New York. A public outcry at the Libyan leader’s visit after he last month welcomed home Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the freed Lockerbie bomber, has already stymied his plans to pitch his tent in Central Park.

“How President Gaddafi chooses to comport himself, when he attends the General Assembly and the Security Council in New York, has the potential either to further aggravate those feelings and emotions or not,” Ms Rice said.

The State Department has not ruled out the possibility that Mr Obama and Colonel Gaddafi would cross paths. They are both due to address the General Assembly on the same day, and the Libyan leader, whose country is a temporary member of the Security Council, is entitled to attend the nuclear summit session that Mr Obama will chair.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009. Print a single copy of this article for personal use. Contact us if you wish to print more to distribute to others.

Obama open to ‘sin tax’ on fizzy drinks to stem obesity — He needs to get out of our lives !!!!!!!

Obama open to ‘sin tax’ on fizzy drinks to stem obesity
Sep 8 02:16 PM US/Eastern
President Barack Obama hinted he could support a “sin tax” on fizzy drinks to help lower high rates of US obesity, but admitted it would be an uphill battle against corporate and economic interests.”I actually think it’s an idea that we should be exploring,” Obama said in the forthcoming issue of Men’s Health, regarding potential taxes levied on soft drinks such as colas and other sugar-filled products.

“There’s no doubt that our kids drink way too much soda. And every study that’s been done about obesity shows that there is as high a correlation between increased soda consumption and obesity as just about anything else,” he said in excerpts released ahead of the magazine’s mid-September publication.

The president — reported to be one of the fittest US commanders-in-chief in decades — stressed that “obviously there is resistance on Capitol Hill to those kinds of sin taxes.

“Legislators from certain states that produce sugar or corn syrup are sensitive to anything that might reduce demand for those products,” he said.

In addition, “people’s attitude is that they don’t necessarily want Big Brother telling them what to eat or drink, and I understand that,” Obama added.

“It is true, though, that if you wanted to make a big impact on people?s health in this country, reducing things like soda consumption would be helpful.”

His comments come just six weeks after US health experts told a national conference on obesity in Washington that a significant portion of increased caloric intake in recent decades can be directly attributed to soft drinks and other sugared foods and drinks.

The president is currently embroiled in the most compelling domestic priority of his presidency, a reform of the US health care system.

Obama, who said he works out nearly every day in order to clear his head and reduce stress, described himself as “a healthy eater” with low blood pressure.

He keeps a bowl of apples in the Oval Office. “It was our first step toward health reform,” he said.

Two-thirds of American adults are obese or overweight and obesity-related illnesses cost the United States nearly 150 billion dollars a year, health officials were told at the July conference.


Why Organized Labor Supports Government Health Care

Why Organized Labor Supports Government Health Care
WebMemo #2605

Unions strongly support President Obama’s health care reform, which includes a plan for a government-run “public option” that would crowd out private health insurance. Labor publicly argues that the current health care system serves Americans poorly. However, unions also have self-interested motives for promoting government-run health care:

  • The legislation includes a $10 billion bailout of union retiree health plans;
  • Nationalized health care would lead to millions of new dues-paying union members as government employees unionize more frequently than private sector workers; and
  • National health care would also reduce unionized companies’ competitive disadvantage. 

However, unions do not support all health care reform plans. When Senators proposed taxing health benefits to pay for health care reform–a tax that would disproportionately fall on union members–the labor movement threatened to derail the legislation. Union support for health care reform is highly self-interested.

Unions Pushing for Government Health Care

Unions strongly support health care reform and have made supporting a “public plan” that would lead to a government-run single-payer system their top priority. In fact, after opponents protested at town hall meetings this summer, the AFL-CIO spent $15 million to stage counter-demonstrations with union members.[1]

Why has organized labor made government-dominated health care such a priority? The AFL-CIO publicly argues that the “real-world toll of soaring health care costs, lack of insurance and systemic flaws in our health care system must come to an end.”[2] They further state that their goal “is to win secure, high-quality health care for all.”[3] Many union leaders and activists do genuinely believe this. However, the labor movement has not spent such large sums of money campaigning for health care reform out of disinterested concern for the common good: Unions will benefit immensely if the government takes over the health care system.

Taxpayer Bailout

The most obvious benefit President Obama’s health care plan provides to organized labor is a $10 billion taxpayer bailout for underfunded retiree health benefit plans. Many unions negotiate benefit packages that allow workers to retire early and collect health benefits until they qualify for Medicare. Many of these plans they are underfunded because unions mismanaged them.[4]

The healthcare legislation transfers $10 billion to these accounts, in the form of a reinsurance program that pays most of the cost of claims for workers in these plans.[5] Like the GM and Chrysler bailouts, the health care legislation requires all taxpayers–including low income workers without retirement plans–to pay for benefits for already well-compensated union workers.

Government Health Care Facilitates Unionization

Government-dominated health care would transform union organizing. Whether or not the government explicitly nationalizes the health care industry, government funding and government-dictated standards eliminate competition. Under health care reform, unionized hospitals would not face a competitive disadvantage because no competition would exist. All health care workers would become quasi-public employees. Whatever costs unions increased would be passed on to the taxpayer and not threaten union members’ jobs. For instance, taxpayers would cover the costs of reduced productivity due to inflexible union work rules. Prospective union members would know this and, as a result, become more likely to unionize. Every step toward government-run health insurance vastly simplifies the process of organizing new union members and keeping existing union members employed.

This is precisely what happened in Canada, a nation culturally and economically similar to the United States, but with government-run single payer health care. While only 18 percent of nurses belong to unions in the United States, 78 percent do in Canada.[6] A full 61 percent of all Canadian health care workers belong to unions, well above the 11 percent in the United States.[7]

Given these figures, it is no wonder that the Service Employees International Union supports government-dominated health care so strongly. The SEIU represents health care workers. Under a government-run health care system, the SEIU could easily organize millions of new members who would then pay billions of dollars in mandatory dues. For example, if unions organized nurses at the same rate in America as they do under Canada’s national health care system, they would bring in two million new members paying roughly $1.8 billion a year in dues.[8] Whatever its effects on the overall quality of health care, government health care would bring a financial windfall to the labor movement.

Reduce Unions Competitive Disadvantages

Unions who do not represent health care workers will also benefit from this law because it reduces competition. Unions negotiate gold-plated health benefits for their members that raise their employer’s costs. Such expensive benefits, however, put unionized firms at a competitive disadvantage.

However, if the government provided health care coverage through insurance exchanges, then taxpayers–not consumers–would foot the bill for health costs. This would reduce unionized companies competitive disadvantage.

Unions Oppose Legislation They Must Pay For

Union support for health care reform does, however, have its limits. In particular, organized labor does not support health care reform for which it might have to help pay. 

For example, Senate Democrats considered paying for the health care reform through taxing employer-provided health benefits. Such taxes would have fallen heavily on union members, since both private and public sector unions have negotiated expensive health benefit plans.

When news reports leaked that the Senate was considering such taxes the labor movement moved to quickly derail that idea. A coalition of 30 major unions sent letters to the Senate expressing their “strong opposition to any proposal that would pay for this reform by altering the tax treatment of employer provided health care.”[9] Behind the scenes Organized Labor made it clear they opposed and would defeat any health reform that taxed employer health benefits.[10]

Organized labor supports health care reform only insofar as it benefits unions and their members. Despite their public arguments that the “real-world toll of soaring health care costs, lack of insurance and systemic flaws in our health care system must come to an end,” the union movement will not sacrifice its own interests “to win secure, high-quality health care for all.”[11]

A Financial Windfall for Unions

Unions claim that they support health care reform out of concern for workers’ well-being. Many union leaders genuinely do, but the labor movement as a whole fights for government-run health care out of self interest. The health care reform legislation includes a $10 billion bailout of underfunded union health plans. More significantly, a government takeover of the health care sector would ease union organizing by eliminating competition and turning health care workers into quasi-public employees, as has happened in Canada. Unions would collect billions of dollars of new dues from millions of new workers. Government health care also reduces the competitive disadvantage unionized companies face in the marketplace.

Health care reform means a financial windfall for unions. However, unions oppose health care reform for which they must pay. Congress should not pass any “public plan” that would lead to the government directly or indirectly controlling health insurance at the behest of self-interested union lobbying.

James Sherk is Bradley Fellow in Labor Policy in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation.

[1]Kris Maher and Naftali Bendavid, “Supporters of Healthcare Change Prepare Counter Attack,” The Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2009, at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125021125639331005.html?mod=google
(September 4, 2009).

[2]AFL-CIO Working Families e-Activist Network, “Support Real Healthcare Reform,” at http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/healthcare2009 (September 4, 2009).

[3]AFL-CIO, “Health Care Fix,” at http://aflcio.org/issues/healthcare/fix.cfm (September 4, 2009).

[4]Justin Hyde and Todd Spangler, “$10 Billion Aimed at Union Retirees,” The Detroit Free Press, August 24, 2009, at http://www.freep.com/article
(September 4, 2009).

[5]Ibid. The reinsurance program covers 80 percent of claims between $15,000 and $90,000 for retired workers between the ages of 55 and 64 who currently have retiree health benefit plans.

[6]Heritage Foundation calculations using data from Barry T. Hirsch and David A. Macpherson, “Union Membership and Coverage Database from the Current Population Survey,” Unionstats.com, at http://www.unionstats.com , and Statistics Canada, “Perspectives on Labor and Income: Unionization,” August 2009, Table 2, at http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-001-x/topics
(September 4, 2009).


[8] Heritage Foundation calculations using data from http://www.unionstats.com and the LM-2 forms filed with the Department of Labor by the SEIU Local 1199. This figure assumes that union membership rises from 18.1 percent to 78.3 percent among the 3.3 million nurses employed in the United States and that each nurse pays $75 a month in union dues.

[9]“Teamsters Urge Congress to Reject Proposals to Tax Employer-Provided Health Benefits,” letter from the Teamsters and other major unions to the U.S. Senate, June 9, 2009, at http://www.teamster.org/content/teamsters
(September 4, 2008).

[10]Keith Koffler “Labor Puts President on Notice Over Health Tax,” Roll Call, June 18, 2009, at http://www.rollcall.com/issues/54_148/news/35990
(September 4, 2009).

[11]AFL-CIO Working Families e-Activist Network, “Support Real Healthcare Reform,” at http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/healthcare2009, and AFL-CIO, “Health Care Fix,” at http://www.aflcio.org/issues/healthcare/fix.cfm (September 4, 2009).

Once Upon a Time . . .Whatever happened to the old Barack Obama?

Once Upon a Time . . .
Whatever happened to the old Barack Obama?

By Victor Davis Hanson

Once upon a time, a fresh new politician, Barack Obama — black, young, eloquent, and hip — soared with rhetoric about hope and change. The people were mesmerized. What a contrast with the tongue-tied outgoing president, George W. Bush, and his unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan!

Presidential Candidate Obama sensed their ecstasy, and so he made two great promises: 1. Whatever Bush was, he would not be, and 2. despite the right-wing slander about his former intimacy with Bill Ayers, the Reverend Wright, Father Pfleger, Rashid Khalidi, and all his other old Chicago radical friends, Obama would be a centrist, a cooler version of Bill Clinton. There were to be no more red/blue state divides. The most partisan politician in the Senate promised a new era of bipartisanship. He who had profited from identity politics would suddenly be beyond race.

The people were considering voting for this unknown, fresh, hope-and-change candidate — a decision made easier after the financial meltdown of mid-September 2008. They decided then that they wanted a new-frontier moderate, a JFK for the 21st century, who would put competence and style over ideology — and clean up the financial mess left by Wall Street and the greedy Republicans.

Obama also promised that he would craft a foreign policy from the bipartisan center, while making us liked abroad once more. During the campaign, to reassure the doubtful, he name-dropped at length Republicans with whom he would consult: old centrist pros like Dick Lugar and Bob Gates, as well as four-star generals.

But having been elected, President Obama sensed that, just maybe, the United States was part of the problem rather than the solution. So he shunned Israel and warmed up to Syria and the Palestinians. He cut off relations with Honduras. He ignored our ally Colombia while reaching out to Castro, Chavez, and Ortega. Putin’s Russia received more deference than did most of Russia’s old vassals in Eastern Europe. The British were snubbed in gratuitous fashion.

When hundreds of thousands of Iranian dissidents went out in the streets to protest their theocracy’s rigged voting, Obama voted present — or perhaps accepted beforehand that the reformers would fail. After all, dealing with a lunatic revolutionary Iranian government would showcase far better his own singular multicultural finesse.

Meanwhile, Obama went on an apology tour abroad. He inflated the accomplishments of the Islamic world, magnified his own country’s sins, and once again blamed Bush for America’s global unpopularity. In short, it was not intrinsic differences in ideology and objectives, but the prior president, that explained the tension with Europe, Iran, North Korea, and Russia.

A common theme was that the new president, Barack Obama — suddenly referencing his family’s Muslim roots and his African lineage in a way that others dared not during the campaign — was as skeptical of America’s history as were its critics, who likewise doubted there was anything “exceptional” about American democracy.

During the campaign, Nominee Obama talked of fiscal sobriety. He damned the Bush deficits. And he warned voters that his comprehensive agenda might have to wait a bit while we put our financial house in order. From time to time, Obama brought old Paul Volcker out of the closet and proclaimed him a key adviser — the subtext being that Obama, too, was an inflation fighter, a budget balancer, and a fiscal hawk of the first order. The likes of Warren Buffett assured us that all this fiscal seriousness was authentic. So the people were relieved and found another reason to vote for the moderate — only to be shocked when he submitted a budget nearly $2 trillion in the red, with plans to add $9 trillion more to the soaring national debt.

In the spring and summer of 2008, when gas soared and right-wingers started chanting “Drill, baby, drill,” Barack Obama replied to his rival, John McCain, that all America’s energy cards would be on the table — oil, gas, nuclear, and new sources of petroleum in tar and shale. The wavering voters were once more relieved, and encouraged that their would-be president was an American nationalist who wanted to use our own energy as we transitioned to wind and solar.

But then gas prices dropped. Obama was elected — and there would be no new offshore drilling after all, no promise to use clean coal, and little if anything planned about nuclear power. Instead, Americans got one Van Jones, some sort of environmental “czar,” who had a long history of ritually trashing the American economy, American agriculture, and American coal producers — while derogating George W. Bush as a “crack-head” oilman as addicted to petroleum as an addict is to cocaine. (Presumably Mr. Jones does not fly to his many conferences on carbon-spewing jets and is not picked up by gasoline-burning taxis.)

“Distortions!” Candidate Obama screamed, when charged with wanting a Canadian-style health-care system. All he wanted to do, Obama swore, was lower our costs and insure the uninsured. But then President Obama somehow demanded that a 1,000-page blueprint of a proposed government takeover of the nation’s health care be voted on before August recess — as if even one more month of treating patients the way we have for the last 100 years simply would be too much.

Once upon a time, Candidate Obama also assured skeptical voters that he would show us how to transcend race. He was no Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, who used skin color and white guilt for careerist purposes. The Reverend Wright, “typical white person,” Michelle Obama’s “downright mean country,” and the Pennsylvania “clingers” remark were mere aberrations of the exhausting campaign, hyped by the shameless right wing.

But soon the people got the attorney general of the United States calling them racial cowards and dismissing voter-intimidation suits against club-wielding Black Panthers who had swarmed voting booths. Cambridge police were relegated to Neanderthal profilers who stereotyped the innocent, such as Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. Environment czar Van Jones warned of white conspiracies to pollute the ghetto and bragged that blacks, unlike whites, did not go on public-school shooting sprees. The nation’s most powerful politicians, like House Ways and Means chairman Charlie Rangel and New York governor David Paterson, for some strange reason, were suddenly victims of racial bias, which alone explained their travails. All this was not supposed to happen in the age of Obama.

Bush trampled on the Constitution, Candidate Obama alleged. Without a major terrorist attack against the homeland in seven years, the voters had the luxury to consider those charges. They seemed to agree that Bush and Cheney were nearly as much a threat to our freedoms as was Osama bin Laden.

But soon President Obama read the classified intelligence briefings. Suddenly military tribunals, renditions, the PATRIOT Act, Predator assassinations, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were not just Bush conspiracies after all, but serious, necessary tools of American overseas contingency operations to thwart real man-caused disasters. The media, Hollywood, and the intelligentsia agreed, and thus Code Pink, Michael Moore, and a screaming Al Gore either quieted down or dropped out the news.

No lobbyists, Obama thundered during the campaign — not one! — would serve in his administration. Impending legislation would appear on government web sites for the people’s perusal. White House logs would be available from Day One to enlighten the voters about who did and did not enter the people’s house.

Cabinet nominees and officials would be beyond ethical reproach. Speaker Pelosi would “drain the swamp,” end the “culture of corruption,” and ensure the “the most ethical Congress ever.” There would be no more plants at news conference; no staged questions from administration hacks; no serial presidential addresses hogging the airways at prime time; no constant press conferences of a media-hungry president; no direct talks to school kids on state television screens.

Barack Obama, you see, had felt the pulse of the people. He was an old-pro community organizer, a street-savvy politician who had encouraged dissent and vocal protest.

But then President Obama appointed lobbyists. For months he forgot all about the White House logs and websites. His cabinet nominees had strange habits, such as not paying their taxes despite advocating higher rates for everyone else. Obama’s face was everywhere; he held more press conferences in eight months than did Bush in eight years. Questions and questioners were on occasion planted or staged.

The community organizing and protests of others now became regrettable, even unpatriotic. Criticism of the establishment was the work of brownshirts, mobs, Nazis, and the selfish, who had no moral or religious concern about the health of others and were envious of the success of their president. Insurance companies wanted even more astronomical profits. Doctors were greedy and took out tonsils needlessly for profit. Surgeons rushed to lop off diabetics’ limbs for princely sums of $50,000 and more.

The new town-hallers and tea-partiers who went to meetings and press conferences and protested their government were not Chicago-style hoi polloi, but counterrevolutionaries or insurance toadies who feared real reformers. The dissidents were, of course, also racists. These inauthentic Astroturfers simply could not tolerate a black president and so, like the doomed dinosaurs, they mindlessly bellowed out at the new landscape that they could not live within.

Once upon a time the people deluded themselves into thinking a suave extremist was to be their nuts-and-bolts centrist. Now they don’t know whether to be mad at him or themselves — or both.

Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. © 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

National Review Online – http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MmViYjc2OGM5ZGU0OTczM2NjMTNjNzcxYjc2NWZiN2I



by Patrick Courrielche

Another conference call has materialized, revealing a concerted effort by government to use the arts to address political issues.

Lee Rosenbaum, a blogger for Artsjournal.com, posted her experience with a meeting that occurred on August 27th and confessed that she also felt “uneasy” about the government’s arts effort.  The meeting invitation (viewable here) went out to all “member local, state, and regional arts agencies, community-based arts organizations, and national partners of Americans for Arts.” Americans for Arts is a non-profit arts organization that has received substantial grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.


As with my conference call, the art group was invited to the meeting to work together to “tackle some of the nation’s toughest issues: education; health; energy and the environment; community renewal; and safety and security.” Also like my call, it included a private citizen moderating the phone call with key White House representatives participating. Kalpen Modi, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, was to represent the White House and key representatives from the National Endowment for the Arts were also to participate.

Even more disturbing than learning that the White House and NEA are using the arts to address specific issues, is to learn what was discussed on this new conference call. Rosenbaum mentions that there was much talk of “leveraging federal dollars” to get artists and cultural organizations involved in social-service projects.  

Leveraging federal dollars? This is the problem with marrying issue specific topics, like health care and energy, with a group that is funded by tax dollars; it increases the potential of taxpayer-funded propaganda.

As mentioned in the invitation, the NEA was to be on this phone call. However at the last minute, as Rosenbaum blogged, “Modi informed us that ‘unfortunately our colleagues from NEA and NEH [the National Endowment for the Humanities]’ were tied up in meetings and couldn’t participate, as had been planned.”

Could it have anything to do with the article I posted two days earlier? We can only guess but Rosenbaum also hopes that they might have been “having second thoughts about commandeering their constituents for this political adventure.”

What appears to be emerging is a concerted and deliberate effort by the White House and the NEA to encourage the art community to create issue specific art. This new conference call shows the same modus operandi, including a “third party” individual moderating the call to apparently distance the NEA and the White House from initiating the meeting.

The National Endowment for the Arts has yet to comment regarding their involvement with this effort, except for one small, but damaging, comment by their Communications Director Yosi Sergant.

When asked by Kerry Picket of the Washington Times about the NEA’s involvement in inviting artists to my conference call, Sergant said that “the NEA didn’t invite, we were a participant in a call, there was a third party that did the invitations.” When asked for a copy of the invitation, Sergant responded that the invitation “didn’t come from us…so I don’t have it…” He went on to state that Michael Skolnik was the “third party” and that the Corporation for National and Community Service was the party who set up the conference call. This dialogue can be heard here:

We’ve already proved there are two dishonest remarks in this statement from the NEA in a previous post, namely that the NEA did have the invite and they did send it out to the art community.

When the “Corporation” (referenced by Sergant) was asked by Josh Miller of Foxnews.com about my conference call, a representative stated that “the call was organized by an ‘individual interested’ in the group…”

Interesting. Because this same interested individual, Michael Skolnik, contradicts both of these federal agency’s statements in his opening remarks of the conference call I was on.

Skolnik states that it was the White House and the National Endowment for the Arts that asked him to bring together this independent art group. Skolnik’s statement can be heard here:

These obvious contradictions, as well as the documented dishonesty on the part of the National Endowment for the Arts, support a conclusion that the NEA may feel their involvement with this effort is outside of their mandate. George Will, Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper journalist, appears to agree with my conclusion. On this past Sunday’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, George Will referenced the NEA’s involvement in the conference call and stated, “I don’t know how many laws that breaks but I’m sure there are some.

With the building evidence of bad behavior by the NEA, you’d think this federal agency would have issued a statement explaining their position on this “brand new” direction for the arts. But as the cliché goes, the silence has been deafening. This taxpayer funded agency and their civil servants haven’t even returned phone calls from legitimate press outlets such as the Boston Globe, Foxnews.com, or the Washington Times.

Even more deafening is the silence on the part of the mainstream media. Documented dishonesty by White House appointed officials should easily draw the ire of our media watchdogs. But the liberal media, historically a protector of the arts, has turned its back on the community of which it adores. Like the Van Jones story, it appears that the blogosphere and conservative media are the only two forums that break news anymore. And the news that they break has dire consequences for those involved regardless of the mainstream media’s blind eye.

We need the National Endowment for the Arts to respond to these issues immediately. The NEA needs to issue a statement explaining the agency’s involvement in encouraging the art community to create art on issues being vehemently debated, contradictions made by their Communications Director, and lack of response to the inquiries of both the concerned public and press outlets.

As the former deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Lynne Munson, stated in a recent post, during her tenure as deputy chairman “any action resembling this call would have triggered immediate dismissal.” I think we’ve shown action resembling this call.

Bad behavior must have consequences, or else that behavior becomes the norm. The actions of the National Endowment for the Arts are leaving the agency vulnerable to attacks on its credibility and rationale for existence.

The NEA needs to address this issue.

Senate must raise debt ceiling above $12T — INSANITY!!!!!!!!

Senate must raise debt ceiling above $12T

By Walter Alarkon – 09/07/09 12:11 PM ET

The Senate must move legislation to raise the federal debt limit beyond $12.1 trillion by mid-October, a move viewed as necessary despite protests about the record levels of red ink.

The move will highlight the nation’s record debt, which has been central to Republican attacks against Democratic congressional leaders and President Barack Obama. The year’s deficit is expected to hit a record $1.6 trillion.

Democrats in control of Congress, including then-Sen. Obama (Ill.), blasted President George W. Bush for failing to contain spending when he oversaw increased deficits and raised the debt ceiling.

“Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren,” Obama said in a 2006 floor speech that preceded a Senate vote to extend the debt limit. “America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.”

Obama later joined his Democratic colleagues in voting en bloc against raising the debt increase.

Now Obama is asking Congress to raise the debt ceiling, something lawmakers are almost certain to do despite misgivings about the federal debt. The ceiling already has been hiked three times in the past two years, and the House took action earlier this year to raise the ceiling to $13 trillion.

Congress has little choice. Failing to raise the cap could lead the nation to default in mid-October, when the debt is expected to exceed its limit, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said. In August, Geithner asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to increase the debt limit as soon as possible.

Changing the debt cap “does provide an opportunity to look at fiscal policy and what its failings are, and ideally it could give both sides an opportunity to think about what we need to do so we don’t keep raising the debt limit,” said Robert Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, a fiscal watchdog group.

“But probably as a practical matter, it will get more attention as a partisan back-and-forth,” Bixby said.

When the House raised the debt limit to $13 trillion as part of a budget resolution approved in April, Democratic leaders used a maneuver known as the “Gephardt rule,” named after former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt (Mo.), to avoid taking a roll call vote on the debt limit increase.

The Senate isn’t so lucky. It lacks a similar mechanism, meaning each senator must cast a politically perilous vote on raising the debt ceiling.

The Senate Finance Committee will “carefully review Treasury’s request on behalf of the American taxpayers,” according to an aide to the committee’s chairman, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.).

“Sen. Baucus understands the critical importance of signaling to the world that the U.S. maintains the confidence and security to continue to lead the global economy out of recession,” the Baucus aide said. “The request to raise the debt limit is serious and must be addressed thoroughly and in a nonpartisan manner.”

The aide noted that Baucus is pressing the Treasury Department to be more transparent about its efforts to pull the economy out of recession.

“He will continue to demand the necessary communication and cooperation going forward,” the aide said.

Both the White House and the independent Congressional Budget Office last month said that they expect the debt to increase by another $9 trillion over the next decade. Should the Senate follow the House’s lead and set the new debt limit at $13 trillion, lawmakers would probably have to raise the limit again next year, when the Obama administration expects to run a $1.5 trillion deficit.

The business community has supported Geithner’s push for a higher debt ceiling. Bruce Josten, the top lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said it’s essential to the U.S. economy.

“If we fail to address this in a timely fashion, then you run the risk of having to curtail government operations,” Josten said. “The last thing our economy and the world economy needs is greater uncertainty throughout global credit markets.”

Josten said that the high level of debt is a reality during the recession, but it’s unsustainable and needs to be reduced by reforming Medicare and Social Security.

“While we can freely and openly acknowledge completely and lobby to raise the debt ceiling and incur some more debt, the longer trends ultimately need to be reversed,” he said.

Congress raised the debt limit just a few months ago when it passed the $787 billion stimulus package.


A New Obama Fundraising Scandal

A New Obama Fundraising Scandal




August 28, 2009

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

Judicial Watch Obtains New CIA Documents Detailing Results of Detainee Interrogations

Judicial Watch made big news this week when we obtained documents from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) regarding the results of the detainee interrogation program. We got the documents after filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on July 14th and they include two reports entitled “Khalid Shaykh Muhammad: Preeminent Source On Al-Qa’ida” and “Detainee Reporting Pivotal for the War Against Al Qa’ida”.

The records were previously held by the Office of former Vice President Cheney. As I reported to you several weeks ago, on March 31st Vice President Cheney personally issued a request for review of these same documents to the National Archives Presidential Libraries section for declassification. The Archives then passed on the request to the CIA for review on April 8, 2009. Vice President Cheney has said the reports show the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation techniques that were used on some detained terrorists, such as Khalid Shaykh Muhammad and Abu Zubaydah. We’re glad we were able to bring these documents to light for the first time.

You can judge for yourself by clicking here. The following are a couple of quick excerpts:

Khalid Shaykh Muhammad: Preeminent Source on Al Qa’ida: KSM’s (Khalid Shaykh Muhammad’s) decade-long career as a terrorist, during which he met with a broad range of Islamic extremists from around the world, has made him a key source of information on numerous al Qa’ida operatives and other mujahidin. He has provided intelligence that has led directly to the capture of operatives or fleshed out our understanding of the activities of important detainees, which in turn assisted in the debriefings of these individuals.

Detainee Reporting Pivotal for the War Against Al Qa’ida: Since 11 September 2001, reporting from high value al-Qa’ida detainees has become a crucial pillar of US counterterrorism efforts, contributing directly and indirectly to intelligence and law-enforcement operations against the al-Qa’ida target. In addition, detainees have been able to clarify and provide context for information collected from other sources; they also have provided unique insights into different aspects of the terrorist organization, including its leadership, attack strategy and tactics…


Of course, this is not the picture President Obama painted earlier this year.

In March, President Obama overruled objections from national security officials and released documents detailing the government’s enhanced interrogation program of terrorists (the so-called “torture” memos). However, President Obama initially withheld information detailing the results of this program, including alleged terrorist plots that the program prevented. It is these documents that Judicial Watch has obtained. They have never before been released to the public. (Incredibly, the Obama administration may still be playing games and withholding responsive documents.)

CIA interrogations have been the subject of great controversy over the last few months. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came under fire in April when she claimed she was never briefed about the CIA’s use of the waterboarding technique during terrorism investigations. The CIA produced a report documenting a briefing with Pelosi on September 4, 2002, that suggests otherwise. Indeed, the CIA Inspector General report, which was released with the reports we obtained, further confirm that Congress was fully briefed on the enhanced interrogation techniques.

I think you’ll find when reading these documents (including the CIA Inspector General report) that they suggest enhanced interrogation techniques have prevented terrorist attacks and protected our country.

Despite this, Obama’s ethically-challenged Attorney General, Eric Holder, has decided to appoint a special counsel to hound CIA officials (and, for sure, top Bush officials) with a criminal investigation. In the meantime, this administration has released terrorist after terrorist, including Binyam Mohammed, who was involved in the “dirty bomb” plot with Jose Padilla.

At the very least, thanks to Judicial Watch, the American people now have a more complete understanding of whether these enhanced interrogation programs are effective.

Major Democratic Fundraiser Arrested for Bank Fraud

Yet another fundraising scandal struck the Democrats this week when one of their top fundraisers was arrested for attempting to defraud Citigroup out of tens of millions of dollars.

Here’s the scoop according to Bloomberg:

Hassan Nemazee, chairman of Nemazee Capital Corp. and a fundraiser for President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, was arrested on a bank fraud charge and ordered to remain under house arrest on $25 million bail.

Nemazee was charged with using phony documents to trick Citigroup Inc. into lending him as much as $74 million. The financier got the loan by telling Citibank he held accounts with hundreds of millions of dollars that could serve as collateral, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said yesterday in a statement.


So how much money did Nemazee raise for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton? Nemazee raked in $100,000 for Clinton’s presidential primary campaign. He then switched teams when Hillary lost the nomination and raised $500,000 for the Obama campaign. Of course Nemazee’s roots in the Democratic Party go much deeper and he was a major national fundraiser for the party. Senators Kerry and Schumer are among the other top Democrats who have benefited from Nemazee’s fundraising prowess.

(Schumer scrambled to distance himself from Nemazee following the arrest, saying that he is going to donate $4,800 raised by Nemazee to charity. Obama and the Democratic National Committee “returned” only a fraction of the money Nemazee raised.)

As far as the Clintons are concerned, every time a fresh campaign finance scandal breaks with their names on it, I’m reminded of the Clintons’ long sordid history of campaign finance abuses. Most recently there was Norman Hsu, who raised tens of thousands of dollars for Hillary’s presidential campaign until we learned in 2007 that authorities in California had a warrant for his arrest stemming from a 1991 fraud case.

Nemazee has been a suspicious character for a long time. Bill Clinton tried to nominate him for an ambassadorship back in 1999, but the nomination went nowhere when it became clear that Nemazee was a shady businessman. So Obama, Clinton, and the Democrats (and a few Republicans) should have known to stay from this guy.

Here’s what I told One News Now about this scandal:

“The problem is these politicians don’t care,” Fitton states bluntly. “As long as you’re raising the money, they don’t care about your ethics or [your] background or your criminal history — and in the case of Nemazee, he was…helping to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Clinton gang. And then even after Clinton lost [the Democratic primary], he went over to the Obama side and raised a half-a-million dollars for him.”


So as for Obama, he obtained Nemazee’s money, got elected in part because of the money, he’ll return a few bucks to make himself seem ethical, and go on as if nothing happened. In our current system, breaking the rules has little downside and may help you get elected. Any fines or embarrassment after the fact is a small price to pay to get into public office.

This is one of the many corruption issues that Judicial Watch tries to address, with the support of our members, through its various investigations and litigation. You can see why we’re now America’s largest government watchdog organization.

Judicial Watch Continues Legal Battle against Hillary Clinton Appointment

I have another legal update for you on the challenge to Hillary Clinton’s unconstitutional appointment to serve as Secretary of State. On August 20, Judicial Watch filed a Cross Motion for Summary Judgment in its lawsuit on behalf of U.S. Foreign Service Officer David C. Rodearmel, who is challenging the Clinton appointment based on the Ineligibility Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Ineligibility (or Emoluments) Clause plainly states the following: “No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time.”

In other words, if an individual served in Congress while the salary of a civil office was increased, they cannot serve in that position. And that includes the position of Secretary of State. And that includes Hillary Clinton.

Judicial Watch’s response brief, which can be read in its entirety by clicking here, addresses two main legal issues:

  1. Hillary Clinton’s appointment is contrary to the plain language of the Ineligibility Clause: It is undisputed that the emoluments of the office of the Secretary of State increased during the Senate term to which Mrs. Clinton was elected (January 2007 through January 2013)…This increase rendered Mrs. Clinton ineligible for appointment to any “civil office under the Authority of the United States” under Art. I, sec. 6, cl. 2. Defendants contend that a subsequent legislative ‘fix’ by Congress restored Mrs. Clinton’s constitutional eligibility for office. Defendants, however, have no explanation as to why, if Framers had intended to allow for such a legislative remedy, no such provision exists…The Ineligibility Clause plainly does not provide for any such legislative ‘end runs’ to try to cure a Member’s ineligibility.

    (As Judicial Watch further notes in its brief, government lawyers have employed an “extra-textual” interpretation of the Ineligibility Clause, proposing to amend the Constitution by adding the words “on net” to the otherwise unambiguous language of the clause. In other words, if Congress subsequently retracts a salary increase, no harm no foul, because the salary would not, “on net” have increased. Such fixes are unconstitutional and irresponsible.)

  2. Mr. Rodearmel has legal standing to bring this lawsuit: [Mr. Rodearmel] has demonstrated that he is being injured in his employment by being required to serve under, take direction from, and report to a constitutionally ineligible superior, Mrs. Clinton. This is because [Mr. Rodearmel] has been placed in a position where he either must violate his oath of office or risk substantial, adverse consequences to his employment. This constitutes a direct, personal, and concrete injury for purposes of establishing standing to bring this action. [Mr. Rodearmel] also enjoys a property right in his continued employment as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, and being required to serve under, take direction from, and report to a constitutionally ineligible superior, in violation of Plaintiff’s oath of office, also constitutes a material, adverse change in the terms and conditions of Plaintiff’s employment and injures Plaintiff’s property right in that continuing employment.

Too often government officials do not like to be bound by the plain meaning of the U.S. Constitution.

Judicial Watch takes a different view. The U.S. Constitution is the law of the land. And it ought to be respected.

Senatorial Privilege

I’d be remiss as Judicial Watch president if I did not try to correct the misleading historical record that is being created by the adoring media coverage of Senator Kennedy’s tenure in office.

I have no doubt that Senator Kennedy was often a kind man, a great friend to many and capable of acts of Christian charity to which many would rightly aspire.

Yes, I’ve seen Ted Kennedy in church. But I’ve also personally seen him behave in a way that would disgust most decent Americans.

Senator Kennedy used the power of his office to avoid accountability for criminal misconduct. Despite numerous ethical transgressions through the years, Sen. Kennedy’s colleagues in the U.S. Senate looked the other way — which only served to encourage additional misconduct by him.

Senator Kennedy supposedly once said, “Do we operate under a system of equal justice under law? Or is there one system for the average citizen and another for the high and mighty?”

Unfortunately, his record suggests disappointing answers to his questions.

Until next week…

Tom Fitton

Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life. To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of our efforts, click here.

Obama Gets an F in Economics

Obama Gets an F in Economics

September 8th, 2009

by Terry Easton, Human Events

About 11 months ago, the Bush Administration saw a financial tsunami headed its way. 

The Great Housing Bubble – built upon easy credit engineered by the then Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan – had popped. 

As the debt balloon imploded, it sucked in the banks, insurance companies, stock brokers, automobile manufacturers, retailers and housing manufacturers.  AIG, GM, Circuit City, Linins ‘N Things, Lehman Brothers, Countrywide Mortgage, Wachovia, Merrill Lynch… It almost swallowed the US itself. 

In response, the US Treasury and Congress rushed into law the ill-conceived $850 billion bail out bill (‘Bail Out I’) to pour money into the sinking financial system.  The solution to the problem was completely backwards.

The US Government should have cancelled the AIG funny money ‘derivative’ insurance contracts.  It should have re-installing the rational Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1933 to undo the too-cozy relationship between banks and ‘investment banks’ (read: stock market gambling firms).  It should have re-instating the recently-cancelled SEC stock uptick rule for short sellers (which prevented speculators from pilling onto a self-fulfilling falling market).  It should have let the Fed handle the bank liquidity problem on its own. 

Read More:

Alternative Discussion Questions for Barak Obama’s School Address

Alternative Discussion Questions for Barak Obama’s School Address

Some real questions for students to ponder:

1) The Obama administration mixed calls to responsibility and public service with discussion guides encouraging students to discuss how to “help the President”. They withdrew this wording after widespread protest. Hollywood friends of the Administration previously released a celebrity video mixing similar pledges to public service with pledges to be “a servant to our president“.


a) Would you be willing to emulate the celebrity who pledged to be a “servant to our president”? How does this compare to the American idea of the President as servant of the people?


b) Do you consider these celebrities to be well-educated and informed in American civics?


c) Do you think the Obama administration has encouraged or discouraged the idea of pledging to serve a President? How does this compare with our pledge of allegiance to the Republic?


Washington D.C. had a school choice program to allow poor students to choose a private school if their assigned public school was failing educationally. President Obama sought to close the program to new students, but like many Washington elites he chose to send his daughters to an expensive private school attended by the children of rich and powerful people.


a) Should politicians and their families be required to live under the same laws and conditions they impose on everyone else?


b) What is the effect on American democracy of having a hereditary elite class that exempt themselves from the educational, tax, and healthcare programs they impose on others?


c) Would it help or hurt American democracy and society to have the freedom of school choice to enable poor kids to mix with rich kids?


d) Elucidate a position for or against the following argument: “School choice programs promote green goals by attracting families with students to live in the city instead of moving to the suburbs for schools, thus reducing pollution from commuter traffic.”


The 10th Amendment to the Constitution specifies that the powers not delegated to the U.S. government are reserved to the states and the people. Under this system of federalism the primary authority for education is at the state and local level through elected school boards. The Obama administration chose to bypass these elected authorities and directly contact school principals to promote his speech.


a) Do you think this was respectful of state and local education authority and federalism?


b) Would you favor nationalizing education through the federal government, or do you prefer local control of schools? Which do you think provides the best defense of academic freedom and liberty?


American democratic tradition and law draw a distinction between political parties (which are private institutions) and the elected offices of the Executive and the Legislature (which are public institutions). This prevents the tyranny of one party controlling the assets of the government to destroy political opposition. President Obama has appropriated billions of our tax dollars for groups that mix social programs with partisan politics. One such group (ACORN) has been convicted of election fraud. He also urged federal art grant recipients to promote his political agenda.


a) Do you believe it violates the First Amendment to force taxpayers to contribute to political parties they do not support?


b) Do you think the Obama administration is trying to blur the line between private political parties and public institutions?


c) What happens to democracy if one party takes control of government resources to promote itself and prevent others from being heard?


d) What will happen to democracy and the country if political dissenters come to believe that elections are fraudulent?


e) Examine the Obama election campaign symbol (a private campaign symbol) and compare it to the symbol of the “stimulus program” (i.e. the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act”, a public program).


i) Do you see similarities between these symbols?


ii) If so, do you think this was intentional or accidental?


iii) What political parties in 20th-century history mixed party symbolism with public/government symbolism? What was their attitude toward constitutional democracy?


iv) What was the outcome for nations where one party became the state?


The “stimulus” symbol – a public program:



The Obama symbol – a private political campaign:


Eric Richter is father of two middle-schoolers who are well-immunized with American civics and happy to share their opinions with fellow students.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/09/alternative_discussion_questio.html at September 08, 2009 – 09:55:11 AM EDT

Out: Commie Truther green jobs czar. In: Union hack “manufacturing” czar

Michelle Malkin 

Lead Story

Out: Commie Truther green jobs czar. In: Union hack “manufacturing” czar

By Michelle Malkin  •  September 8, 2009 09:16 AM

President Obama’s payoffs to Big Labor continue.

The union bosses got not one, but two, Cabinet appointees: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

Former SEIU chief lobbyist and Soros-funded operative Patrick Gaspard is White House Director of Political Affairs.

SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger serves on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

SEIU thug-in-chief Andy Stern has a seat at the table of every domestic policy initiative.

At the New York Federal Reserve, the AFL-CIO’s New York chief Dennis Hughes is now chairman, replacing Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

AFL-CIO official Naomi Walker received a midnight lobbyist waiver so she can communicate with her union buddies in her new role as Assistant Deputy Secretary of Labor.

And to cap off Labor Day weekend, Obama named union heavy Ron Bloom — who cut his teeth at the foot of John Sweeney when he headed up the SEIU — the new “manufacturing czar.”

Bloom will continue to double-dip the government coffers as the Treasury Secretary’s car czar — oh, excuse me, “senior auto adviser.”

Like so many of the Czars of the Obama Underworld, Bloom will serve in a completely superfluous position. Why does America need a “manufacturing” czar? Doesn’t the Department of Labor cover that jurisdiction already?

No, Bloom has no actual, specialized experience in manufacturing.

He does have a long track record of union hatchet jobs, though/ J.P. Freire and David Freddoso at the Examiner note:

So far, the Obama administration’s “bankruptcy negotiation” technique has amounted to strong-arming and ruining the reputations of senior creditors who resist being written out in favor of unions. With the choice of Bloom, it is more obvious that the unions now sit on both sides of the negotiating table. Unless, that is, you believe an administration that fires CEOs is not really running the auto industry in which it owns a huge stake.

And they highlight a union philosophy quote from Bloom that would make Andy “persuasion of power” Stern cackle:

“Let me give you some advice. First, we are big believers in dentist chair bargaining. For those of you not familiar with this approach, it is inspired by the story of the man who walks into his dentist’s office, grabs the dentist by the balls and says, ‘now, let’s not hurt each other.’ We do have a lot to lose and we and everybody else knows it. But what you need to understand is that we are willing to lose it.”

— Prepared remarks for a speech to an International Association of Restructuring, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Professionals conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., May 21, 2006

Commenter Gabriel Sutherland at Tom Maguire’s Just One Minute adds:

If the press travels to Steubenville, Ohio they could ask the laid off union workers what they think of Ron Bloom’s acumen for “saving union jobs”.

Bloom orchestrated the sale of Wheeling-Pitt to Esmark Inc.(shell holding company). Esmark was acquired by OAO Severstal(Russian Oligarchs) soon thereafter.

Ron Bloom is 10 times worse than Van Jones. Van never really created any jobs, but he never really gave any away either. Ron Bloom explicitly sold out union laborers under the guise he was saving more jobs than would have been lost of Wheeling-Pitt was acquired by its initial courter, Companhia Siderurgica Nacional(commonly known as Brazil CSN or the only steelmaker in Brazil).

Bloom could accurately be described as the Andy Stern of old school organized labor jobs. Not these unionized home health care workers that Stern pads his SEIU rolls with, but actual unionized laborers in manufacturing.

The elected heads of the Steelworkers back Ron Bloom. They have a personal relationship with him. But if you go to the laid off steelworkers they’ll tell you what is really going on.

PS: Stimulus funds for infrastructure had “buy american” clauses in them that were retracted. In their place was “buy north american” clauses. Union laborers have already found steel from Russia being used on projects funded by the Stimulus.

Short short history of organized labor in the United States. The Unione Siciliane was controlled by La Cosa Nostra as a hedge against Moscow and their Communist apparatchiks. It’s post WWII Cold War gamesmanship. The Communists from Eastern Europe have always been anarchist agitators deliberately attempting to slow industrialization in the West. This is why you’ll always find stories of G-Men going down for playing a fast and loose game with their made men informants.

Here’s background on Bloom’s “social justice”/Labor Zionist movement roots.

The White House has learned nothing from the Van Jones debacle.

Let’s hope the Republicans have.

Here’s Rep. Mike Pence calling for a suspension of all new czar appointments.


I have mentioned GOP Rep. Jack Kingston’s proposed bill to cut off all federally approriated funds to czar offices many times over the summer. He was ahead of the curve.

There are currently 34 co-sponsors of the bill.

Where are your congressional reps?