Sunday, January 31, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
- Add National Guard Chief To Joint Chiefs
- Address Al-Qaida Prison Recruitment Efforts
- Advocate Equal Treatment Of Same-Sex Couples Advocate Free Market
- Allow Mortgage Modification In Bankruptcy Cases Appoint Director Of Urban Policy
- Ban Racial Profiling
- Boost Teacher Mentoring Programs Broadband Coverage In Rural Areas
- Conservation of Private Lands
Adding a National Guard/Reserve chief to the Joint Chiefs of Staff would be a definite benefit to the "grunts" in the combat arms of the various branches of service. This benefit to the troops is--by definition--NO benefit to the "Clown Prince" beyond the initial photo-op, so don't look for much action here.
The "prison recruitment" promise probably won't see the light of day until Fluffy obama is forced into it!! This promise involves stemming the recruiting of American prisoners in American prisons. These are the most disenfranchised individuals who would be very suseptable to the islamic "sweet-talk." Should he go head-to-head with al-qaida, he'll not accomplish much except pissing off most of his muslim brethren!!
Again, equal treatment of same-sex couples [compared to traditional married couples] will fall to the wayside until Fluffy is forced by the howling gay-lesbian activists to do something positive FOR THEM. The Department of Justice's first attempt at defending DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act]--which it's required to do--was filled with arguments against homosexuality that are often made by the religious right. It equated gay marriage to legalizing incest and pedophilia.
Fluffy's "Campaign of Fluff" advocated for continuance of America's free market system. As with most of the fluff regurgitated by the "Clown Prince" flies in the face of his life-long fascist principles. Again, expect nothing to be done on this front until he's forced into it!!
Allowing mortgage modification in bankruptcy cases was a major item during the "Campaign of Fluff." Fluffy lobbied the morons in Congress for a "cram-down" provision which took most of his "honeymoon YEAR" to get both houses' approval. "Cram-down" is a court-ordered reduction of the secured balance due on a home mortgage loan, granted to a homeowner who has filed for personal bankruptcy. Apparently in fascism this is considered fair ot those who hold the mortgages; those who will not be made "whole" in the cram-down process.
Way back in February, 2009, obama named Adolfo Carrión Jr. as director of the new White House Office of Urban Affairs and Derek Douglas as special assistant to the president for urban affairs. Carrión was credited with improving neighborhoods and helping to guide the new Yankee Stadium project. Douglas headed New York Gov. David Paterson's Washington office. Nothing has been done since!! That's quite surprising, considering that those to be helped are primarily KoolAid drinkin' welfareRATS... a large share of his voter base.
In his Blueprint for Change, obama said he "will ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal incentives to state and local police departments to prohibit the practice." On it's face, this plan is ludicrous!! Do not most terrorists look like Fluffy's buddies, the muslims?? So why to we concentrate on little ol' ladies with walkers and wheelchairs?? Expect him to "go full-bore" with this one; he feels it necessary to placate the muslims as well as the terrorist communities at every turn!!
In presenting his new education plan, obama vowed to "treat teachers like the professionals they are while holding them more accountable." As part of this process, he said, "new teachers will be mentored by experienced ones." Don't looke for this to go much beyond the "blather' stage; Fluffy is too beholden to the unions at every level!!! He has to placate the union hierarchy-which will go against his "blather!!"
"Broadband Coverage in Rural Areas.." How many voters in rural areas compared to voters in urban areas.....?? How many KoolAid drinkers in rural areas, compared to those who support themselves WITH THEIR OWN MONEY?? This has no benefit to the "Clown Prince" so expect nothing more than the usual blather.
"Conservation of Private Lands" smacks of another version of wealth re-distribution!! “Obama will increase incentives for farmers and private landowners to conduct sustainable agriculture and protect wetlands, grasslands and forests.”-- Obama's Blueprint For Change. BUT, no mention of the punishments involved for those who opt out of participation..... Not everyone wants or needs to participate in these federal bribery schemes. If the administration will recommend jail time for those who don't buy high priced health insurance, will surely have punitive consequences for ANYONE who elects not to participate in ANY "Clown Prince" PROGRAMS!!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
The Thursday decisions to punish banks for making money and to exempt union workers from an onerous health-care tax appear to have little in common, but they actually share a vital link. Both are the spawn of rank politics, with Fluffy using government power to reward friends and punish enemies. First came the bank tax and, like so many other bad initiatives, his announcement was chocked full of misleading arguments. It's an ominous sign when truth is the enemy. Even the name distorts, with the tax called the
It's a fee. And it's got a moral basis -- hence "responsibility." "We want our money back, and we're going to get it," declares the greatest spendthrift ever to inhabit the White House. He was so full of self-righteous anger, I feared his teleprompter might explode.
Certainly not "We the people." A clear majority of Americans opposes virtually every one of his policies and his disapproval ratings nearly match his approval. He responds by doubling down on partisanship as he tries to tap into the paranoid fringe that sees Wall Street as the fountain of evil.The truth is that most of the banks helped by bailouts have more than repaid taxpayers. The bailouts even turned a handsome profit, estimated at $52 billion last year.
Among other bailouts, it's Obama's to GM, Chrysler and the one started under George Bush to AIG that are still deepest in the red. So the logic of penalizing the banks that are prospering to get "our money back" doesn't pass the smell test. Even worse, the tax works against the White House goals of increasing lending and creating jobs. Because of reserve requirements, every dollar the banks pay in taxes means they have $10 less to lend to small businesses -- the engines of job growth.
Why, spend it, of course. It won't be used to pay down the deficit or anything sensible. "Our" money will become another Chinese-financed slush fund for him.The second awful idea was the deal with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid to exempt unions, including those in government, from the 40 percent tax on so-called "Cadillac health plans." The tax had two aims: raising money to fund coverage for the uninsured and reducing the overall national health bill. But unions objected, threatened to scuttle the legislation -- and so were spared. The tax won't kick in for them until 2018 and even then will be less onerous than on non-union workers. Others will just have to pay more.
Monday, January 18, 2010
CNBC's Rick Santelli broadcast the rumor the same day from the trading floor during CNBC's "Power Lunch" show. Spokesmen from both the U.S. Treasury and Department of Labor confirmed to WND that the federal agencies about to enter a pre-regulation public comment phase on the proposed rule change. But the agencies are getting serious pushback from the mutual fund industry, objecting to what some financial planners see as a government attempt to divert hundreds of billions of dollars of private retirement accounts into federal government debt, regardless whether the investment in Treasury bonds is in the best interest of the retirement-oriented investor.
Bloomberg reported Friday that Assistant Labor Secretary Phyllis C. Borzi and Deputy Assistant Treasury Mark Iwry are planning to stage a public comment period before implementing regulations that would require private investors to structure IRA and 401(k) accounts into what could amount to a U.S. Treasury debt-backed government annuity.
On the Department of Labor website, the transcript of a Dec. 9 webchat with Borzi confirms the Employee Benefits Security Administration is about to issue a Request for Information on how annuity lifetime options should be structured into a wide range of defined contribution retirement plans, including 401(k)s. Under ERISA, the Department of Labor regulates approximately 700,000 private pension plans, with approximately $4.7 trillion in assets. "Lifetime Income Options," code words for annuities, are also listed in the Department of Labor's regulatory agenda for the Employee Benefits Security Administration, issued Dec. 7 and filed in the Federal Register.The government's argument is that IRA and 401(k) investors lost principal in the stock market when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted from a closing of 14,164.53 on Oct. 9, 2007, to 6,547.05 on March 9, 2009. For instance, Fidelity Investments reported the average fund balance on the approximately 11 million accounts Fidelity manages dropped 31 percent to $47,500 at the end of March, from $69,200 at the end of 2007.
With the stock market rally since March, Fidelity further reports 401(k) account balances increased 128 percent by the end of the third quarter 2009, to an average of $60,700, from the low at the end of the first quarter 2009 of $47,500.While U.S. Treasury bonds have had historically lower yields than equity returns, government proponents of the idea argue Treasury bonds are safer, guaranteed by the federal government [so much for government guarantees!!!] to pay principal and interest regardless of market conditions. Furthermore, annuities as life insurance contracts have a unique investment advantage of being able to pay a specified lifetime income, regardless how long the annuitant lives. The Investment Company Institute, a national trade organization representing the mutual fund industry, argues that the distinction of the Obama administration proposal would be to require annuities funded with Treasuries to be embedded within IRAs and 401(k) programs, using the fear of loss as a reason to demand retirement investors own Treasuries.
Right now, IRA holders and investors in 401(k) plans are free to invest in Treasury bonds, if they choose.Also, annuities are a popular settlement option for IRAs and 401(k) plans that transition from the accumulation phase to the payout phase. Annuities are an attractive payout instrument, because annuities offer the part of lifetime income and only a portion of each payout installment is considered taxable as return of investment principal. Interest or investment earnings in annuities accumulate income tax-deferred until the annuitant takes out money, either in an unscheduled withdrawal, or in a payout option extending over a specified number of years in retirement, or for the lifetime of the annuitant.
- The unusual nature of the "Clown Prince's" administration's proposal would be to place as an investment a tax-deferred instrument like an annuity within a tax-deferred retirement program. Investment advisers typically use annuities as an investment option for after-tax dollars, not as a required investment option within a retirement program like an IRA or 401(k) that is already income-tax deferred.
- A survey conducted by the Investment Company Institute showed more than 70 percent of all households disagreed with the idea of requiring retirees to buy annuities with a portion of their assets, whether the annuity is offered by an insurance company or by the government.
- Moreover, 96 percent of households in the survey responded that retirees rejected the idea that the government should mandate turning IRA or 401(k) assets into annuities, asserting instead that retirees should make their own decisions about managing retirement assets and income.
- The Investment Company Institute member companies manage some $11.62 trillion in mutual fund assets for some 90 million mutual fund shareholders, including retirement-oriented investors participating in defined contribution plans such as employer-sponsored 401(k) accounts.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
- Within probably fifteen minutes, I received a phone call from the Everbright "Customer Service Center."
- During this call the lady service person read from her script, all the added benefits I'd receive as "a bonus" for trying the Everbright system.
- After no less than ten additional items-- all of which required additional billing to my credit card--I told the lady: "Whoa, whoa, whoa, WHOA!!!!" I told her that I had only ordered the Everbright product and had no desire or use for the additional CRAP she was trying to foist upon me [actual wording].
- I then told her to cancel my order and remove all my personal information, to include any and all credit card numbers from their system, and abruptly hung up to preclude any discussion of my options!!
Everbright Distribution Center 15621 Blue Ash Dr, #160 Houston, Tx, 77090The following day, I received email acknowledgment of the cancellation of my order, thus:
This is to confirm that your subscription with Everbright Smiles has been cancelled. Thank you for participating in our risk free trial. As confirmed on the call with customer care, to avoid being charged for the product, the product must be shipped back to our fulfillment center within 14 days. Should you have any questions please contact our customer service department at 1-(888)-694-9257. Your RMA number is Q- 11v69978w7.I took "....product must be shipped back to our fulfillment center....." to mean that the fulfillment center was different than the Everbright Distribution Center. After spending a couple of hours wandering around the internet, searching for their "fulfillment center," determing that it didn't exist in print and the only way to find the address was to call the toll-free number. I'm sure the call would have subjected me to another onslaught suggesting that I stay with the Everbright system. As a result, I intend to send the package to the distribution center; at the same time cancelling the card this fiasco was charged to!!! BEWARE;BEWARE;BEWARE;BEWARE;BEWARE!!! A synopsis Of The "Clown Prince" Screwing US!! [The articles below are only partial: approximately 1/4 to 1/3 of the oringinal. The original articles can be found on www.exposeobama.com ] Another rank deal By Rich Lowry, New York Post What happens when the irresistible force of the Democratic urge to tax runs up against the immovable object of Democratic loyalty to the labor unions? Another ugly deal in a health-care bill that already was a grotesquerie of payoffs to favored politicians and interests. The levy in question is a 40 percent excise tax on high-end employer-provided insurance plans that -- typically -- has been sold as a tax on "the rich." It's called the "Cadillac tax," a name redolent of corporate executives cackling in their Escalades over their cushy benefits. The unions, which make it a point to negotiate generous insurance plans with their employers (to the point of bankrupting them), were chagrined to learn that for purposes of this tax, they're among the rich. They howled in terms that could have been drawn from Henry Hazlitt's free-market classic "Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics." The excise tax is supposed to be paid by evil insurers and employers. Except in this one case affecting their self-interest directly, the unions see through the fiction and understand that the tax will trickle down onto them. How disorienting to hear unions implicitly recognize that corporations ultimately don't pay taxes, their customers and employees do. Obama to Visit Massachusetts in Final Campaign Push for Coakley FOXNews President Obama will travel to Massachusetts Sunday to try to save Martha Coakley's flagging campaign from an upset loss to Scott Brown, the Republican whose surging candidacy has stripped away the sense of inevitability Coakley once had in the race for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's former seat. The White House had been playing coy over the possibility of such a visit, saying it wasn't in the cards as Coakley floated hints in the press that she wanted the president to campaign for her. Former President Bill Clinton and Sen. John Kerry were holding a rally for the Democratic candidate Friday, but Coakley, the state attorney general, is looking for a last-minute push to try to keep Brown's campaign at bay. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday that Obama believes his visit will be "productive." "I think it's a referendum on whose side are you on," Gibbs said, dismissing suggestions the race is a referendum on the president himself. "I think the president sees a pretty clear distinction between a candidate in Martha Coakley who's going to fight for Massachusetts and a candidate on the other side who feels comfortable fighting for the insurance industry and big banks." The 'Responsibility' Tax WSJ Opinion The White House has spent months imploring banks to lend more money, so will President Obama's new proposal to extract $117 billion from bank capital encourage new bank lending? Just asking. Welcome to one more installment in Washington's year-long crusade to revive private business by assailing and soaking it. Mr. Obama's new "Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee"-please don't call it a tax-is being sold as a way to cover expected losses in the Troubled Asset Relief Program. That sounds reasonable, except that the banks designated to pay the fee aren't those responsible for the losses. With the exception of Citigroup, those banks have repaid their TARP money with interest. The real TARP losers-General Motors, Chrysler and delinquent mortgage borrowers-are exempt from the new tax. Why the auto companies? An Administration official told the Journal that the banks caused the crisis that doomed the auto companies, which apparently were innocent bystanders to their own bankruptcy. The fact that the auto companies remain wards of Washington no doubt has nothing to do with their free tax pass. Obama to try Bali Bomber in DC AP The Obama administration is considering a criminal trial in Washington for the Guantanamo Bay detainee suspected of masterminding the bombing of a Bali nightclub that killed 202 people, a plan that would bring one of the world's most notorious terrorism suspects just steps from the U.S. Capitol, The Associated Press has learned. Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, was allegedly Osama bin Laden's point man in Indonesia and, until his capture in August 2003, was believed to be the main link between al-Qaida and Jemaah Islamiyah, the terror group blamed for the 2002 bombing on the island of Bali. Other terrorism trials also may occur in Washington and New York City under a proposal being discussed within the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials briefed on the plan, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private planning meetings. Authorities already have begun discussing the intense security measures needed to bring Hambali and others before a Washington federal judge, the officials said. Obama's alternative foreign-policy universe By David Limbaugh, WND There are definitely two Americas, but not the two that fallen former presidential candidate John Edwards had in mind. There's the real America, and there's the imaginary America President Barack Obama has boasted of creating. Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, tells us on the White House's alternative universe blog that "President Obama inherited unprecedented challenges at home and abroad," including "diminished American standing in the world. ... A year later, America is stronger because of the President's leadership." How has Obama been able to perform this miraculous feat in such a short time? Well, Obama's "steady diplomacy" has made America stronger and renewed its moral authority. In his superior wisdom, he realized that our real enemy isn't all Islamic extremists dedicated to world conquest, the annihilation of all infidels and jihad, but the sole branch of that larger group, al-Qaida. So he's smartly and efficiently recalibrated our war effort against this solitary group of jihadists - though I could have sworn his people have told us it's not exactly a war. Through his myopic lenses, Obama apparently can't understand that terrorists would be virtually impotent against us without nation-state sponsors. Without that perspective, how can he possibly lead this nation in this "overseas contingency operation"? Obama's Second Stimulus : A Looming Disaster By Floyd and Mary Beth Brown, Cagle Cartoons The one-year anniversary of the inauguration of Barack Obama is upon us. After only 12 months he is struggling for political survival. The cause is his economic policies. The anniversary is a bitter pill for many unemployed workers to swallow. The jobs he promised, and many voted for, have proved to be a fleeting fantasy. The reality is that Obama's uncontrolled spending and reckless borrowing have plunged us deeper into the worst recession since the Great Depression. The dire economic situation has only been exacerbated by Obama policy. The situation is only going to get worse if his new, expanded stimulus plan goes into effect. Obama loves to blame former President Bush, claiming he inherited this horrendous recession. However, the facts show this just isn't true. While the housing bubble burst in 2008, and a slight recession began in the Bush administration's last year, it was nothing compared to the past year. Since Obama took office, the nation is distressed watching more people lose their jobs. This spiraling recession has gone from mild downturn to disaster. Obama cavalierly declared during the early days of his term, that if Congress failed to pass his economic stimulus plan, the unemployment rate would climb above 8 percent. Congress believed him, giving him all the new spending he demanded by passing the $787 billion pork-laden stimulus bill. Yet the unemployment rate then promptly climbed to over 10 percent. Obama: I Will Tax You to Punish Banks By John Stossel, Fox Business Today President Obama will propose a new tax on the nation's biggest banks, reports today's Washington Post. How will the tax work? Firms would pay a "Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee" at an annual rate of $1,500 for every $1 million borrowed to finance lending and other activities. In other words, the Obama Administration is going to punish those greedy banks by making it more expensive for you to borrow money. This is wrong on so many levels, it's hard to know where to begin. Let's start with a point made by Jamie Dimon, CEO at JP Morgan Chase: "Using tax policy to punish people is a bad idea...All businesses tend to pass their costs on to customers." Exactly. But don't worry, the Administration thought of that. They have a plan: But by imposing the tax on only the largest firms, government officials said, they hope to protect consumers. Firms that raised prices would give smaller rivals a competitive advantage, creating an incentive for companies instead to swallow the cost, potentially by reducing employee pay. Oh, now I see. They will only punish customers of big banks. If I run a small bank, this will now give me an incentive to stay small. I wonder how that will encourage lending. Beyond that nonsense is the idea that they're "constraining the industry's ability to take large risks and reap outsize rewards". The only reason that banks reaped "outsize rewards" for taking bad risks is because the government encouraged them to do that by guaranteeing mortgage loans. Risk taking got wild when government protected risk takers from feeling the consequences of a bad risk. Top Obama czar: Infiltrate all 'conspiracy theorists' By Aaron Klein, WorldNetDaily In a lengthy academic paper, President Obama's regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, argued the U.S. government should ban "conspiracy theorizing." Among the beliefs Sunstein would ban is advocating that the theory of global warming is a deliberate fraud. Sunstein also recommended the government send agents to infiltrate "extremists who supply conspiracy theories" to disrupt the efforts of the "extremists" to propagate their theories. In a 2008 Harvard law paper, "Conspiracy Theories," Sunstein and co-author Adrian Vermeule, a Harvard law professor, ask, "What can government do about conspiracy theories?" "We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories." In the 30-page paper - obtained and reviewed by WND - Sunstein argues the best government response to "conspiracy theories" is "cognitive infiltration of extremist groups." Majority Would Vote Against Obama By Reid Wilson, National Journal A year into his tenure, a majority of Americans would already vote against Pres. Obama if the '12 elections were held today, according to a new survey. The Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll shows 50% say they would probably or definitely vote for someone else. Fully 37% say they would definitely cast a ballot against Obama. Meanwhile, just 39% would vote to re-elect the pres. to a 2nd term, and only 23% say they definitely would do so. Obama's first year in office has been marked by an unemployment rate that surged to 10%, an increased commitment of troops to Afghanistan and a health care battle that has taken a serious political toll on the WH. Obama's approval rating is down to 47%, the poll showed, a 14-point drop since the April survey. 45% disapprove, up 17 points from April. Only 41% say they trust Obama more than Congressional GOPers, while 33% pick the GOP over the WH. That 8-point gap is down from a 21-point edge Obama sported as recently as Sept. Just 34% say the country is moving in the right direction, down 13 points since April, and 55% say it is off on the wrong track, up 13 points over the same period.
[I felt the following article to be important enough to re-publish in it's entirety!!]PROMISES, PROMISES: Many Obama Pledges Unkept WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama ends his first year in office with his to-do list still long and his unfulfilled campaign promises stacked high. From winding down the war in Iraq to limiting lobbyists, Obama has made some progress. But the president has faced political reality and accepted - sometimes grudgingly - compromises that leave him exposed to criticism. Promises that have proven difficult include pledges not to raise taxes, to curb earmarks and to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba by the end of his first year. "We are moving systematically to bring about change, but change is hard," Obama told a town hall crowd in California. "Change doesn't happen overnight." That was in March. During his two-year campaign, Obama thrilled massive crowds with soaring speeches, often railing against an Iraq war that now is seldom mentioned. His presidential comments now are often sober updates on issues like terrorism and the economy, a top priority now that emerged as a major issue only in the campaign's final weeks. Obama's campaign ambition has been diluted with a pragmatism that has been the hallmark of Year One - without much of the progress he had hoped. A look at some of the promises: --- THE ECONOMY, TAXES AND DEFICITS Obama inherited an economy in severe distress that has since shown marked improvement. With the crisis developing so close to last year's election, it wasn't the focus of his earlier campaign promises. But Obama managed to craft his main anti-recession measure to address one of the top political commitments. He campaigned on a pledge to provide a $1,000 tax credit to 95 percent of all working families, and almost delivered. The $787 billion stimulus bill included an $800 tax credit for couples making up to $150,000, and a declining credit for those making up to $190,000. The Tax Policy Center estimates that 90 percent of taxpayers qualified for a tax cut under the stimulus package. In a Dover, N.H., campaign stop, Obama pledged that "no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase - not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes." True, unless you're a smoker. Obama, himself an occasional smoker, signed into law a 159 percent increase in the tax on a pack of cigarettes. Other tobacco products were hit with similar or much steeper increases to help pay for a children's health initiative, enabling him to keep another promise to make sure all kids have health insurance. Obama also promised to cut the federal budget deficit by more than half in his first term. That now appears unlikely, given the spending on the stimulus and the billions of dollars spent on bank and auto company bailouts. The 2009 federal budget deficit hit a record $1.42 trillion, and the red ink in the first two months of fiscal 2010 was nearly 6 percent higher than the same period in 2009. --- FOREIGN POLICY As a candidate, Obama touted his early opposition to the Iraq war and pledged to pull all U.S. combat troops out within 16 months. As president, he pushed that deadline back two months, to August 2010. Even then, he will leave 35,000 to 50,000 military personnel in Iraq through 2011 to train, equip and advise Iraqi security forces, and to help in counterterrorism missions. As a candidate, he vowed to prosecute the war against al-Qaida in Afghanistan, arguing that Iraq had distracted the U.S. from its anti-terror priorities. By the end of his first year, he had retooled the Afghan war strategy, replaced the U.S. commander there, doubled the number of U.S. troops in the country and ordered another 30,000 there by the middle of this year. He also promised to "end the use of torture without exception" in U.S. anti-terror campaigns and to close Guantanamo Bay, which he called "a recruiting tool for our enemies." He signed an executive order outlawing torture, cruelty and degrading treatment of prisoners. A companion order closing the Guantanamo prison has proven more challenging. Congress refused to fund the transfer of any Guantanamo detainees to U.S. prisons, and foreign countries are reluctant to accept them. Obama did order the purchase of an Illinois prison to house up to 100 Guantanamo detainees. Still, Guantanamo cannot be closed until the disposition of more than 200 remaining detainees is resolved. A failed attempt at bombing a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas has made that more difficult. Obama also campaigned to restore U.S. prestige abroad by engaging allies and adversaries alike, a direct swipe at George W. Bush, his predecessor. Now, he's finding that rhetoric tough to live up to. He vowed to use "tough, direct diplomacy" to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Once in office, he offered dialogue to Tehran, made direct appeals to the Iranian people and included Iran in multinational discussions, while insisting that Iran not be permitted to develop nuclear weapons. The power centers in Tehran have largely shrugged, and Obama so far has been unable to unite a coalition of countries behind new economic sanctions intended to block Iran's development of nuclear weapons. A solution for North Korea's nuclear program also remains elusive. Its envoy to the United Nations said his nation is willing to conduct talks, but only if all sanctions against it are lifted. --- TERRORISM On his 2008 campaign Web site, Obama declared that "we must redouble our efforts to determine if the measures implemented since 9/11 are adequately addressing the threats our nation continues to face from airplane-based terrorism," including screening all passengers against "a comprehensive terrorist watch list." The verdict on that promise came last month, when an alleged terrorist known to authorities boarded an airliner bound for Detroit from overseas carrying explosives in his clothes. Disaster was averted when he botched an attempt to ignite the bomb. --- HEALTH CARE During his political run, Obama said he would increase the number of people covered by health insurance and pay for it by raising taxes on families making more than $250,000 a year and by taxing companies that do not offer coverage to employees. Although lawmakers have taken steps toward the broad outline Obama promised, it remains unfinished. The House and Senate have passed versions of the plan, but major differences remain. And Obama's left flank is none too pleased with the compromises to this point, which have all but eliminated a government-run insurance option, something he called for in the campaign. Even the process has violated one campaign pledge. "We'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies," Obama said. That hasn't happened. Instead, Democrats in Congress and the White House have made multibillion-dollar deals with hospitals and pharmaceutical companies in private. C-SPAN asked to televise the negotiations between the House and Senate versions; the White House insists it hasn't seen the request. --- OTHER ISSUES On other domestic promises, from energy to education, Obama has been faced with a tight budget, a struggling economy and a deficit-conscious public that he will need to court if he seeks another term in 2012. Early on, he had to recant his pledge not to sign legislation that includes lawmakers' pet projects. "When I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely," Obama had said in September. But Congress controls spending, and Obama hasn't been willing to veto bills approved by his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill. For example, he signed what he called an "imperfect" $410 billion spending bill that included 7,991 so-called "earmarks" totaling $5.5 billion. He had little choice. The measure, a holdover from the Bush presidency, was needed to keep government from shutting down. Obama also promised to require lawmakers seeking money for earmarks to justify their requests in writing 72 hours before they're voted on in Congress. That hasn't happened yet. Nor has his pledge to post legislation online for five days before acting; he broke that pledge with his first bill, a non-emergency measure giving workers more time to bring pay discrimination lawsuits. A promised ban on lobbyists serving in his administration hasn't been absolute; a few former lobbyists were granted exemptions. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained that by saying: "Even the toughest rules require reasonable exceptions." Til Nex'Time....
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
This week comes the news that U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), are joining forces with U.S. Representatives Mark Souder (R-Ind.) and Mike Ross (D-Ark.), in filing a joint, pro-Second Amendment amicus curiae (Friend of the Court) brief before the Supreme Court in the McDonald v. Chicago case. Last year, the historic case of District of Columbia v. Heller invalidated the District's ban on handguns. However, the Heller case applied only to federal enclaves, such as Washington, D.C.
STATE ROUNDUP (Please note the only items listed below are those that have had recent action. For other updates on state legislation, please go to the state legislation section at www.NRAILA.org, and check each week's issue of the Grassroots Alert.")
- Mining and quarrying, oil and gas extraction.............11.8%
- General Manufacturing.........................................11.9%
- Durable Goods Manufacturing................................13.3%
- Professional and Business Services.........................10.3%
- Leisure and Hospitality........................................12.6%
- Ag and Related Private Wage and Salary Workers.....19.7%