Original art at top left from 1990's - Flyer for Symposium on International Relations (LWVCT Ed Fund);  NEW FIRST FAMILY, Did Republicans win even one state in 2008?  Yes, they did (21 or more states, 162-349 in the Electoral College - official number to come)!

"You have to laugh, or you'll cry: department...

HUMOR, ART AND POLITICS:
"...what's good for me, Al Frankin" now in the Senate...making the 60th vote to give the Democrats fillibuster-proof margin to cut off debate...
and how about that "faux politics" scam?

JOKES;  what kind of joke can the President make, or for that matter, can we make?  NOTE:  we footnote our sources now in a lighter tone.

T H E    W H I T E    H O U S E  :   Mixed use property, downtown Washington, D.C. - available in January 2009.  Front and rear entrances - historic 19th century structure (no visible fire damage);  Lincoln Bedroom (@1960's), helicopter landing pad (not shown are tennis court, swimming pool and bowling alley)...nice views.  Which leader of the free world, and previous occupant, did not receive a free crystal bowl?


Answer:  Carter (this practice began after his term).  And another opinion.



THE BEST HUMOR CAN BE SAD, AS WELL.

PORTRAITS NOT ACCEPTED BY THE NATIONAL GALLERY (and not traced, either, over someone elses' art), L.-R.:  "The Pitch" and "The Wink" from primaries;  "Would You Buy a Car From This Man?" and "100 DAYS ON - Broadway" and "One Year In."   "Reconciled"- Hawaii misses a tsunami, health care through the Senate - POTUS is pleased!  And now back in campaign mode...but what's this


HERE IN OCTOBER OF 2014 WE ARE INSTITUTING TOTALLY ORIGINAL ART (CARTOON SIGNED AND DATED) WITH A POLITICAL TWIST! 


On the 3 candidate, 5 Party race in CT for Gov...the big test for me is this:  Would you invite him or her for dinner?  More and more, that seems to be the test...

---------------------

NOTE:  The CT Gubernatorial race has been awarded first prize for being the nastiest and dirtiest campaign in the nation! 


State of Washington mud slide above.


ONE HUNDRED AND THREE

How the rest of the world sees CT

Blue, blue, blue.  And yet rich, rich, rich.  Which goes to show you that nothing much will change on Nov. 5 in Connecticut.  One comment in the article from a staunch very red publication remarked about the dramatic difference between lower Fairfield County towns in the former SWRPA region and the rest of the state.  Yup, in a nutshell.

----
America’s Worst Governor:  Dannel Malloy may be too far to the left even for Connecticut.
Matt Purple, National Review
October 8, 2014 12:28 PM

...One of the few times they haven’t been jeering was in the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Malloy received high marks for appearing strong in the face of tragedy. But then he quickly squandered the goodwill by browbeating the Connecticut legislature into passing the toughest anti-gun bill ever devised. It instituted mandatory background checks and outlawed a host of new magazines and “assault weapons.” Those who already owned an assault weapon were required to register it with the state.

And then something remarkable happened: Connecticut gun owners watched the news, shrugged, and went about their business. Existing assault weapons banned by the legislation were supposed to be registered by January 1, 2014. Instead only an estimated 15 percent of the outstanding rifles were signed up. Malloy had just unwittingly created between 20,000 to 100,000 new felons. One lawmaker said several of his gun-owning constituents had told him they wouldn’t come forward.  How to deal with such astonishing civil disobedience? Mike Lawlor, a top criminal justice official, ruled out a statewide crackdown, but did say that other actions could be taken. “They could send them a letter,” he warned. Head for the hills!

The gun regulations won’t necessarily cut into Malloy’s popularity. Connecticuters actually approve of the gun control law by a margin of 56 to 38 percent, according to Quinnipiac. But guns could still prove a potent political issue, especially in the heavily rural eastern part of the state. Malloy has been repeatedly confronted by angry gun owners at town halls, to whom he responds with a litany of insufferable “in point of facts” and cherry-picked statistics. The local gun group, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, quadrupled its membership in the year after the Newtown shooting.
..




ONE-HUNDRED AND TWO PLUS

How Democrats depend on 24/7 news cycle;  intruder gets as far as the East Room before stopping...to have a press conference?

It was very hopeful.

Early in the first term it appeared the President had that special quality that great ones always have - good luck (1).

Then "history" was written and rewritten (2).  This was not POTUS's fault, necessarily.  Remember Captain Phillips and the Somali pirates, reality, and then THE MOVIE?  And how about the killing of Osama bin Laden - on live TV almost?  Perhaps this administration would prefer to go to the movies than deal with unpleasant reality that doesn't have a happy ending?  Can't blame them! (3)

Carrying only a knife, the intruder might have done some symbolic damage if he had been so inclined and come upon, for example, a tourist?

-----------------

Sources:

  1. http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29227597
  2. http://nypost.com/2014/09/13/how-falsehoods-and-fibs-have-shaped-the-obama-presidency/
  3. Remember the quote from Mark Twain? 
  4. And how about intruders into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?  "...In previous comments, Ms. Pierson said she was troubled by how Mr. Gonzalez was able to evade the White House defenses. In an interview last week, she told The New York Times 'It’s unacceptable to me that Mr. Gonzalez was able to penetrate the North Portico door'.” Further comments in the NYTimes article indicates that the East Room was penetrated.  SOURCE:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/01/us/lawmakers-grill-secret-service-chief-over-white-house-breach.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=LedeSum&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0




ONE-HUNDRED AND ONE

Who's in charge of immigration?

So in the U.S.A. today, drug cartels in Central America, perhaps, can act faster than Congress?  Or did the White House "leading from behind policy" triumph?

It seems to About Town a misunderstanding of the meaning of American citizenship.  Why bother keeping the Statue of Liberty open, renovating Ellis Island and apparently having any other level of government than the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.  Except, of course, for historical reference.

Of course "federal" government, according to Dictionary.com has as its first listed definition:  "pertaining to or of the nature of a union of states under a central government distinct from the individual governments of the separate states, as in federal government; federal system."

But laws and constitutions can be changed - just remember to vote in CT on Nov. 4th!

-------------

OYSTER CREEK, Tex. — A shelter for Central American children who crossed the border illegally opened behind Gregg Griffith’s house here a few months ago. The children are quiet. No one has hopped over the fence that separates his backyard from the shelter, a once-vacant youth home. But when Mr. Griffith looks at the brightly painted brick buildings, he is mostly resentful.

“That’s my tax money taking care of a foreign national or however you want to classify them,” said Mr. Griffith, 51, a volunteer fireman and researcher at a chemical plant. “I don’t want to take care of a foreign national. It’s not my problem. We did house kids in Brazoria County there at the youth home. I sort of feel like we should be taking care of our own first.”

Overwhelmed by an influx of unaccompanied minors who are fleeing violence in their home countries in Central America, federal officials are searching the country for places to house them and have been forced to scrap some proposed shelter sites in California, Connecticut, Iowa, New York and other states because of widespread opposition from residents and local officials.  From the NYTIMES story online 7-17-14.




ONE- HUNDRED

Fireworks in honor of number one-hundred or maybe for what the U.S. Supreme Court just did?

In a sign of the times, the Town of Weston's Parks and Recreation Department has unilaterally adopted a parking plan for school events!  Valet parking?

In this ground-breaking program, those who are able and willing and also paying ATTENTION, will be given priority parking spaces for a $20 charge.  Cheap at the price!

Parks and Rec has always been held to having its programs pay for themselves as a requirement of budget expenditures, so that fits with the future plans for figuring out how to pay the electric bill for Stadium Lights usage.

The federal government hasn't called up yet to find out how P&R does it, yet!

-------------------


Will Westonites pay attention in time to take advantage of this deal?

Here's the secret to a successful Weston Fireworks:  Reserve a parking spot for $20 in advance!

LIMITED PREMIUM PARKING SPACE IS AVAILABLE @$20.00 PER CAR

Must purchase ticket and pre pay for window permit at Parks & Recreation office prior to the 4th.

(RAIN DATE SATURDAY JULY 5th)


NINETY-NINE

Handsome is as handsome does?

A sign of the times - and a comment on the City of Stockton's decay?


--------------------









NINETY-EIGHTH JOKE

No comment.

-------------

IRS Has Lost More E-mails . . .
By Eliana Johnson
June 17, 2014 11:31 AM

It’s not just Lois Lerner’s e-mails. The Internal Revenue Service says it can’t produce e-mails from six more employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups, according to two Republicans investigating the scandal.

The IRS recently informed Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany that computer crashes resulted in additional lost e-mails, including from Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal.

The revelation about Lerner’s e-mails rekindled the targeting scandal and today’s news has further inflamed Republicans. Camp and Boustany are now demanding a special prosecutor to investigate “every angle” of the events that led to Lois Lerner’s revelation in May 2013 that the agency had used inappropriate criteria to review the applications for tax exemption.

The lawmakers expressed particular outrage that the agency has known since February that it would not be able to produce the e-mails requested by the committee yet did not apprise the committee of that fact, and they charged in a statement that the IRS is attempting to “cover up the fact that it convenient lost key documents in the investigation.”

If Lerner is the central figure in the scandal — Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa said Monday evening he believes she was the senior-most official involved — Flax may be an important auxiliary figure. E-mails produced in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the group Judicial Watch show Flax giving the green light to Lerner’s request to meet with Department of Justice officials to explore the possibility of criminally prosecuting nonprofit groups — at the suggestion of Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse — for engaging in political activity after declaring on their application for nonprofit status that they had no plans to do so.

E-mails uncovered by the committee last week showed that, in preparation for her meeting with the Department of Justice, Lerner and one of her advisers transmitted 1.1 million pages of data on nonprofit groups, including confidential taxpayer information, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, potentially in violation of federal law.




NINETY-SEVENTH JOKE

Back in the U.S.S.R.?

Why is the White House so happy about the crisis in the Ukraine?

They are hoping people will identify the Republicans, known as "red states" on TV, etc. as the bad guys here.  And by the way, isn't John Kerry doing an awesome imitation of Woodrow Wilson?

----------------


POWER POINT



NINETY-SIXTH JOKE

Similarities

How is Bridgeport like Chicago?

Let's say how about "How is Connecticut like Illinois?" instead. 

Small in physical as well as numerical size, Connectuct bears close resemblance to the city politics of the first Mayor Daley observed through the years. 

"Vote early and often" - the most accurate description of this type of organization's practices, is how to stuff the ballot box - the dead vote in Chicago. 

----------------


A trio :
In jail, in the White House and the second Mayor Daley, retired.




NINETY-FIFTH JOKE

The coming of the next civil war?

Who knew European and Japanese companies bringing jobs to the industrial sector in America were the new enemies of the state?  Just wait.  Double-speak of the administratiion and its supporters will force a new election and the press will weigh in heavily - JMO.  NYTIMES artical says 45% of cars bought in the U.S.A. were made in Detroit, 30% in the south and the rest are imported.

“Look at what happened to the auto manufacturers in Detroit and how they struggled. They all shared one huge factor: the U.A.W...”

How does jaywalking correlate with foreign car ownership? 

--------------------------------


POLITICALLY CORRECT PEDESTRIAN BEHAVIOR
No jaywalking in Santa Monica, California, IMPE.  NYC wars on it:  Our question...how to you equally hand out justice without getting killed?  A quixotic effort?



NINETY-FOURTH JOKE


Pot luck.

President Obama proclaimed that he had used pot and found it "no more effective than liquor"  Did we miss something?  Who said either substance is "effective?"  One is legal and the other isn't (except in Colorado and the State of Washington).

As was said about President Nixon: What did he know and when did he know it?"


--------------------------------

Obama: Pot is not more dangerous than alcohol

CT POST
Updated 9:32 pm, Sunday, January 19, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said he doesn't think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer."

"As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol," the president said an interview with "The New Yorker" magazine.

Smoking marijuana is "not something I encourage, and I've told my daughters I think it's a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy," Obama said.

Obama's administration has given states permission to experiment with marijuana regulation, and laws recently passed in Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana recently went into effect. The president said it was important for the legalization of marijuana to go forward in those states to avoid a situation in which only a few are punished while a large portion of people have broken the law at one time or another.

The president said he is troubled at the disproportionate number of arrests and imprisonments of minorities for marijuana use. "Middle-class kids don't get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do," he said. "And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties."

He said in the interview that users shouldn't be locked up for long stretches of time when people writing drug laws "have probably done the same thing."

But Obama urged a cautious approach to changing marijuana laws, saying that people who think legalizing pot will solve social problems are "probably overstating the case."

"And the experiment that's going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge," the president said.

Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance praised Obama's words, saying his use of the word "important" about the new Colorado and Washington laws "really puts the wind in the sails of the movement to end marijuana prohibition.

Critics of the new laws raise concerns about public health and law enforcement, asking whether wide availability of the drug will lead to more underage drug use, more cases of driving while high and more crime.



NINETY-THIRD JOKE

Very funny.

We found this online first this morning at the New York Post, but decided to directly link to the SNL website.

Humor on a professional scale is something that you may not think is funny, but a whole lot of other people do!!!  And people get paid a lot of money for this, too.  Actually, I find President Obama funnier than this impersonation.  For example...but we digress.  

For sure the biggest joke of all has been the way no one asked "How will we pay for health care for those who have been deprived of it without having those with insurance already, not paying more?"

And if you don't like this methode, how about raising taxes on the"rich?"  Especially in light of some new interpretation of what "rich" mrans?


NINETY-SECOND JOKE

"Extraordinarily  sad" from official comment.  Not so funny, either.

This is an interesting story, showing the weaknesses of the high-tech, N.S.A. spy-type security when it comes to the most important role of the Secret Service:  Protecting the President of the United State of America.  Of course, President Obama is not exactly unpopular in Africa, so perhaps he would not have been a target of a witting assassin.

-------------

FROM THE A.P.

...The fiasco surrounding the use of Jantjie to provide sign language translation before a worldwide television audience has turned into an international embarrassment for South Africa, whose ruling party, the African National Congress, and president, Jacob Zuma, have already lost popularity because of corruption scandals and other public grievances. But the ANC is far more powerful than the opposition and Zuma, who was booed at the Mandela memorial, is likely to be its candidate in elections next year.

The U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said Friday that "we're all very upset" about Jantjie, who was just 3 feet from Obama at the memorial service for Mandela, who died Dec. 5 at 95.

Thomas-Greenfield told reporters in Kenya that U.S. officials are concerned about security and how Jantjie could have gotten so close to world leaders. She said officials were also dismayed because people watching around the world who needed sign language weren't able to understand what was said at the ceremony. She called the problem "extraordinarily sad."

South Africa's arts and culture minister, Paul Mashatile, apologized for the use of Jantjie on Friday, marking the second apology from the government in two days, and said reforms must be implemented to ensure such an incident doesn't happen again.

"Without passing judgment, nobody should be allowed to undermine our languages. We sincerely apologize to the deaf community and to all South Africans for any offense that may have been suffered," Mashatile said in a statement.

He did not comment on who was responsible for hiring the sign interpreter.

Four government departments involved in organizing the historic memorial service distanced themselves from the hiring of Jantjie, telling the AP they had no contact with him.


NINETY-FIRST JOKE



LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD

How are We doing, the White House asks?  Same for Connecticut, in lock step with D.C.

Let's see...in 2006, the Pew folks studied state debt and discovered that in all the United States of America, all 50 of them, the accounting standard of "80% funded" for post-employment benefits for public employees
was being met by 21 states (and not, by 29). 

In 2012, Pew did an update showing that there were some changes, in the wrong direction, since then...statistics may don't lie, they are just misused.

2006 - of the 50 states, 20 were at 80%;  or you might say that 60 percent of states were behind the curve, since the return on their investments in 2006 were not keeping up with future obligations;
2012 - of the 50 states, 16 were at 80%;  or we've been moving in the wrong direction, with 68% now in arrears on OPEB.

Why do you think this is so?  Maybe because the pension funds assume, as they do in CT, @8% return on investments?  Connecticut, land of steady habits, moved from 56% behind West Virginia and tied with Rhode Island, to 53% behind Rhode Island and Illinois.  Hey - maybe the Governor can say we have improved our position from second worst to third worst state in the nation for funding pernsions.

Do you think the brillliant deal made with CT state employees when he first come to power in 2011 might have had something to do with any of this? 



NINETIETH JOKE

IF YOU LIKE YOUR TURKEY YOU CAN KEEP YOUR TURKEY


Pardon this turkey and kill free speech?  We should all be very worried about this news from Reuters...


EIGHTY-NINTH JOKE



REMEMBER THE 1979 HOSTAGE CRISIS?

Making Jimmy Carter look like a war monger, not an easy task!

A while back..."President Carter:  Two helicopters not necessary - only use one to retrieve the hostages" 

Fast forward to the remake (similar to "second prize is 2 weeks in Philadelphia WC Fields joke).  Punch line in this case is "President Obama:  Don't use any helicopters."

Who said history doesn't repeat itself
- oops, or do they say history DOES repeat itself?  My bad. 

In any event, it is incorrect to say this time is the same thing as Munich accord pre-WWII - because it happened in Geneva!

--------------------


His hard work completed, Mr. Obama head home.  But the President turns and waves...like the queen?

"Peace by pieces" a 6 month slam-dunk? Reminds us of this.


Maybe "Wilt (the Stilt)" could have pulled it off at Munich?


EIGHTY-EIGHTH JOKE

The "bomb" means what in the 21st century?  This was a link (in part) from "What? Wait!" blog





EIGHTY-SEVENTH JOKE
   
Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) Eugene Aram: "Torture the data long enough and they will confess to anything."  And more.

Long believed by those who have taught statistics, that data doesn't lie, it just gets misused, here we have one of the bigger examples of this fact in 2013.  Just a few items taken directly from the NYTIMES article onmedical standards for statin use, Nov. 18,  2013:

The problem might have stemmed from the fact that the calculator uses as reference points data collected more than a decade ago, when more people smoked and had strokes and heart attacks earlier in life. For example, the guideline makers used data from studies in the 1990s to determine how various risk factors like cholesterol levels and blood pressure led to actual heart attacks and strokes over a decade of observation.  But people have changed in the past few decades, Dr. Blaha said. Among other things, there is no longer such a big gap between women’s risks and those of men at a given age. And people get heart attacks and strokes at older ages.  “The cohorts were from a different era,” Dr. Blaha said.

The calculator overpredicted risk by 75 to 150 percent, depending on the population. A man whose risk was 4 percent, for example, might show up as having an 8 percent risk. With a 4 percent risk, he would not warrant treatment — the guidelines that say treatment is advised for those with at least a 7.5 percent risk and that treatment can be considered for those whose risk is 5 percent.  “Miscalibration to this extent should be reconciled and addressed before these new prediction models are widely implemented,” Dr. Ridker and Dr. Cook wrote in The Lancet. “If real, such systematic overestimation of risk will lead to considerable overprescription.”

“We’re surrounded by a real disaster in terms of credibility,” said Dr. Peter Libby, the chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital...more of the article follows.

--------------

Risk Calculator for Cholesterol Appears Flawed

By GINA KOLATA, NYTIMES
November 17, 2013

Last week, the nation’s leading heart organizations released a sweeping new set of guidelines for lowering cholesterol, along with an online calculator meant to help doctors assess risks and treatment options. But, in a major embarrassment to the health groups, the calculator appears to greatly overestimate risk, so much so that it could mistakenly suggest that millions more people are candidates for statin drugs.

The apparent problem prompted one leading cardiologist, a past president of the American College of Cardiology, to call on Sunday for a halt to the implementation of the new guidelines.

“It’s stunning,” said the cardiologist, Dr. Steven Nissen, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. “We need a pause to further evaluate this approach before it is implemented on a widespread basis.”

...Some doctors who tested the calculator with hypothetical patients wondered if they should trust the results.

Dr. Nissen entered the figures for a 60-year-old African-American man with no risk factors — total cholesterol of 150, HDL (the good cholesterol) of 45, systolic blood pressure of 125 — who was not a diabetic or a smoker. He ended up with a 10-year risk of 7.5 percent, meaning he should be taking cholesterol-lowering statins despite being in a seemingly low-risk group.

Dr. Nissen also calculated the figures for a healthy white man, age 60, and also got a risk factor of 7.5 percent.

“Something is terribly wrong,” Dr. Nissen said. Using the calculator’s results, he said, “your average healthy Joe gets treated, virtually every African-American man over 65 gets treated.”

Bread Is Dangerous

Important Warning for those who have been drawn unsuspectingly into the use of bread:

1. More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread users.
2. Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests.
3. In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever, and influenza ravaged whole nations.
4. More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread.
5. Bread is made from a substance called "dough." It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average American eats more bread than that in one month!
6. Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low incidence of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and osteoporosis.
7. Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and given only water to eat begged for bread after as little as two days.
8. Bread is often a "gateway" food item, leading the user to "harder" items such as butter, jelly, peanut butter, and even cold cuts.

9. Bread has been proven to absorb water. Since the human body is more than 90 percent water, it follows that eating bread could lead to your body being taken over by this absorptive food product, turning you into a soggy, gooey bread-pudding person.
10. Newborn babies can choke on bread.
11. Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit! That kind of heat can kill an adult in less than one minute.
12. Most American bread eaters are utterly unable to distinguish between significant scientific fact and meaningless statistical babbling.

In light of these frightening statistics, we propose the following bread restrictions:

1. No sale of bread to minors.
2. A nationwide "Just Say No To Toast" campaign, complete with celebrity TV spots and bumper stickers.
3. A 300 percent federal tax on all bread to pay for all the societal ills we might associate with bread.
4. No animal or human images, nor any primary colors (which may appeal to children) may be used to promote bread usage.
5. The establishment of "Bread-free" zones around schools

-David J. Devejian



EIGHT-SIXTH JOKE


ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK

DO YOU FEEL LUCKY TODAY, DO YOU, PUNK (NOT PICTURED ABOVE)?

Who can forget that line from "Dirty Harry?"  Turnabout is fair play!

Based upon the violent, frightening and, as it turns out, accurate visions of the future (almost), is it any surprise that this gentleman (c) may be in line for a cabinet appointment in the new NYC Mayor's cabinet?



EIGHTY-FIFTH JOKE



Mark Mardell: Obama’s worst week yet?
I-BBC
15 November 2013

It has been a pretty dreadful week for President Barack Obama. Flapping around his head are a whole flock of chickens coming home to roost.

This is all about his greatest achievement - the law for which he will be remembered - the programme nicknamed for him, Obamacare.  It is in trouble. He is in trouble.

The sign-up for Obamacare was pitiful. He was forced into holding a news conference of abject apology while Democrats, most notably Bill Clinton, ran as fast as they could away from the president whose poll ratings had just plunged to a new low.

It was capped by a savaging from Jon Stewart. Can it get worse than that?

'Folks are frustrated'

I'm reminded of the doyen of spin doctors, Alistair Campbell, when journalists wrote that some speech or other of Tony Blair's was "the most important of his career".

He laconically agreed it probably was, since the last most important speech of his career. And until the next one.  The same is true of Mr Obama's worst week. That news conference was the full-blown humble-pie-eating act. Here's a selection of quotes:

"I understand why folks are frustrated."
"I do make apologies for not having executed better over the last several months."
"We and I did not have enough awareness about the problems in the website."
"That's on me."
"That's something I deeply regret."
"I feel deeply responsible for making it harder for them rather than easier."
"When we don't do a good job on the rollout, we're letting them down. And, you know, I don't - I don't like doing that."
"I said early on when I was running, I am not a perfect man and I will not be a perfect president."
"There have been times where I thought we were - got, you know, slapped around a little bit unjustly. This one's deserved, all right? It's on us."

'Acute distress'

I haven't seen the president squirm like this since his shell-shocked performance after his shellacking in the 2010 mid-terms. Then he wondered aloud how he'd lost the plot and how he could do better.

Then his acute distress must have reflected his understanding of just how bad his plight was. When he lost the House, he lost all hope of pushing through the rest of an ambitious progressive agenda.  Now his one historic achievement, the one big law he got through before he lost the House, is in grave danger. With it his whole reputation, his legacy.

A colleague pointed out that only last week, we - and the rest of the media - were highlighting the hole the Republicans were in. It is true. They are in a mess, and so is Mr Obama.

Their problem is about how to win elections, his is about the limits on what you can do after you've won...story in full here.





NOTE:  Since newly redesigned Town website no longer links to "About Weston" we will resume political commentary held in abeyance since the 2008 election.
EIGHTY-FOURTH JOKE

Questionnaires developed by Democrats?

Guess who developed the questionnaire Edward Snowden took to become employed by the C.I.A.?  No, not Darth Vader - rarther by U.S.I.S., who's corporate mission statements include:

"To deliver best-in-class people, processes, and technology in partnership with our diverse customer base*, creating value for shareholders, employees, and the community. Ensuring a Safer Future Today.®"

------------------
*
Who else (i.e. Russia) uses U.S.I.S.?

U.S. Joins Lawsuit Against Firm That Vetted Snowden

By REUTERS
October 30, 2013

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday it joined a lawsuit filed by a whistleblower against United States Investigations Services, the firm that vetted Edward Snowden, who leaked documents about U.S. spying efforts.

The lawsuit alleges that USIS failed to perform quality control reviews in connection with its background investigations, the department said.

(Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha)


EIGHTY-THIRD JOKE

BINGO!

We've finally figured out just what President Obama, who is a very sharp community organizer and a smart guy, is up to!  Because so many people will be thrown off their medical insurance plans, they will have to default to A.C.A.  And since it is an emergency, nobody will notice that ACORN-like theft is goling on, and anyone who suggests this is unamerican...you get lour drift?



EIGHTY-SECOND JOKE

Bow-tie night before the revolution?

President Obama, making a series of appearanceas on friendly news outlets and late-nite shows, reveals the underlying theme of his campaign for re-election: fiddle while Rome burns.

Notice in our series of sketches above, how leading from behind, his foreign policy doctrine, and spending what you don't have, his domestic agenda, mesh perfectly! 

How else could anyone consider smiling lately, unless they truly believed that as the world economy, as we have known it, zooms rapidly for the shredder, that this country will gain from a global reassignment of power? 

Before the Election of 2008 we wrote about this 2007 graphic (clothing and footware) on the world economy - which relates to the "joke" being discussed, we think.

Food for thought...

----------------


Word of the new slogan (2008 "Hope and Change") for 2012 - "Forward"


OTHER USERS OF THE SAME SLOGAN (ABOVE), WE THINK...
Following overturning of Affordable Health Care Act, perhaps, this is an excellent message to the 99%?




EIGHTY-FIRST JOKE

Open mike nite

What are we to think?  Our super leader blurts out that he wants to make nice with Putin but don't tell anybody until after the November election?  If you follow my drift, Putin might suggest "Why let something as out of date like the Constitution keep you from running as many times as you'd like?"

Think about it:  FDR had four (4) terms (died in office) and after that there was the 22nd Amendment - after the fact, prior to Dwight D. Eisenhower - who probably would still be getting re-elected even after death, had this amendment not been put in place!

---------------


Bunny funny: RNC teases Obama with Easter photo
Washington Times
By Dave Boyer
April 7, 2012, 01:49PM

The Republican National Committee's communications department poked a little Easter fun at President Obama Saturday.

The RNC emailed reporters an official White House photograph of Mr. Obama whispering into the Easter Bunny's ear during the 2009 Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn. RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer suggested the following caption:

Mr. Obama: "After Easter, I will have more flexibility."
Easter Bunny: "I understand. I will transmit this information to Santa."

It's a reference to Mr. Obama's recent "hot mic" moment with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on the subject of missile defense.  The photo actually depicts Mr. Obama trying to use "rabbit ears" as a microphone while technicians worked to fix the real microphones on stage.

-------------

The Twenty-second Amendment of the United States Constitution sets a term limit for the President of the United States. The Congress passed the amendment on March 21, 1947. It was ratified by the requisite number of states on February 27, 1951.

Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.


EIGHTIETH NOT REALLY A JOKE

Charter Revision

Since est. 25 citizens (more in the room, but they were employees) showed up for the Board of Finance Public Hearing on the FY'12 budget, how many people will participate in the following events:
We believe 90% of enrolled Westonites will vote in November for President.  Will they vote on Charter Revisions, also on the ballot?




SEVENTY-NINTH JOKE

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

No cuts to the Education budget.  Board of Ethics ultimately said "no conflict" and all's right with the world.


SEVENTY-EIGHTH JOKE

SPEAKING OF SUNSHINE AND ETHICS IN GOVERNMENT...AND TWISTING IN THE WIND
Sunny it seems everyday in Weston, and another Special Meeting at 6:30pm in the Commission Room at Town Hall

POWER TO THE PEOPLE - BUT WHICH PEOPLE?

This is a touchy topic in Weston, Connecticut.   The Board of Ethics is still asking why the people overwhelmingly preferred the candidate who, it was alledged, had an ethics problem?

There is much to be covered up in the way things are done even in Weston, CT.  The biggest scandal is why no one seems to care about either the Board of Ethics or the Charter Revision Commission and how they can take power away from "the people" but also operate regularly in special meeting mode.

Altho' we fully understand that timely action is something to be valued in a case that might affect the budget process.  And its results (altho' we'd do a double-take if this Board of Finance made more than @ a $150,000 cut to the proposed approved school budget). 



SEVENTY-SEVENTH JOKE

GETTING IN SHAPE FOR 2012 CAMPAIGN?


-------------------

Dear Average American: It’s All Your Fault
The President thinks national lack of ambition is causing our economic doldrums.
National Review
Jonah Goldberg
November 18, 2011 12:00 A.M.

Congratulations, average American! It’s your turn to be blamed for President Obama’s — and America’s — problems.

This is the biggest honor you’ve won since Time magazine named “you” the Person of the Year.

Being the root cause of our dire national predicament puts you in some very august company indeed. You are joining the ranks of George W. Bush, the Japanese tsunami, the Arab Spring, Wall Street fat cats, and other luminaries, both living and merely anthropomorphized.

Last week at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Obama explained, “We’ve been a little bit lazy over the last couple of decades. We’ve kind of taken for granted — ‘Well, people would want to come here’ — and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new businesses into America.”

The White House and its proxies insist that Obama wasn’t talking about Americans per se. He just meant we’ve been lazy about attracting foreign investment.

We’ll come back to that in a minute. For now, let’s take him at his word.

Still, you can understand the confusion. In September, the president reflected in an interview that America is “a great, great country that has gotten a little soft, and we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades.”

Shortly after that, he told rich donors at a fundraiser that “we have lost our ambition, our imagination and our willingness to do the things that built the Golden Gate Bridge and Hoover Dam.”

So, Obama thinks Americans lack ambition and are soft, but don’t you dare suggest that he also thinks they’re lazy.

The point of all this is pretty obvious. Obama has a long-standing habit of seeing failure to support his agenda as a failure of character. The Democratic voters of western Pennsylvania refused to vote for him, he explained, because they were “bitter.” He told black Democrats lacking sufficient enthusiasm for his reelection to “Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’.”

And in the context of the country’s economic doldrums, Obama sees a lack of ambition, softness, laziness, etc., in anyone who doesn’t support his agenda. He has spent several years now exhorting Americans about how we have to “win the future” by doing what he says. He has told us repeatedly that this is our “Sputnik moment” when all Americans must drop their selfish, cynical, or foolish objections to his program. People who disagree aren’t putting their “country first.”

He’s constantly stoking nationalistic and quasi-paranoid fears of China to goad Americans into supporting ever more “investments” in green energy and high-speed white elephants.

Indeed, China always seems to be on the man’s mind. He has even reportedly expressed envy for Chinese president Hu Jintao. “Mr. Obama has told people that it would be so much easier to be the president of China,” the New York Times reported last year. “As one official put it, ‘No one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao’s words in Tahrir Square.’” What’s so pathetic here — other than the obvious grotesqueness of envying a totalitarian tyrant — is that Obama’s objections are so baseless. Americans remain the most productive workers in the world. As Obama himself notes, we attract more foreign investment than any other country.

Meanwhile, it’s Obama and his allies in Congress who’ve been at the forefront of the effort to make America less competitive. Obama delayed free-trade deals for years, until he could lard them up with Big Labor giveaways. He has thrown roadblocks in front of a multibillion-dollar U.S.–Canada pipeline project, which many ambitious and imaginative people see as something like this generation’s Hoover Dam or Golden Gate Bridge. He did postpone those new job-killing smog regulations his EPA administrator wants, but he has also let everyone — including foreign investors — know that he’ll put them back on the agenda if he’s reelected.

In 2008, Obama said Bush’s deficit of $9 trillion was “unpatriotic.” Now he questions the patriotism of those who think the Obama deficit of $15 trillion argues against spending even more money we don’t have. And of course, there’s that giant unfunded disaster known as Obamacare, which Nancy Pelosi claimed was a “jobs bill” because it would lead to “an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance.”

But, yes, by all means, let’s blame our lack of competitiveness on the American people.



SEVENTY - SIXTH JOKE

WHO IS BEHIND THE MASK? 

Get your tickets now for the 2012 Republican National Convention - and, although we doubt it, the 2012 Democrat Convention as well.  In the grand tradition from across the pond,  Guy Fawkes Day, prepare for street theatre and riots.


-------------------

PROTESTS:  Not exactly like the Tea Party (original Boston version)...or those staged at the GOP Convention in 2004, either.

Inspired by the excellent press coverage in San Francisco of its inspired protests at rush hour recently, online-inspired protests on Wall Street (bottom, left) may have reminded some of the parades during the 2004 Republican Convention held in New York City (next photos).





SEVENTY - FIFTH JOKE

POWER TO THE PEOPLE

The question many in Connecticut are asking lately is "power to which people?"  And what is the pecking order?  Considering that Weston is a really, really big user of the power grid, how come the power company didn't notice?  Should Weston start it own power company, for example, by installing multiple fuel cells in the center of town?

And while we are at it, there is the broader question:  Do you need politicians turn on the lights? 

Since energy policy is part of the political agenda, what can CT communities look forward to in a winter storm event 2011-2012?  One answer might be to invite more politicians to town:  You won't need heat with all the hot air in the room.


--------------------


Photo from CT NEWSJUNKIE makes us ask.



SEVENTY - FOURTH JOKE

HAVE WE HEARD THIS BEFORE?

Although,of course he doesn't mean to suggest anything as efficient as "redistributing the wealth"  in the manner of some others we remember from history,  "restarting civilization" around an agrarian rebirth sounds sort of like some things we've heard in the wake of the deal on raising the debt limit.  And Wikipedia's brief recap of Pol Pot finally explains to me that the holocaust in Cambodia only came after the displaced royal family joined forces with the Khmer Rouge.

---------------------

Pol Pot
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Saloth Sar (May 19, 1925 – April 15, 1998),[1][2] better known as Pol Pot, (Khmer: ប៉ុល ពត), was a Cambodian Chinese revolutionary who led the Khmer Rouge[3] from 1963 until his death in 1998. From 1976 to 1979, he served as the Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea.

Pol Pot became leader of Cambodia in mid-1975.[4] During his time in power he imposed a version of agrarian socialism, forcing urban dwellers to relocate to the countryside to work in collective farms and forced labor projects, toward a goal of "restarting civilization" in "Year Zero." The combined effects of forced labor, malnutrition, poor medical care and executions resulted in the deaths of approximately 21 percent of the Cambodian population.[5] In all, an estimated 1,700,000–2,500,000 people died under his leadership.

In 1979 after the invasion of Cambodia by neighboring Vietnam in the Cambodian–Vietnamese War, he fled into the jungles of southwest Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge government collapsed.[6] From 1979 to 1997 he and a remnant of the old Khmer Rouge operated from the border region of Cambodia and Thailand, where they clung to power, with nominal United Nations recognition as the rightful government of Cambodia.

He died in 1998 while under house arrest by the Ta Mok faction of the Khmer Rouge. Since his death, rumours that he was poisoned have persisted.[7]



SEVENTY-THIRD JOKE

BACK TO SCHOOL

Nothing like polishing up on your A, B, C's over the summer!  We'll do "A" today.

1.  "A" is what all Weston students seek to get for a grade.

2.  "A.A." is an organization that inspires people with alcohol abuse problems to turn their lives around. 

3.  "A.A.A." is the classification governments receive if they have gotten their financial ducks in a row. 

Got all that?  If you are the U.S. Government you are about to find out some other definitions, we suspect.



SEVENTY-SECOND JOKE

This isn't funny.

-------------------------

John Edwards charged in felony indictment
YAHOO
By MIKE BAKER and NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press
3 June 2011

RALEIGH, North Carolina – A federal grand jury has indicted two-time presidential candidate John Edwards over massive sums of money spent to keep his mistress in hiding during the peak of his 2008 campaign for the White House.

The case of USA v. Johnny Reid Edwards contains six counts, including conspiracy, four counts of illegal campaign contributions and one count of false statements. The indictment was returned in the Middle District of North Carolina Friday.

An Edwards spokeswoman said she wasn't aware of the filing and declined immediate comment.  The indictment is the culmination of a federal investigation that lasted more than two years and scoured through virtually every corner of Edwards' political career.


SEVENTY-FIRST JOKE

ROTTEN TO THE CORE?

This week the sorry story of DSK at the Sofitel in Manhattan broke.

How long do you think it will take to find out from the press that former Governor Jon Huntsman has done things that shock Americans and especially Republicans to the core?

So far we know that he works well with others, has seven (7) children but only one wife.  His opinion:  America's power
“has been weakened by an economic core that is rotting out,’’ is what many know but are too afraid to say. 

--------------------------




Huntsman calls for new U.S. ‘industrial revolution’
Manchester Union Leader
John DiStaso, Senior Political Reporter
Published May 22, 2011 at 3:00 am (Updated May 21, 2011)

MANCHESTER — Unapologetic for being “respectful” and “gracious” to the Democratic President who appointed him, potential Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman came to New Hampshire this weekend not to criticize Barack Obama, but rather to call for a new “industrial revolution” fueled by domestically produced energy and tax and regulatory reform.

Huntsman, the 51-year-old former governor of Utah who resigned in August 2009 to become Obama’s ambassador to China, this morning is beginning the fourth of five days in the first-primary state as he gauges the proverbial presidential waters.

Followed by a horde of media, mostly from Washington, Huntsman, who will make a decision with his wife and seven children next month on whether to run for President, is well-known in Washington, but is a largely unknown in the Granite State.

To build name recognition and, presumably, the foundation of an activist base, Huntsman’s visit has included 12 stops, centered on his delivery Saturday of the commencement address at Southern New Hampshire University.

Huntsman, after being appointed ambassador, wrote Obama a personal “thank you” note calling him “a remarkable leader.” He wrote a similar complimentary note to former President Bill Clinton and said he was “impressed” with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

While some say that throws his Republican credentials into question, Huntsman told the New Hampshire Sunday News that expressing gratitude in writing “is a great American tradition.”

Interviewed on Friday over a bowl of chili and side dish of jalapeno peppers at Shorty’s restaurant, Huntsman said he does not regret serving in the Democratic administration.

“I’ll continue to write ‘thank you’ notes and be gracious,” he said. “There’s a difference between a gracious ‘thank you’ and what one blog termed a ‘love letter.’

“You might be respectful of someone that may not share the same world view.”

U.S-China relations is “a bipartisan issue, and (as ambassador) you’re there to protect, promote U.S. interests,” he said.

Huntsman represented the Democratic President for nearly two years in China, a nation with an $18 billion trade surplus over the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“If there’s one relationship in this world that matters for the next generation and for their financial well-being, it really is the U.S.-China relationship.”

He said for the relationship to “break through,” the White House, regardless of its occupant, should have a “singularity of focus” on China much like the U.S. had with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Huntsman said the U.S. trade deficit with China can be reduced without imposing huge tariffs on their imports. Such tariffs, he said, “would throw us into a depression.”

“The best answer is to get our own house in order,” he said. U.S. “power” in its relationship with China “has been weakened by an economic core that is rotting out,’’ he said. “When we have a weak core, we’re less able to project the goodness of the United States, the power of the United States to manage our foreign policy interests.”

To fix the economy, Huntsman called for an “industrial revolution” fueled not only by the aggressive budget-cutting and entitlement reform outlined in Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan, but also by reform of individual and corporate taxes as well as regulations.

He said his state, after instituting such reforms, became “the Number 1 economy in the country, the best-managed state in the country, the fastest grown state in the country.”

Huntsman called for an aggressive move toward energy independence, with natural gas as “a very important transitional product.”

Overall, he said, “We’ve got to open up opportunities (for energy production) that perhaps in an easier world, a more prosperous world, people might want to close up. But we don’t have a choice today. And federal government is supposed to facilitate that rather than hinder it.”

Huntsman said Obama’s call last week for Israel to use the 1967 borders as a starting point for negotiations with the Palestinians was “premature.”

“This is best left to the negotiators — the speed of the negotiations and where along that route they want to talk about borders. But there are a lot of other issues they have to cover as well,” he said. “By recommending pathways in advance, we probably jeopardize the process of negotiations.”

Huntsman is also skeptical of the current U.S. stance in Afghanistan, but is withholding specifics until a major speech planned for next month.

The current deployment of troops, he said, “is neither affordable nor tactically organized in ways that would address the threat. We’re fighting asymmetrical warfare, and we‘ve got to have a presence on the ground that understands what it means to fight an asymmetrical war.”

Huntsman said high-ranking Pakistanis probably knew of Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts long before the U.S. raid that resulted in his death.

“That ought to be an example that our relationship with Pakistan is not working,” said Huntsman. “It’s a disconnect between our intelligence collaboration with Pakistan and our political relationship. I suspect they knew a lot more than they were letting on.”

On heath care, Huntsman denied that he formerly supported the so-called “Obama-care” law.

The nonprofit advocacy group Protect Your Care contended on Friday that Huntsman was in favor of the Obama-signed law before he was against it.

Huntsman said he “congratulated Obama on a legislative victory,” the passage of health care reform, when the President went to China in 2009. But he said he did not support it then and believes it should be repealed.

He called the federal law “top heavy” and too costly and said it “stands in the way of the innovation being done in individual states,” including “cross-border” insurance purchasing and allowing small businesses to create pools to lower costs.

State governments “are closer to their constituencies,” he said. “I think by letting that play out and learning from their experiences, we’ll all be better served.”

Huntsman said he reformed health care in Utah without an individual mandate and that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney did “what he believes” by signing into law a plan that included such a purchase requirement.

“He did what he felt was best for his people, and you rise and fall based on whether it actually works in the end,” Huntsman said. “That’s federalism at work.”




SEVENTIETH JOKE

Did you know that The President may think that the root of the word "demagogue" is the same as the root of the word "demi-god?" 

A demagogue is sometimes defined as "a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular passions and prejudices."   "Demi-god" is defined online thusly in mythology:  "A deified man."


Sounds about right (depending on which newspaper or TV station you favor)!


-------------------------------

Demagoguery 101

Obama’s immigration speech was meant to gin up votes, not advance sound policy.
NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE 
Charles Krauthammer
May 13, 2011 12:00 A.M.

I’m going to do my part to lead a constructive and civil debate on these issues. 

– Barack Obama, speech on immigration, El Paso, Texas, May 10

Constructive and civil debate — like the one Obama initiated just four weeks ago on deficit reduction? The speech in which he accused the Republicans of abandoning families of kids with autism and Down syndrome? The debate in which Obama’s secretary of health and human services said that the Republican plan would make old folks “die sooner”?

In this same spirit of comity and mutual respect, Obama’s most recent invitation to civil discourse — on immigration — came just eleven minutes after he accused opponents of moving the goal posts on border enforcement. “Maybe they’ll need a moat,” he said sarcastically. “Maybe they want alligators in the moat.”

Nice touch. Looks like the Tucson truce — no demonization, no cross-hairs metaphors — is officially over. After all, the Republicans want to kill off the elderly, throw the disabled in the snow, and watch alligators lunch on illegal immigrants.

The El Paso speech is notable not for breaking any new ground on immigration, but for perfectly illustrating Obama’s political style: the professorial, almost therapeutic, invitation to civil discourse, wrapped around the basest of rhetorical devices — charges of malice compounded with accusations of bad faith. “They’ll never be satisfied,” said Obama about border control. “And I understand that. That’s politics.”

How understanding. The other side plays “politics,” Obama acts in the public interest. Their eyes are on poll numbers, political power, the next election; Obama’s rest fixedly on the little children.

This impugning of motives is an Obama constant. “They” play politics with deficit reduction, with government shutdowns, with health care. And now immigration. It is ironic that such a charge should be made in a speech that is nothing but politics. There is zero chance of any immigration legislation passing Congress in the next two years. El Paso was simply an attempt to gin up the Hispanic vote as part of an openly political two-city, three-event campaign swing in preparation for 2012.

Accordingly, the El Paso speech featured two other staples: the breathtaking invention and the statistical sleight of hand.

“The [border] fence is now basically complete,” asserted the president. Complete? There are now 350 miles of pedestrian fencing along the Mexican border. The border is 1,954 miles long. That’s 18 percent. And only one-tenth of that 18 percent is the double and triple fencing that has proved so remarkably effective in, for example, the Yuma sector. Another 299 miles — 15 percent — are vehicle barriers that pedestrians can walk right through.

Obama then boasted that on his watch, 31 percent more drugs have been seized, 64 percent more weapons — proof of how he has secured the border. And for more proof: Apprehension of illegal immigrants is down 40 percent. Down? Indeed, says Obama, this means that fewer people are trying to cross the border.

Interesting logic. Seizures of drugs and guns go up — proof of effective border control. Seizures of people go down — yet more proof of effective border control. Up or down, it matters not. Whatever the numbers, Obama vindicates himself.

You can believe this flimflam or you can believe the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. The GAO reported in February that less than half the border is under “operational control” of the government. Which undermines the entire premise of Obama’s charge that, because the border is effectively secure, “Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement” didn’t really mean it.

I count myself among those who really do mean it. I have little doubt that most Americans would be quite willing to regularize and legalize the current millions of illegal immigrants if they were convinced that this was the last such cohort, as evidenced by, say, a GAO finding that the border is under full operational control and certification to the same effect by the governors of the four southern border states.

Americans are a generous people. Upon receipt of objective and reliable evidence that the border is secure — not Obama’s infinitely manipulable interdiction statistics — the question would be settled and the immigrants legalized.

Why doesn’t Obama put such a provision in comprehensive immigration legislation? Because for Obama, immigration reform is not about legislation, it’s about reelection. If I may quote the president: I understand that. That’s politics.



SIXTY-NINTH JOKE

FOG

The fog comes on little cat feet...and then there was the question:  So what were all the advisors in the situation room so horrified and nervous about?  Weren't they watching reruns of American Idol?  This operation in part reminded me of a movie - perhaps The Bourne Ultimatum, or Patriot Games...

---------------------------------

The Fog of Fog
The administration cannot get its bin Laden story straight.
National Review
Michelle Malkin

May 6, 2011 12:00 A.M.

The official White House account of Osama bin Laden’s demise has seen more slapdash cosmetic surgery over the past week than your average Real Housewives reality-show star. President Obama’s allies attribute the bungled “narrative” (their word, not mine) to the “Fog of War.” But each passing day — and each new set of hapless revisions — shows that what really ails the administration is the Fog of Fog.

Errors happen. Miscommunications happen. Confusing the name of which of bin Laden’s myriad sons died (Hamza, not Khalid), for example, is no biggie.

But the hourly revamping of key details of Sunday’s raid suggests something far beyond the usual realm of situational uncertainty that accompanies any military operation. The Navy SEALs did their job spectacularly. The civilians tasked with letting the world know about the mission, however, have performed like amateur dinner-theater actors in a tragi-comic production of Rashomon Meets the Blind Men and the Elephant Meets the Keystone Kops.

Incapable of straightforward answers, Team Obama’s clarity-challenged civilians have led nauseated news-watchers through more twists and turns than San Francisco’s Lombard Street.

Take your Dramamine, and let’s review.

Take One: Bin Laden died in a bloody firefight.

On Sunday night, Obama dramatically told the world that “after a firefight,” our brave men in uniform “killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”

Embellishing the story the next morning, White House deputy national-security adviser John Brennan said at his briefing that bin Laden “was engaged in a firefight with those that entered the area of the house he was in. . . . And whether or not he got off any rounds, I quite frankly don’t know. . . . It was a firefight. He, therefore, was killed in that firefight.”

Take Two: Bin Laden did not engage in a firefight.

The day after Brennan disclosed these vivid details, White House press secretary Jay Carney walked them back Michael Jackson–style. Bin Laden, he said in version 2.0, “was not armed.” Brennan had clearly implied that bin Laden “resisted” with arms. Carney amended the narrative by insisting that “resistance does not require a firearm.” How exactly bin Laden resisted, Carney would not say.

It’s been all downhill, uphill, K-turns, and 180s ever since. Fasten your seatbelts:

Take Three: Bin Laden’s wife died after her feckless husband used her as a human shield.

Take Four: Bin Laden’s wife did not die, wasn’t used as a human shield, and was only shot in the leg. Someone else’s wife was killed, somewhere else in the house.

Take Five: A transport helicopter experienced “mechanical failure” and was forced to make a hard landing during the mission.

Take Six: A top-secret helicopter clipped the bin Laden compound wall, crashed, and was purposely exploded after the mission to prevent our enemies from learning more about it.

Take Seven: The bin Laden photos would be released to the world as proof-positive of his death.

Take Eight: The bin Laden photos would not be released to the world because no one needs proof, and it’s more important to avoid offending the peaceful Muslims who supposedly don’t embrace bin Laden as a true Muslim in the first place.

Take Nine: Bin Laden’s compound was a lavish mansion.

Take Ten: Bin Laden’s compound was a glorified pigsty.

Take Eleven: Bin Laden’s compound had absolutely no television, phone, or computer access.

Take Twelve: Bin Laden’s compound was stocked with hard drives, thumb drives, DVDs, and computers galore.

Take Thirteen: Er, remember that statement about bin Laden’s being armed? And then not armed? Well, the new version is that he had an AK-47 “nearby.”

Take Fourteen: A gung-ho Obama spearheaded the “gutsy” mission.

Take Fifteen: A reluctant Obama dithered for 16 hours before being persuaded by CIA director Leon Panetta.

Take Sixteen: Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and close advisers watched the raid unfold in real time — “minute by minute,” according to Carney — and a gripping insider photo was posted immediately by the White House on the Flickr picture-sharing website for all to see.

Take Seventeen: Er, they weren’t really watching real-time video “minute by minute,” because there was at least nearly a half-hour during which they “didn’t know just exactly what was going on,” Panetta clarified. Or rather, un-clarified.

Take Eighteen: Stalwart Obama’s order was to kill, not capture, bin Laden.

Take Nineteen: Sensitive Obama’s order was to kill or capture — and that’s why the SEAL team gave him a chance to surrender, upon which he resisted with arms, or actually didn’t resist with arms, but sort of resisted without arms, except there was an AK-47 nearby, sort of, or maybe not, thus making it possible to assert that while decisive Obama did tell the SEALs to kill bin Laden and should claim all credit for doing so, Progressive Obama can also be absolved by bleeding hearts because of the painstakingly concocted post facto possibility that bin Laden somehow threatened our military — telepathically, or something — before being taken out.

Take Twenty: “We’ve been as forthcoming with facts as we can be,” said an irritated Carney on Wednesday.

And they wonder why Americans of all political stripes think they’re blowing smoke.




SIXTY-EIGHTH JOKE

AFT!

"Leading from behind" is the new American mantra according to the New Yorker.  That publication is well known for having had the best cartoons.  Is the new "leading from behind" doctrine another one of those?




SIXTY-SEVENTH JOKE

FORE!

Did you know that there are as many jokes written by About Town as there are numbers of rounds of golf played by POTUS?  Really!




SIXTY-SIXTH JOKE

ABDICATION

Did you know that President Obama abdicated (his lecturn) the other day?

What was he thinking?  Well, maybe, we won't suggest any specific words, and go along with the official story - he left because he was late to a Christmas Party set up by his wife.

In these times of instant messaging, here was the best example of that method of communication, from a visual point of view.  See photo below.




SIXTY-FIFTH JOKE

America takes on the personality of its President.

Why are we surprised that WikiLeaks got a hand on our diplomatic information (a foreign relations pat-down)?  It was being circulated all over the globe to the armed forces.

In a worldview where our friends are dissed and our emenies embraced, this is an instant way to become isolated.  Which is to some observers the personality of the President - alone in his ivory tower, letting his politically correct bureaucrats make him look foolish and indecisive?

Perhaps.  Or not.

-------------------


HOW ARE AIR TRAVEL PAT-DOWNS LIKE WIKILEAKS? 
Both unwelcome invasions of what was private.




SIXTY-FOURTH JOKE

Basketball is not a game for sissies.  (This is not a quote from Geno. )

President Obama felt the sting of basketball competition at an away game during Thanksgiving vacation.

Inquiring minds want to know the following:  First, was there a foul called.  Second, if there were free throws awarded, did POTUS sink them?  Third, if this basketball injury took place, as was reported, at a military base, why was not the perp sent to the brig?

Will this be the recommendation next time he sees the doctor?...Mr. President, stick to golf, a non-contact sport.

------------------

President Obama gets elbowed in the mouth during basketball game
NYPOST
By CHARLES HURT D.C. Bureau Chief
Last Updated: 6:34 AM, November 27, 2010
Posted: 1:28 AM, November 27, 2010

WASHINGTON -- It was friendly fire!

President Obama -- who admitted to getting a "shellacking" from Republicans in the midterm elections -- took an elbow to the mouth while playing basketball yesterday morning with a group of family and friends in town for Thanksgiving.

The offending player was Rey Decerega, who heads a Washington-based Hispanic advocacy group.  It began as a five-on-five game at Fort McNair, a historic Army base along the Potomac River with a basketball court and surrounding security zone suitable for the leader of the free world to take out some of his frustrations through the combat of his favorite sport.

During the fifth of five games they played, an opposing player "turned into [Obama], who was playing defense, to take a shot when the elbow hit the president in the mouth," a White House official initially said.

"After being inadvertently hit with an opposing player's elbow in the lip while playing basketball with friends and family, the president received 12 stitches today administered by the White House Medical Unit," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said yesterday.

After returning from the game at 11:15 a.m., Obama got stitched up in the White House doctor's office in the mansion.  The president was given a local anesthetic while receiving the stitches. The medical unit used a smaller filament, which increases the number of stitches but makes a tighter stitch and results in a smaller scar.

At first, the White House refused to identify the player with the errant elbow or even say who was on the court at the time of the injury.  But as the day wore on and speculation from coast to coast ran wild, White House officials finally acknowledged some of the players on the court at the time and ultimately outed Decerega, director of programs for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, as the player with the razor-sharp elbows.

Decerega issued a statement of his own -- but did not back down or apologize.

"I learned today the president is both a tough competitor and a good sport," he said in a statement released by the White House.

"I enjoyed playing basketball with him this morning," Decerega said. "I'm sure he'll be back out on the court soon."

Witnessing the injury on the court was Obama's personal aide, Reggie Love, who was a star player at Duke University and often shoots hoops with the president.  Then there was Arne Duncan, Obama's education secretary and an old pal from Chicago. Duncan played basketball at Harvard and spent several years playing professionally in Australia.  Another player was Obama's nephew, Avery Robinson, who is a high school senior.

Also in town but not playing, according to the White House, was Craig Robinson, Obama's brother-in-law and Avery's father.  The elder Robinson coaches the Oregon State University men's basketball team, which is in town for a game today against Howard University.

Earlier report...
Obama gets served on court, needs 12 stitches

Stamford ADVOCATE
Published: 04:22 p.m., Friday, November 26, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama needed 12 stitches in his lip after taking an errant elbow during a pickup basketball game Friday with a group of family and friends visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday, the White House said.

First word about the injury came in a statement from press secretary Robert Gibbs nearly three hours after the incident saying that Obama was inadvertently struck by someone's elbow. The individual was not identified.

Obama received the stitches under local anesthesia in the doctor's office on the ground floor White House after he returned home. The medical unit that treated Obama used a smaller filament than typically used, which increases the number of stitches but makes a tighter stitch and results in a smaller scar.

The president had gone to nearby Fort McNair to indulge in one of his favorite athletic pursuits, a game of basketball. It was a five-on-five contest involving family and friends and including Reggie Love, Obama's personal assistant who played at Duke University.

Obama emerged from the building after about 90 minutes of play, wearing a short-sleeve T-shirt and gym pants, and was seen dabbing at his mouth with what appeared to be a wad of gauze. A few hours later, reporters who had gathered on the White House driveway for the arrival of the Christmas tree, saw the president in an upstairs window, pressing an ice pack against his mouth before he stood and walked away.

"After being inadvertently hit with an opposing player's elbow in the lip while playing basketball with friends and family, the president received 12 stitches today administered by the White House Medical Unit," Gibbs said.

Obama's motorcade obeyed all traffic stops, the custom for nonofficial trips, during the return to the White House.

In February, Obama, 49, was deemed to be in excellent health and fit for duty after his first medical checkup as president. Doctors reported then that Obama had yet to kick a smoking habit, takes anti-inflammatory medication to relieve chronic tendinitis in his left knee and should make dietary changes to reduce his cholesterol levels.

Obama was told to return for another physical exam in August 2011, after he turns 50. In addition to regular pickup basketball games, Obama is also an avid golfer.

Obama had no public events scheduled during the long holiday weekend.

His stitched lip, however, could make for some interesting small talk on Tuesday, when Obama is to meet with the congressional leadership. The session originally was announced for Nov. 18, but was delayed after Republicans, who will control the House and increase their numbers in the Senate come January, said they couldn't accommodate the president.

Medical help is always nearby for U.S. presidents. A doctor or nurse is stationed at the White House around the clock and accompanies the president in his motorcade and aboard Air Force One.

Recent presidents have had a number of medical scares.

George W. Bush choked on a pretzel and briefly lost consciousness, falling and hurting his head. Bill Clinton had surgery and used crutches for months for a torn tendon in his knee when he stumbled on steps at the Florida home of golf pro Greg Norman.

The elder Bush, George H.W. Bush, was hospitalized for an erratic heartbeat while jogging at Camp David, a problem later diagnosed as a thyroid ailment. The senior Bush also collapsed at a state dinner in Tokyo, which the White House blamed on an intestinal flu.

Jimmy Carter fainted briefly while jogging near Camp David. Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest in a 1981 assassination attempt.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, 69, has had five heart attacks since age 37. He had surgery this year to install a pump to help his heart work. Cheney said he has congestive heart failure.




SIXTY-THIRD JOKE

President Obama is very frustrated.  It is a long airplane flight to Seoul, South Korea to the G-20 conference.  Altho' he stopped first in India and then in Indonesia to break his journey.  Lots of time to ruminate...

Why don't Republicans just understand that they not getting with it?  They are so foolish.  And all those people collecting Social Security and using Medicare, don't they understand that these programs' days are numbered?  And how about those people who don't they realize that homeownership is a right, not a privilege?  Then there is education - it is unfair that some people do better in school than others.

Of course, we must be thankful.  And I wish Michelle would walk several steps behind me al the time.





SIXTY-SECOND JOKE

People have wondered what is going on at the White House (see story below).  It is obvious to us that one or more of the following is responsible:


What do you think?  Well, no surprise here.

--------------------


CAPITAL CULTURE: Why all the White House drilling?
YAHOO
5 October 2010

WASHINGTON – Forget about the midterm elections and speculation about West Wing personnel shake-ups. The big question being asked around the White House is, what's that noisy construction really all about?

The drilling, clanging and banging are tearing up parts of the front lawn of the White House, obstructing the view for tourists on Pennsylvania Avenue and causing headaches — literally — for the staff.

"Every, like, three minutes for the past four hours, that machine has clanged to get the dirt off of the drill bit," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said, referring a giant rig outside his office. "It is the single most unnerving thing."

The work is so intensive that it has raised questions, particularly among skeptical White House reporters, about the true purpose of the project. The government assures it is a run-of-the-mill upgrade of utilities, albeit one made complex by the fact that the White House must stay in operation the whole time.

Big construction projects — most of them unannounced, unexplained and done at undisclosed cost — are not uncommon at the White House.

Often they are hidden behind tall fences or even in buildings shielding them from view. A major project undertaken during the Reagan administration was situated near the East Wing and lasted for many months, concealed from public sight. It was widely believed to be connected with the underground bunker known as the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, or the PEOC.

Protected by vault doors, the center is said to be able to withstand the devastating effects of a nuclear blast. Former President George W. Bush met with national security advisers there on the night of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Vice President Dick Cheney spent much of that day in the emergency operations center and, according to then-counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, complained that the bunker's communications systems were terrible.

Clarke said he couldn't resist pointing out that he had recommended building a new bunker but that Bush had rejected the project. "It'll happen," Cheney said, according to Clarke in his recounting of what happened at the White House on the day of the attacks.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the Bush administration closed hundreds of offices in the massive Eisenhower Executive Office Building that were exposed to a public street — and possibly vulnerable to attack — while all the windows were replaced with bomb-resistant materials and walls were reinforced.

One project that was proposed years ago — and then dropped — called for digging under the North Lawn of the White House to excavate a cavernous space where underground offices would be built for the relocation of the press corps from their prized West Wing digs. Years later, a multimillion dollar project was undertaken to strip the press area down to bare brick walls and completely rebuild and modernize the facilities.

At roughly the same time, the basement Situation Room complex was overhauled to install the video screens, fiber optics and other high-tech communications gear that until then existed mostly in movie depictions. Not surprisingly, the project was kept secret until just before the revamped site was reopened in January 2007.

In a highly publicized project in 1979, then-President Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of the West Wing to harvest the rays of the sun to heat water. In 1986 the Reagan administration quietly dismantled the installation while resurfacing the roof.

In the current project, the General Services Administration,which oversees White House construction, says workers are updating a host of utilities in the East and West Wings of the building, including heating, cooling and electrical systems, as well as the fire alarm equipment.

The last major upgrade to the utility systems was more than 40 years ago.

And all the mess will be around for a while. The whole project is scheduled to run at least four years.

Meanwhile, in order to modernize the utilities at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, workers have turned the North Lawn into a construction zone, erecting chain-linked fences, driving dump trucks up and down the White House driveway, and setting up rigs and cranes.

The walkway leading into the West Wing has been rerouted. A 15-foot platform was built on what's referred to as "Pebble Beach" — the flagstone area alongside the driveway where television correspondents report live from the White House — so photographers can shoot over the top of the construction.

With all of that commotion happening just steps away from the watchful eye of the White House press corps, it's no surprise that there are plenty of conspiracy theories, from jokes that workers are drilling for oil to speculation that a new press room is being built to keep reporters out of the West Wing.

Even Gibbs has his own theories.

"A parking deck, I think," he joked. "Or they're moving the Washington Monument."

But, for the record, GSA communications director Sahar Wali says there are no secret projects.






SIXTY-FIRST JOKE

PILGRIMAGE TO GREENWICH

Did you know that there is an election on November 2nd?

That is an important thing to put on your calendar.  However, with the 24/7 news cycle chattering away, we find it hard to clarify the issues.  This is what we've figured out so far:
Will your vote make a difference?  Only if you remember to go to, we believe, the Middle School Gym on Election Day and do so (or by absentee before Nov. 2, 2010)!

-----------------------------------------------------



Help or hindrance? Obama to visit Stamford and Greenwich
Neil Vigdor, Greenwich TIME Staff Writer
Published: 10:30 p.m., Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Courtesy of the town famous for partisan gridlock -- Washington -- Greenwich and Stamford will get a dose of the real thing Thursday when President Barack Obama stumps locally for Democrats.

In his second visit to the area as sitting president, Obama is scheduled to headline a $1,000-per-ticket fundraiser for Richard Blumenthal's U.S. Senate campaign at the Stamford Marriott Hotel timed to start around the late afternoon commute.

Despite a 45 percent public approval rating in a blue state where he won 61 percent of the vote in 2008, Obama is expected to turn out about 350 supporters, some of whom shelled out $12,400 to be photographed with the president, those familiar with the event said.

The Secret Service will then whisk Obama to Greenwich for an intimate dinner with 30 of his most loyal donors supporting the Democratic National Committee in Conyers Farm, where the price per plate is said by party insiders to be in the neighborhood of $30,000.

The state's top Democrat attempted to shift blame for Obama's downward public approval rating to former President George W. Bush and what she said were the failed economic policies of Republicans.

"Although the president is making progress, people are frustrated it's just not quick enough," said Nancy DiNardo, the state Democratic chairwoman. "Clearly, he's a dynamic and charismatic president and people still get excited about him."

State GOP Chairman Christopher Healy said Obama's flagging support is warranted.

"It's like the president visiting an economic disaster area. I hope he brings FEMA with him," Healy said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Healy said that bailouts, the stimulus package and health care legislation brokered by Obama's administration have been disastrous for Connecticut's economy.  Greenwich police referred questions on possible street closures to the Secret Service, where a message seeking comment was left Wednesday with the agent in charge security for the president's visit.  Stamford police were also mum on potential closures and detours in the area of Marriott, on Tresser Boulevard near Interstate 95. Blumenthal, whose 41-point lead over Republican wrestling executive Linda McMahon in the state's leading public opinion poll has dwindled, confirmed that he will be at both events.

The second event, held at the $16.3 million, 19-acre estate of real estate developer Richard Richman and his college professor and philanthropist wife Ellen Schapps Richman -- is in the same gated enclave where McMahon resides.

"I think it's interesting that my opponent Richard Blumenthal has consistently painted himself as an outsider, and yet he's clearly embracing the president to come in for a fundraiser for not only himself but the Democratic Party," McMahon said in a phone interview Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for Blumenthal said the longtime attorney general was not in the least bit concerned about the message the setting of the second fundraiser might send during the current economic recession and was proud to have Obama stump for him.

"Linda McMahon is spending more than $115,000 every day in her campaign of misleading, negative attacks -- most Connecticut families don't earn that in an entire year. That's decadent," said Maura Downes of the Blumenthal campaign. "Dick is honored to have the president in Connecticut, and believes he will help energize our supporters."

Among those who are expected to be absent from the festivities Thursday is U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., who rode Obama's coattails two years ago to an upset victory over Christopher Shays.  A Himes aide rejected the notion that Obama was political kryptonite, saying that the freshman congressman will be stuck in Washington voting with his colleagues on Capitol Hill.  Republicans were highly cynical about the absence of Himes, who is being challenged by state Sen. Dan Debicella, R-Shelton.

"I don't buy it," Healy said. "A congressman somehow finds a way to meet the president when he's appearing in his district. He can't play hide and seek forever, Jim Himes."

Members of the tea party movement are looking to capitalize on Obama's visit with a protest planned to take place across the street from the Marriott.

"Our view is he's governing against the will of the American people," said Bob MacGuffie, co-founder of the Fairfield-based political action committee Right Principles, a group affiliated with the tea party movement.

Not all Republicans turning their back on the president, however.  Laurence Allen, 53, an investment banker and registered Republican from Greenwich, ponied up $12,400 to be photographed with the POTUS during the Stamford fundraiser.

"It's important for financial firms to be able to have an open line of communication with the president," said Allen, who characterized himself as a Blumenthal supporter.

Allen said he is going to the fundraiser with several friends who are Democrats.

"So they kind of roped me in," Allen said.

Acknowledging that the meet-and-greet is one of the more expensive political fundraisers that he has attended, Allen said it isn't quite in the same stratosphere as dinner with Obama.  Healy, the state GOP chairman, said that the asking price of $30,000 isn't worth it.

"If a donor is crazy enough to give $30,000 to the people who are ruining our economy, then they must have so much money that it doesn't matter to them," Healy said.




SIXTIETH JOKE

WARNING:  THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY DIRECTED AT THE PRESENT OCCUPANT OF THE WHITE HOUSE
How is a hurricane like the Presidency?  They both blow hard.


------------

Why I miss Bubba

NYPOST
By JONAH GOLDBERG
Last Updated: 4:11 AM, September 3, 2010
Posted: 12:09 AM, September 3, 2010

There's been a lot of talk about Bush nostalgia lately.  At Martha's Vineyard, the Obama-bilia wasn't moving like it was during the Obamas' previous visit there. The big seller was a T-shirt depicting a smiling George W. Bush with the tagline "Miss Me Yet?"

In response to President Obama's vacillating, lawyerly support for the Ground Zero mosque, Peter Beinart recently vented in the Daily Beast: "Words I never thought I'd write: I pine for George W. Bush."

Well, I'd like to return the favor, a little. I'm suffering from a mild case of Bill Clinton nostalgia: I miss having a Democrat who could sell.  Clinton, a political prodigy of the first order, loved the human side of politics. He listened to the hoi polloi more than he listened to the Harvard faculty. It made him a less consequential but more democratic president.

Meanwhile, Obama's "People of Earth, Stop Your Bickering" aloofness often makes him seem exasperated with the country he leads. He doesn't seem to care what the people think. If voters disagree with him, that's their mistake.  He's lost -- if he ever had it -- his appetite for persuasion. Oh, he can explain things just fine. But there's a difference between explaining your position and selling it. Clinton, the consummate salesman, understood the difference.

When you look back, the only thing Obama really sold on the campaign trail was the semi-magical thrill of being one of "the ones we've been waiting for." He didn't sell policy proposals; he sold abstractions.

He even picked fights with abstractions -- insisting, for example, that his biggest opponent in the Democratic primary was "cynicism."

Lots of salesmen start by trying to sell you on a fantasy. That's how they get their hooks in you. Get the customer to say, "yes," in principle before he even knows what he's buying. "Would you like to look young, feel great and eat all you want?" That's the easy part. The hard part is translating that abstract yes into an actual sale.

Obama has never been good at that. There was a lot of talk in the late stages of the Democratic primary about how Obama couldn't "close." People liked the Hope and Change stuff, but he fell short on convincing people he could transmogrify the rhetorical gold into reality. Sure, he won in the end. It was a change election, and he was the ultimate change candidate, with no real record to serve as ballast for all of his hot air.

But then came the governing, when the steak needed to outrank the sizzle. Obama has had remarkable success cramming his agenda through Congress (often thanks to the sorts of backroom deals he swore to oppose), but he hasn't made a sale outside the Beltway.  For instance, despite a year of infomercial-level hawking, Americans still don't want his health-care reform. (The American people loved the fantasy car he described, but they've balked at both the clunker and the financing.)

He's gone straight from messiah to Michael Dukakis.

In fairness, he's tried to sell. He claimed the Gulf oil spill proves we need cap-and-trade. He told us from the Oval Office this week that we owe it to the troops to unite around his economic agenda. But these weren't arguments so much as condescending harangues. No one who doesn't already agree buys such nonsense. Rather, they ask, "How stupid does this guy think we are?"

Just as often, Obama confuses explanation for persuasion, as if simply telling us that because he thinks X, then X must be the way to go. More infuriating, nearly all of his explanations assume that disagreement with him must stem from ignorance or villainy.  That pose worked a little when he could claim that opposition was synonymous with Republican partisanship. But now that disagreement has moved to the mainstream, he seems to have an adversarial relationship with the people he's supposed to represent.

I'm not shopping for a Clinton version of the "Miss Me Yet?" T-shirt, but I do miss having a Democratic president who didn't seem to think the job was beneath him.



FIFTY-NINTH JOKE

Rod Blagojevich was convicted of one count of "giving false statements to the F.B.I." by a jury of his fellow residents of Chicago.  Considering what numerous others have learned about making false statements to the F.B.I., what can be learned from this episode?  Never lie to the F.B.I.

On another note, it is the intention of the Federal Prosecutor to retry Blagojevich on all the other counts not decided by the first jury.  What do we learn from this?




FIFTY-EIGHTH JOKE

Did you ever get the feeling that the White House gets its policy directions from...Dick Morris?  Yup.  Whatever Morris recommends, they do the opposite.

----------------

Why we need to let states go broke
NYPOST
By DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN
Last Updated: 4:50 AM, August 10, 2010
Posted: 12:19 AM, August 10, 2010

Federal Band-Aids won't cover the fiscal problems of such states as New York, California, Michigan and Connecticut forever. State bankruptcy and fundamental restructuring of state and local finance -- and labor relations -- is at hand.

Take Connecticut. In the current fiscal year, $2 billion in federal subsidies have helped tide it over the recession -- a hefty share of its $15 billion budget. But these infusions are one-shot grants, renewed only if Congress acts affirmatively to do so. Other states depend on similar manifestations of federal largess.

In Washington, the House is set to pass a $26 billion aid package this week -- fresh federal aid amounting to about 2 percent of state and local spending. But if the Republicans win control of Congress this fall, it is hard to see any legislative willingness to renew these subsidies.

Instead, GOP lawmakers will point to the examples of New Jersey, Virginia and Indiana -- where conservative governors have slashed spending to avoid tax hikes. In Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell has reduced spending to pre-2006 levels.

If Congress fails to renew its subsidies, the more profligate states will face cash shortfalls in the current fiscal year. They'll threaten school closures, prison releases and all manner of mayhem if their subsidies aren't renewed. But the Republicans in Washington are likely to refuse -- asking why the responsible states should bail out the spendthrifts in Albany, Sacramento, Lansing and Hartford.

At that point, the bond markets will start eyeing state (and local) balance sheets more critically -- demanding higher rates or even refusing to lend. California won't be the only one trying to get by on IOUs.

But beyond this tale of woe lies a golden opportunity to reform state governments and redress the imbalance of power between elected officials and public-employee unions.

Absent endless federal subsidies, states will simply no longer be able to afford to give the unions everything that they want. And governors -- many of them newly elected Republicans -- will realize that they can't even afford to honor agreements their big-spending predecessors OK'd.

The GOP Congress should then amend the federal bankruptcy law to provide for a way -- now absent -- for states to declare bankruptcy. (Municipalities can do so under current law, but states have no such relief.)

Here's the key: The reforms must require that states abrogate their public-employee union agreements in the bankruptcy process, just as private corporations like Delta and Chrysler have done. The wage hikes, the work rules, the pension plans all go out the window.

Few states will have the starch to cut benefits for those now receiving them. But most will cut pensions for current workers and all will slice them for future employees. Even the threat will be a powerful bargaining tool.

And beyond the fiscal adjustments, the power of the municipal- and public-employee unions will be broken.

Voters throughout America will loudly applaud if Congress tells the profligate states, "Work it out on your own. Don't look to us for a bailout."

President Obama could veto the bankruptcy reforms -- but a Republican Congress need do nothing to assist states in their plight until he relents. All of the political and financial leverage will be on Congress' side.

The result could be the greatest revolution in state and local governance since public-employee unions came on the scene. The public and the voters would get their local governments back, and the grip of public unions will be weakened. It would be the state and local equivalent of President Ronald Reagan's tough stand against the air-traffic controllers' strike.

Politically, the unions that fund and fuel the Democratic Party would be emasculated, dramatically shifting the national balance of power.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's prediction about socialism will have come true for America's states: "Sooner or later, they run out of other peoples' money."





FIFTY-SEVENTH JOKE

Why did the First Lady go on vacation to Spain? 

1.  To try to show loyalty to the present Spanish government;
2.  To help their economy with a direct transfer of payments from the U.S. to Spain;
3.  To check out the
plant in southern Spain that has been set up to harness the power of the sun and cut reliance on fossil fuels.
4.  All of the above or none of the above.

------------------------------

The view from Spain's solar power tower

By Alysen Miller, CNN
March 10, 2010 -- Updated 0712 GMT (1512 HKT)

(CNN) -- Cresting the brow of autovia A-49 in Andalusia, 10 miles outside of Seville, the world's first commercial solar "power tower" appears on the skyline like a giant obelisk.

Even on an overcast morning the sun's rays are so intense they illuminate the water vapor and dust hanging in the air to create a giant lattice of white lines that appear to emanate from the eye of the tower.

The tower itself is 115 meters high -- the height of a 14-storey building -- and, bathed in intense white light, the overall effect resembles nothing so much as a religious object.

Valerio Fernandez is director of operations for the PS10 platform and its neighbor, PS20. That means he is responsible for the 624 giant mirrors -- or heliostats -- that reflect the sun's rays into a receiver located at the top of the tower.

Each heliostat measures 120 square meters, which gives the entire heliostat field an area of 75,000 square meters. On a sunny day this can produce up to 11 megawatts of energy, enough to power a town of 6,000 homes, such as the neighboring community of Sanlucar la Mayor.

But Fernandez isn't satisfied. "Our goal is to operate more than 300 megawatts for the year 2013," he told CNN. "So in a few years we will be constructing and putting into service new and larger plants in order to provide huge amounts of solar renewable energy to this area of Spain."

As Valerio explains the concept ("We just reflect light into the receiver, which is basically a boiler where we generate steam, and then we drive this steam through a turbine in order to move a generator and generate electricity,") we are aware of the faint whirring of 600-odd motors that allow the heliostats to track the sun on two axes and concentrate this radiation on the tower.

The effect is incongruously life-like; hundreds of enormous mirrors all turning themselves towards the sun like a field of giant metal sunflowers.

We decide to get a better view. Putting aside fears that we will be fried like ants under a magnifying glass, we ascend the tower. From here the vista is even more spectacular: a glittering blanket of more than 600 mirrors winks up at us from the sun-scorched earth.

Here is also where the receiver is located. Composed of four, vertical 5.5 meter by 12 meter panels, arranged in a semi-cylindrical configuration inside a cavity with an opening of 11 meters by 11meters, the receiver is designed to deliver 55 thermal megawatts of saturated steam at temperatures of 257 Celsius. More than 92 percent of the sunlight reflected at the tower is converted into steam.

To the west lies an even larger tower surrounded by more mirrors. Although currently closed for maintenance, when PS20 is fully online again in April it will be the world's most powerful solar power tower.

With a power capacity of 20 megawatts, double that of PS10, PS20 should produce enough clean energy to supply 10,000 homes.

Valerio is understandably optimistic. "We want to get as much of our energy from solar power as we can because it's renewable, it's clean and its contribution to combating climate change is very important," he said.

"That's why we are working to develop this technology as much as possible so it can have a large role in the future."




FIFTY-SIXTH JOKE

Now we can all rest easy.  The gourmand in chief has declared that fish from the oil-compromised Gulf of Mexico are now and will continue to be safe to eat.

Why does this claim not ring true to you?  A bit too much oil for the viniger?


-----------------

Obama pronounces Gulf seafood safe to eat
YAHOO
14 June 2010

THEODORE, Ala. – President Barack Obama says from the oil-stricken Gulf of Mexico that seafood from the region is safe to eat and announced a new coordinated effort to make sure it stays that way.

In remarks from Theodore, Ala., on Monday, Obama said that the government will step up its inspections and monitoring to help ensure that the Gulf Coast food industry is getting the kind of protection and certification it needs to sell its products around the country.

Obama said, "We don't want tragedies on top of the tragedy we're already seeing."

The president had high praise for the Gulf seafood he ate for lunch in Mississippi. He is in the region on a two-day trip.



FIFTY-FIFTH JOKE

President Obama has awesome powers. 

He made it rain on May 18, day of the 2010 official visit of the UCONN women's basketball team rematch. 

As someone noted, "Coach Geno" had not done incorrect math, predicting that his team would go "40 and 0" in 2009-2010, as the President suggested.  Rather, victory #40 was scheduled to be on the return trip to the White House basketball court in a rematch of "P-I-G"  with the First Leftie.*

------------

* = President Obama is a famous southpaw.




FIFTY-FOURTH JOKE*

Since Spring is here and cow chips are almost equivalent to the value of Icelandic and Greek currencies, we thought we'd pass along from Wikipedia the following jokes:
---------------


*They are not amused.



FIFTY-THIRD JOKE

Did you know that the President and Congress have to sign up for health care "exchanges?"   What is a health care exchange? 

Check out the LWV of Weston's website!  http://www.lwvweston.org/index.html#fallconference09






FIFTY-SECOND JOKE

AS EASY AS APPLE PIE...CONGRESS DO SOMETHING QUICK!

An oxymoron, perhaps?  Hurry up and pass the Democrat bill on health care reform before it stops snowing!

Mother Nature, who has enough to worry about with global warming, had to intercede in behalf of the first woman Speaker of the House in February.  She said "Phil gave us a break with the longer winter - so pass the thing and lets party!"

Republicans are looking forward to partying, too.  They know a snow job when they see one!

-----------------


GOOGLE "PIE" AND THIS IS WHAT YOU GET ON PAGE ONE! 
"When we have a bill," she said, "you can bake the pie, you can sell the pie. But you have to have a pie to sell."  NOTE:  Recipe for blueberry pie only.


White House OK on health care with or without GOP
YAHOO
Feb. 28, 2010

WASHINGTON – The White House's top health care official is optimistic that Democrats will have the votes to pass a major health care overhaul.  Presidential adviser Nancy-Ann DeParle says it makes sense to have a "simple up-or-down vote" on legislation, now that Democrats lack the 60 votes necessary to overcome Republican stalling tactics.

The Senate's Democratic leaders are try to devise a strategy for passing the legislation with a simple 51-vote majority. There are 57 Democrats in the Senate and two Democratic leaning independents.  DeParle notes that the House and Senate already have passed versions of health care overhaul.

She tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that she believes "we will have the votes to pass this in Congress."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged her colleagues to back a major overhaul of U.S. health care even if it threatens their political careers, a call to arms that underscores the issue's massive role in this election year.

Lawmakers sometimes must enact policies that, even if unpopular at the moment, will help the public, Pelosi said in an interview being broadcast Sunday the ABC News program "This Week."

"We're not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress," she said. "We're here to do the job for the American people."

It took courage for Congress to pass Social Security and Medicare, which eventually became highly popular, she said, "and many of the same forces that were at work decades ago are at work again against this bill."

It's unclear whether Pelosi's remarks will embolden or chill dozens of moderate House Democrats who face withering criticisms of the health care proposal in visits with constituents and in national polls. Republican lawmaker unanimously oppose the health care proposals, and many GOP strategists believe voters will turn against Democrats in the November elections.

Pelosi, from San Francisco, is more liberal than scores of her Democratic colleagues. But she generally walks a careful line between urging them to back left-of-center policies and giving them a green light to buck party leaders to improve their re-election hopes.

Her comments to ABC, in the interview released Sunday, seemed to acknowledge the widely held view that Democrats will lose House seats this fall — maybe a lot. They now control the chamber 255 to 178, with two vacancies. Pelosi stopped well short of suggesting Democrats could lose their majority, but she called on members of her party to make a bold move on health care with no prospects of GOP help.

"Time is up," she said. "We really have to go forth."

Her comments somewhat echoed those of President Barack Obama, who said at the end of last week's bipartisan health care summit that Congress should act on the issue and let voters render their verdicts. "That's what elections are for," he said.

The White House says Obama, perhaps on Wednesday, will announce a "way forward" on health care. He, Pelosi, and Senate Democratic leaders have left little doubt that they hope to pass a Democratic-crafted bill under "budget reconciliation" rules that would bar Republican filibusters in the Senate. It's unclear whether Pelosi can muster the needed votes in the House.

White House officials say they will redouble efforts to remind voters that the Senate passed an Obama-backed health care bill in December, with a super majority of 60 votes. The new plan calls for the House to pass that bill and send it to Obama's desk, and then use Senate budget reconciliation rules to make several changes demanded by House Democrats.

Following a Republican victory in Massachusetts last month, Democrats now control 59 of the Senate's 100 seats, one vote short of the number needed to block GOP filibusters.

Pelosi told CNN that "in a matter of days" Democrats will have specific legislative language on health care to show to the public and to wavering lawmakers. She predicted voters will warm up to the bill once they understand its details.

"When we have a bill," she said, "you can bake the pie, you can sell the pie. But you have to have a pie to sell."

Obama and Democratic lawmakers say they may add several more Republican ideas to their legislative package, even if it's unlikely to attract a single GOP vote. One idea, by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., would focus on battling waste and fraud in the medical system.

The main elements of the Democratic plan are known, and opposed by Republicans in Congress. It would insure about 30 million more Americans over 10 years with subsidies for the poor and a new requirement for nearly everyone to carry health insurance.

It would also bar some insurance company practices, such as denying coverage to people with medical problems. And it would establish government-run exchanges to help individuals and small businesses obtain insurance policies, although it would exclude the "public option" that many liberals wanted.



FIFTY-FIRST JOKE

CAR-SALESMAN-IN-CHIEF

Have you noticed how President Obama is using his "bully pulpet" lately? 

All we are hearing about is recalls of Toyota and Honda vehicles, which causes Americans to think about buying a GM ("Government Motors") car or truck instead.  So Toyota just announced the temporary shut down of its plants in the US.

What we need is a guy who can do his own tuneups.  Do you think Barack Obama knows which end of a wrench to use?  He mocks plumbers and Ford 150 owners, so we would guess he's always outsourced his car repairs!

------------

Govt demands Toyota recall documents
YAHOO
By KEN THOMAS and STEPHEN MANNING, Associated Press Writers
Feb. 16. 2010


WASHINGTON – The Transportation Department demanded documents related to Toyota's massive recalls in the United States on Tuesday to find out if the automaker acted swiftly enough. Toyota, meanwhile, said it will idle production temporarily at Texas and Kentucky plants over concerns the recalls could lead to big stockpiles of unsold vehicles.

The legal documents demand that Toyota tell the government when and how the company learned of the safety defects in millions of vehicles over the entrapment of gas pedals by floor mats and sticky accelerators. The documents were delivered to Toyota on Tuesday and the company must respond within 30-to-60 days or face fines.

The intensifying government investigation of Toyota and production halts at its assembly plants represented another sign of the ripple effect the recall of 8.5 million vehicles has had on the world's No. 1 automaker. Toyota faces separate probes by the Obama administration and Congress as it struggles to maintain its loyal customer base and its reputation for safety and quality.

Toyota said it was halting production temporarily in San Antonio, Texas, and Georgetown, Ky., to address concerns that too many unsold vehicles may be building up at dealerships because of the large recalls.

Company spokesman Mike Goss said the Texas plant, which builds the Tundra pickup truck, would take production breaks for the weeks of March 15 and April 12. The Kentucky plant, which makes the Camry, Avalon and Venza vehicles, plans to take a non-production day on Feb. 26 and may not build vehicles on three more days in March and April.

In late January, Toyota halted production of recalled brands throughout the United States for about a week.

The information requests from the government, similar to a subpoena, follows criticism from consumer groups that the Transportation Department was too soft on automakers and failed to fine the companies or seek detailed information from them through subpoena powers.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has defended his department's handling of the Toyota investigation, calling the Japanese automaker "a little safety deaf" about the safety problems. LaHood said the government urged Toyota to issue recalls and sent federal safety officials to Japan to warn company officials of the seriousness of the problems.

Under federal law, automakers must notify the DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration within five days of determining that a safety defect exists and promptly conduct a recall.

Government investigators are looking into whether Toyota discovered the problems during preproduction or post-production of the affected vehicles, whether their recalls covered all affected vehicles and whether the company learned of the problems through consumer complaints or internal tests.

Federal officials are focusing on the two major issues behind the recalls — gas pedals that can become lodged on floor mats and pedal systems that are "sticky," making it harder for drivers to press on the pedal or ease up on the gas.

The information requests seek detailed timelines on when Toyota first became aware of the problems, how they handled complaints, how much they have paid out in warranty claims over pedal problems, internal communications about pedals and company officials involved in making decisions about the issue.

NHTSA also wants to know how seriously Toyota considered the possibility that electronics of the gas pedal system may play a role. The company has said tests show that the electronics were not to blame. But federal safety officials want to know how Toyota dealt with complaints that might not be related to floor mats or sticking pedals.

Kathleen DeMeter, the director of NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation Enforcement, wrote that the agency was "seeking to determine whether Toyota viewed the underlying defects too narrowly...without fully considering the broader issue of unintended acceleration and any associated safety-related defects that warrant recalls."

Congress is also investigating. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is holding a hearing on the Toyota recalls on Feb. 24 and the House Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled a Feb. 25 hearing. Toyota Motor North America chief executive Yoshi Inaba, LaHood and NHTSA Administrator David Strickland are expected to testify at both meetings.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has scheduled a March 2 hearing but has not yet announced its witness list.

Toyota has stepped up its lobbying ahead of the hearings by highlighting its workers and U.S. production.

It flew production workers into Washington a day before a blizzard last week to highlight the company's commitment to quality and safety. The company also received help from the governors of four states with Toyota plants — including Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear — who called on Congress to be fair to the automaker.

Toyota has been fixing vehicles under recall. Toyota Vice President Bob Carter told reporters at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando, Fla., on Monday that the company had repaired about 500,000 of the 2.3 million vehicles recalled over a potentially sticky gas pedal.

Toyota president Akio Toyoda is expected to answer questions in Japan Wednesday about the company's recalls.





FIFTIETH JOKE

PORTRAIT GALLERY

What is the difference between a portrait and a political cartoon?

One tries to flatter the subject, and the other goes in the opposite direction.  So the drawings of President Obama above are portraits - the titles are the commentary.



-----------------------


What the Muhammad cartoons portray
By Martin Asser, BBC News
Page last updated at 04:34 GMT, Saturday, 2 January 2010


France Soir
Several other newspapers have republished the controversial images

Twelve caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published in 2005 had a huge impact around the world, with riots in many Muslim countries the following year causing deaths and destruction - so what do the drawings actually say?

They originally appeared in the best-selling Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on 30 September 2005 to accompany an editorial criticising self-censorship in the Danish media.

After that some media outlets republished the pictures in solidarity or outrage, while others - including the BBC - have refrained from publishing them to avoid causing offence to their audiences.

The issue arose after Danish writer Kare Bluitgen complained he was unable to find an illustrator for his children's book about the Prophet because he said no one dared break an Islamic tenet banning the portrayal of his image.

We are on our way to a slippery slope where no-one can tell how the self-censorship will end
Jyllands-Posten editorial

Jyllands-Posten asked cartoonists to "draw the Prophet as they saw him", as an assertion of free speech and to reject pressure by Muslims groups to respect their sensitivities.

The paper chose as its central image a visual joke about the Prophet among other turban-wearing figures in a police line-up and the witness saying: "I don't know which one he is".

It is presumably an ironic appeal for calm over the issue, the suggestion being that, if a Danish illustrator were to portray the Prophet, it is not known what he looks like and is therefore a harmless gesture.

The humour comes from the fact that the line-up also includes people like Jesus Christ, the far-right Danish politician Pia Kjaersgaard and Mr Bluitgen himself.

'PR stunt'

Eleven other cartoons are printed around the edge of the page showing the Prophet in a variety of supposedly humorous or satirical situations.

One seems to criticise Mr Bluitgen for exploiting the issue for publicity to sell his book.

He is portrayed holding a child's drawing of the Prophet, while an orange inscribed with "PR stunt" drops into a turban he is wearing. (The expression "orange in the turban" connotes a "piece of luck" in Danish.)

Other images appear not especially critical of Islam in their content.

One shows the Prophet wandering through the desert with the sun setting behind him. In another his face merges with an Islamic star and crescent.

Several cartoonists, however, do seem to take the Jyllands-Posten commission as an invitation to be deliberately provocative towards Muslims.

Critical views

The most controversial image shows the Prophet Muhammad carrying a lit bomb in the shape of a turban on his head decorated with the Islamic creed.

The face is angry, dangerous-looking - a stereotypical villain with heavy, dark eyebrows and whiskers.

Demonstration in Indonesia
Much anger has been directed at Jyllands-Posten newspaper

Another shows Muhammad brandishing a sword ready for a fight. His eyes are blacked out while two women stand behind him with their Islamic dress leaving only their eyes uncovered.

Two of the critical cartoons do not show the Prophet at all. One uses crescent moons and stars of David to form repeated abstract shapes, possibly showing women in Islamic dress.

A poem accompanies the shapes, that one translator has rendered as: "Prophet, you crazy bloke! Keeping women under yoke."

In the other, a schoolboy points to a blackboard on which it is written in Farsi: "The editorial team of Jyllands-Posten are a bunch of reactionary provocateurs".

The boy is labelled "Mohammed, Valby school, 7A", suggesting he is a second-generation Iranian immigrant to Denmark. "The future" is written on his shirt.

Humorous views

Other cartoonists have clearly attempted a more humorous approach - as with the central image - although the images will be no less offensive to Muslims.

For example, one shows Muhammad standing on a cloud holding back a line of smouldering suicide bombers trying to get into heaven.

"Stop, stop, we have run out of virgins," he says.

This is a reference to the supposed reward of 72 virgins in heaven for Muslim martyrs, although Islamic scholars often point out that there is no specific belief of this kind.

Another drawing shows Muhammad looking at a sheet of paper, but holding back two sword-wielding assassins.

"Relax guys, it's just a drawing made by some infidel South Jutlander (ie from the middle of nowhere)," the figure says.

One cartoonist portrays Muhammad with a kind of halo around his head, but it could be a crescent moon, or a pair of devil's horns.

Anger and confusion

The last cartoon on the page goes back to the theme of artistic freedom: a cartoonist draws an Arab face with headdress, inscribed "Mohammed", but he crouches over the drawing and shields it with his hand.

The Jyllands-Posten cartoons do not include some images that may have had a role in bringing the issue to international attention.

Three images in particular have done the rounds, in Gaza for example, which are reported to be considerably more obscene and were mistakenly assumed to have been part of the Jyllands-Posten set.

One of the pictures, a photocopied photograph of a man with a pig's ears and snout, has been identified as an old Associated Press picture from a French "pig-squealing" contest.

It was reportedly circulated by Danish Muslims to illustrate the atmosphere of Islamophobia which they say they live under.

There is no doubt that the some of the original Jyllands-Posten cartoons are sufficiently hostile in nature to be taken as provocative by the Muslim community, whatever their intention.

But some critics have said all the drawings and the manner of their publication betray European arrogance and Islamophia.

Muslim writer Ziauddin Sardar likens them to anti-Semitic images published in Europe in the 1920s and 30s, with Muslims being demonised as violent, backward and fanatical.

"Freedom of expression is not about doing whatever we want to do because we can do it," he wrote in the Independent on Sunday.

"It is about creating an open marketplace for ideas and debate where all, including the marginalised, can take part as equals."



FORTY-NINTH JOKE

Pork

"You should never see how pork or sausage is made" is an old political piece of advice re: watching Congress (so no watching permitted
*).

Pork products are front and center in Washington as 2009 comes to an end.  Some say the eventual health care compromise will be similar to a balloon mortgage - unaffordable in the out years!  President Obama was going over his list of accomplishments that he made up while flying back from Climate event;  and here it is, after checking it twice:

1)  Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men Department - DONE (I got the Nobel Prize, Copenhagen agreement)
2)  Health Care to (Almost)  All - DONE (when the Senate and the House get together, they don't need 60 votes to OK the joint compromise, I think...
**)
3)  Blessings to the Rules Committee - DONE

--------------------------

*
H.RES.847
Title: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that any conference committee or other meetings held to determine the content of national health care legislation be conducted in public under the watchful eye of the people of the United States.
Sponsor: Rep Buchanan, Vern [FL-13] (introduced 10/20/2009)      Cosponsors (151)
Latest Major Action: 10/20/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Rules.

**
We'll see about the " nuclear option"...
Conrad: House must stick close to Senate bill

Washington Times
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Originally published 10:49 a.m., December 20, 2009, updated 11:25 a.m., December 20, 2009

The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee says the House must stick close to the Senate's version of health care reform or risk losing the 60 votes needed to pass it in the Senate.

Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, said on "Fox News Sunday" that the 60 votes needed to stop a filibuster would not hold together unless the Senate bill emerged largely intact from a House-Senate conference.

Once the Senate approves the bill, conferees would have to work out a compromise that would be submitted to each house. The House bill includes a government-run public option; the Senate bill does not.

In addition, Senate Democratic leaders made concessions to some of their members to get them on board, most recently Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

The White House, meanwhile, is defending President Obama's stand in support of the health care legislation amid concern from liberals that Mr. Obama is giving up too much to get a deal done.

Senior presidential adviser David Axelrod said the legislation that Democrats in the Senate are poised to pass on Christmas Eve matches the goals that Mr. Obama has set. He said those include affordable choices for people without health insurance and more protections for people who already have coverage.

Mr. Axelrod said no major law in the nation's history has been passed without compromise.

He spoke Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."




FORTY-EIGHTH JOKE

Lists

It is almost Christmas.  Time for lists.  What do you think President Obama wants?

Here's a non-offficial draft of that Xmas list:  1)health care bill passed  2)redistribution of TARP to the unemployed, underemployed and unemployable  3)peace on earth, especially in Afghanistan - then we can come home and not spend any more money on the war there so that we can pay for health care here.



FORTY-SEVENTH JOKE

Spell Check

Perhaps the most upsetting action taken at the White House recently, at least to this website, is the blatant use of "spellcheck" or "spell check" or however that poor excuse for using a dictionary spells its famous oversimplification of writing style and words.

Does it bother you that the White House social office uses spell check? 

We thought that the social office had sufficient breeding and education as to be perfect but not obvious.  So sari.



---------------------
*
A Stylish State Dinner, With Typos

NYTIMES
By ANAHAD O'CONNOR
November 25, 2009, 12:24 am

The White House pulled out all the stops in preparation for President Obama’s first state dinner on Tuesday night, hiring a new florist, selecting a renowned guest chef and even inviting a number of high-profile musicians to perform.

But one person the White House apparently neglected to hire was a spell checker.

The special dinner menu — a lavish mélange of Indian and American favorites as well as several excellent wines — was rife with typos.

The second course of the evening was paired, for example, with a delicious 2006 Brooks Riesling, which, the menu noted, was bottled in “Wilamette Valley, Oregon.”

A diligent copy editor would have changed that to the proper spelling, “Willamette Valley.”

For their third course, the 320 guests were offered a dish that, according to the menu, included potato dumplings with tomato chutney and “chick peas,” which should in fact have been “chickpeas.” That course, the menu noted, was paired with an excellent red wine, a “2007 Granache” from Beckmen Vineyards. The correct spelling of the popular varietal, one of the most widely planted types of red grape in the world, is actually “Grenache” with only one “a,” not two.

The last bottle of the night was equally impressive, a sparkling chardonnay from Virginia. It was listed as a “Thibaut Janisson Brut,” missing a hyphen between the first two words. And last but not least, the dessert may have been free of error in taste, but not so in spelling. It included, according to the menu, passion fruit and vanilla “Gelees,” the French word for “gelled,” which, when written correctly, includes an acute accent on the second “e.”





FORTY-SIXTH JOKE

Fortune Cookie

At a formal banquet in his honor in China, President Obama received 3 fortune cookies.  Which one's message, shown below, do you think he liked least?

1)  Your country will grow and prosper if it spends more
2)  Your wisdom will lead the people out of their tired democratic convictions
3)  Neither a borrower nor a lender be, but especially not a borrower





FORTY-FIFTH JOKE

Census haiku*

What will April 1, 2010 bring?
Recorded huddled masses.
Making change count.

-----------------------
*
From Thomas Friedman's column (in part - full column here) in Sunday's E-NYTIMES:

...I’ve always believed that Mr. Obama was elected because a majority of Americans fear that we’re becoming a declining great power. Everything from our schools to our energy and transportation systems are falling apart and in need of reinvention and reinvigoration. And what people want most from Washington today is nation-building at home.

Many people, including conservatives, voted for Barack Obama because in their hearts they felt he could pull us all together for that project better than any other candidate. Many are what I’d call “Warren Buffett centrists.” They are not billionaires, but they are people who believe in Mr. Buffett’s saying that whatever he achieved in life was due primarily to the fact that he was born in this country — America — at this time, with all of its advantages and opportunities.

I believe that. And I believe that without a strong America — which, at its best, can deliver more goods and goodness to its own citizens and to the world than any other nation — our kids and many others around the world will not have those opportunities.

I am convinced that this kind of nation-building at home is exactly what Mr. Obama is trying to deliver, and should be his unifying call: We need universal health care because it would strengthen our social fabric and enable our businesses to better compete globally. We need to upgrade our schools because no child in 21st-century America should be left behind and because we cannot compete for the best new jobs without doing so. We need a greener economy, not just to mitigate climate change, but because a world growing from 6.7 billion people to 9.2 billion by 2050 is going to demand more and more clean energy and water, and the country that develops the most clean technologies is going to have the most energy security, national security, economic security, innovative companies and global respect...




FORTY-FOURTH JOKE


Over exposed

He can write, he can use a teleprompter, he's got Ivy League credentials and he can out shoot UCONN at "P.I.G."  He even won the Nobel Peace Prize after 10 days on the job as POTUS!


Did you catch the snipet on YouTube of President Obama at the Latino American dinner event? 

He's got my vote!  A great dancer with a natural feel for the latino rhythm!

So if he can't get Health Care Reform from a Congress when he has a super-majority in both houses, he can always go on "Dancing With The Stars."




FORTY-THIRD JOKE

Prize

It is entirely fitting that President Obama, after less than two weeks in office, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.  Like many others, he thought he deserved it for:

1.  Winning the election in the bigot-filled U.S.A.
2.  Having the coolest resume of any candidate ever for U.S. President and
3.  For beating the UConn women at an abbreviated game of "horse" which he calls "pig"

What's in a name?

------------------------------
*
The link is from the E-New Yorker to Act Five of "Othello"
Beware Premature Prizes

Semi-regular thoughts on foreign affairs, politics, and books, from George Packer
October 9, 2009

President Obama should thank the Nobel committee and ask them to hold on to the Peace Prize for a couple more years. The prize should be awarded for achievement, not aspiration, and so far Obama’s main achievement has been getting elected President, which is in a different category. He shouldn’t contribute to the unfair accusation that he is all talk by accepting an award based on speeches he gave in Berlin, Prague, and Cairo. Europeans’ relief in seeing the last of George W. Bush and their adoration of Obama are entirely understandable, but in the U.S. we've moved on from November 4, 2008, and these days Obama is—in a way that's both inevitable and healthy—a working President, with his share of troubles and mistakes, who is trying to get some difficult things done but hasn’t come close to accomplishing them yet. This seems like a prize for Europeans, not Americans, and I worry that at home it will damage him politically by reinforcing the notion that he is—and will be—a world icon rather than a successful President. I don’t mind him being the former, but I most want him to be the latter. Not even a Rookie of the Year is ready to be elected to the Hall of Fame. I’m afraid this prize will be bad for Obama. For political reasons and on the merits, he should paraphrase Shakespeare to the Nobel committee: “As you shall prove me, praise me."




FORTY-SECOND JOKE

When is a tax not a tax?
*

When it pays for social programs that are good for you, in President Obama's opinion.


-------------------
*
FACT CHECK: Coverage requirement enforced with tax
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press Writer Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar, Associated Press Writer
September 22, 2009

WASHINGTON – Memo to President Barack Obama: It's a tax.

Obama insisted this weekend on national television that requiring people to carry health insurance — and fining them if they don't — isn't the same thing as a tax increase. But the language of Democratic bills to revamp the nation's health care system doesn't quibble. Both the House bill and the Senate Finance Committee proposal clearly state that the fines would be a tax.

And the reason the fines are in the legislation is to enforce the coverage requirement.

"If you put something in the Internal Revenue Code, and you tell the IRS to collect it, I think that's a tax," said Clint Stretch, head of the tax policy group for Deloitte, a major accounting firm. "If you don't pay, the person who's going to come and get it is going to be from the IRS."

Democrats aren't the first to propose that individuals be required to carry health insurance and fined if they refuse. The conservative Heritage Foundation called for such a mandate in the 1990s' health care debate, although its proposal differed from the ones pending in Congress. Heritage has since dropped the idea and now favors using tax credits to encourage people to buy coverage — carrots and not sticks.

During the 2008 political campaign, Obama opposed making coverage mandatory because of the costs. His position has shifted now that it's becoming clear such a requirement will be part of any legislation that Congress sends him. Conservative activists are calling it a violation of his pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class.

"This is exactly what George Bush Sr. did when he said he wouldn't raise taxes, and it cost him the next election," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "Obama is doing the same thing, but he's insulting people by telling them that if you don't call it a big purple banana, somehow it wouldn't be a tax."

Some liberals acknowledge that Obama might be vulnerable on the insurance requirement. But they say most people will understand as long as the legislation provides enough of a subsidy to make the coverage affordable. That's a central issue this week as the Senate Finance Committee starts voting on legislation.

"I think it's a metaphysical question as to whether it's a tax or not," said Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future. "The real question that will determine whether people are upset is whether the insurance is affordable."

In an interview that aired Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Obama insisted that the insurance requirement is not a tax.

"For us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase," the president said. "What it's saying is...that we're not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore.

"Right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance," Obama added. "Nobody considers that a tax increase.

"You just can't make up that language and decide that that's called a tax increase," he added.

But a Democratic staff description of Sen. Max Baucus' bill calls the proposed fines an "excise tax." Penalties of up to $950 for individuals and $3,800 for families would be imposed on those who don't get coverage. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said Monday he expects the family penalty to be slashed in half to $1,900.

The House bill uses a complex formula to calculate the penalties, calling them a "tax on individuals without acceptable health care coverage."

The coverage mandate is part of a political bargain under which the insurance industry would agree to take all applicants, regardless of prior medical history.

"If we're going to have coverage without regard to pre-existing conditions, it makes sense," said economist Roberton Williams of the Tax Policy Center. "Otherwise people will come in the door the day they get sick." He sees no distinction between the requirement to get coverage and the fines themselves.

"The fact that it is imposed on people and they have no choice in paying it, and the fact that it's administered through the tax system all make it look like a tax," Williams said. The center is a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.

It wouldn't be the first asterisk added to Obama's campaign pledge on taxes. Earlier this year, he signed a tobacco tax increase to pay for children's health insurance. Even that can be read as a violation of his expansive campaign promise.

"I can make a firm pledge," he said in Dover, N.H., on Sept. 12, 2008. "Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

He repeatedly promised "you will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime."


Making people pay for health insurance is a not a tax, says President Obama in TV blitz
DAILY NEWS
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Updated Sunday, September 20th 2009, 1:52 PM

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says requiring people to get health insurance and fining them if they don't would not amount to a backhanded tax increase. "I absolutely reject that notion," the president said.

Blanketing most of the Sunday TV news shows, Obama defended his proposed health care overhaul, including a key point of the various health care bills on Capitol Hill: mandating that people get health insurance to share the cost burden fairly among all. Those who failed to get coverage would face financial penalties.

Obama said other elements of the plan would make insurance affordable for people, from a new comparison-shopping "exchange" to tax credits.

Telling people to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase, Obama told ABC's "This Week..."



FORTY-FIRST JOKE

The law is an ass


What is the most ridiculous part of the ACORN sting?

That one day ACORN is, we assume, a chosen implementer of voting rights, designated so by Congress, receiver of community development grants, and the next, criminal. 

Change you can believe in, right?

----------------

* "The law is an ass" originates in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, when the character Mr. Bumble is informed that "the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction".

No Joke: By the Editors
National Review
September 16, 2009, 4:00 a.m.

James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, two guerilla documentarians, have accomplished what neither the Republican party’s sense of outrage nor the Democratic party’s sense of decency could: They have inspired the federal government to begin cutting its ties with ACORN, the shady “community activist” organization that helped bring Barack Obama to power.

The set-up was both risible and shocking. Mr. O’Keefe and Miss Giles, who look for all the world like young Republican country-clubbers dressed for a tasteless costume party, walked into a number of ACORN offices and managed to pass themselves off as a pimp and a prostitute. They informed ACORN staffers that they were looking to set up a whorehouse and to traffic some children into the country for the purposes of prostitution. ACORN’s official mission is to facilitate affordable housing and social services for low-income families, not to facilitate child trafficking, but the staffers responded with advice on getting on welfare, claiming their underage victims as dependents, evading law enforcement, cheating on their taxes, defrauding federal housing authorities, et cetera ad nauseam. One ACORN staffer advised Miss Giles to bury her illicit sex-trade earnings in a tin in her back yard.

Asked about housing assistance, an ACORN staffer explains: “Honesty is not going to get the house. That’s why you've probably been denied. . . . Don't say you’re a prostitute thing or whatever.” Similar sagacity followed.

This was not a single, isolated incident. Mr. O’Keefe and Miss Giles took their chinchilla cape and hot pants, respectively, to a number of ACORN offices: in Baltimore, Washington, New York City. The results were similar for each outing. Mr. O’Keefe says there are more and yesterday released another video, of a California ACORN office.

The Census Bureau has severed its relationship with ACORN, and House Republicans are pressing the Internal Revenue Service to do the same. The Senate has voted to deny any future Housing and Urban Development funding to the organization. (Whether Nancy Pelosi’s House will follow suit is not yet known.) Somebody in Washington must be forced to answer this question: Why would any government agency have anything to do with this motley crew? Heads already are rolling at ACORN, and they should be rolling in the offices of the government agencies that approved these relationships. HUD is bad enough, but letting ACORN within spitting distance of the IRS bespeaks defective judgment. The group is deeply tapped into Washington: ACORN relies on government money for some 40 percent of its revenue, and that fact is a national disgrace.

President Obama’s ties to ACORN are of long standing and are widely documented. ACORN, which ran a number of voter-registration drives rife with fraud (Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck being two notable registrees, along with one Mr. Jive Turkey of Ohio) is at its core a political operation, one that was an important presence in Obama’s community-organizing days, as well as in his campaign. The organization has enjoyed a degree of political protection in Washington: Rep. Barney Frank was called upon by the Consumer Rights League to investigate ACORN in his role as an overseer of housing and mortgage matters. He refused to do so.

ACORN now alleges that the videotapes were altered — but they fired the employees in question, which does not suggest gross distortion or an innocent misunderstanding. As more videos come out, this story will get worse. Not that this story is a story so far as the mainstream media is concerned: Outside of Fox News, which aired the videos, the media has abdicated on ACORN coverage. This is the sort of sting video that used to be the bread-and-butter of 60 Minutes and other investigative television journalism. Now they look on the story with contempt; Charlie Gibson sneered that it was the sort of thing better left to “the cables.”

This is serious business — advising people how to defraud the government in furtherance of child prostitution and human trafficking — but it took two twentysomething documentarians to get it on our national radar. We’d argue that Congress should investigate, but who would be put in charge? Barney Frank? Nancy Pelosi? A blue-ribbon committee selected by President Obama? By their fruits (and nuts) ye shall know them.



FORTIETH JOKE

Dementia

Three brothers were adrift in a powerboat off the shore of Greenwich, having run out of gas.  Sharks circled the boat.

The youngest brother, a politician, offered this suggestion:  "Administration policy:  Let's all three of us jump in and swim for shore in three different directions."

The second brother, an agent and publicist suggested that they make a movie that could have several sequels, assuring royalties forever to family.

Speaking last, the eldest brother said "Wait for low tide"




Bioethicist Becomes a Lightning Rod for Criticism
NYTIMES
By JIM RUTENBERG
August 25, 2009

WASHINGTON — Few people hold a more uncomfortable place at the health care debate’s intersection between nuanced policy and cable-ready political rhetoric than President Obama’s special health care adviser, Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel.

Largely quoting his past writings out of context this summer, Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York, labeled Dr. Emanuel a “deadly doctor” who believes health care should be “reserved for the nondisabled” — a false assertion that Representative Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, repeated on the House floor.

Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska has asserted that Dr. Emanuel’s “Orwellian” approach to health care would “refuse to allocate medical resources to the elderly, the infirm and the disabled who have less economic potential,” accusations similarly made by the political provocateur Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr.

In fact, Dr. Emanuel has written more than a million words on health care, some of which form the philosophical underpinnings of the Obama administration plan and some of which have enough free-market elements to win grudging respect from some conservative opponents.

The debate over Dr. Emanuel shows how subtle philosophical arguments that have long bedeviled bioethicists are being condensed, oversimplified and distorted in the griddle-hot health care debate. His writings grapple with some of the most complex issues of medical ethics, like who should get the kidney transplant, the younger patient or the one who is older and sicker?

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Dr. Emanuel, an oncologist, has come to personify the most intense attacks on the president’s plan.

He is the older brother of the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and the Hollywood superagent Ari Emanuel. As a leading bioethicist at Harvard and at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Emanuel had a reputation for pushing limits while exploring uncomfortable life-and-death issues in starkly academic terms.

The level of vitriol against him has led even some conservative opponents to defend Dr. Emanuel while expressing concern that it is overtaking what they say are more vital real-world critiques.

“He is a serious oncologist and bioethicist, so the kinds of charges that have been raised against him are particularly inappropriate,” said Gail R. Wilensky, a Republican and senior White House health care adviser under the first President George Bush who criticizes Mr. Obama’s plan as being too reliant on the federal government.

Given Dr. Emanuel’s well-publicized repudiations of doctor-assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia, and his calls for a national health insurance voucher system that would eventually eliminate Medicare, Medicaid and employer-provided insurance — nonstarters at the White House — Dr. Emanuel says he is perplexed by depictions of him as a socialist euthanasia proponent.

“You can only call me someone who’s interested in euthanizing patients and denying care to patients by willful distortion of my record,” he said in an interview.

Dr. Emanuel rose to prominence in the late 1980s with a popular standardized medical directive that made it easier for terminally ill patients to share their wishes with doctors before becoming too sick to speak for themselves.

Concerned with the hard questions that arise without such directives, Dr. Emanuel included in his 1991 book, “The Ends of Human Life” (Harvard University Press), a critique of a court ruling upholding a family’s request to end treatment for a dying, mentally incapacitated daughter. He argued that the ruling, in the case of Karen Ann Quinlan, did not provide an adequate ethical framework for such a weighty decision in the absence of a patient’s stated wishes.

In a 1997 article in The Atlantic, he argued against doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia, warning it would “become the rule in the context of demographic and budgetary pressures,” and “would make us want to extend the option to others who, in society’s view, are suffering and leading purposeless lives” — concerns reflecting the exact opposite of the views his critics now ascribe to him.

Peter R. Orszag, the president’s budget director, said in an interview that he had hired Dr. Emanuel on his own merits, as opposed to his brother’s advice, after he offered to help with health care policy. Mr. Orszag said he was not surprised that Dr. Emanuel’s writings had drawn scrutiny.

“You can look at anyone who has written tons of stuff and play the same game,” he said.

Ms. McCaughey seemed to have evidence for her conclusion that “he explicitly defends discrimination against older patients” in a recent New York Post opinion article. She quoted from a paper he co-wrote for Lancet in January: “Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25.”

But she did not report that the paper was addressing the allocation of “very scarce resources” like kidneys or vaccines, not the system in general.

Dr. Emanuel’s argument — that young adults should take priority in vying for limited health resources because they will get more years of life from them — is a fairly mainstream if unpleasant approach to a problem with only bad choices, ethicists and doctors of varying persuasions say.

“These kinds of dilemmas go on every day in clinical practice,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a physician and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group. “There’s a very big leap to say his contemplations about how doctors contend with these issues extends to saying he believes government should take on these issues.”

Dr. Gottlieb opposes the administration’s proposals, calling them too prescriptive, too expensive, and too open to eventual increased rationing.

In a brief interview, Ms. McCaughey said that either way, because of its Medicare cost cuts, “the president’s proposal will force hospitals to operate with scarce resources.”

The administration disputes that assertion.

Ms. McCaughey, Ms. Palin and others have based accusations that Dr. Emanuel would direct treatment away from the disabled on a 1996 paper he wrote for the Hastings Center bioethics institute.

In it, Dr. Emanuel did not assert that “medical care should be reserved for the nondisabled, “ as the critics have said.

The paper laid out what he called a growing consensus among competing political philosophies about how a society should allocate health care services. In clinical terms, he said that consensus held that those who “are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens” should not be guaranteed the same level of treatment as others.

He cited as an example, “not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.”

Dr. Emanuel said he was simply describing a consensus held by others, not himself.

But even some colleagues said in interviews that the paper did not go far enough in repudiating the view.

“He doesn’t ever endorse it, nor does he explicitly distance himself from it,” said Thomas H. Murray, president of the Hastings Center. But, Mr. Murray added, “anyone who would attribute this isolated sentence to his convictions, it’s just unfair.”

Dr. Emanuel said he understood some of the criticisms.

“Maybe if I had been a smarter, more careful thinker about how people could interpret it, I would have qualified it and condemned it more robustly,” he said. “In my 1.2, 1.3 million written words, you can’t find another sentence that even comes close to advocating that in my voice. When I advocate, I’m not shy.



THIRTY-NINTH JOKE

Cicada central

It has been noted that with the 17-year cicada cycle arrival in Greenwich, it is hard to hear oneself speak.  Democrats do not have this problem, however, because they just read what the teleprompter tells them to!




THIRTY-EIGHTH JOKE

Fore!

Did you hear the joke about the Golf Summit?  G-8 leaders met the BRIC countries in Scotland.

President Obama proposed that there be a world-wide system of driving ranges ("DR") installed in all countries to level the playing field.

PM Gordon Brown proposed that all golf courses worldwide look like seaside links courses in Scotland, which are already level.

"Who needs golf?" President Chavez, who just happened along, remarked, "when what we really need is affordable housing sites?"

--------------

Chávez Loyalists Push to Close Golf Courses
NYTIMES
By SIMON ROMERO
August 12, 2009

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez’s political movement has found a new target: golf.

After a brief tirade against the sport by the president on national television last month, pro-Chávez officials have moved in recent weeks to shut down two of the country’s best-known golf courses, in Maracay, a city of military garrisons near here, and in the coastal city of Caraballeda.

“Let’s leave this clear,” Mr. Chávez said during a live broadcast of his Sunday television program. “Golf is a bourgeois sport,” he said, repeating the word “bourgeois” as if he were swallowing castor oil. Then he went on, mocking the use of golf carts as a practice illustrating the sport’s laziness.

The government’s broad nationalizations and asset seizures have gone far beyond the oil industry to include coffee roasters, cattle ranches and tomato-processing plants.

If the golf course closings go forward, the number of courses shut down in the last three years will be about nine, said Julio L. Torres, director of the Venezuelan Golf Federation. A project on Margarita Island, designed by the American architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. and intended to be South America’s top course, was halted because of financial problems.

Most of the closed courses are in oil regions, near Maracaibo in western Venezuela and in Monagas State, in the east, and were initially built for Americans working in the oil industry. Mr. Chávez’s purge of dissidents from the national oil company focused suspicion on the golf courses, which were seen as bastions of the old elite.

A housing shortage has also pushed the government’s hand, Mr. Chávez said last month, when he questioned why Maracay had so many slums while the golf course and the grounds of the state-owned Hotel Maracay, a decaying modernist gem built in the 1950s, stretch over about 74 acres of coveted real estate.

“Just so some little group of the bourgeois and the petit-bourgeois can go and play golf,” he said during his television program...



THIRTY-SEVENTH JOKE

eBay to the rescue?  What "best cars?"

At first we thought it was a joke.  "Cash for Clunkers."

Then it became linked to California, and the latest effort to get that great economy moving again.  Vote for e-Bay!  Sounds like a plan..."what will you bid for this shiny new GM car?"

Now we know what this Administration reminds us of...used car salesmen!

-----------------

G.M. Sees eBay as a Way to Reach New Buyers
NYTIMES
By NICK BUNKLEY
August 11, 2009

DETROIT — General Motors will begin selling cars and trucks on the auction Web site eBay on Tuesday as it tries to reach new customers and regain lost market share.

The venture will involve about 225 dealerships in California at first, but G.M. hopes to expand it nationally as soon as September. As it came out of bankruptcy protection last month, the company said it wanted to sell vehicles on eBay, prompting the Web site to quickly deny having a partnership with G.M. although it said the two companies were in talks.

The companies have since set up a G.M. portal on eBay — gm.ebay.com — with the slogan “Our best cars. Your best offer.” G.M. said shoppers can use it to browse dealers’ inventories, ask questions, negotiate prices and arrange financing.

Vehicles will not be auctioned to the highest bidder but rather listed at a “buy it now” price equal to G.M.’s supplier price. Shoppers also can submit a lower offer that the dealer can choose to accept or reject. Up to 20,000 vehicles will be listed on the site at first, G.M. said.

“I think we’ll sell quite a few cars in this promotion where the customer never sees the dealership,” Mark LaNeve, G.M.’s vice president for United States sales, said.

“We’re making it easier for customers to shop and figure out what the price is,” Mr. LaNeve said. “If the sticker price is $21,000 and their budget is 18, a lot of times they’re embarrassed to say, ‘Well, I’ll offer you 18.’ But now they can do that anonymously online. So we think it’s going to give us some opportunities we didn’t have before.”

“Together with eBay Motors, G.M. and our dealers are reinventing the car-buying experience for our California customers,” Mr. LaNeve said in a statement.

G.M. will be the first automaker to sell new models on eBay, though more than three million used vehicles have exchanged hands through eBay Motors; many were listed and sold by individual dealers, some of which also list their inventory of new vehicles. The program initially runs through Sept. 8, but Mr. LaNeve said the deadline was meant to control pricing, not an indication that sales through eBay would stop at that time.

The partnership with eBay is a crucial part of G.M.’s effort to return to profitability after five years of heavy losses and to remain the new-vehicle sales leader in the United States. It is cutting four of its eight brands, a move that could cause it to fall behind the Ford Motor Company and Toyota unless it manages to increase sales of the remaining brands. One surviving brand, Cadillac, is not participating in the eBay program.

G.M.’s new chairman, Edward E. Whitacre Jr., vowed last week to remain the top-selling automaker in its home country, but the company conceded in a regulatory filing on Friday that eliminating half of its brands would probably reduce its total sales, “possibly significantly.” It chose California to test online sales in part because G.M.’s market share in that state is just 13.5 percent, far below its national share of about 19.5 percent.

G.M. hopes eBay, which claims 84 million active users worldwide, will help it reach potential buyers who might not otherwise visit a G.M. dealership. Its new vehicles have been widely praised by critics and analysts, but getting shoppers — some of which swore off G.M. products decades ago because of poor quality or bland designs — to actually visit showrooms and look around has remained difficult.

More than three quarters of new-vehicle buyers in 2008 researched their purchase online, according to a study by J. D. Power and Associates, but actually completing a sale through the Internet remains uncommon.

“A lot of them actually end up going to the dealer in person and test-driving the car before finalizing the transaction,” Rob Chesney, a vice president for eBay Motors, said. “But there’s a lot of that purchase process that we can make easier with Web-based technology.”

Mr. Chesney said eBay hoped to expand the G.M. program nationally and was open to working with other automakers if it was successful.



Already in bed with the banks, faithful Secretary Geithner lets the President deal with the insurance companies.

THIRTY-SIXTH JOKE

Promises, promises...the art of rolling an industry

Did you hear the joke about the lobbyists who believed the President's assurances on healthcare?  What were they thinking!!!

"...Tomorrow is another day" as Scarlet famously stated, with Atlanta falling all about her...

---------------

Obama Reverses Stand on Drug Industry Deal

NYTIMES
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Published: August 7, 2009

WASHINGTON — Caught between a pivotal industry ally and the protests of Congressional Democrats, the Obama administration on Friday backed away from what drug industry lobbyists had said this week was a firm White House promise to exclude from a proposed health care overhaul the possibility of allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices under Medicare...

Several Senate Democrats said Friday that, in a private meeting, White House officials had told them there was no such deal, sowing yet more confusion. House Democratic leaders vowed to fight against it.

Then, after contending for two days that the Senate Democrats had misunderstood the White House aide’s comments, the White House appeared Friday night to back away.

In a telephone interview, Linda Douglass, a White House spokeswoman on health matters, said the question of government drug-price bargaining “was not discussed during the negotiations.” Asked if that meant such a provision was excluded, as the top drug lobbyists had previously said, Ms. Douglass declined to comment, repeating, “It was not discussed.”


THIRTY-SIXTH JOKE

Break in

Taking a leaf from Congressman Rangel's book, President Obama pointed out that the Cambridge police were "stupid" and over-eager to incarcerate African-Americans.  This was considered by some to be "playing the race card."  It is perhaps understandable the President made a mistake in his choice of words, since it obviously was stupid to arrest a Harvard professor in Cambridge.

How dare the police break in on the Harvard professor in Cambridge - doesn't the policeman know the faces of the entire Harvard faculty...or only the ones with rap sheets?



THIRTY-FIFTH JOKE

What foreign policy? 

"Speak softly and carry a big shtick" is one saying that might be recommended to Senator Franken of Minnesota.

"When in doubt, squint" policy in vogue. 

Or is the squinting policy because the President can't make out what the teleprompter says?


----------------

*

"Our age knows nothing but reaction, and leaps from one extreme to another."  Reinhold Niebuhr.

A Good Niebuhr Policy

The realists, so-called, are back in Washington.
by Matthew Continetti
07/13/2009, Volume 014, Issue 40

Have you been racking your brain these past few weeks, trying to figure out what makes the Obama administration's Iran policy "realistic"?

It's a good question. "Realism" in foreign policy has purportedly returned to power after 16 long years in exile. Obama and his allies in and outside government take great care to distinguish their approach to the world from the unbridled idealism that supposedly characterized George W. Bush's administration (and, implicitly, Bill Clinton's). Brent Scowcroft, the prominent realist and former national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush, has the current president's ear. Another realist veteran of the first Bush presidency, Robert Gates, is the secretary of defense. One of the president's biggest boosters in the media--but we repeat ourselves--is the realist Fareed Zakaria. In fashionable coteries of opinion, Woodrow Wilson is out. Reinhold Niebuhr is in.

This ought to be welcome news. American foreign policy makers should always be aware of our country's limits and conscious of its capabilities. It is always good to have people at the helm who understand that American primacy undergirds an international system that has produced more wealth, and more peace, for the world's people than any other in human history, and who therefore seek to promote that system and protect against threats to its stability. Such people are aware that the contest between powers does not end, and search for opportunities to tilt the balance of power in America's (and prosperity's and tranquility's) favor. Such people, in other words, recognize that the turmoil in Iran is an opportunity.

Millions of Iranians no longer see the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad as legitimate rulers. The violence the regime has deployed to silence dissent only underscores that illegitimacy. Here is a moment, you would think, for America and its allies to heighten the regime's internal contradictions by keeping solidarity with, and helping wherever possible, the Iranian men and women taking to the streets. After all, the more time the Revolutionary Guard spends securing its internal position, the less time it has to obtain nuclear weapons and pursue hegemony over the greater Middle East. A forward-leaning U.S. policy would not only further the cause of liberal democracy, it would strengthen the U.S. position vis-à-vis Iran. And a weakened Iranian regime is more likely to negotiate in good faith with America and her allies.

None of this has happened, however. Instead, the realists in power have adopted a policy of inaction in foreign affairs. They are content to sit back and pine for a fantasy world where the United States is an "offshore balancer" that needn't concern itself with protest marches in Persia. Furthermore, in the face of all contrary evidence, today's realists clutch to their belief that the only obstacle to an accommodation with the thugs who rule Iran was George W. Bush. Play nice, they tell us. Sit back. Everything will work out. Don't ruffle any feathers. Taking action will do more harm than good.

Faced with a jerry-rigged election and widespread discontent in Iran, President Obama first downplayed the differences between Ahmadinejad, a man the Iranian opposition calls a "dictator," and the reformist candidate Mir-Hussein Mousavi. Then Obama told Americans that their government's historical legacy of "meddling" in Iranian affairs cautioned against intervention in the current crisis. When the regime's brutality in the face of its people's democratic aspirations became undeniable, however, Obama called "on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people." Too little. Too late.

The president has intensified his rhetoric. But he hasn't done much else to support the protests or to sanction the Iranian regime for its actions. The White House's passive language is revealing. In a June 20 statement, President Obama reminded the Iranians that the "world is watching," that Americans "mourn each and every innocent life that is lost," that "we are bearing witness" and will continue to do so. Lovely sentiments. No question that a 20-something student beaten up by Basij militiamen appreciates them. But he probably also wants something more. The Iranian nuclear program, meanwhile, barrels on.

Obama did not say that the United States would take active steps to help the Iranians conduct free and fair elections. He did not propose an international conference devoted to the Iranian opposition. He neglected the opportunity to remind the world that an Iran without nuclear weapons is a global public good. He took care not to give any sign that American power or American ideals are involved in the uprising. The president and his so-called realist advisers' overriding concern, after all, is that America not "own" the protests.

Why? Because Ahmadinejad is "already accusing the United States and Britain of interference," writes Fareed Zakaria. "Our strategy should be to make sure that these accusations seem as loony and baseless as possible." Historically, the "Tehran government" has appealed to nationalist feelings in order to cement its power. If Ahmadinejad successfully portrays the Mousavi revolt as part of "an on going anti-Iranian campaign," then support for the protestors may collapse. American action will have a perverse effect. The United States will frustrate the very end it is trying to achieve.

But Ahmadinejad has already disproved this argument. As Zakaria mentions, he has been blaming the pro-democracy protests on the United States and Britain since the day they began. Did the protestors believe him? They did not. Did a single antigovernment protestor walk away from the marches when he heard that Obama condemned the violence? Nope. Would one of them shake her head and say, "Well, now I know Ahmadinejad won fair and square!" if she heard that Obama supported her cause? Of course not. The democrats rallied until the guys with the guns showed up and started shooting.

Obama's muted response might have assuaged uneasy liberal consciences in New York and Washington. Outside in the world, however, where nations vie for advantage, Obama neither won America any friends nor set back any of her adversaries. To the contrary: Ahmadinejad has been emboldened, harassing workers at the British embassy and demanding an apology from Obama.

Today's realists are so afraid of America's shadow, so convinced that the nation is in relative decline, that they counsel inaction even when solidarity with the Iranian opposition would accelerate the demise of Iranian theocracy and hence improve America's regional power position. "[A]t the heart of realist thought today," Robert Kagan wrote more than a decade ago in Commentary, "is a hostility to any foreign policy which seeks to foster American ideals abroad--whether it is safe to do so or not" (emphasis in the original). Little has changed.

The hostility is blinding. It prevents the realists from recognizing those moments when American interests and American ideals intersect. Moments when forceful words and concrete actions help the democrats' and America's cause.

The realists' lackadaisical attitude in the face of democratic fervor is partly a consequence of their view that a regime's character is largely irrelevant to its foreign policy. It is partly confirmation that Obama's team is more interested in restricting the scope of American ideals, interests, and ambitions than in capitalizing on moments when history might shift decisively in our favor. But, taken as a whole, such a mindset isn't "realistic." It's obtuse.

Matthew Continetti is associate editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.



THIRTY-FOURTH JOKE

Eureka!  Watt's next?

How many Democrats in the U.S. Senate does it take to change all our lightbulbs?

60.

-------------------------
*
White House Announces New Lighting Standards
NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 12:29 p.m. ET
June 29, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Aiming to keep the focus on climate change legislation, President Barack Obama is ready to talk about making lamps and lighting equipment use less energy.

On Monday afternoon, Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu plan to disclose that $346 million in economic stimulus money will help improve energy efficiency in new and existing commercial buildings.

The White House added the event to the president's schedule at the last minute, just three days after the House narrowly approved the first energy legislation ever designed to curb global warming. The measure's fate is less certain in the Senate, where Democrats lack the 60 votes needed to block a certain filibuster.

Still, in an interview with a small group of reporters, Obama energy adviser Carol Browner said: ''I am confident that comprehensive energy legislation will pass the Senate.'' But she repeatedly refused to say exactly when the White House expected the Senate to pass the measure, and she wouldn't speculate on whether Obama would have legislation sent to his desk by year's end.

The White House is working to keep energy in the spotlight even as Congress takes a break this week for the July 4 holiday. Obama has spent the past few days pressuring the Senate to follow the House while also seeking to show that the administration is making quick, clear progress on energy reform without legislation.

In February, the president directed the Energy Department to update it's energy conservation standards for everyday household appliances such as dishwashers, lamps and microwave ovens. Laws on the books already required new efficiency standards for household and commercial appliances. But they have been backlogged in a tangle of missed deadlines, bureaucratic disputes and litigation.

At the time, Obama said: ''This will save consumers money, this will spur innovation, and this will conserve tremendous amounts of energy,''

The administration already has released new standards on commercial refrigeration.

Lamps are next.

The administration says 7 percent of all energy consumed in the U.S. is for lighting, and the new standards, which will take effect in 2012, will cover fluorescent and incandescent lamps and lighting equipment in households and commercial buildings.

The White House says the changes will save enough electricity from 2012 through 2042 to power every home in the U.S. for up to 10 months, and will result in an annual savings for consumers of between $1 billion to $4 billion over that thirty-year period.


THIRTY-THIRD JOKE

LESSONS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME (from Emily Post)*

How has Barack Obama failed to comply with etiquette, not to mention wise foreign policy?  Pick one or more.
----------------

*
TO PUNISH IRAN: A BILL BAM SHOULD BACK
New York Post
By DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN
Last updated: 5:53 am
June 26, 2009
Posted: 2:12 am
June 26, 2009

THE Obama adminstration is really playing hardball with Iran now. Faced with the regime's outrageous conduct in killing its own citizens to cow them into silence, the State Department has disinvited Iranian diplomats from the July 4 hot-dog festivals.

That'll show 'em!

If you feel that stronger action may be required, you might want to consider the Sherman-Kirk Amendment, which a House appropriations subcommittee just passed with bipartisan support. The amendment, co-sponsored by Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), would require a cutoff of Export-Import Bank financing for any firm that exports gasoline to Iran or helps it develop new refining capacity.

For all its vast oil supplies, Iran has to import almost half its gasoline. This need to import gas is the regime's biggest vulnerability. Orde Kittre, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, calls it Iran's "Achilles' heel."

The amendment is largely aimed at Reliance Industries Limited of India, which has gotten $900 million in loan guarantees from the Export-Import Bank, of which $500 million is to help expand Reliance's Jamnagar refinery -- which refines almost a third of Iran's gasoline imports.

Set aside the obvious question of why the US taxpayer is helping to finance the refining of Iran's gasoline in the first place. This amendment offers the timid administration a perfect way to show the anger and outrage it claims to feel at the suppression of democratic dissent in Iran. It might even be more effective than denying the mullahs their Fourth of July hot dogs.

This bipartisan bill strikes at the very core of Iran's economy and sends a potent signal of America's support for human rights and opposition to totalitarian autocracy.

President Obama has unilaterally repealed the emphasis on human rights that was President Jimmy Carter's major positive foreign-policy accomplishment. He has replaced it with a value-neutral policy that appeases the forces of dictatorship and cowers in their wake.

Swift adoption of Sherman-Kirk would give Obama a real weapon to discipline Iran and pressure it to reach an accommodation with its own people. As speculators take their cue from Congress and bet on higher gasoline prices in Iran, the cost of gas would rise and catalyze further discontent with the regime.

Iran subsidizes its gasoline prices, holding them to about 35 cents a gallon. With a falloff in refining capacity, the government would have to jump through hoops to avoid massive gas-price inflation. Rationing would ensue.

Through economic, as opposed to military, pressure, Obama can show the mullahs how seriously we take human rights in the United States and how little Iran can afford to isolate itself from the civilized world.

Sherman-Kirk could easily become law with administration support. Now is the president's chance to offer more than words to counter Iranian repression. We hope he'll seize it.


THIRTY-SECOND JOKE

Appeasement, 21st century style*

Which foreign policy is this administration following?

Speak softly and carry a big stick;
Speak loudly and don't do anything;
Don't speak because you know all about fixed elections since you come from Chicago.

--------------
*

City of Whispers
NYTIMES
By ROGER COHEN

June 20, 2009

TEHRAN — This has become the city of whispers. Many of the people I spoke to when I arrived last week are in prison. Stabbings and shootings punctuate the night. Fear rushes down alleys and dead ends. Still the whispering continues.

“Tomorrow, Vanak Square.” Or “Four o’clock, Imam Khomeini Square.” Or “Everyone wear black.”

An election result was announced a week ago that, in the words of the most senior opposition ayatollah, Hossein Ali Montazeri, “no wise person in their right mind can believe.”

Force rammed home the false, but still it did not stick. Switches were flicked to block texting and cell phones. Still the whispering continued.

From a four-year-old boy: “Ahmadi-byebye” — referring to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. From a young woman with a photograph of Mir Hussein Moussavi, the opposition leader whose occasional appearances send jolts of electricity: “Five o’clock, Vali Asr Square.”

The whispering is heard in the throng’s silence. It is the word-of-mouth switching mechanism of Iran’s uprising. I’ve never seen such discipline achieved with so little, millions summoned and coordinated with hardly a sound. “Silence will win against the bullets,” says one banner.

The odds must still be against that. But Ahmadinejad, in his customary bipolar (but tending manic) fashion, is making nice. “We like everyone,” he now says. I suppose he must mean those who are not in prison, hospital or a cemetery.

However, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, adopted a harsh tone in a Friday sermon, warning of chaos and bloodshed if protests continue, blaming “evil media” run by “Zionists” for unacceptable disturbances, dismissing rigging as impossible, and charging the United States with meddling. In effect, Khamenei drew a line in the sand.

Two Irans now confront each other across it. One of the achievements of the 1979 revolution has been that it brought education to many more Iranians. I spoke the other day to a doctor. She was wearing a surgical mask as she marched. She works at a state oil company clinic. She was 20 in 1979 and she marched then, too.

“People are far more educated and cultivated now,” she told me. “They know the stakes. This is deep. Moussavi will go to the end for our freedom.”

Iran has sought independence and some form of democracy for over a century. It now has the former but this election has clarified, for an overwhelmingly young population, the Islamic Republic’s utter denial of the latter.

The feeling in the crowd seems to be: today or never, all together and heave!

A man holds his mobile phone up to me: footage of a man with his head blown off last Monday. A man, 28, whispers: “The government will use more violence, but some of us have to make the sacrifice.”

Another whisper: “Where are you from?” When I say the United States, he says: “Please give our regards to freedom.”

Which brings me to President Barack Obama, who said in his inaugural speech: “Those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Seldom was a fist more clenched than in the ramming-through of this election result. Deceit and the attempted silencing of dissent are now Iran’s everyday currency. In this city of whispers one of the whispers now is: Where is Obama?

The president has been right to tread carefully, given poisonous American-Iranian history, but has erred on the side of caution. He sounds like a man rehearsing prepared lines rather than the leader of the free world. A stronger condemnation of the violence and repression is needed, despite Khamenei’s warnings. Obama should also rectify his erroneous equating, from the U.S. national security perspective, of Ahmadinejad and Moussavi.

Ahmadinejad is Iran’s Mr. Nuclear. He has rapidly advanced the program and, through preaching in every village mosque, successfully likened it to the nationalization of the oil industry as an assertion of Iranian nationalism.

By contrast, Moussavi has not abjured the program, but has attacked Ahmadinejad’s “adventurist” and “delusional” foreign policy. These are essential distinctions.

Obama should think hard about whether this ballot-box putsch is not precisely about giving Ahmadinejad and his military-industrial coterie four more years to usher Iran at least to virtual nuclear-power status. He should also think hard about the differences in character: Ahmadinejad is volatile and headstrong, the interlocutor from hell, while Moussavi is steady and measured.

Shrugging away these distinctions like a dispassionate professor at a time when people are dying in the streets of Iran is no way to honor this phrase in his Inaugural Address: “Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.”

When I was here earlier this year, I argued that Iran was an unfree and repressive society but also a nation offering significant margins of liberty, at least by regional standards, with which Obama’s America must engage. After Iraq, I was deeply concerned that facile stereotyping of a society of “mad Mullahs” bent on nuclear Armageddon could once again set America in lockstep to war.

I underestimated how brutal the regime could be. But my critics underestimated how strong and broad the Iran of civic courage and democratic impulse is, and they misread how important this election was, dismissing it as the meaningless exercise of a clerical dictatorship.

I still believe there is no alternative to engagement. But it is not the time for Obama to talk about talks. He should be talking about his outrage at the violence.

This is the city of whispers. Its people crave to know that their hushed voices are being heard. Obama, lover of words, is the message man. “Message received” is what he must convey.



THIRTY-FIRST JOKE

Ponzi merry-go-round*

The bedrock of middle-class America has always been, since World War II ended, the dream of homeownership.  Was this, too, a "Ponzi-like" concept?  Read article below.
-----------
*
U.S. Homes Recovery Distressingly Slow: Reuters / UMich
NYTIMES
By REUTERS
Filed at 10:11 a.m. ET
June 19, 2009

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A "distressingly slow" U.S. housing recovery, with inflation-adjusted home values expected to decline over the next five years, makes it unlikely that housing wealth will drive consumer spending in the next decade, a Reuters/University of Michigan survey found.

Consumers are apt to maintain their renewed emphasis on savings and paring debt, Richard Curtin, director of the survey, said in a June home price update on Friday.  Housing wealth changes have a lagged impact on spending, and the influence of declines seen in 2008 will depress growth in consumer spending in 2009 and 2010, the survey said.

"To be sure, refinancing has reduced the burden of mortgage payments, giving consumers more discretionary income, but the refinancing impact on spending will fade as mortgage rates increase," Curtin said. "Moreover, conventional refinancing is largely limited to consumers whose home is worth about 20 percent more than their current outstanding mortgage."

The pool of those homeowners is fast shrinking with each month that home prices sink. On average, home prices nationally have slumped by more than 32 percent from mid-2006 highs, based on Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller indexes.  Sixty percent of homeowners reported home price declines in the second quarter Reuters/University of Michigan surveys. The share of those reporting losses was greatest in the West, at 77 percent, and least in the South, at 51 percent.

Some signs of sentiment improvement emerged in the second quarter. Just 22 percent of those surveyed expected price declines in the year ahead, the lowest share since 2007.  The share of homeowners reporting price declines in the past year and expected further erosion in the year ahead fell to 28 percent in the second quarter from 35 percent in the first quarter and 43 percent a year ago.

"Declines in prices have prompted consumers to view home buying conditions much more favorably, but those same price declines have prompted the least favorable assessments of home selling conditions ever recorded," Curtin said.

Most home buyers are also sellers. As a result, many potential transactions are thwarted because the reluctance to sell at a "loss" is seen as greater than the advantage of the buying at a reduced price, he said.



THIRTIETH JOKE

Viva O.J.! Ankle tackle!

How is the Supreme Court unlike the Superbowl?  Wardrobe malfunctions go undetected on the high court.

And speaking of (juris) prudence...the highlight of popularity with the general public for former football great O.J. Simpson might be his "AVIS" commercial - the one where he runs through an airport, hurdling baggage and other obstacles.  Many remember O.J. in another way - as the individual who hired the best lawyers and managed to get an "innocent" ruling out of an L.A. jury some years ago. 

To combine the thoughts - being plucky in an airport and being lucky in court, we come to another case.

What was Judge Sotomayor thinking!  Of course the airline would have held the plane for her!  She may be on the Supreme Court soon enough!  Airlines know it is always good to have friends in, no pun intended, high places! 

Just ask G.M. and Chrysler!



---------------------------
*

While watching "Good Morning America" on the overhead video as she ran through La Guardia...

Sotomayor Fractures Ankle at Airport

NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 3:39 p.m. ET
June 8, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor broke her ankle Monday morning in an airport stumble, then boarded her flight as scheduled and made the roughly hourlong trip to Washington to meet with senators who will vote on her confirmation.

The federal judge, who has been keeping up a busy set of appointments on Capitol Hill, tripped at New York's LaGuardia Airport and suffered a small fracture to her right ankle, the White House said.

She was keeping her six appointments with senators despite the injury. She entered the Capitol for a meeting with Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, on crutches, wearing a white cast covered at the foot with a black soft bootie. Asked how she was feeling, Sotomayor said, ''I feel fine, thank you.''

Sotomayor has set a relentless pace since her Capitol Hill debut last week. By day's end Monday, she will have met with one-third of the Senate in just four days of visits.

The White House is pressing for her quick confirmation, and Sotomayor wasn't pausing much for distractions, even her own trip-up. She even stopped at the White House Monday after her arrival in Washington, before heading to a local medical office for an X-ray.

The George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates treated and released her, according to a White House statement.

Sotomayor drew praise Monday former first lady Laura Bush, who said she was pleased President Barack Obama nominated a woman for the Supreme Court.

''I think she sounds like a very interesting and good nominee,'' Bush said of Sotomayor. She said on ABC's ''Good Morning America'' that, ''as a woman, I'm proud that there might be another woman on the court. I wish her well.''




TWENTY-NINTH JOKE

Governmental Motors *

How about this for a strategy:  GM produces three cars only, in any of a million colors as in the rainbow;  all use the hybrid engine from Cadillac STS. 

Since all other GM cars looked alike anyway, no one will miss the other brands.


-------------
*
Op-Ed Columnist
The Quagmire Ahead
By DAVID BROOKS
June 2, 2009

On Jan. 21, 1988, a General Motors executive named Elmer Johnson wrote a brave and prophetic memo. Its main point was contained in this sentence: “We have vastly underestimated how deeply ingrained are the organizational and cultural rigidities that hamper our ability to execute.”

On Jan. 26, 2009, Rob Kleinbaum, a former G.M. employee and consultant, wrote his own memo. Kleinbaum’s argument was eerily similar: “It is apparent that unless G.M.’s culture is fundamentally changed, especially in North America, its true heart, G.M. will likely be back at the public trough again and again.”

These two memos, written by men devoted to the company, get to the heart of G.M.’s problems. Bureaucratic restructuring won’t fix the company. Clever financing schemes won’t fix the company. G.M.’s core problem is its corporate and workplace culture — the unquantifiable but essential attitudes, mind-sets and relationship patterns that are passed down, year after year.

Over the last five decades, this company has progressively lost touch with car buyers, especially the educated car buyers who flock to European and Japanese brands. Over five decades, this company has tolerated labor practices that seem insane to outsiders. Over these decades, it has tolerated bureaucratic structures that repel top talent. It has evaded the relentless quality focus that has helped companies like Toyota prosper.

As a result, G.M. has steadily lost U.S. market share, from 54 to 19 percent. Consumer Reports now recommends 70 percent of Ford’s vehicles, but only 19 percent of G.M.’s.

The problems have not gone unrecognized and heroic measures have been undertaken, but technocratic reforms from within have not changed the culture. Technocratic reforms from Washington won’t either. For the elemental facts about the Obama restructuring plan are these: Bureaucratically, the plan is smart. Financially, it is tough-minded. But when it comes to the corporate culture that is at the core of G.M.’s woes, the Obama approach is strangely oblivious. The Obama plan won’t revolutionize G.M.’s corporate culture. It could make things worse.

First, the Obama plan will reduce the influence of commercial outsiders. The best place for fresh thinking could come from outside private investors. But the Obama plan rides roughshod over the current private investors and so discourages future investors. G.M. is now a pariah on Wall Street. Say farewell to a potentially powerful source of external commercial pressure.

Second, the Obama plan entrenches the ancien régime. The old C.E.O. is gone, but he’s been replaced by a veteran insider and similar executive coterie. Meanwhile, the U.A.W. has been given a bigger leadership role. This is the union that fought for job banks, where employees get paid for doing nothing. This is the organization that championed retirement with full benefits at around age 50. This is not an organization that represents fundamental cultural change.

Third, the Obama approach reduces the fear that impels change. The U.S. government will own most of G.M. It would be politically suicidal for the Democrats, or whoever is in power, to pull the plug on the company — now or ever. Therefore, the current managers can rest assured that they never need to fear liquidation again. There will always be federal subsidies for their own mediocrity.

Fourth, the Obama plan dilutes the company’s focus. Instead of thinking obsessively about profitability and quality, G.M. will also have to meet the administration’s environmental goals. There is no evidence G.M. is good at building the sort of small cars the administration demands. There is no evidence that there is a large American market for these cars. But G.M. now has to serve two masters, the market and the administration’s policy goals.

Fifth, G.M.’s executives and unions now have an incentive to see Washington as a prime revenue center. Already, the union has successfully lobbied to move production centers back from overseas. Already, the company has successfully sought to restrict the import of cars that might compete with G.M. brands. In the years ahead, G.M.’s management will have a strong incentive to spend time in Washington, urging the company’s owner, the federal government, to issue laws to help it against Ford and Honda.

Sixth, the new plan will create an ever-thickening set of relationships between G.M.’s new owners — in government, management and unions. These thickening bonds between public and private bureaucrats will fundamentally alter the corporate culture, and not for the better. Members of Congress are also getting more involved in the company they own, and will have their own quaint impact.

The end result is that G.M. will not become more like successful car companies. It will become less like them. The federal merger will not accelerate the company’s viability. It will impede it. We’ve seen this before, albeit in different context: An overconfident government throws itself into a dysfunctional culture it doesn’t really understand. The result is quagmire. The costs escalate. There is no exit strategy.



TWENTY-EIGHTH JOKE

Wanted: a new joke writer *

Washington is abuzz with news of a job category of public employment:  forthwith, every member of Congress must hire a team of humor consultants and a public discretion censor.  No more do-it-yourself, shooting-from-the-hip (you should pardon the expression)! 

Being politically correct while being funny is an art - for example, everyone knows that President Obama can't go anywhere without a phalanx of Secret Service!  So why make a 20th century, out of date wiseguy remark?

Or was this a diss of East Harlem (as opposed to West Harlem)?

---------------
*
Rangel’s Obama Quip Makes Waves
NYTIMES
By NINA BERNSTEIN
June 1, 2009

It was an innocuous question, asked of Representative Charles B. Rangel by a reporter as he left a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a Hudson River park on Saturday morning: What should President Obama do during his visit to New York?

The congressman, who had been reminiscing at the podium about his boyhood when he took the 125th Street trolley to the piers to watch the boats, responded with an apparent off-the-cuff quip: “Make certain he doesn’t run around in East Harlem without identification.”

By Sunday morning, that quip with its allusion to the fatal shooting of a black off-duty police officer by a white officer, was the stuff of tabloid headlines. “Even Bam May Not Be Safe, Sez Rangel” said a Daily News headline spread across two pages, reporting the remark as “a warning” to the president, who made a brief trip to the city on Saturday, to watch his back. “Rangel’s Sick Joke,” The New York Post called it.

By midday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg had weighed in.

“I have a lot of respect for Charlie Rangel, but in this case, he’s just plain wrong,” he said in response to a question about Mr. Rangel’s remark as he marched in the Salute to Israel parade on Fifth Avenue.

“This was a tragedy. Our Police Department is diverse and they train; sometimes things happen and they’re inexplicable,” the mayor said, adding, ”There’s no reason to suspect this had any racial overtones.”

Mr. Rangel made the remark to a Daily News reporter after the dedication ceremony for the West Harlem Piers Park. It was apparently not made within hearing distance of the many politicians, city officials and community leaders who were present. The city’s parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, said the speeches were followed by a music for a dance performance that made it difficult to hear any conversations.

The upset over Mr. Rangel’s remark reflected the high tension and racial sensitivity surrounding the shooting of Officer Omar J. Edwards in East Harlem on Thursday night, another chapter in a history of fraternal police shootings across the color line. Earlier, Mr. Rangel had called for a federal investigation of the shooting, saying that an independent inquiry would help assure the minority community that what happened was a mistake and that such an encounter would not happen again. Emile Milne, a spokesman for Mr. Rangel, said on Sunday morning that he was unable to reach the congressman to comment on the reaction to the Obama remark. Al O’Leary, a spokesman for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said that the union would have no comment.



TWENTY-SEVENTH JOKE - Summer limerick

Flip-flops are not just for the beach
(otherwise known as whip-lash)*

Boxing rope-a-dope can be adaptable.

Fake-right-go-left policy now acceptable. 

A "no" becomes yes,

Ain't Congress a mess?

Flip-flops on issues are now expectable.

-------------
*
Senate vote not last word on Guantanamo 
DAY
By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent 
Posted on May 23, 7:46 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- With President Barack Obama showing the way, some Senate Democrats are signaling a willingness to permit transferring terrorism suspects from Guantanamo Bay to prisons in the United States despite a high-profile vote to the contrary.

Most notably among them is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who spent the week sending out confusing signals on just where he stood.

"We are wanting and willing to work with" the president to come up with a solution to the detainee controversy, the Nevada Democrat said Thursday - a statement that conspicuously left open the possibility that some detainees would eventually be incarcerated in U.S. prisons.

Only two days earlier, Reid had adamantly told reporters he opposed the release of any of the detainees into the United States. On Wednesday, he joined 89 other lawmakers in both parties who voted to prohibit their transfer.

The 90-6 vote also denied Obama the funds he requested to close the Navy-run detention center in Cuba, which was set up by the Bush administration and has become a highly controversial symbol of the former president's terrorism policies.

Obama and many Democrats favor closing the facility, saying it has become a recruiting tool for al-Qaida. But doing so leaves open the fate of most of the 240 men held there.

Some Democrats grumbled that Obama's team had left them exposed politically in the run-up to Wednesday's vote. Sen. Daniel Inouye, the Hawaii Democrat who is chairman of the Appropriations Committee, spoke at one point of the administration lacking a "coherent plan."

Initially, Senate Democrats, who hold a majority, had hoped to finesse the issue. They drafted legislation that allowed Obama's use of the funds to close Guantanamo after he presented a plan that outlined steps for dealing with the detainees held there.

But under significant pressure from the Republican leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and other GOP senators, Democrats backpedaled. They stripped out the funds altogether and voted with Republicans to bar the "transfer, release" or incarceration of any Guantanamo detainee in the United States.

"I think it is a perfect place, given the unique nature of the war on terror," McConnell said Thursday. "Having said that, the president, I assume, has the authority to close it if he'd like to. And if he's going to close it, then he needs a plan."

Within 24 hours of the Senate vote, Obama sought to reframe the issue, accusing unnamed critics of fear-mongering and resorting to "words that, frankly, are calculated to scare people rather than educate them."

At the same time, he made it clear he intends for some of the detainees to be incarcerated in the U.S. "Where demanded by justice and national security, we will seek to transfer some detainees to the same type of facilities in which we hold all manner of dangerous and violent criminals within our borders - namely highly secure prisons that ensure the public safety."

Some terrorists, he pointed out, have already been tried in federal courts, found guilty and sent to prison. "No one has ever escaped from one of our federal, supermax prisons, which hold hundreds of convicted terrorists," Obama said.

In addition to Reid, other Democrats who voted to ban the transfer of detainees to the United States said after Obama's speech, they are willing to consider the plan the president eventually presents.

"We need for the administration to come to the legislative branch with a well-thought out plan, and then for us to have a conversation," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. Asked whether that meant he was unalterably opposed to permitting detainees to enter U.S. prisons, he repeated it was up to the White House to outline its plan first.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said detainees can be incarcerated safely inside the United States, but added quickly, "Should they be? That's a far more difficult question to answer."

"It should be a last resort," she said, less preferable than sending them to other countries.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., who also voted for the legislation on Wednesday and favors closing Guantanamo, issued a statement saying he looked forward to working with the administration on a "lawful and efficient system of trials using an appropriate combination of our civilian courts and military commissions."

What to do with the Guantanamo detainees mushroomed into the biggest sticking point in a bill that Obama had wanted by Memorial Day to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the summer. So lawmakers will be under pressure to quickly complete it when they return in June. But the Guantanamo issue can be taken up again elsewhere, giving Obama some time to come up with a plan that could generate a compromise.





TWENTY-SIXTH JOKE

Summer reading list - Robin Hood, or from mighty Acorns grow

After the 100th day, after reading the tablets, better known as teleprompters, President Obama was struck by how much like the story of Robin Hood his commander-in-chief role was.

What better way to reward the poor and punish the rich or middle-class than to make them pay equally for use of credit cards!  One class of borrows only!  He forgot one thing...

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be" can work but only if you are neither - just the chap who pulls the strings.
*

--------------------

*


Wall St. Firm Draws Scrutiny as U.S. Adviser
NYTIMES
By ERIC LIPTON and MICHAEL J. de la MERCED
May 19, 2009

The financial crisis has ravaged many a Wall Street giant, but it has also produced a handful of winners. BlackRock, a money manager that is much admired but little known outside financial circles, is fast emerging as one of the nation’s financial powerhouses.

BlackRock, which started in a one-room office 21 years ago, now manages $1.3 trillion in assets for big private clients, including hedge funds and foreign governments.

But it is the company’s highly prized role as a government adviser and contractor that is now drawing attention.

By dint of its expertise and track record, it has won contracts to help the government manage the complex rescues of Bear Stearns, the American International Group and Citigroup.

It also won a bid to carry out a Federal Reserve program to stimulate the moribund housing market, and it has been hired to help evaluate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-created mortgage finance giants.

Other firms have been hired by the government to assist with the bailout, illustrating the increasingly symbiotic relationship between Washington and Wall Street.

It makes sense for the government to turn to financial experts for help, but BlackRock has become so ubiquitous that some lawmakers, federal auditors and watchdog groups are now asking if the firm does too much, and if its roles as government adviser, giant federal contractor and private money manager will inevitably collide.

Can a company that is being paid to price and sell troubled assets for the government buy the same kinds of assets for private clients without showing preference? And should the government seek counsel from a company whose clients stand to make or lose billions if those policies are enacted?

“They have access to information when the Federal Reserve will try to sell securities, and what price they will accept. And they have intricate financial relations with people across the globe,” Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said. “The potential for a conflict of interest is great and it is just very difficult to police.”

Without naming BlackRock, federal auditors have warned that any private parties that purchase distressed assets on the government’s behalf could use generous federal subsidies to overpay, artificially pushing up the price of similar assets that they manage for their own portfolios.

“In other words, the conflict results in an enormous profit for the fund manager at the expense of the taxpayer,” Neil M. Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, wrote in a report last month.

Some of BlackRock’s advice to the government has in fact helped the company. For example, in its role as an informal adviser, it urged the Fed to intervene in the markets in a way that made investors feel it was safe to put money back into money market funds, including BlackRock’s.

The Federal Reserve will not reveal what it is paying BlackRock, disclosing only that on one of its five contracts, it will pay at least $71 million over three years to BlackRock and other firms to manage a portfolio of mortgage assets once owned by Bear Stearns. BlackRock says that rate is discounted and that the fees it collects on bailout-related work are only a tiny portion of its overall revenue.

BlackRock has many admirers for the range and the quality of services it has provided to the federal government. James R. Wilkinson, who served until January as the chief of staff to the former Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., described BlackRock’s co-founder and chief executive, Laurence D. Fink, as a “patriot.”

He added, “He is willing to help our country when we need it most.”

Mr. Fink said he was proud that his company was helping pull the economy back from the brink, and he bristled at the suggestion of impropriety.

Treasury and Fed officials have begun to take precautions. BlackRock’s dominance has prompted the Fed to seek an alternative partner as it prepares to expand its rescue efforts, a government official close to the situation said, requesting anonymity because the actions could affect the market.

And Treasury is holding off announcing the winning bidders for perhaps the most anticipated of all the bailout programs — the $1 trillion federally subsidized plan to purchase troubled assets from banks — in part to make sure the bidders cannot game the system. BlackRock is widely expected to win one of the contracts, in which the government would be a partner with private firms.

Andrew Williams, a Treasury Department spokesman, said that BlackRock had no special status and was among a large group of industry players consulted about bailout programs.

“We take this very seriously,” Mr. Williams said. “We talk to a lot of people — as we should.”

Now 47 percent owned by Bank of America, BlackRock offers traditional services like managing other people’s money. But the unit that has grabbed most of the attention lately is BlackRock Solutions, whose sophisticated software, fine-tuned over many years, can take apart the thousands of loans in a mortgage-backed security to estimate what it is now worth and what it will most likely be worth in the future, helping investors decide whether to hold or sell the asset.

During one frantic weekend in March 2008, when Bear Stearns was collapsing, BlackRock’s omnipresence became evident.

On a Saturday, the firm was hired by JPMorgan Chase — which was considering buying Bear Stearns — to value one type of Bear Stearns security.

The next day the Federal Reserve hired BlackRock, through a no-bid contract, to analyze and eventually sell off a $30 billion pool of risky mortgage securities that JPMorgan did not want.

Those multiple roles created the potential for conflict, BlackRock’s own executives acknowledge. The company would be trying to sell assets on behalf of the government that were similar to assets it buys and sells for thousands of other private investors.

For example, if BlackRock Solutions signaled to BlackRock’s asset managers the timing of a planned sale, that could benefit BlackRock’s investors, but harm taxpayers and the Federal Reserve.

“We were very sensitive to it,” said Mark Wiedman, a managing director at BlackRock Solutions.

To avoid this, BlackRock Solutions and BlackRock asset management employees are housed in separate buildings, working on separate computer networks. The firm also sells the Bear Stearns securities only through an independent broker, meaning BlackRock does not know who the buyers are. The Fed, in addition, has prohibited BlackRock from knowingly buying any of the Fed-controlled assets.

But some remain skeptical that such firewalls really protect taxpayers.

“How can one company have so much control over the process?” said Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington-based non-profit group. “Isn’t there somebody else they can turn to?”

The concerns about BlackRock also extend to its role as an informal adviser. Mr. Fink has been known to call Treasury officials several times a day, Bush and Obama administration officials said, between occasional visits.

Last fall Mr. Fink urged the Fed to take action to unlock the frozen market for short-term lending to companies — a business that BlackRock’s money market mutual funds played a major role in. Investors had withdrawn $48 billion from those BlackRock funds, but once the Fed adopted the policy Mr. Fink was advocating, the money came pouring back.

Mr. Fink said his advice was for the good of the economy, and that his was one of many industry voices calling for such a move.

Still, Mr. Fink has not been shy in boasting about his access. “I mean it is a great seal of approval,” Mr. Fink told Wall Street analysts in December, as he simultaneously coached the Bush administration and the incoming Obama team. “We are asked to help navigate new policy. I’m running out of here to go meet with Treasury to talk about plans later this afternoon.”

But it is clear that the income from fees is a lesser benefit than the buffing of its global reputation, a point Mr. Fink has made. “It gives comfort to our clients that we are being involved in some of the solutions of our economy, and it allows us to show our clients that we are being asked in these difficult situations to provide advice,” he said at the same event.

BlackRock has not been immune to market turmoil, but its stock over the last year has held up better than its peers’. While BlackRock’s share price tumbled 33 percent, Federated Investors shares have lost 34 percent and Legg Mason, 65 percent. BlackRock ended 2008, a disastrous year for Wall Street, with $786 million in profit on $5 billion in revenue.

Some lawmakers remain wary, even though they cannot cite any specific impropriety. “The very nature of what we are asking them to do almost guarantees that it is going to be to the benefit of BlackRock,” said Representative Darrell Issa of California, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “You can have separate pews, but if you go to the same church, it will cross over.”




TWENTY - FIFTH JOKE

Photoshop moment?

What did the  White House Military Director say when eager P.R staff asked "Is it O.K. for Air Force One and a half to buzz New York City?"

1.  No, that is a stupid waste of taxpayers' money ($300,000 plus) *
2.  No, it will remind New Yorkers and everyone else of September 11, 2001.

3.  "Yes, we can!"

--------------------------

*

WHITE HOUSE AIDE RESIGNS OVER FLYOVER FLAP; PHOTOS OF INCIDENT RELEASED
New York Post
Last updated: 4:54 pm
May 8, 2009
Posted: 3:54 pm
May 8, 2009

WASHINGTON -- A top White House aide resigned today for his role in Air Force One's $328,835 photo-op flyover above New York City that sparked panic and flashbacks to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. His resignation was made public at the same time the photo of the flyover was released by the White House.

Louis Caldera said the controversy had made it impossible for him to effectively lead the White House Military Office. "Moreover, it has become a distraction in the important work you are doing as president," Caldera said in his resignation letter to President Barack Obama.

The sight of the huge passenger jet and an F-16 fighter plane flying past the Statue of Liberty and the lower Manhattan financial district sent panicked office workers streaming into the streets on April 27. Obama said it would not happen again.

Caldera's office approved the photo-op, which cost $35,000 in fuel alone for the plane and two jet fighter escorts. The Air Force estimated the photo shoot cost taxpayers $328,835.

White House officials said the flight was designed to update the official photo of the plane, known as Air Force One when the president is aboard. The White House released a photo of the blue-and-white plane high above the Statue of Liberty, with New Jersey in the background.

The White House released the report late Friday afternoon via e-mail, with a short written statement from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. There was no statement about the matter from Obama, who last month declared the embarrassment a "mistake" and vowed it would not be repeated.

Gibbs said Obama has ordered a review of how the White House Military Office is set up, and how it reports to the White House and the Air Force.

That review, to be conducted by Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, will also offer recommendations to Obama designed to ensure that such an incident will not happen again, Gibbs said.

Caldera, a former Army secretary, has headed the office that coordinates presidential travel on Air Force jets.

When Obama appointed Caldera to the job during the presidential transition, the then president-elect hailed Caldera as having a resume that was second-to-none. Obama said then: "I know he'll bring to the White House the same dedication and integrity that have earned him the highest praise in every post."

His resignation takes effect May 22, but he is done at the White House Military Office now - not just as director, but in any part of the office's work. He said he will use the two weeks of his employment to complete the necessary steps to leave the White House.


TWENTY - FOURTH JOKE


Prez:  hamburger with cheddar cheese and Dijon mustard, no ketchup, bottle of water...VP: burger plus ketchup swiss cheese and Jalopeno peppers.
Dr. Margaret Hamburg, new head of Food and Drug Administration, former Director of Health for NYC (a place that has restaurants).

Undercover FDA Inspection?

It was reported on the wire that President Obama and Vice President Biden traveled by motorcade to an independent fast food restaurant to get a hamburger for lunch today.  Inquiring minds would like to know how many good practices avowed by this Administration did they violate?  The answer:  5.
  1. They traveled in the same car
  2. They wasted gasoline
  3. They wasted gas and traveled together across state and municipal borders
  4. The Secret Service sent "a motorcade" to protect them, increasing the cost of the hamburger from  $6.95 plus tax to $25,000
  5. They insulted the White House cook 
Vice President Biden explained that he was only trying to find the protesters who were expelled from the Senate Finance Committee session.*

--------------

*

Protesters Disrupt Senate Health Care Hearing

NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 10:39 a.m. ET
May 5, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Protesters pushing for a government-run health system have been thrown out of a Senate hearing room after disrupting the meeting.

It happened at the start of a Senate Finance Committee session on overhauling the health care system to cover some 50 million uninsured Americans.  Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., has said that a so-called single-payer system -- one that's run by the government -- is not on the table. Many liberals favor that approach but Baucus and others say it's not practical or politically feasible.  Single-payer supporters repeatedly interrupted as Baucus tried to convene Tuesday's hearing.

When one protester shouted ''we want a seat at the table,'' Baucus responded, ''We want police.''

Capitol Police removed eight people.


TWENTY-THIRD JOKE

Anti-UCONN Defense

All the teams in womens' college basketball Division 1 learned how to defeat the UCONN champs after viewing the White House visit and game of "P-I-G" played against President Obama on his half-court behind the White House:

Make them wear formal summer dresses and party shoes on court.



TWENTY-SECOND JOKE

More freedoms lost?

On the third request, the U.S. Navy received permission from the White House to use force against the pirates holding the American ship Captain for ransom ("if his life was in danger").

Now I know why President Obama was hesitant to act.  In his statement of congratulations and best wishes to the family of the Captain, the President wanted to make clear "...we are resolved to halt the rise of privacy in that region."  The Horn of Africa today, New England tomorrow?


TWENTY-FIRST JOKE

CASABLANCA  REDUX?

Perhaps an old movie buff, President Obama obviously admires the line uttered by Claude Rains "round up the usual suspects." The President scolds AIG derivative folks for taking lavish bonus payments for 2008.  With Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner at his side, the President thought to declare that the Internal Revenue Service will be auditing AIG bonus-takers...



TWENTIETH JOKE

How is Bernie Madoff like Barack Obama?

One has a license to print money and the other didn't.



NINETEENTH JOKE

BLOWING IN THE WIND?

Do you think the article below is legit?
------------
Breaking (Bad) News for Ed Profs Ayers and Dohrn
National Review online
[Candace de Russy]
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The following just in from nancy@familysecuritymatters.org (read to the end for word of a new report concerning a "new SDS" on campuses):

In a sensational letter to be released at a March 12 National Press Club news conference, the San Francisco Police Officers Association (SFPOA) tells Cliff Kincaid of America’s Survival, Inc., and FamilySecurityMatters.org contributing editor, that evidence in the 1970 bombing murder of a San Francisco police officer points to Weather Underground members Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, two associates of President Barack Obama. The letter will be made public at a news event that will feature a former FBI informant in the Weather Underground saying that Ayers told him that Dohrn planted the bomb that killed Sergeant Brian V. McDonnell.  The informant, Larry Grathwohl, has testified under oath before the U.S. Senate about the bombing plot.
 
"There are irrefutable and compelling reasons to believe that Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn, members of the terrorist group 'Weather Underground' are largely responsible for the bombing of Park Police Station and other police stations throughout the United States during their 'tour of terror' in the late 1960s and early 1970s," the SFPOA letter states. The SFPOA letter is signed by all five officers of the SFPOA.
 
The SFPOA letter says that while “Sgt. McDonnell was the sole fatality of this heinous and cowardly act," which occurred on February 16, 1970, eight other policemen were seriously injured. "Those responsible for the cold blooded murder...and the injuries to the other officers have never been brought to justice and the case remains open," the letter notes.
 
"The San Francisco Police Officers' Association joins Mr. Cliff Kincaid of America's Survival, Inc. in his valiant and noble effort to urge a renewed effort by the appropriate Law Enforcement Agencies (Local, State, and Federal) to bring this case to a close and bring those responsible for the murder of Sgt. Brian McDonnell and the injuries to the other officers to the justice they have so long eluded."
 
In addition to releasing the letter, Jim Pera, a retired San Francisco Police Officer who was one of the first on the scene after the 1970 bombing, will describe the devastating impact of the blast. In addition, two reports on the Weather Underground will be released. They are "What was the Weather Underground?" by former Congressional investigator Herbert Romerstein, and "From Arms to Education to Political Power — the Return of the SDS and the Weather Underground," by Cliff Kincaid and internationally-renown blogger and researcher Trevor Loudon. The latter examines how members of the Weather Underground have regrouped to form a “new SDS” on college campuses.



EIGHTEENTH JOKE

"OMG, HE'S A LIBERAL DEMOCRAT"

How do you think Barack Obama got elected President?

In a time when the economy was in the tank, the media was heading west, or left, the unaffiliated masses and Republicans who did not want to back a losing candidate and those who had forgotten why we were in Afghanistan and Iraq in the first place ("World Trade Center, 9/11 - what's that?"), were looking for a new President...we elected a smart, left-leaning Chicago Democrat, graduate of Columbia and Harvard Law School, as our leader.

Why is anyone surprised at his view of the State of the Union?

----------------

Obama’s budget facing political obstacles
New Haven Register
Associated Press

Sunday, March 1, 2009 5:51 AM EST

WASHINGTON — Breathtaking in its scope and ambition, President Barack Obama’s agenda for the economy, health care and energy now goes to a Congress unaccustomed to resolving knotty issues and buffeted by powerful interests that oppose parts of his plan.  Perhaps the only things as high as Obama’s goals are the hurdles they must clear.

While tackling the economic crisis, he is asking Congress to enact contentious measures that have been debated, but not decided, in calmer times: cut subsidies for big farms; combat global warming with a pollution tax on industries; raise taxes on the wealthy; make big changes to health care, including lower reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid treatments and prescription drugs.

Standing alone, any one of these proposals would trigger a brawl in Congress and fierce debates outside Washington. Obama wants the proposals done largely in concert, as an interrelated plan to undo major elements of Ronald Reagan’s conservative movement.  Obama outlined the approach in a budget proposal Thursday, a sprawling road map that will require several hard-fought pieces of legislation.

He launched his campaign for the package Saturday with a fiery, populist radio and Internet address that depicted his critics as champions of “the interests of powerful lobbyists” and “the wealthiest few.”

“I realize that passing this budget won’t be easy,” the president said, because it “represents a threat to the status quo in Washington.”

“They’re gearing up for a fight,” he said. “So am I.”

If his rhetoric was tough, the challenges he faces are downright daunting. The economy contracted by a stunning 6.2 percent in the final three months of 2008, its worst showing in a quarter-century. Obama says the crisis calls for gutsy actions, and many groups feel he has delivered.  Obama is not simply proposing a budget that assumes a jaw-dropping deficit of $1.75 trillion this year, a quadruple increase from the year before. He’s trying to redirect strong currents in American society.

The wealthiest 5 percent would pay a whopping $1 trillion in higher taxes over the next decade, while most others would get tax cuts. Industries would buy and trade permits to emit heat-trapping gases. Higher-income older people would pay more for Medicare benefits. Drug companies would receive smaller profits from the government. Banks would play a much smaller role in student loans.

Obama’s climb is steep. Even with solid Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, he secured a $787 billion stimulus package only after accepting compromises that irked liberals but won the support of three Republican senators.

Not a single House Republican backed it. Judging from House GOP leaders’ immediate condemnation of his budget blueprint, Obama can expect more of the same.  More troubling for him, however, are the divisions quickly emerging among Democratic, liberal and centrist constituencies that either backed the stimulus or stayed on the sidelines.  Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the House Agriculture Committee chairman, criticized Obama’s plan to cut direct payments to farms with sales exceeding $500,000 a year.

Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, one of the stimulus bill’s three Republican backers, said it is hard to see how Obama can meet his new deficit-reduction targets. He called Obama’s chief energy proposal “entirely speculative” and urged the president “to forgo the tax increases” in the plan.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which also backed the stimulus bill, said Obama’s budget blueprint “appears to move in exactly the wrong direction. More taxes, heavy-handed regulations, and command-and-control government will not hasten recovery. . . . You don’t build a house by blowing up its foundation.”

“Class warfare” is how Republicans label his plan to raise taxes, starting in 2011, on households making more than $250,000 a year.

Some liberal-leaning foundations are unhappy about his proposed reduction in the tax deductibility of gifts to charity from wealthy people.

On health care, Obama wants to cut payments for Medicare and Medicaid, the government programs for the elderly, disabled and poor.

On energy, Obama wants to reduce greenhouse gases and raise money for clean-fuel technologies, such as solar and wind power, by auctioning off carbon pollution permits. The proposal, known as cap and trade, will lead to a bruising fight in Congress, which may be divided more by region than party.

William Kovacs, who oversees regulatory affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says Obama is pushing too fast for such a dramatic policy change.

“Any support that there was for cap and trade from the business community,” he said, was based on the assumption of “a long-term transition.”


SEVENTEENTH JOKE

FROM ACROSS THE POND (quotes from I-BBC Washington report)

Barack Obama is having more trouble picking a cabinet than the New York Knicks a starting line up.

"The president came to power with a powerful promise of change and a pledge to end the old politics while ushering in a new era of political integrity.  There was to be political and racial diversity too, but it has not quite worked out as planned."

"Nominees have already fallen like flies. Out has gone his first choice of commerce secretary, the New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, who is facing an investigation into his links with big business. The president's pick for health secretary, Tom Daschle, has had to pull out too after failing to keep up with his taxes."

"The same problem befell Nancy Killefer, earmarked for the job of chief government performance officer. The president wanted Tim Geithner for treasury secretary, and did get his man despite having found another who has been embarrassed by tax issues."

"...But now there's the case of Judd Gregg, whose sudden departure is rather different from the rest. To misquote Oscar Wilde: to lose one may seem unfortunate but to lose four looks more like carelessness."



SIXTEENTH JOKE

BLOW DRY PRESIDENCY

President Obama may have had a brainstorm. 

How to positively affect the greatest number of Americans in the shortest period of time?  How to heat up the economy?  No problem.

Go with something you know.

See article below about executive order on small kitchen appliances.

And another...

--------------------


CAPTION:  "I wonder if I look like George W. Bush on September 11 - in this case, reading to kids while the economy melts down?"

Obama Ordering Energy-Efficient Standards
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 1:03 p.m. ET

February 5, 2009


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Eager to show action on the energy front, President Barack Obama ordered his government on Thursday to establish higher efficiency standards for everyday household appliances such as dishwashers, lamps and microwave ovens.

''This will save consumers money, this will spur innovation, and this will conserve tremendous amounts of energy,'' Obama declared during a visit to the Energy Department, where he touted his economic jobs plan.

Obama announced he had signed a presidential memorandum directing the Energy Department to get moving on energy standards for appliances, including a first batch he will order to be finalized by August. The fact that Obama is getting directly involved in speeding up household appliance standards underscores how much he wants to show quick, clear progress on energy -- part of a broader campaign promise to deal with economic and energy concerns all at once.

Laws on the books already require new efficiency standards for household and commercial appliances. But they have been backlogged in a tangle of missed deadlines, bureaucratic disputes and litigation. In essence, Obama's intent is to say that legal deadlines must be met, with priority being given to those standards that are likely to yield the best pocketbook savings for consumers.

Obama's memorandum orders final rules to be in place by August that require energy-efficiency standards for a series of products: residential dishwashers, lamps, ranges and ovens, microwave ovens, commercial air conditioning equipment, commercial boilers and beverage vending machines.

His directive also asks the Energy Department to meet all deadlines in setting energy standards but to evaluate them in priority order and finish some ahead of schedule.

So far in his presidency, Obama also has taken a major step toward letting California and other states target greenhouse gases through more stringent auto emission standards. And he has also ordered new federal rules directing automakers to start making more fuel-efficient cars as required by law.


FIFTEENTH JOKE

“We were just tired of being in the White House,” Mr. Obama told second graders at Capital City Public Charter School.

Was this a...

1) joke
2) the truth or...
3) through his visit, giving a plug to the Charter School movement?


FOURTEENTH JOKE

ETHICS:   IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, NO PUN INTENDED?

Everyone was delighted to hear that this new administration would be transparent and above reproach, like Caeser's wife.  Who is the worst offender proposed for the Cabinet or reported to be, by the same administration that promulgated this new ethics code?  Which have been approved by the Senate?  Who withdrew?

1)  Tom Daschle

2)  Bill Richardson

3)  Hillary Clinton

4)  Eric Holder

5)  Tim Geithner

6)   Other names not mentioned by the administration




Headlines can be deceiving department:  That was a quick four years!!!

White House: Obama to Return to Illinois
NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 2:50 p.m. ET
February 2, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Barack Obama is heading back to his home state for the first time as president.

The White House says he will travel to Springfield, Ill., on Feb. 12 in honor of one of his heroes, Abraham Lincoln.

Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday that Obama will attend the commemoration of Lincoln's 200th birthday and speak at a banquet in Springfield. The spokesman says Obama is returning to Illinois for the festivities at the request of Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.


Outlaws at the Art Museum (and Not for a Heist)
NYTIMES
By RANDY KENNEDY
January 25, 2009

In 2005, the British artist Banksy — then on the verge of becoming probably the world’s most famous street artist — walked into the Museum of Modern Art and three other New York museums done up in a beige raincoat and fake beard, looking more like a subway flasher than a “quality vandal,” as he called himself. Once inside he furtively mounted his own work among the masterpieces, relying on speed and two-sided tape rather than curatorial consent as his way into the collections, at least until guards noticed.

“These galleries are just trophy cabinets for a handful of millionaires,” he wrote later in an e-mail message to a reporter, explaining his dim view of museums and his desire to see his work inside one purely to poke fun at the whole idea. “The public never has any real say in what art they see.”

But as it turns out, there is more than one way into a museum for street art, the catchall term now used to describe a global explosion of public imagery that began with graffiti in the 1970s and has morphed into dozens of wildly different forms, generally united only by their illegal exhibition on public and private property. On Tuesday, as Barack Obama was being sworn into office, his portrait by the street artist Shepard Fairey — reproduced endlessly during the campaign until it became the defining image of the future president (it towered over a stage at one of the inaugural balls) — was on view at the National Portrait Gallery. A collaged poster of it had just entered the collection along with portraits by artists like Gilbert Stuart (George Washington), Norman Rockwell (Richard Nixon) and Elaine de Kooning (John Kennedy).

It is not Mr. Fairey’s maiden voyage into the museum world; a survey of his work opens next month at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and he is in a few other collections. But the portrait gallery’s decision is arguably the establishment’s most public embrace of a quintessentially anti-establishment brand of art. So it has been hailed by street-art fans as a significant moment, the fine-art world beginning to find a way to recognize a movement that has been growing apace for more than a decade, propelled by a generation of artists who grew up with graffiti and now make work on the streets with materials as varied (and sometimes as ephemeral) as paper, plastic, tape, snow, rubber bands and knitted wool.

And there’s some evidence the recognition is happening. The Tate Modern in London devoted a big show to street art last year, letting artists plaster its facade with the kind of work usually plastered illicitly all around its Southwark neighborhood. Other big street names are also starting to pop up in museum collections, like Swoon, whose ghostly, papery work has been bought by the Museum of Modern Art.

But the Shepard Fairey moment may be less significant for what it says about how museums view street artists than for how those artists have come to view museums — how for many younger artists, street and otherwise, museum enshrinement no longer represents the kind of end zone it did for many who came before, even those like Keith Haring who began with street art and deep misgivings about the establishment.

In interviews, Mr. Fairey, 38, has stressed how honored he is to be in the National Portrait Gallery, part of the Smithsonian Institution and about as American as a museum can be. He has also stressed that he doesn’t see it as a place in a hierarchy but instead on a kind of continuum, right alongside the work he creates with the police on his trail or album covers for bands or work commissioned by huge companies like Dewar’s or Saks Fifth Avenue (in the latter case, recently, militaristic Rodchenko-esque shopping bags that scream “Want It!”).

His view has a parallel these days in the world of digital and video art, where distinctions between museums and galleries and Web vehicles like YouTube are blurring for younger artists — why not try to have it in both places if you can and why does it matter so much which comes first?

One thing they’re doing is simply adhering to an old graffiti work ethic: get your work up anywhere, everywhere, any way you can, as long as you don’t get caught. There’s nothing wrong with getting it into a museum, as some street artists like Banksy might contend, but a museum is also just one among many good places to get your work seen, in Mr. Fairey’s estimation.

“It’s not the audience and the forum that they crave in the way that somebody in an earlier generation might have,” said Carlo McCormick, the New York art critic, of museumgoers and museums. “Shepard has a very predatory gaze,” said Mr. McCormick, who has followed his work and contributed an essay to a 2006 book about it. “If he comes to a town he’s looking at it like a criminal. He’s casing the place and figuring out where he can get his stuff up. And who he really cares about reaching and the ways he cares about reaching them have remained remarkably consistent.”

Carolyn Carr, the portrait gallery’s chief curator, said that the poster acquired by the museum — a 60-by-40-inch mixed-media collage that Mr. Fairey created after making the initial image — was a beautiful work of art. But she added that “one of the reasons the gallery acquired it is that the image — as opposed to the object — is ubiquitous and it became the image of the campaign.”

“There’s no question that it has lasting resonance,” she said.

For a street artist — who, like many, exults in the essential slipperiness of outlaw work — it’s undoubtedly all the more gratifying when you finally make it into a big museum to do so by such epically serpentine means: an oft-arrested political street artist who’s also a highly paid commercial artist offers on his own initiative to make a vaguely Soviet-looking poster for the campaign of an anti-establishment politician (who, interestingly, can’t officially claim the poster because of rights concerns about the news photograph it was based on, snagged by the artist from the Web) and then the politician, surprisingly, sweeps into the establishment with vows to shake it up, taking the outlaw’s non-outlaw poster into the establishment with him.

It’s more than most street artists can hope for, but one of them will probably find a way to top it.

“I’m a populist,” Mr. Fairey said in an interview with a portrait gallery curator. “I’m trying to reach as many people as possible.”

“I love the concept in fine art of making a masterpiece, something that will endure,” he said, adding that he understood, too, how unlikely that is for anyone. “But I also understand how short the attention span of most consumers is and that you really need to work with the metabolism of consumer culture a lot of the time to make something relevant within the zeitgeist.”

Or as he put it more simply, stealing a metaphor from the medium: “It’s not necessary to paint yourself into a corner with categories.”


THIRTEENTH JOKE

BAD LUCK

According to AP, reporting on the OPRAH WINFREY SHOW, Vice-President-to-be Biden had been offered his choice of jobs--Secretary of State or Veep - and he chose to stay in Washington closer to home, according to his wife, Dr. Jill.

This is the 13th joke, which is why we entitled it "Bad Luck."  Really!


FROM THE NYTIMES...TWO JOKES

#1 - A priest, a minister and a rabbi walk into a bar and the bartender says: What is this, some kind of a joke?

#2 - Two guys are walking their dogs. One has a big German Shepherd, the other a tiny Chihuahua. They pass by a very fancy restaurant and the guy with the Shepherd suggests they stop in for a drink. “They’re not going to let us in with the dogs,” the man with the Chihuahua says. Just do what I do, his friend assures him. The guy with the Shepherd walks in first and the maitre d’ stops him. “We don’t allow animals in here, sir. Sorry.” This is a seeing-eye dog, the man says. The maitre d’ apologizes and the man with Shepherd sits at the bar. Then the man with Chihuahua comes in.

“We don’t allow pets in here,” says the maitre d’.

“This is a seeing-eye dog,” says the man with the Chihuahua.

“That’s not a seeing-eye dog, that’s a Chihuahua.”

And the man says: “They gave me a Chihuahua?”


TWELFTH JOKE

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE NEW OBAMA TWO - CHINA POLICY?

The joke in the 1960's was "what do you think of Red China?"  The answer, in suburban circles, was allegedly, "it goes great with a green table cloth."  

Inflation and high expectations brings a free gift ($2,500 value) of Lenox Crystal to the President and Vice President.  We hope they use their bowls wisely.

Here in the 21st century, "Yes we can" means accepting gifts from Congress - the new President will receive a crystal ball from Congress after he is Inaugurated!

In a related matter:

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT
When is a gift not a gift?  When it is two "free" Lenox Crystal bowls from Congress - or was that crystal balls?



--------------------------
Obama's First Gift as President to Be Crystal Bowl

NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 9:28 a.m. ET

January 9, 2009


WASHINGTON (AP) -- To Barack Obama, from Congress on behalf of the American people: One hand-cut, crystal bowl with an etching of his new home in Washington.

The president-elect will receive the present at a luncheon with members of Congress after the inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20.

The $2,500 one-of-a-kind bowl weighs nearly 8 pounds and shows an image of the White House, with cherry trees on each side. As the bowl is rotated, the president's residence can be seen through the trees.

Congress commissioned the bowl from Lenox, Inc., which donated it as a gift, a favor permissible under a congressional resolution.

Joe Biden will receive a similar crystal bowl when he becomes vice president, only his will have an image of the Capitol, with blooming cherry trees.

The gifts took thousands of hours to make and were designed by glass cutter Timothy Carder using a combination of etching and hand cutting. It is 5 1/2 inches high and 9 inches in diameter and sits on a hand-cut base made of optical crystal engraved with Obama's name and the date of his inauguration.

''The inauguration of a new president is one of the most solemn and ceremonial moments in our nation's history,'' said Senator Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. ''Lenox, a great American porcelain company, has once again created a beautiful gift that captures the beauty and dignity of this truly special occasion.''

The company also created the inaugural gifts for former presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.


Holy dictionary, Batman, these guys can make an open window opaque!  And how about the threatened federal action to bring back the Polaroid camera!!!  Two steps foreward, one step back, cha-cha-cha!

Sen. Daschle calls for “paradigm shift” during confirmation hearing
OBAMA website
Thursday, January 8, 2009 12:55pm EST / Posted by Dan McSwain

Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Tom Daschle appeared before a Senate confirmation hearing this morning and called for bold changes in the way Americans and their government think about health care.

“I think we need to change the paradigm in this country on health,” Secretary-designate Daschle said. “It starts with that big picture belief. The paradigm needs be changed from illness to wellness.”

Sen. Daschle advocated new approaches to the problems facing American families, noting that his charge in leading HHS will require working across governmental lines to fix ailing health care systems.

He noted the importance of “breaking down stovepipes so that the inter-relationship between these agencies can do a better job of coordinating this effort.”

When rural health care issues were raised, Sec. Daschle spoke passionately about solutions to the unique problems many communities face.  He emphasized the need for expanded broadband Internet access to facilitate a modernized health care information technology system.  President-elect Obama has repeatedly stressed the vital role of increased broadband penetration in improving the quality of a variety services across America, including health care.

We’ll have more on Secretary-designate Daschle and his Transition health care team coming up soon.


Obama Team Urges Delay in Digital TV Transition

NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 2:51 p.m. ET

January 8, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President-elect Barack Obama is urging Congress to postpone the Feb. 17 switch from analog to digital television broadcasting.

In a letter to key lawmakers, transition team co-chair John Podesta warned Thursday that too many Americans who rely on analog TV sets to pick up over-the-air broadcasts won't be ready.

The incoming administration is pushing for a delay in part because the Commerce Department has run out of money for the coupons that subsidize digital TV converter boxes for consumers. People who don't have cable or satellite TV or a new TV with a digital tuner will need the converter boxes to keep their analog TVs working.

Obama officials are also concerned that the government is not giving consumers enough help with the TV transition.



Obama’s Media Cabinet

NYTIMES
By Mark Leibovich

January 7, 2009, 10:40 am

Reports that President-elect Barack Obama had approached CNN’s medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, to be the next Surgeon General inspired a parlor game among people who have too much free time (a k a media types): What if Mr. Obama were to assemble his administration entirely from TV experts? Scary thought, granted, but what the heck: here are our nominees from among the best and brightest of the boob tube:

Interior Secretary: Martha Stewart
Labor: Tony Soprano
Treasury: Jim Cramer
Agriculture: Mr. Ed (”The Talking Horse”)
Veterans Affairs: Tom Brokaw
Transportation: “Click and Clack” (token radio slot)
Drug Czar(s): “Cheech and Chong” (token movie slot)
State: Amy Poehler
Attorney General: Nancy Grace
Health and Human Services: Jared (from Subway ads)
Education: Mr. Woodman (“Welcome Back Kotter”)
Energy: Mr. C. Montgomery Burns (owner, Springfield Nuclear Power Plant)
EPA: Woodsy Owl (from 70s “Give a hoot – don’t pollute” PSAs)
Trade Representative: Howie Mandel (host, “Deal or No Deal”)
HUD: Kevin O’Connor (host, “This Old House”)
National Security Adviser: Mika Brzezinski (”Morning Joe”)
Defense: John Madden
Homeland Security: Jerry Springer’s bouncers (I.N.S.: Lou Dobbs)
U.N. Ambassador: Bill O’Reilly
Commerce: Suze Orman
O.M.B.: Canceled
Spokesman: Bill Moyers


ORIGINAL POEM

The first.

I wanted change to come in a dress.

Maybe Hillary, or Sarah, a way to clear the slate.

But now we know who we are, having elected Obama.

Not rednecks,
newly smart and hip, one nation again.

Glass ceiling intact.



ELEVENTH JOKE

SIGNS

There were signs that the nation was is trouble. 

First, the economy behaved in the last quarter just the way it did after September 11, 2001*.

Second, everyone was surprised that  greed (remember the "greed is good" line from a Michael Douglas movie?) in real life could also go with criminality.

Third, the new Cabinet has an Ivy-League look.  Last time it was so smart we invaded Cuba and got into trouble in Vietnam.

Plus, President Obama tees up from the other side of the  ball, and his drives slice to the left**!

-------------------
*G.D.P. Unrevised for Third Quarter
By REUTERS
December 24, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The economy shrank at a 0.5 percent annual pace in the third quarter, as expected, after consumers and businesses cut spending and the country’s recession gathered steam, government data showed on Tuesday.

The economy entered a recession last December and many economists think this deepened after the failure of the investment bank Lehman Brothers in September, which froze credit and sent households and companies into a defensive crouch.

The Commerce Department, in its final revision, said the decline in gross domestic product in the third quarter versus the previous three months was the steepest since the third quarter of 2001, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted the report would show G.D.P. declined by an unrevised 0.5 percent in the third quarter.

Consumer spending shrank by 3.8 percent for the sharpest pull-back since 1980, when a global oil crisis tipped the economy towards a prolonged slowdown, while investment in equipment and software slumped 7.5 percent for the largest decline since early 2002.

** from the NYTIMES:


TENTH JOKE

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE INAUGURATION PROGRAM?

The only thing that all of the runup to Barack Hussein Obama's inauguration seems to be missing is...select from this list:

1.  A crossing of the Delaware by boat;

2.  Relocating the Statue of Liberty to D.C. for the events;

3.  The Rolling Stones performing "...Satisfaction"  (Aretha is going to sing "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" - the other meaningful song with similar lyrics).


NINTH JOKE

DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT THE "GOVERNORS' WING" AT AN ILLINOIS PRISON? 

Not to be outdone, Mayor Bloomberg of New York offered sections of Staten Island for a tri-state regional prison for convicted public employees and elected officials.  This residence would be known as the "Fresh Kills Political Swamp" and be open to private sector offenders where their misdeeds involved corrupting government officials.

Why is this not funny?

1.  Because it is a good idea for reuse of dumps.

2.  Because it is an example of Regional Cooperation.

3.  Because it would require too many different disciplines to cooperate (i.e. environmental, corrections, etc.), and that is sad.



INTERNET JOKE

Lawrence Livermore Laboratories has discovered the heaviest element yet known to science.

The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from 4 days to 4 years to complete.
Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2- 6 years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of morons promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

When catalysed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

EIGHTH JOKE

NOT A TRICK QUESTION

How many economists does it take to figure out how to get us out of this present economic mess? 

1.  As many as it takes to make the right decisions.

2.  A team consisting of:  one who can communicate in multiple languages, one who's made the wrong decisions before (so he won't make the same ones again) and one who is too young to have grandparents who lived through the Great Depression.

3. One lucky one.




LUCKY SEVENTH JOKE

SNL

How will "Saturday Night Live" manage to make any jokes between 2009 and the end of President Obama's first term?

By concentration on international affairs and the Department of State.  Or if Al Frankin doesn't win his U.S. Senate contest, adding him to the cast!



SIXTH JOKE

CHICKEN

How is a GAME of chicken different from BEING chicken?

One involves a contest of wills and really reckless behavior.  The actual "game" of chicken is most commonly illustrated by two automobiles driving toward one another, the "chicken" being the one that turns away first.  The other is what politicians, such as Congressional Majority leaders, do when they don't have the votes.


FIFTH JOKE

JUSTICE

So why did the Democrats not punish Senator Lieberman in Congress?

1.  They rewarded him for turning the other cheek on CT Dems during re-election fiasco...

2.  Nothing he had said wasn't true.

3.  They are learning Chicago-style politics ("Fageddaboutit")



FOURTH JOKE

ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION

Did you hear about the new political party forming?  There is a contest for selection of a Party mascot - here are the popular choices so far:

1.  Monk Parakeet - persistence and understanding of high tech and the Internet - also known as the Greenstuff Party. 

2.  Polar Bear - all the characteristics that Governor Palin had and the addition of one more - mess with this Party and you get eaten!  Party colors - white on white.

3.  Husky - Woof, Woof! 



THIRD JOKE

NEW RULES NEW PRESIDENT

1.  Silence and a bemused smile or no answer to a question such as "You agree with me, right?" does not mean "yes."

2.  "Rogue states" in the new administration means Sarah Palin.

3.  The new administration will deal with Poland and the rest of the world as the First Family-to-be will with their daughters' new puppy, using the New York Times editorial page for back up.


SECOND JOKE

HOW FAST?  IS THIS WHAT THE PRESS CALLED FLIP-FLOP* DURING THE CAMPAIGN?

Question:  How long did it take until President-Elect Obama had to: retract or have staff retract something he stated to either 1)the press  or  2)a foreign government leader?

Answer:  1)one day  and  2)not yet - claims he didn't say it in the first place (Saturday at 11:36am, 2:18pm...)

-------

*
Kremlin: Medvedev, Obama Say Need to Meet Soon
NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: November 8, 2008
Filed at 2:18 p.m. ET

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Kremlin said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had agreed with U.S. President-elect Barack Obama in a telephone call Saturday that they need to meet soon.

Medvedev congratulated Obama on his election win, and the two agreed on a need to work on Russia-U.S. ties, a Kremlin statement said. Several issues have tested relations between Moscow and Washington, including NATO's possible eastward expansion and U.S. plans for placing components of a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Moscow has strongly objected to the missile-defense plans, and on Wednesday -- a day after Obama's election -- Medvedev announced he would respond by stationing short-range missiles in Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, on the doorstep of Poland and Czech Republic.

Obama's plans remain unclear regarding the defense system, the deals for which were brokered under U.S. President George W. Bush.

The Kremlin statement said Obama and Medvedev agreed in their phone call Saturday ''to create constructive and positive interaction for the good of global stability and development.''

It said they spoke of ''the priority of the nature of relations of Russia and the USA ... the positive development of which is principally important not only for the people of both countries, but for the international community as a whole.''

Obama and Medvedev also agreed their countries have a common responsibility to address ''serious problems of a global nature,'' and so should schedule an ''early bilateral meeting'' to address them, the statement said. A Kremlin spokesman, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, declined to elaborate or say when such a meeting could take place.

It is unlikely to be at next week's G-20 world summit in Washington, which Obama's representatives said he would not attend. It is not known if Medvedev will be there or if he will send another representative for Russia.

Obama takes over from Bush on Jan. 20.

An Obama aide said Saturday that, during a recent conversation with Polish President Lech Kaczynski, Obama did not commit to the missile-defense plans, contradicting earlier claims by Kaczynski.

Washington has said that the missile-defense system poses no threat to Russia and is meant to protect Europe from possible attacks from the Middle East.


-----------------

Obama Backs Shield Only if Technology Proven: Aide

NYTIMES
By REUTERS
Published: November 8, 2008
Filed at 11:36 a.m. ET

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland said on Saturday U.S. President-elect Barack Obama had declared he would continue with a missile shield project in eastern Europe, but an Obama aide in Washington said he had given no commitment to deploy the system.

Poland and the neighboring Czech Republic have agreed to host elements of the U.S. defense network, designed to protect against missile attacks by what Washington calls "rogue states."

Russia, which has opposed the scheme, announced on Friday plans to install its own missile defenses in its westernmost outpost of Kaliningrad as a counter-measure.

A statement on the Polish presidential website, issued after a telephone conversation between Obama and Polish President Lech Kaczynski on Friday, said:

"He (Obama) stated that the anti-missile-shield project would be continued."

But a senior Obama foreign-policy adviser qualified what the president-elect had been reported as saying in his talk with the Polish president.

"President Kaczynski raised missile defense, but President-elect Obama made no commitment on it," Dennis McDonough told Reuters.

"His position is as it was throughout the campaign -- that he supports deploying a missile defense system when the technology is proved to be workable," the adviser added.

According to Kaczynski's official presidential website, "during the conversation, Barack Obama emphasized the importance of the partnership between Poland and the United States and expressed the hope that political and military cooperation would continue."

Some Polish politicians have expressed fears that a Democratic Obama presidency might be less enthusiastic toward the plan launched by President George W. Bush.


President Jimmy Carter’s Carnal Mistake
by the mag - August 4, 2008 - 4:30 AM

In December 1977, President Jimmy Carter planned a trip to Poland, a country whose masses were, at the time, still fiercely huddled behind the Iron Curtain.

What Should Have Happened: Your average, boring-yet-passively-hostile Cold War-era visit. Carter would fly in, say a few carefully chosen words implying that maybe Poland should pay more attention to human rights, which the Poles would then slyly dismiss. Then everybody would go have a big dinner and a few shots of vodka before hitting their heavily bugged hotel rooms. No big deal.

What Happened Instead: A diplomatic snafu famous for being simultaneously politically offensive and hilarious. The problem stemmed from Carter’s Polish translator, Steven Seymour, a freelance linguist who was hired by the State Department for $150 a day. Although an accomplished and respected translator of written Polish, Seymour turned out to be less-than-apt with the spoken word. During his speech, Carter said he’d come to learn about the Polish people’s desires for the future—meaning their political and economic desires.

During the translation, however, Seymour used a word that suggested the president was instead interested in the Poles’ carnal lusts.

And for a second round of humiliation, when Carter later mentioned leaving for his journey back to the United States, Seymour translated it to mean Carter had abandoned America forever. Having thoroughly confused the Poles (and creeping them out in the process), Seymour further sullied his translation with Russian words—a big no-no in a country with a long history of anti-Russian cultural antagonism. Not surprisingly, he was soon replaced.


FIRST JOKE

Question #1:  How many people can you offend at one news conference?
Answer:  As many as you'd like if you are protected by the media...until the campaign is over.

Question #2:  How long can the media keep on making fun of Governor Palin?
Answer:  until she completes her doctorate in physics from Cal Tech...



BEFORE NOVEMBER 4, 2008
CARTOONS, VIDEO AND JOKES: 
NEW SERIES DEVELOPED FOR THE CAMPAIGN

We see a three tier campaign:  on Television and Radio (reportage, advertising and debates), in Print (reportage and editorials) and...on the Internet (blogs, YouTube and e-mail).  Which do you think will ultimately influence the election most?  Professional comedians, cartoonists or..."About Town" amateur jokes?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


LATE NIGHT COMEDIANS FLUNK ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION
Those too young to watch late night TV (Piper low-fives Mom) and those too old to stay up late, hail Governor Palin ("Miss Congeniality" at Miss Alaska contest, 1984), on her return.


I don't watch "SNL" anymore, since former Weston resident left the cast.

Late-night comedians target Palin
Daily News wires services
Published: September 10th, 2008 01:14 AM
Last Modified: September 10th, 2008 09:45 AM

Late-night comedians have long preyed on politics for their jokes. Now they have Alaska's Gov. Sarah Palin in their sights. Here's a sample of their recent barbs:

DAVID LETTERMAN

It's Fashion Week here in New York City. Everyone's got fashion fever; in fact, the Statue of Liberty, earlier today, was wearing some of those hip Sarah Palin glasses.

Everyone's out campaigning. Sen. McCain and Sarah Palin were in New Mexico. They were having lunch at a diner. I thought this was so sweet. She was there cutting his meat for him.

Whoa, man, I like that Sarah Palin looks like the weekend anchor on Channel 9. She looks like the hygienist who makes you feel guilty about not flossing. She looks like the relieved mom in a Tide commercial.

But we're learning more and more about Sarah Palin. Boy, are we! And listen to this. It turns out that she and her entire family once had a chair-throwing brawl on Jerry Springer.

And you've got to love this. Sarah Palin is an avid hunter. A vice president who likes guns -- Well, what could go wrong there?


JAY LENO

I guess there are some problems with Palin, though. Have you heard about this "Troopergate" scandal? Palin allegedly ... used her power as governor to pressure officials to fire her former brother-in-law from his state trooper job. Now, maybe I'm wrong, but wasn't that an episode of "Dukes of Hazzard?"

Actually, some Republicans are not that thrilled with the speech. In fact, the rumor is Sarah Palin is thinking of dropping him from the ticket. You've got to admit, Sarah Palin really has energized the Republican base. See, Sarah Palin can do what John McCain can't do -- send an e-mail.

You know, when Governor Palin was giving her speech the other night, the teleprompter broke and she had to keep going from memory. That happened to Joe Biden once, but with him, he talked so long, the teleprompter shot itself.

Well, here's a little known fact from the Republican convention. This is kind of interesting. You know the confetti they dropped at the end? That was made from the actual Constitution of the United States.

Well, the ratings are in, and it seems 40 million people watched Sarah Palin's speech, and 40 million people watched Barack Obama's speech. So, the message is pretty clear. Barack Obama needs to run with Sarah Palin.

Barack Obama said he was not bothered by Sarah Palin's scathing comments about him. He said he's been called worse things on the basketball court, although nothing compared to what they called him at the bowling alley.


BILL MAHER

When they were vetting her for this job, like three seconds ago, she said, quote, I'm not making this up, "What is it exactly that the VP does every day?" Let me field that for you, Sarah. They start wars, they enrich their friends, they subvert the Constitution, and they shoot people in the face. That's what the vice president does.

John McCain's V.P. pick is the governor of Alaska, an unknown hockey mom named Sarah Palin that no one ever heard of. The only other job she had in politics was the mayor of a small town known as Wasilla, Alaska, and now she has the opportunity to be on a ticket opposite of Barack Obama, the first black man she's ever seen.

I think this is pertinent because McCain has been running this campaign based on "We're at war, it's a dangerous world out there. The Democrats don't get that. I, John McCain, am the only one standing between the bloodthirsty al-Qaidas and you. But if I die, this stewardess can handle it."

Are you kidding me, the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska? Yeah, that's who you want in the White House during a time of crisis. When she got a phone call at 3 in the morning, it was because a moose had gotten in the garbage can.

The McCain people believe that Americans will disregard her inexperience because they will fall in love with her story. She was a runner up in the 1984 Miss Alaska Pageant., which may sound trite, but you try walking in high-heeled snow shoes.


JIMMY KIMMEL

She's not bad-looking. She looks like one of those women in the Van Halen videos who takes off her glasses, shakes out her hair, and then all of a sudden, she's in high heels and a bikini. All of a sudden, I am FOR drilling in Alaska.

Cindy McCain appeared at the Republican National Convention, and Vanity Fair took a look at an outfit she wore. The magazine priced it out at around $300,000. With that kind of money, you could buy an 11th house.

Should we be nervous about a man who preaches against wasteful spending when his wife is wearing $300,000?

If Cindy McCain were a plane, Sarah Palin would sell her on eBay.


JON STEWART

"She does know about international relations because she is right up there in Alaska, right next-door to Russia." -- Fox News' Steve Doocy When you think about it, Alaska is near the North Pole, so she must also be friends with Santa.


CONAN O'BRIEN

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is out on the campaign trail, and today she attended a rally in Wisconsin. The Alaska governor said she was thrilled to visit Wisconsin, because she's never been to the Deep South.

Oprah Winfrey is in the middle of a scandal today, because she is refusing to have Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin on her show. The friction started because Palin said if she was elected she'd be the most powerful woman in the country, and Oprah said, "The hell you will."




FOUR MONTHS PLUS IN...




TWO MONTHS IN...


ACTUALLY, DEMOCRATS (WHO FORGOT WHO LOOSENED THE RULES FOR HONOR-SYSTEM CREDIT) THINK THIS IS ACTUALLY A NON-PARTISAN STATEMENT.



WE WANT TO SEE EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE PAINTING!

Website note:  the cartoon above is a professsional one, that we admired!
Mix the three "primary colors" in order to get any other color (red, blue and yellow are the three primary colors--video palette replaces yellow with green--"RGB").




#21 - O.M.G. did you hear what the Republicans are spreading now?  Some call it the truth!

A fowl remark from top legislator in the Republican pecking order in Congress.  Next thing they'll be saying Obama nation wants to take in all the infected chicks from  China...and hey, how about the contaminated soil, too?

House GOP Leader Uses Expletive to Describe Obama
NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: November 1, 2008
Filed at 1:11 p.m. ET

OXFORD, Ohio (AP) -- House Republican leader John Boehner has used a vulgar expression to refer to Democrat Barack Obama and his voting record in the Illinois legislature.

While campaigning for Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Wednesday, Boehner told a small crowd at a bar in Oxford that failing to vote ''yes'' or ''no'' on an issue meant a lawmaker was a ''chickens---,''

The Ohio congressman said the last thing the country needs is to have a ''chicken'' in the White House. The comments, first reported in the Miami University of Ohio's student newspaper, alluded to Obama's record of voting ''present'' 129 times as a state lawmaker.

Boehner spokesman Jessica Twohey confirmed the comments on Saturday.


#20 - The party's over...

Every poll declares a win for Obama come November 4.  Almost every newspaper endorses Obama.  So why bother to vote?


#19 - Consider the source, but...combined with Senator Biden's prediction of a "test" of our new President (below), it is deja vu all over again for those of us who were around in 1962!

Fake Donors, Phony Pledge: On campaign finance, Obama declared independence from his promises.
National Review
By David Freddoso
October 22, 2008

Starting in June, Barack Obama’s website stopped asking for donations. Instead, it began asking for citizens who would “declare their independence from a broken system by supporting the first presidential election truly funded by the people.”

Perhaps the campaign did not expect that among those “declaring their independence would be donors named “Doodad Pro,” “Derty Poiiuy,” and “Jgtj Jfggjjfgj.” (And you thought Barack Obama had a funny name.) They may not have known that at least four Missourians and one Virginian would declare their independence involuntarily and later find fraudulent donations to Obama’s campaign on their credit card statements. The Obama campaign cannot claim ignorance of “Good Will,” whose address is the Goodwill headquarters in Austin, and whose occupation is “Loving You.” The Goodwill office received a letter from Obama last month indicating that Mr. Will had exceeded the legal limit with his $7,000 in contributions, and asking whether part of the money could be directed to Obama’s general election campaign.
 
Such abuse of the system may just be the inevitable consequence of a political system driven by massive amounts of money — or at least, that’s what Barack Obama used to say, before he figured out how to use that system to his advantage.

Reporters now note dryly that Barack Obama promised to take public matching funds for the presidential election, which would have limited the amount he could spend, and that he then reneged on his promise in June. This narrative understates the case.

Obama actually went much farther than merely giving his word that he would accept matching funds. In February of 2007, he challenged all of the Republican candidates for president to pledge, along with him, that they would take matching funds. It was supposed to be a rare display of political courage on his part, for the sake of principles he believed in.

Sen. John McCain, who has long clashed with conservatives on issues of campaign finance, accepted Obama’s challenge on Obama’s terms. Obama would later write on a November 2007 questionnaire from the Midwest Democracy Network: “If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.” In February of this year, he wrote an op-ed stating again that he would “aggressively pursue” an agreement with McCain that would set “real spending limits.” He repeated this promise on FOX News on April 27.

Then, all of the sudden, Barack Obama announced in June that the public campaign-financing system was “broken” and so he could not participate in it. Presumably, someone went and broke the public campaign-financing system sometime between April and mid-June of this year.

Who did it? Barack Obama did. He broke the system as soon as it became clear to him that by rejecting public financing, he might be able to raise half a billion dollars and drown his opponent in money, as he is doing now.

It may all seem like a minor point now — just an occasion for a bit of Republican whining as Obama’s attack ads dominate the airwaves thanks to his broken promise. After all, Obama has raised quite a bit of money. But his donations from fake donors evoke the fake promise he made on principle just months ago to restrict campaign spending and limit the influence of special interests.

News reporters often assume, incorrectly, that the numbers in the FEC reports they scour each quarter are put on the Internet by magic. In fact, each one has to be recorded individually by a human being in what is really a painstaking process. This applies not only to the larger amounts contributed by Mr. Will and Mr. Jfggjjfgj, but also to amounts less than $200. A pair of human eyes has to check each one, even if amounts smaller than $200 are not required by law to be disclosed in any report.

Obama’s finance team missed quite a few obviously troubling large donations, from such unsavory individuals as Mr. Jfggjjfgj, “Mong Kong,” “Test Person,” and “Jockim Alberton,” who lives at a fictional address on a street that does not exist in Wilmington, Delaware. How many fictional characters might there be among the $220 million that Obama has collected in small, undisclosed contributions?

Obama’s small donors have all been recorded, and he could easily follow McCain’s lead by disclosing this major source of his campaign’s money. Hopefully the list of donors contains no one with Asdfjkl as a surname, and it bears no resemblance to an ACORN voter-registration list.

Biden to Supporters: "Gird Your Loins", For the Next President "It's Like Cleaning Augean Stables"
ABC news blog
October 20, 2008 7:35 AM

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe Reports: Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., on Sunday guaranteed that if elected, Sen. Barack Obama., D-Ill., will be tested by an international crisis within his first six months in power and he will need supporters to stand by him as he makes tough, and possibly unpopular, decisions.

"Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

"I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate," Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. "And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you - not financially to help him - we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."

Not only will the next administration have to deal with foreign affairs issues, Biden warned, but also with the current economic crisis.

"Gird your loins," Biden told the crowd. "We're gonna win with your help, God willing, we're gonna win, but this is not gonna be an easy ride. This president, the next president, is gonna be left with the most significant task. It's like cleaning the Augean stables, man. This is more than just, this is more than – think about it, literally, think about it – this is more than just a capital crisis, this is more than just markets. This is a systemic problem we have with this economy."

The Delaware lawmaker managed to rake in an estimated $1 million total from his two money hauls at the downtown Sheraton, the same hotel where four years ago Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., clinched the Democratic nomination. Despite warning about the difficulties the next administration will face, Biden said the Democratic ticket is equipped to meet the challenges head on.

"I've forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know, so I'm not being falsely humble with you. I think I can be value added, but this guy has it," the Senate Foreign Relations chairman said of Obama. "This guy has it. But he's gonna need your help. Because I promise you, you all are gonna be sitting here a year from now going, 'Oh my God, why are they there in the polls? Why is the polling so down? Why is this thing so tough?' We're gonna have to make some incredibly tough decisions in the first two years. So I'm asking you now, I'm asking you now, be prepared to stick with us. Remember the faith you had at this point because you're going to have to reinforce us."

"There are gonna be a lot of you who want to go, 'Whoa, wait a minute, yo, whoa, whoa, I don't know about that decision'," Biden continued. "Because if you think the decision is sound when they're made, which I believe you will when they're made, they're not likely to be as popular as they are sound. Because if they're popular, they're probably not sound."

Biden emphasized that the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border is of particular concern, with Osama bin Laden "alive and well" and Pakistan "bristling with nuclear weapons."

"You literally can see what these kids are up against, our kids in that region," Biden said in recalling when his helicopter was forced down due to a snowstorm there. "The place is crawling with al Qaeda. And it's real."

"We do not have the military capacity, nor have we ever, quite frankly, in the last 20 years, to dictate outcomes," he cautioned. "It's so much more important than that. It's so much more complicated than that. And Barack gets it."

After speaking for just over a quarter of an hour, Biden noticed the media presence in the back of the small ballroom.

"I probably shouldn't have said all this because it dawned on me that the press is here," he joked.

"All kidding aside, these guys have left us in a God-awful place," he then said of the Bush regime, promptly wrapping up his remarks. "We have the ability to straighten it out. It's gonna take a little bit of time, so I ask you to stay with us. Stay with us."



#18 - Plumbers

Why is the plumbing profession so closely linked to politics in America?  Let's see:  could it be the analogies that flow freely? 



#17 - "Overboard!"

How many Republican office seekers or pundits have abandoned ship on John McCain and Sarah Palin?

Let's see...only the New York Post and the National Review are still brave enough to favor the underdog three weeks out.  What people don't realize is that Barak Obama and Joe Biden should be leading by 25 points; in fact any other team of opponents would be throwing in the towel, but not this Republican duo.  They are having fun.  Why is that?  I know...

The "Change" that the voters may deliver, (if you believe the polls on October 14) fits like a glove with a second coming of the Great Depression!  Only there can't be four terms of Franklin Roosevelt this time!

Brother, can you spare a Euro?

#16 - "Stop the sneers" campaign working! 

The Democratic National Committee and the Obama-Biden campaign today announced that Senator Barak Obama is African-American.   Democrat Congressional leaders responded at a hastily called press conference.

"We are pleased to find out that our Presidential candidate is black" stated Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi"I didn't know!"

"It came as a shock" continued Senator Harry Reid of Nevada "because we all figured that America was not yet ready for a black President in the White House."


#15 - We are shocked to read this...

POLL: RUMORS FLYING IN ELECTION
New York Post
Last updated: 3:45 pm
October 9, 2008
Posted: 3:36 pm
October 9, 2008

A vast majority of adults in the US have heard rumors about Barack Obama and John McCain, according to a new survey, and many of them found the rumors believable.

About 94 percent of adult Americans have heard at least one obviously false rumor about the major presidential candidates, according to a first-of-its kind national survey of 1,015 adults conducted by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University.

Read the Full Poll From Scripps Howard

The most common rumors swirled around Obama's religion, with 89 percent of those polled saying they had heard he was Muslim, and nearly two-thirds said they found the rumor believable.

More than half heard that Obama refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance or to display the flag, even though he usually wears a flag pin on his lapel.

Two-thirds of all people who had heard rumors that Obama is the anti-Christ said it's "very unlikely" that anyone would believe such rumors.

Rumors are flying on both sides of the aisle.

People were asked if they had heard McCain had been brainwashed as a POW during the Vietnam War. One third of the people had heard this and nearly half said it's "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that it would be believed.

Fewer had heard that the Republican candidate fathered a black child (a rumor that helped cost McCain the critical 2000 South Carolina primary), or that he's senile.

Republicans were more likely to have heard false rumors about Obama than Democrats heard about McCain. Ninety-two percent heard at least one anti-Obama rumor whereas 53 percent heard at least one slander against McCain.

Obama's campaign, aware that rumors were flying, launched a "Stop the Smears" campaign on its Web site to combat such rumors.

McCain has had to announce that Sarah Palin's teen daughter was pregnant and planned to marry the child's father after rumors surfaced on the Internet that daughter Bristol was actually the mother to Palin's five-month old baby.

"Rumors are a very powerful form of communication. They resonate our fears," rumor expert Michael Kamins, a marketing professor at New York's Stoneybrook University, told Scripps Howard News Service.

#14 - IT TAKES A HACK TO BREED A HACKER.

Son of Tenn. Democrat indicted in Palin hacking
By DUNCAN MANSFIELD
Associated Press Writer
Oct 8, 12:18 PM EDT

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The son of a Democratic Tennessee state lawmaker pleaded not guilty Wednesday to hacking the e-mail account of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

David Kernell, 20, of Knoxville, Tenn. entered the plea in federal court in Knoxville, the same day prosecutors unsealed an indictment charging him with intentionally accessing Palin's e-mail account without authorization.  Kernell, an economics student at the University of Tennessee, was brought into court wearing handcuffs and shackles on his ankles.

He was released without posting bond, but the court forbade him from owning a computer and limited his Internet use to checking e-mail and doing class work.  Kernell's father is longtime state Rep. Mike Kernell of Memphis, chairman of Tennessee's House Government Operations Committee. The lawmaker has said he had nothing to do with the hacking incident.  David Kernell was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Knoxville and faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Trial is set for Dec. 16.

Prosecutors declined to say if anyone else would be charged. U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley restricted Kernell from discussing the case with any potential witnesses, which include his roommates.

Kernell was also restricted from having any contact directly or indirectly with the Alaska governor or her family.  Shirley warned that if Kernell violated any part of his release conditions, he would be held until the trial.

Kernell's attorney, Wade Davies, accompanied his client in court.

"As soon as we found out about the charges this morning, David voluntarily turned himself in," said Davies, who refused to answer any other questions.

The indictment alleges that on Sept. 16 Kernell reset the password to Palin's personal e-mail account to gain access to it. Authorities say Kernell then read the contents of the account and made screenshots of the e-mail directory, e-mail content and other personal information, later posting some of the information to a public Web site.


#13 - Election 2008 decided by the U.S. Supreme Court again?  From here and there...

Based upon some information in the daily papers, the country may be in for another attack of the lawyers, or a "chad" election (not the country in Africa).

On another election topic:  a
s the Bard said, "what's in a name?"  "Hypo Real Estate" is the German Bank that government is to rescue...overinflated value here?


#12- The Senate version of "bail-out" according to the NYTIMES: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/blogs/dealbook/senate_bailout.pdf

Do you think any form of "bail-out" will make any difference?  We don't...at least as far as the election is concerned. 


#11 - Why Congress should maybe not approve the "bail-out" monster bill until AFTER Tuesday, September 30...

Is it deja vu all over again again?  How about the Emperor's New Clothes?  Have we not seen this before?  This may be the perfect time for a U.S. Senate use of its special right to debate until the cows come home - known as "filibuster?"  Or will they figure out another way to avoid egg on their face?

#10 - ALL YOU GET FROM A PIG IS A GRUNT DEPARTMENT

Why can't John McCain do two important things at once?  How about three or four?  This is the complaint of the Obama campaign.

Answer:  he prioritizes and doesn't get stuck in the mud, although he is going to Mississippi for the first debate (which is next door to Alabama of "My Cousin Vinny" fame).  This is the argument against President Bush's proposal: 

From the NYTIMES:  "We have a lot of folks who say we are looking at financial catastrophe on the one hand, but we may be looking at national bankruptcy and the road to socialism on the other," Mr. Hensarling said in an interview on Wednesday. "Once you lose your freedom to fail, you also lose your freedom to succeed and you cease to be a free society. So we will continue to look at other alternatives."  Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas made that statement, and that is the "contrarian" position.

According to the NYTIMES, after meeting with shell-shocked Congressional leaders late into Thursday evening on Capitol Hill — in negotiations that House Republicans boycotted — Mr. Paulson returned on Friday, as the last of weary Congressional staff members straggled back to their offices and conference rooms.  After a night of pizza in the House and Thai take-out in the Senate.This time, House Republicans agreed to send Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the minority whip and the party’s hands-on vote-counter, to represent their interests in the talks.

According to the NYTIMES, Senator McCain also returned to the Capitol to consult with Republicans, before reversing himself and heading to Oxford, Miss., for an evening debate with Senator Obama, which he agreed to attend — even though there was no deal in sight. He had sought to delay the debate until the bailout package was wrapped up.  Obviously, it ain't gonna happen so fast.  Why?  Because, in "About Town's"  opinion, the Democrats will not go down the path that this "bail-out" creates with outgoing President Bush WITHOUT it seeming bi-partisan in Congress.  They all walk the plank together...

Mr. Boehner released a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, demanding that "serious consideration" be given to a radically different proposal that provides no government money up front for a financial rescue.

A senior Senate Republican, Richard Shelby of Alabama, who has also been an outspoken critic of the administration’s approach, said it would be all right to let negotiations continue all weekend, even if that meant financial markets had to open up on Monday without any relief in hand.

"We need to get back to the drawing board," Mr. Shelby said on MSNBC. "We need to consider this in a deliberate, linear fashion."



What is the difference between breaking into DNC offices or hacking into GOP V-P candidate's private e-mail?  Thirty-something years!


#9 - "Hackergate:  I Smell A Rat - Or Is That A Mouse?"  Election news from Tennessee, at knoxnews.com

Kernell mum on allegations son hacked into Palin’s e-mail
Trevor Aaronson, aaronson@commercialappeal.com
Thursday, September 18, 2008

MEMPHIS — State Rep. Mike Kernell declined Thursday to respond to online allegations that his son — a student at the University of Tennessee Knoxville — hacked into Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s personal e-mail account.

“My son’s the one in question, and I can’t comment on him,” said Kernell, a Memphis Democrat.

Bloggers have alleged that David Kernell, 20, is the one who has claimed responsibility for breaking into the Alaska governor’s e-mail account.  The evidence is tenuous. In fact, one of the first blogs to allege that the son of a Democratic politician was responsible relied on e-mail tips and described its evidence as “pretty thin.”

On Wednesday, however, the FBI and Secret Service launched an investigation that includes agents in Memphis. C.M. Sturgis, a spokesman for the Memphis FBI branch, confirmed late Thursday that his office is involved.

“All I can say is that a matter was referred to us from the Anchorage, Alaska, office. An investigation at this time is being coordinated out of FBI headquarters in the Department of Justice,” Sturgis said.

Also Wednesday, a person using the e-mail address rubico10@yahoo.com posted a message to an online forum about how he used Yahoo Mail’s password-recovery tool to obtain Palin’s password.

“I am the lurker who did it, and I would like to tell the story,” rubico10@yahoo.com wrote on the Web site.

The hacker later explained how he reviewed Palin’s e-mail messages one by one: “I read though the emails … ALL OF THEM … before I posted, and what I concluded was anticlimactic, there was nothing there, nothing incriminating, nothing that would derail her campaign as I had hoped, all I saw was personal stuff, some clerical stuff from when she was governor. … And pictures of her family.”

The hacker used easily available information about Palin to answer questions Yahoo! Mail uses to verify identity. The hacker answered the first two questions easily — birth date and ZIP code. The third question — “Where did you meet your spouse?” — required the hacker to research the answer until he found the correct one, Wasilla High.

“It took seriously 45 (minutes) on Wikipedia and Google to find the info,” rubico10@yahoo.com wrote.

After changing the e-mail password to “popcorn,” the hacker then posted the username and password to 4chan, allowing others to access Palin’s e-mail.

In Nashville on Thursday, Rep. Kernell would neither confirm nor deny his son was involved in hacking Palin’s e-mail account. Although Kernell said he was aware of claims that his son was responsible, the politician would not address any of them.

“Father-son relationship,” Kernell explained.

The longtime legislator would not say whether rubico10@yahoo.com is his son’s e-mail address.

“I can’t comment on my son,” he repeated.

Asked if he has been contacted by investigators, Kernell responded: “Me, no.”

“I can’t say about my son,” he added. “That doesn’t mean he has or hasn’t been contacted.”

David Kernell, a student at UT Knoxville, could not be reached.

Although FBI and Secret Services officials have not identified suspects in the case, they are reviewing logs that could confirm the hacker’s identity.

Federal investigators want to speak with Gabriel Ramuglia of Athens, Ga., who operates an Internet anonymity service the hacker used. Ramuglia told The Associated Press on Thursday that he was reviewing his logs and promised to turn over any helpful information.

The hacker accessed the Alaska governor’s private e-mail account after the news media disclosed e-mail indicating Palin’s administration used private e-mail accounts as a way to work outside Alaska’s Open Records Act.

David Kernell excelled at chess while at Germantown High School and won the 2004 Tennessee Open Scholastic Chess Championship.

Internet searches show someone uses the handle “rubico” on chess Web sites. In addition, an inactive blog, with one post dated May 2004, included “rubico” as a username. Its author identified himself as a chess player from Memphis named David.

Jody Callahan and Richard Locker of the Commerical Appeal and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


#8 - Funnier than anything I could make up!

Now we know what an American election is really all about - in the eyes of anyone who comes from "across the pond":
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/americas/2008/vote_usa_2008/7609440.stm




#7 - "Saturday Night Live" to the rescue!

What took them so long to see the humor in this Presidential contest?
  1. Because they really wanted to really, really see a Democrat victory? Or...
  2. There wasn't anything funny about this election...or
  3. They had already made so many jokes about Joe Biden when he was selected for V-P in 1988 that they didn't want to remind anyone?
Do you think the Democrat Debates as represented on SNL will be repeated (on YouTube if nowhere else)?

#6 - Conventions (multiple-choice questions for Election 2008):  St. Paul

Why to you think the Republicans picked St. Paul, Minnesota as their Convention 2008 host city?
  1. It was in the middle of the country so that time zones could be coordinated for the best timing for the major speaker each night?  Or,
  2. it was far from New York City, so the parking wouldn't be a problem, or
  3. they were hoping the protestors would go to Minneapolis by mistake.
Why did the Connecticut delegation get attacked by the most violent of the protestors?
  1. Because their attackers thought they symbolized wealthy, greedy capitalists - oh, wait a minute, we are a very BLUE state!
  2. Because the substitute bus driver was a member of the CT Democratic Party hierarchy, who felt she owed them a roll?
  3. Because their attackers were actually angered by Senator Lieberman having the nerve to make a public appearance with (ugh!) Republicans?


#5 - Conventions (multiple-choice questions for Election 2008):  Denver

Why do you think the Democrats held their final night of Convention outdoors in a football stadium?
  1. To wrap themselves in the glamor of violent sport, beer-drinking, allAmerican flesh grabbing, bone cracking action, or
  2. to get a great overhead video shot for TV, or
  3. to make people associate a sport other than hoops with Obama?
Why pick Denver and set up a great line - as the Republicans said, the ticket for the donkey Party is "a mile high and an inch deep."
  1. They wanted a cool place.
  2. They wanted to get high.
  3. First choice was L.A., but they were afraid of too many tremors their candidate might cause.


#4 - CARICATURES

OBAMA PIX:  As the Republican Convention is swept away by Hurricane Gustav, Barak Obama thinks to himself how lucky he was with the weather, and how fortunate that his daughters are too young to get pregnant.  John McCain is thinking about the meaning of living up to the Republican platform.

#3 - OBAMA MEETS OSAMA?

OBAMA TO VISIT TORA BORA NEXT WEEK FOR PHOTO OP WITH OSAMA, PERHAPS?
"...And he went so far as to attack the presumed strength of Mr. McCain’s campaign, national security. 'You know, John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell, but he won’t even follow him to the cave where he lives,'” he said. (NYTIMES).


#2 -  What would the common people say?

WITH THE ELECTION COMING CLOSE, SEARCH FOR A CLOSER ENDS...IN DELAWARE.
Self-aware D.C. Senator Obama looks in for the sign, steps off the rubber to think about the choices, thinks some more, then decides he needs relief, a classic Democrat policy, instead.

Obama aspires to speak for the common people
The Denver Post
By Karen E. Crummy
Article Last Updated: 08/24/2008 08:06:38 AM MDT

RICHMOND, Va. — Barack Obama, who will accept the Democratic nomination Thursday in front of more than 70,000 people at Invesco Field at Mile High, said his convention speech will focus less on himself and more on the American people and their struggles in a faltering U.S. economy...

Having just finished popping bits of peanut brittle in his mouth Thursday night, Obama sat back comfortably in a wobbling chair on his campaign bus, which was fully loaded with four flat-screen TVs and one basketball. He said that since his return from a July trip overseas, his campaign has hit some bumps but that he doesn't spend time worrying about day -to -day polls.

"One of the things about being involved in such a long campaign is you really get a sense there is a rhythm. A rhythm to press coverage. A rhythm to campaigns," he said, noting that at this time a year ago he was trailing New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton by roughly 20 percentage points...


#1 - POLITICS IS FOOTBALL

GOOD DEFENSE BEATS A GOOD OFFENSE
Appropriately, on the left, The Great Wall, before the Internet.  At the right, rumblings reminding us of the Presidential Debates 1960. 
See Taiwan Straits map here.  Is Georgia the "Quemoy and Matsu" of 2008?
----------------------



In chronological order, our first dozen, as we have either created them or found them elsewhere (pre-Conventions).



#1 - 2008 ORIGIN OF "SOFT MONEY"
Money in the Presidential Election 2008 is different from "bundling" or is it?  The "small contributions" for Obama may very well be coming from...Dubai, China, Russia...with a clever program and a click of the mouse???  And what is wrong with Europe, Asia and the Middle Eastern nations paying for the Democrat candidate's campaign?  These folks don't get to actually vote, do they???  Lends new meaning to the term "absentee voting?"



#2 - NORTH BY NORTHWEST MORPHS INTO THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE?  Just knock off the others and there would be space on Rushmore.

On the Road: Obama at Rushmore, Too
NYTIMES
By Michael Powell
May 31, 2008, 5:15 pm

Late Friday evening, Barack Obama had a perhaps strategic change of tourist heart. A bus full of campaign reporters had decided to pay an end of the day visit to Mount Rushmore and the candidate was rumored to be a no-show.

But perhaps figuring that politics trump fatigue, Obama decided to spend a few minutes gazing up at the granite visages that are the pride of South Dakota. (Not incidentally, Hillary Clinton had visited Mr. Rushmore just a few days ago.)

So in the inky 10 p.m. darkness, Obama wandered across a plaza with a Park Ranger. Mr. Obama, ever a natty and not particularly informal fellow, had his suit jacket on and his tie not a half-inch ajar. Just a few tourists were there, and most snapped pictures and whispered excitedly. But not one particular couple.

“Get your camera out!” the woman commanded her husband.

The husband shrugged. Please. Studied indifference was his thing. “I don’t care about the guy,” he whispers back. “I’m a Republican, remember?”

As for Mr. Obama, he nodded as a Park Ranger talked about the dynamite charges that the sculptor deployed to carve out those faces. (The faces are lit up at night).

But when a reporter asked Mr. Obama if he might like to have his visage up there one day, he shook his head rather definitively.

“I don’t think my ears would make it,” said the candidate whose ears stick out rather noticeably. “There’s only so much rock up there.”


#3 - Where's the possumus?  In one of the 10 extra states?



The Great Seal of Obamaland?
NYTIMES
By John M. Broder
June 20, 2008,  3:44 pm

At a discussion with a dozen Democratic governors in Chicago on Friday morning, each of the governors was identified with a small name plate but Senator Barack Obama sat behind a low rostrum to which was attached an official-looking seal no one had seen before.

It is emblazoned with a fierce-looking eagle clutching an olive branch in one claw and arrows in the other and is deliberately reminiscent of the official seal of the president of the United States. Around the top border are the words “Obama for America;” across the bottom is the campaign’s Web address. It also contains the logo of the Obama campaign, variously interpreted as a sunrise or a view down an open road.

Just above the eagle’s head are the words “Vero Possumus,” roughly translated “Yes we can.” Not exactly E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One), the motto on the presidential seal and the dollar bill. Then again, Mr. Obama is not the president.

#4 - Who's Sorry Now?

New and Not Improved
NYTIMES editorial
Published: July 4, 2008

...The new Barack Obama has abandoned his vow to filibuster an electronic wiretapping bill if it includes an immunity clause for telecommunications companies that amounts to a sanctioned cover-up of Mr. Bush’s unlawful eavesdropping after 9/11.

...The new Mr. Obama tells evangelical Christians that he wants to expand President Bush’s policy of funneling public money for social spending to religious-based organizations — a policy that violates the separation of church and state and turns a government function into a charitable donation.

...On top of these perplexing shifts in position, we find ourselves disagreeing powerfully with Mr. Obama on two other issues: the death penalty and gun control...We knew he ascribed to the anti-gun-control groups’ misreading of the Constitution as implying an individual right to bear arms. But it was distressing to see him declare that the court provided a guide to “reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe.”

What could be more reasonable than a city restricting handguns, or requiring that firearms be stored in ways that do not present a mortal threat to children?

We were equally distressed by Mr. Obama’s criticism of the Supreme Court’s barring the death penalty for crimes that do not involve murder.

We are not shocked when a candidate moves to the center for the general election. But Mr. Obama’s shifts are striking because he was the candidate who proposed to change the face of politics, the man of passionate convictions who did not play old political games.

There are still vital differences between Mr. Obama and Senator John McCain on issues like the war in Iraq*, taxes, health care and Supreme Court nominations. We don’t want any “redefining” on these big questions. This country needs change it can believe in.

------
*just switched on that one, too.


#5 - Professional "joke"...

May We Mock, Barack?        
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: July 16, 2008

When I interviewed Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for Rolling Stone a couple years ago, I wondered what Barack Obama would mean for them.

“It seems like a President Obama would be harder to make fun of than these guys,” I said.


“Are you kidding me?” Stewart scoffed.

Then he and Colbert both said at the same time: “His dad was a goat-herder!”

When I noted that Obama, in his memoir, had revealed that he had done some pot, booze and “maybe a little blow,” the two comedians began riffing about the dapper senator’s familiarity with drug slang.

Colbert: Wow, that’s a very street way of putting it. ‘A little blow.’

Stewart: A little bit of the white rabbit.

Colbert: ‘Yeah, I packed a cocktail straw of cocaine and had a prostitute blow it in my ear, but that is all I did. High-fivin.’ ’


Flash forward to the kerfuffle — and Obama’s icy reaction — over this week’s New Yorker cover parodying fears about the Obamas.

“We’ve already scratched thrift, candor and brevity off the list of virtues in this presidential cycle, so why not eliminate humor, too?” wrote James Rainey in The Los Angeles Times, suggesting “an irony deficiency” in Obama and his fans.

Many of the late-night comics and their writers — nearly all white — now admit to The New York Times’s Bill Carter that because of race and because there is nothing “buffoonish” about Obama — and because many in their audiences are intoxicated by him and resistant to seeing him skewered — he has not been flayed by the sort of ridicule that diminished Dukakis, Gore and Kerry.


“There’s a weird reverse racism going on,” Jimmy Kimmel said.

Carter also observed that there’s no easy comedic “take” on Obama, “like allegations of Bill Clinton’s womanizing, or President Bush’s goofy bumbling or Al Gore’s robotic personality.”

At first blush, it would seem to be a positive for Obama that he is hard to mock. But on second thought, is it another sign that he’s trying so hard to be perfect that it’s stultifying? Or that eight years of W. and Cheney have robbed Democratic voters of their sense of humor?


Certainly, as the potential first black president, and as a contender with tender experience, Obama must feel under strain to be serious.

But he does not want the “take” on him to become that he’s so tightly wrapped, overcalculated and circumspect that he can’t even allow anyone to make jokes about him, and that his supporters are so evangelical and eager for a champion to rescue America that their response to any razzing is a sanctimonious: Don’t mess with our messiah!


If Obama keeps being stingy with his quips and smiles, and if the dominant perception of him is that you can’t make jokes about him, it might infect his campaign with an airless quality. His humorlessness could spark humor.

On Tuesday, Andy Borowitz satirized on that subject. He said that Obama, sympathetic to comics’ attempts to find jokes to make about him, had put out a list of official ones, including this:


“A traveling salesman knocks on the door of a farmhouse, and much to his surprise, Barack Obama answers the door. The salesman says, ‘I was expecting the farmer’s daughter.’ Barack Obama replies, ‘She’s not here. The farm was foreclosed on because of subprime loans that are making a mockery of the American dream.’ ”

John McCain’s Don Rickles routines — “Thanks for the question, you little jerk” — can fall flat. But he seems like a guy who can be teased harmlessly. If Obama offers only eat-your-arugula chiding and chilly earnestness, he becomes an otherworldly type, not the regular guy he needs to be.

He’s already in danger of seeming too prissy about food — a perception heightened when The Wall Street Journal reported that the planners for Obama’s convention have hired the first-ever Director of Greening, the environmental activist Andrea Robinson. She in turn hired an Official Carbon Adviser to “measure the greenhouse-gas emissions of every placard, every plane trip, every appetizer prepared and every coffee cup tossed.”

The “lean ‘n’ green” catering guidelines, The Journal said, bar fried food and instruct that, “on the theory that nutritious food is more vibrant, each meal should include ‘at least three of the following colors: red, green, yellow, blue/purple, and white.’ (Garnishes don’t count.) At least 70% of the ingredients should be organic or grown locally, to minimize emissions from fuel during transportation.”

Bring it on, Ozone Democrats! Because if Obama gets elected and there is nothing funny about him, it won’t be the economy that’s depressed. It will be the rest of us.


NOW WE KNOW - AT LEAST SOME FROM EX-PATS (10-1 $$ for Obama)
#6 -
Where is Senator Obama's money coming from?  Select one:
  1. Non-voters:  China or Russia or some other foreign government.
  2. The shrinking American middle class.
  3. In the Internet age, in a campaign not bound by rules of public financing, with on-line contributions by faceless donors, how would anyone know if any of this was not the case?



#7 - "O" Summer School

QUESTION:  what course would this latest section of the Presidential campaign be for?
  1. World conflicts 101
  2. European history since fall of Soviet Union
  3. Make-up for not knowing how many states there are in the United States?




#8 - Smile for the camera.  And a little wave...

Which candidate for President said this:

"...the truth is that we’ve got a bunch of smart people, I think, who know 10 times more than we do about the specifics of the topics. And so if what you’re trying to do is micromanage and solve everything then you end up being a dilettante, but you have to have enough knowledge to make good judgments about the choices that are presented to you."



#9 - Fish stories...

Something fishy here...or just not too funny?


#10 - CAMPAIGN NEWS:  Executive privilege claim (like...Watergate?)


Dream scenario for Democrats?  Invoke the spirit of Watergate!  Wait a minute...what did they know and when did they know it?  The Watergate investigation committee chairman former Sen. Sam Nunn - someone mentioned in the press as a good runningmate for Barak Obama.



#11 - The men's basketball team has not won the gold medal in so long people no longer question Russia when it claims to have invented the game.

General knowledge q&a - what you can conclude from Olympic history...not in chronological order:



#12 - Why is it so important that the Vice Presidential candidates be qualified to take over the top job?  Because in this website's memory, the following events took place, in reverse chronological order:
That is five (5) times in less than 50 years that the Vice President might have or did step into the #1 slot.




Link to our find from a long time ago...think about it.
Money Makes the Political World Go Around
NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: November 2, 2008
Filed at 10:14 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a presidential race filled with broken barriers, money has shattered far more than its share.

Together, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain have amassed nearly $1 billion -- a stratospheric number. Depending on turnout, that means nearly $8 for every presidential vote, compared with $5.50 in 2004.

Using all that cash, the candidates have traveled more miles, employed more workers and advertised more than ever.

But it has been Obama, with his $641 million and 3.2 million donors, who has rewritten the rules for financing campaigns.

He abandoned the public financing system -- after pledging to participate if McCain did -- and became the first major party candidate to raise private funds to pay for a general election since the campaign money reforms of the Watergate era. McCain did take public funds, but Obama's success left little doubt that taxpayer-supported presidential campaigns, as currently configured, are 20th century relics.

Neither Obama nor McCain participated in public financing during the primaries. McCain's acceptance of $84 million in general election public financing also came with limitations on spending. He continued to raise money for the Republican Party, though, which so far has spent about $100 million on his behalf to supplement his public funds.

Obama mastered new technology, turning the Internet into an incredible political networking tool and attracting record numbers of donors giving less than $200. While that flood of money raised new questions about the safeguards of Internet fundraising, it also helped dilute the role of big money donors and fundraisers.

''When you have that many contributors, I think it does, in a weird way, cleanse the system even though it seems like that much more money,'' the Federal Election Commission chairman, Republican Donald F. McGahn II, said recently. ''That many more contributors disperse the influence of any one contributor.''

Some of the financial highlights from the presidential campaign:

--Too much to put under the mattress: All the presidential candidates in the 2007-2008 contest took in $1.55 billion, nearly twice the amount collected by candidates in 2004 and three times the amount from 2000. The total includes fundraising for the primaries as well as the general election.

The total is almost the same as what the Federal Trade Commission says food and beverage companies spend in a year marketing their products to children.

--Selling politics like burgers: With all that money, Obama has blanketed the country with his message. As of mid-October, he had spent $240 million on broadcast ads to penetrate old battlegrounds and to help create new ones. He spent $77 million in the first two weeks of October, more than McDonald's spends on ads in a month. He pinpointed audiences with ads on such video games as ''Guitar Hero'' and ''Madden NFL 09.''

He also went global, with national network advertising that culminated with a $4 million-plus half hour buy on prime time six days before the election. His spending stretched McCain's resources; the Republican had spent about $116 million as of mid-October.

--Bad apple, bad money: Some fundraisers put campaigns in awkward situations. Barack Obama donated to charity tens of thousands of dollars in donations to his past campaigns that were linked to convicted Chicago developer Antoin ''Tony'' Rezko. Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton returned more than $800,000 to donors whose contributions were linked to Norman Hsu, a fundraiser who was wanted in California on charges of bilking investors. Hsu was subsequently indicted in New York on federal charges of fraud and violating campaign finance laws.

--Bundle up some cold hard cash: Perfecting a fundraising practice initially mastered by George W. Bush, presidential candidates enlisted fundraisers to raise thousands upon thousands of dollars for them. These are the well-connected money people to whom a campaign is ultimately indebted. Both McCain and Obama list their fundraisers -- or bundlers, as they are known -- on their Web sites. McCain's are easier to find than Obama's. But unlike McCain, Obama lists the fundraisers' home towns.

--Who are those small donors, anyway: Obama has raised about half of his money in increments of $200 or less. The average contribution is $86, the campaign says. But the success of the Internet fundraising effort has also led to some puzzling donors. Individuals have been credited with giving tens of thousands of dollars to the Obama campaign, far more than the $2,300 limit. Obama has reported more than $17,000 in contributions from a donor identified as ''Doodad Pro'' and more than $11,000 from one identified as ''Good Will.''

''I wouldn't be surprised if the FEC doesn't address this in the next couple of years -- what you have to put on your Web site for soliciting contributions,'' said Bradley A. Smith, a former FEC chairman and a law professor at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio.

--I show mine, you don't show yours: Federal law requires candidates to identify only those donors who contribute, in the aggregate, more than $200. But McCain has made his entire donor database available through his Web site. Obama has not, drawing criticism.





ACCORDING TO THE NEW YORK TIMES, THIS IS THE TAX STORY...

CLICK ON CANDIDATE CARICATURE TO READ ACCEPTANCE AND CONCESSION END END GAME;  We still would like an answer on "botnet" possibility - after all, who in America can afford to make contributions these days?

T U E S D A Y ,   N O V E M B E R    4 ,    2 0 0 8    -   E L E C T I O N    D A Y   U . S . A . !
    T H E    W I N N E R  . . .

IN THE CAMPAIGN SEASON NEWS:  POLICY & TACTICS END-GAME THE BIG QUESTION-MARK...RIGHT-WING THROWS IN THE TOWEL.  WHAT HAPPENS TO PUBLIC FINANCING?
Florida 2000 redux?  Not if you believe George Will.
D E B A T E S  all over now.   As is the election.  Click to hear both the acceptance speech and the concession speechs in full (thank you, I-BBC).
September 11th;  Fannie & Freddie bail-out;  stock markets, on average, drop 4% in USA Monday, September 15th.
CANDIDATES: 
Democrat Obama
Republican McCain
Libertarian Bob Barr
Green Party candidate, too. 
CONGRESS 4TH DISTRICT
There may be more stuff, too!
So what do people around the world think (as of June 8, 2008)? 
2008 campaign on the Internet;
Tracking the Polls:  can't believe them, can't not believe them...arguably more accurate than the weather forecasts.   Some thoughts on this vital "pulse-taking" device.
Earlier...
The prize...its cost--fundraising information source;
I-BBC election 2008:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/americas/2008/vote_usa_2008/default.stm
Link to "Issues '08" (this website's thoughts over this very, very long campaign);  remember losing candidate in 2004?
I-BBC article on the same thing; MORE AND OLDER NEWS  articles and columns collected about the Presidential Election 2008, dating from from November 2006 to current time (in reverse chronological order).  Interesting poll from across the pond here;
VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES:  Democrat and Republican




D E B A T E    S C H E D U L E  -  W A T C H    T H E M    A G A I N    H E R E



The vice-presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis:  click here to watch.

V I C E    P R E S I D E N T I A L   C A N D I D A T E S  - Democrat and Republican


                    

Joe Biden for the Democrats,
Senator from Delaware


Barack Obama would consider charging Bush administration over Guantanamo:  Joe Biden, Barack Obama’s vice-presidential running mate, has indicated that a new Democratic administration could pursue criminal charges against the Bush administration over the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo bay.
By Toby Harnden in St Paul
Last Updated: 7:01PM BST 04 Sep 2008

Mr Biden said at an event in Deerfield Beach, Florida: “If there has been a basis upon which you can pursue someone for a criminal violation, they will be pursued, not out of vengeance, not out of retribution, out of the need to preserve the notion that no one, no attorney general, no president - no one is above the law."

His statement is the strongest indication yet that an Obama administartion might seek legal redress against the President George W. Bush. It could undermine Mr Obama’s message of bipartisanship and moving beyond the battles over Iraq.

In April, Mr Obama struck a similar note when he promised that he would ask his attorney general to review the Bush administration’s decisions to differentiate between "genuine crimes" and "really bad policies".

"If crimes have been committed, they should be investigated," he told the Philadelphia Daily News. "You're also right that I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt, because I think we've got too many problems we've got to solve..." 




From Wikipedia (quote):

On July 1, 1991 President George H.W. Bush nominated Thomas to replace Thurgood Marshall who had recently announced his retirement.[13] Marshall had been the only African American justice on the court. The selection of Thomas preserved the existing racial composition of the court, but it was seen as likely to move the ideological balance to the right.

American Bar Association's (ABA) rating for Judge Thomas was split between "qualified" and "not qualified."

Organizations including the NAACP, the Urban League and the National Organization for Women opposed the appointment based on Thomas's criticism of affirmative action and suspicions that Thomas might not be a supporter of the Supreme Court judgment in Roe v. Wade. Under questioning during confirmation hearings, Thomas repeatedly asserted that he had not formulated a position on the Roe decision.[14]

Some of the public statements of Thomas's opponents foreshadowed the confirmation fight that would occur. One such statement came from activist Florence Kennedy at a July 1991 conference of the National Organization for Women in New York City. Making reference to the failure of Robert Bork's nomination, she said of Thomas, "We're going to 'bork' him."[15]

[edit] Allegations of sexual harassment

Toward the end of the confirmation hearings, information was leaked to the press from an FBI interview with Anita Hill, an attorney who had worked for Thomas at the Department of Education and the EEOC. On October 11, 1991, Hill was called to testify during the Senate confirmation hearing.

Hill said: "He spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes....On several occasions, Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess....Thomas was drinking a Coke in his office, he got up from the table at which we were working, went over to his desk to get the Coke, looked at the can and asked, 'Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?'"[16] Hill also indicated that Thomas made reference to the pornographic actor Long Dong Silver.

Angela Wright, who worked with Thomas at the EEOC, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Thomas had repeatedly made comments to her, much like those he allegedly made to Hill, including pressuring her for dates and commenting on her body. Rose Jourdain testified that Wright had discussed Thomas' behavior with her at the time it occurred, and that she had considered it sexual harassment. In light of the fact that Thomas had testified that he had fired Wright for calling another employee a "faggot," [17] Sen. Joseph Biden, chair of the Judiciary Committee, decided against publicly hearing Wright's testimony.

Another former Thomas assistant, Sukari Hardnett, made further damaging charges against him. Although Hardnett made it clear she was not accusing Thomas of sexual harassment, she provided the Judiciary Committee with sworn testimony that "if you were young, black, female, reasonably attractive and worked directly for Clarence Thomas, you knew full well you were being inspected and auditioned as a female." Additionally, Ellen Wells, John W. Carr, Judge Susan Hoerchner, and Joel Paul testified that Hill had discussed Thomas's actions at the time she worked for Thomas and that she had characterized them as sexual harassment.[18]

Thomas denied all allegations of sexual harassment and sexual impropriety by Hill and the others. Of the committee's investigation of the accusations, Thomas said: "This is not an opportunity to talk about difficult matters privately or in a closed environment. This is a circus. It's a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree."[19]

After extensive debate, the committee sent the nomination to the full Senate without a recommendation either way. Thomas was confirmed by the Senate with a 52-48 vote on October 15, 1991, the narrowest margin for approval in more than a century.[20] The final floor vote was not along strictly party lines: 41 Republicans and 11 Democrats voted to confirm while 46 Democrats and two Republicans (Jim Jeffords (R-VT) and Bob Packwood[21] (R-OR)) voted to reject the nomination.

On October 23, 1991, Thomas took his seat as the 106th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.




Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska:  in an undated photo from ADN files - a newspaper endorsing her opposition;  Tina Fey, faux GOP candidate on SNL.

WHAT NYTIMES COLUMNISTS AND THE DAY ARE SAYING ABOUT...


FACES IN THE CROWD
Reporter for the NYTIMES (left, above) just made things up;  "She's Not Ready" column in full here - Mr. Herbert of the NYTIMES is an opinion writer; 
CHANGE IN THE WEATHERMENTIRED OF THINKING ABOUT THE ECONOMY OR PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS?


She’s Not Ready
NYTIMES 
By BOB HERBERT
Published: September 12, 2008

While watching the Sarah Palin interview with Charlie Gibson Thursday night, and the coverage of the Palin phenomenon in general, I’ve gotten the scary feeling, for the first time in my life, that dimwittedness is not just on the march in the U.S., but that it might actually prevail.


How is it that this woman could have been selected to be the vice presidential candidate on a major party ticket? How is it that so much of the mainstream media has dropped all pretense of seriousness to hop aboard the bandwagon and go along for the giddy ride?

For those who haven’t noticed, we’re electing a president and vice president, not selecting a winner on “American Idol...”  full column here.




What are the odds that America will get its first female Vice President this year?

Palin connects in Northern Nevada; Carson City crowd immediately feels it’s on first-name basis with Alaska governor
Las Vegas Sun
By David McGrath Schwartz
Mon, Sep 15, 2008 (2 a.m.)

The crowd greeted her with chants of “Sarah, Sarah, Sarah.”

People said they had come to see “Sarah.”

“Sarah spoke to my heart,” said Patty Tietz of Carson City. “She’s not scripted. It sounds like she’s speaking, herself.”

At the Pony Express Pavilion in Carson City Saturday, voters said they connected with Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin in a way that was hard to explain, but that left them comfortable enough to refer to her simply as Sarah.

The speech Palin gave was essentially the stump speech she has given since she accepted the nomination two weeks ago. The crowd of 5,000 — with signs saying “Go Sarah Go” and “Read my lipstick McCain/Palin” buttons — reacted enthusiastically, nonetheless.

Some supporters of Sen. Barack Obama are on a first-name basis with their candidate. (That rarely happens with Sen. John McCain or Sen. Joe Biden.) Yet Democrats have been frustrated, maybe even flummoxed, by the way Palin appears to have changed the race for the White House.

She erased any bump in the polls that Obama got from the Democratic convention. And, as evidenced on Saturday, the Republican base is fired up. This is with a group that had given her running mate, McCain, a third-place finish in the January caucus, behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

Inquiries from Nevadans looking to volunteer for the McCain campaign went from a few hundred a week to 1,500 to 2,000 a week since Palin joined the ticket, according to the campaign.

Many voters here and across the country, particularly conservative women, have felt a personal connection with Palin — one that often goes beyond issues to the personal story of a mother from a small town who goes to church and feels comfortable handling a gun.

When pressed on issues, many of her supporters say she is a reformer who could change things in Washington. They like her anti-abortion stance, for sure, but more than that, they like the fact she gave birth to a baby with Down syndrome.

“She’s the most refreshing thing I’ve seen in politics in 25 years,” said Lorna Hoff, 60, of Reno. Hoff said she wouldn’t have come out to see McCain speak, though she would’ve “begrudgingly voted for him.” (“McCain has an awful lot of liberal tendencies. He’s a RINO,” she said, referring to the conservative slur Republican In Name Only.)

But Palin, she said, “is pro-life, pro-family, pro-working people. She’s one of us.”

Rep. Dean Heller, the Republican who grew up in Carson City, said the energy Palin has brought to Republicans in Nevada is unmistakable.

“She’s one of us,” he said. “The reason all these people are here, she’s one of us.”

A few months ago, it was a favorite pastime of Republicans and Hillary Clinton supporters to ask Obama backers to name one of the Illinois senator’s accomplishments. They complained that Obama was a celebrity, and his support wasn’t about a resume or policy, but about charisma and oratorical skills.

Now, frustrated Democrats say the race should focus on issues. A small protest organized by the Obama campaign was held before Palin’s appearance.

“Republicans called Obama a celebrity,” said Joyce Peirce of Carson City. “That’s all she is — McCain’s puppy dog.”

Inside the pavilion, the crowd cheered when Palin said she fought against pork, including the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” though in February she requested $198 million in federal earmarks and a number of independent groups have pointed out she opposed the bridge only after it became politically unpopular and Congress essentially killed it.

Palin said she fought to lower property taxes as mayor, though she neglected to say she also raised the sales tax to finance a hockey rink.

She said she fought the oil industry lobby and her own party, and said when the state had a surplus, she rebated the money to Alaska citizens. She did not say that the state’s $5 billion budget surplus (not counting the $750 million rebate) came from a large tax increase on oil royalties.

Of course, both sides are trying to make Palin into a caricature. For the left, it is to cast her as a frightening religious zealot. However, as governor she vetoed a bill that would have prevented same-sex couples from getting public employee benefits; she also drew flak from pro-life groups because she declined to take up two abortion-related measures during special sessions aimed at getting a natural gas pipeline agreement passed, saying the abortion-related proposals would be a distraction.

In a New Yorker interview, conducted before she was named McCain’s running mate, she said this: “I guess if you take the individual issues, two that I believe would be benchmarks showing whether you’re a hard-core Republican conservative or not, would be: I’m a lifetime member of the NRA — but this is Alaska, who isn’t? — and I am pro-life, absolutely.”

But she said she recognized that “the Democrats also preach individual freedoms and individual rights, capitalism, free market, let-it-do-its-thing-best, let people keep as much of their money that they earn as possible. And when it comes to, like, the Party machine, no one will accuse me of being partisan.”

As Steve Haycox, a professor of history at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, said of Palin, “she’s a pragmatist.”

For her new devotees on the right who turned out in Carson City on Saturday, and her fierce critics on the left, none of that may matter. It’s now something personal.


Palin speech must have Democrats nervous 
DAY Editorial
Published on 9/4/2008 
 
Democratic party leaders who were happy to see Sen. John McCain select little-known Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidental running mate were probably not smiling after listening to her acceptance speech at the GOP convention Wednesday night.

Palin energized the convention hall by perfectly delivering a speech that was a mixture of conservative populism and biting criticism of Demcoratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama. Palin deftly presented the Republicans as the party of working America, not corporate America.

As the surprise VP pick walked to the microphone the stakes could not have been higher. She had been buffeted by days of news reporting into her background as a former small-town mayor and first-term governor. While the social conservative wing of the Republican Party was ecstatic over Palin's selection, some moderate Republicans were quietly questioning McCain's judgment in placing such an untested and arguably poorly vetted candidate on the ticket.

But Palin showed no hint of stress. She looked remarkably at ease, delivering her message in a conversational and  genuine style that perhaps no current nationally known candidate can match. From a middle-class perspective, it would be hard to get more real than five children, a pregnant teen daughter, a special-needs baby and a smalltown-girl-made-good story.

She attacked the Washington political elite pundits and the news media, always popular targets. Invoking the memory of Democrat Harry Truman, Palin said sometimes it takes someone from middle America, or perhaps Alaska, to bring wisdom to Washington.

Palin ripped Obama's lack of executive-level inexperience, one of several speakers to make light of his community organizing work on Chicago's south side. And she made a decent case for the lessons learned by running a small town and directing a state. She repeated the convention theme that, unlike Obama, McCain has been tested under fire.

Palin sought to drive a wedge between Obama and working-class voters in such critical industrial states as Ohio and Pennsylvania by reminding her audience of Obama's comments about such folks at a San Francisco fundraiser: "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." While not using the word, she clearly suggested he was a hypocrite for saying one thing to a San Francisco crowd, something else to Pennsylvania audiences.

How she will stand up to the scrutiny and questioning in the weeks to come remains to be seen. There will be ample opportunities for her to implode. But for one very important night Sarah Palin was very impressive and that could be making some Democrats very nervous.


Life of Her Party
NYTIMES
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: September 2, 2008

ST. PAUL

For many years, reality was out of vogue with Republicans. They ignored the reality of Iraq and Katrina, of Pakistan and Osama bin Laden.

When confronted with their colossal carelessness around the globe and here at home, their mantra was, as Rummy put it, “Stuff happens.”

Now reality, in all its messy, crazy, funky glory, has flooded the party, in the comely, crackling form of Sarah Palin.

Unable to stop the onslaught of wild soap opera storylines erupting from the Palin family and the Alaska wilderness, McCain campaign adviser Steve Schmidt offered caterwauling reporters a new mantra: “Life happens.”

Indeed, it does. Only four days into her reign as John McCain’s “soul mate,” or “Trophy Vice,” as some bloggers are calling her, on the ticket known as “Maverick Squared,” Palin, the governor of Alaska, has already accrued two gates (Troopergate and Broken-watergate), a lawyer (for Troopergate), a future son-in-law named Levi (a high school ice hockey player, described by New York magazine as “sex on skates”), and a National Enquirer headline about the “Teen Prego Crisis” with 17-year-old daughter Bristol.

It seems like a long time since Vice President Dan Quayle denounced Murphy Brown for having a baby out of wedlock, bemoaning a “poverty of values.” It also seems like a long time — and another McCain ago — that Republicans supporting W. smeared the old John McCain by spreading rumors that he had fathered an illegitimate black child.

This week, the anti-abortion forces celebrated the news of Bristol’s pregnancy, using it as further proof that their beloved Governor Palin — who will no more support sex education than polar bears — was committed to the cause.

Since John McCain played craps first and sent the vetters to Alaska afterward, Republicans have been defending Governor Palin by saying that, while she has no foreign policy experience — except, as Cindy McCain pointed out, that “Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia” — she has a lot of domestic policy experience as a supercharged P.T.A. and hockey mom.

As more and more titillating details spill out about the Palins, Republicans riposte by simply arguing that things like Todd’s old D.U.I. arrest or Sarah’s messy family vengeance story will just let them relate better to average Americans — unlike the lofty Obamas.

“If this doesn’t resonate with every woman in America, I’ll eat my hat,” Bill Noll, an Alaska delegate whose daughter got pregnant at a young age and kept the baby, told The Times’s Ashley Parker.

Even as they push Sarah Barracuda as the glamorous but tough hunting and fishing mom who can juggle it all — she’s the only nominee, as Fred Thompson bragged in his convention speech, “who knows how to properly field dress a moose” — they rant at reporters who wonder how she will juggle it all and question some of her judgments.

At a Washington, Pa., rally on Saturday, as her two other daughters stood with her, Ms. Palin left Bristol baby-sitting Trig, who has Down syndrome. “Then we have our daughter Bristol,” the new conservative Republican star said. “She’s on the bus with the newborn. ... It’s his naptime, so he is with his big sister on the bus. But we thank them for being here.”

And this while Bristol was still absorbing the shocking news that she was about to turn into tabloid roadkill — and oh, yeah, she’s getting married sooner rather than later.

When you make a gimmicky pick of an unknown, without proper vetting, there’s bound to be a sticky press conference sooner or later. I watched it happen with Ferraro and Quayle, and I watched Mondale and Poppy Bush curdle with embarrassment but plow through.

The political unknowns, of course, want that tantalizing brass ring, so they’re not always completely forthcoming about their skeletons, if they’re lucky enough to be ineptly vetted. This is ironic, since the nominee who gets blindsided with these crises — Did McCain really know that this Palin reality show was about to pop and swallow his convention — is presenting them to voters as the most trustworthy people to inherit the nuclear codes.

Because Ferraro grabbed at the chance, without revealing to Mondale’s incompetent vetting team how damaging some of her husband’s financial imbroglios could be, she went from being a female icon to part of the reason it’s taken a quarter-century for another party to take a chance on a woman.

When McCain gets in trouble, he pulls out the P.O.W. card. Now Republicans are pulling out the sexist card.

Hillary cried sexism to cover up her incompetent management of her campaign, and now Republicans have picked up that trick. But when you use sexism as an across-the-board shield for any legitimate question, you only hurt women. And that’s just another splash of reality.


----------------

And Then There Was One

NYTIMES
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: September 2, 2008

As we emerge from Labor Day, college students are gathering back on campuses not only to start the fall semester, but also, in some cases, to vote for the first time in a presidential election. There is no bigger issue on campuses these days than environment/energy. Going into this election, I thought that — for the first time — we would have a choice between two “green” candidates. That view is no longer operative — and college students (and everyone else) need to understand that.

With his choice of Sarah Palin — the Alaska governor who has advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and does not believe mankind is playing any role in climate change — for vice president, John McCain has completed his makeover from the greenest Republican to run for president to just another representative of big oil.

Given the fact that Senator McCain deliberately avoided voting on all eight attempts to pass a bill extending the vital tax credits and production subsidies to expand our wind and solar industries, and given his support for lowering the gasoline tax in a reckless giveaway that would only promote more gasoline consumption and intensify our addiction to oil, and given his desire to make more oil-drilling, not innovation around renewable energy, the centerpiece of his energy policy — in an effort to mislead voters that support for drilling today would translate into lower prices at the pump today — McCain has forfeited any claim to be a green candidate.

So please, students, when McCain comes to your campus and flashes a few posters of wind turbines and solar panels, ask him why he has been AWOL when it came to Congress supporting these new technologies.

“Back in June, the Republican Party had a round-up,” said Carl Pope, the executive director of the Sierra Club. “One of the unbranded cattle — a wizened old maverick name John McCain — finally got roped. Then they branded him with a big ‘Lazy O’ — George Bush’s brand, where the O stands for oil. No more maverick.

“One of McCain’s last independent policies putting him at odds with Bush was his opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” added Pope, “yet he has now picked a running mate who has opposed holding big oil accountable and been dismissive of alternative energy while focusing her work on more oil drilling in a wildlife refuge and off of our coasts. While the northern edge of her state literally falls into the rising Arctic Ocean, Sarah Palin says, ‘The jury is still out on global warming.’ She’s the one hanging the jury — and John McCain is going to let her.”

Indeed, Palin’s much ballyhooed confrontations with the oil industry have all been about who should get more of the windfall profits, not how to end our addiction.

Barack Obama should be doing more to promote his green agenda, but at least he had the courage, in the heat of a Democratic primary, not to pander to voters by calling for a lifting of the gasoline tax. And while he has come out for a limited expansion of offshore drilling, he has refrained from misleading voters that this is in any way a solution to our energy problems.

I am not against a limited expansion of off-shore drilling now. But it is a complete sideshow. By constantly pounding into voters that his energy focus is to “drill, drill, drill,” McCain is diverting attention from what should be one of the central issues in this election: who has the better plan to promote massive innovation around clean power technologies and energy efficiency.

Why? Because renewable energy technologies — what I call “E.T.” — are going to constitute the next great global industry. They will rival and probably surpass “I.T.” — information technology. The country that spawns the most E.T. companies will enjoy more economic power, strategic advantage and rising standards of living. We need to make sure that is America. Big oil and OPEC want to make sure it is not.

Palin’s nomination for vice president and her desire to allow drilling in the Alaskan wilderness “reminded me of a lunch I had three and half years ago with one of the Russian trade attachés,” global trade consultant Edward Goldberg said to me. “After much wine, this gentleman told me that his country was very pleased that the Bush administration wanted to drill in the Alaskan wilderness. In his opinion, the amount of product one could actually derive from there was negligible in terms of needs. However, it signified that the Bush administration was not planning to do anything to create alternative energy, which of course would threaten the economic growth of Russia.”

So, college students, don’t let anyone tell you that on the issue of green, this election is not important. It is vitally important, and the alternatives could not be more black and white.




I-BBC video link here

Sarah Heath Palin, an Outsider Who Charms

NYTIMES
By WILLIAM YARDLEY
Published: August 29, 2008

Her father shot the grizzly bear whose hide is now draped over the sofa in her office. She, too, hunts and fishes. She runs marathons. She delivered her fifth child during her first term as governor. They call her husband, the reigning champion in the annual Iron Dog snowmachine race, First Dude.

Sarah Palin, Senator John McCain’s surprising selection to be his vice-presidential running mate, took Alaska by surprise, too, not long ago. Though indisputably Alaskan, she rose to prominence by bucking the state’s rigid Republican hierarchy, impressing voters more with gumption, warmth and charm than an established record in government.

It was a combination that dumbfounded her rivals.

“She wouldn’t have articulated one coherent policy and people would just be fawning all over her,” said Andrew Halcro, a Republican turned independent, who along with Tony Knowles, a Democrat, ran against Ms. Palin for governor in 2006. “Tony and I looked at each other and it was, like, this isn’t about policy or Alaska issues, this is about people’s most basic instincts: ‘I like you, and you make me feel good.’ ”

“You know,” said Mr. Halcro, invoking the Democratic presidential nominee, “that’s kind of like Obama.”

Before Ms. Palin, 44, became Alaska’s first female governor, in 2006, the top line on her political résumé was her tenure as mayor of Wasilla, a growing suburb of Anchorage with fewer than 7,000 residents. But even before a wide-ranging federal investigation began rattling through the Republican-controlled State Legislature over lawmakers’ links to an oil services company, Ms. Palin jumped into the governor’s race as an outsider calling for reform.

She already had challenged the state Republican Party’s chairman, accusing him of abusing his role on a state oil and gas commission to do political work. And by the summer of 2006, Ms. Palin was taking on the governor, Frank H. Murkowski, a Republican lion of Alaska politics whose bluster and closed-door dealing had finally worn thin in the state.

Ms. Palin (pronounced PAY-lin), youthful and sympathetic with voters but bluntly critical of her party’s leadership, said state government was broken, that it needed to be transparent and responsive. Stunningly, she won in a landslide, trouncing Mr. Murkowski by more than 30 points in the Republican primary that summer and rolling through the general election.

Defying Expectations

Now, after barely 20 months in office in a state that has rarely played much of a role in national politics, Ms. Palin is again challenging expectations, including those of her own party.

“Did I wake up in a parallel universe?” said Mr. Halcro, who writes a blog that is frequently critical of the governor. “I am absolutely shocked.”

Whatever similarities Ms. Palin and Senator Barack Obama may have in personal appeal, they seem to have little else in common. She is a conservative Protestant and has also been a member since 2006 of Feminists for Life, an anti-abortion group. She has supported the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, alongside evolution.

She is a member of the National Rifle Association, and has said Alaska’s economic future depends on aggressively extracting its vast natural resources, from oil to natural gas and minerals.

Ms. Palin said she supported Alaska’s decision to amend its Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. But she used her first veto as governor to block a bill that would have prohibited the state from granting health benefits to same-sex partners of public employees. Ms. Palin said she vetoed the bill because it was unconstitutional, but raised the possibility of amending the state Constitution so the ban could pass muster.

“I don’t think a Hillary person would ever move to her, based on the issues,” said Jean Craciun, a strategic research and planning consultant in Alaska who has done political polling for Democrats and Republicans. “I don’t think before today I would have ever heard someone call her a feminist.”

This month, Ms. Palin issued a last-minute statement of opposition to a ballot measure that would have provided added protections for salmon from potential contamination from mining, an action seen as crucial to its defeat. Her intense pursuit of a pipeline to deliver natural gas from the North Slope of Alaska to market in the Lower 48 led to what her administration has claimed as a major triumph: the Legislature this summer approved her plan to give a $500 million subsidy to TransCanada, a Canadian company, to help build the project.

The State Senate president, Lyda Green, a Republican who is also from Wasilla, has repeatedly sparred with Ms. Palin in the 20 months since she became governor. Like Mr. Halcro, Ms. Green called the governor’s economic policies “liberal,” and said, “I’d have concerns that she’d have the same negative impact on the nation that she has on Alaska.”

Ms. Green disagreed with the governor’s decision to award a license and $500 million in subsidies to the Canadian company, saying there was no guarantee that even with the subsidies a gas pipeline would be built.

Ms. Green said the governor was difficult for her to deal with, a state of affairs she traces to Ms. Green’s decision to remain neutral in Ms. Palin’s race against former Governor Murkowski.

“There was some resentment there that some of us didn’t come out and support her during the primary, and it never really got any better,” Ms. Green said. “I found that if you disagreed with her or tried to amend or change something, that was sort of off-limits. She did not like being told no or to change it.”

Commitment to Pipeline

Rebuffing criticism of the pipeline subsidy, Ms. Palin has cast the pipeline as a way for Alaska to “end our dependence on foreign oil.” She has said she hopes the pipeline effort will show that Alaska can contribute to a new energy economy, rather than be known as the state that receives more per capita federal spending than any other.

Critics in the state complained that Ms. Palin had undercut her clean-government image by appointing as her chief adviser on the pipeline a former lobbyist for TransCanada. The adviser, Marty Rutherford, her deputy commissioner of natural resources, earned about $40,000 lobbying the state government for a TransCanada subsidiary in 2003.

Asked recently whether Mr. Rutherford’s past work for TransCanada presented a conflict of interest, Ms. Palin told The Anchorage Daily News, “Going on five years later, no.”

One of her most significant accomplishments as governor was passing a major tax increase on state oil production, angering oil companies but raising billions of dollars in new revenue. She said the oil companies had previously bribed legislators to keep the taxes low. She subsequently championed legislation that would give some of that money back to Alaskans: Soon, every Alaskan will receive a $1,200 check.

Appointed in 2003 to the state board that settles drilling disputes, the Alaskan Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, she became an outspoken critic of one of her fellow commissioners, Randy Ruedrich, for soliciting political contributions from the oil industry in his capacity as chairman of the state’s Republican Party.

Ms. Palin’s introduction to a national audience comes as little good news has come out of Republican politics in Alaska. The same corruption investigation that was brewing when she ran for office in 2006 has led to the convictions of three Republican state lawmakers, charges against still more and, most recently, the indictment of the most established and revered Alaska politician of all, Senator Ted Stevens.

The continuing trouble has made Ms. Palin’s calls for reform appear all the more prescient, yet she now is facing an investigation herself. The Republican-controlled Legislature has hired an independent investigator to determine whether Ms. Palin improperly pressured the former state public safety commissioner to resign this year.

The former commissioner, Walt Monegan, has said he felt pressure from Ms. Palin’s administration, and her husband, Todd, to fire a state trooper, Mike Wooten, who was going through a bitter divorce with the governor’s sister. The trooper was not fired.

Mr. Monegan told The Anchorage Daily News that Mr. Palin had showed him some of the findings of a private investigator the family had hired and accused the trooper of a variety of misdeeds, including drunken driving and child abuse.

Mr. Palin told the newspaper he feared for his wife’s safety and said Trooper Wooten had made threats against her and her family. The governor has acknowledged inquiries by her staff to the Public Safety Department but said she played no role in them. To demonstrate she welcomed the inquiry, Mrs. Palin asked the state attorney general to look into the accusations as well.

Born on Feb. 11, 1964, in Sandpoint, Idaho, Sarah Heath Palin was still an infant when her parents moved the family to Skagway, in southeast Alaska, after accepting teaching positions there. The family moved to Wasilla, a small, conservative and growing suburb of Anchorage where, as Mr. McCain noted, Ms. Palin was a “standout high school point guard.”

The governor met her husband in high school, and she was later voted “Miss Wasilla” in a local beauty contest. In 1987, she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho. A year later, she and Mr. Palin eloped.

The governor said Friday that she “never really set out to be involved in public affairs, much less to run for this office,” referring to the vice presidency, but she rose quickly once she entered political life. “A P.T.A. mom who got involved,” is how the current mayor of Wasilla, Dianne M. Keller, described Ms. Palin.

She was elected to the Wasilla City Council in 1992, then ran for mayor in 1996, she has said, because she was concerned that revenue from a new sales tax would not be spent wisely. She served two terms, through 2002.

As mayor, she oversaw the Police Department, which has 25 officers, and the city’s public works projects. Garbage collection is done by private companies, and a borough government oversees firefighting and public schools.

“This is really rural America,” said the deputy city clerk, Jamie Newman, who added that town residents were still reeling from the news that the woman who just six years ago served as their mayor could now be vice president of the United States. “Frankly, everyone is in shock.”

Ms. Keller said that Ms. Palin had three major achievements as mayor: She cut property taxes, increased the city sales tax by half a percent to support construction of an indoor ice rink and sports complex, and put more money into public safety, winning a grant to build a police dispatch center in town.

Although she would later criticize Congressional earmarks like Alaska’s infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” proposed for the town of Ketchikan at a cost of about $400 million, as mayor she began the practice of making annual trips to Washington to press for them on behalf of their town.

A Fresh Family Tableau

Ms. Palin’s family presents Mr. McCain, who turned 72 on Friday, with fresh and wholesome campaign imagery. It also presents some potentially delicate issues. Mr. Palin, in addition to being a champion snowmobile racer, is an oil production operator on the North Slope, working for BP, a company that has had to make major repairs since a spill on the slope temporarily shut down production there in 2006.

In addition to Ms. Palin’s $125,000 state salary, Mr. Palin earned $93,000 last year running his own commercial fishing business and working part-time at BP’s oil production facility, according to her public financial disclosure reports.

Although Ms. Palin once said that her husband would quit his job at BP if she were elected governor, she later backed away from that. He took a leave from the company after she won, but went back to work there last year, saying his family needed the money. And the governor now says that because Mr. Palin is not in management, it poses no conflict with her own dealings with the petroleum industry, a major force in Alaska’s politics and economy.

Mr. Palin, who is part Yu’pik Eskimo, also received a few hundred dollars in dividends as a shareholder in two benefit corporations representing Alaskan Natives and $10,500 from the Iron Dog snowmobile race, which he has won several times. The Palins reported no debts other than the mortgage on their home.

The couple have five children — Track, 19; Bristol, 17; Willow, 14; Piper, 7; and Trig, 4 months. Track joined the Army last year, a fact Ms. Palin mentioned in her introduction to the Republican ticket on Friday. Trig, who was born in April, has Down syndrome, which Ms. Palin seemed to allude to only obliquely on Friday, after she described him as a “beautiful baby boy” then shifted from there to her selection as Mr. McCain’s running mate.

“Some of life’s greatest opportunities,” the governor said, “come unexpectedly.”

Ms. Palin and her husband knew during her pregnancy that there were complications, though the boy’s condition was not revealed publicly until after he was born. Anti-abortion groups have praised Ms. Palin and her family.

“It speaks volumes about her personally and about how she walked her talk,” said Serrin M. Foster, president of Feminists for Life, an anti-abortion group.

Three days after giving birth, Ms. Palin was back at work.




Background: so who was correct in their predictions? 
I-BBC on Republican contenders:
  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7493849.stm
NYTIMES' ideas for Vice-Presidential running-mates...
another idea,
from the CT POST...




C A N D I D A T E S  
Clips from Al Smith dinner via I-BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7675927.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7675935.stm




Give Us More Debate
Hartford Courant editorial
August 12, 2008

So far, Sen. Barack Obama's performance in debates with Sen. John McCain has been a gross disappointment. Largely because there haven't been any.

Back in May, an adviser to Mr. McCain's campaign invited Mr. Obama to a series of town-meeting-style appearances during the summer to debate the issues. Mr. Obama, then in a pitched battle with Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, seemed enthusiastic. "I think that's a great idea," he said.

After clinching the nomination in June, however, the Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee has neglected to take Mr. McCain up on his invitation.

Early this month, Mr. Obama appeared to show his hand: In a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, his campaign committed to the standard three-debate format with Mr. McCain this fall. A spokeswoman for Mr. Obama's campaign declined to shut the door on more debates, but his advisers admit that, with Mr. Obama emerging as the front-runner, he's reluctant to give his opponent more of a nationwide forum.

Mr. Obama's vault to prominence on the national stage has been remarkable. His intellect and eloquence combined with his repeated portrayals of himself last spring as a candidate of change generated considerable excitement.

Lately, however, his commitment to reform has started to look a little thin. Last month, Mr. Obama, who has proved to be a prodigious fundraiser, went back on a promise to accept public financing for his general election campaign.

We urge Mr. Obama to engage Mr. McCain in more debates. Sure, there's a political risk. But when candidates for nationwide office engage in robust debate, Americans are the winners.





D E M O C R A T I C   T I C K E T   2 0 0 8


DEMOCRATS fly to Athens for their closing ceremony - was it "faux" Parthanon?  At Mile High Stadium, Vice Presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden (l.) reads his teleprompter without distance glasses, as Presidential candidate, Senator Barak Obama might be amused by this difficulty.  Question:  where is Senator Biden's water bottle?  Answer: with his glasses.


A Speech to the Delegates
NYTIMES
By DAVID BROOKS
Published: August 29, 2008

DENVER

My fellow Americans, it is an honor to address the Democratic National Convention at this defining moment in history. We stand at a crossroads at a pivot point, near a fork in the road on the edge of a precipice in the midst of the most consequential election since last year’s “American Idol.”

One path before us leads to the past, and the extinction of the human race. The other path leads to the future, when we will all be dead. We must choose wisely.

We must close the book on the bleeding wounds of the old politics of division and sail our ship up a mountain of hope and plant our flag on the sunrise of a thousand tomorrows with an American promise that will never die! For this election isn’t about the past or the present, or even the pluperfect conditional. It’s about the future, and Barack Obama loves the future because that’s where all his accomplishments are.

We meet today to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans, a generation that came of age amidst iced chais and mocha strawberry Frappuccinos®, a generation with a historical memory that doesn’t extend back past Coke Zero.

We meet today to heal the divisions that have torn this country. For we are all one country and one American family, whether we are caring and thoughtful Democrats or hate-filled and war-crazed Republicans. We must bring together left and right, marinara and carbonara, John and Elizabeth Edwards. On United we stand, on US Airways, there’s a 25-minute delay.

Ladies and gentleman, I never expected to be speaking before you today. Like so many of our speakers at this convention, I come from a hard-working, middle-class family. I was leading a miserable little life, but, nevertheless, overcame great odds to live the American Dream. My great-grandfather fought in Patton’s Army, along with Barack Obama’s great-grand uncles’ fourth cousin once removed.

As a child, I was abandoned by my parents and lived with a colony of ants. We didn’t have much in the way of material possession, but we did have each other and the ability to carry far more than our own body weights. When I was young, I was temporarily paralyzed in a horrible anteater accident, but I never gave up my dream: the dream of speaking at a national political convention so my speech could be talked over by Wolf Blitzer and a gang of pundits.

And today we Democrats meet in Denver, a suburb of Boulder, a city whose motto is, “A Taxi? You Must be Dreaming.”

And in Denver, we Democrats showed America that we have cute daughters who will someday provide us with prestigious car-window stickers. We heard Hillary Clinton’s ringing endorsement of “the weak-looking thin guy who’s bound to lose.”

We heard from Joe Biden, whose 643 years in the Senate make him uniquely qualified to talk to the middle class, whose family has been riding the Acela and before that the Metroliner for generations, who has been given a lifetime ban from the quiet car and who is himself a verbal train wreck waiting to happen.

We got to know Barack and Michelle Obama, two tall, thin, rich, beautiful people who don’t perspire, but who nonetheless feel compassion for their squatter and smellier fellow citizens. We know that Barack could have gone to a prestigious law firm, like his big donors in the luxury boxes, but he chose to put his ego aside to become a professional politician, president of the United States and redeemer of the human race. We heard about his time as a community organizer, the three most fulfilling months of his life.

We were thrilled by his speech in front of the Greek columns, which were conscientiously recycled from the concert, “Yanni, Live at the Acropolis.” We were honored by his pledge, that if elected president, he will serve at least four months before running for higher office. We were moved by his campaign slogan, “Vote Obama: He’s better than you’ll ever be.” We were inspired by dozens of Democratic senators who declared their lifelong love of John McCain before denouncing him as a reactionary opportunist who would destroy the country.

No, this country cannot afford to elect John Bushmccain. Under Republican rule, locusts have stripped the land, adults wear crocs in public and M&M’s have lost their flavor. We must instead ride to the uplands of hope!

For as Barack Obama suggested Thursday night, wherever there is a president who needs to tap our natural-gas reserves, I’ll be there. Wherever there is a need for a capital-gains readjustment for targeted small businesses, I’ll be there. Wherever there is a president committed to direct diplomacy with nuclear proliferators, I’ll be there, too! God bless the Democrats, and God Bless America!

Mr. Obama’s Party
NYTIMES editorial
Published: August 29, 2008
 
One test of a presidential candidate’s strength, and often his best shot at winning, is how much he can mold his party in his image and rally it around a powerful argument for his election. Barack Obama left Denver having made significant progress on both fronts.

The Democratic Party today is different from the one that lost the last two presidential elections. It is bigger, younger and less visibly linked to traditional Democratic interest groups.

Mr. Obama long ago proved his skills as an orator. He went further on Thursday night, using his acceptance speech to add detail to his promises of hope and showcase a new theme that could find resonance with Democrats, new and old, and a broader range of Americans.

Government, Mr. Obama argued, cannot solve all of the country’s problems. But he said it has basic responsibilities to do what individual Americans cannot do themselves — “protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.”

He said that government had failed in those duties under President Bush.

He tied his opponent, John McCain, tightly to Mr. Bush and to an “old, discredited Republican philosophy — give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else.” He said what “that really means is you’re on your own.”

Mr. Obama promised to rewrite Mr. Bush’s tax code to restore fairness to working people and take away economy-busting breaks for the wealthiest Americans. He promised universal health insurance. He offered a grand, perhaps grandiose, vision of ending America’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil in a decade.

And he challenged Mr. McCain’s absurd charge that because Mr. Obama opposed the war in Iraq, he will leave America defenseless. “We are the party of Roosevelt,” he said. “We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country.”

The party rallying around Mr. Obama in Denver looked noticeably different. Part of that is real: his campaign’s unprecedented registration drives have brought many new voters into the party and, we hope, permanently into the democratic process as a whole.

Part, we suspect, was stage management. There was little display in the convention hall, and even less in prime-time broadcasts, of the placards of the teachers’ and service workers’ unions, of the National Abortion Rights Action League and the Sierra Club.

That reflected the Obama campaign’s sound analysis that American voters mistrust interest groups — except their own — and its brash conviction that Mr. Obama’s drawing power is so strong that they can win without giving these groups prominence.

Whether this is all visuals — or the start of a new brand of politics — is hard to tell. We have noted too much tactical triangulation in Mr. Obama’s campaign. He has dropped some of the vital themes of his early candidacy, including his withering criticism of Mr. Bush’s abuses of power, and he wavered on illegal wiretapping.

Mr. Obama’s strategists believe their route to victory lies in the careful selection of battleground states, and in the vast expansion of their base of voters. That won the primaries, but he has to repeat that performance on a far larger stage. The bulk of the voters his team is registering are younger, first-time voters and minority voters whose turnout is always dubious.

We are skeptical of slogans, but there is a refreshing audacity — another of Mr. Obama’s favorite words — in the strategy that he and his team have chosen.


27 August 2008

By Matt Frei
BBC News, Denver

Washington diary: Anxious Democrats
If you had any doubts that American party conventions were about ritual, you should talk to my friend who found herself in the Ladies as the gavel went down on the Denver proceedings.

Members of the American GI Forum present the colours during day two of the Democratic Convention, 26 Aug 2008
US party conventions are the scene of patriotism and ritual

As she and her colleagues obeyed the calls of nature, the Star Spangled Banner piped out of the loudspeakers. Despite being inconvenienced in the convenience, the Americans immediately obeyed that other call, the one to honour the flag.

The Ladies on the second floor of the Pepsi Center hummed to the sound of ladies singing along to the National Anthem and holding their hand over their heart. My friend does not know whether this show of patriotism extended into the privacy of the cubicles but she did point out that what she witnessed would never have happened in the UK.

I wonder if the Republicans, who have set up their own war room here in the Mile High City, were taking note.

They have, after all, questioned not just the patriotism of Barack Obama, but his American identity.

The first day of the convention was carefully choreographed to allay voters' fears that despite his exotic name and complicated upbringing, Mr Obama was as American as the next citizen in this country of immigrants.

If the symbolism can't be hammered home during convention week, when can it?

His wife, Michelle Obama, was almost in tears when she pleaded with the cameras that she loved America.

Her family story, delivered with an inevitable hint of treacle, was the iconic journey from wholesome poverty to wholesome public service. The gorgeous daughters were on stage to prove the point.

And just before you thought you had witnessed a rerun of the Cosby Show, the candidate himself popped up on a video link from Kansas City, Missouri, surrounded by a regular family of American voters, all white.

It looked a little ham-fisted but then this is a campaign and if the symbolism can't be hammered home during convention week, when can it?

Democratic royalty

While Michelle Obama reintroduced her family as regular American folks, the gravelly baritone of a terminally-ill Ted Kennedy was there to illustrate how extraordinary the ordinary Obamas are.

The Kennedy clan is Democratic royalty. Like Germany's Hohenzollerns, Austria's Habsburgs or Britain's Windsors, they even display the predominant gene of royalty. In the Kennedys' case these are square jaws, Lego-sized teeth and a broad forehead. And, like all royalty, they guard their legacy jealously.

Senator Edward Kennedy addresses the convention, 25 Aug 2008
The Kennedy clan sprinkled political stardust on the Obama family

On Monday night, the last surviving member of the ill-fated quad of Kennedy brothers passed the family torch to the Obamas.

He did so right over the heads of the people who had originally expected to inherit the torch, the Clintons.

What added insult to injury was that Caroline Kennedy, the former president's daughter, was in charge of the committee to find a suitable vice-president and Hillary was, it seems, not even on her short list.

Sprinkled with Kennedy stardust, buoyed by Michelle Obama's slick performance and reassured by the rhetorical gift of the candidate himself, the Democrats should be in a Mile High Club of euphoria.

After all, the winds of change should be blowing against the Republicans and their president. But, everywhere you look in Denver, you find nail-biting delegates, nervous surrogates, defensive campaign staffers.

The rest of the world thinks that Mr Obama will be America's 44th president but, at home, the Democrats are the worried party.

To some extent, this is their traditional role. Like Woody Allen in one of his earlier movies, the Democrats excel at fretting, agonising, navel gazing and over-analysing.

The opinion polls, which have Mr Obama and his Republican rival John McCain neck-and-neck, prove that they have reason to worry.

The senator from Illinois has had an arid summer. He needs to have a bountiful harvest season.

The ghost of Clinton

But the other reason for anxiety is the Lady who broods in the wings. Of late, Hillary and Bill Clinton have not uttered a single public word of apostasy. They are toeing the line, gritting their teeth and swallowing their pride.

A supporter marches for Hillary Clinton in Denver, 26 Aug
Many Democrats are finding it hard to let go of their hopes for Mrs Clinton

They are also economical with their enthusiasm. I am told that senior Clinton people aren't even sticking around for Obama's big stadium speech on Thursday. This is damning with faint praise.

Moreover, such was the Clintons' hold over the party that the faithful almost expect them to lash out and derail the meticulous choreography. Like the children of over-bearing parents, they expect wrath, even if there's no evidence of it.

Hillary Clinton has become Lady Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited, a living reminder of the perils of abandoning orthodoxy - the orthodoxy of a Clinton candidacy - and a permanent finger on the delicate bruise of guilt and self-doubt, that this may turn out to be a mistake.

The Republicans are doing their best to press on the wound.

As the Wall Street Journal asked: How could the Democrats choose a running mate - Joe Biden - who garnered no more than 9,000 votes and ignore one who harvested 18 million during the primary season?

The ghost of Clinton needs to be exorcised from the convention and that is something that only Hillary and Bill can do. The ritual of convention alone is not enough.



The 21st-Century Man
NYTIMES
By DAVID BROOKS
Published: August 25, 2008
 

DENVER

I flew into the airport here on Sunday and the pilot could barely land because of the fog of bad advice. Democrats are nervous because Barack Obama’s polling lead has evaporated. And when Democrats are nervous, all the Santa Monica Machiavellis emerge from their fund-raisers offering words of wisdom. And the subtext of the advice being offered this year is that Barack Obama should really be someone else.

Some sages are saying that Obama needs to get specific. He needs to lay out concrete plans and legislative agendas. Apparently, having nominated Obama, they really want a replay of the Dukakis campaign.

Others say he needs to describe his experience in government better, to make Americans comfortable with him as chief executive. Apparently, having nominated Obama, they want him to run as Chris Dodd.

Still others say he needs to be a scrappy class warrior defending the middle class against the depredations of the rich overlords with their multiple homes. Apparently, for these people it wasn’t enough that they got to live through Al Gore’s “people versus the powerful” campaign just once. They want to relive the joy again and again.

And yet there are still others who say Obama needs to get bare-knuckled. He needs to hammer McCain above the belt and below. Apparently, these people have decided that having nominated Obama, the party needs to be led by Michael Moore.

The words fly, the quotes are given, campaign aides are pulled aside. It’s like a Greatest Misses compilation of every Democratic campaign idea ever conceived.

Obama is already an elusive Rorschach test candidate, and now he’s being pulled by his party in a thousand directions. The Democrats are in danger of doing to Obama what they did to their last two nominees: burying authentic individuals under a layer of prefab themes.

Obama’s chief problem in this campaign is that large numbers of voters still don’t know who he is. They are having trouble putting him into one of the categories they use to grasp those they have not met.

And now he has to define himself amid the phantasmagorical vapors of his own party: the ghosts of the Kerry campaign, the overshadowing magic of the Kennedys and the ego-opera that perpetually surrounds the Clintons.

Of course, the Obama campaign has been here before. Just about a year ago, Obama was stagnant in the polls. His supporters were nervous and full of advice. And in the crowning moment of his whole race, Obama shut them out. He turned his back on the universe of geniuses and stayed true to his core identity.

At the core, Obama’s best message has always been this: He is unconnected with the tired old fights that constrict our politics. He is in tune with a new era. He has very little experience but a lot of potential. He does not have big achievements, but he is authentically the sort of person who emerges in a multicultural, globalized age. He is therefore naturally in step with the problems that will confront us in the years to come.

So as I’m trying to measure the effectiveness of this convention, I’ll be jotting down a little minus mark every time I hear a theme that muddies that image. I’ll jot down a minus every time I hear the old class conflict, and the old culture war themes. I’ll jot down a minus when I see the old Bush obsession rearing its head, which is not part of his natural persona. I’ll write a demerit every time I hear the rich played off against the poor, undercutting Obama’s One America dream.

I’ll put a plus down every time a speaker says that McCain is a good man who happens to be out of step with the times. I’ll put a plus down every time a speaker says that a multipolar world demands a softer international touch. I’ll put a plus down when a speaker says the old free market policies worked fine in the 20th century, but no longer seem to be working today. These are arguments that reinforce Obama’s identity as a 21st-century man.

And I have to say, during the first night of the convention, the pluses far outweighed the minuses. In spirit, the night extended Obama’s 2004 convention speech. The overarching theme was intrinsic to the man, unity instead of division, something new instead of conflicts that are old. His sister hit this theme forcefully. Jesse Jackson Jr. made the generational-change argument explicitly, paying tribute to the fights of the past while describing the more subtle challenges of the present. Michelle Obama was short on biographical details, but long on the idealism, which is at the heart of Obama’s appeal.

Obama may yet recover his core focus. Now he has to preserve it against his most terrifying foes: the “experts” in his own party.


Democrats Link Past, Present As Convention Opens In Denver; Kennedy, Michelle Obama call for unity as nominee-in-waiting prepares for election 
DAY
By David Espo    
Published on 8/26/2008
 


Denver - Ailing and aging, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy issued a ringing summons to fellow Democrats to rally behind Barack Obama's pioneering quest for the White House Monday night in a poignant opening to a party convention in search of unity for the fall campaign.

”Barack will finally bring the change we need,” seconded Obama's wife, Michelle, casting her husband - bidding to become the first black president - as a leader with classic American values.

She pledged he would end the war in Iraq, revise a sputtering economy and extend health care to all.  Democrats opened their four-day convention in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains as polls underscored the closeness of the race with Republican John McCain. And there was no underestimating the challenges confronting Obama.  He faces lingering divisions from a fierce battle with Hillary Rodham Clinton for the nomination, tough ads by McCain and his Republican allies, and a reminder that racism, too, could play a role.

”There are people who are not going to vote for him because he's black,” said James Hoffa, president of the Teamsters union. “And we've got to hope that we can educate people to put aside their racism and to put their own interests No. 1.” He spoke in an Associated Press interview.

Kennedy and Obama's wife were the bookends of an evening that left the delegates cheering, one representing the party's past, the other its present.

”The work begins anew, the hope rises again and the dream lives on,” Kennedy said in a strong voice, reprising the final line of a memorable 1980 speech that brought a different convention to its feet. The senator has been undergoing treatment for a malignant brain tumor.

Obama's wife said it was time to “stop doubting and start dreaming.

Moments later, Obama appeared via satellite from Missouri, drawing cheers from delegates.  Convention planners hoped the prime time address by Obama's wife would begin the work of casting the Illinois senator as a leader with classic American values.

Among them, she said: “that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do, that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them.”

The convention's opening gavel fell with Obama and Clinton still struggling to work out the choreography for the formal roll call of the states that will make him the party nominee.  Michelle Obama included a tribute to her husband's former rival, crediting her with having placed “18 million cracks in the glass ceiling” that constrains women's ambitions.  (NOTE:  Isn't that the number of votes Hillary received during the primaries?)

”There is no doubt in anyone's mind that this is Barack Obama's convention,” the former first lady told reporters early in the day. And yet, she said, some of her delegates “feel an obligation to the people who sent them here” and would vote for her.

Kennedy's speech was an implicit appeal to Clinton's delegates - and the 18 million voters who supported her in the primaries - to swing behind Obama.

He said the country can meet its challenges with Obama. “Yes we can, yes we will,” he said, echoing the presidential candidate's own signature refrain.

In one of their first orders of business, delegates ratified a party platform tailored to Obama's specifications. It backs “complete redeployment within 16 months from Iraq,” as well as health care for all, a new economic stimulus package and higher taxes on families earning over $250,000 a year.

”The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right,” it said.

As the delegates took their seats in the Pepsi Center, Obama campaigned in Iowa, the first in a string of swing states he is visiting en route to Colorado.  Obama delivers his acceptance speech on Thursday at a football stadium, before a crowd likely to total 75,000 or more. Then he and Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, his vice presidential running mate, depart for the fall campaign.

While the White House is the biggest prize of the election year, prominent Democrats expressed optimism in Associated Press interviews about major gains in the fall in races for the House and Senate.  Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said 70 or more House seats are competitive, the majority of them currently in Republican hands.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said fashioning a 60-seat, filibuster-proof Senate majority was a stretch. But he added that Democrats lead for five seats currently in Republican hands, and several others are competitive.  Howard Dean, the party chairman, rapped the opening gavel precisely on schedule at 3 p.m. Mountain Time - before only a smattering of delegates.

”We are ready to compete in all 50 states in November,” he said, even though Obama has already written off large portions of the South and Mountain West.  Schumer and Van Hollen said only a small fraction of Clinton's delegates remained unreconciled to Obama's triumph in the bruising primaries of the winter and spring.

Perhaps so, but they were vocal about it, and officials said one of the issues under discussion was whether to permit a noisy floor demonstration by Clinton's supporters when the former first lady's name is placed in nomination on Wednesday night.  Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the eldest child of the late Robert F. Kennedy and a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, said the animosity that some Clinton delegates feel toward Obama is worsening. “There's a moment that you want to enjoy your bitterness,” she said, although she emphasized that she is supporting Obama.

Obama told reporters that his former rival and her husband, former President Clinton, “couldn't have been more clear” in their support for his candidacy.  But the sniping was impossible to miss.

”I'm getting a lot of calls and e-mails, especially from women, who are quite upset that she was not vetted (for vice president) even though senator Obama said she was on the short list,” said Lanny Davis, a longtime Clinton loyalist.

All the talk about disunity was grating on some.

”To stay wallowing in all of this is not productive,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

”So we can talk about this forever, or we can talk about how we're going to take our message to the American people, to women all across America, to see the distinctions” between Obama and McCain. 

-------

*

NOTE: these items make you wonder...not the message we would want to send.

Kennedy to appear, may speak at convention 
DAY
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press Writer 

Posted on Aug 25, 11:42 AM EDT

DENVER (AP) -- A cancer-fighting Sen. Edward M. Kennedy prepared to attend, and possibly speak, at the opening day of the Democratic National Convention on Monday as presidential nominee-to-be Barack Obama unleashed a hard-hitting television commercial linking GOP rival John McCain to President Bush.

The ad signaled that the Democrats' gathering would be just as much about skewering McCain as about unifying the fractured party after a protracted primary season that split supporters between Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Kennedy, who is being treated for a malignant brain tumor, is a beloved figure within the party, and the Massachusetts senator's last-minute appearance at the Pepsi Center is a way toward unification as the four-day convention opens amid signs of acrimony between Obama and Clinton delegates.

Kennedy arrived in Denver Sunday night and got a checkup at a local hospital. He plans to attend to watch a video tribute to him and may address the convention if he feels up to it, said a senior Democratic official who talked on the condition of anonymity.

"He's truly humbled by the outpouring of support and wouldn't miss it for anything in the world," said Stephanie Cutter, a Kennedy spokeswoman.

As Democrats put the final touches on opening night, Obama's campaign released an ad featuring images of McCain hugging Bush and the two smiling in spite of tidings of economic woe. It features a parody of the Sam Cooke classic "Wonderful World," which starts off with the line "Don't know much about history." For the ad it's "I'm not up on the economy," playing on McCain's earlier admission that economics wasn't his best subject.

Ending with a photo of Bush patting McCain's back, the spot asks, "Do we really want four more years of the same old tune?"

McCain's campaign also released an ad to play on what it sees as a weakness for Obama: his lack of support among some Clinton backers. That ad features a Clinton supporter who now backs McCain assuring like-minded voters: "A lot of Democrats will vote McCain. It's OK, really!"

Opening night at the Pepsi Center, the main venue for the four-day convention, aimed to tell the Illinois senator's personal story to the millions of voters nationwide who will begin tuning in to the presidential campaign. Obama's wife, Michelle, was the evening's keynote speaker.

Obama's campaign dismissed concerns about the impact of die-hard Clinton supporters on the choreographed show of unity. Behind the scenes, however, polls showed significant Clinton support still being denied to Obama, and pro-Clinton demonstrations at offsite venues were creating a different kind of anticipation. Clinton has backed Obama and was scheduled to speak Tuesday night.

"There are a lot of delegates here who had passionate choices in an extended primary season," Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs told "Today" on NBC. "We feel confident that if we can demonstrate a record of change, a record of vision ... a team of Barack Obama and Joe Biden can convince Democrats, Republicans and independents to support a ticket of change in November."

Most Democratic delegates were putting the rough-and-tumble primary contest behind them and focusing on electing the first black presidential nominee of a major political party. The night was turned over to Michelle Obama, the candidate's wife of nearly 16 years, to allow the potential first lady a prime-time speech meant to serve a dual purpose: humanize Obama and show up her own critics before her largest audience yet.

"Our stories are the quintessential American stories," she said in an interview CNN aired Monday. "I am here because of the opportunities that my father had, that my mother had. You know, we are who Americans were supposed to be."

With Democrats and convention delegates streaming to the Mile High City, party officials worked to assure a harmonious week.

Biden headed by plane to Denver on Monday after making an unannounced visit to the Amtrak train station in Wilmington, Del, that he has used for years to commute to Washington and his day job in the Senate.

"These guys have been my family," said Biden as he greeted vendors and travelers. Biden has taken Amtrak during his 35 years in the Senate. He visited the station with his wife, Jill, and his security detail.

Biden said his Wednesday night convention speech "is all ready."

At some point during the week, Clinton was expected to release the delegates she won in primaries and caucuses and encourage them to support her former rival.

On Sunday, by unanimous vote, the party's credentials committee restored full voting rights to delegates from Florida and Michigan. The party had stripped both states of their convention voting rights for holding primaries before the rules said they could. The new committee vote was taken at Obama's behest, and Democrats hope the goodwill gesture will help improve their standing in two important states.

Obama, slowly making his way to Denver via a tour of battleground states, said Sunday that one of his goals is for voters to come away from the convention thinking he is one of them. His uncommon name and family background still concern some voters.

"I think what you'll conclude is, 'He's sort of like us,'" Obama said in Eau Claire, Wis. "'He comes from a middle-class background. He went to school on scholarships. He had to pay off student loans. He and his wife had to worry about child care. They had to figure out how to start a college fund for their kids.'"

Obama closes the convention Thursday night when the action shifts to Invesco Field at Mile High stadium, where the 47-year-old, first-term senator will give his speech accepting the nomination from the 50-yard line. He said Sunday he was "still tooling around with my speech a little bit."

He is scheduled to campaign Monday in Iowa.

McCain, meanwhile, wasn't disappearing from the campaign trail entirely. He was using an appearance Monday on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and newspaper interviews to stay in touch with voters. And, there's continued interest in his choice of a running mate.

Besides Michelle Obama, other speakers Monday night include Barack Obama's sister, Maya Soetero-Ng, and Craig Robinson, his brother-in-law. The schedule also includes former Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, a Republican moderate who broke ranks with his party this month and endorsed Obama.


Blitzer: Democrats kick off major marketing in Denver
By Wolf Blitzer , CNN Anchor (Sunday, August 24, 2008)
    
DENVER, Colorado (CNN) -- And now the selling begins.  CNN's Wolf Blitzer says Democrats need to sell Barack Obama to voters.

The Democrats need to do some major marketing at their party convention in Denver, Colorado.  First and foremost, they need to sell Sen. Barack Obama. They need to convince American voters that he's the right man to lead the country.  That sales campaign kicks off Monday night with the focus on Obama's personal story. It is an amazing success story that will be told on the big screen inside the Pepsi Center.

The video, we are told, will be dramatic and highly produced, including some powerful music. And it will be amplified by his wife, Michelle, who speaks Monday night.  Barack Obama's sister Maya Soetero-Ng, and Michelle's brother, Craig Robinson, will also speak.

It also will be an emotional night as the Democrats pay tribute to Sen. Ted Kennedy, who has brain cancer.

Beyond the personal and the emotional, the sales campaign moves to more substance Tuesday night with the focus on issue No. 1: the economy. The Democrats are calling their theme that night "Renewing America's Promise."

Sen. Hillary Clinton will be the headline prime-time speaker. This will be a critically important speech because so many of her supporters remain unconvinced about Obama. The tone she sets and the words she utters will send out a powerful message.

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner will deliver the keynote address that night. He is running for the U.S. Senate to succeed John Warner (no relation).  There's a history to these speeches. Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democrats' last convention, and we know where he wound up.

The focus shifts to national security and foreign policy Wednesday night in what the Democrats are calling "Securing America's Future."

Sen. Joe Biden, the vice presidential nominee, will deliver the big speech. He will speak and make the case for Obama and, perhaps even more important, make the case against McCain.  Knowing Biden as I do, this will be a feisty moment.

Former President Clinton will weigh in that night with a major speech of his own. That also should be a moment.

Finally, the festivities move to INVESCO Field at Mile High Stadium for the biggest night of the week: when Obama accepts his party's nomination.  About 80,000 people will fill the stadium. Tens of millions will be watching at home. No surprise on his theme for the night: "Change You Can Believe In."

That message brought him to the big dance, and he and his team believe that it can get him to the finish line.





Palin rallies tea partiers with anti-tax message
YAHOO
By GLEN JOHNSON, AP Political Writer
April 14, 2010

BOSTON – Sarah Palin rallied the tea party movement near its historical roots with a pre-Tax Day message, telling Washington politicians that government should be working for the people, not the other way around.

Addressing roughly 5,000 people assembled in the morning sunshine near the site of the original Boston Tea Party, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee accused President Barack Obama of overreaching with his $787 billion stimulus program and criticized the administration's health care, student loan and financial regulatory overhauls.

"Is this what their `change' is all about?" Palin asked the crowd on Boston Common. "I want to tell 'em, nah, we'll keep clinging to our Constitution and our guns and religion — and you can keep the change."

With husband Todd looking on, she added: "We need to cut taxes, so that our families can keep more of what they earn and produce and our mom-and-pops then, our small businesses, can reinvest according to our own priorities, and hire more people and let the private sector grow and thrive and prosper."

Palin, who served as Alaska's governor for 2 1/2 years, played to the crowd as she trotted out a trademark line while lobbying for more domestic energy production.

"Yeah, let's drill baby drill, not stall baby stall_ you betcha," she said.

The gathering harkened back to 1773, when American colonists upset about British taxation without government representation threw British tea into the harbor in protest.

"I feel like I'm taking care of my son and daughter and grandchildren's business," said Mary Lou O'Connell, 72, of Duxbury. She listed "deceit" and "gentle corrosion of the political process" as two concerns and toted a sign reading, "Start Deleting Corruption Nov. 2010."

Another attendee, John Arathuzik, 69, of Topsfield, said he had never been especially politically active until he saw the direction of the Obama administration.

"I feel like I can do one of two things: I can certainly vote in November, which I'll do, and I can provide support for the peaceful protest about the direction this country is taking," said Arathuzik, a veteran who clutched a copy of the Constitution distributed by one of the vendors who had set up shop amid locals heading to work and walking their dogs.

A festive mood filled the air. A band played patriotic music, and hawkers sold yellow Gadsden flags emblazoned with the words "Don't Tread on Me" and the image of a rattlesnake.

Notably absent was Sen. Scott Brown, the Republican who in January won the seat held for half a century by liberal icon Edward M. Kennedy.

He cited congressional business, which included hearings about the Iranian nuclear program.

"That's a heck of a lot more important than him being here right now," conservative talk show host Mark Williams told the crowd.

Brown kept the movement at a respectful distance during his campaign last winter, concerned if he gets too close, he risks being aligned with the tea party's more radical followers. Some have questioned the legitimacy of everything from President Barack Obama's U.S. birthplace to his college degree.

The rally was the next-to-last event in the 20-day, 47-city Tea Party Express tour concluding Thursday in Washington.

Palin also helped kick off the tour in Searchlight, Nev., hometown of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democratic target of the movement.


Page last updated at 08:02 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

Hurricane Palin rolls into town
By Kevin Connolly
BBC News, Grand Rapids Michigan

Whatever happens in American politics in the course of the next three years, we will remember this as the day when Hurricane Palin blew through the normally placid streets of Grand Rapids Michigan.

And there are plenty of supporters of Sarah Palin who are hoping we will look back on it as the day when the opening shots of Campaign 2012 were fired.

Officially of course, it was merely the start of the promotional tour for Sarah Palin's memoir Going Rogue - a curious volume which manages to combine folksy recollections of childhood with some pointed score-settling aimed at the hapless spin-doctors who "handled" her during her failed run for the vice-presidency.

But it felt like something much more.

Adoring fans

Not just an early premonition of what a Palin Primary rally might look like in 2012 either - this was one of America's major political players reconnecting with the base which she energises and which in turn energises her.

American history may be littered with politicians who have run more successful campaigns than Mrs Palin and there are certainly plenty who have written better books - but there is something special in the connection between Alaska's former governor and the base which adores her.

The line of a couple of thousand supporters waiting to have her sign their copy of "Going Rogue" snaked up and down the spacious corridors of the Woodland Mall past the premises of such homely businesses as the Red Robin Diner and the Cosmic Candy Company.

They are all perfectly well aware of course that most politicians and pundits in what they call the "liberal elite media" tend to despise Mrs Palin for her lack of political sophistication, her folksiness and her apparently sketchy grasp of how the wider world works.

Teenage fans of Ms Palin
Sarah Palin's fan base includes teenagers

And they do not care - indeed they love her for it.

For them she is the underdog endlessly picked on by sneering commentators on mainstream television and in the big city newspapers.

Local business consultant Mike Crane who was waiting somewhere near the head of the line explained it to me.

"She's one of us," he said simply. "We're hard-working, 9-to-5 Joes and like her we didn't go to the elite universities that other politicians went to. She understands real life and she understands America."

And the America she understands came out in force to greet her in Grand Rapids - one or two women in the crowd knitted placidly as they waited anywhere between 10 and 15 hours for a few seconds of one-on-one time with their heroine.

Several wore "Palin For President" badges. One man sported a T-shirt with a quote from Jefferson about the importance of keeping government small.

There were more women than men, and more people over 45 than under it. The oldest Palinite I met was 82 (she was taking advantage of a massage chair which was for sale in a shop beside the bookstore where Mrs Palin appeared) and the youngest was around 10.

"She's cool," he informed me simply. "Write that down."

She's shown me that I can achieve anything, and be anything I want to be
Nichole Perrine

At the very head of the line we found a group of local teenagers who had waited overnight to make sure they were first to be ushered into the governor's presence.

They must have passed a rather eerie night in the deserted mall with the Christmas decorations winking silently down on them from the high, dark ceilings above.

It was, they assured me, well worth it.

One of them, Nichole Perrine, said Mrs Palin was her hero.

"She's shown me that I can achieve anything, and be anything I want to be," she told me… a characteristic you often hear attributed to Barack Obama, interestingly enough.

When I asked Laura Lomik what she planned to say to Mrs Palin she said: "I'm going to ask her to please run for president in 2012."

When I caught up with the two 19-year-olds afterwards they insisted their brief meetings with the governor had been well worth the wait - there is a kind of magic about her, they confirmed - but they got no further than Oprah Winfrey or Barbara Walters in discovering whether Mrs Palin still has presidential ambitions.

So, let's consider the evidence.

Mrs Palin's book is a little light on ideology and big ideas but that probably does not matter very much in modern America where politicians run on their life stories and their ability to relate it to the lives of voters.

Queues for Ms Palin's book signing
Thousands of people queued up to see Ms Palin

It worked for Barack Obama (although he did throw in a bit of ideology) so there is no reason why it should not work for Sarah Palin.

The book tour too looks a little like a campaign swing - running as it does through key marginal areas, regions of high unemployment and a couple of places (like this bit of Michigan) where any credible Republican contender for the presidency will have to do pretty well.

She is a little coy on the matter herself, but then these are early days and so is everyone else.

She talks of working to support other conservative candidates for office in the 2010 mid-terms when Republicans might do rather well.

And of course as she points out, you can serve the public without holding public office.

Powerful force

Mrs Palin made sure for example that her voice was heard in the national debate on health care - she it was who started the debate over whether or not government rationing of medical budgets might lead to the appointment of "Death Panels".

That startling claim had the White House on the back foot this summer and helped raise conservative morale.

But the most compelling evidence of all that there is plenty more to come from Sarah Palin was in the nature of the crowd she drew here.

Her followers do not merely agree with her, they love her and, while she may alienate other Americans in equal or greater numbers, that makes her a force to be reckoned with.

Whatever other American politicians may say about her, however hard she may be for foreigners to understand and regardless of the pundits, any rival candidate looking at the crowds in Grand Rapids - and the crowds to come - will be envious. And perhaps a little worried.


Obama Administration's Atrocious Decision
Yesterday at 1:39pm

Horrible decision, absolutely horrible. It is devastating for so many of us to hear that the Obama Administration decided that the 9/11 terrorist mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be given a criminal trial in New York. This is an atrocious decision.

Mohammed and his terrorist co-conspirators are responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 Americans. Thousands of American families have suffered through the loss of loved ones because of the disgusting attacks launched against the United States, and now this trial venue adds insult to injury, in addition to compromising our efforts in the War on Terror. Heaven forbid our allies see this decision as a reason to become less likely to support our efforts in the future.

Criminal defense attorneys will now enter into delaying tactics and other methods in the hope of securing some kind of win for their “clients.” The trial will afford Mohammed the opportunity to grandstand and make use of his time in front of the world media to rally his disgusting terrorist cohorts. It will also be an insult to the victims of 9/11, as Mohammed will no doubt use the opportunity to spew his hateful rhetoric in the same neighborhood in which he ruthlessly cut down the lives of so many Americans.

It is crucially important that Americans be made aware that the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks may walk away from this trial without receiving just punishment because of a “hung jury” or from any variety of court room technicalities. If we are stuck with this terrible Obama Administration decision, I, like most Americans, hope that Mohammed and his co-conspirators are convicted. Hang ‘em high.

I wholeheartedly support the survivors and the families of the victims in their appeal to the president regarding this matter. You can read more about it here.

- Sarah Palin



The Pelosi Bill Was Rammed Through on Saturday, But Sunday’s Coming
FACEBOOK
Yesterday at 10:34pm (Alaska time, we assume)

We’ve got to hold on to hope, and we’ve got to fight hard because Congressional action tonight just put America on a path toward an unrecognizable country.

The same government leaders that got us into the mortgage business and the car business are now getting us into the health care business.

Despite Americans’ decisive message last Tuesday that they reject the troubling path this country has been taking, Speaker Pelosi has broken her own promises of transparency to ram a health “care” bill through the House of Representatives just before midnight. Why did she push the 2,000 page bill this weekend? Was she perhaps afraid to give her peers and the constituents for whom she works the chance to actually read this monstrous bill carefully, if at all? Was she concerned that Americans might really digest the details of a bill that the Wall Street Journal has called “the worst piece of post-New Deal legislation ever introduced”?

This out-of-control bureaucratic mess will be disastrous for our economy, our small businesses, and our personal liberty. It will slam businesses at a time when we are at double-digit unemployment rates – the highest we’ve seen in a quarter of a century. This massive new bureaucracy will cost us and our children money we don’t have. It will rob Americans of more of our freedom and further hamper the free market.

Make no mistake: we’re on course to have government commandeer one-sixth of our economy. The people who gave us Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now want to run our health care. Think about that.

All of us who value the sanctity of life are grateful for the success of the pro-life majority in the House this evening in its battle against federal funding of abortion in this bill, but it’s ironic because we were promised that abortion wasn’t covered in the bill to begin with. Our healthy distrust of these government leaders made us look deeper into the bill because unfortunately we knew better than to trust what they were saying. The victory tonight to amend the bill and eliminate that federal funding for abortion was great – because abortion is not health care. Now we can only hope that Rep. Stupak’s amendment will hold in the final bill, though the Democratic leadership has already refused to promise that it won’t be scrapped later.

We had been told there were no “death panels” in the bill either. But look closely at the provision mandating bureaucratic panels that will be calling the shots regarding who will receive government health care.

Look closely at provisions addressing illegal aliens’ health care coverage too.

Those of us who love freedom and believe in open and transparent government can only be dismayed by midnight action on a Saturday. Speaker Pelosi’s promise that Americans would have 72 hours to read the final bill before the vote was just another one of the D.C. establishment’s too-common political ploys. It’s broken promises like this that turn people off to politics and leave them disillusioned about the future of their country.

But despite this late-night maneuvering, many of us were paying close attention tonight. We’ll keep paying close attention. We need to let our legislators in Washington know that they still represent us, and that the majority of Americans are not in favor of the “reform” they are pushing. After all, this is still a country “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We will make our voices heard. It’s on to the Senate now. Our legislators can listen now, or they can hear us in 2010. It’s their choice.


Palin Speaks to Investors in Hong Kong
NYTIMES
By MARK McDONALD

September 24, 2009


HONG KONG — Sarah Palin, in what was billed as her first speech overseas, spoke on Wednesday to Asian bankers, investors and fund managers.

A number of people who heard the speech in a packed hotel ballroom, which was closed to the media, said Mrs. Palin spoke from notes for 90 minutes and that she was articulate, well-prepared and even compelling.

“The speech was wide-ranging, very balanced, and she beat all expectations,” said Doug A. Coulter, head of private equity in the Asia-Pacific region for LGT Capital Partners.

“She didn’t sound at all like a far-right-wing conservative. She seemed to be positioning herself as a libertarian or a small-c conservative,” he said, adding that she mentioned both Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. “She brought up both those names.”

Mrs. Palin said she was speaking as “someone from Main Street U.S.A.,” and she touched on her concerns about oversized federal bailouts and the unsustainable American government deficit. She did not repeat her attack from last month that the Obama administration’s health care proposals would create a “death panel” that would allow federal bureaucrats to decide who is “worthy of health care.”

Cameron Sinclair, another speaker at the event, said Mrs. Palin emphasized the need for a grassroots rebirth of the Republican Party driven by party leaders outside Washington.

A number of attendees thought Mrs. Palin, the former vice presidential candidate, was using the speech to begin to broaden her foreign policy credentials before making a run for the presidency in 2012.

“She’s definitely a serious future presidential candidate, and I understand why she plays so well in middle America,” said Mr. Coulter, a Canadian.

Mrs. Palin was faulted during the campaign last year for her lack of foreign policy experience and expertise. As the governor of Alaska, she said in her own defense, she had a unique insight because “you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska” — a remark that was widely lampooned.

Accompanying Mrs. Palin to Hong Kong was Randy Scheunemann, the former foreign policy adviser to John McCain, who lost the 2008 election to President Obama.

Mrs. Palin did not take questions from the media after the speech, and there was a high degree of security and secrecy around the event. Only invited guests and a handful of employees from CLSA, the brokerage house that sponsored the event, were allowed inside the ballroom.

A CLSA spokeswoman declined to confirm a rumor that Mrs. Palin was paid $300,000 for her Hong Kong appearance.

When she resigned as governor in July, Mrs. Palin cited numerous reasons for stepping down, including more than $500,000 in legal fees that she and her husband, Todd, incurred because of 15 ethics complaints filed against her during her two and a half years in office.

Mr. Coulter said CLSA has a history of inviting keynote speakers who are “newsworthy and potentially controversial.” Other previous speakers at the conference have included Al Gore, Alan Greenspan, Bono and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Mrs. Palin’s speech took place at the Grand Hyatt on the Victoria Harbor waterfront and amid the soaring towers of corporate giants like AIG, HSBC and the Bank of China. Some attendees saw Hong Kong as an auspicious place for her first major international appearance.

Melvin Goodé, a regional marketing consultant, thought Mrs. Palin chose Hong Kong because, he said, it was “a place where things happen and where freedom can be expanded upon.”

“It’s not Beijing or Shanghai,” said Mr. Goodé . “She also mentioned Tibet, Burma and North Korea in the same breath as places where China should be more sensitive and careful about how people are treated. She said it on a human-rights level.”

Mr. Goodé, an African-American who said he did some campaign polling for President Obama, said Mrs. Palin mentioned President Obama three times on Wednesday.

“And there was nothing derogatory in it, no sleight of hand, and believe me, I was listening for that,” he said, adding that Mrs. Palin referred to Mr. Obama as “our president,” with the emphasis on “our.”

Mr. Goodé, a New Yorker who said he would never vote for Mrs. Palin, said she acquitted herself well.

“They really prepared her well,” he said. “She was articulate and she held her own. I give her credit. They’ve tried to categorize her as not being bright. She’s bright.”


Palin goes after Obama on energy
July 14, 2009@ 8:44 am by Jeremy P. Jacobs, THE HILL

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), who, let's face it, has been everywhere recently, grabbed a hold of the cap-and-trade legislation recently passed by the House and President Obama's energy policy in a Washington Post op-ed on Tuesday.

Palin decries that national media's "focus on personality-driven political gossip of the day" over substance. And, "at the risk of disappointing the chattering class," says she is most concerned with President Obama's energy policy.

    "I am deeply concerned about President Obama's cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.

    "American prosperity has always been driven by the steady supply of abundant, affordable energy. Particularly in Alaska, we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security. Consequently, many of us in this huge, energy-rich state recognize that the president's cap-and-trade energy tax would adversely affect every aspect of the U.S. economy."

Palin goes on to say the the legislation will cost the country jobs and says the legislation will cause electricity bills to rise dramatically.

The Republican also criticizes Obama's energy policy for outsourcing energy abroad.

    "We have an important choice to make. Do we want to control our energy supply and its environmental impact? Or, do we want to outsource it to China, Russia and Saudi Arabia? Make no mistake: President Obama's plan will result in the latter."

And finally, Palin takes a shot at Obama's campaign slogan. "Yes, we can," Palin wrote. "Just not with Barack Obama's energy cap-and-tax plan."

The op-ed is likely designed to serve two purposes. First, the Palin camp probably wants to change the channel from the focus on the coverage of Palin since her resignation announcement which has not been particularly substantive.

And second, it seeks to establish Palin's credentials on an issue - energy - that was touted as her strong suit when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) selected her as his running mate last year. In the campaign, that expertise was rarely highlighted, though.


EXCLUSIVE: Palin plans to stay in politics
By Ralph Z. Hallow, Washington TIMES
Sunday, July 12, 2009


ANCHORAGE, Alaska | Brushing aside the criticisms of pundits and politicos, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she plans to jump immediately back into the national political fray — stumping for conservative issues and even Democrats — after she prematurely vacates her elected post at month's end.

The former Republican vice-presidential nominee and heroine to much of the GOP's base said in an interview she views the electorate as embattled and fatigued by nonstop partisanship, and she is eager to campaign for Republicans, independents and even Democrats who share her values on limited government, strong defense and "energy independence."

"I will go around the country on behalf of candidates who believe in the right things, regardless of their party label or affiliation," she said over lunch in her downtown office, 40 miles from her now-famous hometown of Wasilla — population 7,000 — where she began her political career.

"People are so tired of the partisan stuff — even my own son is not a Republican," said Mrs. Palin, who stunned the political world earlier this month with her decision to step down as governor July 26 with 18 months left in her term.

Both her son, Track, 20, an enlisted soldier serving in Iraq, and her husband, Todd, are registered as "nonpartisan" in Alaska.

Mrs. Palin, who vaulted to national prominence when Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, chose her as his running mate last August, left the door open for a future presidential bid.

But she shot down speculation among Republicans that she might challenge incumbent Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski for the party's nomination to the Senate next year, and she blamed her resignation as governor on the nasty, hardball tactics that last year's presidential campaign brought to her state...



R E P U B L I C A N   T I C K E T   2 0 0 8

From YouTube, Carly Fiorina comments

A Glimpse of the New  
NYTIMES
By DAVID BROOKS
Published: September 4, 2008

ST. PAUL

Political parties usually reform in the wilderness. They suffer some crushing defeat, the old guard is discredited and the pain compels turnover and change. John McCain is trying to reform the Republican Party before a presidential defeat, with the old guard still around, and with a party base that still hasn’t accepted the need to transform. The central drama of this week’s convention was the struggle by reform Republicans to break through the gravitational pull of old habits and create something new.

Before the convention, some McCain aides wanted to sunder the links to the past in one bold stroke: Name Joe Lieberman as the vice presidential nominee, promise to serve only one term, vow to take a hiatus from partisanship and work by compromise to get things done. That proved to be a leap too far.

So McCain was pulled back. But he refused to stay there and pressed ahead by picking Sarah Palin. At first, this seemed like the fresh break he needed. Her career in Alaska has been nibbled on the edges, but the key fact is this: When the testing time came, she quit her government job, put her career on the line and took on the corrupt establishment of her own party.

But again, the forces of the past pulled McCain back. Parts of the press pack elevated Bristol Palin’s pregnancy. A controversy over human reproduction brought back the old culture wars and the mommy wars. Battle lines formed, as in the days of Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, and everyone took their pre-assigned roles.

Millions declared themselves qualified to judge her a bad mother, while others held her up as the model of evangelical virtue. And, of course, the whole thing became enmeshed in the clichés of red-blue: the supposed conflict between the condescending media elites and the gun-owning trailer trash, between abortion-rights urban women with one kid and anti-abortion rural women with five.

For 36 hours, the gravitational pull of past resentments dominated the media-culture war complex. And from the convention podium the past and the future fought to a draw. On the one hand, Joe Lieberman went up there and praised Bill Clinton, giving a glimpse of what a less partisan political future might look like. On the other, there was Mitt Romney, who delivered a cynical, extreme caricature of old-line Republicanism.

The convention thus sat on a knife-edge. And then Palin walked onstage. She gave a tough vice presidential speech, with maybe a few more jabs than necessary. Still it was stupendous to see a young woman emerge from nowhere to give a smart and assertive speech.

And what was most impressive was her speech’s freshness. Her words flowed directly from her life experience, her poise and mannerisms from her town and its conversations. She left behind most of the standard tropes of Republican rhetoric (compare her text to the others) and skated over abortion and the social issues. There wasn’t even any tired, old Reagan nostalgia.

Instead, her language resonated more of supermarket aisle than the megachurch pulpit. More than the men on the tickets, she embodies the spirit of the moment: impatient, fed up, tough-minded, but ironical. Even in attack, she projected the cheerfulness of someone confident about the future.

In those 40 minutes, the forces of reform Republicanism took control, at least for a time. Republicans started talking about Palin, Bobby Jindal and a brighter future for their party.

In his own speech on Thursday, McCain showed that he is not naturally the smoothest of speakers. He did not have an over-arching story to describe how the world has changed in the 21st century and how government must adapt.

He did not lay out a new doctrine to give shape to his administration. Bill Clinton had a new Democratic agenda to describe how his party would evolve, and in 2000, George W. Bush had compassionate conservatism. McCain had nothing like that. He did not offer as transformational a domestic policy agenda as one would have liked.

But he described traditional conservatism-plus: low taxes and free markets with some activism built on top; compensating workers for lost wages when plants close; a grand national project for energy independence. Through it all, he communicated his burning indignation at the way Washington has operated over the last 12 years. He communicated his intense passion to lift government to a plane the country deserves. He did note that he has fought to change the Republican Party during its period of decay. And he diagnosed that decay Thursday night (to the tepid applause of the faithful).

And this passion for change, combined with his proven and evident integrity, led to the crescendo of raw energy that marked this convention’s conclusion.

His policies are still not quite there yet, but McCain has the heart of an insurgent.

Lieberman leads GOP cheers in St. Paul
New Haven REGISTER
Wednesday, September 3, 2008 5:30 AM EDT
By the Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. — President Bush led a convention chorus of praise for John McCain Tuesday night, hailing him as a "ready to lead this nation" and a courageous candidate who risked his White House ambitions to support an unpopular Iraq war. Republicans rallied forcefully behind vice presidential running mate Sarah Palin in the face of fresh controversy.

Barack Obama drew criticism from the convention podium when Sen. Joseph Lieberman said the Democratic presidential candidate voted to cut off funding "for our troops on the ground" in Iraq last year. By contrast, Lieberman, who was the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee in 2000, said McCain had the courage "to stand against the tide of public opinion."

McCain was in Pennsylvania and Ohio during the day, campaigning his way into the convention city where the 72-year-old Arizona senator will deliver his formal acceptance speech on Thursday night.

Hundreds of miles to the west, in St. Paul, about two dozen men who were Vietnam prisoners with him a generation ago sparked chants of "USA, USA" when they were introduced to the delegates.

Bush reprised the national security themes that propelled him to a second term as he spoke — briefly — from the White House. "We need a president who understands the lessons of Sept. 11, 2001," he said in prepared remarks. "That to protect America, we must stay on offense, stop attacks before they happen and not wait to be hit again. The man we need is John McCain."

Inside the convention hall, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson delivered a strong defense of Palin. He said the Alaska governor, was "from a small town, with small town values, but that’s not good enough for those folks who are attacking her and her family."

He said McCain’s decision to place her on the ticket "has the other side and their friends in the media in a state of panic."

Other Republicans — delegates and luminaries alike — defended Palin, who disclosed on Monday that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is pregnant. In addition, a lawyer has been hired to represent the governor in an ethics-related controversy back home in Alaska.

Conservatives, slow to warm to McCain even after he clinched the nomination last spring, were particularly supportive.

"I haven’t seen anything that comes out about her that in any way troubles me or shakes my confidence in her," said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran unsuccessfully for the party’s presidential nomination this year.

"All it has done for me is say she is a human person with a real family."

And Ron Nehring, chairman of the California state party, said video footage of Palin on a firing range was helping her cause.

"The reports I’m getting back is that every time they show that footage we get 1,000 precinct walkers from the NRA," he told members of his state’s delegation, to laughter. "She cuts taxes and shoots moose. That’s Gov. Palin," Nehring said.

Thompson jabbed at Obama on abortion, as well.

"We need a president who doesn’t think that the protection of the unborn or a newly born baby is above his pay grade," he said in prepared remarks, referring to a recent episode in which McCain’s White House rival said it was "above my pay grade" to decide the point at which an unborn child is entitled to rights.

There were indications that Republicans thought they could turn Palin-related controversy to McCain’s gain. Officials said Levi Johnston, the 18-year-old father of the baby Bristol Palin is expecting, was en route to the convention from his home in Wasilla, Alaska.

McCain’s wife, Cindy, took in the evening program from a VIP box. So, too, former President George H.W. Bush, accompanied by his wife Barbara.

Bush, with his approval ratings in the 30-percent range, was relegated to a relatively minor role at the convention of a party that has twice nominated him to the White House. The president scrapped a planned Monday night speech because of the threat Hurricane Gustav posed to New Orleans. With polls making it clear the nation is ready for a change, the McCain campaign indicated there was no reason for him to make the trip to St. Paul.

The president referred to the years of torture McCain endured as a prisoner of war. Then Bush added, "If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain’s resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure the angry left never will."

"As president he will stand up to the high tax crowd in Congress ... and lift the ban for drilling on America’s offshore oil," Bush added.

Republicans handed Lieberman the prime spot in the evening lineup, and he blended praise for McCain with criticism of Obama.

"When others wanted to retreat in defeat from the field of battle, when Barack Obama was voting to cut off funding for our troops on the ground, John McCain had the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion," the Connecticut Democratic-turned-independent senator said in excerpts released in advance of his speech.

The decision to place Lieberman out front on the convention’s second night capped an unprecedented political migration. Only eight years ago, he stood before a cheering throng at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles and accepted the nomination as Al Gore’s running mate.

In the years since, he lost badly in 2004 when he sought the Democratic presidential nomination, lost a Democratic nomination for a new term at home in Connecticut in 2006, then recovered quickly to win re-election as an independent.

Back in the Senate, his vote allows the Democrats to command a narrow majority, yet he has been one of the most outspoken supporters of the war in Iraq. He has traveled widely with McCain in recent months, and occasionally has angered Democrats with remarks critical of Obama.

One day after a frightening Gulf Coast hurricane prompted a subdued opening to the McCain convention, political combat enjoyed a resurgence.

McCain’s aides disputed a claim that vice presidential running mate Sarah Palin had once been a member of a third party — and accused Democratic rival Obama’s camp of spreading false information.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said that as far as he’d seen, "the only person talking about her being in the Alaska Independence Party is the head of the Alaska Independence Party."

"Their gripe is with those folks," he said of the McCain campaign.

Protesters outside the hall vowed to resume demonstrations that turned violent on Monday and resulted in 286 arrests.

8 Years Later, Lieberman Extols McCain
NYTIMES
By PATRICK HEALY
Published: September 2, 2008

ST. PAUL — Senator Joseph I. Lieberman’s speech to Republicans here on Tuesday night represented the culmination of an improbable path for a politician who just eight years ago was accepting the Democratic nomination for vice president and hailing his party’s nominee, Al Gore, as “a man of courage and conviction.”

During that time, Mr. Lieberman came to champion, with Mr. McCain, the American invasion of Iraq, and in doing so was frozen out by liberals in his party and denied renomination as a Democrat to the Senate. He won re-election as an independent, in 2006, and spoke to Republicans on Tuesday portraying himself as a man who transcends party lines.

“Dear friends, I’m here because John McCain’s whole life testifies to a great truth: being a Democrat or a Republican is important, but it is nowhere near as important as being an American,” Mr. Lieberman said to cheers, as electronic screens around the convention hall here flashed “Country First,” one of Mr. McCain’s campaign themes.

Mr. Lieberman and Mr. McCain have been close friends for more than a dozen years, working together on peace in the Balkans, regulations of gun shows after the Columbine High School shootings and promoting measures to curb carbon emissions. But it was the Iraq war that marked the turning point in Mr. Lieberman’s journey to the McCain camp.

His invitation to speak here was largely because of their political kinship as Washington leaders who have often felt uncomfortable in the boundaries of their parties.

Only last month, friends say, Mr. McCain wanted to reach beyond his base and ask Mr. Lieberman to be his running mate; in that instance, though, party influence proved too strong, with many Republican officials and delegates insisting they would reject Mr. Lieberman because of his support for abortion rights and some gay rights laws.

Mr. Lieberman’s address received some of the biggest applause of the night in the convention hall, topped perhaps only by a filmed tribute to President Ronald Reagan.

“It really represents one of the main reasons I love McCain,” said Nathaniel Dublin, a delegate from Newton, Mass. “He’s not caught up in this partisanship.” Mr. Dublin said he thought the speech worked in “changing the attitudes of all the Democrats and even changing the attitudes of all the Republicans.”

Several Republicans said they were counting on Mr. Lieberman’s speech to help dominate news coverage of the convention this week — and perhaps, some hope, to eclipse President Bush’s briefer remarks on Tuesday about Mr. McCain and Iraq.

If viewers came away from Mr. Bush’s speech on Tuesday assuming that he and Mr. McCain were inseparable on Iraq — a point Democrats are pushing — it is Mr. Lieberman who stands as a reminder that he and Mr. McCain wanted a larger American military presence in Iraq in the first, bloodiest years after the invasion, when Mr. Bush opposed sending more troops.

If Mr. Lieberman has long found himself on the outs with many Democrats, he also won his old party an ovation in St. Paul on Tuesday night when he compared Senator Barack Obama, unflatteringly, with none other than President Bill Clinton, whom Mr. Lieberman criticized sharply in 1998 for his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Mr. Lieberman, to applause, said Mr. Obama did not measure up to Mr. McCain or even to Mr. Clinton, who “worked with Republicans to get important things done,” like welfare reform and free trade agreements.

Of course, Mr. Clinton has had some nice things to say about Mr. McCain this year, though the former president has endorsed Mr. Obama — and certainly has not moved as far as Mr. Lieberman to receive an invitation to the Republican hall.


State delegation worried about security
CTPOST
PETER URBAN
Article Last Updated: 09/03/2008 12:40:46 AM EDT

WASHINGTON — A day after their run-in with protesters, the Connecticut delegation hired a security detail to accompany them into the Republican National Convention Tuesday evening.
GOP State Party Chairman Chris Healy said Tuesday afternoon that the delegation "retained a couple of off-duty policemen" to accompany them as they make their way into the Xcel Center in St. Paul, Minn.

On Monday, anti-war protesters attacked the delegation as they attempted to walk from their chartered bus to the convention. No one was seriously hurt, but several members had water laced with bleach splashed on them and at least one member had his credentials stolen.

Delegate Fred Biebel, 83, a former Stratford town councilman and a former deputy national chairman of the Republican National Committee, had his credentials snagged by a protester and was examined by paramedics afterward because he had trouble breathing. And former Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2, of Stonington, was hit in the face with bleach-tainted water.

"I was in the middle of that scrum yesterday, and I can tell you it got a little scary. Some of the knuckleheads had that look in their eye," Healy said during a telephone conference call with Connecticut-based reporters.

Healy said that the delegation had chartered a bus to take them to the convention center rather than rely on shuttle buses provided by the convention. The shuttles, which have been pre-screened, take delegates directly into the secured convention site.  The charter bus, which was not pre-screened, dropped them about three blocks from the Xcel Center at the corner of Kellogg Boulevard and Wabasha Street, outside the secured area.

Delegate Michael Garrett, of Bridgeport, said Tuesday in a telephone interview that the delegation disembarked outside the Xcel Center perimeter and walked several blocks before being confronted by the protesters.

"They were adamant that they weren't going to let us through. They started pushing and shoving and grabbing for our credentials," Garrett said.

Simmons said Tuesday in a telephone interview that the protesters took advantage of a security breach to attack them.  The delegation, he said, was told after leaving from the bus to cross the street and head to the secured area. Mounted police escorted them about halfway to the fenced area but departed after being called off to another area where demonstrators had gathered.

"The mob swarmed across the street and took us totally by surprise. The police shouldn't have allowed it to happen," Simmons said.

Simmons stepped between the protesters, who were grabbing for credentials, and some of the older delegates.

"They sprayed me in the face and on my clothes," Simmons said. "It was an ugly, inexcusable incident."

The delegation eventually forced its way through the protesters and made it into the enclosed area. Biebel, whose credentials were snatched from his neck, was having trouble breathing. He was eventually seated in a wheelchair and a paramedic examined him to make sure he was OK. Simmons and about a dozen others who were sprayed with the bleach water were washed down.

Garrett said that he believed the FBI recovered Biebel's credentials. "We saw the peace demonstrators earlier who were peaceable. These protesters were spoiling for a fight. And they had cameras to take pictures of anyone retaliating," Garrett said. "I saw them surging and going after especially the women. I was fending them off to blaze a path through. The sidewalk was totally obstructed; we had to walk through them as they bumped and shoved."

Garrett said that the protesters, whom he believed were anarchists, were trying to intimidate them but it didn't work.

"It only firmed our resolve. We weren't going to stop," he said.

Simmons said that Connecticut Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele had contacted local police officials seeking a report on the incident to find out more about who the protesters were.

"This was organized. They didn't just walk off some campus and use these tactics," Simmons said. "I'd like to know who is behind it."


Connecticut Delegation targeted...earlier story:

"...Simmons said the protesters first went after 82-year-old delegate Fred Biebel, who was in the middle of the group, ripping Biebel's credential from his neck. The delegation was able to get it back, Simmons said. The protesters also targeted Lila Healy, the mother of Chris Healy, the state Republican chairman, Simmons said.

Simmons said he, delegate Anthony Ravosa and state Sen. Tony Guglielmo stepped in to try to protect Biebel and the others, at which point the protesters locked arms and tried to pin the delegation against a wall. The delegation was able to push through and walk another block to the security gates, but Simmons said police there did little more than prevent the protesters from getting through the gates.

'They did very little, if anything, to assist because the demonstrators had cameras and I think the police were afraid to be filmed,' Simmons said.

Simmons said he found a security officer who helped him find a golf cart to take Biebel to the convention center's entrance. But the Secret Service refused them entry, he said, until officials could determine what they had been sprayed with.

Simmons said tests showed the liquid contained an oxidant, which he assumed was bleach, and said it had discolored his pants. He added that no one from the state delegation went to the hospital and all were treated on scene by emergency medical technicians.

He said he was unsure who the group represented. They were wearing anti-war and anti-George Bush shirts, he said, but didn't have signs."



Hurricane Gustav blows away day one of the Convention...blows from "THE WEATHERMEN" cause CT delegates minor injury in attack (from the DAY); 
Senator John McCain - I-BBC commentary.

What the Palin Pick Says
NYTIMES
By DAVID BROOKS
Published: September 1, 2008

ST. PAUL

John McCain is not a normal conservative. He has instincts, but few abstract convictions about the proper size of government. He’s a traditionalist, but is not energized by the social conservative agenda. As Rush Limbaugh understands, but the Democrats apparently do not, a McCain administration would not be like a Bush administration.

The main axis in McCain’s worldview is not left-right. It’s public service versus narrow self-interest. Throughout his career, he has been drawn to those crusades that enabled him to launch frontal attacks on the concentrated powers of selfishness — whether it was the big money donors who exploited the loose campaign finance system, the earmark specialists in Congress like Alaska’s Don Young and Ted Stevens, the corrupt Pentagon contractors or Jack Abramoff.

When McCain met Sarah Palin last February, he was meeting the rarest of creatures, an American politician who sees the world as he does. Like McCain, Palin does not seem to have an explicit governing philosophy. Her background is socially conservative, but she has not pushed that as governor of Alaska. She seems to find it easier to work with liberal Democrats than the mandarins in her own party.

Instead, she seems to get up in the morning to root out corruption. McCain was meeting a woman who risked her career taking on the corrupt Republican establishment in her own state, who twice defeated the oil companies, who made mortal enemies of the two people McCain has always held up as the carriers of the pork-barrel disease: Young and Stevens.

Many people are conditioned by their life experiences to see this choice of a running mate through the prism of identity politics, but that’s the wrong frame. Sarah Barracuda was picked because she lit up every pattern in McCain’s brain, because she seems so much like himself.

The Palin pick allows McCain to run the way he wants to — not as the old goat running against the fresh upstart, but as the crusader for virtue against the forces of selfishness. It allows him to make cleaning out the Augean stables of Washington the major issue of his campaign.

So my worries about Palin are not (primarily) about her lack of experience. She seems like a marvelous person. She is a dazzling political performer. And she has experienced more of typical American life than either McCain or his opponent. On Monday, an ugly feeding frenzy surrounded her daughter’s pregnancy. But most Americans will understand that this is what happens in real life, that parents and congregations nurture young parents through this sort of thing every day.

My worry about Palin is that she shares McCain’s primary weakness — that she has a tendency to substitute a moral philosophy for a political philosophy.

There are some issues where the most important job is to rally the armies of decency against the armies of corruption: Confronting Putin, tackling earmarks and reforming the process of government.

But most issues are not confrontations between virtue and vice. Most problems — the ones Barack Obama is sure to focus on like health care reform and economic anxiety — are the product of complex conditions. They require trade-offs and policy expertise. They are not solvable through the mere assertion of sterling character.

McCain is certainly capable of practicing the politics of compromise and coalition-building. He engineered a complex immigration bill with Ted Kennedy and global warming legislation with Joe Lieberman. But if you are going to lead a vast administration as president, it really helps to have a clearly defined governing philosophy, a conscious sense of what government should and shouldn’t do, a set of communicable priorities.

If McCain is elected, he will face conditions tailor-made to foster disorder. He will be leading a divided and philosophically exhausted party. There simply aren’t enough Republican experts left to staff an administration, so he will have to throw together a hodgepodge with independents and Democrats. He will confront Democratic majorities that will be enraged and recriminatory.

On top of these conditions, he will have his own freewheeling qualities: a restless, thrill-seeking personality, a tendency to personalize issues, a tendency to lead life as a string of virtuous crusades.

He really needs someone to impose a policy structure on his moral intuitions. He needs a very senior person who can organize a vast administration and insist that he tame his lone-pilot tendencies and work through the established corridors — the National Security Council, the Domestic Policy Council. He needs a near-equal who can turn his instincts, which are great, into a doctrine that everybody else can predict and understand.

Rob Portman or Bob Gates wouldn’t have been politically exciting, but they are capable of performing those tasks. Palin, for all her gifts, is not. She underlines McCain’s strength without compensating for his weaknesses. The real second fiddle job is still unfilled.


Palin’s Teen Daughter Is Pregnant; New G.O.P. Tumult
NYTIMES
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE
Published: September 1, 2008

ST. PAUL — The 17-year-old daughter of Gov. Sarah Palin, John McCain’s running mate, is five months pregnant, Mrs. Palin announced today, adding a new element of tumult to a the Republican convention that had already been disrupted by Hurricane Gustav.

The daughter, Bristol, plans to marry the father, the statement issued by Governor Palin and her husband said.

“Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned” Mrs. Palin’s statement said. “As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows that she has our unconditional love and support.”

The announcement was intended to counter rumors by liberal bloggers that Ms. Palin had claimed to have given birth to her fifth child in April when, according to the rumors, the child was her daughter’s.

Groups that oppose abortion rights had been thrilled with Mr. McCain’s selection of Ms. Palin, the governor of Alaska, as his running mate, partly because of her opposition to abortion. It is not clear how social conservatives will respond to the latest news.

Steve Schmidt, the chief strategist for the McCain campaign, was surrounded by reporters and cameras as he walked through the media center next door to the Excel Center. Asked over and over when and how Mr. McCain found out about Bristol’s pregnancy, he repeated, “Senator McCain was aware” of it and called it “a private family matter,” He would not say when he found out or how, calling it a “private conversation.”

“The fact is, John McCain had a thorough search and made the decision to add Sarah Palin to the ticket because he believes,” he said, that she “will change America.”

He said how big this becomes depends upon the media. “I think the American people will see this news and they’d have good wishes for the young lady and they’ll respect the privacy of the family,” he said.

Asked if Ms. Palin will be able to judge the demands of the vice-presidency with her complicated family life, Mr. Schmidt said, “She’s been a very effective governor and again I can’t imagine that question being asked of a man.”

The McCain campaign says it was aware of her daughter’s pregnancy before it named her as the running mate on Friday.

Mrs. Palin’s statement identified the father only by a first name, Levi. “Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family,” the statement said. “We ask the media, respect our daughter and Levi’s privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates.”

In a brief press conference in Monroe, Mich., here to talk about Hurricane Gustav, Senator Barack Obama was asked about the suggestion by some Republicans that Democrats – particularly liberal bloggers – have pushed a story about the family of Ms. Palin, who was named last week as the running-mate for Senator John McCain. In a statement earlier Monday, Ms. Palin said her daughter was pregnant.

Mr. Obama, in his first remarks on the matter, raised his voiced when asked whether his campaign or other Democratic operatives were working to advance rumors surrounding the Palin family.

“Our people were not involved in any way in this and they will not be,” Mr. Obama snapped. “And if I ever thought there was somebody in my campaign that was involved in something like that, they’d be fired, OK?”

Mr. Obama said the pregnancy “has no relevance to Governor Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president.” He added that, “my mother had me when she was 18. How family deals with issues and teen-age children – that shouldn’t be the topic of our politics.”

“So,” he added, “I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories.”

At a rally at a ballpark Saturday evening in Washington, Pa., Bristol Palin did not join the rest of her family on stage.

“Then we have our daughter Bristol, she’s on the bus with the newborn, and then we have our daughter Willow, who is here, and our youngest daughter Piper,” Ms. Palin said as she introduced her family. “On that bus we have our son Trig, who is a beautiful baby boy we welcomed into the world just in April. It’s his naptime, so he is with his big sister on the bus. But we thank them for being here. “

“And speaking of Trig, and other things, some of life’s greatest opportunities come unexpectedly,” she said. “And this is certainly the case today. I never really set out to be in public affairs, much less to run for this office.”


A Star Is Born?
NYTIMES
By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Published: September 1, 2008

ST. PAUL

Thursday night, after Barack Obama’s well-orchestrated, well-conceived and well-delivered acceptance speech in Denver, Republicans were demoralized. Twenty-four hours later, they were energized — even exuberant. It’s amazing what a bold vice-presidential pick who gives a sterling performance when she’s introduced will do for a party’s spirits.

There are Republicans who are unhappy about John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin. Many are insiders who highly value — who overly value — “experience.” There are also sensible strategists who nervously note just how big a gamble McCain has taken.

But what was McCain’s alternative? To go quietly down to defeat, accepting a role as a bit player in The Barack Obama Story? McCain had to shake up the race, and once he was persuaded not to pick Joe Lieberman, which would have been one kind of gamble, he went all in with Sarah Palin.

Some media mandarins were upset. One reporter noted that — horrors! — Palin had never even appeared on “Meet the Press.” Time’s Joe Klein remarked disapprovingly that McCain didn’t know Palin well and had never worked with her. He noted by contrast “that when Walter Mondale picked Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, House Speaker Tip O’Neill, who had worked with Ferraro, was not only vouching for her, but raving about her.”

Of course, Ferraro was widely regarded as an unsuccessful V.P. choice. Maybe rave reviews from D.C. insiders aren’t the best guarantee of future success.

And Obama supporters can’t get too indignant about Palin’s inexperience. She’s only running for the No. 2 job, after all, while their inexperienced standard-bearer is the nominee for the top position. And McCain doesn’t need a foreign policy expert as vice president to help him out.

Meanwhile, a Republican operative here mentioned to me that Barack Obama has cited this 1992 comment by Bill Clinton:

“The same old experience is irrelevant. You can have the right kind of experience or the wrong kind of experience. And mine is rooted in the real lives of real people, and it will bring real results if we have the courage to change.”

But the crucial political fact is that the Obama campaign no longer has a monopoly on “the courage to change.” Facing an electorate that wants change, McCain has given himself a fighting chance to win the election.

And he has staked a lot on Sarah Palin.

Voters are unlikely to learn much that is new or surprising about Obama, McCain or Joe Biden over the next two months. Palin’s performance as the vice-presidential nominee, on the other hand, is the open and unresolved question of this campaign. She is, in a way, now the central figure in this fall’s electoral drama.

If Palin turns out not be up to the challenge for which McCain has selected her, McCain will pay a heavy price. His judgment about the most important choice he’s had to make this year will have been proved wanting. He won’t be able to plead that being right about the surge in Iraq should be judged as more important than being right about his vice-presidential pick.

McCain has gambled boldly on Palin. If she flops, McCain could lose by a landslide.

On the other hand, if Palin exceeds expectations, and her selection ends up looking both bold and wise, McCain could win.

The Palin pick already, as Noemie Emery wrote, “Wipes out the image of McCain as the crotchety elder and brings back that of the fly-boy and gambler, which is much more appealing, and the genuine person.” But of course McCain needs Palin to do well to prove he’s a shrewd and prescient gambler.

I spent an afternoon with Palin a little over a year ago in Juneau, and have followed her career pretty closely ever since. I think she can pull it off. I’m not the only one. The day after the V.P. announcement, I spoke with an old friend, James Muller, chairman of the political science department at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. He said that Palin “has been underestimated over and over again. She took on the party and state establishments here in Alaska, and left them reeling. She’s a very good campaigner, a quick study and a fighter.”

Muller called particular attention to her successes in passing an increase to the oil production tax and facilitating the future construction of a huge natural gas pipeline. “At first the oil companies thought she was naïve, and they’d have their way. Instead she faced them down and forced them to compromise on her terms.”

Can she face down the Democrats, Joe Biden and the national media over the next couple of months?

John McCain is betting she can. Perhaps, as he pondered his vice-presidential selection, he recalled the advice of Margaret Thatcher: “In politics if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.”


Alaska Governor strong anti-establishment
Greenwich TIME
Associated Press
By Liz Sidoti and Beth Fouhy
Article Launched: 08/30/2008 01:00:00 AM EDT

DAYTON, Ohio - Republican John McCain introduced first-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate Friday, a stunning selection of a little-known conservative newcomer who relishes fighting the establishment.

"She's exactly who I need. She's exactly who this country needs to help me fight the same old Washington politics of 'Me first and country second,'" McCain declared as the pair stood together for the first time at a boisterous rally in Ohio just days before the opening of the party's national convention.

Palin, the first Republican woman on a presidential ticket, promised: "I'm going to take our campaign to every part of our country and our message of reform to every voter of every background in every political party, or no party at all."

"Politics isn't just a game of competing interests and clashing parties," said Palin, 44, who has built her career in large measure by challenging fellow Republicans.

She brings a strong anti-abortion stance to the ticket and opposes gay marriage - constitutionally banned in Alaska before her time - but exercised a veto that essentially granted benefits to gay state employees and their partners.

"She stands up for what's right, and she doesn't let anyone tell her to sit down." McCain said in introducing her to an Ohio rally.

Said Palin: "I didn't get into government to do the safe and easy things. A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not why the ship is built."

In the increasingly intensive presidential campaign, McCain made his selection six days after his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, named Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, as his No. 2 on the ticket.
The contrast between the two announcements was remarkable - Obama, 47, picked a 65-year-old running mate with long experience in government and a man whom he said was qualified to be president. The timing of McCain's selection appeared designed to limit any political gain Obama derives from his own convention, which ended Thursday night with his nominating acceptance speech before an estimated 84,000 in Invesco Field in Colorado.

Public opinion polls show a close race between Obama and McCain, and with scarcely two months remaining until the election, neither contender can allow the other to jump out to a big post-convention lead. Some polls showed little or no increase for Obama during the Democratic convention, as would normally be expected.

On his 72nd birthday, McCain chose Palin, a woman younger than two of the Arizonan's seven children and a person who until recently was the mayor of small-town Wasilla, Alaska and has been governor less than two years. He settled on her six months after first meeting the governor and following only one phone call between them last Sunday and a single face-to-face meeting Thursday, according to a timeline provided by his campaign.

The Obama campaign immediately questioned whether she would be prepared to step in and be president if necessary.

"Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency," Adrianne Marsh, a spokeswoman for Obama, said in a written statement. A statement was put out on Obama's plane with the candidate merely welcoming her to the campaign.

President Bush complimented McCain for "an exciting decision."

"Governor Palin is a proven reformer who is a wise steward of taxpayer dollars and champion for accountability in government," a presidential statement said. "By selecting a working mother with a track record of getting things done, Senator McCain has once again demonstrated his commitment to reforming Washington."

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who came so close to being the first major party woman presidential candidate, said in a statement: "We should all be proud of Gov. Sarah Palin's historic nomination, and I congratulate her and Sen. McCain. While their policies would take America in the wrong direction, Gov. Palin will add an important new voice to the debate."

"It's an absolutely brilliant choice," said Mathew Staver, dean of Liberty University School of Law. "This will absolutely energize McCain's campaign and energize conservatives," he predicted.

Palin's name had not been on the news media's short list of people heavily reported upon in recent days, and McCain's decision was a well-kept secret until just a couple hours before Friday's rally.

McCain's campaign said that Palin and a top aide met with senior McCain advisers in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Wednesday night. The next morning, the campaign said McCain formally invited Palin to join the ticket on the deck of McCain's home near Sedona, Ariz., and later Thursday the governor flew to Middletown, Ohio, with staff to await Friday's event in Dayton.

Describing the process that led to her selection, Palin told reporters she'd received word that she was McCain's choice on Thursday and had met privately with him that day to discuss it. She spoke briefly as the two running mates surprised shoppers at the Buckeye Corner in Columbus, Ohio, where they purchased Ohio State University sports memorabilia. McCain and Palin started a bus tour across Ohio and to Pittsburgh, where they will hold a campaign rally Saturday. Ohio and Pennsylvania are two states that figure prominently in who wins the election this fall.

Asked why McCain chose her, his campaign manager Rick Davis said, "Part of it is personal fit."

"He sees Sarah, Governor Palin, as the future of the party," he added. "These are people he'd like to elevate in that regard. reformers."


McCain rejects 'audacity of hopelessness' for Iraq 
DAY
By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer 
Posted on Jul 25, 4:12 PM EDT  
 
DENVER (AP) -- Republican presidential candidate John McCain, ridiculing Barack Obama for "the audacity of hopelessness" in his policies on Iraq, said Friday that the entire Middle East could have plunged into war had U.S. troops been withdrawn as his rival advocated.

Speaking to an audience of Hispanic military veterans, McCain stepped up his criticism of Obama while the Illinois senator continued his headline-grabbing tour of the Middle East and Europe. The Arizona Republican contended that Obama's policies - he opposed sending more troops to Iraq in the "surge" that McCain supported - would have led to defeat there and in Afghanistan.

"We rejected the audacity of hopelessness, and we were right," McCain said, a play on the title of Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope."

McCain laid out a near-apocalyptic chain of events he said could have resulted had Obama managed to stop the troop buildup ordered by President Bush: U.S. forces retreating under fire, the Iraqi army collapsing, civilian casualties increasing dramatically, al-Qaida killing cooperative Sunni sheiks and finding safe havens to train fighters and launch attacks on Americans, and civil war, genocide and a wider conflict.

"Above all, America would have been humiliated and weakened," he said. "Terrorists would have seen our defeat as evidence America lacked the resolve to defeat them. As Iraq descended into chaos, other countries in the Middle East would have come to the aid of their favored factions, and the entire region might have erupted in war."

Noting that the buildup was unpopular with most Americans, McCain said: "Sen. Obama told the American people what he thought you wanted to hear. I told you the truth."

Obama has called for a withdrawal over 16 months. McCain again criticized him for advocating "a politically expedient timetable" and for voting against funding for troops. McCain had raised eyebrows earlier this week by charging that Obama "would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign."

With once exception, Obama has voted for every spending bill for troops at war. In 2007, Bush vetoed a bill that provided funding on condition of troop withdrawals, and Obama joined 13 other senators who opposed the measure that took its place.

McCain's speech in Denver came at the conclusion of a week in which he struggled against Obama's overseas tour de force. Yet amid the awkward moments, McCain managed to campaign busily in key battleground states and to raise millions of dollars at fundraisers.

Polls in many swing states are close, and some are tightening. The Arizona Republican sought to turn this to his advantage in what was clearly a difficult week to be a stay-at-home candidate.

McCain repeatedly emphasized his long military and congressional background, scolded Obama from afar on foreign policy, and kept playfully fueling speculation that he was close to picking a running mate. His address to the group of Hispanic veterans also gave him a chance to court the valued Hispanic vote.

McCain was to visit the Dalai Lama in Aspen, Colo., his first meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader and a chance to express criticism of Chinese treatment of those who live in Tibet just weeks before the Olympics in Beijing.

McCain also was to spend the weekend in Arizona and make a round of television news shows on Sunday.

Everywhere he went in recent days - in New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Ohio and here in Colorado - the Arizona senator drew warm and appreciative crowds. No matter that many, if not most, of those in the audiences were senior citizens. Seniors vote in big numbers.

For the most part, the side-by-side images weren't pretty:

-Obama meeting with leaders in Iraq, McCain on a golf cart in Kennebunkport, Maine, with the first President Bush.

-Obama before a sweeping Mideast landscape, McCain holding a news conference in a supermarket in Bethlehem - Pennsylvania, that is - and narrowly escaping an attack from a tumbling stack of apple sauce jars.

-Obama delivering his trip's keynote speech at Berlin's Victory Column, McCain eating bratwurst and chatting with reporters at a German restaurant in Columbus, Ohio.

McCain responds philosophically when asked about being overshadowed by his rival's overseas trip and outsize attention: "It is what it is."

McCain has inched ahead of Obama in Colorado, come within inches in Minnesota and narrowed the gap in Michigan and Wisconsin, according to Quinnipiac University polls of likely voters in these battleground states. The polls, taken for The Wall Street Journal and washingtonpost.com, showed voters in each state saying energy policy is more important than the war in Iraq.








Former Republican U.S. Representative (Georgia) Bob Barr, third from right above.

Bailout Angst Provides a Push for Libertarian Barr
NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: October 9, 2008
Filed at 4:41 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Private markets fail, politicians from both parties jump to their rescue, and taxpayers get stuck with the bill. Libertarian candidate Bob Barr couldn't have scripted a better story line to argue that Republicans and Democrats are interchangeable -- with a helpless addiction to spending.

Can Barr capitalize on it during the closing weeks of the presidential campaign?

Polls so far aren't registering a shift to the Libertarian candidate in spite of widespread outrage over the $700 billion rescue package. The former GOP congressman from Georgia is languishing with about the same 1 percent share of support he's had for months.

But Barr is sharpening his attacks on Republican nominee John McCain, hoping that fiscal conservatives frustrated over McCain's support for the bailout will join his anti-government campaign. Barr says traffic on his Web site is spiking, donations are picking up and the campaign is getting angry calls from Republicans who feel betrayed.

''McCain just seems to make it worse and worse,'' Barr said in an interview this week. ''In the debate he gave this muddled answer about increasing government purchases of troubled mortgages. This is a self-described conservative Republican urging the Department of the Treasury to buy people's mortgages.''

''This illustrates just how far the Republican Party in particular has slid,'' Barr said. ''One would expect it from the Democrats, but for Republicans to be championing this massive government intervention down to the level of purchasing individual mortgages is unbelievable.''

Brian Rogers, a McCain spokesman, said the campaign is not concerned because McCain has a consistent record of fighting wasteful spending and supporting what is in the national interest, not ''what's politically expedient.''

''We feel very strong about the McCain-Palin ticket's support among fiscal conservatives and Republicans at large,'' Rogers said. ''There's a big choice in November and they recognize that he's the better choice.''

Barr doesn't mind criticizing McCain in personal terms. Earlier this month, he issued a statement saying, ''Sen. McCain claims he can act in a bipartisan manner, but his actions on the Wall Street bailout bill shows he acts in a bipolar manner.''

Since he won the Libertarian nomination in May, Republicans have been worried about Barr's impact on the race because his fiscal positions align more closely with McCain's.

Yet Barr, who built a national following in the 1990s for relentlessly pursuing President Clinton's impeachment, has been overshadowed by unusually competitive party primaries and a historic general election featuring the first black nominee from a major party and the first Republican woman nominated for vice president.

A national Associated Press-GfK poll taken Sept. 27-30 found Barr with just 1 percent support. In recent polls in swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, he has less than that.

But even tiny percentages for third-party candidates could have an impact. In Florida, a CNN poll released Oct. 1 showed Obama at 51 percent to McCain's 47 percent in a head-to-head matchup. McCain's support fell to 43 percent when Barr was listed along with independent candidate Ralph Nader and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney.

Not even Nader can make sense of why he would appeal to potential McCain voters rather than Obama supporters.

''I have no idea,'' said Nader. ''You have to ask the pollsters. It really is counterintuitive.''

Unlike in 2004, when lawsuits in 18 states challenged Nader's right to be on the ballot, Democrats have yet to file a challenge this year. They recognize it's in their interest to include third-party candidates, said Jason Kafoury, national coordinator for the Nader campaign.

Nader -- also an opponent of the financial bailout -- is on 45 ballots, one more than he was in 2000 when he won more than 2.7 percent of the vote. He was on just 34 ballots four years ago when his vote total fell to 0.38 percent.

In Barr's case, the bailout could marginally boost his campaign, said Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist who studies presidential politics at Emory University. But he said Barr needs to get his message out more effectively to make any gains.

''It's the kind of issue that should work for him. I'm sure that some die-hard conservatives are very unhappy with McCain over his support for the bailout,'' Abramowitz said. ''But as far as it having much impact, I don't think Barr is visible enough at this point.''

David Winston, a Washington-based Republican pollster, agreed and said many voters who initially opposed the bailout have come around to it after seeing the stock market drop and the financial crisis spread globally.

''My sense is it'll get Bob Barr some publicity, but ultimately voters who had difficulty with the idea, as much as they don't like what happened, they also recognize at a practical level that some action had to occur,'' Winston said.






Election 2000 GREEN PARTY candidate for President...

Ralph Nader speaks in Rhode Island - read story here.






REMEMBER WATERGATE (the apartment/office complex in Washington, D.C.)?  Watergate playbook back on the table?  How about another $$ giveaway to cover the other gifts?  Did hacker for Obama got his orders from Pat Summit?  U Conn fans want to know!

P O L I C Y ,   T H E    M A T C H   , T A C T I C S   &   E N D  -  G A M E 









The "I didn't know" defense comes in handy again! ("Again" in the sense that others have used it at all levels of government to evade responsibility, in my experience, without partisan slant)
Obama Says Law Should Be Followed in Aunt’s Case
NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: November 1, 2008
Filed at 1:02 p.m. ET

CHICAGO (AP) -- Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama said Saturday he didn't know his aunt was living in the United States illegally and believes that laws covering the situation should be followed.

The Associated Press found that Obama's aunt had been instructed to leave the country four years ago by an immigration judge who rejected her request for asylum from her native Kenya. The woman, Zeituni Onyango (zay-TUHN on-YANG-oh), is living in public housing in Boston and is the half-sister of Obama's late father.

A statement given to the AP by Obama's campaign said, ''Senator Obama has no knowledge of her status but obviously believes that any and all appropriate laws be followed.''

The campaign said it was returning $260 that Onyango had contributed in small increments to Obama's presidential bid over several months. Federal election law prohibits foreigners from making political donations. Onyango listed her employer as the Boston Housing Authority and last gave $5 on Sept. 19.

Onyango, 56, is part of Obama's large paternal family, with many related to him by blood whom he never knew growing up.

Obama's father, Barack Obama Sr., left the future presidential nominee when the boy was 2, and they reunited only once -- for a monthlong visit when Obama was 10. The elder Obama lived most of his life in Kenya, where he fathered seven other children with three other wives. He died in a car crash in 1982.

Obama was raised for the most part by his mother and her parents in Hawaii. He first met his father's side of the family when he traveled to Africa 20 years ago. He referred to Onyango as ''Auntie Zeituni'' when describing the trip in his memoir, saying she was ''a proud woman.''

Obama's campaign said he had seen her a few times since that meeting, beginning with a return trip to Kenya with his future wife, Michelle, in 1992. Onyango visited the family in Chicago on a tourist visa at Obama's invitation about nine years ago, the campaign said, stopping to visit friends on the East Coast before returning to Kenya.

She attended Obama's swearing-in to the U.S. Senate in 2004, but campaign officials said Obama provided no assistance in getting her a tourist visa and doesn't know the details of her stay. The campaign said he last heard from her about two years ago when she called saying she was in Boston, but he did not see her there.

Onyango's refusal to leave the country would represent an administrative, noncriminal violation of immigration law, meaning such cases are handled outside the criminal court system. Estimates vary, but many experts believe there are more than 10 million such immigrants in the U.S.

The AP could not immediately reach Onyango for comment. When a reporter went to her home Friday night, no one answered the door. A neighbor said she was often not home on weekends. Onyango did not immediately return telephone and written messages left at her home.

Onyango was instructed to leave the country by a U.S. immigration judge who denied her asylum request, a person familiar with the matter told the AP. This person spoke on condition of anonymity because no one was authorized to discuss Onyango's case.

It was unclear why her request was rejected in 2004. A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Kelly Nantel, said the government does not comment on an individual's citizenship status or immigration case.

Information about the deportation case was disclosed and confirmed by two separate sources, one a federal law enforcement official. The information they made available is known to officials in the federal government, but the AP could not establish whether anyone at a political level in the Bush administration or in the McCain campaign had been involved in its release.

Onyango's case -- coming to light just days before the presidential election -- led to an unusual nationwide directive within Immigrations and Customs Enforcement requiring that any deportations before Tuesday's election be approved at least at the level of the agency's regional directors, the U.S. law enforcement official told the AP.

The directive suggests that the administration is sensitive to the political implications of Onyango's case coming to light so close to the election.

The East African nation has been fractured by violence in recent years, including a period of two months of bloodshed after December 2007 that killed 1,500 people.

In Boston, Lydia Agro, communications director for the Housing Authority, said Onyango had been screened and approved for public housing as an ''eligible non-citizen'' when she moved in in 2003. She said the authority is not notified of deportation orders and did not know Onyango was related to Obama until two days ago.


AP: Obama aunt from Kenya living illegally in US 
DAY
By EILEEN SULLIVAN and ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press Writers 

Posted on Nov 1, 8:50 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Barack Obama's aunt, a Kenyan woman who has been quietly living in public housing in Boston, is in the United States illegally after an immigration judge rejected her request for asylum four years ago, The Associated Press has learned.

Zeituni Onyango (zay-TUHN on-YANG-oh), referred to as "Aunti Zeituni" in Obama's memoir, was instructed to leave the United States by a U.S. immigration judge who denied her asylum request, a person familiar with the matter told the AP late Friday. This person spoke on condition of anonymity because no one was authorized to discuss Onyango's case.

Information about the deportation case was disclosed and confirmed by two separate sources, one of them a federal law enforcement official. The information they made available is known to officials in the federal government, but the AP could not establish whether anyone at a political level in the Bush administration or in the McCain campaign had been involved in its release.

Onyango's refusal to leave the country would represent an administrative, noncriminal violation of immigration law, meaning such cases are handled outside the criminal court system. Estimates vary, but many experts believe there are more than 10 million such immigrants in the U.S.

The AP could not immediately reach Onyango, 56, for comment. When a reporter went to her home Friday night, no one answered the door. A neighbor said she was often not home on the weekend. Onyango did not immediately return telephone and written messages left at her home. It was unclear why her request for asylum was rejected in 2004.

The Obama campaign declined comment late Friday night.

Onyango is not a relative whom Obama has discussed in campaign appearances and, unlike Obama's father and grandmother, is not someone who has been part of the public discussion about his personal life.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Kelly Nantel, said the government does not comment on an individual's citizenship status or immigration case.

Onyango's case - coming to light just days before the presidential election - led to an unusual nationwide directive within Immigrations and Customs Enforcement requiring that any deportations before Tuesday's election be approved at least at the level of the agency's regional directors, the U.S. law enforcement official told the AP.

The unusual directive suggests that the administration is sensitive to the political implications of Onyango's case coming to light so close to the election.

The East African nation has been fractured in violence in recent years, including a period of two months of bloodshed after December 2007 that killed 1,500 people.

The disclosure about Onyango came just one day after Obama's presidential campaign confirmed to the Times of London that Onyango, who has lived quietly in public housing in South Boston for five years, was Obama's half aunt on his father's side.

It was not immediately clear how Onyango might have qualified for public housing with a standing deportation order.

AP presidential poll: All even in the homestretch 
DAY
By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer 
Posted on Oct 22, 1:23 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The presidential race tightened after the final debate, with John McCain gaining among whites and people earning less than $50,000, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that shows McCain and Barack Obama essentially running even among likely voters in the election homestretch.

The poll, which found Obama at 44 percent and McCain at 43 percent, supports what some Republicans and Democrats privately have said in recent days: that the race narrowed after the third debate as GOP-leaning voters drifted home to their party and McCain's "Joe the plumber" analogy struck a chord.

Three weeks ago, an AP-GfK survey found that Obama had surged to a seven-point lead over McCain, lifted by voters who thought the Democrat was better suited to lead the nation through its sudden economic crisis.

The contest is still volatile, and the split among voters is apparent less than two weeks before Election Day.

"I trust McCain more, and I do feel that he has more experience in government than Obama. I don't think Obama has been around long enough," said Angela Decker, 44, of La Porte, Ind.

But Karen Judd, 58, of Middleton, Wis., said, "Obama certainly has sufficient qualifications." She said any positive feelings about McCain evaporated with "the outright lying" in TV ads and his choice of running mate Sarah Palin, who "doesn't have the correct skills."

The new AP-GfK head-to-head result is a departure from some, but not all, recent national polls.

Obama and McCain were essentially tied among likely voters in the latest George Washington University Battleground Poll, conducted by Republican strategist Ed Goeas and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. In other surveys focusing on likely voters, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Obama up by 9 percentage points, while a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center had Obama leading by 14. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, among the broader category of people registered to vote, found Obama ahead by 10 points.

Polls are snapshots of highly fluid campaigns. In this case, there is a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points; that means Obama could be ahead by as many as 8 points or down by as many as 6. There are many reasons why polls differ, including methods of estimating likely voters and the wording of questions.

Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin political science professor and polling authority, said variation between polls occurs, in part, because pollsters interview random samples of people.

"If they all agree, somebody would be doing something terribly wrong," he said of polls. But he also said that surveys generally fall within a few points of each other, adding, "When you get much beyond that, there's something to explain."

The AP-GfK survey included interviews with a large sample of adults including 800 deemed likely to vote. Among all 1,101 adults interviewed, the survey showed Obama ahead 47 percent to 37 percent. He was up by five points among registered voters.

A significant number of the interviews were conducted by dialing a randomly selected sample of cell phone numbers, and thus this poll had a chance to reach voters who were excluded from some other polls.

It was taken over five days from Thursday through Monday, starting the night after the candidates' final debate and ending the day after former Secretary of State Colin Powell broke with the Republican Party to endorse Obama.

McCain's strong showing is partly attributable to his strong debate performance; Thursday was his best night of the survey. Obama's best night was Sunday, hours after the Powell announcement, and the full impact of that endorsement may not have been captured in any surveys yet. Future polling could show whether either of those was merely a support "bounce" or something more lasting.

During their final debate, a feisty McCain repeatedly forced Obama to defend his record, comments and associations. He also used the story of a voter whom the Democrat had met in Ohio, "Joe the plumber," to argue that Obama's tax plan would be bad for working class voters.

"I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody," Obama told the man with the last name of Wurzelbacher, who had asked Obama whether his plan to increase taxes on those earning more than $250,000 a year would impede his ability to buy the plumbing company where he works.

On Wednesday, McCain's campaign unveiled a new TV ad that features that Obama quote, and shows different people saying: "I'm Joe the plumber." A man asks: "Obama wants my sweat to pay for his trillion dollars in new spending?"

Since McCain has seized on that line of argument, he has picked up support among white married people and non-college educated whites, the poll shows, while widening his advantage among white men. Black voters still overwhelmingly support Obama.

The Republican also has improved his rating for handling the economy and the financial crisis. Nearly half of likely voters think their taxes will rise under an Obama administration compared with a third who say McCain would raise their taxes.

Since the last AP-GfK survey in late September, McCain also has:

-Posted big gains among likely voters earning under $50,000 a year; he now trails Obama by just 4 percentage points compared with 26 earlier.

-Surged among rural voters; he has an 18-point advantage, up from 4.

-Doubled his advantage among whites who haven't finished college and now leads by 20 points. McCain and Obama are running about even among white college graduates, no change from earlier.

-Made modest gains among whites of both genders, now leading by 22 points among white men and by 7 among white women.

-Improved slightly among whites who are married, now with a 24-point lead.

-Narrowed a gap among unmarried whites, though he still trails by 8 points.

McCain has cut into Obama's advantage on the questions of whom voters trust to handle the economy and the financial crisis. On both, the Democrat now leads by just 6 points, compared with 15 in the previous survey.

Obama still has a larger advantage on other economic measures, with 44 percent saying they think the economy will have improved a year from now if he is elected compared with 34 percent for McCain.

Intensity has increased among McCain's supporters.

A month ago, Obama had more strong supporters than McCain did. Now, the number of excited supporters is about even.

Eight of 10 Democrats are supporting Obama, while nine in 10 Republicans are backing McCain. Independents are about evenly split.

Some 24 percent of likely voters were deemed still persuadable, meaning they were either undecided or said they might switch candidates. Those up-for-grabs voters came about equally from the three categories: undecideds, McCain supporters and Obama backers.

Said John Ormesher, 67, of Dandridge, Tenn.: "I've got respect for them but that's the extent of it. I don't have a whole lot of affinity toward either one of them. They're both part of the same political mess."


McCain Suggests Obama Tax Policies Are Socialist
NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: October 18, 2008
Filed at 10:37 a.m. ET

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Saturday accused Democratic rival Barack Obama of favoring a socialistic economic approach by supporting tax cuts and tax credits McCain says would merely shuffle wealth rather than creating it.

''At least in Europe, the Socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives,'' McCain said in a radio address. ''They use real numbers and honest language. And we should demand equal candor from Sen. Obama. Raising taxes on some in order to give checks to others is not a tax cut; it's just another government giveaway.''

McCain, though, has a health care plan girded with a similar philosophy. He proposes providing individuals with a $5,000 tax credit to buy health insurance. He would pay for his plan, in part, by considering as taxable income the money their employer spends on their health coverage.

McCain leveled his charge before a pair of appearances aimed at restoring his lead in critical battleground states. In both North Carolina and Virginia, where McCain was to speak later in the day, his campaign has surrendered its lead to Obama in various polls. President Bush, a Republican, won both states in 2004.

The state dips mimic larger national trends that have given Obama a lead over McCain following Wall Street chaos that focused the race on who is best equipped to restore the economy.

On Sunday, McCain was to travel to Ohio, where he might appear with ''Joe the Plumber,'' the Holland, Ohio, plumber Joe Wurzelbacher whom the senator has been portraying as emblematic of people with concerns about Obama's tax plans.

Wurzelbacher became the focal point of the final presidential debate after he met Obama earlier in the week and said the Democrat's tax proposal could keep him from buying the two-man plumbing company where he works. However, reports of Wurzelbacher's annual earnings suggest he would receive a tax cut rather than an increase under Obama's plan.

Obama has said his tax policies would cut payments for 95 percent of working Americans, while increasing them only for families making more than $250,000 a year. McCain has argued that 40 percent of Americans don't pay income taxes, either because they are seniors or don't meet minimum earnings thresholds, so the only way to cut their taxes is to give them various credits.

''In other words, Barack Obama's tax plan would convert the IRS into a giant welfare agency, redistributing massive amounts of wealth at the direction of politicians in Washington,'' McCain said in the radio address.

An Obama spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The last Democratic candidate to win North Carolina was Southerner Jimmy Carter in 1976 when the Republicans were reeling from President Nixon's resignation following the Watergate scandal. Virginia has not voted for a Democratic nominee since President Johnson's landslide victory in 1964.


NOPE!  SUPREME COURT NIXED THIS IDEA!  VOTE EARLY...
Ruling may impede thousands of Ohio voters 
DAY
By Ian Urbina    
Published on 10/16/2008 

More than 200,000 registered Ohio voters may be blocked from casting regular ballots on Election Day because of a federal appeals court decision on Tuesday requiring the disclosure of lists of voters whose names did not match those on government databases, state election officials and voting experts said.

The court decision requires Jennifer Brunner, the Ohio secretary of state, to provide the names to local election officials by Friday. Once the local officials have the names, they may require these voters to cast provisional ballots rather than regular ones, and they may ask partisan poll workers to challenge these voters on Election Day. Both possibilities could cause widespread problems when the voters show up at the polls.

Concerns about those problems led the Ohio attorney general to file an appeal of the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Brunner on Wednesday night.

Federal law requires states to verify voter registration applications with a government database like those for driver's licenses or Social Security cards. Names that do not match are flagged for further verification. Since Democrats have been more aggressive at registering new voters this year, the decision will probably affect their party's supporters disproportionately. Polling in the state shows Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, with a slight lead on his Republican challenger, Sen. John McCain.

Republicans have been angered by reports of voter registration fraud linked to groups allied with Democrats, like Acorn, a community organizing group with ties to Obama. This month, the Ohio Republican Party filed a motion seeking to force Brunner, a Democrat, to hand over the list of all registration applications that had been flagged when checked using the state or federal databases.

In court papers, Republicans said they wanted the names to file challenges.

The 50-page decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Cincinnati, reversed a 2-1 ruling by a three-judge panel of the same circuit last week.

It remains unclear when access to the lists would be given to local election officials. The appellate judges upheld a lower-court ruling giving Brunner until Friday to make the list available. Brunner said she planned to request more time to comply with the order.

Social Security data indicate that Ohio election officials found more than 200,000 names that did not match this year, and state election officials say their analysis of the data indicates that most of these are individual voters, not duplicate registrations. But Brunner said that problems with the databases could be the reason the names did not match.

”Federal government red tape, misstated technical information or glitches in databases should not be the basis for voters having to cast provisional ballots,” said Brunner, adding that she plans to require that notifications are sent to all voters whose records have discrepancies.

The Ohio Republican chairman, Robert T. Bennett, called the court ruling “a victory for the integrity of Ohio's election.”

”Once again, Jennifer Brunner has wasted valuable taxpayer dollars only to have her partisan agenda rejected by a court of law,” Bennett said.

Daniel P. Tokaji, a law professor and voting expert at Ohio State University, said he thought the appellate decision was wrong.

He said the stated purpose of the “matching” requirement in the federal law, the 2002 Help America Vote Act, was to accelerate procedures at the polls, somewhat like an E-Zpass lane at highway toll plazas. It was meant to allow voters to avoid showing identification if they had already been screened using database checks, he said.

The federal matching requirement, Tokaji said, was not meant to determine eligibility, deter voter fraud or raise added barriers for voters by forcing some to vote provisionally. “The majority judges don't seem to grasp this point,” he said.

There is a real risk of large-scale challenges of voters on Election Day, said Richard L. Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, but he added that any effort to use the list to purge the rolls before then could violate the federal provision that prohibits systematic voter removal purges within 90 days of a federal election.

Requiring voters to cast provisional ballots rather than regular ones is a concern because such ballots involve added verification and are often disqualified, according to voting experts.

Brunner said she was worried that requiring so many voters to cast provisional ballots would also raise tensions at the polls and worsen lines and confusion on Election Day in a year when she is expecting unprecedented turnout.

Wendy Weiser, a lawyer with the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University law school, said many voters were flagged erroneously because the databases used to check voter registrations were prone to errors. Most nonmatches are actually the result of typographical errors by government officials and computer errors, she said, not voter ineligibility.

In one audit of match failures in 2004 by New York City election officials, more than 80 percent of the failures were found to have resulted from errors by government officials; most of the remaining failures were because of immaterial voter errors.


VOTE-FRAUD-A-GO-GO
New York Post edtorial
Last updated: 6:48 am
October 9, 2008
Posted: 4:31 am

Let every vote count, is the Democratic Party's mantra these days. That slogan might better be: Let every vote count as often as we need to win.

Such, at any rate, are the tactics of ACORN, Barack Obama's favorite "community organizers," and its Project Vote - of which, the Democratic presidential candidate has boasted, "I started working as the director . . . here in Chicago."

ACORN has been implicated in voter-fraud schemes in 15 states - including Ohio, from where The Post's Jeane MacIntosh reports today that a Board of Elections investigation has unearthed evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Two voters told MacIntosh they had been dragooned by ACORN activists into registering several times - one reporting having signed up "10 to 15" times.

ACORN canvassers "would ask me if I was registered," he said. "I'd say yes and they'd ask me to do it again."

Tuesday, Nevada officials raided ACORN's Las Vegas offices as part of a probe into voter-registration fraud - noting that some forms submitted by ACORN workers included the names of Dallas Cowboys players.

Officials in Lake County, Ind. report that fully 1,100 of 2,000 new voter-registration forms delivered by ACORN were "suspicious."

In Washington state, officials recently closed an investigation into ballot cheating that resulted in prison terms.

ACORN submitted more than 800 phony registration forms in Independence, Mo., with one woman registering 10 times, using three birthdates, four different Social Security numbers and six different phone numbers.

And, as The Post reported Monday, another pro-Obama group, Vote Today Ohio, took advantage of a quirk in that state's law, which allows people to register and vote on the same day without having to prove residency, to drive hundreds of people from homeless shelters and drug-rehab centers to the polls.

John McCain's campaign says all this "doesn't pass the smell test."

Actually, it stinks.

And it's being done by a group with which Barack Obama has proudly been associated.

What, then, would they be able to pull off with a friend in the White House?


NUTS!
By JEANE MacINTOSH, New York Post Correspondent
October 9, 2008 --

CLEVELAND - Two Ohio voters, including Domino's pizza worker Christopher Barkley , claimed yesterday that they were hounded by the community-activist group ACORN to register to vote several times, even though they made it clear they'd already signed up.

Barkley estimated he'd registered to vote "10 to 15" times after canvassers for ACORN, whose political wing has endorsed Barack Obama, relentlessly pursued him and others.

Claims such as his have sparked election officials to probe ACORN.

"I kept getting approached by folks who asked me to register," Barkley said. "They'd ask me if I was registered. I'd say yes, and they'd ask me to do it [register] again.

"Some of them were getting paid to collect names. That was their sob story, and I bought it," he said.

Barkley is one of at least three people who have been subpoenaed by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections as part of a wider inquiry into possible voter fraud by ACORN. The group seeks to register low-income voters, who skew overwhelmingly Democratic.

"You can tell them you're registered as many times as you want - they do not care," said Lateala Goins, 21, who was subpoenaed.

"They will follow you to the buses, they will follow you home, it does not matter," she told The Post.

She added that she never put down an address on any of the registration forms, just her name.

A third subpoenaed voter, Freddie Johnson, 19, filled out registration cards 72 times over 18 months, officials said.

"It feeds the public perception that there could be [fraud], and that makes the pillars fall down," said local Board of Elections President Jeff Hastings.

Registering under a fake name is illegal. But officials usually catch multiple registrations and toss them.

The major risk of fraud growing out of mass canvassing involves the possibility of ineligible voters filing absentee ballots, and thus avoiding checks at polling places, said Republican National Committee chief counsel Sean Cairncross.

The subpoenas come as Republicans have ramped up criticism of ACORN. Officials in Nevada raided ACORN's Las Vegas office Tuesday, accusing the group of signing people up multiple times - in some cases under phony names, like those of Dallas Cowboys.

ACORN's Cleveland spokesman, Kris Harsh, said his group collected 100,000 voter-registration cards; only about 50 were questionable, he claimed.

As for workers, "We watch them like a hawk," he said.



'E-THIEF' IN CHAINS

NYPOST (also in the NYTIMES via Reuters)
Last updated: 6:44 am
October 9, 2008
Posted: 4:31 am
October 9, 2008

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Handcuffed and shackled, the son a Democratic Tennessee lawmaker pleaded not guilty

yesterday to hacking the e-account of Republican vicepresidential candidate Sarah Palin.

David Kernell, 20, entered the plea in federal court the same day prosecutors unsealed an indictment charging him with accessing Palin's e-mail account without authorization.

Kernell was released without posting bond, but the court forbade him from owning a computer and limited his Internet

use to checking e-mail and doing class work.

Kernell's father is longtime state Rep. Mike Kernell of Memphis.

David Kernell faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

Trial is set for Dec. 16.


OMG! The opposition insists on using something other than his two autobiographies for facts about "O" background - by the way, what do we know about him?
Palin Defends Terrorist Comment Against Obama
NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: October 5, 2008
Filed at 3:32 p.m. ET

BURLINGAME, Calif. (AP) -- Sarah Palin defended her claim that Barack Obama ''pals around with terrorists,'' saying the Democratic presidential nominee's association with a 1960s radical is an issue that is ''fair to talk about.''

Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate, launched the attack Saturday, repeating it at three different events and signaling a new strategy by John McCain's presidential campaign to go after Obama's character.

''The comments are about an association that has been known but hasn't been talked about,'' Palin said as she boarded her plane in Long Beach, Calif. ''I think it's fair to talk about where Barack Obama kicked off his political career, in the guy's living room.''

At issue is Obama's association with Bill Ayers, a founder of the radical Weather Underground group during the Vietnam era. Both have served on the same Chicago charity and live near each other. Ayers also held a meet-the-candidate event at his home for Obama when Obama first ran for office in the mid-1990s, the event cited by Palin.

But while Ayers and Obama are acquainted, the charge that they ''pal around'' is a stretch of any reading of the public record. And it's simply wrong to suggest that they were associated while Ayers was committing terrorist acts. Obama was 8 years old at the time the Weather Underground claimed credit for numerous bombings and was blamed for a pipe bomb that killed a San Francisco policeman.

At a rally in North Carolina, Obama countered that McCain and his campaign ''are gambling that he can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance.'' The Democrat described the criticism as ''Swiftboat-style attacks on me,'' a reference to the unsubstantiated allegations about 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry's decorated military record in Vietnam.


VOTER FRAUD EXPECTED TO BE RAMPANT
New York Post
By JOHN FUND
Posted: 4:03 am
October 5, 2008

Our nation may be on the brink of repeating the 2000 Florida election debacle, but this time in several states, with allegations of voter fraud, intimidation and flawed voting machines added to the generalized chaos that sent Bush v. Gore to the Supreme Court for overtime.

"If you think of election problems as akin to forest fires, the woods are no drier than they were in 2000, but many more people have matches," says Doug Chapin, editor of the nonpartisan Electionline.org.

The real battle that could decide this election may be fought by the squadrons of lawyers both sides have hired to prepare Florida-style challenges to the results in any close state. Once again, America's sloppy, fraud-prone voting system could turn Election Day into an Election Month of court challenges.

Election lawsuits are already piling up. A new federal mandate requires that all voters be allowed to cast a provisional ballot if their names don't appear on registration lists. Liberal groups are suing to have such ballots counted even if they are cast in precincts where the voter doesn't live. If the number of provisional ballots exceeds the margin of victory in the Senate race, you can bet lawyers will argue that "every vote must count," regardless of eligibility. Candidates may have to hope their vote totals are beyond the "margin of litigation."

The issue of photo ID has become symbolic of the clash of values on election standards. Supporters say it is bizarre that most states don't require a photo ID to vote, at a time when one is needed to buy an airline ticket, rent a video or cash a check. A Rasmussen Research poll found 82% of Americans believed voters should show photo ID, including 70% of Obama voters. But liberal groups insist that even laws that allow voters to use a paycheck or utility bill as ID discriminate against minority voters and could lead to "profiling."

But when voters are disfranchised by the counting of improperly cast ballots or outright fraud, their civil rights are violated just as surely as if they were prevented from voting. The integrity of the ballot box is just as important to the credibility of elections as access to it.

Political bosses such as Richard Daley or George Wallace may have died, but they have successors. Party machines in Hawaii and south Texas intimidate critics and journalists as they harvest votes from illegal aliens and the dead. A left-wing "community organizing" group called ACORN has seen its employees frequently convicted of voter registration fraud. This year its employees are under active investigation in several states. Perhaps one reason for ACORN's go-for-broke behavior is that Barack Obama used to be a lawyer and top trainer for the group. In August, the Obama campaign was caught misidentifying an $800,000 payment it had made to an ACORN subsidiary for "election services."

Even after Florida 2000, the media tend to downplay or ignore stories of election incompetence, manipulation or theft. Allowing such abuses to vanish into an informational black hole in effect legitimizes them. Should "anything goes" continue to accepted as an election standard, voters may wake up to a crisis even bigger than the 2000 Florida folly. Perhaps then it will demand to know why more wasn't done to fix the system before it failed again. That's why officials need to enforce whatever safeguards we have this year - and then lobby hard for better voter education and protections against fraud in the future.



US rescues giant mortgage lenders
I-BBC
8 September 2008

Latest news Q&A Analysis Reaction Global impact
 
In today's global economy, the sharp rise in worldwide banking stocks following the US government's takeover of troubled mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae was to be expected.  With the US Treasury moving to shore up the US housing market, its action will inevitably also offer a knock-on boost to mortgage provision around the world.

In time it should help to restore both confidence and available funds in the global credit market.  It may also help the US avoid a consumer-led recession that would drag down the global economy, starting with firms that export to the United States.

Direct investment

Overseas commercial banks - especially those in China and Japan - have directly invested billions of dollars in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  In addition, foreign banks have billions of dollars invested in US mortgage securities - effectively debt packages resold by US banks - that are guaranteed by the two agencies.

It was the high level of bad debt in these securities that caused the global credit crunch, as banks around the world realised that they had made significant losses on these investments.  As a result, the US government's bail out of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae - and the hope that it can see normality return to the American mortgage market - is an immediate and direct boost to a great many global lenders.

It will also inevitably greatly relieve global central banks, such as the Bank of England and the European Central Bank, which since last year have had to help UK and European lenders affected by the global credit squeeze.  In the UK, one lender, Northern Rock, ultimately had to be nationalised.

'Positively guarantee'

Chinese banks have been among the first to welcome the US government's move.   Flush with cash due to China's economic boom, China's commercial lenders have in recent years become the biggest overseas investors in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae as part of their wider purchase of US bonds.

The US government's action makes both this direct and indirect Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae debt far more secure.  China's three largest lenders - Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Construction Bank of China, and Bank of China - have $10.5bn (£5.9bn) directly invested in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae between them.

"We think this is good for Fannie and Freddie because the US government used to be invisibly guaranteeing them, but now it is taking explicit action to positively guarantee them," said Bank of China spokesman Wang Zhaowen.

ICBC spokesman Xie Taifeng added: "It showed the positive attitude of the US government, we welcome it."

'Eases worries'

The US government's move has also been warmly welcomed in Japan, which after China is the second-biggest direct overseas investor in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

"I think it will have a positive impact on the world economy, as it eases worries over the US economy through more stable financial markets in the US," said Japan's Finance Minister Bunmei Ibuki.

Japan's three largest banks - Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Mizuho Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial - had about $43.29bn in US mortgage debt securities, including those controlled by Fannie Mae and Freddie May by the end of March.  Japan's government, like its Chinese counterpart, also directly owns US bonds, but both do not disclose any exact figures.  



U.S. Announces Takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
NYTIMES
Article Tools Sponsored By
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: September 7, 2008

Filed at 11:34 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration, acting to avert the potential for major financial turmoil, announced Sunday that the federal government was taking control of mortgage giants Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac. (NYSE:FRE)

Officials announced that the executives of both institutions had been replaced. Herb Allison, a former vice chairman of Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER) (OOTC:MERIZ) , was selected to head Fannie Mae, and David Moffett, a former vice chairman of US Bancorp (NYSE:USB) , was picked to head Freddie Mac.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says the actions were being taken because "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so large and so interwoven in our financial system that a failure of either of them would cause great turmoil in our financial markets here at home and around the globe."

The huge potential liabilities facing each company, as a result of soaring mortgage defaults, could cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars, but Paulson stressed that the financial impacts if the two companies had been allowed to fail would be far more serious.

"A failure would affect the ability of Americans to get home loans, auto loans and other consumer credit and business finance," Paulson said.

Both companies were placed into a government conservatorship that will be run by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the new agency created by Congress this summer to regulate Fannie and Freddie.

The Federal Reserve and other federal banking regulators said in a joint statement Sunday that "a limited number of smaller institutions" have significant holdings of common or preferred stock shares in Fannie and Freddie, and that regulators were "prepared to work with these institutions to develop capital-restoration plans."

The two companies had nearly $36 billion in preferred shares outstanding as of June 30, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.




Campaigns take foreign cash, seek details later
NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: August 20, 2008
Filed at 9:43 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain has consistently followed the government's instructions for keeping prohibited foreign money out of their presidential campaigns, and some of that banned money has slipped into Obama's campaign.

During interviews with 123 donors in 11 countries, The Associated Press found contributions Obama accepted from at least three foreigners. Just five of the donors checked, three for Obama and two for McCain, said the campaigns asked to see copies of their current U.S. passports -- as instructed by the Federal Election Commission to avoid legal problems.

Obama's campaign said it would refund the money to the foreign donors the AP identified.

One donor, Tom Sanderson of Canada, made clear his $500 contribution came from a foreign source. He included a note that said, ''I am not a American citizen!'' Obama's campaign took the money anyway, even publishing Sanderson's cautionary statement about his citizenship in its official finance reports.

Democratic hopeful Obama and Republican rival McCain portray themselves as meticulously abiding by campaign finance laws. But the fundraising review of hundreds of thousands of donations -- involving AP bureaus around the globe -- found clear evidence that both campaigns took money first and asked questions later, if ever. Shining a light on a weakness in the nation's campaign finance laws, the review turned up a smattering of illegal foreign donations to Obama as well as missing details from both Obama and McCain in federal paperwork the law requires.

Only American citizens or green card holders are legally permitted to give campaigns money, a longtime ban intended to protect U.S. elections from foreign meddling and influence. The Federal Election Commission instructs that candidates ask to see an overseas donor's current U.S. passport, considered the strongest safeguard against illegal foreign money. Screening donors can be a daunting task in a presidential race, especially one with record sums and millions of dollars coming in over the Internet.

Obama has raised at least $2 million abroad, far more than McCain's total of at least $229,000, according to the AP's review of campaign finance records. The amount reported flowing in from outside the U.S. is a small percentage of the roughly $390 million raised so far by Obama and the $167 million by McCain. But few contributors contacted by the AP said the campaigns asked to see their passports.

''I donated to the Obama campaign because I was so excited and thrilled to hear him speak,'' said Sanderson, a property manager in Calgary. ''I like what he says and I like what he represents, and it's a world stage today for any political leader.''

Sanderson said he donated money using Obama's Web site and doesn't remember checking a box certifying he was a U.S. citizen, instead noting next to his address that he wasn't. After the AP contacted Sanderson by phone, he asked the campaign for a refund: ''It was an error of me to give the donation, and it was an error that it was accepted,'' he said.

A spokesman for Obama, Ben LaBolt, said campaign workers ''consistently review our procedures to make sure that we are taking every reasonable step to ensure that the contributions we receive are appropriate and follow FEC guidelines, and we will do so again in light of this new information.''

McCain's campaign said it was impractical to ask Internet contributors for copies of their passports. ''We're always looking for ways to best comply with all provisions of campaign finance regulations, and obviously take swift action anytime flags are raised regarding potentially problematic campaign contributions,'' spokesman Brian Rogers said.

The AP analyzed 1.27 million campaign contributions to Obama and McCain to identify 6,948 contributions from people who appeared to live outside the United States and who were not obviously in the U.S. military. The AP contacted 123 donors in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain and Switzerland and interviewed them about their citizenship and donations.

Obama has far more overseas donors than McCain, and that was reflected in the number of interviews: the AP was able to reach 116 Obama supporters, six McCain backers and one donor who gave to both.

Australian Richard Watters gave Obama's campaign $1,000 over the Internet, entering a fake U.S. passport number -- a random jumble of numbers and letters -- so the site would take his money. He said he also checked a box stating that he was an American living overseas, ''because I could see it wasn't going anywhere if I didn't do that.''

Watters was surprised when a reporter told him it was illegal for foreigners to donate to U.S. presidential campaigns, but he said he was still glad he gave.

''I wouldn't give up, because I believe in the man -- I really do,'' said Watters, 76, of Sydney, a stock market trader. ''Maybe I just feel he can put a smile back on the face of the world.''

Swiss citizen Gilles Massamba gave Obama at least $436 and received campaign souvenirs. He said the campaign didn't ask whether he was a U.S. citizen.

Just three donors to Obama and two for McCain told the AP the campaigns asked to see their passports. One Obama donor, in France, was asked to show her U.S. driver's license at a fundraising event. Others said if they did anything, they checked a box on the campaigns' Web sites affirming they were U.S. citizens or were asked to provide their passport numbers, or both.

A spokesman for the FEC, Bob Biersack, said it was prudent for the campaigns to ask online donors to check a box confirming they are U.S. citizens, but obtaining copies of U.S. passports from overseas donors is the only protection against enforcement action.

In dozens of instances, the AP could not determine whether donors had foreign addresses since their addresses were missing from campaign finance reports. Other key information also was missing. McCain and Obama each omitted information identifying the employers for at least 10,000 contributions in their most recent donor data. In most cases, the campaigns appear to have asked supporters to provide those details.

The ramifications of accepting foreign money can vary from political embarrassment to federal investigations: The last major foreign money scandal, a 1996 Democratic case involving Asian money and the Clinton-Gore re-election effort, resulted in record FEC fines totaling $719,000 and probation for some of those involved.

Sometimes the foreign connection comes from who collects the money rather than who donates it. McCain's campaign announced this month it will return $50,000 solicited by a foreigner and business partner of a McCain volunteer fundraiser in Florida.

The candidates are supposed to disclose detailed information about donors who give $200 or more, including their addresses, employers and occupations. At a minimum, if donors give more than $50, the candidates are expected to record their names.

No donor names appeared in Obama's campaign finance reports for a handful of donations over $50. In dozens of cases, there were names but no addresses. ''Anonymous,'' ''999 Anonymous Street,'' ''XX'' or ''Info Requested'' are listed for roughly 200 donations to McCain.

The requirement to include employers is intended to let the public and news media see who is giving and help identify favors that donors or their employers may receive.

The FEC expects campaigns to follow up with donors to seek missing information, but they do not have to try very hard: One attempt, such as a postcard sent to the contributor's address, is considered due diligence under fundraising rules.

In Canada, Sanderson left a message with Obama's campaign and sent an e-mail after learning his donation was illegal. He said he hoped his contribution wouldn't ''rustle any feathers.'' Sanderson considered a mischievous move to neutralize the political value his donation might have, but in the end, just asked for a refund.

''I was going to donate to McCain last night,'' he said, ''and my wife talked me out of it.''

--------

Associated Press writers Anrica Deb in Amsterdam, Netherlands; Jorge Sainz in Madrid, Spain; Matt Moore in Berlin; Eliane Engeler and Alexander Higgins in Geneva; Min Lee, Jeremiah Marquez and Dikky Sinn in Hong Kong; Steve Weizman in Jerusalem; Devon Haynie in Johannesburg, South Africa; Gaelle Faure and Elaine Ganley in Paris; Marta Falconi in Rome; Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, Australia; Rob Gillies in Toronto; and Stephanie Garlow, Ann Sanner and Christine Simmons in Washington contributed to this report.






Showdown at Saddleback
NYTIMES
By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Published: August 17, 2008

While normal people were out having fun Saturday night, I was home in front of the TV. But I wasn’t enjoying the Olympics. Your diligent columnist was dutifully watching Barack Obama and John McCain answer the Rev. Rick Warren’s questions at Saddleback Church. Virtue is sometimes rewarded. The event was worth watching — and for me yielded three conclusions.

Warren’s queries were simple but probing. He was fair to both candidates, his manner was relaxed but serious, and he neither went for “gotcha” questions nor pulled his punches. And his procedure of asking virtually identical questions to each candidate during his turn on stage paid off. It allowed us to see the two giving revealingly different answers to the same question.

So, I say, with all due respect to Jim Lehrer, Tom Brokaw and Bob Schieffer — the somewhat nondiverse group selected by the debates commission as the three presidential debate moderators — one of them should step aside for Warren.

Second, it was McCain’s night.

Obama made no big mistakes. But his tendency to somewhat windy generalities meant he wasn’t particularly compelling. McCain, who went second, was crisp by contrast, and his anecdotes colorful.

Now I’m not entirely unbiased (!), so I don’t quite trust my initial judgment in such matters. But it was confirmed the next morning. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported on “Meet the Press” that “the Obama people must feel that he didn’t do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context. ... What they’re putting out privately is that McCain ... may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama.”

There’s no evidence that McCain had any such advantage. But the fact that Obama’s people made this suggestion means they know McCain outperformed him.

Third, Obama and McCain really do have different “worldviews,” to use Rick Warren’s term.

Perhaps the most revealing moment was the two candidates’ response to a question about evil. Yes, evil — that negation of the good that, Friedrich Nietzsche to the contrary notwithstanding, we seem not to have moved beyond.

Warren asked whether evil exists and if it does, “do we ignore it? Do we negotiate with it? Do we contain it? Do we defeat it?”

Obama and McCain agreed evil exists and couldn’t be ignored. But then their answers diverged.

Obama said that “we see evil all the time” — in Darfur, on the streets of our cities, in child abusers. Such evils, he continued, need to be “confronted squarely.” And while we can’t “erase evil from the world,” we can be “soldiers” in the task of confronting it when we see it.

But, Obama added, “Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for us to have some humility” as we confront evil. Why? Because “a lot of evil has been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil.” After all, “just because we think our intentions are good doesn’t always mean that we’re going to be doing good.”

It’s nice to see a liberal aware of the limits of good intentions — indeed, that the road to hell is paved with them. But here as elsewhere, Obama stayed at a high level of abstraction. It would have been interesting if Warren had asked a follow-up question: Where in particular has the United States in recent years — at home or especially abroad — perpetrated evil in the name of confronting evil? Hasn’t the overwhelming problem been, rather, a reluctance to effectively confront evil — in Darfur, or Rwanda, or pre-9/11 Afghanistan?

John McCain appears to think so. Unlike Obama, he took the question about evil to be in the first instance about 9/11. McCain asserted that “of course evil must be defeated,” and he put “radical Islamic extremism,” Al Qaeda in particular, at the top of his to-defeat list. In this context, McCain discussed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and concluded by mentioning “the young men and women who are serving this nation in uniform.”

So while Obama talked of confronting evil, McCain spoke of defeating it. Obama took the view that evil is generally abroad in the world; McCain focused on radical Islam and 9/11. Obama claimed that all of us must be metaphorical “soldiers” against evil; McCain paid tribute to actual American soldiers. And McCain couldn’t resist saying again Saturday night that if he has to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell to get him and bring him to justice, he’ll do so.

Rick Warren remarked Saturday night that he wanted to help us understand Obama’s and McCain’s different worldviews. He accomplished his purpose.





US rivals shine at church forum 
By Rajesh Mirchandani, I-BBC, 17 August 2008
BBC News, Lake Forest, California  (ILLINOIS - you can tell this I-BBC)

The crowd in the cavernous auditorium were well-dressed, largely white and impeccably polite.  In the unforgiving sun they had queued to go through security screening and take their seats. Helicopters buzzed overhead and secret service look-outs prowled the roof.  Inside, a well-dressed band played soft rock, interspersed with singers belting out devotion.  When a steely-jawed MC introduced the national anthem, everyone in the auditorium stood up, and, to my amazement, so did most of the people in our press tent.

Even when the sound feed to the press tent faltered and died through the first notes, members of the press corps started their own sing-along of the Star Spangled Banner (your correspondent not included). This was clearly a patriotic crowd both inside and out.

Heckling 'unthinkable'

Billed as the first joint appearance by both presidential hopefuls, it was tightly controlled to avoid clashes. 

This was not a debate. It was a "civil forum" organised by Saddleback Church, a huge and hugely influential ministry run by Pastor Rick Warren, a multi-million selling author.  He arrived on stage with smiles and to great applause. He joked with the crowd, fully aware of the banks of cameras lined along the back wall, the two tents full of journalists watching on screens outside and the millions of people watching live on TV.

This was a well-organised television event. When we journalists arrived, not only were we given our access passes and parking passes, but also a detailed schedule of events, complete with several commercial breaks, each timed at exactly three minutes and 15 seconds.  The questions had been devised by the pastor, with some suggestions from others, but they had not come from the audience. There was no chance for audience participation and in an environment as polite as this, any heckling would have been unthinkable.

The candidates were not put in difficult positions: they did not share the stage and there was no opportunity for prickly body language or angry rebuttals.  First Barack Obama was asked questions, for an hour, by the pastor. Then John McCain faced the same.

The only time they were on stage together was at the end of Mr Obama's session when Pastor Warren thanked him and introduced Mr McCain.  The two candidates shook hands. Mr Obama went in for a hug and McCain awkwardly complied.

The questions were carefully chosen: "What was your greatest moral failure?", "Who are the three wisest people in your life?" and, finally for each, a simple one but a toughie: "Why do you want to be president?"

'Saved and forgiven'

The solo sessions actually provided an interesting comparison between the candidates. It allowed them to answer the questions without being attacked, as they might be in a debate scenario. In a way, it took the politics out of a political event.  Their answers revealed much.

Barack Obama, when asked "what does it mean to you to believe in Christ?" talked at length about his Christian faith, while John McCain simply answered: "I'm saved and forgiven."

Mr McCain then went on to tell an often heard story about his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, when a guard loosened his ties and on Christmas Day drew a cross in the dirt, allowing them both to pray.  In fact, Mr McCain spent a lot of time telling stories of Vietnam. It was, understandably, a pivotal time in his life and one that he draws much inspiration from. The audience appreciated it.  By contrast, it was Barack Obama who made much of his Christian beliefs and how they would underpin his presidency. And the audience appreciated this too.

Yet Mr Obama had the harder time. America's conservative Christians traditionally vote Republican and - even though they are less enthusiastic about John McCain than, say, George Bush - the majority still look likely to support him come November.  Mr McCain was, as it were, preaching to the converted, and drew many more cheers, quite a few laughs and louder applause.

However, this huge voting group (one estimate suggests 1 in 4 American adults call themselves born-again Christians) is fragmented as never before.  Some 12% of them, according to opinion polls, say they are undecided. That is a lot of votes and Mr Obama and Mr McCain both know that.  


Candidates Differ On Abortion Issue 
Comments come at forum on faith sponsored by minister 
DAY
By CHARLES BABINGTON and BETH FOUHY, Associated Press    
Published on 8/17/2008 

Lake Forest, Calif. - Presidential contenders Barack Obama and John McCain differed sharply on abortion Saturday, with McCain saying a baby's human rights begin “at conception,” while Obama restated his support for legalized abortion.  Appearing on the same stage for the first time in months, although they overlapped only briefly, the two men shared their views on a range of moral, foreign and domestic issues as they near their respective nominating conventions.

Obama said he would limit abortions in the late stages of pregnancy if there are exceptions for the mother's health. He said he knew that people who consider themselves pro-life will find his stance “inadequate.”

He said the government should do more to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to help struggling new mothers, such as providing needed resources to the poor, and better adoption services.  McCain expressed his anti-abortion stand simply and quickly, saying human rights begin the instant a human egg is fertilized. McCain, who adopted a daughter from Bangladesh, also called for making adoption easier.  The men's comments came at a two-hour forum on faith hosted by the minister Rick Warren at his megachurch in Orange County, Calif. Obama joined Warren for the first hour, and Obama for the second.

The two candidates briefly shook hands and hugged each other during the switch.  Warren asked both men the same questions.

McCain said he did not see or hear Obama's session, which might have given him an advantage.

Obama said America's greatest moral failure is its insufficient help to the disadvantaged. He noted that the Bible quotes Jesus as saying “whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.” He said the maxim should apply to victims of poverty, sexism and racism.

McCain said the nation's greatest moral shortcoming is its failure to “devote ourselves to causes greater than our self-interests.”

After the September 2001 terrorist attacks, McCain said, there should have been a national push for joining the Peace Corps and other volunteer organizations. His comment seemed an indirect criticism of President Bush, who had urged tax cuts and more shopping at the time to stimulate the economy.  McCain also said he would pursue Osama bin Laden “to the gates of Hell,” another goal that might be seen as a swipe at the Bush administration.

Both men said marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Obama added that he supports civil unions for gay partners, which would give them rights such as hospital visits with one another. He said he opposed a constitutional ban on gay marriage, calling the matter a state issue.

McCain's answer was less clear. If a federal court ordered his state, Arizona, to honor gay marriages allowed in Massachusetts, he said, “then I would favor a constitutional amendment. Until then, I believe the states should make the decisions within their own states.”

In several cases, Obama gave a Christian interpretation to his generally liberal political views. He said he is redeemed by Jesus, who died for his sins.  McCain tended to give shorter, less complex answers, winning somewhat more applause than Obama from the large, evangelical church's audience. On domestic matters, he restated his call to “drill now” in U.S. lands and waters for oil and natural gas.

McCain, asked the toughest decision in his life, cited his refusal to be released ahead of fellow U.S. prisoners of war in North Vietnam. “It took a lot of prayer,” he said.  He retold his story of a Christmas Day celebration outside his cell, when a prison guard etched a cross into the dirt. “For a moment, we were just two Christians worshipping there,” McCain said.

When Warren asked Obama to define the word “rich,” the Illinois senator teased the pastor about the mammoth sales of his book, “The Purpose Driven Life.” Obama noted his plan to add a new Social Security payroll tax to incomes above $250,000 a year.

McCain said, “some of the richest people I've ever known in my life are the most unhappy.”

He said being rich should be defined by having a home and a prosperous and safe world. Without mentioning Obama, he said some want to increase taxes.

”I don't want to take any money from the rich. I want everybody to get rich,” McCain said.

When pushed on an exact number, he joked: “If you're just talking about income, how about five million?” He added, “I'm sure that comment will be distorted.”

Asked to name three wise people they would listen to, Obama named his wife, Michelle; his maternal grandmother, who lives in Hawaii; and, not limiting himself to only a third, named several Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

McCain named Gen. David Petreaus, head of U.S. troops in Iraq; U.S. Rep. and veteran civil rights leader John Lewis, D-Ga.; and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, a top adviser to his campaign.  He lauded Whitman for turning a five-person business into a billion-dollar piece of the economy. “It's one of these great economic success stories,” McCain said.

Obama, asked his most significant policy shift in the last 10 years, cited welfare reform. As an Illinois state senator, he worked to mitigate what he thought could be “disastrous” effects of President Clinton's welfare reform effort. But over time he said he came to embrace Clinton's approach.

”We have to have work as a centerpiece of any social policy,” Obama said.

Asked why they want to be president, Obama said the United States should be an empathetic power for good in the world, a mission he fears is slipping away.

McCain said, “I want to inspire a generation of Americans to serve a cause greater than its self interest. . But I also believe we face enormous challenges, both of national security and domestic.”



Obama, McCain Diverge On Energy Solution; Concerns over $4-a-gallon gas and job losses have emerged as the campaign's hottest issues. 
DAY
By Tom Raum, Associated Press    
Published on 8/6/2008 
 
Youngstown, Ohio - Democrat Barack Obama blamed Republican energy policies for some of the nation's economic woes Tuesday as his GOP rival John McCain advocated a large expansion of nuclear power.

Both candidates roamed the economically depressed Rust Belt touting their energy plans as concerns over $4-a-gallon gasoline and job losses have emerged as the presidential campaign's hottest issues.

Obama told an audience in a Youngstown, Ohio, high school gym that the Bush energy policy, crafted in large part by Vice President Dick Cheney, an ex-oilman, tilted to provide tax breaks and favorable treatment for Big Oil and that McCain would expand oil industry tax breaks by $4 billion.

Obama has proposed an excess profits tax on Big Oil to finance a $1,000-per-family energy rebate to deal with the high cost of gasoline.

Oil giant Exxon-Mobil “makes in 30 seconds what the typical Ohio worker makes in a year,” Obama said. “We need more jobs and economic development. Why don't we focus on clean energy and reopening factories and putting people back to work? Nobody is benefiting from jobs that are leaving the community,” he said.

Outside Detroit, another depressed Rust Belt city, McCain became the first presidential candidate in recent memory to tour a nuclear plant. His energy proposals include building 45 nuclear power plants by 2030 to reduce the nation's reliance on oil imports.

”Sen. Obama has said that expanding our nuclear power plants 'doesn't make sense for America.' He also says no to nuclear storage and reprocessing. I couldn't disagree more. I have proposed a plan to build additional nuclear plants. That means new jobs, and that means new energy. If we want to enable the technologies of tomorrow like plug-in electric cars, we need electricity to plug into,” McCain said at the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Plant.

”Now, nuclear power alone is not enough. Drilling alone is not enough. We need to do all this and more. That is why I am calling for an 'all of the above' approach.” Like Obama, McCain has multibillion-dollar long-term plans to reduce oil imports.

Responding to safety concerns that have long stalled the nuclear industry's growth, McCain boasts that the Navy, in which he served as a fighter pilot, has safely operated nuclear power plants in aircraft carriers and submarines without an accident in 60 years.

Yet recent events somewhat undercut that message. Last week, the Navy announced that one of its nuclear-powered submarines, the USS Houston, had leaked minimally radioactive water into harbors since March as the sub traveled around the Pacific.

The two candidates sparred as a new Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday showed that solid margins among women, minorities and young voters have powered Obama to a 6-percentage-point lead over McCain.

Obama is ahead of his Republican rival 47 percent to 41 percent among registered voters, the poll showed.

McCain is leading by 10 points among whites and is even with Obama among men, groups with whom Republicans traditionally do well in national elections. He has a 17-point lead with white men and was running strongly among married men, rural residents and white evangelicals.

Obama leads by 13 points among women, by 30 points among voters up to age 34, and by 55 points among blacks, Hispanics and other minorities, the poll shows. He also is doing well with unmarried men, moderates and city dwellers, and has a 12-point lead among those saying they definitely plan to vote.

With polls showing increasing numbers of voters favoring oil drilling off the U.S. coast, Obama has scrambled in recent days to add new elements to his overall long-term energy policy of promoting fuel-efficient autos and developing alternate energy sources. He dropped his total opposition to more oil drilling if a limited, environmentally careful offshore plan would help pass a long-term energy bill, and he reversed himself to advocate release of oil from the nation's strategic reserve to help drive down gasoline prices in the short-run.

When Obama emphasized the key role of Cheney, the unpopular vice president, in Bush's energy policy, Republicans were quick to point out a contradiction in his criticism.

”President Bush, he had an energy policy. He turned to Dick Cheney and he said, 'Cheney, go take care of this,”' Obama said. “Cheney met with renewable-energy folks once and oil and gas (executives) 40 times. McCain has taken a page out of the Cheney playbook.”

But Obama himself voted for a 2005 energy bill backed by Bush that included billions in subsidies for oil and natural gas production, a measure Cheney played a major role in developing. McCain opposed the bill on grounds it included billions in unnecessary tax breaks for the oil industry.

The Obama campaign has said the Illinois senator supported the legislation because it included huge investments in renewable energy. And Obama aides emphasized on Tuesday that Obama at the time had voted for an amendment to strip the legislation of the tax breaks for the oil and gas industries. When the amendment was defeated, he voted for the overall measure.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds, said, “Barack Obama is opposed to offshore drilling and is also opposed to admitting that he voted for the same corporate giveaways for Big Oil that he's campaigning against today.”

Continuing to criticize McCain's energy program at an afternoon town hall at Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, Obama noted that his own energy policy had won the support of oilman T. Boone Pickens.

”T. Boone Pickens is about as conservative a guy as there is. That's a serious Republican. Oil man. Driller. He says we can't drill our way out of the problem. I think he knows more about it than John McCain,” Obama said.

Pickens said Monday he was “strongly encouraged by Sen. Obama's speech on America's energy future. Foreign oil is killing our economy and putting our nation at risk.”

Pickens has been on a $58 million publicity tour to promote his plan to erect wind turbines in the Midwest to generate electricity, replacing the 22 percent of U.S. power produced from natural gas. The freed-up natural gas then could be used for transportation.

McCain also produced a new TV ad that emphasized his independent streak to counter Obama's charges that he's the same as President Bush.

”Washington's broken. John McCain knows it. We're worse off than we were four years ago,” says the ad. “He's the original maverick.”

It also tried to cast McCain, a four-term Arizona senator, as a change agent, a claim Obama has made for himself.

”Only McCain has taken on big tobacco, drug companies, fought corruption in both parties,” the ad says. “He'll reform Wall Street, battle big oil, make America prosper again.”

It does not mention areas where McCain and Bush agree, like tax cuts, the Iraq war and free-market economics, a point the Obama campaign highlighted in its response to the ad.
 


McCain, too, will run Olympics ads
NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: August 6, 2008
Filed at 9:03 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- John McCain won't cede the pricey Olympics airwaves to Barack Obama.

The Republican presidential candidate plans to run $6 million worth of TV commercials on NBC broadcast and cable channels during the Summer Games in Beijing. McCain committed the money just a few days before Friday's opening ceremonies and a few weeks after his Democratic rival's campaign signaled its intention to spend some $5 million on ads.

Republican and Democratic officials with knowledge of the purchases confirmed the advertising plans that were first reported by the Web site of Advertising Age, a magazine that covers the industry.

Such extensive purchases of air time give both candidates wide exposure before the Democratic National Convention, to be held the last week in August, and the Republican National Convention, to be held the first week in September.

Typically, presidential candidates spend little on advertising during the August summertime lull when attention is focused not on politics but on the Olympics. By running ads on NBC, both candidates are sure to hit a high number of viewers. At the same time, both candidates seem to have plenty of money to spend.

A prolific fundraiser, Obama has chosen not to accept public financing for the general election, and the spending constraints that come with it. McCain will accept the taxpayer money and limits, meaning he must spend his primary money now before the start of his convention.


YES, IT IS - AP has the same info today, August 6
McCain Outspends Obama on Olympic Ads: Source
By REUTERS
Published: August 5, 2008
Filed at 1:43 p.m. ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain's campaign has bought $6 million in TV advertising time during the Olympic Games from NBC Universal, a source familiar with the deal said on Tuesday, topping an earlier purchase by Democratic rival Barack Obama.

McCain's last-minute commercial buy covers advertising on both the NBC network and cable channels such as USA, MSNBC and CNBC, all of which will carry parts of the Summer Games. Coverage of the Olympics begins on Friday with the Opening Ceremony.

Last month, Obama bought $5 million worth of commercial time from NBC Universal, a source said, believed to be an unprecedented political media buy for the Olympics.

NBC Universal, which reportedly has sold 30-second spots to various corporate advertisers for around $750,000 a piece, has nearly reached its target of just over $1 billion in commercial sales. It is unclear how much McCain's campaign paid for its spots.

A division of General Electric Co, NBC Universal is planning carry a record 3,600 hours of Olympic coverage across its broadcast, cable TV and online outlets. Live web streaming of events will account for about 2,200 hours of the coverage.

Both NBC and McCain's campaign declined to comment.



Racial politics moving to the fore in campaign 
DAY
By MICHAEL COOPER and POWELL    
Published on 8/1/2008 


Orlando, Fla. - Sen. John McCain's campaign accused Sen. Barack Obama on Thursday of playing “the race card,” citing his remarks that Republicans would try to scare voters by pointing out he “doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”

The exchange injected racial politics front and center into the general election campaign for the first time, after it became a dominant subtext in the primary between Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. It came as the McCain campaign was intensifying its attacks, trying to throw Obama off course before the conventions.

”Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck,” McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, charged in a statement with which McCain later said he agreed. “It's divisive, negative, shameful and wrong.”

Davis was referring to comments that Obama made Wednesday when he reacted to the increasingly negative tone and negative advertisements that have been coming his way from the McCain campaign in recent days, including one released Wednesday that likens Obama's celebrity status to that of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

”So nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they're going to try to do is make you scared of me,” Obama said Wednesday in Springfield, Mo. “You know, he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He's risky. That's essentially the argument they're making.”

With its criticism, the McCain campaign was ensuring that Obama's race - he is the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas - would be a factor in coverage of the presidential race.

It might tap into the qualms some white, working-class voters in swing states may have about a black candidate, or it could ricochet back against the McCain campaign, which has been accused even by some Republicans of engaging in negative campaigning.

McCain addressed Davis' “race card” comments later Thursday. “I agree with it, and I'm disappointed that Sen. Obama would say the things he's saying,” McCain said in Racine, Wis. 
 


Barack Obama has a 10 to 1 advantage over John McCain in expatriate donations from Europe
Hartford Courant
By GREGORY KATZ | Associated Press Writer
7:19 AM EDT, July 25, 2008

LONDON (AP) _ Barack Obama's campaign has received roughly 10 times more money from declared U.S. donors living in Germany, France and Britain than his Republican rival, reflecting his popularity in Europe as he makes his first tour of the continent as the presumed Democratic nominee.

Federal Election Commission reports show Obama has raised at least $1 million from donors who identify themselves as Americans living in Great Britain, Germany and France, while John McCain has taken in at least $150,000.

Some donors say the huge disparity, which also exists in overall funding raising in which Obama has raked in $338 million to $126.3 million for McCain, is more about disliking Bush and the prospect of another Republican succeeding him than it is an affection for Obama.

"I contributed because of the absolutely appalling performance of the Bush administration during the last eight years," said Eileen Taylor, a chief operating officer for Deutsche Bank in London.

She made two $2,300 donations, the maximum allowed, and is also working on a voter registration drive to make it easier for Americans abroad to cast ballots in the November election.

"We're actively signing people up to vote," she said. "Democrats Abroad is working with a lot of companies to set up voter registration and absentee ballots. The key message is that it's not about the money. A lot of people are putting emotional energy into this campaign."

Only U.S. citizens are permitted to contribute to presidential campaigns. The European totals include contributions of $200 or more from each individual as election laws do not require campaigns to itemize lesser amounts. So it's possible Obama has received additional money from smaller donors. McCain, however, publishes all contributions, even amounts smaller than $200.

While Bush is unpopular at home, hostility to the outgoing president appears to be much deeper among expatriate donors than the general population in the United States. Obama's many backers in Europe say they are motivated by a yearning for America to once again be viewed with respect by the rest of the world.

Gerald Wood, an American living in Germany, said he contributed $1,000 to Obama because he wants to see America's reputation restored after it "worsened" during the Bush years.

"For me Barack Obama is the one who can improve America's image," he said, comparing the youthful candidate to John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. "I want more bipartisanship, to give the land a vision."

The amounts raised in Europe are not terribly significant in the costly White House race, but the disparity between the two candidates underscores the Democratic candidate's appeal on a continent where Obamamania seems to have taken hold of expatriates and Europeans alike.

It also may reflect the Obama campaign's adroit use of the Internet as a prime fundraising tool while the McCain camp was for a long time saddled with a Web site that made it difficult for Americans abroad to contribute.

Patricia Toner, a retired IBM employee who lives in southern France, said she gave a total of $2,000 to Obama's campaign after receiving a mass e-mail from a friend during the primary season that contained a link to the candidate's Web site.

"I'm a retired information technology professional and I found their Web site so well crafted," she said.

Mary Jo Jacobi, a Republican who was an adviser to President Reagan and the first President Bush, conceded that Obama had a big advantage over McCain in Internet campaigning.

"A lot of McCain backers were saying it was very hard or impossible to donate over the Web site," she said. "Obama made it easy. Obama has been much more sophisticated about Internet usage, and when you live overseas that's the easiest way to contribute."

She also acknowledged Obama's message of change had drawn a positive response among Americans abroad, pointing out that people who uproot themselves to work overseas are by nature receptive to change. An estimated quarter of a million Americans live in Britain alone.

In London, many of Obama's donors are members of London's high-flying financial and legal elite, and also include information technology executives, architects and a celebrity restaurateur.

It has become fashionable to support him ever since Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of newspaper mogul Rupert Murdoch, hosted a high profile fundraiser for Obama in April.

The occupations listed on the FEC reports are impressive: lawyers, corporate vice presidents and chief executives are common.

The Obama list includes corporate luminaries like Joanna Shields, the chief executive officer of the popular Bebo social networking site; Ruth Rogers, co-founder of the exclusive River Cafe and wife of celebrated architect Richard Rogers; David Giampaolo, chief executive officer of the private equity investment company Pi Capital; John Graham, a director of the investment firm Rogge Global Partners; and Cheryl Solomon, general counsel for The Gucci Group.

Each donor is permitted to give a maximum of $2,300 for each election, but since the primaries are regarded as a separate election, a person can make two separate donations of $2,300 before the general election in November. While some gave the maximum, others made contributions in the $10 and $25 range.

McCain also enjoyed support from a number of investment bankers and international banking executives, but he received donations from only 63 individuals in Britain while Obama has about 600 donors.

McCain did receive money from Charles Thompson, with Saudi Petroleum Overseas, and Tom Fenton, a former CBS News correspondent who has long been a fixture on the London journalistic scene.

Thompson refused to discuss his contribution. Fenton, an independent, paid $1,000 to attend a McCain lunch in London so he could sit with the candidate and judge him up close. He said he may also contribute to the Obama campaign as well.



The Coming Activist Age
NYTIMES Op-Ed Columnist
By DAVID BROOKS
Published: July 18, 2008

We’re entering an era of epic legislation. There are at least five large problems that will compel the federal government to act in gigantic ways over the next few years.

First, there is the erosion of the social contract. Private sector firms are less likely to provide health benefits, producing a desperate need for health care reform. Second, there is the energy shortage. Rising Asian demand strains worldwide supply, threatening industry and consumers, and producing calls for a bold energy initiative. Third, there is the stagnation in human capital. During the 20th century, Americans were better educated than the citizens of any other power. Since 1970, that lead has been forfeited, producing inequality and wage stagnation. To compete, the U.S. will require a series of human capital initiatives.

Fourth, there’s financial market reform. In an intricately connected world, even Republican administrations cannot allow big institutions to fail. If government is going to guarantee against failure, then it is inevitably going to get more involved in regulating how businesses are run. Fifth, there’s infrastructure reform. The U.S. transportation system is in shambles and will require major new projects.

All of this means that the next few years will be an age of government activism. You may think, therefore, that this situation is ripe for Democratic dominance. The Democrats are the natural party of federal vigor. Voters prefer Democratic approaches to issues like health care and education by as much as 25 percentage points.

Yet, historically, periods of great governmental change have often been periods of conservative rule. It’s as if voters understand that they need big changes, but they want those changes planned and enacted by leaders who will restrain the pace of change and prevent radical excess.

Two of the most prominent conservative reformers were Benjamin Disraeli and Theodore Roosevelt. Both reframed the political debate so that it was not change versus the status quo, it was unfamiliar change versus cautious, patriotic change designed to preserve the traditional virtues of the nation.

Disraeli inherited a British Conservative Party that was a political club for the landowning class. He created One Nation Conservatism, a reminder that Britain was one community, with a sense of mutual responsibility across classes. Then, at the pinnacle of his career, he embraced reform, expanding the franchise to the socially conservative working class.

Disraeli saw this change as a way to restore ancient glories. Or, as he put it: “In a progressive country, change is constant; and the great question is not whether you should resist change, which is inevitable, but whether that change should be carried out in deference to the manners, the customs, the laws and traditions of a people, or whether it should be carried out in deference to abstract principles, and arbitrary and general doctrines.”

Like Disraeli, Roosevelt was a romantic nationalist. While the more progressive reformers spoke the international language of modernization, Roosevelt spoke the language of highly charged Americanism.

He believed private property was the basis of American greatness. He built his persona around the classic American icons: the cowboy, fighter and pioneer.

He defended his initiatives as the way to maintain the economic and social order. People had enough change in their lives; they were looking for government that could preserve the way things already were. If the trusts threatened the traditional small businessman, he would take on the trusts. If industrialism threatened the natural landscape, he would become a preservationist.

His formula was like Disraeli’s: political innovation to restore traditional national morality. He had an image of an American hero — thrifty, hard-working, vigorous and righteous — and sought to create a Square Deal for that sort of person. “The true function of the state as it interferes in social life,” Roosevelt wrote, “should be to make the chances of competition more even, not to abolish them.”

John McCain’s challenge is to recreate this model. He will never get as many cheers in Germany as Barack Obama, but for a century his family has embodied American heroism. He will never seem as young and forward-leaning as his opponent, but he did have his values formed in an age that people now look back to with respect.

The high point of his campaign, so far, has been his energy policy, which is comprehensive and bold, but does not try to turn us into a nation of bicyclists. It does not view America’s energy-intense economy as a sign of sinfulness.

If McCain is going to win this election, it will because he can communicate an essential truth — that people in a great and successful nation do not want change for its own sake. But they do realize that it’s only through careful reform that they can preserve what they and their ancestors have so laboriously built.


Playing Innocent Abroad
NYTIMES
By DAVID BROOKS
Published: July 25, 2008

Radical optimism is America’s contribution to the world. The early settlers thought America’s founding would bring God’s kingdom to earth. John Adams thought America would emancipate “the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.” Woodrow Wilson and George W. Bush preached their own gospels of world democracy.

Barack Obama is certainly a true American. In the first major foreign policy speech of his campaign, delivered in Chicago last year, he vowed a comprehensive initiative to “ensure that every child, everywhere, is taught to build and not to destroy.” America, he said, must promote dignity across the world, not just democracy. It must “lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good.”

In Berlin on Thursday, it was more of the same. Speaking before a vast throng (and a surprising number of Yankees hats), he vowed to help “remake the world.” He offered hope that a history-drenched European continent could “choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday.” He envisioned “a new dawn in the Middle East.”

Obama’s tone was serious. But he pulled out his “this is our moment” rhetoric and offered visions of a world transformed. Obama speeches almost always have the same narrative arc. Some problem threatens. The odds are against the forces of righteousness. But then people of good faith unite and walls come tumbling down. Obama used the word “walls” 16 times in the Berlin speech, and in 11 of those cases, he was talking about walls coming down.

The Berlin blockade was thwarted because people came together. Apartheid ended because people came together and walls tumbled. Winning the cold war was the same: “People of the world,” Obama declared, “look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together and history proved there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.”

When I first heard this sort of radically optimistic speech in Iowa, I have to confess my American soul was stirred. It seemed like the overture for a new yet quintessentially American campaign.

But now it is more than half a year on, and the post-partisanship of Iowa has given way to the post-nationalism of Berlin, and it turns out that the vague overture is the entire symphony. The golden rhetoric impresses less, the evasion of hard choices strikes one more.

When John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan went to Berlin, their rhetoric soared, but their optimism was grounded in the reality of politics, conflict and hard choices. Kennedy didn’t dream of the universal brotherhood of man. He drew lines that reflected hard realities: “There are some who say, in Europe and elsewhere, we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin.” Reagan didn’t call for a kumbaya moment. He cited tough policies that sparked harsh political disagreements — the deployment of U.S. missiles in response to the Soviet SS-20s — but still worked.

In Berlin, Obama made exactly one point with which it was possible to disagree. In the best paragraph of the speech, Obama called on Germans to send more troops to Afghanistan.

The argument will probably fall on deaf ears. The vast majority of Germans oppose that policy. But at least Obama made an argument.

Much of the rest of the speech fed the illusion that we could solve our problems if only people mystically come together. We should help Israelis and Palestinians unite. We should unite to prevent genocide in Darfur. We should unite so the Iranians won’t develop nukes. Or as Obama put it: “The walls between races and tribes, natives and immigrants, Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.”

The great illusion of the 1990s was that we were entering an era of global convergence in which politics and power didn’t matter. What Obama offered in Berlin flowed right out of this mind-set. This was the end of history on acid.

Since then, autocracies have arisen, the competition for resources has grown fiercer, Russia has clamped down, Iran is on the march. It will take politics and power to address these challenges, the two factors that dare not speak their name in Obama’s lofty peroration.

The odd thing is that Obama doesn’t really think this way. When he gets down to specific cases, he can be hard-headed. Last year, he spoke about his affinity for Reinhold Niebuhr, and their shared awareness that history is tragic and ironic and every political choice is tainted in some way.

But he has grown accustomed to putting on this sort of saccharine show for the rock concert masses, and in Berlin his act jumped the shark. His words drift far from reality, and not only when talking about the Senate Banking Committee. His Berlin Victory Column treacle would have made Niebuhr sick to his stomach.

Obama has benefited from a week of good images. But substantively, optimism without reality isn’t eloquence. It’s just Disney.




McCain’s Conservative Model? Roosevelt (Theodore)       
NYTIMES
By ADAM NAGOURNEY and MICHAEL COOPER
Published: July 13, 2008

HUDSON, Wis. — Senator John McCain in a wide-ranging interview called for a government that is frugal but more active than many conservatives might prefer. He said government should play an important role in areas like addressing climate change, regulating campaign finance and taking care of “those in America who cannot take care of themselves.”

“I count myself as a conservative Republican, yet I view it to a large degree in the Theodore Roosevelt mold,” Mr. McCain said, referring to Roosevelt’s reputation for reform, environmentalism and tough foreign policy.

The views expressed by Mr. McCain in the 45-minute interview here Friday illustrated the challenge the probable Republican presidential nominee faces as he tries to navigate the sensibilities of his party’s conservative base and those of the moderate and independent voters he needs to defeat Senator Barack Obama, his Democratic rival.

His responses suggested that he was basically in sync with his party’s conservative core but was not always willing to use the power of the federal government to impose those values. He also expressed a willingness to deploy government power and influence where free-market purists might hesitate to do so and to consider unleashing military force for moral reasons.

In recent weeks, Mr. McCain has left many Republicans unsettled about his ideological bearings by toggling between reliably conservative issues like support for gun owners’ rights and an emphasis on centrist messages like his willingness to tackle global warming and provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Those tensions were apparent in the interview as well, as Mr. McCain offered a variety of answers — sometimes nuanced in their phrasing, sometimes not — about his views on social issues.

Mr. McCain, who with his wife, Cindy, has an adopted daughter, said flatly that he opposed allowing gay couples to adopt. “I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no, I don’t believe in gay adoption,” he said.

But he declined to take a specific position when asked whether only evolution should be taught in public schools. “It’s up to the school boards,” he said. “That’s why we have local control over education.” Mr. McCain has said he believes in evolution.

Many social conservatives strenuously oppose California’s decision to allow same-sex marriage. But Mr. McCain, who also opposes same-sex marriage, has always said that the issue is up to the states, and in the interview he said he would stick to that position as president even if California chose to continue allowing gay marriage after putting the matter to a statewide vote in November. “I respect the right of the states to make those decisions,” he said.

Asked if he considered himself an evangelical Christian, Mr. McCain responded, “I consider myself a Christian.”

“I attend church,” he said. “My faith has sustained me in very difficult times.” Asked how often he attended, he responded: “Not as often as I should.” He has recently been photographed going to church as his campaign has begun to make public the times he attends services.

Mr. McCain sat down for the interview, conducted after he held a town-hall-style meeting on economic issues, at the end of a week that his campaign had hoped would mark a turning point in a candidacy that has been plagued with missteps and often seemed unsure of its message.

After a period in which his campaign again endured internal battling and staff upheaval, Mr. McCain argued that competing tensions in an organization — be it a presidential campaign or a White House — can be good thing, up to a point.

“Because of the bubble that a president is in, and the bubble that a candidate is in, sometimes you find out afterwards something that, ‘Oh boy, I wish I had heard thus and such and so and so,’ ” he said. “So I appreciate and want some of the tension. I don’t want too much of it.”

When asked if he felt that it was more difficult to run against Mr. Obama because of the sensitivities of race, Mr. McCain responded wryly: “I’d like to make a joke, but I can’t.”

“We are in a situation today where all words are parsed, all comments are diagnosed and looked at for whatever effect they might have,” he said. “We have to feed the beast, the hourly cable shows, the instant news in the blogs and all that. That is just the situation that we’re in, and I’m not complaining about it, because that would be both foolish and a waste of time.”

Mr. McCain went on to say that he did not consider running against Mr. Obama any more complicated than running against, say, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. “No, I have to base my approach to Senator Obama as one of respect,” he said. “As long as I do that, then I don’t have to worry about any language I might use.”

He said, ruefully, that he had not mastered how to use the Internet and relied on his wife and aides like Mark Salter, a senior adviser, and Brooke Buchanan, his press secretary, to get him online to read newspapers (though he prefers reading those the old-fashioned way) and political Web sites and blogs.

“They go on for me,” he said. “I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need.”

Asked which blogs he read, he said: “Brooke and Mark show me Drudge, obviously. Everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge. Sometimes I look at Politico. Sometimes RealPolitics.”

At that point, Mrs. McCain, who had been intensely engaged with her BlackBerry, looked up and chastised her husband. “Meghan’s blog!” she said, reminding him of their daughter’s blog on his campaign Web site. “Meghan’s blog,” he said sheepishly.

As he answered questions, sipping a cup of coffee with his tie tight around his neck, his aides stared down at their BlackBerries.

As they tapped, Mr. McCain said he did not use a BlackBerry, though he regularly reads messages on those of his aides. “I don’t e-mail, I’ve never felt the particular need to e-mail,” Mr. McCain said.

The interview underscored the extent to which Mr. McCain defies easy ideological characterization, a fact that might help him in a general election but has been a persistent cause of concern among some conservatives. Mr. McCain has long argued that his stances are evidence of his political independence; many of his critics say it is more an example of a politician deftly trying to shade positions to win an election in complicated electoral terrain.

Mr. McCain said he believed that the United States government had an obligation to intervene to stop genocide, though only if it was clear that a solution was possible. Mr. McCain also said that the Federal Reserve was right to step in during the collapse of the investment firm Bear Stearns, and that he would similarly support some sort of aggressive action to avert a meltdown of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the nation’s two largest mortgage finance companies, should that prove necessary.

“I don’t know if a government, quote, bailout is necessary now,” he said. “Because there are other courses of action that are being explored in order to ensure their survival. But I don’t believe we can afford to have them fail, because of their impact on the overall economy.”

Asked to name a conservative model, he skipped over the suggestions of three names typically associated with the conservative movement — Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Barry Goldwater, the founder of the modern-day conservative movement who occupied the Senate seat Mr. McCain holds today — to settle on Theodore Roosevelt.

Mr. McCain has long admired Roosevelt, and in the interview he identified with him as a fellow reformer and environmentalist and also touched on his assertive foreign policy. The choice might to some extent be an indication of how Mr. McCain would like to position himself now that he has moved from the primary to the general election.

“I believe less governance is the best governance, and that government should not do what the free enterprise and private enterprise and individual entrepreneurship and the states can do, but I also believe there is a role for government,” Mr. McCain said. He added: “Government should take care of those in America who can not take care of themselves.”



Obama Raises $52 Million in June
NYTIMES
By Jeff Zeleny
July 17, 2008,  7:33 am

Senator Barack Obama raised $52 million in June, his campaign announced on Thursday morning, more than twice the amount he raised one month earlier before claiming the Democratic presidential nomination.

“We have some big news we want to share with you,” campaign manager David Plouffe said in a message to supporters. “Because of your generosity and commitment, we’re reporting to the press today that this campaign is in a very strong financial position.”
The average contribution to the campaign, he said, was $68.

After breaking fund-raising records throughout the winter and spring, some supporters feared that Mr. Obama’s contributions had slowed considerably. In May, he raised $21.9 million, one of his weakest months.

When asked about the health of his fund-raising a few days ago, Mr. Obama played down any concern, telling reporters: “I think you guys should wait until we release our numbers to make a decision as to how underwhelming they are.”

Last week, Senator John McCain announced that he had raised $22 million in June, which was the best fund-raising month of his campaign. So while Mr. Obama’s $52 million haul is significantly higher, he also faces a bigger fund-raising burden because of his decision to not accept public financing.

In his message to supporters on Thursday, Mr. Plouffe said the Obama campaign ended the month of June with a combined total of nearly $72 million in the bank. While he called it “a healthy number,” he noted that Mr. McCain and the Republican National Committee finished June with nearly $100 million on hand.

“We’re facing a Republican machine with unprecedented resources at its disposal,” Mr. Plouffe said.

Mr. Obama has been spending a considerable time raising money in June, with fund-raising events in virtually every city he passes through. The campaign, which is the first to forego public financing since the system was created three decades ago, has set a goal of raising $200 to $300 million for their general election effort.


Whoa, NYTIMES, there is movement on at least one more of your bedrock issues!
New and Not Improved
NYTIMES editorial
Published: July 4, 2008

Senator Barack Obama stirred his legions of supporters, and raised our hopes, promising to change the old order of things. He spoke with passion about breaking out of the partisan mold of bickering and catering to special pleaders, promised to end President Bush’s abuses of power and subverting of the Constitution and disowned the big-money power brokers who have corrupted Washington politics.

Now there seems to be a new Barack Obama on the hustings. First, he broke his promise to try to keep both major parties within p
ublic-financing limits for the general election. His team explained that, saying he had a grass-roots-based model and that while he was forgoing public money, he also was eschewing gold-plated fund-raisers. These days he’s on a high-roller hunt.

Even his own chief money collector, Penny Pritzker, suggests that the magic of $20 donations from the Web was less a matter of principle than of scheduling. “We have not been able to have much of the senator’s time during the primaries, so we have had to rely more on the Internet,” she explained as she and her team busily scheduled more than a dozen big-ticket events over the next few weeks at which the target price for quality time with the candidate is more than $30,000 per person.

The new Barack Obama has abandoned his vow to filibuster an electronic wiretapping bill if it includes an immunity clause for telecommunications companies that amounts to a sanctioned cover-up of Mr. Bush’s unlawful eavesdropping after 9/11.

In January, when he was battling for Super Tuesday votes, Mr. Obama said that the 1978 law requiring warrants for wiretapping, and the special court it created, worked. “We can trace, track down and take out terrorists while ensuring that our actions are subject to vigorous oversight and do not undermine the very laws and freedom that we are fighting to defend,” he declared.

Now, he supports the immunity clause as part of what he calls a compromise but actually is a classic, cynical Washington deal that erodes the power of the special court, virtually eliminates “vigorous oversight” and allows more warrantless eavesdropping than ever.

The Barack Obama of the primary season used to brag that he would stand before interest groups and tell them tough truths. The new Mr. Obama tells evangelical Christians that he wants to expand President Bush’s policy of funneling public money for social spending to religious-based organizations — a policy that violates the separation of church and state and turns a government function into a charitable donation.

He says he would not allow those groups to discriminate in employment, as Mr. Bush did, which is nice. But the Constitution exists to protect democracy, no matter who is president and how good his intentions may be.

On top of these perplexing shifts in position, we find ourselves disagreeing powerfully with Mr. Obama on two other issues: the death penalty and gun control.

Mr. Obama endorsed the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the District of Columbia’s gun-control law. We knew he ascribed to the anti-gun-control groups’ misreading of the Constitution as implying an individual right to bear arms. But it was distressing to see him declare that the court provided a guide to “reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe.”

What could be more reasonable than a city restricting handguns, or requiring that firearms be stored in ways that do not present a mortal threat to children?

We were equally distressed by Mr. Obama’s criticism of the Supreme Court’s barring the death penalty for crimes that do not involve murder.

We are not shocked when a candidate moves to the center for the general election. But Mr. Obama’s shifts are striking because he was the candidate who proposed to change the face of politics, the man of passionate convictions who did not play old political games.

There are still vital differences between Mr. Obama and Senator John McCain on issues like the war in Iraq, taxes, health care and Supreme Court nominations. We don’t want any “redefining” on these big questions. This country needs change it can believe in.


Mr. Obama's Flip-Flop
Hartford Courant editorial
July 3, 2008

Barack Obama's decision not to accept public financing for his general-election campaign makes the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee look hypocritical.

His supporters, as well as supporters of publicly funded campaigns, have to be disappointed. He is the first presidential nominee to reject public financing for the general election since the system began.

He's not the only hypocrite in the race, of course. His rival, presumptive GOP nominee John McCain, now supports the Bush tax cut he publicly opposed in 2001, for example.

For months, however, Mr. Obama has been saying he would sit down with Mr. McCain — the foremost Republican campaign-finance reformer — and agree to stay within the presidential public financing system that's been in place since 1976, a system designed to keep the special interests at bay.

That agreement somehow never came about.

It's no secret why Mr. Obama succumbed to the temptation to forgo public money. If he accepted public money, he'd collect some $85 million out of the federal treasury for the fall campaign, same as his Republican opponent. That's petty cash compared with the amount Mr. Obama figures he can raise on his own. He's right that the public-financing law needs amending to catch up with this new age of fundraising.

His is the most prodigious fundraising machine in the history of American politics. He's mastered the art of Internet fundraising and has already raked in close to $300 million. He doubtless could raise that amount or more for the general election.

Mr. Obama defends his decision to go for the gold outside the public-financing system by explaining that a lot of his money comes from small donors (many contributing for the first time) who don't expect to get access to the Oval Office. (Campaign finance groups say that slightly more than half his donors gave at least $200 each — not all that small — and a third of his money came in chunks of $1,000 or more.)

But he first said he was going to take public money and compete with Mr. McCain on an even field.

That's before he said he wasn't.


McCain Says Yes to Public Financing
NYTIMES
By Michael Cooper
June 19, 2008,  5:49 pm

MINNEAPOLIS – Senator John McCain said here Thursday afternoon that his campaign has decided to accept public financing even though his all-but-certain Democrat rival, Senator Barack Obama, has decided to opt out of the system.

“We will take public financing,” Mr. McCain told reporters aboard his campaign bus as he rode from the airport – where he had just returned from visiting flooded southeastern Iowa – to a fundraiser here. Asked what his thinking was, he simply said, “Because we decided to take public financing.”

It was the most definitive statement yet that he would do so, and it came just hours after Mr. McCain had suggested in Iowa that Mr. Obama’s decision not to participate in the system – after previously indicating that he accept public financing if his Republican rival did as well – might lead the McCain campaign to opt out as well.

The McCain campaign has long struggled to raise money, and was out-raised by several of his Republican rivals in the primary and vastly out-raised by Mr. Obama. But in recent months the campaign’s decision to raise money in tandem with the Republican National Committee, which is far richer than its Democratic counterpart, has yielded results.

The McCain campaign hoped that by accepting public financing – which will yield it more $84.1 million – and relying on the deep-pockets of the Republican National Committee, it will be able to stay competitive with Mr. Obama.


Public Funding on the Ropes
NYTIMES editorial
Published: June 20, 2008

The excitement underpinning Senator Barack Obama’s campaign rests considerably on his evocative vows to depart from self-interested politics. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama has come up short of that standard with his decision to reject public spending limitations and opt instead for unlimited private financing in the general election.

Mr. Obama is the first presidential candidate to rebuff the public system’s restrictions for the general election since they were enacted after the Watergate scandal. In doing so, he pronounced the public system “broken” and turned away from his earlier strong suggestion — greatly applauded at the time — that he would pursue an agreement with the Republican candidate to preserve the publicly subsidized restraints this fall.

That, of course, was before Mr. Obama discovered his prodigious talent to stir private donors on the Internet and ended up raising hundreds of millions of dollars in small-bore contributions. The feat is unmatched thus far by Senator John McCain, the presumed Republican nominee, who got most of his money from big donors.

Public financing, which Mr. McCain has indicated he would accept, limits spending to $84.1 million in the general election. Mr. Obama expects he can raise three or four times that. He insists he needs the larger flow to hold off unscrupulous Republican “masters at gaming this broken system” via separate party funds and Swift Boat-style smear campaigns.

Mr. Obama’s power to excite average donations of less than $100 also is admirable, and his concerns about his opponent are understandable. The Republican Party is raising a great deal of money, and shadow groups known as 527s have tens of millions to spend. Mr. McCain knows the power of these groups since they slimed him out of the 2000 Republican primaries. Now that he’s the presumptive nominee, however, he is inviting them into the fray on his behalf.

But Mr. Obama’s description of public financing as “broken” is only half true.

Senator Russ Feingold, the ranking authority on campaign-finance reform, called Mr. Obama’s retreat “not a good decision.” He rightly points out that while the primary cycle’s public matching subsidies are “broken” and need updating for inflation, “the system for the general election is not.” We agree, while counting on Mr. Feingold’s vow to hold Mr. Obama to his promise to make public financing reform a high priority if he wins.

The Obama campaign argues that it has come upon a better system of public financing, in effect. So far, however, the Web phenomenon remains unique to Mr. Obama, and is no reason to set the dangerous precedent of fully scrapping public financing. (Before he took off on the Internet, more than half of Mr. Obama’s campaign funding last year for crucial early contests came from contributions of $1,000 or more, according to the Campaign Finance Institute.)

Commendably, the Obama campaign has cut off lobbyist donations to the Democratic National Committee and discouraged donors from helping the freewheeling, 527 shadow operations of liberal sympathizers. He has not, however, sworn off all possibility of large-scale, special-interest contributions.

This election will be remembered for the first serious woman contender for a major party’s nomination — and soon for the first African-American nominee of a major party. Between Mr. Obama’s decision to rely on private money and Mr. McCain’s cynical invitation to 527 mayhem, it would be a shame if it also goes down in history as the year public financing died.



NEW PAGE on Financial Crisis here.
-------------------
'Senator Government'
Wall Street Journal editorial
October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber cuts to the heart of the Presidential choice.

Whether or not last night's much-improved debate performance helps John McCain rally in the polls, at least voters finally got a clearer sense of the policy differences. For our money, the best line of the night was Mr. McCain's Freudian slip of referring to Barack Obama as "Senator Government." Neither candidate is offering policies that meet the serious economic moment. But Mr. McCain would let Americans keep more of their own income to ride out the downturn, while Mr. Obama is revealing that his default agenda is to spend money and expand the government.
 
APCribbing from Hillary Clinton's playbook, Mr. Obama called this week for a "90 day foreclosure moratorium for homeowners that are acting in good faith," whatever that last phrase means. When Mrs. Clinton proposed a foreclosure moratorium during the Democratic primaries, Mr. Obama had said it would lead to more expensive mortgages going forward. He was right then.

The Treasury's Hope Now program and the Federal Housing Administration are already helping to refinance homes for millions of homeowners. Anyone who isn't able to qualify for one of those voluntary programs and who still can't afford to pay a mortgage isn't likely to be any better fixed in a mere 90 days. Mr. Obama also overlooks that the banks that service the mortgages don't typically own them. They're owned by far-flung investors via a mortgage-backed security.

Mr. Obama apparently wants the feds to unilaterally rewrite contracts based on something as undefinable as "good faith." At the same time, he is repeating his proposal to change the bankruptcy code so judges can unilaterally rewrite mortgage contracts as well. All of this would make credit less available to working families in the future.

Another Obama idea is to give a $3,000 tax credit to companies that create new jobs in the U.S. over the next two years. We don't know many employers who would hire people merely because of a tax credit that barely covers administrative costs, especially if that tax credit vanishes after two years. And especially if Mr. Obama is going to hit that same business with a whopping tax increase. As he told skeptical "Joe the Plumber" -- actually Joe Wurzelbacher of Toledo -- in his own Freudian slip this week, "When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." But there won't be any wealth to spread if no one creates it.

Mr. Obama is also proposing more "stimulus," by which he means more federal spending. He wants $25 billion in federal aid to states, which would merely subsidize the most profligate state politicians. He wants $25 billion more for a "jobs and growth fund" for schools, roads and other union-driven public works. And he wants $25 billion more in loan guarantees for the Detroit automakers, on top of the $25 billion they've already received.

These ideas reveal that Mr. Obama thinks economic growth derives mainly from growing the government. They merely redistribute money taxed or borrowed from the private sector to favored political constituencies. At least Bill Clinton sold his tax cut in 1993 as a way to reduce the deficit; Mr. Obama is proposing to take federal spending to heights not seen since the early 1980s. If this is his agenda to spur recovery, no wonder the stock market is tanking.

As for Mr. McCain, he is proposing to cut the capital gains tax rate to 7.5% from 15%. Mr. Obama responded by sneering that no one now has capital gains to tax, but Mr. McCain is right that lowering the after-tax return on capital could help even in a down market. He also wants to increase deductible capital losses to $15,000 from $3,000 for 2008 and 2009, another way to help the investor class ride out the bear market. While capital gains are taxed whether they are inflated or not, the $3,000 loss writeoff limit against regular income hasn't changed in 30 years.

Mr. McCain is also usefully calling for a permanent reduction in taxes on withdrawals from tax-preferred retirement accounts, which he'd tax at 10%. In addition, he'd suspend the current rules mandating that investors begin selling off their IRAs and 401(k)s when they reach age 70 -- an idea Mr. Obama also says he likes.

As the front-runner in the polls, Mr. Obama probably figures he can afford to play this kind of small ball and coast into the White House. He merely needs to disguise and downplay the magnitude of his tax and spending plans. As for Mr. McCain, we've argued for months that he's needed a larger, more compelling economic narrative -- and the financial panic gave him an opening to argue for a far more substantial tax cut to spur growth and avoid a deep recession. He's preferred to play small ball instead. Mr. McCain's best hope now is that millions of Americans share the basic economic common sense of Joe the Plumber.


Volcker Foresees Deepening Recession 
DAY
By Associated Press    
Published on 10/15/2008         
 
Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker said Tuesday the U.S. and Europe face a “considerable recession” as a global financial crisis begins to hurt consumer demand and industrial production.

”I've seen a lot of crisis, but I've not seen anything quite like this one,” Volcker said in a speech in Singapore. “I don't think we can escape damage to the real economy. I think we almost inevitably face a considerable recession.”

Volcker, 81, said pledges this week by U.S. and European governments to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into ailing banks have helped boost investor confidence.

Asia and European stock indexes rose for a second day Tuesday after the Dow Jones industrials average surged 11 percent on Monday, its biggest one-day jump since 1933.

”These kinds of measures - government guarantees and interventions - are really distasteful,” said Volcker, who was Fed chief from 1979 to 1987. “However distasteful, I'm afraid they were necessary in this emergency to restore some sense of stability and confidence.”

Late Monday in the U.S., government officials and industry executives said the government would use $250 billion of the $700 billion bailout program recently passed by Congress to buy into American banks. The government initially will buy stock of nine large banks, but the program is expected to be expanded to many others.

”Those banks have been nationalized, overtly or not overtly, which is something that hasn't happened before in the history of developed countries,” Volcker said. “How to wean them from government support? That is the challenge of the future.”


Hedge Funds Are Bracing for Investors to Cash Out
NYTIMES
By LOUISE STORY
Published: September 28, 2008
 
First, the money rushed into hedge funds. Now, some fear, it could rush out.

Even as Washington reached a tentative agreement on Sunday over what may become the largest financial bailout in American history, new worries were building inside the nearly $2 trillion world of hedge funds. After years of explosive growth, losses are mounting — and so are concerns that some investors will head for the exits.

No one expects a wholesale flight from hedge funds. But even a modest outflow could reverberate through the financial markets. To pay back investors, some funds may be forced to dump investments at a time when the markets are already shaky.

The big worry is that a spate of hurried sales could unleash a vicious circle within the hedge fund industry, with the sales leading to more losses, and those losses leading to more withdrawals, and so on. A big test will come on Tuesday, when many funds are scheduled to accept withdrawal requests for the end of the year.

“Everybody’s watching for redemptions,” said James McKee, director of hedge fund research at Callan Associates, a consulting firm in San Francisco. “And there could be a cascading effect, where redemptions cause other redemptions.”

What happens at hedge funds, those loosely regulated private investment vehicles, matters to just about every investor in America. Hedge funds are not just for the rich anymore. Since 2002, the industry has roughly tripled in size, as pension funds, endowments and foundations piled in, hoping for market-beating returns.

Now, the heady returns of the industry’s glory days are over, at least for now. This is shaping up to be the industry’s worst year on record, with the average fund down nearly 10 percent so far, according to Hedge Fund Research. Famous traders like Steven A. Cohen, who runs SAC Capital Advisors, are losing money, and even Kenneth C. Griffin, the head of Citadel Investment Group, is down in one of his funds.

And they are the lucky ones. A growing number of hedge funds are closing down. About 350 were liquidated in the first half of the year. While hedge funds come and go all the time, if the trend continues, the number of closures would be up 24 percent this year from 2007.

Many funds are bracing for trouble. The industry has set aside $600 billion in cash, according to Citigroup analysts, partly because of the uncertainty hanging over the markets but also because of possible redemptions. If redemptions do pour in, hedge funds can freeze the process by not paying investors for a certain period of time, slowing the pace of withdrawals.

One little-known hedge fund barometer is pointing to trouble, however. The alphabet soup of complex investments that Wall Street created in recent years — R.M.B.S.’s, C.D.O.’s and the like — includes C.F.O.’s, short for collateralized fund obligations. Virtually unknown outside the industry, these investments are the hedge fund equivalent of mortgage-backed securities: securities backed by hedge funds.

But last week, credit ratings agencies warned that they might lower the ratings of several C.F.O.’s, in part because of the concern that investors would withdraw money from the funds backing the investments. Standard & Poor’s downgraded parts of nine C.F.O. deals, Fitch placed five on a negative rating watch, and Moody’s put one on a downgrade review.

“The concern is over the redemptions that are happening,” said Jenny Story, an analyst with Fitch Ratings. “The gates are being closed.”

While few in number, C.F.O.’s represent a broad swath of the industry. The vehicles were created by funds of funds, which invest in hedge funds. Each C.F.O. includes stakes in dozens and sometimes hundreds of hedge funds with a variety of investment strategies.

Coast Asset Management, a $5.6 billion fund of funds in Santa Monica, Calif., created three C.F.O.’s in the last few years. The three vehicles raised a total of $1.85 billion, according to Dealogic, and they have a seven-year lock-up on the money. It was that lock-up that appealed to David E. Smith, the firm’s chief executive, who ran into trouble borrowing in 1998, after the collapse of the giant hedge fund Long Term Capital Management.

Coast executives said they were not particularly concerned about the C.F.O.’s, because they had not seen many hedge funds putting limits on redemptions, or “closing the gates,” as the industry calls it.

“It’s clearly been a very tough year for investors in general,” Mr. Smith said. “But I think hedge funds have done a good job of navigating very tough markets and don’t get the type of recognition that they should.”

Two of the C.F.O.’s put on watch or downgraded by the ratings agencies are run by two units of the British hedge fund Man Group. One is run by Glenwood Capital in Chicago, which saw its multi-strategy fund lose more than 4 percent through July, according to an investor. A spokesman for the funds declined to comment.

Returns are not in yet for September, but hedge fund managers say this month is even worse than the summer. Some funds were hurt by new rules from the Securities and Exchange Commission on short-selling, a tactic for betting against stock prices. The commission made it more difficult to short all stocks and temporarily banned the strategy in more than 800 financial stocks. In particular, this hurt convertible-bond managers, who often buy bonds that can be converted into shares and short the underlying stocks.

The short-selling ban lasts until Thursday evening, but it is widely expected to be extended.

John P. Rigas, the chief executive of Sciens Capital Management, knows firsthand how difficult it can be to get money out of troubled hedge funds. He spotted problems at Amaranth Advisors a year before that fund collapsed because of wrong-way bets in the energy markets, but it took him eight months to retrieve all of his fund of funds’ investment. Mr. Rigas’ firm runs a C.F.O. that is invested in 41 hedge funds, but he said he had put more than 25 percent of his funds’ capital into cash to weather the storm.

He predicts further liquidations in the industry.

“How can I say that the environment is not bad?” Mr. Rigas said. “It’s difficult with hedge funds because they are very fragile. By their nature they’re fragile instruments because investors can ask for their money.”


NYTIMES

September 28, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor

Greenwich Time

By TOM WOLFE

Be aware that your correspondent is merely bringing you the news when he reports how many people have besieged the author of “The Bonfire of the Vanities” over the past week with the question, “Where does this leave the Masters of the Universe now?”

“This” refers to the current credit panic. The Masters of the Universe is a phrase from that book referring to ambitious young men (there were no women) who, starting with the 1980s, began racking up millions every year — millions! — in performance bonuses at investment banks like Salomon Brothers, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. The first three no longer exist. The fourth is about to be absorbed by Bank of America. The last two are being converted into plain-vanilla Our Town banks with A.T.M.’s in the lobby and, instead of Masters of the Universe, marginally adult female cashiers with wages in the mid-three figures per week, stocked with bags of exploding dye to hand the robbers along with the cash. American investment banking, the entire industry, sank without a trace in the last few days.

So where does this leave the Masters of the Universe? In Greenwich, Conn., mainly. The hottest, brightest, most ambitious young men began abandoning investment banking in favor of hedge funds six years ago. Your correspondent can describe scenes of raging carotid-aneurytic anger as the young hotshots resigned. Security goons seized them by the elbow and marched them off the floor at six miles an hour. They couldn’t touch anything in or on their desks — not even the framed picture of Mom and Buddy and Sis, propped upright from behind by little cardboard wings covered in synthetic velvet — so furious were their superiors. Their biggest producers and future leaders were walking out on them.

Greenwich is the center of the Masters’ hedge-fund world, replacing Wall Street. For five years, the heart of Wall Street, the fabled Floor of the New York Stock Exchange, has been gradually emptying out. A hundred years ago, the Floor was a club for gentlemen oligarchs. Only men with social credentials could have one of the insider “seats” on the Floor. By last year, when your correspondent paid his one and only visit to the Floor, one member came up to another and informed him that he, like so many others recently, was leaving the Exchange for good.

“What will you be doing?”

“I’m joining the Fire Department.”

“The Fire Department? In what capacity?”

“I’ll be a firefighter. The pension plan is awesome.”

Incidentally, there are no seats on the Floor, none that this correspondent ever saw. The Exchange is already an anachronism, like Broadway. Everything is done by computer today. Hanging out on the Floor of the Exchange is like hanging out at OTB. Broadway and the Exchange are like the first thing you see when you enter Disneyland in California. You find yourself in a turn-of-the-last-century town with a trolley and an apothecary and a barber shop. That’s Broadway and Wall Street today.

It may dash your hopes for that nice warm feeling called Schadenfreude, but the Masters of the Universe are smarter than the people they left behind at the investment banks. Their hedge funds have blown up here and there, but unlike the investment banks, they are still very much in business. They have hurriedly pulled themselves into defensive positions inside their shells, like turtles. Their Armageddon, if any, will not come for two more days, which is to say, Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Most hedge funds open up a crack on Sept. 30, Dec. 31, March 31 and June 30 to give investors the chance to “redeem” their investments, meaning take their money out. These moments are called gates, like a series of gates in a prison. The gate is the limit, the fixed percentage of your money, that the fund will allow you to take out at one time. Even with these strict caps on withdrawals, some funds may end up nothing but shells.

Shed no tears for the Masters of the Universe, however, not that your correspondent actually thought you might. Most of the young Masters already have their own personal nut free and clear. “Nut” is the term for the amount of money you need salted away in weather-proof investments in order to generate enough interest to live comfortably in Greenwich on Round Hill Road, Pecksland Road or Field Point Road in a house built before the First World War in an enchanting European style, preferably made of stone featuring the odd turret, with a minimum of five acres around it and big enough to be called a manor. Every Master of the Universe knows the number.


It’s the Economy Stupor
NYTIMES
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: August 17, 2008

By rights, John McCain should be getting hammered on economics.

After all, Mr. McCain proposes continuing the policies of a president who’s had a truly dismal economic record — job growth under the current administration has been the slowest in 60 years, even slower than job growth under the first President Bush. And the public blames the White House, giving Mr. Bush spectacularly low ratings on his handling of the economy.

Meanwhile, The Times reports that, according to associates, Mr. McCain still “dials up” Phil Gramm, the former senator who resigned as co-chairman of the campaign after calling America a “nation of whiners” and dismissing the country’s economic woes as nothing more than a “mental recession.” And Mr. Gramm is still considered a top pick for Treasury secretary.

So Mr. McCain would seem to offer a target a mile wide: a die-hard supporter of failed economic policies who takes his advice from people completely out of touch with the lives of working Americans.

But while polls continue to show that the public, by a large margin, trusts Democrats more than Republicans to handle the economy, recent polling shows that Barack Obama has at best a small edge over Mr. McCain on the issue — four points in a recent Time magazine poll, and he is one point behind according to Rasmussen Reports, which does automated polling. And Mr. Obama’s failure to achieve a decisive edge on economic policy is central to his failure to open up a big lead in overall polling.

Why isn’t the Obama campaign getting more traction on economic issues?

It’s not the Republican offensive on offshore drilling. It’s true that many Americans have apparently been misled by bogus claims about gas price relief. But as I’ve already pointed out, Democrats in general retain a large edge on economic issues.

Nor is there any valid basis for the complaints, highlighted in Sunday’s Times, that Mr. Obama isn’t offering enough policy specifics. Delve into the Obama campaign Web site and you’ll find plenty of policy detail. And the campaign’s ads reel off lots of specific policy proposals — too many, if you ask me.

No, the problem isn’t lack of specifics — it’s lack of passion. When it comes to the economy, Mr. Obama’s campaign seems oddly lethargic.

I was astonished at the flatness of the big economy speech he gave in St. Petersburg at the beginning of this month — a speech that was billed as the start of a new campaign focus on economic issues. Mr. Obama is a great orator, yet he began that speech with a litany of statistics that were probably meaningless to most listeners.

Worse yet, he seemed to go out of his way to avoid scoring political points. “Back in the 1990s,” he declared, “your incomes grew by $6,000, and over the last several years, they’ve actually fallen by nearly $1,000.” Um, not quite: real median household income didn’t rise $6,000 during “the 1990s,” it did so during the Clinton years, after falling under the first Bush administration. Income hasn’t fallen $1,000 in “recent years,” it’s fallen under George Bush, with all of the decline taking place before 2005.

Obama surrogates have shown a similar inclination to go for the capillaries rather than the jugular. A recent Wall Street Journal op-ed by two Obama advisers offered another blizzard of statistics almost burying the key point — that most Americans would pay lower taxes under the Obama tax plan than under the McCain plan.

All this makes a stark contrast with the campaign of the last Democrat to make it to the White House, who had no trouble conveying passion over matters economic.

In his speech accepting the Democratic nomination in 1992, a year in which economic conditions somewhat resembled those today, Bill Clinton denounced his opponent as someone “caught in the grip of a failed economic theory.” Where Mr. Obama spoke cryptically in St. Petersburg about a “reckless few” who “game the system, as we’ve seen in this housing crisis” — I know what he meant, I think, but how many voters got it? — Mr. Clinton declared that “those who play by the rules and keep the faith have gotten the shaft, and those who cut corners and cut deals have been rewarded.” That’s the kind of hard-hitting populism that’s been absent from the Obama campaign so far.

Of course, Mr. Obama hasn’t given his own acceptance speech yet. Al Gore found a new populist fervor in August 2000, and surged in the polls. A comparable surge by Mr. Obama would give him a landslide victory this year.

But it’s up to him. If Mr. Obama can’t find the passion on economic matters that has been lacking in his campaign so far, he may yet lose this election.



Perot launches Web site about government spending
Greenwich TIME
The Associated Press

Article Launched: 06/16/2008 01:24:23 PM EDT

DALLAS—Billionaire former presidential candidate Ross Perot has started a Web site to highlight what he calls the "economic crisis" facing the country because of deficit spending.
The Web site announced Monday is PerotCharts.com, a play on Perot's use of economic charts in political advertisements during his 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns.

In a statement Monday, Perot said the nation's debt reached $9.4 trillion in April and is rising more than $1 billion a day.

"We are leaving our children and grandchildren with debt they cannot possibly pay," he said. "The economic crisis facing America today is far greater than anything since the Great Depression."

The Web site, which Perot said is nonpartisan, includes a video of Perot, a blog and a chart presentation explaining the nation's economic problems.

Perot, 77, founded Electronic Data Systems Corp. and later Perot Systems Corp., both of which provide technology services to other companies and government agencies. Last year, Forbes magazine estimated his personal wealth at $4.4 billion.



FBI searches apartment in Palin hacking case 
DAY
By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer 
Posted on Sep 22, 3:55 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI searched the residence of the son of a Democratic state lawmaker in Tennessee over the weekend looking for evidence linking the young man to the hacking of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's personal e-mail account, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press on Monday.

David Kernell, 20, has not returned repeated phone calls or e-mails from the AP since last week. He is the son of state Rep. Mike Kernell, a Memphis Democrat and chairman of Tennessee's House Government Operations Committee. The father declined last week to discuss the possibility his son might be involved in the case.

"I had nothing to do with it, I had no knowledge or anything," Mike Kernell told the AP last week.

"I was not a party to anything of this nature at all," he added. "I wasn't in on this - and I wouldn't know how to do anything like that."

No one answered the door at Mike Kernell's home in Memphis on Monday, and he did not return repeated phone calls Monday from the AP.

The apartment the FBI searched is in a complex about five blocks from the University of Tennessee campus in a neighborhood popular with students. No one around the complex Monday knew David Kernell or saw the FBI agents over the weekend.

A hacker last week broke into one of the Yahoo Inc. e-mail accounts that Palin uses, revealing as evidence a few inconsequential personal messages she has received since John McCain selected her as his running mate. The McCain campaign confirmed the break-in and called it a "shocking invasion of the governor's privacy and a violation of law."

Palin used "gov.sarah" in one of her Yahoo e-mail addresses she sometimes uses to conduct state business. The hacker targeted her separate "gov.palin" account.

During the break-in, the hacker used an Internet address that traced to David Kernell's apartment complex in Knoxville. The FBI obtained logs Saturday establishing the connection from Gabriel Ramuglia of Athens, Ga., who operates an Internet anonymity service used by the hacker.

Ramuglia told the AP the FBI asked him to confirm the address appeared in his records, and it did. Ramuglia said his logs showed the hacker visiting Yahoo's mail service, resetting Palin's password and announcing results of the break-in on a Web site where the hacking was first disclosed.

"I think he just didn't realize the severity of what he was doing until afterwards," Ramuglia said.

After the break-in, a person claiming responsibility published a detailed chronology of the hacking on the same Web site. That person identified his e-mail address as one that has been linked publicly to David Kernell.

As a lawmaker, Mike Kernell, 56, was among a handful of Democrats to vote against the Tennessee governor's health plan because he said it wasn't expansive enough. He also opposed a recent increase in the cigarette tax because he felt the proceeds should have been directed toward health care instead of education.

Kernell was also among five House members who voted against a sweeping overhaul of state ethics laws in 2006. He said the new law's limits on cash contributions hurts candidates seeking smaller donations.

Kernell has a straight-laced reputation among his colleagues.

"Mike Kernell is your quintessential Boy Scout," said state Rep. John Deberry, another Democrat. "Mike follows the rules. He will almost get on your nerve as far as making sure things are done by the book."

"If Mike had known anything about this, he would have had a fit on his son," Deberry said. "When I saw his reaction when he first heard about it, the absolute fear and shock that was on his face, I realized then he had absolutely nothing to do with it."

Experts said the hacker apparently left an easy trail for investigators.

"He might as well have taken a picture of his house and uploaded it," said Ken Pfeil, an Internet security expert. "He should have just set up a big beacon that said, 'Here's my house,' or confessed. If they can't catch this guy based on all the information posted on the Web then all bets are off."

The hacker described guessing correctly that Alaska's governor had met her husband in high school, and knew Palin's date of birth and home Zip code. Using those details, the hacker tricked Yahoo's service into assigning a new password, "popcorn," for Palin's e-mail account. What started as a prank was cut short because of panic over the possibility the FBI might investigate, the hacker wrote.

The FBI and Secret Service are now investigating.

The law enforcement officials confirming the search spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.

In Washington, Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney confirmed Monday only that the FBI conducted "investigative activity" late Saturday and early Sunday in Knoxville related to the case.

David Kernell is an economics major at the University of Tennessee there.


Bush claims executive privilege on CIA leak 
DAY
By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer 
Posted on Jul 16, 12:52 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush has asserted executive privilege to prevent Attorney General Michael Mukasey from having to comply with a House panel subpoena for material on the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

A House committee chairman, meanwhile, held off on a contempt citation of Mukasey - who had requested the privilege claim - but only as a courtesy to lawmakers not present.

Among the documents sought by House Oversight Chairman Henry Waxman are FBI interviews of Vice President Dick Cheney.

They also include notes about the 2003 State of the Union address, during which President Bush made the case for invading Iraq in part by saying Saddam Hussein was pursuing uranium ore to make a nuclear weapon. That information turned out to be wrong.

Waxman rejected Mukasey's suggestion that Cheney's FBI interview on the CIA leak should be protected by the privilege claim - and therefore not turned over to the panel.

"We'll act in the reasonable and appropriate period of time," Waxman, D-Calif., said. But he made clear that he thinks Mukasey has earned a contempt citation and that he'd schedule a vote on the matter soon.

"This unfounded assertion of executive privilege does not protect a principle; it protects a person," Waxman said. "If the vice president did nothing wrong, what is there to hide?"

The assertion of the privilege is not about hiding anything but rather protecting the separation of powers as well as the integrity of future Justice Department investigations of the White House, Mukasey wrote to Bush in a letter dated Tuesday. Several of the subpoenaed reports, he wrote, summarize conversations between Bush and advisers - are direct presidential communications protected by the privilege.

"I am greatly concerned about the chilling effect that compliance with the committee's subpoena would have on future White House deliberations and White House cooperation with future Justice Department investigations," Mukasey wrote to Bush. "I believe it is legally permissible for you to assert executive privilege with respect to the subpoenaed documents, and I respectfully request that you do so."

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Bush invoked the privilege on Tuesday.

Waxman said he would wait to hold a vote on Mukasey's contempt citation until all members of the panel had a chance to read up on the matter.

The Bush administration had plenty of warning. Waxman warned last week that he would cite Mukasey with contempt unless the attorney general complied with the subpoena. The House Judiciary Committee also has subpoenaed some of the same documents from Mukasey, as well as information on the leak from other current and former administration officials.

Congressional Democrats want to shed light on the precise roles, if any, that Bush, Cheney and their aides may have played in the leak.

State Department official Richard Armitage first revealed Plame's identity as a CIA operative to columnist Robert Novak, who used former presidential counselor Karl Rove as a confirming source for a 2003 article. Around that time Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was criticizing Bush's march to war in Iraq.

Cheney's then-chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, also was involved in the leak and was convicted of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI. Last July, Bush commuted Libby's 2 1/2-year sentence, sparing him from serving any prison time.

Libby told the FBI in 2003 that it was possible that Cheney ordered him to reveal Plame's identity to reporters.



Obama opts out of public campaign finance system
By JIM KUHNHENN | Associated Press Writer
10:17 AM EDT, June 19, 2008

WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Thursday he'll bypass the federal public financing system in the general election, abandoning an earlier commitment to take the money if his Republican rival did as well.

Obama, who set records raising money in the primary election, will forgo more than $84 million that would have been available to him in the general election. He would be the first candidate to do so since Congress passed 1970s post-Watergate campaign finance laws. Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee in waiting, has taken steps to accept the public funds in the general election.

Obama officials said they decided to take that route because McCain is already spending privately raised funds toward the general election campaign. Obama has vastly outraised McCain, however, and would likely retain that advantage if McCain accepts the public money.

The public finance system is paid for with the $3 contributions that taxpayers can make to the presidential fund in their tax returns.

"It's not an easy decision, and especially because I support a robust system of public financing of elections," Obama told supporters in a video message Thursday. "But the public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken, and we face opponents who've become masters at gaming this broken system."

Obama has shattered president campaign fundraising records, raking in more than $265 million as of the end of April. Of that, nearly $10 million was for the general election. McCain, on the other hand had raised nearly $115 million by the end of May,

But Obama's clear financial advantage over McCain is offset in part by the resources of the Republican National Committee, which has far more money in the bank than the Democratic National Committee. Both national parties can spend money on behalf of the presidential candidates.

The McCain campaign, in a statement, said Obama "has revealed himself to be just another typical politician who will do and say whatever is most expedient for Barack Obama.

"Barack Obama is now the first presidential candidate since Watergate to run a campaign entirely on private funds. This decision will have far-reaching and extraordinary consequences that will weaken and undermine the public financing system."

Obama said McCain and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and political action committees.

"And we've already seen that he's not going to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups, who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations," Obama said.

Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer said he had met with McCain lawyers to discuss terms for both campaigns operating in the public financing system, but he said they could not agree on how to limit spending by the campaigns and outside groups heading into the late summer party conventions.

He said McCain has had an advantage because he has been running unopposed since he secured the Republican nomination early this year. "The important thing is that John McCain has been running a privately financed campaign for the general election since February," Bauer said. "The problem from our perspective is that the horse is long gone from the barn here."

Despite Obama's claim that outside groups allied with McCain will spend millions of dollars against him, few Republican-leaning groups have weighed into the presidential contest so far. In fact, Obama allies such as MoveOn.org are the ones have been spending money on advertising against McCain.

McCain and Obama both declined public financing in the primary contests, thus avoiding the spending limits that come attached to the money. McCain has been in a dispute with the Federal Election Commission, whose chairman earlier this year said McCain needed commission approval to decline the funds. The FEC has not had a quorum to act, however, because four of its six seats have been vacant pending Senate confirmation of presidential nominees. McCain lawyers have disputed the need for FEC approval.

Last year, both Obama and McCain indicated in separate commitments that they would participate in the public system for the general election, as long as both candidates agreed.

In response to a questionnaire in November from the Midwest Democracy Network, which is made up of nonpartisan government oversight groups, Obama said: "Senator John McCain has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge. If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."

While presidential candidates have rejected public financing in primaries, no major party candidate has bypassed the system in the general election.


Obama camp sees possible win without Ohio, Fla. 
DAY
By NEDRA PICKLER and PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writers 
June 16, 2008

FLINT, Mich. (AP) -- Barack Obama's campaign envisions a path to the presidency that could include Virginia, Georgia and several Rocky Mountain states, but not necessarily the pair of battlegrounds that decided the last two elections - Florida and Ohio.

In a private pitch late last week to donors and former supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe outlined several alternatives to reaching the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House that runs counter to the conventional wisdom of recent elections.

At a fundraiser held at a Washington brewery Friday, Plouffe told a largely young crowd that the electoral map would be fundamentally different from the one in 2004. Wins in Ohio and Florida would guarantee Obama the presidency if he holds onto the states won by Democrat John Kerry, Plouffe said, but those two battlegrounds aren't required for victory.

Florida, which has 27 electoral votes this year, gave the presidency to George W. Bush in the disputed election of 2000. Ohio, with its 20 electoral votes, ensured Bush of re-election in 2004 in his race against Kerry.

The presumed Democratic nominee's electoral math counts on holding onto the states Kerry won, among them Michigan (17 electoral votes), where Obama campaigns on Monday and Tuesday. Plouffe said most of the Kerry states should be reliable for Obama, but three currently look relatively competitive with Republican rival John McCain - Pennsylvania, Michigan and particularly New Hampshire.

Asked about his remarks, Plouffe said Ohio and Florida start out very competitive - but he stressed that they are not tougher than other swing states and said Obama will play "extremely hard" for both. But he said the strategy is not reliant on one or two states.

"You have a lot of ways to get to 270," Plouffe said. "Our goal is not to be reliant on one state on November 4th."

Plouffe has been pitching such a new approach to the electoral map in calls and meetings, according to several people who discussed the conversations on the condition of anonymity because they were meant to be private. Plouffe confirmed the descriptions in the interview.

Plouffe and his aides are weighing where to contest, and where chances are too slim to marshal a large effort. A win in Virginia (13 electoral votes) or Georgia (15 votes) could give Obama a shot if he, like Kerry, loses Ohio or Florida.

Plouffe also has been touting Obama's appeal in once Republican-leaning states where Democrats have made gains in recent gubernatorial and congressional races, such as Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, Alaska and North Dakota.

Obama's campaign has spent heavily on time and money in Virginia, where a Democratic presidential candidate hasn't won since 1964. In recent elections, however, high-profile Republicans have lost there. And in a sign of how serious Obama is taking the state, Plouffe dispatched to Virginia many aides who helped Obama stage his upset win in the Iowa caucuses Jan. 3.

The key, Plouffe told supporters, will be to register new black voters and new young voters in Virginia.

Likewise, Georgia has many unregistered black voters who could turn out in record numbers to support the first major-party nominee who is black, he argued. Plouffe said the campaign also will keep an eye on Mississippi and Louisiana as the race moves into the fall to see if new black voters could put them within reach.

In a telling bit of scheduling, Obama declared himself within reach of the nomination at the statehouse in Iowa, yet another state he hopes to put in play.

Plouffe is warning Democrats that McCain is an appealing candidate who has proved he can take votes from the middle before and could do so again. McCain won New Hampshire as a GOP candidate in 2000 and 2008, thanks in large part to the state's high number of independent voters.

Clinton won Michigan's renegade primary after the national party stripped the state of its delegates for moving its contest to January. Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot. Clinton handily won the Pennsylvania primary in April, gaining strong support from white, working-class voters.

Plouffe argues that McCain squandered his opportunity to reach independent voters in the past three months.

McCain's aides acknowledge frustration among fellow Republicans for the slow-to-start campaign. Even though McCain clinched his party's nomination in early March, his supporters didn't name operatives to run the must-win states, let alone open offices in key states. While Democrats hammered each other in their marathon contest, McCain left aides from his primary states sitting still, waiting for orders. It took more than two months for McCain's national headquarters to approve budgets for the battleground states.

The task, Plouffe said, is to define McCain as tied to Bush on the economy, the war and abortion rights. He said the campaign will go on offense against McCain, besides playing aggressive defense when criticized.

That promise was also given by Obama, who said Friday night, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." Critics have questioned why a candidate who promotes a new kind of politics planned such bare-knuckles tactics.

Among independent voters, McCain and Obama are about tied in favorability ratings in recent polls.

Plouffe in recent days has been making his pitch aggressively - part cheerleading, part sales job. Many of Clinton's supporters remain frustrated with how national Democrats resolved the issue of Michigan's delegates, agreeing to seat all of them at the nominating convention but penalizing them by half for violating the calendar, and Plouffe has tried to quell that frustration.

He wraps up the pitches by asking Democrats to imagine Obama taking the oath of office. On Friday at the Capitol City Brewery, about a block from where that would happen, Plouffe pointed toward the Capitol steps to reinforce the visual.



Bernanke Calls Rising Health Care Costs a Strain

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: June 17, 2008
WASHINGTON — Bolstering the performance of the health care system is one of the biggest challenges facing the country, the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said Monday.

New medical technologies and treatments are allowing people to live healthier, longer and more productive lives. However, the aging of millions of baby boomers coupled with rapidly rising heath care costs are accounting for an ever-growing share of both personal and government budgets — strains that will become increasingly burdensome unless changes are made, the Fed chief said.

Challenges, he said, fall into three major areas: improving access to health care for the 47 million Americans — or about 16 percent of the population — who lack health insurance; bolstering the quality of care; and controlling costs.

“Improving the performance of our health care system is without a doubt one of the most important challenges our nation faces,” Mr. Bernanke said in remarks on health care changes organized by a Senate panel on Capitol Hill.

On his remarks, the Fed chief did not talk about the Fed’s next move on interest rates or the state of the economy.

Many economists believe the Fed will hold a key interest rate steady at 2 percent, a four-year low, when it meets next week. Mr. Bernanke and other Fed officials have sent strong signals that the Fed’s rate-cutting campaign, started last September to shore up the ailing economy, was probably over because of mounting concerns about inflation.

Wall Street investors and some other believe that the Fed might be forced to raise rates later this year to thwart a dangerous inflation flare-up. Others, however, still think the Fed will be able to hold rate steady through the rest of this year.

It is a difficult spot for Fed policy makers. They are trying to aid an economy that has been badly bruised by the blows of a housing, credit and financial debacles. At the same time, they don’t want inflation to take off. If the Fed were to start boosting rates too soon to fend off inflation, that could deal a set back to already fragile economic growth.

On the health care front, Mr. Bernanke did not recommend specific solutions, saying the difficult choices involved with improving access and quality and controlling costs were best left to policy makers in Congress, the White House and elsewhere.

“Taking on these challenges will be daunting,” he said. Given the complexity of health care matters, he suggested that it might be better for policymakers to consider an “eclectic approach,” rather than one single set of changes to address all concerns.

“We may need to first address the problems that seem more easily managed rather than waiting for a solution that will address all problems at once,” Mr. Bernanke offered.



Obama wants rich to pump up Social Security

CT POST
Article Last Updated: 06/13/2008 06:46:25 PM EDT


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Democratic Sen. Barack Obama on Friday called for higher payroll taxes on wage-earners making more than $250,000 annually, a step that would affect the wealthiest 3 percent of Americans.

The presidential candidate told senior citizens in Ohio that it is unfair for middle-class earners to pay the Social Security tax "on every dime they make," while millionaires and billionaires pay it on only "a very small percentage of their income."

The 6.2 percent payroll tax is now applied to all wages up to $102,000 a year, which covers the entire amount for most Americans. Under Obama's plan, the tax would not apply to wages between that amount and $250,000. But all annual salaries above the quarter-million-dollar amount would be taxed under his plan, Obama said.

Obama also said his rival, John McCain, has indicated in the past he was willing to consider higher payroll taxes.

But Douglas Holz-Eakin, the Republican candidate's senior economic policy adviser, said that as president, McCain would not consider an increase "under any imagineable circumstance."

Obama was vague about what forms of income would be affected, saying, "We should exempt anyone making under $250,000 from this increase so that the change doesn't burden middle-class Americans." Campaign aides said the additional tax, like the current one, would apply only to wages and salaries and not to other forms of income such as investments.

Obama has talked before of establishing such a "doughnut hole" in the amount of income subject to the Social Security tax. Friday marked the first time he confirmed a resumption point: $250,000 and above.

Obama made the remarks at a retirement facility in Columbus, capital of a state he lost badly to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primary on March 4. Republican John McCain is hoping to carry Ohio this fall, as President Bush did four years ago in his narrow win over Democrat John Kerry.

Obama said his plan "allows us to extend the life of Social Security" without raising the retirement age or cutting benefits. He said McCain "a few years ago" stated that he might consider a higher cap on incomes subject to the tax, "but today he's attacking me for holding the very same position."

Obama also criticized McCain for being open to letting taxpayers invest part of their Social Security payments in private investment accounts.

"Imagine if your security now was tied up with the Dow Jones," he said, alluding to the recent slide in stock prices. "You wouldn't feel very confident about the security of your nest egg."

McCain, campaigning Friday in New Jersey, said Obama was misrepresenting his position.

"I will not privatize Social Security," he said. "But I would like for younger workers, younger workers only, to have an opportunity to take a few of their tax dollars, a few of theirs, and maybe put it into an account with their name on it. That's their money."

He told reporters later on his campaign bus: "Private savings accounts have to be voluntary, they have to be only for young people, and they can't be the centerpiece of the argument. We have to solve this problem and not worry about private savings accounts, because even though I support them, I don't think it's central to the issue. Central to the issue is that the system is going broke. Of course I'm not for privatization. But I do think young workers ought to have some options."

Current retirees would not lose any benefits, McCain said.

The total Social Security tax rate of 12.4 percent is evenly divided between workers and their employers.

Obama, speaking on other retirement issues, said he would "limit circumstances when retirement benefits can be cut," and increase the wages and benefits workers could protect in bankruptcy court. Companies would have to disclose more about their pension fund investments, he said. He vowed to end "the outrage of executives getting bonuses while workers watch pensions disappear."




INTERNET FROM FEBRUARY 2004
Photo above left from the Internet; remember these "performances" objecting to the GOP Convention in NYC? 
"About Town" asks a question:  could not "paypall" accounts be established for hijacked identities/computers?  And could not this be the source of political money in American campaigns not using "public financing" -  or something like that?  Life in the 21st century is sort of like a "Twilight Zone" replay!
------------------------------------
From our files...
Zombie Computers Attack - Spammers invade with new 'botnets'

By New York Times News Service 
Published on 1/7/2007
 
In their persistent quest to breach the Internet's defenses, the bad guys are honing their weapons and increasing their firepower.

With growing sophistication, they are taking advantage of programs that secretly install themselves on thousands or even millions of personal computers, band these computers together into an unwitting army of zombies, and use the collective power of the dragooned network to commit Internet crimes.

These systems, called botnets, are being blamed for the huge spike in spam that bedeviled the Internet in recent months, as well as fraud and data theft. Security researchers have been concerned about botnets for some time because they automate and amplify the effects of viruses and other malicious programs.

What is new is the escalating scale of the problem — and the precision with which some of the programs can scan computers for specific information, like corporate and personal data, to drain money from online bank accounts and stock brokerages.

David Dagon, a Georgia Institute of Technology researcher who is a co-founder of Damballa, a company focusing on controlling botnets, said the consensus among scientists is that botnet programs are present on about 11 percent of the more than 650 million computers attached to the Internet.

Plagues of viruses and other malicious programs have periodically swept through the Internet since 1988, when there were only 60,000 computers online. Each time, computer security managers have patched holes in systems.

The emergence of botnets has alarmed not just computer security experts, but also specialists who created the early Internet. David J. Farber, a Carnegie Mellon computer scientist who was an Internet pioneer, said: “It's an insidious threat, and what worries me is that the scope of the problem is still not clear to most people. The popular machines are so easy to penetrate, and that's scary.”

So far botnets have predominantly infected Windows-based computers, although there have been reports of attacks on computers running Linux and Macintosh operating systems.



TIMES/BLOOMBERG POLL
Obama holds 12-point lead over McCain, poll finds. In a two-man contest, 49% of respondents favor Barack Obama, 37% John McCain. With Ralph Nader and Bob Barr added to the mix, Obama holds a 15-point edge.
By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 25, 2008

WASHINGTON -- -- Buoyed by enthusiasm among Democrats and public concern over the economy, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has taken a sizable lead over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) at the opening of the general election campaign for president, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.

In a two-man race between the major-party candidates, registered voters chose Obama over McCain by 49% to 37% in the national poll, conducted Thursday through Monday.  On a four-man ballot that included independent candidate Ralph Nader and Libertarian Bob Barr, voters chose Obama over McCain by 48% to 33%.

Obama's lead -- bigger in this poll than in most other national surveys -- appears to stem largely from his positions on domestic issues. Both Democrats and independent voters said Obama would do a better job than McCain at handling the nation's economic problems, the public's top concern.

In contrast, many voters said McCain was the more experienced candidate and better equipped to protect the nation against terrorism -- but they ranked those concerns below economic issues.

McCain suffers from a pronounced "passion gap," especially among conservatives who usually give Republican candidates a reliable base of support. Among voters who described themselves as conservative, 58% said they would vote for McCain; 15% said they would vote for Obama, 14% said they would vote for someone else, and 13% said they were undecided. By contrast, 79% of voters who described themselves as liberal said they planned to vote for Obama.

"I'm a Republican . . . but I don't like some of the things McCain voted for in the Senate, especially immigration," said poll respondent Mary Dasen, 77, a retired United Way manager in Oscoda, Mich., who said she was undecided. "There's a big chance I might stay home and not vote."

Even among voters who said they planned to vote for McCain, more than half said they were "not enthusiastic" about their chosen candidate; 45% said they were enthusiastic. By contrast, 81% of Obama voters said they were enthusiastic, and almost half called themselves "very enthusiastic," a level of zeal found in 13% of McCain's supporters.

"McCain is not capturing the full extent of the conservative base the way President Bush did in 2000 and 2004," said Times Poll Director Susan Pinkus. "Among conservatives, evangelicals and voters who identify themselves as part of the religious right, he is polling less than 60%.

"Meanwhile, Obama is doing well among a broad range of voters. He's running ahead among women, black voters and other minorities. He's running roughly even among white voters and independents."

Among white voters, Obama and McCain are each at 39%, the poll found. Earlier this year, when Obama ran behind Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) among whites in some primary elections, analysts questioned whether the African American senator could win white voters in the general election.

But the great majority of Clinton voters have transferred their allegiance to Obama, the poll found, with 11% of Clinton voters defecting to McCain.

Both Nader -- a consumer advocate who was the Green Party candidate in 2000 and an independent candidate in 2004 -- and former Rep. Barr (R-Ga.) appear to siphon more votes from McCain than from Obama. When Nader and Barr are added to the ballot, they draw most of their support from independent voters who said they would otherwise vote for the Republican.

Nader was the choice of 4% of respondents, Barr of 3%. Nader is seeking to place his name on the ballot as an independent in at least 45 states and so far has succeeded in four. Barr's Libertarian Party is on the ballot in 30 states and is working on the remaining 20.

Obama's strong showing seems to stem from a general trend of increased support for Democratic candidates and Democratic positions after almost eight years of an increasingly unpopular Republican administration.
In this national poll's random sample of voters, 39% identified themselves as Democrats, 22% as Republicans and 27% as independents. In a similar poll a year ago, 33% identified themselves as Democrats, 28% as Republicans and 30% as independents.

Such numbers often ebb and flow with the popularity of each political party. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when Bush's popularity soared, the number of voters who described themselves as Republicans rose too. During the last three years, as his popularity slumped, the number who identify themselves as Republicans also dropped.

The survey found public approval of the president's job performance at a new low for a Times/Bloomberg poll: 23%, compared with 73% disapproval.

Fifty-one percent of voters said they had a "positive feeling" about the Democratic Party; 29% said that of the Republican Party.

"It appears to be a Democratic year," Pinkus said. "This election is the Democrats' to lose."

On domestic issues, voters preferred Obama's healthcare proposals to McCain's by a margin of almost 30 percentage points: 53% to 26%. They also preferred Obama's proposals on taxes, 45% to 31%, and on relief for homeowners facing foreclosure, 44% to 32%.

But voters considered McCain better equipped to protect the country from terrorism, 49% to 32%. And though 68% favored withdrawing troops from Iraq within the next year or even sooner, a position close to Obama's, many were not sure Obama was the right candidate to lead that effort. When asked which candidate would be best at handling the war in Iraq, voters split about evenly: 44% named McCain and 42% named Obama.

That result reflected persistent doubts among many voters as to whether Obama is sufficiently experienced to be president. Voters split about evenly on that question too, with 46% agreeing that Obama is "too naive and inexperienced for the job" and 50% disagreeing.

Among independents, 54% said Obama was too inexperienced -- a potential vulnerability for him.

McCain, by contrast, was seen as better prepared for the presidency. Asked which candidate has the right experience for the White House, 47% picked McCain, 27% Obama.

The Times/Bloomberg poll, conducted under Pinkus' supervision, interviewed 1,115 registered voters. Its margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Why Polls Sometimes Show Different Results
Rasmussen Report
Thursday, June 26, 2008

Since Barack Obama clinched the Democratic Presidential Nomination, most polls have shown the Illinois Senator with a modest lead over John McCain, typically around five percentage points. However, two recent polls, one by Newsweek and one by the Los Angeles Times, have shown Obama with a double digit lead.

Republicans quickly noted that the polling samples included an unusually large number of Democrats and small number of Republicans. “The case against the poll, laid out in a memo sent out today by Public Opinion Strategies, in turn sparked a response from survey director Susan Pinkus, who stood by its methodology and findings.”

At the core of this flap is a polling industry disagreement about the best way to deal with partisan identification in constructing a poll. Just about everyone agrees that party identification is one of the strongest indicators as to how a person will vote. A Republican is overwhelmingly likely to vote for a GOP candidate and a Democrat is overwhelmingly likely to do the opposite.

However, the challenge lies in finding the “right” mix of Republicans, Democrats, and unaffiliated voters. Some pollsters, including many academic and media pollsters, argue that partisan identification is fluid and changes frequently. This approach suggests that whatever partisan mix falls out from the results of a random sample is the “right” answer. In the case of the recent L.A. Times poll, this mix was 39% Democrats and 22% Republicans.

Polls that use this approach tend to produce a more volatile set of results (during Election 2004, one national firm reported results days apart that showed more than a ten-point swing in voter preference).

Others, including most political polling firms and Rasmussen Reports, argue that people rarely change their partisan affiliation (how many people do you know who consider themselves a Republican one day and a Democrat the next?). This approach produces more stable results. During Election 2004, Rasmussen Reports polling data never showed either candidate ahead by more than 3 points in our weekly data. Week-to-week changes were never bigger than a point-and-a-half.

This stable view of the electorate seems more intuitively correct. It is unlikely that large segments of voters change their views frequently during the campaign. Even today, when one-in-three voters say they could change their mind between now and Election Day, it is likely that these voters will gradually grow more or less comfortable with their default choice. It is highly unlikely that these voters will hang on every utterance by the Obama and McCain campaigns and change their preferences accordingly.

It is even more unlikely that people will change their partisan identification on a regular basis. For most Americans, party preferences are like favorite sports teams. You’re born into being a fan for one side of the other. Over time, if your team (i.e.—the Republicans) disappoints you often enough, you will drift into unaffiliated status. If things turn around (or if the other side looks even worse than you thought), you might drift back. But, the key word is drift… these decisions happen gradually over time.

Still, even if you believe that partisan identification is fairly constant, how can a pollster know what the mix of Republicans and Democrats should be?

It’s inappropriate to simply use the results from the last election. After all, a lot has changed over the past four years (and most of it has not been good for the Republican Party label). If you assumed that the mix of Republicans and Democrats this year will be the same as it was four years ago, you will end up with results far too favorable for the GOP.

At Rasmussen Reports, we address this issue by measuring changes in partisan identification on a monthly basis. We interview 15,000 people each month by telephone to dramatically reduce the level of statistical noise and get a stable result (see our latest partisan trends update and month-by-month numbers). This approach shows gradual shifts over time in keeping with the general flow of the political environment. During Election 2004, the GOP gained ground slightly as the campaign wore on. During Election 2006, the Democrats peaked at just the right time. Democrats struggled a bit (in relative terms) after taking control of Congress in 2007, but experienced a tremendous bounce during the early portions of Election 2008.

At the moment, our data shows that just over 41% of the population consider themselves to be Democrats and just under 32% are Republicans. We use the this information as the starting point for determining the mix of Republicans and Democrats in our national and state political surveys.

As a consumer of polling data, it is good to have a wide variety of information to review. It is helpful to have some polls assembled in the manner preferred by most academic and media pollsters. It is also good to have data available based upon more firmly established parameters of partisan identification. In the end, a dose of common sense and critical thinking is required.

There are currently polls showing results ranging from Obama by double digits (Newsweek and the L.A. Times) to a tie (Gallup). Most polls, including Rasmussen Reports, show something in the middle and that’s probably the best estimate of where the race stands today… and where it has been for the past few weeks.

On June 26, 2008, the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll, showed that--without leaners--Obama’s support has stayed between 45% and 47% for fifteen straight days. With leaners, he has stayed between 48% and 50% for twenty-one straight days.

As for McCain, his support has been at 40% or 41% on nineteen of the last twenty-two days. Twice, he inched up a point above that range and once he slipped a point below. With leaners, McCain’s support has stayed between 42% and 45% every day since Obama clinched the Democratic Presidential Nomination.

We don’t know where those numbers will be come November, but we expect that they will get there by moving gradually over weeks and months.


B I G    M I S T A K E   ( I M H O )
Obama Picks Stadium for Acceptance Speech
NYTIMES
By Michael Falcone
July 7, 2008,  11:13 am

A sea of 75,000 people swarmed around Senator Barack Obama at a rally in Portland, Ore. in May — the largest crowd of his campaign. And Mr. Obama is planning a repeat performance at the Democratic National Convention in August, when he will open his speech accepting the Democratic nomination to the public, holding it at a football stadium that can accommodate more than three times the number of people as the main convention site.

The Democratic National Convention Committee and the Obama campaign announced on Monday that they would break with tradition and move the final day of convention activities, including the acceptance speech, from the Pepsi Center in Denver to Invesco Field, home of the Denver Broncos, which can hold more than 75,000. The Pepsi Center seats about 20,000.

“The Democratic Party is nominating a true change candidate this August, and it is only fitting that we make some big changes in how we put on the Convention,” Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman, said in a statement. “By bringing the last night of the Convention out to the people, we will be able to showcase Barack Obama’s positive, people-centered vision for our country in a big way.”

The D.N.C.C. said a portion of the tickets to the final night of the convention on Aug. 28 will be made available to Colorado residents. Details about how to sign up for one of the “community credentials” will be released in the coming weeks.

Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said that Mr. Obama “has made it a priority to open up the political process” and bring in new voters. “That was the thinking behind Senator Obama accepting the Democratic nomination at Denver’s Invesco Field,” he said.

Planning for the Democratic party’s convention, however, has been fraught with problems and weak fund-raising. The Times’s Leslie Wayne reported on Sunday about cost over-runs and delays at the convention site.



Once Bitter Rivals, McCain and Romney Make Up
NYTIMES 
By MICHAEL COOPER and MICHAEL LUO
Published: July 18, 2008

It was not so long ago that the idea that Senator John McCain would even entertain tapping Mitt Romney, his bitterest primary rival, as his running mate would have seemed preposterous. On the strange-bedfellows scale, it would have ranked somewhere between Tom teaming up with Jerry and the Red Sox joining forces with the Yankees.

The McCain-Romney feud was the juiciest of the Republican primary season, featuring two men who generally just did not seem to like each other. Mr. Romney said Mr. McCain would set a “liberal Democrat course as president.” He said that one of Mr. McCain’s proudest accomplishments, his campaign finance bill, took “a whack at the First Amendment,” and told voters grappling with money woes that Mr. McCain “has said time and again that he doesn’t understand the economy.” Mr. McCain, for his part, witheringly cast Mr. Romney as a flip-flopper.

But that was then.

These days Mr. Romney, the telegenic former Massachusetts governor, is serving as a wingman extraordinaire for Mr. McCain. He is ubiquitous on cable television, where he talked up Mr. McCain’s economic proposals on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC on Wednesday alone. He has dutifully raised money for Mr. McCain. And Mr. Romney has developed a reputation as a campaign surrogate who can talk fluently about the economy, and who has roots in Michigan, an important swing state. Now Mr. Romney is attracting perhaps more buzz than anyone else as a potential running mate for the man he once derided.

And if the initial rapprochement between the two men seemed a tad forced after Mr. Romney pulled out of the race last winter, something approaching warmth seems to be entering their relationship now. At a fund-raiser in Albuquerque this week, Mr. McCain even aimed a gentle jibe at Mr. Romney — raising eyebrows among veteran McCain watchers, who know that his irreverent teasing and sarcasm are often his way of showing affection.

“Mitt and Ann Romney and Cindy and I have become good friends, and I’m appreciative every time I see Mitt on television on my behalf,” Mr. McCain told donors at the fund-raiser, according to a pool report of the event. “He does a better job for me than he did for himself, as a matter of fact...”



Dodd for VP: Pros and cons
CT POST
KEN DIXON and PETER URBAN

Article Last Updated: 07/12/2008 12:59:53 AM EDT

Although he's playing it coy, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd appears to be on Barack Obama's short list of potential running mates.  Dodd, who was the first of this year's crop of presidential also-rans to endorse Obama, acknowledged Friday that there have been "some inquires" from the campaign.

"They ask for a lot of stuff. I'll leave it there," said Dodd, 64, who ended his own bid for the Democratic presidential nomination after a poor showing in the Iowa caucus in January.

Why Dodd?

Experience matters: Dodd has served in Congress for 34 years and has built a strong reputation as a liberal who will work across party lines to pass legislation. He is the author of the Family Medical Leave Act and, as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is steering legislation through Congress to deal with the mortgage meltdown gripping the nation.

Dodd has more legislative and political experience than Hillary Rodham Clinton and other potential running mates and is someone who can provide depth of knowledge about international and financial issues, said Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

Obama, a freshman senator with skimpy foreign relations credentials, could use a running mate with Dodd's lengthy resume.

Viva espanol: Latinos have become a battleground in this year's presidential race, given their growing clout in big electoral states like California, Texas and Florida. During the Democratic primary, they swung towardClinton. Dodd, who is fluent in Spanish, could solidify their support for Obama.

As a Peace Corps volunteer, Dodd served two years in the Dominican Republic, where he honed his Spanish skills. He is frequently interviewed on Telemundo and other Spanish language news outlets because he needs no translation. That could translate into key votes this November.

Internet credibility: Although he lost the battle, Dodd has become the darling of progressive liberal activists on the Internet for railing against President Bush's secret surveillance program that skirted all judicial oversight.

Obama lost some of his sparkle with this group of activists by acquiescing to the White House plea to compromise on the FISA bill.

"Disappointed" was how Ilyse G. Hogue, communications director for MoveOn.org's Political Action Committee, put it.

"The bill doesn't go far enough in protecting our constitutional liberties and allows a free pass for phone companies who helped the president illegally wiretap innocent Americans," Hogue said.

White male: Dodd would appeal to voters uncertain by the historic changes that would come with an Obama presidency. He offers a mature figure with his shock of white hair, a solid mainstream presence for those of an older generation that Obama.

Dodd has also proven that he can handle the pressures of a campaign and would not embarrass himself — or the campaign — by misspeaking.

Why not Dodd?

Northeastern liberal: Americans can tolerate a president with an Ivy League education, but recent history hasn't been kind to liberals who hail from New England. Just ask Mike Dukakis or John Kerry.

Dodd, who was born in eastern Connecticut, has a lengthy liberal voting record that rivals progressive stalwart Ted Kennedy.

"I don't think he balances the ticket ideologically at all," said Gary Rose, professor of politics at Sacred Heart University. "It would be a very liberal ticket. Dodd rates practically as high as Obama with Americans for Democratic Action."

Home state blues: When looking for a running mate, Democratic presidential hopefuls historically seek out someone who can tip a key state from red to blue. Connecticut is not one of them. The state offers the victor a mere seven votes in the all-important Electoral College compared to the 20 in Ohio and 31 in New York.

Connecticut has voted Democratic in the last four presidential contests and polls show Obama with a substantial lead already without Dodd on the ticket.

Mortgage VIP: Within hours of Dodd's name being floated, Republicans were issuing press statements blasting him for refinancing properties through Countrywide's VIP program that waived points, lender fees and company borrowing rules for prominent people.

Rose said that the attacks would resonate with voters given the sinking economy and growing number of foreclosures facing Americans.

"I think it is a big deal," he said. "To get preferential interest rates could be quite magnified in this particular election."

Minor league: Dodd failed to excite Democratic voters much as a presidential primary candidate and wouldn't likely generate any "banner headlines" if tapped as Obama's running mate, said Scott McLean, a professor of politics at Quinnipiac University in Hamden.

"If Obama picked Al Gore or Hillary Clinton or another minority or woman, I could see people getting excited," McLean said. "Dodd isn't an 'A list' superstar Democrat among the general population."

Obama win preferred in world poll
I-BBC
9 September 2008

Sen Barack Obama in Flint, Michigan, on 8 September 2008Sen John McCain in Sterling Heights, Michigan, on 5 September 2008
Pie chart
Most thought US relations would get better under a president Obama;  Some 30% of Americans expected relations to improve under Mr McCain


All 22 countries in a BBC World Service poll would prefer Democratic nominee Barack Obama to be US president, ahead of his Republican rival John McCain.

Mr Obama was favoured by a four-to-one margin across the 22,500 people polled.

In 17 of the 22 countries surveyed the most common view was that America's relations with the rest of the world would improve under a President Obama.

If Mr McCain were elected, the most common view in 19 countries was that relations would remain about the same.

The poll was conducted before the Democratic and Republican parties held their conventions and before the headline-grabbing nomination of Sarah Palin as Mr McCain's running mate.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says the results could therefore be a reflection of the greater media focus on Mr Obama as he competed for the presidential candidacy against Hillary Clinton.

International ties

The margin of those in favour of Mr Obama winning November's US election ranged from 9% in India to 82% in Kenya, which is the birthplace of the Illinois senator's father.

On average 49% preferred Mr Obama to 12% in favour of Mr McCain. Nearly four in 10 of those polled did not take a view.

On average 46% thought US relations with the world would improve with Mr Obama in the White House, 22% that ties would stay the same, while seven per cent expected relations to worsen.

Only 20% thought ties would get better if Mr McCain were in the Oval Office.

The expectation that a McCain presidency would improve US relations with the world was the most common view, by a modest margin, only in China, India and Nigeria.

But across the board, the largest number - 37% - thought relations under a president McCain would stay the same, while 16% expected them to deteriorate.

In no country did most people think that a McCain presidency would worsen relations.

US poll

Oddly, in Turkey more people thought US relations would worsen with an Obama presidency than under Mr McCain, even though most Turks polled preferred Mr Obama to win.

In Egypt, Lebanon, Russia and Singapore, the predominant expectation was that relations would remain the same if Mr Obama won the election.


The countries most optimistic that an Obama presidency would improve ties were US Nato allies - Canada (69%), Italy (64%), France (62%), Germany (61%), and the UK (54%) - as well as Australia (62%), along with Kenya (87%) and Nigeria (71%).

When asked whether the election as president of the African-American Mr Obama would "fundamentally change" their perception of the US, 46% said it would while 27% said it would not.

The US public was polled separately and Americans also believed an Obama presidency would improve US ties with the world more than a McCain presidency.

Forty-six per cent of Americans expected relations to get better if Mr Obama were elected and 30% if Mr McCain won the White House.

A similar poll conducted for BBC World Service ahead of the 2004 US presidential election found most countries would have preferred to see Democratic nominee John Kerry beat the incumbent George W Bush.

At the time, the Philippines, Nigeria and Poland were among the few countries to favour Mr Bush's re-election. All three now favour Mr Obama over Mr McCain.

In total 22,531 citizens were polled in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Turkey, the UAE and the UK. A parallel survey was conducted with 1,000 US adults.

Polling firm GlobeScan and the Program on International Policy Attitudes carried out the survey between July and August.



The making of JFK the second

By Paul Reynolds, BBC News Online world affairs correspondent
8 February 2004

Senator John F Kerry's rise as the Democratic Party's presidential front-runner
has sent governments around the world scrambling to find out who this second
JFK from Massachusetts really is.

They will find a politician who is liberal on domestic issues and more conservative in
foreign policy. Rather like John Fitzgerald Kennedy himself.  And like JFK the first
(whom he knew when he was going out with Jacqueline Kennedy's half-sister) Mr
Kerry is running less on his policies than on his personality.

He seems to be the man chosen to defeat President Bush because he has a certain
gravitas born of his long years in the Senate.  He is not entirely predictable on
foreign policy.  He voted in favour of the war against Iraq in 2002 but has since
been critical of American policy in Iraq.

He opposed President Bush senior's action to remove Iraq from Kuwait in 1991 but
he was in favour of military action in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Somalia and Panama.

Military record

However he is critical of President Bush junior's leadership, saying that the United
States has to re-enter the "community of nations", so a more moderate foreign
policy might be expected under a Kerry administration.

He has made much of both his military service in Vietnam (which Mr Bush avoided
by joining up with the Texas Air National Guard) and his subsequent opposition to
the war.  He can therefore present himself as someone who has done his duty,
who knows war firsthand (he captained a gunboat in the Mekong Delta) and yet
who also knows the limitations of war.

The contrast with George Bush is there without having to be spelled out.  That he
had an instinct for politics early on was shown when he came back from Vietnam
and asked a congressional committee:  "How do you ask a man to be the last man
to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

That he had an instinct for shrewdness was also shown when he was with a group
of veterans who threw their medals onto the steps of the Capitol.  In fact, Kerry
threw only his ribbons and kept his medals.

Mixed background

Unlike JFK the first, this one, though a Catholic from Massachusetts and with the
name of Kerry, is not Irish by background.  The 'F' in his initials stands for Forbes,
his mother's name.  One of her forebears was an Anglican clergyman.  Her own
mother was a Winthrop, one of the founding families of New England.

But Kerry also has Jewish roots. His grandfather was born Fritz Kohn in what is now
the Czech Republic.  Kohn emigrated to the United States and changed his name
to Kerry in 1907.  He was a successful businessman though he committed suicide
by shooting himself in a hotel room.

Kerry says he remembers his grandmother as a practicing Catholic.  She had in fact
been born Jewish and converted.  Thus, John F Kerry is very much part of the
American melting pot. But he is no son of the soil or toil. His own father was a
diplomat and the family was always comfortably off.

Kerry went to schools in Switzerland, to a good private establishment in New
Hampshire and then to Yale, where he joined the secret Skull and Bones club as
did George W Bush, two years his junior.

Lucky man

It is quite convenient really. He has solid Yankee connections, an interesting
immigrant background and a lot of folk in Massachusetts probably think he is Irish
anyway.  Not a bad for a presidential candidate.

And if his voting record on domestic issue is liberal (he is in favour of abortion and
gay rights and is solid on the environment) he is no bleeding heart.  He was a tough
prosecutor and went into state politics on the back of his record.

Perhaps above all, he is a something of a lucky politician and a lucky man.  He has
married two heiresses. Oscar Wilde might have remarked that to marry one is
fortunate but to marry two looks like calculation.

His political timing is certainly good. He has come to the fore at the very moment
when the Democrats realised that they were seeking not the radical approach of a
Howard Dean, but the conventional approach of a long serving senator.

Success now also means something else. He will be come under relentless scrutiny.
It has already been noted that he has had friends who are congressional lobbyists,
though he denies that there have been any quid pro quos.

Republicans have come to range their guns on him.  He is being portrayed as a
liberal in the Edward Kennedy mould.  Expect much more of this if he wins the
nomination.