Friday, October 02, 2009

SNL Weekend Update: If Obama Can't Deliver The Olympics How Can He Deliver HealthCare - Rio Wins 2016 Olympic Bid

Rio de Janeiro won the rights to host the 2016 Olympic Games besting Madrid in the final round of voting. Chicago was out in the first round - prompting a Drudge Report Headline "The Ego Has Landed" - October 1'st Saturday Night Weekend Update featured a skit regarding Obama delivering the Olympic Games to Chicago - One segment of the sketch had "Dennis Franz" and "John Malkovich" discussing Chicago as being a better choice than Rio - "Franz" jokes - (approximate - see video below) "If Obama can't deliver the Olympics, what can he do for health care" - comedy imitates life.

SNL Weekend Update, entire episode: (fast forward to "Ohphra")

ACORN – Internal Email – Lawyers Suggested Fix, ACORN kept status quo - The General Election 2008 – Worked with Obama Campaign

Acorn Workers Protesting on Behalf of Bigger Government - image:

An exclusive at Big entitled “ACORN legal memo confirms Depths of Troubles” (The full article is at American Spectator reveals the contents of a faxed email and delves into the aspects of the organizations problems – a copy of which is shown below. What is of concern - an organization, that has had its hands in our government (from voter registration, to mortgages (see Barney Frank), to relationships with the International Revenue Services (now severed), and is poised to receive additional grants through the Obama administrations Stimulus program) chose to continue, against the advice of its own legal counsel, to thumb its nose at the law.

What is even more disturbing is the relationship between this particular organization and our last general election. One may recall that then candidate Obama’s campaign had hired ACORN < ahref=””> (Pittsburgh Tribune) or, as the campaign noted “one of the (many) offshoots” to “get out the vote” to the tune of $800,000 (chump change for that particular campaign, which is still operational). This was largely ignored or "pooh-poohed" by both the campaign and the press. The New York Times even admitted to "killing" the story during the campaign (click here for full article).

It is not so much that everyone involved in the organization is particularly guilty of voter fraud, or a host of other methods of cheating the government that funds them, it is that the organization was rotten from the top down, and apparently, chose to ignore the advice – therefore making everyone involved suspect. One has to question, how this was allowed to continue, if it were not for protection of some sort – additionally the organization is akin to Enron and similar corporations that blatantly defrauded the citizens and the government (same) therefore, those at the top, should face the same penalties as the infamous Ken Lay. The document is shown below – it is stunning.

Vadum_TheKingsleyMemo_CapitalResearchCenter -

Thursday, October 01, 2009

War in Afghanistan Rages on - As Casualties Mount – Obama Needs “Several Weeks” to Decide U.S. Course of Action

Afgan Soldiers Treat Wounded U.S. Service Member - Military Time

American Casualtiesin Afghanistan are on the rise; with a total of 43 service men and women having died since August 30. President Obama, meanwhile, will wait several weeks before making a decision regarding the Afghan War – this according to an AP Report yesterday. The President is weighing the advice from both civilian and military members within his administration, while the 68,000 troops serving in Afghanistan face increasing pressures from Taliban/Al Queda Insurgents. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates is in favor of adding additional troops, in an effort similar to the counter-insurgency that worked in Iraq (until such time as the President withdrew U.S. combat divisions, leaving those military forces in Iraq vulnerable).
This is advice given by Stanley McChrystal, who asked for an additional 40,000 troops. Gates is not in favor of a proposal to use drones and limited military in order to strike at Al Queda camps – citing that this strategy was used pre-9/11.

The crux of the matter is that the President has found himself in a boondoggle as regards Afghanistan, a country that has yet to be conquered by any force, including those of Alexander The Great. On the one hand, should he commit to further increasing the military option, he runs the risk of an already comparative Viet Nam, as troops become scarce, the need for a draft will be evident. On the other hand, should he commit to a smaller police force, with limited back-up, the same situation will occur, emboldening Al Queda further, and leading other nations to assume the Paper Tiger is back (see Carter). The civilian advisors would rather limited involvement in Afghanistan, and those advisors are the Presidents base, without which, and during an upcoming election, he may not be able to do without, and the possibility that the President himself, shares the distaste for military action equal to his peers. Therefore he is stuck between a rock and hard place, with few discernible leadership skills, while American Troops are under fire in two theaters.

Obama options, according to the Washington Post, are somewhat limited. The President may rely on the G.O.P. members of both Houses to help him should he take the commander’s advice of adding more troops in the theater. Although that would be a good strategy after the 2010 election, should the GOP gain a majority (polls lean in that direction now), at the moment, there are too few Republicans to make much of a difference vis a vis, and extremely left-leaning majority. With the likes of Massachusetts Senator (I don’t’ know what Cap and Trade Means) John Kerry pontificating on the Viet Nam comparisons, using the fact that during the administrations of both Kennedy and Johnson, troop increases failed to make a difference. (He fails to mention which administrations). What Kerry does not mention is the fact that troops on the ground were hamstrung by political nonsense such as the demilitarized zone, which was honored by the U.S. Forces, not the Viet Cong. Additionally, they were mainly made up of 18 and 19 year old draftees, normally coming from poor urban areas, with little training, and less chance of survival – This is very unlike the volunteer military the U.S. enjoys today.

With the pressure mounting, the President must weigh all the facts before, deciding the fate of those in-country and the fate of those yet unnamed who will surely follow, or face the derision of the world, specifically those countries and terrorist organizations who are still bent on destroying the U.S. (despite the election of one Barack Obama). It will remain to be seen, if the President will weigh in on the side of the military for the first time in his very short presidency or allow his own political ideology (in concert with his civilian advisors) to shape the course of events similar in scope to those decisions made during the Johnson and Carter administrations.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Boston Globe Campaigns Against Christie Mihos, Candidate for Govenor – Article on Mihos Tax Issue Refuted by Other Journalist - Analysis

The BostonGlobe ran an article entitled “Mihos Runs Short on Tax Lien Explanation”, yesterday. In reading the article, written by Globe Staffer, Michele Richinick, one gets the distinct impression that this is more of an editorialized report than an actual “news article”. The gist of the article is that Globe Reporters investigating Mihos financials discovered a tax lien on his home on the Cape, and that Mihos had owed additional monies in fees for late payment. In the same article, however, paragraph three reads:

“Mihos refused to quantify the gain or the amount of the tax. He produced a letter of apology from the IRS, stating that the lien was placed in error shortly after the delinquent taxes had been paid.”

Yet the Globe is not “satisfied” with the “explanation” given by Mihos regarding the reason the lien was filed in the first place.
The first note under the headline reads: "Cape Cod Home Latest IRS Target", referring to a transaction Mihos made in another State, not subject to Massachusetts Taxes, but which the State’s D.O.R. aggressively pursed in order to collect the tax and fines. Incidentally this incident occurred during the 2006 campaign.

A follow-up article by 40 year veteran Journalist Walter Brook, appeared on a local Cape Cod News Website :

“Although Christy Mihos owes no taxes whatsoever, the state's largest circulation daily newspaper implied otherwise today in a story which confounded this writer and many others, including the candidate who lives in Yarmouth.
In fact, Mihos is probably the state's only taxpayer who has received a letter of apology from the IRS, a fact known to the writers of the Globe article.
As a journalist for half a century in this state, I have never before seen such a concerted effort by the "old media" to write-off a candidate this early in the campaign, a candidate who their own polls show ahead of his competitor.
As a journalist for half a century in this state, I have never before seen such a concerted effort by the "old media" to write-off a candidate this early in the campaign, a candidate who their own polls show ahead of his competitor.”

Mr. Brooks is referring to Mr. Mihos Republican challenger, Charles Baker, as the which the Globe defends, however, when one looks at the polls, it is clear that the Candidate who has the most to fear from Mihos’ gubernatorial race, is the incumbent Governor, Duval Patrick. In the last four polls, two by Suffolk University and two by Rasmussen, Mihos handily bests Patrick – while Baker does not fare as well. Therefore, one can deduce that, given the Globe “discovered” Mihos’ tax problems in two consecutive election cycles, the real target is the leading Republican candidate.

It is precisely this type of shoddy, “insinuating”, journalism from the Globe and like publications that reminds one of headlines coming from less “elite” sources, such as the National Enquirer. One has to take the alleged “infighting” from the G.O.P., indicated by Mr. Brook in his article, with a grain of salt. Mr. Brook is concerned that the Globe is pushing Baker as a candidate for the Mass. GOP. Given the history of the paper’s editorial bent, this is most unlikely. The facts are simple, the Mass. G.O.P., has two candidates running for Governor, and most likely would prefer one over the other, (given the same occurs with the State’s Democratic Committee) and therefore, as with any healthy primary challenge, one expects there to be supporters from the top of an organization on down, for one candidate or another . That said, simple math (polls and financials) and the make-up of the electorate, dictate that at the end of the day, Mihos will be the gubernatorial candidate, despite the Globes writers best efforts.

Mihos, a populist candidate will face off in a primary that includes the 12% republican electorate as well as any independent (unenrolled) that chose to vote in that primary against Deval Patrick. (Unenrolled's may vote in Massachusetts Primaries, they merely choose either a Republican or Democrat Ballot)The Commonwealth boasts an unusually high percentage of “unenrolleds” – over 50% of the electorate – giving that “non-party” the ability to elect the next Governor, Senator, U.S. Congressional Rep., and so on. Therefore, the hoopla over Party politics in the commonwealth is moot – the voter that each candidate needs to reach is the unenrolled. Given that this year polling indicates that Mihos, as a populist does best with both Republicans and Unenrolleds, any Patrick supporters will do their best to paint the leading candidate as less than perfect. The third party candidate, Tim Cahill, Democrat turned independent, fares well in polling, garnering a 27% (approximate) approval rating – a rating that is similar to the one enjoyed by Christie in his 2006 Independent bid for Governor. The end result, however, is the independent candidate received less than 10% of the overall vote. Therefore, Cahill’s entry into the race is moot, given the historical voting and polling patterns of the Commonwealth. Patrick’ overall approval rating is in the high 20’s and unless there is divine intervention, there will be little hope of a second term. Therefore, one can anticipate that the Globe’s articles will become more aggressive and desperate as the race continues.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Democrats Taxing Insurance Benefits – The Disastrous Road to Paying for Health Care Reform

From CBS News: Congressional Democrats are seeking for ways to fund the proposed health care reform plan – the way out – taxing those who have Cadillac insurance plans purchased either privately or through employers. The Senate has also considered assessing taxes on insurance plans, as well as “fining” individuals who do not choose to carry insurance.

Further, from Politico

This doesn't happen often enough.
Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) received a handwritten note Thursday from Joint Committee on Taxation Chief of Staff Tom Barthold confirming the penalty for failing to pay the up to $1,900 fee for not buying health insurance.
Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to a year in jail or a $25,000 penalty, Barthold wrote on JCT letterhead. He signed it "Sincerely, Thomas A. Barthold."
The note was a follow-up to Ensign's questioning at the markup.

The Note:

Note from Senate - Fees Assessed on Non Compliance of Federal Health Care

The Citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, (who groan each time one of the harebrained programs that burden the remaining tax base is exported nationally), currently pay fees (taxes) for not carrying health insurance, fees that are paid to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (see Tax) – that said, the Senate Version of “how to pay for the Democrats Health Care Reform Bill” includes something new – fines and jail time for non-compliance.

Personal liberty erosion aside, the fact that the majority of individuals who “choose” not to carry health insurance do so because they cannot afford coverage, (yes, Virginia, even in Massachusetts), they either make too much money to qualify for the State Plan (based on last year’s income), and many are faced with loss of income either through job loss or wage cuts. Additionally, the Commonwealth has the option of garnering wages in order to collect these “fees”. Under the plan proposed in the Senate of theses United Sate, if someone cannot afford the premium, one gets hit with a fine, which, given circumstances, they may not be able to pay, and therefore, they are further taxed, and/or imprisoned and once can bet the house, one’s wages may also be on the line – or one’s unemployment benefits.

On the one hand, with all the bells and whistles being placed into plans devised by both branches of Congress, including insuring those who are not legal citizens of these United States, someone has to pay the price – the likely target – those who somehow still have nickel to rub together so to speak. It is, in a word, ridiculous that those who have grown so comfortable in Seats to which they feel entitled, have the gall to dictate these types of provisions to the very people who hire them to do the job in the first place. Understanding that the system is broken, looking for ways to fix or enhance the system so that those who currently have coverage they are paying for out of pocket, would maintain their coverage, (without penalty of taxation), that those who for whatever reason are unable to afford coverage but make too much (according to whatever bar the State/Federal Government sets), should be given reasonable options for alternate plans; not penalized, further taxed and threatened with imprisonment for not having health insurance – and those who are already receiving Medicaid, the uninsured, the indigent, those who cross borders without benefit of legality, are currently set - It is the middle class that comes under attack once again, by those entrenched politician’s who cannot see the forest through the trees – The options proposed are ludicrous – if one cannot afford a plan, then one should seriously study alternatives prior to ramming a ridiculous mess down the proverbial throats of the American populace. There is a model in place, Massachusetts, and it is a story of deficits in the billions, with taxes and fees assessed on those who fall through the cracks - It is a blueprint for the Federal government on what not to do – but in ignorance, a sense of entitlement and a false sense of superiority, they appear to go forward and follow blindly. The solution: vote against any congressman or senator, regardless of party, who would further harm the citizens’ individual rights while further eroding the economy.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Obama Administration Seeks to End School Summer Vacations – Extend Classroom Hours.

President Obama and Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, are looking at extending the school year, as well as the length of time students spend in class each day – the reasoning – overall grades will improve, and those children who come from lower income families, or are without extended support systems, will also thrive, having access to food, shelter, and education. The problem: it is a fact that children in other countries lead the U.S. in math and science scores, despite the fact that they spend more time in instruction – from the AP

Kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests—Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years 190 to 201 days) than does the U.S. (180 days).

One would think, therefore, that the problem lies not in the length of the school day, rather in the quality of the education received while in school.
The model for the administration on policy – once again – is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:

In Massachusetts' expanded learning time initiative, early results indicate that kids in some schools do better on state tests than do kids at regular public schools. The extra time, which schools can add as hours or days, is for three things: core academics—kids struggling in English, for example, get an extra English class; more time for teachers; and enrichment time for kids.
Extra time is not cheap. The Massachusetts program costs an extra $1,300 per student, or 12 percent to 15 percent more than regular per-student spending, said Jennifer Davis, a founder of the program. It received more than $17.5 million from the state Legislature last year.

The problem lays, to some extent , with the fact that students in Public Schools are not subject to “immersion” – learning to read and write the English language, with no extra bells and whistles – in order for those students to completely understand written tests and materials. In parochial and private schools, students coming from different cultures are subject to immersion, and generally, within a year, are able to excel. Additionally, students are not automatically given a “pass” to the next grade, extra help is made available. The rub, the cost to educate at the parochial level is approximately 50% below the public school level (based on Massachusetts parochial high school tuition at $8,000 (includes books), versus a tab of $12,000 at the public level.

Therefore, extending the school year, will do little but increase the cost of education, not the value of the education received – one would think that improving the quality of the education would increase scores overall and as far as programs for those students who are socially disadvantaged, programs could be set in place (many already exists (i.e. boys and girls clubs and summer school) which would fill any gaps.

The question one has to ask: is at what cost to the taxpayers – perhaps the parochial model should be used. One can argue (and that argument exists) that parochial students are not subject to mandatory state administered testing – and therefore, it is not the same, or that teachers are not, somehow, as qualified as those in the public sector (i.e. non-union), however, if one bothers to compare the graduation rates from the parochial (private) institutions compared to the public, and the comparative costs – it is apparent that our children nationally, could be educated for less, without the need to increase the burden on the taxpayer – or, more importantly, put additional burdens on the students who are outperforming their peers.

An aside: While working towards my hours for a teachers certificate, substitute teaching a class in December of 2000, a student, (whose teacher was away in Florida helping to make sure that George Bush did not cheat Al Gore out of the presidency), a young student (6th grade) told me that his teacher was away to help the children – because if George Bush was elected, they would spend 8 days a week in class. First, the fact that the student was leering about politics in a science class was a bit amusing, but the fact that the student thought there were 8 days in a week (once corrected, he was able to do the math), speaks to the quality of the education system regarding basis skills.

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