Monday, September 28, 2009

Giles', Shackelford's Definition Of Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

Hannah Giles, the conservative activist who assisted progressive radical James O'Keefe, appeared on Sean Hannity's program with her lawyer, Kelly Shackelford, and discussed the impending lawsuit against her, O'Keefe, and Andrew Breitbart, by ACORN.

Poltico reports:
The crux of the lawsuit centers around a Maryland law which makes it illegal to tape someone without their consent - ACORN is alleging O'Keefe and Giles did so. ACORN is asking for $500,000 in damages to be awarded to each of the employees filmed by O'Keefe and Giles, and ACORN itself wants $1 million in damages.
Hannah Giles opinion: "It's kind of silly... I'm a 20-year-old girl being sued for $5 million", with her Shackelford adding that this is nothing more than a "baseless lawsuit" intended to "to bully a 20-year-old girl".  Schackelford states that this lawsuit is an attempt to "chill speech and freedom of the press", and cites the first amendment as protection for such "citizen journalists" like Giles.

Although the lawsuit has not been served, Schackelford claims the case to be baseless under Maryland statutes, and believes that the reason why the filmmakers are being sued is because they exposed corruption.  Hannity asks the lawyer to be more specific about the statutes that will be used in this case, and states that under the law, one party must have reasonable expectations of privacy in the conversation.  Schackelford states that the statute is specific, that must involve a "private conversation", and using the tape as evidence, he states that it was not a private conversation, with "over 10 people in the room", and with the ACORN employees speaking rather loudly.  Because of this, Shackelford argues that the law is not applicable.

Schackelford claimed that Giles is protected under the first amendment.  This view does not take into consideration the laws in question and that freedom of speech is to not be restricted by government, and that there are limitations to such expectations of freedom, especially when maliciously attacking people or secretly videotaping non consenting parties.  Shackelford assumes that prior restraint is not exclusive to government, but to private industry, and the concept of the unconstitutionality of prior restraint should be applied to his case.  Obviously Giles' lawyer believes she is innocent because in his opinion, the law does not apply to her, and so her video is allowed.  Considering the Maryland statute outlines that there must be a reasonable expectation of privacy, I do not believe Shackelford's defense to be sound.  Considering he is going on television with his client, discussing this lawsuit, I do not think their to be a reasonable expectation of privacy between the two, and I would like all communications between them to be disclosed, for it would be relevant to this case.  Obviously I am not serious, but you can see the absurdity of his argument by simply stating they spoke loudly with other employees in the room; its not like they were at a townhall meeting discussing taxes and child prostitution.

I was not aware that going to a private office released the expectations of privacy.  I assume that when I go to the bank, my discussions with my banker are private, regardless of how many employees are present, or if there are other customers in the lobby.  When I go to the doctor, I expect the results of my visit to be private, regardless of how many nurses or other doctors walk by.  The law is rather clear.  Consent was not obtained by those who were filmed, and just because there were other employees, or because this was a private office that was open to the public, in which the employees spoke loudly, there was an expectation of privacy between ACORN and the filmmakers.

O'Keefe played the "ignorance of the law" card on Fox News Sunday, when asked by Mike Wallace, O'Keefe simply said "I don't know", but they must have understood the consequences of their actions.  During O'Keefe's previous investigative journalism outings that crusaded against Planned Parenthood, O'Keefe had mentioned that they only targeted locations where it was legal to record people without their consent, and when his partner in the Planned Parenthood sting was threatened with a lawsuit for violating wiretapping laws, O'Keefe wrote that they had continued with their investigation, and that after "the investigation aired nationally on Fox News, Planned Parenthood could no longer press charges, as Lila would appear the victim."  O'Keefe does not acknowledge that they may have violated laws, but that they will be viewed innocent once they release their investigation into the public domain, regardless of any law broken.  They were essentially creating a jury bias, and in essence corrupting their own investigation for the sake of their cause.  It does not matter who is actually right or wrong, just so long that the public perceives your target to be the villain.  It appears that O'Keefe and Giles have decided to use that same ignorance of the law to push forward with their ACORN investigation, and as you can see, they are separating from each other, with O'Keefe playing the activist who knew of nothing wrong of his actions, but only that he uncovered some kind of corruption, and with Giles playing the victim.  Maybe ACORN played right into their hands...

It is also interesting that they claim to have numerous more tapes that will be disclosed soon, but they appear to be holding off for now.  There is also a greater focus on ACORN from the right, and it seems as if they are working overtime to try and discredit the organization further before this matter reaches the courts.  Maybe they know their little filmmakers failed to follow the law...

I would also like to note Hannity's comment in the beginning of the interview, where Hannity tells Shackelford that this lawsuit will allow him to go through ACORN's "financing, hiring, etc."  Hannity seems to view this lawsuit as a way to disclose the company's internal operations to the public, despite that it has nothing to do with illegally videotaping someone without their consent.

In case you would like to watch the interview, and see this crack "citizen journalist" and her lawyer make their case on Hannity, here it is:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Unintended Consequences Of The "Defund ACORN" Act

Critics of both the stimulus and the health care bill argued that such legislation was drafted too quickly that nobody had a chance to read it, yet they want this legislation. This is the same kind of populist reaction that occurred over bonuses for employees of bailed out institutions, only the unintended consequences can do more harm then good (depending on which side of the coin you are looking at).

This may have been just the bill America needed to stop unnecessary funding, or to eliminate business dealings with corporations that engage in illegal activity, and as a result save tax payers potentially billions of dollars. Consider the amount of money such as Blackwater, Halliburton, KBR, and any of their subsidiaries received in comparison with ACORN. Acorn had received $53 million since 1994, but the big three military contractors $25 Billion in almost half the amount of time (since 2001).

Lets see the reactions of the Fox News commentators who pushed and pushed for this to come. Ask and you shall receive...

To read the article from the Huffington Post for reference, please click here.

Fox News In Bed With Andrew Breitbart

Updated Friday, September 25, 2009.  Check out the response made by California State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore and my response...

Has anybody heard of a "delta smelt"?  If you watch Sean Hannity, you would know that this fish is part of Sean Hannity's pet project.  In short, a conservative activist federal judge, who was appointed by President George H. W. Bush, had ordered water pumps be turned off for a period of time because of negative impacts on the fish, which happens to be endangered.  It seems that Fox News got a hold of the story and is politicizing a state matter.  This is an issue that regards California's water rights, as well as an endangered species, and despite Hannity's calls to turn the pumps back on, the pumps are on, but he fails to recognize that there is currently a drought.

What I find even more interesting then the audacity of the conservative talk show host to politicize a regional matter at the federal level, especially a decision that was made by a conservative judge more than two years ago, is the connections between this story and various other Fox News stories.

Sean Hannity picked up on this matter on May 8th, 2009.  California State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore had written an article about the matter on none other then Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood website on May 3rd, 2009.  In the article, DeVore oversimplifies the matter as nothing more then unproven science regarding the fish's population and the strict interpretation of the Endangered Species Act, which he calls the "lynchpin" of the entire matter.  The article mostly focuses on actor/comedian Paul Rodriguez who has been outspoken about the situation, which he had stated on other occasions, because of the effect it is having on his family's community.

If you do not recognize the name Andrew Breitbart, or his website, you may recall that he was behind a couple other recent stories covered by Fox News.  A few weeks ago, the same website, Big Hollywood, was responsible for breaking the supposed use of artists by the National Endowment for the Arts to create a propaganda wing of the White House, when concerned artist Patrick Courrielche came forward with a secretly taped teleconference with then communications director of the NEA.  As a side note, it is interesting that looking into Patrick Courrielche, he is also involved in marketing and advertising, being president at Inform Ventures, and is a fan, according to his Facebook, of the Free To Choose Network, The Cato Institute, and the Libertarian Party.

Andrew Breitbart was also responsible for helping distribute the infamous ACORN videos produced by James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, releasing the videos on his new website Big Government simultaneously and exclusively with Fox News, which I had thought interesting considering Glenn Beck's question as to why no other media station picked up on the story.  As I had previously noted in other articles I had written, James O'Keefe had affectionately advocated the use of deceit to achieve conservative activist goals.  In addition to being a conservative activist, he also stated that activists must be their own media and utilize independent media to propagate their own manufactured news, which he refers to as using tactics from the left.  I am also reminded of Hannah Giles article in which she referred to Margaret Sanger as a "sex fiend" who founded an industry that murders thousands of babies every day.

Are these the people you want to get your news from?

It seems interesting that every time Breitbart or his websites mention something, Fox News jumps on the matter and politicizes it to the extreme, as we have seen with the constant ACORN coverage, their attack on various members of the administration, and their airing of a California water rights matter involving an endangered species, in which Paul Rodriguez boldly reminds us that "fish can’t vote".

As another side note, I was wondering... Paul Rodriguez was born in Mexico to migrant workers, and in previous televised appearances, he had said that his family was effected by the situation involving the delta smelt.  I am curious as to what his mother's citizenship status is and if she is in the country illegally, and the amount of illegal immigrants the local farmers use to work their land.  Maybe Paul Rodriguez should focus on filming Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 then get involved in a situation that he has no bearings on, and the same goes for Sean Hannity and the rest of the gang at Fox News.

Beck, Hannity Ignore Billion Dollar Scandals; Opt For Community Organization Coverage

Visiting Media Matters for America, I thought there was an interesting article regarding the amount of times the subject of ACORN was mentioned regarding other scandals, such as the Jack Abramoff scandal or ones involving military contractors.  I thought it was interesting because you constantly hear from Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity that ACORN is corrupt and receiving so much federal money, and that must be stopped, but the article I read illustrates the point, that although ACORN has received only $53 million over the past 15 years, thsee other people and corporations are given a free pass by Beck and Hannity, even though they have taken in $25 Billion over the last 8 years; ACORN collects only .2% the amount of all these military contractors, yet they are constantly attacked by the commentators on Fox News.


According to Media Matters, since May of 2006, Glenn Beck has referenced ACORN 1045, compared to only 7 times for the Abramoff scandal, 2 times for the Blackwater scandal, and 19 times for the Halliburton scandal.  Comparatively, on Sean Hannity, these same subjects have been discussed 457, 55, 2, and 24 respectively.  The following graphs can be found in this Media Matters article.

Considering the amount of taxpayer's money involved, you would think such advocates for the average citizen, such as Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity, would make a bigger deal about companies that are receiving federal money that are involved in murdering innocent civilizans, instead of a community organization that received a fraction of a fraction of the amount, in more then twice the amount of time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What People Feel About Government Spending

Reading the Big Government article American Public Think 50 Percent Of Federal Budget Is Wasted, by Dan Mitchell, in which the author cites the Wall Street Journal article Our $2 Trillion Bridge To Nowhere, by Stephen Moore.  In the article, if you could not tell by the title, discusses how these figures are encouraging, presumably to the conservatives, because that means Americans would be more open to ideas of smaller government.  The Mitchell piece is only a paragraph, and cites zero facts, so by first read, you would think that a majority of Americans feel the government is wasteful.  Because I wanted to know the figures, I decided to read the Wall Street Journal article, where Mitchell got his information.

The Wall Street Journal cites a poll, which posed this question:
"Of every tax dollar that goes to Washington, D.C., how many cents of each dollar would you say is wasted?
According to Gallup, the mean response was fifty cents.  The article does not state majority, but the mean, which if we all recall from any math class, is the sum of all the respondant's answers divided by the number of answers.  This means if you had 10 people who took this poll, with 2 people believing 25 cents, 4 people believing 35 cents, and 4 people believing 90 cents, the mean could just as well have been 55 cents, even though a majority of people believe waste is far less.  Also in response to another question asking if there was "too much government regulation of business and industry", the number of people believing there is too much is almost double that of those who believe there is too little, but the results of the poll, as cited in the Wall Street Journal do not paint the entire picture.  The actual results to the previous question list the percentages of 45% to 24%, and so Moore's assertion that there are more people who believe in less regulation, but those results are only 69% of the answers given.  What do the other 31% of people say?

The columnist goes on to mention the election of Obama is a contradiction to the desires of the American people and that the "Republicans' strategy of creating a unified bloc of "no" votes to Obama spending initiatives like government-run health care and the cap-and trade-energy bill is in line with where voters are" and that Americans "don't want bipartisan cooperation", or at least in expanding the role of government, but I could have sworn in the midst of the economic crisis last year, law makers, both Republican and Democrat, felt compelled to act because that is what their constituency wanted...

Author Moore believes Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats should combine forces for a "radical shrinking of government in order to reduce debt and waste".  He later writes that "over the last decade, the federal government has become bloated and inefficient. Voters are on to the scam.", but fails to mention that Republicans controlled government for the majority of those years.

I do agree with Moore on one thing.  He states that the government should eliminate useless or obsolete agencies and require any repaid TARP funds to go towards paying back down the debt.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Marijuana For Universal Medicine

I have just launched my new website, Marijuana for Universal Medicine, which is intended to outline my proposal to fund universal healthcare by means of leaglization of marijuana.  The thought had come to me while I was debating the pros and cons of universal health care and our current health care system with a couple people I know.

Personally, I think the potential to fund the entire system overhaul is great, and the societal benefits should seriously be considered.  Recent discussions on legalization have been renewed due to the economic crisis, such as what is taking place in California, with Governor Schwarzenegger calling for debate on the matter.  I do not believe legalization to fill state budget gaps is wise; we all saw what the states did with such budget surpluses in relation to increased tax revenue from the housing boom.  I do believe a more focused application of funds collected from legalization could be put to use at the federal level, with savings from enforcement benefiting municipalities.

All of these options will be outlined on my new website, and I hope to have contributing authors to offer various opinions and viewpoints as well...

You may also have noticed some changes on this website, including a small apparel shop on the bottom of the page.  To help fund my efforts in researching and spreading the word on my project, I will be offering various clothing and accessories through a Spreadshirt account, which can be viewed here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

GOP Questionnaire from Michael Steele

The other day I received in the mail the 2009 Obama Agenda Survey from the republican National Committee.  I decided that I would fill it out, but as I was filling it out, it occurred to me that the questions were not created to actually guage what Republicans actually thought, or to create any constructive argument, but was more of a reinforcement of the party's core beliefs.  The survey was accompanied by a four page letter from Chairmant Michael Steele, and in that letter, there were some things that I found interesting.  On the bottom of the letter, it also indicates that the letter was not printed at taxpayers' expense.

In the letter, the Chairman calls upon my "immediate action" on filling out a questionnaire to determine where I stand, as a grassroots Republican, stand on critical issues.  The sentence directly after this one states that the "liberal media elites and the Obama Democrats" do not want me to respond.  He underlines that they want me to "give up" and he reassures me that the Republican Party "is not dead".  To me, he is starting off with the right wing craziness already, referring to the liberal media, but to me, it also appears as if he is on the defensive.  He opened up taking swings and attempts to dispel any perceived doubts I may have.  The following sentence was printed in bold, where Steele writes "I'm asking you to please not turn your back on us now."
This next sentence made me laugh.  "We have a strong minority in the U.S. House and in the U.S. Senate.  We intend to use both to actively oppose and expose the truth about the Obama Democrat agenda."  There he goes again referring to the Obama Democrats.  I believe he keeps making this distinction because the Republicans are still a minority, and so they are trying to convert those who align themselves with the opposite party, but by differentiating between a Democrat and an Obama Democrat, just maybe they can make a difference.  I found more humorous that Steele states they have a "strong minority".  What exactly does that mean?  The republicans have 40% of the seats in Congress.  Is he insinuating that although hey are not the majority, they represent the majority?  I don't know but read his next sentence, which is written in bold again, "We believe that you and every one of the more than 60 million voters all across our country who did not vote for Barack Obama deserve to have a voice in the way this country is governed."  I thought that is what their "strong minority was for".

Steele goes on to discuss the survey, stating that my response is to accurately sample Republican opinions from my area, but as I will later demonstrate, the questions are less to gauge my opinions, and more to reinforce Republican dogma.  Before the survey begins (presuming one reads every page in order), Steele goes on to discuss what exactly the Obama administration's agenda is, stating that there is not "overwhelming support for many of the radical proposals being put forward by Obama and the Democrats".  He asks me to respond to find out where I stand on "Barack Obama's promise to raise taxes", or his plan to give "amnesty to illegal immigrants" that can lead to government handouts totaling billions of dollars and possibly bankrupting Social Security.  He wants to know how I feel about Obama wanting to nationalize health care and put D.C. bureaucrats in charge, and he wants me to respond to these "top priorities" of the administration before they bring about "change" that will "stifle our fragile economy, undermine our nation's sovereignty and create a massive new government bureaucracy".  As a side thought, Steele believes that the economy is "fragile" but I recall another prominent Republican, Senator John McCain, stating during the campaign that the economy was "fundamentally strong".

Steele goes on to state that they will make sure Democrats are accountable for their actions and hold them to their record now that they are "in total control of the federal government."  He makes a shift from discussing the Obama administration to fund raising, stating that Obama had raised over $650 million during last year, out-raising Republicans 2-1, and requires me to contribute to the party to be able to compete against the "radical left-wing Obama agenda".  He references the media again stating they act as if Obama and his liberal agenda received "100%" of the vote.  He again mentions that 60 million Americans did not support Obama in the last election.  I think it is important to note that last year had the highest voter turnout since 1968, with 56.8% percent of the eligible voting population participating in the election.  There are 231,229,580 Americans who can vote, and in the last election, roughly 25% of them voted for the Republican party, with roughly 70 million people voting for Barack Obama, or 30% of the eligible voting population, so in all fairness, the Republicans could be accurate in stating they represent a strong minority, because those who chose not to be represented may align themselves with the Republicans, decreasing the disparity between the two groups, but considering the outcome of the previous election, one could say that control of the government was ceded to the Democrats, or at least until next election, and only time will tell what those results would be.

Michael Steele states that the purpose of the Obama Agenda Survey is to help the Republican Party "refocus and rebuild" to prevent not only the administration's "agenda of special interest handouts and ultra-liberal big government policies".  Steele wants to reassure everyone who received this questionnaire that the Republican Party does not want to be the party that opposes everything the Obama administration does, but Steele states that they were put on the defensive because according to him, "Democrats in Congress put partisan politics in front of the best interests of the nation, attacked our leaders with personal smears, and saturated the media with propaganda."  Is he certain of this?  Using the results of this questionnaire, Steele and the GOP want to move forward, offering substantive alternatives based on their "conservative principles and free market ideals".

Here are the questions included in the questionnaire that accompanied the Chairman's letter, scanned to show the exact order and wording of each:

If you read the questions, what exactly would your answers be?  Who would answer "yes" to some of these questions, that are obviously weighted?  Overall, these questions are interesting, because they indicate the Republican Party is only interested in furthering themselves from the center.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Undercover ACORN Investigators Are Conservative Activists; Aim To "Be Their Own Media"

I had noticed that the Fox News approach to their recent ACORN story is that opponents are going to try to shoot the messenger.  The two kids pretending to be journalists, Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe, had violated laws regarding videotaping a person without their knowledge, but pundits on channels such as Fox News attacked such claims that these young journalists should face criminal charges for their actions, and that they had provided a valuable service, which was uncovering an organization that was receiving public funds and aiding in the trafficking of child prostitutes, but did the organization actually do anything illegal, compared to these two reporters?

I am not defending ACORN, but looking at the facts presented by the reporters, which are few, it appears that their investigation was conducted poorly and at times incomplete, and more resembles a Charles Dickens serial novel then an actual hard hitting investigative piece.  The reporting by these two people is like a YouTube video playing a prank on some office.  They were dressed like they were going to a Halloween party, and I would hardly believe O'Keefe to be a pimp.  He looks more like David Spade from PCU then a pimp.  The conduct of the ACORN employees in the first couple videos was reprehensible, and I agree with the Senate vote stripping Federal funds from ACORN''s programs, but I believe that the actions taken by these journalists were highly amateurish, and seemed as if they were trying to hard to make a name for themselves, engaging in illegal videotaping and essentially equates to entrapment.  Ontop of that, the release of their latest video, in which an ACORN employee claims to have killed her husband, was not fact checked prior to publication, with Fox News following suit giving the video tremendous air play.  It turns out that the woman had never murdered her husband, and any investigative journalist would have done the research before showing this video.  These two reporters were duped, and in my opinion, discredits their entire operation.  Who is to say previous employees did not dupe these two?  There is also question as to whether the ACORN employees in previous videos filed any paperwork.  If they did, while that would be illegal for the organization, wouldn't it also be illegal for the two reporters, who would essentially be trying to defraud the government with their investigation, just to prove a point?  These two should have done more research to create a more comprehensive examination into the possible illegal activities of ACORN.

This raises my question as to who are these two people.  Nobody has ever heard of them, yet they broke this story and got it put at the top of Fox's story rotation.  As I had written a couple days ago regarding this story:
First, on September 9th, Glenn Beck mentioned that Fox had an exclusive segment and that no other journalists were covering this story, and no other station was investigating or telling the truth, so Beck and the people at Fox were going to tell you the "truth as we know it".  I thought that was interesting: "the truth as we know it".  Although a seemingly innocuous comment, I thought it was intriguing.  It is like a license to say whatever you want because you believe it to be true.  On September 10th's program Glenn Beck discussed more about the prostitution scandal, and stated again that no other news program was showing the story he was about to air, and that the only ones who were giving the story the light of day was The National Review, The Wall Street Journal, and Fox News, the latter two being owned by News Corporation, headed by Rupert Murdoch.          

In addition to which news agencies were reporting this story, I thought it was interesting because of who the reporter, Hannah Giles, was.  She had mentioned that she was not familiar with ACORN, but she heard poor things about them (presumably from Fox), and decided to bait them to prove they are thugs.  At the end of the program, Beck said you can find this all on Big Government.  I decided to visit that site and saw that the website was presented by Andrew Breitbart.  That name rang a bell.  After thinking long and hard, I remember that Andrew Breitbart has another website, titled Big Hollywood, which also rang a bell.  The reason why was because this website was mentioned during Beck's program where he accused the National Endowment for the Arts of being a propaganda wing of the administration, citing exclusive information provided by filmmaker, marketer, and art community consultant Patrick Courrielche, who also happens to be an author for Big Hollywood..

What is interesting about Big Government is that it is brand new, debuting on September 10th, although video clips premiered on Glenn Beck's program on September 9th.  Glenn Beck is constantly lambasting liberal bloggers and the liberal media, but it seems that Beck is establishing his own right wing media circle to pull stories from, to try and legitimize his own program, in addition to the rotation of commentators on each others shows (O'Reilly, Hannity, Beck, Van Susteren, etc.)    
We know the story surrounding the source of the articles, but what about the actual authors?  It turns out Hannah Giles is "contributor" to and an "aspiring journalist", as well as journalist Doug Giles' eldest daughter. is an online conservative publication that was previously operated by The Heritage Foundation, but was purchased by Salem Communications, a "media company specializing in evangelical Christian and conservative political talk radio".

She had written only a couple articles for the website.  In her article The Truth Is Too Scandalous for YouTube, Giles discussed the abundance of socially unacceptable material that can be found on YouTube, but what you wont find are videos made by "UCLA Law Student James O’Keefe", whose videos are "habitually banned".  If you have been familiar with the ACORN story, and do not have short term memory problems, you may remember that O'Keefe played the pimp in the infamous ACORN videos.  What else does Giles have to say about her friend?
A young lawyer in training, full of prospects and dreams, O’Keefe takes no prisoners and calls things as they are.  Currently, he has his sights set on unveiling the deep-rooted  prejudices of Planned Parenthood.  O’Keefe, and other dedicated students, are tackling the American abortion industry, by revealing the basis of its existence.
She goes on to discuss Planned Parent spreading "race-hygiene", and she describes them as "Hitleresque".  In O'Keefe's sting operation with Planned Parenthood, he called up sites, "in states where it is legal to audio record without the other party's consent" (how come they did not do the same with their ACORN videos), and he posed as a donor who wanted his money to be used for the abortion of black babies, expressing his "belief" that there were too many black people around.  Planned Parenthood agreed to fulfill his wishes.  These videos were posted online, and were the most popular videos under Planned Parenthood, but were taken down without notice during Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention.  Coincidence?  Maybe, but it seems that Giles believes that the removal of this activist's videos were politically motivated.  She goes on to call O'Keefe's efforts "legitimate investigative work".  She goes on to write the following:
After all, who would know that the founder of Planned Parenthood was an avid racist and sex fiend.  Or that even though Margaret Sanger never physically reproduced, her ideas spread far and wide, and developed into a billion-dollar American industry responsible for the death of approximately 4,000 babies a day.
I guess it is easy to attack a woman who had died over 40 years ago, and claim she was a sex fiend.  While she may have been a supporter of negative eugenics, I had never read that she was a sex fiend, but I guess that goes hand in hand with people who support abortions;  they all must be promiscuous.  I would like to make a side note that I only support abortion in the most severe instances, including rape and incest, and the threat of the mother's life.

In Giles other article Don't Be A Zombie: Question Your Leaders!, written right after Obama had won the nomination, she continues to refer to him as "Barack Hussein Obama".  Although that is his legal name, I understand that his middle name is favored by the right because of associations with another famous Hussein: Saddam.  She references Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.  She puts it so affectionately, "Sen. John Sidney McCain III and Sen. Barack Hussein Obama are vying for the presidency this election year."  I guess it was necessary to include McCain's middle name, maybe to show that it was not as exotic as Obama's, or to accentuate that he is an Anglo-American (I am not accusing Giles of racism, or of playing the race card, but simply proposing that she may have had ulterior motives).  Her belief, as stated in the article, was that at the time, Senator Hillary Clinton was calling for Republicans to forfeit the race to Obama, which would lead to the loss of American liberty and freedom.

I would like to note that as I am reading her article, there are advertisements all over her web page with advertisements for Glenn Beck and conservative t-shirts with slogans such as "I'd rather be waterboarding" printed on the front.

Her latest article was written June 29th of this year, and focused on a possible tax on the methane emissions of cattle.  The article was called I've Heard of a Flat Tax, but a Flatulence Tax? and discussed how farmers were being unfairly targeted by Obama's administration.  After reading all three of her articles, it does not appear that this is the voice of someone who wants to offer a fair and balanced story to the American public.  It appears to me that Giles is a conservative activist, and not an objective journalist.  This would be like getting your news from the various commercials that appear to be a newscast, but is just an advertisement.

Now who exactly is James O'Keefe?

It seems that James O'Keefe was the founder and editor-in-chief of the conservative collegiate magazine The Centurion at Rutgers, as well as Veritas Visuals, which according to the site consists of"Documentary Journalism pushing the boundaries of Contemporary Discourse Via Public Expose" and lists as activists on the website Saul Alinsky and Jesus Christ.  Also, as mentioned before, he was responsible for phoning Planned Parenthood locations pretending to be a rascist donor.  He had even written an article regarding his sting operation in the New Guard Magazine, where he states Planned Parenthood advocated black genocide.  In this article, he describes his actions as "mockery" in which the target loses if they agree with the journalist, and they also lose if they disagree, which he attributes to "legendary leftist activist" Saul Alinsky.  Regarding his sting, he stated that either "Planned Parenthood accepts donations from racists, or they must reject the view of their founder, Sanger, as racist", and either way, they come out behind.  O'Keefe also references Alinsky's strategies, in that one must do "whatever necessary to disrupt and annoy power structures, applying constant pressure and opposition".  Of his Planned Parenthood investigation, in which Lila Rose assisted in the sting, O'Keefe had said the following:
Leaders taking on power structures need to be raw, confident, fearless and impermeable. Lila received a letter threatening to prosecute the group for violating wiretapping laws, but it did not stop her from continuing the investigation. After the investigation aired nationally on Fox News, Planned Parenthood could no longer press charges, as Lila would appear the victim.
Although he had mentioned earlier in his article that they performed these investigations in states that allowed "one party consent", it seems as if he is encouraging the violation of laws to achieve a greater goal, which would be to disrupt certain "power structures", or in this case and the following instance with Giles, Planned Parenthood and ACORN, and we can see this situation playing out with the ACORN investigation, with Fox News pundits trying to paint O'Keefe and Giles as victims regardless that they violated recording statutes.  The most interesting, and scary, statement by O'Keefe in the article is this:
Most importantly, conservative activists need to be their own media, and use their independent media to obtain their goals.
We see this currently with conservative news programs, such as Glenn Beck, who uses limited sources for their reports, and then the story is repeated in what some refer to as the "echo chambers" of Fox News.  Consider Glenn Beck, who has consistently utilized Andrew Breitbart to help take down so-called liberal or subversive targets, such as Van Jones, Yosi Sergent (with reports from his site, and now ACORN (with reports from his website, which includes contributors Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe).

The news created by the conservative media made James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles appear to be a couple of neophyte journalists who theorized corruption in the ranks of a large non-profit corporation, and then conducted hidden camera investigations to uncover the truth, when in reality, they are conservative activists, who in their own words aim to be "their own media" in achieving their goals through any method available, even going as far as violating state laws to accomplish such.  Although the conduct by the ACORN employees may be questionable and worthy of a legitamite investigation, O'Keefe and Giles are far from credulous and have used the media to not only deceive the media, but to deceive Americans as well to achieve their own goals, regardless of who it may affects.  What makes this dangerous is what stops these two people, or people like them, from turning there sights on other organizations, corporations, or even governments, only to fulfill their desires?  What stops them from turning on the people they claim to be protecting?  Glenn Beck loves to encourage his viewers to "question with boldness" and "hold to the truth" and that is exactly what I am doing.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Commercials In The Mainstream

Watching Fox News, I notice there are an abundance of commercials against taxes or health care.  To me, it seems as if these advertisers are preaching to the choir.  I have not seen many of these commercials on network television, but you would think these advertisements would be seen more frequently on the so-called Communist News Network, or stations that conservatives perceive to harbor positive feelings towards Obama and the administration.

Also, I love that Fox News continues to refer to other networks as mainstream media.  Considering their ratings, I would think that they would be included in such "mainstream".  I guess everyone loves the underdog, otherwise Rocky would not have been such a great success to spawn an entire series.

Fox News: The Movie

I had noticed something the other day while watching Fox News... Glenn Beck resembles, in both action and appearance, Jiminy Glick, the fictional character portrayed by Martin Short from the series The Martin Short Show, and then subsequently Primetime Glick.

When watching Glenn Beck, I always visit this thought and it helps me digest what I am watching, and at times, I even imagine that I am really watching Glick, and it brings a smile to my face.  It had also got me thinking of Fox News: The Movie; I would wonder who would play the remaining Fox talking heads.

I would think that Sean Hannity could be played by Tony and Emmy award winning actor, Nathan Lane.  Lane could bring some dignity and sophistication to the role, and maybe a song and dance number as well.  I imagine Sean Hannity in those old Scope commercials and it just cracks me up.  I would think that his character would play more of a supporting role in the film, and for some reason I picture him to be like another Lane character: Albert Goldman from The Birdcage, which also starred Gene Hackman, which brings me to my next actor. 

Although the resemblance is not as great as the Beck/Glick and Hannity/Lane resemblances, but I think Academy award winning actor Gene Hackman could play an excellent Bill O'Reilly.  He could play a more fatherly role to the younger Beck, maybe offering a few heart to hearts, with arm wrapped around the shoulder, walking around the studio discussing how things work and showing Beck the ropes, only to later be eclipsed by Beck.  A also see a seen where Hackman's O'Reilly slaps a whiny Hannity.

All and all, I think this possible movie would be entertaining, and would be accompanied by the disclaimer: the following movie contains characters based on real people, but includes fictional reporting, much like their real life counterparts. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Apparently corruption is killing America, or so says Glenn Beck the sycophant.  On his program yesterday he showed a map of the United States where he highlighted the centers of corruption in America.

He starts his map with ACORN and SEIU, where he points to Wade and Dale Rathke and exclaims that they should be "villains in a James Bond movie".

Beck moves on to Chicago, where he asks what can possibly be corrupt in Chicago, where he displays a picture of former Governeor Blagojevich, William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, and Barack Obama.  He calls Chicago the "heart of corruption" and had even broken away for a second insinuating that the death of Christopher Kelly, who was indicted along with Blagojevich and died last week of an Aspirin overdose, was actually murdered and was being covered up, presumably by the former governor.

His next jump is to New York City, where he shows a picture of Senator Charles Rangel and Bernie Madoff.  He also mentions the Wather Underground, but Bernie Madoff?  Beck mentions that Obama had stated that we need to "redo the financial system" and then he points to Madoff.  What does this have to do with anything?  Nothing.  He is trying to establish an neural association between Obama and Madoff.

Next stop is San Fransisco where there is Nancy Pelosi and Van Jones.  He focuses on Jones for a bit and mentions STORM, and asks Democrats if that is who they are.  This is interesting.  He is now appealing to the Democrats.  I assume he knows that you can't win elections without support from the middle, and he already has the conservative base eating out of his hand, so now he needs the liberals to help him succeed.

This all leads to Washington, where Beck calls for a quarantine of Washington, where nothing goes in and nothing comes out.

Becks attacks seem to have increased in absurdity over the past few weeks, in which he seemed to stress a couple times in yesterdays programs that the Teachers Union has donated to ACORN.  Beck is now trying to intimidate the union, in hopes that they cease to give funds to ACORN.  What I think is interesting is that he is attempting to destroy this organization, going from the childish (insulting the founders), to entrapment (sponsoring young reporters to set up stings), to now bullying those who support or contribute to the group.  What if this was not a union, but a single person who had donated to ACORN?  Would Beck call for that person's life?

I also find it interesting that Blagojevich is seeping back into the conservative news.  Just the other day he was on Huckabee promoting his new book.  Blagojevich tried to say that he did nothing wrong, even drawing comparisons between himself and Huckabee.  Huckabee, in his talk show host mode, was calm and civil, avoiding any kind of accusations or attacks on the former governor, but he did ask something that I thought was interesting.  He asked about Tony Rezko and he had also asked Blagojevich if he would subpoena Rahm Emanuel, or even Brack Obama.  I thought that this question indicates something that we would see increasing in the conservative talk shows, especially Glenn Beck.  Bringing Blagojevich back into the equation, Beck could, and it seems he already is, is trying to make associations between the governor and the president.  I would not be surprised if he calls for the president to testify at the hearings for Blagojevich.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Environmental, Economical Clotheslines Violate Association Rules

I was reading an article recently on regarding a homeowner who was using a clothesline, raising issues involving the aesthetics of the community.  Luckily, Florida is one state that protects the use of clotheslines, overriding covenants and restrictions put in place by developers of neighborhoods.  To some, this classic method of drying one's clothes is an eyesore, but to others, it is a way to help make ends meet or just a small way to help positively impact the environment (instead of using an energy intensive dryer).

According to the article, some see state legislation involving clotheslines to be intrusive, with opponents believing that homeowner's associations are the official elected representation of the homeowners and they should dictate what goes on.  “They are the homeowner volunteers who have been elected by their neighbors to serve the best interests of the individual communities” said Frank Rathbun, spokesman for the Community Associations Institute, but can they really state that they are acting in the best interests of the homeowner?  No.  If you look at the quote, he states "communities".  this is a common problem with lobbyist groups such as the Community Associations Institute.  The CAI believes that they are the ones who know what homeowners want because they represent homeowners associations, which in turn represent homeowners, but in reality, the CAI exists to help fulfill the association's goals, regardless of what the homeowner's desire.

Supporters of association rules cite declining property values as a reason to prevent people from drying their clothes.  According to a real estate agent who comments in the article, clothes dried outside make a neighborhood look more like a "tenement".  The problem with that logic is that if clotheslines make a neighborhood look like a "tenement", then I am certain other things can too, atleast to some.  I am sure that if too many cars were seen driving around a neighborhood, it would be indicative of something negative, and therefore lower proeprty values, or you could look at this issue racially, and say that if too many black people buy a certain number of homes in the neighborhood, then property value would decrease because things may start to look like a "tenement".  I am certain someone could compile statistics to show data backing up such claims and prevent black people from moving into a neighborhood, on the basis that it protects existing homeowner's property investments, which I am certain has happened in the past.  Even doing a quick search online yielded a result here, at The Chicago Reporter.  Although this is an extreme argument using the logic over whether clotheslines should exist, it demonstrates the flawed ideology of the CAI.

According to Paul T. Carroccio in the article, "When people buy these … condos, they read these documents and they're assured the buildings are always going to look the way they're intended to look.”  But if you look at other neighborhoods, the interest in protecting the homeowner is not the case.  Some homeowners have purchased houses in certain neighborhoods because of the particular covenants in place, only to have the neighborhood try to create more restrictive covenants years later, all to protect the homeowner.  This is the case with Sand Lake Hills in Orlando, where the homeowner's association is trying to amend the covenants that have been in place for over 30 years, and have remained untouched until recently.  The association has gone as far as to try and amend surrounding subdivision's documents as well to create one large master association, but by doing so would try to change the conditions homeowners bought into, attempting to do so with a simple majority.

Even if you consider other arguments, like the environmental impact of clothes dryers, where according to U.s. Department of Energy, dryers used 5% of electricity used in homes.  Although the number is not greater, like 35% or 50%, it is still significant when considering all other electronics used in a home.  Helping protect clotheslines is part of a bigger picture, which includes things such as rain barrels or solar panels.  To place restrictions on one would hurt chances for the others, and why should there be restrictions on something, just because a select few believe it impacts their property values? 

This matter should not be left to interest groups like the CAI, or to homeowners associations, because such groups have been prone to act against the best interests of homeowners in the past.  Municipal governments have also been slow to act, such as in Florida, where I have been in contact with various local agencies, with most cases result in no response or an extremely delayed response.  To have state legislation would benefit homeowners, not the HOAs, and who do the state governments represent?  Allowing these associations and their lobbyists to have their restrictions is an attack on everybody's property rights.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Joe Wilson Explains His Actions, Asks For Campaign Cash (VIDEO)

I was not aware that there is no appropriate etiquette or parliamentary procedure in place in our nation's capital... or maybe I was unaware that Wilson had the floor.

He is painting himself as the victim, after he got the facts wrong, and now he is preying on the ignorant masses to pay for his election. I hope his outburst costs him greatly. I am not familiar with the political climate in South Carolina, or who Wilson's opponent is, but I would like to see this incumbent defeated.

His outburst was childish, and I would not like my representative to behave in the same way. Maybe this was Wilson's way of trying to get into the national light, so he can be featured on Hannity and Beck and O'Reilly as a champion for the people and another contender for 2012... considering all the other GOP presidential hopefuls have all dropped off the map after their marital indiscretions.

His apology wasn't sincere.  It was only a grab for attention, and it did the trick... it got him on the air for additional time to plea for cash.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Baucus, Conrad Cave To Joe Wilson On Health Care Bill

Sen. Snowe already said it, "We've always been there", in regards to limiting access to health care by illegal immigrants.  To revisit the issue because a senator from South Carolina doesn't believe it to be true, making an outburst regarding the provision, is just idiotic and changes focus.

Personally, I would think that any additional language to the legislation will probably cause more alarm by the right-wing, who would probably argue that any residency verification would add more of a "big brother" element to the bill. Since the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) ceased to exist in 2003, being absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services bureau would probably assume responsibility over handling health care related issues that arise regarding illegals, which would result in immigrants avoiding traditional health care, putting Americans in danger of various illnesses.

Although I do not know about this area, but I wonder if it is a possibility for immigrants to obtain health insurance in their native countries, to help defer medical costs.  Illegal immigrants earn money in America, but pay health care premiums in their native countries, only to have that money return to America in the event an immigrant gets sick, and considering premiums are generally a fraction of the cost of actual care, the possibilities are worthwhile.  I could imagine that there could also be associated fees involved with providing health care for illegal immigrants as well.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Beck's Distraction: ACORN, Prostitution, and The Right Wing Campaign

Last night I was watching Glenn Beck and I noticed he shifted gears to ACORN supporting prostitution.  I was intrigued and so I proceeded to watch.

He showed video secretly taken by a couple of young journalists in Baltimore pretending to be a pimp and his prostitute trying to get housing to set up shop, with the ACORN employee fully supporting them, and at times advising them around the law.  The two young journalists were James O'Keefe, a conservative activist, film maker, and columnist, Hannah Giles.  When I listened to how the program proceeded, the language used was very interesting.

I would first like to mention that this scenario is horrible, and that I would hope that this does become a legal investigation against the people involved, but I would also like to mention that this is not representative of the entire organization.  Some Catholic priests touched little boys, but not all Catholic priests are molesters.  Some Republicans have been involved in gay or marital scandals, but not all Republicans are homosexual or lecherous.  To say all ACORN workers are thugs is not representative of the entire population.  With Glenn Beck perpetuating the idea that ACORN is a government sanctioned mafia, with everybody within the organization as being corrupt, then I can use that logic to make claims that all Republicans are homosexuals who cheat on their wives, or that all priests molest little children, but I cannot make such comments because I know them to be false.

Back to the interview, I noticed a couple things.  First, on September 9th, Glenn Beck mentioned that Fox had an exclusive segment and that no other journalists were covering this story, and no other station was investigating or telling the truth, so Beck and the people at Fox were going to tell you the "truth as we know it".  I thought that was interesting: "the truth as we know it".  Although a seemingly innocuous comment, I thought it was intriguing.  It is like a license to say whatever you want because you believe it to be true.  On September 10th's program Glenn Beck discussed more about the prostitution scandal, and stated again that no other news program was showing the story he was about to air, and that the only ones who were giving the story the light of day was The National Review, The Wall Street Journal, and Fox News, the latter two being owned by News Corporation, headed by Rupert Murdoch.          

In addition to which news agencies were reporting this story, I thought it was interesting because of who the reporter, Hannah Giles, was.  She had mentioned that she was not familiar with ACORN, but she heard poor things about them (presumably from Fox), and decided to bait them to prove they are thugs.  At the end of the program, Beck said you can find this all on Big Government.  I decided to visit that site and saw that the website was presented by Andrew Breitbart.  That name rang a bell.  After thinking long and hard, I remember that Andrew Breitbart has another website, titled Big Hollywood, which also rang a bell.  The reason why was because this website was mentioned during Beck's program where he accused the National Endowment for the Arts of being a propaganda wing of the administration, citing exclusive information provided by filmmaker, marketer, and art community consultant Patrick Courrielche, who also happens to be an author for Big Hollywood..

What is interesting about Big Government is that it is brand new, debuting on September 10th, although video clips premiered on Glenn Beck's program on September 9th.  Glenn Beck is constantly lambasting liberal bloggers and the liberal media, but it seems that Beck is establishing his own right wing media circle to pull stories from, to try and legitimize his own program, in addition to the rotation of commentators on each others shows (O'Reilly, Hannity, Beck, Van Susteren, etc.).

Although I dislike accusations that Glenn Beck is contributing to a smear campaign against his foes, such as Van Jones, ACORN, and any other distraction from the real issues, only because it seems that that complaint can be quickly thrown to the wayside, it is increasingly looking as if he blends his facts with his fiction, to come up with a negative story against whomever he dislikes.  Someone affiliated with ACORN may have done something wrong, and the organization has had problems in the past, but not to the extent that Beck attributes to them, elevating them to something you would see in a Jimmy Hoffa movie.  Maybe other networks are not reporting on this because it was touched by the far from credible hand of Fox News first.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rep. Joe Wilson Yells Out "You Lie!" During Obama Health Care Speech (VIDEO)

Senator Wilson did not misspeak.

This can help Democrats with the passage of their legislation. Wilson's outburst shows the unwillingness of some Republicans to cooperate or even acknowledge the truth. Those Republicans who wish to distance themselves from the comment will find the easiest way to do so would be to work towards the common good, instead of shouting it down.

Wilson may have apologized, blaming his emotions, but it shows his true motive, which is powered by misinformation and will not be swayed, regardless of the facts. I would take his comment as proof that the senator either never read the proposed legislation, did not understand his legislation, or is being fueled by the right wing opposition, as heard on such programs found on Fox News.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Reporting Lies

It is easy to report lies.  There is considerably less research done and you get people to agree with you either way.  The best part is that lying cements their view in those who accept their word as truth. 

People who believe in "death panels" will not suddenly wake up and realize they do not exist.  People have faith in these claims, and like religion, require no evidence to support their beliefs.  Michael Steele said it best, when asked by Sean Hannity if the VA manual given to veterans in a hospital equates to being a death panel.  Steele's response was "in my view, it very well could be."  It may not be a death panel (because there is none), so his mind rationalizes the VA document as a substitute for the traditional definition of what a death panel may be.  For those who want to believe in a death panel, they will find some wording within the legislation, or if they cannot find it there, they will seek alternative sources until that void is filled.

There is a failure to recognize that these so-called death panels in the form of VA pamphlets were distributed during the Bush administration, and that to claim these to be death panels would establish the reality that it was a Republican administration that set up these panels.  Conservatives already have that argument worked out to aid the faithful in finding their death panels: liberals like to blame Bush for everything.  I don't blame Bush for these pamphlets, and I do not understand why there was such a controversy over these pamphlets, when the wording in question was removed prior to the Obama administration taking office.

Maybe Hannity and his friends can go find a children's book next, titled Daddy Wants To Die, which instructs children to pull the plug when their parents are ill.

Glenn Beck Warns Of People Like Hannity, Beck: Stay Away

Glenn Beck says in his book Common Sense in his section titled "Enemies Within: Tread Carefully":
Being honest about your principles means that there can be a real debate on the issues, with the chance of real progress being made.  It's not just the political class who has mastered the art of deception.  There are other potentially deadly masters who will seek to exploit your frustration and sense of desperation.  Many will warn you of government tyranny; they'll talk of secret societies, vast conspiracies, shadow governments, and the need for violent action.  I urge you to stay away from these individuals and those ideas.  There is no "star chamber" that needs to be found and destroyed, and there is no global conspiracy playing out.  The individuals and groups that propagate those lies have their own agendas, but, like all radicals and revolutionaries, they will eventually seek to impose their rules and lifestyle on all of us.
On Sean Hanniy's program, he can be seen discussing shadow governments, as seen here:

On Glenn Beck's program, he has constantly referred to Obama's administration being run by a shadow government consisting of czars.  Here is a clip:

To his defense, this clip is from June 9th, 2009, and his book was published June 16th, 2009, so maybe he did not have a chance to read his own words, or simply forgot what he wrote.  Should America believe anything that comes out of their mouths?  They speak of one thing only to preach another.  They warn of shadow governments only to promote the idea.  Essentially, Glenn Beck has written in his book that he cannot be trusted.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Palin Strikes Back

The reference to 'death panels" has made a return to The Wall Street Journal by none other then Sarah Palin.  She writes:
In an interview with the New York Times in April, the president suggested that such a group, working outside of 'normal political channels,' should guide decisions regarding that 'huge driver of cost . . . the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives . . . Given such statements, is it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats' proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by—dare I say it—death panels? Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans. Working through 'normal political channels,' they made themselves heard, and as a result Congress will likely reject a wrong-headed proposal to authorize end-of-life counseling in this cost-cutting context. But the fact remains that the Democrats' proposals would still empower unelected bureaucrats to make decisions affecting life or death health-care matters.
Why are the sick and elderly concerned?  Is it because Palin misinterpreted the legislation and decided to scare her followers with the term "death panel", which of course was picked up by the media because she was a top ticket candidate last year, not to mention all the inane comments made during the campaign trail leaves much to be ridiculed from the now former governor of Alaska.  She also mentions "normal political channels", which I assume she is referencing town halls, but these town halls had digressed into a forum for the misinformed, who believed in such "death panels" and government rationing that Palin wants you to believe. 

Maybe if she used her journalism degree and researched what exactly the president mentioned instead of misquoting him and then making grand misinterpretations that eventually materialized in her brain as "death panels", then maybe Americans wouldn't be scared, and then maybe we would see rational, informed people using these "normal political channels" to express concern.  Instead we havea  nation of Sarah Palins blubbering about death panels and government rationing, and fearing the government is going to take away their rights... but just as long as they leave their Medicare alone.

Rove, Gregg Flip Flop On Reconciliation

Prominent members of the GOP have opposed the use of reconciliation to pass any health care reform, dismissing it as nothing more then a parliamentary trick.  If anyone has learned from Glenn Beck, you can go back in time and find audio clips, books, interviews, etc. where you can find a person stating otherwise.  Karl Rove, top Republican strategist who has been very vocal against the Democrats and is a staple on Fox News is one of them.  Senator Judd Gregg, senior Republican on the Budget Committee, is another.

Senator Gregg has told Fox News the following:
When you are taking the entire health system of the United States, restructuring it, changing it fundamentally, moving it to the left significantly, basically nationalizing it for all intents and purposes ... without any opportunity for changes on the floor of the Senate, well, you might as well not have a Senate. You might as well just have a House of Representatives. It totally undermines the purposes of the two branches of government
 This is contrary to what the senator had said back in 2005 when the Republicans tried to use such a "parliamentary trick" to allow for oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.  Gregg's response was "The president asked for it, and we're trying to do what the president asked for."  President Bush's tax cuts were also passed using reconciliation, but Gregg defended those stating "It has always been on issues on policies which already exist -- adjusting tax laws, adjusting tax rates, affecting this program that already exists or that program."

Karl Rove stated in his September 3rd Wall Street Journal column:
Given the Democratic congressional margins, Mr. Obama has the votes to [pass health care reform legislation], but at huge costs to him and his party. Legislation that looks anything like the bill moving through the House will contain deeply unpopular provisions -- including massive deficit spending, tax hikes and Medicare cuts -- and create enormous ill will on Capitol Hill. This will be especially true if Democrats rely on parliamentary tricks to pass a bill in the Senate with 51 votes. The public's reaction in August showed that the president is creating the conditions for a revolt against his party in the 2010 elections.
Back in March of 2001, Rove had stated otherwise, when on Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields, he was asked by Al Hunt whether the tax cut bill can pass in the Senate on its own, or would it need to become part of the budget package to pass.  Rove's response:
Well, the Senate operates on a different calendar than the House, and we don't anticipate that the tax cut will be taken up and considered until much later in the spring. And exactly what forms it takes, whether it's a stand-alone bill or passes as part of the budget process, that's up to the Senate to decide. But we're confident that it will receive the necessary votes to pass the Senate.
He had even suggested at using such procedure to repeal the estate tax in 2001 and at additional tax cuts in 2003.
[W]ith moderate Democrats -- and even some Republicans -- who provided the margin of victory for Bush's 2001 tax cut now openly questioning provisions of the [economic] growth package, reconciliation may offer Bush the only chance to get the bill through the Senate.  
No matter what party, you will always have the argument that the times your party tried to use a certain procedure or adopted a particular view, it was different.

The Republicans argue that the Bush tax cuts were budgetary in nature, but the Republicans (all the way to the top with President Bush) supported such measures for a non budgetary item.  Republicans like to point out that it was not passed, but it does not erase the fact that they attempted to proceed.

Democrats can also argue that restructuring of health care is budgetary in nature.  The proposed system, changes to medicare, and anything that amends what essentially involves 15% of the gross domestic product can be viewed as an item that can fall under rules for reconciliation.

Either way you see it, I think conservatives need to find a new argument against using reconciliation, and as for Democrats, maybe a little more compromise.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The GOP State: The New Sodom and Gomorrah

I have been listening to Fox News this morning while cooking my lunch.  I have found it interesting because of how they are discussing President Obama and his future speech.  Much like the "indoctrination" belief held by commentators prior to Obama's politically benign speech to school children, the commentators are discussing the what ifs of the speech that has not yet been spoke, and are then speculating on those scenarios.  The further they get into the discussion, the further they remove themselves from fact and closer to situation that positions themselves as America's saviors.

The discussion started off about health care reform, moved to Obama's speech to a joint session of the House and the Senate, and has switched to Obama supposedly telling people that his politics are morally correct, making everyone else's beliefs wrong, and in essence morally corrupt.  The discussion ends with the mention of a statistic that the elderly do not support this reform and that that particular demographic will wind up with legislation that they do not like.

What is wrong with this?

Watching the end of the program, one would believe Obama had made a claim that Americans should support his legislation because it is sanctioned by God, and that the elderly, one of the largest voting blocs, are losing out.  Who is this message tailored to?  In my opinion, it seems as if it is targeting the Republican base, proposing a possible attack on religion, and it is targeting the elderly, who are much more reliable voters then the youth, and can be easy to scare, with rumors of threatening their already government paid for health care.  If you saw the beginning of the discussion, you would discover that Obama had not said any of these things, but that does not matter, because those with short term memory (or selective memory) or who are not paying attention to the television will have no recollection of, but what they will remember is what effects them, and that is what will hook them into the program, and the belief against anything Obama.

Flipping through the channels, I had also come across a program discussing the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  The bible stories had me thinking about the current health care debate, and this possible affront to people's religion, but mostly to the Christian faith (considering the conservative attack on Islam last election due to rumors Obama was Muslim).

In the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah, the two cities were destroyed by God, with some associating their destruction with sexual deviance, hence the word "sodomy", but original focus on their destruction was more closely associated with their lack of hospitality, as well as economic crimes, blasphemy, and bloodshed.  I would like to focus on the economic crimes and why this relates to why this came to mind when I was watching Fox News discuss health care.

The Sodomites valued property and money.
Now this was the sin of Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.
Ezekial 16:49-50
For this, among other things, they were destroyed.  Conservatives support a free market system, and oppose government regulation.  The common opinion is that free enterprise will cure all woes, and in some instances, it can, but given a fully deregulated economy, the free market tends to go for the cheap fix.  We are far removed from the days of child labor and atrocious work settings, but now the fight has advanced to the health care debate.  Why is it that American's work harder and longer then France, but have a worse and more expensive health care system?  Could it be because of greed, and are we returning to the world of Gordon Gekko, from Oliver Stone's Wall Street?  I find it a contradiction for those who follow the teachings of the bible to oppose health reform, but then again, people have waged war in the name of religion, and have justified their cause, but this is far from taking the life of another human.

My analysis is extremely simplified, but the principles carry on to larger fields.  What are the opinions of the churches and various religious organizations?  What does the papacy think?  Billy Graham?  Benny Hinn?

Indoctrination Of Children Left Behind

In case you were wondering, you can read the president's speech to America's school children here, but for convenience, I will post it on this site as well, so one could comprehend the false reporting about any indoctrination that may occur:

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event

Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009
The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today. 
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.   
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year. 
Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn. 
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox. 
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve. 
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. 
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. 
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide. 
Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future. 
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy. 
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country. 
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in. 
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse. 
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right. 
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying. 
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future. 
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America. 
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall. 
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same. 
That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it. 
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things. 
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK.  Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." 
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying. 
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in. 
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals. 
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best. 
It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?  
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.