Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why The Republican's Are Obstructionist (A Brief Opinion)

I wanted to write something in regards to something else on another website that had me thinking.  A commenter, in response to something I had written, asked how the Republican party was being obstructionist if they are a superminority in both houses of Congress, and that I, as well as other Democrats, should stop "whining" about the "powerless oposition."

First, I would like to point out that I am not a Democrat, but am a Republican, as I have been for over the past 10 years.  The reason why I believe the powerless Republican party to be obstructionist is mainly because of their desire for bipartisanship, but at the same time refuse to participate on any type of legislation with the Democrats, primarily health care reform.  While Democrats had held large "super"-majorities in both houses, there was a call for working across the aisle by President Obama, in an attempt to operate outside the Washington norm.  While the Democrats presented a bill, the Republicans refused to offer a counterpoint, and instead, they attacked the legislation as not being bipartisan, when they had prevented the legislation from ever getting that far.  Conservatives had then attacked Congressional policy, building up a belief in America that Democrats required a "super-majority" to pass any legislation, and in order to do so, would need either every Democratic senator to vote on the bill or to get other parties to consent, but the Republicans had also solidified their ranks in opposing any legislation.  Therefore, this "powerless oposition" successfully convinced the media and the public to believe that Democrats needed the sixty votes, and now with Scott Brown in office, the Republicans believe they have the power to filibuster, which would then obstruct the continuance of the legislative process, which I would safely assume they would try to prolong until midterm elections, so that Republicans may be able to gain seats in both chambers.  The Republicans have also attacked use of the procedure known as reconciliation, as a tool to get around the super-majority "requirement," and in essence bypassing the bipartisanship the GOP loves to simultaneously desire and avoid at all costs.

Frank Gaffney Issues Correction Regarding Missile Defense Agency Logo, But Not For Smear Against Islam

From a February 27th post on Big Government, author Frank Gaffney issued a correction for an earlier article he wrote (which appears to have been removed from Big Government's website), in which he insisted that the redesigned logo for the Missile Defense Agency was proof that the Obama administration was moving towards Shariah law and that the administration was submitting to Islamic pressures. In today's article, Gaffney wrote the following:
In a post here Wednesday, under the headline “Can This Possibly Be True?,” I called attention to a “new” logo being used by the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) on the grounds that it bore a disconcerting resemblance to an amalgamation of the Obama campaign’s logo and the symbols of Islam, the crescent and a single star. It turns out the answer is “no,” it isn’t true that the MDA’s logo is exactly new or, apparently, that it reflects an Obama-directed redesign.

We have since learned that the logo has been used at the MDA website since at least October 2009. Matters are made more confusing by the fact that the agency continues to use its older shield-like logo for online and other purposes. The contract for a complete rebranding for MDA was let in 2007, during the Bush administration, although much of the work appears to have been done in 2008 in follow-on contracts during the presidential campaign in which the Obama logo was much in evidence.

It has also been observed that – rather than embracing the symbolic crescent and star, they could be interpreted as the targets of the intercepting swoosh in the MDA’s latest logo. If so, the 2009 design would presumably be offensive to Islamists, rather than evidence of submission to them.

For these reasons, I am content to have the question posed in the last post be answered in the negative, and I regret any confusion caused by my suggesting otherwise. The other criticisms I leveled at the Obama administration in connection with its serial and indisputable assaults on the Pentagon’s missile defense programs and capabilities – which the Missile Defense Agency is responsible for building – stand. Here’s an example:

Visit the Missile Defense Agency website for this extraordinary video of the successful February 11, 2010 Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) firing of a High Energy Laser, destroying a threat-representative ballistic missile. It’s a real-life example of what the old MDA logo – and okay, yes, the new MDA logo – represent in our missile defense systems: in this case, our nation’s only program capable of providing a near-term ability to intercept ballistic missiles early in their flight (i.e., the boost-phase).

Yet in the proposed 2011 budget, the Airborne Laser Testbed will never see production. As SpaceNews reports, “The MDA at one time had plans to field operational versions of the ABL for boost-phase missile defense, but the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has scaled back the program. Plans now call for using the experimental ABL platform as a test bed for research on directed energy weapons.”

After years of effort, the MDA achieved a breakthrough success two weeks ago. The administration should reverse their plans to defund the Airborne Laser Testbed. Build on success – don’t punish it.
What I find interesting is that he does not discuss his anti-Islamic sentiments, and that Gaffney only concedes that he was incorrect about the facts regarding the logo and nothing more, so one could expect further hateful messages to appear in later articles. Another thing I found interesting was the vast number of comments that don't seem to care about the correction, and continue to insist that Obama is a Muslim or that Obama is still connected with the redesign, as one commenter asked who was the firm that handled both the MDA'a and the Obama campaign's logo design. One person wrote "Why do they have this logo? Why not something with our flag, maybe with a missle..or something. What's next the Hammer & Sickle? Give me a break," while another went on to go as far as to write "all hail the '12th Imam Mahdi' the savior and destroyer of all mankind..."

It seems that although Gaffney wrote a correction, his work was done. The lie is now out there and it will not make a difference to the most die hard conservative fringe.  I also thought it was interesting that the original article seems to have dissappeared from Big Government's website.  I would think good journalistic practices would have involved keeping the original article up, but then again, good journalistic practices would have also involved Gaffney to fact check and research before ever righting his article to begin with, which seems to only have been inspired by his hatred for President Barack Obama and Islam.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Huffington Post Outlines GOP's Reasons Against Democratic Health Reform

From the Huffington Post on February 24th, regarding Republican's reasons not to work with Democrats on a health care compromise:
1. Democrats aren't willing to start from scratch
"Tomorrow, the White House will convene a so-called 'summit' on health care reform. It's supposedly an effort to find bipartisan agreement and consensus on reform," said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.). "And frankly, if the administration and Democrats in Congress were actually willing to scrap the bill and start over with a clean sheet of paper, I'd be all for it."

"It's not a matter of taking this or that out of the Senate-passed bill or the House-passed bill, it's a matter of starting with basic principles and going one step at a time, solving particular problems," said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)

2. President Obama actually introduced a bill -- a criticism related to the one above, but more focused on the idea that Democrats are still very much engaged in back-room shenanigans.
"The President has crippled the credibility of this week's summit by proposing the same massive government takeover of health care based on a partisan bill the American people have already rejected," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) declared. "This new Democrats-only backroom deal doubles down on the same failed approach that will drive up premiums, destroy jobs, raise taxes, and slash Medicare benefits."

3. The bill Obama introduced is too short.
"The White House's 'plan' consists of an 11-page outline, which has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office or posted online as legislative text," said Boehner's spokesperson, Michael Steel. "So they want to reorganize one-sixth of the United States' economy with a document shorter than a comic book, and they're complaining that they can't find our plan on their own website? C'mon,"

4. The summit is superficial and designed to make Republicans look bad.
"It's a trap, a sandbag and a farce," said Curt Smith, a speechwriter for former president George H.W. Bush. "This meeting is tailor-made to present Obama at his rhetorical best and Republicans at their inarticulate worst... Health care was RIP and Republicans have given it CPR."

5. No governors were invited to the summit -- making it too D.C.-centric.
"WH has advised Boehner only Members of Congress may participate in #hc summit," tweeted Boehner. "No governors. Apparently Washington knows best."

6. No state legislators were invited to the summit (see above for explanation).
"Leader Boehner is disappointed the White House has not listened to the American people, who want Washington Democrats to scrap their job-killing health care bill and start over, and he is disappointed the White House has excluded our nation's governors and state legislators from the summit," said Steel.

7. The summit is taxpayer-funded -- which makes it a waste of money.
"Instead of starting over, Democrats in Congress continue to threaten to abuse the very rules of this institution by passing some version of their health care reform bill by a simple majority in the Senate, known as reconciliation," said Pence. "You know, tomorrow's summit is looking more and more like a taxpayer-funded media event designed to set up passage of ObamaCare 2.0, and the American people deserve to know it."
Expectation-setting is inherently a part of any major political event. The White House, likewise, has downplayed expectations that this summit is somehow a do-or-die moment for getting health care legislation passed. But the intensity with which the GOP is spinning Thursday's meeting before it happens is something usually seen before a presidential debate. And the rhetorical flourishes seem likely to get only grander once the summit ends.
Of course the GOP was going to have something negative to say about the health care summit, but the most interesting complaint I had seen was number three, which stated that Obama's proposal was "too short," when just last year, conservative representatives and media attacked the health care reform bill for being too big! Media Matters also had an interesting post regarding the contradictory nature of GOP rhetoric.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Newest Right-Wing Islam Smear

The anti-Islamic, right-wing, Christian fundamentalists over at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government are at it again with their Obama conspiracy theories and the attack on supposed American-Christian values.  In an article by Frank Gaffney, Gaffney first starts off discussing the ballistic missile policies of the Obama administration but then turns into a short rant against Islam, pointing out a new design for the Missile Defense Agency's logo, in which the right-wing delusional Gaffney seems to believe the new logo features a "crescent" and that it seems to "fit an increasingly obvious and worrying pattern of official U.S. submission to Islam and the theo-political-legal program the latter’s authorities call Shariah." Really?

I cannot understand how Gaffney comes up with the conclusion that a redesigned logo is proof that the United States is on the path to Shariah law. Even looking at the redesigned logo, I see what the right-wing claims to be an Islamic crescent, but I do not draw the same conclusion that Gaffney does.  Maybe he is upset because the logo changed for the Reagan-era agency, but there appears to be no change in function.  According to their "About Us" page, the agency's purpose is as follows:
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is a research, development, and acquisition agency within the Department of Defense. Our workforce includes government civilians, military service members, and contractor personnel in multiple locations across the United States. We are focused on retaining and recruiting a dedicated workforce interested in supporting our national security.

As we develop, test, and field an integrated Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), the MDA works closely with the Combatant Commanders (e.g. Pacific Command, Northern Command, etc.) who will rely on the system to protect the United States, our forward deployed forces, and our friends and allies from hostile ballistic missile attack. We work with the Combatant Commanders to ensure that we develop a robust BMDS technology and development program to address the challenges of an evolving threat. We are also steadily increasing our international cooperation by supporting mutual security interests in missile defense.

The MDA is committed to maximizing the mission assurance and cost effectiveness of our management and operations through continuous process improvement.

The only question I have is "why the change," although I do enjoy seeing such stupid criticisms such as Gaffney's, for they only aid in illustrating the hatred and ignorance of the right-wing.

Recent History Of Reconciliation For Health Care

Ever since Democrats considered reforming health care, Republicans and conservatives quickly made America think that Democrats would need a super-majority to pass any legislation and labeled a process known as reconciliation as the "nuclear option," in which they railed against it's potential use as undemocratic and wrong, despite it's use in the past by not only Republicans, but also for health care related legislation. I have seen reports of bills that used the process that Republicans supported and those bills were not met with such animosity. Some reconciliation bills that were passed during Republican majorities in congress between 1994 and 2006 included the following:
* Balanced Budget Act of 1995, H.R. 2491 (vetoed December 6, 1995)
* Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, Pub.L. 104-193 (1996)
* Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Pub.L. 105-33 (1997)
* Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, Pub.L. 105-34 (1997)
* Taxpayer Refund and Relief Act of 1999, H.R. 2488 (vetoed September 23, 1999)
* Marriage Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000, H.R. 4810 (vetoed August 5, 2000)
* Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA), Pub.L. 107-16 (2001)
* Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, Pub.L. 108-27 (2003)
* Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Pub.L. 109-171 (2006)
* Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 (TIPRA), Pub.L. 109-222 (2006)
NPR's Morning Edition had pointed out today a thirty year history of reconciliation bills that had made major changes to health care, 3 of which were conducted during the Republican majorities in Congress.  This raises the question as to why Republicans are dead set to oppose any bill.  If you recall last year, they were against any bill that would have garnered all sixty Democratic votes because it would not be bipartisan enough, and then the Republicans solidified as a party, determined to say no.  Once Senator Kennedy passed away, Republicans then focused against the possibility of using reconciliation to pass legislation, claiming it to be undemocratic, even though it would still require a majority of votes in the Senate to pass.  In my opinion, it appears that the Republicans are dragging their feet, hoping to delay passage of any bill until after the midterm elections because it is believed Republicans may pick up a couple seats, in which they would have more leverage and political capital.  Republicans have no interest in working with Democrats to compose a bill.  Republicans are only interested in bcoming the majority party once again and passing their bill.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Conservatives Hail Olympic Power Of Capitalism, So What Was Wrong With Chicago Again?

In an article on Big Government, regarding the winter Olympics, I thought there was something very interesting in the wording. From Zach Lahn's article:
One of the few opportunities Americans have to witness and participate in true national unity happens every two years during the Olympic Games. Spurred on by the tradition and spirit of the games, Americans come together to root for their favorite athlete or event, setting aside, almost wholly, entrenched political views to witness the raw power of…Capitalism.

In actuality, the setting aside of political views for the Olympics is done by only one side of the political spectrum, the Left. This is common with a polarized political system, for true political unity one side, more often than not, is forced to cave. What many liberals fail or refuse to recognize however is that they are caving to conservative principles daily and the Olympics helps to unveil the true liberal love affair with capitalism.

At the heart and soul of both the Olympic Games and the free markets you will find the same driving force, competition.

Love watching the Olympics? Thank Capitalism. Competition and the desire to better one’s own life has brought about the motivation and innovation needed to produce nearly all of the devices we use to view the Olympics. With something as simple as pushing the power button on a flat screen TV, liberals are confessing to the pure success of the capitalistic system. Whether listening on XM radio, streaming live on a computer, receiving a TV signal via satellite, updating medal totals on a mobile phone, or watching in person, the means of viewing is courtesy of the fruits of capitalism.

For conservatives, this is not out of the ordinary; after all it’s the conservative ideology’s support and advocacy of economic freedom that has brought the Olympic Games into our homes and made them more competitive. We understand how the system works, and we understand that the luxuries we enjoy have a price tag attached.

For liberals the story is much different, primarily due to the fact that by definition liberalism, or progressivism, at its core advocates for systematic diminishment of our capitalistic economic system. For this reason liberals should be staunchly opposed to the Olympics. However, this fact is not recognized by the average Democrat voter. They do not realize that many of their leaders are looking to forcefully change the way they are allowed to live their lives, and cause the luxuries they enjoy to be more difficult to obtain.

Remember, it is liberals who are continually designing science void, emissions and carbon regulations which make traveling to the Olympics drastically more expensive.
It’s liberals who are constantly pushing to raise business tax rates, which leads to a decrease in the same innovation and productivity which was necessary to bring us the HDTVs, laptop computers, cell phones, and training technologies that make our viewing and enjoyment possible. It’s liberals who see competition in general as the steamroller to the droves of victims whose dependence they sponsor through entitlement programs.
Apparently, the Olympics are a conservative invention, and the support of liberals for the Olympics is the surrendering of progressive principles for conservatism. If that is the case, then why were conservatives so upset with allowing one of capitalism's greatest events come to the States to be held in the windy city, Chicago? By Lahn's own admission, conservatives politicized the Olympics, while liberals apparently "caved" to market pressures - their desire for sports and technology and technology to view their sports was the straw that broke the camel's back, but I see a more significant message in Lahn's article. Conservative's hate for liberals trumps their lust for capitalism. While he claims conservatism has yielded pretty much every great technological breakthrough, as well as the spirit of competition, it is also the same ideology that chooses to override national pride, as well as the potential to bring economic revitalization to the United States.

Am I overstating the impact of the Olympics? According to Lahn and the conservative example, I am not. Considering Chicago's unemployment rate topped 10% and conservatives do not believe the economy is improving anytime soon, it would make sense to bring the Olympics home to boost the local economy. I just figured I'd point that one out to the capitalists over at Big Government.

Tea Party Planks Aim To Reshape GOP

On numerous websites and blogs, I had noticed a lot of mention regarding the four planks of the tea party movement. I had even found a post on Free Republic asking what readers believed should be the four planks of the Republican party. According to the author of the article, dagogo redux, tension "between the Tea Party movement and the Progessive/statist RINOs" are a detriment to the conservative movement, presumably because the GOP is inhabited by people too liberal to call themselves conservative, and so the only solution would be to change the GOP from within (much like the teabaggers like Glenn Beck claim the communists, Marxists, and socialists have been doing to the Democratic party for over a century).

From what I gather, taking the numerous posts around, the four planks of the Tea Party movement are fiscal responsibility, constitutionality, national security, and limited government. To be true to one's conservatism, one must abide by these four rules, but I laugh at the thought, mainly because the Tea Party claims that these are essential but they show no evidence in adhering to them, so as far as I am concerned, these four planks are nothing but lip service from the right-wing elite to their base, who follow blindly.

Considering fiscal responsibility, the Tea Party claim the Democrats offer no self control and will spend the nation out of existence, but these same people are willing to represent the federal government when spending federal money - just consider the ribbon cutting ceremonies these conservatives attend or Richard Shelby's extortion of Congress to get projects for his state. In my opinion, from what I have read and studied, the Democrats are the only ones who have offered comprehensive plans for financial solvency while Republicans and teabaggers have consistently railed against any policy.

When considering constitutionality, it appears that conservatives wish to corrupt the constitution with their views of religion and moral code. While the liberals want to apply our enlightened constitution broadly, conservatives wish to limit the rights of man. The constitution was created to "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." Conservatives seem to attack Democrats while they ignore the very thing they claim they wish to protect. What does it mean to "insure domestic Tranquility," "promote general welfare," or to "secure the Blessings of Liberty?" Would universal health care fall under jurisdiction of the federal government? I believe so. Would the guarantee of rights for homosexuals also fall under the constitution? I believe so. It seems the conservatives want to limit freedoms because they are not explicitly mentioned in the constitution.

Thinking of national security, I am drawn to the comments made by Colin Powell regarding statements made by Dick Cheney. National security is not "much less safer" as conservatives would like you to believe, and considering their other plank of fiscal responsibility, I don't believe the creation of two wars of limitless funding in the name of national security would fall under the other tenant.

It is also funny that conservatives want a limited federal government, with a preference for stronger state governments, but I believe that has been tried out in the past and it did not work. I also find it funny that conservatives claim to want a limited government, but then argue that the federal government should protect the sanctity of life and the family, using the federal government to deny homosexuals rights, even going as far as wanting to amend the constitution to define marriage. I guess it is easy to claim you want a limited government while also claiming constitutionality by simply changing the constitution to fit your agenda.

The Tea Party movement does not wish to rewrite the Republican platform. Essentially, they aim to rewrite America in their image.

Monday, February 22, 2010

McCain Backtracks Record Yet Again, Points Fingers

It appears as if John McCain is quickly losing his maverick status as he tries to re-brand himself as the ideal conservative candidate against former Representative J.D. Hayworth. Previously, McCain had changed his opinion regarding "don't ask don't tell," in which he now holds the position that changing the policy at this point in time would be strategically disadvantageous. Now McCain is positioning himself farther away from the stimulus bill that he once was a proponent of. In an interview with The Arizona Republic, McCain stated that he was tricked into supporting the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, putting his campaign on hold at the request of President George W. Bush to participate in a bipartisan committee on the catastrophic economic conditions, but McCain, choosing his words wisely and walking the fence, did not admit that TARP was a mistake, rather that it was the incorrect action to take at the time, which he now knows.

"Something had to be done because the world's financial system was on the verge of collapse," he said. "Any economist, liberal or conservative, would agree with that. The action they took, I don't agree with."

It appears Senator McCain's backtracking is a result of raised concerns from opponent Hayworth, connecting McCain, a supposed fiscal conservative to the Obama administration's spending, which the Tea Party candidate is opposed. As McCain recalls the series of events, President Bush requested McCain to come back and hammer out a deal. "I don't know of any American, when the president of the United States calls you and tells you something like that, who wouldn't respond," McCain said. "And I came back and tried to sit down and work with Republicans and say, 'What can we do?'" Hayworth points out that McCain's suspension of his campaign was "impulsive," "risky," and "dangerous" and that when McCain arrived in Washington, he contributed very little, despite setting up the meeting.

Hayworth is not the only one who had mentioned things differently from McCain's recollection. As Think Progress has pointed out, the authors of the book Game Change, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, wrote that McCain had set up the meeting, not the other way around.
McCain set off back to the Hilton. In the car he called Bush and informed him of his decision, and asked if the president would host a meeting at the White House for him, Obama, and congressional leaders to discuss the bailout bill. Bush feared such a meeting would inject a destabilizing does of politics into a fragile situation. He told McCain that his intercession would undercut Paulson and wasn’t likely to help solve the problem. After hanging up, Bush instructed his aides, [f]ind out what’s going on here. But before they had a chance, McCain was on TV, standing at a lectern at the Hilton, announcing the suspension and calling on Bush to convene a conclave.
It was only after McCain's television appearance did President Bush decide to host the event, but as President Bush correctly predicted, the meeting was unproductive. Fast forward over a year, when McCain is up for reelection and with his actions under scrutiny, you start to have the finger pointing commence. McCain voted against Fed chairman Bernanke's confirmation and now he points to the former president, who has been particularly quiet since the months he has left office. It looks like it might just be that time for McCain to retire to one of his six or seven homes to settle down in.

Universal Health Care For Palin Brood, Not For America

It seems Sarah Palin has done it again.  Just when you think she could not be any more hypocritical, she just does it again.  From "death panels" and government spending to "retards," Sarah Palin has opinion on everything, and it always seems to contradict something else she had said or supported.  This time, it is in regards to "death panels" and universal health care.

In a short article on the Huffington Post, it has been disclosed that Sarah Palin's grandson, Tripp Palin Johnston, receives free federal health care through Indian Health Services and the Alaska Native Medical Center because Tripp is an enrolled tribal member of the Curyung Tribal Council. It is also interesting to note that Todd Palin, Sarah Palin's husband, also has Native Alaskan heritage, which by my understanding would qualify their children to receive free federal health care through IHS.

This raises the question - How come federal health care is good enough for the Palin family but not for the rest of America? I am sure Palin proponents will just attack this most recent discovery as just complaints from a bunch of people who hate the former vice presidential candidate, or maybe a spin saying those attacking Palin are attacking the Native American community, but the truth of the matter is Tripp can receive free health care because of his heritage but other Americans cannot, and because it would be unfathomable to believe Palin would want any harm to come to her grandchild, then it is safe to come to the conclusion that she is a hypocrite. While she is enjoying the benefits of this program, she wishes to deny others.

Refreshing To Hear Republicans, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Colin Powell, Speak Truth

From the Huffington Post:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) accused his Republican colleagues in Washington on Sunday of blatant hypocrisy on the stimulus package -- railing against the jobs bill in public while posing for stimulus-related projects and ceremonies in their home districts.

Appearing on ABC's This Week, the moderate Republican frequent GOP scourge pointed to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in particular for arguing this past week that the stimulus bill hadn't produced a single "net" job gain.

"I find it interesting that you have a lot of the Republicans running around, and pushing back on the stimulus money and saying, 'This doesn't create any new job,'" said Schwarzenegger. "And then they go out and do the photo ops, posing with the big check and they say: 'Isn't this great, look at the kind of money I've provided for the state and this is money to create jobs, and this has created 10,000 new jobs, this has created 20,000 news jobs, and all those kinds of things.' It doesn't match up."

It's hypocrisy, said host Terry Moran. "Exactly," Schwarzenegger replied.

"I don't want to beat up on my Republican colleagues but I think it is kind of politics rather than thinking about one thing, and this is: 'How do we support the president? How do we support him and everything we can in order to go and stimulate the economy back and think about the people and not the politics?'

"Anyone that says this hasn't created a job, they should talk to the 150,000 people getting jobs in California," he added, "from the private sector and also from the public sector."

Romney, it should be noted, has already been slapped on the wrist once for the stimulus-related statement he made during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. The Associated Press fact-checked the speech and found his "assertions lacked context at best and at worst were flat-out wrong."
I had found Arnold Schwarzenegger to be refreshing, unlike his colleagues who continually perpetuate conservative hypocrisy for the purpose of obstructing the administration on domestic policies. I had also found Colin Powell's statements from CBS' "Face The Nation", regarding Dick Cheney to be refreshing too:
"The point is made, 'We don't waterboard anymore or use extreme interrogation techniques.' Most of those extreme interrogation techniques and waterboarding were done away with in the Bush administration," Powell said. "They've been made officially done away with in this current administration."

"The Transportation Security Administration created by George Bush is still in action working in our airports; they take care of me every day that I go to an airport," Powell told moderator Bob Schieffer.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was also created under President Bush, "and it is still under President Obama working hard," he said. "Our counterterrorism authorities and forces are hard at work. Our law enforcement officials are hard at work. We have gone after the enemy in Afghanistan with 50,000 more troops, more predators are striking al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in Pakistan. We have continued the policies that President Bush put in place with respect to Iraq.

"The bottom line answer is the nation is still at risk. Terrorists are out there. They're trying to get through. But to suggest that somehow we have become much less safer because of the actions of the administration, I don't think that's borne out by the facts,"
Looking at comments on regarding Arnold Shwarzenegger, I thought it was interesting that a majority of the comments called the governor a "RINO" and a "socialist," claiming that he had no right to speak about the Republicans or the Tea Party Movement. I see that many comments also liked to point out that Schwarzenegger is married to a Kennedy - Maria Shriver. I find these comments to be scary, because these people have no bearings on reality, and are only upset because someone who is more knowledgeable of the situations at hand spoke out against their lies.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bush Official Criticizes Obama For Killing Too Many Terrorists

"When we do not have an effective detention policy the only option we have is to kill them before we can detain them," said Viet Dinh, a lawyer from the Bush administration's Department of Justice. Dinh argued at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday that the high number of terrorist deaths is damaging U.S. intelligence operations.

This is interesting. He is upset with the Obama administration killing terrorists, presumably because we do not have an effective detention policy, and so we are losing intelligence opportunities because we must kill instead of capture terrorists

Not to point fingers at past administrations but isn't the detention policy a remnant of the Bush administration? Have not the conservatives been very vocal against changing our detention policies? Have not the conservatives shown a desire in the past to eliminate future threats to America by eliminating terrorists? Have not past intelligence gathering techniques such as waterboarding under the Bush administration yielded questionable results?

This is just another prime example of conservative opposition to whatever position or action the current administration seems to take or has done...

'Family Guy' Actress Responds To Sarah Palin's Criticism

I had found this particular piece on the Huffington Post interesting because it is in regards to the Sarah Palin-Family Guy controversy, in which Sarah Palin blasted the show for being insensitive to people with disabilities because the cartoon portrayed a character with Down's Syndrome stating that her mother was the former governor of Alaska. It just so happens that the voice actress Andrea Fay Friedman, who played the role of Ellen, had something to say about the former governor of Alaska's remarks:
My name is Andrea Fay Friedman. I was born with Down syndrome. I played the role of Ellen on the "Extra Large Medium" episode of Family Guy that was broadcast on Valentine's day. Although they gave me red hair on the show, I am really a blonde. I also wore a red wig for my role in " Smudge" but I was a blonde in "Life Goes On". I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor. I thought the line "I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska" was very funny. I think the word is "sarcasm".

In my family we think laughing is good. My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life. My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes.
I am sure that if Trig could speak, he would say these exact words.  For Sarah Palin's benefit, I would also like to post the definition of "satire":

sat·ire [sat-ahyuhr]

1.  the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
2.  a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
3.  a literary genre comprising such compositions.

Austin Plane Crash: Office Building Hit In Northwestern Austin, Texas (VIDEO)

Out of curiosity, will the right argue that this man's action was a terrorist act? After all, he did launch a one-man attack on the federal government. Considering his reference to the IRS, bailouts, and "corporate America's 'thugs and plunderers,'" which sounds like much of what is coming from the tea party movement, I am certain conservative news coverage will call this action an abomination, but will not go as far as to classify it among other acts of terror, such as the Fort Hood shootings.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

EPA Plans For Stiffer Regulations Regarding Florida's Bodies Of Water

An article in the February 18ths edition of the Orlando Sentinel by Kevin Spear, regarding stiffer federal oversight of pollution limits for various bodies of water, had given me a couple thoughts. The article essentially states that the Environmental Protection Agency plans to use Florida's extensive database on water bodies to create a categorical system. Florida's current system basically acts on a case by case basis but State authorities have openly admitted that the current system is not only slow, but ineffective in combating the declining water quality. The new Federal system would establish essentially use the data collected by the state to determine acceptable pollution limits, and presumably, a course of action to be taken to improve quality, which may include the requirement to build run-off ponds or the reduction of use of fertilizers. According to Rusty Wiygul, director of grower affairs for Florida Citrus Mutual, the new stricter regulations have the potential to regulate Florida farmers out of business. James Payne, who represents the Deseret Ranch, which spans three counties pondered "how much regulation a cow can carry on her back." The Environmental Protection Agency plans on using Florida as a test for future regulations and protesters are plenty, ranging from industry leaders to limited government tea party adherents.

The main concern from industry would be that new regulations would put Florida businesses at a competitive disadvantage when competing with foreign farmers while states' rights proponents believe it should be the responsibility of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to improve water quality. Lynne Grace of Space Coast Patriots, a tea party group, had stated that the federal government has no business meddling with Florida's bodies of water. The reason behind the EPA's increased involvement stems from a lawsuit from Earthjustice, an environmental defense firm, among other other groups, that sued the EPA alleging "failures to uphold federal water-quality laws in Florida."

If you ask me, I would have to side with the environmentalists on this matter. While you have complaints from the industry who dislike potential future regulation only because they will have to spend additional money to ensure Florida's ecosystem is protected from their actions, and other complaints believing the federal government has no right to intervene, their arguments are without merit. The state government has been ineffective in achieving increased water quality goals, and had taken an approach that has done nothing more then collect useful data. With the failure to meet federal standards, Florida will now have to relinquish management to the EPA, which will hopefully perform better. I laugh at the notion that this is a matter that must be solved by Florida and Florida only. Teabaggers have essentially latched onto this issue because it involves federal intervention, which according to the various tea party organizations, is un-American. Florida is part of the union, and considering Florida shares some bodies of water with it's neighboring states, Alabama and Georgia, it would be my understanding that this matter would be interstate in nature, even if it focuses on purely intrastate waterways, placing it under the jurisdiction of the federal government. 

If Florida should be responsible for it's lakes and rivers with no consideration for the rest of the nation, then maybe Florida, or any state, take on the responsibility off delivering intrastate mail...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Short Analysis Of The Mount Vernon Statement

Yesterday, a group of conservatives, consisting of some prominent figures from the right, such as the president of the Heritage Foundation, Edwin Feulner, Jr., or president of Concerned Women for America, Wendy Wright, as well as some former Reagan officials and chairpersons of conservative organizations, got together to release The Mount Vernon Statement, which according to it's own website, is based on a previous article, The Sharon Statement, and "is a defining statement of conservative beliefs, values and principles penned by a broad coalition of conservative leaders representing a wide spectrum of the movement including fiscal, social, cultural and national security conservatives." According to the website, the statement was issued because in this time period, named the "age of Obama," the nation seems to lack direction and has fallen away from the conservative ideals that this nation was supposedly founded upon. I have copied the statement for those interested to read below, as I will also like to make some observations afterwords:
The Mount Vernon Statement

Constitutional Conservatism: A Statement for the 21st Century

We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding. Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.

These principles define us as a country and inspire us as a people. They are responsible for a prosperous, just nation unlike any other in the world. They are our highest achievements, serving not only as powerful beacons to all who strive for freedom and seek self-government, but as warnings to tyrants and despots everywhere.

Each one of these founding ideas is presently under sustained attack. In recent decades, America’s principles have been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics. The selfevident truths of 1776 have been supplanted by the notion that no such truths exist. The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant.

Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead — forward or backward, up or down? Isn’t this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?
The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles. At this important time, we need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature’s God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man’s self-interest but also his capacity for virtue.

The conservatism of the Constitution limits government’s powers but ensures that government performs its proper job effectively. It refines popular will through the filter of representation. It provides checks and balances through the several branches of government and a federal republic.

A Constitutional conservatism unites all conservatives through the natural fusion provided by American principles. It reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world.

A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent and meaningful policy agenda.

1 It applies the principle of limited government based on the rule of law to every proposal.
2 It honors the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.
3 It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions.
4 It supports America’s national interest in advancing freedom and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that end.
5 It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood, community, and faith.

If we are to succeed in the critical political and policy battles ahead, we must be certain of our purpose.

We must begin by retaking and resolutely defending the high ground of America’s founding principles.
It seems that conservatives are beginning to outline why they say no, but in giving a reason behind their actions, you can see that their stance is definitely full of holes, and the main portion of their argument is essentially a doctrine catering to the base, with vague statements that can only be interpreted with a secret decoder ring.

According to the website, The Mount Vernon Statement is based on The Sharon Statement, adopted in conference at Sharon, Connecticut, on 11 September 1960, which was the founding document for the Young Americans for Freedom. I thought it was interesting to note the date because I am sure that some of the conservative crazies such as Glenn Beck would believe the date to be a sign of divinity. Essentially, the first document was a call for limited government, economic freedom, protection of free will, and the defense of national sovereignty, which was under assault from the greatest single threat - communism. This document is essentially a cold war relic which pretty much calls for partisan politics unless of course you adhere to the strictest of laissez-faire policy and the smallest possible federal government, leading to the dominance of states over the majority of issues. One can definitely see the influence of this document on the most recent conservative statement, with an added emphasis on the protection of "family, neighborhood, community, and faith," which is essentially Republican phrasing for denying rights to homosexuals and destroying the separation of church and state, to allow for a more prominent role of religion in American government.

I have noticed a couple lines in the document that seem to be out of place, solely because the current conservative movement, such as the Tea Party movement, do not believe in the abolishment of tyranny or the upholding the highest standards of our founding principles. Sure the teabaggers are against terrorism and dictatorships, but ask them in regards to the treatment of terrorists and "enemy combatants" and you will most likely hear a rant against the humane treatment of these individuals and the controversy of trying these people in civilian courts. Considering one of the founding principles of the Mount Vernon document is to support "America’s national interest in advancing freedom and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that end." In supporting our national interest and advancing freedom, one would probably believe in extending the application of American beliefs in the formation of new governments that were once dictatorial in nature but are now democratic, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Someone who would also desire to end tyranny abroad would be hypocritical if they were to ignore tyranny at home, but that is exactly what these modern "conservatives" wish to do. They would like to detain humans indefinitely away from their homeland, and maybe one day try them in military courts. How is that any different then the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution in Iran?

Also looking at principles three and four, the conservative agenda is to honor "the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life" and encourage "free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions," but it also seems evident that conservatives are willing to place the marketplace over individual freedoms. Just consider the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding the McCain-Feingold Act, which now guarantees freedoms, that were once reserved to only citizens, to industry as well. I also like to reference homeowners associations a lot in my writing and with good reason. Republicans seem to side with the association, which as an entity infringes on the personal freedoms of the homeowner, and in many instances enjoy greater protection under the law then the homeowner, but when faced with regulation, conservatives tend to side with the industry because any regulation in favor of the homeowner is an attack against the freedom of the marketplace.

Essentially, this document is nothing more then the conservative base masquerading as a freedom loving group that is willing to embrace everybody in the love of the founding fathers, but in reality, they only seek power to restrict rights and freedoms that they see as a violation of God's law and their interpretation of the Constitution. It seems that Republicans are consistently trying to make statements and rebuttals. In regards to the congressional debates regarding stimulus and health care legislation, the conservatives go on the attack. Regarding something such as the State of the Union address, conservatives quickly rally to offer a statement of their own. Conservatives are quick to try and frame every situation and this is exactly where Democrats lack the skills or organization to get their message across. While some Republican attempts fall flat, such as Bobby Jindall's response to Obama after his first State of the Union address, some can be very effective, such as the constant shilling on Fox News for various "conservative candidates" - just consider New York's District 23 race between Dede Scozzafava, Doug Hoffman, and Bill Ownens and the various governor elections or the most recent Scott Brown win in Massachusetts, but I will bet that there would be no Democratic response to this Mount Vernon Statement. Top Democrats will most likely stick their head in the sand then confront Republicans. this is why I would like to point out the liberal response to The Sharon Statement, which was released a couple years later by the Students for a Democratic Society, titled The Port Huron Statement.

The central theme of The Port Huron Statement would be a call for action against the hypocrisy of the politics of the time, and while there was a focus placed on the Cold War and racism, you can definitely understand the correlation between that document and the conservatives most recent attempt at reinvention. The Port Huron Document explains that America was the "wealthiest and strongest country in the world" and that America, through the United Nations, would "distribute Western influence," such as freedom and equality for each individual, ensured by a "government of, by, and for the people." The statement called for a refusal of apathy, silence, and complacency of policy that was against the very nature of the founding principles of this nation and that in actuality, the current system "frustrates democracy by confusing the individual citizen, paralyzing policy discussion, and consolidating the irresponsible power of military and business interests." If you consider the various tea party protests where a call to protect business interests and strengthen the military, you would see a direct corruption of American policies by these various interest groups. The tea party adherents are only pawns. They are pawns to the military industrial complex. They are pawns of Wall Street. They are pawns of the power elite. Consider the Republican embrace of this so-called grass roots movement? It lacks all the qualities of a grass roots movement, but the power elite, namely the GOP, are playing to the masses to retain power while continuing to satisfy their corporate interests. Need proof? Consider Senator Richard Shelby who has attacked government spending and has played the fiscally conservative card while using a form of extortion to get the Air Force’s aerial refueling tanker acquisition and the FBI’s Terrorist Device Analytical Center for his state.

Conservatives have consistently played both sides of the fence and are constantly misrepresenting facts for their own benefit; to maintain their power elite status. They are constantly making claims of a secret Marxist/Communist/Leftist/etc. conspiracy that is aiming to destroy this nation and rewrite the constitution, but with every statement the conservatives release, with every rebuttal to the administration, and with every fringe belief being given a national platform, it is the conservative movement that aims to rewrite the constitution in their own words and to eliminate protections for all opposing views, and in essence, the millions of Americans who disagree with them.

Marco Rubio While In Front Of Teleprompter Slams Teleprompter Use At CPAC

Marco Rubio, the Tea Party candidate for Florida's Senate seat, took a jab at the president while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference. While referencing the recent snow storm, Rubio decided to make the same argument many on the right have made before him - that Obama is out of touch with America and uses a teleprompter to deliver his speeches. "The president couldn't find anywhere to set up a teleprompter to announce new taxes," Rubio said, but the funny thing is that Rubio himself was in front of a teleprompter.

The right seems to like bringing this point up but are not that keen on criticism against the right for the same non-issue. Take into consideration Sarah Palin, who had wrote crib notes on her hand for the National Tea Party Convention. While the notes were innocuous, Democrats pointed out that Palin, among others, was guilty of using speaking aids as well. They did not attack her use, only the hypocrisy, but the right had already put their spin on their use, claiming Palin to be "folksy" in writing on her hand, and as for others such as Rubio, they just seem to ignore the fact.

This hypocrisy is another reason why I dislike Marco Rubio just a little bit more and will be more inclined to vote for Charlie Crist (I am not the biggest fan of Democratic candidate Bill McCollum). Rubio seems to be the opportunist, playing to the base that seems to love these teleprompter jokes instead of actually making solid arguments. Rubio makes attack after attack, but he never seems to address issues and how he as a conservative will tackle the issue. To me, Rubio is making himself out to be another obstructionist Republican.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Big Government Makes Claims Regarding "Fiscally Conservative" Europe, Despite Right's Claims Europe Is Socialist...

Why is it that conservatives praise the very thing they use as evidence to attack the current administration? I am not talking about news of Republican legislators attending ribbon cutting ceremonies for projects funded by the stimulus that they were against. I'm talking about how the right will say one thing one day, but then say a totally different thing on another day. What made me think of this was a small article from Big Government.

In the article, titled "We Ought to Join the EU," by Morgan Warstler, he makes a comment that "it has been great fun watching old socialist Europe become fiscally conservative over the last eleven years as every member country must hold deficits to 3% of GDP," yet these same countries which have become "fiscally conservative" are also the same countries with socialist health care that is bankrupting those countries. The argument just does not make sense. How can these countries be a warning of things to come should America adopt universal health care legislation when by the author's own admission, they are "fiscally conservative" and must hold deficits down? What makes them different from America?

If you use the right's logic, the only way to achieve a successful fiscally conservative health system would be to adopt policies from Europe, but the right has consistently attacked the Obama administration for being too socialist, even though European countries scoff at the idea that American policies are socialist, so one would have to identify the problem as being Republican in nature, with their obstructionist actions standing in the way of true reform. Republicans stand in the way of establishing a fiscally conservative universal health care system, and if you want a perfect example, just consider some of the proposed cuts to Medicare, in which the Republicans attacked, even though the proposed cuts were to battle waste and help create a deficit neutral plan. If Europe is so fiscally conservative, maybe the right should just submit to the Democrat's plans regarding health care, among other things.

Sarah Palin Attacks Family Guy.

In a recent episode of Fox's Family Guy, character Chris falls for a girl with Down's Syndrome, and while on a date, Chris asks the girl what her parents do for a living. She responds "My dad's an accountant, and my mom is the former governor of Alaska." Palin, who approves the use of the word "retard" for satire, obviously does not understand what exactly satire is, otherwise she would not be complaining about this episode. To Palin, this show attacked her handicapped baby Trig, when in reality, this show was taking a jab at Palin, but she would never recognize the difference since she constantly uses her child for political gain.

I did not find the Family Guy episode tasteless. I found it humorous. In order to get the joke, one would have had to understand that Sarah Palin has a child with Down's Syndrome. To use the comedy of another animated show to illustrate the joke, I will use an episode of South Park in which two handicapped children, Timmy and Jimmy, engage in a drawn out fight. To get the full impact of the joke, one would have had to see the movie They Live in order to actually know that the fight sequence was pretty much lifted shot for shot. Without understanding that, the joke would be lost.

So my conclusion would be that Palin has know idea what satire is, and only attacks people of her choosing to advance her particular politics.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pay-As-You-Go Enacted Again... Republicans Upset?

On Friday, President Obama signed into law an increase in the federal government's borrowing cap, but what is also included in the law is pay-as-you-go legislation, which requires lawmakers to find ways of funding future projects by either increasing taxes or cutting programs to offset costs. Obama had also said the following in his weekly radio and internet address:
It was this rule that helped lead to balanced budgets in the 1990s, by making clear that we could not increase entitlement spending or cut taxes simply by borrowing more money. And it was the abandonment of this rule that allowed the previous administration and previous congresses to pass massive tax cuts for the wealthy and create an expensive new drug program without paying for any of it. Now in a perfect world, Congress would not have needed a law to act responsibly, to remember that every dollar spent would come from taxpayers today – or our children tomorrow.

But this isn’t a perfect world. This is Washington. And while in theory there is bipartisan agreement on moving on balanced budgets, in practice, this responsibility for the future is often overwhelmed by the politics of the moment. It falls prey to the pressure of special interests, to the pull of local concerns, and to a reality familiar to every single American – the fact that it is a lot easier to spend a dollar than save one.

"Now, Congress will have to pay for what it spends, just like everybody else,” the president also said.

Republican National Committee Chairman Steele attacked the president for the legislation, saying that "with a simple stroke of his pen, President Obama now has the ability to continue his binge spending agenda to the tune of an additional $1.9 trillion, the largest one-time increase in our history. If the president thinks he can hide his embarrassing binge spending habit behind a thin fig leaf like PAYGO, then he truly has hit rock bottom." While the debt ceiling may have been raised, Steele seems to ignore the implications of PAYGO, which would require cuts or raises in taxes to fund projects. While the right is probably hoping for a middle class tax hike, one thing is for certain, the government must act more fiscally conservative, which should please the Republicans, if it wasn't for the fact that this was passed by Obama, and if you remember from your history books, PAYGO was in effect from 1991 to 2002, in which President Bush and the Republican held congress decided to allow expire and swap fiscal responsibility for tax cuts instead, even in the face of growing expenditures...

Conservatives Call For John Brennan's Resignation

Conservatives have found yet another target, and this time with Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security, John Brennan. From the February 10th issue of Special Report With Bret Baier, the panel on the show called for his resignation over comments made regarding the Christmas Day bomber, in which Brennan stated that the politicization of national security issues are aiding terrorists more then helping the nation. Republican congressmen Pete Hoekstra and Kit Bond have both called for his resignation, with Hoekstra stating that Brennan is "poisoning the well" while Bond stated that "policy needs to be changed" and "if they need to change people to change the policy, that's what needs to be done," implying that Brennan should be removed.

Baier quoted Brennan as writing "Politically motivated criticism from Republicans and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of Al Qaeda, among other things." Panel guest Mort Kondracke took this to mean that Republicans are aiding Al Qaeda, even though he admitted to the politicization of national security issues, pointing out that Brennan was once attacked by liberals and now by conservatives. He goes on to say "everybody's at war all the time every day in Washington about something and not necessarily about merits," and looking at Brennan, I would have to say this most recent attack is without merit. Brennan seems to be very qualified for the post, with years of experience in various intelligence positions and a background in Middle Eastern studies. According to Kondracke, "nobody should say that guy is aiding Al Qaeda unless they are really committing treason. It's sort of like the Nazi analogy. It ought to be just off the table." Interesting that he would use the Nazi analogy, since this seems to be one of the most popular analogies used by the right. I believe they have also made arguments along the lines that the Obama administration has aided terrorism - Remember Dick Cheney saying America is less safe under the new administration? Kondracke had also admitted that complaints against the handling of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab are just speculation because critics are not sure of what had gone on regarding the governments interrogation, but I assume that they would rather have information obtained leaked to the press then kept classified for security issues.

According to other panel guest, Charles Krauthammer, regarding treating Abdulmutallab as an enemy combatant, the administration is "on the wrong side of public opinion. It's on the wrong side of logic and reason on this issue," and for this reason is why the White House is pushing back against criticism, with Tucker Carlson saying that Democrats had the same concerns after September 11th, but things are different now, but if you consider Krauthammer's arguments, the administration is in the wrong for acting against public opinion, against all logic and reason, but that is what the Bush administration had done for 8 years...

From what I gather from this interview, as well as the numerous other articles online, the right is just arguing in circles, contradicting themselves while remaining on the attack and attempting to validate their arguments, and while it may fool some, it definitely does not fool me.

Andrew Breitbart Believes Colleges Are Cults

On the February 12 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck, Andrew Breitbart discussed his newest Big endeavor, Big Education. According to Breitbart, he plans on using the same strategies that James O'Keefe had used for the ACORN videos to reveal college's cult like actions. According to Breitbart, colleges take student's money and then forces them to surrender in order to receive a degree.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

State Report Identifies Lack Of Knowledge Regarding HOAs, Offers Solutions

I was reading an interesting article by Ron Hurtibise at News Journal Online regarding homeowners associations and found it to be very interesting.

The article discusses the absence of regulation regarding homeowners association and the unwillingness of the Republican-controlled legislature to address such a problem, preferring for associations to resolve their own dispute, typically costing homeowners thousands of dollars in legal bills for taking their matter through the courts or through the industry controlled mediation process. A draft report by the state Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability was issued pointing out how little the state actually knows about these private entities that jeopardize property rights and infringe on the personal lives of many. It also makes recommendations to the legislation, pointing out what laws would need to be changed, as well as costs.

"It is the future of Florida living," said Rep. Julio Robaina, R-Miami, sponsor of unsuccessful HOA reform legislation in 2009. "You're either going to live in an HOA or a condo. The days of living in a single-family home not governed by an association are gone."

Another fellow legislator, Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, had said that she would need to be convinced of the need to collect data, and that she is skeptical of the costs associated with such data. Lynn is sponsoring legislation this spring "compelling banks to more quickly pay dues when they foreclose." For Lynn, the more pressing matter is to require owners to pay associations because "properties are being totally uncared for." While I see the necessity for condominium associations, where the entire community is enclosed in one giant common element that must be maintained, I do not see homeowners associations as a priority. Some offer zero amenities, such as Sand Lake Hills, yet they still seek the power for future control over peoples lives, while other associations want the power under the claim that they are protecting property values. Even homeowners associations that do have common elements, such as tennis courts, a clubhouse, or pool, to seek legislation to benefit their coffers seems un-capitalistic. Homeowners associations are non-profit corporations, which would mean that they would be operating under the minimum of conditions, but when the company can no longer be solvent, then dissolution or restructuring should be considered, not changing the rules in the middle of the game to come ahead.

I unfortunately understand that the complete elimination of homeowners associations will never occur, and as long as big lobbyists such as the Community Association Institute are around, legislation protecting homeowners will never exist, but I do support state regulation. Considering my numerous posts about the Sand Lake Hills Homeowners Association, Inc. and the lack of involvement from the government, if it was not for a particular homeowner who was able to fight them in court, the association would be able to litigate every homeowner into bankruptcy, and dealing with an association is a double edged sword because if the association lacks the funds to sue you, they can assess every homeowner, including you, to pay for the legal fight against you. Government regulation will help decrease the burden placed on homeowners and help keep associations in line. While the article does point out that regulation may not help well-functioning associations with little problems, and the homeowners in those communities would incur a small fee to fund for the regulatory body, I think it is a small price for peace of mind.

Another thing that I found interesting from this article, and in actuality many HOA related articles I have read involving legislation, it always seems that Republicans reject the notion of government regulation of associations because they prefer a limited size of government, so they instead opt for unregulated private governments that are not democratic and with the system heavily in favor of the associations. They also seem to support legislation that supports the industry because any law for a homeowner is a law against the free market, because by that logic, if you don't like community living, you have three options - one, you shut up and live with it; two, you move,; or three, you find a home with no covenants and restrictions (which Robaina pointed out is becoming increasingly difficult).

I am also for the passing of legislation eliminating the automatic renewal of covenants and restrictions, thus putting it up to the homeowners to continually decide whether or not they would like to continue operating an association, with 100% of the homeowners having to accept governance by the private organization in order for the covenants to be renewed, or at least allow an opt out clause at the time of renewal.

Sand Lake Hills Homeowners Association And The RICO Act

I have decided to re-post on this blog a post that I had made on April 21st, 2009 at Sand Lake Hills Lawsuit. In part because I am too lazy to write something at the moment and because I am trying to increase awareness on the abuses of homeowners associations, and this post made for an interesting take on the actions of my favorite subject - Sand Lake Hills. Enjoy.

I was curious as to whether the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act would be applicable to the Sand Lake Hills Homeowners Association, Inc., so I had decided to do some research.

According to the act, if a person or organization commit and show a pattern of "racketeering activity", which includes extortion, and by performing acts that are indictable under certain federal laws, including Mail Fraud, and to be more specific, § 1341 regarding "Frauds and Swindles", which states that "whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises" and who use the Postal Service as means of delivery.

Extortion can be defined as a criminal offense which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. The actual obtainment of money or property is not required to commit the offense. Making a threat of a lawsuit which refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to halt future lawsuit is sufficient to commit the offense.

Considering the above, the Association had repeatedly used their newsletters to establish false pretenses that they were the "homeowner's association" and that they had legitimately amended their governing documents to allow them greater authority, including the ability to levy assessments against homeowners regardless of their affiliation with their corporation, as well as to print fraudulent information, such as the true reason why they did not hold their previous membership meeting at the library.

The Association has also used the mail as an instrument of collections to send their "invoices" and "demand" letters for their "assessments". Even when considering that the Association operates primarily intrastate, because the U.S. Constitution confers the postal powers upon the federal government, acts of mail fraud, have an inherent nexus with interstate commerce, as determined in United States v. Elliott, 89 F.3d 1360 (8th Cir. 1996)

The RICO Act is not designed for single offenses, but for acts of repeated wrongdoing. Because the Association had shown a continuing pattern of criminal activity, and used the mail in its attempt to obtain money from hundreds of homeowners over a period of a couple years (many who were not affiliated or were misled into becoming affiliated with their corporation), I believe that they would fall under the requirements outlined under the RICO act.

If one must look at the false pretenses used to obtain money, you could look at the pattern that had developed overtime, including the method of collecting money they had used prior to "mandating" sections and their subsequent actions.

A couple examples:

The Association had always been voluntary, yet every year the Association would mail invoices for membership fees. On each invoice contained an amount due and a reference number, as well as the word "invoice", all of which implies that the homeowner must pay the corporation for membership. The term "invoice" indicates money is owed.

They had also changed their name to eliminate the "Section Two" that followed Sand Lake Hills, which also implies that they are not the Association of just Section Two, but every section.

I had mentioned a while ago, the Board members had improperly notarized the Joinder and Consent forms used to accept the Amended and Restated Covenants.

They had denied entry to homeowners who are not members into their meetings (contrary to Florida law), yet threaten these same homeowners with legal action if they do not pay their assessments...

I would also think that having their volunteers canvas the neighborhood and tell those who did not wish to sign the joinder and consent forms that they would have to pay would constitute a threat and for those who folded under pressure and did sign, an act of coercion.

Consider the argument from so many of the HOA's proponents: "It's only 100 dollars a year." Obviously they had been misled into thinking their consent was nothing more than agreeing to a benign set of covenants with a cost no greater then the voluntary amount from before.

Facts had been purposely distorted to acquire the necessary signatures.

I think it would be easy to argue their intent.

For years they have been trying to raise money and painting those who do not want to join as not wanting to contribute their "fair share".

They ignored restrictions in the original covenants that outlined the amendment process yet they claim their document to be 100% legal.

They operated closed meetings in violation of Florida law and have been belligerent to those with opposing views who were allowed to attend those meetings.

They claim to be voluntary when their documents allow people to join but not leave (not to mention they have a Director for Mandatory Association and before they even "mandated" every section they listed every section in their amended covenants prior to even getting what they believed to be sufficient approval).

They had violated their by-laws when holding their annual elections.

And what I believe to be one of the more important problems:

They have breached their fiduciary duty with the homeowners of Sand Lake Hills. Considering their new covenants, as well as old, they require every homeowner to pay a maintenance assessment yet they are not treating each homeowner equally. They are placing the needs of the membership higher then the rest, even though under their new rules they require everyone to pay equally, for an alleged mutual benefit. And when it comes to accountability, they do not allow all homeowners a voice, permitting only membership to attend meetings, speak at meetings, and to have a vote, when they have the fiduciary duty to all homeowners under their proposed covenants, as well as the original covenants (keep in mind they have not "mandated" every section but they refuse entry to non-members from every section, and when delivering the amended covenants to be signed by everyone, they omitted non-members from the mailing list).

Their words and actions are very clear.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Absurd Video Regarding Obama And Faith, Made By Christian Extremists

Why am I always surprised by crazy conservatives?

While reading, I came across some pages that were interesting. On, there was an "Urban Legends" section. The two I was reading involved Obama, with the first involving Obama stating there were 57 states and that he was actually referring to Muslim states, and the other was to whether Obama was secretly a Muslim. What surprised me was that there was a poll off to the side that asked whether I believed Obama was a "stealth" Muslim. I answered "no" but the total responses surprised me! 41%, over 30,000, of the respondents actually said "yes" while 50% said no. I was almost certain that the number who actually believe Obama was a Muslim would have been far lower. Here is the poll:

I came across this while I was reading a blog and someone left a comment linked to another website called, which had a video called "Obama Mocks & Attacks Jesus Christ And The Bible / Video / Obama Is Not A Christian" and basically showed video clips of Obama quoting the bible and then attacking Obama for his use of the bible. On the YouTube page, somebody referenced Obama's "57 states" comment as an attack. I have actually heard this argument from some of my coworkers, with some actually saying it as if Obama believed it. Not hearing it myself, I looked it up online, and I was just surprised by how many crazy conspiracies and attacks exist out there that are completely baseless. Maybe I expect too much from these people...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Andrew Breitbart Defends O'Keefe At Tea Party Convention, Calls For Misdemeanor

O'Keefe committs a felony?  Nah... Maybe a slap on the wrist.  Give him a misdemeanor and send him on his way for "punking" Mary Landrieu.  After all, this just seems to be a story because some federal prosecutor has a chip on his shoulder and no sense of humor, right?


Apparently Andrew Breitbart, James O'Keefe's mentor and employer believes the conservative activists did nothing wrong in fraudulently entering a senator's office to try to gain access to the telephone cabinet.

Click here to see the arrogant Breitbart plea for a lesser charge for his employee.

Sarah Palin Supports The Use Of Speech Aids And The Word "Retard"

The hypocrisy from the right wing is just too funny sometimes. Most recently, Palin criticized Rahm Emanuel for using the word "retarded" while condoning Rush Limbaugh's use of the word, when describing a meeting at the Whitehouse with advocates and the handicapped a "retard summit," and while Palin was giving her speech to the teabaggers, she criticized Barack Obama as a "guy with a teleprompter" but during that same speech, it was revealed that she had written crib notes on her hand, but according to the talking heads on the right, when Palin uses a speech aid, its different.

I have no issue with the use of teleprompters, and in fact, Sarah Palin had used them during the campaign, as well as after, along with everybody else, but she would probably wish everyone would forget about that and think of her as the conservative hero that she is not. The right have already attacked this non-issue, like Jim Hoft, from Gateway Pundit claiming the mainstream media is using this as a diversion from reporting on her brilliant speech and Fox & Friends co-hosts calling it "folksy" and "down to earth."

What is more worrisome, and Richard Adams points this out in his blog, is that "the hand-notes were for her points in reply to a question about the priorities for a Republican-controlled Congress, and I blogged previously that the third part of her answer was deeply disturbing: asking God for divine intervention." I presume this means that she would want God as vice president to cast any tie breaking votes.

Wilshire Lakes, Sand Lake Hills Homeowners Clash With HOAs Over Metal Roofs

I was reading an article regarding a Florida homeowners association in Naples that has denied a family the right to replace their existing roof with a metal roof. This incident is not an isolated incident. In Orlando, the same thing has been playing out in the courts with the Sand Lake Hills Homeowners Association, Inc. (SLHHOA) and a homeowner who is not even in their subdivision. The SLHHOA's excuse is that the metal roof is not up to community-wide standards, determined by the board, and that it does not look good cosmetically.

The situations that led up to the roof change in both Wilshire Lakes and Sand Lake Hills is very similar, as well as the association response. Unlike the Wilshire Lakes home, the homeowner in Sand Lake Hills changed their roof right after the hurricanes to prevent any damage. The SLHHOA was apparently upset that they did not fill out an architectural review form and demanded the roof be replaced with a shingle roof. When the homeowner put up a fight, the SLHHOA moved on to file a lawsuit.

According to the Orlando homeowner's covenants and restrictions, the SLHHOA does not have the authority to enforce their C&Rs. According to the C&Rs, "in order for
such Homeowners Association to be entitled to invoke the powers of enforcement as herein granted to the Homeowners Association by these Covenants and Restrictions, said Homeowners Association shall consist of the Owners of not less than twenty-five (25) Lots in this Subdivision." The SLHHOA is the association for another subdivision with a similar name and consists of non-owners of that particular subdivision - the President does not own a home in any of the Sand Lake Hills subdivisions and the remaining board do not live in the particular subdivision in which the C&Rs are for. Because their association does not solely consist of owners of that particular section, the SLHHOA does not meet the requirements set forth in the covenants and restrictions to enforce the architectural guidelines.

In the article, I found a quote from a Community Association Institute representative and industry lobbyist, Bill White, in which he stated that "the uniformity of the property is in jeopardy if they can put whatever they want on their roof," with "they" referring to the homeowner. I placed the emphasis on the pronouns "they" and "their" because it is just amazing to me that somebody has the audacity to want to exercise that level of control over another person's personal property, but this belief seems to be endemic of homeowners associations. The law firm representing the SLHHOA, Larsen and Associates, consists of a Community Association Institute representative, Frank A. Ruggieri, so you can definitely see where the association's loyalties lie, and it is not with the homeowner.

The interesting thing about denying metal roofs is that they may be considered protected under Florida law and that much like clotheslines and skylights, a homeowners association would have no power to prevent a homeowner from installing these "passive solar devices." While the courts ruled tubular skylights to be permissible, the issue regarding these energy efficient roofs has come under question, with industry leaders believing community associations should retain the rights to determine whether a particular roof is appropriate. Bill White had also indicated in the article that the CAI will look to push legislation to favor homeowners associations (I must have missed the chapter in my American Government class when corporate rights preceded citizen's rights).