Monday, June 29, 2009

Global Warming Bill Passes House

One of the important planks in Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s platform was revising the country’s energy policy and curbing global warming. Leading nations have agreed that ignoring global warming for decades has put our earth in danger. The prevailing sentiment in the United States shares that concern.

After a string of early Obama successes, including passage of the $787 billion economic stimulus package, the climate bill facing a vote in Congress appeared to be in trouble, without sufficient votes to pass. The legislation would limit the pollution blamed for global warming and launch actions necessary to combat global warming. Facing a rare defeat, President Barack Obama put a big dose of political capital on the line and scored a major victory just when he needed one. He faces an even more difficult test in shepherding the energy and climate legislation through the Senate.

White House senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that he didn't expect Senate action until the fall. "We're trying to solve a problem that has languished for a decade," he said.

"I hope it won't pass the Senate," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on "Fox News Sunday," claiming the measure would lead to "significant cost increases in electricity across America."

Still, he called the bill "an extraordinary first step."

With his high scores in popularity declining somewhat, the president faces another difficult task, health care reform. Republicans continue to express concerns that the president is trying to do too much in the midst of a recession and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This sentiment is shared privately by some Democrats wary of some of the president’s proposals, including deficit spending as Obama pumps an enormous amount of money into the economy and elsewhere.

The one thing that everyone should be able to agree on is that this president is intent on keeping the promises he made to the American people during his campaign. He may not get to all of them, but, in my opinion, he certainly is giving it the old college try.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mark Sanford: Another One Bites The Dust

When the press started talking about the six day missing saga of Mark Sanford, Governor of South Carolina, all I could think of was three things. My first thought was "isn't that the guy that wanted to turn down the money from the stimulus package targeted for his state"? Secondly, I had a vague recollection of Aimee Semple McPherson, the Evangelist who went missing for 32 days in the 1920's and returned with a wild tale of her forced kidnapping to cover her absence. Yes, something's shady here, too. My third thought was "why should we care about any of this at all".

When the dust cleared, we found out that Jenny Sanford had kicked her husband out of the house because he had been having an affair with Maria Beleh Chapur of Argentina. It seem that Sanford hadn't been hiking in the Appalachians at all. Rather, he'd been visiting his girlfriend in Buenor Aires. I saw a dazed man come forward in a hastily called press conference to tell listeners that he had cheated on his wife, let his sons down, lied to his staff, and abandoned his responsibilities for six days due to his personal difficulties.

Turns out Mark Sanford is or was a frontrunner with aspirations for the White House in 2012. When the story of his extramaritial affair leaked, he immediately resigned his position as Chairman of the Republician Governors Association. Well, score one for Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney and others. This scandal may be all she wrote for this politician.

I heard pundits talk about other politicians who had been disgraced under similiar circumstances, most recently Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada. Although Governor Sanford resigned from his high level position in the GOP, it appears he wants to stay on as Governor. Some say he should resign, while others say this incident shouldn't force him out of office. I say it's a matter of trust. If he'll cheat on his wife who he admits has worked diligently by his side to support his political aspirations, I can only guess what he'd do to others. In addition, these guys all come off as holier than thou, spouting the rhetoric of family values and the sanctity of marriage, blah, blah, blah. Man, do I hate that hypocrisy, but I guess the issue is for the good citizens of South Carolina to decide. Another one gone...another one bites the dust!

His story and statements made headlines for days and lingered as the top story until Michael Jackson, King of Pop, died of a sudden heart attack at age 50 and all eyes and ears turned to that story.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Ensign Affair: Cast the First Stone

June 18, 2009

The bible tells us that he who is without sin should cast the first stone. I wonder if Nevada Senator John Ensign ever read those words.

A rising star in the GOP with presidential hopes for 2012, Ensign, on Tuesday, admitted having a nine-month "consensual" affair with staffer Cindy Hampton. Cindy’s husband Doug also worked for the senator. Ensign's office has said that both Cindy and Doug Hampton left their jobs in May 2008, and the affair ended in August 2008.

Associated Press Writer Kathleen Hennessey reports that Sen. John Ensign (51) helped his mistress's husband get two jobs during the time the rising Republican senator acknowledges carrying on an extramarital affair. In the months after leaving his post, Doug Hampton quickly landed two positions with companies connected to Ensign. One, a consulting firm that ran Ensign's 2006 campaign, acknowledges the senator encouraged the company to hire Doug Hampton.

On Thursday, Mike Slanker, a longtime Ensign campaign adviser, told The Associated Press that Ensign was "supportive" of plans to hire Doug Hampton through Slanker's government affairs firm, November Inc., in May 2008. Slanker said he was not aware of Ensign's relationship with Cindy Hampton at the time. He said the senator did not pressure him to hire Doug Hampton. "To be fair, (Ensign) was supportive, but there was no pressure," Slanker said.

While at November, Inc., Doug Hampton secured a consulting contract with Allegiant Air, a small airline currently run by Las Vegas businessman Maurice Gallagher. In August 2008, Allegiant Air hired Doug Hampton as the vice president for government affairs, according to Tyri Squyres, a company spokeswoman.

Doug and Cindy Hampton's son, Brandon, also works for the airline, Squyres confirmed. She would not say how he got the job in the company's call center.
Brandon Hampton also previously worked for Ensign, the former chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Records show the committee made twice-monthly payments, generally $500 apiece, to Brandon Hampton. The payments began in March of last year and ended in August, when Ensign's office says the affair ended.

Federal records also show that around the time of the affair, Cindy Hampton received a promotion and a pay raise at one political entity controlled by Ensign, as well as a pay raise at a second.

Rumors of possible extortion have been swirling since Ensign shocked the Capitol by admitting the affair. The Chatter circulated that the Hamptons tried to blackmail Ensign, a well-known social conservative and family-values advocate, planning to go public about the affair.

The Hamptons released a statement Wednesday criticizing Ensign's disclosure of the affair, saying they "did everything possible to keep this matter private." Ensign's office disputed the account and said Doug Hampton had approached a television media organization, alluding to plans to publicize the affair.
A day after admitting to the extramarital affair, Ensign resigned his position in the Senate Republican leadership, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. Ensign was the head of the Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-ranking elected leadership position.

Ensign called on then-Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) to resign after Craig was arrested in an airport men's restroom and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in a sex sting. At the time, he called Craig's actions "embarrassing."

In 1998, while serving in the House, he called on President Bill Clinton to resign from office after Clinton's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinski came to light, saying that Clinton had "no credibility left" as president.

Although his political future isn't clear now that the news of the affair is out, Ensign did say he was "committed to my service in the United States Senate."

Sources: Yahoo! News; Quote.Com; Associated Press

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Buchanan Wants "the Old Bigotry"

June 17, 2009

Buchanan argues against affirmative action: ‘One prefers the old bigotry.’
Today, in a Human Events column titled “Miss Affirmative Action,2009,” MSNBC’s Pat Buchanan continued his attack on Judge Sotomayor. He declared that affirmative action is worse than the “old bigotry” against African Americans:

Thus, Sotomayor got into Princeton, got her No. 1 ranking, was whisked into Yale Law School and made editor of the Yale Law Review — all because she was a Hispanic woman. And those two Ivy League institutions cheated more deserving students of what they had worked a lifetime to achieve, for reasons of race, gender or ethnicity.
This is bigotry pure and simple. To salve their consciences for past societal sins, the Ivy League is deep into discrimination again, this time with white males as victims rather than as beneficiaries.

One prefers the old bigotry. At least it was honest, and not, as Abraham Lincoln observed, adulterated “with the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

This is the newest in a series of racist comments made by Buchanan since Sotomayor’s nomination. He has told senators to oppose Sotomayor’s nomination and “stand up for the white working class.” He even went so far as to assert that, because of affirmative action, “what is happening now to white men right now is exactly what was done to black folks for years.”

Claire Teitelman
Think Progress, Guest Blogger on Jun 12th, 2009

Ben Cohen, Huffinton Post, June 12, 2009 pleads with MSNBC:

MSNBC, Pull the Plug on Pat Buchanan

Poor Pat Buchanan. A failed political career born out of a platform that only appeals to other grumpy white men, Buchanan is stuck in an endless circle of self induced rage and irrational fear.

The MSNBC commentator actually believes being white in America puts you at a disadvantage, and feels a life dedicated to bemoaning 'reverse discrimination' and the rise of 'unqualified' minorities is an honorable use of his time.
David Weigel, The Washington Independent, June 16, 2009
Pat Buchanan, 1971: Give the SCOTUS ‘Black Seat’ or ‘Jewish Seat’ to a Catholic

Trevor Griffey digs up a 1971 memo written by Pat Buchanan, then an adviser to President Richard Nixon, arguing that the administration needed to get ready for the 1972 election by giving preferential treatment to white ethnics.

I]nstead of sending the orders out to all our other agencies — hire blacks and women — the order should go out — hire ethnic Catholics preferable women, for visible posts. One example: Italian Americans, unlike blacks, have never had a Supreme Court member — they are deeply concerned with their “criminal” image; they do not dislike the President. Give those fellows the “Jewish seat” or the “black seat” on the Court when it becomes available.

Weigel sums up life long Buchanan's stand as follows:
"It’s striking how little Buchanan has changed in the intervening 38 years. In one of his anti-Sonia Sotomayor columns, he argued that the nominee had no more right to a seat than a “Polish- or Portogeuse-American” and that Hispanics would support her because “people often come out to vote for one of their own.”

I guess you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Some "Jokes" Aren't Funny

June 17, 2009

(Credit: CC Mike Baird/Flickr)

Chris Matyszczyk commented in a recent CNET News Blog Post:
“Jokes are funny things. Sometimes the same joke works with one person and falls flat with another. Sometimes, though, the joke just isn't funny at all.”

There are jokes and then there are jokes. Just ask David Letterman after his untoward comments about Sarah Palin’s daughter(s). But, here’s a joke lobbed at the First Lady that didn’t receive the same kind of national attention.

Rusty De Pass , a prominent Republican Party activist, happened to see a Facebook post by an aide to state Attorney General Henry McMaster. The post described an escape by a gorilla on Friday from the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia. DePass, once a state Senate candidate, responded to the post with these words: "I'm sure it's just one of Michelle's ancestors - probably harmless."

After the post was discovered and word spread, De Pass reluctantly offered an apology. "I am as sorry as I can be if I offended anyone. The comment was clearly in jest."

Columbia Mayor Bob Coble appears to have seen no clear jest at all:
"You know, I think the comment is inappropriate. It's a racist comment."

DePass also reportedly suggested that it was the first lady who initially made the comment about everyone being descended from apes. However, media organizations have tried to find these comments, without--at the time of writing--any success.

As crude and tasteless as De Pass's comments are, they pale by comparision to some others. Take an example of fear-mongering and hate-baiting during the 2008 presidential campaign.

A post from Michelle Obama Watch sums up my feelings:
No, your eyes are not deceiving you, that is Michelle Obama’s photoshopped face in the photo. A DailyKos diarist named ONECITIZEN created this. I get the point they were trying to make, Michelle Obama is being criticized by the GOP for numerous things, but really what was going to your mind when you imagined Michelle Obama being tortured by the Klan and being branded with a hot branding iron that reads “Uppity Liberal?”? SECURITY CALLING SECURITY! To be clear, REPUBLICANS did not create this, a liberal “progressive” blogger created this foolishness. A DailyKos diarist named ONECITIZEN created this. (Note the “sponsored by the David Duke Fan Club” wording on the photo.)

How did you fix your mind to convince yourself that putting this image up was a smart or persuasive thing to do?

I had decided not to post the Michelle Obama torture photo, thinking it did no good and only spread hate and deviseness. But, when I saw the news of De Pass's comments, I reconsidered my decision. I believe that there are people out there that share the thoughts depicted in the aforementioned photo and in the substance of De Pass' "joke". These hidden racist thoughts make their way into actions as seen last week in the slaying of a security guard in the assualt on the Holocast Museum in Washington, D. C. by a life long White Supremist activist. My final thought is that maybe these type of things need airing to keep people awake.

Sources: Michelle Obama Watch
Technically Incorrect, CNET NEWS

Saturday, June 13, 2009

In A Child's Mind

June 13, 2009

Obama bends over so the son of a White House staff member can pat his head during a family visit to the Oval Office May 8, 2009. The youngster wanted to see if the President's haircut felt like his own. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This little boy wanted to see if the President's hair felt like his.
For some reason, it made me burst into tears,
Perhaps at the beautiful demonstration of a child's curiosity when we don't "shush" them;
Perhaps at the thought that this young boy could see part of himself in the President of the United States , for the very first time;
Perhaps at the humble way President Obama bent down;
Perhaps all of the above.

A friend brought this story and photo to my attention. I thought it worthy of sharing.

CEO-Red Lobster and Olive Garden

June 13, 2009

Another history moment for us and our children.
The Higher Education of the Nation's Top African-American Restaurateur.

Each week tens of thousands of diners eat at an Olive Garden or Red Lobster restaurant. Few of these diners know that the CEO heading these large restaurant chains is a black man.

Clarence Otis Jr. is the CEO of Darden Restaurants Inc., the largest casual dining operator in the nation. The firm operates nearly 1,400 company-owned restaurants coast to coast serving 300 million meals annually. Darden employs 150,000 workers and has annual revenues of $6 billion. Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Otis moved to Los Angeles when he was 6 years old. His father was a high school dropout who worked as a janitor. The family lived in Watts at the time of the 1965 riots. In the post-Watts period, Otis recalls being stopped and questioned by police several times a year because of the color of his skin. A high school guidance counselor recommended him for a scholarship at Williams College, The highly selective liberal arts institution in Massachusetts. Otis graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Williams and went on to earn a law degree at Stanford. Otis landed on Wall Street as a merger and acquisitions attorney for J.P. Morgan Securities. He joined Darden Restaurants in 1995 as corporate treasurer. He became CEO in 2004.

How many of us knew this? But we knew all about Michael Vick!!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rick Scott: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?

Wealthy businessman Rick Scott (R) will be the next governor of Florida after state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink (D) conceded this morning, handing Republicans a victory.  Just goes to show you even a known crook can win in Florida. Read my previous Blogpost on Ricck Scott and new articles that raised the issue of his shady past.

(Reprint of Previous Blogpost)

After seeing an ad on health care reform sponsored by Conservatives for Patient's Rights, I heard a news commentator allude to misconduct by Rick Scott, the spokesman in the ad. I wondered "who is this guy" and wanted to know more about Rick Scott. Here's what I found.

Rick Scott made millions with a company that defrauded the government and the American people for profit. The hospital corporation pleaded guilty to a litany of criminal and civil charges including lying to the government about how sick patients were so they could collect larger fees. In his May 11, 2009 post, Mike Hall says, "If he’s going to grant interviews and plaster himself all over the airwaves as the face of anti-reform, we believe everyone has the right to know exactly where he’s coming from." I heartily agree with Mike.

Jason Rosenbaum's April 1, 2009 post in The Now! Blog wrote the following:

Rick Scott, the Bernie Madoff of health care, has an explanation for why under his watch his health care company had to pay $1.7 billion in fines, the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history: "Everybody was doing it."

Rick Scott was in charge of HCA/Columbia during the time the company was keeping two sets of books. He was bought out for millions (by Bill Frist!) before the company was charged with fraud, escaping criminal charges himself. And now he’s using that ill-gotten money and his corrupt Washington connections to fight health care reform.
It doesn’t get much dirtier than that.

Earlier this year, Scott, who is a major donor to the Republican Party, according the Washington newspaper Politico, founded the group Conservatives for Patients’ Rights. That group is airing the ads on national cable outlets like CNN and Fox attacking Obama’s health care proposals with false claims and recycled scare tactics.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that Scott is using $5 million of his own money, plus another $15 million from donors he refuses to name, to finance the “swift boating” of President Obama’s health care reform initiatives. The Post reports that PRC Public Relations, the group that slimed Kerry’s Vietnam War record, is coordinating the campaign.

I turned up more interesting information as I researched Rick Scott. Here's are some bits and pieces:

After his forced departure from Columbia/HCA in 1997, Scott launched Richard L. Scott Investments, based in Naples, Florida, which has stakes in health care, manufacturing and technology companies.

Between 1998 and 2001, Scott purchased 50% of CyberGuard Corporation for approximately $10 million. In 2006, CyberGuard was sold to Secure Computing for over $300 million.

In the 1990s, Scott was a partner of George W. Bush in ownership of the Texas Rangers.

Scott has recently been linked to a company which both Iran and Saudi Arabia use to enforce internet censorship. Scott sits on the board of Secure Computing. Media Matters released a document detailing Scott's links to the internet monitoring company, which has been used by these regimes in order to suppress internet communication. Reporters Without Borders, in 2001, produced a report which stated: "According to Secure Computing, this software makes it possible to block millions of websites in over 60 categories. It is therefore easy for the Iranian government to block websites for political reasons."

Obviously, Rick Scott knows how to make money and is well connected, one of the good old boys.

If you want to know more about the rise of Rick Scott in health care and how his health care program worked, read Joe Fowler's article, "Rick Scott and the Columbia/HCA Healthcare System: Icon of Greed or Prophet of True Reform?". The article appeared in the Healthcare Forum Journal, March-April 1995, Vol. 38 #2.

I think I can make up my own mind about President Obama Health Care Reform Initiatives without Rick Scott's advice. How about you?
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