Sunday, September 20, 2009

POTUS Death Threats

President Obama faces 30 death threats a day, a 400 percent increase from former President Bush, according to Ronald Kessler, a veteran investigative journalist and conservative who recently authored a book about the Secret Service.

Kessler notes that funding cutbacks have already left the first African-American president in U.S. history particularly vulnerable. The book, which alleges that the cash-strapped Secret Service is endangering the president by cutting corners, has sent shockwaves through Washington.. "There's no question his life is in danger." "Tomorrow, Obama could be assassinated ... simply because the Secret Service was not doing what it used to do, " said Kessler.

"We have half the number of agents we need, but requests for more agents have fallen on deaf ears at headquarters," a Secret Service agent told Kessler.
"There's a tremendous feeling within the Secret Service that they are risking an assassination," Kessler told Canadian TV.

As CNN's Rick Sanchez said on the air, "This looks serious. This almost looks like this is coming to the point where we are even beyond maybe where this nation was on November 22 of 1963, when JFK was assassinated, when there was also an environment of hate in this country."

As racist attacks increase and protestors continue to bring guns to presidential events, it is strikingly clear that President Obama is vulnerable to harm. Are the Secret Service and FBI doing enough to protect him? Will they confront and investigate those who threaten our president so that they can be prosecuted and jailed?

We cannot allow funding problems to weaken the organizations charged with protecting the life of our nation's president. In 2003, the Secret Service and FBI became part of the Department of Homeland Security and now must compete with 20 other agencies for oversight from their chief, Janet Napolitano.. She must use her authority to ensure that the Secret Service and FBI put more agents on the ground to protect President Obama and confront and investigate those who threaten him. It is time for Americans of every stripe to insist that the Secret Service and FBI operate at the highest levels of effectiveness.

It is a difficult time in America, and we have to stand up and make sure our president is safe.

Source: AlterNet, a project of the non-profit Independent Media Institute, is a progressive/liberal activist news service. Launched in 1998, AlterNet now claims a readership of over 3 million visitors per month.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

First Lady Talks Healthcare Reform

It sounds like the First Lady is fired up and ready to go take the message of health care reform to the people who really make the decisions – the women of America. But are we listening?

Michelle Obama Watch reported on the First Lady addressing the American Women:

In a speech this morning First Lady Obama, a former hospital administrator, lent her voice to the call for health care reform in America. Speaking to leaders of different women’s groups, at an event sponsored by the White Council on Women and Girls, she encouraged women to get involved in the health care debate as part of “the next step” in their long quest to assure full opportunity and equality.

“Women aren’t just disproportionately affected by this issue because of the roles that we play in families…We all know that women are more likely to work part-time, or to work in small companies or businesses that don’t provide any insurance at all.

Women are affected because, as we heard, in many states, insurance companies can still discriminate because of gender. And this is still shocking to me. These are the kind of facts that still wake me up at night; that women in this country have been denied coverage because of preexisting conditions like having a C-section or having had a baby. In some states, it is still legal to deny a woman coverage because she’s been the victim of domestic violence.”

According to, Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn stated:

“What she’s doing is putting a personal and human face on the issue … there’s nothing more crucial. Everybody gets sick, and everybody has someone in the family that gets sick … I think if you can humanize it and personalize it, it suddenly brings it home to people — especially those who are screaming and yelling about the government taking over.”

And put a human face on the issue she did. The First Lady recalled personal experiences of growning up with a father who had multiple sclerosis and the terrifying feeling she had as a parent when her child’s health was threatened by a potentially deadly disease.

“I will never forget the time eight years ago when Sasha was four months that she would not stop crying. And she was not a crier, so we knew something was wrong. So we fortunately were able to take her to our pediatrician that next morning. He examined her and same something’s wrong. We didn’t know what. But he told us that she could have meningitis. So we were terrified. He said, get to the emergency room right away.

And fortunately for us, things worked out, because she is now the Sasha that we all know and love today — (laughter) — who is causing me great — excitement. (Laughter.)

But it is that moment in our lives that flashes through my head every time we engage in this health insurance conversation. It’s that moment in my life. Because I think about what on earth would we have done if we had not had insurance. What would have happened to that beautiful little girl if we hadn’t been able to get to a pediatrician who was able to get us to an emergency room? The consequences I can’t even imagine. She could have lost her hearing. She could have lost her life if we had had to wait because of insurance.”

“And this issue isn’t something that I’ve thought about as a mother. I think about it as a daughter. As many of you know, my father had multiple sclerosis. He contracted it in his twenties. And as you all know, my father was a rock. He was able to get up and go to work every day, even though it got harder for him as he got sicker and more debilitated. And I find myself thinking, what would we have done as a family on the South Side of Chicago if my father hadn’t had insurance, if he hadn’t been able to cover his treatments? What would it have done to him to think that his illness could have put his entire family into bankruptcy? And what if he had lost his job, which fortunately he never did? What if his company had changed insurance, which fortunately never happened, and we became one of the millions of Americans, families, who can’t get insurance because of a preexisting condition?”

To read the First Lady’s remarks in their entirety visit the Briefing Room on the White House website at

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Three Blind Mice

Three Blind Mice

Think back to your childhood and remember the familiar song “Three Blind Mice’. It ends “You’ve never seen such a sight in your life as Three Blind Mice”. It was the theme song for the Three Stooges and is also a derogatory phrase for poor referees in the sports of basketball and hockey (which each uses three refs). The childish antics of some very prominent folks captured media headlines this week and brought to mind this age-old children’s round.

Joe Wilson's Shout Out

South Carolina Rep.(R) Joe Wilson’s outburst on the House floor during President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress on health care could be called the shout heard around the world. As the President made his case for health care reform, he addressed some of the specific inaccuracies floated by the insurance and health care industry's paid supporters. The misinformation is designed to confuse and frighten the American public. Rep. Wilson yelled out “You Lie” when the President assured the country and the Congress that illegal immigrants would not be able to avail themselves of the benefits of any proposed national health care reforms.

Wilson's antics serve as a useful reminder of the power of supposedly unpredicted and unplanned events in politics. The ensuing news coverage focused on the shouting incident instead of the subject at hand, health care reform. On a largely party-line vote, the House voted 240 to 179 to ratify a "resolution of disapproval" against Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) for interrupting President Obama's health-care speech before a joint session of Congress.

Serena Willliams' Meltdown

Well-known for nearly a dozen Grand Slam titles, a clothing line, and a glamorous presence, Serena Williams is now known for a profane game stopping outburst too. Her threat to shove a ball down a lineswoman's throat in the U.S. Open peppered with frequent use of the “F” word is inexcusable. Her lips were readable and her words were audible over the courtside microphones: She cursed and threatened physical violence. When reporting on Serena Williams antics, Washington Post Sports Columnist Sally Jenkins wrote “The awful irony was ...that at least it was a sincere expression of who she really is: a competitor of roaring fury”..."You don't win nearly a dozen Grand Slam titles without some kind of fierce commitment". Jenkins noted “People who lose their temper let their emotions, their urgency, their needs, trump everyone else's”.

Serena Williams' profanity-laced, finger-pointing tirade at a U.S. Open linesperson drew a $10,000 fine Sunday, and more punishment could follow from a broader investigation into what the head of the tournament called her "threatening manner." The rules allow for a fine as high as all of a player's prize money from the tournament - and a suspension, Williams also was docked $500 for smashing her racket after the first set of the match. The chairman and CEO of the women's tennis tour, Stacey Allaster, issued a statement calling Williams' conduct "inappropriate and unprofessional."

Kanye West’s Stage Invasion

Rolling Stone reported on the behavior of Kanye West at the 2009 VMA Awards.
Leave it to Kanye West to produce one of the most infamous moments in VMAs history before the 2009 show was even an hour old. It happened after Taylor Swift’s victory in the Best Female Video category for “You Belong With Me,” which beat out Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It).” Just moments after Swift accepted the Moonman and began her acceptance speech, West stormed the stage, taking the microphone from Swift to announce Beyoncé deserved the award.

Everyone at the Radio City Music Hall looked stunned, as the cameras captured an astonished and horrified Beyoncé still in her seat.

Near the end of the show, Beyoncé invited Swift onstage to have the acceptance speech she deserved while picking up her own Moonman for Video of the Year. Later, West posted an apology on his blog.

Watching the antics of these "Three Blind Mice", all I can say is "cut off their tales with a craving knife". "Stop the Madness!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Healthcare Reform-Follow the Money

In addition to the Gang of Six, other key senators opposed to the Public Option are also raking in big dollars from the health care industry:
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has received the most money ($141,000) from health insurance PACs. Baucus has leaned in favor of a "co-op" plan as an alternative to government-provided insurance. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who has said he fears the public option may lead to a "government takeover" of health care, ranks second, having received $111,000 from insurance PACs since 2004.

The three senators who derived the highest shares of their campaign contributions from these PACs are all Republicans who oppose the "public option." Five Democrats are also among the top 10 recipients, and they all either support a public plan or have not officially come down on the subject either way. The last two senators on the list, both Republicans, disapprove of the public option.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) leads the way, drawing 12 percent of his receipts since 1989 from health industry PACs, which are generally operated by insurance, pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies, as well as by hospitals and physicians' groups.

The Democrats on the top 10 list of Silver's study are all long-time fundraisers, bringing in anywhere between $12.9 million and $25 million since 1989. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who has declined to fully support or reject the public option, leads this Blue Quintet with 8.5 percent of his cash coming from health care PACs. Conrad if the Democrat most dependent on health care lobbying money. This might give one some pause when evaluating Conrad's co-op plan or his skepticism about the Senate's ability to pass a public option.

Senator Greg (R-NH) received $6.5 million since 1989 which is 10.7% of total contributions. Surprise-he doesn’t support the public option.

Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah) received $19 million or 6.7% of total contributions since 1989. Surprise-he doesn’t support the public option.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) received $19 million or 6.7% of total contributions since 1989. Surprise-he doesn’t support the public option.

It should be noted that Senators Greg and Hatch are members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education and Labor.

Health care PACs alone have already donated $4.9 million to federal candidates this year after contributing $49.3 million and $39.8 million in the 2008 and 2006 cycles, respectively. While medical professionals and the PACs and employees of insurance companies traditionally lean Republican, health care PACs have flipped dramatically in recent years. More than two-thirds of their donations so far this year have gone to Democratic candidates, while only a combined 34 percent of contributions went to the Democrats in the 2004 and 2006 cycles. In 2008, Democrats collected 55 percent of all the money that came from these PACs.

The Gang of Six

The Gang of Six

A bipartisan group of six “moderate” US senators, dubbed the “Gang of Six” by news agencies, issued a demand July 17 for a slowdown on Democratic health care reform. These senators – including three conservative Democrats, one conservative Independent who caucuses with Democrats, and two moderate Republicans – asked for a slowdown on health care reform not because their constituents wished it so: recent polls show that a clear majority of Americans want health care reform now including a public health care option such as that proposed by President Obama and progressives in Congress. Some might think that the for-profit health, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries have bid them to do so in the hope that reform can be stopped, and because these same industries have generously provided them with career campaign contributions totalling more than $11 million.

Health Care calls these six senators the “Gang of Sickos” in honor of Michael Moore’s film on America’s health care crisis similarly titled . The are Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Ron Wyden of Oregon; Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut; and Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine. Paul Krugman calls them “the six deadly hypocrites”. Their career total and average daily contributions from the health, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries are summarized by Paul Blumenthal at the Huffington Post based on figures from the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).

#1: Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska, the ringleader of the group, has raised more than $2.2 million in campaign contributions from the health, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries over the course of his career according to Blumenthal, averaging more than $700 per day since taking office in January 2001. Public Campaign Action Fund (PCAF) gives a slightly lower career total of just over $2.0 million for Nelson, and provides extensive detail on his ties to the health, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries. Before entering politics, as PCAF notes, Nelson spent his career as an insurance executive, as an insurance company lawyer and, early in his career, as Nebraska’s state insurance regulator. As PCAF also notes, a number of Nelson’s former Senate staffers have moved on into lucrative careers as health, insurance, and pharmaceutical industry lobbyists.

#2: Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana has raised more than $1.6 million in campaign contributions from the health, insurance, Landrieu is also listed as one of the twenty most corrupt members of Congress by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Like Nelson’s former staffers, several of Landrieu’s have also gone on to work as health, insurance, and pharmaceutical industry lobbyists.

#3: Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon has raised more than $1.4 million in campaign contributions from the health, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries over the course of his career, averaging almost $300 per day since taking office in February 1996.

#4: Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut has raised almost $3.6 million in campaign contributions from the health, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries over the course of his career, averaging more than $500 per day since taking office in January 1989. This former Democrat has been the bane of progressives since his signing onto the Bush war program and his opposition to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.

#5: Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine has raised more than $1.1 million in campaign contributions from the health, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries over the course of her career, averaging more than $200 per day since taking office in January 1995. Unlike the “Democrats” listed above, Senator Snowe and her junior Republican colleague from Maine, Susan Collins, can perhaps be partially excused for their actions based on the fact that they are Republicans, and are only doing what all Republicans do: Deny the needs of the poor, working, and middle classes in favor of the wealthy, while pretending in Bush-Palin fashion to be the champions of “Real Americans.”

#6: Republican Susan Collins of Maine has raised almost $1.6 million in campaign contributions from the health, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries over the course of her career, averaging more than $300 per day since taking office in January 1997.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

POTUS Plans Talk to Students

Each day that I follow the journey of our 44th President Barack Obama I find myself wanting to shout out “Stop the Madness”. I’ve decided to include a series of posts that report on the issues and incidents that give rise to my desire to scream “Stop the Madness”. Here’s my first post in that series. As things unfold day to day, I’m sure there’ll be many more.

On September 8, in what the Department of Education is touting as a "historic" speech, President Obama will be talking directly to students across the U.S., live on the White House website. But some parents and conservatives are blasting the president, calling the speech an excuse to brainwash American children.
Last month, in an interview with 11-year-old student reporter Damon Weaver, the president announced his big back-to-school plan:

“I'm going to be making a big speech to young people all across the country about the importance of education; about the importance of staying in school; how we want to improve our education system and why it’s so important for the country. So I hope everybody tunes in."

The Cato Institute, a public-policy research foundation, issued a press release entitled "Hey Obama, Leave Those Kids Alone," criticizing the "troubling buzzwords" in the lesson plans:
"It's one thing for a president to encourage all kids to work hard and stay in school – that's a reasonable use of the bully pulpit. It's another thing entirely, however, to have the U.S. Department of Education send detailed instructions to public schools nationwide on how to glorify the president and the presidency, and push them to drive social change."

Both Presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan both gave speeches aimed specifically at students that were nationally televised. In 1989, Bush delivered a televised anti-drug speech, and Reagan's 1986 commencement speech and Q&A session was "beamed over public television into 171 school districts," according to the L.A. Times.
Across the blogosphere, comments covered the spectrum, from critical to supportive. Here are two that mirror my thoughts:

"The fact that people want to keep their kids from hearing the President of the United States encourage them to do well in school shows a true level of ignorance." — Firefey

"As an [sic] 9th grade student, I'd like to say that 1. I'm not sure why everyone is so scared that we'll all be brainwashed by the President ... 2. My school is one that is not allowing us to watch the speech, and quite frankly, I'm pissed." — Willbw

Stop the Madness!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Edward Moore Kennedy-R.I.P.

Edward Moore Kennedy: 1932 - 2009

Sen. Ted Kennedy died at 77 from brain cancer at his home in Hyannis Port, Mass., and was buried Saturday at Arlington National Cemetery, close to the grave sites of his slain brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.). At the time of his death, he had come to be viewed as the "voice" and "conscience" of American progressivism.

The Washington Post told his story:

As heir, through tragedy, to his accomplished brothers, Edward Kennedy became the patriarch of his clan and a towering figure in the U.S. Senate to a degree that neither John nor Robert Kennedy had achieved.

He served in the Senate through five of the most dramatic decades in the nation's history, becoming a lawmaker whose achievements, authority and collegiality invited comparisons to Daniel Webster, Henry Clay and other titans. But he was also beset by personal frailties and family misfortunes that became the stuff of tabloid headlines.

Instead of president, Edward Kennedy became a major presence in the Senate, to which he was elected largely on the basis of his name in 1962 and where he wore proudly the label of liberal.

For decades, Sen. Kennedy helped to shape the national debate. Defending the poor and politically disadvantaged, he staked out his party's positions on health care, education, civil rights, campaign finance reform and labor law. He also came to oppose the war in Vietnam, and, from the beginning, was an outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq.

With his death, America lost a vigorous supporter of clean energy and the environment. Ted Kennedy played a key role in passing numerous critical bills on behalf of environmental and clean energy causes, including measures on fuel economy, brownfields cleanup and revitalization, and home energy efficiency assistance for families of modest means.

The cause of his life, however, became health care -- changing the unacknowledged system of rationing under which we apportion care according to an individual's ability to pay. There are those who believe that if Kennedy had not been ailing, President Obama's attempt at health-care reform might be further along. But we sorely miss Kennedy's leadership on healthcare issues. He believed our nation has the responsibility to ensure that every American has the right to affordable health care.

Shortly before Senator Kennedy's death, President Barack Obama selected him as a 2009recipient of the Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

I'll always be encouraged by his words.

"The cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die."

Rest in peace. Teddy.

Sources: Washington Post, Reuters, The Fix Blog

The Ugly Face of Christianity

The ugly face of Christianity is on display for all to see.

Steven L. Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona hates President Barack Obama. Not enough to take up arms against him, but enough that he prays for his demise daily. Pastor Anderson delivered a fiery sermon in which he said he prays for President Obama to “die and go to hell”. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Someone needs to inform this “pastor” that this kind of prayer will never enter the throne room of God. Heck it won't even make it to the outer court.
Psalm 19:14 should give the good pastor pause to reflect on his words:

"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer."

I've heard my Pastor say that when there is hate in the heart, it will eventually come out in our words. This man is a prime example of a heart filled with hate and self righteousness. This type of so-called “Christian” has always been around, but just more hidden. It sure seems they are coming out more boldly and openly every day. What is equally disturbing is the fact that few Christians speak out against them. Could it be that many “Christians” silently agree with them? Their silence on the matter speaks volumes.

Get Over It!

Andrew M. Manis is associate professor of history at Macon State College in Georgia and wrote this for an editorial in the Macon Telegraph.

For much of the last forty years, ever since America "fixed" its race problem in the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, we white people have been impatient with African Americans who continued to blame race for their difficulties. Often we have heard whites ask, "When are African Americans finally going to get over it? Now I want to ask: "When are we White Americans going to get over our ridiculous obsession with skin color?

Recent reports that "Election Spurs Hundreds' of Race Threats, Crimes" should frighten and infuriate every one of us. Having grown up in "Bombingham," Alabama in the 1960s, I remember overhearing an avalanche of comments about what many white classmates and their parents wanted to do to John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Eventually, as you may recall, in all three cases, someone decided to do more than "talk the talk."

Since our recent presidential election, to our eternal shame we are once again hearing the same reprehensible talk I remember from my boyhood. We white people have controlled political life in the disunited colonies and United States for some 400 years on this continent. Conservative whites have been in power 28 of the last 40 years. Even during the eight Clinton years, conservatives in Congress blocked most of his agenda and pulled him to the right. Yet never in that period did I read any headlines suggesting that anyone was calling for the assassinations of presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, or either of the Bushes. Criticize them, yes. Call for their impeachment, perhaps. But there were no bounties on their heads. And even when someone did try to kill Ronald Reagan, the perpetrator was non-political mental case who wanted merely to impress Jody Foster.

But elect a liberal who happens to be Black and we're back in the sixties again. At this point in our history, we should be proud that we've proven what conservatives are always saying -- that in America anything is possible, EVEN electing a black man as president. But instead we now hear that school children from Maine to California are talking about wanting to "assassinate Obama."

Fighting the urge to throw up, I can only ask, "How long?" How long before we white people realize we can't make our nation, much less the whole world, look like us? How long until we white people can - once and for all - get over this hell-conceived preoccupation with skin color? How long until we white people get over the demonic conviction that white skin makes us superior? How long before we white people get over our bitter resentments about being demoted to the status of equality with non-whites?

How long before we get over our expectations that we should be at the head of the line merely because of our white skin? How long until we white people end our silence and call out our peers when they share the latest racist jokes in the privacy of our white-only conversations?

I believe in free speech, but how long until we white people start making racist loudmouths as socially uncomfortable as we do flag burners? How long until we white people will stop insisting that blacks exercise personal responsibility, build strong families, educate themselves enough to edit the Harvard Law Review, and work hard enough to become President of the United States, only to threaten to assassinate them when they do?

How long before we starting "living out the true meaning" of our creeds, both civil and religious, that all men and women are created equal and that "red and yellow, black and white" all are precious in God's sight?

Until this past November 4, I didn't believe this country would ever elect an African American to the presidency. I still don't believe I'll live long enough to see us white people get over our racism problem. But here's my three-point plan: First, everyday that Barack Obama lives in the White House that Black Slaves Built, I'm going to pray that God (and the Secret Service) will protect him and his family from us white people.

Second, I'm going to report to the FBI any white person I overhear saying, in seriousness or in jest, anything of a threatening nature about President Obama. Third, I'm going to pray to live long enough to see America surprise the world once again, when white people can "in spirit and in truth" sing of our damnable color prejudice, "We HAVE overcome."
It takes a Village to protect our President!!!