Monday, October 26, 2009

Rush Limbaugh's Fake-Out

Rush Limbaugh, who as you know seizes on every opportunity to blast President Barack Obama, ended up with egg on his face when he read an Internet satire piece that claimed Obama dissed the Constitution in his college thesis at Columbia University.

Limbaugh sounded off Friday on Obama's college thesis, titled "Aristocracy Reborn," in which he commented on the nation's Founding Fathers, the Constitution, and the distribution of wealth.

The only problem - the report was pure fiction.

When Limbaugh learned the report was a hoax, he corrected the record, alerting listeners that the quotes from the thesis had been fabricated. But he insisted the fabricated thesis was still in line with what the president thinks.

"I don't care if these quotes are made up," Limbaugh said. "I know Obama thinks it."

I guess Rush reads minds and can tell us what a person thinks.

It takes a man to admit when he's wrong or when he's wronged someone. I've seen the president offer his apologies on several occassions. Far be it from Rush to apologize for spreading falsehoods to his flock. He spread lies and fabrications on s regular basis. Need I say more?

"Dithering" Not Cheney's Style

This week former Vice President Cheney accused President Obama of “dithering” on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan. Cheney made these remarks while accepting an award from a conservative national security group, the Center for Security Policy. The conservative group gave Cheney its “Keeper of the Flame Award” for his stance on security and a strong military and a platform to criticize the Obama administration and its Afghanistan strategy.

History tells me that Cheney would rather make a quick move than think it out. That's how we got into the war in Iraq. Had the administration "dithered" instead of rolling full steam ahead into the greatest mistake in our country ever made, we would not be buried in debt for a war we should never have entered and our fine soldiers and military personnel would not have lost their lives pursuing Bush and Cheney's folly.

Conservative columnist George Will said the Bush administration could have used some “dithering” before they invaded Iraq. Will went on to say “A bit of dithering might have been in order before we went into Iraq in pursuit of non-existent weapons of mass destruction.” Will said “for a representative of the Bush administration to accuse someone of taking too much time is missing the point. We have much more to fear in this town from hasty than from slow government action.”

Why are we listening to Dick Cheney anyway? By the way, did anyone protest the award that Cheney was receiving? Keeper of the Flame? Yeah, right.

White House Boys Club? Bunk!

I heard yet another controversy sbout the president on the news. A reporter asked if his all male athletic outings weren't anti-women, leaving them out of networking opportunities. NBC White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie questioned him about this a few days ago, and his reply was "this is “bunk”. I watched the women on the View discuss the issue, some for and some against. I listened to the pundits bat the issue from one to another.

Now the issue is whether or not he should have invited a woman to join him on a golfing outing. (Melody Barnes was photographed carrying her clubs en route to the outing.) Is it a necessary clean-up gesture or not?

Enough I say- Stop the Madness!

Millions of men have their special time with the fellas, at football games, at local bars, at the gym, and numerous places in between. Yes, they aren't the president of the United States, but give the guy a break. He's no more guilty of hanging out with the fellas than most of the men in the real world.

If our national interest can stand a time out for a little game of basketball or golf, then let the president relax with the guys and refresh himself before returning to the fray. He certainly needs some "me" time, just like everyone else.

A FOX in the (White) House News

What would you do with a person who lies, cheats, distorts the truth and obviously works against you at every opportunity? I’m betting you’d call the person out on his/her behavior and have as little to do with them as possible. That the situation with President Obama and Fox “News”.

All year, FOX has worked 24/7 to block President Obama's agenda—repeating lies about "death panels," promoting Tea Party protests, and whipping up fake political scandals.

Now, President Obama is fighting back. The White House communications director said FOX is a "wing of the Republican Party...let's not pretend they're a news network." To draw attention to its biased coverage, President Obama will not appear on FOX for the rest of this year.

Democrats often appear on FOX in hopes of reaching out to conservative viewers. But FOX cuts off their mic, distorts what they say, or runs biased headlines at the bottom of the screen. In the end, Democrats always lose on FOX.

FOX insists there's a difference between its news shows and its right-wing opinion shows with Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and others.

But in August, FOX's so-called news shows "aired 22 clips of town hall meeting attendees opposed" to Obama's health care plans and zero in support. CNN and MSNBC were more fair and balanced.

In another "news" story, FOX passed off a GOP press release as its own research—typo and all.

FOX executives now describe the channel as "the voice of opposition" to Obama's agenda. FOX president Roger Ailes—a former adviser to Nixon, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush—said, "I see this as the Alamo."

Whether the media and the public agrees with the President’s stand against Fox “News” or not, I applaud his willingness to bring this issue out into the open and highlight his position that Fox “News” as just an “arm of the Republican Party”.
Meanwhile, Fox ratings continue to soar. Go figure!

Sources: New York Times, New York Daily News, Media Matters for America,

Friday, October 23, 2009

All Eyes on the FLOTUS

The First Lady, Michelle Obama, is expecting another busy week. How's that possible for a person with "no official duties"?

This week the White House released the much-anticipated official Obama family photo. The portrait was taken in the Green Room of the White House on September 1 by famed Vanity Fair photographer Annie Leibovitz. The seated and beaming first family looks happy and relaxed, with Sasha and Malia Obama each draping an arm over mom and dad. Michelle Obama style-watchers may want to note she’s not in a sleeveless dress: The bare arms in her solo official portrait caused a minor stir when it was released last February.

The portrait adds to a flurry of Michelle Obama publicity this week. On Wednesday she hosted a "healthy kids fair" for approximately 100 Washington D.C.-area schoolchildren on the South Lawn of the White House. During the event, part of her ongoing effort to educate children about the importance of proper diet and exercise, the first lady wowed onlookers by swiveling a Hula-Hoop 142 times before it finally hit the ground. Not quite done there, Mrs. Obama also took off her shoes to run an obstacle course with hurdles.

Also this week, a new USA Today/Gallup poll shows that the American people view Michelle much more favorably than they do her husband or Vice President Joe Biden, a change from the numbers just after the first family took up residence in the White House. Approval numbers for the president, meanwhile, have been sliding; the USAToday/Gallup poll notes that Obama is viewed favorably by 55 percent of respondents, down from 68 perecent just after the election.

What's next for Michelle? How about an appearance on late night television on Leno's new show. Mrs. Obama's appearance with Leno is notable but certainly not unusual, as former first lady Laura Bush appeared as a guest on “The Tonight Show” when it was hosted by Leno during her husband's presidency.

All these things might seem like fun, but some of the First lady's time is spent debunking false or misleading information. In a recent blitz of coverage, a minor uproar over the first lady's staff size ensued. One critic at accused the president's wife of employing an "unprecedented number of staffers" for someone who "doesn’t perform any official duties," while a widely circulated chain email reported that "there has never been anyone in the White House at any time that has created such an army of staffers whose sole duties are the facilitation of the First Lady’s social life." Many other critics of the Obama administration expressed similar sentiments.

Michelle Obama's press secretary, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, confirmed that 24 was an accurate count of staffers working for the current first lady. So just what does a staff of 24 do for Michelle Obama? Well, for starters there are the 32,000 pieces of mail that have flooded the East Wing since Michelle Obama took occupancy in January, but the main official duty of the first lady is to tend to the care and maintenance of the White House and its seemingly endless social functions. Of course some first ladies, like Michelle Obama, maintain a higher profile than others, and with that comes the need for people to help write speeches, arrange travel and security details, handle media inquiries, etc.

As far as Michelle Obama's staff size being "unprecedented" in modern times, this appears to be factually inaccurate. According to the Washington Post, the Bush White House also had 16 people on staff whose official titles included the term "first lady" working for Laura Bush, and a recent AP story placed her total number of staffers at between 24 and 26. The same AP report also noted that Hillary Clinton had up to 19 staffers, while Lady Bird Johnson and Jacqueline Kennedy had 30 and 40, respectively. To that end,, another Web site dedicated to checking the facts on issues prominent in the public discourse, described the claims of Michelle Obama's “unprecedented” staff as "grossly inaccurate" and "on par with her predecessor's."

Just another quiet week in the White House, but I believe Michelle Obama is well suited to handle her "job" as First Lady of the United States.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Secret Service: Protecting the President

Questions abound about the Secret Service’s ability to protect President Obama. An internal congressional report on the subject was leaked to the Boston Globe. The report says that deep budget cuts, coupled with a drastic increase in threats to the president gives rise to questions about the Secret Service adequately performing its assigned duties. Their mission is to provided protection for the president and other high-profile leaders, protecting the country’s financial machinery, and investigating financial crimes.

Presently, the Secret Service reports to the Department of Homeland Security. The agency was established in 1865 to combat the rise in counterfeiting. After President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901, the Secret Service assumed the duties of protecting national leaders. After Congress passed a law in 1917 making any threat against the president a federal crime, the agency became responsible for investigating such threats.

Reports indicate that threats against president Obama are up 400 percent from the number of threats against former President George W. Bush. The agency’s staff has only increased by 5.3 percent. Hate groups increased 35 percent in recent years and the discontent tired over the election of an African-American president is fueling the rise in threats. The growth of modern technology seems to be enhancing the reach of extremist groups, enabling them to spread their message of hate. The social acceptability of hate today, as demonstrated in the Republican Tea Parties. In addition, the anonymity of the Internet allows an easy exchange of the expressions of hate.

In response to the Boston Globe’s report, the Secret Service issued statements denying any decreased capacity to carry out its missions. It called the report inaccurate and lacking in vital information.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Free Enterprise aka Money Talks-Limbaugh Follow Up

Rush Limbaugh's bid to become a partial owner of the St. Louis Rams failed Thursday, after the NFL-- and many others --expressed concern that the radio host's incendiary commentary about race wouldn't be good for the league. Columnists on the left joke that his rejection is a perfection demonstration of the free market at work, while the right replies with accusations of a political witch hunt. (I thought conservatives were supposed to worship the free market and individual rights).

Some claim the right is being marginalized. The editors of The Wall Street Journal say it's not racism, but Limbaugh's "outspoken political conservatism" that liberals want to censor. "Rush Limbaugh lets his listeners blow off steam and then get on with the rest of their day. But if the people who claim to worry about such things want to see a truly angry right develop in this country, they should continue to remain silent while the left tries to drive Rush Limbaugh and others out of American political life."

At The Root, David Swerdlick says the markets have spoken, and suggests that conservatives swallow the "bitter pill" of their own medicine. "Just like Limbaugh's business depends on white male angst, football is a business that aggressively markets--and guards--a product dependent on black male talent. Limbaugh's ouster wasn't censorship. It was a cartel sensing they'd hitched their wagon to the wrong ass."

At The American Prospect, Adam Serwer tries to cut through the noise. "The players and NFL officials who spoke up didn't complain that Limbaugh was a Republican, they didn't even complain about his 'views.' They complained about actual things he said about black people that made him an inappropriate candidate to own a team in an organization with such a large contingent of African Americans." Serwer says conservatives are too often "incapable of identifying actual racist behavior." And he's unimpressed with the debate so far. "While the right was focused on debunking racist things Limbaugh didn't say, they pretty much ignored Limbaugh's record of racist commentary, which includes not only a habit of comparing black athletes to gang members but a general hostility toward black people."

The editors of the National Review calls the attack against Limbaugh "hateful," and says it's part of Democrats' "McCarthyism" against conservatives. "Baseless accusations of racism are modern Democrats' McCarthyism. And one cannot help but notice that other critics of the Obama administration, such as those who rallied against its health-care power grab over the summer, are being denounced by the same slavish media as racists." Limbaugh isn't racist, they write, but was "punished" for talking about race in ways that were "unexceptional and obvious."

Sources: Liberals Thank the Free Market for Shooting Down Limbaugh's Rams Bid, Mara Gay, The Atlantic Wire

Why the NFL Sacked Limbaugh 27Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post

Limbaugh and the Political Left The Editors, The Wall Street Journal

Rush Rammed The Editors, The National Review

Confusion in Dittoland Adam Serwer, The American Prospect

Photo: Huffington Post

Another Cheney in the News

Recently Liz Cheney Perry, daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney, has been very visible and audible, beating the conservative drum like a wind-up monkey, on a Bash Obama media campaign. Now her sister Mary hits the news as it’s announced that she is pregnant with her second child. The staunch Republican, 40, and her partner Heather Poe expect the baby in mid-to-late November, according to a source close to the Cheney family. Mary and Heather, a former UPS employee, have been together 17 years.

Cheney and Poe’s first child, Samuel David Cheney, was born in May of 2007. They declared the pregnancy and birth a private matter and declined to answer questions about it.

Mary Cheney has played a prominent role in her father's political life, from campaigning as a child through managing his re-election effort in 2004. She also made a controversial name for herself in marketing Coors beer to the gay community, and most currently worked as a marketing executive for America Online. It was also reported that Mary Cheney will be leaving the communications firm where she has worked to take maternity leave and to begin a new consulting firm with her father and also sister, Liz.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Watching Ensign As The Shoe Drops

Last week the other shoe finally dropped for embattled Sen. John Ensign. The New York Times ran a lengthy piece detailing how the senator secured a lobbying position for the husband of his mistress, Cynthia Hampton. Doug Hampton was co-chief of staff for Ensign’s federal office, as well as the senator’s best friend, and Cynthia was a campaign staffer before both Hampton’s left Team Ensign in the wake of the affair. The real news here is that Ensign may have knowingly helped Doug Hampton violate a 1-year ban on lobbying by former senate staffers.

News that the senator would face a Senate Ethics Committee investigation, and possibly Justice Department and IRS investigations as well, rocked the Nevada GOP last week. While Sue Lowden shockingly stood by her man, many other Republicans rushed to eat their own, calling on Ensign to resign. The calls were echoed by Nevada media. Meanwhile, Ensign’s approval numbers have plummeted, with 44 percent of respondents saying they would definitely vote to replace the scandal-plagued senator.

And since Ensign remains mum on the affair and says he plans to stay in office, we’ll just have to wait for the investigation (investigations?) into the affair to reveal just how many shoes this guy has to drop.

Source: Reprint from Elephant Watch (on the Real Republican Party) date October 14, 2009

The Justice Department is expected to decide within weeks whether to pursue a criminal probe into the relationship between Ensign (R-Nev.) and the staffer’s husband, and two prominent Washington defense attorneys say prosecutors are likely to find Ensign’s case irresistible.

Read more:


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Who in their right mind would consider it appropriate to shoot at a target representing a sitting U.S. congresswoman who happens to be a mother of three and a breast cancer survivor? I guess South Fla. Republican Robert Lowry finally saw the err in his ways and apologized for “the Mistake”.

The incident took place at a meeting of the Southeast Broward Republican Club. The members met at a gun club to demonstrate their right to bear arms and took target practice at "cut-outs of a Muslim holding a rocket-propelled grenade launcher." The targets wore a traditional Arab head scarf called a "kaffeyed".

Then some guy named Robert Lowry, who is running against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the next election, shot a human-shaped target that had the letters "DWS" written next to the head. Lowry said he didn't know who wrote Wasserman Schultz's initials on his target, but said he knew they were there before he started shooting. He initially described it as a "joke," but after answering several questions, he said it "was a mistake" to use a target labeled "DWS."

Congresswoman Schultz said she would not dignify the incident with a response.

All I can say is "Stop the Madness"!

Congratulations, Mr. President

James 3:16
"for where envy and self-seeking exist,
confusion and every evil things are there."

What's with all the controversy over President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize?

Three members of the five-member Nobel panel that award President Obama the 2009 Peace prize defended their choice to the Associated Press, saying they expected the surprise and criticism. "We simply disagree that he has done nothing," committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said. "He got the prize for what he has done." Jagland named Obama’s work to improve relations between the West and the Muslim world, and also decision to scale back the anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe. "All these things have contributed to—I wouldn't say a safer world—but a world with less tension," Jagland said.

In a recent online commentary titled "A Prize to Far", Christopher Buckley deemed to write a letter directed to the Nobel Panel from the president. The mock reply includes such gems as:

...I feel that were I to accept the award, it would ultimately debase the coinage of the medal.

...we are still in the first quarter of this game, and to accept this award would be to declare a kind of victory, and that, in my view, would be be inappropriate, presumptuous, and tempting karma.

So, to the Nobel committee I say, in all humility, hold the gold and check back with me in say three years.

Meantime, takk fir mal. Or as we say in America, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

My take on Buckley's letter? Didn't like it and didn't agree with the premise which in a nut shell says 'catch me later".

I guess I agree with Daily Beast blogger Walter Russell Mead..."What's Wrong With Winning?"

...Yes, he's got more words than deeds to his credit. But President Obama's Nobel is a reminder of America's unparalleled power to set the world’s agenda.

And really, this peace prize is more than a compliment to President Obama. At a time when the talking heads and the pundits worldwide are obsessed with the precipitous decline of American power, this award testifies to the extraordinary and unparalleled power of the United States to set the world’s agenda.
It is true that President Obama has received the prize more for his words (which are many) than for his deeds (which, so far, are still few). But that only underlines the degree to which the words of an American president have the power to shape events—especially compared to the competition...

All this is good, and it’s also good that the Nobel win wipes out the Olympic loss. Last week, everyone was writing off Obama’s vaunted international popularity. He was toast, past his sell-by date, jumping the shark. Now he’s back; Oslo returns what Copenhagen took. Good for him, good for us.

All I can say is Congratulations, Mr. President. I'm proud of all you've accomplished in the first nine months of your presidency. I know you'll continue to do great things, so don't sweat the small stuff.

Psalm 27:14
Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait , I say, on the Lord."

A NFL Team for Rush Limbaugh?

Rick Morrissey's article in the Chicsgo Tribune goes like this:

"Trying to envision a scenario in which the NFL allows Rush Limbaugh to own part of the Rams requires a runaway imagination and quite possibly some psychedelic drugs.

It's not going to happen. There is no way the league lets the conservative radio talk show host own a piece of the Rams, even if that piece is a blade of grass from the team's practice field. No way."

Morrisey also says "People have a First Amendment right to say just about anything in this country. But there is nothing in the First Amendment that says a business has to accept someone who might be anathema to more than half of its workers. No one has a constitutional right to own an NFL team."

So what's all the controversy about Rush Limbaugh wanting to buy an NFL team?

Let's look at the facts:

Fact #1. Some folks object to the hate and bigotry that Rush Limbaugh spews n the public air ways. But, some folks love him and agree with every word. In fact they love it so much that they tune in faithfully to his programs. His ratings soar, his contracts keep getting more lucrative and guess what...he has the money to finance his dream of owning an NFL team.

Fact #2. In America, every person's right to free speech is protected by our constitution. Spewing hatred and bigotry can even get you elected to Congress, so how can it keep you from making a purchase that you have the money to make?

Fact #3. So Rush made some comments about the NFL and some of its players that some folks don't like and disagree with. They say he'll be divisive and create a negative atmosphere. Well, that's his trademark and his claim to fame. It's what keeps his wallet fat and his checkbook ready to buy an NFL team.

Fact #4. They tell me this is America...Land of the free and home of the brave. They say we don't discriminate against folks...not based on their race, sex, national origin, age, etc. I believe we don't discriminate based on how a person uses his right to free speech.

Enough about Rush Limbaugh. I know I don't want to be like him or even talk about him. I'll remember what this country stands for and it's goals, aims and principles. Even if we fall short of those goals, aims, and principles at times, I'd like to think we'll keep trying to achieve them. One thing I'm sure of though...Money Talks and Rush has the money! Of course, time will tell it all. Whether he gets the NFL deal or not, he'll still win. He can whine about being a victim forever!

Olympia Snowe-Miles to Go Before I Sleep

The Senate Finance Committee easily approved a sweeping overhaul of the nation's health-care system, clearing the way for President Obama's top domestic initiative to advance to a historic debate before the full Senate. The vote in favor of the bill was 14 to 9.

Republican Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine broke with her party and joined all 13 Democrats on the committee in voting for the package, which would spend $829 billion over the next decade to make health insurance affordable for millions of Americans who would otherwise go without coverage.

"Is this bill all that I would want? Far from it," Snowe said. "But when history calls, history calls."

She added: "There are many miles to go in this legislative journey. . . . People do have concerns about what we will do with reform. But at the same time, they want us to continue working. And that is what my vote to report this bill out of committee represents."

President Obama praised Snowe for her "political courage" and "seriousness of purpose."

"We are now closer than ever before to passing health-care reform, but we're not there yet," he said. "Now's not the time to pat ourselves on the back. . . . Now's the time to dig in and work even harder to get this done."

Snowe entered politics in 1973, when she was elected to fill the seat of her late husband, state Rep. Peter Snowe, who died in a car accident that year. As one of the only Republican moderates left in the Senate, Snowe has been at the center of some of the upper chamber's most divisive policy debates and has helped craft compromises on some of the nation's most polarizing issues.

Senator Snowe has a history of being in the middle of things. Throughout her career in public office, she has shown a willingness to defy her party’s leadership. Snowe supports abortion rights, opposes drilling in the Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and has backed proposals long-heralded as bedrocks of the Democratic platform, including adding prescription drug benefits to Medicare and raising the minimum wage. She was the swing vote in the Senate Finance Committee during 2009 debate over President Obama's health-care reform package.

Snowe has a history of breaking barriers. In 1978, at the age of 31, she became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. She is the only woman in history to serve in both houses of her state legislatures and both chambers of Congress. These accomplishments prompted Forbes magazine in 2005 to name Snowe the 54th most powerful woman in the world.

Time magazine named her one of the "Ten Best Senators" in 2006.

Snowe’s dedication to her constituents has helped her maintain a loyal base at home in Maine. She won re-election to a third term in 2008 with 61 percent of the vote. She is up for re-election in 2012.

The battle of Health Care Reform looms on with "miles to go" before the issue is finalized. Meanwhile, the fate of millions of Americans hangs in the balance.

Photo Sources: Senate Finance Committee-Harry Hamburg/Associated Press; Wikipedia
Official Photo of Olympia Snowe

New York Times, Washington Post, Wikipedia,

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tpaw Gets Ready to Run

Clearly ramping up his bid for the Republican nomination in 2012, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) unveiled a detailed list of state and national operatives -- who will serve as the core of his political inner circle as he moves toward a presidential bid in 2012.

At first glance, the biggest strengths of Pawlenty's operation are the presidential-level experience of the team and the strong connections both Nelson and Taylor have to Iowa -- almost certain to be the first 2012 vote in the country in 2012. The only obvious gaping hole in Pawlenty's inner circle is on the money front. Aside from Strong, there is no financial heavy hitter who can begin to rally the major donors from the two Bush campaigns and, to a lesser extent, the McCain campaign, behind Pawlenty.

Still, Romney's demonstrated fundraising ability -- and his vast personal wealth -- mean that one of the first hurdles Tpaw will have to clear is to show he can collect the sort of cash that can keep him withing shouting distance of the former Massachusetts governor. And, with President Barack Obama -- and the $750 million he raised in 2008 -- looming in the general election, you can bet a candidate's ability to raise heaps of cash will be much on the mind of the Republican chattering class heading into the 2012 primary season.

In MN barely half of those polled approve of the job he's doing, and 55% said that they don't think he should run. Overall, there seems to be a feeling that he's still governor and should be attending to the difficult state of economic affairs here and not his own political ambitions, even if he is out the door in a year.
One Minn. voter left the following comment on a recent blog:

Speaking as a Minnesota voter, I wish Pawlenty would do a Palin and resign now. He's made such a mess of our state budget, university and K-12 funding, health care and transportation systems (remember the I35 W bridge?) that the sooner he leaves the better.

As for his presidential chances, we just spent 8 years with a former governor who had no international experience and thought he knew everything. How did that turn out for you?

Mark McKinnon posted the following comments on his Daily Beast post:

He was supposed to be the centrist, progressive reformer, but in an unfortunate testament, I fear, to the way things are and they way they are likely to be in the 2012 campaign, Pawlenty’s recent messages include defending Joe Wilson’s “liar” outburst and attacking President Obama’s speech to students.
Next thing you know, he’ll be calling the president a jerk.

It's a long way to the 2012 Election, so we'll just keep our eyes on sleepy eyed Tpaw and see what happens.

Getting to Know Alan Grayson

Most freshmen congressmen tend to keep their heads down until they learn the lay of the land, but not Florida Democrat Alan Grayson. He’s been making waves since he arrived in Washington in January. He really drew attention last week when he declared on the House floor, that the Republicans’ health-care plan amounted to “Don’t get sick,” and “If you do get sick, die quickly.” Another shot heard around the world.

Republicans rushed to demand that Grayson apologize just as Joe Wilson did after his rude outburst at the president during a joint session of congress. They claim Grayson’s behavior was just as untoward as Wilson’s, a faulty comparison at best. Well, they got a quick decisive answer from Rep. Grayson. He said he wanted to apologize “to the dead and their families that we haven’t voted sooner to end this holocaust in America.” Okay, so using the word “holocaust’ was a poor choice of words but, the sentiment in his statement is unyielding. Grayson, who is Jewish and says he has relatives who died in the Holocaust, said he wrote the letter to address the concerns his comments caused.

"In no way did I mean to minimize the Holocaust," Grayson wrote in the letter obtained by "I regret the choice of words, and I will not repeat it."

I decided to find out about this guy, just as I investigated Joe Wilson, Rick Scott, Max Baucus, Michelle Bachman, and others. Grayson grew up “in the tenements” in the Bronx, attended Harvard Law School, and was the first president of IDT Corp., a telecommunications company, before returning to the practice of law. Recently he has specialized in whistleblower cases targeting companies that allegedly profited from the war in Iraq. He worked from a home office in pink Orlando mansion, driving an aging Cadillac with anti-administration bumper stickers such as “Bush Lied, People Died.”

Shortly after his election, the 51-year-old responded to radio host Rush Limbaugh’s remark that he hoped President Obama would fail by calling Limbaugh a “has-been hypocrite loser,” adding for good measure that “Limbaugh actually was more lucid when he was a drug addict.” Mocking Republicans who apologized after criticizing Limbaugh, Grayson issued an “apology” of his own: “I’m sorry that Limbaugh is one sorry excuse for a human being.” Grayson has used his perch on the House Financial Services Committee to skewer Federal Reserve officials, pressing them on how their money is being spent and forming an unlikely alliance with Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul to demand an audit of the Fed. Some of his interrogations have become YouTube favorites.

Somewhere along the way, Grayson found time to get rich. Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, ranked him 12th among all members of Congress based on financial disclosure forms, with a minimum net worth of $31.12 million. Grayson was among those pushing hard to restrict bonuses of companies that take bailout money. He’s become a vocal member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. In February, Grayson issued a statement demanding that Bernard Madoff go to jail, rather than awaiting trail staying in his penthouse ‘free to drink martini, and watch the sun rise,’ while his victims are ‘innocent men in a living hell,’.

After Grayson’s comments on the House floor, Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R., Tenn.) said, “That is about the most mean-spirited partisan statement that I’ve ever heard made on this floor.” Still, Republicans have repeatedly accused Democrats of planning “death panels” as part of their health overhaul. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.) on the House floor on July 28, suggested that that the Democrats’ plan would “put seniors in the position of being put to death by their government.”

I’m sure this isn’t the last well hear from Alan Grayson.

Our President and the Olympics

President Obama drew sharp criticism from Republican leaders for immersing himself in Chicago's effort to capture its bid for the 2016 Olympics.

"Our country needs the president's undivided attention on the urgent issues facing American families today: rising unemployment, soaring health care costs, winning the war in Afghanistan and dealing with Iran's nuclear threat," Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said.

Despite the criticism, the president decided to travel to the Danish capital to lend his personal popularity and the prestige of his office to his adopted home town's effort. He was the first U.S. president to lobby the Olympic committee. Chicago's swift rejection was a disappointment for Obama and he was subdued when he returned to the White House after his whirlwind trip.

"I believe it is always a worthwhile endeavor to promote and boost the United States of America and invite the world to see what we're all about," he told reporters in the Rose Garden.

I wasn't surprised by the criticism from the opposition. Anything the President does results in attacks from the Republicans. Of course, no one focused on former president George Bush's four day trip to the Olympics. We were still fighting two wars in foreign countries and facing an economic downturn at home. Obviously, the GOP doesn't give a damn about healthcare reform. All they can say is "no".

Daily Beast blogger Mark McKinnon reported shock and disappointment on the comments from conservative radio talk-show host Mark Levin on this issue.
"I was shocked by what I heard. He was spewing streams of hate-filled venom at Obama that were jaw-dropping. His favorite epithet for the president is ”jerk.” And he was reveling in Obama’s failure."

Personally, I was sickened by the obvious glee that Rush Limbaugh displayed over what he considered a personal failure by Obama and we all know by his own statements that he hopes the president fails. Still when all things are considered, the loss was a loss for the United States against a foreign competitor. The jobs and revenue losses were potential American jobs and monies that the heartland could surely have used. For example, a Chicago Olympics would have been a boon for the tourism industry in Milwaukee and for the state of Wisconsin. I marvel at the conservatives insensitivity and lack of support for Chicago, an American city and the country at large.

I admire the president for doing what he thought was right and supporting the cause of an American city in its bid for a potential positive focal point for our country.

I watched the film of the jubilation of the winning city and rejoiced with them in their success. More than 30,000 people gathered on Rio's iconic Copacabana Beach to watch the results on giant televisions. When the final decision came, silvery confetti sprayed out into the crowd, and people hugged, danced, sang and wept. It reminded me of the celebration in Grant Park on election night and of Barack Obama's victory.

Then I thought of the pack of wolves liking their chops at Chicago's loss and mocking the president's efforts to assist. Guess they still can't get over the fact that he is the President of the United States and still are trying to cope with their loss. As the kids at play often say, "to bad, so sad". I say, "get over it."

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The “wheeling and dealing” in the Congress over healthcare reform brings to mind Sergio Leone’s 1966 Italian epic spaghetti Western “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. The movie’s plot dealt with a trio of opponents forced to work together to find a treasure of confederate gold. Ultimately, the men have no problem lying, cheating and killing to accomplish their goal. There was no honor among thieves. Yeah, unfortunately, that sounds like some of the members of our Congress. Take a look at some of the characters the director was working with:

• The Good-Clint Eastwood, the Man with No Name (Blondie) a subdued, cocksure bounty hunter who competes with Tuco and Angel Eyes to find the buried gold.

• The Bad-Lee Van Cleef, Angel Eyes-ruthless unfeeling sociopathic mercenary who kills anyone in his path.

• The Ugly-Eli Wallach, Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez, a comical, oafish, fast talking bandit.

Here are the Congressional players who answered the casting call who can be considered for roles in the production:

Max Baucus, D- MT and chairman of Senate Finance committee. He dreftly skirted dission of single payer proposals in his committee and voted against a public option. Baucus has been criticized for his ties to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and has been one of the largest beneficiaries in the Senate of campaign contributions from these industries.

John Davison "Jay" Rockefeller IV, Democratic Senator from West Virginia and chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care. Rockefeller supports a public option as the only way the power of insurance companies could be reversed. He says insurance companies are "rapacious... are getting away with banditry, and they revel in it… Who comes first, the insurance companies or the American people?"

Charles "Chuck" Schumer,D- NY is an outspoken advocate of a public option.

Blanche Lincoln, D Arkansas and a member of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care. In September 2009, Lincoln came out against the public option in the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. Lincoln is seeking a third term in November of 2010.

Republican Senators, Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care: Orrin Hatch, UT; Olympia Snowe, ME; John Ensign, NV; Mike Enzi, WY; John Cornyn, TX; John Kyl, AZ,; Jim Bunning KY; Mike Crapo, ID; Chuck Grassley. IA. True to the Party of “NO”, each of the aforementioned Senators voted against a public option in the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.

As the plot thickens, I’d love to tell you who I cast as “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”, but I’d rather hear your choices for each role.