title>Lady Liberty Defended
“Thank you, President Valerie Brown [of Sonoma County, Calif.] Don’t we all take pride in Valerie Brown recently being named County Official of the Year for her advocacy on behalf of all of America’s counties? Thank you, Valerie. Her wealth of experience – as a mayor, a state legislator, and an educator and a county executive - makes her an innovative and effective leader for the future. At this time of great challenges, her understanding of the different needs of NACo’s diverse counties is essential.Mrs. Pelosi, there is no "fog of controversy". It is clear what the Senate or House bills will do and that is fundamentally change the country. It is NOT what we want. It is not what we deserve. It will help only to destroy this nation.
“I understand many other county officials are here from California. Any Californians to be heard from here? Thank you for coming the distance to Washington and for going the distance for our constituents. And I want to acknowledge all of you who are here.
“I had the privilege last year to acknowledge the work of the Executive Committee of NACo by welcoming them to the Speaker’s office in the Capitol. This year, I have the even greater privilege to come to you to speak to all of the members of NACo.
“On the 75th anniversary of the National Association of Counties, your leadership is more vital and more necessary than ever. You know that. I just want you to know that we in Congress do too.
“The diversity of America’s counties represents the diversity of America. And yet, you share common responsibilities, whatever the diversity. America’s counties are leading on the issues most important to Americans: the education of our children, the health of their families, and the security of our communities.
“Your common responsibilities bring you to Washington with a common cause: to strengthen the partnership between America’s counties and the federal government. It is in that spirit that I have come here today. It’s in that spirit that we will work together to, as your theme says, to ‘find solutions in tough times.’
“I noticed as I was reading your program, it is pretty intense what you have been through this weekend and the beginning of this week, that you have one workshop that was ‘Influencing Congress from Home’—the cyber influence, very, very important but let me say how important your presence here in Washington is, too. It is very important you have come to all the distance, all the diversity, to make your cumulative impact on the Congress. Please don’t underestimate how important your visit is to us.
“I know that you sometimes have felt that your partnership with Washington has not been a balanced one – that burdens have been put on you that you simply cannot fulfill. These difficult economic times have made your challenges even greater. We all know that.
“Together, here in this room, we have the opportunity to ensure that the partnership between America’s counties and the federal government is strong, productive, and balanced.
“Just a little more than a year ago, our President Barack Obama stood on the steps of the Capitol, just a little more than a year ago and called for swift, bold action now to restore our economic growth. In his budget, he set out a blueprint founded on three pillars for our prosperity: a highly-educated workforce, the future, a clean energy economy, good-paying jobs, and quality, affordable health care for all Americans. And he saw these critical building blocks as engines of job creation and economic growth.
“Answering that call, and responding to the needs of America’s counties, we passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, creating and saving up to 2 million jobs so far, and more to come.
“You know best what the Recovery Act means to American’s counties. I have traveled the country, visited many counties to dedicate, groundbreak, observe funding coming into counties, tens of millions of dollars in some counties, over $100 million in some counties, hundreds of millions of dollars. For the Port of Houston, for a highway in Colorado, whether it is keeping teachers on the job, cops on the street, we believe that the Recovery Act was essential to keep us from an even worse recession. But in fact, it has created or saved 2 million jobs.
“Of particular interest to America’s counties – we increased FMAP, providing immediate relief to counties in the 27 states that contribute to Medicaid, and shored up the safety net for families in difficult times. We provided $624 million for counties in Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grants—and I know that is important to many of you, you have told me—to promote energy efficiency and conservation while creating jobs and lowering energy costs. I am committed to ensuring that this initiative is strong and ongoing. We have $178 million in Community Development Block Grants that helped you to expand community services, and modernize housing and wastewater systems. Transportation investments and broadband access that have strengthened business opportunities close to home.
“You’ve seen the results, many of you, you have told me about them and again, as I say, you have told me on the site right in your own counties. But I want to just tell you, give you a perspective from here as to what the difference the Recovery Act has made nationally to our economy. Consider this:
“In the last quarter of the Bush Administration, what was reported in the first quarter of last year, America’s GDP, the rate of growth of GDP was a minus 6.4 percent. Minus 6.4 percent. In the equivalent quarter of the Obama Administration one year later, it is at plus 5.9 percent. A swing of over 12 percent in the GDP. This is the fastest rate that we have seen in a long time.
“When we were debating the recovery bill a year ago, a year and a month ago, the stock market was about 6,500. Yesterday it closed 10,500—a swing of 4,000 points.
“Just last week, we learned that America’s manufacturing base grew for the seventh straight month – and is now at its second highest level in years.
“And think of this – jobs. In the first three months of 2009, but let me just state one month so that we can compare them. In January of 2009, the last month of the Bush Administration before we passed the Recovery Act, 779,000 Americans lost their jobs. 779,000 for January of 2009. This January 2010, 20,000 Americans lost their jobs—far too many, we want to move to the plus side of course—but a difference of over three quarters of a million people in just that one month. Thank you, American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
“But our work is far from complete. We know that. Congress will stay focused on our top priority: putting Americans to work. And I said putting Americans to work, I didn’t say putting Americans back to work. Because we have far too people who will have no job, never had a job that they would go back too.
“So we must invest in training, apprenticeships, and vocational education for the chronically unemployed so we put all of America back to work—some back to work, some newly to work. I think you see this in your counties where we have some young people who have not had the opportunity that America must afford them so that as our economy grows with training and vocational training that many more people will participate in the economic prosperity that we see for our country.
“Just last week, we passed the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, that’s HIRE—Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, we write these acronyms—another step forward in our fight to put more Americans back to work.
“With $15 billion in critical investments, this bill includes: extension of the Highway Trust Fund. And though the investment is $15 billion and that is paid for, it will unleash tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure investment in your communities. And for small business, we can never do enough and more needs to be done but in this particular bill: a payroll tax holiday for businesses that hire unemployed workers, to create some 300,000 jobs and an income tax credit of $1,000 for businesses that retain these employees. It’s very specific and targeted. And then we have specific support to small businesses with tax credits and accelerated write-offs.
“This bill is one key element, just one step of our broader agenda to expand lending to small businesses, build the infrastructure of the future, support job training, keep police, firefighters, and teachers on the job.
“Tomorrow, Congressman George Miller will introduce his local jobs bill, which allows for county governments and municipalities to retain workers. I think Valerie had a hand in this. I know he is grateful to the input of NACo in crafting this significant legislation. We believe at this time that nothing is more critical to the long-term economic security of American families and to our economy than comprehensive health care reform, health insurance reform.
“As you are in Washington this week, we stand at the doorstep of history, ready to realize a centuries old dream, started by a Republican President, Teddy Roosevelt. He was the one who started this country thinking in this direction, and we are deeply in his debt. But, we are a hundred years late. A century old dream of health care for all, and we will be prepared to send the bill to President Obama’s desk that ensures affordability for the middle class, accountability for the insurance companies, and access for millions more Americans, tens of millions more.
“Nobody knows better than you the strain on hospitals that never turned a patient away, and health care providers grappling with the challenges of the uninsured and shrinking reimbursement. You know as well as anyone, that our current system is unsustainable. It’s unsustainable to individuals and their families. It’s unsustainable for small businesses. It’s unsustainable for your communities. It’s unsustainable for our state, local, and national budgets.
“President Obama said, one year ago, when he called the first bipartisan, on March 5th of last year, the first bipartisan House and Senate meeting together with many outside stakeholders together at the White House, to find a way for us to come together. And at that time, he said: ‘Health care reform is entitlement reform.’ We cannot sustain the upward spiral of the increases in health care and what that means in Medicare and what it means in Medicaid. So from the standpoint of our national budget, and for your budgets, the current system, as I said, is unsustainable.
“Again, it’s unaffordable for families, individuals and families, for businesses of any size, and it is a cost to our economy. Imagine an economy where people could follow their aspirations, where they could be entrepreneurial, where they could take risks professionally because personally their families health care needs are being met. Where they could be self-employed or start a business, not be job-locked in a job because they have health care there, and if they went out on their own it would be unaffordable to them, but especially true, if someone has a child with a pre-existing condition. So when we pass our bill, never again will people be denied coverage because they have a pre-existing condition.
“We have to do this in partnership, and I wanted to bring up to date on where we see it from here. The final health care legislation that will soon be passed by Congress will deliver successful reform at the local level. It will offer paid for investments that will improve health care services and coverage for millions more Americans. It will make significant investments in innovation, prevention, wellness and offer robust support for public health infrastructure. It will dramatically expand investments into community health centers. That means a dramatic expansion in the number of patients community health centers can see and ultimately healthier communities. Our bill will significantly reduce uncompensated care for hospitals.
“You’ve heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, one or the other. But I don’t know if you have heard that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of pocket. Prevention, prevention, prevention—it’s about diet, not diabetes. It’s going to be very, very exciting.
“But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy. Furthermore, we believe that health care reform, again I said at the beginning of my remarks, that we sent the three pillars that the President’s economic stabilization and job creation initiatives were education and innovation—innovation begins in the classroom—clean energy and climate, addressing the climate issues in an innovative way to keep us number one and competitive in the world with the new technology, and the third, first among equals I may say, is health care, health insurance reform. Health insurance reform is about jobs. This legislation alone will create 4 million jobs, about 400,000 jobs very soon.
“We must have the courage, though, to get the job done. We have the ideas. We have the commitment. We have the dedication. We know the urgency. Now we have to have the courage to get the job done. So proud that President Obama is taking the message so forcefully to the American people! This is long overdue, a hundred years.
“The challenges we face, the health, the education, the education of our children, the economic well-being of their families, the safety of neighborhoods, all of this, all roads lead to you. The challenges we all face are too great though for each of us to face them alone. We need to form the partnerships, strengthen partnerships at every level of government and with committed and compassionate leaders to understand that the need to focus on the next generation, we need to focus on the next generation, not the next election.
“With that in mind and with great enthusiasm and a sense of history that we have of this responsibility to ensure that health care in America is a right not a privilege; let us move forward in the spirit of restoring and strengthening our partnership, and finding solutions in difficult times. In so doing, we will realize the dream of a brighter future. Thank you for all that you do to make that so.
“Thank you NACo, for the opportunity to be with you. On behalf of my colleagues in the Congress, I welcome you to Washington, D.C. I hope we will see you on Capitol Hill. We want your advocacy either here or from home.
“Thank you, Valerie Brown, for the invitation to be here. Thank you all.”
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President Barack Obama urged Congress Wednesday to vote "up or down" on sweeping health care legislation in the next few weeks, endorsing a plan that denies Senate Republicans the right to kill the bill by stalling with a filibuster.The Dem/S have had the absolute majority in the Congress and been unable to even bring their own party members to an agreement. The people when polled are absolutely against any of the existing bills. What is it about "no" that the President doesn't understand.
"I don't see how another year of negotiations would help. Moreover, the insurance companies aren't starting over," Obama said, rejecting Republican calls to begin anew on an effort to remake the health care system.
Mon Feb 1, 4:09 PMand then pulled it.
By Terri Cullen
NEW YORK (Reuters.com) --The Obama administration's plan to cut more than $1 trillion from the deficit over the next decade relies heavily on so-called backdoor tax increases that will result in a bigger tax bill for middle-class families.
In the 2010 budget tabled by President Barack Obama on Monday, the White House wants to let billions of dollars in tax breaks expire by the end of the year -- effectively a tax hike by stealth.
While the administration is focusing its proposal on eliminating tax breaks for individuals who earn $250,000 a year or more, middle-class families will face a slew of these backdoor increases.
The targeted tax provisions were enacted under the Bush administration's Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. Among other things, the law lowered individual tax rates, slashed taxes on capital gains and dividends, and steadily scaled back the estate tax to zero in 2010.
If the provisions are allowed to expire on December 31, the top-tier personal income tax rate will rise to 39.6 percent from 35 percent. But lower-income families will pay more as well: the 25 percent tax bracket will revert back to 28 percent; the 28 percent bracket will increase to 31 percent; and the 33 percent bracket will increase to 36 percent. The special 10 percent bracket is eliminated.
Investors will pay more on their earnings next year as well, with the tax on dividends jumping to 39.6 percent from 15 percent and the capital-gains tax increasing to 20 percent from 15 percent. The estate tax is eliminated this year, but it will return in 2011 -- though there has been talk about reinstating the death tax sooner.
Millions of middle-class households already may be facing higher taxes in 2010 because Congress has failed to extend tax breaks that expired on January 1, most notably a "patch" that limited the impact of the alternative minimum tax. The AMT, initially designed to prevent the very rich from avoiding income taxes, was never indexed for inflation. Now the tax is affecting millions of middle-income households, but lawmakers have been reluctant to repeal it because it has become a key source of revenue.
Without annual legislation to renew the patch this year, the AMT could affect an estimated 25 million taxpayers with incomes as low as $33,750 (or $45,000 for joint filers). Even if the patch is extended to last year's levels, the tax will hit American families that can hardly be considered wealthy -- the AMT exemption for 2009 was $46,700 for singles and $70,950 for married couples filing jointly.
Middle-class families also will find fewer tax breaks available to them in 2010 if other popular tax provisions are allowed to expire. Among them:
* Taxpayers who itemize will lose the option to deduct state sales-tax payments instead of state and local income taxes;
* The $250 teacher tax credit for classroom supplies;
* The tax deduction for up to $4,000 of college tuition and expenses;
* Individuals who don't itemize will no longer be able to increase their standard deduction by up to $1,000 for property taxes paid;
* The first $2,400 of unemployment benefits are taxable, in 2009 that amount was tax-free.
Mon Feb 1, 8:07 pm ETWhy? Because they don't want you to know that EVERY US citizen is going to have increased taxes to pay for the outrageous spending by the Democrat Congress and President Obama.
The story Backdoor taxes to hit middle class has been withdrawn. A replacement story will run later in the week.
The state of the union sucks but it is all George Bush's fault. I'm going to fix everything all by my lonesome by doing more of what already hasn't worked, i.e. throw away trillions of your great-grand babies' dollars. I'm sorry you were too stupid to understand what I was trying to do but that's ok as the Senate is also too stupid so I'm going to ignore them and the Supreme Court is too stupid and I'm going to try to work around them as well. Yes, I'm going to cut spending but only on things we should be spending money on. By the way, it is ALL about ME.I couldn't stand to watch. My wife did watch and listen. I was wandering around the house doing chores while I got updates from my wife. Of course she couldn't hear the TV over herself so she turned the volume UP. Consequently I could hear Barack I throughout the house.
Massachusetts's top election official says it could take weeks to certify the results of the upcoming U.S. Senate special election. That delay could let President Barack Obama preserve a key 60th vote for his health care overhaul even if the Republican who has vowed to kill it wins Democrat Edward M. Kennedy's former seat.But even though a Democrat operative says they can do it, Bareny Frank lashes out over accusations that Mass. Dems would stall a Brown certification
Secretary of State William F. Galvin, citing state law, says city and town clerks must wait at least 10 days for absentee ballots to arrive before they certify the results of the Jan. 19 election. They then have five more days to file the returns with his office.
Galvin bypassed the provision in 2007 so his fellow Democrats could gain a House vote they needed to override a veto of then-Republican President George W. Bush, but the secretary says U.S. Senate rules would preclude a similar rush today.
However, while the special election for the Massachusetts Senate seat previously held by Ted Kennedy has yet to be decided, the Brown campaign has already charged that Massachusetts Democrats will find a way to keep Mr. Brown from being certified, should he win, before the final vote on health care legislation happens in the Senate. Fox News spoke to Mr. Brown about his concern on this issue.:No Barney not from the right wing of anything from the Democrat Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin!
"When I heard ... the machine, not only locally but nationally, is trying to manipulate the process and make sure that if I'm elected, a duly elected senator, I can't be seated in an effort to vote on this important piece of national legislation, it made me almost sick to my stomach," Brown said.
"Everything I've heard right now I don't like very much," said Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, noting the secretary is signaling he will "drag his feet"
"That is the stupidest thing I've been asked in a long time. That is insane, the suggestion could only come from a demented right wing source," erupted Representative Barney Frank (D - MA), when asked by The Washington Times about what he thought of assertions that Massachusetts Democrats would stall the certification process should Mr. Brown win. "There isn't the slightest possibility of it happening---a way of doing it. That is conspiracy theory at its most contemptible."
IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman does not file his own taxes in part because he believes the tax code is complex.I don't buy that last comment. The POTUS is supporting many pieces of legislation which will create enduring complications to the tax code.
During an interview on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program that aired on Sunday, Shulman said he uses a tax preparer for his own returns.
"I've used one for years. I find it convenient. I find the tax code complex so I use a preparer," Shulman said.
Pressed on how he would make the tax code simpler, Shulman responded, "I don't write the tax laws. Congress writes the tax laws so that's a whole different discussion."
The IRS this month announced it will be scrutinizing the tax preparer industry. Shulman said the IRS is looking to set "a minimal level of competence in the preparer community."
Later in the C-SPAN interview, Shulman downplayed his use of a tax preparer, saying he has used one for 10 years. He noted that he and President Barack Obama are proponents of simplifying the tax code.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada described in private then-Sen. Barack Obama as "light skinned" and "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."He's actually apologizing for telling the truth. This is exactly why Obama was selected as the counter-Hillary candidate. Schumer's behavior pretty much supports this. It also points up one of Obama's characteristics, that he'll lie to get his way.
with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.We've seen him do that.
...this is the first time I've been proud...got the traction in the anti-Obama movement was because nobody who isn't black wants black people coming after them for something that their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc, MIGHT have done as much as 300 years ago.
Stop the Tax on Your Health Benefits!AND
Health care reform is critical, but the burden of its costs should not be shouldered by middle-class families, including millions of NEA members.
Contact Your Senators Today! Tell them to reject the tax on health benefits.
No Excise Tax on Health Insurance Plans
The United States Senate is currently debating the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590) - a health insurance reform bill that would pay for needed reforms by imposing a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost insurance plans.
Although the tax would be paid by insurance companies and plan administrators (employers), not by employees, the ultimate result would be a dramatic reduction in benefits as the excise taxes payable would be so high that insurance companies and employers would do everything in their power to avoid paying it.
Tell the Senate to reject any excise tax on high-cost plans in health insurance reform legislation.
Twice during the opening moments of his most extensive interview since winning the presidency on Nov. 4, the president-elect said the economic situation "is going to get worse before it gets better," an unspoken plea with voters to have patience with the incoming administration.
If an athlete injures himself and suffers great pain, we'd recognize the shortsightedness of giving him painkillers to keep him going. The pain might be masked, but at the risk of greater injury later.So, what am I missing?
There are a few inconsistencies... They pulled his body from the river, 30 feet from his Caddy and found the .380 pistol underneath him? They did this at what we used to call 'oh-dark-thirty' (literally here)? Something is wrong with this report OR what happened. Has the smell of Vince Foster's 'suicide' about it.
CHICAGO — The president of the Chicago Board of Education shot himself in the head along the Chicago River Monday morning, the medical examiner's office confirmed, according to MyFoxChicago.com.
Police found what was believed to be the body of Michael Scott, 60, floating in the river hours later.
Scott's family released a statement thanking Chicagoans for their outpouring of support during a time of "unimaginable grief."
"Our personal loss is also shared by many throughout Chicago, the home he loved so much," his family said. "We will miss him greatly. Arrangements for a public memorial service will be announced shortly."
Sources told the Chicago Sun-Times that Scott had a gunshot wound to his left temple and police discovered a .380-caliber gun underneath his body, which was found 30 feet from his blue Cadillac.
"I am shocked and saddened by the sudden death of my friend and colleague Michael Scott," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.
"Michael cared passionately about public education and made many courageous decisions as president of the Board. He gave his time, energy and talents to improving the life chances of children. Chicago has lost a great leader, and the city’s school children have lost a devoted champion. I extend my deepest condolences to his wife and family."
Scott had been Mayor Daley's go-to guy for a long time. Over the summer he told the Chicago Sun-Times that he had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating how students were selected for the system's elite selective-enrollment high schools, MyFoxChicago.com reported.
Scott said he had done nothing wrong, the Web site reported.
Chicago residents grew angry when Daley appointed Scott to serve a second stint as school board president. Scott had recommended that sports agent Rufus Williams succeed him, but Williams resigned under pressure and Daley re-appointed Scott to head the school board and oversee the city's public schools — a top Daley priority, MyFoxChicago.com reported.
"My wife and I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of Michael Scott," Cook County Board President Todd H. Stroger said in an e-mail statement released Monday.
Stroger called his friend of nearly 25 years a negotiator held in high esteem, MyFoxChicago.com reported.
"Mr. Scott was a strong advocate for education," Stroger said in the e-mail. "His contributions to the minority communities of Cook County will be sorely missed. In particular, his love for the upward mobility of residents from Chicago's West Side where he spent his life."
The Rev. Jesse Jackson arrived on the scene at about 7:30 a.m. local time Monday morning.
"Everything is just so wrong," Jackson said, according to MyFoxChicago.com.
Jackson said he spoke to Scott last week, as the former Chicago Public School Board president continued to deal with the brutal death of a Chicago student.
Jackson said Scott did not display any signs of emotional trouble recently, MyFoxChicago.com reported.
Scott reportedly disappeared from his Chicago home Sunday.
Emergency responders pulled the body out of the river at 4:30 a.m. local time Monday, after receiving a tip, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Joe Roccasalva told MyFoxChicago.com.
Chicago Public Schools could not be reached for comment, MyFoxChicago.com reported.
The 2,074-page Senate health care bill would take 34 hours to read cover to cover -- and that's just what Sen. Tom Coburn wants done on the Senate floor.
The Oklahoma Republican has threatened to invoke parliamentary rules to force the Senate clerk (or more likely, a team of clerks) to read the massive bill before the full Senate begins formal debate on the legislation.
The move is strictly according to Senate rules, which say any senator can demand a bill be read in its entirety before debate begins. While Democrats could, if they wish, repeatedly make motions to end the soliloquy, Republicans on the floor could object, and the reading would continue.
What's even more interesting is that Senate Rule XIV (paragraph 2) states that every bill and joint resolution "shall receive three readings prior to its passage."
"Upon demand of a senator, these readings shall be on three different legislative days," the rules say.
A little quick math shows that at a minute a page -- an easily achieved pace since the pages are double spaced and in a rather large type face -- it would take 34.5 hours to read straight through the measure put together this week by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Pity the poor Senate clerks.
President Barack Obama will not announce his decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan before the Thanksgiving holiday, senior aides said on Thursday.and
The news came as the president greeted 1,500 troops at Osan Air Base in South Korea, just before boarding Air Force One and heading back to Washington after an eight-day Asia trip.
Obama and his top military and diplomatic aides have been deliberating for months over how to proceed in Afghanistan, where the United States and its partners have sought for eight years to defeat the Taliban and deny al-Qaeda a safe haven from which it can plan and launch attacks.
Obama arrived on the base 3:19 p.m. local time (1 a.m. Eastern Standard Time), and received a rousing welcome from 1,500 troops in camouflage uniforms, many holding cameras or pointing cell phones to snap pictures.Of course when I saw the event on TV they showed the soldiers standing in the background. However they seemed rather grim. I don't know that that is surprising as I would have been pretty grim myself. However, the news organization also dubbed in the "huge cheer" mentioned when the President mentioned some political act and never played the part about pay raises. You can see that the sound of cheering wasn't in sync with the soldiers in the frame with Obama. They were downright stony.
"You guys make a pretty good photo op," the president said.
Standing on a riser wearing a blue suit and red tie, with a cluster of troops and a large American flag behind him, Obama expressed "the gratitude of the American public" and said his meetings in four countries over eight days in Asia will help deliver a "safer more prosperous world for all of us."
He got a huge cheer when he told them he was increasing military pay. "That's what you call an applause line," he said, before boarding his jet and taking off at 4:11 p.m.
The latest internal government estimates place the cost of adding 40,000 American troops and sharply expanding the Afghan security forces, as favored by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American and allied commander in Afghanistan, at $40 billion to $54 billion a year, the officials said.
Even if fewer troops are sent, or their mission is modified, the rough formula used by the White House, of about $1 million per soldier a year, appears almost constant.
So even if Mr. Obama opts for a lower troop commitment, Afghanistan’s new costs could wash out the projected $26 billion expected to be saved in 2010 from withdrawing troops from Iraq. And the overall military budget could rise to as much as $734 billion, or 10 percent more than the peak of $667 billion under the Bush administration.
Such an escalation in military spending would be a politically volatile issue for Mr. Obama at a time when the government budget deficit is soaring, the economy is weak and he is trying to pass a costly health care plan.
With local Republican House of Delegate candidates far outraising their Democratic counterparts during this election cycle, some area Democrats are questioning the source of the donations.Dem/S don't believe that conservatives are capable of banding together to raise money to support those who oppose the Democratic rush to facist government and outrageously burdensome taxation. I know this is why we contributed to Republican candidates. While we have other purposes for our money, I would much rather support these candidates now than pay stupendously high taxes, suffer medical care denial, or endure government intrusion into the most private moments of my life for the rest of my life. We'll do it all again next year to oppose the facists and communists attacking our way of life.
"I think voters should look at where the money is coming from," said 20th District Democratic candidate Erik Curren. "I know my opponent gets a lot of money from trade groups, and I think with large donations, voters are going to wonder who you are loyal to."
A breakdown of campaign cash contributions of more than $100 for the period between Sept. 1 and Oct. 21 shows Republican candidates in the 20th, 24th and 25th District races all lead their Democratic opponents in contributions from individuals. But the greatest discrepancy comes in the cash lead the GOP candidates have in donations from political action committees, businesses and trade groups.
With just days to go before the election, Virginia Democrats are getting desperate. In the race to become the commonwealth's next attorney general, state Delegate Stephen Shannon is trying to tar his opponent, state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, for purportedly giving guns to convicted felons. Mr. Shannon is sending around literature with a scary picture of a violent criminal claiming: "FACT: Ken Cuccinelli, candidate for attorney general, voted to allow violent felons to purchase guns in Virginia."Mr. Shannon is in fact telling two lies at once. One about the "gun show loophole" and another about Mr. Cuccinelli. I wish I could say that I was surprised. It seems de riguer for Dem/S to tell a lie even if the truth would do.
We hate to break it to Mr. Shannon but this isn't going to be his Willie Horton ad. Mr. Shannon's convoluted logic goes this way: Since Mr. Cuccinelli voted against regulating the private sale of guns at gun shows, that means he supports felons having guns. Never mind that it is still illegal for felons to have guns and the senator supports that ban.
What Mr. Shannon is really referring to is the misleadingly named "gun show loophole." There is in fact no loophole. The rules for buying guns outside a gun show are precisely the same as they are at a gun show. Two types of people sell guns: registered dealers and private individuals. Registered dealers must fill out the same forms and meet the same requirements regardless of where they sell a gun. Private transfers are unregulated, but they are unregulated both inside and outside of gun shows. When pressed, most gun-control advocates admit what they really want is to regulate the private transfer of all guns, whether they are between a father and a son or anyone else.
President Barack Obama has only been in office for just over nine months, but he's already hit the links as much as President Bush did in over two years.What this means is that the POTUS has spent more time in ONE golf game than he has in conferring with his chosen commander in Afghanistan. What this means is that he's abandoned or avoided 24 opportunities to confer with General McChrystal. What this means is that his pleasure is more important than US Security, more important than HIS soldiers' lives, more important than the JOB he was elected to do. Remember, he works FOR us.
Sensing that victory in the race for Virginia governor is slipping away, Democrats at the national level are laying the groundwork to blame a loss in a key swing state on a weak candidate who ran a poor campaign that failed to fully embrace President Obama until days before the election.
Senior administration officials have expressed frustration with how Democrat R. Creigh Deeds has handled his campaign for governor, refusing early offers of strategic advice and failing to reach out to several key constituencies that helped Obama win Virginia in 2008, they say.
Democratic strategists said that over the summer, Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) offered Deeds advice on winning a statewide election. Among other things, Kaine, who is also chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told Deeds that he should lay out more of his own vision and stop attacking Republican Robert F. McDonnell so ferociously. But Deeds did not embrace the advice, according to a national Democratic strategist.
A senior administration official said Deeds badly erred on several fronts, including not doing a better job of coordinating with the White House. "I understood in the beginning why there was some reluctance to run all around the state with Barack Obama," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly about the race. "You don't do that in Virginia. But when you consider the African American turnout that they need, and then when you consider as well they've got a huge problem with surge voters, younger voters, we were just a natural for them."
A second administration official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "Obama, Kaine and others had drawn a road map to victory in Virginia. Deeds chose another path."
A loss for Deeds in Virginia -- which for the first time in decades supported the Democratic presidential candidate in last year's race -- would likely be seen as a sign that Obama's popularity is weakening in critical areas of the country. But the unusual preelection criticism could be an attempt to shield Obama from that narrative by ensuring that Deeds is blamed personally for the loss, particularly given the state's three-decade pattern of backing candidates from the party out of power in the White House.
Deeds advisers insist the notion that he has distanced himself from Obama isn't true. "We've enjoyed a tremendous relationship with the White House," said Mo Elleithee, a campaign spokesman. "The campaign has worked very closely with them and the DNC and the [Democratic Governors Association] from the very beginning. They have given us just about everything the campaign asked for."
A key meeting
An adviser to the Deeds campaign said that on June 17, top campaign staffers held a meeting with the White House political team as well as representatives from the DNC and the Democratic Governors Association at the DGA's Washington offices. They came equipped with some requests of the White House: two visits by the president before Nov. 3, e-mails from the president to his Virginia supporters and a visit from Vice President Biden. Almost all of their requests have been met, the adviser said.
But national Democrats are contrasting Deeds with New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine and New York congressional candidate Bill Owens, who they say have more actively sought the White House's help and more vigorously and publicly backed its agenda. Polls show Corzine in a competitive position in New Jersey and Owens ahead, while Deeds has turned aggressively to Obama voters in recent days in an effort to overcome a significant deficit in the polls.
Although Deeds often praises the president on the campaign trail, he has distanced himself from Obama and Democratic policy priorities at times. At a debate in September, he declined the opportunity to label himself an "Obama Democrat." And just this week, he said he did not believe that a public health insurance option is necessary and that as governor he might consider opting out of one if Congress extends that right to states.
Deeds campaign officials said they're running a centrist campaign, in the mold of previous successful Virginia Democrats.
Obama will campaign with Deeds in Hampton Roads on Tuesday, and his political organizing group this week sent an e-mail signed by Obama to tens of thousands of Virginia supporters asking that they volunteer for Deeds to keep "the promise of change alive" in the commonwealth. The White House also signed off on a Deeds television commercial released Thursday in which Obama praises him.
But privately, administration officials said they see almost no way for Deeds to win on Nov. 3.
Asked to respond, a senior Deeds adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "I have no interest in doing a postmortem on a race that we're working hard to win and that we think is still winnable. I don't see a need for either side to be critical -- we're all fighting for the same thing."
Kaine said he spoke at length with Obama about the race on Tuesday, and the governor rejected post-game analysis of a race he said can still be won. "You've got to sprint through the tape," Kaine said. "Quite often, the successful campaign is the one that tunes out the background noise and the doubters. Every campaign has them, and you've got to tune them out and go for the win."
Wooing key Democrats
Democrats on both sides of the Potomac River cite prominent Democratic businesswoman Sheila Johnson's endorsement of McDonnell in July as the first sign of trouble in the Deeds campaign. They say Deeds let several weeks go by after his June 9 primary without calling Johnson, the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television and one of Kaine's leading donors.
A senior Deeds aide said that the Democrat traveled to Johnson's Middleburg ranch in April and that the two did not hit it off. Johnson mostly wanted to talk about her opposition to labor unions, and the aide said Deeds told Johnson that he had concerns about congressional legislation that unions favored, but she seemed unhappy that he was unwilling to "trash" unions.
The campaign decided after Deeds's primary win that the best approach was to have staffers try to set up another meeting. The aide said Deeds and staffers for Kaine's political action committee tried to reach Johnson a dozen times but that she did not return their calls. Deeds himself did not place a call.
Johnson declined to comment, but through a spokesman said she didn't remember when Deeds contacted her. She has been actively campaigning for McDonnell and stars in a television ad calling him the better bet to right the economy.
"She was the canary in the coal mine, not just because of how it might affect African American and women voters, but she's politically savvy -- she saw something going wrong in the campaign," said a national Democratic strategist.
With Johnson's defection, an endorsement from the nation's first elected black governor, Democrat L. Douglas Wilder, became more essential.
But as late as August, Deeds's campaign was calling around Richmond looking for a way to reach Wilder, according to a longtime state lobbyist and also Wilder's nephew, Michael Brown.
"It was a high official within the campaign who called," said Brown, who supports Deeds.
A Deeds adviser said the state senator placed his first post-primary call to Wilder on June 23, leaving a message, and rejected the idea that the campaign did not know how to reach him.
The White House also became deeply involved. Obama political director Patrick Gaspard spent two hours with Wilder in July trying to persuade him. Obama made a phone call. Last month, Wilder announced that he would not endorse either candidate in the race, issuing a lengthy statement largely critical of Deeds.
Good morning,I don't believe they REALLY want to hear from us....
I'd like to know, where is the "button" is to express a lack of approval for "health care reform" as currently expressed by the Congress? I went to the site, http://www.healthreform.gov/support.html, and found no way to do anything but express support.
I am absolutely against further expenditures by the government on "health care" or interference in my personal choices in my health care.
I support the following:
- TORT REFORM limiting punitive damages thus reducing insurance costs for health care providers while still permitting redress of wrongs.
- PORTATBILITY of insurance by the insured. In fact, this would mean ownership of the insurance policy by the insured with contributions by the employer. It would also mean an end to state control of health care so that insurance companies would have to compete across state lines. This would increase competition lowering costs. Further cost savings would be realized as the insurance companies would be able to cut overhead caused by myriad state insurance law.
- ENFORCEMENT of Medicare and Medicaid rules and regulations and elimination of fraud/waste/abuse NOW.
- Elimination of government interference in my health care decisions.
- Full support of VA health care needs and TRICARE including TRICARE FOR LIFE to support our veterans who have given so much to this country. Living up to the contract we made with them, particularly those who suffered some disability in the line of duty is extremely important.
- CHANGES TO FDA policy and law such that pharmaceutical products could be made available at lower cost.
I see absolutely no need to make fundamental changes to health care such that I lose my ability to make health care choices for myself. Neither do I see a reason to spend hundreds of billions of dollars.
"He talked about CBO saying that there would be $54 billion saved each year if we put caps on medical malpractice and put some restrictions — tort reform — $54 billion. Sounds like a lot of money, doesnt it, Mr. President? The answer is yes. But remember, were talking about $2 trillion, $54 billion compared to $2 trillion. You can do the math. We can all do the math. Its a very small percent."
White House communications director Anita Dunn recently told Time magazine that she thinks the channel offers "opinion journalism masquerading as news," and kept up the criticism on CNN's Reliable Sources Sunday and in The New York Times Monday.
Fox's senior vice president for news, Michael Clemente, issued a statement Monday, saying: "It's astounding the White House can't distinguish between news and opinion programming. It seems self-serving on their part."
Kevin Jennings’ comments before “Looking to the Future” panel at GLSEN’s Mid-Atlantic conference, held October 25, 1997 at the Grace Church School in New York City.One of the people that’s always inspired me is Harry Hay, who started the first ongoing gay rights groups in America. In 1948, he tried to get people to join the Mattachine Society [the first American homosexual “rights” group]. It took him two years to find one other person who would join. Well, [in] 1993, Harry Hay marched with a million people in Washington, who thought he had a good idea 40 years before. Everybody thought Harry Hay was crazy in 1948, and they knew something about him which he apparently did not—they were right, he was crazy. You are all crazy. We are all crazy. All of us who are thinking this way are crazy, because you know what? Sane people keep the world the same [sh*tty] old way it is now. It’s the people who think, ‘No, I can envision a day when straight people say, ‘So what if you’re promoting homosexuality?’ Or straight kids say, ‘Hey, why don’t you and your boyfriend come over before you go to the prom and try on your tuxes on at my house?’ That if we believe that can happen, we can make it happen. The only thing that will stop us is our lack of faith that we can make it happen. That is our mission from this day forward. To not lose our faith, to not lose our belief that the world can, indeed, be a different place. And think how much can change in one lifetime if in Harry Hay’s one very short life, he saw change from not even one person willing to join him to a million people willing to travel to Washington to join him. You can see the same changed happen in your lifetime if you believe you can.’’It is also interesting that Harry Hay was a long time Communist. Sexual orientation politics aside, is Jennings also a communist?