While other liberal cities have ejected and dismantled Occupy sites for health and safety reasons, Washington, D.C. has not done so. We now know why. The Obama administration has refused to respond to the city’s appeals for help with OccupyDC encampment.
Yesterday in a second letter to the Obama administration Vincent Gray, Washington’s Democratic mayor, again pleaded with the federal government and asked them to evict the OccupyDC protesters who are encamped at McPherson Square in downtown Washington. The mayor says the site is infested with rats, contains unsanitary conditions, is a danger to protesters themselves and has been a continual drain on the city’s police and health department budgets.
Yesterday we learned as early as December 16 Mayor Gray formallyy pleaded for help from the National Park Service. The park is on federal land and the Park Service has jurisdiction over the park . There is a second OccupyDC encampment on federal land at Freedom Plaza. So far the federal government has remained mum.
This compelled Mayor Gray to issue a second letter which was reported this morning by the Washington Post. In the new letter, the Mayor asked the National Park Service to remove the protesters and close down the McPherson Square site. Mayor Gray said McPherson Square was afflicted with “dangerous rat infestation” and other health and sanitary problems. The mayor added that many of the protesters themselves faced hypothermia due to the cold. He repeated his request for the federal government to reimburse the financially strapped city for the unexpected expenses caused by the Occupy protesters.
“I am concerned that the letter I sent you on December 16 remains unanswered,” Gray concluded in the letter.
The protesters have imposed unexpected costs on the city’s police, prisons, courts and health department. The Metropolitan Police Department already has spent at least $1 million in police expenses. Last month, the police department had to dismantle a building the protesters were illegally erecting at the McPherson Square site. Mounted police, demolition equipment, and scores of police officers were assembled at the site in a 12 hour confrontation with the demonstrators. Ultimately 31 protesters were detained and held overnight the city’s jails.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has asked why the Obama administration permitted the demonstrators remain on federal land. “The city is trying its best to protect the health, welfare, and safety of people in and around the campsite,” Issa said. “In this situation, the National Park Service has so far been more interested in making excuses than protecting the public.”
If the federal government ejects the protesters, it would be just the second time in history the federal government evicted protestors. That episode ended badly for the previous administration. In 1932 President Herbert Hoover evicted the Bonus Army, 43,000 World War I veterans who encamped in downtown Washington in a protest over pay for their service during the war. Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur drove out the veterans with the wives and children back by infantry and cavalry supported by six tanks. Their shelters and belongings were burned. Two veterans were wounded and later died in the melee.
The eviction proved politically disastrous for Hoover and he later lost in a landslide to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Aside from the wrath he would receive from the Occupy movement, perhaps that link to history might also weigh on the mind of President Obama today.
(h/t Pat Dollard for the front page thumbnail)
Michelle and Barack Obama’s failed campaign in Copenhagen, Denmark to lure the 2016 Olympics to Chicago cost the taxpayers at least $467,175, not including the use of two Air Force Boeing 747s and several Air Force cargo planes.
Early in the heady days of his administration, the President and his wife blatantly lobbied the International Olympic Committee to award the Summer Olympics to Chicago. In September, 2009 they sent a large entourage including members of the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic, and Youth Sport, two cabinet secretaries, and White House staff to the IOC meetings in Copenhagen. The information was obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The costs for hotels alone were $235,659, which included the rental of seven “offices.” The cost for an extra hotel day in Copehagen cost taxpayers $33,044 dollars.
The nearly half a million dollars does not include the cost for any of the large Air Force jets commandeered for the failed venture. The IOC awarded the Olympic games to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Barack and Michelle Obama wasted taxpayer dollars on a junket that seemed designed for one purpose — to take care of their Chicago cronies who stood to gain financially from the Olympics racket,” says Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The fact that Valerie Jarrett needed an ‘ethics waiver’ to lead this failed bid to bring the Olympics to Chicago tells you almost all you need to know about the scandalous nature of this trip.”
Tony Blankley, who died this weekend at the age of 63, was one of Washington’s hidden stars. He was a political adviser, an intellectual, a sensational writer, and a gifted individual who lived several lifetimes in his short 63 years. As a long-time colleague and friend, I will miss him.
Tony’s own unusual path to Washington made him a unique figure. His life combined several careers, each of which could have filled a feature length movie. In the coming days many writers will dwell on his outstanding political life, but there was more to his life than politics.
Tony was born in London in 1948 but fully embraced American exceptionalism and Americana. When his father moved to Los Angeles to work at a Hollywood studio, he auditioned Tony for a bread commercial. He soon became a television child actor and lived every kid’s dream by playing in the hit series Lassie. Later he appeared in the cool TV show Highway Patrol and played Rod Steiger’s son in the 1956 movie The Harder They Fall. He met the legendary Humphrey Bogart as Bogey performed in his final film. Life could have kept him in Hollywood but Tony was a guy with ideas.
He went to UCLA and to law school and he zoomed to the top. Although he always was elegant with a wisp of a British accent, he learned about justice and life’s tough spills as a prosecutor with the California attorney general’s office. He served there for a decade. For many people that career also would have been enough.
Instead he traveled to Washington with a congressman and later ended up as a speechwriter and aide to President Ronald Reagan. Then Tony made history when he became press secretary to Speaker-elect Newt Gingrich. Many don’t recall the profundity of the moment, but Gingrich was the first Republican to run the House of Representatives in 40 years. And as Newt would say, Tony was the first Republican press secretary in the position for 40 years. That’s when I met Tony.
At the time I was the Washington producer for ABC’s Good Morning America. Most of the Capitol Hill press corps had disdain for Gingrich. But Tony had the best antidote for their ill will — a wonderful, sparkling sense of humor and a gift for story telling. Tony never won over many members of the MSM, but I was won over. We did not play favorites but I sought to give Newt a level playing field at ABC — something the rest of the news business was unwilling to do. Tony and I never forgot that tough period of Washington politics.
So over time I got to know Tony. He had a gentle, affable personality and could tell wondrous stories, quote Plato and Churchill, regularly impart pearls of wisdom as well as discuss the intricacies of science, politics, philosophy or religion. And he got Newt to do things on time.
For Newt and Tony it was a marriage made in heaven. They were like bookends. He was once called the “Speaker’s Speaker.” Both loved history. Yet both also were futurists. Although much of the MSM castigates Newt as a right-wing conservative, the speaker’s favorite couple was Heidi and Alvin Toffler, liberal futurists who wrote the best selling book, The Third Wave. If the industrial revolution was the second wave, the Information Age was the third wave. And they were right.
Today the Obama administration reported the official unemployment rate at 8.5%, representing more than a half point decline in two months. This lower number is politically good news for the President.
- A better measure of the real jobless rate is called the “U-6” which stands at 15.6 percent. (The U-6 rate includes those that would still like a job and have looked for work in the last twelve months, not just the last four weeks.) That means the number of Americans hurt by the bad economy is almost twice what the official number would suggest.
- In fact, the official rate excludes workers who have decided to drop out of the labor market altogether — either because they are discouraged or for other reasons — and also ignores workers who settle for part-time work because they are unable to find a full-time job.
- Currently more than 5.7 million Americans, or an astounding 43 percent of all unemployed have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks. The tremendous increase in long-term unemployment is one factor driving the unprecedented disparity between the official measure of unemployment and the alternative measure (U-6). Long-term unemployment has a damaging psychological impact on workers’ willingness to keep searching for work and motivates them to accept part-time work.
- As bad policy from Washington forces businesses to seek flexibility, the chasm between the U-6 and official unemployment rates may become a permanent fixture of the economic landscape.
As already reported at the Tatler, three presidential campaigns representing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senator Rick Santorum, and Governor Jon Huntsman today joined Texas Governor Rick Perry in challenging Virginia’s state ballot law, saying the threshold for getting on the ballot is too restrictive. They asked for an expedited review before a federal judge in the U.S. District Court in Richmond, Virginia.
Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) are the only candidates to have made it onto the ballot for the March 6 Republican state primary. Gingrich, Huntsman, and Perry were denied access to the ballot due to insufficient signatures. Absentee ballots must be printed and mailed by January 21.
Virginia has one of the toughest ballot requirements in the nation, second only to New York. The state requires signatures from 10,000 registered voters and at least 400 signatures from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts in order to get on a statewide ballot. New York requires 15,000 signatures. Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution dictates that election rules must be decided by the states, not the federal government. As a result, each state has different requirements.
Much to his embarrassment, Perry was only able to secure 6,000 signatures in a state that has many conservative areas that mirror Texas political sentiment. Gingrich turned in 11,000 signatures but more than 1,500 were thrown out as fraudulent. Gingrich’s campaign has been hampered by many instances of disorganization and disarray. While Perry once had a campaign war chest up to $17 million, many analysts believe he has exhausted most of his money. Both did poorly in Tuesday’s Iowa caucus.
Over the decades, a number of congressional initiatives have been sought to “nationalize” state ballot access. Ironically one of the prime sponsors of congressional bills to impose uniform national standards was Rep. Paul, who usually is a champion of state rights. He joined ultra-liberal Democrats Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Rep. Tim Penny (D-MN) to repeatedly call for a single federal standard for election ballot access.
The issue of access to state ballots also has been a major problem for third parties. Many states require signatures from 2% to 3% of registered voters for small parties to gain access. These are difficult hurdles to meet. In Alabama, for example, it would require signatures of more than 40,000 people. In North Carolina third party rules would demand 85,000 signatures.
Virginia state Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins, a defendant in the lawsuit, asked the court to dismiss the case.
“If you want to be president of the United States, you ought to be able to collect 10,000 signatures in Virginia,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said today.
The liberal msm’s love affair with Occupy Wall Street continues.
Today the Washington Post went gaga that aging rocker Jackson Browne showed yesterday up at an OccupyDC site. And the Post devoted three quarters of a front page in the paper’s chic Style section to critique “Occupy art.”
It didn’t dampen the Post’s spirits that last weekend an unruly mini-riot occurred at OccupyDC, resulting in 31 arrests. One protester urinated on police while others battled them. One detained protester was discovered to have been arrested last week for shoplifting.
The Post’s coverage today added new seriousness to the aimless movement, penning with some gravitas a front page Style article titled, “Assessing Occupy Art.” This was not a critique of a MOMA installation, but a review of hand drawings by protesters.
The sudden appearance by Jackson Browne before Occupy DC protesters made it to the front page of the news section of the paper. He sang in front of a faux Christmas tree made out of 100% recycled plastic.
As for the protesters, they were, like, clueless. Who was this guy? In the ’70′s Browne headlined many No Nuke concerts and sang praises to Nicaragua’s Sandinistas.
This failure of recognition didn’t dampen Browne spirits. He happily sang on. Aging hippies came out to hear him in the balmy 65 degree weather at Freedom Plaza, one of the two OccupyDC sites.
His insight? “This movement doesn’t need a need song, it just needs people to show up and sing.”
This is what a shakedown looks like, D.C. style.
In the midst of the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression, Wal-Mart announced it would open up four new stores, creating 1,300 new jobs and providing low prices for the poorest residents of the city. In the worst ward, unemployment has averaged 26.5%.
These tangible benefits did not concern a liberal anti-Wal-Mart coalition that formed that included labor unions. They issued a wish list of 17 demands that ran the gamut from requiring a minimum wage of $12.50 per hour, to free bike racks and free shuttles to each store every ten minutes.
The blackmail worked. Yesterday the District of Columbia and Wal-Mart agreed that the low-cost retailer would commit to give away $21 million to for hunger relief, health programs, education and job-training programs. The Washington Post described other shake-down details:
“Under the deal, Wal-Mart agrees to seek District small-and minority-owned businesses for construction of its stores; create and fund training programs aimed at populations suffering from high unemployment rates; and open hiring centers in the wards where the chain opens stores.
The chain also agreed not to sell guns or ammunition and to install bike-sharing stations and bike racks at its District stores — features that will distinguish the new stores from many of its others across the country.”
DC Mayor Vincent Gray (D) called the unprecedented mandates a good thing, saying ““Wal-Mart is showing what it means to be a good corporate neighbor, and I encourage other firms interested in doing business in the District of Columbia to show a similar level of commitment to our residents.”
If anything, the D.C.-Wal-Mart deal will frighten away other retailers. They now understand the steep price required to be a “good corporate neighbor” in the nation’s capital.
The OccupyDC protest has cost Washington DC taxpayers $1 million over the last two months. The cost has been calculated to be about $22,000 per day. The city has paid for sanitation costs which have exceeded $6,000.
More than twenty local police officers are stationed around the clock at the site. That doesn’t include a three-hour standoff last Saturday night in which 13 protesters were arrested. Nor does the $1 million cover a U.S. Park Police sweep of the protest tents following a White House shooting by a disgruntled 21-year old from Idaho.
Finally, the tab also doesn’t count the destruction of the sod at McPherson Square where the protesters have encamped. Earlier this year $437,000 in federal stimulus money was spent to re-sod and “restore” the park which is part of the National Park Service. That money, it seems, was another stimulus project that went to waste.
Skeptics believed the collapse of the deficit reduction super committee had been “baked in” to Wall Street prices. The cynics predicted there would not be much market reaction if the group failed to come up with a ten year deficit reduction plan.
This may have been wishful thinking.
Word of the super committee’s demise has sent the Dow down 300 points — and falling.
President Obama, who was on an international holiday – oops, on an overseas mission – remained completely aloof to the super committee negotiations. He desperately wants to chastise Congress after its failure.
This may be a crucial White House political miscalculation. When things go bad most people seem to punish those who are at the top. In this case, the guy at the top is you know who…
The next chapter to play out is a probable downgrade of U.S. credit by credit rating agencies.
Today embattled Energy Secretary Steven Chu finally ended his silence and took personal responsibility for the controversial Soyndra loan amid congressional charges that he may have violated federal laws. At the contentious hearing he repeatedly said he was unaware of many governmental emails and reports that warned Solyndra was a bad bet.
Chu testified under oath before a key House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee. He asserted “the final decisions on Solyndra were mine” and that “I did not make any decision based on political considerations.”
Chu said that knowing what he knows today about Solyndra, he “would not have approved” the Solyndra loan. He said he did not know how much money taxpayers would recover from the Solyndra bankruptcy but added “not very much.”
Chu claimed that the $535 million loan guarantee was not awarded because of the company’s ties to George Kaiser, a major donor for the president’s 2008 political campaign.
He said some additional DOE green loans may be in “financial trouble,” but under repeated questioning by the panel’s chairman he refused to give a specific number.
A Republican congressman charged that the secretary’s decision to change the Solynra loan terms at the last minute violated federal law. The change by Chu, called subordination, waived U.S. government rights as a first tier creditor to recover money during the Solyndra bankruptcy.
Prior to today’s hearing some lawmakers have called for Chu’s resignation.
Chu emphasized that upon entering office he was ordered to “get the loans out” and he authorized “the most promising” companies. Solyndra was the first recipient of Obama’s ambitious $37 billion green technology funding. The California company was touted by the White House as a solar energy winner. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden personally hailed the company.
Chu said he did not know Kaiser, a prominent 2008 Obama campaign donor, was tied to Solyndra. Rep Barton (R-TX) retorted he was surprised Secretary Chu did not know since “everyone else in DOE” knew about Kaiser’s relationship. Kaiser has personally visited the White House 16 times since President Obama assumed office. He defended himself that no one at the White House “pressured” him to approve the loan.
However, the secretary equivocated about White House communications to him under questioning by Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
An altercation occurred between U.S. Park Police and protesters at OccupyDC last Friday evening while officers were in pursuit of Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, the alleged shooter at the White House, PJ Media has learned.
Raoul Duke, a self-described OccupyDC media representative told PJ Media today between 55-60 protesters encircled about a half dozen park police officers on Friday evening, November 11 when the police were searching tents for the alleged suspect in downtown Washington. While surrounding the police officers, the OccupyDC crowd chanted in unison “We do not consent to search.”
No violence or arrests occurred, but the scene was tense as police twice came to look for the alleged shooter and were challenged by a large group of protesters. The alleged shooter was captured today in Pennsylvania.
In both instances protesters confronted and surrounded the police. The police left both times without incident.
“About six officers came in,” Duke recalled, citing the first time park police officers entered the Occupy site. “They went to the southwest corner of the park, started going through tarp areas and tents,” he said.
“At that time a group of us surrounded them and just kind of asked questions of them, asking ‘why are you here, who are you looking for?’ We told them, ‘sorry but we do not consent to searches.”
Duke said he rallied the protesters who massed to surround the officers “I got the attention of all the Occupiers and we all surrounded them,” he said. “We started chanting ‘we do not consent to search.”
“The park police actually left twice and we surrounded then (each time) and we started chanting and they ended up leaving,” the protester said.
“We found out they were looking for the gentleman who shot at the White House.”
A TPM report earlier today also said Secret Service agents tried to search tents for Ortega-Hernandez.
U.S. Park Police have jurisdiction over the park, named McPherson Square. It is located about two blocks from the White House. The protester said park police officers had entered about five to eight tents before being confronted. Duke explained the harsh reaction from the protesters: “These are homes. We made it clear without a warrant there can be no searches,” he explained. ”They must ask permission to enter your house before they can come in.”
The protester complained that they should have received some police warning. “They kind of showed up out of nowhere and started going through people’s stuff and that can raise alarm. But they also were trying to say, ‘Hey we’re looking for somebody. We’re not searching for anything.”
Peppered throughout the tent city are signs reminding protesters of their civil liberties and “rights.” An earlier PJ Tatler post on October 5 described the distribution of laminated hand-out brochures authored by the liberal Washington Legal Clinic. They outline the many rights of protesters in the park.
Duke said no one knew the alleged shooter Ortega-Hernandez. “To my knowledge I haven’t seen him around and I’ve seen a lot of people. I saw a mug shot of him in the paper. He didn’t look familiar,” Duke said.
Duke said the day or two earlier three police officers were on the northwest corner and tried to get into a tent when they smelled marijuana. ”They said they had smelled marijuana and that’s why they wanted to get in,” the media representative recalled. The group barred the police from entering.
Many Occupy Wall Street sites around the country have been closed down for sanitary, health and public safety reasons. Crime including sexual assault and drug use have been alleged at many of the sites. This week New York City closed down the main Occupy Wall Street site in New York under orders from Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Other sites have been closed down by the liberal city governments of Oakland, California and Portland, Oregon.
The OccupyDC location is beginning to resemble a tent city that is there to stay. It has a library, medical clinic and dining area. A white board bulletin board announces counseling sessions, workshops and “General Assembly meetings” where collective decision making occurs.
The U.S. Park Police were contacted for comment. As of this post there has not been any response.
Yes America, there is a wealth gap. Seven of the top ten wealthiest members in Congress are Democrats.
The results are based on a new study released today by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. The Center did an analysis of the financial statements filed by members of Congress for 2010 income and net worth.
This revelation of extreme wealth by Democratic politicians is completely contrary to the public image of the Democratic Party. President Obama has castigated “millionaires and billionaires,” suggesting they are evil people, largely Republican or conservative. The issue of the Democratic Party as the millionaire party has not yet made it into the mainstream media. But the facts are indisputable. Democratic members of Congress tend to be wealthier than their Republican counterparts.
According to the Center, 36 Senate Democrats and 30 Senate Republicans reported an average net worth in excess of $1 million in 2010. The median estimated net worth among members of the Senate Democrats was $2.58 million. Senate Republican median net worth was $2.43 million.
And, the wealthy Democrats tend to inherit their money. Republicans tend to earn it.
Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) all came by their fortunes through marriage or inheritance. Senator Kerry, who was born into wealth, has listed his net worth as high as $281 million, while his wife Teresa is estimated to be worth $1 billion. Ms. Heinz did not earn her wealth either. She inherited the money from her husband Senator John Heinz, who died in an airplane crash.
Senator Rockefeller, representing dirt poor West Virginia, inherited his fortune from his family. He is reported to be worth $136 million.
While the economy continued to tank in 2010, Rep. Pelosi reported her own wealth to grow by 62%. Pelosi’s husband, Paul, is a financier. They own a multi-million dollar vineyard and a number of million dollar homes. They have a net worth of $196 million.
Former Democrat Rep. Jane Harmon (D-CA), who in 2010 was listed as the third wealthiest member of Congress, was married to the late stereo magnate Sidney Harman of Harman-Karmen fame. Together they were worth $493 million.
Only Republican Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) married into major money. His net worth went from $12 million to $502 million in two years. The explanation? He married an heiress to the Clear Channel radio empire.
Among those who actually got their money by earning it, Republicans were in the slight majority. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), a self-made millionaire earned his wealth by creating the Viper car security system. He is estimated to be worth more than $700 million. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) started as a rancher and attorney. His wealth is cited as $88 million.
Rep. Vernon Buchanan (R-FL), one of only three Republicans to make the top ten earned his money through real estate and car dealerships. He is estimated to be worth over $323 million.
Much has been made about Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) being the wealthiest Republican in the U.S. Senate. But he is ranked only number 14 because there are so many wealthier Democrats ahead of him. He doesn’t make the Top Ten. He worked as a construction superintendent. Then started his own company. Today he is worth $107 million.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA), a key conservative Member of the House of Representatives warned the Republican leadership should be prepared for a defeat of the super committee deficit reduction proposals in either the House or Senate.
The deficit reduction committee was appointed by congressional leaders as part of a debt reduction deal with the White House last summer. They must decide on a deficit reduction plan by November 23 or $1.2 Trillion in spending cuts go into effect.
“I think the odds are very high that if the super committee produces a recommendation that it’s likely to fail in the House or Senate, or both,” he told PJ Media today.
King is a major conservative voice in Iowa where the first Presidential caucus will be held.
Rep. King told PJ Tatler:”You have twelve people, I call them the ‘Twelve Apostles’,” he said. “They put them in a room and closed the door. What you do is eliminate the input that comes from everybody else.”
As a result he warns that the House and Senate leadership “should be prepared for a defeat eventuality.”
Castigating the secrecy of the panel, he told PJ Media, ”It cuts out the wisdom from the American people for the most part and almost guaranteed to produce weaker result than we might have had open dialogue on the subject.”
King compared the super committee’s closed door negotiations to the doomed 1993 Hillarycare effort in which then First Lady Hillary Clinton attempted to secure passage of a health care bill.
At the time of Hillarycare, he said “The people rose up and resented it and eventually they had to open their meetings up. I don’t expect that will happen with the super committee but I don’t expect there will be a good result that will come from that.”
“They are not building any stakeholders behind this,” he said. ”There needs to be some buy-in along the way.”
King said he received little hint from the House members of the panel what they are contemplating “When on a rare occasion a run into a super committee member when you’re in a place where you can actually talk to them, they give you the most general answer. That’s how it’s been for me for the last six weeks or so.”
President Obama, meanwhile has been on the sidelines throughout the super committee’s deliberations.
King says the Democrats have been hoping the panel will fail so they can use it in the 2012 election campaign. “The Democrats have designed it to fail. They’ve wanted it to fail, then blame Republicans.”
This morning the U.S. House subcommittee on national security, defense and foreign operations will be holding an oversight hearing on the Obama administration’s policy toward Iran. However, some officials will be missing: administration policymakers.
Today’s congressional hearing is being held one week after the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency confirmed that Iran was moving forward toward production of nuclear weapons. In reaction, last week European states called for stiffer sanctions against Tehran. The French said sanctions should be raised to an “unprecedented scale” and the British concurred.
But while there is outrage in Europe, in Washington the Obama administration has decided to remain silent on Capitol Hill. It notified the subcommittee it would not provide policy makers for the congressional oversight hearing. Three administration officials, Defense Department deputy secretary Ashton Carter, Treasury Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin and State Department Deputy Secretary William Burns will not be allowed to testify before the House body.
They are being replaced by three career government officials who will not be able to comment on the administration’s policy toward Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
While dissing Congress the President was in Hawaii at an international Asian summit and met with Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev and China’s Hu Jintao. The President said he raised the issue of Iran’s nuclear program with both leaders. Both men remained silent on the issue, a clear rebuff for Obama.
The congressional hearing will go on. To view it go to www.oversight.house.gov or click here.
In his run for President, Obama originally pledged he would contain Iran by personally meet with its leaders and end their nuclear arms program. That meeting never happened and Tehran has been steadily working toward a nuclear weapons arsenal.
Today before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder substantially changed his previous testimony about the Fast and Furious scandal, an Obama administration undercover gun operation that sold more than 2,000 guns to Mexican drug cartels.
Holder now repudiates the controversial program, calling it “unacceptable” and “flawed.” He says he was “bothered” by the program and that it was “inappropriate.” He did not say, however, that the undercover operation violated any federal laws.
The program was initiated in 2009 by the administration and executed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), a division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The bureau reports to the attorney general.
Guns linked to Fast and Furious were used in the killing of two U.S. agents and an estimated 200 people in Mexico.
Holder contradicted his previous statement that he personally became aware of the ATF program only a “few weeks” before his May 2011 testimony. Now, Holder admits he knew about the controversial gun running operation as early as the beginning of the year.
Acting as if he was still confused about the Fast and Furious program, he said: “Like each of you, I want to understand why and how” the gunwalking program came about. He says he is looking to to the Department’s inspector general “to learn” who had thought up the program and implemented it.
Dissatisfied with Holder’s response, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) asked the attorney general: “Are you winging this?”
His May 2011 denial of knowledge about the program contrasted with internal Justice Department memos that had circulated to Holder’s office as early as February of this year. The contradiction in his earlier testimony has prompted some members of Congress to call for Holder’s resignation.
Holder now concedes that as early as February he had learned about Fast and Furious, and that at the time he had directed agents to make corrections to the undercover operation.
Previously, Holder and officials at the Department of Justice had stonewalled congressional inquiries into the undercover operation.
Holder defended his deputy, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who on February 4, 2011 sent an erroneous and misleading letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee about Fast and Furious. Ranking Judiciary Committee Sen. Charles Grassley (R-KS) wanted to know if any Justice Department official “was accountable” for the submission of erroneous information to Congress. Holder told Sen. Grassley that Breuer did not offer to submit his resignation when his answers to the Senate were discovered to have been factually misleading and erroneous. Holder added he did not ask for Breuer’s resignation.
Holder claims he cannot be expected to “know about each and every program on a daily basis.” He said he “did not see” many documents that had his name on them referring to Operation Fast and Furious.
He blamed his staff for not forwarding the memos to him.
As the Wall Street company run by Democrat Jon Corzine crumbles, it appears $900 million is missing. Now the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission are opening inquiries.
MF Global Holdings Ltd’s collapse is the latest embarrassment for Corzine, who served as one of the Democratic Party’s top political leaders as a U.S. Senator and New Jersey governor. Only this last spring he was on the short list to replace President Obama’s Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner.
Corzine was the co-author of the controversial Oxley-Sarbanes financial laws. He also was an early advocate for universal health insurance and supported the new difficult financial regulations passed under the Dodd-Frank law. The financial services law, passed last year, is so complex the Obama administration has delayed its implementation
Now many MF Global customers worry as the company faces insolvency due to Corzine’s personal decision to bet 6.2 billion of the company’s own money on European sovereign debt. Before bankruptcy court yesterday the company listed its debt at $39 billion and assets to be $41 billion. However, at least $900 million is unaccounted for.
The FBI is reportedly investigating to see if any customer money is missing and who may have taken it. The CFCT, a regulator of MF Global also is preparing to determine where the customer funds are. Corzine was one of the chief deal makers at MF Global and he is reported to have personally undertaken many of the European trades himself.
The collapse of MF Holdings is causing chaos among many companies and brokerage firms that depended on the company for commodity and futures trading. Many traders cannot get their funds out of MF Holdings and the discovery that $900 million is missing will force them to wait longer.
The demise of MF Holdings is a black eye for Corzine and perhaps for Democrats politicians associated with him.
Two more renewable energy companies promoted by the Obama administration are failing. The developments occurred two months after the collapse of the Solyndra solar energy company which received $535 million in loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The first DOE company in trouble was EnerDel from Indiana. EnerDel received a $118 million DOE renewable energy grant in early 2010 under Obama stimulus funding. The company, which was supposed to make new electric car batteries, was delisted on Friday by NASDAQ. It’s price had fallen to zero. Under the stimulus money EnerDel once had employed 253 people. Today without the stimulus money only 33 are on the payroll.
Rep. Cliff Stearns (D-FL), chairman of the House Oversight and Investigations subcommittee on energy said today ““This latest failure is a sharp reminder that DOE has fallen well short of delivering the stimulus jobs that were promised, and now taxpayers find themselves millions of more dollars in the hole.”
EnerDel also bought a 30% share in a Norwegian electric car maker, Think Global. That company went bankrupt earlier this year.
The second company to fail under the DOE loan program is Beacon Power, a Massachusetts-based electric storage company that received $43 million loan guarantee from the department. The company filed for bankruptcy on Sunday.
The two company failures come only three days after the White House announced a full review of the DOE loan program as reported on Friday by PJ Media.
Another Democratic politician is now demonstrating how his economic theories can be shattered by economic reality.
Former Democratic Senator and Governor Jon Corzine — who as recently as this spring was considered on Barack Obama’s the short list as a new Treasury Secretary — may have singlehandedly killed the large Wall Street firm MF Global Holdings, Ltd.
As Chairman and CEO of MF Global, Mr. Corzine bet on the sovereign bonds issued by European countries with $6.3 billion of the firm’s own money. The company is now tottering between bankruptcy and insolvency.
The irascible Democratic politician ignored warnings that his bets on sovereign debt of Italy and Spain were foolhardy. This is not the first big financial mistake Corzine has made. In 1994 he brought steep losses to Goldman Sachs when he made currency bets and the British pound fell. In 1999 he was pushed out of Goldman as Chairman.
Corzine is a hard driving figure who spends whatever it takes to reach his goal. He spent $62 million of his own money to buy his way into the United State Senate from New Jersey election — waging the most expensive Senate campaign race in history. During the campaign Cozine refused to release his income tax records. When Goldman went public he was reportedly worth $400 million.
He also spent $38 million in his race for New Jersey governor in 2005. Considered one of the most liberal governors in the country he was defeated in 2009 by Republican Chris Christie.
In the Senate Corzine was the co-author of the reviled Sarbanes-Oxley regulations and sought to impose restrictions on individual choices for 401(K) retirement accounts. He played a key role in getting Senator John Edwards to be on the Democratic presidential ticket with Senator John Kerry. Edwards is facing criminal charges of using campaign funds to pay for an out-of-wedlock child he fathered while still married.
While New Jersey Governor , Corzine sought to raise the state sales tax, one of the highest in the country from 6% to 7%. His Democratic legislature stoutly opposed him and resulted in a state government shutdown. Corzine won and today the state suffers one of the highest sales taxes in the nation.
Governor Corzine also sought to sell the state’s highway system to allow it to issue bonds to raise further funds for the state government. The plan would have added $32 billion to the state debt. The Democratic legislature railed against that plan and prevailed.
Now Corzine is back in the private sector working his economic magic. Only this time his bet on high European debt may have cost him his job, his company and burned thousands of investors who put faith in MF Global. As of this posting trading on MF Global has been suspended. A new owner, bankruptcy restructuring or liquidation are the options he faces today.
It all sort of makes sense, doesn’t it?
Hours after the House energy investigatory committee announced it was prepared to subpoena White House records on the Solyndra solar scandal — including President Obama’s Blackberry emails — the White House said it would open a review into its controversial Energy Department green loans. The announcement was made by White House Chief of Staff William Daley.
Both the White House and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have blocked many congressional inquiries into the troubled loan program.
Today two chief House energy committee chairmen released a joint letter saying it was preparing a vote this coming Thursday to subpoena internal White House communications about the Solyndra scandal. Included is a request for President Barack Obama’s Blackberry Emails.
White House officials listed in their request include former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, former economic adviser Larry Summers and Ron Klain, the former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden.
The joint letter was signed by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL). Upton is the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Stearns is the chairman of the House Oversight and Investigation subcommittee. The letter reads in part:
“The purpose of a possible subpoena for White House documents would be to secure access to these internal communications among White House staff discussing their knowledge of the Solyndra loan and any efforts they made to secure the guarantee.”
Daley says the White House would conduct a 60-day review of the DOE loan program. He did not say it would investigate or air any wrongdoing, only identify future reforms for the troubled program. He named former Assistant Treasury Secretary Herb Allison to conduct the review.
Allison is not a stranger with scandals. He oversaw the Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP and he was the President and CEO of the controversial housing giant Fannie Mae.
Myron Ebell director of the non-profit Center for Energy and the Environment said he was skeptical of the Allison appointment. Referring to the troubled DOE loan program he told PJ Media, “Well he’s got a lot of experience with financial shenanigans” adding “he clearly has lot of experience with financial manipulation and shady operators.”
In a statement released this evening, Rep. Stearns said the White House review should had been taken before the DOE’s ambitious $40 billion loan program, saying:
““Finally, officials at the White House are acknowledging that the program responsible for Solyndra may not have been the jobs program that was promised to the American people. This 60-day review would have been more sensible before billions of dollars in loans were rushed out the door in the program’s final hours on September 30.”
Many of the DOE recipients are alleged to have won hundreds of millions of dollars due to political connections to the White House or the Democratic Party.
As congressional committees continue to shift through the mountain of paperwork over the Solyndra solar company scandal, it is becoming apparent to investigators that most of those who approved the loan have left the Obama administration. In many instances these people will be beyond the reach of congressional investigators.
Here are those who have since left the U.S. Department of Energy but who gave their seal of approved the $535 million loan guarantee. Hat tip to Darren Samuelsohn at Politico:
- Steve Isakowitz – The department’s former CFO. He is now VP and chief technology officer for Virgin Galactic, a commercial space flight company run by Richard Branson. Branson was a private investor in Solyndra.
- Matt Rogers – Secretary Steven Chu’s point person on Solyndra. He has returned to the consulting giant McKinsey & Co in their San Francisco office.
- Rod O’Connor – Secretary Chu’s first Chief of Staff who reassured President Obama he should not be concerned about visiting Solyndra. He now is the EVP to AEG Facilities in London.
- Steve Spinner – A major Obama fundraiser in 2008 who was awarded with a DOE post and repeated frustrated career DOE officials who were concerned about Solyndra. Spinner is a campaign bundler for Obama, raising $500,000 in the third quarter of 2011.
- Lawrene Oliver – Sat on the pivotal Credit Committee that approved the Solyndra loan guarantee while the assistant general counsel to DOE. He retired in 2009.
- Ove Westerheim – He was the director of DOE’s loan program. He is now back at OPIC, a semi-public overseas investment commission.
There is a bit of fiction that Hollywood loves to promote: that it really believes in free speech. Roger Simon can do a far better job attesting to the many silly “message” films that populate the L.A. studio sets. The studios rightfully defend them in the name of free speech.
Yet when it comes to crushing free speech on the Internet, it appears the movie industry is happy to lead the charge.
There is a piece of legislation — called the Protect IP Act – that’s coursing its way through the halls of Congress. It will permit Hollywood lawyers to criminalize and shut down web sites that allegedly use content without permission.
The champion for this legislation is the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). MPAA’s new chief executive is the snarly former Democratic Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT). MPAA reportedly has a war chest of $100 million and Dodd himself is to receive a base annual salary of $1.5 million. This is Senator Dodd’s first major piece of legislation since assuming the MPAA post.
First a few words about Dodd, who has had a reputation for launching vicious attacks on anyone who stands in his way. He is the first half of the controversial D0dd-Frank financial services law that is giving big headaches to both Wall Street and government regulators. He decided in 2008 not to seek re-election when he himself got ensnared in the Countrywide subprime housing scandal.
Now, however, Dodd is aggressively pressing for the Protect IP Act. Today a group of fifteen VC and high technology proponents are going to Capitol Hill to butt heads with the Hollywood lobby. They say they are prepared to fight for the freedom of speech rights on the Internet.
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronic Association is leading the group. This morning he details the disaster the Act would wreak for the Internet in a column today in Forbes:
“The PROTECT IP Act would allow copyright owners – movie studios and other content providers – simply to accuse a website of infringement, which could lead to that site being shut down by court order and entire links to the site being wiped clean from the Internet. Any website with a hyperlink, such as Twitter, Facebook or a blog, would be subject to liability. More, non-infringing sites could be inadvertently shut down under the proposal. Indeed, the law is so far-reaching that it would force Internet providers like Comcast to block all access to the allegedly illegal site.”
Shapiro says the legislation is so broadly written that it could shut down Amazon or Best Buy web sites.
The list of entrepreneurs coming to Washington is impressive. They include Brad Burnham and Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures; Bijan Sabet, Spark Capital; Mike Masnick, Floor64; Derek Dukes, Dipity; David Ulevitch, OpenDNS; Slava Rubin, IndieGoGo; Zack Rosen, Chapter Three LLC; and Derek Parham, independent angel investor.
Although it has received scant attention, one of the central figures involved the Solyndra scandal may be Missy Owens, the niece of Vice President Joe Biden.
Missy, whose real name is Valerie James Owens, is the Energy Department’s deputy Chief of Staff. She served in that capacity when the Solyndra $535 million loan guarantee was approved.
Owens’ name is on a number of e-mails and documents about Solyndra, including a September 2009 DOE “Events Memo.” The memo starts by quoting the Vice President who predicted the Solyndra loan guarantee would be regarded as “the foundation of our 21st century economy.” Owens was involved in the timing of the groundbreaking ceremony that got the Vice President to extol the virtues of the company.
Politics in the Biden world is a family affair. Owens’ mother, Valerie Biden Owens is the Vice President’s sister. She ran political campaigns for her brother Joe. Missy also served as a campaign manager for her brother Joe “Beau” Biden.
Rep. Cliff Stearns, chairman of the House Oversight and Investigation subcommittee will be leading a number of hearings in November on the Solyndra affair. At this time it appears DOE will not provide Missy Owens as a witness.
Another controversial U.S. Department of Energy “green” loan is coming under scrutiny.
Last July the Obama administration issued a $730 million low interest “green” loan to Russia’s second largest steel company, whose chief executive is a Russian tycoon personally worth $18 billion and who has close ties to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
An influential House oversight chairman is now questioning why taxpayer funds from the Department of Energy are being used to assist the highly capitalized foreign-based steel company.
The DOE renewable energy loan was awarded this summer to Severstal North America to produce high strength steel at its Dearborn, Michigan facility. Steel is not in short supply in the United States and current U.S. steel plants are operating under capacity.
The DOE loan is part of a controversial $40 billion renewable energy loan program organized under its Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program called ATVM. The program is supposed to help financially starved companies in the green auto manufacturing field by providing taxpayer-supported low interest loans.
In a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu obtained by PJ Media, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee has asked the Secretary to provide information to justify his department’s decision to issue the loan to the Russian firm. Issa said that Severstal appears to have “ample means to carry out the project” on its own without U.S. funds.
The firm is a subsidiary of OAO Severstal led by Russian oligarch Alexei Mordashov. Mordashov is one of the richest men in Russian. In 2011 Forbes ranked Mordashov as the 29th wealthiest man in the world. He officially was an official delegate for Vladimir Putin when he first ran for President in 2004.
The decision to issue a below market loan to Severestal appears odd. Prior to the government loan the firm had sold its steel plants in Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland, reaping at least $1.2 billion. The ATVM program is designed to help companies involved in green cars or in the auto component industry. Severstal is a steel company not involved in either field.
It is also the second time in a week that a DOE loan has surfaced that financed foreign companies. The Finnish company Fisker received a $500 million loan for it’s all-electric sports car in that Norwegian country. Congressional investigating committees are looking into this Obama loan.
The ATVM program has also come under fire for its loans to auto manufacturers Tesla Motors for $465 million loan for a NASDAQ company owned by a Democratic donor and whose financier is was a $500,000 campaign bundler for President Obama as previously reported by PJ Media. Today Presidential Republican candidate Mitt Romney called for an investigation into both Tesla and Fisker.
The PJMorning Report
Each morning PJMedia will give you vital news and opinions to get your day started. Picked by PJ’s Washington bureau chief Richard Pollock.
Good morning! It’s Thursday, October 20, 2011
Here is the news since you went to bed:
OWS tars Obama as part of the “money elite” after record Wall Street haul in announced.”You can’t be a corrupter and a reformer at the same time.
Can Greek violence appear at OWS protests in the U.S.? Molotov cocktails are thrown during the Occupy Rome demo as part of the violence throughout the country.
Obama’s team rev up its attack machine on Romney. Republicans might rue the day when they debated in Vegas among themselves without really mentioning the incumbent President.
DOE has altered old press releases to remove Solyndra name and replace it with two other solar companies. An old Kremlin Politburo trick is revived in Washington.
Steve Forbes is advising Rick Perry on his flat tax proposal. Perry’s economic plan may appear disjointed but conservatives’ most revered tax reformer is cheering on Perry while dissing Romney.
After a morning of conflicting reports, it appears former Libyan strongman Mummar Qaddafi has died of wounds he suffered after his capture near his home town of Sirte. The head of Qaddafi’s armed forces Abu Bakr Younus Jabr also is reported to have been killed.
National Transition Council officials say the convoy carrying Qaddafi was attacked. Some reports say it is by Libyan rebels. Others say his convoy was attacked by NATO aircraft. Qaddafi earlier was reported wounded in both legs and has been sent to a nearby hospital.
The news is emerging as anti-Libyan forces have entered the city of Sirte, Qaddafi’s stronghold.
UPDATE: Mohammed Qaddafi, son of Mummar Qaddafi was in a live phone interview with Al Jazerra television when rebels attacked his home with weapons. He said “There is no god but Allah.” Then the line went dead.
For the first time since the inception of the Occupy Wall Street, a counter-movement is appearing. Their message: stop whining. Stop being negative and tearing down America. Be positive and be in favor of positive change. Work to improve yourself and work harder to get a job.
They are calling themselves “Employ the 99%.”
“Don’t have a negative attitude. You don’t try to force other people to blame other your mistakes,” says Aaron Buchhop one of the organizers who works at a non-profit.
OWS protesters have captured the limelight with their complaints but so far have failed to come up with any positive agenda.
Tomorrow grassroots activists say students and young professionals plan to converge on the Occupy DC site in downtown Washington armed with job applications, college enrollment forms and military recruitment brochures. They also will hold a a resume workshop and job search advice.
The group say they they represent the sentiment of students and young professionals in the Washington, D.C. area. Many of them share the same frustration as the protesters but don’t like the negative OWS message. Many of the Employ the 99% attended the Occupy DC site and the October 2011 rally.
Cameron Halket, a protester who attended both events said he attended because he felt marginalized by society, out of work since 2009.
“I’ve always felt helpless to do anything and when I found this movement I realized that we can affect change,” he told Christian Post. “Doing nothing was no longer an option.
“People who want to better their situation can and will, Buchop says. “It’s amazing what some positive thinking and willpower can accomplish.
“There are a lot of people there who not part of the fringe Left,” he told PJ. ” They are largely people who are disillusioned and we’d like to help foster a more positive message.”
Buchhop says the message is not to continue to sit in tents and hold negative rallies. Instead they can empower themselves to do positive things for themselves and their community.
Buchop calls his message the Steve Jobs message: anyone can do anything if they are inspired and work hard at it
The group has a Facebook site, Employ the 99%. They plan to appear at McPherson Square in downtown Washington at 12 Noon on Thursday, October 20 and remain there until 3 pm.
The PJMorning Report
Each morning PJ Media will give you vital news and opinions you will not see compiled anywhere else. Picked by PJM’s Washington bureau chief Richard Pollock.
Good morning! It’s Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Here are some of the key news developments this morning:
An emaciated and frail Gilad Shalit emerges from a Hamas prison basement. Few in the West decry Hamas’ mistreatment of the Israeli soldier. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners arrive in Gaza to a hero’s welcome.
President Obama promises officials behind the scandalous Fast and Furious gun program ”will be held accountable.” Obama speaks about it for the first time only hours after the Senate unanimously votes to ban future undercover operations. Is the president letting AG Holder swing in the wind?
Political Fight Night in Vegas. Romney still looks like The King and Perry gets better but is booed. President Obama was mentioned only in passing.
Perry parrots Boston Globe allegations about Romney hiring illegal aliens. The jury is still out on the account. But do you know who works for your lawn care service?
Cain tells PJTV he “misspoke” about releasing Gitmo prisoners for one American prisoner. He says he would not release Gitmo terrorists. “My bad,” he tells PJTV’s Alexis Garcia.
Apple disappoints the street in earnings. The company shows it may be human too.
Goldman Sachs follows JP Morgan on losses. Why is it beginning to feel like 2008 all over again?
Moody’s downgrade Spain and warns France its credit rating is at risk. New pressures on EU leaders.
Secretary Clinton makes a surprise visit to Libya. NATO is still clueless about Qaddafi’s whereabouts.
President refuses to meet with Occupy Greenboro, NC when he traveled there on his bus tour. He turned down their request for a meeting.
A Democratic pollster reports 1 in 3 OWS protesters supports violence. Doug Schoen says they are an “unrepresentative segment of the electorate.”
Rep. Barney Frank: one of few Democrats to openly scorn OWS. He calls them out for “incoherence.”
New Fear report: climate change will threaten our global coffee supply. Enviros warn climate changes could affect Ghana and the Ivory Coast coffee farmers by 2050. They are mum about the rest of the world’s coffee farms. You can still sip your coffee in peace.
Front page WaPo defends the Teleprompter — and Obama. The Post argues back:”Republicans use it too!” The paper looks silly.
DNC today actually celebrates the third anniversary of Obama record-breaking $150 million fundraising haul for September 2008. For Dems it’s all about the money. The “good government” types are still trying to figure out how they got snookered by the first modern President to opt out of public financing.
NBA talks go nowhere after 16 hour negotiating sessions. It’s the 110th day of the lockout.
The Senate today unanimously passed an amendment barring taxpayer funds from being used by the Justice Department for undercover “gun walking” programs similar to the controversial program initiated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The program was code named “Fast and Furious.”
While the Senate measure considered symbolic in that it only stops future undercover gun selling by federal law enforcement agents, the amendment was regarded as a rebuke to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder has not cooperated with investigating congressional committees on the growing “Fast and Furious” scandal and the few documents he has released have been heavily redacted or blacked out.
There were reports that a number of Democrats would abandon Holder and vote for the proposal. Fearing possible embarrassment Democratic leaders suggested there would be no opposition to it and agreed to a unanimous vote in favor of the amendment.
Last Sunday Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said he thought the redacted pages was akin to “tampering” with evidence.
In the Fast and Furious case thousands of guns were sold to Mexican drug cartels, many of which were used to cause violence on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border including the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. ATF agents lost track of the thousands of weapons. Many are believed to be in use by Mexican drug cartels today.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a former state Attorney General was the author of the Senate amendment. He said after the vote it was a “first step towards ensuring that such a foolish operation can never be repeated by our own law enforcement.”
Prodding Holder he said “The onus is now on Attorney General Holder to hear not just today’s bipartisan call for answers, but the American people’s demands that Washington be held accountable.”
The actual text said:
No funds made available under this Act shall be used to allow the knowing transfer of firearms to agents of drug cartels where law enforcement personnel of the United States do not continuously monitor or control such firearms at all times.
One face that you won’t see traveling with the President today in his $1.1 million bus tour of Virigina: Tim Kaine, the Virginia Democratic Senatorial candidate and former Democratic National Committee Chairman.
Kaine is nowhere to be found at the President’s $1.1 million American Jobs Act bus tour meanders through the Virginia countryside.
Kaine was one of the first national Democrats to endorse Obama for the presidency in 2007.
One reason Kaine is MIA is that the President is immensely unpopular in Virginia, a major battleground state. Last month a Quinnipiac University poll shows 54 percent of registered voters in the state disapprove of how Obama is handling his job while 40 percent approve. Obama won the state in 2008.
The PJMorning Report
Each morning PJ Media will give you vital news and opinions you will not see compiled anywhere else. Picked by PJM’s Washington bureau chief Richard Pollock.
Good morning! It’s Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Here are some of the key news developments this morning:
Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit has been released to Egyptian authorities after five years in Palestinian captivity. Is Israel pivoting toward Cairo with the exchange, hoping it will be a force for stability in the region as Turkey tilts towards Iran?
Solyndra’s federal trustee tells court he does not trust its board. The Department of Justice’s official trustee in the Solyndra bankruptcy proceedings says he does not trust the Solyndra’s board of directors. The trustee made the claim yesterday before a federal bankruptcy judge in Delaware. The company’s core assets will be auctioned off in early November.
Liberal Wa Po hits Obama bus tour as a political “campaign swing.” Obviously the Washington Post political reporter traveling with the president in North Carolina didn’t get the memo the trip was supposed to be a “non-partisan.” He reports the President “returned to this critical battleground state for the second time in as many months on a bus tour that made clear — in pageantry and message — that his campaign is already in full swing.” The President is traveling in a lavishly outfitted federally financed $1.1 million bus. Hear the Jeopardy chime? Which attribute is it that the White House seems to be showcasing: arrogance, stupidity, desperation or all of the above?.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is taking off the gloves with Attorney General Eric Holder at a private D.C. breakfast this morning. He is expected to address “The Rule of Law under Attack– from Stealth Amnesty to the Fast and Furious Scandal.” Senator Grassley is the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Justice Department. The AG, by the way, speaks tonight in DC at a gala dinner of the Council of the Inspectors General gala dinner. It’s the “Integrity and Efficiency 14th Annual Awards Ceremony.”
Harrison Ford this morning shows up on the Hill at a bi-partisan Senate General Aviation Caucus meeting calling for more federal subsidies for general aviation — Gee what happened to taxing evil private jet owners? The actor who has been seen behind the wheel of an aircraft in a number of thrillers, in real life is a pilot flying fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. He speaks before the Senate General Aviation Caucus, which include both Democrats and Republicans.
Anti-Semitism grows at Occupy rallies. Last night Abe Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League National Director’s called upon Occupy Wall Street protesters to forcefully condemn Anti-Semitic signs and statements found at their rallies. He said in a statement that he urged “organizers, participants and supporters of these rallies to condemn such bigoted statements clearly and forcefully.” While the MSM was quick to accept charges of racism by the Tea Party, it has been largely silent about the many overt anti-Jewish comments being aired at different Occupy sites, including in Washington, D.C.
Illinois is the nation’s worst deadbeat state. Illinois is so heavily in debt it is failing to pay 166,000 bills on time. According to an analysis of state records completed by AP, the state is currently in arrears to the tune of $5 billion. Some plead for the money, others get it through political connections. Will this be the “new normal” for heavily indebted states like California to New York? Not a good track record for President Obama’s state.
NPR: Louisiana Gov. Jindal is enroute to a smashing victory this Saturday? NPR blogger Ken Rudin predicts that Republican gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal (R) “en route to a smashing re-election victory” this Saturday. Rudin say what’s most remarkable is that “no Democrats have filed for any statewide office as well.”
Another GOP debate, this one aired by CNN and anchored by Anderson Cooper in Nevada. Are we bored already?
Thieves stole Obama’s teleprompter and $200,000 in equipment in Henrico, VA. It was later found abandoned in a nearby airport. This from the “How Did It Happen” department.
The PJMorning Report
Each morning PJMedia will give you vital news and opinions you will not see compiled anywhere else. Picked by PJ’s Washington bureau chief Richard Pollock.
Good morning! It’s Monday, October 17, 2011
Here are some of the key news developments this morning:
Occupy Wall Street protesters have amassed $230,000 and a warehouse full of supplies in New York. The United Federation of Teachers is storing their supplies, including “jail support kits.” Who says the anti-capitalist protesters hate wealth? Over the weekend protests inspired by the New York occupation has spread world-wide, but with few signs of a unified set of demands. 175 arrested in Chicago in open defiance of Rahm Emanuel’s City Hall.
Obama’s 351 “bundlers have raised at least $20 million for the Presidential campaign, although less Wall Street money is going to the Democrats. It has enabled the campaign to staff its Chicago campaign headquarters with 300 people and offices in at least 38 states. Mitt Romney has out raised Obama among top Wall Street firms, raising $5 million from 2,000 executives.
Israel will release 477 convicted Palestinian terrorists on Tuesday. They include Ahlam Tamimi, who was involved in a suicide plot in 2001 that killed 15 in a Jerusalem restaurant. Asked by Israel’s Channel 2 TV network if she felt any remorse for the killings, she replied, “No, why should I?”
Democrats now “concede privately that a super committee failure would be preferable to a bad deal.” Will the Dems take the irresponsible route for political expediency?
Was the president’s MLK address on Sunday merely a political speech for 2012? Controversies surrounded what should have been an uplifting, non-partisan, commemorative moment. The issues included the Chinese designed and built monument and its similarities to the Stalinist “New Soviet Man” look. Many noted on Sunday the president’s tone mirrored his standard political addresses rallying African-Americans to support his re-election.
FRIDAY BAD NEWS I: Did anyone notice that the administration ended its expensive Obamacare long-term health insurance program on Friday? The federal CLASS Act was quietly terminated as administration officials conceded it could not economically work. The CLASS Act was supposed to provide 40% of Obamacare’s “savings” for the health care plan. It is the biggest piece of Obamacare to be eliminated since the president signed it into law. Liberal Jonathan Cole, writing in The New Republic says the failure actually strengthens Obamacare because CLASS didn’t have a universal mandate and the rest of the plan does.
FRIDAY BAD NEWS II: Did anyone notice that on Friday the President also invoked the War Powers Act to dispatch 100 special operations forces to central Africa to take down guerrilla leader Joseph Kony, the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army? People are still scratching their heads about it.
The president will begin a second “non-partisan” bus tour to Virginia and North Carolina, but will not visit the East coast earthquake epicenter in Mineral, Virginia which the administration on Friday denied federal disaster assistance. Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor represents the area. Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell invited the president to view the damage. Does the denial of aid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency smack of the politicization of disaster assistance?
Rep. Darrell Issa on Face the Nation ratcheted up pressure on Attorney General Eric Holder arguing he is hiding the facts on the “Fast and Furious” scandal. He also charged that Justice’s heavily redacted documents could be considered government “tampering” of evidence. Issa’s Oversight & Government Reform Committee has requested thousands of pages from the Justice attorneys in which federal agents were ordered by the administration to knowingly sell thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels.
The Ground Zero Mosque developers owe $1.7 million to co-owner New York utility Con Ed. Con Ed says pay up or they will be evicted. Maybe they could join the Occupy Wall Street crowd, which avoided eviction on Friday.
Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is nearly $900K in debt in the third quarter. Huntsman is reported to have splurged $4.1 million on the best luxury hotels and private jets. His free wheeling spending habits do not bode well for someone claiming to be a fiscal conservative. Huntsman will skip the Nevada GOP debate this week.
Obama appeals a federal judge’s ruling that the White House visitor’s logs are subject to Freedom of Information Act. What happened to the most open administration in history?
The latest mainstream media meme: Romney is challenging Tea Party’s clout within the Republican Party. Tea Party activists say no dice. They will support Romney if he’s the nominee.
The race world today mourns the death of British racecar driver Dan Wheldon. One of the most popular drivers in open wheel racing and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, Wheldon died Saturday at the IndyCar Vegas Motor Speedway in a fiery 15-car pile up. ”It looked like a scene from the Terminator,” said Ryan Briscoe. He was 33.
It’s official: The World Series will be between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. It will be a Mid-West battle on the mound in the heartland. The wealthy coasts are left out this time. Game One begins this Wednesday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Congratulations to both!
(Thumbnail image on Tatler homepage based on image from Shutterstock.com)
A new Rolling Stone article out today titled “Inside Obama’s War Room” largely applauds the Obama administration on its handling of Libya.
However deep inside the article is a very unflattering portrait of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The key passages:
“According to veteran officials at State, Clinton installed the most controlling — and paranoid — staff they had ever seen. ‘They do things like not release her schedule to us, like it’s top-secret, even though other secretaries of state had been doing it for years,’ says one official.
“‘For a while, it was like ‘Spy vs. Spy’ says another.
“Hillary would have her people, Obama had his, and they were keeping tabs on each other.’”
A State Department official has rejected the profile, calling it extreme, as would be expected.
The author is Michael Hastings, who got Gen. Stanley McChrystal fired with his earlier Rolling Stone article, “The Runaway General.”
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly has issued an ultimatum to the Occupy Wall Street protesters: vacate by 7 am on Friday. This afternoon, like children, they began to clean up after themselves, picking up the trash that has accumulated over four weeks. However the protesters are now vowing to “resist” in the morning (see update).
For weeks the owner of the park and residents have complained that the protestors were violating a host of city ordinances and posed a public danger. Yesterday Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly finally agreed and ordered the mandatory eviction.
Most of the mainstream media have ignored the unsanitary and dangerous conditions at Zuccotti Park, where the OWS protesters have lived for four weeks.
Now the park is a mess of trash, tents, mattresses, urine and sleeping bags. And residents have complained about lewdness, drug use, loud drumming, public urination as well as sexual assaults.
Commissioner Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg told the protesters they had to clear out by Friday morning and the city would clean up their mess. Kelly told reporters:
“After it’s cleaned, they’ll be able to come back. … But they won’t be able to bring back the gear. The sleeping bags, that sort of thing, will not be able to be brought back into the park.”
Nothing happens easily in New York City, however. Today Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer tried to invoke the protesters’ First Amendment rights to continue living in the filth: ”There is no need to rush into hasty, precipitous action when it comes to the peace and safety of our community.” He was supported by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), whose congressional district abuts the park.
UPDATE: About 1,000 protesters vowed to “resist” being evicted in the morning. Tonight, according to CNN, they chanted: “”All day! All week! Occupy Wall Street!”
Ending eight consecutive quarters of losses, Wal-Mart is about to announce that customers are returning to the retail giant.
If so, this will be a vindication for Wal-Mart executives who last April put an end to a five year liberal left experiment to inject pricey “green” and politically correct products into the stores.
Out went the low cost jeans. In came holistic and organic foods, environmentally “natural” clothing and so-called fair trade products. Of course all of these products cost more.
And in droves Wal-Mart’s customers fled for the exits.
As I quoted an ex-Wal-Mart executive in a posting last April:
“The basic Wal-Mart customer didn’t leave Wal-Mart. What happened is that Wal-Mart left the customer.”
The genius behind the Wal-Mart “green” makeover was former Al Gore communications director Leslie Dach. He brought in environmentalists, ecologists and liberal economists. They convinced the company to sell according to their preconceived ideas of justice, not to market needs.
The result was a disaster. But last April Wal-Mart changed course and inaugurated a “Back to Basics” campaign. They informed poor and middle class consumers that the affordable stuff like cheap jeans and food were back.
Yesterday Wal-Mart executives told financial analysts the company will break eight consecutive quarters of loss and finally see a rise in same store sales. And this during a recession.
Comparable store sales at U.S. Wal-Mart stores have been positive for the past three months, leaving Wal-Mart on track to report an end to its domestic slump .
The three month period perfectly tracks the “Back to Basics” turnabout.
It’s interesting when you listen to the market.
A highly promoted Washington, DC rally that was tangentially related to the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations got off to a rocky start today with sparse attendance and a massive news media presence.
Located at Freedom Square at the edge of Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington, several hundred people attended the rally which was more an anti-war rally than an anti-capitalist. They played off of the “Occupy DC” protesters who camped a few blocks away at McPherson Square.
This confusion led to many in the news media to believe they were the same group. At least 12 TV crews and four live television production trucks descended on the square. Here is the line up of live TV trucks:
The Freedom Plaza rally was a hodgepodge of issues ranging from D.C. statehood, wind power, opposition to Wal-Mart and U.S. war making and even protests over the seed company Monsanto. Corporate capitalism only came up intermittently. It looked more like a Woodstock Nation peace rally. Here is a typical Woodstock Nation scene at the plaza. Looks more like circa 1970 rather than 2011, doesn’t it?
Tellingly, no unions were present at the event. Nor were there any Democratic lawmakers. This is not yet the “anti-tea party” movement Democrats may want to embrace.
On topics, the protesters were all over the place. Here a guy is opposed to corporate tax cheats and oil spills, but in favor of windmills.
These two guys were against the “Israeli lobby.” Note the Star of David inserted into the word “War” in “War Lobby.”
A lone protester complained about the company Monsanto, which manufactures genetically modified seed. Not sure how Monsanto has gotten into the government:
The protesters were nearly exclusively white. The lack of African Americans or Hispanics did not seem to bother the crowd. Here are about 100 of them sitting in front of a small stage. There are few people on the other side of the camera crews at the back.
Speaking of the news media, here is a nice shot of those cameras on tripods facing the stage. This does not include the half dozen roving TV camera crews. You’d think it was a national event!
Probably ignored by the national news was the smattering of “Truthers” throughout the crowd. These are people who believe the United States was behind the September 11 attacks, not al Qaeda. Here is one man wearing an “Investigate 9/11″ Shirt:
Isolationists also peppered the crowd. Found on the ground near the “Occupy DC” area were a bunch of Ron Paul for President signs. The anti-war crowd obviously attracted some isolationists too:
At times the group was openly hostile at times to Obama. It’s ironic that today at the White House the President cited the anti-Wall Street protesters as people who were on his side. These folks were not necessarily his friends. This sign was displayed at the perimeter of the rally site. It equates the crimes of Bush to Obama.
Below, this union man from Erie, Pennsylvania sported an anti-Obama T-Shirt. He said “The President is for the corporations, not for the working people. He’s been on the corporate dole since day one.” He is a member of the United Electrical Workers Union:
The group spouted militancy that reflected by many hard left groups. The clenched fist was one that was prominent. They believe it “the struggle” is not over:
It is unclear whether the anti-capitalist protests are a new political phenomena or just an amalgam of the old Left. Today’s turnout suggested it’s just the latter.
It will be interesting to see the media spin on the event.