Monday, October 31, 2011

Who is feeding the Occupiers?

This is an article from the New York post about the "professional homeless" who are descending on Zucotti Park.

What I'd like to know is...who is buying the food that the protester's kitchen staff are cooking?

Why are these people - the actual protesters - even getting this free food? Why aren't they paying for it themselves?

It would seem to me that there would be an easy way to stop the homeless from getting the food (although, really, the homeless need the food! Why are they being discriminated against? For shame!)

Just give out special IDs to each of the protesters. If someone doesn't have an ID, they don't get any food.

Or would that be too much like some kind of racism... expecting people to be able to show ID when the homeless are just trying to get a better life by getting the free food - and there's soooo much of it so why does it matter? (Okay, I'm not putting that analogy elqouently, but hopefully the point is getting across. The Occupy folks are treating the homeless like Americans are treating illegal aliens! How dare they!)

From NYPost: Occupy Wall Street kitchen staff protesting fixing food for freeloaders
The Occupy Wall Street volunteer kitchen staff launched a “counter” revolution yesterday -- because they’re angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for “professional homeless” people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters.

For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep’s-milk-cheese salad.

They will also provide directions to local soup kitchens for the vagrants, criminals and other freeloaders who have been descending on Zuccotti Park in increasing numbers every day. [How dare they call "vagrants" freeloaders! And if the Occupy folks send them away, on whom will they freeload then?]

To show they mean business, the kitchen staff refused to serve any food for two hours yesterday in order to meet with organizers to air their grievances, sources said.

As the kitchen workers met with the “General Assembly’’ last night, about 300 demonstrators stormed from the park to Reade Street and Broadway, where they violently clashed with cops.

Officers made at least 10 arrests when rowdy demonstrators refused to get out of the street and stop blocking traffic. A dozen cops on scooters tried to force them back to the sidewalk.

There were no reported injuries.

The demonstrators said they were angry over the violence in Oakland.
[So they go looking for a fight because cops in a different city then theirs resorted to force? What, do they think the same cops are in two places at once? ]

After making their way to Union Square, many of the protesters returned to Zuccotti.

The Assembly announced the three-day menu crackdown announced earlier in the day -- insisting everybody would be fed something during that period.

Some protesters threatened that the high-end meals could be cut off completely if the vagrants and criminals don’t disperse.

Unhappiness with their unwelcome guests was apparent throughout the day.

“We need to limit the amount of food we’re putting out” to curb the influx of derelicts, said Rafael Moreno, a kitchen volunteer. [Yet if Republicans try to curb the amount of welfare being handed out, to curb the influx of illegal immigrants...why, that's a whole nuther story!]

A security volunteer added that the cooks felt “overworked and underappreciated.”

Many of those being fed “are professional homeless people. They know what they’re doing,” said the guard at the food-storage area.

Today, a limited menu of sandwiches, chips and some hot food will be doled out -- so legitimate protesters will have a day to make arrangements for more upscale weekend meals.

Protesters got their first taste of the revolt within the revolt yesterday when the kitchen staff served only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chips after their staff meeting.

Organizers took other steps to police the squatters, who they said were lured in from other parks with the promise of free meals.

A team of 10 security volunteers moved in to the trouble-prone southwest section of Zuccotti Park in a show of force to confront them. [Kind of what the police try to do in their jobs, eh?]

“We’re not going to let some members of this community destroy the whole movement,” a volunteer said.

Some arguments broke out as the security team searched tents -- but no violence erupted.

Overall security at the park had deteriorated to the point where many frightened female protesters had abandoned the increasingly out-of-control occupation, security- team members said.

Rumors swirled that one homeless man had pulled a knife in a dispute the night before -- and that there had been yet another case of groping.

But protesters and a cop on duty told The Post that most of the crime goes unreported, because of a bizarre “stop snitching” rule.

“What’s happening in there is staying in there,” said the cop.

Are police at fault for homeless showing up at OWS sites

Rush read a couple of reports from various OWS locations - there's a lot more disgusting behavior going on there then he read, but in the second paragraph below he says that it's the police that are telling the homeless to go to these OWS sites - where they can get free food and booze.

Well...most homeless would probably have been able to figure that out for themselves...
RUSH: This next one, you gotta be yanking my chain -- or maybe your own chain. Occupy Wall Street in Madison, Wisconsin, has been denied a demonstration renewal permit because of public masturbation. Yes, it's right here. When I read this I said, "You gotta be yanking my chain." "City officials temporarily denied Occupy Madison a new street use permit Wednesday after protesters violated public health and safety conditions and failed to follow the correct processes to renew or amend a permit. The permit, which expired Wednesday at noon," this is last week "required Occupy Madison protesters to relocate from their current space at 30 West Mifflin Street, also called 30 on the Square.

Madison parks official Laura Bauer said a neighboring hotel's staff voiced concerns about having to recently escort hotel employees to and from bus stops late at night due to inappropriate behavior, allegedly including public masturbation, from street protesters."

And in New York it's hearsay and merely an allegation, but if this is true, it's intriguing. Since police resources are being diverted to babysit the Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York, it says here, and I don't know the source of this, it didn't print out. Two different drunks -- well, never mind, I can't do this because I don't know what this is. Apparently what's happening here is that the New York Police Department is telling the homeless to head down to Zuccotti Park. That's the upshot of this story. The homeless are being told by the cops to head down to Zuccotti Park. They're telling them that there's free food down there, that there's booze, and it's a grand time to be had. So one of the reasons the homeless are gravitating there is because of the cops, according to this story. Now, the New York police department press office declined to comment about this, but that is apparently what is happening.


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*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day
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*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties.

A Payout Doesn't Mean Someone's Guilty

In our skewed legal system, paying someone money to quash a lawsuit not not automatically mean that the payer is guilty and that the payee deserves the money.

Lawsuits cost money, and there are plenty of amublance-chasing lawyers who will start lawsuits for free - collecting their 50% or more after they've got a settlement for their client.

Businesses have insurance for just such eventualities - and insurance companies will typically pay a certain sum of money to quash the lawsuit, so they don't have to pay double or triple that amount defending themselves in court. They then might come out the winner - but only after losing a substantial amount of money.

That's why when somebody sues somebody else, they go after everybody even tangentially related to the original incident, because they want to tap as many pockets as they can.

(Pretty soon we'll be at the point where the parents of somebody who kills somebody else by DUI, will be sued for not educating their child better not to drink and drive.)

So now we've got the fact that Herman Cain was accused of sexual harrassment and apparently payouts were made to the women who accused him. Interesting that that's coming out now, when he's so popular, instead of at the very beginning of his campaign.

In any event, sexual harrasment is not rape, and we all know Bill Clinton was accused many times of sexual harrasment to no avail. And when he finally was found to have shtooped (I believe that's the term) dozens of women while in office, no one on the Democrat side cared.

Rush had a lot to say about the subject today - he at least is defending Cain, and chastizing other Republicans for not coming to the man's defense.

I hope this does not negatively impact Cain's campaign. And why should it. Let's say he "did" harass a couple of women 20 years ago - lawsuit was brought, penalty was paid, now he knows better. Surely people are allowed to learn from their mistakes? Now...if someone stepped forward today and accused him, that'd be different.

Just goes to show...if you're a politician, you'd better lead a squeaky clean life because any past mistakes will come back to bite you in the butt, and depending on if you're a Democrat or a Republican, end your political career.

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My Schedule of Regular Posts:
*Monday through Friday morning - schedules of President, VP and Secretary of State and her diplomats
*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day
*Monday through Friday throughout the day - My posts on anything that I feel like talking about. At least one or two a day, sometimes more.
*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties.

31 Oct 2011, Mon, Rush Limbaugh headlines

--We Should Not be Surprised by the Left's Racist Hit Job on Herman Cain
--Disgusting Stories from OWS Protests
--First Lady Dispatched to Attack the Achievers
--Who Leaked the Cain Story?
--The Incredible Steve Jobs Bio
--Coke Launches Idiotic New Campaign
--If Cain Was a Democrat, the Women Accusers Would be Under Assault
--Smoking Gun: The Government Caused the Subprime Mortgage Crisis
--Caller Scolds Host on Subject Matter
--Morning Update: Occupy Idiocy
Rush Stack of Stuff
--Cain Hit With Smear That He's a Clinton
--Snowstorm Hits Northeast, Algore Silent
--Steelers Whip Pats
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My Schedule of Regular Posts:
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*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties
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What is the American Nuclear Society?

>>Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller attends the American Nuclear Society Winter Meeting and participates in a panel on Treaty Verification and Arms Control Policy.

What is the American Nuclear Society?

From their website: http://www.new.ans.org
A Brief History of the American Nuclear Society
The Beginnings

The American Nuclear Society was launched in the mid-1950s, a time of growing interest in employing peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology for bettering the lives of people in the United States and around the world.

President Eisenhower had presented his dramatic 1953 "Atoms for Peace" speech to the United Nations, proposing international knowledge-sharing for development of civilian nuclear science and technology. While a number of associations already had nuclear divisions or groups, many people felt that a new organization was needed. Following its establishment in 1954 as a not-for-profit association of individual members, the Society quickly added breadth and depth to its activities, resulting in an organization that was both influenced by and had an influence on the burgeoning nuclear field.

The name of the organization generated considerable discussion back in 1954. Among the other names suggested were Society of Nuclear Engineering, American Society of Nuclear Technology, Institute of Nuclear Engineering, Association of Nuclear Engineers, Association of Nuclear Science and Technology, and Society of Nuclear Scientists and Engineers. Ultimately (in October 1954) the name American Nuclear Society won the day -- and the decades.

In the mid-to-late 1950s, ANS was already putting in place many of the elements that still make up the organization. In June 1955 ANS held its first Annual Meeting and elected its first President, in March 1956 launched its first journal (Nuclear Science and Engineering), and in November 1956 formed its Standards Committee. By the end of the 1950s, ANS had three professional divisions, 14 local sections, and 11 student branches.

During the 1960s ANS grew rapidly, driven in no small part by the construction of many nuclear plants in the United States and elsewhere for generating electricity, and also by the research in using the technology for a variety of other uses, from aerospace to merchant ships to medicine. By the end of the 1960s, ANS had 12 divisions, 28 local sections, 40 student branches, three periodicals (two journals and a magazine), and was running two national meetings and several topical meetings each year.

Each succeeding decade has brought changes both to ANS and to nuclear science and technology. In the 1970s, ANS became even more international minded than it already was, and also took its first formal steps in outreach activities. The 1980s became a time of focus on operating the plants, since there were no new U.S. plant orders, and an increased emphasis on radioactive waste management; the U.S. federal government enacted major legislation about both low- and high-level wastes and ANS started its Fuel Cycle and Waste Management Division.

In the 1990s, amid consolidation in the industrial area, ANS increased its visibility in Washington, D.C., carried out its first professionally directed strategic planning, and worked on shoring up the supply of qualified people for the nuclear field.

While ANS is national and international in its scope, its base is its headquarters in La Grange Park, Illinois. It did not start there, however. As with many associations, ANS moved around some during its early years. ANS's first "home" was in space provided by the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies in Tennessee. In 1958 the headquarters were moved to small offices in downtown Chicago, and in 1964 the headquarters were moved to larger offices spaces in Hinsdale, Illinois. Finally, in 1977 the Society moved to its own headquarters building (owned by ANS) in La Grange Park.

Today
ANS has made, and continues to make, important contributions to the use of nuclear science and technology, and consequently to the larger society beyond ANS. It achieves this through its many products and services, including meetings, publications, standards, outreach, honors and awards, scholarships, teachers workshops, Organization Members, and representation in Washington, D.C.

ANS continues to be a professional organization of scientists, engineers, and other professionals devoted to the peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology. Its 10,500 members (in 46 countries) come from diverse technical disciplines ranging from physics and nuclear safety to operations and power, and from across the full spectrum of the national and international enterprise, including government, academia, research laboratories, and private industry. Making it all succeed are a Board of Directors, 21 standing committees, 18 professional divisions (and one technical group), 54 local sections (including 7 overseas and one affiliated society), 34 student sections, 24 plant branches, liaison agreements with some 30 non-U.S. nuclear societies (and one organization), and a headquarters staff of about 50 people.
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My Schedule of Regular Posts:
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*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day
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31 Oct 2011, Mon, SoS Clinton and Staff Schedule

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/appt/2011/10/176381.htm
SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON:
1:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Secretary of Commerce John Bryson, at the Department of State.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

2:15 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with the assistant secretaries, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

7:45 p.m. Secretary Clinton delivers keynote remarks at the 2011 Annual Conference on U.S.-Turkey Relations, hosted by the American-Turkish Council, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on 22nd Street in Washington, DC.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

DEPUTY SECRETARY BILL BURNS:
1:30 p.m. Deputy Secretary Burns attends a meeting at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)

5:30 p.m. Deputy Secretary Burns meets with German National Security Advisor Cristoph Heusgen.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

DEPUTY SECRETARY TOM NIDES:
7:30 a.m. Deputy Secretary Nides participates in a secure video conference with Embassy Islamabad and USAID.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

TBD Deputy Secretary Nides meets with Quartet Representative to the Middle East Tony Blair.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

US FOR ECONOMIC, ENERGY AND AGRICULTURAL AFFAIRS ROBERT HORMATS:
4:00 p.m. Under Secretary Hormats meets with French Ambassador Francois Delattre, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

US FOR DEMOCRACY AND GLOBAL AFFAIRS MARIA OTERO:
Under Secretary Otero is on foreign travel in Pakistan through November 4.

US FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS WENDY SHERMAN:
1:00 p.m. Under Secretary Sherman meets with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in Washington, DC.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

US FOR ARMS CONTROL AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS ELLEN TAUSCHER:
1:30 p.m. Under Secretary Tauscher attends a meeting at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)

2:00 p.m. Under Secretary Tauscher participates in the Global Approach to 21st Century Biological Threats Conference, at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)

AS FOR SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIAN AFFAIRS ROBERT BLAKE:
Assistant Secretary Blake is on foreign travel in Istanbul, Turkey through November 3.

AS FOR INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AFFAIRS WILLIAM BROWNFIELD:
9:00 a.m. Assistant Secretary Brownfield participates in the 2011 U.S.-China Joint Liaison Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

3:30 p.m. Assistant Secretary Brownfield meets with Guatemalan Police Reform Commissioner Helen Mack, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

ACTING AS FOR EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS J. ADAM ERELI:
Acting Assistant Secretary Ereli delivers remarks at the U.S.-Indonesia Higher Education Summit, at the Department of Education.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)
Click here for more information.

AS FOR ARMS CONTROL, VERIFICATION AND COMPLIANCE ROSE GOTTEMOELLER:
4:00 p.m. Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller attends the American Nuclear Society Winter Meeting and participates in a panel on Treaty Verification and Arms Control Policy.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

AS FOR OCEANS, ENVIRONMENT AND SCIENCE KERRI-ANN JONES:
Assistant Secretary Jones is on foreign travel in the United Kingdom and Ireland through November 2. On Monday in Belfast, she meets with government officials, academics and scientists involved with the U.S.-Ireland Research & Development Partnership. Click here for more information.

AS FOR DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR MICHAEL POSNER:
Assistant Secretary Posner and Special Representative Mitchell are on foreign travel in Burma through November 4.

AS ANN STOCK (R):9:00 a.m. Assistant Secretary Stock (R) participates in the U.S.-Indonesia Higher Education Summit, at the Department of Education.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)
Click here for more information.

3:00 p.m. Assistant Secretary Stock (R) attends a White House Historical Association reception at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)

AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE FOR GLOBAL WOMEN’S ISSUES MELANNE VERVEER:
Ambassador Verveer is on foreign travel in Paris, France to participate in the pre-G20 event, “Growing Economies through Women’s Entrepreneurship.” At the conference, Ambassador Verveer is discussing the upcoming High-Level Aid Effectiveness Forum in Busan and the mWomen initiative and meets with Indonesian Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Mari Pangestu.


PRESS BRIEFING SCHEDULE:
12:30 p.m. Daily Press Briefing with Spokesperson Victoria Nuland

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My Schedule of Regular Posts:
*Monday through Friday morning - schedules of President, VP and Secretary of State and her diplomats
*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day
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*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties
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31 Oct 2011, Mon, Pres and VP schedules

http://www.whitehouse.gov/schedule/complete
9:30 am The President and the Vice President receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

10:00 am The President meets with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
Oval Office
Closed Press

12:20 pm The President takes the next step in his “We Can't Wait” campaign and signs an Executive Order
Oval Office
Pooled Press

http://www.whitehouse.gov/schedule/vice-president
9:30 am The President and the Vice President receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

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My Schedule of Regular Posts:
*Monday through Friday morning - schedules of President, VP and Secretary of State and her diplomats
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*Monday through Friday throughout the day - My posts on anything that I feel like talking about. At least one or two a day, sometimes more.
*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The real reason the US Mail is going bankrupt

From KentWillard.com: Fake Postal Crisis
The manufactured crisis was created by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006.

This law requires the post office to fund the NPV of its health care premiums (active and retirees) for the next 50 years within the next 10 years (by 2016). Sounds prudent, doesn't it? Just one problem. Nobody does this, because it is way too expensive. Almost everyone (public or private) mostly pays as they go.

Do you (or your employer) set aside money for your food, housing, or healthcare for the next 50 years? After all, you know that you will someday need that money. Or are you planning to pay for most of that with future income? If we all tried to save this much money, then we wouldn't have money for buying anything else, nor for that matter would there be a place to invest that much money.

The post office has already set aside $42 billion, enough to pay for lifetime health care benefits of 100% of their retired postal workers and covered spouses. The post office is now asking for relief. They want to get out of the government health care plan - which is itself just a cafeteria plan of different private health care options (the same thing as Congress gets; and most employees and Congressmen go with Blue Cross). Getting out of the current healthcare plan allows them to withdraw their $42 billion and buy whatever healthcare they want with it.

CNBC Aso Covered it, but disputes that it's a problem: The truth about the post office's financial mess:
The financial woes of the U.S. Postal System have become a point of contention on Capitol Hill. The Postal Service is supposed to make a $5.5 billion payment to its retiree health care fund by November 18th... but doesn't have the money.

US Postal Service workers have a retiree health care benefit in addition to their pension. Before Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, the USPS operated under a pay-as-you-go model for retiree health care funding. The new law requires the Postal Service to pre-fund its benefit obligations.

"The idea is that enough money is saved over the course of a career that the benefit is fully paid for by the time the worker retires.

Thanks to these prefunding payments, the Postal Service has greatly reduced its unfunded obligations for retiree health benefits. At the end of fiscal year 2010, these obligations were under $49 billion – a substantial sum, but much more manageable. If the Postal Service continues making its prefunding payments, its unfunded obligations for retiree health benefits will be around $33 billion by the end of the decade. And the postal service will be on course to pay these benefits over time," a Congressional insider explained.

But this pre-funding has become a lightning rod of controversy.

Members of the postal workers union say the pre-funding requirement has created a fiscal mess. Some people have even claimed that law has the effect of requiring the postal service to fund retirement obligations for people who are not yet employed by the USPS--potential future employees.

No one ever intended the law to work that way. And, in fact, it doesn't. Although accounting rules require the postal service to calculate future liabilities, including those for projected future employees, the law only requires pre-funding of obligations to actual current and past employees.

In light of all the controversy, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) sent off a series of questions on the pre-funding controversy to the Congressional Research Service to get to the bottom of the question: is pre-funding the reason for the USPS fiscal woes?

C-Suite Insider has exclusively obtained the CRS Memorandum on Postal Service Retiree Health Issue to Chairman Issa as well as an email explaining in further detail their findings. Below is a verbatim email correspondence between the CRS and Chairman Issa's office on the prefunding of 75 years of retiree health care benefits in just 10 years.

"The confusion over 75 years may be due to an "accounting" and not an "actuarial or funding" issue. They only have to fund the future liability of their current or former workforce. This would include some actuarial estimate about the mortality rates of their current workers (I.e. how long they live). So a 25 year old worker would have an average life expectancy (from birth) of 78.7 years. Thus, they would have to project future retiree health benefits for this individual up to about 54 years in the future.

But for accounting purposes they must estimate the future liability over a 75 year period (according to OPM financial accounting guidelines). In this case, they would make some assumptions about new entrants into the workforce and addresses your second question.

Theoretically, these new entrants could include someone who is not born yet. While they have to account for these future liabilities on their financial statements they do not have to fund them if they are not related to their current or former workforce."

Based on the findings of this memorandum, I asked Chairman Issa what his message is to the US Postal Service Unions who say Congress is to be blamed for this crisis.

Chairman Issa: Union leaders must understand that there is no easy fix to a crisis created by declining mail revenues. The often non-existent accounting issues unions want to talk about don’t address fundamental changes to delivery created by the growth of the Internet. Union leaders need to work with, not against, Congress on postal reform, because the alternative is a possible shut-down of the Postal Service next summer.

LL: The Postal unions are urging Congress to allow the Postal Service to stop making these prefunding payments. What would happen?


Chairman Issa: The Postal Service's unfunded liabilities will soar to around $100 billion by the end of the decade. This will reverse hard-won progress. The unfunded obligations will be 25% higher than they were before the Postal Service started its prefunding payments.

With declining revenue, this huge unfunded liability would be a burden that the Postal Service could not afford to bear.

LL: So bottom line, the unions claim of the postal service pre-funding pensions for future workers is false?


Chairman Issa: Absolutely false. The non-partisan Congressional Research Service recently found that pre-funding requirements match Congress’ intent when they were enacted in 2006. The intent is to ensure that the growing unfunded liability for retiree health care for current employees is covered. These employees negotiated for and earned these benefits with their work, so USPS should pay for them.

Likewise, USPS must be self-sustaining, and not funded by the taxpayers. Prefunding is a prudent measure to protect employee’s earned benefits and taxpayer money.

LL: Are the postal unions resorting to fear tactics and myths to scare Americans about what is really going on?


Chairman Issa: Postal workers who have been writing their members of Congress or protesting are just responding to the information that they have been given by their own union leadership. They have been told this money is not covering their benefits, but in fact covering benefits of people who haven’t been born yet. That’s absolutely false.

They have been told there is an overpayment in another pension account that could cover their retiree health care benefits. The non-partisan Government Accountability Office, which audits financial reports for the entire federal government, has weighed in to clearly state that allegation is false. They have been led to believe outrageously false things about Congress “stealing” their money to pay for other things.

The truth will get out there and postal union members will finally understand we’re looking out for them as well as the taxpayer. Postal reform is necessary to secure their earned benefits.

LL: There are a lot of plans out there when it comes to reforming and strengthening the US Postal System including yours. What is the viability of a Senate Bill?

Chairman Issa: What Senate bill? The Senate has a number of different proposals, including one that mirrors the House proposal, but haven’t been able to move forward with anything. So far, only the Issa-Ross Postal Reform Act has shown that it has the necessary support to advance. I believe there needs to be a negotiated bill that can pass both the House and Senate, but so far only the House bill has demonstrated an ability to serve as a viable beginning for discussion.

LL: Americans are tired of bailouts. Should the US Government bailout the US Postal Service?

Chairman Issa: Even if taxpayers forked over every dollar that the Postal Service has ever asked for through multiple backdoor bailout requests, it would only kick the can down the road. The Postmaster General told New York City letter carriers that even if their preferred bailout bill was signed into law they would still probably shut down next summer. A bailout is simply not an option. We need real reform.

LL: If the postal service cannot pay, American taxpayers will be on the hook for those postal benefits correct?

Chairman Issa: That’s correct. Postal employees are federal employees. All federal pension and retirement benefits are paid from the U.S. Treasury. Since the Postal Service’s operating costs are collected from ratepayers, the Postal Service pays the U.S. Treasury for the costs of federal pension benefits postal workers are legally entitled to receive. Even if the Postal Service cannot or does not make these payments, postal workers are still entitled to pension benefits from the Federal government. So it’s ultimately taxpayers who get stuck with the bill if the Postal Service can’t pay the Treasury for the costs of pensions. Check out this video for an animated explanation.

LL: Based on the restructuring proposed, how many jobs are expected to be lost?

Chairman Issa: Downsizing the Postal Service can be done without major disruption to postal workers in the middle of their careers. There are 150,000 postal employees eligible to retire today, with full benefits.

In the next four years, there will be an additional 100,000 employees ready to retire with full benefits. The Postmaster General has proposed changes that would shrink the workforce by 220,000 individuals. If we can agree on a method to incentivize retirement or focus workforce reductions on those who can retire with full benefits, downsizing can occur without adding to the unemployment rolls.

LL: For those Americans who do not want to see their Saturday mail delivery discontinued or post office closed. What's your message to them?

Chairman Issa: Personally, I do not want to see the Postal Service end Saturday delivery or see post offices closed. But the Postal Service is losing $10 billion a year and needs to find ways to cut costs.

It’s a common refrain in this debate to hear particular stakeholders express support for cutting costs – but just not costs that affect expensive aspects of the Postal Service that are most individually important to them. Saturday delivery is a benefit we all enjoy but, when we look at the finances, it is something that may not be worth the $3 billion annual cost. According to polling by Quinnipiac University, 79% of voters favor ending Saturday mail delivery to help solve the Postal Service's financial problems.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What's Worse: A Comparison, or a Call for Murder?

A couple of weeks ago, singer Hank Williams jr. compared Democrat Obama meeting Republican Boehner with Nazi Hitler meeting Jew Netanyahu. He wasn't comparing Obama with Hitler - just the circumstances of the meeting - two people on polar sides of issues getting together.

But everyone in the media cried out that he had compared Obama to Hitler, and as a result he lost his gig as Sunday night football intro singer.

Just saw the below article, from Fox News, about some guy named Orlando Jones. He's a comedian - someone I never heard of, but he called for someone to kill Sarah Palin. Has he lost any gigs because of it? Has he apologized. (You know if he does it will be all right. The only folks whose apologies never do them any good are caucasians, seems like. (For a couple of examples: anyone heard from Michael Richards aka Kramer recently? Excoriated because he made a stupid reference to lynching in answer to a heckler. Meantime the homophobic black comedian Tracy Morgan's career continues to thrive, and the gay community accepted his apology. )

News today is that orlando Jones has apologized, offering pretty much the same explanation for his tweet as Hank Williams Jr did for his joke.
On his Facebook page Thursday, his apology read: “I pray that no harm comes to Governor Palin. I’m not a political pundit and I certainly don’t believe in murder. I think laughter is great medicine. I’d love to elevate the conversation but no one seems interested in that. So I’ll keep on going for the smiles even when I miss by a mile.”

The apology is a reversal since he first said when pressed about his tweet on Tuesday: “My job as an artist is to hold up a mirror to society. I do not decide how people feel or react to that… I offer no apologies.”

Most outlets covering the story – and Jones wrote on his Facebook page that they were doing so only to to draw “attention and ad dollars” – condemned the artist. “What a twit,” wrote the Chicago Sun Times, which quoted a secret service agent who wondered how “a public person like Orlando Jones would be so stupid as to make any kind of suggestion – joking or not – about killing a politician or other high-profile individual.”

Meantime, at least one paper still says its Palin's fault Gifford got shot, because her admakers put a crosshairs on a picture of Gifford's district, and never mind that that crosshairs graphic has been used for decades by political admakers on both sides of the aisle.

From 3 days ago, Fox News:

Orlando Jones slammed for tweets calling on liberals to 'kill Sarah Palin'

Celebrities have been known to post tasteless tweets on Twitter, but critics are slamming comedian Orlando Jones for crossing the line when he tweeted that liberals should “Kill Sarah Palin.”

Following the death of Muammar Qaddafi, the MADtv star tweeted, “Libyan Rebels kill Gaddafi, if American liberals want respect they better stop listening to Aretha & kill Sarah Palin (:”

Despite his addition of a smiley face emoticon, the Twitter community did not react well to Orlando’s post.


“Why does @TheOrlandoJones think it’s funny to call for Sarah Palin to be murdered? #palin #liberaltolerance” said one tweet.

Jones shot back, “No I don’t. I think it’s funny you are so upset about my inane tweet.”

After receiving widespread criticism for his hateful tweet, the comedian spent the better part of Tuesday attempting to defend himself.

“My tweet was farcical not funny or a call to action. 100 bucks 2 the 1st person who can count the # of Palin jokes about killing Democrats(:,” Jones tweeted.

One person tweeted in response, “@theorlandojones why would you say to kill Sarah Palin then? Who does that? It’s inciting to others..”

Jones tweeted back, “Inciting? I agree to disagree. As positive comments do little to incite good. Those perceived as negative do just as much(:”

Finally, after dozens of tweets, Jones decided that 140 characters weren’t enough to properly articulate himself and posted the following statement to his Facebook account: “My job as an artist is to hold up a mirror to society. I do not decide how people feel or react to that. My tweet hit a nerve. That’s good. The fact that is has taken precedent over the serious issues that face us is not good. That’s media outlets vying for attention and ad dollars.

“Was it my best line? No. It would be great if those individuals who are genuinely outraged redirected that energy toward the greater good. Any anger directed at me and my right to free speech is an absolute waste of time. I am not a statesman. My comments reflect no political affiliation. It’s just me being me, in a world that will never comfortably mix political correctness with artistic expression. For that, I offer no apologies, excuses or wisdom.”

Early this morning, Jones remained defiant, tweeting, “Its tempting&more comfortable 2 keep your head down, plod along, appease those who demand: ‘Sit down&shut up, that’s a quitter’s way out.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

First Lady Smears Republicans

Nothing new here, attack-wise.

But let's not forget that at least 2 of the 3 women on the Supreme Court really aren't qualified to be there. (And I'm sure a few of the guys aren't, either!)

One really has to ask oneself, should the President be allowed to appoint judges to the Supreme Court? The President leaves after 4 or 8 years, but we're stuck with that Supreme Court Judge for 50 years!
Rush: It's from a website: White House Dossier. "In a chilling appraisal of President Obama’s Republican opposition, First Lady Michelle Obama Thursday suggested a Republican victory in the 2012 presidential election would result in curbs on freedom of speech and religion. Speaking at a fundraiser at a private residence in Tampa, Mrs. Obama noted the power of the president to appoint members of the Supreme Court. She clearly indicated that a Republican would select justices who would attack basic First Amendment rights, saying, 'that's what's at stake' in the election," and there's a "White House transcript: 'Let's not forget about what it meant when my husband appointed those two brilliant Supreme Court justices and for the first time in history, our daughters -- and our sons -- watched three women take their seats on our nation's highest court.

"'But more importantly, let's not forget the impact those decisions will have on our lives for decades to come -- on our privacy and security, on whether we can speak freely, worship openly, and love whomever we choose. That is what’s at stake here.'" This is what you get when you can't run on your husband's economic record. This is what happens when you can't run on your husband's achievements because there aren't any. This is what you get: "Republicans want dirty air. Republicans want dirty water. Republicans want fewer people alive," and now, "Republicans don't want you to be able to speak, and the Republicans don't want you to be able to practice your religion." This is what they have. This is what they're worth. This is all they've got. They are morally bankrupt.

This is how they have to go out and raise funds. There is nothing, not one syllable from either Michelle Obama or Barack Obama or anybody in this campaign that's inspiring or uplifting.



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My Schedule of Regular Posts:
*Monday through Friday morning - schedules of President, VP and Secretary of State and her diplomats
*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day
*Monday through Friday throughout the day - My posts on anything that I feel like talking about. At least one or two a day, sometimes more.
*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties.

The Obvious Reason Why Unemployment is Going Down

I live in Cheyenne, WY, and everybody is hiring. Hobby Lobby, Office Depot, Walmart...

Why?

Well..because its 3 months to Christmas and businesses want seasonal help! The same thing happened last year at about this time. Unemployment numbers went down, Obama proclaimed that the stimulus was helping, but after Jan 1 unemployment numbers crept up again because people had lost their seasonal jobs.

_______________
My Schedule of Regular Posts:
*Monday through Friday morning - schedules of President, VP and Secretary of State and her diplomats
*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day
*Monday through Friday throughout the day - My posts on anything that I feel like talking about. At least one or two a day, sometimes more.
*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties
.

28 Oct 2011, Fri, Rush Limbaugh headlines

--El Rushbo at Career Crossroads?
--See, I Told You So: Media Wants Kent State-Style Violence
--Over 100 Colleges and Universities Charge $50K or More a Year
--Spin Begins: The Economy is Back!
--Seminar Caller on OWS and Tea Party
--Cain and Perry Break the Mold
--GOP Leaders Fear Another Debt Fight
--Callers on the Obama Economy
--Theories on the State of Your Host
--What's the Difference Between a Communist and a Democrat?
--Smokers Deserve a Medal
--First Lady: GOP Will Limit Free Speech, Religion
--The Consistency of the US Media
--A Libertarian Off the Grid
Stack of Stuff
--Obamacare Popularity is at All-Time Low
--Protesters Prepare for Valley Forge Moment
--Elizabeth Warren: Mother of Occupy Wall Street
--Medicaid Spending Stimulus Expires
--Did Obama Appointee Access Confidential Database to Smear Perry?
__________
My Schedule of Regular Posts:
*Monday through Friday morning - schedules of President, VP and Secretary of State and her diplomats
*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day
*Monday through Friday throughout the day - My posts on anything that I feel like talking about. At least one or two a day, sometimes more.
*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties
.

What is CISAC?

Note, over the next few weeks I'll be sharing the name and functions of the various organizations that are visited by or visit the Department of State.

CISAC is the Center for International Security and Cooperation http://cisac.stanford.edu/
At 9:30 am today, Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller spoke at a seminar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC).

From their website:
The Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), part of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), is an interdisciplinary university-based research and training center addressing some of the world's most difficult security problems with policy-relevant solutions. The Center is committed to scholarly research and to giving independent advice to governments and international organizations. In that effort, both parts of our name are crucial: we seek international security and we recognize that cooperation among peoples and governments is often the best way to achieve this.

CISAC is co-directed by Siegfried Hecker, professor (research) in the Department of Management Science and Engineering, and Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, a professor and Deane F. Johnson faculty scholar at Stanford Law School and professor (by courtesy) of political science.
Interdisciplinary

CISAC recognizes that addressing security challenges today often requires close collaboration among scientists, social scientists and policy experts, and that a multidisciplinary approach is needed to address complex challenges. The Center draws on leading scholars from a range of disciplines, integrating political, regional, and scientific expertise in international affairs. CISAC works along other lines as well, bringing together scholars with legal and medical professionals, military leaders, government officials, business people and members of the community.

CISAC researchers have produced award-winning books and highly influential reports on U.S. nuclear weapons strategy, biological terrorism, the proliferation of nuclear weapons in South and East Asia, civil wars, and United Nations peacekeeping.
Policy Relevant

CISAC's faculty and staff, several of whom have served in presidential administrations, represent a mixture of scholarly achievement and policy expertise. CISAC's scholars engage in longterm, independent thinking and research that can provide new bases of understanding for policymakers that is difficult for government officials and staff to pursue while in office. CISAC's faculty and researchers also provide independent advice--giving briefings in Washington and foreign capitals, participating in advisory boards and panels, and providing expert analysis to international organizations.
Training

The Center is dedicated to teaching and training in international security and cooperation. CISAC has a vibrant fellowship program at the predoctoral, postdoctoral, and mid-career levels, and convenes workshops and conferences that attract key policymakers, scholars, and students from around the world. CISAC faculty also teach hundreds of Stanford undergraduates and offer the only undergraduate honors program on international security in the United States, thus playing a key role in training the next generation of security specialists.
CISAC Executive Committee

* William J. Perry, Michael and Barbara Berberian Professor, School of Engineering and Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (committee chair)
* Kenneth Arrow, Joan Kenney Professor of Economics, Emeritus, and Professor of Operations Research, Emeritus
* Coit D. Blacker (ex officio), Director and Senior Fellow at Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Professor of Political Science, by courtesy
* Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, Professor and Deane F. Johnson Faculty Scholar at Stanford Law School; CISAC Co-director
* Edward A. Feigenbaum, Kumagai Professor of Computer Science, Emeritus, and Co-Scientific Director, Knowledge Systems Laboratory, Emeritus
* Siegfried S. Hecker (ex officio), Co-Director of CISAC, Professor (Research) in the Department of Management Science and Engineering, and Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
* David Holloway, Raymond A. Spruance Professor of International History; Senior Fellow; Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; CISAC Faculty Member; Forum on Contemporary Europe Research Affiliate
* Michael A. McFaul, Director, Center for Development, Democracy, and the Rule of Law; Deputy Director, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; Professor of Political Science; Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
* Norman M. Naimark, Robert and Florence McDonnell Professor of Eastern European Studies, Department of History
* M. Elisabeth Paté-Cornell, Burton J. and DeeDee McMurtry Professor in the School of Engineering and a Senior Fellow, by courtesy, at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
* Lee D. Ross, Professor of Psychology
* Scott D. Sagan (ex officio), Professor of Political Science
* Lucy Shapiro, the Virginia and D. K. Ludwig Professor of Developmental Biology at the Stanford School of Medicine and Senior Fellow, by courtesy, at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
* James L. Sweeney, Professor, Department of Management Science and Engineering; Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
* Lawrence M. Wein, Paul E. Holden Professor of Management Science; CISAC Faculty Member




__________
My Schedule of Regular Posts:
*Monday through Friday morning - schedules of President, VP and Secretary of State and her diplomats
*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day*
Monday through Friday throughout the day - My posts on anything that I feel like talking about. At least one or two a day, sometimes more.
*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties.

The Chicago Way... or Just, the Lawyer's Way?..or heck, just business as usual, politics style

Let's not forget that Obama, like most politicians, is a lawyer. It's easy for those folks who know legalize to say one thing and do another.

From Yahoo News: Obama fundraisers have deep ties to lobbyists

President Obama has long talked up his pledge not to accept campaign contributions from lobbyists as a sign that he's serious about ethics reform in Washington. But that hasn't stopped his 2012 campaign from recruiting individuals with strong ties to the lobbying industry to raise cash for his re-election effort.

The New York Times' Eric Lichtblau reports that the Obama campaign is working with at least 15 "bundlers" who are linked to the lobbying industry. This group of lobbying-affiliated fundraisers--who work either working for private consulting firms or corporations--have raised more than $5 million for the campaign.

Technically, the individuals aren't in violation of Obama's self-imposed lobbyist ban because they aren't officially registered as federal lobbyists with the Senate. But there are no illusions about what they actually do for a living.

Among the bundlers on the list, according to the Times: Sally Susman, who heads up lobbying for the drug manufacturer Pfizer, and David L. Cohen, who oversees lobbying for the telecommunications giant Comcast. Both have raised at least $500,000 apiece for Obama's re-election campaign.

Obama aides declined to comment on specific donors, but in a lengthy statement posted on the campaign's website, spokesman Ben LaBolt accused the Times of "missing the forest for the trees." The paper, he said, obscured Obama's "long history of advancing ethics and government reform and brushing right past his opponents' records with nothing but a shrug."

Yet LaBolt didn't respond directly to what could be the most damaging part of the piece: While Obama isn't technically taking cash from "federal lobbyists," his campaign has deeper ties to the lobbying industry than Obama and his aides have advertised.

Instead, LaBolt tried to use the story as an attack on Obama's GOP rivals, including Mitt Romney, who freely and openly raise cash from special interests in Washington.

"Rather than include that context, the Times let the perfect be the enemy of the good, punishing efforts to promote reform," LaBolt complained.

Frankly, there should be no lobbyists, no special interest groups. Well...there can be them, but they shouldn't be allowed to make contributions to politicians - sheer bribery.

___________________
My Schedule of Regular Posts:
*Monday through Friday morning - schedules of President, VP and Secretary of State and her diplomats
*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day
*Monday through Friday throughout the day - My posts on anything that I feel like talking about. At least one or two a day, sometimes more.
*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties.

28 Oct, 2011, SoS Clinton and Staff Schedule - updated

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/appt/2011/10/176349.htm
SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON:
9:30 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

10:15 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Yemeni Nobel Prize Winner Tawakkul Karman, at the Department of State.

1:30 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Counselor Mills, Administrator Shah and the senior development team, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

2:30 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

4:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with President Obama, at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)

DEPUTY SECRETARY BILL BURNS:
Deputy Secretary Burns is on foreign travel in China. Click here for more information.

7:30 a.m. LOCAL Deputy Secretary Burns meets with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, in Beijing, China.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

8:50 p.m. LOCAL Deputy Secretary Burns meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, in Beijing, China.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

10:00 a.m. LOCAL Deputy Secretary Burns meets with Chinese Central Committee International Department Director Wang Jiarui, in Beijing, China.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

1:30 p.m. LOCAL Deputy Secretary Burns meets with Chinese Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun, in Beijing, China.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

4:00 p.m. LOCAL Deputy Secretary Burns meets with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, in Beijing, China.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

6:30 p.m. LOCAL Deputy Secretary Burns meets with Chinese Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun, in Beijing, China.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

DEPUTY SECRETARY TOM NIDES
7:30 a.m. Deputy Secretary Nides holds a secure video conference with Embassy Islamabad.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

11:00 a.m. Deputy Secretary Nides meets with Under Secretary Kennedy and Iraq Transition Coordinator Ambassador Pat Haslach, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

12:30 p.m. Deputy Secretary Nides meets with Pakistan Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

3:15 p.m. Deputy Secretary Nides meets with Ambassador Beth Jones, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

4:00 p.m. Deputy Secretary Nides meets with Greg Dalhberg, Lockheed Martin Corporation, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

5:00 p.m. Deputy Secretary Nides attends a meeting at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)


USAID ADMINISTRATOR RAJ SHAH

10:00 a.m. Administrator Shah attends “USAID at 50: Legacy of Progress and Future of Partnership,” an event with former USAID administrators hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, at CSIS.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

1:30 p.m. Administrator Shah meets with Secretary Clinton, Counselor Mills and the senior development team, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

US FOR ECONOMIC, ENERGY AND AGRICULTURAL AFFAIRS ROBERT HORMATS:
10:00 a.m. Under Secretary Hormats speaks with John Edwin Mroz of the EastWest Institute, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

UNDER SECRETARY FOR DEMOCRACY AND GLOBAL AFFAIRS MARIA OTERO:
2:00 a.m. Under Secretary Otero attends a meeting with Ambassador William Taylor, Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

US FOR ARMS CONTROL AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS ELLEN TAUSCHER:
1:00 p.m. Under Secretary Tauscher officiates the swearing-in ceremony for Assistant Secretary Tom Countryman, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

AS FOR SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIAN AFFAIRS ROBERT BLAKE
11:00 a.m. Assistant Secretary Blake attends a meeting at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)

1:00 p.m. Assistant Secretary Blake delivers remarks at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY HOST)

AS FOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AND NONPROLIFERATION TOM COUNTRYMAN:
1:00 p.m. Assistant Secretary Countryman is sworn in by Under Secretary Tauscher, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

AS FOR ECONOMIC, ENERGY AND BUSINESS AFFAIRS JOSE FERNANDEZ:
Assistant Secretary Fernandez is on foreign travel in the United Arab Emirates through October 28. Click here for more information.

AS FOR ARMS CONTROL, VERIFICATION AND COMPLIANCE ROSE GOTTEMOELLER:
9:30 a.m. Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller speaks to a seminar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC).
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

AS FOR DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR MICHAEL POSNER
11:30 a.m. LOCAL Assistant Secretary Posner receives the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts Humanitarian Service Award, at the University of Michigan.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE FOR GLOBAL WOMEN’S ISSUES MELANNE VERVEER:
9:30 a.m. Ambassador Verveer meets with Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkal Karman, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

10:30 a. m. Ambassador Verveer participates in a discussion on breast cancer and women’s health with Madame Chen Zhili and delegates from the All-China Women’s Federation, in Washington, DC.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

12:30 p. m. Ambassador Verveer hosts a luncheon with senior business leaders in honor of Madame Chen Zhili’s visit, in Washington, DC.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

4:30 p.m. Ambassador Verveer meets with Ambassador Carlos Pascual, Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

SPECIAL ENVOY TO COMBAT AND MONITOR ANTI-SEMITISM HANNAH ROSENTHAL:
9:00 a.m. Special Envoy Rosenthal welcomes and honors members of the Parents Circle - Family Forum, at the Department of State.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE

PRESS BRIEFING SCHEDULE
1:00 p.m. Daily Press Briefing.

_____
My Schedule of Regular Posts:
*Monday through Friday morning - schedules of President, VP and Secretary of State and her diplomats
*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day
*Monday through Friday throughout the day - My posts on anything that I feel like talking about. At least one or two a day, sometimes more.
*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties.

28 Oct, 2011, Fri, Pres and VP Schedules

http://www.whitehouse.gov/schedule

There is no public schedule for either the President or the Vice President today.


__________
My Schedule of Regular Posts:
*Monday through Friday morning - schedules of President, VP and Secretary of State and her diplomats
*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day
*Monday through Friday throughout the day - My posts on anything that I feel like talking about. At least one or two a day, sometimes more.
*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Occupy Oakland protesters

Rush was in fine form with the Occupy "City" protesters, in this instance the folks in Oakland.

This just goes to show that unorganized organizations never get anything done and very easily descend into anarchy. There must be leaders - leaders who are responsible for what the people beneath them are doing.

RUSH: You know, they're doing thermal imaging at night of the Occupy protesters in various places, London, Oakland. Thermal imaging will show who's inside a tent and who's not at night. Ninety percent of the Occupy protest tents in London are empty at night. They're going back to their comfortable homes and coming back and joining the protests during the day.

And this is from the New York Post: "The Occupy Wall Street volunteer kitchen staff launched a 'counter' revolution yesterday -- because they're angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for 'professional homeless' people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters." (laughing) That would be most of the protesters, right? (laughing) Aren't you cooks being a little selfish here? After all, you have food and the homeless people don't have food. Where's the social justice in that? Of course, if you've got food in your kitchen and there are people that don't have food and they show up and want food, aren't you obligated to share your food with them?original

"For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti Bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep's-milk-cheese salad." If these people want gourmet meals so bad, why don't they go to Club Gitmo? "They will also provide directions to local soup kitchens for the vagrants, criminals and other freeloaders who have been descending on Zuccotti Park in increasing numbers every day." (laughing) Ah, folks, I love it. So these protesters who are demanding income redistribution, an end to income and wealth inequality, are attracting criminals, the homeless, a veritable endless parade of human debris who want food, and the cooks are saying, "To hell with you." So here we have the Occupy Wall Street cooks, now part of the 1%. (laughing) They're the haves. They're part of the 1% who won't feed the homeless. They won't share the organic wealth.

And then there's this. The cops somewhere are suing the protestors. A cops union is suing the protestors somewhere in... I think it's New York. Anyway, liberal-on-liberal lawsuits. We got somebody suing Arianna Huffington for stealing their idea, New York Times or somebody. Arianna Huffing and Puffington is being sued, claiming that the idea of her website was stolen from some other people. And now a cops union is suing protesters at Occupy Wall Street. We find out the Occupy protesters are not staying in tents at night, the homeless and a criminal element are showing up for free spaghetti Bolognese -- (laughing) and the cooks say, "To hell with you, here's some brown rice." (laughing) Isn't irony ironic?

And, by the way, the story goes on to say the protestors organized a ten-member security force to confront the homeless people, to chase 'em out from Occupy Wall Street. It's a vigilante, they're setting up their own police force. Now, who are more sacred to the left than the homeless? The homeless! They're among the most approved disadvantaged groups in the country. The leftists are the first to scream bloody murder when the homeless are roused by the cops. But when it comes to sharing their food with them, forget about it. (interruption) I don't know if the homeless are minorities or not. You see, Snerdley, this is an excellent question. I wasn't even curious about that. You see, my mind doesn't even go there. You're in there wondering if the homeless are basically minorities, let's cut to the chase. You're asking me if the homeless are black? Okay. Okay. That's an interesting perspective.

....

We'll look into it, Snerdley, we'll find the racial makeup for you as to who the homeless are who are being so viciously treated, so unceremoniously disrespected when they show up and just want to be shared with.




__________
My Schedule of Regular Posts:
*Monday through Friday morning - schedules of President, VP and Secretary of State and her diplomats
*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day
*Monday through Friday throughout the day - My posts on anything that I feel like talking about. At least one or two a day, sometimes more.
*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties
.

Get Your Money For Notihng, Get Your Chicks For Free

President Obama continues his end-run around the United States constitution with his student loan stuff.

In one sense, I think what he's doing is a crime because it's a big mistake... on the other hand, it sure is nice to see a President get something done without having to wait six months for Congress to diddle-dawdle along! If only his edicts weren't going to cause more problems with mortgages and non-payments of student loans...which common sense says it will...

(I'm reminded of the mayor of Chicago...Richard Daley...who closed Meigs Field then bulldozed it the very next day so that the people who would have made a fuss, didn't bother because there was nothing left to save...it had already been destroyed.)

Rush spoke about Obama's student loan program - saves students $360 a year ($10 a month.)
"Obama's Student Loan Order Saves the Average Grad Less Than $10 a Month." So that's what Obama thinks it costs to buy their vote. You students, you parents of students, your votes can be had for eight bucks. Now, granted, you wouldn't know this if I, El Rushbo, wasn't about to tell you because I don't think you read Atlantic Monthly, and I wouldn't blame you if you don't. It's one of the reasons I get combat pay. I do. I'm gonna explain it to you. But that's what your vote is worth.

Now, obviously they think that you believe you're going to get much more help and much more assistance and relief than eight bucks. But you're not. The subheadline in the Atlantic Monthly story spells out how even $10 is overly optimistic. Here's what it says. "The monthly impact of the president's new effort for most Americans paying off college debt will be between $4 and $8." The article goes on to talk about how outrageous the cost of a college education is, how outrageously it's gone up, which has caused student loans to have grown by 511% since 1999, and most student loan debt -- get this, now. This is interesting. Most student loan debt was accrued over the past ten years. Eighty-two percent of all student loans from the get-go, from the beginning of student loans, 82% of all debt has been accrued over the past ten years, and they go on to say that Obama's proposals are basically meaningless, which is what we tried to say here yesterday, but it's nice to see that others are noticing it, too.

So here's a pretty good overview of the whole situation. And, by the way, this is all being done by executive order. And I am here to tell you that if Bush or any Republican was using the executive order process this way there would be howling from all corners. Bypassing Congress, executive fiat, who does he think he is? What does he think this is? A dictatorship? Those kinds of headlines and questions would be out there. The Drive-Bys would be filled with cries of imperial executive branch actions. But with Obama, all you hear is the crickets chirping, even if you hear that.

"Obama's Student Loan Order Saves the Average Grad Less Than $10 a Month -- The monthly impact of the president's new effort for most Americans paying off college debt will be between $4 and $8. Of the many long-term problems the U.S. economy faces, student loans are a big one. Education costs are rising very quickly and incomes aren't. As a result, students will have to borrow more and more money to obtain university degrees and will have a tougher time paying their loans. President Obama seeks to respond to this question with an executive order in the next part of his 'We Can't Wait' unilateral stimulus effort."

The Atlantic Monthly is doing what they can to throw him a bone: "While the president's heart may be in the right place, his effort isn't like to have much impact. The cost of college is growing rapidly. That wouldn't be a problem if incomes were growing as quickly as tuition and fees. They aren't. In order to cope with the growing expense of college, more students are relying on bigger loans." And, by the way, folks, what are they getting for these loans, for these educations, for these degrees? What are they getting? You know, Suzy Creamcheese gets into George Washington University and borrows from the government the requisite $212,000 to obtain an undergraduate degree, and what is Suzy Creamcheese's degree in? She spent it on a degree in Oppressed People in the Orient, some meaningless degree like Conflict Resolution 505, whatever, some meaningless, worthless degree. She's comes out after borrowing $212,000 with no marketable skills, and the only thing she has learned at Bill Ayers University is it's all America's fault.

She goes in, gets a stupid degree, worthless education, $210,000 in debt, and she has no marketable skills. And it's America's fault after she's borrowed all this money. So now here comes Obama riding to the rescue after his buddies in academe -- i.e., the Bill Ayers types -- have taken these young skulls full of mush and turned them into basically pizza. That's a little bone thrown to Herman Cain. They come out, they have worthless degrees and they're profoundly in debt and Obama says, "Don't worry, don't worry, I'm here and I'll make it okay." Bigger loans, higher tuition, and, by the way, nobody ever complains that the colleges are charging tuition and fees that are rising out of the realm of reasonableness. Never happens. Student loans have grown by 511% since 1999. Disposable income has grown by just 73%.

There's a chart here that accompanies this that illustrates that most outstanding loan debt, 82% of it, was accrued by students in the last ten years. Now, that is a stunning fact, folks. Tallying up all of the student loan debt in history, 82% of it was accrued in the last ten years.

So here's Obama now out promoting a fraudulent solution, just like everything else he does is fraudulent. He's not going to create jobs with his tax bill. He's not gonna improve the housing market with that housing executive order. He has not gonna help students with the student loan executive order. It's all about more lies. It's all about more promises. Now, Obama's executive orders. "The president seeks to make the situation a little bit easier for some of those graduates. He's gonna create an executive order that has three components. Number one: Obama "will clear the way for borrowers with direct government loans and government-backed private loans to consolidate their balances. The White House estimates that this will cut the effective interest rate on student loans by up to 0.5%," as in "Big whoop!"

Number two: His executive order "will limit the amount of student loan payments to 10% of a graduate's income. (Currently, the limit is 15%.)" So the maximum payment that you would make is 10% of your income. Well, if you're Suzy Cheesecake and you come out with that Diversity in the Orient degree after spending $212,000, you're probably gonna get a job that might pay you $8,000 a year at some social services outfit or a nonprofit -- and so that's what your 10% repayment schedule is based on. In another executive order, Obama "will allow debt still outstanding after 20 years to be forgiven. (Currently, forgiveness occurs after 25 years.)" Now, the question: Why pay anything? Why pay off anything? These student loans are gonna end up costing the taxpayers anywhere between $800,000 and $900,000 per student.

The student, on the loan repayment, if they make the payment, will save eight to $10 maximum a month -- four to $8, more realistically, a month -- while Obama is out giving the impression that basically the student loan is gonna end up being free and forgiven, if you don't pay it off in 20 years. The loan forgiveness section... Of all of these parts of Obama's executive order, the loan forgiveness aspect will have the least impact, according to The Atlantic. "By moving the timeline from 25 to 20 years it could be significant in the long run but it won't be felt for decades." Remember: 82% of the current student loan debt outstanding was accrued in just the past ten years. So it will be at least another ten years before any of those borrowers have hit their 20-year mark in their student loan payments.

(interruption) "Why is a student loan more important than a mortgage?" The reason that a student loan is more important than a mortgage is as a campaign issue. That's all this is. This is all a fraud. That's my point in giving you all these numbers. The numbers we're giving you here are real and illustrate the fraudulent aspects of this. Obama realizes... (interruption) Snerdley, we prove it. Every time I start talking about education on this program, the phones melt. It matters to people. The education of their children matters to people like nothing else does. They are very concerned about it. Obama knows it, so here he comes with this magical student loan reform, and the point is (impression), "I've taken it over! Yeah, don't worry about it. It's not gonna cost you anything."

The point is, "Don't worry about it, I'm in charge, your student loan's fine, we're reforming the program, we're gonna make it easy for you to make payments." It's a fraud. The real shame here is by the time it's all implemented, the few number of people that will really affect is shocking. It's like the mortgage and the underwater-foreclosure program -- yeah, mortgage modification. Look at all the grandiose designs and promises, look at how many people actually participate in it -- and then of that few, that small number, look at how many people actually got any assistance. Zilch, zero, nada. Same thing here. Campaign issue, pure and simple. Student loan more important than a mortgage because education's a huge campaign issue to people. It really isn't any more complicated than that. (interruption)

That's right. You have to pay your mortgage off and you have to pay their student loans off. Exactly right. That's exactly right. You've nailed it. You pay your mortgage, you pay it on time and then you're gonna pay off their student loans. Well, that's exactly what Obama stands for. Obama's proposal was geared to getting the best headlines for the least amount of money. It's all about optics. It's all about compassion. It's all about making the student loan community think that he cares. Fox News has a great interpretation of the Obama plan, and here's the headline: "Obama Caps Taxpayers For Student Stimulus -- Obama looks to wring stimulus from saturated student loan market." One trillion dollars is the estimated amount of student loan debt owed by Americans -- $1 trillion, and 82% of it accrued in the last ten years.

"In keeping with his new campaign, 'We can't wait,' Obama today rolled out the plan..." and he's seeking to use this power of the executive order to obtain a taxpayer-financed stimulus that Congress won't approve. This is Chris Stirewalt at Fox. He says, "Take this example: If Suzy Creamcheese gets into George Washington University and borrows from the government the requisite $212,000 to obtain an undergraduate degree, her repayment schedule will be based on what she earns. If Suzy opts to heed the president's call for public service..." This is one of the prerequisites to getting a good student loan, that after you graduate you go into public service. "If Suzy opts to heed the president's call for public service, and takes a job as a city social worker earning $25,000, her payments would be limited to $1,411 a year after the $10,890 of poverty-level income is subtracted from her total exposure."

So you take her $25,000, subtract ten-eight from it for the poverty level. "Twenty years at that rate would have taxpayers recoup only $28,220 of their $212,000 loan to Suzy." That's how all this works. "The president will also allow student debtors to refinance and consolidate loans on more favorable terms, further decreasing the payoff for taxpayers," and all this comes at a moment when a lot of economists are warning of a "college debt bubble" that is distorting college tuition rates and threatening to further damage credit markets. The bottom line is it's a huge fraud. It's not gonna save anybody any money on the student side and the taxpayers get screwed royally. It's another transfer, redistribution of wealth. It's an optics move. It's designed to make the recipients here think the government is taking care of 'em. They're not gonna have to worry about their student loans anymore. "The Democrat Party's great! Obama's great! It's a reelection issue, and it's a fraud.






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My Schedule of Regular Posts:
*Monday through Friday morning - schedules of President, VP and Secretary of State and her diplomats
*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day
*Monday through Friday throughout the day - My posts on anything that I feel like talking about. At least one or two a day, sometimes more.
*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties.

27 Oct 2011, Thu, Rush Limbaugh headlines

--Obama's Student Loan Fraud
--The Big Education Racket
--Paul Ryan's Great Speech
--Upcoming Regime Spin: Obamanomics is Starting to Work
--Dittoheads on Higher Education
--Occupy Wall Street Cooks Join the 1%, Refuse to Feed the Homeless
--Uh-Oh: GOP Giving Up on Obamacare Repeal?
--Piper Down
Stack of Stuff
--Chest X-Rays Don't Prevent Lung Cancer
--EPA Rules Hamper Border Agents
--Khadafy Kin to Sue NATO
--Rangel Argues for Radical Redistribution
_____________
My Schedule of Regular Posts:
*Monday through Friday morning - schedules of President, VP and Secretary of State and her diplomats
*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day
*Monday through Friday throughout the day - My posts on anything that I feel like talking about. At least one or two a day, sometimes more.
*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties.

OT - cool stuff for your Kindle!


There's a company in the UK that offers all kinds of covers for the Kindle, as well as IPads, for tablets and for Macbooks

http://www.gearzap.com/

They've got more stuff than you can shake a stick at.

The only caveat is that the descriptions of the products don't give dimensions - I ordered a Kindle cover for the "latest generation of Kindle" - only to find out it didn't fit (The "latest generation" are those ones without keyboards, mine has a keyboard but its a year or two old). That's my fault - if I'd taken a closer look at the Kindle in the illustration I would have seen that it didn't match my Kindle - it's the newer grey version rather than my older white one - and my doesn't it look clunky!

But since the Kindle isn't backlit, a cover with a light works nice!

They have a variety of clip on lights for the Kindle, for example (my major interest!,) so that if you already have a cover, you can just clip on with the light without having to buy a new cover.

Check 'em out today - you'll be surprised at how much stuff there is to make your Kindle experience more enjoyable! They are located in the UK but in this day and age of computers, you can order from them with no problem if you live in the US.

And you wonder why they call the US a bully?

This article is from September 12.

Shipping countries in the US and Singapore make millions of dollars. Australia depends on the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef for much of its tourism income. It's imperative that the Great Barrier Reef be protected.

But rather than pay - how much? - for a pilot to guide a big honking ship through the reef, the US and Singapore demanded that Australia rescind its laws.

Next time some big honking ship plows through the reef because it's a lot cheaper than going around it, we will know who to blame.


From the Sydney Morning Herald: Reef safeguard sacrificed secretly for US, Singapore
THE federal government has secretly wound back a critical environmental protection for the Great Barrier Reef against shipping accidents in order to avoid a diplomatic stoush with the United States and Singapore.

Leaked US embassy cables published by WikiLeaks have revealed that the government has "weakened" the compulsory pilotage regime for large vessels, including oil tankers, chemical tankers and liquefied gas carriers, sailing through the sensitive maritime environment of the Torres Strait.

Owners and masters of vessels that fail to use a pilot to navigate the narrow and hazardous channel will not face any penalty if they do not subsequently call at an Australian port.

Advertisement: Story continues below On learning the Torres Strait pilotage regime was quietly amended 17 months ago, the chief executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Don Henry, said it was "absolutely essential'' that all shipping [through the strait] has pilotage.

The cables reveal that the US and Singaporean governments reacted strongly against the Howard government's October 2006 announcement of a compulsory pilotage regime in the Torres Strait designed to reduce the risk of oil and chemical spills in the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef.

Singapore's Foreign Minister, George Yeo, wrote directly to his Australian counterpart, Alexander Downer, "to complain about the decision and its negative impact on larger strategic interests".

The leaked cables show the US shared Singapore's concerns and served as Singapore's "closest ally on the Torres Strait issue". American diplomats lobbied other countries with large registered merchant fleets such as Panama and Cyprus to protest to Australia as well.

The Howard government was unmoved. In early 2008 the new Labor government under Kevin Rudd would not change its position either.

However, in July 2008, the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's international law branch, assistant secretary Adam McCarthy, told the US embassy in Canberra that "Australia recognises that it has not handled the Torres Strait pilotage issue particularly well" and indicated Canberra was prepared "to explore ways to address US concerns".

After detailed talks between US and Australian officials in Washington in August 2008, the department sought American agreement to a compromise formula that would allow Australia to save face while meeting US demands.

This would involve leaving the "compulsory" framework in place while in practice reverting to a voluntary scheme for many vessels by not enforcing penalties against ships that passed through the Torres Strait without a pilot, but which did not call at an Australian port. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority formalised the change on April 17, 2009.

What happened to Central Falls, Rhode Island?


Former Mayor Charles Moreau

From Wikipedia:
Central Falls is a city in Providence County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 19,376 at the 2010 census. With an area of only 1.29 square miles (3.3 km2), it is the smallest and most densely populated city in the smallest state, and the thirty-second most densely populated incorporated place in the United States. Central Falls takes its name from a waterfall on the Blackstone River.

In May 2010, Central Falls went into receivership, then filed for bankruptcy August 1, 2011. As it is immediately north of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, one of the options under discussion is municipal merger.


Recent issues involving the mayor's office

On April 25, 2010, the Providence Journal Bulletin ran an article detailing rampant fraud and corruption by Mayor Charles D. Moreau, outlining no-bid contracts and kickbacks from a high school friend, who was granted almost $2,000,000 in overpriced property boarding fees. The article further states that the same friend gifted him a $6,875 furnace for his own home for only $6000, which Moreau said he paid 'in cash'. The friend in question, Michael G. Bouthillette, was a campaign contributor to Moreau's multiple re-election campaigns. These allegations and others are currently being investigated by the Rhode Island State Police.

Insolvency of municipal government
Financial straits of the city government of Central Falls have worsened in the past decade as pensions and pensioneer health insurance for city employees have accumulated to the extent that the city government has been in receivership since it declared insolvency in May 2010.

On August 1, 2011 Central Falls filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 9, Title 11 of the United States Code. It made the filing as it grappled with an $80 million unfunded pension and retiree health benefit liability that is over five times its annual budget of $17 million.

_____________
My Schedule of Regular Posts:
*Monday through Friday morning - schedules of President, VP and Secretary of State and her diplomats
*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day
*Monday through Friday throughout the day - My posts on anything that I feel like talking about. At least one or two a day, sometimes more.
*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties.

What happened to Vallejo?


Osby Davis, Mayor of Vallejo.

Here's Wikipedia's entry on Vallejo. Why did it go bankrupt in 2008? Wikipedia doesn't go into great detail - but no incompetence on the part of elected officials seems the cause - except that they probably voted or at least maintained the unsustainable Union pay plan.
Vallejo is the largest city in Solano County, California, United States. The population was 115,942 at the 2010 census. It is located in the San Francisco Bay Area on the northeastern shore of San Pablo Bay. Vallejo is named for General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo.

Vallejo is home to the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom theme park (formerly Marine World and Marine World Africa USA) ; the now-defunct Mare Island Naval Shipyard; the regional office for Region 5 of the United States Forest Service; the California Maritime Academy (part of the California State University system); the Vallejo Center campus of Solano Community College; and Touro University, an osteopathic medical college. Ferry service runs from a terminal on Mare Island Strait to San Francisco, through Vallejo Transit's BayLink division.

Vallejo has twice served as the capital of the state of California: once in 1852 and again in 1853, both periods being brief. Some of the first Europeans drawn to the Vallejo area were attracted by the sulfur springs; in the year 1902 the area was named Blue Rock Springs.

In 2008, Vallejo became the largest California city ever to file for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy
On May 6, 2008, the City Council voted 7-0 to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, becoming the largest city to do so ever in California. Stephanie Gomes, Vallejo City Councilwoman, largely blames exorbitant salaries and benefits for Vallejo firefighters and police officers. Reportedly, salaries and benefits for public safety workers account for at least 80 percent of Vallejo's general fund budget.

The bankruptcy of Vallejo City is frequently cited by anti-union groups such as the National Right to Work Committee to rally support for their cause; they claim that unionization of public safety workers were what led to the demands that slid the city to bankruptcy:

Dropping down a level, the city of Vallejo, California, actually went bankrupt after nearly 75 percent of its budget was spent on satisfying the demands of the union agreement covering police and firefighters.
—National Right to Work Committee


And that's all the Wikipedia article has to say on its bankruptcy!

______________
My Schedule of Regular Posts:
*Monday through Friday morning - schedules of President, VP and Secretary of State and her diplomats
*Monday through Friday afternoon - List of topics Limbaugh discussed on his program that day
*Monday through Friday throughout the day - My posts on anything that I feel like talking about. At least one or two a day, sometimes more.
*Saturday through Sunday morning - An addition to my booklist of political books - covering Democrats, Republicans and other interested parties.

Harrisburg: a city at war with itself


Linda Thompson, Mayor of Harrisburg

From Reuters: Harrisburg: a city at war with itself
(Reuters) - For three days last summer, Mayor Linda Thompson joined religious leaders to pray for a "cooperative spirit" among city leaders, the business community and residents here in Pennsylvania's state capital.

The prayers have gone unanswered.

Looking for a way to resolve $300 million in debt, the city council defied Thompson and voted to file for bankruptcy this month. Not only did a majority of the council go against the mayor's wishes, but the council members also decided not to even tell her of their decision.

The situation comes as no surprise to many who live here. That's because in Harrisburg, a city of about 50,000, the balance sheet isn't the only thing out of whack.

Prayers notwithstanding, Thompson and Dan Miller, the city's top financial official, refuse to speak to one another, even as the city they lead continues hemorrhaging money. Thompson characterized Miller as a "political opportunist who will stop at nothing to accomplish his self-centered ambitions." Miller, who plans to challenge Thompson for mayor in 2013, said he considers Thompson "paranoid," "not well educated" and "a phony."

His words seem kind compared with those offered by four former Thompson aides. They told the local newspaper that the mayor isn't fit to hold office.

Within weeks, the state of Pennsylvania could take over the city's finances unless city officials reach an agreement. That seems unlikely. A last-ditch attempt at a compromise between the mayor and council members days before the bankruptcy filing ended in a shouting match 10 minutes in. The paralysis isn't rooted in partisan politics, either: All of the city's top officials are Democrats.

"Every time we go to see the mayor it turns into a screaming and hollering match," said councilwoman Wanda Williams. "We can't work with her."

Welcome to Harrisburg, a city at war with itself.


AN EXACERBATED CRISIS

The Harrisburg filing is one of the biggest municipal bankruptcies in U.S. history, and the city is one of a handful to seek bankruptcy protection since the onset of the nation's financial crisis. Other Pennsylvania communities worry that the Harrisburg situation could make borrowing more expensive for them. And some wonder whether Harrisburg is a harbinger of what some of the nation's most fiscally challenged municipalities might face.

But others say the crisis in Harrisburg is more about a single business decision gone awry -- and about deep, dysfunctional personal relationships that have all but paralyzed city government.

"This would be challenging for the best intentioned, most talented group of people," said Dave Black, head of the regional chamber of commerce. "Because of the political problems that have nothing to do with the situation, it's made it worse."

Residents and business leaders say they are increasingly concerned by what they see as a failure of leadership. The feud between Miller and Thompson, for instance, had implications for all of the city's 500 employees; for about a year, the city did not pay its workers by direct deposit -- now standard in most cities. The reason: a dispute between Miller and Thompson over how many people the mayor had hired. Now, Miller said that if he speaks with the mayor's staff, it is "only on the sly." Leaders in neighboring cities say they worry that Harrisburg's collapse casts a pall over the state.

Just two other U.S. cities -- Vallejo, California, and tiny Central Falls, Rhode Island -- have declared bankruptcy in recent years, and what happens here could set a precedent for other troubled cities.

Although much of Harrisburg's debt problems can be traced back to the city's costly revamp of a trash incinerator, the city also faces some of the same long-term challenges as other American cities.

Vacant houses and pocked streets mar the landscape just blocks from the historic state capitol. Many of its wealthiest residents fled to the suburbs during the past decades. About a third of those who remain live below the poverty line. And, as with cities across the country, pension costs are rising.

But Harrisburg has been pulled from the brink before. In the early 1980s, the city was named the second most distressed in the country and was plagued with high crime and high unemployment.

Enter Stephen Reed, then a young man with big ideas. Elected mayor in 1981 at the age of 32, Reed dreamed of turning the city into more than an afterthought on the Amish Country tour maps.

He opened a Civil War museum and planned a slew of others, including a sports hall of fame and a Wild West museum to celebrate Harrisburg's role in America's westward migration.

Never mind that the city is about a thousand miles east of the Mississippi River, more than 1,600 miles away from the Alamo, and more than six months by wagon train to the California coast, give or take a hard winter.

The project became a passion for Reed, who friends say lived for the city. He even traveled around the American West as often as he could, hand-selecting items for the museum.

Reed, who once described his management style as "autocratic," told Reuters last year that the city had spent $15 million on museum artifacts -- including $45,000 for a tomahawk that may or may not have belonged to Crazy Horse, chief of the Lakota tribe. (The chief fought at the Battle of the Little Bighorn; his connection to Harrisburg remains unclear.)

Money for the museum came from a special fund for capital projects, Reed said at the time. The fund was supported by fees earned on bonds issued by the Harrisburg Authority, which owns the incinerator.

'DISCUSSIONS WITH GOD'
In 2003, the federal government called for the incinerator to be shut down. It was releasing dangerous levels of dioxin, a chemical linked to cancer and birth defects, and it sits adjacent to the city's largest housing project.

The city had a choice. It could close the incinerator, or it could equip the plant with new technology needed to keep it open. The city opted to keep the facility open and hired the lowest bidder to do the work.

The project carried considerable risk. The company, Barlow Projects, had never handled a project the scale of the Harrisburg incinerator. Moreover, the deal did not have a performance bond to insure the city in case the company failed to finish.

Thompson, then a city council member, said she had had "intimate discussions with God" about the deal. She voted for it. Today, she and other officials say they would have voted against the project had they known how risky it was.

Others warned of the peril. At a meeting in late 2003, the council heard from residents, many of whom opposed the deal. Perhaps most prescient was Mike Ewall, an environmental activist from Philadelphia. "I'm telling you," he said, "this project will put the city into bankruptcy."

Costs soon spiraled upward, and by 2007, Barlow Projects had filed for bankruptcy. Former Harrisburg Authority board member Fred Clark said city officials are not wholly to blame.

"Could you say we were negligent? Yes," Clark said. But, he added, city officials were "lay people."

"No one knew that we were on the Titanic," he said.

As more residents in Harrisburg came to see the city as a sinking ship, Reed's Wild West museum project became a symbolic anchor.

Looking to raise money quickly, the city council voted to sell some of the items Reed had painstakingly collected. The city netted $1.66 million in two auctions in 2007 and 2008.

In spring 2008, an adviser to Reed took then-council president Thompson to see the remaining items, housed in a 15,000 square foot warehouse. The adviser, Jeb Stuart, said Reed had envisioned the museum to be almost like a theme park. Thompson had no such visions.

As she entered the building, Stuart recalled, Thompson expressed shock at the vast collection: saddles and stage coaches, Doc Holliday's dentist chair, a table where Wyatt Earp once played poker.

"She never embraced the museum concept," said Stuart, who now works as a heritage tourism consultant.

Said Thompson: "I referred to the artifacts - 11,000 of them - as reminding me of my grandmother's attic."

In 2009, Thompson challenged and defeated Reed in the Democratic primary and went on to win the mayoral election. President Barack Obama had just been elected, and Harrisburg's majority black population turned out to support Thompson, who is African-American.

"They were hyped about an African-American becoming president and she ran on his same platform of change," said councilwoman Williams, who also is black.

Then-Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, also endorsed Thompson. "She cares about the people of Harrisburg," Rendell said, according to the Harrisburg newspaper, The Patriot-News. ". I think she knows what needs to be done."

SNOWBALLS AND INSULTS
But as the city's financial problems worsened, so too did the relationships between Harrisburg's leaders -- and with their constituents.

Last winter, several dozen residents rallied outside City Hall. They called on Thompson to step down and hurled insults - and snowballs - toward her second-floor office window. The mayor watched from behind the glass, smiling, as she waved and gave a thumbs-down to the protesters.

In September, four former aides to Thompson spoke to The Patriot-News. In videotaped testimonials, parts of which were posted online, the aides describe an environment of paranoia in City Hall.

They pointed to the mayor's insistence that doors in her suite of offices be kept locked at all times. Chuck Ardo, a veteran Pennsylvania political strategist who served as Thompson's communications director, told Reuters that Thompson once berated him for not immediately locking his door after stepping out of his office.

The former staffers also said Thompson had failed to separate her religious beliefs from her duties as mayor. In one of the testimonials, Joyce Davis, who resigned as Thompson's communications director after two months on the job, said Thompson once threw her eyeglasses at her and exhibited "illogical behavior."

At one point, when Davis considered stepping down, Davis said she recalls what Thompson said: "God told her, clearly in her kitchen, that I was where I needed to be, there, and I was not to go anywhere," Davis recounted to The Patriot-News.

"I'm a person of faith, so I understand that people have faith and that informs their decisions," Davis said. "But there is something else going on here."

Davis, who was a journalist before going to work for Thompson, told Reuters that she and the other former staffers went to The Patriot-News out of concern about what she called a "serious leadership crisis."

Ardo recalled Thompson advising against a plan to work with Miller, the city controller. The reason: She had had a religious vision in which she was instructed not to trust him, Ardo said.

Thompson told Reuters that the former staffers "were deemed not competent to hold important positions of public trust." She said Davis is "given to self-pitying exaggeration of the facts" and was "an embarrassment in her position."

Ardo, she said, "does not understand the importance of office security, secure conversations and so forth."

As for Miller, the city's controller and her likely challenger in 2013, Thompson said she is "always polite" when she sees him.


'PEAS AND LIVER'

There has been no shortage of rescue plans for Harrisburg. But all would force the city to sell the incinerator and to sell or lease its parking garages, among the city's few major sources of income. That way, it would pay off its debts immediately.

The state hired consultant Julia Novak in January to develop a financial recovery plan for the city. "It's as if we've invited you to dinner but all we're offering you is peas and liver," Novak said in presenting her plan to the city council earlier this year. "But it is the right diet."

Williams, Susan Brown-Wilson and two other council-members, Eugenia Smith and Brad Koplinski, disagreed. They want the city's creditors and their insurer to contribute at least $100 million to help the city pay off its debts. (The bonds are backed by the city and the county).

"It's Main Street versus Wall Street, and we are on the side of Main Street," Smith said.

Koplinski worries that if the city paid creditors now and ran out of money again, it might have no choice but to decimate its police force, cut services to the elderly and close fire stations.

The three other council members, including the council president Gloria Martin-Roberts, opposed the bankruptcy move and continue to back Thompson.

The schism troubles political leaders across the state. At a meeting this month in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania mayors voiced concerns to Thompson about the wider impact of the turmoil in Harrisburg. They worried not only that their ability to borrow might be hampered by a Harrisburg bankruptcy but also about the precedent a state takeover could set.

"We wanted to give them a nudge, and point out we really have a dangerous situation that sets bad precedent," said Thomas McMahon, the mayor of Reading and president of the Pennsylvania League of Cities.

From Pittsburgh to smaller towns such as Reading and Scranton, cities in Pennsylvania had cooperated when the state asked them for a rescue plan.

Last week, because of what's happening in Harrisburg, the governor signed legislation that makes takeovers of troubled cities easier.

"We think that a bill like this starts to interfere, or replace the power of the elected officials," McMahon said. "It becomes very murky."

On several occasions, McMahon said he has told Thompson and city council members that they need to set aside their differences and agree on a plan. "Unfortunately, the relationship between the mayor and the council has really degenerated," he said.

This week, Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, declared a state of emergency for Harrisburg, a move that allows him to appoint someone to make the city's spending decisions. Meantime, the dysfunction has made the city into a national punch-line.

Last Friday, TV host Keith Olbermann skewered Thompson for her summer prayer meeting.

"Remarkably, it did not simply rain dollar bills, even after the prayer and fast," he said. Thompson shot back, saying at a civic event that she would keep Olbermann and his ratings in her prayers.

For Harrisburg residents, however, the situation is no laughing matter.

"It looks like we've elected incompetent leaders," said Kathleen Penles, a 60-year old retired state worker and Harrisburg resident. "It is very embarrassing."


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