Friday, June 19, 2009

PETA Wishes Obama Hadn't Swatted That Fly

The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants the flyswatter in chief to try taking a more humane attitude the next time he's bedeviled by a fly in the White House. PETA is sending President Barack Obama a Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher, a device that allows users to trap a house fly and then release it outside. "We support compassion even for the most curious, smallest and least sympathetic animals," PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich said Wednesday. "We believe that people, where they can be compassionate, should be, for all animals."

During an interview for CNBC at the White House on Tuesday, a fly intruded on Obama's conversation with correspondent John Harwood. "Get out of here," the president told the pesky insect. When it didn't, he waited for the fly to settle, put his hand up and then smacked it dead. "Now, where were we?" Obama asked Harwood. Then he added: "That was pretty impressive, wasn't it? I got the sucker."

Friedrich said that PETA was pleased with Obama's voting record in the Senate on behalf of animal rights and noted that he has been outspoken against animal abuses. Still, "swatting a fly on TV indicates he's not perfect," Friedrich said, "and we're happy to say that we wish he hadn't." Deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said the White House has no comment on the matter.



Obama’s AmeriCrooks and cronies scandal

President Obama promised he would end “Washington games.” But his abrupt firing of the AmeriCorps inspector general is more of the same. The brewing scandal smells like the Beltway cronyism of the Bush years. And the apparent meddling of First Lady Michelle Obama in the matter smacks of the corruption of the Clinton years. If Obama keeps up with this “change,” we’ll be back to the Watergate era by Christmas.

News of AmeriCorps watchdog Gerald Walpin’s unceremonious dismissal first broke last week in Youth Today, an independent national publication focused on the volunteerism sector. Walpin was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2007 and has served well, honorably, and effectively. Too effectively. His removal came a week after he “questioned the eligibility of the largest and most expensive AmeriCorps program, and while the IG was contesting the ‘propriety’ of a settlement made with a mayor for alleged misuse of AmeriCorps funds,” according to Youth Today.

The first taxpayer-subsidized program is the Teaching Fellows Program, run by the Research Foundation of the City University of New York. Walpin’s audit (which can be found online at uncovered a multitude of grant violations, including criminal background check lapses and “pervasive problems of eligibility, timekeeping, and documentation.”

Walpin office questioned duplicative educational awards of more than $16 million and costs worth nearly $775,000. CUNY refused to return excess funds that it had drawn down, failed to revise procedures to prevent such grant abuse, and refused to provide proof documenting that its AmeriCorps participants actually existed. Walpin advised AmeriCorps’ parent organization, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), to cut off any new funding and reexamine past government funding totaling upwards of $75 million.

Walpin’s recommendations have been ignored by CNCS, now chaired by Democrat mega-fundraiser Alan Solomont. The Obama watchdogs are snoozing. Expect the same kind of lackadaisical approach toward policing the $6 billion AmeriCorps expansion/government national service programs signed into law by President Obama in April.

The second program Walpin challenged is the non-profit St. HOPE Academy, run by Obama supporter Kevin Johnson, the Democrat mayor of Sacramento and a former NBA basketball star. In a special May 2009 report, Walpin’s office blew the whistle on a highly politicized U.S. Attorney’s Office settlement with Johnson and his deputy, Dana Gonzalez. The pair exploited nearly $900,000 in AmeriCorps funding for personal and political gain. Based on Walpin’s investigation last year, CNCS had suspended their access to federal funds after determining that they were:

*Using AmeriCorps members to “recruit students for St. HOPE Academy;”

*Using AmeriCorps members for political activities in connection with the “Sacramento Board of Education election;”

*Assigning grant-funded AmeriCorps members to perform services “personally benefiting . . . Johnson,” such as “driving [him] to personal appointments, washing [his] car, and running personal errands;” and

*Improperly using AmeriCorps “members to perform non-AmeriCorps clerical and other services” that “were outside the scope of the grant and therefore were impermissible” for “the benefit of St. HOPE.”

But in the wake of Johnson’s mayoral victory and President Obama’s election in November, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento rushed to settle with the new mayor so he could avail himself of federal stimulus funds and other government money. It was, Walpin said in his special report last month, “akin to deciding that, while one should not put a fox in a small chicken coop, it is fine to do so in a large chicken coop! The settlement…leaves the unmistakable impression that relief from a suspension can be bought.”

Shortly after, the White House announced that it had “lost confidence” in Walpin. With Walpin’s removal, the top management positions at AmeriCorps’ parent organization are now all open. The decks are clear to install lackeys who will protect the government volunteerism industry and its Democrat cronies. And a chilling effect has undoubtedly taken hold in every other inspector general’s office in Washington.

GOP Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa is pressing Obama for more details. Tough questions need to be asked of First Lady Michelle Obama, who has “taken the lead” in selecting AmeriCorps’ managers, according to Youth Today. Her former chief of staff, Jackie Norris, will serve as a “senior adviser” to CNCS beginning next week. What role did they play in Walpin’s sacking? And why?

Mrs. Obama’s interest is more than passing. She ran the AmeriCorps-funded non-profit Public Allies in Chicago from 1993-1996 and served on its national board until 2001. Like so many of the AmeriCorps recipients investigated by the inspector general’s office over the years, Public Allies was found to have violated basic eligibility and compliance rules. A January 2007 audit reported that the group lacked internal controls verifying that recipients who received education grants and living allowances were legal citizens or permanent residents as required by law.

Transparency. Accountability. Fiscal responsibility. In Obama World, these are proving to be nothing more than words. Just words.



It’s Iran, Stupid

The unintended consequences of Obama’s attempt to jump-start the peace process

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech on Sunday, in which he reversed his longstanding position on Palestine and said he would be willing to work toward the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, has met with almost no opposition in Israel. This is a very unusual course of events in a country where elections take place on average every two years because coalitions are so unstable and often fall with little provocation.

Netanyahu’s government, led by his own center-right Likud party, includes two settler parties and Avigdor Lieberman’s Russian-immigrant party, Yisrael Beiteinu, all of which might have been expected to pull out of the coalition after hearing the prime minister endorse a “two-state” solution. But the right wing remains firmly behind the prime minister, and now some members of Kadima, the largest center-left party, have indicated they might be willing to join Netanyahu’s coalition because he has met their demand that he recognize a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu’s speech met with so little opposition because his coalition partners, like most Israelis, realize that the conditions he posed for the creation of a Palestinian state are unlikely to be met any time soon. First, there is the fact that the Palestinian polity remains divided between Hamas in Gaza and Abu Mazen’s government in the West Bank, which makes any long-lasting solution improbable. Second, Washington, in its role of fostering the peace process, will be very hard pressed to find a Palestinian leadership that would be willing to accept demilitarization, agree to Israeli control of the whole of Jerusalem, cease to demand a right of return for Palestinians who fled from Israel, and, above all, recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Israelis on all points of the political spectrum understand that these preconditions are highly unlikely to be met, and therefore that a unified and independent Palestinian state is no closer today than it was before Netanyahu accepted it in theory.

But beyond this, one has to return to the opening sentences of Netanyahu’s speech to understand why it has met with so little opposition at home. The prime minister listed in order of priority the three greatest issues on his agenda: the Iranian threat, the financial crisis, and the promotion of peace. In this list, Iran remained the most crucial issue. It is not a mistake that the peace process received only the third order of priority. The centrality of the Iranian threat is a matter of consensus in Israel that crosses party lines. Every Jewish member of the Knesset understands that the Iranian question is a matter of Israel’s survival, whereas the conflict with the Palestinians, though important, does not directly threaten the existence of the state. Netanyahu gave his speech in response to hard pressure from the Obama administration, which believes that successfully implementing a two-state solution is the key to solving all the other issues of the Middle East. Without this American pressure it is improbable that Palestinian statehood would have been the subject of Netanyahu’s first major policy speech.

The centrality of the Iranian issue has muted opposition to Netanyahu. It would be difficult to oppose a prime minister who is facing what is viewed in Israel as a true crisis of national security. The Obama administration might have hoped that pressure on the Palestinian issue, and in particular on the question of settlements, would bring down the Netanyahu government. It may find out that, on the contrary, it has strengthened Netanyahu’s position. If Kadima, or even some of its members, now decide to join forces with him, Netanyahu will have one of the broadest coalitions in Israel’s history, one unifying the four largest parties: Likud, Kadima, Yisrael Beiteinu, and Labor. At that point his government could not be brought down by the defection of any single partner. With a coalition of this magnitude, Netanyahu will have a unified backing should he order a strike against Iran.

In entering the maze of Middle Eastern conflicts, President Obama is likely to learn the rule of unintended consequences. The president seems to have thought that he could pacify the Muslim world, negotiate with Iran, and force Israel to accept a compromise it had long rejected. But as is often the case in this region, matters have not proceeded according to plan. The president now faces upheaval in Iran, a Muslim world that is no more receptive to his message than it was previously, and an Israel in which Netanyahu now has a stronger standing both coalition-wise and in regard to an attack on Iran. The peace process will now get bogged down in pedantry and semantics, while Israel’s strong coalition has opened opportunities that could fundamentally change the rules of the game.




Not Just Walpin - 3 Inspector General Firings Being Questioned: "This is interesting. I looked around and perhaps I missed it on another blog, but the Chicago Tribune reports that it isn't just Walpin's firing over which Senator Grassley wants some answers. He's worried about a pattern, as no fewer than three IG's have recently been fired, all while investigating so-called sensitive issues."

Bachmann fears ACORN role in census: "Outspoken Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann says she's so worried that information from next year's national census will be abused that she will not fill out anything more than the number of people in her household. In an interview Wednesday with The Washington Times' "America's Morning News," the Minnesota Republican said the questions have become "very intricate, very personal" and that she feared ACORN, the community organizing group that came under fire for its voter registration efforts last year, would be part of the U.S. Census Bureau's door-to-door information collection efforts. "I know for my family the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home," she said. "We won't be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that."

GM retirees tried to play it safe: "General Motors Corp.'s troubles have derailed the retirement plans of many Americans, especially investors in the automaker's once-prized bonds. Bobby Work, 87, bought GM bonds with her husband 30 years ago and dearly misses the $20,000 they once yielded each year. Teresa Durhone, 50, put the profit from the sale of her house into the bonds so she could quit work and care for her sick mother. Now she'll need to find work again. The list goes on. After GM's bankruptcy filing on June 1, these and many other bondholders were forced to cut back on their expenses and find other ways to pay their bills. They hadn't plan to do that in retirement, but the largest industrial bankruptcy in U.S. history got in the way. "I'm very, very distressed," Ms. Durhone said. "It's as if the law has changed." Bondholders thought their retirement dreams were safe. After all, they had bought bonds, not stocks."

Energy panel OKs bill to drill offshore: "The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Wednesday approved an energy bill that would boost renewable energy use and expand offshore oil and gas drilling. But the measure faces an uncertain future. The committee, which met 11 times since late March to debate amendments, voted 15-8 to send the bill to the full Senate. Chairman Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico Democrat, called the bill "a solid piece of work" that reflected bipartisan viewpoints. Ranking member Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican, lauded some of the pro-drilling provisions in the bill and said the measure will face a number of amendments on the Senate floor to expand nuclear power, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and other issues."

Detroit dodges Dodge: "They call this the Motor City, but you have to leave town to buy a Chrysler or a Jeep. Lochmoor Chrysler Jeep on Detroit's East Side has stopped selling Chrysler products, one of the 789 franchises Chrysler is dropping from its retail network. There was a time early in the decade when downtown Detroit was sprouting new cafes and shops, and residents began to nurture hopes of a rebound. But lately, they are finding it increasingly tough to buy groceries or get a cup of fresh-roast coffee as the 11th largest U.S. city struggles with the recession and the auto-industry crisis.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


1 comment:

Steve Burri said...

Obama didn't even try to negotiate with that fly without preconditions.

What's up with that?

Oh... he didn't see a fly, he saw a recalcitrant member of the unwashed masses.