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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Congressman Grayson Said What?!

Even though I'm sure everyone has seen this, here's the video making the rounds.



Now, I bet the audience and I had the exact same thought. Nancy Pelosi, Patrick Kennedy, and Bill Clinton must all be fuming. After all, Nancy Pelosi was worried that some of the explosive language in the debate could lead to violence. Patrick Kennedy compared some of the statements made in the health care debate to terrorists. Bill Clinton made similar remarks. Now, if ever there was language that coarsens the debate, it's proclaiming the other side wants people to die. Isn't it fair to say that accusing your opponents of being murderers could lead someone to violence? "Strangely" Nancy Pelosi et al haven't rushed to a news conference to condemn this speech made on the House floor as exactly the wrong sort of speech.

In all seriousness, Grayson is a sideshow. I had some respect from the Congressman from Florida because he undressed Ben Bernanke and exposed a very shadowy practice of the Fed. Here he's clearly caricatured himself. He's probably put himself into the GOP crosshairs. So, he's brought on all sorts of problems on himself and even more now that he won't apologize. More than that, his statement is part of a growing pattern of the Democrats. Instead of Debating the merits of the debate, opponents are racists, killers, and mindless. That's a sure fire sign that you have no argument. The Democrats are spending little time debating the merits, and spending a lot of times throwing insults and turning around with righteous indignation about the coarsening debate.

What this Grayson outburst is, is yet another example of the outward manifestation of the chaos they have created in the health care debate. As they continue to blame Republicans, it is the Democrats stepping on each other's toes. The public option was introduced in the Finance Committee and killed by Democrat votes. In the House, Pelosi says it won't pass without the public option. The Democrats can't figure out health care reform. They know it, and they are responding like any desperate animal. They lash out at every thing in sight in brutal desperation. That's what we see when they call the townhalls unAmerican, when every criticism is called racist, and it's what we saw in Grayson.

Video, Quote, and Word of the Day



excursus

a digression

Success is meaningless if you can't sleep at night because of harsh things said, petty secrets sharpened against hard and stony regret, just waiting to be plunged into the soft underbelly of a 'friendship.
Margaret Cho

Council Submissions

The Council submissions are up.

Council Submissions
The Provocateur - Yet Another Defining Moment
Rhymes With Right - A Note On The “Tenther” Smear
Joshuapundit - Welcome To The Babi Yar Hotel
Bookworm Room - Obama Keeps Hitler Analogy in the Public Eye
Soccer Dad - Leaving the nest
The Glittering Eye - How the Shell Game Con Works
Right Truth - Why America Could Be Doomed
The Colossus of Rhodey - More on Obama’s ridiculous foreign policy
Mere Rhetoric - Obama Knew About Secret Iran Facility During Transition, Experts Pushed Engagement Anyway With Pro-Iran Pretexts
Non-Council Submissions
Submitted By: The Provocateur – Breitbart TV - Sources: Sarkozy Thinks Obama is ‘Incredibly Naive and Grossly Egotistical’
Submitted By: The Watcher – Kausfiles @Slate - Did ACORN chicanery elect Al Franken?
Submitted By: The Watcher – The Anchoress - A Study in Contrasts
Submitted By: Rhymes With Right – RedState - Common Sense Outlawed in Indiana
Submitted By: Joshuapundit – Jennifer Rubin/Commentary - Netanyahu’s Speech for the Ages
Submitted By: Bookworm Room – WSJ/Bret Stephens - The Neocons Make a Comeback
Submitted By: Soccer Dad – Simply Jews - Ich bin kein Berliner?
Submitted By: The Glittering Eye – StreetWise - It’s Not a Real Estate Crisis, It’s a Debt Crisis
Submitted By: Right Truth – Fore-Left - Speaking of Vast Conspriacies..
Submitted By: The Colossus of Rhodey – The Times Online (UK) - The Anglo-world of settlers, not dominators
Submitted By: Mere Rhetoric – Larry Greenfield / American Thinker - Liberal Jews and the Legacy of Neoconservatism

The Supreme Court Takes Up the 2nd Amendment

Following the Heller decision, folks in municipalities all over the country began to challenge local restrictions on gun rights. One of the most prominent bans in the country is right here in Chicago. That is about to get a full hearing in front of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to decide whether strict local and state gun control laws violate the Second Amendment, ensuring another high-profile battle over the rights of gun owners.

The court said it will review a lower court ruling that upheld a handgun ban in Chicago. Gun rights supporters challenged gun laws in Chicago and some suburbs immediately following the high court's decision in June 2008 that struck down a handgun ban in the District of Columbia, a federal enclave.


The Chicago ban has been a part of law since 1982. The law bans all handguns and semi automatic and automatic weapons. As such, in Chicago it's a total ban on firearms. As a matter of policy, this law is indefensible. Violence has not gotten any better since it went into effect. Street crime, gang violence, and gun violence are an everyday part of the inner city of the city of Chicago. The brutal beating death of Derrion Albert is yet another example of this.

As a matter of law, it's murky. On the one hand, the second amendment is pretty clear.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed

That's pretty clear. People have a right to keep and bear arms and this right can't be infringed upon. As such, the city's ordinance is a clear violation of the second amendment. Defenders of the city's ordinance would say that the 2nd amendment applies to the federal government. Municipalities can make their own laws defenders would say. This is just as dubious to me. State's rights come from the tenth amendment.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people


In this case, the right to bear arms is sacrosanct and can't be infringed. That's not me saying it but the Constitution. The ten amendment applies to anything not specified in the Constitution. The right to bear arms is clearly in the Constitution.

Ironically enough, this case will mean that most people will view the Constitution and government power in a way that is opposite of that which they normally would. The same folks that believe that gun bans are Constitutional have no use for federalism. They are the same folks that have no problem with universal health care even though health care is not a power in the Constitution. That, in my view, is an example of the tenth amendment and thus, health care is a state's right. The same people that believe that municipalities have no power to regulate gun control would normally be strong proponents of federalism, or state's and municipality's rights.

This case will likely answer, hopefully once and for all, just how far the second amendment extends. Is the second amendment strictly a federal right, or does it extend to states and municipalities? The nine in robes will soon speak.

Sarkozy On Obama: Naive and Grossly Egotistical

This video is sure to get all sorts attention.




That's Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. If Kelly's sources are solid, then President Sarkozy views our president in much the same way as many of his opponents, naive and arrogant. That's of course the worst sort of a combination for any leader. I can't find video of the entire interview and that's too bad. That's because prior to this bombshell Kelly also said that Sarkozy pushed Obama to reveal Iran's secret nuclear site in his speech at the UN. He said that Obama didn't do it because he didn't want anything interfering with the resolution he wanted passed committing the UN to getting rid of nukes.

In other words, according to the sources that Kelly has near Sarkozy, Obama thought it was more important to pass this resolution than to maximize the diplomatic confrontation between the West and Iran. In fact, Kelly said that in his estimation Obama wouldn't have revealed it at all had it not been for the prodding of Sarkozy and Brown.

If Kelly's sources are right, we have a serious problem. That would mean that Sarkozy will be weary of anything that Obama does and says. He won't be apt to join any sort of serious alliance on any important foreign policy matter. Sarkozy would then feel that Obama is incapable of properly handling and would proceed with that in mind. It would undermine most geopolitical moves made by Obama. Obama's already alienated most of our Eastern European allies by dumping the missile shield, and now a major Western European ally thinks he's arrogant and naive. Colombia has been alienated because we won't sign a free trade pact. Mexico was ticked off by protectionist language in the stimulus. That really doesn't leave too many allies.

Now, if Kelly is right about Sarkozy, and Sarkozy is right about Obama, then we have a disaster. If the president is naive and arrogant then not only will he proceed with policies with no hope of working but he'll be too arrogant to see they aren't working. With Afghanistan on the brink, Iran on the brink of a nuke, Russia lying in wait, and Venezuela trying socialize South America, we have a lot of potential problems. If we have a president both clueless and too arrogant to realize he's clueless, we have a lot of potential problems that will explode.

I was always stunned by how anyone could vote for someone that was four years removed from being a state senator. What exactly did his supporters think? Did his supporters really think he was up to being president? Obviously, the jury is still out, and it's unfair to make total judgments yet. That said, I think everyone should begin to admit that we may all be facing our worst nightmares with President Obama. So far at least, it appears all of our worst nightmares are coming true. We have a far left ideologue that's not all that bright and too arrogant to see it.

Morning Market Report

There's lots of breaking economic news and more will break later this morning. First, revised GDP for the second quarter just got released. The economy shrank by .7%, which is better than the 1% shrink that was initially reported. On the other hand, ADP just released its jobs numbers for private employers. That number was worse than expected at 254,000. The consensus was 210,000. Meanwhile, despite continued lower rates, mortgage applications fell by 2.8%. Freddie Mac averages are below 5% for the first time in four months. At 9:45 AM ET, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index will come out. At 10:30 AM ET, the department of energy will come out with its weekly crude oil inventory numbers. Meanwhile, three regional Fed Chairman will also speak today at separate symposium.

After a great day on Monday, the markets all pared back with losses. The Dow was off 47.16 to 9742.20. The NASDAQ was off 6.70 to 2124.04, and the S&P 500 was off 2.37 to 1060.61. Meanwhile, oil is rallying just a bit. It's now at $67.43, up 72 cents a barrel from yesterday's close. It's up almost $1.50 a barrel from this time yesterday. U.S. Treasury bonds are holding relatively steady. The Ten Year U.S. Treasury bond is trading at 3.31%. It closed at 3.29% yesterday, and that was a low on the rate that goes back to June. The spread between the two and ten year bond has tightened even more. That's now at 2.29%, as the two year isn't showing nearly as much strength as the ten year.

Markets around the world were up nearly unanimously today. In the Far East, only a few indices spoiled the party while in Europe it was a unanimous across the board increase. The Hang Seng in China was down .28%, the NIKKEI in Japan was up .33%, and the Straits Time Index in Singapore was up .35%. In Europe, the FTSE in London was up .11%, the DAX in Germany was up .16% and the Spanish index was up .32%.

The Dollar looks to open weaker against most of the major currencies. It's down by .1% against the Euro, down by .42% against the British Pound and down by .32% against the Japanese Yen.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On the Eve of the Decision: Chicago's Opposition Speaks

This evening starting at 5:30PM, the folks that are against the games coming to Chicago held their last rally in opposition. The rally was held symbolically at 121 N. LaSalle, or City Hall. City Hall takes up most of the 100 block of LaSalle. At it's largest, the rally took up about half the block and everyone was in a circle. So, if you were to imagine the rally spread out the protesters would have stretched out to cover nearly the whole block that City Hall stands on. While the symbolism was clear, it should be noted that Mayor Daley has already left

It was a fairly good cross section of people. Young and old and people of all colors were there. That represents the nature of the city which is eclectic itself. In fact, there was one section of the crowd that looked like it was transported from a Grateful Dead, Phish, or Widespread Panic concert.

The the way I judge the political perspectives of the crowd at a rally is by the fliers that are handed out. Judging by that, this crowd was definitively left wing. At a tea party rally, you might expect a flier for a libertarian group, an anti Fed flier, and a freedom magazine. At this rally, I got a flier for an anti Afghanistan war rally on October 7th sponsored by ChicagoAnswer.net, a flier for a rally against police violence, and a third flier about a discussion about single payer health care.

The complaints against the Olympics were the same at this rally as they have throughout. Chicago is a city that simply has no money. There's not enough money for hospitals, schools, and infrastructure, and now the city is going to spend billions on the Olympics. In this way, this is a bi partisan issue. Liberals think that government should be there to provide services and the money spent on the Olympics should be spent on other priorities. Conservatives, like me, simply think that government is too big and spending money on the Olympics is not a proper use of government.

I also spoke with two journalists from Japanese speaking media. I asked both if the citizens of Tokyo, a competitor of Chicago in 2016, are excited about having the Olympics there. Both emphatically said no. One said that in her opinion the government of Tokyo is corrupt. Both told me that the city is deep in debt. As such, it appears that Tokyo is facing the same problems that Chicago is. Obviously, speaking to two people isn't scientific, however I am becoming convinced that there is something very wrong with the Olympic process. It appears to benefit no one, host city included, but the International Olympic Committee. It's nearly impossible for the city to make money. It disrupts the city. It puts the city at the mercy of the IOC. Yet, for every Olympic game, there's more than enough competing cities.

Patrick Kennedy Said What?!

(H/T to Glenn Beck) Glenn Beck just ran a snippet of something that Patrick Kennedy said on the 25th. Here's the full quote at least is it is reported by the Providence Journal. (it's important to note that Kennedy's remarks are in response to the health care debate)

My family’s seen it up close too much with assassinations and violence in political life. It’s a terrible thing when people think that in order to get their point across they have to go to the edge of violent rhetoric and attack people personally,” Kennedy told the nurses, union officials and AARP members finishing their breakfasts at the invitation-only event in the Providence Marriott hotel. “It’s fine for people to debate the issue and attack the issue, but when they go and stoop to the level of the vitriolic rhetoric that we’ve seen this debate turn up, it’s very, I think, dangerous to the fabric of our country.

...

I will note that there were a number of prominent security people in this country who spoke very openly this past week that … that there are consequences in terms of trying to protect public officials. There are consequences to violent rhetoric,. Some people can see through TV ratings and right-wing talk show hosts that just try to create some theater, but unfortunately, there are some that can’t see through it. And that’s the danger in it. There is definitely freedom of speech, but freedom of speech does not allow yelling ‘fire’ in the middle of a crowded movie theater

...

It’s very, very dangerous. We put a lot of people in jail around the world for threatening our country’s security. But this atmosphere of attack that doesn’t attack the issue, but attacks the people, is very disruptive to the institution of democracy,
which relies on a respect for the opposition.

...

George Wallace didn’t need a gun to pull a trigger. We just need to be mindful of the wisdom of people … who have been through these ugly periods in American history. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Now, try to put this into perspective. He compares the anger of health care protesters to the people that killed his two uncles, Jack and Bobby Kennedy. He compares the things said by tea party protesters to the things said by George Wallace. He even compares protesters to those that threaten the safety of our nation through terrorism. He even compares protesting at town halls to yelling fire at a crowded theater. He goes on to suggest that these protests can lead to violence which will threaten our public officials.

Like most that are now shocked by the angry language, Patrick Kennedy was strangely silent when for eight years many, including his own uncle Ted Kennedy, called President Bush all sorts of nasty things like a liar. This is yet another attempt by yet another Obama supporter to intimidate those opposed to President Obama and his agenda into silence. By comparing the protesters to everything from a terrorist, George Wallace, and two assassins, Kennedy is attempting to marginalize.

He isn't the first to do this. Nancy Pelosi, among many, has remarked about the confrontational language and how it reminds her of language that lead to violence. Jimmy Carter was among many that suggested that those that opposed Obama are racists. This quote however is by far the most obscene. Kennedy suggests that protesters are all those things: racists, violent, murderers, and even terrorists. Yelling at a town hall debate is now the same as yelling fire in a crowded theater. Perfectly legitimate speech is now equated to speech designed to kill. (yelling fire in a crowded theater that is) Furthermore, Kennedy takes moral authority by invoking his two dead uncles. Talk about shameful. This reaches a new level.

The Iran Dance Starts Again

There is an old and very famous saying that everyone likely knows, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result". Let's see if anyone finds any of this familiar.




Iran declared its refusal Tuesday to discuss its nuclear program -- including the disclosure of a second nuclear enrichment plant -- when it sits down at the negotiating table Thursday with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, Reuters reported. A top Iranian official told the news agency that his country will not abandon its nuclear activities, "even for a second."

Iran's nuclear chief also announced Tuesday that his country built its newly revealed uranium enrichment facility inside a mountain and next to a military site to ensure continuity of its nuclear activities in case of an attack. The revelation comes as the Obama administration works up plans to push for new sanctions against the country, targeting its energy, financial and telecommunications sectors if it does not comply with international demands to come clean about its nuclear program, U.S. officials said Monday.


Then, there's this.



Iran's missile test launches should not be used as an additional argument for imposing sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program, Interfax news agency quoted a senior Russian diplomat as saying on Tuesday.



Finally, there's this.




President Obama has let Iran know that it faces an arsenal of sanctions if it fails to completely disclose the nature of its nuclear program and ambitions.

But with three rounds of U.N. sanctions already in place -- and Iran's defiant refusal Tuesday to put its nuclear program on the table when it meets Thursday with representatives of the five permanent Security Council members and Germany -- some officials question whether yet another round of sanctions, especially ones dependent on Russia and China, would have any teeth.

If Iran does not cooperate Thursday, the Obama administration has been working up plans to target Iran's energy, financial and telecommunications sectors, U.S. officials said Monday.




If all of this sounds familiar, that's because it is. President Bush went through several rounds of this dance, and now it appears President Obama is also going through the same dance. Through allies, we reach out to Iran diplomatically about their nuclear program. They give hints that they may be ready to capitulate. Then, it turns out they've only strung us along. Russia then pays lip service to how terrible it all is but makes sure to let it be known that tough sanctions won't happen. Instead, we got some sort of weak and limp sanctions and we start the process all over again. At some point, our president says something to the effect of "Iran must choose".



In the meantime, Iran has moved from being years away from the bomb to probably months. We've been here before. We've gone through this before, and it's always ended the same. Iran never capitulates. Russia always protects Iran, and whatever sanctions come about ultimately are too weak to work. We are here again. The president is going through the same dance again. Will he really try all the same things and hope for a different result?

Yet Another Defining Moment

About a year ago, I served on the jury on the murder case of Michael Hodges. Hodges was killed when he was confronted by an individual that also lived in the same set of housing projects on the West Side of Chicago. It's been so long that I have to confess that I can't remember the name of the suspect. Two eye witnesses testified and each gave near exactly the same version of the crime. That was the center piece of the evidence against the defendant and the jury ultimately came back with a guilty verdict. The case was gruesome. Hodges was shot six times at close range and five of those shots were in the back as he tried to flee. It's also unfortunately all too familiar in the projects of Chicago. In fact, the case was so ordinary that I can't find one news article about it. I only know because I happened to sit on the jury.

We have, in Chicago, reached what some are calling a defining moment. The murder of Derrion Albert is just that moment. Albert was a 16 year old honor student walking home when he apparently got caught in the middle of two rival gangs brawling. He was beaten to death and that beating was captured on cell phone video and then broadcast on television. (H/T to Michelle Malkin)



There are several differences between the case of Michael Hodges and this one. First, Derrion was a good kid on the honor roll. Hodges was not. Second, there was no video of Hodges death the way there is of Derrion's. That said, the brutality and senselessness was the same in both cases. Yet, it is this one that is being referred to as a defining moment.

I hope so but I also doubt it. That's because we have been here before. Back in 1984, Ben Wilson was on his way home from his school, Simeon High School, when he bumped into a group of teenagers. The altercation lead to one teenager taking out a gun and shooting and killing Wilson. Wilson was a star basketball player on Simeon. He was headed to the University of Illinois where he would have played with the Flyin' Illini's 1988-1989 Final Four team. In fact, Simeon alum starting with Nick Anderson wear 25 when they play at the University of Illinois. (Wilson's high school number was 25) He is often considered by many that saw him play the greatest basketball player from Chicago, including Isaiah Thomas. The fury that surrounded his death was then also a "defining moment". More than two decades later, the violence in Chicago's South and Southwest Side is as intense as it was when it claimed Wilson's life.

In 2007, Starkeshia Reed was killed outside her home on the 6700 block of Honore when a stray bullet from yet another gang confrontation hit her in the head while she sat outside her home. Following her death, several vigils, community meetings, and rallies were held. For about a month, the media was engaged about how the community would change following her death. Her death was yet another "defining moment". Earlier this year, deaths in the Chicago Public Schools reached such a critical level that only family was allowed to come to after school sporting events. It was yet another defining moment. Yet, deaths followed all of these incidents and ultimately these defining moments turned into yet another moment. That's lead us to the death of Derrion Albert.

The gravity of the video may turn this defining moment into a real defining moment, but I am not so confident. Instead, the death of Wilson, Hodges, Derrion Albert, and Reed, is all part of a cycle of violence that afflicts Chicago's inner city, much like it does all inner cities. From time to time, there is a death that shocks the public so much that it is viewed as a "defining moment." Rarely, do any of these defining moments lead to substantial change. Instead, the cycle of poverty that leads to crime to gang activity which makes inner cities like in Chicago something akin to a war zone continue. From time to time, our sensibilities are so challenged that we all promise to make substantial change. We are here yet again. Let's hope this is a real defining moment, but I am not so confident.

Genius is no Excuse for Evil

Roman Polanski is a film genius. He's a director of rare quality. He's also a criminal that three decades ago committed a horrible crime. Before being adjudicated for that crime, he fled the country to another country (France) that wouldn't extradite him back here. He's lived in France since in a fairly comfortable lifestyle. Movie making has logistical problems because he can only make movies in certain countries, but he's never short on Hollywood stars who are pleased to work with him. His genius overrides the heinous nature of his crimes.

I saw the Pianist and I loved it. I can't even remember now if I knew it was directed by Polanski and I certainly don't know if I put the moral consequences of that together. I do, however, know that anyone that helped him make a movie or watched any of his movies, contributed to the moral outrage that Polanski perpetrated on society at large.

It's important to note that Sharon Tate was Polanski's wife when she was killed by Charles Manson and his followers. So, his crime is as much Manson's responsibility as his own. I am not excusing what Polanski did but I am saying that he wouldn't have committed the rape of a thirteen year old had his own wife not been brutally killed. That should put into perspective just how gruesome the Manson killings were. They not only took lives directly but helped to create evil elsewhere on top of it.

Polanski's case is also a microcosm of how we treat celebrity and time. We wouldn't be having this discussion if Roman Polanski was a nobody. In fact, if Roman Polanski was a nobody, he wouldn't have escaped to France. He wouldn't have been given bail thirty years ago. As such, he wouldn't have been given a chance to escape.

There are those that say that the crime is so old that we need to forget about it. He's nearly eighty. The victim is grown up, has made peace with it, and doesn't want to revisit the situation. Of course, that's only so because of what he did subsequent to the crime. It's not as though he's spent the better part of the last three decades in jail and we are all debating whether to let him out of jail early. Instead, he escaped and went on living his life in relative normalcy for the last three decades. The crime is long past because he refused to face justice when it first occurred. Are we now to excuse it because his own actions have made the crime dated?

The thorniest issue here is the victim. She's moved on and she's forgiven him. It's not fair to open up those wounds. It's not something that anyone can simply dismiss. That said, it's not acceptable that a vicious child rapist can get away with this for so long. Delayed justice is still justice. Roman Polanski drugged and then brutally raped a thirteen year old when he was 44. No amount of genius should ever excuse that and he must finally face justice, long overdue.

Morning Market Report

The mini losing streak is officially over. After three straight days of losses, all three indices fired back yesterday. Each was up between 1 and 2%. The Dow gained gained 124 points and finished at 9789. The S&P 500 gained 18.60 and finished at 1062. Finally, the NASDAQ gained 39.82 and finished at 2130.74. All three are now near highs for the year again. September is looking to be a very strong month despite the "conventional wisdom" at the beginning of the month. They are currently down marginally, less than a quarter of a percent each. The markets rose following the disclosure of several high profile mergers and acquisitions including Kraft and Xerox. That's interesting because markets don't always respond positively to mergers and acquisitions. Clearly, it sees this as positive for the economy.

Meanwhile, bonds are also trading slightly worse this morning but they are also taking a breather from a relatively long rally. The ten year U.S. Treasury bond is now at 3.30% That's up two basis points from close yesterday, but close yesterday is the lowest since June. The spread between the two and ten year has widened slightly. It's now at 2.34% after tightening to 2.3% yesterday. Oil is currently trading at $66.09 that's down 75 cents a barrel. It's also near lows for the last six weeks.

Again, we have near mirror images of each other between Europe and the Far East. The Far East was up nearly across the board while Europe was down nearly across the board. The Hang Seng in China was up 2.06%, the NIKKEI in Japan was up .91% and the Straits Time Index in Singapore was up 1.3%. The broader Chinese index was down .33% but it was the only major Far East index down. The FTSE in London was down .12%, the DAX in Germany was down .19%, and the Spanish index was down .32%. The Italian index was up .36% and was one of two European indices to be up.

The Dollar is mixed against the major currencies. It's up .41% against the Euro, down .52% against the British Pound, and up .39% against the Japanese Yen.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Video, Quote, and Word of the Day

sinuous

having many curves

If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.
George Bernard Shaw

Bank of America Cuts Ties with ACORN

This broke earlier this morning.

Bank of America Corp. is suspending its work with the housing affiliate of embattled community organizing group ACORN. The decision comes as three Republicans in Congress ask Bank of America and 13 other financial institutions to give Congress a complete accounting of their dealings with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now or its affiliates.

In a statement, Bank of America said it would not enter into any further agreements with ACORN Housing Corp. until the bank is satisfied all issues have been resolved. ACORN Housing Corp. and Bank of America have worked together for years on mortgage foreclosure issues.


This is important for a number of reasons. First, we've heard about a number of governmental agencies that were cutting ties to ACORN. Then, the Congress voted to cut off all funds to ACORN. Yet, ACORN has downplayed all of these actions because in their assertion, they get most of their money from private sources. Well, Bank of America is private. It's also a major donor of the group. So, this is no small hit to the group.

If this were a boxing match, ACORN would be slowly taken apart by a fighter like Floyd Mayweather Jr. They continue to take blows from every side. None are themselves a knockout but it's clear they are getting their clocks cleaned. From time to time, they counter like when they announced they would sue, James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, but ultimately they are slowly being taken apart. What we are watching is the slow dismantling of this group and there's really nothing they can do about it.

It's an almost certainty there's more tapes. The media coverage isn't letting up and there's so much corruption to report on the media will be busy for years. Meanwhile, having BofA cut them off is the equivalent of a tough body blow. You can bet there will be more body blows to come. Like all boxing matches, body blows add up until the fighter finally disintegrates under the weight of a constant barrage. That's what's happening to ACORN. They're not ready to fall yet, but it's only a matter of time until they drop and are knocked out entirely.

Health Care for Illegals?

I know that everyone reading this was thinking what I was thinking when I first heard about this.

Fearful that they're losing ground on immigration and health care, a group of House Democrats is pushing back and arguing that any health care bill should extend to all legal immigrants and allow illegal immigrants some access, The Washington Times reported on Monday.

The Democrats, trying to stiffen their party's spines on the contentious issue, say it's unfair to bar illegal immigrants from paying their own way in a government-sponsored exchange. Legal immigrants, they say, regardless of how long they've been in the United States, should be able to get government-subsidized health care if they meet the other eligibility requirements.


I know I was thinking that this idea is a total non starter. After all, the president categorically denied that illegals would be covered under the health care plan. In fact, he used his speech in front of the nation to call it a lie that illegal immigrants would be covered under his health care plan. So, any suggestion by any legislator that a final health care plan will cover illegals is a total nonstarter. After all, the president categorically denied that such a thing would ever pass.

So, we of course have nothing to worry about. This is going nowhere. In fact, I am sure the president will be on television immediately to say this is a non starter.

Now, the Democrats that support this are running a shell game. Their plan wouldn't call for the government to pay for their health insurance. It would merely allow an illegal to buy health insurance in the health care exchange. The logic behind this is that if someone has health insurance they are kept out of the emergency room. Now, let's take things one at a time. First, it's not entirely clear just how much of a burden those without insurance are on the health care system. The president says that families pay an extra $900 yearly for such services. Jacob Sullum wrote about this over the weekend and he cites a study that found something entirely different.

According to a 2008 report from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, both of those estimates are way off. The foundation’s analysis indicates that the true annual cost per family is more like $200, with uncompensated care accounting for “less than 1 percent of private health insurance costs.”

There is a much bigger cost that all those pushing this aren't accounting for. That's the cost of illegal immigration entirely. If illegals know that they can come here and get jobs, get health insurance, get loans, credit cards, cell phones, etc. there isn't much discouraging them to come here. The costs of illegal immigration are much higher than merely the health care costs. By providing illegals one more benefit of living in America, all we are doing is encouraging more illegal immigration into the country. We should be trying to do everything we can to discourage illegal immigration. That's the main reason everyone was so up in arms at the suggestion that illegals would be covered under the Obama plan. It's much more about the overall costs of illegal immigration and much less about the health care costs of illegal immigration.

It will be interesting to see how the president handles this. He was very firm in his stance that illegals wouldn't be covered. There is no way around that statement. If he doesn't immediately cme out and call this a non starter his credibility will take yet another hit. The last thing he needs right now in the health care debate is for the specter that illegals will be covered to float in the media for a few days.

Refereeing over Chaos

The New York Times has an interesting article about the current state of the health care bill in the Senate.

As the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, takes on the delicate task of melding two competing versions of major health care legislation, aides say he will lean heavily on President Obama to arbitrate a number of contentious issues that still threaten to divide liberal and centrist Democrats and derail a final bill.

Mr. Reid’s challenge is to stitch together legislation that can win 60 votes to stop a Republican filibuster. It must satisfy liberals demanding more generous subsidies and safety-net provisions for the middle class, without alienating centrist budget hawks or Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, the only Republican who has indicated she might back the bill.

Democrats now control 60 seats in the Senate, with the appointment last week of Paul G. Kirk Jr. of Massachusetts as the interim successor to Edward M. Kennedy, who died in August. But the party is far from united on the health care issue, even though Mr. Obama has declared it his top domestic priority and has expended enormous political capital on getting a bill passed.


It's interesting mostly in the fantasy like predictions that the article makes for health care reform. For instance, the article predicts that the Baucus bill will make it out of committee by the end of the week. I'm not sure the bill will even make out of committee but it is very unlikely to make it out by the end of the week. The committee took half of Friday off and will take today off for Yom Kippur. Tomorrow the committee will take up the contentious Rockefeller/Schumer amendment to add in the public option into this bill. The current version has only a co op. The committee is about half way through more than 500 amendments, but the article predicts the bill will be ready for a vote by Friday.

Then, it engages in more fantasy when it predicts the Senate will merge all the bills into one and bring them to a vote by October 15th. Now, the House has been in the position the Senate will purport to be on Friday since before the break. There's no final bill to speak of yet.

Besides this, the article recounts what any astute observer already knows. There simply aren't the votes to pass it. Now, it doesn't say that. Instead, the article points out many differences between moderates and liberals.

To appeal to Ms. Snowe, as well as to centrist Democrats like Senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, the combined bill would not include proposal for a government-run insurance plan, or public option, despite the clamoring of liberals who support it, senior Democratic Senate aides said.

...

The White House may also be asked to settle regional disputes, including disagreement over proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage, which offers extra benefits to some people 65 and older but often costs the government more than traditional Medicare.

“None of these decisions are going to be made without significant presidential input," said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Mr. Reid.


So, by appealing to one group, the final bill will disenfranchise another. By doing so, all the final bill will do is lose two votes to gain one. There's so many issues of contention including the size of subsidies, the cost, cuts to Medicare, and who to tax among them. So, by the time the final bill is done appeasing everyone, no one is happy. That's been one of the problems all along. So many legislators have come forward with potential problems that there's too many constituencies to appease. Some are diametrically opposed to each other. It's total chaos.

Now, Harry Reid wants the president to figure it all out. That's simply wishful thinking. No one can figure this out. If you increase subsidies to appease the liberals, the costs become too much for the moderates to swallow. On the other hand, the liberals demand insurance mandates but don't want the poor and middle class to pay too much. You have to cut Medicare somewhere to pay for it. The liberals aren't too keen on Medicare Advantage so they want that cut. Yet, seniors like Medicare Advantage and so all legislators that represent a lot of seniors, a la Bill Nelson of Florida, are against those cuts. At the same time, the president has pronounced the bill must be revenue neutral. Good luck Mr. President in squaring that.

Beyond this, the new Rasmussen poll has support for health care reform at an all time low of 41%. Seniors support the bill at an astonishing 16%. This is the legislative version of the food fight scene in Animal House.


Like I said, good luck refereeing that Mr. President.

Bill Clinton and Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

Bill Clinton was on Meet the Press once again talking about a vast right wing conspiracy.




Oh, you bet. Sure it is. It's not as strong as it was, because America has changed demographically. But it's as virulent as it was. I mean, they're saying things about him. You know, it's like when they accused me of murder, and all that stuff they did. … But … it's not really good for the Republicans and the country, what's going on now. I mean, they may be hurting President Obama. They can take his numbers down. They can run his opposition up. But, fundamentally, he and his team have a positive agenda for America. Their agenda seems to be wanting him to fail.




My first thought is that President Clinton took nearly eight years of attacks on him personally. I didn't even see the video and I could tell the residual anger in his words. That's neither surprising and it's something that I can understand. After all, the attacks on him got very personal and they were sustained for nearly eight years. Deserved or not, President Clinton clearly took all the attacks very personally.

It's also yet another example that in politics we only notice vicious attacks when they come from the other side. President Clinton wasn't out there analyzing the vast left wing conspiracy when they did worse to President Bush than they did to him for eight years. With most of the media, academia, and hollywood squarely in the left, it's hard to see to see how there's a vast right wing conspiracy. Yet, that's all that President Clinton sees.

Both sides do this of course. There's a small strand of conservatives that are still convinced that President Obama wasn't born in the U.S. Yet, many of those same folks were mocking liberals who trotted out one conspiracy theory after another about why the Iraq war was started. That's because we always notice bad behavior from the other side a lot more quickly than we do from our own and from ourselves.

If there is a vast right wing conspiracy, then the conspiracy on the left is enormous. Yet, Bill Clinton only notices the one on the right and that's because it's only the right that attacked him personally for nearly eight years.

President Obama to Copenhagen

In a story being reported by ESPN and other outlets, President Obama has done a 180% turnaround and will now come to Copenhagen to pitch for Chicago to get the games.

President Barack Obama will travel to Denmark this week to support Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, told The Associated Press on Monday morning that Obama will leave Thursday and join his wife, Michelle, in Copenhagen, where they'll make the pitch to the International Olympic Committee.

Obama would be the first U.S. president to take on such a direct role in lobbying for an Olympics event.


This is not terribly surprising and something that I predicted largely. I, however, predicted that President Obama would make a surprise appearance in Copenhagen. I thought he was merely playing possum with the Committee and wanted to make a more grand entrance. Instead, it appears that he was simply waffling, as he tends to do. In any case, most experts thought the city of Chicago had no chance without Obama at Copenhagen. Now, the city is back in the game.

The much more interesting report is the one that's on the front of Drudge. This report claims that the local Fox affiliate was told to not re air a report about Chicagoans not wanting the Olympics. The Olympic Committee told WFLD 32, the local Fox affiliate, that this report would hurt the bid. A new group called Chicagoans for Rio has received some attention and a sort of cult following. Well, WFLD ran a report on this group and it appears that the Olympic committee told them not to do it again. (no embed available but video is available at the link)

That raises all sorts of questions about what the media in Chicago is doing. Their job is not to be a mouth piece for the bid, but rather to report the news. No Games Chicago is holding a rally tomorrow at 5:30 PM at City Hall (121 N. LaSalle locally). How much media coverage will that receive? It appears that it won't receive much. This news isn't just surprising but shocking. For the media to be told what they should and should not cover by an extension of the local government is something akin to the media arrangement in North Korea.

The media in Chicago has done nearly zero critical reporting of the Olympics. They've been little more than cheerleaders. Despite this, the latest Tribune poll has barely a majority of Chicagoans supporting the bid. Imagine what would have happened if the media in Chicago wasn't acting as a mouthpiece. If Fox capitulated they have a lot to answer for, however this particular story explains a lot about the way this story has been covered.

Morning Market Report

The markets are in a mini losing streak. The three major indices have lost for three straight days, and we'd better have an up day soon or the pundits and analysts may panic. Futures are pointing marginally this morning. All three indices are currently up slightly more than half a percent. They are riding a "wave of merger and acquisition activity" to higher opening this morning. Xerox is buying Affiliated Computer Services, Belgian drug manufacturer Solvay is buying a unit of Abbott, Johnson and Johnson is buying an 18% stake in Crucell a Dutch biotech firm, and there are reports that Kraft will launch a hostile bid for Cadbury.

Treasuries are taking a breather this morning but they are still in the midst of a rally. The ten year U.S. Treasury bond is currently at 3.33% up two basis point but that's up off lows over the last two months. Meanwhile, the spread between the two and ten year has also tightened significantly to 2.33%, as the two year bond has stayed relatively flat while the ten year has rallied. Oil continues to hover around $66 a barrel and it's currently at $66.27 a barrel.

Around the world, we had near mirror images of each other. In the Far East, stocks indices were universally down. The Hang Seng in China was down 2.37%, the NIKKEI in Japan was down 2.5%, and the Straits Time Index was down 1.26%. In Europe, the FTSE in London was up .88%, the DAX in Germany was up 1.52%, and the Spanish Index was up .89%.

The Dollar is mixed this morning. It's up by .27% against the Euro, up .6% against the British Pound but down .17% against the Japanese Yen.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gates Closing GITMO "Harder Than Expected"

The administration is finally revealing to the public what most of us already knew. Yesterday, unnamed administration officials first revealed that GITMO will most likely still be open come January 22,2010, when it was scheduled for closure. Today, here's what Defense Secretary Robert Gates revealed.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said trying to close down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay has proved more complicated than anticipated.

Gates said "it's going to be tough" for the president to meet his goal of shutting the prison in January. He said there are difficulties in completing the lengthy review of detainee files and resolving other issues.


Now, there are all sorts of things here that should trouble everyone. First, President Obama pronounced that he would close GITMO within a year on his second day on the job. Now, we find out that figuring out the logistics is proving to be "more complicated than expected". What was he expecting exactly? He'd been on the job for two days. There was no time for a review or a plan to get out. So, his expectations weren't based on any sort of legitimate analyis.

Second, the president has been using its impending closure as the subject of accomplishment in nearly every foreign policy speech. So, at the same time he privately knew that closing it was proving more difficult than expected, he was still telling the world that we should view its closure as a source of pride.

Third, we're all finding this out now. How long has the administration known that things were more difficult than expected? I point this out because this stance is two days old. For the first eight months, the administration put on a very confident face. No one ever gave one hint that there would be any problems. Now we learn that there were problems all along. So, while privately the administration saw a major problem coming, publicly they were telling the world everything was going according to plan.

So, let's review. The administration foolishly made a grand proclamation without doing even a hint of analysis. Then, they found out that reality was much more difficult than the utopia they were creating in their speeches. This didn't stop them from using this proclamation as a point of accomplishment. Meanwhile, privately they knew that they'd never close GITMO on time. Yet, they waited eight months to tell the world what most already knew.

Video, Quote, and Word of the Day

blandishment

flattering speech or action

One of the most important ways to manifest integrity is to be loyal to those who are not present. In doing so, we build the trust of those who are present.
Stephen Covey

Dr. Chacko Comes to Butte

UPDATE: Please also check out my new book, The Definitive Dossier on PTSD in Whistleblowers, for only $3.95, in which I dedicate chapter four entirely to the exploits of Dr. Anna Chacko. 

Introduction: Before I relay the eventful fourteen months that Dr. Anna Chacko spent in Butte, Montana working at St. James Hospital as the head of radiology, here's a quick anecdote from Dr. Anna Chacko's memoir, A Journey Out of India. When little Anna was ten years old, her teacher in school gave the class an assignment to draw a butterfly. There was a girl in the class that was beautiful and Anna didn't like her. That girl brought in a perfect butterfly and the whole class loved it. Anna was sure that the girl had gotten her dad to draw it, and she went home and had her own father draw one. The butterfly he draw was so good that the teacher could tell that Anna didn't draw it. The teacher scolded her for having her parents do her homework for her. Anna was so flabbergasted that she went home, told her mother, and demanded that she get the teacher fired. That's exactly what her mother then did and the teacher lost her job.

...

Dr. Anna Chacko didn't arrive in Butte, Montana until July of 2007. By September of 2008, she, along with all the other radiologists at St. James, had moved on. Yet, her time in Butte was, shall we say, eventful. The fireworks started before she had arrived or even officially accepted a job. The radiology department as of the winter of 2006 was made up of three radiologists, Dr. Jesse Cole, Dr. Michael Driscoll and Dr. Dennis Wright. Dr. Wright and Dr. Driscoll had a combined sixty years of service at St. James Hospital. Meanwhile, Dr. Cole was the "newbie" and he'd only been there since 1996. Furthermore, none of the three were employees of St. James. Rather, they maintained privileges at St. James. This is a sophisticated medical characterization which doctors work at a hospital but maintain independence. As such, they bill separately from the hospital. The advantage, in this case, was that their three services cost the hospital nothing.

As part of a restructuring, Drs. Driscoll and Wright were let go at the end of 2006. This was part of an overall strategy to revolutionize the radiology department.

Kiser contends the community is going to be well- served by the additional staff. The goal is to recruit more than 30 physicians over the next several years. Along with radiology, the hospital can contract employees in pathology and anesthesia.

These contracts will make the hospital economically viable and allow it to expand, Kiser said.The financial goal of the hospital is to have a profit margin of 4 percent on the dollar. Kiser said last fiscal year, the hospital only had a profit margin of 1.5 percent on the dollar.

“We need to be 4 percent on the dollar to survive,” he said. St. James sees a much higher percentage of Medicare patients than a normal city. Much of the cost of services the hospital provides to low-income patients is never recovered.

Kiser wants the hospital to be a “regional hub” for health-care, but acknowledges there are difficulties in maintaining a hospital in a small town and staying profitable.

“We’re too small to be big, and too big to be small,” Kiser said.The hospital hopes to overcome its growing pains with the acquisition of its latest physician, Dr. Chacko. As head of the hospital’s radiology department, Chacko will be responsible for recruiting doctors, training and selecting equipment. Kiser promises the public there will be two to three radiologists on hand at the hospital all the time.


The firing of Drs. Driscoll and Wright became the subject of the first of four lawsuits that involved Dr. Chacko in Butte.

Dr. Anna Chacko was actually recommended to James Kiser, St. James' then CEO, by Scott Steinfeldt. Steinfeldt arrived at St. James about six months prior to Dr. Chacko. Steinfeldt and Chacko are friends, and they are also frequent business partners. They are principles on such companies as Radiology Solutions LLC and Chaco Corp and Moly99Montana. Another principle on many of these companies is Stewart Kirkpatrick, who's also Scott Steinfeldt's attorney. Steinfeldt is also the principle of his own company. Finally, Steinfeldt has had a long running tax dispute with the state of Montana.

Weeks prior to the removal of Drs. Driscoll and Wright, Dr. Chacko got herself entangled with the third radiologist at St. James, Dr. Jesse Cole. Dr. Chacko accused Dr. Cole of threatening her and filed an official complaint with the court. Dr. Cole was eventually ordered by the court to stay at least 500 feet away from Dr. Chacko. Dr. Cole has throughout contended that prior to her filing an official complaint he had one conversation with Dr. Chacko that lasted about fifteen seconds. He has since filed a counter suit that includes St. James, and its parent Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. That suit continues to make its way through the Montana court system. That was the second of four lawsuits and Dr. Chacko was still six months from arriving in Butte, Montana.

As the article I referenced mentioned, Dr. Chacko was brought in to revolutionize the radiology department in St. James. Before she got to that, she revolutionized the pay structure of all the radiologists. She brought three radiologists with her, Dr. Bob Shah, Dr. William Arndt, and and Dr. Dan Orron. These four no longer simply had hospital privileges but were paid staff of the hospital, and their combined salaries were between $1 million and $1.5 million yearly.

Upon her arrival at St. James, Dr. Anna Chacko immediately began to target Kristi George, the radiology director. Dr. Chacko began to question her competence, made disparaging remarks about her looks, and spread lies about George throughout the hospital. Things got so bad for George that she filed suit against Chacko and the hospital all while both were still working together. This was lawsuit number three of four that involved Dr. Chacko at St. James.

Meanwhile, Dr. Chacko then began lobbying the hospital's CEO, James Kiser, to limit some of George's duties. Specifically, Dr. Chacko wanted to remove from George the responsibility of buying new radiology equipment. The radiology director is an administrator not a doctor. They are often folks with MBA's. Buying radiology equipment is an administrative task and it's time consuming. To do it right, one has to call all legitimate suppliers to schedule showings. Their prices and services must be compared. This takes tens of hours to do right. Doctors are supposed to treat patients, and normally, they wouldn't have that kind of time. Yet, Dr. Chacko lobbied successfully to remove that duty from George. Over the next year, Dr. Chacko bought in excess of $2 million worth of radiology equipment and all of it from General Electric.

It was also common knowledge among staff, because Dr. Chacko often bragged about it, that Joe Hogan, CEO of GE Health Care Services, was on her speed dial. On at least two occasions, she exerted her power using this relationship. On one occasion, a female GE technician was seen speaking to Kristi George. By then, this was no longer allowed because George's responsibilities were reduced to pure administration and she wasn't to have any contact with staff and colleagues. On another occasion, a GE salesperson refused to release equipment without paying. On both occasions, Chacko called Hogan who then called the GE employees in question and scolded them personally.

Kiser indicated that he was looking to bring in Dr. Chacko to transform the radiology department. This was curious since for years Kiser referred to the radiology department as a beacon. The year prior to Chacko's arrival the radiology department had about $5 million in revenues and more than a million in operating profits. To put this figure into perspective, as of October 31st of 2009, there won't be a radiology department at St. James. (more on that in the end) This transformation included a non profit/for profit partnership with local physicians originally dreamed up in 2005. St. James is a non profit hospital which, among many things, means they pay no taxes. They entered into a joint venture with local radiologists. This partnership eventually ended in failure and the venture collapsed. Dr. Chacko also dreamed of having St. James be the "hub" for radioactive elements for PET scans, to be produced by cyclotron . This means the hospital would harvest this highly specialized radiactive material and ship it off to hospitals all around the country. She even lobbied members of Montana U.S. Senate for funding, though it doesn't appear any was ever earmarked. The problem with her idea was that Butte has an airport, it's not nearly sophisticated enough to handle mass flight with radioactive material. The radiation has a limited half life and so logistically, it's nearly impossible to ship any on a mass scale to other hospitals. In fact, sources familiar with the inner workings of the hospital tell me that it was difficult enough receiving radiation from other hospitals let alone trying to ship it elsewhere.

By the spring of 2008, the radiology department had turned from solid black to deep red. In March of 2008, James Kiser announced his resignation citing the need for "a change in leadership". Meanwhile, there was a major schism occurring in the department. Dr. Chacko had relentlessly targeted Kristi George. One of the people she often complained to about George was Jeri Doyle. Doyle was George's immediate deputy and they were also best friends for years. Often in front of dozens of staffs, Dr. Chacko could be overheard telling Doyle that if she allied with her, Dr. Chacko would make sure that Doyle would soon get George's job. In February of 2008, that's exactly what happened. George still had her same job title but significantly less responsibility. Furthermore, after February, all employee complaints within the radiology department would wind up going through Doyle and not George. So, presumably, if someone complained about Dr. Chacko that complaint would wind up on the desk of Jeri Doyle.

By September, the radiology department and the hospital were both in trouble. At this point, Dr. Chacko, and all the other radiologists, announced they were leaving. Scott Steinfeldt stuck around for another couple months. In November, he fired Kristi George. The very next day he was fired. Jeri Doyle is now the Director of Radiology, the top administrator in the department. Her immediate boss is Gary Bailey, now the Executive Director of Radiology. Two years ago, Bailey was a tech in the department. He was often fraternizing with Steinfeldt and Chacko. Dr. Chacko maintains her residence in Butte. In November of last year, she visited St. James one weekend even though by then she was the head of radiology at the Pittsburgh VA. Earlier this month, Doyle sent out a memo to the entire radiology department. Everyone would be fired and all would be invited to apply for their jobs back. Normally, these decisions would be based on seniority. In fact, some of the radiology department is represented by the local Teamsters Union. The contract they negotiated would have had specific language that would have protected seniority. Yet, Doyle's correspondence makes seniority only one of several factors.

This is all very interesting because those that know Doyle say that she follows orders well but doesn't give orders as well. In fact, colleagues often remark on her propensity for repeating what others say. It appears as though someone is orchestrating a takeover of the department so that it will be run and staffed as much as possible by allies of Dr. Chacko. I called both the main office of the Teamsters and its local and so far have not received an answer about what, if any, action they are taking. It's also unclear if they received any complaints from their members about Dr. Chacko and what if anything they did about it. I can also confirm that a tech filed an internal complaint against Dr. Chacko as a "disruptive physician", however it was filed right before she left and appears to have gone nowhere.

Dr. Chacko is now the head of radiology at the Pittsburgh VA. She's been there since October of 2008. In March of 2009, an investigative board was convened to have her removed after repeated complaints of bullying and terrorizing behavior. In April, the board recommended that she indeed be removed. She subsequently reached out to Congressman Brad Miller of the 13th District in North Carolina. He subsequently reached out General Eric Shinseki, the head of the VA. Then, word came down from the General's office to keep her in her job. Congressional sources also say that Congressman Miller is only of several in Congress that lobbied on behalf of Dr. Chacko after she was removed. Miller claimed in letter he sent to General Shinseki that "the department's performance had 'begun to suffer under Chacko's leadership' was unfounded." It's unclear how much Congressman Miller knew about Dr. Chacko's performance at St. James prior to making this assertion. His office has not responded to multiple requests of mine to answer these and many other questions. The accusations against Dr. Chacko from colleagues at the Pittsburgh VA conform to the story I just relayed. In fact, they correspond to complaints made by many of her colleagues at hospitals all over the country.

Finally, the fourth lawsuit involving Dr. Chacko at St. James involves Linda Murphy, Dr. Chacko's secretary there. When she was fired, Scott Steinfeldt told her they needed to let her go because "you know too much about Dr. Chacko". That lawsuit continues to make its way through the court system.

Epilogue:

Here's the full dossier on all of Dr. Chacko's exploits.


The MSM Begins to Notice ACORN

In January, I wrote this about ACORN.

Much of the malfeasance of ACORN comes from its nebulous relationship with a private company called Citizen's Consulting Inc. CCI is a sort of accounting and financial services firm. CCI also only has one client, or shall I say a series of clients...ACORN and all its affiliates. Whenever ACORN receives any money, be it from the federal government or other resources, it first goes to CCI. Then, CCI filters that money to anyone of ACORN's affiliates. Of course, this creates all sorts of room for malfeasance. If the government were to give money to say Health Care for America Now to provide health care services in poor neighborhoods, that money will first wind up at CCI. Where that money ends up is any one's guess. Why? That's because CCI is a private company and so getting a look at its books is no easy task. In fact, I doubt more than a handful of politicians even know the relationship between ACORN and CCI.


That article and others subsequent to it came from on and off the record conversations with ACORN insiders. In near unanimity, most ACORN insiders told me that at the top of the list of ACORN crimes was their propensity to co mingle funds. By doing so, money earmarked, be it by a charity, individual, or even the government, for something like health care would wind up being used for something totally different like helping a politician win an election.

At the time, those that paid attention to ACORN's crimes were mostly paying attention to their plethora of allegations of voter registration fraud. Beyond this, most confused this voter registration fraud with voter fraud. The latter being a much bigger offense. By focusing almost exclusively on voter registration fraud, many missed ACORN's much more serious malfeasance.

Meanwhile, the MSM was ignoring any and all of their crimes. That all has changed. Ever since the videos came out, ACORN has become a major media story and even the MSM has become to notice.

Documents released by a Senate Republican on Thursday show that leaders of the ACORN community organizing network transferred several million dollars in charitable and government money meant for the poor to arms of the group that have political and sometimes profit-making missions.

ACORN's tax-exempt groups and allied organizations, long a target of conservative ire, used more than half their charitable and public money in 2006 to pay other ACORN affiliates, according to an analysis by the tax staff of Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).

On Thursday, Grassley called the transactions a "big shell game" and said ACORN donors may be surprised by how the liberal group known for helping the poor obtain housing and health care was spending their money. He urged the Internal Revenue Service to take a closer look.

According to the Grassley report, charities "are being used to raise monies which are then funneled to other charities or to other organizations for purposes other than what the donor may have intended. . . . Dollars raised for charitable [purposes] appear to be used for impermissible lobbing and political activity."


None of this is new, and nor is any of it surprising to those that have been following ACORN. With the public engaged, the media may start to notice ACORN's multitude of offenses. The WAPO story is based on a Republican Senatorial report headed by Chuck Grassley of Iowa. When their counterparts in House released their own report, there was little notice from the media. Of course, that was then. Now, the public is engaged and they are dragging the media, kicking and screaming, to the story.

The media needs no new crimes to uncover. They only need to report on the ones that have already been discovered and ignored. The Issa Report, for instance, details in depth ACORN's near decade of criminality. If the media even notices one tenth of the crimes ACORN has committed over the last decade, they will have stories for the next couple years. If the MSM has noticed ACORN, then they really have problems.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Point Counter Point Weekly Addresses

This week's presidential address was all about the UN and G20 meetings that just took place. You gotta hand it to the president. He immediately said that in those meetings the world took "tangible steps to meet the world's challenges". He the spent the better part of the next four minutes being as vague as ever. He said that the world agreed to a series of reforms to make sure that boom and bust economies wouldn't occur anymore. What those reforms were though he didn't say? He touted a non enforceable resolution in which the Security Council agreed to destroy all loose nuclear material in four years. He also touted the meeting between Abu Mazen and Bibi Netanyahu in which the two agreed that they should keep speaking and not much else.

The president also said the world was "united" in making sure that Iran would not get a nuclear weapon. This followed the revelation that Iran has a second nuclear reactor that appears to only have a military purpose. The world seems to always be "united", in words that is, about the fact that Iran can't get a nuclear weapon. Yet, the world doesn't seem to do too much with that unity and that frankly goes back to the Bush administration and before that. The only tangible thing that President Obama said was an agreement to cut $300 billion in world wide subsidies for fossil fuels. Beyond that, the entire address was full of nice sounding but nebulous words like "reform", "unity", and "global agreement", and frankly none of them meant anything of substance. If there was a tangible step made toward world peace I missed it in this address because all I heard was vague soaring rhetoric.


Johnny Isakson, senator from Georgia, delivered the Republicans' response. His address focused on health care and we heard the exact same talking points we've heard from the Republicans throughout this debate. He slammed the Democrats plan as costing too much, being a government takeover, and being a burden on the states. He repeated the reforms the Republicans are for portability, allowing insurance to be sold across state lines, and tort reform.

Isakson slammed the Baucus proposal as essentially more of the same. He said the Baucus bill paid "lip service" to tort reform while it was yet another expansion of government. He also slammed the Democrats for demonizing the town hall attendees and for trying to put a gag order on Humana. There was nothing new here but since the Republicans are winning the debate there really didn't need to be.

Bird Sanctuary Another Daley Victim

Jarvis Migratory Sanctuary is a bird sanctuary located in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago. It sits between Belmont and Sheridan right on the lake shore. It's a scenic area home to more than 100 species of birds which often use Chicago to rest and refuel on the way North or South, depending on the season. Here's how the view and activities are described.

Although a fence prohibits visitors from entering the sanctuary itself, a viewing platform and peripheral wood chipped path provide ample viewing opportunities for bird watching. Additionally, during the summer months, visitors can see purple martins flying around and bringing food to their young at the six adjacent purple martin houses. At dusk, look for bats entering the newly installed bat house near the viewing platform. A dedicated group of community volunteers helps maintain the ecological health of the site by regularly collecting and scattering native seed, removing invasive species, planting native species, and monitoring vegetation, birds, and insects.


It's also, if current plans hold, a victim of Chicago's Olympic bid. That's because current plans have about 12 world class tennis courts being built within a block of Jarvis. With construction, dirt, and dust, from the building of the courts the sanctuary is likely to no longer attract many of the birds that currently visit the sanctuary.

The Jarvis Sanctuary is only one of the green victims of the Olympics. The biggest victim will be Washington Park. Washington Park was originally the vision of famed landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmstead. Olmstead also designed New York's Central Park. Washington Park was first conceived by Olmstead more than a century ago. It's become a fixture of the city. It will also be destroyed if the Olympics come to Chicago. That's because current plans for the Olympics have the 80,000 person stadium to be used for opening and closing ceremonies being built in Washington Park. That construction will of course destroy the park.

Worse yet, both the tennis courts and the stadium are temporary venues. They will both be torn down once the Olympics are over. In other words, these two Chicago landmarks will be destroyed to accomodate stadiums that will only be around for two weeks.

The destruction of Chicago's landscape is yet another underreported story of the bid. Today's Sun Times had a story on the sanctuary. Of course, it was a small story that was surrounded by a story about how the Olympics will be most handicapped friendly Olympics ever. (that's in the print edition) The failure to critically look at disruption to the parks and greenery in the city is just one of several things that Chicago media has been nearly incompetent in reporting.

It's tragic. That's because this Olympics could be planned properly, but the public must be informed. The media in the city has been little more than a cheerleader. Currently, the Mayor has a media entourage following him to Copenhagen as he makes his final pitch. The coverage of the Olympics has been much closer to the sort of mouthpiece coverage of a totalitarian regime than of the free press we are supposed to have. As such, a historic park and a perfectly good sanctuary are set for destruction. If there was some media scrutiny, the planners might even have to take the destruction of such landmarks into consideration when making decisions.

Not Buying Health Insurance Soon Criminal?

Anyone that's still not convinced that the Baucus bill is rotten should be convinced after they read this latest discovery.

Under the health care bill being considered in the Senate Finance Committee, Americans who fail to pay a penalty for not buying insurance could be charged up to $25,000 by the Internal Revenue Service or face up to a year in jail, according to congressional analysts.


To understand how this can happen you need to follow the wonky nature of the bill and our tax code. It's important because the so called logic reveals just how perverted not only the Baucus bill is but the Democrats' philosophy on health care.

Under the Baucus bill, health insurance is no longer optional. It's not even a right but rather a mandate. In other words, if you're living, you have to heave health insurance. If you don't have health insurance, the government penalizes you. The penalty has been changed once and currently that's as much as $1900. This penalty will be assessed by the IRS.

This is no small point because the president argued that this penalty is NOT a tax. That's important because the President ad nauseum promised not to raise taxes on anyone that earns less than $200,000 yearly. Of course, if this penalty were considered a tax, then this would break his promise. Of course, if the IRS is the one imposing the fee/penalty, it's hard to see this penalty as anything but a tax.

Now, let's follow the logic. Health insurance is now a mandate. If you don't pay it, you pay a penalty. If you don't pay the penalty, you are now evading your taxes. Tax evasion is a crime, just ask Al Capone. So, all those that refuse or can't pay for their health insurance and refuse or can't pay the fine for refusing are now considered the same kind of criminal as Al Capone once was. Such is the logic of President Obama and the Democrats.

At this point, the job I want is the person that creates ads for the RNC. There's no shortage of good ads in response to this. Ads that say things like, "the Democrats think you're a criminal if you don't get health insurance". The magnitude of this discovery can't be measured. The news of this broke just earlier today. There's no doubt that the Democrats will augment the penalties but the philosophy is there. If you don't pay the penalty for not buying health insurance, Democrats consider you a tax cheat. It's just that simple. That label is devastating. The reverberations are coming. Once this news filters through the news cycle health care reform will fall at least five more points.

Admin Acknowledges: We Won't Close GITMO On Time

It was back in May when Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had this exchange in a press briefing regarding the closure of GITMO.

Q Robert, does the President still expect to close Guantanamo Bay one year after his announcement, which would be I guess January 20, 2010? And is --

MR. GIBBS: I think it's the 21st or 22nd, but, yes.

Q Twenty-first, thank you. And is he still planning on issuing a detailed map, if you will, of how to get there in another two months from now?

MR. GIBBS: I don't understand the second part.

Q Did he not say on January 22nd that within six months he would sort of issue -- the administration would issue plans for how it intended to close Guantanamo?

MR. GIBBS: I'd have to go back and look. I mean, obviously, Sheryl, the President remains committed to closing Guantanamo.

Q On January 22nd?

MR. GIBBS: On whatever date he previously intoned in the executive order.

Q And he's still confident that he can do that?

MR. GIBBS: He is. There are multiple task forces that are -- have been stood up, and are meeting to deal with the issues surrounding that closure.

There were many of us that were dubious of the President's claim that he would close GITMO by January 2010 from the beginning. He said it in his second day on the job. He never said where any of these terrorists would go. GITMO has become a punching bag for the left for going on six years. Yet, no one that has criticized GITMO has offered a credible alternative. That's how I was very dubious that Obama would actually be able to fulfill his promise of closing GITMO. For nearly two years he criticized GITMO, what he never did was offer a credible alternatitve. Still, Gibbs was confident back in this May briefing the administration would follow through on its promise.

Then, roadblocks began to appear. Only a handful of detainees were received by other nations and most of those were only received after we bribed them. Then, the Congress, nearly unanimously, cut off funds for the transfer of GITMO detainees without a plan. That happened in May. Then, all the sticky questions began. Where would the detainees be tried? What would happen if they were acquitted? What rights would they have, etc? Then, there was a very contentious town hall meeting in Michigan, a potential site for where some detainees would be moved, in which citizens furiously objected to any suggestions that any GITMO detainees would be moved there.

Still, the administration put on a happy face. In fact, as recently as this week, the President proclaimed in front of the UN that one of his accomplishments is the upcoming closure of GITMO. The closure of GITMO was one of several things that Obama cited in which he felt that the U.S. was joining the rest of the world.

The problem is that GITMO won't be closed by January 20th as promised, and the administration is finally acknowledging that.

President Obama is unlikely to close the much-maligned detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in time to meet the self-imposed deadline of January, as his administration runs into daunting legal and logistical hurdles in moving the more than 220 detainees still being held there.

The difficulties in completing the lengthy review of detainee files and resolving other thorny questions mean the president's promised January deadline may slip, senior administration officials acknowledged for the first time Friday to FOX News.


The political damage of all of this will be directly related to just how quickly GITMO is closed and how messy that closure becomes. If it is closed in May of 2010 and that transition is smooth, the damage is minimal. If it's still open in November of 2010, that will be a huge problem not only for Obama but the Demorats in general.

President Obama's problem here remains the same. The reason that GITMO will likely not close by January is because there's absolutely no plan for where they can be moved if it's not GITMO. The president made this proclamation when clearly he had no clue what he would do. That's still the case. If the Democrats had stopped to think in the middle of their non stop criticism, they might have realized that the reason Bush kept GITMO open was because it was the best of bad options. Where exactly should we hold KSM? If he's moved into the U.S., then an ACLU lawyer will immediately move to mandate full constitutional rights to him. Then, KSM will lawyer up and we won't get any more information from him.

So, I'd be stunned if most of the folks currently in GITMO now aren't still in GITMO come November of 2012.

The Indoctrination of America's Kids


This first video is the now infamous video of kindergarteners singing a song in praise of President Obama at B. Bernice Young Elementary School in New Jersey. It's one of the creepiest and most disturbing videos I've seen in a while. It's for good reason that it's disturbing. It's almost become a cliche to refer to this video as something akin to Mao, Kim Jong Il, and Stalin. In those nations, we would expect such a video. We shouldn't expect it in America. Yet, that's exactly what we have. Worse yet, these are kindergarteners and so in no position to think critically through what they are singing. Now, a second such video has surfaced.

Kids Obama Song from misterbee2009 on Vimeo.


Yet, in my opinion, that's not nearly as disturbing as the next two videos.




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The reason that these two videos are much more disturbing is that they are found in thousands of classrooms all around the country. These second set of videos would have received no attention had it not been for the reporting of Glenn Beck. He broke the use of these videos in our classrooms nationally. These videos are produced by the George Soros' funded Tides Foundation. They present a view of America that is anti corporate, anti military, and frankly arguably anti American.

These two videos are the latest reincarnation of what has become a trend in our schools. Far too often, left wing ideology dominates the classroom and teachers aren't trying to teach but rather indoctrinate their students.

I don't necessarily have a problem with kids viewing the second set of videos (the first are indefensible) as long as that classroom then shows videos from the opposite perspective. If that is followed by debate and discussion, then that's the right way to teach. Yet, that's not what is happening. These videos, The Story of Stuff, are presented as the one and only view of America. They're presented to condemn our corporate, materialistic and militaristic culture. Those, not coincidentally, are also frequent targets of Soros himself. That isn't teaching but simply indoctrination.