Saturday, May 30, 2009
When Democrats derailed a GOP Latino nominee
By: Byron YorkChief Political Correspondent05/29/09 12:05 AM EDT
Unless something entirely unforeseen happens, confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor will be a lovefest for the Democrats who run the Senate Judiciary Committee. There will be much talk about Sotomayor's historic opportunity to become the first Hispanic on the Court, about her inspiring background, and about the sterling qualifications she would bring to the job. Sotomayor will have the majority party strongly on her side, and odds are things will end happily for her.
For some Republicans, however, it will be hard to avoid thinking back a few years, to a confirmation hearing that didn't end happily at all. In 2001, President George W. Bush nominated former Justice Department lawyer Miguel Estrada to a seat on the federal courts of appeals. In that instance, as today, the nominee was was a Hispanic with a compelling story and impressive qualifications. And some of the very people who are today praising Sotomayor spent their time devising extraordinary measures to kill Estrada's chances.
Born in Honduras, Estrada came to the United States at 17, not knowing a word of English. He learned the language almost instantly, and within a few years was graduating with honors from Columbia University and heading off to Harvard Law School. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, was a prosecutor in New York, and worked at the Justice Department in Washington before entering private practice.
Estrada's nomination for a federal judgeship set off alarm bells among Democrats. There is a group of left-leaning organizations -- People for the American Way, NARAL, the Alliance for Justice, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the NAACP, and others -- that work closely with Senate Democrats to promote Democratic judicial nominations and kill Republican ones. They were particularly concerned about Estrada.
In November, 2001, representatives of those groups met with Democratic Senate staff. One of those staffers then wrote a memo to Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin, informing Durbin that the groups wanted to stall Bush nominees, particularly three they had identified as good targets. "They also identified Miguel Estrada as especially dangerous," the staffer added, "because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment. They want to hold Estrada off as long as possible."
It was precisely the fact that Estrada was Hispanic that made Democrats and their activist allies want to kill his nomination. They were determined to deny a Republican White House credit, political and otherwise, for putting a first-rate Hispanic nominee on the bench.
Durbin and his colleagues did as they were instructed. But they had nothing with which to kill the nomination -- no outrageous statement by Estrada, no ethical lapse, no nothing. What to do?
They brainstormed. Estrada had once worked in the Justice Department's Office of Solicitor General, right? (Appointed under the first President Bush, Estrada stayed to serve several years under Clinton.) That office decides which cases the government will pursue in the Supreme Court, right? And that process involves confidential legal memoranda, right? Well, why don't we suggest that there might be something damaging in those memos -- we have no idea whether there is or not -- and demand that they be made public?
Durbin and his colleagues knew the Bush Justice Department would insist the internal legal memos remain confidential, as they always had been. It wasn’t just the Bush Administration that thought releasing the documents was a terrible idea; all seven living former Solicitors General, Republican and Democrat, wrote a letter to Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy begging him to back off.
But the Democrats didn't back off. They had a new, very serious question to ask: What is Miguel Estrada hiding?
The answer was nothing, of course. But the strategy worked. Democrats stonewalled Estrada's nomination, and, after losing control of the Senate in 2002, they began an unprecedented round of filibusters to block an entire slate of Bush appeals-courts nominees, Estrada among them. The confirmation process ground to a halt. More than two years after his nomination was announced, Estrada, tired of what appeared to be an endless runaround, withdrew his name from consideration. Instead of being on the federal bench, he is now in private practice in Washington.
And that was how Democrats treated the last high-level Hispanic court nominee. Think about that when you watch their lovefest with Sonia Sotomayor.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner heads to Beijing this weekend to urge Chinese leaders to fundamentally alter the export-oriented economy that has created years of trans-Pacific trade tensions.
In meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, Mr. Geithner is expected to reiterate U.S. support -- and gratitude -- for the giant stimulus package that China has implemented to combat the global recession.
But he is also planning to press Beijing to take drastic measures to turn China's economy into one that depends heavily on sales to domestic consumers and less on sales to the U.S. and other foreign markets, according to a senior Treasury Department official.
That means encouraging Beijing to offer more generous health-care, retirement, welfare, educational and other benefits in order to persuade the average Chinese citizen that spending now doesn't mean starving later.
"The efforts China could take would be efforts to strengthen the comfort that Chinese households have in spending, which largely involves reducing or addressing the reasons why they feel such a great need to save for precautionary purposes," said the senior Treasury official, who briefed reporters Thursday in advance of Mr. Geithner's departure on Saturday.
The message signals that Treasury is beginning to look beyond the current crisis toward preventing a return to ever-mounting trade deficits and the constant political tensions they generate between the U.S. and China.
The trip is Mr. Geithner's first to China as Treasury Secretary and an important step in resuming the dialogue pursued by his predecessor Henry Paulson.
The trip is intended to lay the groundwork for a broader Strategic and Economic Dialogue meeting in Washington this summer in which Mr. Geithner will lead the U.S. side of economic talks, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will head up the political and strategic discussions.
Mr. Geithner has been heartened by the fact that China's two-year, four trillion yuan package -- nearly $600 billion -- of government and corporate spending includes components to encourage a buying spree by Chinese consumers.
The government has compelled state-run banks to unleash a flood of credit, lending more in the first four months of this year than in all of 2008. And officials have announced a series of subsidies and other measures to encourage rural dwellers to splurge on such items as small-engine cars, home appliances and electronics.
"There is certainly discussion about the importance of shifting towards a more balanced, more domestic-demand source of growth for assuring Chinese growth in the future," the Treasury official said, noting that the Chinese have included that goal in their five-year plan.
That will also require, in the U.S. view, allowing China's currency to move more freely against the dollar. But Mr. Geithner is unlikely to hector Beijing about the yuan very much during this visit. The issue has long been a sensitive one, with U.S. manufacturers and their political allies accusing China of manipulating its currency to get an unfair edge in foreign trade.
Earlier this year during his confirmation process, Mr. Geithner labeled the country a currency manipulator, although the administration later backtracked and played down the comments.
The U.S., on a borrowing binge to restart the economy, needs China to continue to purchase dollar assets. Yet Chinese officials have, in recent months, expressed concern that big U.S. budget deficits and the threat of inflation might eat away at the value of their dollar holdings.
So far, however, Beijing hasn't pulled back from investments in U.S. government securities, something the Obama administration wants to avoid. "The last thing Geithner wants to do right now is rock the boat," said Frank Vargo, vice president for international economic affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers.
Mr. Geithner is scheduled to arrive in Beijing on Sunday for meetings Monday and Tuesday.—Andrew Browne in Beijing and Jason Dean in Singapore contributed to this article.
Last night, President Obama held a fundraiser for Senator Reid that raised several million dollars.
Hmmmm........what a coincidence!!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I am still not comfortable with that term being used to describe the Judge, but I think this may be an opportunity to further the discussion in this country. After all, the Attorney General feels we are cowards on this subject. So, let us have the uncomfortable conversation. There is apparently a theory that states that people of color have basic differences in reasoning and logic based on inherently physiological and cultural differences. Reportedly, the judge feels that this may be valid theory. Based on her quote it seems like that is a fair assessment of her beliefs.
But let us talk about biases that are based on more than just race. Let us talk about the bias based on political beliefs. In 1948, a black child was born in a very small poor town in rural Georgia. The father left the family when he was only 2, and at one point his family became homeless. He moved in with his grandparents who had him working on the family farm. This boy grew up to become Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Yet, another feel good story about someone overcoming all the odds and reaching the pinnacle of his chosen profession. Yet, yesterday President Obama said that the Supreme Court is full of people of privilege. Judge Sotomayor would be the first “real” person to sit on the bench. What about the early life of Justice Thomas is privileged? Is this about the fact that he is a minority who happens to be a conservative? That bias does exist in this country, and that must be part of the conversation. Not all conservatives are old white men.
Another uncomfortable part of the conversation also needs to be the brilliance of the pick of Judge Sotomayor itself. The choice of a minority woman lends itself to the fact that anyone going after her aggressively can and will be called a racist. A cynic could easily say this was part of the thought process that went into the pick itself. “If there is the perception that somehow she is being treated unfairly or they are distorting her record or comments, I think there will be a backlash in the Latino community. All we want is for the process to be respectful and fair. There could be a great resentment within the Latino community if it is seen somehow that she is not being treated with the respect due to a Supreme Court nominee”. This is a statement from the President of National Council of La Raza. If we are truly to live up to the ideal of Dr. King and we judge people based on the content of their character, it would only be fair to ask the same questions that were asked of Sam Alito. He was made out to be a racist during his confirmation hearings solely based on some college clubs and some well chosen cases. At one point his wife ran out of the Senate chamber in tears. President Obama himself wanted to filibuster to stop the floor vote. This statement came after admitting that he was well qualified for the position, his objection was only based on his constructionist views of the role of the Supreme Court.
The question about what the reaction would be if a white man made the statement that he would come to a better conclusion than a Latino woman is a fair one. If we are truly to become the nation that Dr. King envisioned, we must be able to ask the same questions of everyone without fear of recrimination. Discrimination is discrimination no matter who the person is. Men, women, black, white, hispanic, gay, and straight, we are all capable of discrimination. This is why the conversation is so uncomfortable.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
There are disturbing facts that are readily apparent. A quote from a speech given in 2001 at The University of California-Berkley being one. “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." I, for one, would like to know exactly what she meant by this statement.
There is a video from a conference at Duke University “All of the legal defense funds out there, they’re looking for people with court of appeals experience because the appeals court is where policy is made.” This was said with a laugh and the acknowledgement that she shouldn’t be saying it and realizing that her conversation was being taped. According to the constitution laws are made at the legislative level. It is easy to conclude that her true belief is that a judge is actually a legislator that wears a black robe.
A recent case puts her quote from Berkley in an interesting light. In the city of New Haven, CT a group of firefighters took a civil service test to qualify for a promotion. The top sixteen scores receive the promotion and a pay raise. After the scores were tabulated, 15 white and one Hispanic man came out to be the highest. The city of New Haven, afraid of a racial discrimination lawsuit, threw out the test results and gave out no promotions. The sixteen men filed a suit claiming reverse discrimination. Judge Sotomayor gave a one paragraph notice that it would not hear the case, after the judges heard debate and were given piles of briefs. One of her colleagues felt that they were trying to bury the case and has made this opinion on the record. This case has been fast-tracked and a Supreme Court decision on her dismissal should be announced sometime in June. A reveresal of her decision is expected.
Monday, May 25, 2009
“Title IV, Subtitle B, Part 2, Section 426, of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 states: ‘An eligible worker (specifically, workers who lose their jobs as a result of this measure) may receive a climate change adjustment allowance under this subsection for a period of not longer than 156 weeks…80 percent of the monthly premium of any health insurance coverage…up to a maximum payment of $1,500 in relocation allowance…and job search expenses not exceed[ing] $1,500.’”
One can assume that the people writing this bill are not too sure of the job creation; why else would these provisions by written in?
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I cannot imagine after the war veterans need to be watched as potential terrorists memo, Napolitano can get approval from the senate. But strange things are happening these days so who knows.
Rumor has it that an announcement could come as early as Tuesday.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
She also has worked for the ACLU and for NARAL. The opinions that she has written on abortion are to say the least extreme. She has compared pregnancy to involuntary servitude. Any restrictions on abortion are rendered unconstitutional under the 13th amendment; the one that outlawed slavery. She also believes that any church that is publicly pro-life should lose their tax-exempt status.
The office of legal counsel is the office that advises the President and the Department of Justice on what is and what is not constitutional, and how the powers are to be separated.
Dawn Johnsen is running into critics on both sides of the aisle. The Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana is against her nomination to this post, Senator Bayh has a strong voting record on supporting abortion. The State Senate of Indiana is also against her nomination by a 60% margin, and is not shy about taking this position publicly. Mrs. Johnsen does have her allies as well; One being former Congressman Edwards, a republican from Oklahoma. He believes that her strong background in consitutional issues is what is needed today.
While I agree with Congressman Edwards that she does indeed have a very impressive resume, the problem remains that she has a paper trail that clearly states that the courts should be used to change current laws and restritctions on abortion through judicial activism. The person who gets this job must have a clear understanding of the separation powers as described in the constitution. The judiciary should never be used to achieve change. That is a legislative responsibility.
For all people who felt that the last administration pushed the limits of the constitution too far, then what is needed is someone who will uphold the written meaning of the constitution and nothing more. I do not believe the Dawn Johnsen is the person who fits that description.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Many of the points in the speech today just don’t seem to jive with the historical records. On the day of 9/11 I clearly remember watching citizens across the Middle East in the streets handing out treats and cheering. His statement makes it seem like we were loved before Gitmo opened. Sadly, that is just not the case. After all, we never would have a Gitmo prison if we were not attacked on 9/11.
I agree with the President that much was done out of fear. The problem with his assessment of that is he isn’t the one that had to make these decisions the days, weeks, and months directly after the attacks. It is very easy to look back almost eight years after the fact and dissect the mistakes that were made. Fear for the safety of the American public was a natural reaction. Personally, I feel that if our leaders didn’t fear for my safety after 9/11, they should not be in a position of authority.
I am very interested to hear how he would have handled the prisoners who were picked up within months of 9/11. Especially, how he would have handled the interrogations of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Monday morning quarterbacking is easy. We now know that we have not been attacked for almost eight years, at the time we didn’t know when the next attack would be coming or if it would be even more deadly. As Dick Cheney stated today, he was the one in the underground bunker at the white house watching 3,000 innocent people being murdered. President Obama was not.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I guess it isn't so undisclosed anymore.
Isn't this a violation of some law? I would think that this is highly classifed information.
To make matters worse, a member of his staff released a statement saying he was talking about a home office that Cheney used to have meetings in, that his wife Jill Biden turned into an additional bedroom.
Which is worse, that he can't tell the difference between a home office and a bunker, or that he talked about the bunker in public?
No wonder they sent him off to the Balkans.
By: Examiner Editorial-05/18/09 6:05 AM EDT
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA, has teamed with Rep. Edward Markey, D-MA, chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, to produce the latest in a series of “cap-and-trade” bills designed to reduce carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions. Such emissions are produced when carbon-based fuels like petroleum and coal are burned to create energy to run things like electric power plants, automobiles and air conditioning systems. These emissions must be reduced because they are allegedly causing the earth’s atmosphere to heat up, with all sorts of lethal consequences following, not excluding death, destruction and the Final Apocalypse of All Mankind. The problem for such advocates, however, is that earth’s average temperatures have been declining for a decade, and a fast-growing number of climate and other scientists now question the root idea of a global warming crisis. These critics are increasingly banding together with elected officials and other experts in the public policy arena who see cap-and-trade schemes like Waxman-Markey as fatally flawed on two counts.
First, under Waxman-Markey, the government would establish a schedule of emissions reductions – 70 percent by 2030 – and a program of “credits” for businesses that meet the schedule. Those that don’t meet it can buy credits from companies that do, thus satisfying the government’s emission reduction mandate. The problem is that even under the most optimistic scenario, achieving the Waxman-Markey reductions would have only a negligible effect on global temperatures. Europe’s similar cap-and-trade program has been in effect for five years, yet has had no measurable impact on global temperatures. The U.S. effort is likely to fail, too, for the simply reason developing countries, particularly China and India, aren’t going to hobble their expanding economies, which will be dependent upon carbon-based fuels for the foreseeable future. Thus, at best, Waxman-Markey will reduce average global temperatures by much less than one degree.
That reduction highlights the second flaw, which is the excessive cost of achieving virtually no reduction in global temperatures. The conservative Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis used an econometric model of the U.S. economy to measure the projected impact of Waxman-Markey and found that by 2035, it would:
§ Reduce aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) by $7.4 trillion,
§ Destroy 844,000 jobs on average, with peak years seeing unemployment rise by over 1,900,000 jobs,
§ Raise electricity rates 90 percent after adjusting for inflation,
§ Raise inflation-adjusted gasoline prices by 74 percent,
§ Raise residential natural gas prices by 55 percent,
§ Raise an average family's annual energy bill by $1,500, and
§ Increase inflation-adjusted federal debt by 29 percent, or $33,400 additional federal debt per person, again after adjusting for inflation.
That is a prescription for wrecking American prosperity for decades to come.
By: Sen. Jim DeMint, OpEd Contributor- 5/20/09 4:33 PM
Quick, name the American public official who said that a Supreme Court Justice should "make decisions based on the law and the Constitution. Politics and ideological agendas have no place on the nation's highest Court . . . . Activist judges -- from the right or the left -- who substitute their judgment for that which is written in our national charter and in our nation's laws undermine the protections for ordinary Americans provided in our Constitution."Was it:* President George W. Bush* Justice Clarence Thomas* Chief Justice John Roberts* Justice Antonin Scalia* None of the above. It was Vermont Democrat Sen. Pat Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who this week deployed the Orwellian strategy of adopting the language of one's adversary and slapping it on an agenda to do the precisely the opposite.
Regrettably, Leahy's tactics make it very hard for Americans to evaluate the two very different positions on the correct way to interpret the Constitution, which has once again taken center stage with President Obama's first chance to nominate a Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.
These two sides took clear shape in the 1980s, when a great and honest debate arose between advocates of judicial restraint, led by President Reagan's Attorney General Ed Meese, and advocates of judicial activism, led by Justice William Brennan. Leahy has always been in the Brennan camp, who are euphemistically referred to as proponents of the "living Constitution," which sounds nice, except that it means you have to throw out the written Constitution.
The problem for Leahy, and for Obama (who is the greatest proponent of judicial activism to occupy the White House in our nation's history), is that Americans like the written Constitution very well, thank you, and they want judges to stick to it. In fact, 70 percent of actual voters nationwide in the last election, regardless of whom they voted for, want a president to nominate justices who "will interpret and apply the law as it is written and not take into account their own viewpoints and experiences" -- that is, who will not do as Obama has said he wants judges to do in the most difficult and controversial cases involving our Constitution. Obama has said plainly that he intends to choose a justice who will go beyond the law and instead be guided in his decisions by “that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles.” That is, instead of applying the Constitution and Bill of Rights as they are written, an Obama judge would substitute his own personal views, feelings, and experiences in deciding court cases.
Yet, in his very next sentence, the president went on to contradict his previous statement, using Leahy’s tactics, “I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role.” Which is it? The rule of law or a justice’s personal views? It cannot be both.But Americans did not vote for Obama because they agree with him on rewriting our democratic laws and Constitution from the bench. In fact, they disagree -- by a margin of more than 3 to 1.
Which is why the President and Leahy are now wrapping their long embrace of liberal judicial activism -- of judges substituting their own (liberal) views for what the law says -- in the rhetoric of the rule of law and judicial restraint.There are only two possibilities here: Dissembling or epiphany.If the former, then Leahy and the White House are seeking to confuse the issue of what's at stake in Supreme Court appointments. Instead of having the courage of their convictions, as Justice Brennan did, and giving Americans a sharp picture of the distinction between the two camps on this issue, they have co-opted the language of judicial restraint to advance the cause of politicized judicial “empathy.”
This cynical manipulation of words undermines the very basis for our system of self-government, because the people are entitled to a robust debate between adversarial points of view among their public servants to decide whom they want to support. Or, Leahy and Obama have simply seen the error of their activist ways, and are now adherents to the original intent of the Framers. They've come to appreciate the decades of overreaching by the Supreme Court, which has failed to equally uphold the explicit commands of the Constitution and Bill of Rights for all Americans and instead has concocted law that was never agreed to by the Founders or by living American citizens.
If this is the case -- and I truly hope it is -- the proof will be in the pudding when Obama nominates someone like Justice Byron White, nominated by President John F. Kennedy, who stood firmly for the rule of law as written in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, who dissented from Roe v. Wade and other lawless forays by the Court into legislating from the bench.Very soon, we will see which of these two scenarios is at work.
Jim DeMint, U.S. Senator from South Carolina, is chairman of the Senate Steering Committee.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Textbooks in Saudi Arabia call Jews pigs, Iran has rallies calling for the death of America, and the President of Iran also is a holocaust denier. There are legions of people who were born in Lebanon and Jordan who are not citizens of any country. They are taught to believe that Jews are living in their rightful homes and are evil. Which in some cases the argument about land has merit, but it doesn’t change the fact of what they are raised to believe; that Jews are bad.
There is a Muslim school in Alexandria, VA that is funded by Wahhabists from Saudi Arabia; the text books were translated into English and some very disturbing trends came to light. The children in this school were not being taught tolerance of Judeo Christian values, let alone the United States. The country that the majorities of these children were born in and are citizens of.
Theo Van Gogh was murdered for making the movie Submission, his partner in the movie Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been living in seclusion since 2004 and has security that is provided by the Dutch government. A cartoon critical of Islam was released and people were killed. Rushdie wrote a book and had to be put into protective custody so that he wouldn’t be killed. Several years ago the magazine Rolling Stone did a cover of Kenye West with a crown of thorns. This picture was very provocative and insulting to certain Christians. No one was killed over it.
When will the UN address these issues? When will the UN stand up to the governments of Lebanon and Jordan and tell them that the camps that have kept generations of Palestinians in are illegal, immoral and demand that these people be given full citizenship?
The United States gives the largest amount of funding to the UN by far. While I don’t think that we in anyway deserve advantages over other countries, but it should allow the United States to have sovereignty rights to its own laws and constitution. The UN was set-up to help ensure that the rights of all citizens across the world are protected. Even those in the United States. I feel that it may be time for the US to consider if continuing to fund an organization that is no longer interested in the rights of free speech for all people is really a worthwhile investment.
There is a federal courthouse in Alexandria, VA that has the ability to house prisoners that are awaiting trail. This is the same courthouse that had the trial for the 20th hijacker Zaccarias Mossaui. The mayor of Alexandria is none too pleased at this announcement. During the time of the trial, the security costs were astronomical, an entire wing of the courthouse had to be closed off, traffic in an already heavily travelled area was made worse by all the road closings and the never ending amounts of media covering the trial. All of this was done for just one prisoner. What would the affects be if several hundred prisoners came?
This courthouse is in downtown Alexandria, within walking distance to two of the metro lines, an Amtrak stop and the new federal Patent and Trade building. Very close to Reagan airport, the Pentagon and downtown Washington DC. This is an area that is very heavily populated with government employees. Sounds like a good target to people who want to do the US harm doesn’t it? Does anyone think this a good place to house Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11?
President Obama now has information that candidate Obama did not. It seems that this promise is going to be harder to keep than he once believed. Congress owes all American citizens a thorough investigation about where these prisoners can be held before the closing of this prison can even begin.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
That being said, the real opposition was not to abortion in and of itself, it is about the Catholic Church and the mixed messages it is sending. One of the main tenets of the Catholic faith is the respect of life; from conception to natural death. The Catholic Church is very clear about this, there is no ambiguity. The deeds of President Obama in no way respect that. He has a 100% rating from NARAL – Pro Choice America. Very few politicians have that rating, so obviously it isn’t all that easy to get. President Obama is also seen as a cheerleader for stem cell research that is funded by the federal government. President Obama’s record is one that does not respect life at all stages. There is no other way to say it.
The Catholic archdiocese has made it clear who can and cannot receive honorary degrees from any Catholic University. The President doesn’t fit into this definition. I have a close friend who is Catholic, went to a Catholic university and is raising his children as Catholics. I spoke with him about it; while I did attend a Jesuit University, I am not catholic. So, I decided to get a point of view from someone who has more of a stake in this than I do. He told me that he was fine with the President speaking there as long as the topic wasn’t raised. Well, that didn’t happen.
These are his words: “…So let's work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women." But, his actions and the policies that he has advocated have not lived up to these words. That is the real issue. He has never taken any stance limiting abortions; nor does he have a legislative history of funding adoptions and giving counseling to women who may easily be swayed into putting the child up for adoption and making some infertile couple’s dream of a family come true.
This issue has been so badly politicized that I am not sure it will ever be solved. My own feelings aside; I understand why some Catholics who adhere to the tenets of their faith are disappointed in the decision to allow the President to receive an honorary degree. It is saying that a main tenet of the faith can be compromised. We are at a point in our history that some really need their faith to help get through these troubled times. One year, at my alma mater, the graduating class decided to have Billy Joel give the commencement speech and it turned into a big deal due to Only the Good Die Young; a song about a Catholic girl named Virginia who isn’t living it up. We ended up with Maya Angelou. Boy, I guess that times have changed since I graduated huh?
Saturday, May 16, 2009
When will enough be enough? We are going to use additional tax dollars to back California’s bonds with one hand, while taking away the stimulus money because the federal government doesn’t like the wages being paid to some union workers with the other. What kind of sense does this make?
People, we need to stand up and tell this government we have had enough. We need to take away this never ending power the federal government has given itself. The constitution is being thrown out the window and we are passively standing by.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Percentage of people who wait more than 4 months for surgery:
23% in Australia
26% in New Zealand
27% in Canada
36% in United Kingdom
5% in US
Heart surgery in the UK done 1/4 of the rate as done in the United States
Dialysis patients wait 62 days in Canada for blood-vessel access - 16 days in the United States
1.8 Million people are waiting for hospital care or outpatient treatment at any given time in the UK
160 day waiting period for knee replacement surgery in Norway
UK has 1/4 of CT scanners per capita of the US
UK has 1/3 of MRI scanners per capita of the US
UK provides only 1/4 of the rate of the US for coronary-bypass surgery
US provides life saving kidney treatments at the rate of 9 times than the UK for people over the age of 85 (Can you say rationing?)
Only one in ten adult Canadiens have had a colonoscopy compared to one in three in the US
Twice as many Canadien women have not had a mammogram compared to the US
The rate of mortality is 25% higher in Canada than in the US for breast cancer, 8% for prostate cancer and 13% higher for colorectal cancer
Approx. 8 million of the uninsured in this country make more than $75,000 per year
Data from the National Center for Policy Analysis. Data available at ncpa.org
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I am writing to you about all the different statements you have made about the torture issue over the past month. Frankly, I am a little sick of your excuses and half-truths. It has become glaringly obvious you knew about it as far back as 2002.
The months after 9/11 the people of this country were frightened. We did not know when it would happen again nor did we know if it would be an even more deadly attack. We were dealing with not only with the aftermath of that attack; we were also still reeling from the anthrax attacks.
Our federal government was rightfully designed to move slowly. In the aftermath we left that principle behind. We had knee jerk reactions; such as the patriot act. The goodwill between parties began to fade and we were back to politics as usual and the finger-pointing about where to place the blame had already begun.
I understand that the people in your district are some of the hardest left in the entire country, and would be unhappy about your knowledge of the cases of water-boarding. But, I doubt that they are happy about your current excuse making and possibly out-right lies. Some of the CIA spokespeople have publicly stated that techniques were described in considerable detail with slide shows to boot to 40 people; you among them. You have since had 13 votes on this issue and said not one word. Just last week you said that you had Jane Harmon write a letter. Why you didn’t write the letter yourself is beyond my comprehension. But be that as it may, just admit you knew about it and move on.
Many democrats at that point in time were willing to give the former administration and our agencies that are tasked to protect the American people a little slack. Rightly or wrongly that was the mind-set at the time.
For the good of everyone, just admit that you knew about it. The American public is not so stupid that we don’t know half-truths and excuses when we hear them. Please admit that your current stance has more to do with your hatred of former President Bush and your desire to keep your district happy than it does with the feelings you had at the time. Some may not forgive you, but I personally would have more respect for you if you were just honest about it and then we can all move on.
Just a conservative girl.
The cap & trade policy that the President is trying to pass is nothing more than a hidden tax that will affect every American. These taxes will affect lower income families more profoundly, as the percentage of income that they pay towards utilities is higher for them than it is for middle and higher income families.
If the American people are going to pay for these taxes than it seems only “fair” that we understand exactly what it is costing us on a monthly basis. Especially since the reality is that consumers will not be able to figure out how much we are actually paying for this tax. The businesses and retailers will be passing this along to consumers through higher rates for goods and services, and where that is not possible they will be saving additional funds to cover the taxes by lowering wages and benefits. This will also affect shareholders with publically traded companies by lower stock values.
The President’s budget has estimated that this tax will cost American taxpayers $646 billion over ten years. Since the release of the budget, the office of the President has admitted that this estimate is too low.
Even if you are apt to believe that this legislation is necessary to combat climate change, you should still feel that all consumers have the right to know how much it is costing them. I urge all people to contact you representative to sign onto this piece of legislation. President Obama promised us transparency; so please take a stand & demand he keep that promise.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
And Guess What? The union SEIU that is referred to in the article, is closely related to guess who? ACORN.
U.S. threatens to rescind stimulus money over wage cuts
The Obama administration threatens to rescind billions in stimulus money if Gov. Schwarzenegger and lawmakers do not restore wage cuts to unionized home healthcare workers.
By Evan Halper May 8, 2009
Reporting from Sacramento -- The Obama administration is threatening to rescind billions of dollars in federal stimulus money if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers do not restore wage cuts to unionized home healthcare workers approved in February as part of the budget.Schwarzenegger's office was advised this week by federal health officials that the wage reduction, which will save California $74 million, violates provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Failure to revoke the scheduled wage cut before it takes effect July 1 could cost California $6.8 billion in stimulus money, according to state officials.
The news comes as state lawmakers are already facing a severe cash crisis, with the state at risk of running out of money in July. The wages at issue involve workers who care for some 440,000 low-income disabled and elderly Californians. The workers, who collectively contribute millions of dollars in dues each month to the influential Service Employees International Union and the United Domestic Workers, will see the state's contribution to their wages cut from a maximum of $12.10 per hour to a maximum of $10.10. The SEIU said in a statement that it had asked the Obama administration for the ruling.
The cut was highly contentious during last winter's budget talks. Republican lawmakers insisted that the rapidly growing, multibillion-dollar state program, In Home Supportive Services, be scaled back significantly.Democrats fought major reductions in the program, which they say is a cost-effective alternative to nursing-home care, but ultimately compromised.Reversing the wage cut would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, meaning Republican support would be needed. Schwarzenegger on Wednesday sent U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius a letter urging the federal government to reconsider. "Neither the Legislature nor I make decisions to reduce wages or benefits lightly, but only as a last resort in response to an unprecedented fiscal crisis," Schwarzenegger wrote
ACORN got $53 million in federal funds since 94, now eligible for up to $8 billion more
By: Kevin MooneyExaminer Columnist 5/6/09 5:32 AM
At least $53 million in federal funds have gone to ACORN activists since 1994, and the controversial group could get up to $8.5 billion more tax dollars despite being under investigation for voter registration fraud in a dozen states.
The economic stimulus bill enacted in February contains $3 billion that the non-profit activist group known more formally as the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now could receive, and 2010 federal budget contains another $5.5 billion that could also find its way into the group’s coffers.
An Examiner review of federal spending data found that ACORN has received at least $53 million in federal money since 1994. A downloadable spreadsheet of the $53 million is posted on washingtonexaminer.com.
Scott Levenson, ACORN's national spokesman, said "we have received no significant federal funding." When asked by The Examiner about the $53 million, Levenson said: "If you listen to some of the Republicans who are going to get a billion dollars from the stimulus package, I'm still waiting for my share. Their claims are overinflated, this is a gimmick and an attempt to demonize ACORN."
At least one lawmaker, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-MN, wants to stop the flow of tax dollars to ACORN, but House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-MA, stands in her way.
Frank plans to strip out an anti-ACORN provision Bachman succeeded in inserting in the proposed Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act that could be voted on by the House today or Thursday.
Bahmann’s amendment was unanimously approved by Frank’s committee in a voice vote last week. It would block organizations that have been indicted for voter registration or vote fraud from receiving housing counseling grants and legal assistance grants.
The Bachman prohibition would apply only to the proposed mortgage reform legislation, and would not change ACORN’s ability to receive funds under either the stimulus program or 2010 budget.
Frank said his panel’s approval of the Bachman amendment was a mistake and that he had not carefully reviewed its language when he previously voted yes.
“I did not read it carefully, and it was in the last minute that the amendment was accepted,” Frank said. “It is a deeply flawed amendment and I am opposed to it. Banning people from possible participation in government programs based on an indictment is a violation of the basic principles of due process.”
Frank plans to offer another amendment to the bill on the House floor that would allow non-profits that have been indicted to receive grants under the legislation so long as they have not been convicted.
Bachmann said Frank’s amendment would “eviscerate the meaning” of her original amendment.
“I am disturbed by how cavalierly Washington spends the taxpayers’ money,” Bachmann told The Examiner. “The new charges brought against ACORN this week in Nevada reaffirm my concern about giving taxpayer dollars to organizations that are repeatedly under criminal indictment. Last week, I asked: Whose side are we on, the taxpayer's or ACORN's?”
Non-profit groups like ACORN can apply for $2 billion in funds set aside for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes under the $800 billion economic stimulus bill passed earlier this year.
An additional $1 billion in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) are included in the stimulus bill. ACORN and other non-profit advocacy groups could receive through federally funded housing programs administered by state and local governments.
“ACORN is not normally eligible to apply directly for CDBG funds but may apply to the states and local government units that are CDBG recipients,” Matthew Vadum, a senior analyst and editor with Capital Research Center (CRC), said. “This opens the way for ACORN to receive billions more in taxpayer money.”
In addition to the $3 billion available in the stimulus package, the proposed $47.5 billion Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) budget provides $1 billion for an affordable housing trust fund and $4.5 billion in CDBG funds that could be funneled to ACORN indirectly.
“This means $8.5 billion is on the table this year for ACORN and other left-wing advocacy groups,” Vadum said. “ACORN won’t get all of the money but any tax dollars going to a criminal enterprise like this is just wrong.”
Kevin Mooney is an Examiner staff writer on the commentary staff.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
During the majority of his time in office this was made crystal-clear. It started with the Florida recount and just escalated from there. The only real exception was the aftermath of 9/11. We, as a nation, rallied behind our leaders. But, that lasted very briefly and all the divisiveness returned with additional vigor.
We get it, the left hates him and everything he stands for. You may be surprised to hear there are many things during his eight years in office that upset conservatives like me. The nomination of Harriet Meyers to the Supreme Court, the out-of-control spending, the 1st bailout package to name a few. What we need to stop at this point are the very personal attacks. Disagreeing with policy is the American way, but attacking him as a person is totally another.
There is very little that I agree with President Obama on, but I hope that if you have read my posts you will see that my disagreements have been with the policy positions he takes and not him as a fellow human being. Sure, there are loud voices on the right that do attack him personally. There is no denying that. But I have found that they are not as many nor are they wishing him a painful death. I have not heard anyone wishing neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden cancer.
Please keep in mind; it is now President Obama’s war in Afghanistan. This President’s budget, this President’s spending spree, this President’s foreign policy. The time has come for this President and his followers to take responsibility for the choices that are being made. They are his and his alone.
Former President Bush has stayed out of the public eye and has kept his mouth shut. He has publically said that President Obama deserves his silence, so maybe it is time that President Obama returns the favor.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
I don’t think you are going to find many people who are against an organization that advocates for the poor. The problems that people have with ACORN has to do with the tactics that they use. In order to help minorities and the poor get mortgages who would not normally qualify they have used such tactics as staging sit-ins at the homes of bank executives to force them to give those mortgages.
ACORN is a very large organization that has many arms. Some that are tax-exempt and some that are not. ACORN also receives tax payer dollars to help with the costs associated with the voter registration, to the tune of $53.6 million since 1994. The organization pays people an hourly wage to go out and register people to vote. Most of these activities take place in lower income neighborhoods. Worker after worker has admitted that they forged registration forms in order to get paid and to keep up with the daily quotas. The State of Nevada has begun a criminal investigation and will be taking the case to court.
It has come out the founders brother embezzled $1,000,000 from the organization and apparently was kept on the books as a loan. He continued on the payroll for 8 years after the embezzlement was discovered, and the act was covered up by high levels of management. After the information became public the founder and his brother were fired. But since that time no forensic accounting has been done. The same company that was doing the audits during the time of the embezzlement is still doing the audits today.
The questions that naturally arise are why our tax dollars is going to organization that is not willing to open up it books to an audit after this crime was committed. This is non-profit organization; the accounting rules for the tax exemption are normally very strict. As I have worked for non-profits in the past, I know this to be true. Another question that naturally arises is why they are getting the tax dollars when they openly supported President Obama during the election. If they are getting tax dollars they need to be bi-partisan in order to keep that status.
Marcel Reid was running the organization in Washington DC after the termination of the CEO and CFO. She was also a board member. During her tenure she has pressed for a full forensic accounting of the books, but she has been terminated from the board. Her repeated request to open the books for an audit has been ongoing for more than 3 years.
Marcel Reid and others have joined together and formed the ACORN 8. Ms. Reid is still technically employed by ACORN but has been stopped from going to her office. So her pleas for the audit are not being heeded. Marcel Reid believes in the work ACORN can do. She wants to continue to advocate for the poor, but feels that this organization is actually hurting the very people that they say they want to help. She feels that ACORN has turned into a large money operation and is losing the focus that it was founded to do.
Taxpayers have every right to demand an investigation into this organization as they are taking our hard earned dollars. There has been congressional testimony that is questioning the tax exempt status of the organization; as no one is sure if the tax exempt money is being used for activities that don’t fall under the legal exemptions. Representative Conyers recently released a statement saying an investigation is not warranted at this time. I would like an answer as to why. It makes me wonder if the democrats are more interested in keeping the organization that registers voters that are more inclined to vote for the Democratic Party than they are in the truth.
Friday, May 8, 2009
"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."
These issues are becoming front and center for a variety of reasons. The stimulus package provisions being one example of this. The stimulus package states that payment for the work done on the projects must be done on scale union wages. The State of California is on the brink of insolvency, so this provision is problematic to them. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has written a letter to President Obama in regards to this provision and requesting an exemption.
Montana has passed a law exempting the state from federal laws restricting guns. All guns and ammunition made in the state that is sold within the state will be stamped Made in Montana, and will fall under only the jurisdiction of the state. This law is due to take effect on October 10, 2009. The basis of the law is that the 10th Amendment is for inter-state commerce, not intra-state commerce.
Leo Berman, Texas State Representative, is introducing a bill that will clarify that Texas is a Sovereign state and that they’re not required to follow any federal law that is not mandated under the U.S. Constitution. He believes that the bill will pass.
In Utah, the Patrick Henry Caucus has been formed. Patrick Henry famously said “Give me Liberty, or Give me Death.” The caucus has been formed to ensure the sovereignty of states rights. They are hoping to set up the same type of organization in all 50 states.
The federal government may find that they are over-playing their hand. The legislators and governors across the country are starting to question the control the federal government is trying to exert, and how they are using money to do it.
This is nothing new; the feds have been doing this for quite sometime. The drinking age being one very good example of this. Under the constitution, the federal government has no right to set a minimum drinking age. In order to get all 50 states to raise the age to 21 they were withholding money for road projects. All 50 states capitulated and raised the age to 21. While I feel that this is a good law, it is how it came about that is disturbing. The federal government keeps usurping on the rights of the states that was given to them by the constitution.
This is an issue that we will be hearing more of as time goes by. The chances of the gun control lobby not bringing the Montana law to court is next to nil. I would venture to say this will be falling to the Supreme Court to decide within the next five years.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Feds To Seize Private Land For 9/11 MemorialPosted: 1:04 pm EDT May 7, 2009Updated: 1:12 pm EDT May 7, 2009National Park Service officials said they will begin taking land for the Flight 93 memorial in Somerset County from property owners because negotiations have been unsuccessful. The service said it will condemn about 500 acres still needed for the memorial to be built in time for the 10Th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Randall Musser, who is one of seven landowners affected, said he is surprised by the Park Service's actions but understands the agency must move forward with land acquisition to finish the memorial by 2011. Park Service representatives said they have been working with landowners for years, but negotiations have not been successful. Musser said while there have been talks about negotiating, they have never sat down and discussed anything. On Tuesday, Musser said a Park Services appraisers came to look at his land. Before he heard back from the appraiser, he received a letter informing him the Park Service would be using government powers to take the land. Park Service officials said, even with homeowners willing to sell, title questions and other claims can arise that could delay the project. The Park Service will need about 1,500 acres to construct the memorial, and 500 of those acres will come from the landowners. Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was diverted by hijackers with the likely goal of crashing it into the White House or Capitol. The official 9/11 Commission report said the hijackers crashed the plane into a Pennsylvania field as passengers tried to wrest control of the cockpit. Construction on the memorial is set to begin by the end of the year. The park service planned to publicly release further details later Thursday. Stay with WJACTV.com and WJAC-TV News for continuing coverage.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I have been doing some reading up on the Supreme Court. Namely, the upcoming open seat. President Obama will make what will be one of his lasting legacies by who he appoints. This will affect every person in this country for decades.
I personally believe that beyond going to war, this is the most important thing any president will do. I have read several articles and watched a few pundits on TV talk about this. They keep talking about ideology.
The thing that I don't understand about this is if a judge does the job that they are supposed to do, ideology has nothing to do with it. The job is no more or no less than following the constitution as written. Judges on lower courts make difficult decisions all the time.
Much of the divisiveness we have in this country is because of the courts. I am not talking about the everyday criminal courts, I am specifically referring to district courts and the supreme court. All across the country the courts are making decisions that have more to do with ideology than the rule of law. Gay Marriage for one. This is a state legislative issue. Vermont legalized it through the state legislator, like it should be done. California put it on the state ballot, which seems to be the way to do things in that state. In one instance it passed, in the other it failed. The courts have no place in this issue. Some states will legalize, while others will not.
During the election I talked to people all the time. I volunteered for Senator McCain's campaign. I made phone calls as well as doing canvassing door-to-door. So I heard people tell me their view points and what was important to them. Most of the issues were economic, but many had to do with the power of the government. This power will only be increased if we don't stop putting people on the bench who think that they are legislators. If you don't believe that you need to look no further than the lady in Connecticut who lost her home to eminant domain. No where in the constitution is it written that a home can be taken away to increase tax revenues for a government entity. This was a clear cut case of judicial activism that was disguised as the common good. That law is in place for land that is needed for public works, not to increase condo and office space.
Robert Gibbs, press secretary for President Obama, recently was quoted "Somebody that understands the rule of law, somebody that has a record of excellence and integrity, somebody who also understands how these opinions affect everyday lives and will exercise some common sense". Sounds good on the outside, but if you read it more carefully he is saying that an activist will be chosen. Is it common sense that an obviously guilty person is let go due to police misconduct? Of course it is not, but it is the law. All parts of the system must act in accordance to the law. If the law is no good, than you remedy that at the legislative level. That is what it is there for.
I did on occasion run into people who were undecided during the run-up to the election, this was the one issue that I kept bringing up to those people. I would tell them to ask themselves if they wanted someone on the bench who made decisions based on ideology or the constitution. Ideology has no place in a courtroom.
Monday, May 4, 2009
DUNCAN: Supreme Court benchmarks
The Constitution - evolving or enduring?
By Richard F. Duncan Sunday, May 3, 2009
Now that President Obama has become the judicial-nominator-in-chief, we can expect to hear a lot more about the liberal judicial theory of the "living, breathing" and "evolving" Constitution. Of course, the Constitution is not really alive. Nor does it breathe. But does it at least evolve? And if so, how, so?
Some commentators reject an "original meaning" theory of interpreting the Constitution in favor of a "living, breathing" theory. For example, Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California at Irvine, says, "Non-originalists believe that the Constitution's meaning is not limited to what the Framers intended; rather, the meaning and application of constitutional provisions should evolve by interpretation."
Is this really a theory of evolution? Or is it more honestly a theory of creation? How does the Constitution "evolve" into a new species in so brief a time? Surely, the sudden appearance of new constitutional rules in the fossil record is best explained by a theory of intelligent design, of Creation, if you please, by shifting Supreme Court majorities. Thus, when Mr. Chemerinsky says new constitutional rights "evolve by interpretation," he means these new constitutional species are called into being by judicial decisions (intelligent design) written by a Creator consisting of no fewer than five unelected lawyers serving lifetime appointments on the Supreme Court.
When the court speaks of the Constitution evolving, is that really an attempt to mask or conceal "what's going on," as Marvin Gaye might have put it? Why doesn't the court simply admit it is making up new constitutional provisions when it calls into being some new rule never intended by the Framers? Could it be, perhaps, because the theory of an evolving Constitution is a fig leaf that covers, if only imperfectly, the judicial activism that results when the court makes, rather than enforces, constitutional law?
Some proponents of the living Constitution criticize originalists as supporting a "dead" Constitution. But Justice Antonin Scalia likes to respond by saying that originalists view the Constitution not as dead but rather as "enduring."
"The Constitution," Justice Scalia says, "is not a living organism, it is a legal document. It says something and doesn't say other things." Proponents of an evolving Constitution want matters to be decided "not by the people, but by the justices of the Supreme Court." In other words, as Robert H. Bork puts it, "The truth is that the judge who looks outside the Constitution always looks inside himself and nowhere else."
Mr. Obama has said he wants to call a truce in the culture war and adopt a new, less divisive, more bipartisan, style of governing. He will have a wonderful opportunity to live up to his word when he nominates new justices of the Supreme Court.
Will he appoint judges who view the evolving Constitution as a means of winning the culture war by, for example, creating a new constitutional right to same-sex marriage or partial-birth abortion that will trump state laws defining marriage or restricting partial-birth abortions? Or will he seek to get beyond the divisive issues of the culture war and take the road less traveled by appointing judges who are committed to enforcing the original meaning of the written, enduring Constitution?
I hope for the best, but I fear it will be difficult for Mr. Obama to take politics out of the judicial selection process.
Richard F. Duncan is the Welpton Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Nebraska College of Law.
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April 20th, 2009 4:55 PM Eastern
JUAN WILLIAMS: Obama’s Outrageous Sin Against Our Kids
As I watch Washington politics I am not easily given to rage.
Washington politics is a game and selfishness, out-sized egos and corruption are predictable.
But over the last week I find myself in a fury.
The cause of my upset is watching the key civil rights issue of this generation — improving big city public school education — get tossed overboard by political gamesmanship. If there is one goal that deserves to be held above day-to-day partisanship and pettiness of ordinary politics it is the effort to end the scandalous poor level of academic achievement and abysmally high drop-out rates for America’s black and Hispanic students.
The reckless dismantling of the D.C. voucher program does not speak well of the promise by Obama to be the “Education President.”
This is critical to our nation’s future in terms of workforce preparation to compete in a global economy but also to fulfill the idea of racial equality by providing a real equal opportunity for all young people who are willing to work hard to succeed.
In a politically calculated dance step the Obama team first indicated that they wanted the Opportunity Scholarship Program to continue for students lucky enough to have won one of the vouchers. The five-year school voucher program is scheduled to expire after the school year ending in June 2010. Secretary Duncan said in early March that it didn’t make sense “to take kids out of a school where they’re happy and safe and satisfied and learning…those kids need to stay in their school.”
And all along the administration indicated that pending evidence that this voucher program or any other produces better test scores for students they were willing to fight for it. The president has said that when it comes to better schools he is open to supporting “what works for kids.” That looked like a level playing field on which to evaluate the program and even possibly expanding the program.
But last week Secretary Duncan announced that he will not allow any new students to enter the D.C. voucher program. In fact, he had to take back the government’s offer of scholarships to 200 students who had won a lottery to get into the program starting next year. His rationale is that if the program does not win new funding from Congress then those students might have to go back to public school in a year.
He does not want to give the students a chance for a year in a better school? That does not make sense if the students and their families want that life-line of hope. It does not make sense if there is a real chance that the program might win new funding as parents, educators and politicians rally to undo the “bigotry of low expectations” and open doors of opportunity — wherever they exist — for more low-income students.
And now Secretary Duncan has applied a sly, political check-mate for the D.C. voucher plan.
With no living, breathing students profiting from the program to give it a face and stand and defend it the Congress has little political pressure to put new money into the program. The political pressure will be coming exclusively from the teacher’s unions who oppose the vouchers, just as they oppose No Child Left Behind and charter schools and every other effort at reforming public schools that continue to fail the nation’s most vulnerable young people, low income blacks and Hispanics.
The National Education Association and other teachers’ unions have put millions into Democrats’ congressional campaigns because they oppose Republican efforts to challenge unions on their resistance to school reform and specifically their refusal to support ideas such as performance-based pay for teachers who raise students’ test scores.
By going along with Secretary Duncan’s plan to hollow out the D.C. voucher program this president, who has spoken so passionately about the importance of education, is playing rank politics with the education of poor children. It is an outrage.
This voucher programs is unique in that it takes no money away from the beleaguered District of Columbia Public Schools. Nationwide, the strongest argument from opponents of vouchers is that it drains hard-to-find dollars from public schools that educate the majority of children.
But Congress approved the D.C. plan as an experiment and funded it separately from the D.C. school budget. It is the most generous voucher program in the nation, offering $7,500 per child to help with tuition to a parochial or private school.
With that line of attack off the table, critics of vouchers pointed out that even $7,500 is not enough to pay for the full tuition to private schools where the price of a year’s education can easily go beyond $20,000. But nearly 8,000 students applied for the vouchers. And a quarter of them, 1,714 children, won the lottery and took the money as a ticket out of the D.C. public schools.
The students, almost all of them black and Hispanic, patched together the voucher money with scholarships, other grants and parents willing to make sacrifices to pay their tuition.
What happened, according to a Department of Education study, is that after three years the voucher students scored 3.7 months higher on reading than students who remained in the D.C. schools. In addition, students who came into the D.C. voucher program when it first started had a 19 month advantage in reading after three years in private schools.
It is really upsetting to see that the Heritage Foundation has discoverd that 38 percent of the members of Congress made the choice to put their children in private schools. Of course, Secretary Duncan has said he decided not to live in Washington, D.C. because he did not want his children to go to public schools there. And President Obama, who has no choice but to live in the White House, does not send his two daughters to D.C. public schools, either. They attend a private school, Sidwell Friends, along with two students who got there because of the voucher program.
This reckless dismantling of the D.C. voucher program does not bode well for arguments to come about standards in the effort to reauthorize No Child Left Behind. It does not speak well of the promise of President Obama to be the “Education President,’ who once seemed primed to stand up for all children who want to learn and especially minority children.
And its time for all of us to get outraged about this sin against our children.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
The show was done to show that many people across this country are dismissing this movement a little too quickly. Here are some of the reasons that people gave for going:
- Loss of trust in Washington
- Afraid of the direction the country is taking.
- Media not doing the job they are paid to do.
I was one of these protesters. This was the first time that I and many others have ever done it. If you had asked me six months ago if I ever would go to one I would have laughed and said no way. I have always been passionate, but tended not to do much beyond voting and volunteering. The majority of the people in his audience yesterday said the same thing.
There were a few other things that the media, Speaker Pelosi, and President Obama may find surprising:
- they want to get rid of the two party system; it is no longer working
- They have left their former party affiliation
- They are becoming Libertarian leaning
- They are most upset at the GOP (as they expected all the spending from democrats)
- They want the media to concentrate on the issues and forget the personalities
- Fox News Channel is just as bad as MSNBC and CNN
- Former President Bush is also responsible for the march towards Socialism
The people in the audience was the same as what was at the tea party I attended; across the spectrum of the color and political bars. Another words, we are not racist rednecks that hate President Obama, nor are we terrorists in waiting. We also are not willing to let that be it. We will be marching some more. There is another big one being planned for September 12 in Washington DC. From what I have seen on some of the websites, people are coming from other parts of the country to take part.
We are fighting to get control of the outrageous and unnecessary spending, the out of control growth of government, and how our Constitution is being rendered obsolete by the very people who have sworn an oath to uphold it. I watched some of the media coverage after I got home from my tea party and the local ABC station said we had no real solutions. Here are a few that were mentioned yesterday - as well as any 9-12 meeting that you would go to:
- Running for office outside of the two party system
- Getting rid of the income tax
- Convene a new Constitutional Convention
We would like to follow in the footsteps of our founders; to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson
When people fear the government it is tyranny
When government fears the people it is liberty
The real lessons that need to get across to the naysayers are that we will not be stopping anytime soon, we are mad as hell at all of the politicians, and this is about so much more than taxes. Nancy Pelosi, the mainstream media, and President Obama need to stop underestimating us. After all, a grassroots movement is how we have the current President. I find it interesting how soon he has forgotten the very thing that put him where is now.