Sunday, October 18, 2009

Secret Service Refutes Report Claiming Agency Stretched Too Thin

A recipe for disaster. If there is anybody that needs to be heavily protected, it's Barack Obama.

in reference to:

"The U.S. Secret Service pushed back against a report Sunday suggesting the agency may be spread too thin as it faces a
greater range of potential threats against the nation's leaders.A report from the Boston Globe published Sunday questions
the agency's ability to protect political figures and investigate financial crimes -- its two main missions -- as it handles
an unprecedented number of threats against President Obama.The newspaper referenced an internal report issued in August
by the Congressional Research Service that reportedly said, "If there were an evaluation of the service's two missions, it
might be determined that it is ineffective ... to conduct its protection mission and investigate financial crimes."And
budget documents sent to Congress this year claim the agency lacks the necessary technology to handle with a growing number
of threats, the newspaper reported."
- Secret Service Refutes Report Claiming Agency Stretched Too Thin - Political News - (view on Google Sidewiki)

CBS' 'Face the Nation' Transcript (10-18-09): Rahn Emanuel

Complete transcript. Excerpt below:

DICKERSON: I want to start with something Senator Kerry said, which we’re going to play later in the show in an interview. He said that he didn’t think the president should make a decision whether he adds troops or not in Afghanistan until there’s stability in the government. Is the president going to delay his decision?

EMANUEL: Well, it’s not a matter of delay. The review will continue. He has had a meeting just yesterday with his national security team or parts of his national security team. And the review will continue the next week and the following week. So there will not be a delay in the review. Obviously what I think Senator Kerry was pointing to, which is absolutely correct, which is the essential part of the strategy or a key component or a leg on the stool, is an Afghan partner that is ready to take control of both the security situation in Afghanistan, and the civilian side of that.

DICKERSON: But the problem is, that partner may not be ready by the time the president is done with his thinking.

EMANUEL: You have got to notice what we noticed, John, which is that is a very important point. And even then, I mean, look, you will have an Afghan government. There are two roads here. One is obviously a run-off election or a negotiated settlement. But what’s most important about that process is that there’s a credibility and a legitimacy to the government at the end of that process. So which road they choose, that’s up to them. It must have -- be legitimate and credible in the eyes of the Afghan people.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you...



EMANUEL: Go ahead.

DICKERSON: The run-off question. A lot of people are concerned it has gotten too cold there. It’s too late for a run-off. What’s your view?

EMANUEL: Well, there is -- well, I’ve not been to Afghanistan or -- but what people are clearly pointing to is that it becomes more difficult to have it. You could do it. I think weather is a factor. The most important factor though is credibility and legitimacy. What I wanted earlier to say is what I think Senator Kerry is pointing to, which is important, is the strategic review on whether to send more troops is only one piece of the puzzle, important piece.

But the puzzle is much more complicated than that. Because when you’re creating -- what the American force would be expected to do is -- in General McChrystal’s report, is create a space and an opportunity for the Afghans to fill. And the question is, do you have a credible partner that could then fill that space that we’re asking the American troops to create?

And what is I think clear after the five meetings and the review is that basically this war for eight years was adrift. There really wasn’t any build-up of the army, the police, or the civilian side of delivering services to the different parts of the region.

DICKERSON: But let me...

EMANUEL: And so we are starting literally from scratch on that key component.

DICKERSON: From scratch on that key component.

But let’s go back to the partner because the partner -- is in our American national interest what happens in Afghanistan, and therefore, are we putting pressure on Karzai to take one of these two roads? This isn’t just about the Afghan people. It’s about our national security.

EMANUEL: Oh, right. But what would be -- as you probably know, what would be worse is if the Afghan people thought that the course that was chosen was done by the determination of the United States. And then it would lose the legitimacy and the credibility to the Afghan people.

And you are right about that piece. I would add the second point is that -- that, in fact, in Pakistan, you know, they have a different view about whether we should add troops. So there’s a -- a decision about Afghanistan has ramifications to the region which is why we have a strategy that’s comprehensive in its review.

Balloon Boy drama was a "hoax"

Duhh! Why wasn't the press saying this days ago? The real story here is that the media was duped. They never showed any real curiosity. And the fact that few if any in the media are criticizing the press coverage shows how we never hear of press misconduct.

in reference to:

"Reporting from Ft. Collins, Colo. -

What at first appeared to be an accidental balloon launch, which captivated the nation as rescuers tried to reach a 6-year-old believed trapped inside, was actually a publicity stunt done in the hopes of getting a reality TV show, authorities said today.

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said at a news conference here that the incident, which captured the nation's attention until the boy was found hiding in his house hours later, was a hoax.

"They put on a very good show for us, and we bought it," Alderden said of the professionally trained actors who are the parents of young Falcon Heene. Initially, investigators had believed the flight was genuine.

Richard and Mayumi Heene are expected to face felony charges, including conspiracy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The sheriff's department also has asked social services to evaluate whether the Heenes -- amateur scientists who have taken their three sons to chase hurricanes and tornadoes -- should continue to have custody of their children."
- Balloon boy drama was concocted by actor-parents, Colorado sheriff says -- (view on Google Sidewiki)

Specter rips GOP: ‘A Party of obstructionism.’

Specter is a worst case example of the opportunist politician in Washington. He profess any belief as long as it furthers his career. It is another reason why we need term limits..

in reference to:

"Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who until late April of this year was a lifelong Republican, castigated his former party this morning on Fox News. Specter ripped the GOP for refusing to be a good-faith negotiator in the health care debate:"
- Think Progress » Specter rips GOP: ‘A Party of obstructionism.’ (view on Google Sidewiki)

How Moody's sold its ratings -- and sold out investors

This needs to be investigated. It could the biggest scandal of all - bigger than Madoff. This should have been job one for the Obama administration: regulation reform on Wall St.

in reference to:

"As the housing market collapsed in late 2007, Moody's Investors Service, whose investment ratings were widely trusted, responded by purging analysts and executives who warned of trouble and promoting those who helped Wall Street plunge the country into its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

A McClatchy investigation has found that Moody's punished executives who questioned why the company was risking its reputation by putting its profits ahead of providing trustworthy ratings for investment offerings."
- How Moody's sold its ratings -- and sold out investors | McClatchy (view on Google Sidewiki)

'Meet The Press' Transcript (10-18-09): Jarrett, Kyl, Dodd, Shriver

Complete transcript. Excerpt below:

GREGORY: Good to have you here. Let's first talk about the economy, and here was a headline that played prominently this week from The Wall Street Journal: "Wall Street On Track To Award Record Pay," expanding bonus pools and raking in big profits. And yet here's a picture of what is now called the Obama economy, since he's come into office, and let's show it on the screen here. The debt is up 12 percent, it's now at $11.9 trillion. The deficit's now at $1.4 trillion. Unemployment at 9.8 percent, up 36 percent since he took office. And jobs, 4.2 million jobs lost since the president has taken office. Wall Street's healthier, but the American worker is not.

MS. JARRETT: Well, that's right. And--but I think we have to take a step back, David, and let's remember the conditions that the president inherited, a global meltdown, and we now realize that it was actually far worse than we realized at the time when he came in office in January. And what the president did is take very serious steps to get our economy back on track. He has pulled us back from the precipice and as a result of that--we were losing 700,000 jobs a month, that has decreased steadily over the course of the last nine months, and we are beginning to see signs of hope. But the unemployment rate is still much too high, and the president will not be satisfied, as he has said time and time again, until every single American who wants to work has a job.

GREGORY: But what's he prepared to do in a--what looks to be a jobless recovery, to make sure that jobs do get created to say he--the way he say he--says he wants?

MS. JARRETT: Well, first of all, first of all, he's already done a great deal. The recovery bill that was passed by Congress in record speed really staved off a disaster, and we saved millions of jobs around the country. And we're on track. We're already--we're fully on track with the recovery bill and the spending that's going forward. But we've only spent about a little less than half of the money, and so we still have a ways to go with the recovery bill. We know unemployment is a lagging indicator. We've always known that. But what we're doing is making sure that we have the process in place so that we can bring those very important jobs back.

GREGORY: But is--does there have to be a second stimulus, something done to specifically target job creation?

MS. JARRETT: Well, I think we have done many things to target job creation. I think it's too soon, it's premature to say is a second stimulus needed. There is this conundrum: You've got this huge national deficit, and we've got to do what we can to bring that down, at the same time as it's important to stimulate the economy. And the federal government has to do its part. That's why the recovery bill was so important, that's why many of the measures that the Treasury Department has taken since then, whether for housing or small business, are all very important in stimulating the economy. So let's wait and see. Let's let the recovery bill do its, do its job and then we'll see.

GREGORY: No commitment on a tax credit for employers, for instance?

MS. JARRETT: Well, every morning, as you know, the president meets with his economic advisers, and the first thing he says to them is, "What are we doing to tackle the unemployment rate?" There are a range of suggestions that are being considered right now by his economic team, and we'll see what we come forward with. We're consulting with the business community, we're consulting with everyday Americans who are struggling. We're trying to figure out what can we do to create an incentive to invest in our country and make our country strong again.

GREGORY: So, so, so the idea of some kind of additional stimulus to create jobs is on the table, fair to say?

MS. JARRETT: Everything is on the table. As you know, President Obama is always interested in what can we do to make our companies strong so that they're going to grow and invest in our country. So he's, he's willing to look at all possibilities; but he's also saying, "Let's let the recovery bill that was passed by Congress work." And we're not even halfway through that yet.

ABC 'This Week' Transcript (10-18-09): Obama Adviser David Axelrod

Complete transcript. Excerpt below:

STEPHANOPOULOS: There -- there is so much to talk about, but it's all against the backdrop of a debate that's kind of swirling through the political world right now, crystallized by the National Journal magazine. We're going to show the cover of it right there, big picture of President Obama, the question, "Is He Tough Enough?"

Inside, they quote the historian Douglas Brinkley, who says, "Obama has created an atmosphere of no fear." And a Senate Democratic aide, "Obama's style has to be more Lyndon Johnson, half I love you, but I'll stick this screwdriver right through your heart in a second if it is to my advantage."

Is that what the president needs to do? Is it time for him to get tough?

AXELROD: Well, look, George, I think, if the president weren't tough, we wouldn't be where we are vis-a-vis trying to deal with the economy, two wars, and some -- remember what he inherited here. He walked in the door, we had the worst economy since the Great Depression. He had to take immediate steps to pull us back from what many thought might be a Great Depression. He had to sort out in Afghanistan a war where we had seven years of drift and no policy. And he passed a series of things that are going to move this country forward, from children's health care to pay equity for women, a series of things.

This Congress has passed more legislation in the first term of this president than any president in our lifetime. So I think he has been plenty tough. I think people want toughness, but they also want to have thoughtful leadership. And that -- and that requires reviewing these issues, thinking them through clearly, and bringing people along, and that's what he's doing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So -- so you reject this argument that he has to draw more lines in the sand, twist the arms of his opponents, now tell people want he wants and expect it to get it done?

AXELROD: Let's take the issue of health care, because that's, obviously, one of the things that people are referring to. We are farther along than we've ever been in passing a comprehensive health insurance reform in this country. It's something we've discussed for 100 years.

George, you were part of the last effort in 1994, never even got a vote. We are on the doorstep of getting that done, and that's because of the approach this president has taken.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And yesterday, the president in his radio address took on the insurance industry, at least rhetorically, and he suggested that he might be willing to take away their antitrust exemption. Was he actually saying -- this has been -- the insurance industry for the last 60 years has had an antitrust exemption. Was he saying that he would sign a bill that would take that away and open the door to premium caps by the Congress?

AXELROD: Well, Congress is -- is reviewing that. He said it's appropriate that they review that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Would he sign it, though?

AXELROD: But let's talk about -- let's talk about the insurance industry for a second, because most of the stakeholders in this health care debate are at the table, they're trying to produce real reform, because everyone knows the current system is unsustainable.

The insurance industry has decided now at the 11th hour that they don't want to go along with this. One of the problems we have is we have a health care system now that functions very well for the insurance industry but not well for the customers.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So is he saying, if they don't play ball, they're going to lose their antitrust exemption?

AXELROD: So what we need -- what we -- so we need these -- we need these reforms. In the last year -- in the last 10 years, premiums have doubled. You've seen the insurance companies take -- they -- they -- 10 years ago, 15 years ago, they spent 95 percent of their premiums on health care. Now, 80 percent. More of the money is going to bonuses, salaries, administrative costs.

This is -- this is not a sustainable path for this country. So we need reform, and that's what he is arguing for.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if they don't join the reform effort, will they lose their antitrust exemption?

AXELROD: Well, we'll see what Congress -- we'll see what Congress does. One thing we ought to do, the House bill has in it provisions that -- that says that if they fall below a certain level of return of these medical loss ratios -- in other words, the amount of money that they spend on actual health care, that they -- they need to rebate some of that money to consumers. That seems like a good idea.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the president wants to throw out this idea of taking away the antitrust exemption, but not willing to say today that he would sign it if Congress passes it?

AXELROD: Well, let's see how that -- let's see how that -- that goes.

Palin Speaks - Criticizes Baucus Health Bill

If you care read on. At least

in reference to:

""It attempts to offset the costs this will impose on insurance companies by requiring everyone to purchase coverage, which in theory would expand the pool of paying policy holders," Palin wrote. "However, the maximum fine for those who refuse to purchase health insurance is $750. Even factoring in government subsidies, the cost of purchasing a plan is much more than $750."

"The result: many people, especially the young and healthy, will simply not buy coverage, choosing to pay the fine instead," the former Alaska governor continued. "They’ll wait until they’re sick to buy health insurance, confident in the knowledge that insurance companies can’t deny them coverage. Such a scenario is a perfect storm for increasing the cost of health care and creating an unsustainable mandate program.""
- Palin offers calm critique of Baucus bill - Andy Barr - (view on Google Sidewiki)