Archive for September 21st, 2009

Votes to Defund ACORN Are More CYA than Efficacious

Although the House and Senate have voted to de-fund the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN), Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) doesn’t think the organization will actually be defunded any time soon.

Bachmann questions how an amendment to strip the leftist activist group of federal funding attached to a larger student loan bill in the House and to a housing and transportation funding bill in the Senate will be reconciled in the two chambers. Fearing Democrats will strip the ACORN language from these bills, Bachmann is advocating a separate, stand-alone bill to end all federal funding for ACORN:

“It isn’t that I’m saying these votes won’t result in ultimately defunding ACORN, but…. Let’s make sure it’s not a CYA (cover your ass) vote. Let’s make sure that it’s a real vote to defund ACORN. Until it’s on a bill that actually has a chance of passing and that the president is going to sign, this allegedly criminal enterprise is going to continue.”

ACORN chief executive Bertha Lewis announced on Wednesday that the organization will conduct its own internal investigation and work with its advisory council, which includes prominent Brother O supporters, such as John Podesta, president of the leftist think tank Center for American Progress, and Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), to name an independent auditor and investigator.

Bachman and other Republicans are out front calling for more investigations into ACORN, which has been a strong supporter of Brother O and other Progressive Democrats.

If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid really want to defund ACORN, they “could have done it yesterday.…CYA votes mean nothing” if they don’t actually defund ACORN, Bachmann said.

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Here’s your ‘demonstration project,’ Mr. President — it’s called Mississippi

Since passing tort reform in 2004, the number of medical malpractice claims have plummeted by 91 percent from its peak, and the state’s largest medical liability insurer dropped its premiums by 42 percent, and has offered an additional 20 percent rebate each year since tort reform went into effect, says Mississippi’s Republican, governor, Haley Barbour.

In a speech at the Heritage Foundation on September 18, Barbour said that Brother O’s health care proposal offered only token “demonstration projects” on lawsuit abuse rather than meaningful reform:

“It’s mysterious to me that the administration and the leadership of Congress talk about health care reform and the goal of reducing costs, and yet refuse to put tort reform into the legislation. I believe $200, $250 billion a year in health care costs is caused by litigation. It may be more than that. But this is the lowest hanging fruit, this ain’t rocket science. If they want a demonstration project, come down to Mississippi, and I’ll show you a demonstration project.”

Barbour said Mississippi’s legal situation was particularly bad when he came into office:

“When I ran for governor in 2003, for the third consecutive year the U.S. Chamber rated Mississippi the worst state in the country for lawsuit abuse — a judicial hell-hole. And the reason they rated us that way is because we were. The state was overrun by out-of-state plaintiffs shopping for generous venues, some of which rarely if ever ruled for defendants.”

Mississippi’s new laws:

  • Changed rules of venue, to prevent abusive court-shopping.
  • Dropped the rule of “joint and several liability.”
  • Protect innocent landowners and sellers of products.
  • Capped punitive damages, with a sliding scale based on the size of the defendant corporation.
  • Capped non-economic damages, particularly to deal with medical malpractice liability.

Tort reform made Mississippi liveable for small business and for doctors and hospitals. Plaintiffs still have the right to sue and recover damages, and trial lawyers can still make a living—just not at the previous, exorbitant level, Barbour said.

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Dodge Ain’t Just a Car from Detroit

ACORN’s chief organizer Bertha Lewis dodged repeated requests to testify before Congress about her group’s finances and political ties.

Representative Darrell Issa, R-Calif., ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, challenged Lewis to provide full disclosure to Congress on the “firewalls” in place to prove that taxpayer dollars are not going toward political activities.

“You shouldn’t get another penny of federal dollars until you demonstrate that those dollars are firewalled for only that use, and that has not been the history of the organization,” Issa said on FOX News Sunday.

Lewis countered that her organization has “firewalls” to prevent non-political money from going toward political purposes, but she ignored Issa’s request to come before his committee.

When the ACORN controversy first erupted, Lewis said that racist conservatives were out to destroy the group. She also claimed the tapes were “doctored” and threatened to sue FOX News for showing the tapes.

She accused filmmaker O’Keefe for conducting similar “scams” in other ACORN locations that had failed; however, O’Keefe released more tapes from several locations across the country showing ACORN workers giving advice to the undercover reporters posing as a pimp and prostitute.

Now Lewis is backing away from her racist/scam accusations and pledges to conduct an internal review and to halt much of the group’s community activity.

When pressed whether she would open her books to Congress, Lewis sidestepped the question and said, “I am willing to do the work that I need to do every single day, not be distracted, make sure that things that we do well we beef up, and things that we don’t do so well that we change and we reform.”

Issa rejects ACORN’s plan to conduct its own investigation of its offices and workers. “The bottom line is there’s no transparency in ACORN,” Issa said.

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Democrat Lawmaker Tried to Fund ACORN while Wife Was Its Lobbyist

In 2007, Representative Scott Randolph (D-Orlando) sought $50,000 in state funding for the Central Florida ACORN Institute Financial Justice Center at the same time his wife worked as a lobbyist for the organization.

Randolph, a lawyer elected in 2006, scoffed at the suggestion of impropriety and denied a conflict of interest, saying ”She didn’t even come up to Tallahassee that much. I don’t find anything wrong with that.”

His wife now works for U.S. Representative Alan Grayson, D-Orlando.

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The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight

 By Harris R. Sherline

If there was ever a “gang that couldn’t shoot straight,” it’s the Obama administration. 

Following are some of the more misguided, ineffective and/or egregious actions that the president and his administration have taken to date:

In what may turn out to be the most misguided action of many, Obama’s signing of an Executive Order to close Gitmo within one year is proving to be an example of a tendency to shoot from the hip, without thinking his policies through.

Immediately upon taking office, Obama launched into a reckless spending spree amounting to trillions of dollars, and by the administration’s own estimate the total projected ten-year budget deficit will be approximately $9 trillion.

One of the more amazing aspects of Obama’s seizing control of General Motors and Chrysler was the little noted fact that the person the administration put in charge of managing this complex assignment was an unknown 31-year-old staff member who had no experience at all, none, not just in business but in any other type of enterprise, such as government or the non-profit field.

Two recent examples of the administration’s misplaced priorities reveal an attitude that’s hard to fathom.  We can’t drill for oil anywhere in America or in our own coastal waters, but The Wall Street Journal has reported that we have agreed to “lend $2 billion to Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras, to finance oil exploration off the country’s coast near Rio de Janeiro.”   So, we can buy oil from Brazil but we will not permit drilling off the coast of Florida, while the Chinese and the Russians have both made deals with Cuba to drill in Cuban waters that are only 90 miles from the U.S., in an area that intrudes into our coastal territory.

Although the administration has paid out just 10% or 12% of the $787 billion stimulus appropriation, they have also encouraged massive expenditures for dubious results. For example, a giant utility, AEP, proposed a $670 million project with the goal of reducing the earth’s temperature by an imperceptible 0.000092 degrees Celsius over the next 85 years? 

Within days of declaring that “earmarks” would no longer be tolerated, Obama signed legislation that included almost 9,000 earmarked expenditures.

Team Obama has been notably ineffective in vetting applicants for appointment to various positions in his administration, such as approving people who were guilty of evading taxes.  Tim Geithner, Tom Daschle and Van Jones are three examples.

Other failings of the Obama administration’s policies that are too numerous to detail here include appointing czars to oversee and/or manage almost every aspect of the free market, opposing the expansion of nuclear power facilities in the U.S., closing Yucca mountain to storage of nuclear waste, responding to the financial meltdown by bailing out companies that clearly should have been allowed to fail, among others.

Obama’s assertion that he would be a “Uniter” not a “Divider” has proven to be nothing more than campaign rhetoric.  He has exhibited a tendency to take it personally when people don’t agree with him, for example, frequently referring to those who oppose his health care plan as un-American or dupes of an orchestrated assault by the Republican party.

Columnist John Stossel commented, “We can debate endlessly whether the Constitution authorizes any president to ‘overhaul’ the financial system. But I want to focus on a different matter: whether any president, with all his advisers, is capable of overseeing something as complex as the financial system. My answer is no, and it is ominous that a bright guy like Obama doesn’t know this. He thinks he must regulate the system because it is so complicated and important. In fact, those are the reasons why he cannot regulate it, and should not try.”

But, what if Obama and his gang are not really the bumblers many people think they are?  What if they are actually so smart that they have figured out how to get everything they want and turn America into their idea of a socialist paradise in spite of the strenuous, sometime violent objections of the public?  Sound crazy?

Could Obama’s plan actually be to plunge ahead with his initiatives, driving the country deeper into debt so fast in spite of public resistance, then suddenly stop and sit back, leaving us in the position of having no choice but to pay for everything on his agenda?

Americans could find themselves in the position of having to knuckle under to increased taxes that will be so high there will be little or no room for anything other than what Obama has put in place. The combination of higher income taxes, a VAT tax, carbon taxes, increased payroll taxes (to pay for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid), utility taxes, and any other type of tax Obama and his administration can dream up, could force Americans into near serfdom.

Now that’s scary.

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