Category Archives: National Politics

pamela_anderson_calls_obama_sexy.jpg

Pamela Anderson calls Obama ‘sexy’

Actress Pamela Anderson finds US President Barack Obama incredibly sexy and wants to dance with him.

“I love him. He is incredibly sexy. Everything he does is brilliant. He’s my favourite political figure. There’s a lot going on in the world and I think he’s got it together,” the dailystar.co.uk quoted her as saying.
The former Baywatch star, who is currently seen in Dancing With The Stars, insists that if she wins she will head straight to Washington and “do the fandango” with Obama.

Even though Anderson insists that she doesn’t know much about politics, she still believes she’s ready for the White House.

“If I danced with Obama and then went into office, there would be no crap,” she added.

senior_sec_staff_downloads_porn_amid_financial_crisis.jpg

Senior SEC Staff Downloads Porn Amid Financial Crisis

Yesterday, the story broke that 17 senior SEC staff members were surfing pornographic Web sites on the job while the financial industry crashed around us. As if this weren’t shocking enough, it was also revealed that at least one of the staff members was a woman. Shame on me, I suppose, for assuming it would have been only men.

The female accountant tried to access online pornography from her office laptop nearly 1,800 times in two weeks, CNN reports. She also had 600 sexually explicit images saved on her hard drive.
To say the least, this comes at an awkward time for the government. President Obama gave a speech on Thursday in New York calling for reform of the financial sector, and the Senate is currently working on a Wall Street reform bill. Plus, just last week the SEC launched an attack on Goldman Sachs, charging the investment bank with fraud.

What would lead anyone to use work time and equipment to view pornography is beyond me. It’s possibly the most embarrassing workplace faux pas imaginable. And for some reason, I am very surprised that a woman would be involved in such degradation and irresponsibility–especially after decades of effort to attain entry and equal respect in the workplace.

However, I’m resigned to admitting that since women are now half of the workforce, it simply goes to show that even in government sex scandals women are equal opportunity offenders.

john_edwards_mistress_are_sexy_pics_really_that_repulsive.jpg

John Edwards’ Mistress: Are Sexy Pics Really That “Repulsive”?

Fame, ain’t it a bitch. Rielle Hunter’s learning that the hard way. John Edwards’ baby mama is reportedly in tears today over some “repulsive” photos of her that appeared in GQ magazine.

Just to be clear, these aren’t stalkerazzi photos. The seductive mom actually posed for the Mark Seliger magazine spread, which includes a pantless pic on her daughter’s bed and the belly shot.
In light of her participation in the article–where she confesses she’s still in love with “Johnny”–are the GQ pics really that scandalous? Especially with the amount of celebrity skin we’re so used to seeing?

report_cheney_felt_bush_stopped_taking_his_advice.jpg

Report: Cheney felt Bush stopped taking his advice

WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Dick Cheney believes his old boss, President George W. Bush, gradually turned away from his advice during their second term in the White House, showing a surprising independence as he started taking more flexible positions on a range of issues, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Cheney, often described as the most influential vice president in U.S. history, has been discussing his years in office in informal talks with authors, diplomats, policy experts and past colleagues, the Post said, as he works on a memoir due out in 2011 from Simon & Schuster’s Threshold Editions.

Robert Barnett, who negotiated Cheney’s book contract, passed word to potential publishers that the memoir would be packed with news, said the article published on the Post Web site, and Cheney himself has said, without explanation, that “the statute of limitations has expired” on many of his secrets.
The book will cover Cheney’s long career from chief of staff under President Gerald Ford to vice president under Bush.

“When the president made decisions that I didn’t agree with, I still supported him and didn’t go out and undercut him,” Cheney said, according to Stephen Hayes, his authorized biographer. “Now we’re talking about after we’ve left office. I have strong feelings about what happened. … And I don’t have any reason not to forthrightly express those views.”

According to the author of the Post piece, Barton Gellman, who earlier wrote a book on Cheney called “Angler,” the former vice president believes Bush made concessions to public sentiment, something Cheney views as moral weakness. After years of praising Bush as a man of resolve, Cheney now intimates that the former president turned out to be more like an ordinary politician in the end, Gellman says.

“In the second term, he felt Bush was moving away from him,” Gellman quoted a participant in the recent gathering, describing Cheney’s reply. “He said Bush was shackled by the public reaction and the criticism he took. Bush was more malleable to that. The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him, or rather Bush had hardened against Cheney’s advice. He’d showed an independence that Cheney didn’t see coming.”

The Post quoted John P. Hannah, Cheney’s second-term national security adviser, as saying Cheney remains driven, now as before, by the possibility of terrorists obtaining nuclear weapons from a nation hostile to the U.S.

What is new, Hannah said, is Cheney’s readiness to acknowledge “doubts about the main channels of American policy during the last few years,” a period encompassing most of Bush’s second term.

amid_protests_obama_assails_insurance_companies.jpg

Amid protests, Obama assails insurance companies

PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire (Reuters) – President Barack Obama assailed insurance companies on Tuesday as he sought to counter an onslaught of conservative opposition to a U.S. healthcare overhaul at a town hall meeting that drew protests outside.

Obama opened his speech by saying Americans are too often “held hostage” by insurance companies that deny or drop their coverage or charge fees they cannot afford.

“I believe it is wrong; it is bankrupting families and businesses and that is why we’re going to pass health insurance reform in 2009,” Obama said.

Outside the event at a New Hampshire high school, about a thousand people gathered on the road leading to the school.
Healthcare overhaul advocates on one side of the street chanted “Yes, we can!” and waved signs saying, “Insurance companies are enemies of change” and “All Americans deserve affordable healthcare.”

On the other side, opponents held banners saying “Obamacare, down the chute granny” and “Hands off my healthcare.”

The president is trying to grab back the initiative on his $1 trillion-plus healthcare plan from critics who have helped stoke public anger against his top domestic priority.

“Your health insurance should be there when it counts, not just when you’re paying premiums but when you actually get sick, and it will be when we pass this plan,” Obama said to applause among the 2,000 people at the event.

The increasingly bitter debate has dragged down Obama’s once-lofty approval ratings.

The White House hoped the behavior at Obama’s meeting would be less raucous and more civil than public forums held by some Democratic members of Congress, where some in the crowd screamed and shouted to drown out the speakers.

Obama called on the crowd to allow for a vigorous debate, “but I do hope that we will talk with each other and not over each other.”

Obama’s push for healthcare reform, which seeks to provide coverage to nearly 46 million uninsured Americans, rein in rising medical costs and regulate insurers, has been assailed by Republican critics over its cost and far-reaching scope.

Republicans call it a government takeover of the $2.5 trillion healthcare system that will drive up the deficit and hurt the economy while the United States remains mired in its longest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Has Congress Overreached in Search of Comfy Air Travel?

Last year’s howls of outrage when U.S. auto executives flew to Washington on private jets to seek government bailouts may soon be repeated, now that the House of Representatives has added $330 million to the 2010 defense budget to buy four new planes for the Air Force’s VIP fleet. That’s because the planes that usually fly generals and White House officials around the globe are also being used – on 15% of their flights – to ferry lawmakers around in the kind of comfort that most Americans who endure long security lines and cramped economy cabins can only dream about.

Senators are already grousing that the additional planes are a waste of money amid a recession. “Talk about the wrong message at the wrong time,” Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri said. “While American families are tightening their belts there is no way we should be buying extra executive jets.” The anger is spreading.
“Lawmakers justifiably pilloried the auto industry CEOs for flying on corporate jets,” says Steve Ellis of the nonprofit group Taxpayers for Common Sense. “But now a few months later they are stuffing hundreds of millions into the defense budget for their own jets while the rest of America is trying to make ends meet – it doesn’t make sense.”

House members who favor acquiring the new planes argue that they’re needed replacements for aging aircraft, and will be less costly to fly. The current Gulfstream C-20 costs $6,100 an hour to operate, compared with $2,700 for the more modern Gulfstream C-37. The Air Force VIP fleet is usually reserved for work-related foreign travel, which is a double-edged sword for lawmakers. While some boast they avoid it to save taxpayers money, others argue it is needed to visit foreign leaders and conflict zones to get a firsthand look at the impact of U.S. foreign policy.

The hidden tug-of-war over these airplanes reveals just how perk-conscious lawmakers can be. In March, the nonprofit group Judicial Watch obtained e-mails from the Pentagon (under the Freedom of Information Act) written by aides to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seeking military airplanes. “It is my understanding there are NO G-5s available for the House during the Memorial Day recess,” one May 2007 message said. “This is totally unacceptable.” The Pentagon explained the planes were already booked by “White House military office taskings, the VP, Cabinet officers and multiple other executive users.” (See pictures of military aircraft.)

Mounting demand for congressional travel may help explain why the House has ordered the Pentagon to buy two more $65 million G-5s – Gulfstream V jets, known in the Air Force as C-37s – as part of the $636 billion defense budget, along with an additional pair of $70 million C-40s, the military version of the Boeing 737. “We’ve always frowned upon earmarks and additives that are above and beyond what we ask for,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said when asked about the additional planes last week. The standoff between the House and Senate won’t be resolved until lawmakers return from their August recess to iron out the conflicts in their defense bills.

The House also instructed the Air Force that two of the new planes be stationed at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside the capital. Andrews, of course, is home to Air Force One and the

Hillary Clinton: I’m secretary of state, not Bill

KINSHASA, Congo – Hillary Clinton has a message for the world: It’s not all about Bill.

The secretary of state bristled Monday when — as she heard it — a Congolese university student asked what her husband thought about an international financial matter.

She hadn’t traveled to Africa to talk about her husband the ex-president. But even there, she couldn’t escape his outsized shadow.

She abruptly reclaimed the stage for herself.

“My husband is not secretary of state, I am,” she snapped. “I am not going to be channeling my husband.”
Clinton’s presence, so bold in her historic presidential candidacy against Barack Obama, has sometimes been hard to see in the months she’s served as the supposed face and voice of U.S. foreign policy.

The president’s ambitious travels have overshadowed her, heavyweight special envoys have been assigned to the world’s critical hotspots, Vice President Joe Biden has taken on assignments abroad — and then last week her husband succeeded in a North Korean mission to free two journalists even as she landed in Africa on a seven-nation trip.

“You want me to tell you what my husband thinks?” she asked incredulously when the student raised a question about a multibillion-dollar Chinese loan offer to Congo.

“If you want my opinion, I will tell you my opinion,” she said. “I am not going to be channeling my husband.”

The moderator quickly moved on.

State Department officials said the student approached Clinton afterward and told her he had meant to ask what Obama, not Bill Clinton, thought about the Chinese loan. A senior Clinton aide said that Mrs. Clinton assured the student not to worry about it.

The student’s question, according to the State Department translation, went like this: “Thank you. Mrs. Clinton, weve all heard about the Chinese contracts in this country. The interference is from the World Bank against this contract. What does Mr. Clinton think through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton and what does Mr. Mutombo think on this situation? Thank you very much.”

It was unclear whether the French-speaking student or translator had erred. Either way, she was not pleased at the mention of her husband’s name.

The Clintons have always been a complicated couple. An accomplished lawyer and politician in her own right, Hillary Rodham Clinton has struggled for decades to balance her interests and ambitions against his. She has supported his career while looking to blaze a trail of her own — at times proud of, and benefiting from, her husband’s accomplishments, and at other times frustrated by his failings and his habit of overshadowing her, friends say.

The biggest controversy of Bill Clinton’s career — an affair with a White House intern that led to impeachment proceedings — engendered rare sympathy for his wife and helped her win a Senate seat. One of his biggest political miscues — injecting race into her South Carolina primary with Obama — helped seal her defeat in the 2008 Democratic primary.

Since his presidency, Bill Clinton has spoken out about international financial and development aid to poor countries, one focus of his foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative, making his opinion of interest abroad. But the stage in Kinshasa was his wife’s, and she reacted instantly to a suggestion that he shared it.

She had been sidelined for weeks after she fell on her way to the White House in June and fractured her elbow, requiring surgery. Her aides acknowledged her frustrations stemming from the injury, which made her miss out on going to Russia with Obama and attending several European conferences.

But her aides and those in the White House have denied any rift or attempt to marginalize her.

After returning to action following her injury, Clinton made a round of TV appearances and a rousing speech — all in tune with Obama’s priorities, but in her own voice.

She then resumed her frenetic pace, traveling to India and Thailand and then to Africa.

Hours after she left Washington for Africa a week ago, news broke that Bill Clinton had gone on a humanitarian mission to North Korea to win the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, two television journalists who had been arrested and sentenced to 12 years at hard labor.

She arrived in Kenya to find herself peppered with questions about his secret mission.

Clinton quickly recovered her cool Monday and moved on to other subjects. Just before the question that set off her anger, another student had asked if the U.S. and the West felt a need to apologize to the people of Congo for colonialism and postcolonial interference.

That brought a pointed rebuttal as well.

“I cannot excuse the past and I will not try,” she said. “We can either think about the past and be imprisoned by it or we can decide we’re going to have a better future and work to make it.”

Drug industry helping Obama overhaul health care

WASHINGTON – The nation’s drugmakers stand ready to spend $150 million to help President Barack Obama overhaul health care this fall, according to numerous officials, a staggering sum that could dwarf attempts to derail Obama’s top domestic priority.

The White House and allies in Congress are well aware of the effort by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a somewhat surprising political alliance, given the drug industry’s recent history of siding with Republicans and the Democrats’ disdain for special interests.

The campaign, now in its early stages, includes television advertising under PhRMA’s own name and commercials aired in conjunction with the liberal group, Families USA.

Numerous people with knowledge of PhRMA’s plans said they had been told it would likely reach $150 million and perhaps $200 million. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to divulge details.
Additionally, the industry is the major contributor to Healthy Economy Now, which recently completed a $12 million round of advertising nationally and in several states. The ads were made by firms with close ties to Democrats and the White House and generally reflected the administration’s changing rhetoric on health care.

In an interview, Ken Johnson, senior vice president of PhRMA, said, “We will have a significant presence over the August recess, both on television and newspapers and on radio, but we have not finalized details for our fall campaign.”

Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said the partnership with the deep-pocketed drug industry is one of mutual self-interest, even though the two groups disagree on numerous issues. “We want to achieve coverage for everyone. For PhRMA, this would improve volume for prescription sales because everyone” would have better access to medicine, he said.

Any health care bill that makes it to Obama’s desk is expected to extend health insurance to the nearly 50 million who now lack it. That would mean a huge new pool of potential customers for drug companies and other health care providers. That, in turn, has created an incentive to offer concessions to the White House and lawmakers in hopes of shaping the bill, rather than simply opposing it.

Drugmakers were the first group to reach agreement with the White House and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., announcing several weeks ago that they would absorb $80 billion in costs over a decade.

Even before the announcement, according to several individuals, the White House sought help from PhRMA in passing legislation.

Now, with the legislation under attack, the industry is providing key support during August as Republicans work to inflict a high-profile defeat on the president.

A significantly more ambitious advertising effort by PhRMA is expected to begin around Labor Day.

Jim Messina, a deputy White House chief of staff who is deeply involved in the administration’s health care effort, brought Democratic senators up to date recently on the help PhRMA, labor unions and other outside groups are providing.

At the same time, the drugmakers are counting on the White House to block efforts by House Democrats to extract more than $80 billion from their industry in the legislation.

The partnership is complicated because many Democrats in both the House and Senate oppose key goals of the drug industry. Liberals, in particular, favor the importation of prescription medicine from Canada and other countries. They also want the government to have authority to negotiate directly with companies for lower drug prices under Medicare.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been critical of drug manufacturers, and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said several weeks ago the House was not bound by PhRMA and Baucus’ agreement.

By the White House tally, overall advertising so far by PhRMA and other supporters of the bill has swamped efforts by opponents. Republican strategists concede it would be extremely difficult to match an effort of the size PhRMA is planning.

For comparative purposes, 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain was limited to spending $84 million a year ago when he accepted government funding for his fall campaign.

Independent calculations show Healthy Economy Now has spent about $12 million on three ads that ran nationally and in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

The messages meshed with the White House’s changing rhetoric. An ad that began in mid-June said patients would be able to choose their own doctors. Another, launched in mid-July, focused on consumer protections, including a ban on insurance companies denying coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions.

To make the ads, the group hired GMMB, a political consulting and advocacy advertising firm with close ties to the White House and Senate Democrats, as well as AKPD, top White House strategist David Axelrod’s former firm.

Jeremy Van Ess, a spokesman for Health Economy Now, said the decisions were made by the organization, and not at the White House’s request.

“Absolutely not. … It’s no secret in Washington that these two firms we had are the best out there,” he said.

PhRMA/Families USA spent about $5.7 million in nationwide advertising for the two months ending Aug. 9, according to information compiled by a different organization.

Two weeks ago, the drug industry added another weapon to its arsenal, launching a series of ads under its own name in a few key states at a cost of about $1 million so far.

Among them is Nevada, where the industry has purchased time through Labor Day to air commercials thanking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his efforts to pass health care reform. Reid’s public approval is weak in the state, although he does not yet have a Republican opponent for 2010.

While the White House and Democrats benefit from PhRMA’s help, they seem reluctant to discuss it openly.

When PhRMA became the first big health care provider to agree to accept reductions as part of legislation, Obama made the announcement at the White House with the head of AARP in attendance. Billy Tauzin, the former Republican congressman who is head of PhRMA, was not invited.

More recently, Reid omitted the drugmakers from a list of outside interests trying to help pass legislation.

The drug industry’s campaign is the culmination of a broader shift it has undertaken. A few years ago, the industry hired Steve McMahon, a longtime Democratic strategist, to oversee its political advertising.

Drugmakers have also funneled more money to Democrats in recent years, a trend that began soon after they gained control of Congress.

palin_says_obamas_health_care_plan_is_evil.jpg

Palin says Obama’s health care plan is ‘evil’

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – In her first communication since leaving office, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin described in an Internet posting Friday that President Barack Obama’s plan to overhaul the health care system was evil.

“Who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course,” the former vice Republican presidential candidate wrote on her Facebook page.

“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil,” Palin wrote.
An e-mail sent to Palin’s spokeswoman to confirm authorship was not immediately returned Friday.

Obama, a Democrat, campaigned on a promise of offering affordable health care to all Americans, as the United States is the only developed nation that does not have a comprehensive national health care plan for all its citizens.

He has proposed a system that would include government and private insurers. Republicans say that private insurers would be unable to compete, leaving the country with only a government-run health program. They warn that could leave Americans with little control over their health care.

Republican criticism has included claims that the reform plans will lead to rationing, or the government determining which medical procedures a patient can have. However, millions of Americans already face rationing, as insurance companies rule on procedures they will cover.

Denying coverage for certain procedures might increase under proposals to have a government-appointed agency identify medicines and procedures best suited for various conditions.

Denying coverage for certain procedures might increase under proposals to have a government-appointed agency identify medicines and procedures best suited for various conditions.

In the posting, Palin encouraged her supporters to be engaged in the debate. “Nationalizing our health care system is a point of no return for government interference in the lives of its citizens. If we go down this path, there will be no turning back,” Palin wrote.

“Let’s stop and think and make our voices heard before it’s too late,” the posting said.

Palin resigned as Alaska governor on July 26 with nearly 18 months left in her term. She cited not only the numerous ethics complaints that had been filed against her also her wish not to be a lame duck after the first-term governor decided not to seek re-election next year.

Palin, popular with conservatives in the Republican party, has said she wants to build a right-of-center coalition, and there is speculation she will seek the presidency in 2012. In the two weeks since she resigned, Palin has made only one public appearance, giving a Second Amendment rights speech last Saturday before a gun owners group in Anchorage.

Palin also has been largely silent before Friday’s post. She was a voracious user of the social networking site Twitter, and promised to keep her supporters updated with a new private account after she left office. But that hasn’t happened, leaving some of her fans begging for updates in the past two weeks.

john_quincy_adams_twitterer.jpg

John Quincy Adams, Twitterer?

BOSTON — John Quincy Adams, president, statesman — and Twitterer?

They may be two centuries old, but, written with staccato-like brevity, entries from one of Adams’s diaries resemble tweets sufficiently that they began appearing Wednesday on Twitter.

The Massachusetts Historical Society, under the Twitter tag JQAdams_MHS, is posting the entries, from a diary Adams started writing the day he left Boston for St. Petersburg to serve as minister, or ambassador, to Russia.
That day was Aug. 5, 1809, and the society chose Wednesday, precisely 200 years later, to post the daily entry from it. Thursday’s posting will be from Aug. 6, 1809, Friday’s from Aug. 7, and so on, at least until year’s end.

The diary, which Adams maintained until April 1836, is a rarity among the many he kept, in that the description for each day is no more than one line long. Historians believe he used the descriptions as references to longer entries in other journals.

Jeremy B. Dibbell, an assistant reference librarian at the society, said a graduate student at Simmons College here saw the diary a few months ago in the society’s archives and thought it looked like a Twitter feed, though written in Adams’s meticulous script and bound in leather.

Word spread, and the society decided to tweet the entries. They average 110 to 120 characters, below the 140-character limit imposed by Twitter, and there is nary an LOL or BFF among them.

Like most Twitter feeds, Adams’s will chronicle the substantial, including his arrival in St. Petersburg, and the mundane: the diary makes many references to weather, seasickness and card-playing, for example, on the voyage across the Atlantic.

The posts will link to maps that, using the latitude and longitude coordinates from his entries, pinpoint his progress across the ocean. There will also be links to the longer entries of other Adams diaries, which can be found on the society’s Web site, http://www.masshist.org/jqadiaries/.

Mr. Dibbell said the society would tweet this diary through the end of the year and then decide whether to continue with it. The society’s goal is for the tweets to open the door to a historical collection many people might otherwise never come upon.

“We want to get it out there to the technophile generation,” Mr. Dibbell said. “We want a wider range and new audience to see the diaries.”

The idea appears to be working. As of Wednesday evening, only nine hours after the first entry was Twittered, the post had more than 4,800 followers, and Mr. Dibbell said the number was climbing.