Thursday, July 28, 2011

Debt Ceiling Betrayal Imminent!

Dear Concerned American,

With the White House determined to tack on TRILLIONS more to our national debt, I need your IMMEDIATE help to send a critical message to the Republican congressional leadership.

"Lead - or get out of the way!"

The sad fact is, right now, Republican leaders can't make up their minds as to whether they want to lead or cut a backroom deal with President Obama.

What you and I need is someone who stands for conviction over compromise.  I have spent my entire career standing up for what I believe in, even if it meant standing alone.  Conviction and leadership go hand in hand.  If you don't know where you want to end up, it's virtually impossible to lead.  That's the problem Republican leaders in Washington have right now.

But you and I can help them make up their minds.

The Republican congressional leadership is susceptible to our pressure - good old-fashioned grassroots pressure.

That's why I need your help to DEMAND Republican leaders show some backbone and loudly say "No!" to any business as usual, status quo-empowering compromises to raise the debt ceiling.

The current debate is filled with talk of fake cuts, budget gimmicks, and political stunts that both parties use to try to lay blame on each other without solving the problem.

That's why we need to act TODAY.

Without your help, I'm afraid you and I will get sold down the river - and President Obama could put the Tea Party on life support.

Even as I write you, rumors are swirling fast and furious.

News reports are that Speaker Boehner is trying to ram through a deal to raise the debt ceiling by $900 billion with no real spending cuts.

This is NOT what the American people overwhelmingly elected Republicans to do in 2010.

So if the Republican leadership shrinks from this fight, they'll pay the price for this BETRAYAL at the ballot box in 2010.

That's why it's vital you urge your representative and senators to pledge to stand up and oppose backroom, business as usual deals from Speaker Boehner to raise the debt ceiling.

The good news is, your IMMEDIATE action will make an enormous impact.  The establishment is in full crisis mode.  They see their gravy train of deficit spending and pork barrel politics in jeopardy.  They see Wall Street fat cats in a full-blown panic.

They're bringing out the usual suspects to scare everyone - Geithner, Bernanke, and even Bush-era Treasury officials are being brought into secret congressional briefings to try to scare your representative and senators.  In fact, this is eerily reminiscent of something . . .

The 2008 bank bailouts.

The Republican establishment lining up to make a deal because they just don't have the backbone to fight.

The White House promising certain doom if it doesn't get its way.

Well, I fought the leadership of BOTH parties in 2008 when they bailed out Wall Street.

And I'm still fighting them today.

And I'm the only one who can stop this Washington machine because I'm not beholden to it.

But I can't win this fight without you.

I know millions of Americans share my belief that it's time to stop selling our children's futures to finance more debt.  So Congress needs to hear from each of them that they are ready to fight for fiscal responsibility.

If you have not yet done so, please sign the No Debt Ceiling Deal PETITION today.  After you sign the petition, please follow up with your representative and senators by calling their offices today.  And be sure to spread it through email and your social networks.

Don't let the Republican leadership cave in.  Together, you and I can FORCE them to fight.

For Liberty,
Ron Paul

P.S.   It's up to you and me to FORCE the Republican leadership to show some backbone.  If you haven't signed the No Debt Ceiling Deal petition yet, please SIGN THE PETITION HERE.

We can stop Congress from selling us down the river and enabling President Obama to put the Tea Party on life support.  But only if we take action immediately!

VIDEO: RNC Launches Fourth ‘Change Direction’ Television Ad, Hispanic Radio Spot In Florida

By Matt Sauvage

WASHINGTON-The Republican National Committee (RNC) released the final television ad today in its month-long “Change Direction” economic messaging campaign drawing attention to President Obama’s failure to lead on the economy and reduce spending. The ad paints a stark picture of what the American economy could look like after 8 years of President Obama’s destructive leadership. It is becoming painfully obvious that four more years of record unemployment and record debt will result in an unrecognizable and greatly diminished United States of America.

The RNC is taking the fight to the president, airing the ad in key battleground states where he is vulnerable: Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Ohio and Iowa – all states he won in 2008 but will struggle to defend in 2012. A Spanish radio spot will accompany the television buy in Florida.   The radio ad in Spanish can be heard here

“We know that President Obama has failed to lead our economy back to recovery and people in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Ohio and Iowa are all well aware of his abysmal record,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. “These are states Obama carried in 2008 that he must hold in 2012. The risk of continuing Barack Obama’s failed stewardship of our economy is too great. The American people know it’s time to change direction away from his out-of-control spending and high unemployment to get this economy on a path to prosperity.”

Video was included in original press release

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Calls on GOP Presidential Candidates to Release Names of Major Fundraisers

By DNC Press

Today, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz held a press conference call urging GOP presidential candidates to release the names of their major donors. President Obama recently released a list of the major fundraisers- or bundlers as they’re commonly called- for his re-election campaign. He also took this step in 2008. Releasing these names is not required by the FEC, but President Obama has always believed this is a critical step in making campaigns more transparent and accountable.

In letters sent to Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus last week and again earlier this week, Chair Wasserman Schultz called on the RNC to follow suit and to call on Republican presidential candidates to forego donations from PACs and lobbyists as the DNC has done and to release the names of their major fundraisers as President Obama has done. Chair Priebus has not responded to this request, and no Republican presidential candidates have released the names of their bundlers. On the call, Chair Wasserman Schultz said:

Both President Bush and Senator John McCain disclosed their presidential campaigns’ major donors when running for President. Unfortunately, none of today’s Republican candidates have followed suit – not a single candidate in the GOP field has followed the lead of Senator McCain, former-President Bush and President Barack Obama in releasing lists of their own major donors.

If the Republican candidates for president aren’t forthcoming about exactly who is helping them to get elected, how can we know for sure whom they’ll be working for? How do we know that those same major donors won’t be calling in favors if their candidate wins election to the White House?

In the interest of transparency and accountability, each of the Republican candidates for president should release the lists of their major fundraisers so the American people can judge for themselves the intentions of those fundraisers and the intentions of the Republican candidates.

Green Party 2011 Annual National Meeting

The Green Party's 2011 Annual National Meeting will feature Green candidates from New York and other states, as well as anti-hydrofracking leaders and other Green activists

The meeting will take place August 5-7 at Green Fest in Alfred, western New York; Greens will begin planning for the 2012 elections, including the presidential race; Elizabeth May, Canadian Green member of Parliament, and economist David C. Korten to speak via Skype

Theme of the meeting: "Building a Green Economy -- No War. No Coal. No Gas. No Nukes."

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Green Party of the United States will feature an array of candidates and guest speakers at its 2011 Annual National Meeting at Alfred University in Alfred in western New York, from Friday, August 5 to Sunday, August 7.

The meeting will take place at the fourth biennial New York Green Fest, "a gathering of folks interested in exploring the politics and practices that will help enable us to live in a sustainable world, and sharing a weekend of good discussions, good food, and good music" (

Among the speakers will be leaders in the campaign to ban hydrofracking (hydraulic fracturing), an environmentally destructive and dangerous technique for accessing gas in the Marcellus Shale beneath Pennsylvania, New York, and other states (see and David Cobb, 2004 Green nominee for President, will speak on the need to abolish corporate 'personhood' and restrict the political power of corporations (see

Elizabeth May, Canada's first elected Green Party member of Parliament, will speak to Greens at the meeting by Skype. David C. Korten, economist, co-founder and board chair of YES! Magazine, and author of 'When Corporations Rule the World' and other books (, will also address the meeting by Skype.

"There are many people throughout the US, including Green elected officials and community activists, who are thinking, talking, planning, and working for a sustainable energy economy despite lack of broader government engagement," said Peter LaVenia, co-chair of the Green Party of New York State ( "Many of them will be coming to the meeting in Alfred or will speak to meeting participants via Skype. Alfred is the perfect place for Green Fest ("

Several Green candidates from New York and other states will attend the meeting, speak at press conferences, and be available for interview. At least one candidate for the Green presidential nomination, Kent Mesplay, will be present. A preliminary list of candidates who plan to attend the meeting is appended below.

David Doonan, Green Party member and mayor of Greenwich, New York, will also be at the meeting.

For a list of presenters and other speakers at the meeting, with short bios, visit:

For a draft schedule of panels and forums, see

Green Party leaders at the meeting will begin organizing for the 2012 election season, including the presidential race. The party will nominate a candidate for the White House at its 2012 national convention. The 2011 meeting in Alfred will also feature Green Party panels, workshops, meetings of the Green National Committee, and other events.

The meeting is open to the media and public. Press conferences will feature Green candidates for public office from across the US, with a special press conference on Friday, August 6, for women candidates hosted by the party's Women Caucus ( Journalists are encouraged to register ahead of time, at the Green Party's media credentialing page ( Registration for media will also take place on site during the meeting.

Alfred is about 80 miles from Rochester and 90 miles from Buffalo. For directions to Alfred University and Green Fest, see:

GREEN CANDIDATES at the Green Party's 2011 Annual National Meeting

Mike Bernhard, for Town Board member in Afton, New York.

Audrey Clement, for Arlington County Board, Virginia, in the 2011 general election ( Ms. Clement is a member of the Green Party's national steering committee.

Joe Duffy, for Alderman in Hornell, New York. Mr. Duffy is chair of the Steuben County Green Party.

Howie Hawkins for Common Councillor of Syracuse, New York. The Green Party of New York State regained ballot status in 2010 as a result of Mr. Hawkin's Green campaign for Governor.

Cheri Honkala, for Sheriff of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ( in the 2011 general election. Ms. Honkala founded the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and the national Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign. She was included in Philadelphia Magazine's list of 100 Most Powerful Philadelphians and was named Philadelphia Weekly's "Woman of the Year" in 1997.

Cecile Lawrence, candidate for the Tioga County Legislature (District 3), New York, , in the 2011 general election. Ms. Lawrence, who will conduct a workshop at the meeting, was the Green Party's candidate for US Senate from New York in 2010. A member of Tioga Peace and Justice, she testified at hearings towards the passage of the New York State Managed Care Bill of Rights.

Kent Mesplay, candidate for the Green Party's nomination for President ( Dr. Mesplay also sought the nomination in 2008.

Anita Rios, candidate for City Council in Toledo (District 4), Ohio, in the 2011 general election. Ms. Rios ran for Lieutenant Governor of Ohio in 2006 and 2010 and is former of the Green Party's national steering committee.

Jay Sweeney, for Supervisor in Falls Township, Pennsylvania, in the 2011 general election ( Mr. Sweeney currently serves as Auditor in Falls Township.

In Case You Missed It: Dems Hitting The Panic Button Over Losing Latinos

By Michael Short

The Daily Caller: “Look no further than Barack Obama’s Monday speech at the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza, one of the nation’s largest Hispanic advocacy groups. After being chided a week before by the organization’s leader, the President offered hints of support for immigration reform, but was clear about one thing: ‘The Democrats and your president are with you, don’t get confused about that.’ …

“Apart from the GOP, there is another group that may disagree with the confident statements of Democrats: Latino voters themselves …

“’The DNC leadership and their spokespeople can say whatever they want about Latinos but the reality is Latino organizations are not happy with Obama,’ Bettina Inclan, a Republican political strategist who blogs extensively on conservative Latino issues, told The Daily Caller. ‘You have the National Council of La Raza saying that Democrats have to woo Latinos more because they realize the broken promises and the horrible economy they’re facing. … I think these political people have to take their head out of the sand and realize what’s going on and the reality is that, the Hispanic vote, the Latino vote, is up for grabs’ …

“The number of Hispanic Democratic officeholders has decreased by about 2 percent since 2006, while it’s jumped to 22.5 percent for Hispanic Republicans, according to NPR. Thanks to the 210 midterm elections, state-level elected Hispanic Republicans now outnumber corresponding Democrats by a 5-to-3 margin …

“’This ad is a desperate attempt by Democrats to save face in light of the GOP’s successful messaging within the Hispanic community,’ said RNC spokeswoman Victoria Martinez, who continued: ‘Voters, especially Hispanic voters, know that they cannot afford four more years of President Obama’ …

“‘I think what’s going to happen more during this election cycle, everyone is going to be talking about the economy. Is immigration a concern? Yeah, but I think one of the biggest problems with immigrations  goes back to Obama’s broken promises,’ said Inclan …”

McClatchy Newspapers: “President Barack Obama promised a Hispanic group Monday that he'd continue to push for a sweeping immigration overhaul even as he acknowledged frustration that he's failed to deliver on his promises.

“Obama noted that he'd pledged during his 2008 campaign to ‘work tirelessly to fix our broken immigration system and make the Dream Act a reality’ so that the undocumented children of illegal immigrants could stay in the U.S. and study …

“La Raza president Janet Murguia said … she and conference attendees acknowledged frustration with the administration …”

Source: RNC Press Release

Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Republicans Becoming More Extreme and Intransigent in Debt Fight

By DNC Press

Today, Speaker John Boehner said in an interview that “a lot” of House Republicans are hoping to create chaos by allowing the United States to default on its debt for the first time in history, and he revealed his strategy for passing his deficit reduction legislation as convincing his caucus that because “Barack Obama hates it,” “Harry Reid hates it,” and “Nancy Pelosi hates it,” they should like it. In response, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement:

“With none other than the Speaker of the House admitting that there are members of his own caucus who are striving to create chaos by bringing about an unprecedented default, and with the Speaker’s own partisan appeals to his caucus, it’s clear that the Republican Party is veering away from compromise. The deadline for default is now just a few days away, but as the sand runs out, Republicans are, if anything, becoming more extreme and intractable in their approach to deficit reduction, not less. While Democrats are and have for months been open to bipartisan compromise, Republicans have become more partisan and dug in at the very time that two sides must come together for the good of the country. While the country needs us to work together to find a way forward to get our fiscal house in order and avoid default, Republicans are literally rowing backwards.

Indeed, Speaker Boehner is now marketing his own plan to House Republicans in the most partisan way imaginable. In the Speaker’s words, if President Obama ‘hates it’ then Republicans should support it. If John Boehner ever expects to arrive at a plan that both sides can agree on before the clock strikes Midnight on August 2nd, he’ll have to lead his party in toning done the partisanship, not in inflaming it.

If the debt ceiling isn’t raised by August 2, America will default on its debts for the first time in history. This would risk a downgrade in our credit rating and could cause interest rates on student loans and home loans to rise. We won’t have the money to pay all of our bills and that could include essential functions like disbursing monthly Social Security checks, paying for veterans’ benefits, and living up to the contracts our government has signed with thousands of businesses.

This is not a game – partisan or otherwise. This is very serious business for the financial health of our nation and its people. It’s time Republicans started treating it that way.”

Boehner Trying To Convince His Caucus To Support His Plan: ‘Barack Obama Hates It, Harry Reid Hates It, Nancy Pelosi Hates It.” “But Boehner said he couldn't understand why any Republicans would position themselves with Democrats opposing his plan. ‘Barack Obama hates it, [Sen.] Harry Reid hates it, [Rep.] Nancy Pelosi hates it,’ he said, naming off the Democratic leadership.” [The Hill, 7/27/11]

Boehner: “A Lot” Of Republicans Want To Go Past August 2 And “Have Enough Chaos” To “Force The Senate And The White House To Accept A Balanced Budget Amendment.” On Laura Ingraham’s radio show, Speaker Boehner talked about what House Republicans were looking for in a debt deal. “Well, first they want more. And my goodness, I want more too. And secondly, a lot of them believe that if we get past August the second and we have enough chaos, we could force the Senate and the White House to accept a balanced budget amendment. I’m not sure that that — I don’t think that that strategy works. Because I think the closer we get to August the second, frankly, the less leverage we have vis a vis our colleagues in the Senate and the White House.” [Think Progress, 7/27/11]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Libertarians say 'no' to raising debt limit

WASHINGTON - As Republicans and Democrats in Washington continue chewing the scenery in their 'Debt Limit Theater,' Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle released the following statement today:

"Everything I've heard from Washington politicians about the debt limit is nonsense. I propose the simplest option: Do nothing. Don't raise the debt limit, period.

"None of the deals I've heard would do anything to cut federal spending. Some reduce the rate of growth a little bit, but I'm afraid that doesn't count.

"And of course, some of the proposals would increase taxes, which Libertarians are totally opposed to.

"The best outcome would be no deal at all. If the debt limit is not raised, then the federal government will have to cut its spending by over 40%. That would be the best outcome for the future of America, and it's certainly the preferred outcome for Libertarians. (It reminds me of the World's Smallest Political Quiz, produced by the Advocates for Self-Government, which includes the libertarian option to 'Cut taxes and government spending by 50% or more.')

"I'm actually shocked at how resistant both the Republicans and Democrats are to making cuts. I wasn't expecting much, but their proposals are downright embarrassing.

"For example, consider Speaker Boehner's plan. According to the Cato Institute, the Boehner plan doesn't cut spending. It just sets the spending increases slightly below the imaginary Congressional Budget Office (CBO) 'baseline.'

"According to the CBO report released yesterday, the Boehner plan has practically no effect on the deficit in 2012, the only year that really matters. In fact, the Boehner plan actually increases Pell Grant spending by $4 billion in 2012. (So does the Reid plan in the Senate.)

"Of course, the Reid plan largely takes advantage of massive errors in the CBO baseline to claim 'cuts.' (For example, the CBO predicts absurdly high levels of spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

"As usual, Republicans and Democrats are trying to create the illusion of a high-stakes game between two vastly different visions. In fact, their visions are practically identical. I hope Americans will see through all the smoke, and consider the Libertarian option to make real reductions in the size and scope of government, across the board."

For more information, or to arrange an interview, call LP Executive Director Wes Benedict at 202-333-0008 ext. 222.

The LP is America's third-largest political party, founded in 1971. The Libertarian Party stands for free markets, civil liberties, and peace. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party at our website.

P.S. If you have not already done so, please join the Libertarian Party. We are the only political party dedicated to free markets, civil liberties, and peace. You can also renew your membership. Or, you can make a contribution separate from membership.

Attacks on UNIFIL

Heide Bronke Fulton

The United States strongly condemns the attack on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The attack wounded several French peacekeepers on patrol outside the southern port city of Sidon.

This is the second assault on UNIFIL peacekeepers in recent months. We call on the Government of Lebanon to conduct a full investigation into the incident and ensure the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice.

The United States continues to support UNIFIL’s mandate to monitor the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Lebanon; accompany and support the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) as they conduct operations throughout southern Lebanon; assist the LAF to establish an area free of unauthorized armed personnel, materiel and weapons; and facilitate humanitarian access to civilian populations and the safe return of displaced persons.

VIDEO - President Obama: Both Parties Have a Responsibility to Solve this Problem

By Colleen Curtis

With eight days until our nation faces an unprecedented financial crisis, the President addressed the nation on the consequences the stalemate in Congress could have on the stability of our economy.  

 Here are some key passages from his remarks

“The debate right now isn’t about whether we need to make tough choices.  Democrats and Republicans agree on the amount of deficit reduction we need. The debate is about how it should be done.  Most Americans, regardless of political party, don’t understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare before we ask a corporate jet owner or the oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don’t get.  How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries?  How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?”

He also warned that we could be facing a  "deep economic crisis"

“Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach.    

If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills – bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.

For the first time in history, our country’s Triple A credit rating would be downgraded, leaving investors around the world to wonder whether the United States is still a good bet.  Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, on mortgages and on car loans, which amounts to a huge tax hike on the American people.  We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis – this one caused almost entirely by Washington.”

Monday, July 25, 2011

BREAKING: President Obama Addresses the Nation Tonight at 9

Tonight at 9 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. Pacific) President Obama will address the nation on the stalemate in Washington over avoiding default and the best approach to cutting deficits.

You can watch the speech live at starting at 9 p.m. EDT tonight.

LP Monday Message: Candidates should get involved now

Dear Friend of Liberty,

Are you thinking about running for office in 2012?

I hope so. I also hope you will get involved with your local Libertarian Party affiliate right now so you will get to know other Libertarians in your area, and so that they can get to know you too.

Each year we have some people file to run for office as Libertarians who report they didn't get as much help from the party as they had hoped for. You are more likely to get support if you have already participated with the party.

Please visit for more information about running for office.

Then fill out the form on

In some cases we need volunteers to start up a local affiliate or to join an existing affiliate as an officer, board member, or to take on some other role such as newsletter editor. If you would like to help, please fill out our volunteer form (

Then look for local activity by visiting your state party website (

Information from the volunteer and candidate forms is immediately sent to our state party affiliates so they will become aware of your interest. If you do not hear back from your state affiliate within 48 hours, I recommend sending a note to Bob Johnston (, our Candidate and Affiliate Support Specialist, for additional assistance.

You are much more likely to be taken seriously by the party if your membership is current and you have participated with your local affiliate.

Please join the Libertarian Party and become a dues-paying member. If your membership has expired, please renew today. (If you're not sure whether your membership has expired, you can call us at 1-800-ELECT-US, or send an email to, and we'll tell you.)


Wes Benedict
Executive Director
Libertarian National Committee

Tompkinsville Man Sentenced in Vote Buying Scheme

Write-In Candidate for Magistrate in the Monroe County 2006 General Election

BOWLING GREEN, KY—A Tompkinsville, Kentucky man has been sentenced to three years’ probation, eight months of home incarceration, and payment of a $4,000 fine, after pleading guilty to charges of conspiring to buy votes in the 2006 General Election in Monroe County, Kentucky, announced David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.

Tony A. Gumm, age 65, was sentenced this morning in United States District Court, Bowling Green, Kentucky by Judge Joseph H. McKinley, Jr. Gumm was named in a federal grand jury indictment on June 9, 2010, along with five other defendants from Tompkinsville, on charges of conspiring to buy votes and actually buying votes during a period leading up to the general election. The object of the conspiracy was to secure the election for Gumm and other candidates. At the time, Gumm was a write-in candidate for Monroe County Magistrate.

The indictment alleges that beginning in October, 2006, and continuing to the date of the general election on November 7, 2006, Gumm, Martha J. Hughes, Jeffrey Todd Newport, William H. Proffit, Corey Page, and Michael Page paid voters to cast walk-in absentee ballots. Voters were paid to lie about their intended whereabouts on Election Day, and to falsely state they were blind, disabled, or unable to read English and thus in need of assistance to vote. Members of the conspiracy would then accompany the voters into the booth to cast the voters’ ballot. The indictment specifies 17 voters who were paid $25 to $80 dollars for voting in the election.

On June 9, 2011, William H. Proffit entered a guilty plea in United States District Court, in Bowling Green, Kentucky and is scheduled to be sentenced September 14, 2011 at 9 a.m. before Judge McKinley. The maximum potential penalties for Proffit are five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and supervised release for a period of three years. For defendants Hughes, Corey Page, Michel Page, and Todd Newport, the maximum potential penalties are 10 years’ imprisonment, a $500,000 fine, and supervised release for a period of three years. Their trial is scheduled for December 12, 2011.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas W. Dyke, Assistant United States Attorney Chief, Criminal Division Randy Ream, and Edward Kang, Department of Justice Public Integrity Section. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

VIDEO: "If you want to be a leader, then you got to lead"

Last night, President Obama held a press conference to provide an update on the ongoing budget negotiations to get our fiscal house in order.  Unfortunately, Speaker Boehner walked away from these negotiations as they worked towards a big deficit and debt reduction package.

Today, the President will meet with members of both parties, including Leader Reid, Leader McConnell, Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi, to continue to hammer out a deal to ensure that Congress acts to reduce our deficit and prevent America from defaulting on its obligations.

Attacks in Norway

Hillary Clinton
July 22, 2011

The United States strongly condemns today's attacks in Oslo and Utoya Island. We stand with the people of Norway in this moment of sorrow and offer our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those injured and killed.

The United States condemns all forms of violence against the innocent, wherever it occurs. We will continue to work with the international community to combat violence that threatens peace-loving people everywhere.

The United States will continue to consult closely with our Norwegian partners as the investigation unfolds. We remain ready to support the Norwegian Government as it seeks to bring the perpetrators of this violence to justice.

Friday, July 22, 2011

VIDEO: West Wing Week: "Two Minute Warning"

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This week, President Obama welcomed a civil rights icon, placed a call to the international space station, made an important personnel announcement and hosted a roundtable focused on education with business leaders. But throughout he remained focused on finding a balanced solution to deficit reduction. That's July 15th-21st, or "Two Minute Warning."

Weekly Update from Rep. Denham

Dear Friend,
A new unemployment report released today shows California with the second highest unemployment rate in the country at 11.8%.  This is one more wake up call, we cannot continue to kick the can down the road and watch our economy dwindle. Californians deserve better.  We need to utilize the resources we have and come to an agreement to lower our debt in order to increase confidence among American families and businesses. 
This is one reason why I was disappointed today when the Senate voted to table the Cut, Cap and Balance Act which passed out of the House earlier this week. At a time when our government borrows 40 cents out of every dollar that it spends and our debt is more than $14 trillion we cannot afford to delay. House Republicans are committed to ending Washington's failed economic policies that have stalled economic growth and job creation.  As I've said from day one, I am ready to implement significant change and address the drivers of our debt.  We cannot solve our problems by raising taxes on families and the very small businesses we are counting on to create jobs, efforts must be centered on long term spending reductions and reforms. 
I am committed to finding an agreement that includes a balanced plan to eliminate wasteful spending and pay down our debt, so that we can put in place these much needed reforms and boost economic growth and job creation. 
As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, I am working to ensure accountability and oversight for how your taxpayer dollars are spent. Recently, I investigated a wasteful SEC lease that cost taxpayers over $557 million for space the agency did not need.  I discussed this blatant waste of taxpayer dollars with Eric Bolling on FOX Business on Monday, watch a clip here. 
As you have noticed, gas prices are on the rise again and as illustrated by the USA Today, higher prices at the pump could further depress the economy. I have talked with many of you and I raised your concerns about the rising costs on the House Floor last week.  In the face of a $14 trillion dollar debt and rising unemployment, we must use the resources that we have here at home. By developing our natural resources we can lower prices and put people back to work. 
While working hard here to improve our economic situation, we cannot forget our brave men and women abroad.  On Tuesday, I visited with a soldier from California at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The soldier had recently returned from Afghanistan after losing both of his legs stepping on an IED.   We discussed the current state of affairs in our country, the closing of Walter Reed facility in D.C., and the concerns he has for fellow troops still in Afghanistan today.   It was an honor to visit with this soldier and I posted a few photos from the visit here. 
I will be back in D.C. next week for votes and negotiations to work towards an agreement on how we can lower our debt and ensure a brighter future for our kids and grandkids.  I am also happy to say that Mr. David L. Spaur, President of the Merced County Economic Development Corporation, is testifying at my Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee hearing next week.  The hearing will address the reauthorization of the Economic Development Administration and I'm proud to have a representative from our district to share his ideas for how we can improve effectiveness through reforms and consolidations.  You can watch the hearing live on our committee website.
For updates throughout the week, be sure to follow me on twitter and like my facebook page. Let your friends know they can sign up to receive this newsletter on my website as well. 
Have a great weekend!

United States Representative

The Lower Mekong Initiative

By Hillary Rodham Clinton
Bali International Convention Center

This fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Lower Mekong Initiative and I am very pleased to join my colleagues from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. We began this initiative two years ago to give rise to more frequent and effective cooperation among the Lower Mekong countries and the United States. We saw many opportunities for effective partnership on issues that impact the people of the region: health, education, infrastructure, environmental protection, water quality, and so much else. And we thought there was value in taking an integrated approach, because all of these issues are connected. If water sources are polluted, health declines; if children are unhealthy, they struggle to learn; if education systems are weak, it affects the success of public health and environmental campaigns. So the initiative reflects the reality of this interconnection.

Let me briefly highlight a few of the achievements of the past year. With regard to the first pillar of our partnership, health, Laos hosted a workshop for developing and testing clean cookstoves. Billions of people worldwide cook their food and warm their homes with open indoor fires, but the smoke from those fires cause major health problems that kill nearly 2 million people a year, primarily – in fact, nearly all of them are women and children. Burning wood also contributes to climate change, which makes cookstoves and technological improvements in them an easy and affordable way to save lives and protect the environment, and I applaud Laos for bringing more clean cookstoves to more people.

In the area of environmental protection, we are building capacity through the Forecast Mekong project, which sends environmental scientists to hold training workshops and help develop models for measuring important data, such as the effects of climate change. And we’re about to launch a program with our Lower Mekong Initiative partner countries called Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests, or LEAF, and that is to mitigate one of the leading causes of climate change, deforestation.

On infrastructure, the United States was pleased to participate in an exchange between delegates from the Mekong River Commission and the Mississippi River Commission to share best practices and technical knowhow to ensure that future infrastructure projects are designed with a consideration of their social and environmental impact.

On education, because we have heard from our partners about the need for more English-language training, especially on technical language to make it easier for experts to work together, we will be starting a regional English-language program this fall for people working in health, infrastructure, and environmental protection.

These are just a few examples, but we are looking forward to even greater progress in the year ahead. In Cambodia in March, our nations drafted a Lower Mekong Initiative concept paper and plan of action, which lays out our principles and specific goals for the next five years under each of the four pillars, including targeting infectious diseases, fostering dialogue between environmental scientists and policy makers, and mobilizing private sector funding for infrastructure projects. We have created a virtual secretariat, which we will unveil in just a few minutes, and we are bringing more nations into this partnership by creating the Friends of the Lower Mekong group, which meets for the first time today.

There’s just one issue I want to mention briefly before concluding, and that is the very serious question of new dams on the main Mekong stem. This is a serious issue for all the countries that share the Mekong River, because if any country builds a dam, all countries will feel the consequences in terms of environmental degradation, challenges to food security, and impacts on communities. I want to urge all parties to pause on any considerations to build new dams until we are all able to do a better assessment of the likely consequences.

The Lower Mekong Initiative reflects the commitment of the United States to the well being of the people and the long-term success of the nations in the Mekong River area. We support your efforts to build a stronger foundation for prosperity and progress, and we look forward to continuing to work with you as partners and friends for years to come. Thank you.

Now, I would like to invite each of our partners to offer a few words, starting alphabetically with Cambodia.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

No, We're Still Not Protected

By Zach Foster
Best read with companion article No, Your Money Isn't Safe

Many members of the Democratic Party are celebrating the one year anniversary of President Obama’s signing into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  The White House has sent out a video release outlining why the banks and Wall Street agents are bad and why the Dodd-Frank Act is good and American families and consumers are much better off.  While the video is somewhat informative and marginally interesting, much of it is either redundant or not quite true.  DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is also waving the Party banner as she cheers on the President’s so-called accomplishments.[1]  Schultz bragged that “our economy is more protected from the threat of future economic crises.”

The truth is that, while there are a few more restrictions on what the clowns on Wall Street can do, Americans are not better off than they were a year ago before the magical everything-proof shield was signed into law.  Banking is still highly unstable in the country, and the banks still exist as entities only because they were artificially revived in the form of massive bailouts.  All across the political spectrum, Americans are angry that the massive bailouts ever happened, and they haven’t forgotten that this bailout, spearheaded by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (who was present at the appointment ceremony for the head of the CFPB), happened under President Obama’s watch and he failed to take action against it. (Find out why banking is still highly unstable)

Schultz is attempting to pin poverty on the Republican Party, especially Republican members of Congress.  Much of her attack against the GOP is dismissible, as it’s just another serving of partisan rhetoric.  However, she accuses the GOP of “doubling down on the failed policies of less regulation and more tax breaks for the wealthy.”  She is mistaken to do so, because the policy of less regulation is not a failed one.  While several are undoubtedly opposed to the Obama administration’s agenda simply for the reason that they passionately hate the President, most are even-tempered people with some idea of what they’re doing.  By no means do Congressional Republicans advocate, nor are they trying to implement, no regulations at all.  What they are trying to do is remove some of the chains that cripple industry, such as tariffs, trade agreements that favor one country or company over another, and many of the other industry killers that remain unseen.[2]

Despite whatever noble intentions are spoken of by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the fact remains that American consumers are not protected.  They are only partially protected from a few unscrupulous consumer goods producers, but they remain exposed to the oppression of government regulation.  This is why it is nearly impossible for consumers to get their hands on raw milk, which when boiled is more nutritious than pasteurized milk,[3] though federal think tanks denounce it and federal regulations outlaw it in the interest of public health.  The same is why many shower heads have a weak water flow and high power therapeutic shower heads used by masseuses are widely outlawed.[4]  For the “protection” of all consumers, citizens are instructed to prevent drought by using less water, even though the local Raging Waters park, Soak City park, and even the community pool use untold gallons every minute.

Similar reasons over time turned the health insurance market into the fiasco it is today.  Heavy regulations by state governments are what makes the prices of health care plans vary widely and mostly unaffordable.[5]  The same regulations that make health care so expensive are all meant to protect consumers from being cheated by health insurance providers who want to charge high prices… go figure.

To further damn the idea that fewer regulations are beneficial to economic growth, Schultz tries to make the case that fewer regulations caused this [brink of] depression.  To counter this statement it is necessary to analyze the common denominators between the Great Depression and today’s Second Great Depression (a.k.a. the Great Recession).  The main two factors that stick out are: (1) fractional reserve banking, meaning most of the money that was supposed to exist never actually existed, and (2) extensive use of credit in making large transactions, which means banks, stock markets, and many other firms were buying and selling with promises to pay based on money that never existed.  In the daily lives of the American citizens, receiving something on credit and then not paying for it is called FRAUD.  This is not due to fewer regulations; this is clearly a case of people stealing and other people thinking they had more monopoly money to spend in the real world than they actually had.

So when the President, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the DNC Chair tell the American people that they are protected, who do they really think they’re fooling?

The image is artwork by the author.  It was compiled from various images on Wikimedia Commons.

[2] Bastiat, Frederic. That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Unseen. Chapter 9: Credit.
[3] Thornton, Mark. “Legalize Milk, Real Milk”.
[4] Tucker, Jeffrey. “The Bureacrat In Your Shower” (also chapter 1 of Bourbon For Breakfast).
[5] “The Easy Fix For Health Care and Why Obama Opposes It.”
[1] Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Marks One Year Anniversary of Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.