?

Log in

happy thanksgiving from Gov. Palin

Nov. 21st, 2008 | 12:27 pm

http://www.freep.com/article/20081121/NEWS15/81121015/1215

It's the video you want.

Link | Leave a comment | Share

excited about the new Obama administration? this will make your blood boil...

Nov. 18th, 2008 | 12:01 pm

Administration Moves to Protect Key Appointees
Political Positions Shifted To Career Civil Service Jobs

By Juliet Eilperin and Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 18, 2008; A01

Just weeks before leaving office, the Interior Department's top lawyer has shifted half a dozen key deputies -- including two former political appointees who have been involved in controversial environmental decisions -- into senior civil service posts.

The transfer of political appointees into permanent federal positions, called "burrowing" by career officials, creates security for those employees, and at least initially will deprive the incoming Obama administration of the chance to install its preferred appointees in some key jobs.

Similar efforts are taking place at other agencies. Two political hires at the Labor Department have already secured career posts there, and one at the Department of Housing and Urban Development is trying to make the switch.

Between March 1 and Nov. 3, according to the federal Office of Personnel Management, the Bush administration allowed 20 political appointees to become career civil servants. Six political appointees to the Senior Executive Service, the government's most prestigious and highly paid employees, have received approval to take career jobs at the same level. Fourteen other political, or "Schedule C," appointees have also been approved to take career jobs. One candidate was turned down by OPM and two were withdrawn by the submitting agency.

The personnel moves come as Bush administration officials are scrambling to cement in place policy and regulatory initiatives that touch on issues such as federal drinking-water standards, air quality at national parks, mountaintop mining and fisheries limits.

The practice of placing political appointees into permanent civil service posts before an administration ends is not new. In its last 12 months, the Clinton administration approved 47 such moves, including seven at the senior executive level. Federal employees with civil service status receive job protections that make it very difficult for managers to remove them.

Most of the personnel shifts have been done on a case-by-case basis, but Interior Solicitor David L. Bernhardt moved to place six deputies in senior agency positions with one stroke, including two who have repeatedly attracted controversy. Robert D. Comer, who was Rocky Mountain regional solicitor, was named to the civil service post of associate solicitor for mineral resources. Matthew McKeown, who served as deputy associate solicitor for mineral resources, will take Comer's place in what is also a career post. Both had been converted from political appointees to civil service status.

In a report dated Oct. 13, 2004, Interior's inspector general singled out Comer in criticizing a grazing agreement that the Bureau of Land Management had struck with a Wyoming rancher, saying Comer used "pressure and intimidation" to produce the settlement and pushed it through "with total disregard for the concerns raised by career field personnel." McKeown -- who as Idaho's deputy attorney general had sued to overturn a Clinton administration rule barring road-building in certain national forests -- has been criticized by environmentalists for promoting the cause of private property owners over the public interest on issues such as grazing and logging.

One career Interior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize his position, said McKeown will "have a huge impact on a broad swath of the West" in his new position, advising the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service on "all the programs they implement." Comer, the official added, will help shape mining policy in his new assignment.

"It is an attempt by the outgoing administration to limit as much as possible [the incoming administration's] ability to put its policy imprint on the Department of Interior," the official said.

In a Nov. 13 memo obtained by The Washington Post, Bernhardt wrote that he was reorganizing his division because the associate solicitors' original status as political appointees undermined the division's effectiveness.

"This has resulted in frequent turnover in those positions, often with an attendant loss in productivity and management continuity in these Divisions, despite the best efforts of the newly-appointed Associate Solicitors," he wrote.

But environmental advocates, and some rank-and-file Interior officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of hurting their careers, said the reassignments represent the Bush administration's effort to leave a lasting imprint on environmental policy.

"What's clear is they could have done this during the eight years they were in office. Why are they doing it now?" said Robert Irvin, senior vice president for conservation programs at Defenders of Wildlife, an advocacy group. "It's pretty obvious they're trying to leave in place some of their loyal foot soldiers in their efforts to reduce environmental protection."

In an interview yesterday, Bernhardt reiterated that he thinks the move is in the government's long-term interest.

"I believe these management decisions will strengthen the professionalism of the Office of the Solicitor and result in greater service to the Department of the Interior," he said. "However, the next solicitor and the department's management team are free to walk a different path."

One senior Interior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters, said an incoming interior secretary or solicitor could create new political positions upon taking office and could shift Senior Executive Service officials to comparable jobs within a few months. As a general rule, career SES employees may be reassigned involuntarily within their current commuting area within 15 days, and beyond their commuting area within 60 days, but they retain their lucrative and permanent government posts. When a new agency head is appointed, he or she must wait 120 days before reassigning career SES officials.

Outside groups are trying to monitor these moves but are powerless to reverse them. Alex Bastani, a representative at the Labor Department for the American Federation of Government Employees, said it took months for that agency even to acknowledge that two of its Bush appointees, Carrie Snidar and Brad Mantel, had gotten civil service posts.

"They're trying to burrow into these career jobs, and we're very upset," Bastani said. "Everyone should have an opportunity to apply for these positions. And certainly career people who don't have partisan bent and have 10 or 15 years in their respective fields should have a shot at these positions."

Kerry Weems, acting chief of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said he discourages political staff from moving into career slots. "It typically doesn't work out for either party," he said. Even though Weems is a career staffer, he expects to leave the administration when the Obama team takes over.

Alphonso Jackson, who was HUD secretary under President Bush, warned his political appointees not to try to burrow in when the administration changed. But one of his regional directors objected to that flat-out prohibition, according to union leaders at HUD, and has told his colleagues that he has been promised first crack at a career position.

Staff writers Ceci Connolly and Spencer S. Hsu contributed to this report.

Link | Leave a comment | Share

Holy cow, indeed.

Nov. 17th, 2008 | 10:53 am

Monday, November 17, 2008

Agencies at Odds Over 'Fire Sale'

By Paul Foy
Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — The view of Delicate Arch — an unspoiled landmark so iconic it's on Utah's license plates — could one day include a drilling platform under a proposal that environmentalists call a Bush administration "fire sale" for the oil and gas industry.
Late on Election Day, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced a Dec. 19 auction of more than 50,000 acres of oil and gas parcels alongside or within view of Arches National Park and two other red rock national parks in Utah: Dinosaur and Canyonlands.
The National Park Service's top official in the state calls it "shocking and disturbing" and says his agency wasn't properly notified. Environmentalists call it a "fire sale" for the oil and gas industry by a departing administration.
Officials of the BLM, which oversees millions of acres of public land in the West, say the sale is nothing unusual, and one is "puzzled" that the Park Service is upset.
"We find it shocking and disturbing," said Cordell Roy, the chief Park Service administrator in Utah. "They added 51,000 acres of tracts near Arches, Dinosaur and Canyonlands without telling us about it. That's 40 tracts within four miles of these parks."
Top aides to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne stepped into the fray, ordering the sister agencies to make amends. His press secretary, Shane Wolfe, told The Associated Press that deputy Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett "resolved the dispute within 24 hours" last week.
A compromise ordered by the Interior Department requires the BLM to "take quite seriously" the Park Service's objections, said Wolfe.
However, the BLM didn't promise to pull any parcels from the sale, and, in an interview after the supposed truce, BLM state director Selma Sierra was defiant, saying she saw nothing wrong with drilling near national parks.
"I'm puzzled the Park Service has been as upset as they are," said Sierra.
"There are already many parcels leased around the parks. It's not like they've never been leased," she said. "I don't see it as something we are doing to undermine the Park Service."
Roy and conservation groups dispute that, saying never before has the bureau bunched drilling parcels on the fence lines of national parks.
"This is the fire sale, the Bush administration's last great gift to the oil and gas industry," said Stephen Bloch, a staff attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
"The tracts of land offered here, next to Arches National Park or above Desolation Canyon, these are the crown jewels of America's lands that the BLM is offering to the highest bidder," he said.
An examination of the parcels, superimposing low-resolution government graphics onto Google Earth maps, shows that in one case drilling parcels bordering Arches National Park are just 1.3 miles from Delicate Arch.
"If you're standing at Delicate Arch, like thousands of people do every year, and you're looking through the arch, you could see drill pads on the hillside behind it. That's how ridiculous this proposed lease sale is," said Franklin Seal, a spokesman for the environmental group Wildland CPR.
In all, the BLM is moving to open 359,000 more acres in Utah to drilling.
Other Utah leases that are certain to draw objections from conservation groups include high cliffs along whitewater sections of Desolation Canyon, which is little changed since explorer John Wesley Powell remarked in 1896 on "a region of wildest desolation" while boating down the Green and Colorado rivers.
Others extend to plateaus populated by big game atop Nine Mile Canyon, site of thousands of ancient rock art panels, Moab's famous Slick Rock Trail and a campground popular with thousands of mountain bikers.
Sierra, the BLM's director for Utah, said the Park Service was consulted on the broad management plans that made the sale of parcels next to national parks permissible, even if it was not given notice on which specific leases were being offered. She apologized for that omission but said notice wasn't legally required.
She said national parks want to keep oil and gas wells five to 10 miles away, "but that policy doesn't exist."
Roy said the standard for an eyesore visible from a national park turns on what a "casual" observer might see.
The hostility carried over into an e-mail exchange between Sierra and Mike Snyder, the Denver-based regional Park Service director, who noted his agency's demand that BLM pull 40 to 45 drill parcels from the auction list. "You stated that you were not willing to do this," Snyder wrote Nov. 6.
Within hours, Sierra responded "These decisions and the lands available for leasing should come to no one's surprise," according to copies of the e-mails obtained from her office.
Sierra said she instructed her district and field managers to educate the park superintendents on why drilling is OK "adjacent to and near the park boundaries."
In the e-mail, Sierra boasted of having "a very good working relationship" with Roy, the federal coordinator in Utah for the Park Service, but in an interview he said he had "no idea this sale was coming down the pike."
Roy said that when he asked Sierra what was going on, she replied: "We added some tracts, sorry we didn't notify you. We can take up these concerns when we issue" drilling permits. He said his response was: "Holy cow."
Sierra didn't dispute this account, but said "I don't think I was in a mood that dismissed his concerns lightly." She said she had promised only to review the objections, parcel by parcel, before the auction is held Dec. 19.

Link | Leave a comment | Share

Sarah Palin sticks to the script, regardless

Oct. 30th, 2008 | 08:07 am

You want out of touch? How about Sarah Palin starting the "drill, baby, drill" chant at a solar technology startup?

excerpted from a story at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081030/ap_on_el_ge/palin;_ylt=Ap4oekyRbRHgT0Vz3CAYp5Mb.3QA:

Palin delivered a policy address in which she called for a "clean break" from the Bush administration's energy policies. She said the White House plans rely too much on importing foreign oil. {T]he Alaska governor said the recent drop in gas and oil prices shouldn't deter consumers and lawmakers from seeking alternative energy sources. She cast energy independence as a national security issue and said dependence on Middle East oil leaves the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorists.

"We not only provide wealth to the sponsors of terror, we provide high-value targets to the terrorists themselves," Palin said. "Across the world are pipelines, refineries, transit routes and terminals for the oil we rely on. And al-Qaida terrorists know where they are."

Despite Palin's attempt to distance McCain's energy policies from those of the Bush administration, the Arizona senator's energy plan largely mirrors the priorities President Bush has pushed for eight years, especially more domestic production.

Palin spoke after touring Xunlight Corp., one of a handful of solar technology startup companies in Toledo, a struggling industrial city in this swing state. The city's leaders are hoping the solar companies will create jobs to replace some of those lost by downsizing in the auto industry.

But she made only a passing reference to solar power in her speech and instead renewed her call for more drilling in U.S. coastal waters. She repeated her signature anthem, "Drill, baby, drill," which seemed to fall a bit flat on the audience even as it's become a popular chant at her rallies.

Link | Leave a comment | Share

Rural voters beging to embrace the Obama/Biden ticket

Oct. 23rd, 2008 | 11:51 am

One thing I've always liked about rural voters...their bullshit detector is pretty sensitive. It seems they've figured out Sarah Palin. Too bad it took them so long to turn sour on W--we wouldn't be in the mess we currently find ourselves in.

Posted on Yahoo News:

Obama, McCain neck-and-neck for rural vote: poll
By Charles Abbott Charles Abbott

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After trailing by 10 points in U.S. rural areas, Democrat Barack Obama is neck-and-neck with Republican John McCain among rural voters in 13 swing states, a potentially key group for winning the White House, according to a poll released on Thursday.

Obama was supported by 46 percent and McCain by 45 percent of 841 likely voters surveyed from October 5-21, as U.S. financial turmoil deepened, according to the poll commissioned by the nonpartisan Center for Rural Strategies in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

A month ago, the poll showed McCain led 51-41. This time, respondents said Obama would do better than McCain on the economy, taxes and "the financial crisis in the country."

Nearly 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas. They tend to be social and fiscal conservatives. President George W. Bush won rural districts nationwide by 19 points in 2004.

The poll showed rural voters have cooled from their initial enthusiasm for Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president. Forty percent view her favorably and 42 percent unfavorably, compared to a 48-33 split in September. Obama, McCain and Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for vice president, had higher ratings than Palin in the new poll.

McCain led Obama 53-43 on the question of who would do better in handling the war in Iraq. In the earlier poll, he held a 56-37 advantage as well as a lopsided lead on who would do the best job on taxes and a 3-point lead on the economy.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent. It interviewed likely voters in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.

Link | Leave a comment | Share

Denver cops = no class

Oct. 2nd, 2008 | 12:11 pm




Police Union Shirt Pokes Fun At DNC Protesters
Denver Officers Given T-Shirt To Commemorate Event

POSTED: 6:35 am MDT September 26, 2008

DENVER -- The Denver police union is selling T-shirts that poke fun at protesters at last month's Democratic National Convention, but the main target isn't laughing.

The back of the shirts reads, "We get up early to beat the crowds" and "2008 DNC," and has a caricature of a police officer holding a baton.

The front has the number 68 with a slash through it, a reference to the Recreate 68 Coalition, which organized several demonstrations during the convention.

Recreate 68 organizer Glenn Spagnuolo called the shirt appalling and tasteless.

Spagnuolo released a written statement Thursday saying members of the police union "clearly have no respect for the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution."

Detective Nick Rogers, a member of the Police Protective Association board, said police often issue T-shirts to commemorate big events.

Rogers said each Denver officer was given one of the shirts free and others are on sale for $10 each at police union offices.

He said the union expects to sell about 2,000 of them.

Rogers said he hadn't received any previous complaints about the shirts.

Police arrested 154 people before and during the Democratic convention. There were few reports of violence.

In once incident, an officer was videotaped pushing a protester to the ground with his baton and telling her, "Back up, b----."

The district attorney declined to prosecute the officer, saying the woman had disobeyed warnings to back away and had grabbed the officer's baton.


We called this riot cop "Mini Me"

A protester being dragged off...some were released into the crowd, others were booked at a mobile processing station set up on a side street away from the chaos

Link | Leave a comment {1} | Share

this one's a gem

Sep. 30th, 2008 | 09:18 am

An AFL promotional ad from the early 90s directed at the US and UK:

Link | Leave a comment | Share

This is pure genius

Sep. 23rd, 2008 | 02:48 pm

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a
transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has
had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800
billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be
most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my
replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may
know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in
the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the
funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in
the names of our close friends because we are constantly under
surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a
reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds
can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account
numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to
wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for
this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with
detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the
funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

Link | Leave a comment {3} | Share

No

Sep. 15th, 2008 | 09:59 am

Author David Foster Wallace found dead

Sun Sep 14, 7:12 PM ET

David Foster Wallace, the writer best known for his critically acclaimed 1996 novel "Infinite Jest," was found dead at his home in Claremont, California, police said.

The Claremont Police Department said Wallace's wife had called them on Friday night, saying she returned home to find her 46-year-old husband had hanged himself.

Wallace, who taught creative writing at Pomona College, gained national prominence with "Infinite Jest," named by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923.

The novel, which runs to 1,000-plus pages and takes place in a drug rehabilitation center and an elite tennis academy, won acclaim from Time for its "painfully funny dialogue and Wallace's endlessly rich ruminations and speculations on addiction, entertainment, art, life and, of course, tennis."

Wallace's other works include the short story collections "Girl With Curious Hair" and "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men," as well as a collection of essays, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again."

"David was, of course, a great figure in American letters," Gary Kates, dean of Pomona College, said in a statement.

"We knew when we hired him what an accomplished writer he was, but what we had no right to expect was what a brilliant teacher he would turn out to be ... that's what was so unusual about David, and that's what marks the extent of our loss."

Link | Leave a comment | Share

the media vetting has begun

Sep. 14th, 2008 | 08:53 am

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/14/us/politics/14palin.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=all

Hope you enjoyed your 15 minutes of fame, Sarah Palin.

Link | Leave a comment | Share