Truckers Get Inexperienced Secretary of Transportation in Obama’s Cabinet.

12/19/2008 08:51:00 PM

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signal_semi_truckA couple of days ago I blogged about LaHood being rumored to be appointed the next Secretary of Transportation, aka the bossman of the DOT.  Well today, that rumor became reality.  Ray LaHood, known to his colleagues as “Grumpy” has been appointed the new Secretary of Transportation for Obama’s Administration.   Obama puts ANOTHER person from Illinois on his cabinet.

He will serve as principal adviser to the president in all matters relating to federal transportation programs, among other duties.  Other responsibilities include negotiating and implementing international transportation agreements and preparing transportation legislation.  Yet the man has absolutely no real expertise or background in transportation policy other than serving six years on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee after his election in 1994, he has not been closely identified with any major transportation initiatives in recent years.

Obama said on LaHood, “He has not only helped rebuild our landscape, he’s helped beautify it by creating opportunities for bikers and runners to enjoy our great outdoors.”  Obama is referring to H.CON.RES.305:  Recognizing the importance of bicycling in transportation and recreation, introduced Feb 28,2008.

The League of Illinois Bicyclists posted a statement yesterday saying “[LaHood] is an active supporter of bicycling and trails, and he has very visibly gone against the wishes of his party leaders on our issues.”

LaHood said in his acceptance speech at Obama’s press conference:  “We have a task before us to rebuild America.  As a nation, we need to continue to be the world leaders in infrastructure development.  Amtrak, mass transit, light rail, air travel and our roads and bridges all play a vital role in our economy and our well-being as a nation.  We cannot stand by while our infrastructure ages and crumbles.  We must pursue solid policies that allow our states and communities to address their transportation needs.  We have a tremendous opportunity before us to rebuild our infrastructure and reinvigorate our economy, and I look forward to the challenge.

Note LaHood doesn’t address truckers, heavy rails or even highways.  And infact he himself has already asked for help from ranking Republican on the Transportation panel, John L. Mica (R-FL) for help.  “Its been awhile since he’s worked with the issues specifically and he said he would ask me to assist him.”  “He’s a very intelligent guy.  He’s someone who carefully reviews issues before he takes a position.”


But lets look at his voting on transportation and infrastructure in Congress.

  • DID NOT VOTE on passage of HR 7110, the Job Creation and Unemployment Relief Act of 2008.  Making supplemental appropriations for job creation and preservation, infrastructure investment, and economic and energy assistance for the fiscal year ending Sept 30, 2009 , making supplemental appropriations for FY 2009 for infrastructure investment to the DOT for the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and the Federal Transit Administration.   It also included appropriations for clean water to the EPA, to the DOD for flood control, to the Dept of Education for school modernization, renovation or repair, to extend unemployment compensation, and a lot more that Obama wants in his Administration.[Sep 26, 2008, House Roll #660 and was present that day and voted on other bills but chose to NOT VOTE on this bill.]
  • Voted No on HR 1507, providing for consideration of HR 7110. [Sep 26, 2008, House Roll #658]
  • Voted NO on HR 1507, providing for consideration of HR 7110. [Sep 26, 2008, House Roll #657]
  • Voted YES on passage of HR 6630, to prohibit the Secretary of Transportation from granting authority to a motor carrier domiciled in MX to operate beyond US municipalities and commercial zones on the US-MX border unless expressly authorized by Congress. [Sep 9, 2008, House Roll #575]
  • DID NOT VOTE on passage of HR 3999, National Highway Bridge Reconstruction and Inspection Act [Jul 24, 2008, House Roll #530] [Cost $7 per American over the 2008-2012 period.]
  • DID NOT VOTE on Motion to Recommit with Instructions:  HR 3999, National Highway Bridge Reconstruction and Inspection Act.  [Jul 24, 2008, House Roll #529]
  • DID NOT VOTE on Amendment 10 to HR 3999, stating that none of the funds may be used to illegal immigrants.  [Jul 24, 2008, House Roll #528]
  • Voted NO on HR 1344, Providing consideration of HR 3999, to improved the safety of Federal-aid highway bridges, to strengthen bridge inspection standards and processes, to increase investment in the reconstruction of structurally deficient bridges on the National Highway System. [Jul 23, 2008, House Roll #523]
  • Voted NO on HR 1344, a ordering of HR 1344 to amend title 23, providing for consideration of HR 3999, to improve the safety of Federal-aid highway bridges, to strengthen bridge inspection standards and processes, to increase investment in the reconstruction of structurally deficient bridges on the National Highway System [Jul 23, 2008, House Roll #522]
  • Voted YES on on passage  HR 6493, Aviation Safety Enhancement Act of 2008, establishing a law in the FAA of an Aviation Safety Whistleblower Investigation Office. [Jul 22, 2008, House Roll #512][Costing less than $1 per American annually.]
  • Voted YES on on passage of HR 6052, Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act, authorizing the Secretary of Transportation to make grants for operating reducing fares, operating and capital costs of equipment, avoiding increased fares (Ours is actually doubling, announced only about a month ago), costs of acquiring clean fuel or alternative fuel vehicle-related equipment, also amends the Safe, accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act.  [Jun 26, 2008, House Roll #467] [Cost $4 per American over the 2009-2013 period.]
  • Voted YES on motion to recommit with instruction on HR 6052. [Jun 26, 2008, House Roll #466]
  • Voted YES on Amendment 3 to HR 6052. [Jun 26, 2008, House Roll #465]
  • Voted NO on passage of HR 1304, Providing consideration of HR 6052 to promote increased public transportation use, to promote increased use of alternative fuels in providing public transportation. [Jun 26, 2008, House Roll# 463]
  • Voted NO on ordering HR 1304, Providing consideration of HR 6052 to promote increased public transportation use, to promote increased use of alternative fuels in providing public transportation. [Jun 26, 2008, House Roll# 462]
  • Voted YES on passage of HR 6327, Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2008, amending the Internal Revenue Code to extend through FY2008 to excise taxes on aviation fuels and air transportation of person and property. [Jun 24, 2008, House Roll #447]
  • DID NOT VOTE on House – S2146, Authorizing the Administrator of the EPA to accept, as part of a settlement, diesel emission reduction Supplemental Environmental Projects, if the projects protect human health or the environment, are related to underlying alleged violation, etc.  [Jun 12, 2008, House Roll #413, LaHood was present that day.]
  • Voted YES on passage of HR 6003, Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, authorizing appropriations for FY2009-FY2013 for Amtrak. [Jun 11, 2008, House Roll #400][Cost $43 per American over the 2009-2013 period.]
  • Voted NO on motion to recommit with instructions on HR 6003.  [Jun 11, 2008, House Roll #399]
  • Voted YES on Amendment 2 to HR 6003, authorizing the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority to finance in part the capital and preventive maintenance projects. [Jun 11, 2008, House Roll #398]
  • Voted YES on Amendment 4 to HR 6003, prohibiting funds from being used for long distance Amtrak route with the highest cost per seat/mile. [Jun 11, 2008, House Roll #397]
  • Voted NO on passage for HR 1253, providing for the consideration of HR 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. [Jun 10, 2008, House Roll #392]
  • Voted NO on ordering on HR 1253, providing for the consideration of HR 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. [Jun 10, 2008, House Roll #391]
  • DID NOT VOTE on passage of HR 5540, Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Continuing Authorization Act. [Jun 5, 2008, House Roll #386]  [Cost, less than $1 per American over the 2009-2013 period. LaHood was present that day.]
  • DID NOT VOTE on motion to recommit with instructions to HR 5540, Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Continuing Authorization Act. [Jun 5, 2008, House Roll #385.  LaHood was present that day.] 
  • Voted NO on passage of HR 1233, Providing for consideration of HR 5540, Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Continuing Authorization Act. [Jun 5, 2008, House Roll #381]
  • Voted NO on ordering of HR 1233, Providing for consideration of HR 5540, Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Continuing Authorization Act. [Jun 5, 2008, House Roll #380]



Now LaHood is a republican however, As such, Obama has decided to use the head of the DOT as a throw-away political appointment that doesn’t matter putting someone at the bottom of the barrel.  Instead of putting a person who is qualified in office, Obama chose someone who is not a transportation expert to push a progressive infrastructure agenda.  Remember, this is how Obama is going to make over 2 million jobs, by “fixing” the infrastructure gearing up for the biggest overhaul of the U.S. transportation policy since the Eisenhower administration.  “We will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure,” Obama has said.

Additionally, a former Federal Transit Administration official stated, “In terms of attracting talent, no one I know is going to want to work for this guy.”  “He’s got a horrible environmental record, he’s bad on climate change and he’s Caterpillar’s big man.  Can we get a worse appointment?”  LaHood got $148,000 from Caterpillar to get them between $20 and $75 million in annual earmarks for their South Illinois subsidiaries.

LaHood’s predecessor, Bob Michel, said “[Transportation] hasn’t been his topmost specialty, but he’s a quick learner and he’s been around long enough to know what the big issues are whether it’s land, sea, or air in the field of transportation.”

Now many say that LaHood is a great choice, since he has close ties to Caterpillar.  However,  CAT had stated in June that they were getting out of the on-highway truck engine business, no longer making engines for 18-wheeler trucks.  In fact today, CAT announced that 814 Mossville, IL (Peoria) engine plant employees are going to be indefinitely laid off.  And that CAT is building a new engine plant in TX.  And the UAW has stated they are going to “chase these jobs to Texas.  We will start an organizing campaign in Texas to organize these jobs that belong to be represented by the UAW.”

One good thing that LaHood did in relation to truckers, is that he did vote in favor of a bill prohibiting the DOT from granting the authority to Mexican carriers to operate beyond the border zone unless expressly authorized by Congress.  So thus, the teamsters love him.

According to Open Secrets, LaHood’s contributors included the American Trucking Association and transportation unions.  He was among the congressmen who fought unsuccessfully to delay the 2002 diesel emission standards.


He is the grandson of Lebanese immigrants, growing up in Peoria and earned a bachelor's degree from Bradley University in Education and Sociology in 1971.  He taught junior high school students in Catholic schools and later was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives.  He also served as a congressional aide, rising to chief of staff to then-House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-IL).

LaHood was elected to Congress in 1994 and has developed a centrist voting record and a reputation as a deficit hawk.  He was one of only three Republicans who did not sign former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America,” according to the Almanac of American Politics.  He developed national fame, if you will, when he presided over the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

LaHood has a special appreciation of President Lincoln and has been an advocate for protecting the 16th president’s legacy in Congress.  LaHood authorized the law establishing the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, which is developing plans for Lincoln’s 200th birthday next year.  LaHood also helped establish the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.


Budge & Economy

  • Voted YES on the Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act (Dec 2008)
  • DID NOT VOTE on the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008 (Oct 2008)
  • Voted YES on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (Oct 2008)
  • Voted NO on defining “energy emergency” on federal gas prices (Jun 2008)
  • Voted NO or DID NOT VOTE on matters on Extending the Unemployment Compensation Act (Jun 2008)


Now the guy might seem like a civil guy based upon his voting record however, it still stands that the man has no real experience in dealing with the trucking industry and very limited in dealing with the transportation industry, and a bit of experience dealing with allocation of funds to build roads in Peoria, IL.


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Misery Index

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The UAW Has Blood On Their Hands While We, The US Taxpayers Have Dirt In Our Faces. [Bailout]

12/19/2008 02:49:00 PM

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JCPenny catalog2Your own little Detroit, just in time for Christmas!   And again I state, if the UAW is so good, then why is Detroit in trouble?  Why don’t the import auto makers have problems?  Why aren’t they screaming for a bailout?  The difference between the two?  The UAW.

This morning President Bush announced that his Administration, acting unilaterally after Congress declined to intervene, due to the UAW refusing to make concessions, will bail out the auto industry to the tune of $13.4 billon now, and possibly another $4 billion in February.  “The time to make hard decisions to become viable is now, or the only option will be bankruptcy,” Bush said.  “The automakers and unions must understand what is at stake and make hard decisions necessary to reform.”

The White House admits that it consulted with Obama on the loan package.  They briefed the Obama transition team over the last several days and options under consideration, according to a transition aide not authorized to speak publicly.  White House spokesman Joel Kaplan confirmed that there had been “consultations ongoing” between the two sides but he declined to go into specifics.  The financing will be drawn from the $700 billion TARP, the fund set aside in October to bailout Wall Street firms and banks.

Obama issued a statement on the bailout loan to Detroit:

Today’s actions are a necessary step to help avoid a collapse in our auto industry that would have devastating consequences for our economy and our workers.  With the short-term assistance provided by this package, the auto companies must bring all their stakeholders together – including labor, dealers, creditors and suppliers – to make the hard choices necessary to achieve long-term viability.  The auto companies must not squander this chance to reform bad management practices and begin the long-term restricting that is absolutely required to save this critical industry and the millions of American jobs that depend on it.


Here’s a sneak peek of the plan, as released by the White House:

  • Amount:  Auto manufacturers will be provided with $13.4 billion in a short-term financing from the TARP, with an additional $4 billion available in February, contingent upon drawing down the second batch of TARP funds.
  • Viability Requirement:  The firms must use these funds to become financially viable.  Taxpayers will not be asked to provide financing for firms that do not become viable.  If the firms have not attained viability by March 31, 2009, the loan will be called and all funds returned to the Treasury.
  • Definition of Viability:  A firm will only be deeded viable if it has a positive net present value, taking into account all current and future costs, and can fully repay the government loan.
  • Binding Terms and Conditions:  The binding terms and conditions established by the Treasury will mirror those that were voted favorably by a majority of both Houses of Congress, including:
    • Firms must provide warrants for non-voting stock.
    • Firms must accept limits on executive compensation and eliminate perks such as corporate jets. [The companies must show the White House they are “taking all reasonable steps” to sell aircraft or interest in aircraft.  And they must provide plans to control their expenses that would include details about spending on holiday parties, travel and new real estate.]
    • Debt owed to the government would be senior to other debts, to the extent permitted by law.
    • Firms must allow the government to examine their books and records.
    • Firms must report and the government has the power to block any large transactions (> $100 million).
    • Firms must comply with applicable Federal fuel efficiency and emissions requirements.
    • Firms must not issue new dividends while they owe government debt.
  • Targets:  The terms and conditions established by Treasury will include additional targets that were the subject of Congressional negotiations but did not come to a vote, including:
    • Reduce debts by 2/3 via a debt for equity exchange. [The companies would need to provide the government with restructuring plans by Feb 17.  Those plans would need to show the companies and their subsidiaries have used their best efforts to reduce outstanding unsecured public debt, with the exception of pension and employment benefits obligations, by two-thirds.]
    • Make one-half of VEBA payments in the form of stock.  [The White House has called for the automakers to make 1/2 of the approximate $21 billion owned to UAW retiree health-care trust in stock instead of cash.]
    • Eliminate the jobs bank. [The bank provides nearly full pay to union workers on long-term layoff.  The workers receive normal unemployment benefits however, the jobs bank provides compensation that would make the workers benefits, while on layoff, equal to about 95% of their weekly income.]
    • Work rules that are competitive with transplant auto manufactures by 12/31/09. [Meaning equal to that of Nissan, Toyota or Honda however, the U.S. Treasury has changed its stance, saying it had identified an error it wanted to correct to make terms of the package consistent with its intent.]
    • Wages that are competitive with those of transplant auto manufacturers by 12/31/09.
    In addition, the firm will be required to conclude new agreements with its other major stake holders, including dealers and suppliers, by March 31, 2009.

    These terms and conditions would be non-binding in the sense that negotiations can deviate from the quantitative targets above, providing that the firm reports the reasons for these deviations and make the business case to achieve long-term viability in spite of the deviations.

    Interest on the loans is currently set at 5% for three years.  In the event of a default, interest rates could rise to 800 basis points above either Libor or 2%, whichever is greater and is payable immediately.

    The companies would need to provide the government with weekly status reports, beginning this week.  The reports would need to detail companies’ 13—week rolling cash forecasts.  The companies also are required to provide biweekly liquidity status reports after loan disbursements and monthly certifications of expense policy and compensation compliance.


    - $17.4 billion.  GM is set to draw $4 billion on Dec. 29, followed by another $5.4 billion on Jan. 16.  Should Congress release a second set of TARP funding, GM would get an additional $4 billion on Feb. 17.

    Chrysler - $4 billion on Dec. 29.

    Ford – Ford is not seeking any assistance.  “As we told Congress, Ford is in a different position.  We do not face a near-term liquidity issue, and we are not seeking short-term financial assistance from the government,” Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally said.  “But all of us at Ford appreciate the prudent step the administration has taken to address the near-term liquidity issues of GM and Chrysler.”


    If you remember, because the UAW would not make concession, that was the reason that the Republicans said no to the Detroit bailout.  Well, Bush added in that concession, and the UAW is not a happy camper.

    House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D) is calling the wage stipulation “an unfair assault on working men and women” that could force them to accept “a disproportionately large reduction in what is currently legally owed to them.”  The provision, Frank said, “could give foreign auto companies in effect the ability to dictate wages for all American auto workers,” and “it’s outrageous to be giving foreign companies the right to set wages for American workers.”  He is already pushing for Obama to change that portion of the emergency loan package, something the U.S. Treasury said the incoming Administration will have the power to do. 

    House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) said the White House package “unfortunately singles out workers and clearly put them at a disadvantage before negotiations have even begun.”

    All stakeholders – management, directors, bondholders, suppliers, dealers, workers – will have to participate in shared sacrifices to help the industry move forward,” UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said, noting that the UAW members have already made more substantial sacrifices to help make the domestic auto companies more competitive.  [Those concessions were over a year ago, in an totally different economy.]

    We are disappointed that,” President Bush, “has added unfair conditions signaling out workers,” Gettlefinger said.  “We will work with the Obama administration and the new Congress to ensure that these unfair conditions are removed, as we join in the coming months with all stakeholders to create a viable future for the U.S. auto industry.”

    Because these provisions are unnecessary to achieve our goal and because they were unilaterally inserted by the President into what was otherwise a negotiated agreement, I believe that the incoming administration and the Congress should take whatever step are necessary to remove them,” he said. 

    The UAW has criticized the idea of cutting employment compensation.  “While we appreciate that President Bush has taken the emergency action needed to help America’s auto companies weather the current financial crisis, we are disappointed that he has added unfair conditions singling out workers,” UAW President Ron Gellelfinger said in a statement.

    What the UAW needs to remember, is that this money is a loan to GM and Chrysler, a bailout for the auto makers, the company itself, NOT to the workers.  Because if the company doesn’t exist, then the workers don’t have a job.  If the UAW needs money to continue giving their members the same lifestyle they are use to in pay and benefits, then they should solicit Congress for money and take a loan out themselves.


    Then there is the entire issue of the second part of the TARP funds.  Currently of the first $350 billion allocated to the Treasury, the department has committed:

        ■  $315 billion to inject capital into banks and AIG
        ■  $20 billion to unfreeze consumer credit markets
        ■  $13.4 billion for GM and Chrysler

    This leaves the Treasury will less than $2 billion at its disposal.  Treasury Secretary Paulson said that Congress must release the second half of the $700 billion TARP, stating he would meet with lawmakers and Obama’s transition team to discuss when to ask for the rest of the rescue money. 

    But some administration officials suggested that the final decision to request the funds might not come until after Obama takes office.  Treasury officials have grown increasing concerned in recent weeks that they could be left without enough cash to stem another financial crisis, such as the collapse of a bank or other major institution.  But on the other side of the coin, many in Congress have been critical of how the US Treasury has handled the first part of the $350 billion in funding.

    In order for the Treasury to access the second half of TARP, the White House must send Congress a plan detailing how the money would be spent.  Congressional Democrats say they don’t expect a request to come before Jan. 4, when the new Congress is scheduled to convene.

    Once that submission is made to Congress, they have a 15 day window on voting to pass a measure to block release of the money.  If Congress passes a bill to not release the money, then the White House could veto and overrule the congressional vote, but then Congress could also overturn that veto.

    The reason Paulson is talking to the OBama team, is that the timeline for all of this, puts the passage into the first days of Obama’s presidency.  It is unlikely, and I would be very surprised, if Bush petitions Congress to release the money.

    Congressional Democrats say they don’t expect a request to come before Jan. 6, when the new Congress is scheduled to convene.  Once a request is made from the White House, Congress has 15 days to pass a measure that would block release of the money.  Six plus fifteen equals 21, meaning Obama is in office.  Or if Congress passed immediately, Bush could veto the funds which would mean that Obama would have to make the request to Congress, thus adding additional responsibility on Obama’s Administration. 


    Today’s actions are a necessary step to help avoid a collapse in our auto industry that would have devastating consequences for our economy and our workers,” Obama said.  “With the short-term assistance provided by this package, the auto companies must bring all their stakeholders together including labor, dealers, creditors and suppliers to make the hard choices necessary to achieve long-term viability.”

    Obama has also said that “the American people’s patience is running out.”  He says the automakers should “seize the opportunity” to come up with a plan to make their companies sustainable.

    Obama also said a final restructuring package shouldn’t just include concessions from the workers.  He said they shouldn’t be the ones “taking all the hits”.  Obama says everyone involved with the auto industry has to be “part of the process.” 

    Obama wouldn’t say if he had any specific changes to the plan laid out by Bush this morning because he had yet not examined the exact details.

    Bush however, has handed off to Obama his probable first and major difficult decision when he becomes President regarding our economy.  Then his administration must politically and economically judge whether GM and Chrysler have become financially viable at the end of March.  If his new team concludes that the automakers have not become financially viable, it means bankruptcy for GM and Chrysler and widespread layoffs far beyond the automakers.  Meanwhile, Bush has insured that the automakers do not fall on his presidential watch, while it will be up to Obama and his administration to determine if GM and Chrysler are viable, and possibly fall.


    Cerberus owns 80 percent in Chrysler.  The White House package strips away the requirement that Cerebrus be held liable for any losses experienced by the taxpayers.  Lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican, have expressed outrage that Cerebrus, which is profitable, had refused to put up any more cash aid to Chrysler. 

    In an emailed statement, Cerberus said that it will hand over equity in the company’s automotive operations to labor and creditors as part of the loan agreement.  “Concessions by all relevant constituencies” are needed to restructure Chrysler.  The fund agreed today to put up another $2 billion into Chrysler.  Administration officials said the investment effectively put Cerberus on the hook for far more than just the government loan, and that taxpayers were being protected through tough restrictions imposed in the loan agreements – including provisions that would give the government an equity stake in GM and Chrysler.


    First of all, this is a bailout plan, plain and simple.  Sure, the White House will point to a long list of requirement in the deal’s terms as proof that this isn’t just another bailout.  But that’s bogus:  this is a politically-driven plan and none of the important concessions listed by the White House are binding or likely to happen.  That’s because, unlike in bankruptcy court, this bailout offers no accountability.  There is a zero chance that the government will require GM or Chrysler to pay back these loans if they are unable to right themselves by March. 

    Second, the “deal” is non-binding.  Detroit could come back and simply say they haven’t obtained “viability” because no one is buying cars.  That’s their ticket out.

    Third, it’s an end-run around our representative democracy.  Congress spent over one month debating whether and how to support the automakers and, in the end, decided to put no taxpayer money on the line.  The White House’s action today nullifies that congressional decision, violating the constitutional command that the legislative branch makes law and the executive branch enforces it.

    Forth, it’s just a downpayment.  According to industry analysts and economists (e.g., Mark Zandi) future bailouts, or even bankruptcy, are inevitable.  How much will it cost?  Zandi says up to $150 billion.

    Fifth, according to the terms, if the auto makers have “not attained viability by March 31, 2009, the loan will be called and all funds returned to the Treasury.”  What if they auto makers haven’t attained viability, and they don’t have any money to pay it back immediately?

    Sixth, there nothing in the loan terms to keep Detroit from continuing layoffs and sending jobs to Mexico.

    Seventh, is another small problem:  this bailout is ILLEGAL.  The administration does not have the legal authority to use funds from the bank bailout in this way.  Congress earmarked that money for “financial institutions,” which the UAW automakers clearly are not.  The funds were to be used to restore liquidity and stability in the overall financial system, not to help nonfinancial corporate companies in distress because of  the UAW.

    And finally, the fact is that this bailout probably isn’t going to work.  Put simply, if the goal is turning the automakers around to achieve long-term profitability, this bailout is clearly inferior to a straightforward reorganization under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, which so many large corporations have relied upon to escape dire financial straights and return to profitability.  A bailout actually makes achieving this goal less likely.

    And then there is the fact that auto sales have been SLASHED at record lows.  Detroit can continue to make cars however, who is going to be buying them? 

    And where is the “car czar” in all of this?  Oh yea, its the U.S. Treasury secretary, and we all know how good he’s been with that, right?


    Why aren’t the same type of restrictions or concessions given to the “too big to fail” banks, who are still laying off workers, paying stockholders, paying bonuses, buying other banks, increasing interest rates on current balances on credit cards, and not making any credit available to consumers and businesses?

    And do I feel sorry for current employees and retirees who benefits may end up being cut 60% in the end?  Nope.  Why should they be any different from any other American who is suffering right now?  Join the recession with the rest of the country where you must choose between housing, food and health care.  And if you say the UAW has acquired rights to those items, then why doesn’t the rest of the country have the same?

    As for those who paid into the pension fund, and may not get those funds?  Well, what about all the millions of people who have paid into FICA, and come to find out, those funds are probably going to be gone and thus then what?   I paid in enough funds within a 10 year period to acquire enough points to be eligible to retire and eligible for disability.  Why do I have to wait at least 32 years AFTER that to be eligible for 70% of my retirement benefits, and wait a total of 37 years AFTER I’ve paid in enough to be eligible for 100% of my measly $1000 a month.  Can I have interest on all that money over the years?  Nope.

    There is the option of the 401(k) however, the Democrats in Congress want to seize those funds.

    And why do average US workers, making $10 to $15 a hour, if not less, have to pay taxes to support the UAW for workers who make two or three times those hourly wages, not including all their benefits?

    The UAW has blood on their hands while we, the US taxpayers have dirt in our faces.


    A bailout for Wall Street was done in days in Congress.  A bailout for the auto makers was done in a few weeks.  Why is it taking MONTHS to do a bailout for US taxpayers?  In the meantime, the US taxpayer, who is suffering from record high foreclosures and unemployment get to move into their new digs while the UAW wants to make sure that their workers have everything they have had in the past.  A box under an interstate, or bridge. Are you going to choose a refrigerator box or build one from wooden skids?

    If Unions are so good for the economy, then why are automakers in trouble?  If the auto workers are so good, then why are the US made cars mostly sub-standard compared to foreign autos?  And if UAW made cars are so good, then why isn’t the import car industry in trouble?  Why aren’t the import companies screaming for bailouts?  Why is Detroit in so much trouble, but the import auto companies not?  What is their difference?  The UAW.

    Let the auto workers know what it’s like to have to sleep in one of their own cars in the middle of winter as a home or they can take pay cuts and come back to Earth with the rest of the United States and suffer along with everyone else.   Settle with something, and not nothing.  The UAW’s greed will be the downfall of at least GM.  Greed and Vanity are two of my favorite sins.


    I never thought I would say this, but Bush is a smart man.  If you don’t understand that statement on the “loans”, then you are obviously not getting the ‘whole picture” and /or are an Obama supporter.


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    Obama May Choose Illinois Rep. Ray LaHood Ss Transportation Secretary. Truckers Get Another Person With No Experience Telling You What To Do.

    12/18/2008 03:20:00 AM

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    lahoodFor those few in the transportation industry that follow my blog, lemme tell ya sumptin.  LaHood is CLUELESS about the DOT. 

    He has been a presiding officer of more debates than any other member.  He presided over the impeachment vote of Clinton.  And he has VERY LITTLE experience in the transportation industry on ANY level.

    Lets hope the rumors on this one ARENT true.

    His Appropriations Committee Assignments are:
         ■  Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.
         ■  Subcommittee on Legislative Branch
         ■  Select Intelligence Oversight Panel

    Legislation he has sponsored, in reverse order:

    • H.R.1455: Commemorating of the 25th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the US Marine Corps barrack in Beiruit, introduced 09/17/08
  • H.R. 1625:  To establish the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, introduced 09/21/07
  • H.R. 2687:  To amend title 39, U.S.C., to prevent certain types of mail matter from being sent by a Member of the House of Reps as part of a mass mailing.
  • H.R. 4819:  TO extend the temporary suspension of duty on 2-Methyl-4-methoxy-6-methylamino-1,3,5-triazine. [A Herbicide], introduced 12/18/07
  • H.R. 4820:  To extend the temporary suspension of duty on N-YY(4,6-dimethoxypyrimidin-2-yl)amino?carbonyl?-3-(ethylsul onyl)-2-pyridinesulfonamide and application adjuvants, introduced 12/18/07
  • H.R. 4821:  To extend the temporary suspension of duty on 2-amino-4-methoxy-6-methyl-1,3,5-triazine, introduced 12/18/07

    And it doesn’t get any better.

    And if you think that is bad.. wait until you see the co-sponsored legislation

    Legislation he has co-sponsored, in reverse order:

    • H.CON.RES.7:  Calling on the League of Arab States and each Member State individually to acknowledge the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan and to step up their efforts to stop the genocide in Darfur, introduced 01/04/07
    • H.CON.RES.25:  Expressing the sense of Congress that it is the goal of the United States that, not later than January 1, 2025, the agricultural, forestry, and working land of the United States should provide from renewable resources not less than 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States and continue to produce safe, abundant, and affordable food, feed, and fiber, introduced 01/10/07
    • H.CON.RES.28:   Expressing the sense of the Congress that a commemorative postage stamp should be issued to promote public awareness of Down syndrome, introduced 01/10/07
    • H.CON.RES.48:  Recognizing the efforts and contributions of the members of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program under the Civil Affairs and Military Government Sections of the United States Armed Forces during and following World War II who were responsible for the preservation, protection, and restitution of artistic and cultural treasures in countries occupied by the Allied armies, introduced 01/31/07
    • H.CON.RES.49:  Concurrent resolution recognizing the 75th anniversary of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and commending recipients of the Purple Heart for their courage and sacrifice on behalf of the United States, introduced 01/31/07
    • H.CON.RES.108:  Expressing the sense of the Congress that a commemorative postage stamp should be issued honoring Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, introduced 03/29/07
    • H.CON.RES.117:  Commemorating the 400th Anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown, introduced, 04/18/07
    • H.CON.RES.376:  Congratulating the 2007-2008 National Basketball Association World Champions, the Boston Celtics, on an outstanding and historic season, introduced 06/23/08

    Oh and here’s my personal favorite.  I guess this is his transportation experience:

    • H.CON.RES.305:  Recognizing the importance of bicycling in transportation and recreation, introduced 02/28/08

    And it gets worse:

    He also voted “YES” on the auto bailout.  And he voted “YES” on the bank bailouts.  But would you believe he’s a republican?  WTF?

    Transportation Experience

    LaHood hasn’t made transportation much of a priority during his career.  Over the years, LaHood has been involved in some related issues in his district, though.  Here’s a quick list:

    • Last year, LaHood argued openly that the idea of Amtrack coming to his native Peoria was a far-fetched one that should instead be replaced with bus service to other cities.  He dismissed calls for a long-term plan for Amtrack service there and did nothing in Congress to improve the chances for that city’s rail accessibility. (The Passenger Rail Investment Act)
    • He also has worked to mothball an exiting rail right-of-way and replace it with a greenway, and idea that would be nice for walkers and bikers but make it difficult to envision mass transit on the route in the future.
    • This year, he did sponsor a bill to improve the ability of people to claim tax exemptions for transit ridership. (The Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act)
    • Back in 2005, he helped work to get funds for the improvement of a road in Illinois.
    • And umm.. uhh.. gee.. umm.. I guess that’s about it after seven terms in Congress.



    But hey, I guess having absolutely no experience with the transportation industry is okay for Obama.  I mean he’s from Illinois and he’s a big Lincoln supporter so in Obama’s eyes, that’s all that is needed right?   And what Washington experience does Obama have, and hey, he’s gonna be our next savior president.   And as we ALL know, any political figure from Illinois is a great person right?  Just ignore that whole Governor Blago thing, ya know.  Nothing to see here, keep moving.

    If indeed this is true, Mr. LaHood would be an excellent pick by the Obama administration,” said Rod Nofgziger, OOIDA’s Director of Government Affairs.  Has this guy been sniffing way too many diesel fumes or what?

    But according to the OOIDA, LaHood voted for the legislation that intended to stop the cross-boarder program with Mexico by prohibiting the Secretary of Transportation from granting authority to a motor carrier domiciled in Mexico to operate beyond U.S. municipalities and commercial zones on the US-MX border, unless expressly authorized by Congress.  Now we all know where THAT went.  It happened anyway.

    TransportTopics says that the congressman did not seek re-election last month after being in Congress for seven terms, and has been known for his willingness to criticize his own party and to work with Democrats.

    So get ready guys, to switch from trucks to bicycles, leaving smaller carbon footprints, so hammer down guys.  And also have more people that have absolutely no experience in trucking telling you what you can and can’t do and how to do it.  Time for an official ratchetjaw heading the DOT.  Oh but hey, you might actually get some recognition by trucks being put on stamps instead of real recognition of pay raises.  Isn’t that special!

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    Misery Index


    Someone Has A High Postage Bill. White Powder Envelopes Sent All Over The World.

    12/18/2008 02:15:00 AM

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    LetterSuspicious packages and envelopes are being received at all kinds of U.S. government offices around the world and here in the U.S.

    Thirty six states have seen suspicious packages to National Guard facilities, forty governors offices have had suspicious white powder letters, fifteen U.S. embassies in Europe have received letters with white powder, and most have a Texas postmark. In October, Chase, the FDIC and a home loan company received similar letters with white powder, also with a Texas postmark.

    • Suspicious packages have been sent to National Guard bureaus and reserve facilities in 36 states.  An internal report from the Department of Homeland Security said 51 packages included anti-war compact discs, with one having a suspicious powder, found later to not be toxic.  All packages were postmarked from Tennessee and Oklahoma.

      In Draper, Utah at the National Guard’s headquarters, a package was received by a worker who “deemed the package suspicious because it matched the description contained in a security advisory received [Monday] from National Guard Bureau.”  The 85th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team of the Guard was called to test the people in the mailroom at the time to make sure they weren’t exposed to any dangerous substances and to conduct tests on site.  Those field tests had negative results.  Later it was stated there was no white powder in that package according to one report, but according to several others, there was white powder in that package however, it was later found to be non-toxic.

      In recent days the 28th Division headquarters in Harrisburg, PA and another facility in Coraopolis have received suspicious mailings.  Those mailings were out of Memphis, TN.  Lt. Col. Chris Cleaver, public affairs officer for the PA National Guard said the package included a DVD, a picture of the flat at the remains of the World trade center and “other items.”
    • Fifteen U.S. embassies in Europe have also received letters containing a suspicious white substance, and tests have shown 14 of them to be harmless.  Test results from one has not yet been received.  Among the American embassies receiving the suspicious envelopes were those in Bern, Berlin, Brussels, Madrid, Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Riga, Paris, Rome, Bucharest and The Hague.  All letters were postmarked from Texas.
    • Forty governor's offices nationwide have also gotten the letters, which contain an unspecified note, that have been sent since October.  Letters have arrived in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and West Virginia along with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. [If I counted them correctly..]  The typewritten letters are “similar in nature” and makes some sort of threat, officials said.  All those letters were postmarked from the Dallas, Texas area, possibly San Antonio.  The FBI has declined to say if the letters are specifically addressed to each governor or written to a generic “governor’s office” address.

      In Nevada, there has been two letters received.  One was addressed to Gov. Jim Gibbon’s Las Vegas office, and the other, received the same day, was addressed to former Gov. Kenny Guinn in Carson City.  After two early tests at the Carson City Fire Department lab showed the possibility of anthrax, the FBI took the substance to a more sophisticated lab, with the third test showing the substance as harmless.  Two false-positive results also came back from the initial field tests in Vegas.  Both letters had a Texas postmark.

      In Pennsylvania, the letter bore a Dec. 8th postmark from North Texas.  Wayne Boulware, the worker who opened the letter, said the letter contained only one sentence, spelled out in capital letters:  “ARE YOU AL QAEDA?”

      In Maryland, ABC7/News Channel 8 reporter John Gonzalez learned that the substance in Annapolis was a protein additive.

      The Florida letter, interestingly enough, was addressed to former Governor Jeb Bush.

      The Alabama letter contained a “harmless food substance”, and Christopher Murphy, Alabama’s public safety director, said the letter received did not specifically target the Governor, but declined to elaborate on what it said.

      In Missouri, a chemical analysis by the state health lab found the powder appeared to be a bleached flour.  

      In Wyoming, the white powdery substance was found to be corn starch.

      In Hawaii, authorities had previous warned the governor’s office to be on the lookout for suspicious letters with a return address from San Antonio, Texas.  A clerk to the governor found a letter from San Antonio, and called security.  That letter was addressed to the current governor, Linda Lingle.  A test with a confidence rating of 98 percent indicated the substance inside the letter was cornstarch.

      The letter received by Utah did not have a post mark from Dallas, and declined to say exactly where it was from.
    • Additionally, in October, letters, many containing a suspicious white powder, were sent to many Chase bank offices, possibly more than 30, and two other financial institutions in several states and to the New York Times headquarters in New York. At the time, more than 45 threatening letters had been received at financial institutions in at least 11 states.  “Most of the letters contain a powder substance with a threatening communication,”  FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said.   Those letters warned “it’s payback time” according to the FBI.  FBI agent Mark White, spokesman for the FBI office in Dallas, said in October that in addition to the Chase banks, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in Dallas and the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision in nearby Irving, Texas, and the Federal Home Loan Bank in Atlanta, also received threatening letters and a white powdery substance.  

      letters102308b_500 In one of the letters, addressed to the JP Morgan Chase CEO, Jamie Dimon, threatened a series of attacks ending in an Oklahoma City-like bombing.  The writer accused Dimon of stealing WaMu, which JP Morgan recently took over.

      ABC News reported that the threat letters sent to Chase banks were all postmarked October 17 and 18, in Amarillo, Texas.letters102308_500

      The Times letter did not carry a Texas postmark and contained a different substance, according to the AP.
    • Similar scares have taken place at the Los Angeles and Salt Lake temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a Knights of Columbus building in Connecticut in November.  In all cases, the substance was found to be harmless.


      FBI spokesman in Dallas, Mark White,  has stated on the incidents that “Once these letters start showing up, they’ll keep showing up for days because some delivery of mail takes longer than others.”

      FBI spokesman Richard Kolko says, “Unfortunately this sort of hoax letter is phenomenally common.”  “In the last two years, we’ve had over 900 responses to white powder or WMD issues, and that doesn’t account for the countless numbers of incidents that don’t make it past the local police and fire departments.”

      We get them from a variety of people,” Kolko said.  “A lot of times we find they are people in jail sending them to judges and lawyers, disgruntled citizens and kids.  It runs the gamut.  The problem is that people out of ignorance think if they send sugar or flour, ‘What can they do to me?’  Well, it’s a federal crime.  A hoax is not a joke, and they will go to jail.”

      RANT ON

      Well, there’s not going to be a rant on this one however, this is one of those new things that I will follow pretty closely.  Profiling on anonymous letters to people you have never met is something that’s not well documented, but it seems to happen quite often.  The Why? + How? = Who  on this is not adding up to me.  How this person is doing it, well USPS from possibly TX, if they aren’t using a mail drop.  Why is the question?  What happened in this person’s life to “push” them to act?  And what did this person plan on getting out of sending anonymous letters?  Personal satisfaction?  Did the person end up in a bad financial situation, lose their home, become depressed, lost “touch” a bit, and now blames the government for this persons bad fortunes? 

      Yea, I like reading mysteries…..


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    If You’re Planning a Trip to Washington for the Inauguration, plan to see LOTS of Military.

    12/17/2008 10:48:00 PM

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    rt_secret_service_obama_081211_mnIn fact, plan on seeing over 11,000 U.S. troops in Washington D.C. for the Inauguration. The Secret Service is in charge of the inauguration security as the inauguration is classified as a National Special Security Event by the secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Security, however, it seems that the Secret Service has tapped military personnel for the event.

    The U.S. commander in charge of domestic defense, Air Force General Victor “Gene” E.  Renuart Jr., head of the U.S. Northern Command [in other words, the military command that oversees security for North America], has announced that these troops will provide “air defenses and medical and other support in case of a terrorist attack during the Jan. 20th presidential inauguration.”

    Renuart said about 7,500 active duty military and roughly 4,000 National Guard troops will be on hand during the inauguration.  They will include a contingent on alert to respond to a chemical attack.  Others will perform ceremonial roles in parades, reviews, honor guards and so on, Renuart said.

    In addition, there will be at least 4,000 local police, 4,000 police from 96 jurisdictions, and security agents from other government agencies.  Inauguration organizers are considering a loudspeaker system to broadcast evacuation instructions in the event of an attack.

    Renuart said although the heightened security is “not because we see a specific threat, but because [for] an event this visible and this important and this historic, we ought to be prepared to respond if something does happen.”  Renuart said planners are working under the assumption that a terrorist or rogue element might try to interrupt the inauguration.

    It would make news for a terrorist element or rouge element to interrupt that event,” Renuart said. “So, it’s prudent for us to plan for the possibility of that kind of event, and to be prepared either to deter it or to respond to it,” he said.

    In addition, the Bush administration is planning to provide the president-elect with a series of contingency plans for potential international emergencies, including terrorist strikes and electronic attacks, that could occur after Obama takes the oath of office.

    On the Secret Service web site, one of the interesting security measures for the Inauguration Ceremony is, “There will be an enhanced security presence on the waterways around Washington, D.C.  Information on restrictions will be released at a later date.”

    So far, according to FOX News, the Secret Service has formed more than 23 sub-committees, each made up of federal, state and local experts to look at every possible scenario.  Malcolm Wiley, a spokesperson for the Secret Service says, “for instance we have  a subcommittee task with air space, a subcommittee tasked with civil disturbance, with the parade, with the intelligence.”  Wiley has stated the plan covers everything, “We think about it as a 360-degree plan, which means that we want to protect everything around us, everything above us and everything below us.  So, if you think in those terms, we’re thinking about anything that could approach us from any of those directions.”

    The Secret Service is even looking at preparing for cyber attacks, according to Malcom Wiley, spokesman for the Secret Service.  “One of the subcommittees that we have is our critical infrastructure group.  They’re tasked with developing plans that monitor and safeguard all computer system – telecommunication systems, electrical systems and other utility services.  Not only does this group work to prevent cyber threats, they’re also poised to immediately respond to anything with a cyber nexus to the inauguration.”


    Saturday, January 17th
    The weekend before the Jan. 20th inauguration, Obama will travel to Washington by train.  Obama will hold an event Jan. 17 in Philadelphia, site of the first Continental Congress before boarding a train.  Next, he will travel by that train to Wilmington, Delaware, where he will pick up Vice President-elect Joe Biden.  The two will then hold another event in Baltimore before finally proceeding to Washington’s Union Station, that same evening.

    In keeping with the theme of the 2009 Inauguration, “Renewing America’s Promise”, the Inaugural Committee explained the events are held in cities “instrumental to that promise:  Philadelphia, where that promise was realized; Baltimore, where that promise was defended, then immortalized in our national anthem; and Washington, where Americans of all backgrounds will gather over four days, united in common purpose and resolved to renew that promise once more.”

    Sunday, January 18th
    There is a welcome event on Sunday afternoon that is open to the public.

    Monday, January 19th – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
    Obama and Biden, along with their families, will participate in activities dedicated to serving others in communities across the Washington D.C. area.

    Tuesday, January 20th – Inauguration Day
    On Inauguration Day, since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, the president-elect traditionally attends a morning worship service.  It has not been announced which church Obama is planning on attending for this. 

    After this, the president-elect and vice president-elect will proceed to the U.S. Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony; the vice president will be sworn in first.  After taking the oath of office, the newly sworn-in president will deliver his inaugural address.  Following the address, the outgoing president will make his ceremonial departure from Washington on the west front of the U.S. Capitol.

    Next the new president will attend the inaugural luncheon in the National Statuary Hall at the Capitol hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC), a tradition that dates as far back as 1897. 

    After the luncheon, the new president and his entourage will proceed down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House, where he will review the inaugural parade from the presidential reviewing stand, which dates back to 1789.  Almost 1,400 organizations have applied to participate in the inaugural parade, which will feature bands, military regiments, Boy Scouts, tumblers and representatives from the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps – to name a few.

    After the parade, the inaugural schedule will become much more chaotic.  The president, vice president and their wives typically make appearances at a number of inaugural balls, many of which traditionally run well past midnight.  US News and and World Report is reporting that the Illinois State Society Inaugural Gala is expected to have Obama among its attendees, along with the possibility that Obama will attend the Hawaii State Society Inaugural Ball.

    Wednesday, January 21st
    Obama and Biden will participate in a prayer service.


    Security for the train trip will have to be extremely tight.  The train will have to be inspected, railways will have to be inspected, routes monitored on the ground and in the air, including bridges and tunnels; employees working for the railway will go through background checks, and security before boarding the train; and rail stations will have to be searched, bomb sniffing dogs will be around, along with all manner of unseen security measures.  Entire areas will have to be monitored while the president-elect and the vice-president elect are boarding or exiting the train.  An example of where crowd control and security will be heightened, especially in what is called a “soft target” area, will be in Baltimore, where city police have said they are preparing for a crowd of 150,000 at a currently unannounced site.

    As for Washington, the size of the crowd expected to attend the inauguration will probably be well over a million, with estimates being 2 to 4 million people, which would be double to quadruple the normal population of Washington, D.C..  Normally, people attend the inauguration and line the parade route, but with numbers into the million amount, combined with the fact that it is the middle of winter, will cause a complicated screening procedure.  People will be wearing heavy coats, further complicating the security screening procedures.

    For the first time, the National Mall is being opened up for those wishing to watch the inauguration.  Within this area, the 2 to 4 million people will be squeezed into a 2.5 mile long area.

    Then there is the crowd control.  Even when the crowd is passive and adoring, it will be difficult to manage the amount of people attending.  This many people in a small area, can easily hide erratic or suspicious behavior.  And if anything happens, or anything is mistaken to be happen, this could become a logistical nightmare.

    In the evening, are the inauguration parties.  Background checks on thousands of cooks, waiters, caterers, attendees, etc will have to be done.  Agents and law enforcement will be at the parties, monitoring everything and anything.  I wonder if they are brave enough to sample the food also.

    And meanwhile, the subway and roads will be packed if not impassable, with many roads closed.  More than 100 square blocks of Washington are planned to be closed off.

    The big issue with all this, at least from my point of view, is communication between the nearly 20,000 military and law enforcement personnel, between 57 different agencies outside the Secret Service, in addition to those who have personal security.  There’s the Metro Police Department, Capitol Police, Park Police, the FBI, FEMA, ATF, Dept of Homeland Security, you name it in law enforcement and security, they will be there.  Can they all get along in the Joint Operation Center?

    And can all of this be handed correctly, and safely for four entire days without being able to secure an entire city, all the subways, buses, cars, trucks, homes, businesses, government buildings, offices, schools, sewers, water ways, highways, alleys, utilities, mail boxes, lawns, trash dumpsters, and water system by shutting the city down? Let us hope so.

    Meanwhile, I’ll be more than happy to watch the inauguration on TV or on the net, in the safety of my home, hundreds of miles away, without the insanity of the crowds or the threat of anything happening, happily reliving my memories of Washington, the Mall and Crystal City from over 10 years ago when I worked in DC.  I miss the dim sum restaurant in Chinatown the most.


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    Obama Lectures Pesky Media For “Wasting Question” And My Personal Questions About Blago Comments On Obama.

    12/17/2008 01:28:00 PM

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    Gee, what a surprise.  Maybe Obama needs to learn, just like Rahm, that if you avoid the topic, you are going to just get questioned more.  Welcome to being a major part of government Obama.  And if you think that you can “pick and choose” which reporters to ask questions, that is true however, I’ve noticed that many MSM reporters, especially those in Chicago, are now asking questions in articles that we, the bloggers, have been asking for months.

    Now Obama has been much more “transparent” and open to questions in comparison to previous Administrations however, taking questions and answering questions are two completely different matters.

    The reporter in question, John McCormick of the Chicago Tribune, asked some very simple questions.  He wanted to know if there should be a special election to replace Illinois Governor Blagojevich, and about contacts with the Governor.  McCormick has a legitimate concern.  And McCormick is not new to asking questions on things people don’t like.

    I think Obama could have answered at least the first question on the first time, and then simply stated that he couldn’t answer other questions because he had been asked/told by the US Attorney’s Office to not answer them as U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald had asked Obama to postpone releasing the investigation’s results until December 22nd with Fitzgerald’s office later issuing a one-sentence statement confirming the request, so that it canconduct certain interviews.”  It’s not that difficult to say “I can’t answer your questions because I have been asked by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to not answer them until next week.  I am sorry, but that is the way it has to be to ensure the validity of the investigation.”  Is that so difficult?

    Instead Obama decided to be a jerk by lecturing and scolding the reporter and choosing to answer a third question by the reporter about his jump shot in what could be a Saturday Night Live skit.  The brush off’s and deflecting the press are now becoming more and more common with Obama and reporters.  And it is still yet to be seen exactly how much the Obama team knew about Blago, and if they knew he was selling the seat, then why didn’t they turn him in, especially since Obama is so hell bent on changing the corruption in government?  Is Obama’s own state exempt from being busted?  Especially since Michael Sneed, from the Chicago Sun-Times, even reports that Rahm is reportedly on 21 different taped conversations by the feds.  That’s a lot of conversations for just saying “Hello.  How ya doin’?” 

    Additionally, it seems to now become a trend with Obama to avoid taking a position on virtually every new issue since his election, wanting to only talk about his team, or what he’s going to do to change our world in his press conferences. 

    Mark Whitaker, NBC Washington bureau chief, said that reporters have not been aggressive enough during Obama’s post-election pressers.  “Our job is to hold him to account,” Whitaker said, adding that he thinks “we’re going to have to get tougher.”

    Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter followed up:  “We need the Sam Donaldsons of the world.”

    Today in another episode of the “Obama Show”, at a press conference just minutes ago, Obama was asked about how he squared his commitment to transparency in government with the tight-lipped response he and his advisers have had to questions about their dealings with the scandal-tarnished governor.  Obama said that it had been “frustrating” to maintain silence but that questions will be answered next week – which happens to be when he will be in Hawaii on break.

    It’s a little bit frustrating.  There has been a little bit of speculation in the press that I would like to correct immediately.  We are abiding by the request of the U.S. Attorney’s office,” Obama said.  “But it’s not going to be that long.  By next week, you guys will have the answers to all of your questions.”

    As Obama spoke, his political adviser David Axelrod and chief of staff designate Rahm watched.  Axelrod stood motionless, hands on hips, a frown partially hidden by his moustache, who was checking a message on his Blackberry when the question was asked, smiled in faint amusement, put the Blackberry away and watched the rest of Obama’s response with his legs crossed at his ankles, arms crossed and a single finger pressed across his lips.  He was still smiling.  Such a wonderful display of “superior mentality” in body language.

    Axelrod had previously said that Obama had directly spoken to Gov. Blago about the Senate vacancy on November 23, 2008 on FOX News Chicago report.  “I know he’s talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surface, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.”  On Tuesday of this week, Axelrod issued a statement retracting his previous statement.  “I was mistaken when I told an interviewer last month that the President-elect has spoken to Governor Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy.  They did not then or at any time discuss the subject",” said Axelrod.


    Another example of Obama “scolding” the press was when he made his announcement about appointing Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State.  When asked about how his opinion had changed so much from the campaign time, Obama replied “this is fun for the press to try to stir up whatever quotes were generated during the course of the campaign” adding that many things said were because of the “heat of the campaign”, minimizing statements he had said against Hillary Clinton and her experience in foreign affairs choosing to attack the reporter instead.

    Back on December 3rd,  Campbell Brown of CNN had a lecture for Obama about the press after Obama’s statements to the press about appointing Hillary Clinton:

    “There we go again.  The pesky media – all we want to do is have a little fun, stir things up for our own amusement.  I mean, really, how silly of that reporter to dare ask you, Mr. President-Elect, how it is that you completely mocked Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy experience just a few months ago, and yet today, you think there is no one more qualified than she to lead your foreign policy team?  It’s a clever device, treating a question so dismissively in an attempt to delegitimize it, but it is a legitimate question.  As annoying how you may have found it, it is a fair question.  It was only in March of this year that Greg Craig, your new White House counsel, put out a memo over four pages long, outlining by point Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy claims, calling them all exaggerated, just words, not supported by her record.

    Now, look, maybe you regret what you said about Hillary Clinton.  Maybe it was, as you suggested today, all just said in the heat of the campaign.  If that is the case, and you are both now rising above it, then you deserve to be commended for that.  And you could have been explicit in saying all of that today.  You could have explained the evolution of your thinking, instead of belittling a question you didn’t like.

    Mr. President-Elect, reporters, we hope, are going to ask you a lot of annoying questions over the next four years.  Get used to it.  That is the job of the media, to hold you accountable.  But this isn’t just about the media.  It’s about the American people, many of whom voted for you because of what you said during the campaign, and they have a right to know which of those things you meant and which you didn’t.  Apparently, as you made clear today, you didn’t mean what you said about Hillary Clinton.  SO, what else didn’t you mean?  The media is going to be asking, and you were wrong today.  Annoying questions are about more than just the press having fun.  Annoying questions are about the press doing its job and the people’s right to know.

    Many Obama supporters are pulling a phrase from the campaign, calling the questions about Obama and his team’s relationship with Blago a manufactured “smear campaign,” and harassment of Obama by reporters.   And in fact choosing different news outlets that focus only on the “good” of Obama, and not facts of everything.  I’m sorry, I didn’t know that asking simple questions about a major topic, that Obama has said only “We are not involved” or something to that effect isn’t good enough.  Please tell me when anyone has EVER taken any government officials word as the straight truth on a scandal?  Or are the Obama supporters simply ready to take Obama at every word he says without questioning?  Stupid is as stupid does, I suppose.

    And one thing that no one but Chicago newspapers, seems to be picking up on is that Eric Holder, Obama’s pick for Attorney General, was Gov. Blago’s pick to sort out the mess involving Illinois’ long-dormant casino license.  Blago and Holder appeared together at a March 24, 2004, news conference to announce Holder’s role as “special investigator to the Illinois Gaming Board” – a post that was to pay Holder and his Washington D.C. law firm up to $300K.  Eventually however, Holder was not hired, and Blago said on May 18th, 2004, that he was scrapping Holder’s probe.  Holder, however, omitted that  from his 47-page response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire made public this week – signed by Holder this past Sunday – five days after Blago’s arrest. 

    Obama’s team commented on the matter with Cutter, the Obama team spokeswoman saying “Holder and his firm receive no compensation from the state for this preparatory work.” She added that “The 2004 press conference was not memorable because Holder’s legal work for the State of Illinois never materialized.” Such a convenient slipping of Holder’s mind on the matter and such a lie.  If you are asked if you have had any relationship with a person, I think the above qualifies.  But according to the Obama camp, since Holden wasn’t paid, then there’s no reason to talk about it and disclose it.  Gee, I’m all “fuzzy” over how factual the report from the Obama camp on the internal investigation is going to be.


    My problem in all of this is with the media, is that many newspapers chose to not report important information during the campaign due to fear of repercussions of legal action and being “blackballed” out of interviews.  Why would the press actually start doing their job now?  And if Obama or any of his team members expect Fitzgerald and his prosecutors to be as accommodating as the press, they are in for a big surprise.  Just do a bit of research about Fitzgerald indicting and convicting former Cheney chief of staff Lewis Libby.

    Now Obama has promised to release the full account of his team’s Blago ties next week, but not before December 22nd, just in time for Christmas, right?  First, let’s see if he makes good on that promise, especially considering he will conveniently be in Hawaii next week for the holiday, thus unavailable for comment and second, let’s see exactly what and how much he releases.  Time for the first real example of how transparent his Administration is going to be.  Of course, we all have to remember that the investigation was conducted by Obama’s lawyers, and not an outside independent agency.

    Obama needs to realize that unless certain questions are answered in the upcoming release of the report, that this little press problem isn’t going to go away.  Notably, the question of which members of Obama’s team spoke with Blago’s staff about the Senate seat, the extent of the contact and whether anyone on the president-elect’s team knew of any illegal attempt by the governor to trade the vacated seat.  And how Obama plans to address the fact that Blago, according to the FBI tapes has been quoted to have said the following about Obama and the Senate seat:

    he [Obama] has to give this motherf***er, his Senator.  F*** him.  For nothing?  F*** him!”  And even if the governor were to appoint a candidate favored by the Obama team, Blago said, “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation.”

    If no one in Obama’s camp knew about Blago trying to sell the seat, Blago’s comments do not make any sense.  I am very curious as to how Obama is going to wiggle his way out of that one, claiming that no one on his team knew that Blago was trying to sell the seat yet Blago’s comment seem to suggest that Obama and/or his team refused to go along with the “pay to play” scheme.  The question remains of how Blago knew that Obama was not willing to give him anything in exchange for the Senate seat and with whom Blago was speaking with.  And the person that was speaking to Blago or anyone on his Administration report failed to report this to the authorities.

    It has been stated by Fitzgerald that “there’s no reference in the complaint to any conversations involving the president-elect or indicating that the president-elect was aware of it, and that’s all I can say.”  His comment did not close the door on the possibility that Obama or someone on his staff may have known of some aspect of the governor’s demands.

    What many people don’t seem to know is that Blago, according to the FBI, wanted an appointment to the Obama cabinet as Secretary of Health and Human services, a well-paying job, or huge campaign contributions as the price for naming Obama’s successor.  Blago was overheard by the FBI saying “I want to make money”, complaining he was “financially hurting.”

    And as for Blago searching for a job for his wife, “Is there a pay here, with these guys, with her,” to work for  firm in Washington or New York, he is reported to have asked.  In the FBI affidavit, it is stated that Blago had been told by an adviser “the president-elect can get Rod Blagojevich’s wife on paid corporate boards in exchange for naming the president-elect’s pick to the senate.”  No, there is no discussion of money, but a barter for positions.  That is still illegal.  I am very curious as to how that one is going to be handled.

    The bottom line is that if you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn’t get emotional over simple questions, even if you have to say, “I can’t comment now because I’ve been asked not to by the U.S. Attorneys Office.”  And if you have nothing to hide, then you don’t have a problem with an opinion on the entire matter.  And team members don’t conveniently “forget” about relationships with other people, recanting a few days later that “oh, I made a mistake.”

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