RNC Chairman Priebus Calls For Investigation Of Fundraising Activity In The White House

The Wire (RNC)

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus today called on the Department of Justice to investigate whether or not President Barack Obama broke federal election laws by conducting illegal political fundraising activity in the White House.

A fundraising video featuring the President appears to have been recorded in the Map Room which is not part of the White House residence, but rather “occupied in the discharge of official duties.” According to federal law, it is a crime for the President of the United States to solicit political contributions in a place of official government business.

Chairman Priebus has asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for the Department of Justice to investigate the matter to determine if, in fact, federal laws were broken by President Obama. Below are excerpts from Chairman Priebus’ letter to Attorney General Holder:

“It is with grave concern that I write to request a Department of Justice investigation into an apparent crime committed by President Barack Obama. On or about June 27, 2011, Obama for America Campaign Manager Jim Messina sent an email message containing an announcement he said President Obama wanted to make personally.

The message solicited funds for a raffle, of which the winner would have the opportunity to have dinner with President Obama and Vice-President Biden.  “If you haven’t yet thrown your name in the hat for this thing,” Mr. Messina wrote, “I have a feeling this announcement might change that.” Embedded in Mr. Messina’s message was a video of President Obama, along with a link to a website through which donors could enter the raffle by making contributions to the President’s reelection campaign …

“According to multiple individuals with knowledge of the White House’s rooms and layout, the video appears to have been recorded in the Map Room.  According to news reports, however, the White House Counsel has indicated that the video was filmed somewhere in the residential portion of the White House …

“As Chairman of the Republican National Committee, I have the responsibility to hold the President accountable for his reckless spending, for the unsustainable growth of government and the crushing debt he is leaving for future generations of Americans, and now, sadly, for his apparent criminal behavior.  I never expected I would be in this regrettable position, but the President’s conduct and the White House staff’s stonewalling leave me no choice …”

To view the full letter click here:  http://bit.ly/qhXJvk

3 Reasons why Paul Ryan Absolutely Will Not Run For President in 2012

By Shawn Williams

Everyday there’s a new Republican rumored as a potential Presidential candidate and today it’s Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. This post will be short, because there is really only one reason why Rep. Paul Ryan will not seek the Republican nomination for President in 2012. Still I went with three so indulge me.

1. The Garfield Effect

The only sitting member of the U.S. House of Representatives to be elected President was James A. Garfield in 1880. Only two other sitting members (Henry Clay, 1824 and John Anderson, 1980) have run in general elections. Anderson ran as an independent. (Source: Office of the Clerk – U.S. House)

Even then, Garfield was U.S. Senator Elect from Ohio. It’s hard enough for Senators to move from Congress to the White House. Before President Obama was elected in 2008, John F. Kennedy and Warren G. Harding were the only sitting U.S. Senators elected President. Had Republicans nominated a viable governor in 2008, President Obama would have been in trouble.

2. America hates losers

One of the reason so many Republican star candidates won’t run in 2012 is because Presidential losers have a hard time coming back. There are very few Richard Nixon’s in the bunch, who lose a U.S. Presidential election and come back to be elected down the road. There aren’t even that many John McCain’s who lose out on their party’s nomination (2000) only to win in later years (2008). President Obama presents a stiff enough challenge that 2016 looks like a much better year for Republicans hopefuls.

3. The Ryan Budget

If Paul Ryan were to become a candidate for President, his budget would be under even more scrutiny than it already is. He seems to be a smart guy and I’m sure he’s got thought on any number of issues. But the public would only hear about the budget, and any talk of foreign policy, energy policy or any policy besides budget policy would get lost.

With all that said, I wouldn’t expect a Ryan for President announcement any time soon.

Rep. Charles Rangel Holds First Bloggers Conference Call

From Rep. Rangel’s office

“This is an exciting new experience for me,” said Congressman Charles B. Rangel, as he welcomed a core group of bloggers who joined the 21st-term lawmaker in his first-ever bloggers’ conference call, on March 8, 2011, Tuesday evening at 8PM ET.

“Things are changing every day, and the Congress can’t do all that it wants to, especially being in the minority. It’s going to take more than Congress — people like you who has an interest in the country, who can talk with the community,” said Rangel. “This is also very helpful to me to see what you’re thinking, what my constituents are thinking, and that makes me a better representative.”

Moderated by Beth Becker, a leader of the progressive movement in the blogging community, the Bloggers’ Conference Call was Congressman Rangel’s newest attempt to address and champion progressive solutions to our country’s problems during these challenging times by working with online activists and bloggers.

Participants asked a series of questions, ranging from those concerning the “Republican war on State employees” and collective bargaining, to torture and U.S. foreign policy on Haiti.

When asked about his primary goal in Congress, Rangel replied: “Right now, if I had to name one thing that I would have as a priority it would be supporting President Obama. I’ve been here for more than 40 years, and been here through many presidents, but I’ve never seen anyone speak with the courage on the priorities I believe in.”

Rangel reiterated his commitments to education, increasing the number of people in the middle class, reforming the tax system so that the top 1% will not be controlling our resources, ensuring immigrants’ rights, and creating a type of economy where dreams can become a reality.

Overall, the conference call turned out to be a successful opportunity for the veteran Congressman to engage with a new, influential community and reach an audience that he has not previously interacted with.

“Thank you so much Congressman Rangel. I really, really appreciate you for taking the time to come in and dialogue with us via conference call and getting involved with the blogging community,” said a participant.

“This is my first time, but I have to admit, I found this an exciting new adventure and I do hope to do it again soon. I really enjoyed it,” echoed Rangel, as he closed the conference call by thanking the participants and inviting them to continue the dialogue on his Facebook page.

Coupled with the launch of the new website at Rangel.House.gov, Rangel hopes his Bloggers’ Conference Calls and future online townhalls will facilitate greater interaction between the Congressman and the online community to give middle-class America a stronger voice.

Congressman Rangel is currently one of the most active members on social media platforms, with more than 4100 Facebook friends and fans (www.facebook.com/cbrangel) and nearly 4500 followers on Twitter (@cbrangel).

To sign up for Rep. Rangel’s next Bloggers’ Conference Call, please visit his Facebook page (Discussions); or download the Visible Vote app via Facebook or smartphones to join him in his upcoming online townhall.

In Root.com survey Black Americans Assess Obama After Two Years In Office

The Wire

Readers of The Root.com have already weighed in on their opinions of President Barack Obama just in time for his State of the Union adddress tonight. The Root.com recently released the results of its extensive reader survey gauging how people assess President Obama’s achievements, exactly two years after he took office.

With more than 400 respondents identifying themselves as African-American, the results bring about a clearer picture than ever before of the African-American opinion of Barack Obama, as well as shine a light on the sharp divide between respondents of different races on how they view Obama and the overall racial climate in the country.

Some of the survey findings and data snapshots include:

OVERALL LEADERSHIP

Solid majorities of both blacks (89%) and whites (74%) rated his leadership as either “very effective” or “somewhat effective.” Still, 23% of whites rated the Obama’s leadership as either “somewhat” or “very” ineffective, versus 8% of blacks.

75% of blacks and 62% of whites said that Obama was addressing their needs. 29% of whites said that he was not, compared with just 15% of blacks.

MEDIA AND PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF OBAMA


The media had a stronger impact on how whites see President Obama, compared with blacks. 65% of whites said that their perception of him is influenced by the media, compared with 40% of blacks.

RACISM

Majorities of both blacks and whites agreed (94 percent and 72 percent, respectively) that “racism plays a role in how President Obama is perceived.”  A sharp divergent in perception, just 15 percent of whites believe that hate crimes, police brutality and injustice against African Americans have increased since Obama took office, while 40 percent of blacks say such crimes have increased.

EMPLOYMENT/JOB CREATION

Blacks and whites were nearly in agreement (37.5 percent and 40.6 percent, respectively) that opportunities for jobs and career advancement had improved for African Americans under Obama’s administration, compared with that of President George W. Bush.  However, far more blacks felt negatively about employment opportunities (32 percent) for African Americans under Obama than did whites (18.5 percent).


EDUCATION

3 times as many blacks (12%) as whites (4%) rated education as “important” to them.  4 in 10 in both groups saw either no improvement or a decline in the quality of education as a result of the president’s Race to the Top initiative, although a larger number of blacks than whites (38% versus 24%, respectively) saw some educational gains.


On programs that directly benefit African Americans — a subject that the Obama administration has considered sensitive — a small majority of whites (52%) backed the $850 million package of support for historically black colleges and universities. Of course, black support for this program was significantly stronger (85.6%).


“There are numerous surveys out there regarding the public opinion of Barack Obama, but what The Root’s survey does that sets it apart is hone in on the African-American opinion of our President and the way he’s handling various policies,” said Joel Dreyfuss, managing editor of The Root. “African-American support of Obama will be critical to his re-election campaign in 2012, and this survey identifies where black Americans feel satisfied in his efforts and where the President needs to improve.”


The online survey was conducted online from January 14th through January 16th. Participants were self-selecting. Of the 1,006 participants, 421 identified themselves as African-American; 386 identified as white, 41 indicated that they were Hispanic (which can be of any race); 15 identified as Asian; 58 said they were of mixed racial background; and the rest either indicated another race, no race or did not answer the question.

For more information on the survey results, visit: http://www.theroot.com/views/rating-obama-its-down-black-and-white

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno Hosted U.S. Trade Rep Ron Kirk for Export Roundtable

News Release – State of New Jersey Office of the Governor

kirk-new-jerseyTrenton, NJ – Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno held a roundtable with U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk and New Jersey business leaders in Newark yesterday to discuss efforts aimed at increasing export businesses in New Jersey.

The roundtable was a part of the Christie Administration’s ongoing efforts to increase our import-export capacity, as well as additional trade investment opportunities in New Jersey.  In the last month, the Administration has announced a number of actions that will encourage increased import-export capacity, including a memorandum of understanding agreement between the Economic Development Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey  for shared trade offices covering the Greater China and the European market, the investment of $1 billion dollars into modernizing the Bayonne Bridge, and the Global Business Advocacy department in the Business Action Center hosting upwards of fifteen different foreign delegations and trading partners in New Jersey. New Jersey is currently the 11th largest exporter in the United States, last year with over $ 27.5 billion in export sales

The Ambassador’s visit was part of a 50-state outreach by the Obama Administration to state and business leaders to solicit feedback on enhancing U.S. exports.  Included among the topics discussed were the National Export Initiative, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and the creation of new opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises.

“Yesterday’s conversation was part of a number of important initiatives our Administration is undertaking to ensure New Jersey stays a leader in the ever growing global economy, said Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno.  “I was pleased to introduce Ambassador Kirk to businesses already involved in exporting, as well as others that are in a prime position to begin exporting.  We realize the importance of expanding international trade and that’s why the Office of Global Business Advocacy will play such a vital role in our new Business Action Center.  New Jersey can be a strategic partner in doubling our nation’s exports in the next five years, a key topic discussed during the roundtable.

“I was pleased to be in Newark yesterday, with Lt. Gov. Guadagno and business leaders from across New Jersey. The roundtable at PSE&G was a welcome opportunity to hear the positive steps New Jersey is taking to increase its exports and create well-paying jobs”, said Ambassador Kirk. “The message I heard from these companies highlights the reason that the Obama Administration is focused on doubling exports from the United States in five years. The bottom line is that as USTR pushes to open new markets, New Jersey companies will be able to create more products and services at home and sell them to customers around the world. That’s how we put Americans back to work.”

The roundtable was hosted at PSE&G in Newark and attended by various industry sectors, including food manufacturers, shipping companies, pharmaceuticals, and renewable energy firms among others.

Attached is a cropped photo for media use along with below caption information: (From Left to right) Chao Xu of COSCO Americas, Inc., Ralph Izzo of PSEG, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, Ambassador Ron Kirk, Dennis Bone of Verizon, and Scott Buttler of CUH2A during a roundtable on increasing New Jersey’s exporting capacity  at PSE&G Headquarters in Newark, NJ on October 21, 2010.

House Republicans Offer “A Pledge to America”

From the Wire

House Republicans today presented “A Pledge to America,” a new governing agenda for the nation built upon the priorities of the American people. This document is the result of an unprecedented effort of citizen engagement – the America Speaking Out project – in which Republicans sought the wisdom of the people to aid in the construction of a new governing agenda.  By listening and engaging, Republicans heard that Americans want Washington to focus on matters like job creation, cutting government spending, and restoring accountability to Congress itself.  This agenda lays out solutions to those issues that can be implemented today, and House Republicans will call on the Speaker to bring them to the floor immediately.

Upon its introduction, Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the chairman of the effort to create the Pledge to America, released the following statement.

“Our government stumbles when it strays too far from the people it serves and the principles it was founded upon.  Right now, Washington has lost touch with both.  Americans are looking for a new way forward in Washington, and with this Pledge we offer a pathway to greater prosperity, security, and accountability.  Our pledge honors our founding principles, lays out meaningful policy prescriptions, and narrows its focus to those core issues on the minds of American families.  We understand that people are looking for job creation, spending restraint, and a Congress that works on behalf of their priorities.  Our agenda is a clear statement that Republicans are listening and have solutions to turn a nation and a government toward a better future.”

“A Pledge to America” can be downloaded in PDF format at http://pledge.gop.gov.

NOTE: The preamble to “A Pledge to America” reaffirms Republicans’ commitment to principles of smaller, more accountable government; economic freedom; lower taxes; fiscal responsibility; protecting life, American values, and the Constitution; and providing for a strong national defense.  This new governing agenda is comprised of five specific policy plans that could be implemented right now if President Obama and Democratic Leaders would allow it:?

·         Creating Jobs.   “A Pledge to America” reflects Americans’ demand for immediate action on policies that will end uncertainty for small businesses and help our economy get back to creating jobs.  This new governing agenda contains a plan to create jobs, end economic uncertainty, and make America competitive – including stopping all tax hikes, reining in red tape, and repealing ObamaCare’s ‘1099 mandate.’

·         Cutting Spending.  “A Pledge to America” embodies Americans’ rejection of the now-thoroughly discredited notion that we can simply tax, spend, and borrow our way to prosperity.  This new governing agenda contains a plan to cut spending and reduce the size of government – including cutting government spending to pre-‘stimulus’, pre-bailout levels, imposing a hard cap on future discretionary spending, and ending TARP once and for all.

·         Reforming Congress.  “A Pledge to America” acknowledges that we cannot get our arms around the issues of the day when we have a government that refuses to listen to the people and ignores their priorities.  This new governing agenda contains a plan to reform Congress and restore trust – including implementing ‘read the bill’ reform, allowing for more open and fair debate, and requiring that every bill contain a citation of Constitutional authority.

·         Repealing and Replacing The Job-Killing Health Care Law.  “A Pledge to America” recognizes that the American people continue to squarely oppose the government takeover of health care, with its higher costs, higher taxes, job-killing mandates, and Medicare cuts to pay for a massive new entitlement.  This new governing agenda contains a plan to repeal and replace the job-killing health care law with common-sense reforms focused on lowering costs and protecting American jobs.

·         A Strong National Defense.  “A Pledge to America” reinforces Congress’s responsibility to help provide for a strong national defense and determine a coherent strategy to confront and defeat the terrorist threat.  This new governing agenda contains a plan to keep our nation secure at home and abroad – including passing clean troop funding bills, keeping terrorists off American soil, and fully funding missile defense.

You can download the House Republicans’ “A Pledge to America” at http://pledge.gop.gov.

DGA to Fox News: Time to Add Disclaimer after $1 million GOP Donation

Dallas South Newswire

Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, contacted Fox News CEO Roger Ailes today to demand that his news division add a formal disclaimer during segments about the 2010 election to inform viewers that Fox’s parent company provided an unprecedented $1 million contribution to defeat Democratic governors in 2010.

The letter goes on to state: “For the first time in history, your organization is openly and proudly supporting the defeat of Democratic governors with an unprecedented political contribution of $1 million to the Republican Governors Association. In fact, your company provided the single largest corporate contribution to our opposition…. As you are well aware, the stakes could not be higher in the 37 gubernatorial races this election cycle.”

Mr. Roger Ailes
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President
Fox News Channel
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
and VIA EMAIL

Dear Mr. Ailes,

For the first time in history, your organization is openly and proudly supporting the defeat of Democratic governors with an unprecedented political contribution of $1 million to the Republican Governors Association. In fact, your company provided the single largest corporate contribution to our opposition.

In the interest of some fairness and balance, I request that you add a formal disclaimer to your news coverage any time any of your programs cover governors or gubernatorial races between now and Election Day. I suggest that the disclaimer say: “News Corp., parent company of Fox News, provided $1 million to defeat Democratic governors in November.” If you do not add a disclaimer, I request that you and your staff members on the “fair and balanced” side of the network demand that the contribution be returned.

As you are well aware, the stakes could not be higher in the 37 gubernatorial races this election cycle. Your corporation and your allies know well that these races have grave and substantial implications for Congressional redistricting. In fact, your allies in the GOP hope to change our election map for decades by electing governors who will redraw 30 seats into Republican territory.

I look forward to hearing from you – or any of your programs – at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

nathan-daschle

Nathan Daschle

P.S. Many news outlets have covered this controversy, but your own news programs have been strangely silent. I am available to appear on any of your programs to discuss the case for Democratic governors – particularly why our governors best for business growth. Despite my efforts to immediately reach out to your news programs, more than a dozen requests were ignored.

Cc: Bret Baier
Carl Cameron
Gretchen Carlson
Neil Cavuto
Steve Doocy
Trace Gallagher
Major Garrett
Sean Hannity
Bill Hemmer
Brian Kilmeade
Megyn Kelly
Martha MacCallum
Bill O’Reilly
Jon Scott
Shepard Smith
Greta Van Susteren
Chris Wallace

President Obama’s Engagement in Africa

From the Office of the Press Secretary

In 2010, seventeen countries across sub-Saharan Africa celebrate fifty years of independence.  In honor of this important historic moment, in acknowledgement of the extraordinarily young demographic profile of the region, and as part of an effort to forge strong, forward-looking partnerships in the years ahead, President Obama is hosting a forum for young African leaders in Washington, D.C., from August 3 – 5.  These 115 young leaders come from civil society and the private sector and represent more than forty countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Accra, the President highlighted a “simple truth” about our country’s connections with Africa: Africa’s prosperity can expand America’s prosperity.  Africa’s health and security can contribute to the world’s health and security.  And the strength of Africa’s democracy can help advance human rights for people everywhere.

He emphasized that “this mutual responsibility must be the foundation of our partnership.”  And over the past year and a half, we have been focused on four areas that are critical to the future of Africa: strong and sustainable democratic governments, opportunity and development, strengthening public health, and the peaceful resolution of conflict.  Here are some examples of actions the Administration has taken:

Addressing Global Issues

The Administration’s approach to development addresses issues at the core of Africa’s agenda.

·         Feed the Future:  In 2009, President Obama announced a $3 billion global food security initiative that has the support of the world’s major and emerging donor nations.  To date, the United States has led international efforts to review nine comprehensive country strategies, commit new resources in support of those strategies, collaborate in the establishment and initial capitalization of the World Bank-led Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, and launch a new research and development program.
·         Global Health Initiative:  In May 2009, President Obama announced the Global Health Initiative (GHI), a six-year, $63 billion initiative which builds on the progress and success of PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Program on AIDS Relief) and also expands our global health effort and impact by including investments to strengthen health systems, improve maternal child health, address neglected tropical diseases, and foster increased research and development.
·         Climate Change:  The United States and nations across Africa are addressing the challenge of global climate change through the Copenhagen Accord and a range of international partnerships promoting clean energy technologies and climate-resilient development for Africans.  The United States has more than tripled climate assistance this year.  Support for international climate adaptation has increased tenfold, with a focus on helping the most vulnerable nations in Africa and around the world. U.S. climate-related appropriations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 total $1.3 billion, and the Administration has requested $1.9 billion in appropriations for FY 2011.

Strengthening our Partnerships

The United States has elevated engagement with emerging and existing African powers, and has recently launched three new Strategic Dialogues to that effect:

·         The United States and Angola have signed a new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and have launched a new Strategic Partnership Dialogue, setting the stage for improved cooperation on energy, trade, security, and agriculture.
·         Over the past year and a half, the U.S. relationship with South Africa has gone from strained to sound.  We have institutionalized the new era of cooperation in a formal, ongoing U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue and are working together on a range of issues from nonproliferation to agricultural development.
·         April 2010 saw the formal establishment of the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission, a high-level mechanisms to address issues surrounding governance and transparency (including preparing for upcoming elections), energy and power, food security, and regional security.

Throughout the region, through diplomatic engagement and support to key institutions and civil society organizations, the United States has promoted good governance as a critical priority for the region.

·         In Kenya, the United States has led international efforts to support Kenyan civil society and the reform agenda developed in the wake of early 2008 post-election violence.
·         The administration launched the first ever high-level bilateral discussions with the African Union.  In April of this year, Secretary of State Clinton and National Security Advisor General Jones, Ret., welcomed African Union leaders to Washington to hold the first annual high-level consultation with the AU.  Attorney General Eric Holder followed up on this initiative by addressing the AU Summit in Kampala in July.  At the ninth U.S.-sub Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, also known as the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), being held in Washington this week, USAID will sign a new partnership agreement with the African Union to advance prosperity, peace and stability.

Crisis Prevention and Response

·         The Obama administration conducted a comprehensive review of our policies in Sudan and developed a strategy focused on addressing our multiple policy objectives in Sudan and the region, including resolution to the crisis in Darfur and implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  We have named a full-time Special Envoy who has re-energized and broadened the multilateral coalition addressing Sudan’s challenges.
·         Following a comprehensive review of our policies on Somalia earlier this year, the President issued Executive Order 13536, the first E.O. focused on addressing the underlying factors contributing to instability in Somalia.  The Administration’s policy on Somalia is the first comprehensive approach to addressing the counterterrorism, counterpiracy, humanitarian, and security and political concerns facing the beleaguered state.
·         In central Africa, Secretary Clinton has elevated the issue of sexual and gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to a top priority, personally visiting eastern Congo in August, 2009, and directing that additional resources and innovative approaches be employed to combat this violence, end impunity and assist those affected.
·         In Guinea, the United States was an international leader in condemning the September 28 massacre, supporting a return to constitutional order, and assisting in the electoral process that gave Guineans their first opportunity to vote in credible elections since their country became independent in 1958.

Encouraging Private Sector Growth

The United States is currently hosting the ninth United States – Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (AGOA Forum) in Washington, D.C., from August 2 – 3.  Unlike previous Forums, this will be held not only in Washington but also in Kansas City, Missouri, from August 5 – 6, to allow for a deeper focus on agri-business.  We are also emphasizing the role of women through a two-week AGOA Women’s Entrepreneurship Program to provide tools to better integrate African women into the global economy.  In addition, as a follow up to President Obama’s Entrepreneurship Summit this past April, the Board of Directors of the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) approved on June 24 up to $150 million in financing to support the establishment of a private equity investment fund designed to invest in companies in West Africa.

High-Level Engagement

The most senior representatives of the Obama Administration have actively engaged on African issues.

President Obama directly laid out a comprehensive vision for U.S.-African engagement in Accra, Ghana, in 2009 during the earliest visit to sub-Saharan Africa by any President in his first year in office.  In addition to holding a meeting with 25 African heads of state and African Commission Chairperson Jean Ping at the United Nations General Assembly last year, President Obama has also held bilateral meetings with President Zuma of South Africa, President Kikwete of Tanzania, President Mills of Ghana, President Jonathan of Nigeria, Prime Minister Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe, President Khama of Botswana, and President Sirleaf of Liberia.

Last summer, Secretary Clinton traveled to seven African countries (Kenya, South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde).  She continues to host and reach out to African leaders on a regular basis.

In June 2010, Vice President Biden traveled to Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa to address important bilateral issues in addition to holding numerous in-depth discussions on looming challenges in Sudan and Somalia.

Malia Litman: Palin and Perry Deserve Each Other

By Malia Litman – Malia Litman’s Blog

Sarah Palin spoke this weekend at the Oil Palace in Tyler, Texas, a small town in East Texas. She was introduced at the event by Texas Governor Rick Perry, who referred to half-term-ex-Governor Palin as one of the “great Americans of our time.”  Certainly Perry and Palin have many things in common, not the least of which is a total lack of respect for the truth.

Consider the similarity in the willingness of Palin and Perry to lie.  While many examples of the lies of Palin have filled pages of this blog for months, I have worked hard to limit my comments to Palin.  I have intentionally refrained from sharing my feelings about Rick Perry.  Perry’s description of Palin at the Tyler event has come close to putting me into a coma. My doctor has indicated that the only potentially therapeutic treatment for my condition is to write.  Thus I ask you to consider the similarities between Palin and Perry:

1. Both Have Been On the Cover of Newsweek Magazine

Palin:  “Saint Sarah” graced the cover in June.

Perry: Perry was featured with the title “Don’t Mess with Texas”.

2. Both Claim to be “Fiscal Conservatives”

Palin: Palin has described herself as a “fiscal conservative”. Palin said she was opposed to federal earmarks for Alaska, but she hired a lobbyist for Wasilla and received millions of dollars in federal funding.  Palin said she opposed to the Bridge to Nowhere, but she originally favored it. She said she opposed to earmarks, but the truth is that she accepted millions of dollars to study the genetics of harbor seals and the mating habits of crabs.

Perry:  Before Palin quit her job as Governor of Alaska, she endorsed Rick Perry.  Palin described Perry as a “true conservative”.   She cited one of Perry’s top campaign issues as his opposition to federal financial bailouts. The truth is that Texas, under Perry’s fiscal conservative leadership, has accepted $16 billion in federal stimulus funds.  The state of Texas is in the throws of a financial crisis, with approximately $18 billion in debt. Given the financial crisis in Texas, and given the identification of the financial crisis as a “top issue”, one would expect the Governor to be devoting extra time to his job, and to solving the financial problems of the state.  In 21 weeks of work, Perry enjoyed 16 long weekends and worked an average of seven hours per week. Do you think he has solved the financial crisis yet?

“How long will the folks in Washington keep spending money that they don’t have, for solutions they haven’t thought through, for problems they really don’t understand?” Perry asked.

The Wall Street Journal noted that the stimulus is the reason that Texas has a balanced budget. State debt has doubled during Perry’s term as Governor, but fortunately for him he has had time to write a book by the title, “Fed Up.”  His publisher described the book as describing federal policies as a “legitimate threat to America’s continued leadership in the free world.”

Rick Perry, the true fiscal conservative, has spent taxpayer’s money for items including:

    1. Over $130,000 for parties, food, drinks and cable TV.
    2. At least $18,000 for “consumables” such as household supplies and cleaning products.
    3. A $1,000 “emergency repair” of the Governor’s filtered ice machine.
    4. A $700 clothes rack.
    5. A little over $70 for a two year subscription to Food & Wine Magazine (probably to give him ideas on throwing all of those lavish parties at our expense!).
    6. Maintenance on the heated pool has cost taxpayers at least $8,400.
    7. Grounds and lawn maintenance has topped $44,000.
    8. A 6,386-square-foot rental home located on three acres of land and which was advertised in 2007 for sale at $1.85 million. The Governor’s mansion only had 2,750 square feet.
    9. He has only one housekeeper, on full-time chef, one part-time chef, a mansion administrator, and a steward.  The salary for these servants is $195,770.00.

3. Both SAY They Advocate Transparency in Government

Palin:   Sarah Palin has explained the importance in making the financial matters of public record.

Perry: Perry also says he demands transparency in government, but ignored state law, and his own executive order, that required all state agencies to be “accountable and transparent.” It was the stimulus spending information that he conveniently failed to post. Perhaps “opaque” would have been a better choice of words for Rick Perry’s budget.

4. Both Sued the Federal Government on Environmental Matters

Palin:  Before Palin resigned as Governor of Alaska she sued the Federal Government seeking to remove polar bears from the endangered species list.

Perry: Rick Perry sued the EPA over its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

5. Both Shoot Animals for Pleasure

Palin: Palin and her parents have a long history of killing animals.  Both Palin and her parents surround themselves with proof of the animals they have killed.

Perry: Perry has been known to jog with a laser cited pistol, and shoot animals during his morning run.  Even Fox “News” reporters found this story a little frightening.

6. Both Have Been Associated with Seceding from the U.S.

Palin Todd, Sarah husband, was a member of the Alaska Independence Party for 6 years.  The primary focus of the party was secession from the United States. The Alaska Independence Party was founded by the “rabidly violent” anti-American Joe Vogler, who is quoted as saying, “I’m an Alaskan, not an American.”  “I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions,” Palin herself provided the opening remarks to the Alaskan Independent Party Convention of 2008, saying:

“I am delighted to welcome you to the 2008 Alaskan Independence Party Convention….I share your party’s vision of upholding the Constitution of the State…Your Party plays an important role in the State’s Politics… We have a great promise to be a self-sufficient state…Keep up the good work, and God Bless You.”

Perry: Rick Perry made national headlines when he said:

“We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

7. Both Sound More Like Preachers than Politicians

Palin: Of course Palin is no longer a politician.  In an interview she was asked:

“Do you think the mainstream media and the left understands your religious faith, Governor Palin?” Her answer: “I think that there’s a lot of mocking of my personal faith,” she said. “And my personal faith is very, very simple. I don’t belong to any church”.

Palin has repeatedly advocated prayer as a solution to the countries many challenges.  Her solution is to seek divine intervention.  In religious gatherings she has asked the congregation to pray that the war in Iraq is “God’s plan”, and she has asked the congregants to pray for a $30 billion national gas pipeline.  Sometimes with Palin it’s hard to remember if you are in a prayer meeting or a legislative session.

Perry: Perry has been compared to a “tent revival preacher.” Perry has said:

“We are in a struggle for the heart and soul of our nation…Do we believe in the primacy of an unrestrained federal government? Or do we worship the God of the universe, placing our trust in his eternal, natural laws, and defending his children?”

8. Both Are In Bed With BP

Palin:  In spite of the many examples of the violations of safety standards by BP in Alaska, Palin has blamed the environmentalists for the Gulf Oil spill. In her Facebook post Palin made reference to the “extreme greenies,” and used the BP spill as a reason to justify drilling in ANWR.

Palin’s history with BP is extensive.  Of course her husband worked 18 years for BP.  As early as 1995 Palin was aware that BP admitted to felony charges for environmental crimes on the North Slope (Palin 95).  She was also aware that BP had actually injected illegal and hazardous substances into wells to save money (95).  Palin’s history of knowledge of the atrocities committed by BP is long and colorful.

Before resigning as Governor, Palin admits that she knew:

“…that BP had been trying to save money for years by cutting corners on oil pipeline maintenance on the North Slope.  This was very serious: leaks and spills from corroded pipelines were all too common and harmed the environment…” (153).

The largest land spill in the country occurred at the BP Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska, in 2006. An estimated 212,252 gallons of oil leaked from a BP Oil Transit Line.  Even today the consequences of that spill still linger.  Palin was sworn in as Governor in December of 2006. Thus not only was she aware of BP’s history of conscious indifference to safety regulations, but she was Governor during the time of the clean up, and the suit by the EPA.  In March of 2009, before resigning as Governor, the EPA sued BP for a string of violations related to the spills in Alaska.  The EPA alleged federal violations related to numerous problems with BP’s operational practices at Prudhoe Bay.  That suit, seeking tens of millions of dollars, alleged that the company failed to implement an acceptable spill-prevention and control plan and was delinquent in repairing pipelines which they were under federal orders to fix.

Perry: Perry has suggested that the Gulf Oil disaster was:

“…just an act of God that occurred… From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented.”

Perry’s first instinct after the explosion was not to blame people responsible, but to indicate it must have been an act of God. Rick Perry went on to say that BP has “historically had a very good safety record from my perspective.”  He must have just forgotten about the largest explosion in the state of Texas, which occurred in 2005, during the time he was Governor.  The families of the 15 people killed and the 170 people injured in that explosion probably wouldn’t describe the safety record of BP as “very good”.

The Texas refinery was one of two BP refineries that accounted for 97% of all “flagrant” violations in the U.S. refining industry.  Not only was BP responsible for virtually ALL of the refinery violations in the country, but most of the violations cited were classified as “egregious willful,” according to a Center for Public Integrity investigation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration records.

Here’s a look at how those violations breakdown:

  • 760 egregious willful
  • 69 willful
  • 30 serious
  • 3 unclassified

Most violations came, according to the Center for Public Integrity, because BP failed to fix the problems identified as the cause of the 2005 Texas City refinery explosion. “The only thing you can conclude is that BP has a serious, systemic safety problem in their company,” Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, told the Center for Public Integrity.

As if the explosion and the people killed or injured, on the day of the Texas City tragedy were not sufficient to get Governor Perry’s attention, OSHA imposed the largest fine in history against BP as a result of its many failures at the Texas City plant.  In October 2009, just six months before the Gulf Oil explosion on the Deep Water Horizon well, OSHA imposed a record $87 million fine against BP for lack of compliance with safety regulations, and for failure to make agreed-upon improvements at its Texas City refinery.  The US Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis, reported that during 17 inspections since the explosions four years ago, OSHA found 270 cases where BP failed to comply with changes; BP had previously agreed to make.  Additionally OSHA found 439 “willful” violations involving pressure release systems on units at the Texas City refinery.

“The fact that there are so many still outstanding, life-threatening problems at this plant indicates that they still have a systemic safety problem in this refinery,” Jordan Barab, acting assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, said.

If Perry didn’t know about the safety record of BP, then he was grossly negligent.  If he knew, then he lied when he indicated the BP had a “very good” safety record.  Consider these facts to help you assess whether you think he was consciously indifferent, or that he lied:

1.  BP donated $250,000 to restoration of the Governor’s mansion.  When Rick Perry needed to raise money to restore the Governor’s Mansion after a major fire, he turned to his friends at BP. According to the Austin American-Statesman, “The largest donation is $250,000 from energy giant BP America.” (Source: Austin American-Statesman, January 30, 2009)

2.  Perry paid BP for jobs already in Texas.  Perry gave BP $750,000 to create 150 jobs in League City, Texas. It was soon revealed that, “50 already work for BP and live in the area.” One expert called it, “a classic case of getting paid for doing what you’re going to do anyway.” (The Houston Chronicle, January 13, 2005)

3.  Perry has been widely criticized for his Texas Enterprise Fund after a report revealed that almost half of the companies that received taxpayer dollars have, “failed or struggled to meet job goals.” The companies, including key player in the subprime mortgage market Countrywide Home Loans, have been given a total of $363 million taxpayer dollars. (Source: Austin American-Statesman, January 28, 2010)

If you still have any doubt about whether Rick Perry truly thought BP had a “very good safety record”, please watch this two minute video.

Of all the people who are, or have been, politicians, can you think of anyone who would have been in a better position to anticipate the worst environmental disaster in the history of our country than Palin and Perry?

9.  Both Are Losing Popularity

Palin: By the time Palin resigned as Governor, her popularity had declined from an 89% approval rating to 54%.

Perry:  Rick Perry is an unusually weak incumbent, and his opponent, Bill White is an unusually strong challenger.  Only 36% of voters in Texas approve of Perry and 49% disapprove. Independent voters are particularly dissatisfied with Perry, with 55% indicating he is doing a poor job.  White meanwhile is better known and better liked than most challengers running across the country this year.  Thirty-seven percent of voters have a favorable opinion of him compared to 25% with an unfavorable one, and he posts positive numbers with independents at a 35/24 spread.

There is one difference between Perry and Palin.  Palin resigned as Governor, and Perry is still the Governor.  Surely if people know the facts, we won’t re-elect Perry.  Please help me make people aware of all the facts, about both Palin and Perry.


President, First Lady to Deliver Commencement Addresses to HBCUs

White House Office of Media Affairs

This month, President Obama, the First Lady, and officials from throughout the Administration will deliver commencement addresses to Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the nation.  This weekend Mrs. Obama will send off the graduates of University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff Saturday, May 8th and President Obama will greet the graduates of Hampton University Sunday, May 9th.  In total, eleven HBCUs will receive commencement addresses from Obama Administration officials this year.

Other officials participating in graduation ceremonies include Secretary Robert Gates, Department of Defense (Morehouse College), Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Education (Xavier University), Administrator Charles Bolden, NASA (Huston-Tillotson University), Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President (Morgan State University), Melody Barnes, Director, White House Domestic Policy Council (Virginia Union University), and Ambassador Susan Rice, United Nations (Spellman College).  In addition, John Wilson, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, is scheduled to speak to Wilberforce University, Wiley College, and Harris-Stowe State University.

America’s 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are where generations of African Americans have gained a sense of their heritage, their history, and their place in the American story. President Obama values the historic contributions HBCUs have made in educating students who previously would have been denied a college education.  Many of these schools began during Reconstruction as small schools with limited resources; today these are some of our nation’s top institutions of higher education, nurturing our nation’s future leaders.

During a recent White House ceremony honoring HBCUs, President Obama spoke of the importance of these institutions to the well-being of not just the African American community, but to the entire nation.

President Obama said, “[W]e’re not only doing this because these schools are a gateway to a better future for African Americans; we’re doing it because their success is vital to a better future for all Americans.”

HBCUs are also critical to the President’s goal of achieving the highest percentage of college graduates in the world by the year 2020.  As part of the effort to achieve this goal, HBCUs will receive $850 million over the next 10 years as a result of the recently passed Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.  Combined with the $150 million provided to Predominately Black Institutions, $1 billion has been authorized by this Act to serve institutions with predominately African American student populations.

These resources are in addition to scheduled increases in the Federal Pell Grant program, which are awarded to low-income families and do not have to be repaid.  The Obama Administration has nearly doubled the aid available in the program from $18.2 billion in the 2008-2009 award year to a proposed $34.8 billion in 2011-2012, and the maximum Pell Grant is expected to increase to nearly $6,000 in coming years.  More than half of the students attending HBCUs qualify for Pell Grants and other financial aid.

In February President Obama signed a new executive order strengthening the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  Under the leadership of executive director John Wilson, the office is designed to serve as the liaison between HBCUs and the federal government working to increase the capacity of these institutions to participate in federal programs through grant awards, private-sector initiatives and public-private partnerships.

Obama Administration HBCU Commencement Schedule*

Saturday, May 1st
·         John Wilson, Executive Director, White House Initiative on HBCUs – Wilberforce University

Saturday, May 8th
·         First Lady Michelle Obama – University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
·         Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Education – Xavier University
·         NASA Administrator Charles Bolden – Huston-Tillotson University
·         White House Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes – Virginia Union University
·         John Wilson, Executive Director, White House Initiative on HBCUs – Wiley College

May 9th
·         President Barack Obama – Hampton University

May 11th

·         John Wilson, Executive Director, White House Initiative on HBCUs – Harris-Stowe State University

May 15th
·         Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President – Morgan State University

May 16th
·         Secretary Robert Gates, Department of Defense – Morehouse College
·         Ambassador Susan Rice, United Nations – Spellman College