Obama’s Transparency – It’s Not Clear to Me

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I have finally figured it out….

I have finally figured out just what President Barack Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid mean by “transparency”.  Mrs. Pelosi has said repeatedly that this is the most open and transparent Congress to date.   How can she claim transparency when there are closed-door sessions where deals are cut with special interest groups and bribes for legislators?   I’ll tell you what Ms. Pelosi means.  She looks right into the eyes of the media and says, “We’re going to do this, and it’s going to be done this way, by this time, and we won’t accept any change or compromise.”   That’s pretty clear.

Harry Reid has his own version of transparency.  His transparency is that he tells people what the Senate is going to do (that’s the transparent part), then in closed-door sessions he buys a vote or two that will put his plan over, and then ultimately proclaims the success he predicted.   Come on, who cannot see what’s really happening when senators exchange their votes for millions of dollars for their states?  When Senators Nelson and Landrieu took Reid’s bribes for their healthcare votes and support, it was well publicized on conservative talk shows on radio and TV, and through conservative blogs on the web.  It became really transparent to Americans at that point that what was going on in Washington was “politics as usual” – or maybe on politics on steroids!   The audacity of the Democrats was that they believed that they can get away with such underhanded dealings  — even out in the open — because, after all, they had control in the White House, Senate, and the House of Representatives.  Who was going to stop them?   Seriously, who can expect real transparency when deals are negotiated behind closed doors, especially when only those of like-minds are invited inside and those holding opposing views are banned from participation in the sessions?   

Obama’s lack of his promised transparency has cost him in the polls, and yet he still spouts the same old rhetoric from his campaigning days, still tossing the blame for  everything on Bush, still holding closed door meetings with special interest groups and congressional leaders, and still has his czars and others with far-left political views in policy-making positions who are not confirmed by Congress or elected by voters.  Is that transparency?  Not in my book.  When Obama campaigned on transparency, the people took him at his word… And why was that?  Because that would truly be the  promised change and hope for a new way for  Washington to operate.  Who wouldn’t vote for that?  Only it hasn’t happened – and it won’t under THIS administration, for sure!

We were forewarned by deeds rather than words.  Obama certainly didn’t display any transparency during the campaign…. not about his collegiate career, college applications and transcripts; not by producing his actual birth certificate, not by explaining how he traveled about the globe as an unemployed individual of non-existent means, and other things – things that could be easily produced and would end the suspicions and speculations once and for all, assuming he really wanted to be transparent!   

How can Obama proclaim his administration is transparent when there are special considerations for individuals and certain groups, and when what should be public information is hidden from the public?  Again, what about the campaign promise of transparency, of the CSPAN-televised negotiations on healthcare reform which never materialized?  In fact, Obama has laughingly shrugged that one off as a “just one of those many campaign promises politicians make” – and as everyone knows ALL campaign promises can’t be kept, right?   At this point, it’s pretty obvious that we will never see the kind of transparency we had hoped for from this Administration or from Congress.  Rather, the type of transparency now being promoted is the transparency of some of our national secrets under the guise criminally trying enemy combatants in our federal courts – the kind of transparency that can cost us our national safety – or de-classifying important documents and publicizing interrogation techniques used on terrorists.  Just who is that transparency for?

As I’ve pointed out previously, Democrats say there is (by their own definitions) transparency in our government.  I have noticed, though, there are some differences in the “applied definition” of transparency between the Legislative and Executive branches.  The Obama White House tends toward (unintended) transparency where the various members of Obama’s staff inadvertently reveal things simply because the players can’t keep their stories in synch – or their mouths shut.  The Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the House do their “dirty” dealings behind closed doors, usually with a group of like-minded persons, and try to come up with a more palatable way of force-feeding their “transparency” to the voters.   (Occasionally, politicians seeking the limelight will spill some beans though.   I happen to be thankful that at least this kind of transparency has occurred because it has made for a wiser American public.)  

Perhaps the differences between the White House and Congress “transparency successes” are because the Legislative branch happens to have had a lot more experience with “covert transparency” than the intellectuals and academics who are presently making up the Executive Branch and staff.  Congress is full of professional politicians.  The White House is amateurish on governing in this way, having their strength in organizing groups.  However, because of the closer scrutiny by those on the right, and even independents, who have their eyes and ears open,  both branches have come up short on executing their types of transparency. 

For instance, remember the healthcare bill and the people who went to townhall meetings to express their opposition to HR 3200 and make their concerns known?  When it came time to literally push through controversial legislation on healthcare that apparently was in direct opposition to the wishes of the majority of the American voters (you’ll recall the uproar of the summer and fall townhall meetings!), Pelosi and Reid showed a surprising lack of understanding of the tenor of the public’s sentiment and their grasp of what the bill actually contained.  But they made no bones about what they were going to do …. that’s their transparency!  They had dismissed the fact that the voters were becoming more educated on the issues and beginning to become active in the process by using their freedom of speech to contact their legislators and following the examples of other grass roots organizations to come together.   The conservative and independent voters have educated themselves on the issues as well as having gained a better understanding of  “the game” of politics.  While these newbies to politics began paying close attention to the activities of their legislators, they are also began to groom their own to rise up to replace those entrenched and out-of-touch members of Congress.   

The legislators dismissed the American people and the subsequent polling that resulted from the discontent.  However, with the strong showing in NYC 23 and with Scott Brown’s senate seat win, there is a transparent national “routing out” of those who do backroom deals or who refuse to listen to their constituents.   One only has to read the handmade placards at the rallies and look at the polls to see this is true.  Concerned Americans are being transparent in their plans to unseat those who are not listening to the people who sent them to Washington.   The people are outraged that their own legislators don’t read the bills they are voting on, or even know what was in them.  Yet the legislators will still push for a bill’s passage while the people are aggressively telling them no!  The people  have had enough.   

The biggest mistake made by the Democrats, which  will cost them dearly in the mid-term elections is that they wouldn’t consider that the emotion which was demonstrated in the townhall meetings was genuine, and that it would still rage strong or be as widespread this long.  The people, who had placed their hope in the promises of transparency and openness and of a different Washington than previous administrations, were transparent when they expressed their concern all summer and fall.  They had grown tired of Washington’s favors and bribery, and they were expressing strong opposition to the Democrats’ type of “transparency”, yet they got more of the same.

Unfortunately for the Democrats,  the polls now reflect a sharp downturn for long-time incumbents who are up for relection in 2010.   (Just as a reminder, it’s not just Democrats who will find the going rough.  Some Republicans should watch themselves as well.)  Recently, public backlash has prompted several prominent, long-term, entrenched Democrats to”called it quits” rather than run for re-election and face certain defeat, and why?  Perhaps they’ve seen the “handwriting on the wall”.  Or, as Rep. Snyder (D- AR) said, “I want to spend time more with my family”.  Perhaps they’ve come to realize that there really IS a grassroots movement —  NOT the “astroturf”, as Nancy Pelosi called it — that has taken hold and spread all across this nation and it will affect real change in our government and restore hope to American citizens.  

When people band together in groups called “tea parties” and have an announced agenda of becoming politically savvy and involved for the purpose of routing out the politicians who don’t really care about preserving the principles upon which this country was founded, but rather make a political career for themselves, I call this a type of transparency, too.  Don’t you? 

The Scott Brown win has the Democrats scrambling to “embrace” the other side of the aisle, but they’re still missing the transparency issue.  They want the Republican “participation” but they don’t want to hear Republican input!  What they all should be doing is listening to the people!  We’ll see what happens over these next few months until the next election.   At this point, though, what the Democrats are doing is  pretty clear and transparent to me – more political games, not more transparency!

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ACORN Tangled Up in Legal Battles as Plaintiff AND Defendant

Saturday, October 24, 2009

You know, ACORN and two of its employees  have exhibited unprecedented gall by threatening to sue the “pimp” and the “prostitute” who stirred up a political hornet’s nest with their undercover videos.  To be precise, the attorneys for ACORN are relying on Maryland’s wiretap statute to bring a lawsuit against James O’Keefe III, Hannah Giles, and Breitbart.Com LLC, for the video recordings which revealed ACORN’s more than willing assistance and counsel on establishing a brothel which would feature underage girls trafficked in from El Salvador.  The lawsuit should fail, however, because it attempts to misapply the “wiretap” statute to the legal recording of a non-protected conversation.

As an example, do you remember Linda Tripp who recorded Monica Lewinsky’s sordid tales of her encounters with then-President Bill Clinton?  They tried to prosecute her under this same law.  But she was a more valuable witness for another case, that being the impeachment of a President.  She was given immunity for her testimony, but I daresay that they would have found it extremely difficult to prosecute her under that law anyway. 

 You see, the Maryland state law is not a “wiretapping” law per se.  It’s an “interception” statute that regulates the “interception” of communications, and that is spelled out precisely in the law.  In Linda’s case, it was her own phone that she was using.  And she didn’t intercept a communication, she was participating in the conversation.  In that same vein, it is easy to see that there was no “interception” of communications by O’Keefe and Giles.  In fact, it was, as with Linda, their own conversations with ACORN employees. 

If this law is used successfully to prosecute O’Keefe and Giles for exposing the corruption within the ACORN organization, then people with cell phones that capture videos and records voices had better turn off their phones while in Maryland to avoid the temptation to break this law at some party or event!

But ACORN has other legal issues as well, this time on the defensive side.  When ACORN went to Las Vegas and started playing what they called “Blackjack” or “21,” the activist group was making a far greater gamble than it could ever have guessed, or so think the Nevada prosecutors who are, by the way, Democrats.

There’s nothing wrong with playing the tables in Vegas, but the authorities claim that ACORN was using the common names of popular casino game as a cover-up term for paying workers bonuses to sign up voters as part of a quota system which is illegal in Nevada.  As a result of an extensive investigation, a preliminary hearing in the Clark County courthouse has put ACORN on trial for the first time as a criminal defendant. 

Until now, prosecutions for voter registration fraud have focused on the ACORN workers themselves rather than the organization leadership, and yes, the authorities have secured guilty pleas from several workers who have admitted to falsifying voter registration forms. But when investigators from Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller’s office raided the ACORN Las Vegas office, Ross says they found a paper trail that not only was ACORN organization itself aware of this practice, it was actually promoting this behavior.

In an interview with Fox News, Miller said, “We came across policy manuals that outline their policy of creating a quota system, which is against the law.  This, in fact, was something that was widespread and something the organization itself knew about, and it’s important to hold the organization criminally accountable as opposed to the individual field directors.”

ACORN, of course, has consistently denied that it had a quota for the number of voter registration forms, and that it required its workers to turn in a certain minimum number every day.  The organization does say that there were “performance standards” — that standard was “an expectation” that workers would find 20 new voters each day.  But prosecutors say ACORN paid a $5 bonus to workers who would sign up 21 or more voters per day.  That’s where the “code” name “21” or “Blackjack,” came in.  It was an alleged quota system that Miller says is the first step toward corrupting the entire democratic system. 

“These charges strike at the heart of having integrity of the electoral process. That’s something that is important in Nevada and the entire country,” he told FOX News.  “By filing these charges we are sending a clear message we are not going to tolerate these kinds of activities. We have seen voter registration abuse before and we are holding these people accountable.”

With the undercover videos from several offices done by O’Keefe and Giles, and the search and seizure of such incriminating evidence in the Las Vegas ACORN office, pressure from all sides has been mounting on ACORN in recent weeks.  But it seems that the “lame street media” would rather focus on the alleged illegal actions of two young people rather than go after the organization that counsels people to commit obviously illegal activities and cheat on paying taxes. 

There has been some other fallout from the expose’ done by O’Keefe and Giles, and the revelation of the manuals and documents discovered in Las Vegas.  The IRS and Census Bureau have since severed direct ties with the group, and even the inspector general of the Department of Justice is reviewing its own involvement with ACORN.  Other state and local authorities are also beginning to distance themselves from ACORN, while others are watching them closely, including Maryland’s own attorney general.

As of this writing, I haven’t heard or read anything further on ACORN’s lawsuit against O’Keefe and Giles.  But Las Vegas officials are proceeding with their case against ACORN.  And if ACORN is convicted, the Nevada ACORN operation could lose its tax-exempt status and that would have national implications for the organization as a whole — meaning that ACORN would end up with a losing hand!


ACORN’s WEB

Friday, October 9, 2009

Probably most of us didn’t know much about ACORN until just before the election last year.  As we are learning, ACORN has its fingers, if not hands and arms (whole body???), into just about everything.  If it’s political and there’s any money or power involved that they can leverage, they’re into it.  Just take a look at the organizations and individuals that are linked either directly or very closely to ACORN.  (Click on the link below to see how expansive this organization is!)

ACORN WEB 

And if you want to know just who really is behind the government takeover of healthcare?

We probably wouldn’t have known as this much about ACORN to this day if Obama had not been the candidate of choice for this organization.  It’s as if they have overplayed their hand, meaning that there was a more blatant movement by ACORN to get people registered to vote…. and “quotas” apparently were the method of choice for registrations, even if they didn’t exit or were cartoon characters!  Uh-oh!

There are alleged voter registration fraud cases uncovered in several states involving ACORN, particularly in Nevada where officials  have uncovered actual proof that the rank-in-file have been following a manual of instructions laying out how to register people.  It describes a pay-per-registration program, which in Nevada is a felony.  Some of these workers have already been indicted and in the Nevada case, ACORN is also a co-defendent.

Then there’s the undercover videos provided by James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles in several of ACORN’s Housing Corporation offices in several states that have revealed ACORN’s involvement in tax evasion practices, their counseling on how to set up illegal businesses, and assisting in making fraudulent housing loans. 

But we can go back years when Dale Rathke, the brother of ACORN’s founder Wade Rathke, was reported to have embezzled approximately $1M, which was supposed to have been repaid by Dale and a private individual. but kept quiet even from the ACORN Board.  And he was never fired.  (However, a more complete investigation by a Democrat Louisiana  prosecuting attorney is now showing that it’s more like $5M that had been embezzled during Wade Rathke’s tenure as head of ACORN.  It is becoming more apparent that corruption in this organization began at the top and has filtered down to the bottom.  Thus far, the blame for infractions have been pushed off on those poor shmoes at the bottom who have been fired or charged with their misdeeds. 

Just the vastness of organizations and the individuals who have ties to ACORN in either giving or receiving funding is very disconcerting.  Just how much more illegal activities are there to uncover?  The volume is overwhelming and extremely alarming.  Thus, it appears it will take an enormous amount of push to keep the pressure on until this gigantic organization with all it’s many, many tentacles can be examined and all the corruption exposed.  But it has to be done!  It’s a HUGE start in cleaning up the corruption that goes on at all levels in this country.

Americans are getting fed up with the government pandering to special interests groups like ACORN and their turning blind eyes and deaf ears when corrupt organizations are brought to their attention.  Most of the politicians are in bed with ACORN.  And they have been lining their pockets with kickbacks and gaining votes by granting favors.  It keeps politicians in power and rich.  But if those who are expressing outrage at this point in time will continue to rattle cages and act upon their disgust, these things can be reined in, and we can begin put a stop to this blatant corruption which is pervasive.

As voters, we have the opportunity over the next 13 months to evaluate who is and who is not willing to take on the challenge of cleaning up ACORN and SEIU.  At the end of that time, we will have the right and the responsibility to vote out those Congressmen who are sleeping with corruption.  And we will!


ObamACORN = Obamarithmetic (a.k.a. the 2010 Census)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

So, we’re going to have two of Obama’s pet organizations taking the 2010 Census – AmeriCorps and ACORN? Let me address the activities of one of those organizations and express why there should be some concern.

ACORN’s organizational practices are at minimum suspect. To say otherwise is to deny the evidence that is coming to light on several fronts. ACORN, however, is defending themselves against these allegations through public statements claiming that they had no involvement with illegal or unethical practices. Further, their statements claim that the blame lies with some of their employees, calling them “rogues”. This is an example of their obvious effort to divert attention away from their own responsibilities in these practices.

We have been given a wakeup call about how corrupt this organization is. A case in point — in regards to voter fraud — you may recall the 19-year-old young man who testified about being offered money and cigarettes to fill out 73 voter registration cards last year. He said that he had told the ACORN employee that he was already registered to vote in the 2008 election. In his testimony, he also said he did it because he just wanted to help out someone who claimed they needed a certain number of names in order to keep their job. He’s one individual, but his same story has been corroborated by others who admitted to filling out multiple forms to “help out” the ACORN employees who had been hired to gather names and signatures on voter registration forms.

If I were to give ACORN the benefit of doubt, I would say that at the bare minimum there has been improper training, or perhaps a complete lack of training of the individuals who are turned out to accumulate these signatures. But, it wasn’t only one individual gaining signatures this way, and it wasn’t only one individual filling out multiple forms. Take a look at this website and see for yourself. http://www.rottenacorn.com/activityMap.html/

So, this practice is widespread and has been going on for a while. It appears that with several people doing exactly the same thing in so many places that these unethical/illegal practices can only be proof that there is deliberation in ACORN’s practices to push through their agendas using any methods they can devise and get away with. And this has been confirmed by their own statements that the employees are “rogues” and it was their ideas to behave unethically or illegally. These employees have become nothing more to ACORN than pawns who are expendable if they become a threat “to the system”.

There is enough evidence of ACORN’s habitual wrongdoings that there will eventually be a full-fledged investigation of all their activities as well as an accountability for the billions in public funds they’re receiving — if those who have an appreciation for fairness and transparency will demand it. Right now, though, those who benefit from ACORN’s practices are remaining mum on the issue. Are we surprised? So, at this point in time, we have to deal with the fact they’re not being investigated with the same fervor that other organizations which operate under a shadow of suspicion are, even those who have not been funded with public monies.

But we must remember that what is at issue here is the integrity of the laws of the land. What is at issue is equal justice regardless of political associations or affiliations. What is at issue is integrity of the system of democracy that we’ve enjoyed and which seems to be slipping from our grasp.

Getting people enrolled in the election process is a very solemn thing. The right to vote is sacred to US citizens. As provided for in our Constitution, fair and honest elections are how the leadership of this country is to be determined, and we definitely need to know that the people in these leadership positions are truly the people that the public have been legally and duly elected. Stacking the deck in any way amounts to putting a corrupt leader in power through an illegal coup. It does not reflect the will of the majority and the result will not be healthy for the country.

The census information is just as important as voter registration. It is the tool by which congressional districts are drawn, how the numbers of congressional representatives are determined. It is how federal funding for educational programs, law enforcement, etc., will be allocated, and how economic policies are formulated. So, as we see the corruption in the way voter registration forms have been handled through ACORN’s practices, should we not be suspect of their handling of the 2010 Census? It is, therefore, very important that the census is conducted properly and honestly – for the good of ALL Americans.

It is crucial that the organizations which are responsible for gathering voter registrations or gathering census information should be above any suspicion of bias. Any individual who is collecting official information should be well-trained in the procedures and the importance of the accuracy of the information. It is vital that these companies and their employees should be screened carefully. It should be made abundantly clear to all that there are severe consequences for falsifying the information. And as with ACORN, the blame should not stop at the bottom rung; it needs to be pushed farther up the ladder – to the top if necessary. And for God’s sake, prosecutors should follow through if these companies or individuals fail to comply.

(Note: There is a discrepancy between what the “rogue employees” and the ACORN’s spokespeople say about how these individuals are paid. This is one of the things that definitely needs to be investigated.)