Obama’s Lobbyist Connection

By Michael Isikoff | NEWSWEEK
Jun 2, 2008 Issue


Last week, Obama hit John McCain for hiring “some of the biggest lobbyists in Washington” to run his campaign; Obama’s aides say their candidate, as a foe of “special interests,” has refused to take money from lobbyists or employ them. Neither Axelrod nor his partners at ASK ever registered as lobbyists for Commonwealth Edison—and under Illinois’s loose disclosure laws, they were not required to. “I’ve never lobbied anybody in my life,” Axelrod tells NEWSWEEK. “I’ve never talked to any public official on behalf of a corporate client.” (He also says “no one ever denied” that Edison was the “principal funder” of his firm’s ad campaign.)

But the activities of ASK (located in the same office as Axelrod’s political firm) illustrate the difficulties in defining exactly who a lobbyist is. In 2004, Cablevision hired ASK to set up a group similar to CORE to block a new stadium for the New York Jets in Manhattan. Unlike Illinois, New York disclosure laws do cover such work, and ASK’s $1.1 million fee was listed as the “largest lobbying contract” of the year in the annual report of the state’s lobbying commission. ASK last year proposed a similar “political campaign style approach” to help Illinois hospitals block a state proposal that would have forced them to provide more medical care to the indigent. One part of its plan: create a “grassroots” group of medical experts “capable of contacting policymakers to advocate for our position,” according to a copy of the proposal. (ASK didn’t get the contract.) Public-interest watchdogs say these grassroots campaigns are state of the art in the lobbying world. “There’s no way with a straight face to say that’s not lobbying,” says Ellen Miller, director of the Sunlight Foundation, which promotes government transparency.


Presidential material? Sure, of the local dog pound…Of course, that would be unfair to the dogs.

Posted in Obama. 1 Comment »

Of Tyrning Wyrms.

As a card-carrying Right Wing Death Beast, also called, on occasion, a Jesus freak, God-botherer, racist, nazi and … a disgrace!…. I’ve been following the recent furore over the Bill Henson exhibition up in NSW.

For those not in the know, Bill Henson is a photographer. A very talented photographer who, while he takes remarkable landscapes, also has a predilection for pubescent girls. (Google images is your friend for that one.)

Bolta covered this story here, here, and here.

Tim Blair commented on it here and here.

On the other side of the cultural divide, we have Alison Croggan’s take on the witch hunt that is decrying Henson for a child pornographer.

Personally, I see the photos of young teenage girls without clothing and under evocative lighting as more porn than art, and while others may disagree and call it Art, that’s not at issue.

What is at issue for me is that in this day and age, when so many bleat about the sexualisation of children (and yes, I’m most definitely one of them), there seems to be some sort of blind spot in the minds of those who just don’t get that photographing nude 12 year olds might send a bit of a mixed message to those children we’re supposed to be protecting.

However, the wyrm is tyrning, it appears to me, with Jill Singer coming out against the photographs in this morning’s paper.

I tend to disagree with a lot of what Jill has to say, but I do agree with this piece, and find the confirmation that you don’t speak out against the Black Skivvy Brigade or else.

We both know Bill Henson, she better than I, and we also know the art world. It is a place where you tread very, very carefully.

Everyone is your best mate if you praise their work, your instant enemy if you proffer the slightest criticism.

And here was a photograph about to be exhibited by a man we like, of an image we both recoiled from instantly.

(Bolding mine.)

There are many women who tend to keep quiet about any discomfort they might feel about Bill Henson’s work. No one has a problem with his ruins, or trees of course, it’s just the young girls.

Another woman, senior in the arts industry here, tells me she has been ambivalent about Bill Henson’s imagery of young girls for years, but has remained silent for fear of being lumped in with the religious Right.

I guess that makes me of the religious Right, but your religion shouldn’t matter a toss in this instance. and I figured I was one anyway.

It’s a shame that women who are supposedly in control of their destinies feel cowed by their environs enough to not speak their minds and hence enable further exploitation of children.

Yes, I’m aware that I’m using emotionally-charged language, but so what? The fact remains that a minor child (presumably with parental consent) has had nude photographs of themselves taken and exhibited around the world and money has changed hands.

That is not a business agreement between equals, and regardless of how informed she may think she is, a girl on the brink of womanhood is not of legal majority and should not be treated as such.

She is a child.

But enough of that before I start some serious ranting.

What really has made my day in all of this is that according to one blog, it’s all…… wait for it….

Kevin Rudd’s fault!

(Okay, not exactly; I’ve just been dying to say that)

Bringing it back on track, over at the Sydney Arts Journo blog (h/t Alison), Kevni is given a severe smack on the wrist for coming out and agreeing with the majority of the population.

Of course, the fact that most of the population don’t go* to galleries means that their opinion shouldn’t count, so Kevni should have supported Bill.

My favourite comment I’ll paste in full, because it demonstrates beautifully that some people really can’t handle a bit of disagreement:

Writing anonymously as an advisor to one of Mr Rudd’s prized candidates in last year’s election, I want to add that on this one, you are wrong Kevin: very, very wrong.

Even your nemesis, John Howard, would not have abused the privileged and time-honored position of the Office of Prime Minister with such a knee-jerk, ego-fuelled, juvenile reaction to the unquestionable reach and INTENTION of Mr Bill Henson’s creative pursuit.

Your vilification of him, and the true spirit of Creative Australia will return to haunt you … just as we cautioned it always would.

While the election was fought on “New Leadership”, you have nothing of the nobility, maturity (artistically, culturally or otherwise) that Howard had.You are born of a media age, and this will go down the public record as the first moment in your Prime Ministership, when you didn’t read what was written and allowed your ego and sense of altruistic self-aggrandisement to rule your tongue.

Personally? I have always protested that you lack the maturity and compelling ability to read the road map forward to a destination suitable for the achievers in this country … not the reactionaries. There are hundreds of websites, Google them, that are far worse and far more easily accessible than this exhibition. They are pornographic. This is art. That was and forever will have been Bill Henson’s intention.

I am grateful for one thing. The people of Australia have finally seen you for the fallible, popularist Prime Minister they will tire off within months. But those of us with credit for your victory will hang their heads in shame. You have betrayed the true nature of reconcilliation because everyone can now see it for the opportunistic, grand-standing event that it truly was.

How easily your opinion is bought. How demeaning to our values of cultural signficance that is.

I love it when Lefty heads implode. Why this person didn’t see Kevni for the hollow man he always was boggles my mind. How dare Kevin actually disagree with what his supporters think?

Dude, Kevni was voted in because the electorate wanted a change, and he campaigned on being just like John HoWARd only younger and fresher.

He also said he had ideas, and one of the few things he did since getting into office was to pull together a circlejerk to try and find them.

The general population tends to be rather conservative at heart, disliking revolutions or revolutionaries (except on tshirts) and especially not being enamoured of blokes taking pictures of little girls.

Kevni is just doing what he’s always done – going along with the loudest crowd, and at the moment, for a change it tends to be the average aussie.

By the way, according to an Art Expert, Bill Henson’s photos are not pornography.

Well, I never saw that one coming, did anyone else and do I need sarc tags?

*I’ve been to a few openings, but it’s been about 4 years for me. And I no longer have a black skivvy. Sorry.

Posted in Temp. 14 Comments »

What the FARC Was Obama Talking About?

ABC NEWS/Political Punch

May 25, 2008 11:08 AM

Jake Tapper

“I have learned that when you are campaigning for as many months as Sen. Clinton and I have been campaigning, sometimes you get careless in terms of the statements that you make,” Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, said, “And I think that is what happened here. Sen. Clinton says that she did not intend any offense by it, and I would take her at her word on that.”

One reason why Obama may be so forgiving (even if his campaign was not) about Sen. Hillary Clinton’s assassination reference?

The man has been a one-man gaffe machine.

On Friday afternoon in Sunrise, Florida, Obama said, “how’s it going, Sunshine?” (Watch HERE.)

Wrote the local Sun-Sentinel: “It wasn’t clear if Barack Obama knew exactly where he was Friday afternoon when he spoke at his mass rally at the BankAtlantic Center.”

He did the same thing in Sioux Falls, SD, calling it “Sioux City.” (Watch HERE.)

“Obama starts speech with a gaffe,” wrote the Argus Leader.

But those are the relatively silly ones. There have also been gaffes of more consequence.

As ABC News’ David Wright and Sunlen Miller wrote, Obama seemed to either think Arabic is spoken in Afghanistan or he misunderstands the nature of military translators.

More recently, Obama as he traveled through Florida seemed to give some contradictory statements about Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and the Colombian terrorist group FARC.

On Thursday Obama told the Orlando Sentinel that he would meet with Chavez and “one of the obvious high priorities in my talks with President Hugo Chavez would be the fermentation of anti-American sentiment in Latin America, his support of FARC in Colombia and other issues he would want to talk about.”

OK, so a strong declaration that Chavez is supporting FARC, which Obama intends to push him on.

But then on Friday he said any government supporting FARC should be isolated.

“We will shine a light on any support for the FARC that comes from neighboring governments,” he said in a speech in Miami.  “This behavior must be exposed to international condemnation, regional isolation, and – if need be – strong sanctions. It must not stand.”

So he will meet with the leader of a country he simultaneously says should be isolated? Huh?

On Friday in an interview with the Miami Herald, Obama also used language suggesting that he’s not as positive that Venezuela is supporting FARC.

“When I asked him what he would do about the estimated 37,000 Interpol-certified Colombian FARC guerrilla computer files that indicate an active support from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa to the Colombian rebels, Obama went farther than the Bush administration,” wrote the Herald’s Andres Oppenheimer.

Said Obama: “I think the Organization of American States and the international community should launch an immediate investigation into this situation. We have to hold Venezuela accountable if, in fact, it is trying to ferment terrorist activities in other borders. If Venezuela has violated those rules, we should mobilize all the countries to sanction Venezuela and let them know that that’s not acceptable behavior.”

“If” Venezuela “is trying to ferment terrorist activities in other borders”? Just one day before Obama had asserted that Chavez was supporting FARC in Colombia.

I’ve asked the Obama campaign for a clarification and will get back to you as to what they say.

– jpt

UPDATE: The Obama campaign says there’s nothing unusual about proposing the isolation of a country at the same time a President talks about meeting with its country’s leader. (The Obama campaign cites how the U.S. is talking to North Korea via the Six-Party talks as an example. Though it might be observed, those diplomatic efforts are quite different than a presidential-level meeting.) 

As for the statement, and then the very qualified “if” statement about Chavez and FARC, the Obama campaign says Obama is laying out his principles. The U.S. government says all the time, “If Iran continues its nuclear program,” the Obama campaign says. I don’t know. Saying, “if in fact” Venezuela is aiding FARC seemed to me at least to be different than saying “if Chavez continues aiding FARC.” What do you think?

UPDATE 2: So, I just spoke to an Obama campaign foreign policy adviser and this is how he explains any confusion.

Obama, he says, believes that Chavez is supportive of the FARC, both ideologically and tangibly. The Obama campaign disagrees that Obama’s language — “if, in fact, it (Chavez) is trying to ferment terrorist activities in other borders” — is hedging language at all. Obama has been very clear that he believes that Chavez is supportive of the FARC, the adviser says.

As to the question of whether one can pledge to isolate a country while also proposing a presidential-level meeting, the adviser says that I was inaccurate in characterizing Obama as proposing such a meeting — the reality was that Obama was merely acknowledging a willingness to meet.

But “if we are going to isolate the Venezuelans, it may be that we have to engage in a full-on diplomatic strategy with them,” the adviser says. Obama was not saying he, himself, would propose such a meeting, nor that he would necessarily participate in that meeting. When Obama referred to “my talks with President Hugo Chavez,” he did not mean “my talks,” literally (necessarily) — he meant his administration’s talks — “though it could be him engaging in this diplomacy directly and personally,” the adviser says. The point is, all the tools need to be in the diplomacy kit — isolation, willingness to hold presidential meetings, and everything in between.

Got it?

How did this guy ever have children? Actually the question SHOULD be…Why did this guy have children?

Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds


Will Obama Free Cuba? Barack Obama’s new Cuba policy may be based on “libertad,” but it’s unlikely to lead to freedom for the island nation’s people.


Barack Obama addressed the once powerful Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) on May 23. His Miami speech is still reverberating in the news media and across the Internet.

Obama toughens stance on Cuba,” proclaimed one British headline. “Obama says his Cuba policy is based on ‘Libertad,’” announced the Associated Press.

But what did he really say that has the media and the pundits all atwitter?

Obama rightly pointed out that Latin America is a mess, but he wrongly blamed President Bush for this fact. For example, about Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Obama had this to say:

Since the Bush Administration launched a misguided war in Iraq, its policy in the Americas has been negligent toward our friends, ineffective with our adversaries, disinterested in the challenges that matter in peoples’ lives, and incapable of advancing our interests in the region.

No wonder, then, that demagogues like Hugo Chavez have stepped into this vacuum. His predictable yet perilous mix of anti-American rhetoric, authoritarian government, and checkbook diplomacy offers the same false promise as the tried and failed ideologies of the past.

Perhaps one of Obama’s aides should remind him that Chavez was elected in Venezuela in 1998, more than two years before George W. Bush took office.

Unfortunately, demagoguery and anti-Americanism in Latin America predates President Bush by several decades. Citizens of Latin American countries have an uncanny penchant for electing or otherwise backing anti-American caudillos (strong men). This has been exacerbated by Chavez’s use of Venezuelan petrodollars to buy influence in the region. In the last several years we have witnessed the democratic election of anti-American despots in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. How Obama would make it so that these candidates are less appealing to their respective electorates is not immediately clear, particularly when he has opposed free trade agreements with the few allies we have in the region.

It seems to me that Obama does, in fact, believe in his ability to convince murderers and tyrants of the error of their ways with his silver tongue and flowery rhetoric — as President Bush recently described past appeasers. I’m not so sure.

What is really striking about Obama’s CANF speech is how he characterized other political candidates as guilty of visiting Miami every four years, talking tough, and then going back to Washington while nothing changes in Cuba. Obama emphasized that he is different. His policy will be based on “libertad” (liberty). But the details of how he will achieve this elusive libertad for Cuba were conspicuous in their absence.

Presidential candidate Obama now claims he would not lift the embargo, a position that contradicts Illinois state senator Obama’s position in 2004. Yet it’s the embargo that is the greatest point of difference between most Republicans and most Democrats. Instead, Obama offers this minor modification to the embargo:

…I will immediately allow unlimited family travel and remittances to the island. It’s time to let Cuban Americans see their mothers and fathers, their sisters and brothers. It’s time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime.

Under current law Cuban-Americans can send immediate family $300 per quarter and visit immediate family in Cuba once every three years. To put that into perspective, the average Cuban earns less than $20 per month at his job working for the state. Under current policy they can receive five times that amount each month from relatives abroad. Theoretically, such Cubans can afford to quit their jobs and simply live off remittances, even under the current policy which is unfairly characterized by some as “draconian.”

If the goal is to make families “less dependent on the Castro regime,” I’d say we’re achieving that now. If remittances that amount to five times the typical monthly wage aren’t enough for the average Cuban then perhaps they should look to their “uncle Raul” in Havana rather than their aunt Juanita in Miami.

But would this policy tweak really bring libertad to Cuba? The current rules regarding remittances and travel restrictions were implemented in 2004, so in a sense Obama is advocating for a more permissive policy regarding remittances and travel to Cuba — one we’ve had before. Remarkably, that policy didn’t have the desired effect of Cuban libertad either.

As a matter of fact, the travel and remittance restrictions are easily bypassed by those who have true humanitarian intentions. Cuban-Americans can send unlimited sums of money to relatives in Cuba through Canadian companies that do business on the web, and travel to Cuba through places like the Bahamas or Cancun is relatively easy. Additionally, I’ve not heard of a single Cuban-American being fined by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (the government agency that enforces the commercial embargo on Cuba) for making a legitimate family visit because it didn’t technically meet the requirements dictated by current policy. In other words, the idea that the tightened restrictions cause undue hardships is a canard that is being used for political purposes in an election year. Isn’t this the kind of cynicism that Obama is supposed to be campaigning against?

Senator Obama claims to believe that going back to a more liberal travel and remittance policy — like the one in place before 2004 — is just the thing to free the political prisoners and bring justice to Cuba, but he doesn’t really explain why this time will be different. I guess it’s his confidence in that silver tongue again.

The reality is that Raul Castro will not implement important political and economic reforms willingly. If they are to happen at all he must be pressured into them, and the pressure needs to come from both inside and outside of Cuba. The president of the United States can use his bully pulpit to bring attention to the cause of the political opposition in Cuba and the prisoners of conscience. He can also use his influence with other heads of state to keep Cuba on the front burner. President Bush has done this consistently throughout his two terms. While it has not brought libertad to Cuba, today more people are aware of Cubans like the Afro-Cuban prisoner of conscience Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. They also know more about the reality of Cuban communism than ever before.

In essence, with his flip-flopping on the embargo Obama is guilty of what he is preaching against, namely pandering. His innovative strategy is nothing more than a minor modification to an existing policy wrapped in grandiose rhetoric: libertad!

Pajamas Media

Who helps this guy dress in the mornings? I mean, really…Who does?


Carter calls on next US president to vow no prisoner torture

Former US president Jimmy Carter on Sunday called on the next leader of the United States to publicly vow that his country would never again torture prisoners.
Speaking at a literary festival in Hay-on-Wye, in Wales, the 83-year-old said his thoughts were of “embarrassment, and horror, and despair, and hope that the next president of the United States… will permanently and on a global basis, vow that our country will never again torture a prisoner.”

According to the Nobel Peace Prize winner, torture “violates the basic principle that made our nation a great one in the past,” and Carter called on the United States to comply with international agreements it had helped draft.

He declined, however, to discuss whether current US President George W. Bush could be charged with war crimes.

In February, the CIA confirmed that the agency had used “waterboarding” or simulated drowning — a technique which critics say is tantamount to torture — in interrogations of three top Al-Qaeda detainees nearly five years ago.

Carter, who was US president from 1977 to 1981, was delivering an hour-long speech to a 1,300-strong audience, each of whom paid 50 pounds (63 euros, 99 dollars) to hear him speak.

He also called on Bush’s eventual successor to “begin a determined effort to bring peace to the Middle East during the first 100 days, and not wait until the last 100 days…”


That’s right, Jimmy. We’ll just let your Jew Hatings friends do the torture. You know, Hamas, Hizbollah and al-Qaeda. Just ask Daniel Pearl, he should know.

What a senile old bastard..Shame we can’t deport the old fuck…You are a disgrace, Carter.

World Record high jump set….

Medical Warning: Certain drugs and alcohol, do not mix well

Nursing Home Sex

Harold is 95 and lives in a Senior Citizen Home.

Every night after dinner, Harold goes to a secluded garden behind the Centre to sit and ponder his accomplishments and long life.

One evening, Mildred, age 87, wanders into the garden. They begin to chat and before they know it, several hours have passed.

After a short lull in their conversation, Harold turns to Mildred and asks, ‘Do you know what I miss most of all?’

She asks, ‘What?’

‘Sex!!’ he replies

Mildred exclaims, ‘Why you old fart. You couldn’t get it up if I held a gun to your head!’

‘I know,’ Harold says, ‘but it would be nice if a woman could just hold it for a while.’

Well, I can oblige,’ says Mildred, who unzips his trousers, removes his manhood and proceeds to hold it. Afterward, they agree to meet secretly each night in the garden where they would sit and talk and Mildred would hold Harold’s manhood.

Then one night Harold didn’t show up at their usual meeting place. Alarmed, Mildred decided to find Harold and make sure he was O.K.

She walked around the Senior Citizen Home where she found him sitting by the pool with Ethel, another female resident, who was holding Harold’s manhood!

Furious, Mildred yelled, ‘You two-timing creep! What does Ethel have that I don’t have?’

Old Harold smiled happily and replied, ‘Parkinson’s.’

Posted in Funny. 1 Comment »

I’m Curious

Rate My Poo

Something Random

A Story For Kids

I got given a book a few years ago by a friend. It’s a children’s book, written by Christopher Milne.

I’m sure you’ll be as impressed as I was.

Little Johnnie and the Naughty Boat People

Chapter One

I can’t say that I’d ever had much to do with Johnnie Brown before. We might have been in the same relay team once, and I think he umpired one of the lunchtime fluffing competitions (which I won), but that was about it. Well, wasn’t all that about to change! In just two weeks time, Johnnie and I would be at each others throats and our whole school would be split in two. For ever. It can all be summed up in just three little words. THE BOAT PEOPLE.

It all began with ‘Little Johnnie’, as the teachers liked to call him, being chosen as the student representative on the School Council – someone to put in their twenty cents worth for us rotten lot. “Johnnie Brown?” I asked my mate Stinky. “Isn’t he that nerdy kid from 6A with the funny eyebrows? Why would they pick him?”

“Because he’s everything you’re not,” replied Stinky. “He’s good, he works hard, he’s clever and he’s neat and clean.”

“Fair enough,” I said.

“In fact,” continued Stinky, “we were getting changed for swimming the other day and I reckon his mum even irons his undies! No way mum would ever iron mine. Once you turn them around and then inside out to get the full four days wear, what’s the point?”

I mention Stinky because he was the first one to notice. The smell of smoke in the air.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Temp. 1 Comment »

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself

I’m a bit late to this story, but Michael Savage’s comments on Ted Kennedy are spot on.

I also approve of the comment in the comments on that link, which says:

Remember the silence from MM when people on HuffPo and DailyKos where cheering about Tony Snow’s cancer. One loon even said it was payback for repeating Bush’s lies.

The lefties love to dish it out, but break into tears when it happens to one of their own.

Philosophy of Housekeeping (courtesy of Clara)

My Philosophy of Housekeeping

• I don’t do windows because … I love birds and don’t want one to run into a clean window and get hurt.

• I don’t wax floors because … I am terrified a guest will slip and get hurt then I’ll feel terrible ( plus they may sue me.)

• I don’t mind the dust bunnies* because … They are very good company, I have named most of them, and they agree with everything I say.

• I don’t disturb cobwebs because … I want every creature to have a home of their own.

• I don’t Spring Clean because … I love all the seasons and don’t want the others to get jealous

• I don’t pull weeds in the garden because … I don’t want to get in God’s way, HE is an excellent designer!

• I don’t put things away because … My husband will never be able to find them again.

• I don’t do gourmet meals when I entertain because … I don’t want my guests to stress out over what to make when they invite me over for dinner.

• I don’t iron because … I choose to believe them when they say “Permanent Press”.

• I don’t stress much on anything because … “A Type” personalities die young and I want to stick around and become a wrinkled up crusty ol’ woman!!!!


*see also, “Dust Bunnies make good pets”

Another Dick story. This time a sad one.


Thanks to Tim Blair for posting the news on his blog. I found the links myself though.

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