Posts by BobMcCartyWrites

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  • Americans Say Iraq Better Off Now Than Before War

    09/14/2010 7:09:37 AM PDT · 1 of 1
    BobMcCartyWrites
    When I read the results of a BBC World News America/Harris Poll released today that show more than half -- 57 percent -- of Americans believe Iraq is better off today than it was before the U.S. invasion seven years ago, I couldn't help but recall what Barack Obama and Sen. Harry Reid had to say in 2007 about the effort to free more than 40 million people from an oppressive government in Iraq.

    On Jan. 30, 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) introduced legislation calling for a phased redeployment of U.S. combat troops in Iraq (VIDEO).

    On April 18, 2007, Senator Reid said, "The war is lost" during a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate (VIDEO).

    MORE OF THE POLL RESULTS

    One in five (19%) say Iraq is much better off and almost two in five (38%) say the country is somewhat better off. One in five U.S. adults (19%) say Iraq is worse off today, and one-quarter (24%) are not at all sure.

    Men are more likely than women to say Iraq is better off now (62% versus 51%) and women are more likely to take a "wait and see" approach, saying they are not sure (29% versus 18%). Older Americans are more likely to believe Iraq is better off now than it was before the invasion. Just half of those 18-34 years old (51%) say Iraq is better off today, compared to three in five of those 45-54 (59%) and 55 and older (61%) who say the same.

    Although Iraq may be better off, was the war itself worth fighting? Half of Americans (49%) say the war was worth fighting, with 19% saying it was very much worth fighting and 29% saying it was somewhat worth fighting. Two in five Americans (38%) believe the war in Iraq was not at all worth fighting. There is a regional difference on fighting the war. Almost half of those in the Northeast (45%) say the war was not worth fighting while 43% say the opposite. In the South, over half (53%) say the war in Iraq was worth fighting while one-third (33%) say it was not.

    Americans are divided on the issue of whether the war in Iraq made America more or less safe. Almost two in five (39%) say the war made America safer while just under that (35%) say the war in Iraq made us less safe and one-quarter (26%) are not at all sure.

    There is definitely a gender gap on this issue, as well. Men are more likely to say the war made America safer (44% versus 34%) while women are more likely to say it made the country less safe (39% versus 31%). There is also a regional difference here. Almost half of Southerners (46%) say the war in Iraq made America safer while just one-third of Westerners (32%) say the same.

    The history of the Iraq war is still being written and there is still a lot of uncertainty to how the events of the past seven years will be seen. Even as the combat stage of U.S. involvement is over, Americans are not sure what the war meant for both Iraq as well as the United States. The next generation of historians will be the ones to look back and see what the post-Iraq war world looked like.

    This BBC World News America/Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between August 19 and 23, 2010 among 2,340 adults (aged 18 and over).

  • Government Transparency Causes 'Blindness'

    09/03/2010 8:07:08 AM PDT · 1 of 1
    BobMcCartyWrites
    If my experience with one U.S. Department of Justice agency is indicative of how the federal government operates in this new era of transparency, then I must conclude that transparency causes "blindness."

    Several times during the past 18 months, I've contacted people at the National Institute of Justice -- the research, development and evaluation arm of the DoJ in Washington, D.C. -- with seemingly-innocuous questions about a grant the agency awarded to a state mental health agency in Oklahoma almost five years ago. NIJ's answers would better equip me to explain to my readers how NIJ works. Unfortunately, it seems NIJ officials prefer I remain "blind" to what's going on inside the agency.

    Some background: Curious to learn details about NIJ's criteria for granting non-competitive awards, I forwarded several questions to Jolene Hernon July 28. After pointing out to my contact in the NIJ Office of Communications that less than one percent of the total amount of NIJ’s annual awards in 2009 was non-competitive, according to the Guidelines Regarding Non-Competitive Awards published on the NIJ web site, I asked several questions as follows:

    • I asked Hernon to explain whether or not the guidelines used in granting non-competitive awards have changed since Jan. 1, 2005, and, if they have changed, asked her to explain those changes;
    • Prefacing my request with "If the guidelines have not changed," I asked her to explain the basis upon which a particular non-competitive award was granted; and
    • Finally, I asked for a copy of the NIJ director's "determination in writing," as called for in the current guidelines, that the award in question was worthy of non-competitive status.
    I asked the final question above after reading on the NIJ web site that the agency's policy is to make non-competitive awards only under the following circumstances:
    • Only one reasonable source — instances where only one responsible applicant can perform the work of the proposed award. Circumstances under which this may occur include when the NIJ Director has determined in writing that:

    ~ The applicant has proprietary information or proposes a project involving a unique idea, method, or approach toward advancing criminal justice, policy, and practice in the United States.

    ~ The applicant has made a substantial investment in an activity that would advance criminal justice policy and practice in the United States. The majority of NIJ's non-competitive awards to other Federal agencies fall into this category. These agreements are developed to leverage the investment or infrastructure of these agencies to criminal justice application.

    ~ The applicant is the only entity known to possess the capability to perform the work.

    • Compelling public interest — instances where the NIJ Director has determined in writing that exigent, urgent, or other compelling circumstances exist that make it in the public interest to make an award non-competitively. One example of such an instance might be an unusual and compelling urgency to execute a pilot project within a short window of opportunity to affect a public policy decision.
    • Statutory requirements — instances where a funding recipient is specified by an appropriations act or other applicable law.
    • Recommendations in Congressional reports, when a non-competitive award would be consistent with applicable law — instances where a House, Senate, or Conference Report accompanying an appropriations act or other law recommends an award to a particular recipient, and an award may be made consistent with applicable law, including any applicable executive orders.
    I closed my request by asking Hernon to "Please let me know if you plan to respond to this as a media inquiry or whether I must submit the questions above via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)."

    Make no mistake, I have received several short e-mail bursts from Hernon since July 28, but none qualify as answers. For instance:

    • On July 28, she wrote, "I will respond. But it will take me a day or two to find out the answers to your questions."
    • On July 30, she assured me, "I am still working on getting answers to your questions."
    • On Aug. 12, she explained, "As I am not a grant manager, I do not know the system very well. So I have been coordinating with others here at our agency."
    • On Aug. 20, she told me, "The people who can help answer your questions have scheduled a meeting for next week. I will be back in touch."
    Today, after going 34 days without an answer, I sent this message to Hernon:

    "I think you would agree that 34 days should be plenty of time for any government agency to answer my questions -- unless, that is, they're trying to cover things up or rewrite history. Should I expect answers anytime soon? Please advise."

    What happened to the citizen's right to know? I'm feeling blind.

  • Ride to Raise Awareness About 'Leavenworth 10'

    07/30/2010 7:30:19 AM PDT · 1 of 2
    BobMcCartyWrites
    A motorcycle rally to support one imprisoned soldier has blossomed into a nationwide "freedom ride" to support a group comprised mostly of Army soldiers who have become known as "The Leavenworth 10."

    On July 18, Scott and Vicki Behenna, parents of Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, informed me that plans were in the works to stage a motorcycle rally to bring attention to the plight of wrongfully-imprisoned soldiers such as her son, whose story has been highlighted in several posts at BigGovernment.com and is now serving a 15-year sentence for killing a known Al-Qaeda operative in self-defense. Today, it appears those plans are coming to fruition.

    "FREEDOM RIDE FOR THE LEAVENWORTH TEN" will originate in many states and culminate the morning of Sept. 4 in Leavenworth, Kan., according to the Behennas, and Army Lt. Col. Allen West, a retired Army officer running for Congress in Florida as a conservative candidate, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the event.

    "The intent of the Freedom Ride is to bring awareness to how our soldiers are being imprisoned for killing the enemy during a time of war which one news commentator compared to 'giving speeding tickets at a NASCAR race,'" the Behennas said in a recent e-mail. "These soldiers, serving multiple deployments, are provided complex and ever changing rules of engagement and then have to deal with untenable 'catch and release' policies against an enemy the U.S. military generals have yet to figure out how to defeat."

    Organizers are also looking for celebrity involvement in the ride to help increase the amount of attention paid to the plight of soldiers behind bars.

    For contact information and ever-evolving details about the ride, visit the L10 Freedom Ride web site.

    Also, if you're not familiar with The Leavenworth 10, check out the links to web sites below where you can learn more about each of the wrongfully-imprisoned soldiers:

    1LT Michael Behenna

    SGT Evan Vela Carnahan

    PFC Corey Clagett

    MSGT John E Hatley

    SPC William B Hunsaker

    SGT Michael Leahy

    SFC Joseph Mayo

    SGT Michael P Williams

    SSG Raymond Girouard

    SGT Larry Hutchins*

    *Marine Corps Sergeant Hutchins, the only non-Army member of the group, was freed pending the outcome of his appeal. See this story for more details.

  • 28 Tea Party Groups NOT Endorsing Roy Blunt

    07/28/2010 5:49:48 AM PDT · 1 of 29
    BobMcCartyWrites

    Two days ago, I published a post, Roy Blunt NOT Endorsed by State Tea Party Groups, which included news today that members of three influential Tea Party groups -- including groups in Blunt's "neighborhood" towns of Branson and Springfield, Mo. -- have NOT endorsed Roy Blunt! Today, I received a news release outlining how a total of 28 Missouri Tea Party groups -- or 8,660 patriots -- are on the anti-endorsement bandwagon.

    Below is the text of a news release (minus contact phone numbers) received late this evening from a representative of the Springfield (Mo.) 9-12ers Tea Party group:

    MISSOURI TEA PARTY GROUPS HAVE NOT ENDORSED ROY BLUNT FOR U.S. SENATE

    The following list of Tea Party organizations, from across the state of Missouri, have NOT endorsed Roy Blunt in his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat. When we received a notification that Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a strong supporter of Tea Parties nationally, and the originator of a “Tea Party Caucus” in Washington last week, will be coming to Missouri on July 31st to make phone calls with Roy Blunt from the St. Louis GOP headquarters, and to be a featured speaker at a Blunt fundraiser that night, we were shocked. We believe she has been grossly misled if she understands him to be a Missouri Tea Party candidate.

    Tea Party participants believe the spending in Washington has to STOP. Roy Blunt voted for TARP and Cash for Clunkers. For Michele Bachmann to come to Missouri and give the impression that all the Missouri Tea Parties support Roy Blunt is an abomination of everything we have been standing up for. “Most Tea Party supporters I know will be baffled by Michele Bachmann helping someone with a record like Roy Blunt before the primary vote,” said Jedidiah Smith, a Tea Party leader in Franklin County, Missouri.

    "Missouri Tea Party groups are proud of our steadfast position not to endorse candidates and to remain independent of political parties. We encourage all voters to examine the voting records, positions, and values of all candidates, to determine whether they promote the core values of the Tea Party Movement: fiscal responsibility, constitutionally-limited government, and free markets." said Eric Farris, a Tea Party leader in Branson, Missouri. There are sixteen candidates running for the Missouri U.S. Senate seat and the consistent message, among Tea Party participants, has been to check each of them out before voting in the August 3rd Primary.

    Signed by the following Tea Parties (# of members), Contact Person:

    Branson Tea Party Coalition (246), Eric Farris; Buffalo Tea Party (102), Paul Beaird; Callaway Tea Party (52), Jeff Kauffman; Cape County Tea Party (150), Tom Young; Cass County (10), Dan Duckworth; Cassville Tea Party (100), Judith Mouser; Cooper County Tea Party (75), Daryl Bowles; Eureka Tea Party (497), Jeannine Huskey; Franklin County Patriots (860), Jedidiah Smith; In God We Trust PAC, Kansas City (500+), Kristi Nichols; In God We Trust Tea Party, SW MO (40), Greg Bartlett; Jefferson County Tea Party (600+), Ken Horton; Johnson County Patriots (100+), Jeff Merrick; K & N Patriots (O’Fallon) (650+), Janet Allquist; MID MO 9/12 Patriots (Columbia) (100), Chris O’Conner; Missouri As A Mom (415), Jacquelyn Ehrlich, Missouri ChairMOM; *Missouri Sovereignty Project (1,825), Tom Grady; Patriots of the Constitution (Salem) (167), Jan Abney; St. Joseph Tea Party (185), Maggie Siegmund; Show Me Patriots, Greater St. Louis Area (360), Cindy McGee; Sikeston Tea Party (400), Pam Yant; Springfield 912ers (203), Mike Crites; Springfield MO Tea Party (457), Janice Ellison; Sullivan 912 Group (50), Sandra Davidson; SW MO Conservative Network (Joplin) (280+), John Putnam; We Surround Them 912 Project, Jefferson Cnty & S. St. Louis Cnty (126), Rick Blowers; We The People . . . St. Francois County (55), Tammy Holmes; and 912 We The People of Monroe County MO (55), Ron & Martha Staggs.

    Individual Statements from Various Groups Follow:

    Eureka Tea Party -- “Eureka Tea Party believes that for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to form a "Tea Party Caucus," and then openly endorse a Missouri candidate (Roy Blunt) before the Primary Election as a candidate believed to be representing the views of the tea party movement, is extremely premature on her part. She is either working directly for the GOP as an endorser for GOP backed Republican candidates, or she is completely misinformed and/or attempting to mislead the tea party groups. The Republican Party, or any other political party here in Missouri, should not assume that everyone in this patriot uprising will follow their lead when told to do so, as we are more informed and aware of who we believe will represent the people by adhering to state sovereignty, fiscal conservatism, and the U.S. Constitution. Candidates should not be promoted based solely on popular endorsement by other politicians and special interests, but by the people reviewing candidates' past performance in office and their stand on current political issues.

    "We believe that Michele Bachmann is risking the status of her 'Tea Party Caucus' by taking this stand in Missouri before the Primary Election on August 3rd, and respectfully ask her to reconsider by NOT promoting Roy Blunt as the 'tea party' choice.”

    In God We Trust PAC -- “In God We Trust PAC has not endorsed and would never endorse Roy Blunt for the U.S. Senate. Roy Blunt does not stand for the conservative values and principles the Tea Party movement represents. He is a career politician and Washington insider who has sold out his constituents for special interest money. Roy Blunt is, in fact, what we are endeavoring to 'purge' out of Washington. Michele Bachman is a woman of integrity, character, and honor. She needs to remove herself from this venue and gather more details of the "real" tea party groups and candidates.”

    Jefferson County Tea Party -- “Big spending Republicans that voted to increase the size and scope of Government during the Bush years are part of the problem, not the solution. During the Bush years Congressman Blunt voted for the Prescription Drug Bill, bloated farm bills, TARP, and many other spending bills that grew the size of the government. Recently, he voted for Cash For Clunkers (4 Billion Dollars) and then voted a 2nd time to increase the program by another 2 BILLION dollars. Congressman Blunt and President Obama are two of the top ten recipients of donations from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were the main cause of the financial meltdown. If posing as a fiscal conservative were a crime, Roy Blunt would be on top 10 wanted list. The Tea Party loves Michele Bachman, but we feel she has been seriously misinformed if she thinks the tea party is a supporter of Congressman Blunt.”

    K & N Patriots -- “K & N Patriots has not endorsed Roy Blunt for the U.S. Senate. Any representation that we have is incorrect. We would view it as engaging in "the same old politics" and an attempt to deliberately mislead our members and Tea Party voters at large. K & N Patriots does NOT endorse or campaign for candidates. In addition it is our opinion that those who believe in Tea Party values do not admire strategies 'cooked up' by slick, overpaid political consultants with the objective of misleading or fooling voters. That's precisely what Tea Party organizations and their supporters are trying to GET RID OF! We would advise Michele Bachmann and all candidates who agree with independent conservative values to avoid being involved in such activities.”

    MID MO 9/12 Patriots -- “Roy Blunt is not a true Conservative. He is the Number one taker of donations from Freddie and Fannie, he voted for TARP, and convinced other Republicans to vote for TARP as well. He is not a true Conservative and he has not and will continue to not uphold our Constitution, both State and U.S. We sponsor no candidates but if you were to sponsor someone, (name deleted) is the one to sponsor. The Tea Party is not the Republicans to claim. This is the citizen’s movement and we will not stand for any politicians to try to use us for their own political gain.”

    Missouri As A MOM -- “The Missouri As A Mom organization does NOT endorse any candidate nor any political party. Our Mission Statement includes the 9 Principles and 12 Values of all 9/12 groups. We support 'Boldly speaking out against deficit spending' as stated in our Mission Statement. Law makers who voted FOR 'TARP' and 'Cash for Clunkers' are NOT against deficit spending. It would be in Rep. Bachmann's best interests to remain NEUTRAL until after the August 3rd Missouri Primary since she herself has a record of voting against deficit spending.”

    *Missouri Sovereignty Project -- "The Missouri Sovereignty Project supports all candidates who sign its pledge to uphold and support the Bill of Rights' 10th Amendment. Both Republican Senate candidates Mr. Blunt and Mr. Purgason have done so. If a poll of over 720 of our 1,800 members and the voting public (http://www.missourisovereigntyproject.com/us-senate.html) is a testament to which of these gentlemen more closely adheres to constitutional principles, Mr. Purgason, by a 71% to 29% margin, would be their choice.

    "We have a tremendous amount of respect for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and look to her steadfast national leadership in the Tea Party cause. The Missouri Sovereignty Project is perplexed that she would publically participate in campaign efforts on behalf of Mr. Blunt, thereby rejecting the potential Tea Party credentials of all other candidates. We join Tea Party groups across the great state of Missouri in asking Ms. Bachmann to reconsider her August 31 fundraising efforts for Mr. Blunt."

    Sikeston Tea Party -- “We, in the Sikeston Tea Party, do not endorse or even want Roy Blunt for our next Senator. We do not appreciate Michelle Bachman coming here as a representative of the Tea Party and making that endorsement and campaigning for him. She does not represent the views of the Sikeston Tea Party on this issue.”

    Springfield 912ers -- “We invited Roy Blunt to attend a Missouri U.S. Senatorial Candidate Townhall, along with all other 17 candidates in the race. Mr. Blunt did not respond.”

    SW MO Conservative Network -- “We invited Congressman Blunt to several of our meetings over the last year and were told by his scheduler that he would not attend a candidate forum until after the Primary.”

    Sullivan 912 Group -- “Our word for those who are endorsing others: One should really check out the candidate's representation of his area and the desire of the constituents before jumping on board to endorse one of their playmates. That makes grassroots wonder if we should maybe look into our 'misplaced' trust a little more thoroughly. One who uses grassroots tea party groups and our strength, to push forward their own agenda, and to build public support for their cause, is not playing with the standard routine playmates. We are more knowledgeable of the game and know when we are being hoodwinked. This is not to say that, occasionally your cause may fit with our agenda. We may like the message, but not support the messenger. Thanks, but no thanks.”

    Say what one will, the statements above should catch the attention of a lot of Missouri politicians -- especially Roy Blunt!

    Vote wisely, Missourians!

  • Missouri Citizens Set to Vote on 'ObamaCare'

    07/26/2010 6:59:10 PM PDT · 8 of 8
    BobMcCartyWrites to secondamendmentkid

    Polls say she’s ahead.

  • Missouri Right to Life President Pam Fichter Explains Why Group Endorsed Cynthia Davis

    07/26/2010 1:32:16 PM PDT · 5 of 5
    BobMcCartyWrites to earlJam

    What didn’t I tell you, earlJam?

  • Missouri Right to Life President Explains Endorsement of Jo Ann Emerson

    07/26/2010 1:21:25 PM PDT · 1 of 2
    BobMcCartyWrites

    Recently, Republican Jo Ann Emerson received received a boost in her bid for re-election in Missouri's 8th Congressional District. That boost came in the form of a highly-coveted endorsement of Missouri Right to Life, and it came despite the fact the seven-term incumbent had cast votes against life on at least two occasions during the past five years.

    Curious as to how MRTL President Pam Fichter might explain how her organization's leaders reached such a decision, I asked her about it Saturday when I caught up with her in O'Fallon, Mo. The key point I picked up during the interview was that Emerson changed her position on at least one contentious issue and, as a result, she became more fit for the group's endorsement. The interview appears in this video.

    Below are links to information about the two votes which I suspect many pro-lifers would say should disqualify her for the pro-life group's endorsement:

    • Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines (Vote number 2007-020 on Jan 11, 2007); and
    • Voted YES on allowing human embryonic stem cell research (Vote number 2005-204 on May 24, 2005).
    FYI: Emerson's GOP primary opponent, Bob Parker, is pro-life and told me he would never vote to approve the killing of human embryos.

    Vote wisely, Missourians! Emerson just might change her mind again and vote against protecting human life!

  • Missouri Right to Life President Pam Fichter Explains Why Group Endorsed Cynthia Davis

    07/26/2010 1:16:41 PM PDT · 1 of 5
    BobMcCartyWrites
    Curious to learn the basis for Missouri Right to Life's highly-coveted endorsement of State Rep. Cynthia Davis over incumbent State Sen. Scott Rupp in the heated Republican primary race for Missouri's 2nd Senatorial District seat, I caught up with Pam Fichter, president of the pro-life group, Saturday in O'Fallon.

    In this video, Fichter explains why MRTL selected Davis over Rupp.

    Vote wisely, Missourians!

  • Missouri Citizens Set to Vote on 'ObamaCare'

    07/26/2010 1:11:49 PM PDT · 1 of 8
    BobMcCartyWrites
    When I interviewed Missouri State Sen. Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield) eight months ago, the Missouri Health Care Freedom Act was just an idea about to be introduced in the Missouri Senate. Today, the measure (a.k.a., "Proposition C") is only days away -- Aug. 3 -- from going before voters in a first-in-the-nation citizens' referendum on ObamaCare. And it's attracted the attention of both The New York Times and Fox News Channel along the way.

    Senator Cunningham informed me over the weekend that she will be a guest on FNC's "Special Report with Bret Baier" Thursday at 5 p.m. Central and that the Times is going to cover the pro-HCFA fundraiser/rally being held Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at The Columns Banquet Center in St. Charles, Mo.

    Further, the senator said more than $100,000 has been raised, 8,000 yard signs are up, and that radio ads promoting passage of Proposition C will start airing today on radio stations across the state.

    According to the Missourians for Health Care Freedom web site, "a YES vote for Proposition C will send a message across the country and around the world that the nation that has brought freedom to so many will not now sacrifice those basic rights to government bureaucrats." I tend to agree.

    If you're not familiar with HCFA ("Proposition C"), visit Missourians for Health Care Freedom or read my posts on the Missouri Health Care Freedom Act.

    Whatever you do, vote wisely, Missourians! Your health just might depend on it!

  • Jo Ann Emerson Sides With Harry Reid in Push to Nationalize Police and Firefighters Unions

    06/16/2010 5:48:31 AM PDT · 1 of 3
    BobMcCartyWrites

    When searching for pieces of union-friendly legislation not serving the best interests of all Americans, it seems one needs only look for bills upon which the name of U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, appears as a sponsor.

    In a June 3 article about the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (H.R. 413), writer Warner Todd Houston describes the push by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to nationalize all police and firefighters unions as one that “outrageously violates the most basic tenet of American politics: local control.” In turn, I wasn't surprised to find Emerson listed as a sponsor of the bill.

    Yes, it's the same Emerson who's sponsoring the $165 billion union pension bailout bill, whose campaigns regularly rely upon money from radical labor unions (see graphic below), and whose second husband, Ron Gladney, is a big-time labor union attorney and Democrat (see the end of this post for more details about him).

    Not surprisingly, Emerson isn't the only member of the Missouri Congressional delegation whose name appears on the list. Sadly, she is joined by one GOP colleague, Rep. Samuel Graves (R, Mo-6), and three Democrat Party colleagues, Reps. Russ Carnahan (Mo-3), William "Lacy' Clay (Mo-1), and Emanuel Cleaver (Mo-5).

    What, exactly, are these members of Congress and nearly 300 of their colleagues -- including, sadly, some four-dozen Republicans -- supporting as sponsors of H.R. 413? The only good points listed among the provisions in the GovTrack summary of the bill center upon prohibitions on lockouts and strikes. Unfortunately, they'll hold little weight when coupled with the other provisions which, by themselves, will provide unions so much power at the bargaining table that they'll have no reason to stage lockouts or strikes.

    If we're really unlucky and this bill becomes law, according to another article, the specter of totally-unionized government workers being able to shut our country down as they do in France will become very real.

  • Jo Ann Emerson Asked to Explain Past Votes in Favor of Wasting Billions in Taxpayer Dollars

    06/15/2010 3:08:43 PM PDT · 4 of 5
    BobMcCartyWrites to Mr. K

    Running for her seventh full term. First term was only partial as she replaced her first husband who died while serving in the office she now holds.

  • Jo Ann Emerson Asked to Explain Past Votes in Favor of Wasting Billions in Taxpayer Dollars

    06/15/2010 12:58:18 PM PDT · 1 of 5
    BobMcCartyWrites

    Facebook is a great tool for sharing information and misinformation alike. Want proof? Ask U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri's 8th Congressional District.

    In an entry on her Facebook page Monday, the lobbyist-turned congressman's wife-turned congresswoman introduces a Bloomberg article about a $160 billion Fannie-Freddie Fix by writing, "This is the mother of all bailouts - I'm working against Washington insiders to stop Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from getting a Trillion Dollars of taxpayer money - no strings attached."

    After reading the Facebook entry this morning, I added the following comment -- which includes a pertinent question -- to the ten others already there:

    I don't understand. You claim to be against spending billions of taxpayer dollars, yet you voted to spend billions on TARP ($787 billion), Cash for Clunkers ($3 billion) and Omnibus Spending Bill ($450 billion). Can you explain yourself? http://bobmccarty.com/2010/05/03/should-jo-ann-emerson-run-as-independent/

    Will the RINO Republican explain herself as I requested? Let's just say, I'm not holding my breath. Emerson will likely opt to side with misinformation rather than shoot straight with voters.

    Stay tuned!

    UPDATE 6/15/10 at 12:17 p.m. Central: It appears my comment caught the attention of Josh Haynes, one of Congresswoman Emerson's two chiefs of staff (?). In a comment posted about 40 minutes ago on her Facebook page, he wrote the following: "Bob, are you an 8th District voter? Would be happy to have you meet Jo Ann at event in the District some time." I responded, writing: "Great, Josh! Pop me a message with times and dates of upcoming events. As for whether or not I'm a voter in the 8th CD, no I'm not. I am, however, concerned about the impact your boss has on my family and on the rest of my fellow citizens across the United States."

  • Soldier's Parents Call Double Standard 'Outrageous'

    06/14/2010 6:37:35 AM PDT · 1 of 7
    BobMcCartyWrites

    EDITOR’S NOTE: Below, I share the latest message from Scott and Vicki Behenna about their son, Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, a man who's serving a 15-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth following his wrongful conviction, sentencing and imprisonment for killing a known Al-Qaeda operative in self-defense:

    To the thousands of Michael Behenna supporters:

    The New York Times recently reported (see link below) that the U.S. military has initiated a policy to “reintegrate” imprisoned Taliban fighters to their Afghan communities. These Taliban fighters were caught with evidence that they had killed our soldiers, but are released to their families in an active war zone with merely a ‘pledge’ that they will not return to the Taliban. This appears to be the latest attempt to win the hearts and minds of our enemies and taking the ‘catch and release policy’ to a whole new level.

    This brings us to Michael’s case. Michael has been incarcerated by the Army for over a year now. We have asked at every level that Michael’s constitutional right to a fair trial be granted so that all the evidence is disclosed to the jury. Doesn’t seem too much to ask for an American citizen who fought for his country does it? Yet Michael’s request for a new trial has been stranded. The Army seems to be in no hurry to have Michael’s case in front of the Army Court of Appeals as they have yet to file their response to Michael’s brief which was filed back in December 2009.

    There is a double standard in play here where enemy combatants are given mercy, but our soldiers/Marines are denied mercy. STILL IN CUSTODY. For example, Marine Sgt. Larry Hutchins, whose conviction was overturned several weeks by the Navy Appellate Court, is while the Navy appeals the decision to the next appellate level.

    During the past year, we have come to know the families of the other soldiers/Marines who have been charged and convicted of ‘murder’ of Al-Qaeda or insurgents while in a combat zone. We have watched as these soldiers/Marines and their families prepare for clemency hearings before the military clemency boards. (The Armed Forces have a procedure, independent of the appellate process, where an incarcerated soldier/Marine can appear before a clemency board and ask for a reduction of his sentence, or if the individual has served at least one-third of his sentence they may request parole.) We have heard the hopelessness in the voices of the families when they learn that their son or husband will not receive ANY reduction in their sentence. It is difficult for these military families to know that based on a ‘solemn’ pledge Taliban fighters are released by the SAME U.S. military leadership and allowed to return home to their families. What message does the U.S. military send when we punish our own soldiers more harshly then we punish the combatants who have killed our brave men and women on the front lines of this war on terrorism?

    Many of the soldiers/Marines I am speaking of, including our son, would never find themselves involved in the criminal justice system but for their combat experience. These soldiers/Marines do not have previous criminal histories, and their military records are replete with honorable service including purple hearts, bronze stars, and multiple deployments in defense of our country. Some of these soldiers fell victim to the military’s ‘catch and release’ policy that returns enemy combatants to the battlefield where they return to fight our soldiers time and time again. Yet others were protecting themselves or their men in a combat zone. Even if they made mistakes in judgment during war, should they be sentenced to 10-40 years while the enemy is totally forgiven? Why shouldn’t the SAME military leadership afford our combat soldiers/Marines a second chance!

    If the U.S. military will release Taliban fighters simply on a pledge by their families that they will not rejoin the Taliban then we ask the same for our troops. These soldiers/Marines are not a threat to our society and deserve to be home with their families. We ask that you the American public stand with us. Our request is that each of you vouch for these soldiers/Marines and demand that our military extend the same mercy to them as they did to the enemy combatants who are trying to kill our soldiers every day.

    Please write a letter to your Senator, Congressman, and the Secretary of Defense and advise them that this double-standard will not be tolerated.

    Bless you for your continued support,

    Scott and Vicki Behenna

    DefendMichael.com

    To read previous BMW posts about Michael, click here.

    To download an unofficial brochure about Michael’s case, click here.

  • Oil Spill Cleanup Official Says Plentiful Packgen Boom Didn't Pass Initial Quality Control Test

    06/13/2010 2:41:29 PM PDT · 14 of 16
    BobMcCartyWrites to Robert A. Cook, PE

    FYI: The spokesperson, whom I know, is a Navy officer detailed to serve on the response team. In short, I trust him. Do I trust the rest of the people on the response team (i.e., the Obamatrons)? Not on your life!

  • Oil Spill Cleanup Official Says Plentiful Packgen Boom Didn't Pass Initial Quality Control Test

    06/13/2010 1:14:56 PM PDT · 1 of 16
    BobMcCartyWrites

    There's been a lot of criticism circulating throughout the web -- and even throughout the conservative blogosphere (here and here)-- about the apparent failure by Obama Administration officials to take advantage of warehouses in Maine that are reportedly full of boom manufactured by Packgen. Though I'm the last person anyone would expect to see defending the Obama Administration, I think some of the criticism might be misplaced.

    I base my conclusion above upon information I received via e-mail from Navy Lt. Cmdr. J.R. Hoeft, Deepwater Horizon Response spokesperson, helps explain why officials involved in the cleanup efforts -- likely BP officials and not "Obamatrons" -- did not jump to take advantage of the reported abundance of boom in the Pine Tree State:

    The boom manufactured by Packgen did not pass an initial quality control test. Boom is subjected to great wear and tear when placed in the water and must be frequently tended. In order to retain its effectiveness boom must be of high quality. Once Packgen's boom passes inspection, the company can be considered as a source for supplying boom to the largest oil spill response operation in U.S. history. In the meantime, suitable boom is being identified and obtained quickly and there is currently 459,000 feet of boom stored in the region in addition to the 2.24 million feet deployed.

    Conservative friends, don't take this the wrong way. I remain convinced the Obama Administration has handled this disaster as badly as any disaster has ever been handled and will likely continue to do so. At the same time, however, we must remember that there are so many other areas of failure upon which we can focus.

  • Serious Flaws in Homeland Security IT System

    06/09/2010 9:43:25 AM PDT · 1 of 7
    BobMcCartyWrites

    Earlier this week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced what was touted as a "major aviation security milestone". Specifically, she claimed in a news release that 100 percent of passengers traveling within the United States and its territories are now being checked against terrorist watchlists through the Transportation Security Administration's Secure Flight program—a major step in fulfilling a key 9/11 Commission recommendation. Not so fast, Janet!

    According to the executive summary of a just-released report from the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Richard L. Skinner, there are serious flaws in the system:

    Systems within the headquarters' enterprise Active Directory domain are not fully compliant with the department's security guidelines, and no mechanism is in place to ensure their level of security. These systems were added to the headquarters domain, from trusted components, before their security configurations were validated. Allowing systems with existing security vulnerabilities into the headquarters domain puts department data at risk of unauthorized access, removal, or destruction.

    And that's not all:

    Also the department does not have a policy to verify the quality of security configuration on component systems that connect to headquarters. Interconnection security agreements are present for each connections between headquarters and components to secure shared services; however, neither the agreements nor other policy define specific security controls required for connecting systems. Stronger management and technical controls are needed on trusted systems to protect data provided by the department's enterprise wide applications.

    What does this mean? The very people charged with protecting the nation from online and offline security threats appear to have failed when it comes to protecting their own information technology systems which, in turn, was supposed to help protect the flying public.

    If you "speak" IT and are interested in a more in-depth discussion of the issues, click here.

  • Phil Hare Needs to Stop Calling Himself A Veteran

    06/09/2010 9:38:42 AM PDT · 41 of 41
    BobMcCartyWrites to oldbill

    I’m a veteran, and Hare is not. He never served on active duty, reservist or not. End of story!

  • Phil Hare Needs to Stop Calling Himself A Veteran

    06/07/2010 8:20:02 PM PDT · 38 of 41
    BobMcCartyWrites to oldbill

    They are ONLY IF they serve on active duty for a prescribed number of days. Hare did not!

  • Phil Hare Needs to Stop Calling Himself A Veteran

    06/04/2010 6:01:28 PM PDT · 37 of 41
    BobMcCartyWrites to oldbill

    I am a veteran, oldbill, and the “Veteran status” is, according to multiple online government sources (Hint: Search “Determining veteran status”), reserved for a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable. Reservists do not necessarily qualify.

  • Phil Hare Needs to Stop Calling Himself A Veteran

    06/03/2010 5:37:52 PM PDT · 27 of 41
    BobMcCartyWrites to Ecliptic

    “Veteran status” is, according to multiple online government sources (Hint: Search “Determining veteran status”), reserved for a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable. Reservists do not necessarily.

  • Phil Hare Needs to Stop Calling Himself A Veteran

    06/03/2010 5:37:34 PM PDT · 26 of 41
    BobMcCartyWrites to Grunthor

    “Veteran status” is, according to multiple online government sources (Hint: Search “Determining veteran status”), reserved for a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable. Reservists do not necessarily.

  • Phil Hare Needs to Stop Calling Himself A Veteran

    06/03/2010 5:37:17 PM PDT · 25 of 41
    BobMcCartyWrites to oldbill

    “Veteran status” is, according to multiple online government sources (Hint: Search “Determining veteran status”), reserved for a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable. Reservists do not necessarily.

  • Phil Hare Needs to Stop Calling Himself A Veteran

    06/03/2010 2:39:32 PM PDT · 1 of 41
    BobMcCartyWrites
    U.S. Rep. Phil Hare (D-Ill.) is back in the news two months after he was caught on VIDEO saying, "I don't care about the Constitution." This time, however, he's drawn the ire of a military veteran who wants the two-term congressman from Illinois' 17th Congressional District to stop calling himself a veteran.

    In a letter to Blake Chisam, Ken Moffet informs the chief counsel and staff director of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct of an incident during which he asked Congressman Hare if he was going to stop telling people that he was a veteran. The Moline, Ill., resident goes on to explain that Hare became enraged upon learning that, under the law, he doesn't qualify as a veteran.

    Now, the world waits to see whether or not Congressman Hare continues to claim he is a veteran and, if he does, whether or not Chisam will recommend the House take any action against him for it.

  • How Far Are Environmentalists Willing to Go?

    06/03/2010 11:07:35 AM PDT · 1 of 6
    BobMcCartyWrites
    How far are environmentalists willing to go to exploit the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster? I have proof that they're gushing outright lies about "Big Oil".

    Below is an example of the kinds of blatant lies being circulated via e-mail about San Ramon, Calif.-based Chevron Corporation [Note: To protect the identity of the recipient of the message, his name has been removed]:

    To all,

    As most of you already know the Louisiana National Guard is helping fight the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But did you know that the La. National Guard helicopters are being denied landing and purchase of fuel at the Chevron Venice base. Petroleum Helicopters, Inc. (PHI), Air Logistics, Bristow and one other helicopter base just north of Venice are allowing full use of their bases and fuel supplies to our La. Nat. Guard Units. If it were not for the permission of these bases to allow fueling and landing privileges, our Guard Copters would need to return to Hammond, La. for fuel and necessary provisions to continue the fight against this oil spill.

    When Chevron was queried about the denial to use their base, the answer was that it would cause a "conflict of interest." Now just what the hell does that mean? I in fact know that some of Chevron's copter pilots were formally in the La. National Guard. And that when they were ordered to participate in the Iraq war they complained of poor health, bad backs, etc. They were discharged from the La. Guard, but of course bad health, bad backs, etc. they continued to fly for Chevron. Seems they were more interested in an easy pay check for weekend military duty with the La. Guard then service to their country.

    From now on I will gladly refuel my vehicles at any other gas station that does not display the Chevron symbol since I now have a "conflict of interest" with you.

    In reality, Chevron officials tell me the company has accommodated every request for the Louisiana National Guard to refuel at our helicopter base except for one instance, and that instance was because Chevron was providing support to U.S. Presidential aircraft.

    Col. Patrick Bossetta of the Louisiana Army National Guard backed up Chevron's story in a Memorandum for Record he signed June 2:

    1. I am writing in reference to an anonymous e-mail sent out regarding Chevron, Inc.,’s support of the Louisiana Army National Guard aircraft performing aviation missions in support of the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill.

    2. As the acting State Aviation Officer for the Louisiana Army National Guard, we have been tasked daily with supporting clean up and prevention efforts in Southeast Louisiana since May 1, 2010. With prior coordination through several personnel at Chevron-Venice, our aircraft have been allowed to refuel at the Venice base on multiple occasions. The Chevron personnel based in Venice have in my estimation been accommodating. The request for prior coordination in order to not interfere with Chevron’s day to day operations seems a quite understandable and reasonable request given the current circumstances. I can only remember on one occasion that we could not use the Chevron base due to Presidential aircraft support.

    3. The Louisiana National Guard appreciates Chevron’s support during this operation as well as the support they have given us concerning their employees who are members of the Louisiana Army National Guard. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

    In addition to supporting LANG helicopters, Chevron spokesperson Justin Higgs told me this morning the company is providing both direct and indirect support to BP and the government to help stop the leak and assist with the spill response. That support has taken shape in many ways as Chevron has provided the following:

    • Expert support to BP’s efforts, including technical experts to BP in the areas of subsea wells, subsea blowout preventer (BOP) intervention, subsea construction, environmental science, and emergency response;
    • Wildlife experts who work for Chevron Energy Technology Company to assist with long-term wildlife management plans and hurricane evacuation plans;
    • Subsea equipment to BP;
    • Personnel to join the Coast Guard’s local incident command response team in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida; and
    • Access to a marine wildlife rescue portable trailer as an additional resource.

    Another reminder that one shouldn't always believe what he finds in his inbox.

  • Does Hope Float in the Middle East?

    06/02/2010 10:16:11 AM PDT · 1 of 1
    BobMcCartyWrites

    Is it possible that President Barack Obama's signing of a presidential determination Jan. 27, 2009, resulted in direct support going to people aboard vessels in the Gaza-bound flotilla that has stirred up so much controversy in recent days? I think it is.

    According to this Feb. 4, 2009, entry in the Federal Register, President Obama cited section 2(c)(1) of the Refugee Assistance Act of 1962 and determined the following via Presidential Determination No. 2009-15:

    "...that it is important to the national interest to furnish assistance under the Act in an amount not to exceed $20.3 million from the United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund for the purpose of meeting unexpected and urgent refugee and migration needs, including by contributions to international, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations and payment of administrative expenses of Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the Department of State, related to humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees and conflict victims in Gaza."

    Barely two weeks later, the folks at FactCheck.org were asked if Obama paid for Hamas-affiliated terrorists to emigrate to the United States. In turn, they offered this response:

    This claim is false. The president’s memorandum to the State Department would pay for refugee assistance in Gaza, not for transporting anyone to the U.S.

    If none of the $20.3 million went to help Palestinians migrate to the U.S., then I must ask the question, "Where did the money go?"

    According to a Department of State news release Jan. 30, 2009, the money was distributed as follows:

    Of the $20.3 million in new ERMA funds, $13.5 million will go to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), $6 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and $800,000 to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). These organizations are distributing emergency food assistance, providing medical assistance and temporary shelter, creating temporary employment, and restoring access to electricity and potable water to the people of Gaza.

    While I have no opinion to offer regarding the ICRC's ability and/or willingness to keep money out of the hands of Hamas-affiliated terrorists, I'm skeptical about the integrity of the U.N. agencies.

    When I combine the organization's fraudulent track record of the hapless and crooked U.N. with its recent condemnation of Israel for its actions related to the flotilla, I'm left skeptical that any U.N. agencies can be trusted to keep money out of the hands of the terrorists.

    In short, I won't be surprised if ironclad evidence surfaces soon to prove, once and for all, that HOPE FLOATS.

  • VIDEO: Protest Outside Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv

    05/31/2010 7:54:04 PM PDT · 1 of 17
    BobMcCartyWrites

    Above: Turks living in Tel Aviv join in a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv, protesting the Turkish government's decision to provoke Israel through its involvement in the so-called "aid flotilla" allegedly bringing aid to the people of the Gaza Strip. Below is exclusive video of the protest which began late this afternoon in Israel and continued into the night. See also: Protest Outside Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv.

    WATCH VIDEO HERE.

    TWO NEW PHOTOS:

    SEE ALSO: Protest Outside Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv

  • Stories Shared to Honor Heroes on Memorial Day

    05/28/2010 11:36:55 AM PDT · 1 of 4
    BobMcCartyWrites
    Thanks in advance for sharing this post, especially with young people who might not be familiar with the sacrifices of those who serve and have served.
  • Counterterrorism Drill Compromised By PR Effort

    05/27/2010 5:06:37 AM PDT · 1 of 1
    BobMcCartyWrites
    Terrorists looking for an opportunity to study how law enforcement agencies conduct a regional counterterrorism exercise received a gift Wednesday night. It came in the form of an embargoed news release.

    I came across the news release, a partial image of which appears above, via PR Newswire Wednesday at 8:37 p.m. Central. Issued by the Transportation Security Administration, it was marked as "embargoed."

    For those unfamiliar with the terminology, an embargoed news release is one the issuer provides to journalists with the understanding that they will not print anything about it until the embargo date and time has passed. In this case, 5:30 a.m. Thursday. More on this at the end of this post.

    Accessible by any individual/journalist with an account like mine, the news release offered the following key information:

    During the morning and evening commutes on Thursday, May 27, Amtrak Police, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel and law enforcement officers from federal, state, local, rail and transit police agencies are being deployed at passenger rail and transit stations throughout the Northeast as part of an exercise of counterterrorism and incident response capabilities.

    The multi-force, multi-agency security surge from New Hampshire to Virginia is not in response to any particular threat or incident. Rather, today's deployment is part of Operation RAIL SAFE (Regional Alliance Including Local, State and Federal Efforts), a coordinated effort involving activities such as heightened station patrols, increased security presence onboard trains, explosives detection canine sweeps, and random passenger bag inspections at unannounced locations. RAIL SAFE is part of a routine effort by partners in the Northeast rail and transit corridor to flexibly exercise resources and coordination.

    After reading the news release, I wondered what might happen if a would-be terrorist had had, at some point in the past, the insight to sign up for an account at PR Newswire so he could access embargoed news releases like the one issued by TSA.

    Because the news release was published at 6 p.m Thursday, he could have found himself with 12 hours advance notice of the exercise. With those hours, he could have easily notified his cohorts in cities across the Northeast and/or mobilized them to study and report back on how law enforcement agencies in each city carried out their respective roles in the counterterrorism and incident response exercise.

    To those who might think this former Air Force public affairs officer is overreacting or painting an implausible portrait of how such a news release could be used in this age of terrorism, I close with a suspicion based on nothing more than common sense: Terrorists don't honor TSA-issued embargoes on news releases. They exploit them.

    Note to TSA public affairs: Next time, wait until after the exercise to report on such an exercise. And when you report on it, be vague about the details. If you need help, contact me.

  • Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Play Promises 212K Jobs in Pennsylvania During Next 10 Years

    05/25/2010 3:34:58 PM PDT · 12 of 12
    BobMcCartyWrites to Darth Reardon

    It’s a promise as long as the feds and greenies don’t kill it.

  • Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Play Promises 212K Jobs in Pennsylvania During Next 10 Years

    05/25/2010 1:18:29 PM PDT · 5 of 12
    BobMcCartyWrites to mountainlion

    It’s already working in Colorado. In fact, I went to Colorado one year ago and reported on it. To read it, go to my blog, where I originally posted this piece, and click on the link at the end of the story.

  • Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Play Promises 212K Jobs in Pennsylvania During Next 10 Years

    05/25/2010 12:56:48 PM PDT · 1 of 12
    BobMcCartyWrites
    Imagine 212,000 new jobs during the next 10 years in Pennsylvania alone.

    Contemplate generating $1.8 billion in state and local tax revenues during the next 18 months.

    Think about the energy security provided by a natural resource that has the potential to produce 13.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.

    Now, go beyond imagining, contemplating and thinking. Realize that the statistics above portray the real potential that lies in the safe and steady development of clean-burning natural gas in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Marcellus Shale, according to the findings of a study released today by professors from Penn State University.

    “At a time when more than half-a-million people in Pennsylvania are currently out of work, the release of this updated report from Penn State today confirms the critical role that responsible energy development in the Commonwealth can play in substantially, perhaps even permanently, reversing that trend,” said Kathryn Klaber, president and executive director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. “Last year alone, Marcellus producers paid more than $1.7 billion to landowners across the state, and spent more than $4.5 billion total to make these resources available. By the end of this year, that number is expected to double, and millions of Pennsylvanians will find themselves the direct beneficiaries of that growth.”

    The continued ramp-up of responsible exploration activities throughout the Commonwealth over the next decade is, according to the study findings, expected to bring online an additional 13.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day, nearly seven times the amount that Pennsylvanians currently use on a daily basis. This extraordinary increase in daily natural gas output results in the creation of more than 211,000 new jobs in the Commonwealth, along with $18.85 billion in value added resources for the state’s economy. As significant, the study also finds that for every $1 invested in the state by Marcellus Shale producers, $1.90 of total economic output is generated as a result – a phenomenon that’s come to be known as the “Marcellus Multiplier” among the hundreds of individual industries up and down the Marcellus supply chain that continue to benefit from this work.

    But that’s just for the state of Pennsylvania. Looking long-term at the formation’s economic and strategic potential, the study’s authors suggest that the Marcellus Shale could “be the second largest natural gas field in the world” if fully developed – providing an amount of energy for the American consumer “equivalent to the energy content of 87 billion barrels of oil.” For scale, the entire United States currently consumes roughly seven billion barrels of oil a year, with Pennsylvania consuming about 253 million barrels of that, according to the Energy Information Administration.

    “In the near term, we’re talking about the creation of tens of thousands of family-supporting jobs, and billions in wages, revenues and royalties – on top of all the economic benefits being delivered to the state right now,” added Klaber. “Further out, this work has the potential to deliver a sustainable energy resource to millions of consumers, and long-term revenue streams to state and local governments -- all while contributing materially to the achievement of key national imperatives related to energy, the economy, our security and our environment.”

  • Will Mexican Truck Drivers With Criminal Records Soon Be Driving on U.S. Highways?

    05/25/2010 10:53:29 AM PDT · 1 of 9
    BobMcCartyWrites
    Though I suspect most Americans paid little or no attention to news about President Barack Obama hosting Mexican President Felipe Calderón for two days last week, I think many will be interested in what results from the meeting between the two elected leaders, especially when they think about the question raised in the headline above.

    On May 19, Presidents Obama and Calderón released a joint statement in which they highlighted a trade and transportation plan aimed at achieving a mutually-agreed-upon solution. Among the premises listed in that plan was the following:

    Recognizing that transnational criminal organizations threaten the economies and security of both the United States and Mexico and that both countries share responsibility for the conditions that give rise to these criminal organizations and that allow them to endure, as well as shared responsibility for remedying those conditions

    In short, the two made a public acknowledgment of the issue of border security.

    Further into the plan, another entry appears under the section, "AREAS OF COLLABORATION":

    The creation, expansion, or mutual recognition of “trusted shipper” programs such as FAST and C-TPAT and “trusted traveler” programs such as SENTRI and Global Entry, allowing enforcement authorities to concentrate their efforts where they are most needed to stop illicit border flows

    This time, they acknowledge the need to make crossing the border faster and easier for people who, by completing some paperwork and meeting certain criteria, qualify for special treatment during border crossings.

    Now, companies like U.S. Immigration, Visa & Travel of Minneapolis, Minn., enter the picture, complete with an official-looking Department of State seal in their site's masthead.

    Though the graphic above appears prominently on a page on the company's web site, an explanation of the FAST Pass program renders the red-letter headline somewhat less frightening:

    Truckers with criminal records are ineligible for a FAST Pass unless they have received a US waiver and / or a Canadian pardon, which wipes the crime form the records databases but does not delete it completely from central records offices. A Canada pardon is only recognized in Canada and not in the US. If your crime was committed in Canada or you are resident there and you committed a crime abroad then you must get a pardon to clear your criminal record with the Canadian customs and border protection authorities. If your crime was committed in the US you need to get a waiver of inadmissibility. It takes around a year to get hold of these documents and even then there is no guarantee that you will then get your FAST pass.

    Still, U.S. and Canadian truckers with criminal records CAN obtain FAST Passes IF they're willing to do the paperwork and IF they're willing to wait as long as a year.

    After digesting the information above, one question remains about the aforementioned plan being drafted between the U.S. and Mexican governments: Does anyone truly believe that corruption will not surface among officials in the Mexican government if a FAST Pass system similar to the one already in use between the U.S. and Canada is put into play via the U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking plan?

    “Mexico’s regulatory standards and enforcement on trucks aren’t even remotely equivalent to what we have here," said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Grain Valley, Mo.-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, in a news release issued last month. "To open the border at this time is insanity from both an economic standpoint and safety."

    And what about U.S. trucking jobs going south?

    Dan Little, president of the Carrollton, Mo.-based Owner Operators United, Inc., outlined his concerns in a May 13 letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood which ended with this message:

    "Should the cross border program go into effect, thousands of American drivers and trucking companies will be forced out, many ending in bankruptcy. The fall out will be felt throughout the entire country."

    Developing...

  • Cyberbullying Resurfaces in Saint Charles County

    05/24/2010 9:40:12 AM PDT · 1 of 6
    BobMcCartyWrites
    Thirteen-year-old Megan Meier committed suicide in October 2006, the victim of what became known as "cyberbullying". Today, another student in St. Charles County, Mo., is facing a barrage of online assaults by fellow students at Francis Howell High School.

    Celeste Finkenbine has become the target of much scorn and ridicule at the virtual hands of current and former Howell students via the "Team Blessman" Facebook page created May 19 by senior Andrew Cogswell.

    The subject of my article published May 17, Finkenbine is a senior who objected to her final exam in Debra Blessman's Senior Literature and Composition class being based on Michael Moore's controversial 2007 health care documentary, “Sicko“. In addition, she alleged her teacher had called her a "teabagger" in front of the class weeks earlier. [Note: Her teacher did not return repeated requests for comment prior to my publishing that piece.]

    Team Blessman is described as being "for all the supporters of Mrs. Blessman and her choice to watch the film 'Sicko' for her Senior's Final." In addition, it contains the message, "This is for you Mrs. Blessman, and our right to watch politically biased movies for the sake of education." More than anything, however, it reeks mostly of youthful idealism, ignorance and liberal ideology espoused by the page's 247 members.

    Examples of the harsh shots being taken at Finkenbine via the Facebook page appear below with names of the posters and their vulgar expletives redacted [Note: To see the unredacted and NSFW comments, visit Team Blessman]:

    In addition to being disparaged online, Finkenbine has paid a price at home and at school for standing up for her conservative beliefs in the classroom.

    Her detractors have not only deposited teabags on the lawn of her family home, but they've created what might be described as a toxic learning environment at the school As a result, I learned from an informed source, that the 18 year old stayed home from school several days last week despite being only days away from graduation.

    Is Finkenbine attending classes this week? Will she go through graduation ceremonies with her class early next month? I don't know, because she is no longer giving media interviews.*

    *EDITOR'S NOTE: Those who have accused Finkenbine of trying to milk this issue for media attention could not be more wrong. When it came to the story I published May 17, I contacted her; she didn't contact me. Furthermore, I know for a fact she has turned down numerous media requests, including an appearance tomorrow night on Fox News Channel's Hannity, an interview over the weekend with CNN and an interview with Mark Reardon on St Louis' KMOX radio this afternoon. How do I know? Because many of those requests were made through me by representatives of the media outlets who had read my article about Finkenbine.

  • Clapper Wrong Man for Nation's Top Intel Post

    05/22/2010 8:51:07 AM PDT · 1 of 7
    BobMcCartyWrites
    Yesterday, the world learned President Barack Obama had canned Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair. Soon after, news surfaced about James R. Clapper Jr., Defense Undersecretary for Intelligence, surfacing as the leading choice to replace Blair. Sadly, my research tells me the nation is not going to be safer with Clapper as DNI, because his record is one of a bureaucrat, not a problem solver.

    Three months ago, I reported on Blair's decision to task an elite U.S. interrogation unit with conducting “scientific research” to find better ways of questioning top suspected terrorists. In part, I wrote:

    So why wasn’t I surprised to read in an article that Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told members of the House Intelligence Committee yesterday he is tasking an elite U.S. interrogation unit — an interagency group of top interrogators dubbed the “High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group” — with conducting “scientific research” to find better ways of questioning top suspected terrorists when one already exists? Because Director Blair is either being kept in the dark about the existence of this non-polygraph technology or he’s part of what appears to be a coordinated effort by individuals within the federal government to prevent a replacement for the 60-year-old technology known as the polygraph from gaining a foothold. [See No Need for Research, Interrogation Tool Exists (Feb. 4, 2009).]

    Since a new government report released yesterday revealed that at least 16 known terrorists had passed through airports in the United States despite the presence of people trained to observe suspicious behavior, one can conclude that Blair's program failed and, perhaps, he should have opted for the non-polygraph technology mentioned in my Feb. 4 post.

    That non-polygraph technology also has ties to Clapper. Just over a year ago, an action taken by Clapper in 2007 was the focus of a post about the technology which began this way:

    The question of whether members of the U.S. military and intelligence communities should be allowed to use waterboarding and other forms of torture during interrogations might be largely irrelevant today if not for a memo signed by Under Secretary of Defense James R. Clapper Jr. Oct. 29, 2007.

    On that day, Clapper issued a memo granting “Operational Approval of the Preliminary Credibility Assessment Screening System (PCASS)” and designating the polygraph and its cousin, the PCASS, as the “only approved credibility assessment technologies” in the Department of Defense.

    In effect, Clapper made it possible for those in the defense polygraph community to maintain what some describe as a 60-plus year stranglehold on truth-detection activities within DoD — this despite the fact that newer, more accurate and more versatile technologies have proven themselves more worthy in recent years. [See If Not for Memo, Torture Might Not Be An Issue (Part 1) and If Not for Memo, Torture Might Not Be An Issue (Part 2).]

    If, indeed, Clapper is named to DNI, one shouldn't expect much improvement. Just prepare to give up your seat as they rearrange the nation's national security "deck chairs".

  • Bureaucrats to Blame for Slow Gulf Response

    05/21/2010 10:14:38 AM PDT · 1 of 3
    BobMcCartyWrites
    I came away from a media conference call Thursday afternoon with a pretty good idea about who is to blame for the cleanup of oil in the Gulf of Mexico taking so long: BUMBLING BUREAUCRATS.

    The call, arranged by the Deepwater Horizon Response Team, took place at 3:30 p.m. Central Thursday and began with Dr. Jane Lubchenco reading a 10-minute statement that must have been intended to render members of the press harmless by putting them to sleep. Unfortunately for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator appointed by Obama, her tactic didn't work on me.

    Several members of the media -- including representatives from Associated Press, Christian Science Monitor, Houston Chronicle, Miami Herald, National Public Radio and Reuters -- participated in the call, and the first question came from Curtis Morgan of the Miami Herald.

    After establishing his premise for asking the question, he asked, "Is there any way to quantify from the imagery what might be making its way down here (to Florida)?"

    After clarifying his question, which I thought was fairly straight-forward in the first place, Lubchenco offered an answer which resembled Barack Uhhbama sans teleprompter:

    "Uhhmm, I think, uhmm, though, at this point, I mean, if you look at the satellite images, uhh, it is obvious from those images that the bulk of the oil that is at the surface is way far away from the loop current. Uhhhm, at this point, uhh, the best we can say is that it is only a very small amount that is in the loop current. Uhhhm, we are working with our, uhhm, collaborators, uhh, in other federal agencies to, uhhhm, be able to quantify that better. Uhh, the P-3, uhh, information is one key part of that, but there is additional, uhh, work being done on, uhh, imaging, uhh, of high-resolution images of the surface, uhh, and I think we will be able to do that, uhh, in the not-too-distant future. So, for the time being, uhhhm, I think the main message is that, uhh, there is only a small amount of oil that is, uhh, entrained in the loop current and that, by the time it makes it, uhh, to the Florida Strait, it's likely to be transformed into tarballs, uhh, into streamers, uhh, and much of that, uhh, may never reach shore at all, although some of it certainly might. And I understand the desire to have more quantitative information, but it's extraordinarily challenging to be able to do that at this point."

    After criticizing officials for providing a bad estimate of the flow rate of oil from the Deepwater Horizon well and for being slow to provide accurate numbers, Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press asked a two-part question: "One, will you use science this time to come up with an estimate and tell us how it is? And when will you revise this estimate?"

    A quick exchange between Lubchenco and the reporter helped to defuse some existing tension, it appeared, then the NOAA administrator offered another long-winded answer before getting to the crux of her answer to Borenstein's question:

    "The inter-agency team that is working on refining, uhh, the flow-rate estimate, uhh, is making the best use of the information we have in hand, uhh, and is working around the clock to come up with those estimates. They don't have a precise time line, uhh, but I think everyone understands the importance of having a good number, number one, and to have a number be one that is based on, uhh, good information that is scientifically-credible and has been peer-reviewed, and so, that's the process that we're going through. I want to emphasize that having the flow-rate is important, we're working on it, our response has never been pegged to any particular estimate. It has always been much more aggressive than the early flow rates that were put out there."

    After a question from a local reporter, Reuters' Tom Brown asked a two-fold question on the heels of news that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson sent a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward. First, he asked "Where do you think BP has fallen short in keeping the public and government informed about this spill?" Next, showing he may have actually been lulled to sleep by the Lubchenco's opening remarks, he asked her for "a better ballpark figure" to describe the flow rate.

    Again, Lubchenco offered a lenghthy, uhhm, response, the "meat" of which appears below:

    "Uhhm, at this point, uhh, it would not be appropriate to speculate on what the estimate is. Uhh, we believe that, uhh, we're best served by actually having good, uhhhm, either direct observations or, uhhhm, indirect calculations that are quantifiable and what we can actually come up with -- a number that's defensible. So that's why this technical team has been stood up, uhh, within the federal government to really work this flow rate, uhh, issue hard. Uhh, as Admiral Allen has been saying, he's locked these scientists in a room and is just stuffing pizzas underneath the door until they emerge with a number." Laughter and mindless chatter. "Uhhhm, the statement that was or the letter today that went from, uhh, Administrator Jackson and, uhh, Secretary Napolitano, uhh, was asking BP to be more transparent with its video, with its data, and to post more information publicly, uhh, on a web site. Uhh, I think that is consistent with our, uhh, continuing effort within this administration to be as open and transparent as possible and, instead of having to go to multiple, uhh, sort of, BP passing the information to somebody else passing it to somebody else, eventually making it on the web site, uhh, there has been a request directly to BP to simply make it available and to put it up there, and that's exactly what, uhh, the agencies are doing as well."

    Of course, I could add more to this piece, but the first 23 minutes of the 38-minute session were painful enough.

    From talk of P-3s and pizza to claims of transparency, the Obama Administration takes the cake for making the most out of a crisis by doing as little as possible to fix it.

  • Special Forces Veteran Says 'No' to Courageous Restraint Medal for Troops Who Don't Shoot

    05/20/2010 12:08:07 PM PDT · 13 of 16
    BobMcCartyWrites to jagusafr

    Right on, Colonel!

  • Special Forces Veteran Says 'No' to Courageous Restraint Medal for Troops Who Don't Shoot

    05/20/2010 12:06:48 PM PDT · 12 of 16
    BobMcCartyWrites to Tucker39

    Tucker39 — The graphic is my prediction of what the medal might look like.

  • Special Forces Veteran Says 'No' to Courageous Restraint Medal for Troops Who Don't Shoot

    05/20/2010 11:30:09 AM PDT · 1 of 16
    BobMcCartyWrites
    Jake Johnson is a man with more than a decade of Special Operations experience who left the service in 2006 for a sales career in Arizona. During a recent interview, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask him about a NATO proposal to award what some are calling the “Courageous Restraint Medal” to soldiers in combat.

    Asked if he thought soldiers should be awarded medals for not firing their weapons, the 39 year old used a single word to answer: “No.” Immediately thereafter, however, he shared something from his experience as a Special Forces combat medic, something about which he thinks the typical American is not aware.

    “While I was there (in Iraq), I didn’t just respond to American casualties,” he explained. “It’s not like in the movies where the bad guy gets shot and he dies.

    “A lot of times, the bad guy gets shot for good reason and he doesn’t die. Well, guess what? That guy just bought himself an air evacuation within an hour to some of the best trauma surgeons in the world.

    “A lot of Americans that I’ve told that to, one, can’t believe it, (and) two, when they hear that, they say, ‘Wait a minute!’

    “They start thinking through it, and they think, well, “Did these trauma surgeons use their blood?” -- if they know anything about a trauma unit -- “Did they use their blood that’s on reserve?”

    His answer: “Yeah, they absolutely did.”

    When those same people ask whether the enemy fighters were place in beds reserved for American casualties, he replied, “Oh yeah. They did that, too!

    “(Physicians) don’t question who the patient is,” he said. “When they get a patient, they save that life to the best of their ability and they use all of the resources they have at their disposal to do that.

    “Not only do we do that, we’re committed to doing that kind of thing.

    What kind of reaction did that get from the Iraqis with whom he fought?

    “When they saw that, the Iraqi soldiers that we were working with couldn’t believe it,” he said.

    He recalled them asking the incredulous question, “These are your enemies and this is how you treat your enemies?”

    “I felt that was the right thing to do, and we did it whenever that opportunity presented itself,” Johnson said.

    “Has the media ever really portrayed that? No, I don’t think so -- and (they) probably never will,” he continued. “But I think that’s a testament to who we are as a people, and I think there’s some value in that, too.”

    Rules of engagement in warfare have attracted attention recently as a result of the “Courageous Restraint Medal” proposal, but date back to the 1990s.

    “I first noticed when I went to Kosovo that there was a general culture that, if you were to fire a round, that you were going to be, it was going to be heavily reviewed,” Johnson explained. “To the credit of our commanders, (they) basically told us, ‘Here’s the rules of engagement, but if you feel that you need to....”

    In other words, he said, commanders basically recognized that Special Forces soldiers are multi-million-dollar soldiers when it comes to the training that’s put into them and they have the ability to decide when to fire and when not to fire.

    “That, by its nature, is what separates a Special Operations soldier from a typical infantryman,” Johnson said. “Because they train in shoot and no-shoot scenarios, they understand what type of scenario requires the use of deadly force.

    “But I do know that my experience is that these kinds of situations create a culture of questioning whether or not you need to fire. And, if you do, you might end up in some sort of review process where you really have to prove that the situation warranted that type of action.”

    When asked if the fear of review might cause paralysis on the battlefield, Johnson wasn’t willing to go that far. He compromised by saying the fear certainly causes hesitation which, in itself, is not good.

    “You and I both know you don’t want to allow the enemy any kind of advantage,” he said. “It’s hard enough as it is, and you don’t need to give them any kind of advantage by putting hesitation in the minds of your soldiers who have to make that split-second decision.”

    To that statement, however, he added a caveat: “Special Operations soldiers train constantly on shoot and no-shoot scenarios. If you were to watch them in their training, going through their typical high-level urban combat type training, (in) almost every scenario, there’s a no-shoot scenario put in there.

    “And, if you’re in that training environment and you have a soldier who’s not properly taking that into account -- in other words, he’s engaging a no-shoot target -- that’s just the same as not being able to operate your weapon properly,” he explained.

    “That no-shoot scenario is really a core principle of Special Operations.”

    EDITOR'S NOTE: The name and location of the Special Forces veteran featured in the story above have been changed in order to protect him from individuals who might want to do him harm.

  • High Schooler Objects to 'Sicko' Final Exam, Says Teacher Called Her A 'Teabagger' in Front of Class

    05/17/2010 12:39:45 PM PDT · 15 of 34
    BobMcCartyWrites to OldDeckHand

    Senior Literature and Composition

  • High Schooler Objects to 'Sicko' Final Exam, Says Teacher Called Her A 'Teabagger' in Front of Class

    05/17/2010 12:16:50 PM PDT · 1 of 34
    BobMcCartyWrites
    There’s nothing wrong with the fact Debra Blessman kept secret from her students the name of the film she would require them to watch and analyze during finals week at Francis Howell High School. Today, however, the teacher might be wishing she had not kept her superiors in the St. Charles, Mo., school district in the dark about her plans to base final exams on the Michael Moore film, "Sicko".

    Judging by the unedited plot summary below which Blessman distributed to students, one might assume Blessman kept school district administrators in the dark about the controversial 2007 documentary on health care because she knew they might find the film objectionable:

    In this documentary, the director/writer Michael Moore exposes the dysfunctional North American health care system, oriented to huge profits and not for their mission of saving lives. Further, he shows the corruption in the political system, with members of government and congress "bought" by the corporations and the situation of the average American citizens, including those that volunteered to work in the rescue mission of the September 11th. Then he travels to Canada, Great Britain and France to compare their systems showing their hospital, doctors, staffs and patients. Last but not least, he shows that the prisoners in Guantanamo have better medical treatment than the common people in USA, and he ends getting free treatment to the Americans that participate along the documentary in Cuba.

    Apparently, however, Blessman did not expect any of her students to raise objections about the film. But one did.

    On the morning of May 11, soon after learning about the film’s selection as the basis for the final exam in Blessman's class, 18-year-old senior Celeste Finkenbine went straight to one of the school’s principals to raise her objections. Why? Because, based on her experiences with Blessman this semester and during a class three years earlier, Finkenbine didn’t think she would get very far pleading her case with the teacher she describes as a liberal. More on that later.

    Unlike the vast majority of her classmates, Finkenbine is a politically-active conservative who spends many Saturday afternoons attending anti-socialism rallies at the intersection of Highways K and N in nearby O’Fallon, Mo. When she’s not in school or holding a sign on a street corner, you’re likely to find her working at a local nursing home in preparation for what she hopes will be a career as a geriatric physician.

    Through a contact at the K and N Patriots, the group that holds the weekly rallies, I learned about Finkenbine’s objections to the film and, specifically, to being required to watch and analyze it as part of an assignment worth 50 percent of her total semester grade for the class. THIS VIDEO is based on two recent interviews, one of which took place in the dining room of their St. Charles home, the other at a rally Saturday.

    Finkenbine cited one primary reason behind her unwillingness to bring up points that back up Moore's contentions.

    "My biggest issue with it is my principal said I can argue the conservative viewpoint, but that’s something that I have background with, that I’ve researched myself.

    “Every other student in that class was only given the liberal viewpoint of it, and that’s exactly what teachers aren’t supposed to do, is lean toward one side or the other.”

    When I contacted Dr. Renee Shuster, superintendent of the Francis Howell School District, she admitted the movie is not part of any district curriculum and that the teacher did not follow the process for having the film approved in advance. She also said that Finkenbine had been offered an alternative assignment that involves reading and analyzing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 7,000-word essay, “A Letter from a Birmingham Jail."

    Does Finkenbine fear any repercussions for standing up for her conservative ideals?

    “I’m hoping that, no matter what assignment I do, I can still get an ‘A’ on it. If I did feel like I was graded unfairly, it wouldn’t stop there.”

    It’s somewhat ironic that Finkenbine’s alternative assignment relates to Dr. King, because it was during a recent class discussion that King’s name came up and, according to Finkenbine, her teacher laid her liberal cards out on the table.

    Finkenbine said that, after she compared her participation in Tea Party rallies with the civil disobedience in which Dr. King participated, Blessman responded to her by saying, “Well, we all know you’re a ‘teabagger.’”

    Afterward, Finkenbine recalled, the teacher started laughing and everyone in the class started laughing about Blessman's use of the derogatory term, prompting the student to think, “Wow! Did she really just say that?”

    Having heard this account of life in Blessman's classroom, I contacted Dr. Shuster again.

    In addition to wanting to find out how district officials would deal with the teacher for using a film that was not approved in advance, I wanted to know how they would address Finkenbine's allegation that the teacher called her a “teabagger” in front of the class.

    Schuster responded by e-mail, saying, “We would address this through the teacher evaluation process which hopefully leads to improvement but can lead to termination.”

    Unfortunately, it appears all of the other students in Blessman's class ended up having to watch and analyze "Sicko".

    EDITOR’S NOTE: Multiple attempts to reach Blessman since Friday afternoon have, thusfar, been unsuccessful, and her home phone number is unlisted. If, after publishing this post, she contacts me and consents to an interview, I will publish an update.

  • Salazar Shares Anti-Oil Message With Employees

    05/13/2010 6:24:42 AM PDT · 1 of 2
    BobMcCartyWrites
    One week ago, I shared the text of a message Interior Secretary Ken Salazar sent to all employees of his department two weeks after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster began in the Gulf of Mexico. It was provided to me by a friend who works for DOI.

    Today, I share the text of his most-recent "Secretary's Priority Message" about the ongoing disaster which includes some decidedly anti-Big Oil rhetoric. See if you can spot it below:

    From: Secretary_of_the_Interior@ios.doi.gov [mailto:Secretary_of_the_Interior@ios.doi.gov]

    Sent:Tuesday, May 11, 2010 2:16 PM

    Subject:Secretary's Priority Message - Deepwater Horizon

    ( NOTE TO SUPERVISORS: Please ensure that all employees without e-mail access receive a paper copy of this distribution.)

    Dear Team,

    I write to thank you for your hard work and service to our Country. Over the last 21 days, many of you have put in long hours, with little sleep, as you help our Nation respond to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy and spill. I extend my heartfelt appreciation.

    As we continue to work hard to address and resolve the oil spill in the Gulf, we must not hesitate from making changes and reforms we know are needed. This incident has made it clear that the public servants of the Minerals Management Service deserve more tools at their disposal, more resources, and an organizational structure that fits the missions that you are being asked to carry out. I am proud of the reforms we have already made together – from broadening MMS’s portfolio to include offshore renewable energy production to simplifying royalty collections – but the time has come to make even more fundamental reforms.

    Earlier today, I announced to our colleagues in the MMS a set of changes that we as a Department must undertake to strengthen our oversight of the companies that develop energy in our Nation’s waters.

    We will begin to evaluate options for restructuring the Department and the MMS to enhance our ability to fulfill our missions. Specifically, I believe that the inspection, oversight, and investigation mission within MMS should be separate from MMS’s missions of collecting energy revenues on behalf of the American people and of authorizing responsible and balanced energy production. Establishing a new entity within the Department, focused primarily on enforcing energy laws and regulations, will provide greater authority and autonomy in overseeing the safety and compliance of energy operations. We will explore a variety of different organizational configurations as we move through this process. I want to hear your ideas and input as we move forward.

    Undertaking major organizational changes – particularly in times of crisis or challenge – is never easy, but in this instance it is the right thing to do. We cannot, and will not, forget that BP is responsible for its oil spill. They will be held accountable.

    As public servants, our duty is to learn lessons from this incident so that we can adjust, adapt, and strive to better protect the American people.

    I look forward to continuing our service together as we work to build a smarter, stronger, and more effective government for our Nation.

    For more information about our response efforts, visit the DOI Intranet at http://oneinterior.doi.net.

    Sincerely,

    Ken Salazar /s/

  • Census Worker Charged With Rape, Burglary

    05/13/2010 6:19:51 AM PDT · 1 of 13
    BobMcCartyWrites
    Barely three months after I advised Americans to Think Twice Before Opening Door to Census Worker, two Indiana women were allegedly attacked by 39-year-old Daniel Miller, a U.S. Census worker who had been on the job for two weeks and now faces rape and burglary charges, according to a news report out of Indianapolis.

    A report issued by the Government Accountability Office Oct. 7 revealed that approximately 785 employees with disqualifying criminal records could end up working for the Census Bureau this year. Excerpts (below) show the exact wording of the agency’s frightening information about the people who go door to door conducting interviews and collecting information for the 2010 Census:

    The Bureau’s efforts to fingerprint employees, which was required as part of a criminal background check, did not proceed smoothly, in part because of training issues. As a result, over 35,000 temporary census workers — over a fifth of the address canvassing workforce — were hired despite the fact that their fingerprints could not be processed and they were not fully screened for employment eligibility.

    …of the prints that could be processed, fingerprint results identified 1,800 temporary workers (1.1 percent of total hires) with criminal records that name check alone failed to identify. Of the 1,800 workers with criminal records, approximately 750 (42 percent) were terminated or were further reviewed because the Bureau determined their criminal records — which included crimes such as rape, manslaughter, and child abuse — disqualified them from census employment.

    …we estimate that approximately 785 employees with unclassifiable prints could have disqualifying criminal records but still end up working for the Bureau.

    Whether or not Miller cleared a background check is not known at this time.

  • RINO Congresswoman Thrives in the Boot Heel

    05/10/2010 1:12:59 PM PDT · 1 of 3
    BobMcCartyWrites

    Make no mistake about it: U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) will win in November. Her well-oiled fund-raising machine and unmatched name recognition combine to make the job of unseating her virtually impossible.

    What can one learn by studying the 8th Congressional District race in Southeast Missouri? He can learn that a Republican In Name Only can survive -- and thrive -- in the Boot Heel of the Show-Me State.

    Emerson's political might and savvy might stem from the fact she was born in 1950 and raised in the Washington, D.C., area in a neighborhood where members of Congress lived next door. The daughter of Ab Hermann, a former professional baseball player who served as director of the Republican National Committee, she went on to earn a degree in political science degree at Ohio Wesley University and hold positions with both the Republican Party and with trade organizations -- including one as a lobbyist for the American Insurance Association.

    In 1975, she established ties to the district when she became the second wife of future eight-term Congressman Bill Emerson. Those ties grew stronger following her much-loved first husband's death in 1996 when sympathetic voters elected her in his place.

    Today, she stands on a 35-year record of contact with the people of the district which borders the Mississippi River and includes Cape Girardeau, the boyhood home of Rush Limbaugh.

    Emerson's challengers in 2010 include the following candidates:

    • Tommy Sowers is an ultra-liberal Democrat without competition in the August primary. A former Army Special Forces officer and instructor at West Point, he appears to be running solely on the strength of his military uniform and hoping little attention is paid to his stands on issues and the people who support him. He is, for instance, admittedly pro-choice and pro-ObamaCare, though you'll find no specifics about either issue on his campaign web site. Single, he moved back to Missouri from New York to run for the 8th CD seat.
    • Larry Bill is an Independent candidate and Air Force veteran who served as a pilot during the Cold War and the Gulf War. Bill is a conservative family man dissatisfied with the offerings coming from both the Democrat and Republican parties. A staunch advocate of First and Second Amendment rights and bringing an end to illegal immigration, he thinks unnecessary federal spending must be brought under control and embraces ideas like the Fair Tax and term limits for members of Congress.
    • Bob Parker is the only Republican challenger to Emerson. A cattle rancher and family man who advocates many of the same issues as Bill, Parker has been an outspoken critic of Emerson. In addition to drawing attention to the incumbent's votes in favor of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) and the "Cash for Clunkers" effort, Parker faults her for voting to censure Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) for shouting "You lie!" during President Barack Obama's joint address to Congress on health care reform and for voting in favor of a premature withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

    What do conservatives like me, who align more closely to Bill and Parker on most issues, find wrong with Emerson's record? For starters, they're troubled by her ties to earmarks.

    According to Legistorm, Emerson's legislative fingerprints can be found on more than $361,314,075 worth of earmarks she sponsored or co-sponsored during 14 years in office. Among the largest pork projects she has sponsored was a $3 million earmark to fund a Congressional Hunger Program that bears her first husband's name. Based on my review of the program's web site, it appears taxpayer dollars earmarked for the program pay for college kids to go out and see how the "other half" lives in impoverished parts of the country.

    Despite the earmarks and other votes many conservatives would label as "misguided", Emerson's constituents seem content with re-electing her time and time again. Citing her stands as a pro-life, pro-Israel and pro-defense congresswoman who usually gets things right, they appear to like the fact that she "brings home the bacon" in the form of costly projects, such as the $170 million Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge (above) and the $62 million Rush H. Limbaugh Federal Building (right).

    Someone who would appear to benefit from the "bacon drippings" is Emerson's second husband, Ronald C. Gladney, whom she married in 2000. A Democrat and attorney who is a member of the St. Louis-based law firm, Bartley Goffstein LLC, Gladney represents 12 powerful labor unions, including the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers for whom he serves as general counsel. One would think they had a hand in building the bridge and the federal building that hosts one part-time judge.

    Gladney is also a big supporter of President Obama. According to CampaignMoney.com records, he made matching $2,300 contributions to Obama for America in 2007 and 2008. Since then, he's contributed only $10 to Obama.

    Will conservatives opt to vote for anyone but Emerson? IF history is any indicator and IF they don't want to risk putting an ultra-liberal Sowers in the seat, the answer will be, "No." And the Emerson juggernaut rolls on.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: It's worth noting that there appears to be no familial relationship between Emerson's husband and Kenneth Gladney, a St. Louis man who was beaten -- allegedly by SEIU thugs -- at an Aug. 6 health care town hall meeting hosted by Democrat U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan of Missouri's 3rd CD.

  • Army Hero Spends Another Birthday Behind Bars

    05/10/2010 5:55:56 AM PDT · 1 of 1
    BobMcCartyWrites
    EDITOR’S NOTE: Below, I share a message that Scott and Vicki Behenna sent today to supporters of their son, Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, in conjunction with his upcoming 27th birthday, the second birthday he's spent behind bars following his wrongful conviction, sentencing and imprisonment by an Army court-martial panel for killing a known Al-Qaeda operative:

    Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna

    To the thousands of supporters of Michael Behenna,

    Many of you have been asking about the latest on Michael's appeal. Michael’s appellate brief was filed on December 22, 2009 and the military’s response brief was due January 21, 2010. The military asked for and was granted a three-month extension to April 21, 2010. Then sometime in early April the military filed for and received yet another three-month extension making their response brief not due until July 22, 2010! But most amazing of all was that the extension was granted without notice being provided to Michael’s attorneys to argue against it.

    From the start of this hell we have tried to put our trust in the military justice system. But time and time again this ‘justice’ system has failed this young man who defended our liberties in the face of a ruthless enemy. First it was the withholding of evidence in Michael’s trial and now this. The government will have had seven months to respond to Michael’s appellate brief when it should have taken only seven weeks. It appears to us that the Army is deliberately doing everything it can to delay Michael’s appeal process. And for what end you ask? We may never know, just as we may never know what was really behind the Army prosecuting Michael in the first place. But in the face of these delay tactics we have become even more convinced of the strength of Michael’s appeal (which the military is struggling to counter.) As Thomas Paine wrote, 'Tyranny is not easily conquered, but our consolation is that the harder the conflict, the greater the triumph.'

    Despite everything Michael is faring well. He draws strength from the many letters he receives and your continued correspondence will help him leave Leavenworth the way he arrived – with his head held high. Michael ‘celebrates’ his 27th birthday behind bars on May 18th. This will be his second birthday in Leavenworth Prison and is yet another reminder of how long he has been away from family and friends. Please consider sending Michael a birthday card to let him know he is not forgotten and to encourage him to keep the faith. You can send your cards and letters to:

    Michael Behenna #87503

    1300 N. Warehouse Road

    Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304

    Click image to download (pdf)

    Finally, good news was received this week concerning the two Navy SEALS exonerated of injuring an Al Qaeda leader. In addition, Sgt Larry Hutchins, a Marine held at Leavenworth, had his case overturned in the Navy Court of Appeals. These men are decorated heroes who have served this country honorably and deserve our support. It is my hope that the pendulum is truly swinging back in favor of our soldiers and away from a capricious and political military justice system led by people who have NEVER been in harms way. Please continue to contact your Congressmen and Senators and let them know that our soldiers deserve our unending support, especially when they are defending themselves in a combat zone.

    Bless each of you for supporting all of our troops,

    Sincerely,

    Scott and Vicki Behenna, Defend Michael To read previous BMW posts about Michael, click here.

    To download an unofficial brochure about Michael's case, click here or on the image above.

  • Chevron Request for 'CRUDE' Footage Approved

    05/06/2010 3:14:22 PM PDT · 5 of 7
    BobMcCartyWrites to norraad

    Translation: You bought their “CRUDE” lies?

  • Chevron Request for 'CRUDE' Footage Approved

    05/06/2010 1:58:23 PM PDT · 1 of 7
    BobMcCartyWrites
    The Courthouse News Service reported Monday that Chevron Corp. asked a federal judge Friday to order the release of outtakes from Joseph Berlinger's 2009 documentary, "CRUDE" (trailer below). Today, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan granted the San Ramon, Calif.-based oil giant's request, leaving one question unanswered: Will the footage exonerate the company and bring an end to its maddening 17-year-old court battle in the South American country?

    In the conclusion of a 31-page decision issued in the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York, Judge Kaplan wrote:

    The Court expresses no view as to whether the concerns of either side are supported by proof of improper political influence, corruption, or other misconduct affecting the Ecuadorian As Justice Brandeis once wrote, however, “sunshine is said to the best of disinfectants.” Review of Berlinger’s outtakes will contribute to the goal of seeing not only that justice is done, but that it appears to be done. Three portions of the documentary* highlighted by Chevron in their request to the judge involve Steven Donziger, the New York-based attorney leading the lawsuit against Chevron, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa and Dr. Carlos Beristain, a one-time expert witness in the case:

    A. Plaintiffs’ Counsel Meets with Expert Witness -- Crude contains footage of a number of meetings that took place in the Dureno community of the indigenous Cofan people. A version of Crude “streamed” over Netflix depicts one such meeting, at which Dr. Beristain, an expert who contributed to Cabrera’s neutral damages assessment, is shown working directly with both the Cofan people and plaintiffs’ counsel. Berlinger, however, altered the scene at the direction of plaintiffs’ counsel to conceal all images of Dr. Beristain before Crude was released on DVD. The interaction between plaintiffs’ counsel and Dr. Beristain therefore does not appear in the final version of Crude sold on DVD in the United States.

    B. Plaintiff’s Counsel Interferes with Judicial Inspection -- In another scene of Crude, Donziger, one of plaintiffs’ lead counsel, persuades an Ecuadorian judge, apparently in the presence of Chevron’s lawyers and news media, to block the judicial inspection of a laboratory allegedly being used by the Lago Agrio plaintiffs to test for environmental contamination. Donziger describes his use of “pressure tactics” to influence the judge and concedes that “[t]his is something you would never do in the United States, but Ecuador, you know, this is how the game is played, it’s dirty.”

    C. Plaintiffs’ Representatives Meet with the Ecuadorian Government -- In another scene, a representative of the plaintiffs informs Donziger that he had left the office of President Correa “after coordinating everything.” Donziger declares, “Congratulations. We’ve achieved something very important in this case . . . . Now we are friends with the President.” The film then offers a glimpse of a meeting between President Correa and plaintiffs’ counsel that takes place on a helicopter. Later on, President Correa embraces Donziger and says, “Wonderful, keep it up!” Donziger explains also that President Correa had called for criminal prosecutions to proceed against those who engineered the Settlement and Final Release. “Correa just said that anyone in the Ecuador government who approved the so-called remediation is now going to be subject to litigation in Ecuador. Those guys are shittin’ in their pants right now.” This news comes one day after I published Chevron Accuses Plaintiff of Lying in $27B Lawsuit, the most recent in a series of more than three-dozen posts I've published during the past year about the lawsuit which has the potential to cost Chevron $27 billion.

    *Note: I removed the citation numbers from the three points above as they appeared in the official request. To see them, click here.

  • Danny Glover Sides With Illegal Immigration Crowd

    05/06/2010 11:32:59 AM PDT · 1 of 22
    BobMcCartyWrites

    As he has been on more than a half-dozen occasions since May 2007, Danny Glover is on the wrong side of the illegal immigration issue in Arizona. Yesterday, the Hugo Chávez-loving Hollywood actor and left-wing socialist activist made a stop in Phoenix to denounce what a local rag describes as Arizona's new "papers please" law, SB 1070.

    Should anyone be surprised by the 63-year-old's latest foray into politics promoting lawlessness? Not hardly:

    On May 22, 2007, I reported the actor was set to receive $17.8 million from Venezuelan president/dictator Hugo Chávez for working in partnership with Venezuela’s culture ministry to create a film to be used for anti-American purposes by the Chávez government; and

    Barely a month later, I shared news that the film was part of a guerilla-style war against the USA. [Editor's Note: Unfortunately for Glover, I could find no trace that his Chávez-funded film was ever produced and/or distributed.] Need more confirmation that Glover is an anti-American radical? Try this:

    On July 1, 2007, and again on Nov. 28, 2007, I reported that presidential candidate John Edwards' association with Glover was hurting his campaign. Of course, problems caused by Edwards' association with Glover paled in comparison to the ones created by Edwards' infidelity -- and resulting "love child" -- with a campaign staffer during his wife Elizabeth's most-recent bout with cancer.

    Finally, because I could, I reported in an April 13, 2009, parody post, Celebs Sport Eye Patches in Solidarity with Pirates, the following:

    Glover was the host of a private, invitation-only event during which "More than 200 of the nation’s most-famous people — including actors, entertainers, musicians and politicians — were spotted wearing eye patches last night at a $25,000-a-plate Hollywood fund-raising gala to benefit Somali pirates and their families."

    If you're thinking I was totally off base with the parody entry, you would be wrong. After all, Glover did appear as "the man with black eye patch" in the 2008 film, "Blindness".

  • Salazar's Message to Interior Employees Says A Lot

    05/06/2010 7:31:32 AM PDT · 1 of 5
    BobMcCartyWrites
    In an e-mail message to department employees two weeks after an explosion rocked BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar continued parroting the Obama Administration lines about "being on the job from Day One" and about BP being responsible.

    Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

    "From day one, we have been anticipating and preparing for the worst case scenario," Secretary Salazar writes in the e-mail's opening paragraph. "Thirteen days into this event, the situation is still dangerous."

    I find it telling that the action words in Secretary Salazar's message are "anticipating and preparing" instead of acting, fixing, resolving, etc.

    In the fourth paragraph, he writes, "BP has a massive oil spill for which they are responsible," even though no official investigation report has reached that conclusion.

    Below, I share the full text of the message:

    From: Secretary_of_the_Interior@ios.doi.gov [mailto:Secretary_of_the_Interior@ios.doi.gov]

    Sent: Tuesday, May 04, 2010 2:28 PM

    Subject: Secretary's Priority Message - Deepwater Horizon Update

    ( NOTE TO SUPERVISORS: Please ensure that all employees without e-mail access receive a paper copy of this distribution.)

    Dear Team,

    As you know, at approximately 10:00 p.m. on April 20, 2010, a devastating explosion occurred on the BP Deepwater Horizon offshore facility, claiming the lives of 11 people. From day one, we have been anticipating and preparing for the worst case scenario. Thirteen days into this event, the situation is still dangerous.

    Secretary Napolitano has designated the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill as an “event of national significance.” I appreciate her steadfast leadership in the response to this emergency. In the days and weeks ahead, I ask you all to join with me in bringing the resources and expertise of this Department to the people and landscapes of the Gulf as they brace for the difficult times ahead.

    I want to thank Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes for leading Interior’s response effort. David was the first senior Administration official on the ground, arriving in New Orleans the morning after the explosion. I also thank all of you – from MMS to the Fish and Wildlife Service, from the National Park Service to PMB and the USGS – for the long hours you are putting in to helping deal with this emergency.

    BP has a massive oil spill for which they are responsible. The oil spill threatens communities, wildlife, and natural resources around the Gulf of Mexico. Our focus remains on overseeing BP’s efforts to secure their wellhead that is spilling oil, and minimizing the damage.

    Last week at BP’s command center, I pressed the engineers to work harder, faster, and smarter to get the job done. I have asked other companies to bring their expertise, resources, and ideas to the effort as well. And under President Obama’s direction, every resource within the Federal Government is being made available. We cannot rest until BP permanently seals the wellhead, and until they clean up every drop of oil.

    The weather this past weekend presented a challenge, but the strong interagency effort – and our coordination with local and state partners – means we have plans in place, resources deployed, and the people we need to fight the spill.

    I have ordered immediate inspections of all deepwater operations in the Gulf of Mexico. We have issued a safety notice to all operators, reminding them of their responsibilities to follow our regulations and to conduct full and thorough tests of their equipment.

    Last week I signed a Secretarial Order establishing the Outer Continental Shelf Safety Oversight Board within the Department of the Interior. Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Wilma Lewis – a former U.S. Attorney and former Interior Inspector General – will lead the Safety Oversight Board. She will be joined by Interior’s Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall, and Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget Rhea Suh.

    They will provide recommendations for steps we can take to strengthen OCS safety and to improve overall management, regulation, and oversight of OCS operations.

    They will look at all options. I will report to President Obama within 30 days on what, if any, immediate additional precautions and technologies should be required. Another important function of the Safety Oversight Board will be to provide oversight and support to MMS as they conduct their joint investigation of the incident with the U.S. Coast Guard.

    I am confident we will get to the bottom of what happened. Those responsible will be held accountable. And the lessons we learn will help guide us as we responsibly, and safely, develop our Nation’s energy resources.

    Sincerely,

    Ken Salazar /s/

    END OF MESSAGE

    EDITOR'S NOTE: A friend of mine who works in the Interior Department shared this message with me.

  • Chevron Accuses Plaintiff of Lying in $27B Lawsuit

    05/05/2010 9:21:30 AM PDT · 1 of 1
    BobMcCartyWrites
    During the past 12 months, I've published three-dozen posts about the 17-year-old lawsuit Chevron Corp. has been battling in Ecuador. A hotly-contested legal circus in a country where the legal system is corrupt, the case is important, because it has the potential of costing the San Ramon, Calif.-based oil giant $27 billion. Today, I share a new piece published at the company's blog, The Amazon Post, under the headline, If at first you don't succeed.... It appears below:

    The Amazon Defense Front is back at it, trying to distract attention from revelations that its lawyers submitted fabricated expert reports to the court in Lago Agrio.

    In the latest volley, the Front’s publicist, Karen Hinton, revisits the $3 million bribery scandal that entangled the judge presiding over the Lago Agrio trial as well as individuals representing themselves as members of the Ecuadorian government and its ruling political party.

    After failed attempts to question the legitimacy of the videotape evidence, the Front is now taking aim at outside counsel for Chevron. In its latest attack, the Front’s lawyers accuse Chevron counsel of concealing that Diego Borja, one of the men who recorded the meetings in which the bribery plot was discussed, had previously performed contract work for Chevron.

    Yet, when Chevron announced that it had provided copies of the videotapes to authorities in the United States and Ecuador, Chevron stated in its press release that, “Evidence of the bribery plot was brought to Chevron’s attention in June by an Ecuadorian, who was pursuing business opportunities in Ecuador with an American businessman. The Ecuadorian, Diego Borja, has performed work for Chevron as a logistics contractor.”

    This fact was widely reported by American media outlets like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle. In Ecuador, papers such as El Comercio, El Universo, La Hora, Expreso, and Hoy also reported that Mr. Borja had been a Chevron contractor.

    Chevron counsel also disclosed this fact to the Lago Agrio court in multiple filings.

    Diego Borja, in a sworn statement provided to authorities, also disclosed that he had previously performed work as a contractor for Chevron.

    It’s unclear why the Front’s lawyers want to keep talking about government-authenticated videotapes that depict judicial misconduct, especially when Karen Hinton has stated that the Front has “full confidence in the Ecuadorian judicial system.” It would seem that, in light of the facts, this position is just as misguided as the notion that Diego Borja’s prior work as a contractor is some sort of secret. However, when faced with the choice of having to explain why their lawyers submitted fabricated expert reports to the court, perhaps a $3 million bribery scheme looks like a better topic of conversation.

    Editor's Note: In my posts, I refer to The Amazon Defense Front by its alias, the Amazon Defense Coalition.

  • Missouri's Use of Federal Funds 'Most Unusual'

    05/03/2010 3:13:24 PM PDT · 1 of 3
    BobMcCartyWrites
    Out of all the 50 states and Washington, D.C., Missouri’s response to open-records requests seeking detailed grant spending records in electronic form such as a spreadsheet turned out to be among the most unusual, according to a report, the "Price of Peril", released today by the Center for Investigative Reporting.

    This isn't the first time Missouri has made the news regarding homeland security. Remember the little matter of the Fusion Center and the report about the militia movement militia movement which garnered national media attention one year ago? But I digress.

    According to this entry in the CIR report, the Missouri Emergency Management Agency told CIR researchers that processing the request would cost $285. After the payment was made we received 22 pages of paper records containing only generic listings, e.g. “contractor services” and “other authorized equipment.”

    The researchers submitted a second request asking for entirely separate information, namely oversight documents that would show how effectively Missouri had administered its grants. This time, they had to pay $211, but the state then sent the same 22 pages. A grant manager apologized and agreed to refund a portion of the charges, plus make available the additional material, but we still had not received them as of November 2009. What records have been provided by Missouri you can download here.

    Issues with Missouri’s federal grant spending continued to be exposed in 2009, the report continues. The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general that summer questioned $752,000 in expenditures out of $6.3 million worth of grants awarded to a search and rescue team in Missouri’s Boone County. The FEMA program covers personnel and supply costs for special task force deployments needed in the event of an emergency.

    Federal auditors argued that $466,000 in spending didn’t comply with grant guidelines, and $285,000 more lacked needed documentation, such as invoices, to show how it was used. Local officials disputed some of the findings but also again pointed to previous finance staffers and said they acquired a new accounting software program as well as hired new managers.

    Missouri stands as but one example of federal spending going awry at the state level due to a serious lack of accountability. To find out how your state rated in its use of homeland security dollars, click here.