Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What is "American Police Force"?

I stumbled upon a news item yesterday dated September 24 from TV station KULR of Billings, Montana that was kind of odd in a couple of ways, just in the opening paragraphs:
American Police Force officials showed up in Mercedes SUV's that had "Hardin Police" stenciled on the vehicles. The twist, the city of Hardin doesn't have a police department.

Two Rivers Authority officials say having APF patrol the streets was never part of their agenda. "I have no idea. I really don't because that's not been a part of any of the discussions we've had with any of them," said Two Rivers Authority's Al Peterson.
My first thought was "American Police Force? WTF??". My second was that this must be part of an ongoing local story and I must be missing something. Surely the "American Police Force" could only exist in the fevered mind of a paranoid conspiracy theorist.

So I poked around the KULR web site and came up with a number of news items there regarding APF, the earliest of which appears to be this one from September 14th. APF seems to be a somewhat murky outfit:
The jail in Hardin has been empty for about two years, but on September 4th officials with the Two Rivers Authority, the economic development agency that paid for the facility, signed a contract with a private police firm called American Police Force to fill the jail.
OK, so APF is a private security firm, I assume in a fashion similar to Blackwater. The article goes on to note the murkiness of APF:
The company's website states the U.S. government is their biggest client, but an Associated Press search of two comprehensive federal government contractor databases turned up no record of American Police Force.

Several media agencies have identified inconsistencies with the company. For instance their website states they have "years of experience," but a company spokesman said the corporation was formed this February. They also list an address to a building in Washington D.C., but no one at that address has ever heard of them.
So what I'd found out so far was that APF had contracted with local authorities to operate an empty jail in Hardin, the thought it would be cool to declare themselves the non-existent Hardin Police Department (a later article reports that they took the faux Hardin PD seals off their vehicles two days later). Needless to say, I got interested.

The APF web site is here (incongruously, Ravel's "Bolero" plays after the page loads), and lists the various services offered, such as:
  • Police Officer and Security Training
  • International Airline Security
  • Special Forces Training
  • Fugitive Recovery
  • Kidknapping (sic) & Ransom
  • Weapon & Equipment Sales - INTL Only
  • Cargo Ship and Cruise Line Security
  • Convoy Security (Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan & more)
  • Military Advisors
Impressive, and as I thought, similar to Blackwater. Back to KULR for more reading. A follow-up article dated September 28 reveals APF's circumspection:
Confusion and secrecy about American Police Force has grown during the last few weeks.

"APF has been here for 10 months but it has never been stealth," said APF spokesperson Becky Shay at a press conference on Saturday morning. The group announced its plans to fill the $27 million dollar detention facility and build a police training center next to the jail. While they gave details for the site, other questions went unanswered.

[ ... ]

During the press conference APF also refused to release any information on its funding or organization "The decision is the name of the parent company will not be released," said Shay.

When questioned about the decision to show up in Hardin last week in vehicles with "Hardin Police" templates, members were brief in their explanation. "They are to show are (sic) intentions are good," said APF leader Captain Michael Hilton. "Why not put an APF logo on it," said Shay. "You know we're getting there." All of the decals were removed from the vehicles two days later.
The article goes on to say that APF specifically states they won't house Gitmo detainees at the facility. Curiouser and curiouser, and time for some Googling. I came across this item from The guy there had already done what I was going to do: run a WHOIS look up on APF: is hosted on the same IP ( as Both sites feature the same logo. Click on the Catalog link on and say ‘hello’ to Edward Angelino.

Other business names associated with him: Allied Defense Systems, Inc. ( and Defense Consulting Group, Inc. There are almost certainly many more. I only spent ten minutes on this.

I looked through a couple of the sites that use the same template and noticed this:

Founded in 1990, ADS and its veteran team have serviced a variety of contracts under extreme conditions in the Middle East. Our projects have ranged from base camp construction operations to supplying world-class military vehicles. In the midst of international tensions, ADS will perform.

Founded in 2004, DPS and its veteran team have serviced a variety of contracts under extreme conditions in the Middle East. Our projects have ranged from base camp construction operations to supplying world-class military vehicles. In the midst of international tensions, DPS will perform.

Oddly, I don't get the same IP addresses looking up these three domain names, but both Allied Defense and Defense Products do have nearly identical web sites. I'm guessing they're the same entity doing business under different names depending on where they're operating, but it's not clear that they're parent organizations for APF.

It's only fair to note that it's common for security companies - real, no-shit security companies - to cloak much of their operational information, but this level of opacity is unusual.

More attempts at unraveling APF here.
There is, however, an American Private Police Force Org Inc. that was incorporated March 2, 2009, and is based in Anaheim too. In addition to being the corporation’s agent for service of process, a Mr. Michael Hilton is the self-designated “Captain” of the APF.

The APF claims it is the subsidiary of a parent company but won’t identify the parent company or where APF is getting its money. The company’s Washington, D.C. address is a virtual office. Its Santa Ana, California office appears to be in an office complex with a Spanish-speaking church, a dental lab, and insurance agency.
That site also turned up an odd similarity between APF's logo and the Serbian coat of arms:

I'm not sure what to make of their appropriation of Serbia's coat of arms for their logo, but I'm inclined to think that they just said "Oh, crap...we need a cool logo!" and started poking around for a suitable crest. Anyway, very strange, indeed.

Update: Un-frackin'-believable. "Michael Hilton" of APF has a lengthy record of convictions for fraud, theft, etc. and is apparently a Serbian immigrant with a number of aliases. The shit's gonna come down on Hilton and APF hard.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Polanski: Celebrities v. everyone else?

Earlier today on Twitter, I wondered aloud why the Roman Polanski thing seemed to be shaping up as a liberal v. conservative issue. Clearly, plying a 13-year-old girl with alcohol and drugs so you can forcibly rape and sodomize her should be something we can all agree is wrong, right?

It appears we are in agreement on least for the most part. According to Christian Toto at Big Hollywood, it appears to be liberal celebrities who seem to harbor moral ambiguity about child rape. And I use the term "celebrity" here in the broadest sense of the term.
  • Kim Masters: “Roman Polanski understands women” – starts with her exasperation over the Polanski witch hunt.
  • Bernard-Henri Levy: Let’s start a petition in support of Polanski.
  • John Farr: Leniency for Polanski.
But HuffPo readers aren’t buying it. And boy, are they angry.

Check out the comments left on each of these essays and you’ll see faithful HuffPo readers aghast that the site could be defending the indefensible.

Here are just a few comments:

“Nope, it’s not a “conspiracy.” Child rape is a crime and Polanski should serve his time- he should have served it long ago instead of trying to pay off his victim”

“I am an California attorney, a confirmed Democrat-liberal and admirer of Mr. Polanski’s talents and those of many who have niavely signed this petition … Mr. Polanski did what he did and no amount of spin or the passage of time can change that. He drugged and raped a child. What don’t you understand about that? Is it O.K. to do that to your daughters? … Shame on you, all of you. You should (and probably do) know better.
“Let’s see these artists sign their names to a petition to excuse the drugging of and forced sex with a 13 year old. Let’s put it bluntly.”
I say "broadest sense of the term" because I've no fucking clue who Masters, Levy and Farr are, but if they're writing for HuffPo - and defending Roman Polanski - I'm guessing they're a collection of failed journalists and/or B-list actors.

In any event, good on HuffPo's readers for having none of this bullshit.

Update: Do these depraved fuckers even know the details of Polanski's case? Or do they believe that art transcends morals and puts them beyond judgment? Once again, Allahpundit at Hot Air says it better than I can.

"Hear our cry, Obama!"

Just when you thought it couldn't get any creepier, Naked Emperor News via offers up this little gem - health care reform advocates actually praying to Barack Obama, with refrains of "Hear our cry, Obama!" and "Deliver us, Obama!".

Listen closely for the reference to "the prophet, Martin Luther King, Jr".

Since when is it OK to be a child rapist?

These are facts that are not in dispute: Roman Polanski plied a 13-year-old girl with champagne and quaaludes, forcibly had sex with her, then sodomized her for good measure, and pleaded guilty.

But, hey, he's a genius of the arts, so it's OK. So sayeth the Hollywood illuminati. I can't say anything better about this than Allahpundit at Hot Air, in rare form on this topic:
Needless to say, this reminds me of the left’s umbrage at conservatives daring to bring up Chappaquiddick after Teddy died. Yeah, he left a woman to drown and then made jokes about it afterwards; he was for universal health care, though, wasn’t he? Same with Polanski: Dare we deny the man who made “Chinatown” an occasional drugging and raping of a child? Sure, a kid gets traumatized for life, but on the other side of the scale: “Rosemary’s Baby.” It’d be sweet if the left could come up with some sort of mathematical formula by which we could tell whether an artist or liberal politician has exceeded his quotient of moral indulgence. I’m assuming “Chinatown” wasn’t so awesome that Polanski would be excused shooting a kid in the head at point-blank range, so evidently it’s “worth” less than that but more than a child-rape. Let’s figure out just how much of a liberal hero you have to be to get away with certain crimes.
Come on, you neanderthals, give Polanski a break. Do it for the children.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Boxer, Kerry to introduce Senate version of cap and trade

What could go wrong?
The Boxer-Kerry bill will build in large part off H.R. 2454, legislation approved in June by the House following several marathon months of negotiations that involved lawmakers representing coastal and industry-heavy districts. Exactly what is the same in the two bills remains to be seen. As for differences, Senate Democratic aides say they expect the legislation to divert from the House bill's 17 percent emissions target for 2020 and go with an even more aggressive 20 percent limit. The bill also will stay silent on exactly how the Senate should divide up emission allowances.
The Democrats are determined not to let this steaming pile of crap die the ignominious death it deserves.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

WaPo editors note hypocrisy of the left

A Washington Post editorial today notes what bloggers on the right have grumbled about since Barack Obama took office; that the left's most despised policies under George Bush are suddenly not so bad when continued by Obama.
Like President George W. Bush, President Obama now asserts that the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force gives him the right to hold some terrorism suspects indefinitely without trial. At Guantanamo, this is expected to affect 50 or so prisoners who, the administration has determined, can be tried neither in federal court nor before a military commission but are too dangerous to release.

[ ... ]

If the administration's abdication is irresponsible, the reaction of the civil liberties community has been breathtakingly hypocritical. The American Civil Liberties Union has consistently opposed any indefinite detention regime and pushed for detainees to be charged in federal or military courts or released. So we wouldn't expect them to join us in criticizing Mr. Obama for failing to seek a new legal regime. But it is odd that the same policy which, when pursued by the Bush administration, constituted "thumbing its nose at the Constitution" and putting a "stain on America's name at home and abroad" now elicits nothing but a few measured tsk-tsks.
Kudos to the Post's editors for calling them out on this. This goes hand-in-hand with the "what if Bush did it?" complaint. For eight years, every misstep or perceived overreach on the part of the Bush administration was blared to us in BOLD FACE ITALICIZED CAPITAL LETTERS but Obama gets a pass.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Miss me yet?"

A friend e-mailed me this pic, which got me many George Bush detractors - whether they'd admit to it or not - do actually miss the Bush years, if not the man himself?

I'll bet it's more than we think.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hypocrisy watch

Roger at XDA compiled a great collage of anti-Bush pictures in response to this bizarre assertion from MSNBC's Chris Matthews:
You can go to a rally and hold up a sign talking about the man in the White House being some kind of animal, that he’s a Hitler guy, the fact that somebody would know they can get away with carrying a sign like that without being shunned, pushed aside, even beaten up, tells me there’s a license out there. … You wouldn’t hold up a sign like that a few months ago.
As my blogging betters have already pointed out, one would think history began the day Barack Obama was inaugurated.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Swine Flu stalking minor celebrities

Marilyn Manson: A bit more feverish than usual

It looks like H1N1, more popularly known as Swine Flu, might become better known for pushing minor celebrities back into the news than for killing people. Besides Colombia President Alvaro Uribe, swine flu has now claimed among its victims Marilyn Manson, Rachel Maddow, Rupert Grint, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

I guess having failed to kill people in large enough numbers, Swine Flu needed to do something to grab some headlines. What an attention whore.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Obama's brilliant team at work

Here's what we get for electing the smartest man to ever grace an American presidential campaign:
American plans to introduce an entrance fee for Germans and other Europeans entering the US has been met by harsh criticism. At an EU meeting on Monday, Germany's Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble opposed the plans, saying the plan to charge visitors a fee didn't make sense.

[ ... ]

Washington intends to use the planned fees to finance advertising campaigns for tourism, and estimates from a travel industry lobbying group claim the campaign could create 40,000 jobs in the travel industry. Schäuble has criticized these plans. "Financing a campaign to promote tourism by charging tourists $10 may not be logical," Schäuble said.
Whoever said a Democrat-led government would be logical? Way to mend those fences abroad, sport.

E.T. go home!

Twtterer @betsy2go made this E.T./Nancy Pelosi montage that was too good not to put up. I'm sure this image is somehow racist, or at least sexist. Maybe it's just offensive to aliens being compared to Nancy Pelosi.

Shocker: Dems never DID support Afghan war

This was all over the righty blogs yesterday, but worth noting. The liberal blog Hullabaloo notes:
Escalation is a bad idea. The Democrats backed themselves into defending the idea of Afghanistan being The Good War because they felt they needed to prove their macho bonafides when they called for withdrawal from Iraq. Nobody asked too many questions sat [sic] the time, including me. But none of us should forget that it was a political strategy, not a serious foreign policy.
Well, duh. As if we should ever expect serious foreign policy from the Dems. As Jim Geraghty over at NRO noted:
The average Democrat doesn't like fighting wars. They don't like using military force. They don't just dislike collateral damage and civilian casualties and flag-draped coffins; they cringe at the concept of combat with citizens of another country, even when the president has declared:

Al Qaeda and its allies — the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks — are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the United States homeland from its safe haven in Pakistan. And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban — or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged — that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.

That's not the last president; that's the current president, an entire six months ago.
I wanted to make some acerbic comment on the left's duplicity, but I can do no better than Ace:
You claimed to support a war in which American soldiers were fighting and dying, leaving friends and limbs on the battlefield, as a cynical political strategy?

You... um... voiced support of a real serious-as-death war to cadge votes out of a duped public?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Uh-oh: McChrystal may resign over Obama's "dithering"?

A pissing contest between General Stanley McChrystal and President Obama is about to become very public. McChrystal has had a report ready to go to the White House since late August in which he'll recommend a significant increase in troop levels in Afghanistan, but the Obama administration doesn't want to see the report. Not yet, anyway.

According to Bill Roggio at the Long War Journal, McChrystal is prepared to resign his post if the administration won't listen to him:
Within 24 hours of the leak of the Afghanistan assessment to The Washington Post, General Stanley McChrystal's team fired its second shot across the bow of the Obama administration. According to McClatchy, military officers close to General McChrystal said he is prepared to resign if he isn't given sufficient resources (read "troops") to implement a change of direction in Afghanistan...
Roggio quotes a McClatchy article, which includes this bit from SecDef Robert Gates:
On Thursday, Gates danced around the question of when the administration would be ready to receive McChrystal's request, which was completed in late August. "We're working through the process by which we want that submitted," he said.
Er...what? Working through the process of submitting a report? This ain't that hard, guys. The report's done, all you have to do is ask for it. Unless, that is, you're fully aware of what's in the report and you know the clock will start ticking on making a decision on the recommendations and they're decisions you don't really want to make because you campaigned on the premise that Afghanistan was the "good" war that must be won at all costs and now public sentiment is shifting away from that.

Yeah, that's intentionally a run-on sentence. Get over it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A tax by any other name...

Former Clinton flack George Stephanopoulos did a good job yesterday, drawing out Obama's patented stammer and making him squirm a bit on the question of whether the provision in ObamaCare's individual mandate that allows the IRS to forcibly collect money from those who fail to purchase medical insurance constitutes a "tax". My favorite part is when Obama accuses Stephanopoulos of "stretching" when he recites the definition of a tax from Merriam's dictionary. Obama insists it's merely a "fine". Hot Air has the video, so you can go over there to see it.

To me, the punitive nature of the individual mandate might be the least defensible part of ObamaCare. If it's a tax, then Obama lied about not raising taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year. If it's a fine, then that puts the government in the constitutionally awkward position of forcing citizens to buy a service they may neither need nor want.

Allahpundit provides the perfect explanation of just how this does, in fact, constitute an additional tax:
All of which avoids the basic point: Of course that “fine” is a tax. Imagine if you were allowed to “opt out” of police protection, with your annual tax bill reduced proportionately by the cost of police services that you wouldn’t be using. Inevitably, some who opted out would have a huge (i.e. hugely expensive) police emergency and would call the cops anyway and the rest of us would be on the hook for paying for it. Solution: End the opt out and force people to cover their share of the cost of police services whether they want to or not, which is exactly what cities do. You can call that an “individual police-fee mandate” if your heart desires but most of us recognize it instantly for what it really is — namely, a tax.
Another way to look at this is that health insurance premiums become taxes paid to a third party, while those without health insurance pay the tax directly to the government. How is that not a government takeover of health care?

Corrected: Obama accused George S. of "stretching", not "reaching". If one fails to remember correctly, is that dismembering?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

We'll end up thanking Obama

No, seriously. You! Yeah, you...stop laughing.

Think about it. For years now, conservatives and libertarians have been grumbling about the expansion of the federal government and the concomitant erosion of personal liberties. But it's been a gradual process, sort of a death by a thousand cuts, and a large majority of the American population either didn't notice or shrugged it off. If Big Government had a throttle control scaled 1 to 10, the lever's been generally set at 2 or 3, with occasional forays up to the 4 or 5 range.

But Barack Obama has grabbed that throttle control, slammed it up to 10 and is pushing it past the detent into full afterburner. And suddenly, people are starting to notice. And they're pushing back.

The backlash is just now starting, and the 2010 mid-term elections will be just a sneak preview of things to come. By 2012 or 2014 the sentiment against ever-expanding government control over everything will be undeniable, and we'll have Barack Obama to thank for it.

ACORN's biggest lie

The most outrageous lie from ACORN can be found on this page of their web site:
ACORN is a non-profit, non-partisan social justice organization with national headquarters in New York, New Orleans and Washington, D.C.
Um, OK.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A tale of two crowds

No, this isn't another wingnut post on the Urinary Olympics over the crowd size for the 9/12 protest in Washington, but it's related.

The absolute mess left behind on the National Mall after Barack Obama's inauguration was well-noted on righty blogs, including this one. But what I'd been unable to find until now was anything showing the aftermath of last Saturday's 9/12 rally on the Mall. Roger at XDA, which I read all the time, had it all along and I somehow missed it.

Make of it what you will.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Russian president wants to meet with American "dissidents"

I had it wrong on Twitter earlier this evening. I thought I'd heard earlier in the evening that Vladimir Putin wanted to meet with American dissidents when he visits the US. I was way off. I should have known the whole idea was silly of me.

It was Dmitri Medvedev who said he wants to meet with American dissidents! Boy, do I ever feel like a dork.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says he would like to meet with "dissidents" when he visits the U.S. next week.

Russian news agencies quote him as telling a group of visiting foreign experts that "I believe there are dissidents in the United States."
Yeah, you bet your vodka-soaked ass there are dissidents in the US, sport. We're just not sent off to the gulags. Yet.

Tell you what, D. Come on over to my place and we'll talk.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The OTHER problem with ACORN

As ACORN officials issue one defensive statement after another in response to the devastating revelations about their criminal enterprise, they're revealing to the public what the Right-wing Noise Machine™ has known and been trying to call attention to for a long time: that ACORN is nothing more than an extension of the Democratic party and exists mainly to serve their agenda. Take, for example, this closing paragraph from ACORN's most recent statement announcing suspension of some services:
Said Ms. Lewis: "We have all been deeply disturbed by what we've seen in some of these videos. I must say, on behalf of ACORN's Board and our Advisory Council, that we will go to whatever lengths necessary to reestablish the public trust. For nearly forty years, ACORN has given voice to communities, and gotten results. Right now, our nearly 500,000 member are working their hearts out for quality, affordable healthcare for every American and to help stop the foreclosure crisis. We must get this process right, so the good work can go forward."
Huh-what? Passing the health care reform bill the Democrats so desperately want? Stopping the mortgage crisis of the Democrats' making? When the hell did those two things become ACORN's job? Oh, right...some time around 20 January this year, I guess. I'll go out on a limb here and suggest that ACORN probably wouldn't be too excited about pushing something from the Republican agenda, no matter how good it would be for everyone. Like tort reform, let's say. Or school vouchers. Or building nuclear plants and expanding domestic oil and natural gas production.

And that's the other problem with ACORN. Not so much that they're relentless advocates for the Democrats' agenda, but that they receive taxpayer funding to be advocates for the Democrats' agenda! They have zero accountability to Congress and therefore to the taxpayers who fund them.

So here's a challenge for the two or three people who might read a non-profit community organization pushing a Republican agenda receiving taxpayer funding.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The public face of ACORN

I remember seeing this guy on TV a couple times during the campaign when allegations about ACORN were really starting to boil over. Scott Levenson is easily the smarmiest, sleaziest most condescending spokescritter to ever hold the job. Oh, and as Allahpundit says, unctuous. If this is the best guy ACORN can put forward, just how rotten are the rest of ACORN's members?

Don't view the video above if you've got a queasy stomach. Instead, watch this's basically what Levenson is reduced to:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

ACORN: Ready, fire, aim

ACORN is reacting predictably in the wake of the damning video evidence of their criminal activities by threatening legal action and denying that they are, in fact, a criminal enterprise disguised as advocates for social justice.
I am appalled and angry; I cannot and I will not defend the actions of the workers depicted in the video, who have since been terminated. But it is clear that the videos are doctored, edited, and in no way the result of the fabricated story being portrayed by conservative activist "filmmaker" O'Keefe and his partner in crime. And, in fact, a crime it was - our lawyers believe a felony - and we will be taking legal action against Fox and their co-conspirators.
So, let's see...the video tapes were doctored and edited and the whole story "fabricated", yet they still fired the workers involved. Way to undermine your own assertion, ACORN.

On top of that, they're targeting Fox News and their "co-conspirators". Fox had nothing to do with the production of the videos and merely reported on the furor that arose over them after they were posted on and YouTube. Their motive in targeting Fox is a two-fer; they get to go after the big, bad Fox News Channel, plus they surely have deeper pockets than Hanna Giles and James O'Keefe, the two independent producers of the videos.

But there's a saying I've heard regarding civil lawsuits: "Discovery's a bitch." During the discovery phase of a lawsuit, the defendants get to demand all kinds of information of the plaintiff, information which may not be in ACORN's best interests to disclose. And in naming Fox in a possible suit, they'll have battalions of Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp attorneys to contend with.

I hope ACORN is foolish enough to go forward with a lawsuit. It'll be fun to watch.

Update: Good lord...yet another video released, this time from NYC. Ed at Hot Air says the same thing today that I said yesterday.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"The powers that be" are protecting ACORN

Back in June, nearly three months before James O'Keefe's exposé blew the lid off the criminal enterprise that is ACORN, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) backed off from his plan to investigate the taxpayer-funded liberal activist group.
"The powers that be decided against it," Mr. Conyers told The Washington Times as he left the House chambers Wednesday.

The chairman declined to elaborate, shrugging off questions about who told him how to run his committee and give the Democrat-allied group a pass.
So just who are the powers that be? The paragraph following those quoted above implies that Conyers was referring to himself, but it really doesn't matter. As a Democrat he certainly is one of "the powers that be" so it probably wouldn't have taken much arm-twisting by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid or Barack Obama to dissuade Conyers from pursuing his investigation, which was surely political grandstanding for public consumption, anyway.

Under the stimulus Obama's political remuneration bill, ACORN stands to receive some $5.2 billion in funding. That's close to the annual budget of the Department of Commerce and more than that of the Army Corps of Engineers, and effectively elevates ACORN national president Maude Hurd to a cabinet-level post. I guess that makes her Community Organizing Czar.

Clearly, ACORN needs to be investigated for its criminal activities. Just don't hold your breath waiting for it from a Democrat-controlled Congress or an Obama-controlled Justice Department.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Washington money

Each Labor Day, the Washington Post runs a feature listing salaries for various jobs in and around Washington, DC. A few interesting ones:

Marion Barry, City Councilman, Washington, D.C.: $125,583
$125K a year will buy a lot of crack!

Stephen Dumaine, Tuba Player, National Symphony Orchestra, Washington, D.C.: $125,000
That salary makes getting your ass kicked in high school worth it, I guess.

Gustavo Carpio, Shoe Shiner, Ashburn, VA: $32,000
32 grand a year for shining shoes?

Jimmy McKennelly, Panhandler, Washington, D.C.: $20 a day
$7,300 a year may not sound like much, but he's got low overhead.

Alexander Ovechkin, Hockey Player, Washington Capitals: $9 million
But his dental expenses consume half of it.

Josh Wicks, Goalkeeper, D.C. United (Soccer), Washington, D.C.: $42,000
Should've taken up hockey instead.

Lonnie Wade Jr., Dead Animal Operator, Department of Public Works, Washington, D.C.: $38,000
I guess just figuring out how to operate a dead animal is worth $38 grand to the city.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

It's NOT the speech, stupid

Lefties everywhere are having themselves a good laugh over righties' objections to Barack Obama's upcoming address to American schoolchildren. Some columnists, such as Bob Ray Sanders, find it all "so sinister and so sickening".
Unfortunately for a growing number of frightened, misguided and hate-filled Americans, this president should not and must not be a role model for their children. Therefore, their young sons and daughters should not be in class — or perhaps even in school — if there’s a remote possibility that the plague-spreading left-wing devil called Obama will speak to them.

They’ve labeled him the Antichrist who is set on desecrating the Constitution, destroying the country and annihilating their children’s futures.

It is theater of the absurd, being played out in exaggerated dramatic fashion on stages large and small — in offices, backrooms, broadcast studios and on the World Wide Web.

I would find it laughable if it were not so tragic, so sinister and so sickening.
First of all, the outrage isn't about the speech itself, but the original (and since stricken) "guidance" provided to educators to accompany the broadcast. Obama's Department of Education Indoctrination suggested teachers assign students the task of writing themselves a letter detailing ways in which the student can help Barack Obama. How creepy is that? If Obama simply gave a speech to kids exhorting them to stay in school, study hard, and work hard, and a handful of kids heeded his words, have at it, sport. Hell, do a weekly address. But, no, the original intent was to bolster his personality cult.

Second of all, Sanders, where the hell were you for the last eight years when the collective fevered mind of the left accused Bush of everything from being a warmonger to being evil incarnate?

Fucking hypocrite.

H/T Hot Air headlines for the Sanders column.

Thank your lucky czars

Much is being made over Barack Obama's legion of "czars", one of which had his shit kicked to the curb this weekend for being a communist and all-around dickhead.

The number of czars varies depending on the source, but the numbers I hear most often are north of 30. Which sounds like an awful lot because, well, it is. So I did some Googling to see if I could find a definitive list of czars in the Obama White House and - sorry all you Glenn Beck haters - the most complete list I found was this one. Beck lists 32 czars, and marks with an asterisk those positions which existed in prior administrations. There are eight such posts, leaving us with 24 "czar" positions created by this administration. But are there really 24 new positions reporting to the Executive Office of the President? Er, no.

Take for example David Hayes, "California Water Czar". His real title is Deputy Interior Secretary. He was confirmed by the Senate and reports to Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior. So this is most likely an existing position given a different, dedicated mission.

And then there's Ashton Carter, "Weapons Czar", a kick-ass job title if ever there was one. He's actually Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, reporting to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

And...well actually, that's it. So even after the asterisks and the positions that exist elsewhere, we've still got 22 newly-minted czars courtesy of Barack Obama. I'll throw out a figure of $160,000 for an average annual salary, putting the czar payroll budget at around $3.5 million a year.

As Beck points out, nearly all (if not all) of these positions overlap significantly with established agencies. And some of them are (or at least sound) just plain silly, such as "Great Lakes Czar" (Cameron Davis) and "Domestic Violence Czar" (Lynn Rosenthal). That's not to trivialize these issues, particularly domestic violence, but does Obama really need "czars" covering them? Hardly. Hey, how about a Silly Walks Czar?

Clearly, these jobs are exactly what they appear to be: political patronage for campaign services rendered or money contributed. They're accountable to nobody, and - at best - represent a waste of money and - at worst - an extra-Constitutional branch of the federal government.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Notes on Fredericksburg, VA health care town hall

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) held a health care town hall at the Fredericksburg Expo Center last night, which was heavily attended. Mrs. Pool Bar and I went, and I had a few questions I was prepared to ask, but alas, never got the chance. Numbers were handed out on request on the way in, and then randomly drawn during the event. Unfortunately, my luck was about as good as it is with any other kind of raffle, but I thought it was about as fair a way of selecting questions as could be asked for.

Some observations...

I would guess the anti-Obamacare crowd at about 65-70% of attendees. Not too surprising in this part of the state, even factoring in the oh-so-blue city of Fredericksburg.

My wife and I were seated next to a gentleman who was decidedly pro-healthcare reform. After we cheered an anti-Obamacare sign, he joked "I feel like I'm at the Alamo." He was a good-natured guy, and we chatted with him throughout much of the event, and I think that atmosphere was also reflected throughout much of the rest of the event. I saw no bickering among individuals from opposing sides, which may be attributable to the fact that...

The and SEIU contingents were notably absent from this event. There was some pro-healthcare reform group or another handing out pro-reform signs to any takers on the way in, but I'm not sure what group they were with. In any event, this gives lie to the left's claim that anti-Obamacare protesters are "astroturfers" in the employ of the GOP, the health insurance lobby, etc.

Only at one point did someone stand up and start ranting without his number being called, but he was eventually silenced. He was a bit too far away to see if he was escorted out or just persuaded to sit down and shut up, and it was all handled by event staff with no need for the cops to get involved.

A transplant from Britain was lucky enough to get called on, and he proceeded to deliver a litany of reasons why our government should stay the hell out of the health care business. He received a standing ovation from a large majority of the crowd.

Sen. Warner himself was clearly in favor of some kind of health care reform, but was careful not to take a position on this health care reform bill. He did acknowledge after someone brought up the issue of tort reform that tort reform is needed, but he was clearly reluctant to link it to health care reform.

A couple of my favorite signs:

"This wise Latina says NO to Obamacare"


Thursday, September 03, 2009

Health care town hall tonight in Fredericksburg

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) is hosting a health care town hall at the Fredericksburg Expo Center in Fredericksburg, VA. Mrs. Pool Bar and I will be there, and if given the opportunity, here's a partial list of questions I plan on asking:
Back in July, the Obama administration and Democratic leaders in Congress were frantically trying to rush a vote on an eleven hundred-page health care reform bill which was not yet finished, and none of them had read. Why?

The stated purpose of health care reform is to drive down costs associated with health care and make it more affordable. One of the biggest contributors to health care costs are legal costs and malpractice insurance expenses incurred by health care professionals, and yet Democrats in Congress consistently resist any efforts at tort reform. Why?

HR 3200 includes individual mandates, requiring citizens – under threat of tax penalties - to carry medical coverage for themselves and any dependents. From which article does Congress derive the Constitutional authority to compel private citizens to purchase something they may neither need nor want?
Still compiling more questions as I research more.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

File under "What if Bush did it?"

Twitter user clobrien tweeted this item this morning, pointing to a White House "Secret Plan to Harvest Personal Data from Social Networking Sites". The only quibble I have with her tweet is that the plan is not very secret.

Her tweet links to an article at National Legal and Policy Center which describes a request for contract proposals (PDF of the RFQ) from the White House New Media Office for contractors to submit bids to "ensure that content published by the Executive Office of the President (EOP) on publicly-accessible web sites is archived in accordance with the Presidential Records Act (PRA)".

OK fine, you say. The White House wants to make sure that whatever they publish on sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter gets properly archived. But that's not all, folks. From the RFQ:
The contractor shall provide the necessary services to capture, store, extract to approved formats, and transfer content published by EOP on publicly-accessible web sites, along with information posted by non-EOP persons [That'd be me and you! --ed.] on publicly-accessible web sites where the EOP offices under PRA maintains a presence, throughout the term of the contract.
The term of the contract, not coincidentally, is eight years (base year plus seven renewals).

NLPC nails the big problem with this at the close:
Perhaps anticipating negative reaction to the invasiveness of the plan, a justification is provided in a Q&A. section of the solicitation. Question #9 reads:

The Presidential Records Act does not require the storage or archiving of non-EOP content, as such is there a specific reason as to why the content provided on EOP related websites in the form of comments is included in these archiving procedures?

Answer: The PRA includes in its definition of presidential records content ―received by PRA components and personnel. Out of an abundance of caution, we are treating comments made by non-PRA personnel on sites on which a PRA component has a presence as presidential records, requiring them to be captured or sampled.

Of course, this interpretation of the Presidential Records Act is so expansive that virtually any communication mentioning the president or the Administration could become subject to collection and archiving under the Act. This is not out of an “abundance of caution,” but out of an over-abundance of power. President Obama should make sure that this plan goes no further.
There's that overly-broad definition problem again. NLPC correctly points out that under the definitions in the RFQ, nearly any mention of the administration by non-EOP users can be considered appropriate content to harvest.

Oh, and by the way...White House staffers are already doing this, they just need a more efficient tool. From the RFQ:
Currently, the Government team is capturing the data and content both programmatically (via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) from social networks) and manually (through daily screen shots).
I'm sure the ACLU will be all over this any minute. Yessiree, any minute now.