Saturday, September 12, 2009

March on Washington 9/12/2009

Due to a mechanical problem, Liberty Watchman was not able to attend the march in Washington, DC today.   However, here are some videos he has culled from the event.

Attendance figures will be hotly debated as they always are for protests at the Capitol.  The Watchman has yet to see a good aerial photo so he reserves judgment on the final count.  However, from the pics he's seen and this map of the mall, a minimum of 240,000 seems likely.

Here's a nice time lapse video of the crowd building at the start near the white house

A nice medley of images from the protest.

This is a very moving video warning not to underestimate the will of the American people.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

You Lie!

The most dramatic moment in the President's address to Congress last night was when Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) hurled this verbal missile at the President: "You Lie!"  Every head in the room craned around to see who had the audacity to say something like that.  House nanny, Nancy Pelosi, known for her windswept wallpaper-like visage on such nights (or is it every night?), glared in disbelief at her petulant charge.  Even President Obama momentarily locked eyes in a death-grip stare-down with Joe.  It was must-see-TV.

Can we set aside the question of veracity for a moment?  I mean -- just for a moment -- let's not debate whether the President actually lied or not, nor whether Congressman Wilson lied when he called Obama a liar, nor any Pilatian meditation of "Veritas?  Veritas?"  I know it's hard, but let's set that issue aside for just a few paragraphs.

Nobody enjoys a good, spirited political debate more than the Watchman.  He doesn't mind a little old fashioned political mud wrestling or verbal sparing.  He prefers a reasoned argument that avoids ad hominem attacks, but in his weaker moments, he's been known to hurl the occasional epithet himself.  He's not proud of it, but it happens.

And such is the traditional of our country.  If anyone thinks that political discourse has become more base, crude, or vile in our generation, he need only read the political commentary of the revolutionary era.  Even by today's standards, the language and attacks of that day could curl your hair.

And while the Watchman believes that these behaviors are just fine in the digital ink of a blog page, the curtained stage of a political debate, or the open air of a town hall meeting, he thinks there are still some lines that should not be blithely crossed.

One of those lines is a joint session of Congress where the heads of all three branches of the federal government are present to exchange ideas.  If we don't reserved any hallowed locations or occasions for statesmanship without rancor, we might as well dump our constitutional system in favor of  a parlamentary melee.

Have you ever seen the parlamentary sessions that the British call the "Prime Minister's Questions"?  Why you would think that a football game had broke out indoors complete with cheering, booing, grumbling, gufawing, and all other manner of boisterous behavior.  I think they draw the line at flipping the bird, but that's about it.

And that's the world's tame parlament.  Shall we abandon all decorum and become like the Russians...

...or the Koreans, where even the ladies duke it out...

...or, Heaven help us, like the Bolivians?

What ever happened to the artfully crafted zinger as when Lloyd Benson said to Dan Quayle, "I know Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. And you sir, are no Jack Kennedy". And who could ever forget Reagan's backhanded slam of a reporter's question about his age? Reagan said, "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience."

By comparison, "You Lie!" seems singularly lacking in creativity, wit, and wisdom. "Liar, liar, pants on fire!" would at least have been more entertaining.

I really enjoy the pomp and circumstance that goes along with the beginning of a joint session of Congress.  I still get a thrill when the doorkeeper of the house stands just inside the door and bellows, "Madame Speaker, The President of the United States!" and everyone rises to give the President a thundering ovation.  Call me old fashion, but I like the formal way in which one branch of government honors the head of another branch even when that head is a sniveling weasel (digital ink... it's OK)

Will the day soon arrive when the door keeper is reduce to the role of a WWE announcer, "And in this corner, at 6' 1'' and weighing 155 pounds including the 1200 pages of his health care bill, Barak 'The Bomber' Obama!  We've got a great match up tonight folks, a tag team event with 'The Bomber' and his partner Nancy 'Stretch' Pelosi vs Joe 'Loose Lips' Wilson and his tag partner..."  Well, you get the idea.

To prevent this slide into Vince McMahon's world, the Watchman encourages a return to the traditional standards of congressional decorum.  It's good that Mr Wilson was rebuked for his conduct and very good that he quickly offered a genuine apology and not the kind of whiny explanation that usually passes for an apology in Washington.

And while we are at it, let's have an apology from Mr Obama for his use of the word 'lie'.  I guess the passive voice in that sentence softens the blow somewhat.  It's a half step better than "You Lie!", but only a half step.

Let not conservative leaders extol Congressman Wilson as some kind of truth-telling hero. [editor's note:  14 paragraphs.  Not bad.]  He set a bad example and made a terrible precedent.  Do not embrace his mistake.  Leave the name calling to us bloggers.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

263 Speeches in 231 Days

Aside from the military, the most powerful weapon at the disposal of the President of the United States is what Theodore Roosevelt called the "bully pulpit" -- the premiere platform from which to advocate an agenda.

CBS newsman Mark Knoller has chronicled President Obama's use of the bully pulpit as follows:
  • 263 speeches or remarks
  • 231 days in office
  • 32   more speeches than days served
Unfortunately Teddy forgot to tell President Obama that the bully pulpit is an asset class of diminishing returns.  The more a President uses it, the less it's worth.  And like every account at the government's disposal, this one has been spent down to zero and now runs a deficit.

Rather than lay off the bully pulpit credit card for a while to let the account rebuild, Obama will pull out his Presidential Gold Card one more time tonight at a joint session of Congress.

What's he planning to buy (or should I say sell)?  Health care, of course.

But that account is overdrawn too:
  • 28   speeches on health care
  • 121 remarks mentioning health care
Like the dizzy dame who can't understand how her account can be overdrawn when she still has checks left, the President will attempt to pass some more bad paper tonight.

Except for gender, the dizzy dame analogy is spot on.  Obama refuses to believe there's anything actually wrong with his health care proposal.  It doesn't matter that our existing government health plans, medicare and medicaid, are in the red to the tune of $53.7 Trillion (with a 'T').  He's still got checks in the check book!

He believes that by the force of his own magnetic personality he can finally persuade the electorate and the Congress to accept his bad check tonight.

As my father likes to say, "You're just not holding your face right."

But even the bully pulpit won't save Mr Obama's health care plan.  And with it's demise perhaps the nation will have a chance to put it's financial house in order.  Maybe.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent...

...was one summer away from Washington, DC.

If you haven't seen Rep Hall's (D-IN) Mea Maxima Culpa gem yet, you gotta spend 50 seconds between 3:00 and 3:50 on this clip.

Encourage, Inspire, but Expect?

President Obama's release yesterday of his speech to America's students might be the most anticlimactic Presidential press release in recent memory.  As expected, it's a call to work hard, study hard, stay in school, don't give up and don't give in.  All good stuff.

Well done, Mr President.  You gave us exactly what everyone expected.  That is, you gave us exactly what every President says to students in every era.  Drab, but safe.

Of course if the President had been inclined to say anything non-standard, that impulse probably fled quickly after all the hubbub over the speech and especially over the accompanying lesson plans.  Did he want to say something else -- something more -- and change his mind in the end?  We'll probably never know.

But now that he has chosen the safe road, the predictable road, let's move on, right?  I may take a lot of flack for this, but in this masterpiece of political correctness I still find something disquieting... even slightly disturbing.

Am I the only person in America who finds the President's use of the word 'expect' a bit out of place?  He uses it three times in the speech.  First, he sets the stage by saying,
"So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I'm here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I'm here because I want to talk with you about your education and what's expected of all of you in this new school year."
In the passive voice this doesn't catch in the lint trap of the mind quite so much as the subsequent uses.
"They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same."
The President expects.  Somehow that strikes me as odd in this context.
"So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don't let us down - don't let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it."
Let's see.  Parents and teachers can expect students to get serious.  Parents and teachers can expect a student to put forward his/her best effort.  And Parents and Teachers can expect great things from students.  But does a President of the United States have the right to impose his expectations on American students? Even when those expectations are quite healthy and likely align with the goals and desires of the parents and teachers?

No, I don't think so.  We might anticipate that a President would encourage students to get serious, or encourage them to put their best effort into everything, or encourage great things from each student.  We might even imagine the President sharing stories (as he did in this speech) to inspire getting serious, putting forth their best effort, and getting great things from them.

But to expect?  Am I the only one who feels like saying, "Who does this guy think he is?  What right does he have to lay his expectations -- however noble -- on my child?"  He may be the President of the United States and he may be due certain honors and respect.  But he crosses a line when he thinks he has the right to expect anything from children who are not his own.

It's possible he meant something different.  When one says, "I expect", it can mean two very different things.  It can mean, "You better do it," or it can mean "I have every confidence that you will achieve it."

A master orator like President Obama certainly knows this distinction.  In his trio of expectations he almost seems to move from "You better get serious" and "you better put your best effort into everything" to "I have every confidence that you will achieve great things."

Maybe this is Obama's idea of tough love.  No doubt he's worried about students who might drop out.  Such students might need a bit of tough talk.  But is he their Papa that he has the right to deliver that tough talk to them?

Nah.  I'm giving him too much credit.  In his model the government is the supreme being.  Government knows best.  He has already exerted authority over the financial system, the automotive industry, pay scales, etc.  Now he wants to exert authority over health care, one sixth of the US economy.  His ultimate goal is to exert authority over every aspect of the economy so that he can more equitably redistribute wealth.  So why wouldn't he be trying to excercise that same  authority over students?

I think he is.

Local Media Ignore Massive Tea Party Express Turnout

Today's Tea Party Express stop in New Lennox, IL was -- by a substantial margin -- the most highly attended political event in the Chicago metro area on this Labor Day holiday.  Despite the news worthiness of this event, only one major media outlet covered the story: ABC

Kudos to ABC for covering the story at all -- even allocating a helicopter to show the crowd size.  Still, a number of editorial decisions were made which show a bias against this story.

At no point do they say what the crowd size was other than to call it 'big'.  Yet they have no problem stating the crowd size for the Immigration Reform rally at Federal Plaza, even using the organizers hyper-inflated estimate of 4,000 attendees.  NBC estimated that crowd at 200.  Official police estimates for the New Lennox event range from 8,000 to over 10,000, but ABC just calls that 'big'.

They end the story with a real hatchet job in which they videotape two women expressing concerns over their loss of freedoms.  The piece then cuts away from the video and back to the reporter who says when she asked the ladies to explain which freedoms they have lost, one gives a lame answer and the other no specific answer at all.

Certainly there are dopes in any crowd and perhaps the reporter found two at this rally.  But why not broadcast the ladies responses so the audience can judge for themselves rather than depend on the reporter's interpretation of their answers?

If you didn't see the story over the air, good luck finding it on the local ABC web site.  Navigation on their site is confusing enough as it is, but when you bury the story  'below the fold' as the 10th of 12 segments, you pretty much ensure it will never be seen again.  And when the 9th segment is a three paragraph blurb about how Metra now takes credit cards -- a story of award winning merit, I'm sure you will agree -- you realize this story was buried in the 10 slot on purpose.

Despite the bias, at least ABC covered the story, which is more than can be said for CBS, NBC or Fox News Chicago.  NBC did a small text piece on their web site, but no video coverage.

Even more shocking was the lack of any story by the Fox News Channel (either over the air or on the web) despite having Griff Jenkins present to cover the story.  It's possible that FNC may have covered the story in one of their 30-second 'between the shows' news updates, but there was no major coverage during The Factor, Hannity, or On the Record.

How can a significant story like this have been so completely ignored by virtually every main stream media outlet in town?  Is this a continuation of the liberal press bias or just a dropped ball on a holiday?  You decide.

Liberty Watchman and Illinois Review seem to have scooped the entire blogosphere on this story.

*** Late Edition ***

NBC finally did attach a silent video to their web post, but there was no on-air coverage.

Monday, September 7, 2009

New Lennox Barn Burner

Liberty Watchman had the privilege of attending the Tea Party Express stop in New Lennox, IL today.  The crowd was huge -- over 10,000 (Sheriff's estimate).  Traffic on Interstate 80 was backed up for 2 miles in each direction and not everyone who wanted to attend was able to get in.

The Watchman's other videos didn't turn out so well, so enjoy these from Illinois Review

Friday, September 4, 2009

Durbin Needs Drubbin' For Made-to-Order Town Halls

After saying that town hall meetings are "not worth my time", Illinois Senator Dick Durbin designed his own politically bullet-proof health care "listening session" for 9:30 AM September 4th in the booming metropolis of Quincy, IL.

The meeting:
  • consists only of Durbin and his hand-picked attendees.
  • is not open to the public -- at least not apparently,
  • was announced only the night before it would take place, and
  • is being held in a relatively small, remote town in Illinois.
This was not Durbin's first 'listening session' this summer, but they have all followed the same closed-to-the-public pattern with little or no notice in advance.

They are clearly fig leaf gestures designed to create (im)plausible deniability against charges that Durbin cowered in a corner during the entire congressional break.  But that, in fact, is just what our Senior Senator did and no amount of 'listening session' flim flam will deceive the voters of Illinois into thinking otherwise come the next election.

Barney Frank or Dick Durbin?  Hari Kari is not an option.

At least Barney shows up to a public meeting.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Public Option Top 10 List

Top 10 indicators that your are in a single payer health care system:

#10 - Your annual breast exam is done at Hooters

#9 - Directions to your doctor's office include "Take a left when you enter the trailer park."

#8 - The tongue depressors taste faintly of Fudgsicles.

#7 - The only proctologist in the plan is "Gus" from Roto-Rooter

#6 - The only item listed under Preventive Care Coverage is "and apple a day..."

#5 - Your primary care physician is wearing the pants you gave to Goodwill last month.

#4 - "The patient is responsible for 200% of out-of-network charges," is not a typographical error.

#3 - The only expense covered 100% is "embalming".

#2 - Your Prozac comes in different colors with little M's on them.

And the #1 indication that you are in a single payer health care system:

#1 - You ask for Viagra and they give you a Popsicle stick and duct tape.

A tip of the hat to the Watchman's nurse in Milwaukee.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Schakowski Stacked the Deck

It took about 24 hours to piece this together, but it appears likely that Rep Jan Schakowski 'stacked the deck' on Monday's town hall meeting by bringing in 5 to 10 bus loads of her supporters and allowing them into the auditorium before the rest of the crowd.

On the day of the meeting, only one entrance to the building was open at Niles West High School in Skokie.  That was the north entrance.  Liberty Watchman arrived about an hour before the scheduled start time and saw five yellow school buses parked at the south entrance.  As he parked his car, he saw the last two people get off the buses and enter the high school through the south entrance.  They did not appear to the Watchman's old eyes to be high school age persons.

While unloading from his car, the Watchman observed the buses depart from the school leaving behind a man to stand guard on the south portal and direct all other attendees to walk all the way around the building to the north entrance.

On Tuesday, blog reader 'Illinois Patriot', who also came to the town hall meeting and couldn't get in, told the Watchman that he talked to people on the scene who said as many as 10 buses arrived at the school that evening.  These observations corroborated the account of another man who the Watchman observed walking briskly out of the meeting before it ended, saying "she stacked the deck by filling the room with her own people."  The man stormed away before the Watchman could follow up on that claim.

Unless someone can come forward with an alternate explanation for why there would be so many buses at the school long after students had gone home, I think it's safe to assume they shuttled Schakowski's lackeys and supporters to the town hall meeting.

Let's do some math.  Each of these buses had a capacity of 36-78 passengers and we know that between 5 and 10 buses arrived at the school.  That would mean that somewhere between 180 and 780 of the 1300 attendees were Schakowski's ringers.  That would also explain why the pro-Obama protesters outside the building outnumbered their opponents by at least 2-to-1.

Reports like this are coming in from all around the nation.  What began as a legitimate grass roots protest against Obamacare and excessive government spending has been hijacked by the well-oiled democrat machine.

The Watchman took the following video outside the Schakowski meeting.  Note that as we have seen in many other locations, the pro-Obama signs are all professionally printed while the Obamacare opponents virtually all had hand written/painted signs.

Now that the town hall meetings have become one big statist coordinated farce, it's on to Washington, DC on September 12th for the National Tea Party protest.  Liberty Watchman will be there, video camera in hand, to bring you his first had perspective.


I saw this video on Hannity, but didn't realize it was taken at Schakowski's party. Is there any doubt that these town halls are now a deomocrat sham?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hold That Seat, Please!

Illinois Review has collected a few tidbits from disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's new book, The Governor.  Regarding conversations between Blago and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel,  the AP's  Deanna Bellandi writes:

When Mr. Blagojevich talked to Mr. Emanuel after the election about the Senate pick, Mr. Obama's right-hand man "did not lobby for anyone in particular," according to the book. 
Mr. Blagojevich said Mr. Emanuel was interested in his own career because he had to give up his congressional seat to work in the Obama White House. Mr. Blagojevich writes that Mr. Emanuel dreamed of being speaker of the House and wanted to know whether Mr. Blagojevich would work with him to name a successor to "hold" his seat until he wanted it back.
"Did not lobby for anyone in particular?"  A senate seat is up for grabs and Blago expects us to believe that the White House did not suggest even one potential appointee?  Well, the Watchman guesses he has to write his book in a way that lines up with his court case, now doesn't he.

What is believable, however, is that "Rahmbo" Rahm "Dead Fish" Emanuel wanted Blago to hold his congressional seat for him by appointing a 'place holder' who presumably would step down whenever Rahmbo decided he wanted the seat back.

Liberty Watchman is reminded of the disgusting irony that 'Emanuel' means 'God with us'.  Apparently Mr Emanuel thinks he is God and is entitled to a congressional-throne-for-life just like Ted Kennedy.  The arrogance of this class of politician must be a stench in the the nose of the One True God.  Is it any wonder that in a recent Rasmussen poll, 57% of the American people want to replace the entire Congress, en masse? 

Whether Blagojevich told the truth on Emanuel or a lie, he's now created an adversary on par with the US Attorney.  From now on (or at least until he goes to prison) Blago better smell his mail before he opens it and check his car before he starts it.

Another claim in Blago's book is that he was all set to appoint Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to Obama's vacant senate seat when his own indictment scuttled the deal.  The trouble with that claim is why has  Madigan declined to run for the seat since then?  No, here we have another bit of the book that has to line up with coming court testimony I guess.  He sure can't chronicle in his book how he offered the seat to the highest bidder.

The Watchman wonders if even slick Rod Blagojevich has a hard time keeping track of which statements he has made that are truth versus which ones are fiction.

Bean, Schakowski Town Halls

Thirteen hundred voters showed up for Rep Jan Schakowski's Town Hall meeting on Monday.  At least that many were turned away for lack of seating capacity at Niles West High School.  Liberty Watchman arrived an hour before the meeting started, but even that wasn't early enough to get a seat.

Schakowski finally sent out a lackey to invite those who couldn't get in to attend a Town Hall teleconference on September 9th.  Unfortunately, most of those who couldn't get it had already gone home.  LW saw only a half page of names and phone numbers that had been taken down for the teleconference.

Outside were dozens of protesters, the majority of whom were Obamacare supporters.  As usual, the pro-Obama folks had professionally printed signs while the other side had only hand-written signs.

LW spoke to one man who left the meeting early.  He was mad as a wet hen suggesting that the meeting was stacked with Schakowski supporters.  He told of Schakowski being asked if she would take a survey of her constituents before voting on any bill.  The Congresswoman replied rather lamely that she only takes a survery of her constituents every two years.

Here is a tremendous example of grass roots protesting.  Five women organized a town hall meeting and invited Melissa Bean, Mark Kirk, and Dick Durbin to attend (two of the three have refused to attend open town hall meetings).  None of the politicians showed up of course so the ladies set up life size photographs of each pol and they had their meeting anyway.  They called it the "with or without you" town hall.

Below is the video of the empty chair town hall meeting.  One highlight:  a man says, "Illinois has a kind of term limits.  One term in office and a second term in jail!"

Thanks for Cal Skinner's McHenry county blog for the "with or without you" video.