Is this something “we” ought to be concerned about…?

A Perspective … in the end it’s all about disclosure & transparency

Is this something “we” ought to be concerned about…?

Military control of civilian options
This seems a lot worse than anything McChrystal said in front of a Rolling Stone reporter:

In Woodward’s account, even after Obama decided to send 30,000 more troops, the Pentagon kept coming back with plans involving 40,000.

Even after he decided not to pursue an all-out counterinsurgency campaign, the Pentagon kept coming back with plans involving just that.
Obama also kept asking his generals for more options to consider.

They were playing the old trick of giving the president three pseudo-options — two that were clearly unacceptable (in this case, 80,000 more troops for full counterinsurgency and 10,000 troops just to train Afghan soldiers) and the one in the middle that they wanted (40,000 more troops).

They never gave him another option. When Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, drew up a compromise plan involving 20,000 troops (believing the president had a right to see a wide span of options, even if the military didn’t agree with them), Mullen forbade him from taking it outside the Pentagon.

Obama never saw it.

In the end, Woodward reveals, Obama devised his own alternative strategy and personally wrote out its terms in a six-page, single-spaced memo that he made his top civilian and military advisers read and sign on to. (Woodward reprints the memo in the back of the book.)

That’s from Fred Kaplan, who also sees signs that the Obama administration is beginning an endgame for the war in Afghanistan.

And if you want more from Woodward, The Post has been printing excerpts from his book this week.

By Ezra Klein | September 29, 2010; 4:54 PM ET

These are the type of “games”

A Perspective … in the end it’s all about disclosure & transparency

These are the type of “games” that kids play … but … they don’t get paid the big buck$ or swear an oath “to serve & to protect” … what hypocrisy…

Senate won’t allow Obama recess appointments …By MANU RAJU … 9/30/10 1:20 AM EDT … Updated: 9/30/10 9:42 AM EDT

President Barack Obama won’t be able to make recess appointments under a bipartisan Senate deal struck Wednesday night.

Under the deal, the Senate will hold pro forma sessions – where the presiding officer will gavel in, and gavel out – so that the chamber technically will stay in session, even though legislative business won’t occur until after the November elections. By technically staying in session about twice a week, Obama won’t be able to use his constitutional authority to bypass the Senate and install political appointees temporarily during extended recesses.

Both sides got a partial victory out of Wednesday night’s accord. It ensures that Republican senators can’t send Obama’s nominees back to the White House, which would have forced the administration to renominate the choices even if they were partially through the legislative process.

Senators have the authority to send back judicial and executive branch nominees if the chamber recesses for more than 30 days, and doing so would have angered Democrats trying to shepherd through a slew of stalled Obama nominees.

And Republicans scored a victory by ensuring Obama can’t make recess appointments before the Senate returns for official business November 15.

After he became majority leader in 2007, Sen. Harry Reid began employing the practice to stop President George W. Bush from making recess appointments.

Even though Reid stopped scheduling pro forma sessions in 2009 when Obama took office, some of the president’s recess appointments – namely Don Berwick to head Medicare and Medicaid programs and Craig Becker to serve on the National Labor Relations Board – sparked fierce GOP outcry.

And you trust her…?

A Perspective … in the end it’s all about disclosure & transparency

“Stimulus Jan” Strikes again… and again …

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 07:18 AM PDT … Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Arizona’s queen of making up shit, Jan Brewer, is at it again.

Brewer opposed federal stimulus funds. She has said that she would have voted against the stimulus bill if she had a vote in Congress.

But Brewer went with hat in hand to accept the federal stimulus funds she said she opposed.

In making disbursements under the federal stimulus bill (a power given to governors under the language of the bill), Brewer is now falsely claiming that these disbursements are job creation by the office of Governor rather than federal stimulus funds (something hypocritical Republicans have been doing all over the country).

Brewer’s pockets would be empty but for the federal stimulus funds she is simply doling out. Arizonans know that Jan Brewer is a liar (“headless bodies in the desert”) who cannot be trusted.

The Arizona Democratic Party has issued this press release:

‘Stimulus Jan’ strikes again… and again…Brewer continues to bash feds but take credit for job creation funded by federal stimulus

PHOENIX – It happened again today. In fact, it’s happened at least a dozen times since August.

A press release goes out, topped with a large headline proclaiming that Gov. Brewer is doing something to create jobs or help the business or education communities.

This is blatant hypocrisy. Brewer’s entire campaign is based on bashing the federal government. Yet she is pretending that these job creation efforts — funded by federal stimulus dollars – are a result of her own leadership.

This pattern isn’t new. We highlighted it on Aug 20. We highlighted it way back on Jan. 11, just after her State of the State address.

And now it’s picking up speed as Election Day approaches [See list below of 12 recent Brewer press release headlines]

Last 6 weeks of Brewer press releases taking credit for job creation from stimulus funding:

Aug. 11 “Governor Jan Brewer and City of Surprise Welcome Rioglass Solar to Arizona” ($10.6 million)

Aug. 16 “Governor Jan Brewer Announces Energy Innovation Grants” ($3.4 million)

Aug. 17 “Governor Jan Brewer Announces Success in Obtaining College Access Challenge Grant to Aid Low-Income Students” ($2.9 million)

Aug. 17 “Governor Jan Brewer Hails Success in Securing Funding for Arizona Forest Restoration Initiative”
($2 million)

Aug. 26 “Governor Jan Brewer Announces $2.7 Million in Grants for Renewable Energy Manufacturers” ($2.7 million)

Aug. 27 “Governor Jan Brewer Adds Funding Support for Public Safety” ($10 million)

Sept. 3 “Governor Jan Brewer Announces Energy Awards for Rural Communities” ($2.7 million)

Sept. 8 “Governor Jan Brewer Establishes Rural Business Council Focused on Job Growth in Rural Areas”
($2 million)

Sept. 13 “Governor Jan Brewer Announces Economic Aid for Rural Counties” ($2.5 million)

Sept. 14 “Governor Jan Brewer Announces Broadband Award” ($39.2 million)

Sept. 16 “Governor Jan Brewer Announces Funding for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics”
($0.1 million)

Sept. 28 “Governor Jan Brewer Dedicates Funding to Advance Algae Technologies and Innovations” ($2 million)
Total: $80.1 million

And you trust her…?


A Perspective … in the end it’s all about disclosure & transparency


J.P. Morgan Chase to freeze foreclosures over flawed paperwork
By Ariana Eunjung Cha… Washington Post Staff Writer …Wednesday, September 29, 2010; 11:36 PM

J.P. Morgan Chase, one of the nation’s leading banks, announced Wednesday that it will freeze foreclosures in about half the country because of flawed paperwork, a move that Wall Street analysts said will pressure the rest of the industry to follow suit.

The bank’s decision will affect 56,000 borrowers in 23 states where allegations of forged documents and signatures and other similar problems are being used to try to overturn court-ordered evictions.

Yet the impact may be much broader, given J.P. Morgan’s stature in the industry. If other banks adopt the same approach, the foreclosure process in many parts of the country will grind to a halt.

Officials at Fitch Ratings, a credit-rating firm that measures the health of companies, said the “defects” found in foreclosure documents at J.P. Morgan are industry-wide.

Underscoring that concern, Fitch said it is considering whether to lower the grades it gives to the mortgage servicing divisions of the nation’s largest lenders.

“Over the next few weeks, we expect to see more and more companies come out with similar announcements,” said Diane Pendley, a managing director at Fitch.

The paperwork problems at J.P. Morgan mirror those uncovered last week at another large mortgage lender, Ally Financial. But J.P. Morgan’s decision is expected to have a much greater effect on the industry because it is held in high regard by its peers.

By contrast, Ally, formerly known as GMAC, is still under the cloud of a $17 billion federal bailout package that it has been unable to pay back.
Both firms are investigating whether foreclosure files were improperly assembled, and whether their employees failed to review the documents even as they signed off on them.

A growing number of homeowners – even those who missed their mortgage payments – are now scrambling to challenge the proceedings, weighing down an already overburdened court system.
J.P. Morgan had declined to address the matter until Wednesday. But in a sworn deposition, one of the bank’s employees, Beth Ann Cottrell, admitted that she and her team signed off on about 18,000 foreclosures a month without checking whether they were justified.

J.P. Morgan spokesman Tom Kelly said Wednesday that the firm “does not expect to find any factual problems or that customers have been harmed, but if we do find any cases we will take appropriate action.”

In addition to the measures that private lenders have taken, four states – California, Colorado, Connecticut and Illinois – have called for a moratorium on all foreclosures initiated by Ally, while attorneys general in seven other states have opened civil or criminal investigations related to flawed foreclosures.

Even as the extent of the problems has become more apparent, the Treasury Department has declined to answer specific questions about the matter since it surfaced last week.

On Wednesday, Treasury spokesman Mark Paustenbach said that officials have been in touch with Ally and that they expect it to take “prompt action to correct any errors.” He added that the agency is “monitoring their progress.”

Treasury officials raised the issue personally with Ally chief executive Michael Carpenter during a recent meeting, according to an administration official.

Yet the agency’s response has frustrated some consumer advocates. A few lawmakers have also called for investigations of whether homeowners are being improperly removed from their homes.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said Wednesday that the Treasury Department and relevant federal agencies should begin their own inquiry.

“With millions of families losing their homes, it’s inexcusable for companies like Ally to be this patently negligent,” he said. “I want the federal government to hold Ally accountable and ensure that homeowners who wrongly received foreclosure get the compensation they deserve.”

Ira Rheingold, director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, criticized the Treasury Department, saying it has not been forthcoming about what actions it is taking to the remedy the situation.

The agency has been “protecting servicers and investors and doing what is minimally possible to help homeowners,” he said.

Other consumer advocates say administration officials face a no-win situation. If they determine there is no reason to take action, they may be criticized for not helping homeowners. But taking extreme measures such as calling for a national moratorium on foreclosures could hurt the economy and damage the housing market.

Mark Zandi, chief economist for, said that, in the worst-case scenario, the document-processing problems could lengthen the foreclosure process from three years to as long as a decade, especially if homeowners use the flawed paperwork to appeal their evictions.

The long holdup could have “macroeconomic consequences” as a destabilizing force on housing prices. Banks could become more unwilling to extend credit to households or to small-business owners who use homes as collateral. And investors who had been keeping home prices propped up by buying foreclosures may stop and never come back.

He added, however, that it is still an open question how the courts will handle the paperwork problems.
Ally officials on Wednesday declined to comment on any ongoing or potential investigations, but they have said that they are confident that “the processing errors did not result in any inappropriate foreclosures.”

Company officials have declined to disclose how many loans may be affected and how much remedying the issue might cost, but spokeswoman Gina Proia said the firm “does not anticipate significant adverse effect on Ally related to this matter.”

Postal Service close to going broke

A Perspective … in the end it’s all about disclosure & transparency

Is anyone really surprised … just eliminate price discounts for junk and bulk mailing make us all pay the same rate …

Postal Service close to going broke

By Ed O’Keefe … Washington Post Staff Writer … Wednesday, September 29, 2010; 10:16 PM

Americans can still send and receive mail, but the U.S. Postal Service may not have much left in the bank after this week, as it’s set to announce billions of dollars in losses as early as Thursday.

It’s also waiting for postal regulators to announce Thursday whether they approve of a proposed 5.6 percent postage-rate increase, to start in January.

The proposed increase faces stiff resistance from business groups and lawmakers, who say that the USPS should instead make deeper spending cuts to meet its financial obligations.

GOP opposition kept Congress from permitting the Postal Service to postpone paying $5.5 billion required by law to pre-fund retiree health benefits.

A temporary spending measure to fund most federal programs through early December didn’t mention the Postal Service; it passed the Senate on Wednesday and is expected to clear the House on Thursday.

“The Postal Service does not want to make the tough decisions, which include cuts in personnel, pay and benefits. Instead, they are relying on a generous taxpayer bailout that will not solve any of their mid- or long-term problems,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who opposes the rate increase and congressional relief.

“Taxpayers should not be made to bail out a business-as-usual Postal Service,” Issa said.

“While it appears that the continuing resolution will not include USPS funding, service will not be compromised while the administration works with Congress and USPS to ensure that they have the tools and authorities necessary to remain viable well into the future,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.

The administration and Postal Service have met this week to determine what portion, if not all, of the payment can be made by the close of the fiscal year Thursday, the OMB said.

The Postal Service has cut $10 billion in spending since 2008 and continues to trim its workforce through attrition.

Postmaster General John E. Potter canceled a Wednesday meeting with reporters that was meant to address the financial concerns.

“Ideally, what you’d like to do in the Postal Service is have access to about $5 [billion] to $6 billion in cash, whether that’s borrowing ability or cash on the books,” Potter said in an April interview that predicted this week’s turn of events. “That’s basically two payrolls.

That’s not a lot of breathing room. Without relief in the form of lowering our payments into the retirement trust fund this year, we are perilously close to running out of cash in October.”

Strong mail volume this month might add enough revenue to justify making the $5.5 billion payment to the government, but it would still leave little in postal coffers, said sources familiar with the process but not authorized to speak on the record.

Senate Democrats hope to introduce a bill during the lame-duck session that would give the Postal Service more flexibility to determine its delivery schedule and decide whether it needs to close thousands of branches.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), also addresses how USPS could make the $5.5 billion annual payments in the future.

“I think this entire situation puts more pressure on the Postal Service and pressure on the legislators to address the issue comprehensively,” said

Tony Conway, executive director of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, which represents some of the mail agency’s biggest and most loyal customers.

We’re Not Ever Leaving’ Afghanistan

A Perspective … in the end it’s all about disclosure & transparency

OK … Mr. President … what is the truth and more importantly how can “we” (that’s the American people) tell who (if anyone) is giving us the TRUTH…

Robert Gates: ‘We’re Not Ever Leaving’ Afghanistan …09-29-2010 •

In a shocking indication of a split between the White House and the Pentagon over the war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates believes that the U.S. military will never leave the war-torn country. During a dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for Afghan President Hamid Karzai in May, Gates reminded the group that he still feels guilty for his role in the first President Bush’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, according to Bob Woodward’s new book, “Obama’s Wars.”

And to express his commitment to not letting down the country again, he emphasized: “We’re not leaving Afghanistan prematurely,” Gates finally said. “In fact, we’re not ever leaving at all.”

Woodward notes that the group was shocked by the blunt comment: “At least one stunned participant put down his fork. Another wrote it down, verbatim, in his notes.”

The definitive statement seems to clash with President Obama’s assertion that he does not want to leave the war to his successor.

Though he has emphasized that the U.S. will stay in Afghanistan “until the job is done,” he wants almost all the US troops out before the end of his first term in January 2013, leaving in place a small contingency force.

Yet Obama’s public commitment to eventually leaving Afghanistan seems partly based on political calculation, reports Woodward.

When questioned by Republican Senator Lindsay Graham about the July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing troops, Obama tells him: “Well, if you’d asked me that question, what I would say is, ‘We’re going to start leaving.’ I have to say that.

I can’t let this be a war without end, and I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party… And people at home don’t want to hear we’re going to be there for ten years.”

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel privately refers to the war as “political flypaper” and the veteran of sharp-elbowed Chicago politics once got so frustrated with Karzai that he considered sending him “the equivalent of a dead fish with an imperial wrapping,” writes Woodward.

Emanuel’s threat — “Tell him we’re going to put our own governors in if we have to” — was ignored by the president during a meeting with military brass.

Gates, who is planning to leave his job before the 2012 presidential election, could be referring to that small contingency force with his comments.

But his remarks do seem to highlight the differences between the military brass and the White House over Afghan strategy from the type of warfare to the size of the troop increase, as outlined in Woodward’s book.

And it seems to further indicate the Pentagon’s commitment to staying in Afghanistan.

The commander of US troops in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, is quoted saying about the country: “You have to recognize that I don’t think you win this war. I think you keep fighting. You have to stay after it. This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.”


A Perspective … in the end it’s all about disclosure & transparency


Arizona budget deficit estimated to have grown to $825 million…Tucson Citizen and The Arizona Republic… Mary Jo Pitzl…

More pain foreseen for state programs …Yuma Sun, Tribune, Sierra Vista Herald, Daily News Sun, Arizona Daily Sun and Arizona Daily Star… Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services …

Budget analysts: Arizona midyear shortfall growing …Sierra Vista Herald, Mohave Daily News and Arizona Daily Sun… Associated Press…

State budget not improving…Phoenix Business Journal…