U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn called out Democrats, Republicans, Newt Gingrich, the military-industrial complex, teachers unions and Medicare - to name a few - at a town hall meeting Friday.
"The real problem is that America is asleep," Coburn said, speaking mostly in response to questions from an audience of about 65 people at the Wagoner Civic Center. "America is not involved. I think this election they'll be more involved than they ever have been, and the reason is they're scared."
"If the conservatives in Congress gain control and don't live up to expectations," he said, "the Republican Party will be dead."
Coburn made it clear that he won't be on Newt Gingrich's 2012 presidential bandwagon.Gingrich "is a super-smart man, but he doesn't know anything about commitment to marriage," he said of the thrice-married former House speaker. "He's the last person I'd vote for for president of the United States. His life indicates he does not have a commitment to the character traits necessary to be a great president."
Coburn also expanded on his recent criticism of arms spending, echoing President Dwight Eisenhower's 1961 warning against the "military-industrial complex.""I'm not capable of telling you, because I don't have the training, whether we have the forces we need," he said. "I can tell you that if you add our forces and compare them to the next 19 nations, ... we're stronger."He continued: "The problem is, we have allowed the military-industrial complex to make things unaffordable. There's no choke chain. We need a choke chain. When the cost of an F-35 triples during development, something's wrong."
As he has in the past, Coburn blasted health-care reform and traced the rise of medical costs to the introduction of Medicare in the 1960s. He said schools "are no longer about kids, they are about teachers' unions," and he claimed that academic achievement has gone down since the creation of the U.S. Department of Education, although some statistics argue otherwise.Coburn also repeated what has become a popular line among conservatives - that "no one has ever been hired by a poor person" - to support tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations.
Republicans are trying to regain control of Congress in November but political oddsmakers have said there is only one Democrat in California at risk of losing his congressional seat - Rep. Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton.
His challenger in the Bay Area's 11th Congressional District is Republican David Harmer, an attorney who says he is running to rein in federal spending.
Republicans are using the same charges against McNerney as they are against Democrats around the country - that he supports bigger government, has voted to increase taxes and is in lockstep with his party's leadership.
"On every major vote, he's stood with the Obama-Pelosi agenda and I don't think that agenda is good for the district," said Harmer, who lost to Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove (Sacramento County), in last year's special election in the 10th Congressional District.
The 11th district, which includes parts of Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Joaquin counties, is considered competitive because it includes liberal East Bay suburbs and more rural, conservative areas in the state's interior.
Still, Mr. Dudenhöffer and others say that Porsche needs to adapt to huge changes in the upper reaches of the car market, and that it does not have the resources to do so alone.
These days, status-conscious buyers want to pull up to the country club in a car that looks green as well as sexy. (Even Ferrari is building a hybrid.) And automakers in all price classes worry that the Facebook generation is more interested in mobile phones than in fast cars; analysts say the phenomenon has already hurt auto sales in Japan.
Sam Meas isn't your typical congressional candidate. For one thing, the Cambodian refugee doesn't know his birthday.
"I tell people I am 38 years old— plus or minus two years." In 1973, Mr. Meas's father was sent to be "re-educated" by the Khmer Rouge and was never heard from again. During the chaos following the regime's collapse in 1979, Mr. Meas was separated from his mother. He never saw her again. Marching night and day toward the Thai border with a cousin, Mr. Meas recalls stepping over corpses and watching bloated bodies float down jungle waterways.
The final vote tally is expected within two weeks, after the state finishes counting 11,266 absentee ballots. With 100% of precincts counted, Mr. Miller currently leads by 1,668 votes. Most political watchers expect a Miller victory, and observers in Alaska and across the U.S. are taking a closer look at a man who, even in Fairbanks, maintained a low profile before he jumped into the race against Ms. Murkowski last April.
"He just came out of nowhere," said Richard Fineberg, an economics consultant in Fairbanks. "Not a lot of people know him."
Mr. Miller attributes his voter appeal to what he calls discontent over expansion of the federal government. "This country is in crisis and doesn't have much time to turn itself around," he said in an interview Friday at his law office and campaign headquarters in Fairbanks.
Mr. Miller—a graduate of West Point and Yale Law School, a combat veteran and former state and federal magistrate—advocates dismantling some federal agencies, saying many of their functions, such as the federal welfare system, should be handled by states. "The age of the entitlement state is over," he said.
Meanwhile, he is maintaining some connection to his old life. He was due to appear in a Fairbanks state court Friday for a civil case he is handling, but had to postpone after totaling his Chevy pickup in an accident he said wasn't his fault.
"Just a blip," he said.
Mr. DeMint's mission is to bring more Jim DeMints to the Senate—that is, people with an unfailing antagonism to big government. But his string of victories, often against establishment candidates, has many of his Republican colleagues grumbling. They say Mr. DeMint is pushing candidates through the primaries who are too far to the right to take back vulnerable seats from Democrats in November. Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott recently spoke for many in the party when he said it didn't need anymore "Jim DeMint disciples."
Over the past five years, Mr. DeMint has established himself as the pre-eminent conservative in Congress—he has a near perfect National Taxpayer Union rating—with Tom Coburn of Oklahoma a close second. As we eat lunch at Mr. DeMint's favorite restaurant in his hometown of Greenville, our conversation is often interrupted by well-wishers thrilled to see their senator in person and all with pretty much the same message: "Keep fighting those big spenders."
A bill under consideration in the California state legislature would require companies trying to obtain high-speed rail contracts in the state to publicly disclose their role in transporting people to concentration camps during World War II.
The Holocaust Survivor Responsibility Act would also require companies to disclose whether any restitution had been made to survivors or victims’ families. The bill mandates that WWII-disclosure be part of the contract award process.
A former partner at a well-known law firm and his marketing consultant wife were arrested Wednesday on felony charges of bilking the San Francisco school district and private insurers out of about $400,000 via fraudulent bills for treatment of their autistic son, officials say.
The San Francisco couple, Jonathan S. Dickstein and Barclay J. Lynn, both 43, surrendered Wednesday and are expected to appear in court this morning for arraignment on 30 counts of fraud, theft and conspiracy, authorities say.
They were briefly jailed Wednesday on $100,000 bail each but were released on bond.
"This was an elaborate scheme to defraud the school district and insurance companies out of a lot of money," said Chief Assistant District Attorney David Pfeifer. "They used this scheme to make money off their child's special needs - that's terrible."
The scam was enabled by a ridiculously lax oversight over a state program that required school districts to compensate parents for the education of autistic children who couldn't be served by the public schools. The Dickersteins were caught only after a new case worker was assigned to their case, and presumably rejected their bribes.
He and his wife had arranged for the home care of their young son through another school district before transferring to the San Francisco school district. Under state guidelines, school districts are obligated to provide or compensate parents for home education of autistic or other severely disabled children.
By law, parents are required to use licensed private educational providers to develop individual treatment plans that meet state guidelines for their disabled children.
Dickstein and Lynn had employed such a private provider, but in 2006, they created their own: Puzzle Pieces. Prosecutors said it was actually a dummy company that was not licensed to develop autism education.
In fact, they say, the couple used Puzzle Pieces to overbill and "double dip" - charging both the school district and insurers for the exact same services - from 2006 to 2008. They billed for counselors and doctors at allegedly inflated rates and charged both the district and insurers for the same hours of treatment. They allegedly told insurers the district would not pay.
Autistic parents have a tough go of it. But, the idea of this sort of open ended public funding of autistic education - while certainly compassionate - is ripe for this sort of abuse. The mandate demands equal treatment, in the form of educational dollars, for autistic kids and their parents, but there don't appear to be any sort of controls on what sort of education the kids receive.
The cry of the Big Government fiscal conservative is always "we must crack down on waste, fraud & abuse!" (That's the exact incantation. It's never "fraud, abuse & waste"). But, the ready availability of "free" money, backed by an unbreakable mandate of legalized compassion, means that the fraudsters will gather no matter how much you claim to crack down on them.
San Francisco boasts an enviable roster of high-tech companies such as Zynga, Twitter and Salesforce.com. It's home to legions of tech workers serving companies throughout the Bay Area. And it's got a cutting-edge culture that has helped the city become a tech capital.
But beneath those credentials is a city that has a track record of opposition to companies wanting to expand or upgrade the technology infrastructure, brought on by concerned neighborhood groups.
Over the past few years, San Francisco has been in the middle of protracted fights over cellular antennas, a stalled deployment of AT&T's broadband and TV service, and a failed city Wi-Fi network.
Even Apple CEO Steve Jobs brought the issue to the fore last month when he said during a press conference that it takes a cellular antenna site three years to get approved in San Francisco compared with three weeks in Texas.
Some city and business leaders worry the trend could undercut San Francisco's reputation, which may eventually harm the city's ability to attract and retain companies and residents.
Toyota, celebrated for engineering cars so utterly reliable that they seemed boring, endured revelations that its most popular models sometimes accelerated for mysterious reasons. The energy giant BP, which once packaged itself as an environmental visionary, now confronts the future with a new identity: progenitor of the worst oil spill in American history. And the Wall Street iconGoldman Sachs, an elite player in the white-collar-and-suspenders set, found itself derided in Rolling Stone as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” Last month, Goldman agreed to pay $550 million to settle federal securities fraud charges.
“These were real reputational implosions,” says Howard Rubenstein, the public relations luminary who represents the New York Yankees and the News Corporation. “In all three cases, the companies found themselves under attack over the very traits that were central to their strong global brands and corporate identities.”
“The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean,” Mr. Hayward told The Guardian amid debate over the extent of the spill. “The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”
Four days later, he told a TV reporter that “the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest.”
Everyone screamed bloody murder over that, yet as things have shaken out, Hayward looks like someone who knew what he was talking about (hey, he only has a Phd in geology) while the "Plug the Damn Hole/Boot On The neck" strutting by the government looks like ignorant, politically expedient posturing.
Goldman is likewise an unsympathetic entity, inasmuch as it was crass enough to make obscene profits in the post-bailout era after other reckless banks and investment houses became functionally insolvent or simply disappeared forever. But, the specific "fraud" that Goldman committed - arranging a deal that allowed John Paulson to bet against the housing market - was hardly emblematic of the practices that resulted in the Crash of '08. Moreover, the SEC fraud action was announced on the day debate began on the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill (with accompanying screaming front page headlines, of course), and the case settled for $500 million on the same day as the final Senate vote on the matter. Funny how that worked.
After months of presidential and senatorial demonization of Goldman Sachs, it might be hard to remember that the Crash of '08 and the Little Depression arose from mismanagement and fraud at banks that went out of business precisely because of ... mismanagement and fraud! The world didn't turn upside down because Goldman shorted the housing bubble. Wall Street "died" because Bear, Lehman, Merrill, Fannie, Freddie, WaMu, Wachovia, Countrywide, AIG, and dozens of others went long at precisely the moment they should have been getting out! These companies, and their executives, are the ones who helped cause the Crash, but they seem immune from any sort of attention, let alone government sanction. Why this is a "PR problem" for Goldman is beyond me.
Toyota is the most egregious example of the government imposed "PR problem." Anyone who read PJ O'Rourke's Parliament of Whores knows that sudden-acceleration incidents in cars are a figment of the imaginations of lawyers, consumer advocates, and boat-footed drivers. But, journalists and Democrats have not read Parliament of Whores, so when sketchy reports surface of cars suddenly accelerating out of control, hustling liberals jump on them with both feet. Never mind that reputable engineers have never been able to replicate SAI's in the lab. Never mind that the most spectacular SAI - the runaway Prius in San Diego - was a hoax. (incredibly, the debunking did not receive the same level of media attention as the "runaway"). And also, never mind that Toyota earnestly tried to diagnose the problem and even established as official corporate policy that it would not blame the drivers, even though Toyota had to have suspected the drivers were at fault. No, it was much more important for Democratic congressmen to drag Toyota executives to DC for a show trial to showcase their corporate sins. Added bonus: Toyota is a competitor to Government Motors, and its executives were Japanese, i.e. Dread Furriners. This from the Party of Tolerance and Science.
BP, Goldman, and Toyota may have had their problems. They may have been blameworthy. But their PR problems were dwarfed by the sustained assault they received from the media and political elites. That's not a PR problem. That's war.
The shield in Cadillac's traditional shield-in-a-wreath emblem uses the actual coat of arms of the man the car was named after, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, the French nobleman who founded the city of Detroit. In the upper left and lower right quadrants of the shield, there's a trio of black, duck-like birds. The official term for them in heraldry is "merlettes." Merlettes are a symbol of the Holy Trinity, and their presence in the coat of arms indicates that someone in old Antoine's family tree did something brave in one of the Crusades.
Swedish authorities say they have revoked an arrest warrant that had alleged rape against the founder and editor of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, Julian Assange.Assange is "no longer wanted" and "is not suspected of rape," Chief Prosecutor Eva Finne said in a statement posted on the agency's official website Saturday. He is also no longer arrested in absentia, the statement said.The arrest warrant filed Friday had also mentioned a molestation charge, but molestation is not a crime punishable behind bars in SwedenEarlier, Karin Rosander, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, said Assange was arrested in absentia Friday night, and faced charges in relation to two separate instances, but she didn't have more detail about when the alleged crimes occurred or who the alleged victims are.
San Francisco officials are moving quickly to acquire an exemption to state environmental law in time for a deadline to submit a proposal on hosting the next America's Cup, The Chronicle has learned.
"Without this legislative action, it is likely that San Francisco will not be selected and the regatta will be held overseas," said a recent memo from Mayor Gavin Newsom's office that was used to brief environmentalists on the proposal, which would cover shoreside facilities for yachts, gear and support services.
Some environmental groups, while appreciative that city officials sought their input, warn that an exemption would open the floodgates for wealthy interests to circumvent state-required environmental review.
"We're not going to sit by idly and let that happen," said Tina Andolina, legislative director for the Planning and Conservation League, an environmental lobbying group.
Walt Szalva and his wife, Blaire Hansen, were on a nearly hopeless mission Wednesday morning. They stopped in at Chinese Immersion School at De Avila on Haight Street on the tiny chance that their 5-year-old daughter, Devon, might be able to get into kindergarten there.
After touring 20 schools, following up with principals, putting in more than 100 hours of research, and camping out at the Educational Placement Center for hours at a time, they were 0-7 on the schools they chose for Devon.
They had hoped that with the first week of school under way, a spot would open up at one of the schools on their list.
So they showed up at De Avila, without an appointment, on the hope that they could chat with Principal Rosina Tong, who might give them a hint of encouragement. She couldn't.
"I know parents come in here hoping," Tong said. "But I'm not sure I can give you hope. I can only say that a system is in place and it will work out."
Frankly, if Szalva hears "a system is in place," one more time, he may start speaking in tongues.