Bailing Out A Failed Auto Industry Will Only Delay The Invitable

The leaders of a failed automotive industry head to Washington to convince Congress that it deserves $50 Billion to save the same industry they drove into the ground

First of all, the approved bailout by Congress does not extend to the auto industry and no money from that should be used for them.

Second, if any money is approved through another act of Congress, there needs to be serious protections put into place, not like the first bailout which is leaving everyone wondering where the first $300 billion went.

Third, if any money is approved, there needs to be hard line goals that must be met within specific time frames. These goals if not met will have to have dire consequences. Along with that the whole sum should not be give at once, it should be given as needed and based on progression of those goals.

Fourth, an entity needs to be put into place to specifically monitor the progress being made.

Lastly, if money is to be given to them there must be a stronger recourse for the people. As others suggested for the banking industry, a voting option for the government based on the stock purchased as part of any bailout.

Personally I do not think we should bail them out. Yes jobs will be lost, but ultimately, someone will buy them out. This is not the same as the Banks where their collapse will collapse every other industry. This is a homegrown failure that stems from lower quality vehicles and not keeping up with technology. This is their own fault and they saw it coming, unless of course they are complete idiots. They saw the bailout of the banks and said let’s capitalize on this. If this were truly sole fault of the economic crisis, then how come the Japanese and European automakers are not in the same boat? Yes the economy has some to do with it, but not the major factor. What will $50 billion really do. Delay the inevitable is all.

The chiefs of the “Big Three” US automakers travel to Congress Tuesday to plead with lawmakers to save their talismanic American industry, despite fading hopes for a quick congressional bailout.The chairmen and CEOs of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler will testify to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee as Democrats mount a long-odds bid to pass a 25-billion-dollar rescue package.

Their testimony, to be followed by an appearance before a House of Representatives panel Wednesday, comes with millions of jobs threatened as the industry’s crippling losses are exacerbated by the deepening economic crisis .

 

Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Chrysler boss Robert Nardelli and Richard Wagoner of General Motors will testify to the committee, under the chairmanship of Democrat Chris Dodd who has already cast doubt a bailout can pass this week.

On Monday, Democratic Senate leaders in Congress opened a “lame duck” session vowing to fight for a new loan program for the auto industry.

Senior party members condemned the reluctance of the White House and Republican leaders to siphon off the money from a 700-billion-dollar finance industry bailout which has already been approved.

 

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid hit out at Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for refusing to adapt the huge bailout to aid the auto industry, saying: “All it would take is one stroke of a pen and that problem would be solved.

“We are seeing a potential meltdown in the auto industry, with consequences that could directly impact millions of American workers and cause further devastation to our economy.”

On Monday, Senators Reid and Robert Byrd unveiled their 100-billion-dollar economic recovery package that includes the 25 billion dollars for the auto industry, sourced from the 700-billion-dollar bailout.

The Reid/Byrd Economic Recovery Act of 2008 “requires a long-term financial plan from the companies and has robust provisions for oversight, taxpayer protection, and executive compensation,” a Democratic Party statement said.

 

But the White House got in a preemptive strike before lawmakers reported for work, saying the special rescue funds for banks were not the answer, calling on Congress to adapt an existing 25-billion-dollar auto industry loan program.

“The administration does not want US automakers to fail, and in fact we support assistance to automakers,” Bush’s press secretary Dana Perino said.

But “we believe this assistance should come from the program created by Congress that was specifically designed to assist the automakers — from the 25-billion-dollar Department of Energy loan program,” she added.

“This is the appropriate funding to use for automakers rather than seeking an additional 25 billion dollars from the TARP program” — the Troubled Asset Relief Program, as the bailout is known.

 

Democratic leaders would need at least 10 Republican votes to pass the bailout in the Senate and overcome the minority’s obstruction tactics with a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority.

Perino pointed out that any attempt to reopen the TARP program would not make it through the Senate, and said the White House was working with Senate Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell on the issue.

Underscoring Detroit’s desperation, Ford announced Tuesday it would sell a 20-percent stake in its Japanese partner Mazda Motor Corp to raise 540 million dollars in much-needed cash.

“This agreement allows Ford to raise capital that will help fund our product-led transformation, and at the same time, allows Ford and Mazda to continue our successful strategic relationship in the best interest of both companies,” Ford’s Mulally said.

 

Automakers have warned that millions of jobs depend on quick federal aid to the manufacturers of iconic brands including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and Jeep, and have taken out web and newspaper ads warning of the dire consequences of the industry’s demise.

Wagoner has warned GM needs an infusion of cash in the coming weeks to prevent a devastating bankruptcy at the nation’s largest automaker and cannot wait until president-elect Barack Obama — who has promised to bail out the sector — is sworn in on January 20.

Alan Mulally of Ford:

 Ford Motor Company chief executive Alan Mulally defended his company Tuesday against charges that Ford caused its own problems and said bailing out Detroit was essential to the U.S. economic recovery.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally says Tuesday the auto industry "is just absolutely essential" to the economy. 

Ford CEO Alan Mulally says Tuesday the auto industry “is just absolutely essential” to the economy.

Hours before Mulally and other heads of the Big Three automakers were scheduled to testify before the Senate Committee on Housing, Banking and Urban Affairs, Mulally appeared on CNN’s “American Morning” to discuss his expected testimony.

Mulally told CNN’s John Roberts that Ford took time to develop an electric hybrid car because its top priority was making the internal combustion engine more efficient. He also defended the company’s advertising blitz for the F-150 pickup truck and said the company had been working on improving its fuel efficiency long before there was talk of bailing out Ford, General Motors and Chrysler.

John Roberts: Why should taxpayers give you any of their hard-earned money?

Alan Mulally: Well, I think the compelling argument is that the automobile industry is just absolutely essential to the United States’ economy. We are in an economic situation now, with the credit crisis and the financial and the banking issues, that we really, more than ever, the automobile industry needs to be part of the solution. And the only thing that we’re asking for is to set up a bridge loan mechanism so that if the economy continues to deteriorate in the near term, that we could access that so we could continue to invest in the products that people really do want and value and help be part of this economic recovery. Video Watch Mulally defend Ford’s call for a bailout »

Roberts: But you know what the critics are saying. Critics are saying that you fought efforts as an industry to increase fuel economy standards, you promoted SUVs and pickups as demand for foreign oil increased, and we’re beginning to run out of oil. They’re saying basically you failed to lead, and now you have your hand out saying, “Help us.”

Mulally: And for that we also recognized the cost it would take to do that, so the Congress built into that legislation a mechanism that we could borrow at the Treasury rate so we could fund the acceleration of these vehicles and bring them to the marketplace. That is going very well. We are applying for that today. I think the most important thing is that we continue as a country to work this as a partnership and clearly fuel efficiency, quality, safety are going to continue to be at the top of the customer’s decision list when they purchase a car. Video Watch what it could cost to let the Big Three crumble »

Roberts: At the same time, Mr. Mulally, the people who will be asking you questions this afternoon are looking for some guarantees. Chris Dodd is the chairman of the committee that you’ll be sitting before. Here’s what he said in terms of wanting some guarantees from the industry: “Clearly, we shouldn’t be writing checks without some clear conditionality of what’s going to happen with that industry, if they’re going to change and get back on their feet again.” Can you guarantee to the American people that if you get that money, if the American taxpayers throw you a lifeline, you will change, you’ll become more efficient, you’ll produce cars that people want to buy, you’ll increase fuel efficiency, you will, indeed, move into the future? Video Watch why Congress wants to hear from Mulally »

Mulally: Absolutely. I don’t think it’s a promise. I think it’s a promise that we are already delivering on today. When you look at the Ford lineup going forward, we have now cars, small, medium, and large cars, utilities, and trucks that are absolutely world class in their quality, in their fuel mileage, in their safety — on par and competing and in many cases much better than Toyota and Honda. We have a business plan.

Roberts: One of the cars you’ll be introducing in 2009 is the Ford Fusion hybrid, and you are very excited about that, but it’s being introduced 12 years after Toyota introduced the Prius. Why did it take so long?

Mulally: Well, that’s really one model of the vehicles. The very first hybrid was introduced by Ford with the Escape.

Roberts: It was an SUV.

Mulally: Absolutely, but we have been there on the fuel efficiency from day one, and it’s been part of Bill Ford’s original vision of sustainability and energy efficiency and being better environmentally concerned.

Roberts: Here’s a question I have this morning. I think a lot of people are asking this same question as well. You are betting that because the price of gasoline is now down to an average of about $2.06 a gallon nationwide that that will rekindle interest in your Ford F-150 pickup truck line, and I know that you are trying to improve the fuel efficiency — I think the latest model is 15 [mpg] city, 21 miles to the gallon on the highway. Some people are thinking, “Oh my God, the price of gas is going down, and now you just want to repeat the mistakes of the past all over again.” iReport.com: Your thoughts on the Big Three bailout

Mulally: That’s absolutely incorrect because our plan is to have a full portfolio of small, medium, and larger vehicles that our consumers really want, and clearly the 150 that you have described has been the industry leader in the United States for 34 years, and the consumers love and need that vehicle. They absolutely love the 150. We are complementing that now, just like you mentioned, with small- and medium-size cars and utilities, all of which will be best in class on fuel efficiency. So we want to be there with a full portfolio that the consumers really do want.

Roberts: General Motors has got an electric car coming out. It’s not going to come out until 2010, 2011. Does Ford have a fully plug-in hybrid vehicle coming? Video Watch how despite woes at home GM hopes to expand abroad »

Mulally: We are working on that also, but let me just share with you the Ford plan about that. Our No. 1 priority is to improve the internal combustion engine, and that’s why the turbocharging, the direct fuel injection, we get a 20 percent improvement in fuel mileage and a 15 percent reduction in CO2, but we get that across all of the engines, across all the vehicles. Then we move to more electrification with the hybrids as you mentioned, and we are very excited that the next step after that will be full electrification. Now we’re tied into the grids, and we really have moved to an energy independence solution.

Congress stalls out:

Detroit’s Big Three automakers pleaded with Congress on Tuesday for a $25 billion lifeline to save their once-proud companies from collapse, warning of broader peril for the national economy as well.

“Our industry … needs a bridge to span the financial chasm that has opened up before us,” General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner told the Senate Banking Committee in prepared testimony. He blamed the industry’s predicament not on failures by management but on the deepening global financial crisis.

But the new rescue plan appeared stalled on Capitol Hill, opposed by Republicans and the Bush administration who don’t want to dip into the Treasury Department’s $700 billion financial bailout program to come up with the $25 billion.

Sympathy for the industry was sparse.

Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., told Wagoner and leaders of Ford and Chrysler that the industry was “seeking treatment for wounds that were largely self-inflicted.”

Still, he said, “Hundreds of thousands would lose their jobs” if the companies were allowed to collapse.

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., complained that the larger financial crisis “is not the only reason why the domestic auto industry is in trouble.”

He cited “inefficient production” and “costly labor agreements” that put the U.S. automakers at a disadvantage with foreign companies.

Wagoner said that despite some public perceptions that General Motors was not keeping pace with the times and technological changes, “We’ve moved aggressively in recent years to position GM for long-term success. And we were well on the road to turning our North American business around.”

“What exposes us to failure now is the global financial crisis, which has severely restricted credit availability and reduced industry sales to the lowest per-capita level since World War II.”

Failure of the auto industry “would be catastrophic,” he said, resulting in three million jobs lost within the first year and “economic devastation (that) would far exceed the government support that our industry needs to weather the current crisis.”

Congressional leaders worked behind the scenes in an effort to hammer out a compromise that could speed some aid to the automakers before year’s end. But the outlook seemed poor.

“My sense is that nothing’s going to happen this week,” Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said at the opening of the hearing.

Earlier, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Congress might have to return in December — rather than adjourning for the year this week, as expected — to push through an auto bailout.

“Dealing with the automobile crisis is a pressing need. We are talking about a lot of people … and a great consequence to our economy,” said Hoyer, D-Md.

The financial situation for the automakers grows more precarious by the day. Cash-strapped GM said it will delay reimbursing its dealers for rebates and other sales incentives and could run out of cash by year’s end without government aid.

In the Senate, Democrats discussed but rejected the option favored by the White House and GOP lawmakers to let the auto industry use a $25 billion loan program created by Congress in September — designed to help the companies develop more fuel-efficient vehicles — to tide them over financially until President-elect Barack Obama takes office.

“There was no indication that there was any traction” for the White House plan, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska said after a Democratic caucus luncheon.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other senior Democrats, who count environmental groups among their strongest supporters, have vehemently opposed that approach because it would divert federal money that was supposed to go toward the development of vehicles that use less gasoline.

Instead, they want to draw the $25 billion directly from the $700 billion Wall Street bailout — bringing the government’s total aid to the car companies to $50 billion.

A Senate vote on that plan, which would also extend jobless benefits, could come as early as Thursday, but aides in both parties and lobbyists tracking the effort privately acknowledge it doesn’t have the support to advance. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson renewed the administration’s opposition on Tuesday.

Even the car companies’ strongest supporters conceded Tuesday that changing the terms of the fuel-efficiency loan program might be the only way to secure funding for them with Congress set to depart for the year and the firms in tough financial shape.

“While I believe we have to have retooling going into next year, if in the short run the only way we have to be able to get some immediate help is to take a portion of that, I would very reluctantly do that — but only because I believe President-elect Obama is going to be focused on retooling and on a manufacturing strategy next year,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

The White House said the government shouldn’t send any more money to the struggling auto industry on top of the already-approved loans.

“We don’t think that taxpayers should be asked to throw money at a company that can’t prove that it has a long-term path for success,” said White House Press Secretary Dana Perino.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader, said that redirecting the existing loans was “a sound way to go forward,” and that he was working with Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to set a vote on such a plan.

“The auto industry obviously is very important, very important to my state, but there is a way to do this,” said McConnell, who has two Ford plants and a GM plant in his state.

Paulson, testifying on the House side, defended the administration’s handling of the massive $700 billion bailout for the financial industry and said it should remain off-limits for Detroit, no matter how badly the automakers need help.

“There are other ways” to help them, he said.

At the same time, he testified, “I think it would be not a good thing, it would be something to be avoided, having one of the auto companies fail, particularly during this period of time.”

The industry mounted a feverish lobbying effort to secure funds they said were vital to their survival — and the health of the broader economy. In an e-mail marked “urgent” and sent to owners of GM vehicles, Troy A. Clarke, president of GM North America, pleaded with them to e-mail their representatives in the House and Senate in support of a “bridge loan” for the industry — and ask their friends and family to do the same.

“Despite what you may be hearing, we are not asking Congress for a bailout but rather a loan that will be repaid,” Clarke said in the message.

That argument could be vital as bailout fatigue threatens to sap support for the carmaker aid.

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Liberals Botch Bailout 1.0

 

Down In Flames!

Down In Flames!

Voting against the bailout package, the House has created a major financial crisis. Having gone on for weeks blaming Bush and McCain, the liberals fell off the high ground. Partisan harassment of McCain going back to Washington last week, then being told to get out by the liberals because they thought they had it tied up.

The liberals only had 54% of their own party voting in favor. The liberals trying to blame the Republicans for voting against the bailout, are to blame. The liberals could have passed the bill by themselves. They knew to make it veto proof, they needed McCain as they would not vote for it unless John McCain did. McCain brought 33% of the Republicans over the line. If the liberals could have brought 17 more of their votes over they would have been able to pass the bill.

Now, America has to wait until after Rosh Hashanah before any new proposal is worked on. Today we lost 777 points on the DOW. There is a possibilty that this will double in a couple of days and if by weeks end nothing is done by congress, that number may double… This could be a third of the market gone in panic.

Congress needs to forget about their politics and come up with a responsible solution that will allow us to get out of this mess and stop the panic on the market. This has effected the European market and Asian Markets as well. The overal reprocussions are could be very costly if the world markets collapse. The Central Bank has pumped almost as much as the bailout cost, $620 Billion, into the market to support the world market and try to keep it from imploding… A responsible bill needs to be drafted with the support of all members of Congress.

I would like to thank Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Chris Dodd, Barney Franks and Harry Reid for creating this financial mess, overlooking the problem when attention was brought to it, splitting their own party, running John McCain out of Washington and destroying our economy.

Barack Obama, please continue to take credit for this. You deserve it. Change You Can Believe In…

Clinton Rejects Democrats Call To Quite Race

While I am not a Hillary fan, I think this is the right decision and those that called for her to drop out should apologize to all Americans.

By calling her to drop out of the race, goes against the whole point of the race, letting the people decide. It is not like Obama is so far ahead that she does not have any chance what so ever. He is leading by a couple of hundred votes, but he is still far from obtaining the necessary delegates to guarentee a win.

If the problem is the war between the candidates, then the Democrates should be working to stop it, however it just shows that the Democratic Party is not united, but another divided entity. How in the world is Obama going to unite the country if his own party is so divided?

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (CNN) — Sen. Hillary Clinton on Saturday rejected calls by supporters of rival candidate Barack Obama to quit the Democratic presidential race, and Obama said Clinton should remain in race “as long as she wants.”

 

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Some of Sen. Barack Obama’s best-known backers are urging Sen. Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race.

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“The more people get a chance to vote, the better it is for our democracy,” the New York senator and former first lady told supporters at a rally in Indiana, which holds a May 6 primary.

“There are some folks saying we ought to stop these elections,” she said.

“I didn’t think we believed that in America. I thought we of all people knew how important it was to give everyone a chance to have their voices heard and their votes counted.”

Clinton has won primaries in the biggest states so far, but Obama has won more total contests and leads her in the race for delegates to the party’s August convention in Denver — where the Democratic nominee will be formally ratified.

Two of Obama’s leading supporters, Sens. Christopher Dodd and Patrick Leahy, said Friday that Clinton should rethink her chances of overcoming that deficit and consider folding her campaign.

Leahy, of Vermont, said Clinton “has every right, but not a very good reason, to remain a candidate for as long as she wants to.”

Speaking in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Obama said he did not discuss Leahy’s call for Clinton to drop out with the Vermont senator, who serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“My attitude is that Sen. Clinton can run as long as she wants,” the Illinois senator said.

“She is a fierce and formidable competitor, and she obviously believes that she would make the best nominee and the best president. I think that she should be able to compete, and her supporters should be able to support her for as long as they are willing or able.”

Pennsylvania is the scene of the next Democratic primary, on April 22, and is the largest state that hasn’t weighed in on the party’s presidential race.

Obama called fears that the Democratic Party would be damaged by a long campaign “somewhat overstated.” But he added that both he and Clinton should avoid campaign attacks “that could be used as ammunition for the Republicans” in November.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Thursday suggests that the bickering between Clinton and Obama could affect Democratic turnout in November.

One in six Clinton supporters said they would not be likely to vote in November if Obama gets the nomination; an equal number of Obama’s supporters said the same about Clinton.

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said Friday that he would like the fight wrapped up before the Denver convention, and said party leaders have had “extensive discussions” with the Clinton and Obama campaigns about cooling down their rhetoric.

“I don’t think the party is going to implode,” he said. But he added that personal attacks “demoralize the base” and that campaigns should focus on issues like the economy and Iraq

Hillary Wins Empty Bag

Hillary’s 55% victory in Michigan is of significant importance because her only rival was Non-Committed, meaning that should the Primaries come to an end with a narrow margin, her rivals can use the non-committeds in MI to tip the scales… and there goes 25 delegates…

Clinton Scores Lonely Victory in Michigan’s Hobbled Democratic Primary

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton headed off a potentially embarrassing situation Tuesday when she won Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary — a contest, tarnished by a scheduling dispute between the national and state party organizations, in which she was the only top-tier Democratic candidate on the ballot.

Clinton ended up with 55 percent of the vote in the lightly attended Democratic contest, with 40 percent of the voters choosing the “uncommitted” line.

The peculiar contest resulted from the hard line taken by the Democratic National Committee against Michigan’s rule-breaking Jan. 15 primary date, which ultimately led to the national party’s revocation of all 156 of the state’s delegates to the party’s August national convention. The DNC’s demand that most states, including Michigan, stick to a Feb. 5 starting date for the presidential nominating process prompted Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards — Clinton’s chief rivals for the nomination — to withdraw their names from the ballot.

Clinton, though she observed the party’s ban on active campaigning for the Michigan primary, left her name on the ballot; she was accompanied only by two severe longshots, Ohio Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel , and Connecticut Sen. Christopher J. Dodd , whose very poor performance in the campaign-opening Iowa caucuses Jan. 3 caused him to drop out of the race. As a result, voters who might otherwise have preferred to support Obama or Edwards had only the alternative of voting “uncommitted.”

Despite these circumstances, Clinton’s campaign declared a significant victory. “Tonight Michigan Democrats spoke loudly for a new beginning,” Clinton Campaign Manager Patti Solis Doyle said in a statement. She added: “Your voices matter. And as president, Hillary Clinton will not only keep listening, but will make sure your voice is always heard.”

The diminished status of the Michigan Democratic primary was underscored by the fact that even while the votes were being counted, the three remaining top-tier candidates for the party’s nomination — Clinton, Obama and Edwards — were participating in a national televised debate in Las Vegas in advance of the Nevada caucuses scheduled for Saturday.

It was clear that the scheduling flap depressed turnout in the Democratic primary, well below levels that would have been expected in a state where Democrats hold the governor’ office and both U.S. Senate seats and where Democratic nominees have prevailed in four consecutive elections. According to complete, unofficial returns, turnout for the simultaneous Republican primary exceeded that for the Democratic contest by more than a quarter million voters. Former Massachusetts governor (and Michigan native) Mitt Romney finished first ahead of Arizona Sen. John McCain in the GOP primary.

But the state Democratic Party declared Tuesday’s primary a victory in its effort to break the overwhelming influence that the “first in the nation” Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary have long maintained in the presidential nominating process.

“It’s been painful and disappointing, I don’t want to minimize that, but I think we have expanded the national debate about reforming the system,” Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer told CQ Politics in the wake of his party’s hobbled primary.

“I’m hoping that because of what we’ve done this campaign season, that by 2012 we’ll have reform and no state will be guaranteed the right of always going first,” he added.

Although the national party has stripped the state of its delegates, Michigan Democrats insist they will have their full delegation restored at the national convention in Denver because of Michigan’s importance as a battleground state in the general election.

Brewer added that the skewed turnout for the primary was not an omen for the partisan contest to come. “I can tell you regardless of turnout tonight there’s enormous energy among Democrats in this state just as there is elsewhere in this country, and I expect that we’re going to have record high turnout in the fall,” he predicted.

Democrats Fighting Over FISA, Don’t Forget To Cross Your T’s and Dodd Your I’s

Dodd is trying to score points with the liberal voters in his resistance to Senate Intelligence Committee support of the NSA’s “warrantless wiretapping program”. Oddly enough SIC has support from both Democratats and Republicans…

The big controvery appears to be immunity for the phone companies, ultimately releasing them from being sued for providing law enforcement agencies access to their systems. Well let’s see if they do not cooperate with law enforcement agencies , then they will be in trouble for that as well.

In all reality, it is the law enforcement agencies that should be held accountable for proper implimentation of the program not the phone companies.

Is this a civil rights issue? Illegal search and siezure protects a person from improper searching of their person and property, should it extend to the use of public utilities? Once making a phone call you are using the phone companies property, you are using a regulated public utility that is governed by FCC in the US… I dare say to the liberals, once you do this, you are no longer dealing with your person or persoanl property.

Alas, the liberals think anything that will get them a vote is a civil rights issue… They hold a notion that anything that will get them a vote regardless of our nations’ security is worth fighting for. Let’s not confront the enemy, lets help them –  should be the liberal motto…

After an eight-hour mock filibuster by presidential candidate Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pulled a controversial bill that would have given phone companies immunity from lawsuits brought by people who believed their civil rights were abrogated when, after 9/11, the companies gave the government access to their data without requiring a warrant.

Dodd and the other Democratic senators running for president opposed the immunity provision in the bill, which also extends authorization for the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program.

The delay could leave Reid and the Democrats open to attacks that the Democrats are keeping the government from spying on terrorists.

Democrats in the House opposed the immunity provision, but it had gained bipartisan support in the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The information the companies provided to the government since the terror attacks is the subject of several ongoing lawsuits.

Reid agreed with Dodd on the issue of immunity but brought the bill to the Senate floor to move it along in the legislative process. The Protect America Act temporarily modified the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to allow the NSA to conduct its warrantless domestic wiretapping program.

Reid said pulling the bill would allow senators to give it a more thorough examination later on. He has called on the White House to provide its classified legal reasoning for the program.

“The Senate is committed to improving our nation’s intelligence laws to fight terrorism while protecting Americans’ civil liberties,” Reid said.

“We need to take the time necessary to debate a bill that does just that, rather than rushing one through the legislative process. While we had hoped to complete the FISA bill this week, it is clear that is not possible,” he said.

Dodd took a break from the campaign trail to spend more than eight hours today on the Senate floor, lobbying against the bill that would update the Protect America Act, which Congress passed in August.

“It covers up an immense alleged violation of civil liberties,” Dodd said, assailing the telecom immunity provision on the Senate floor.

“This is not some small matter, not a one-time event, but one that went on for five years here in a rather elaborate and extensive way on which I’ll go into detail. Immunity is wrong because of what it represents.

“This is a weakening of the rule of law that concentrates power in the hands of the executive,” he said.

Dodd had offered an amendment to strip the immunity clause from the bill the Senate is considering.

If his amendment had been rejected, as it was likely to be since a number of key Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee have already approved the immunity clause, Dodd threatened to filibuster on the Senate floor.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said he was disappointed by the delay.

“I’m disappointed legislation to modernize and improve FISA will now have to wait until January. As I’ve said many times, it is one of the most important bills before Congress, and one that should not be rushed in the final hours before the Protect America Act expires.”

Obama Stories By The Camp Fire

Another Clinton camper has been caught sending the Obama is a Muslim emails… Let’s see, Clinton’s camp started the initial rumor, now two campers have sent the email around, what’s next… TV ads…

Second Clinton volunteer dumped for anti-Obama e-mail

A second Clinton volunteer was asked to resign for forwarding an anti-Obama e-mail.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP)Hillary Clinton’s campaign on Sunday requested the resignation of a second Iowa volunteer coordinator who forwarded a hoax e-mail saying Barack Obama is a Muslim possibly intent on destroying the United States.

Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ and says he has never been a Muslim, but false rumors attempting to tie him to Islamic jihadists are circulating on the Internet.

“Let us all remain alert concerning Obama’s expected presidential Candidacy,” read the e-mail. “Please forward to everyone you know. The Muslims have said they Plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at The highest level.”

The Clinton campaign has decried the rumors as offensive and outrageous, and last week forced volunteer Jones County coordinator Judy Rose to resign after learning that she forwarded a such an e-mail on Nov. 21. But it turns out Rose wasn’t the only one.

Linda Olson, a volunteer coordinator in Iowa County, had forwarded a similar version on Oct. 5, without comment, to 11 people. One of the recipients was Ben Young, a regional field director for Democrat Chris Dodd’s campaign, who provided a copy to The Associated Press on Sunday.

The Clinton campaign responded by asking for Olson’s resignation.

“We’ve made our position on this crystal clear,” said Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee. “Our campaign does not tolerate this kind of activity or campaigning. As soon as it came to our attention, we asked this individual to step down.”

Asked to explain why two people connected to the campaign would have forwarded similar e-mails and if the campaign was taking steps to find out if it’s more widespread, Elleithee replied, “We communicated to all of our paid staff and volunteer leadership that the senator and the campaign have a zero tolerance policy for this type of activity.”

Obama spokesman Bill Burton responded, “Iowans know garbage when they see it and it has no place in this race.” Burton said Obama will focus on the debate over issues like health care, education and getting out of Iraq.

Rose has said she did not agree with the e-mail but was sending it to other area Democrats to show them how dirty politics was getting. Olson did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment.

Earlier: Clinton volunteer’s sending of anti-Obama e-mail causes stir

Clinton Camp Planting Hoax Emails

The Clinton camp is send information about Obama being a Muslim trying to infiltrate the US via email. It would seem that anyone in the Clinton Camp would be well aware of the allegations and the controversy it created prior and would be responsible enough not to send such things.

Of course the Clinton Camp is running damage control and trying to make it sound like another isolated incident… I don’t see how the Clinton excuse can hold up that this person was just trying to show what type of information is being circulated… This email is not new, the topic has been in the main stream liberal media…

Her intent is clear… Spread the rumor long enough and enough of the sheep will believe it is true…

The best part is it was posted on the DailyKos, one of the most liberal blogs on the Interne, byt a Chris Dodd supporter…

Got to love the dirty politics between Democrats…

(CNN) — One of the recipients of a controversial anti-Barack Obama email forward that put Hillary Clinton’s Iowa campaign on the defensive Wednesday said the volunteer county coordinator who sent the original message may have been unfairly targeted.

“She thinks people misunderstood her intent,” said Gary Hart, who said he spoke with the volunteer, Judy Rose, a short time ago. The former Clinton volunteer insisted “she was just sending it along so people know what kind of information is out there,” not because she believed the charges herself. He added that Rose is baffled by the uproar.

The controversy began early Wednesday when an Iowa supporter of presidential candidate Chris Dodd posted a comment on the liberal Daily Kos Web site, accusing an unnamed Clinton volunteer of forwarding an anti-Muslim e-mail aimed at the Illinois senator, containing charges that have been widely discredited.

The e-mail — one of several hoaxes that have been circulating since the Illinois senator announced his candidacy — claims that Obama is a Muslim whose campaign is part of a plot to destroy the United States. Obama is not, and never has been, a Muslim.

Within minutes, Clinton Internet Director Peter Daou posted a message from campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle disavowing the remarks. The New York senator’s campaign immediately severed all links with Rose, a Jones County volunteer.

The war of words between both candidates, who are running neck and neck in Iowa polls less than a month before Election Day, has reached a fever pitch over the past week. Within the past few days, both have asked supporters to track attacks and “dirty tricks” aimed at their campaigns.

The Obama campaign is not commenting on the incident.

This rumor was discredit when the Clinton Camp first tryed to pin it on Republicans

The Enemy Within

Claim:   Illinois senator Barack Obama is a “radical, ideological Muslim.”Status:   False.Example:   [Collected via e-mail, 2006]

THE ENEMY WITHIN!

This is the “dude” that some people want to be the next President of the United States

Scary isn’t it???????

Speaking bluntly, in a real presidential election, no one in their right mind would vote for Obama. That would be like voting for the guy who just moved in down the street from you, that you wave to from time to time but don’t know a thing about. That’s Obama. He’s been a US Senator for about 100 days, give or take a week. Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a radical Muslim while admitting that he was once a Muslim, mitigating that damning information by saying that, for two years, he also attended a Catholic school.

Obama’s father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. was a radical Muslim who migrated from Kenya to Jakarta, Indonesia. He met Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, a white atheist from Wichita, Kansas at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Obama, Sr. and Dunham divorced when Barack, Jr. was two. Obama’s spinmeisters are now attempting to make it appear that Obama’s introduction to Islam came from his father and that influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya immediately following the divorce and never again had any direct influence over his son’s education. Dunham married another Muslim, Lolo Soetoro who educated his stepson as a good Muslim by enrolling him in one of Jakarta’s Wahabbi schools. Wahabbism is the radical teaching that created the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad on the industrialized world. Since it is politically expedient to be a Christian when you are seeking political office in the United States, Obama joined the United Church of Christ to help purge any notion that he is still a Muslim, which, ideologically, he remains today.

Variations:   A later version of this piece included the following sentence:

ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office — he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Koran (Their equivalency to our Bible, but very different beliefs)

This statement is a mistaken reference to Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison, not Barack Obama.

Origins:   Barack Obama, 45, served as an Illinois state senator for several years, and in 2004 he won a seat representing that state in the U.S. Senate. His keynote address before

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the Democratic National Convention in June 2004 brought him national prominence, and he is currently one of the leading contenders for the nomination to represent the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential election.

Barack Obama has an unusual and interesting background, which the above-quoted piece draws on to paint him as a dangerous, camouflaged radical Muslim. Much of the information presented therein about his background is distorted and exaggerated, however, and no evidence supports a claim that Obama is currently “ideologically Muslim” or has ever been a “radical” Muslim:

Claim:   Barack Obama has been a U.S. senator for only 100 days.

Barack Obama was sworn in as a U.S. senator representing the state of Illinois on 4 January 2005, so as of late December 2006 (when the e-mail about his Muslim background appeared) he had been in that office for two years.

Claim:   Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a radical Muslim while admitting that he was once a Muslim, mitigating that damning information by saying that, for two years, he also attended a Catholic school.

Barack Obama has not “admitted” to being a Muslim, nor has any evidence been produced demonstrating that he is, or ever was, a “radical Muslim.” (As with everything else in the e-mail quoted at the head of the page, this is asserted as “fact” despite a complete lack of supporting evidence.) “Senator Obama has never been a Muslim,” Obama communications director Robert Gibbs said. “As a six-year-old in Catholic school, he studied the catechism.” Barack Obama has been associated with the United Church of Christ since the mid-1980s, describes himself as a Christian, and says that he is “rooted in the Christian tradition.”

When he was a child in Indonesia, Obama spent a couple of years at a Catholic school and another couple of years at a school that was predominantly Muslim (because Indonesia itself is predominantly Muslim). In his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama elaborated on his early schooling, explaining that he attended both Catholic and Muslim schools in Indonesia — not out of any particular religious affiliation, but because his mother wanted him to obtain the best education possible under the circumstances:

During the five years that we would live with my stepfather in Indonesia, I was sent first to a neighborhood Catholic school and then to a predominantly Muslim school; in both cases, my mother was less concerned with me learning the catechism or puzzling out the meaning of the muezzin’s call to evening prayer than she was with whether I was properly learning my multiplication tables.

Claim:   Obama’s father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. was a radical Muslim who migrated from Kenya to Jakarta, Indonesia. He met Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, a white atheist from Wichita, Kansas at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Obama, Sr. and Dunham divorced when Barack, Jr. was two.

Barack Obama’s father (also named Barack Obama) was born on the shores of Lake Victoria in Alego, Kenya. Although the elder Obama was raised as a Muslim, no evidence supports the claim that he was ever a “radical Muslim,” and Senator Obama’s family histories note that his father was an atheist or agnostic (i.e., no longer a practicing Muslim) by the time he married the younger Obama’s mother.

Claim: Obama’s spinmeisters are now attempting to make it appear that Obama’s introduction to Islam came from his father and that influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya immediately following the divorce and never again had any direct influence over his son’s education.

The notion that “Obama’s spinmeisters are now attempting to make it appear that Obama’s introduction to Islam came from his father” and deliberately obscuring the “reality” that his father had little “influence over his son’s education” is just silly in light of the fact that Barack Obama himself has repeatedly acknowledged that his parents split up when he was two years old and that he scarcely knew his father:

My father was almost entirely absent from my childhood, having been divorced from my mother when I was two years old.

At the time of his death, my father remained a myth to me, both more and less than a man. He had left Hawaii back in 1963, when I was only two years old, so that as a child I knew him only through the stories that my mother and grandparents told.

(Barack’s only other childhood contact with his father occurred when he was eleven years old, and his father came to visit Hawaii for a month at Christmastime.)

Claim:   Dunham married another Muslim, Lolo Soetoro who educated his stepson as a good Muslim by enrolling him in one of Jakarta’s Wahabbi schools. Wahabbism is the radical teaching that created the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad on the industrialized world.

The claim that Obama attended a radical Wahabbist school in Indonesia in the 1960s is exceedingly far-fetched, given that:

The large Indonesian community resident in Mecca was a medium through which knowledge about Wahhabism reached Indonesia, but the community itself appears to have remained virtually immune to Wahhabi influences. In reality there was little direct influence of Wahhabism on Indonesian reformist thought until the 1970s.

Insight magazine claimed in a January 2007 article that Barack Obama spent at least four years attending what is variously described as a “madrassa,” a “radical Muslim religious school,” or a “Muslim seminary” in Indonesia, but CNN has more recently reported that its own investigation found those claims to be false:

[R]eporting by CNN in Jakarta, Indonesia and Washington, D.C., shows the allegations that Obama attended a madrassa to be false. CNN dispatched Senior International Correspondent John Vause to Jakarta to investigate.

He visited the Basuki school, which Obama attended from 1969 to 1971.

“This is a public school. We don’t focus on religion,” Hardi Priyono, deputy headmaster of the Basuki school, told Vause. “In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don’t give preferential treatment.”

Vause reported he saw boys and girls dressed in neat school uniforms playing outside the school, while teachers were dressed in Western-style clothes.

“I came here to Barack Obama’s elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa … like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Vause said on the ‘Situation Room.’ “I’ve been to those madrassas in Pakistan … this school is nothing like that.”

Vause also interviewed one of Obama’s Basuki classmates, Bandug Winadijanto, who claims that not a lot has changed at the school since the two men were pupils. Insight reported that Obama’s political opponents believed the school promoted Wahhabism, a fundamentalist form of Islam, “and are seeking to prove it.”

“It’s not (an) Islamic school. It’s general,” Winadijanto said. “There is a lot of Christians, Buddhists, also Confucian. … So that’s a mixed school.”

The Associated Press reported similarly:

A spokesman for Indonesia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs said claims that Obama studied at an Islamic school are groundless.

“SDN Menteng 1 is a public primary school that is open to people of all faiths,” said the spokesman, Sutopo, who goes by only one name. “Moreover, he studied earlier at Fransiskus Assisi, which is clearly a Catholic school.”

Obama later transferred to SDN Menteng 1 the elite, secular elementary school at the center of the controversy. The school is public but is very competitive and has exceptionally high standards. It is located in one of the most affluent parts of Jakarta and attracts mostly middle- to upper-class students, among them several of former dictator Suharto’s grandchildren.

Indonesia is home to several of the most radical Islamic schools in Southeast Asia, some with alleged terrorist links. But Akmad Solichin [the vice principal at SDN Menteng 1], who proudly pointed to a photo of a young Barry Obama, as he was known, said his school is not one of them.

Moreover, a statement released by the Obama campaign affirmed that:

In the past week, many of you have read a now thoroughly-debunked story by Insight Magazine, owned by the Washington Times, which cites unnamed sources close to a political campaign that claim Senator Obama was enrolled for “at least four years” in an Indonesian “Madrassa”. The article says the “sources” believe the Madrassa was “espousing Wahhabism,” a form of radical Islam.

All of the claims about Senator Obama’s faith and education raised in the Insight Magazine story and repeated on Fox News are false. Senator Obama was raised in a secular household in Indonesia by his stepfather and mother. Obama’s stepfather worked for a U.S. oil company, and sent his stepson to two years of Catholic school, as well as two years of public school.

To be clear, Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ in Chicago. Furthermore, the Indonesian school Obama attended in Jakarta is a public school that is not and never has been a Madrassa.

Claim:   Since it is politically expedient to be a Christian when you are seeking political office in the United States, Obama joined the United Church of Christ to help purge any notion that he is still a Muslim, which, ideologically, he remains today.

As noted above, Barack Obama describes himself as “a Christian,” says that he is “rooted in the Christian tradition,” and his association with the United Church of Christ began well before his political career. (Obama was first elected to the Illinois state senate in 1996, but he has been involved with the United Church of Christ since the mid-1980s.) The beginnings of Obama’s relationship with the church were described in an April 2004 Chicago Sun-Times article:

Obama is unapologetic in saying he has a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” As a sign of that relationship, he says, he walked down the aisle of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ in response to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s altar call one Sunday morning about 16 years ago.

The politician could have ended his spiritual tale right there, at the point some people might assume his life changed, when he got “saved,” transformed, washed in the blood. But Obama wants to clarify what truly happened.

“It wasn’t an epiphany,” he says of that public profession of faith. “It was much more of a gradual process for me. I know there are some people who fall out. Which is wonderful. God bless them … I think it was just a moment to certify or publicly affirm a growing faith in me.”

These days, he says, he attends the 11 a.m. Sunday service at Trinity in the Brainerd neighborhood every week — or at least as many weeks as he is able. His pastor, Wright, has become a close confidant.

So how did he become a churchgoer?

It began in 1985, when he came to Chicago as a $13,000-a-year community organizer, working with a number of African-American churches in the Roseland, West Pullman and Altgeld Gardens neighborhoods that were trying to deal with the devastation caused by shuttered steel plants.

“I started working with both the ministers and the lay people in these churches on issues like creating job-training programs, or after-school programs for youth, or making sure that city services were fairly allocated to underserved communities,” he says. “And it was in those places where I think what had been more of an intellectual view of religion deepened.

“I became much more familiar with the ongoing tradition of the historic black church and its importance in the community. And the power of that culture to give people strength in very difficult circumstances, and the power of that church to give people courage against great odds. And it moved me deeply.”

No evidence supports the claim that Barack Obama is, despite his professed Christianity, “an ideological Muslim,” and those who have made this claim have offered nothing to support it — no letters or documents in which Barack Obama has ever stated such, no reports of conversations in which he ever admitted such, no revelations from friends or associates that he ever demonstrated such.