Thursday, June 7, 2012

Random Shots - Obama's Fixing Job Numbers, Holder Has Amnesia, California Whales, And More!


Dirty Politics - Obama Administration Manipulating Jobless Numbers To Show Less Unemployed and More "Green Jobs"

Congressman Darrell Issa says Obama Administration classifies jobs with political purpose.

The Obama administration is manipulating how it reports and provides information about U.S jobs - in some cases for "clearly political reasons" - said U.S. Representative Darrell Issa.

Rep. Darrell Issa, who is Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, made the assertion during a hearing on how the Obama administration counts so-called "green jobs" and the Labor Department's recent, unannounced change on how Reporters can access key unemployment reports and other information.

The Labor Department "has jeopardized the integrity of employment data in some cases for clearly political reasons," Issa said.

Issa said the administration is reclassifying such jobs as welder, college professor and diesel mechanic as "green jobs" to prove that Billions of taxpayer dollars have created alternative-energy jobs -  though they in fact haven't.

Under questioning by Issa, senior U.S. Labor Department officials revealed that the Obama administration counts oil lobbyists, bus drivers, welders, garbage men, bicycle shop employees and used-record store clerks as "green jobs."

The exchange occurred between Issa, Bureau of Labor Statistics Acting Commissioner Josh Galvin and Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Jane Oates at the "Addressing Concerns about the Integrity of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Jobs Reporting" hearing Wednesday in Washington

Bottom line: the Obama administration is trying to fix the reports so that it look like that huge Federal stimulus package which cost Taxpayers almost a Trillion Dollars actually produced new jobs - when in fact it didn't.

Of course, so-called "green jobs" is a major initiative for President Obama, so why not fix it to make it look like he has accomplished more than he in reality has. 

"It’s about politics. It’s always been about politics," said Representative Issa, R-Calif. "If you work at the Salvation Army, that’s a green job?"

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor of, said the administration should be focused on simply creating jobs, not classifying them.

She cited the administration putting $3.5 million into the failed Solyndra solar-energy company as an example of the administration appearing to misleadingly or incorrectly tout green-job creation.

Besides the Obama administration trying to now classify truck drivers, school bus drivers, and those riding the bus as "green-jobs," there is another concern to all of this that screams of Obama's idea of Big Brother telling Americans how to conduct themselves.

This second concern has to do with the Labor Department recently ordering Reporters to use government-issued software and other equipment to access Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, perhaps a violation of free-speech laws.

"This proposal threatens the First Amendment," said Daniel Moss, a Bloomberg News executive editor, testifying at the hearing.

This whole idea of having to use equipement issued by the government to access information from the government would have made famous Communist leaders like Linin, Stallin, Moa, and Castro proud.

It is just another attempt of the Obama administration to impose authoritatian measures on Americans. It's seems to be his way of imposing a dictatorial government - one that is run with unlimited power by the head of government or head of state - on Americans.

Some folks might have forgotten, but in March of 2011, Obama had told people that it would be so much easier to be the president of China - as one official put it, "No one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao’s words in Tahrir Square."

Then of course, it was in August of 2011, when Obama slammed American Democracy - although technically, we are a Republic - when Obama blamed our terrible economy on what he called a "big, messy, tough Democracy."

Imagine that!


Fast & Furious Amnesia Hits Attorney General Eric Holder

Amnesia is a condition in which one's memory is lost either by physical or psychological reasons. It's a condition that can be slow in coming, or in the case of Attorney General Eric Holder very sudden - almost, let's say, convenient.

When asked about the Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious which gave thousands of weapons to Mexican Drug Cartels, and which high-ranking Obama administration officials knew about the botched operation, Holder can't remember at of very pertinent facts.

Out of convenience or not, Holder's new found amnesia helped him evade questions by Rep. Darrell Issa about some of the smallest details - such whether he or other Justice Department officials had even started to pull together Fast and Furious documents requested in an October 2011 subpoena Issa sent the agency.

"Nothing has come from your department, not a shred of paper," Representative Issa said during a House Judiciary Committee meeting.

Representative Darrell Issa, (R-CA), is the Chairman of the chamber’s Committee on Oversight and Government Affairs which issued the subpoena to the Justice Department.

The subpoena demanded "all" documentation regarding Operation Fast and Furious and the gun-running which has been linked to the 2010 death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

"You are not a good witness," Representative Issa said in frustration, after Holder essentially repeated Issa's questions over and over again.

Issa has vowed to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to respond to the subpoena. Holder has testified he has given congressional investigators the requisite information. Holder has stated that he has turned over "relevant" documentation while steadfastly refusing to turn over all documentation and not just that that he deems relevant.

On Monday, Representative Issa released information about six wiretap applications that he says prove high-ranking Justice Department officials knew about the Justice Department's gun-running operation.

Issa says the applications were signed by Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, Holder’s second in command.

The Obama administration has repeatedly said high-level Justice Department officials had no specific knowledge of the gun-running of thousands of weapons into the hands of criminals and murderers in Mexico.

Holder has testified at least seven times before Congress on Fast and Furious and has acknowledged the program’s failures.

"We now know … inappropriate tactics were used in an attempt to stem the flow of illegal guns across the Southwest border," he said Thursday in opening remarks. "Although these law enforcement operations … were focused on the laudable goal of dismantling illegal gun trafficking networks, they were flawed in both concept and execution."

The Justice Department responded to Issa’s interpretation of the wiretap applications in a letter saying the agency disagrees with his assertion but is "legally prohibited from commenting on the content of sealed court documents."

The gun-walking tactic had the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Arizona stage gun sales across the Mexico border with alleged arms dealers, with the hope that the thousands of weapons would lead to organizers of Drug Cartels.

Instead, yes the guns have been used in murders across Mexico. One of the Fast & Furious weapons was used to murder U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

In another tense exchange Thursday, Representative Lamar Smith asked Holder, whether he or anybody else told the White House about so-called "gun-walking tactic" after it appeared to contribute to the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry?

Attorney General Holder replied “I don’t know.”

The exchange occurred during a hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee, on which Smith is the chairman.

"When was anyone in the White House informed of the tactics used under Operation Fast and Furious?" asked Smith, (R-TX).

Holder replied: “I don't know.”

When Representative Smith asked Holder if he personally told the White House?  Holder replied, "There was contact between staff. .. I don't myself remember any direct contact."

Yes, it sounds like a sudden onset of amnesia. And as I stated be before, amnesia is a condition in which one's memory is lost.

The causes of amnesia have traditionally been divided into certain categories. Memory appears to be stored in several parts of the limbic system of the brain, and any condition that interferes with the function of this system can cause amnesia.

Functional causes are psychological factors, such as mental disorder, post-traumatic stress or, in psychoanalytic terms - defense mechanisms.

Since it's almost certain that the Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder has not fallen on his head lately, I can only wonder if his new found state of amnesia is being caused by psychological factors, such as a mental disorder - or say some defense mechanism like that of not wanting to go to prison.


Voters From Two Heavily Democrat California Cities Vote To Curb Pension Abuse

Is it Pension Abuse? Damn right it is, and Voters are tired of it.

Decisive victories for ballot proposals cutting retirement benefits for government workers in two of the largest cities in the U.S. emboldened advocates seeking to curb pensions in state capitols and city halls across the nation.

The voter responses in San Diego and San Jose were stinging setbacks for public employee unions, which also came up short on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's recall victory in Wisconsin.

"The message is that if elected officials and public employee unions do not responsibly deal with this issue, voters will take things into their own hands," said Thom Reilly, former chief executive of Clark County, Nevada, now a professor of social work at San Diego State University. "We could see more draconian measures from citizens."

In San Diego, two-thirds of voters favored the pension reduction plan. And the landslide was even greater in San Jose, where 70 percent were in favor.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, a chief backer, said he was surprised by the margin of victory and considered it a statement that voters won't tolerate benefits that are more generous than those they receive working at private companies.

Voters in two major California cities overwhelmingly approved cuts to retirement benefits for city workers in what supporters said was a mandate that may lead to similar ballot initiatives in other states and cities that are struggling with mounting pension obligations.

Supporters had a simple message to voters in San Diego and San Jose: Pensions for city workers are unaffordable and more generous than many private companies offer, forcing libraries to slash hours and potholes to go unfilled.

"The public is frustrated," said San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio, a Republican who staked his mayoral bid on the pension measure and advanced to a November runoff in Tuesday's election to lead the nation's eighth-largest city.

In San Diego, 66 percent voted in favor of Proposition B, while 34 percent were opposed. Nearly 97 percent of precincts were tallied by early Wednesday.

The landslide was even bigger in San Jose, the nation's 10th-largest city. With all precincts counted, 70 percent were in favor of Measure B and 30 percent were opposed.

"The voters get it, they understand what needs to be done," said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat who has called pensions his highest priority.

Shrinking tax revenues during the recession are also responsible for service cuts in San Diego and San Jose, but pensions were an easy target. San Diego's payments to the city's retirement fund soared from $43 million in 1999 to $231.2 million this year, equal to 20 percent of the city's general fund budget, which pays for day-to-day operations.

As the pension payments grew, San Diego's 1.3 million residents saw roads deteriorate and libraries and recreation centers cut hours. For a while, some fire stations had to share engines and trucks. The city has cut its workforce 14 percent to 10,100 employees since Sanders took office in 2005.

San Jose's pension payments jumped from $73 million in 2001 to $245 million this year, equal to 27 percent of its general fund budget. Voters there approved construction bonds at the beginning of the last decade, but four new libraries and a police station have never opened because the city cannot afford to operate them.

The city of 960,000 cut its workforce 27 percent to 5,400 over the last 10 years.

Tuesday's votes set the stage for potentially lengthy legal challenges by public employee unions. The measures are unusual because they address pensions for current employees, not just new hires.

Opponents argued that the measures deprive workers of benefits they were counting on when they got hired. They tried to pass along the idea that some workers decided against potentially more lucrative jobs with private companies, figuring their retirement was relatively safe.

Voters didn't accept what the opponents had to say. They simply were not accepting the arguement that workers decided against making more money with private companies to opt for those jobs. It didn't make any sense. It sounded like a line of bullspit!

The ballot measures differ on specifics.

San Diego's imposes a six-year freeze on pay levels used to determine pension benefits unless a two-thirds majority of the City Council votes to override it. It also puts new hires, except for police officers, into 401(k)-style plans.

More than 100,000 residents signed petitions to put the San Diego measure on the ballot.

Under San Jose's measure, current workers have to pay up to 16 percent of their salaries to keep their retirement plan or accept more modest benefits. New hires would get less generous benefits.

Mayor Reed joined an 8-3 City Council majority to put the measure on the ballot. He said after Tuesday's vote that he expected other cities in financial binds to pursue similar measures.

"It's novel but it's certainly not radical," he said. "Mayors across the country are very interested. We're at the leading edge but we're not alone."


Coyotes cause temporary closure of Palo Alto trails to dogs

Some trails in Palo Alto California's Pearson Arastradero Preserve have been temporarily closed to dogs, following encounters with coyotes.

The closed trails are Ohlone, Bay Laurel and Woodland Star, according to the city's Community Services Department. Parts of the Juan Bautista de Anza and Meadowlark trails have also been off limits to dogs since May 31.

The coyotes may be acting aggressively because they have pups in a nearby den.

Trail users are encouraged to pay close attention to their surroundings. They shouldn't approach, bark at, feed or attempt to tame the animals. Children should also be kept close.

They advise people who are followed by a coyote to make loud noises and throw rocks if that doesn't.

Of course, there is always the concept of having a gun on you - but that's the liberal San Francisco Bay Area and no one would think of such a thing!


Post Election Voter Message: We Want Fiscal Responsibility!

Voters sent a clear message Tuesday to their local leaders.

This was the message that voters sent: Get your financial houses in order, Don't ask for more money until you start responsibly spending what we've already given you. We're tired of losing public services as you siphon off our tax money to pay mounting costs of overly generous public-employee retirement benefits.

Nowhere in the San Francisco Bay Area that message clearer than the city of Alameda and the East Contra Costa Fire District, two very different public agencies that were both asking for more money.
Neither had yet to address their badly underfunded pension systems. Voters resoundingly rejected both measures.

Nowhere in the state was that message clearer than San Jose, where voters overwhelmingly approved a pension reform plan that will force city employees to pay more toward their pensions or accept reduced retirement benefit accruals in the future.

San Jose voters are tired of closed libraries, streets pocked with potholes, and neighborhoods unnerved by upswings in gang violence. They've watched the cost of employee pensions triple over the past decade while the number of city employees providing public services plunged.

San Jose's plight is not unique. Indeed, it has become the new normal for local governments across the state. But San Jose residents benefit from an unusual charter provision that makes it legally easier to impose changes on current employees.

Thus, while the city has become a poster child for pension reform, it doesn't provide a legal road map for the rest of the state. Some other local government will have to find the path. But the vote by the residents of the city sends a political message of growing discontent that state and local politicians must heed.

East Bay voters sent a similar message. They did not flatly reject new taxes. When a legitimate need was demonstrated and meaningful efforts had been made to control costs, voters were generally supportive.

That was true in the Dublin and Hayward school districts, as well as the cities of Hercules, San Pablo and Pittsburg. Conversely, Alameda and east Contra Costa voters definitively rejected new taxes - and with good reason.

In Alameda, leaders wanted to add a half-cent sales tax levy for 30 years to raise money for capital projects, but the proposal did nothing to address the city's staggering $285 million debt for unfunded retirement benefits. That's equal to four years of general fund revenues.

The East Contra Costa Fire District proposed the East Bay's most irresponsible tax plan on Tuesday's ballot. The 10-year levy, starting at $197 per parcel annually, would have more than doubled the district's revenues. And it would have all gone to increased services, keeping more stations open and adding costly paramedics to every fire engine. 

But it would have done nothing to address the district's ballooning retirement debt. Within a decade, the district will be spending far more on retirement benefits than on salaries. The tax proposal ignored that; indeed, it would have exacerbated the problem.

Voters demonstrated that they are willing to tax themselves when local leaders make reasonable proposals. But they're unwilling to continue digging the financial hole deeper.

It all sounds like the Tea Party is taking shape in California!

Yes, as shocking as that sounds, it is happening. The desire for fiscal discipline and reduce taxation is what started the Tea Party movement.

The Tea Party movement is a grassroots movement of Millions of like-minded Americans from all backgrounds and political parties. Tea Party members share similar core principles supporting the United States Constitution as the Founders intended, such as: Limited federal government. Individual freedoms. Personal responsibility. Free markets. Returning political power to the states and the people.

As a movement, the Tea Party is not a political party nor is looking to form a third political party any time soon. The Tea Party movement is, instead, about reforming all political parties and government so that the core principles of our Founding Fathers become, once again the foundation upon which America stands.

It seems apparent that this is exactly the message that the voters of California sent.

Could it be possible that there are more Tea Party folks in California than anyone in Sacramento wants to admit to? I think so!


Humpback, blue whales spotted near the Farallon Islands

The Farallon Islands are a group of islands and sea stacks in the Gulf of the Farallones, off the coast of California.

They lie 27 miles outside of San Francisco's Golden Gate and 20 miles south of Point Reyes. And yes, they can be seen from the California mainland on clear days.

The islands are officially part of the City and County of San Francisco. The only inhabited portion of the islands is on Southeast Farallon Islands (SEFI), where research residents of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory are located.

The islands are closed to the public. And yes, it might just be for the birds because the Farallon Islands are an important reserve protecting a huge seabird colony.

Because of the position of the islands in the highly productive California Current and Eastern Pacific upwelling region, as well as the absence of other large islands that would provide suitable nesting grounds, this all results in a seabird population of over 250,000. Believe it or not, 12 species of seabirds and shorebirds nest on the islands

Boaters are being warned that humpback and blue whales are starting to appear in the waters outside San Francisco and have been sighted in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

Around 40 humpback whales were first spotted from Southeast Farallon Island in April, and even a few blue whales, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials said.

Blue and humpback whales are often seen along the West Coast between late spring and fall, feeding on dense swarms of krill - small shrimp-like crustaceans - and small fish like anchovies and sardines.

A Blue Whale compared to the size of a Diver

The blue whale is a marine mammal. At about 98 feet in length and 200 short tons or more in weight, it is the largest known animal to have ever existed on earth. They were almost hunted to extinction.

The humpback whale is a species of baleen whale. Adults range in length from 40 to 53 feet and weigh approximately 79,000 pound.

A Humpback Whale compared to the size of a Diver

Blue whales and Humpback whales are most frequently found near the islands in the summer and fall, when strong upwelling may support a rich pelagic food web.

Killer whales are also found around the islands. That may be due to the five species of seals that come to shore on the islands, and in some cases breed. These are the Northern Elephant Seal, Harbor Seal, Steller's Sea Lion, California Sea Lion, and the Northern Fur Seal.

Gray whales are reliably found near the Faralons during their spring migration north and the fall/winter migration south. Some Gray whales may also be found during the summer, when a few whales skip the trip north to Alaska and spend the summer months off the coast of Canada and the continental United States

The gray whale is a baleen whale that migrates between feeding and breeding grounds yearly. It reaches a length of about 52 feet, a weight of 40 short tons, and lives 50 to 70 years. The common name of the whale comes from the gray patches and white mottling on its dark skin. Gray whales were once called devil fish because of their fighting behavior when hunted.

A Gray Whale compared to the size of a Diver

The humpback whales appearance was right on time, sanctuary officials said, however the blue whales were spotted unusually early.

Whale sightings are common throughout the year, however, because from the winter through the spring migrating gray whales traveling between Mexican breeding grounds and Arctic feeding grounds pass through the sanctuary, as well. 

Much of a whale's body is often not visible from the surface, but observers can watch for the whale's blow, which looks like a puff of smoke, 10 feet tall for humpbacks and 30 feet tall for the enormous blue whales.

Boaters who encounter whales are legally required to keep their distance as the animals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.

NOAA officials recommend boaters who do encounter whales keep a distance of about 300 feet, and ask that boaters please don't cut across a whale's path, avoid sudden speed or directional changes, and absolutely don't get between a mother and her calf. It might lead to a huge problem for the boater.

Here's something that happened off of South Africa! Think Moby Dick!


All's NOT OK with Vanity License Plates

When Whitney Calk sought a personalized license plate from a Tennessee state agency to tout her vegetarian ideals, she was annoyed when she was told no. Turns out the letters ILVTOFU can be construed to mean more than enjoying bean curd.

"When I see T-O-F-U, I see tofu," says Calk, who requested the so-called vanity plate from the Tennessee Department of Revenue last September.

"I can't control the way anyone else interprets that," said Calk, 26, an animal rights activist from Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The dilemma faced by Tennessee authorities last year is not unusual, as officials at motor vehicle agencies nationwide consider hundreds of thousands of personalized plate requests each year. There are an estimated 9 million personalized license plates in the United States.

The vast majority of the requests are not objectionable, but thousands provide insight not only into the boundaries of free speech but the amount of human ingenuity expended to display seven and eight character insults, sexual references and descriptions of bodily functions to other motorists.

The battle to keep highways free of offensive phrases means state officials must track everything from Internet slang to foreign languages to commands like 3MTA3, which reveals its meaning when read backwards in a rear view mirror.

Virginia may be the capital of vanity plate mischief. Personalized plates in the state cost just $10 more than regular license plates—compared with $40 in Texas and $94 in Illinois. One million of the Virginia's 7.8 million vehicles have them.

In 2009 alone, the state denied more than 700 plate requests including IHAV2P and IAMHIGH along with 100 requests beginning with the letter ‘F' and myriad proposals involving the number ‘69,' according to state documents.

Questionable formulations are so common that a 20-person committee of motor vehicle staffers meets for an hour each month to review suspicious applications.

State guidelines ban deceptive plates such as FBI or confusing configurations like O0O0O and NOTAG as well as excretory, sexual, racial or drug references.

"It's the only time you get to talk like that at DMV, that's for sure," said Department of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Melanie Stokes, who sits on the review panel. Less offensive and more playful ideas, including EWOBAMA, IPUNCHU and DMYANKI, have all been reviewed and rejected at the meetings.

Some slip through.

Pictures have been posted on the internet of the Virginia-issued 370H55V — which has to be read upside-down to get the full message.

In Maryland, a software program checks requests against 4,331 banned license plate formulations, a list that includes WILDPIG, TOILET and GAY.

State prisoners who make the plates also help out by identifying drug, gang or sexual references that slip by the computer and the civil servants, said Philip Dacey, a spokesman for the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.

"A lot of these are gray areas," said Dacey. "TOILET is on the list and if people want to challenge it they can have a hearing."

That's what one motorist did after Maryland revoked his MIERDA vanity plate following a complaint. Though the Spanish term would seem to embody the state's ban on "scatological" references, an administrator is currently considering the man's appeal that the license plate should be interpreted as a non-vulgar reference to a form of fertilizer.

More recently Maryland attempted to revoke a plate reading WTF, an abbreviation for a three-word phrase beginning "what the ..." that is widely used in Internet chat. The agency reversed course after an investigation revealed that the plate predated the Internet, and was a reference to the motorist's waterfront home.

In Florida, the state's motor vehicle agency takes a permissive stance towards celebrations of clothing optional bathing. O2B NUDE, BARE ALL and BE NAKED have all been deemed acceptable by the director of the agency, who nonetheless spiked 4NICK8, CAT BUTT and COW PADY, according to records released by the state.

Other states are less permissive. Utah, which faced a lawsuit in the 1990s for issuing plates with the term "Redskins" because it offended Native Americans, has recently denied ‘IH8TBYU,' ‘MNKYBUM,' and ‘MYSHRAZ' for being derogatory, vulgar, and an alcohol reference to a popular wine.

Massachusetts' vanity application form now instructs motorists that the letters "I" "O" "Q" and "U" can only be used "as part of a word that is clearly defined and correctly spelled."

California requires applicants to explain the meaning of any request. So yes, if you're in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles and find yourself behind someone trying to explain their NOBAMA license plate renewal - have patients - DMV might not accept a short explaination.


This is a Wow! Photographer captures a "Moonbow" over Waimea on the Big Island

Yes, this is a Wow! It's something that happens rarely, but believe it or not, this incredible image of a "Moonbow" was captured this last weekend over Waimea on the Big Island.

The photo was taken by photographer Ethan Tweedie who says conditions for the Moonbow were excellent, a 98 percent full moon low in the sky, along with wind and rain.

In fact, as the winds hit about 40-miles per hour, Ethan says he had trouble standing long enough to get the shot.

A moonbow, also known as a lunar rainbow, is produced by light reflected off the surface of the moon, rather than from direct sunlight.

This is outstanding! And yes, I thought you'd like to see it.

Have a great day! 

Story by Tom Correa

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