Wednesday, April 13, 2011

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The Next Big Lie

By Bill Wilson
Barack Obama is threatening that if Congress does not increase the $14.294 trillion national debt ceiling, the nation will default. In a letter to Congress, Obama’s Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner wrote, “Failure to raise the limit would precipitate a default by the United States.”
It is a rather curious formulation. Note that the Administration is not saying that if we continue to borrow trillions of dollars year on end without ever presenting a plan to repay the debt, we will default. But that if we do not continue borrowing, we cannot meet our obligations to creditors.

Call it the next big lie.
Get full story here.

ALG's Don Todd Turns The Team Obama Spotlight On To Nobody

Video by Frank McCaffrey
Get permalink here.

What is the NFLPA up to these days?

By Adam Bitely
Following the beginning of the “lockout” in the NFL, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) decertified itself as a labor union — meaning that it no longer represents the players to the team owners.
According to the National Football Post, the NFLPA announced within moments of decertifying that they “will move forward as a professional trade association with the mission of supporting the interests and rights of current and former professional football players.”

Essentially, this announcement was to signal that they have downgraded their status so that the players can begin litigation. This move was all about the lawsuits with a specific goal. Break the owners in the court room and force the owners to do what the NFLPA wants.
Get full story here.

How The Nature Conservancy Secures Government Land Grabs

By Kevin Mooney
What began as a benign effort to allow financially strapped property owners to receive tax benefits in exchange for specified development rights, has morphed into a government land grab. The chief culprit here is The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a well-funded 501(c) (3) organization founded in 1951 that is closely partnered with the federal government. TNC is flush with revenue in excess of $700 million, according to its recent tax forms, and has active chapters in all 50 states.

All told, land trusts control almost 40 million acres of land throughout the U.S. with at least nine million of this amount held in conservation easements, according to the Land Trust Alliance. TNC figures most prominently into this equation as it controls over three million acres in conservation easements, according to congressional testimony. They are described as “powerful, effective tools” on the TNC web site and that much is true. But the selfless, benevolent motives TNC attaches to its vigorous pursuit of easements in its public relations pitch belie its own financial incentives and its relationship with government officials, policy analysts and private property advocates have observed.

Get full story here.

Chinese man arrested for creating fake Army unit in immigration scam

He called himself the “supreme commander.”

From a storefront in Temple City decorated to look like a military recruiting center, David Deng raised an army of more than 100 Chinese nationals and claimed they were members of an elite U.S. special forces unit, authorities said.

Together, they marched in local Chinese New Year parades and even received a special military tour in uniform at the USS Midway museum in San Diego. Chinese-language newspapers ran photos of the troops with prominent community leaders.

But prosecutors on Tuesday charged that Deng’s “U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve” was actually a huge immigration scam that preyed on Chinese immigrants in the San Gabriel Valley desperate to become citizens.more LA Times
Yupeng Deng, 51, allegedly gave his “recruits” military uniforms, had them parade in a Los Angeles suburb and took them to the decommissioned USS Midway aircraft carrier, which is a museum in San Diego.

Deng charged more than 100 fellow Chinese nationals a fee of between $300 and $450 to join the fake Army unit, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

He called his bogus squad the U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve unit, or MSFR for short, and he gave himself the lofty title of “supreme commander,” prosecutors said.

Aside from telling recruits that belonging to the unit was a path to U.S. citizenship, Deng also urged them to pay him cash for higher military rank, according to prosecutors.

He also allegedly provided them with fake documents and phony military identification cards.
Deng, a resident of the Los Angeles suburb of El Monte, was arrested on Tuesday by sheriff’s deputies.
He was charged with theft by false pretenses, manufacturing deceptive government documents and counterfeit of an official government seal.

Deng faces up to eight years in prison if convicted. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday, and is being held on $500,000 bail.

Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office, declined to comment on how Deng was caught.more
thank you battleskin88

A Singer and a Governor Travel a Thunderous Road

By Richard A. Lee

Having spent many years as a reporter, I think it's great that Bruce Springsteen wrote a letter to the Asbury Park Press in response to a news article. In fact, I think it's great whenever a journalist writes a story that moves someone enough to write a letter to the editor.

In this case, however, the commotion that followed Springsteen's correspondence was a bit too much, even for a letter penned by a rock'n'roll superstar.

Lost amid the brouhaha that ensued was the fact that the news article that moved Springsteen to write his letter was an excellent piece of journalism. Some news stories, such as reports on accidents, fires and crime, virtually write themselves. This was not one of those.

The author of the article, veteran State House reporter Michael Symons, examined two separate reports that had been issued by different agencies and identified a common theme that ran through both studies, namely how to convince citizens and lawmakers of the need to address social issues such as poverty and child well-being at a time when politicians and much of the public are clamoring for smaller government and cutbacks in services. Symons then made the story timely and topical by placing it within the context of the state budget process under way in Trenton.

As Springsteen observed in his letter:“The article is one of the few that highlights the contradictions between a policy of large tax cuts, on the one hand, and cuts in services to those in the most dire conditions, on the other.” Following some additional comments about the article, the long-time Monmouth County resident concluded his letter with a nice homey touch: “I'm always glad to see my hometown newspaper covering these issues -- Bruce Springsteen, Colts Neck.”

That could have been the end to a nice little local story, but instead, the story went national. And the storyline wasn’t always “Superstar Praises Hometown Paper.” More often, it was along the lines of “NJ Rock Star Bruce Springsteen Takes on Republican Governor Chris Christie,” as illustrated by a few of the headlines that topped the story:

·        Springsteen Takes on Chris Christie (Fox News website)
·        When Bosses Collide (National Journal)
·        Gov. Chris Christie may love Bruce Springsteen's music, but Boss doesn't love GOP pol's politics (New York Daily News)
·        Bruce Springsteen at odds with NJ Gov. Christie's budget (USA Today)
·        Christie's rock idol knocks him in letter (Politico)

Headlines like these, and copy such as “…with the barbs now coming from the Boss, Christie may have met his match (McClatchy Washington Bureau),” created the impression that Springsteen and Christie were actively engaged in a heated exchange. Springsteen’s letter, however, made no direct reference to New Jersey’s Republican governor.

Sure, it’s easy to read between the lines, and based upon the two men’s public records, it’s clear they have some strong ideological differences on public policy. But to infer that Springsteen “slammed” the Governor (as more than one news report did) is somewhat misleading.

Of course, Christie didn’t make things any better when ABC’s Diane Sawyer asked him about the letter.

Christie, who happens to be a huge fan of Springsteen’s music, easily could have dispensed with the issue by responding that the Boss really didn’t specifically say anything about him, so there was no reason to continue the discussion. But Christie is not an individual apt to throw water on a fire. Gasoline more often is his choice – and that is what happened when he answered Sawyer’s question.

Rather than calm the fire, Christie stoked it by saying he was not surprised at Springsteen’s comments because the Bruce is a liberal -- and then he added a completely unsubstantiated statement about the boss: “Bruce believes that we should be raising taxes all the time on everyone to do all the things that he'd like to see government do.”  It didn’t take long for The Star-Ledger to write an editorial calling the Governor’s comments “a cheap shot at Springsteen” and making note that the phrase “raising taxes all the time on everyone” was nowhere in Springsteen’s letter.

Nevertheless, we were treated to a second round of stories, this batch all about Christie’s response to Springsteen’s letter. The whole episode is a bit reminiscent of Seinfeld – a show about nothing: First, Springsteen writes a letter with no mention of the Governor, yet that sparks a series of news reports about a Springsteen-Christie feud. Then Christie adds fuel to the fire with his response to the feud – a feud that may not even exist outside of news reports.

Surely, there must be more important things in the news today – like why Rutgers paid Snooki $32,000 for an appearance at New Jersey’s state university.

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Richard A. Lee is Communications Director of the Hall Institute. A former State House reporter and Deputy Communications Director for the Governor, he also teaches courses in media, politics and government at Rutgers University, where he is completing work on a Ph.D. in media studies. Read more of Rich’s columns at richleeonline and follow him on Twitter.