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Madison Rising brings great rock music back to the forefront of popular culture. With songs ranging from the guitar heavy opening track “Right To Bear,” to the hauntingly epic sounds of “Honk If You Want Peace,” to the beautiful violins of “Hallowed Ground,” it is clear that this band is on a mission to not only make great music, but also send a message that American culture is alive and well.
(Las Vegas, NV) – Seven-term Congresswoman Shelley Berkley told Jon Ralston during a June 25, 2012 interview that a conflict of interest “did not occur” to her. But in an interview this past Saturday, September 1, 2012, Shelley Berkley claims her staff did contact the House Ethics Committee about a potential conflict of interest. Apparently, she claims she just does not know how the House Ethics Committee responded.
What Shelley Berkley said in June:
· Jon Ralston: “You wrote two letters to regulators…you don’t think it could be seen by some people…that you were pursuing a narrow financial interest?”
· Shelley Berkley: “NO. Number one there are millions of kidney patients throughout the United States…would I have really stood back and do nothing when I knew that there was a possibility that the only kidney transplant program in the entire state of Nevada was going to be closed?”
· Jon Ralston: “Have you thought about it enough…?”
· Shelley Berkley: “I wasn’t thinking about the politics of it and I wasn’t worried about the politics.”
· Jon Ralston: “This isn’t politics. This is the financial benefit side of it.”
· Shelley Berkley: “IT DID NOT OCCUR TO ME. My only concern was to provide good health care in the state of Nevada for the people that live here. That’s it.”
Source: Jon Ralston, Face to Face, June 25, 2012. Guest: Shelley Berkley; http://www.lasvegassun.com/videos/face-face/
But according to Shelley Berkley’s interview on PoliticsNow with Steve Sebelius, apparently it did occur to Shelley Berkley, or at least someone in her office.
· Steve Sebelius: “Before you advocated on that…did you contact the House Ethics office and ask them is it appropriate, is it ok if I do this…?”
· Shelley Berkley: “Let me say this, it’s my understanding that my office did contact the Ethics Committee but I didn’t personally do that. And all of the other issues that are involved with the ethics complaint and the ethics investigation, we’ve been asked to keep them confidential…”
· Steve Sebelius: “Did you hear back from them?”
· Shelley Berkley: “I don’t know. I don’t know and I can’t give you an answer…”
Source: Steve Sebelius, PoliticsNow, September 1, 2012:
So, which is it? Did Shelley Berkley or didn’t she know that there could be a conflict of interest? Which statement is true and which one is a lie? How could she not know the answer to that question? Or did she just not care either way?
The gallery below features pictures sent in by our readers here on TMR and on our Facebook page Impeach Nancy Pelosi. If you want to send in pictures of the empty chair at your house message us here and we’ll add them…
[flagallery gid=1 w=630 h=710 skin=stylishgrey name=Gallery]
On July 12, the Obama Administration released a policy directive from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rewriting the successful welfare reform law of 1996. The 1996 reform restructured the largest federal cash welfare program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), by inserting work requirements and renamed the program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). As a result of the reform, within five years welfare rolls decreased by approximately 50 percent and child poverty dropped precipitously.
The Obama Administration’s new directive allows states to waive the TANF work requirement, gutting the reform of its most critical element and bludgeoning the letter and intent of the law.
Obama Administration Violating the Law
In establishing welfare reform, Congress made the core work requirements of the TANF program mandatory and non-waiveable; it explicitly protected the work requirements from any future Administration that might wish to weaken them.
The Obama Administration is now illegally claiming authority to waive the TANF work requirements through a legal device called the section 1115 waiver authority under the Social Security law (42 U.S.C. 1315). Section 1115 states that “the Secretary may waive compliance with any of the requirements” of specified parts of various laws. However, this is not an open-ended authority. Any provision of law that can be waived under section 1115 must be listed in section 1115 itself. The work provisions of the TANF program are contained in section 407 (titled, appropriately, “Mandatory Work Requirements”). Section 407 and most other TANF requirements are deliberately not listed in section 1115 and hence are explicitly not waiveable.
Of the roughly 35 sections of the TANF law, only one is listed as waiveable under section 1115: section 402, which describes the reports that state governments must file to HHS describing the actions they will undertake to comply with the requirements established in the TANF law. The authority to waive section 402 provides the option to waive state reporting requirements only, not to overturn the core requirements of the TANF program contained in the other sections of the TANF law.
The HHS directive asserts that because the work requirements (established in section 407) are an item that state governments must report on in section 402, and HHS has the authority to waive section 402, all of the work requirements can be waived. This removes the core of the TANF program; TANF becomes a blank slate that HHS bureaucrats and liberal state bureaucrats can rewrite at will.
Congressional Research Service: “There Are No TANF Waivers”
In a December 2001 document, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service clarified that the limited authority to waive state reporting requirements in section 402 does not grant authority to override work and other major requirements in the other sections of the TANF law (sections that were deliberately not listed under the section 1115 waiver authority):
Technically, there is waiver authority for TANF state plan requirement; however, [the] major TANF requirements are not in state plans. Effectively, there are no TANF waivers.
If Congress had wanted HHS to be able to waive the TANF work requirements laid out in section 407, it would have listed that section as waiveable under section 1115. It did not. The HHS action to waive the TANF work requirement blatantly violates the intent and letter of the law.
Welfare Reform Under Clinton
The underlying concept of welfare reform was that able-bodied adults should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving welfare aid. The welfare reform law is often characterized as simply giving state governments more flexibility in operating welfare programs, but this is a serious misunderstanding. While the new law (the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996) did grant states more flexibility in some respects, the core of the act was the creation of rigorous new federal work standards that state governments were required to implement.
Under the old, pre-reform AFDC program, welfare was a one-way handout. Government mailed checks to recipients, who were not required to do anything in return. The new TANF program was based on reciprocal responsibility: Taxpayers continued to provide aid, but beneficiaries were required, in exchange, to engage in constructive behavior to increase self-sufficiency and reduce dependence.
The TANF work requirements were not onerous. Under the law, some 30–40 percent of adult TANF recipients in a state were required to engage in “work activities,” which is defined as unsubsidized employment, subsidized employment, on-the-job training, attending high school or a GED program, vocational education, community service work, job search, or job readiness training. Participation was part-time: 20 hours per week for mothers with children under six and 30 hours for mothers with older children.
Welfare Reform Was Successful
Despite claims from liberals that welfare reform would lead to disastrous outcomes, the welfare reform law was very successful. Prior to the reform, AFDC caseloads had not declined significantly at any time since World War II. Within five years of welfare reform, the caseload promptly dropped by approximately 50 percent. As the caseloads plummeted, employment and earnings among low-income individuals surged upward.
As welfare dependence fell and employment increased, child poverty among the affected groups also fell dramatically. For a quarter-century before the reform, poverty among black children and single mothers had remained frozen at high levels. Immediately after the reform, poverty for both groups experienced dramatic and unprecedented drops, reaching all-time lows.
However, since 1996 TANF work requirements have been weakened, as liberals in Congress have blocked reauthorization of the reform law and states have used loopholes to get around the work requirement. Now, the Obama Administration’s directive guts the work requirement, rendering the definition of “work” virtually meaningless.
Welfare State Continues to Swell
The welfare-to-work provisions of TANF should be restored. However, TANF is only one small program in a much larger welfare state. The federal government operates more than 80 means-tested welfare programs to provide cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and low-income people. As of 2012, only three of these programs had active work requirements. Now, with HHS’s latest order, the list is down to two.
Additionally, Obama has increased federal means-tested welfare spending by a third since taking office. Last year, combined federal and state spending on means-tested welfare hit $927 billion. (Social Security and Medicare are not included in this total.)
Remarkably, President Obama plans to increase spending on means-tested welfare spending further after the current recession ends. The President’s own budget calls for a permanent increase in annual means-tested spending from 4.5 percent to 6 percent of gross domestic product. Combined annual federal and state spending would reach $1.56 trillion in 2022. Overall, President Obama plans to spend $12.7 trillion on means-tested welfare over the next decade.
What Washington Should Do
Instead of returning welfare to a one-way handout and pouring more taxpayer dollars into an ever-increasing number of welfare programs, welfare-to-work requirements should be restored in the TANF program, and similar work requirements should be established in parallel programs such as food stamps—the fastest growing welfare program today—and public housing.
Establishing welfare on the principles of work and personal responsibility are key to discouraging long-term government dependence and helping those in need reach self-reliance. The 1996 welfare reform was a first step toward accomplishing this goal, and it helped millions of Americans escape dependence and poverty.
The principle that able-bodied adults who receive welfare should be required to work or prepare for work in exchange for assistance is fair to the taxpayers and helps those in need move toward financial independence. This principle should be strengthened and expanded, not undermined.
Originally posted @ Heritage
(Robert Rector is Senior Research Fellow in the Domestic Policy Studies Department and Rachel Sheffield is a Research Associate in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation.)
It looks like Romney & Ryan need to do a better job at communicating their vision in swing states. Although this is just one poll, by a Democrat polling firm, one would have expected a little bit more of a bounce or reaction coming from swing state voters.
PPP’s newest Florida poll, conducted completely after the Republican convention, finds no change in the Presidential race there. Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney 48-47, exactly as he did on our last poll of the state five weeks ago.
The Republican convention being held in Tampa appears to have been a wash. 33% of voters say it made them more likely to vote for Republicans, 33% said it made them less likely to vote for Republicans, and 34% said it didn’t make a difference to them either way.
Romney did see a slight bump in his favorability numbers. 49% of voters have a positive opinion of him to 47% with a negative one. That +2 spread is up a net 5 points from late July when his breakdown was 46/49.
The rest of the speakers at the convention seem to have been more of a hit with voters. Condoleezza Rice’s numbers in particular stand out. 66% of voters see her favorably to 22% with a negative opinion. That’s up a net 13 points from our last poll when she was already pretty darn popular at 59/28. Even with Democrats Rice comes in at 47/36. Another star from the convention is Ann Romney. 56% of voters give her good marks to 22% with an unfavorable opinion and she comes close to breaking even with Democrats at 32/39.
Clint Eastwood’s speech may have drawn more attention than anything else that happened at the convention and it didn’t go over particularly well with voters. 36% say they have a favorable opinion of his remarks to 41% with a negative opinion. While Eastwood’s speech didn’t do much to help Romney it doesn’t seem to have hurt his own reputation either. 72% of Floridians have a favorable opinion of him to 11% with a negative one and even with Democrats the spread is 58/20. Those are certainly numbers any politician would die for.
The biggest winner of the convention on the Republican side may have been Marco Rubio. He now has a 51% approval rating with 33% of voters disapproving of him. Those are the best numbers PPP has found for him since he took office. He is pretty universally beloved by GOP voters at 85/11 and even with Democrats he has a 26% approval rating, more crossover support than we usually find for folks these days.
Everyone else who spoke in the 10 PM hour at the convention has better favorability numbers than Mitt Romney. Besides those already mentioned Susana Martinez has a +19 spread at 35/16, Chris Christie has a +9 spread at 41/32, and Paul Ryan has a +7 spread at 47/40.
Obama continues to have his modest lead in Florida because he’s up 51-39 with independents, 63-33 with non-white voters, and 54-40 with voters over 45. Romney’s up 54-42 with whites and 53-44 with folks over 65 but he would need bigger margins with those groups to lead in the state overall.
Other notes from Florida:
-One reason Romney may not get much, if any, of a convention bounce is simply that people don’t think he’s a very good speaker. 58% in Florida say Obama is a better public speaker to 32% for Romney.
-49% of Florida voters think Romney should release 12 years of his tax returns to 41% who think he should not.
-Florida voters oppose the Ryan Plan 44/37 but given the lack of change in the race since Ryan’s selection as Romney’s running mate and the strong advantage the Republican ticket has with seniors that may not be having too much of an impact.
PPP’s pre-Democratic convention North Carolina poll finds the Presidential race in the state all tied up: Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are each at 48%.
Just as we found in Florida, the Republican convention doesn’t seem to be giving Romney much of a bounce. 34% of voters say that the convention made them more likely to support the GOP this year, 33% said it made them less likely to do so, and 33% said it didn’t make a difference to them either way. Romney’s lack of a convention bounce could simply be a product of his not being that good of a public speaker. 56% of North Carolina voters say Obama gives better speeches compared to 35% for Romney.
Although the Presidential race remains a toss up, Mitt Romney has seen some improvement in his image with North Carolinians over the last month. 47% rate him favorably now to 48% with an unfavorable opinion. That’s up a net 7 points from our last poll when he was at a -8 spread with 42% of voters rating him positively and 50% negatively. Obama’s approval rating has barely changed since early August in the state- 48% of voters think he’s doing a good job to 50% who disapprove of him. Romney and Obama are both slightly under water in their favorability/approval numbers.
Obama’s areas of strength are pretty predictable. He’s up 51-44 with women, 83-15 with non-white voters, and 50-45 with folks under 65. Romney is up 52-44 with men, 60-35 with white voters, and 58-39 with seniors. That wide generational gap is particularly telling- North Carolina might be a swing state for a long time moving forward. Romney’s overcoming the Democratic registration advantage in the state thanks to a 51-40 advantage with independents.
As we found in Florida the biggest stars of the Republican convention were Condoleezza Rice who has a 62/25 favorability rating and Ann Romney who comes in at 54/26. Rice is at 44/40 even with Democrats. Clint Eastwood’s speech didn’t go over well with North Carolina voters- 36% have a favorable opinion of it to 44% with a negative one. But his overall image is fine with 71% of voters giving him positive marks to 14% with an unfavorable opinion. He’s at 58/24 with Democrats.
Everyone who spoke in the primetime hour at the convention last week has positive favorability numbers in North Carolina except Mitt Romney. Beyond those already mentioned Marco Rubio comes in at a +17 spread (42/25), Susana Martinez at +16 (32/16), Chris Christie at +8 (41/33), and Paul Ryan at +4 (46/42).
Other notes from North Carolina:
-51% of voters think Romney should release 12 years of his tax returns, to 40% who think he should not.
-47% of voters oppose the Ryan Plan to 41% in support of it. Again though, given the huge advantage for the Romney/Ryan ticket with seniors I’m not sure that’s having much of an impact on the overall numbers.
Clint Eastwood delivered one of the most effective “speeches” in recent political history at the 2012 Republican National Convention. Of course, it wasn’t a real speech, but a devastatingly funny standup comedy routine. Although the delivery was a bit wobbly at first, it destroyed every rationale the average, non-ideological American voter could have for giving Barack Obama a second term in the White House.
On Sunday’s broadcast of Italian Tomatoes on Blog Talk Radio*, we take a structured look at this work of art and why it is so effective. And for proof positive, remember that today is ”National Empty Chair Day” !
* I feel particularly qualified to comment on Mr. Eastwood’s work. After all, he created the “Spaghetti Western”.
The video below asks and answers the question “What does Obama want with four more years?”
Asking and answering “what will he do with four more years?”
Conservatives everywhere are asking this question. The editors of The Economist wrote:
Mr Obama’s first-term record suggests that, if re-elected, he could be the lamest of ducks. That’s why he needs a good answer to the big question: just what would you do with another four years?
Artist Jon McNaughton is best known for his detailed political paintings in the French Barbizon style. This week he released Obamanation,” a painting and interactive web picture with 60 hallmark objects associated with the administration. Each symbol has a commentary and a link to a web source that verify the behavior McNaughton finds objectionable. About the president he writes
I challenge you to study the sixty symbols of this painting and the web links. If after doing so you continue to support Obama, congratulations. You are part of the OBAMANATION.
Political cartoonist Michael Ramirez offers this cartoon to demonstrate how “Four more years” might work for the president as a slogan.
And Mitt Romney himself confesses he wants to ask folks about those four more years.
Mitt Romney wants to ask why anyone would want four more years.
The common thread is that we conservatives don’t understand why anyone would choose to continue an administration that has produced such bad fruit. In the documentary “The Hope and The Change” produced by the Citizens United Foundation you will see the disturbing answer. Some Americans simply do not approach politics with reason. Instead they are influenced by the oratory, or the novelty, or the desperation for a change in their lives as typified by the woman at 0:35 in the clip below. Their votes count as much as yours and they approach the decision with an entirely different set of tools.
Scary answer: voters who do not approach the decision with reason.
Like all of humanity I flatter myself that my opinions are the ones that most closely align to reality. Reality to me should be informed by reason, not emotion. In the clip above you hear voters explain a decision they regret. To my ear, “reason” does not appear prominently in their explanations. Distasteful as it may be to me, emotion seems to play a big part.
I am tempted to think that the question is “What can be done about that?” but unfortunately I think the real question is “Is the problem with me or with them?” And if the problem is that I don’t respect my fellow Americans’ decision making, then that is good news because I have control over that.
Cross-Posted from BulletPeople