Friday, April 24, 2009

Gimme a break!

Your Rapier Editors Are Chillin' for Awhile

The Editors of The Rapier announce that they are on hiatus for awhile. With the economy in the tank and the President raising taxes on some of us, we've decided to pay a little closer attention to our paying work (actually we have simply found some other avocations and diversions but the work thing sounds better).

BUT our fine constantly updated sidebar content will continue to be there for you, with breaking news, quotes and insights every moment of the day, thanks to the small Thai children and cheap Punjab labor we use on the tech side of the blog.

Be back soon.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Why Let Facts Get in the Way?????

The Myth of 90 Percent: Only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S.
While 90 percent of the guns traced to the U.S. actually originated in the United States, the percent traced to the U.S. is only about 17 percent of the total number of guns reaching Mexico.

You've heard this shocking "fact" before -- on TV and radio, in newspapers, on the Internet and from the highest politicians in the land: 90 percent of the weapons used to commit crimes in Mexico come from the United States.

-- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it to reporters on a flight to Mexico City.

-- CBS newsman Bob Schieffer referred to it while interviewing President Obama.

-- California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said at a Senate hearing: "It is unacceptable to have 90 percent of the guns that are picked up in Mexico and used to shoot judges, police officers and mayors ... come from the United States."

-- William Hoover, assistant director for field operations at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified in the House of Representatives that "there is more than enough evidence to indicate that over 90 percent of the firearms that have either been recovered in, or interdicted in transport to Mexico, originated from various sources within the United States."

There's just one problem with the 90 percent "statistic" and it's a big one:

It's just not true.

In fact, it's not even close. By all accounts, it's probably around 17 percent.

What's true, an ATF spokeswoman told, in a clarification of the statistic used by her own agency's assistant director, "is that over 90 percent of the traced firearms originate from the U.S."

But a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S.

"Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market," Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told FOX News.

Video: Click here to watch more on where the guns come from.

A Look at the Numbers

In 2007-2008, according to ATF Special Agent William Newell, Mexico submitted 11,000 guns to the ATF for tracing. Close to 6,000 were successfully traced -- and of those, 90 percent -- 5,114 to be exact, according to testimony in Congress by William Hoover -- were found to have come from the U.S.

But in those same two years, according to the Mexican government, 29,000 guns were recovered at crime scenes.

In other words, 68 percent of the guns that were recovered were never submitted for tracing. And when you weed out the roughly 6,000 guns that could not be traced from the remaining 32 percent, it means 83 percent of the guns found at crime scenes in Mexico could not be traced to the U.S.

So, if not from the U.S., where do they come from? There are a variety of sources:

-- The Black Market. Mexico is a virtual arms bazaar, with fragmentation grenades from South Korea, AK-47s from China, and shoulder-fired rocket launchers from Spain, Israel and former Soviet bloc manufacturers.

-- Russian crime organizations. Interpol says Russian Mafia groups such as Poldolskaya and Moscow-based Solntsevskaya are actively trafficking drugs and arms in Mexico.

- South America. During the late 1990s, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) established a clandestine arms smuggling and drug trafficking partnership with the Tijuana cartel, according to the Federal Research Division report from the Library of Congress.

-- Asia. According to a 2006 Amnesty International Report, China has provided arms to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Chinese assault weapons and Korean explosives have been recovered in Mexico.

-- The Mexican Army. More than 150,000 soldiers deserted in the last six years, according to Mexican Congressman Robert Badillo. Many took their weapons with them, including the standard issue M-16 assault rifle made in Belgium.

-- Guatemala. U.S. intelligence agencies say traffickers move immigrants, stolen cars, guns and drugs, including most of America's cocaine, along the porous Mexican-Guatemalan border. On March 27, La Hora, a Guatemalan newspaper, reported that police seized 500 grenades and a load of AK-47s on the border. Police say the cache was transported by a Mexican drug cartel operating out of Ixcan, a border town.

'These Don't Come From El Paso'

Ed Head, a firearms instructor in Arizona who spent 24 years with the U.S. Border Patrol, recently displayed an array of weapons considered "assault rifles" that are similar to those recovered in Mexico, but are unavailable for sale in the U.S.

"These kinds of guns -- the auto versions of these guns -- they are not coming from El Paso," he said. "They are coming from other sources. They are brought in from Guatemala. They are brought in from places like China. They are being diverted from the military. But you don't get these guns from the U.S."

Some guns, he said, "are legitimately shipped to the government of Mexico, by Colt, for example, in the United States. They are approved by the U.S. government for use by the Mexican military service. The guns end up in Mexico that way -- the fully auto versions -- they are not smuggled in across the river."

Many of the fully automatic weapons that have been seized in Mexico cannot be found in the U.S., but they are not uncommon in the Third World.

The Mexican government said it has seized 2,239 grenades in the last two years -- but those grenades and the rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) are unavailable in U.S. gun shops. The ones used in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey in October and a TV station in January were made in South Korea. Almost 70 similar grenades were seized in February in the bottom of a truck entering Mexico from Guatemala.

"Most of these weapons are being smuggled from Central American countries or by sea, eluding U.S. and Mexican monitors who are focused on the smuggling of semi-automatic and conventional weapons purchased from dealers in the U.S. border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California," according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Boatloads of Weapons

So why would the Mexican drug cartels, which last year grossed between $17 billion and $38 billion, bother buying single-shot rifles, and force thousands of unknown "straw" buyers in the U.S. through a government background check, when they can buy boatloads of fully automatic M-16s and assault rifles from China, Israel or South Africa?

Alberto Islas, a security consultant who advises the Mexican government, says the drug cartels are using the Guatemalan border to move black market weapons. Some are left over from the Central American wars the United States helped fight; others, like the grenades and launchers, are South Korean, Israeli and Spanish. Some were legally supplied to the Mexican government; others were sold by corrupt military officers or officials.

The exaggeration of United States "responsibility" for the lawlessness in Mexico extends even beyond the "90-percent" falsehood -- and some Second Amendment activists believe it's designed to promote more restrictive gun-control laws in the U.S.

In a remarkable claim, Auturo Sarukhan, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S., said Mexico seizes 2,000 guns a day from the United States -- 730,000 a year. That's a far cry from the official statistic from the Mexican attorney general's office, which says Mexico seized 29,000 weapons in all of 2007 and 2008.

Chris Cox, spokesman for the National Rifle Association, blames the media and anti-gun politicians in the U.S. for misrepresenting where Mexican weapons come from.

"Reporter after politician after news anchor just disregards the truth on this," Cox said. "The numbers are intentionally used to weaken the Second Amendment."

"The predominant source of guns in Mexico is Central and South America. You also have Russian, Chinese and Israeli guns. It's estimated that over 100,000 soldiers deserted the army to work for the drug cartels, and that ignores all the police. How many of them took their weapons with them?"

But Tom Diaz, senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center, called the "90 percent" issue a red herring and said that it should not detract from the effort to stop gun trafficking into Mexico.

"Let's do what we can with what we know," he said. "We know that one hell of a lot of firearms come from the United States because our gun market is wide open."

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Huffington Post Provides a Break From Politics

Huffington Post has found the perfect distraction from Tim Geithner: a 43-year-old Cindy Crawford exlaining how to defy the aging process and wearing nothing but a stimulus plan.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Will the Military be Banned from the Pentagon Next?

The president is to receive the award from the federation of black community newspapers in a White House ceremony this afternoon.

The Obama White House has closed the press award ceremony to the press.

We are not making this up:

Barack Obama was elected commander in chief promising to run the most transparent presidential administration in American history.

This achievement and the overall promise of his historic administration caused the National Newspaper Publishers Assn. to name him "Newsmaker of the Year."

From the president's official schedule:

"Later in the afternoon, the President and the First Lady will attend a reception with the National Newspaper Publisher Association in the State Dining Room, where they will be presented the Newsmaker of the Year award. This event is closed press."

Maybe they'll let the newspaper people pass the award through the fence.

-- Andrew Malcolm
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Simple Jack Vs. Barak Obama

Obama Apologizes to Special Olympics for Bowling Joke
President Obama called the chairman of the Special Olympics, Tim Shriver, to say he was sorry for an offhand remark on the "The Tonight Show."

Bowling just isn't President Obama's game.

Appearing on "The Tonight Show," the president told host Jay Leno he'd been practicing at the White House's bowling alley but wasn't happy with his score of 129. The he rolled a gutter ball by quipping: "It was like the Special Olympics or something."

The audience laughed, but the White House quickly recognized the blunder.

On his way back to Washington on Air Force One, Obama called the chairman of the Special Olympics, Tim Shriver, to say he was sorry -- even before the taped program aired late Thursday night.

"He expressed his disappointed and he apologized in a way that was very moving. He expressed that he did not intend to humiliate this population," Shriver said Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America." Obama, Shriver said, wants to have some Special Olympic athletes visit the White House to bowl or play basketball.

Still, Shriver said, "I think it's important to see that words hurt and words do matter. And these words that in some respect can be seem as humiliating or a put down to people with special needs do cause pain and they do result in stereotypes."

Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters traveling with Obama that the president's offhand remark was not meant to disparage the Special Olympics, only to poke some fun at the commander-in-chief's bowling skills.

"He thinks that the Special Olympics are a wonderful program that gives an opportunity to shine to people with disabilities from around the world," Burton said.

Despite making fun of his score, the president appears to be getting better the more he visits the White House lanes, which President Truman installed in 1947. During a campaign photo op a year ago at a bowling alley in Altoona, Pa., he rolled only a 37 in seven frames. The clip of the disastrous game was replayed on late night television shows such as Leno's -- one of Obama's few campaign gaffes.
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Those Who Forget History Are Doomed to Repeat It

Iranian Leaders Ignore Obama's Outstretched Hand
Iran's supreme leader snubs President Obama in response to a warm video issued by the White House seeking a "new beginning" with Iran.

Iran's supreme leader said Friday that world powers had been persuaded they could not block Iran's nuclear progress -- making no mention of a warm new-year's message sent by President Obama to his country, Reuters reported.

Neither Ayatollah Ali Khamenei nor Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad noted Obama's attempt to make a "new beginning" with their country in recorded messages they issued to mark the Iranian New Year.

Obama released his video Friday to coincide with the Iranian festival of Nowruz, which marks the arrival of spring. In the video, Obama said the U.S. is prepared to end the strained relations if Tehran tones down its combative rhetoric.

"This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect," Obama said.

A press adviser to Iran's president downplayed the video, saying "minor changes will not end the differences."

Ali Akbar Javanfekr told the Iranian state-run English-language Press TV satellite station that Iran will never forget U.S. meddling in Tehran's affairs. The two countries broke off relations after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

He Certainly Is A Joke

Obama Does 'Tonight Show,' But Can He Strike the Right Tone?
President Obama will appear Thursday on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" -- the first such appearance of any sitting president.

Timing is everything in comedy -- but is President Obama missing his cue with a late-night TV appearance in the middle of an economic crisis?

Obama, who is in California for a set of town hall meetings, will appear Thursday on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

Though late-night shows are a staple nowadays for any political candidate, traditionally they've been avoided by anyone in the Oval Office. The Leno visit will mark the first such appearance of any sitting president.

And with the markets still well below their highs and the sudden firestorm over bonus pay at AIG, critics suggest Obama might be showing a little tone-deafness by heading to Hollywood.

"It's not an accident that no sitting president has ever done a show like this," media analyst Steve Adubato told FOX News.

Adubato noted the difficulty any commander-in-chief would have balancing levity and sobriety in that Los Angeles setting at a time of crisis.

"He could pull it off. ... I'm not convinced this was the smartest move," he said.

Leno's not the only sticking point. After the president released his NCAA tournament picks, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski wondered aloud why Obama was spending time on brackets when more pressing matters are at hand.

"As much as I respect what he's doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets," Krzyzewski said. (Obama picked Duke rival North Carolina to win the NCAA Championship.)

Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein said Obama, as he did during the campaign, is just trying to connect with as many Americans as possible -- and using every platform available, be it "The View," the Sunday morning talk shows or Leno. He saw no tonal problems with a guest appearance on late night.

"I think he's trying to project an air of normalcy and reassure people that they're working hard, at the same time that this is not a time for panic," Gerstein said. "As long as he doesn't do something that's jarringly discordant on 'The Tonight Show,' it's going to be fine."

Dan Amundson, research director at the Center for Media and Public Affairs, said Obama might just be squeezing in an appearance before Leno leaves the show later this year -- but he said the show could play in his favor as he tries to sell his economic agenda.

Obama embarked on a similar public campaign, on the stump and in the media, last month when he was trying to build support for his economic stimulus plan.

"Part of me says it's great a president is using every avenue to talk to everybody he can," Amundson said. "On the other hand there is always the potential of losing political gravitas and stature."

He said that dilemma dates back, at least, to Bill Clinton playing the sax on "The Arsenio Hall Show" during the 1992 presidential campaign.

Though the Arsenio appearance was seen as a plus for Clinton, former President George W. Bush got caught in a jocular jam in 2004 when, at a media dinner, he cracked jokes about not being able to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Too far, critics said.

Mary Kate Cary, a speechwriter for former President George H.W. Bush, wrote in a U.S. News & World Report column that Obama's Leno appearance could be damaging.

"There's a reason presidents don't do comedy on television, especially in tough times," she wrote. "Doing Jay Leno lessens the stature of the office, and diminishes the man. On Leno, he becomes just one more talk show guest."

With outcry building over revelations that bailed-out AIG was distributing $165 million in bonuses, Obama has tried to assure the public he still appreciates the somber mood of the country.

"I know a lot of you are outraged about this. Rightfully so. I'm outraged, too," he told the crowd Wednesday at a town hall meeting in Costa Mesa, Calif.. "Listen, I'll take responsibility. I'm the president."

No one at the town hall meeting asked Obama a question about AIG, and the White House said the questions are not pre-screened. But the AIG flap apparently is on the minds of most Americans: A Rasmussen Reports poll shows most Americans are following the controversy, and 76 percent of Americans want the employees who received bonuses to give them back.'s Judson Berger and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Run Timmy Run

Rep. Mack Calls for Geithner to Resign or Be Fired Over AIG Bonuses
The Florida Republican becomes the first lawmaker on Capitol Hill to call for the treasury secretary's ouster.

Florida Republican Rep. Connie Mack called for Treasury Sec. Tim Geithner to lose his job Wednesday, becoming the first Capitol Hill lawmakers to call for his ouster over AIG's using tens of millions of taxpayer dollars for executive bonuses.

"Quite simply, the Timothy Geithner experience has been a disaster. The Treasury Department is in disarray. Taxpayer dollars are being wasted. America's economy hangs in the balance. America needs and deserves a treasury secretary who can truly lead us forward," Mack said in a written statement.

He called on Geithner, the former New York Federal Reserve chief, either to resign or be fired, and said President Obama should nominate a new secretary with "the experience and leadership skills America deserves."

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that Obama has "complete confidence" in Geithner, as lawmakers began to question why the Treasury Department didn't do more to prevent American International Group from paying $165 million in bonuses even after receiving more than $170 billion in federal bailout money.

Though the administration claims Geithner found out about the bonuses only last Tuesday, Mack suggested he was more involved.

"Before Timothy Geithner became secretary of the Treasury, he was working hand-in-hand with AIG and other financial institutions to provide them hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money as one of the key architects of the financial sector bailout," he said. "I've had serious concerns about Secretary Geithner from the moment he was nominated. In the months since, he has shown us time and again why he was the wrong choice for this critical post."

Geithner faced criticism during his nomination over personal tax problems but ultimately won confirmation.
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CHANGE! We can believe in: Hey, hijackers! Come on, fly the friendly skies!

Obama: No More Firearms Training for Commercial Airline Pilots

After the September 11 attacks, commercial airline pilots were allowed to carry guns if they completed a federal-safety program. No longer would unarmed pilots be defenseless as remorseless hijackers seized control of aircraft and rammed them into buildings.

NOW, however, President Obama is -- very very quietly -- ending the federal firearms program. The Washington Times says this is risking public safety on airlines in the name of an anti-gun ideology.

The Obama administration this past week diverted some $2 million from the pilot firearms training program to hire more "supervisory" staff, who will engage in field inspections of pilots.

Read more here about Mr. Obama's efforts to preserve, PROTECT, and defend the Constitution -- and us.


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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Economists Grade Obama: A Solid "F"

Wall Street Journal's Phil Izzo reports on a Journal survey of economists, asking them to grade the president's handling of the economy.

Obama's score: 59.

Timothy Geithner's score: 51.

A sampling of opinion: "The Obama team has blown it," said David Resler of Nomura Securities.

It's the banking industry, stupid.

"The most important issue in the short run is the financial rescue," said Stephen Stanley of RBS Greenwich Capital. "They overpromised and underdelivered. Secretary Geithner scheduled a big speech and came out with just a vague blueprint. The uncertainty is hanging over everyone's head."
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Another One Bites The Dust

Intelligence Pick Withdraws Name Amid Controversy
National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair announced former Ambassador Chas Freeman's decision in a statement Tuesday.

Chas Freeman, the former ambassador appointed to be the military's top intelligence analyst, has withdrawn his name following complaints from Democratic and Republican lawmakers who said he was too entangled in foreign affairs to handle the job.

National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair, who originally appointed Freeman to the post of National Intelligence Council chairman, announced the move in a statement Tuesday.

"Charles W. Freeman Jr. has requested that his selection to be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council not proceed. Director Blair accepted Ambassador Freeman's decision with regret," the statement said.

The announcement came just hours after Blair defended Freeman before a Senate committee.

But Freeman had become a political lightning rod since he was tapped two weeks ago for the post.

Lawmakers had objected to several controversial statements Freeman has made about Israel and Iraq. And they said the former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia was too close to that country, as well as to China.

Following those complaints, the inspector general for the director of national intelligence agreed last week to examine Freeman's foreign ties. At the time, Blair said the inquiry would put to rest any questions about Freeman.

But a number of top lawmakers, most of them Republicans, suggested Freeman's conflicts could be disqualifying.

Among their concerns were:

-- Freeman's role as president of the Middle East Policy Council, a think tank they say received funding from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Fuad A. Rihani, a consultant for the bin Ladin family's Saudi BinLadin Group, also sits on the group's board of directors -- another trouble spot for Freeman's critics. And they complained the council did not disclose its donors.

-- Freeman's role on a board for the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation, owned by China, and that company's reportedly $16 billion agreement with Iran to develop a gas field in the Middle Eastern country.

The controversy surrounding Freeman heated up last week when Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra, ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said he wanted Freeman to withdraw his name. That was after he wrote to Blair on Monday expressing his doubt that Freeman could restore credibility to the national intelligence estimates, or NIEs, the intelligence reports Freeman would be involved in producing.

"I am ... deeply concerned that an individual who reportedly holds radical and extreme views would be chosen to oversee NIEs, the IC's most comprehensive and authoritative intelligence assessments," Hoekstra wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by

As NIC chairman, Freeman would have been responsible for drawing from assessments from all 16 intelligence agencies and formulating mid-and-long-term strategic intelligence plans.

More than a dozen lawmakers had already called for an investigation by the time Blair's inspector general, Edward Maguire, decided to launch one. Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, N.Y., first urged Maguire to launch a probe in a letter Saturday.

Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Israel also asked Maguire to look into Freeman's work with the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation and its deal with Iran.

Blair argued that Freeman's rich background would make him an asset to the intelligence community and other foreign policy analysts had dismissed the criticism of him as a smear campaign.

Freeman has a formidable resume of foreign policy positions that include U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia under George H.W. Bush and assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs -- a position that earned him public service awards for his role in creating a NATO-centered post-Cold War European security system. Freeman also served as Richard Nixon's chief translator in China in 1972.

Blair's office said he did not seek White House approval for the appointment, which did not require Senate approval.

But statements the former ambassador made over the last three decades on U.S. peace efforts in the Middle East and Iran's threat to the international community had also prompted some to question his objectivity in a role that requires it.

In a speech to the Pacific Council on International Policy in October 2007, Freeman said the U.S. has "abandoned the role of Middle East peacemaker to back Israel's efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations."

"We wring our hands while sitting on them as the Jewish state continues to seize ever more Arab land for its colonists," he said.

In reference to the Iraq war, Freeman said, "Now the United States has brought the Palestinian experience -- of humiliation, dislocation, and death -- to millions more in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"By invading Iraq, we transformed an intervention in Afghanistan most Muslims had supported into what looks to them like a wider war against Islam. We destroyed the Iraqi state and catalyzed anarchy, sectarian violence, terrorism and civil war in that country."

Also, The Weekly Standard recently posted a 2006 e-mail from Freeman to a listserv in which he said the Chinese government was "overly cautious" in its effort to "intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud" during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

FOX News' James Rosen contributed to this report.
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Chicken in Every Pot and a Jet for Every Deomocrat

Pelosi Made Repeated Requests for Military Aircraft, Documents Show
Representatives for Judicial Watch, which obtained e-mails and other documents showing the requests, say House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has treated the Air Force as her "personal airline."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly requested military aircraft to shuttle her and her colleagues and family around the country, according to a new report from a conservative watchdog group.

Representatives for Judicial Watch, which obtained e-mails and other documents from a Freedom of Information request, said the correspondence shows Pelosi has abused the system in place to accommodate congressional leaders and treated the Air Force as her "personal airline."

Pelosi's office disputed the claim, pointing to White House policy enacted after the Sept. 11 attacks allowing for the House speaker to travel to his or her congressional district via military aircraft whenever possible for security reasons. Her office said she typically uses the same kind of aircraft used by her predecessor, Dennis Hastert.

But Judicial Watch said that Pelosi was notorious for making special demands for high-end aircraft, lodging last-minute cancellations and racking up additional expenses for the military.

The e-mails showed repeated attempts by Pelosi aides to request aircraft, sometimes aggressively, and by Department of Defense officials to accommodate them.

"I think that's above and beyond what other members of Congress are doing and what is expected of our elected officials," said Jenny Small, a researcher with the group.

In one e-mail, aide Kay King complained to the military that they had not made available any aircraft the House speaker wanted for Memorial Day recess.

"It is my understanding there are NO G5s available for the House during the Memorial Day recess. This is totally unacceptable ... The Speaker will want to know where the planes are," King wrote.

In another, when told a certain type of aircraft would not be available, King wrote: "This is not good news, and we will have some very disappointed folks, as well as a very upset Speaker."

Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said the report seemed to be based on only "a few e-mails," and defended the requests for military aircraft for her colleagues as a "function of the speaker's office." Elshami said at least one of the requests in the above e-mails referenced requests made for other members.

Pelosi's office noted that the Department of Defense ultimately makes all decisions on use of military aircraft for travel, and that Pelosi is "extraordinarily appreciative" of the department's effort to accommodate Congress.

Click here to read the full report from Judicial Watch.

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Broken Campaign Promises Meets Bad Economics

Senate Passes $410B Spending Bill

WASHINGTON--The Democratic-controlled U.S. Congress on Tuesday approved a $410 billion bill to fund most of the government through September 30, sending it to President Barack Obama despite Republican objections to the price tag.

After a contentious fight the Senate, by voice vote, approved the bill which funds the departments of transportation and agriculture, among others. It also begins to roll back strict limits on travel and trade with Cuba -- a move Obama supports.

"It takes care of these government agencies that have been, over the Bush years, so underfunded," said Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, referring to President George W. Bush's administration.

Many Republicans fought the measure because it raised government spending by 8% above fiscal 2008 levels. They said it added more money to programs already funded by the $787 billion economic stimulus package approved last month.

The debate, at times full of bitter partisan rancor over the U.S. embargo on Cuba and abortion, foreshadows even bigger fights over Obama's $3.55 trillion 2010 budget and overhauling healthcare, which Congress will turn to in the coming weeks.

Senators from both parties objected to billions of dollars for lawmakers' pet projects, but rejected several attempts to freeze the spending at last year's levels and strip out so-called earmarks.

"The bill costs far too much for a government that should be watching every dime," said Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who called the legislation a "missed opportunity" to restrain spending amid a deep recession.

Republicans were able to slow the legislation down and get more amendments considered, but none were adopted. Amendments also rejected include ending automatic pay raises for lawmakers and scrapping language that Republicans said would end a Washington, D.C. school voucher program.

The extra debate gave the Obama administration time to address concerns by two senators about the Cuba provisions. Two Democrats, Senators Bill Nelson of Florida and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, were against the bill until the administration offered their views about the provisions.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wrote to the senators saying that the provisions about doing business with Cuba would not amount to a major reversal of the decades-old U.S. policy of isolating the communist-run island.
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Friday, March 6, 2009

Two Americas! The One He Acknowledges and the One He Hides...

Edwards Admits: I'm the Baby Daddy...
Editor's Note: Normally, The Rapier would not stoop so low as to cite to the National Enquirer. However, this is John Edwards, so naturally we make an exception...

Very legitimate journalist Alan Colmes is quoting very illegitimate* journalists The National Enquirer in saying that former senator and vice presidential candidate and solver-of-all-things-poverty John John Edwards has admitted to his wife, the long suffering Elizabeth, that he is the father of Rielle Hunter’s baby. The Edwards confession is supposedly an attempt to stop the mother of the child from going public.

*Oops - we couldn't resist...

Colmes has this important national story here.


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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Santelli Rant Draws Jon Stewart Riff

Mark Siliva of The Chicago Tribune showcases what has become an entertaining back-and-forth, with Rick Santelli's CNBC rant met head-on by Jon Stewart.

Stewart's roll call of previous CNBC forecasts is priceless.
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