From Volume 37, Issue 29 of EIR Online, Published July 30, 2010

United States News Digest

GOP Senate Resolution Calls Berwick Appointment 'Abuse of Power'

July 23 (EIRNS)—Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) has introduced a "Sense of the Senate" resolution which calls for the Senate to declare President Obama's recess appointment of Donald Berwick to head the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an "abuse of power." The resolution states:

"It is the sense of the Senate that—

"(1) the recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick, while consideration of his nomination to serve as Administrator of CMS was proceeding normally through the Senate Finance Committee nomination review process, constitutes an abuse of power by the President; and

"(2) notwithstanding his recess appointment to that position, Dr. Donald Berwick should appear before the Senate Finance Committee and respond to questions by members about his qualifications to serve as Administrator of CMS."

Roberts' resolution also points out that "A thorough review is especially needed for Dr. Berwick's appointment in light of statements he has made in the past about health care rationing as well as the role of government in health care." It puts this in the context of the Obama health bill mandating half a trillion dollars of cuts in Medicare.

The Washington Post today calls for hearings on Berwick. In an editorial, the Post mocks Obama's statement that "I can't play political games on these issues. I've got a government to run," noting that "Mr. Obama's hurry would have been more understandable had he not waited for more than a year to select an administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services."

Republicans Challenge DoJ Ruling on New Black Panther Party

July 25 (EIRNS)—Republicans on the Senate and House Judiciary Committees have called for an investigation into allegations that the Justice Department wrongly abandoned a case against the New Black Panther Party, and has adopted a policy of ignoring voting rights violations against white victims. Senate Republicans sent a letter July 23 to committee chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), requesting a hearing, and House Republicans wrote to President Obama on July 22 asking him to direct Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to conduct an investigation.

The requests come as the bipartisan and independent U.S. Commission on Civil Rights continues its year-long investigation of the allegations. Earlier this month, the commission, which has a conservative majority, called on the Justice Department to investigate its civil rights division after a former employee, J. Christian Adams, testified that supervisors in the division instructed attorneys to ignore voting rights cases that involved black defendants and white victims.

In 2008, two members of the New Black Panther Party were caught on video in front of a polling place in Philadelphia, dressed in military-style uniforms, and allegedly hurling racial slurs, while one brandished a night stick.

The Bush Justice Department prosecuted three members of the group, accusing them, in a civil complaint, of violating the Voter Rights Act. The Obama Administration won a default judgment in Federal Court in April 2009, when the defendants failed to appear in court. But then the Administration moved to dismiss the case the following month, after getting an injunction against the nightstick-wielding Panther to stay away from any polling place in Philadelphia, until 2012.

In the letter to Leahy, GOP lawmakers wrote: "If these alarming allegations are true, the Civil Rights Division is actively engaged in widespread politicization and possible corruption. It is imperative that you schedule a hearing immediately so we can determine the validity of these claims and whether DOJ, as Mr. Adams testified, 'abetted wrongdoers and abandoned law-abiding citizens.'"

In their letter to the President, House Republicans said the Justice Department's "continued refusal to give any legitimate reason for the dismissal has only increased suspicions that race and politics played a role in the decision. Recent allegations from a former Civil Rights Division attorney confirm our concerns that the Justice Department has adopted a policy of race-based non-enforcement of federal voting rights law. If these allegations are true, it means that the Justice Department has become politicized and only an independent entity can effectively investigate this matter."

Obama Approved Release of Lockerbie Bomber

July 25 (EIRNS)—According to The Australian, the London Sunday Times has obtained correspondence which reveals that the Obama Administration secretly advised Scottish ministers that the U.S. wanted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi to remain imprisoned, but considered that, "Nevertheless, if Scottish authorities come to the conclusion that Megrahi must be released from Scottish custody, the US position is that conditional release on compassionate grounds would be a far preferable alternative to prisoner transfer, which we strongly oppose." The letter added that freeing the bomber and making him live in Scotland "would mitigate a number of the strong concerns we have expressed with regard to Megrahi's release."

The letter was written by Richard LeBaron, deputy head of the U.S. Embassy in London, on Aug. 12, 2009, to Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and justice officials.

The U.S. Administration tried to keep the letter secret, refusing to give permission to Scottish authorities to publish it on the grounds it would prevent future "frank and open communications" with other governments.

Last week, President Obama claimed that all Americans were "surprised, disappointed and angry" to learn of Megrahi's release.

Megrahi's release was part of a deal to secure oil rights for BP in Libya.

Congress Is Less Popular than Murderous HMOs

July 22 (EIRNS)—Gallup's 2010 Confidence in Institutions poll, conducted July 8-11, finds Congress ranking dead last out of the 16 institutions rated this year. Only 11% of Americans say they have a great deal, or quite a lot of confidence in Congress, down from 17% in 2009 and a percentage point lower than the previous low for Congress, recorded in 2008.

Half of Americans now say they have "very little" or no confidence in Congress, up from 38% in 2009—and the highest for any institution since Gallup first asked this question in 1973. Previous near-50% readings include 48% found for the presidency in 2008, and 49% for the criminal justice system in 1994.

This year's poll also finds a 15-point drop in high confidence in the Presidency, to 36% from 51% in June 2009. Over the same period, President Barack Obama's approval rating fell by 11 points, from 58% to 47%

Even HMOs rate higher than Congress, with 19% of those polled expressing confidence in them.

Feinberg on Tour To Insult the Desperate, Protect BP

July 19 (EIRNS)—Kenneth R. Feinberg, Obama's appointee as manager of BP's $20 billion compensation fund—billed as relief for oil spill victims, is working overtime to protect BP, its money, and the British monarchy. Feinberg went on a blitz town hall tour of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama over the weekend, capped by a speech to the Washington, D.C. Economic Club this morning—all during which, he demonstrated whom he is working for.

To begin with, any resident who wants compensation for losses, has to sign a waiver that he or she will not sue BP.

Then comes the fine print: If you happen to be doing work in any way for the BP/Unified Command oil clean-up, your wages for this will be deducted from any compensation you receive. At the Feinberg town meetings, angry fishermen and others confronted him, in a mood of mass-strike anger seen in the August 2009 Congressional home districts. Feinberg sneered in response. For example, one fisherman said that this season had been shaping up to be very good for him, but he is now losing everything. Feinberg snapped back, that claims like that are "speculative," and he will not honor "speculative" claims, only, those with "documentation."

At Lafitte Civic Center in Louisiana, a woman held up a sheaf of receipts, saying that this was going to be a "better year" for her than the last two years, so reimbursement should be higher. The press reported on Feinberg's disparaging retort, "Don't give it to me now."

Today in Washington, Feinberg brushed off any criticism of his brusque behavior: "If you're not willing to go into the lion's den and confront the emotion and hurt, you shouldn't do it." When asked by reporters, what his salary is from BP, he replied, "That's something between me and BP." Feinberg travelled to the Gulf on a private BP Lear jet. While on tour, he told AP, "It's a campaign. It's a roadshow. It's a seminar."

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