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While no one expects the eloquence of Abraham Lincoln to issue from Barack Obama’s lips, the President’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving 2014 lacks not only Lincoln’s style, but unfortunately even a basic understanding of what America’s greatest feast is all about.
When Abraham Lincoln solemnly proclaimed the Thanksgiving holiday in 1863, during the bitter heat of the American Civil War, he consciously instituted a God-centered feast. He invited a divided America in the midst of acute hardship to count its blessings and to acknowledge the goodness of Almighty God, rendering Him the gratitude that was due.
Lincoln saw that “we are prone to forget the source” from which our blessings flow, and to remedy that, he enumerates the bounty that has been poured out over America by our Maker. These gifts of God are so great, Lincoln reasons, that they “cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”
And his conclusion is that “no human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”
And so President Lincoln invited all Americans, even those at sea or sojourning in foreign lands, “to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
The humility and sincere religious faith of the 16th president is nowhere in evidence in this year’s Thanksgiving proclamation. It isn’t irreverent, or course, or lacking in niceties about blessings and community and shelters and soup kitchens. It is, however, lacking in any mention of God’s providence and gifts, except a single nod to us carrying forward the legacy of our forebears “with God’s grace.” Yes, if you blinked you will have missed the sole reference to God in the proclamation of a feast supposedly instituted to give Him thanks.
This is not a momentary lapse, but a constant in the President’s Thanksgiving proclamations, as Breitbart has noted in other years. Obama’s 2009 statement made history by being the first Thanksgiving proclamation ever to omit any reference to God whatsoever. Reading back over Obama’s Thanksgiving proclamations, Chuck Norris felt obliged to admit that “for five years, the president has flunked Thanksgiving Day remembrance and proclamation.
And so we are invited to reflect on our blessings and gather with family and friends in a spirit of gratitude, and yet as we do so we realize, as Abraham Lincoln so wisely noted, that “we are prone to forget the source” from which our blessings flow.
MISTAKEN CONCEPTIONS CONCERNING "WAITING FOR THE SPIRIT"
(2) Mistaken conceptions concerning "waiting for the Spirit"
to descend. Here again we find expressions and theories
misleading, and opening the door to Satanic deceptions.
"If we want a Pentecostal manifestation of the Spirit, we
must 'tarry' as did the disciples before Pentecost," we have
said the one to the other, and we have seized upon the text
in Luke 24: 49, and Acts 1: 4, and passed the word along.
"Yes, we must 'tarry,'" until, compelled by the inroads of the
adversary in "waiting meetings," we have had to search the
Scriptures once more, to discover that the Old Testament
word of "wait on the Lord" so often used in the Psalms, has
been strained beyond the New Testament proportion of truth,
and exaggerated into a "waiting on God" for the outpouring
of the Spirit, which has even gone beyond the "ten days"
which preceded Pentecost, into four months, and even four
years, and which, to our knowledge, has ended in an influx
of deceiving spirits which has rudely awakened some of the
waiting souls. The Scriptural truth concerning waiting for the
Spirit" may be summed up as follows:
The disciples waited ten days, but we have no indication
that they "waited" in any passive state, but rather in simple
prayer, and supplication, until the fulness of time had come
for the fulfillment of the promise of the Father.
The command to wait, given by the Lord (Acts 1: 4) was not
carried forward into the Christian dispensation after the Holy
Ghost had come, for in no single instance, either in the Acts
or in the Epistles, do the Apostles bid the disciples "tarry" for
the gift of the Holy Spirit, but they use the word "receive" in
every instance (Acts 19: 2).
It is true that at this time the Church is, as a whole, living
experimentally on the wrong side of Pentecost, but in dealing
with God individually for the reception of the Holy Spirit, this
does not put the seekers back to the position of the disciples
before the Holy Ghost had been given by the Ascended Lord.
The Risen Lord poured forth the stream of the Spirit again and
again after the day of Pentecost, but in each instance it was
without "tarrying" as the disciples did at the first (see Acts. 4:31).
The Holy Spirit, Who proceeds from the Father through the Son
to His people, is now among them, waiting to give Himself
unceasingly to all who will appropriate, and receive Him
(John 15: 26 ; Acts 2: 33, 38, 39). A " waiting for the Spirit"
therefore is not in accord with the general tenor of the truth
given in the Acts and the Epistles, which show rather the
imperative call to the believer to put in his claim, not only to
his identification with the Lord Jesus in His death, and union
in life with Him in His resurrection, but also to the enduement
for witnessing, which came to the disciples on the Day of
On the believer's side, we may say, however, that there is a
waiting for God, whilst the Holy Spirit deals with, and prepares,
the one who has put in his claim, until he is in the right attitude
for the influx of the Holy Spirit into his spirit, but this is different
from the "waiting for Him to come," which has opened the door
so frequently to Satanic manifestations from the unseen world.
The Lord does take the believer at his word when he puts in his
claim for his share of the Pentecostal gift, but the "manifestation
of the Spirit"--the evidence of His indwelling and outworking--
may not be according to any pre-conceptions of the seeker.
War on the Saints by Jessie Penn-Lewis
Tomorrow: Why Waiting Meetings Are Profitable to Evil Spirits
(Tea Party) – It is the belief of the Tea Party that legislation ratified by Congress and signed into law has been nullified by executive order of President Obama. But does Obama have the authority to nullify any law?
Sharp criticism has followed President Obama’s seeming creation of new law, but few are discussing how existing law has been trampled underfoot. The Obama amnesty was a blow to the good working citizens of the United States, the legal immigrants who been patiently waited in line, and to the Constitution.
Critics and constitutionalists have declared President Obama’s amnesty action has reached far beyond the Constitution and the executive branch of government. Proponents of amnesty have cited that several presidents have created law in the past, while critics argue the president does not have the power to create law and surely not the power to nullify law.
SPECIAL: Make Barack Hussein Obama pay for his crimes against America. How much are you willing to take before you stand up and do something? This is your opportunity to be a true Patriot. Support the Tea Party Constitution Fund.
However, the Tea Party Research Team and the Tea Party attorney staff have discovered what they believe is a silver bullet against the so called new law giver’s amnesty.
While the authority of the president to take executive amnesty action is in question, the underlying concern is the contradiction of existing legislation passed by Congress and ratified by previous presidents. The actions of President Obama did indeed nullify large portions of immigration law, thereby setting immigration law on its head and cutting the heart out of the immigration process.
Can the President of the United States have the authority to nullify any law, and if so, what will be the next target for nullification? What else is on the chopping block? Is it the Second Amendment, our freedom of speech, or perhaps the government’s right to coin money or to raise and maintain a military?
Can the Chief Executive possess a power so great that he can nullify any law by simply stating something contrary and then demand enforcement of the new law by standing down of the existing law?
“We are creating a Tea Party Legal Task Force to explore the standing and the legal ramifications of a lawsuit against President Obama and his attempt to nullify existing immigration law. Does the President possess the authority to nullify existing law? The Tea Party Legal Task Force believes the answer is a resounding NO, thereby making Obama’s amnesty null and void.” Steve Eichler CEO Tea Party/Tea Party.org
Furthermore, the theory of nullification has never been legally upheld by federal courts. State nullification is where a state attempts to nullify a federal law by overriding it, however in this case, can a U.S. President override federal law? The Tea Party clearly says: NO YOU CAN’T.
There are many cases on point regarding states attempting to nullify federal law, but has the groundwork been laid for the United States versus Barack Hussein Obama?
By creating new law, Obama has nullified existing law and therefore caused damages to legal immigrants who are protected by existing immigration law. Who will pay for their damages?
The destructive path of broken dreams and honest hardship experienced by legal immigrants leads directly to the White House. The Tea Party will not stand idly by and watch legal immigrants cast aside by a rogue president and a horde of illegal aliens.
StevePostDSteve Eichler J.D.
“America’s Legal Analyst” is the CEO of Tea Party, Inc. and serves on the board of several prominent Tea Party organizations and is a lifetime Minuteman. Graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science Degree. Graduated from American Schools – Studies in Real Estate, Insurance, Financial Services. Graduated from Trinity Law School with a Juris Doctorate in Law. Continued Studies in International Law beyond the Doctorate Degree. Member of the International Bar Association. Author of the book: From Rages To Royalty and Last Chance For Liberty.
Nine months ago, the new Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, received a request from the White House. President Obama wanted him to personally take on perhaps the administration’s toughest political assignment: looking for creative ways to fix America’s immigration system without congressional action—or executive overreach.
Just four months into the job, Johnson had been prepared to take on tough security issues: Bombs on planes. Deadly diseases. Radical Islamists carrying U.S. passports. As the Pentagon’s chief counsel, Johnson had routinely dealt with contentious national security matters, finding himself in the midst of sensitive political fights like whether and how to close Guantanamo Bay, allowing gays in the military, and the rapid expansion of America’s killer drone program.
He wasn’t prepared for a crisis of purely political making.
Just days earlier Obama had been labeled the “deporter in chief” by a top Hispanic leader and ally, furious over the inaction by a president who seemed trapped between the demands of his supporters to allow millions of long-time residents who lacked documentation to stay in the country, and the seemingly endless foot-dragging of Republicans.
That request to Johnson would prove critical: a moment when the president set on the path of a much more ambitious change than the narrow changes in civil enforcement policy he and his aides had initially explored. In the remaining months of 2014, Obama would come to support a sweeping executive action to allow millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the country, as Congress lurched from willingness to consider changes to strained immigration laws to refusing to tackle the issue at all. Meanwhile, interest groups from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to the Business Roundtable, from K Street’s shrewdest lobbyists to the most hard-nosed union bosses, intervened to try to shape the direction of the order.
At several key points, Obama wavered under pressure from members of his own party, worried about an electoral collapse that happened anyway when the votes were counted in the midterm elections earlier this month. Throughout, Johnson worked, largely in secret on the grand plan that finally became public this week, convening a small group of former Capitol Hill aides with expertise on immigration to work with Homeland Security officials to draft a policy that all expected would provoke not only fierce opposition from conservatives but from liberals who thought Obama should go further. It was a consuming task: in all, sources said, the immigration issue ate up fully half of the Homeland Security secretary’s time in recent months, with Johnson —a high-powered corporate attorney in his previous life — writing the final presidential memorandum himself.
By the time Obama went before the American people to unveil his plan in an Oval Office speech to the nation Thursday night, the White House and DHS had exchanged dozens of drafts and endured months of starts and stops, punctuated by a sharp electoral defeat for their fellow Democrats. Still, they went forward, with the president finally telling aides of his decision in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Monday night.
Johnson, for his part, seemed anxious to be done with a journey he portrayed as a political lesson.
“I was new to immigration law and policy…when I came into this job,” Johnson said this week. “Before that it was law of armed conflict, national security fiscal law. I’ve been disheartened and disappointed with how volatile the issue has become in American politics. I hope that people will look at immigration reform from a common sense point of view, what makes common sense, what’s practical, what’s pragmatic.”
Summer of miscalculations
Three months after Obama’s first overture to Jeh Johnson, Republicans had not given up on the idea of an immigration plan of their own. At least, some argued, there was a political opening to forestall any independent action by the president. June 12 was the day that Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) planned to unveil to House leaders an immigration bill that, he was convinced, many Republicans could get behind.
For more than a year since Obama’s re-election, in which Hispanic voters had turned out in unprecedented numbers to vote against a Republican nominee who came out hard against undocumented immigrants (Mitt Romney even memorably called on them to “self-deport”), Republicans had flirted with — and invariably backed away from — proposals for comprehensive immigration reform. Any bill that could be seen as granting legal status to people who entered or stayed in the country illegally was a non-starter for many conservatives. Senate Republicans like John McCain and Marco Rubio had eventually, carefully, stuck out their necks just far enough to get a comprehensive reform bill through the Democratic-controlled Senate. But the Republican-controlled House was another matter. GOP leaders saw the need for some sort of action, but rank-and-file conservatives were deeply skeptical or outright opposed.
Enter Diaz-Balart, the Floridian whose Hispanic background and solid relationships with conservative members of the House GOP conference made him well-positioned to broker a compromise. In May and early June, Diaz-Balart spent his evenings quietly shopping a PowerPoint presentation of a border enforcement and legalization bill to his colleagues. He poll-tested the proposal. He recruited a whip team of roughly eight lawmakers and they secured soft commitments from at least 120 Republicans, enough to pass Democratic support, according to multiple sources familiar with the process.
He had planned to sit down with House leaders on June 12, ask for a week to firm up the numbers and secure their commitment to bring the bill to the floor — from which he hoped it would pass with a bipartisan majority. Behind the scenes, he kept the White House informed of his actions. Obama held out hope that Diaz-Balart might succeed where so many others had failed, agreeing to delay the release of a narrow batch of executive actions on immigration to avoid antagonizing conservatives at a delicate moment in Diaz-Balart’s negotiations.
But then, just two days before the meeting, Eric Cantor, the House majority leader who had gingerly supported certain immigration reforms, lost the Republican primary for his Virginia House seat to an insurgent candidate who hammered him for his supposed softness on immigration. “Eric Cantor saying he opposes amnesty is like Barack Obama saying he opposes Obamacare,” thundered Dave Brat, an obscure college professor who challenged the powerful majority leader. Beating Cantor, Brat claimed, “is the last chance” to prevent undocumented immigrants from pouring into the country.
“We were so close,” Diaz-Balart says now. “We were closer than the House has ever been.”
Obama was back at square one. He had no bill to sign. And he was coming under pressure from his liberal allies. Hispanic advocates remained furious with him for waiting so long to do something— anything. Frustrated Senate Democratic leaders prodded him to take unilateral action by the end of the summer — just before the midterm elections — a timeline that White House officials tried unsuccessfully to get the senators to reconsider.
Then, in a face-to-face meeting outside the Oval Office in late June, House Speaker John Boehner informed Obama that not only would his Republican members decline to address immigration, they planned to sue the president, as well, for exceeding his authority in a variety of administrative actions taken in the absence of congressional approval.
A week later, Obama had settled on his course: He would go it alone, and take much broader executive action than the rest of Washington expected. And he would act soon, setting an end-of-summer deadline. Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, the president turned combative as he repeatedly veered from his prepared remarks.
“The failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, bad for our economy, and it’s bad for our future,” he thundered. “Drop the excuses.”
But Obama had bigger problems than Republican intransigence.
A shocking influx of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children, sent by their parents from violence-torn villages in Central America, were crossing the southwestern border of the United States, where overwhelmed federal border guards struggled to find ways to handle them. Some news reports mistakenly suggested that the parents were responding to Obama’s promises of leniency; and as the numbers of children grew, even some previously supportive Democrats began getting cold feet about Obama’s plans to loosen immigration rules at a time when they feared it could send still more migrants flooding to the border. The first signs of the impending border crisis had been visible when Obama made his June announcement, but Democrats did not anticipate how it would alter the political landscape.
National Republicans soon launched a campaign to make the border influx a defining issue in the midterm elections. But Obama, at first, was unmoved.
In July, one White House aide dismissed the notion that Obama would pay much heed to the potential damage to Democratic candidates in conservative areas of the country. “My guess is it is pretty minimal,” the official said when asked what effect the fate of his party in the midterms would have on Obama’s decision. “We are going to do what we think is the right thing to do.”
Testing the legal boundaries
As the politics got worse for endangered Democrats, outraged liberal activists were besieging the White House with demands for what should go into his executive orders.
Senior White House officials including counsel Neil Eggleston and domestic policy adviser Cecilia Munoz hosted more than 20 sessions in July and August with business, labor, Hispanic activists and lawyers. There was no shortage of special pleadings.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus wanted Obama to protect all 8 million undocumented immigrants who would have been eligible for legal status under the Senate bill. Oracle, Cisco, Microsoft and other high-tech players pressed officials to include some of their longstanding requests, such as recapturing unused green cards to bring in more skilled workers from abroad. So-called “dreamers,” the young undocumented immigrants for whom Obama extended administrative relief in 2012, pleaded for similar leniency for their parents. Undocumented farm workers sought a special carve out, too.
That only added to the pressure on Johnson and his small working group back at the Department of Homeland Security, who were struggling to come up with a plan that was legally defensible and yet sufficient to address the political demand. Some advocates, including California’s liberal Rep. Zoe Lofgren, an immigration attorney, drafted extensive memos for the administration laying out their own legal rationales for expanded executive action.
At DHS, however, Johnson and his team were hungry for information to back up their decisions. As time went on, they leaned more heavily on the work of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan Washington think tank that churned out data that caught the department’s attention. One report offered detailed projections of how each of the different categories of undocumented populations might benefit from executive action — possibilities based mostly on educated guesses from the Institute’s experts.
DHS aides were impressed enough to seek two personal briefings for Johnson from the Institute’s staff.
The process appeared to be humming along.
A debate on Air Force One
On Labor Day, Obama was traveling to Milwaukee, a battleground in recent years with Republicans as they’ve sought to curb union benefits. The president invited a small group of top labor leaders to fly with him to the event. The conversation aboard Air Force One turned to a heated political debate: whether Obama should take executive action on immigration before the November election.
Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, urged the president to stick with his plans to act by the official end of summer, less than three weeks away. But Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, argued that Obama should delay the announcement until after the election, out of concern for Democratic Senate candidates who might be caught in the backlash. The conflicting advice, some advocates contend, undermined the unified front that activists were desperate to maintain, particularly as Senate Democrats grew nervous. (Gerard and Henry declined to comment.)
Over the next few days, more and more Democrats began siding with Gerard.
What really worried the White House was that opposition wasn’t limited to vulnerable moderates up for reelection in Republican-leaning states. Sen. Al Franken, a liberal from Minnesota, expressed concerns. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who wasn’t on the ballot, pointedly asked Obama to wait until after the election. And Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who caucuses with Democrats, declared openly that it would be a “mistake” for the president to do anything alone, ever.
When King personally delivered that message to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, the Obama team knew it had a problem. If an independent from Maine, a state Obama won by 15 points, couldn’t support the president’s actions on immigration, they really were in trouble. David Simas, the White House political director, asked Guy Cecil, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, for polling on the immigration issue. Cecil gave him polls commissioned by the Iowa and Arkansas Senate campaigns, showing vast numbers of voters who didn’t want Obama to ease pressure on undocumented immigrants without the agreement of Congress.
The White House realized it couldn’t put out an executive order that would get attacked by candidates of the president’s own party. By that Friday night, as Obama flew home from a NATO Summit in Wales, he began calling allies to inform them of his decision to delay action — dealing yet another setback to the immigration reform advocates and the president’s relationship with Hispanic voters.
The anger was palpable as the Congressional Hispanic Caucus squared off with top White House officials in a meeting room steps away from the House floor in September, days after the announcement. The lawmakers viewed the president’s decision to delay action as the latest in a long line of broken promises.
As they sat around a long table in a meeting room of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office, more than a half-dozen lawmakers spoke as the caucusgrew impatient with McDonough, Munoz, and other Obama aides.
Democratic Reps. Tony Cardenas and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard spoke about the pressures they were under from impatient and disappointed constituents in Los Angeles. Cardenas, in particular, pressed the White House to maximize the number of undocumented immigrants who could be protected under the president’s authority — telling officials that if the number of immigrants covered under Obama’s order turned out to be smaller than expected — say, 3.5 million — he would feel that Obama hadn’t gone far enough.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), for his part, was adamant that the Obama administration follow through on executive action by Thanksgiving.
Roybal-Allard wanted to know: Would the formal recommendations from the caucus, which lawmakers had sent months earlier, be included?
They had the memos, the aides responded.
The lawmakers, White House aides promised reassuringly, would be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
Closed doors at DHS
The drafting process going on in the bowels of the DHS headquarters was a mystery to those on the outside. And that’s the way Johnson — and the White House — wanted it.
Disciplined and direct, Johnson approached his work for the White House like an attorney going to the mat for his clients. Unlike some political figures, he wasn’t interested in buffing up his own image. As an early supporter of Obama’s 2008 campaign, Johnson had credibility in the president’s insular world. No matter what, he wasn’t going to leak details of the president’s plan.
WATCH: President Barack Obama’s “one step forward, two steps back” history on immigration reform.
Despite his scant knowledge of the complex web of immigration laws when Obama first handed him the assignment, he took personal ownership of preparing the president’s policy. He held dozens of meetings with outside legal experts, lawmakers and interest groups, including NumbersUSA and Center for Immigration Studies, fierce opponents of legalizing undocumented immigrants.
But rarely did they walk away with any sense of Johnson’s thinking.
“He’d be a terrible person to play poker [with]. He could have a cheap-ass hand and you’d think he’d have four aces,” Gutierrez said. “He almost stops breathing when you ask him a question. I feel he gets like, catatonic, like ‘I ain’t telling you nothing. I’m not going to give you any verbal, non-verbal indications of affirmation. I’m not going to let you read me.’”
Johnson’s circle of aides included Capitol Hill veterans like Esther Olavarria, who worked for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), a leading champion on immigration reform for decades; David Shahoulian, a former Lofgren aide; and Serena Hoy, who worked on immigration issues for Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Their former colleagues on the Hill struggled to get anything out of them, too.
“These are people that are not going to overstep,” said a prominent immigration attorney who has known the key players for years.
Obama and Johnson, as well as their staffs, traded draft memos and ideas for months. By one count, they produced more than 60 iterations of the proposals. Johnson’s aides would draft something, then shoot it over to Eggleston and Munoz to examine and return with revisions.
The deliberations had gone on for almost eight months without any major leaks on the policy proposals — a feat that impressed White House aides.
But once Johnson’s tight circle expanded last week, the broad outlines of the plan began to seep out, starting the clock on the White House’s rush to unveil the most sweeping executive action on immigration in history.
“He ran an airtight process,” a senior White House official said of Johnson. “It was an impressive thing.”
Shifting into sales mode
As soon as Republicans realized the president was preparing to act, in the days after the GOP’s big victory in the midterm elections, they took to the airwaves to decry his abuse of authority. He was a king, an emperor, a heavy-handed executive abusing his power. Democrats, for their part, didn’t know enough about the president’s plans to offer any defense.
By this week, a belated White House response team kicked into high gear. Munoz and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, the president’s closest aide and confidante, quickly ramped up their outreach. They put out calls to high-tech companies, detailing several changes that would make it easier for them to retain foreign workers. They summoned civil rights leaders in an effort to get buy in and work the grassroots. They dropped hints to Hispanic activists that they would be happy with the result.
But even in the lead-up to Thursday’s prime-time address, not all the president’s allies were happy.
The White House realized it couldn’t put out an executive order that would get attacked by candidates of the president’s own party. | AP Photo
The AFL-CIO, for one, was continuing to voice its displeasure over what it was hearing, including a sweetener for the tech industry that was reportedly included. Top union officials reached out to the Congressional Black Caucus to press their case that a provision to allow tech companies to recapture unused visas would harm American workers.
By Wednesday night, the months of political acrimony, second guessing, and behind-the-scenes furor appeared to subside as Obama sat down for dinner with 18 congressional Democrats. Placed next to the menu of crisp fennel cucumber and tomatoes salad, thyme-roasted rib eye and artichoke puree, was a card with talking points on immigration.
If critics raise the amnesty charge, the response should be: “Taxes and background checks aren’t amnesty. That’s accountability. Doing nothing — that’s amnesty.”
If the president’s legal authority is questioned, say: “Every president for 70 years, both Democrats and Republicans, has taken executive action on immigration.”
When Republicans argue for a government shutdown over it, supporters should respond: “Republicans are blocking funding to conduct millions of background checks.”
As the group sipped on a Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington state and a California Chardonnay in a White House dining room, Obama gave his pitch. His legal rationale was sound, his politics solid. House Republicans had plenty of time to take up immigration reform. More than 500 days had passed since the Senate approved its own comprehensive reform bill, Obama noted.
“This is bold,” Gutierrez told the president. “This is courageous, and generous.”
This one critic at least had finally been converted.
- See more at: http://www.teaparty.org/obamas-secret-9-...
Why was it never built and why is money going into it??
A memorial planned to honor one of the great American leaders of the 20th century has instead become a monument to government waste.
In 1999 Congress authorized building a Washington memorial to honor Dwight D. Eisenhower for his service as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II and his guidance of the country as its 34th president.
Fifteen years later the project has already cost American taxpayers more than $65 million. And quarrels between the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission on the one hand and Congress and the Eisenhower family on the other hand mean that there’s a real possibility that no memorial will ever be built and the money will have gone for naught.
The commission, the body in charge of the memorial’s “nature, design, construction and location,” previously devoured $41 million of the funds and is on pace to spend the rest of the $65 million allotment from Congress without ever building a monument.
Some members of the commission — which is composed of four citizens appointed by the president, four members of the House of Representatives and four senators — are now lobbying for an additional $50 million in taxpayer funding.
Bruce Cole, a member of the commission who has been critical of the spending, calls the process behind the Eisenhower memorial “the classic definition of a Washington boondoggle.”
The final cost of the monument is now estimated to reach $150 million. In contrast, the Lincoln Memorial cost $47 million to build, adjusted for inflation, according to research by the National Civic Art Society. The expansive Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, with five water features, four open-air “rooms” and numerous statues and sculptures spread across nearly 8 acres, cost a comparatively modest $65 million.
For taking $65 million from the pockets of taxpayers with absolutely nothing to show for it, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission has been awarded the Golden Hammer, a weekly mark of shame for egregious examples of wasteful spending of tax dollars.
Rampant spending and interminable delays associated with the monument are rooted in the commission’s decision to award the memorial’s design contract to celebrated avant-garde architect Frank Gehry. The selection of Mr. Gehry’s design was fraught with issues, including special treatment for the celebrity architect, a House Committee on Natural Resources majority staff report about the project found.
The report’s authors determined that Mr. Gehry may have been improperly chosen to design the memorial because his submission failed to meet Congress and the commission’s original aesthetic goals. Today, eight years after the original design criteria were established, Mr. Gehry’s plan still fails to meet them. A design jury that evaluated the design proposals even recommended against accepting Mr. Gehry’s proposal.
His design was chosen, nonetheless, partially because “the factors used to select the designer were weighted in a way that benefited a well-known designer such as Gehry,” according to the report.
The chairman of the commission, Rocco C. Siciliano, who served as a special assistant to President Eisenhower, declined to speak on the record, citing ill health.
Carl Reddel, a retired Air Force general who serves as the commission’s executive director, said Mr. Gehry was the ideal choice for a designer of the Eisenhower memorial given the president’s “international constituency.”
“Frank Gehry is the most celebrated architect in the world,” Mr. Reddel said, adding that the name will appeal to “many different stakeholders nationally and internationally” such as “people from WWII ally countries and early NATO members.”
John S.D. Eisenhower, the president’s son, who died late last year, requested that his father be remembered “with an Eisenhower Square that is a green open space with a simple statue in the middle, and quotations from his most important sayings.”
Mr. Gehry’s design, however, ignores these wishes.
The architect’s colossal proposal features a series of 80-foot-tall stone and steel columns that a member of the National Capital Planning Commission said looked like something out of the “latter scenes of ‘Planet of the Apes.’” The columns would hold massive metal tapestries “composed of multiple 3-foot-by-15-foot panels featuring twisted, bent and welded stainless steel wiring” that “when hung together, depict barren trees that are intended to depict the plains of Kansas,” according to the Committee on Natural Resources report.
Opponents of the design fear the columns could obstruct views of the nearby Capitol, and the metal tapestries would require costly maintenance and have to be replaced occasionally.
Members of the Eisenhower family oppose the metal tapestries because they “would be a literal ‘iron curtain’ and are evocative [of] Cold War era Communist iconography,” the report claims.
John S.D. Eisenhower believed “the scope and scale of [Mr. Gehry’s design] is too extravagant and it attempts to do too much. On the one hand it presumes a great deal of prior knowledge of history on the part of the average viewer. On the other, it tries to tell multiple stories. In my opinion, that is best left to museums.”
Susan Eisenhower, the president’s granddaughter, testified to Congress that her family “thinks the design is flawed in concept and overreaching in scale.”
Against the Eisenhower family’s wishes, the commission paid Mr. Gehry’s firm $16.4 million for the design and went to work shoehorning the massive memorial in a small plaza just south of the National Mall, across the street from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
A public outcry about the memorial’s size and design, as well as concern over the commission’s apparent disregard for the Eisenhower family’s wishes, however, have ground the project to a halt.
“Even the memorials we now regard as great today didn’t have unanimous support in their day,” said Victoria Tigwell, the deputy executive director at the Eisenhower Memorial Commission.
Federal regulations prevent a construction project from beginning until all funding is in place. The rule is a safeguard against projects sitting half-finished for years. In order for that funding threshold to be met, the commission needs to raise another $85 million.
The commission is currently seeking $50 million in additional public funding from Congress, but federal lawmakers want nothing to do with spending more tax dollars on Mr. Gehry’s controversial monument design.
The current design for the Eisenhower Memorial is a “rare exception where there is true bipartisan agreement,” said Justin Shubow, president of the National Civic Art Society. “Democrats don’t want it; Republicans don’t want it. It doesn’t have a single champion in Congress.”
The House of Representatives voted earlier this year to withhold any additional funding for the monument during the 2015 fiscal year.
It appears that any additional federal money for the project is unlikely unless the design is changed to something more reflective of the Eisenhower family’s vision for the memorial.
“Would [critics] rather see no Eisenhower memorial at all than have this one?” asked Ms. Tigwell.
“The fear is that the commission will spend down all its remaining appropriated money on the Gehry design, and the worst will happen: No fitting memorial to a great American and no will to start over,” said Mr. Cole, a former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
In addition to hoping for another $50 million in tax dollars from Congress, the commission planned to raise $35 million from private donors to underwrite a portion of the memorial’s construction costs. The commission spent $1.2 million on a consulting firm to help raise private funds. To date, those efforts have resulted in just $448,000 in donations.
Still, Mr. Reddel remains optimistic about raising money for the project. “As [potential donors] find out how Gehry is bringing the heathland to the capital, we believe we will be able to raise the additional private funding,” Mr. Reddel said.
“According to federal regulation, many more dollars — in the neighborhood of $80 million — will have to be in place before a single shovel of earth can be turned,” Mr. Cole points out. “All this money has to come from the taxpayers’ pockets because, in over a decade, the commission has raised less than $500,000 in private donations.”
Critics claim that the controversy surrounding the monument has made the project toxic for foundations, corporations and wealthy individuals who would typically help to bankroll such an endeavor.
In October, a small group of commissioners met and agreed to slightly alter Mr. Gehry’s design, including removing two of the metal tapestries and eliminating several of the columns in order to make the monument less obtrusive. Thus far, those changes have failed to make Mr. Gehry’s design any more palatable for the Eisenhower family, members of Congress and potential donors.
“There is no way that any version of the [Gehry] design will ever get funded,” Mr. Shubow said.
In the meantime, taxpayers are still being forced to spend $1 million a year funding the nine-person staff that oversees the day-to-day operations of the commission.
“From its K Street aerie, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission staff is wasting yet more money pushing Frank Gehry’s bizarre design — something that Congress has refused to fund and that has already cost the public north of $40 million dollars, with no end in sight,” Mr. Cole said.
Mr. Cole and Mr. Shubow both think a fitting memorial that conforms with the wishes of Eisenhower’s family can be designed and built with the approximately $24 million the commission has yet to burn through.
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