Saturday, July 24, 2010



Our recent posts on the action by NC House Speaker Joe Hackney, banning mention of the name of Jesus in prayer on the House floor, attracted some interesting mail from readers.

Some of it opposed Speaker Hackney's action (examples):

• Mr. Hackney, I don't know who it offends but I will tell you that I will never have to stand before the Lord and say I denied Him. Anyone who doesn't like the word Jesus doesn't need to be in our pressence. You have made me ashamed to be a tarheel but I will get over it and keep fighting you socialist progressive communists till death do I depart this world.

• Mr. Hackney: You should be ashamed of yourself. This country was founded on God. Many people still and will have God in their hearts. You cannot force Christians to leave what they believe, just because you don't think it is right.

• EXCELLENT article, Verne. Keep hammering the truth home!

Some of it supported Speaker Joe Hackney (examples):

• A religion over any other has no place in our government. As a Jew, I certainly don't need anyone to pray for me in Jesus' name. My wife and children are Christians. I encourage them in their choice of religion, but religion belongs in church, the home, and the heart; not government.

• Speaker Joe Hackney has demonstrated his courage and his compassion both. He honors, with the sensativity of Solomon, all the pastors (and rabbis, and imams) who deliver a daily invocation. At the same time, Rep. Hackney is welcoming and including those who can appreciate a prayer without a specific "deity" named. All who cry "blasphemy," ask yourselves: Would you also be so supportive should a prayer be given in Hebrew by a rabbi, or in Arabic by an imam? WWJD? I think speak to the entire gathering, offering fishes and loaves rather than thorns and bile. A thought: Worship in your own homes as you wish, but in the homes of others, pray with peace of heart rather than a chip on the shoulder.

• Isn't this just an official following the US Constitution, 1st Amendment - written by the founding fathers."Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .". So government cannot, or be seen to, promote one religion over another. Also the Constitution itself says in Article VI, Section 3: "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States". Religious belief is not a pre-requisite for officials, so there will always be someone who does not want to pray to Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, or whoever. Hackney was just doing his job. There is no need to vilify this man - even if we don't like it.


All the comments were thoughtful, welcomed, and sincere, I’m certain. These writers spoke from the heart, and expressed what they believe.

But what do constitutional scholars say? For an answer, I went to Mr. Andy Yates, campaign manager for 7th Congressional District GOP nominee Ilario Pantano, who found Speaker Hackney’s actions shocking and unwarranted.

Here is what Mr. Yates found in his research –


I think this might be helpful. It is from the Pastor who was fired's attorney. It is a violation of the first amendment right of free exercise of religion and also a violation of the first amendment right to freedom of expression ot restrict how the pastor may pray. Hackney was violating the pastor's constitutional rights.
Pastor Ron Baity’s legal representative, David Gibbs of the Christian Law Association, argues that Baity has a right to pray in Jesus name as long as he does not proselytize or speak negatively about another faith.

“The First Amendment promises all Americans the free exercise of their religion, which includes the right to pray as their faith requires, even when they are invited to open state legislative sessions with prayer,” remarked Gibbs.

“There is no authority in American history, tradition or Supreme Court precedent that requires a legislature to censor a private citizen’s prayers in order to participate in a benefit or privilege that is offered to other citizens of the state,” he added.

Gibbs contends that government agencies must have policies that allow representatives of all faiths to pray freely, but he adds that voters can also have an impact.

"Encourage your legislators at your city, your county meetings, your school board or others that prayer does matter [and] that asking for divine blessing and guidance, asking for God's help is something that's been done since the founding of our nation, and it shouldn't be just disbanded with," the CLA attorney requests.

Also you have this ruling from the US 4th Judicial Circuit Court of Appeals:

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals specifically authorized legislatures to allow Jesus-prayers in Turner v. Fredericksburg, when Justice O'Connor wrote: "the Establishment Clause does not absolutely dictate the form of legislative prayer. In Marsh, the legislature employed a single chaplain…the legislature in Simpson allowed a diverse group of church leaders from around the community to give prayers at open meetings. Both varieties of legislative prayer were found constitutional."

Hope this helps!

Andy Yates
Campaign Manager
Pantano for Congress
(704) 467-0795 cell

"Prosperity through Freedom. Peace through Strength"

Visit us on the web at!
Join our facebook page at
Follow us on twitter at
Watch us on youtube at


So, dear readers, I know what I believe, and I benefit from Mr. Yates’ thorough research on the realities and the legalities focusing on this thorny issue.

Perhaps no minds or hearts have been changed.

I know mine haven’t.

But I do pray that the cynical and the unbelievers will be moved to learn who Jesus Christ is, and experience His Saving Grace.

And it is in His Precious Name, our Savior Jesus Christ, that I offer this prayer. Amen.

Respectfully, Verne Strickland.


Friday, July 23, 2010



“We have some of the most excitement in Robeson County since the Civil War,” said Phillip Stephens, chairman of the Robeson County Republican Party.

Tall order. But, judging by how lonely Republicans have been in this Democratic bastion, Stephens could be right. Correct that. He is very right.

“We are the most Democratic County in North Carolina,” he advised. “In size, we are the largest county in the state. And the Republicans are actually excited along with their conservative brethren over in the Democratic Party about the election in November.”

Robeson has a proud history, and a promising future. Formed in 1787, the county took its name from Colonel Thomas Robeson, one of the leaders in the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Elizabethtown. During this battle the Tories in the southeastern part of North Carolina were crushed by the patriots.

Home to 14 municipalities, Robeson is one of the most diverse counties in North Carolina, with a true tri-racial population – Native American Indian, African American, and Caucasian.

Stephens, 48, is a resident of Fairmont. He has presided over a resurgence of Republican Party growth and political strength, and is convinced 2010 will be a banner year for the GOP in Robeson County.

“As recent as twenty years ago, over 90 percent of the county was registered Democrat. We have watched them lose a percentage point every year in the past two decades, while the Republicans have been gaining a percentage point, and sometimes two, annually. Independents or unaffiliated voters have been doing even better, registering at a rate of up to two percent a year more than our Republicans.”

The result is that, in Robeson County, Democratic registration has skidded from over 90 percent a couple of decades ago to just over 80 percent this year.

For the first time since the Civil War, Republicans in some precincts are flexing their muscles, confident now that they can rally their base to win elections in the county.

“Pantano has created a unique dynamic in our county,” said Stephens. “What he has brought to the campaign is that – rather than attacking Mike personally – Pantano has said that he understands McIntyre works to maintain what we’ll call a conservative image, and the Congressman is anxious to preserve that image.”

But while Ilario Pantano avoids personal attacks aimed at McIntyre, he considers the Congessman’s voting record and cozy relationship with ultra-liberal Democrats to be fair game. This is where the gloves come off.

“Our candidate wants to show how Mike’s friends in Washington, such as Nancy Pelosi, capitalize on McIntyre’s Democratic credentials in order to facilitate their Socialist agenda. It’s a strategy that resonates with Republican voters in Robeson County,” said Stephens. “Pantano gets traction with that strategy, and it’s working.”

Stephens asserted that the tactic is not negative campaigning, but merely exposing facts about the incumbent congressman and the people with whom he chooses to associate.

“We don’t have any polls,” he said, “but I said months ago that, the very second McIntyre agreed to debate Ilario Pantano, it was an admission that McIntyre’s internal polling was not favorable. In fourteen years we could not get McIntyre to debate because he had no reason to. Our political operatives and our benchmarks tell us that means the Democratic polling numbers aren’t as good as the public thinks.”

He said that Robeson County has not been in a position where conservative Democrats and Republicans would abandon McIntyre, but with a sufficiently credible candidate, the tide has changed.

“Our opposition research shows that McIntyre in the past few weeks has been trying to reach out to Republicans, however I think he realizes now that he will need to concentrate on his own base because Republicans have decided that they are supporting Pantano,” Stephens explained.

Now the GOP in Robeson County knows it can effectively raid McIntyre’s camp to pick up support for Ilario Pantano.

“It’s a whole new ballgame”, he said. “We’re shifting and trying to cross over and get those conservative Democratic voters over to Pantano’s side,” he said.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010



Rev. Brian Lowman, Pastor
South Hills Baptist Church
6400 Holly Springs Road
Raleigh, North Carolina 27606

I read the following story on Christian NewsWire and because it pertains to our great state of NC I wanted to share it with you. This story has been on Fox News as well as various other news media outlets. It is a shame that our leaders have become so “politically correct” that we can no longer call upon the name above all names. I would encourage you to contact your NC Congressman and let them know how you feel.

RALEIGH, N.C., July 13 /Christian Newswire/ — The Pray In Jesus Name Project is faxing more than 140,000 petitions to the North Carolina State-House, demanding legislators reverse Speaker Joe Hackney’s ban against the forbidden word “Jesus” during public prayers spoken by volunteer pastors giving the invocation.

Nearly 1,000 citizens from all 50 states signed the free petition on the first day, which was then faxed to each of 120 North Carolina State Representatives and all 50 Senators.

On May 31, Speaker Hackney verbally banned Jesus’ name as “illegal speech” by disinviting Pastor Ron Baity from praying before the legislature after pre-screening the prayer content and objecting to his closing words, “in Jesus name.” No written policy exists banning prayer content, but the Speaker is now writing one.

“I got fired,” said Ron Baity, pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. He had been invited to lead prayer for an entire week but his tenure was cut short when he refused to remove the name Jesus from his invocation.

“Our petition campaigns have helped reverse Jesus-bans in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma, Oregon, California and Virginia, and now we fight for free religious speech in North Carolina,” said former Navy Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt, leader of The Pray in Jesus Name Project. Klingenschmitt himself was punished for praying “in Jesus name” in uniform in 2006, but was later vindicated by the U.S. Congress. “Pastor Baity is a hero for refusing to water-down his prayers,” he said.

Despite deceptive claims by the ACLU’s easily-offended atheist complainers, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals specifically authorized legislatures to allow Jesus-prayers in Turner v. Fredericksburg, when Justice O’Connor wrote: “the Establishment Clause does not absolutely dictate the form of legislative prayer. In Marsh, the legislature employed a single chaplain…the legislature in Simpson allowed a diverse group of church leaders from around the community to give prayers at open meetings. Both varieties of legislative prayer were found constitutional.”

Contact: Chaplain Klingenschmitt,, 719-360-5132,; Stephanie Lewis, TC Public Relations, 312-422-1333,



Joe Hackney (born September 23, 1945, in Chatham County, NC) is a Democratic member of the North Carolina General Assembly representing the state's fifty-fourth House district, including constituents in Chatham, Orange, and Moore counties. A farmer and attorney from Chapel Hill, Hackney is currently (2009-2010 session) serving in his fifteenth term in the state House of Representatives and is the Speaker of the House.


Representative Joe Hackney, Democrat

District: 54

Counties Represented: Chatham, Moore, Orange

Office: 2304 Legislative Building

Phone: 919-733-3451


Legislative Mailing Address:

NC House of Representatives

16 W. Jones Street, Room 2304

Raleigh, NC 27601-1096

Home Address: 410 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Phone: 919-929-0323


Friday, July 16, 2010


Representative Sue Myrick (NC-9) came to Congress in 1995 after building a successful advertising and public relations business, and serving two terms as mayor of Charlotte, NC, the state’s largest city and commercial hub. She is currently in her eighth term representing North Carolina's 9th district, which covers portions of Union, Mecklenburg, and Gaston Counties.

Myrick serves on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, which is the oldest legislative committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. It enjoys the broadest legislative responsibility of any House committee, including public health, telecommunications, energy, consumer protection, food and drug safety, air quality, environmental health, and interstate and foreign commerce.

The feisty Republican conservative, 68, has sparkled in her Washington experience, and is on the radar of national media – the subject most recently of a very positive feature on

Myrick tells Newsmax it is “very frightening” that the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah has been sending agents to Mexico — and some have already entered the United States across the porous border.

The North Carolina lawmaker has asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to set up a special task force to investigate the reports that Hezbollah is cooperating with drug cartels along the Mexican border.

In an exclusive Newsmax interview, Myrick — a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the GOP’s Deputy Whip — was asked what is known about Hezbollah’s threat to America.

“Our intelligence sources have really clarified that they are in Mexico, that there is an operation that is quite large in place there, and it’s very frightening to me because this is national security,” says Myrick, who was first elected in 1994.

“Yes, immigration’s a problem too, but this particular situation [involves] people who don’t like us for various reasons.

“We know some of them have gotten across the border in the past, and now we know that there are people from Iran who are going to Venezuela. They are actually learning Spanish, and then they come up through Mexico to cross our border. So they’re working in cahoots with Venezuela as well.”

About Hezbollah’s intentions in the U.S., Myrick says: “We don’t know. It used to be that most of those groups did not really target the United States. They were targeting other countries or they were staying inside their own area of influence. Now they are starting to target the United States and that’s my concern.

“I do want a task force of both U.S. and Mexican officials. Let’s get to the bottom of this and find out what is going on.

“The response I have received was a call that they would like to give me a private intelligence briefing because I’m on the Intelligence Committee. I said that would be fine, but I would like an answer about the task force first because once I get a briefing, I can’t talk about it.”

Sen. John Kyl, an Arizona Republican, has said he met privately with President Barack Obama and implored him to secure the border. Kyl claims Obama told him that if he did secure the border it would remove the incentive for comprehensive immigration reform or amnesty for illegals. Myrick says that “makes no sense whatsoever.”

Myrick tells Newsmax: “It’s obvious that’s what he wants, amnesty. He’s said it over and over again. I don’t see it that way.

“Our responsibility at the federal government is to make sure that our borders are secure. Once the border is secure, like it is in some other places where we don’t have the problems that we do in the areas where it’s porous, then we’ll know who is in the country. We can control who comes into the country.

“It makes no sense to me whatsoever that you can’t secure the border because you can’t get amnesty.”

Myrick takes issue with Attorney General Eric Holder, who has filed suit against Arizona’s tough new law to battle illegal immigration.

“The federal government has not done its job,” she declares.
“Arizona is only trying to do what a state as the right to do, and that is to protect themselves.”

Turning to Iran, Myrick charges that the Obama administration is dragging its feet on dealing with the nuclear threat posed by the Islamic Republic.

“I think we should take a tougher stance and work harder with our partners in the world to make sure they do too,” she says.

The United Nations in its attempts to deal with Iran is “just a joke,” she adds. “They aren’t doing their job.”

Asked about the possibility that Israel may attack Iran’s nuclear facilities on its own, Myrick responds:

“I think Israel has the right to defend themselves. That option is there.

“I hope it does not come to that, but there needs to be something done to have a tougher stand with Iran.

“They aren’t going to be our friends. You can’t convince them they’re going to be our friends. They don’t operate that way. They don’t want to be friends. They want to conquer the world.”

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Isn't it sad the media choose to tell us all about the trivia and inane drivel that goes on -- a self-important professional athlete who cuts himself shaving, an entertainer who reveals half of her bustline to millions at a Superbowl halftime show, a politician who drinks beer with a goofy Harvard proessor at the White House, and has burgers with Dmitry Medvedev at a greasy spoon in Virginia? (Why that sounds like our president!)

But the obituary of a truly outstanding American lady merits nothing in any paper or online source that I have seen since the death of Pamela Murphy many weeks ago.

Maybe I just missed it. She deserved more.

Verne Strickland

By Dennis McCarthy, Los Angeles Times on April 15, 2010

Pamela Murphy, widow of WWII hero and actor, Audie Murphy, died peacefully at her home on April 8, 2010. She was the widow of the most decorated WWII hero and actor, Audie Murphy, and established her own distinctive 35 year career working as a patient liaison at the Sepulveda Veterans Administration hospital, treating every veteran who visited the facility as if they were a VIP.

Any soldier or Marine who came into the hospital got the same special treatment from her. She would walk the hallways with her clipboard in hand making sure her boys got to see the specialist they needed.

If they didn't, watch out. Her boys weren't Medal of Honor recipients or movie stars like Audie, but that didn't matter to Pam. They had served their country. That was good enough for her. She never called a veteran by his first name. It was always "Mister." Respect came with the job.

"Nobody could cut through VA red tape faster than Mrs. Murphy," said veteran Stephen Sherman, speaking for thousands of veterans she befriended over the years. "Many times I watched her march a veteran who had been waiting more than an hour right into the doctor's office. She was even reprimanded a few times, but it didn't matter to Mrs. Murphy. "Only her boys mattered. She was our angel."

Audie Murphy died broke in a plane crash in 1971, squandering millions of dollars on gambling, bad investments, and yes, other women. "Even with the adultery and desertion at the end, he always remained my hero," Pam told me.

She went from a comfortable ranch-style home in Van Nuys where she raised two sons to a small apartment - taking a clerk's job at the nearby VA to support herself and start paying off her faded movie star husband's debts.

At first, no one knew who she was. Soon, though, word spread throughthe VA that the nice woman with the clipboard was Audie Murphy's widow. It was like saying General Patton had just walked in the front door. Men with tears in their eyes walked up to her and gave her a hug.

"Thank you," they said, over and over.

The first couple of years, I think the hugs were more for Audie's memory as a war hero. The last 30 years, they were for Pam.

One year I asked her to be the focus of a Veteran's Day column for all the work she had done. Pam just shook her head no.

"Honor them, not me," she said, pointing to a group of veterans down the hallway. "They're the ones who deserve it."

The vets disagreed. Mrs. Murphy deserved the accolades, they said. Incredibly, in 2002, Pam's job was going to be eliminated in budget cuts. She was considered excess staff.

"I don't think helping cut down on veterans' complaints and showing them the respect they deserve, should be considered excess staff," she told me. Neither did the veterans. They went ballistic, holding a rally for her outside the VA gates. Pretty soon, word came down from the top of the VA. Pam Murphy was no longer considered "excess staff."

She remained working full time at the VA until 2007 when she was 87.

"The last time she was here was a couple of years ago for the conference we had for homeless veterans," said Becky James, coordinator of the VA's Veterans History Project.

Pam wanted to see if there was anything she could do to help some more of her boys. She was 90 when she died last week. What a lady.

List of Decorations for Audie Murphy:

Congressional Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star (with oak leaf cluster)
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star (with oak leaf cluster and Valor device)
Purple Heart (with two oak leaf clusters)
U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal
U.S. Army Good Conduct Medal
Presidential Unit Citation (with First Oak Leaf Cluster)
American Campaign Medal

European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (with One Silver Star, Four Bronze Service Stars (representing nine campaigns) and one Bronze Arrowhead (representing assault landing at Sicily and Southern France)),

World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal (with Germany Clasp)
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
French Fourragère in Colors of the Croix de guerre
French Legion of Honor - Grade of Chevalier
French Croix de guerre (with Silver Star),
French Croix de guerre (with Palm)
Medal of Liberated France
Belgian Croix de guerre (with 1940 Palm)

Additionally, Murphy was awarded:

Combat Infantry Badge ,
Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar,
Expert Badge with Bayonet Bar


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Should Government Jobs Sector Growth Outpace Private Sector?

Raleigh, N.C. – North Carolina voters agree that it is wrong for the number of government employees to grow as private employers in the state lay off workers according to a new poll released today by the Civitas Institute.

According to the live caller poll of 600 likely voters, 60 percent of voters said they agree that it is wrong for the number of government employees to grow at a time when private employers are laying off workers. Thirty-one percent disagree that it is wrong, and nine percent said they are not sure.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that North Carolina lost 133,400private sector jobs over the last decade, while North Carolina government added more than 34,000 new positions. These figures appear to be resonating with citizens as there is bipartisan agreement concerning growth of the government jobs sector.

Sixty-five percent of Republicans and 53 percent of Democrats agree that government employment should not increase as private sector growth decreases. Sixty-five percent of unaffiliated voters also agree.

“As private employers have shed jobs over the past few months and years, government jobs have continued to grow. Just last month, government added 16,000 new workers in North Carolina while private sector jobs fell by 3,000,” said Civitas Institute Senior Legislative Analyst Chris Hayes. “North Carolina’s voters see the fallacy in growing government while the private sector contracts.”

When asked if they agree or disagree that no state employee should be permitted to be paid more than the $135,000 yearly amount that the Governor of North Carolina receives, 61 percent of voters said they agree. Thirty-one percent said they disagree, and 8 percent said they are not sure.

Furthermore, half of the voters who work for the government said they agree with the pay cap for state employees. Forty-four percent of government workers said they disagree, and 8 percent said they were not sure.

“Voters clearly understand that adding government workers has a cost to taxpayers,” added Hayes.

As the state struggles with the lowest number of private sector jobs for any May since 2003 (total of 3.18 million), 64 percent of voters agree that the rate of growth of government jobs should not exceed the rate of growth of private sector jobs. Twenty-three percent said they disagree, and 13 percent said they are not sure.

Additionally, over half of voters who work for the government said they agree that government job growth shouldn’t exceed that of private. Thirty-two percent said they disagree, and 10 percent said they are not sure.

The Civitas Poll is the only monthly live-caller poll of critical issues facing North Carolina. For more information on Civitas polling see


Reported by correspondent Darwin Dowdy

New Hanover County (Wilmington) 9.2%
Robeson County (Lumberton ) 11.5%
Baden County ( Elizabethtown ) 11.4%
Cumberland County (Fayetteville) 8.6%
Duplin County (Wallace/Warsaw) 8.5%
Columbus County (Chadbourn/Whiteville)11.7%

Friday, July 2, 2010

With Barack Obama, things are more like they are than they've ever been before.

7/2/10   this is a damn good bit I wrote back in 2010. I look at it today in June 2014 and Obama is still making the same mistakes, denying he did, and trying to weasel his way out of it.

The man doesn't change, can't change and won't change. You might enjoy this. I did, and I wrote it. Proves to me that things are more like they are now than they've even been before.

Soon after our clueless president has a cozy USA burger in a fast food joint in Virginia with Mr. Slick – Russian president Medvedev – FBI agents round up a scattered den of seemingly innocent, earnest young Russians on charges of spying.

Look out, America, where are your friends? Who are your enemies? So much duplicity to uncover, so little time to do it.

We need to stop being schmucks. But I think we’ll have to stop being schmucks under the next president. This one is a disaster. Some kind of hybrid American, world citizen, and closet revolutionary who seems inclined to sell out his own country everytime he goes overseas.

And when he gets back.

He glibly cooled his way into American hearts (or spleens, livers, kidneys or some other vital organ) without giving up anything useful about himself.

When he botched his inauguration oath with the help of John Roberts, he committed the first of a succession of ghastly miscues – he curtsies to Arab and Asian “dignitaries”, disses one of our most loyal allies (inexplicably sending a wonderful gift (a bust of Winston Churchill) back to England, allows his non-white AG to climb in bed with the roughneck racist Black Panthers, uses a teleprompter when he speaks to school kids, and can’t seem to get his hand over his heart when the National Anthem is playing. And that can’t begin to cover the problems.

Say what?

This puzzling individual, my friends, used to be a mystery, ascending to the world’s most powerful office with only a casual vetting process.

Those were the good times, before we knew what was coming.

Now that he’s not a mystery anymore, smart American are looking anxiously to 2012, and praying our Maximum Leader doesn’t totally flush our country down the toilet.

Not “his” America, mind you – “our” America. It’s not his. He has never truly identified with it, can’t understand what it’s all about, will never respect it, and may maim or cripple the U.S. before he is finally impeached and sent packing back to Chicago, Hawaii, Kenya,, or some other place where he might have been born.

Look, I have just about had it, okay?

But this sincere harangue started with the Russians, the KGB, and happy hamburgers with Barack and his Russian buddy Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev -- extremely lifelike clone of Vladimir Putin. Another commie wolf in wolf’s clothing.

This is a pretty fair story of the Barack Burger Summit, as described by the Associated Press:

"The Obama administration welcomed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the White House recently, and played up warmer relations with the former Cold War adversary, though foreign policy disputes linger.

"Out of media view, Medvedev arrived at the White House on a sweltering summer morning for an Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama and talks with U.S. and Russian officials in the Cabinet Room. The leaders, holding their seventh meeting since Obama took office 17 month ago, then planned to address reporters.

"The leaders snuck away for a bite to eat at a popular hamburger joint across the Potomac River—Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington, Va., where Obama took Vice President Joe Biden last year. Customers cheered when the two walked in.

"U.S. officials are pointing to signs that efforts to start fresh with Moscow have delivered results, from Russian support for new penalties against Iran to the signing of a major nuclear treaty.

"Conservative critics see Obama as too conciliatory to Russia and say he hasn't resolved disputes over issues such as Moscow's human rights record, missile defense and Moscow's tensions with neighboring Georgia. They charge that by speaking softly on those issues, the United States is compromising its influence among Russia's neighboring countries.
"We are paying a huge price for the reset policy," says Ariel Cohen of the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Administration officials say they have stood their ground on disagreements with Russia but have shifted the tone away from conflict, which they say is a sign of a maturing relationship.

"The true significance of Medvedev's visit is that it brings us closer to a relationship that doesn't require Cold War-style summits to sustain itself," says Sam Charap, a Russia analyst at the Center for American Progress. "The lack of headlines is actually a sign of progress."


Well, there’ve been some headlines now, and they belie the claim that we are winning over the Russians, even when we get chummy with them and try to buy them off with cheap food.

It's all here in this sad, unsettling and embarrassing discovery was reported by CBS News:

"The FBI has arrested 10 people who allegedly spied for Russia for up to a decade - posing as innocent civilians while trying to infiltrate U.S. policymaking circles and learn about U.S. weapons, diplomatic strategy and political developments. An 11th defendant - a man accused of delivering money to the agents - remains at large.

"The story feels like a throw-back to the cold war, reports CBS News correspondent Bob Orr. Cryptic codes and money drops involving secret agents the U.S. government charges are spies for Russia.

Each of the 10 was charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the U.S. attorney general, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Two criminal complaints outlining the charges were filed in U.S. District Court for the southern district of New York.

"Nine of the defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum 20 years in prison.

"There was no clue in the court papers unsealed Monday about how successful the agents had been, but they were alleged to have been long-term, deep cover spies.
Intelligence on Obama's foreign policy, particularly toward Russia, appears to have been a top priority. The timing of the arrests was notable given the efforts by Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev to 'reset' U.S.-Russia relations."

How naïve can our leaders be? Is O’Bama just practicing, or still campaigning? When will he step up and do the job he has convinced us he is so unqualified and uncommitted to do? I couldn’t venture a guess.

One of the latest wrinkles? There's some disagreement over whether these professional Russian thugs are really a flight risk. Any comments?

But maybe things are turning around for the president. House Minority Leader John Boehner, not typically known for complimenting Obama, recently paid him the ultimate compliment this week, calling him “whining” and “childish”.

Works for me.

I think maybe Pogo said it best: “We have met the enemy and they are us.” Or something like that.

When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?