- The Washington Times - Friday, November 20, 2009

Helping seniors

The $18 million AARP received from President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package has produced only 500 jobs to date, but the funds are being used to train thousands.

The Obama administration has promised the economic stimulus package would “create or save” up to 3.5 million jobs, but the AARP says its job training program “is not to create jobs at the AARP.” Rather, AARP is using the bulk of its stimulus funds to provide poverty-stricken older workers with job training through its Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).

“Simply put, the federal stimulus program reporting documents ask organizations to report the number of jobs created at the organization receiving the funds,” said AARP Senior Vice President Drew Nannis in a statement provided to The Washington Times. “AARP’s role in administering the SCSEP program is not to create jobs at AARP. Instead, we stipend SCSEP participants who train at and provide additional services at no cost to community non-profit organizations. Participants receive on-the-job training and local non-profits increase their capacity to help the communities they serve.”

Through its jobs-training program, AARP says it has trained 2,601 workers using stimulus funds over the past four months and placed 500 retrained workers into permanent jobs.

Rationing care

Leaders of the Republican National Committee say revised recommendations issued by a government-funded panel that say women only need to be screened for breast cancer after the age of 50 could be the beginning of health care rationing by the government.

RNC Chairman Michael S. Steele and co-chairman Jan Larimer wrote a letter to President Obama on Thursday, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, that calls the new recommendations a “thinly veiled attempt to save money by limiting mammograms” that “has the effect of placing a dollar value on a human life.”

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of doctors and scientists that makes health recommendations to the government, issued the latest guidelines. The task force’s decisions are neither binding nor final, but RNC officials say they show how the government could ration care.

“Tomorrow it will be prostate exams,” they warned.

They also said the White House had inappropriately used its platform to “unleash your attack dogs against Americans who are simply concerned about their loved ones.”

On Tuesday, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer attacked the motives of those criticizing the new guidelines on the official White House blog. In a post titled “Reality Check: Beware What ‘Critics Say’ on Reform and Mammograms,” he wrote: “One of the hallmark tactics from opponents of health insurance reform has been to grab onto any convenient piece of information and twist it into some misguided attack on reform, no matter how unrelated it may actually be.”

The Republican letter writers responded rhetorically, “How about Democrat Congressmen Frank Pallone and Debbie Wasserman Schultz? When they expressed their outrage at the [task force’s] decisions, were they using it as an excuse for ‘some misguided attack on reform?’ ”

Off-camera comments

Liberal columnist David Sirota is a well-known television commentator, but his off-camera commentary on the Internet about Republicans might not be as welcome on the airwaves.

On his Twitter account that’s available to the public, he’s suggested former Bush White House adviser Karl Rove has attempted performing sexual acts on himself, called Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck “freaks” and insulted a conservative media analyst.

“Palin & @glennbeck literally make me feel embarrassed 2 b an American & a human. Im ashamed 2 share nationality & species type w/such freaks,” he wrote Wednesday. Later that day, he called Dan Gainor, the director of Business and Media Institute at the Media Research Center, the “scum of earth” and a “slimy soulless corporate hack.” When Mr. Gainor objected, Mr. Sirota told him to “get a sense of humor, dude.”

His remarks about Mr. Rove are not printable. And, he had this to Tweet about Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican: “Haley Barbour is the perfect GOP icon: A grotesquely fat corporate lobbyist whose gubernatorial rule keeps his state 1 of America’s poorest.”

But that’s not the end of his name-calling. Mr. Sirota, who often writes on the blog OpenLeft.com, posted an entry Wednesday that described former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and Mrs. Palin as “bat… crazy narcissists.”

When asked by The Washington Times whether he thought any of his comments were “over the line,” Mr. Sirota said in an e-mail, “The Washington Times is a newspaper that just published an editorial suggesting President Obama is un-American because he’s half black. So being accused of ‘going over the line’ in defense of progressivism by that kind of rabidly racist, right-wing hate rag is just about the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Mr. Sirota was referring to a recent column by Washington Times editor emeritus Wesley Pruden that has been blasted by many liberals, including those at the Center for American Progress and Media Matters. The opinion piece said, “It’s no fault of the president that he has no natural instinct or blood impulse for what the America of ‘the 57 states’ is about. He was sired by a Kenyan father, born to a mother attracted to men of the Third World and reared by grandparents in Hawaii, a paradise far from the American mainstream.”

Mr. Sirota talks about politics during his appearances on PBS, MSNBC and CNN. On Nov. 7, he gave the keynote address to the Democratic Party’s annual Edward M. Kennedy Dinner in Denver.

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@ washingtontimes.com.

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