Thursday, March 26, 2009

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Good Day Readers:

We believe more than ever before the next Manitoba Metis Federation election, which must be held no later than September 2010, will be fought on the internet. Candidates will need to be online savvy especially if they hope to attract the younger vote. Blogs such as

Metis Bare Facts (

Truth To Power (

Metis News And Stuff (

and this site will play an increasing prominent role in determining the outcome.

Why do you think the MMF requested a publication ban on the Pre-Trial Conference stage in its alleged defamation lawsuit against the now defunct www.CyberSmokeSignals and can reasonably be expected to look for every opportunity to expand it?

Clare L. Pieuk

Obama Live: White House Hosts Online Town Hall
Posted: March 26, 2009, 11:03 AM by Shane Dingman

In an unusual experiment, U.S. President Barack Obama is about to throw open the doors to the Oval Office in a video conference with the citizens of the United States of America (and anyone else with web access).

On Thursday, from 11:30 a.m. EST to 12:52 p.m., Mr. Obama answered a series of questions the White House solicited from the public in an online town hall. The event is now over.

We kept a rough text transcript of the highlights (in case you couldn't, or didn't feel like, watching the video yourself):

11:39 a.m.: Obama takes the stage. He is in a room at the White House that is filled with people, so at least he's not sitting in a small web studio. Says he's just doing what he said he'd do in the campaign: Opening up the White House to the American people.

11:44 a.m.: He's still delivering parts of his new stump budget speech, education, health care, energy all must be addressed now, rather than later.

11:46 a.m.: First question comes from the online side, from Boston: How do you plan to fix education? A softball. Reform a system designed for a 19th century agricultural economy. Early childhood education, reward merit,

11:50 a.m.: Second question on mortgages: Obama says we're fixing the mortgage rates, keeping people in homes. 40% of people watching this now, could refinance their mortgage to take advantage of the new low rates.

11:55 a.m.: Job losses: It's bad, says Obama, as bad as the 1930s. “We’re going to have to be patient and persistent about job creation because I don’t think that we’ve lost all the jobs that we’re going to lose in this recession,” he said.

12:05 a.m.: How much will healthcare cost? Obama repeats his oft-stated line that the investments made in the budget will grow to cover the new costs of things like healthcare:

"I actually want a universal healthcare system, that's what we're trying to do."

"Canada is the classic example, everybody pays a lot of taxes into the healthcare system, but everybody can get covered [emphasis ours] ... what we have here in America is a legacy set of systems" that are not easy to absorb into that single-payer model.

Doesn't think they should scrap the employer-pay model that we have, but maybe to modify and make better that system over time.

12:09 a.m.: Acknowledges that the legalized marijuana question (Will that grow the economy?).

Reuters caught this one:

Activists for legalizing marijuana managed to flood the financial stability category with queries such as: “Has the administration given any thought to legalizing marijuana, as a cash crop to fuel the economy?”

"I don't know what that says about the online audience," Obama joked. "The answer is no, I don't think that's a good strategy to grow our economy."

12:11 a.m.: How are you improving conditions for reintegrating Iraq war veterans into the general society?

Starts a yarn about WWII and the sacrifices of earlier veterans, and segues into Iraq and Afghanistan vets, they have earned these benefits. In his budget, increasing VA funding more than anyone in the last 30 years. Example? "Homeless rate for veterans is multiple times higher for non-vets, that's inexcusable."

12:14 p.m.: Kent State Univeristy students in a cutesy video, hey man what about higher education?

Obama talks about giving student loans directly to students, instead of letting banks and other middlemen make cash off the administration of same.

Manages to segue that into the debate about the recession, don't shortchange investments in the future for deficit belt-tightening today. Says it's like telling your kids not to go to school, but to go to work (almost referred to Mickey D's, but caught himself) in fast food now to bring some money into the house. Not a good plan.

12:22 p.m.: Takes the first question from the audience with him, stopping the 'online' portion of the questions. Auto companies: Will they get bailed out, how do you respond to the health of the auto industry. (NEWS CONTENT AHEAD) Obama previews that he will be doing some announcements in the next few days on specific fixes for the U.S. auto industry, but says he won't give away all the scoops today.

12:28 p.m.: Procurement process for small business going after federal government contracts, how will you fix it?

Obama explains that the massive size of the government, it favours massive $20-billion general contracts that cover lots of different services needed. "We're looking at it ... we're not going to be able to do that on everything" but more competition is needed.

12:30 p.m.: Some love for nurses from Obama, and they are necessary to help improve health outcomes.

12:34 p.m.: Small business tax breaks?

Obama's on it, budget eliminates capital gains tax (starting to pay dividends five years from now).

12:37 p.m.: High school teacher: How about definitions of charter schools and definitions of effective teachers (as mentioned in the budget), and will you get the teachers to help you develop those reforms?

Obama: Yes, of course. "If we don't have teacher buy in, if they aren't enthusiastic then [our reforms] aren't going anywhere."Charter schools: They are public schools that are not affiliated with the local education board, but they still get public money and curriculum. "Laboratories of education."

Critiques "No Child Left Behind" for the focus on a single all-important test.

Gets a good laugh for asking the teacher "you know teachers that you wouldn't put your child in, right?" Much laughter. "She's takin' the fifth."

12:45 p.m.: Last question — Healthcare, in principle and if not in practice is right? Pre-existing conditions and preventative care? Are these a symptom and what is the problem? (Kind of incoherent).

Obama has anecdote for this, his mother died of ovarian cancer after almost losing her insurance because it was a "pre-existing condition". Pushes his principle goals: Everyone getting insurance, in some way (public, private, whatever).

12:50 p.m.: "We're out of time, thanks for paying attention and we need you guys to pay attention in the months and years to come." Then he bolts out of there, before he's mobbed for autographs and pictures "My schedule is really tight, I love ya, but I've gotta get outta here."
And its over. 12:52 p.m.

Mr. Obama explained the idea behind the virtual town hall in the video embedded below.


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