Friday, July 31, 2009
"Reform Often Withers In August".
By Chuck Raasch
WASHINGTON — Now comes August, the black hole of American lawmaking.
President Barack Obama tried to push through health care legislation before Congress' traditional August recess for a reason. With members leaving town for vacations and town hall meetings, he could lose votes and momentum.
Other reforms have wilted in the August heat.
Cane-wielding senior citizens, angry over a new catastrophic care and prescription drug law, chased then-House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski down a Chicago street in August 1988. Congress repealed the law a few months later.
Four years ago, then-President George W. Bush took an August vacation from pushing Social Security private accounts. Opponents, including some now allied with Obama on health care, used the hiatus to batter Bush's idea, and he lost any momentum he'd built in the previous six months.
So it's no wonder Obama saw August as a deadline.
“Moving it forward as fast as you can is usually a good idea,” said William Galston, a domestic policy adviser to former President Bill Clinton during the health care fights of the 1990s. “It is just axiomatic that in our system, that doing nothing is a lot easier than doing something.”
Obama and Democrats in Congress claim they have made significant progress toward a final reform package. But opposition from Republicans and fiscally conservative Democrats has pushed work to the fall, giving opponents time to marshal their forces.
Pollsters Celinda Lake, a Democrat, and Ed Goeas, a Republican, released a joint poll Wednesday that shows the public still has more confidence in Democrats than Republicans when it comes to improving the health care system. But the poll also showed rising concerns over Democrats' spending, and split verdicts on what reforms are necessary and who should pay for them.
A key point where Lake and Goeas agreed: Democrats haven't been clear enough on what's in the health reform plan for middle class and insured Americans.
The Obama administration, Lake said, “came out of the box too much talking about the uninsured and not enough about what the insured are going to get, and I think they are going to try to turn that ship around.”
Indeed, Obama traveled to Raleigh, N.C., and rural Bristol, Va., on Wednesday to talk, in part, about what his plan would do for those who have insurance.
“Eighty percent of every voter group (is) satisfied with the quality of their health care,” Goeas said, although they're worried they're going to lose it.
He said Americans “have moved from a gracious ‘we'd like everyone covered on health care' position to one of ‘if you would bring down the cost of my health care …' maybe more of these people that don't have health care could afford it.”
August could look like a rip-roaring political campaign over care health reform, especially in rural areas where conservative Democrats have won elections and where federal reimbursement for Medicare and access to health care are big reform sticking points.
The battle is also likely to take place in congressional districts with lots of small business owners, who worry that any tax to pay for health reform could fall disproportionately on them.
Groups allied with Obama already are gearing up to run targeted radio, TV and Internet campaigns pressuring moderate Republicans, like Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, and conservative Democrats, like Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina, to support reform. One group pressuring Snowe, Americans United for Change, is running ads comparing doubting Republicans to snails.
Groups that oppose Obama's plan as too costly and too heavy on government will weigh in on the other side.
The Republican National Committee already has run Web and TV ads attacking Obama's plan as a “grand experiment” that would put a sixth of the American economy at risk.
Some think Obama has a better legislative team than Clinton did when his administration tried unsuccessfully to reform health care, and has a stronger pro-reform movement rooted in his campaign's Internet following.
But some argue that it's inherently easier for opponents to energize their backers than it is for proponents to get theirs out, and that a national movement can be effectively trumped by targeted, intense opposition over the next month.
It may come down to which side can pack town hall meetings and flood wavering members of Congress with phone calls,e-mails and petitions over the month of August.
Chuck Raasch covers politics for Gannett News Service. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Labels: General information
Charles Krauthammer: Dr. Obama's Miraculous Cure.
By Charles Krauthammer
WASHINGTON — Yesterday, Barack Obama was God. Today, he's fallen from grace, the magic gone, his health care reform dead. If you believed the first idiocy — and half the mainstream media did — you'll believe the second. Don't believe either.
Conventional wisdom always makes straight-line projections. They are always wrong. Yes, Obama's aura has diminished, in part because of overweening overexposure. But by year's end he will emerge with something he can call health care reform. The Democrats in Congress will pass it because they must. Otherwise, they'll have slain their own savior in his first year in office.
But that bill will look nothing like the massive reform Obama originally intended. The beginning of the retreat was signaled by Obama's curious reference — made five times — to “health insurance reform” in his July 22 news conference.
Reforming the health care system is dead. Cause of death? Blunt trauma administered not by Republicans, not even by Blue Dog Democrats, but by the green eyeshades at the Congressional Budget Office.
(1) On June 16, the CBO determined that the Senate Finance Committee bill would cost $1.6 trillion over 10 years, delivering a sticker shock that was near fatal.
(2) Five weeks later, the CBO gave its verdict on the Independent Medicare Advisory Council, Dr. Obama's latest miracle cure, conjured up at the last minute to save Obamacare from fiscal ruin, and consisting of a committee of medical experts highly empowered to make Medicare cuts.
The CBO said that IMAC would do nothing, trimming costs by perhaps 0.2 percent. A 0.2 percent cut is not a solution; it's a punch line.
(3) The final blow came last Sunday when the CBO euthanized the Obama “out years” myth. The administration's argument had been: Sure, Obamacare will initially increase costs and deficits. But it pays for itself in the long run because it bends the curve downward in coming decades.
The CBO put in writing the obvious: In its second decade, Obamacare significantly bends the curve upward — increasing deficits even more than in the first decade.
This is obvious because Obama's own first-decade numbers were built on arithmetic trickery. New taxes to support the health care plan begin in 2011, but the benefits part of the program doesn't fully kick in until 2015. That excess revenue is, of course, one time only. It makes the first decade numbers look artificially low, but once you pass 2015, the yearly deficits become larger and eternal.
Three CBO strikes and you're out cold. Though it must be admitted that the White House itself added to the farcical nature of its frantic and futile cost-cutting when budget director Peter Orszag held a three-hour brainstorming session with Senate Finance Committee aides trying to find ways to save. “At one point,” reports The Wall Street Journal , “they flipped through the tax code, looking for ideas.” Looking for ideas? Months into the President's health care drive and just days before his deadline for Congress to pass real legislation? You gonna give this gang the power to remake one-sixth of the U.S. economy?
Not likely. Whatever structural reforms dribble out of Congress before the August recess will likely not survive the year. In the end, Obama will have to settle for something very modest. And indeed it will be health insurance reform.
To win back the vast constituency that has insurance, is happy with it, and is mightily resisting the fatal lures of Obamacare, the President will in the end simply impose heavy regulations on the insurance companies that will make what you already have secure, portable and imperishable: no policy cancellations, no pre-existing condition requirements, perhaps even a cap on out-of-pocket expenses.
Nirvana. But wouldn't this bankrupt the insurance companies? Of course it would. There will be only one way to make this work: Impose an individual mandate. Force the 18 million Americans between 18 and 34 who (often quite rationally) forgo health insurance to buy it. This will create a huge new pool of customers who rarely get sick but will be paying premiums every month. And those premiums will subsidize nirvana health insurance for older folks.
Net result? Another huge transfer of wealth from the young to the old, the now-routine specialty of the baby boomers; an end to the dream of imposing European-style health care on the U.S.; and a President who before Christmas will wave his pen, proclaim victory and watch as the newest conventional wisdom reaffirms his divinity.
Charles Krauthammer is a Washington Post columnist. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Labels: General information
"It's Time For Gates To End The Score-Settling".
By E.J. Dionne Jr.
WASHINGTON — The problem with “teachable moments” is that the term sets up one group of people as teachers while another group is consigned to the role of pupils. In a democracy, that's troublesome.
In the conflict between Henry Louis Gates Jr. and police Sgt. James Crowley over Gates' arrest at his own home, all parties in the national conversation believe they should be the teachers. The theme is, “No, you listen to me!”
Everybody seems to want to teach the need for respect: the respect owed by white police officers to black men, and the respect Harvard professors ought to show to cops doing their jobs.
It was the perfect moment for professor Barack Obama to try to explain everything to everyone. That is why — after first stumbling into the controversy on Gates' side — he backed off, arguing that there was plenty of right and wrong to go around, and inviting Gates and Crowley to sit down with each other at the White House.
Here's a thoughtful reading all three men should consult. The writer, who happens to be African-American, insisted that “the task for black America is not to get its symbols in shape: symbolism is one of the few commodities we have in abundance.”
Instead, this writer warned about “a discourse in which everyone speaks of payback and nobody is paid,” and concluded that “the result is that race politics becomes a court of the imagination wherein blacks seek to punish whites for their misdeeds and whites seek to punish blacks for theirs, and an infinite regress of score-settling ensues.”
Exactly right, and Skip Gates won't have to do the reading since he wrote those words in The New Yorker in 1995.
I use “Skip” because I have known Gates for about 35 years. I have long admired him for his prodigious work ethic and for the nuance and thoughtfulness of his writing and scholarship.
I want Gates to bring this story to an end, both for the reasons he laid out so well himself, and for another. He knows as well as anyone that there is nothing more destructive to the hope for justice and equality than a fight that rips across the lines of class and race.
Since everybody seems to turn autobiographical during these “teachable moments,” I will exercise my right to do so, too. From the time I was in college in the late 1960s and early '70s, I have been incensed at the elitism so often shown by privileged liberals toward the white working class. And I felt this as someone on the left.
I wrote a doctoral dissertation inspired by that concern, and the current controversy led me down memory lane, through college newspaper archives, to see if my recollection of my earlier views matched reality. For what it's worth, here's what I wrote in 1973, the year I graduated from college:
“What is most disturbing about conservative attacks on the student left is that many of the charges were right on the mark. The student left often did come to be characterized by its own forms of elitism and intellectual arrogance. …
“Even more pernicious and divisive were race issues. It is clear, of course, that black demands for political and economic equality are justified … (but) the way these issues developed … served to estrange the working class white from the movement for equality. White workers rebelled because they felt they were being forced to pay an inequitable share of the costs of equality. … Sadly, whites who protested against being singled out were too often attacked as racists. … In the end, the losers were those who had the greatest stake in social reform — white workers, blacks and the student left.”
I risk the indulgence of quoting my younger self to suggest that we have been watching this same game for too long. It's a game that always turns out badly for those seeking equality and social reform. At the time he was asked to comment on Gates, Obama was trying to make the case for universal health coverage — for the largest step toward greater social justice since civil rights and Medicare — and it took only the single word “stupidly” to send everyone scurrying back to that “infinite regress of score-settling.”
Sgt. Crowley should not have arrested Gates, as the police implicitly acknowledged by dropping the charges. But Gates knows that this police officer with a good record is not the enemy. Let's end the score-settling right now.
E.J. Dionne is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Labels: General information
Thomas Sowell Continues His POTUS Barack Obama HATING, This Time He Asks If There Is "Disaster In The Making?
By Thomas Sowell
After many a disappointment with someone, and especially after a disaster, we may be able to look back at numerous clues that should have warned us that the person we trusted did not deserve our trust.
When that person is the President of the United States, the potential for disaster is virtually unlimited.
Many people are rightly worried about what this administration's reckless spending will do to the economy in our time and to our children and grandchildren, to whom a staggering national debt will be passed on.
But if the worst that Barack Obama does is ruin the economy, I will breathe a sigh of relief.
He is heading this country toward disaster on many fronts, including a nuclear Iran, which has every prospect of being an irretrievable disaster of almost unimaginable magnitude. We cannot put that genie back in the bottle — and neither can generations yet unborn. They may yet curse us all for leaving them hostages to nuclear terror.
Conceivably, Israel can spare us that fate by taking out the Iranian nuclear facilities, instead of relying on Obama's ability to talk the Iranians out of going nuclear.
What the Israelis cannot spare us, however, are our own internal problems, of which the current flap over President Obama's injecting himself into a local police issue is just a small sign of a very big danger.
Nothing has torn more countries apart from inside than racial and ethnic polarization. Just this year, a decades-long civil war, filled with unspeakable atrocities, has finally ended in Sri Lanka. The painful irony is that, when the British colony of Ceylon became the independent nation of Sri Lanka in 1948, its people were considered to be a shining example for the world of good relations between a majority (the Sinhalese) and a minority (the Tamils). That all changed when politicians decided to “solve” the “problem” that the Tamil minority was much more economically successful than the Sinhalese majority. Group identity politics led to group preferences and quotas that escalated into polarization, mob violence and ultimately civil war.
Group identity politics has poisoned many other countries, including at various times Kenya, Czechoslovakia, Fiji, Guyana, Canada, Nigeria, India and Rwanda. In some countries, the polarization has gone as far as mass expulsions or civil war.
The desire of many Americans for a “post-racial” society is well-founded, though the belief that Barack Obama would move in that direction was extremely ill-advised, given the history of his actions and associations.
This is a president on a mission to remake American society in every aspect, by whatever means are necessary and available. That requires taking all kinds of decisions out of the hands of ordinary Americans and transferring them to Washington elites — and ultimately the No. 1 elite, Barack Obama himself.
Like so many before him who have ruined countries around the world, Obama has a greatly inflated idea of his own capabilities and the prospects of what can be accomplished by rhetoric or even by political power. Often this has been accompanied by an ignorance of history, including the history of how many people before him have tried similar things with disastrous results.
During a recent TV interview, when Obama was asked about the prospects of victory in Afghanistan, he replied that it would not be victory like in World War II, with “Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur.” In reality, it was more than a year after Japanese officials surrendered on the battleship Missouri before Hirohito met General Douglas MacArthur for the first time.
This is not the first betrayal of his ignorance by Obama, nor the first overlooked by the media. Moreover, ignorance by itself is not nearly as bad as charging full steam ahead, pretending to know Obama is doing that on a lot of issues, not just history or a local police incident in Massachusetts.
While the mainstream media in America will never call him on this, these repeated demonstrations of his amateurism and immaturity will not go unnoticed by this country's enemies around the world. And it is the American people who will pay the price.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif. He writes a column for Creators Syndicate.
Labels: General information
POTUS Barack Obama Speaks On "Cash For Clunkers". Better Get Yours Before We Run Out Of Ca$h.
POTUS Barack Obama's "Beer Summit"; More Fluff Than Substance? Watch News Video.
"Cash For Clunkers" Program Goes Bust. Watch Video.
Wall Street Journal: "The Last Word On President Obama’s Place Of Birth." I AGREE, But Will LOONIES?
The last word on President Obama’s place of birth.
By JAMES TARANTO
Several readers have written over the past few days taking us to task for dismissing so-called birthers as lunatics without bothering to refute their claims. We reluctantly concede their point. The birthers have managed to sow confusion in the minds of some who are not lunatics, and for the latter group’s benefit it is worth clarifying matters.
Compounding the confusion, some rebuttals of the birthers’ claims have been based in part on misinformation. National Review, for example, asserts that it would not matter if the president had been born in a foreign country: “His mother was a native of Kansas, whose residents have been citizens of the United States for a very long time, and whose children are citizens of the United States as well.”
In fact, although some people born outside the U.S. are natural-born citizens (including John McCain, born in Panama, where his father was stationed as a naval officer), the timing and circumstances of Obama’s birth make the place a necessary condition for natural-born citizenship. The State Department Web site explains the law that would have applied if Obama were born overseas:
Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent in Wedlock: A child born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under Section 301(g) INA provided the citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child’s birth. (For birth on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years physical presence, two after the age of fourteen is required. For birth between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years, five after the age of fourteen are required for physical presence in the U.S. to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.
Obama was born before 1986 to married parents, and his father was an alien. Thus if it were an overseas birth, his mother would have to have lived in the U.S. for 5 years after age 14 in order for her child to be a natural-born American. Mrs. Obama was only 18 when Barack was born, so she had not even lived 5 years after age 14.
This is something of a technicality: Someone born overseas and after 1986, but otherwise in identical circumstances to Obama, would be a natural-born citizen thanks to a law signed by President Reagan. We don’t recall any outcry back then about the threat that some such person could grow up to be president, nor, as far as we are aware, are any birthers calling for a change in this law to return to the status quo ante 1986. Even if the birthers’ conspiracy theory were true, it would be hard to square the intensity of their emotion over the subject with the practical effect of Obama’s (hypothetical) overseas birth, which would be roughly nil.
Ah, but the law is the law, the birthers will reply--and who can disagree? The birthers can. Whether out of ignorance or dishonesty, they misrepresent the law at every turn. Back in November, as we noted, the birthers were claiming that the Supreme Court had ordered Obama to “prove” his eligibility for the presidency. In fact, all that had happened was that a lawyer had asked the high court to hear an appeal of a lower court’s decision throwing out his frivolous lawsuit for lack of standing. The justices, of course, denied the petition, and all such lawsuits have been summarily dismissed for lack of standing. The law is the law.
The birthers have also misrepresented the law in the claims they have made about Obama’s birth certificate. In truth, Obama has proved that he is a native of Hawaii, and this proof would hold up in any legal or administrative proceeding.
In order to explain the birthers’ deception on this point, it is necessary to delve into the arcana of Hawaiian vital records. The document that Obama has released, which carries the title “certification of live birth,” confirms that the president was born in Honolulu. It is a legal birth certificate, and, as the Honolulu Star-Bulletin notes, it is the only kind of birth certificate the state of Hawaii issues.
FactCheck.org has a close-up photo of the certificate, which states clearly at the bottom: “This copy serves as prima facie evidence of the fact of birth in any court proceeding.” If a court were somehow to take up the question of Obama’s eligibility, then, the birth certificate would almost certainly be sufficient to resolve the question in his favor. The opposing side would have to provide serious evidence calling into question the veracity of Hawaii’s official state records. Innuendo and hearsay would not be admissible.
Further, if Congress were to pass the so-called birther bill, Obama would be able to comply easily. The bill would require presidential campaigns to submit “a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate” to the Federal Election Commission. The certificate Obama has released publicly would meet this requirement.
Ah, but what about the original birth certificate? This is the nub of the birther “case,” and this is where things get really obscure.
As the Star-Bulletin notes, Hawaiian birth certificates have changed in form since Obama was born. Back then, the official record was a paper document with the title “certificate of live birth” (rather than “certification”), and it included “more information, such as the name of hospital, certifier’s name and title; attendant’s name and title, etc.” Hawaii no longer issues those old-style birth certificates:
[Spokeswoman Janice] Okubo explained that the Health Department went paperless in 2001.
”At that time, all information for births from 1908 (on) was put into electronic files for consistent reporting,” she said.
Information about births is transferred electronically from hospitals to the department.
”The electronic record of the birth is what (the Health Department) now keeps on file in order to provide same-day certified copies at our help window for most requests,” Okubo said.
CNN has reported--or rather, CNN executive Jon Klein reported to staffers in an email that others reported--that the obsolete paper certificates were destroyed when the department switched to electronic record-keeping. Klein’s information appears to have been in error. The Honolulu Advertiser reported yesterday that Okubo and her boss, Chiyome Fukino, both confirm that Obama’s original birth certificate still exists. Fukino says she has seen it and that the information matches the now-official electronic records reflected on the certificate Obama has released.
So why doesn’t Obama release the original certificate? The Advertiser says it is “unclear” whether the president “would even be allowed to see it if he asked.” It is clear, though, that the Hawaii statute governing disclosure of public records does not prohibit state officials from providing him with a copy, since he is “the registrant” and therefore has “a direct and tangible interest” in the record. One would think that Obama could persuade state officials to give him a copy, even if that is not their usual policy.
But the real question is: Why should he? The demand has no basis in principle and would have no practical benefit.
Obama has already provided a legal birth certificate demonstrating that he was born in Hawaii. No one has produced any serious evidence to the contrary. Absent such evidence, it is unreasonable to deny that Obama has met the burden of proof. We know that he was born in Honolulu as surely as we know that Bill Clinton was born in Hope, Ark., or George W. Bush in New Haven, Conn.
The release of the obsolete birth certificate would not “resolve the issue” to those for whom it is not already resolved. They claim without basis that today’s birth certificate is a fake; there is nothing to stop them from claiming without basis that yesterday’s is as well.
The president would gain nothing politically for his trouble. By acknowledging the birthers’ demands, he would lend them a modicum of credibility. By ignoring them, he actually reaps political benefits from their efforts. His critics, even those who are not birthers, end up looking like cranks by association. His supporters use the birthers to paint Obama foes as racist--which is probably unfair even to the birthers, as we argued Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective.
In a Commentary article last year, William F. Buckley recounted the way he, Sen. Barry Goldwater and a handful of other top conservatives worked to stigmatize the John Birch Society, whose founder, Robert Welch, maintained, among other things, that President Eisenhower was a “dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy,” and that the U.S. government was “under operational control of the Communist Party.” The Birchers, like the birthers, made respectable conservatives look like kooks, and in preparation for a prospective Goldwater presidential campaign, Buckley and his associates “thought it best to do a little conspiratorial organizing of their own against it.”
They succeeded in “excommunicating” the Birchers. It’s probably impossible to do the same to the birthers, because today the right wing is too vast to mount much of a conspiracy. The birthers are likely to be with us for as long as Obama is president--and because of them, it is more likely that this will be for the next 7½ rather than just 3½ years.
Editor's comment: Enough said, POTUS Barack Obama HATERS and LOONIES alike.
Nick Anderson Calls Out POTUS Barack Obama "Birthers", Who Are Like "Peas In A Pod". LOL.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
DAVID S. BRODER: "Failures Of The Modern Confirmation Process".
By DAVID S. BRODER
WASHINGTON -- There was never much doubt that Sonia Sotomayor would be confirmed for the Supreme Court. Her inspiring personal biography and her evident legal credentials assured that President Obama's choice would become the first Hispanic and the third woman to join the high court. The 13-6 Senate Judiciary Committee vote earlier this week makes that a certainty.
As good as Americans are entitled to feel about the honors to this meritorious product of a Bronx housing project, no one can be comforted by the spectacle of her journey through the Judiciary Committee. The antiseptic hearings and the near party-line vote illustrate the two great failings of the modern confirmation process.
Ever since a Democratic-controlled Senate rejected President Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork in 1987 and the Republicans vowed revenge, ideological pressure groups on both ends of the political spectrum have been determined to make each Supreme Court vacancy the prize in their mortal combat.
Most senators in both parties have volunteered or been drafted into the opposing armies. When a Republican president's nominee comes before the Judiciary Committee, Democrats pepper him with hostile questions -- and vice versa.
In response, the nominees have become less and less informative, not daring to repeat Bork's mistake of actually arguing for his view of fundamental legal issues. Instead, they have camouflaged themselves in cliches. For John Roberts, en route to the chief justice's chair, it was the claim that he would be as neutral as an umpire calling balls and strikes. For Sotomayor, it was the contention that a judge simply “applies the law.” With endless rehearsals of the nominees by the White House and Justice Department aides, the confirmation hearings have become as scripted as most presidential campaign debates.
At least it has seemed so to me. But this week, when I spoke with two of the more thoughtful members of the Judiciary Committee, Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., they gave me more reason for optimism.
In separate interviews, they both expressed sympathetic understanding for the witnesses who come before them on their way to the bench. Leahy said, “There are so many issues that senators are interested in, but the nominees can't go into their feelings about them, because they don't want to have to recuse themselves when the issue comes before them in court.” Graham agreed. “Senators want to know a lot, but nominees have to protect themselves,” he said.
Both said that a partial remedy lies in asking the nominees how they reached their conclusions in past cases or administrative rulings and gauging their approach to the law from their answers. But Leahy conceded, “You're never going to find out exactly what they will do on the bench. You have to have a leap of faith.”
Both men said they have learned to exploit their private meetings with nominees in their offices, before formal hearings begin. Leahy said he discerned from his conversation with David Souter, when the retired justice was up for confirmation, that he would be “a typical New Englander, very independent in his judgment. So I voted for him” despite Republican expectations that Souter would be a down-the-line conservative. Leahy was right.
Both these senators decry the growing role of interest groups that lobby on judicial confirmations. Both have defied those pressures, Leahy in voting for Roberts and Graham in being the lone Republican to support Sotomayor in this week's committee vote.
“I pointed out that Roberts was not someone I would have recommended to Bill Clinton or Barack Obama,” Leahy said, “but I did not want to see the chief justice of the United States confirmed on a party-line vote.”
Graham took the same stance on Sotomayor, saying he expected to disagree with many of her rulings, but gave great deference to Obama's choice because “elections make a difference” and she is “clearly qualified.” He said he hoped it would serve as an example to Democrats the next time a Republican president makes a nomination.
If their examples spread, we might avert the ugly partisanship of recent confirmation fights.
David Broder's e-mail address is davidbroder(at)washpost.com.
Editor's comment: "The antiseptic hearings and the near party-line vote illustrate the two great failings of the modern confirmation process.
Ever since a Democratic-controlled Senate rejected President Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork in 1987 and the Republicans vowed revenge, ideological pressure groups on both ends of the political spectrum have been determined to make each Supreme Court vacancy the prize in their mortal combat.
Most senators in both parties have volunteered or been drafted into the opposing armies. When a Republican president's nominee comes before the Judiciary Committee, Democrats pepper him with hostile questions -- and vice versa.
In response, the nominees have become less and less informative, not daring to repeat Bork's mistake of actually arguing for his view of fundamental legal issues. Instead, they have camouflaged themselves in cliches. For John Roberts, en route to the chief justice's chair, it was the claim that he would be as neutral as an umpire calling balls and strikes. For Sotomayor, it was the contention that a judge simply “applies the law.” With endless rehearsals of the nominees by the White House and Justice Department aides, the confirmation hearings have become as scripted as most presidential campaign debates."
SAD, isn't it?
Labels: General information
Betcha You Did Not Know Michael Jackson Has A 25 Year Old Child. Heee, Heee, Heee!
A Little Entertainment News: Seth McFarlane Is So FUNNY (Sometimes In A Morbid Sense) That He Needs A Psychiatrist -- In A GOOD (Ha, Ha) Sense. Watch.
I'm NOT One Who Favors The White House "Beer Summit" Between POTUS Barack Obama, Sgt. Crowley And Henry Louis Gates, But I Won't "Knock It" -- Yet.
Leonard Pitts Jr.:" Fear, Seen Through Black Eyes".
By Leonard Pitts Jr.,
I'll tell you why Barack Obama said what he did.
When he was asked last week about the racially charged arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, the president could have -- and as a political matter, should have -- given a diplomatic non-answer. Instead, he gave a forthright response he later had to apologize for: police in Cambridge, Mass., he said, acted “stupidly” in arresting Gates, a prominent black scholar, at his own home, committing no crime.
So why did Obama, usually the smartest cookie in the jar, not do the politically-intelligent thing?
I think it's simple. I think he looked at Henry Louis Gates and saw his brother-in-law, his nephew, maybe himself if he were not who he is. I think he did what black men habitually do when news breaks of some brother beat down, gunned down or simply thrown down and handcuffed for no good reason: he breathed, “There, but for the grace of God...”
Of course, Americans of many cultural stripes have put themselves in Gates' shoes in recent days. And many have found him wanting. They say he caused his own plight by being -- to what degree is a matter of dispute -- uncooperative with a police officer. They fault him for crying racism when it's just as likely, they say, his arrest, misguided as it was, had nothing to do with race.
The first argument misses the point. Certainly few people would dispute that Gates failed Black 101 and, for that matter, Common Sense 101 in being uncooperative to whatever degree. But it's equally obvious to some of us that a white man, whose only “crime” was complaining, would likely have enjoyed more leeway than Gates did.
The second argument is naive. One white guy I know recounts his own experience -- cop barged into his home at 3 a.m., rousting him from bed, demanding I.D. -- and says: “This (expletive) happens all over the place and it has nothing to do with race.”
And I say: I'll see your 3 a.m. roust and raise you Tony, jacked up on a street in Harlem, Bill, with a cop's gun to his head, Bryan, pulled over for an air freshener on his rear-view mirror, James, ordered to pull down his pants and lie on the curb, Robert, threatened with injury for drinking beer in the parking lot with friends after work. And that's just among guys I know, including three preachers.
Now, broaden it to include the bridegroom shot to death on his wedding day, the African immigrant killed while reaching for his wallet, the Maryland man beaten senseless as he lay in bed, the Miami man beaten to death for speeding, the dozens of men jailed on manufactured evidence in Los Angeles and manufactured police testimony in Tulia, Texas, the man sodomized with a broomstick in New York.
And if this expletive has nothing to do with race, then where are the stories of white men sodomized with brooms or shot while reaching for wallets? Are we supposed to believe it coincidence that the men this happens to always happen to be black?
Some of us do. Some of us have the luxury of never connecting the dots, seeing instead one discrete incident over here and tsk-tsk, how terrible that is, and another discrete incident over there and tsk-tsk again. And then move on and leave it behind.
But others don't have that luxury, don't get to move on and leave it behind. Others carry it like luggage, wear the residue like sweat, into every encounter with every cop, both good and bad: not always memories of what did happen, but fear of what could. Unnecessary fear? Sometimes. There are many great cops out there. Perfectly valid fear? All too often.
Here, then, is the take-away of the Gates affair: apparently every black man knows what that fear is like, be he professor, preacher, pundit.
(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Editor's comment: Really folks, the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution permits Professor Henry Louis Gates, Junior, to tell Sergent Crowley to leave his home and go screw himself.
If you doubt it, you can google the Fourth Amendment.
Labels: General information
Lynn Sweet: Louis Gates' Question Was Not Planted. Yes Lynn, But The NUTTY Folks Will Choose Not To Believe You!
Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin are entitled to their opinions, which they have plenty of -- in this case about President Obama and his reaction to the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. by Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley. They are not, however, to paraphrase the late Sen. Patrick Moynihan, entitled to their own facts, or entitled to invent a scenario in which the White House somehow prompted me to ask Obama about Gates at his press conference last week.
Ann, Michelle, can we get a beer on this? I'll pay. I'll take an Amstel Light. What are your brews? Because gals, you need to look elsewhere for a new conspiracy. Coulter said on FOX News that Obama "had that question planted." She added, "I do have proof." On NBC's "Today Show" on Wednesday morning, host Matt Lauer, asked Malkin, "Do you think this was a planned question?" Replied Malkin, "Absolutely do."
You are both wrong. The Obama White House did not have a clue what I would be asking. (And why again would they want to plant a question that would take him off his health-care message, a question that was likely to get him in hot water, and did?)
The backstory: At Obama's July 22 press conference, I asked Obama about the July 16 arrest of Gates, a noted African-American-studies scholar at Harvard. The arrest had been in the national news, and I asked, "What does that incident say to you? And what does it say about race relations in America?"
Obama triggered an uproar because in answer to my question, he said, "The Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home."
By Friday Obama had pulled back from that volatile word, invited Gates and Crowley to the White House and said he wanted to turn this episode into a "teachable" moment when all of them get together with a beer on Thursday.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed on Wednesday that Obama will be drinking Bud Light, Gates will have a Red Stripe and Crowley will be downing a Blue Moon.
Last week, a lot of readers and viewers asked me why and how I came to ask about Gates and many wanted to know if the White House knew my question in advance.
So here it is, the inside scoop: I first got the idea to ask Obama about his reaction to the Gates arrest while on the treadmill at my gym. On the morning PoliticsDaily conference call, my PoliticsDaily colleagues were also talking about asking Obama about Gates and the Cambridge cop if PoliticsDaily was called on at the press conference, because it might elicit something human and real rather than just more health-care talking points. And whatever Obama's reply, it would be news.
The White House didn't need a heads-up from me or anyone else to expect a question about Gates, since the arrest was so much in the national news.
Bret Baier on "FOX News Sunday" asked Gibbs, "Before Wednesday's news conference, did you prepare him for a question about Henry Gates' arrest in Cambridge?"
Replied Gibbs, "Well, look, let's just say, it's safe to say we went over a whole lot of topics that we thought might come up, and certainly, this was a topic that was and has been in the news."
I got a call from the White House about 6:30 p.m. July 22 confirming that indeed I was going to attend the 8 p.m. press conference. I was told I "may" get a question. That was it. End of conversation.
Before leaving for Costa Rica for a family wedding on Friday, I wrote a column about how and why I asked the question because I received many queries from readers and viewers. I wrote what I thought were simple, declarative sentences: "No one asked me -- directly or indirectly -- about what I may be asking. No one from the White House tried to plant any question."
The idea that the Obama media machine would try to plant that question -- or any question-- with me is nutty. If they had, my story would have been about their effort to plant a question. And again, why would they have even tried to orchestrate such an off-message query? By the time Coulter and Malkin spoke with such certainty, I had already said that Obama did not have a clue about what I would be asking.
Obama will hoist a beer with Crowley and Gates Thursday to show, I think, that sometimes people say things they regret. The "teachable" moment may be that conversations don't have to be stuck in the loop of a soundbite.
Obama is trying to take a lemon and make it, well, to paraphrase another famous quote, a beer.
Ladies, can we do the same?
Lynn Sweet is a columnist for PoliticsDaily.com and writes the Daily FLOTUS blog on First Lady Michelle Obama. She is also Washington Bureau Chief of the Chicago Sun-Times and has reported extensively on President Obama, following his U.S. Senate campaign, his Senate years and presidential bid. She now covers his administration.
Sweet is a frequent guest on MSNBC, CNN and FOX News and other broadcast outlets.
Labels: Keeping them honest
Tennessee Republican U. S. Senator And Third Highest Ranked, Lamar Alexander, Will Vote For Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Hurray For Courage. Watch Video.
Breaking Michael Jackson News: Mom Katherine Gets Custody, Debbie Rowe Gets Visitation, Plus Psychologist For Children!
Watch news video below:
Read more from TMZ, where you'll get this nugget:
TMZ has learned Debbie Rowe has settled her custody issues over Michael Jackson's children and it doesn't involve a single penny ... but it does involve a shrink.
Sources tell us, Rowe has agreed that Katherine Jackson will be the guardian of Michael's children, subject to the judge's approval.
Rowe will get visitation of the two children she had with Michael.
But here's what's interesting -- Rowe wants and will get a psychologist who will visit the children and help them adjust to her being in their lives on a meaningful basis.
Rowe will maintain her parental rights. We're told the agreement does not specify the amount of visitation.
The agreement says Rowe has no parental rights to Blanket, Jackson's youngest child.
Clarence Page: "[POTUS Barack] Obama Haters' Disorder".
By Clarence Page
As congressional lawmakers return to their home districts for August recess, they could find a creature from Washington's silly season waiting for them: the “birthers.”
That's the nickname given to the odd activists who refuse to believe that President Obama qualifies as a “natural-born citizen.”
The “birther” nickname is half-adapted from the 9/11 “truthers” who hounded the previous administration, blaming shadowy homegrown conspiracies for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
I have a different nickname for both groups: sore losers.
Obama's victory, like that of his predecessor, was too unexpected for some people to wrap their minds around, but we always have our imaginations — which in some cases have no limits.
Respect for facts did not help U.S. Rep. Mike Castle when the Delaware Republican's recent town hall meeting was disrupted by a woman who demanded to know why Congress was “ignoring” questions about Obama's birth certificate.
They're ignoring the “questions” because the questions have been put to rest in most stable people's minds. For example, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of Hawaii's State Department of Health, has reiterated her earlier declaration that she has seen the “original vital records” of Obama's Hawaii birth with her own eyes, contrary to the birthers' charges of a phony document. Hawaii newspapers also have printed photos of the 1961 announcement of Obama's birth. If there's a cover-up, this one has been running for decades.
But when Castle countered that Obama is, in fact, “a citizen of the United States,” the crowd didn't like that. Some erupted in boos. The woman took control and led a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Within days, the video went viral, helped along by TV news programs, and threw a chill down the spines of congressmen preparing to face other groups back in their own districts.
Birther leader Orly Taitz, a California attorney and dentist, has posted the hope on her blog that “each and every decent American comes to town hall meetings with a video camera and demands action.” If so, they'll probably do Democrats a big favor. Disrupters of meetings in Democratic districts are likely to be hooted down or thrown out. Congressional Republicans had better be prepared to offer more satisfying answers than Castle gave.
But what? The best they can do is try to change the subject to some of the many more urgent issues facing Americans, like two wars, the economy and the big debate to restructure health care. The Obama birth conspiracy theorists will never be satisfied by something so humble as mere facts.
What's with these suspicious minds? Why is there such an insistence, even after his birth certificate is produced, to have Obama produce even more?
I am hardly alone in my impression that at least some of the “birther” movement is a new hood under which racism can hide its ugly face. But, looking at history, I also detect a broader illness: xenophobia, a distrust of people who come from somebody else's crowd.
That's why I call them sore losers. Unable to challenge his vote, they challenge his legitimacy. The birther challenges to Obama remind me of the bad old days of Jim Crow segregation in the South, with “literacy tests” (Sample question: How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?) and other outlandish challenges to black voter eligibility.
But my fellow African Americans sometimes show more than our share of paranoia, too. Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan has claimed an unnamed “witness” saw New Orleans levees blown up on purpose to flood black neighborhoods, exonerating Hurricane Katrina. Polls also showed a widely held belief among black Americans in the 1990s that AIDS was created in a genocidal conspiracy against blacks.
Skepticism is healthy, but I guess I'm old-fashioned in my nagging respect for the weight of evidence over speculation.
But the best response to the endless questions raised by the sore-loser movement is to put the burden of proof back on them. Obama's disbelievers in my experience don't really try to win the argument. They only want to arouse suspicion.
Clarence Page is a columnist with the Chicago Tribune. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
"But the best response to the endless questions raised by the sore-loser movement is to put the burden of proof back on them. Obama's disbelievers in my experience don't really try to win the argument. They only want to arouse suspicion."
Mr. Page, please know this:
there are IDIOTS everywhere you look.
Labels: General information
And Joel Pett Captures The Essence Of Republicans (GOP) Waiting For The Pendulum To Swing. LOL.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Watch Colin Powell On Republican Party And Rush Limpbaugh Then And Now, Plus SILLY Sarah Failin' (Palin), Henry Louis Gates And Sgt. James Crowley.
GOP Official, Tom Davis: Republican Party Has "Become A Rural And Southern Party". Hmmmn Ahem.
How Many Of You Still REFUSE To Believe That Cops Fabricate Evidence? Watch Video.
Lexington Herald Leader Editorial "Hits The Nail On The Head" On Jim Bunning's Decision To Abandon Re-Election. Read More Below.
The money has spoken.
Despite his earlier insistence that he would stay in the race for re-election, Sen. Jim Bunning has thrown in the towel.
Not-so-subtle signs from Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell did the trick as Republican money migrated to Secretary of State Trey Grayson's exploratory committee.
Bunning, who is 77 and went to Congress 23 years ago to represent Northern Kentucky's 4th District, blamed Senate Republican leaders for doing "everything in their power to dry up my fund-raising."
One hundred former Bunning donors, including some of his staunchest allies, had given to Grayson, The Courier-Journal reported Sunday.
Despite the financial disadvantage, Bunning probably would have won a primary, especially since Grayson had said he would not run if Bunning sought re-election.
Republicans do stand a better chance of keeping the seat with the volatile, gaffe-prone Bunning off the ballot, even with Bunning's strong support in Northern Kentucky and his reputation for standing fast to his beliefs.
This concession to the almighty dollar by one of the orneriest men in politics (or major league baseball) should remove any doubt about what really drives modern American politicking.
Labels: General information
Ruth Marcus: A Route To [Healthcare] Reform?
By Ruth Marcus
WASHINGTON — If only Democrats and Republicans could get together and produce a health care bill that would expand coverage and control costs.
But wait — there is such a proposal. In fact, there are two.
The first, which would in a more perfect world be my preference, is the measure devised by the odd couple of the Senate, Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Robert Bennett of Utah. This bill not only has the merit of being demonstrably bipartisan but has been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as fully paid for.
The problem is that the Wyden-Bennett plan would essentially blow up the existing, although rickety, system of employer-sponsored insurance, which is both the substantive attraction and the political drawback.
Under Wyden-Bennett, states would set up purchasing pools through which individuals would obtain insurance. Employers could still offer theirs, but that would probably dwindle over time. Individuals would be required to get coverage, with subsidies to those with lower incomes; Medicaid would be eliminated in favor of full subsidies for the poorest Americans. The subsidies would be financed by ending the current tax-free treatment of employer-provided health insurance, a move that has the added benefit of constraining costs.
These would be huge changes, which may be why, despite its sponsors' indefatigable efforts, the proposal hasn't gotten added traction.
There is, however, a more politically sustainable deficit-neutral alternative, crafted by three former Senate majority leaders — Democrat Tom Daschle, President Obama's erstwhile choice as health care czar, and Republicans Bob Dole and Howard Baker. Staffing the work for the Bipartisan Policy Center were Chris Jennings, a veteran of the Clinton health reform efforts, and Mark McClellan, who ran the Medicare and Medicaid programs under George W. Bush.
If Wyden-Bennett is the equivalent of a tear-down of the health care system, the Bipartisan Policy Center proposal is more of an extensive renovation.
And — have I mentioned this? — a bipartisan one.
It was released last month, to praise from the leadership of the Senate Finance Committee, Montana Democrat Max Baucus and Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, but more muted murmurings from the White House.
It's time to take another look. To switch from a real estate metaphor to a romantic one, the Bipartisan Policy Center proposal is like the nice guy you weren't thrilled about dating. He started to look a lot better after you tried some of the alternatives.
The group finessed one hot-button issue, whether there should be a public plan to compete with private insurers, by giving states the option of establishing their own public plans and providing for the option of a federal plan if state-level efforts don't work.
It further ticked off Democratic allies — especially labor unions — by proposing to limit the amount of health insurance that employers can provide tax-free; cleverly, the cap would be linked to the value of the federal insurance plan, and some of the sting would be reduced by exempting retirees and those covered by existing labor agreements.
Republicans, for their part, would have to swallow not only a mandate that individuals purchase insurance but also a requirement that employers offer coverage or pay a certain percentage of their payroll (maximum 3 percent, compared to 8 percent in the House bill). The proposal would also subsidize premiums for families earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level — $88,000 for a family of four.
You may dispute the entire premise of this column — that bipartisanship is essential to this enterprise — and argue that Democrats, with firm control of both houses, should get everything they want.
My answer is that, it's not so firm. The current standoff with Blue Dog Democrats suggests the need for some compromise, and the 60-vote Senate Democratic majority is far from monolithic. In the longer term, Democrats-only health reform is a perilous enterprise; the risk of being blamed exceeds the chances for political reward.
Right now, scrambling to live up to the President's promises of health reform that will be fully paid for and bend the long-term cost curve, negotiators are trying all sorts of back-door routes to responsibility, such as imposing an excise tax on insurers and hoping that the effects trickle down to deter the purchase of Cadillac coverage.
Tom Daschle showed that the front door is open. Bob Dole and Howard Baker showed that they could walk through it. Won't President Obama take another look — and join them?
Ruth Marcus is a columnist for The Washington Post. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Labels: General information
Sorry For Slow Postings Today, So Let's Catch Up, Shall We?: Tom Sowell Continues To Hate On POTUS Barack Obama. Read More.
By Thomas Sowell
Many people hoped that the election of a black President of the United States would mark our entering a “post-racial” era, when we could finally put some ugly aspects of our history behind us.
That is quite understandable. But it takes two to tango. Those of us who want to see racism on its way out need to realize that others benefit greatly from crying racism. They benefit politically, financially, and socially.
Barack Obama has been allied with such people for decades. He found it expedient to appeal to a wider electorate as a post-racial candidate, just as he has found it expedient to say a lot of other popular things — about campaign finance, about transparency in government, about not rushing legislation through Congress without having it first posted on the Internet long enough to be studied — all of which turned to be the direct opposite of what he actually did after getting elected.
Those who were shocked at President Obama's cheap shot at the Cambridge police for being “stupid” in arresting Henry Louis Gates must have been among those who let their wishes prevail over the obvious implications of Obama's 20 years of association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Anyone who can believe that Obama did not understand what the racist rants of Wright meant can believe anything.
With race — as with campaign finance, transparency and the rest — Obama knows what the public wants to hear and that is what he has said. But his policies as President have been the opposite of his rhetoric, with race as with other issues.
As a state senator in Illinois, Obama pushed the “racial profiling” issue, so it is hardly surprising that he jumped to the conclusion that a policeman was racial profiling when in fact the cop was investigating a report received from a neighbor that someone seemed to be breaking into the house that Professor Gates was renting in Cambridge.
For those who are interested in facts — and these obviously do not include Obama — there has been a serious study of racial profiling in a book titled Are Cops Racist? by Heather Mac Donald. Her analysis of the data shows how this issue has long been distorted beyond recognition by politics.
The racial profiling issue is a great vote-getter. And if it polarizes the society, that is a price that politicians are willing to pay in order to get votes. Academics who run black studies departments, as Henry Louis Gates does, likewise have a vested interest in racial paranoia.
For “community organizers” as well, racial resentments are a stock in trade. Obama's background as a community organizer has received far too little attention, though it should have been a high-alert warning that this was no post-racial figure.
What does a community organizer do? What he does not do is organize a community. What he organizes are the resentments and paranoia within a community, directing those feelings against other communities, from whom either benefits or revenge are to be gotten, using whatever rhetoric or tactics will accomplish that purpose.
To think that someone who has spent years promoting grievance and polarization was going to bring us all together as president is a triumph of wishful thinking over reality.
Not only Obama's past, but his present, tell the same story. His appointment of an attorney general who called America “a nation of cowards” for not dialoguing about race was a foretaste of what to expect from Eric Holder.
The way Attorney General Holder has refused to prosecute young black thugs who gathered at a voting site with menacing clubs, in blatant violation of federal laws against intimidating voters, speaks louder than any words from him or his president.
Obama's first nominee to the Supreme Court is, like Obama himself, someone with a background of years of affiliation with an organization dedicated to promoting racial resentments and a sense of racial entitlement.
An 18th Century philosopher said, “When I speak I put on a mask. When I act I am forced to take it off.” Barack Obama's mask slipped for a moment last week but he quickly recovered, with the help of the media. But we should never forget what we saw.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He writes a column for Creators Syndicate.
Labels: General information
Louisville Courier Journal Editorial: "... Like The Baseball Umpires Who Governed His Earlier Career, [Jim Bunning] Called Them The Way He Saw Them."
Bashing politicians simply for being politicians may be fashionable, but it isn't fair. Public service is hard and often thankless work, and any honest person who devotes three decades of his life to that calling deserves his constituents' thanks.
Jim Bunning is no exception. We have differed with Kentucky's junior senator frequently and sometimes heatedly over the years. But there can be no doubt that like the baseball umpires who governed his earlier career, he called them the way he saw them.
His decision to retire when his second Senate term expires at the end of 2010 was doubtless difficult for Mr. Bunning. He was a fierce competitor as a Hall of Fame pitcher, and he has exhibited the same qualities in politics.
There can be little question that his departure reflects his recognition that his colleague, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and other Republican leaders have succeeded in pushing him aside by drying up the flow of campaign contributions to him from usually reliable GOP sources. Sen. Bunning had made little effort to mask his anger over their efforts.
While political departures inevitably evoke regret in some quarters, however, they also present opportunities for better representation.
Without rehashing old battles, it's fair to say that Sen. Bunning's emphasis was on opposition, especially to almost any program and proposal that had a Democrat in its lineage. There is little important legislation that bears Sen. Bunning's imprint, and Mr. Bunning developed scant policy expertise. Combined with increasingly erratic behavior in recent years, his record had pushed his approval ratings to levels that made re-election next year unlikely.
That situation is transformed. An energetic Republican nominee with less ideological baggage — such as Secretary of State Trey Grayson — would be a much stronger candidate next year. The Democrats seem headed for a spirited primary between Attorney General Jack Conway and Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo. Whichever candidates emerge in the general election, Kentuckians can reasonably anticipate a constructive debate on the challenges facing the nation and state.
While giving Sen. Bunning his due for his service, the state should benefit from the changes on the political horizon.
Editor's comment: "But there can be no doubt that like the baseball umpires who governed his earlier career, he called them the way he saw them."
YEP, and that's an admirable trait.
Laugh at the cartoon below:
Labels: Fitting tribute
Kelly Downard Won't Run For Mayor. Can We Hear An Official Statement From My Friend Steve Pence?! He'd Make An EXCELLENT Choice For Mayor.
Downard won't run for mayor
By Dan Klepal
Louisville Metro Councilman Kelly Downard, a persistent critic of Mayor Jerry Abramson who unsuccessfully challenged him in the 2006 election, announced Wednesday that he will not make another race for the office in 2010.
Downard, a Republican who represents the 16th District, said there are already “many qualified persons” interested in running for the office, which Abramson is vacating so he can run for lieutenant governor on a Democratic ticket with Gov. Steve Beshear in 2011.
“In 2006 I chose to run because I felt change was needed and that this community deserved a fresh voice in local government,” Downard said in a prepared statement. “Many qualified persons have already announced their interest in leading our community.
“These bright, qualified new leaders have given me the assurance that a new team will be leading our city as we try to reclaim our spot as a leader among our competitor cities.”
The only person who has announced for the mayoral race is Louisville businessman Greg Fischer, a Democrat. He lost a primary race for the U.S. Senate in 2008.
Metro Council President David Tandy, councilman Jim King and businessman Tyler Allen have said they are considering running in the Democratic primary.
Attorney Steve Pence could be the most likely Republican to run, although Sen. Dan Seum, R-Louisville, has said he is considering the race.
Nick Anderson Captures The Essence Of SILLY Sarah Failin' (Palin's) World. LOL
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Bunny WALKS Like A Human. Watch Video.
WTF: Henry Louis Gates Junior And Cambridge Cop Sgt. James Crowley Are Related. No Kidding.
TALL TALES Of SILLY Sarah Failin' (Palin). Watch Video.
Labels: SILLY Sarah Failin'
The Constitution Was NO Obstacle For Dick "Fu^K You" Cheney. Watch Video.
Labels: The Constitution
Police Raid Home And Office Of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal", Dr. Conrad Murray. Watch Video.
Republican U. S. Senator Lindsey Graham Votes His Conscience, As Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Judge Sonia Sotomayor 13 To 6. Watch Video.
A Newspaper GIANT Exits The Stage. Farewell To Courier Journal's David Hawpe.
David Hawpe retires as Courier-Journal editorial director
By The Courier-Journal
David Hawpe, editorial director of The Courier-Journal since 1996, is retiring from the newspaper after 40 years.
“David has been an iconic figure at the newspaper and in the state and region,” Executive Editor Bennie Ivory said in an e-mail to the staff Tuesday announcing Hawpe's decision. “Through his editorials and columns, he has been the voice and conscience of The Courier-Journal.”
“He has been a strong advocate for high ethics and diversity initiatives throughout his career,” Ivory said.
His retirement is effective Aug. 14.
“It's a great week for liberals and conservatives both,” Hawpe said. “Jim Bunning and David Hawpe going out at the same time.”
Hawpe started as a reporter in the Hazard bureau in November 1969. He later became an editorial writer, assistant regional editor, managing editor and editor of The Courier-Journal. He also served as city editor of the afternoon newspaper The Louisville Times.
The newspaper won four Pulitzer prizes under his direction.
“It's been great to have leadership opportunities at my hometown newspaper for such a long time, and, I hope, to help make a difference for the community we serve,” Hawpe said. “I don't think I could have asked for more than this in a journalism career.”
Hawpe was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard and served as president of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association.
He was also a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. He is a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.
A successor will be appointed at a later date, Ivory said.
Cal Thomas: . . . Blame Liberals For Profiling.
By Cal Thomas
“I hate to admit it, but I have reached a stage in my life that if I am walking down a dark street late at night and I see that the person behind me is white, I subconsciously feel relieved.”
The Rev. JESSE JACKSON
Slavery and racism have been like a soiled garment that America has diligently and at great expense tried to wipe clean. President Obama acknowledged at his news conference last week that America has made “great progress” in the direction of racial reconciliation and he is living proof of that.
Having acknowledged these truths, what should be learned from the incident in Cambridge, Mass., in which African-American scholar Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. was arrested in his home after a neighbor, Lucia Whalen, called 911 to report “two men” on Gates' porch trying to force open the front door? According to a statement issued by her attorney and backed by Robert Haas, commissioner of the Cambridge Police, she did not mention the race of the two men.
If Whalen were African American would that change the dynamic of the conversation we're having? That two of the officers who came to Gates' home were minorities — one African-American, one Hispanic — apparently doesn't count because the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, is white. It also doesn't count that Crowley teaches a class on racial profiling and that he was named to that post by his boss, an African American, who attests to his non-racist bona fides.
Like President Obama, I know Skip Gates. He recently gave me a personal tour of the African-American museum at Harvard after we had corresponded about his excellent PBS program “African-American Lives.” Gates is a classy guy with excellent social skills and a sharp mind.
Also like President Obama, I wasn't at the scene of the Cambridge confrontation. If one accepts the police report, Gates apparently said things he ought not to have said. Is that understandable? It is certainly human nature. I sometimes get upset when “profiled” by Transportation Security Administration employees because I've had difficulty getting off a terrorist suspect list. It is tempting to say, “If I were a terrorist shouting ‘death to America' you'd probably let me go through,” but because I know it would do no good and that I could be arrested and miss my flight, I hold my tongue.
To the larger point made by Gates and the President about blacks disproportionately singled out for stops and arrests because of their race: The media have some responsibility in this. Most news reports show blacks as the perpetrators or victims of violent crime. Most news interviews with black mothers (and many TV commercials) have no man in the picture, because in far too many cases there isn't one. He is either the absent father, deceased or in prison.
Much of the violent crime in America occurs in low-income neighborhoods. Race isn't the cause of these crimes; a social system put in place by liberal Democrats is to blame. That system does not encourage minorities to succeed. It enables them in their victimhood and sense of impoverishment. Liberal Democrats refuse to allow poor black children to escape failing government schools. The welfare system, revised by a Republican Congress and reluctantly signed into law by President Bill Clinton, has doomed several generations of African Americans to misery, complacency and despondency. Black children who do succeed are accused of “acting white” and urged to fall back into the cycle of failure experienced by many of their friends.
President Obama properly apologized to Sgt. Crowley and his department for suggesting they acted “stupidly.” He is also doing the right thing by inviting Professor Gates and the officer to the White House for what one hopes will be a moment of reconciliation. He thankfully has begun (at the recent NAACP convention) to attack the underpinnings of an attitude that still reigns in much of the black community: that failure is someone else's fault. Black people who have succeeded by playing according to race-neutral rules are testimony to the lie behind that claim.
Cal Thomas is a columnist with Tribune Media Services. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Eugene Robinson: A Racial Power Equation . . .
By Eugene Robinson
WASHINGTON — If race were the only issue, there would be much less hyperventilation about Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s unpleasant run-in with the criminal justice system. After all, it would hardly be the first time a black man had unjustly been hauled to jail by a white police officer. The debate — really more of a shouting match — is also about power and entitlement.
This is a new twist. Since the triumph of the civil rights movement, minorities have been moving up the ladder in politics, business, academia, just about every field. Only in the past decade, however, has a sizable cohort of African Americans and Latinos broken through to the tiny upper echelons where real power is exercised.
I'm talking about President Obama, obviously, but also Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons, entertainment mogul Oprah Winfrey, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and many others — a growing number of minorities with the kind of serious power that used to be reserved for whites only. In academia, the list begins with “Skip” Gates.
He's a superstar, one of the best-known and most highly acclaimed faculty members at the nation's most prestigious university. A few years ago, when he made noises about leaving, Harvard moved heaven and earth to keep him. The incident that led to his arrest occurred as he was coming home from the airport after a trip to China for his latest PBS documentary. Following the traumatic encounter, he repaired to Martha's Vineyard to recuperate. This is how the man rolls.
Obama's choice of words might not have been politic, but he was merely stating the obvious when he said the police behaved “stupidly.” Gates is 58, stands maybe 5-feet-7 and weighs about 150 pounds. He has a disability and walks with a cane. By the time Sgt. James Crowley made the arrest, he had already assured himself that Gates was in his own home. Crowley could see that the professor posed no threat to anybody.
But for the sake of argument, let's assume that Crowley's version of the incident is true — that Gates, from the outset, was accusatory, aggressive and even obnoxious, addressing the officer with an air of highhanded superiority. Let's assume he really recited the Big Cheese mantra: “You have no idea who you're messing with.”
I lived in Cambridge for a year, and I can attest that meeting a famous Harvard professor who happens to be arrogant is like meeting a famous basketball player who happens to be tall. It's not exactly a surprise. Crowley wouldn't have lasted a week on the force, much less made sergeant, if he had tried to arrest every member of the Harvard community who treated him as if he belonged to an inferior species. Yet instead of walking away, Crowley arrested Gates as he stepped onto the front porch of his own house.
Apparently, there was something about the power relationship involved — uppity, jet-setting black professor vs. regular-guy, working-class white cop — that Crowley couldn't abide. Judging by the overheated commentary that followed, that same something, whatever it might be, also makes conservatives forget that they believe in individual rights and oppose intrusive state power.
There was a similar case of collective amnesia at the Sotomayor hearings. Republican senators, faced with a judge who follows precedent and eschews making new law from the bench, forgot that this is the judicial philosophy they advocate. The odd and inappropriate line of questioning by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., about Sotomayor's temperament was widely seen as sexist, and indeed it was. But I suspect the racial or ethnic power equation was also a factor — the idea of a sharp-tongued “wise Latina” making nervous attorneys, some of them white male attorneys, fumble and squirm.
Is a man of Gates' station entitled to puff himself up and remind a policeman that he's dealing with someone who has juice? Is a woman of Sotomayor's accomplishment entitled to humiliate a lawyer who came to court unprepared? No more and no less entitled, surely, than all the Big Cheeses who came before them.
Yet Gates' fit of pique somehow became cause for arrest. I can't prove that if the Big Cheese in question had been a famous, brilliant Harvard professor who happened to be white — say, presidential adviser Larry Summers, who's on leave from the university — the outcome would have been different. I'd put money on it, though. Anybody wanna bet?
Eugene Robinson is a Washington Post columnist. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clarence Page: "[Henry Louis] Gates' Crime? Contempt Of Cop". I AGREE!
Gates' crime? Contempt of cop
By Clarence Page
I disagree with President Obama.
I don't think the Cambridge, Mass., police officer who arrested Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr., for “disorderly conduct” in his own home acted “stupidly.” Sgt. James M. Crowley's use of legal force was excessive, in my view, yet well tailored to fit Gates' real offense in the police sergeant's eyes: “Contempt of cop.”
As just about everyone on the planet knows by now, Sgt. Crowley visited Gates in his home to find out if he really lived there. A female passerby had seen Gates and another man forcing open the stuck front door of his own home and summoned police for a possible burglary. The sergeant says the scholar repeatedly accused him of racism and made derogatory remarks about his mother, to wit: “Yeah, I'll speak to your mama when we get outside.” Not nice.
But Gates and his lawyer dispute Crowley's account, calling it exaggerated and partly fabricated. After Gates was released and the charges were dropped, President Obama rekindled the controversy by saying Cambridge police “acted stupidly,” during the encounter. Obama later backpedaled a bit. He called the sergeant “an outstanding police officer,” yet maintained that “it would have been better if cooler heads had prevailed.” Indeed, it would. But that's not easy when two versions of pride come into conflict.
Obama knows Gates as I do, as a jolly 58-year-old scholar and multimedia star who walks with a cane. If he was “loud and tumultuous,” as Crowley claims — and that Gates disputes — I would not excuse such behavior. Nevertheless, I would argue that he hardly poses a physical threat as long as he does not swing his cane at you.
Yet it is not hard for me to believe he might lose at least a little of his cool after arriving home tired and jetlagged from a trip to China, only to find a police officer checking him out to see if he really lived in that nice neighborhood.
So does Paul Butler, a black George Washington University law professor and former Washington, D.C., prosecutor who has seen other minor misunderstandings explode into a blamestorm, especially when they involve possible prejudgment by race.
“The police were right to investigate the call,” he said. “The former prosecutor in me says the police have to ask who you are and what you are doing. It is an unpleasant aspect of urban policing. … But I can certainly understand how in your own home you reach a tipping point and you feel as though you have had enough — and I understand how it would make a black man ‘loud and tumultuous.'”
Or as the late Lu Palmer, a black political journalist-activist I used to cover in Chicago, used to say, some situations are “enough to make a Negro turn black!” Even the biracial and normally reserved Obama seemed to be speaking from that black cultural memory as he perhaps-too-quickly attached “racial profiling” to this incident before he knew all the facts.
Like Obama, Butler is a Harvard Law School graduate and, like Gates, he has been arrested for a crime that, in his case, he did not commit. In his clever and remarkably even-handed book, Let's Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice, Butler recounts his experiences with admirable evenhanded toward racial profilers and the profiled. It is understandable to take race into account sometimes, he allows, but it should never be the sole reason why you suspect someone.
Yet he does not call Gates-gate a classic case of racial profiling. In the world of civilian-police relations, says Butler, it was more of a classic “Who's the Man?” contest. Racial or not, he told me, the incident stopped being good policing and became a Who's-the-Man episode after Gates handed over his I.D. As Crowley prepared to leave, according to his own arrest report, which has been posted on thesmokinggun.com , Gates kept yelling at him.
That's the point when the officer should turn around and leave,” Butler said. “You know the man is going to be yelling at you, but you leave.” Maybe so, but, according to Crowley, Gates was yelling at him in front of his fellow police officers. In long-standing police-civilian etiquette, that's “contempt of cop.” You disrespect the police officer, the officer has ways of showing you that he has a longer billy club.
In that sense, Crowley and the other officers probably never expected Gates' arrest to hold up and it didn't. Now people across the country, including me, are arguing about what happened as if we were there in Gates' house and can read the minds of everyone involved. Based on our own experiences, it is easy to feel as if we were, even when we only fool ourselves.
Clarence Page is a columnist with the Chicago Tribune. His email address is email@example.com.
Breaking News: NOW Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal", Dr. Conrad Murray, Admits To Police He Gave Him Propofol Before Death.
Breaking News: Watch Videos And Listen To The 911 Call Of The Henry Louis Gates Vs, Cambridge Police Sargent James Crowley Saga.
Editor's comment: COOLER heads should have prevailed on both sides of this saga.
FYI: notice, if you will, for those of you who did not know it, the caller who prompted the cop's presence NEVER mentioned race.
So for me, this revelation is eye opening, because it suggests no racial animus for the call, which is what likely caused Dr. Gates' expected reaction.
Labels: General information
This Cartoon From Joel Pett Is WAAAAAAAY Funny, And So Are These Other Ones. I'm Still Laughing.
Monday, July 27, 2009
More On Jim Bunning's Poltical Exit From The Senate.
WASHINGTON — For months, Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning bemoaned the state of his re-election war chest and blamed his fellow Kentuckian, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn of Texas for casting doubt about whether Bunning would stay in the race.
Even in the face of mounting political pressure, Bunning, who as a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies and Detroit Tigers famously ignored catchers' signs when they came from the manager, vowed to stay in.
Now, he's out.
Bunning announced Monday that he's ending his bid for a third term, bringing to a close a multimonth-long saga that pitted the 77-year-old Hall of Famer against a Republican leadership that sent strong signals that he should step aside for the good of the party.
"Unfortunately, running for office is not just about the issues," Bunning said in a statement Monday. "To win a general election, a candidate has to be able to raise millions of dollars to get the message out to voters. Over the past year, some of the leaders of the Republican Party in the Senate have done everything in their power to dry up my fundraising.
"The simple fact is that I have not raised the funds necessary to run an effective campaign for the U.S. Senate," Bunning said. "For this reason, I will not be a candidate for re-election in 2010."
For the better part of the year, speculation swirled that Bunning, who over the past three months raised $302,467 for his re-election campaign, eventually would have to quit the race.
Bunning raised about half the amount that his political protege and potential Republican challenger Trey Grayson, Kentucky's secretary of state, raised in the same period. Of the four top contenders for Bunning's seat, the incumbent raised the least during the second quarter of the year. Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway says he pulled in $1.32 million, compared with $602,699 for Grayson and $302,993 for Democratic Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo.
Money woes weren't Bunning's only problems, however. The tension between Bunning and McConnell grew palpable.
At public events, the two Kentucky senators kept a cool and cordial distance. From their respective corners, however, the two men sparred.
McConnell publicly questioned "who the players are going to be in Kentucky" and, according to Bunning, during a December meeting the minority leader told the state's junior senator that he was "too old to run for re-election."
"McConnell treats friends like some people treat Pampers — disposable," said Lexington attorney Larry Forgy, who's a friend of Bunning's. "I'm sorry he treated Bunning this way, doing everything he could to keep campaign money from coming his way."
McConnell was politic on Monday.
"Jim has enjoyed two Hall of Fame-worthy careers, and I am honored to have worked by his side in the Senate for the past several years," McConnell said in a statement. "His steadfast focus on serving the people of the commonwealth has been as unwavering as his conservative ideals. Kentucky is a far better place because of his service."
Bunning also accused the National Republican Senatorial Committee of trying to court primary challengers when members of that group met with state Senate President David Williams in February. Cornyn said the meeting was a "courtesy visit" and that the party would back Bunning in a contested primary.
On Monday, Cornyn was laudatory.
"For over 20 years, Senator Jim Bunning has been a principled leader in Congress who has served his state and its people well," Cornyn said in a statement. "He has always been a leader who has put Kentucky first."
The outcome of the Kentucky race will have national implications. Many political analysts consider the U.S. Senate race in the Republican-leaning state a toss-up.
In 2010, the Republican Party, which currently has 40 Senate seats, will have to defend 19 of those. Several Republicans, including Mel Martinez of Florida, Sam Brownback of Kansas, and Kit Bond of Missouri, have announced that they won't seek re-election in 2010. Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is running for governor in Texas in 2010.
Over the past two elections, Republicans lost 13 Senate and 51 House seats. The party's base is shrinking as a percentage of the overall vote, and Democratic voter registration is on the rise.
Grayson, 37, and a rising star in the Republican Party, is widely seen the GOP's best hope of keeping the seat. The Democrats, on the other hand, may have a much more contentious primary field to clear.
"Let's see what Grayson can do now that Bunning isn't there," said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor at the Cook Political Report. "My guess is that he’s going to find things get easier for him. The NRSC can now help him and he can get some national money."
(Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald-Leader contributed to this article.)