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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Louisville Courier Journal Editorial: America Needs To Stand Down, And Stand Back, From The Hate. I TOTALLY AGREE!

Fighting hatred

For anyone following the growth in fringe groups in the United States of America, the news that members of a Midwestern Christian militia were arrested over the weekend for anti-government plots was shocking — but hardly surprising.

Watchdog organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have been warning Americans for almost a year that a faltering economy, polarizing political issues such as health care reform and gay marriage, the erosion of civil discourse and the advent of the nation's first black president were recruiting points for hate, “patriot,” nativist, anti-government and other right-wing militia groups.

Just this month, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported increases in the numbers of all those groups, including a 244 percent increase in the number of “patriot” groups in a year's time — from 149 groups in 2008 to 512 groups in 2009. Paramilitary militias, such as the Hutaree group (including members from Ohio and Indiana) that was busted over the weekend, were a big part of that growth.

More frightening than that, though, is the appearance in the mainstream of what were previously fringe ideas or expressions. It is one thing for conspiracy theory-fed, End Times warriors to believe the President is a socialist, the anti-Christ and not a citizen. It is quite another for disturbingly sizable numbers of Republicans, members of a so-called major political party, to believe the same thing — as a recent survey showed.

Even the most ardent of Sarah Palin's fans must have blanched when, amid some of the most toxic political exchanges in memory, she used gun sights and words such as “reload” to galvanize support in unseating incumbents. Equally troubling was that John McCain, in a tough re-election season, excused her verbiage, which furthered his descent from respectability. Ms. Palin's disgrace is that she didn't back away from her mob appeal — unlike a militia leader in Arizona, who had the smarts to disband her border watch group last week after she said her “locked, loaded and ready” invitation might attract the wrong people. (As if; that already happened, when a woman with ties to the “defense corps” was charged with double murder a while back.)

Yes, people in the United States have the guaranteed freedoms of association, assembly, speech and gun ownership. Militias can form and howl at the moon if they want — but they can't break the law.

There are signs that something dangerous is afoot. The FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force that broke up a heartland plot to kill police officers and start a war against the United States, is a piece of it. So are the watchdog groups' reports.

America needs to stand down, and stand back, from the hate.


BREAKING News: U. S. Supreme Court Rules That It Is A Violation Of The 6Th Amendment To NOT Tell Accused Of Immigration Risk Of Criminal Conviction.

The case is Padilla v. Kentucky, 08-651.Ch

Check out the case by reading it here; Or read from the AP, or excerpts below:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Immigrants must be told by their lawyers whether pleading guilty to a crime could lead to their deportation, the Supreme Court said Wednesday.

The high court's ruling came in the case of Jose Padilla, who was born in Honduras. He asked the high court to throw out his 2001 guilty plea to drug charges in Kentucky.

Padilla, who has lived in the United States for more than 40 years as a legal permanent resident, said he asked his lawyer at the time whether a guilty plea would affect his immigration status and was told it wouldn't. Padilla's trial lawyer was wrong, and he now faces deportation.

His lawyer for the appeal told the Supreme Court that the incorrect information given Padilla was a violation of the Sixth Amendment right to “effective assistance of counsel.”

The Supreme Court's majority agreed.

“It is our responsibility under the Constitution to ensure that no criminal defendant — whether a citizen or not — is left to the 'mercies of incompetent counsel,“’ Justice John Paul Stevens said in writing for the court.

“To satisfy this responsibility, we now hold that counsel must inform her client whether his plea carries a risk of deportation,” Stevens wrote. “Our long-standing Sixth Amendment precedents, the seriousness of the deportation as a consequence of a criminal plea, and the concomitant impact of deportation on families living lawfully in this country demand no less.”

The court sent the case back to the Supreme Court of Kentucky, which will decide whether Padilla's guilty plea should be thrown out.

Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts concurred but said it was wrong to force criminal lawyers to attempt to explain what immigration consequence a criminal plea might bring. “A criminal defense attorney should not be required to provide advice on immigration law, a complex specialty that generally lies outside the scope of a criminal defense attorney's expertise,” Alito said.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented, saying the immigration consequences of a guilty plea were beyond the reach of the Sixth Amendment.

“The Sixth Amendment guarantees the accused a lawyer ‘for his defense' against a ‘criminal prosecution' — not for sound advice about the collateral consequences of conviction,” Scalia said.

Editor's comment: While I understand the logic behind the concurring and dissenting opinions, I ONLY agree with the majority here because the Attorney gave incorrect information which formed the basis for the guilty plea of his client in the first place.

It was the Attorney's duty to his client to find out what the correct state of law is before offering advice that is incorrect, and which his client relied on to his detriment.

Editor's comments and observations: First: I agree with the majority, but only to the extent that counsel messed himself up when he gave WRONG advice. If he had just done like Samuel Alito suggested below, he would have been, in my opinion, fine.

Second: Here's a practice pointer from Justice Samuel Alito's concurring opinion, referenced above: "... an alien defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel is satisfied if defense counsel advises the client that a conviction may have immigration consequences, that immigration law is a specialized field, that the attorney is not an immigration lawyer, and that the client should consult an immigration specialist if the client wants advice on that subject."

Justice Scalia's dissent opines that :[b]ecause the subject of the misadvice here was not the prosecution for which Jose Padilla was entitled to effective assistance of counsel, the Sixth Amendment has no application" [,] and warns that "[a]dding to counsel’s duties an obligation to advise about a conviction’s collateral consequences has no logical stop-ping-point."

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"Michael Steele's High Lliving".

Michael Steele's high living
By Jonathan Capehart

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele's high livin' among the party's deep-pocketed donors has been totaled up: For February alone, according to expenses filed with the Federal Election Commission last week, Steele's use of private planes and private cars came to $17,514 and $12,691, respectively. That's a good gig.

On Monday, the Daily Caller was the first to report that “A February RNC trip to California … included a $9,099 stop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, $6,596 dropped at the nearby Four Seasons” and about $1,946 “at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.”

An RNC spokesperson insisted that Steele “was never at the location in question, he had no knowledge of the expenditure, nor does he find the use of committee funds at such a location at all acceptable.” Well, that's a relief. But why on earth was the expense approved and reimbursed in the first place? “The committee has requested that the monies be returned to the committee,” the spokesperson told me. Requested?

The RNC told The Washington Post on Monday that it is investigating the disbursement to Erik Brown of Orange, Calif., who has donated about $10,000 to Republican candidates. An RNC spokesman told The Post that he “can't comment on him” when asked about Brown but did say that Brown is “not on committee staff” and that the visit to the Voyeur nightclub “was not an RNC event.”

Steele has raised $96.2 million during his tenure, but he has spent $109.6 million. I'm sure GOP donors are thrilled to know where their dwindling money is going.

— Jonathan Capehart, The Washington Post

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George F. Will: An Argument To Be Made About Immigrant Babies And Citizenship. YEP, So Why Are We NOT Making The Argument And Acting On It?

An argument to be made about immigrant babies and citizenship
By George F. Will

A simple reform would drain some scalding steam from immigration arguments that may soon again be at a roiling boil. It would bring the interpretation of the 14th Amendment into conformity with what the authors of its text intended, and with common sense, thereby removing an incentive for illegal immigration.

To end the practice of "birthright citizenship," all that is required is to correct the misinterpretation of that amendment's first sentence: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside." From these words has flowed the practice of conferring citizenship on children born here to illegal immigrants.

A parent from a poor country, writes professor Lino Graglia of the University of Texas law school, "can hardly do more for a child than make him or her an American citizen, entitled to all the advantages of the American welfare state." Therefore, "It is difficult to imagine a more irrational and self-defeating legal system than one which makes unauthorized entry into this country a criminal offense and simultaneously provides perhaps the greatest possible inducement to illegal entry."

Writing in the Texas Review of Law and Politics, Graglia says this irrationality is rooted in a misunderstanding of the phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof." What was this intended or understood to mean by those who wrote it in 1866 and ratified it in 1868? The authors and ratifiers could not have intended birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants because in 1868 there were and never had been any illegal immigrants because no law ever had restricted immigration.

If those who wrote and ratified the 14th Amendment had imagined laws restricting immigration -- and had anticipated huge waves of illegal immigration -- is it reasonable to presume they would have wanted to provide the reward of citizenship to the children of the violators of those laws? Surely not.

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 begins with language from which the 14th Amendment's citizenship clause is derived: "All persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States." (Emphasis added.) The explicit exclusion of Indians from birthright citizenship was not repeated in the 14th Amendment because it was considered unnecessary. Although Indians were at least partially subject to U.S. jurisdiction, they owed allegiance to their tribes, not the United States. This reasoning -- divided allegiance -- applies equally to exclude the children of resident aliens, legal as well as illegal, from birthright citizenship. Indeed, today's regulations issued by the departments of Homeland Security and Justice stipulate:

"A person born in the United States to a foreign diplomatic officer accredited to the United States, as a matter of international law, is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. That person is not a United States citizen under the 14th Amendment."

Sen. Lyman Trumbull of Illinois was, Graglia writes, one of two "principal authors of the citizenship clauses in 1866 act and the 14th Amendment." He said that "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" meant subject to its "complete" jurisdiction, meaning "not owing allegiance to anybody else." Hence children whose Indian parents had tribal allegiances were excluded from birthright citizenship.

Appropriately, in 1884 the Supreme Court held that children born to Indian parents were not born "subject to" U.S. jurisdiction because, among other reasons, the person so born could not change his status by his "own will without the action or assent of the United States." And "no one can become a citizen of a nation without its consent." Graglia says this decision "seemed to establish" that U.S. citizenship is "a consensual relation, requiring the consent of the United States." So: "This would clearly settle the question of birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens. There cannot be a more total or forceful denial of consent to a person's citizenship than to make the source of that person's presence in the nation illegal."

Congress has heard testimony estimating that more than two-thirds of all births in Los Angeles public hospitals, and more than half of all births in that city, and nearly 10 percent of all births in the nation in recent years, have been to mothers who are here illegally. Graglia seems to establish that there is no constitutional impediment to Congress ending the granting of birthright citizenship to those whose presence here is "not only without the government's consent but in violation of its law."


Joel Pett Exposes The Tea Party Movement. LOL.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

POTUS Barack Obama Signs The Healthcare "Reconcilliation" Bill Into Law, And Removes "Middle Men And Women" From Higher Education Loan Program. Watch.

Ad Wars Continue, As Rand Paul Responds To Trey Grayson's "9/11" Ad . Watch Video.


The Ad Wars Continue As Trey Grayson Lumps Rand Paul And Reverend Jeremiah Wright Together. Watch Video.


George Will: A Battle Won, But A Victory?

A battle won, but a victory?
By George Will

"And everybody praised the Duke,

Who this great fight did win."

"But what good came of it at last?"

Quoth little Peterkin.

"Why that I cannot tell," said he,

"But 'twas a famous victory"

-- Robert Southey,

"The Battle of Blenheim"

Barack Obama hopes his famous health-care victory will mark him as a transformative president. History, however, may judge it to have been his missed opportunity to be one.

Health care will not be seriously revisited for at least a generation, so the system's costliest defect -- untaxed employer-provided insurance, which entangles a high-inflation commodity, health care, with the wage system -- remains. Obama could not challenge this without adopting measures -- e.g., tax credits for individuals, enabling them to shop for their own insurance -- that empower individuals and therefore conflict with his party's agenda of spreading dependency.

On Sunday, as will happen every day for two decades, another 10,000 baby boomers became eligible for Social Security and Medicare. And Congress moved closer to piling a huge new middle-class entitlement onto the rickety structure of America's Ponzi welfare state. Congress has a one-word response to the demographic deluge and the scores of trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities: "More."

There will be subsidized health insurance for families of four earning up to $88,200 a year, a ceiling certain to be raised, repeatedly. The accounting legerdemain spun to make this seem affordable -- e.g., cuts (to Medicare) and taxes (on high-value insurance plans) that will never happen -- is Enronesque.

As America's teetering tower of unkeepable promises grows, so does the weight of government, in taxes and mandates that limit investments and discourage job creation. America's dynamism, and hence upward social mobility, will slow, as the economy becomes what the party of government wants it to be -- increasingly dependent on government-created demand.

Promoting dependency is the Democratic Party's vocation. The party knows that almost all entitlements are forever, and those that are not -- e.g., the lifetime eligibility for welfare, repealed in 1996 -- are not for the middle class. Democrats believe, plausibly, that middle-class entitlements are instantly addictive and, because there is no known detoxification, that class, when facing future choices between trimming entitlements or increasing taxes, will choose the latter. The taxes will disproportionately burden high earners, thereby tightening the noose of society's dependency on government for investments and job creation.

Politics in a democracy is transactional: Politicians seek votes by promising to do things for voters, who seek promises in exchange for their votes. Because logrolling is how legislative coalitions are cobbled together in a continental nation, the auction by which reluctant House Democrats were purchased has been disillusioning only to sentimentalists with illusions about society's stock of disinterestedness.

Besides, some of the transactions were almost gorgeous: Government policy having helped make water scarce in California's Central Valley, the party of expanding government secured two votes by increasing rations of the scarcity. Thus did one dependency lubricate legislation that establishes others.

The bill is a museum of hoary artifacts from liberalism's attic. The identity politics of quasi-quotas? The secretary of health and human services "in awarding grants and contracts under this section . . . shall give preferences to entities that have a demonstrated record of . . . training individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups or disadvantaged backgrounds." And the bill creates an Advisory Council on Green, High-Performing Public School Facilities and grants for "retrofitting necessary to increase the energy efficiency and water efficiency of public school facilities."

The public will think the health-care system is what Democrats want it to be. Dissatisfaction with it will intensify because increasingly complex systems are increasingly annoying. And because Democrats promised the implausible -- prompt and noticeable improvements in the system. Forbidding insurance companies to deny coverage to persons because of preexisting conditions, thereby making the risk pool more risky, will increase the cost of premiums. Public complaints will be smothered by more subsidies. So dependency will grow.

Seeking a silver lining? Now, perhaps, comes Thermidor.

That was the name of the month in the French Revolutionary calendar in which Robespierre fell. To historians, Thermidor denotes any era of waning political ardor. Congressional Democrats will not soon be herded into other self-wounding votes -- e.g., for a cap-and-trade carbon-rationing scheme as baroque as the health legislation. During the Democrats' health-care monomania, the nation benefited from the benign neglect of the rest of their agenda. Now the nation may benefit from the exhaustion of their appetite for more political risk.


Colbert I. King: The Deeper Roots Of Rage.

Colbert I. King | The deeper roots of rage
By Colbert I. King

The angry faces at tea party rallies are eerily familiar. They resemble faces of protesters lining the street at the University of Alabama in 1956 as Autherine Lucy, the school's first black student, bravely tried to walk to class.

Those same jeering faces could be seen gathered around the Arkansas National Guard troopers who blocked nine black children from entering Little Rock's Central High School in 1957.

“They moved closer and closer,” recalled Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine. “Somebody started yelling, ‘Lynch her! Lynch her!' I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the crowd — someone who maybe could help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a kind face, but when I looked at her again, she spat on me.”

Those were the faces I saw at a David Duke rally in Metairie, La., in 1991: sullen with resentment, wallowing in victimhood, then exploding with yells of excitement as the ex-Klansman and Republican gubernatorial candidate spewed vitriolic white-power rhetoric.

People like that old woman in Little Rock, the Alabama mob that hounded Autherine Lucy, the embracers of Duke's demagoguery in Louisiana, never go away.

They were spotted on Capitol Hill under the tea party banner protesting the health care reform bill. Some carried signs that read “If Brown (Scott Brown, R-Mass.) can't stop it, a Browning (high power weapon) can.” Some shouted racial and homophobic epithets at members of Congress. Others assumed the role of rabble, responding to the calls of instigating Republican representatives gathered on a Capitol balcony.

Tea party members, as with their forerunners who showed up at the University of Alabama and Central High School, behave as they do because they have been culturally conditioned to believe they are entitled to do whatever they want, and to whomever they want, because they are the “real Americans,” while all who don't think or look like them are not.

And they are consequential. Without folks like them, there would be no Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity or Pat Buchanan. There would never have been a George Corley Wallace, the Alabama governor dubbed by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Diane McWhorter in a 2008 Slate article as “the godfather, avatar of a national uprising against the three G's of government, Godlessness, and gun control.”

Hence, an explanation for the familiarity of faces: Today's tea party adherents are George Wallace legacies.

They, like Wallace's followers, smolder with anger. They fear they are being driven from their rightful place in America.

They see the world through the eyes of the anti-civil-rights alumni. “Washington, D.C.” now, as then, is regarded as the Great Satan. This is the place that created the civil-rights laws that were shoved down their throats. This is the birthplace of their much-feared “Big Government” and the playground of the “elite national news media.”

And they are faithful to the old Wallace playbook.

McWhorter wrote how Wallace, in a 1963 speech to the political arm of Alabama's Ku Klux Klan, “referred to the recent bombings in Birmingham against prominent black citizens, citing the lack of fatalities as proof that the ‘nigras' were throwing the dynamite themselves in order to attract publicity and money.”

Fast-forward to today. Note the pro-tea party conservative commentary debunking the recent racist and homophobic slurs as a work of fiction and exaggeration strictly for political reasons. Noticeable, too, is the influence of George Wallace, Limbaugh, Beck and their followers on outcomes.

The angry '50s and '60s crowds threatened and intimidated; some among them even murdered. That notwithstanding, Americans of goodwill gathered in the White House to witness the signing of landmark civil-rights laws.

Schoolhouse doors were blocked, and little children were demeaned. Yet the bigots didn't get the last word. Justice rolled down like a mighty river, sweeping them aside.

They insulted, abused, lied and vandalized. Still, President Obama fulfilled his promise to sign historic health care reform into law by the end of his first term.

Those angry faces won't go away. But neither can they stand in the way of progress.

The mobs of yesteryear were on the wrong side of history. Tea party supporters and their right-wing fellow travelers are on the wrong side now. It shows up in their faces.

Colbert I . King writes a weekly column for The Washington Post.

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Joel Pett Provides Today's Laughter. So Laugh With Me.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Shock Poll: Why Do So Many Republicans Think Obama Is A Socialist, A Muslim, Or Even The Anti-Christ? Read More.

Shock poll: Why do so many Republicans think Obama is a socialist, a Muslim, or even the anti-Christ?
By Nicole Hemmer

A new poll shows that a quarter of Republicans think Obama may be the anti-Christ. Apocalyptic right-wing rhetoric is going mainstream, as Republican lawmakers stoke the flames of epithet-hurlers and conspiracy theorists.

Healthcare reform supporters who tuned in to the Glenn Beck Show the morning after Sunday’s vote for a dose of schadenfreude were sorely disappointed. For months Mr. Beck, a conservative radio talk-show host, had bewailed the fate of the nation should the healthcare bill pass into law. He warned it would be “the nail in the coffin of our country.”

Yet not 12 hours after the bill’s passage in the House, Beck appeared on air in a chipper mood. Chin up, he told his listeners. If we elect conservative Republicans willing to repeal the bill, the country can be saved.

In other words, no need for panic: The apocalypse has been postponed until November 2010.

Entertaining as it is to watch the goalposts move, the right’s end-of-life-as-we-know-it language has real consequences. It has eliminated opportunities for political compromise and threatens to reduce the Republican Party to a hodgepodge of epithet-hurlers and conspiracy theorists.

Apocalyptic rhetoric has a long history in American politics. The New Republic recently compiled the dire predictions that accompanied progressive legislation like Social Security (“It will go a long way toward destroying American initiative and courage”) and the minimum wage (“a step in the direction of Communism, bolshevism, fascism, and Nazism”).

Catastrophic predictions also occur on the left, of course. When progressive Theodore Roosevelt ran for president in 1912, he rallied his followers by bellowing, “We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord!” More recently, Naomi Wolf penned “The End of America,” arguing that America under the Bush administration was well on its way to dissolving into a fascist dictatorship.

But it is in today’s GOP that the election cycle and the end times have become one and the same, that extreme rhetoric has infected the party stem to stern.

Lawmakers have led this charge, making them more troubling than the protesters who (flung racist and homophobic words at Democratic legislators as they marched to vote Sunday. These elected officials in good standing with the Republican Party can’t be explained away as a few bad apples. From Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” in the middle of President Obama’s first State of the Union to Rep. Randy Neugebauer’s “Baby killer!” chucked at Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak during Mr. Stupak’s speech supporting healthcare reform, Republican officeholders are behaving badly and encouraging their supporters to do the same.

At least 10 House Democrats have reported death threats or security concerns at their offices in recent days.

Leaders on the right ratchet up the temperature even higher by spinning dystopian fantasies of Democratic politics. Sarah Palin, one-time vice-presidential candidate for the GOP, claimed that if healthcare passed, death panels would dot America as the government determined who would live and die. The rumor took hold: In August 2009, an NBC News poll showed 45 percent of Americans believed death panels were likely to happen.

Right-wing commentators and politicians also go to extremes to demonize the commander in chief, daily denouncing Obama as a statist, a dictator, or in the words of Rep. Steve King a “Democratic socialist.” Mr. King had also warned that upon Obama’s election, “the radical Islamists and their supporters will be dancing in the streets.”

Given this, should anyone be surprised at the latest Harris poll that reveals how thoroughly such overblown rhetoric has infused the GOP? Of the Republicans polled, 2 out of 3 believe Obama is a socialist, nearly as many think he is Muslim, and a full quarter suspect the president may be the anti-Christ.

That’s right: The anti-Christ. This is the current state of the Republican Party. So what’s the end result of all these stoked fears and raised temperatures? For one, they ensure that no matter how postpartisan Obama would like to be, he will not be given that chance. While Democrats compromised on the public option and abortion language in the healthcare bill, Republicans refused to even glance across the aisle, much less reach across it.

How could they? They’ve sold their supporters on the idea that Democratic legislation is the first step to totalitarian dictatorship. Over the past week, Sen. Lindsey Graham threatened not to work with Democrats on immigration reform if they pushed through the healthcare bill. Sen. John McCain went one step further and promised “no cooperation for the rest of the year.”

Over-the-top rhetoric also means the Republican Party will move even more right in the coming years. Politicians who betray a hint of moderation will face Tea Party challengers as formerly local races become national battles to purge the party of any but the most conservative.

David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush, sees disaster for the GOP in this strategy. Immediately after the vote on Sunday night, he declared it the Republican Waterloo. But even Mr. Frum can’t figure out a solution to the Republicans’ extremism problem. Until someone does, the GOP and its supporters will be reduced to railing against an apocalypse that never comes.

Nicole Hemmer is a lecturer at Manchester College and a PhD candidate in history at Columbia University. She is writing a history of conservative media.

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FRANK RICH: The Rage Is Not About Health Care. And I *SIGH*.

The Rage Is Not About Health Care

THERE were times when last Sunday’s great G.O.P. health care implosion threatened to bring the thrill back to reality television. On ABC’s “This Week,” a frothing and filibustering Karl Rove all but lost it in a debate with the Obama strategist David Plouffe. A few hours later, the perennially copper-faced Republican leader John Boehner revved up his “Hell no, you can’t!” incantation in the House chamber — instant fodder for a new viral video remixing his rap with’s “Yes, we can!” classic from the campaign. Boehner, having previously likened the health care bill to Armageddon, was now so apoplectic you had to wonder if he had just discovered one of its more obscure revenue-generating provisions, a tax on indoor tanning salons.

But the laughs evaporated soon enough. There’s nothing entertaining about watching goons hurl venomous slurs at congressmen like the civil rights hero John Lewis and the openly gay Barney Frank. And as the week dragged on, and reports of death threats and vandalism stretched from Arizona to Kansas to upstate New York, the F.B.I. and the local police had to get into the act to protect members of Congress and their families.

How curious that a mob fond of likening President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that it doesn’t recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht. The weapon of choice for vigilante violence at Congressional offices has been a brick hurled through a window. So far.

No less curious is how disproportionate this red-hot anger is to its proximate cause. The historic Obama-Pelosi health care victory is a big deal, all right, so much so it doesn’t need Joe Biden’s adjective to hype it. But the bill does not erect a huge New Deal-Great Society-style government program. In lieu of a public option, it delivers 32 million newly insured Americans to private insurers. As no less a conservative authority than The Wall Street Journal editorial page observed last week, the bill’s prototype is the health care legislation Mitt Romney signed into law in Massachusetts. It contains what used to be considered Republican ideas.

Yet it’s this bill that inspired G.O.P. congressmen on the House floor to egg on disruptive protesters even as they were being evicted from the gallery by the Capitol Police last Sunday. It’s this bill that prompted a congressman to shout “baby killer” at Bart Stupak, a staunch anti-abortion Democrat. It’s this bill that drove a demonstrator to spit on Emanuel Cleaver, a black representative from Missouri. And it’s this “middle-of-the-road” bill, as Obama accurately calls it, that has incited an unglued firestorm of homicidal rhetoric, from “Kill the bill!” to Sarah Palin’s cry for her followers to “reload.” At least four of the House members hit with death threats or vandalism are among the 20 political targets Palin marks with rifle crosshairs on a map on her Facebook page.

When Social Security was passed by Congress in 1935 and Medicare in 1965, there was indeed heated opposition. As Dana Milbank wrote in The Washington Post, Alf Landon built his catastrophic 1936 presidential campaign on a call for repealing Social Security. (Democrats can only pray that the G.O.P. will “go for it” again in 2010, as Obama goaded them on Thursday, and keep demanding repeal of a bill that by September will shower benefits on the elderly and children alike.) When L.B.J. scored his Medicare coup, there were the inevitable cries of “socialism” along with ultimately empty rumblings of a boycott from the American Medical Association.

But there was nothing like this. To find a prototype for the overheated reaction to the health care bill, you have to look a year before Medicare, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both laws passed by similar majorities in Congress; the Civil Rights Act received even more votes in the Senate (73) than Medicare (70). But it was only the civil rights bill that made some Americans run off the rails. That’s because it was the one that signaled an inexorable and immutable change in the very identity of America, not just its governance.

The apocalyptic predictions then, like those about health care now, were all framed in constitutional pieties, of course. Barry Goldwater, running for president in ’64, drew on the counsel of two young legal allies, William Rehnquist and Robert Bork, to characterize the bill as a “threat to the very essence of our basic system” and a “usurpation” of states’ rights that “would force you to admit drunks, a known murderer or an insane person into your place of business.” Richard Russell, the segregationist Democratic senator from Georgia, said the bill “would destroy the free enterprise system.” David Lawrence, a widely syndicated conservative columnist, bemoaned the establishment of “a federal dictatorship.” Meanwhile, three civil rights workers were murdered in Philadelphia, Miss.

That a tsunami of anger is gathering today is illogical, given that what the right calls “Obamacare” is less provocative than either the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or Medicare, an epic entitlement that actually did precipitate a government takeover of a sizable chunk of American health care. But the explanation is plain: the health care bill is not the main source of this anger and never has been. It’s merely a handy excuse. The real source of the over-the-top rage of 2010 is the same kind of national existential reordering that roiled America in 1964.

In fact, the current surge of anger — and the accompanying rise in right-wing extremism — predates the entire health care debate. The first signs were the shrieks of “traitor” and “off with his head” at Palin rallies as Obama’s election became more likely in October 2008. Those passions have spiraled ever since — from Gov. Rick Perry’s kowtowing to secessionists at a Tea Party rally in Texas to the gratuitous brandishing of assault weapons at Obama health care rallies last summer to “You lie!” piercing the president’s address to Congress last fall like an ominous shot.

If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory. The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.

They can’t. Demographics are avatars of a change bigger than any bill contemplated by Obama or Congress. The week before the health care vote, The Times reported that births to Asian, black and Hispanic women accounted for 48 percent of all births in America in the 12 months ending in July 2008. By 2012, the next presidential election year, non-Hispanic white births will be in the minority. The Tea Party movement is virtually all white. The Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935. Their anxieties about a rapidly changing America are well-grounded.

If Congressional Republicans want to maintain a politburo-like homogeneity in opposition to the Democrats, that’s their right. If they want to replay the petulant Gingrich government shutdown of 1995 by boycotting hearings and, as John McCain has vowed, refusing to cooperate on any legislation, that’s their right too (and a political gift to the Democrats). But they can’t emulate the 1995 G.O.P. by remaining silent as mass hysteria, some of it encompassing armed militias, runs amok in their own precincts. We know the end of that story. And they can’t pretend that we’re talking about “isolated incidents” or a “fringe” utterly divorced from the G.O.P. A Quinnipiac poll last week found that 74 percent of Tea Party members identify themselves as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents, while only 16 percent are aligned with Democrats.

After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, some responsible leaders in both parties spoke out to try to put a lid on the resistance and violence. The arch-segregationist Russell of Georgia, concerned about what might happen in his own backyard, declared flatly that the law is “now on the books.” Yet no Republican or conservative leader of stature has taken on Palin, Perry, Boehner or any of the others who have been stoking these fires for a good 17 months now. Last week McCain even endorsed Palin’s “reload” rhetoric.

Are these politicians so frightened of offending anyone in the Tea Party-Glenn Beck base that they would rather fall silent than call out its extremist elements and their enablers? Seemingly so, and if G.O.P. leaders of all stripes, from Romney to Mitch McConnell to Olympia Snowe to Lindsey Graham, are afraid of these forces, that’s the strongest possible indicator that the rest of us have reason to fear them too.


Republican National Committee Chairman, Michael "Lack Of Steel" Steele, Goes On A Spending Spree. Read More, But Don't Blame Me: I Didn't Support Him!

Go here and read more.

Like I said: don't blame me, as I did NOT support his candidacy.

Say you want to read more?

Go here.

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I Don't Know Which Candidate To Support And Send Money: Florida Governor Charlie Crist Or Former Speaker Marco Rubio? Watch Video "Debate" And HELP!

Today's Words To Live By Honors Liberty Lovers -- NOT Libertarians -- Like Myself.

"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

-- Patrick Henry, Speech to the Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775


Common Ground. I'm LMAO!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

MAUREEN DOWD: A Nope For Pope.

A Nope for Pope

Yup, we need a Nope.

A nun who is pope.

The Catholic Church can never recover as long as its Holy Shepherd is seen as a black sheep in the ever-darkening sex abuse scandal.

Now we learn the sickening news that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, nicknamed “God’s Rottweiler” when he was the church’s enforcer on matters of faith and sin, ignored repeated warnings and looked away in the case of the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, a Wisconsin priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys.

The church has been tone deaf and dumb on the scandal for so long that it’s shocking, but not surprising, to learn from The Times’s Laurie Goodstein that a group of deaf former students spent 30 years trying to get church leaders to pay attention.

“Victims give similar accounts of Father Murphy’s pulling down their pants and touching them in his office, his car, his mother’s country house, on class excursions and fund-raising trips and in their dormitory beds at night,” Goodstein wrote. “Arthur Budzinski said he was first molested when he went to Father Murphy for confession when he was about 12, in 1960.”

It was only when the sanctity of the confessional was breached that an archbishop in Wisconsin (who later had to resign when it turned out he used church money to pay off a male lover) wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger at the Vatican to request that Father Murphy be defrocked.

The cardinal did not answer. The archbishop wrote to a different Vatican official, but Father Murphy appealed to Cardinal Ratzinger for leniency and got it, partly because of the church’s statute of limitations. Since when does sin have a statute of limitations?

The pope is in too deep. He has proved himself anything but infallible. And now he claims he was uninformed on the matter of an infamous German pedophile priest. A spokesman for the Munich archdiocese said on Friday that Ratzinger, running the diocese three decades ago, would not have read the memo sent to him about Father Peter Hullermann’s getting cycled back into work with children because between 700 to 1,000 memos go to the archbishop each year.

Let’s see. That’s two or three memos a day. And Ratzinger was renowned at the Vatican for poring through voluminous, recondite theological treatises.

Because he did not defrock the demented Father Murphy, it’s time to bring in the frocks.

Pope Benedict has continued the church’s ban on female priests and is adamant against priests’ having wives. He has started two investigations of American nuns to check on their “quality of life” — code for seeing if they’ve grown too independent. As a cardinal he wrote a Vatican document urging women to be submissive partners and not take on adversarial roles toward men.

But the completely paternalistic and autocratic culture of Il Papa led to an insular, exclusionary system that failed to police itself, and that became a corrosive shelter for secrets and shame.

If the church could throw open its stained glass windows and let in some air, invite women to be priests, nuns to be more emancipated and priests to marry, if it could banish criminal priests and end the sordid culture of men protecting men who attack children, it might survive. It could be an encouraging sign of humility and repentance, a surrender of arrogance, both moving and meaningful.

Cardinal Ratzinger devoted his Vatican career to rooting out any hint of what he considered deviance. The problem is, he was obsessed with enforcing doctrinal orthodoxy and somehow missed the graver danger to the most vulnerable members of the flock.

The sin-crazed “Rottweiler” was so consumed with sexual mores — issuing constant instructions on chastity, contraception, abortion — that he didn’t make time for curbing sexual abuse by priests who were supposed to pray with, not prey on, their young charges.

American bishops have gotten politically militant in recent years, opposing the health care bill because its language on abortion wasn’t vehement enough, and punishing Catholic politicians who favor abortion rights and stem cell research. They should spend as much time guarding the kids already under their care as they do championing the rights of those who aren’t yet born.

Decade after decade, the church hid its sordid crimes, enabling the collared perpetrators instead of letting the police collar them. In the case of the infamous German priest, one diocese official hinted that his problem could be fixed by transferring him to teach at a girls’ school. Either they figured that he would not be tempted by the female sex, or worse, the church was even less concerned about putting little girls at risk.

The nuns have historically cleaned up the messes of priests. And this is a historic mess. Benedict should go home to Bavaria. And the cardinals should send the white smoke up the chimney, proclaiming “Habemus Mama.”

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Sinead O'Connor: Benedict XVI 'Criminally Misrepresents God'. *AHEM*. Read More Below.

Benedict XVI 'criminally misrepresents God'
By Sinead O'Connor

When I was a child, Ireland was a Catholic theocracy. If a bishop came walking down the street, people would move to make a path for him. If a bishop attended a national sporting event, the team would kneel to kiss his ring. If someone made a mistake, instead of saying, “Nobody's perfect,” we said, “Ah sure, it could happen to a bishop.”

The expression was more accurate than we knew. This month, Pope Benedict XVI wrote a pastoral letter of apology — of sorts — to Ireland to atone for decades of sexual abuse of minors by priests whom those children were supposed to trust. To many people in my homeland, the pope's letter is an insult not only to our intelligence, but to our faith and to our country. To understand why, one must realize that we Irish endured a brutal brand of Catholicism that revolved around the humiliation of children.

I experienced this personally. When I was a young girl, my mother — an abusive, less-than-perfect parent — encouraged me to shoplift. After being caught once too often, I spent 18 months in An Grianán Training Centre, an institution in Dublin for girls with behavioral problems, at the recommendation of a social worker. An Grianán was one of the now-infamous church-sponsored “Magdalene laundries,” which housed pregnant teenagers and uncooperative young women. We worked in the basement, washing priests' clothes in sinks with cold water and bars of soap. We studied math and typing. We had limited contact with our families. We earned no wages. One of the nuns, at least, was kind to me and gave me my first guitar.

An Grianán was a product of the Irish government's relationship with the Vatican — the church had a “special position” codified in our constitution until 1972. As recently as 2007, 98 percent of Irish schools were run by the Catholic Church. But schools for troubled youth have been rife with barbaric corporal punishments, psychological abuse and sexual abuse. In October 2005, a report sponsored by the Irish government identified more than 100 allegations of sexual abuse by priests in Ferns, a small town 70 miles south of Dublin, between 1962 and 2002. Accused priests weren't investigated by police; they were deemed to be suffering a “moral” problem. In 2009, a similar report implicated Dublin archbishops in hiding sexual abuse scandals between 1975 and 2004.

Why was such criminal behavior tolerated? The “very prominent role which the Church has played in Irish life is the very reason why abuses by a minority of its members were allowed to go unchecked,” the 2009 report said.

Despite the church's long entanglement with the Irish government, Pope Benedict's so-called apology takes no responsibility for the transgressions of Irish priests. His letter states that “the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children.” What about the Vatican's complicity in those sins?

Benedict's apology gives the impression that he heard about abuse only recently, and it presents him as a fellow victim: “I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them.” But Benedict's infamous 2001 letter to bishops around the world ordered them to keep sexual abuse allegations secret under threat of excommunication — updating a noxious church policy, expressed in a 1962 document, that both priests accused of sex crimes and their victims “observe the strictest secret” and be “restrained by a perpetual silence.”

Benedict, then known as Joseph Ratzinger, was a mere cardinal when he wrote that letter. Now that he sits in Saint Peter's chair, are we to believe that his position has changed? And are we to take comfort in revelations that, in 1996, he declined to defrock a priest who may have molested as many as 200 deaf boys in Wisconsin?

Benedict's apology states that his concern is “above all, to bring healing to the victims.” Yet he denies them the one thing that might bring them healing — a full confession from the Vatican that it has covered up abuse and is now trying to cover up the cover up. Astonishingly, he invites Catholics “to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland.” Even more astonishing, he suggests that Ireland's victims can find healing by getting closer to the church — the same church that has demanded oaths of silence from molested children, as occurred in 1975 in the case of Father Brendan Smyth, an Irish priest later jailed for repeated sexual offenses. After we stopped laughing, many of us in Ireland recognized the idea that we needed the church to get closer to Jesus as blasphemy.

To Irish Catholics, Benedict's implication — Irish sexual abuse is an Irish problem — is both arrogant and blasphemous. The Vatican is acting as though it doesn't believe in a God who watches. The very people who say they are the keepers of the Holy Spirit are stamping all over everything the Holy Spirit truly is. Benedict criminally misrepresents the God we adore. We all know in our bones that the Holy Spirit is truth. That's how we can tell that Christ is not with these people who so frequently invoke Him.

Irish Catholics are in a dysfunctional relationship with an abusive organization. The pope must take responsibility for the actions of his subordinates. If Catholic priests are abusing children, it is Rome, not Dublin, that must answer for it with a full confession and a criminal investigation. Until it does, all good Catholics — even little old ladies who go to church every Sunday, not just protest singers like me whom the Vatican can easily ignore — should avoid Mass. In Ireland, it is time we separated our God from our religion, and our faith from its alleged leaders.

Almost 18 years ago, I tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II on an episode of “Saturday Night Live.” Many people did not understand the protest — the next week, the show's guest host, actor Joe Pesci, commented that, had he been there, “I would have gave her such a smack.” I knew my action would cause trouble, but I wanted to force a conversation where there was a need for one; that is part of being an artist. All I regretted was that people assumed I didn't believe in God. That's not the case at all. I'm Catholic by birth and culture and would be the first at the church door if the Vatican offered sincere reconciliation.

As Ireland withstands Rome's offensive apology while an Irish bishop resigns, I ask Americans to understand why an Irish Catholic woman who survived child abuse would want to rip up the pope's picture. And whether Irish Catholics, because we daren't say “we deserve better,” should be treated as though we deserve less.

Sinead O'Connor, a musician and mother of four, lives in Dublin.

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Eugene Robinson: Do Not Pretend That Tea Party Followers Are Harmless.

Do not pretend that tea party followers are harmless
By Eugene Robinson

WASHINGTON — Let's not pretend anymore that the tea party movement is harmless. The right to protest is one of our cherished American freedoms. But there is no right to vandalism, no right to threaten our elected officials' lives. Someone is going to get hurt unless those who lead the movement — and those who exploit it — start acting like responsible adults.

What are the chances of that?

It was Sarah Palin, the Eva Peron of the tea party crowd, who used Facebook to target 20 Democrats who voted for health care reform, indicating their districts' locations on a map with the cross hairs of a rifle scope. It was Palin who wrote on Twitter: “Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: ‘Don't Retreat, Instead — RELOAD!' Pls see my Facebook page.”

That anyone still listens to this person is one of the most unfortunate unintended consequences of social networking.

At least 10 House Democrats have had to request additional security following Sunday's health care vote. Someone left a coffin on the lawn of Rep. Russ Carnahan's home in Missouri. Glass doors and windows were broken at the district offices of Reps. Louise Slaughter of New York and Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. Vandals have damaged Democratic Party offices in Wichita, Rochester, N.Y., and Cincinnati.

And Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, whose last-minute compromise on abortion funding guaranteed final passage of the reform act, has received a flood of abusive phone calls at his office and home. Someone faxed him a drawing of a noose. One voice mail, subsequently posted on the Internet, was left by a woman who wanted Stupak to know that “there are millions of people across the country who wish you ill.” Another caller was more direct: “You're dead. We know where you live. We'll get you.”

One would expect responsible Republican leaders to do everything in their power to lower the temperature. House Minority Leader John Boehner said on Fox News that “violence and threats are unacceptable.” Minority Whip Eric Cantor disclosed that he has received numerous threats in the past and that a bullet was fired through the window of his Richmond campaign office last week. Given all this, one would think these two might have intervened Sunday when fellow House Republicans were whipping up the angry tea party crowd at the Capitol.

Some of the vandalism appears to have been inspired by an Alabama blogger, Mike Vanderboegh, who trumpeted the bright idea that opponents of health care reform should throw bricks at Democratic headquarters across the country. After someone did just that in Rochester, a reporter from the Democrat and Chronicle called Vanderboegh for comment. “I guess that guy's one of ours,” Vanderboegh said. “Glad to know people read my blog.”

If authorities tried to file any charges against him, Vanderboegh said, a trial “would certainly give me an opportunity to make my case to a larger public.” The nature of his “case” may be illuminated by a short story, titled “Absolved,” that he published on a right-wing Web site. His fictional protagonist fights to the death against unnamed, uniform-wearing “thugs” — apparently police — who have come to his house to confiscate his huge arsenal of guns and explosives.

On Thursday, tea party leaders around the country issued statements strongly denouncing threats or violence against members of Congress or anyone else. A number of the leaders said there was no proof that the perpetrators were members of tea party organizations.

But this strikes me, and probably will strike others, as disingenuous. The tea party movement is fueled by rhetoric that echoes the paranoid ravings of the most extreme right-wing nutcases. When tea party leaders talk about the threat of “socialism” and call for “a new revolution” and vow to “take our country back,” they can say they are simply using vivid metaphors. But they cannot plausibly claim to be unaware that there are people — perhaps on the fringe of the movement, but close enough — who give every sign of taking these incendiary words literally.

And does anyone doubt that the movement attracts the kind of people who take these words literally?

Organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have documented the troubling rise of right-wing militia and “patriot” groups. Political leaders who appropriate and reinforce the extremists' language — who urge angry people to “reload” — are being reckless. They must stop this madness before someone gets hurt.

Eugene Robinson is a Washington Post columnist. His e-mail address is


Tea Party Meeting. LOL.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Peggy Noonan: Political Rage Is A National Problem, Not A Partisan One.

The Heat Is On. We May Get Burned.
Political rage is a national problem, not a partisan one.
By Peggy Noonan

So where are we? In a dangerous place, actually.

Politics is a rough arena, and understandably so, for our politicians tell us more and more how to order our lives. Naturally there will be resistance, and strong opposition. We have a long history of hurly-burly debate, and we all know examples the past 200 years of terrible things said and done. Capitol tour guides enjoy showing the stain on the marble steps supposedly left by the blood of Sen. Charles Sumner, beaten half to death on the floor of the senate in 1856 by Rep. Preston Brooks, who wielded a thick gold-tipped cane. So we’ve had our moments.

But it’s a mistake not to see something new, something raw and bitter and dangerous, in the particular moment we’re in.

Political RiotSteny Hoyer, the House majority leader, this week announced that 10 congressional Democrats have recently been menaced and threatened with violence, and that they found it necessary to meet with the FBI and Capitol Police. A congressman apparently said a casket had been left near his home; a congresswoman reportedly said she was worried for the safety of her children.

This is all completely believable.

Democratic officials are right to call attention to what they believe is a growing threat. It is a truly terrible thing. But it would be deeply unhelpful for the Democrats to use this story as a mere political opportunity, as a way to undermine opposition to ObamaCare by painting opponents as dangerous and unhinged. That would only inflame the country, and in any case is not true. The truth is this sickness works both ways.

There probably isn’t a Republican leader who has not the past few years been menaced, and in exactly the same ways as the Democrats. Thursday I asked a staffer for a congressman who is a significant and respected opponent of the health-care bill if he had ever been threatened. Yes indeed. “Over the years and as recently as yesterday,” both the congressman and his staff “have received countless threats—both threats of violence and of death. These come in the form of letters, faxes, emails, phone calls, and voice-mail messages. We’ve had the front window smashed in at one of our district offices. Rather than call TV crews or the Washington Post, we report threats to the proper authorities, and move on. We’d take issue with the recent narrative that conservatives are disproportionately hostile, prone to violence or whatever message the left is pushing these days. They have anecdotes, we have anecdotes.”

Even columnists and pundits have anecdotes. Just about everyone in public life on whatever level gets threats now.

Here’s the tenor and tone of the moment:

Under the news story on Mr. Hoyer’s statement on the Yahoo! news site on Thursday, there was a lengthy comment thread, with more than 800 people offering their thoughts. “An American Hitler might be in the making who would purge the leftists,” said one, who of course didn’t use his or her name. “Republicans are criminals and terrorists,” said another. “Republicans . . . are thugs, scoundrels and rascals.” And: “What did they expect when they . . . went against the American people and are FORCING this bill on us.” “It’s what happens before the revolution . . . people are frustrated over not being heard . . . let the battle begin.”

Here, edited for a family newspaper, are some of the recorded telephone messages left on the answering machine of Rep. Bart Stupak. These are messages left by individuals who appear to be pro-life activists—that is, people who have put themselves on the line to support generous and compassionate treatment of the unborn.

“I hope you bleed out your ___, get cancer and die.” “You will rue the day. . . . I hope you’re haunted the rest of your living day. . . . We think you’re a devil. . . . The country loathes you.” “You are one big piece of human ____. There are people across the country who wish you ill, and all of those thoughts projected on you will materialize into something that’s not very good for you. Go to hell, you piece of ____.”

These are people whose professed mission it is to save children. Whatever else these particular individuals are, they are people whose nerves have been rubbed raw.

Responsible leaders on all levels of American life ought to stop, breathe in, and see the level of anger and agitation that’s rippling through the country. Both sides should try to cool it, or something bad is going to happen. In fact I am struck now by how, when I worry aloud about this and say to a conservative or a liberal, a Republican or a Democrat, that I fear something bad is going to happen, no one disagrees. No one says, “Don’t worry, it’s nothing.” They say—again, left right and center: “I’m afraid of that too.”

What I keep thinking of is a beehive. A modern, high tech, highly politicized democracy is a busy beehive, and sometimes the bees are angry, and sometimes someone comes by and sticks a big sharp stick in the hive. The biggest thing Washington should do right now is stop it, stop poking the stick.

The beehive was already angry about a million things a year ago, and most of those things, obviously, were not the fault of the administration. People are angry at their economic vulnerability. They are angry at the deterioration of our culture, angry at our nation’s deteriorating position in the world, at our debts and deficits, our spending and taxing, our threatened security in a world of weapons of mass destruction. Their anger is stoked by cynical politicians and radio ranters and people who come home at night, have a few drinks, and spew out their rage on the comment thread. It’s a world full of people always cocking the gun and ready to say, if things turn bad, “But I didn’t tell anyone to shoot!”

And yes, this mood, this anger, has only been made worse by this yearlong, enervating, exhausting, enraging fight over health care. The administration is full of people who are so bright, and led by one who is very bright, and yet they have a signal failure: They do not know what time it is. They cannot see how high the temperature is. They cannot for the life of them understand that they raise it.

What we need now in our leaders is the knowledge that there is so much that is tearing us apart as a nation and that the great project now is to keep us together, to hold us together as much as possible, because future trends will be to come apart, and for many reasons. To come apart because we’re no longer held close and firmly by the old glue of appreciation for a common heritage, history and culture; to come apart because we’re a country that increasingly feels there are people in the cart and people pulling the cart, and the latter are increasingly overwhelmed and fearful; coming apart because we’re now in at least our second generation of young, lost, unguided children with no fully functioning parent in their lives, kids being raised by a microwave and a TV set. All of these things weigh and grate.

They are all, of course, too big and complicated to be adequately dealt with in a year or even a decade. But one immediate thing can be done right now, and that is: lower the temperature. Any way you can, and everybody. Just lower it.


Conservative Think Tank: Don't Think! Nick Anderson Hits The Nail On The Head On This Cartoon, Ask David Frum.


Friday, March 26, 2010

We Mourn The Lives Of 11 Mennonites Who Lost Their Lives In A Terrible Tragic Accident On Interstate 65 Near Bowling Green, Kentucky. Watch Videos.



If the movies won't embed and play automatically, go here.

Editor's comment: Our mourning includes the driver of the rig who also lost his life.


Joel Pett Reacts To The Story About Bringing Guns To Kentucky's Capitol. Share Your Thoughts With Us.

Capitol gun ban put on hold
By Roger Alford

FRANKFORT — House leaders balked Thursday at a proposed rule change that would have barred visitors from toting guns in the Capitol.

As a result, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Thursday he won’t call for a vote on the issue in the five days remaining in the current legislative session.

“It’s still somewhat questionable what can be done, so we’re going to look at it during the interim,” he said.

Some House lawmakers have been pressing for such a ban after an unidentified man wore a holstered gun into the House chamber earlier this week and sat through an afternoon session.

State Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, said he intends to continue pushing to change rules in the House that allows visitors to bring guns into the chamber as long as they’re carried openly. The Senate has a similar rule, but it hasn’t been an issue.

The rules allow lawmakers who have permits to carry concealed weapons to bring guns into the House and Senate.

Wayne said spectators shouldn’t be allowed to have guns where lawmakers routinely deal with emotionally charged issues.

“We’re fish in a barrel,” Wayne said. “It’s not acceptable.”

Republicans in the House objected to the proposed ban, saying people have a constitutional right to openly carry firearms wherever they wish. Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said GOP lawmakers are “unanimously opposed to any further restriction on a person’s right to lawfully carry a firearm.”

Democrats met privately on Wednesday to discuss the proposed rule change, which would have required visitors to check their guns in the speaker’s office.

Sgt. Brian Evans, head of Capitol security, said a gun-rights advocate openly wore a handgun into the Capitol twice in the past three weeks. Because the state has no prohibition against doing so, Evans said security didn’t stop the man.

State Rep. Ken Upchurch, R-Monticello, said Democratic lawmakers had overreacted to that situation.
“I just don’t foresee anyone coming into the gallery and starting shooting,” he said

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Lexington Herald Leader Editorial Sees "KLC [Kentucky League Of Cities] Ignoring Its Reform Promises". I AGREE!

KLC ignoring its reform promises

Lawmakers, take note: Promises by the Kentucky League of Cities to clean up its act are ringing hollow.

As staff writer Linda Blackford reported, the League has renewed a lucrative contract without competitive bidding, which conflicts with the state auditor's recommendations.

Also, the $156,646 a month contract is going to a company with whom one of the League's top executives has conflicts of interest.

Does this sound like an organization that's turning over a new leaf?

Lawmakers should pay attention because legislation aimed at improving scrutiny of the League's operations may be at risk of running aground, on political egos.

The legislation, which also applies to the Kentucky Association of Counties, would subject both organizations to open meetings and records laws, give their boards a code of ethics, require them to adopt procurement polices in compliance with state law and authorize the state auditor to review their books.

We won't attempt to dissect the pride-of-authorship conflicts that are threatening these reforms, which are not controversial and have already been approved by both chambers.

Suffice it to say that most taxpayers don't care in which chamber a bill originates or who sponsors it, they just want the legislature to look out for their interests.

And it's definitely in taxpayers' interests to avoid a repeat of the outlandish spending and lax accountability uncovered by the Herald-Leader and state Auditor Crit Luallen.

But there was no competitive bidding before extending an insurance claims company's contract for well over $5,000. Why? The League has recently taken over the Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust. Officials said it would be unwise to change claims carriers while taking on a large new line of business.

That's not unreasonable. But the decision would be much more credible had it been made after considering competing bids.

KACo was the subject of scathing audits in 1992 and 2009.

If the legislature fails to strengthen the laws governing these organizations, more scathing audits and taxpayer abuse will be inevitable.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Former President George Bush, Jr., Shakes Hands With Haitians And Wipes His Hands On Former President Bill Clinton's Shirt. I'm LMAO. Watch Video.

Clarence Page: The Racism Of Irrational Anger, Fears, Suspicions And Resentments. And I *SIGH*!

The racism of irrational anger, fears, suspicions and resentments
By Clarence Page

President Barack Obama's opposition should thank him. His election has boosted the audiences for right-wing talk shows, especially those that appeal to the easily frightened.

It also appears to have liberated conservatives from liberal political correctness, if only to construct an equally delusional conservative version: Some of the movement's leading lights no longer want to take racism seriously, unless it is “reverse racism” against white people.

You could see and hear this impulse among elite conservative voices as the House vote for Obama's health care overhaul neared and rage by protesters against it boiled over in the streets and hallways on Capitol Hill. One black Democrat, Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, was spat upon. Capitol Hill police detained a man but released him after Cleaver declined to press charges. Racial slurs were shouted at two other black congressmen, including Georgia Democrat John Lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement. Barney Frank, an openly gay Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was taunted with an infamous F-word slur against homosexuals.

Yet National Review senior editor Jay Nordlinger advanced a peculiar thesis about race on the magazine's Web site, which he quoted from a letter sent by a reader. The ugly episodes on Capital Hill are evidence that “Racism in America is dead,” the letter averred, because of all the attention they have received. After the abominations of slavery and Jim Crow segregation, the letter writer observed, all this fuss over the “occasional public utterance of a bad word” is evidence that “real racism has been reduced to de minimis levels,” which is Latin for no big deal.

Yet, the writer noted, “charges of racism seem to increase.” Therefore, he continued, “I'll vote for the first politician with the brass to say that ‘racism' should be dropped from our national dialogue.” That makes one of us.

I'd feel more enthusiastic about Nordlinger's and his friend's rush to delete the R-word from our national dialogue if willful ignorance of a problem could cure it. Unfortunately, even in the days of Jim Crow, there were segregationists who tried to chill race talk as no big deal, just the “meddling” by “outside agitators” and “briefcase totin' liberals” against “states' rights.”

Yet the Nordlinger thesis has received attaboys from allies like talk show host and former Education Secretary William Bennett, who I believe knows better but loves to argue. “Is there occasional racism, of course,” he said on-air Monday. “But this country's been transformed on the issue of race.” For example? “You talk to young people, they don't even understand how people could have judged people by race,” he said. If not, you can thank older folks who were unafraid to pass on lessons about the evils of racism.

That message apparently was lost on the 16-year-old prankster who made news — and got himself charged with harassment and bias intimidation — by announcing over an unguarded public address system in a New Jersey Wal-Mart, “All black people, leave the store now.” Ah, kids today.

Unfortunately the logic of racial denial turns in on itself. If the shouting of racial epithets proves that racism is dead, the shouting of “socialist” by Obamaphobes must mean that socialism is extinct.

Racism doesn't always come dressed in whites sheets and burning a cross. Besides racial hate, there's also the racism of irrational anger, fears, suspicions and resentments. Radio star Rush Limbaugh offers ample examples.

He raged during his Monday show against Obama's health care overhaul and planned immigration reforms, according to a transcript on his Web site, with, “He has come to divide. He has come to conquer. Is there anybody who now doubts what I meant when I said, ‘I hope he fails'?” Well, yes. For starters, if Obama was so determined to divide Americans by race, he never would have gotten elected. But, of course, the luxury of talk show demagoguery is the freedom it affords one to ignore facts.

I'm not surprised to see Limbaugh leave out details that get in the way of the narrative he is trying to invent. That's show biz. I am only dismayed that his fans don't seem to notice when they're being insulted. Or maybe they just don't want to notice.

I am not unhappy to see political correctness knocked down a few pegs. PC is unhealthy when it stifles honest, candid discussion. But free speech should help America's many diverse groups to learn more about each other. Otherwise we only help to keep hate alive.

Clarence Page is a columnist with the Chicago Tribune. His email address is


ALL 8 Clay County, Kentucky, Elected Officials CONvicted Of Vote Buying. I Say: Good Riddance To ALL of Them. Feds Should CLEAN Up Other Counties Too.

Jury convicts all 8 defendants in Clay County vote-buying case
By Bill Estep

FRANKFORT — Some of the most powerful politicians in Clay County corrupted the election process in recent years, buying and stealing votes in pursuit of power and money, a federal jury ruled Wednesday.

After deliberating for more than 9 hours over the past two days, the jury convicted all eight people on trial, including former Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle and former school Superintendent Douglas C. Adams, on a racketeering conspiracy charge. That charge was that they used the county election board as a tool to rig elections, appointing corrupt precinct officers to help with vote-buying.

The jury convicted several of the defendants on other charges as well, including mail fraud, extortion and laundering money that was used to buy votes.

They face up to 20 years in prison, though their sentences will likely be less under advisory guidelines.

Those charged in the case are Maricle; Adams; county Clerk Freddy W. Thompson; Magistrate Stanley Bowling; Charles Wayne Jones, a former Democratic election commissioner; William Stivers, a former election official; and William Bart Morris, who owns a garbage-transfer company, and his wife Debi Morris, who owns a beauty shop.

They allegedly used the county board of elections as a vehicle to buy and steal votes between 2002 and 2007 so they could get power, jobs and contracts.

The verdict was the latest in a series of torpedoes that have blown a hole in the power structure that held sway in Manchester and Clay County for years.

Several once-prominent officials went to prison in earlier phases of the federal investigation on corruption and drug charges, including a longtime mayor of Manchester, an assistant police chief, city council members, a county clerk and magistrates.

And the case involving Maricle and Adams raised the possibility that there could be more charges. Prosecutors and witnesses said several other public officials in Clay County took part in vote-buying during the same period covered in the charges against Maricle.

The eight residents were charged with scheming to buy or steal votes in the local elections in 2002, 2004 and 2006.

The indictment charged that Maricle and Adams were political bosses who used their powerful positions to head up the effort. The others allegedly played various roles, such as choosing corrupt election officers to help with buying votes; paying voters; and lining up people to sell their votes.

The eight wanted to control elections so they could get power and enrich themselves and friends in a place where jobs are scarce, according to the charges and arguments in court.

In addition to jobs, there were city and county contracts at stake for Bowling's excavation company and Bart Morris' business, prosecutors argued.

"In Clay County, if you're not in politics or in with the clique, you don't get nothing," Kenneth Day, a convicted drug dealer and professed vote-buyer, testified.

The scheme to buy votes allegedly worked with practiced efficiency.

Participants checked lists of voters to identify those who would take bribes and lined up people to drive them to the polls, where precinct workers made sure they voted correctly and gave them a sticker or ticket to redeem for their payment, according to the indictment and testimony.

Candidates banded together in slates and pooled their money to buy votes, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in some elections, witnesses said.

Testimony indicated that vote-buying has been widespread and chronic in Clay County.

After Eugene "Mutton" Lewis, a convicted drug dealer who said he'd bought votes for decades, testified about a candidate giving him $1,000 and asking for help, a defense attorney asked if there weren't ways to help a candidate besides buying votes.

"Not that I know of," Lewis responded.

The May 2002 primary — the first election cited in the indictment — was allegedly a high-water mark of vote fraud in the county, largely because of a bitter race for county clerk.

In that race, Thompson challenged incumbent Clerk Jennings B. White in the Republican primary.

The Whites had been a powerful political family in the county for years, holding the offices of mayor, school superintendent, county clerk and state representative at one point, with allies in other offices.

But in 2002, Adams decided to whip Jennings White, Adams' attorney, R. Kent Westberry, told jurors.

It was personal — one of Adams' daughters had a drug problem, and White was close to Day, a large-scale drug dealer, and other local officials who were protecting drug trafficking, Westberry said.

The election was a volatile, violent affair. White used his connections to have a Thompson supporter arrested and staged a shooting of his own van, which then-Sheriff Edd Jordan, an ally of White's, said could have been carried out by Thompson's supporters.

Thompson said his house was shot into, and a man who had dug up dirt on White was shot from ambush.

The candidates and their allies allegedly put up several hundred thousand dollars to buy votes in the election, which Thompson won after precinct workers White thought were in his pocket allegedly abandoned him.

The FBI got complaints about the election and collected records that showed a high number of people asked for assistance in voting, said FBI special Agent Timothy Briggs.

Election officers go into the voting booth with people who request assistance, so that's one tactic vote-buyers use to make sure people vote as they were paid to vote.

Briggs said 78 people asked for help in that election because they were blind, but investigators found nearly 40 had a license to drive. Many drove to London after the FBI asked then to come for interviews, Briggs testified.

The FBI at first couldn't get people to cooperate in the election investigation, but that changed in 2005 after federal agents arrested dozens of people in a multi-state drug case, including Day, who had been a county Republican election commissioner and said he'd bought votes for years.

Defense attorneys did not argue there was no vote-buying in Clay County.

In fact, Maricle admitted buying votes for a circuit-judge candidate he supported in 1983 — though he said he hadn't bought votes since — and Thompson's attorney acknowledged people bribed voters for him in 2002.

But Maricle, Adams and the others argued that they had not bought votes during the time covered in the charges. They also said they didn't band to rig elections, and in fact had been on opposite sides in some races.

For instance, Adams, Stivers and Jones supported Thompson in the 2002 race, while Bowling and the Morrises supported White, defense attorneys said.

Those charged also said many of the witnesses against them — several of them convicted felons -- had reason to lie for prosecutors in hopes of getting help with their own legal troubles.

One key witness for the prosecution was D. Kennon White, who had been city manager of Manchester under his father, Mayor Daugh White, before admitting he extorted $67,000 in kickbacks from Bowling on city contracts.

Another was White's wife, Wanda, who also had worked for the city before Daugh White lost his bid for an eighth term in November 2006 while under federal investigation.

Kennon and Wanda White had been friends with Maricle, but after they got in trouble, they wore hidden tape recorders in 2007 to tape conversations with him and others.

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KARL ROVE: Repeal And Reform Will Be A Winning Issue This Fall. Watch Video And Read More Below.

What Republicans Should Do Now
Repeal and reform will be a winning issue this fall.


Democrats are celebrating victory. The public outcry against what they've done doesn't seem to bother them. They take it as validation that they are succeeding at transforming America.

But we've seen this movie before and it won't end happily for Democrats. Their morale rose when the stimulus passed in February 2009. The press hailed it as a popular answer to joblessness and a sluggish economy. At the time, Democrats thought it brightened their chances in the 2009 gubernatorial elections.

But a flawed bill, bumbling implementation, and unfulfilled expectations turned the stimulus into a big drag on Democrats in Virginia and New Jersey. A CBS News/New York Times poll recently reported that only 6% of Americans believe the stimulus package created jobs.

Democratic hopes that passing health-care reform will help them politically will be unfulfilled because ObamaCare only benefits a small number of people in the short run. Until the massive subsidies to insurance companies fully ramp up in 2017, this bill will be more pain than gain for most Americans.

For example, changes in insurance regulations in 2011 and two new mandates in 2014 that force everyone to buy insurance and require everyone to be charged a similar price regardless of age or health will cause insurance premiums to rise more than they would have otherwise. The 10 million people who have a health savings account will also be hurt starting in 2011. With each passing year after that, they will be able to put less away tax free for medical expenses.

ObamaCare cuts $1.8 billion in support for Medicare Advantage this October, another $5.8 billion in October 2011, and an additional $9.2 billion right before the 2012 presidential election. This will increase premiums and reduce benefits for the 4.5 million people in the program.

Drug companies will start raising prices to pay billions in new taxes they will have to pay starting next year. New taxes on medical devices and insurance companies will show up in higher prices and premiums before long.

Polls may show a temporary increase in the president's popularity, but underlying public opinion about this law is not likely to change just because the president hits the trail to sell it. After all, he made 58 speeches before the measure passed, including two in prime time.

Before that string of speeches the public was in favor of the concept of health-care reform by a ratio of 2 to 1. Afterward, about 60% of the public was opposed to the president's plan. Those who strongly opposed outnumbered those strongly in favor by 2 to 1 or better in most polls.

Tens of millions of ordinary people watched the deliberations, studied the proposals, and made up their minds. Their concerns about spending, deficits and growing government power are not going away.

Nor is their opposition to ObamaCare. According to a new CNN poll, majorities of Americans believe that they will pay more for medical care, the federal deficit will increase, and that government will be too involved in health care under the president's plan.

Democrats claim they've rallied their left-wing base. But that base isn't big enough to carry the fall elections, particularly after the party alienated independents and seniors. The only way Democrats win a base election this year will be if opponents of this law stay home.

To keep that from happening, Republican candidates must focus on ObamaCare's weaknesses. It will cost $2.6 trillion in its first decade of operation and is built on Madoff-style financing. For example, it double counts Social Security payroll taxes, long-term care premiums, and Medicare savings in order to make it appear more fiscally responsible. In reality, ObamaCare isn't $143 billion in the black, as Democrats have claimed, but $618 billion in the red. And giving the IRS $10 billion to hire about 16,000 agents to enforce the new taxes and fees in ObamaCare will drive small business owners crazy.

Republicans have a powerful rallying cry in "repeal, replace and reform." Few voters will want to keep onerous mandates that hit individuals and taxes that hobble economic growth. Rather than spending a trillion dollars on subsidies for insurance companies and Medicaid expansion, as ObamaCare does, Republicans should push for giving individuals the same health-insurance tax break businesses get, which would cost less.

Republicans must also continue to press for curbing junk lawsuits, enabling people to buy insurance across state lines, increasing the amount of money they can sock away tax free for medical expenses, and permitting small businesses to pool risk.

Opponents of ObamaCare have decisively won the battle for public opinion. As voters start to feel the pain of this new program, Republicans will be in a stronger position if they stay in the fight, make a principled case, and lay out a competing vision.

Mr. Rove, the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, is the author of "Courage and Consequence," published this month by Threshold Editions.