This blog site is dedicated to those of us who are interested in seeking the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about events that impact our lives. The site is NOT a Republican or Democratic site. Therefore, there will be NO "spinning" of the facts or "slanting" of the news to favor or disfavor any person, party or group. All of my comments and opinions will flow naturally and be logically supported.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Rand Paul Expounds On His Farm Subsidies Stance, Speaks The Truth.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul elaborated on his opposition to federal farm subsidies Wednesday, saying he is “much more moderate” on the issue than he has been portrayed in the media.
Appearing on WHAS-AM radio in Louisville with host Mandy Connell, Paul was asked how a rural state like Kentucky would fare without agricultural subsidies.
Paul’s Democratic opponent in this year’s race, Attorney General Jack Conway, has criticized Paul, especially in Western Kentucky, for opposing farm subsidies.
“The interesting thing is they start out with that being my position and I’m actually much more moderate than that. You know how moderate I am,” Paul said during the one-hour radio interview.
In a May 10 appearance on Kentucky Educational Television with other Republican primary candidates, Paul said he was not in favor of agricultural subsidies.
“I don’t think federal subsidies of agriculture are a good idea,” he said.
Paul said the subsidies often went to things that weren’t economical, citing ethanol subsidies, and also that aid often went to large corporate farms and “I’m not in favor of giving welfare to business.”
Paul said he had pledged to farmers to support a permanent repeal of the estate tax. There is not such a tax now, he said, but Democrats have shown a willingness to bring it back.
Paul, a Bowling Green eye surgeon making his first bid for public office, said on the Louisville radio show that the federal government first should stop providing subsidies to dead farmers.
He said a survey in Miami last year showed that in that area 234 dead farmers were receiving $9.1 million in subsidies.
“Let’s just agree that we will get rid of subsidies for dead farmers first,” he said.
After that, Paul said, the government should restrict subsidies to farmers who make more than $2 million a year.
Paul said 2,007 farmers last year whose income was greater than $2 million received subsidies.
“Let’s agree that maybe we can cut them out,” he said.
Paul noted that of the $13 billion in farm subsidies last year, $1 billion was spent to tell or pay people not to grow crops. “I don’t think that’s a good idea to pay people not to farm,” he said.
The United States has the greatest farm production in the world, Paul said.
“We are better at it than anywhere in the world. Instead of letting and paying our farms to go fallow, let’s grow more and export it,” he said. “Let’s become a great exporter like we used to be.”
Allison Haley, Conway’s press secretary, said, Kentucky received at least $446 million from the Department of Agriculture “through programs that include helping our Kentucky farmers improve water quality, cope environmental disasters and provide nutritional assistance for women and children. Paul’s willingness to yank these programs away from our farmers is another example of why Kentucky can’t afford Rand Paul.”
In federal fiscal year 2009, Kentucky farmers got more than $265 million in commodities subsidies through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to a publication from the USDA Farm Service Agency.
The payments provided support when the effective price of a certain crop fell below the target price, for instance.
But most of that aid was in payments to ease the transition away from tobacco in Kentucky, money that comes from a fee on manufacturers and importers of tobacco products, the publication said.
The Kentucky Farm Bureau said Wednesday it has not endorsed a candidate in the U.S. Senate race but supports federal aid to farmers.
“Farm policy remains a high priority issue for Kentucky Farm Bureau and we proudly recognize agriculture as one of the most important industries supported in the Commonwealth,” it said in a statement.
“Many Kentucky farmers benefit from farm bill programs and we will continue to follow our policy for maintaining an effective safety net which supports the farmers that produce the best and most affordable food, fiber and renewable energy on which our state, nation and world depends.”
Paul also was asked on the radio show what he thought of Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo’s decision not to take a position in the race between Paul and Conway. Mongiardo lost to Conway by less than 1 percentage point in the May primary election.
Paul said Mongiardo’s comment show that “there are a lot of conservative Democrats in Kentucky, and I think they are going to have trouble struggling with the liberal policies of Conway and the liberal policies of President Obama.
“We plan on working very hard to reach out to the conservative Democrats and say, ‘You know what, Conway is a liberal,’” he said.
Paul also defended attending a recent private fund-raiser in Washington in which nine of the 12 lawmakers who hosted it had voted for the $700 billion bank bailout – a move Paul opposed.
Paul said his position has not changed on the bailout. He said he “still is on the outside but they are talking to me now and that is a good first step.”
He said his “message won, so those people are now endorsing my message. Interestingly, I think the Republican Party has become more conservative and more unified against more bailouts since they are out of power.”
Paul added that he thinks both political parties have not done well in handling the national debt.
“We doubled the debt and now Democrats are tripling it,” he said.
And Paul criticized the Obama administration for waiting until this week to allow foreign countries to help with the Gulf oil spill.
“President Obama has said no because he is protecting the unions,” Paul said.
It appears that four liberal members of the U.S. Supreme Court are oblivious to the clear meaning of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, so we cite it below to refresh their memories.
“A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
It is unfortunate these four members chose not to acknowledge this right the framers of this sacred document put into effect more than 200 years ago.
Fortunately, five conservative members of the high court did understand. The significance of this right to Americans’ freedom and safety is evidenced by a recent court ruling that Americans have a right to own a gun for self-defense anywhere they live.
The 5-4 vote in McDonald vs. Chicago casts doubt on handgun bans in Chicago, but signaled that some limits on the Constitution’s “right to keep and bear arms” could survive legal challenges. Future court battles will focus on what restrictions are reasonable.
This ruling comes two years after the District of Columbia vs. Heller case where the 5-4 majority struck down a ban on handguns and a trigger lock requirement for other guns in the District of Columbia. Because the district is federal, that decision didn’t address whether the ruling applied to states.
But the most recent ruling is unique in that it does apply to states. The ruling doesn’t explicitly strike down the Chicago law. Instead, it ordered a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling, but left little doubt that the statutes would eventually fall.
In essence, the city of Chicago and others that ban handguns will eventually have to adhere to the high court’s ruling.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, an anti-gun proponent, must have been very disappointed in the ruling.
But perhaps Mr. Daley should step back and take a look at the murder rate in his city and wonder why it is so high. He should ask himself if any of these murders could have been prevented if innocent victims were allowed to possess handguns for personal protection for the past 30 years.
It is people like Mayor Daley and other liberals who are simply out of the mainstream. The man who brought this lawsuit against the city of Chicago should be commended for helping undo an ill-conceived and unconstitutional policy implemented by the city.
Over many decades, the Supreme Court has ruled that most of the protections in the Bill of Rights applied to the states as well as the federal government.
For this reason, our nation was long overdue in extending the protection of the Second Amendment to the states.
The Bill of Rights was incorporated into our Constitution to protect the individual against an overreaching government from which Americans had just secured freedom.
Recent high court decisions such as McDonald (gun rights), Kelo (eminent domain) and McCain-Feingold (political speech) are a stark reminder that the court’s liberal wing can be a clear and present danger to our individual protections under the Bill of Rights.
Good News For Rand Paul As Dan Mongiardo Refuses A Con(way), Will "Not Be Taking A Position" In U. S. Senate Race.
Mongiardo 'not taking a position' in U.S. Senate race
Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo said Tuesday that he is “not taking a position” in the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Rand Paul.
“I have spoken with Jack Conway the week after election day and haven’t heard from him since,” Mongiardo said Tuesday night before speaking at the Community Action Council’s Poverty Forum in downtown Lexington.
Mongiardo, a physician from Hazard, was defeated by Conway in the Democratic primary last month by less than 1 percentage point.
Mongiardo also said he is not making plans for a gubernatorial run next year.
“I just got out of a heated campaign. The last thing on my mind is another campaign,” Mongiardo said.
Gov. Steve Beshear plans to seek a second term in 2011, but he has chosen Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson as his running mate because Mongiardo entered the race for the U.S. Senate seat now held by retiring Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Southgate.
Now a few words from the victims Courts need to remember taxpayers
June 29, 2010
Judge Pamela Goodwine
Fayette Circuit Court
Dear Judge Goodwine,
We read where you attached considerable significance to the fact that lots of letters were written in support of a couple of former airport executives who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft, while you received no letters from victims.
"That says something," you were quoted as saying.
Let us suggest another interpretation.
Perhaps what it says is that the taxpayers, who are the victims in this crime, just assumed that you would automatically consider their interests in this and similar cases.
After all, taxpayers elect you. They pay your salary. They rely on you, the courts and public prosecutors to safeguard the integrity of public institutions and punish public corruption.
Justice isn't supposed to be a popularity contest, is it?
We respect that you were well within your authority to let off the Blue Grass Airport's former operations director John Coon and former director of planning and development John Slone with no jail time or probation, even though they had agreed to serve up to a year in prison.
Knowing that was the maximum sentence, they had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit theft. In return, the prosecution dropped a felony charge against each of them.
Despite all that, we figured they'd get no time after you spared a higher-ranking official, John Rhodes, of any jail time or probation, even though he had pleaded guilty to a more serious crime committed in his official capacity as the airport's director of finance and administration.
What really rankles is the rationale you expressed at Friday's sentencing. We resent the suggestion that people who have impressive connections are somehow less accountable for their actions than defendants who have far less going for them and are held more accountable.
Can you say "double standard"?
Also, it should matter that these men were enriching themselves at the expense of the public institution that employed them.
Tax dollars help pay for Blue Grass Airport, where the state auditor detailed more than $500,000 in undocumented or questionable expenses made by seven top officials over a two-year period.
Of those seven, four were indicted. You have rejected the prosecutor's sentencing recommendations and let off three of them with no jail time or probation.
The fourth and final, airport director, Michael Gobb, awaits sentencing in your court.
The late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., was a legend in his own right, from humble beginnings growing up during the Depression to becoming the longest serving senator in our history.
Sadly, he passed away Monday at age 92.
His life was remarkable and a wonderful example of public service and a tribute to longevity.
Byrd rose through the ranks quickly and was first elected to Congress in 1952, where he served three terms before winning his Senate seat in 1958, when Dwight D. Eisenshower was president.
Using his powerful chairman’s position on the Senate Appropriations Committee, the senator brought home billions of dollars to his home state during his career. The extent to which he was able to help his state was a point of contention with many Americans who decry pork spending as frivolous, but undoubtedly, he was always there for the people of West Virginia, who elected him nine times, the last time in 2006.
Byrd, who was Senate majority leader for six years, was sometimes at odds with those in his own party. He led the longest filibuster in history against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, he opposed busing to integrate schools and clashed with presidents of both parties against proposed balanced budget amendments to the Constitution and his opposition to the war in Iraq.
Byrd was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan in his earlier years, but later backed away from the Klan. Although Byrd was involved in this group and wasn’t sensitive at the time on issues of race, he admitted later that his votes were wrong on those issues and later apologized. It should also be remembered that Byrd supported later civil rights bills.
This says a lot about the late senator.
Byrd will be remembered for a lot of things: his stands on principles he firmly believed in, his defending the Senate in its age-old rivalry with the executive branch, no matter which party held the White House; knowing how the Senate operated and most of all, his vast respect of the Constitution, of which he was a fierce and adamant defender.
Those who followed Byrd know he always carried a dog-eared copy of the Constitution in a pocket of his trademark three-piece suits.
He was interesting to listen to. On any given day, one could turn on C-SPAN to watch as the ailing senator quoted from the Constitution, recited poetry, quoted from the Bible and in some cases, discussed the Peloponnesian Wars.
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., summed up Byrd’s career very appropriately by saying Byrd “combined a devotion to the U.S. Constitution with a deep learning of history to defend the interests of his state and the traditions of the Senate.”
While this newspaper didn’t always agree with Byrd on certain issues, we respected him for his commitment to the Senate and our country.
The people of West Virginia have not only suffered a huge loss with the passing of Sen. Robert Byrd, but America has as well.
WASHINGTON -- "End of an era" is an overused trope, but in this case it's appropriate: The last of the old Southern Democrats is gone.
Sen. Robert Byrd had long since repented, of course. The West Virginian, who died Monday at 92, deeply regretted his segregationist past, which included a year as a member of the Ku Klux Klan and at least several more years as a Klan sympathizer. He eventually became a passionate advocate for civil rights, and he was one of the most vocal supporters of legislation making the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. a national holiday.
But that was after Byrd's personal enlightenment. Amid what is sure to be a flood of heartfelt encomiums to his lifetime of public service, it is important to note that his is a story of change and redemption -- and that Byrd and his party had a shameful past to overcome.
In Byrd's first campaign for the House in 1952, his opponent released a letter that Byrd had written to the Klan's imperial wizard in 1946. The date is important because Byrd claimed to have cut ties with the racist organization -- today we would call it a terrorist group -- in 1943. "The Klan is needed today as never before, and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia," Byrd wrote.
This was in the days when the South was a solid Democratic stronghold -- and when the default position of Southern Democrats was to advocate separation of the races. In 1964, Byrd joined other members of his party, led by Richard Russell of Georgia, in trying to kill the Civil Rights Act. Back then, would-be obstructionists were required to actually stage a filibuster rather than just threaten one. Byrd held the Senate floor for 14 hours in an effort that was ultimately as futile as Pickett's Charge.
"Men are not created equal today, and they were not created equal in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was written," Byrd declaimed during his peroration. "Men and races of men differ in appearance, ways, physical power, mental capacity, creativity and vision."
Byrd also opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and most of Johnson's anti-poverty programs, saying that "we can take the people out of the slums, but we cannot take the slums out of the people."
From 1961 to 1969, Byrd chaired a Senate subcommittee that had vast authority over local affairs in the District of Columbia. He supported more federal funding for local services, but also angered local activists with a high-profile crusade to remove ineligible recipients from the welfare rolls.
"His tongue was smoother than butter," recalled the Rev. Walter E. Faun troy, the District's first nonvoting representative in Congress, "but war was in his heart."
That martial spirit was evident in 1968 when riots broke out following King's assassination. "If it requires the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, we should put the troublemakers in their places," he said. Well, he did have a way with words.
Byrd's trajectory -- from bitter segregationist to beloved dean of the Senate -- is actually a hopeful, quintessentially American story. He was a man of his age, and his views on race closely tracked the views of the constituents he so loyally represented. There was a time when separate-but-unequal was a mainstream position among whites in the South, and the fact that Byrd's early words and deeds are so shocking today is a testament to how far the nation has come.
Byrd's career is also a reminder that no political party has a monopoly on wisdom or virtue. It was Southern Democrats who tried desperately to deny equal rights to African Americans, and it was the votes of Northern Republicans that helped pass the landmark legislation. Southern whites switched parties and made the South a GOP bastion. This has been the situation for decades now -- but it won't last forever.
Last week, in my home state of South Carolina, an African American named Tim Scott defeated Strom Thurmond's son in the Republican primary for a seat in the House. The GOP nomination for governor was won by Nikki Haley, who is of Indian descent and was called a "rag head" by one of her good old' boy critics. In Alabama, Rep. Arturo Davis failed to become the first African American to win the Democratic nomination for governor -- largely because he took the African-American vote for granted.
Robert Byrd's amazing career reminds us that times really do change. And so do people.
Eugene Robinson is a Washington Post columnist. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
BREAKING News: U. S. Supreme Court CORRECTLY Finds That The Peoples Right To Bear Arms APPLIES To, And CONSTRAINS, States. I Love It!
The case is MCDONALD ET AL. v. CITY OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, ET AL, No. 08–1521. Argued March 2, 2010—Decided June 28, 2010. Below is a synopsis of the case from the Supreme Court (you can read the case by clicking here):
Two years ago, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. ___, this Court held that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense and struck down a District of Columbia law that banned the possession of handguns in the home. Chicago (hereinafter City) and the village of Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, have laws effectively banning handgun possession by almost all private citizens. After Heller, petitioners filed this federal suit against the City, which was consolidated with two related actions, alleging that the City’s handgun ban has left them vulnerable to criminals. They sought a declaration that the ban and several re-lated City ordinances violate the Second and Fourteenth Amend-ments. Rejecting petitioners’ argument that the ordinances are un-constitutional, the court noted that the Seventh Circuit previously had upheld the constitutionality of a handgun ban, that Heller had explicitly refrained from opining on whether the Second Amendment applied to the States, and that the court had a duty to follow established Circuit precedent. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, relying on three 19th-century cases—United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, and Miller v. Texas, 153 U. S. 535— which were decided in the wake of this Court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause in the Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36. Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded. 567 F. 3d 856, reversed and remanded. JUSTICE ALITO delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II–A, II–B, II–D, III–A, and III–B, concluding that the Four- 2 MCDONALD v. CHICAGO Syllabus teenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment right, recognized in Heller, to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense. Pp. 5–9, 11–19, 19–33. (a) Petitioners base their case on two submissions. Primarily, they argue that the right to keep and bear arms is protected by the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and that the Slaughter-House Cases’ narrow interpretation of the Clause should now be rejected. As a secondary argument, they contend that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause incorporates the Second Amendment right. Chicago and Oak Park (municipal respondents) maintain that a right set out in the Bill of Rights applies to the States only when it is an indispensable attribute of any “ ‘civilized’ ” legal system. If it is possible to imagine a civilized country that does not recognize the right, municipal respondents assert, that right is not protected by due process. And since there are civilized countries that ban or strictly regulate the private possession of hand-guns, they maintain that due process does not preclude such meas-ures. Pp. 4–5. (b) The Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment, originally applied only to the Federal Government, not to the States, see, e.g., Barron ex rel. Tiernan v. Mayor of Baltimore, 7 Pet. 243, 247, but the constitutional Amendments adopted in the Civil War’s aftermath fundamentally altered the federal system. Four years after the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, this Court held in the Slaughter-House Cases, that the Privileges or Immunities Clause protects only those rights “which owe their existence to the Federal government, its National character, its Constitution, or its laws,” 16 Wall., at 79, and that the fundamental rights predating the creation of the Federal Government were not protected by the Clause, id., at 76. Under this narrow reading, the Court held that the Privileges or Immunities Clause protects only very limited rights. Id., at 79–80. Subsequently, the Court held that the Second Amendment applies only to the Federal Government in Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, Presser, 116 U. S. 252, and Miller, 153 U. S. 535, the decisions on which the Seventh Circuit relied in this case. Pp. 5–9. (c) Whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applies to the States is considered in light of the Court’s precedents applying the Bill of Rights’ protections to the States. Pp. 11–19. (1) In the late 19th century, the Court began to hold that the Due Process Clause prohibits the States from infringing Bill of Rights protections. See, e.g., Hurtado v. California, 110 U. S. 516. Five features of the approach taken during the ensuing era are noted. First, the Court viewed the due process question as entirely separate from the question whether a right was a privilege or immunity of national Cite as: 561 U. S. ____ (2010) 3 Syllabus citizenship. See Twining v. New Jersey, 211 U. S. 78, 99. Second, the Court explained that the only rights due process protected against state infringement were those “of such a nature that they are in-cluded in the conception of due process of law.” Ibid. Third, some cases during this era “can be seen as having asked . . . if a civilized system could be imagined that would not accord the particular protection” asserted therein. Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U. S. 145, 149, n. 14. Fourth, the Court did not hesitate to hold that a Bill of Rights guarantee failed to meet the test for Due Process Clause protection, finding, e.g., that freedom of speech and press qualified, Gitlow v. New York, 268 U. S. 652, 666; Near v. Minnesota ex rel. Olson, 283 U. S. 697, but the grand jury indictment requirement did not, Hurtado, supra. Finally, even when such a right was held to fall within the conception of due process, the protection or remedies afforded against state infringement sometimes differed from those provided against abridgment by the Federal Government. Pp. 11–13. (2) Justice Black championed the alternative theory that §1 of the Fourteenth Amendment totally incorporated all of the Bill of Rights’ provisions, see, e.g., Adamson v. California, 332 U. S. 46, 71– 72 (Black, J., dissenting), but the Court never has embraced that theory. Pp. 13–15. (3) The Court eventually moved in the direction advocated by Justice Black, by adopting a theory of selective incorporation by which the Due Process Clause incorporates particular rights contained in the first eight Amendments. See, e.g., Gideon v. Wainright, 372 U. S. 335, 341. These decisions abandoned three of the characteristics of the earlier period. The Court clarified that the governing standard is whether a particular Bill of Rights protection is funda-mental to our Nation’s particular scheme of ordered liberty and sys-tem of justice. Duncan, supra, at 149, n. 14. The Court eventually held that almost all of the Bill of Rights’ guarantees met the requirements for protection under the Due Process Clause. The Court also held that Bill of Rights protections must “all . . . be enforced against the States under the Fourteenth Amendment according to the same standards that protect those personal rights against federal encroachment.” Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U. S. 1, 10. Under this approach, the Court overruled earlier decisions holding that particular Bill of Rights guarantees or remedies did not apply to the States.See, e.g., Gideon, supra, which overruled Betts v. Brady, 316 U. S. 455. Pp. 15–19. (d) The Fourteenth Amendment makes the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms fully applicable to the States. Pp. 19–33. (1) The Court must decide whether that right is fundamental tothe Nation’s scheme of ordered liberty, Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 4 MCDONALD v. CHICAGO Syllabus U. S. 145, 149, or, as the Court has said in a related context, whether it is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition,” Washing-ton v. Glucksberg, 521 U. S. 702, 721. Heller points unmistakably to the answer. Self-defense is a basic right, recognized by many legal systems from ancient times to the present, and the Heller Court held that individual self-defense is “the central component” of the Second Amendment right. 554 U. S., at ___, ___. Explaining that “the needfor defense of self, family, and property is most acute” in the home, ibid., the Court found that this right applies to handguns because they are “the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family,” id., at ___, ___–___. It thus concluded that citizens must be permitted “to use [handguns] for the core lawful purpose of self-defense.” Id., at ___. Heller also clarifies that this right is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradiions,” Glucksberg, supra, at 721. Heller explored the right’s origins in English law and noted the esteem with which the right was regarded during the colonial era and at the time of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. This is powerful evidence that the right was regarded as fundamental in the sense relevant here. That understand-ing persisted in the years immediately following the Bill of Rights’ ratification and is confirmed by the state constitutions of that era,which protected the right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 19–22. (2) A survey of the contemporaneous history also demonstrates clearly that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Framers and ratifiers counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to the Nation’s system of ordered liberty. Pp. 22–33. (i) By the 1850’s, the fear that the National Government would disarm the universal militia had largely faded, but the right to keep and bear arms was highly valued for self-defense. Abolitionist authors wrote in support of the right, and attempts to disarm “Free-Soilers” in “Bloody Kansas,” met with outrage that the constitutional right to keep and bear arms had been taken from the people. After the Civil War, the Southern States engaged in systematic efforts to disarm and injure African Americans, see Heller, supra, at ___. These injustices prompted the 39th Congress to pass the Freedmen’s Bureau Act of 1866 and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to protect the right to keep and bear arms. Congress, however, ultimately deemed these legislative remedies insufficient, and approved the Fourteenth Amendment. Today, it is generally accepted that that Amendment was understood to provide a constitutional basis for protecting the rights set out in the Civil Rights Act. See General Building Contractors Assn., Inc. v. Pennsylvania, 458 U. S. 375, 389. In Congressional debates on the proposed Amendment, its legislative proponents in the 39th Congress referred to the right to keep and bear arms as a fun- Cite as: 561 U. S. ____ (2010) 5 Syllabus damental right deserving of protection. Evidence from the period immediately following the Amendment’s ratification confirms that that right was considered fundamental. Pp. 22–31. (ii) Despite all this evidence, municipal respondents argue that Members of Congress overwhelmingly viewed §1 of the Fourteenth Amendment as purely an antidiscrimination rule. But while §1 does contain an antidiscrimination rule, i.e., the Equal Protection Clause,it can hardly be said that the section does no more than prohibit dis-crimination. If what municipal respondents mean is that the Second Amendment should be singled out for special—and specially unfavorable treatment, the Court rejects the suggestion. The right to keep and bear arms must be regarded as a substantive guarantee, not a prohibition that could be ignored so long as the States legislated in an evenhanded manner. Pp. 30–33. JUSTICE ALITO, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTICE SCALIA, and JUSTICE KENNEDY, concluded, in Parts II–C, IV, and V, that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause incorporates the Second Amendment right recognized in Heller. Pp. 10–11, 33–44. (a) Petitioners argue that that the Second Amendment right is oneof the “privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”There is no need to reconsider the Court’s interpretation of the Privi-leges or Immunities Clause in the Slaughter-House Cases because, for many decades, the Court has analyzed the question whether par-ticular rights are protected against state infringement under theFourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. Pp. 10–11. (b) Municipal respondents’ remaining arguments are rejected be-cause they are at war with Heller’s central holding. In effect, theyask the Court to hold the right to keep and bear arms as subject to adifferent body of rules for incorporation than the other Bill of Rights guarantees. Pp. 33–40. (c) The dissents’ objections are addressed and rejected. Pp. 41–44. JUSTICE THOMAS agreed that the Fourteenth Amendment makes the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms that was recog-nized in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. ___, fully applicable to the States. However, he asserted, there is a path to this conclusion that is more straightforward and more faithful to the Second Amendment’s text and history. The Court is correct in describing the Second Amendment right as “fundamental” to the American scheme of ordered liberty, Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U. S. 145, 149, and “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and traditions,” Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U. S. 702, 721. But the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which speaks only to “process,” cannot imposethe type of substantive restraint on state legislation that the Court asserts. Rather, the right to keep and bear arms is enforceable 6 MCDONALD v. CHICAGO Syllabus against the States because it is a privilege of American citizenship recognized by §1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides, inter alia: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” In interpreting this language, it is important to recall that constitutional provisions are “ ‘written to be understood by the voters.’ ” Heller, 554 U. S., at ___. The objective of this inquiry is to discern what “ordinary citizens” at the time of the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification would have understood that Amendment's Privileges or Immunities Clause to mean. Ibid. A survey of contemporary legal authorities plainly shows that, at that time, the ratifying public understood the Clause to protect constitutionally enumerated rights, including the right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 1–34.
ALITO, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II–A, II–B, II–D, III–A, and III–B, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, and THOMAS, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Parts II–C, IV, and V, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and SCALIA and KENNEDY, JJ., join. SCALIA, J., filed a concurring opinion. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion. BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG and SO TOMAYOR, JJ., joined.
Editor's comment: it is rather clear the dissenters, Justices Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor have NO clear understanding of the constitutional guarantees of the Second Amendment!
Also, notice, as you MUST, that in Chicago, ONLY the BAD guys and gals have ALL the guns; the law abiding citizens are the ones NOT armed to defend themselves!
Update: In another ruling issued today, the court a Christian university group cannot constitutionally bar gays from its membership in violation of school's anti discrimination statute, while group demands recognition and funding from school.
The case is, CHRISTIAN LEGAL SOCIETY CHAPTER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, HASTINGS COLLEGE F THE LAW, AKA HASTINGS CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP v. MARTINEZ ET AL. No. 08–1371, and can be read by following this link here.
The Feuding Fathers Americans lament the partisan venom of today's politics, but for sheer verbal savagery, the country's founders were in a league of their own. Ron Chernow on the Revolutionary origins of divisive discourse. By RON CHERNOW
In the American imagination, the founding era shimmers as the golden age of political discourse, a time when philosopher-kings strode the public stage, dispensing wisdom with gentle civility. We prefer to believe that these courtly figures, with their powdered hair and buckled shoes, showed impeccable manners in their political dealings. The appeal of this image seems obvious at a time when many Americans lament the partisan venom and character assassination that have permeated the political process.
Unfortunately, this anodyne image of the early republic can be quite misleading. However hard it may be to picture the founders resorting to rough-and-tumble tactics, there was nothing genteel about politics at the nation's outset. For sheer verbal savagery, the founding era may have surpassed anything seen today. Despite their erudition, integrity, and philosophical genius, the founders were fiery men who expressed their beliefs with unusual vehemence. They inhabited a combative world in which the rabble-rousing Thomas Paine, an early admirer of George Washington, could denounce the first president in an open letter as "treacherous in private friendship…and a hypocrite in public life." Paine even wondered aloud whether Washington was "an apostate or an imposter; whether you have abandoned good principles, or whether you ever had any."
Such highly charged language shouldn't surprise us. People who spearhead revolutions tend to be outspoken and courageous, spurred on by a keen taste for combat. After sharpening their verbal skills hurling polemics against the British Crown, the founding generation then directed those energies against each other during the tumultuous first decade of the federal government. The passions of a revolution cannot simply be turned off like a spigot.
By nature a decorous man, President Washington longed for respectful public discourse and was taken aback by the vitriolic rhetoric that accompanied his two terms in office. For various reasons, the political cleavages of the 1790s were particularly deep. Focused on winning the war for independence, Americans had postponed fundamental questions about the shape of their future society. When those questions were belatedly addressed, the resulting controversies threatened to spill out of control.
The Constitutional Convention of 1787 had defined a sturdy framework for future debate, but it didn't try to dictate outcomes. The brevity and generality of the new charter guaranteed pitched battles when it was translated into action in 1789. If the constitution established an independent judiciary, for instance, it didn't specify the structure of the federal court system below the Supreme Court. It made no reference to a presidential cabinet aside from a glancing allusion that the president could solicit opinions from department heads. The huge blanks left on the political canvas provoked heated battles during Washington's time in office. When he first appeared in the Senate to receive its advice and consent about a treaty with the Creek Indians, he was so irked by the opposition expressed that he left in a huff. "This defeats every purpose of my coming here," he protested.
Like other founders, Washington prayed that the country would be spared the bane of political parties, which were then styled "factions." "If I could not go to heaven but with a party," Thomas Jefferson once stated, "I would not go there at all." Washington knew that republics, no less than monarchies, were susceptible to party strife. Indeed, he believed that in popularly elected governments, parties would display their "greatest rankness" and emerge as the "worst enemy" to the political system. By expressing narrow interests, parties often thwarted the popular will. In Washington's view, enlightened politicians tried to transcend those interests and uphold the commonweal. He was so opposed to anything that might savor of partisanship that he refused to endorse congressional candidates, lest he seem to be meddling.
In choosing his stellar first cabinet, President Washington applied no political litmus test and was guided purely by the candidates' merits. With implicit faith that honorable gentlemen could debate in good faith, he named Alexander Hamilton as treasury secretary and Jefferson as secretary of state, little suspecting that they would soon become fierce political adversaries. Reviving his Revolutionary War practice, Washington canvassed the opinions of his cabinet members, mulled them over at length, then arrived at firm conclusions. As Hamilton characterized this consultative style, the president "consulted much, pondered much; resolved slowly, resolved surely." Far from fearing dissent within his cabinet, Washington welcomed the vigorous interplay of ideas and was masterful, at least initially, at orchestrating his prima donnas. As Gouverneur Morris phrased it, Washington knew "how best to use the rays" of intellect emitted by the personalities at his command.
During eight strenuous years of war, Washington had embodied national unity and labored mightily to hold the fractious states together; hence, all his instincts as president leaned toward harmony. Unfortunately, the political conflicts that soon arose often seemed intractable: states' rights versus federal power; an agrarian economy versus one intermixed with finance and manufacturing; partiality for France versus England when they waged war against each other. Anything even vaguely reminiscent of British precedent aroused deep anxieties in the electorate.
As two parties took shape, they coalesced around the outsize personalities of Hamilton and Jefferson, despite their joint membership in Washington's cabinet. Extroverted and pugnacious, Hamilton embraced this role far more openly than Jefferson, who preferred to operate in the shadows. Although not parties in the modern sense, these embryonic factions—Hamiltonian Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans—generated intense loyalty among adherents. Both sides trafficked in a conspiratorial view of politics, with Federalists accusing the Republicans of trying to import the French Revolution into America, while Republicans tarred the Federalists as plotting to restore the British monarchy. Each side saw the other as perverting the true spirit of the American Revolution.
As Jefferson recoiled from Hamilton's ambitious financial schemes, which included a funded debt, a central bank, and an excise tax on distilled spirits, he teamed up with James Madison to mount a full-scale assault on these programs. As a result, a major critique of administration policy originated partly within the administration itself. Relations between Hamilton and Jefferson deteriorated to the point that Jefferson recalled that at cabinet meetings he descended "daily into the arena like a gladiator to suffer martyrdom in every conflict."
The two men also traded blows in the press, with Jefferson drafting surrogates to attack Hamilton, while the latter responded with his own anonymous essays. When Hamilton published a vigorous defense of Washington's neutrality proclamation in 1793, Jefferson urged Madison to thrash the treasury secretary in the press. "For God's sake, my dear Sir, take up your pen, select the most striking heresies, and cut him to pieces in the face of the public." When Madison rose to the challenge, he sneered in print that the only people who could read Hamilton's essays with pleasure were "foreigners and degenerate citizens among us."
Slow to grasp the deep-seated divisions within the country, Washington also found it hard to comprehend the bitterness festering between Hamilton and Jefferson. Siding more frequently with Hamilton, the president was branded a Federalist by detractors, but he tried to rise above petty dogma and clung to the ideal of nonpartisan governance.
Afraid that sparring between his two brilliant cabinet members might sink the republican experiment, Washington conferred with Jefferson at Mount Vernon in October 1792 and expressed amazement at the hostility between him and Hamilton. As the beleaguered president confided, "he had never suspected [the conflict] had gone so far in producing a personal difference, and he wished he could be the mediator to put an end to it," as Jefferson recorded in a subsequent memo. To Hamilton, Washington likewise issued pleas for an end to "wounding suspicions and irritating charges." Both Hamilton and Jefferson found it hard to back down from this bruising rivalry. To his credit, Washington never sought to oust Jefferson from his cabinet, despite their policy differences, and urged him to remain in the administration to avoid a monolithic uniformity of opinion.
Feeding the venom of party strife was the unrestrained press. When the new government was formed in 1789, most newspapers still functioned as neutral publications, but they soon evolved into blatant party organs. Printing little spot news, with no pretense of journalistic objectivity, they specialized in strident essays. Authors often wrote behind the mask of Roman pseudonyms, enabling them to engage in undisguised savagery without fear of retribution. With few topics deemed taboo, the press lambasted the public positions as well as private morality of leading political figures. The ubiquitous James T. Callender typified the scandalmongers. From his poison-tipped pen flowed the expose of Hamilton's dalliance with the young Maria Reynolds, which had prompted Hamilton, while treasury secretary, to pay hush money to her husband. Those Jeffersonians who applauded Callender's tirades against Hamilton regretted their sponsorship several years later when he unmasked President Jefferson's carnal relations with his slave Sally Hemings.
At the start of his presidency, Americans still viewed Washington as sacrosanct and exempt from press criticism. By the end of his first term, he had shed this immunity and reeled from vicious attacks. Opposition journalists didn't simply denigrate Washington's presidential record but accused him of aping royal ways to prepare for a new monarchy. The most merciless critic was Philip Freneau, editor of the National Gazette, the main voice of the Jeffersonians. Even something as innocuous as Washington's birthday celebration Freneau mocked as a "monarchical farce" that exhibited "every species of royal pomp and parade."
Other journalists dredged up moldy tales of his supposed missteps in the French and Indian War and derided him as an inept general during the Revolutionary War. In his later, anti-Washington incarnation, Thomas Paine gave the laurels for wartime victory against the British to Gen. Horatio Gates. "You slept away your time in the field till the finances of the country were completely exhausted," Paine taunted Washington, "and you had but little share in the glory of the event." Had America relied on Washington's "cold and unmilitary conduct," Paine insisted, the commander-in-chief "would in all probability have lost America."
George Washington pleaded with Alexander Hamilton to end his feud with Thomas Jefferson, saying he hoped that "liberal allowances will be made for the political opinions of one another." He continued, "Without these I do not see how the reins of government are to be managed, or how the union of the states can be much longer preserved."
Another persistent Washington nemesis was Benjamin Franklin Bache, grandson of Benjamin Franklin, and nicknamed "Lightning Rod, Jr." for his scurrilous pen. In his opposition newspaper, the Aurora, Bache questioned Washington's loyalty to the country. "I ask you, sir, to point out one single act which unequivocally proves you a FRIEND TO THE INDEPENDENCE OF AMERICA." Resurrecting wartime forgeries fabricated by the British, he raised the question of whether Washington had been bribed by the Crown or even served as a double agent.
So stung was Washington by these diatribes that Jefferson claimed he had never known anyone so hypersensitive to criticism. For all his granite self-control, the president succumbed to private outrage. At one cabinet session, Secretary of War Henry Knox showed Washington a satirical cartoon in which the latter was being guillotined in the manner of the late Louis XVI. As Jefferson recalled Washington's titanic outburst, "The President was much inflamed; got into one of those passions when he cannot command himself," and only regained control of his emotions with difficulty. A few years later, in a strongly worded rebuke to Jefferson, Washington reflected on the vicious partisanship that had seized the country, saying that he previously had "no conception that parties" could go to such lengths. He hotly complained of being slandered in "indecent terms as could scarcely be applied to a Nero, a notorious defaulter, or even to a common pick-pocket." To Washington's credit, he tolerated the press attacks and never resorted to censorship or reprisals.
As it turned out, the rabid partisanship exhibited by Hamilton and Jefferson previewed America's future far more accurately than Washington's noble but failed dream of nonpartisan civility. In the end, Washington seems to have realized as much. By his second term, having fathomed the full extent of Jefferson's disloyalty, he insisted upon appointing cabinet members who stood in basic sympathy with his policies. After he left office, he opted to join in the partisan frenzy, at least in his private correspondence. He no longer shrank from identifying with Federalists or scorning Republicans, nor did he feel obliged to muzzle his blazing opinions. To nephew Bushrod Washington, he warned against "any relaxation on the part of the Federalists. We are sure there will be none on that of the Republicans, as they have very erroneously called themselves." He even urged Bushrod and John Marshall to run as Federalists for congressional seats in Virginia.
Only a generation after Washington's death in 1799, during the age of Andrew Jackson, presidents were to emerge as unabashed chieftains of their political parties, showing no qualms about rallying their followers. The subsequent partisan rancor has reverberated right down to the present day—with no relief in sight. —Ron Chernow is the author of "Alexander Hamilton" and "Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr." His next book, "Washington: A Life," is due out in October.
"The dons, the bashaws, the grandees, the patricians, the sachems, the nabobs, call them by what names you please, sigh and groan and fret, and sometimes stamp and foam and curse, but all in vain. The decree is gone forth, and it cannot be recalled, that a more equal liberty than has prevailed in other parts of the earth must be established in America."
PRESTONBURG, Ky. -- Ashley Judd has angered some eastern Kentucky officials with a speech to the White House Press Club denouncing mountaintop removal.
WYMT-TV reports Judd said she was proud of being from eastern Kentucky but said mountaintop removal is destroying the Appalachian Mountains she loves.
State Sen. Johnny Ray Turner told the television station he thinks Ashley Judd's comments were "off base."
Turner said mountaintop removal has been good for eastern Kentucky and its economy.
Turner and Prestonsburg tourism officials said they are inviting Judd to play a round of golf at the Stonecrest Golf Course in Floyd County, built on a reclaimed mine site, and discuss her concerns with them.
Another U. S. Senate Race Pits Mitch McConnell Against Sarah Palin, This Time It's In Washington State.
Washington State GOP split in another tea party challenge Les Blumenthal
WASHINGTON — Though they are both running against Washington, D.C., and the political establishment, Dino Rossi and Clint Didier have been in the nation's capital seeking support and campaign cash.
The two Republican Senate candidates from Washington state are wooing different D.C. networks.
Rossi is taking the more traditional route, heavy on meetings with the National Republican Senatorial Committee; its chairman, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Republican senators already have thrown one fundraiser for him and he's expected to receive support from a group formed by Bush political adviser Karl Rove and backed by corporate contributors.
Didier has met with Tea Party favorite Ron Paul, and a former Washington Redskins teammate, bad boy John Riggins, threw a fundraiser for him. He has talked with GOP chairman Michael Steele and met with conservative groups ranging from the Eagle Forum to the Family Research Council and the National Right to Life to Americans for Tax Reform.
A Senate race that wasn't even on the national radar screen a few months ago has suddenly become one of the hottest in the nation. If Republicans have a chance of picking up the nine seats they need to gain control of the Senate, it could come down to contests in Washington state, California and Wisconsin.
Rossi's entry into the race turned the Washington state Senate contest into one being closely watched. Rossi, who ran twice unsuccessfully for governor and was urged to run for the Senate by national Republican leaders, is expected to give incumbent Democratic Sen. Patty Murray a tough race. Murray has faced strong candidates before and won. But she seeks her fourth term amid a rising Republican tide and growing frustration and anger with Congress and the White House.
Yet Rossi may not have the clear shot at Murray that he's been expecting. Bolstered by the wins of Republican outsiders in primaries in Nevada and Kentucky, the decision of the incumbent Republican governor in Florida to run for re-election as an independent because of a strong conservative challenger, and the ouster of a Republican senator in Utah by conservative GOP forces, Didier's campaign has started to gain some traction.
Though his poll numbers are routinely in the single digits, an endorsement from Sarah Palin and a well-received appearance at the state Republican convention has given the Didier campaign some buzz. A Rasmussen Reports telephone poll released Friday showed Didier with surprising strength should he make it to the general election, trailing Murray 48 percent to 40 percent. Rossi was tied with Murray at 47-47.
"Rossi is the establishment candidate," said Stuart Rothenberg, a well-respected national political analyst. "He has to be aware Didier is in the race. He has to run a race. He can't take anything for granted."
Jennifer Cook, who analyzes Senate races for the Cook Report, agreed.
"I don't think you can ignore anyone with Tea Party backing," she said.
Even so, both Rothenberg and Duffy said Rossi's biggest advantage and Didier's biggest problem is a primary system in which the top two candidates, regardless of their party affiliation, advance to the general election.
"It's a jungle primary," Duffy said. "Didier doesn't get Rossi one on one. The rules work against Didier."
So far, Rossi is pretty much ignoring Didier and cranking out almost daily press releases attacking Murray.
Asked whether Rossi was paying attention to the Didier campaign, Jennifer Morris, a Rossi spokeswoman who joined the campaign after serving as a spokeswoman for Senate GOP leader McConnell, said, "Dino is focused on Washington state families, improving the economy and brining jobs back to Washington state. Murray has an 18-year record, and as a member of leadership she has a lot to answer for."
Katherine Serkes, a Didier adviser, said Rossi is vulnerable.
"He is trying to assume the mantle of frontrunner as an anointed position," Serkes said. "This is not the year a candidate with party support can be comfortable."
During one of his two trips to Washington, D.C., Didier met with the political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, but not to ask for money, Serkes said.
"Clint wanted to let them know this is a race," she said. "They assured Clint they would stand on the sidelines through the primary. We were glad to hear them affirm their official position."
Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the GOP campaign committee, said the group will not endorse in the primary, but he acknowledged it had encouraged Rossi to run.
"This could be a pivotal race on the national landscape," Walsh said.
The GOP campaign committee has already set up a website attacking Murray. Their Democratic counterpart, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, set up a website attacking Rossi even before he entered the race.
The Democrats are also doing what they can to promote the Didier storyline and give Rossi heartburn.
Murray isn't sitting on the sidelines waiting to see if Didier distracts Rossi.
"I have never had an election where pundits didn't say, 'This is her toughest race ever,'" Murray said in an interview. "I'm fine with that."
But Duffy said she thought the Murray campaign seemed anxious.
"Rossi is the strongest candidate she has faced," Duffy said. "He is known statewide, he can raise money and he is not from the Eastside. I think they (the Murray campaign) look nervous. They are ramping up early. It's for a good reason."
Duffy now rates the Washington Senate race a tossup.
Rothenberg still thinks Murray has the upper hand, but it's close.
"We still have the race leaning Democratic," he said. "We think she will win. She is always underestimated because of her style. Washington state is still hard for Republicans. But it's a bad cycle for Democrats and it's a good year to be a Republican."
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Administrators of a legal defense fund set up for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have 90 days to return nearly $400,000 to donors, after an ethics investigator determined the fund was illegal.
The Alaska Fund Trust inappropriately used the word "official" on its website, wrongly implying that it was endorsed by Palin in her role as governor, State Personnel Board investigator Timothy Petumenos said Thursday.
But Petumenos also found that Palin - the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee - acted in good faith and relied on a team of attorneys, all but one from outside the state, to make sure the fund was lawful and complied with the Alaska Executive Branch Act.
Palin's attorney, Thomas Van Flein of Anchorage, said he recommended that the fund's status be vetted by state attorneys before it was established, but that advice was not taken.
Van Flein said the trust brought in about $390,000 before Palin stepped down as governor July 26, 2009. More than $33,000 has since been donated, but Van Flein said that money will go toward $87,680 the trust has incurred in administrative and other expenses.
"She supports this process 100 percent, and I think she agreed to this resolution because it was the right thing to do," Van Flein said. "She never instructed anybody to do anything that would not comply with federal law or state law."
Another defense fund was set up Thursday for Palin as a private citizen to pay off the rest of the debt.
Van Flein said Palin herself never received any money from the first trust, which prompted an ethics complaint against her.
"As soon as it was questioned, she froze all action on it, and waited for the independent council to investigate and make a determination," he said.
Petumenos, an attorney, said another problem with the Alaska Fund Trust involved the selection of a public official to administer it. Petumenos' report notes that Kristan Cole holds positions on important boards and commissions, including an appointment by Palin to the Board of Agriculture and Conservation.
Thursday's findings are an outgrowth from a preliminary, confidential report by another board investigator that also implicated Palin. Petumenos said the first investigator, attorney Thomas Daniel, withdrew as independent counsel for the personnel board after Palin challenged the participation of his law firm, which had ties to President Barack Obama, who defeated Palin's former running mate John McCain in the presidential election.
The earlier report was issued less than two weeks after Palin announced she was resigning from office last July.
In announcing her resignation, Palin cited the toll of the ethics probes as one of the reasons she was stepping down. She has said she racked up at least $500,000 in legal fees.
Palin's friends and supporters created the Alaska Fund Trust in April 2009, limiting donations to $150 per person. The ethics complaint was filed soon after by Eagle River resident Kim Chatman, who alleged Palin was misusing her official position and accepting improper gifts.
Palin's former spokeswoman, Meghan Stapleton, posted a message about the defense fund resolution on Palin's Facebook page, thanking supporters for contributing to the trust and adding that people can contribute to the new fund.
Van Flein was asked whether a legal defense fund was proper for Palin, who has reportedly made at least $12 million from her best-selling book and other media deals in the past year.
"To me this is really a public debt that she has taken the burden on privately," Van Flein said. "So I don't expect her - and I don't think the public expects her - to take out her own checkbook for what is really a cost of doing business as a public official."
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway will be a no-show during Vice President Joe Biden's visit to a Kentucky manufacturing plant next week to promote the federal stimulus program.
When Biden is in Louisville on Monday touting the stimulus program as a jobs creator, Conway will be in Washington, D.C., with former Sen. Wendell Ford, Conway campaign spokeswoman Allison Haley said Friday. The trip has been planned for weeks, but Haley didn't have details about Conway's visit.
Biden, the nation's second-ranking Democrat, will make his pitch for the stimulus program at the headquarters of GE Appliances & Lighting in Louisville, Conway's hometown.
Conway would welcome President Barack Obama to Kentucky, and that extends to Biden, Haley said.
"He would welcome it as an opportunity to discuss their differences," she said, citing energy and environmental policy and the health care overhaul that Conway says needs to be improved.
Conway, the state's attorney general, is running against Republican Rand Paul for the seat of GOP Sen. Jim Bunning, who is retiring after two terms.
Paul's campaign immediately pounced on Conway's absence at Monday's event, even while linking the Democratic candidate to Obama's administration.
"Jack Conway may try to run away from his own party's leadership, but he can't hide the fact that he would be another rubber stamp for the agenda of Barack Obama," Paul campaign manager Jesse Benton said.
Benton tried to associate Conway with "big government" advocates, blaming them for record budget deficits and the health care overhaul.
Obama was trounced twice in Kentucky during his successful run for the presidency in 2008 - first by Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primary and by Republican Sen. John McCain in the general election.
Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, both Democrats, plan to join Biden at the GE event, according to a release from the White House.
Yarmuth said he invited Biden to his district to see firsthand how the stimulus program and tax credits for energy-efficient appliances have reinvigorated GE operations at its Appliance Park in Louisville.
"I am thrilled Vice President Biden is visiting Louisville to witness one of the great manufacturing revitalization success stories," Yarmuth said.
The White House release said GE is making a $600 million investment to expand production at Appliance Park. It said the investment was backed by $24.8 million in tax credits that GE received as part of the stimulus to retrofit and retool production for three new lines of energy-efficient products.
GE plans to add some 830 jobs at Appliance Park through 2013, thanks to the new products.
Production of new hybrid electric water heaters is to begin in 2011, followed by the new washers in 2012 and matching driers the following year.
The work force stands at about 4,100 at Appliance Park, down from a peak of nearly 23,000 in the 1970s.
Dick Cheney's Heart Is Thumping Again, Resulting In Hospitalization.
This from Politico.com:
Dick Cheney was hospitalized Friday after experiencing discomfort and visiting his doctor. The statement from his office: “Former Vice President Cheney was not feeling well and was seen this afternoon by his doctors in their offices at George Washington University. On the advice of his physicians, he was admitted to the hospital for further testing. He is expected to remain in the hospital over the weekend.”
Gen. Stanley McChrystal's greatest contribution to the war in Afghanistan may turn out to be forcing everyone to focus on it. The real news there this week was not Gen. McChrystal's epic faux pas and dismissal but that 12 soldiers were killed on June 7-8, including five Americans by a roadside bomb, making that "the deadliest 24 hour period this year," as The Economist noted. Insurgency-related violence was up by 87% in the six months prior to March. Agence France-Presse reported Thursday that NATO forces are experiencing their deadliest month ever.
There have been signal moments in this war since its inception, and we are in the middle of one now.
It has gone on almost nine years. It began rightly, legitimately. On 9/11 we had been attacked, essentially, from Afghanistan, harborer of terrorists. We invaded and toppled the Taliban with dispatch, courage and even, for all our woundedness, brio. We all have unforgettable pictures in our minds. One of mine is the grainy footage of a U.S. cavalry charge, with local tribesman, against a Taliban stronghold. It left me cheering. You too, I bet.
But Washington soon took its eye off the ball, turning its focus and fervor to invading Iraq. Over the years, the problems in Afghanistan mounted. In 2009, amid a growing air of crisis, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates sacked the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan—institutional Army, maybe a little old-style. He was replaced by Gen. McChrystal—specials forces background, black ops, an agile and resourceful snake eater. "Politicians love the mystique of these guys," said a general this week. Snake eaters know it, and wind up being even more colorful, reveling in their ethos of bucking the system.
Last August, Gen. McChrystal produced, and someone leaked, a 66-page report warning of "mission failure." More troops and new strategy were needed. The strategy, counterinsurgency, was adopted. That was a signal moment within a signal moment, for at the same time the president committed 30,000 more troops and set a deadline for departure, July 2011. The mission on the ground was expanded—counterinsurgency, also known as COIN, is nation building, and nation building is time- and troop-intensive—but the timeline for success was truncated.
COIN is a humane strategy not lacking in shrewdness: Don't treat the people of a sovereign nation as if they just wandered across your battlefield. Instead, befriend them, consult them, build schools, give them an investment in peace. Only America, and God bless it, would try to take the hell out of war. But the new strategy involved lawyering up, requiring troops to receive permission before they hit targets. Some now-famous cases make clear this has endangered soldiers and damaged morale.
The Afghan government, on which COIN's success hinges, is corrupt and unstable. That is their political context. But are we fully appreciating the political context of the war at home, in America?
The left doesn't like this war and will only grow more opposed to it. The center sees that it has gone on longer than Vietnam, and "we've seen that movie before." We're in an economic crisis; can we afford this war? The right is probably going to start to peel off, not Washington policy intellectuals but people on the ground in America. There are many reasons for this. Their sons and nephew have come back from repeat tours full of doubts as to the possibility of victory, "whatever that is," as we all now say. There is the brute political fact that the war is now President Obama's. The blindly partisan will be only too happy to let him stew in it.
Republican leaders such as John McCain are stalwart: This war can be won. But there's a sense when you watch Mr. McCain that he's very much speaking for Mr. McCain, and McCainism. Republicans respect this attitude: "Never give in." But people can respect what they choose not to follow. The other day Sen. Lindsey Graham, in ostensibly supportive remarks, said that Gen. David Petraeus, Gen. McChrystal's replacement, "is our only hope." If he can't pull it out, "nobody can." That's not all that optimistic a statement.
The U.S. military is overstretched in every way, including emotionally and psychologically. The biggest takeaway from a week at U.S. Army War College in 2008 was the exhaustion of the officers. They are tired from repeat deployments, and their families are stretched to the limit, with children reaching 12 and 13 without a father at home.
The president himself is in parlous position with regard to support, which means with regard to his ability to persuade, to be believed, to be followed. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows more people disapprove of Mr. Obama's job performance than approve.
When he ran for president, Mr. Obama blasted Iraq but called Afghanistan the "good war." This was in line with public opinion, and as a young Democratic progressive who hadn't served in the military, he had to kick away from the old tie-dyed-hippie-lefty-peacenik hangover that dogs the Democratic Party to this day, even as heartless-warlike-bigot-in-plaid-golf-shorts dogs the Republicans. In 2009 he ordered a top-to-bottom review of Afghanistan. In his valuable and deeply reported book "The Promise," Jonathan Alter offers new information on the review. A reader gets the sense it is meant to be reassuring—they're doing a lot of thinking over there!—but for me it was not. The president seems to have thought government experts had answers, or rather reliable and comprehensive information that could be weighed and fully understood. But in Washington, agency analysts and experts don't have answers, really. They have product. They have factoids. They have free-floating data. They have dots in a pointillist picture, but they're not artists, they're dot-makers.
More crucially, the president asked policy makers, in Mr. Alter's words, "If the Taliban took Kabul and controlled Afghanistan, could it link up with Pakistan's Taliban and threaten command and control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons?" The answer: Quite possibly yes. Mr. Alter: "Early on, the President eliminated withdrawal (from Afghanistan) as an option, in part because of a new classified study on what would happen to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal if the Islamabad government fell to the Taliban."
That is always the heart-stopper in any conversation about Afghanistan, terrorists and Pakistan's nukes. But the ins and outs of this question—what we know, for instance, about the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service, and its connections to terrorists—are not fully discussed. Which means a primary argument in the president's arsenal is denied him.
It is within the context of all this mess that—well, Gen. Petraeus a week and a half ago, in giving Senate testimony on Afghanistan, appeared to faint. And Gen. McChrystal suicide-bombed his career. One of Gen. McChrystal's aides, in the Rolling Stone interview, said that if Americans "started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular."
Maybe we should find out. Gen. Petraeus's confirmation hearings are set for next week. He is a careful man, but this is no time for discretion. What is needed now is a deep, even startling, even brute candor. The country can take it. It's taken two wars. So can Gen. Petraeus. He can't be fired because both his predecessors were, and because he's Petraeus. In that sense he's fireproof. Which is not what he'll care about. He cares about doing what he can to make America safer in the world. That means being frank about a war that can be prosecuted only if the American people support it. They have focused. They're ready to hear.
Congress Reaches Compromise On Financial Regulation, POTUS Barack Obama Hails Deal. Read More Below.
Obama hails sweeping revamp of financial regulation By Steve Thomma, Kevin G. Hall and David Lightman
TORONTO — President Barack Obama Friday hailed a congressional agreement on the broadest revamp of financial regulation since the Great Depression, hoping it would give him more leverage at a weekend summit in Canada to convince the rest of the world to do the same.
"We need to act in concert," Obama said at the White House before boarding Air Force One for the flight to Toronto and his third economic summit that is expected to plot a global path out of the worst recession since the 1930s.
"This crisis proved, and events continue to affirm that our national economies are inextricably linked. And just as economic turmoil in one place can quickly spread to another, safeguards in each of our nations can help protect all nations," said the president.
The agreement between House and Senate negotiators on a new framework of financial regulation — reached at dawn Friday after a marathon 20-hour session — promised to give Obama his second major legislative accomplishment this year after health care.
It also could give him a stronger hand heading into meetings with the leaders of the world's top 20 economies. It would be a welcome counter to the much weaker position he has on the question of whether top nations should keep spending to stimulate the economy, which he is urging them to do. European leaders are rejecting his pleas and moving to rein in spending, and debt.
Obama did not address the spending question Friday, deciding instead to focus on his looming success at winning sweeping new financial regulations.
"We are poised to pass the toughest financial reform since the ones we created in the aftermath of the Great Depression," he said. "Early this morning, the House and Senate reached an agreement on a set of Wall Street reforms that represents 90 percent of what I proposed when I took up this fight."
And the final product did have the administration's fingerprints. Treasury officials huddled into the wee hours with moderate members of the House of Representatives and liberal senators, trying to bridge differences on tough to get with banks. On several occasions during the late night debate, Republicans mocked their Democrat counterparts for doing the administration’s bidding.
The president said he wants a “strong and robust” finance industry and private sector, but the financial collapse of 2008 showed the need for greater regulation.
“The reforms making their way through Congress will hold Wall Street accountable so we can help prevent another financial crisis like the one that we’re still recovering from,” Obama said.
Asked whether the agreement would make it through the Senate, where it will take 60 votes, the president quipped: “You bet.”
Indeed, that’s why Treasury officials worked so hard to bridge differences not only between Democrats, but with moderate Republicans such as new Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.
The most significant accomplishment in the legislation was that it reinstated a partial ban on risky betting by commercial banks. Negotiators reached a compromise that would limit commercial banks from engaging in Wall Street trading if they're also conducting trading activities on behalf of clients.
Separation between deposit-taking commercial banks and so-called proprietary trading had been in effect since the Great Depression under the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. However, deregulation in recent decades weakened that traditional separation and the act was repealed in 1999.
The repeal helped spark outsized risk taking on Wall Street that led to the financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent deep recession. Restoring parts of the ban became a mission for Democrats, but it proved to be among the most controversial elements of new rules for Wall Street.
Efforts to restore at least partial separation between commercial banks and Wall Street speculation has become known as the Volcker Rule. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, an adviser to the Obama administration, championed the concept over the reservations of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Under the compromise Dodd first announced Thursday, deposit-taking commercial banks could still invest in hedge funds and private equity funds, but their participation in these high-risk funds would be limited. Banks could own no more than 3 percent of such funds, and the investment couldn't exceed 3 percent of the bank's capital.
The move to allow some bank investment in hedge funds was intended to win support from Sen. Brown, the Massachusetts Republican., according to an industry official who requested anonymity because of proximity to the negotiations. Brown, one of four Republicans who supported the broad Senate bill, sought flexibility for Boston-based bank State Street, which has asset-management funds that could be affected by the restrictions.
Dodd said he sought to balance the need to limit risky betting by banks and the need of banks to hedge some of the risks they face in their lending business.
"We tried to strike a balance," said Dodd.
At the conclusion of the marathon session, he added, “After great debate we have produced a strong Wall Street reform bill that will change the way our financial services sector is regulated."
Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch flourished in an era of deregulation, until 2008, when Bear Stearns was sold in a brokered fire-sale deal by regulators in March, followed by the collapse of Lehman Brothers six months later.
To avoid a similar fate, surviving investment banks moved quickly to become bank holding companies and qualify for taxpayer rescue funds. Merrill Lynch was acquired by Bank of America, at the time the strongest commercial bank.
Agreement on the Volcker Rule cleared the path for overnight negotiations on the thorniest portion of the legislation, a requirement that commercial banks spin off their trading operations for derivatives, a market of lightly regulated and highly complex financial instruments valued above $200 trillion.
The tougher derivatives language was in the Senate version of the legislation, but not in the House's, and the issue divided Democrats into camps. Moderate House Democrats threatened to withhold support from a final bill if the provision stayed, while liberal Senate Democrats threatened the same if it was dumped.
"This bill gets weaker by the day," complained Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., the chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.
The compromise will require banks to spin off their riskier investments, but maintain trading in more plain vanilla derivatives that involve bets on the movement of interest rates or the rise and fall of the U.S. dollar against foreign currencies.
Before addressing those two most difficult issues, negotiators agreed to numerous compromises. They allowed banks to escape prepaying billions of dollars into a fund to dissolve other banks whose failure could bring down the entire financial system.
In a blow to consumer advocates, lawmakers agreed that auto dealers who offer financing to customers should be exempt from direct regulation by a new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. The Pentagon took the unusual step of writing letters to negotiators calling for tougher regulation of auto lending, citing predatory lending practices aimed at members of the armed services.
Although he opposed the exemption for auto dealers, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, conceded Thursday afternoon that he lacked the votes to block it.
Also to the ire of consumer advocates, lawmakers accepted a Senate compromise that would order the Securities and Exchange Commission to study for six months a rule to require everyone who provides investment advice to act in the best interests of their clients. Currently, financial advisers have this fiduciary duty, but broker-dealers and insurance agents who sell financial products don't.
Consumer advocates retained one ray of hope, however. The compromise would allow the SEC to begin a rulemaking process to impose such a standard if it sees fit.
"We expect the agency to stand up for Main Street investors," said Denise Voigt Crawford, the Texas Securities Commissioner and the president of the North American Securities Administrators Association.
WASHINGTON -- It was 95 degrees in the Rose Garden. Reporters dripped with sweat. Vice President Joe Biden's brow glistened. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' face was pink and Gen. David Petraeus' was red.
But the sight before them was rare enough to be worth the suffering: The commander in chief was being commanding.
Without benefit of his favorite transitional object -- the teleprompter malfunctioned at the start of his remarks -- President Barack Obama stood, preternaturally cool and dry, on the steps leading to the Oval Office and delivered some of the most forceful words of his presidency.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal's conduct, he said, "does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system."
Obama had decided, with "regret but also with certainty," that his top commander in Afghanistan had to be sacked for the insubordination that he and his staff had displayed in a Rolling Stone article. "I welcome debate among my team, but I won't tolerate division," Obama said.
For those craving strong presidential leadership, it was reassuring to hear unequivocal words such as "certainty" and "won't tolerate" on Obama's lips -- and even more reassuring that he was acting on those sentiments. The president, too often passive in the face of challenges to his authority, correctly recognized that McChrystal's insults to him and his advisers threatened to weaken his administration. For 36 hours, he flirted with a Jimmy Carter-esque response -- expressing anger in words but not deeds -- before finally taking decisive action.
McChrystal, on the morning of his firing, made it apparent that he still didn't understand the gravity of his offense. Arriving at the Pentagon, he was asked by NBC News whether he had offered his resignation. "Come on, you know better than that. No!" he replied.
McChrystal and his men had labeled the president timid and disengaged, called the national security adviser a clown, referred to Biden as "Bite Me" and otherwise trashed top diplomats and allies -- and it wasn't the first time the general had publicly defied the White House. That it wouldn't occur to him to at least offer his resignation was one more reason he had to go.
Obama made quick work of the general. McChrystal arrived at the White House after 9:30 a.m. and was gone by 10:30; White House aides said he spent less than half an hour in the Oval Office. He emerged from the West Wing with his top teeth over his bottom lip -- a grin? a grimace? -- and was whisked away in a waiting minivan, not to return.
In the Situation Room under the White House, Obama and his national security team mapped out their Afghanistan policy under Petraeus, the hero of the Iraq surge who, in agreeing to lead the Afghan campaign, was essentially taking a demotion from his top job at the U.S. Central Command.
Upstairs in the briefing room, reporters awaiting the announcement watched the World Cup on TV. A huge cheer erupted when the United States scored a late goal to beat Algeria and advance to the second round.
Finally, the real announcement was ready, and reporters were led into the broiling Rose Garden. The teleprompters on the lawn were playing a test message: "Abraham Lincoln. Gettysburg, Pa., November 19, 1863. Four score and seven years ago ... " It was an apt warm-up for another president from Illinois who was about to fire his own Gen. McClellan.
Obama's best moments as president -- pushing health care legislation across the finish line and defying his own party to escalate the fight in Afghanistan -- have come when he resisted his cautious instincts and took bold action. He had another such moment in the Rose Garden on Wednesday.
He vowed anew to do "whatever is necessary to succeed in Afghanistan." He encouraged the skeptics, many from his own political base, "to remember what this is all about: Our nation is at war." As important, he let his critics know that there are limits to how far he can be pushed.
"Our democracy depends upon institutions that are stronger than individuals," he said. "That includes strict adherence to the military chain of command and respect for civilian control over that chain of command."
Those could have been dismissed as "just words," to use the phrase Hillary Clinton once applied to Obama. But this time, Obama gave the words meaning.
Dana Milbank is a Washington Post reporter. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
U. S. Supreme Court Rules Public Can Know Who Signed Political Petitions. Read More Below.
Sign a political petition? Supreme Court says the public can know.
The case centered on a Washington State referendum on a domestic partnership law. Fear of harassment, the Supreme Court ruled, is not enough to keep petition signers anonymous.
In an 8-to-1 decision in Doe V. Reed, the high court said public disclosure of referendum petitions does not as a general matter violate the First Amendment. But the court also stressed that under certain circumstances, petition signers may be able to remain anonymous.
“Those resisting disclosure can prevail under the First Amendment if they can show a reasonable probability that the compelled disclosure [of personal information] will subject them to threats, harassment, or reprisals from either government officials or private parties,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.